The Superman Cartoons of Max & Dave Fleischer
Image Entertainment Catalog ID4388BRDVD
Released: June 3, 1998
Running Time: 147 minutes
Sound: PCM Mono
No region coding
This is the best DVD collection of the classic Superman cartoons which inspired the modern Batman and Superman animated series. The first nine cartoons were produced by the Fleischer studio in the early 1940s. The production values of these cartoons is remarkable, as they are filled with realistic animation and impressive effects. The characters look identical to the comic books of the time, and the stories would make any comic book writer of that era proud. These are the greatest superhero cartoons ever created, and are certainly among the greatest sci-fi/fantasy cartoons as well. The final 8 cartoons were produced by Famous Studios, which was the name for what was left of original studio after Paramount booted the Fleischer brothers out. These cartoons maintain the quality animation, but the stories are not quite as good. Some of these cartoons put Superman into World War II, foiling Japanese spy plots and even destroying buildings in Japan. Viewed today they are obvious propaganda pieces, more interesting for their historical value than as entertainment. Every single Superman cartoon is included on this dual-layered disc, and they all retain their original Paramount opening titles, though most don't have the end titles.
The picture quality of the first two cartoons is fantastic. You can hardly believe that these films are 60 years old. The quality of the rest of the cartoons is fair to good. The most disappointing one is "Terror on the Midway", which is apparently missing a few seconds of its opening footage, and is recreated with still pictures over the original soundtrack. The bonus Private Snafu parody cartoon doesn't look very good either, but there's no use in complaining about a free bonus. Digital compression artifacts may be noticeable when viewed up close, but on normal viewing you shouldn't see them. The audio is not on a compressed Dolby Digital soundtrack as with most DVDs, but is instead on an uncompressed PCM soundtrack (16-bit 48KHz for you computer nerds), which is slightly better quality than a CD. This is in stark contrast to the mutilated soundtracks of the Superman DVDs from WinStar Home Entertainment.
My only complaint about this DVD is the awful cover. Even though this DVD may be more expensive than the two Superman DVDs offered by WinStar, there is no doubting that this is the one that best presents these cartoons as they were originally seen. This disc is an essential part of any DVD owner's animation collection.
"The Mechanical Monsters"