Sunday, July 16, 2017

Why I hate the Batman Year One animated movie

Contrary to a lot of people saying "Animation is the one thing DC does perfectly" I have a lot of criticisms of what DC has done in animation.  Mostly it's with the string of straight to DVD animated films that began in 2007 (It's been a decade now, wow).  A lot of that I mainly ranted about on IMDB before I had this blog and so I now realize I haven't adequately archived it.

A lot of what bugs me comes down to the usual 70-75 minute run-time limit of these films.  I prefer movies longer then that to begin with, but especially making run-time a restriction on something adapted from source material is bound to be disastrous.

I get that these are meant to be inherently cheap, but the whole point is these would be cheaper even if they had the full length of a LA film.  But if Warner really doesn't want to put any more budget into these, then cut the number down from 3 to 2 per year, (especially now that they're doing other animated films outside this series like Lego stuff and the Unlimited stuff that I actually feel is underrated).  That way you can give an extra 30 minutes to each film.

A good deal have wound up being pretty good in-spite of this, but even those could have been improved by a little more fleshing out.  The best of them in my opinion are Justice League: New Frontier, Batman: Under The Red Hood, Superman Unbound and the Flashpoint one (my issues there come right from the source material, which is even worse for the New52 based series that followed it).

The problems that come from limiting the run-time begins with Superman Doomsday, right at the start of this series.  Even leaving aside that it wasn't a direct adaptation of the original story (where if it were I'd say It'd take at least three times this run-time).  It's still following a three act structure where each act should have needed at least a full 30 minutes.

Some comics are short enough that 70 minutes wouldn't be a problem.  In fact I fully get only needing 40 minutes for The Killing Joke.  The problem there is the separate Batgirl story, 1, should not have been that story at all, and 2, should have been like a separate movie on the same disc.

With The Dark Knight Returns they had the right idea splitting it in two, my only issue with those is removing the Film Noir style inner monologues, which hurt the second more then the first, since it totally removed all of Superman's characterization.

So my ongoing issue with how short these were was already building when Year One was announced.  And while I considered that pointless cause everything great about Year One we already saw in Nolan's movies, I was thinking maybe this one had a bit more of a shot at fitting 70 minutes then most.  But then they announced that they couldn't fill 70 minutes, that they had to add some new scenes and still couldn't fill it and that's why it has a DC Showcase short even though that series was supposed to be canceled already.

And I thought "What? what? a story that took 4 volumes you can't even force 70 minutes out of?"  Something didn't add up in my mind.  Then I saw the movie, and saw that they felt each panel was worth about 1 second of screen time, maybe 2 or 3 if they wanted to indulge.  This is the kind of comic where each individual panel is suggesting something that should take far longer to play out then it does to glance at the panel.  And so we wind up with a film that feels more like an hour long trailer.

The Year One comic I have, that I have had since the same year Batman Begins came out.  Is 96 pages, subtracting title pages at the volume breaks I will be generous and say the story took 85 pages.  Each page of this comic was eventful enough that if I directed an adaptation it would warrant at least a full minute per page.

What's interesting is how this issue I had with this Year One adaptation I have been reminded of a few times during my growing Anime fandom, with how some not so well praised Manga adaptations turned out.  I was reminded of it by something SFDebris said in one of his Kannazuki no Miko reviews (when I first watched them he'd only covered up to episode 7).  I think of it when thinking of some of these newer more faithful to the Manga then the original Animes, like Sailor Moon Crystal, Hellsing Ultimate and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (I haven't' watched the latter or any iteration of FMA yet however).  And most recently as I was writing a comment on the Yuri Nation blog about the currently airing Netsuzou Trap anime, my first time watching an Anime I'd already read the Manga for.

My other issue with Year One is another one I have with most of this series of films to some extent, and that is the casting.  I think Eliza Dushku was the most tolerable choice, but I really hate when animated projects hire actors who aren't actually voice actors.

Voice acting and Live Action Acting acting are different talents and different skills.  A few people are good at both, mainly Nolan North, (if you know Nolan only from his Voice work you need to watch Pretty Little Liars).  Lacey Chabert and Michelle Trachtenberg have done some decent voice work, but I may just have a personal bias for them.  Mark Hamil does acceptable live action work, but he's only great at Voice Acting.

Why is Year One worse then others in this regard?  Cause more then ever I feel like these actors weren't even trying.  The actors who do Anime dubs put their all into everything even though I'm sure they can't actually like every project they've done.

I know a lot of people online Fap to the very idea of Bryan Cranston as Gordon.  Maybe he would do it well in Live Action, but I don't see it.  However Cranston is not a voice actor, and it shows every line he speaks in this film.  But he doesn't come off as bad as he should when contrasted with Ben McKenzi's pathetic job as Bruce Wayne.

And I can return to the Budget discussion from before, because a lot of these big name actors who can't voice act are no doubt costing these films more money then most voice actors would.  Perhaps how much money this wastes is most shown in Crisis on Two Earths, I was okay with Mark Harmon's Superman, though I think he'd work better as like an older Earth Two Superman.  However James Woods as Owlman and a Baldwin as Batman?  Would you have guessed that if you didn't read the credits?  Because they gave two of the most uninspired performances as versions of the Batman I have ever heard.

Ya know who I'd like to hear voice Batman?  Crispin Freeman, and Johnny Yong Bosch as The Joker.

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