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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action, adventure, animation, movie, movie review, sci-fi, Uncategorized

December 15th, 2017 Movie – Superman: Doomsday

superman doomsday

In 1992, an announcement was made that rocked the comic book industry, and the world itself; DC comics was going to kill Superman. The event would become one of the most talked about events worldwide, with Superman (vol. 2) #75

superman 75(the actual comic where he died) becoming the highest selling comic of all time. As popular as the story was, it only makes sense that they would make a movie based on it. So to jump start their new line of animated films, DC decided to do just that. So let’s see how the animated version lives up to the hype from the comics as I watch today’s movie, Superman: Doomsday.

The plot: At the Daily Planet, Lois Lane and Perry White are arguing about her article on a LexCorp charity being a front, with Perry refusing to print it to avoid being sued for libel. As Lois storms out of his office, Perry says goodbye to Clark Kent, who is getting ready to travel to Afghanistan as a foreign correspondent, and Clark says goodbye to Lois before he leaves. Elsewhere, a secret LexCorp project is digging deep underground to tap into the Earth’s core as a new power source when the uncover an alien spaceship. As Lex Luthor watches from a video uplink, the workers accidentally pierce the spaceship, causing an inert gas to escape as a hologram of an alien being warns them about what is inside. When the gas is dispersed, a massive figure inside the ship suddenly breaks free and proceeds to kill everyone in the tunnel, as well as back up on the surface. Elsewhere, Superman and Lois are having a romantic getaway at the Fortress of Solitude but Lois’ thoughts drift back to Clark. She comments to Superman about how Clark seems to become more distant, physically and emotionally, the closer she gets to him and, getting suspicious, starts trying to find out more about Superman and gets upset that he won’t admit who he really is. Meanwhile, Doomsday continues making his way through the woods, killing everyone and everything he encounters, until he finally reaches Metropolis. At the same time, Luthor tells his assistant to make sure there is no sign his company was ever at the dig site, as he doesn’t want to be held responsible for unleashing Doomsday on the city. Back at the Fortress, Superman apologizes to Lois and starts to tell her who he really is when his robot servant informs him of the events in Metropolis. As Superman prepares to leave, the robot says it found mention of Doomsday in his father’s records and that it was created to be the perfect killing machine while being practically unkillable itself. Superman carries Lois back to Metropolis with him, setting her down on the roof of the Daily Planet while he flies off to face Doomsday. When he arrives at where the military is trying to stop Doomsday, Superman attempts to freeze the creature but it breaks free from the ice and begins to attack Superman. Lois and Jimmy use the Daily Planet’s helicopter to report on the story but Doomsday spots them and attacks the helicopter. Superman rescues them, knocking Doomsday into a building, then sets the helicopter down and tells Lois and Jimmy to run while he continues to battle Doomsday. Doomsday appears to get the upper hand, battering Superman to the point he is coughing up blood, but when Doomsday turns his attention onto a little girl who is crying nearby, Superman grabs Doomsday and flies up into space, then turns around and speeds back to Earth, pummeling Doomsday as they fall. The two crash into the street and Doomsday is finally killed while Superman staggers out of the crater they left before collapsing on the ground as Lois rushes to him. Superman asks if everyone is ok and when Lois tells him he saved everyone, Superman dies, with Lois and Jimmy both crying over him while in Smallville, Martha Kent breaks into tears as she watches the footage on TV. A funeral is held for Superman and as Perry walks Lois away, she notices Martha leaving as well. Meanwhile, Jimmy is approached by the head of a tabloid, who offers Jimmy a job which Jimmy accepts. As Perry tells Lois to take some time off and go be with family, Lois decides to travel to Smallville to see Martha. Unsure of how much she might know about her, Lois stammers her way through an introduction but Martha, suspicious at first, takes pity on her and invites her in to talk. Meanwhile, Mercy tells Luthor that everything was taken care of so there is no sign of their involvement at the dig site and Luthor kills her so she won’t become a loose end. When the Toyman kidnaps a bus full of kids, Lois heads to the rooftop he is holding them on and tries to get them to safety. She is spotted as she is saving the last girl and Toyman throws the bus off the roof but Lois, and the rest of the onlookers, are surprised when she is rescued by Superman. Superman sets the bus down and goes after Toyman, defeating his giant mechanical spider and dropping him in front of the police before flying off with Lois. Lois asks how he is back and he says he isn’t sure, just that he woke up in darkness. When he drops her off at her apartment, Lois kisses Superman but he doesn’t kiss her back and Lois gets concerned. Meanwhile, Superman heads LexCorp to confront Luthor, who tricks him into entering a room lit by red sunlight and proceeds to beat him up with Kryptonite laced gauntlets. After rendering Superman unconscious, Luthor tells him that he is doing a good job in pretending to be Superman. Luthor then heads to another room, where he has the Superman’s body kept in a stasis chamber, and reveals that he cloned Superman so that he can take the glory for his accomplishments. As time passes, Lois and Martha both get suspicious about Superman as there has been no sign or contact from Clark to either of them. At LexCorp, Luthor goes to mock Superman’s body again only to discover that it is missing. At the Fortress of Solitude, Superman awakens and finds the robot tending to him, explaining that his biology had slowed his metabolism to a crawl in order to heal. He then explains about the clone but says it is best to leave it be for now, as it is helping the people of Metropolis, and instead he should focus on healing. Back in Metropolis, the clone sees a news broadcast of the Toyman having escaped custody and killing a kid before he is recaptured. Superman heads to the police station and grabs the captured Toyman, then flies him up into the air before letting him go, where he falls to his death. As the clone starts behaving more totalitarian in his dispensing of justice, Luthor hands him a list of people that might have stolen Superman’s body and tells him to find it discreetly, warning the clone he can kill him if he gets out of line. The clone leaves LexCorp and heads to a beauty salon, where he uses a mirror to examine himself and discovers a small, lead sphere in his brain. Realizing that it must contain Kryptonite inside, the clone uses his heat vision to burn a hole in his head, then removes the sphere. Back at the Fortress, Superman is in a chamber that is accelerating his solar absorbtion as he continues to heal and regain his strength. Lois heads to LexCorp to ask Luthor how he got Superman to be his puppet and when Luthor attempts to seduce her and kisses her, she drugs him and knocks him unconscious. Lois and Jimmy then find the files and secret room, where Luthor has created dozens of clones. Luthor regains consciousness and admits he is making the clones as his own personal police force, then prepares to kill them when the clone arrives. Luthor attempts to kill the clone but when the detonator doesn’t work, he notices the scar on the clone’s forehead and realizes that he removed the safeguard. The clone proceeds to destroy all of the other clones and computers in the room, then tells Lois and Jimmy to evacuate while he goes after Luthor. Luthor heads into his red sun room and challenges the clone but the clone simply seals Luthor into the room, then pulls it free from the building before throwing it down to the ground, seemingly killing Luthor. Back at the Fortress, the robot informs Superman about what is happening and Superman says he has to go back. The robot warns that he is not at full strength and the clone could kill him again, then hands him Luthor’s Kryptonite gun to use as a way to even the playing field. Back in Metropolis, the military is called in to deal with the clone but he easily destroys all of their vehicles. Superman arrives, wearing a black solar suit to help him recharge, and he speaks with the clone first before they start fighting. Superman tries to shoot the clone with the Kryptonite gun but the clone quickly knocks it away and they begin fighting. Lois and Jimmy start to cover the action but when it seems like the clone is getting the upper hand, Lois heads off to get the Kryptonite gun. As the clone goes to kill Superman, Lois shoots the clone with the gun but before she can fire another shot, the clone destroys the gun, sending the Kryptonite cell falling into some tar. Superman renews his fight with the clone but the clone overpowers him. As the clone grabs the Superman memorial to crush Superman with, Superman sees the Kryptonite cell stuck to the clone’s chest and uses his heat vision to cause it to explode, sending a cloud of Kryptonite smoke to surround the clone. The clone falls to the ground with the memorial falling on top of him and as the clone staggers away from the smoke, he collapses in front of Superman, begging him to protect the people. Lois approaches Superman, wanting to know if he is the real Superman, and when Superman kisses her, she accepts he is the real Superman. Superman is worried that the people of Metropolis won’t be so accepting of him but when a kid approaches him and asks if he will go back to wearing his normal uniform, Lois says she isn’t worried as more people approach Superman. Back at Lois’s apartment, Superman emerges from her shower as she is writing an article. When he corrects a spelling mistake in her article, he comments about being the Smallville Elementary spelling bee champ and when she turns to face him, she sees he has put on his glasses to reveal to her that he is Clark. Lois kisses him, then tells him to call his mother as they embrace while back at LexCorp, Luthor is shown to have survived and is recuperating from his injuries while thinking of his next plan to destroy Superman.

I am of mixed opinions about this movie. I mean, the death, and return, of Superman was a months long affair in the comics and to condense it down to 77 minutes definitely means a lot of stuff out. That being said, this wasn’t that bad of a movie. The voice acting was good, with Adam Baldwin (Superman), Anne Heche (Lois) and James Marsters (Luthor) doing good jobs voicing their characters. Obviously, the story is not going to be like the comics but it wasn’t too bad. I did like that they included a brief scene of the tattered cape hanging from a pole (as seen in the cover above). I also liked that they included the clone aspect from the comics, though in this case it was a full grown copy while in the comics, it was a half Superman, half Luthor hybrid that became Superboy. My favorite part was the brief voice cameo that Kevin Smith had, where he commented about the giant mechanical spider as this was a nod to when he was working on a Superman movie in the late 90’s and the producer kept insisting that he add a giant spider to it. The animation in this was pretty good and the lighting kept the movie pretty dark and gritty, which helped keep with the rather somber tone of the movie. It is not as good as the comics, but it is a decent movie and worth watching.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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