Superman Unbound [Blu-Ray] James Tucker

Superman Unbound [Blu-Ray] James Tucker
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The animation division of DC Entertainment continues to put forth quality offerings aimed at introducing new viewers to streamlined versions of essential story arcs from the DC Universe. Superman Unbound takes advantage of the resurgence of public interest in the last son of Krypton fanned by Zack Synder's mega-budget big screen re-imagining. Where that film featured a dour, self-important tone and crushing action at the expensive of story, Unbound, as part of the ongoing animated Superman mythos, embraces the character's fantastical science fiction elements. We're not likely to see Supergirl or Brainiac on the big screen any time soon and that's exactly what's so appealing about the animated movie series: it's much easier to buy outlandish characters in cartoon form. This iteration of the Brainiac story sees the galactic cyborg culture collector (brought to life by the resonant voice of Fringe's John Noble) trying to add Metropolis to his set of miniaturized bottle cities, while Kal-El contends with his angst-ridden teenage cousin (she's actually older than Superman, but that can of temporal wormholes, while mentioned, is wisely left unopened). Smartly paralleling Brainiac's obsession with acquiring, and hermetically storing, knowledge and beauty is a subplot dealing with Clark's over-protective treatment of Lois Lane. A strong, independent woman, Lois appreciates having her life saved when the chips are down, but has no time for insecure expressions of chivalry at the office. The slice of real life relationship management amidst all the space-faring battles, including a flashback to Brainiac's assault on Kandor, the capital city of Krypton, is welcome. That it's such an appropriate thematic fit for the primary action is a solid example of mainstream comic storytelling done well. Action-packed, with a side of philosophizing about the vital difference between theoretical and practical knowledge, Superman Unbound is another strong demonstration of how animation can succeed where live action fails. As is typical of DC Entertainment releases, Unbound is stuffed with special features that should appeal directly to the target audience. Both "Kandor: History of the Bottle City" and "Brainiac: Technology and Terror" provide great history lessons on the distinct eras of storytelling explored in the film. Loaded with interviews with key creative personnel, including Marv Wolfman, Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns, and plenty of art for visual reference, these features are detailed and informative enough to qualify as mini-documentaries. To add even more value to the package, "From the DC Comics Vault" contains four pertinent episodes from Superman: The Animated Series, and there's a digital comic excerpt from Geoff Johns's Superman: Brainiac book, from which this version is adapted. Finally, there's a feature commentary track with director James Tucker, screenwriter Bob Goodman and DC Entertainment's creative director, Mike Carlin. They fall silent pretty often for a trio of comic book nerds, but once they get warmed up, a great deal of behind-the-scenes info is imparted. (Warner)