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Non-Review Review: Batman – Year One

 

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

With the release of The Dark Knight Rises just around the corner, it makes sense for Warner Brothers to capitalise on one of the greatest influences on Nolan’s trilogy. Frank Miller’s take on Batman – as defined in Year One and The Dark Knight Returns – was bold, brash, clever and iconoclastic. So it’s only fair that both stories are receiving animated adaptations for Warner Brothers. While Batman: Year One might be little more than a shot-for-shot and line-by-line adaptation of Frank Miller’s origin for the Dark Knight, there’s absolutely no shame in that. Year One is perhaps my favourite Batman story, and I think it’s one certainly worth telling.

“I shall become a bat…”

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Non-Review Review: Green Lantern – Emerald Knights

In many ways, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights can be seen as a counterpart to the earlier Batman: Gotham Knight. Beyond the fact that both contain “knight” in the title, both animated films were released as promotional tie-ins to major motion pictures featuring the characters in question, and both are structured as vignettes rather than one continuous storyline. Don’t let that fool you. Unlike the incredibly uneven Gotham Knight, Emerald Knights is actually quite a worthy little movie.

Good to the Corps...

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Non-Review Review: All-Star Superman

March is Superman month here at the m0vie blog, what with the release of the animated adaptation of Grant Morrison’s superb All-Star Superman. We’ll be reviewing a Superman-related book/story arc every Wednesday this month, so check on back – and we might have a surprise or two along the way.

From the outset, it’s immediately clear that All-Star Superman is immensely faithful to the twelve-issue miniseries that inspired it. There are a few key deviations from Morrison’s core text – some of which were made simply to save time or money, but others which are interesting of themselves. Still, this is pretty much as direct an adaptation as we are ever likely to receive – right down to the eight-word introduction (intercut here with the opening action sequence), the power of the origin distilled down to its core attributes. So the movie, based on perhaps the finest Superman story ever told, obviously has a lot of power drawn from its roots – but one has to wonder what the real point of making an animated feature of it ever was.

Shine on...

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Batman Beyond: Out of the Past (Review)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. This is the last post of the week, and so I thought I should focus on where it all started, with the animated Bruce Wayne.

I don’t think Batman Beyond gets the credit that it so sorely deserves. It was really the first time that it was explicitly acknowledged that Bruce Wayne couldn’t be Batman forever – that, unlike so many other members of the DC pantheon, the character was a mere mortal who would pass away and that he couldn’t wear the cowl forever. The animated television show was the first to wonder what would happen to the concept of Batman, if Bruce couldn’t do it anymore. Would the hero die out and fade from memory? Or would he live on, somehow, enduring forever?

Batman always was a showman…

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Batman Beyond: The Call (Parts I & II)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. This review/retrospective was meant to go out over a week ago, when I looked at Justice League: New Frontier, but unfortunately my package was delayed in the mail. However, I thought it might be worth a look back at the first time we saw a Justice League in the DC animated universe.

It seems that Bruce Timm and his staff of writers had considerable advanced notice that they’d be working on a Justice League cartoon show. The last season of Superman: The Animated Series contained animated introductions of characters like the Green Lantern in In Brightest Day and the Flash in Speed Demons. However, the introduction of the Justice League as a concept, a team of superheroes working for the greater good, came in Batman Beyond of all places. Portraying the distant future of the animated universe after Batman retired, it proved an interesting way to look at the team without getting too involved in the personalities involved.

Batman goes Beyond the call of duty...

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Justice League Unlimited – For the Man Who Has Everything

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. We’re winding down now, having worked our way through the nine animated features, so I’m just going to look at a few odds-and-ends, some of the more interesting or important episodes that the DC animated universe has produced. The one adaptation of his work Alan Moore is actually happy with is well worth a look.

Van, when you were born, it was the happiest day of my life. When I first saw your beautiful little face, your tiny fingers squeezed my hand so tight, like you never wanted to let go. I’ve watched every step, every struggle…I-I’ve… but, Van… Oh, Rao help me… but I don’t think you’re real. I don’t think any of this is-is real…

– Superman confronts the fact that none of this is real

Alan Moore is one of the best comic book writers out there – and he’s perhaps the greatest writer ever to work with the character of Superman. Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? is an oft-referenced fond farewell to the Silver Age Superman (which prompted a similar storyline for Batman with Neil Gaiman’s Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? in the wake of the character’s recent “death”), but I’ve always preferred his one-shot story For The Man Who Has Everything. Adapted into animated form as one of the first episodes of the relaunched Justice League Unlimited series.

Super-dad!

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Batman: The Animated Series – Robin’s Reckoning (Parts I & II)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. We’re winding down now, having worked our way through the nine animated features, so I’m just going to look at a few odds-and-ends, some of the more interesting or important episodes that the DC animated universe has produced. An Emmy-award-winning episode seems a reasonable place to start.

I know the logic. Robin shouldn’t work in the context of Batman, unless you’re veering into camp. Somehow, a teenager in green short-shorts with a yellow cape manages the near-impossible feat of making a grown man who dresses up like a bat look even more ridiculous. To feature Robin in film or animation is to invite insane volumes of camp – think of Adam West’s Batman! or Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin. However, for some reason, Batman: The Animated Series mostly got the balance right somehow. So much so that the belated Robin “origin” story, Robin’s Reckoning, picked up the Emmy in 1993 for outstanding animated programming, somehow beating The Simpsons. These two episodes are on the shortlist of the best episodes of the series, and – thus – amongst the best animated episodes ever made.

Robin steps up to Bat...

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