REVIEW: BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE

CAST

Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mark Hamill (The Flash)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes Top Rome)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
JP Karliak (Skylanders)
Andrew Kishino (SUperman Vs The Elite)
Nolan North (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Maury Sterling (The A-Team)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Bruce Timm (Batman: Year One)
Anna Vocino (Free Radio)
Kari Wahlgren (Justice League vs Teen Titans)

On patrol, Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) fails to stop a robbery, but manages to stop one fleeing criminal with help from Batman. Unknown to Batgirl, the robbers’ leader and the nephew of crime lord Francesco named Paris Franz develops a dangerous obsession with her. As she starts receiving messages from Franz, Batman shares his concerns that she is not taking the situation seriously. After Franz tricks her into finding his uncle’s dead body, Batman becomes even more concerned about her safety and takes her off the case. Outraged, Batgirl starts attacking Batman both verbally and physically. She eventually subdues him, shares a kiss with him, and they have sex. The next night, Batgirl tries to apologize to Batman, but he is ambushed by Franz and his men prompting her to go to his aid. When she arrives, she fights Franz and beats him, but relents from killing him. Realizing Batman was right, she retires from crime-fighting.

Sometime later, Batman investigates a murder scene with Detective Harvey Bullock and concludes that Joker, currently held at Arkham Asylum, might be behind the crime. He goes to Arkham to talk to him, only to discover that he had escaped and put Franz as a decoy in his place. He then learns that Joker attacked Barbara and her father Commissioner James Gordon, shooting and permanently paralyzing her in front of Gordon before kidnapping the latter. Joker takes Gordon to an amusement park where he strips the Commissioner naked and subjects him to torture, showing him photos he took of Barbara after shooting her and stripping her as well.

While the present-day story progresses, flashbacks are used to explain Joker’s origins. It is revealed that he was an engineer who quit his job at a chemical company to become a stand-up comedian, only to fail miserably. Desperately trying to support his pregnant wife Jeannie, he agrees to guide two criminals through his former workplace at the chemical plant in order to rob a card company next door. In turn, the criminals tell him that he has to use the Red Hood’s mask and caped costume, intending to frame him. During the planning, the police inform him that Jeannie and her baby both died in a household accident. Grief-stricken, he tries to withdraw from the plan, but the criminals talk him into keeping his commitment to them.

At the plant, the criminals have him don the red mask and cape. Once inside, they run into security personnel, and a shootout occurs. The criminals are gunned down and the engineer is confronted by Batman, who is investigating the disturbance. Terrified, the engineer trips and falls into the chemical plant’s waste pound, managing to escape Batman in the process, and is swept through a pipe leading to the outside. Once outside, he realizes that the chemicals have permanently bleached his skin chalk-white, stained his lips ruby-red, and dyed his hair bright green. The entire ordeal, combined with Jeannie’s death, drives him into madness and leads him to become the Joker.

Back in the present day and after many unsuccessful attempts, Batman manages to find Gordon after Joker sends him a clue that leads him to the amusement park. He saves Gordon while the Joker retreats into the funhouse. Despite his ordeals, Gordon remains sane and he demands Batman to capture Joker “by the book”. Batman follows Joker through the funhouse as Joker tries to persuade him that the world is just one big joke and thus not worth fighting for. He also states that just one bad day is enough to drive an ordinary man insane, and mocks Batman by correctly guessing that it was one bad day that drove Batman into becoming a vigilante.

Batman eventually subdues the Joker, tells him that Gordon remained stable despite everything he suffered, and concludes that Joker is alone in his madness. He then attempts to reach out to Joker, offering his help in rehabilitation in order to put an end to their everlasting fight, which Batman fears may one day result in their deaths. Joker declines, commenting it is too late for Batman to help him. He then says that the situation reminds him of a joke which he proceeds to tell. Batman starts laughing at the punch line accompanying Joker’s maniacal laughter as the screen cuts to black.

In a mid-credits scene, Barbara is in her wheelchair entering a secret room in her apartment. As she turns on the computers, Oracle’s logo appears on the screen.

A Good adaption. I enjoyed the added scenes to the story. The animation and voice acting is good. The movie has been criticized because people nowadays don’t seem to understand that men will behave like men such as the sex scene with batgirl and batman or the sexual implications in some joker scenes. Overall I found it to be very good but watch it yourself and make up your own mind about it.

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REVIEW: BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT

CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
George Newbern (Justice League)
Alanna Ubach (Legally Blonde 2)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Gary Dourdan (CSI)
Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Parminder Nagra (Bend It Like Beckham)

Gotham Knight does something a little bit different from before. Basically this is a collection of six short films, all produced by different, independent Japanese Manga studios. The premise of the films is that they take place in-between Batman Begins and its sequel The Dark Knight. While no major events happen, the stories are separate, very enjoyable one-offs with a continuity that nicely links them all together. Right away, the whole thing screams `Animatrix’, and like The Animatrix, it gets a lot of stuff right. First of all, is the fact that they’ve brought in Kevin Conroy to reprise his role as the voice of Batman. And it’s as though nothing’s changed at all. Conroy has still got it, the darkness, the brooding, the menace; his Batman remains as perfect as it ever was.Another merit for Gotham Knight is that they’ve brought in such acclaimed talent like David Goyer, Brian Azzarello, Alan Burnett, Greg Rucka, Josh Olsen and Jordan Goldberg to write the different stories, and they all deliver some cracking stuff, each pinning down the basics of what makes the Batman (and Bruce Wayne) such a fascinating character; the urban myth of the Dark Knight, his relationship with the police, his `mask’ as Bruce Wayne, the road he embarked on to become what he is, his war against crime, the developing and refinement of his technology, hard learning curves and his code of honour.

The films also use the continuity established by Batman Begins to great and creative effect. Along the way, we see how great the ramifications of the events in Batman Begins truly are. The Arkham Asylum breakout making the whole Narrows island abandoned to madness is such a haunting premise, along with the Scarecrow’s reign of terror and still-at-large threat. The realistic approach established by Batman Begins is also utilised brilliantly, as we get fantastic incarnations of Killer Croc and the assassin Deadshot to provide the Dark Knight a real challenge.As for the supporting cast, we obviously have our favourites Lt. James Gordon (now in full swing with his alliance to Batman) and Alfred. We also have Detective Crispus Allen (a great favourite of mine from the comics) and Detective Anna Ramirez (a new character that appears in The Dark Knight). Both characters are used very well in the films, becoming nicely established as a result. Lucius Fox also plays a guest role here, and his sardonic friendship with Bruce Wayne is mirrored to great effect. We also have local crime bosses Sal Maroni and The Russsian serving as minor antagonists, with their war acting as a good little sub-plot. The writing is excellent, soundtrack is excellent and the voice-work goes without question. But how does the animation fare overall? I have a great deal of respect for Anime and the whole Manga style. While it personally isn’t my favourite, it can be truly spectacular.It’s a great tie-in product to the film franchise.

REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT


CAST

Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Heath Ledger (A Knights Tale)
Michael Caine (Quills)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Morgan Freeman (High Crimes)
Aaron Eckhart (I, Frankenstein)
Monique Gabriela Curnen (Lie To Me)
Cillian Murphy (Inception)
Chin Han (Arrow)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)
Eric Roberts (Amityville Death House)
Anthony Michael Hall (The Dead Zone)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Colin McFarlane (Doctor Who)
Michael Jai White (Spawn)
William Fichtner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

A Gotham City mob bank is robbed by a group of thugs wearing clown masks. While doing the job, they double cross and kill each other one by one. The remaining thug reveals himself to be the Joker and leaves with the money. District attorney Harvey Dent leads a campaign against the organized crime in the city, to the applause of its citizens. Through Gordon, he requests to collaborate with Batman, and lends Gordon a petitioned search warrant for five banks with suspected mob ties. Wayne Enterprises cancels its deals with Chinese accountant Lau as CEO Lucius Fox questions Lau’s legality. Bruce Wayne intrudes on Dent’s date with Rachel Dawes and offers to support the DA through a fundraiser.

Mob leaders Maroni, Gambol and the Chechen holds a videoconference with Lau, who has taken their funds and fled to Hong Kong. The Joker interrupts, warns that Batman is unhindered by the law. He offers to kill Batman in exchange for half of their stolen money. Gambol instead puts a bounty on the Joker, but is killed by him shortly after. The mob ultimately decide to ask the Joker for help. Batman finds Lau in Hong Kong and brings him back to Gotham to testify against the mob, and Dent places 549 criminals in custody. On TV, the Joker threatens to keep killing people unless Batman reveals his identity. As part of Joker’s plan, Commissioner Loeb and the judge presiding the mob trials are killed. The Joker plans to kill Mayor Anthony Garcia at Commissioner Loeb’s funeral, but Gordon sacrifices himself to save him. Dent learns that Rachel is the next target.

Bruce decides to reveal his identity, but Dent publicly admits being Batman before Bruce does. Dent is taken into protective custody, but the Joker appears and attacks the convoy. Batman comes to Dent’s rescue and Gordon, who faked his death, arrests the Joker. With the Joker behind bars, Gordon is promoted to Commissioner. Rachel and Dent are escorted away by policemen who are controlled by Joker. Batman interrogates the Joker, who taunts him before revealing that Rachel and Dent have been trapped in separate locations rigged with explosives. Batman races to save Rachel, while Gordon and his men head off to save Dent. Batman arrives at the building, realizing that the Joker sent him to Dent’s location instead. As the building explodes, half of Dent’s face is burned and he is hospitalized. Gordon fails to save Rachel in time. The Joker escapes the jail with Lau.

Coleman Reese, an accountant at Wayne Enterprises, sees the Tumbler’s design in the company file. He publicly claims to know Batman’s identity. The Joker burns the mob’s money along with Lau, and kills the Chechen. In response to Reese’s claim, he states that he no longer wants to know who Batman is. He threatens to destroy a hospital if Reese isn’t dead, and Reese becomes a public target. Gordon orders the evacuation of all the hospitals in Gotham and go to secure Reese. The Joker finds Dent in a hospital and manipulates him into seeking revenge for Rachel’s death. He destroys the hospital and escapes with a bus of hostages. Dent goes on a killing spree, killing people responsible for Rachel’s death, including Maroni.

At night, two ferries are rigged with explosives; one ferry containing civilians and the other containing prisoners. The Joker promises to blow each of the ferries by midnight or if someone tries to escape, but will let one live if it blows up the other. The passengers refuse, and Batman and the SWAT raid the Joker’s building. Batman apprehends the Joker, who gloats that he has corrupted Dent and undone his achievements.  Gordon arrives at the building where Rachel died, where Dent threatens to kill Gordon’s son in revenge. Batman arrives, but Dent at shoots him. Before Dent can determine the fate of Gordon’s son with his coin, Batman tackles him off the building to his death. Batman persuades Gordon to preserve Dent’s image by holding Batman responsible for the murders. Gordon relents, and a manhunt for Batman ensues.

This sequel continues the darker style and throws more violence into the mix. Batman Begins was a great introduction to a new re-imagining, and Dark Knight makes things bigger and better making it one of the greatest comic book movies of all time.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 1

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Touch)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)
John Dorman (The Wire)
Victoria Cartagena (Salt)
Andrew Stewart -Jones (Beauty and The Beast)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Grayson McCouch (Armageddon)
Brette Taylor (Rescue Me)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Lili Taylor (The Conjuring)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
David Zayas (Dexter)
Jeremy Davidson (Roswell)
Margaret Colin (Independence Day)
Susan Misner (The Forgotten)
Kim Director (Blair Witch 2)
Christopher James Baker (Sanctum)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Final Destination 5)
Makenzie Leigh (The Slap)
Lesley-Ann Brandt (Spartacus: Blood and Sand)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Dash Mihok (Silver Linings Playbook)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Julian Sands (Smallville)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Jeffrey Combs (Star Trek: DS9)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
Willa Fitzgerald (Scream: The Series)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)

Gotham City has an old, relatively vague history independent of when Thomas and Martha Wayne were shot down in an alleyway, usually the first and primary thing that comes to mind about the motivation that drives Batman: the crime that got so bad that it took his good-natured parents away from him. The surroundings responsible for the billionaires’ murder weren’t created overnight, though, and intensified in response to their death, a time period that often goes unaddressed unless a detail about Bruce Wayne’s transformation into the brooding hero needs mentioning. As a response to the character’s unrelenting popularity the folks at DC aim to use that largely unexplored space to provide an origin story for the city’s violence and corruption, an attempt to recapture the magic of Smallville in a darker environment. The result is Gotham, a blend of crime-case procedure and mobster politics that also fills in the gaps between the orphaning of Bruce Wayne to where Batman begins.

Taking pages out of the playbook of the comic-book series “Gotham Central”, the show largely focuses on the interworking parts of the Gotham City Police Department, notably the arrival of rookie detective Jim Gordon in the midst of rampant corruption. The OC star Ben McKenzie brings initiative and fire to the character, a war veteran and straight-laced servant of the law who’s thrown together with a dirty partner in Harvey Bullock, whose sympathetic flaws are marvelously embodied by Donal Logue. Their first case together? The murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, later revealed to be connected to the city’s organized crime activity. In their investigation, Gordon quickly gets introduced to key players pulling the strings in Gotham, notably a swanky nightclub operator in Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and her aging, rational boss, Carmine Falcone (John Doman). Then, there’s Oswald Cobblepott (Robin Lord Taylor), an attendant to Fish whose wavering allegiances also come to the surface in response to Gordon and Bullock’s investigation, working him into a position of persistent danger and upward mobility if he plays his cards right.

Against the backdrop of a Gotham City that combines Tim Burton’s gothic vision with Christopher Nolan’s stark approach into a relatively timeless metro area, Gotham comes in hard and fast with its nods to the DC universe, eliminating any early concerns about how much of the mythology it’ll incorporate. In fact, the show actually suffers from an oversaturation of these references, especially in how many of the classic villains have benign links to the GCPD in their pasts and, quite simply, how many have already shown up and taken shape into their well-known personalities. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, nor with tweaking what’s known about the universe into its own continuity, but it does detract from the production succeeding as a credible prequel to the age of Batman — touted early on as a selling point for the show.

It’s fascinating to see the riddlesome Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) as an awkward, morbid Dexter-like puzzle-solver working in the precinct, and to see a young Catwoman giving prowler pointers to a young Batman not long after she witnessed the infamous Wayne murder.

The areas where Gotham works are within the politics of the GCPD and the evolving criminal element, and, by association, the origin stories of Jim Gordon’s fight against the department and The Penguin’s ascent up the crime ladder. Elevated by Gordon’s furious diligence against the powers-that-be who keep him from properly doing his job. Gotham is in a comfort zone while exploring maneuverings of Robin Lord Taylor’s brilliantly grimy performance as Oswald Cobblepott. Combining the knowledge that he’ll eventually become a massive player in Gotham with the unpredictable, volatile nature of his younger self exemplifies what a prequel can accomplish.

Gotham really exposes the crux of its issues in the origin story of Bruce Wayne, built around the young orphaned billionaire developing the gumption and skill to investigate his parents’ murder, planting the seeds for his growth into the Caped Crusader.

As Gotham grows in it’s first season it becomes fascinating show dealing with the city before Batman came along and as it heads into it’s second season who can truly see the show has found it’s footing and will hopefully be around for sometime to come.