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Batman – Year Two (Review/Retrospective)

23rd July is Batman Day, celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. To celebrate, this July we’re taking a look at some new and classic Batman (and Batman related) stories. Check back daily for the latest review.

Batman: Year Two is an… interesting read. It’s much-maligned by comic book fans, and there are a lot of reasons for that. Most obviously there’s the fact that it really doesn’t make a lot of sense, but there’s also the fact that it was published by DC as a way of capitalising on the success of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One. Year One is a classic comic book story, one of the greatest origins ever written, and one that endures to this day, where even Scott Snyder felt intimidated in writing over it more than two decades after it was published.

Batman: Year Two is not that sort of classic.

In fact, it’s not any sort of classic. However, divorced from context, it’s an interesting read. It feels like writer Mike W. Barr is consciously and gleefully subverting absolutely everything that worked so well in Miller’s Batman: Year One, rejecting the notion of a version of Batman anchored in something approaching the real world, and getting right down to the comic-book-y-ness of the character. Positioning it as a sequel to Batman: Year One feels odd. It would almost read better as a rebuke.

Welcome to the late eighties...

Welcome to the late eighties…

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Daredevil: End of Days (Review)

To celebrate the release of Thor: The Dark World towards the end of next month, we’ll be looking at some Thor and Avenger-related comics throughout September. Check back weekly for the latest reviews and retrospectives.

The Dark Knight Returns casts a pretty long shadow. In many ways, the definitive work from writer and artist Frank Miller, and – along with Watchmen – one of the books that singularly defined mainstream comics. Written by a superstar team of former Daredevil writers and artists – and a slew of in-jokes and references to a rake of others – End of Days can’t help but stand in that shadow.

The Dark Knight Returns gave us a look at a retired Bruce Wayne donning the cape and cowl once again. End of Days has a similar set-up, beginning immediately following the murder of Daredevil by his arch-foe Bullseye, and allowing us to watch the investigation conducted by dogged reporter Ben Ulrich.

This is the end...

This is the end…

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Non-Review Review: We’re the Millers

We’re the Millers is a fairly humorous premise extended well past breaking point. The basic set-up (a bunch of strangers pretend to be a family to smuggle drugs into the United States) is a solid enough starting point for a comedy, but We’re the Millers often feels like it’s running on fumes trying to stretch the gag out. There are long lulls of the film where nothing seems to happen, and entire subplots that seem grafted in simply to eat up precious minutes. Does the film really need a teenage romance subplot?

We’re the Millers has a few hilarious moments, and Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston have enough charm that it’s never too painful to watch, but the film’s extended runtime means that its cynical premise can only maintain its wry thrust for so long before it’s brought down to Earth by the oppressive weight of sentimentality. For a film that starts out cheeky and subversive, the movie meanders into sappy and cheesy territory with considerable speed.

Family fun...

Family fun…

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Non-Review Review: The Dark Knight Returns, Part II

To celebrate the release of The Man of Steel this month, we’re going Superman mad. Check back daily for Superman-related reviews.

The Dark Knight Returns is pretty much the classic Batman story, even more than Year One from the same author. It’s the story which – for better or worse – defined a lot of what we take for granted about Batman as a character today. So it makes sense that there would be an animated adaptation. And I respect the decision to split the story across two seventy-odd minute instalments, creating a two-part movie which still runs significantly shorter than Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

Adapting Miller’s story from print was always going to be a tough proposition. After all, Miller’s comic isn’t just one of the defining Batman stories, it’s a turning point in mainstream comics. Transferring it from its home medium was always going to be tough. Still, the production team working on The Dark Knight Returns, Part II acquit themselves well in offering a satisfying take on a classic tale.

It's the Batman!

It’s the Batman!

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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Haven (Review)

To celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and also next year’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, I’m taking a look at the recent blu ray release of the first season, episode-by-episode. Check back daily for the latest review.

Haven is… not as terrible as I thought it would be. There have been select episodes I’ve been dreading on my re-watch of this awkward first season. I was right to fear Code of Honour. I had perhaps been a tiny bit too harsh on The Naked Now. I am quaking at the prospect of watching Angel One and Too Short a Season again. However, Haven wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared that it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s filled with plot holes and it is as dull as anything, but it’s not actively that bad. If it sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, then I probably am.

Safe Haven?

Safe Haven?

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Batman and the Monster Men (Review)

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.

I really liked both of Matt Wagner’s Dark Moon Rising miniseries, offering a modern retelling of two classic Golden Age Batman stories, fit within the context of the Caped Crusader’s early career. I honestly don’t think that we get enough Golden Age nostalgia within DC comics – the focus of the recent wave of revisionism seems to have been the decidedly wacky and zany Silver Age. Still, between this and Grant Morrison’s Action Comics, perhaps we can start a trend. This is a story transitioning between Frank Miller’s iconic Batman: Year One and Jeph Loeb’s slightly more colourful The Long Halloween, built on the idea that Batman inhabits a comic book world – too much “realism” or too heavy a focus on “gritty urban crime” might rob the character of some of his appeal.

He sure knows how to make an entrance…

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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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