Thursday, June 14, 2018

Movies: Justice League Double Feature ("DC Universe Animated Original Movies")

DC's cinematic universe famously lags Marvel when it comes to putting out decent movies, but DC's animated features have always been good. Here are a couple of cartoon Justice League movies that work a lot better than last year's live action film:

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

This entertaining story pits the Justice League you know and love against their evil twins from an alternate Earth, the "Crime Syndicate." There are plenty of cool superpowered fights, but the final battle between Batman and his twisted counterpart, Owlman, is my favorite, because it shows what would happen if the Caped Crusader fought himself.

Rating: 8/10

Justice League: Gods and Monsters

This is another alternate universe take on the Justice League, featuring violent, dark, but still "good" versions of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Benjamin Bratt does a great job as "Superman," who in this reality was raised by a Mexican migrant family. The plot is mostly an origin story/whodunit (a la "Watchmen"), but the running time is short enough that it didn't bother me.

Rating: 7/10

Music: Streaming Services Smackdown

In 2018, most any song you can think of is a click away, thanks to music streaming services like Spotify. But which one is the best? I thought it might be educational to compare three of the services I've used recently, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Tidal, in terms of the only criterion that matters to me: song selection.

The comparison will list albums I've been jamming to, and let you know which service(s) have them. Note that Amazon Music requires a subscription to access many songs, which Spotify and Tidal insert annoying ads if you aren't a subscriber.

Halloween Motion Picture Soundtrack (John Carpenter) - They just released the trailer for the Blumhouse sequel/reboot (which John Carpenter is scoring), so it's a good time to fire up the original soundtrack - still the most influential horror movie OST ever made.

Spotify - Yes
Amazon Music - Yes
Tidal - No

On (Altın Gün) - Do you like Turkish psychedelic folk-rock? Of course you do. Try out the deliriously catchy "Cemalim," a danceable version of the Turkish folk song made famous by Erkin Koray.

Spotify - Yes
Amazon Music - Yes
Tidal - Yes

All Grown Up (The Hillbilly Moon Explosion) - Let's up the difficulty - a ten year old album from a Swiss rockabilly band that most people have never heard of...

Spotify - No
Amazon Music - Yes
Tidal - No

Baby Driver - After seeing this enjoyable musical heist film, I immediately looked up the soundtrack. None of the services have all the songs in the album, but Spotify comes closest.

Spotify - Mostly Yes
Amazon Music - No
Tidal - Mostly No


As you can see, no one streaming service has all the albums in this test, which isn't surprising given the labyrinthine world of music licensing. If I had to pick one, I'd probably go with Spotify, since it has the cleanest interface and best search engine, but you're probably best served using a combination and then directly supporting the artists you like.