Extra Time - The Superman Anthology Blu-ray Extras

Extra Time: the easy guide to Blu-ray and DVD extras

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Star of the piece is undoubtedly Look, Up In The Sky: The Amazing Story Of Superman, a one-hundred and fifteen minute long 2006 documentary which starts at the character's inception and works all the way up to Superman Returns' release.

Narrated by Kevin Spacey (who at one point rather awkwardly has to speak about himself in the third person) its presentation is nothing special but its content is well managed by director Kevin Burns, who spends more time looking at the comic books than you might think and elicits honest responses from the cast and crew of the films. One of two features updated to full high-definition, it goes in to incredible detail on occasion and fans not familiar with the back story will find everything they need here. There's perhaps a bit too much coverage of Smallville but then again it has been running since 2001 and forms a large part of the Superman mythos.

Superman And The Mole Men, a 1951 film referenced in the documentary, is included on the first disc and is worth a brief look. At just under an hour its hardly unwatchable, even if it is as dated as you might expect.

Smallville's marketing campaign deliberately played on Superman's supposed biblical elements, as discussed in the excellent documentary, Look, Up In The Sky

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It's surprising to note the lack of animated menus. Whilst this might not seem like a big deal it surely can't have been too hard to just place John Williams' theme over the top of them and the lack of this element brings the overall presentation of the set down a notch.

The Adventures Of Superpup, a 1958 spin-off which is too awful for words, didn't need to be included here and whilst the Fleischer cartoons are a welcome addition (and, indeed, look great considering they were made in 1940s), the lack of any of the more modern animated adaptations means that this can hardly be called definitive. Even by just including the first episode of one or two of them the set would have increased its coverage of the Superman canon by quite a large degree.

There's also no evidence here of 1984's Supergirl, which - despite evidence to the contrary when you look at its IMDb rating - was surely an oddity worth including.

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The other offering which comes in full HD is the rather odd The Science Of Superman, which can't decide whether it wants to be tongue-in-cheek gentle joke or earnest expose. The result is several rather fun moments where scientist play along with the conceit that this is all a bit of a lark and several moments where scientists forget where they are and what they're doing and get sidetracked in to actually trying to explain how Superman might do what he does. One particular moment, where a scientist launches into a theory that Supes might have 'skin like solar panels', proves an unintentional joy.

Other material includes

- Original TV documentaries
- A tribute to Christopher Reeve
- An alternative opening to Superman Returns
- Various commentaries (sadly lacking the stars of the films)
- A Richard Donner introduction to his cut of Superman II

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The Superman Anthology is out in the UK on Blu-ray on 13th June 2011.

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