DC has a track record of notable stories, some being more likeable than others, but one must admit that they have made such iconic and unforgettable characters. These characters can change from writer to writer but the spirit is there most of the time.
Two films that show a good example of this are that of Superman: Red Son and Birds Of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Two films that share the spirit of their respective characters in a new light or world but still maintain the spirit of what makes them, them.
What do I mean by this? Let’s start with the newest DC’S animated universe film, Superman: Red Son. An animated adaptation of the now iconic elseworld story written by Mark Millar (Best known for Ultimates, Civil War, Kick-Ass, and The Kingsman).
The film and comic reimagine America’s favorite DC hero, Superman, as a Soviet hero, whom lands in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. For here on out I will be talking about the film, for I haven’t read the comic the film was based on.
The film opens with Superman running away from bullies, and a girl, coming to his rescue, he reveals his powers to her, telling her that he was not afraid of being hurt by the bullies, but rather was afraid of hurting them. He is established from here on out as the good guy.
After a stylish opening sequence, it shows that Superman is a propaganda tool, showing off to America his feats of strength. He fights for communism. He fights on behalf of the Soviet Union. After a Russian satellite malfunctions, it is predicted to crash into American soil, quickly he comes to the rescue, hoping to coerce US citizens into his morals and beliefs.
That’s the basis of this film, some of the intresting bits of this universe include a Russian equivalent of Batman whom has different morals from that of his American counterpart, he is a freedom fighter and protester of Superman’s Soviet regime and Lex Luthor, whom is married to the lovely Louis Lane, is a US government scientist whom
The plot starts off strong as it gives a solid concept and the right pieces to fit the puzzle of what makes this idea intresting, but then it kinda just throws it all away?
Let me explain. The mighty American hero, Superman, The Man of Steel whom for years has been an ideal model of the American dream who fights for truth, justice, and the American way, is given a chance to be explored in a new light with a new set of ideals. He is still the Man of Steel, but rather he fights to make everyone equal, withing the realm of communism. What makes him different is that, he COULD enforce and inspire the theoretical ideal version of communism.
This film doesn’t really explore that. It falls right back into its shortcomings of its American writers. Rather than giving us a grey area to think and form our own thoughts, the film says “Communism bad, Capitalism good (sometimes).” SPOLIER ALERT: America wins in the end. The film ends with Superman seeing the error of his ways and “sacrificing” himself to save the world after realizing his communist ideals are what lead him to the point of a necessary sacrifice.
Maybe I’m just thinking about this too much but I feel like the Man of Steel wouldn’t have this much fucking trouble establishing a perfect communist society when he is just about close to being a god. The film has this strange struggle of depicting “Superman good, Communism bad.” It pulls you out of the film, as one second you have Superman saving prisoners from the gulags and killing Stalin for his brutal inhumane methods talking then the next moment Superman talks about reconditioning terrorists.
Superman is not a man who changes his ordeals but rather sticks to the purest form of them. He is the ideal American citizen, therefore in this film he should be the ideal Soviet citizen, whom wishes for the best of his state. Maybe I’m getting this wrong but I feel like despite this being a film about a Soviet Superman it is obviously written by American’s whom do not really care for the Soviet ideals.
The story is what brought me to this film, the idea, there’s not much else to judge and criticize here. The animation is the typical standard DC animated film quality, the voice acting gets the job done, and the action is just used to get through the story. The story and ideas of this film is where the meat of this film lies and I feel as if they’ve just given up a third of the way into the film.
On the other hand there’s Birds Of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn or Birds of Prey or Harely Quinn: Birds of Prey. For the sake of length I will refer to the film as Birds of Prey for the rest of this review. Despite the controversy surrounding this film, being that of a sequel to shitshow that was Suicide Squad and (because virgins) it’s a female centric film, I absolutely love this film.
The films action, acting, themes, set designs, costume designs, cinematography, music, EVERYTHING is just if not perfect, at least fun. I love the action choreography, in large thanks to stunt choreographer Johnathan Eusebio, best known for his work in the John Wick franchise.
The costumes are phenomenal, they fit a blend of comic accuracy and realism that fit well within its world. The costumes exude personality, color, and variety from Harley’s widened wardrobe to Huntress’ leather get up. Each costume helps define the characters and what they’re like.
The other thing I love is the set design. The film brings out a new version of Gotham, rather than it being inspired by New York and English architecture, the films presents us with a crime ridden, bright, colorful, LA inspired Gotham city. There are fun little details like all the Janus corporation signs being vandalized (possibly by Black Masks crew or just some immature teens) scribbling out the “J,” or all the fun little details and items sitting inside the Gotham Police Department evidence storage room.
This film gives us a new version of our protagonist that are rarely explored in film, like Harely whom rather than being Jokers partner in crime, is heartbroken and dealing with being alone. She endured abuse for years and now that abuse and trauma and depression is catching up with her.
The music in this film is phenomenal, the trailer music using an intense cover of Eidth Pilaf’s “Hymne a L’amour” for the teaser trailer and the Lucy Woodward cover of “It’s Oh So Quiet” (from Disney’s Ice Princess), to absolute bangers throughout the film like “Boss Bitch” by Doja Cat and “Smile” by Maisie Peters. The music is upbeat and meshes well with Daniel Pemberton’s score throughout the film.
I absolutely love this film I wish to watch it for years to come, I understand some may not have enjoyed this movie but I feel that if you enjoy watching Deadpool, Atomic Blonde, or Kill Bill this film might be up your ally. I don’t want to talk much about this film, as I want people to go into this film blindly but I truly enjoyed every second of this film.