Bolt (2008)

Stupid cat.

Stupid cat.

Directed by: Chris Williams and Byron Howard (Howard also directed Tangled which I didn’t think much of)

Written by: Dan Fogelman and Chris Williams

Starring: the vocal cast of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, Malcolm McDowell, Randy Savage, Nick Swardson, Diedrich Bader, Chloë Grace Moretz, James Lipton, Grey DeLisle, John DiMaggio, and Jenny Lewis

What it’s about: a dog raised on a TV show finds out that he has no super powers at all

B-Movie Alternate Title: The Dog Who Didn’t Know

Movie Mash Up: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey animated

What I liked: The animation is gorgeous – especially on Bolt – and some of the scenes that don’t involve any of the characters in the movie look like real life.  Well, the movies version of real life, I guess.  I absolutely love Jenny Lewis, and honestly, there’s no reason (except that the Oscars are bullshit political garbage) that her song wasn’t nominated in the Best Original Song category.  Really, TWO songs from Slumdog Millionaire were nominated?  Idiots.  Her song still brings a bit of the old glassy-eyed reaction out in me.  The characters were fun as well.

What I disliked: For some reason, the more times I re-watch this, the less impressed I am by it.  I still think it is a decent movie, but my enthusiasm for it has dulled since I originally watched it.  Personally, I would have rather had Chloë Grace Moretz as the lead voice like they originally recorded, rather than Miley Cyrus’ fucked up nasally cigarette-infused voice.  The movie just doesn’t impact me as much anymore, but I still want a dog.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, there’s nothing offensive about the movie at all, just an enjoyable easy-to-watch romp.

Rating: 3 / 5

That is pretty adorable right there

That is pretty adorable right there

Justice League: Doom (2012)

Weird that I’m posting this on this date, as a year ago today, writer and comic book creator (well character creator, he didn’t invent comic books~) Dwayne McDuffie died due to complications from his heart surgery.  What is most celebrated about McDuffie is probably something he didn’t want to be the thing that distinguished him from others, namely that he was black.  I never knew the man, never read his comics, hell I haven’t read anything comics-related since The Blackest Night DC Comics storyline a couple years back.  Anyways, he seemed like a decent enough dude, and he finished writing this DC Comics animated feature I guess shortly before he died.

If I remember my post-Crisis, pre-52-relaunch DC Comics history correctly, there was a storyline that took place with Batman and the rest of the Justice League of America wherein the rest of the JLA was super-pissed at Bats for spying on them or something.  I don’t know all the details, Wikipedia that shit if it interests you.  Apparently this feature is loosely based off that arc, and how thanks to someone snooping in the Batcave, they stole Batman’s contingency plans to deal with an out of control JLA and altered them in a villainous manner.

Because it’s a straight-to-DVD/Blu-Ray home release, there’s not the level of detail that’s in most theatrical features.  But this movie isn’t targeted at mainstream audiences, it’s for those that like DC features and bam, they’ve got this one.  The top notch Kevin Conroy returns as Batman, Nathan Fillion is back for more Green Lantern goodness, and there’s a lot of other famous in the voice actor industry familiar names populating the cast in their usual DC Animated Universe parts.

It’s an enjoyable enough movie, though it felt a bit rushed.  You won’t like it if you have no interest in superheroes or the like, and the animation isn’t enough to recommend the film solely for.  Sentence structure failing.  It wasn’t as bad as Emerald Knights was, but it’s no Batman: Year One either.

3 / 5

Batman: Year One (2011)

Here is another in the DC Comics Animation Universe, which has contributed some great and some not-so-great straight-to-DVD animated features based on their comics.  I think the last Batman animated movie was the very uneven Batman: Gotham Knights, which had numerous characters telling their own tales of interactions with The Dark Knight.  It featured differing animation styles for each story and the effect was unique, but also jarring.  Thankfully, Batman: Year One goes with telling one tale, and it’s an almost perfect adaptation of the Frank Miller storyline depicting Batman’s first year on the job.

The animation style is just straight up gorgeous, dark, full of deep shadows and it is on a level higher than most of these animated movies that get shuttled out into movieplexes each week.  This is one movie that I will eventually purchase because I could see myself enjoying it over and over again.  It’s not just a Batman tale though, as even though it tells the origin of how Bruce Wayne / Batman (Ben McKenzie) came to be, it’s also the first year that Jim Gordon (Bryan Cranston) is in Gotham.  Also, Selina Kyle (Eliza Dushku) ditches prostitution and becomes Catwoman.  There’s a lot going on in this movie, and it is nearly seamless storytelling.  Joel Schmuacher could learn something from this movie.

It took me awhile to realise that yes, it was Walter White, Bryan Cranston from “Breaking Bad” as Jim Gordon and that is as perfect casting of Gordon as Gary Oldman is in the Christopher Nolan Batman movies.  Dushku is also perfect as Catwoman, and there are almost uniformly excellent vocal casting decisions throughout the movie.  My only quibble is that Ben McKenzie – Ryan from “The O.C.” – is Bruce Wayne / Batman.  I understand that yes, it is Batman’s first year on the job, etc. but McKenzie just doesn’t embody the menace of The Bat.

Other than that little detail, it’s flawless and if you’re a Batman fan, check it out.

4.5 / 5

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011)

DC Comics has been releasing these animated straight-to-DVD movies for a few years now, and they’ve been of varying quality.  Several of them that I’ve watched were actually quite good, and some middling to average.  I’m going to put this one in the latter category.

Much like the Batman: Gotham Knights release, Emerald Knights adapts a more anthology-based approach, telling stories of several heroic Green Lanterns throughout the universe.  The best way to do this is by having Hal Jordan (voiced by Nathan Fillion) narrate the stories to a new recruit, Arisia (Elisabeth Moss).  Unlike the Gotham Knights movie, the film doesn’t alter its animation style for each tale, sticking to a decent to average animation style.  It serves the purposes of the film, but it’s mostly forgettable and a slight step up from Saturday morning cartoons.

Some of the tales are alright, but they don’t really delve too deep into anything nerdrific or awesome.  The voice acting is again, decent to middling.  Roddy Piper and Henry Rollins have parts, as well as the excellent Jason Isaacs and the previously mentioned leads.  Again, this animated feature is alright and was meant to serve as something extra to the live action Green Lantern movie, but for the most part, it is instantly forgettable.

It was nice to at least hear Nathan Fillion as Hal Jordan though.

2 / 5