The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Superman Unbound

If you can't wait for Man of Steel to hit theaters, you can get a satisfying Superman fix with Superman: Unbound, the latest in a series of generally good DC Universe original animated movies. The film - available on DVD, in a Blu-Ray combo pack, and on demand – is out now.

Matt Bomer (who, ironically, was once strongly considered to play the character in a live-action movie) provides the voice of Superman. As the film begins, he is struggling to make his relationship with Lois Lane (Stana Katic) work. She resents his seemingly compulsive need to protect her from threats both real and imagined. As they try to sort things out, the evil Brainiac (John Noble) makes his way across the galaxy, raiding planets and stealing their cities in a quest for knowledge. He is now heading toward Earth. Superman attempts to stop him before he can swipe Metropolis. Assisting him is his cousin, Supergirl (Molly Quinn). She is a typical teen, with a chip on her shoulder and a desire to get back at those responsible for the desolation of home planet Krypton.

Superman: Unbound is based on the 2008 Geoff Johns/Gary Frank series “Superman: Brianiac.” The movie version keeps the story tight, balancing both action and more character-centered elements. Detractors of Superman have often accused him of being “boring,” given that he has superpowers and is almost completely indestructible. This film gives lie to that idea, finding interesting complications for him to have with the other people in his life. Superman's romance with Lois is bumpy, and he struggles to rein in Supergirl's more rebellious notions. The character may not be technically human, but he's got a lot of human problems.

Visually, the movie is impressive, too. The use of color in Brainiac's lair is very effective, creating an otherworldly glow. Director James Tucker additionally uses appealingly offbeat camera angles and other stylistic devices for the action sequences. He brings a visual finesse to Superman: Unbound that makes it feel cinematic, despite the fact that it wasn't made for the big screen.

The DVD, which I previewed, contains only a sneak peak at the next DC Universe production, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. However, the Blu-Ray version contains two featurettes – one on the shrunken city of Kandor, the other on Brainiac – as well as audio commentary from members of the creative team, four episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, and a digital comic.

( out of four)

Superman Unbound is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and a rude gesture. The running time is 1 hour and 15 minutes.

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