comedy, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 11th, 2014 Movie – Bat Thumb

bat thumb

If there is one thing to be said about today’s movie, the creator had his thumbs all over it. I know, it’s a bad joke but it is true with this movie. Yes, the success of Thumb Wars brought about several other thumb infused parodies. Today’s movie is one that somehow ended up in my house and in my collection over the years. I’m not going to complain too much as a short comedy and some laughs, even if it is over how stupid something is, is always good for the soul. So let’s have a few laughs with today’s movie, Bat Thumb.

The plot: In Gaaathumb City, two crooks mug a tourist and escape down an alley but as they are splitting up the loot, they are confronted by Bat-Thumb. The crooks try attacking him with a board but when he breaks it, they make a run for it. Bat-Thumb captures them both and tries to get them to deliver a message to the rest of the criminals in Gaaathumb but the crooks aren’t exactly sure what he is trying to say. Later that night, Wuce Bane is hosting a party at his mansion when he meets Vicky Nail and after talking for a bit, the two proceed to make out. The next day, the Gaaathumb bank is robbed by No-Face and his gang. The bank manager calls the Commissioner and Police Chief, who contact Bat-Thumb. At Wayne Manor, Wuce is lying in bed with Vicky when the Thumbphone rings, and he tries to answer it without revealing his secret identity to Vicky. Wuce heads to the Batburrow to change and quickly heads over to the bank to meet with Commissioner and Police Chief. After they discuss who robbed the bank, Bat-Thumb prepares to head to No-Face’s old lair when he is approached by a young man claiming to be his sidekick Blue Jay. As Commissioner and Police Chief laugh and mock Bat-Thumb for his sidekick, Bat-Thumb tries to get rid of the kid and then heads off to No-Face’s lair. When Bat-Thumb arrives, he sees Blue Jay approaching and tries again to get rid of him but when Blue Jay starts crying, he reluctantly agrees to let him help. The two make their way inside and confront No-Face and his gang, who mock Blue Jay’s costume, but as Bat-Thumb deals with No-Face’s men, and Blue Jay consistently runs from them, No-Face catches them in a net. Strapping them to tables, No-Face explains his plan to use a special gas to erase the faces from everyone in Gaaathumb. No-Face leaves, leaving Bat-Thumb and Blue Jap in a trap that will erase their faces but Bat-Thumb is able to get free and save Blue Jay, then they head out to save Gaaathumb. In the city, No-Face has captured Vicky and begins using a gas to erase the face from everyone in Gaaathumb but Bat-Thumb and Blue Jay arrive and Bat-Thumb uses a giant fan to blow the gas away. No-Face is captured and as Vicky thanks Bat-Thumb for saving her, the people that were effected by the gas ask what will happen to them and Bat-Thumb says that they will stay that way forever. As Vicky, Commissioner, and Police Chief thank Bat-Thumb, Blue Jay shows up and they start laughing at him, though Bat-Thumb says that he will take him on as his sidekick, but they need to do something about his costume.

This is so stupidly funny that you can’t help but laugh at it. The voice acting was pretty good, though I have to admit it is still a little odd seeing people’s faces on thumbs. The story was kind of a mixture of the Tim Burton Batman movies and the old Adam West show, which is honestly a pretty weird mixture. The background settings were decent while the green screen effects for putting the faces were ok but I keep wishing it was done a little better. It is some stupid comedy that can give you a couple of laughs but isn’t worth hunting down to watch.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, animation, comic book, crime, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 10th, 2014 Movie – Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker

batman beyond return of the joker

At the beginning of 1999, as everyone was talking about the new century/millennium that was fast approaching, a new Batman appeared to give us a glimpse of what the future might bring. When Batman Beyond first debuted, I was curious about it as the initial concept sounded pretty interesting. So I watched the pilot movie and thought it was incredibly well done and couldn’t wait to watch the cartoon when it started up on a weekly basis. Now some time after the show started, there were some rumors that started up saying that the 5th Batman movie might possibly be based on this new cartoon. If there is one thing that I will never forgive Batman & Robin for, it is the fact that they deprived us of the chance for a live action version. However, they made up for it by making an animated film involving the Joker and bringing Mark Hamill in to reprise the character. As soon as I first saw the ad for this movie I knew I had to watch it so I bought the DVD as soon as it came out, then upgraded it to Blu-Ray a few years ago. So let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker.

The plot: In the year 2040, a gang of Jokerz (Bonk, Chucko, Ghoul, the Dee Dee twins (Deidre and Delia Dennis), and Woof (who has been spliced with hyena genes)) are stealing some high tech equipment when Batman (Terry McGinnis) shows up to stop them. Batman works on taking them out but gets briefly distracted by the Dee Dees when he sees them cowering in fear only to have one of them hit him with a taser when he turns his back and they both attack him. He manages to get away from them but Woof bites him and as Ghoul goes to help Woof, Bonk, Chucko, and the Dee Dees manage to get away with the equipment. Batman knocks out Woof and Ghoul and gives chase and when he attacks Bonk, he disengages from the device and flies off after him, leaving the other two unable to continue carrying the device. The Dee Dee that is with Bonk tries to attack Batman but ends up falling off the lifter. Batman manages to snag her with a grapple but Bonk attacks him. The other Dee Dee uses her lifter to save her sister as the device crashes to the ground and Chucko grabs the memory board from it before Dee Dee picks him up and they fly away before it explodes. Bonk continues attacking Batman but is struck by a flag pole and hangs onto it. Batman manages to jump from the lifter before it crashes but when he recovers, he sees that the Jokerz have gotten away. Returning to the Batcave, Terry tells Bruce about the Jokerz when he notices the news broadcast talking about Bruce returning to take control of Wayne Enterprises. Terry comments about some disparaging remarks from Jordan Price, who had been in line to run the company before Bruce’s return, and Bruce says he will keep him around so long as he is able to work by his rules. Despite Bruce telling him he should get some sleep, Terry heads out to meet his girlfriend Dana at a club but he ends up falling asleep on his feet there. Meanwhile, the Jokerz return to their hideout at an abandoned Jolly Jack candy factory, where Chucko hands the memory card to their new boss, who says it is worthless. As their boss calls them losers, Bonk loses his temper and yells at him, saying he wants out. The boss, revealing himself to be the Joker, pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot Bonk, who quickly apologizes. When Joker pulls the trigger, a flag with the word “Bang” printed on it pops out and Bonk breathes a sigh of relief, until the Joker pulls the trigger again and the flag is propelled into Bonk’s chest, killing him. Joker then addresses the other Jokerz and after getting a renewed pledge of devotion to him, has Ghoul find another facility that has the equipment they need. When he picks one, Ghoul worries about the security there but Joker says that it will make things more fun. The next night, Bruce and Terry attend a function welcoming Bruce back to the company when the Joker’s laughter is suddenly heard through the speakers just before Woof appears and rushes the stage, avoiding Terry’s attack. Security is called in but they are taken out by Chucko and Ghoul, who then proceed to steal the scanner they were after. Bruce manages to knock Woof aside with his cane, then tells Terry to get to work while he tries to leave but the Dee Dees grab him and knock him back onto the stage, just as Joker appears. Bruce reacts in shock at seeing Joker, who tells Bruce that he is the real deal and he should know, inferring that Joker knows Bruce was Batman. Batman shows up but Joker has Woof deal with him and once he hears from Chucko and Ghoul that they are almost done, he calls for a retreat, detonating some explosives and sending some of the guest falling to the ground, forcing Batman to save them and allowing him to get away. As they are leaving, Terry tries to get some information from Bruce on the Joker, who refuses to tell him anything. The next day, Terry goes to see Barbara Gordon, the police commissioner, who refuses to go into details but tells him that the Joker was like nothing he had ever faced before and to let it drop, then dismisses him as she has an appointment coming in to speak with her. Back at the Batcave, Bruce is analyzing the Joker’s voice from last night with a previous recording from an old crime and the computer says that they match. Terry returns to the Batcave and asks Bruce why he never talked about the Joker, even though he mentioned all of his other criminals. When Bruce says it can’t be the real Joker because he saw him die, Terry asks if he killed him. Bruce doesn’t respond and instead, asks Terry to return the Batsuit, saying he had honored his father’s killers and gone above and beyond to protect the city but he no longer needs to do that. Terry argues that before becoming Batman he was the type of punk that Bruce wouldn’t have wasted a second punch on and this was his way of making amends for his past. When Bruce chastises him, Terry tosses his backpack with the suit inside at his feet and leaves. Later that night, Bruce is working on making some Joker antivenom when Ace hears something and, growling, heads upstairs only to quickly yelp in pain. As Bruce calls out to him, some gas pellets drop down the stairs and Joker appears and confronts Bruce. Meanwhile, Terry heads to a dance club, where Dana is out with some of her friends, and tells her that he no longer has a job so he can focus on her more, which she is happy to hear. Suddenly, the Dee Dees, without their make-up, approach Terry and Dana and separate Terry from Dana, allowing Ghoul to grab her. As Terry tries to find her, the Dee Dees attack him, with Chucko and Woof showing up as well. Dana tries to get away from Ghoul, who ends up shoving her off the raised platform they are on and Terry saves her from getting seriously hurt but she still falls unconscious. As the Jokerz continue trying to attack him, Terry leaves Dana with thier friend Chelsea and tells her to hide, then leads them away before knocking over a giant lava lamp, catching the Jokerz in the rush of falling liquid, then knocks out Chucko when he tries to shoot him. Heading back outside to check on Dana, who is being loaded into an ambulance, Terry tells Chelsea to stay with her, then he gets on his motorcycle and heads to Wayne Manor. As he is driving, Terry calls Bruce and starts to leave a message when he realizes Bruce should have picked up and quickens his pace. When he gets there, he sees the wounded Ace and the entrance to the Batcave broken open and heads down to find the Joker has covered the cave in graffiti. Seeing Bruce lying on the floor, he discovers that he has been infected with the Joker’s toxin but Bruce is able to tell Terry about the antivenom and he quickly grabs it and administers it to Bruce. Terry calls Barbara to help tend to Bruce, then forces her to tell him what happened to the Joker. Barbara tells him that their last encounter with the Joker happened after Dick Grayson had left to become Nightwing; leaving Bruce, herself, and Tim Drake, the new Robin, to patrol Gotham. One day, Robin was captured by Joker and Harley Quinn and for three weeks, Batman and Batgirl searched for him with no sign of him. When they received a package from Joker, they head to the old Arkham Asylum grounds and find Joker and Harley there. Batman approaches them, having Batgirl sneak up to a higher vantage point. Batman asks them about Robin but the feign ignorance, then comment about their “Little J”, and when Batman heads in the direction the indicated, Harley uses her bazooka to trap him. Joker then explains that they have been doing this game for years and he decided it was time to start a family but Harley didn’t want to deal with pregnancy so they simply borrowed one of his kids, then molded him in their own image. Joker then reveals that Tim has been turned into a mirror image of Joker and an enraged Batman breaks free from his bonds and goes after Joker. Batgirl swoops down and knocks Harley back, then tries to talk with Tim to see if he remembers her but Harley attacks her, then tells Tim to get her bazooka. Batgirl renews her attack on Harley, chasing her outside where the building is falling apart. As they argue over what they did to Tim, Tim shows up with the Bazooka and tosses it to Harley, who begins firing at Batgirl but she is able to knock it aside and a stray round causes both of them to fall. Batgirl manages to stop her fall and tries to pull Harley to safety but Harley’s costume rips and she ends up falling to the water below. Meanwhile, Batman continues chasing after Joker, who leads him to the theater room and shows him the video of how he tortured and changed Robin, revealing that in the process Robin told him all of his secrets. Batman smashes through the projection room and assaults Joker, and prepares to kill him but stops when he sees Tim watching them. Joker takes advantage of the distraction to slash Batman with his knife before stabbing him in the leg, then knocking him to the ground. Joker then tosses a gun to Tim and tells him to finish off Batman and, laughing maniacally, Tim pulls the trigger, making the flag come out, but as Joker yells at him to finish it, Tim points the gun at Joker before pulling the trigger again, sending the flag into Joker’s chest. Tim continues laughing before the laughter turns into sobs of pain and Batgirl rushes in and consoles him. Barbara then says that they buried Joker in Arkham, while there was no sign of Harley, and her father helped them hide the truth from everyone but after Tim was restored to sanity, Bruce forbade him from wearing the Robin costume again and Tim eventually left. He became a communications specialist and is now married and has children, which Barbara feels he deserves after what he went through. Terry decides to question Tim, who tells him that he had nothing to do with the Joker and he was just as surprised as anyone when he returned. Leaving Tim, Batman heads off to investigate Jordan Price, as he would also have reason for wanting Bruce out of the way. On his private yacht, Jordan is surprised to find the Jokerz waiting for him and he asks what they want, as he already gave them the codes they needed to rob Wayne Enterprises, and the Jokerz say that their boss wants them to tie up loose ends. Jordan tries to get away but Woof knocks him down and they handcuff him to a table, then contact the Joker. Joker tells them to get out of there and Batman, who had been recording their conversation, tries to stop them but they slip out and Batman moves to follow but notices the light suddenly shining onto the yacht. Freeing Jordan, he gets off the boat with him and heads to shore, just as a laser beam shoots out of the sky and destroys the yacht. Batman gets caught in the wave that formed from the explosion but is able to rescue Jordan and heads to shore, where he turns Jordan, as well as the audio recording of his working with the Jokerz, over to the police. Returning to the Batcave, Terry chastises himself for not being able to figure out where the Joker is when Bruce comes down to the cave. As they discuss Bruce’s reason for not wanting Terry to face off against the Joker, Terry notices that despite all of the cases being smashed, Robin’s costume is the only one that was destroyed. Telling Bruce that Tim might be somehow involved this, he shows him all of the equipment that the Jokerz stole and how someone with Tim’s knowledge can turn it into a satellite jamming system. Bruce accepts Terry’s logic and tells him to suit up and Terry says he needs to bring something with him, staring at Ace. Batman goes to see Tim at his lab but finds it is a hologram, just as the lab is sealed off. Joker appears on the monitor and says that Tim is working for him and explains what he has planned, then invites Batman to try and stop him. Terry manages to get out of the lab and contacts Bruce but Joker interrupts their conversation and uses the satellite to attack the Batmobile, first by firing single shots and then turning the laser into a solid beam of light. As he is laughing at Batman’s plight, Joker suddenly gets woozy and cuts off the transmission, and as the satellite stops firing, Batman heads towards Joker’s hideout. As he nears the Jolly Jack factory, Chucko shoots the Batmobile down but Batman steers it right at him and takes out the tower he was on, knocking him out. Woof appears ready to fight but Terry sends Ace out to deal with him, leaving him free to deal with Ghoul and the Dee Dees. Batman heads inside to find an unconscious Tim on the floor and when Batman questions him, Tim says he doesn’t know anything about the Joker but then suddenly recalls seeing him. Tim seems out of it at first but then tells Terry that he is ok and when Batman asks how he knew his name, Tim says he knows everything about him, then throws a trap at him that incapacitates his suit. Tim then addresses Bruce, as he is watching through the suits video feed, and begins laughing and suddenly transforms into the Joker, shocking Batman and Bruce. Joker explains that he had placed his consciousness onto a microchip and placed it on Tim’s body when he was his captive, intended as a back-up plan. At first, he had to limit the time he was able to take control of Tim’s body, who would always chalk it up to nightmares about the Joker, but over time he was able to take control at will. He then plans on using the satellite to take out Wayne Manor, as well as Terry’s home and the hospital that Dana is in, then taunts Terry and asks if he has any last words for Bruce. Batman says “Yeh, sic ’em”, and Ace leaps out from behind Joker and knocks him into some cables. Batman calls Ace to him, who is able to bite the clamp off of his suit, then rushes at the Joker but Joker uses his joy buzzer to stun Ace. Before Joker can finish him off, Batman tackles him and the joy buzzer slips off his hand and short circuits the satellite controls, sending the beam straight towards them. Saying his plan is ruined now, Joker plans on leaving and when Batman tries to stop him, Joker easily pummels him, saying that he knew everything about Batman and Robin in their prime and that Terry was out of his league. Batman asks Bruce for advise but realizing the difference in their styles, Terry starts fighting dirty and then begins mocking Joker, causing him to get enraged. Joker eventually starts throwing explosives at Batman and traps him under a table before starting to choke him but as he taunts Batman, Batman reveals that he had grabbed the joy buzzer and uses it to short out and destroy the microchip, ridding Tim of the Joker once and for all. Able to free himself, Batman helps Tim and Ace out of there just before the laser destroys the factory before shutting down. Some time later, the Dee Dees are released from jail into the custody of their grandmother, who is revealed to be Harley Quinn. Meanwhile, Terry stops by to check in on Tim, who thanks him for what he did and says Bruce couldn’t have chosen anyone better to wear the suit. As he is leaving, Terry encounters Bruce, who stops Terry and tells him that he was wrong about what he said earlier; the Batsuit doesn’t make him a better person, but rather he makes the Batman a better person. Bruce then heads inside Tim’s hospital room to reconcile with his former sidekick while Terry heads out and puts on the Batsuit to patrol the streets of Gotham.

I have to admit that this was a bit darker than I expected but still a fantastic movie to watch. The voice acting was great, with Kevin Conroy and Will Friedle doing great jobs reprising their roles of Bruce and Terry respectively. Mark Hammill was fantastic coming back as the Joker, while Dean Stockwell did a good job as the older Tim Drake. The story was good but surprisingly dark considering it was essentially a kids movie. I liked how they were able to tie in the past events with the future, while the reveal that Harley was the grandmother of the Dee Dees, who were essentially a new generation of Harley, was pretty funny. The initial DVD that I bought had some scenes changed from the uncut version that is on the Blu-Ray, mainly how Joker killed Bonk and Tim killed Joker. The scenes showing Robin being tortured were definitely a little hard to watch and definitely not something that would be suitable for kids. The animation was great and felt like a step up from the animation from the TV show, which was pretty good to begin with. I wouldn’t necessarily let young kids watch it but it is definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 9th, 2014 Movie – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

batman the dark knight returns

When it comes to comics in the modern era (80’s to present), Frank Miller’s name has to be up there with one of the greats. I mean, you have a pretty great run of issues in “Daredevil”, not to mention his original works of “Sin City” and “300”. However, my first introduction to Miller was brought on by a 4 part miniseries that he did way back in 1986; “The Dark Knight Returns”. While on vacation with my family, I had stopped in a bookstore (I know that my friends are shocked by this) and happened to see the trade collection on the shelf. Well I picked it up and started reading it, and kept reading it, and damn near walked out the store with it before my mom stopped me and paid for the book. Anyways, Several years ago, I saw that they were making this movie but were releasing it in two parts. Now I was definitely interested in watching this movie but I decided to wait and be patient, as I had a feeling that they would release a special edition that had both parts on one disk. Sure enough, they did and I immediately picked it up and then sat back to watch. So let’s enjoy some of Frank Miller’s best work with today’s movie, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

The plot: In Gotham, 55 year old Bruce Wayne is competing in a race when his crew chief feels he is being too reckless and activates the computer autopilot, only for Bruce to deactivate it. Bruce continues racing but his car malfunctions and ends up crashing and catching fire, but Bruce was able to get out at the last minute and only received some minor burns. Later that night, Bruce meets with James Gordon, who is celebrating his 70th birthday. As the two friends share a drink, they talk about how it has been 10 years since Bruce retired and Bruce seems to be considering what would happen if he came back but Gordon tells him it is a different time now, both with the government oversight as well as the criminals, such as the Mutants. Gordon asks if Bruce has talked to Harvey Dent yet, saying he could have been a shoulder to lean on after Jason died but Bruce decides to call it a night an leaves. As he walks home, he stops at the alley where his parents were killed and as he thinks back to them, he is confronted by two members of the Mutants that consider mugging him but when they notice Bruce actually looking forward to it, they change their mind and leave. That night, after failing to get any sleep, Bruce heads down to the Batcave and stares at Jason’s Robin costume in it’s shrine before Alfred comes down to check on him. At Arkham Asylum, Joker is shown to be in a catatonic state ever since Batman disappeared. Meanwhile, Harvey Dent has undergone successful plastic surgery to repair his damaged face, while his psychologist Dr. Wolper has worked on making him sane again but after giving a press conference where he announces he is fine, he suddenly disappears. That night, Bruce is watching television and as he sees the reports of crime on the rise, a voice in his head calls him weak and says the time has come. Later that night, Batman returns to Gotham and stops various crimes from occurring. When Gotham Bank is robbed, the police chase after a car filled with gunmen, ignoring a second car that drives off in the other direction. As the lead police car chases after the gunmen, they see Batman swinging across the sky and the elder cop slows down and allows Batman to handle the gunmen. Batman lands on the car and causes it to crash into an abandoned building, where he proceeds to take them down, though his age makes him slower than he used to be. The rookie cop attempts to arrest Batman but his partner tells him to go to the car while Batman searches one of the criminals, then tells the officer to have Gordon contact him. As the news reports talk about Batman’s reemergence, one of the gunmen’s lawyer argues that his client should be released and Gordon agrees and has him released that day. Gordon contacts Bruce to tell him and as the crook heads back to the gang’s hideout to see if Two-Face is there, he finds Batman waiting for him. The crook attempts to get away from Batman and ends up falling through the window and out onto the fire escape, and Batman points out that he is bleeding to death and he is the only one who can get him to a hospital in time so he had better start talking. Meanwhile, Gordon gets some information and he heads to the roof and turns on the Batsignal, both to contact Batman and to let people know he has returned. When Batman shows up, Gordon tells him that two military helicopters were stolen and they both figure Two-Face is behind it and try to figure out what he is up to. Batman figures out where Two-Face will strike and heads to the buildings the next night. When the two helicopters land, one on two separate buildings, Dent emerges from his helicopter, his face completely wrapped in bandages, and after hacking the television signal, threatens to detonate two bombs unless he is paid a ransom. Batman, who is on the roof where the other helicopter landed, takes out the men guarding it only to discover that the bombs are already activated, and he realizes that Dent wants to kill himself and take as many people with him. Batman disarms the first bomb, then uses a grapple gun to head to the other roof  but Dent gets back in the helicopter with the bomb and shoots at him, knocking him off the line. Batman fires another grapple at the helicopter, knocking Dent out of the helicopter and Batman catches him as they crash into the building, leaving the helicopter to fly off with the bomb, where it explodes harmlessly. Dent and Batman briefly struggle before Batman is able to unmask him and sees that Dent has not reinjured his face, but rather his mind is unable to deal with having his face whole and he feels that both sides are now scarred. As public opinion continues to vary on Batman’s return, Gordon is heading home when a member of the Mutants tries to shoot him at the liquor store, only for Gordon to shoot him instead. Meanwhile, a young girl named Carrie Kelley, whom Batman had rescued during his first night back, buys a Robin costume and heads out into the city, attempting to do her own part to stopping crime. Batman confronts an Army General for selling weapons to the mutants and then decides to head out there in a heavily armored version of the Batmobile. In the city junkyard, the Mutant’s leader is rallying the Mutants to attack the police and take control of the city when Batman shows up and orders them to surrender. The Mutants attack the Batmobile but Batman is able to take them out, with Carrie helping him out unbeknownst to him. When the last of the Mutants is dealt with, the leader challenges Batman to face him man to man and, despite Alfred warning against it, Batman accepts. Batman and the Mutant leader start fighting and Batman gets the early advantage but the Mutant leader is able to take advantage of Batman’s slower movements and easily defeats him. As he goes to kill him, Carrie attacks him, distracting him long enough for Batman to use his a resin to choke the Mutant leader into unconsciousness. Carrie races to make sure that Batman is still alive, then helps him get into the Batmobile. As Alfred remotely steers the Batmobile, Carrie works on putting a splint on Batman’s injured arm, and Batman asks what her name is, then tells Alfred to take him to the cave and that Robin is coming with them. When they get there, Batman walks off into the cave, discarding his suit as he does, and Alfred tells Carrie that he is going to find his strength. As Batman recovers, the public is still mixed on Batman’s return. The mayor has announced that Ellen Yindel will replace Gordon as Police Commissioner when Gordon retires. The mayor also plans to meet with the Mutant leader, who has been captured along with many other members of the Mutants after Batman’s assault, but when he meets with the Mutant leader in his cell, the Mutant leader kills him. Back at the Batcave, Batman places a brace on his injured arm and as he gears up to fight the Mutant leader again, Alfred argues with him about bringing Carrie on as the new Robin but Batman says she is perfect. Batman then has Carrie disguise herself as a Mutant and takes her into the city, where she spreads the word among the other Mutants to meet at “The Pipe”. Meanwhile, Yindel meets with Gordon and the two discuss why he allowed Batman to run free as long as he did. As the Mutants gather there, Batman speaks with Gordon and tells him he needs one last favor from him. Gordon heads down to the cells and relieves the guards, then leaves the room. The Mutant leader’s cell suddenly opens and as he steps outside, his attention is drawn to the open sewer grate on the floor. The Mutant leader heads through the sewers to escape the jail, eventually coming to the exit pipe where Batman has had all of the Mutants gathered, and where Batman is waiting for him. Batman tackles the leader from behind and knocks him out of the pipe and into the mud pool below them, where he faces off against him. The Mutant leader fights back, but this time Batman doesn’t try to match strength with the younger and stronger fighter, but uses his martial art’s skills to incapacitate him, eventually breaking the bones in his limbs and completely beating him. The Mutants, seeing their leader completely broken, end up falling apart, with half of them being captured by the police while the other half breaking up into smaller gangs, the most prominent of them being a gang called the Sons of Batman, who have taken to wearing Batman’s symbol on their face. Gordon calls Bruce and tells him his plan worked in dealing with the Mutants but he is on his own from now on and after he hangs up, he finishes packing up his things from his office and leaves police headquarters. Meanwhile, the constant news reports about television have registered in the catatonic Joker, and he snaps out of his coma excited to find his old playmate has returned. 3 months later, Dr. Wolper has been working with the Joker since he came out of his catatonic state and as Joker comments about seeing Wolper on TV and how it must be nice to tell his side of things, Wolper says he might be able to get Joker on TV to share his story. As news breaks about Joker’s televised interview, the story switches to the White House and their lack of a clear response regarding Batman’s activities. Inside the White House, the President speaks with Superman and asks him to try and deal with Batman and get him to settle down and Superman says he will try. That night, a disguised Batman tangles with Bruno, a former lover of Joker, and tries to get information from her about Joker’s plans but they are interrupted by the appearance of Superman, who quickly traps Bruno and tells Batman he wants to talk but Batman says they can talk in the morning but for now stay out of Gotham. As the news talks about the growing tensions between America and the Soviet Union over the situation about control over the island of Corto Maltese, Yindel is officially made the new commissioner and her first order of business is to issue an arrest warrant for Batman. Meanwhile, Bruce and Clark are talking about Batman’s return upsetting the wrong people and Clark warns him that if he doesn’t go back into retirement, he might be ordered to take him down. Bruce says if that happens then may the best man win when Clark suddenly says he has to go and rushes off. Breaking news says that U.S. and Soviet forces have begun fighting in Corto Maltese and Superman has gone there to aid the American soldiers and prevent innocent people from being hurt in the crossfire. Meanwhile, one of Joker’s minions visits him at Arkham and hands him some special lipstick that he asked for as well as some nose plugs. As the show is about to go on, Yindel has the police outside the studio building, waiting to capture Batman if he shows up as well as Joker if he tries anything. As the show starts, Batman notices the police presence and has Robin wait in the Batcopter while he heads down there, getting in a fight with the cops when Yindel orders them to arrest him. Meanwhile, Joker’s henchman sends two robotic dolls to go help Joker and as Joker kills Dr. Wolper, the dolls enter the studio and begin releasing Joker’s smile gas into the air, killing everyone else. On the roof, Batman is starting to get overwhelmed and Robin brings the Batcopter in close to help Batman escape, telling him that Joker is gone after killing everyone. Meanwhile, the battle continues raging in Corto Maltese and Superman continues using his powers to destroy the Soviet forces. In Gotham, Joker pays a visit to Selina Kyle, who runs an escort service, and uses his mind control lipstick on her to summon one of her girls who has a congressman as a regular customer. The escort uses Joker’s lipstick to brainwash the congressman and have him go out on the ledge ranting about firing nukes at the Soviet Union but when the police try to get him inside, he ends up falling to his death. Yindel and her men show up and Batman, disguised as a cop, asks her if he can help. She tells him about the escort and tells the disguised Batman to bring Selina in but as he leaves, the real police officer shows up and Yindel, realizing she was fooled, tries to have Batman arrested. Batman and Robin head to Selina’s business and find Selina tied up and gagged and when he frees her, she warns Batman that Joker is worse than ever now. Robin notices some cotton candy on the floor and Batman realizes that Joker is going after the fairgrounds, causing Robin to get scared as many of her friends will be there. The police show up but Batman and Robin jump out the window and grab onto the Batwing glider. Yindel and her men fire on the glider and manage to break Robin’s harness as she is putting it on, causing her to fall but she manages to grab onto Batman’s cape and he pulls her back up and holds her to keep her safe. At the fair, Joker and his henchman are passing out cotton candy to some kids when they see Batman approaching. Joker sends one of the robot dolls to blow up the Batwing glider, then tells his henchman and the other doll to deal with Robin while he handles Batman. Batman faces off against Joker, who attempts to shoot him and has no qualms hitting innocent bystanders in the process. When he takes one of Robin’s friends hostage, Batman throws some batarangs at him, with one of them lodging in his eye, then chases Joker inside the Hall of Mirrors. Joker grabs another kid to use as a hostage but Batman is able to save the kid but gets shot in the process. As Joker goes to finish Batman off, he finds himself out of bullets and leaves the Hall of Mirrors. Meanwhile, the second doll arms it’s explosives and sits on the roller coaster tracks to blow up the oncoming train. Robin uses her slingshot to knock it off the tracks, causing it to explode harmlessly in the sky, but she is attacked by Joker’s henchman. As the henchman tries to strangle her, she lashes out and manages to kick him off of her, and he ends up getting caught in the chain for the roller coaster and killed when his head gets caught up in the gears. Elsewhere, Joker kills a security guard and grabs his gun, then makes his way into the Tunnel of Love, killing anyone he comes across. Batman chases after him and continues fighting him, with and Joker manages to repeatedly stab Batman before he twists Joker’s neck; not killing him but effectively paralyzing him. As Joker taunts him for crossing the line, he says that he wins for finally breaking him and the police will hunt him down for it, then starts laughing maniacally as he twists his neck sharply, breaking his own neck and killing him. Batman blacks out from loss of blood but comes to as the police enter the cave and begin looking for Batman and Joker. When they find Joker’s body, one of the police touches it, igniting a booby trap the Joker had on him and igniting his body on fire with napalm. Batman uses the distraction to try and deal with the police, then grabs Yindel’s gun after knocking her out and tries to shoot some plastique he had set up to make an escape route. He eventually succeeds, and Robin brings the Batcopter in to pick him up, firing on the police cars to discourage their shooting at them before using some rope to snag Batman and fly off with him. As Alfred works on tending to Bruce’s injuries, the new mayor says he asked the governor to bring in the state police to help find and capture Batman. Meanwhile, the news reports go to a live announcement from the President, where he tells America that the Soviets have been driven out of Corto Maltese but in an act of retaliation, they fired a nuclear missile at the island country. Superman intercepts the missile and manages to divert it’s course away from the island and up into the upper atmosphere, where it and explodes and unleashes an EMP that knocks out the power in Gotham, while leaving Superman extremely weak. As the people in Gotham react to the blackout, Batman regains consciousness and figures out what happened, then heads out with Robin on horseback to help reign in the chaos that is sure to hit Gotham. Batman and Robin head to where the Sons of Batman have gathered, and convince them to follow his lead in restoring order to Gotham. As the police find themselves helpless due to the blackout, the Mutants break out of their cells and hit the streets, where they encounter a mob of people who were looting a store. As the two groups begin fighting, Batman and his new army show up and quickly incapacitate all of the people involved. Batman then speaks to everyone, telling them that they can either help restore order to Gotham or stay tied up and most of them choose to follow his lead and help out. Looking down from police headquarters, one of the cops asks Yindel what they should do about him and Yindel says nothing, as he has grown too big for them to deal with. Meanwhile, Gordon had been out shopping when the blackout occurred and he convinces the people in his neighborhood to stop fighting with each other and help out or else their homes will be destroyed by fire. They manage to put out some fires just as the fire department shows up to help but when Gordon notices some more fires over by his home, he rushes there thinking his wife Sara will be dead but she had managed to get out in time and the two embrace. As the U.S. continues dealing with the nuclear winter and lack of power from the explosion, many major cities along the Eastern Seaboard have descended into chaos and the President orders martial law enacted but with little success. Gotham however is the only major city that has not descended into chaos, due to Batman’s efforts in keeping the peace, and it has become a publicity nightmare for the government. Superman is talking with the President, who asks how he is feeling, and Superman admits he hasn’t fully recovered but the President says he knows he will get better and asks that he take care of the problem they discussed and Superman says that Batman won’t let himself be taken and the President says to do what he must. Meanwhile, Oliver Queen pays a visit to Bruce and says that he always knew that things would come to a head between him and Superman and he wants to be a part of the action, wanting a little bit of payback on Superman for the loss of his arm. The next day, as Bruce is helping Carrie with her horseback lessons, a beam of energy burns down from the sky, spelling out “Where?” in the ground. Bruce looks up and says “Crime Alley”, then heads inside to begin making preparations. With Alfred helping him with a armored suit to help keep him alive while also increasing his strength and durability, Batman takes a pill, then gives himself a one hour countdown. The military evacuate Crime Alley and initiate a media blackout of the area. Batman heads to Crime Alley, as the military try to keep tabs on him and when Superman shows up and uses his x-ray vision to search for him, a series of missiles programmed to target sources of x-rays fire and strike him. As the weakened Superman drops to the ground, Robin attacks him in the Batmobile but Superman is able to knock it away. Batman reveals himself and as Superman approaches him, he uses a sonic gun, then the city’s power grid to attack him. Meanwhile, Alfred activates the self destruct in the Batcave, and as he looks over the photobooks of Bruce as a baby, he has some mild chest pains but places the book back on the shelf, then leaves the house. Back in the city, Batman and Superman continue fighting while the soldiers approach the downed Batmobile, but Robin is able to get it started and drives off, with the military chasing after her. As she drives, a pre-recorded message from Bruce starts playing, telling her that Clark should be too busy to hear this and explains the plan to her. Meanwhile, Oliver shows up and at Batman’s signal, fires a kryptonite-laced arrow at Superman, then escapes with Robin in the Batmobile. As Superman collapses from the kryptonite dust covering him, Batman approaches him and tells him that he will live, as the Kryptonite will be clear of his system in a few minutes, but he wanted him to know that he was the man that beat him. As he finishes speaking, Bruce collapses dead from a heart attack while Alfred also dies of a stroke as Wayne Manor burns down. Later, the news reports about Bruce Wayne being Batman and how all of his secrets, as well as his financial holdings and accounts, seemed to have disappeared with him. At Bruce’s funeral, Clark attends and is yelled at by Selina, who knows who he is and blames him for Bruce’s death, but Gordon leads her away. As Clark walks away, he suddenly stops as he hears a faint heartbeat coming from the casket and as he turns and stares at the lone mourner still there, a second heartbeat is heard. Clark, realizing what had happened, smiles and winks at Robin, who it the mourner, and leaves. Some time later, Oliver leads a band of former Mutants and Sons of Batman into some caves and as they get things situated, Bruce and Robin join them. Bruce, having faked his death in order to get the government off of his back, explains to the assembled gang that he will be teaching them all of his secrets and methods and they will be his army in order to keep Gotham safe. As the gang goes to carry out his orders, Oliver approaches him and asks about Superman figuring things out but Bruce tells him that as long as they keep quiet, Superman won’t bother them, then goes to oversee his new army’s progress.

The only thing I can really say about this movie is that it is fantastic. This is probably one of the best, if not the best, animated Batman movies to come out. The voice acting was great, with Peter Weller doing a phenomenal job portraying the aged caped crusader. I thought that Ariel Winter was also great as Carrie/Robin, while David Selby (Gordon), Michael Emerson (Joker), Wade Williams (Dent), Mark Valley (Superman) were equally good in their roles. The story was spot on, not deviating from the comic very much except for one or two minor aspects. The fight between Batman and Superman in this movie was the fight comic fans were hoping to get in Batman V Superman, which failed to deliver any of the emotion that was felt in this fight. The animation was great and the more angular and squarish designs of some of the characters really helped showcase the darker look and aspect of the city in this future version. The music was incredible and actually helped carry the emotions that were written into the story, especially towards the end as it started to become apparent that this was going to be Batman’s last battle. A fantastic movie and definitely worth waiting for the deluxe edition so I didn’t have to switch disks in order to watch the whole thing.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 8th, 2014 Movie – Batman: Under The Red Hood

batman under the red hood

The 80’s was an interesting time in the Batman universe. Dick Grayson, the original Robin, had grown up and began leading the Teen Titans, eventually changing costumes and becoming Nightwing. Eventually, Batman would find himself a new sidekick, Jason Todd. However, while Dick Grayson was loved by just about everyone, a lot of people didn’t think too fondly of him. In fact, DC gave their fans the opportunity to decide on if he lived or died and though it was close, the fans voted for him to be killed off. This death would have a rather profound effect on Batman for years to come, almost as big an impact as the death of his parents. However, there is one constant when it comes to death in the comics; and that is that Uncle Ben is the only person that can stay dead. Thus, Jason Todd would eventually come back to life in the comics in 2004 and 6 years later, an animated movie was made based off of that story line. I first saw this movie on Netflix several years ago and I immediately decided to grab a copy on DVD so I could enjoy watching Batman: Under The Red Hood whenever I wanted.

The plot: In his hideout, Ra’s al Ghul says he regrets hiring the Joker to distract Batman when he learns that Joker has kidnapped Robin (Jason Todd) and Batman won’t reach him in time. In Sarajevo, Joker has Robin tied up and beats him mercilessly with a crowbar before leaving him to die in an explosion. Batman races through the streets of Sarajevo towards Robin’s location but is too late as he gets there just as the building explodes. 5 years later, 8 crime bosses are gathered for a meeting and as they argue over who set it up, they are confronted by a man wearing a red hooded helmet. The Red Hood, tells them that they will start kicking up 40% of their profits to him in exchange for protection from both Black Mask (the reigning main crime boss in Gotham) and Batman but warns them not to deal any drugs around schoolyards or to kids. When they ask why they should do that, he drops down a duffel bag containing the heads of their lieutenants, claiming to have done that in two hours, then leaves. Elsewhere, Batman is stopping some men from stealing some cargo but as he restrains them, the cargo activates, revealing itself to be Amazo, the super powered android that can copy the powers of other meta-humans. As Batman faces off against him, he is joined by Nightwing and together they are able to destroy Amazo. Afterwards, they go to question the crooks who say they work for the Red Hood but before they can say anything else, they are killed by the Red Hood. Batman chases after him, eventually tracking him to a factory where he confronted a previous criminal called the Red Hood and he had fallen into a vat of chemicals, transforming him into the Joker. As Batman stares at the chemicals, the Red Hood comments about this being the site of his greatest failure but it wasn’t his last, then he shoots at his crashed car, which ignites the chemicals and causes an explosion, covering his escape. Back at the Batcave, Nightwing was able to get a picture of the Red Hood and they comment about the previous criminals who used that name, then Batman decides to head to Arkham Asylum to question Joker. When they get there, Joker taunts both of them and says Nightwing is no more fun since he grew up and stopped being Robin, then taunts Batman some more over Jason’s death. Batman loses his temper and grabs Joker by the throat and he asks if he is really going to kill him this time or just put him in a body cast again and Batman drops him and they eventually leave. Meanwhile, Black Mask is yelling at his men for allowing Amazo to be stolen by the Red Hood and then destroyed by Batman. He then discusses their next arms shipment, unaware that Batman and Nightwing are listening in, as well as Red Hood. That night, Red Hood attempts to steal the helicopter with the next shipment of weapons when Batman and Nightwing show up to stop him. When they disable the helicopter, Red Hood maneuvers it to crash over the city, forcing Batman and Nightwing to stop it from hurting the people below, then they chase after him. Red Hood manages to elude them, even severing Batman’s grapple when he tries to ensnare him, and as they follow him to the train station, he uses a bomb to slow them down, injuring Nightwing in the process. As Batman and Nightwing recover from the blast, the Red Hood makes a comment to Batman but it is drowned out by sound of an oncoming train. Returning to the Batcave, Alfred tends to Nightwing’s injuries while Batman replays video he recorded of their encounter with the Red Hood. After sending Nightwing home to recover, Batman replays the audio and after removing the noise from the train, hears Red Hood call him Bruce, revealing he knows his identity. Shocked, Batman thinks back to Jason’s training as Robin and how he became more violent when he got older and he realizes that the Red Hood might be Jason somehow. Meanwhile, Black Mask is angered over another arms shipment destroyed and he orders his men to shake down the crime bosses working for Red Hood in order to force him out of hiding so he can have him killed. His men succeed and when Red Hood confronts Black Mask’s men, he is attacked by 4 cybernetic ninjas. He fends them off for a while until Batman shows up and helps him defeat them. When Red Hood kills one of the ninjas, Batman argues with him about his methods but Red Hood says he is doing a better job cleaning up the city than he ever did before leaving. Batman takes the sword one of the ninjas had cut Red Hood with and takes it back to the Batcave to analyze the blood, which confirms that Red Hood is Jason and as he stares at the screen, he hears a noise and turns to find a shocked Alfred had dropped the tray he was carrying when he saw the results on the screen. Meanwhile, after hearing of the latest failure to kill Red Hood, Black Mask is forced to break Joker out of Arkham and works out a deal with him to deal with Red Hood. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce digs up Jason’s grave and discovers the body in his coffin is a fake. Chastising himself for being careless and not checking the body when he brought it back, Batman head out to confront Ra’s al Ghul, knowing he was involved in Jason’s return. When he gets to Ra’s’s home, he confronts him and Ra’s admits that when he hired the Joker to distract Batman while he tried to topple Europe’s financial markets, he underestimated Joker’s madness and never intended for Robin to be killed. He figured Bruce would be too grief stricken to perform an autopsy and was able to replace the body with a fake. He intended to use the Lazarus Pit to restore Jason to life and send him back to Bruce but something went wrong and Jason returned deranged and had escaped his lair. Batman leaves Ra’s’s lair and as he is flying back to Gotham, Alfred alerts him to a situation on the bridge. Joker has the crime bosses that work for Red Hood, as well as Black Mask and his assistant, tied up in a truck and is pouring gasoline on them. As he goes to set them on fire, Red Hood shows up and reveals that he had antagonized Black Mask in the hopes he would break Joker out of Arkham, as he wanted to confront him face to face. Annoyed that the joke was on him, Joker goes ahead and lights the gasoline but Batman appears and douses the flames, then goes to capture the Joker but Red Hood grabs him and severs the cable, sending them both into the water below. As Batman searches for them, he receives a message from the Red Hood saying to meet him in Crime Alley. Red Hood takes Joker to am abandoned building and begins to pummel him with a crowbar, much like Joker did to him before he killed him. When Batman arrives in Crime Alley, he thinks back to his first encounter with Jason, where a young Jason had stolen the tires off of the Batmobile. Red Hood appears and the two begin fighting, with Jason eventually taking off the hood and revealing he is wearing Robin’s mask underneath. The two continue to fight until the reach the house, where Jason says that he forgives Bruce for not saving him but wants to know why he didn’t kill Joker afterwards. Joker, realizing who the Red Hood is, starts laughing and tells Batman that Robin has a point and as Jason and Batman argue over the matter until Jason throws a gun at Batman, telling him that the only way to stop him from killing Joker is to kill him. Batman drops the gun and walks away, and Jason fires at him but Batman dodges the bullet, then throws a Batarang at Jason’s gun, blocking the barrel and causing a misfire when he tries shooting again. Wounded, Jason activates some explosives he planted and Batman goes to disarm them but Joker stops him, wanting them all to blow up together. Batman knocks Joker out, the grabs Jason to try and save them as the bombs go off. When the dust settles, Batman finds Joker trapped underneath some rubble but there is no sign of Jason anywhere. As the news reports talk about the aftermath of the events, Alfred asks if he should remove Jason’s costume from where it is kept but Bruce says no, that the current situation doesn’t change anything. As he leaves to go on patrol, a flashback is shown of Batman and Alfred watching as Jason dons the Robin costume for the first time and how excited he was wearing it.

This was a great movie to watch and probably one of my favorite Batman movies out there. The voice acting was really good, with Bruce Greenwood doing a good job as Batman while Jensen Ackles was great as Red Hood. I also liked John DiMaggio, Jason Isaacs, and Neil Patrick Harris as Joker, Ra’s al Ghul, and Nightwing respectively. The story was good and did a good job of briefly recapping what happened in the past that set up the present events. I liked the brief inclusion of Nightwing in the movie to kind of showcase the differences between Dick and Jason, primarily in their character as they got older. I also liked the way they had the Joker portrayed, as they didn’t make him overly crazed but he simply had that mad unpredictability that made him really interesting. The animation was pretty good and the action scenes were well drawn while not taking away from any of the drama that was written into the scenes. Definitely not for little kids but a very well made movie that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 7th, 2014 Movie – Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman

batman mystery of the batwoman

In 2003, DC still had a pretty strong presence on television. Batman: The Animated Series, Superman and Batman Beyond had all concluded their runs, while Teen Titans, Static Shock, Justice League, and a new Batman cartoon were going strong. Around this time, a new movie would come about, showing that DC wasn’t just content to have their characters on TV. I remember seeing the commercials for the movie and thought it was interesting so I rented it and watched it. I thought it was entertaining but didn’t consider buying it at the time. A couple of years ago, when I started buying some of the DC animated movies, I remembered this movie and made sure to pick up a copy of today’s movie, Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman.

The plot: Some crooks are attempting to smuggle some guns through Gotham when they see shadow of a bat overhead but instead of Batman, it is a woman dressed as Batman and flying on a bat-shaped glider. Batwoman lands on the truck carrying the guns and begins destroying the crates, taking out the crooks escort car in the process. The crook riding shotgun climbs back onto the trailer and begins fighting with Batwoman, but she manages to toss him off the truck and into the water below. Batman and Robin (Tim Drake) are alerted to the commotion and as they fly there in the Batwing, they see Batwoman grab one of the guns and get back on her glider, then fires at the truck, separating the trailer from the cab and sending the cab plunging off the overpass to the city below. Batman is able to use the Batwing to stop the cab from crashing and Batwoman flies towards him and stares at him through the cockpit before flying off. The next day, Rupert Thorne and Carlton Duquesne (pronounced Du-Kane) meet with Penguin, who is the third party in their arms consortium. Penguin wants to know how Batwoman found out about the shipment, saying that their international buyers will want their money back if they don’t deliver the guns. He tasks Duquesne, who was brought on as their “muscle”, to deal with Batwoman. Later that day, Duquesne is on the phone with his men telling them to find out who Batwoman is and deal with her when his daughter Kathy comes home from shopping and he chastises her for leaving without telling him where she was going, then continues his phone call. Meanwhile, Bruce is also trying to figure out who Batwoman could be and as the news reports discuss the new vigilante, Barbara Gordon calls Bruce and jealously asks if he had replaced her but Bruce quickly makes an excuse to leave before hanging up the phone. Later, Bruce is attending a meeting where one of his researchers, Roxanne “Rocky” Ballantine, is showing a programmable and adaptable metal that she invented. Bruce takes Rocky out to dinner to discuss the metal and it’s applications further when they see the Batsignal in the sky and Bruce cuts the dinner short. On top of police headquarters, Batman finds Gordon, Detective Harvey Bullock, and his new partner Sonia Alcana waiting for him with some of the remains from the destroyed arms shipment. As they discuss the weapons, Bullock says the driver isn’t talking but Batman grabs the keys that he is tossing in the air and stares at them, then hands them back and tells Gordon he will be in touch before leaving. Later, Batman and Robin head to the shop that Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne own and as they approach the building, they hear a muffled explosion coming from within. Inside the building, Batwoman is dealing with some of the crooks guarding the place when Batman and Robin drop in and help her. As they are fighting, Batwoman warns them about the charge she placed in the lower level where the arms are being made and they quickly leave before the building explodes. Batwoman explains about the weapons being made and goes to leave when Batman tries to stop her but she quickly attacks him in order to get away on her glider. Batman uses a grapple to snag the glider and follow after her but she uses a batarang to cut the line. Batman uses another grapple to keep from falling and, using some binoculars, sees Batwoman heading towards Duquesne’s penthouse. When Batman gets there, he hears Duquesne yelling on the phone after hearing about what happened at the plant and when Batman has a confrontation with his bodyguards, he yells at him to get away from his home and family, as Kathy looks down from her window. Bruce, suspecting Kathy of being Batwoman, decides to follow her as she goes shopping and then decides to get a closer look. As he is keeping tabs on her, Kathy manages to slip away form her bodyguards, then asks Bruce to help her get out of the store. Bruce does so and they manage to drive off in her car and Kathy takes her to her favorite spot; a place on the cliffs that she used to go to with her mom before she was killed. Bruce ends up getting close to Kathy and they start to kiss when her bodyguards show up and she reluctantly heads off with them. Later that night, Batman meets with Gordon, Bullock, and Sonia and tells them he suspects Kathy Duquesne of being the Batwoman, and Gordon says that he will put a tail on her. Meanwhile, Penguin and Thorne are discussing Duquesne’s inability to protect the shipment and Penguin decides to bring in someone else to stop Batwoman. When they discover Batwoman in Penguin’s office, she is able to get away and Thorne agrees to Penguin’s plan. Later the next day, Bruce is at the office talking with Rocky when Kathy shows up, inviting him to dinner and Bruce accepts, knowing that the police will be watching them. They end up heading to Penguin’s lounge and Bruce asks her what she is playing at, causing Kathy to walk off. Meanwhile, Batwoman confronts Penguin in his office but his bodyguards show up and begin fighting with her. As Penguin joins the fight, Batman shows up to save her but as Batwoman gets away, Batman notices Kathy watching from the crowd. As Bruce takes Kathy home that night, she apologizes for the evening and he apologizes for misjudging her but the bodyguards interrupt them before they can kiss. Later, Batman meets with Sonia and hands her a fragment of the alloy Batwoman used to restrain Penguin and as he goes to leave, she comments that he had saved her life once when her parent’s building caught fire and Batman says he remembers the men being linked to Thorne but nobody could prove it. Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne meet with Bane, who Penguin had brought in to deal with Batwoman and Bane tells them he wants complete control to deal with Batwoman as he sees fit, unaware that Batwoman had snuck in and was listening to their plan. Back at the Batcave, Batman is trying to figure out who really is Batwoman, as both Kathy and Rocky have alibis for when she had appeared. Having Robin try to find any connection between the two, Batman heads to Duquesne’s place to see if he can find some information and finds the connection in Kathy’s sketchbook. Meanwhile, Batwoman returns to her lair and it is revealed that Kathy and Rocky were both Batwoman, as well as Sonia, as all three had reasons to take down the three crime bosses. Sonia explains what the criminals are planning and Kathy goes to blow up the ship smuggling the weapons but ends up getting caught by Bane. As Sonia watches from the police HQ roof, Batman confronts her about the connection between her, Kathy, and Rocky, and asks where Kathy is, just as Rocky contacts her and says she can’t reach Kathy. On the ship, Bane had contacted Penguin and when he, Thorne, and Duquesne arrive on the ship, Bane reveals Batwoman to be Kathy, which shocks her father. Penguin says he knows that she isn’t working alone and moves to torture her and when Duquesne tries to stop him, Bane grabs him and threatens to break his neck. Batman shows up and stops Bane, then rescues Kathy but as they are making their way off the ship, she sets the bomb, intending on making sure things end there. Bane captures Duquesne and uses him as bait to trap Batman and Kathy so he can kill them. Meanwhile, Penguin and Thorne attempt to escape but Sonia and Rocky show up to try and stop them just as the bomb goes off. Sonia and Rocky are knocked from the gliders and Sonia is knocked out but Rocky manages to keep her afloat only to see Penguin and Thorne bearing down on them. Robin, in the Batboat, saves them and as he helps Sonia onto the boat, Rocky goes after Penguin and Thorne and manages to stop them. Back on the ship, Kathy was thrown off the top decks of the ship and as she is suspended over the burning lower decks, Duquesne saves her and they make their way off the ship. Meanwhile, Bane and Batman continue fighting, with Bane using his Venom supplies to increase his strength. Batman uses Rocky’s restraining alloy to try and stop him and succeeds in severing the tubes for the venom. Bane is able to break free from the alloy but Batman, seeing the ship about to crash into the bridge, uses his grapple to climb up the underside of the bridge away from the ship as the ship hits the bridge, destroying the top portions of the ship and sending Bane falling into the fires below. Sonia, having recovered, uses her glider to fly up and rescue Batman, then drops him off on the police boat, revealing to Gordon and Bullock that she is Batwoman. Some time later, Sonia is shown to have been fired from the police force, as Gordon can condone vigilantism but can’t employ one. Batman stops by as she is cleaning out her desk and gives her the evidence that Rocky needs to free her fiance Kevin, who was framed by the Penguin for a crime. Later, Rocky and Kathy are talking outside the prison, as Kathy was there to visit her father while Rocky is waiting for Kevin to be released. As Rocky hugs Kevin, Kathy leaves them only to find Bruce waiting for outside. When she asks why he is there, Bruce, who had grown to have feelings for her, says that he missed her and the excitement her life provided and the two drive off together.

This was a pretty good movie and of the three early standalone Batman movies, I would probably place this in the middle as far as which one I liked best. The voice acting was pretty good and the cast from the show that returned to reprise their characters did a good job. The story was pretty interesting and I loved the somewhat Hitchcock motif involved with the identity of the Batwoman. The misdirection involved really felt inspired by Strangers On A Train, where each woman had their own reason for working together on taking out the crime bosses, and were constantly switching which one was wearing the costume so that it would throw suspicion off of the others. The animation mirrored that found in the later episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, which was ok but I felt wasn’t as good as the original animation style and design. It’s a solid animated movie and one that is well worth giving a watch if you get the chance.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 6th, 2014 Movie – Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero

batman & mr freeze subzero

1998 was some fun times for me. Nerf Wars, invading a friends house and ambushing him when he got home, having all my friends work with me at Dairy Queen and all the antics we had there. One of the things we used to do all the time was gather at one friend or another’s house and watch movies TV, especially during the summer. One day, we decided to watch this movie, as two of my friends are huge Batman fans, and besides, who doesn’t like watching a cartoon movie. Anyways, years later, when I decided to go out and get some of the animated Batman movies on DVD, I made sure to pick up a copy of today’s movie, Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero, so I can enjoy both the movie and the memories it invokes.

The plot: Mr. Freeze, after his last encounter with Batman, has escaped up to the Arctic and made a new home for himself; living there with his cyogenically frozen wife Nora, Koonak (an Inuit boy that he has adopted), and Hotchka and Shaka, two polar bears he has trained. After diving into the water with Hotchka and Shaka to get some fish for dinner, Freeze heads to the portion of his lair where his wife’s containment unit stands and stares at her, with Koonak joining him. Suddenly, a submarine surfaces through the floor of the lair, causing Nora’s containment unit to break open while Freeze is buried in the ice. Unaware of what has happened, a research team emerges from the sub and heads out into the ice and when they return, they find the sub and the entire crew completely frozen, just before they end up frozen themselves. Some time later, in Gotham, Batman and Robin manage to capture a pair of jewel thieves before Alfred picks them up so they can attend a charity fundraiser as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. While there, they run into Commissioner Gordon, who teases Dick about his relationship with his daughter Barbara, unaware that at that moment, Barbara, as Batgirl, is stopping some would-be rapists. When Barbara finally arrives at the party, Dick sees her and invites her out to the dance floor. Meanwhile, Dr. Gregory Belson is at the party and talks to his stockbroker, who had warned him about trading on the futures market and says he can’t help him now that he is almost financially ruined. Belson leaves the fundraiser but as he is leaving, the road and area are suddenly covered in snow and ice, causing him to lose control of his car. As he recovers from the wreck, he is approached by Freeze, who was an old colleague of his, and Freeze forces him to come with him. Some time later, Bruce leaves the party only to have his car stall in a massive puddle of water, next to Belson’s abandoned car. Meanwhile, Dick and Barbara head out onto the balcony to talk and Dick invites her out to attend a Jazz festival for the weekend, which Barbara accepts. Elsewhere, Belson examines Nora’s body and tells Freeze that she only has a few weeks to live due to the broken containment unit and the only way to save her life now is with a heart transplant. They head to the hospital but when there is no available organ, due to Nora’s rare blood type, Freeze tells him to find a live donor and they choose Barbara Gordon off of the list. Belson calls Barbara’s dorm room, saying there is an emergency, and her roommate tells him that she is at a restaurant before going out of town. Freeze and his two polar bears show up at the restaurant looking for Barbara, who surrenders so nobody gets hurt. Dick tries to stop Freeze but Freeze is able to get away with Barbara and Dick grabs a motorcycle and chases after them but Freeze uses his cold gun to cause Dick to wreck. Dick calls Bruce and Gordon, who meet him at the hospital where his injuries are being tended too. As Gordon organizes a search for Freeze and Barbara, Bruce waits until the nurse leaves to access the medical records and finds out the connection between Barbara and Freeze. Meanwhile, Barbara comes too and asks what they plan on doing with her. Belson attempts to give her a sedative but she attacks him and Belson chooses to wait and sedate her later but when they come back, they find that Barbara has managed to escape into the air ducts. Freeze and Belson go after her, and when Barbara finds herself in the room with Nora, they explain why she is there. Barbara attempts to escape but finds herself on an oil derrick in the middle of the ocean, with nowhere to go and is eventually recaptured. Back in Gotham, Batman and Robin continue trying to track Freeze and are pointed in the direction of Belson, and Batman remembers Belson’s car being abandoned in the puddle, which he now realizes was melted ice. They search his house, and then pay a visit to his broker for more information when Belson calls his broker. Batman and Robin record the conversation and after returning to the Batcave, Batman realizes where Freeze is holding Barbara. As the prepare to leave, Alfred tells them that the supplies Batman had given him to check on are for an organ transplant, and Batman realizes that the situation is more serious than they first thought. Back on the oil rig, Freeze and Belson go to take Barbara to the lab and prepare her for the surgery but Koonak, who had befriended Barbara, tries to stop them. As Belson shoves Koonak away, Barbara knocks Freeze into the bed holding Nora and is able to escape while he repairs the instruments keeping Nora alive. Belson chases after her and begins firing at her, puncturing some of the oil tanks on the rig. Suddenly, the Batwing appears and Robin jumps down to stop Belson but as he is knocked out, he reflexively fires another shot, which ignites the oil. As the oil rig starts to catch fire and explosions occur, Batman and Robin are forced to deal with Hotchka and Shaka, managing to lure them into jumping over the edge of the oil rig into the water below, and then attempt to rescue Barbara but Freeze shows up and traps them in the control room for the crane. Freeze attempts to recapture Barbara but an explosion pins him under some debris, breaking his leg. Belson attempts to escape as Barbara tries to help freeze, joined by Batman and Robin after they get free. Batman says they have to leave and Freeze says they have to save Nora, with Barbara saying they also need to save Koonak. Freeze uses his freeze gun to put out the fires in the stair well so Barbara can lead Batman to where Nora and Koonak are while Robin gets the Batwing ready for take off, barely managing to get airborne before the landing pad breaks apart, which crashes onto the escaping Belson. Batman and Barbara make it to the lab and rescue Nora and Koonak and try to make it out the stairs but the fires have started burning again and Freeze is unable to help as the fires are starting to overcome him. They head to the elevator and use it to get back onto the deck, with Freeze managing to help them. escape. Batman moves to help him up but Freeze tells him to rescue Nora and Koonak first, then come back for him. Batman does so and they manage to get onto the Batwing before the portion of the rig collapses beneath them, then Batman leaps down to try and rescue Freeze but Freeze ends up falling into the burning water below. As the fire consumes the oil rig, Batman uses a grapple to snag onto the Batwing and Robin flies them to safety, not noticing Hotchka and Shaka swimmign away, with Freeze clinging to their fur. Some time later, at a weather station in the Arctic, the researchers are watching a news story about Nora Fries successful heart transplant, which was funded by Wayne Enterprises. Unnoticed by the researchers, Freeze, with his leg in a ice cast, is watching the report and smiles as he cries tears of joy that his wife is alive, then he walks off to resume his solitary life with Hotchka and Shaka.

Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics felt that the animation and story were both good and did a better job with the characters than the live action movie. The movie was actually supposed to be released in July of 1997 as a tie-in to Batman & Robin but due to the poor reception of the live action movie, the movie ended up being pushed back and released in March of 1998. With the success of this movie in video sales and rentals, Warner Bros. green lit a third movie titled Batman: Arkham, where Batman and Robin would face off against a collection of escapees from Arkham Asylum, but the movie ended up being cancelled in favor of Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker but the concept would later be turned into a series of successful video games.

This is a pretty fun movie to watch but I admit that it probably would have been better as a 2-part episode on the cartoon. The acting was good, with the voice actors from the show doing a good job reprising their roles. The story was decent but the plot was so compact and streamlined that made it feel more like a television episode rather than a movie. I know that sometimes less is more but in this case, I feel like a little more with the story could have made this a better movie. The animation was really good and did show some improvements at times from the TV show, especially in a lot of the background animation where they didn’t have to have a lot of action going around. A fun little diversion, and definitely better than Batman & Robin, but there was potential for it to be better.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, animation, comic book, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 5th, 2014 Movie – Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm

batman mask of the phantasm

In September of 1992, a new cartoon would debut on Fox Kids that would change the face of cartoons for years to come. Yes, a new Batman cartoon would debut to entertain children, and adults alike. However, instead of some of the cheesy story lines and dialogue that was found in earlier superhero cartoons, these cartoons had a more serious tone and garnered a lot of attention for it. I loved watching Batman, and still do to be honest, and thought it was a great cartoon. So when they decided to make a movie I had no problem going to see it in theaters and was not disappointed. Now, let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm.

The plot: In Gotham, crime boss Chuckie Sol is showing some of his men the newest batch of counterfeit bills that he wants laundered through his casino when Batman crashes through the window and begins fighting with his men. Sol escapes and heads to his car in the adjacent parking garage but when he gets there, he is confronted by the Phantasm, a cloaked figure wearing a mask and a bladed gauntlet on his arm. Sol attempts to shoot the Phantasm but he slices Sol’s gun in half, then moves to kill Sol but is distracted by a car leaving the garage. Sol is able to get into his car and attempts to run the Phantasm down but the Phantasm disappears in a cloud of smoke and Sol ends up crashing through the barricade and landing in the building across the street. Batman arrives at the scene and looks at the wrecked car, where the crowd notices him and believes he is responsible. As Batman leaves, he grabs a piece of windshield with some residue on it when he notices the Phantasm nearby and he goes to pursue him but the Phantasm disappears out the rooftop exit. The next day, City Councilman Arthur Reeves is holding a press conference where he lambastes Batman as a killer vigilante, despite Commissioner Gordon’s protests of Batman being innocent. Later, Arthur is on the phone with an old female friend, who is flying into town after being away for 10 years, and he asks her if she plans on seeing anyone special but she says it’s ancient history, as she is looking at a magazine with Bruce Wayne on the cover. That night, Bruce is hosting a party at his home and as some girls tease him about when he is getting married, one of his exes walks up and throws her glass of wine in his face. As Bruce walks away to clean up, Arthur offers him a handkerchief and then teases Bruce about his love life, mentioning his ex, Andrea Beaumont and asking how he let her get away. Bruce thanks him for the handkerchief and walks off, heading into his study, where he starts remembering Andrea. In flashback, we see Bruce at his parent’s graves when he hears Andrea Beaumont talking to her mother, who is buried close by. The two talk for a bit and as she leaves, Andrea asks him why the man who has everything looks so sad, claiming her mother was curious. A few nights later, Bruce, using a ski mask to hide his identity, stops some men from robbing a warehouse, receiving some injuries in the process. The next day, Bruce is talking to Alfred about how things worked perfectly but the crooks weren’t scared of him but Alfred says they should discuss that later, as Andrea is seen to be approaching. Andrea approaches Bruce, who is practicing jiu-jitsu, and when Andrea uses the self defense moves she had learned to knock him down, Bruce laughs before sweeping her legs out from under her and then kissing her. Back in the present, crime boss Buzz Bronski heads to the cemetery to pay his respects to Sol when he is confronted by the Phantasm. Bronski attempts to defend himself, yelling out for his men to help him, then runs away, falling into an open grave as he runs and the Phantasm knocks the angel grave marker on top of him, killing him. Bronski’s men arrive and see the body and the Phantasm in the distance and mistake him for Batman, blaming him for Bronski’s death. The next day, aging crime boss Salvatore Valestra reads the story about Bronski’s death and has a panic attack, fearing he might be next. At police headquarters, Arthur is arguing with Gordon over his refusal to go after Batman for the crime boss murders and Gordon tells him that Batman doesn’t kill and he will have no part in the witch hunt. Batman, who was listening outside the window, heads to the cemetery to investigate Bronski’s death when he sees Andrea by her mother’s grave. Andrea notices him and as they stare in shock at each other, Batman quickly leaves and Andrea goes to follow but Batman is gone and as she notices the grave she is standing by, she realizes that Batman is Bruce. Later that night, Andrea is having dinner with Arthur, unaware that Batman is watching them from across the street. As he watches them, Batman starts reminiscing his time with Andrea. After they go on a date to the Gotham World Fair, Andrea convinces Bruce to go meet her father and as she sets it up, Bruce questions what he is doing, saying this isn’t part of the plan but Alfred feels like this might be better for him. They head over to meet Andrea’s father Carl, who introduces Bruce to Arthur, who is one of his lawyers. Bruce, Andrea, and Carl are talking for a bit before they are interrupted by Valestra, who is there to speak business with Carl. As they leave, Bruce and Andrea see some thugs trying to steal money from a street vendor and Bruce goes to stop them but he gets distracted when he notices Andrea’s concern for him and one of the thugs is able to strike him with a bat before they grab the money and run. That night, Bruce is arguing with himself over what he should do, as he feels torn between the promise he made his parents and the possible happiness he could have with Andrea. Heading to the cemetery, he talks to his parent’s grave and asks for a sign, only to have Andrea come up behind him and suggest that maybe they had sent her to him and the two embrace. Back in the present, Arthur is walking down the street when Valestra’s car pulls up and Valestra tells him to get in. As they are driving, Valestra asks if it is true about Batman killing the others and when Arthur confirms it, Valestra wonders why before having another coughing fit, and Arthur asks to be let out. Meanwhile, Batman finds a connection between Sol and Bronski, noting that Valestra was the third partner in their dummy corporations, and he makes plans to go see Valestra. Alfred asks if he will see Andrea afterwards but Batman doesn’t answer him. Batman breaks into Carl Beaumont’s old office and as he stares at some of the pictures on the wall, he has another flashback. He recalls the day that he proposed to Andrea as they are walking along the grounds of Wayne Manor and she says yes but as they embrace, they are startled by a swarm of bats the fly out of an opening in the ground. As Bruce takes Andrea home, she sees that her father is apparently having a business meeting though thinks it is odd to have one this late. She tells Bruce that maybe they should wait until the morning to tell her father about the engagement and kisses him goodbye. The next day, Bruce explores the cave but when he comes back out, he finds Alfred holding the ring box with a note from Andrea, telling him she can’t marry him and she is leaving with her father and doesn’t know when she will return. Andrea’s departure is the catalyst that Bruce needs to focus full time on avenging his parent’s murder and leads him to becoming Batman. Back in the present, Valestra goes to see Joker, believing he is the only one that can stop Batman from killing him, saying his hands are even dirtier than theirs are, and Joker says he will do it. Meanwhile, Andrea returns to her hotel room and, noticing the balcony door is open, makes a show out of kissing Arthur goodbye. After closing the door and turning on the light, she sees Batman, who questions her about a photograph of Carl with the three crime bosses. The two argue over Carl before Batman leaves and Andrea ends up breaking down into tears when  he is gone. Later that night, the Phantasm heads to Valestra’s house to kill him only to find that Valestra has been killed by the Joker and left there as a trap. The house explodes but the Phantasm is able to get away only to be confronted by Batman. The two briefly fight on the roofs when the police show up and the Phantasm escapes while the police chase after Batman. He is able to escape to a construction site but one of the cops starts shooting at him and hits some fuel tanks, causing an explosion. Batman is injured in the blast and attaches his cape to a sawhorse and sends it flying towards the helicopter in order to distract the cops so he can escape. The cops give chase but Bruce is able to evade them when Andrea pulls up and helps him escape. Andrea takes Bruce back to Wayne Manor, where Alfred tends to his injuries. When he is done, Andrea tells Bruce about what happened the night they got engaged, and how Valestra, Sol, and Bronski were demanding money that he had embezzled and he convinces them that he will get them their money in the morning but after they leave, Carl tells Andrea they have to leave and forces her to come with him as he says they will kill her to get to him. She tells Bruce that they made their way through Europe and eventually settled off the Mediterranean coast, where Carl was able to use the money he embezzled to make a fortune and pay the men back but they wanted interest. Andrea apologizes and Bruce embraces her and kisses her. The next morning, Bruce hugs Andrea and tells her that he is going to have to confront her father but Andrea says he doesn’t matter, choosing Bruce over her father this time. After she leaves, Bruce takes another look at the picture when he notices Valestra’s body guard and realizes that the body guard is the Joker. Meanwhile, Joker pays a visit to Arthur, telling him that Batman wasn’t the one killing their old associates. Just then, Andrea calls Arthur telling him she can’t meet for lunch but will talk to him at dinner that night and Joker smiles before attacking Arthur, dosing him with Joker venom. Arthur is taken to the hospital and Batman confronts him there to find out what the Joker wanted with him. Arthur tells him that he helped Carl and Andrea escape the city but when he first ran for city councilman, he approached Arthur for some money and was refused so he sold him out to Valestra in order to get the money. Elsewhere, outside the abandoned World Fair, Andrea stares at the park and thinks back to when she had returned home one day to find Valestra’s body guard exiting her house and she rushes in to find her father dead. The Phantasm confronts the Joker, who knows that it is Andrea so she takes off her mask. The two begin fighting and Andrea appears to get the upper hand but Joker is able to escape. When Andrea chases after him, she gets caught in a trap when Joker activates the wind tunnel by Batman is able to rescue him. Batman confronts Andrea over her actions and she says she knows it isn’t right but they took everything from both of them and they deserved to pay. Batman tells her to leave, then goes after the Joker himself, but Joker activates some explosives he had set up all over the fair and then attempts to escape on a jet pack. Batman manages to grab onto him as he tries to fly out of there and they end up crashing to the ground, where Andrea appears before them. Batman tells her to leave before the place explodes but Andrea says that this ends tonight. As the place starts to explode, Andrea says “Goodbye, my love”, then disappears with Joker inside the explosions while Batman is blown clear. Later, in the Batcave, Alfred tries to comfort Bruce, saying there was nothing that he could have done to save Andrea, as her need for vengeance consumed her. As Alfred walks away, Bruce notices something glint in the light and he heads over to find Andrea had left her locket, with the picture of the two of them, in the Batcave for him to remember her by. Elsewhere, a cruise ship is sailing out of Gotham and Andrea is seen on the deck, crying over what she has lost while Batman returns to patrolling Gotham and keeping it’s citizens safe.

Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm met with mostly praise form the critics, holding an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Stylish and admirably respectful of the source material, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm succeeds where many of the live-action Batman adaptations have failed.” The majority of this movie’s plot is based off of the comic story line “Batman: Year Two”; with the Phantasm (who is never referred to by name) being patterned after the Reaper, who was the main villain in the comic. The movie unfortunately did not fare well at the box office, only earning $5.6 million off of a $6 million budget but did get a cult following and had more success when it hit home video. As a result, every subsequent release of a Batman, or any D.C. animated movie, was released direct to video (not counting the limited theatrical release of Batman: The Killing Joke).

This movie is still so much fun to watch, even 25 years after it came out. The voice acting was great, getting the same characters from the TV cartoon to reprise their roles and they all delivered great performances. The story was great, and I didn’t even know until years later that it was based off of an actual comic, which makes me want to go out and get a copy of the trade that they released of it. From what I gather, it is relatively close to the original story, though the toned down Batman’s going further down the dark side of vengeance and pushing the limit on his no killing policy that was in the comic. I did like the character of the Phantasm but the big twist that Andrea was the killer was honestly pretty easy to figure out early on into the movie so I feel like they could have done a better job of leading up to that reveal and making it more of a surprise. The animation was incredible and was a step up from the TV show in some aspect, but still kept the same feel from the show. A great movie and one well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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