Behind the Mask: The Batman Dead End Story (2017)

Eric Dow’s “Behind the Mask” should be seen by every aspiring filmmaker out there as a course on how to navigate Hollywood and how to basically approach any kind of endeavor involving the Hollywood system. Sandy Collora is a consistently fascinating and interesting artist who has been making waves online for years thanks to his amazing special effects and consistent efforts to get a movie made. He’s also one of the forefathers of the fan film who helped make fan films not only legitimate works of cinematic art, but also a cause for Hollywood to take notice. Sandy Collora, for those unaware, is a brilliant and talented special effects artist who spent years hoping to emulate his favorite creators including Batman artist Neal Adams.

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In Memory of Adam West

Adam West was always one of those actors who was there popping in and out of my life, entertaining me since I was old enough to remember. Two of the main reasons why I formed such a humongous obsession with superheroes and comic books were because of “The Super Friends” and the Adam West version of “Batman.” Adam West had the classic movie idol looks with the chiseled features and swept back brown hair, and for such a very long time he was Batman. By day he was, of course, a millionaire and playboy known as Bruce Wayne who hung out with his ward Dick Grayson, but by night he’d slide down the pole alongside his sidekick and transform in to Batman. Batman was a crime fighter who wore spandex and a cape and cowl that bore penciled in eyebrows.

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Batman & Bill (2017)

For a long time, debates have raged in the art world about what can be considered creating a property and who can be credited as a true creator of a creative property. For decades, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko were feuding over who were the rightful mind behind Spider-Man, as Lee insisted Spider-Man was his idea, while Ditko insisted he conceptualized Spider-Man, thus making him the creator. What “Batman & Bill” seeks to do is boldly putting an end to the debate that’s been raging in the comic book medium for almost a century. Directors Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce simultaneously tells the tragic and often heartbreaking story of Bill Finger, the long uncredited creator of Batman, and how a man named Bob Kane stole everything Finger ever had from the credit, and the massive profits, right down to the very essence of his self-respect.

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Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017) – Deluxe Edition (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital)

“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.

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Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017)

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.

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Justice League/Power Rangers

If you want to talk about weird team ups of 2017 in comic books, it’s tough to come across any weirder than Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the Justice League. It takes a lot of exposition, but the crossover with both teams is entertaining enough in that the writers find a good balance between both properties. The Power Rangers at Boom Studios are now dramatic enough in their own series to work alongside the Justice League, while the Justice League are considered somewhat bright enough to work alongside the Power Rangers. This could be a good platform to mock the Power Rangers and give the Justice League considerable credibility, but thankfully both teams manage to take the piss out of one another quite often.

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The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

“Batman works alone. That’s my motto. Copyright Batman.”

2014’s “The Lego Movie” surprised fans two fold, not just by being an excellent movie, but by turning Batman in to one of the funniest supporting characters in an animated movie since—well ever. “The Lego Batman Movie” initially had me very skeptical as to how far they could stretch the hilarious side character in to his own feature film, and shocking enough Lego Batman’s spin off is fantastic. It’s laugh out loud funny, very clever, and has a bonafide appeal to both hardcore fans and new audiences looking for a giggle or two. Like the original movie that spawned it, “The Lego Batman Movie” garners a myriad absurdity and off the wall hilarity that will keep many viewers laughing almost non-stop, but the writing team also injects a lot of heart. While Batman is a self confident, obnoxious, egomaniac in love with his own vigilante persona, he’s also a man who doesn’t realize much of it is hollow without a family or someone to lean on.

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Justice League Dark (2017): Limited Edition Gift Set [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

Setting aside that DC pretty much slaps Batman in to their newest film, “Justice League Dark” is actually a fun celebration of the supernatural element from DC Comics. Taking a much needed peek in to the darker universe from DC, “Justice League Dark” is an adaptation of the acclaimed graphic novel, involving supernatural characters from DC who team up to take on a threat beyond the capabilities of Superman and Wonder Woman. “Justice League Dark” is a fairly well realized horror take on the DC universe that suffers, sadly, from a short run time. With a group of characters filled with such immense, and complex back stories and amazing powers, it’s sad “Justice League Dark” is only allotted a scant eighty minute run time. John Constantine alone deserves a thirty minute introduction.

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