Brilliant Alfred and Bruce vid for Gotham

Didn’t make it, just found it – but this is just brilliant music vid really gets to the core of the Bruce and Alfred relationship.  I’ve always loved the father-son relationship between Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne, as guarded as it is at times.  This vid, for the excellent new show, Gotham, really illustrates that relationship.

Superman Unbound

  • Title: Superman Unbound
  • Director: James Tucker
  • Voice Director:  Andrea Romano
  • Date: 2013
  • Studio: Warner Brothers Animation
  • Genre: Action, Animation
  • Cast: Matt Bomer, John Noble, Stana Katic, Molly Quinn
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format: R1, NTSC

“Must be awful being you. Most powerful man in the world, and you still can’t control the women in your life.” – Lois to Clark

“I am the knowledge and strength of 10,000 worlds, and flesh and machine. I am becoming everything.” – Brainiac

“I think it’s a bug in his programming, that cyborg core inside him, it wants to know everything there is to know in the Galaxy.” – Jor-El
“So he said.” – Superman
“But that’s impossible, worlds are living things, their knowledge is always growing and changing. So, he has to stop them, turn them into these fake versions instead. You can’t control a living thing without destroying what’s alive about it.” – Jor-El

The animation in Superman Unbound is of very high quality, especially in the space scenes, and it’s much better than the disappointing animation in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. But I was very happy to see quality animation again, after the disappointing Flash film. This film features Supergirl (Kara) Superman’s cousin, as well as Superman, and the villian Brainiac, and is based on the graphic novel, Superman: Brainiac, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank.

The film’s opening gambit has Supergirl and Superman rescuing Lois Lane from military kidnappers in black. Lois complains that she has to keep her relationship with Clark Kent a secret.

Then a meteor falls towards Pheonix. However, it isn’t a meteor but a probe, occupied by a killer robot and with an transmitter. Superman defeats the robot, and destroys the transmitter and probe – but brings the robot to his Fortress of Solitude to study. There he runs into Kara, his cousin, aka Supergirl, who is freaked out. She recognizes the robot as having attacked her home city of Kandor on Krypton and causing the city to completely disappear. She tells Superman the villain’s name, Brainiac and that he will do the same to Metropolis on Earth.

Superman leaves Earth to deal with Brainiac before he gets to Earth, and Supergirl deals with issues on Earth, except in Metropolis. Eventually, Lois uses Jimmy’s emergency call watch, and Supergirl arrives. Lois confronts her about avoiding Metropolis, to which Supergirl warns her to get out of the city, visit the Kent’s farm in Smallville – go anywhere, just leave. Lois gets Kara to open up and finds out she’s afraid Brainiac will take Metropolis and destroy Earth, like he did Krypton.

Meanwhile, Superman listens to a recording of a Kryptonian science report on Brainiac and travels to another planet where he’s attacking. Superman helps destroy the robots on the alien planet. However, the planet’s sun explodes and Superman is stunned unconscious and taken aboard Brainiac’s ship. He awakens in a lab and destroys the robots analyzing him. Superman discovers cities in bell jars and “specimens” stored on Brainiac’s ship. He discovers Kandor also in a bottle. Superman runs into Brainiac, fights him, loses because he doesn’t have as much strength away from a yellow sun, and is transported inside Kandor. However, in his scan of Superman’s thoughts, Brainiac learns of Earth and heads his ship (shaped like a giant, black metal skull) there.

Inside Kandor, the micro sized city hasn’t changed in over thirty years, plus it has a red sun, so Superman’s powers are limited. But he discovers Kara’s parents, who fill him in some on Brainiac. He’s a cyborg with cybernetic and computer parts. But, Kor-El believes the system has a “bug” – because Brainiac want’s to know everything – an impossible task in an ever-changing galaxy. So, Brainiac has become an obsessive collector instead, stealing a world’s knowledge, taking a city and it’s inhabitants for his collection, then destroying the world so it cannot change. The city becomes locked in a bell jar, like a preserved butterfly on a board. Superman manages to escape Kandor, but promises to return and rescue the Kryptonian city. Recharged by another yellow sun, Superman picks up the bottle Kandor, and starts destroying Brainiac’s ship, before taking Kandor to his Fortress of Solitude.

Brianiac awakes and repairs his damaged ship.

Superman tells Kara her parents are alive inside Kandor, and he plans to take the city to a habitable planet with a red sun.

Brainiac and his robots attack Earth, and take Metropolis the way he had taken Kandor. Superman and Supergirl fight Brainiac and his robots. Superman defeats Brainiac by flooding him with sensations – sounds, smells, the feel of mud, et cetera. Meanwhile, Supergirl stops the missile that Brainiac had fired from his ship at the sun. Once Brainiac is defeated, Metropolis is returned to it’s normal spot, as is Kandor. Kara is reunited with her parents. At the end, Clark proposes to Lois in the Daily Planet newsroom.

The animation in this film was excellent, and the voice cast did an excellent job. I liked that Brainiac was more of a obsessive collector of cities, intelligent beings, and information, rather than simply knowledge and information. And the plot made it clear, it wasn’t gathering information that was an issue, but how Brainiac went about it. Essentially, Brainiac was like a Victorian natural history student, cataloging, in this case, the galaxy. Though, that plot also reminded me, strongly, of the Doctor Who episode, “Ghost Light”. One thing that concerned me was that Superman seemed to have very little concern for all the other cities on Brainiac’s ship – at one point he tries to destroy the ship, despite all the other cities with presumably living “specimens” inside. Later, Superman mentions resettling all the other cities on habitable planets – but I wondered if he realized what a big job that would be – there were hundreds of bell jars, from hundreds of planets. I wondered why Superman didn’t call in the Green Lantern Corps to help – it’s exactly the sort of thing they are trained for. But still, overall, it’s a good movie with a lot of action and battles. Superman fans will probably really love it.

Recommendation: See it!
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Next Film: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The Importance of Teamwork – DC Style

Batman_Teamwork_Quote_Banner

I bought Young Justice Seasons 1 and 2 on Blu-Ray and I just started re-watching the series today. As I remembered, Season 1 starts a little slow, as it focused on building the younger Justice League heroes into a team. However, I was intrigued by “Schooled”, episode five. The entire episode, building on the theme from the previous episode, is about teamwork.  Whereas, “Drop Zone”, focused on leadership, specifically Robin realizing that Aqualad should be the team leader – “Schooled” focuses on all the members of the team learning to work together without showboating.  Batman arrives at the end to not only note that he is proud of how the new team handled themselves, but to tell them it’s OK to ask for help.  And, as he points out to his young proteges – that’s what the Justice League members do when they are over-whelmed.

DC Comics, especially in the classic comics of the late 80s/early 90s such as Justice League International, Justice League America, and Justice League Europe, frequently focused on team stories.  In these titles, every DC Hero was part of the Justice League, which was led by Batman and founded by the seven most popular heroes (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Black Canary, and Martian Manhunter) – in fact, since Batman was frequently rather busy in Gotham City – Black Canary (a woman) was the leader of the League when he wasn’t there.  However, because all DC Heroes were League members, virtually anybody could and did show up, with Blue Beetle and Booster Gold frequently commenting on the action from the Hall of Justice cafeteria – or chasing Fire and Ice (two female heroes).  The Warner Brothers Animation television series, Justice League Unlimited (building on Justice League which had just seven heroes) kept the feeling of a large league, and featured stories that focused on lesser-known heroes.  Besides encouraging everyone to watch Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, and Young Justice (in that order – to keep up with common plot threads such as Cadmus) there is an important theme here:  teamwork.

Whereas Marvel comics emphasized individual heroes even in The Avengers film, their team seems unwilling or unable to truly work together – in the DC universe, heroes have accepted two things:  they must join the League – which acts almost like a trade association (think Board of Medicine, Board of Nursing, The Bar, Certified Accountants, or any other professional organization); and some problems are just too big for a single person to handle.  Plus, for readers of DC Comics, it meant characters without much in the way of powers (Booster Gold, Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle) or with a single, rather limited power (Black Canary, Fire, Ice, Mr. Miracle and Family, Plastic Man, etc.) could exist in the common book – JLI (Justice League International), which then split into JLA (Justice League America) and JLE (Justice League Europe).  Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Flash all had their own books, and in some cases – several books.  But those characters appeared together in the Justice League books, along with hundreds of others.  The Justice League books also allowed for more female and minority characters.

But more than that – the style of JLI, JLA, and JLE – had characters working together – Ted Kord frequently ferried non-flying Heroes to the site of a disaster or supervillain attack in his Beetle flying machine, for example.  When the League faced a major disaster or villain – they worked together to solve the problem.  In Young Justice, the young heroes are learning the value of working together, even to defeat a more powerful enemy, such as Bane in “Drop Zone” or Amazo in “Schooled”.

Teamwork is a valuable skill – as an adult, no matter where you work – teamwork is often more valued than individual achievement.  Certainly, one has to learn how to work on a team for a common goal in a real world company.  Projects fall apart, costing time, money and resources, if the team cannot work together.  This is especially true if the team then blames each other for the failure of the project.  Still, the skills of working together as a team are important in the complex modern world.