Superman: Unbound

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The opening credits show a montage of Coluan scientist Vril Dox subjecting himself to extensive cybernetic and genetic enhancements, transforming himself into the towering cyborg Brainiac.

Offering herself as a hostage, Lois Lane is caught in an aerial confrontation between her terrorist captors and the unpredictable Supergirl arrives before Superman. Soon after, knowing Superman’s civilian identity, Lois attempts to get Kent to make their relationship public despite his fear of the consequences, but their argument is halted by a Daily Planet staff meeting before Kent leaves when they are being alerted to a meteor. Intercepting it, Superman learns the meteor to be a robot and that he promptly defeats before activating its beacon and taking it to the Fortress of Solitude. With help from a fear-filled Supergirl, Superman learns the robot is actually a drone controlled by a being named Brainiac, who seized and miniaturized Krypton’s capital city of Kandor prior to the planet’s destruction.

Fearing more drones would come, Superman goes flying all through the galaxy in an attempt to track down Brainiac before finding his drones attacking a planet. Though he attempted to stop them, Superman witnesses Brainiac capture the planet’s capital like he did with Kandor before firing a Solar Aggressor missile to have the planet be consumed by the exploding sun. The explosion knocks Superman unconscious and he is brought upon Brainiac’s ship, coming in the examination room and fighting his way through the vessel before he discovers a room full bottled cities prior to being attacked by Brainiac, before. At this point, confirming that he spared Krypton because of its eventual destruction, Brainiac reveals that he has been collecting information of all the planets visited before destroying them. On Earth, Lois learns from Supergirl of why Superman left, and alert the Pentagon for Brainiac’s arrival. Using Superman’s spacecraft, Brainiac decides to attack Earth while sending Superman into Kandor. Inside Kandor, his strength waning due to the artificial red sun, Superman meets his uncle Zor-El and aunt Alura. After spending time with them, Superman formulates a plan and escapes Kandor using the subjugator robots. From there, Superman disables Brainiac’s ship and spirits Kandor to Earth.

However, Brainiac repaired his ship and eventually arrives to Metropolis with everyone, including Supergirl, doing their best to fend them off. But in the end, Metropolis is encased in a bottle and both Superman and Supergirl are captured. Having hooked Superman up to his ship, revealing that Earth offers nothing to him, Brainiac tortures Superman to obtain Kandor before destroying the planet. However, telling his captor what Earth means to him, Superman breaks free and then frees Supergirl and convinces her to stop the Solar-Aggressor from hitting the sun. Remembering Zor-El’s words about Brainiac, Superman knocks him out of the ship and forces him to experience bacteria and micro-organisms among the various chaoses outside his artificial environments he created. Eventually, the strain reaches its toll on Brainiac as he combusts and is reduced to ash and molten machinery. After restoring Metropolis, taking Kandor to another planet to restore it to its normal size and establishing a Kryptonian colony, Superman makes his love life with Lois public as Kent and proposes to her in marriage. However, placed in the Fortress of Solitude, Brainiac’s remains are still active

REVIEW:

It seems that this is to be a Superman weekend as I will be going to see Man of Steel at some point and just finished watching the newest DC Animated Universe release, Superman: Unbound. I’m curious as to which will ultimately be the superior film, though I have my suspicions.

What is this about?

In this animated Man of Steel adventure, Superman has to muster all his physical and mental mettle to save Krypton’s capital city of Kandor, which has been seized and miniaturized by the ruthless android Brainiac.

What did I like?

New blood. Braniac is far from being a new villain. As a matter of fact, outside of Lex Luthor, I do believe he is Superman’s arch-nemesis, and yet in every Superman films, live-action or animated, Lex is always there, but no mention of Braniac (with the exception of a few episodes of the various cartoon series). It was nice to not have even an allusion to Luthor in this film, but to also get a villain that we should see more often, and a bit of his origin, as well.

Fight. I was watching clips of the live action Superman films this morning and one thing was painfully obvious. As good as they are…some say that they still are the gold standard for comic book movies…Superman doesn’t really do anything but fly around saving Lois or Jimmy and whoever else is in trouble, but he never really gets into any action-packed scenes. That isn’t the case here, as he Superman is involved in fist-to-cuffs nearly almost every chance he gets. I guess in animation it is easier to fight than in live-action.

Entrance. We open with Lois as a hostage (big surprise, right?). After some banter with her captors, Supergirl comes in and lays the smacketh down. Just as it seems she’s about to go a bit too far, the big guy shows up. It is one of those scenes that takes your breath away when you see him actually show up. It is a little thing, but the filmmakers did build the tension up a bit before bringing him in, which was a nice touch.

Human. For Kryptonians, it cannot be easy being human, and there are a few scenes where we get that, especially coming from Supergirl, as she feels like a bit of an outcast and that she needs to do something extreme now that she has powers. Typical teenage girl overreacting and all that jazz, you understand. However, Superman manages to be a calming influence on his young cousin (who is actually older than him) through some sage words of wisdom.

What didn’t I like?

Character design. I guess this is some sort of fad and I do not care for it. Yes, I do like anime, but not in non-anime form. The design of these characters didn’t sit well with me. Superman was as muscular as he should be, or at least close to it, but he was a bit more elongated than I would have liked for him to be. I miss the 90s version of him, I suppose. I also had a problem with Lois’ eye color. They sort o made her look evil or possessed.

Love. Early on, there is some strife in the relationship between Clark and Lois. That is, they have a slight argument about her needing to be saved, even from slimy guys in the office that are jus flirting, something that doesn’t seem to sit well with Clark. I know that this is such a tiny thing, but they way they just skimmed over it bothered me. Why even go through all the trouble to go there if you’re not going to delve into it a bit more?

Supergirl. I mentioned earlier how in almost every Superman incarnation we get Lex Luthor. Something that I have noticed about all of Superman’s animated films is that he is never alone. Usually, Batman makes an appearance, but this time they chose to use Supergirl. I don’t have a problem with Supergirl, especially since the way the film plays out, it makes sense for her to be there, but why is it the big guy can’t be in his own film alone?

Voices. John Noble did a great job as Braniac and, while she wouldn’t have my first choice, Stana Katic made for a decent Lois Lane, rivaling the immortal performances given by Dana Delaney in that role. However, Molly Quinn (you may know her as Castle’s daughter from Castle) did nothing for me as Supergirl, which is pretty bad because that is a role that all you have to do is not be annoying and it should work. Also, Matt Bomer does not work as Superman. He has a decent enough voice, but there is a lack of warmth and compassion that one would expect when it comes to the Man of Steel. Interesting side note, or bit of trivia…in the next DC Animated film, Sam Daly will be voicing Superman. His father is Tim Daly, who was the voice of Superman in the 90s cartoons.

All in all, I had a fun time with Superman: Unbound. However, I wasn’t blown away like I expected to be. Sure, this is a decent animated adventure, but it is also quite forgettable. In my heart of hearts, I really wanted to love this film, I really did, but it just didn’t happen. I guess it is worth a viewing or two, but not much else. Check it out, if you’d like.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

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