DC Universe Animated Original Movies

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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby Ben » April 9th, 2015, 4:26 am

Randall wrote:Looks like Batman Vs. Robin shares a lot in common with the terrible Son of Batman (which was the last one we got a screener for).


You'll be able to see for sure when our review copy turns up soon. :)

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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby Randall » April 9th, 2015, 8:18 am

Well, I did of course want to see it for myself . :)

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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby GeorgeC » April 9th, 2015, 1:01 pm

Ben wrote:
Randall wrote:Looks like Batman Vs. Robin shares a lot in common with the terrible Son of Batman (which was the last one we got a screener for).


You'll be able to see for sure when our review copy turns up soon. :)



Unfortunately, the advance review I read said it was NOT very good... It's the same junk like Son of Batman, Justice League: War, Arkham Asylum, and the JL: Aquaman movie that was released not many months ago.

That advance review was published on a comic book website.

Yeah,comic book fans can be a lot nastier and pickier than me (mainly fan forums or Facebook posts) BUT a lot of the writers who write the articles for those websites tend to reflect a certain middle-of-the-road mentality within fandom.

When they are telling you that a film with perhaps the most popular superhero (probably in the world -- I know it's not just the US/Canada) featured in it is NOT good, there's a problem! I think a "5" on a 10-point scale is being nice... it's perhaps giving a film more credit than it deserves but it is telling you there's a problem. People ought to consider that in school, it used to be IF you got a 65-68% on a test, that was considered a "D" grade at best. 50% is definitely failing... that's a solid "F." I, for one, can tolerate a C-level movie (I actually appreciate/like a few C-level movies) but I DO NOT want to waste my time and money on a film that is so bad on multiple levels (D-level or worse) that even the guys writing these 'soft reviews' are telling you it has problems.

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(Granted, I have had very divergent views from other people, too... I tend to be VERY picky with the things that I like and sometimes have contrary views to the general audience. For instance, I LOVE Howl's Moving Castle but for a lot of people it's one of Miyazaki's weakest movies. I like Spirited Away, personally, but I don't think it's his best film, either. For me, Princess Mononoke is my least favorite Miyazaki movie -- I have a very bad reaction to it and it's very un-Miyazaki-like to me personally; Nausicaa has elements like PM but I think it's a superior film, too -- but that's me because other people seem to think it's great and that it's his best but I can't agree with that. My minds works differently. Different standards... Oh, well!)


Whoever is paying attention and has ANY sense at WB/DC ought to do something right away... I think they have wasted a tremendous amount of money on crap 4-5 times in a row now. IF these were high budget films ($100million+), people would definitely have been fired now. I don't think they have spent much more than a few million dollars (think $3million-$5million; that's still probably higher than the average I would suspect) on any of them which is how the failures have sailed under the radar. I don't think they want to make it 6-8 but I suspect it's already too late to do much about the next film release later this year if it's directed/supervised by the guys who did the previous 4-5 films.

WB/DC Animation were batting at least 0.500 before on the home video release before late 2012/early 2013... What's been going on since then is not good no matter how you slice it.
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(To be honest, I think the track record on the DC animated TV shows has generally been better than the direct-to-video releases BUT even the more recent good shows have been cancelled very quickly and support for some very good TV series has been ultra-weak on Cartoon Network -- even for well-regarded programs like Batman: The Brave and The Bold, Justice League Unlimited, and Young Justice. I don't know what's going on between DC/WB and Cartoon Network but those folks are NOT on the same page right now...)


DC Animation had a very well-regarded reputation prior to late 2012/early 2013... Since then, it has been sliding. It's not too late to get the DC home video program back on track but the powers-that-be that be had better turn things around quickly because they will lose even the biggest fans who generally buy all-things-Batman if this keeps on going on. IF they lose those fans, that's it for this program and it will take a long while to rebuild the reputation that they are very much in danger of losing right now...

They were darn lucky to have Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, and so many other people on board for a long time. IF those guys hadn't been around for 15 years or longer doing such a good job with the animated TV programs, there wouldn't be a DC direct-to-video animated program right now. IF the guys-in-charge now had been there in the 1990s overseeing Batman:TAS and Superman:TAS, I doubt DC/WB would even be where they are right now doing these program releases... Uh-uh. I seriously think they need to reassign some of the senior WB exec/DC liasons and get the people who worked well together back into the WB/DC animation program because something's broken right now...

Believe me, I think Rand's been TOO nice about the last few DC films. If you think I'm nasty, you haven't read what other some people have said! It's a bad time for WB/DC Home video.
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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby Randall » April 9th, 2015, 10:41 pm

I appreciate that you find some of my reviews too lenient, and I totally get where you're coming from. I take no offense whatsoever. However--- just my personal philosophy--- I have trouble going below a 5 if the story at least makes sense and there is a certain professional sheen to things. I try to put aside my feelings for what a character "should" be like, ignoring my inner fan outrage, and just try to see it as another movie. I find even the worst DC movies to at least be mediocre, with decent fight scenes or other entertaining factors, which is "5" territory. (Though I might go to a 3 or 4 for the recent Lego JLA movie, if I had to write a review! And the upcoming Batman Unlimited looks like a real dog.) The earlier Brainiac Attacks movie got a 4 from me (and I was maybe overly generous there!). :)

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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby GeorgeC » April 10th, 2015, 12:39 am

I'll get off my little rant here... I'm starting to annoy me! :lol:
I think I'll retire commentary on the newer DC animated films until I actually see a new that I like again.
That might be a while if the trend of the last two years continues. I hope not!

I did re-watch Superman: Brainiac Attacks a couple months back and can see the basic problems with it. They stick out like a sore thumb to me!
1) They made a BIG mistake reusing the S:TAS character designs. If they were going to do a new story that was utterly removed from that TV series' continuity, they might as well have paid to do new character designs instead of reusing the TV series' model sheets. Seriously, I think they reused the older character designs to save money on this film. The animation really isn't bad but it's not a huge step above the TV series if actually better, period.
2) Different continuity that utterly ignored the relationship between Luthor and Brainiac in the TV series. Again, it was particularly confusing because they used the old character model sheets. That's what really sunk this movie for me -- but aside from that, storywise it's not that bad, I think... There are worse DC animated films than this one.
3) Character voice recasting... I missed Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor. He was one of my faves in Superman: TAS and Justice League/Unlimited. He IS the reason that I officially love Luthor in those series besides the great writing for Luthor. Hell, I'll admit it -- Clancy Brown IS Luthor to me just as much as Kevin Conroy IS Batman. He was born to be Lex Luthor... (and Mr. Crabs.)
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Loved the way they wrapped up the last JLU storylines with Luthor... It's a different side of the character. Yes, there is somebody he HATES worse than Superman -- Darkseid! :lol: The writing on those TV series definitely gave the most depth the character has outside outside of the better comics. Too bad Brainiac Attacks was not in that category of better Luthor stories but maybe Brown was too busy to do this film or actually read the script and passed on it! :lol: Also, much as I like Tara Strong in other roles (love her as Batgirl) I really don't think she was the best recasting choice for Mercy Graves, either... She didn't have the right vocal quality for the character.
Everybody else from the S:TAS returned to do their roles and I liked the performances of Tim Daly and Dana Delany in particular. The other actors performed up to the usual level of the TV series, too. Delany is officially my favorite Lois Lane voiceover artist. Daly is one of three guys that I would consider Superman's voice. He has the right vocal quality for the character... (George Newbern and Bud Collyer, the radio show Superman, are the other two...)

Those issues aside, I don't dislike this film as much as other people. I really, really didn't like Superman: Doomsday and prefer this film to that one... but then again, the original '90s Superman Dies comic storyline was garbage as far as I'm concerned, too. (Okay, I DID like the original 1960s Superman Dies storyline but it's totally different from the 1990s story.) The funny thing is that this film WAS re-released on Blu ray but better movies like Batman: Sub-Zero and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm STILL haven't made it to Blu ray, yet!

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(Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker AND Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman are out on Blu ray as well. I still don't understand why Mystery of the Batwoman is out on Blu ray while Mask of the Phantasm hasn't been remastered for Blu ray... It's obvious to me which is the best Batman animated film and it ain't the Batwoman movie!)

(My favorite animated Superman movies: the pilot film for the animated TV series and All-Star Superman... The Fleischer Superman is still the best 'artistically' animated Superman, period. I don't think I'm going to see superhero animation top the quality of the art in those shorts in my lifetime.)


2011 was when I officially hung up comic collecting even though I really hadn't bought a new comic since 2010. I've only bought reprints/graphic novels since 2010. Just about 2-3 years I finally finished collecting DC's Spirit reprints. Aside from maybe The Doom Patrol, Plastic Man, the JSA, and Captain Marvel, I have interests in collecting the entire Archives runs of the other major DC characters. Much as I love the Golden Age Batman, The Spirit really was the best-made Golden Age hero comic I've read, period... I think it's something I can reread when I'm REALLY old and still love. I can't say that about a lot of other characters/comic book series!

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(And wouldn't you know it, DC is issuing a NEW collection of Spirit reprints in hardcover in couple of months. It's just the same stuff they remastered for the Archives. Their long-term licensing deal expired a couple of years back. The last new appearance of The Spirit was in one of the new Rocketeer comics IDW published.)


I really had hopes the DC animated product would be spared the 52-nonsense as much as possible but that didn't happen.

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(Speaking of which, an animated film is probably the next-likely place to see The Spirit pop up in a movie... It would probably have to be a Batman team-up at this point in time after the damage Frank Miller inflicted with his Spirit movie... [Darwyn Cooke's first published Spirit comic WAS a team-up with Batman; the characters meshed fairly well!] Occasionally, it's a good thing when a creator dies before he can see his character slaughtered/rewritten into mush by somebody who thinks the character has to be readjusted/completely revamped for current audiences. Frank Miller couldn't leave well enough alone! If Will Eisner hadn't died BEFORE the Frank Miller movie was released, seeing the Spirit movie would have finished Eisner off. Frank apparently didn't remember a darn thing from the talk he had with Will Eisner years ago! Then again, Miller's very on/off where I'm concerned... mostly off in my case to be honest...)


Totally agree with you -- it's the management and certain individuals that are inflicting the 52 on everybody instead of adapting classic stories (which at this point in time are mostly 20 years or older) OR doing something new that's actually good. If the 52 comics weren't what they are to a bunch of people many of us wouldn't be complaining so much... But the 52's been generally very bland and I don't know what demographic DC is trying to hit right now. They're doing a better job of driving out longtime collectors and fans than they are bringing new people in.

The last 'new DC comic' that I felt was decent enough to adapt for animation was DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke (one of your countrymen, Rand!). The story had its issues in places but I could see why particular higher-ups liked it. Very, very similar style to Bruce Timm's (I thought it was a pretty-looking comic for the most part) and it lent itself well to adaptation.

Cooke also supervised/directed the Batman Beyond short that was made to celebrate Batman's 75th anniversary over a year ago. Not a bad short and a great way to showcase all the different versions of Batman in print and onscreen. It was hilarious to see the Adam West Batman along with the Keaton version and the various animated Batmen that have been around since 1997! The Batman animated shorts made for that character's 75th anniversary were way better than that anemic Superman short made for his 75th birthday.

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(NOTE: Personally, I also thought Darwyn Cooke was the last guy that really 'got' The Spirit. He had a good run on the DC Spirit monthly and I got the HC collections of those as soon as they were released. The Spirit didn't continue for much longer after Cooke left... I know DC tried to relaunch the character in a new monthly sometime afterward but it never quite gelled/came together after Cooke left. The Spirit character itself is in a bit of flux. I had read IDW picked up the rights to publish new comics with the character which makes me wonder what's going on with the business of DC doing a new HC collection of the original comic strips... Hmmmm....)
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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby Ben » April 10th, 2015, 5:11 am

All modern DCAUMovies have been created digitally and saved to HD files (at least). Even some slightly older ones would have been mastered to hi-def tape.

But the very first ones - Mask Of The Phantasm and Sub-Zero - were created old-school style and output to film.

My guess, since George keeps bringing it up, as to why they aren't on Blu-ray is that the original film elements need a good clean before it can be brought up to the required standard.

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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby GeorgeC » April 10th, 2015, 1:46 pm

I have a feeling we won't see a Blu ray/HD release of Mask of the Phantasm or Sub-Zero until they do a 25th anniversary Blu ray release of Batman:TAS... that's IF WB does an HD release of that series.


<SIGH> And yeah, the films have to be in decent shape or they DO look crummy on hi-def media. Heck, I've seen stuff on DVD that doesn't look great that shouldn't have been released on DVD let alone VHS! Some of the Japanese stuff I've seen from the 1970s/1980s is very murky. I've heard stories of films getting into problems with the film elements in under a decade. (That happened with Ed Wood according to one of my teachers. The problem was caught in time but I think the B&W was turning blue or purple...) Seems to happen more often with newer film stock. The older films from before the 1950s just turn into explosive powder and gum!

They've been covering the 'saga' of John Wayne's film version of The Alamo on the Digital Bits. I've only skimmed the updates occasionally but that's only ONE example of a film that no corporate entity seems to appreciate enough to save the highest-quality presentation version. Even if Disney NEVER releases Song of the South on home video again it may not disappear like a couple of films I've heard are very much on the edge of degradation that would make restoration attempts not worth it...
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(There's a musical or two from the 1950s/early 1960s the home video companies will NOT touch because of racial issues despite the films having cultural significance and fantastic musical performances by some well-known entertainers (Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Pearl Bailey, Diahann Carroll, Brock Peters). They are on the verge of disappearing because the film stock/audio tracks have NOT been taken care of well. The last time one of these films played publicly in the US was in the early 1970s on a TV broadcast. It's been yanked from circulation since and rarely gets exhibited. That same film was also directed by Otto Preminger who despite being widely despised among his contemporaries is still acknowledged as someone who directed at least a handful of genuinely excellent movies. Heck, I have at least 3 or 4 of his films on DVD and they were all very good!)


That won't happen with Mask of the Phantasm because A) it's not THAT old yet and B) it's Batman and Batman IS a major WB cash-cow. I think they'll fix it up for HD!
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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby Randall » April 10th, 2015, 11:59 pm

Having just purchased some Poitier films on Blu-ray, as well as the all-black film Stormy Weather, I'd certainly like to see Porgy and Bess!

The Batman: TAS DVDs don't look especially sharp, really. I can see that they'd need a lot of work to spruce them up for BD.

Meanwhile, recent DC shows--- even Teen Titans Go--- have gotten Blu-ray releases. I imagine that Warner will do a TAS BD release (with MOTP) if at all possible.

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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby GeorgeC » April 15th, 2015, 7:20 pm

Sneak-peak at the next DC animated film, Justice League: Gods & Monsters. It's coming out on home video on July 28th, 2015.

This is NOT a direct adaptation of ANY published comic book story but an amalgam of different Elseworlds ideas and subplots.
Looks very interesting BUT the versions of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are anything but heroic!
I dunno if the 'mainstream' heroic versions of the characters will show up in the film but I somehow doubt it...
There are at least two different trailers floating around on the Net.

Oh, and the other big news -- Bruce Timm is back with this film! His signature character design work is all over the trailer!

I am cautiously optimistic about this film... (Nine to one says it'll be better than the live-action JL film they have on schedule for 2017...)

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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby EricJ » April 15th, 2015, 9:05 pm

Guess I'm the only one who saw "JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time":

Doesn't seem to be a DTV movie, so much as a two-part TV episode from a CN series that hasn't aired yet. (Wouldn't say "pilot", since the concept already seems to be set up midway, although they do introduce two new DC heroes as the identifiable kid sidekicks.)
Definitely shows the absence of Bruce Timm, as the entire series, even the episode, seems to be taking the 70's Challenge of the Superfriends "Legion of Doom" design and canon, and bringing it up to current DC Animation story standards.

(Which, while not bad-bad, and not JLU great either, does sort of suggest what will happen to Warner/DC without the smart people around:
Without those taking DC seriously, that leaves room for Warner's old neurotic Superfriends demons to take over...Yes, we even get a Wendy & Marvin in-joke in this one, yuk yuk--And it wouldn't be Warner without an Aquaman joke, but at least he gets to kick trident hinder in this one, and the "talking to fish" actually saves the day.)

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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby GeorgeC » April 15th, 2015, 10:36 pm

Randall wrote:Having just purchased some Poitier films on Blu-ray, as well as the all-black film Stormy Weather, I'd certainly like to see Porgy and Bess!

The Batman: TAS DVDs don't look especially sharp, really. I can see that they'd need a lot of work to spruce them up for BD.

Meanwhile, recent DC shows--- even Teen Titans Go--- have gotten Blu-ray releases. I imagine that Warner will do a TAS BD release (with MOTP) if at all possible.



Yeah, I noticed that you could see DUST on the Batman animation cels. That's just the DVD resolution!
(I've read you can also see dust on some of the Looney Tunes shorts, too. Guess they didn't have the budget for a dust blower unlike Disney or MGM...)
Weird... I never noticed that when I saw the episodes for the time on Fox in the early 1990s... Only after I own the stupid series do I see that you really need a dust blaster on the animation stand those cels were shot on!

Teen Titans Go -- it has its audience but it's not me. The earlier Teen Titans I thought was actually pretty good.... Although I did catch the "Get Serious" episode of Teen Titans Go and that was actually funny. Very, very pertinent to what's happened to comics over the last 30 years!

It's ironic they made this point in a comedy series based on the most critically acclaimed/fan favorite of Teen Titans which itself was a huge turning point for 'more serious, adult' superhero comics.
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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby Randall » April 15th, 2015, 10:52 pm

Many foreign animation studios in the 1970s-1990s seemed to have been situated in dustbowls. It's ridiculous how dirty some of those Batman:TAS episodes look. I forget which episode it was, but it was in the dark for many of the scenes; and the effect was laughable, since there was white dust everywhere--- made it look like a snowstorm. And that won't look any better in HD.

I'll assume that a Timm production will best most of what we've seen lately from the DC movies. Although, he was responsible for Superman: Doomsday, remember. Regardless, this new movie looks interesting.

Trapped in Time is a really odd duck. It's silly fun, and certainly view-able by kids, at least. It's only odd because it came out of nowhere (first as a Target exclusive before going to wide release), and doesn't tie into a toy line or anything current. It is, as noted, a sequel to Challenge of the Superfriends (with some Legionnaires thrown in for extra fun). Which is awesome. But also weird that it got made at all.

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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby EricJ » April 16th, 2015, 1:26 am

Randall wrote:Trapped in Time is a really odd duck. It's silly fun, and certainly view-able by kids, at least. It's only odd because it came out of nowhere (first as a Target exclusive before going to wide release), and doesn't tie into a toy line or anything current. It is, as noted, a sequel to Challenge of the Superfriends (with some Legionnaires thrown in for extra fun). Which is awesome. But also weird that it got made at all.


Again, it feels like sample, or preview, episodes of a TV series that didn't or hasn't yet made the cut, which is why it didn't get the trumpeting that the original made-for-video movies get:
It starts in the middle of the new continuity (or are they just assuming CotS had still been going on all these years?), and we get running jokes about the new Robin-in-training that a pilot episode would have let us in on. Unless, of course, the introduction of the two Legion characters, who now have to return on a full-time basis, was the series pilot.
But even the original Justice League had to throw in a "we're not Superfriends!" joke at the end of its first episode, JLU turned the Project Cadmus story arc into a retro dig at the "fake" SF characters, and to have the next League series preoccupied with redeeming Challenge's name, but still Warner's bugaboo, it's just issues Warner's never going to get over. (And yes, homages the one single episode anybody ever pop-culturally remembers from Challenge...Go ahead, name another one.)
Teen Titans and Batman already suffered from Warner's inferiority complex to throw themselves on our mercy and turn their DC shows nasty-kitsch "funny" before they believe we can have a chance to "laugh" at them, but I remember the featurette on the Challenge DVD set where DC writers said that the original Challenge, where the Superfriends kicked out the Wonder Twins and finally brought on the classic canon villains, was their first exposure to Cool DC.

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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby Ben » April 16th, 2015, 11:36 am

Just to point out what you all already know that the budget TV shows were made on tight schedules and money...they were intended to be seen once by an audience and then only again maybe in syndication, where such things as video recorders and high resolution were never a concern about how these shows would look in the future.

Therfore the cels were stacked up, they weren't even cleaned in most instances before going under the camera, and there certainly wasn't time to blow dust off them before they were photographed. Also, don't forget that cels would be scrubbed and reused: a good third or a half of the cel scuffs we now see all too clearly on 1970s shows especially comes from scrapes on the cels themselves (you can even pick out wipe marks occasionally).

High budgets for renewable theatrical animation that would play every few years meant a cel for every frame...low budgets for weekly or daily TV fare that was to be consumed and forgotten meant everything had to be done quickly and cheaply as possible.

As for the Looney Tunes having the same issues, it's been well documented that they resued cels as well, and even Disney's prestige films still had dust floating around until the digital restorations. We haven't noticed them so bad until now because of resolution...even with HD restorations downscaled to DVD there's more image info, and HD certainly shows off all the imperfections as well as the line art.

A dust blaster will only clean the current cel on the stand, as well...any dust or scratches on the underside of the plate will always be there, hence the "crawl" you might have seen where specks appear to wander about a portion of the image. It's just an inherent part of the old cel and camera set-up process, made worse in some cases by the combination of lack of budget and higher-detailed formats.

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Re: DC Universe Animated Original Movies

Postby GeorgeC » April 16th, 2015, 2:32 pm

I recall seeing dusting being specifically done somewhere... A film clip of a Disney film that was in production way back when (1940s?). They knew back then about the problem and when the money wasn't a huge object they DID try to deal with the issue -- but that was probably only Disney that tried to deal with it. The other studios' budgets (except maybe MGM) were probably too tight to be worried with 'frills' such as keeping the camera stand clean.

The whole dust thing has to be worse on older animation releases on film, period. Now that most animation is scanned in or prepared digitally (they're trying to phase out paper altogether --- that's the goal in the end), the dust issue won't pop up unless they never clean the scanners (and those have to be autofeed... there's too much to scan in by hand otherwise). The insane production schedules you hear about in Asia probably meant there were tons of cels 'contaminated' by dust.
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(Have to hand it to the American companies, though.... Most of the animated series made after the early 1970s that I've seen still look like they're in decent shape. There are quite a few classic anime series going back to as late as the 1990s that suffer various degrees of problems from poor film stock that has become/muddy dark over the years, scratched, and even worse as far as I'm concerned, horrible quality audio that sounds like the recording was done in someone's bathrooom! They unfortunately DO NOT keep a lot of archival materials besides the final film edits. In some cases, to do new releases in higher quality audio, they had to rehire surviving cast members from TV shows and moves to re-record the dialogue because the original session tapes either no longer or were in such poor shape that it wasn't worth it trying to fix/remix for 5.1 audio... Again, they only do this for the shows and movies that make money.)


Of course, that'll only pop up if they actually re-release any of that stuff but I have a feeling that, like anything, only a TINY small portion of what was made has actually been re-released to VHS, DVD, or Blu ray -- and that's only what they think will make money.

One thing that happened with MOD DVD releases is that they haven't bothered to do a lot of film restoration work if at all. They're budget releases to begin with and it's a minor miracle some of that stuff is getting onto 5-inch disc to begin with!
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