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After the enormous success that Warner had seen with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, the next and most obvious superhero to receive the same treatment was Superman. Of course, after the debut of the new animated SUPERMAN series, it was only a matter of time before the producers of both shows would team up the two superheroes for a shared adventure. THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN MOVIE ($20) opens with The Joker becoming frustrated by his continual thwarting by Batman. Deciding that the time has come to take his show on the road- The Joker leaves Gotham City and moves onto Metropolis, where The Clown Prince Of Crime makes resident megalomaniac Lex Luthor an offer he canít refuse- he will kill Luthorís nemesis Superman for the sum of one billion dollars.

As you might expect, The Jokerís relocation to Metropolis is anything but stealth-like, which attracts the attention of Batman, who decides to pay a visit to the neighboring city and look up his old acquaintance. Although Batmanís arrival in Metropolis is certainly beneficial to Superman, the two heroes divergent modus operandi leads to a antagonism between the two superheroes. Of course, the situation doesnít improve when Lois Lane begins dating billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne, who just happens to be in Metropolis to check on a joint venture between his company and that of Lex Luthor.

THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN MOVIE is quite a bit of fun, offering plenty of action, as well as throwing a monkey wrench into the long established Superman/Lois Lane/Clark Kent love triangle. Although watching the superheroes and their arch foes square off is the meat and potatoes of THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN MOVIE, the filmmakers have wisely added a priceless catfight between The Jokerís main squeeze Harley Quinn and Lex Luthorís right hand gal Mercy Graves. THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN MOVIE features the vocal talents of Timothy Daly, Dana Delany, Kevin Conroy, Clancy Brown, Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin, Lisa Edelstein, Bob Hastings, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Joseph Bologna, Robert Costanzo, George Dzundza and Lauren Tom.

Warner Home Video has made THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN MOVIE available on DVD in a full screen presentation, which is reflective of the original television broadcast. This is a good-looking transfer of a television caliber animated film. Actually, the animation is quite nice for television fare, but it is a tiny notch below Warnerís direct-to-video productions. There is a bit of grain in spots, and occasionally an errant shot will appear a bit soft, but otherwise the image crisp and well defined. Much of the animation carries the darker quality of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, so a lot of the backgrounds have a murky quality. However, foreground colors tend to be fairly vibrant and contrast very well against their darker surroundings. Blacks are suitably inky and the contrast is pretty much what one would expect from something produced on a television budget- with dark foreground and dark background objects sometimes becoming a bit indistinguishable from one another. Overall, the presentation is quite pleasing, and definitely better than a typical television broadcast of THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN MOVIE. Digital compression artifacts are never problematic during the presentation.

THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN MOVIE comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack that decodes to standard surround. Like most mixes designed for the television venue, the forward soundstage tends to dominate, with the rear channels providing mild effects, as well as ambient and musical fill. The soundtrack does offer pretty good fidelity and a well-defined sound in the forward soundstage. Dialogue is very crisply rendered, with every line being completely understandable. French and Spanish language tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. A Conversation With Producer Bruce Timm runs five minutes and allows the producer/director to discuss both Batman and Superman animated series, as well as teaming up the two superheroes for THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN MOVIE. The Art Of The Batman/Superman Movie runs a bit under three minutes and offers a montage of storyboards, conceptual artwork and completed animation from the program. Get The Picture: Batman quickly shows how the character of Batman is drawn, while Get The Picture: Superman does the same for the Man Of Steel. Trailers for BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER, BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO and THE BATMAN SUPERMAN MOVIE are included on the DVD, along with Scooby-Doo DVD promos and a trailer for the upcoming SCOOBY-DOO movie. A cast & crew listing closes out the extra features for this DVD release.

THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN MOVIE is a whole lot of fun for fans of both BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and the animated SUPERMAN series. The creative team behind the movie were obviously having fun by placing these famous characters in a situation together and watching the fireworks erupt. Warnerís DVD presentation of THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN MOVIE is quite good making this a must have disc for fans.


The Batman Superman Movie (1998)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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