Warner Bros. // 2006 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 26th, 2006
Up, up, and away.
Riding the incoming tsunami of all things Kryptonian, Warner Brothers is cleaning house with its Superman swag. Brainiac Attacks is an animated almost-feature length film pitting the Man of Steel against the Galactic Robot of Being-a-Jackass.
Right out of the gates we get into some super-powered fisticuffs. Lex Luthor has designed a mega-powerful satellite, which he plans on using to defend the Earth from asteroids and comets and thus usurp Superman's position as planetary savior. One comet breaks through his defenses and lands at the control tower in a mega-ton blast. Emerging from the debris is space traveler and data-mining fiend, Brainiac, a "bio-technic" monstrosity that hungers for information and is willing to lay waste to anyone and anything to get it.
Superman immediately arrives on the scene, and the two heavyweights start trading blows. Brainiac commandeers Luthor's satellite and uses it to rain down destruction from space, battering Supes and causing acres of collateral damage. Meanwhile Lois and Jimmy, rushing to get the scoop, find themselves endangered, and Lex stands by rooting for Superman to get his ass handed to him.
But Superman eventually takes care of business. Luthor, intent on fostering his world domination schemes, salvages Brainiac's processor, makes a deal with the villain, and rebuilds him into a roided-up robot monstrosity. The fight continues as Superman must defend Metropolis from Brainiac, while also keeping Lois safe (and evaluating his emotions toward the comely reporter).
I enjoyed this little Superman venture. A lot of things worked for it, and resulted in a fine way to kill 75 minutes. While not a classic entry into the mythos, I think fans of the Man of the Steel will likely enjoy this outing and kids should really have a blast. The marketing is obviously tied into the buzz about Bryan Singer's big-screen rendition, but that corporate timetable shouldn't dissuade folks in the market for a good dose of Superman cartooning from checking this disc out.
What first stood out to me was the quality of animation. Adapting the hard-edged, almost blocky look of the Superman animated series, Brainiac Attacks has a clean, modern look to it. The colors are bright and gorgeous, and the copious action sequences are shot with skill to maximize the fun. A blurred perspective tactic is used quite a lot, and it works, effectively delineating foreground and background action.
Thankfully, the story is decent enough to deserve the animation. The back-and-forth between Superman and Brainiac is primarily used as fodder for gigantic battles and exploding robots, the side stories actually bring some more character-driven meat to the table. Now I'm not saying this silly little superhero cartoon is Shakespearean, but the writers have done more with the Clark/Supes/Lois dynamic than expected. Clark anguishes over his feelings for Lois and how she only has eyes for the caped one and how her connection with Superman usually translates into an increased danger quotient for the brunette reporter.
Sure the characterization is marginal, but it's a nice bone to toss to the fans. At the very least, the filmmakers took the story seriously, even if the release does reek of opportune product placement.
The disc itself is bare bones. Full frame and a 5.1 surround mix, with only previews for extras. And no scene selection! Not super.
I admit I have no idea if anything that transpires in this movie is considered sacrilege to comic fans. I'm not up with the current Superman mythology, so if you watch this movie and you hate it, please refrain from the nasty e-mails. Oh, and Lex Luthor comes across as a dope, which is counter to the mega-villain I remember.
Brainiac Attacks is a breezy, fun bit of superhero animation. It's great to look at and the story doesn't blow. Plus there are lots of missiles and Superman punches a giant robot in the head many, many times. No complaints.
Not guilty. Court adjourned. Now where's the nearest phone booth?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated