Tag Archives: Frank Miller

The Punisher: No Mercy (2013, Jason Ambrus)

About half of The Punisher: No Mercy is effective. From the credits, it appears the fan short is a labor of love for star Shawn Baichoo–who apes Karl Urban’s voice from Dredd, which doesn’t work here. Baichoo cowrote the script and choreographed the fight scene between himself and Amber Goldfarb.

The fight scene isn’t very good. It’s hard to tell if it’s the choreography, Jason Ambrus’s lackluster action direction or James Malloch’s decidedly limp editing. Mercy, throughout, has terrible sound effects. They should have splurged for a better sound effects CD.

The script’s multi-layered, which is almost neat. The problem is that fight scene. It takes up most of the second half and between the boring fight and Goldfarb’s terrible performance (not to mention it’s all on a confined set)… the short loses all momentum.

Mercy shows talented amateur filmmaking; it’s too bad it’s a waste of time.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jason Ambrus; screenplay by Shawn Baichoo and Davila LeBlanc, based on the Marvel Comics characters created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Jr., Frank Miller and Ross Andru; director of photography, Jean-Maxim Desjardins; edited by James Malloch; music by Shayne Gryn; produced by Baichoo and Amber Goldfarb.

Starring Shawn Baichoo (Frank Castle), Amber Goldfarb (Elektra Natchios), James Malloch (Dominic Duran) and Giancarlo Caltabiano (Rizzo).


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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (2013, Jay Oliva)

The strong parts of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 make the weak ones often easy to ignore. But nothing’s strong enough to overcome the weakest spots. First is the misogyny. I assume it’s straight from the comic. The filmmakers chose to embrace it (the fidelity to the source material is a lot of Part 2’s problem); it’s obvious–the new, female police commissioner ignores her smarter male elder juxtaposed against the new, female Robin who embraces hers–and tiring. Director Oliva really enjoys showing Batman punch out women too.

The second problem is Michael Emerson as the Joker. He’s awful and turns half of Part 2 into something of a waste of time. It has no emotional impact. Oliva’s action direction, Christopher Drake’s score and Christopher D. Lozinski’s editing are fantastic throughout. Part 2 is a great visual experience.

The second half has Mark Valley’s Superman and Valley does a fine job voicing him. Screenwriter Bob Goodman–and Miller–portray Superman as Reagan’s goon (the film keeps the eighties setting and Ronnie as the president), which doesn’t give Valley much to do, but he does well with what he’s got.

Peter Weller’s still good as Batman; but he too has little to do. He has maybe three real scenes in the entire runtime. Ariel Winter’s a little better as Robin than she was before, but maybe just because she’s in it less.

The filmmakers stick to the source material. They don’t improve it; it definitely needs improving.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Jay Oliva; screenplay by Bob Goodman, based on the comic book by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson and the character created by Bob Kane; edited by Christopher D. Lozinski; music by Christopher Drake; released by Warner Premiere

Starring Peter Weller (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Ariel Winter (Robin / Carrie Kelley), Michael Emerson (Joker), David Selby (Commissioner Gordon), Maria Canals-Barrera (Ellen Yindel), Mark Valley (Superman / Clark Kent), Michael Jackson (Alfred Pennyworth), Carlos Alazraqui (Congressman Noches), Tress MacNeille (Selina Kyle), Michael McKean (Dr. Bartholomew Wolper), Conan O’Brien (David Endocrine), Paget Brewster (Lana Lang), Frank Welker (Mayor Stevenson), Robin Atkin Downes (Oliver) and Jim Meskimen as the President of the United States.


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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (2012, Jay Oliva)

It’s interesting to hear Peter Weller voice Batman in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (is that title long enough?) since Dark Knight Returns, the comic, always felt like Batman meets Robocop. Not so much because of the tone, but because Frank Miller uses media intercuts to flesh out the setting just like Robocop does. In the film, director Oliva does the same thing. He and screenwriter Bob Goodman keep it all… even when the story turns into Miller’s fascist daydreams.

The film’s best at the beginning, with Weller and David Selby (as Commissioner Gordon) deal with aging. And then the return of Batman is well-done; the real stars of Returns, besides Weller, are director Oliva, composer Christopher Drake and editor Christopher D. Lozinski. They imagine Batman as an unstoppable slasher movie villain–Drake’s score even has the seventies synthesizers going–and the film transcends its low budget animation.

The problems arise once the story of Part 1 begin, which involve Batman fighting a big gang. Gary Anthony Williams voices the gang’s leader, so you have an obviously black guy voicing a big white skinhead. There’s a real disconnect.

Goodman’s script faithfully–at least as I recall–the comic, meaning the character development makes all sorts of silly jumps and the pacing is weak. The script gleefully wallows in Miller’s anti-progressiveness, like it alone will make Returns daring.

Weller and Oliva nearly make the entire thing worthwhile, but even they can’t combat the script’s insipid plot developments.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Jay Oliva; screenplay by Bob Goodman, based on the comic book by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson and the character created by Bob Kane; edited by Christopher D. Lozinski; music by Christopher Drake; released by Warner Premiere.

Starring Peter Weller (Bruce Wayne / Batman), David Selby (Commissioner Gordon), Ariel Winter (Carrie Kelley / Robin), Wade Williams (Harvey Dent / Two-Face), Michael Jackson (Alfred), Gary Anthony Williams (Mutant Leader), Michael McKean (Dr. Bartholomew Wolper), Paget Brewster (Lana Lang) and Richard Doyle as the Mayor.


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Batman: Year One (2011, Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery)

Batman: Year One should be much, much better. As it stands, as animated adaptation of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s comic books, it’s a fantastic proof of concept. It’s no surprise, given much has already been adapted, albeit uncredited, into Batman Begins. I guess Christopher Nolan doesn’t know how to cite.

But co-directors Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery are so reverential of the source material, they don’t seem to realize certain obvious things… like having a date appear every thirty seconds, as it does in some sequences, doesn’t work in a moving picture like it does in a comic book.

It’s a period piece, set in 1983 or so, which should be great, but the animation’s cheap and often lifeless. The car tires usually don’t move.

It should be better.

But it’s well cast for the most part. Bryan Cranston, as someday Commissioner Gordon, is amazing. He sells the first person narration and he sells the dramatic dialogue sequences. As Batman, Ben McKenzie’s earnestness works for the narration, though he doesn’t make the talking scenes work. Year One, as a movie or a comic book, isn’t about Batman talking.

Jon Polito and especially Fred Tatasciore are good as bad guys. Alex Rocco isn’t. Eliza Dushku’s Catwoman’s without presence (and her character has been whitewashed in terms of skin tone from the comic).

Christopher Drake’s music practically does the whole thing in occasionally.

The adaptation often reminds of the excellent comics. But as a standalone piece, Year One’s lacking.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery; screenplay by Tab Murphy, based on comic books by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli and characters created by Bob Kane; edited by Margaret Hou; music by Christopher Drake; produced by Montgomery; released by Warner Premiere.

Starring Bryan Cranston (Lieutenant James Gordon), Ben McKenzie (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Eliza Dushku (Selina Kyle), Jon Polito (Commissioner Loeb), Alex Rocco (Carmine Falcone), Katee Sackhoff (Detective Sarah Essen), Fred Tatasciore (Detective Flass), Jeff Bennett (Alfred Pennyworth), Grey DeLisle (Barbara Gordon), Liliana Mumy (Holly Robinson) and Stephen Root (Branden).


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