Justice League: Dark – Review Feb27

Justice League: Dark – Review...

Are you a fanboy or fangirl who misses NBC’s short lived series about DC’s magical bad boy John Constantine? Then you need to get your hands on the recently released Justice League: Dark, DC’s latest offering from their animated film division. Constantine lead Matt Ryan returns to voice the character, who is the focal point of a new group of magic-based heroes brought together by Batman to deal with a problem out of the Justice League’s wheelhouse. Ryan brings all the charm that he brought to the live action series to this voiceover work. He is definitely the standout in this movie and I am hoping this is not the last time we find him voicing Constantine. The movie borrows from the early issues of the New 52 comics series Justice League: Dark. The team includes fan favorites like Zatanna, Deadman and Etrigan the Demon, and more obscure heroes like Black Orchid too. The screenplay was written by legendary Justice League writer J.M. DeMatteis, and directed by DC Animation all-star Jay Oliva. Right there, you know DeMatteis is bringing both great humor and great drama to the script and Oliva is bringing the insanely well choreographed fight scenes that he’s known for. Neither gentleman disappointed. It’s interesting watching this movie with its more mystical fight scenes. I feel like this is out of Jay Oliva’s usual domain, which usually leans heavily on martial arts. Producer James Tucker continues to prove why he was Bruce Timm’s rightful heir to the DC Animation throne. The worldbuilding that started in Justice League: War continues here, with a huge leap in characters this time. Most Justice League movies give us one or two new characters, but this movie gives us a whole squad (and brings in John Stewart briefly too!). Characters like Zatanna...

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders – Review Jan08

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders – Review...

Almost as if in answer to the darkness of Batman: The Killing Joke, on the heels of that movie comes the much more lighthearted Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders. Have you missed Adam West as Batman, Julie Newmar as Catwoman and Burt Ward as Robin? Then Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is the movie for you! I was hesitant about Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders when I first heard of it. Often when someone tries to recapture the magic of something that worked in a bygone era, it doesn’t translate well. There’s a fine balance between kitsch and schlock. But I really should not have been worried. At the helm of this movie is DC Animation head James Tucker, who has been producing quality animated movies ever since he took over the group from Bruce Timm and produced the excellent Justice League: War. Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders captures all of the camp and magic that made the 1966 Batman TV series work so well. Tucker, who cowrote the screenplay, definitely captures the voices of Batman, Robin and their rogues very, very well. Thankfully, Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar are all still around to add some extra magic to the movie. All three actors came on board to play Batman, Robin and Catwoman respectively. What really helps Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders work is that the movie pokes fun at itself too. Aunt Harriet’s musings about Bruce and Dick’s relationships seem like they could have been taken directly from an Ambiguously Gay Duo sketch from SNL. It’s interesting to think of the original Batman TV series inspiring that series of sketches, whose jokes seem to have inspired some of the bits in this movie. <blockquote class=”instagram-media” data-instgrm-captioned...

NYCC’16: Sitting Down With Matt Ryan and the Team Behind Justice League: Dark Jan07

NYCC’16: Sitting Down With Matt Ryan and the Team Behind Justice League: Dark...

This January, DC Animation is spotlighting the occult heroes of the DC universe in Justice League: Dark. Like the team in the comics, this team deals with cases in the magical realm, cases that the main Justice League team isn’t adept at handling. Executive Producer James Tucker, Director Jay Oliva, Batman voice actor Jason O’Mara, Constantine voice actor Matt Ryan and character designer Phil Bourassa held a panel on Saturday on NYCC’s Main Stage and also sat down with The Beat beforehand to talk about the upcoming animated movie. If there is anything about Justice League: Dark that people are talking about, it’s that Constantine TV series star Matt Ryan was cast to play Constantine in Justice League: Dark. When asked if it was difficult to play Constantine as a voice actor as opposed to live action, Matt Ryan replied, “Ultimately the DNA of the character is the same. I love the character so much. There is so much more to explore with him. With a character like that, I just feel lucky that I had the opportunity to play him. I thought about taking a trenchcoat with me to wear in the booth. I feel blessed to play him again.” If Matt Ryan could play any other DC character? “Wonder Woman.” That’s right. Wonder Woman. You heard it here first. Director Jay Oliva felt very lucky to get Matt Ryan cast as Constantine. He elaborated, “I never know what I’m going to be working on until they drop a script on my desk. They said you’re going to do Dark, and I asked if Swamp Thing was in it, and they said yes, and I asked is Constantine in it, and they said yes, and I asked if I could get Matt Ryan, and...

Son of Batman – Review Aug08

Son of Batman – Review...

When it was announced that James Tucker was going to succeed Bruce Timm as the head of DC’s animated film line, I think people thought Tucker would succeed, but did they think he would succeed this well? Ladies and gentlemen, there is a new king in town. It started with Justice League: War, which quickly rivaled Under the Hood as my favorite DC animated movie. Son of Batman is even better. James Tucker is now responsible for two of the three best DC animated movies, or the two best, depending on which day of the week you ask me the question (Justice League: War and Under the Red Hood are so close! Might as well give them the tie for the #2 spot). Ethan Spaulding directs Son of Batman. Judging by the quality of the movie, you would not think that this is directorial debut, but I believe it is. The first five minutes of the movie are immediately exciting. Far from Gotham City, R’as Al Ghul’s League of Assassins is under attack in their impenetrable mountain stronghold that turns out to be not that impenetrable. This fight scene is awesome! The first five minutes of the movie are worth the price of the DVD alone. But if I have any quibble with Son of Batman, it’s in this scene. It’s a minor quibble, but it’s so ridiculous it kind of makes my head hurt: the League of Assassins’ Gatling gun full of arrows. I don’t remember if the arrow Gatling gun was in the original comic book story. It’s something that I can see Grant Morrison writing; it’s that crazy, or it could be solely from the mind of the screenwriter. In this movie, the League are pretty much all ninjas. The invaders have guns,...

Justice League: War – Review Jan22

Justice League: War – Review...

A theater full of excited fans and I braved a blizzard in New York City to attend the world premiere of Justice League: War at the Paley Center. I can’t lie, I was both excited and apprehensive when I took my seat. I was excited because Justice League: War represents a new initiative in the DC Animated Universe. Producer James Tucker has a vision of the films now operating under a shared continuity. I was also excited for the talent that Andrea Romano cast to be in the movie. I’m an unabashed fan of Justin Kirk and wanted to see what he brought to Green Lantern. But I still had a lingering apprehension, which stemmed from the source material. I love Geoff Johns and I love Jim Lee, but I found the story in Justice League: Origin to be a bit underwhelming. Not to say I didn’t like their run on Justice League. I own all of the issues and even a page of Jim Lee’s original art from #5. I just wanted more from that story. Justice League: War brings the more. Screenwriter Heath Corson and Director Jay Oliva make a number of improvements to the Justice League: Origin story in Justice League: War. My favorite line in Justice League: Origin, “Who’s Bruce Wayne?” is still here, but it’s moved much earlier in the story. It definitely works better in its new spot. Later, Bruce’s unmasking to Hal, which I remember being a big sore point for fans when the comic was released feels much more organic in the movie. The scene is now an inspiring one and seems to fit perfectly into the narrative. The biggest change to story is Vic Stone’s transformation into Cyborg. In the Justice League comic, his cyborg...

James Tucker Talks Justice League: War Nov25

James Tucker Talks Justice League: War...

After sitting down with Andrea Romano at NYCC, I had the chance to sit and talk with James Tucker about Justice League: War. As you may know, James is the new Bruce Timm at DC’s animation group. In other words, he’s the new head honcho. When asked if it was a smooth transition taking over for Bruce, James said it was. He elaborated, “He was outside smoking and said, “Hey, do you want to take over the DVDs?” and I went, “Sure.” It was that simple.  It wasn’t like a coronation or anything. I didn’t go into the throne room and he knighted me. It’s very casual at Warner Brothers. ” By the time the official announcement was made, James already had experience in the job. According to James, “When it was announced, I had already been doing the job for two years. We were working on War a year ago. I had been doing the job long before they announced it. He was working on Green Lantern. It was very smooth and not a big deal.” Regarding the future of the DC animated movies, James said that from this point forward, we’ll be seeing a Justice League movie, followed by a Batman movie, followed by a Justice League movie, followed by a Batman movie. Having movies whose stories focus on specific characters set in the framework of the Justice League. James used Wonder Woman as an example. “With the way we’re setting it up, it’s easier for us to do a Wonder Woman featured Justice League movie, meaning the story has something to do with her, but it’s a Justice League movie.” If you’re wondering why, according to Mr. Tucker, it’s because, “Home Video thinks they can sell it better. Rather than doing...

Andrea Romano Talks Justice League: War Nov19

Andrea Romano Talks Justice League: War...

Justice League: War is the next release in Warner Bros Home Video’s line of direct-to-DVD animated movies featuring DC superheroes. The official release date is February 4, 2014. I expect that Best Buy will once again have an exclusive version of the DVD that comes packaged with a mini-action figure. There has been no word yet as to what that figure will be. My guess is on Cyborg, since his origin story makes up a large portion of Justice League: War. If not him, then Darkseid, the main villain of Justice League: War. At New York Comic Con this year, I had the chance to sit down with casting director Andrea Romano about Justice League: War. Andrea and DC animated projects go back. She’s the woman who originally cast Kevin Conroy as Batman in Batman: The Animated Series. Since then, she’s cast Batman enough times to lose count as to what the actual number is. “I’m looking for someone to tell me how many times I cast Batman. I think it’s somewhere around 17.” said Romano. Justice League: War is the first of DC’s animated movies set in the New 52 universe. For those unfamiliar with the New 52, in 2011, DC rebooted their entire line of comic books, calling the new universe and continuity the New 52, which was the number of titles DC put out that month. Origins and costumes have been modified and modernized. When asked if she approached casting for Justice League: War differently than how she cast prior movies, Andrea said “(It was) pretty much the same process. We all looked for the best possible voices.” I asked Andrea if there was a mandate from on high this time about not repeating voices. Andrea said there was, but that...