Category Archives: 2014

Batman versus The Terminator (2014, Mitchell Hammond)

With its white on black title card announcing the setting–not to mention the music from Noir Deco–Batman versus The Terminator felt very Escape from New York. There’s even some wireframe graphics in it. Sadly, that vibe doesn’t last.

What replaces it isn’t particularly good either. Mitchell Hammond is really good at mimicking James Cameron’s Terminator 2 future scenes in something like an anime Frank Miller style, but there doesn’t need to be a Batman reference in it too. Especially when the ending payoff is really cool title design and not an action sequence.

Hammond instead wastes a bunch of time on rebel action… without any Terminators around.

His animation’s okay. It’s impressive he put together an almost five minute short, but his actual ability isn’t outstanding. Characters slime around instead of walk, for example. And the Terminators aren’t skeletal anymore.

The idea’s dumb, something the short ably reinforces.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Animated by Mitchell Hammond; based on an idea by Tony Guerrero; music by Noir Deco.


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The First Wave (2014, David Freyne)

Even though The First Wave is about zombies–and not just zombies, but zombies who can be cured–the most unbelievable thing in the short film is the doctor.

So a young woman wakes up in a hospital. Jane McGrath plays her; she does rather a good job with no dialogue, just haunted gazes. Director Freyne opens with a generic running zombie attack however, where a young girl and her father are trying to escape.

The doctor shows up to interview McGrath, give her checkups, the usual. Only Frank McCusker plays the doctor and–hey, maybe things are different in Scotland–but shouldn’t it be a female doctor? Shouldn’t there at least be a female nurse present?

Freyne has a big twist for the ending. It’s a cheap one–had he been so deceptive earlier no one would trust him–but it’s effective.

Wave is decent enough for six minutes.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by David Freyne; director of photography, Piers McGrail; edited by Juniper Calder; music by Gareth Averill; produced by Rory Dungan and Rachael O’Kane.

Starring Jane McGrath (Allison) and Frank McCusker (Doctor).


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Justice League: War (2014, Jay Oliva)

Justice League: War raises the “interesting” question of whether or not superheroes are any fun to watch when they’re vain, selfish bullies. It sort of leaves the answer unresolved, though it’s definitely a lot more entertaining when Alan Tudyk’s Superman leaves for a while. Tudyk’s performance isn’t any good but it’s probably not his fault. Heath Corson’s script is lousy, with very few of the characters remotely likable.

Some of the voice acting is all right. Michelle Monaghan does okay as Wonder Woman when the script isn’t too bad, Justin Kirk and Christopher Gorham are both nearly likable. The rest of the cast? Well, the script’s so bad it’s hard to say.

At its best, War reminds of the old “Super Friends” cartoons from the eighties, only the Warner guys want to appear tough so they throw in some curses in order to juice up the MPAA rating. Because why watch a cartoon about superheroes if they aren’t nasty and shallow.

Oliva’s direction is atrocious. Almost all of the action scenes–except the huge one where they sort of rip of The Avengers–take place in enormous warehouses. Metropolis is just full of gigantic, empty, multi-story warehouses. The action sequences are nonsensical, poorly animated and often dull.

Kirk and, occasionally but not often enough, Sean Astin bring some life to the big final battle. War plays like a spin-off from a toy line, only without the toys.

Steve Blum and Bruce Thomas are especially lame as the villains.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Jay Oliva; screenplay by Heath Corson, based on comic books by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Scott Williams; edited by Christopher D. Lozinski; music by Kevin Kliesch; produced by James Tucker; released by Warner Premiere.

Starring Justin Kirk (Green Lantern), Jason O’Mara (Batman), Shemar Moore (Victor Stone), Michelle Monaghan (Wonder Woman), Christopher Gorham (The Flash), Sean Astin (Shazam), Alan Tudyk (Superman), Zach Callison (Billy Batson), Rocky Carroll (Silas Stone), Ioan Gruffudd (Thomas Morrow), George Newbern (Steve Trevor), Bruce Thomas (Desaad) and Steve Blum (Darkseid).


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Beauty (2014, Rino Stefano Tagliafierro)

In Beauty, director Tagliafierro takes classical paintings and makes them move through computer graphics and 3D modeling. He starts slow, with landscapes–moving through them, bringing lakes to life, maybe hinting a tree is moving. Then he moves on to people.

Some of how Beauty works is by taking a very familiar painting, something the viewer presumably knows and recognizes and has thought about–and brings it to “life.” A realized life. It’s stunning right off, but then Tagliafierro slow has the moving parts interact. Two independent things come together–and the unreality of it slowly fades away. These paintings have never “moved”; they aren’t like photographs. It’s very eerie at times.

By the time Tagliafierro gets to the second half of short, he has full narratives in paintings with multiple moving parts, and then a gradual overarching narrative towards death.

It’s an amazing piece of work. Beauty is breathtaking.

3/3Highly Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Rino Stefano Tagliafierro.


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