And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Batman: Year One (2011)
Yeah, when I heard this was coming to DVD, I more or less pulled this face.

When I heard this was coming to DVD, I more or less pulled this face. Because I knew, sooner or later, I’d have to write this review.

I hate to sound like an ungrateful fanboy but I find myself with no other option. Why does this film even exist? It’s too late for Year One. What idiot would want to adapt it now, after all its major elements have been translated to the silver screen at least twice?

Non-comic book readers should know Year One first appeared as a four-part story arc in Batman #404-407 (February – May 1987). Like most of the Bat-stories published around that time, it quickly became a cornerstone of the character’s modern continuity. Creative teams have referenced it and referred to it ever since, and it’s inspired some of the finest stories of Bat’s modern age.

For example: Bruce Timm (who executive produced this film), Paul Dini and Alan Burnet used it as the inspiration for whole sequences of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (otherwise known as The Greatest Batman Movie Ever Made), including the flashbacks to Bruce’s early crime-fighting years and his extended  flight from the GCPD in the second act. Christopher Nolan turned wide swaths of Year One into my favorite parts of Batman Begins, including the slow build-up to our first sight of Bruce in the Bat-suit…and his extended flight from the GCPD in the second act. Both used Year One as inspiration: a ball they ran with into their separate In-Zones. How can any screen adaption of Year One hold up against that, or the quarter century of expectation Bat-fans have built up? Continue reading



All-Star Superman (2011)
Covershot!

Covershot!

Every once in a not-so-great while, comic book companies decide to annihilate decades of established continuity and set their famous characters back to Year Zero in the name of attracting new readers. Such publicity stunts will inevitably antagonize existing fans whose bad word of mouth will (theoretically) scare away those coveted new readers. So it was that, sometime around 1998, Scottish comics writer Grant Morrison teamed up with other Big Name writers Mark Waid, Mark Millar and Tom Peyer to pitch a complete revamp of Superman.

“We believe that the four of us understand the new face of Superman: a forward-looking, intelligent, enthusiastic hero retooled to address the challenges of the next thousand years.  The ultimate American icon revitalized for the new millennium as an aspirational figure, a role model for 21st Century global humanity.

“The Superman relaunch we’re selling bucks the trend of sweeping aside the work done by those who came immediately before.  Unlike the ‘cosmic reset’ revamps all too prevalent in current comics, our New Superman approach is an honest attempt to synthesize the best of all previous eras.  Our intention is to honor each of Superman’s various interpretations and to use internal story logic as our launching pad for a re-imagined, streamlined 21st century Man of Steel.” Continue reading



Godzilla the Series: An Exercise in Over-Analysis – Part XI
June 13, 2011, 12:37 am
Filed under: Reviews, Television | Tags: , , ,

Episode 12 – DeadLoch

Funny how many of these episodes open up with some member of the Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team sitting on their ass, watching television. Team lead Dr. Nick Tatopoulos has “monitor duty” this week, joined by recovering Larry Cohen fan Dr. Elsie Chapman. The two watch a video from Dr. Hugh Trevor of the Pisces Research Institute…in Loch Ness, Scotland. Per the usual cryptozoology cliches, Dr. Trevor’s only managed to catch a fleeting glimpse of Nessy after the creature’s alleged attack on the Institute.

“They should’ve hired a real actor,” Dr. Nick says. “This guy’s embarrassing.” And when a 90210 vet craps on your ability, you really should go back to drama school. “And is that thing made of…rubber?” Har-dee-flippin’ har, doc. Making things even funnier, the “actor” Dr. Nick’s critiquing is played by the realest “real” actor this series has seen so far: Roddy “Cornelius” McDowall, in (no, really) his last screen role. Continue reading



Godzilla the Series: An Exercise in Over-Analysis – Part IV
April 17, 2011, 12:00 am
Filed under: Reviews, Television | Tags: , ,
Trailer shot!

Trailer shot!

Episode 5 – The Winter of Our Discontent

We open in New York City’s seemingly endless harbor, with the World’s Number One Monster Hunting Team, H.E.A.T., in hot pursuit of their itinerant seventh member, Godzilla (Can’t really call him “a silent partner” with all those roars, now can we?) Godzilla, in turn, pursues the call of an unidentified signal beacon straight to a pile of fresh-caught fish. Whatever Godzilla’s cognitive powers, I can easily see him wandering into such an obvious trap. I expected better from Our Human Heroes, who nonetheless react with shock when a flight of ten-foot-long, mechanical insects begin to strafe the Big G, mightily pissing him off.

These “Cyber Flies” arrived courtesy of the series’ first human villain: Cameron Winter (David Newsom), described by H.E.A.T. member Elsie Chapman (channeling her inner twelve-year-old) as “the world’s richest, most-hunkiest CEO, not to mention the biggest techno-guru.” Such hunkiness is beside the point for team lead Nick Tatopoulos, who spent more than enough time with Cameron Winter at their (unnamed) mutual college. Indignant, Nick accuses Winter of “drawing Godzilla out for target practice.” Cameron owns up to his little trap, which Godzilla easily muscles free of, enjoying a fine fish dinner on Cameron’s dime after scrapping the last Cyber Fly. Continue reading



Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)

Hey, a cowboy actor made it. Why not Ol' Bald n' Evil?As you’ve no doubt guessed by now, my personal political views fall somewhere to the left of Mikhail Bakunin. So, as you’d expect, I experienced quite the nerdgasam back in the year 2000 when (through a convoluted story line tonight’s film rightly jettisons without the slightest nod) Lex Luthor became President of the D.C. Universe’s United States. Finally, I said to no one in particular, given that at the time I had no friends, someone in comics understands the f-ed up mess we’re in.

But all good things must come to an end, and since this is D.C. Comics, that “end” must engulf the entire world in some form of world-engulfing peril, preferably one stolen from the plot of a popular summer sci-fi/action movie. Because you can’t throw D.C.’s most insanely-powerful superheroes at just any-old idiotic inhabitant of the White House.

Or can you…? Here again, the Justice League TV series captured my heart by daring to actually ask this question several times to continually ass-kicking effect, only chickening out when it looked like their show might be canceled, necessitating the Climactic Battle restore the status quo. I’ve waited three years for a cartoon that dares to look into the actual nuts and bolts of superheroing during the Luthor Administration. All I can say is, I’m still waiting. In the meantime, at least we’ve got Public Enemies. {More}



Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)

He's a saa-aad Batman...The day I discovered NOVA’s The Elegant Universe was a grand day at around this old Batcave o’ mine. I rejoiced that physicists had finally figured out what we comic book nerds have known for over fifty years: our world is but one of an infinity of universes, operating on parallel levels of what we so blithely call reality. Bully for you, Science. Welcome to the party.

As with so much else, superheroes had a large part in popularizing what was once the esoteric pipe dream of clever sci-fi authors. The Justice League first met their “evil” dopplegangers, the Crime Syndicate of America, back in 1964. And while those original Silver Age comics have…shall we say…mellowed…in their old age, I still respect the CSA’s original motivation for jumping dimensions: sheer boredom at the ease with which they’d conquered their own world. (with the exception of one Alexander “Lex” Luthor). The Justice League cartoon series updated and expanded up this plot to great effect in its second season two-parter “A Better World.” And while this Justice League cartoon was originally meant to be a transition into the series’ third season, life, and a tight production schedule, intervened. It still works as such, but feels oddly out of place coming so far down stream, after I (for one) thought Warner’s Animation department had run this idea into the ground. {More}



Hulk Vs. (2009)

Lionsgate Entertainment and Marvel Comics have quite the partnership going on. Hoping to tide us over between summer blockbuster seasons, the (I don’t quite feel right about calling them “dynamic”) duo of media conglomerates have put out a steady stream of direct-to-DVD cartoon features starring Marvel’s heaviest-hitting heroes. I’ve already spoken about Ultimate Avengers. The fact that I’ve seen it’s sequel, along with the animated Iron Man, and was not impressed enough to write either of them up, should tell you all you need to know about those two. You can understand why I went into tonight’s subject with a mixture of high hopes and lowered expectations.

My love for the Hulk knows few bounds, and I’ve been disappointed by most of his live-action outings. I’ll defend Ang Lee’s Hulk until the day I’m forced to save humanity from the despotic rule of my power-mad future-self, but last year’s Incredible Hulk left me cold. Desperate, I once again looked to Ultimate Avengers and the 1970s Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno live action show for my genuine Bruce Banner fix.

I still do. {More}