Superman: Unbound (2013, 75 minutes)
Plot: When a probe draws Superman’s attention, he’s drawn into conflict with the knowledge obsessed Brainiac who has a vital piece of the Man of Steel’s homeworld in his grasp.
Source Material: This is a relatively faithful take on Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Brainiac story from the comics. There are alterations, like making it Superman’s first encounter with the alien outright instead of his first encounter with the actual Brainiac. Superman’s relationship with Lois Lane is also satisfyingly altered to where they’re dating but in secret as opposed to being married in the comics, But by and large this is the comic on film and it works.
Animation: This was just before Flashpoint and clearly made the same way, yet for some reason it looks much better than that one. Colors are strong. Faces are effective, though the design is a bit soft. Action is great with some of the best fights I’ve seen yet in DC animation. This is easily a theatrical looking film.
Script: More importantly, this is one hell of a script. Bob Goodman really knew what he was doing with one of the fullest structured films yet. There’s a clear beginning, middle, and end with subplots that work. The clunky handling of the Superman/Lois subplot in Doomsday is hard underlined here with a nice parallel between Superman trying to control Lois and Brainiac’s control of worlds. Characters are well written throughout. This script definitely makes the theatrical grade.
Voice Acting: I’ve been effusive so far but I’m not done. Matt Bomer, who was floated at one time to play Superman in live action, does a fine job in the role. He gives a human take on the character, facing rage and doubt yet fighting on. Stana Katic gives the best animated Lois Lane yet, very much the 90s/00s take on the character. Her Castle costar Molly Quinn is a wonderful Supergirl. The real star here? John Noble going wonderfully over the top as Brainiac. It’s hard to be displeased by an evil Walter Bishop coldly mocking Superman for his love of Earth.
Final Verdict: 5. This is a full fledged movie that delivers on every level. Despite the standard 75 minute runtime, it feels much richer than the norm, hitting on a number of high notes Superman fans have wanted to see on screen but have been robbed of because of lack of imagination. For fans of elements like Kandor and Brainiac it’s a blast. But more importantly, for Superman fans it’s a real treat. Highly recommended.