Thursday, 17 January 2019
The Death of Superman
Flat and soft where recent big-screen DC adaptations have gone for grunged-up and spiky, The Death of Superman is the rare animated film that manages to create a palpable void around its characters and situations, a death space that nulls attention. This incredible feat is accomplished both through slack, lackadaisical editing and a screenplay scrambling for the cheery irreverence of a Joss Whedon serial. Despite the grave pugilism promised by the title, an inordinate amount of the film's running time is set aside so we can churn through Clark Kent's big coming out moment with Lois Lane. It's an underdeveloped plot strand that renders Lane atypically bovine while Kent summons up the courage to take off his glasses.
Presumably, these scenes exist to keep this Superman, abnormally inattentive and self-absorbed, from dealing with the film's rampaging threat, Doomsday. Naturally, all the film's best bits revolve around this invincible monster, from his bored pulping of small town policemen to the extra little step he takes after delivering a skull-cracking haymaker to The Flash. The simplistic, multi-camera style set-ups that leave two-thirds of the film feeling like an animated soap opera are abandoned for Death's centrepiece, a twenty minute fight between Superman and a hyper-evolved brute. You can feel thought and consideration bleeding into the film. Teams of animators thinking up new, exciting ways to stage collisions between two ostensibly invulnerable creatures, blowing all the work time and budget they saved by keeping the first 50 minutes routine.