Batman & Harley Quinn

BATMAN and HARLEY QUINN a refreshing update and nostalgic nod with a heavy dose of adult.

Batman and Harley had me at the title and I was even more excited when I noticed Kevin Conroy lending his voice once again to the Batman. What I wasn’t aware of is that not only did this look and sound like the animation I loved as a kid, with the super-long Batmobile and the super-flat Batwing… it sure wasn’t geared for the kid I was but for the adult I now am.

The things Nightwing does for Gotham

No, I don’t read about these things before I watch them, I like to be surprised and then write about it from a fresh perspective, so with the opening scene I realized this ain’t my weekday evening/Saturday morning batman. At first reaction I was all “WTF is this shizz, TIMM??” But I remembered that the previous movie with Timm’s style in it – Justice League: Gods and Monsters – had a healthy dose of adult themes plus robotic “nudity”, so…  I then stepped back and just accepted it for what it is. Not unlike what Genndy Tartakovsky did with the final season of Samurai Jack it looked as if Bruce Timm and Co. brought the nostalgia with all those staples from the series plus the bonus of being aged to the audience that it raised from adolescence.

Bird is the word.

I’m not really sure what to compare this to aside from what I’ve already mentioned but I feel it needs to be stressed that this isn’t for kids. So don’t expect to spend a weekend bingeing on the original series with your kiddos to have a smooth transition into this, it’s chock full of language and sexual innuendos and all sorts of adultsy stuff. But if you do spend that weekend bingeing on the series and the kids finally fall asleep it would be a nice late night cuddle and watch for the more conservative of us Xer’s.

  There are touching moments lending to mortality and humanity in general that I found flowed smoothly with the storyline and as ever when Poison Ivy is concerned there’s an eco-friendly albeit psychopathic message to be found ~ save the Planet at the cost of the people!

Fans looking for strong female characters may rejoice since all the good punches were thrown by the gals, so expect to see Bats and Nightwing get more than a little trounced most of the time – being highly trained martial artists with years of brawling experience – while Harley and Ivy steal the show.

Overall I enjoyed it. This was quite refreshing with its gags and pacing and overall tone. Seeing Bruce Timm’s artistic style back in animation again with the characters we love is one thing but giving them the kind of story and personality you always knew they had but could only hope to see made this one animated movie I’m glad to add to my collection.

I hope you put on some popcorn and give it a watch noting all the things I wanted to put into this blog post but for the sake of spoiler-whiners refrained.

Enjoy!

-VagueRant

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Forgot about Tim Drake

Hi there, it’s been a while. I’ve been fine, just busy in other areas of my life but that’s a story for another time – if I decide to get around to it.

Recently I’ve caught up on movies flying under the radar for lack of general interest in the superhero genre of entertainment. Anyone that knows me knows that if the train is full of passengers that are all going the same destination I’ll probably jump off, finding my path the long way. That’s definitely been the case now due to the super-saturation of super-heroes in nearly every facet of media these days.

Too much of a good thing I guess.

So the DC Universe Animated (not to be confused with kid-friendly, Saturday-morning DC Animated Universe) and most notably the Batman series of flicks have been fun and the detail they go into giving Batman a near flawless martial arts style is amazing (sometimes I catch myself re-winding the scenes just to watch them again in slow motion).

After binge-watching the movies Son of Batman then Batman Vs. Robin and the newly released Batman: Bad Blood I couldn’t help wondering: So, where the hell is Tim Drake?

Any reader of Batman comics should know that name, but if you don’t and you just happen upon this at random and decided to kill some time I’ll fill you in: Dick Grayson was the original Robin, then he grew up, got pugnacious toward his father-like figure and decided to be Nightwing instead. This left a sidekick void in the dynamic duo and soon a kid named Jason Todd found himself under Batman’s guidance becoming the next incarnation of Robin. Readers hated him so Todd, as Robin, was killed off by Joker. Batman, feeling guilty, went on a Robin strike for a while until a young Tim Drake decided to worm his way into the heart of the Caped Crusader and thus became the third and, boldly, best incarnation of Robin.

Of course with the re-tooling of the DC Universe, in the form of 52, things have changed for the character, nevertheless it makes me wonder about his absence in the animated films.

I get that Grayson is a great go-to for fans both burgeoning and long-time alike and he’s personally my favorite non-super-powered, non-Batman character of all time. They made a complete movie about Todd; three movies now with Damian all angsty and childish and mofo’s acting like they forgot about Drake.

I’ve tried doing searches on the topic and have come to no conclusion and it’s weird that these writers/producers and etc. of the films would introduce new Bat-people in the latest film – with an extra kick to the figurative balls of the fictional character in the last minutes of Bad Blood just before the credits. Not even Red Robin (yum!) but Batwing? I don’t get it. I mean if they were afraid of an over-saturation of bat-themed characters they really should have quit a few bats ago. It still doesn’t really explain Drake’s lack of presence and I can’t be the only person that notices this or *gulps* cares.

Maybe?

All this retcon and rehashing of tired themes and trite characters has taken it’s toll on this middle-aged dude. It’s probably one of the crappiest things about having grown up in the late 80’s-90’s reading comics (and their absolute worthlessness now saddens me but for the kindling it may someday provide).

Eventually I may do reviews on the movies. I’ll have to re-visit them and take notes. I’ve been meaning to do the same for the Direct-to-Video Justice League: Gods and Monsters; in short I liked it. The mystery is “why”.

Thank you. Come again!

-VR

The Duplex Pt.1

A few years ago a boy and a girl met each other through average circumstances, happening time and again, that found them getting closer and closer to each other until the day came when they were holding hands. They married. It was a mixed reception – the news of their marriage, not the reception – because there wasn’t one: they had eloped.

Years later, trial filled years later, they brought into the world a baby boy. This baby, the culmination of the light and love his parents had for each other made manifest into the form of a human being they named Avery. The parents, though loving their son, suddenly found their once endearing differences being too difficult to live with and chose to split up. Not wanting the family to be completely separated the dad suggested selling their current house and moving into a duplex. The mother initially protested saying it would be too weird potentially seeing her once husband bringing guests home and she didn’t want it to be weird for him either, in retrospect. The dad, considering her thoughts, still pressed the practicality of the idea, how it will help their situation while giving their son a modern sense of family (though grumbling under his breath at the idea of dating again). Mom reluctantly agreed.Duplex

Many weekends wasted productively and one exhausted Realtor later the mom and dad found a place they could agree upon. It was two-story, had three bedrooms that mirrored one another, a sizable kitchen space and a joint laundry facility. They moved in, each parent to their chosen place of residence with the rearmost bedroom for their son. One day when the dad tried to install a wall-mounted shelf in his sons room on his side of the duplex he knocked a hole through the wall revealing a large square frame in the support structure that could be used to make a door or passageway between the two sides of the duplex. The mom wasn’t so happy about the mess of the discovery and though they fixed the hole into a passageway they covered it up with a bookshelf and some curtains. It remained so for many years until one day…..

-VR

Prime pain.

Maybe you’re one of the lucky one’s, though if you’re reading this there’s a significant chance you’re not.

Transformers Prime
Free? Ha! We'll teach you the meaning!

This Easter weekend there is a buy-one-get-one[…] sale at Toys ‘R’ Us on several different items. What I’m interested in are the Transformers Prime Deluxe figures. I don’t know what it is about animated series’ and their figures but I have to have them all! ALL!! *insert crazy laugh*

When I rolled off the couch this morning and when I went out to the driveway to pick up the news paper from the next town over – somehow we keep getting them but I won’t complain – there was no idea in my head that I would be driving all over the place trying to get a free DVD.

Yeah, you read that right. Not only could I buy a figure at full price and get another for half the price but since the purchase would put me barely over $20 I could get a free DVD too. And heck, maybe 2 if I wanted!

Well it didn’t happen.

Seems Toys “R” Us got the sales paper all printed and the stores all ready for all the offers – and there are plenty, which reminds me… – without shipping Transformers Prime DVD’s to their stores. I guess the “free” part of the deal meant that you’re “free” of having them in your possession. Oh well.

Maybe it’s just a North Texas thing, maybe it’s an all-over thing. I only tried 2 local stores. But if you, random reader, have gotten the DVD along with your full and-a-half priced figures then count yourself among the elite.

-VR

Update: I got the DVDs!
A very Lucky employee at one of the local TrU called me Saturday morning with the news that they had finally gotten the DVDs in. I picked them up only to realize that you really do get what you pay for – sometimes less than what you pay for too – and “free” isn’t much to pay.

Now, let’s see if the Freebird’s/Edge Fest free tickets deal is something to be excited about.

Madhouse’s ::Redline:: High-octane Entertainment!

Movie Poster

It’s only just recently that I’ve even heard of this film and that was by some accident I can’t even remember. That totally knocks my fandom down to just below “avid”.

When I watched it I wasn’t sure why I was so out of the loop. Oh and it was amazing!

 After reading that Madhouse produced it I knew the animation was going to be interesting. Madhouse always manages to hyper-stylize their animations to a sometimes nauseating degree but always manage to pull it off with a story that keeps you watching. Redline wasn’t the exception and I found it enjoyable all the same. Oh, and it may come as no surprise that Redline isn’t for kids.

Alien child with parent.

The best way I can describe the movie would be to compare it to that of Episode I having been directed by Wachowski’s, i.e. Speed Racer and animated to boot.

Typical Redline fans.

  Redline appealed to the senses that mattered. The music fit the scenes, the scenes were interesting enough to cover up some weak parts of the story, the story was a typical lucky-reckless-underdog-beats-all-odds-gets-girl type love story. A little cliché. Sounds dull but they add a few sub-stories for an overall grasp of the Universe not to mention they do throw in a little nudity, if you’re into that sort of thing animated. It’s really only when the characters finally make it to the Redline races that all hell breaks loose and we’re able to kick back and enjoy it.

The racers that we want to succeed in this film are human while the other racers are alien. There are several eccentric humanoid characters like the violent Batman/Robin knockoffs (which I found pretty funny) and the undefeated Redline champion who modifies his body for direct interfacing with his car. Craziness!

The Action, the Suspense!

Since it’s based in a fictitious interstellar setting we’re slightly, visually graced with an odd assortment of creatures and cultures watching the live coverage of the races like so many avid NASCAR fans. But this is nothing like NASCAR. I actually enjoyed it.

That’s really all I have to say. Inspired, no?

-VR

Movie Review – L’Illusionniste (The Illusionist)

Animation is something that has always been entertaining and that’s why I’ve taken the time to write about the different installments in that film genre which I’ve been lucky enough to see and enjoy.

With the 83rd annual Academy Awards approaching – where they hand out the Oscars for those outside the know – I felt like seeing their nominations in the way of animation.

Alright, I don’t want you to assume I actually keep up with that stuff. I get emails from the Angelika theater about what’s showing and why. When I noticed they’re showing a foreign Animation made by the director of The Triplets of Belleville, I thought to myself why not? and jumped right on it.

Caution: Minor Rabbit Trail

The IllusionistThat movie, The Triplets…, was pretty good – what I mean to say is the animation was great! I just didn’t get the movie at all. The characters weren’t all that likable and the story left me wanting something a little more (however the song from the film is still stuck in my head. It’s catchy although hard to understand).

But it’s been a few years now that I’ve become more open to different animation styles and story’s. It hasn’t been too easy for me to admit that Ralph Bakshi is even a great animator but… he is. Revolutionary, could describe his style; a merging of live action with animation. In his day, he took animation back to its roots with adult themed situations, while keeping the themes relevant to the  modern times they represented which is a big old plus in my book. Always controversial and misunderstood.

Minor Rabbit Trail: End

Since I love both animation and foreign films I decided to take a look at the movie: L’Illusionniste or what we here in the states and for those that speak English in general would naturally call The Illusionist. I didn’t know anything about the film so this is all based solely on my experience and perception. Neat huh?

What I have to say might shock you if you haven’t seen the film and I’ll try my hardest not to spoil anything but this movie is – for lack of a better word – beautiful. I’m not saying the animation and the artistry of it was, in limitation, what made this film immaculate; it was very well paced, well written and an all around wonderful experience. That’s not something I say lightly; I would normally reserve such expressions of “awe” for the experiences had with the different Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli films I have seen. The difference: this movie had great build up and kept you there. It didn’t boast of anything that it couldn’t fulfill.

Leaving Paris

The film, set initially in Paris, 1959, is about a man who is a vaudeville performer, a Magician – or Illusionist, naturally. He’s an older man I’d place in his late 40’s. Yes, that’s what I would call “older”.

He doesn’t seem to have much luck with entertaining people or drawing in the crowds anymore and his “assistant” is a vicious animal that causes him more trouble than he can really afford.

Britoons
Waiting on “Billy Boy and the Britoons” to finish their set.

You’re not given any back story so you really don’t know why this man insists on doing this job; maybe it was a dream he had as a child and he’s living it out. Some things in the film hint at this but it’s mostly left open to interpretation which is a great feat in any method of storytelling.

Another train ride.
An example of the beautiful animation. Sorry the quality isn’t that great.

As long as you can lead an audience and gently let them drift off into their own conclusion and still manage to keep everyone happy then you’ve done a great job. The score by Sylvain Chomet is amazing, fitting and filling every scene to perfection, and rightly so! – Since he’s the director.

When I first watched this movie I felt like it was a sad story, but I watched it again and felt better about it. It’s easy to feel bad for the main character because he looks so pathetic and you can tell he loves what he does but I couldn’t help feel that he was sabotaging himself more than anything, greedy people or not.

Curious Alice
Alice wandering about.

The characters are all alike in the way of “dreams” it seems: they all have them and are trying to pursue them. Some of them manage to make it outside their professions and make ends meet but there are those that still suffer for their passions and professions and it’s worth noting how well L’Illusionniste is able to convey that.Scotsman
“The Illusionist” is a great film for people of all ages. It surpasses its directors predecessor The Triplets of  Belleville by leaps, bounds and class. It does however contain scenes of drinking and rock-and-roll so if you’re the type that’s easily offended by this then you should probably skip it until you are open to the fact that people do this and it’s normal. If for no other reason watch this movie so you can know that Magicians do, indeed exist.

Thanks for reading!

-VR

Holiday Score!

For the Holiday’s I chose to disable my Facebook account because:

  1. I don’t really care how happy and wonderful people think their families are.
  2. I really don’t like it when people have an alert to when my birthday or anniversary is. If they want to know then they can ask and wish when they want and not have to be “pressured” into something possibly insincere.
  3. I could not care any less how awesome your significant other is and what they got you and what you got them; feeling like I have to compare notes or something so meaningless as that isn’t what I call “fun”.
  4. No, I don’t want to go to your party unless you can go that extra mile and call me. It’s so token to invite a bunch of people through a social network and expect them to contribute food-stuffs.
  5. If I’m not that special you’re not that special either.

It’s not that I don’t think I’m a Grinch or something comparable. I know that I am actually because my birthday – which just happens to be 2 days after my anniversary – is 2 weeks before the biggest commercially driven Holiday ever(!) and 3 weeks before the apocalypse of the year in which I had just spent a good part adapting to.

So whatever.

It’s a new year and a new age to remember and hope I get it right.

All that said, I think I did good this past Christmas. Only two people gave gifts I actually wanted but the other gifts aren’t bad either. I can probably make some money selling them on Craig’s List or potentially re-gifting them later on. You really can’t go wrong with gift cards unless they’re for some random place most people have never heard of. The true spirit of a cheerful, giving person indeed!

All I wanted was any of the items I had accumulated in my Amazon wishlist(s). Not just in any random order though. If it’s a series I wanted them in order not just #3 here and #5 there.

By now I’m sure you’ve realized that I’m an avid reader of graphic novels and really a big kid at heart or in whole.

No?

Well I am. Honest!

My favorite is Flight.  For those not in the know it’s like one of those anthology series that have short stories in them by different artists and writers and sometimes featuring collaborations between several of them. So far I’ve gotten them all with the exception of volume #’s 6 and 7. And yes, they are listed on the aforementioned wishlist.

So Christmas came and Santa brought me Flight Volume #6 along with an Iron Fist action figure, which, for a guy that I haven’t believed in for years, was a pretty snazzy thing to do!

And because Kazu Kibuishi is the editor, cover artist and often contributor to the Flight books – and probably hand-presses the pages made from his own ink and paper recipes – I wanted to get his Amulet series which was also listed as a wishful item.

Kibuishi has a beautiful style that meets my fantasy needs and he hasn’t let me down yet! Just Google him and check out some covers to the previous Flight books and you’ll see what I’m talking about. That’s not to say that the other contributors to the Flight books aren’t equally as talented, but I didn’t score any of their books for Christmas so no need for honorable mentions, right?

Along with the books and action figure I also managed to score a couple stocking-stuffer movies I’d wanted for years now but had been reluctant to buy myself:

  1. Sling Blade – which is an awesome movie on so many different levels. Don’t sweat the fact it’s a drama because if you pay close enough attention to it you’ll end up laughing your ass off! It’s guarenteed to offend just about anyone on any level.
  2. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – another clever and vulgar yet funny movie. I know Robert Downey Jr. seemed to reinvent himself with the Iron Man flicks but I think this one helped push that metamorphosis along.. Though I’m not sure wtf is up with the name. My nerdy hope originally was that it was based loosely on a dead comic book series of the same name but no such luck. en Espanol?

Since Christmas was a while ago now I’ve come across a few more great finds that I’ll have to get around to posting about at some point in the hopefully near future.  I will say that Half Price Books is a great resource for any books, games and DVD’s. I can’t promise they’ll have exactly what you’re looking for, but oftentimes neither can they and I find more things there that I forgot I wanted than what I actually went in to find. Ha!

So kiddo’s, the moral of this story is throw out the joy and great cheer and give me presents that I actually want for Christmas. Is it too much to ask?