One of the most iconic graphic novels of all time finally has an animated adaptation. Batman: The Killing Joke was one of the darkest stories to come from the mind of Alan Moore, best known for also creating Watchmen and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It addressed a darker version of the characters of Gotham that comic-book and graphic-novel enthusiasts had rarely seen before. This work of art, along with Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One, helped to revitalize the titular character from his early detective days and the television series starring Adam West, transforming into the darker narratives most people associate him with today. The original The Killing Joke graphic novel was not initially a critical hit for its story, but was praised for its art direction and detail.
The Joker once again breaks free from Arkham Asylum and decides to prove to his enemies that everyone has an edge of insanity within them. The story also explores further the relationship between Batman and the Joker, and Batman's fears that one day it will all go too far and one of them will die because of it. The Joker is given a possible backstory as well, although readers are led to believe he is an unreliable narrator (one of his memorable lines being "Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another ... If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!").
Director: Sam Liu
Cast: Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, Ray Wise
Release Date: July 25 (limited), July 29 (Digital HD), August 2 (Blu-Ray, DVD)
Suicide Squad, the motion picture DC Comics has been banking on for months to revitalize their expanded universe. It was in trouble the moment Warner Bros. decided to release the 2015 Comic-Con trailer feeling they couldn't have it "represented by the poor quality of the pirated footage stolen from our [DC Comics] presentation." Then, reshoots were ordered by WB executives, causing further speculation there were problems with the film. The marketing was heavily altered thanks to the critical failure of Batman v Superman and behind-the-scenes restructuring of DC Comics led to attempts for funnier, more character-oriented, formulaic fun.
Suicide Squad, the DC answer to Marvel's own Guardians of the Galaxy, is based on the popular comic book series released in 2011, with some of the characters' backstories combined from previous efforts (past films, TV shows, etc.). In the aftermath of Superman's "death" (did anyone really think he was actually going to die or stay dead?), government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) takes it upon herself (with government approval) to enlist a task force of who she deems as "metahumans" to combat future threats to their world. This includes the Joker's psychotic sweetheart (and fan favorite) Harley Quinn, hitman Deadshot, Killer Croc, El Diablo, and Captain Boomerang. Another one that Amanda tries to recruit, the Enchantress (Paper Towns's Cara Delvingne), goes out of control and begins to terrorize the city, leaving our band of rogues to find out what the hell's going on and stop this madness so they can bring a little of their own.
Director: David Ayer
Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne
Release Date: August 5, 2016
Studio: Warner Bros., RatPac Entertainment, DC Comics
Finally, finally, finally, after a full year's delay of a worldwide release, The Little Prince makes its way to the United States. Director Mark Osborne's follow-up to the highly acclaimed Kung Fu Panda takes a spin on the popular children's book of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, about a mysterious boy, his fox, and an aviator stuck in the desert. The movie adds another element of plot to stretch it to a proper length, a story which involves the relationship between a workaholic mother and her young daughter. The young daughter, known as The Little Girl, meets an older version of the aviator and, in turn, she experiences the story of The Little Prince as the audience does, learning valuable life lessons along the way.
The Little Prince made its debut last year at the Cannes Film Festival in France, and Paramount Pictures had picked up the rights for distribution in the United States shortly after. Initially intended for a theatrical release in March, Paramount dropped the film from its slate one week before its scheduled date for reasons that have yet to be explained. Fortunately, Netflix picked up the US distribution rights, with the film becoming available to stream starting August 5th.
The Little Prince is a gorgeously animated feature and remarkably inventive in adapting its source material. The world of the little prince is youthful, bright, colorful, and unique, in stark contrast to the bland and grey business of the real world The Little Girl inhabits. The childlike innocence and wonder of these worlds is perfectly captured stylistically in both the prince's journey and The Little Girl's adventures.
Director: Mark Osborne
Cast: Mackenzie Foy, Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Riley Osborne, Paul Rudd, James Franco, Albert Brooks
Studio: Netflix, Paramount Pictures France, Kaibou Productions, On Animation Studios, Onyx Films
Release Date: July 29, 2015 (France); August 5, 2016 (Netflix)