Comic Cartoon Double Feature: Hellboy Sword Of Storms & Batman Mysetry Of The Batwoman

I’ve been watching a lot of animated comic-based movies lately for a top secret project (not really, it’s a list of good and bad straight-to-DVD superhero cartoons). With the holidays and Netflix not being able to ship me the Christmas movies I wanted to check out like Santa Claus: The Movie, I ended up with a stack of these things and figured today would be a good day to go through some of them. Hey, the sooner I turn the article in the sooner I get paid.

I actually used to have a copy of Hellboy Animated: Sword Of Storms (2006) in my possession from my Wizard days. I thought I still had it, but must have passed it to someone else or put it on the free table. Anyway, after not really liking Hellboy 2, I wasn’t too interested in delving into that world anymore (yeah, I know this DVD came out before the sequel, but I hadn’t watched it yet), but I want to be complete any time I work on one of these lists, so I gave it a shot. And, as it turns out, I like this animated feature more than either movie.

Sword Of Storms captured the character of Hellboy who I love from the comics much better than the films, even though the voice cast carries over from the movies with Ron Perlman, Doug Jones and Selma Blair coming back to voice Hellboy, Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman respectively. Oh, plus, you get a nearly panel-for-panel interpretation of the “Heads” story from the Chained Coffin And Other Stories TPB, which was a nice surprise.

The animators also did a pretty good job of nailing Hellboy creator Mike Mignola’s style when it came to a few of the background and attacking characters like corpses and mummies. Aside from that, though, the animated versions of our well known heroes all looked pretty different from the comics. There’s a lot of good, weird Hellboy moments like a woman playing a stringed instrument until her fingers bleed and a talking fox that remind me more of the comics than the movies, which is nice.

Plus, Kate Spencer is actually in this one and she’s voiced by Roz from Frasier, also known as Peri Gilpin. I will say that the movie felt a little long and somewhat aimless at times, though that might be more a product of the comic-like story and Hellboy’s wandering journey through some kind of ghost dimension. Oh, and there’s a psychic B.P.R.D. agent who I wanted to punch in the face because he was too cartoony and over-the-top. Had they toned him down a bit, I think the overall film would have been much better.

Up next on the double feature was Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman from 2003, which I didn’t find nearly as fun or entertaining as Sword Of Storms. See, the plot almost exactly follows that other Batman animated movie Mask Of The Phantasm, which I didn’t like much either.

See, Batwoman’s out there causing trouble and it just has to be one of the three new female characters introduced in the first 15 or so minutes of the movie. Batman also seems to fall for the most obvious person potentially responsible without really questioning it or looking into it too much. And guess what, he’s right because SPOILER WARNING it’s all three of the new female characters wearing the costume. I didn’t see that coming by any stretch, but it also wasn’t that surprising because you KNOW it’s got to be one of the three female characters.

There were some fun fight scenes and action sequences, but overall it just wasn’t all that fun to watch. Plus, they decided to cast David Ogden Stiers as the Penguin and redesign him while all the other characters retained their voice actors and the appearance they had in the Animated Series’ later relaunch. I will say that the design on the Batwoman costume was fun, even though it’s really really similar to the on from Batman Beyond. It should be noted that TAS masterminds Paul Dini and Bruce Timm had nothing to do with this movie, at least as far as the credits on IMDb go, so that might explain why the quality isn’t as high as those cartoons. Ah well, it wasn’t a complete waste of time and definitely isn’t the worst of the animated bunch I’ve ever seen. Hopefully everything from here will at least be a little better though.

Christmas Stories: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is officially my favorite Christmas song. It’s also the one standard that’s been in my life the shortest period of time. Somehow, I have no recollection of this song before hearing Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell sing it in 2003’s Elf. I was instantly hooked and not just because of my (at that time) newfound lady crush Ms. Deshanel. I did a little research (ie typed the song’s title in over at Wikipedia) and found out the song was written by a guy named Frank Loesser back in 1944 to sing with his wife at holiday parties. He eventually sold it to MGM and they used it in a 1949 movie I’ve never heard of called Neptune’s Daughter. Since then tons and tons of people have taken a crack at singing this duet. I did some searching on YouTube and here are a few of my favorite renditions.

Zooey & Will in Elf.

Rainn Wilson & Selma Blair switch gender roles in this Gap video from 2008 that I don’t remember.

Ha, looks like the whole gender switch thing was done first in Neptune’s Daughter in this clip starring Red Skelton & Esther Williams.

Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews. This video is weird, like something out of Twin Peaks.

Lady Antebellum last year on Today. Skip to about 1:25 for the actual song.

This one’s only audio and pictures, but you can’t go wrong with Dean Martin & Martina McBride.

Rudolf Nureyev & Miss Piggy on The Muppet Show (again, switching the parts) in the steam room.

There was also a version on SNL back in ’86 sung by Sigourney Weaver and Buster Poindexter that I’d like to see. Well, I’m off to dinner, have a good one!

Last Weekend Roundup

2008-11-24
4:58:28 am

Whew, it’s been a busy few weeks. I was pretty exhausted for most of last week, but Em and I did watch a bunch of movies last Sunday to celebrate the new TV. Instead of watching special effects heavy movies like Iron Man or Transformers we went in the opposite direction and watched a pair of romantic comedies. Not exactly my usual, but I did enjoy both flicks.

The first was a movie that had been sitting near our TV for a few weeks along with Drop Dead Gorgeous which Em borrowed from her friend Lee (hey Lee). It’s called The Sweetest Thing (2002) and stars Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, Selma Blair, Jason Bateman and The Punisher, er, Tom Jane. I’ll be honest, it’s been over a week and my memory’s definitely fuzzy, but basically Diaz falls for Tom Jane in a club and then tries to go after him at what she thinks is her brother’s (Bateman) but is really Jane’s. Plot-wise, it’s a pretty standard romantic comedy, but it’s the flourishes that make this a pretty good flick. Diaz and Applegate have some pretty over the top scenes and they often sneak into annoying territory with their catch phrases and Diaz’s mugging for the camera. But all in all, if you’ve got to watch a RomCom, it’s a pretty good one.

We also checked out Run Fatboy Run (2007) which also falls into the romantic comedy genre and follows a lot of the standard tropes, but I’m a big Simon Pegg fan and David Schwimmer did a great job directing him, Hank Azaria and Thandie Newton. Pegg plays a dude who ran out on his pregnant fiance (Newton) on their wedding day. Now it’s five years later, they’ve got a kid, he works as a security guard at a clothing store where he runs down bra-stealing trannies and Newton’s dating the super succesful Azaria who likes to run marathons. Pegg realizes how big of a mistake he made and now wants to made good by showing people (mostly her, his kid and himself) that he can run a marathon in England (where he lives).

What I do like about RFR is that, even though it is kind of paint by numbers, Schwimmer uses a few different colors than you might expect. Like a lot of other RomComs, we see that Azaria’s maybe not the greatest guy and we do feel good when Newton finally realizes this. But, and this is a SPOILER at the end, after Azaria’s out of the picture and Pegg’s proven he’s a good dude, it’s not like he and Newton just fall in love again. I appreciate that.

So far, I haven’t seen Pegg in anything that I didn’t like, except for the flick that he co-starred with Schwimmer in called Big Nothing which really didn’t do anything for me. He’s even the reason I’m looking forward to Star Trek, though now that I’ve seen the previews, that movie is really making me want to see it, so kudos to the marketing team.

Yeah, I know romantic comedies probably aren’t what you expected to read about in this first post after a slow week, but I’m trying to catch up on what I read and watched over the week. Until next time…