action, adventure, animation, movie, movie review, superhero

January 26th, 2018 Movie – Teen Titans: The Judas Contract

teen titans the judas contract

Another day, another superhero movie. One of the main reasons that the DC animated films have done so well is that there is so much history to use for the stories. Take today’s movie for instance. “The Judas Contract” is probably one of the best stories involving the Teen Titans to ever be written and is notable for Dick Grayson dropping the Robin identity and becoming Nightwing. The funny thing is that this isn’t the first time that this story received an animated telling, as almost the entire second season of the Teen Titans cartoon was loosely based on this story. However, that telling was more of a kid friendly version, so let’s see how they do with a little more adult version as I watch today’s movie, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.

The plot: 5 years ago, the Teen Titans (Robin (Dick Grayson), Beast Boy, Bumblebee, Kid Flash, and Speedy) are patrolling their city when they see a portal in the sky, and Starfire being attacked by some flying lizard men. When the lizard men capture Starfire, Robin leads the Titans into rescuing her, then has Speedy fire an explosive arrow into the portal, causing it to turn into a vortex that sucks the lizard men back into it. Robin manages to save Starfire from being sucked into the vortex and she thanks him in her native language before kissing him, then thanks him again in English, explaining that she can learn languages through kissing. Starfire tells him that her sister, Blackfire, staged a coup and she was forced to flee her homeworld but she vows to return and free it. As she has no place to call home, Robin offers to let her stay with the Titans and when she accepts, he introduces her to the rest of the team. In the present, Nightwing rejoins the Titans (now led by Starfire and consisting of Beast Boy, Raven, Robin (Damien Wayne), Blue Beetle, and Terra) to take down a hive base. Inside the base, Mother Mayhem is warned of the Titan’s approach by Deathstroke but, seeing no signs of them, dismisses his warning at first but when the Titans attack, she orders the base abandoned, taking the equipment with her. During the battle, Nightwing heads to the computer room to download the data, with Starfire covering him, and the two discuss their relationship. With the battle over, Nightwing asks Starfire to move in with him and she accepts. Returning to Titans Tower, the group unwinds, with Beast Boy trying to get Terra to open up to him, while Beetle has a video call with his family, which doesn’t end as well as he wished. Nightwing is going over the data recovered from the mission, adding it to the data they collected from other raids. As he lets the computer work, he watches an interview on Brother Blood, a cult leader who also leads Hive, before he is interrupted by Robin, Starfire, and Terra. When they notice Beetle acting upset on the monitors, Starfire has Beast Boy and Terra go talk to him. The three end up walking around the city and when they come to a homeless shelter, Beetle decides to volunteer, as it reminds him of helping out at one in his hometown and it will help the scarab get better acclimated to being around humans. While she is there, Terra has a flashback to her own past, causing her to get uncomfortable and she leaves. That night, Terra has a nightmare which causes her powers to act up and when the others go to check on her, she gets defensive and tells them to leave her alone. Meanwhile, Mayhem approaches Brother Blood, who is bathing in the blood of the reporter that had interviewed him earlier, and expresses her concerns about the Titans but he says not to worry, as Deathstroke will take care of them when the time is right. They then head down to the lab, where an experiment takes place that infuses the life force of some volunteers into their test subject, a man named Jericho, making him stronger. Seeing the test is a success, Blood says it is time to move their plan to the next phase, while Mayhem shoots Jericho in the head. Blood then meets up with Deathstroke and tells him to move things up a week, which Deathstroke doesn’t like but Blood tells him he will double his pay and to make sure to capture all of the Titans. The next day, the Titans are doing some training exercises and when Beast Boy and Terra spar against each other, Beast Boy, as a snake, wraps her up but this triggers another flashback from Terra, who loses control and lashes out at Beast Boy. The Titans quickly rescue Beast Boy and stop Terra, who apologizes and is uncomfortable with the Titans showing such concern over her. Later, Robin and Raven express some suspicions about Terra to Nightwing and Starfire but Nightwing says Starfire thinks she is worth giving a chance and shoots there concerns down. That night, Terra secretly leaves the Tower and Robin follows her but she confronts him about tailing her. Suddenly Deathstroke shows up and starts attacking Robin but just when Robin starts to get the upper hand, Terra attacks Robin and captures him, revealing herself to be a double agent. Later, Terra visits Slade and attempts to seduce him but he tells her now is not the time and that they have to finish the mission, as the money Blood is paying them will allow them to start their own League of Assassins, with the two of them at the head. The next day, the Titans throw a surprise party for Terra’s one year anniversary with the team, catching Terra off guard with their kindness, and as the celebrate, the computer finishes it’s analysis of the data and points them to a hive scientist. The Titans head out to the scientist’s lab and find him deleting all his files so they try to stop him but he sends out some robot drones to attack them. The Titans manage to destroy the drones and Raven captures the scientist but before they can question him, Deathstroke, who takes control of a drone remotely, kills him. Seeing that the scientist had photos and files on all of the Titans, Starfire warns them to be careful as they go about their daily routines. Later, Terra is sitting on the edge of the island staring at the water when she is joined by Beast Boy, who talks to her and tries to explain that all of the Titans have faced hardships and she isn’t the only one that has had it rough. The two end up kissing, causing Beast Boy to get excited, and while he celebrates, Deathstroke contacts Terra and tells her that they will take the Titans down tomorrow. The next day, Nightwing goes to check on Beetle and Beast Boy only to find evidence of them being kidnapped. When he returns to his apartment to check on Starfire, he finds her missing just as Deathstroke bursts in and attacks him. The two begin fighting, with Deathstoke overpowering Nightwing, and as the fight carries them outside and onto the docks, Deathstroke ends up shooting Nightwing, who falls into the water. Deathstroke contacts Terra, who has captured Raven, and after he leaves, Nightwing emerges from the water, having used a block of wood as a makeshift kevlar to stop the bullet. After returning to the Tower, Nightwing figures out that Terra had double crossed them and tracks her phone so he can rescue the others. At the Hive base, the Titans find themselves strapped into Blood’s machine when Deathstroke appears and starts taunting them, then reveals that Terra is working with him. When Blood and Mayhem appear, Blood tells Deathstroke that their contract isn’t complete, as he failed to bring Nightwing’s body to him. When Blood suggests that he substitute Terra for Nightwing, Deathstroke agrees and Mayhem shoots Terra with a tranquilizer as she stares in shock at being betrayed. Terra is hooked up to the machine and as Blood gives a speech to his followers, he activates the machine and begins to absorb their powers and abilities. Nightwing shows up and disables the machine, saving the Titan’s lives but Blood begins attacking them with their own powers. Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, and Beetle begin attacking Blood, while Nightwing and Robin attack Deathstroke, who is easily able to beat them. Terra regains consciousness and her anger at being betrayed causes her to lash out, striking Blood as she heads towards Deathstroke and begins attacking him. While they are fighting, the Titans get the upper hand on Blood and Raven, using her demon powers, rids Blood of all their powers and Mayhem kills him to avoid having him captured. Meanwhile, Terra’s fight with Deathstroke continues and she eventually manages to bury him in rocks, then cries out in anguish. She sees Beast Boy staring at her and apologizes to him, then uses her powers to push him to safety as she starts to bring the temple down around her. Afterwards, Beast Boy digs Terra from the rubble and holds her as she looks up at him and smiles briefly before she dies. Some time later, Beast Boy is on Kevin Smith’s podcast and is discussing the Titans and how they deal with the pressure of being heroes and after Kevin brings it up, he talks about Terra’s circumstances. Beetle is shown to still work at the shelter and receives a visit from his family and he happily hugs them. Robin is on the roof of Titans Tower staring at Deathstroke’s mask when he is joined by Raven, who shows him a puppy she got while the Titan’s newest member, Wonder Girl, flies overhead, and Nightwing and Starfire are shown to be relaxing on their couch watching TV.

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract met with positive reviews from the critics, holding an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics felt that it was one of the best movies from DC’s animated line to date. An adaptation of “The Judas Contract” had originally been planned to be the third movie in DC’s animated universe, coming out after Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier but the project ended up being shelved. The movie had a bit of tragedy to it as on the same day Miguel Ferrer was announced as providing the voice for Deathstroke, he ended up dying of throat cancer.

This is a great movie and honestly makes me want to go get my trade and reread it. The acting was good, with Christina Ricci doing a great job as Terra, showcasing all of the various emotions she goes through during the movie. Just from what I remember, the movie seemed to follow the original comic fairly closely but there were some obvious differences, one of them being that Cyborg, who was a member of the Titans in the comic, was not in the movie, as he is a member of the Justice League in the current animated universe. I will say that the whole aspect of Terra trying to seduce Deathstroke, and his playing upon her feelings for his own benefit, was a little creepy. I mean, they never really say how old Terra is, or any of the other Titans for that matter, but it could be safe to say that it she is a teenager and she could be on the older side of that group but the scene where she is in lingerie and trying to get Slade to sleep with her was a little uncomfortable to watch. The animation was pretty good and I liked the design of Brother Blood after he had absorbed the Titans’ powers. A great movie that is definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

September 26th, 2017 Movie – Slither (2006)

slither

Ahh, the memories involving this movie. When I first saw the trailers for this movie, I immediately thought that it looked like a remake of Night OF The Creeps. Apparently I wasn’t the only one as there were lots of people commenting online about the similarities. Still, I knew it was going to be a cheesy fun movie to watch . Unfortunately, I never got around to seeing it in theaters so I had to wait until it came out on video to watch it. Now lets have some fun with today’s movie, Slither.

The plot: In the small town of Wheelsy, South Carolina, local car dealer Grant Grant is married to Starla and jealously possessive of her. Some people don’t understand their marriage but sheriff Bill Pardy, who has had a crush on her since high school, says that when she was left all on her own at 17, and Grant shows up with a lot of money and offering to pay for her college, she got swept up in the moment. That night, Grant tries to have sex with Starla but when she tells him she isn’t in the mood, he gets mad and heads to the bar for a drink. While there, he runs into Brenda, the younger sister of an old girlfriend, and the two end up going into the woods together. Brenda tries kissing Grant but he pushes her away and is about to leave when he notices the remains of a meteorite that had crashed there the night before and a slime trail leading away from it. Following the trail, Grant and Brenda find a strange, grub like creature and as Grant leans closer to look at it, a stinger shoots out from the creature’s back and strikes him, infecting him with a parasite. After collapsing to the ground while the parasite heads to his brain, Grant then gets up and heads home, leaving Brenda wondering if he is ok. The next morning, Starla tries apologizing to Grant and they end up dancing and fooling around before they both head to work. That afternoon, Grant buys up a large quantity of meat from the store and stores it all in the basement, placing a lock on the door to keep Starla from seeing it, which she questions. That night there is a town dance and Starla is getting ready for it when Grant enters the bathroom and alien tendrils emerge from his stomach but he doesn’t want to hurt Starla and quickly leaves, telling her he will meet her there. At the dance, Bill sees Starla standing by herself and works up the nerve to go talk with her and eventually dances with her. Meanwhile, Grant had gone to Brenda’s house and after learning that her husband isn’t there, he heads inside and ends up impregnanting her with the alien tendrils. Starla comes home and wonders where Grant is and when she finally sees him, asks what is wrong, as Grant’s face is swollen, and Grant tells her he had an allergic reaction to a bee sting and got some medicine from the doctor. The next day, Starla calls the doctor’s office and finds that they haven’t seen Grant in over a year and she starts to worry, while also noticing several posters for missing pets all seem to be from her neighborhood. That night, Bill and his deputy Don show up to speak with Grant in connection to Brenda’s disappearance but she tells them that he isn’t there. After they leave, Starla gets a hammer and breaks the lock on the basement door to see what is down there and she finds the carcasses of dozens of animals including the missing pets. Starla calls Bill but as she is on the phone, she sees Grant, who has begun to mutate further, outside the window and she tries to run but he attacks her and tries to impregnate her but when Bill and his deputies show up, he runs off into the woods. Three days later, Mayor Jack MacReady is pressuring Bill to find Grant when they get word of another animal attack. After checking the scene, Bill rounds up a couple of hunters to go with his deputies and they head off to stake out where Grant will most likely strike next and Starla convinces Bill to let her come too. When Grant shows up, he has mutated even further into a giant, slug-like creature and he kills a cow and drags it into the woods. Starla heads out to try and talk with Grant as Bill and the others surround him but Grant roars at them and leaves, killing one of the hunters in the process. Bill and the others follow Grant into the woods and come to an abandoned barn, and find Brenda inside, having swollen up to giant proportions. As they try to find out what happened to her, Brenda starts splitting open and Bill sees Grant outside and realizes he lead them into a trap. Brenda explodes, releasing hundreds of blood-red slugs which begin crawling over everyone and into the mouths of Don and some of the others but Bill, Starla, Jack, and Deputy Margaret. Unable to raise anyone on his radio, Bill goes back to his car to call for help and tells the others to bring the bodies out of the barn but while he is gone, Don and the others suddenly regain consciousness and begin speaking like Grant and they kill Margaret while Starla shoots Don but then her and Jack are forced to run. Meanwhile, a teenager named Kylie is taking a bath when one of the slugs tries to get in her mouth and she gains some of the creature’s memories but she is able to pull it out of her mouth and kill it. She yells for her family but they have all been infected and as the slugs start swarming the house, she gets in her family’s truck and hides. Her family suddenly appear and try to get to her when Bill shows up to find out what is going on. As their attention is turned to him, Kylie runs to him and tries to tell him that they aren’t her family when he is attacked by another person that is infected. Bill and Kylie manage to get away and make it to his car and they see Starla and Jack being chased by his infected deputy so Bill hits the deputy, and Starla kills him, and they all leave. Kylie tells them what she saw from the slug’s memories and Starla says the creature has a hive mind, which is why all of the people were talking like Grant. Bill contacts his secretary and tells her to call the CDC but she gets infected by the slugs and as Bill and the others reach town, they are ambushed by the infected people. The infected people grab Starla and Jack and drag them away but Bill and Kylie manage to get away. Bill heads to the police department to grab a grenade, theorizing that if he kills Grant, he will stop all of the infected people. When he goes inside, he is attacked by an infected deer but Kylie manages to save him and they grab the grenade and leave, with Bill saying when he retells the story, he will save her from the deer. Meanwhile, the infected take Starla back to her house and dress her in a nightgown while Jack is placed in the basement with other people who are impregnated and when he tries to escape, he ends up being impregnated as well. When Starla regains consciousness, she tries to escape but when she realizes she can’t, she grabs a hairbrush and pulls off the bristles to use as a makeshift weapon. Starla heads downstairs and finds Grants has mutated even further and begun absorbing some of the other people to increase his mass. Starla approaches Grant and tries to sooth him and say that she will stay by his side but as she goes to kiss him, she stabs him with the brush and he throws her aside. Bill and Kylie show up and try to blow him up but Grant knocks Bill out the window and the grenade falls into the pool while Kylie is slammed into a wall by a couch. Grant them tries to impregnate Bill but Bill grabs one of the tentacles and sticks it into a nearby propane tank, then tells Starla to shoot Grant. Starla does and Grant is destroyed, while all of the infected people drop dead as the hive mind is destroyed. Starla and Kylie go to check on Bill and Kylie tells him that he will be fine as Grant needed both tentacles to be impregnated. Bill is grateful for that and as they leave, he asks Kylie to tell Starla about how he saved her from a deer, unaware that a cat starts feeding on Grant’s corpse and ends up being infected.

Slither (2006) met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A slimy, B-movie homage oozing with affection for low-budget horror films, Slither is creepy and funny — if you’ve got the stomach for it.” There was some controversy when the trailers first came out for the movie as people commented online about it’s similar plot point to Night Of The Creeps but writer/director James Gunn swore that he had never seen Night Of The Creeps until after he had filmed Slither. The movie was a dud at the box office, earning $12.8 million off of a $15 million budget but became a cult hit when it came out on video.

This is a fun, ridiculous horror movie to watch. The acting was good, with Nathan Fillion (Bill), Elizabeth Banks (Starla), and Michael Rooker (Grant) all doing good jobs in their roles. The story definitely did have some similarities to Night Of The Creeps but it also had it’s own unique style to it. While there were some comedic elements to the movie, they were mostly situational and sometimes fell a little flat. The special effects in the creature design and the gore were definitely well done and showed some creativity in their use. Silly, fun, and a couple of decent scares that make it worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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