Titans, S1 E1, Review By Case Wright (Dir. Brad Anderson)


titans

Titans isn’t your Dad’s superhero show, unless your Dad was awesome and loved Watchmen and if that’s the case he EARNED the World’s Best Dad mug!!! This is also different because it’s on the DC Universe subscription site and you’re like ….

But Case, I already already have Netflix and Hulu and Comcast and a burgeoning Methylphenidate habit because I’ve got this Calculus exam and I’m afraid of losing my funding….I mean …..smoking. 

My response is:

DROP HULU and get this subscription!!!! You get digital access to EVERY SINGLE DC Comics, Movie, show, anime, tv series, and this AWESOME SHOW!!!!

Back to the show!!!

The show takes place in Gotham? NOPE.  Metropolis? Nope! Vaguely Vancouver? Well….

It takes place in Detroit! The story revolves around an Angry PTSD Robin.  Honestly, it’s pretty accurate!  I have friends that have looked for trouble and found it.  They see a guy beating up his girlfriend or harassing a lady and they mete out the justice right there.  That’s who Robin is.  He’s angry and worked for Batman: a rich guy who liked to beat the snot out of troublemakers.  I am not saying it’s right and I never indulged in that kind of wrath, but I understand.  The law can be supine when it comes to justice, it’s good at order, but justice…not so much.  This is the world where Robin and the other Capes live.  A world where the justice is instantaneous and the world shrugs.  It comes from a real place.  Afghanistan and much of the World operates the same way: the criminal justice system is corrupt, incompetent, feckless or all three, leading people to embrace extra-judicial solutions, but their vigilantes wear surplus fatigues instead of costumes.  By far, that’s why we failed in Afghanistan, the Taliban could offer something we could not: instant brutal justice.

The show is brilliantly written by Geoff Johns and Greg Berlanti. If you don’t know who they are: Wonder Woman, Arrow, Smallville, Flash, and everything with the DC on it- they did.  If you notice the fast pace and lived-in dreariness, that’s all Brad Anderson. He directed the pilot as well as the Hawk and Dove episode.  Brad is a veteran of the show The Killing- a gritty dark murder mystery that takes place in the greatest city on Earth- SEATTLE. He is a David Fincher 2.0 with his brutal dystopian realism.  Every shot is almost always near winter as if the seasons themselves have given up.  The cities are as decaying and broken as their inhabitants.

The story starts rolling with Rachel Roth who is confused, angry, and on the run.  She watches her mother get killed by an unknown assassin and she goes scary as shit and whoops ass!  Then, she flees for Detroit and is nearly human trafficked, but her alter ego warns her in a reflection because it has to be done in the most creepy way possible.  I am not sure if keeping this girl alive is really in humanity’s best interest.

This forces her path to cross Dick Grayson (Robin) who has left Batman to become a Detroit Police Detective.  He tries to be on the right side of the law for awhile, but he sees child abusers go free and dons the cape again to mete out justice. By mete out justice, he beats people within an inch of their lives: see below! After Robin gets his 30 lbs of flesh, he gets pulled into a mystery surrounding a girl named Rachel Roth who just might be the harbinger of the apocalypse.   Side note: I have known A LOT of cops over the years; the Army’s lousy with them.  Brenton’s portrayal is very accurate for a long-term detective: he self-deprecates, but he’s really hard to know.  I would have him make some more practical jokes or kid around more a bit.  Most guys like that hide their feelings in humor a lot, but other than that, it’s flawless.

There is one scene, which is in a gif below: Robin is cleaning up his weapons after beating people nearly to death and that reminded me of my Soldier days.  You finish your training exercise or patrol.  Maybe you fought. In any case, it’s over.  Everyone gets quiet, some shirtless, all the cleaning implements are placed neatly, and you methodically clean your weapons in a very zen activity. This was a great and accurate detail.

weapons.gif

Our next hero is Koriand’r – she has no idea who she is, but she knows how to dress.  She’s a mix of badass, sexy, and neck breaking! She does all three.  There’s Russian dudes out of nowhere and she goes full-on Firestarter and burns them to DEATH! You feel almost kind of bad for them. Almost.  She has a 70s soundtrack wherever she goes.  I’m starting to blush.  Anyway. She ascertains that she needs to go to Detroit and find Rachel Roth.  In this show, who doesn’t realize that?!

The show cuts back to Rachel who meets Dick, but she’s kidnapped by a very unlucky man.  Rachel wakes to see her mother’s killer.  Wow, did he pick the wrong lady to mess with! Dick goes to rescue her, but Rachel’s dark nature takes over, she enters and explodes her would-be killer!!!! It’s AWESOME AND GROSS!!! Dick becomes her protector.  Kordiand’r is on her way to Motown. We even meet Beast Boy who likes to commit petty theft as a green tiger.

This series is the best show on television. PERIOD.

If you like my work, read the rest of it, retweet it, re-blog it, tell my editor @lisamariebowman that you like my work.  Of course, if you hate my work, I suppose there’s got to be a pill for that.

Review: Rats: Night of Terror (dir. by Bruno Mattei)


Can one scene make an otherwise thoroughly useless movie worth seeing?

That’s the question that I’m pondering right now as I attempt to write this review of 1984‘s Rats: Night of Terror.

Rats: Night of Terror opens in the 23rd century.  As the result of a nuclear war, Earth has been transformed into a barbaric wasteland.  While the majority of humankind has retreated underground, small bands of scavengers occasionally get dressed up like a New Order tribute band before coming to the surface and driving around on their motorcycles. The movie follows one group of survivors as they scavenge for food, come across a deserted ghost town, and eventually end up getting attacked by hundreds of rats.

For the most part, that’s the movie.  None of the characters are all that memorable and the so-called rats appear to be bored.  For the most part, the film wouldn’t even be worth reviewing except for the Scene.  After 90 minutes of languid mayhem, Rats: Night of Terror comes up with one scene that manages to be odd, brilliant, and numbingly stupid all at the same time.  The Scene simply has to be seen to be believed.

Director Bruno Mattei often said that Rats: Night of Terror was his personal favorite out of the countless number of exploitation films that he directed.  While it’s generally agreed that Mattei was responsible for making some of the worst films in history, I’ve always had a sneaky admiration for him.  It’s hard not to love someone who defies the odds while pursuing his dream.  Mattei’s dream was to make movies and he never let a thing like budget or talent to stand in his way.  While Mattei is best known for taking over the direction of Zombi 3 after Lucio Fulci walked off the set, he was a prolific director who dabbled in every genre.  Rats: Night of Terror is his contribution to the post-apocalyptic genre.

For a brief period in the 1980s, Italian exploitation filmmakers moved away from cannibals, gialli, and zombies and instead concentrated on making movies about post-apocalyptic bikers.  For the most part, I’ve never been a huge fan of these Italian versions of The Road.  There’s an overwhelming blandness to them.  If the underlying goal of Italian exploitation cinema was to make movies that could pass for American studio productions, then the postapocalyptic genre is the closest the Italians came to accomplishing that goal.  As opposed to the zombie films or the gialli, the only thing that was obviously Italian about the majority of these films was George Eastman.

Rats: Night of Terror, strangely enough, does not feature George Eastman.  What it does feature is a lot of gerbils.  We’re continually told, throughout the movie, that these gerbils are actually rats but no, they’re gerbils and they’re pretty obviously not only gerbils but cute gerbils too!

 I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who has a strong phobia of rats.  I can still remember when I was 12 years old and visiting my grandad’s farm in Arkansas.  I was exploring an old barn with my older sister, Erin.  The barn, which already smelled like death, was also full of hay and, within a few minutes of stepping inside, I stared to have trouble breathing.  I stepped outside, used my inhaler, and leaned up against the barn’s wall.  As I caught my breath, I heard a very distinct squeaking coming from inside the wall.  I jumped away from the wall, spun around, and realized that I had been resting my head against a small hole.  Staring contemptuously at me from inside that hole was a really ticked-off looking rat.  No matter how many times I washed my hair that day (and, believe me, I washed and rewashed it a lot), I could not stop imagining the feeling of germ-ridden rodents running across the back of my head.

Ever since that day, whenever I’ve seen a rat in a movie (or, God forbid, real life), I’ve remembered that feeling and it still makes me shudder.  It’s a reminder that, in the end, we’re all going to end being devoured by the same scavengers.

On the other hand, whenever I see a gerbil, I’m reminded of that episode of South Park where Mr. Garrison, attempting to get fired, makes Mr. Slave his new teaching assistant.

And whenever I see Rats: Night of Terror, I’m reminded of the Pandemic episodes of South Park because the gerbils in this film appear to be about as naturally aggressive as a bunch of guinea pigs dressed up like pirates.

Pirates!

 Yes, Rats: Night of Terror has a lot going against it.  The characters are boring, the rats are gerbils, and the director is Bruno Mattei.  It would be easy to dismiss this film if not for the Scene.  Oh, how I wish I could tell you something about the Scene without giving the whole thing away.  I wish there was some way I could safely expand on just how weird and silly and oddly wonderful the Scene is.

Tell you what.  My e-mail address is LisaMarieBowman@live.com.  Or you can talk to me on twitter where I’m @LisaMarieBowman.  If you’ve seen this movie or if you see the movie after reading this review, contact me and tell me what you thought when you saw the Scene.  Seriously, it’s something that has to be discussed.

If you haven’t seen the film, I’ll give you a clue about the Scene.  It happens at the end of the movie.  It makes absolutely no sense and it is so extremely odd that it actually makes you wonder if maybe the entire film was meant to be somehow satiric.  What’s especially odd is that most viewers usually guess what the Scene is going to be halfway through the film before then thinking, “No, no way.  There’s no way that’s going to happen.”

So, to a return to the original question, can one scene make an entire film worth seeing?

In the case of Rats: Night of Terror, the answer is yes.