2017 Story by J.M. DeMatteis and Ernie Altbacker
Screenplay by Ernie Altbacker
Directed by Jay Oliva
The animated world is in danger once again (stupid world, stop being in danger!) and only the Justice League can save them. No, not the normal Justice League, this is Justice League Dark! And Batman for some reason. That reason is money. Keep in mind this is Justice League Dark, not Justice League After Dark, that’s the porn version debuting on Cinemax next year! Just kidding. Or am I? Yes.
Now let’s get to an actual review and not string of consciousness awful jokes. Justice League Dark follows the loose continuity the animated films have had since they got rebooted with Flashpoint/Justice League: War, including voices (and Matt Ryan from the Constantine tv series voices John Constantine here!) This time the team isn’t able to handle the threat, as the threat is supernatural in nature, so we need a different kind of hero. Supernatural heroes for a supernatural threat. Mainly John Constantine (of Keanu Reeves movie fame) and Zatanna, the magician lady I’m vaguely familiar with. There are others heroes like Deadman, who I hadn’t really known much about, but a ghost as a super hero does make a certain amount of sense. Maybe Casper should stop being so friendly and start taking down crime syndicates! This time, the ghosts are busting YOU!
I enjoyed the change of focus of heroes despite Batman being included so he could grunt every time something spooky happens. (And he does, Gotham City must be showing a lot of Home Improvement reruns) Usually movies like this have a regular guy character who all the characters that are steeped into the universe can explain things too (and thus explain to the audience!), but as Batman already knows a lot of things, he doesn’t really fit that well in the role. Continue reading →
2010 Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Directed by Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery
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
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. Continue reading →
1995 Written by Tedi Sarafian, Alan Martin, and Jamie Hewlett
Directed by Rachel Talalay
1995 was a banner year for British comics to be converted into big budget American films that did awful at the box office. Both Judge Dredd and Tank Girl came and went with only critical and financial failure to remember them by (Tank Girl also succeeded in bringing down the publisher that originated the comics!) Sometimes films don’t find their audience until years later. Tank Girl‘s energy, charisma, and throw everything at the wall style of film making is perfect for modern audiences raised in an era of ADD entertainment.
Tank Girl is a film filled with energy. It constantly races from scene to scene, rarely stopping to catch a breath, and skipping from genre to genre. Elements of action, comedy, animation, and horror collide. At one point there is even a big musical number! Tank Girl features action sequences that are loaded with gags, and seems well aware at how ridiculous it is. If anything, Tank Girl revels in it’s unseriousness, joyfully becoming a live action cartoon that flies in the face of modern “dark and gritty” takes on comic characters. Tank Girl herself is a wise-cracking punk rocker, who has never met an authority figure she hasn’t rebelled against. Tank Girl first appeared in print in the magazine Deadline, the strip a creation of Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin. Tank Girl soon became popular with counter-culture movements, outstripping the popularity of Deadline and resulting in the publication of collected works, which drew in more fans. Hewlett and Martin sold the rights to make a film thinking the worst that could happen was a campy film. Deadline leveraged itself heavily into the success of the Tank Girl film (which led to the magazine’s demise when the movie failed!) Hewlett and Martin were barely consulted while the film was in production, became annoyed at the studio suits debating on what cool was, and then were called in at the last minute by Rachel Talalay to help salvage the film by providing a bunch of drawings to use as interstitials. Jamie Hewlett would go on to co-create the music group Gorillaz with Damon Albarn, while Alan Martin eventually wrote more Tank Girl stories. Both creators are still sore over their experiences.
The cult audience of Tank Girl extended to Rachel Talalay, at the time best know for producing several John Waters pictures. She helped push a film adaptation as “the ultimate grrrrl movie.” As the studio suits were almost exclusively older men, heads were butted from before the film lensed to through painful focus group after focus group. The increasingly desperate shooting schedule (suffering from being behind schedule) resulted in additional compromises, and the major edits both enhanced the manic weird energy and were obvious rewrites with desperate bridging animation/artwork that only added confusion. Continue reading →
2012 Written by Alex Garland
Based on characters created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra
Directed by Pete Travis
If I hadn’t seen Eega, Dredd would be my favorite flick of 2012. Which not only surprised me, but surprised everyone who saw Dredd, from the small amount of people who saw it in theaters, to the increasingly loud amount of people just now discovering it on DVD. Dredd is awesome, a solid action vehicle that builds a believable world without drowning you in lots of back story.
It’s sad that I knew Dredd would fail at the box office before it was even released, the scars of Stallone’s Judge Dredd is still too fresh in the minds of the American public, a public that has zero knowledge of the comic inspiration. But Dredd is having a second life, bolstered by loud supporters and a shocked new audience that is keeping Dredd on the top of the rental and sales charts.
Dredd succeeds because of many reasons. By keeping the action largely confined to a single mega-block, it allows for saving on huge set costs and makes the action close and personal. The fighting becomes desperate as the characters are trapped. Dredd‘s score by Paul Leonard-Morgan is among my favorite scores, and is the first film album I’ve gotten in years. The operatic Slo-Mo segments based on a slowed down Justin Bieber song contrast wonderfully with the heavy-synth action tracks.
The integration of bullet-time 3D via the drug Slo-Mo is a creative way to put Matrix action into a film and make it feel natural, the first time since the Matrix movies where the slow-motion feels like it belongs and isn’t shoehorned in because some producer wanted to ape the Wachowskis.
Olivia Thirlby’s Anderson is not your typical female action sidekick. Though in training, she’s an equal partner. Even though at some point she’s taken prisoner, she doesn’t just sit back and wait for Dredd to rescue her. She’s in control, she rescues herself, and she even saves Dredd. Anderson stays in power while going through the minds of awful people who think awful things, getting what she wants while not leaving any marks (well, not marks you can see.) It’s an equality seldom seen in today’s action epics, and painfully missed. Even Rakie Ayola’s Chief Judge seems natural, she has a respect for Dredd as the best street judge, but also firmly gives him orders.
Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) – The best judge in Mega-City One and a man who never needs backup. His pursuit of justice and punishment for those that break the law is his driving force and life. A lot of chin acting going on for Karl here.
Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) – New judge on her first day for evaluation. Due to her psychic ability, has a special dispensation to become a judge despite failing her exams. A mutant who doesn’t wear a helmet so her abilities aren’t interfered with.
Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) – Former bad girl gone badder, with a thing for ultra-violence. Brutally takes over Peach Trees with a pile of dead bodies and spend bullets.
Kay (Wood Harris) – Drug pusher whose attempts to be cruel to his competition cause the Judges’ interest in Peach Trees and the eventual trouble that ensues when he’s captured.
Clan Techie (Domhnall Gleeson) – He doesn’t even get a name, but this Seth Green on meth guy with bionic eyes is Ma-Ma’s best helper, realizing her control over the systems of Peach Trees all while narrowly avoiding her doing horrible harm to his body.
[adrotate banner=”7″]More robot action! Robots fighting people all over the solar system. And based on a graphic novel! But I bet no robot will be peeing on a dude. Maybe we will get a better Terminator 4. Variety sez:
[Jerry Bruckheimer] has snapped up feature rights to the graphic novel “World War Robot” from IDW Publishing.
Story, penned by Ashley Wood and recounted in war-diary form by participants on both sides, centers on a small band of humans and robots facing off in a battle on Earth, the moon and Mars.
2006 Directed by Ishii Yoshikazu Written by Sato Midori and Yamamoto Norihisa
Three sexy Japanese girls with guns and leather costumes kill a bunch of people. You’d think that would make a good film, and you’d be wrong! I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to squeeze almost the entire life out of a picture that should have been fun and over the top. Instead, it is a constant bore, more depressing than a kitten with AIDS, and somehow manages to make the brisk 70 minute running time feel like four hours. The general plot is some sort of f-ed up version of Charlie’s Angels, except they just kill people and sit around in various vaguely sexual poses with the Bosley character. Yeah.
One major problem is the entire characterization effort is put into depressing voiceovers while shots of the character looking glazed over, bored, and brain dead are on screen. The ramblings of the actresses would have been rejected on even the crappiest LiveJournal pages, their introspection flatter than a piece of paper. None of the characters have any real motivations or personalities, and much acting consists of staring forward or remaining completely still. We don’t know anything about the girls when the movie starts, and by the end, we still don’t know anything. Take a counter example, the movie Yo-Yo Girl Cop where we get actual characterization by the actresses acting and not doing voiceovers, actual backstories for the characters, and even a peppy soundtrack (which is still neat if you discount the songs by the actresses and just focus on the theme.) The theme here sounds like it was ripped from an experimental German black and white film from the 1950’s that has a gong banging every ten seconds or so. Not something that people will be humming in the car.
Shiori (Yoko Mitsuya) – The leader/head assassin of team Cool Dimension. For some reason wears red leather as opposed to black. Has the special ability to avoid gunshots if she completes a back flip. Yoko Mitsuya is a former child model turned actress. Shot in the back.
Mika (Mitsuho Otani) – The lesbian member of team Cool Dimension. But not lesbian enough for it to be interesting. In fact, she may not be a lesbian but just a victim of bad writing. Killed by a bunch of rival female assassins brought in by Junko.
Junko (Mika Shigeizumi) – Crazy evil member of team Cool Dimension. Why is she evil? Why not, she just is. Mika Shigeizumi must have had eyelid surgery, giving her eyes some bug-eyed look that enhances her character’s supposed insanity. The best acting in the film was done by surgery she had years earlier. Killed by Shiori.
Kurokawa (Kenichi Endo) – The Bosley character to his trio of creepy angels, Kurokawa spends most of the film in various disturbing still-life embraces with one to all of his charges. He sets off an aura of creepiness, and that was before I recognized him from Visitor Q. No dead body sex here, but Kenichi Endo is a regular fixture in Takashi Miike films.
Charlie (CGI/??? Voice) – I guess his name is Charlie, they never give it, but he gives the orders to the teams and organizes the assassination missions for the Cool Dimension team. Maybe he is Mr. Cool, or Mr. Dimension. Beside a brief appearance in the beginning, he never factors in again and is completely forgotten. It’s just that kind of movie to not bother with explaining anything.
Haruki Muraoka – Target of the group, wife was killed by corrupt politician Mr. Tsuyama ten years prior, and his daughter was injured and hidden. Killed by Junko.