Over last weekend, I watched three different DC film properties; I’ll give you a quick review of all three before this weekend.
In dead stinking last place was Batman v. Superman: Too Many Plots (2016).
Okay, Dawn of Justice. Whatever.
In the interest of honesty, I have to admit that I started fast forwarding half an hour into it because I was making comparisons between it and Balls Out: The Gary Houseman Story (easily my least favorite movie ever). Batfleck was…okay? I guess? Cavill looks good as Superman, and some of the cinematography was pretty good, but the writing was just So. Very. Awful. Not only were there too many plots (which I could tell even as I fast forwarded!), but the writing and acting for each scene was pretty awful. Honest Trailers dissected it rather succinctly.
But it was awful. How awful? Writers, pay attention: Lex’s big (whiny!) motivation speech is embedded below:
Now contrast that with the power that a FREAKING TV SHOW (Preacher, spoilers for S01E08!) treats almost the exact same topic here:
So if you have three hours, watch three hours of Preacher instead. Seriously.
Now, there are five pretty awesome minutes in the movie, and they all have Gal Godot in them. Not only is she a freaking terrifyingly awesome Wonder Woman, but for once in this movie, there’s some actual humor and lightness. Presented below so you can just avoid suffering through the rest of it.
I mean, everyone else is moping and when she gets knocked back by the lets-reuse-the-cave-troll-model-these-nerds-didn’t-watch-LoTR-right1 Doomsday, she has this freaking expression:
THAT is someone to follow into battle.
Oh, if Warner Brothers doesn’t make her movie 120 minutes of that, I will be honest-to-goodness pissed. How pissed? Well, let’s just say that I’ll be hoping some WB execs hear a noise. A high-pitched, kind of bunny-in-a-bear-trap sound…
Yeah, you get the idea.
Okay, so on to the next film… Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants (2016).
So you might be thinking to yourself, golly, that sure looks like someone decided to make Pacific Rim if Batman was involved. And you’d be right… sorta.
And then you’d be disappointed.
“Pacific Rim with Batman” was very clearly the pitch used for this film. You can even hear PacRim-ish sounding music in the first two minutes:
…buuuuuut it’s also very clearly a shoehorned way to take what could have been a really really cool twenty minute vignette and justify it into a full-length movie. There are so many unneeded bad guys and heroes, and they’re all pretty much cardboard cutout versions of their most stereotypical attributes.
Throw in that the plot has so many insane holes in it that I simply don’t even know where to start (and this is from someone who forgives all the plot holes in PacRim).
Sure, the Penguin’s penguin is cute. Sure, the Bat-Mech (and GA Mech) are kinda cool for the first few minutes. The bad guy’s plans and motivations? Make NO freaking sense whatsoever. The B plot with Robin (Damien iteration) wanting Batman’s approval? Pretty flat…but stronger and more compelling than the A plot with the Big Bads. Not. Cool.
And of course, the merch opportunities were well exploited….but given some of the toy’s reviews on YouTube, you might have more fun if you spend your money on some of the toys instead of the film they’re drawn from.
(That said, I’d rather have this be canon than Batman/Batgirl nookie tacked onto The Killing Joke. Honest Trailers pretty much nailed that one too.)
So that takes us to our third DC venture – and the oldest of the bunch – Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011).
I’ll be honest – while I didn’t hate the theatrical GL movie like others did, I only gave this animated feature a chance because I saw the fan-remix “Blackest Night” trailer the day before:
Luckily, I did not repeat NOT see the “official” trailer for this movie. Watch it only after you’ve decided to watch this film.
This trailer is highly misleading on two counts. First, “from the producers of the movie Green Lantern” was apparently still thought to be a good thing when they made the trailer. Second, it really gives the impression (“six interlocking stories” aside) that it’s a single, continuous story – and it’s not.
This is a frame story anthology. There’s a framing story – the present day of the characters – and then various stories about the GL corps that are related from Hal to his new rookie, Arisia. Then there’s a resolution to the framing story, which does relate in some way to all the stories that were previously told. But don’t let the fact that it’s not one big continous story dissuade you from this. The stories are pretty good – nothing too surprising in terms of plot twists or unexpected surprises, but they’re all done pretty solidly. It’s also nice to see non-humans done as characters worthy of empathy and compassion (well before Rocket Raccoon, thanks), though the Japanese ripoff culture in the “Laira” story did make me want to point out the term “cultural appropriation” to someone.
The framing story has one huge scientific mis-step thanks to someone who doesn’t understand antimatter at all, but by that point I was sold enough on the rest of the film that I was okay with it.
A large part of why I’ll forgive the sins of this film is due to the great voice talent at play here. There’s Jason Alexander as Sinestro, Henry-Freaking-Rollins as Kilowog, Elisabeth Moss as Arisia, and Nathan “The Hammer”2 Fillion as Hal Jordan.
Yes, boys and girls, that means that this anthology movie was “Storytime with Nathan Fillion”. And his dulcet (and joyful!) tones really pushed this film to the top of the heap of these three.
It wasn’t a high bar to clear, mind you. If you hadn’t seen any of the other DC films I’ve mentioned before, then yeah, the GL film is clearly on top. If you haven’t, check out my prior reviews of some of the animated DC universe films. I especially recommend the animated Wonder Woman, which also had Mr. Fillion on board. It was…
1I laughed when I saw that Screen Junkies noticed it too; I came to that conclusion separately. And if you didn’t… well, um… can I get you to sign onto the class action lawsuit saying that LoTR ripped of Dungeons and Dragons?
2The Hammer is his in-joke.