After the abomination of Justice League War, my hopes were teetering with this dc animated movie. Thankfully, I found that they redeemed themselves here. This review will have some spoilers, so if you are looking for my graded rating, skip down to the last paragraph, because spoilery begins here. Animation and sound seemed flawless, so I’ll break the movie down by character and focus on the plot points with them as a whole.
Ra’s Al Ghul: I have to say that I was slightly disappointed in his arc. I had always been under the impression that the Lazarus Pit could heal any wound. Yet he dies in the first five minutes of the film. His grandson and daughter show up minutes after he is burned to death, mere feet from the Lazarus pit, and they didn’t push him into it. Okay, maybe Damian tried, but I don’t see why Talia wouldn’t have. Instead, she stopped her son and said that Ra’s is dead. I found this as a flaw that isn’t forgivable. Otherwise, his swordsmanship was fun to watch in his battle with Slade. It just would have been nice to see a little more back story between the two.
Damian Wayne / Robin: Damian is the perfect material to be a Robin right off the bat. (Pun intended). He’s got an attitude, skills, and the brains suited to make a great sidekick to Batman, but he still needs guidance as he lets brash decisions take over his actions. He grows in this movie from being a rebellious child into understanding (slightly) the error of his ways. Arguably, you could say that Damian in this movie is on his way to becoming the best Robin yet.
Slade Wilson/Deathstroke: Slade has become one of my favorite characters of all time. Between watching the original Teen Titans cartoon from a few years back, and now with Arrow, Deathstroke time and again proves to be a mastermind villain. He takes down the League of Assassins with his own league of mercenary ninjas, and single handedly defeats his old master Ra’s Al Ghul. My only problem here is that I really wanted to know more about WHY he wanted to take over the league. He could have just formed his own, or perhaps come up with another plan, but there really wasn’t much as to why he was doing what he was doing other than he thought he was more worthy of the mantle that had now been passed down to Damian by Ra’s.
Killer Croc: okay so he was only in it for five minutes, but I’m sort of glad. Don’t get me wrong, I love Croc as a character, but this design is downright awful. I understand he was on a new steroid that caused him to grow a tail, but it was just bad. Was he a problem for Batman? Yes. But I just can’t get the fact that he looked like Lizard from The Amazing Spiderman.
Alfred Pennyworth: After seeing what they did with Alfred in Beware The Batman, I’m glad they took a step back and made him what he is known for in this movie. He played a great supporting mentor role to both Batman and Robin.
Dr. Kirk Langstrom / Manbat: More like Man Bats plural. Langstrom being kidnapped and forced to work by Deathstroke was a great story line, but I have a slight issue with the many Man-Bats. I was hoping to just see the one best Man-Bat as him, but instead we had ninja MenBats. I’m not saying this was a bad thing, it just wasn’t up to par with how I would have liked to have seen him portrayed.
Dick Grayson / Nightwing: His role here is perhaps just as important as Damian’s. He arrives as sort of a guide to Damian, even though at first he believes he is one of the badguys. They butt heads quite a bit, but being the original Robin, for him to finally accept Damian in the role just proves that the younger of the pair is meant to be in that costume.
Commisioner Gordon: For the first time in a DC animation, I didn’t feel like the Gotham Police department were all that useless. Did they do much? no. But Gordon seemed to have his head on his shoulders realistically and I can’t wait to see if they continue down this route with future DC animations.
Talia Al Ghul: Talia has always been a problem for me, but not necessarily all in a bad way. In this movie she hasn’t changed the way I feel about her, so here are my thoughts as a whole. I HATE the fact that she kept Damian from his true father for all this time, and then just leaves him in Bruce’s hands. BUT I love the dedicated and badass person she is. The scene in the beginning where she is just kicking ninja ass all over the place shows why there is such an attraction between her and Bruce, but still I’m torn. Part of me likes her and part of me can’t stand her.
Bruce Wayne/Batman: We didn’t see too much of Bruce to judge his role, but as Batman the part was nailed. There isn’t much else to say here. Batman lived up to his namesake yet again.
All in all, I was pleased by Son Of Batman. Deathstroke escaping from his fate might be impossible, but We’ve now got a suitable Robin in the DC animated universe, and Nightwing as well. If they were to do a Batman Incorporated movie, this is the way to kick a few stones in that direction. I give Son of Batman 6 out of 10 sCrypt Coffins mainly for animation and voice direction, but also because it was enjoyable. It would have been higher if those few plot points were tackled in a different manner. I recommend it to any Batman fan.
Where do I begin? I had the opportunity to see an early release of Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 2. If you have been with me for a few months, you may have caught my review of the first part. In that review, I gave it many compliments and more than my seal of approval. So what did I think of the second part? There are SPOILERS AHEAD, so if you want to judge for yourself, skip down to the last paragraph for my spoiler free rating.
I’m not sure what happened with this, but it is definitely a case of “the sequel didn’t stand up to the standards the first one set.” Voice casting was horrible. I still enjoyed Peter Weller as an older Batman, and even the Joker had his moments, but overall it was nothing to write home about.
Portrayal of the Joker was wonderful, aside from the fact that he barely laughed. He was a psychotic maniac killer with no remorse. Other than him though, everything was wrong (and like I said, the voice could have been better – he’s no Mark Hamill).
The story begins with Batman disguised as an old hag in a store. A thug boss named Bruno robs a convenience store. Bruno was drawn horribly. The design was terrible. She wore no shirt with only swastikas over her nipples, and looked like a man. In fact, every female in this cartoon looked transgendered. At the same time, most of the men could have been drag queens. I’m not sure why this was done, but it was annoying. So Batman as the old hag takes out the goons and Bruno, but for some reason never takes a second to remove his old lady disguise. hmmm. Wierd at that.
Then we get to a scene with Clark Kent meeting with Bruce Wayne. Of course Clark hasn’t aged because he is Superman, while Wayne is old. Anyway, Clark is standing on a hill with an eagle on his arm and his shirt unbuttoned. Hair blowing in the wind, this iconic pose makes him closely resemble Fabio more than the hero he is. It is so cheesy, it forced me to shake my head. At the same time, Clark is now working for the President of the United States. By the way, this story is taking place in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan as president. President Reagan’s portrayal is downright awful. From voice acting to design to seeming like a dimwit, it is off on all accounts and downright offensive for some viewers I’m sure.
Finally, we get to a great scene. When the Joker appears on a television talk show, he murders everyone there. I can’t express how great this scene was, and you really get the feel for who the Joker really is. On another note, Batman is a fugitive and facing off against the Gotham City Police Department. On the roof of the building where the murders are happening, the real heroes can’t work together for five minutes, and they just leave the scene without investigating below. Oh, did I mention that Gotham police department is terrible. They can’t hit the broad side of a barn, and never catch their targets.
Apparently Selina Kyle, who is old and obese at this point, is running an escort service. Her cameo here was a little misplaced, but nice to see. While the GCPD is more focused on taking down Batman, he is chasing Joker into a tunnel of love. The amusement park sees its share of death. Joker killing everyone by shooting everything that moves is awesome. Robin’s battle, though short lived, with Joker’s goon ends greatly as well.
Now we get to the battle between Joker and Bats. When Joker gets a batarang in his eyeball, he barely flinches. No pain at all for some reason, and he continues on as if he were wearing an eye patch. At the end of the battle, Batman breaks Joker’s neck, but it doesn’t kill him, it only paralyzes him. Somehow even though he can’t move, Joker manages to finish himself off by making his own neck break sideways. Batman burns his body and is losing his grip on who his is because Joker stabbed him a dozen times in the stomach.
BATMAN SHOULD BE DEAD! but somehow he is immortal and manages to live only to fight Superman a few days later. That’s right I said Superman. After being caught in a nuclear explosion (the animation here is amazing by the way), Superman has not fully recovered. Bats and Supes duke it out, and with a little help by Green Arrow (who now has one arm), Batman beats Superman.
There is a lot I’m leaving out here, because the build up to this moment is great, but I’m not sure how he can even stand against the man of steel since his guts are still sewn together. Ridiculous and useless fight that proved only that Batman is still a force with which to be reckoned.
What really gets me is that Alfred dies of a stroke, which makes sense, and the Wayne manor is burned to the ground. Oh, Bruce Wayne also dies of a heart attack, but at his funeral we find out he faked his death. Not sure how he did this cause it doesn’t explain it. In the end, Wayne, Robin, Oliver Queen and the leftover mutants from part one build a new hideout/cave underground as a Bat-army.
SPOILERS ENDED. Okay, so I skipped a lot of detail, but didn’t want to waste any more of my time talking about something that really disappointed me. Bruce Timm in my opinion is the king of superhero animation, but sadly this interpretation of the graphic novel is not worth the time. Granted, this is only my opinion, but I’m a HUGE fan of ALL the DC animation series and films, and this one has officially replaced “All Star Superman” as the worst one yet. So here I sit, disappointed in something I had very high hopes for. I still recommend checking out part one, but with my rating of 3 out of 10 stars, I can’t say many great things about part 2. Please chime in with your thoughts if you check this one out.
It has taken me a few hours, but now I can breathe and tell you what I thought about The Dark Knight Rises. My rating right off the “bat” (pun intended) is a 9 out of 10. There were a couple problems I had, but I got over them quickly, and I’ll explain below. I am going to go in depth about quite a few of the MAJOR SPOILERS, to perhaps open a discussion. If you’d like a review without spoilers, check out my brother’s review. Again, I will have to warn you that there will be Spoilers after this paragraph.
“And here we go,”… again. Christopher Nolan has given us an epic work of art. This whole trilogy as individual installments was outstanding, but as a whole, they are EPIC! That being said, he has stayed true (for the most part) to the fans of the Batman universe and for one final time, he has pulled no punches. I noticed three things that stood out to me. Elements of this story were taken from four major plots from the 1990s and early 2000s. (Knightfall, Tim Drake, No Man’s Land, and the Talia/Bane relationship.)
It has been 8 years since the death of Harvey Dent, and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse. Batman is no longer needed by the city, and Wayne is basically considered Howard Hughes at this point. Here was my first issue with this point. Could Batman really stay out of it for that long? It seemed like too long of a gap for me. Batman became obsessed in the comics with protecting Gotham. So why can I ignore this? Because he didn’t need to be the bat anymore. The Harvey Dent act made organized crime extinct.
From the explosive opening on the plane, Tom Hardy really shows how menacing Bane is. Okay, so my second problem with the movie was that there was nothing called “Venom” running through tubes to beef up Bane into a monstrosity. Then I saw the movie, and accepted the changes greatfully. Though I would have loved to see that, I think the choice to alter his story slightly was a wise one. His background of being born and raised in prison was kept true to the comics, with the added part of him needing the mask. The mask could have been talked about more, but it was highlighted to the point of knowing that it kept him from feeling any pain.
Still not convinced? Okay, let me put it this way. Say you get into a fight with someone who is visibly a lot stronger than you. There have been plenty of times when the smaller person wins because of speed and size. A smaller person can maneuver around someone and manage to land more hits to take down his/her larger opponent. Now, take the same situation, but substitute someone that can experience no pain for the muscle bound one. Now its a whole different battle. How the hell do you take down someone who you can’t even hurt?
The Camera angles and vicious fight sequences between Bane and Batman made Tom Hardy really look monstrous anyway, so there was no need for the steroid compound. He even punched a chunk of concrete off of a pillar at one point. Oh, and as a fan, I will admit, I had a tear in my eye when he lifted Batman over his head and literally Broke The Bat! It was the exact same scene from the comics, and replayed nicely. I couldn’t believe it.
Christian Bale also did an amazing job as usual. I still want to giggle a little when I hear his Batman Bark, but overall, his performance was great. Bruce Wayne had nothing left to live for, and the emotional scene between him and Alfred, where he tells Alfred “goodbye,” had half the people in the theater choked up. The battle Batman deals with in this movie isn’t just Bane either. He is dealing with his own self managment. He has shut himself out from the world, and has to realize at his deepest darkest hour, what he needed to do. Bane made the Joker look like a joke. He was a terrorist mastermind that even fooled the world’s greatest detective.
Speaking of detectives, John Blake was an unexpected surprise. Joseph Gordon Levitt was probably the highlight of the movie for me. I knew something was up, and from the second he told the background story of his parents and the foster care by Bruce Wayne’s donations, I turned to my wife and said, “Holy $#!+. That’s Robin.” Yes, his name may have been changed, but he literally was Tim Drake from the comics. My suspicions were placed in concrete when Bruce told him that he needed a mask to protect his loved ones, and gave him the coordinates to the batcave. And yes, his first name was revealed to be Robin.
So Batman had a sidekick, and so did catwoman… well, sort of. To my knowledge, they never said what Selina Kyle’s roommate/thief friend’s name was, but she most definitely was Holly Robinson from the comics. A short and fun role that was worked in well. But the highlight here isn’t the sidekick, it’s the main act. Anne Hathaway was the best Selina Kyle/Catwoman I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong. Michelle Pfeiffer was excellent, but I feel that Anne really made the performance top. The head piece and hair could have been done differently for the cat look, and I missed the nails and whip, but she kicked major ass. Both the good guys and the bad guys, really weren’t ready for the beating that she could dish out.
So other than the three main performances, what else can be said? Well, all of the supporting characters (Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon, Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox, and Michael Caine’s Alfred Pennyworth) were a pleasure to watch. Speaking of pleasure, there was also Marion Cottilard as Miranda Tate. I figured it out, from the second that Ra’s Al Ghul was mentioned and Wayne and Tate slept together, that this wasn’t who it appeared to be. I knew she was Talia Al Ghul, but wasn’t expecting the twist (quite literally) that happened when she revealed her true colors. I only wish that if the series were to go on from here, that Talia would have survived with child of Bruce Wayne. Afterall, Damien Wayne (their child) is now the current Robin in the comics, so it would have been something extra, but not needed.
Liam Neeson is another one. He showed up in a brief cameo as Ra’s Al Ghul. I loved how he explained that he was immortal in more ways than one, and that it was just left that way. On the same note, Cillian Murphy reprised his role as Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow. This time he was judge at blackgate prison. I only have this to say… I think that if Heath Ledger was still alive, this role would have been given to him as the Joker. It would have made more sense to have the joker carrying out these sentences in the way they were portrayed, and had Murphy do something else to complete it, but still, it brought a smile to my face, regardless of who was sitting on the judge’s chair.
One final role that I wasn’t expecting was Roland Daggett. In the animated series from the nineties, I recall the one episode with Daggett. How do I remember this? Because in that episode, he was the man directly responsible for the creation of Clayface. He didn’t have a large role and there was no clayface, but it showed that he could be brought in at some point. Another quick throw out was when the police laughed at Gordon’s claim that there was an army of mercenaries in the sewers. Someone said something along the lines of “Sure, and I guess you want me to believe there is a giant alligator down there too.” This was an obvious reference to Killer Croc.
Look, for those of you who might have a problem with the ending, tell me why… I mean, it is obvious that Batman is not dead. He was seen in Florence with Selena Kyle, Gordon had a repaired batlight, and he had a new protege (adopted son) to keep an eye on. It wasn’t Batman that died, it was Bruce Wayne. Don’t you see? This was a potential setup by Chris Nolan so that someone can take these loose ends and run with them. This trilogy was all about Batman beginning. Now he is established. Bruce Wayne doesn’t need to be anymore. Batman is the key. He always was. It was that way in the comics as well. Who knows, maybe a little Helena Kyle (Huntress) could be on their way as well somewhere down the line.
From the number of days it took Wayne to heal his back to the severing of Bane’s tubes, this movie may have altered a few things, but stayed true all around. My brother mentioned the vehicles in his review. I disagree with his view. The Tumbler and Batpod were damn cool, and though I wasn’t too happy about the Bat, it definitely gave me a temporary satisfaction for the batwing.
My final thoughts are this. Please PLEASE PLEASE… whoever is in charge at Warner Brothers/DC, do NOT start this franchise over! Everyone wants to see what happens next. You now have a Justice League movie in the works. This is your first step. Batman exists in a universe. Use that universe. Perhaps Wayne will come off of his sabatical/fake death once the world needs heroes. You can recast him if you need to, but keep Nolan’s universe alive. I will be sad to hear if this truly is the end of such an epic era of Batman.
The Dark Knight has risen to the challenge of what The Avengers has brought to the table. DC has hit as hard as Marvel, now let’s watch each side continue to bring us the most entertaining films of all time! Please, if you have any comments, make them. I’d love to get a discussion going on everyone’s thoughts.