Friday, March 13, 2009

Double Reviews: Batman and Wolverine Cartoons

Cartoons have always had a special place in my heart. Even nowadays I still tune in for Batman the Animated Series and other great cartoons. Though this new age of cartoons has had it’s fair share of disappointments. CG has become a crutch to lean on and helps make easy cheap and often stupid shows that are as mindless as can be.

Though as luck would have it every so often a good cartoon still emerges here and there. For 2008 the best cartoon was easily The Spectacular Spider-man, a great mix of story and incredible animation helped it stand out and make a huge impression on me and reminded me why I loved Spider-man when growing up.

Though at the end of 2008 we got another cartoon from a long beloved hero, Batman. Though this series came out in the last couple of months of the year so I rather regard this as more of an early 2009 series then anything.

Another early 2009 cartoon is Wolverine and the X-men, another Marvel animated series that chronicles a new chapter in X-history. With comic writers at the helm of the series it was easy to figure this would at least accomplish some goals of being a good series.

So we’ve got 2 cartoons in 2009 both with long beloved heroes in new situations that are both familiar yet fresh. Both with a new direction for the series’ they continue on and both with a lot to accomplish in pleasing children of the new age and still giving a little something to fans of the older cartoons.

First we’ll review Batman and then Wolverine after. Similar to my Hulk vs. Review.

Batman the Brave and the Bold, or just Batman as we’ll call it to save some time, has a total shift for what people are used to for Batman. It’s almost anti-Batman in how campy fun and over the top it gets. Though the creators know this and they don’t try to hide it like The Batman (Series, not character) did.

Use of more obscure DC characters is the key to what makes this series so great. It’s so awesome to see Blue Beetle and Wildcat teaming up with Batman and doing all kinds of great things that they never got the animated spotlight so well before.

Though longtime Batman fans will no doubt feel a bit of loss over no dark atmosphere, Gotham being less important and so far no Boy Wonder or Alfred in sight. Also Bruce Wayne might as well not exist as we’ve yet to see his face, just the back of his head once in a flashback.

This is undeniably the shows biggest weakness, but already it’s being remedied. Alfred was mentioned in the Christmas themed episode and we also saw a brief retelling of Batman’s origin as far as the death of his parents. It was also redone where they took Bruce to see the movie since he was upset with his Christmas gift not being a swashbuckling action figure. I really loved that look into his past but the creators are really sorely missing out on a great opportunity to do more with it. We also saw Bruce’s parents as spirits visiting him when he could have gone to heaven when he was dying.

We finally see Gotham in a recent 2 part storyline as well as the Joker and the Batcave. With any luck more of Batman’s family will show up later.

Now the episodes are often one full story, plus an opener that has nothing to do wit the actual storyline. Something simple like Batman spending 3 minutes of knocking around a villain with another hero. Probably just to set the right tone for a fun light hearted action story.

animation is just okay, I like the stylish designs but I hate the use of CG. To me CG is a really lazy cop out, most of the time anyway, as often it looks cheap and poorly put together. The CG here is still pretty bad though luckily the animator doesn’t rely on it too much. Still it looks so out of place to see a giant machine here or there or a car that’s overly CG in an animated world.

Not all the stories are great. Mostly Aquaman’s are weak as he’s appeared a few times and it’s often been boring.

Though overall for what it is, Batman’s latest animated adventures have turned out to be cool fun and enjoyable. Check out the show on Cartoon Network if interested, though be warned, it may help to turn off your brain a little while watching.

7 out of 10

Watch It

To let you all know, yes, I am working out regular Movie/Show based review scores. So far you’ve only seen 3.

Now to review Wolverine and the X-men.

The concept of this show seems to mostly take the X-men back to what they where all about back at their height of popularity and that was a discriminated group of heroes struggling to keep the world sane and their people alive. Taking out Xavier and putting him in some weird psychic future thing we have a re-created X-men team with Wolverine in charge.

While Wolverine tries to become a leader as best he can he has to battle with his slowly returning past and from there is the main point of the series.

The plot recreates a lot of what was always cool with the X-men, things like Mutant registration and a growing hatred always mounting with every new episode. Though the plot does suffer a bit from the fact that it clearly has a larger story to tell but can’t really get to the meat of it right away. Though really the same can be said for any story that follows along these lines.

Character work is where the series shines as most characters, notably Wolverine and Rogue, shine. If you’re a fan of any of the X-men characters within the show you’ll probably find something to love about this show.

Overall the plot is good from episode to episode and just about every episode so far has been real fun to watch and an exciting joyride.

The place where this show is both weak and strong is animation. I know, confusing. While in a lot of cases the animation is cool and well done, the designs are great and every character has a cool look and attacks look awesome. Though with regular human work and more talkative moments the animation looks flat and even in some of the action it can look flat. This was most painfully obvious during the episode Wolverine vs. Hulk, where Hulk looked like a cheesy action figure come to life. Still the animation is a mix of good and bad, more or less depending on whatever episode you watch.

Overall I really dig this series and it’s something that can be more appreciated by longtime fans as well as new generations and for that it is a bit better.

8 out of 10

Must Watch It

Final Words: Both cartoons are accessible to fans of the series, no matter how old, and new generations of children looking for a good cartoon. Compared to most of the pathetic lazy crap on the TV nowadays their both 10 times better then the competition (not including the best of them, Spectacular Spider-man.)

If you’ve got any children, or nephews and nieces or if you baby-sit kids, their both good and really cool shows that I’m sure they would dig. Though if you yourself are interested, check them both out. No final grade really for either though, they both get their own solid score.

*Edit: The scores have been upped by one, after a while I decided to change them when I realized that Batman was not as low as 6 and Wolverine was better then a 7. Just a personal change when re-watching some episodes over the Weekend*


Greg said...

Wow, man. I find your ratings for these to be damn low. I find them both to be fantastic. I'd give Batman 9.5/10 and X-Men about 8.

Andrenn said...

So far I'm not overly impressed with either, though I don't mind that your scores are much higher. Just shows our opinions differ.