Month: February 2014

Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)


(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)
There’s a little game I like to play called The Mark Hamill Game. It goes like this, you spend your entire life waiting for someone to say something like “Tch. Mark Hamill, what a has-been” or “Wow. Bet he thought Star Wars was going to be a career maker for him, more like a career breaker amirite?” and then, get this, you punch that person repeatedly in the face. It’s a fun game, and also it provides a useful service to society. Mark Hamill is not a has-been. Mark Hamill is one of the most talented, respected and lauded voice actors currently working in the industry, an actor who combines astonishing versatility and a real flair for mimicry with a wonderfully energetic and intense performance style. And by far his greatest role was his absolutely revolutionary turn as Batman’s arch nemesis the Joker in the seminal Batman: The Animated Series. Now…millenials like myself tend to gush about this show to the point that if you sat down to watch it based on our recommendation you might be expecting something like Saturday morning Miyazaki. And, at the risk of a storm of screeching Batfans descending from the stalactite studded cave roof of the internet…it wasn’t perfect. It was, no question, a very, very good cartoon. Possibly the best cartoon series until that point. But the quality varied wildly in terms of animation and writing. Partially this was because the animation was done by more than one animation studio, some vastly more adept than others. And also, the show took its time to decide whether it was just a cartoon for kids or something more mature. It’s great, I’m not disputing that, but…not every episode was Heart of Ice. Some of them were Batman’s in my Basement. You know what was perfect though? Mark Hamill’s Joker. Hilarious, crazed and utterly terrifying. To fans in the know, the greatest Joker was not Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson or even Heath Ledger. It was Mark Hamill.
He’s not in Batman: Under the Red Hood.
As well as Hamill, BTAS also had one of the all time great Batman/Bruce Wayne performances (admittedly that’s a slightly lower bar to clear). Kevin Conroy’s Batman for many fans (including me) was the absolute sweet spot for this character that has had an incredibly broad spectrum of portrayals over his nearly 75 year history.
Same guy. Really.

Same guy. Really.

Conroy’s Batman is grim but compassionate. Hyper competent but not infallible. Intimidating but not a monster. Often brutal but not a cop-killing, kidnapping, ableist, potty-mouthed psychopath.
No. No you are not.

No. No you are not.

Conroy’s not in this either.
So understand, when Warner Bros announced that they would be releasing a straight to DVD animated Batman film that would not star either Conroy or Hamill, long considered irreplaceable, expectations were not high. I remember reading one commenter who essentially said “What ever they want? Pay them. If they’re not free? Wait. And if they just don’t want to do it? Don’t make the movie.” You could say that the very positive response Under the Red Hood would finally receive was partially due to low expectations but I don’t think so. This, to me, personally, is the best Batman movie ever made. I don’t mean that it’s the best movie to feature Batman in it.


There ya go.

There ya go.

No, you know what? I can't even joke about that.

No, you know what? I can’t even joke about that.

Logically I know that Dark Knight is an absolute masterpiece. But as a Batman story, as a story that actually tells us something new and interesting about Bruce Wayne, as a story that actually makes him the focus I think URH has the edge. Why is it so good? Let’s take a look.  To the Mousemobile!

First review for Joanna! And it’s GOOD!!

I’ve been writing for a good few years now but I’ve never actually had anything I’ve written reviewed before. And this is kind of a good way to start! Joseph Kearney of No More Workhorse has written an absolutely glowing review of Joanna which is running all this week in the New Theatre. I’m putting up a link HERE, partially because I’m a huge narcissist but also because it was your kind donations that paid for the bribe that got that review made this show possible. Thanks guys.

The Goo: Part Deux

Second episode of the Goo has now gone up. Once again, please read your nationality appropriate recommendation.

For Irish viewers

Shenanigans are afoot as Dave and Jonesy take “Baby Goo” Ste Murray under the proverbial feathered appendages and show him the ropes of Goodum. It’s all a bit of craic until the lads get a call from the Gooru himself, and all shite’s about to break loose. Will the lads be up the challenge? Jayus an’ anyway.

For non-Irish viewers

This week we are introduced to “Baby Goo”, played by Stephen Murray, who acts as both audience surrogate and a symbol of endangered innocence. Stephen is the man that Dave and Jonesy once were, the wide-eyed young man full of promise, oblivious to the fact that when he gazes on the wrecked and ravaged forms of these two men he looks not upon mentors or friends but his own terrible future. References to films abound in this week’s episode, the Godfather and Die Hard are both name checked. It is however Darren Aronofsky’s seminal Requiem for  a Dream that the work references most strongly, but textually and subtextually, as Dave and Jonesy’s descent into the next level of addiction’s cthonic abyss commences with a summons from “The Gooru”. That Mephistophelean figure has hitherto remained hidden. Now, Dave and Jonesy’s trials shall begin in earnest.

Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #45: Home on the Range


(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

"I now call this meeting of the United Foes of the Unshaved Mouse to order. Roll call!"

“I now call this meeting of the United Foes of the Unshaved Mouse to order. Roll call! Comrade Crow!”



"Charlie McCarthy."

“Charlie McCarthy.”



"The Unscrupulous Mouse."

“The Unscrupulous Mouse.”







"Fans of Beauty and the Beast"

“Fans of Beauty and the Beast



"Fans of Dinosaur."

“Fans of Dinosaur.”



"Chairman Emeritus His Vileness the Horned King."

“Chairman Emeritus His Vileness the Horned King.”

I abide eternally.

I abide eternally.

"And the Avian Avatar of Avarice....THE PENGUIN!"

“And the Avian Avatar of Avarice….THE PENGUIN!”

"Waugh! Waugh! Waugh! Excellent gentlemen! Excellent!"

“Waugh! Waugh! Waugh! Excellent gentlemen! Excellent!”

Gentlemen. Ladies. Assorted vermin. You know why I have summoned you all here.

Gentlemen. Ladies. Assorted vermin. You know why I have summoned you all here.

"I gotta question, Horny. Why are we holding meetings when the Mouse is still breathing? Why don’t we just take him out now?"

“I gotta question, Horny. Why are we holding meetings when the Mouse is still breathing? Why don’t we just take him out now?”

"Silence you over varnished fool! Don’t you understand that an enemy like Batman can’t be defeated by mere brute strength? We have to…I think I might be in the wrong meeting."

“Silence you over-varnished fool! Don’t you understand that an enemy like Batman can’t be defeated by mere brute strength? We have to…I think I might be in the wrong meeting.”

"Yeah. I think you're across the hall."

“Yeah. I think you’re across the hall.”

"Forgive me gentlemen."

“Forgive me gentlemen.”

McCarthy. I would advise you to hold your tongue. Or I shall hold it for you.

McCarthy. I would advise you to hold your tongue. Or I shall hold it for you.

"C'mon! Lets kill the Mouse!"

“C’mon! Lets kill the Mouse!”

Fool. We're not going to kill the Unshaved Mouse.

Fool. We’re not going to kill the Unshaved Mouse.

"We're not?"

“We’re not?”

"Sorry, I think I might be in the wrong meeting too..."

“Sorry, I think I might be in the wrong meeting too…”

Fool. We're not going to kill the Unshaved Mouse.

No. We are not going to kill him. After all, there are things so much worse than death. I have devised a fate so heinous for the Unshaved Mouse that it can scarcely be believed. But it requires finesse, and patience.

"What is the plan, tovarich?"

“What is the plan, tovarich?”

First I will implant a hypnotic suggestion in the Mouse’s subconscious. Disney’s manipulations of him have left him uniquely suceptible to this. I intend to strike when he is at his weakest. His most vulnerable. His most…despairing.

First I will implant a hypnotic suggestion in the Mouse’s subconscious. Disney’s manipulations of him have left him uniquely susceptible to this. I intend to strike when he is at his weakest. His most vulnerable. His most…despairing.


Alright, you know what? Before I can even approach this one I have got to rant about the poster. The goddamn poster! That’s how much suck we have to get through here.
“Bust a Moo?”
"Mouse. Calm down. Your friends are worried about you."

“Mouse. Calm down. Your friends are worried about you.”

"We're worried. Yes."

“We’re worried. Yes.”

Sorry. You’re right. I’m sorry but…oh God that poster. That poster pretty much encapsulates the whole problem with this movie. Just this weird, desperate attempt to be hip and funny that fails so badly you’re not even sure if that’s what they were going for. It’s one thing to come last in a race. It’s another to come last because you were pushing a bobsled on the track. One just means you were bad. The other is being so inept it’s hard for an outside observer to be sure that you were even trying to win. Like all the real turkeys in the Disney canon, details on Home on the Range’s origins are hard to come by. Wikipedia, TV Tropes and IMDb are pretty light on facts and presumably only God and Michael Eisner know where the bodies are buried. I do know that Home on the Range started pre-production all the way back in 1995, that it was once going to be called Sweating Bullets and that the premise was at one point that a young calf named Bullets taking on a gang of ghost cattle rustlers called The Willies. Yeah, so this thing was always going to suck, basically. There is no universe where this movie turned out well.

 How bad is it?

Come. Let us gaze upon the carnage…


Check these guys out!

Two friends of mine, Dave Fleming and Stephen “yer man from Love/Hate” Jones, have launched a new online comedy series called The Goo and the first episode is up and running and can be viewed HERE. New episodes will be going up every Monday and I’ll be posting links on the blog.  It’s brilliant and you should absolutely check it out and like it and share it. However, how you experience The Goo will really depend on whether or not you’re Irish so I have prepared two recommendations for the Goo. If you’re reading this outside of Ireland, please skip to the next paragraph.
For Irish Viewers:
Right lads, so two mates of mine have put up the first episode of their new comedy series The Goo on the You Tube yoke.  It’s bleedin’ deadly and tells the story of two lads out on the lash and all the hilarious hijinx and various shenanigans that ensure therefrom. Give it a look and spread the word if you like it and if you don’t you can feck off and anyway.
For Non-Irish Viewers:
The Goo is a harsh and unflinching look at the scourge of alcoholism in modern Irish society. Watch as Dave and Jonesy decent deeper and deeper into substance dependence, moral and spiritual degradation and finally madness. Please like and share this essential document of the greatest and most enduring scourge of the Irish nation. The world needs to see this. Thank you, and God bless.
Thanks guys, and go on The Goo.

I have a cunning plan…

So today we awoke to the news that John Waters is being paid €30,000 (aka, more than Mouse makes in a year) by RTÉ because someone on TV implied that writing and advocating against gay people being allowed to marry might qualify you as a homophobe. The other persons mentioned by Rory O’Neill have also been compensated for this dreadful trauma (that’s the trouble with gays, they can’t know just how hurtful some names can be) and according to the Irish Independent the total sum being paid to these guys amounts to €85,000 of taxpayers money. My last post on this matter was criticised by some as being overly conciliatory. I agree. The time for reasoned debate is over. My friends, I’m here to advocate for blind, unthinking revenge. It’s got a bad rep, but I do think that its moment has come. What we need in this situation is sheer, vindictive malevolence. A complete lack of mercy. My friends, we need a total and utter bastard.


Let me explain. In the fourth episode of Blackadder the Third, “Sense and Senility”, Blackadder has to put up with a pair of insufferable, stuck up actors. He learns that every time he says the word “Macbeth” the actors have to go through a long, complex and extremely painful ritual to banish bad luck. Blackadder, naturally, treats this like a big, shiny red button marked “press here to feel total joy”.

I believe that RTÉ, unwittingly, has now given everyone in this country such a button. What have we learned? That anytime someone calls John Waters or the Iona Institute a homophobe, RTÉ has to pay them my annual salary before tax. So, let’s push the button.

I hereby announce the commencement of Operation Blackadder. It goes like this. Anytime you are stopped on the street by an RTÉ newcaster looking for your opinion for one of those stupid Vox Pops, casually mention that John Waters and the Iona Institute are homophobes. Call into an RTÉ radio show and say that John Waters and the Iona Insitute are homophobes. If there’s an event where you can be sure RTÉ cameras are rolling, make sure to be there with your “John Waters and the Iona Insitute are Homophobes and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt” T-Shirt. Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth.  If done successfully, there will be two possible outcomes.

  • RTÉ goes bankrupt within a week. This will also mean that John Waters and the Iona Insitute will be obscenely wealthy so this is not ideal.
  • RTÉ realises very quickly that they backed the wrong fucking horse.

I am under no illusions that Operation Blackadder has any real chance of success, these things rarely do. The only way something like this could have a real chance is if people working in RTÉ, gay employees and straight allies who are livid at their employer for its craven surrender and enrichment of bigots decided that they wanted to send a message. I mean if, hypothetically, enough RTÉ employees decided that there was safety in numbers, enough casual on-air mentions could bring the entire organization to its knees in a matter of days.

Completely fanciful of course. If however, anyone working for RTÉ is reading this and is feeling rather pissed off right now? Do share, won’t you?

(Because I can’t pretend this thing isn’t happening) let’s take a look at the Maleficent trailer.

Unshaved Mouse has been nominated for Best Blog Post at the Blog Awards Ireland 2014. Please take a minute to click on this link and vote for me. You can vote once every week. Thanks a million, Mouse.


Sigh. You know, I told myself if I just stuck my head in the sand and pretended that this wasn’t happening everyone involved would gradually realise just how ill advised the whole endeavour is and this movie would quietly die like the sequel to 7even where Morgan Freeman’s character has psychic powers or the live action Akira remake with white actors. But no, this thing is apparently happening and what’s more Disney have released a trailer that proves once and for all that their marketing department is staffed by wizards who can make anything look good. Sorry, that sounds unfair and I know any movie should only be judged after it’s actually been released but…I have serious reservations about this. Now, granted, after seeing the trailer I am a little more optimistic for reasons that I’ll get into in a bit but firstly let me just point out that the basic logic behind this movie is flawed. That logic is as follows:

1) We need to make a movie about a character that people love.

2) People love Maleficent.

3) We should…what, you want me to spell it out?

Now, Maleficent is undoubtedly a fantastic character but it’s more complicated than that. She is specifically, a fantastic antagonist. Saying that a great villain will make a great leading character is like saying an astronaut is the perfect guy to perform your heart operation. It’s a completely different skill set. Villains, by and large, occupy less screen time than heroes. A villain is someone who you’re glad when they show up, do something outrageous and cool and then vanish again. A good protagonist is someone you have to be willing to spend two hours with. Villains are great in small doses, but the larger than life traits that make them so entertaining tend to get really wearying after too long. Of course, that’s assuming that this movie is just Maleficent as she was depicted in Sleeping Beauty but for two hours. It won’t be. Maleficent in the original doesn’t have an arc, her character progression in the movie is evil, evil, evil, evil, dragon. So of course this movie is instead going to make her an anti-hero, a troubled misunderstood figure whose motivations we will be able to understand and sympathise with through seeing her backstory and all the horrible things that happened to maker her who she is. This approach, historically speaking, has killed more awesome movie villains than cliffs and Arnold Schwarzenegger combined.

This is how..




..became this.



...became this.

…became this.

And THIS...


....became...I don't even know what the fuck this is.

….became…I don’t even know what the fuck this is.

Now, if I’m wrong I will happily eat my words. I’m just saying I got history on my side. Okay, so let’s take a look at the trailer.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

Alright, so here are my thoughts in order.

  • Angelina Jolie’s eternal status at the top of the A-List has baffled me for some time. Not that she’s bad, but surely you should have to have some critically/financially successful movies under your belt before they crown you Queen of Hollywood. Seriously, look at her filmography and find something that you’d give more than three stars. Having said that, that is an absolutely phenomenal impersonation of Eleanor Audley she’s doing, almost to the point where I’m not entirely sure they didn’t just dub some dialogue from the original movie over her. Also that smile she flashes is a good sign. Jolie looks like she’s having a blast. Above all, Maleficent should enjoy being evil.
  • Gotta say, loving Lana Del Ray’s dreamy, sinister rendition of Once Upon a Dream. Love the atmosphere.
  • Three fairies hovering by a crib while Maleficent stalks through the court. These aren’t Flora, Fauna and Merryweather even though they’re colour coded the same. According to wikipedia the fairies are Thistlewit, Knotgrass and Flittle and are all played by actresses in their twenties. Godammit, I loved that the heroes of the original movie were three dumpy middle aged women. Where else do you see that?
  • Maleficent standing with arms raised, wreathed in green flame and vanishing from the court. So it looks like we’re going to get a pretty faithful recreation of the cursing scene.
  • “NOW FIND OUT THE TRUTH” Ohhhh…first big warning sign. If they think that we’re actually going to accept this as a definitive take on the story that supplants the original then this ship is crewed by fools and madmen.
  • Okay, now this is different. Maleficent surpises Briar Rose in the woods, blows some sleeping gunk on her and then walks through the moonlit forest with the unconscious body floating behind her. Gotta say, it’s an eerie, beautiful image. Again, Del Ray’s vocals really setting the “dark fairytale” tone.
  •  King Stefan stabbing a table. Why is he stabbing a table? Maleficent controls the trees. Trees are made of wood. Clearly, this table is a spy.
  • "Urk! You may have killed me, but my mistress will crush you all! Also, would it kill you to use a coaster?"

    “Urk! You may have killed me, but my mistress will crush you all! Also, would it kill you to use a coaster?”

A green clad  Maleficent strolling through a field. Part of me really hopes that this movie ends with the reveal that Maleficent is actually Girl Loki and that this is all just a teaser for Avengers 3. Hey, they’re both owned by Disney, you can’t say it’s not possible.

Or even that it's not plausible.

Or even that it’s not plausible.

  • If I were to guess I’d say this is part of Maleficent’s origin. The movie seems to be playing up her nature powers, showing lots of sentient tree monsters and such. If I were to guess, Maleficent starts off with a naturey/defender of the forest kind of schtick, hence the green duds, and then King Philip does something to fuck with nature’s balance or whatever forcing her to go all emo and black. Which sounds pretty awful and again, why the character works better as a villain and not a protagonist.
  • Okay, seriously, what is up with her cheekbones? She looks like she swallowed a china plate.
  • The CGI at least, is going to look amazing. In fact, we can at least rest assured that this will be a very pretty movie.
  • The old knight with a beard is so dead.
  • “There is evil in this world. Hatred. And revenge.” Ohhhh stop that right now. That looks like Maleficent imparting some motherly advice to Briar Rose. That looks like Maleficent and Briar Rose bonding over a campfire. That looks like the movie is actually setting up that Maleficent secretly cares for Briar Rose. That looks like the still beating heart of Sleeping Beauty getting ripped out and stamped on the dirt. That looks like I’m gonna have to get mah pitchfork.
  • Okay, the little hurt “oh” followed by the pscyho laugh has me convinced that if nothing else, Jolie is going to kill the role.

So, colour me cautiously pessimistic. I still think that the basic concept of the movie is fails the smell test but there’s a lot in the trailer to give me pause. I’m certainly less sure now that it’s going to completely suck than I was. So, good job Disney marketing team. Good job. You have moved the dial in the right direction. Now if you could stop making me think that your awesome full length musical returns to form are going to be awful, weak-ass Dreamworks ripoffs, that’d be lovely.