Warner Bros. // 2009 // 928 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 7th, 2010
Kneel before Zod.
The end is near for The CW's long-running proto-superhero series and Season 9 of Smallville sets the table for the upcoming flights and tights nicely.
There's a hero patrolling the mean streets of Metropolis and he's not wearing red and blue. It's Clark Kent (Tom Welling, Cheaper by the Dozen), sporting a gothy leather jacket and a gray S emblazoned on a t-shirt, perched atop the skyscrapers, ready to pounce on ne'er-do-wells as The Blur. Hot on The Blur's trail is ace reporter Lois Lane (Erica Durance, House of the Dead) who's nursing a crush on the do-gooder, while also cultivating a relationship with Clark. That's right: she doesn't know they're the same person!
Clark will have bigger problems than a love triangle with Lois, himself, and The Blur, when Zod (Callum Blue, Young People Fucking) hits town. His ruthless future nemesis arrives via a magic something-or-other alongside a detachment of loyal soldiers. Their plans? To forge a life on Earth, and if that means the scummy earthlings will get to kneeling, then so be it.
I got sucked into this show last year, when Season 8 showed up in my mailbox for review. Having checked out from Smallville a long time ago, I was surprised to discover I enjoyed the saga, thanks to the action shifting to Metropolis and the Daily Planet. It was the perfect season to get re-acclimated to the action; the show felt much more like "Superman" than I remembered. Season 9 continues the arc and Clark's ultimate acceptance of his iconic persona is within sight.
This season feels like the deep breath before the sprint towards the finish line. Clark and Lois' relationship quickly advances into romantic territory, Clark meets some fellow heroes who prompt him toward his destiny, and there are even some fleeting appearances by the cape.
It's not a perfect season, though. There are a few clunkers that fall back on corny melodrama and questionable special effects (I am not a fan of the Checkmate stuff), but taken as a whole, Season 9 is a success and features some genuinely cool moments.
Headlining that list is the two-part "Absolute Justice," featuring the Justice Society of America led by DC stalwarts Hawkman and Dr. Fate. It's a well-paced, exciting tale loaded with shout-outs to fans of the universe.
The main thread of the show involves Clark's involvement with Zod and his stranded Kryptonians. Some iffy, late-blooming plot devices dull the sheen a bit, but the season arc is compelling enough, plus Callum Blue's Zod is a scenery-chewing Alpha male and a formidable opponent. Oh, don't fear: For as much of a letdown the big fight with Doomsday at the end of Season 8 turned out to be, the ultimate showdown between Zod and Clark is brutal and rewarding, capping off with a nifty cliffhanger. Bring on Season 10!
Warner Bros. Blu-ray treatment is a visual orgy. The 1.78:1 1080p transfer is stunning, blasting out some truly beautiful imagery, thanks to the series' highly stylized effects and set design. Even when the imagery shifts to the low-key and bucolic Kent Farm, the picture quality impresses with its clarity and detail. This is as good an HD presentation I've seen for a TV show. The standard-issue Dolby 5.1 Surround mix isn't as sexy, but does a nice, clean job. Extras: Commentaries on two episodes, a handful of deleted scenes, and two well-done HD featurettes on the character of Zod (featuring Richard Donner and Terrance Stamp!) and the production of "Absolute Justice."
Hiccups aside, Smallville: The Complete Ninth Season entertains in preparation for what should be a memorable final season. The Blu-ray is the only way to go.
Not Guilty. Up, up and away!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 928 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site