Saturday, May 28, 2011

All-Star Superman: A Shining Animated Adaptation

Volume One of Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman is a revelation.  Morrison invigorates the character with a fresh, modern sensibility.  One of my favorite moments (which embraces the most implausible elements of the character) takes place during a prison break, where Clark's glasses fall off, and Luthor hands them to him - a moment that clearly defines Clark Kent, far more than a pair of spectacles, as the real disguise.

Volume Two is less satisfying.  Morrison is a very imaginative writer whose strengths often lie more in presenting ideas than completing a story (his work on New X-Men is case and point to this - where the second half of the run couldn't satisfactorily pay off the groundwork laid behind it).  Volume Two suffers similarly.  While it has some interesting new ideas thrown into the mix, it lacks the strong narrative drive that had tied together the episodes of Volume One.

So I was a little nervous when I sat down to watch the animated adaptation, as film more so than comic books demands a narrative payoff.  As it turns out, there was no need to worry.

A very clever and judicious adaptation, the script pares and adapts the book's episodes into a satisfying three act structure.  The skill of the adapters was seen in those elements they sacrificed - (including Morrison's most cherished creation for the series, Dr. Leo Quintum, who appears only briefly at the bookends of the film).

Also to great effect - some new voice actors that haven't been heard in previous Superman animated films.  The voice acting is universally excellent, but of special note are James Denton's calmly subdued Superman, Christina Hendricks' sophisticated Lois Lane, and Anthony LaPaglia's envious and intelligent Lex Luthor.

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