Stephen reviews: Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)

Superman_Batman-Public-Enemies-posterStarring Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Clancy Brown, Allison Mack, Xander Berkely, CCH Pounder, Ricardo Chavira, John C. McGinley

Directed by Sam Liu


To help out with the Man of Steel countdown, I’m going to be adding to Will’s ongoing Superman reviews in my own manner, by reviewing a few of the animated films showcasing the Man of Steel. This is an adaptation of a story arc from the comics, and it shows. If you want something with realism or a serious story, look elsewhere. This doesn’t have the old style Adam West camp, but it is pure superhero action that doesn’t put on any airs. This is no Christopher Nolan film.

They went so far as to adapt the character designs of the comic book artist, Ed McGuinness, into animation. What this means is a lot of bulging, well-defined muscles. For Superman himself the image works very well, but for some of the other characters, like Captain Atom, it just looks strange.

This brings me to a more awkward aspect of the film, the heaping mountain of random characters. I had no idea who some of these people are, and there were tons that I only recognized by sight without any idea of what they do. This could genuinely cause a rather large barrier for those not familiar with DC Comics. Though it was interesting to see an animated Starfire that looks closer to her comic book design. You’ll have to resist asking yourself just who the hell all these people are. They’re just random people for Superman and Batman to beat up.

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John Dies at the End (2013)

johndiesattheendStarring Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman, Doug Jones, Daniel Roebuck, Fabianne Therese, Jonny Weston, Jimmy Wong

Directed by Don Coscarelli

Expectations: High. It’s been too long since Coscarelli had a movie.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


I’m very conflicted in my feelings about John Dies at the End. On one hand, I didn’t really like it at all. I lost track of what was going on about an hour into it, and I was never able to remedy that. It’s also a dark comedy, but I largely found it unfunny. But on the other hand, it’s a cornucopia of insane, wild ideas, impressively brought to life by Don Coscarelli, a truly original filmmaker if there ever was one. This makes John Dies at the End at hard film to talk about or rate, as my feelings are very much all over the place.

… Just like the movie. I could attempt to recount the basis of the plot if I understood it enough to, but I’m really at a loss here. There’s so much playing with reality and time, with one character talking on the phone to another in an alternate dimension, while a different version of the guy calling is sitting right in front of the character receiving the call. In any case (and this isn’t really where the film begins), David Wong is at his friend John’s band’s show, and he meets a Jamaican guy who expands his mind. The film also expands from there, and for those able to keep up and find humor in its wild shifts, you’ve likely found a new favorite movie. I can see a cult springing up around this one in the coming years. It didn’t exactly work for me overall, but I was still able to extract a fair amount of entertainment and interest out of the wild shit that played out before me. There are a couple of moments involving a dog, for instance, that are pure, unhinged gold.

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Green Lantern (2011)

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Jay O. Sanders, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Clarke Duncan, Clancy Brown

Directed by Martin Campbell

Expectations: None, except that I expect to have some fun with it.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


As I like to do at the beginning of reviews, I’ll just cut to the big question looming in your mind: Yes, I enjoyed Green Lantern. Feel free to move along if that’s what you came to find out, but if you’d like to know why, there’s plenty of that to follow. I don’t think Green Lantern is a particularly good movie, but I think it tells a hard tale well, what with all the wild, intergalactic struggles of the Green Lantern corp and everything. I read a lot of comics in my youth, but I never read a Green Lantern tale, and outside of his appearance in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Strikes Back, I don’t know that I’ve ever been exposed to him in any real way. DC has always been a major blind spot for me, and this puts me in a very interesting place to see Green Lantern. Instead of approaching the film as a seasoned vet, I’m actually coming at this one as a standard mainstream moviegoer, and within the opening minutes I was already completely lost… but that’s OK.

During these opening minutes there were a lot of crazy, intergalactic visuals and narration explaining who and what the Green Lantern corp was. As soon as they started dropping alien names I was lost because they held no weight to me, but the sheer draw of the sci-fi visuals captured me completely in a child-like way. Then three aliens fell down a hole and found an even crazier looking alien who opened his mouth in a wide scream and gold tentacles came out of his mouth. I was sold. When I decided to watch Green Lantern, it wasn’t because I thought it would be good, it was because I thought it would provide me with a lot of B-Movie thrills. And this yell was exactly that. If this moment had come even five minutes later, it might have been too late and I’d have given up hope, but it came at just the right time.

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