DC Showcase Short Films
I absolutely love animation, so when I saw a blogathon about animated short films over at Pussy Goes Grrr I knew I wanted to participate. And I didn’t want to just use an installment of my Superhero Shorts for it. So instead I decided to search out all the recent DC Showcase short films that have been packaged with various DC movies. There have been five of them so far, but as the blogathon limits it to a total hour of animation, I eliminated the longest one. Read below for my short reviews for Catwoman, The Spectre, Jonah Hex, and Green Arrow.
One thing I enjoy about short films, especially superhero short films is that they don’t waste time on setup. They get straight to the heart of the story and fill in any important details as it goes along. This short starts somewhat confusingly as a couple thugs are chasing a house cat down the street firing guns at it. You initially don’t know what’s going on, is the cat being manipulated by Catwoman to steal? Are they messing with Catwoman’s powers even more than they did in the Halle Berry movie by giving her the power to transform into a cat? But no, it’s just a house cat wearing a unique collar which is a piece of incriminating evidence. The movie then heads over to a strip club for a bit of fanservice where a stripper does a very PG-13 striptease, and Catwoman enters the club and begins to do a pole dance before getting into the actual action sequence.
The animation looks great as is typical for most of the recent Warner Brothers DC animation. I enjoyed Eliza Dushku as the voice of Catwoman, although I wasn’t that impressed with John Dimaggio’s voice for the villain Rough Cut which seemed like just a rougher, deeper version of Bender. Granted, there wasn’t really that much speaking in the short, but what little there was tended to fall a little flat. The action scenes were fun and showcased Catwoman as a real badass, and the final reveal of the human trafficking subplot was nice even if it was unrealistic. You can watch Catwoman as it came with the Batman: Year One DVD or you can watch it here.
Green Arrow is actually one of the few superheroes that I owned comics of when I was younger. Specifically I had a couple comic runs that were collected in a small paperback sized book in the 70’s that featured Green Lantern and Green Arrow. Aside from that, I only knew Green Arrow from Smallville. I knew that at one point he marries Black Canary, and he has a lot of gadget arrows. This short film features many of those arrows as well as several fun quips from him. I liked the lightheartedness of this short, but it still not only had a lot of action, but it also showed Green Arrow getting some pretty brutal hits. The plot of this is that he is going to meet Black Canary at the airport and propose to her, but he notices Merlyn who I had never heard of, but apparently is a villainous counterpart of Green Arrow and doesn’t have anything to do with magic as his name might imply. He ends up rescuing a young princess who is about to become a queen now that her father passed away, and the next in line wants to be first in line.
The action sequences were nice with several visual flairs and a nice little explosion to heat things up. i did notice a few instances of cost cutting, especially during the crowd scenes at the beginning with relatively small crounds and very little movement from anyone except the main focus, but it wasn’t overly distracting. The rest of the short more than made up for it with some fast paced action and scenes that really showcased Green Arrow being at the top of his game. It makes me hope that Arrow gets picked up next season and they turn it into as good a show as Smallville was. You can find this short attached to the DVD of Superman/Batman Apocalypse.
Of the four short films, I think this one was probably my favorite, even though it was a hero that I never really heard of before now. The Spectre is somewhere between The Punisher, The Spirit, and Martian Manhunter. He is essentially a poltergeist posing as a beat cop in the 70’s. He uses his position to investigate crimes and find out who the guilty parties are, and then visits them as The Spectre and dispatches them in what I felt was a very Twilight Zone slash Tales from the Crypt way. Since he is a ghost, he can’t be physically harmed, but he still manages to get told off by his boss at work for honing in on another detective’s crime and not investigating the mysterious deaths of several suspects. On top of all this is a subtle post effect to give the animation the look of an old damaged filmreel from the 70’s. I don’t have much to say about this one because it’s just great, find it and watch it. It’s really fantastic and I’m disappointed that I didn’t watch it when I rented Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths a while back where it is as a special feature.
The final short film of this post is another strong contender for my favorite, but I think The Spectre still edges it out slightly. I have not yet seen the movie Jonah Hex yet, and if he has any powers they aren’t showcased in this short. It’s just a full on western tale that once again reminds me a lot of the western episodes of Tales from the Crypt. The first thing I noticed was the strong voice cast, with Thomas Jane doing a great job voicing Jonah Hex, Linda Hamilton, and Michelle Trachtenberg as a couple saloon girls. The style of the animation just screams spaghetti western and so does the music which I didn’t notice one way or the other during the other shorts, but this one really caught me with the score. This is another one that should be checked out and it can be found alonside Batman: Under the Red Hood, or right here.
This has been a fun blogathon, much thanks to Pussy Goes Grrr for setting this up and the LAMB for spreading the word about it. Don’t forget to vote in this week’s poll about the Avengers, and I’ll be back on Thursday with my review of The Incredible Hulk. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Posted on April 24, 2012, in Blogs, DC and tagged Catwoman, comics, DC, green arrow, jonah hex, movies, review, spectre, Superhero. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
Nice write-ups on the shorts. I haven’t seen any of them yet, but this does make me interested in checking them out.
I thought I’d chime in with a few answers for questions you raise. Merlyn has the name he does because he started out as a trick shootist entertainer — “Merlyn the Magician” was his stage name because of his impossible shots. After Green Arrow defeated him in a contest, he disappeared for a while then came back as a villainous assassin (hey, this was back in the days when “Superboy made him go bald” was considered a valid start of darkness for Lex Luthor.)
The Spectre is an old Golden Age character. Detective Jim Corrigan was murdered, and in order to find his killer and bring other murderers to justice he was allowed to bond with the spirit of God’s Wrath, which since the New Testament could not walk the Earth any more without a human host. Those Twilight-Zone deaths are a big part of the comic, and contribute to why he’s something of an obscure character; he was one of many whose comics got sidelined during the whole “comics aren’t clean enough for kids” scare in the 1950s.
Jonah Hex does not have any powers, or at least, he’s not supposed to. He’s just a former Confederate soldier who works as a bounty hunter. Traditionally, most of his stories haven’t delved into the supernatural at all. I haven’t seen the film either, but from what I understand, it does have a supernatural aspect to it, which might be part of the problem with its low public reception.
Well two of them are on YouTube so they’re easy to check out. Thanks for the extra info on the characters, I’m a big movie fan and a superhero fan but I’ve never gotten heavily into the world of comics. I should probably turn my personal background in comics into a blog post sometime.
I came to them fairly late in the game myself, read a lot in a period of a few years, and then concluded they took up too much space and cost too much money. Really a shame libraries don’t stock much in the way of comic book collections.
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