Don Bluth death reels never get old.
March 22, 2011 • 9:48 PM 0
I’ve never read a Wonder Woman comic in my life.
I watched the Lynda Carter TV show on Nick at Nite when I was a kid, and I her recent DC animated movie to be the cream of the animated crop; but for the most part, Wonder Woman is an unknown property to me.
Though she supposedly stands as an integral pillar to the “Trinity” of DC’s superhero pantheon, in all honesty I’ve always kind of viewed her as being a tier below Batman, and even Superman; in terms of prestige.
That’s not to say the character doesn’t have an incredible breadth of history behind it, or that the character seems lacking in terms of ability next to the aforementioned pair of ass-kickers; rather I’m just saying that Batman and Superman are like the good old fashioned American combo of ketchup and mustard, while Wonder Woman is more like hummus or some shit.
Batman and Superman are household names, whose most significant exploits are often known to those that have no interest in comic books, whereas Wonder Woman is known; but very likely an enigma to most.
*Whew!* That was one helluva’ simile!
I suppose if any value were to be extracted from the above mess of similes and bullshit, I’d say it’d have to be that:
I don’t do Wonder Woman.
I know the extent of her powers.
I have a rough understanding of her origins.
For the life of me though, I don’t know of a single significant event in her entire 70 year history.
Over the past decade or so, I’ve read review after glowing review praising Wonder Woman’s stories, due in no small part to Gail Simone’s impeccable writing talents.
Based on that statement, as well as numerous other complementary reviews I’ve read; clearly there’s quality entertainment to be found in some of Wonder Woman’s stories
Despite this, as well as my love for Gail Simone’s Secret Six series, I’ve yet to flip open a Wonder Woman trade.
I think part of the problem for me with Wonder Woman, is the inherent “ooginess” that comes from being a young man facing the prospect of reading a comic wherein a scantly clad woman runs around and beats the piss out of people.
I’m not a prude.
I have a cock just like every other boy down the block.
It’s just that when it comes to the idea of reading comics like this, no matter how well written or lavishly illustrated; I can’t help but feel just a little bit dirty.
I’d like to read a Wonder Woman trade at some point, as I’ve been largely impressed by Wonder Woman’s guest appearances in some of other DC trades I’ve read; but for now my bookshelf shall remain Wonder-less.
I know it’s silly, but for the most part; this “oogie” issue is the only thing holding me back from giving Wonder Woman a shot.
Well, that and the horrifying prospect of being made to look like a pervert as I purchase a Wonder Woman trade for the inevitably female register clerk at the bookstore.
Anyway, this whole post came about as a result of the recent announcement of the new Wonder Woman TV series.
I definitely won’t be watching the show, but tomorrow I think I’ll give my thoughts on the new Wonder Woman costume.
See yah’ tomorrow!
January 3, 2011 • 9:27 PM 3
I liked Kung Fu Panda.
I saw it in theaters with a group of some of my closest friends, and despite my initial feelings of apprehension regarding Jack Black’s presence as leading man in the film; (I like him better in supporting roles. Too much Black can lead to bad things. NOT racist…) I found myself laughing aloud in the theater to an extent I’ve rarely experienced.
You see, I’m one of those guy’s that generally doesn’t go to see comedies in the theaters, not just because really good comedies are hard to come by these days; but largely because I feel self-conscious about making noise/disturbing others in theaters.
Call it a quirk… A really stupid and oddly specific quirk.
Anyway, I’ve seen Kung Fu Panda once or twice since I initially saw it the theater, and I’ve gotta’ say; the movie is still pretty damn good.
While Pixar will always put out more technically advanced, prettier, and more thoughtful films, Kung Fu Panda stands as an example of Dreamworks’ more lighthearted and scatologically humored formula adding up to something enjoyable to the masses.
In particular, I found the voice cast; while riddled with needless celebrity cameos, (Jackie Chan had 2 lines, Lucy Liu was there for no other reason than her Chinese heritage, etc.) to be quite exceptional.
Jack Black’s energy and enthusiasm, married with the hilarious animations and facial expressions of Po was a match made in heaven.
Dustin Hoffman also managed to impress as Shifu, with the timbre of his voicing doing well to add a sense of forcefulness to his voice regardless of the volume in which he spoke.
While I’m on the topic of great voice acting, let me just say:
Ian McShane = PIMP.
The fight choreography in the film, while of course animated; and thusly free of the inherent limitations of the human body, also managed to impress me.
The movements were artfully strung together, with a pace that reminded me of the old style of Hong Kong choreography I.E. sharp movements, with brief pauses for every strike so as to highlight and make visible, the beauty of each exchange.
In other words, everything was imaginatively choreographed, but conducted in such a way that the viewer could easily see exactly what was going on.
In this age of Greengrass-ian shaky cam techniques, and ultra-fast handed performers; I found Kung Fu Panda’s battles to be a refreshing take of the art of fight choreography.
While I’ve known for awhile now that a Kung Fu Panda sequel was in the works, I found out just today who some of the new characters/voice actors were going to be.
I hope she was paid well for that, ’cause her presence in that film certainly didn’t earn her any brownie points in my book.
Moving on, as long as they let James Woods be his same old snarky self, I expect great things for him in Kung Fu Panda 2.
And then there’s Van FUCKING Damme.
I’ve never heard The Muscles from Brussels do voice acting before, but chances are he sucks donkey balls at it.
Not that his normal acting was anything to write home about, but give him a break; the man’s entire career was based around him kicking people in the head… and showing off his ass.
Apparently he’s playing a crocodile in the film, so I don’t expect any jokes to emerge regarding his limberness, nor do I expect any gratuitous shots of his ass; but regardless, it’s Van Damme, he’s in an American film, and you can be damn sure I’ll be there to see it.
Anyway, the previous film was good, Van FUCKING Damme is in the sequel, and thusly Kung Fu Panda 2 WILL be awesome.
January 1, 2011 • 9:21 PM 2
I went to see Tron: Legacy in theaters today.
No, I didn’t watch it in 3D, and no; I was not at all excited to see it.
The original Tron was a movie that I never really had any sort of love for.
Sure, it was an astounding technical/visual achievement for it’s time, but that doesn’t mean it was all that good a movie.
To be perfectly honest, even as a kid I found the original Tron to be a muddled, confusing, and downright boring film.
“Boring” is a powerful word when used to describe a film consisting entirely of flashing lights and pretty colors.
As I sat in the theater today, I couldn’t help but feel that this Tron for the new generation; seemed to share many of the problems of it’s predecessor.
The film wasn’t bad, it was just sort of mediocre; and horribly paced to boot.
If ever there was a film that lost it’s way in the second half, it would be Tron: Legacy.
The basic plot of the film involves Jeff Bridges’ character from the previous film, Kevin Flynn; becoming trapped inside the digital realm of his own design, The Grid.
While doing whatever the fuck he does in there, he creates a digital program copy of himself, named Clu; and instills within him a “simple” directive of creating a perfect world.
As seemingly all computer-to-man exchanges seem to turn out, Clu ends up obeying this command to a fault, going so far as to usurp his creators position of power to achieve his goal.
It’s a fairly interesting set-up, that sadly is introduced to us far too late in the game to garner any significance to the audience; nor does it amount to any sort of dramatic pay-off.
Make no mistake: Tron is not a writer’s film.
Anyway, as you may have guessed, the little tidbit of the plot I just gave you is not something made apparent to the audience right off the bat.
Instead, we get treated to an introductory segment wherein our would-be protagonist, (he kind of gets shoved to the side… As does everyone else once THE PLOT gets dropped on us in the second act) Kevin Flynn’s son, Sam, (Garrett Hedlund) shows off for the 3D cameras through a series of EXTREME activities.
Truth be told, I found myself snickering through all of this, (as well as most of the film) as I couldn’t help but feel that it was the filmmaker’s way of justifying Sam’s physical prowess during the action sequences in the grid.
We see him ride his motorcycle, WRECKLESSLY, thereby showing he can drive a light cycle.
We see him do some hood jumping over cop cars that looks curiously like free-running, showing he’s not a feeb.
And on top of that, we see him do some fancy computer hacking, showing he is indeed computer literate enough to solve the mystery needed to START THE FUCKING MOVIE.
The reason I found this humorous, was the fact that I kept wanting them to show us a scene of him playing some Ultimate Frisbee in the park, y’know; to justify his awesomeness in Discs of Tron.
I’m jus’ sayin’, if you’re gonna’ take the time to cover your bases so artificially, you might as well cover them all.
Just so we can all say I talked about the plot, (Tron has a plot? Since when?) the whole thing starts out sentimental and heartfelt, then it turns into a chaotic mess of (decent) action scenes, then THE PLOT comes crashing down, stopping the film’s momentum dead in it’s tracks.
From there we lose any sort of affinity we might have had for any of the characters, Michael Sheen acts faggy, and the whole thing ends with an anti-climactic bang.
Without exagerrating, the story progression felt like it was written by a 5 year old with A.D.D.
People, places, and essential plot devices seem to manifest at will, all in an attempt to streamline the process of getting the characters from point A to point B.
Despite the convenient nature of The Grid’s layout in regards to the central plot, it amazes me that somehow the film is still boring, and manages to throw us in the doldrums for more than half it’s running time.
Rest assured, most of the breadcrumbs of dramatic tension that the film attempts to sprinkle in the early goings are either ignored, or… No, actually they were all pretty much ignored.
Anyway, from an acting standpoint, I felt that everyone did alright with what the script had to offer.
Jeff Bridges was “fun,” I guess.
His retro dude-isms were decidedly out of place, and therefore worthy of a smile or 2, but for the most part his character, along with most everyone else; felt anemic and devoid of any real character.
Even so, Jeff Bridges has an inherent inviting aura of gravitas to him, so it’s hard for me to say anything bad about his performance.
I will say this though:
The digital mask used to portray Clu as a young Jeff Bridges was a pretty decent likeness, especially in profile and from over the shoulder, but the lips of the damn thing just looked wrong to me.
A friend of mine and I were joking that the “Digital Bridges” bore a resemblance to Bill Maher, such that we both felt Maher should’ve been cast in the part.
It was most apparent when he was speaking, particularly when yelling, (watch out for the speech sequence, he looks like shit…) but otherwise it was a decent attempt.
Good try, but we haven’t breached the uncanny valley just yet folks.
I feel it’s worth mentioning, that Michael Sheen will likely go down in history as the foremost authority on playing faggy Brits.
Seriously man, take one look at the man’s imdb, and you’re likely to find like 20 fuckin’ listings of him playing “Faggy Brit #4.”
While it may sound like I’m making fun of him, (I am) one should also note that Sheen’s just happens to be the only real notable performance in the entire film.
Watch out for all the cut-backs to him during the nightclub sequence, his posing and dancing were truly inspired.
Moving on, coming into Tron, Garrett Hedlund was an unknown item to me.
Despite having just seen him as one of the lead actors in a multi-million dollar film, I have to say, the man is still a nobody in my book.
Olivia Wilde’s performance in the film was decently entertaining, bearing a wide-eyed inquisitiveness that made her a bit more endearing than most characters; however her place in the plot was somewhat lost to me.
She was apparently of vital importance to the story, as well as to the human world outside The Grid, however the explanation as to why felt inadequate.
Oh well, maybe I just couldn’t hear it over the FUCKING DAFT PUNK MUSIC!
That’s right folks, Daft Punk did the music for Tron: Legacy!
Not only that, they’re also in the fucking movie!
Did I mention Daft Punk did the music for Tron: Legacy!?
In case you couldn’t tell, the above statements were an example of sarcasm on the part of the Azn Badger.
Daft Punk’s score for Tron: Legacy is actually quite good.
There are some fairly inspired themes, particularly in the film’s quieter moments, and the whole score gels well with the aesthetic of the movie quite nicely.
My only real issue with the soundtrack, is probably more the fault of the editor and the director than Daft Punk, and that’s the fact that, like Inception; I felt the soundtrack held too large a presence in the film.
Much like anything in this world, if you pollute your film with too much music, no matter how beautiful; it will end up being detrimental in the long run.
Anyway, let’s get to the one part of this review that I’m sure everyone is here for:
Tron: Legacy is a very handsome film.
The artistic design is striking and beautiful, as well as imaginative and inventive to a fault.
The color palette is decidedly bleak for the most part, with black (as opposed to white in the first film) being a constant in most of the designs, and other colors being used as a highlight.
Rest assured, in classic Star Wars fashion: Red = Bad, Blue = Good.
To the credit of the digital artists, I found myself genuinely at a loss when it came to determining which props and sets were real, and which were digital.
Unlike in George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels, wherein the sets bore an artificiality to them that made the actors “pop” out from them, many of the railings, floors, and walls in The Grid were lit/rendered with such attention to detail and texture, that I honestly couldn’t tell if they were real or fake.
Speaking of texture, I want to thank the design team of Tron: Legacy for going the extra mile to design actual costumes for virtually all of the characters in the movie.
You all probably know how I feel about the upcoming Green Lantern movie, and how silly the digital Lantern suit looks to me; so it comes as a surprise to me that Tron would contain actual physical costumes, and quite good ones at that.
Everyone sort of looks like Dark Knight Batman/ninjas in The Grid, and while that doesn’t really do it for me personally, I have to say; they were stunningly well-designed.
On that note, the whole film has a very cohesive look to it that was clearly meant to reflect the orderliness of a computer system, however the metaphor seems to have stopped there.
Many of the design choices, while all wonderful to look at, are a little bit silly; even by sci-fi/fantasy standards.
In the world of The Grid, there are drunk hobo “programs,” (in the form of people wandering the “streets”) and there are dance clubs.
The streets of The Grid are perpetually covered in puddles of “water,” and programs carry umbrellas to shield themselves from “rain.”
Not only that, planes in The Grid show a tendency to stall when pushed too hard.
They’re little things, I know; but purposeful oversights to an imagined world’s continuity for the sake of art always make me giggle just a little.
Tron: Legacy is a fantastical visual experience, just don’t expect any sort of depth to it… Or any entertainment value above the level of “mediocre.”
Well designed and imagined, the film is simply lacking in the one area that usually matters most in any film:
That being said, if you do go see Tron: Legacy, make sure to look out for shades of Star Wars in Jeff Bridges costuming, as well as some of the events during the films final act.
When Jeff Bridges told his son to hop on the gun of their escape craft, I nearly cracked up waiting for him to tell the kid, “Don’t get cocky!” while he was shooting down TIE fighters, er, I mean “Tron Planes.”
Anyway, thanks for reading!
November 17, 2010 • 9:30 PM 1
I was watching my newly purchased Blu-Ray of Avatar tonight, when it suddenly hit me that I forgot to write my blog.
Nah, just kidding, I never forget…
While I’m on the subject of movies though, I figure now would be a good time for me to talk about my feelings on motion capture technology; something that Avatar couldn’t have been made without.
I’ve always been fascinated by the artistry of the human body in motion.
I’m a firm believer in the concept that much of how we communicate our image and demeanor to the the people around us, stems from our body language.
That being said, whether it be in stage acting, professional wrestling, dance, mime, sports, or fighting; a person’s character, both fictionalized or genuine; shines through in the manner in which the move their body.
For me, a person that doesn’t converse with new people often, or well for that matter; being able to understand gesticulations and body language goes a long way towards getting to know people.
Though I can’t pin down the first time I saw it in action, motion capture technology is an amazing tool that I’ve grown to love very much.
The basic concept of it alone is utterly intriguing to the point in which I found myself wanting to be involved with it at some point.
Seriously, if you know anyone with an “in” to the motion capture industry, let me know!
For those who are unaware, motion capture is a technology that uses a specialized camera and computerized tracking system to map out and record the movements of a subject’s form.
Using the data recorded through this process, said movements can then be transposed onto the anatomy of a digital character.
In the context of movie or videogame production, doing so allows CGI animators to save (some) time by using actual human actors to map out a performance for digital characters, which can then be finessed or tweaked further by the animators.
In many ways, it’s the heir apparent to the classic animation technique of rotoscoping.
In many ways, the largest benefit of motion capture technology, is that it grants directors and animators an incredible degree of control over their projects.
If George Lucas is any indication, control is something that is very important to filmmakers.
They say some of the best moments in film history have been the results of happy coincidences, or even mistakes.
While that may be true, CGI stands as a counter to that, as a tool that allows filmmakers a degree of control that makes the word “mistake” seem almost obsolete.
CGI allows directors to create and animate just about any imagery that pops into their head, but motion capture technology allows them the ability to continue to work with actors, while taking advantage of the technology to precisely extract the desired performance from said actors.
While I don’t see live-action movies going away at any point in human existence, the inherent possibilities of producing digital motion captured films are downright incredible.
Think of it this way:
When producing CGI films with motion captured performances, one gains the freedom to set their film anywhere they want, populated by whatever they want.
They also retain the ability to cast big-name actors that put asses in the seats, not to mention gain the capacity to modify the actor’s appearance to their liking.
Not only that, motion capture also allows for stunt actors to be inserted into scenes without having to be shot at distance or from behind, as the whole process would be seamless.
Come to think of it, the whole concept of “stunts” as a whole could potentially be removed when making a motion captured film.
After all, the whole thing is performed in a sound stage, not to mention the actor can be “removed” from scenes whenever necessary, thereby allowing the animators to take over for the dangerous or “un-performable” sequences.
To me though, the most interesting aspect of motion capture in film, is it’s effect on the acting process.
Acting in a green room, surrounded by artifice, actors have to dig deep and use their imagination to summon strong performances.
In short, more stress is put on the actor to use their body to convincingly occupy the digital landscape their character inhabits.
From the audience’s perspective, I find it changes how we view these performances as well.
While I myself am normally attuned to the physical aspects of an actors performance, when I watch motion captured performances, I find myself drawn to dig a little deeper.
I can’t tell you how much fun it is to see a digital character walk around in a movie, only to find the tiniest little inkling of evidence of the fact that you are in fact seeing a familiar actor, give a performance in an unfamiliar shell.
When Haruo Nakajima stomped around in a Godzilla suit, you could instantly tell it was him by the “largeness” and sheer character of his movements.
When Peter Weller was switched out in favor of Robert John Burke (the fattie from Thinner) in Robocop 3, we were all up in arms; not just because that movie sucked, but because Burke’s physical performance simply wasn’t Robocop.
While motion captured performances will never beat good ‘ole “man-in-suit” acting, the concept is similar enough that is brings me great joy to watch.
I look forward to seeing the day when Donnie Yen steps into the motion capture studio and shows us what motion capture pictures have been missing out on.
Seriously, why the fuck hasn’t anyone made a martial arts movie in mo-cap yet, huh?
November 5, 2010 • 4:33 PM 9
Today we’re gonna’ be talkin’ about SAD SHIT.
SAD SHIT as in The Top 5 Traumatic Deaths in Movies kinda’ SAD.
Please take note that everything contained in this list is a product of the Azn Badger’s childhood; so don’t expect any movies on here to be made anytime past the mid-90’s.
Anyway, let’s get thing’s rollin’, shall we?:
The NeverEnding Story was a tough movie for me to watch as a kid.
It was long, I didn’t really get it, there was a lot of unintentionally scary imagery, and oh yeah, it was long.
So long in fact, that I never really finished it as a kid, resulting in me thinking the whole thing ended with the end of the world at the hands of The Nothing.
Pretty fuckin’ sad, am I right?
Thankfully, I went ahead and saw the rest of the movie a few years ago, thusly patching up a few childhood scars in the process.
That being said, while this death doesn’t really count as a death; ’cause if memory serves, Artax is still alive and well at the end of the movie, to the young Azn Badger the fuckin’ horse died in the mud hole.
Anyway, this death marks probably the first and only time the Azn Badger ever felt any sort of emotion in reference to a horse.
It was the fuckin’ kid that got to me, that girlie-boy Atreyu.
They’re both standing in them mud, and the fuckin’ kid is blowin’ his lungs out screaming at his fuckin’ horse to “not give in to the sadness of the swamps” n’shit.
Meanwhile, the music is swelling and gettin’ all sad and crestfallen n’shit.
The whole thing was just too much for me as a kid, and for the life of me; I bought into it.
While I didn’t really “get” the Neverending Story back then, little episodes like Artax bitin’ the big one stuck with me on a visceral level; in this case, making me very sad.
Fun Fact – The only reason I remember that damn horse’s name is because of his death scene when Atreyu yells it about 50 times.
Repetition: It works.
Mufasa was a pimp.
You take the raw power of James Earl Jones’ voice, and transplant it into the body of the biggest, baddest, most pimp-as-fuck lion in all of existence; and you’ve got Mufasa.
Needless to say, in my youth; Mufasa’s death hit me pretty hard.
As I hope we all know, Mufasa met his fate at the hands of the combined force of a stampeding herd of wildebeast, and the nasty claws of Jeremy Irons.
Any less, and I’m sure his pimp-ass self would’ve survived somehow.
Anyway, Mufasa; pimp that he is, rushes headlong into the stampede to save his pussy-ass son, Simba.
While he is successful in rescuing the boy, Mufasa takes some serious shots from the fuckin’ wildebeasts, the kinda’ hits that would fold a lesser lion in half.
All the while, Hans Zimmer’s music was goin’ crazy, and all the kids in the audience were either pickin’ their boogers, or hoping against hope that ‘ole Mufasa was gonna’ pull through and not fall prey to “Bambi’s Mother Syndrome.”
Just as Mufasa’s managed to escape the stampede for just a few seconds, out strolls his brother; Jeremy Irons.
Slimey prick that he is, Jeremy Irons busts out his freshly manicured nails; and digs them puppies into Mufasa’s paws; but not before saying something creepy and vaguely savage like:
How ironic that the pimpest of all lions would be felled by a bunch of wildebeast AKA the butt of every Discovery Channel predator/prey joke…
To make matters worse, Mufasa’s death has the added impact of having a 40 minute guilt trip attached to it.
Jeremy Irons tells Simba, straight to his face; that the whole thing was his fault.
This of course results in Simba running off into the wild for the next 10 years to eat bugs and talk to clouds.
Oh well, guess we all have to cope somehow…
The Land Before Time was a special movie for me back in the day.
Come to think of it, while I’m sure how it all worked out, Don Bluth movies were all some of my favorites as a kid.
Although it wasn’t a Disney production, rest assured Mr. Bluth saw fit to work some “Bambi’s Mother Syndrome” into the mix in the form of Littlefoot’s Mom.
Much like the Lion King after it, Littlefoot’s Mother meets her fate partially due to the actions of her son.
In short, Littlefoot and Cera are dickin’ around in the wild, they piss off Sharptooth, Littlefoot’s Mom shows up to save the kids, does so, but is mortally wounded in the process.
Cue lengthy and heartbreaking death scene wherein parent reminds child that “they’ll always be with them.”
While the actual battle with Sharptooth was awesome to the young Azn Badger, instead of horrifying as it may have been intended to be perceived, the death sequence afterwards was just plain tough to sit through.
Even now, I bet I’d have a tough time getting through it without biting my lip or taking a deep breath or 2.
I watched the both of them about a million times, and I don’t think I ever got close to getting tired of them.
While Robin Hood had swashbuckling and and ungodly amount of merry laughter, Leagues had Kirk Douglas and a GIANT FUCKING SQUID.
The epic-ness of these 2 factors made for one of the single most spectacular and enchanting films of my childhood.
That being said, despite Kirk Douglas’ Ned Land being my favorite character, James Mason’s Captain Nemo was a pretty close second.
Even as a kid, I loved his pimp-ass beard, and the curious way in which he spoke.
His voice was awesome and all, but I loved the pace of his speech, how it was just a half beat slower than everyone else.
Appropriately, it made him seem enigmatic, like you’d never be able to figure out what he was thinking in a million years if you tried.
Anyway, while 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea was yet another movie that I didn’t quite “get” when I watched it as a kid, Captain Nemo’s death was something that I understood all too well.
As with seemingly all deaths on this list, the music made all the difference.
Captain Nemo is running atop the Nautilus, dodging incoming gunfire from the dudes that want his technological secrets.
He jukes left, he jukes right, and all the while the strings in the orchestra are goin’ fuckin’ nuts.
Suddenly, just as he’s within feet of the entrance to the lower deck of the submarine, his body spasms and the music crashes to a halt with a horrifying *DOOOOMMM!*
No squib, no blood spurt, just James Mason’s ACTING TALENT and the power of a music cue.
From there, the rest of the movie has Nemo, resigned to the fate of his eventual death; lurch and stumble his way through the submarine to a couch next to an undersea viewing window.
Nemo’s last moments are spent gazing into the deep blue that he loved so much.
While the death was pretty epic, it was the initial gunshot that hit me as a kid.
As soon as that music cue hit, my tiny heart sunk down to my toes.
*Sniff!* I honestly thought he was going to make it…
This may seem like a cop-out to some.
A predictable, bandwagon-y ploy to get the nerds to read the blog; however if any of you genuinely think that, then you obviously don’t know the Azn Badger.
As mentioned several times on this blog, I watched Transformers: The Movie, quite literally nearly every day of my early childhood.
My older brother did the same.
Transformers: The Movie was one of those magical films that just did it for me as a kid.
I loved Godzilla movies as kid, but that was because I loved Godzilla as a character.
Transformers: The Movie was a case of me simply loving an individual movie more than any human child should.
While I was a little bit too young to have enjoyed the Transformers TV show while it was first airing, The Movie served as my ambassador to the series; giving me a crash-course on the Gen-1 stuff before I even started watching the re-runs.
That being said, the opening battle on Cybertron, that takes the vast majority of the original cast of the show and kills them off in favor of new toys, I mean characters; was truly a thing of beauty.
The battle on Cybertron worked because it had actual stakes.
Lives were lost on both sides of the conflict, such that you truly got the sense that everyone was fair game.
Hell, Ironhide was one of my favorites from the TV show, and he got his head blown off in the first 10 minutes.
These were big name guys, characters that were at the forefront of the action in every episode of the TV show, and here they were gettin’ their clocks cleaned in the first 20 minutes of The Movie!
Then they went and killed Optimus Prime.
If the battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron at the beginning of Transformers: The Movie is one of the best fights in cinema history, then the death of Optimus Prime is surely one of the most dramatic deaths.
I love the subtlety of the death sequence.
Everyone is gathered around Prime, their facial expressions communicating far more than words could hope to.
Perceptor, the closest thing the group has to a doctor, presents his diagnosis with a simple:
“I’m afraid the wounds are, fatal…”
With the silence broken, Daniel; the child of the group, is the first to speak his mind:
From there, the whole thing just gets more and more epic.
At the end of it all, the hammer of childhood trauma drops as Optimus Prime’s entire form turns black, a decidedly fatalistic percussive music cue hits; and Prime commits his final act as his head limply turns to the side.
That, my friends; is how you kill an icon.
October 1, 2010 • 7:03 PM 9
My plans fell through on pounding out that article for the oddest of reasons:
After sitting through the movie, I found I had close to nothing to say about it.
To this day I can barely remember that movie, other than the fact that the climactic battle between Batman and the Red Hood was brutally well choreographed to an extent few animated films can measure up to.
Other than that, the movie was totally flat.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse on the other hand, is a film that I find I can very easily form an opinion of.
In short, I didn’t like Apocalypse.
Meant to serve as a direct follow-up to the (in my eyes) superior Superman/Batman: Public Enemies of last year, Apocalypse is an action-packed, but ultimately light weight exercise in tedium.
I know what you’re thinking:
“But Azn Badger, couldn’t Public Enemies be described in exactly the same fashion? How can you like one better than the other?”
While I’ll admit this is true, Public Enemies was essentially a film comprised entirely of Michael Bay-esque lights and sound married with ungodly amounts of fan-service, the key difference between Public Enemies and Apocalypse lies within their execution of these 2 factors.
Public Enemies went balls out with it’s over-the-top-ness, pitting it’s 2 heroes against a legion of big name characters from the DC Universe, all while progressively stepping up the urgency and scale of it’s various crises until things, quite literally; reach astronomical levels.
It was stupid, it was fun, and the script was put together in such a way as to “play along” with that mindset.
Apocalypse on the other hand, sort of went about things half-cocked.
There’s a great deal of action, with the animation and art design being quite good for the most part, (much better than in Under the Red Hood) but the overall feel of the movie is just plain wrong.
Like Public Enemies, Apocalypse is once again based on Jeph Loeb’s work on the Superman/Batman comic series, with the source material being taken from the second story arc entitled “The Supergirl from Krypton.”
Anyway, the story of Apocalypse kicks off very shortly after the conclusion of Public Enemies wherein Batman destroyed a massive Kryptonite meteor on a collision course with earth.
As the last remnant of said meteor make their way past Earth’s orbit, a hefty chunk manages to fall through the atmosphere and crash land in Gotham Harbor.
After investigating a bit, Batman (Kevin Conroy) discovers a space pod among the debris, which of course housed our future Supergirl (Summer Glau) who goes through the requisite culture shock of dealing with Earth people for the first time, (in the nude no less) and discovering her vast array of powers granted to her by Earth’s yellow sun.
Merry mishaps ensue, much property damage is caused, (it’s okay if it’s on accident!) and Superman (Tim Daly) eventually shows up to lift something heavy and take Kara off to show her his Fortress of Solitude.
From that point on, the first 20 minutes of the movie see us following Kara as she explores life on Earth with her cousin Kal, (Superman, you big dummy) all while Batman constantly broods about the potentiality of her being a bad omen/villain/secret weapon/fish person.
Cut to the planet Apocalypse, where Granny Goodness (voiced with unbelievable zest by Ed Asner) oversees the training of a potential leader of Darkseid’s honor guard/stable of fucked up bitches, The Female Furies.
What follows is a lucid and well-choregraphed 4-on-1 cat fight.
The drama is convincing, largely due to the effective pacing, which sees our 1 against the 4 holding their own in the few minute or so of combat, only to eventually be overwhelmed.
Like all of the fighting in Apocalypse, this scene served as a brief highlight among a sea of blemishes.
Cut back to Metropolis, where we are treated to the requisite “teenaged shopping spree” scene, albeit with oddly boring and low-key music.
Y’know, like yah’ do.
As it turns out, the Amazons of Themyscira’s (Wonder Woman’s ‘hood) resident prophet, Harbinger (Rachel Quaintance), has been having visions of Kara’s eventual death on a beach somewhere, resulting in Wonder Woman making the decision to take Kara back to the island in hopes of maintaining her safety.
Another good argument for Wonder Woman’s logic is the fact that Kara, for perhaps the 3rd time in the movie, recklessly unleashes her powers on Metropolis during her attempted kidnapping.
Eventually, Superman grudgingly decides to give in to Wonder Woman’s pleas.
With that, we flash 2 months later and Kara’s been living on Themyscira with the Amazons.
Despite all that time, Superman is still feeling butt-hurt about the whole deal, while Batman and Wonder Woman just kind of look to each other from time to time and wonder just why Superman is such a douche…
Anyway, Kara imparts to us, through the language of teenage angst, that she is feeling cramped by everyone ordering her around the time, and she now wishes to live her own life, by her own terms.
Thankfully, after all of this boring “stranger-in-a-strange-land” meets Jem bullshit, the Darkseid angle of the story hinted not so subtly by, I don’t know, the title of the movie, finally comes to light proper.
With an army of Amazons at their backs, Batman, (armed with a magical axe) Superman, and Wonder Woman take on the Doomsday army 300 style.
What follows is a pretty decent, if not chaotic battle sequence highlighted by a goofy and melodramatic homage to the muted war sequences made popular by Saving Private Ryan.
I haven’t read the comic that this movie is based on, but my guess is that the Doomsday’s present in this story were meant to be vastly inferior to the original, as we all know that just one Doomsday probably should’ve been enough to take on all of Themyscira.
Either way, things wrap up as Superman opens up with a Kamehame-I mean, heat-vision blast that levels the entire army at once.
With that, our heroes run off to the beach of Harbinger’s visions, only to discover that Kara is gone, and Harbinger lay dead in her place.
Now that we’re about halfway through the movie, the stakes have been clearly laid out for us, leaving the plot with nowhere to go but Apocalypse, right?
Well, not quite.
First, our heroes have to go visit former Female Fury leader, Big Barda; in order to borrow her equipment to boom tube their asses over there.
Barda resists at first, but then opts instead to join our heroes in their crusade, seemingly just for the sake of getting a chance to throw mud in Darkseid’s eyes.
From there, the rest of the movie is action/fighting.
I won’t spoil anything for you, but I will say this:
The second half of Apocalypse, while well animated and filled with fight sequences, is hardly notable among DC Animated Universe productions.
Among the trio of climaxes, (one for each major player) Wonder Woman and Big Barda get the best of the bunch in the form of a brawl with the Female Furies.
Seriously, the choreography in this scene is excellent, nearly as good as the Wonder Woman feature from a few years ago.
For those who are keeping score at home, that’s really fuckin’ good.
Batman and Superman though, sadly have little to offer in terms of awesomeness.
Once again, I’m not going to spoil anything for you, but the movie has a long and drawn out ending sequence that, while entertaining on purely visceral level, was overblown and utterly pointless.
Like Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King “I have 5 endings!” pointless.
Oh well, at least it gives us a chance to see Superman access his inner Fist of the North Star and bust out blatantly anime-inspired moves like this:
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse rests very low on the totem pole for me as far as DC Animated Universe films go.
Wonder Woman, of all things, is at or near the top, with Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths ranking just below it, followed by Green Lantern: First Flight, with Public Enemies rounding out the lower-tier of the “good” movies.
In other words:
Apocalypse ain’t so hot.
The story was petty and unfocused, with the characters not so much relating to each other as covering each other’s asses in battle.
Call me crazy, but I prefer my superhero team-ups to y’know, have the characters talk to each other every now and again.
The action, while impressive to behold, felt surprisingly limited in scale given the stakes at hand.
Remember in the Superman cartoon when Darkseid invaded Metropolis with an army and wrecked Superman’s shit with said army.
Well, in Apocalypse, on Darkseid’s home turf, which by the way was seemingly populated by about 10 people, Darkseid manages to send, I don’t know; 5 guys and some dogs after our invading heroes.
That’s just silly.
A gripe about Darkseid:
Andrea Romano’s work as a voice casting director for Warner Bros. animation has always been regarded as some of the most consistent and praise worthy stuff in the industry, but what in the holy-fuck made her think ANYONE but MICHAEL FUCKING IRONSIDE could play Darkseid!?
Here, just take a look at this:
It pains me to know that this clip, from the script, to the voice-acting, to the music, to even the quality of the animation, however economical, is better than any of the DC Animated Features.
Andre Braugher has a wonderful voice.
Hell, if it’s any consolation I liked him in Glory…
But the simple fact of the matter is, he was horribly miscast.
For one thing, he speaks far too fast, but moreover; his voice simply lacks the timbre and menace of Ironside’s.
I suppose it doesn’t hurt either that the script for this movie couldn’t hold a candle to anything from the DC animated series’…
Though it may seem minor to some, for me, I found it utterly impossible to take Darkseid seriously in this movie.
Apocalypse contains a great deal of useless “asides.”
That is to say, the movie mimics the time tested anime trope of cutting away to pointless shots of everyday life/nature as a means of transition.
In anime, this works.
It’s an undeniably Japanese approach to story pacing, and when used in a long-form series consistently, it just plain works.
Here it’s a just goddamn waste of time, something that a slim; hour and a half long production should be conscious of.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is not a Japanese production, nor is it a long-ass series where wasted shots can be used to pad out episodes.
I don’t know what the fuck is going on with American animation these days, but the power and influence that anime has had over it’s character designs, animation techniques, and now even storytelling techniques, is just plain fucking grotesque.
I understand that anime and manga are currently the bees knees among the younger crowd, but c’mon folks, stick to what you’re best at.
The Batman and Superman cartoons were animation classics.
Now we’ve got shit like Teen Titans, shit that truly feels like pale imitations of something that is, culturally; quite foreign.
Anyway, I’ve said far more than I ever intended to about this movie, so I think I’ll cut things here.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse – A movie that doesn’t try hard enough at being dumb and loud, but ultimately leaves it’s viewers with no entertainment value other than those 2 elements.