And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (2013)

Part 4: More Comic Book History You Don’t Care About But Need to Know in Order to Understand What the Hell’s Going On in This Review:

"We now return you to our regularly scheduled film, already in progress."

“We now return you to our regularly scheduled film, already in progress.”

Since Warner Brothers insisted on adapting this story into two, one hour and twelve minute movies I made a point of not revisiting Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 in preparation for this review of Part Deux. If it’d been up to me, I would’ve adapting Frank Miller’s four-issue story arc into one movie. Even with everything here it’d still be at least an hour shorter than the last two live action Bat-films. And make no mistake – the WB’s straight-to-video animation department threw in a lot.

They had no choice.  These are adaptions of one of the best-loved Batman stories in history. Find me a Bat-writer and, with a little help from my friend Google, I’ll probably be able to find you a choice quote about how 1986’s Dark Knight Returns either got them into Batman in the first place, or brought them back after a period of apostasy. Current Batman/Superman writer Greg Pak just provided me a perfect example in this interview, dated February 27th, 2013:

I dropped out for a little bit, and I was still picking up indie comics like Cerebus and Usagi Yojimbo, but it was Batman that got me back into superhero comics when I was in college. Specifically it was Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, which then led me to other stuff. It was basically Frank Miller who dragged me back in, and I was hooked. I was obsessed with Batman. Continue reading

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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (2012)

Introduction: Comic Book History You Don’t Care About But Need to Know in Order to Understand What the Hell’s Going On (with apologies to Linkara).

Shazam...! Oh, no...wait...Batson doesn't show up until The Dark Knight Strikes Again. My bad.

Shazam…! Oh, no…wait…Batson doesn’t show up until The Dark Knight Strikes Again. My bad.

Yes, friends, it’s time once again to examine the hilariously over-praised work of comic book writer Frank Miller, whose slow slide into insanity, inanity and irrelevance has provided amusement to comic book fans for the last fifteen years. Before that, though – and still to this day in some corners of Bat-fandom – Miller is/was considered a godhead, the wellspring from which all modern conceptions of Batman flow.

This is patent bullshit, ignoring at least fifteen years of hard work by other creatives. My favorite Batman editor, Dennis O’Neil, started out as a front-line writer in 1969, and made the conscious choice to move Bats away from the campiness of his by-then-canceled TV show. Together with writer/artist Neil Adams, inker Dick Giordano and editor Julius Schwartz, O’Neil returned The Bat to his roots in the pulpy Crime Dramas of the 30s and early 40s. The SF elements common in American comic’s Silver Age either shuffled off to the background…or were not-so-subtly twisted to reflect the changing (or “evolving”…and I’d dare say “improving”) tastes of the 70s. This culminated in Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers 1977 run on Detective Comics, now sold under the title Batman: Strange Apparitions.

For my cash, that marks the first appearance of a truly “modern” Batman, complete with all the baggage and angst that define him still today. O’Neil sent the First Robin, Dick Grayson, off the college, leaving Bats and Alfred alone in their mansion, just the way filmmakers (apparently) like it. Englehart and Rogers introduced the first of many Bruce Wayne love interests, all of whom inevitably moved him to question his crusade, and its end game…before just as inevitably departing his life, leaving him with even more to brood about. Put those elements together, shake ’em up, add villains to taste, and you’ve got every (good) live action Bat-film to date…and through Batman’s influence, most of the Superhero sub-genre.

Continue reading



Team America: World Police (2004)
So, if actors are such pussies, how come this one gets to use his magic Acting powers to save the world?

So, if actors are such pussies, how come this one gets to use his magic Acting powers to save the world?

Every morning I thank God we no longer live in that sick, bipolar year of your lord, 2004. Were we still stuck back there, in one of the crappier years of one of the crappiest decades in world history (so far), I’d have to start this review out with an equally crap introduction. Tons of them litter our great series of tubes, all saying the same damn boring things:

“Boy, it sure has sucked, suffering through all these films with explicit political messages. Sure do wish all these filmmakers would just shut the fuck up. How dare they exercise their right to free speech in a supposedly-democratic society? Thank God for Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and their Great Gift, Team America: World Police. It’s a film that gleefully farts in the face of our entire political spectrum. Thank God someone’s finally made a film for apathetic, hipster douchebags whose main source of current events is cable TV news…or award winning satires of cable TV news, Monday-Thursday at eleven, on Comedy Central. (Now where’s my damn check, Paramount?)”

Seems every hack with a movie website cranked one of these out and unjustly tacked them on to reviews of this film. Reading them all in sequence is like reading a series of variant print-outs from some evil artificial intelligence: the Critic-Tron 9000. They may be perfectly accurate descriptions of the South Park episode writer/directors Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Pam Brady turned in immediately after this film premiered (“Douche Vs. Turd”)…but as a description of Team America, they sell the film far too short. Just like I did, at the time. Continue reading