Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
In this day and age, when it comes to our superheroes, Dark appears to be the shade of choice.  Obviously we can thank Batman and his various issues for this, but where does this leave Superman?  One of the issues I had with Zach Snyder's 'Man of Steel' is that the movie attempted to infuse a level or darkness, even Superman's costume was grayed out, and that simply isn't really Superman.  Superman has conflicts, obviously, but they're really not internal, they're largely external.  Superman and Clark are pretty clear and content with who and what they are, and why wouldn't he be?  He's Superman for goodness sakes.  The leads us the DC / Warner animated feature 'Superman: Unbound', which follows on the heels of the outstanding DC / Warner two part 'The Dark Knight Returns' animated dramas.  I am pleased that 'Superman: Unbound' avoids the temptation to darken Superman and keeps him the way that I know him to be.  But we also have to admit that internal darkness and conflict that is Batman does make for a better, richer, more dynamic storytelling platform. 

Lois Lane (Stana Katic) is kidnapped.  These criminals figure since Superman (Matt Bomer) is out of town, they can do what they please with Metropolis.  Idiots.  Ignoring that fact that Superman can hear really good and fly really fast, these cats didn't get the memo that Superman's teenage cousin, Supergirl (Molly Quinn) is in town, and this one does have some internal conflict she's dealing with.  This one here, if you're not careful, might snap your neck.  Supergirl is giving these thugs the business, until Cousin Kal shows up and calms her down and cleans everything up.  Kara / Supergirl tells her cousin that she doesn't like bad people beating up on the defenseless and that she should use her new found powers to put these people down.  For good.  Right on Kara!  But we know her cousin is a freaking boy scout, so what can you do?
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Enough of all of that, Braniac (John Noble) is on his way to Earth.  Braniac is an ancient android of near unlimited power and he has this annoying tendency of stealing cities from planets, and then destroying these planets.  He stole the capital of Krypton, Kandor, but decided against destroying the planet since it was doomed anyway.  Little Kara saw all of this happen in real time, unable to do anything to stop this, and this is one of the reasons why she is so passionate about helping the defenseless.  Unless this bad person is Braniac, which turns poor Kara into spineless vat of jelly who advises anyone who will listen to run for their lives.

No problem, Superman is on the intercept.  Superman jumps aboard Braniac's skull ship, which isn't all that aerodynamic, and is ready to punch Braniac in the face.  Superman might've underestimated Braniac just a little bit because that face punching thing didn't work.  Now Superman has gotten himself all captured and stuff, but the good news is that there is a large section of Krypton still alive.  And if Superman can get himself un-captured, he might have the knowledge it takes to stop this crazed, pompous, self-important robot.  And he has to do this before Braniac destroys Earth, which Braniac is not impressed with.  How is Superman going to do stop this loon?  He's going to punch him in the face.  In a different way this time though. 

Waitaminute… did Lois just give Braniac the finger?  A double deuce no less?  That was completely uncalled for Miss Lane.  Lois's profane response to Braniac's jerkiness aside, which we have to admit was a bit tiring,  'Superman Unbound' delivers pretty much everything we've come to expect from these DC \ Warner animated dramas.  Recognize that we do not call them 'cartoons'.  We have the high level of animation that we've come to expect, lots of animated mayhem, the appreciated compressed alignment to the source material, solid voice acting, a rapid exciting pace and the one thing we constantly complain about in these animated features, the strict adherence to the 75 minute running time which usually leads to everything feeling rushed near the end.  I will say that 'Superman: Unbound' does a much better job managing this time limit than some of the previous Superman animated films have done.  And while this next little bit probably isn't the most positive thing to say, I do appreciate that these movies have amped up the violence and death and overall adult content which has effectively separated these movies from their lighter Saturday morning cartoon fare.

We understand that Clark and Lois and their relationship issues serves the purpose of humanizing these characters a little more, but still, this is melodrama I'd rather do without.  That being said, Stana Katic's voicing of Lois was probably the standout vocal performance of this film.  Another issue I had was that, for the most part, Superman's method for dealing with the Braniac menace seemed pretty brain dead.  There was lots of action in this film, but the majority of it was just mindless chaos.  I did learn a few things though, no thanks to this movie.  I was curious how Superman was able to function so well off-planet with our power giving Yellow Sun so far away, not to mention how was able to do anything on Kandor which Braniac setup with the power eliminating red sun.  Superman's cells absorb energy.  How about that?  So he has stuff reserve.  I did not know this.  Of course Super Smart Braniac probably should've grabbed one of those mini red suns on his ship and hung it over Superman while he was steadily punching him in the face, but apparently this never crossed his mind.

'Superman: Unbound' is an entertaining feature, as most of these DC / Warner films are to at least some degree.  Superman lacks the depth and pathos that Batman brings to the table, and as such these tales fall short of the best of the Batman tales, but that notwithstanding, this one still holds up well enough on its own.
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