Friday, April 15, 2016

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)

I bought the DVD of this along with the Blu-Ray of Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and some other DC animated movies at a big used movie and book store in Chattanooga the week after my birthday in 2013 in order to check some of them out since I'd heard good things. While I had some knowledge beforehand about that film, I knew nothing about this except that it acted as a follow-up to it, which was the main reason why I bought it. Of course, if you've read my review of Public Enemies, you know that I instantly liked that flick when I watched it and so, I had very high expectations for the next one... and it didn't disappoint. I still like Public Enemies more, in terms of plot, pace, and visuals, while I think the title of this film is rather misleading and there are some aspects of the story here that the movie doesn't take advantage of as much as it could, especially considering its longer running time of 78 minutes as opposed to the previous one's 67 minutes. But, regardless, I still think it's a very well-made piece of animation, with a satisfactory story overall, good use of characters from the comics, great performances by the voice actors, well-written dialogue, exciting action and fight sequences, and an excellent music score. In fact, I'm surprised to see that it generally gets a lot of crap from people, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

A meteorite-like object crashes into Gotham Harbor, prompting Batman to investigate and learn that it's actually a downed spaceship. The ship's occupant, a naked and confused blonde, young woman accidentally climbs aboard the Batboat and causes it to crash. Finding her way to shore, she reveals that she speaks in a strange, otherworldly language and has immense strength and powers similar to Superman. Frightened and disoriented, she runs amok through Gotham, unable to control her powers and accidentally causing a lot of havoc, with Batman trying to stop her. Eventually, he's able to use a piece of Kryptonite that he found near the ship to get her under control. It doesn't take Superman and Batman long to learn that she's Kryptonian and when the latter introduces himself in their native language, she does the same, turning out to be Kara Zor-El, his cousin. Thrilled to have an actual relative and a connection to Krypton, Superman takes Kara under his wing, tries help her adjust and teach her how to live as an inhabitant of Earth. However, Batman remains suspicious of the reason behind her arrival and therefore, he contacts Wonder Woman, who takes Kara to Paradise Island in order to train her so she can get control of her powers since she is an unintentional threat to others as a result. The training is intense and, as a result of his overprotectiveness towards his cousin, Superman argues with Wonder Woman about what's best for Kara, who becomes frustrated since she feels like she's being treated as a child with no say in what happens. Things, however, become more sinister when Superman is told of a disturbing vision experienced by a psychic named Lyla, one of him holding the body of a woman that might be Kara in his arms. She's also continuing to have it and it's becoming more vivid each time. Soon, the vision comes to pass when Darkseid, looking for a replacement for his recently defected leader of the Furies, stages a massive attack on Paradise Island, during which Lyla is killed and Kara is taken back to Apokolips. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman decide to head there to save Kara, although they might be too late to do so since she's been brainwashed to do Darkseid's bidding.

Since the film's focus is on the character of Kara and the events that lead to her becoming an inhabitant of Earth, a member of Superman's family, and, ultimately, Supergirl, it's only fitting that the director is a woman: Lauren Montgomery. She's only been involved with animation since the early 2000's but has already managed to work on a number of well-received projects. Directing-wise, she got her start doing episodes of Legion of Super Heroes and went on to have a hand in directing four DC animated movies before Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, acting as one of the three directors on Superman: Doomsday, co-directed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths with Public Enemies-director Sam Liu, and directed Wonder Woman and Green Lantern: First Flight herself. Since Apocalypse, she's directed two of the segments of Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, reteamed with Liu for Batman: Year One, the Catwoman short that comes an extra on the Blu-Ray of that film, and Justice League: Doom, as well as episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice, and Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated. She's mainly been a storyboard artist since the beginning of her career, working on a number of different shows and movies such as Justice League, Ben 10, Turok: Son of Stone, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Hulk Vs., Planet Hulk, both parts of The Dark Knight Returns, and Justice League: Gods and Monsters. She's also acted as producer on many of the films she's directed and she also did so on the Avatar sequel, The Legend of Korra.

Once again, Tim Daly voices Superman in a very likable and human manner, this time portraying him as being very thrilled at the idea of having an actual living relative and a link to the home planet that he never knew. What's great about him here is how he's completely devoted to making his cousin feel safe and at home on Earth, no matter how strange it may be to her at first. While Batman, as typical of him, is distrustful of Kara and her sudden arrival, Superman never doubts her for a second and does everything he can to take care of her. This leads to him acting more like an overprotective parent than a cousin, arguing with Wonder Woman about what's best for Kara like they're her mom and dad, to the point where Kara becomes frustrated and feels like she's being treated like a child. But, despite these mistakes, there's no denying the love and affection he has for his newfound cousin, how she gives him a comforting sense of not being the only Kryptonian left in the universe, and how he'll do anything to protect her, including going to Apokolips and facing Darkseid when he kidnaps and brainwashes her. Like Lex Luthor, Darkseid is another villain whose acts of undiluted evil absolutely enrage Superman, especially when it affects his cousin. Not only does he go to Apokolips to save Kara but also to avenge Lyla, who had become Kara's friend during her time on Paradise Island and was killed while trying to protect her from Darkseid's forces. So enraged is he by what Darkseid has done that, not only does he promise to come back and deal with him when he initially tries to take Kara away, but after the final battle at the Kent farm in Smallville, Superman gives him a very clear death threat right before he's sent into the Boom Tube: "Don't ever come here again, or you won't be going back." Ultimately, after all of the battles they go through and the bond they form, Superman, not wanting to be like Darkseid in a way), decides that Kara has to choose her own life on Earth, which ultimately leads to her making the choice to become Supergirl, no doubt allowing for their relationship to grow even closer. Design-wise, while I prefer the way he looked in Public Enemies, Supes still looks pretty cool here, and it's also nice to see him as Clark Kent, which you never saw in that film, as he shows Kara that's important for beings with powers like them to have normal lives.

Supergirl has never been a character that I've found that interesting or eager to see more of but, that said, I think that Kara Zor-El (voiced by Summer Glau) is portrayed and developed very well here. The film does a pretty good job of giving you a sense of what she's going through being a stranger to Earth who not only has lost her entire planet but also saw her parents die right in front of her before managing to escape, is trying to find her place in this new world where her only family is her newly discovered cousin, and has powers that she has a hard time getting a handle on and which, she admits, frighten her. On top of that, she's not only distrusted by Batman but is also ambushed and taken away by Wonder Woman to Paradise Island, where she's put through some pretty intense training to try to get her powers under control, and then by Darkseid to Apokolips, where she's brainwashed and turned loose on her cousin. She goes through quite the arc in this story and, again, I think they handle it very well. The relationship between her and Superman is an interesting one in that she's the only person in his life who refers to him as Kal-El and, while she does appreciate what he's doing for her and loves him, she begins to wish he would back off and stop trying to make decisions for her, which makes her feel like she has no control over her own life. As for Wonder Woman, she initially sees her as another overbearing person who's trying to control her life but, in the end, she comes to appreciate what she does for her. It takes her a while for her to warm up to Batman, whose suspicious nature and off-putting personality really get to her, to the point where she refers to him as "Grumpy-Ass," although after what they go through, the two of them do grow to have respect for each other. Going back to the resentment that she starts to feel towards her cousin for his unintentionally overbearing and controlling nature, Darkseid's brainwashing appears to bring it to the surface, to where she tells him that he doesn't listen and that she doesn't want to leave Apokolips, before proceeding to brutally fight him, intending to kill him so she can ensure her life as the commander of Darkseid's forces and have a real sense of belonging. After she's released from the mind control, Kara herself wonders if Darkseid brought out some evil that was already within her. Ultimately, with support from her cousin and everyone else, she intends to make her own decision about how she'll live her life on Earth, which is hammered home during the final battle when Darkseid tells her that her life will be nothing and she responds, "But it'll be my life." She aides Superman in defeating Darkseid and sending him packing, going as far as to change the coordinates of the Boom Tube he uses to where he ends up drifting away into space rather than escape back to Apokolips. It's also the fear for her cousin's life that she experiences during the battle that makes her decide to become a hero in her own right.

If I have any negatives about Kara's depiction, it's that, while we definitely get a sense of the frustration and confusion she's going through, we never actually get to see much of it. When it comes to adapting to life as a normal Earthling, all we get is a sequence of her going clothes-shopping with Clark, during which she's all smiles and excited rather than frustrated because things are turning out to be more difficult than she initially imagined. We don't get to see her struggling to learn English within a week of arriving, her having to deal with the really crappy things about being a normal, everyday person, her getting inevitable attention from young men except for a moment she never even knows about when Clark glares at a couple of guys who check her out, or, most importantly, her still having trouble controlling her powers, save for a moment during that shopping montage where she accidentally tears the door to a dressing room off its hinges and the damage she causes while trying to help Clark when the two of them are ambushed in the park. We don't even get to see the struggle she went through of adapting to being on Paradise Island or the really tough training she went through, save for one battle that Superman puts a stop to. We're simply told of how long things have been going on and how tough they've been, and while Glau's performance as Kara does get across the idea that it's taking its toll on her, it still would have been nice to actually experience it with her as well. Granted, that would have probably made the movie very long but, so what? Is it a rule that animated movies have been to be in the 80-minute ballpark? And if it wasn't so in the comic, then take the opportunity to expand on it a little bit. If so, I think it's possible this film may have been considered even better than its source material. But, other than that, I find Kara's portrayal here to be a success overall. As for her design, while it is appealing and well-done for the most part (her skin tone's a bit too dark for me, though), I wish they'd toned down the fanservice, with all those rather revealing clothes they have her wearing throughout the film. She is very sexy, yes, but the amount that they show it off gets a bit ridiculous after a while. Although, it is funny when, while trying on clothes, she suggests a rather skimpy, black outfit and when Clark says, "Uh, no way," she decides, "Perfect. I'll take it." The way she looks when she's under Darkseid's control? Whoo, and yet, she still manages to come across as sinister and intimidating. And while it is great to finally see her embrace her powers and put on the Supergirl outfit at the end, they yet again have to design it in a fan-service way, as if we hadn't had enough from her and the other female characters, as we'll see.

Even though his name is in the title, Batman is actually a supporting character in this story, although he's still voiced by Kevin Conroy, which is cool. Being the cynic that he is, he's very suspicious of Kara's sudden appearance and the fact that she doesn't remember anything in-between the death of her parents on Krypton and when she arrived on Earth. His suspicions are also aroused when tests he performs on her show that she might actually be more powerful than Superman, which probably make him think that she's not who she says she is but rather is some weapon sent to kill Superman. One thing he's definitely sure of is that her inability to control her powers makes her dangerous, and when Superman takes her out of quarantine at the Fortress of Solitude and back to Metropolis, Batman takes it upon himself to contact Wonder Woman and the other Amazons. That's when he learns of Lyla's vision and implores Superman to trust both him and Wonder Woman when they say that Kara being taken away for training is the best thing to do. He also feels that Supes has been very careless ever since Kara came into his life, particularly in revealing his secret identity of Clark Kent to her. Despite his lack of trust towards Kara for the first half of the film, when she's taken away by Darkseid and it's revealed that the woman who Superman was holding dead in his arms in Lyla's vision was actually Lyla herself, he doesn't hesitate in joining both him and Wonder Woman in their plan to storm Apokolips and save Kara. It's during the attack on Apokolips that Batman gets the opportunity to strut his stuff and show that he's still a badass, flying around on a jetpack-like device given to him by Big Barda like a boss, outwitting Darkseid's guards and their big, dog-like monsters, even when one manages to get him in its mouth! Ultimately, he's the one gets Darkseid to release Kara and let them all leave without any resistance when he activates all of the Hell Spores, which will destroy Apokolips completely when they explode. This is enough to actually impress Darkseid and he, in turn, allows them all to head back to Earth without any problems. Once they're back on Earth, Batman finally grows to trust Kara, particularly when she tells him her mother's name, which she couldn't remember before, and when she takes on the title of Supergirl at the end, even he now respects her enough to applaud with everyone else. So, even though he's on the sidelines for most of the film, Batman is still cool and Conroy manages to give another stellar performance. Design-wise, though, he's drawn way too rigid and whenever he stands still, completely cloaked in his very-long cape (which he often does), he looks odd, like a badly-sculpted statue rather than the actual Batman. His gloves also have claws on the fingers, which is also odd. However, the worst parts of his design are the ears on his mask. Not only are they too long and pointy, the opposite problem of what I felt was wrong with them in Public Enemies, but they're at the very back of his head, making the top of it look like a literal right angle! Just look at that second image of him here and tell me I'm wrong.

Although she comes across as very stern and overbearing at first, Wonder Woman (voiced by Susan Eisenberg) really does have Kara's best interests in mind when she takes her away to Paradise Island. She feels that the training there is the only way Kara can learn to control her powers and keep from putting herself and innocent civilians in danger, telling Superman, "Having power and knowing how to use it aren't the same thing." However, the really tough nature of the training puts her at odds with Superman and, like I said earlier, the two of them come across like two bickering parents arguing about what's best for their child. Even though this really drives Kara crazy since she feels like everyone is trying to make her decisions for her, she has to admit that everyone on Paradise Island has made her feel welcome and she takes comfort in knowing that, as Lyla tells her, Wonder Woman is someone she can trust without any hesitation. This is shown beyond a shadow of a doubt when Wonder Woman insists on joining Superman and Batman in their mission to travel to Apokolips and save Kara when she's abducted. And when Kara's rescued and released from Darkseid's control, she recognizes everything Wonder Woman has done for her and thanks her, with Wonder Woman telling her that she'll always have a home on Paradise Island. Besides all of her great character qualities, Wonder Woman also proves that she's definitely no slouch in the fighting department, able to kick ass like nobody's business with her lasso, sword, and shield in the battles with the Doomsday clones on Paradise Island and when she joins Big Barda in fighting the Furies on Apokolips. There's also a moment where refuses to surrender or let Barda die when the latter is overpowered and held at knife-point by the Furies, using her lasso to allow Barda to escape and continue the fight, making it small wonder why Barda said that she was an inspiration to her. Design-wise, as you can see, they didn't tinker at all with the way she's always looked, with the only real change appearing to be that they made her look more obviously muscular than I remember her looking in what little I saw of Justice League: Unlimited. I have to say, though, that she has to be one of the most fanservicey comic book characters ever with that outfit of hers, and the way she's designed here makes her look even more alluring, especially since they make sure you get every angle on her possible for a PG-13 rating.

Speaking of fanservice, the first time you see Big Barda (voiced by Julianne Grossman), she just got out of the shower and is wearing nothing but a towel, which made me go, "Oh, come on! Really?! This is making it hard for me to focus on the story!" In any case, when the heroes first go to Barda after Kara is abducted, she seems reluctant to help them and tells Superman that Kara is lost since she knows that Darkseid will control her mind like he did her. However, when they make it clear that they still intend to storm Apokolips to save her, Barda decides to join them, whereas they originally intended to use her Mother Box to get to the planet. Maybe it's because she finds her now normal life on Earth to be boring, as she herself describes it, she knows that they won't be able to find their way through the planet and back without her knowledge of it, or she wants to get revenge on Darkseid for what he did to her, as well as what he's now doing to someone else, but, whatever her motive, she insists that she's coming with them and tells them to get over their objections. (I like how, when she shows them the equipment she has for them to use, Batman goes, "I'm over it. How about you two?") On Apokolips, Barda joins up with Wonder Woman as they navigate the planet's sewer system in order to get to the arena, which is where she admits that she gave her inspiration and hope, which is saying something for someone who grew up on such a horrible planet. Even though she's momentarily subdued and held hostage during her and Wonder Woman's fight with the Furies, Barda proves that she's still very adept at combat, particularly since she's the one who trained the Furies, although she has to restrain herself from killing Granny Goodness in cold blood when the latter tempts her to do so, proving that she truly has broken free of the influence Apokolips had on her.

While she's not in the film much, Lyla (voiced by Rachel Quaintance), otherwise know as Harbinger (a name that is hardly ever used here), is significant in that she becomes Kara's best friend when she's brought to Paradise Island, helping her to adapt to her new surroundings and assurring her that Wonder Woman is someone she can go to and trust. It's also revealed that she died trying to save Kara from Darkseid's forces, an act that not only prompts Superman to avenge her when he goes to Apokolips to save Kara but also inspires Kara herself to not let her down in whatever life has in store for her. However, one major problem I have with Lyla is that, if you think about it, the idea of her having a disturbing vision, which further encourages Batman and Wonder Woman to do something about Kara's lack of control over her powers and makes Superman more insistent on taking her back to Metropolis so he can protect her, could have easily been removed from the story with no repercussions. The idea behind it was to make it seem as if Kara was the person Superman was holding dead in his arms, perhaps having eventually killed herself with her uncontrollable powers, since the two of them look so much alike (not being familiar with comics, I did think she was Kara in the scene where you first see Lyla having that vision) but, really, you could take out that entire subplot, still have everyone wanting Kara to learn to control her powers for the sake of both herself and others and bickering about what's best for her, as is already the case, have Lyla still be her best friend on Paradise Island who dies trying to protect her, and nothing would have been affected. It's just useless padding, and its screentime could have instead been used in having us really see the trials and tribulations Kara is going through, like I mentioned earlier.

There really isn't that much depth to Darkseid (voiced by Andre Braugher). As Superman himself describes him, he's nothing less than pure evil, a heartless tyrant who seems to live only to break the spirits and minds of others and to cause intense suffering. He abducts and brainwashes Kara for no other reason than to find a new leader for his female fighting squad known as the Furies, offering her power, infamy, and a sense of purpose and belonging; in reality, though, he's deciding her destiny just like everyone else, and even though he claims that Kara is free to leave Apokolips whenever she wishes, you know that if that ever happened, he would enhance her mind control to ensure that she would stay. One thing that is rather interesting about Darkseid is how, even though he tries to force him to defuse them at first, he can't help but admire Batman's ploy of activating the Hell Spores, which will completely destroy the planet if he doesn't release Kara. In fact, he views the threat to destroy an entire planet to achieve success as a "strength of character," something that you would never see Superman or Wonder Woman do. He then adds, "But you, a human? You'd kill your own kind to win battles. An admirable quality," which goes on to show twisted and evil he really is. What's more, he does allow the heroes to leave Apokolips and promises not to try to capture Kara again... but that doesn't stop him from showing up at the Kent farm and try to kill Superman, whose death he feels is long overdue. This leads to a very destructive battle between him and the two heroes, during which Darkseid brutalizes Kara when he blasts Superman off into orbit, forcing her to face him by herself. But, working together, they do manage to send Darkseid back through a Boom Tube, which Kara just happened to reprogram with his Mother Box, sending him floating off into space, frozen solid. Overall, while I've seen far more intimidating and memorable versions of Darkseid (particularly Frank Welker's portrayal in the old SuperFriends shows and Michael Ironside's in Superman: The Animated Series), his portrayal here was still perfectly suitable, there are moments where he manages to generate some real menace, particularly the scene where he confronts Kara after she's thrown into a cell on Apokolips, and he proves to be quite powerful and brutal in a fight with his strength and those Omega beams of his.

The first time I ever heard of Granny Goodness was when Linkara mentioned her on one of the early episodes of comic review series, Atop the Fourth Wall, and when I saw an image of her, all I could do was snicker because she looked so ridiculous. So, when I first saw this movie and she showed up, I just rolled my eyes and was like, "Really?" It doubly dumbfounded me when I learned that she's voiced by Ed Asner, the same guy who voiced Roland Daggett on Batman: The Animated Series (apparently, he's voiced Granny Goodness a number of times before, on shows like Justice League and such). But, after watching this, I have to say that I was surprised to see how sadistic and twisted she is in the short screentime that she has, especially during the assault on Apokolips when she's imploring the Furies to kill Wonder Woman and Big Barda and becomes maniacally gleeful of the thought of bringing the former before Darkseid. Even when she and her Furies have been overpowered by the two heroes, Granny Goodness still tries to win in a way by tempting Barda to kill her, saying that it's what she wants and that it's what she's "programmed" to do. Fortunately, Barda doesn't succumb to this temptation and she and Wonder Woman deliver Granny to Darkseid after he's been forced to let Kara and the heroes go after Batman's threat with the Hell Spores. In addition to that, the idea of her recruiting young women to become members of her force of assassins and training them in ways that are so brutal that you risk getting killed in a very painful way, as happens to the woman known as Treasure when she faces the Furies in an exercise to see if she's fit to become their new leader, is also pretty disturbing and makes her taunting towards Barda, reminding her of what she went through, come across as all the more depraved.

As you've no doubt noticed by this point, the film is visually very different from Public Enemies, and it's not just in terms of the character design. While the film's color palette is still very rich and lush, it doesn't pop quite as much as its predecessor did. I don't know if that's because I have this one on DVD rather than Blu-Ray but the colors feel just a tad bit muted in comparison to Public Enemies, save for the scenes on Apokolips, where the red really stands out. What's more, there's a noticeable haze in the backgrounds and around the lights, especially in the daytime scenes and the section set in Smallville, that remind me of the really soft photography seen in many films of the 1970's and early 80's (one of which, oddly enough, is the first Superman with Christopher Reeve). And while the film's art-style and lighting is still more in the spirit of the world of Superman, and Wonder Woman, for that matter, rather than the darkness of Batman, there are some environments here that do learn more towards a menacing feel, specifically the opening in Gotham City and the planet of Apokolips. While Gotham is nowhere near as grim and sinister-looking here as it is in other stuff like Batman: The Animated Series, The Dark Knight Returns, or Under the Red Hood, and like in Public Enemies, it's not going for that Art Deco design to its architecture as much as it usually does (although you do see some Gothic touches, like gargoyle statues on buildings), it's still lit very low, with lots of shadows, and the waterfront and backalleys that Kara finds herself wandering through upon emerging from the bay do have an unsettling air to them. And, like always, Apokolips looks as if Hell became an entire planet (especially when you see it from space), with the deep red color to everything, the constant fire and smoke, the dank, dark dungeons that Kara is thrown into, and the hideous sewers, with human bones floating in the water! Even Darkseid's throne room, which is the most brightly lit spot on the entire planet that we see, has an air of menace about it, with the wicked-looking golden throne he sits on and the design of the big window behind it.

This film has a more leisurely pace than Public Enemies and it's not wall-to-wall action like that film either, although there are a number of well-done action and fight sequences spread throughout. The film begins with the spaceship containing Kara crashing into Gotham Bay and Batman going to investigate, putting on a special diving suit in order to do so. Meanwhile, Kara surfaces near the Batboat and climbs into its open cockpit, accidentally hitting the throttle and sending it zooming off towards the shore. Down below, Batman has a monitor on his wrist that warns him of an intruder in the boat and upon seeing it, he heads back to the surface, seeing the Batboat pass over him. He harpoons the boat's underside and is dragged along with it, getting pulled to the surface in the process. Upon seeing the out-of-control boat heading straight for the dock, he lets go as it crashes through the underside of a wharf and explodes into a big fireball. Batman then emerges from the water and makes his way to shore. Following the opening credits sequence (which is awesome, to say the least), the story really begins as three dock-workers encounter Kara, who emerges from the shadows naked and unable to speak English. Being a complete pig, one of the workers named Gus tries to put the moves on her, but she grabs his hand and twists it with a loud crack, causing him to squat down, groaning in pain. Another one of the workers confronts Kara about what she just did, only to be sent flying across the alley, crashing into some crates, when she just barely pushes him. The third worker, scared out of his wits, throws Kara his overcoat and runs for it. After taking the coat, Kara runs away down the alleys, while Batman comes upon the two injured workers and asks what happened. Kara then runs out of an alley and into the street, right in front of an oncoming car. The guy is unable to stop but Kara manages to bring it to one simply by using her hands, damaging its front. The driver gets out and asks Kara if she's alright but when a spotlight from one of the city's automated police blimps shines down on her, she becomes frightened and runs down the street, only to be confronted by two police cars at an intersection. Staring at their lights, she unintentionally fires her heat-vision, blowing up the hood of one of the cars as the cop jumps out and runs. She heads down a nearby alley, with the other cops chasing after her while another police car tries to corner her by driving in through the other side. The cops there get out and pull their guns on her, but Kara runs at the car, jumps on the hood, and then finds herself floating up into the air when she jumps off the back. The cops attempt to bring her down by shooting her but that does nothing, as she floats towards the side of a building and slams into it, finally stopping herself by grabbing onto a carved bird-head jutting out of the building. The cops fire at her some more and Kara climbs up the building in response.

Upon reaching the top, she's confronted by Batman, who tells her enough is enough and grabs her arm when she falls out of fear and pulls her up, only to get shoved to the other side of the roof by Kara's feet, slamming into the edge. She then runs across the rooftop, with Batman in hot pursuit, and when she attempts to jump to the building across from them, she again floats up into the air uncontrollably, smashing straight through one of the police blimps. Batman watches as she falls out of sight and then sees that the burning blimp is plummeting towards the street below... when Superman zooms out of nowhere towards the blimp's nose, attempting to slow its descent as civilians on the ground run for cover. Upon doing so, he forces it back up into the air and guides it towards Gotham Bay, where it falls harmlessly into the water. Meanwhile, Batman finds Kara in the top floor of a building whose skylight she crashed through, and uses a shard of Kryptonite he found near her ship to render her unconscious. In the next scene, he's examining her genetic structure in the Batcave, when she awakens and easily breaks through the metal clamps holding her down to the machine that's scanning her. She then accidentally fires her heat-vision at Batman, with him just barely getting out of the way as it blows up his computer. Confused and grabbing at her eyes, Kara floats up into the air again, when Superman reveals that he's there as well and speaks to her Kryptonian, telling her that he's Kal-El as he gives her his cape as a bit of clothing. She then reveals that she's Kara Zor-El and that they're cousins. There's a brief moment afterward at the Fortress of Solitude where Kara bursts in on Superman and Batman as they're talking, claiming that something's after her and taking cover behind her cousin, as Batman pulls out a weapon. The attacker turns out to be Krypto, who comes charging in, growling and snarling at Kara, and has to be restrained by Superman.

The first scene on Apokolips has Treasure, a would-be leader for the Furies, having just killed a challenger by stabbing him in the back with a spear and telling Granny Goodness to let her fight the Furies so they can, "Taste my blade." Granny then turns them loose on her and the fight begins with Treasure blocking some flying blades with her spear, only to be ambushed from above by Mad Harriet. She manages to use her athletic skills to dodge Harriet's attacks and then gets into a sword battle with Gilotina. She manages to hold them both off at the same, dodges a mace-like whip thrown at her by Lashina, and continues to duel blades with Gilotina, when Stompa comes in from above and smashes down onto the ground, creating a massive crater that Treasure is able to avoid becoming part of. Stompa rides on a floating chunk of rock and flings several at Treasure, who manages to dodge them and slice one completely in half. However, when she's faced with Stompa, things quickly go downhill for Treasure, as she gets shoved backwards, beaten senseless by Gilotina, grabbed and suplexed by Stompa, her feet lassoed and thrown into the air by Lashina, sliced across the face by Harriet, and finally slammed down to the ground by Lashina, killing her instantly, with a big puddle of blood pooling out from underneath her.

After Kara's shopping spree, she and Clark are on their way back when they stop in the middle of a park in Metropolis. As they stand in front of a statue of Superman, Clark appears to hear something behind them and puts down Kara's stuff, telling her to stay close. He takes a few steps towards the treeline but nothing happens, so he chalks it up to a false alarm... when he's suddenly blasted into a nearby hedge. Kara tries to run after him but her leg is lassoed and she's then drug backwards. She tries to escape by flying up into the air but is yanked back down to the ground and drug along it, yelling for help. Superman charges out of the hedge but, before he can reach Kara, he's stopped by a volley of punches powerful enough to bring him to his knees. Finding himself surrounded by figures who are clearly women, he's told that they're taking Kara, but he makes it clear that's not happening and spins around to create his Super-Tornado, sending them all flying. Kara, still being drug along the ground, shoots her heat-vision in a panic, which her would-be abductor (who you can tell is Wonder Woman) manages to deflect, and she then shoots it around the park uncontrollably, slicing trees, a bench, and even the statue of Superman in half at an angle. She finally stops the beams and is grabbed by Wonder Woman, who tells her that it's for her own good. Superman then stops the tornado and attempts to save Kara, only to stop dead in his tracks upon seeing Wonder Woman. That's when Batman shows up, revealing his part in the ambush, and as the women who fought Superman show themselves to actually have been Lyla using her ability to project various versions of herself, they talk him into reluctantly allowing Wonder Woman take Kara with her back to Paradise Island. The next fight scene occurs there, as Kara takes part in a training duel with Artemis, while Superman and Batman watch from the sidelines. Wonder Woman begins the duel and the two young women clash swords, both evenly matched. However, it doesn't take long for Artemis to get the upperhand, proving to be a bit more agile and skilled at swordplay, eventually kicking Kara down and disarming her in the process. Artemis then looks like she's about to bring the sword down on her but Superman, deciding that he's seen enough, stops her, wrestling the sword out of her hand and throwing her to the ground, ending the duel.

Later on, as the sun begins to set, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are talking when a Boom Tube opens up nearby, out of which comes Doomsday. Superman attempts to handle the monster himself but, before he can begin the fight, dozens more come out of the tube, with Superman realizing that Darkseid has cloned Doomsday. As if on cue, Wonder Woman's army of Amazon warriors come charging down the stairs behind her, lining up with the heroes, with Batman given a large battleaxe as a weapon while Wonder Woman takes a spear. After an aerial shot that shows the Doomsday army vastly outnumbers them, the battle begins, with both sides rushing at each other. Superman flies up into the air and smashes down onto the ground in front of several Doomsdays, while the Amazons and Batman join in the fight as both sides pummel each other. Batman manages to bring his axe down on one, while another sends some Amazons flying into the air as Wonder Woman manages to spear one in the chest and knock it to the ground. However, to her shock, no blood comes out of the wound, and she's distracted long enough for another Doomsday to charge into her, sending her tumbling backwards. Artemis is able to stab one with her sword and then spear it, killing it but causing the body to fall on top of her, pinning her to the ground and rendering her helpless against another. Fortunately, Superman freezes it with his Super-Breath and then smashes its torso into fragments. He freezes and smashes another that charges at him from the right and takes out a few more with powerful punches before flying and punching his way through the army. Batman manages to kill one with his axe but is knocked away and disarmed by another behind him. He manages to destroy it with some exploding Batarangs and feels that there's something not right about what's going on. As a couple of Amazons are killed, with one getting stomped off-camera, Batman suddenly leaves the battle, baffling Wonder Woman after she lassoes one Doomsday's head and flings it over her shoulder into another behind her. Another Doomsday then charges at her but she's able to take care of it by using the one still tied up as a battering ram against it. Superman is able to take care of some more but is then punched down to the ground and kicked across it. He then sees that the battle isn't going well, as more Amazons are brutalized and killed, but when Doomsday stomps its foot on his head, he shoots it off with his heat-vision and flies up into the air. He tells Wonder Woman to make her army fall back, which she does but not without questioning the order. The Amazons then pull back, continuing to fend off the Doomsdays, and once they're all in the clear, Superman, declaring, "This ends now!", fires his heat-vision in one enormous wave, destroying the Doomsdays in a fiery holocaust that exhausts him to the point where he falls to the ground. However, their victory is short-lived as they discover that the battle was just a diversion in order to kidnap Kara, with Lyla dying trying to protect her.

The raid on Apokolips begins when the three heroes, along with Big Barda, use a Boom Tube to arrive on the planet and they're immediately cornered from either side by two enormous tanks that have big, monstrous head as turrets. They go on the attack, with Superman punching back the flame blast the one from behind fires at them, while Batman uses a jetpack given to him by Barda to fling really powerful Batarangs at the other's wheels, causing it to come to a stop. While Superman continues punching back the one's flame blast, Wonder Woman jumps on its head, carves it up with her sword, and pulls it open, enabling to tear the head off entirely. She then jumps down, picks the gigantic head up, and tosses it at the tank, damaging it to the point where it explodes. Barda then takes on the other, incapacitated tank, running straight at it, blocking its flame with her shield, attempting to puncture it with her spear, and when that doesn't work, she simply uses her strength to push it back until it falls over the edge of the chasm behind it and explodes when it hits the bottom. After that little warm-up, they split up, with Batman flying off with the jetpack, Superman going straight for Darkseid's tower, and Wonder Woman and Barda descending down into the sewers. The latter are the first ones to run into trouble when the sewer system leads them to the arena, where they're confronted by Granny Goodness and the Furies. After they talk smack to each other, the fight begins with the Furies charging at the two heroes. Meanwhile, Batman gets attacked by a gigantic, dog-like monster that can only be described as a hellhound. When he tries to escape it, he's cornered by another one, but he manages to fly up and causes them to slam into each other when they go for him. We then see Superman walking on the path towards the door to Darkseid's throne room, when he's ambushed from behind by a squadron of flying robots who all head straight at him and explode upon impact like kamikazes. Back at the arena, Barda is sword-fighting Gilotina while Wonder Woman deals with Lashina, when Stompa tackles Barda down to the ground. She manages to dodge a punch to head, deliver one back to Stompa, then wrap her legs around her head, use the balance to deliver her own head-punch, and then suplex her with her legs. While Wonder Woman now fights Mad Harriet, Barda deals with Gilotina and Lashina at the same time, with the latter trying to tie her up from behind, although Wonder Woman manages to kick away Harriet, grab the rope with her lasso, pull it to her, and force Lashina down at her feet before kicking her in the head and sending her tumbling backwards. Wonder Woman then gets jumped from behind by Harriet but she's able to fend her off with her sword and punch her away, only to once be faced by Lashina, who got a quick second wind. She uses her sword to fend off Lashina's whip, while Barda deals with Gilotina and Stompa with her spear. Harriet then joins the fray, forcing Wonder Woman to keep her guard up after she manages to fend off Lashina, and she and Barda are then back-to-back as all four of the Furies surround them.

Batman still has the two dog-monsters on his heels, having to dodge laser blasts from the guards riding them as well. He takes a hit from one that damages his jetpack and then leads the monsters through the middle of a structure and throws an exploding Batarang into one of its sides, causing it to collapse on top of them, although he's downed in the process, with the jetpack getting smashed when he crashes. But, after he gets his wits about him, he sees the building that he's been looking for: an armory filled with Hell Spores. However, before he can get down to business, one of the monsters bursts through the wall behind and closes its jaws around him! At Darkseid's tower, Superman emerges from the flames caused by those robots' kamikaze run and walks up to the doors, opens them up, and yells for Darkseid. Back at the arena, the fight gets more intense, with Barda dealing with Harriet and Lashina while Wonder Woman tangles with Gilotina. Even though Lashina manages to deflect her shield, Barda knocks her to the ground before flipping Stompa over her shoulders using her spear and then using it to fend off Harriet. As Granny Goodness appears to leave the box where she's watching this from, Wonder Woman manages to dodge Gilotina's blades, duck between her legs, and knock her to the ground. Stompa then kicks her in the back from behind and throws her. After she lands, Stompa attempts to jump on top of her but she rolls out of the way and uses her shield to block another couple of stomps, when Barda puts an end to it by impaling Stompa completely through the back. Wonder Woman thanks Barda and gets to her feet, only to be tackled from behind by Harriet. After they tumble, Wonder Woman holds Harriet's arms to keep her from attacking, which she tries to do by chomping at her face, while Barda tries to help but is blindsided from off-screen by Lashina's whip. Wonder Woman headbutts Harriet, throws her off, gets on top of her, and subdues her by putting the edge of her shield against her throat. However, she then sees that Gilotina and Lashina have captured Barda and Granny tells her to surrender. Gilotina threatens to cut Barda's throat with her blade if Wonder Woman doesn't comply but Barda implores her not to surrender no matter what, while Granny gloats about her apparent victory and cackles madly. Meanwhile, Superman encounters the brainwashed Kara in Darkseid's throne room, whom Darkseid claims is free to leave if that's what she wants, but when he tries to force her to come with him, Kara pulls her hand out of his and gives him a punch to the face that sends him down to the foot of the stairs leading to the throne. When he sits up, she kicks him in the gut, sending him flying into a pillar and crashing back to the floor, while she insists that she has no desire to go with him. As Darkseid goads her to kill Superman, Kara puts her foot on his chest, with him telling her that he won't fight her. Kara then coldly says that'll just make it easier, as her eyes glow red.

Back at the Hell Spore armory, the monster that closed its mouth around Batman is laying on the ground, whining faintly, with smoke spewing out from between its teeth and its nostrils. The two guards from before enter the armory and it's revealed at the beast's problem is indeed something that it ate, as its body collapses on through the wall and Batman forces its mouth open from the inside. He then demands the guards give him their armor. At the arena, Gilotina is itching to kill Barda, while Wonder Woman insists they let her go since she's the one they want. Granny, however, says, "I like to have my cake and eat it too," telling Gilotina to make Barda bleed. Just as she's about to, though, Wonder Woman quickly grabs her lasso, ties up Gilotina's arm, and yanks her away, disarming her in the process. As Lashina is distracted by this, Barda kicks her under the chin and then headbutts her to the ground, while Wonder Woman punches Harriet unconscious when she tries to attack. She then rushes at Gilotina and Granny, dodging the former's blade with a jump, landing right on her back, dodging a punch from Granny in the process, and then dodging a kick from Granny before giving her one in the gut, forcing her to go down. Barda, with her hands still tied behind her back, uses Lashina's own whip to lasso her neck and knee her right in the face, knocking her out cold, before managing to snap her hands free. She then sees that Wonder Woman has subdued Granny and points her sword at her. The scene ends with Granny trying to tempt Barda into killing her, before we go back to Superman's fight with his brainwashed cousin, who punches him in the face, punches him up into the air from behind, and then gets above him and stomps his stomach before sending him back down to the floor with another head punch. Kara then grabs Superman by the throat and holds him up, telling him that his years of pretending to be human have made him soft. Darkseid then goads her to kill him and she complies by hoisting him up into the air and tossing him through the window behind the throne, causing him to fall down into a large furnace on the other side. Kara then floats down right above the furnace, only to get grabbed from behind by Superman, but she gives him a backwards headbutt, knocking him loose, hits him right in the shoulder with her heat-vision, and kicks him even further down into the furnace, following that up with a kick to the chin as she flips off of him. Finally realizing that there's no way to get through to her while she's like this, Superman decides to stop holding back and uses a sonic clap to send Kara flying up into the air. As Darkseid watches the battle from the hole in the window, he's confronted by Batman, who threatens to destroy Apokolips with his own Hell Spores. At first, Darkseid feels that he's bluffing, but when he realizes he's not, he angrily knocks Batman off the platform and sends him crashing through a pillar before tumbling to the floor. Darkseid jumps down and threatens to kill him with his Omega Beams, but when Batman tells him that wouldn't stop the Hell Spores, Darkseid grabs him by the head and throws him against a nearby wall. He then grabs Batman by the throat, holds him up against the wall, and demands he disarm the Hell Spores. Batman says he will, if Darkseid lets Kara go and promises not to come near her again. Darkseid responds by further slamming him against the wall and then straight through it, holding him above a lava pit down below, but when it becomes clear that Batman's not going to give him, Darkseid can't help but admire his tactics and tosses him back inside. Darkseid then tells him he can take Kara back to Earth and that he'll make no move against her, just as she comes crashing back through the window behind his throne and lands at the foot of the stairs. Superman then says he'll hold Darkseid to that promise, as do Wonder Woman and Barda, who untangle the defeated Granny and she falls to his feet. Darkseid tells them to disarm the Hell Spores and leave Apokolips, as they walk out of the throne room, with Superman carrying Kara and Barda helping the injured Batman.

Near the end of the movie, Clark takes the now cured Kara to the Kent farm in Smallville to meet his adopted mother and father, but just as he's about to reach for the door-handle, Darkseid's fist smashes through from the inside, hitting him in the gut and sending him flying backwards, crashing into a tractor. Darkseid then smashes through the door, swats Kara out of the way and into the pickup truck they drove like a ragdoll, and, as he approaches Clark, he tells him that he's not come for Kara but, rather, to finally kill him. He fires his Omega beams at him, destroying the rest of his civilian clothes to reveal his super-suit as he's blasted backwards, and when Kara attempts to shove her cousin out of the way, she gets blasted too. Sitting up after rolling along the ground, Superman watches Kara get blasted right into the heart of a cornfield. Enraged, he flies at Darkseid, who catches him by the throat, and when he attempts to use his heat-vision, he clamps his hand over his head, sending it firing every which way when it slips through his fingers, injuring Superman in the process. And then, with one mighty punch, he sends Superman flying up into the sky and then uses his Omega beams to blast him up into the atmosphere. But, just when he thinks he's triumphed, Kara charges at him and kicks him into the house behind him. Getting up from underneatht the rubble in the living room, Darkseid cracks his neck as Kara flies and lands at the edge of it, telling him that there's more where that came from. Darkseid then attempts to blast her with his Omega beams but she flies right at him, dodging them, and gives him an uppercut that sends him flying out the back of the house through a top window, smashing through a fence as he stops himself. He blasts Kara as she jumps out of the house after him, sending her up through the side of the roof, tumbling across it, and landing in a garden. Darkseid then floats above the house and, positioning himself above her, comes stomping down on top of her, creating a massive mushroom cloud of dust. However, as he pushes his foot into her, he gets a painful surprise when she shoots it with her heat-vision, causing him to jump back. She shoots her heat-vision again but he's able to block it with his hand, walk towards her, grab her by the head, fling her onto the ground, kick her across the yard, and then blast her before she can land, sending her rolling a great distance. Darkseid calmly walks up to her and prepares to shoot her again but she flies up into the air, dodging the curving beams until she lands right behind him, grabs his head and flips him over so he's hit by his own beams, sending him crashing along the ground. Kara flies after him and rams him with her fists before punching him and sending him flying up into the air with a kick, following that up by flying up towards him and punching him repeatedly in the head before giving him a kick to the chin. As they fall back to the ground, he tries to shoot her again but she flies behind him and forces him down to the ground with her foot in his back. She gives him so more punishment with another kick to the gut and then a shove through a fence that sends him bouncing along the ground until he slams into a massive crater, where she stomps down on him. When he gets to his feet, she delivers more kicks and punches, sending him through the back of the barn, but when she flies at him and tries to put him into a headlock, he turns the tables by grabbing her hand, slamming her down, pulling her up, and then kicking her. She flies back at him and the fight continues until she gets slammed and kicked through the back of the barn. Darkseid calmly walks up to her, telling her that he could have made her the most powerful being in the universe, and then proceeds to blast her relentlessly with his Omega beams.

Up above the Earth, Superman's unconscious body floats in orbit around the planet, until the sun's rays energize and revive him. He heads back down to the planet, while Darkseid finishes blasting Kara and prepares to leave, telling her that they'll meet again. He activates a Boom Tube but before he can step through it, Superman lands right in front of it. When he sees how completely brutalized Kara is, he tries to walk past Darkseid to tend to her but the alien grabs his cape, prompting Supes to give him one hell of a punch to the head, sending past the Boom Tube, which then closes. Superman charges at him, slamming him straight through the barn, and punches him across a field. The two of them exchange blows as Darkseid skids across the ground and when he tries to blast him with his Omega beams, Superman burrows into the earth, towards Darkseid, and lifts the section of the ground he's standing on up into the air, turning it upside down so it lands on top of him when he falls. Resting atop the mound, Superman is blasted up into the sky by Omega beams and an explosion up there sends him crashing to the ground, while Darkseid destroys the mound. Supes, his nose bleeding and his suit and cape tattered up, rushes at Darkseid and rams him, slamming him into the ground and creating a tornado of dust as he hits him with a rapid onslaught of punches to the head (akin to something you'd see in Dragonball Z). The storm caused by this attack, which Supes adds to with his heat-vision, cracking the top of Darkseid's helmet is strong enough to wake Kara up, although Darkseid manages to grab Superman by the neck, stopping the tornado, and blast him square in the face with the Omega beams. Seeing this, Kara picks up the Mother Box that Darkseid dropped in the barn and activates a Boom Tube behind him and he's distracted long enough for Superman to zap his hand with a beam from his undamaged right eye, causing him to let go, and kick him towards the portal. He warns Darkseid to never come back to Smallville and then blasts him into the portal completely, ending the battle when it closes up. There's a funny moment following this fight where Jonathan and Martha Kent show up to find their farm completely devastated and after Superman introduces Kara to them, their house completely falls apart!

The music to the film is composed by John Paesano, a guy who, at this point, doesn't have many credits to his name, usually scoring televison and other direct-to-video films (he has, however, won an Annie Award for his work on Dragons: Riders of Berk). His score here, like Christopher Drake's for Public Enemies, is absolutely awesome and fits the film to a 'T,' especially the main theme that you hear during the opening credits. It's a very rousing piece that starts out kind of ominous and bombastic but goes on to become very heroic in the middle and is definitely something that'll get your blood pumping. The same goes for the rest of the music, which nicely highlights the excitement of the action and fight sequences, the innocence of Kara's shopping spree, the mance of Darkseid and Apokolips, and the sadness and tragedy of Lyla's sacrifice for Kara, and the score, overall, accentuates the slightly darker themes and visuals of the movie. Like the Public Enemies score, there's not much else I can say about the score for Apocalypse other than it's really good music and fits the movie well.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse might not be quite as tightly-constructed, fast-paced, and well done as Public Enemies but, overall, I think it's still a very entertaining, animated comic book flick. Its story is well-told for the most part, the characters are all developed and portrayed very nicely, the animation and visual style are still very appealing to look at and have a darker edge to them here in some respects, there are plenty of great and exciting action sequences throughout the film, and the music score is very rousing and thrilling. There are some flaws, like the missed opportunities with the trials and tribulations that Kara goes through, some weird bits of character design, particularly with Batman, and a little too much fanservice, especially with Kara herself, but other than those minor quibbles, I don't have many problems with the film and I don't feel that it deserves the flack that it's gotten quite a bit of since its release. If you want a fun, colorful way to kill 78 minutes, you could do far worse, in my humble opinion.

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