Friday, November 5, 2010

Advance Movie Review - Superman / Shazam: The Return of Black Adam

Next week DC Comics will release it’s latest entry in their fast-growing animation library. DC Showcase is basically a collection of the previous animated shorts that have appeared with the longer length animated films as extras. So far we have seen The Spectre, Jonah Hex and Green Arrow featured in these shorts and now we add Superman and Captain Marvel to that list. I got a chance to check it out a bit early and really enjoyed this newest entry. Click below for a full review (with spoilers):

Superman / Shazam: The Return of Black Adam

Written by Michael Jelenic
Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos
Starring Zach Callison, James Garner, George Newbern, Arnold Vosloo and Jerry O'Connell

The movie begins with Black Adam returning to Earth from his banishment in space. I honestly don’t remember if this ever happened in the comics since I’m only really familiar with Black Adam from 52 until the present. Black Adam is voiced by Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy, GI Joe: The Rise of COBRA) who does a good job with channeling the menace and hate that Black Adam is known for. Honestly, I think he could play Adam in a live-action Shazam movie. He has the right look and the Middle-Eastern accent to pull it off properly.

The action begins pretty quickly as Adam tracks down Billy, who happens to be getting ready for an interview with……you guessed it, Clark Kent. A chase ensues, Black Adam tears things up and then Superman (voiced by Justice League’s George Newbern) shows up, which was convenient since Clark was in Fawcett City anyway.

During the Superman – Black Adam fight, which is brilliantly choreographed and quite vicious, Billy is guided by a mysterious homeless man to the wizard Shazam’s (voiced wonderfully by James Garner) lair. There he is told about the power he will receive and we get a very short backstory for Black Adam.

Then back to the fight where Billy discovers how to use his powers, becomes Captain Marvel and then aids Superman in handing Black Adam his ass. Jerry O’Connell does an excellent job of creating a character who is super-powered, but still basically a pre-teen boy. He’s excited to be strong and fight beside his favorite superhero, but this is all a bit intimidating and scary for him.

The story wraps up nicely in the end, although Black Adam’s defeat was a little ambiguous. I’m assuming that he chose death over being banished again, but Adam seems to be the type of person who does not die easily. There is also an appearance by everyone’s favorite talking tiger Tawky Tawney, who helps Billy out in the end. He takes human form but does show up as a regular tiger who can talk, instead of his anthropomorphic tiger-wearing-a-suit comic book look.

The animation style is more akin to Public Enemies than anything else, with a bit more anime influence to it. I really noticed the sound design in this one, too. When people are crashing into buildings and streets during the fight sequences, the sound effects really do stand out. Joaquim Dos Santos does his usual bang-up job in the director’s chair making this one of the most enjoyable DC Animated films yet. I know that these shorts are used to showcase characters that could not hold up a full movie on their own, but I honestly would love to see a full-length Captain Marvel movie in the future.

So what’s next for DC Animated? In 2011 we get Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman and it’s rumored that Batman Year One will be given the animated treatment. I’m looking forward to All-Star Superman after seeing the trailer :

I know Morrison’s work isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I did enjoy All-Star Superman and re-read it every so often. I don’t feel that it’s the ultra-amazing story that some do, but I did find it to be a decent read. As for Batman Year One, I’ll be honest here, I’ve never read it which is hard for a Batman fan to admit. mAybe if this does get announced it will force me to check it out before the film gets released.

Hopefully DC keeps kicking these animated movies out because they keep getting better and better but I want them to expand beyond Superman and Batman. Does anyone have any suggestions for future animated projects that they would like to see from DC? Personally I have a few in mind:

Booster Gold / Blue Beetle - with voice work by either Tom Everett Scott who played Booster on Justice League or Neil Patrick Harris who would make a phenomenal Booster.

Secret Six – A Gail Simone penned Six story would be deliciously evil fun. I don’t even know where to begin voice casting for that.

Power Girl - Done in Amanda Conner’s art style would be a good choice, possibly with a story taken from her run on the book.

JSA - Possibly in a WWII era story featuring the original members.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Personallly, I'd like to see a Flash animated feature or a Brave and the Bold one with him and Green Lantern. Metal men would be pretty sweet too.

Heretic said...

Give me a Sandman DVD, please oh please!!!