If you’ve followed Word of the Nerd for very long you’ve probably picked up that I am a huge fan of DC’s line of animated films. Although I have been critical of some, as a whole the entire line of films have set a standard in comic book adaptations that is hard to surpass. It has been often said by many of the writers here that if Warner Bros. could put that kind of quality film making into their live action comic book movies, they would be beating Marvel Entertainment by leaps and bounds. Sadly, that’s not how it is and the true upside is that twice a year we are treated to at least two new animated films from DC. So now that that is out of the way, let’s get to the real meat and potatoes of this review.
As a rule so far, the Superman films have not been my favorites, with the exception of All Star Superman, I found them to be lacking quite a bit. It seems that only when paired with Batman or teamed up with the Justice League does Superman really have a chance to shine. There is a new exception to that…Superman Unbound. Although far from perfect, Superman Unbound does score quite high on my personal list of best DC animated films. And even though I was not a fan of the animation style I saw in the trailer, it did not matter to me in the end.
The story was based on a 2008 story arc written by Geoff Johns; Superman: Brainiac. If you are a fan of DC Comics, you know that Johns can tell a story and it comes through perfectly. The script written by Bob Goodman adapts Johns’ original story quite nicely particularly the portrayal of Brainiac, voiced by Fringe star John Noble. Animated to look almost Borg-like in appearance, along with Noble’s voice acting, the character of Brainiac was truly sinister and frightening, a true match for Superman and a far departure from the Brainiac we’ve seen in Superman The Animated Series, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. The cold and calculating machine is replaced with a fearsome human quality that Noble performs perfectly.
Aside from John Noble the other voice talent in this film, which the producers have a knack of bringing a unique list of talent to all of the films, is surprisingly well done. Matt Bomer (White Collar) and Stana Katic (Castle) do justice to the characters of Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane. Although I was not all that pleased with the appearance of Lois Lane. Though she was voiced beautifully by Katic, her look reminded me of a woman trying to look much younger than she is. Whether intentional or not, the psuedo-goth look Lois was sporting wasn’t at all like Lois Lane, but more like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. For me it was Molly Quinn‘s (Castle) portrayal of Kara Zor-El/Supergirl that was really excellent in the film. For that matter, Supergirl’s entire presence made me enjoy this film so much.
Quinn’s Supergirl was neither as shy nor as innocent as you would think her to be. Supergirl takes on the role of badass superhero and a darker shadow to her cousin Superman quite well. Her introduction in the opening sequence of the film was pure magic and actually had me talking to the screen more than once. I know for certain that I let slip a “oh no, now you’re in for it” when the bad guys try to flee from a determined Supergirl. A teenage girl with angst and superpowers is not to be trifled with.
Overall this was another feather in the cap of DC and Warner Bros. I was skeptical at first due to my disappointment in past solo Superman films, but I found myself enjoying it immensely and would definitely recommend it to the uninitiated. In writing this review I realized that Superman Unbound is the 16th in the series of stand alone films with hopefully no end in sight anytime soon. Additional voice talent includes Frances Conroy, Wade Williams, Diedrich Bader, Stephen Root and Alexander Gould.
The Nerd gives Superman Unbound – 4 out of 5