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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" Review: The Return of the Voice

In one of the special features on the latest DC Universe movie, “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies,” Kevin Conroy says, “I’m just the voice guy.”

But for diehard DC animation fans like me, we know that is the furthest thing from the truth. For us, Conroy is the voice of Batman—the standard by which all others, including Christian Bale, are judged.

So it was great news to hear that Conroy was returning to the role in “Enemies.” And he brings with him Tim Daly, who voiced Superman in “Superman: The Animated Series.” Plus, Clancy Brown is back as Lex Luthor, the role he played in “Superman: TAS” and both “Justice League” animated series.

And it is that core trio that really makes “Enemies” work. Although all three of them pretty much get upstaged by the most fight scenes I’ve ever seen in one of these things. In fact, I would say that “Enemies” is 60+ minutes of butt-kicking action with a little bit of story periodically mixed in…

In “Enemies,” which is based on the graphic novel by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, Lex Luthor has just been elected President. And understandably, Superman is having a hard time dealing with it—especially since Luthor seems to be doing a good job.

But when Luthor appears to extend Superman an olive branch, Superman goes to accept it—against his friend Batman’s wishes. However, as usual, Luthor has a hidden agenda—an agenda that puts a bounty on Superman’s head. Now, Superman and Batman must fight off both villains and superheroes while trying to save Earth from a Kryptonian meteor.

The interplay between Superman and Batman is really the highlight of the movie, as the two trade quips back and forth. And Daly and Conroy are great together. It’s also great to hear the always awesome Xander Berkeley as Captain Atom, one of Luther’s superhero soliders. And CCH Pounder is another welcome return as Luther’s associate, Amanda Waller.

It’s very difficult to condense a graphic novel into a 60-minute movie, and quite frankly, “Enemies” doesn’t always succeed in doing so, as the action and desire to bring in as many characters as possible sometimes overshadows plot. But overall, the movie is pretty entertaining and often quite funny.

And it’s Superman and Batman together. Can you really go wrong with that?

As with the other DC Universe movies, the real treats are the Special Features and the two-disc special edition is chock full of them. Psychologists examine the relationship between Batman and Superman in “A Test of Minds: Superman and Batman.” And Executive Producer Bruce Timm shares two episodes of “Superman: The Animated Series” featuring Batman.

The coolest thing however, is the featurette, “Dinner with DCU and Special Guest Kevin Conroy,” in which the voice of Batman discusses the role over dinner with the DC Universe creative team. We hear all kinds of great Batman nuggets, not only about “Enemies,” but also about “Gotham Knight” and other Conroy Batman projects. It’s a real treat that I could’ve watched for hours.

Plus, as has been the DC Universe movie tradition, we get a sneak peek at the next film, “Justice League Crisis on Two Earths.” And I have to say I was a little disappointed to see that Conroy is not returning to the Batman role—especially after hearing the creative team gush all over him in the featurette. But the trio of William Baldwin (Batman), Mark Harmon (Superman) and Chris Noth (Lex Luthor) should be very interesting...

“Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” is available in one and two-disc editions and on Blu-Ray now…

Photo Credit: SUPERMAN © Warner Bros. Ent Inc. BATMAN © Warner Bros. Ent Inc. “SUPERMAN” and “BATMAN” and all related characters and elements aretrademarks of and © DC Comics. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.