Studio Laika is one of the new premiere studios for stop motion animation these days. I mean with academy award nominations for each of their four films, one could say that while they haven’t won they are batting one hundred for potential quality recognized. No film has had a mixed reception by critiques besides potentially Boxtrolls and it is easy to consider them one of the more unique animation studios out today. Though I have only started watching their films last year with Kubo and the Two Strings, I have always been confused by one of their films in general and that is ParaNorman. It is a kid’s film that strives off the perceptions of zombies in today’s media, where it dissects what a zombie should be into a relevant theme about mob mentality and perception. With such a great goal in mind, how effectively does the film go about it and can it be whimsical enough to dissuade people from writing it off as a cheap way of making zombies kid friendly?
What is with the recent string of versus movies in DC? Batman v Superman should have helped to prove that now people will be a bit wiser on the promise of something great. Justice League vs Teen Titans is a title that says roughly the same thing as Batman v Superman. That the film you are going to watch better have a satisfying clash between the two sides. I mean these are two of DCs well-known squads in their canon and to offer them both fighting each other, there needs to be a good reason for it. Also it is an introduction to the Teen Titans in this animated DC universe, so tying in both an origin story of new characters for a team we don’t know into some grand battle against DC’s crowning gem of a team is a bit much for an hour and twenty minute movie. Does it deliver on its namesake? Hmm that might be a difficult question and a bit too much to ask for a movie of its size or budget, I think the better question is does the movie work even with such a bloated idea for a story?
Family is not a bad thing to focus on, it’s what these films have been doing for the past two to mixed results. Bad Blood takes it that one step further into expanding the family and giving us some well needed time with Dick Grayson, since he was more of a side character in the first two. Though as we know by the many franchises that thrive on family as a core theme, it doesn’t always make a film an instant winner to see more in house drama. We have dealt with father and son dynamics for the past two films, and now Bad Blood wants to add in two more characters into the bat cult with their own origin stories. I understand the fact that they want to flesh out the mythos and other “bat people”, but does it make sense to add in two characters that need to be situated in with two other characters they still need to flesh out?
Usually when a sequel tries to do the exact thing its predecessor does, it gets panned for it. What happens however if the predecessor was bad? If the sequel manages to fix the wrongs with the previous film and right most of the issues that plagued the original? Does that immediately forgive the sequel for retreading similar territory? While watching Batman vs Robin these were the questions swarming my head. After the previous film involving Damian Wayne and Batman, it kind of looked like all was lost with the character in this DC animated universe. With one sequel, can the right the wrongs of the previous by doing roughly the same thing but better? I mean it’s a tough question to answer, especially with numerous sequels telling us that the answer must be no. Though this one could very well beat those odds.
How does one screw up the introduction of a character into a beloved mythos? Well allow Son of Batman to show you how with three easy steps! First you make sure that they have no likeable traits, make them a bloodthirsty psychopath that’ll endear him to the fans. Secondly you make sure he has that persona throughout all of the film, can’t have him showcase pesky things like kindness and growth right? And finally the third step is to make sure he only has one goal throughout the entire film and have the father figure beat you over the head with how bad that goal really is. That is how Son of Batman manages to handle Damian Wayne’s entrance into the Batman animated mythos and believe me it only takes a few scenes to prove how annoying he can get. The question I think best fits this film is that when the main character fails to entertain, does that mean the film itself is inherently bad?
For those wondering, ATM was a slasher film that starred Josh Peck. Where the killer had people trapped and every known trope and cliché of a slasher film, and all the tricks involved with the technical side of things was exploited. There is a difference between that film and this film though, one was funny and the other one was just cruel and stupid. Don’t Hang Up is one of those modern day slashers that doesn’t understand that while being technically proficient, it still doesn’t mean your movie is good. Revenge films often fall prey to their own hubris that people will enjoy them for the simple fact of people not liking the characters and hoping to see them get what’s coming to them. The simple fact of torturing people out of a source of entertainment has merits if there is a point to all of this, and not just any point oh no…it needs to be a good point to make us sit through watching people suffer greatly over a prolonged period of time. So where did Don’t Hang Up fall short where ATM still manages to be watchable?
So I have been recommended and asked by a lot of people this year to watch Train to Busan. I bought it (from a closing store) because I realized that I should give it a shot at some point. And there it waited and waited, until finally after watching Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse made me realize how much I needed a new good zombie movie. Hence why I finally decided to sit through it and I think by the title you can see that I liked it. I think the better question is why did I like it because by all accounts this isn’t something that we haven’t seen before. Zombies on a train? Oh there is Resident Evil Zero or even one could say the claustrophobic creature feature could also be filled by Snakes on a Plane. Social commentary within a zombie film? Please refer to Romero. That being said, this film with a simple set-up and execution ultimately won me over when so many other zombie films and series lost me.