Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2-Disc Special Edition)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8.5 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor (voice)
Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne / Batman (voice)
Tim Daly as Clark Kent / Superman (voice)
Xander Berkeley as Nathaniel Adam / Captain Atom (voice)
Corey Burton as Captain Marvel (voice)
Ricardo Chavira as Clifford Zmeck / Major Force (voice)
Allison Mack as Karen Starr / Power Girl (voice)
John C. McGinley as John Corben / Metallo (voice)
CCH Pounder as Amanda Waller (voice)
LeVar Burton as Jefferson Pierce / Black Lightning (voice)

Special Features:
- Sneak Peek at DC Universe's Upcoming Movie Justice League Crisis on Two Earths
- Blackest Night: Inside the DC Comics Event
- A Test of Minds: Superman and Batman featurette giving us a fresh and revitalized look at the team-up of Superman and Batman working together despite their often competitive and challenging relationship
- Dinner with DCU and Special Guest Kevin Conroy - The Voice of Batman Shares a Meal and Talks with a DC Universe Creative Team
- Bruce Timm Presents 2 Bonus Cartoons
- Digital Copy of Film

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.40:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish, French, and Portuguese Language
Spanish, French, and Portuguese Subtitles
Running Time: 87 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

"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. From Executive Producer Bruce Timm and voiced by the cast from both hit Batman and Superman animated TV series including Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly and Clancy Brown, this DC Universe Original Animated Movie of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness's popular graphic novel seethes with political intrigue and action-packed battles between heroes all believing they're on the right side of the law."

"Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" is rated PG-13 for action violence throughout and a crude comment.

Mini-Review:
I actually read "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" when it first came out in the comics. For those unfamiliar with Jeph Loeb's recent writing style, he basically takes the main character, puts him in a slightly ridiculous situation that may ignore previous continuity, then has him fight as many heroes and villains as possible. That's exactly what you get in this movie. While I'm pretty tired of it in the comics, sometimes a knockdown, drag out fight is exactly what you want to see. On that front, "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" delivers.

This movie features Superman and Batman fighting most of the B-grade villains in the DC Universe. They include Gorilla Grodd, Black Manta, Metallo, Banshee, Mr. Freeze, and a bunch of others that I don't even know the names of. But they also battle a number of misguided heroes, too, including Power Girl, Captain Atom, Captain Marvel, Hawkman, and others. The animation in these scenes is simply incredible. Seeing Superman and Batman cutting loose against these guys in order to save the world (and their own skins) is quite impressive. The animation also uses the original designs by Ed McGuinness, pointy eyebrows and all. It's an interesting take on the characters that we haven't seen in the cartoons before. The male characters look like they're about to explode on steroids, but that's part of the comic stylization they were going for.

A major plot point is that Lex Luthor is elected President, then uses his newfound power to torment Superman. When Superman refuses to pledge loyalty to Lex, he puts a bounty on his head that brings every super villain out of the woodwork to collect it. It's a decent enough setup, but it does feel a bit dated. It comes across as more anti-Bush rhetoric like you'd see from 2001 to 2008. But even if you can get past that, the story gets a bit more ridiculous as Lex goes mad and takes matters into his own hands. I won't spoil it here in case you haven't seen the story, but it faithfully follows the Loeb story which dials the outrageousness up to 11 in the finale.

Any kid walking by this DVD at Wal-Mart is going to beg their parents to buy it. Any parent who's being responsible will notice the PG-13 rating on the back. So what gives it the higher rating? Well, in the opening there's a clip of a Daily Show-like host providing political commentary and he says something like the public may want "a red hot poker shoved up their f***ing a**es". It's bleeped out, but you get the idea. In another scene, Lex Luthor calls his female assistant a "b**ch". Besides Power Girl's cleavage and a little blood during the battles, that's pretty much it as far as qualifying it for PG-13. So it's not enough to make it gritty and satisfy older fans looking for a hardcore, animated film, but it's just enough to make parents of younger children not want to buy it. I think it was a poor decision on WB's part. Either go all out for the PG-13 rating or make it OK for all audiences.

If you're a Superman or Batman fan and you're looking for some mindless comic violence, "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" is required viewing for you. If you're looking for a little deeper plot and dialogue with your animation, I suggest you go back to "Batman: The Animated Series".

The Two-Disc Special Edition has a respectable number of bonus features. First up is a digital copy of the film for your portable devices. But note that there's an expiration date on it! It's only good for 1 year. Plus you have to download it off the internet. It's not on a disc. Second, there's a long featurette called "A Test of Minds: Superman and Batman." In it, a number of writers and psychologists deconstruct Superman and Batman's personas. They made an interesting comparison of Superman to a firefighter in that he's reactive, saving people in trouble. Batman on the other hand is compared to a cop, being proactive in stopping trouble and dealing with the criminal element. It was some interesting insight into the characters. Another featurette is entitled " Dinner with DCU and Special Guest Kevin Conroy." It's an interview between Batman's voice, the casting director, Bruce Timm, and a DC representative. They discuss the development of the original Batman Animated Series and everything Conroy has done since. While watching them eat is a little awkward, they have a lot of cool trivia about the show. Then there's a preview of their next movie entitled "Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths." We see James Woods doing the voice of Owl Man, Mark Harmon doing Superman, Gina Torres as an evil Wonder Woman, and more. It looks pretty good! Rounding things out are some features seen on other WB animated DVD's such as a Behind the Scenes of the DC Comics event "Blackest Night," some cartoon episodes selected by Bruce Timm, and more.

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