Posts tagged "Batmania"

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (Review)

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Justice League Flashpoint Paradox
2013
Written by James Krieg
Based on Flashpoint by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert
Directed by Jay Oliva

Justice League Flashpoint Paradox
Flashpoint became the even that subsequently rebooted the DC universe into The New 52!, as the covers say. Basically, everything got rebooted, and was done so with less of a notice than you would like to wrap up storylines in dozens of comic books. This resulted in some things being a bit more rebooted than others, but all that continuity you knew and loved was once again thrown out the window by the latest DC reboot. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox doesn’t get into the continuity situation (except a brief costume change at the end), but deals with the storyline that causes it, leaving the actual fallout for the eventual sequels like Justice League: War. It lacks the excitement and fun of some of the animated DC flicks, though does have a few bright points to offer.

Flash is a character that, like Batman, is overshadowed by his villains. I say this not because I don’t really care for Flash, but because I find the dynamics of his villains far more interesting. Captain Cold and the Rogues are a cool team dynamic, working together for profit while avoiding excess casualties, even if they occasionally get sucked into more bloody affairs simply because they walk in the criminal underworld. Flash is potentially one of the most powerful heroes on the planet, and they regularly do battle with him. They even fight against other super-villain teams that try to control them. However, Professor Zoom/Reverse Flash/Eobard Thawne is simply an Evil Flash from the future who is a jerk. Sadly, the tale here turns the Rogues into petty thugs easily tricked by Professor Zoom, who then orchestrates manipulating Flash into altering history and continues to taunt Flash even as the future Professor Zoom comes from ceases to exist. C. Thomas Howell puts in a good performance letting the creepy sociopath shine through, but he’s stuck with what is there in the script to deliver, and Professor Zoom never becomes a classic villain.
Justice League Flashpoint Paradox
The biggest problem with Flashpoint is that it was never really that good to begin with. The series wasn’t terrible, but it never really turned into a classic story that will survived through the ages. The only real continual allure is the alternate reality itself, and even some of that is a bit corny. We already had alternate versions of the Justice League members not that long ago with Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, and despite the limited screen times, many of those characters felt more developed than the inhabitants of the Flashpoint world.

The fact the event was used to justify the rebooting of all of DC continuity makes it a lightning point of controversy, as some of the rebooting caused arguments of their own (Superman’s marriage went kaput, many dead characters sprung back to life, a few established female characters suddenly became giant slores) in addition to the general idea of everything getting reset yet again in DC. One theory was the resetting was a ploy to gain new readers, though if that was true, it didn’t seem to pan out too well, but much digital ink was spilt as various factions argued throughout the internet.
Justice League Flashpoint Paradox
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - November 20, 2014 at 7:08 am

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Justice League: Doom (Review)

Justice League: Doom

Justice League Doom
2012
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Based on JLA: Tower of Babel by Mark Waid
Directed by Lauren Montgomery

Justice League Doom cheetah
The Justice League is under attack, except this time it’s by one of their own! Okay, not really by one of their own, but by the very plans Batman developed to deal with members of the Justice League.

Justice League: Doom is based loosely on the JLA: Tower of Babel storyline by Mark Waid, Justice League: Doom changes things up enough to be a different take while providing a nice adaptation of the overall themes. The main villain is changed (from Ra’s al Ghul to Vangal Savage) and some of the Justice League’s lineup is different, but the feelings of betrayal by a paranoid Batman remain.

Doom is not direct sequel to Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, but follows it with very similar character designs and voices. Many of the DC Animated films are their own shards of a loose continuity that exists purely to tell that exact tale. It’s a perfectly fine way to operate, allowing the general mythology of the heroes to exist and leaving toom for the specifics needed to make the stories work and be unique. The return of many of the familiar voice actors helps sell the loose familiarity and provides a comfort to longtime fans so they aren’t put off by Batman sounding weird or something.
Justice League Doom space station
Justice League: Doom is one of the better DC Animated films, dividing enough characterization between the different members to give each of them their own take, while still keeping a focus on Batman. Switching the villain to Vandal Savage helps push a more minor villain into focus and provides an excuse to make the full range of the plans make more sense than eliminating reading and talking.
Justice League Doom mirror master
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - November 17, 2014 at 7:48 am

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Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (Review)

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Justice League Crisis on Two Earths
2010
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Directed by Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery

Justice League Crisis on Two Earths
A popular science fiction trope is heroes who are evil, villains who are good. From alternate universe to just same universe doubles, this phenomenon appears again and again, often involving goatees. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths continues the tradition, by utilizing the long-lived Crime Syndicate that has survived several decades of DC comics reboots and remixes. Instead of getting caught up in having characters face their dark side, the evil twins are just the setting for a tale of good versus evil that accelerates into the ultimate stakes, thanks to Owlman’s secret plan.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is an Easter egg hunter’s dream. There are so many alternate versions of DC Comics characters that you need a flow chart to figure them all out. Add to that several of them being not only evil mirrors, but references to other non-comic characters and you will spend each viewing discovering something new. It’s one of the better DC animated films, getting the characters correct The setting in the alternate Earth allows for much more crazy stuff
Justice League Crisis on Two Earths
We open with Lex Luthor and the Joker breaking into a secure vault. But hey, Joker is called Jester, and the two are breaking into the vault of murderous criminals. One sacrifice later, and Lex Luthor is the only hero left in a world of villains. So he warps away to our world (I’ll be referring to the DC Universe as our world, because it’s just easier), with is stuffed full of heroes like an overripe pinata.

On their planet, the Crime Syndicate is free to do whatever they want, due to a combination of fear and bribes. They only don’t kill the leaders and take over the planet due to fears of retaliatory nuclear strikes. But they’re working on their own bomb that can potentially destroy anywhere on the planet, which will tip the balance in their favor. Only a few brave souls stand up to them, as most who try don’t live to stand again.
Justice League Crisis on Two Earths
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - August 13, 2014 at 7:33 am

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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (Review)

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2
2013
Based on the comic book by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson
Written by Bob Goodman
Characters created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, and John Sikela
Directed by Jay Oliva

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2
When last we left the Dark Knight, he had returned, and so had a lot of problems. Both an immediate threat and a looming menace have been defeated, and now things need mopping up. But new dangers lurk in the shadows, preparing to strike. And Batman’s activities have gained the attention of powerful people, who aren’t fans of things happening outside their control. The Dark Knight Returns continues with Part 2, covering issues #3 and 4 of the comic series. Fair warning, we pretty much go over every detail of the movie and comic, so SPOILERS!

The Joker has awakened from his catatonic state, for without the Batman around, there was no meaning in his life. Now he is infused with revitalized purpose, and the doctors at Arkham Asylum have taken a break from appearing on television to blame Batman for everything to praise Joker for the breakthroughs he’s accomplished. They feel the Joker has genuine remorse for his crimes. The manipulation here is more forced and too brief, in the comics Joker awakens earlier and we see him develop through a few scenes instead of jumping to the point. Though it does highlight the incompetent doctors by making them more incompetent. Joker is playing them like a fiddle, but he does manage to get them to agree to have him appear on a television show: The David Endocrine Show (a take on David Letterman, here voiced by excellent stunt casting with Conan O’Brien!) Batman immediately knows that Joker is planning to kill everyone. And he’s right.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2
The Mutants have splintered in the wake of their leader’s defeat and humiliation. Some have taken up the mantle of Batman and viciously attack criminals in the streets. Others have formed more smaller gangs run by strongmen, or strongwomen, in the case of the Bruno gang. Bruno being a rather muscular woman who runs around without a shirt and only red paint Nazi swastikas covering her breasts. She’s referred to as Joker’s girl (this was pre-Harley Quinn), and she’s Batman’s next target as he tries to figure out what Joker is up to.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2
The cops are now lead by the new Commissioner Yindel, whose first act was to call for Batman’s arrest. They are guarding the roof of the studio with a massive force. The battle will be futile, the cops are well armed enough that despite all of Batman’s skills and tricks, there are just too many of them with too much force that he can’t get through. He’s saved by Carrie as she flies the Batcopter in close to pick him up. By then it is too late, everyone in the studio is dead and the Joker is free.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 23, 2014 at 7:45 am

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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (Review)

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1
2012
Based on the comic book by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson
Written by Bob Goodman
Characters created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, and John Sikela
Directed by Jay Oliva

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1
The Dark Knight Returns is one of those comics that literally changed everything. With four issues, Batman was transformed as a character from the 1960s camp into a gritty dark hero that echoed parts of the original tales. It became one of the main influences of the Tim Burton Batman film, which further popularized the darker, more serious Batman that survives to this day in how the character is interpreted. The comic series is considered one of the best comics of all time. Fair warning, we pretty much go over every detail of the movie and comic, so SPOILERS!

With how high of a regard The Dark Knight Returns is held, it is only natural that there would be a cartoon movie adaption of it at some point. It became a thing both anticipated and feared (especially after a brief bit was used in an episode of The New Batman Adventures), and was finally announced as a two-parter DC animated movie. As the DC Animated films are hit or miss, there is always room to worry. Miller’s other work Batman: Year One had been successfully adapted in 2011, sticking closely to the comic (almost too closely), and DKR follows the same pattern, following the original story, even being split into two films to better incorporate it all.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1
The series is four separate stories that are part of a larger tale, the stories divided into the two films (with bits shoved both ways to make things flow better). This structure works better in comic format, but leaves DKR Part 1 feeling a bit anticlimactic, especially with the teaser that comes much earlier in the comics.

Let’s focus more now on how things are in the comic/movies for The Dark Knight Returns and less on whatever nutty thing Frank Miller has said or published recently. The Dark Knight Returns becomes a snapshot into the values of Frank Miller at the time of publication, and events that happen subsequent to the production of the comic have no bearing on how the comic was created, though they have the same ultimate origins.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1
DKR is less of a fascist tale and more of a skewering of those that have power. Organized institutions are represented at weak and buffoonish, and all sides of the political spectrum are skewered via the constant media commentary. The television news framing devices is one of the most brilliant parts of The Dark Knight Returns, actually preceding the 24 hour news cycle, but still capturing the highs and lows of idiotic news programming. The Mayor of Gotham is a endless stream of no actions ever, constantly diverting questions on issues by saying he’s still weighing opinions. He literally only makes one real decision in the entire film, and it proves to be a fatally stupid one. He’s replaced by a mayor just as spineless, but thinner, showing that the new mayor can at least make a decision to skip the extra slice of cake.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 21, 2014 at 7:44 am

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The Lego Movie (Review)

The Lego Movie

Lego Movie
2014
Story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Screenplay by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller
Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

Lego Movie
The Lego Movie constantly refrains the song “Everything is Awesome!” throughout the film, and though the song is presented as a joke because things aren’t awesome, it best describes The Lego Movie. Because everything is awesome. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller took a toy commercial and traditional hero’s journey narrative and turned it into a celebration of tossing out instructions and a collectivist uniting against conformity and conservatism. Also it’s fun and hilarious.

The unlikely group of heroes unite against President Business, who controls the entire world and wants things to stay just the way they are. He gets incensed when things are built that don’t follow the rules or are weird. His reign has seen the Lego city become a virtual police state where everyone follows a huge list of rules and destroys anything out of the ordinary to be replaced with construction that follows the rules. The people are lulled into accepting their reality with glee, thanks to control of television and music, where every show is Where’s My Pants? and every song is the aforementioned “Everything is Awesome!”
Lego Movie
The resistance becomes a celebration of individuality vs marching to the same drum beat. The Lego Movie encourages you to build what you want, and not worry about if your projects conflict with what someone expects you to do. While President Business seeks his stagnant perfection, the real progress and fun comes from the chaos of creation.
Lego Movie

Emmet Brickowoski (Chris Pratt) – Emmet is the most average man who ever averaged, and even when he follows all the rules (and there are a lot of rules), no one seems to remember him much at all. But things change when suddenly the Piece of Resistance is stuck to his back, and it looks like he has a prophesy to fulfill. If he can just be interesting!
Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) – A Master Builder who searches for the Piece of Resistance and finds it on Emmet. She mistakenly thinks he’s much more powerful than he actually is. But despite her disappointment, she becomes part of the inspiration for Emmet to rise up beyond his lot in life. Is dating Batman.
Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) – Wise sage who prophesies the downfall of Lord Business and the Piece of Resistance. He’s blinded, and later begins training Emmet, though there is little time for actual training. Has trouble telling Gandalf and Dumbledore apart.
Batman (Will Arnett) – The best movie Batman since Adam West. The caped crusader joins the mission to save the universe because he’s Batman and that’s what Batman does. He’s dark. Also he’s dating Wyldstyle, in between making his music. FYI, people in the audience cheered when Batman showed up.
Lord/President Business (Will Ferrell) – Lord Business is President of the Lego city and controls all aspects of it, in a creepy Big Brother way. He’s also a super villain, who has stolen an artifact that he plans to use to end the world (which involves freezing it in place.) That is, unless he’s stopped by The Piece of Resistance!

Lego Movie
Minor spoilers below the fold!
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 1, 2014 at 11:51 pm

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