REVIEW: DC SHOWCASE: CATWOMAN

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CAST

Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Lilana Mumy (Batman: Year One)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)
Cree Summer (Animaniacs)

The film starts with two men pursuing a grey cat in an attempt to shoot it dead. The cat supposedly jumps into the river and is presumed dead. As the two men leave in a car with a crime boss called Rough Cut, Catwoman is shown under the bridge with the grey cat, which has a yellow wristband round its neck, grabbing Catwoman’s interest.

Later on, Rough Cut and two other men go to a strip club. As a woman dances and strips, he gives her a small chunk of diamond. Catwoman enters the strip club and covers for the other stripping women, but this only proves to be a way for her to confront Rough Cut. As every single person has already fled the strip club, Catwoman and Rough Cut are left alone. After a short fight, he escapes before she can get him. Some while later, Catwoman attacks Rough Cut whilst he is driving a craned truck. Catwoman slips the crane hook under the truck and escapes before it crashes, the hook flying over and slicing a ship full of goods in half. The truck overturns and Rough Cut is killed.

When Catwoman goes to the ship, she finds a group of trafficked girls, which is revealed to be the mysterious cargo shipment. Catwoman notices Holly Robinson to be one of the girls. As the police arrive, Selina Kyle comforts Holly, giving her the yellow wristband that belonged Holly before she was trafficked. Selina also gives Holly a handful of diamonds because she is in need. The film ends with Catwoman jumping from one building to another as Holly watches her disappear into the night.

This DC showcase Catwoman short is dark, gritty and absolutely fantastic. Thank you Paul Dini once again, you are a master at your craft. I personally love this short and was totally impressed. A great addition to Batman: Year One.

REVIEW: DC SHOWCASE: THE SPECTRE

CAST

Gary Cole (Crusade)
Alyssa Milano (Charmed)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs)
Jon Polito (Barton Fink)

Foster Brenner, a successful film producer, is killed by a bomb hidden underneath the diving board of his swimming pool. Los Angeles Police Department detective Jim Corrigan, who was having a relationship with Foster’s daughter Aimee, starts investigating despite the case having been assigned to another officer. Jim interviews Flemming, Brenner’s butler, who shows him security footage of two men in ski masks entering the complex and placing the bomb. Jim asks if Brenner had any enemies, and Flemming replies that any man so wealthy and powerful has many. He tells him that several of Brenner’s longtime collaborators were excluded in his latest films and were very unhappy about it.

That night at a special effects warehouse, Drew Flynn sees the late Foster, who accuses him of his murder and transforms into the Spectre, who uses his powers to animate the models and animatronic film monsters to attack Flynn, and kills him with a gigantic gorilla robot. The Spectre confronts and kills Peter McCoy by controlling his car that repairs itself and crushes him, before taking a suitcase of money.

Arriving at Aimee’s house undetected by phasing through the wall, Jim tells Aimee that she is good enough to be an actress in her father’s movies. Learning that Aimee was responsible for giving the correct access code for her father’s estate to Flynn and McCoy, Jim opens the briefcase with her father’s money. Aimee asks Jim that they will get together while she rummages the pistol from the desk drawer, but Jim refuses. Aimee fails to attack Jim, who transforms into the Spectre and kills her by engulfing her in a tornado of money, avenging her father’s death. Jim calmly walks away as the police arrive while they cannot see him. Jim narrates that his job is to root out evil, that he is justice and being the Spectre.

Seeing as how The Spectre might not be as famous as Batman or as popular as Superman, it was probably a wise move for Warner to only make one short film in order to gauge viewers’ interest. The result was so spectacular, so oozing with style and boasting high end production values that it really is a pity Warner did not go all out to make a full length feature from the start. Having a mature narrative makes this short film accessible to even viewers who are not fans of animation as it plays out very much like a live action movie

REVIEW: DC SHOWCASE: GREEN ARROW

CAST

Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Malcolm McDowell (Heroes)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Grey DeLisle (The Zeta Project)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Ariel Winter (Excision)

Green Arrow waits outside an airport for the arrival of his girlfriend, Dinah. He was delayed in traffic due to the arrival of Princess Perdita.

Count Vertigo has hired Merlyn to assassinate Perdita, who is Vertigo’s niece. Perdita will soon become queen of Vlatava following her father’s assassination by her uncle. As Merlyn attacks his target, Green Arrow discovers the plan and is forced to intervene. He dispatches several of Merlyn’s henchmen before getting Perdita to a place of safety. He is forced to duel Merlyn himself, and defeats him.

Count Vertigo arrives and attempts to kill both the hero and Perdita, incapacitating them. Dinah, revealed to be Black Canary, arrives at that moment and knocks Count Vertigo unconscious with her “Canary Cry”. Afterwards, Green Arrow proposes marriage to Black Canary. Canary accepts Green Arrow’s proposal and they share a passionate kiss.

The action is top notch without going overboard with grotesque violence, this is one short that kids can watch. This is one of my favorite DC short so far, I loved The Spectre, but I think this is the best one.

REVIEW: SAMURAI SENTAI SHINKENGER

The 33rd entry in Toei’s Super Sentai franchise. For eighteen generations, the Shiba household have protected the world from the evil forces of the Gedoushu – monsters that enter our world through cracks and plan to flood the world with water from the Sanzu river (which is essential to their survival). In present day, their leader Doukoku Chimatsuri is freed from his seal and intends to continue this ambition. Takeru Shiba, the youngest head of the Shiba clan and ShinkenRed, must gather together his four vassals (servants from other households) to fight the forces of the Gedoushu. Initially Takeru maintains aloof and detached from his vassals, preferring to fight alone. But as the story progresses and Takeru’s childhood friend Genta joins the Shinkengers as ShinkenGold, Takeru becomes far more comfortable around people, beginning to treat them as friends. But Takeru is different from the lords that have preceded him, and the vassals slowly learn that his dark secret may be the reason for the way he has acted.

Before I begin dissecting the plot, I have to say that Samurai Sentai Shinkenger is one of the most visually pleasing series I’ve watched in a while. I’m a huge fan of the costumes themselves – which give off a nice Samurai flavour without being too heavy or over the top,  and each have an unique symbol for the visor. Each are very distinct from each other, but maintain a very nice sense of uniform. The origami mecha are also very well done, despite being restricted by the shapes each of them need to be able to transform into. Their combination, Shinken-Oh, has quickly become one of my favourite Super Sentai mecha. It’s a lot less universal than perhaps other series are, but one of its strengths lie in how uniquely Japanese it is. Aside from a few jokes which I found difficult to follow as a Westerner (Ebi Origami) it was still completely enjoyable and understandable, while teaching me a lot of new things about Japan and Samurai culture.

The plot itself is relatively serious, but is not opposed to diverging into moments of comedy relief now and again (Genta’s arrival really brings a new light to the series, and this firmly placed him as easily my favourite Shinkenger). The Shinkengers display a wide variety of character types, Ryunosuke (ShinkenBlue) as a loyal servant to his lord, competitive Chiaki (ShinkenGreen), big-sister Mako (ShinkenPink) and the clumsy but good-hearted Kotoha (ShinkenYellow). A few members of the Gedoushu even receive an ample amount of development – particularly Juzo, who is far more than a generic monster villain.

Because of the length of the series, its only natural that quite of the few of the episodes just come across as filler. However each of these episodes neatly manages to focus on one or two members of the main cast, and so none go without providing some form of character insight or development.

Another issue I found with the series was Doukoku, who in comparison to some of the other Gedoushu (particularly Juzo and Dayu, but later also Shitari and Akumaro) seems rather undeveloped. For the majority of the series he seems to do very little other than drink sake, shout a lot and occasionally moan about a hangover. When he suddenly appears on Earth for the first time toward the end of the series we finally get a look at how powerful he really is, but this is quickly dampened by him disappearing for several episodes so that Akumaro can take centre stage. Only in Shinkenger’s final acts does Doukoku really come into his own and seem like a true threat. While head monsters often don’t seem to do very much until the final episodes, atleast they’re usually calling the shots.

Shinkenger is  an excellent series that any fans of the genre should check out.

REVIEW: AQUAMAN (2006)

 

CAST

Justin Hartley (Smallville)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Stargate Universe)
Denise Quinones (Elite)
Rick Peters (Veronica Mars)
Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible)
Adrianne Palicki (Legion)
Amber MacDonald (Without A Paddle 2)
Kenny Johsnon (Bates Motel)
Daniella Deutscher (Hang Time)
Annette O’Toole (Superman III)

A.C. and his mother Atlanna are flying over the Bermuda Triangle. As they get closer, Atlanna’s necklace begins to glow and a surge of light and energy erupts from the ocean, causing cyclones which bring their plane down. Atlanna is kidnapped by a siren, but not before giving A.C. her necklace and calling him Orin. Ten years later, A.C. is charged for releasing dolphins from a marine park. His father bails him out of trouble, but gives him a stern lecture on responsibility. Later, A.C. tells his friend Eva that he felt like the dolphins were calling to him. While he’s working, he is approached by a lighthouse keeper who identifies himself as McCaffery. The Coast Guard picks up an unidentified man, floating in the Bermuda Triangle and pleading to warn Orin. Lt. Torres is sent to investigate the area. A.C. is also at the Triangle, and his necklace triggers another surge of light, which causes Torres to crash her jet. Brigman transports the John Doe to another facility, and persuades Torres to join his team. Brigman is looking for a connection between the disappearances of thousands of individuals, and their reappearance years later without ever aging a day.  That evening, A.C. meets Nadia and she convinces him to go swimming. In the water, Nadia reveals herself to not only be a Siren, but the one that took his mother. A.C. barely escapes with a little help from McCaffery. McCaffery explains that he, Arthur and Arthur’s mother were all exiled from Atlantis, and that A.C. is the prince of Atlantis. Arthur convinces Eva to leave Tempest Key for a few days, but it comes too late as Nadia injures Eva and captures Arthur. When he wakes up, A.C. finds that Nadia has also captured McCaffery and she is bringing them both back to Atlantis to be executed.

Breaking free using a flask of water to enhance his strength, A.C. destroys Nadia by putting a spear through her head. The next morning, McCaffery explains that there will be more creatures that will come looking for A.C. and that he should have started his training years prior. A.C. agrees to start his training, and McCaffery leaves him with Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2 to read. McCaffery informs Arthur who would rather just skip to the ending that “It isn’t about the ending, it’s about the journey.”

The show had a lot of potential, and unfortunately, it was not given the chance. It was after all a pilot, so they were setting up the story lines. Justin Hartley did an excellent job as A.C. His character was rebellious and cocky, but very likable. Ving, Lou, and the rest of the cast did a great job as well. All the actors worked well with one another. I found the story lines to be really interesting, and the special effects were awesome. The ending only left me wanting more, and it left me wondering why the heck CW passed up on it. It’s an incredibly stupid decision on their part.

REVIEW: CHASE ME

The piece begins with the view of the Wayne Enterprises building to which Bruce Wayne is gazing out the window during a party. He’s pulled to the dance floor by three lovely young ladies. Each has their turn before Alfred rescues Bruce, who dives into a nearby elevator. When he reaches his office, he sees none other than Catwoman at the safe, looting it. Catwoman pins Bruce to the wall while she finishes robbing the safe, and makes her escape. Bruce breaks free, and heads after her as Batman.

He finds her on the rooftops, and the chase begins. She dives several dozens stories below into busy traffic, breaking her fall with a banner and swinging onto a tour bus. She poses for some pictures until Batman arrives, taking most of the publicity away from her. They jump on a milk truck tanker and Catwoman blows the tires out. The truck spins off, and Batman pursues after her, ignoring the truck dumping gallons of milk on a couple of stray cats, as well as onto Harvey Bullock.

Then, they jump on a train, where, while going into a tunnel, Batman loses Catwoman, only to see her trail leading into a zoo. Expectedly, she had detoured through the Large Cats exhibit and leaves Batman. He escapes through the sunroof while Catwoman runs into an aviary to be chased out by a colony of bats. She is then cornered by Batman against the gates of the zoo. She notices he was scratched earlier, and leans to kiss him. Batman pushes her away, and she appears hurt. Batman then sweeps her into his arms and kisses her.

The police arrive, and Catwoman looks around, concerned. She pushes at Batman to leave. Batman then slowly smiles at her. He takes the bag of money and leaves. Catwoman smiles, thinking she’s been let off the hook, only to find herself handcuffed to the fence. She falls to the ground, despondent, then looks up in quiet rage. A remorseful Bruce Wayne looks through the window at the party, again, watching police cars fly past below. Then, a lady who bears a striking resemblance to Catwoman’s alter ego Selina Kyle grabs his arm and pulls him back to the party.

A great musical short, bonus feature on “Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman” DVD. The animation is in the style of the classic Batman animated series from the 90s. I watched this show more than a decade ago when I was in primary school and it still remains unsurpassed! The atmosphere of “Chase Me” is exquisite and stylish. The colors are bright and eye-pleasing.The music combines some classic soundtrack motifs with jazzy saxophones and creates a theme that fits perfectly to the concept of the film.This is definitely one of my favorite music videos! Pure delight, not only for Batman fans. Strongly recommended.

 

 

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: RED SON

CAST (VOICES)

David Lodge (Digimon)
Wendee Lee (Masked Rider)
Jim Meskimen (Frost/Nixon)
Cindy Robinson (Sonic Boom)
Kirk Thornton (Ninja Scroll)

In the 1950s, the Soviet Union reveals its newest asset to be Superman. The sudden revelation of a superpowered alien under Soviet control causes panic in the United States, shifting the focus of the Cold War arms race from nuclear weapons to superhumans. CIA agent James Olsen recruits Lex Luthor, a scientist employed by S.T.A.R. Labs, to destroy Superman. Luthor’s first act is to cause Sputnik 2 to plummet towards Metropolis. After Superman diverts the satellite away from the city, Luthor retrieves his genetic material and creates a monstrous clone of Superman whom Lex Luthor officially names Superman 2 when he is unveiled to Olsen.


Meanwhile, Superman meets Wonder Woman at a diplomatic party, and she becomes smitten by him. Pyotr Roslov, the head of the NKVD and Joseph Stalin’s illegitimate son, is angry that Superman has turned his father’s attention away from him and ended his chances of advancement within the Soviet regime. Pyotr shoots a dissident couple in front of their son for printing anti-Superman propaganda. Stalin dies from cyanide poisoning, and Superman initially refuses command of the Communist Party. However, a chance meeting with Lana Lazarenko, his childhood sweetheart, changes his mind. Superman chooses to use his powers for the greater good and turn his country into a utopia.

The U.S. government sends “Superman 2” to engage Superman, and their duel causes an accidental nuclear missile launch in Great Britain. The clone sacrifices itself to save millions. Luthor murders his research staff at S.T.A.R. Labs and founds LuthorCorp, dedicating his life to destroying Superman. By 1978, the United States is on the verge of social collapse whereas the prosperous Soviet Union has peacefully expanded its influence to nearly every corner of the globe. The cost of this progress is an increased infringement on individual liberties, with Superman fast becoming a Big Brother-like figure; a brain surgery technique that turns dissidents into obedient drones, or “Superman Robots”, is in use. Superman now works with Wonder Woman to save lives as well as govern the Soviet state. Wonder Woman has become enamored of Superman, but he considers her simply as a comrade, and is oblivious to her love for him.

Luthor plans to shrink Moscow, but this plan fails when Brainiac, his collaborator, shrinks Stalingrad instead. Superman intervenes and retrieves both Brainiac’s central processing unit and the tiny city, putting an end to the Brainiac-Luthor cooperation. He is unable to restore Stalingrad and its inhabitants to their proper size. This becomes his one failure and a source of great guilt.

Luthor’s third plan involves Batman, who was the boy orphaned by Pyotr. Batman joins forces with LuthorCorp and Pyotr, now head of the KGB. They capture Wonder Woman and use her as bait for Superman, hoping to sap his powers with rays that imitate the light of Superman’s home planet. The plan works, but Superman convinces Wonder Woman to break free of the lasso that she is tied up with and destroy the generators running the lamps emitting the solar rays of Superman’s home planet. She does, severely injuring herself in the process, but the lamps stop running and Superman’s powers return. Scared that Superman was going to lobotomize him and turn him into a robot, Batman kills himself as a martyr to his cause. Pyotr is turned into a Superman robot, and Wonder Woman no longer has feelings for Superman as he shows little to no regard for her injured condition.

Luthor enacts his fourth plan when he finds a mysterious green lantern found in an alien ship that crashed at Roswell, New Mexico. Brainiac is reprogrammed into Superman’s aide, and the construction of a Fortress of Solitude, located in Siberia and referred to as “The Winter Palace”, begins. Superman’s reign continues with no crime, poverty, or unemployment, but with an ever-present state authority. Superman is committed to “winning the argument” with the U.S., and repeatedly refuses Brainiac’s suggestions of an invasion. Stalingrad remains his one failure, now contained within a protective glass “bottle”. The USA elects Luthor and Olsen as President and Vice President. Using his scientific expertise, massive economic capital and dictatorial powers, Luthor returns prosperity to his country. This is only a part of a more general plan to provoke Superman into invading the United States. Luthor shows Olsen two of his greatest discoveries: the Phantom Zone, a place that super-hearing cannot reach; and the Green Lantern Corps.

Luthor confronts Superman in the Winter Palace. Brainiac yanks Luthor deep into the recesses of the Fortress to be converted surgically into a Superman Robot, claiming that Lex would convince Superman to commit suicide in less than fourteen minutes. Superman agrees that his hand has been forced, and prepares to attack. First Lady Lois Luthor visits Paradise Island to forge an alliance with the Amazon empire, now ruled by an embittered and vengeful Wonder Woman. Superman attacks the East Coast, confronting and defeating the Green Lantern Marine Corps, which is led by Colonel Hal Jordan. The Amazon forces, commanded by Wonder Woman, attack Superman but are quickly defeated, along with a collection of “super-menaces” (including Atomic Skull, Parasite and Doomsday) that Luthor has put together over the years. Brainiac’s spaceship cuts the U.S. Pacific fleet to pieces, and the two superbeings meet at the White House. They are greeted by Lois Luthor with the last weapon, a small note written by Lex that reads, “Why don’t you just put the whole world in a bottle, Superman?” Realizing he has meddled in affairs that he had no place in, Superman orders Brainiac to end the invasion. Brainiac, however, reveals it has never been under Superman’s control, and instead attacks Superman with green kryptonite radiation. Brainiac is shut down from inside by Luthor, who evaded surgery. As the singularities powering Brainiac’s ship threaten to collapse, Superman rockets it into space, where it explodes. The Earth is saved, but Superman is apparently dead. The Soviet Union falls into chaos, but is soon brought back under control thanks to the Batmen (resistance members who began wearing the costume after Batman’s death). Lex Luthor integrates many of Superman’s and Brainiac’s ideas into the new philosophy of “Luthorism” and forms a “Global United States”. This becomes the defining moment for mankind’s future as it enters an unprecedented age of peace and stability. A benevolent world government is formed and maintained. Luthor presides over a string of scientific achievements, including the curing of all known disease, and colonization of the solar system. Luthor lives for over one thousand years.

At Luthor’s funeral, it is revealed that Superman survived the explosion of Brainiac’s ship and is apparently immortal. Superman attends the funeral wearing a business suit and thick glasses essentially identical to the appearance of Clark Kent, an identity he never adopted in this timeline. Luthor’s widow, Lois, sees this mysterious figure in the crowd and, other than an eerie sense of deja vu, suspects nothing. Superman walks quietly away from the ceremony, planning to live among humans rather than ruling over them.

Billions of years in the future, Earth is being torn apart by tidal stresses from the sun, which has become a red giant. Luthor’s distant descendant, Jor-L, sends his infant son, Kal-L, rocketing back into the past. The final panels of the comic book depict the landing of Kal-L’s timeship in a Ukrainian collective in 1938, effectively causing a predestination paradox (and, thus, making Superman a descendant of Luthor).

 

Superman Red Son is an animated version of Mark Millar’s graphic novel. The artwork is fantastic and the alternate tale of an infant Superman who crash lands on Earth 12 hours earlier in this Universe and therefore lands in Russia rather than America is just awsome. a Great Motion Comic for DC fans.