Even in this day and age, 1992’s “Batman: The Animated Series” remains the definitive iteration of Bill Finger’s Batman. Combining all of the best elements from past Batman lore, Bruce Timm’s iconic animated series is a mature, often compelling take on the Dark Knight that’s action packed enough for children, but sophisticated enough for older audiences to appreciate. Timm approaches the Batman with enough care and delicate creativity to allow the character to flourish in a contemporary setting, embracing the fantasy elements of the character as well as basing a lot of the aspects of the character and his background in reality as much as possible.
Most of the time we get such a backlog of short films and feature length indie films that we work hard to take them all on and review them before the year is up. In what we hope will become a new feature, “Shorts Round Up of the Week” is a column where we’ll be reviewing a round up of short films of varying quality.
If you’d like to submit your short film for review consideration, submissions are always opened to filmmakers and producers.
I’ve come to terms with “Teen Titans Go!” and I’ve especially come to accept it thanks to the shockingly good feature film. If there was ever a time where the superhero movie genre was ripe for parody and satire it’s 2018, and “Teen Titans Go! to the Movies” manages to do it better than anyone else. For everyone that’s come before, attempting to mock the whole appeal of the sub-genre, “Teen Titans Go!” captures the whole appeal and absurdity of the superhero movie and the superhero mythology as a whole. It also manages to cater to the hardcore comic book buffs in the audience, inspiring some great laughs from obscure references.
Disney re-visits their staple of public domain tales with another visit with “The Nutcracker,” a ritual that’s annual for most movie studios. No matter what year it is, some studio thinks they can offer an artistic, original, or hip take on “The Nutcracker,” and every year it’s terrible. Even with Disney injecting the classic ballet with the spectacle of Robert Zemeckis, the eccentricity/whimsy of Tim Burton, and a vague cribbing from 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” (bordering on plagiarism), “The Nutcracker and The Four Realms” is a hollow effort to turn the musical composition in to a hit holiday movie. And perhaps a hit holiday movie franchise. You know they’ve focus grouped it and are planning parts two to seven, right now.
In 1953, “War of the Worlds” brought American audiences an alien foe that crash landed on Earth, and destroyed every inch of the world before it, before finally being defeated by irony. Don Siegel’s 1956 “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” has managed to garner as much influence, and some argue even more influence, mainly for creating an alien invader that’s so much more personal, private, and perverse. Not to mention so much cleverer than any human can outwit in the long run.
“Cell” was troubled from the moment it was optioned in to a movie. Rather than become a success tale like “It,” it instead was left to tread water as a limited release that was quietly tucked away on the VOD market, and is now a two dollar purchase on streaming services. It’s not surprising since “Cell” is a film that could have used a much better script, a lot more development, and about twenty more minutes in its run time. In its state it feels utterly incomplete, half baked and rushed, along with pairing two stars that, at their best, are magnificent and at their worst, make a good living phoning in (shut up) performances. Tod Williams had the chance to jump on the ball and really provide us with a frantic and scary commentary about our over reliance on technology, and he fails.
You could definitely call “Warning Sign” a precursor to “28 Days Later,” but the latter film just handles the premise so much better. Hal Barwood’s movie is a shockingly bland meshing of science fiction and horror that is never quite sure what it wants to be. Sometimes it’s a science fiction movie about government conspiracy and a top secret disease gone out of control, and other times it’s about three bystanders battling disease ridden rage induced zombies, and the undead. It bounces back and forth between grim science fiction to gruesome horror and feels so ill-conceived and poorly constructed.
In the decade that gave us “E.T.” and droids, “Short Circuit” introduces a hero that’s a little bit of both. “Short Circuit” is very much like “Chopping Mall” except when lightning strikes a military grade robot he becomes hyperactive and charming like Robin Williams. I wouldn’t call “Short Circuit” a childhood favorite but I fondly remember re-visiting the movie time and time again on network TV when I was a kid and didn’t hate it. In the spectrum of “Mac and Me,” and “E.T.,” its right there smack dab in the middle with “Batteries Not Included.”