REVIEW: SUPER 8

CAST
Elle Fanning (Maleficent)
AJ Michalka (The Lovely Bones)
Kyle Chandler (Zero Dark Thirty)
Joel Courtney (The Messengers)
Jessica Tuck (Flashforward)
Joel McKinnon Miller (Men In Black II)
Ryan Lee (Goosbumps)
Zach Mills (Changeling)
Ron Eldard (Sleepers)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Amanda Foreman (Alias)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Dale Dickey (My Name Is Earl)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
In 1979, Deputy Sheriff Jack Lamb (Kyle Chandler) of Lillian, Ohio, and his 14-year-old son Joe (Joel Courtney), mourn the death of his mother Elizabeth (Caitriona Balfe) in a steel mill accident. Jack blames her co-worker, Louis Dainard (Ron Eldard), as she was covering his shift while he recovered from a hangover. Four months later, Joe’s best friend Charles Kaznyk (Riley Griffiths) decides to make a low-budget zombie movie for an international film competition. Charles enlists the help of Preston Scott (Zach Mills), Martin Read (Gabriel Basso), and Cary McCarthy (Ryan Lee), as well as Dainard’s daughter, Alice (Elle Fanning). Though their fathers would be furious, Joe and Alice become infatuated with each other.
Charles wants to film a scene at a train depot using a passing train to add authenticity. While filming, Joe witnesses a pickup truck drive onto the tracks and ram the train, causing a massive derailment that just about destroys the whole train and the friends barely escape. The children investigate the wreck and find crates full of strange white cubes, then discover the truck’s driver is Dr. Woodward (Glynn Turman), their biology teacher. Woodward, barely alive, warns them at gunpoint to forget what they saw that night, or else they and their parents will be killed. The children flee the scene just as a convoy from the local U.S. Air Force base, led by Col. Nelec (Noah Emmerich), arrive at the scene. Nelec discovers an empty box of Super 8mm film, and assumes the event was captured on camera.
While Joe and Charles wait for their film to be developed, the town experiences strange events: All the dogs run away, several townspeople go missing, and electronics from all over are stolen. Overhearing military communications, Jack approaches Nelec to address the rising panic in town, but Nelec instead orders him arrested. Nelec orders the use of flamethrowers to start wildfires outside of town, as an excuse to evacuate people to the base. Suddenly, soldiers sweep into town to begin the evacuation. Meanwhile, Joe and Charles watch the derailment footage and discover that a large creature escaped from the train.
At the base, Joe learns from Alice’s father that she is missing, abducted by the creature. Joe, Charles, Martin, and Cary convince Jen, Charles older sister to pretend to hit on Donny (worker at the camera shop) in order to get into town to rescue Alice. They break into Dr. Woodward’s storage trailer and discover films and documents from his time as a government researcher.
They play the film, which reveals that an alien crash-landed in 1958. The Air Force captured the alien and was running experiments on it while keeping it from its ship. Woodward was one of the scientists experimenting on the ship, composed of the white cubes. At one point, the alien grabs Woodward, apparently establishing a psychic connection with him. Now understanding the alien, he was compelled to rescue it and help it escape from Earth. He finds out about the train, years later, and sought the opportunity to help the creature. The boys are caught by Nelec, but as they are taken back to base, the alien attacks their bus. The airmen are killed and the boys escape. Meanwhile, Jack escapes from the base’s brig and makes his way to the shelter housing the townsfolk. He learns from Preston about Joe’s plan to rescue Alice. Jack and Dainard then agree to put aside their differences to save their kids.
In town, their hardware malfunctions as the military attempts to kill the alien. Martin is injured in an explosion, so Charles stays behind with him while Joe and Cary head to the cemetery, where Joe had earlier seen something there that made him suspicious. Inside the cemetery’s garage, they find a massive tunnel leading to a warren of underground caverns. In a chamber beneath the town’s water tower, they find the alien has created a device from the town’s stolen electronics, attached to the base of the tower. The alien also has several people, including Alice, hanging from the ceiling and unconscious. Using Cary’s firecrackers as a distraction, Joe frees Alice and the others, but they end up trapped in a dead end cavern after the alien chases them down. Alice and Cary scream and cower against the tunnel wall, but Joe steps forward and tries to talk to the alien. The alien grabs Joe, who quietly speaks to the alien, telling him over and over that “bad things happen” but that the alien “can still live”. After studying Joe for a moment, the alien releases him and departs, allowing the three to return to the surface.
As Joe and Alice reunite with their fathers, everyone watches as metal objects from all over town are magnetically pulled to the top of the water tower. The white cubes are also pulled in to assemble into a spaceship around the water tank. The locket that used to belong to Joe’s mom is also drawn towards the tower and Joe, after a brief moment, decides to let it go, completing the ship. The alien enters the completed spaceship; the water tower implodes and the ship rockets into space. Joe takes Alice’s hand as they watch the ship depart into the night sky. During the credits, the kids’ completed film, entitled The Case, is shown.
Super 8 is a homage to classic 70’s & 80’s style kids adventure movies, touching on those teen/adult growing pains. It’s well filmed, well acted, and albeit a little long winded in places, it manages to come together to create a film that kids today can get a taste of what their parents grew up watching, while the mums & dads get a nostalgia trip. Make sure to stick around as the final credits roll, to watch the guys finished zombie movie, it’s just as good as the whole film.

 

 

 

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD – SEASON 1-3

Image result for batman the brave and the bold logo

MAIN CAST

Diedrich Bader (Vampires Suck)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Marc Worden (Ultimate Avengers)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
John Dimaggio (Futurama)
Tom Kenny (Super hero Squad)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Corey Burton (Critters)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Vyvan Pham (Generator Rex)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Mikey Kelley (TMNT)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Will Wheaton (Powers)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Jeff Bennett (James Bond Jr.)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Ellen Greene (Pushing Daisies)
Armin Shimmerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Billy West (Futurama)
Jeffrey Tambor (The Hangover)
Paul Reubens (Gotham)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers II)
Peter Woodward (Crusade)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
James Remar (Flashforward)
Jeffrey Combs (Gothman)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
William Katt (Carrie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mark Hamill (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam West (BAtman 60s)
Julie Newmar (Batman 60s)
Dana Delany (Body of Proof)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and Thje X-Men)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Mae Whitman (Independence Day)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Revels)
John Michael Higgins (Still Waiting)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Henry Winkler (Happy Days)

There’s a gloriously meta moment in the back half of this season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold where the show’s producers are raked over the coals at Comic-Con. One of the twentysomethings in the crowd grouses and groans about how the Caped Crusader in the cartoon isn’t his Batman, and…well, he’s not wrong. DC’s comics anymore are joylessly grim and gritty…22 monthly pages of misery and scowling and torture and dismemberment and death and high collars and way too much crosshatching. Batman: The Brave and the Bold, meanwhile, is defined by its vivid colors and clean, thick linework. It’s a series whose boundless imagination and thirst for high adventure make you feel like a six year old again, all wide-eyed and grinning ear to ear.


You know all about The Dark Knight’s war on crime, and in The Brave and the Bold , he’ll duke it out against any badnik, anywhere. He doesn’t go it alone, either, with every episode pairing Batman up with at least one other DC superhero. Heck, to keep it interesting, The Brave and the Bold shies away from the obvious choices like Superman and Wonder Woman. Instead, you get more interesting team-ups like Blue Beetle (more than one, even!), Elongated Man, Wildcat, Mister Miracle, Kamandi, and B’wana Beast.
Other animated incarnations of Batman have been rooted in something close enough to reality. Sure, you might have androids and the occasional Man-Bat, but they tried to veer away from anything too fantastic. The Brave and tbe Bold has free reign to do just about whatever it wants. One week, maybe you’ll get an adventure in the far-flung reaches of space with a bunch of blobby alien amoebas who mistake Batman for Blue Beetle’s sidekick. The next might offer up Tolkien-esque high fantasy with dragons and dark sorcery. Later on, Aquaman and The Atom could play Fantastic Voyage inside Batman’s bloodstream, all while the Caped Crusader is swimming around in a thirty-story walking pile of toxic waste. He could be in a Western or a post-apocalyptic wasteland or a capes-and-cowls musical or even investigate a series of grisly something-or-anothers alongside Sherlock Holmes in Victorian England.

Batman has markedly different relationships with every one of those masked heroes. There’s the gadget geekery with an earlier incarnation of the Blue Beetle. With the younger, greener-but-still-blue Beetle, Batman takes on more of a mentor role.

More of a stern paternal figure for Plastic Man, and a rival for Green Arrow. Sometime it might not even be the most pleasant dynamic, such as a decidedly adult Robin who doesn’t feel like he can fully step outside the long shadow that Batman casts.

There are some really unique takes on iconic (and not so iconic!) DC superheroes here, and far and away the standout is Aquaman. This barrel-chested, adventure-loving braggart is my favorite incarnation of the king of the seven seas, and if Aquaman ever scores a cartoon of his own, I hope he looks and acts a lot like this. Oh, and The Brave and the Bold does a spectacular job mining DC’s longboxes for villains too, and along with some of the familiar favorites, you get a chance to boo and hiss at the likes of Kanjar Ro, The Sportsmaster, Kite Man, Gentleman Ghost, Chemo, Calendar ManKing, Crazy Quilt, and Shrapnel. The Brave and the Bold delivers its own versions of Toyman, Vandal Savage, and Libra while it’s at it, the latter of whom has the closest thing to a season arc that the series inches towards.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold is every bit as fun and thrilling as you’d expect from a series where every episode’s title ends with an exclamation point. Each installment is fat-packed with action, and the series has a knack for piling it on in ways I never saw coming. Even with as imaginative and off-the-walls as The Brave and the Bold can get, it still sticks to its own internal logic, so the numerous twists, turns, and surprises are all very much earned.

The majority of the episodes have a cold open not related to the remainder of the episode. Despite its episodic nature, if you’re expecting a big storyline in these 26 episodes, you’re going to be pretty disappointed as the extent of an overarching story in the season is the occasional villain that appears more than once, like Starro, but that’s really the only connecting bridge between episodes.

Season 2 contains one of my favorite episodes of not only this particular season, but probably in the entire series, “Chill of the Night!”, which goes back to Batman’s origins as Bruce Wayne learns more about the man who murdered his parents, turning him into the crime-fighter he would become, it’s one of the most well known origin stories in media, ever, but it’s done so well here. Another reason I love this episode is my blinding nostalgia for the voice cast.

The original 1960’s Batman, Adam West, guest stars as Batman’s father, Thomas Wayne, while Julie Newmar, who starred opposite of West as Catwoman from the original Batman TV show, plays Batman’s mother, Martha Wayne. My favorite Batman of all time, theatrical or not, Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman from Batman: The Animated Series and various other series/movies/games, voices the Phantom Stranger. Lastly, the baddie of the episode, The Spectre, is voiced by none other than Mark Hamill, the definitive voice of the Joker.

The Episodes in season 3 are wildly imaginative; so much so that purists will probably be put off, at least initially. They range from “Night of the Batmen”, where batman is incapacitated and it is up to Aquaman, Green Arrow, Captain Marvel, and Plastic Man to don the cowl, and keep gotham safe. As weird as that may sound, this episode is pure fun, and a joy to watch. Other stand outs are the never before seen in the states “The Mask of Matches Malone”, “Shadow of the Bat”, “Scorn of the Star Sapphire”, and “Powerless”.

Special mention has to be made of the final episode of the series however, “Mitefall”. In this meta episode, Batmite does a fantastic job breaking down why the series is ending, and the disconnect of the so-called “purists”, whose baseless, closed minded, ignorance eventually doomed this excellent series.

When all is said and done, we received three outstanding, and criminally underrated, seasons and it is a joy to see.