Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is a direct-to-dvd animated movie produced by Bruce Timm and directed by Sam Liu for Warner’s Animated movies line that gave us “Wonder Woman”, “Justice League New Frontier” and “Gotham Knight”. It is the 6th in the DCU animated line and is based on the opening story-arc in the Superman/Batman comic book series written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Ed McGuinness. It is a faithful adaptation with minor alterations in its storyline, and it has the feel of that Bruce Timm animated movie.
After a major economic collapse and a rise in crime, Lex Luthor (voiced by Clancy Brown) is elected president of the United States. In the beginning, Luthor had revitalized the U.S. economy and has won the approval of the general public including several heroes like Captain Atom (Xander Berkeley) and even Power Girl (Allison Mack). Superman (voiced by Tim Daly) and Batman (Kevin Conroy) aren’t convinced and when a gigantic kryptonite meteor threatens to destroy the Earth, Luthor shows his true colors as he frames the man of steel. Superman becomes a wanted fugitive for killing reformed criminal Metallo (John McGinley). Now the two World’s Finest heroes must avoid capture, being hunted by friends and foes alike while trying to find a way to stop the kryptonite meteor from destroying civilization….
I’ve mentioned that the movie has more characters than you can count and while this may be a good thing, it also opens quite a large number of gaping holes. Captain Atom, Black Lightning, Starfire and company appear and disappear on their own accord, it just felt too convenient to have them have a beat down with Batman and Superman; then they disappear later in the screenplay when the two heroes encounter Capt. Marvel (of course, aside from Wonder Woman, he’s the only one who can go toe-to-toe with Supes) and Hawkman. I also found that certain things in the 79 minute runtime feel a little too rushed, the fact that the general public was convinced that Superman went bad lacked development and credibility. Ok, Luthor offering a Billion dollar bounty for the heads of Superman and Batman is also a little too unbelievable.
Despite the flaws in the script, they do manage to get the ball rolling as we see Superman and Batman fight almost all the “big name” DC villains such as Mongul, Solomon Grundy (he may be the most inconsistent villain in DC), Grodd, Silver Banshee, Doctors Frost and Freeze, Giganta and many more. If you want to see Superman and Batman fighting against incredible odds, then you will not be disappointed. The fight with Metallo was arguably the best and the struggles with the heroes a close second; I was a little disappointed that the beat down between Capt. Marvel and Superman didn’t last very long. Truth be told, the action and fights were good and exciting, but never for one minute did I doubt what the outcome would be. The film does feel like a summarized version of several Justice League episodes; this isn’t a bad thing but the Justice League/JLUnlimited series just does what “Public Enemies” do much, much better.
The animation is also pretty good but looks a little different from the usual outings of the DCU animated line. It looked very inspired by the art of McGuinness, and I was a little puzzled as to how Superman looked a little too young at times. The atmosphere and feel of the movie does still have that Bruce Timm signature and this is almost certain to please his fans. While I am not exactly impressed with the designs and some of its aspects, the movements are smooth and fluid enough with its style of animation matching the energy and tone the movie is trying to exude.
“Public Enemies” is pretty entertaining but the scope that it aspires to, just leaves this Bruce Timm production a little overreaching. It does manage to give some exciting scenes of action but I guess the threat of the meteor and the bounty feels a little too routine and underdeveloped to hinder our heroes. I just didn’t feel any sense of unpredictability or thrills while I was watching the movie. It just doesn’t give off that high-stakes or the world is in peril impact on its narrative. Maybe it’s because I read the comic but I don’t think so; despite some attempts at some PG-13 blood, the movie just didn’t feel as intense or more compelling than I thought it should’ve been.
I am a comic book geek, but not a DC animated cartoon geek. I have seen the best the DCU animated line has to offer and this movie is found wanting. To its credit, it does provide decent entertainment for the whole family. However, it is not in the same ‘LEAGUE” (get what I’m saying?) as the other outings in the DCU animated Universe.
Recommended timidly with caution, Rent It first! [3 Stars]