The love for the source material in The Death of Superman is crystal clear. Even though it can't be a fully comics-accurate storyline, the overall picture plays out in a similar way and Doomsday feels every bit as intimidating as he should. There's a ton of fan service sprinkled throughout, too. Little things like John Henry Irons briefly pushing back his shoulders to stand confidently while wearing a Superman shirt, and Bibbo's "it just ain't right" prayer are appreciated additions that show a clear respect for the history behind this story. Believe it or not, there's even a nod to the long hair and beard that Lex Luthor had in the original storyline!
There are nice nods to other versions of Superman, too. It's impossible to miss one of the standout lines from Richard Donner's Superman (it comes off as little forced, but it's still smile-inducing). Some of the choreography and cinematography during Superman and Doomsday's fight is a transparent nod to Kal-El vs Zod in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel.
The Death of Superman delivers big time with the action. Even though they're destined to lose, watching the Justice League attempt to hold their own against Doomsday is a total blast. Actress Rosario Dawson gets a few moments to voice a truly badass Wonder Woman, and Nathan Fillion continues to prove he's the perfect voice for Hal Jordan. Christopher Gorham gets a few amusing lines as the Flash (especially with Jason O'Mara's Batman), but Martian Manhunter feels like he's there just for some exposition before quickly being removed from the picture, and Aquaman and Cyborg feel underused in the battle as well - that can likely be chalked up to the limited runtime. Despite these shortcomings, Doomsday battling the team is highly entertaining.
The big fight between the Man of Steel and Doomsday lives up to the hype - it's simply awesome. The two titans fully unleash in their battle, and the sheer force behind their strikes are absolutely felt. Superman is portrayed as a jaw-dropping powerhouse, but the movie never forgets to show him as an inspirational figure, too. The battle has several memorable shots as well, like a wide shot that reveals the enormous shockwave created by Doomsday and Superman's first grapple. Thanks to the impressive handling of the fight (and the score properly elevating each part), the big moment delivers all of the intensity and heartbreak that it deserves.
Jerry O'Connell's performance as both Clark Kent and Superman are solid. Whether it's heartfelt or forceful, the lines are sold equally well. Rebecca Romijn also gives a good performance as Lois Lane, offering a believable version of the intrepid reporter and, in the end, someone who's suffered a major loss. As for Lex Luthor, all it takes is watching one episode of The Office to know that Rainn Wilson has no problem playing a condescending character who thinks he's always the smartest person in the room. Some fans may expect Lex Luthor to have a deeper voice (thanks to Clancy Brown's unforgettable take on the foe), but Rainn's a good fit for the arrogant antagonist.
Two minor criticisms: the animation can sometimes feel a little stiff during conversations, and since DC's been promoting Superman's return to the red trunks, this New 52-based design can actually feels a little dated. But these are relatively minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things, as the film delivers on virtually every other front.
The Death of Superman proves a familiar story can be retold in a refreshing way if you have the right creative team. Knowing the ending doesn't take away from the film at all. The action is epic, there's plenty of fan service, and Superman's death still manages to be a real tearjerker. Hopefully 2019's Reign of the Supermen will be every bit as good.