The Death and Return of Superman appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. As expected, this became a satisfying image.
Sharpness excelled. The movie always came across as tight and well-defined, so don’t expect any signs of softness.
Jaggies and moiré effects also remained absent, and the image lacked edge haloes or artifacts. In addition, print flaws were a non-factor and didn’t appear at any point.
In terms of colors, Reign went with a fairly bright palette that could lean teal, but it also emphasized primary colors. The tones looked solid within those parameters, and the 4K UHD’s HDR abilities added vivacity to the hues.
Blacks were deep and tight, while shadows showed nice clarity. HDR brought out strong contrast, too. Across the board, the image worked well.
I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Death opened up the comic book material in an appropriate manner. The forward channels brought out the majority of the material, but the entire package added a lot to the movie. Music presented strong stereo imaging, while effects cropped up in logical spots and blended well.
The surrounds also contributed good information. For the most part, these reinforced the forward channels, but they also contributed a fair amount of unique material.
These instances mainly occurred during bigger action scenes, but they spread out in quieter scenes as well and even featured some directional dialogue. The back speakers brought out a nice sense of space and environment.
Audio quality always satisfied. Speech was warm and natural, without edginess or other issues.
Music sounded lively and full, while effects displayed good definition. Those elements seemed accurate and dynamic. All of this led to a positive presentation that deserved a “B+”.
No extras appear on the Death 4K UHD itself, but a Blu-ray copy brings some materials. These mix old and new components.
Also from prior releases, The Brawl That Topped Them All lasts 16 minutes, 23 seconds and offers notes from DC Entertainment Creative Director Mike Carlin, artist Jon Bogdanove, co-director Jake Castorena, and martial artist Christian Medina.
“Brawl” examines the creation of Doomsday, story/characters, fight choreography, and visual choices. This doesn’t become a great look at the production, but it mixes enough useful details to deserve a viewing.
Lex Luthor: The Greatest Nemesis runs 16 minutes, eight seconds and features director Sam Liu, DC Entertainment Animation Creative Director Mike Carlin, comic artist Jon Bogdanove and co-director Jake Castorena.
As implied by the title, “Nemesis” offers a look at the Luthor character. It works fine for what it is, though I wish it’d delved into Lex’s history and evolution over the years.
A Sneak Peek at Reign of the Supermen runs nine minutes, 33 seconds and features info from Carlin, Liu, screenwriters Tim Sheridan and Jim Krieg, voice director Wes Gleason, Warner Home Video EVP Jeff Brown, and actors Cress Williams, Cameron Monaghan, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson and Jerry O’Connell. It provides basics about Reign and exists as mainly as an advertisement – and an odd one since we already own the film!
We also get a Sneak Peek at Justice League Vs. the Fatal Five It fills nine minutes, 29 seconds with notes from producer Bruce Timm, screenwriters Jim Krieg and Eric Carrasco, director Sam Liu, and voice director Wes Gleason.
“Peek” gives us basics about story and characters, cast and performances, and related areas. It’s a decent overview, albeit one that exists to sell the movie.
Next we find a Sneak Peek for Wonder Woman: Bloodlines. It fills 10 minutes with notes from Tucker, writer Mairghread Scott, producer Jim Krieg, voice director Wes Gleason and actors Rosario Dawson and Jeffrey Donovan.
This “Sneak Peek” follows the same path as the prior one. It also seems enjoyable but largely oriented toward selling product.
And the hits keep on coming with two separate “peeks” discuss parts one and two of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. These fill a total of 19 minutes, 28 seconds and include comments from Carlin, Oliva, casting director Andrea Romano, screenwriter Bob Goodman, co-producer Alan Burnett, executive producer Bruce Timm, and actors Peter Weller, David Selby, Ariel Winter, Michael McKean, Michael Emerson and Mark Valley.
We get notes about story and characters as well as cast and performances. These become basic advertisements and not much more.
Under From the DC Comics Vault, we find six animated episodes: Justice League Unlimited’s “The Doomsday Sanction” (23:02), Batman: The Brave and the Bold’s “Darkseid Descending!” (22:52), Legion of Super Heroes’ “Dark Victory” parts 1 and 2 (45:42), Superman: The Animated Series’ “Heavy Metal” (20:52) and Justice League Unlimited’s “Panic in the Sky” (23:04).
“Dark Victory” focuses on a conflict with Brainiac. Why do these appear alongside Death? I don’t know. Sure, they involve a post-Death Superman spinoff and an alien threat, but otherwise there’s no major link.
Whatever the reason for their inclusion, the “Dark Victory” episodes offer passable entertainment. They give us a reasonably interesting story but the cartoony depiction doesn’t suit the basic drama at hand.
“Metal” appears here because it shares the character Steel with Reign, whereas “Panic” pops up for less obvious reasons. Sure, the Justice League appears in Reign, but that seems to be the only connection. Whatever the case, both shows offer some entertainment value.
Those four appeared on the prior Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen releases, but the other two didn’t. “Sanction” offers an obvious connection because it features Doomsday, but it doesn’t become an especially compelling adventure.
Finally, “Descending” involves a Superman villain, though it uses Batman and his new version of the Justice League, not the Man of Steel. It follows the series’ usual comedic style and entertains.
New to this package, Long Live Superman runs 45 minutes, 46 seconds and offers info from DiDio, Bogdanove, writer Louise Simonson, writers/artists Neal Adams and Jerry Ordway, artist Brett Breeding, writer/editor Denny O’Neil, author Danny Fingeroth, and DC CCO Jim Lee.
“Live” looks at the enduring appeal of Superman as well as aspects of the character’s long history. Some insights about changes/evolution over the decades materializes, and I like the shots of comics and other media across this span.
However, much of “Live” feels like a mix of general praise and mediocre history. It’s a watchable piece but not one with much insight.
The Blu-ray opens with an ad for Batman: Hush. Trailers adds promos for Joker and Teen Titans Go! Vs. Teen Titans.
On a separate 4K UHD, we get Superman/Doomsday. The very first entry in the DC Animated series, it offers another interpretation of the Death of Superman graphic novel.
For more details about the film itself, click this link. This becomes the movie’s 4K UHD debut, and it shares the same audio as the Blu-ray in the link.
The 4K UHD visuals offer the usual improvements, though. The 4K Doomsday offers better accuracy, deeper blacks and brighter colors. It turns into a nice upgrade and a good bonus here.
Note that the 4K UHD of Doomsday eliminates the extras from the Blu-ray. That comes as a disappointment.
The 4K UHD box also includes a Steel figure.
As an adaptation of a famous graphic novel, The Death and Return of Superman works pretty well. While the second half tops the first, the whole package does enough to offer an engaging enterprise. The 4K UHD boasts excellent visuals along with solid audio and a selection of bonus materials highlighted by the 4K UHD debut of Superman/Doomsday. If you don’t already own the separate movies, this becomes a good purchase.