This is an early review of Warner Brother’s latest direct to video DC animated feature. WB Animation has a really good track record with these releases. I feel that the production values of the DCU features have been superior to most direct-to-video releases. And “Public Enemies” is no exception. In fact, it may be the best-looking release to date if you like the Ed McGuiness-inspired artwork.
When “Public Enemies” was announced, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. I read Jeph Loeb’s run on Superman/Batman. For me, Superman/Batman was when Loeb embraced big, stupid spectacle over well-written comics. “Public Enemies” made no sense. But Loeb didn’t seem to care as long as he gave McGuiness plenty of big, splashy fight scenes to draw.
The animated adaptation of “Public Enemies” is no different in that respect. The plot follows the same thin storyline. A huge Kryptonite meteor is headed to earth and President Luthor uses it as an opportunity to vilify Superman and Batman. It’s mostly an excuse for Batman and Superman to square off against guest star after guest star.
If anything, the animated version of “Public Enemies” is even bigger and more stupid than the comic book source material. Just about every action any character takes is completely devoid of any rational explanation. If the plot requires that a character needs to be convinced of Superman’s innocence, then one of Luthor’s conspirators conveniently confesses to his crimes within ear shot. It’s that kind of movie.
However, big, dumb animated fight scenes are not without their charms. There’s a certain fanboy thrill to watching Superman and Batman duke it out with Hawkman and Captain Marvel even if the fight defies any kind of logic. And the scene in which an army of villains descend on the heroes in order to collect Luthor’s bounty of one billion dollars is fun if for no other reason than to see the random assortment of villains who are included.
This sort of spectacle plays better in a cartoon than it does a comic book. And the fact that the cartoon does not include Loeb’s annoying Batman/Superman alternating narration is a big plus.
Another major selling point is the voice work. The main voices are familiar to long-time fans of Bruce Timm’s animation. Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly and Clancy Brown all return as Batman, Superman and Lex Luthor respectively. Also, CCH Pounder reprises the role of Amanda Waller from Justice League Unlimited. If only they could have gotten Macolm McDowell and Dana Delaney to reprise their roles as Metallo Lois Lane.
The numerous guest stars in the film include a number of notable cameos. Smallville’s Allison Mack plays the buxom and doe-eyed Power Girl. And John C. McGinley of “Scrubs” takes over the role of Metallo. These are probably the most significant supporting roles and honestly they are too minor to make much of a difference.
Much like the comic it was based on, “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” wears it’s stupidity like a badge of honor. There’s no reason to buy this disc. No one is going to want to watch it repeatedly. But if you are in the mood for some truly mindless superhero smashing, “Superman/Batman” is worth a rental.
Compared with other WB releases, this one ranks high for its production values and low in just about every other way. “Wonder Woman” is still the disc to beat overall.