Alright, a while ago I reviewed the 40s Superman cartoons when the Flesicher Brothers were in control, which was great despite our leads being bland and boring. Now I'm going to review the 40s cartoon when "Famous Studios" took over it, since Paramount took over the Flesicher's studio in Miami, which resulted the Fleischer Brothers to split and be replaced. Will the new Producers not only give the series the same amount of justice, but make the characters better? ON WITH THE REVIEW!
As for our characters not much has changed since we've last seen them. Clark still has an interesting and fun personality; Superman is very bland; and Lois is still an unlikable and swallow damsel in distress. As for the animation, considering that the cartoon is taken over by a different studio, they still manage to bring the look and feel of the previous cartoons, which is indeed saying something. As for the climax, it was very unexciting, and there was nothing suspenseful or kickass about it.
Despite that "Famous Studios" is picking up where the Fleischer’s left off really well, with the animation and characters, rather than making it look completely different; the cartoon is sadly racist and anti Japanese American with its story and racist villains, as well as not doing anything creative or kickass with Superman nor the situation.
Before I start my review on this episode, I just want to quickly talk about the intro. Remember, how the second to last episode done by the Fleischers changed his ability to "Leap tall buildings in a single bound", to him flying higher then a Plane; well now, the writers change the entire introduction completely. Instead of being "Faster than a speeding bullet", he's "Faster than a streak of lightning!". Instead being "More powerful than a locomotive", he's "More powerful than the pounding surf!". Instead being "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound" or being "able to soar higher than any plane", he's "Mightier than a roaring hurricane!". Much like the change to the intro before this, it felt unnecessary and on top of it, it isn't as memorable or iconic as the original spoken intro. With another lame and unwanted change aside, how's the cartoon?
Superman has been stealing goods in the city and now every cop is after him. However, we quickly find out that the Superman causing crimes is a weak dumbass crook that's dressed up as Superman and with no suspense or tension at all, the real Superman goes after the phony and his crime boss. As you may have guessed, for a Superman imposter episode, there's no challenge, surprises, or anything at all to keep you on the edge of your seat. You obviously know that a dimwit and a scheming crime boss that re resembles Edward G. Robinson with no powerful weapons are no match against Superman. What is a match for Superman in this episode is, he has trouble opening a giant safe door. A Superhero with incredible strength, can't open a simple safe door, what were the writers thinking when they wrote this episode?
Negatives aside, there are a few good things in the episode, aside from the animation. Clark still remains likable and interesting; Lois doesn't get kidnapped at all during this episode; and Superman does have one or two kickass moments. Those moments are when he's silently scaring the two villains, which are done extremely well. It's almost like he's taking the Batman approach. As for the villains, as dimwitted and non-threatening as they are, are still very fun villains.
As a whole the episode and "Famous Studios" take on the series, is really not hitting the same nail than what the Fleischer’s did, and while this episode isn't as bad as the previous one since there are a few good things about it, it's still not up there with most of the episodes created by the Fleischer’s.
Clark and Lois somehow become war prisoners in Japan, and Superman decides to sabotage ships and any war equipment he can find from the Japanese. However, when the Japanese find out that it’s Superman, they threaten to kill Lois if Superman keeps it up. So we're back to where we started when "Famous Studios" first took over. This is another World War 2 Propaganda cartoon of Superman fighting against the Japanese, but instead of it being in America, it's in their home country. It sounds kickass and promising to see Superman fighting against the enemy on their own turf, but it's not.
The Japanese are just as racially stereotyped as the villains in the first episode, and in all honesty, they look worse in this episode, then the ones in the first one. The over-sized buck teeth; eyes that are even squintier; the horrible English; and speaking in stereotypical Japanese gibberish, is just racist as hell. I know we were fighting them at the time, but I'm sorry, this is just too uncomfortably racist to look at. Superman destroying and blowing up Japanese ships does sound cool, but the action is boring and unexciting; and seeing Superman killing people, when in all the other cartoons he doesn't, it seems out of character. You could make the argument that Superman has to kill these people for his country and can't bring the people that he killed to justice, since he's not in America; and while you may be right on that, I still can't help but see this cartoon as forced war time propaganda, that only put Superman behind the enemy lines, just so he can wipe out the enemy, instead of staying true to how the Fleischer’s developed this Superhero for the series. As for Lois, well, come on she's still bland, and is just there so Superman can save her.
Aside from the animation looking good, it's really just a forced war cartoon that forces this character who tries his hardest not to kill in the previous episodes, to constantly and willingly murdering thousands of racist looking soldiers, in a very anti-climatic way.
A bunch of criminals plan to bomb a weapon factory, along with Lois and its up to Superman to stop them. As simple as the plot is, I actually found myself confused after the first viewing, but after viewing it a bit more carefully, I began to fully understand it. So is it any good, well the set-up isn't really that exciting or creative compared to the other cartoons (Not counting the cartoons made by “Famous Studios”); Superman and Lois hasn't changed a bit; and the villains are very forgettable.
Despite all the bad stuff there were a few good things going on to make it worth while. I like that Clark disguises himself as a night watchmen, despite being very downplayed in the story. There's a cool escape scene with Lois trying to get away from the crooks. Of course, the best part is seeing Superman trying to save the factory from being bombed, which is cool, but at the same time, I kind of find hard to believe that Superman has trouble fighting one of the workers. I know he's big, but he's still a regular powerless human, while Superman is strong and powerful. As for the animation, it still remains to be incredible looking.
While "Famous Studios" still haven't reached the same high point as the Fleischer Brothers did, this one is really close to it. I just wish the plot was more interesting and that they didn't make Superman such a wimp when he's fighting regular criminals. With that aside, the action scenes with Superman are nearly as kickass as the Fleischer's run of the series, and while not really holding me on the edge of my seat, it was still entertaining.
THE MUMMY STRIKES
An Egyptologist is found to be murdered at a museum and the police suspect that his assistant murdered him. However, Clark is sent to go to the museum by a professor to find out the case, which catches Lois's interest. As Clark and the Professor learn about the history of King Tush to link to the murder of the Egyptologist to prove the innocence of his assistant; the tomb of King Tush's is opened and Mummies come alive, which is up to Superman to defeat them. Finally we're having Superman take on some kind of supernatural enemy, but sadly we get one huge of a let down because Superman just knocks them out, that's it. There's no supernatural power that Superman has to fight against, they're just regular Mummies with swords! The whole episode itself is just a dialogue heavy murder mystery with little to no action at all, and on top of it, we get like a minute and a half of Superman.
The only good thing that this episode has offer is the animation, and I have to admit the animation here is very creative with its Egyptian look. The background; the dark and grim look; seeing the hieroglyphics of the story of King Tush (Who's by the way, is a clever knock off on King Tut); and those scary designs for the Mummy's are really cool to look at. As for the main characters, they get really nothing to do. In fact, the Professor is more of the hero then any of the characters, since he solves the mystery. Putting Mummy's in, was just an excuse for Superman to show up and fight them, there really seemed to be no need for Superman at all in this episode.
When we finally get something that sounds like something challenging and creative for Superman to fight, the pay off is poor; the episode has way too much dialogue that will indeed bore kids; and Superman and Lois just in general don't fit in the story that the episode is telling, nor do they feel needed. The animation for ancient Egypt, however, is really cool and creative to look at, and that's THE ONLY reason why it’s worth a look.
So a Native Tribe in the jungle (Who are surprisingly not black face stereotypes) are for some odd and weird reason led by a Nazi, who dresses up as a cloaked leader; and has a secret military base in an ancient temple...uh, what the hell? The Nazis shoot down a plane with Lois inside it, and she survives, but gets captured by the Native Nazi tribe (If that’s what you call them) and is about to be burned at the stake. Luckily, Clark is flying above the Native Nazi camp, and has to save her and defeat the Nazis along with their Tribe. Animation aside, this episode sucks.
The concept is so stupid and boring, that it’s really one of the weakest episodes made when "Famous Studios" took over. Mixing Nazis and a Native Tribe together is stupid and makes little to no sense, and there are a lot of things in the episode that either need to be explained, or just doesn't add up in general. Lois of course, is just as stupid and bland as she is in all the episodes in the series; Superman is just as weak at fighting humans and opening locked doors as he was in "Destruction INC" and "Showdown"; and Clark is back to square 1. If you just had Lois being captured by this Tribe, and have them have some kind of monster, or had a supernatural power that challenges Superman, if done right, it could be an interesting episode. However, we instead have forced World War 2 propaganda with Nazis, War Planes, and a cameo of Hitler at the end (Who is sadly, not made to be over the top silly and evil, like in most cartoons at the time).
What more can I say? The episode is stupid and doesn't make much sense; the action is boring; the World War 2 propaganda doesn't feel needed; and the characters are boring.
THE UNDERGROUND WORLD
Lois and Clark are sent to go out on an exhibition with a Professor inside a cave and all of a sudden, Lois and the Professor are captured by a tribe of Hawk people (What?) and it is up to Superman to...YOU KNOW THE DRILL BY NOW! While, I'm glad that this episode has no forced World War 2 propaganda in it, as well as having good animation, it's sadly just as bad, as the majority of episodes made during this era.
While Clark and Lois are boring, the Professor is worse. Almost every line he says puts me to sleep. The Hawk tribe, while having creative designs, the episode has no build up to them what so ever, and just show up to kidnap Lois and the Professor as we learn really nothing about them at all. Of course, this would be fine, if we had some decent action between them and Superman, and at first it started out decent, as we see Superman try to fight off these creatures. However, lets just say how he defeats them is very anti-climatic. In fact, he doesn't use any of his Super powers to defeat them.
The episodes concept is lame, instead of being creative and cool; the characters are again really boring; and the action between Superman and the Hawk tribe is very unexciting.
In our final episode of the 40s cartoon; a secret agent who is carrying top secret information against the Nazis, are now after her and plan to kill her before she ever makes it to Washington D.C.. Clark gets in the middle of a pursuit with the Nazis and the Agent, and is captured, but of course, will eventually and easily escape their clutches and defeat them as Superman.
The Film-Noire look from the earlier episodes when the Fleischer Brothers ran it, is back and even though the animation in all the other episodes during this run was just as good, it didn't hit the same note as this cartoon did, mainly because of the stupid plots and anti-climatic action. Now I'm not going to say that the climax with Superman in this episode redeemed the anti-climatic action in the other episodes made during this era, because it doesn’t. There's no challenge for Superman to fight against, and I swear that the leading lady in this cartoon would have been killed before Superman can save her. I know it’s a cartoon, and time differs, but the execution was really hard for me to suspend my disbelief, or fall under the illusion. With all that said, the episode does have some really good action, such as a few car chases, and a brutal gun fight between the Nazis and the Cops. I also love the final image of Superman flying over Washington D.C. and flies past the American Flag, that was a good finale for the series.
As far as story goes involving Nazis, since most of the other episodes were forced World War 2 Propaganda episodes, while not as bad, forced, and insulting as the other World War 2 related episodes, it wasn't that good. Mainly because the Nazis don't pose as a threat to Superman at all, much like every other villain during this era. As you may have guessed, Lois is not in this episode at all, instead its the secret agent woman, and while being mostly a damsel in distress, I don't know, I can't put my finger on why, but she's seems much more interesting and likable, then Lois. As for Clark in this episode, he still sadly remains just as boring and bland as he was in the last couple of episodes.
While, I'm glad to see the good old Film-Noire style back, along with some cool action, and a nice conclusion to the series; the episode sadly fails just as much as the rest. Superman gets little to no action scenes; the Nazis are just typical War propaganda villains, that don't pose so much as a threat to our hero; and our damsel, while not as bad or swallow as Lois, is still forgettable.
OVERALL ON "FAMOUS STUDIOS'" TAKE ON SUPERMAN
While, its good seeing that "Famous Studio" kept the same animation style as the previous Superman cartoons did, which is quite good at times, I still feel like the Fleischer’s and Paramount should have just pulled the plug on the series, rather then give it to another animation studio. The characters are not only as bland as they were during the Fleischer’s run, but they had the guts of making Superman a wimp, and slowly taking steps backwards after when Clark started to have a personality. The action is not as awesome, epic, or kickass as the Fleischer’s cartoons, and is in fact very boring and anti-climatic. All the challenging obstacles and creative writing went completely down the drain, when "Famous Studios" took over by mostly giving us World War 2 Propaganda, and while a product of the time that was carried out by many other studios, it just feels forced and unnecessary here. The animation maybe good, but personally I'll just stick to the Fleischer’s Superman cartoons, since they were creative, energizing, action packed, and awesome, as well as having great animation, which I'm pretty certain that the majority of the influential stuff, came from that series, instead of this bland, boring, and unexciting take on "The Man Of Steel".
RATING FOR "FAMOUS STUDIOS'" TAKE ON SUPERMAN 1/5
OVERALL ON THE WHOLE 40S SUPERMAN CARTOON
Well, as a whole it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The Fleischer’s run of the series for the majority of their run was creative and had plenty of epic action when it came to Superman saving the city, due to having Mad Scientists; giant Monsters; Crooks with high-tech equipment; and Natural Disasters. When "Famous Studios" took over it all became boring and unexciting, with the World War 2 stuff; dimwitted crooks; and half-assed super natural elements, which none of those things posed as a threat, or lead to anything awesome at all. I think the biggest issue that I have with the shows full run are the characters, who are once again boring, bland, and very uninteresting. Even when one of the characters does start becoming interesting, a few episodes later, that character is back to being boring and bland. What the 40s cartoon does however knowwhat to always bring that's great, is the animation, because no matter what episode you see, even if its the "Famous Studios" cartoons, the animation always manages to look amazing! So in its long run, it’s a mixed bag, but the great stuff, even though the majority of it came from the Fleischer's, is still great! However, and as I said, when I gave you my overall on "Famous Studios" run, its best just to watch the first 9 cartoons of the series created by the Fleischer’s.
RATING FOR THE WHOLE SERIES 3/5