Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Movie Talk - Direct-to-DVD Batman

Son of Batman: It’s the only place where you’ll see a 11-year old get shot at, stabbed, tied, and have questionable role models.

Well, the Month of Batman is here, so I might as well start out with some movies. The movies I’ll be looking at today are the direct-to-DVD movies that Warner Bros. have been putting out since about 2007. I’ve already looked at the Justice League and Superman movies, so it’s time for the Dark Knight. I first saw Batman: Gotham Knight when it was released on DVD. I actually saw Batman: Under the Red Hood online since Redbox actually didn’t have this movie. Batman: Year One was one of the first movies I watched on Netflix. Finally, I rented Son of Batman a couple of weeks ago to see if the Internet buzz was right.

I’ve recently watched the first three to re-jog my memory. As you can tell, The Dark Knight Returns two-parter is not included here. I’m actually saving that and the actual miniseries for later on. So, get some coffee because it’s going to be an all-nighter!!

Batman: Gotham Knight
BMK was released in 2008. It’s actually an unofficial tie-in to Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. It takes place between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. This movie is also a straight-up anime. What DC did was they got some of the best anime directors to craft six short stories and have them tie-in with one another. The first short was basically a re-imagining of the Batman: TAS episode “Legends of the Dark Knight.” The second short revolves around some detectives getting saved by Batman. The third short has Bruce trying out new equipment from Lucius Fox. The forth short has him confronting Scarecrow and a weird version of Killer Croc. The fifth short has him hurt and experiencing a flashback to some time he spent in India. The final short has him confronting Deadshot.
Who's the real Batman? You decide!

I thought this was a pretty decent movie. It’s not the best, but it’s far from the worst. I did like how the 6 short stories tied in to one another.  The stories I liked the best were the second, third, fourth, and sixth stories. Still, you might have had a few inconsistencies though that may have had to do with the animation. I kind of wished this was official with Nolan’s trilogy since there isn’t much outside of that universe. While they tied into one another, each short’s animation had a distinct style. Unfortunately, it didn’t always look that good. I’m not that big into anime, so some of the animation was a tough sell for me. The shorts that looked cool style-wise were the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth shorts.
Oh Crap. When Batman smiles, it's never a good thing.

The voice-acting was pretty good. Kevin Conroy reprised the role of Batman for this and that was pretty cool. Unfortunately, his voice felt out of place for me at times. I think it just had to do with the animation because he was good in the role. Other than some weird animation and a couple of weak stories, I liked this one. I don’t remember what I thought of it back in 2008, so this was a bit of a surprise. If you’re not a fan of anime, I don’t know how you would fare.

Favorite Quotes:
Bruce: I'm willing to put my life on the line to do what I have to. But it has to be mine, no one else's.
Batman: You have to know your enemy, Alfred. I'd never use one, but even I can appreciate the attraction of a gun. The heft. The sleekness. The cool steel. The precision. And the power. The power to change lives, history. The power of God.

Batman: Under the Red Hood
This movie was released in 2010. It’s a somewhat close adaptation of the storyline, “Under The Hood.” I’ve never read the storyline, but I should one of these days. The movie was also written by Judd Winnick, the writer of that storyline. In the movie, Batman has to face a new vigilante who has no qualms in killing criminals. Things get worse when Bruce finds out that the Red Hood is Jason Todd, a former Robin who was thought to be killed by the Joker.
That's one sad clown.

I think it’s safe to say that this movie is the best of the bunch. It’s probably one of the best Batman films in general. So much is done right with movie. The story is really well told. This is one of the only stories that got into Bruce and his morals. The Red Hood is also an effective villain for the movie. He’s basically what Bruce would be without his no-killing policy. We even get a good Joker here even though he’s not the main baddie.

The voice-acting was really good. Bruce Greenwood plays an awesome Batman and Jensen Ackles won me over with his Red Hood. While John DiMaggio's Joker is a little different, I liked it. The rest of the voice-acting was good for the most part. The guy who voiced the Black Mask was freakin' hilarious. He was over-the-top in all of the right ways. The animation and action were top-notch. The final battle between Batman and Red Hood was pretty epic and brutal.
Ouch. It's really the beating of a lifetime!

The things they changed for the movie were actually improvements. For example, Jason Todd actually came back from the dead via “Superboy wall-punch” in the comics. Thankfully, this wasn’t in the movie.I really don’t have too many issues with the movie. I did think that Bruce figured out Jason was back a little too quickly. He realized that the Red Hood knows his identity and immediately assumes that it's Jason. I know Batman’s a good detective and all that, but he jumped to that conclusion quick. Other than that, I have no problem with this movie. It's one of their best movies.

Favorite Quotes: 
Black Mask: I want this man dead. When I say "dead," I mean seriously dead. Beaten, broken. His head mounted-on-my-wall kind of dead!
Batman: You say you want to be better than me, but it won't happen. Not like this!
Jason Todd: I don't know what's worse, your grief or your antiquated sense of morality, Bruce, I forgive you for not saving me. But why? Why on God's earth. is he still alive!
Joker: Gotta give the boy points. He came all the way from the dead to make this shindig happen. So who's got a camera? Ooh! Ooh! Get one of me and the kid first. Then you and me, then the three of us. And then the one with the crowbar.

Batman: Year One
Batman: Year One is a pretty direct adaptation of the Frank Miller storyline. It was released in 2011. Unfortunately, I also haven’t read this one yet. I just haven’t gotten around to it but I have tried to keep an eye out for it. The story looks at Batman’s early days of crime fighting. It also looks at James Gordon as he deals with the corruption of Gotham’s police department. We even get a little bit of the Catwoman’s beginnings.
Walter White is Jame Gordon!!!
(Nope, I haven't seen Breaking Bad.)

While the movie isn’t the best, I really liked it. A lot of it actually has to do with James Gordon's side of things. Here, he’s played up as an action hero and I like it. It also helped that he was wonderfully voiced by Bryan Cranston. We really got to see his ups and downs with his job and family life. The Batman side of the movie was good, but it wasn’t really spectacular. We really only get the bare bones of his origin. I also thought that Ben Mackenzie’s voice was kind of weak, though this is Batman’s early years. In fact, I think the guy would have made an interesting Daredevil.
That's right! I broke that tree! Why? Because I'm the G-- wait, that stupid meme is so 2005!

The Catwoman parts were few and far between. If she wasn’t in the movie, I really wouldn’t have missed her. Also, I felt like the story was a little light. It seems like we were only getting the important stuff about everything and not much else. The movie is actually about an hour which is short for movies like these. I get the idea that the creators wanted to adapt the story completely and not deviate from the source material at all. Here, that kind of sucks. Still, the voice acting, most of the story, and the animation make this movie a something to see.

Favorite Quotes:
Batman: Ladies, gentlemen, you've eaten well. You've eaten Gotham's wealth. Its spirit. But your feast is nearly over. From this moment on, none of you are safe.
Gordon: It's been 15 years since I had to take out a Green Beret. Even so, he deserves a handicap.

Son of Batman
Son of Batman was released May of 2014. It is loosely (and I mean loosely) adapted from Grant Morrison’s first storyline, “Batman and Son.” Now, I have read this storyline and most of Morrison’s run. I looked at most of it earlier in the year. In the movie, Batman finds out that he has an 11-year old son with Talia al Gul. She gives him to Bruce when the League of Assassins’ base is attacked by Deathstroke and some renegade ninjas. Throw in ninja fights, an unruly kid, blood, hot women, ninja man-bats, and a pretty horrible Deathstroke… Screw it, I’m calling him Fakestroke. He’s not even worthy of death.
This is probably the only time where Deathstroke aka "Fakestroke" looks cool. Unfortunately, he's trying to kill a 11-year old kid.

This movie was a mixed bag for me. It’s not horrible but it’s not that good either. I read on forums that this movie wasn’t good but I still wanted to see it for myself and form my own opinion. There are some good things about the movie. I really did like the animation and the overall action. While it was pretty weird, the fight between Damien and Fakestroke was pretty cool to look at. Most of the voice acting was pretty good. Stuart Allen was good as Damien since this was his movie. I also liked the banter between him, Bruce, Alfred, and Dick. I also liked the end-credits where we see screenshots of Damien’s and Nightwing’s fight.

As you can tell, I do have some issues with the movie and most of them have to do with Fakestroke. First, the voice actor was pretty bad and sounded like he belonged in a badly dubbed anime. Second, why is Deathstroke the main baddie in this film? In the film, he was one of the League of Assassins and not the super soldier mercenary he’s usually portrayed as. I guess they wanted to feed on his popularity but it feels like a completely different character. My other gripe is with the voice of Batman. Jason O’Mara isn’t horrible but he’s kind of sounds bored and too laid back in the role. The guy finds out he has an illegitimate son and he rarely bats an eye at that.
Batman: The World's Greatest Detective, The Dark Knight, and the man who gets all the women!

Some other voice acting was off with characters like Talia who’s sporting a pretty nice Hollywood accent. I also thought Damien was a little overpowered here. I get that he was trained by the Assassins from birth and he’s Batman’s son, but how is he kicking so many butts here? They really don’t explain that well. Overall, it’s pretty below average. I get that they wanted to do a standalone story, but it even fails at that. If you’re looking for fights and nice animation, you might like it. If you’re looking for something more, you might be disappointed.

Favorite Quotes:
Nightwing: Missing something, Bruce? I have a kid here. Says he 's your son.

Well, that’s all I got for this post. If you think this is where it ends, watch out because we’ve got another Batman movie coming out this year. Batman: Assault on Arkham is actually an official tie-in to the Batman Arkham games and it’s supposed to heavily feature the Suicide Squad. Here’s hoping it’s better than the most recent movie. I don’t know if one would be driven batty from all of the movies and shows with Batman. I'm about to find out. Well, I’m outta here. Peace and God Bless.

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