The 75th anniversary of Superman officially kicks off with this amazing super-short film created by Bruce Timm (Superman: The Animated Series) and Zack Snyder (Man of Steel), and produced by Warner Bros. Animation.
This animated short follows Superman through the years, from his first appearance on the cover of Action Comics #1 all the way through to Henry Cavill in this year’s Man of Steel.
Seriously, there’s so much history in this two-minute film, it’s enough to make any fanboy quiver with happiness!
The official DC Blog went and wrote up a full breakdown of the video, and I thought it worth saving here just in case they go ahead and lose it in the next site redesign (which always seems to happen).
The Justice League consists of Earth’s finest super heroes and protectors of humanity. But in the mind of the Dark Knight, it contains potentially the most dangerous people on the planet. Over time, Batman has compiled top-secret contingency plans should any of them go rogue. When these files are stolen by a rising group of super villains, the Justice League embarks on a collision course that will test the very fabric of its alliance!
Director Lauren Montgomery and producers Bruce Timm and Sam Register are back, with the last ever movie script penned by the venerable Dwayne McDuffie before his untimely passing. Released in February 2012, Justice League: Doom is the 13th film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line.
The JL line-up for this outing consists of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), The Flash (Barry Allen) and Martian Manhunter, with the assistance of Cyborg who ends up playing a pivotal role in the saga. Up against them is Vandal Savage, leading a group consisting of Metallo, Mirror Master, Cheetah, Star Sapphire, Bane and Ma’alefa’ak – basically a villain from each hero’s rogues gallery and thus perfect to round things off. What follows is an excellently paced action drama that sees each of the heroes incapacitated in a surprising manner, as Vandal sets about his plan to create a new world order – which of course makes for quite an epic ending.
Being a team-based movie, not a lot of time is lavished on one single hero, but the air time is split evenly enough that you don’t feel hard done by if you support a particular character, and the various threads all combine very nicely to provide a solid and enjoyable super hero tale that has plenty of drama, intrigue and of course fist pounding action (not to mention a giggle here and there)!
Although not a direct sequel to the earlier Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the movie does use the same character designs as the former, and to be frank, despite some of the more pretty boy faces like Superman to get used to as well as the sometimes too sparse line-work, the visuals are for the most part crisp, clean and very well animated, with some fluid choreography and effects, not to mention the vibrant colour palette it sports.
Christopher Drake scores the film and complementing the great soundtrack is a stellar vocal performance from all of the voice actors attached to the project, which includes the likes of Kevin Conroy as Batman, Time Daly as Superman and Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern.
In summary this is yet another excellently crafted super hero movie and a worthy inclusion in what is a fantastic DC animated movie line-up. Strong story which keeps you engaged from start to finish, great visuals and animation, plus a polished sound makes Justice League: Doom well worth tracking down!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_League:_Doom
The 1990’s produced one of the best animated television shows ever to grace the Silver Screen, namely Batman: The Animated Series, produced by legendary comic book figures like Alan Burnett, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for example.
It has been described as one of the closest non comic book adaptations of the Batman mythos, won numerous awards for its writing which was far more mature and thought-provoking than other animated shows of the time, and introduced its iconic visual style, dubbed Dark Deco by its creators.
Volume 2 in this DC Comics Classic Collection packs 28 episodes in over four discs, and as a result you are treated to a nice variety of Batman material versus a number of his greatest foes, as well as his interactions with the newly introduced Dick Grayson as Robin. Unfortunately, as it simply was done back in those days, each episode is self-contained with no overarching story or sometimes even real continuity to speak of, which does detract a little when watching it today, surrounded by the advances in writing for today’s animated fare. Nevertheless, the stories are compelling, action-packed and for the most part, thoroughly enjoyable, meaning an absolute toe-curling thrill for existing fans of the Bat.
Visually of course, Batman: The Animated Series stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of distinctive style, thanks to its art deco visuals, simple lines and very dark tone. However, it must be noted that its approach to place the series in a sort of a timelessness 1940’s-like bubble really does age it 20 years down the line, and unfortunately both the style and the animated objects look pretty dated and thus a little difficult to fully enjoy. Technology in particular suffers, with things like computers, servers and even telephones looking really silly.
Aurally however, Batman: The Animated Series still comes across as a powerhouse amongst animated television. With fantastic voice work from the likes of Kevin Conroy as the Batman/Bruce Wayne, Mark Hamil as the Joker, Bob Hastings as James Gordon and Adrienne Barbeau as Catwoman, and a fully scored orchestral soundtrack to back them up, Batman: The Animated Series sets the benchmark for how a rich, mature animated television show should sound.
In summary, Batman: The Animated Series is quite dated to watch nowadays, especially in the visuals department, but to be fair, you have to keep in mind that this series is basically 20 years old now! Once you have that notion in your head, you really can sit back and enjoy what truly is one of the best animated American television series ever to be produced, with strong writing, a distinct and enjoyable visual style, and a great musical score with voice acting to complement.
And then of course we mustn’t forget that iconic opening sequence and theme music!
It remains enjoyable and well worth picking up if you are a comic book fan or in particular, a Batman universe fan. As for the mileage for people not falling into either of those two categories – well I can’t say for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the marked age of the show will count against it in their eyes.
Oh well, their loss! :)
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman:_The_Animated_Series
At last, an enjoyable anthology makes its appearance in the form of Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, released in 2011 under the DC Universe Animated Original Movie banner.
Although Emerald Knights is the second Green Lantern animated film to be released under this banner and despite sharing character design and animation style with the first, it diverges from the continuity laid out by First Flight in that Hal Jordan is now a veteran Green Lantern and Sinestro is still a Green Lantern, something which would obviously not have been possible following the events of First Flight.
Unlike the haphazard anime-styled anthology that was Batman: Gotham Knight, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights tries a different tack, by unifying the various short stories under an overarching, linking story and employing the same animation style throughout (despite each segment being directed and written by different people, including Lauren Montgomery, Christopher Berkeley and Jay Olivia). So what we get is a fantastic set of tales related by Hal Jordan to new recruit Arisia Rrab as they prepare for an oncoming onslaught that has prompted the Guardians to evacuate Oa and place the Green Lantern Corps on high alert!
The first tale tells of Avra, the first Green Lantern to ever do a light construct, the second of Kilowog and his training under Sgt. Deega, the third of Laira and her action-packed return to her home planet, and the fourth of Mogo and why he doesn’t socialize. At this point Sinestro takes over and tells a tale of Abin Sur, before the movie decides to wrap things up by launching a full scale assault from within the sun the Lantern Corps had been monitoring, prompting the creation of Arisia’s very own tale.
This clever way of presenting an anthology means that it feels like you are watching a full film and not just little disjointed segments, resulting in a great amount of Green Lantern history and information being passed over to you for the first three quarters of the feature, before rewarding you with a proper epic finish that is worthy of a Green Lantern story.
In other words, a very satisfying affair for both those familiar with the Green Lantern mythos and those who were perhaps just passing by. As per usual voice director Andrea Romano has pulled in a wide variety of talent to voice the huge cast of characters, featuring the likes of Nathan Fillion, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Isaacs, Kelly Hu, Arnold Vosloo and even Roddy Piper of all people! Complementing the great voice acting is of course a fantastic musical score, put together by Christopher Drake.
In terms of animation style, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights actually ends up looking quite nice, with fairly simple lines being used, but in such a way as to give a good amount of detail and diversity to the varied set character models used throughout. The animation itself is very slick and there are some fantastic choreographed fight sequences, particularly in the Laira segment. In other words, Emerald Knights comes out looking pretty good for a straight to DVD animated feature!
I must admit that I did enjoy this particular one, despite the fact that an anthology will almost never grab a viewer emotionally due to the short nature of all its mini features. But thanks to the clever overarching storyline, well th05ought out stories being told, and great animation and voice acting, this is certainly another worthy entry into the DC Universe Animated Original Movie catalogue, suitable for both those already familiar with the Green Lantern mythos, as well as those just looking to enjoy some animated fun!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Lantern:_Emerald_Knights
When test pilot and war veteran Hal Jordan accepts a mysterious, powerful ring from a dying alien creature, it transforms him into the Green Lantern, one of an elite force of intergalactic heroes who patrol the universe to ensure peace and justice for all, under the leadership of the Guardians of the Universe.
Unsure of their newest recruit, the Guardians assign Hal to their most-honoured Green Lantern Sinestro for training, unaware that a sinister plot is already well under way that seeks to overthrow the Guardians and create a new order that will replace chaos throughout the galaxy.
It’s a battle of might and willpower as Hal, the first ever human Green Lantern, must prove his worth both as a honourable member of the human species and as a hero to all!
Green Lantern: First Flight is a 2009, direct-to-video Warner Bros. and DC Comics animated film adaptation of the Green Lantern mythology, the first such film of its kind. The story focuses on the first mission of Hal Jordan, the first human inducted into the Green Lantern Corps and is written by veteran DC scribe Alan Burnett. The film is produced by Bruce Timm and directed by Lauren Montgomery, who previously directed DC’s Wonder Woman animated feature film also released in 2009.
In terms of story, Alan Burnett has been such a staple in the DC bullpen for so long now that it is almost impossible for him to put a single step wrong when it comes to DC superheroes and as such the film simply works, building up nice and quickly, humanising as many of the characters as possible and then finishing off with the perfect heroic and explosive end. There are scatterings of humour here and there, but first and foremost Green Lantern: First Flight is an space-based action movie fuelled by limitless imagination – and this is exactly what it chases after from start to finish.
One thing that I am glad about is that they decided not to rehash the whole origin story (despite the film’s title) as this had been covered more than comprehensively enough in the previous Justice League: New Frontier movie released in 2008. Rather, they rushed through this rather well trod sequence and instead chose to focus on the story of Hal Jordan’s first missions as a Green Lantern and the rise of Sinestro, a decision that I wholeheartedly applaud.
Visually, Green Lantern: First Flight is pretty much standard super hero fare, but this is in no way a bad thing when you realise that this means crisp, square-jawed antagonists with extremely clean lines and fluid animation, which when combined with a fairly bright (if a little flat) colour and shading palette delivers an end result that is certainly more than just a little pleasing to the eye.
Unfortunately the film does however stray in that ‘throw a little CG in here and there’ mentality and as per usual the meld between 2D and 3D does not blend seamlessly together and this does cause a little bit of irritation in what other wise would have been a perfect visual spectacle. Thankfully though these sequences and blendings are kept to a minimum and in the end, I can only hope that the cost savings made by substituting the CG in for traditional was worth the money for the producer.
As per usual, the orchestral arrangements and just general background music choice and sound effects for the film are absolutely spot on, but what is a nice change of pace is the inclusion of quite a few well known actors and actresses for the various voice roles in the movie, a move that DC seems to have started in earnest now, following their inclusion of a big(ish) name in Keri Russell for the previous Wonder Woman film. This time around we get Christopher Meloni as Hal Jordan, Victor Garber as Sinestro, Tricia Helfer as Boodikka, Juliet Landau as Labella, Olivia D’Abo as Carol Ferris, John Larroquette as Tomar Re, Larry Drake as Ganthet, and last but most definitely not least, the king of B film action actors, Michael Madsen as the ever lovable Kilowog.
Like it or hate it, having big(ish) names attached to a project (even if just in the voice acting category) certainly can’t hurt in overall sales, and apart from the ‘star power’ that the producer is most certainly hoping for, all these people are trained actors, meaning that their performances are all pretty much top notch.
In summary, Green Lantern: First Flight is a more than worthy addition to DC’s ever growing stable of animated feature length films, featuring some great action, solid story telling, competent animation and just an amazing level of faithfulness to the source material as a whole, all jumbled with that complete sense of wonderment that space-based superhero yarns so often instil deep in a fanboy’s heart.
It is a great composition and if you are a comic book fan then this is one animated film that should definitely be sitting snugly in your DVD rack! :)
Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Lantern:_First_Flight