SUPERMAN: RED SON Spoiler-Free Review; "A Hard-Hitting Story Which Is More Than Just Action Scenes"

SUPERMAN: RED SON <font color=red>Spoiler-Free</font> Review; "A Hard-Hitting Story Which Is More Than Just Action Scenes"

Superman: Red Son arrives on DVD and Blu-ray next month, but does this latest adaptation of a classic comic book story do the source material justice? Here's our take on the latest DC animated adventure...

Warner Bros. Animation has been on quite the run with its slate of DC offerings as of late, and Superman: Red Son (based on Mark Millar and Dave Johnson's acclaimed limited series) is another winner for the studio. Like previous adaptations, there are things here which work better than the comics it's based on and moments which are sorely missed, but it makes for an overall satisfying adventure which should have no problem keeping fans of the source material happy. 

Following a similar structure to the comic book, Superman: Red Son once again takes us to Soviet Russia for a tale that spans decades as we learn what would have happened if Kal-El's rocket landed in the USSR instead of Smallville, Kansas. Along the way, we're introduced to different versions of familiar faces, including Batman, Wonder Woman, and even the Green Lantern Corps. In the capable hands of director Sam Liu, this action-packed adventure is at its best when it explores the different relationships this alternate reality has created. Whether it's a fun new take on Superman's relationship with Lois Lane or a quiet, but still impactful, reveal about Diana Prince's sexuality, it's never not enjoyable to spend time with these reimagined characters. 

Freed from tying into past or upcoming DC animated adventures, the film retains the style of animation we've grown used to over the past few years, but still includes some eye-catching visuals, and a feel which is definitely reminiscent of the comic book it's based on. It's still a shame that there's not a bigger difference in terms of style between each of these movies and it feels like this would have been the perfect project to take some risks with in that respect.

This Man of Steel may be a dictator, but there are enough elements of the Superman we all know and love for you to root for this version of the hero as he clearly struggles with his newfound role ruling over the Soviet Union. From an earnest youngster to  a man struggling to do the right thing, he occasionally heads down some darker paths and Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter) brings the right amount of gravitas to the iconic DC Comics creation...along with a convincing Russian accent!  Unfortunately, the movie suffers from a few uninspired performances, but Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars Rebels) makes for an excellent Diana Prince and it would be no bad thing for her to become Warner Bros. Animation's go to choice for the Amazon warrior. 

The highlight, however, may be Diedrich Bader's (Napoleon Dynamite) Lex Luthor. We've seen a lot of versions of that villain in these films over the past few years, but this heroic (well, mostly) take on the character has a good reason to hate Superman. One of the most exciting things about watching Superman: Red Son is being left struggling to decide who you should be rooting for. It's a nice change of pace for one of these films to actually get us invested in a legitimately hard-hitting story which is more than just action scenes and comic book panels come to life. There have been rumblings for a while now that a live-action version of this tale could be something that's explored on the big screen one day, but even that might struggle to top what we see here. The only thing we'd like to see in that which is sometimes missing here are a few more risks which help ensure it leaves an even greater lasting impact.

With a strong story and a stellar cast, Superman: Red Son features complex and compelling takes on characters like Superman and Lex Luthor which help put it up there with classics like Under The Red Hood and The Killing Joke.


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