Smallville Review

Smallville is a 2001 superhero action drama television series developed by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, based on the DC Comics character Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, starring Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, Allison Mack, John Glover, and Erica Durance.  The story tells the tale of a teenage Clark Kent who must deal with a variety of individuals given powers by the green rocks called Kryptonite, keep his powers a secret, cope with his friendship with a young Lex Luthor, and balance the two girls in his life, Chloe and Lana.


Positives:

  • Great performances
  • Talented cast
  • Great characters
  • Compelling stories
  • Great music
  • Great action
  • Great use of special effects
  • Good script

Negatives:

  • Plots can feel repetitive
  • Lackluster villains
  • Nit picks with the writing

Plot: The series follows a young Clark Kent struggling to find his place in the world as he learns to harness his alien powers for good and deals with the typical troubles of teenage life in Smallville, Kansas. Not only does he deal with the hardship’s of teenage life but he also has to deal with criminals and other super powered villains.  The story is a great re-telling of the Superman mythos, paying homage to the source material while introducing a lot of new elements.  The storylines are handled well, never really overwhelming it, therefore successfully sustaining it.  There are several great  storylines including Clark and Lex’s growing and failing friendship, Clark and Lana’s love story which evolves into the Clark and Lois, Chloe’s evolution, the release of the the Phantom Zone phantoms, Bizarro season, and the meteor freak epidemic just to name a few.  The height of the series is season 4, 5, and 6 and the last seasons do decline in quality but are still entertaining.  The first seasons feel a little episodic, with the cliche bad guy of the episode and the repetition does pick up again in the last few seasons. The ending sequence is a great send off. (5 out of 5)

Characters:  There’s no denying the large roster of great characters.  Clark is learning his purpose, learning the full extent of his growing powers.  Lex initially starts off as Clark’s friend which develops over time.  But as we know these two are destined for two different paths. Lex is complex dealing with the pressure of his father while trying to come into his own.  Clark’s friends consist of Pete Ross, Chloe Sullivan, Oliver Queen, and Lois Lane, and family consist of Kara, Martha Kent, and Johnathan Kent. Each of these characters brings something to the series with their own interesting personalities, interests, and back stories.  And the relationship they have with Clark is what makes them standout and things they bring out of his character.  Lois Lane is undoubtedly one of the best characters of the series and one of the best incarnations of the character. There are also other great characters including Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, Dinah Lance/Black Canary, Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Victor Stone/Cyborg, and Bart Allen/Impulse.  Would’ve liked to have seen more interactions with Clark and these awesome guys, possibly working together to handle other threats. There are a whole host of awesome supporting characters, side characters, and antagonists that provide a solid and deep cast. (5 out of 5)

Cast: The cast and performances are top notch and they have terrific chemistry together.  Tom Welling is a great Clark, Allison Mack is appealing as Chloe, Erica Durance is perfect as Lois Lane hands down.  Kristen Kreuk is a good Lana though her acting is a little spotty in the beginning.  Michael Rosenbaum is the definitive Lex Luthor in any live action incarnation so far. Laura Vandervoort is a great Kara and one of the best incarnations. Other great performances include  Sam Jones III (Pete Ross), John Schneider (Jonathan Kent), Annette O’Toole (Martha Kent), John Glover (Lionel Luthor), Aaron Ashmore (Jimmy Olsen), Justin Hartley (Oliver Queen), Cassidy Freeman (Tess Mercer), Kyle Gallnet (Bart Allen), Alan Ritchson (Arthur Curry), Alaina Huffman (Dinah Lance), Serinda Swan (Zatanna), and Lee Thompson Young (Victor Stone).  Tons of awesome guest appearances including Pam Grier, Terence Stamp, Dean Cain, Linda Carter, Helen Slater, Christopher Reeve, Teri Hatcher, Margot Kidder, James Marsters, Carrie Fisher, and Michael Ironside. (5 out of 5)

Visuals:  Visually the show is of decent quality that actually gets better as the series progresses.  The fights are really good; well shot, great use of special effects, pretty diverse, the best are the Lex/Zod versus Clark.  The superpowers are presented really well, perhaps the most standout is the super speed.  A lot of great locations.  Most of the character designs look great.  Loved Bizarro. Loved Brainiac.  Didn’t really like how Doomsday was designed.  Liked the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice movie, the Doomsday design should’ve evolved over the season.  Hated how Darkseid was represented. Could’ve worked out the designs a little better for Hawkman, Doctor Fate, and Blue Beetle. (4 out of 5)

Score: The music is done really well and does a great job of making it feel like a teen drama.  Love the “Save Me” opening theme by Remy Zero.  Mark Snow and Louis Febre do a great job with the overall score. (4 out of 5)

Writing:  The writing is pretty intelligent taking much of the Superman and DC Universe and adapting it to the hero’s early years.  Yes, the series has lots of action but it’s the characters and the drama that’s the main focus.  As good as the writing is it does suffer a lot of the angst seen in teen dramas. A large number of the storylines and characters are written pretty well and the incarnations feel refreshing.   The writing also becomes repetitive with many ideas recycled from earlier series.  Sometimes the writing becomes predictable especially when it comes to the villain of the day recipe which it can repeat at times.  Could’ve done better with some of the character interpretations, specifically Darkseid, Doomsday, Zod, and Metallo.  Also, they could’ve at least shown Clark wearing the Superman suit once.  Lex’s absence did hurt the series.  Most of the major villains such as Davis Bloom, Tess Mercer, and General Zod who are not memorable and feel like a let down.  Honestly, these three characters could’ve been compiled into one or two seasons together rather than their own individual season.  Even the Darkseid season felt lackluster. (3 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Smallville is a great series and the best live action Superman series.  Though there some problems with the writing here and there, some lackluster villains, and the series starts to go stale in its later seasons, the series is really enjoyable to watch.  The series features great performances, great cast, great characters, compelling stories, great music, great action, great use of special effects, and a good script.  Smallville gets 4 out of 5.

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