A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a Superman story pitched on a more adult level. In addition to rampant violence and mass destruction of cities and machinery, people are killed (even animals and children, off-screen). Characters swear, at PG-level. Superman and Lois Lane have been "more than friends" (as Lex Luthor puts it), though we don't see them having sex. There is, er, super-nudity in a clinical setting, but shadows and amusing obstacles block our view of the, um, super-gear.
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What's the story?
A feature successor (but not a direct continuation) of the most recent TV Superman cartoons, SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY adapts a big-selling DC Comics cycle of the '90s that made headlines for Superman dying (apparently), and the tangled events that result. This is a more streamlined retelling -- no Wonder Woman or other DC icons in the mix. As this opens, Superman and Lois Lane are already together. Lois is about to get Superman admitting his Clark Kent identity as a symbol of commitment when an emergency strikes. Lex Luthor's illegal mining operations unearth an alien craft holding a genetically engineered "super-soldier." Superman's fight in Metropolis with the relentless, merciless foe seems to end with the Man of Steel giving his own life in the final effort. Even ruthless arch-enemy Lex Luthor feels cheated, but it gives him the opportunity for an extreme power grab.
Is it any good?
Short-attention-span viewers of all ages never need to wait long in this movie for another super-fight that destroys whole skyscrapers at a time. Early on, Superman laments he can only save people through his strength, but not through intellect (it's suggested Luthor, hoarding various medical miracle cures he's invented, does have that brilliance). And sure enough, super-beat-downs predominate. But the script takes time now and then to put some real thought into fundamental questions of what personality traits make Superman the intrinsically good guy he is -- and where that could go wrong, in a super-substitute.
There is also the intriguing (but short-lived) depiction of Metropolis without Superman, and how his absence affects longstanding characters in the series. This makes Superman: Doomsday a distinct level above lots of video releases of the older TV Superman cartoons. If only the music score was more orchestral, not a cheap-sounding synthesizer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the different viewpoints of Kal-El (AKA Superman) we get here, chiefly from Luthor and Lois, especially when a wannabe tries to take his place. What is missing from the substitute Superman? Do you prefer characters like Batman and Superman as simple do-gooders of yesteryear, or the more complicated ones of today?
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