Thursday, May 9, 2013

Superman: Unbound (2013)

Directed by James Tucker
Starring Matt Bomer and John Noble
Runtime 75min. - Rated PG13
3.5 Stars (out of 4)

Available now on VUDU and Amazon Instant.

This ain't the kind of cartoon your kids watch on Saturday mornings.

"Superman: Unbound" took a little getting used to for me. For starters, I've watched every feature-length animated Superman movie and recently finished the animated series "Justice League Unlimited". So I have a certain idea of how Superman should be drawn. It's narrow-minded and unfair, I admit. The animation of "Superman: Unbound" is a pretty big departure from the D.C. Animated Universe. The characters have slender faces with less jawline than I'm used to. Also, when Kal-El changes back into a mild-mannered reporter his voice changes drastically. This is the first Superman since Christopher Reeve to make his secret identity believable. The change in voice was so major that I waited for the credits to who the other voice actor was. There was no other voice actor, just one talented guy named Matt Bomer.

Once I was adjusted to the style I was actually quite pleased with the animation. I especially liked the use of freeze frames during action sequences that mimicked comic book panels. The same traits that first distracted me about Superman actually proved a great success with the female characters. The feminity of Supergirl and Lois Lane really shined in the style. Don't worry, they still manage to be tough and sassy.

Hello ladies.

This incarnation of Brainiac is impressive. He roams the galaxy in a massive ship looking for inhabitated planets and sends out robots to suck knowledge from the inhabitant's brains. The methodology is questionable. All we see from the robots is spiked tentacles shooting through people's mouths and out the back of their skulls. How they harvest information from this process is left unexplained. When the robots are done, Brainiac shrinks the cities down and stores them on his ship. The rest of the planet is destroyed. If you're a fan of Galactus from Marvel Comics, you'll probably like this version of Brainiac.

I really love this movie and may watch it again soon. I'd count it up there with "Justice League: The New Frontier" and "Superman: Doomsday" for the best DC animated movies. One minor issue I had was the way Brainiac is defeated. He's such an impressive villain that I found his weakness sort of dumb. Plus, it's poorly explained. The term entropy comes to mind but the writers never bothered to use that term. That's all I'll say about the topic as not to spoil it. It's an easily overlooked flaw.

You probably shouldn't watch this with kids younger than teens. I'm not one to give parenting advice, but I'm glad my 8 year-old wasn't home when I watched it.

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