Paget Brewster

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (2013, Jay Oliva)

The strong parts of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 make the weak ones often easy to ignore. But nothing’s strong enough to overcome the weakest spots. First is the misogyny. I assume it’s straight from the comic. The filmmakers chose to embrace it (the fidelity to the source material is a lot of Part 2’s problem); it’s obvious–the new, female police commissioner ignores her smarter male elder juxtaposed against the new, female Robin who embraces hers–and tiring. Director Oliva really enjoys showing Batman punch out women too.

The second problem is Michael Emerson as the Joker. He’s awful and turns half of Part 2 into something of a waste of time. It has no emotional impact. Oliva’s action direction, Christopher Drake’s score and Christopher D. Lozinski’s editing are fantastic throughout. Part 2 is a great visual experience.

The second half has Mark Valley’s Superman and Valley does a fine job voicing him. Screenwriter Bob Goodman–and Miller–portray Superman as Reagan’s goon (the film keeps the eighties setting and Ronnie as the president), which doesn’t give Valley much to do, but he does well with what he’s got.

Peter Weller’s still good as Batman; but he too has little to do. He has maybe three real scenes in the entire runtime. Ariel Winter’s a little better as Robin than she was before, but maybe just because she’s in it less.

The filmmakers stick to the source material. They don’t improve it; it definitely needs improving.



Directed by Jay Oliva; screenplay by Bob Goodman, based on the comic book by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson and the character created by Bob Kane; edited by Christopher D. Lozinski; music by Christopher Drake; released by Warner Premiere

Starring Peter Weller (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Ariel Winter (Robin / Carrie Kelley), Michael Emerson (Joker), David Selby (Commissioner Gordon), Maria Canals-Barrera (Ellen Yindel), Mark Valley (Superman / Clark Kent), Michael Jackson (Alfred Pennyworth), Carlos Alazraqui (Congressman Noches), Tress MacNeille (Selina Kyle), Michael McKean (Dr. Bartholomew Wolper), Conan O’Brien (David Endocrine), Paget Brewster (Lana Lang), Frank Welker (Mayor Stevenson), Robin Atkin Downes (Oliver) and Jim Meskimen as the President of the United States.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (2012, Jay Oliva)

It’s interesting to hear Peter Weller voice Batman in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (is that title long enough?) since Dark Knight Returns, the comic, always felt like Batman meets Robocop. Not so much because of the tone, but because Frank Miller uses media intercuts to flesh out the setting just like Robocop does. In the film, director Oliva does the same thing. He and screenwriter Bob Goodman keep it all… even when the story turns into Miller’s fascist daydreams.

The film’s best at the beginning, with Weller and David Selby (as Commissioner Gordon) deal with aging. And then the return of Batman is well-done; the real stars of Returns, besides Weller, are director Oliva, composer Christopher Drake and editor Christopher D. Lozinski. They imagine Batman as an unstoppable slasher movie villain–Drake’s score even has the seventies synthesizers going–and the film transcends its low budget animation.

The problems arise once the story of Part 1 begin, which involve Batman fighting a big gang. Gary Anthony Williams voices the gang’s leader, so you have an obviously black guy voicing a big white skinhead. There’s a real disconnect.

Goodman’s script faithfully–at least as I recall–the comic, meaning the character development makes all sorts of silly jumps and the pacing is weak. The script gleefully wallows in Miller’s anti-progressiveness, like it alone will make Returns daring.

Weller and Oliva nearly make the entire thing worthwhile, but even they can’t combat the script’s insipid plot developments.



Directed by Jay Oliva; screenplay by Bob Goodman, based on the comic book by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson and the character created by Bob Kane; edited by Christopher D. Lozinski; music by Christopher Drake; released by Warner Premiere.

Starring Peter Weller (Bruce Wayne / Batman), David Selby (Commissioner Gordon), Ariel Winter (Carrie Kelley / Robin), Wade Williams (Harvey Dent / Two-Face), Michael Jackson (Alfred), Gary Anthony Williams (Mutant Leader), Michael McKean (Dr. Bartholomew Wolper), Paget Brewster (Lana Lang) and Richard Doyle as the Mayor.

Now You Know (2002, Jeff Anderson)

So, Now You Know is an odd mix. It’s one part romantic comedy (where the problems between Jeremy Sisto and Rashida Jones aren’t just conveniently solved, but shallowly too), one part talking comedy a la Clerks, and one part low budget inventive movie. The last part is the most interesting–Jeff Anderson gets some familiar faces who are in it for a scene or two, but leave a lasting impression, not to mention the invisible parents (Jones, for example, stays with her never on-screen parents).

It’s unfortunate, in most ways, the film’s an abject failure. Anderson is, very oddly, a far more ambitious director than Kevin Smith ever was on Clerks or any of his subsequent films until Clerks II (and then only because of the musical number). Visually, he’s not bad. It’s where the inventiveness comes through. But, as a director of actors, Anderson is bad. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume soap actor Todd Babcock did not do comedy well, but having seen Sisto and Jones in other things… there’s no reason they should be so bad. Well, actually, I’ve never seen Sisto emote very well… but Rashida Jones is a very good comedic actress and she’s terrible in this film. The problem could be Anderson’s dialogue, but I think it’s got more to do with the film’s tone. It never decides–of the three parts–to steer strongest toward. Probably because Anderson knew the scenes with he and Trevor Fehrman, at their best, would play like Clerks scenes.

Unfortunately, though the scenes do play well, Anderson seemingly failed to realize his character had the most interesting character arc.

Oh, and Paget Brewster shows up in a poorly acted–Paget Brewster acting poorly, something I never thought I’d see–small role. But Stuart Pankin is great for his three scenes, in one of Anderson’s more creative gags.



Written and directed by Jeff Anderson; director of photography, Marco Cappetta; edited by Jerry A. Vasilatos; music by Lanny Cordola and Matt Sorum; production designer, Tonde Razooly; produced by Ray Ellingsen and Jean-Luc Martin; released by The Weinstein Company.

Starring Jeremy Sisto (Jeremy), Rashida Jones (Kerri), Heather Paige Kent (Marty), Jeff Anderson (Gil), Trevor Fehrman (Biscuit), Todd Babcock (Shane), Paget Brewster (Lea), Stuart Pankin (Mr. Victim), Liz Sheridan (Grandma), Brendan Hill (Cliff) and Howard George (Hal).

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