Superman Unbound Review
The most recent DC animated movie made to coincide with their latest movie is Superman Unbound. It sees big blue and his cousin Supergirl go up against the collector and destroyer of worlds, Brainiac. Directed by James Tucker (Batman: Brave and the Bold) and written by Bob Goodman (Dark Knight Returns DTV) the movie is pretty much what I’d want from a Brainiac movie without me realising that’s what I wanted from one.
Superman finds a robot probe Brainiac has sent to Earth to see if it’s worth adding to his collection. Fearing Brainiac’s coming to Earth and to find out if he has the Kryptonian city of Kandor Superman sets out to find Brainiac. Meanwhile Supergirl defends the Earth while dealing with her own remorse over seeing Kandor get taken and scared she’ll have to live through it all over again. The fight for Earth and to stop Metropolis becoming the next part of his collection is on.
This is an action packed movie with some heart to it. What is great is that this is as much a Supergirl story as it is Superman’s and them saving the last remnant of Krypton. She has her own character arc where she deals with witnessing Brainiac stealing Kandor and wanting never to feel that helpless again. Which she struggles with when Brainiac comes to Earth as she still feels it is useless to fight, even with the power she has. She is quite interesting and I wish there was more done with her in animation. Lois also got her own arc too, though more tied to both Superman and Supergirl, where she’s dealing with her relationship with Clark, or rather Clark’s non-commitment to it. They have been dating for a while and haven’t come out in the open about it as Clark is worried it would make Lois a target. That is a bunk excuse and Lois calls him out on it for every obvious reason you can think of. So that is the main personal conflict that adds the human element to Superman without him being Clark for most of the movie. Even with that personal conflict they never turn Lois into a nagging girlfriend where you wonder why they’re together in the first place, like some other movies do with couple’s conflicts.
When not dealing with personal problems the movie is focused on Brainiac with the villain getting a very good interpretation. After a rather graphic and horrific opening showing Brainiac’s creation we learn why he’s collecting the knowledge of worlds, sticking a single city in a bottle, and then blowing up the planet. We see that he’s developed a bug from the idea that he was programmed to seek out all knowledge from every planet, but since life keeps on growing and evolving that’s impossible. So he gets one city, as seeking out every culture on a planet for their knowledge is also unending, then destroys the rest keeping the city and populations in an artificial environment unable to grow or die. In his own twisted logic that makes sense for his programming to be complete. It makes more sense than some of the previous versions of the character and I liked they tried to explain his actions a bit more than usually happens.
Something that stands out to me is the ending, not that it has a stand out ending so much that it had a good one without any compilations. Usually in these direct to DVD features from DC and Marvel they have some rather odd moments at the end, such as the random Amazons appearing at the end of Wonder Woman or Hal going super saiyan in Green Lantern First Flight. There’re just moments that feel jarring in otherwise good movies. So to have a movie that doesn’t have one of those moments is quite nice.
The animation was well done with some great action sequences. The artstyle was a refreshing change for these movies to go more stylised designs than the more detailed ones that have been done. It’s just nice to see some different designs used while also feeling a bit more in the classic DC cartoon style. There are some great action scenes in here that really do showcase what they can do action wise in these features. Just the brutality against Brainiac is fantastic to watch, and the movie does like to show how messed up the green alien robot can get. It hits the middle ground of being very well done but not being the best they’ve done for a feature.
The voice acting was well done, as usual, Matt Bomer putting some great humanity to the Man of Steel. Special mention should be given to Stana Katic for playing an excellent Lois who held up a great performance with the multiple roles the character had to play. The concerned but annoyed girlfriend, to the caring aunt figure to Supergirl, while also being the type of person who could flip off Brainiac and make it not seem out of character. Molly Quinn was a great Supergirl, showing a lot of self-confidence while having a lot of pain buried beneath that exterior. The stand out was John Noble as Brainiac, he made the cold calculating machine menacing in a whole new way.
So if you get the chance to go and get this movie. It really does the characters and franchise justice for a 75 year legacy. A great cast of characters that liven up an action packed story, this is what I want and expect from a Superman movie with Brainiac as the villain. Not the best of the best, but shows the great consistent quality that the DC animated movies have, and that props it up above some of the others in my eyes.
And to make up for the lateness of this review he’s Molly Quinn posing with a Supergirl outfit.