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?
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.