Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans Review


It’s time to look at the most recent Teen Titans Go! movie. This one brings back the classic Teen Titans for a quick crossover event. While the film doesn’t manage to be quite as fun as the first Titans Go movie it’s definitely still a quality film in its own right. You’ve got action, comedy, and a final boss. What else would you even need right? One thing to watch out for is the opening credits makes the interesting decision of spoiling the entire film. It literally goes section by section from start to finish and shows all of the big scenes. It’s a very odd choice.

The movie starts off by showing us that the Teen Titans have still got it as they beat the Gentleman Ghost. People may doubt their abilities, but they shouldn’t because these kids are the real deal. Things get a little hectic when a portal appears and they’re all kidnapped. It turns out that the Master of Games is kidnapping Teen Titans from various universes to make them fight. The Go Titans are eager to start the battle while the modern ones just want to find a way to save their world. It looks like both of them may have to team up, but can the two groups possibly learn to work with each other in time?

Going forward I’m going to call the original Titans the Gen 1 crew and the others will just be referred to normally since they are the main characters here. The Titans act about as well as you’d expect them to. They’re still treated like comic relief because even they acknowledge that they aren’t serious the way that the Gen 1 guys are. They can’t help but constantly be at the center of the gags. The only one who tries to be serious is Robin and even then he is constantly overshadowed by his Gen 1 version. I’ll give him points for effort though and he’s the only Titan who really understands the gravity of the situation. He needs the portal device and he needed a win to secure the team’s confidence. It’s just a shame that he isn’t able to fight quite as well as the others. The other Titans are all on point except for the fact that Starfire was not taking this seriously enough. None of them were all that serious, but at least they tried in the tournament. Starfire was too busy trying to make friends to do much of anything which was disappointing.

As for the Gen 1 crew, it was fun to see them again. Robin and Raven probably get the most to do here. Raven has a lot of experience with the demonic realm so she coaches the kid version on this. Meanwhile Robin is ready to lead the team and he definitely does not like the baby titans. He’s constantly belittling them and when they don’t listen to reason he is quick to put them down. Gen 1 Robin certainly enjoys being the leader and makes sure to stretch things out when possible. After all this is his chance to lead two different teams to victory so you can bet that he is going to milk this as much as he can. It’s just an opportunity that he cannot miss.

The movie moves pretty quickly through the different phases to the climax so it never drags on. I didn’t feel like any of the humor was all that bad either. I would consider this to be one of the stronger Teen Titans Go episodes if it was on TV. The return of Santa Claus was also a lot of fun. It’s always great to see him as an antagonist and he is one of their tougher opponents. Of course taking on a group this large would be difficult even for the greatest of villains.

Then we’ve got more crossover appeal towards the end of the film. If you managed not to see who was included already then I won’t spoil it for you. Needless to say it’s a pretty solid lineup. I would have liked to have seen them all a little more to be honest, but what we got was pretty neat. Imagine if the whole film was the tournament though and we got to see a lot of different verses duke it out. That would have been really cool and then this probably would have beaten the original film. The animation here does look pretty good, but more standard than the first movie. The colors are a little brighter and there is extra detail either way. There’s no super catchy theme like we got in the first film, but I guess it’s hard for Lightning to strike twice.

Where the film really shines is in how absurd the whole thing is. The Go characters are in full parody mode and they just don’t care what the Gen 1 group thinks. They’re here to have fun and nobody’s going to stop them. That straight forward goal really keeps the film going and it’s why you don’t even need the crossover aspect for this to be a success. The group can hold their own as is. If anything I’m just glad that the Gen 1 group weren’t too obnoxious in trying to question the Go characters at every turn. They quickly learned that the Go characters weren’t going to change and just rolled with it.

Overall, Teen Titans Go vs Teen Titans is a fun film. While it’s a versus title there isn’t a lot of action between the two teams. A good chunk of the action scene is just comedy, but to an extent that is to be expected with these guys. It’s probably the only vs title I would give a pass to because of that. Whether you’ll enjoy this film or not is completely dependent on whether or not you enjoy the Go series. If you like the TV show then you’ll like the film and if you don’t like the show then the movie won’t be for you. This basically feels like an extended few episodes and it’s really a movie for the fans. It brings all the best qualities of the show together.

Overall 7/10

Manga

Batman and the Justice League


Who’d have thought that DC comics would have another manga at long last right? This one’s actually got an ongoing plot and it’s the first time I’ve gotten to see the Justice League in this format. It’s off to a good start and I’m expecting good things to continue. I’ll have a review for this series up once I finish it.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Reign of the Supermen Review


It’s time to look at a pretty recent Superman film. This one is the follow up to the big battle with Doomsday that came out a while back. It’s a solid follow up that doesn’t quite match the action and intensity of the earlier film, but does give Superman’s supporting cast more of a role. If the last film was an end of the world type event then this film is the quick breather before things get back to end of the world stakes.

The film starts off by introducing us to the Supermen who have arrived to take over for Superman. One of these guys is Superboy who was created by Lex to show the world that the new Superman is under his leadership. He is fairly strong, but definitely has an ego and doesn’t seem ultra heroic. Then you’ve got Steel who doesn’t have any fancy super powers, but he does have his hammer which is pretty sturdy. You’ve got the Eradicator who is the most merciless of the Supermen and has made it his life
s goal to destroy all of the criminals. Even if the law doesn’t recognize someone as a criminal like Lex Luthor the Eradicator will try to take him down. Finally you’ve got the Cyborg Superman who claims to be the real one. He definitely seems the most compassionate of the 4 and the most powerful as well, but is it too good to be true? Lois must get to the bottom of this and get some closure on the status of Superman.

I’m less familiar with this follow up arc compared to the Doomsday one, but the film seems like a good take on it. Definitely more of a loose adaption since it’s putting this one in the New 52 continuity along with the Justice League. I miss the Blue and Red Supermen since I think they were in the original arc, but it is possible that they came in a little after. Either way, the important thing isn’t so much the adaption, but just how it stands up on its own.

First off the animation is still really good. I like the New 52 style animation, it’s actually decently close to how DC used to look at its peak. It may not be the DCAU, but it’s one of the next best things. It works well for the action scenes as well as the general landscape around the fights. Then the soundtrack is decent although not really memorable. The sounds and such work well during the film which is what counts.

From the 4 Supermen my favorite is still Cyborg Superman. He’s always been one of the better Superman characters so it’s nice to see him here. He may not be one of the most popular Superman villains, but he is still known well enough where people will probably be able to see through him pretty quick. His character arc goes down a pretty different path here as he actually works for someone which is a bit out of character. He does rectify this by the end which is good though. Then we have the Eradicator who is the next best member of the Supermen. It’s pretty interesting to see a Suprman who uses energy blasts instead of his fists. There’s a twist about his identity which works pretty well. It also makes him very versatile since he can really go anywhere.

Superboy is fun enough. He feels like the B grade version of Damian though. He is super confident, but tends to lose the fights he is in. It’s not his fault that he happens to be in a film with guys who are way stronger than him, but you would think that it would tone down his confidence a bit. He also has one critical moment where he just abandons someone to die as well. As I said, he’s just not very heroic. I think he’ll only get better from here on out though. Then you’ve got Steel who is the most out of his league here. He’s got a hammer, but what’s that gonna do against people who are as strong as Kryptonians? They can just shatter the hammer with ease. Steel means well though and he’s definitely a nice guy. He always gives me flashbacks of the old Steel film. I’m sure he’ll continue to be a useful ally as the films go on.

I do think that including the Justice League and the Darkseid plot was a bit of a mistake though. The main issue is that it brings in a lot of extra power level situations that aren’t actually needed here. One big question you’ll have is where are the League and what are they doing about the Superman situation. Well..not much of anything. Wonder Woman mentions that they’re stretched thin and then later on when they show up to help the President none of them actually want to go talk to Cyborg Superman. The way that they are written out of the film is also on the lazy side. You won’t actually be able to buy the scene for a second, not as long as someone like the Flash is there. This subplot does lead into the after credits scene which will likely be one of the best of the new line of DC titles. It still could have happened without the League actually appearing though. Just have the Cyborg Superman plot twist happen at the very end as he’s being defeated which leads to the cliffhanger. Darkseid and the gang are hype, but you know there’s no time for a proper round 2 anyway, that needs its own film.

The writing here is pretty solid. You’ve got an interesting plot that, while it may not have a whole lot of replay value thanks to the minimal amount of fights, makes for a good watch. It’s a fresh story so you’re ready to see where it leads you. The pacing here is good and it’s always interesting to see a world without Superman. The only scene that does drag on quite a bit is when Lois meets up with Wonder Woman. It seemed like a homage to one comic where they met up, but the dialogue was a lot stronger there. This scene mainly feels like it’s trying to buy time and it didn’t seem like it really set anything up either. Good to see that WW and Lois get along, but you could have probably guessed that anyway. I think if that had led up to a cool team up as they infiltrate LexCorp or something then that would be hype. Lois also has to use her charms to try and get some info at LexCorp so in general her plot was definitely one of the weak links here.

The best scenes are all when the Supermen are around and picking fights with each other. I haven’t mentioned Superman himself much yet, but he’s solid as always. He’s not really at full power here or even close to it so you don’t get to see him really taking it to anyone this time around. No worries, I’m sure he’ll get a lot of cool fight scenes in future movies as it is.

Overall, Reign of the Supermen is a fun concept and makes for a solid movie. It won’t go down as one of the more memorable DC titles, but there’s nothing really wrong with it either. It’s more of a low stakes film that focuses on the character development side of things. As Superman hasn’t gotten quite as much time in his Clark Kent form in this continuity I’m sure fans will like seeing how everyone reacts to him being gone. With this film done I’m pretty close to being caught up with the DC titles. Hopefully we get another Superman or Justice League film soon, but in the meanwhile the Wonder Woman one looks like it should be solid and Batman Hush always had an interesting plot.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review


It’s time to look at a crossover that came out pretty recently. I never read the comic although it always looked pretty cool. The film seems to be a pretty straight adaption which is nice and it’s definitely a story that holds up well. I’d consider this to be one of the stronger recent DC films and I’d definitely be up for a sequel since there is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end.

The film starts off with a group of FOOT soldiers showing up in Gotham and stealing some kind of experimental tech. Batman decides to look into it and the next target is determined to be Wayne Tech. He prevents them from stealing the device, but is ultimately defeated by their leader, The Shredder. Batman now needs to figure out how to stop this threat and believes there may be a connection with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They’d better give him some details or he’ll be taking them down.

With a crossover you always want a definitive victor and the film did a good job with that. Batman does fight the 4 turtles and he pretty easily takes them down. The fight is also very early on in the film which I think was a good idea. I like build up for a film as well but I feel like this outcome was pretty obvious from the start (no shade to the turtles) so this just made sense. Batman and Shredder also have a fight with an actual outcome which was cool. I definitely won’t say who won of course, but it was a really solid fight and there were no cop outs. I can’t say I agree with the outcome necessarily but I can respect it. It’s a pretty close fight either way and as a crossover it’s nice to see them battle since they’re both considered to be in the top% of hand to hand fighters in their respective universes.

The animation will take a little time to get used to I’d say. The character designs are a bit off and it’s definitely a step down from the mainstream DC films. Still, it’s probably this way to look more like the comic. Donatello is a little too slim but the others are mostly on point. I’d say that Leonardo definitely had the best design from the 4. The fight scenes don’t suffer from this as the characters just get right into the thick of the action and the fight scenes are nice and extended. There is time for both combatants to really get in on the action. Batman’s fight with the Shredder round 1 is the best part of the movie without a doubt.

This film has pretty solid writing to back it up as well. There isn’t really a weak point here and that’s important. At worst you can say that the breaking into Arkham for the 100th time was a bit old by this point. I wouldn’t have minded sticking to the main plot, but that probably would have made the film a little too short. The scene of Batman deciding that the turtles were getting in his way was also a little forced for drama I’d say. Still, these are extremely minor things.

Batman’s definitely the best character in the movie. He really gets to make the most of his experience and hand to hand combat skills. He may not trust the others much, but at the end of the day he’ll make the right call. Sadly this is one of Damian’s weaker appearances. He just isn’t nearly as skilled as he usually is and only puts up a fight against the Turtles in a bit of a comic relief battle. I feel like in a serious fight he should be able to beat them like Batman. Batgirl doesn’t get a huge role, but she is around for the Arkham battles and helps out. She gets to show off her intellect a lot here.

From the Turtle side, Leonardo’s the best one. He gets a lot of action and is certainly shown to be the most skilled of the turtles. He is always the one to help the heroes make a comeback and also manages to keep his emotions in check when it looks like it is curtains for the others. Raphael also looks reasonably good here. He definitely doesn’t get to have any real wins compared to Leonardo, but he is quick to get in on the action. Donatello and Michelangelo definitely can’t compete. Donatello at least has the planning on his side but Michelangelo is mainly just here for the gags. The comic relief character is usually doomed to be one of the weaker ones in the film.

For the villains, Shredder definitely looked good. It’s always nice to see him in his more serious incarnations. His armor was also top quality to hold its own against Batman’s. (Although Batman’s spikes were definitely shown to be sharper) I feel like Shredder was on the losing end of the bargain though since he has to trust Ra’s to keep his end of the bargain. Way I see it, you should never finish your part of the plan before the other guy has a chance to start his. Then there’s no incentive for the other guy to do his part. Meanwhile Ra’s definitely looks good. I don’t think this plan was his most brilliant one, but he does a good job of making sure it succeeds. He also puts in a pretty good fight which is to be expected since he’s a premiere fighter as well.

There are other sub villains, but they don’t get a huge role. Most of the Arkham guys aren’t even in their right minds since they took the serum. It was definitely a unique choice for the fights, but I think it would have been even better if they had stayed in their normal designs. The Arkham stuff was probably the weakest part of the film compared to the other acts, but at the end of the day it was basically nonstop fight scenes so it was still pretty solid. You can’t go wrong with a good action scene. Naturally the film does get a little violent at times, but it’s never nearly as excessive as some of DC’s other titles. A few people get sliced and diced but that’s basically the extent of it.

Overall, Batman vs the Ninja Turtles is a great film. There’s a lot of action here and a steady amount of good dialogue. I was definitely on Team Batman all the way, but the turtles make for good sidekicks. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d recommend checking it out. It’s always nice to have more crossovers get animated and this was a great pick. I’m hoping we get more such titles at some point. Maybe we can finally get the Superman vs He Man movie at some point.

Overall 8/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

DC Showcase: Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew Review


It’s time to look at a DC team that probably isn’t one of the more popular ones around. Captain Carrot sadly never became a household name as one of the ultimate animal mascots. It’s too bad since the comics definitely are pretty fun. I will admit that it is pretty weak relative to the other ongoing DC comics back in the day so I can’t blame people for not really buying it. Still, it holds up really well and as always the Showcase series makes sure to bring quite a lot of comics here. You’re in for a fun surprise.

The collection actually starts off with the crossover comic which is where we meet Captain Carrot. Basically he used to be an ordinary rabbit, but after eating a radioactive carrot he gains Super Strength, Speed, and Flight. The guy is also basically indestructible which is really handy. Superman ended up in this crazy alternate Earth after things started getting messy on his Earth. It’s like missing your train stop only Superman missed his whole planet. Unfortunately Superman wasn’t ready for how different this world would be and after Captain Carrot beats him up a bit Superman gets kidnapped. Fortunately Captain Carrot will have the help of other animals who gained super powers thanks to this event. Little does the team know that this will be just the beginning of their outings.

As for how well the team gets along, these guy probably bicker more than most of the others. Very rarely does the team actually really get along. Pig Iron and Captain Carrot are constantly getting at each other’s feelings with the low blows. Then you’ve got Kat and Yankee who seem to despise each other. Fastback also doesn’t get along with Yankee and Rubber Duck tends to be pretty self absorbed. It makes for a pretty interesting dynamic, but I have to say that if I was on the team I wouldn’t be able to trust the others. I’d always be watching my back.

Pig Iron is the strong guy of the group. To an extent that may almost be redundant with how powerful Captain Carrot is, but I suppose you can never have too much muscle right? He is very much like the Thing as he constantly talks about quitting the team. He tends to not be a crowd favorite in-universe because of his scary design. He slowly grows more used to being a part of the team though so by the end he is mostly done with all the quitting talk. He’s not my favorite member but ultimately he’s not bad.

As expected Captain Carrot is definitely my favorite member. He’s the voice of reason and that makes him a solid leader. He still does jump into action whenever needed and always keeps the team from splitting apart. There are times where he was fine with letting Pig Iron go though. You’ll feel bad for Carrot though since nobody really cares about his comics much. He writes a lot of comics, but the team never reads them and whenever he is close to missing a deadline they don’t bother to help him either. Ah well, the life of a leader is never easy right?

Then you’ve got Fastback whose name is pretty self explanatory in terms of his role on the team. I feel like he got less screen time than the others in general to be honest. This also makes him a little less interesting than the others. His super speed is definitely very handy in a fight of course, but in terms of personality he is pretty dry. In comparison Rubber Duck is possibly the weakest member of the group, but he’s a much more likable character. The guy is always bragging and he definitely enjoys being a rich actor. Certainly nothing wrong with that though, you should enjoy your role. What’s the point of becoming the best in your craft if you never take time out to enjoy it? He has the abilities of Mr. Fantastic which helps a lot in a support role, but when the big villains come to town he is pretty much helpless.

Then you’ve got Yankee Poodle and sometimes you may wonder why she is still on the team. None of the other members seem to like her and the feeling appears to be mutual. She’s just in it for the free publicity and to fatten her own wallet. Her ability uses stars to push people away. It’s a bit of a vague ability, but one that is very versatile even if it is lacking in power. Yankee makes for a good member because of how antagonistic she is. She’s not a hero, but just someone who happens to be on a hero team which is an interesting dynamic.

Then you’ve got Cheese who is a rat who comes in to help the others at times. He’s not a part of the original roster, but he does his best to help. The guy can shrink, but that’s really it so he won’t end up being one of the power houses. He’s a decent character, but doesn’t really add anything to the dynamic. Then you’ve got Alley Kat who is potentially one of the most powerful members. While she doesn’t have the strength or speed or the top 3, she has magical abilities which transcend dimensions. In theory her abilities don’t have a real limit. As a result she is usually written out of the scenario or put in a spot where her abilities won’t do a whole lot. She’s a pretty good character, definitely more aloof than the others, but she also tends to stay on task. When the other characters fail you can at least count on her to keep the heroes in the game.

There aren’t any real main villains. A few of them do appear more than once though like the Godzilla homage and the Armadillo. Both of these villains are pretty solid. In general with the writing being so good it’s not surprising in the slightest. When you’ve got writing that is really good then everything tends to fall in place with the character cast. Of course the actual story is still important, but a good cast can carry just about any story if you think about it. Superman may seem to be a bit condescending throughout his appearance, but you have to cut him a bit of slack here. How can you not see a bunch of little animals running around and not at least try to get them to stand down. Superman knows he is strong enough to handle these situations and just wants to make sure that nobody gets hurt.

Most of the comics are stand alones although there is enough continuity to bring them all together. For example for a few comics the heroes plan to go on vacation, but things keep happening that prevents them from doing this. It actually felt pretty tragic by the end because it felt like they would never make any progress. The heroes get kidnapped quite a bit and venture into different worlds more than once. One comic that was especially solid was when a time patrolling villain kidnapped the team. He was a pretty op threat since he can manipulate time. This is one example where Alley Kat was the only one who could match him.

Then towards the end there is a mini series about the Carrot Crew heading over to Oz in Wonderland. It brings in a lot of the classic characters from that series along with a lot of old foes as the heroes must save this world. I’m thinking this comic came out a while after the original ones as it feels more modern. In some ways the team has regressed in this arc though as Pig Iron is back to thinking about quitting and he bickers with Captain Carrot more than usual. It also brings back the romance plot with Alley Kat which happened quite a bit in the old comics, but naturally it didn’t go anywhere.

Still, the romance does need to be mentioned and it’s definitely the weaker part of the dynamic. It definitely seems like Alley Cat is doomed from the start since Carrot fell in love with one of the characters he drew in a comic. She turned out to actually be real in an alternate world and they teamed up at one point. Things got dicey for Super Squirrel since in the comics he likes that heroine. So, the romance may have all been a bit much here, but regardless I did like the crossover with the Justice League parody. It was pretty crazy and a bit one sided, but it was nice to see the Carrot Crew show them up. It’s sort of like the writers way of saying that the Carrot Crew could hold their own against the Justice League.

The heroes are actually pretty overpowered even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Carrot is on par with Superman as they fought to a draw and if anything Carrot seemed more impressive. Then you’ve got Pig Iron who is every bit as strong as Carrot and may even have the slight edge. Then you’ve got Fastback who says he is faster than light and Alley Cat who can warp through dimensions and do just about anything with her spells. That’s a really good roster. At the same time, they still get knocked out by random villains every other comic so you do have to wonder about all of this. Either the villains are that powerful in which case the power creep is crazy or the heroes just tend to exaggerate their abilities a bit. It’s likely the later, but it’s still pretty fun to see them being acknowledged as such a threat.

I think another aspect of the comic that makes it so solid is the fact that we see a lot of the heroes’ human identities as well. It can always be hard to hit a good balance for that, but it’s something that I’ve always liked to see. I understand the logic of just showing the superhero in his powered up form 24/7 but seeing both sides of the story helps a lot for character development. Take a look at the classic Superman animated series, the Clark Kent scenes are essential. Without the human scenes you’re only seeing half a story and with Captain Carrot you get to see everyone’s day to day life in addition to their superhero fights. It’s also done pretty gradually so it all flows well.

Naturally the art is pretty good here. The comics are consistent and all of the character models are on point. It’s pretty easy to read through. It won’t look quite as awesome as it should since the art is printed in black and white for this collection, but it’s definitely solid all the same. I like the facial expressions here and in particular Captain Carrot steals the show whenever he is on screen. He really was the right pick for the leader of this outfit and proves it constantly. The fights are on point as well and the writing is dynamite throughout. The puns and clever lines here just never stop.

Overall, Captain Carrot and his Zoo Crew is definitely a collection that I would recommend. There’s a whole lot of issues here so you don’t need to be worried about the value. It’s got all the classic strengths of the DC comics while also throwing in a whole new set of characters to root for. It may not be the next Justice League, but I think you’ll end up liking this collection a lot more than you may dare expect. The comic only really has the one big crossover so it’s nice to see that the characters can hold their own adventures. I checked on Comicvine to see what happened to them after these issues and it definitely looks like things got dark for the crew so enjoy these happy stories while you can folks.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Justice League vs The Fatal Five Review


It’s time to look at a pretty new Justice League film. This title finally brings us back to the legendary DCAU so right away you know you’re in for a good time. It does a good job of really feeling like a long awaited sequel and this one can definitely hold its own in this esteemed continuity. Naturally it’s no Starcrossed or anything like that, but it’s a great nostalgia film. We have solid action scenes, writing is on point as always, etc. It’s a film that also has very solid replay value.

The movie starts off with Star Boy attempting to stop the Fatal Five. Unfortunately they are simply too strong and make it to the teleporter. In a last act of defiance Star Boy is able to finish the time shutdown so they are frozen in time as the orb crashes in the present. Star Boy also lands on Earth, but his medicine was destroyed so now his mind is slowly deteriorating. The cops catch him and he gets locked up in Arkham. Almost a year passes and the Justice League accidentally awaken the villains. They’re ready to fight but the only way to victory may be to get Star Boy on their side!

Meanwhile, Jessica Cruz has been having a lot of trouble adjusting to her new role as Green Lantern. She managed to survive a traumatic experience against a crazy gunman and the experience left her mentally scarred. She is now scared to even go outside some days and since her GL powers run on willpower, it’s a tough job for her. Still, the decision is taken out of her hands when it turns out that the Fatal Five are after her. She can let the Justice League fight them off for her or she can join in the fight and take them down. The decision is hers, but it is one that will have strong consequences.

Right away you may wonder how the Fatal Five can last more than 5 minutes against the League. It’s a fair question as they’re hitting way above their weight class here. Realistically the Fatal Five can’t do much against the League, but to even the odds the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter do not appear in this film. You’ve got Star Boy and Jessica, but neither one of them do much helping til we get to the second half of the film. As a result it’s really Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman who have to handle the villains. Often times they aren’t fighting at the same time as well. There are still a lot of significant power level issues, but those are almost expected at this point. Superman gets wrecked pretty easily by these guys and then later on one of them is going even with Wonder Woman.

The Fatal Five aren’t weaklings or anything, but they’re definitely not quite as strong as you’d think from watching their fights. The heroes also have to be a little nerfed here because part of the point is that Jessica needs to be the one to conquer her fears. You can probably see the character arc coming from a mile away, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad one. She certainly gets a solid role in the final fight, but it makes sense since a good GL should be able to take care of these guys. I’d just make the case that Superman or Wonder Woman should have been able to accomplish something similar. Power level concerns don’t really hurt the experience. You may roll your eyes but barring something totally crazy it doesn’t hurt the score.

While Superman did get steamrolled I did like the way he fought here. It may seem like a bit of a contradiction but before going down Superman was doing a good job of knocking one opponent, dodging a counter attack, hitting opponent #2, etc. He was rarely going down to surprise attacks and was just getting hit by combos. It’s a subtle distinction that is good to make as it’s more annoying when he’s just giving opponents his back the whole time. I mean, I like the confidence, but it doesn’t work if he’s actually taking damage. Batman also looks real solid here as expected. He’s naturally the one finding things out in the background and whenever he does enter into a fight the outcome is clear. He crushes all of his opponents with ease and certainly stays cool under pressure. He does a good job of co-leading the team with Superman in the DCAU. Batman may never claim to be the leader, but the others listen when he has something to say.

Wonder Woman’s role may not feel as big as the other two, but she certainly looks good as well. Attacking Jessica may have been a little extreme, but I suppose it got the job done. She always fights very tactically such as when one of the Fatal Five tries to use her own lasso against her and WW just flips the tables on him. She uses a lot of athletics in her combat and the style seems like a mix of Superman’s and Batman’s. It’s still a little unfortunate we couldn’t see the other Leaguers, but I’m sure they’ll get their chance in the future.

As for the new heroes we have 3 to talk about. First off is Star Boy and I admit that I wasn’t a big fan of his character. At first I actually figured he was Cosmic Lad. The outfit was different, but it was filled with Stars and he kept seemingly manipulating metal at the beginning. Now I’m glad he wasn’t Cosmic Lad. He acts pretty scatter brained the whole film. There is a logical reason for this as he needs a certain chemical to stay sane, but it still makes his scenes pretty annoying. He just can’t seem to remember anything except for when it’s already too late. that’s certainly not too helpful you must admit. His powers are definitely cool though, making things heavy is definitely good enough to stop most opponents. Gravity manipulation is a very underrated ability.

Miss Martian is a new Justice League member in training and I can see why she isn’t a full member yet. She very nearly blows the whole situation in her first scene where innocents would have died. The whole thing doesn’t make any sense either since she gets real close to the villain, but stays in disguise until he whips out the gun and starts yelling. With her super strength and speed from that distance she should have been able to easily disarm him and keep going. Instead she also gives away Batman’s location. She’s pretty much a non factor for most of the film as well. She seems nice enough, but needs to keep working on how to be a hero.

Finally we have Jessica who is pretty reasonable. By the end of the film she has finally accepted herself as a hero. Her early scenes can be a bit more grating with all the self doubt, but at least she did jump in to save her town when necessary. She seems to have a lot more trouble getting started than freezing up which is good. Once she’s made a decision she does see it through. Jessica is the kind of character who will really benefit from the events of this film as she will now be a capable warrior in the sequel. The Green Lantern core is certainly pretty stacked as well since Hal, John, and Kyle are all excellent GL fighters as well. With Jessica on the team they barely even need the rest of the Justice League.

As for the Fatal Five, there isn’t quite as much to say about them. They make for a pretty good villain group. I like all of the members well enough and they gave us the team vs team fights which is always a good positive. We don’t get to see the final two members quite as much as the first 3, but they do look good once they show up. Their plan shouldn’t have gone quite as smoothly as it did though. You’ll likely see what I mean when you watch the film. They head over to OA to get the final two members and the Green Lanterns there don’t seem to have any kind of good plan. They should have jumped in before the gate was opened and then a lot of things would have been prevented. Ah well.

As expected the animation is pretty sharp here. The character designs are absolutely on point and it looks as good as ever. Now this is the kind of animation that lets you know DC is still on point. It’s not surprising as their films always tend to look amazing. If only Marvel could keep this up on their side. There’s a lot of reasons why the animation is so solid for DC, but a good part of it is the color schemes and effects they use. The attacks all have a lot of power behind them and the color stands out. They also speed up the fights quite a bit so when characters are engaged in a scuffle they’re all zipping around the place. It’s a great way to handle a good fight scene and the action here is definitely top notch. Another fun visual is when Superman zips towards the sun. His speed is definitely uncanny and to even come close to a light speed laser that already has a head start is a good feat.

While this is the DCAU, the film does try to make it clear from the start that it’s gonna still be a little more violent than the old days. Pretty much every random human who gets involved is quickly murdered and several heroes get stabbed and bleed out quite a bit. It never gets too excessive the way the New 52 films started out or other recent adventures. It’s just low enough where it doesn’t hurt the film but a little more and I think the film would have been trying too hard. The only visual that lingers is the store owner who gets murdered while the rest are pretty quick. It’s definitely all unnecessary so hopefully they keep a close eye on this for other DC films going forward.

Overall, Justice League vs The Fatal Five certainly delivers on all fronts. It’s an excellent Justice League title whether you’re already a big fan of the DCAU or this is your first experience. The writing is always on point and the cast of characters is excellent. It’s rare to have a film that basically has no weaknesses, but this is one of them. There’s a lot happening here from start to finish. Hopefully this really is just the first of many for the DCAU’s continuation saga. I’m ready to relive the golden days of comic book shows!

Overall 8/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Scooby Doo Team Up Volume 6 Review


It’s time for some more Scooby Doo adventures! These guys have helped quite a lot of people out by this point. They’ve aided heroes like Batman, Superman, and many more over the course of this series. It’s always fun to see how they interact with the other series and evidently many others must feel the same way for this title to have reached 6 trades. This volume is another solid one with a good array of stories.

The first issue has the team come over to aid the Atom in his fight against a ghost who exists on an atomic level. The gang is a little skeptical of a ghost showing up since usually they’re fake. That being said, how could someone put on a mask and then shrink to this size? The Atom gets a lot of hype here as he beats up on the enemies while also apologizing to the gang for not saving any for them. The Mystery Inc also keep their cool here (Aside from Shaggy and Scoob) as they realize what’s up. It’s definitely a pretty solid intro issue and the cool part is that it’s the only one that actually continues to the next.

The gang may have just escaped from their growing problems, but then they meet up with the Atomic Ant. I’m not familiar with the guy, but apparently his thing is that he has super strength and can fly thanks to a jet pack. It’s definitely a pretty handy thing to have up his sleeve. Still, he’s up against a group of monsters so Fred and the others have to think of a way to help them. This one isn’t really a mystery so much as just a team up battle. Daphne has learned how to fight thanks to a book she read during another issue which is a nice bit of character development that stuck. Together they end up having the edge in this fight.

Then we’ve got a team up issue with Huntress, Batgirl, and Black Canary. It’s tough for Huntress because she’s trying to get things done and just take out villains, but the rest of the group is busy dealing with the Mystery Inc comedy shenanigans. She is ultimately forced to play the straight man here as Huntress points out that this is no time for games. The rest of the gang apparently don’t really agree with that based on how they act. Still, the team will have to put their differences aside to save Gotham City, but can they do it? It’ll take all of their skills this time.

Then we’ve got a pretty fun comic with the Inferior Five. The story takes this moment to also bring in a lot of other infamous DC characters. I didn’t even know most of them so that was pretty neat. We finally have a group that is even more nervous than the Scooby Doo gang. There are a lot of other guest stars here as well and the whole thing takes place near a game show so that was pretty neat.

Following that we’ve also got an issue with the Legion of Superheroes. The Fatal Five have struck again and it also seems as though the ghost of Ferro Lad is here to haunt the heroes. He even has a twin brother who seems made up for the series and may have a grudge against the league. This one’s probably the closest case we have here to a full on mystery. It’s also one of the best comics in the collection as we get some fights and the gang looks reasonably good. It’s also cool to see Ferro Lad even if he is a ghost here because I remember reading the fateful issues where he ultimately paid the big price.

Finally we have Yogi Bear show up in another issue. He definitely steals the show here as he tricks the mystery gang into thinking that he is the police chief for a bit. In their defense, they’ve come across so many strange cases that it isn’t even unbelievable for that to be the case. Of course while he is guilty of many crimes it seems as if someone might be framing Yogi. Who would dare do such a thing? Furthermore, who would even want to frame Yogi? The bear seems like a nice guy and you have to make some pretty big enemies for this to happen.

Definitely a solid array of stories here as I mentioned. The art for the issues is also pretty good. The style lends itself well to team up adventures. All of the character designs are on point and it’s very easy to read through the adventures. 6 issues is also a reasonable length for a trade as I see a lot with only 4. You’re definitely getting some pretty good value for your dollar. The Mystery Inc are all in character as well. Naturally the two members who look the best here are Daphne and Fred. Daphne is the team’s best fighter by far and actually does contribute in quite a few of the fights against real villains. Then Fred always sticks up for the team and stands up to the others who try to talk down to them. Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby mostly just hold the team back which is why they should be glad that they have Fred and Daphne at the ready.

Overall, This is a solid collection to add to your pile. Whether you know a lot or a little about the Scooby Doo franchise and DC ones, the stories are very accessible. You can easily gather what is happening right away and then go from there. I definitely recommend checking it out and even more so if you are already a fan of these franchises. I definitely wonder if the series is still going. Hopefully so as there are always more heroes to cross over with. I don’t know when I’ll be reading another comic, but I’ll definitely be ready for whatever it is.

Overall 7/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Justice League #0 Review


While at the theater for the Shazam movie they ended up giving out free copies of Shazam’s first appearance in the New 52 so that was pretty cool. It’s been a long while since I’ve read a single issue as I typically read the trades. I remember how Shazam’s new portrayal was always pretty controversial. He’s definitely a lot meaner than in his original days but it works pretty well. At least if you just judge from this issue, he’s pretty solid although he loses some edge once he transforms.

The issue starts with Black Adam beating up the wizard and then dashing out of there. The Wizard feels pretty shaken at this point and then a kid named Billy Batson shows up and threatens to beat the wizard up. While this isn’t the “pure good” person that the wizard was hoping for, he learns that maybe such a person would never appear. He gives Billy his powers and the kid turns into the powerful Shazam. He manages to get Freddy to believe that this is his new identity and then he goes around beating people up. The issue ends with Shazam realizing that he can potentially make a lot of money in his new form.

You can definitely see where the film took some events from while not adapting this 1-1. Shazam is definitely attracted to money pretty easily here, but hopefully he’ll use it to help the neighborhood out. Naturally there isn’t a whole lot that you can cover in a single issue but this does a good job of setting up the characters and events. Personally I thought Billy was pretty solid here. He seems like the kind of guy who protects his neighborhood from the shadows even if he’s not all that nice about it. As Shazam he definitely seems a lot more normal so maybe that’s a subtle effect of the transformation.

The art is definitely solid. While parts of it have that New 52 glimmer, others are a bit more rugged to try and fit the tone of the issue. The end result is a very good looking comic that’s easy to read and looks pretty impressive. It’s definitely very solid. There aren’t any fights yet of course, but once those come it’ll probably look even better. I suppose the weakest part is probably the humans and even that looks pretty good for the most part I’d say.

The New 52 still feels so recent, but I suppose at this point it’s ancient history. I never really kept up with the Shazam series, assuming he ever actually got one. If he was just relegated to side issues and guest star roles then that would be pretty unfortunate. There’s definitely a lot you can do with the character. After all, he’s basically Superman 2.0 so that makes for a good read. Then there’s the fact that Billy doesn’t let anyone mess with him. Makes for a very unique experience I’d say.

Overall, Shazam is a pretty solid first comic. I’d definitely check out the follow up issues. Somehow I don’t think that’ll be happening anytime soon, but next time I’m at the library I’ll definitely stay sharp. If you have never read the new Shazam adventures then I’d recommend changing that. With Black Adam introduced out of the gate and solid artwork throughout, the series is poised to really deliver on the action front in the future.

Overall 7/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Shazam! Review


It’s time to look at DC’s latest venture into the cinema. They’ve definitely had a rocky road critically although things have started to look up for them lately. Meanwhile, they’ve mostly ranged from excellent to great for me with the exception of a few films. This one’s pretty good. It’s better than Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman, but certainly not as good as the titles with Batman and Superman. Shazam will definitely be a good addition to the next Justice League film though with the powers that he brings to the table.

The film starts off by introducing us to Dr. Sivana and why he ends up turning to the path of darkness. Then we see Billy who ended up getting lost from his mother at an early age. He’s bounced from home to home since then and has finally made it to a foster home which is effectively his last chance. The kids there try to make him feel welcome, but until he sees his mother again he can’t find any closure. Making things more complicated is the fact that he was chosen by a wizard to be the legendary Shazam. He has exceptional powers now, but doesn’t know what to do with them. Can he figure this out before Silvana takes him down?

Lets start with the positives here. DC’s always had a real knack for fight scenes and the battles between Silvana and Shazam show this. I still like how they portray super speed. Shazam mostly focuses on his flight and strength to win the day but the film is sure to let you know that he’s got speed when necessary. They throw each other through buildings and you can feel the power behind the hits. There’s enough of a difference in scale so you know he’s not quite Superman level but otherwise you could make a case for him being the strongest Justice League member. Seeing the characters fly around and trade blows is always pretty hype.

The film also has some fun taking shots at classic film cliches. There’s a moment where Silvana is trying to make a big speech and Shazam can’t hear him because they’re pretty far away. Usually the hero can conveniently hear the villain in moments like this so that was pretty nice. In general the writing is pretty decent. It’s not amazing or anything, but it gets the job done. More impressive than the script is the fact that the supporting character cast is pretty solid. We’ve got the foster parents who are really tolerant of Billy’s rebellious acts without being pushovers. They do give him a talk after he continues to be defiant, but they never go over the edge. They were foster kids at one point themselves so they do understand the situation quite well. They’re clearly very nice people and they do a great job of getting him situated right away. He honestly couldn’t ask for better foster parents, but of course that is what ends up making him a bit annoying at times.

The other kids are also pretty nice for the most part. Darla is a very sincere character who is always looking at the bright side of things. She’s taken a bad situation and done her best to spin it into a good one. Freddy may not be the most sociable guy out there, but he does try hard to do his part in welcoming Billy. His style of humor may take a bit of getting used to, but he’s a good character and one who certainly does know a lot about heroes. He has to put up with the most from all of the kids since he has trouble walking and is constantly bullied so the fact that he hasn’t become jaded yet is impressive. The other kids don’t get a whole lot to do but are pretty good for the most part. The quiet kid is probably the only one who doesn’t really get any big moments and as a result never gets to grow on you.

Silvana is also a strong villain. The fact that he spent his life trying to learn how to find the Wizard and never losing sight of his goal is quite impressive. That level of determination/obsession is usually relegated to main character status. Villains who are able to keep this level of focus usually end up being a success. He definitely came close to fulfilling his goals and was a good pick for Shazam’s first big villain. In comparison the 7 Deadly Sins aren’t quite as impressive as they’re mainly just here to provide us with more action. Certainly not a bad thing and that may be comic accurate as I don’t remember them too well from there but I’d have liked them to have gotten a bit more character and screen time.

The film’s also got a pretty nice set of animations for the credits. That’s not an aspect that I usually even bother mentioning, but I appreciated the effort here. The more overconfident Shazam portrayal there was definitely humorous and I liked the design. Then we’ve also got the two post credit scenes. The first one is the serious sequel stinger while the second is a comedy moment. Both are pretty solid and succeed at their objectives. The regular ending to the film is also pretty great. So the film definitely did have a lot going for it.

Shazam also does give us a pretty decent blend of humor and serious moments. The scene of Sivana cornering the board and showing off his monsters for the first time is definitely pretty intense. I’ll also give some credit to one of the women who actually tried running while everyone was just standing around waiting to get murdered. Pretty much any moment with the villains is handled pretty seriously while any scene with Shazam is comedic. Typically the film keeps the parallel well which is always difficult. It could have probably laid off the jokes a bit at times, but they’re not bad for the most part so they don’t really take away from the experience.

Now the negatives or more precisely, what the film was weak at. It didn’t make any huge mistakes that would cost it a lot of points, but are factors that keep it from a higher score. First off is Billy. He can be pretty annoying, mainly because you just can’t trust him. He lets Freddy down after the kid was counting on him and as a result he gets bullied even more. Even if Billy wasn’t happy to have been put on the spot like that, just leaving him to get beaten was a really bad moment. Honestly, that was his worst scene if you ask me. Prior to that even if he had a bad attitude at least he would reluctantly stick up for Freddy and the others. You can portray Billy as a very optimistic “Golly” character from the old days or the very edgy rebellious version from the modern day, but this film does neither. It just makes him a character with a sour attitude who is basically a coward. He spends the vast majority of the film running away from every obstacle and challenge in his way. By the time he finally mans up the film is over. After Shazam runs away and abandons everyone for like the 5th time you’ll have had enough of the character. He just doesn’t feel like a hero. It’s part of his character development of course, but I can’t remember a time I’ve seen a hero be this afraid of combat and constantly running. Typically when you obtain super powers you either embrace it and jump right into action (Dr. Strange, Captain America) or you don’t engage the fight but quickly do what you need to in order to survive but I can’t think of a time a main hero just abandoned everyone to die. I have no doubt that Shazam will be better in the sequel, but in this film I have to say that he was a bad character. You can’t just let bullies mess with your family and look the other way. That’s not gonna fly.

The climax is also surprisingly a little unexciting despite the fact that by all accounts it should have been excellent. I can’t really say much about the climax at all so as to avoid all possible spoilers, but it’s not as good as the early fight scene from early on in the film. Maybe it’s because the villains can’t really fight or because the hero can be so slow on the uptake. We get quite a few scenes of “I can do this?” moments where it gets old pretty quick. The visuals are still pretty good of course, but I think focusing more on Shazam vs Sivana would have helped more. This isn’t really a negative as the climax is still good, but I couldn’t help but feel it was missing something. I might also blame this on Shazam still being dominated even in the final climax.

Shazam also goes for a bit of an emotional aspect during the movie. Mainly this is dealing with Billy’s past and present as he tries to move on. It doesn’t work too well though so some of these drama moments just end up failing. Particularly the plot with the mother as it goes exactly the way you would expect and by this point you’re probably super fed up with Billy. It just feels like he didn’t really think any of this through. When it comes to personal relationships like this it’s naturally easier said than done, but it would have been better if he could have been searching for her without just ditching everyone constantly. It slows down the pacing of the film so it’s not quite as 24/7 engaging as the other films. For example, I’d say that Aquaman was more consistent with bringing in exciting scenes over and over.

Overall, Shazam is definitely a pretty good film. It’s not a great film and that may seem bad in an age where the superhero films have been hitting it out of the park so well, but not every film can be a grand slam. It’s not even a film that was just barely positive, it’s one that is all around a solid title. I’d say there’s reasonable replay value here. Most of the jokes are quick references or moments that don’t require a lot of build up so they will hold up on a re-watch. There’s no animal violence to be found here or any moment that will really make you shake your head. It’s just a good film that will keep your attention throughout. If you haven’t checked this film out yet then I’d recommend doing so. It’s not really connected to the rest so you don’t have to watch a prior DC film to get into this one. You can just dive in and enjoy it.

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Batman Ninja Review


Time to look at one of the strangest Batman films to date. This one goes for a very different look and even takes place in a different era than where Batman usually is. It’s a fun enough film, I think parts of it end up feeling more experimental than fixed, but it has potential. Either way it’s a fun way to spend 90 minutes and I’d be game for a sequel.

The film starts with Batman trying to stop Gorilla Grodd’s latest invention. It’s a time machine that he is planning to use to rule the Earth across all of its different eras. Batman blows it up, but this has the unintended effect of bringing him and everyone who was in range of the device into Feudal Japan. He is now in the Sengoku period and each of Batman’s enemies have commanded one of the territories. Joker naturally owns the biggest one. Batman will have to quickly get used to this period and make arrangements with local armies to fight back. He may even have to team up with Grodd, but can the ape be trusted?

After that beginning the film does play out a little differently than I thought it would. I got the feeling that Batman was going to have to unite Japan and take out all of the villains. Of course, maybe it’s for the best that it didn’t go that way since each fight would have been really rushed. I’m ultimately pretty glad that Batman just ignored everyone else and ran to where Joker was. His Batmobile looks better than usual here as it has multiple vehicles built inside. It was too bad when they were ultimately broken.

In general Batman looks pretty good here. I’m still not crazy about his design, but personality wise he basically made all of the right choices. Even if if the hostage was almost definitely fake and just Harley in disguise, that’s not a risk that Batman can simply make. In hand to hand he was doing quite good as well and his plans were on point. Even his quick period of self doubt was shorter than most as he quickly got back on the saddle. That’s definitely what I like to see from our lead.

His array of Robins also show up and were fairly helpful I suppose. As always, Red Hood was definitely the most violent and intense of the bunch though. He was really willing to take Joker and Harley down for the count. Batman’s not up for murder like that so I feel like if that happened in the present he would have probably tried to arrest Jason. This just wasn’t a good time to do so. Catwoman looks all right as well. As always she basically plays the field until one side has the edge and then she makes her move. Things worked out pretty well for her so the plan was definitely her best option.

There’s not much to talk about for the soundtrack but how about the animation? Well, for the most part it looks good. The character models are very detailed and there’s a high tech feel to the whole thing. While the fights can be a little blocky at times it doesn’t take away from the nice choreography. On the other hand, we do get one stretch of time for the farmer scenes where the budget completely dies out. I didn’t mind the video game type cutscenes when Batman says that he’ll have to do things like Feudal Japan civilians would as it’s a bit of a throwback. This artistic fadeaway style is something else though. The scenes just don’t look good and you start to feel like the budget is drying up real quick. Fortunately these are quick scenes though.

There’s a lot of action to be found here. As soon as one fight scene ends you can bet that a new one is about to start up. There is rarely a few scenes in a row where nothing much is happening. With the short length this is basically a must so I’m glad that the film handled this well. You can feel a good amount of power behind each of Batman’s blows which is always important. He strikes with minimal movement as each blow is very precise. The film does a good job of getting that across.

As for the villains, Joker is certainly the main one here. His voice will take some getting used to, but the character definitely gets a lot of respect here. He actually has Batman on the defensive a few times which is more than most villains can say. He actually looks really good during combat which is always nice to see. Grodd also looks pretty solid here even if he isn’t quite as impressive. He’s also a strategic mastermind in his own right so he shouldn’t be underestimated.

The other villains don’t get a huge role though. It’s pretty much unavoidable, but that’s why this concept could have really worked for a full TV season or something like that. Having Batman tackle all of the districts would be pretty cool. Aw well, either way we did get a bunch of giant robots for some fights so that was pretty neat. Then the quick Bane vs Batman scuffle was also pretty intense. It’s always nice to see Batman bringing out a whole lot of tech like this. He’s a genius and with prep time you’d expect him to have a lot of tools at his disposal.

We have to quickly talk about the ending though. It’s basically there for cool points, but makes no sense otherwise. So Batman…the guy who is always trying to hide his secret identity has decided that he’s had enough of that. He gets into a horse driven carriage that has Bat emblems all over it. Why would he draw attention to himself like that? It’s a moment that just feels really forced and I had to bring that up. Not a bad ending I guess, but in universe it just makes no sense.

Overall, Batman Ninja is definitely a fun film. It brings that proper blend of being a super hero film along with some anime inspirations. The fights are good and there’s not much bad to say about the film. The animation could certainly be more refined and the character designs need some work, but as long as you remember this is an AU then that doesn’t even matter quite as much. If you haven’t checked this film out yet then I would recommend changing that. It certainly has a good amount of enjoyment to offer you.

Overall 7/10