Nerds of Oz: 26th May 2017

Week Ending 26th May 2017
New week, cool stuff!

Comics


From DC I grabbed the latest Harley Quinn, a comic I’m about to drop because, well basically, it’s terrible: uneven art, dumb stories. She so good in Suicide Squad and this comic just sucks, but the alternate Frank Cho covers are keeping me in.

Marvel are doing some ok stuff at the moment though. Seeing as how the new X-men series’ have been so good, this week I grabbed issue 1 of the revamped Generation X and issue 4 of X-men Gold, which unfortunately stars one of my most hated X-men Gambit. Yuk. Even though I am not a fan of Captain America’s turn as a Hydra Agent, I did grab this Secret Empire comic issues 1 and 2.


I really enjoyed that first collection of Naruto, so I grabbed the second one!

Partworks


Grabbed the next few issues of the Marvel Fact Files collection, and a new book from the Marvel Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection.

Books


The next issue of the 40,000 collection is out so I grabbed it!


Also, I have been collecting these ‘art of’ movie books for a while and the opportunity to get all four of the first, even though I was only missing Iron Man 1 and 2, for 70 dollars was a steal.

Toys


Classic Bruce Timm Harley as a hula girl from Cryptozoic: must have!

The Bye Bye Man (2017) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Bye Bye Man (2017)


Film: I’m an idiot.

No matter how much I don’t enjoy post-millennial ghost stories like The Conjuring and some of the other boring, by-the-numbers mainstream claptrap we have seen lately, I still think I should give new ones a go. I think that some helped by the allure of actors I like, like in this case Carrie-Anne Moss, Faye Dunaway and Doug Jones. It’s not an obsession, it’s just that in a world where in cinema we occasionally criticise sequels, remakes and adaptations for their lack of originality, I just hope that one of these new films will thrill or at least tell an interesting story.


Sadly, that hasn’t happened here with this quite bloodless, boring film, directed by Stacy Title, from a script written by her husband Jonathan Penner, and based on the book ‘The Bridge to Body Island’ by Robert Damon Schneck.

Our story introduces us to Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas) and their friend John (Lucien Laviscount), university students who have decided to take up residence off campus, financially assisted by Elliot’s scholarship.

They are free to use any of the furniture found in the abandoned house, and quickly address any problems that the house may have. 

One of those problems comes from when Elliot finds a bedside table that has written repeatedly ‘don’t say it, don’t think it’ in the drawer lining, and when Elliot removes it he finds the words ‘The Bye Bye Man’ engraved into the wood.

The problem with those four words is the insidious effect it has. Once there is knowledge of the Bye Bye Man, he can return from wherever he is to slowly drive those who know of his existences Mad with obscure and mentally damaging visions.

Very soon, and something we already knew through a few flashbacks, Elliot sees the only way to rid everyone of the plague that is the Bye Bye Man is to delete his existence, and existence that is only present in people’s minds… so those minds needs to be deleted, with extreme prejudice!


This story has basically taken the idea that the Nightmare on Elm Street films initially proposed of a supernatural existence that can only survive if there are people to believe in it, which in itself, comes from a philosophical theory that Gods need humans to praise them, because without a conscious entity to believe in them, they will perhaps cease to exist.

It’s also claimed that this is based on a true story of a group of friends and a haunted Ouija board in Wisconsin but me being a non-believer in the spirit world, I don’t believe it and that also doesn’t make the story better being based on a ‘true’ story.

The various actors in this film perform their roles ok, but the real bummer is the minimal screen time given to those that I actually wanted to watch the film for: probably barely 8 minutes altogether.

It’s also quite bloodless. There are occasions where you see the results of violence of people’s bodies or on the floor, but there are a couple of ‘shotgun violence’ scenes that perhaps there was an intention to add CGI blood and guts that was either forgotten or didn’t eventuate. These scenes are in flashbacks so maybe the director decided to make this scenes more ethereal and dreamlike, but more than likely they flat out ran our of money when it came time to cash some cheques. If dreamlike was the intention: that’s a massive fail.

Basically, another fancy new ghost story that fails on several counts… can we just go back to monsters or something please? Thanks.

Score: *


Format: This film was reviewed using the Australian region B bluray which runs for approximately 96 minutes. The film is presented in a perfect 1.85:1 widescreen image and an immaculate Master Audio. 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: Disappointingly, none. Even a ‘based on the true story’ sort of thing could have been amusing.

Score: 0

WISIA: Nup, and I’ll probably throw this one away.

Secret Origins: The Origin of DC Comics (2010) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Secret Origins: The Origins of DC Comics (2010)


Film: As of the date of this review, I have been a comics fan for 45 years. Every Sunday, as a child in the coastal town of Thirroul, my father would take me to the newsagency down the road so he could grab the Sunday paper, and we would return with a comic for me as well (and once a month, a Famous Monsters magazine), and that turned into a life long addiction to the panelled arts.

Ok, except for during the early nineties when the ‘Image look’ took over and every man and his dog was attempting to ‘draw’ like Rob Liefeld… yuk!

My first comic is emblazoned in my mind: issue 46 of Iron Man where he fought the Guardsman and I remember the cover well. In those days I didn’t know there was a ‘universe’ and I just read comics based on each individual issue. 


Sufficed to say I very quickly ended up with a collection of comics and even though my first comic was a Marvel one, in those days, it was DC that floated my boat, especially Superman and Batman.

…and still to this day I declare Superman to be the greatest hero of all, even though he is not created by my favourite comic creator, Jack Kirby: an artist whose talent I adore so much I even named my daughter after him!!

Anyway, DC comics always are close to my heart and I was so happy several years ago when I discovered this doco existed, along with its supporting doco, Necessary Evil, which explores the villains of DC comics, which are far more interesting as characters in general than the good guys.

This documentary, Secret Origins: The Origins of DC Comics, is narrated by Ryan Reynolds, and tells the of DC comics, and thoroughly explores the entire history: the ups and downs, the successful TV shows and films, the cartoons, the merchandise and the comics as well, but not just the history of the characters, also the creators, historians and all the business and style changes throughout the history.


This documentary features interviews with Karen Berger, Neil Adams, Frank Miller, Bob Kane, Marv Wolfman, Dwayne McDuffie, Neil Gaiman… just so many interviews, both new and archival, and all of them relevant and informative.

It also explores the legends of the greatest heroes of the DC Universe: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Watchmen, Swamp Thing and so many others.

The entire film is also illustrated with some of the finest art comics has to offer, and some awesome footage from the films and TV of DC, including some amazing behind the scenes stuff.

If you love DC comics, this is a must watch, and even if you just like any comics from any publisher, this is an incredibly informative and interesting look at the history of comics in general.

Score: *****


Format: The reviewed copy of this documentary was the American, region 1 DVD, which runs for approximately 90 minutes, and it is presented in a 1.80:1 widescreen, of varying quality due to some of the footage being archival, but the comic images and new footage and interviews are clean, and the audio in an excellent Dolby Digital 5.1.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: None, unfortunately.

Score: 0

WISIA: Being a comic and a documentary fan, this is a wonderful meeting of the two things, and gets watched possibly once a month.

Rest In Peace Rich Buckler

Comics artist Rich Buckler has tragically left us aged 68.

wonder woman

Buckler is probably best known for his work on the Fantastic Four as one of the artists who replaced Jack Kirby after he left the title, and is also known for work on Jungle Action starring Black Panther, and creating Marvel anti-hero Deathlok.

My first encounter with Buckler was with Daredevil #101, which was one of the first comics I ever grabbed as a youngster, and my love of Black Widow and Daredevil have their origins in the title around this time.

101-1

I still can’t look at a redhead in skintight black leather without thinking of these comics.

Bucker also wrote two books, How to Become A Comic Book Artist and How To Draw Superheroes, and more recently is known for his surrealistic art.

buckler

Rest in Peace, Mr Buckler. Thanks for all the amazing comics.

Nerds of Oz: Weekending 19th May 2017

Week Ending 19th May 2017
Back due to popular demand is Nerds of Oz, or, as I like to call it, who got my pocket money this week!!

Comics

From Marvel comics this week I grabbed the latest Kingpin and X-men Blue, both which are excellent for different reasons. Kingpin is an amazing look at the private life of Daredevil’s villain, and is very much aimed at the Sopranos or Breaking Bad styled fan with its glorification of the gangster lifestyle, and how a normal person can be dragged into it. Both X-men titles are awesome at the moment, though Gold is a little above Blue. Jean Grey is certainly a far more rounded character now though, which is cool.


I have also started to read manga again, and am starting with Naruto and One Piece, both suggested by a friend from work.



Magazines

As an extension of my new found love of manga, I also picked up the latest NEO mag, just to see what new animation and manga are around.


Books

I stupidly have started another Partworks (you know those fortnightly newsagency collections) and this is the current issue of the new-ish Games Workshop, 40K novel collection.


DVD/ Blurays

Are they future reviews? Possibly, but this week I grabbed Idle Hands, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, The Bye Bye Man, Split, I Am Not A Serial Killer, the Legacy Collections of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Wolfman, and the latest entries into the Resident Evil and Underworld franchises.




I also grabbed an anime called High School DD, which is basically the 80s film Revenge of the Nerds vs Busty Devil Women. Sounds awesome.


Records

I finally got my hands on Volume 2 of the Stranger Things soundtrack, which I am quite happy about!


Gaming

Last but not least, I grabbed this cool box for my Magic the Gathering cards!

Child’s Play (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Child’s Play (1988)


Film: What is it with clowns and dolls? We enjoy both of them as kids but when we grow up, some of us are creeped out by them, but not me!

Definitely not me!

I LOVE movies that have a scary doll or clown in it! Never let it be said that I avoid either. Damn, I even saw Annabelle just because of the doll, even though I knew it to be part of the universe that the disappointingly dull Conjuring films exist in.

Why do I love horror films with dolls in it? The blame can be aimed directly at this film right here: 1988’s Child’s Play, starring the most loveable smartarse serial killing doll, Chucky!

This film was written by Don Mancini, also with John Lafia and Tom Holland, who also directed.

This film tells of Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), a serial killer who, upon being almost captured, uses voodoo to transfer his mind to a fresh body, which happens to be the most popular toy of the day, a Good Guys doll.

Karen (Catherine Hicks) is desperate for a Good Guy doll for her son, 6 year old Andy (Alex Vincent) and manages to acquire the one that Chucky transferred his persona into. Very soon, Chucky is on the rampage, and wants a human body again but he find out that he can only return to the body of the first person he revealed himself to… otherwise he’ll be trapped as a doll forever, but a human doll with organs and blood, and one that can be injured… and killed, so the race is on to get back to Alex, and become one with him…


The first thing one has to note about this film is just how amazing Alex Vincent is in it. Mostly kids come across as obnoxious or just annoying in these sorts of films, but the whole preposterous story is sold on how good the kid sells it!

The special effects of Chucky need some props as well. Occasionally it is a little person dressed up, but there are also times where it is a puppet or an animatronic, and in both cases it looks convincing… once your sense of disbelief kicks in anyways.

On the point of the silly concept of the film, Hicks and her co-star Chris Sarandon both deserve credit for playing the entire film completely straight, which is exactly what this film needs. Brad Dourif’s menacing voice doesn’t hurt that either… he’s a nasty piece of work in this! 


It’s a great deal of fun, and even though the sequels, like all sequels, are occasionally stupid, this is an effective film that tells a great story even though what we are supposed to believe is out there.

Score: ****


Format: This film was reviewed with the UK DVD release that runs for approximately 83 minutes. Unfortunately this DVD wasn’t really made for widescreen TVs it doesn’t appear to be anamorphic, and the widescreen image just seems to float in the middle of your screen. I tried it on several different settings and couldn’t get it to play to the full screen of my widescreen TV. The image itself though is a clean one, and the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is fantastic.

Score: **

Extras: Only a trailer, I’m afraid.

Score: *1/2

WISIA: It’s an eighties horror classic, you better believe it!

Mother’s Day (1980) Review

One from the re watch pile… and happy Mother’s Days to all the Mums and Moms out there!

Mother’s Day (1980)

Film: Troma’s Mother ‘s Day is one of those films whose notoriety is probably more what it’s known for than its actual execution. It was originally banned in the U.K., but was then passed by the BBFC uncut in 2015. Here in Australia it was originally released uncut in the early 80s before being reviewed and then banned a few years later. I managed to see it when I worked at a video shop in my early teens and liked it, but haven’t seen it again until my receipt of this UK release.

This film was cowritten (with Warren Leight) and directed by Charles Kaufman, brother of Troma film legend Lloyd Kaufman, and who strangely also wrote episodes of kids cartoons Kissyfur, Dennis the Menace and Marshall Bravestarr later in his career!

Three former sorority sisters, Trina (Tiana Pearce), Abbey (Nancy Hendrickson) and Jackie (Deborah Luce), once a year leave their mundane lives to get together and re-unite for fun on various weekend getaways, but this year, their trip takes a more vicious turn.


Jackie has organise a nice trip to the woods, a camping holiday, but what they find in the Deep Barons Wilderness Area is a vicious family, led by the matriarchal Mother (Béatrice Pons), and her vicious sons Ike (Frederick Coffin) and Addley (Michael McCleery) who like to entertain Mother by kidnapping, raping and murdering anyone who crosses their paths, but will the tenacity of these collegiate buddies help them rise above their captors torture?

Well you’d better see the film and find out!

Tonally it’s a strange film. There is a sense of whimsy at first, with a couple of red herrings thrown in for good measure, with a few over the top New York characters and that classic Troma style ‘comedy’, but when the family are re-introduced, after a small murderous prologue, it shifts to a real horrific film about suppression of will and torture, he not just of the victims either, the mother is good at manipulating her sons into doing what she tells them as well.

The hillbilly family seem to also represent this weird, modern day (well, for the early 80s) commentary on consumerism and self-help guruism, as their house in preposterously filled with televisions and name products, not to mention gym equipment and muscle magazines… even when they get a camera, it’s referred to as ‘the Kodak’.. all in attempt to make themselves ‘citified’ instead of ‘backwards’. I’m not sure if the message here is that ‘citified’ folk are savages, or that you can’t change where you come from no matter how hard you try to spend money to do so.

Another thing I like about this film is the cover art. To parody Whistler’s Mother in a poster for a film of this caliber is a funny thing.


The film is certainly deserved of its cult status and is surprising well executed even with its low budget and exploitative storyline. It also offers some clever viewer manipulation is its switching up the heroine too. 

The plot hole left open is the debate of whether punk sucks, and is disco actually stupid…

Score: ****


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the 88 Films multi-region bluray from their Slasher Classics Collection (this one belong Volume 2) and runs for approximately 90 minutes. The film is presented in an amazingly clear, considering its pedigree, albeit it with the occasional artefact, 1.85:1 image with a clear HTD-DS 2.0 audio.

Score: ***1/2.

Extras: Heaps of extras on this disc:

There is a commentary with Charles Kaufman and Rex Piano and is a pretty interesting one. Kaufman’s recall is amazing and he has some pretty funny anecdotes.

Charles Kaufman Intro sees the writer/ director briefly talk about the film and his post-cinema career, though it’s just funny enough to suggest he and his brother are not too dissimilar.

Rex Piano Intro sees Kaufman’s PA on Mother’s Day briefly wish you well on your watch of the film.

Behind the Scene’s Super 8 Footage sees Kaufman do a commentary over some preproduction and Test footage stuff.

Eli Roth on Mother’s Day sees film director Eli Roth (Hostel) talk about how much he loves the film and where his obsession with it comes from.

Charles Kaufman and Darren Bousman talk Mother’s Day sees the director talk to director Darren Bousman (Saw II) about the myths and legends of Mother’s Day, and how Bousman didn’t want to offend the fans of the original with his 2010 remake of the film.

There are also a trailer and tv spots for Mother’s Day, and a trailer for Graduation Day.

There is also another option for a 88 Films trailer reel, which includes Puppet Master, The Pit and the Pendulum, Demonic Toys, Bloody Birthday, Two Moon Junction, Dollman, Bloodsucking Freaks, Puppet Master II, Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge, Tourist Trap and Castle Freak.

The Packaging claims that there is also a Collector’s booklet, but my copy didn’t come with it, so boo on you, packers of 88 Films’ blurays!

The slick is also reversible, so you can have either the slick with or without the ‘Slasher Classics Collection’ masthead.

Score: ***

WISIA: I can honestly say that whilst I have seen this before, and it’s certainly a shocking film, it’s not one that will get a regular rewatch.

Absurd (1981) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Absurd (1981)


Film: I am a pretty big fan of the film Anthropophagus. It’s uneven and has an odd pace to it but for some reason I just love it. I didn’t see it until it was first released on DVD, but instantly fell in love with it. I was aware through various books and documentaries that there was a ‘sequel’ and in this world of previously never thought to be released movies appearing everywhere on DVD and bluray (Salo, in Australia?!? Who would have thought?!?) I had basically resigned myself to probably never seeing it.

Thanks to Kickstarter though, this pseudo-sequel to Anthropophagus IS now available through U.K. (special mention should go to fellow To Watch Piler Explosive Action  for his contribution) and here I sit, having just finally seeing it.

Absurd was directed by well-known Italian director Aristide Massaccesi, aka Joe D’Amato aka Peter Newton, who also directed the aforementioned Anthropophagus, as well as Buio Omega and was written by Luigi Montefiori, aka George Eastman aka John Cart, and whilst it does contain elements of the ‘first’ film, it is its own thing.

… and by ‘own thing’ I mean it borrows heavily from John Carpenter’s Halloween!!

Absurd starts with a man, Mikos Stenopolis (George Eastman) being pursued by a another man, ‘Father’ (Edmund Purdom) and the chase ends abruptly when Mikos impales himself on a fence and is disembowelled!


He somehow manages to get himself off the fence and goes to a local household who call for help, but what we discover is that Mikos is a psychopath who is able to heal from any wound at a rapid rate, and that ‘Father’ is a priest who is trying to destroy him!

Of course there is a rapid succession of murders, and eventually Mikos starts to terrorise the family who assisted him after his disembowelment, including a young boy and an infirm teenage girl. The police are in a flap over the deaths but will the priest and his skills, whatever they are, subdue the felon, or will he be found to be impotent and another hero step up to the plate?

Now it’s well documented that this riffs on Carpenter’s Halloween and that is evident from pretty much well the start, with Eastman playing an unmasked ‘Michael Myers’ and Purdom’s priest borrowing heavily from Donald Pleasance’s Dr Loomis. It occasionally seems to be touching on Halloween 2 as well, but with both films being released in the same year, I’m not so sure if that would be true, and if I’m honest, the similarity comes from the hospital environment so it’s probably just a co-incidence.


The acting of the two leads is really what makes this film. Eastman with his grunts and insane stares are hilarious, and when paired with Purdom’s unfit (the running scene at the beginning is hilarious), and wrathful priest, it’s a B-grade nerd-gasm.

The film is a fine watch, but I found Anthropophagus a far more entertaining, even through its failings.

Score: **1/2

Format: This 88 Films region B bluray of Absurd runs for approximately 94 minutes and is presented in an really great 1.85:1 image with a clear LCPM 2.0 audio.

Score: ****


Extras: There is a great bunch of extras on this disc:

First, there is actually two presentations of the film. The first is a longer dubbed English version, and the second is the 6 minute shorter Italian version with subtitles.

There is an informative and quite funny commentary by the guys from the podcast The Hysteria Continues, which looks at… well, everything to so with the film and the history of various cast and crew involved.

The Absurd Files: an Interview with George Eastman is an interesting interview with Eastman, aka Luigi Montefiori where he discusses his history in cinema, with a focus on this film. It is in Italian with subtitles.

Michele Saovi Interview is a cleverly named Interview with Michele Saovi, again discussing his career and his relationship with Joe D’Amato. This is also in Italian with English subtitles.

The menu screen also has a ‘special thanks’ section which lists the names of all the people and companies who donated to 88 Films’ Kickstarter.

This edition of the film also offers a cool booklet from well know horror journalist and documentarian Calum Waddel called Video Nasties: Sleazy Does It which tells an abbreviated version of the ‘Video Nasties’ scare in the UK in the early 80s of which this film was a banned item.

This disc, from 88 Films’ Italian Collection, also has a reversible cover.

Score: ****

WISIA: Even though it’s a silly film, that emulates Halloween a fair bit, I’ll probably watch it again.

Pin (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Pin (1988)


Film: It’s no secret that my favourite films are from the 80s. I mainly loved the ones that were over-sequelised like the Nightmare on Elm Street series, or the Friday the 13ths series, but now and again I’d find a one-off that was totally off the wall, and amazing.

This film, Pin, is based on the novel by Andrew Neiderman with the script written by Sandor Stern, a man whom every horror fan knows better as the script-writer for The Amityville Horror. This film was also directed by Stern, and he proves himself to be an efficient director with a skill in. Retaking uncomfortable cinematic atmospheres.

Pin tells the story of the Linden family. Leon (David Hewlett) and Ursula (Cyndy Preston) have had an extraordinarily strict upbringing: their mother, Mrs Linden (Bronwen Mantel) is a OCD cleaning-obsessed fruitcake, and their father, a doctor (Terry O’Quinn) is a cold fish who educates his children using a life-sized, anatomically correct dummy, named Pin, and his skill with ventriloquism.


The problem is, Leon doesn’t have the emotional growth to understand that Pin isn’t real, and as he grows older, he develops a split-personality, his own and the other being Pin.

Unfortunately their parents die in a car accident, and without the good doctor there to temper Leon’s schizophrenia, ‘Pin’ becomes more and more dominant, which doesn’t really help in Ursula’s plan to lead a normal life, even though she does tend to allow Leon’s fragile state of mind to continue… but will it eventually become dangerous?

Stern has created a truly bizarre film with this one. There is an amazing oppressiveness whilst the parents are alive which is replaced by a constant feeling of uneasiness as Leon’s mental state devolves. Hewlett nails the performance of Leon which helps the unsettled mood as well.


One of the other super-creepy things about the film is the voice that is given to Pin. Jonathon Banks, who plays Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, performs it with this slightly high-pitched calm that somehow suits the bizarre empty stare that the dummy has. It’s a weird thing when the dummy is one of those ‘visible man’ medical training dummies, but when it is painted, wigged and dressed by Leon it becomes something out of nightmares.

This is a well made, fascinating film, and I really recommend it to anyone who likes a good psychological horror film.

Score: ****1/2


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Arrow Films, region 2 DVD release which was produced under their ‘Arrowdrome’ line. The DVD runs for approximately 98 minutes and is presented in a slightly soft images 1.85:1 with a sufficient Stereo 2.0 audio.

Score: ***

Extras: Arrow presented this film with a reversable cover, the other being the original artwork from the 80s. This package also contains a booklet about the film which features an essay by Lee Gambin. The disc contains a trailer as well.

The disappointing thing about this disc is the cover offers a commentary, but there is no option to select it.

Score: **1/2

WISIA: I have liked this film for years and it gets a regular watching.

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017) Review

One from the to watch pile…
Teen Titan: The Judas Contract (2017)


Film: Often in movie circles you’ll hear people talk about how great the Marvel cinematic Universe is, or how DC are trying to copy its success, blah blah blah, but the BEST movies about super heroes are often overlooked.

The DC animated movies started in 2008 with somewhat of a whimper with the not-very-good Batman Gotham Knights, and apart from an occasional misstep, these features have been far superior to, well, ANY cinematic film in my opinion. Why is this? Several reasons…

… and I have to admit as being a lifelong comics fan as a justification of some of these reasons.

The first is that the animated features don’t feel the need to give the origin of every single hero they introduce if it doesn’t move the story along. Does Martian Manhunter’s origin tie into the story that is being told? No? They show what he can do, as the why’s and wherefores are incidental.


Another is that even though there are a few costume cosmetic changes, in general the costumes of the heroes are similar to the comics. I do appreciate that blue and yellow spandex may not be the greatest look on film, and that cinematic tone may not read it well, but it’s just comforting to see Batman in blue and grey.

The other thing is, and I’ve mentioned it before, is that these film can be watched as a singular film or as part of their various subsets, without the weight of 36 hours of other movies to prop it up. It’s fine to make a film series, but if some of the films don’t really stand on their own, what’s the point?

Another thing is that there is a regularity of cast that don’t need to change due to age or fitness levels. Kevin Conroy has been playing the animated Batman on and off for years!

Basically I wish DC would abandon their live-action universe and concentrate on these, and their TV series’ like Supergirl, Arrow and The Flash, and maybe their video games.

This one is especially special to me as in the early 80s when the two best comics around were Marvel’s The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans, I was totally in love with both. When Marvel and DC did a crossover with them I almost exploded.

The panel of Cyclops and Robin shaking hands blew my mind!

Anyway, of those early issues of The New Teen Titans, one of the best storylines was The Judas Contract, and apart for a few alterations necessary, such as some Titans roster changes, the plot is very similar.

Our story starts with these stories version of the original Teen Titans: Robin, Speedy, Kid Flash, Bumblebee and Beast Boy, meeting K’oriander, aka Starfire: the future leader of the Titans. We then flash forward to 5 years later (now?) and we meet the current Titans: Starfire, Nightwing (who was the original Robin), the new Robin, Blue Beetle, Raven, Beast Boy (still) and Terra.


A rising threat known as H.I.V.E. and it’s leader Brother Blood are a concern to the Titans, and Nightwing is investigating everything to do with them, but what if one of the Titans is a traitor… working for the assassin, Deathstroke? 

As with most of these features, the art direction and story telling is fantastic, and the story moves along at quite the clip. It does vary slightly from the comics due to the aforementioned roster changes, but in essence it tells a great story about teamwork, friendship, Stockholm Syndrome, betrayal and what it takes to be a hero.

The best thing about it is just how dastardly awful Deathstroke is. So many superhero films show the bad guys in, not a positive light, but they certainly seem cooler than the heroes. This film aborts that ideal and Deathstroke is an absolute piece of crap who is totally unlikable, potentially a paedophile and a child beater: in short, a proper villain.

The voice acting in this film was excellent, with special guests like Christina Ricci as Terra, Gregg Henry as Sebastian Blood, Kevin Smith as himself and tragically, Deathstroke was the last role that Miguel Ferrer before he succumbed to cancer.

This was a fantastic film, and I hope another Teen Titans one gets made as the character dynamic makes for great fun, adventurous films.

Score: ****


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Australian region B bluray, and is presented in an impressive 1.78:1 image with an amazing DTS-HD 5.1audio.

Score: *****

Extras: As usual, a great bunch of extras appears on this disc: 

Titanic Minds: Reuniting Wolfman and Pérez. So I totally fanboyed out when I saw this extra as these guys made amazing comics when they were making New Teen Titans comics. This is a small round table with writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez, two absolute legends of comic history who rebooted the Teen Titans from being a moderately successful team of sidekicks into a group of heroes to rival the justice League, and it became the number 1 comic for a time. These extras get 5 stars JUST for how historically relevant this is.

Villain Rising: Deathstroke explores the history of the character with comments from Wolfman, Pérez and DC Entertainment’s Mike Carlin.

There are three ‘Sneak Peaks’ at other DC Animated films, the forthcoming Batman and Harley Quinn, and previous entries, Superman/ Batman: Public Enemies and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.

There is also two episodes of the Teen Titans cartoon, ‘Terra’ and ‘Titans Rising’.

Finally we have a bunch of trailers for the DC All Access App, Justice League Dark, The Jetsons &WED: Robo-Wrestlemania and the video game, Injustice 2. The disc also opens with a trailer for the incoming Wonder Woman movie starring Gal Gadot!

Score: *****

WISIA: Yes. Again and again.