Movie Review: SUPERMAN UNBOUND
While WB is generally lauded for their direct-to-video features, some of their efforts stand a cut above others, especially the recent Batman: The Dark Knight Returns two-part series. Where does Superman: Unbound rank? Continue on for my spoiler-free review.
"...'Unbound' might be the most violent and bloodiest DCAU Superman film to date. Braniac and his robotic cronies are merciless in their attack on aliens and humans alike and the animation makes no great effort to hide fatalities."
Superman: Unbound is the 16th DC Animated Universe (DCAU) from Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment. Based on the 2008 story-arc, Superman: Braniac from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, the adaptation is not a panel for panel recreation of that story. Instead, the film picks and chooses which elements of the five-issue story to embrace and leaves the rest on the cutting room floor. This is something Supervising Producer James Tucker said would occur during his tenure atop the animation branch of WB. Of course, longtime DCAU fans will know that aside from The Dark Knight Returns, no other DCAU film was a panel for panel adaptation but what Tucker is trying to communicate is that he'll be more open to letting his films stray a bit further from their comic book inspirations. In terms of source material adherence, think AMC and their adaptation of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead. The gruesome zombie show is an apt description here as 'Unbound' might be the most violent and bloodiest DCAU Superman film to date. Braniac and his robotic cronies are merciless in their attack on aliens and humans alike and the animation makes no great effort to hide fatalities. It's hard to look away from the animated brutality especially as it unfolds across a beautifully rendered bright and shiny landscape that's ideally suited for characters like Superman and Supergirl.
While the story is a loose adaptation, it flows smoothly and caps every uncorked question. The characters are all tonally defined within moments of their introduction and never act unaccordingly. Matt Bomer turns in a fine performance as Superman and just might become a second choice for fans after Tim Daly. Molly Quinn is equally good as Supergirl. But as many fans surmised, the standout performance goes to John Noble as Braniac. There's a live-action, cinematic quality to Noble's delivery that has just the right mix of robotic indifference and organic flaws which fits this interpretation of Braniac like a glove. Aside from the voice-acting, Unbound also features some of the best sound design and mixing in a DCAU film to date.
While good, the film does have a few imperfections. Superman has a habit of uttering cheesy one-liners at the conclusion of every major scene but in a way, that's true to the character. Also, the climactic fight between Superman and Braniac was a bit underwhelming as the method of Superman's victory was a bit contrived but that was lifted straight from the original story. It works, but it needed a better set-up in preceding events, it may come as a complete surprise to those that haven't read the original comic book and may leave some feeling like the ending was rushed. Still, a lot of ground was covered in 75 minutes and multiple storylines were resolved.
Overall, Superman: Unbound is one of the best DCAU films to date and is a great first impression of what fans can expect from the Tucker Administration. At the conclusion, you'll definitely be looking forward to the next project, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.
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nibs: "To me Planet Hulk is one of the better animated CBMs. Justice League - Doom is probably a 6ish and both Dark Knight Returns a 5. This movie is probably on par with or just a little better than Superman - Elite. "
earzmundo: "They had all the right elements...the House of El, the ravaging of Krypton, the impact of Kal's earth-bound ties, and the invasion of the most cerebral threat Kal's ever faced...but they didn't mix them as perfect as they could have."
A destructive force is devastating planets across the galaxy – with Earth next in its sights – and even Superman may not be capable of halting the destruction alone. Based on the Geoff Johns/Gary Frank 2008 DC Comics release "Superman: Brainiac," the film’s stellar voicecast is led by Matt Bomer (White Collar) as Superman, John Noble (Fringe, The Lord of the Rings films) as Brainiac, Molly Quinn (Castle) as Supergirl and Stana Katic (Castle) as Lois Lane.
Running Time: 75 minutes
Release Date: 7 May 2013 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Starring:Matt Bomer, John Noble, Molly Quinn, Stana Katic, Diedrich Bader
Directed by: James Tucker
Written by: Bob Goodman (screenplay), Geoff Johns(comic book), Gary Frank(comic book)
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