Tag Archives: lauren montgomery

Review: Justice League: Doom (2012) Animation | My Reviews 21 JUN 2012

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

Review: Batman: Year One (2011) My Reviews 05 JAN 2012

“When Gotham City is in desperate need of heroes, two men take a stand for justice… but on opposite sides. Bruce Wayne returns home after years abroad to become a crime fighter, just as honest cop Lt. James Gordon moves to Gotham and finds corruption at every level. When Bruce becomes the masked vigilante Batman, the city explodes as the mob, his new nemesis Catwoman, and Gordon all close in!”

So another Batman movies enters the fantastic DC Universe Animated Original Movies stable, this time in the form of Batman: Year One, based on the classic Frank Miller’ and David Mazzucchelli’s ’87 story arc. Essentially a tale based in the start of Batman’s career and an exploration of how his relationship with Jim cemented itself, Batman: Year One is gritty, focused, and very much not an overblown, save the world super hero type of story – instead the spotlight hangs for the most part over James Gordon and his early tribulations as he tries to clean up in a very corrupt city, with of course the rather unwanted assistance of Gotham’s first masked vigilante!

Matching the subdued, dark tone of the story, the animation style employed resembles very closely the emotive art of Mazzucchelli, giving the film a very distinct, adult look, resulting in a truly good looking piece of work. Similarly, fantastic voice artist work from the likes of Benjamin McKenzie as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Bryan Cranston as Lt. James Gordon adds to the class already delivered by the stunning visuals, never mind the suitably moody and well arranged musical score that acts as the backdrop for this very serious tale that is being told.

In summary, Batman: Year One is a very, very good movie. Because the source material was already so cinematic in nature, directors Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery didn’t have to fiddle very much in bringing it to the silver screen, and so fans of the original comic arc will definitely be blown away by this fantastic adaptation, as will any other fans of the Dark Knight.

However, that said, I didn’t necessarily enjoy Batman: Year One. I appreciated it, yes, but perhaps it was a little too grounded and dark in tone for me to say that I loved it. However, despite my personal taste, there is no taking away from the fact that this is a VERY well made animated movie, a fantastic new entry into the DC animated movies stable, and most important of all, an excellent example of animation aimed for a mature audience done right.

Well worth picking up then.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman:_Year_One_%28film%29

Review: Green Lantern: Emerald Knights My Reviews 17 NOV 2011

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

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse My Reviews 28 OCT 2010

Lex Luthor is president no more, Batman has saved the world from the impact of an arriving meteor, and a strange young woman has made her appearance, confused, unable to comprehend our language and most important of all, wreaking devastating havoc with her uncontrollable powers – which are very similar to those of Superman!

But this girl’s arrival has sparked the interest of another, eager to replace the captain of his honor guard now that Big Barda has defected – Beware. Darkseid is coming.

I’m a big fan of the recent spate of DC and Warner Bros. Animation animated films released directly to DVD, and up until now, the DC line has been particularly strong, with major hits like Wonder Woman, Superman: Doomsday and Batman: Under the Red Hood to name but a few.

However, the 2010 released Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is certainly not one of their best attempts I’m afraid.

Superman and Batman. As if you couldn't tell.

The story revolves around the introduction of Supergirl to our world and the forming of her relationship with her adult cousin, Clark Kent, better known as Superman to us. Although Kara Zor-El was older than her cousin Kal-El when they were both ejected from the dying Krypton, her escape pod ran off course, resulting her being lost at space and thus remaining in suspended animation for a far longer period of time than her now adult cousin.

After being initially corralled by this world’s heroes, she gets taken in under Superman’s wing and is soon learning to adapt and survive in our world – as well as getting to grips with her slightly stronger than Superman’s power set.

However, her unheralded arrival and amazing potential does not go completely unnoticed for long, and Darkseid of Apokolips soon finds himself hatching a plan for her capture and eventual transformation into his loyal puppet – though his end goal might be a little more sinister than just that!

Directed by Lauren Montgomery, a rising superstar in the world of animated feature directors, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is based on Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman arc “The Supergirl from Krypton”, with the script being handled by Tab Murphy. Unfortunately, its at this point that the first major flaw for this film hits you – its pacing is just absolutely horrible. The story has enough decent elements to work with, but unfortunately the pace at which events unfold or rather bang together is just too unrelenting and comes across as too hurried, compressing far too much time into the space that viewers are meant to fill in with their imagination. This is a bit jarring and at times you feel that the film is basically just hurtling between all the important bits, hurrying so that it can arrive at the all important battle sequences (of which there are quite a number by the way).

This poor pacing means that emotional connections with characters never really truly form and thus lots of the more emotional moments are simply lost as the film unfolds.

And then we have the art. Based in part on the late Michael Turner’s uber sexy style which presents us with cute girls with very elongated and slim waists, this style unfortunately doesn’t translate quite as well to the male characters and the faces for Batman and Superman really do leave a lot to be desired at times. Also, the particularly poorly CG animated boom tube battle sequence also leaves one gritting one’s teeth as you can’t help but spot the glaring animation errors and lack of fluidity in places.

Needless to say, no love lost between these two!

But it isn’t all bad news mind you. As I mentioned, the female characters are all drawn particularly well and are a feast for the eye, and for the most part, the plentiful fight scenes are all well choreographed and fantastic to behold. And despite my grumblings over story pacing, there is no denying that there is a story in there and most important of all, it contains a major surprise moment which should catch most of you completely by surprise when it finally comes knocking!

In terms of voices, it is nice to see they kept all the voice actors from the previous Superman/Batman: Public Enemies outing (of which this is the sequel by the way), and both Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy are perfect in their roles as Superman and Batman respectively. Also, Summer Glau is a welcome addition in the form of Supergirl’s voice, though Andre Braugher didn’t quite work for me as Darkseid, with his voice simply not having that menacing and overwhelming presence one would expect from the omnipotent overlord.

So in summary, this is a competent, good looking animated film, well worth watching by any comic book fan. That said, it is definitely one of the weaker ones in the current direct to DVD animated film line-up and is perhaps one of the least emotionally enjoyable ones to watch out of the bunch.

In other words, don’t recommend it to anyone looking for the opportunity to rip into animated films and declare just how bad they are. Fans only then.

You had better buy this or the Amazonians will get you!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_superman_apocalypse

Green Lantern: First Flight My Reviews 22 SEP 2009

Green Lantern First Flight CoverWhen 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! :)

Green Lantern First Flight Screenshot

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Lantern:_First_Flight