School of Movies
Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

April 2, 2021

[School of Movies 2021]

After the moderate box office takings and middling-to-negative critical responses to Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Warner Bros. became increasingly worried that they had placed the DC Expanded Universe in the hands of a director who appealed to an increasingly niche crowd who would not make them the billions of dollars they wanted.

Seeking to just get the third film finished quickly and cheaply in a way that would appeal to the middle, so that they could course-correct for later financial investments WB relieved Snyder of directorial duties (which coincided with family tragedy) and hired Joss Whedon to magic the footage they had into an Avengers-level success. The result delighted few (we covered it at the end of 2017).

Then after years of online demands, and a pandemic which made traditional filmmaking extremely difficult, Warner invested a sizable additional chunk of change into the prospect of Snyder restoring his version. The resultant four-hour opus was utilised to upsell an online subscription service. The niche audience were delighted. 

Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984

January 15, 2021

[School of Movies 2021]

This follow-up to a fantastic debut in 2017 was long-awaited, much-anticipated and spent several years in production. At the end of a blockbuster-drought of a year, we were all looking forward to sinking back into the comfortable environs of an inspiring superhero story. Perhaps with some tactfully handled real-world symbolism in there, and a call to arms for women in particular.

Unfortunately, this thing is a HUGE mess. It makes so many baffling decisions that it was actually tricky to keep up with. By the time we'd finished reacting to one moment, another had flown by. So we're giving this one the all-clear for you to listen to, whether you've seen the movie or not. Because we CANNOT spoil it any more than Warner Bros. have done. 

The show ran long, so there is a 45-minute Cutting Class episode coming to Patreon with everything that didn't make the final cut. Because editing is important! 

Stonespring Maidens is now available to buy from Amazon in paperback.

Guests:

Hollywoo Actress  Maya Santandrea @Mayasantandrea

Victoria Luna B. Grieve: @VixenVVitch 

Joker

Joker

October 11, 2019

[School of Movies 2019]

This turned out to be one of the most gruelling ordeals for us in terms of lead-up, viewing, preparation, recording and editing. This is an intensely divisive film with smart, decent people who dislike it and smart decent people who love it. And the last thing we want is to divide and clash. 

We DO however have to account for how this film made us feel, which is not great at all. Of course we didn't go in hoping to hate it, but what started out as "Okay this isn't bad" descended into "God, get me out of here!"

Next Week: Zombieland

Justice League (2017)

Justice League (2017)

November 24, 2017

[School of Movies 2017]

Comics featuring DC's Trinity gathering with various other brightly costumed heroes have been around since The Brave and Bold issue #28 in 1960 so this movie has been adrift for 57 years, waiting to be brought home, like Ellen Ripley.

With us are a gathering of keen, comic-hungry minds, ready to take a long hard look at what DC Warner have produced for the first ever big screen Justice League. The studio insisted we bring this show in at under two hours, so that's what we've done. They also recoloured us to make us more audience-friendly and digitally removed our various beards, swapping them out for cartoon mouths. But of course you won't see any of that. 

Guests:

Brenden Agnew of Cinapse

Kaoru Negisa and

Debbie Morse, both of Sequentially Yours

Extra thanks to Laureta Sela who makes a cameo as Harley Quinn here.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

June 9, 2017

[School of Movies 2017]

This is a big one, a DC movie that we not only don't hate, but actively love.
Wonder Woman is breaking all sorts of new ground and Gal Gadot looks set to be the next universally beloved big screen superhero, joining a fairly small group that includes Reeves as Superman, Maguire as Spider-Man, Downey Jnr. as Iron Man and Evans as Captain America.

To mark this occasion we assembled a dream team of Bob Chipman of Geek.com and Laura Kate Dale of letsplayvideogames.com

We spend two and a half hours discussing Diana's debut in solo form, highlighting the best aspects and touching on a few of the flaws. Largely though this is a celebration of a magnificent, empowering, inspiring experience.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

April 8, 2016

[School of Movies 2016]

We start off with my initial thoughts on coming back from the cinema. The first 16 minutes is relatively spoiler-free and Sharon asks me the following questions. Then we get to the rotten meat of the whole bloody affair. 
 
Then there’s a considerably more positive ten minute piece from Eric Jones 
 
Then we hit the main event and Bob Chipman joins myself, Sharon Shaw and Jerome McIntosh to discuss the film in a more meta context, including what DC Warner’s options are, moving forward. 


00.00.30: First Impressions
00.40.00: A More Positive Response
00.56.00: The Main Event
Batman: The Killing Joke [Audio Drama]

Batman: The Killing Joke [Audio Drama]

July 17, 2013

[Digital Gonzo 2013]

This is an audio drama adaptation of The Killing Joke: written by Alan Moore, and originally illustrated by Brian Bolland for DC comics in 1988.

This show is dedicated to Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, two of my all-time heroes. Their inspirational work is a key reason why I love Batman so much, and their immense talent as voice-over artists is what made me want to produce performance pieces like this. All credit to Alan Moore for his excellent writing. The few minor changes I made were to facilitate the audio format. Also artist Brian Bolland.

If you enjoyed this, do please check out Batman: Breakdown, which is an original story written by myself and rendered into an accompanying audio drama. You can find it on this podcast feed or on YouTube. As a bonus for newcomers I've included the first six minutes of Breakdown to act as a taster at the close of this production.

If you like my work on this you should check out my original audio drama, The New Century Multiverse, the previous stories are available in audiobook form on Bandcamp with new episodes released as a weekly podcast. 

A huge thank you to my cast, without whom, this would be a considerably less vibrant production.

Cast (in order of appearance) 

JOKER/JACK – Alex Shaw
KILLER CROC/TWO-FACE – Alex Shaw
BATMAN – Alex Shaw
FRIGHTENED INMATE #2 – Matt Whetter
JIM GORDON – Matt Ramsey
GUARD BILL – Jerome McIntosh
BOB BONUS – Daniel Floyd
JEANNIE – Sharon Shaw
BATCOMPUTER – Tara Nelson
ALFRED PENNYWORTH – Matt Ramsey
BARBARA GORDON – Laureta Sela
GANGSTER JOE – Lorin Grieve
GANGSTER JAKE – Alex Spencer
DOCTOR – Joshua Garrity
HARVEY BULLOCK – Daniel Floyd
CIRCUS FREAKS – Matt Whetter
DETECTIVE MOORE – James Batchelor
OFICER BOLLAND – Nama Chibitty
DON SENIOR – Matt Whetter
ROB SENIOR – Andres Rodriguez
GAMBOL – Aquila Edwards
OSWALD COBBLEPOT – Matt Whetter
STREET GIRL – Sharon Shaw
SECURITY GUARD JUDD – James Batchelor
SECURITY GUARD MURPHEY – Nama Chibitty
CREDITS - Giles Thomas

Batman: Breakdown [Audio Drama]

Batman: Breakdown [Audio Drama]

July 22, 2012

[Digital Gonzo 2012]

This is my first full-length audio drama. It was designed to be enjoyed by comic fans but also to people who are only familiar with the Nolan films the Arkham video games or the Animated Series. I wanted to write something significant, honest and authentic about the Batman legend and with a lot of help from long-time serious Bat-fan, David Hartrick, I was able to shape a series of ideas into a hopefully coherent story. None of the cast, including myself are professional actors, but we all worked very hard to capture the essence of the characters we portrayed. The writing, organisation and editing all of this together took dozens of hours, but it's been equal parts exhausting and rewarding. I'd of course ideally love to see this adapted into a comic mini-series or animated movie someday (hint, hint, DC). Oh and for Batman enthusiasts, take note, this is an Elseworlds tale that takes place after the 2005 storyline Under the Hood, but before the 2006 storyline Infinite Crisis.

Script: Alex Shaw / Story: Alex Shaw & David Hartrick / Editing: Alex Shaw

Cast

Bruce Wayne/Batman: Alex Shaw
Barbara Gordon/Oracle: Leah Haydu
Dick Grayson/Nightwing: Neil Taylor
Tim Drake/Robin: Daniel Floyd
Clark Kent/Superman: James Batchelor
Diana Prince/Wonder Woman: Tara Nelson
Selina Kyle/Catwoman: Cassandra Corgard
Alfred Pennyworth: Matthew Ramsey
Doctor Jennifer Whitman: Sharon Shaw
Cops: Matt Whetter/Sharon Shaw/Alex Shaw
Thieves: Neil Taylor/Matt Whetter/Alex Shaw
Bank Clerk: Cassandra Corgard
Estelle: Tara Nelson

David Hartrick writes for In Bed With Maradona, the award-winning home of World Football: http://inbedwithmaradona.com/

If you like this production and you believe, like we do, that as many people as possible should hear this then please suggest it to everyone you know who likes a good Batman story. Tweet about it, make a big deal on FaceBook, post YouTube comments, leave an iTunes review, get this thing heard. I've been supremely hard at work on my original audio drama series New Century for the past few years. If you like this production you'll love hearing where I go with what I learned. However I think I'm done with Batman audio drama for the time being. It's very unlikely I'll do Hush and Breakdown is almost impossible to follow up on in a satisfying way. Believe me, David and I have gone over potential plots and it really feels better to leave the future of Gotham ambiguous. I'm not saying never, but for now let's just say this and the Killing Joke were my two forays into the Dark Knight mythology. 

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm / Year One / Red Hood / Return of the Joker

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm / Year One / Red Hood / Return of the Joker

January 12, 2012

[Digital Gonzo 2012]

0m: A look at four animated batman movies. This time we’re taking a deep dive into the absolutely underrated box-office bomb, virtually unknown by the general public, but possibly best film about Batman until the Nolan films came along; Mask of the Phantasm. By extension this allows us to talk about the Animated Series which this sprang from unexpectedly for all.

Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill head up the cast of relative unknowns in this melodramatic film noir which explores a key relationship at Bruce Wayne’s turning point as he assumes the cowl and cape of The Dark Knight. And in the present day he has to deal with the shadowy and murderous Phantasm as well as a rather terrifying Joker. If you like Arkham Asylum, you will recognize the voices and where that world began. Absolutely do pick this up and see it. The show has some prominent spoilers after a certain point.

1h 22m: 1. Year One (2011): The retold origin by Frank Miller, published in comic form in 1987. This film focuses on Bruce first donning the cape and cowl at the same time that Jim Gordon arrives at Gotham City PD and encounters overwhelming corruption. This was the inspiration for Batman Begins and  Mask of the Phantasm and reminded everyone of the tragic event that caused Bruce Wayne to dedicate his life to fighting crime.

2. Under the Red Hood (2010): Based on Under the Hood by Judd Winnick, this is a very personal story about Bruce being confronted by a shadowy figure from his past and a complex, emotional revenge tale. Genuinely frightening at times with a new portrayal of Joker courtesy of John DiMaggio.

3. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000) The finale for the three-season series wherein an aged and crippled Bruce Wayne attempts to train a new Batman to protect Gotham. When the Joker shows his grinning face for the first time since his apparent death 50 years previously, all Hell breaks loose and we learn sad and disturbing secrets about how things ended with Robin and Batgirl.

Guests:

Neil Taylor of TheKiddDogg

Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

Paul Gibson of Gonzo Planet

James Perkins of The Digital Fix

Batman (1989) & Batman Returns

Batman (1989) & Batman Returns

January 7, 2012

[Digital Gonzo 2012]

0m: The 1989 film. This is the second of the Batman shows. This time we’re covering one of the most successful blockbusters of its day, a movie that redefined how Hollywood handled it’s big, fantastical character pieces. It followed on from Richard Donner’s Superman (1978) as the next significant step in comic-book movies, jump-starting a series that would dominate the 90’s in the way The Man of Steel dominated the 80’s.

With a soundtrack by Prince, a starring turn from Jack Nicholson’s Joker and spectacularly 80’s sensibilities, this review gave us so much meat to chew on and remains eminently quotable. Whatever your thoughts on Tim Burton are, he handled this film very well for the age of big business, shoulder-pads and rubber suits… and of course those wonderful toys.

1h 19m: This time we’re focusing on the popular, troubled, dark, flawed and twisted sequel to Burton’s 1989 smash hit. This was the only big-screen Catwoman until this year’s Dark Knight Rises and the only Penguin if you don’t count the 1966 Batman film or the frankly fuck-awful Catwoman (2004). It has Christopher Walken acting as himself, Michelle Pfeiffer in skin-tight vinyl, licking herself, Batman murdering three men in cold blood, a raw-fish-munching, diminutive, obese, sex-pest and many, many clowns.

Guests:

Neil Taylor of TheKiddDogg

Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse

Leah Haydu of Some Other Castle

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

Paul Gibson of Gonzo Planet

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