Tag Archives: Animation

Review – The Emoji Movie

What’s this?

Surprising absolutely nobody, The Emoji Movie is an insulting travesty without a shred of wit, intelligence or worth; a shameless, unfunny slab of advertising that exists entirely to slobber all over the shiny corporate cock whose limp spurts of digitised ejaculate droop from the movie’s saccharine façade like the tears of all those parents who were dumb enough to buy tickets for their children to see it.

Having said that, it did surprise someone: Dan Hart, my very own colleague here, who insisted live on air that The Emoji Movie would secure a Tomatometer score of over 50%, and even bet ten pounds of Her Majesty’s finest sterling on the matter. I can’t get back the 90 minutes I spent watching this appalling aberration, but at least I’m up ten quid.

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Review – Superman: Unbound

What’s this?

An adaptation of Superman: Brainiac, a better-titled miniseries by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank that reimagined Brainiac, one of Superman’s most iconic villains, as a cybernetic alien who boasts the knowledge of 10,000 worlds – accumulated, it’s worth noting, by pilfering those worlds’ most developed cities, miniaturizing them, and cataloguing them aboard his giant, tentacled skull-ship in little glass jars.

That sounds like hard work.

It does. I was compelled to ponder the logistics of this endeavour, but I gave up once I was reminded that a building full of investigative journalists still haven’t managed to determine that Clark Kent is Superman, despite him working in that very building and making no effort to disguise himself. In fact, I should really applaud Superman: Unbound, which is the sixteenth movie in DC’s animated line, for introducing a boorish Daily Planet employee who makes a point of noticing and commenting on Clark’s secretive behaviour. Admittedly he thinks that Clark sneaking around and being in good shape means that he’s a homosexual, but that’s still the closest anyone has come to putting two and two together.

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Review – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2

What’s this?

If you need me to tell you, there’s a strong chance you and I won’t get on. Still, allow me to direct you to my review of the first half of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which contains all the blathering about artwork, animation and voice acting that you could ever hope to read. All that stuff’s more or less the same in this half, so I won’t bother reiterating the points. Much more to discuss, this time, including old Miller’s unsurprisingly simplistic view of America’s Cold War foreign policy.

Sorry… what?

All in good time, folks. Until then, the story so far: Batman’s using his state pension to fund a return to vigilantism, despite the national government having implemented a ban on such activity. In Part 1, he wrested control of Gotham City back from a gang of studded, visor-clad street-punks known as “the Mutants”, mostly by tricking their leader into a muddy puddle and punching him repeatedly. Here, in Part 2, Miller’s story is irradiated by the fallout from Batman’s resurgence, and starts to sprout new, unexpected appendages. A previously-institutionalized Joker (Michael Emerson), Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, has joined the media circus, using the pretence of a talk show to butcher the host and the entire studio audience; the Sons of Batman, a well-meaning unofficial fan club, have taken up arms to help clear Gotham of its criminal dregs; and in the Oval Office, a satirised Ronald Reagan despatches his pet steroidal Superman (Mark Valley) to bring Batman to justice.

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Review – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1

What’s this?

Another delve into the addled imagination of Frank Miller, whose definitive Batman origin story, Year One, I recently declared one of the worst adaptations to yet be churned out by DC’s generally-excellent collaboration with Warner Bros.

Well… I guess we’re off to an awkward start.

Fear not, though, because Miller didn’t just reimagine Batman’s beginning, but also his end; The Dark Knight Returns is another iconic, seminal work in Batman’s long and storied history, and the first part of it, directed by Jay Oliva and adapted for the screen by Bob Goodman, is easily the best Batman story since Under the Red Hood, and stands alongside that movie, Wonder Woman and Superman vs. The Elite as some of the best superheroic shenanigans yet committed to film.

Hold on… part 1?

Yes, indeed. It seems that the original story’s vaunted place in the comic-book pantheon didn’t lend itself well to an abridgement. For the first time, instead of trying to compress a multi-issue arc into a single, short movie, DC and Warner have taken the scalpel to the source material and delivered two feature-length halves of Miller’s four-part classic.

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Review – Superman vs. The Elite

What’s this?

An adaptation – although, if we’re being completely honest, an expansion – of a story from Action Comics #775 called “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and The American Way”. The original appeared in 2001, and was written by Joe Kelly, who also adapted the screenplay. The issue served more as a discussion point than a real story. It dealt with the moral quandaries at the heart of vigilantism: the question of whether power could – or should – position one above the law; the reality that some evil cannot be reasoned or negotiated with; and the dilemma of how a hero can quash villainy without sacrificing what makes them heroic. It was a poor story that contained potent ideas, and they were made even more so just a few months after its publication, when terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners and flew three of them into buildings.

What’s the set-up?

The Elite – Manchester Black (Robin Atkin Downes), Coldcast (Catero Colbert), The Hat (Andrew Kishino) and Menagerie (Melissa Disney) – are characters that were initially intended to serve as analogues for a certain breed of violent superhero team (particularly The Authority) who were popular at the time. They show up making a big deal about how they’ll fight injustice with lawless abandon; how they’ll go where others won’t, and do what needs to be done to keep people safe, including stepping over (and well beyond) the lines that Superman is so prickly about. This brings on one of Supes’ trademark moral crises, wherein he begins to question whether his aversion to murder is too old-fashioned for the modern world and for a society who are getting justifiably sick of villains breaking out of prison to wreak more havoc in their city.

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Review – Justice League: Doom

What’s this?

The motion picture version of Mark Waid’s Justice League of America arc, JLA: Tower of Babel, from 2000, adapted for the screen by the late Dwayne McDuffie, who died shortly after finishing the script. It’s also a sort-of sequel to the rather good Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, retaining the same character designs, being set, I think, in the same universe, and providing another iteration of the tried-and-true team vs. team structure.

Sounds familiar…

It is, I guess, but if Justice League: Doom accomplishes something tangible among the usual large-scale action these films are known for, it’s a darker treatment of the Justice League that pushes each member to their physical and emotional limits (and the film to the very brink of its PG-13 classification.) Ever wanted to see Batman get buried alive with his father’s bones, or Martian Manhunter perpetually immolate as he sweats flaming magnesium? Well, this is the movie for you.

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Review – Green Lantern: Emerald Knights

What’s this?

It’s – blimey – the eleventh DC Animated Original, and the second after the mediocre Batman: Gotham Knight to feature an anthology format. Don’t panic, though – Emerald Knights ­isn’t as artsy-fartsy as that movie; it retains a uniform visual style (which is more or less identical to what was used in Green Lantern: First Flight, although this otherwise has no connection), and each individual tale is linked together by an overarching narrative.

And that narrative is?

The home planet of the Green Lantern Corps is on the precipice of a galactic-scale battle with an ancient enemy, and in preparation for the coming conflict Hal Jordan (Nathan Fillion) regales new recruit Arisia Rrab (Elizabeth Moss) with tales of the first Green Lantern and several of his current comrades. And that’s it, really. We get stories that explore the formation of the Corps; the trial-by-fire that led to Kilowog (Henry Rollins) becoming a certified ass-kicking space-swine; Bolphunga’s (Roddy Piper) meeting of an “antisocial” Green Lantern known as Mogo (Steve Blum); some familial drama as Laira (Kelly Hu) investigates her vaguely Nipponese home world; and a team-up between Abin Sur (Arnold Vooslo) and Sinestro (Jason Isaacs) as they take on the villain Atrocitus (Bruce Thomas) while waxing philosophical about the nature of destiny and free will.

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