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Monday, May 13, 2013

Superman Unbound Review

Well, for the past few weeks, I've been watching every Star Trek movie as part of my own personal preperation for Into Darkness coming out this Friday.  Given it takes me about 5 months for things to move from my notes to this blog, look for my epic 11-part series on every Star Trek movie in Fishing in the Discount Bin some time this fall.   But, now that that's done, I can start working my way through all the other new DVDs I've acquired over the past few weeks, such as Warner Bros. latest straight-to-DVD DC Comics movie...

Superman Unbound DVD Cover

Superman Unbound

Directed by James Tucker

Starring the voices of Matt Bomer, Stana Katic, John Noble, Molly Quinn, Diedrich Bader, Frances Conroy, Alexander Gould, and Stephen Root.


Backstory:  While I generally enjoy these DC films, I am starting to grow weary of them being about nothing but Batman and Superman.  But still, Superman seems to be a little bit tricky for most, and these films seem to be the best way to explore other facets of the Superman mythology, other than just the Batman vs. Lex Luthor or General Zod that we only seem to get at the movies.  So this latest one is based on the storyline Brainiac from a few years ago, which gave us a gritty reboot for Superman's  nemesis Braniac, and re-introduced many beloved aspects of the Superman universe, such as the bottled city of Kandor.  And it's nice when the spotlight is shone on other members of Superman's rogues gallery.  So let's see how this one fares.

Plot:  A mysterious probe falls out of space and lands in Arizona.  Superman goes to investigate and does battle with this alien android.  When he takes the wreckage back to the Fortress of Solitude for analysis, Supergirl is quickly able to identify it as one of the robot drones of Brainiac...a ruthless alien cyborg who travels the universe, collecting information on whole planets, capturing their cities to be archived, and then destroying the planet and moving on.  Supergirl knows all this because she was there when Brainiac came to Krypton and took their capital city of Kandor.  Hearing all this information, Superman heads into deep space to take the battle to Brainiac before he reaches Earth.  It's a journey that will put Superman back in touch with his heritage, Supergirl face-to-face with her demons, and the fate of Metropolis in the balance. 

What I Liked:  Lots of great outer-space action.  A great subplot for Supergirl, as she is truly traumatized at having witness Kandor's destruction and the threat of Brainiac's return.  Great voice acting all around.  Matt Bomer makes a great Superman.  Stana Katic is perhaps the sassiest Lois Lane we've seen so far in these films, and it's a great laugh seeing her give Brainiac the finger.  And it's nice to see that the big screen superhero movie trend of the post-credit sequence has made its way to these animated films.

What I Didn't Like:  Just can't shake the feeling that I've seen this all before.  For example, it seems like Clark Kent and Lois Lane's domestic squabbles are always the subplot in these Superman films, and it's just starting to get so repetitive.

Final Verdict:  Just a solid Superman adventure

3 Nibs

 Bonus Materials:  On this Blu-Ray, we get a running commentary with the director and several DC bigwigs, a featurette on the history of Brainiac, a featurette on the history of Kandor, 4 bonus episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, a digital comic excerpt from the original Brainiac storyline, and a preview of the next straight-to-DVD film, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

I'm kind of looking forward to the next one.  As I said, I'm growing tired of the Superman/Batman dynamic, but Flashpoint, despite having Justice League up front, is very much a Flash story, so it's nice to see the Flash taking centre stage.

And hey, DC, since you've come to adding digital comics as a bonus feature, how about making it an actual digital comic, that you download to your digital comic app?  And not just projecting the pages of the comic on your TV?  Just a thought. 

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