I hate to say it but I'd probably be on the side of The Elite – a band of super-powered vigilantes who don't share Superman's high ideals about criminals being left to the law of the land. I'd most likely be rooting for them to extinguish the masses of mean, thoughtless thugs who do nothing but cause hurt and pain to the mass population. There's a reason why we as a society gravitate towards stories of vigilante justice, especially when said justice circumvents the due process of law. There's a reason 'Dexter' is such a highly popular show. We like to see bad guys get their comeuppance. Deep down, even though we wouldn't really like to admit it, there's a part of most of us that says "good riddance" to the killers and rapists that end up on Dexter's killing table. In 'Superman vs. The Elite' Superman tries to keep the balance of vigilante justice and the courts. It doesn't really work out for him.
At the beginning of the movie Superman (voiced by George Newbern) is confronted by a villainous creature named Atomic Skull (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker). His name pretty much summarizes everything about him and his powers. Harnessing some kind of radioactive power Atomic Skull, who is just a skull floating in a purple flame above a suit of armor, vaporizes people by simply pointing his finger. Superman fights him and eventually subdues him, but the question is raised, "Why didn't you just kill him, Superman? He killed so many other people." Superman retorts, "I am not above the law."
The world in 'Superman vs. The Elite' is a lot like the world we live in nowadays (minus the superheroes and super villains). The people have outgrown Superman's dated idyllic standards. In essence, courts and prisons are for a bygone era. Let's just start executing criminals where they stand, no questions asked.
That's where a new group of anti-superheroes, called The Elite, come in. Led by Manchester Black (voiced by Robin Atkin Downes), a smarmy Englishman with telekinetic powers and a Union Jack tattooed across his entire chest. He's flanked by three other powerful allies: Coldcast (voiced by Catero Colbert), a master at manipulating electricity; Managerie (voiced by Melissa Disney), a humanoid winged creature who looks like a harpy and commands large reptilian slugs that she can shoot out of her body; and finally there's The Hat (voiced by Andrew Kishino), a conjuror of just about anything you can imagine. He's what Criss Angel has always dreamed of being. Together they form The Elite, a group of superheroes who oppose bad guys, but do so with a willful disobedience to due process and any kind of legal mumbo jumbo. Basically, they have a thirst to kill people and have decided that killing criminals will be the easiest way to get support for themselves.
At first Superman thinks he has new allies, but he soon realizes that Manchester Black and his crew aren't willing to conduct superhero-ing inside the law. Superman soon finds himself battling The Elite because they are unwilling to give up their homicidal nature. It's far too hard to simply capture criminals and turn them over to the prison system. It's much easier (and a ton more fun) to simply kill them and be done with it.
Like many of the Warner feature-length cartoon movies that come to home video 'Superman vs. The Elite' is rated PG-13 and for good reason. There's plenty of violence, people actually die, swears are plentiful, and there's quite a lot of sexual innuendo thrown around, so suffice it to say this really isn't a cartoon for younger kids. However, adults who grew up with the comics and characters will probably like this. It has adult themes and adult-oriented action complete with blood and guts. It's a grittier Superman tale and had much more action and adventure than 'Superman Returns' could've ever dreamed of having. I thought that the whole "superheroes are not above the law" mantra was laid on a little thick, especially when Superman himself repeats it over and over during the movie. However, it was pretty well done and is worth the 74 minutes of time you'd spend watching it.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Superman vs. The Elite' comes in a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack. The Blu-ray is a 50GB disc. There is also an UltraViolet Digital Copy included here. The movie comes packed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase and is region free.
The visuals provided by Warner in this VC-1 encoded 1080p presentation are solidly strong throughout the film. Past DC Comics Universe releases have had fairly strong offerings on Blu-ray and this one is no exception. The visuals are brightly colored and feature very little artifacting.
Colors are boldly vivid. I was impressed with the deepness of Superman's blue suit and the electric purple fire that surrounded Atomic Skull's head. The animator's lines are presented distinctly in just about every shot. Blacks are sufficiently dark and shadows just add to the already great-looking presentation (take a look at Atomic Skull's dark, foreboding body armor to see a good example of the use of shadows in this presentation).
As for cons, there are only a couple. There is some light artifacting, as there is with most of these releases for some reason, but it's so light you probably won't notice it if you aren't really searching for it. Very minor banding is visible in a few scenes featuring wide swaths of gradient color, but nothing that will really pull you out of the experience. For a straight to home video animated movie Warner has done a fine job indeed.
Many of the early DCU releases were brought to Blu-ray with wimpy lossy soundtracks that disappointed reviewers and consumers alike. In that context the inclusion of a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track on this release feels even better than it probably should.
This is a full-bodied, action-centric audio presentation. Panning effects work smoothly as Superman zooms from one edge of the screen to the other. Bodies crash into buildings as Superman and the Atomic Skull ping-pong from skyscraper to skyscraper, rock and metal crunches beneath them as the sound travels seamlessly from speaker to speaker depending on their orientation on screen. Explosions harness some deep LFE, but if I had to pick a weakness here the low-end would be it. It's just a tad light compared to everything else. If I had to pick another slight weakness it'd be the fact that the surround ambiance isn't quite on par with many other action films. This seems to be a running thing with the DCU releases though. The rear channels have always seemed a little too subdued, as much more priority is given to the front half of the sound system.
Everything else is technically sound. Dialogue is crisp. No one's words get lost in the fray and even though Manchester Black has a pretty thick accent it's still easy to hear and understand him. I think fans of these releases will be pleased with the way this one turned out. It's pretty comparable to say, the audio track found on 'Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.'
'Superman vs. The Elite' doesn't really hold back when it's talking morality. Superman himself offers up a few annoying diatribes about being honorable in your dealings with criminals, which do get a bit tiresome. While the heavy-handedness got on my nerves a bit, I really enjoyed 'Superman vs. The Elite' for the most part. It's an adult-oriented story which doesn't shy away from violence. It's a much grittier story than we're used to with Superman. Fans will definitely want to pick this one up, but I'd recommend anyone who has a passing interest in the subject matter to pick it up. The audio and video are quite solid and the special feature package is decent. Give it a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.