There has been several Superman animated movies so far. We've seen many stories adapted in different styles. Despite this fact, Superman: Unbound doesn't feel like just another Superman movie. Part of this could be because it's based on the Geoff Johns/Gary Frank story from ACTION COMICS #866-870. Another part could just be the specifics of the story itself.
With the threat focusing on Brainiac, it takes the story in a different direction. Past animated movies have featured villains a little more grounded. Superman vs. Lex Luthor always provides entertainment but with Superman facing an intergalactic threat and, one that was present on Krypton before its destruction, we're seeing a different type of Superman story.
One of the great things about this movie is the action starts right up. There is a kidnapping and some local terrorists are up to no good. There's plenty of gunfire and a high speed chase through the air. With all the different Superman movies, we don't need an introduction to each character. There are some minor ones such as when Steve Lombard is being his typical obnoxious self at the Daily Planet. But it all feels natural. It's simply a matter of who he is but it's clear and doesn't interrupt the flow of the movie.
Even though the story isn't that old, you almost get a sense of nostalgia seeing Superman and Supergirl in their pre-New 52 incarnations. That means Superman has his traditional shorts-on-the-outside look. The portrayal and tension between Supergirl and Superman is perfect. She's still adjusting to being on Earth and is acting like a super-powered teenager. She lost her entire planet, friends and family with Krypton's destruction. Superman can't really relate to what she's feeling because for her, it wasn't that long ago. Superman has had his entire life to grow up and adjust to Earth.
We also get Lois and Clark. They are not married here. She knows his identity but their relationship isn't exactly wide known. Lois is great here. She shows just the right amount of spunk. She doesn't blink when facing the insanity of this world.
The animation is crisp with vibrant colors. This movie simply looks good. The animation style is interesting as the decision was made not to try to mimic Gary Frank's style. It suits the movie but makes you wonder why they went with Superman having a longer and narrower face. Lois has short hair and her eyes appear to be almost purple. Supergirl looks vulnerable but she kicks all sorts of butt in this film.
The movie earns its PG-13 rating. There is a fair amount of violence. During the helicopter chase, we see some blow up with no signs of the pilots miraculously jumping out with parachutes. Brainiac's attacks are extremely violent as well. While we don't see the specific damage down to individuals during his attacks, there is plenty of blood that flies across the screen. The rating description also informs you that there is one "rude gesture." I won't say who does it or what specifically it is. It felt a little out of character and obviously unnecessary for the story. But I suppose it might spice things up a tiny bit or make the non-comic readers chuckle when it happens.
The story itself plays out wonderfully on screen. The idea of Brainiac collecting cities from planets and then feeling they are no longer necessary is fascinating. Seeing his way of thinking and compulsive behavior sets him apart from the various incarnations we've seen of him over the years. That's why Geoff Johns' story was so great. Seeing this version of Brainiac makes a great threat against Superman. The effects it has on Supergirl adds to her strengths and vulnerability as well.
- Commentary by James Tucker, Bob Goodman and Mike Carlin. (Exclusive to Blu-ray).
- Preview of the next animated movie: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.
- Kandor: HIstory of the Bottle City (16:54) This is a cool mini-feature. We get the history of the city and hear from Bob Goodman, Marv Wolfman, Heath Corson, Dan DiDio and Mike Carlin. It's a great look at Superman's history over the years surrounding Kandor and the number of other Kryptonians in the DC Universe. There's mention of the want for Superman to be unique which led to the fight to at least keep Supergirl. (Exclusive to Blu-ray).
- Brainiac: Technology and Terror (24:42) Again we hear from Bob Goodman, Mike Carlin, Marv Wolfman and Heath Corson. There is a history of Brainiac and how the sci-fi influence from the 1950s resulted in his creation and evolution. We get to see the different versions of him over the years.
- From the Vault: "The Last Son of Krypyon, Part 1" from Superman: The Animated Series S1; "New Kids in Town" from Superman: The Animated Series S3; "Little Lost Girl, Parts 1 & 2" from Superman: The Animated Series S2.
- A digital comic excerpt from the graphic novel SUPERMAN: BRAINIAC by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank.
Overall, this is a great release. I'm sure I'm not the only one a little tired of the numerous Superman and Batman releases. But this one stands above the others. It's a great story that works nicely as a separate stand alone movie. The animation looks great and the difference in style gives it a different feel. You know the story from the comics but it still feels new. The voice acting is top notch as always. DC/Warner Bros. knows how to cast the characters perfectly. If you're a fan of the original story or just love the characters, you will want to pick this up. The added extras give you further reason to make the purchase versus just renting it. This is a movie that I would definitely watch again.