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

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