Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Superman, Batman, Public Enemies

Back when I was a kid, (a long time ago now) I got into some of the things you read about, comics, baseball cards, the real G.I Joes (ones with hair and representing America) and more. I was asked the other day what video games I played. I kinda laughed because I remember the early days, prior to video games, I even had an early Pong and Atari game board. For me a good time was getting a comic down at the grocery store, a bottle of pop, Drinking the pop, reading the comic, saving the pop lid and if I was really lucky, I would be able to save enough pop bottle caps to go to a Saturday matinee at the Majestic in Downtown Johnson City. Now those were the days.

Some things have changed since I was a child, I certainly can’t trade in pop bottle caps to get into a movie, and G.I Joe stands for everything but what the character was created for. Another change is the role of comics. I still love the books; I love the art, storylines, and many of the characters. I still have many, if not most of my comics from the time I was a kid, I think they may be worth a small fortune, but recently, especially within the DC realm, comics have been making more appearances in animated movies. As a critic of this process, I didn’t know what I would think as I decided to purchase and watch one of the new releases to DVD animated movies by the DC Universe. When I saw the special edition on sale at Target, especially for the low price, I decided to give it a shot. I wanted to see if there were any similarities between the new line DVD movies and the old school, comic book editions.

First I have to make mention of the packaging of this product. I seldom take the time to spend the extra money for the extra DVD that is sometimes included in the packaging, but with the low price of this particular product, I took that splurge, and let me tell you, it was well worth the extra few dollars to get the 2 disc version of this movie. The Special Features disc in my opinion is worth the price of the entire package. Throw in the special features on the feature disc, the downloadable version of the movie; it was well worth the approximate $20. You can find a version for around $10, but I would recommend get the 2 disc version. The packaging, art work, and interviews, and additional features on the additional disc are well worth it. I am a geek when it comes to special features and on this point, I have to say, I haven’t been this pleased in a very long time.

Now as to the feature Superman, Batman, Public Enemies; I have to say, one of the things DC is doing that I love is a retelling of story, with respect for the history of the characters. We see quality story being told not just in a way older teens or young adults will enjoy, but in a way that will entertain and challenge the adult audience. Public Enemies teams up two of the classiest comic book heroes of all times, and DC seems to nail the characters down to a t.

The opening scenes of the movie start off in a way that would cause one to think if a fan of the characters at all. Imagine a world with super heroes, especially Superman and Batman where society has been dooped to the point they elect Lex Luthor as President of the United States. Then imagine the safety of the planet is on the line. What would happen if a politician put their ego, their self absorbed desires at a place of priority over the safety of the world? Imagine this egotistical president was able to bring some of the good guys over to his side, and they felt a responsibility to serve him because, he is the President of the United States. Imagine that scenario and you have a good idea of where Superman, Batman, Public Enemies goes.

One of the things I really appreciated about the feature was the inclusion of super heroes you don’t normally see together, not only heroes though, but villains. As the story progresses, we see an inward side of the characters we don’t always see. We see a strained relationship, where real friendship occurs, yet in some ways, the characters are reluctant to share that friendship. It is only when potential tragedy and loss of life occur that we see these characters friendship come to light. It is only then, in many ways, they realize what they have in regards to the relationship that is more often tumultuous than not.

Superman is often referred to as a savior of the planet, that fits within the realm of creation of the character, yet we see Batman as one who willingly cares about Superman, even to the point where he is willing to give his life to save the life of his friend. There are wonderful reminders here for all of us, it isn’t just that we need our own saviors, but sometimes, it is that we need to be willing to show love, and with that love, sometimes comes sacrifice. We can take this beyond just our faith, if we possess faith, we can take it to the relationships we are involved in. In a world where so many seem to be so self absorbed, a relationship that has integrity, and sacrifice is a refreshing breathe of fresh air, even in a animated movie that mirrors a horribly polluted world, not just environmentally, but from a relational perspective.

I really enjoyed this DVD; I enjoyed it so much that I will find myself looking for several other films in the DC vaults they have been making. With the integrity, detail to story, finding people who love the characters writing that story, and then having them share that love for those characters with the audience, I don’t think we can loose. The only disappointing thing about the DVD, and it is a small thing, is that the actual feature itself only lasted 67 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, the story was tight, production, and everything else surprisingly entertaining and filled with quality. I would have enjoyed another 15 or so minutes and find that with a few more minutes of production, this movie would have been good enough for theatrical release prior to DVD release.

All in all, I don’t think you can go wrong if you are a fan of the genera. While it is rated pg-13 I found it appropriate for ages 10 and up and even for younger audiences with parental supervision. I say this with reluctance as it isn’t within my style, but if you have children, this is a good buy for them, and you will find yourself enjoying it as well. In many ways, I think it is even more for adults, but that is for you to decide. As for me, I can’t wait to see it and others from the DC Universe in the very near future.

On a scale of 1 – 10, for the quality story, and the good time I had watching it, take away two DVD’s in the set and one nasty Lex Luthor and you have one very deserving 7.

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