27 July 2012

The Watch

The review for The Watch is up at InsideStL.  Check it out.

Green Lantern: First Flight

After watching Green Lantern: First Flight, I now only have two more DC Universe Animated Films left to watch.  I have one in the mail, and still need to track down the other.  But those reviews will be up in due time.  Green Lantern: First Flight was released back in 2009.  The second Green Lantern animated film was released just prior to the disastrous live action film.  The less said about that, the better.

Green Lantern: First Flight tells the familiar origin story of hotshot military pilot Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) and how he comes to acquire a Green Lantern ring.  It is the same retread story that all comic book geeks know: Abin Sur (Richard McGonagle) crash lands on Earth moments before dying and gives Hal his ring.  Hal is then taken to Oa, the home of the Guardians and base for the Green Lantern Corps.  There, Hal is despised as no human has ever been selected.  He is put to the test by GL trainer Kilowog (Michael Madsen).  GL super soldier Sinestro (Victor Garber) takes Hal under his wing, as they search for Abin Sur’s killer.

As the Green Lantern Corp gets closer to finding the killer, it is revealed that he is in possession of a yellow element.  The yellow element is fear.  Sinestro falls prey to its power, and forms a yellow ring.  He then goes to Oa and threatens to destroy it and the Green Lanterns.

Where Green Lantern: First Flight went wrong is in its story.  It is a retread, but I can look past that.  It is the rushed nature of the training and overall story.  It feels compressed, almost as if scenes were missing.  Out of nowhere Sinestro is now bad, Hal Jordan is a master Green Lantern, and they fight.  A lot of the lore behind the rings and the Guardians is left out.  You are only told enough to understand what you need to on a minimum basis.  If you want to watch a fun and intelligent animated Green Lantern, I highly recommend the Green Lantern: The Animated Series on Cartoon Network.

RATING: 7/10

20 July 2012

Justice League: Doom

In my recent quest to get caught up on all the DC Universe Animated Original Movies, I sat down last night with The Kid and watched Justice League: Doom. Right from the start, I had high hopes. I love it when they get Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly to voice Batman and Superman. They did the voices originally for their respective animated series; therefore, I associate them with the characters. Plus, it has Bane. I am a sucker for Bane. Well, except for Batman & Robin. I try to forget that version of Bane. And Batman. Well, the whole movie in general.

Justice League: Doom has one of the more creative story lines, loosely based on an arc from mid-2000. The story centers on Vandal Savage (Phil Morris) hiring six super villains to dispense of the six members of the Justice League. Batman fights Bane (Carlos Alazraqui). Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion) battles Star Sapphire (Olivia d’Abo). Superman goes toe-to-toe with Metallo (Paul Blackthorne). Carl Lumbly voices both Martian Manhunter and his nemesis Ma’alefa’ak. Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg) has to deal with Cheetah (Claudia Black). And lastly, Flash (Michael Rosenbaum) faces Mirror Master (Alexis Denisof).

The premise behind this stems from Batman’s paranoia. He has devised a plan to neutralize each member of the Justice League if they go rogue. These detailed plans are stolen by Savage, and tweaked to kill the target in lieu of neutralizing. With the Justice League out of the way, Savage can then take over the world. The only hope lies with Cyborg (Bumper Robinson), a non-member of the JL.

While I was severely underwhelmed with Superman vs The Elite a few weeks back, Justice League: Doom was a refreshing return to the great works that I have come to expect. I would rank this is second only to Batman: Under the Red Hood. The story was great, the voice work was wonderful, and Lauren Montgomery’s direction fit nicely with the animation. The characters were designed closer to the old Batman: TAS and Superman: TAS instead of the buffoonish looking characters in Superman vs The Elite. I would recommend giving Justice League: Doom a watch, even if you don’t have a twelve week old to watch it with. Not that I think The Kid watched too much of it.

RATING: 8/10

The Dark Knight Rises

The review is now up at InsideStL.  Find out how this finale fares.

16 July 2012

Superman vs. The Elite

DC Universe Animated Original Movies has had its share of ups and downs.  Batman: Under the Red Hood, Wonder Woman and Superman: Doomsday are great films.  On the other end of the spectrum, there is Batman: Year One and Batman: Gotham Knights.  Then, in the middle you have all the Justice League and Superman/Batman films.  Superman vs. The Elite is the latest to join his massive group in the middle.

Superman vs. The Elite starts off with Superman (George Newborn) defeating and containing Atomic Skull (Dee Bradley Baker).  He is then drawn to a fight where a group, going by the name The Elite, helps him stop a potential disaster between two warring Middle Eastern nations.  The Elite is headed up by Manchester Black (Robin Atkin Downe) and includes Menagerie, Coldcast and Hat.  Superman assumes that they are heroes, but as we can tell by the title of film, that is not the case.

Atomic Skull escapes his special confinement, and wreaks havoc on the city.  This draws hatred toward Superman for not killing him when he had the chance.  Yet, The Elite are willing to kill to achieve peace.  This pits Superman against the new “heroes,” and leaves Superman with a decision to make: Is he willing to go that extra step?

Superman vs. The Elite is based on Action Comics #775 which was written by Joe Kelly.  He adapted his own comic.  Michael Chang directed.  The animation was a big cartoonish, if you will.  Everything seemed a bit exaggerated.  As is becoming the case, Superman is hardly challenged.  So, with a lackluster story, this film becomes boring.  I think I will try to track down the issue itself and give it a read, but my expectations will be quite low.  I gave this a Redbox rental, and was only moderately entertained.  I would put this in the low end of the middle group.

RATING: 5/10

13 July 2012

Redbox Gem: Breakaway

Read about this delightfully campy Canadian Punjabi film at insidestl

05 July 2012

This Means War

This Means War opened the week I was sick.  My sinuses were kicking my ass.  I should have taken this as a sign.  This Means War is not a good movie.  I rented it from Redbox, and wanted my time (97 minutes) and $1.30 back (Yes, I wasted the extra money on the Blu-Ray).  I was shocked at how bad it was.  I thought the trailer made it look funny and cute.  Nope.

This Means War opens with CIA Agents FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) working a covert mission.  Things go awry, and bad guy Heinrich (Til Schweiger) escapes, but not before his brother is killed.

We are then introduced to product tester, single white female Lauren (Reese Witherspoon).  Her cantankerous friend Trish (Chelsea Handler) signs her up for online dating without her permission.  At first, Lauren is against it, but then a match hits.  It is Tuck.

Tuck and Lauren go on a date.  FDR stays a few blocks away just in case Tuck and escape plan.  The date goes great, and Lauren goes to rent a movie.  The video store is a few blocks away.  Do you see where this is going?  She meets FDR, and agrees to date him.  Now, best friends Tuck and FDR are dating the same woman.  Get it?  Funny! Nope.

The two CIA agents pull together a CIA team to spy on and mess with the other suitor.  I am sure that the CIA has nothing better to do.  This is my biggest problem with the film.  Why did they have to be CIA agents?  Why couldn’t they just be some private covert agency like Isis?  Get it?  Archer reference. This had to cost money, not to mention it makes the government look worse than it already does.

Meanwhile, Heinrich tracks down FDR through his suit material that he obtained in the opening.  He comes to the US to get even with FDR and Tuck.  This leads to a ridiculous action scene and leaves Lauren with a choice: Tuck or FDR?

None of the acting is worth mentioning in a positive light.  Chris Pine was great in Star Trek. Why not just wait on the sequel?  Tom Hardy is on a roll, and has The Dark Knight Rises and Lawless yet to come this year.  This seems like a setback.  Reese, well, I expected little from her, and she succeeded in being average.  Chelsea Handler is just awful.  That is part of the reason her sit-com got shit-canned already.  The other part is, she is simply not funny.

How McG continues to direct and make movies just amazes me.  This Mean War is not fun, funny, or romantic.  They two suitors literally stalk her, spy on her, and use the government resources to obtain all they can about her.  That is not romantic.  That is creepy, not to mention highly illegal.  I expect more from the writer behind Role Models (Timothy Dowling) and Sherlock Holmes, (Simon Kinberg).  I cannot figure out why they even spent time with the CIA operation on Heinrich.  It really goes nowhere and just seems pointless.  This Means War is not worth the Redbox rental.

RATING: 3/10

03 July 2012

The (Not So) Amazing Spider-Man

Read the review of this unnecessary reboot at InsideStL