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Superman: Brainiac Attacks

Superman: Brainiac Attacks
Original Release Date - June 20th, 2006 (DVD)
Note: This film is *not* in continuity with Superman: The Animated Series, as confirmed by the film's creators.

Embittered by Superman's heroic successes and soaring popularity, Lex Luthor forms a dangerous alliance with the powerful computer/villain Brainiac. Using advanced weaponry and a special strain of Kryptonite harvested from the far reaches of outer space, Luthor specifically redesigns Brainiac to defeat the Man of Steel. But when Brainiac betrays Luthor and reveals its sinister plans for world domination, Superman must brave the mysterious Phantom Zone to find the strength to survive this deadly showdown.

Media by Bird Boy
Reviews by Bird Boy, Jim Harvey

Executive Producer Sander Schwartz
Supervising Producer Curt Geda
Producer Margaret M. Dean
Associate Producer Kyle Jolly
Consulting Producer Duane Capizzi
Story by Christopher Simmons and Duane Capizzi
Screenplay by Duane Capizzi
Directed by Curt Geda
Editor Margaret Hou
Casting and Voice Direction Susan Blu
Music by Thomas Chase Jones
Animation by Lotto Animation

Tim Daly as Superman and Clark Kent
Powers Boothe as Lex Luthor
Dana Delany as Lois Lane
Lance Henriksen as Brainiac
George Dzundza as Perry White
David Kaufman as Jimmy Olsen
Mike Carrell as Jonathan Kent
Shelley Fabares as Martha Kent
Tara Strong as Mercy Graves
Roger Rose, Cynthia Songe and Fredy Tatasciore as Additional Voices

Screen Grabs

More Media Available on the Screen Grabs and Pans Page!
Also, click here for an interview with Superman: Brainiac Attacks writer Duane Capizzi!


Review (Jim Harvey): I was hoping to view Superman: Brainiac Attacks and be able to counter Bird Boy's review (below); to say that the movie isn't bad with the uneven voice acting and a lacking script. That great animation, for the most part, and some great sequence directing is all it has going for it. Well, I didn't find it as repulsive as Bird Boy, but it's still a stain on Superman's shorts as far as I'm concerned. It's still better than "Superman's Pal" and "Unity," but that isn't really a compliment, is it?

Before I address the movie itself, I want to quickly touch upon "wacky Lex." He's modeled after the Richard Donner version of Lex Luthor, from the Superman live-action features. Writer Duane Capizzi even says so. He says that while the movie has the look of the Bruce Timm animated series, it's a stand alone movie that can be considered out of continuity, and draws influences from many different aspects of the Superman lore. Does that excuse the final product? No. But for those hardcore Timm-fans looking for an excuse to ignore this movie, there it is.

The plot for the direct to video feature is common knowledge. According to the back of the DVD box, Embittered by Superman's heroic successes and soaring popularity, Lex Luthor forms a dangerous alliance with the powerful computer/villain Brainiac. Using advanced weaponry and a special strain of Kryptonite harvested from the far reaches of outer space, Luthor specifically redesigns Brainiac to defeat the Man of Steel. But when Brainiac betrays Luthor and reveals its sinister plans for world domination, Superman must brave the mysterious Phantom Zone to find the strength to survive this deadly showdown.

Sounds good, right? Well, it would have been for a twenty minute, maybe two-part episode. But that plot above is stretched out to 73 minutes (without end credits), so how do they make it last? Lots and lots of fighting. Now, I love the action from the DC Cartoons. Even though they can be excessive at times in Justice League, it goes way over the top in this film. Fights go nowhere, with both opponents pummeling each other until Superman uses his "Super-Arctic Breath" (What?) or manages to some how throw a punch magically more powerful than any that came before. It seems like they had a certain amount of time to fill, so they just let the opponents duke it out until they needed to advance the plot.

As for the plot, don't bother trying to fit it into Superman: The Animated Series. It won't work. I know fans have bent over backwards to make everything fit in the DCAU continuity, but I wouldn't bother with this one. Just don't.

It's a very simple story that gets from point "A" to point "B" with no real detours. We know exactly how it'll end, so I know I'm not spoiling the movie when I say that Superman saves the day. It's just that how long it takes to get there, and Brainiac's unexplained arrival in the movie, is monotonous. While many consider the 73 minutes a short running time, you feel every single minute here. All of it. And the simple dialogue and tedious action just slows the movie down. I actually caught myself watching the timer on the DVD player to see how much time I had to endure of this. It's a simple story stretched a good 50 minutes too long.

Tim Daly returns as Superman and phones it in, neglecting to provide any of the depth he provided during his tenure as the Man of Steel during the animated series. Except for the actors playing Lex Luthor, Mercy Graves, and Brainiac, the regular voice actors return and do the best they can with the dialogue. Nothing spectacular and only a few real groaners. With Susan Blu curiously stepping in as Voice Director, and the absence of Andrea Romano is painful. Romano's touch, seen on the majority of DCAU's touch, is sorely missed as it would've undoubtedly added some much needed touches to make the dialogue work even a shade better.

The animation, for the most part, is well done. There are some scenes that get the short end of the stick, but the majority of the battle sequences are well done. The special effects and clean look of the digital animation give this movie an added boost. It looks great most of the time, with the script causing it to sadly drag.

This is a movie fit for the younger audience, obviously the target with this feature. It acts as a safe introduction to the more mature and dramatic DCAU. While I can't recommend it to fans of the animated Superman series or the DCAU, I know nothing I say here will deter anyone. Check it out, as I know most will, and make up your own mind. Personally, I found it to be underwhelming and simple, dragging to the bitter final seconds of the screen time. I'd recommending picking up one of the other animated Superman releases on June 20th and checking this out for free on Cartoon Network. As a big fan of Capizzi and Geda's work, it's disappointing to see them miss this one, but everyone has an off script (yes, even Bruce Timm and Paul Dini wrote some stinkers).

Review (Bird Boy): The announcement of Superman: Brainiac Attacks was somewhat out of left field. We knew a new feature film was hitting theaters in 2006, but instead of animating a new show (like WB did with Batman Begins and The Batman), they greenlit a feature-length animated film in the style of Superman: The Animated Series. Let me tell you right now—the style is the only thing this film shares with its predecessor.

Fans on the message boards around the internet couldn't be more happy. A new Superman DTV? It was a dream come true; STAS was always suffering from "middle child" syndrome and was never given as much attention as its other DCAU siblings. With a DTV finally under his belt, he would be able to stand tall in the line up. At least that's what I, and many others, thought.

Word of the voice recasting came down. Powers Boothe as Lex Luthor, Lance Henrikson as Brainiac and the return of Tim Daly as Superman. As disappointed as we were about Lex and Brainiac being recast, Daly's returned was hailed by many. Many hadn't heard Daly voicing the Man of Steel since the STAS days (unless they picked up the video game for Playstation 2 and GameCube), so this would be a welcome return. I'm not going to deny Daly wasn't great to hear again, but the characters of Luthor, Brainiac and Mercy (now voiced by…wait for it…Tara Strong!) were completely and utterly ruined by these voice actors. That is not an exaggeration of any kind; anyone who finds a positive thing about any one of these performances in terms of what the characters once were...well, you're simply trying too hard to like the movie.

The plot of the film is simple. Luthor creates an orbiting satellite (the Lex 9000) to protect Earth from alien invaders, but when Brainiac comes by, the satellite fails to blast Brainiac down. A few minutes later, Brainiac, laughing and smiling, begins destroying the control station for the Lex 9000 and takes control of the satellite right as Superman shows up. This is also the point in time when we first hear Tim Daly's voice as Superman once again in animation and what is it we hear? "Time to log off!"

Brainiac continues to emote quite well for a heartless killing machine and begins to give Superman the beating of his life with the Lex 9000 laser beam (think Return of the Joker in terms of what this orbiting beam is doing). Lex and Mercy drive up and Luthor is grinning from ear to ear and sports some very rubbery, Looney Tunes animation. Enjoying seeing Superman getting beaten up so much, Luthor tells Mercy to make some popcorn; at this point in the film, I honestly expected the popcorn to show up, but it never does.

Superman eventually destroys Brainiac by using his ice breath ("Oooooo…Brain Freeze!" quips Luthor) and then rushes off to save a distressed Lois who is falling off of a radio tower she climbed to get a better look at Superman in action. More bad dialogue pops up ("You always catch me when I fall, Superman.") and we cut over to Luthor taking a remaining piece of Brainiac that will become a major part of the story later on.

Back at the Daily Planet, Lois is daydreaming about Superman and Jimmy Olson (sporting a hot, new haircut) is oogling the hundreds of images he took of Mercy Graves. Yes…in this film, Jimmy is infatuated with Mercy. At this point in the film I actually got up and shut it off. I was so utterly disgusted with it at this point I didn't want to watch anymore, but I knew I had to. I also knew I had to take images from the episode for the media page, so I decided to venture into the film once again in an attempt to get everything done at once so I didn't have to watch this ever again.

Lex reconstitutes Brainiac and allows him to take over the Lex 9000 in exchange for a deal. Brainiac destroys Superman and then leaves Earth; knowing that Brainiac is a tricky one, Luthor implants a self-destruct device in Brainiac (like that will work anyway) in case he goes back on the plan. Lex gives Brainiac some of Superman's DNA (which apparently came from Superman punching Brainiac so hard [Superman doesn't bleed, so where the hell it came from, I don't know]) and a piece of kryptonite to use when his new body is finished building itself. With these two items, Brainiac is able to track and hurt Superman like never before.

Back at the Kent farm in Smallville, Clark is moaning to his parents like a teenager about how much he loves Lois. Nearly quoting Peter Parker's entire pay phone conversation in Spider-Man 2, Clark talks about how he can't let Lois know his secret because his enemies might hurt her. For Spider-Man this made sense, but for Superman and Lois, it is quite possibly the stupidest reason. Lois has been getting herself nearly killed since before Superman showed up anyway.

Deciding to tell her at the urging of his parents ("We know your secret and we're all right!" Great reasoning, Ma), Clark sets out in a dialogue-less montage of clips of trying to tell Lois his secret and being interrupted by something (cell phone, Perry, explosion in the background). Eventually Lois and Clark are sent to dinner by Perry to critique a new restaurant and this is where Clark nearly tells her. We get a typical "Oh I think I know!" moment from Lois as Clark is silhouetted so his glasses are covered and only his jaw and frame remain lit. Clark attempts to tell her, but wusses out and then Brainiac, now in a new robo-body, comes in begins ripping the restaurant apart looking for Superman. Superman shows up and the fight begins; Lois runs to find Jimmy, but then realizes her cell phone can take images, so screw Jimmy, she'll just take the photos herself.

After being blasted by the Kryptonite-ray, Superman's eyes get all dark circled, so that means he's not feeling well now. Punching and fighting and…punching and fighting, the two battle through Metropolis until Lois gets hit by a stray Kryptonite ray, giving her dark circles under her eyes. Superman sees this, and admittedly in the only cool moment in the entire film, his eyes glow red and he gets the superpissed look about him. He tears Brainiac apart and then goes back to take Lois to the hospital, where it's revealed she's dying from the kryptonite poisoning.

Brainiac goes to repair himself and Superman runs to the Fortress of Solitude. This fortress is completely different looking from the one in the animated series and is more akin to the one seen in the Reeves films and Smallville. Superman sits in his high chair and consults his Kryptonian database for knowledge on how to cure Lois. The Kryptonian computer then reveals to Superman that the only cure is in the center of the Phantom Zone (what the---?!) and that it is full of danger that Clark can and can't see.

Cut out to the exterior of the Fortress and we see Brainiac is back and ready to kill Superman again. After a scuffle that destroys the Fortress, Superman jumps into the Phantom Zone which tricks Brainiac into thinking that he killed the Man of Steel.

Superman travels through what can only be described as some kind of acid trip. There is nothing in this Phantom Zone that looks a thing like other Phantom Zones (either animated or in film), although we do see a familiar Zone creature from "Blasts from the Past, Part 1." This creature is slightly remodeled and a different color, but shares most of the same characteristics as the red one we see in "Blasts."

Defeating this creature, Superman travels to the center of the Phantom Zone to a magical, golden fountain of this weird ass cure that's going to heal him and Lois. Immediately, Superman looks better and he gets a vial of this stuff for Lois to take back.

Back in the real world, Lex is celebrating the death of Superman with a Tiki Torch Luau. Brainiac comes to terrorize Metropolis once again and Lex takes this opportunity to become the new Man of Steel with a new Lex-o-suit he has created. While Lex thinks this is still part of their plan, Brainiac soon gives Lex the beating of his life and here we find out that the self-destruct button no longer works, as Brainiac found it and deactivated it.

Cut to the hospital where Superman is giving Lois her treatment, Lois wakes up and feels great. Opening her groggy eyes, she sees Superman weakly moans "…Clark?" to which Superman replies "Yes. Yes, Lois." We get more ushy-gushy crap from the two and then they move outside of the hospital to take Lois home so that she and Clark can start their new life together. Clark sees that Brainiac is attacking Metropolis again and knows he must go stop him, but Lois balks and says that if Brainiac doesn't know that he is still alive, he can't hurt them. After recommending letting the "Green Lantern guy" to handle the situation, Clark smells something fishy about this scenario. Oh wait, we're not out of the Phantom Zone yet! Clark's been tricked by the phantoms in the Phantom Zone (…seriously?) and after a Constantine rip-off of the phantoms climbing up his body, Superman returns to earth with the real antidote.

As soon as he arrives back, he sees Brainiac attacking and decides to go stop him before giving Lois the cure (despite being right next to the damn hospital, it would have taken him about five seconds). This is where we enter the incredibly annoying and long final fight, which seemed to go on forever. If you thought the previous fight between the two was long, this one was about eight times the length. After Lex in his Lex-o-suit has been stopped from exploding by Superman, Lex and Superman are on top of each other (how and why are they on top of each other?). At this moment, Lex says the stupidest damn thing I've heard out of this entire film: "Rootin' for ya, my maaan!"

At this point I nearly started crying, but the fight continued on so I had to keep watching. I started to get glossy eyed towards the end, but a giant, resonating boom snapped me out of it. Brainiac was finally dead!

Superman runs back to the hospital to cure Lois and right as he's about to give her the antidote, Brainiac comes back and crushes the anti-dote, spilling it all over the floor. Superman gets angry again and beats Braianiac to death with a car. Running back to the hospital room, the doctor declares that Lois is dying (though technically dead, they couldn't say she was dead I don't think). Superman begins to cry and then kisses Lois on the lips. While this is going on, Superman starts glowing orange (the color of that antidote) and Lois gets all better. At this point in time, I was laughing hysterically. Soon, this film would be over.

Deciding to quit the Daily Planet so he wouldn't put Lois in harms way anymore, Clark is about to tell Perry of his resignation right as Perry gets a phone cal. Mr. Mxyzptlk is causing chaos at the docks. Lois jumps out of her wheel chair, throws off her hospital gown (underneath she's wearing her blue jacket, skirt and high heels already, which really didn't bother me, since at this point I long since stopped caring about this stupid movie) and gets in a taxi to go cover it. Clark has an epiphany that as long as Lois lives, she'll be in danger anyway, so it's A-OK for him to stick around! He runs off to the docks to stop Mxy and the film fades out.

What a pile of horse crap that was.

I wish I could say all of what you just read was fiction. It honest to God wasn't. It really is as bad as I make it out to be...hell probably worse. At this point I just want to stop thinking about it. The once cold Brainiac is now expressing his emotions like Data in Star Trek, Lex is flailing his arms around like a six year old and Mercy is now a blonde who giggles like Marilyn Monroe.

The only positive was the sometimes enjoyable animation. The first fight between Superman and Brainiac was actually pretty enjoyable to watch with the excessive explosions and Superman getting thrown all around the place. The Looney Tunes expressions on the characters faces really killed a lot of the film though. That and Mercy's blonde hair would randomly become brown in scenes; at first I thought it was the lighting, but there were times it clearly was brown.

For anyone reading this and thinking I was too hard on the film, keep in mind I have nothing but respect for the team who worked on this. Curt Geda is an excellent director and Duane Capizzi is a great writer; this film was just an unfortunate incident that had to happen due to the Superman maelstrom that we're going to experience this summer. It is completely clear this film wasn't made for anyone but children and for a quick buck to hype Superman Returns.

Between the rubbery animation, shoddy voice recasting and horrible, horrible, horrible story, I am warning all fans of Superman: The Animated Series to stay far away from this film. I realize I say the same about Mystery of the Batwoman, but in retrospect…Batwoman was about nine thousand times better than Brainiac Attacks.

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