Thursday, September 30, 2010

Audio Dramatization Review: Dead White

This audio dramatization is based on the novel by John Shirley. The CDs run approximately 6 hours long. The story basically follows Batman's attempt to defeat a major terrorist attack by a gang of neo-Nazis.

Positives: Generally solid voice acting and a pretty interesting subplot involving a Gotham City detective and his son attempting to reconnect. Excellent climax and solid drama throughout.

Negatives: One-dimensional main villain. Some annoying parts where the neo-Nazis are referred to as neo-conservatives. Some of the voice-acting is spotty, particularly at the beginning. The narrative passages get tedious in places.

Specific ratings:

Story: I'd give this one an 8 out of 10. The main plot is a little silly and unrealistic, but the subplot involving the detective and his teen-aged son is well-realized and entertaining. There is some gratuitous swearing and a few scenes where sexual activity is at least initiated, although it doesn't get explicit.

Voice-acting: Again, an 8 out of 10. Most of the acting is solid, with only a few embarrassing moments. The character of Skeeve, who is important in the very beginning, comes off as a stereotypical inner-city black but we learn later that he's actually a white supremacist from the south. He does not carry that off. On the other hand most of the other characters manage their roles capably.

Sound effects: 6 out of 10. Nothing special here.

Batman characterization: 8 out of 10. He seems a bit too technology-dependent, with almost no detective work. On the other hand, we do get inside Batman's head thanks to the narration and it mostly works well. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of Batman trying to get "in the pocket" (essentially what is usually termed "in the zone" in sports).

Villain characterization: 4 out of 10. The main villain, White Eyes or Big White, is a cardboard cutout with no redeeming features to illustrate how he became a leader. Shirley appears to have constructed a liberal's bogeyman, as not only is he a racist skinhead, but he also talks about defeating the anti-Christ and how he was raised to be a "neocon".

The audio dramatization did manage to entertain and hold my attention despite the significant negatives. Overall I'd give it a 7 out of 10; worth a listen but far from perfect.

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