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Batman Unlimited: Mechs Vs Mutants

Batman Unlimited: Mechs Vs Mutants 2016

Within a month of me finishing all of the animated comic book movies out there, they went and released two more already. Starting off with the latest entry in the Batman Unlimited series, something that I tend to think of as the “toy series” as it coincided with the release of a new toy line and overall is more kid friendly than the current Warner Premier animated movies that tend towards PG-13 to R for a more adult audience. Even when just looking at this comparatively to the other two Batman Unlimited movies that came before this one, there was a level of inconsistency with many of the characters like Penguin and even Killer Croc. But while it did take a while to win me over, the level of humor across the third act made up for a lot of nothing in the first two. At least a little.
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Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad 2016

Like with any recent DC live action movie release these days there’s a lot more to it than just “Did I like it?” or “Did I not like it?” It seems like it started a little bit with Manof Steel and escalated greatly with Batman vs Superman and once again there’s this great divide between a very low critical consensus and a record breaking box office. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Does it really even matter anymore as long as the money is flowing and nothing’s going to stop this DC train from moving along trying to catch up to the Marvel money train chugging a few billion dollars ahead. Obviously, I’m a superhero movie fan, you don’t sit through over 300 superhero movies without either being a fan, becoming a fan, or quitting about 100 movies ago. My expectations for Suicide Squad were very similar to the animated Assault on Arkham, and what I got wasn’t a far cry from it. The characters were fun, it was fast paced, sure there were some flaws with the story but at the end of the day, my wife and I had a great morning at the movies. It would just be nice if there was a little bit more cohesion so that everyone else had fun too.
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Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke 2016

Part of the reason why I decided to watch a bunch of animated movies during July was because I knew that Batman: The Killing Joke was coming out this month and there weren’t any other theatrical releases until August. What ultimately made this more special was that this film was something that I specifically called for almost 3 years ago, even calling for the R rating to separate it from the family fare. What’s probably most interesting about all this is that I haven’t actually read the Killing Joke myself. I’m acutely aware of it, not just for its critical praise and commercial success, but also for some of the more negative critics, specifically for its depictions and/or implications of violence against women and a piece of the large trend of Women in refrigerators. Even as fans started discussing this specific movie, there were also criticisms aimed against it for its new opening act that wasn’t a part of the original story. But for my part, I generally enjoyed the film but I can see some of the weak points in the story.
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The Batman vs Dracula

The Batman vs Dracula 2005

While I watched most of the run of the first incarnation of Batman: The Animated Series, I didn’t follow it with any of the later series including the one simply called The Batman. I don’t really know much about it at all, reading up on it it seems like it was intended to be a Batman for slightly younger audiences than the original series, but it found its footing a little bit better in later seasons. The first thing that struck me was the incredibly different and jarring design for the Joker. But as for looking at the movie as a whole, it didn’t have too much of a kid-friendly vibe to me. It got surprisingly dark in places, but it was mostly superficial. It’s a fun film that seems like a perfect movie to throw on for Halloween if you’re also a fan of Batman.
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Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman 2003

It feels like animation month here is already starting to wind down and as I write this, the month isn’t even half over yet. While I’ve hit a bit of a rough patch in some of the more grown up animation as well as the previous Batman animation, this was a much more welcome return to form. Mystery of the Batwoman was essentially the last project to come out of the Batman: The Animated Series era that more or less bridges a bit of the gap between the New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond even though both of them had been off the air for a couple years before this project was completed. At its heart, like the title says it’s a mystery where Batman as well as the villains try to figure out who this Batwoman is, and as I always do I will be discussing her identity so here’s your spoiler warning.
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Batman and Mr. Freeze: SubZero

Batman and Mr. Freeze: SubZero 1998

We’re moving right along in this animation month and it’s time once again for one of the animated films for the younger folks. This was really the first straight to video project for DC Animation. Yes, technically Mask of the Phantasm came before this, but that also had a brief theatrical release so it’s not quite the same since it likely had a bit of a larger budget. I don’t think I had ever seen this one, and for whatever reasons it didn’t quite bring up the same memories from the show like Batman Beyond did, oddly enough. There were a few holes that I poked through the plot line here and there, but overall it was a decent movie. I think its biggest flaw is just that it pales in comparison to most of DC’s better work, and even though I hadn’t watched it in years, I felt like Freeze’s episodes in the Animated Series themselves packed a bigger punch than this film did.
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Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker 2000

I’m continuing my month of animated movies switching back and forth between animation for adults, and those for younger audiences. While this isn’t exactly a kid’s film, it did spawn off of the great era of DC Animation on television starting off with Batman: The Animated Series. It was a show that while I don’t have clear memories of when I watched it, whether it was right after coming home from school or during those Saturday mornings while I was an early teen even on through my later teens, though I didn’t quite follow the show into the Batman Beyond era. I know I’ve seen a few episodes and watching this film again it reeked with familiarity, but there was never anything specific that I could put my finger on. The flashback scene also brought back more memories of the series I did watch, and overall it went quite a bit darker than I would have expected and like the series before it, Return of the Joker was a solid Batman story on par with some of the best animated movies they’ve released in recent years. And while I don’t usually mention this for older movies, since there is a large mystery aspect to this film’s story I will be discussing the reveal so don’t read if you’d rather watch the mystery unfold for yourself.
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Lego Justice League: Gotham City Breakout

Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League Gotham City Breakout 2016

This is the latest in one of the many DC animated series that have been coming from Warner bros, typically all focused on either Batman or the Justice League. It follows the same general pattern where it’s much more kid friendly than the Warner Premier PG-13 movies, but it also has a lot more humor that adults will get a kick out of unlike the Batman Unlimited series. It seems like this one really cranked the jokes up to 11, especially if you’re a longtime fan of Batman with several references to the Adam West series and two plots going on at once which keep things going at a near breakneck pace. So far, this has been my favorite of all the Lego DC movies and a lot of fun, especially if you have kids.

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Batman vs. Superman

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

In the past couple years there hasn’t been many other films that have had the amount of buzz and hype that this film has had next to Star Wars and Civil War. And once the early reviews hit, they hit pretty hard. So even though I technically saw this film on opening day, I went in with a whole lot of trepidation. As far as my history with Zack Snyder, I’m generally more in favor of his films than against. While I haven’t seen his first feature film, Dawn of the Dead, I have enjoyed more than I haven’t. In fact the only film of his that I’ve actively disliked was Sucker Punch. And while Batman vs. Superman is weighed down by some of his shortcomings, there was enough mystery and nuance to the film that I enjoyed seeing where it was going. It mainly suffered from two things: it constantly mired itself in artistic flourishes to make it feel like it’s tackling serious topics rather than two guys in costumes fighting each other, and like Age of Ultron it had to spend a lot of time making it known that there’s connective tissue linking it to other films coming in the future. Finally, as is usually the case there may be spoilers ahead so tread carefully if you are worried about that sort of thing.
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Is Warner Bros. Relying Too Heavily on Batman?

I’ve been meaning to write on this topic for quite a while now, but since recently it came out in the news that next year’s Batman vs. Superman is supposedly even less a sequel to Man of Steel than we initially suspected and is much more a Batman story. But even if you discount the whole Batman vs. Superman issue, there’s still the matter of what they’re doing with their home video releases. This year alone, Warner Bros. have released seven straight-to-video animated movies and one more that’s due before the year’s out. Every single one of them features Batman in some way, shape, or form, and half of them have him specifically in the title of the film as the main character. You have to go back four years to 2011 to find a year where Batman made up less than half of that year’s line-up, having only Batman: Year One released alongside the other actually non-Batman titles All Star Superman, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, and the live action Green Lantern.
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