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Batman DCAU Movies

Review of Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018)

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is a classic graphic novel written by Brian Augustyn and drawn by Mike Mignola. The novel focuses on Batman who is trying to stop the murder spree of Jack the Ripper in Victorian-era Gotham City. Warner Brothers Animation and DC Comics adapted this entertaining story in 2018 as an animated movie. Bruce Greenwood returns as Batman with Sam Liu handling the directing duties yet again for another DC animated film. The final result is a boring, loose adaptation that does not feature any thrills like the original novel.

Jack the Ripper is wreaking havoc in the streets of Gotham. The film begins with the Ripper carving up a prostitute in a dark alley who happens to be Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy is not included in the graphic novel. This appearance of her is a wasted cameo that is not needed. Batman is on the Ripper’s trail, but he arrives too late to save Ivy. Batman is inexperienced in the movie as it is easy to tell that Bruce has not been a vigilante for long.

Batman versus the Ripper.

In the first act, the film introduces several characters into the movie that were not in the graphic novel. Poison Ivy, Doctor Hugo Strange, the three Robins, Selina Kyle, and Harvey Bullock all make appearances. Characters from the graphic novel that are included in the movie are Bruce Wayne/Batman, Jim Gordon, and Alfred. The movie is missing one significant character that is important to the plot of the novel. The character is Jacob Packer who turned out to be the Ripper in the comic.

Selina.

Selina Kyle and Jim Gordon are the intriguing characters with the best story arcs. Kyle is a wealthy businesswoman who runs a popular dance show in Gotham. The Ripper tries to make her a victim in the film. She shows that she is fierce and unafraid of the Ripper’s deadly game. In their fight scene, Kyle is a fantastic fighter which audiences know is not a surprise. However, the surprise is that the Ripper is an expert hand-to-hand combatant. The surprise does give away who the villain is if viewers are paying attention. Gordon is a mysterious inspector for the Gotham police who seems to be hiding something. Gordon is hellbent on catching the Ripper. The film’s version of Gordon is a man who is untrustworthy. Gordon plays a pivotal role in the Ripper reveal scene that is nowhere near as satisfying as the graphic novel.

The adaptation is decent. It is not as bad as the adaptation of Batman: The Killing Joke. The character details for Gordon and Kyle are what keeps this movie somewhat entertaining. This movie is the 26th film that I have added to my movies for pluviophiles list on Letterboxd. Final rating: 2.5/5.

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Batman DCAU Movies

Batman: Ninja

There are plenty of Batman stories to read, watch, or play. Batman: Ninja is truly a different Batman story. What would it be like if Batman operated in Japan? Ancient Japan that is. In this movie, Batman is transported to Japan in a mission that involves time travel.

Gorilla Grodd created a time machine to use against the villains of Gotham City. Grodd is a villain that is not normally seen in Batman animated movies. Grodd being an antagonist in this film gives the Batman animated movies fresh material. Grodd’s plan is to send the Gotham villains to the past, so Grodd can take over the city. Batman interferes which causes Grodd, Batman, and all of the villains to get sent to the past to Japan.

It’s clearly evident that this film’s stylistic choices are inspired by anime. The animation of the characters is odd. Characters move robotically and rigidly. There are beautiful nature shots in the film, such as rain falling over the forest where Batman keeps his hideout. The character designs are an artistic fusion of Japanese art while keeping true to the DC characters.

The plot makes odd choices in its storytelling. For example, in ancient Japan, the villains create robotic fortresses. There would’ve been no way for this to happen in reality. The robotic fortresses can turn into one gigantic robot if the villains bring the fortresses together. Batman’s idea for stopping the robot is even more absurd. Batman takes Grodd’s device that controls monkeys. He makes the monkeys come together to form a towering monkey. After that, he calls upon bats to combine with the monkeys to make a Batman as tall as the robot. It’s epic, but ridiculous. The movie should’ve played it safe. It could’ve been a stealthy Batman flick where he has to be a ninja in order to take out his foes.

Batman: Ninja is an artsy film with crazy plot choices. I do recommend watching for anime fans. It is something different from the Batman universe. The movie is a fun, over-the-top adventure.

Overall rating: 3/5.

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Batman DCAU

Review–Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016)

In 2016, DC Comics and Warner Brothers Animation decided to bring back the campy atmosphere of the 1960’s Batman television series. Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin) return as the dynamic duo in a new adventure set in the 1960’s Batman universe. DC Comics also manages to bring back Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman in the original show. While the plot to this movie is messy, it still is an exciting adventure with plenty of laughs and intriguing concepts.

The story focuses on Batman and Robin once again trying to thwart Riddler, Joker, Catwoman, and Penguin from their nefarious schemes. I enjoy their schemes in this film because the crew try to rule the world from outer space. Obviously, realistically, this couldn’t be achieved by the villains. In the absurd universe of this Batman show, anything is virtually possible. Batman actually owns a rocket in this movie that helps him to get to outer space with Robin. I never thought that I would see a Batman story with a batrocket. After this sequence, the plot does start to wander in different directions though there are story beats that keep it together. While in space, Catwoman gives Batman what she calls “batnip.” Batnip makes Batman evil and causes him to use a ray gun that makes multiple versions of himself. Robin and Catwoman team up to take Batman down as Catwoman didn’t plan for Batman to be this evil. Batman has control of Gotham, but is thwarted from his plans. Batman snaps out of his batnip spell to realize that the trio of Riddler, Joker, and Penguin are executing heists while Gotham is distracted with evil Batman. The dynamic duo thwart the three, while Catwoman gets away with the treasures.

The voice acting is top notch. It’s like audiences are being taken back to the 1960’s. West and Ward sound like they haven’t aged a day in the movie. It is nice to see that West got to reprise the character before his passing. West’s take on Batman will always be a major part in pop culture history as well as the history of Batman. I highly recommend people checking this movie out.

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Batman DCAU Movies

Review–Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

In 2016, DC Comics brought to life Alan Moore’s and Brian Bolland’s classic graphic novel–Batman: The Killing Joke. There was excitement in the air for the animated adaptation of this amazing story. I imagine that the excitement fizzled out quickly after people watched this movie. Warner Brothers’ Animation couldn’t quite catch the magic of the graphic novel. Mark Hamill couldn’t save this film with his exhilarating performance as the Joker.

The filmmakers add thirty minutes worth of scenes that focus on Barbara Gordon/Batgirl for the sake of the plot. In the original graphic novel, Barbara Gordon does play a key role in the book, but she’s not a main character in it. The book is mainly about the deadly relationship between Batman and Joker. The movie makes Barbara feel like the protagonist of the movie, then abandons the concept. It feels like an attempt to make viewers care about her more before the scene where she’s shot in the spine happens. In reality, the scenes degrade her. They have an awkward romantic subplot where Barbara has a crush on Batman/Bruce Wayne. The crush leads to an unnecessary sex scene between Barbara and Bruce that isn’t needed. If anything, it just hurts her character more.

In regards to the acting, Mark Hamill (Joker) and Tara Strong (Batgirl) put on the best performances. Kevin Conroy (Batman) sounds boring with his take this time around. Conroy does a great job with the final sequence in the film where Batman laughs at a joke that the Joker tells. Otherwise, he’s phoning it in. Hamill shows his range as the Joker during the scenes where Joker’s seen as a petty criminal before the accident that turns him into the clown prince of crime. It is weird, but exciting to see Hamill play Joker with a more serious tone. Tara Strong is bold as Batgirl. She gives Barbara plenty of emotion when the character needs it.

This film could have been better than what it was. Instead of adding these Batgirl scenes, I feel like they could have added scenes to go more in depth with the rivalry of the Joker and Batman. That’s what the original book is about is how far is this rivalry going to go. The graphic novel deserves a better adaptation. Maybe there will be another attempt in the future.

Overall rating: 2.5/5.

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Batman DCAU Movies

Review: Batman and Harley Quinn (2017)

As I continue my quest watching the DC Comics’ animated movies, I stumbled across one of the films that may be the worst entry in the DC universe. Batman and Harley Quinn is an awkward film that I’m surprised got greenlit to be made. Bruce Timm, one of the showrunners on the amazing Batman: The Animated Series, wrote the story to this movie and produced it. I’m shocked at how this movie turned out. It’s a bland attempt at comedy that over sexualizes Harley Quinn.

The movie is animated similarly to the animated series. It’s similar via the backgrounds that the movie uses. In the animated series, the night sky would sometimes be colored brown or red. Batman and Harley Quinn features a consistent red sky throughout the movie. The design of the buildings and the structures in this film draw inspiration from the animated series. The structures show how huge Gotham is while taking in a gothic architectural design. As for the characters, they’re not in the same vein. The characters are drawn in the ways of modern day Warner Brothers animation. Some of the background characters had the same animation style as Scooby Doo cartoons. None of it fit together. It didn’t look right.

The characters in this movie are a mess. Batman is out of character in some scenes such as one scene where he laughs at a bad fart gag with Harley Quinn. Harley Quinn is over sexualized as there’s a camera shot of her in her underwear with the camera zoomed in on her butt. That’s not the worst part. Harley Quinn and Nightwing have an awkward romantic scene together where Nightwing is tied up on Harley’s bed. The film plays it off as a comedic gag. It comes off as gross and unfunny.

There’s nothing exhilarating about the plot. Batman and Robin team up with Harley Quinn to stop Poison Ivy and Floronic Man from turning the earth into a forest. The filmmakers had the chance to turn this into a serious movie about eco-terrorism. Nope. The movie tries to be a comedy with awkward jokes that feel aged. The only interesting beat in the film is that Harley is trying to live a normal life in the first act of the movie. That’s an interesting concept to build upon.

I give this movie a 1 out of 5. Bruce Timm can do better.

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DCAU Movies

DC Showcase- Jonah Hex

DC Comics and Warner Brothers Animation have released several DC animated movies. With a few of the movies, DC will throw in an animated short with the movie as an extra feature. I’m going to talk about the short that came with Batman: Under The Red Hood. The short features wild west gunslinger Jonah Hex. Thomas Jane stars as the facially scarred cowboy.

The plot begins with a mysterious drifter coming to a western town. He enters the bar, demands a drink, and goes upstairs with one of the prostitutes. The drifter is played by Michael Rooker, who starred as Yondu in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. His voice…just doesn’t fit a cowboy character. Also, this short isn’t worth his time as the prostitute, Madame Lorraine, kills Rooker’s drifter character off immediately. The scene is to establish that Lorraine is a sneaky villain, who happens to be attractive. She’s a killer using her saloon to hide her true intentions. Lorraine is played by Linda Hamilton, who people may know from The Terminator franchise.

Lorraine with the drifter.

In the next scene, Jonah Hex rides into the same town as now it has become daytime. Hex strolls up to the bar where Lorraine operates. A punk kid shows up telling Hex that he could take Hex out in a duel. Hex lays the punk out by swinging the bottom of his rifle at him. Thomas Jane delivers his first lines here, which are brief. His voice is deep, going for a gravelly tone. It sounds similar to his voice when he played Frank Castle in The Punisher.

Hex.

After getting rid of the punk, Hex walks into the bar with everyone’s eyes on him. He tells the bartender that he’s looking for a man named Red. Red happens to be the name of the drifter that Lorraine killed the night before. Hex pays a prostitute who tells him all about Lorraine, then the prostitute leaves town. Hex buys everyone in the bar a round, which catches the attention of Lorraine. Lorraine takes Hex upstairs to kill him, but it doesn’t work. Hex fights off her two henchmen along with her. After getting rid of the henchmen, Hex demands Lorraine to take him to Red’s dead body so he can claim the bounty. Lorraine takes him to a huge hole in the ground where she dumps her victims. Hex and Lorraine get to the bottom of the hole via ropes. Hex gets the dead body, escaping with a rope. He withdraws the other rope and abandons Lorraine in the dark hole to die.

This short is straightforward. It’s a simple, predictable plot. I did enjoy Lorraine as the antagonist. There isn’t enough screen time for her to truly flex her muscles as a villain. She seems like she could be formidable. I digged the animation along with the dark colors of the film. It gives the movie a gothic, eerie tone. I recommend hardcore DC fans to watch it.

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DCAU Movies

Jalapeno Black Reviews Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000) (Part 1)

Two years after the release of Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero (1998), Warner Brothers Animation released a new Batman animated movie. This time they decided to give Batman Beyond its own feature length film. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker saw the return of the mad clown as well as Mark Hamill as the voice. This may arguably be the best Batman animated movie as it pushed to be dark as well as bold for its time. It is also a creative mixture of suspense, mystery, and science fiction.

Joker mysteriously appears years later in Gotham City. He is older and has a gang of young adults who are doing his bidding. Terry McGinnis, Bruce Wayne’s protege, wants to take the fight to the Joker while Bruce Wayne is in shock that the Joker is back. Normally, fans don’t see Bruce in a surprised state, but he is definitely surprised to say the least. Bruce is surprised because he holds a secret that pertains to the Joker.

Bruce and Barbara Gordon try to keep Terry away from this case. They know how dangerous the Joker is. The Joker somehow infiltrates the Batcave to attack Bruce. This part in the film really started to get me intrigued into the mystery because Joker has never infiltrated the Batcave in the cartoons as far as I can remember. Terry finds Bruce lying on the floor on the verge of death. Joker poisoned Bruce with his toxin which Bruce has an antidote for. After Terry cures Bruce with the antidote, Bruce unveils the dark secret about the Joker.

I enjoyed this sequence of the film. A scene such as this probably wouldn’t have been allowed on the Batman Beyond animated series. Years ago, when Bruce was still Batman and Barbara was Batgirl, Joker kidnapped Robin (Tim Drake). Joker tortured the young boy. He tortured Drake psychologically into thinking that Drake could be Joker’s son. The effects on Drake are visible as the animators made Drake look horrifying as a miniature Joker. Although Drake has clearly suffered from the torture, he does something no one in the animated universe has done. He kills the Joker. The death is shocking, but Joker dying would make the world a better place.

I’m going to break this post into two parts so check later for part two!