Top critical review
22 people found this helpful
on May 12, 2013
I've been a fan of most of the Superman animated movies previously released. I liked All-Star Superman and the Batman team-ups, Apocalypse & Public Enemies. I especially liked Superman vs the Elite and the Captain Marvel short. Even the Justice League movies portrayed Superman in an enjoyable manner. Superman Unbound, however, didn't really impress. It's a movie I enjoyed enough once through, but will not likely watch again any time soon.
Based on the comic book story appearing in Action Comics #866-870 by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank, this movie tells the tale of Brainiac and the bottle city of Kandor. We learn little about Brainiac's background. His motivation is simply the acquisition of knowledge, which is a sensible goal for a man who is essentially a walking computer. The strength of the film is how Brainiac's mission intersects with Supergirl's back story, which in turn impacts and motivates Superman.
There is solid character development between Superman & Supergirl. It really is a movie about both characters, so the title is a little misrepresentation. I might even say Supergirl really is the star of this movie. She is the one who is connected to Brainiac, Kandor, and Kryptonians in general.
On the subject of the title, I'm not even sure how Superman is "unbound." When I think of the word "unbound" I think of the ending of Superman vs the Elite, which is epic. Never in the story is he really bound by anything.
There are some good action sequences in the movie, though the battles at different points in the story seem unbalanced. First, Brainiac whoops Superman. Then Superman whoops Brainiac. It's a complete 180. It's not until the final battle that any logic is applied to why one would be victorious over the other. Still the logic works and leads to a believable ending.
I'm not sure the romance subplot needed to be there. Haven't we seen enough Lois & Clark relationship woes in a million other places? Plus, superheroes denying themselves a proper relationship in order to protect the ones they love is a cliche of the genre at this point. To wrap up this subplot, Johns jumped into a big old vat of cheesy cheese that seemed a cheap way to create last-moment emotional drama.
I didn't really care for the animation style, but it didn't really impact my enjoyment of the movie. Personal preference there. It's clearly anime-inspired. At one point Superman's arm looks a mile long due to some weird perspective.
Voice acting was solid. Lois may have been a little too stiff, though that could be due to poor scripting. I'm all for Lois being the tough-as-nails reporter who will do anything to get a story, but she makes a lot of dry jokes that don't really work. With the attitude she has on the helicopter in the opening scene, you'd swear SHE was the one with superpowers. It also can come off a little annoying, because it comes off that she doesn't care what she does, because Superman will always come to the rescue. It's a little irresponsible and selfish and he seems wishy-washy in his anger over it. This is another factor that tainted the romance elements for me. Why would Superman want a woman who deliberately abuses his abilities and time to take unnecessary risks for personal gain in her career.
It's not a bad movie that does provide a solid history of Brainiac, Kandor, Supergirl, and Krypton that we don't see elsewhere in animation (that I recall). It's also a nice team-up between Superman and Supergirl. Seeing them team-up as family over a story about their origins is great. Ultimately, however, the story isn't that impressive or memorable. It lacks fun, humor, or epic storytelling. It's a rental for sure.