Vids I Dig 170: Midnight’s Edge: The History of Aronofsky’s ‘Batman Year One’ and Other Cancelled DC Movies

From the Midnight’s Edge YouTube description: While DC’s comic output is legendary, cinematically the brand has traditionally left some to be desired. Numerous in-development DC TV shows, video games, and especially films have been canceled over the years, some highly anticipated, others reviled both before and after cancellation.

In this video, we will discuss the troubled developments behind, and the stories five such films could have told, namely Lobo, Plastic Man, Green Arrow, Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman and Darren Aronofsky’s Batman: Year One.

Comic Review: Frank Miller’s Sin City, Vol. 2: A Dame to Kill For

Published: 1993-1994
Written by: Frank Miller
Art by: Frank Miller

Dark Horse, 212 Pages

Review:

Well, damn…

I guess this is an example of Frank Miller’s consistency being an issue with me. I didn’t think it started this far back but after digging the first Sin City story, this one missed its mark, fell flat and if I’m being honest, was a total let down.

There are five more volumes after this one but A Dame to Kill For took the wind out of my sails and I’m not too enthused about continuing on.

The strange thing is that I can’t really peg why this story didn’t resonate with me like the previous one. It just felt like it rehashed some things and grasped on to some tropes too hard. But they really shouldn’t be tropes just after one story but I’m assuming this relying too heavily on familiarity is going to be an issue in the other stories as well.

Compared to the first book this was also kind of boring and became so overloaded with characters it was hard to remember who was who and what the hell was happening. This just felt like a convoluted mess.

The art style is the same as the first story but it actually feels less refined here and it almost looks rushed.

I don’t want to come off as an asshole and completely shit on this book but I’ve got to call a turd a turd.

It barely held my attention, it nearly put me to sleep and it was hard to look at where the original story looked much better in regards to the art.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: the other collected volumes of Sin City.

Comic Review: Frank Miller’s Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye

Published: 1991-1992
Written by: Frank Miller
Art by: Frank Miller

Dark Horse, 210 Pages

Review:

My first experience with Sin City was seeing the 2005 movie when it hit theaters.

At the time that the original comic was coming out, I was aware of it but I was still a pre-teen obsessing over bright, colorful, ’90s superhero comics.

It wasn’t until I got older that I started to get more into film-noir and crime fiction.

Still, I never actually picked up Sin City until now.

I’ve got to say though, the film, at least the Marv stuff, was a beat for beat retelling of this story. That’s not a bad thing, as I loved that the Watchmen movie was very close to the source material.

If you have seen the film already but haven’t read this, there isn’t much in the comic that isn’t in the film. But if you appreciate Frank Miller’s Sin City world, you really should experience it in its original form and in the medium it was designed for.

That being said, I like the comic, at least this first volume, more than I like the movie.

Miller wrote a solid, compelling mystery and his art style is really unique. This feels more like it is pure noir than a lot of the other neo-noir comics of the last quarter century or so.

While I’m not a die hard Miller fan, this is one of his best pieces of work. This was created when the guy was just making magic on a regular basis.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: the other collected volumes of Sin City.

Film Review: Batman: Year One (2011)

Release Date: September 27th, 2011 (Spain)
Directed by: Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
Written by: Tab Murphy
Based on: Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli
Music by: Christopher Drake
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Ben McKenzie, Eliza Dushku, Jon Polito, Alex Rocco, Katee Sackhoff, Grey DeLisle, Stephen Root

Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, 64 Minutes

Review:

“Twelve years. And the ache is still fresh. Like a raw angry nerve. But this isn’t about healing. I’m not looking for closure.” – Batman

This was a pretty short film, even for a DC Comics animated feature. Not counting the credits, this was exactly one hour and it played more like a pilot for an hour long Batman animated series for adult fans than it did a movie.

That’s certainly not a knock, as this was pretty solid, overall. It was a really good adaptation of the original Frank Miller story, even though these DC animated films take a lot of creative liberties.

It captures the gist of the story and the tone of the comic. Although, this does feel less gritty but I think that is due to it being very clean looking animation mixed with obvious CGI in parts. I wasn’t a fan of the CGI bits, as they stick out like a sore thumb and don’t blend well with the overall visual composition.

The plot and the script are very good though. But they are truly brought to life by a heck of a cast that boasts Bryan Cranston, Ben McKenzie (who went on to be the star of Gotham), Eliza Dushku, Katee Sackhoff, Alex Rocco, Jon Polito, Stephen Root and solid voice actress, Grey DeLisle. The voice acting was superb and it made this a better film than it would have been with a lesser cast.

I guess I actually would’ve liked this to be a bit longer. It rushes through the story, which isn’t too dissimilar from the comic it is based on, but I felt like some added context and more plot and character development could’ve put this at the level of the two-part The Dark Knight Returns animated picture.

Still, this is a good outing by Warner Bros. animation studio and it’s definitely in the upper echelon of animated Batman flicks.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: other DC animated films, primarily those featuring Batman.

Comic Review: The Complete Frank Miller RoboCop Omnibus

Published: December 7th, 2016
Written by: Frank Miller, Ed Brisson
Art by: Korkut Oztekin, Juan Jose Ryp
Based on: RoboCop by Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner

BOOM! Studios, 400 Pages

Review:

This collection is really just two stories, it is Frank Miller’s versions of RoboCop 2 and RoboCop 3.

The comics here are adaptations of the screenplays that Miller wrote but went unused by the studio. However, there is a ton of stuff in these stories that were actually used in the final films. Also, I believe that these are reworked to a degree, as Ed Brisson cleaned up some of the writing and there are things that feel like homages to the two RoboCop sequels more than they were actually in Miller’s script. For instance, a cameo by the Kane robot from RoboCop 2 but with a different brain.

Overall, this was enjoyable but it was bogged down by mostly crappy art. I understand that this style may appeal to some and I think it was chosen because it had an ’80s outlaw comics feel to it but it wasn’t fluid, was often times hard to look at and understand and it put a halt on the narrative’s momentum quite a bit.

Additionally, this was so over the top and edgy boi cringe that I can see why Miller’s scripts were completely reworked and polished into something more palatable for the mainstream. And sure, RoboCop is an over the top, edgy movie for its time but this pushes the bar way too far. Miller seemed to have no restraint and went for shock value and absolute absurdity over writing anything that seemed to build off of the original film in a meaningful or logical way.

The tone is just wrong. I can see where Miller though it was right but these stories are really devoid of the humanity that made RoboCop a much better movie than it should have been.

I can’t say that this is a waste of time for hardcore RoboCop fans. It is at least interesting because it shows you what the sequel films could have been and both of these stories are better than the final film that was RoboCop 3. However, I’d put the final cinematic version of RoboCop 2 well above either of these strange and baffling tales.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: the old Marvel RoboCop comics run.

Film Review: RoboCop 3 (1993)

Release Date: May 1st, 1993 (Japan)
Directed by: Fred Dekker
Written by: Frank Miller, Fred Dekker
Based on: characters by Edward Neumeier, Michael Miner
Music by: Basil Poledouris
Cast: Robert John Burke, Nancy Allen, Robert DoQui, Felton Perry, Rip Torn, Mako, John Castle, CCH Pounder, Stephen Root, Jeff Garlin, Shane Black, Bradley Whitford

Orion Pictures, 104 Minutes

Review:

“Well, I gotta hand it to ya. What do they call ya? Murphy, is it?” – The CEO, “My friends call me Murphy. You call me… RoboCop.” – RoboCop

RoboCop 3 should not exist. Well, at least in the form that it does.

For one, Peter Weller left the series and Nancy Allen’s Lewis gets killed off pretty early on, leaving us with a movie mostly devoid of the actors and characters we’ve come to care about except for a few minor side ones like the the police sergeant and Johnson.

Not even Dan O’Herlihy came back to play the Old Man in charge of OCP. I guess his absence was explained by OCP being bought by a Japanese company. So instead of the great O’Herlihy, we got a bored looking Rip Torn as the new head of OCP. Johnson was still there though, even if he felt out of place hamming it up with new office buddies.

The story deals with a bunch of poor people getting violently thrown out of their homes so OCP can steal the land and build Delta City, which has been an overused plot point since the first movie. RoboCop catches feelings for the poor people, especially after meeting a four year-old girl that hacks ED-209s and watching Lewis get gunned down by a private military company hired by OCP. There’s also some terrible cyborg ninjas in this. Oh, and RoboCop gets a pointless gun arm and a lame as shit jetpack.

The special effects in this are laughably bad, even looked at within the context of the era this was made in. This is a much cheaper looking movie than RoboCop and RoboCop 2 by a wide margin. ED-209 looks about the same but I’m sure they just reused one of the robots from the first film. RoboCop himself is a new actor but he’s wearing Peter Weller’s suit, which was too short for the new actor and caused him a lot of pain.

RoboCop 3 is just one costly shitshow that has nothing redeeming hidden within it. I’ve only seen this one a few times but I’ve watched the first two at least a dozen times each. This is just really hard to sit through and pretty much a pointless film, overall.

Rating: 3.75/10
Pairs well with: the first two RoboCop movies but they’re far superior and I guess any bad RoboCop ripoffs with an extremely low budget, hokey effects and crappy acting.