Movie Review: Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)

If you’ve followed my blog for an extended amount of time, then you’re probably aware that I have a certain fondness for animated movies based on DC superhero comics. I tend to watch them all, and review a lot of them. And today we’re doing just that. So here we go!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War”!

After the Justice League fails to defeat the alien despot Darkseid (Tony Todd), the world turns into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. And with the League basically gone at this point, it’s up to a ragtag gang of remaining heroes and villains to team up to make one final attempt at stopping the alien dictator. So this is basically the big, “everything looks dire” finale to this specific universe of animated films. And you can really feel that the crew of this movie are taking a big swing at giving us an emotionally satisfying finale to this universe that they’ve kept going since 2014. And I think they succeeded quite well. For only having a 90 minute runtime, they manage to get a lot of stuff in there without making any of it feel forced. As the title implies, we get to see a little more of the Dark League, especially since John Constantine (Matt Ryan) more or less acts as the main character here. We get the Suicide Squad involved, we get payoffs from the Teen Titans stuff from other movies. They somehow manage to involve payoffs from pretty much all branches of this movie universe, and it all works marvelously… for me as a fan who’s followed these films for years, at least. I felt satisfied with this wrap-up. It’s dark, it’s exciting, it’s fun, and it even got me a little emotional. It’s just a solid narrative.

The characters in this are colorful, fun, and surprisingly nuanced. We both get to see the personalities we’ve come to know (and mostly love) over the years as they are, but we also get to see a surprising amount of nuance and character development throughout that really made me care for them all much more. And since this is the big finale, they bring in the big guns on the cast. A lot of recognizable names, and all giving top notch voice performances. Matt Ryan, Jason O’Mara, Roger Cross, Tony Todd, Camilla Luddington, Jerry O’Connell, Taissa Farmiga, Stuart Allan, Ray Chase,Liam McIntyre, Rainn Wilson, and more all deliver their talents wonderfully.

As with a lot of the previous DC animated movies, the score for this one was composed by Frederik Wiedmann. And as per usual he knocked it out of the park. Of course he gives us the familiar superhero brass, but he also gives us a fair bit of somber pieces as well to really show how desperate the entire situation is for our heroes. And really, Wiedmann has never failed before, but this is still somehow his best work for this series.

Based on various comics from DC, “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” was directed by Matt Peters and Christina Sotta. And I think they did a terrific job. As with the story, you can tell that they were going all out on the directiong/animation on this one. Because out of all the movies in this animated universe, this is the best looking one. The animation is crisp, and everything flows beautifully. And this makes action scenes an absolute blast to watch. They also went all out on violence in this. People die… and not in nice ways. And that helps add some extra impact to fights. So yeah, the crew killed it.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.8/10.

I know some of you don’t care for these movies, but for me “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” was a satisfying and exciting finale to this specific run of DC animated features. It has a really good story, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” is a 9.78/10. Which of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Justice League Dark: Apokolips War” is now completed.

I’m really gonna miss looking forward to new movies in this series.

Movie Review: Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017)

The final movie review of 2017. The final post of 2017 in general. It’s been a fun year filled with cool stuff. So let’s end on a predictable note. Once again, I’m reviewing a DC animated movie. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Teen Titans: The Judas Contract”.

Nightwing (Sean Maher) rejoins the Teen Titans to help track down villainous cult leader Brother Blood (Gregg Henry) who seemingly has some sinister plan for the Titans. All while the loyalties of newest Titan member Tara (Christina Ricci) come into question. And that’s the best way I can explain the plot without spoiling stuff. But is this any good? Well, it’s not bad. They have some decent dramatic story bits, but I never got invested in any of it. There are interesting-ish twists, and there are some parts that made me go “yeah, that’s some good drama”. But when it comes to the whole picture I never found myself truly invested in it.

The characters here are decently interesting and entertaining. Sean Maher returns as Nightwing, the more fun version of Batman. He’s a cool, charming, and heroic badass that I enjoy following. And Maher is once again really good in the role. Kari Wahlgren returns as Starfire, the alien woman who also happens to be the leader of the Titans.  She’s fun, cool, and is just overall pretty interesting. And Wahlgren is really good in the role. Stuart Allan returns as Damian Wayne/Robin, son of Batman and former assassin apprentice. He’s come a long way since his total brat days, and he’s actually an endearing and interesting character. And Allan once again does a really good job in the role. Jake T. Austin is back as Blue Beetle, who gets a bit more development this time around since we learn more about his family relations and such, and it’s quite interesting. And Austin is really good in the role. Brandon Soo Hoo returns as Beast Boy, the shape-shifting fun guy of the group. And while he’s still mostly played as the slightly over-confident comic relief, he does get some decent dramatic moments here. And Soo Hoo is great in the role. Taissa Farmiga returns as Raven, the dark and quiet daughter of a demon. She doesn’t get as much to do as last time, but she’s still fairly interesting. And Farmiga is really good in the role. Then making her debut in these movies, we have Christina Ricci as Tara Markov/Terra, a young woman with a mysterious past (she can also control rocks, which is neat). She probably gets the most development in this movie, and it’s pretty interesting to follow. And Ricci is great in the role. Then we have Miguel Ferrer (may he rest in peace) as fan favorite character Deathstroke. Ferrer has such a commanding voice, so even when he has slightly less serious lines they come off as badass. Yeah, he’s great. Then you get a bunch of solid supporting performances from people like Gregg Henry, Maria Canals-Barrera, Meg Foster, Crispin Freeman, and more! Yeah, this is a well acted movie.

DC animation regular Frederik Wiedmann composed the score for this. And while it’s not his best, it’s still good. It’s fun and exciting and works quite well for all the scenes in the movie. Not much else I can say here.

Sam Liu is the director of this movie and I’d say the direction here is fine. There’s something about the animation here that makes it seem a little less good than usual. It’s not bad, but it seems to lack some of the detail and energy that previous movies have had. The action scenes are of course the best thing since they flow very well and are generally fun to watch. There’s also a lot of attempts at humor in this movie. Some land, some really don’t. For example, there’s a running gag in this movie that Beast Boy uses social media a lot (despite there being no indication of that in the previous movie he was in). It’s not the only out of place joke(s) in this movie, but it’s one of the more notable ones.

This movie (despite limited data on it) has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” isn’t really one of the best DC animated movies, but it’s still fairly enjoyable. It has an okay plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and okay directing/animation. My flaws (as previously mentioned) are that the plot isn’t the most engaging, the animation isn’t as good as usual, and some of the humor doesn’t land. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” is a 7,78/10. While flawed, it’s still definitely worth renting.

My review of “Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” is now completed.

I’ll give the movie this: It’s the first movie in this DC animated timeline to not feature Batman in any capacity. Oh, and happy new year… I guess.

Movie Review: Justice League vs. Teen Titans (2016)

It feels good to be back. Sure, it wasn’t long ago since my last post, but I haven’t done a normal review since like Wednesday last week. And what do you know, this review is of another DC animated movie… one of those things I always talk about here. So let’s get into it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Justice League vs. Teen Titans”.

After Robin (Stuart Allan) does something really dangerous during a mission with the Justice League, he gets sent to train with the Teen Titans to learn how to be part of a team. And soon the Titans have to truly prove themselves when the dangerous demon Trigon (Jon Bernthal) emerges to destroy the world. So now we have our plot. And I have to start out with mentioning that the title is quite misleading. Yes, there is a part of this movie that features the Justice League and the Teen Titans being at odds, but it’s quite a brief sequence. Misleading title aside, I thought this was a good plot. The main focus on this plot lies in Robin trying to be part of the team and also Raven (Taissa Farmiga) struggling with her own demons. And it’s actually pretty engaging. Now, there is a scene that doesn’t have much purpose here and actually feels both out of place and like it slows the pacing down a bit. But it doesn’t ruin the overall experience for me, and I do still think this is a really good plot.

The characters here are fun, cool, interesting, and entertaining. Stuart Allan reprises his role as Damien Wayne/Robin from the previous DC animated movies, and Damien is still a bit of a brat, but not to an annoying length. He is actually decently compelling. And Allan is great in the role. Taissa Farmiga plays Raven, the closed-off and mysterious young woman with dark magical powers. And while Farmiga seems like she might be a bit bored at first, you can quickly gather that she’s just pulling off the quiet, closed-off style of Raven quite well. So yeah, she’s good. Then we have Kari Wahlgren as Starfire, the leader of the Titans. She’s tough, slightly naive, brave, and kind. And Wahlgren is great in the role. Then we have Jake T. Austin as Jaime Reyes/Blue Beetle, a young man with some strange alien tech fused to his spine. He’s funny, he’s tough, and he’s just really interesting. And Austin does a really good job in the role. Then we have Brandon Soo Hoo as Garfield Logan/Beast Boy, a young man with the ability to transform into a whole bunch of animals. He’s used mainly for funny moments and cool action beats throughout, but I think that also works well for the character. And Brandon Soo Hoo is good in the role. Then we have Jon Bernthal as Trigon, the demonic antagonist of the movie. He doesn’t talk too much in the movie, and he does have some modifications to his voice. But you can still hear that it is Bernthal, and he is intimidating in the role. Then we have Jason O’Mara, Rosario Dawson, Jerry O’Connell, Shemar Moore, Christopher Gorham, and Sean Maher reprising their roles from previous animated movies (to a more supporting capacity), and they all do very well in their roles. Overall, this is a well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by DC animation regular Frederik Wiedmann. And once again he has composed a score that is fun, dramatic, interesting, and just generally exciting. It works quite well for the movie, often elevating certain scenes. There are also a couple of licensed tracks used in a couple scenes in the movie, and they work fine I guess.

This movie was directed by Sam Liu, and he did a really good job here. His direction here is fast and energized without sacrificing any of the smaller, more quiet moments. And the animation in general here looks great (for such a small budget), with it being very fluent and just overall good looking. And the action scenes are a lot of fun. They’re fast, badass, fun, cool, and quit epic. There’s also a decent amount of humor in this movie, and for the most part it landed.

There’s barely any data on the sites I usually use for this. On Rotten Tomatoes it exists but has no rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t exist at all. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

Misleading title aside, “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” is a damn good DC animated movie. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, really good music, and really good directing/animation/humor. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” is a 9,64/10. This of course means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” is now completed.

Why not just call it “Teen Titans: Terror of Trigon”? Would’ve made more sense.

Movie Review: In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Something, something… Markus likes westerns… something, something… let’s get into it!

Ladies and gents… “In a Valley of Violence”.

The story of this movie follows a mysterious wanderer (Ethan Hawke) who experiences a horrific act of violence. And then he goes on a hunt to find and take out the people responsible. It’s a very simple western revenge plot, and it really never needed to be anything more. Sometimes you don’t need an overly complicated plot or a plot touching on the themes of morality and/or the psychology of the characters. This plot is exactly what it needed to be… a highly enjoyable western revenge tale. Original? Nope. Good? Hell yes.

The characters in this movie, while not very deep, are all interesting and entertaining. Ethan Hawke is great as the main guy. His character is also probably the deepest, because thye actually give him a backstory and clear motivations. And Hawke gave us a great performance. John Travolta plays the Marshal of the town that most of the movie is set and he was actually really good. Sure, he never gets to do anything that truly stretches his acting muscles, but he still did well in the role. James Ransone plays Travolta’s son/the man that makes Ethan Hawke go on the hunt for the assholes responsible, and he was really good. His character is set up to be a big cunt, and Ransone played that very well. Taissa Farmiga plays a young woman Hawke more or less befriends in the movie, and she was really good. Karen Gillan is in the movie, playing the wife of James Ransone’s character, and she was really good in the role. Then we have Larry Fessenden as Roy, a member of Ransone’s crew, and how do I put it… his character was really over-the-top and Fessenden was just a million flavors of fun in the role. And we also have Burn Gorman as a preacher that pops up at a few times in the movie, and he was really good in the role. All actors did a really solid job in the movie!

The original score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace and it was great. It is a mix of both old and new. Let me explain. The composition shares similarities to scores from Ennio Morricone’s old western scores. But it also shares a few similarities with some more modern scores, à la “The Assassination of Jesse James” or “Sicario”. And it all fit the movie very well, often making scenes more intense while being overall well composed.

This movie was directed by Ti West and I think he did a great job. What I like most about it feels like an old-school 1960s western. The shots just feel like something from Sergio Leone. Now, it’s not quite as great as Leone’s stuff, I’m just trying to find a suitable comparison. But yeah, it’s like an old western but with better camera/sound equipment and more blood. So yes, this is a pretty violent movie. When people get shot, there’s blood. Not as much as in maybe “Django Unchained”, but there’s definitely more blood than in a fair amount of other westerns. And for anyone possibly wondering, I am not using any of these comparisons to make this movie seem smaller/worse than it is… just trying to find good ways to explain certain elements of it.

This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,0/10.

“In a Valley of Violence” is a really solid old-school western. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Bang!*. My final score for “In a Valley of Violence” is a 9,78/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “In a Valley of Violence” is now completed.

Gotta say, 2016 was a pretty good year for westerns. “Magnificent Seven”, “Hell or High Water”, and “In a Valley of Violence”…