1988 Written by Glenn Leopold
Directed by Charles A. Nichols and Ray Patterson (supervising)
I know what you are thinking. What does Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School have to do with Godzilla? Well, stick with me, dear reader, and you shall see that this is a fitting member of March of Godzilla 2019! Before we get to that, we got to get to just what the heck Scooby-Doo mystery we’ve gotten TarsTarkas.NET caught up in! Back in the day (the 1980s), Hannah-Barbera made a series of 10 animated films packaged for syndication starring some of their strongest brands, it was called the Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10 series. Scooby-Doo And The Ghoul School is the eighth film in the series and the second of three Scooby-Doo features. All of them feature actual supernatural creatures instead of guys in masks scaring away people from abandoned theme parks to cover their crimes, which paint them closer to the then-current 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo series. Further cementing the connection, Shaggy is depicted here in a red shirt like he was in that series, and the entire group is just Shaggy, Scooby, and Scrappy-Doo.
Shaggy, Scooby-Doo, and Scrappy-Doo are driving on a dark and stormy night. Wait a second…
It was a dark and stormy night. Shaggy, Scooby-Doo, and Scrappy-Doo we driving to their new job as gym teachers at a Girl’s school. Normally I’d guess they don’t do background checks and just hire anyone, but as the school turns out to be full of monsters they must have hired the only applicant.
Miss Grimwood’s Finishing School for Girls, but the “Girls” is perpetually replaced by spray-painted “Ghouls”. Miss Grimwood is a typical fussy boarding school headmistress except for the fact she is a witch and thus does witch stuff. She’s assisted mainly by a floating hand and her small pet dragon Matches. There is also an octopus butler who I don’t think is ever named. Most importantly, there is a two headed shark that lives in the moat outside the school! Scooby-Doo beat The Asylum to the punch by decades! A running gag in the film is all the food at the Ghoul School is gross and spooky (thus Shaggy and Scooby can’t pig out at all in this movie!), and much of it is cooked by Miss Grimwood. We got a whole garden of rotten fruit, fungus fudge, toadstool tea, poison ivy punch, caterpillar cookies, and swamp brownies (made from swamp water and mosquitoes!) Continue reading →
2019 Written by James Krieg and Tim Sheridan
Directed by Sam Liu
Six months later….
Superman is dead, but since he’s also Jesus you know he’s got to come back to life. But if you also followed the comics, you know there was no way they’d let you off the hook that easily! As there were 4 concurrent Superman comic series, 4 pretenders to the throne emerged, one in each book, each out to be the new Superman. Sort of. Steel (John Henry Irons) wasn’t out to replace Superman, he was inspired by Superman to become a hero himself and go after the weapons he designed that were let loose on the streets. So he build himself a metal outfit, became the Man of Steel, and got to work. Superboy was a clone of Superman, aged to teen years so he could use the name from the Superboy comics, but with cool 90s sunglasses and a leather jacket. Eradicator and Cyborg Superman are different in that they were way less clear as to their origins or how seriously they were pretending to be Superman. As these stories are decades old, it isn’t a spoiler to reveal Eradicator was a computer program while Cyborg Superman was evil (He nuked Coast City! Then some dumb stuff happened and then they rebuilt it….) Eventually Superman comes back and saves the day. As a primarily Marvel reader, when all the Death of Superman/Funeral for a Friend/Reign of the Supermen stuff was going on, I actually read and enjoyed DC comics. Before then I didn’t really make any special effort, but these were good enough to keep me hooked.
This story follows many of the same beats, but is remixed and streamlined. There are still four pretenders running around, but Superboy is now a clone created by Lex Luthor in an attempt to brand Superman as his own property (he’s even launched as Superman, the launch party descending into chaos as the Eradicator shows up to fight Superboy for daring to declare himself the real Superman, and Steel popping up to try to stop the fighting (as John Irons was nearby investigating Luthor for his own reasons) Steel seems more Iron Man inspired, though to be fair the biggest interpretation of him prior was Shaq’s film. Continue reading →
2018 Written by Peter Tomasi
Directed by Jake Castorena and Sam Liu
Superman is know for two things: Super powers and dying. Okay, that’s a vast oversimplification, but Superman does die a lot, and here he dies again, in animated form. But wait, didn’t they already do a Death of Superman animated movie? Why, yes, they did! It was one of the first animated DC movies (and it was quite bland!) This redo is more than just a remake, it’s incorporating multiple prior films that form a loose continuity while also flowing into the later parts of the story (Reign of the Supermen), all while updating and modifying where necessary. Sliced out is a lot of the embarrassing 90s stuff and unimportant plot elements (though the bigger changes are in the sequel!) In their place is story that makes Superman more human and necessary for humanity, right before the biggest threat appears that we all know is about to snatch him away.
One of the themes of the live-action films is if the world even needs a Superman. It’s the story Lois wrote in Superman Returns, it was one of the reasons Clark tried to hide his power and later is investigated by the government in the Snyder movies (yes those films are far more complicated than that, say with me here…) There is even shades of it here, with astronaut Hank Henshaw convinced Superman will save them when there is a problem in space (spoiler alert: he doesn’t!) But all those points become moot when a giant guy starts smashing his way through major cities and your heroes fall before him. The world needs people who can stand up to evil. Continue reading →
Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
2017 Written by Gene Grillo (and the original screenplay by Roald Dahl)
Based on the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Directed by Spike Brandt
Remember when a poor young boy found a magical golden ticket and embarked on a candy adventure? Also a cat and a mouse were wandering around? That sounds vaguely familiar thanks to the power of franchise mashups! Everyone’s favorite cat and mouse team that isn’t named Itchy and Scratchy are back again to get int hijinks that keep ensuing no matter how hard they try to un-ensue them. And Willy Wonka is there. No, this is not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! Yes, we’re literally in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, complete with the songs and the look and the costumes and the deviations from the book that the movie choose to do (such as the Everlasting Gobstopper test!) This isn’t even the first time Tom and Jerry have done this, they were running around in a remake of 1939’s The Wizard of Oz a few years back (and that movie got it’s own sequel!!)
This is the future of film. It’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe brought to a whole new level (even as the MCU borrows from the Universal Monsters and Godzilla movies that did it first), except now entire franchises are sandwiched together in a powerhouse of corporate synergy. Expect far more of this in the future, especially once someone at Disney decides the different brands should be more than just cameos in Wreck-It Ralph movies and has Luke Skywalker fight Iron Man. Other notable (and less so) examples include The Lego Movie, various Cartoon Network versions of WB shows, and the legion of parody movies such as The Hungover Games, which get an additional boost of being able to skirt around the edges of different IPs, which weirdly makes them the most accurate version of this type of fanfic in production format (too bad they are almost universally terrible!) But enough of talk of things not this particular film… Continue reading →
aka ニンジャバットマン 2018 Written by Kazuki Nakashima
English version written by Leo Chu and Eric S. Garcia
Directed by Junpei Mizusaki Batman Ninja, what the heck? You could have been so good, but you are just a beautiful mess that spends too much time being boring before getting to the good stuff. We are now in the reality where a film involving Batman villains piloting a giant combining mech is boring. This is truly the darkest timeline! Batman Ninja has two versions, one in Japanese with English subtitles, and one with an English dub. The English version has a bunch of extra dialogue not in the Japanese version (but since the original subtitles are just a transcript of the English version, there are subtitles that display when no character is speaking, and when they do talk some of what they say is different!) Most of the extra dialogue is just expository and explains things that are readily obvious to anyone paying the slightest attention.
Noted Batman villain Gorilla Grodd (wait, what???) builds a time machine device at Arkham Asylum and suddenly all the criminals of Gotham City are blasted to the past of ancient Japan. Batman soon pops up there as well, but what was seconds between jumps in his time turns out to be two years after the rest of the criminals arrived, and now Joker is a lord who controls a stable of samurai who wear his visage as masks. The rest of the criminals have also ran wild. It’s the warring states period and we get a bit of a history lesson as Catwoman explains to Batman which criminals are in charge of which states in their quests to unify Japan. Don’t worry, Alfred and the Batmobile are also back in time (okay, at this point things are so bonkers why didn’t they just make this an Elseworlds-style story set in Japan instead of this time travel stuff? At least with that we could get right to the story and have less setup!) Continue reading →
2018 Written by Jim Krieg
Based on the graphic novel Gotham by Gaslight written by Brian Augustyn
Directed by Sam Liu
Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of 1880s Gotham City. As the murders pile up, the police are helpless to stop them. But there is a Batman in this world…
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is based on one of the original alternate reality tales that would eventually become the Elseworlds brand at DC, though the story has been altered to better reflect the animated movie format and some modern sensibilities. Overall, we get something that feels closer to what would be produced from the 90s animated series than what some of the recent DC animated films have come out with. That’s a good thing, as the series is a high-water mark that all too often these films are unable to attain, despite some notable exceptions.
Gotham is easily transformed in style to a 19th century British city, it is sort of interesting how easily the pieces slide together. Bruce Wayne is still a rich playboy, but he also has connection to his orphan roots via Sister Leslie and her orphanage. This gives him another connection to the victims of the killer, as they are largely poorer women, some of which have gone through the same orphanage. Public outcry is muted because the victims are largely lower class women (mostly prostitutes), but actress Selina Kyle’s voice is one of the loudest to try to get the police to do anything. They are limited by the investigative tools of the time and by distractions of a World’s Fair preparation. An element not really used from historical accounts is the press whipping this up into a frenzy, besides deserted streets there is often nothing really indicating people are afraid (and the deserted streets might just be saving some animation budget!) The police presence is also lacking until it factors into the plot, at which point there are more police than grains of sand on the beach. Continue reading →