Search

Graphic Novelty²

Tag

animation

Love Death + Robots: Season Three

Love Death + Robots is back with season three! With a scifi/fantasy concept, the different episodes somehow play to the themes of love, death and robots (although not every episode has a robot per se) and are very adult in nature. In fact, a quote that they are for “mature, messed up adults” is right on the money. I feel seen by that description!

The animation styles differed wildly from episode to episode, with some being cartoony while others were photo-realistic. Some of the stories were funny, others heartbreaking, but all were good in their own way. Often in a collection of short stories, there will be some clunkers, but all of the episodes were strong.

Three Robots: Exit Strategies

The three wise-cracking robots from season one have yet another post-apocalyptic trip, surveying the wreckage of a planet whose people died, when greed and poor planning doomed them. Of course, there are uncomfortable parallels to our world today. It had a cutesy animation style.

Bad Travelling

A thanapod, an enormous man-eating crustacean, boards a ship and attacks the sailors. They are forced to sail it to an island so the giant crab can attack the inhabitants, but the captain wants to fool the creature by sailing to a farther away uninhabited island, putting the crew in danger for longer. When the crab has babies, the danger increases- who will prevail?

The Very Pulse of the Machine

An astronaut is exploring Jupiter’s moon Lo, when her partner dies in an accident. She begins to hallucinate as she tries dragging her partner’s body to the space shuttle. I was unclear what really happened at the end.

Night of the Mini Dead

The shortest episode features sped-up characters battling a zombie apocalypse. Two horny teens inadvertently cause the world to end, but it’s only a blip in the entire space cosmos.

Kill Team Kill

Animated to remind you of GI Joe, a team of Green Berets encounters a cybernetic bear. Don’t become too attached to any of the characters! This episode had some fun raunchy dialogue.

Swarm

A scientist travels to a planet to study its ecosystem and meets another researcher there. They are both amazed at how the animals co-exist within a caste system, and he hopes to utilize them to benefit Earth. Threatened, the swarm assimulates one of the scientists, but the other vows to fight against becoming a symbiote species to the intergalactic hive.

Mason’s Rats

In a futuristic Scotland, a farmer’s barn is overrun by rats. He calls in a pest company and hi-tech machines battle the rats until a truce is called. The animation was Pixar-ish and relied on sight gags.

In Vaulted Halls Entombed

A team of soldiers try to rescue a hostage and get lured into a mountain tunnel and are soon surrounded by Lovecraftian creatures. Their numbers are depleted until only two soldiers survive when they are confronted by a Cthulhu-type diety. One soldier is seen staggering away, but her eyes and ears are missing and she is muttering an alien language. What awaits her and anyone she encounters?

Jibaro

This was a perfect episode to conclude the season with- it was so amazingly unique with outstanding life-like animation. Based on a Puerto Rican folktale, a group of conquistadors and priests get seduced by a siren who lures them to their death in a lake. A deaf knight survives and two become entranced with one another. But when he leaves her for dead, and her blood restores his hearing, he too joins his comrades in a watery grave.

My favorite two episodes in this short season were Bad Travelling and Jibaro, but this series has something for anyone no matter what type of art style or storytelling they prefer. Here’s to hoping for a season four!

Batman: The Long Halloween (2021 Animated Film)

Did you read The Long Halloween and wished there was a movie adaptation of it other than the Dark Knight trilogy taking inspiration from it? You’re in luck! Earlier this year, a two-part adaptation of this critically acclaimed graphic novel was released.

I went into the plot pretty well in-depth in my 2019 post linked above, so here’s a quick recap:

Johnny Viti, nephew to Gotham mob boss Carmine Falcone, is murdered on Halloween night. A Jack-o-Lantern is placed next to his body. He had been ready to testify against Falcone in court and provide evidence of his wrongdoings, so in Commissioner James Gordon’s mind, this can’t be a coincidence. He, District Attorney Harvey Dent, and vigilante Batman make a pact to take down the mob by whatever means necessary – within the law. However, as the year (“The Long Halloween” as it’s called by Gothamites) goes on, and the murderer they dub “Holiday” kills more and more people inside the case on each major holiday, the three men begin to suspect one another. Can they keep the promise they made to each other a year ago – if they’re even the same men anymore?

The movie did well by being split into two parts. The pacing wouldn’t have felt right if it had been condensed into one. This is a slow-simmering noir story and it only benefited from the extra run time.

This also allowed extra story elements to be incorporated. For example, there is more background to Harvey and Gilda’s relationship, a bit more insight into Jim’s home life, and more significantly, more screen time devoted to Batman and Catwoman. Some of these extra elements are more successful than others. What was supposed to be Catwoman’s motivation and then big character development moment was not well-executed and didn’t go anywhere, it was just… dropped. Perhaps this was supposed to add to her mystery, but it could have been omitted from the movie and it wouldn’t have been missed. We would have accepted at face value that she was acting in her own self-interest as is usual.

The voice acting was well-done. Jensen Ackles as Batman is a treat, as he previously voiced Jason Todd in 2010’s Batman: Under the Red Hood. Josh Duhamel’s Harvey Dent/Two-Face was by turns vulnerable, brash, and intimidating. Billy Burke as a tired dad Commissioner Gordon was a great choice as well. Troy Baker as Joker almost had Husband and I fooled thinking it was Mark Hamill! The late Naya Rivera’s Catwoman was smooth and sultry. There truly was not a bad performance to be heard.

This movie sees a welcome departure from what’s become the standard DC animated movie style. It looked and felt as if the creators and animators made an effort to match the illustration style of the graphic novel. This is most obvious in the title cards, which were beautiful! The backgrounds literally look like they were painted on watercolor paper; the texture is distinctive. The characters are modeled after their comic counterparts, and therefore are less sharp and angular than most DC animated movies. The coloring is darker and less stylish than in the book, however, and the stark shading that made the book work so well is also missing (to the animator’s credit, this may have been hard to pull off). While it doesn’t totally get away from the “standard” DC animated style, it does veer off in another, more stylistic direction, to pay homage to the source material. I hope future animated features do this, too!

If you’re looking for something to watch this Halloween weekend, look no further! Both parts are available to stream on HBO Max and to buy on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Kathleen

Palmer, Chris (director). Batman: The Long Halloween. 2021.

Marvel’s “What If…?” Episodes 4-6

We are back with more What If episodes, as Kathleen posted about the first three, and I’m here with the middle three. These episodes are self-contained story arcs narrated by a being called The Watcher, who takes the viewer through different universes. In these alternate realities, we see familiar events occur differently. All three had dark endings that I quite enjoyed.

What if…Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?

To be honest, I never bought the romance between Strange and his lady love Christine Palmer in the movie, so that put me at a disadvantage that I wasn’t invested in their romance in this episode. Strange and Palmer are involved in a car accident that kills Palmer, and in his grief he learns mystic powers that he later uses to try to go back in time to save her. The Ancient One and Wong warn him that he could tear apart the fabric of time, but in his arrogance, he believes he knows better. He doesn’t…

What If… Zombies?!

When Hank Pym goes into the Quantum Realm to save his wife, he inadvertently brings out a zombie virus. Soon not only most of mankind has been zombified, but so have many of the superheroes on Earth. Soon only Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Hope van Dyne, Bucky Barnes, Okoye, Sharon Carter, Scott Lang, Vision and T’Challa are left to try to save humanity. But things don’t go well for a majority of them and even the last rag-tag group of survivors face yet another challenge in the closing moments of the episode.

I thought Chadwick Boseman’s last voice credit was in episode two, but he is featured in this episode plus the next. So these words, that he said as Black Panther, “In my culture, death is not the end. They’re still with us, as long as we do not forget them” were very poignant.

What If… Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?

The quote, “People see what they want to see and what people want to see never has anything to do with the truth” is proved in this story. Erik “Killmonger” Stevens rescues Tony Stark from an ambush in Afghanistan, and is then heralded as a hero, but is playing a long con and is able to fool almost everyone. He bamboozles Stark with deadly consequences (I have to admit I’ve never been a fan of Stark, he’s too full of himself, so his death didn’t bother me in the least) and makes it to Wakanda to take on the mantle of the new Black Panther. So much death and destruction, and just because Erik has Daddy issues? Only Shuri and Pepper Potts see through his masquerade and begin plotting their own coup.

These episodes are all stand alone stories, so you can watch just the ones that feature your favorite heroes (or villains) without worrying about missing others. The voices are excellent, as a majority of actors and actresses from the movies recreate their roles, and Marvel found good voice replacements for those that didn’t. The animation has been hit-or-miss for me- the coloring is flat, and they seem to have trouble capturing the likenesses of their movie-screen counterparts. I agree with Kathleen’s comment in her earlier review, that they seemed to be trying to emulate a moving comic book, but I feel it’s not translating well. So to me, these episodes are more about the storytelling than the actual art. Stay tuned for Kathleen to review the last three episodes, including one about Thor whom she was most excited to see!

-Nancy

Love Death + Robots

I am late to the game in discovering this outstanding animated anthology series on Netflix. With a scifi/fantasy concept, the different episodes somehow play to the themes of love, death and robots (although not every episode has a robot per se) and are very adult in nature. In fact, a quote that they are for “mature, messed up adults” is right on the money. I feel seen by that description!

Season one (18 episodes) came out in 2019 and season two (8 episodes) recently came out in May, with a third season promised for next year. Another bonus is that the episodes are all short- the longest about twenty minutes, but several less than ten. Instead of summaries for all the episodes, here are my favs with some spoilers:

Suits:

A farming community is under attack by aliens and they use their advanced technology to combat them. The portal closes and they are safe once again, but as the episode concludes you realise this group are actually the invaders as they have created domed communities across the planet.

Beyond the Aquila Rift:

A spaceship captain awakens from suspended animation in a space station that he wasn’t piloting to and is confused when an ex-girlfriend greets him and tells him his ship and crew accidentally came thousands of light years to this station. He rekindles his relationship with her, and they have a very graphic sexual encounter, but afterward he keeps on questioning her on how his ship got so off course. Then the horrific truth is revealed, his ship is caught in a huge space web and the spider-like alien is giving him and others caught in the web dreams based on their memories.

Shape-Shifters:

Two soldiers stationed in Afghanistan are revealed to be werewolves who are assets to their teams, yet derided by many of their fellow soldiers. When one of the soldiers is killed by a local werewolf, the first soldier wants revenge. Dog tags take a new significance in this poignant episode.

The Secret War:

Red Army soldiers stationed in Siberia valiantly fight other-worldly creatures. A high-ranking government official is shown to have accidently unleashed demons when a ceremony goes awry, but his mistake is covered up, so as to avoid bringing blame upon the higer-ups. Instead hundreds of lives are lost, with the potential of more, just to save face.

Snow in the Desert:

Snow, an immortal man with regenerative abilities, lives alone in a desert hideaway. Hirald, a woman bounty hunter, helps him escape from some others, but tries to convince him to come with her so scientists can study him. When other bounty hunters come to ambush him, a secret of Hirald’s is revealed, but it ends on a hopeful note, as Snow and Hirald might have a chance at love. The world-building in this episode was superb, and I read in another review that the author Neal Asher has a science fiction series that this episode fits into.

All Through the House:

Two English children think they hear Santa and sneak down to see him, but instead see a grotesque alien creature creeping around. They are cornered by the monster but found to be good and given a slimy present. Later they muse what if the alien had found them bad. This was a fun tongue-in-cheek episode.

The animation styles differed wildly episode to episode, with some being cartoony while others were photo-realistic. Some of the stories were funny, others heartbreaking, but all were good in their own way. Often in a collection of short stories there will be some clunkers, but all of the episodes were strong. I highly recommend this series if you haven’t watched it yet. I look forward to season three!

-Nancy

Header picture is from Luckbox Magazine and grid picture from El-Shai.com

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑