Justice League vs Teen Titans Review


By William Shelton

Director: Sam Liu

Screenplay By: Bryan Q. Miller, Alan Burnett

Release Date: March 29, 2016 (digitally)

Run Time: 79 minuets

Rating: PG-13

Score: 3.5/5

The first review I ever did on this blog was the DC Animated film “Justice League: War”, an animated retelling of the New 52 origin story for DC’s flagship title. I didn’t care for it. So much so that I haven’t watched any other DC animated films after that. However, with this coming out at almost the exact time I’m planing on starting a new blog and wanting my last review here to be a special one some how, I thought I’d return to where this all started and take a look at the new DC Animated film: Justice League vs Teen Titans.

The film opens with the Justice League engaged in a fight with a few supervillains. Everyone goes down rather easily but one villain, Weather Wizard, tried to run for it. While running he steps in what looks to be a shadow that ends up possessing him. When the Flash catches him, the now possessed Wizard announces “Azarath calls, the child must answer”. Superman goes to attack, but even he is no match for the demon. The Justice League figure they are going to have a much harder fight on their hands than the one they Just got done with, so Batman calls Robin (this being his son, Damian) and tells him to keep the civilians safe.

This doesn’t go over well with Damian, who’s trained all his life to be an assassin and now feels he’s being forced to the side lines. So instead of doing what he was told, Damian hijacks the…batplane…batjet….not sure what that should be called…..and fly’s it directly into Wizards chest, forcing the demon out of him. This has the side effect of forcing the last of Batman’s patience out of him. Batman sends Damian over to the Teen Titans to learn how to be a better team member. And as always, this doesn’t please Damian.

The young Robin is instantly stand-offish towards his fellow titans Beast Boy, Raven and Blue Beetle. This climaxes in a fight between Robin and Blue Beetle, where Beetle loses control of the alien tech connected to him and he nearly kills Damian. Raven uses her magic to heal him, but in doing so the two of them get a look into each others minds. Raven is terrorized of Damian and asks for him to leave her alone while Damian finds himself more intrigued than scared.

Starfire, now the groups leader and mentor rather than an acting member, takes the group to the fair hoping that some some, non-training related activities would help the group bond a little, and as it turns out she was right. Everyone has a great time…until a group of demos come for Raven, saying that her father, Azarath is coming for her. The team fight off the demons and return to the tower to come up with their next move, but when they get there they learn that the Justice League has also learned that Raven is who Azarath is looking for and try to take her. The titans resist, saying that this is their team mate thus their problem to deal with. But as the two groups are arguing Azarath possesses the Justice League and use their powers to take down the teen age super heroes. In order to save her friends Raven agrees to go to her father. Now it’s up to a weakened group of teens to save their friend, the Justice League and the world.

One of the complaints i’ve heard about the movie was that Damian came off as “whiny”. I understand this complaint, but I don’t agree with it. I personal see Damian as being incredibly depressed and just not knowing how to deal with it. He was raised as an assassin and is very good at killing, but upon becoming Robin feels he’s constantly being held back by Batman’s rules and ideals. I saw a lot of my younger self in Damian, so seeing that character learn to get over these same kind of feels I had at his age endeared me to the character more than it might have otherwise. But also like me at that age, Damian was a little prick and I totally understand why some would be put off by him.

My main issue with the film is that it felt rushed. At under 80 minuets it would have been hard not to have been, but I feel like a lot of the scenes could have used some expanding, rather than constantly moving from one plot point to the next. The creative team did pretty well with what they had, but if a 90 minuet “directors cut” ever came out I think it would help the over all film immensely. I would have liked to see more bonding and more fighting as a team rather than separately. Another thing I didn’t like: the stupid T tower. Yeah, I remember this from what little of the show I watched, and I didn’t like it then either. Sorry, it just looks dumb. But that’s nit picky.

However, in a year when we’re getting two big budget movies from both the major comic book companies where their hero’s are fighting each other, I’m kind of surprised how well this handled that same topic. I went into this thinking it would be another edgelord made grimdark film about hero’s fighting, but what I got was actually a pretty sweet film about a group of teens learning to get along andd trying to help their friends. Even when the team has to take on Superman it’s never even considered to try and hurt him too much, just do whats needed to push the demon out of him. There is once scene where superman hurts someone a little more than necessary to force out the demon in them, but it’s a minor slip up in my opinion.

And unlike in “Justice League: War”, I didn’t end up hating the characters this time. I’ve never been a fan of the Superman/Wonder Woman paring, and I still wasn’t here, but the relation ship felt real, like two people who actually care about each other. And the characterizations in War that I hated so much are no where to be seen. Wonder Woman isn’t a war hungery idiot; she even gives a feminist critique of a film she a Clark watch together, which is just so much more fitting for her character than “i’m bored waiting to meet with a world leader, lets go kill some stuff”. And Superman isn’t this snobbish ass whole who knows he can win any fight and desperate to prove that fact. While the Justice League weren’t the main focus of the film, it was nice to see the characters behaving like themselves instead of the abominations they were turned into. And as for the Teen Titans themselves go, they were all portrayed rather well. While most of the screen time was reserved for Robin and Raven, the other Titans all had their moments and came off as a likable group of teenage hero’s. They got on each others nerves, they weren’t always sure hat too do, they were quike to lose their temper and act rashly: they were kids with powers they weren’t quite ready for and the film sold me on that idea.

I’d be willing to watch more Teen Titans movies from these creators and am really considering tracking down the old cartoon. This was so much better that I thought it would be, and I am so happy to be able to say that. I’m glad that I can actually say I liked a DC project again, because it’s been a lot time since I’ve been able too.

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The Walking Dead: Michonne Extended Preview and Impressions


I’m currently working on my review for Season 2 of telltale’s Walking Dead game, and since finishing the game i’ve had one question on my mind: where’s season 3? This might not have answered that question, but it’s done enough to hold my interest. While i always felt on of the greatest strengths of this franchise was that it didn’t rely to heavily on callbacks to the comics (or the god awful TV show), i’m not bothered by a game focusing on Michonne. I stopped reading the comics shortly after her entrance (my last memorize of the comics was her getting revenge on someone with a spoon), but i always found the katana welding, zombie enslaving bad ass was a good addition to the cast. So getting some more of her is hard to argue against. I can’t lie, i want more of Clementine and her story, but a break from the childhood trauma simulator might be a nice change of pace for the franchise.

michonne

Like i said, Michonne is a bad ass

Deadpool Red Band Trailer and Impressions


Ryan Reynolds has been trying and failing (miserably) to be in a good superhero movie for a while now. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern, R.I.P.D., all awful movies the would would have been better off without. However, it seems like Reynolds may have just caught his break.

To be fair, i had little issues with Reynolds last turn as Deadpool. That unholy abomination i blame the screenwriter and director for. But now that the character is in the hands of someone who at lest knows how to pretend they’re interesting in making a good movie, i think Reynolds maybe able to actually show us what he can do with the role. And so far, i’ve liked what i’ve been seeing. I liked this trailer, i liked the test footage, i’ve liked everything so far.

I can’t lie, i’m excited for this one. But things could still go wrong. I’m not blind to that fact. This is director Tim Miller’s first big job, and having a new director brings it’s own challanges, but the screenplay team were they guys that wrote Zombieland, so unless Miller is just incompetent, i think things’ll be fine.

And, Reynolds, this is your chance to prove you’re not a screw up. Don’t let us down.

Batman v Superman Comic Con Trailer and Impressions


My Thoughts:

I was not pleased with the first trailer for this movie. If nothing else, i can say that this trailer is a vast improvement. Even if i don’t like what the movie is aiming for, this trailer at lest makes it seem that it’s going to be the best possible version of what it’s trying to be. The action scenes here all look well shot and this trailer does a much better job establishing the conflict between Batman and Superman. And thank you who ever it was that told Zack Snyder that he’s not allowed to drain all the color out this time around, you’re the true hero here.

I’m still not sold, but i am not as livid as i was. I still hate the fact that our first cinematic gathering of these two is taking so much inspiration for a Frank Miller book (real talk here: screw Frank Miller), but if that’s what it has to be, at least it’s being handled with something approaching competence.

Batman: Arkham Knight “All who Fallow you” Trailer and Impressions


My Thoughts:

Have you ever thought you wanted something, only to get it a find you didn’t really want it too begin with? Well, that’s what this trailer left me feeling. A while back i did a “What I Want In…” for “Batman: Arkham Knight” and one of the first things i said i wanted was the Batfamily. Now that i’ve seen the new look for Robin and Nightwing i kind of wish they weren’t there. The sad thing is that, other than how badly those two characters look, there’s a lot i like in this trailer. The two man take downs are a cool new idea, and i loved seeing Oracle, but then i see the stupid character designs and i just…i have to ask why? why do they look the way they do? who made these chooses?

nightwingarkham_610Why is Nightwings mask connected to his armor? Who decided that he needed to have a the same hair cut as Fallout Boy fans? Who did this?

image18Why does Robin look like he’s trying to be Phil Anselmo of Pantera? Just….whhhyyyy?

How could they get the look of Batman so right and then these two just so, so wrong? I still think this will be a good game, but these character designs just don’t sit well with me. What about you? What do you think about Robin and Nightwings new looks? Do you love them, hate them, don;t care? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Not the Writer we Need, But the Writer we Deserve: On the Topic of Frank Miller’s Batman


CDYYTFBWEAAPoHNIf you’ve read almost anything I’ve posted in regards to DC lately, then you probably already know that i’m not the biggest fan of “Dark” comics. However, DC’s constant mishandling of it’s darker direction may have led me to mislead you to thinking I just hate darker or more serious comics or superhero media in general. That’s not quite true though. I have nothing against going darker, of asking harder question. In fact, I’d say that when these stories are done right they are some of the best. Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” (along with pretty much everything the guy has done) Neil Gaimen’s “Sandman”, Garth Ennis’ “Preacher”, all dark in their own way and all among my favorite comics. But you want to know what comic creator I will never put in that list? Frank Miller. So when I heard that he would be creating a second sequel to his famed “The Dark Knight Returns” I was annoyed and angry. But the more I looked at DC’s slate of movies, the more it became clear: this is what we deserve.
Most times I can look past the artist and judge the art on it’s own terms. For example, I loath Dave Mustaine but I still think Megadeth is one of the all time great Thrash Metal Bands. Unfortunately for Miller, it’s impossible for a writer to truly separate themselves from their work. If you write a character that’s meant to be annoying, on some level you have to say “i find the traits that make up this character annoying and if you write a character meant to be cool or admirable you have to say on some level “i find the traits that make up this character to be cool or admirable”. So when Miller’s Batman is as awful as he is, calling traumatized kids “retards”…

panel

…makes that same child eat rats..

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…and wanted this to be a story about “the most pure super hero….

"we'll have to torture him" "...i'm down with that"

“we’ll have to torture him” “…i’m down with that”

Yes, this was meant to be Batman

Yes, this was meant to be Batman

yet still supposed to be the hero we don’t question, when it’s clear Miller thinks this is how a “hero” should act, what does that say about the man behind the pin?
The main issue with Millers Batman, as a character, is that he’s not Batman. He’s Rorschach from Alan Moore’s “Watchmen”, but where Moore was trying to say that this kind of violently psychotic character shouldn’t be a heroic ideal, Miller just sits there shouting “Hell Yeah! This guy’s Awesome!”. And you know what, that alone wouldn’t bother me.
What bothers me is that we are still buying it.
“The Dark Knight Returns” is kind of like my “He-Man”. I loved it when I was younger, I thought it was bad ass and edge. But time hasn’t done any favored too it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s the most poorly aged comic i’ve read, and now is just another relic of a time in comics i’m glad we moved past. Or at lest I thought we did.
But next year we are getting Batman and Superman on the same screen for the first time….and it’s Frank Millers crappy opus DC is taking inspiration from? And even though I and most fans will tell you that “The Dark Knight Returns” doesn’t hold up, and no one liked “DK2” from the get go, he’s getting another book? The only thing I can do is ask questions like “why” and who asked for this”. But I already know the answer to that.
It was us.
I can’t blame Miller for creating the art he wants to create. I have stated many times that that is the only job an artist has. And I can’t blame DC for giving him a platform. DC is a company, companies exist to make money, so if they know this will sell, why not sell it? And therein lies my issue. What does it say about us that a Frank Miller book will sell? What does it say about us that, on mass, we will forgive his sexism, homophobia and racism to the point that DC can bank most of it’s future that a movie based on his work selling?
He fact is folks, pop culture tells us a lot about who we are. The people the people that go to see action movies, were we know the violence is fake, are not the same people who went to see slaves kill each other, or watch kings beheaded. So for such an awful man to be one of the most inspirational forces in our pop culture, it doesn’t say anything good about us, does it? These are the character that are supposed to tell us what we can inspire to be, yet our idols are being molded by a madman. So what does that say about us?

Frank Miller to return to “The Dark Knight Returns”


CDYYTFBWEAAPoHN

You read that right. For the angry 13 year olds out there, you’ll be happy to hear that Frank Miller is returning to “The Dark Knight Returns” for the third time to give you more retrograde and ultraviolent stupidity that you can’t get enough of, most likly filled with Millers trade mark Racism, Sexism and Homophobia! Hooray, Warner Bros has made this Jackass relevant again! What more could you ask for? Other than…you know….good comics…

I’ll do a full write up on my fillings over this after i get past my disappointment that we let this happen.

Fantastic Four Trailer #2 and Impressions


My Thoughts:

This is the trailer Fox should have lead with. While there is still a lot about the trailer i don’t like (mostly the muted colors) i do have to say that this trailer sold me a hell of a lot better than the one that came out before. unlike the last trailer there are jokers here, there is a scene of comradery among the main cast that i like seeing in a team movie, but more importantly it made the movie seem less lifeless than before. I’m not going to lie, i’m still not sold 100% yet, but this is a vast improvement, and if we see more footage like this i may be convinced to go see the movie.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Tearer Trailer and Impressions


My Thoughts:

Other than the fact that this looks more like a Zack Snyder film than “Man of Steel” did, this is exactly what i was expecting from this trailer. Dark, joyless, and completely missing the point of Superman as a character. Where Marvel has constantly made its decisions based on what’s fun or exciting, Warner Bros./DC has been looking at comic archs that sold well, meaning way too much inspiration has been coming from mid-90’s comics and the comics that lead up to that creative dead-zone in comic book history. But as much as i can (and most likely, will) complain about this trailer, there are bits and pieces i like. Most notably the opening voice over leading too the statue of Superman with “False God” painted on its chest.

If you have to go the “dark and gritty” rout for Superman, that is an interesting enough set up. While Superman himself is always supposed to be idealization of what mankind can be, the idea of centering his main conflict on people saying to themselves “are we really okay with this being of nearly god-like power just hanging around unsupervised”? It also doesn’t hurt the film that Awesomeness Personified, Neil Degrasse Tyson himself added to the voice over.

So where does the trailer go wrong? Well, mostly it all goes back to Warner Bros/DC saying that these are all going to be super-serious films, and too me, darkness doesn’t work without light and levity. To me, dark characters (especially superheros) when that are effectively taking on sin to save innocence from doing so.

For example: in Garth Ennis’s run on “The Punisher” (one of the darkest and most violent comics i’ve read) there is a scene where Frank Castle kills the Pimp of an informant of his because the Pimp had a 14 year old as one of his girls. In an other scene Nick Furry beats a military general senseless for ordering a hit on a little girl. No Matter how bad these two men are, we are reminded that they are trying to do right for those who can’t. They become monsters so others don’t have too. That is what this trailer lacks, that is what “Man of Steel” lacked and, form all given context, that is what all of DC’s movies are going to lack: any indication that our heroes think there is something worth saving.

It also doesn’t help that Batman’s “bat-armor” helmet…thing…looked like Batman’s mask from “The Lego Movie”, but that’s a compliant for another day…

Daredevil Ep. 1-4 Mini Review


If you fallow me on Twitter then you know that last night i watched an loved the first three episodes of Netflix/Marvels “Daredevil”. After watching episode 4 today, i thought i’d give you guys a brief run down on what i think so far. i’ll do a “proper” review once i finish the season. First things first: the cast kicks ass. There has yet to be an actor (even in minor roles) that has bothered me in any way. Personally, i would say the stand outs are Charile Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson and, surprisingly Skylar Gaertner as young Matt. Normally i hate children actors (9 times out of ten if i know a child actor is one of the main cast i wont see the film), But Gaertner sells the hell out of the recently blinded Murdock, and the chemistry he shares with John Patrick Hayden (as Jack Murdock, the boys father) makes each of the “origin story”-esk flashbacks just as enjoyable as the fight scenes. Cox is also amazing at playing both Murdock and Daredevil, and who ever will be casting the next casting the next “Batman” in it’s inevitable reboot should look to Cox’s performance as the standard to be held. However, i’d say my favorite character so far is Foggy. Henson really makes the character likeable, and i found myself enjoying the him more than i thought i would like any secondary character in the show.

But in the end, this is Daredevil’s show, and like most comic book characters, the character is only as strong as their villains and the action. So how do those elements hold up? Pretty well actually. As it is with all the Marvel properties the focus is on the hero, so none of the villains are up to par with, say, The Joker, but i would say these are the best Marvel has put on screen so far. This is, in part due to how it’s a TV show and not a movie, thus we are give more time with each character. But when it’s time for the Villains to shine, they shine. The end of Episode 4 has one of the most brutal moments either Marvel or DC has shown, and i’m looking forward to when Daredevil has to face off against the man who delivers the beat down. But as anyone who has ever seen a bad action movie can tell you, great action means nothing if it’s poorly shot. Luckily for everyone the choreography and cinematography here are pretty spot on. There’s even one fight in episode 2 or 3 that reminded me of the hallway fight from “Old Boy”. While the show may not be as fun as “Guardians of the Galaxy” or as exciting as “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, over all i do hve to say that this is a nice addition of the MCU.

The Last thing that i can’t praise enough is how much diversity there is in the show. So far one of the main trio is a woman (not uncommon), another returning character is a Latina Nurse, and another reoccurring character is and African American Reporter. Both these characters are intelligent and have agency over their own actions. Even when Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temle becomes a damsel in distress, its due to her inability to let a good man suffer. She made a choose and it had consequences. While i can;t say this is a huge win for diversity in media, it’s still nice to see a version of 21st century New York that doesn’t look like a “rabbit in a snowstorm”.

Now, on to the…i don’t want to say “negatives”, but criticisms. The first is that this does feel somewhat out of place with the rest of the MCU. It’s not so much the darker tone, but the overall look of the show. Up-till now each of the Marvel films have been distinct, yet felt tied together through a somewhat uniformed look. Here, that look isn’t present, making the show feel more like it’s own thing, yes, but also making it feel less apart of the same universe. That may have been the intention, i don’t know, but how instantly i noticed it has made each wink to the rest of the continuity feel…odd.

My only other criticism is that the show, as a whole, feels like it’s trying just a tad to hard to be liked by critics. So far i think the show works, but every episode seems to be trying to say “please don’t judge me as just a superhero show”. because of this you can see some ideas of other critically acclaimed shows Frankensteining their way in this. Again, everything is working, but the need to be liked as more than just  a comic book show irritates me as a comic fan.

In the end though, i really like this show and cant wait to finish the season. What aout you? Have to started watching Daredevil yet? what did you think? leave a comment below and let me know!