Saturday, September 30, 2023

Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham

Among the most well-known Marvel and DC superheroes, Batman is unique in that he not only possesses no superhuman abilities, relying more on his wits, he’s a very versatile character. You can place him in just about any situation or tone and it somehow makes sense. From the more grounded Batman: The Animated Series to the sillier Batman: The Brave and the Bold or even the more fantastical Batman Ninja and Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, just about any situation works for the world’s greatest detective as long as there’s some sort of mystery to solve. In one of the more unique takes from back in late 2000, DC published a three-issue “Elseworlds” story written by Mike Mignola and Richard Pace called Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham, which places Batman in a cosmic horror story heavily inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft. This story later got loosely adapted into a film of the same name in 2023.

Although I had not read the original comic story, the premise of The Doom That Came to Gotham piqued my interest since I had read some of Lovecraft’s work when I was younger and had been fascinated with different takes on it ever since. Unfortunately, while it hits many of the elements found in Lovecraft’s style of cosmic horror, and has a lot of potential within the context of Batman, the film doesn’t quite hit it out of the park.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Elemental (+ Carl's Date)

Within the last year or so, there have been fewer movies we’ve been willing to see in a theater, mainly due to having some varying degree of interest that’s not high enough to justify paying higher ticket and refreshment prices for a group of multiple people. Pixar’s Elemental is one such film, with it being a combination of the advertising not grabbing my attention enough and because of how underwhelming much of Pixar’s recent output has been. Not even the included Up short provided enough of an incentive, and so we opted to wait until it was recently added to Disney+ before considering it. On watching it the same week it was added, it turned out to be better than the trailers made it out to be, but still not one of their stronger films.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Stubs - Batman: Gotham by Gaslight


Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018) voices Bruce Greenwood, Jennifer Carpenter, Anthony Head, Scott Patterson. Directed by Sam Liu. Screenplay by Jim Krieg. Based on Gotham by Gaslight by Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola. Produced by Sam Liu. Run time: 78 minutes. Color. USA. Animated. Superhero

The world of Batman has been transported to different times and places, take Feudal Japan in Batman Ninja (2018), which was released earlier the same year. In Gotham by Gaslight, Batman is transported back to the time of Jack the Ripper, but rather than the foggy alleys of London, the murders happen in Gotham perhaps a little later than they had actually happened.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Stay Tuned

While many of my interests often edge towards the obscure or lesser-known, it’s not too often I seek something out solely because of a small portion of it. This is the case with Stay Tuned, a lesser-known film from 1992 that I somehow stumbled upon, in which the premise sounded interesting, but it was one small part of it caught my interest enough to want to watch it. After watching it through Amazon Prime Video, in which it was free for Prime members, I did find it worth the watch, though it did not really exceed my already-low expectations going in.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Stubs - Batman: The Movie

Batman aka Batman: The Movie (1966) Starring Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin Directed by Leslie H. Martinson. Screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr. Based on characters created by Bob Kane (and Bill Finger). Produced by William Dozier. Run time: 104 minutes Color USA Superhero, Comedy

Feature films based on TV series were something new back in 1966 when Batman  was released in theaters. The TV series, from 20th Century Fox, debuted on ABC on January 12, 1966. The series followed a single storyline spread out over two nights each week. The show would end on a cliffhanger on Wednesday nights with its conclusion on Thursday nights. Building off the 1943 serial produced by Columbia Pictures, for which critic Susan Sontag extolled “the vulgar and laughable (shining) in exact proportion to its unconvincingness,” the TV series presented a very different version of Batman than we’ve come to expect from more recent film portrayals, camp.

Producer William Dozier quickly came to realize its commercial possibilities, and infused the series with the “pop art technique of the exaggerated cliché,” hoping to broaden its appeal to both adults and children. The show proved to be very popular and $50 million (equivalent to $466,661,950 in 2023) in Batman merchandising had saturated the market. Deciding to capitalize while public interest was at its peak, it was announced that a feature film would start filming on April 18, 1966 with Burgess Meredith as “The Penguin,” Cesar Romero as “The Joker,” Frank Gorshin as “The Riddler,” and Julie Newmar as “Catwoman,” each reprising their roles from the series. However, a back injury forced Newmar to withdraw and she was replaced by Lee Meriwether, Miss America 1955.

Filming was postponed until April 28, 1966 and was completed in twenty-six days, with an additional six days for second-unit photography. Filming locations included Stearn's Wharf, Santa Barbara, California; Cliffs, Marineland of the Pacific - 6610 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes; Kirkeby Center - 10889 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, Los Angeles; Van Nuys Airport - 16461 Sherman Way, Van Nuys, Los Angeles; and Bronson Caves, Bronson Canyon, Griffith Park - 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles. The film opened on July 30, 1966, roughly a little more than two months after the last episode of season one aired on May 5, 1966.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Gran Turismo (Film)

While video game to film translations have historically been rocky over the years, especially in live-action, it can be said that more recent efforts such as Pokémon: Detective Pikachu and the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog films have figured out how to make it work without sacrificing the spirit of the source material. With that in mind, as the Gran Turismo games have no real plot to speak of, the film adaptation makes up for this by taking a decidedly more unique approach, adapting a story surrounding the events of the games rather than the games themselves, in this case the story of how Jann Mardenborough went from being a Gran Turismo player to a professional racer. I will admit to not playing any of the actual games prior to this film, only being aware of them, however the approach it took made me curious enough to go see it, especially after looking more into what it was based on. While I didn’t really have any expectations going in, the movie turned out way better than I expected, to where I honestly consider it one of the best video game movies out there.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Stubs - Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero

Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
(1998) Voices of Kevin Conroy, Michael Ansara, Loren Lester, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., George Dzundza, Robert Costanzo, Bob Hastings, Mary Kay Bergman, Marilu Henner, Dean Jones. Directed by Boyd Kirkland. Screenplay by Boyd Kirkland, Randy Rogel. Based on Batman by Bill Finger and Bob Kane Run time: 66 minutes. Color. USA Direct-to-video, Animated, Superhero

Following the relative success of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), a second film was ordered by Warner Bros. That film was Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, which was made to tie-in with Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin (1997), but delayed a year when that film received a poor reception. The last Batman direct-to-video film to use cel animation, SubZero was released on March 17, 1998.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Note: This review contains spoilers for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

While Batman: The Animated Series (Batman TAS) is one of the more highly-acclaimed Batman series, it was not my first introduction to the Dark Knight (that honor goes to The Batman (2004)), since I was literally too young to watch it when it was on. I have, however, since gone back and watched a select handful of episodes and found it to have earned its reputation. While I was also too young to see it in the theater when it came out, I had also seen Mask of the Phantasm, the first film based on the series, after hearing how good it was, though the untimely passing of Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy led me to give it another look in his honor. After a second viewing, I can see how one could argue that it’s one of the best Batman films, especially of the animated variety.