Animated movie reviews


I watched a few animated comic book movies over break (Netflix instant watch, what up), and it’s time for a quick rundown of reviews. Although I might have felt there were some flaws here or there, I mostly came away impressed, particularly as three of my four reviews are from pretty recent films, and there’s certainly been a recent trend to make edgier animated comic movies. As I said when I reviewed Planet Hulk a while back, I think that trend could be a great thing for fans who want to see some of these more adult-aimed stories told, but without having punches pulled for the kiddies.

So read on as I give mini-reviews for Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse revolves around Supergirl making her animation debut, crash-landing on Earth, and being revealed to be Superman’s cousin. Batman doesn’t trust her, which puts him and Supes at odds. Wonder Woman joins in the dispute and plays just as big of a role as Superman or Batman, but doesn’t get her name in the title — possibly because she acts like a holier-than-thou bitch who’s somehow even less likable then WW usually is. Supergirl herself acts like a bratty teenager, and the movie gets bogged down at times by the kind of teenage angst that Spiffy cums his pants upon seeing. Once the movie moves to Apokolips, though, Apocalypse gets better (despite terrible voice casting for Darkseid). The film doesn’t pull its punches, showing blood splatters and having villains yell lines like, “Surrender now, or the bitch dies!” There’s a lot of action packed into the final 30 minutes or so, enough to pretty well make up for some of the flaws.

Grade: B+

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)

Next up was the welcome return of the Justice League, featuring the first appearance of the parallel world where Lex Luthor ran the JLA and the Crime Syndicate terrorized all of Earth. I never really gave a shit about the Crime Syndicate, so I didn’t have the highest of hopes for this. But it turned out to be very enjoyable. Batman and Superman both bordered on being out of character in a couple scenes, but both made up for it, particularly Bats with some coldly calculating moves near the end. The biggest weakness was probably the filmmakers’ decision that the story needed a romantic subplot, then forcing one in that felt neither real nor interesting. But the highlight was certainly Owl-Man, a lame intentional Batman rip-off that surprised big by actually being written fairly brilliantly and being given a creepy (but not over-the-top) edge by actor James Woods.

Grade: A-

Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

Now, for the highlight of this post. Under the Red Hood re-tells the story of Jason Todd, from his early sidekick days, to his dark fate as Robin, to his chilling return. I haven’t read the comics version of the story, so I can give you no comparison; maybe having read that will make you like this less, I don’t know. But for me, I found it bloody brilliant. Knowing that most viewers will already know the Red Hood’s true identity, the movie doesn’t try to make this a secret bombshell to anyone but Bruce, instead focusing on the shattering effect Jason’s return has on Batman and what it means for Gotham. Jensen Ackles’ voice acting as Jason hits the mark, particularly near the end; John Di Maggio is even better, hitting the perfect spot between Mark Hamill’s Joker on Batman: The Animated Series and Heath Ledger’s from The Dark Knight. Neil Patrick Harris kicks in as Nightwing, for good measure. The movie builds its drama very well, and the climactic scene was just perfect. This is right up there with Batman: Mask of the Phantasm for my favorite animated comics movie ever.

Grade: A+


Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2003)

Under the Red Hood had gotten me wanting more animated goodness, but after the three listed above, there was nothing else left on Instant Watch that I hadn’t already seen, except Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman. I’d avoided it, because I knew the 2003 feature probably couldn’t live up to the three I’d watched from 2010, but finally decided to give it a chance once I’d run out of other options. Like I expected, Mystery of the Batwoman was a clear product of a different era — not at all its fault, but it just doesn’t hold up well when viewed after today’s more mature stories. It’s rather predictable and features a lot of corny moments. There’s also a (thankfully brief) scene where Barbara Gordon seems to lust after Bruce/Batman, which I don’t remember ever being a thing on the series this movie sprang from, but maybe it’s just been too long since I’ve seen that old stuff. The fight sequences at the end were, to be fair, pretty strong for the era. I bet I would have liked this more about twelve years ago (though it’s only seven years old).

Grade: B-


2 Responses to “Animated movie reviews”

  1. gokitalo Says:

    “(despite terrible voice casting for Darkseid)”

    Really? That’s a shame, as the guy they cast (Andre Braugher) is actually a pretty great actor.

    Glad you dug <Crisis on Two Earths. It was actually going to be a movie that bridged Justice League with Justice League Unlimited, but some exec decided the movie should stand on its own. Bleh. I mean, I dig the animation and all, but I’d known about Crisis a while before it came out, so I was pretty bummed out when I heard about the change.

    I started watching Red Hood in December. One day, I will finish it! Probably tomorrow.

    And Mystery of the Batwomen! Didn’t see that one coming. I saw it a few years back and thought it was fun, but not exactly amazing. I wish Rupert Thorne had a bigger role, especially since it was the last time John Vernon played the character before he passed away.

    “There’s also a (thankfully brief) scene where Barbara Gordon seems to lust after Bruce/Batman, which I don’t remember ever being a thing on the series this movie sprang from”

    You know, they alluded to it in a dream sequence in Batman: The Animated Series, but they didn’t really develop it until Batman Beyond, where an older Barbara Gordon tells new Baman Terry McGinnis that she and Bruce had been an item. And here I thought she and Robin/Nightwing made such a great couple…

  2. davidry214 Says:

    Braugher is indeed really good. Glory is one of my favorite war movies, and what I’ve seen of Men of a Certain Age is pretty enjoyable. So perhaps I should say that he just wasn’t the right fit here, or that it’s very possible that the blame should lie not on Braugher but his director. But his voice didn’t sound like Darkseid’s should, IMO. His voice is not quite low enough and is mostly too calm. Compare Michael Ironside’s Darkseid from the Superman cartoon:

    With Braugher’s Darkseid (Warning: contains some spoilers):

    Which voice would make you afraid? And while sometimes giving the villain a calmer voice can make him creepy or scarier, is Darkseid really that type of villain?

    There’s still kind of a half-hearted attempt to bridge a little into JLU in Crisis on Two Earths, but it definitely sits mostly on its own. I can see how that could be frustrating, but it’s a good watch.

    Let me know when you do see Under the Red Hood. My gut is that you won’t like it as much as I did, but hopefully it’ll entertain you.

    I don’t recall that BTAS dream sequence, but the Batman Beyond episode does ring a bell, now that you mention it. BB was always an up-and-down show for me. I liked it more early, but the premise gradually wore thin on me. But its own animated movie, Return of the Joker, was among the best.

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