It’s Halloween in Gotham, and there’s been a breakout at Arkham Asylum. I think the Gotham news agencies can just go ahead and save that headline for use every Halloween . . . and most every other day, as well. This particular breakout involves Silver Banshee and Solomon Grundy, who immediately take to the streets to wreak . . . yep, you guessed it . . . mayhem. It soon becomes clear, however, that these two have been set free with a purpose in mind, and it comes as little shock (SLIGHT SPOILER, but only if you’ve never seen any kind of Batman anything ever) that someone whose name rhymes with “The Croaker” is orchestrating things from behind the scenes.

A good LEGO movie is composed of a never-ending stream of puns, physical gags, hidden references, and fun for both kids and adults. I recently tested out all of these elements in a family viewing of Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom with my 8-year-old son and (age redacted) husband.

Dark, alternate universes are nothing new to the comic book genre, but there does always seem to be something exciting about a new, dark, alternate universe featuring your favorite superheroes. That type of Elseworlds thrill is exactly what Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series) and the rest of the cast and crew have crafted with the latest DC Universe Animated Original Movie, Justice League: Gods and Monsters. Featuring an impressively talented cast and completely new takes on the iconic characters of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and many others, Gods and Monsters continues the “winning streak” of quality superhero stories that DC Animated seems destined to deliver.

After hearing about the animated film, Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery, my initial reaction was to wonder how it has taken 40 years for this team-up to happen. One is a group of colorful characters who have been entertaining children of all ages for generations, and the other is a marketing juggernaut that has become one of the most iconic brands around . . . I will let you decide which one is which.

"Hello, my name is Frank. I have Tourette’s.” This is the nametag that Frank (Garrett M. Brown) wears constantly in the film of the same name to explain to strangers why he sporadically bursts into profanity and occasionally barks like a dog. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work very well, and he’s still frequently ostracized for something that he can’t help.

How do you find happiness? What do you do about regret? What would you do if you had a chance to change a single mistake in your life? These are some of the questions explored in the quirky and fun Welcome to Happiness, which screened at Dances With Films on Sunday.

I rather enjoyed Echo Lake, which has me a bit worried. The film, which screened at Dances With Films earlier this week, was explained to me as having an unlikable protagonist, and without a happy ending. Well, I rather liked and, furthermore, identified with, the protagonist. And, though the ending isn’t exactly tied up with a ribbon and bows, I found it happy in its own small way, or at least satisfying.

Parallax is the story of a man trying to create the Internet, sort of. Taking place in the 1980s, he uses television sets and radio waves to build a revolutionary, new communications device that will connect everyone to everyone else. In the meantime, he himself becomes more and more isolated, as he withdraws into his obsession with making his dream a reality.

The basic plot synopsis for Actor for Hire, which premiered at Dances With Films this week and was written/directed by Marcus Mizelle, goes something like this: A bald actor, down on his luck and struggling to find work in L.A., buys himself a wig and suddenly finds everything starting to go his way. This is technically accurate, but there’s much more to it than that. Actor for Hire is a funny, real, and often an uncomfortable look at what it takes to make it in the business.

For pretty much anyone who’s reading this, chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve wanted to be a superhero. Having superhuman powers would be amazing, of course, but the appeal is more than that. It’s the confidence they project, the respect they command, and the unflappable nobility that they exude that makes superheroes so cool, and that makes us long to be them.

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