12 July 2006

Ink Blots XXI - Superman: Brainiac Attacks

Machine month continues with an unpleasant detour in Supermanland.

In the 1990's, a group of creative folk led by Bruce Timm got together and decided to do Superhero cartoons right. Starting with the excellent Batman animated series and continuing through the most recent Justice League Unlimited, the world of DC comics was brought to the small screen. While these adventures thrilled kids, they were not dumbed down. These animated series did justice to the heroes they showcased and the villains as well. In 1996. Superman: The Animated Series debuted with a 3-part origin story titled The Last Son of Krypton. This "movie" told the story of Jor-El's courageous efforts to save his son from the inevitable destruction of his homeworld. Additionally, the story introduced the evil Kryptonian computer Brainiac, who hid the coming destruction so that he could focus on saving the Kryptonian data and himself rather than being tasked with the futile effort of saving the planet. Brainiac escapes destruction only to visit other worlds, gather all of their data, and destroy them so that his records remain complete. This brilliant series proved that Lex Luthor should not be the only name in Superman's rogues gallery as Mxyzptlk, Metallo, Bizarro, Livewire, Parasite, and of course Darkseid all were given A+ treatment. The series ended while still in its prime, and 6 years later when movie based on the show was announced all rejoiced... Prematurely.

Superman: Brainiac Attacks is a travesty. It took the animation designs from the series, and some of the voice actors, and none of the reverence for the characters or stories themselves. The main plot is that Lex teams up with Brainiac to get rid of Superman. Lex plans to double cross the computer, but is out calculated, and in the end needs the Man of Steel to save him along with the rest of the world. Of course, Superman is busy trying to recover some magic from the Phantom Zone to cure Lois Lane of her Brainiac induced Zombieism. Riiiiiiight.

One of this movie's biggest offenses is the transformation of the series' no-nonsense, calculating billionaire businessman Lex Luthor into a Hackmanesque one-liner spouting buffoon. Another egregious, but less noticeable change affects Brainiac's origin, as he seems to forget that in this incarnation of Superman, he also hails from Krypton, and should have no lustful need for Kryptonian data in Superman's Fortress of Solitude.

There is plenty of action, too much in fact. It doesn't ever seem like there is any danger to Superman, nor does it seem that the fighting will ever end. Also, the absence of the original series' Superman theme is noticeable, as the hero is left to fight with a bland score to cheer him on.

I normally would not spoil a movie, but one of the main plot points that coerced me into watching this film was the prospect that Clark Kent would reveal himself as Superman to Lois. Let's just say, that never happens (hey, at least there was no use of super-amnesia kiss powers).

As bad as this film is, it is still Superman, and that keeps it from being utterly unredeemable. It just isn't the Superman it should have been, so I am going to give Brainiac Attacks a generous D-.

Check out my past reviews:

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
The Black Cauldron
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Fire & Ice
Grave of the Fireflies
The Iron Giant
Kaena: The Prophecy
The Last Unicorn
Magnetic Rose
Princess Mononoke
Starchaser: The Legend of Orin
Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume 1
The Sword in the Stone
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Wallace and Gromit in A Grand Day Out


Doug said...

According to the Superman: TAS episode "Stolen Memories," all of the data on Krypton was contained in the memory cell (aka "glowy ball") that Superman stole from him at the end of the episode when he destroyed a whole horde of Brainiac's planet information balls. So Brainiac actually wouldn't have the info on Krypton anymore - only Supes has it in that glowy ball he keeps at the fortress.

Granted, the glowy ball is depicted as bigger in this movie than it was on the show.

Chip Chief said...

you are correct. but the movie was still terribel. =)

Doug said...

If nothing else, at least it didn't portray Superman as completely invulnerable to absolutely everything if he just wishes really, really hard *cough*SupermanReturns*cough*.

Chip Chief said...

and he also did more than just lift things also ala Superman Returns. but the fights, though plentiful, were just pretty boring.