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Superman/Batman: Public Enemies(2009)
A desperate solution for a troubled country: Lex Luthor for President with the Justice League in the service of the government. Only Batman and Superman stand against the new regime – and their disloyalty proves to be exactly what Luthor intended. Using their outcast status to instigate a scandal against Superman, Luthor finally tastes a victory in his vendetta against The Man of Steel.
For more about Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and the Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Blu-ray release, see Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 26, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Brian George, Clancy Brown (I), Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Xander Berkeley, Corey Burton
Director: Sam Liu
» See full cast & crew
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Blu-ray Review
A forgettable entry in DC's Original Animated Movie series...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 26, 2009
It's not easy being a fanboy. You might think the prospect of an animated film featuring a team-up between DC Comics' most popular characters would be a godsend; particularly one adapted from artist Ed McGuinness and four-time Eisner Award-winning writer Jeph Loeb's satisfying six-issue run on the ongoing "Superman/Batman" comic series. Alas, it merely makes a mildly entertaining actioner like Public Enemies all the more disappointing. What works on the page doesn't always work on the screen; what functions in a panel doesn't necessarily function in motion; what pushes a reader to flip a page doesn't always pull a viewer from scene to scene. Add to that a truncated script, inconsistent character animation, and dialogue stripped of Loeb's wit and intelligence and you have an unfulfilling letdown. Is it any wonder then that I walked away from Public Enemies and dug out a few issues of "Superman/Batman" to ease my pain?
Public Enemies pits Superman (Tim Daly) and Batman (Kevin Conroy) in a fight for their lives and freedom when longtime Supes nemesis Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown) is elected President of the United States. As one of his first acts in office, Luthor assembles a team of government sponsored heroes and villains at his side -- Captain Atom (Xander Berkeley), Power Girl (Allison Mack), Major Force (Ricardo Chavira), Black Lightning (LeVar Burton), Starfire (Grey DeLisle), and Metallo (John C. McGinley), among others -- and labels any uncooperative superpowered vigilantes as outlaws. The new president capitalizes on his position even further by convincing the public that an approaching kryptonite meteor has transformed Superman into a mentally unstable murderer. Struggling to prove Luthor is the true villain, contend with a cadre of baddies pursuing a bounty on Superman's head, and find a way to stop the deadly meteor headed toward Earth, the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel elicit help from some unexpected allies and come face to face with Luthor himself.
If you haven't had the pleasure of reading Loeb and McGuinness' first Superman/Batman arc, Public Enemies will probably be a more enjoyable film. However, readers will be puzzled by the removal of the comic's key asset: internal dialogue that dissected each hero's personality as well as their distinct crime-fighting philosophies. The panel-to-panel action was always coupled with the thoughts and feelings of its protagonists, a story-telling device that allowed the comic to simultaneously develop its characters and bring each conflict to a physical and psychological head. The film disregards one of these components altogether, leaving little room for depth or emotional resonance. 'Splosions and super-punches are all well and good, but without the mental meat that drives them, it's tough to feel a connection to the blocks of muscle taking so much punishment. Since the film carries a PG-13 rating, I'm not sure why its producers felt the need to dumb down such crucial aspects of its original source. If the story isn't aimed at children, why is its not-so-complex themes seemingly designed for them? Green Lantern: First Flight struck a near-perfect balance, giving audiences plenty of subtleties to chew on. Public Enemies essentially fizzles, presenting Superman and Batman as strictly reactionary warriors whose friendship is little more than a natural pairing rather than a complicated relationship.
That being said, newcomers to the tale won't be leaping out of their seats either. Plot holes run rampant, nuance is apparently a four-letter word, the supporting voice actors barely sell their already limited lines, and character motivations are flat and listless. Luckily, the fights are fierce and frequent, pitting Bats and Supes against an assortment of bizarre third and fourth-tier beasties plucked from the depths of DC lore. Yes, the appearance of a gigantic robot designed to look like an amalgamation of Superman and Batman is at the center of an eye-rolling anticlimax, and yes, Luthor's rise to power is given little explanation or justification (the country is in economic turmoil and he sweeps in to clean it up), but Conroy and Daly, despite sounding a bit too similar, deliver strong performances, while the animation team finds new and interesting ways to make things explode and disintegrate. All things considered, Public Enemies falls somewhere between Superman: Doomsday (in my opinion, the worst of DC's animated films) and Wonder Woman (a problematic but solid offering). I would recommend renting this one before investing any cash -- or high expectations -- in a purchase.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Blu-ray, Video Quality
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies swings onto Blu-ray with a satisfying 1080p/VC-1 transfer that showcases the film's vibrant palette and sharp lines. Even though the action largely unfolds beneath night skies and amidst heavy shadows, the bold primaries of Superman's costume and the inky blacks of Batman's cape and cowl are as beautiful as they come. Splashes of green and purple evoke Ed McGuinness' original art even further, infusing the picture with enough compelling color to propel it through its most dreary sequences. Detail is equally impressive... albeit to a fault. Striking as it may be, the presentation's unforgiving clarity reveals every flaw in the tight lineart and every pixelated edge that pops up throughout the film (and believe me, there are quite a few). While it serves as a testament to Warner's technical transfer, it also leads to some distracting anomalies, some of which may yank videophiles out of the experience. Thankfully, the image is a treat despite such inherent shortcomings. A handful of faint, arguably negligible artifacts make appearances (typically in areas where splashes of color meet the animators' fine lines) and some moderate banding haunts the skies, but severe macroblocking, ringing, noise, and other digital issues are nowhere to be found.
Ultimately, Public Enemies isn't quite as refined as Green Lantern: First Flight, but it's yet another strong showing from Warner and DC Animation that thoroughly thrashes its DVD counterpart.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Sadly, the Blu-ray edition of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies stumbles with a bland and bulky Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track (640kbps); one that combines the shallow, subpar sonics of Green Lantern: First Flight with the sort of standard lossy mixes that have plagued Warner's recent direct-to-video releases. But this isn't Scooby Doo! The Mystery Begins... this is an explosive, action packed animated flick that would really benefit from a TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio track. Dialogue is clean and intelligible, but isn't nearly as crisp or clear as I hoped it would be. Likewise, LFE output is sometimes strong (particularly when Batman takes control of a towering robot) but often pudgy (as it is during the duo's clash with a parade of second tier super-villains), the rear speakers are rarely tasked with anything substantial, and directionality is as two-dimensional as the hand-drawn animation it accompanies. While it amounts to an adequate sonic experience, I frankly expect much more from a high definition release. Warner's Dolby Digital track doesn't capitalize on Public Enemies' potential nor does it enhance the film's chaotic battles. At best it's a passable offering; at worst it's a major disappointment.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies includes all of the supplemental material that appears on the standard DVD release, as well as an extended version of its best offering, an engrossing roundtable chat featuring Batman himself, Kevin Conroy. While I would have enjoyed an audio commentary and a production-specific documentary, the majority of the content is worth watching.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies slapped a permanent "meh" on my tongue. Fanboys will bemoan its inferiority to McGuinness and Loeb's original work, newcomers will shrug their shoulders, and casual comic fans will only enjoy the film enough to justify the cost of renting the disc. Sadly, the Blu-ray edition is just as uneven. While it boasts a commendable video transfer, its lackluster Dolby Digital audio track and relatively short special features leave too much to the imagination. It isn't the worst animated release I've endured, but it certainly doesn't stand alongside the best.
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Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - September 29th - September 29, 2009
According to the Library of Congress, the 1939 film adaptation of the American fairy tale 'The Wizard of Oz' is the most watched film of all time. After a mediocre (but successful) theatrical debut, the film gradually obtained an iconic status through re-releases ...
• Superman/Batman Team-Up Comes to Blu-ray - July 1, 2009
Warner Home Video has announced that it will release the direct-to-video animated movie 'Superman/Batman: Public Enemies' on Blu-ray on September 29, day-and-date with the DVD. This title will be presented on a BD-25, with 1.78:1 VC 1080p video.
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