A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that All-Star Superman contains the usual cartoon/superhero violence, with at least three scary and/or intense scenes, plus some minor sensuality. Far from a kiddie cartoon, this story centers on the Man of Steel's impending death, which lends a dark tone to the movie. But this Superman is also a hugely admirable figure, showing forgiveness, bravery, empathy, and inclusiveness as he wraps up his affairs. It's a very touching story with some powerful messages. The violence keeps it from being age appropriate for younger kids, but teens should enjoy it, as well as any grown-up Superman fans.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After rescuing a scientific mission from the surface of the sun, Superman (voiced by James Denton) learns that he has increased powers -- but he also finds out that he's dying. He tries to wrap up some unfinished business, like telling Lois Lane (Christina Hendricks) about his secret identity. Meanwhile, he must also deal with various meddlers -- like super-strong time-travelers Samson and Atlas and lost explorers from Krypton who wish to take over the Earth. Ultimately, it turns out that Lex Luthor (Anthony LaPaglia) is responsible for Superman's predicament; Superman must deal with the villain's nefarious plans, which include turning Earth's yellow sun red, thereby draining Superman's powers. But in doing that, Luthor has unexpectedly poisoned the sun; can Superman survive long enough to save humanity one last time?
Is it any good?
Despite some gruesome violence here and there, the movie is surprisingly powerful as Superman considers his life and legacy. It focuses on strong ideas like forgiveness, empathy, inclusiveness, and tolerance, as well as love. Likewise, the voice performance of Denton, who is new to Superman, is wonderfully soft and modulated; he's the most laid-back Superman yet. Though the action and fight scenes still pack a punch, it's the quiet moments here that are the most memorable.
Based on Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's reboot of Superman, this animated feature has the difficult task of boiling 12 comic books down to a relatively brief 75 minutes. The result is that the movie plays mostly in self-contained episodes rather than in a linear story, but veteran superhero director Sam Liu (Planet Hulk, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths) sustains the thoughtful, reflective mood of the movie throughout.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. Is it exciting here, or is it more ugly and disturbing? How does the movie achieve this mood?
How does it feel to watch a movie about how Superman is dying? Is the movie sad or reflective? What kinds of things does it make you think about?
How is this Superman different from others you've seen in comics, TV shows, and movies?
What lesson does Lex Luthor learn at the end of the movie after "borrowing" Superman's powers?
- On DVD or streaming: February 22, 2011
- Cast: Anthony LaPaglia, Christina Hendricks, James Denton
- Director: Sam Liu
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures
- Run time: 75 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: sequences of action and violence, language including brief innuendo, and some sensuality
- Last updated: September 24, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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