This collection of fully restored, 1930s animated shorts from the legendary Max Fleischer are a real treat. For anyone who has grown up associating the Superman character with different phases of art direction in Superman... more » comic books over the last 50 years, or best remembers the look of the Christopher Reeve films or the old television show, these 'toons will be a mini-revelation. Expanding on cues from the first generation of Superman comics, Fleischer immerses the man from Krypton in a marvelous blend of art deco, William Cameron Menzies-inspired sets, and edgy compositions that can't help but remind one of Fritz Lang-ian paranoia. Everything is oversized, blocky but rounded, ferociously modernist, and all too vulnerable. Superman's very function as a character in these highly dramatic and richly colored fables is both defending the overbearing, urban progressiveness and capital excesses of a young 20th century while also reassuring us that progress is not as indomitable as a man--at least a Superman. The DVD includes a bonus Fleischer short, "Play Safe," plus information about the restoration process, three choices of sound, complete history, synopsis, and credits. --Tom Keogh« less
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 02/27/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Produced during 1941-42, the classic Superman cartoons of Max and Dave Fleischer remain among the finest works in animation history. Unfortunately, their public-domain status has resulted in several DVD compilations of variable quality. Bosko's "Diamond Anniversary Edition" is the best Superman disc available. All 17 cartoons are uncut and presented in the order of their original theatrical release. However, it should be noted that the Fleischers were responsible for the first 10 Superman cartoons (including "Japoteurs"), with the remaining shorts produced by Famous Studios during 1942-43. Despite a few memorable efforts, such as "Jungle Drums" and "The Underground World," the Famous animators were unable to duplicate the Fleischer magic. Since the cartoons were expensive to produce, it was no surprise that Paramount and DC Comics agreed to end the series after two years. Still, the best Superman shorts - "The Mechanical Monsters" (1941) and "The Bulleteers" (1942) - are mini-masterpieces that evoke the comic-book spirit better than any live-action film. The print quality of Bosko's Superman disc is excellent, even though a first-generation master of "Terror on the Midway" has yet to surface."
The only early animated collection you need.
Paul A. Fucito | Washington, DC | 10/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having seen a number of the early Superman cartoons on other "public domain" compilations, I can say with confidence, DON'T BUY THE OTHERS!!! Bosko Video has a reputation for putting out high quality products and this collection is nothing less than fantastic. The images are superbly clear and the audio is nearly flawless (no, there are NO new or altered sound effects added).
As much as I love the continuing modern adventures of super heros like Superman, Batman, and Spiderman, the earlier stories and artwork for each hero have always been my favorites. The Fleischer cartoons capture the early art-deco look and feel of the original Superman / Action Comics era. The artwork is great and the stories are timeless. This is the series that spawned the well know lines: "Faster than a speeding bullet...... More powerful than a locomative....able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.....Superman" These cartoons are the epitome of early American comic book heros.
The only complaints I have (and really, this is nothing) is that each episode starts with an added supscript "Originally Released October 1942" for a few seconds. Having this appear before the cartoon starts at all would have been better instead of inserting over the actual film itself. It would have been better suited to a booklet, which leads to my other complaint. There is no booklet. They do make up for it with a nice video intro regarding Superman and the cartoon series however.
This set is a real steal for the price, and it contains all of the early episodes, complete and fully restored. I would suggest this set for fans who prefer the early look of comic book heros, art deco animation, and Superman in general. Fans of period-look films like The Iron Giant or Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow will also love this (especially when Superman fights robots). Fleisher cartoons have always been great, but all too often the are butchered in the public domain. This is a rare example of Fleisher's work presented in such quality.
Not quite Ultimate, but Close
John Field | San Diego | 05/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Superman - The Ultimate Max Fleischer Cartoon Collection. Hitting the DVD battlefield to conquer your pocketbook is yet another version of the 17 cartoons produced by Fleischer/Paramount studios from 1941-43. Up to now the only version worth having was the Bosko video release called The Complete Superman Cartoons - Diamond Anniversary Edition My only complaint about that DVD was the inclusion of the date of each cartoons release super-imposed over the opening of each cartoon. Now about VCI's new release Superman - The Ultimate Max Fleischer Cartoon Collection. Using the word "Ultimate" is dangerous. It raises ones expectations to see the best possible release of these wonderful cartoons. VCI slightly misses the mark. The majority of the cartoons are indeed great to look at, but I find it strange that the music at the end of almost every cartoon is the same. That would not be annoying if it were not for the fact that each of the cartoons originally had different and uniquely individual fade out music. The most annoying part of the presentation are the two cartoons TERROR ON THE MIDWAY and THE MUMMY STRIKES. I was awed to see that the opening of TERROR ON THE MIDWAY looked far inferior visually to the version seen on Boskos release. VCIs attempt to cover the defects in the very opening of the cartoon, (Emulsion scratches etc. since no other pre-print has popped up) the VCI editors chose to freeze frame a series of shots that were originally seen in a slow pan. This is not only startling to see but destroys the artistic integrity of the short. MUMMY STRIKES suffers the same quality drop visually. The remainder look excellent. The extras are very enjoyable. The audio interview with Joan Alexander (The voice of Lois Lane on the radio and in the great 1966 Superman Animated series as well) gives some very enjoyable memories of her career. There is a Kirk Alyn Superman Serial trailer from 1948 that looks o.k. And the inclusion of the "Bonis" cartoon SNAFUPERMAN is o.k. but it looks like it was lifted from a previous Laserdisc release. All in all for a retail of $9.99 (With a pre-order from Amazon of $6.99, it is worth the price.....but not Ultimate. The Ultimate Max Fleischer Cartoon Collection is available May 30th."
Better than I expected
Jason Lee | Grosse Ile, MI United States | 09/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These cartoons have to be the best example of American animation and by far the best superhero cartoon series ever. I grew up reading Superman comics and even though these cartoons are over 50 years old, they look like they could have been made yesterday due to the excellent restoration. This cartoon series was the inspiration for the art of the current Batman cartoon series on FOX. The resoration of these cartoons is amazing and so is the sound. There were added sound effects to the original sound track, so some of the effects may stand out from the original restored sound, but if you listen to this with a Dolby 5.1 receiver and set the sound on the DVD to Dolby, you will not notice a difference. The resoration demo on the disk actually shows how well cartoons like this were restored. The original aspect ratio is close enough to the full screen mode, so nothing is missed from the original. There is an informative history that describes the background behind the production of these cartoons as well as a description for each cartoon in the series. There is also an added cartoon for the "feel the sound" sound restoration process. There are adds for their "Cartoon Crazies" series too, I liked these because I was interested in that series, but wasn't sure of the content. The fact that these adds were an option to watch was also appealing. Overall this DVD has more content than I expected and a higher quality of visual and audio restoration. An excellent buy for someone who is a Superman or animation fan."
BEST version of SUPERMAN shorts on DVD! Avoid others!
J. Williams | Mildlands, UK. | 08/26/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I wish that the armchair animation historians would shut up and stop moaning about these animated shorts not being ?widescreen? ? they were created in FULL SCREEN which, at the time, was slightly bigger than the picture we see on TV nowadays. This SLIGHT difference in size caters for those who insist the picture has been ?butchered? ? it?s slight cropping to fit to TV! And by ?slight? I mean?.so little that if it were returned, the ?toon would be nothing more. This DVD is great ? the shorts are well restored and the sound is fine. The slightly awkward arrangement of the episodes does not detract from the beauty of this title, which is part of animation history. AVOID other versions of the Superman shorts ? the sound on those others has been converted to 5.1, which means someone with a [bad] sound effects CD has added out-of-synch inappropriate modern effect. Fine if you?re 3 years old ? a nightmare if you want quality! Next, buy the only decent CARTOON CRAZYS DVD ? Banned & Censored! Fantastic!"