Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

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One of the darkest chapters in Batman lore has received its very own adaptation from DC’s famed and often celebrated animation line. But does The Killing Joke live up to previous classic Bat-animations like Mask of the Phantasm, and the more recent Dark Knight Returns?

Seeing how this is a classic Batman-Joker story, with classic Batman and Joker voice actors, what could possibly go wrong? Right? That’s how I went into this one anyway. Unfortunately, my high expectations left me rather disappointed. I guess I’ll just get right to it. The screenwriters for this movie completely broke Alan Moore’s story. I understand that it’s a short story, and that it would have to be fluffed out to make a feature film, but if you’re going to make the commitment to film it, the least you could do is not screw it up. In Moore’s story, Barbara Gordon may have just been a side character to move the plot forward, but they’ve somehow managed to make that worse. The first thirty minutes of this movie is a kind of prologue to the actual story of The Killing Joke, and to be honest, it’s one that doesn’t work well at all. It feels like something completely separate, mostly because it is. That half hour could have been completely removed and the movie would have been much better for it.

Now for the good parts. As always, when you have such professionals as Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker), a large part of the story and quality of the film is going to hinge on their performances. Both do an excellent job here. Hamill’s Joker is as chilling as ever and Conroy’s Batman is perhaps his most stoic performance of the character. Sometimes Conroy even came off a bit too stoic for me with a few line deliveries that were kind of flat for my liking. Those minor few instances aside, the voice actors are what kept this from being a total travesty.

Overall, I was really disappointed with this one. The source material and the voice cast set my expectations pretty high, but the way the screenwriters totally butchered the story left a very sour taste in my mouth. I know Alan Moore is typically not a fan of his work being adapted, so much so that he refuses to have his name credited on the movie adaptations, this one was no exception, and honestly, I can’t say that I blame him.

The Verdict for Batman: The Killing Joke:
2 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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The first big superhero fight movie of the year has arrived, but is it the movie powerhouse that we all expected it to be, or does it crumble beneath the weight of its own hype? Guess you’ll just have to keep reading to find out.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice begins eighteen months after the events of Man of Steel. An aging Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) has been practicing his Batman style vigilantism in Gotham City for about twenty years. He also happened to be in Metropolis on the day that Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod had their catastrophic fight that leveled many city blocks. Bruce is fully aware of the destruction that these super-powered aliens can cause. Their immense power is also noticed by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who views it as a tremendous threat to humanity, and actively searches for a way to keep such power in check.

Ok. Where to start. I guess the story itself. The plot and pacing for this movie are all over the place. Within the first ten minutes, we’ve already been whisked to at least four different settings and time periods. Scenes are obviously short, so there’s no real way to get a grasp of the characters. We only get vague notions of their motivations, mostly because we already know who these characters are from decades of other stories in other media. The movie tries to be a form of Batman origin story, but the attempt comes off half-hearted, mainly because it feels so rushed. The inspiration for Batman’s origin very clearly comes from Frank Miller’s iconic Dark Knight Returns mini-series, as do many other elements in the movie. I feel, if the storyline had been more focused on that work, rather than trying to merge it with another famous DC Comics storyline, and establishing the existence of other heroes in the universe, it may have been served a little better. Which brings me to yet another point, this movie is incredibly overstuffed. We already have the titanic figures that are Batman and Superman, but then Wonder Woman (played by Gal Godot) gets thrown into the mix, plus the introduction of other heroes, plus the plot of the antagonist. It’s just too much. It suffers from the same fate that ultimately doomed Amazing Spider-Man 2, too much going on, not enough substance and characterization. So many elements could have been trimmed down to make a tighter, more personal movie.

On to the acting. This was actually one of the brighter spots in the movie. Ben Affleck is definitely NOT the worst Batman ever, that honor still belongs to George Clooney. Affleck does a pretty good job in the role, to be honest. I just wish there were more of him AS Batman. Cavill reprises his role as the big blue boy scout, and plays the part about as well as he did the first time around, so no real complaints there. Godot as Wonder Woman holds her own, but again, the character felt kind of tacked on. Now to the one blemish, Eisenberg’s Luthor. I’m not really sure what he was going for with this portrayal, it kind of felt like a mash up of Heath Ledger’s psychotic Joker and Kevin Spacey’s own version of Luthor from Superman Returns. There are moments where Eisenberg is trying to play up sinister sarcasm or wit, and it just come off laughable.

There are two things at which director Zack Snyder excels; action and making a movie look good. It definitely has his signature style with its slick visuals and massive action set pieces. And to that end, the movie looks amazing. The fight scenes are spectacular and on a similar scale to the ones seen in 2013’s Man of Steel. Larger than life characters throwing haymakers across a cityscape and hurtling into one another makes for an interesting fifteen to twenty minutes, but over the course of a two and a half hour movie, it can’t really support the whole production on its own.

Overall, it’s not as bad as the other reviews are making it out to be, but it’s certainly not a movie that I would consider good either. For the most part, it’s all style with very little substance, kind of like firing blanks from a gun; you get the flash, you get the bang, but there’s no payoff at the other end.

The Verdict for Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice:
3 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Through some unknown rift in reality, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Foot Clan have ended up in Gotham City, Batman’s Backyard.  But the Dark Knight isn’t about to take this one lying down.  He’s hot on the trail of the Foot as they steal their way across Gotham.

James Tynion IV writes a pretty interesting story here that brings a lot of elements from both of these monumental franchises into the fold.  My main concern is whether it’s too much.  This issue did a lot of jumping around and had very quick scenes with little dialogue.  If the storytellers tried to cram this much into the first issue, it makes me think the rest of the series might be kind of overstuffed as well.

Freddie Williams II’s artwork is rough and pretty dark, just like the characters in this story should be.  I really enjoyed it, as he seems to be channeling the original Eastman & Laird Turtles artwork just a little bit, without completely alienating Batman.  It’s a wonderful book to look at, and I sincerely hope the quality holds up for the remaining five issues.

Overall, this is one hell of a nostalgia trip.  It’s not every day that you see two entertainment icons from different universes come together like this, and I do get the sense that both publishing companies and the creators treated this team up with the respect that each side deserves.  It might be a little overstuffed, but hopefully once it’s all said and done, it will be one of those match-ups that  no one ever forgets.  If you grew up with these characters in your childhood, you won’t want to miss this mini-series.

The Verdict for Batman – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1:
out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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Frank Miller is back with Brian Azzarello to tell the conclusion to Miller’s super-famous Dark Knight Trilogy.  Batman has come out of the shadows once more, but this time it looks like he’s taking on cops instead of the criminals they’re chasing.  There are some whispers of police corruption tossed around, which give us hope that Batman hasn’t completely lost it and started attacking police for no reason.  However, as per usual in Gotham, not all is quite as it seems.

Miller and Azzarello’s story in this chapter’s debut issue is quite interesting.  The parts of the story following Batman are non-stop action as the police are trying to apprehend the masked vigilante before he can injure any more of their fellow members.  There are some whispers of police corruption tossed around, which give us hope that Batman hasn’t completely lost it and started attacking police for no reason.  There are also some undercurrents of a larger story involving heroes with powers here, which I haven’t quite figured out yet, but it certainly seems like it could be play a pivotal role later in the story.  The writers tell this story at a break neck pace.  This being an oversized issue, I was certain it would seem long to get through, but once I started reading it was over before I knew it, and I wanted more, which is a great feeling.

Kubert’s artwork is a little slicker and more polished than I was expecting from a Dark Knight book, but I am by no means complaining.  There’s still a slight, edgy quality to it all, but not quite what I was used to from the original story.  The art does, however, match the speed and pacing of the story, which is always a good thing.

Overall, I enjoyed this first issue and it leaves me eagerly waiting for issue #2, which is some of the highest praise I can offer. If you’re a Batman fan, read this story.

The Verdict for Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1:
5 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.