Thursday, August 16, 2012

ANI-MOVIES, *DC Showcase

DC Universe decided to go ahead and take their DC Showcase features from three of their prior regular full-length releases into a single movie anthology, along with a brand new longer segment, the headliner of Superman/Shazam: The Return Of Black Adam. It also claims to have all three of the previous shorts now in expanded editions, but that is not the case with this as none of the shorts of The Spectre, Jonah Hex, or Green Arrow were changed in any way from their original release. Why they advertised it like this I have no idea, as Warner Bros. is usually pretty straight forward with their promotions and let you know what you’re really getting.

The first feature is of Superman/Shazam that actually acts as an origin story for Captain Marvel, which is pretty cool since there’s never really been anything done of him outside the comic books. BTW, I need to point out that this is the DC Comics’ Captain Marvel who is really the original one, and not the Marvel Comics character of the same name. There’s a long history behind that involving copyrights and whatnot, that I suggest you look up on your own time. Anyway, it opens with an evil superpowered baddy called Black Adam arriving on Earth after hitchhiking it across the galaxy for the last 5,000 years. Adam was given the powers of the Greek Gods by the wizard Shazam long ago, but went rogue, so the wizard sent him far into space. Now that he’s returned, Adam seeks out the next one who will inherit the powers of Shazam. It turns out to be a young orphen named Billy Batson who is currently being interviewed by Clark Kent for a news report on the homeless(even though he has an apartment). Adam shows up and flings Kent through a wall, although conveniently Superman shows up(weird!)to give him a run for his money. Billy manages to escape, and is magically sent to the underground lair of the aging Shazam. He gives Billy the ability to turn into an older version of himself with the powers of flight, speed, and superstrength, with the new name of Captain Marvel. He and Superman team up to take down Black Adam, and with the help of Shazam’s talking tiger friend, con the villain into reverting back to his old form which ages him five millenia in a single moment. The mini-movie ends with Billy sorta forgetting the whole concept of a “secret identity” when confronted by some punks. This was a great little feature which explored some of the old DC Comics Presents territory where Superman would team up with other heroes in Brave And The Bold fashion. It was wonderfully directed by Joaquim Dos Santos who also did great work in Avatar: The Last Airbender, as well as the other DC Showcase shorts.

The first of the three original Showcase stories is The Spectre which is done like a cross between a 70s detective TV show and a grindhouse movie. Jim Corrigan is a police detective who is really the Spirit of Vengenance, and as the Spectre he hunts down the murderers of an ex-girlfriend’s rich father. This has some particularly spooky and gripping scenes in it. The Spectre himself is very convincing as voiced by Gary Cole(aka: Harvey Birdman!)

Next is Green Arrow, where the Emerald Archer has to rescue a young princess in an airport from assassins. He gets into a chase with several thugs while being shot at by the evil archer, Merlyn The Magnificent. GA bests Merlyn, but is nearly taken out by his client, Count Vertigo. Luckily, Black Canary shows up to bail Arrow out. Neal McDonough was fine as GA, and Malcom McDowell is charismatic as ever as Merlyn.

The final bit is Jonah Hex which was phenomenally better than that crappy live-action movie. It’s a regular tale of the horribly scarred gunslinger with no supernatural plotpoints thrown in for no good reason. Jonah goes hunting for an outlaw with a large bounty on him, and runs a fowl of a crooked but dead sexy bar owner and her goons. This holds up as being a great Old West tale, while still holding onto the great feel of a nostalgic comic story. Thomas Jane is also just as tough as the voice of Hex, and not just doing a Western version of The Punisher.

Aside from how there was nothing new added to the previously released shorts, I’d say this is worth at least renting if you didn’t have the Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths, Batman: Under The Red Hood, or Superman/Batman: Apocalypse special edition DVDs or Blu-Rays. I dunno if there are plans to release Superman/Shazam as a bonus on an upcoming feature release, but otherwise unless you’re a huge Superman or Capt. Marvel fan you might wanna save your money until this ends up in the used DVD rack.

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