Archive for Robin

Batman vs. Robin

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

When Batman finds himself under attack by his own son, Damian (Robin), he at first suspects the hand of Ra’s Al Ghul behind the treachery, but then comes to see that the boy may be controlled by a mysterious and murderous society known as the Court of Owls.

What people are saying:

“More a mash-up of two of the most highly regarded Batman stories in the last 20 years than its title implies it stands alongside the best efforts of Warner Bros. Animated.” 4 1/2 stars

“This could of been the next red hood movie, if they would of stuck to just one story, but instead they shove all these storys all together instead of focusing on batman and the owls. Court of owls /night of the owls was a great stoty and would of been fine on its own, but they just shoved all these other plots in and it just didn’t work. They even took some of the best scenes from the book and cheapened them, like making that intense amazing maze part of the story and turning into a quick drugged dream thing.” 1 star

“The story itself was good, not the best but not the worst I’ve seen. The kid was just annoying at first, but it got better as the story progressed. I do think it could have been a lot better, the storyline they used had more potential but it wasn’t bad. As far as content. Definitely not for kids, I wouldn’t even say 13 and up, i’d say older. Lots of blood, violence, even a straight up massacre. Some of the language and the sexual content was unnecessary so be aware of that if you are looking at this for children. ” 3 stars

“The anticipation of the eventual fight between Batman and Robin is palpable. With all the talented voice actors bringing in realism of the character’s conflicts, it’s hard not to enjoy.” 4 stars

“Not good, this is actually a terrible adaptation of the court of owls comic storyline. The way they reworked it with Damian Wayne was just terrible, and the story line goes out of its way to make batman seem incompetent. It would have been better if they had just straight up done a court of owls animated movie and skipped out the son of batman stuff for two reasons. The first being the aforementioned batman incompetence like batman sending a ten year old boy into the wilderness on his own, stupid, or robin solving the doll maker crime before batman, lame. Then of course the second being that Damien is the most annoyingly pig headed, and truly unsavory robins ever created, plainly put he’s just unlikable and really petulant through the whole film. Spent the hour and twenty minutes on count down waiting for the torture to end.” 1 star

Son of Batman

Posted in Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At the headquarters of the League of Assassins, Ra’s al Ghul grooms Damian Wayne (son of his daughter, Talia, and Batman) to succeed him as head of the league. The league is attacked by a group of assassins led by Slade Wilson, Ra’s al Ghul’s initial choice for successor before Ra’s met Batman. Feeling betrayed, Slade decided to seize power. During the battle Ra’s is fatally wounded, dying before he reaches the Lazarus Pit. Although Damian stabs Slade in the eye, Slade escapes. Talia takes Damian to Gotham City to protect him.

In Gotham City, Batman confronts Killer Croc, whom Talia subdues. She tells Batman about her father’s death and leaves their son in his care. Although Damian wants to avenge Ra’s al Ghul by killing Slade, Batman objects. Slade, now calling himself Deathstroke, captures Dr. Kirk Langstrom and his family to force him to recreate the Man-Bat formula. Batman follows a lead about the formula’s mutagen to Langstrom’s apartment, where he finds evidence of Deathstroke’s involvement. Talia is captured by Deathstroke when she attacks him.

Against Batman’s orders, Damian leaves the Batcave and defeats one of Deathstroke’s men. Before Damian kills him, Nightwing arrives, mistakes him for a criminal and subdues him before bringing him back to the Batcave. Batman berates Damian for his recklessness, willingness to kill and exposure of their operation, and makes him Robin to teach him discipline. Commissioner Gordon warns them about an abandoned stadium believed to house Deathstroke’s men.

At the stadium, Batman and Damian question Langstrom but are attacked when Damian becomes violent. In the cave, Langstrom reveals Deathstroke’s plan to create superhuman, flight-capable assassins. While Nightwing works with Langstrom on an antidote, Batman and Damian rescue his family. Batman guesses that Talia has been abducted when he finds evidence of torture in an empty cell, but is unaware that Deathstroke challenged Damian to a duel in exchange for Talia’s life.

Nightwing learns that Deathstroke is operating in an oil rig off the United Kingdom coast, and when Batman is distracted Damian goes to the rig. He finds Deathstroke and Talia in an underwater base with a swarm of Man-Bats and another Lazarus Pit, whose fluid Deathstroke intends to sell. Damian pulls a gun on Deathstroke, who holds one against Talia’s head. Damian drops his gun; Deathstroke fires at him, but Talia jumps out and takes the shot. As Deathstroke corners Damian, Batman appears and the Man-Bats attack. Batman wards them off with sonar-emitting devices, and Deathstroke flees.

Batman takes Talia into the Lazarus Pit, while Nightwing and Langstrom reach the oil rig and cure the Man-Bats. Damian defeats Deathstroke, refusing to kill him because he is his father’s son. The elevator from the rig to the underwater base is destroyed, flooding the base. Batman, Talia and Damian escape, but Deathstroke is left behind. Batman and Talia argue over Damian. She decides to let him care for their son, and leaves with the League of Assassins

REVIEW:

Anybody that knows anything about Batman knows of his sidekick, Robin (at least one version of him), but what about his son, Damian? Didn’t know Batman had a son, did you? Well, don’t feel bad because Damian is a more recent addition. Son of Batman, the next cog in the DC Animated Universe introduces us to the lad, but how is the film?

What is this about?

Hidden atop a secret mountain lies the League of Shadows and its fearless leader, Ra’s al Ghul. Together with his daughter Talia, he oversees a trained army of assassins bent on global domination. But an uprising from within threatens to shift the balance of power and sends Talia and her young son, Damian, fleeing to Gotham City. Talia seeks the protection of Batman, who, unbeknownst to him, is the boy’s father. With his son in tow, Batman wages war against the villain Deathstroke and the League of Shadows.

What did I like?

Talia. Chances are if you’re reading this, then you are quite away of Batman’s rogues gallery, or you may recognize the name from The Dark Knight Rises where she was played by Marion Cotiliard. Talia has been a favorite character of mine, following 40s era Catwoman (where she wore the purple dress with a slit down both sides) and tied with a lesser known character, Nocturna. Now that we are getting more and more of Talia is a good thing, especially when she is portrayed as a badass assassin. Last night, I watched the premier of Agent Carter and one of my friends, who is a feminist, made a big deal about female representation. To that, I say whatever! A badass character is a badass character, no matter the sex.

Father/son. Way back when Bruce Wayne took Dick Grayson as his ward, he wasn’t exactly thrilled about the prospect, but over time, as well know, that relationship changed. Since then, there have been at least 2 other Robins, maybe 4, I’m not 100% sure, all of which have gone through a similar tumultuous relationship with the Batman. Now, enter the “blood heir” and you can just imagine how Bruce reacts. The reaction shows is exactly what you would expect from Batman, stoic and calculating. It is the relationship and interactions that take place from that point on that make this such an interesting part of the film. While there are no Ward Cleaver father-type moments, Bruce does show his parenting skills by putting his foot down. Hey, this isn’t the guy’s first rodeo. He has raised a few wards, remember?

Not for kids. If you are thinking this is a kid-friendly animated feature similar to the animated series we all bow down to, then you are sadly mistaken. The opening scene, which is full of blood splatters, violent deaths, a decapitation, and a vicious eye poke, as well as the burning death of Ra’s al Ghul, tells you that this is for a more mature audience. Hey, I’m all for a lighter Batman. Batman: The Brave and the Bold was my favorite animated series since the 90s cartoon, but every now and then, I like a darker, more mature animated film, and that is what we get with this film.

What didn’t I like?

Hint at a rivalry. As I alluded to earlier, Damian is the “blood heir” to Bruce Wayne, as he makes sure to let Dick Grayson know. Here’s the thing, Dick has long been a kindred spirit for Batman, as they both lost their parents, but now Damian shows up and is an actual blood relative. I don’t need to tell you that the rivalry between the two of them is fierce. Well, it should be, but the film teases us with it…twice! First is when Nightwing stops Damian from killing someone. They apparently fight, and by the looks of it after the cutaway, it was a slobber knocker. The second is in the Batcave when Damian tells Dick he’s Bruce’s heir and wants to be Robin. For time purposes, I understand that this couldn’t have been fleshed out some more, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing it had. These two just need to fight to the death and get it over with, hopefully with Dick winning.

Damian. Kids today are just brats. Ungrateful, disrespectful, brats. Damian is no different, except you throw in that he was raised in affluence and then dropped off with his rich and powerful father, and that is sure to not change his outlook on things. Did I mention the kid is named Damian? Do I really need to bring up a certain movie child with the name Damian and what he did?!?

The voice. Kevin Conroy seriously needs to come back and voice Batman again. Hey, Peter Cullen is still doing Optimus Prime and Frank Welker is Megatron everywhere except the movies, so why can’t Conroy be Bats? If not him, then give us Bruce Greenwood, who voiced him in the unceremoniously cancelled (because of too many female fans, I kid you not!) Young Justice, because Jason O’Mara is just there. O’Mara is ok with his reading, but he sounds like he is trying to find a balance between Conroy and what Christian Bale brought to the character, which may be his downfall. When/if he ever finds his own voice for Batman, then I think I can get behind him, but until then, I want Conroy, Greenwood, or someone else to be given a chance.

I haven’t read the graphic novel that this film comes from, but I do know that some things were changed and some characters omitted, such as the current Robin, Tim Drake, but I won’t get into that. Son of Batman showed great promise. The action is tight, Talia is definite animated eye candy (why else would they have her jumpsuit zipped down so low?), and we get a good Batman story. On the flipside, though, this isn’t one of the best we’ve seen from DC. The animation continues to have that wannabe anime feel that doesn’t gel with me for whatever reason. Also, Batman doesn’t make jokes!!!! All this aside, though, I think this is a solid enough film that would be worth your time, so give it a shot, sometime.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Revisted: Batman (1966)

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

When Batman (West) and Robin (Ward) get a tip that Commodore Schmidlapp (Reginald Denny) is in danger aboard his yacht, they launch a rescue mission using the Batcopter. As Batman descends on the Bat-ladder to land on the yacht it suddenly vanishes beneath him. He rises out of the sea with a shark attacking his leg. After Batman dislodges it with Bat-shark repellant, the shark explodes. Batman and Robin head back to Commissioner Gordon’s office, where they deduce that the tip was a set-up by the United Underworld, a gathering of four of the most powerful villains in Gotham City (Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman).

The United Underworld equip themselves with a dehydrator that can turn humans into dust (an invention of Commodore Schmidlapp, who is unaware he has been kidnapped), a Submarine made to resemble a penguin, and their three pirate henchmen (Bluebeard, Morgan and Quetch). It is revealed the yacht was really a projection. When The Dynamic Duo return to a buoy concealing a projector, they are trapped on the buoy by a magnet and targeted by torpedoes. They use a radio-detonator to destroy two of the missiles, and a porpoise sacrifices itself to intercept the last one. Catwoman, disguised as Soviet journalist “Miss Kitka”, helps the group kidnap Bruce Wayne and pretends to be kidnapped with him, as part of a plot to lure Batman and finish him off with another of Penguin’s explosive animals (not knowing that Wayne is Batman’s alter-ego). After Wayne escapes captivity, Penguin disguises himself as the Commodore and schemes his way into the Batcave along with five dehydrated henchmen. This plan fails when the henchmen unexpectedly disappear into Antimatter once struck: Penguin mistakenly rehydrated them with heavy water contaminated with radioactive waste, as it was regularly used to recharge the Batcave’s atomic pile.

Ultimately the Duo are unable to prevent the kidnapping of the dehydrated United World Organization’s Security Council. Giving chase in the Batboat to retrieve them (and Miss Kitka, presumed by the duo as still captive), Robin uses a sonic charge weapon to disable Penguin’s submarine and force it to surface, where a fist fight ensues. Although Batman and Robin win the fight, Batman is heartbroken to find out that his “true love” Miss Kitka is actually Catwoman when her mask falls off. Commodore Schmidlapp accidentally breaks the vials containing the powdered Council members, mixing them together.

Batman sets to work, constructing an elaborate filter to separate the mingled dust. Robin asks him whether it might be in the world’s best interests for them to alter the dust samples, so that humans can no longer harm one another. In response, Batman says that they cannot do so, reminding Robin of the fate of Penguin’s henchmen and their tainted rehydration, and can only hope for people in general to learn to live together peacefully on their own.

With the world watching, the Security Council is re-hydrated. All of the members are restored alive and well, continuing to squabble among themselves and totally oblivious of their surroundings, but each of them now speaks the language and displays the stereotypical mannerisms of a nation other than their own. Batman quietly expresses his sincere hope to Robin that this “mixing of minds” does more good than it does harm. The duo quietly leave United World Headquarters by climbing out of the window.

REVIEW:

I think I am in the minority of people who doesn’t bow down and lick the feet of Christopher Nolan for what he did for the Batman franchise. As a matter of fact, I’m not really a fan of his trilogy. My favorite Batman film is actually Batman (1989). That being kept in mind, it seems that everyone likes to forget the campy 60s Batman. Yes, Batman is a brooding bully now, but there was a time when he was actually a fun guy. The 60s show may not have gotten many cannon things right, but it sure is fun to watch, and Batman (1966) should follow suit.

What is this about?

In director Leslie H. Martinson’s campy action comedy based on the tongue-in-cheek 1960s TV series, Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) battle sharks, Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith) and The Riddler (Frank Gorshin) on the big screen. Can they keep the bad guys from taking over the world? With a “wham!” and a “pow!” the heroes just might pull it off — and maintain their secret identities.

What did I like?

Tone. In this day and age, everything is dark and moody, so it is nice to go back and experience a much lighter time. Seeing Batman fight crime using a lighter tone is a nice departure. Don’t get me wrong, as soon as I finish this review, I’m sure to go kick some ass with Batman in Arkham City, (don’t have Arkham Origins, yet), but it is just nice to switch things up once in a while, and the fact that everything is labeled is just priceless!

Nefarious plot. In any other version of Batman, this plot might have actually been a threat to the Dark Knight, especially when you consider it is being plotted by his 3 biggest enemies and a Catwoman who leans more toward the villainous side. Exploding shark aside, of course. You can’t tell me that nuclear missiles and dehydration aren’t a threat, especially in the hands of these madmen!

Showtime. I’ve noticed that many shows when turned into full-length motion pictures somehow manage to lose everything that makes them special. Why do they that? There is a reason that your show became a film and to change those reasons negates everything. Luckily, these producers were smart enough to not change a thing about the show that had quite a following, and still does, though I do think we could have done with more of the Biff! Pow! Zwap! fights.

What didn’t I like?

Catwoman. I won’t say that Lee Meriwether was a bad Catwoman, but she’s no Eartha Kitt or Julie Newmar. Her Catwoman had no life, and I wonder if she was chosen just because she did such a good Russian accent. For those wondering, Newmar had an accident on another film she was filming before this was set to start. Not really sure why they didn’t just go back to Eartha Kitt, though. Hell, the makeup lady could have been a better Catwoman that Meriwether turned out to be.

Oblivious. The delegates at the World Security Organization (the equivalent to the UN) are constantly arguing. Big surprise there, right? Well, as they are getting dehydrated one by one, they continue arguing, even when it is down to just one man. Don’t ask me why he was arguing with, but he was still arguing. Now, I suspend disbelief many times, but this was a bit much for me, especially since they all turned into different brightly colored piles of dust.

Masks. This is a very small thing, but when you see it, you’ll also say WTF?!? In the final caper for our fearsome foursome, they enter the World Security Headquarters all wearing masks. Now, for Catwoman (who I’m not even 100% sure was there) and Riddler, this is a normal occurrence, but for the Penguin and Joker, one must wonder why? First of all they are highly recognizable and second, they just don’t look right in them. What went into the thought process of putting them in masks, I wonder?

Batman may not be the best films starring the Dark Knight, and it may not even be the best adaptation of the character, but it is good fun. As I said before, it is a nice change of pace from what we’re used to. Batman is an ever evolving character. He wasn’t always the dark, brooding presence we know today. For those that insist on forgetting this part of his history, you more than likely have already made up your mind about this film. For the rest of us with open minds, I think you’ll enjoy this film for what it is, a campy film that is a reward for Batman’s hard work on the small screen. Give it a shot some time. I highly recommend it!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, part II

Posted in Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2013 by Mystery Man

Batman the Dark Knight Returns part II

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Feigning regret for his past, Joker convinces Wolper to take him on a talk show to tell his story; he makes plans for his escape with his old henchman who supplies him with mind-controlling lipstick. Meanwhile, Superman — who works as a government operative in exchange for being allowed to covertly help people — is asked by the President to end Batman’s vigilantism. Framing these events is a growing hostility between the USA and the Soviet Union over possession of the island of Corto Maltese.

As Batman’s continued presence humiliates the national authorities, Yindel becomes commissioner and orders Batman’s arrest. Superman warns Batman that the government will not tolerate him much longer. Joker makes his talk show appearance as Batman fights with the GCPD on the studio roof; while they fight, Joker kills Wolper and gasses everyone in the studio to death and escapes. He finds Selina Kyle and uses one of her escorts and his lipstick to take control of a congressman and make him call for a nuclear strike on the Soviets before falling to his death.

Batman’s investigation leads him to Kyle, who he finds bound and dressed like Wonder Woman. Kelley notices cotton candy on the floor and Batman deduces Joker is at the fairgrounds. There, Kelley accidentally kills Joker’s attacking henchman while Batman pursues the Joker, who indiscriminately guns down dozens of people. As Batman corners a wounded and partially blinded Joker, he admits to feeling responsible for every murder Joker has committed and intends to stop him permanently. The pair fight, which ends in Batman being stabbed repeatedly and him breaking Joker’s neck in front of witnesses. Content that he made Batman lose control and that he will be branded a murderer, the Joker finishes twisting his neck, killing himself. The GCPD arrive and the profusely bleeding Batman fights his way to Kelley and escapes as the Joker’s body burns in flames.

After Superman deflects a Soviet nuclear missile, he is hit with the blast and badly injured; the detonation creates an electromagnetic pulse that wipes out all electrical equipment in the United States and causes a nuclear winter. As the city descends into chaos, Batman, Kelley, and Gordon rally the Sons of Batman and the citizens of Gotham to restore order, and Yindel accepts that Batman has become too powerful to take down. While the rest of the powerless U.S. is overrun with crime, Gotham becomes the safest city in America, embarrassing the President’s administration and causing them to send Superman to finally stop Batman; Batman and Superman agree to meet in Crime Alley. Wearing a powerful exoframe and supported by Kelley and former Green Arrow Oliver Queen, Batman fights Superman, using various tactics to make the fight even. When Superman gains the advantage, Queen hits him with a Kryptonite arrow that severely weakens him. Batman beats Superman and claims that he intentionally made the Kryptonite weak, only wanting to be the man who beat Superman. Batman then dies of a heart attack while Wayne Manor self-destructs and Alfred dies of a stroke.

In the aftermath, the world learns that Wayne was Batman; all of his secrets are destroyed with the manor and his finances have disappeared. As Superman leaves Wayne’s funeral he gives Kelley a knowing wink after noticing a faint heartbeat. In underground caves, Wayne is revealed to have faked his death, and makes preparations to continue his mission more discretely, allied with Kelley, Queen, and his followers. Wayne states that this will be a good life, “good enough.”

REVIEW:

Continuing with this dark story of what Batman would be like as grumpy old man, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt. II brings us some familiar characters like the Joker, Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), and Superman. Are they as jaded as Bats? How have they held up over time? What about the characters we were introduced to in the first part? Do all of these questions get answered?

What is this about?

Along with new sidekick Robin, the Dark Knight has reclaimed Gotham City, but his return has awakened a terrible new – yet familiar – threat. The Joker has resurfaced with an evil plot that may pull Batman down to the darkest levels of insanity.

What did I like?

Classic Batman. In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt I, Batman didn’t feel like Batman, even in the climactic fight scenes, but in this one we get more of the brute detective that has made the character such a lasting one. He dons disguises, beats up the bad guys, mentors Robin, and even throws out a few one-liners. In other words, this Batman is a mixture of all the incarnations. Whether you’re a fan of the kitschy 60s Batman or the more realistic one of the Nolan films, you’re sure to enjoy this take on the character.

Superman. Not since the Superman cartoons of the 90s have I seen a Superman that brings to the screen everything we have come to love about him. While I would have loved for Tim Daly to have provided his voice, I had no issue with the guy who did, his name escapes me at the moment, though. The invincible boy scout, as he tends to be portrayed when paired with Batman, appears to be a government weapon, but this is a dark alternative timeline, so it makes sense. I’m just glad they didn’t try to turn him into something he isn’t (my big fear with the upcoming Man of Steel).

What didn’t I like?

Character design. I believe I said this in my review for part I, but I am not a fan with the way the characters are designed. It isn’t as bad this go around, but that may have something to do with getting used to the style. Still, the Joker should never, ever be the size of a linebacker. It appears as if he hasn’t really aged, so there is no so-called age-weight on him, plus he’s been in a catatonic state all this time, so why does he look like he’s been hitting the gym?

Selina. Bringing in Selina Kyle wasn’t a big deal, but Joker randomly puts her in a Wonder Woman costume. Two issues with this. She’s Catwoman! Why not put her back in one those outfits? Second, what does Wonder Woman have to do with anything? She wasn’t even mentioned! Unless there is some reference in the graphic novel that leads up to this, there was no reasoning to put her in this get up!

Pose. Speaking of strange costumes, when we first see Superman talking to Bruce Wayne they are out horse riding. First off, last time I saw Bruce riding horses he was doing his playboy thing. Doesn’t necessarily seem like the thing to do with a friend/associate. That isn’t my qualm, though. Throughout this whole scene Superman/Clark Kent is doing his best Fabio impersonation, complete with eagle on his arm. I don’t know if this was meant for some kind of comic effect or not, but it seems out-of-place and unnecessary.

Joker. The Joker didn’t feel like the Joker to me. I said this about Heath Ledger’s version of him in The Dark Knight, too. As much as I didn’t like that wild man version in The Batman, at least he had a Joker-type feel. This version was too serious for my taste. Much of that may have had something to do with the voice they gave him. The voice didn’t match the character.

Critics have been lauding Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt II as one of the best Batman films ever made. I don’t see it that way. Truth be told, there isn’t anything that terribly special about this. This time tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll have forgotten most of what I just saw. That may come off as a bit harsh, but that’s the way I saw it, sorry. Still, I suppose if you’re into Batman enough to check out this film, you’re sure to like it, at least, so check it out!

3 out of 5 stars

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt. I

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a dystopian near-future version of Gotham City, 55-year-old Bruce Wayne has retired from being Batman following the death of his former sidekick, Jason Todd. Criminals now run amok and the city is constantly terrorized by a gang known as the Mutants. Bruce Wayne is now something of a recluse, despite his continuous philanthropic endeavors and friendship with Commissioner James Gordon (who now knows Bruce’s former identity as Batman).

The escalating brutality of the Mutants prompts Bruce to take up the mantle of Batman again, but the public opinion over Batman and his methods is sharply divided. While the public generally approve of Batman’s return, richer and more powerful people such as the unnamed Mayor of Gotham City and Dr. Bartholomew Wolper (head psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum) brand Batman as a fascist. Bruce’s old friend Harvey Dent (formerly Two-Face) undergoes plastic surgery and his face is repaired but at the high cost of eradicating Dent’s good side forever. Batman confronts Two-Face and stops him from holding the city ransom with a bomb.

Inspired by Batman’s actions, 13-year-old girl Carrie Kelley buys herself a Robin costume and searches for Batman to aid him. She finds him at the city dump where the Mutant gang is gathering. Onboard a tank-like Batmobile, Batman defeats most of the gang (shooting them with rubber bullets) before confronting the Mutant Leader in hand to hand combat where he is overpowered, but Kelley distracts the Leader long enough for Batman to subdue him. She then rescues the injured Batman and tends to his wounds as the vehicle drives toward the Batcave while the Mutant Leader is apprehended by the police. Once home, Batman takes Carrie on as the new Robin despite the objections of his butler Alfred Pennyworth. Batman instructs Carrie to disguise herself as a Mutant and spread the word of a meeting at Gotham Pipe starting with Mutant members Rob and Don. Batman also arranges the Mutant Leader’s escape from Gotham City Police Headquarters.

At Gotham City Police Headquarters, the Mayor attempts to negotiate with the Mutant Leader in his cell, but the Mutant Leader brutally mauls him to death. Gordon then “accidentally” allows the Leader out of his cell and he makes his way through the ventilation system leading him to Gotham Pipe where he finds his entire army waiting. Batman appears and engages the Mutant Leader in battle again. Only this time, Batman manages to outsmart the Leader’s moves and eventually subdues him, breaking several of his bones in front of his army. Accepting defeat, the Mutants disband where some of them form smaller gangs while the others were arrested by the police. One gang in particular operates under the name of “The Sons of Batman” where they work to purge Gotham of crime with questionable methods.

Batman’s return and victory over the Mutants becomes public news. Following the death of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor Stevenson has been sworn in as the new Mayor of Gotham City. Nearing retirement, Gordon meets with his successor Police Captain Ellen Yindel who also voices her doubts over Batman’s methods. Meanwhile in Arkham Asylum, a catatonic patient sees a report about Batman on the news and gives off a disturbing grin

REVIEW:

Batman has long been portrayed as a dark, brooding antihero, with the exception of the time of the Dick Grayson Robin. Have you ever wondered what it would be like in the future when Batman was a bitter, old man and crime in Gotham City and crime had taken a new form of criminal? Well, that is what Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt. I brings to the table.

What is this about?

In this animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 55-year-old Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement to protect Gotham and face both the Joker and a battalion of new foes. But does he still have what it takes to be the Caped Crusader?

What did I like?

Show some love. While watching this, I could really see and feel that the artists and animators really had some love for the source material. In many other comic adaptations, so much is changed that one can hardly tell that it is the same story anymore. The fact that they chose to keep it as close to the source material as possible earns major kudos from me and I hope that future comic book films, both animated and live-action, take note.

Ratchet. I won’t lie and say this film is nothing but action from start to finish. As a matter of fact, there are more scenes on non-action, but when we do get some kick butt scenes, it is totally worth it. This group of animators make it feel like a live action film, which is something that we really haven’t seen in this medium, to date.

Robin. Think about all the Robins we have seen in every incarnation of Batman. Obviously, there is the Dick Grayson Robin, occasionally we get the Tim Drake Robin, and I think there are a one or two versions that actually use Jason Todd, but when have we seen the female Robin? Sure she isn’t the most popular character, but in this day when heaven forbid there not be a strong female influence, it is good to see her.

What didn’t I like?

Animation. I cannot say that I was a fan of the way these characters were animated. It isn’t as if they were bad, but rather not my cup of tea. I long for the days of the immaculate animation of Batman: The Animated Series. Back then everything was hand drawn and not so reliant on computers. There are moments in this flick that are obviously done strictly by computers which, at least for me, is offensive. Can no one draw by hand anymore?!?

Voice acting. Let’s get this out of the way right now. No one is going to live up to Kevin Conroy’s Batman. There is a reason they brought him back from the latest video games. Peter Weller didn’t sell Batman for me. I actually felt he was more human back in his Robocop days, which is pretty sad when you think about it.

Spirit. While this flick does manage to stick as close to the source material as possible, I didn’t feel it conveyed the different tone of this alternate future. It definitely didn’t portray the mutants as a major threat, as they actually are, save for the leader, and even that was nothing more than a way to justify breaking this up into two films.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, pt. I is just another dark Batman flick that, personally, I am growing weary of. It has plenty of moments that are worth watching, but I’m not so sure it would be worth buying, let alone justifying that this had to be split up into two films. I guess that is a query that will be answered next year when part 2 is released. In the meantime, check this out if you’re a Batman fan.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

 

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A new hero has arrived in Gotham whose identity is a mystery—even to Batman. During patrol, the Dynamic Duo spots her trying to stop one of Penguin’s shipments on Gotham’s interstate and apparently would use lethal force after seeing her using a plasma rifle sending Penguin’s truck with its driver off the bridge. Batman and Robin saves the driver from falling to his death. Batman must figure out who Batwoman is and to stop familiar enemies Penguin and Rupert Thorne from selling illegal weapons to the fictional nation of Kasnia. The two employ Carlton Duquesne, a gangster, to provide protection.

Batwoman’s main focus is on illegal activity by the Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne. Despite taking the symbol of the Bat as a sign of justice, Batwoman sullies the Bat prefix by taking out criminals with ruthless and dangerous techniques. She seems uninterested in sparing the lives of her adversaries.

Batman, with Robin, sets out to stop the Batwoman from making mistakes as she tries to take out the villains, and as he encounters numerous twists, setbacks, and apparent false leads in determining her true identity. The newest gadget on display is a wind glider used by Batwoman that utilizes some of the most advanced technology ever seen in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego, also becomes involved with a new lady in his life: Kathy Duquesne, the crime boss’s daughter.

In addition to Kathy Duquesne, Bruce is introduced to two other women who, as his investigation continues into who the Batwoman is, seem to fall well into suspicion: Dr. Roxanne “Rocky” Ballantine, a new employee of Wayne Tech whose technology development is used by the Batwoman against the Penguin; and by Detective Bullock’s new partner Sonya Alcana, whose knowledge of the weapons being smuggled by the Penguin and Carlton Dunquesne is much greater than the detective should know.

With Carlton Duquesne unable to stop Batwoman’s raids on the various facilities used to hold the various weapons, the Penguin calls Bane for additional support to ensure that there are no more losses as a result of the Batwoman. Not long after Bane’s arrival in Gotham, it is revealed that there is not one but three Batwomen, all of whom were the women suspected by Batman; Kathy and Sonia met taking art classes at college and Sonia and Rocky were roommates. They had taken turns to remove suspicion on any one of the three, while using Roxanne’s technological genius and contempt for the Penguin (who had framed her long-time fiance Kevin), Kathy’s money and access to several key aspects of her father’s organization (and desires her father’s criminal career would end as it led her mother being killed), and Sonia’s physical and police skills to ensure that Thorne’s operation is thwarted (as the crime lord previously left her family in financial ruins after arsonists who worked for him burned down her parents’ shop). Alcana was also saved by Batman nine years prior, the event giving the detective the original inspiration for the costumed identity she now shares with her friends.

In the final confrontation, a ship taking the weapons into international waters for the exchange is destroyed by a bomb planted by Kathy. She and Batman narrowly escape the explosion despite the efforts of Bane, who is seemingly killed as he falls into the Gotham River. At the conclusion, the GCPD are left to assume that Sonia is the only Batwoman after she helps rescue Batman from the ship. Sonia resigns from the police due to the potential problems her presence could cause and decides to leave the city. Batman gives Sonia evidence he discovered which helps clear Rocky’s fiance. Carlton agrees to testify against Thorne and the Penguin after saving Kathy’s life during the ship’s destruction. After she reconciles with her father, Kathy drives off with Bruce.

REVIEW:

 I’m a big fan of Batman, although I’m not such a fan of Christopher Nolan’s movies (I think I may in the extreme minority on that). As much as we know about Batman and Robin, we rarely get anything about Batwoman.

She’s appeared in a couple of the various Batman cartoon, most recently, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but for the most part, the female bat-role is filled by Batgirl.

You can imagine my delight when I see a film that intended to give Batwoman the spotlight. Unfortunately, though, this film drops the ball with the character.

No, this is not a bad flick. They just do some kind of weird mutation of her. I’m sure there are some out there that are going to jump all over me for being a purist, but for goodness sakes, this is made by many of the same people who make the comic. Can you seriously sit there and tell me that they couldn’t keep Batwoman’s origin the way it should be, instead of this weird, slightly confusing tale?

That point aside, this is one of the really great animated flicks I’ve seen in recent history.

The story is full of mystery, intrigue and action. All of these things are done very well, especially in the short runtime.

Where the plot excelled, the animation went even further. Remember the days when we could watch hand drawn animated features? This is one of those that will definitely make you remember and wish for those days.

There are two weak parts. The first has to deal with Robin. Now, I didn’t understand the notion behind brining him in and not really utilizing him. Now, I may be getting my timeline confused, because he seemed to still be in training. If that was the case, then it makes sense, but otherwise, use the boy for something other than running sitting in the Bat-boat.

The other issue I have is with the voice cast. I bow down to the mastery of Kevin Conroy as Batman. No one does it better. However, David Ogden Stiers just didn’t work for me as the Penguin and Kelly Ripa’s voice just seemed out of place.

Both of these may be because I’m used to hearing them in other places, but then I think…it didn’t affect my opinion of Hector Elizondo or Kyra Sedgewick as Bane and Batowman, respectively.

When all the dust clears, this film falls short of the animated series or some of the other animated films that were released around this time. Having said that, though, this is a very enjoyable film. I found myself riveted the entire time and couldn’t tear myself away from the screen. Despite its faults, there is plenty of reason to watch Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Since his last encounter against Batman, Mr. Freeze has found a home in the Arctic and started a family (of sorts) with the still cryogenically-encased Nora, an Inuit boy named Kunac, and two pet polar bears, Hotchka and Shaka. Nora’s condition begins to rapidly deteriorate due to a submarine accidentally emerging from underwater directly underneath them, shattering her containment vessel. Freeze returns to Gotham City with his companions, and enlists the help of Dr. Gregory Belson to find a cure. Belson determines that Nora needs an organ transplant, but due to her rare blood type there are no suitable donors available.

Freeze declares that they will use a live donor, even though it means the donor will die in the process. Belson is at first reluctant to kill an innocent girl, but Freeze bribes him with a gold nugget and even more gold from an entire vein in the Arctic that will put an end to Belson’s financial problems. Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) is a perfect match, and Freeze learns from her roommate that she is at a restaurant with her boyfriend, Dick Grayson (Robin). Freeze attacks the restaurant and kidnaps Barbara, taking her to an abandoned oil rig where he and Belson are hiding. Freeze and Belson explain the situation to Barbara, who claims that she is willing to help Nora for the “blood transfusion”, but not at the oil rig, prompting Freeze to keep Barbara imprisoned. The time for the operation comes, Barbara realizes that they are lying when they say she’ll need to be put under for the simple operation and escapes with the help of Kunac. Belson gives pursuit and almost catches her, before the arrival of Batman and Robin.

Freeze follows, and in the ensuing confrontation, Belson accidentally shoots one of the fuel tanks and starts a rapidly-spreading fire as Freeze traps Batman and Robin. Freeze insists that Belson perform the operation, despite the oil rig blazing and ready to explode, but Belson betrays Freeze and attempts to escape alone, only to be killed by falling wreckage. Freeze’s leg is broken, but he tells Batman and Robin to save Nora and Kunac first, along with Barbara. Nora, Kunac and Barbara are taken to safety in the Batwing, but Batman fails to save the weakened Freeze in time, as the platform collapses beneath them, hitting him in the shoulder, and sending Freeze plummeting into the ocean below.

Batman manages to get back to the Batwing and get aboard just before the oil rig finally explodes, but Freeze escapes just in time, holding onto the swimming Hotchka and Shaka. Freeze then returns with his polar bears to the Arctic to resume his life alone, having frozen his leg in an ice cast, watching through a window he sees on a television in a research station that Nora has been revived after an organ transplant operation funded by Wayne Enterprises, moving him happily to tears.

REVIEW:

 Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero is another direct-to-DVD (video at the time) film in the universe of the 90s Batman animated series. If you ever saw that series, then you know how well crafted it was. Picture that on a larger scale and you have what this film brings to the table.

The animation here can be seen as “cartoony”, but it was supposed to be. For goodness sakes, this was the 90s, a time when everything didn’t need to look real.

In contrast to the cartoony look, though, the story is more on the mature side. I mean, there’s nothing R-rated, but Mr. Freeze does get a bit more, pardon the pun, cold-hearted with the way he goes about things.

One of the negatives for this film, though, is how little Batman was in it. This actually should have been titles Robin & Mr. Freeze: Subzero, because he is the main character, here. I’m glad we got some real Robin action. I could’ve done with more Batgirl, but that’s just being picky.

The action is what we’ve come to expect from comic book action animation. I would love to say that they did something groundbreaking, but there wasn’t anything fancy about this flick.

In the end, Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero comes off as a glorified Batman: The Animated Series episode. Having said that, one must remember the high standards of that series, so a glorified episode is not an insult.

I liked this film a lot. It isn’t my favorite in the scope of all the Batman films I’ve seen, but it is quite enjoyable, especially if you were a fan of the old animated series. This is definitely a good film to watch if you’re not into the darker fare that Batman has evolved into these days (not counting Brave & the Bold).

4 out of 5 stars