“Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” is a sequel to “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” which was a sequel to “Batman: Bad Blood” so don’t worry, it all ties to Batman. Like pretty much everything DC Comics these days, it’s all about Batman, and “The Judas Contract” compensates for the lack of Batman by including both Robins. Not only do we get a look at Dick Grayson as Robin when he led the Titans, but we also go to modern times where Grayson is now Nightwing. Damian Wayne is Robin now, and is a member of the Teen Titans. So that Batman flavor DC banks on is still there, even if Batman never shows up. “The Judas Contract” is an adaptation of one of the most iconic comic book storylines of all time, as the Teen Titans confront a traitor in their midst. Sam Liu’s animated adaptation is weak and limp, and often times bereft of entertainment value. And I say that as someone who genuinely loves the character Nightwing.
Near as I can figure, “The Boss Baby” is about a young boy with a wild imagination who uses his daydreams and fantasies to exaggerate life. When he learns of a new baby entering his household and ruining his rituals, he basically has a psychotic break. He imagines a humongous scenario where nothing makes sense, nothing is funny, and the baby about to enter his house is a part of a bigger purpose. It’s not just replacing him, but is a businessman on a mission who has more intellect than he can ever hope to have. “The Boss Baby” wouldn’t be so bad if it were just a derivative take on “Look Who’s Talking Too” or “The Rugrats Movie.” It just gets bogged down in to so much stale comedy and convoluted storytelling it becomes white noise.
In the nineties, Hercules and Xena garnered humongous fan bases that were vocal and loud. And this was long before the internet became a common facet in every home in the world. Hercules begat Xena and Xena became the more popular of the pairing, with Hercules still showing up every so often to remind us that, yes, Kevin Sorbo was still on his journeys as the half god. Both series were so big they even prompted a ton of merchandise, including a prequel TV series aimed at kids starring a very young Ryan Gosling, and this animated action movie, which barely clocks in at eighty minutes. I’m not sure if this movie is even considered canon, but it is Hercules and Xena together again, fighting evil Titans and trying to stop the evil Goddess Hera.
The first time I ever saw “Mortal Kombat” was in 1992 when I stopped by a grocery store on the way to school and saw a pair of guys battling one another on the arcade cabinet. Though “Street Fighter 2” was huge, “Mortal Kombat” made its own waves by realistic character models and some of the most vicious video game violence ever conceived in its era. So came the 1995 movie where not even then was there this much babbling about supernatural forces, and tournaments. “The Journey Begins” works overtime to build a mythology from this simple video game, and fails big time. It feels like someone at Threshold Studios were alerted about the upcoming movie and only had about two weeks to build a respectable animated tie-in.
BOOTLEG FILES 584: “How Did You Happen to Get Snoopy, Charlie Brown?” (2017 fan film based on the Charles M. Schulz characters).
LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The unauthorized use of copyright-protected characters.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.
There has been so much talk about childhood bullying in recent years that it is difficult not to recognize the role that Charles M. Schulz played in encouraging this negative environment. Yes, the creator of the long-running and beloved “Peanuts” comic strip used the concept of casual bullying as a light comedy theme focused on the character Charlie Brown. But let’s face it, the idea of a young boy constantly being harassed and insulted for his alleged stupidity, lack of personality, lack of athletic ability and overall clumsiness is not exactly hilarious in principle – and the fact that Charlie Brown’s tormentors are never punished or are very rarely remorseful for their malice is equally problematic.
Sam Liu’s “The Judas Contract” is both a sequel to “Justice League vs. Teen Titans,” and an adaptation of perhaps one of the most iconic storylines in comic book history. And, I’ll just say it: The animated series of “Teen Titans” accomplished this storyline so much better. With “The Judas Contract” we’re given literally eighty four minutes to know, understand and empathize with the Teen Titans and perhaps feel a twinge of shock when they’re betrayed by a close ally. With the animated series, we were given so much more build up and time to understand the betrayal of Terra, as well as dodge all the creepy pedophilia overtones between villain Deathstroke and his assistant. The animated series allowed for a lot of build up and when Terra does make her descent in to the dark side it stings so much that even levelheaded Raven begins to shed a tear.
BOOTLEG FILES 580: “Detective Felix in Trouble” (1932 Japanese amateur animated short).
LAST SEEN: A video of this rare film is online at the Japanese Animated Film Classics website.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The unauthorized use of the Felix the Cat character.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely at this time.
Today, it seems that anyone with a video camera and a mania for popular movies can make their own fan film based on the latest multiplex hit. But the concept of the fan film is not new, by any stretch. The earliest known fan film was a 1925 short “Anderson’s Own Gang Comedy,” a South Carolina-lensed riff on the Our Gang series.
Being an artist is tough work. Not only do you have to work very hard to hone your craft, and perfect it, but you also have to fight to be taken seriously. Jeremy Weinstein’s chronicle of his brother’s life as a Jazz Musician is a funny and charming slice of life and how a talented Jazz Musician finds himself on the end of man condescending remarks.