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Blu-ray review: ‘The Death of Superman: Limited Edition Gift Set’

August 11, 2018

Man of Steel fans once again get to see their beloved hero perish at the claws of Doomsday in The Death of Superman: Limited Edition Gift Set (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 81 minutes, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $24.98).

For those hard-core devotees of DC Entertainment’s PG-13 animated movie releases over the years, you might be thinking, “Gee, this looks kind of familiar?”

Well, that would be sort of correct. Warner released as its inaugural PG-13 cartoon to the franchise “Superman: Doomsday” back in 2007. It managed to greatly condense and mangle the original 1990s classic comic book series into 75 minutes of aggravation for Superman fans.

Director Sam Liu and screenwriter Peter J. Tomasi re-adaptation now revisits the dramatic and occasionally emotional story, but they have more time to pack in deeper detail, somewhat more authentic to the books, within a two-part, adventure.

The result for this first part is getting more uncomfortable relationship moments with the lovebirds Lois and Clark (including Clark’s big reveal), plenty more time with the Justice League trying to stop Doomsday, dinner with Ma and Pa Kent, and Lex Luthor trying to save the day.

We also get more characters including mad scientist Dabney Donovan, Superman superfan Bibbo Bibbowski and a pinch of super villain Cheetah, John Henry Steel (the future Steel), Hank Henshaw (the future Cyborg Superman) and the Atlantis queen Mera.

While on the topic of more, it’s also more of the same cookie-cutter animation that has plagued many of the films. It really, really hurts trying to appreciate the better story here when the character model of Superman looks that lame. At one point, my audience noticed his face at a slight profile almost looked identical to Aquaman’s mug.

And, I also would have preferred 1990s costuming and not the new fangled garb tied to the New 52 comics designs unleashed in the 2011.

So here’s a thought, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros Animation: If you must rehash a cartoon that viewers have already basically seen, why not give the team that made the visually astounding “Batman Ninja” a crack at readapting the death-of-Superman storyline.

I’ll guarantee that it would have looked better that this eye-boring effort.

By the way, the movie ends with his death but teases the early 2019 sequel “Reign of Supermen” that will cover who handles Superman’s duties during his absence and his eventual resurrection.

I will agree that it was a much better idea to cover the comic book story in two parts, but it’s still a cash grab, and it really should have been done in the 2007 release, and not 11 years later.

Ultimately, I still recommend reading the original comic books (via DC’s online digital format) to appreciate this epic publicity stunt (I mean story) that featured the work of 10 creators with inspired art from Dan Jurgens, Jon Bogdanove and Tom Grummett

Best extras: First, viewers get roughly a 10-minute preview of “Reign of Supermen,” with words from the writers Jim Krieg and Tim Sheridan. It features plenty of colorful comic book art and animation of the principals Steel, Cyborg Superman, Superboy and Eradicator.

Next, a 16-minute look at the origins of the massive fight scene between Superman and Doomsday, that lasted four issues in the comic books, offers an awesome collection of comic art to scrutinize, balanced by too much promotion of the new cartoon sequences.

The best part is listening to DC creative director Mike Carlin and Mr. Bogdanove as they discuss the origins of the villain and the battle.

The segment even includes martial arts Christian Medina analyzing the techniques used by the opponents in the animated battle.

Finally, as usual with most of DC’s major animated releases, viewers get a peak into Warner Bros. cartoon archives. Specifically, they can enjoy a pair of 2008 episodes from the short-lived Kids’ WB series, “Legion of Super-Heroes.”

Offering parts one and two of “Dark Victory,” the 30th century story finds Brainiac 5 teaming up with Imperiex to unintentionally unleash his evil side and features the death of a Superman.

And (if that wasn’t enough?) contained in the gift set, owners receive a 4-inch-tall, plastic statue of a capeless Superman with his blue costume in tatters to reveal some bloodied scratches and the big guy’s muscle-bound flesh.

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