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The Flashpoint Paradox

flashpointparadoxbrdI’ve kept up with all of the DC animated features since this line started back in 2007 or so with the Doomsday one, loosely based on the Death of Superman story from 1992. And while I’ve enjoyed certain ones more than others (New Frontier and Under the Red Hood immediately come to mind)…I have to say that after first viewing, Flashpoint Paradox is in that upper level.

While I own all 6 paperbacks collecting the entirety of the Flashpoint ‘event’ from 2011, I’ve only yet actually read the original mini-series and the Batman tie-in mini-series. So while hardly immersive, I’m not unfamiliar with Flashpoint in general. And perhaps it’s partially that I’m not overly steeped in knowledge of the entire event that helped me to enjoy this, as from what I recall of the comics, this is quite a good adaptation.

My primary “issues” with this film are story-wise, and the same I had with the comics–specifically the way things play out with Barry’s powers, and that against “usual” the ending is–we as viewers/readers are aware–not the actual ending. The comics’ ending kicked off the New 52, and I believe this film leads into New 52-era followups, leaving stuff based on the “old” DC Universe behind (at least for awhile?).

For the most part I had no problems with the visuals…as an animated features this worked very well for me. There wasn’t really much of anything jarring or offputting to me about the animation itself. Some of the character designs were a bit “off” from what I’d’ve expected…but in and of themselves, nothing bad.

flashpointstack

As said, I’ve only (as of this typing) read the “core” Flashpoint comics and the Batman mini…so the allusion to that actually made sense to me. Other stuff–particularly the cameos–were fine with me, because I don’t know the comics’ stories, so for me, there’s nothing of concern missing. And for what I recall of the comics (and granted, it’s been a couple years now), there’s more context to things given in this film than was in the core Flashpoint mini-series, making this a better package in a way.

The voice cast was good…I sorta noticed the familiarity to Lois Lane’s voice, somehow missed it in Superman, and while no Kevin Conroy, Kevin McKidd pulled off a very good Batman. I’m not particularly “set” on any particular Flash voice, to say nothing of being pretty sure the voice I’m familiar with from Justice League and Justice League Unlimited was for Wally, not Barry.

Just as Justice League: The New Frontier led me to buy and read the source material, The Flashpoint Paradox has led me to pull the source material from my shelf and finally make the time to actually read it.

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I bought this for the “promo”/”first week pricing” special at Target…probably the cheapest blu-ray/dvd/digital combo I’ve found for any of these films; and for the $13.99 this was quite worthwhile for the film alone, and I anticipate multiple re-watchings.

The bonus materials are so-so, and rather ‘standard” at this point. Several episodes of past DC animated series, featurette(s) on the focal character/story of the film, a lengthy promo/preview/featurette on an upcoming film, plus the usual stuff–commentary, digital comic that I can’t even read on the tv screen, etc–that I typically ignore.

So all in all…I definitely recommend seeing this…but unless you really care about extras, or the HD (which I’ve never noticed difference between blu-ray/dvd with) you’re probably just as well getting the DVD. And unless you’re in a hurry to see this…it’s not unfathomable to expect that by the time the next animated feature comes out, this one’ll be around the $9.99 price point at your local Target/Walmart type stores. And if this is available in a nearby Redbox kiosk, it seems quite worth an evening’s rental!

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A casual ‘review’ of All-Star Superman

allstarsupermanblurayMonths ago—would’ve been around the release of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse—I was rather surprised to learn that the next feature from the DC/Warner Premiere line of direct-to-home-media features would be All-Star Superman. I just didn’t see it.

The title? That was just an imprint DC was trying. Why not give it some other title to reflect the story a bit more? And being such a niche title years in the past that isn’t really affecting continuity anywhere….

But then, that’s actually the beauty of the thing. A self-contained epic. Nothing came before. Nothing comes after. Just a single, closed arc.

allstarsupermanpageoneI loved the opening. One of the things that jumped out at me initially when I’d read the first issue of the comic series back in late 2004 was the way it took just a handful of panels to sum up all you need to know about Superman’s past.

Doomed planet. Desperate Scientists. Last Hope. Kindly couple.

It was the embodiment of something I’d read during my undergrad years when I was working on a paper; essentially about the way certain elements of key figures in our popular culture are the same through whatever reimaginings.

This film takes that opening—even maintaining the still-shots on the screen, without animation, perfectly (in my mind) capturing that simple opening of the comic…all the more for not feeling the need TO animate the sequence.

allstarsuperman001The rest of the film follows much of the comics’ path, though in far less detail. A lot of time is spent on Lois’ stint as Superwoman. We’re then moved along into Samson and Atlas’ appearance and challenges, to the Kryptonian astronauts, and ultimately back to Luthor for the big finale.

There are slight  nods to other parts of the series—I spotted Bizarro on some sort of chessboard in the Fortress, for example. And we’re given a brief scene in which Clark visits his father’s grave (though that issue when we saw the death of Jonathan was one of the most powerful issues of this series, to me, particularly in retrospect). We also did not get the Jimmy/Doomsday story. allstarsuperman006

The animation itself wasn’t anything spectacular. Watching the blu-ray didn’t make any kind of noticable difference to me. It wasn’t bad, mind you. I did like the “compromise” on the visual style. Quitely’s got a unique visual style that I often like but just as often take issue with, but I didn’t think it was a style I wanted to see mimicked for animation. (To the opposite, I greatly enjoy Ed McGuiness’ visual style used in animation, as on the first Superman/Batman dvd).

Certain touches of Quitely’s art was clearly adapted for this feature, but it was “softened” somehow, for lack of better phrasing offhand. A lot of lines were removed, so that none of the characters appeared lumpy. This made for a sorta different-looking Superman, who seemed a bit older than I’d usually picture, but not in a bad way.

allstarsuperman003The take on Lois was quite good…no complaints there. I was rather interested in how this Lois somehow visually put me in mind of “Bones,” though that comparison may simply be my limited exposure to Bones.

Other than the simplistic fact that we don’t have Tim Daly, Clancy Brown, or Dana Delany, I have no complaints with the voiceacting. In this case, I don’t think I was familiar with any of the voices involved, except perhaps Ed Asner (Perry White). This unfamiliarity allowed me to simply enjoy this for the story and characters, without distraction of visualizing actors behind the characters.

The story overall really felt like it was almost multiple “episodes” made into an overall whole. Coming from having read the comics, and seeing this as an adaptation of the comics, I didn’t mind the way things sort of jump from one to the next—though I was specifically looking for that, having been slightly “spoiled” by comments made on twitter and facebook prior to my watching this—with people expressing frustration at the story jumping and being disjointed.

I can see that, but as said…I took it in stride, and it didn’t bother me, if only for my knowing about it.

mcduffiecreditUnfortunately, especially as excited as I was to pick this up and watch it, news came through online this afternoon that writer Dwayne McDuffie died. I hadn’t even realized that he wrote the  script for this until today. It did seem sorta strange to not see a dedication to him in the end credits…but of course, his passing was so sudden and unexpected.

The package for this film isn’t anything wonderful. The cover image is rather iconic, though, and certainly gets to the heart of the overall story. I’m not at all impressed at the “extras.” I do enjoy the “teaser” shorts for whatever the next film in the line will be (in this case, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights). The Grant Morrison thing wasn’t all that thrilling—it seemed almost “phoned in,” so to speak. Never have been much a fan of commentaries, and this soon after watching, I’m not at all ready to re-watch with the commentary on, so can’t speak to that. If commentaries are you thing…well, there’s that.

I picked up the Target version, which includes a couple episodes of Superman: The Animated Series. One episode was one I’d just watched from the actual Superman: The Animated Series dvd set in the last couple days; and I’m not interested in the other, as I assume that comes later, and plan to watch the series in order.

All in all, HIGHLY disappointed in the “extras,” given how many extra shorts and features and such have been jam-packed into other recent releases—the discrepency between the “special edition” dvd and blu-ray editions with those is what mainly motivated me to go for the blu-ray this time, when I really should have simply stuck to the DVD.

I’d recommend a purchase for the die-hard fans that’ll watch this a few times. For the casual viewer, I recommend a rental. I think if I was going to give this a hard ‘n fast rating, it’s got a good 6.5 or 7 of 10 from me, primarily penalized by the (lack of) extras.

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