The DC animated films that Warner Bros. have been releasing regularly for the last few years have been mostly great. While I’m not the biggest fan of Superman, one can still appreciate the Big Blue Boy Scout. Since Superman: Unbound came out earlier this month and we here at Major Spoilers have a review for you just pass the jump.
PLOT: Not long after Supergirl has arrived on Earth another alien entity lands in Arizona. Superman defeats the alien Robot pretty handily upon which Supergirl explains its origin along with the bottling of Kandor by Brainiac. From there, Superman tracks down Brainiac and the rest is pretty much self-explanitory. The story itself is based on Geoff Johns “Superman: Brainiac” from a few years back.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPjjxhWwiyk?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360]
WHERE’S THE LEAGUE?
We have three primary characters throughout the film: Superman, Supergirl, and Lois Lane. Fortunately, each of them is actually quite well developed within the film. We’re given good character growth for both the Kryptonians and Lois’s role as damsel/love interest is what makes Superman work for the film. Superman going after Brainiac is a great premise, showing a more pro-active hero than is normal, and provides for some pretty great action sequences aboard Brainiac’s ship.
Brainiac as a villain is kind of an interesting one for me. Some of what he does, the preserving of culture/knowledge, could actually be seen as a noble pursuit. Of course the method in which he obtains said knowledge sets the villainy as a given. That said, he is definitely my favorite part of the film. Being both an intellectual and physical challenge for Superman, Brainiac provides what few other villains can. Add to that John Noble doing a fantastic job of giving him a subdued menace without much emotion (that’s a good thing here) and you have a great part.
As far as adaptations go, this one follows the major points only. We go from a rather hollow victory in the book to quite the happy ending in the film, but that works quite well with the context of the story. The changes made allowed Clark to grow as a character in a positive way and made the movie better for it. We still get a return of the bottle city of Kandor and thus the rescue of Supergirl’s parents, but we aren’t left with anything negative looming on the horizon.
The cast did a great job. I don’t have a single complaint about any of it, and as we saw above, I truly enjoyed Brainiac. I wouldn’t change this group and would love to see them reunited, either as a continuation of this story or just another stand-alone tale.
I think my favorite part of the animation is the gigantic-size of Brainiac. He stands a full head and shoulders over Superman, and then some. Brainiac is made to feel opposing, overpowering, and generally unbeatable, even for Superman. The rest of the character design is pretty good though I feel they could have done for a bit less cleavage on Lois. We also could have seen a bit more distinction between Clark and Superman. I realize the difference there is rarely much, but here it felt even worst than normal. It was especially bad when Lois and Clark were talking about someone figuring out his identity and here merely looked over his glasses.
The quiet scenes were well played and the action sequences were mostly fantastic. There is one series of action shots later in the film while Superman is fighting the army of Brainiac robots where we get more action stills with an anime-esque speedline quality to them that didn’t really fit the rest of the film. One in particular had me questioning if Superman would even be capable of that motion. But, since only a few simple shots were bad, I can’t dump on the rest of animation, which was great.
Overall, I enjoyed the film. The characters are well realized and properly developed over the story. The animation is (mostly)great. The voice cast is phenomenal. What little complaints I have have mostly been addressed, but there are a few Superman actions on Brainiac’s ship that seem extra selfish, but I think they really work in context, so that will likely be a “your mileage may vary” moment. Either way, Superman: Unbound earns a hearty 4 out of 5 stars.
HAVE YOU SEEN THE FILM? RATE IT!