(Blogger's note: I had begun work on this entry approximately two week ago. As usual, work commitments eventually intervened)
Fortune seems to smile upon me- at least some of the time. This past weekend the California Lotto jackpot topped the $100 mil mark and I managed to score a tiny piece of it, albeit $54.00 of it. But hey, who am I to overlook a horse to shit in my mouth? That 54 smackers was enough to pay my way into Anaconadas: the Hunt for the Blood Red Orchid, Suspect Zero, and the eye dazzling Hero at some of those retro theaters in Westwood without having to stop over at the ATM.
I could go on about the films- maybe work out some analytical approach for Hero because it is by far the most resplendent piece of foreign cinema I ever had the pleasure to see grace across the screen. But perhaps some other time. There are others things I have to catch up to on this blog.
Some medicore karma sort of crept up to me at work today as one of my co-workers just happened to have receive a screener of the debut of the new animated version of the Kids WB's The Batman which is slated to premiere in a few weeks on September 11. Egads, maybe Al Qaeda will have something more to bitch about when they find out that we evil infidels of the Western world has further spread its' dastardly tentacles when we premiere new Saturday morning cartoons on the day of their momentous glorious triumph.
One of my co-workers coherced me into watch it while he went away on lunch. I've been whining about being deprived of a sneak peek of the series ever since I came back from San Diego nearly empty handed of convention booty or showing any elation of anything worth hollering about. So one of my missed opportunies had finally caught up to me. From what is being touted as a untold account of the Batman's first few years behind the cape and cowl (according to Alfred- his third year to be precise), the producers on this incarnation came up with a look that is distinctive from the previous four or five seasons that we endured in the art deco style of Batman: the Animated Series or Gotham Knights, but not that much- so, one would assume that Duane Capizzi who produced the animated Men in Black and the Jackie Chan Adventures for Sony would sit snug as a bedbug at the WB Animation offices. And as a result, we have a new Batman series that looks and feels like an episode of Jackie Chan Adventures or Men In Black.
I can' figure for the life of why WB Animation would want two separate animated Batman universes running simultaneously. You still have the Kevin Conroy voiced Batman skipping around with Wonder Woman and Superman in Justice League Unlimited and from the looks of this departing aperture it's going to take some time getting used to the main character being voiced by someone younger than Conroy, that younger person who answered the voice residual bat signal is none other than Rino Romano, a voice actor who botched up another super hero animated franchise...Spider-man in a parallel universe, titled Spider-Man Unlimited. That didn't last beyond one season and I suspect this one will follow in its' footsteps.
Why are the villains so out of sync with the rest of the regularly established Bat Universe? Why the need to be reinvented when several of them already have had their origins told on Batman: The Animated Series? It doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense of bringing the Man-Bat or Bane when neither of these two baddies encountered Batman in his early twenties? I can accept The Joker and the Penguin- I mean, they just sort of popped out of nowhere. I wouldn't mind this series tackling some background stories on them, but it doesn't excuse the tampering of already established foundations. The Man-Bat and his origin was explained in the very first episode of B:TAS. There's gotta be some rational explanation for this befuddled continuity crisis....
Oh wait a second- it just came to me....
This is the Republician version of Batman.
Having all these bad guys running around without no rhyme or reason is sort like the Bush/Cheney supporters being bamboozled into the rapture of making them believe that Saddam was actually the mastermind behind the 9/11 attack and not that 'who shall remain unmentionable' during the RNC, the indomitable Ra's Al- sorry, I meant to say Osama Bin Laden . Now they have launched a ploy to hijack the pop art metabolism to coherce their own spin on super villain origin stories. I suppose it's all good for the nation in case Halliburton gets their dirty lucre covered hands on the toy business. These are the origins designs that they want you to believe .
The first episode, 'That Bat in the Belfry' may have taken some liberties of presenting some homages to the current Batman mythos. What this episode is set up to do is loosely depict a a first encounter of sorts between the Batman and the Joker. There is a swipe at Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum graphic novel when you see the way the sanitorium is presented. And I'm sure there's a nod and a wink to the current Gotham Central comic book series when supporting characters Ethan Bennett and Ellen Yin show up halfway through the episode.
Jeez, all I gotta say, despite some nice chiaroscuro money shots of Batman lurking in shadows- it's a freakin' mess.
Kevin Michael Richardson who supplies the voice of the Joker, tries too hard to hit certain nuances that Mark Hamill's shoes once treaded on and therefore leaves it flat and unenjoyable. The evil laugh that Richardson generates is too generic and it's a good thing that I was the tv with the close caption on, otherwise I wouldn't have understand a single word that Richardson was saying if the engineers weren't too busy applying sound effects to it. I've heard better work from Richardson, epecially with playing the father figure on Static Shock, which sadly had to be cancelled to make room for this animated atrocity.
I don't know which genius came up with the character design- but green dreadlocks? Are the kiddies supposed to buy into the idea that smoking one's socks and looking like a Bob Marley or a Peter Tosh reject is going to automatically inject toy sales? It's a fucking good thing I don't have kids, otherwise I would be flinging a Molatov cocktail screaming into the aisles of a Kay Bee Toy store if I were forced to plunk down the plastic for this idiotic toyline for my kid.
And that's the entire objective of this show- to sell toys, just as much as Halliburton likes to sell $60 ballpeen hammers to contractors in trying to help rebuild a devastated country.
And the gadgets- what the-? There's a scene in the middle of the episode where young Bruce Wayne is attending a basketball game with two arm dangling floozies and he is contacted by Alfred on.... his palm pilot! Now how is it possible that Bruce Wayne has access to high speed internet and cellulars while the Batman in the 1992 animated series didn't? You see, if you're going to do a series of Batman in the past, there are just some social amenties that you have to do away with - which is still the same bug up my ass about Smallville which utilizes too much of modern civilization to tell a story. You know, SUVs, 4wds and superheroes just don't mix for me.
Oh, before I forget ,the first episode falls into too much Tim Burtonitis territory. The simplistic plot shows the Joker sooooo not getting over his poison gas loaded helium balloon over Gotham City fetish.
The second episode is titled The Call of The Cobblepot and anyone with a IQ of seventy below can guess who the main baddie is. I couldn't watch it beyond the second half - the animated penguin in this version resembles something such as waddling eggnog. You might want to be on the watch for one of those cell colored mishaps in this episode- you know the kind that usually drives up the acetate cell collector's market? As soon as the Batman leaps through the skylight to pounce on the Penguin- keep a close eye out for a yellow bat on a black insignia. Try telling me that someone didn't do that on purpose.
Let my personal gas speak for itself.