Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League Gotham City Breakout Review


It’s time for another lego film. In this one, we get 2 main plots instead of 3 or 4 like usual. This allows each individual plot to be fleshed out more but of course it means that you have to like both or you’re out of luck. Fortunately, both plots are pretty solid. The Batman plot ends up winning for me, but both of them are on the up and up.

The film starts with Batman’s friends deciding that he needs to take a vacation. As such, Nightwing and Batgirl take him to the place where he first learned how to become Batman. Batman’s master is known as Madame Mantis and she is the one person that he actually fears. It can be a little novel to see Batman actually scared of someone (for 2 seconds anyway) but the next twist made the whole thing even more interesting. Basically, Mantis had actually been kidnapped and Deathstroke had taken her place. Here’s why this is interesting.

For starters..Mantis had actually been beating Batman. That means Deathstroke is even more lethal than he used to be. He also saw a side of Batman that few ever have..his nervous side. Now, Batman claims that he knew this from the start which was a nice save but you have to decide whether you believe it or not. At the very least, Batman did end up winning in the end. It was a great way to start off the plot, but maybe that was also a bad thing. The rest of the story (Batman’s side) isn’t quite as exciting as this initial confrontation. The fight was epic, fast paced, and well choreographed. It was just hard to top it.

Batman and friends discover an underground bunch of beings who work under Madame Mantis and together the gang teams up to take down Deathstroke and foil his evil ambitions. I can’t say that I liked the Trogowogs much and I had to look their name up online because there is no way I was gonna remember it. The revamped origin story of Deathstroke and Batman was pretty cool though. I wouldn’t mind if it became canon since it adds an extra layer of intensity to their rivalry.

Meanwhile, Superman is left in charge of protecting Gotham while Batman is away. Arrogant and over confident as usual, Superman believes that the city’s villains are a joke. This leads to him being tricked by the Joker and losing to Poison Ivy. The whole film is a lesson in humility for Superman. While I could start talking about plot hax and how Batman’s villains really would be a joke to Superman…it’s so self explanatory that I won’t even bother. I don’t mind seeing Superman get put in his place either. His over confidence is why I like the character, but I definitely don’t mind poking a little fun at him. Superman is eventually forced to call in Cyborg and Wonder Woman although they also have a hard time with the situation. It’s a little odd since they certainly aren’t overconfident, but it proves what Batman has been saying for years. He’s the best member, the other Leaguers are just here to back him up!

A big part of the plot is that Robin wants to help out, but Superman constantly patronizes him and reminds the poor boy that kids can’t fight super villains. Superman’s technically correct if this was a normal universe, but in comic book land we all know that kids can be pretty tough. Robin works on his homework for a while, but eventually realizes that without him the team is doomed. He gets set to win and ultimately proves to be the League’s secret weapon. Who’d have thunk it?

As per usual I have to give a shoutout to Batman’s voice actor. The specials really wouldn’t be the same without him since the dialogue is part of why the specials are so fun. Batman just steals the show with ever appearance that he has. The rest of the characters are solid as well and fulfill the parts as best they can, but Batman’s just feels totally legitimate. He sounds like the guy from “How it should have ended” and maybe it’s just easier to voice Batman. Who knows, but either way it works well.

The soundtrack is also pretty good as per usual. The Lego films have been getting progressively better with the fight scenes or at least consistent. The format has shown that it can actually deliver serious fights when it wants to do so. The fight with Batman’s teacher at the beginning was definitely the best one in the film. I’m still not crazy about Lego animation and at this point I don’t think I’ll be changing my mind on that anytime soon, but it won’t take you out of the film. If anything, I’m fairly used to it by now and it still beats Stop Motion. That one’s definitely aged the worst.

The film’s pretty short as always since it’s just over an hour. 70 minutes seems to be everyone’s favorite go to for short films. The old films from the 40’s-60’s were always around 70 minutes like the Universal Monster films and same with anime. Maybe there’s some kind of research which shows that 70 minutes is just right. I do admit that it helps the pacing to stay consistently fast so I suppose it has worked out quite well. With the Lego style, I suppose going to 2 hours could be hit or miss, but if done well it could definitely work.

Overall, This is a pretty fun DC special. It’s not the best Lego adventure, but it can hold its own with ease. I am glad that Batman’s plot got a lot of screen time since a DC special without him just would not work well. This one also didn’t have Supergirl rhyming the whole time like a certain other special so I was down with that. Aside from her, there haven’t really been any poorly written heroes in the Lego specials. We’ve had some bad villains like Vandal Savage, but that’s all. I’d recommend checking this one out if you enjoyed the other DC specials. It’s fairly similar to them and follows a rather safe formula. It hits enough of the right notes to certainly be counted as a good film.

Overall 7/10

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Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

The New Teen Titans The Judas Contract Review

New_Teen_Titans_Judas_Contract_TP
I haven’t read a Teen Titans comic in a long while so it was fun to check out this collection. The library has two other graphic novels from The New Teen Titans run so maybe I’ll check those out at some point. I wouldn’t count on it being too soon though and can any of them beat the iconic Judas Contract? It’s a fun story-line and it is cool that the TV show loosely adapted it.

The graphic novel essentially picks up with a Brother Blood plot. He’s one of my least favorite Teen Titan villains so this was unfortunate, but at least we’re getting that part over with quickly. Brother Blood has a large cult, which kidnaps and brainwashes people. He has already tricked the media so the Teen Titans decide to go after him. It will prove to be difficult since political clout can go far. With their new teammate, Tara, The Teen Titans are ready for anything!

This arc wasn’t too important as it was really just setting up future events. For starters, Terra started to show the viewers her true colors through her conversations with Deathstroke. This was sowing the seeds for the Judas Contract arc and the team began to trust her a lot. The Brother Blood group also gains more power as a result of Blood being defeated as the world feels bad for the group now. Kid Flash also decided to leave the team, which was regrettable and Robin decided that his costume was not appropriate for his new role as the leader of the Teen Titans. He was Robin no more!

The Judas Contract started off with a bang as Terra and Deathstroke began to take out the Titans one by one. It was rather easy, which is a little embarrassing and Robin is the only guy to escape. He is joined up by Deathstroke’s wife and son as they tell Robin of Terra’s betrayal. Robin also formally turns into Nightwing in time for the big battle. Can the Titans really defeat Deathstroke and Terra? H.I.V.E. hopes so since a lot of money is riding on this deal.

This was the big Titans arc and it was definitely a fun adventure. I suppose that the reason why it is so big is that Terra never turned good. She ended up being evil from start to finish and that was likely quite the twist at the time. The introduction by the writer was fun as he mentioned how seriously people took this fact as well as the rivalry between DC and Marvel. I’m sure that quite a few people were enraged about what had happened. It was certainly a very bold move.

Robin is a solid lead for the group and I’m glad that he switched to the Nightwing persona quickly. Having him just act as Dick Grayson wasn’t quite as thrilling as when he was in costume. He looks very bad in the fight against Deathstroke, but he had just finished being Robin so I suppose that he wasn’t much of a fighter by this point. At least, now compared to guys like Batman and Deathstroke. Wonder Girl gets one of the smallest roles from the Titan members although she temporarily becomes the leader while Robin is finding his identity. She seems to only have a mild degree of super strength here as she is strong enough to take down Deathstroke, but Starfire seems to have the edge otherwise. Wonder Girl is definitely one of the nicest members on the team.

Cyborg was definitely a lot different from his New 52 self here and it’s in a good way. He isn’t afraid to break out the occasional pun and he’s a good fighter. Cyborg wants to show that he is more than just a machine and proves it by going past his limits. He’s a charismatic fighter and makes a reference to the Captain Carrot (I think that’s the name) comics that I plan to check out at some point. He gets a thumbs up for that alone. Starfire is much less naive than her TV show counterpart and a large part of her character is that she was raised by gladiators. Her hand to hand skills are even better than those of Wonder Girl. Add in Starfire’s energy blasts and she is easily the strongest member of the team. Unfortunately, her costume or lack thereof is addressed within the comic through a poorly veiled attempt at getting more readers on board through one of the covers. For the most part, the costume is just around and the comic doesn’t put any emphasis on it, but a better costume would certainly be ideal. Also, as much as the Titans remind Terra that they never destroy people, Starfire threatens to destroy Deathstroke several times. Since she is a warrior Starfire wouldn’t hesitate to do such a thing…it’s something that the Titans should keep in mind.

Beast Boy is easily the worst member of the group and most of his appearances are just there to remind us what a bad character he is. He turns into a mouse just to be able to look at Starfire from that viewpoint and it reminds you what a petty individual he is. He may not be great in the TV show, but he’s worlds better than how he was in the comics. He went from being a rather uninspired character to a terrible one and I like to think that he’s better in the New 52. We finally have a winner over there! Raven also looks terrible, but in a different way. I have no qualms with her personality, but she looks terribly weak. Raven is constantly going on about how she can sense evil, but since she can’t tell when a villain is right in front of her, it’s basically pointless. Her dark magic was overcome by Brother Blood and Terra defeated her twice. Once with a casual back fist and another time with a flying rock. Seriously, Raven was laughably weak and I could see Robin easily overpowering her.

I didn’t care for Jericho. He just seemed to be a little too full of himself and sucker punching Robin was definitely not cool. No, Jericho just couldn’t become a good character for me. Deathstroke’s wife was certainly a lot more interesting and she looked good in the origin story. Deathstroke’s origin story is definitely tragic. The army looked bad when they refused to let a super soldier stay in the ranks. Deathstroke then became a gun for hire, which is where he stepped into the side of darkness. Deathstroke is a very fun villain and with his narration it can be easy to forget. He sounds like a good guy and you are just reminded that he is on the side of evil whenever he tries to destroy someone.

That being said, I did think that the wife overreacted when Deathstroke made the decision to save Jericho. At that point, his best option was to try to take them out before they hurt him. If the wife had not been there, the situation would have likely been much easier. Still, Jericho kept his life and Deathstroke defeated the villains. Jericho got injured, but nothing could have prevented that. Deathstroke could have surrendered and then the villains would probably just destroy them all. Never trust another villain and that’s why I didn’t find Deathstroke’s decision to be all that bad. As he said, it was a calculated risk.

Terra is certainly much more experienced with her powers here than she was in the show. From the start, she’s already strong enough to take down Deathstroke and most of the Titans with ease. She can control parts of the Earth that are miles away from her present vicinity and her powers continued to grow. She’s a villain from start to finish although her act quickly convinces the Titans. (Which is sad, since she left quite a few clues.) As a villain, she’s decently likable, but I didn’t care for her cover as a hero. She went too overboard to pretend that she was one of them. Terra’s tough, but the Titans should still be able to take her on and it’s a little embarrassing for the team that they actually fell for her act.

There’s a lot of action in this graphic novel and the Deathstroke vs Robin match was probably the best fight even though Robin was completely outmatched. The sparring session between Starfire and Wonder Girl was also quite good. I also enjoyed most of the subplots like Robin helping a few senators get their reputations back. There was no point during the comic that I felt bored with the title. I dislike Brother Blood and his subplot wasn’t that good, but it would only be around for a few pages at a time and things would get good again once the Titans were back. They’re definitely a group that is easy to root for.

The art looks good and it’s in the classic DC style that is too old to be new, but too modern to be retro. This style works well for me and most of the character designs resemble the modern (Pre 52) ones that I am used too. I still can’t take Nightwing’s original design seriously after watching the Batman series, but I suppose that it may have worked well for its time….maybe. Deathstroke is one of those characters who looks essentially the same no matter what continuity he is in. You just can’t change the guy.

Overall, This was a fun comic. You’ll be reading through the comics quickly as they are all short and interesting. At times, the characters can go a little overboard in how annoying they can be and Terra/Beast Boy are the main perpetrators here. I don’t think that the writer really knew what to do with Raven either as she just looks really bad the whole time. I would have liked to have seen a full Robin vs Deathstroke fight, but I suppose that their brief skirmish does tell us all that we need to know about who would win the battle. I definitely recommend checking this out if you’re looking for a fun action comic to read. It is fairly similar to the X-Men comics at the time and the team dynamic does work whenever Beast Boy and Terra aren’t trying to wreck it. What would be perfect would be for Beast Boy to be dropped from the team and for Kid Flash to return. The Teen Titans would really be ready for action! (Also, I gotta say that there is no way that Beast Boy should have a 6 pack. He does not train at all so I seriously think that this is another one of those cases where the artist tried to make the characters look a little too tough. It’s fitting for everyone except Beast Boy) Also, be on the lookout for Batman’s guest star appearance!

Overall 7/10