Justice League Review

justice-league-header-1-1

by Drew Kiess

 

How to describe a movie like Justice League? Or, a better question, how to describe a movie like Justice League in a way that it has not already been described?

Let’s look over what we know: yes, we know that the post-production process on this movie was less than smooth for various reasons, chief among them a personal tragedy in the director’s family. Yes, we also know that the critical hill for this movie to climb was probably much too steep and the comparisons to the distinguished competition were unavoidable (how could anything measure up to what is already locked-in as a cultural phenomenon?). And yes, we also know that the tone of this film was shifted even further from the somberness of its predecessor due to critical feedback.

We know all that. What we don’t know is how things would have turned out otherwise. I can only review this movie for the movie I saw in the theaters and not the movie that I thought we were getting. Maybe someday we’ll get to see that movie (we’re just now getting to see the three hour version of 1978’s Superman The Movie, so there’s always hope), but this is the Justice League movie we got. And—honestly—I loved it.

To say a movie is imperfect seems like a critical cheat, but it is also important to say in this case. While I think most of the imperfections pointed out aren’t necessarily the same problems I have with the film (most of my complaints involve the ever-hated spoilers, so I will avoid talking too much about them), this is the first of the three Snyder DC Films entries that I’m comfortable with letting the critical onslaught hit without much argument. Perhaps that says more about me than the movie, but this is not quite the same kind of movie as Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. If you hated those movies, you might take that as a relief. As someone who loved them, it is a bit of a dunk in cold water.

What exists instead, though, is just as reverent a love letter to DC Comics fans. Never did I dream of seeing pieces from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World on a big screen. Seeing Commissioner Gordon (played well by J.K. Simmons) speaking with Batman and Wonder Woman and The Flash and Cyborg on a rooftop is a treat. And for anyone who has read the works of Kirby, Grant Morrison’s Rock of Ages, or Geoff John’s Justice League: Origins, there is plenty to keep you geeking out from the opening titles to the close of the credits. And yes, that end credits scene is as good as you’ve been told.

Of the major characters, most for me were given a fantastic show case as to what makes them amazing characters. There is one character that I felt may have been shortchanged, but that may be super spoilery (see what I did there?). Steppenwolf was fine. The great thing about using a character like Steppenwolf is that he does not come with a lot of baggage and is disposable without having his fan club become up-in-arms. Quick, name your favorite Steppenwolf comic book! He serves the purpose of providing a threat daunting enough to get the team together, but is not the kind of character who merits a long-winded motivation.

What the movie does well for me is not shying away from the comic book-ness of the whole thing. While the humor, thanks in part to screenwriter (and post-production supervisor) Joss Whedon, is cranked up in Justice League, it never feels aimed at the audience for enjoying these types of stories. It managed to have fun while still telling a cool story ripped almost perfectly from the pages of a comic book. And that may make it a movie that’s not for everyone. But if you’re someone who loves these characters, I highly recommend seeing Justice League with someone who loves these characters with you. There’ll be plenty for you to talk about.

Final score: Comic Code Approved

Make sure you follow Drew on Twitter @drew_kiess

Follow us on Twitter @ShanlianOnBat

Facebook Shanlian On Batman

Advertisements

“Batman Vs Two Face” Review

 

 

Batman-vs-Two-Face-1

By
Drew Kiess

I fell in love with Adam West’s Batman later in my fandom than many. While West’s portrayal was responsible for an entire generation becoming Batman fans for the first time, what West did for me was teach me how versatile the Caped Crusader could be. In 2016, seeing Adam West (along with Burt Ward and Julie Newmar) return to his classic role was an absolute joy, and the film itself was ridiculously entertaining, even if it was flawed in some ways.

When Adam West passed away, it struck a chord with me. This man had been responsible for bringing a character that has meant so much to me and has brought me a countless amount of joy to the mainstream. Before his passing, he was able to provide us with one final crusade: “Batman Vs Two-Face.”

In “Batman Vs Two-Face,” Adam West’s Batman is joined by Burt Ward’s Robin, Julie Newmar’s Catwoman, and William Shatner as the villainous Two-Face. While most of what we now consider the heavy hitters in Batman’s rogues gallery found their way onto the screen during the 1960s TV series, one notable exception has always been Two-Face, who starred only in one unused script. Harvey Dent, Gotham’s District Attorney and best friend to billionaire Bruce Wayne, is scarred by pure evil in a laboratory accident gone terribly wrong. The explosion turns Dent into the criminal known as Two-Face, and despite what Bruce Wayne believes to be a successful recovery, Harvey Dent’s scars are deeper than just the surface. With a crime wave indicating the involvement of a duality obsessed fiend, only Two-Face could be behind it. But could Harvey Dent truly be evil? Can the Dynamic Duo stop this crime spree in Gotham? (Tune in next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!)

The DC Animated films have been hit and miss lately. This was definitely a hit. Not only was it incredibly funny, it also had a surprising weight that pulled me into the film’s story. The casting of another 60s TV star in William Shatner as Harvey Dent was a stroke of brilliance, and he delivers with a voice performance that rivals any in these films. (His performance was reminiscent of the better moments of Tommy Lee Jones’ version in “Batman Forever.” Surprisingly, this version was less cartoonish.) Shatner pulled off a menacing Two-Face, playing the tongue-in-cheek nature of this universe with ease, while providing a tragic weight to Harvey Dent that is unexpected in connection with the 60s TV show.

Adam West’s performance was everything you would expect it to be. This story gave him a terrific send-off, allowing him to play both the heroic and inspiring Batman in some of the film’s more heavy moments, to the more comedic tones that this version of the character requires. As always, this was what made Adam West and this character such a great marriage: he could play every tone with the same amount of sincerity and commitment. You are always sure about two things with Adam West’s Batman around. Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot that he’ll bring to justice, and that Batman is always there watching out for us when we need him most.

The cast of characters in “Batman Vs Two-Face” is deep. If a viewer can go in not knowing what villains cameo and have major roles outside of the titular character, they can find themselves enjoying the revolving door of references to episodes of the TV series. On top of the revolving door of villainy, be on the lookout for some hilarious shout-outs to various Batman pop-culture moments that add flavor to this bountiful Bat-feast.

If “Return of the Caped Crusaders” served as a sequel to “Batman-The Movie,” then “Batman Vs Two-Face” closes out Adam West’s Batman trilogy triumphantly, providing us with humor, action, and a big bucket of heart. Director Rick Morales’ obvious love for the TV show shines through with every scene. It is a miracle to take a world and a style and bring it back to us 50 years after it was popular and do it so well, and to provide us all with one last adventure with our Bright Knight.

I would recommend buying two copies (one for each face), and enjoying this conclusion to Adam West’s Batman trilogy. I watched this with a smile on my face from beginning to end and am looking forward to watching it again. And for those of you out there who have yet to discover Adam West for yourselves, please take it from me: when you learn to love the goofiness and the colors and the biffs, booms, and pows, you will also find the heart, love, and unwavering goodness that was Adam West and his Batman. I think we could all agree that the world needs a Bright Knight now more than ever.

 

3.5 Bats out of 4

 

 

 

Make sure you follow Drew on Twitter @drew_kiess

Follow us on Twitter @ShanlianOnBat

Facebook Shanlian On Batman

Batman and Harley Quinn Review

by Andrew Kiess

Many Batman fans are in agreement that Batman: The Animated Series is among the greatest comic book adaptations out there. For many of us, it has defined the character of Batman and his supporting cast. So, when co-creator Bruce Timm returns to the style and characters that first captured our imaginations, only greatness can happen, right?

image1-620x264

Batman and Harley Quinn is the latest DC animated feature film to get the one-night only theater treatment before being released on demand, following the success of The Killing Joke and Return of the Caped Crusaders. While I enjoyed Crusaders, neither of these one-night only showings featured what I considered to be the “best” of the recent animated films (I thought Judas Contract and Justice League Dark were fantastic), I was still excited to see what looked to be a long lost episode of The New Batman Adventures. What I got fell short of my expectations.

The opening few scenes of the films did not help my perception of the project overall. The animation looked cheap and the characters inconsistent. As the movie went on, the animation improved, but that’s when the story developed.

The plot of the film centers around Poison Ivy (voiced by Paget Brewster) and Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richardson) plotting to recreate the event that turned Alec Holland into Swamp Thing on a global scale, transforming all humanity into The Green. Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Nightwing (Loren Lester) enlist the help of a reformed Harley Quinn (Melissa Rauch) to track down Ivy and save the world.

On the surface, this still feels like a new episode of Batman. But as has been the case with many of the latest DC animated film, there seemed to be an imperative to “adult it up.” In theory, I don’t think this is necessarily a good or bad thing. It worked extraordinarily well in both The Judas Contract and Justice League Dark, but failed miserably with movies like The Killing Joke and Assault on Arkham. Harley Quinn is no stranger to being sexualized, and when done right it can create empathy for the character as someone who has overcome objectification. When done wrong, it just feeds into the objectification that the character (and, let’s face it, the comic book industry as a whole) has been fighting against.

We meet Harley working as a risqué waitress, where she beats up a customer for attempting to grope her. When Nightwing later questions her about it, she explains that it’s the only job she can get due to her past with The Joker being on her record. Instead of this being a moment to create empathy, it is followed up by a ridiculous scene where it is not-so-subtly implied that her an Nightwing, to quote Marv from Sin City, “do the nasty.” From the way the scene is drawn to the absolute lack of any reason for this to be in the film completely disservice the character, and is, in one man’s opinion, the opposite of “adult”. It is pure adolescent fantasy, with no real appreciation for storytelling.

To make matters worse, the rest of the humor in the film is bizarrely sophomoric. There is not much I can write that would fully explain just how off-putting a fart joke is in a movie that is trying to convince me that it is an “adult comedy.” A ten minute scene in a karaoke bar with ridiculous dancing and singing did nothing but add to the ever-changing tone. The story progresses to an inevitable appearance by Alec Holland himself, which was simply the final disappointment in a long line of disappointments.

Perhaps I am being too harsh. I have seen several positive reactions and some middle of the road reactions from many outlets online. But for me, Batman and Harley Quinn was a failure on every level and never engaged me for a single moment. As always, I would recommend you judge for yourself if you are interested in seeing it, but I think this will join The Killing Joke as the second of the DC animated films to not have a home on my shelf.

 

Twitter
@ShanlianOnBat
@BatmanShanlian
@BatmanBassSlap
@LootingKyle

Facebook
ShanlianOnBatman

 

Batman: The Enemy Within Episode One Review

By Andrew Kiess

”The Enigma”

ae8ebf29af5bb341-600x400

Telltale introduced me to my second-favorite (behind comics) form for telling Batman stories. Put me inside of a comic book and let me define the type of character my hero will be. Season One of Batman: The Telltale Series was a spectacular display of just that. The game creators present you with a story that is not afraid to go off script in order to make you feel uneasy in your judgments, forcing you to question who you should allow as allies and who you should treat as potential enemies. Season One’s five episode arc did not disappoint me and kept me fully engaged to the end, and so I have been waiting impatiently for Season Two to get underway, and this month, it did just that.

“The Enigma” opens with the reappearance of a figure from Gotham’s past. Edward Nygma, also known as The Riddler, who we learn once terrorized Gotham long before Bruce Wayne took up the cowl. Bruce, while investigating a casino owner for potential illegal arms deal, witnesses the return of The Riddler and immediately steps into “Batman mode”. With the assistance of the newly-appointed Commissioner James Gordon, Riddler is stopped from killing his target, but escapes before he can be brought in. As it turns out, ARGUS is critical of GCPD’s supposed failure as Amanda Waller has taken a special interest in Nygma’s case.

This conflict is the central decision of “The Enigma”. Do you stick up for Gordon or do you side with Waller? And when you do choose a side, just how much information do you share with them? Unlike the first season, where your decisions were simply noted as “remembered” or “noticed”, your decisions in this game can change the relationship you have with other characters, as opposed to simply triggering different conversations later in the game. This nuance adds a little more weight to subtle differences in responses.

These relationships are on full display with both Gordon and Waller, but we get hints that it will play a large role in the development of “John Doe”, who we all know will eventually become The Joker. But, in the meantime, he’s John Doe, a character who seems eager to help, and can prove quite useful as an ally. It becomes interesting as we push our knowledge of the inevitable because of our familiarity with the lore in order to further our agendas as Batman within this alternate canon. What will cause the least amount of problems for Bruce, trusting John Doe or brushing him off? I guess only time will tell.

If it’s not obvious by now, I love this game. From Troy Baker’s performance as Bruce Wayne, to the comic book-like design of the world, this is one of my favorite non-comic Batman stories ever told. It is bold and unafraid to challenge our assumptions as fans to keep us on our toes, and it works for me on every level. If the pattern holds from last season, we should expect season two sometime in late September, so if you haven’t had a chance to play through this series, you have plenty of time to catch up, and I could not recommend it highly enough.

 

Twitter
@ShanlianOnBat
@BatmanShanlian
@BatmanBassSlap
@LootingKyle

Facebook
ShanlianOnBatman

 

“I Am Bane” Review

By Andrew Kiess

Tom King is a brave man. Yes, he’s served America as a counterterrorism CIA operative, but his most recent challenge in life has been filling the role once held by the great Scott Snyder writing Batman. Snyder’s run as the lead writer on Batman lasted the entire fiver year lifespan of DC Comics’ New 52 line, and was its bestseller, as well as one of the most critically acclaimed books of the line. But, Snyder left shortly after the Bloom arc, and when DC was looking to relaunch the line, Snyder was moved to All-Star Batman, and King was asked to step up to the plate.

Spoilers for Batman #1-15 to follow.

King’s run debuted with I Am Gotham. This story, found in issues 1-6, featured the mysterious appearance of two super-powered beings called Gotham and Gotham Girl, who were being manipulated by the Psycho Pirate. In the sequel arc, I Am Suicide (issues 9-14), Psycho Pirate is being protected in Bane’s fortress, and Batman recruits a Suicide Squad from Amanda Waller in order to extract the Pirate so that he can cure Gotham Girl. The plan is successful, which obviously does not sit well with Bane.

batman-11-coming-november-16-from-writer-tom-kingIf I’m being honest, I have struggled to get into this new run on Batman. David Finch’s art has been great, and Tom King is a great writer, but it has felt like Batman has taken a backseat to the characters around him throughout the entire Rebirth line. And as great as Rebirth has been for most of DC’s characters, I have felt like Batman has not benefitted from Rebirth. That was until I read I Am Bane.

Bane is on his way to Gotham to exact revenge for Batman infiltrating his sovereign territory, and Bruce Wayne is preparing for war in a way that only Bruce could—by sending all of his soldiers away from the battlefield. Bruce warns Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Duke Thomas/Lark, Damian Wayne/Robin, and Jason Todd/Red Hood to stay out of Gotham until Bane is dealt with. But, his warnings fall on deaf ears for the Robins, and Bruce finds them hanging, barely alive, in the Batcave with the words “I Am Bane” spray painted across their chests. Bruce and Alfred must get Gotham Girl and the Psycho Pirate out of Bane’s path of destruction, and so they barricade themselves deep within Arkham while Bane’s warpath leads him through all of the inmates Batman has put there over the years.

Three issues into this run, I finally understood what King was doing. It’s no coincidence that the main three arcs of King’s run so far have been titled with the words “I Am…”. He was re-forging Batman’s identity as Bruce. Or Bruce’s identity as Batman. Either way, the end of the New 52 saw many changes for Bruce Wayne, not the least of which included being raised from the dead (kind of) and becoming the god of knowledge (really.) Despite all the good that happened for the character during the New 52, it didn’t leave the character with very many directions to go. Is Batman Gotham, or are there other heroes better suited for that task? Is Batman suicide, willing to sacrifice himself for the cause? Or is Batman like Bane, steeped in tragedy and loss? In the last half of I Am Bane, something beautiful happens with the character that I think that if you haven’t been paying attention, you might miss.

Batman is taken out of the tragedy that inspired him, while Bane is haunted by his own tragic past that holds him back. While the death of Bruce’s parents may have started his quest to rid Gotham of crime, it is now his own heroic nature that keeps him going. He is pulled out of the muck of being a crusader for justice, fighting an unwinnable war—he’s a man, who sees that being Batman and doing Batman things, saving Gotham Girl, stopping Bane, and doing these things with every drop of sweat and blood he can give, as the right thing to do. And because being Batman is the right thing to do, he is going to do it. This is Tom King’s Batman. And, even though I’m late to the party, I’m a fan

 

Gotham: Season 3 Episode 7

By

John McGee

 

WOW! What a night! Did you see all those Harley Quinns? Batmen and Supermen! Jokers and Jack Sparrows—but best of all, that Gotham episode! How did this year’s traditional scarefest top eating candy to your heart’s content? Read on to find out!

The good news:

Tetch is finally reaching the end of his rope. He grabbed his sister’s body and drained her of the last of her poisoned blood. The very, very little of the marketing I saw for Season 3 did nothing to whet my appetite for his character other than the fact that we’d be seeing a Mad Hatter. Now he’s easily become one of the most interesting villains we’ve seen. Ever rhyming (kudos to the writers for bothering with that) he schemes to poison the most powerful people in Gotham with his sister’s blood.

Jim Gordon has to come to grips with his messed up head (and boy does he deliver). He hallucinates facing his demons after lying to Lee about saving her last episode and even Bullock angrily asserting that Jim’s “scared” of the badge. He goes through an elevator with a completely seductive and even vulnerable Barbara. (I have to watch some season 1 episodes again—I’m forgetting what she was like before she was crazy). It was haunting and emotional to see Jim experience life with Lee and kids, failure to Bruce and a tear-jerking conversation with his dad. All hallucinations, all realistic and touching.

Jim Gordon returns as a detective to the GCPD following his soul-searching quest. Finally.

Tetch gets captured and fails to poison the Gotham power heads. Duh.

Penguin, instead of killing Nygma’s girlfriend, tells her that Ed was in Arkham in an attempt to break them up, but it only makes their relationship stronger. They’re made for each other, which means Penguin might ruin it by killing her. The cliché is that Penguin kills people and tantrums when he’s denied what he wants. So hopefully the writers avoid that.

I totally forgot in last episode’s review that Bruce kissed Selina. Now they’re having a little date that she’s late for because “it’s weird for me.” So now she’s in a relationship with a plank of wood. Because that sums up the acting skills we’re getting from Mazouz’s side of this thing. Honestly just watch her. She’s the only one who’s obviously taken classes or just has the talent to show range of emotions and enunciate, say her lines differently each time etc.

The bad news:

The guy seemingly bossing around the Court of Owls lady was wearing the ring that Jim’s dad was wearing in the hallucination. The Court is already being denied proper justice already; now we’re getting sidetracked into Jim’s dad. Great.

Best episode of the year by far. There’s no contest. What a Halloween treat.

9.5/10

Shanlian on Batman Episode 70 – Suicide Squad reviews

The gang is squading up to bring to you their review of Suicide Squad! Justin, Tom, Kyle, and Rheanna are all here to talk about the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly bits of the movie in their opinions. Is this another flop? Is the future of DC movies looking bright? Listen to find out

Batman-On-Film Shanlian On Batman Special Crossover

Batman-On-Film’s founder Bill “Jett” Ramey and his crew team up with the guys from Shanlian on Batman to talk Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice. At this point pretty much everyone has seen this film but in all fairness we must say, obviously, ***THIS PODCAST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BATMAN V SUPERMAN DAWN OF JUSTCE** Now with that being out of the way, come hang out with the BOF & SoB crews while they go over everything that they liked, disliked, would have changed, and interpreted from this film! Don’t forget to visit www.batman-on-film.com for more BOF and as always check SoB out at www.ShanlianOnBatman.com as well as www.PodcastEmpireNetwork.Com

Lords of Film episode 9

All of us got the chance to see the new, Star Wars The Force Awakens. Hear our reactions and thoughts as we run down the film to the best of our memories !!!!!!!THIS EPISODE OF LOF IS HEAVILY *SPOILERS* BASED!!!!!!! we suggest you not listen to this podcast if you have not yet seen Star Wars the Force Awakens. So hang out with Lords of Film as they talk Star Wars!

 

Shanlian On Batman Episode 49 Trailer #2 Break Down

On this Special Edition of Shanlian on Batman, we are coming to you the NIGHT OF with a SoB exclusive trailer break down. Make sure you sync up your internet browser with ours on the new trailer and lets do it again, the “and stop game”! Follow along with the guys while they break down everything they can for the new trailer.