REVIEW: HELLBOY ANIMATED: BLOOD AND IRON

CAST

Ron Perlman (13 Sins)
Selma Blair (Anger Management)
John Hurt (Alien)
Doug Jones (The Neighbors)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)

In a series of flashbacks played in reverse chronological order it is related that in 1939, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm investigated a series of murders in Eastern Europe. Erzebet Ondrushko, a vampire who bathed in the blood of innocents to stay young, was responsible. She had sold her soul to the Queen of Witches, the goddess Hecate, and had just kidnapped the fiancee of one of the townsmen. When the search party confronted Erzebet in her castle, all members of the party were horribly killed, and Bruttenholm was left to face her alone. He tricked her into the sunlight, effectively destroying her.

In the present day, an elderly Bruttenholm, who is overcome with memories of his encounter with Erzebet, takes a particular interest in a publicity stunt case in the Hamptons on Long Island. A haunting has been reported in a mansion recently purchased by developer Oliver Trumbolt, a friend of a U.S. Senator with hands deep in the BPRD’s budget, and considered a low priority. Bruttenhom insists that their most advanced team should go: Liz Sherman, Abe Sapien, Hellboy and junior agent Sydney Leach as well as himself (to everyone’s surprise). Bruttenholm does not explain his motives at first.
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Ana, a blushing bride-to-be is met on the streets by two elderly women who encourage her to go to her bridal gown fitting, where she meets Erzebet, who had already killed the shop owner and her baby. Ana innocently comments that Erzebet reminds her of her “older” sister, offending her until she notices that Erzabet has no reflection. She screams, and everything goes dark. Later, upon being told that Father Lupescu was the one who convinced Ana to go to her fitting despite the disappearances of the young girls in the village, Erzabet pays him a visit, frightening him with her dark powers and confirming that his faith is not enough to keep her power from affecting the town. The BPRD team arrives at Trumbolt’s site and sets up to investigate the haunting. Despite a few open windows, a creepy lifelike replica of Erzabet and an old, suspiciously familiar-looking groundskeeper, everything seems normal until night falls and they each encounter strange ghostly apparitions, culminating in dozens of spirits of Erzabet’s former victims. Excited that he may have found a goldmine, Trumbolt ignores the professor’s warnings and is attacked. Ana goes to visit Father Lupescu who convinces her that she should not fear danger because the church is strong and the faith will keep her from harm. She hurries off to have her fitting done, running into Professor Bruttenholm as she leaves. Bruttenholm attempts to explain to Lupescu about Erzabet’s true nature and her allegiance to Hecate, but he becomes offended and turns Bruttenholm away.
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Using his abilities to detect metal, Leach finds a secret passageway through the house’s cellar, inadvertently coming across Trumbolt’s body, drained of blood. The blood has been placed in a bathtub, apparently for Erzabet’s revival. Bruttenholm and Liz head for the gardens to stop Hecate and Erzabet’s Harpy-Hags from summoning her back from the dead while a werewolf attacks Hellboy and Abe. Abe is knocked unconscious and taken by the harpies for experimentation while Hellboy fights the werewolf, eventually subduing it and revealing that it is Father Lupescu, the groundskeeper whom Bruttenholm had earlier identified. Meanwhile, Liz and Bruttenholm are attacked, first by wolves, then by Erzabet’s withered body, which knocks Liz out and takes Bruttenholm. Hellboy is dropped through a hole in the courtyard and meets Hecate, who is perplexed as to why he helps the mortals, and tries to lure him to the dark side. He bluntly refuses again and again, forcing Hecate to take a physical form to deal with him. After Abe escapes them, the harpies come across Hecate, but one is killed as she violently thrashes with Hellboy and the other escapes. Erzabet bathes in Trumbolt’s blood and rejuvenates herself, but she begins to wither and decay again from the Holy Water which Bruttenholm had added to the bath. He breaks off a chair leg and finishes her off. Her death enrages Hecate who brutally attacks Hellboy and badly wounds him, and when he realizes her weakness is the sun, he lures her outside, forcing her back into the darkness of her own realm, defeated.
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Bruttenholm is preparing for his trip to Transylvania where rumors have it that there is a vampire on the loose. As he is packing, his colleague comes in and they discuss the “right hand of doom” (Hellboy’s stone hand); Bruttenholm asserts that so long as evil exists, good will rise up against it, before revealing an image of Hellboy’s right hand, signifying that he will be responsible for the destruction of the world.Hellboy wakens in his bed, admiring Bruttenholm, his adopted father, before falling back to sleep again.4df3f410-fefa-404e-86a7-7d9d462f78b3_mediumHellboy: Blood and Iron is a solid Hellboy spinoff movie, and serves as a window into the past of the underused Professor.

 

REVIEW: HELLBOY ANIMATED: SWORD OF STORMS

CAST

Ron Perlman (13 Sins)
Selma Blair (Anger Management)
Doug Jones (The Neighbors)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)

15977966_377665005938992_7057322466359487057_nThe film starts in the middle of an unspecified mission which sees Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien battling bat-worshipping Mayan zombies who are led by a gigantic zombie bat. The group are eventually able to defeat their opponents when Liz unleashes her pyrokinetic powers, although she is still unsure of her ability to control her powers.
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Meanwhile, Japanese folklore expert Professor Sakai obtains an ancient scroll containing the myth of two demonic brothers, Thunder and Lightning. Hundreds of years ago, the brothers roamed the earth, unleashing storms on the lands of a Japanese Lord. In exchange for mercy, the Lord promised to give them his beautiful daughter. One of the Lord’s samurai warriors was in love with the daughter and hid her in a shrine to protect her. Armed with the Sword of Storms, a mystical sword imbued with an ancient spell to defeat Thunder and Lightning, the warrior fought the brothers and trapped both demons’ spirits in the sword. Although his lands and daughter had been saved, the Lord was not pleased since the warrior’s actions meant the Lord had broken a promise. In an act of vengeance, the Lord summoned the gods to turn the warrior to stone and then killed his daughter in the shrine.
0-n1m5bgtjim060lfjIn current-day Japan, Professor Sakai is possessed by the spirits of Thunder and Lightning while reading the scroll. The demonic brothers send the professor in search of the mystical sword. After he attacks the sword collector who currently owns the sword, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense is alerted and Hellboy, Kate Corrigan, and a psychic named Russell Thorne are called in with a team to investigate. During the investigation, Hellboy picks up a discarded katana and vanishes to another dimension that is reminiscent of ancient Japan. Hellboy meets a wise kitsune, who tells him that the sword he holds is the Sword of Storms and that the goal of his journey lies to the west. Hellboy travels through the alternate universe and learns that he can only return to his own world by breaking the sword, although that will also free the demonic brothers. Along the way Hellboy encounters several mythical Yōkai, sent by the still possessed Professor Sakai, who try to steal the sword from him, including the kappa, a trio of rokurokubi, a group of nukekubi, a Jorōgumo, Gashadokuro, tengu, Yomotsu-shikome, and the restless ghost of the Lord’s daughter. Hellboy is able to outsmart or defeat all of them.
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Meanwhile, Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman are called to the sites of disturbing earthquakes and discover that Thunder and Lightning are summoning their brothers, the dragons. They meet the same kitsune who guided Hellboy and are instructed to stop the dragons. One of the dragons attacks them but Liz manages to hold it back using her pyrokinetic abilities. Professor Sakai, in the meantime, has gone to the shrine where the Lord killed his daughter, followed by Kate and Russell who have just survived an attack by several objects from Japanese folklore. At the same time, Hellboy is tricked into destroying the sword by the giant Oni (who faded away before the final blow can be struck) which releases Thunder and Lightning, frees Professor Sakai, and sends Hellboy to the shrine as well. Hellboy eventually manages to trap both spirits in the sword again. As a result, the dragons are sealed back into the underworld. The ghosts of the daughter and the Lord possess Kate and Russell, in order to replay the daughter’s execution. Hellboy accidentally frees the ghost of the samurai warrior from its stone form and then convinces the Lord to forgive his daughter and the warrior, thereby breaking the cycle of their unending deaths. The spirits depart, thankful to Hellboy and the others for helping them.4df3f410-fefa-404e-86a7-7d9d462f78b3_mediumIf you are seriously into Hellboy or even if you are just a casual fan of the movie then you totally have to get this.

REVIEW: BATMAN: HUSH

Starring

Jason O’Mara (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon A Time)
Jerry O’Connell (Veronica Mars)
Rebecca Romijn (X-Men)
Maury Sterling (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Rainn Wilson (Star Trek: Discovery)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty)
Peyton List (Remember Me)
Bruce Thomas (Army of Darkness)
Stuart Allan (Rise of The Guardians)
James Garrett (Titanic)
Geoffrey Arend (Body of Proof)
Jason Spisak (Batman: Bad Blood)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)

Batman: Hush (2019)Bruce Wayne is attending an evening party where he meets Selina Kyle and his childhood friend and renowned brain surgeon Thomas Elliot, until he receives an alert from Alfred about a child kidnapping from Bane. After a brief fight, Batman is confronted by Lady Shiva who tells him an unknown intruder has used the Lazarus Pit and asks for his assistance in identifying them. Batman rescues the child, but Catwoman steals the ransom money. As Batman swings through Gotham City in pursuit of her, a mysterious villain shoots his grapple line and he falls to the ground, fracturing his skull. He is nearly killed by a group of nearby criminals until he is saved by Catwoman and Batgirl. Catwoman delivers the ransom money to Poison Ivy, who is controlling her through a hypnotic kiss.Batman: Hush (2019)Alfred summons Thomas Elliot to remove skull fragments from Bruce’s brain. Batman recovers and pays a trip to Blackgate Penitentiary to interrogate Bane on the whereabouts of the money. Bane eventually escapes and Batman strikes a deal with Amanda Waller, who allows Bane’s escape so Batman can track him. Bane leads Batman to Poison Ivy’s now abandoned greenhouse where Catwoman is. Waller captures Bane and returns him to Blackgate Penitentiary.Batman: Hush (2019)Seeking retaliation for Ivy’s manipulation, Catwoman offers information on her whereabouts to Batman in exchange for a kiss and a tenuous romance blooms between them. Batman and Catwoman follow Poison Ivy to Metropolis. Batman finds Lex Luthor, now a probationary member of the Justice League, and asks for information on a delivery list of an ethylene compound to track down Ivy’s location. There they find Ivy has taken control of Superman and she commands the Man of Steel to kill Batman and Catwoman. Batman observes that Superman is subconsciously resisting Ivy’s influence, holding back on his attempts to kill both of them. Using knuckledusters made from Kryptonite, Batman stalls Superman while Catwoman lets Lois Lane fall from the Daily Planet building. Superman breaks free of Ivy’s control to save Lois. Batman, Superman, and Catwoman work together to capture Ivy, who reveals that she was being manipulated by a mysterious foe called Hush.Batman: Hush (2019)Bruce Wayne goes on a date with Selina, who is unaware of the former’s identity as Batman, much to the encouragement of his family. The two, along with Thomas Elliot, attend an opera when Harley Quinn arrives and attempts to kill Bruce. In the ensuing struggle, Dr. Elliot is apparently shot dead by Joker. An enraged Batman violently beats Joker who claims that he is innocent, and he is stopped short of killing him by Commissioner James Gordon. Bruce attends Elliot’s funeral and deduces Joker’s innocence as well that Hush must know his secret identity. After foiling a robbery by Riddler, Batman chases after Hush but fails to catch him. Afraid for her safety, Batman asks Selina to leave Gotham so she doesn’t fall victim to Hush, who vowed to murder everyone close to him. He eventually decides to trust Catwoman and reveals his identity to her, and the two become a romantic crime-fighting couple.Batman: Hush (2019)Later, Batman investigates the office of Thomas Elliot and discovers one of his patients was someone called Arthur Wynne who sought an operation for an inoperable brain tumor. Nightwing and Catwoman investigate a graveyard break-in and are attacked by the Scarecrow. Nightwing is overpowered by the fear toxin, but Catwoman defeats Scarecrow and gets Nightwing to safety. However, she is captured by Hush after Nightwing escapes.Batman: Hush (2019)At Arkham Asylum, Batman interrogates Riddler who reveals that he has been Wynne as well as Hush. He had used a Lazarus Pit to cure himself of his brain tumor and during his time in the Lazarus Pit, he figured out Batman’s identity as Bruce Wayne and formed a plan involving several villains to destroy both the personal life and the crime-fighting career of Batman. Batman deduces that Riddler is actually Clayface mimicking his identity while the latter communicated via satellite. After defeating Clayface, Batman finds Riddler’s location and the two engage in a final confrontation. Riddler is nearly killed, but is saved by Batman with his grapnel. However, Catwoman cuts the line and allows Riddler to fall to his death. In the aftermath, Batman and Catwoman decide to go their separate ways after a fierce disagreement over Batman’s ethical code. Both of them acknowledge that while their relationship cannot happen presently, it may someday.Batman: Hush (2019)We see Batman go through a lot of trials in this movie. He takes on his gallery, he explores love, and his code is tested. The movie is great in the visuals, the writing, the music, the voice acting, and so much more. There are changes made to make it fit in the current universe and it works well. A good balance of humor and drama in between all the action. Some will complain about the changes and cuts, but the movie maintains the heart of the story when it comes to Batman and his challenges. A worthwhile watch for fans of Batman.

 

REVIEW: HERO HIGH

CAST (VOICES)

John Berwick (Goliath Awaits)
Jere Fields (Aesop’s Fables)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Erika Scheimer (She-Ra)

ds9-cast-1200x786I remember very little about Hero High when it ran on broadcast television on Saturday mornings back in 1981. Presumably my attention was simply devoted to a rival network. However, my love for both Filmation and anything BCI/ Ink & Paint puts out led me to ordering the Hero High box set and I’m quite glad that I did. For starters the set includes all 26 animated episodes of the series (each episode runs about 8 minutes long) with writer commentary on a couple of them. Disc 1 contains the first 14 while disc 2 contains the remaining 12 and a host of interesting special features including interviews with many of the show’s actors and producers. We even hear from producer Lou Scheimer in several of the interviews.MV5BMDcyMGE5NGEtOTMyNC00NDJmLTllY2UtZjUzMWIxMTY3MmI2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTEwODg2MDY@._V1_The show (for those who have not yet had a chance to enjoy it) is surprisingly well done and clearly provided the source material for more recent super hero spoofs such as Sky High and The Incredibles. Rather than compete directly with the campy superhero animation out at the time (Hanna Barbara’s Superfriends for example), Hero High knew not to take itself too seriously instead choosing to poke fun at both itself and comic action in general.cvbcbThe episodes are fairly short romps in a tradition of good clean fun rather than epic good versus evil and to be completely honest, some of the humor contained within is on par with the type of material one would expect in sitcoms from the era. Additionally the second disc contains an episode of the live action skit that came packaged in the Kid Super Power Hour at the time. This, too, can be viewed with writer and actor commentary, which really adds to the value of reliving the experience. The package itself is in a league of its own (as all BCI/ Ink & Paint sets tend to be) with colorful sleeve art and a book that not only lists all of the episodes but also provides color photographs, a synopsis of each one and a trivia pertaining to the episode! Talk about going above and beyond to deliver quality. The picture quality is quite crisp and clean (showing no indication of the era) as are the audio tracks. Once again Ink & Paint have provided a masterpiece compilation worthy of shelf space on any collector’s entertainment center.

REVIEW: SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER – SEASON 3

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CAST (VOICES)

Aimee Carrero (The Last Witch Hunter)
Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squad)
AJ Michalka (Super 8)
Marcus Scribner (The Good Dinosaur)
Reshma Shetty (Blindspot)
Lorraine Toussaint (The Night Before)
Keston John (The Good Place)
Lauren Ash (The Disaster Artist)
Christine Woods (Flashforward)
Genesis Rodriguez (Tusk)
Jordan Fisher (Teen Wolf)
Vella Lovell (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Sandra Oh (Sideways)
Krystal Joy Brown (Castle)
Grey DeLisle (Paradise PD)
Merit Leighton (Alexa & Katie)
Antony Del Rio (Avengers Assemble)
Geena Davis (The Fly)

juijujijooShe-Ra is making a return for its third outing on August 2, but we had the chance to watch all six episodes ahead of its premiere. And boy, is it a doozy. Getting into She-Ra was something of a slow burn for me. It took the more sedate pace of the second season, coupled with the fleshing out of several character ties and relationships, for it to really find its footing, but notching the action back somewhat paid dividends as the series heads into its third outing. The foundations upon which She-Ra has been built don’t just crumble away over the six episodes that showrunner Noelle Stevenson and her exceptionally talented and dedicated team have delivered to us. They’re obliterated.she-ra-huntara-adora-glimmer-bow-season-3And I certainly don’t mean that in a bad way. In fact, it’s a huge reinvigoration and looks set to take the entire show in a direction I can’t say anyone will have been expecting. It is complex, layered, and genuinely has me anticipating where it might go next — especially after the bomb-drop of a cliffhanger that the third season leaves you on. A cliffhanger that creeps up, slowly, over the course of the six episodes, and has been embedded into the DNA of the show since day one. It was just that the pieces never really come together until the third season plays out in all of its nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat glory.she-ra-season-3-images-3But the foundation that is rocked, more than any other, is the one upon which She-Ra built the bulk of its storytelling. Its true core: The relationship between Catra and Adora. It was always going to reach a tipping point, and if you thought season 2 took them right to the precipice, the third pushes them beyond the point of no return. Because, when it comes down to it, the actions of both characters, their choices, and the consequences of them irrevocably changes who and what they are to each other.  Where Adora searches for the truth — and, in some cases, finds it — about her origins and the power of She-Ra, Catra seeks to undermine her at every turn. Going back to who they were, together and apart, prior to Adora leaving the Fright Zone is never going to be possible, and both characters come to terms with what that means — with disastrous results.4201e13e-bb2c-4b04-8c4d-08e8707127b5-she-raBreadcrumbs of resentment have been littered between Catra and Adora over the course of many, many episodes. And that finally comes home to roost. The biggest catalyst being the wild-card of Shadow Weaver. The relationship that both Catra and Adora have with their pseudo-mother-figure is complex, steeped in years of emotional abuse and manipulation, but also a twisted sense of love and loyalty. Catra craves acceptance, validation, and yes, to an extent, an unconditional sense of love, but is always passed over in favor of Adora. The favorite child. In Catra’s eyes, at least. It introduces a pressure point that is something of a hot-button. People choosing Adora over her. More than anything, the need to beat Adora in all ways, shapes and forms drives and motivates Catra — when she falls, fails, and repeats the cycle, Catra gradually has nothing left to lose. And there is nothing more dangerous than a character who has nothing to lose.she-ra-animation-4And, in She-Ra’s case, that danger is more than just the degradation of a relationship — or, in some cases, several. It is universe-altering. Because when Catra is given the opportunity to go full-tilt into her darkest urges, she grasps at it with both hands, despite several characters attempting to pull her back from the edge. And once Catra commits, it is like dominoes: thing spiral at speed. There is no going back as the show enters new, uncharted territory. Not only in Catra’s choices to move further away from Adora’s reach, and her friendship with Adora, but also for how we — and in turn, the characters — understand Etheria, and the universe in which it exists. For those of us who have been waiting for the mythology and lore of the show to expand, season 3 is a veritable treasure trove.Screen-Shot-Hordak-a4erd-1024x552The truth about Hordak and where he came from, as well as the origins of the Horde and what Etheria could look like if they win, are all present and accounted for in season 3. And it is, in some ways, a villain origin story that is steeped in well-walked tropes and expectations — but there is also more to it than just that. Hordak and Entrapta’s fledgling friendship pushes them both, and provides Hordak with a side that we — as audiences — have not always been privy to. Certainly, there is more to uncover and dig into — and future seasons will undoubtedly do so — but what we learn here is rich with expanding upon the characters and their pasts. The previous She-Ra, Mara, is included in that. The clues were woven into the fabric of the second season for when Adora needed to find out more about who she is and where she came from, and Adora follows them through to their conclusion — even when it means leaving parts of her former life behind, for good. Glimmer and Bow, through it all, stand strong by her side, and the three of them will need each other more than ever when the dust settles on the third season, and the dawn of the fourth arrives — because certain catastrophic events transpire that will alter the course of their individual trajectories forever.UntitledOh, and the introduction of Huntara and the Crimson Waste is undoubtedly one of the true delights of season 3. I was disappointed not to learn more about Huntara — and eagle-eyed fans will not miss some subtle interactions between her and another character during the trio’s time in a Crimson Waste tavern — but there will be time for that. Especially, and hopefully, if she plays a bigger role moving forward. And I really, really would love for her character to be expanded upon. The hints at Huntara’s past give her a connection to Adora that is difficult for Adora’s other friends in the Princess Alliance to understand or fathom, and it is something that Adora might need moving forward. Huntara is, without a doubt, the best source to tap into for that potential — especially with Catra moving even further outside of Adora’s orbit. There was something of a safety-net hanging securely underneath She-Ra prior to season 3. These six episodes remove that net, and the show plunges deep into something unknown. Stevenson and her team are testing the boundaries of what, and who, She-Ra is, and both the character and the show are all the better for it. It’s not entirely clear where they might take She-Ra beyond this point, but that is certainly part of what makes it so exciting.

 

REVIEW: KHUMBA: A ZEBRA’S TALE

Starring

Jake T. Austin (Justice League vs Teen Titans)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Richard E. Grant (Logan)
Catherine Tate (Starter for 10)
Liam Neeson (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Loretta Devine (Night School)
Laurence Fishburne (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
AnnaSophia Robb (Soul Surfer)
Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls)
Charlie Adler (G.I. Joe: The Movie)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Jeff Bennett (Planes)
Roger L. Jackson (Scream)
Alexander Polinsky (Lost In Oz)
Khary Payton (The Walking Dead)

 

Khumba (2013)In South Africa within the Great Karoo, a half-striped zebra named Khumba (Jake T. Austin) is born into an insular isolated herd of all-striped zebras where his mother is Lungisa (Anika Noni Rose) and his father is Seko (Laurence Fishburne). Rumors that the strange foal is cursed spread and before long he is blamed for the drought that sets into the Great Karoo. As he matures, Khumba is picked on and remains ostracized by most of the herd with the exception of Tombi (AnnaSophia Robb), a young female zebra friend close in age – whom Khumba has a crush on – and uncomfortable in the herd due to her tomboyish manners.Khumba (2013)When a mystical African mantis (Adrian Rhodes) appears to Khumba, he draws a map to what could be interpreted as either water or stripes between it. Khumba jeopardizes the herd and gets into trouble when he attempts to admit several gemsbok (Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and Anele Matoti) into the watering-hole enclosure when their wise elderly healer (Sindiwe Magona) needs water. He also nearly admits the ferocious half-blind African leopard Phango (Liam Neeson) who warns Mkhulu (Ben Vereen) that he and his zebra herd can’t stay in their enclosure forever. Seko berates and scolds Khumba for putting the herd at risk and for the next week, he’ll drink half of his rations. Lungisa tells the story of how a white horse got its stripes by swimming in a magic river and other horses wanted to have stripes like him, making the zebra we know today. Shortly after, Lungisa succumbs to her disease and dies. Then, Khumba leaves the confines of his home knowing that he cannot survive in the herd where it is viewed as only “half-a-zebra” even to his father.Khumba (2013)Khumba ventures beyond the fence and encounters an opportunistic African wild dog named Skalk (Steve Buscemi) who nearly leads the unsuspecting zebra to his doom when Skalk’s pack try to eat him. He is saved by a maternal wildebeest named Mama V (Loretta Devine) and a flamboyant British ostrich named Bradley (Richard E. Grant). Mama V is a self-confessed free spirit who does not want to be the average stay-at-home mom, like other wildebeest. She mothers Bradley who possesses a histrionic diva-esque attitude. The duo join Khumba on his quest in the hope that their own search for a safe waterhole is over.  On their journey, Khumba aids a migrating herd of springbok in opening a hole in a great fence to continue journeying forward. Curiously, the springbok are all so similar that they cannot even differentiate among one another.Khumba (2013)Khumba thinks his journey is over when he wanders into a new age, bohemian community living safely within the confines of Ying’s National Park. There he meets a colorful group of individuals like a family of meerkats, a pangolin, some bushbucks, a bat-eared fox, and an Australian endangered riverine rabbit (Jeff Bennett) who has survived extinction by mastering a myriad of skills ranging from impersonations to beat-boxing. After narrowly escaping capture by an opportunistic group of park rangers who tranquilizes Bradley and traps Khumba in a cage, he wanders to a nearby mountain to speak to the mighty Black Eagle under the advice of the riverine rabbit. Khumba encounters a group of fanatical rock hyraxes who worship the Black Eagle and stymie his advance. From the albino Black Eagle (Roger L. Jackson), he learns the way to the watering hole and that it lies in Phango’s cave. The Black Eagle also reveals the origins of Phango. Born half-blind and rejected by his family as a cub, Phango is obsessed with being whole and murdered his whole family. Unbeknownst to Khumba, Phango is trailing him because of an ancient myth that says consuming the half-striped zebra will make Phango the most powerful hunter that ever lived.Khumba (2013)As Khumba journeys onwards, Seko becomes withdrawn and is remorseful that he has let his herd down. He would have never been so hard on Khumba if it never happened. With Tombi’s help, he realizes that if he does not lead his herd in search of another waterhole, they will all die and sets out to follow the trail of Phango. He is prompted by evidence that Khumba may be alive. Tensions between Khumba, Mama V, and Bradley escalate as they move on. While slaking their thirst at a well on a farm, they are driven away by Nora (Catherine Tate), a loony, solitary Merino sheep, and Khumba reveals that the watering-hole is in Phango’s cave. It was revealed that Nora talked about Phango and Khumba reveals that the waterhole is at his cave. The trio has an argument and a fall-out and Khumba continues on alone. Lost and delirious in a saltpan, Khumba is rescued by the same gemsbok healer that he tried to help and wanders the remaining distance to the mountain, and Phango’s lair. Meanwhile, Phango intercepts Mama V and Bradley and discovers that Khumba is fortuitously heading straight to him and returns to his cave. During this time, it was revealed that Mama V lost her child to Phango. Concerned for Khumba’s safety, Mama V and Bradley decide to intercede and warn him. Meanwhile, determined to find the waterhole and get his stripes, Khumba ventures into the leopard’s lair.Khumba (2013)At the same time, Seko and the zebras journey to Phango’s lair where they are joined by the springbok herd, the animals from Ying’s National Park, the rock-rabbits, Skalk (who left his pack due to “creative differences”), and Nora (who was let out of the farm by Skalk). While Khumba wanders the depths of the dark cave, his herd arrives at the base of the mountain, along with many of the other animals he has encountered along his journey. Within the cave, Khumba finds the watering hole and upon reflection of his mother’s words and all of the interactions he has had, he realizes that diversity is essential for survival and that would can be one’s difference can, in fact, be one’s strength. As Phango closes in, he ends up chasing after Khumba. Khumba races to escape the leopard’s clutches as the cave starts to collapse. Part of the cliff gives way which forms a water hole outside Phango’s cave. The assembled animals watch the fight between Khumba and Phango, which results in both of them falling due to the collapsing cave. During the battle, Khumba was fatally scarred but Phango falls off the cliff where he is killed by two large rocks falling on him, while Khumba falls into the water and his body washes up on the shores.Khumba (2013)As it starts to rain, everyone begins to mourn Khumba until he suddenly awakens from his apparent death. As Khumba gets up, Tombi notices the scratch marks that Phango left on Khumba’s right side during the fight. With Phango dead and the zebra herd now having a new home, Khumba celebrates with his herd, Mama V, Bradley, Skalk, Nora, the gemsbok herd, the springbok herd, the animals from Ying’s National Park, and the rock-rabbits as they engage in different activities around the waterfall.Khumba (2013)Your kids will enjoy it. And if you appreciate animation, you’ll enjoy a fresh approach to a familiar type of animated features.

REVIEW: THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

Starring

Louis C.K. (Trumbo)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Kevin Hart (Get Hard)
Jenny Slate (The Lego Batman Movie)
Ellie Kemper (Set Tape)
Lake Bell (Man Up)
Dana Carvey (Wayne’s World)
Hannibal Buress (Bad Neighbours)
Bobby Moynihan (Sisters)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Steve Coogan (Alan Partiridge)
Albert Brooks (The Simpsons)
Jim Cummings (Christopher Robin)
John Kassir (Tales From The Crypt)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Jim Ward (Batman Vs Two-Face)

Louis C.K., Lake Bell, and Bobby Moynihan in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)A spoiled Jack Russell Terrier named Max lives with his owner Katie in a Manhattan apartment. While she is at work during the day, he hangs out with other pets in the building: tabby cat Chloe, pug Mel, dachshund Buddy, and budgerigar Sweet Pea. One day, Katie adopts Duke, a large Newfoundland mix from the pound, leaving Max jealous because of her divided focus on Duke. Enraged by Max’s attitude towards him, Duke tries to abandon Max in an alley, but they are both attacked by cats led by Sphynx cat Ozone who removes both dogs’ collars and leaves them to be caught by Animal Control. Duke fears that he will be killed if he goes back to the pound. When Gidget, a white Pomeranian who is not so secretly in love with Max, discovers that he is missing, she decides to find him.Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)Max and Duke are rescued by a white rabbit named Snowball, the leader of “The Flushed Pets”—a gang of feral sewer-dwelling animals who hate humans because their owners mistreated and abandoned them. After Max and Duke pretend to despise humans as much as they do by saying they killed their owners, the Flushed Pets invite them to join. Before they can prove their loyalty by allowing a one-fanged viper to bite them, Snowball learns from the cats that Max and Duke are tamed. The two dogs escape the sewers and board a ferry to Brooklyn, inadvertently killing the viper in the process. Snowball vows to kill them and leads the Flushed Pets after them.Louis C.K. and Jenny Slate in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)Meanwhile, Gidget recruits a red-tailed hawk named Tiberius to find Max, but he mistakenly locates Ozone, whom Gidget coerces into telling what he knows about the dogs. They then enlist Mel, Buddy, Chloe, guinea pig Norman and Sweet Pea. On the way, they meet Pops, an old Basset Hound who helps Gidget and the pets find Max. Gidget and her team encounter Snowball, who vows to kill them as well, and Norman is captured as the rest of Gidget’s team flees.Louis C.K. in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)In the meantime, Max and Duke raid a sausage factory for food. While there, Duke tells Max about his previous owner, Fred, an elderly man who adopted him as a puppy and loved spending time with him. One day, Duke got lost while chasing a butterfly and was caught by Animal Control, but Fred never came to claim him. Max convinces him to visit Fred’s house in a nearby neighborhood, confident Fred will still love him and take him back. When they arrive at Fred’s house, they learn from the resident cat Reginald that Fred has died. Heartbroken, Duke accuses Max of attempting to get rid of him and barks at the new homeowners who have just returned to the house and called Animal Control. The handlers catch Max, but Duke interferes long enough for Max to escape and ends up being captured instead.Albert Brooks, Tara Strong, Chris Renaud, Lake Bell, Bobby Moynihan, Jenny Slate, and Hannibal Buress in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)While trying to rescue Duke as he follows the Animal Control van, Max is attacked by Snowball who tries to kill him. However, when his gang is captured, Snowball realizes that he and Max must work together to rescue them. They drive a city bus into the van on the Brooklyn Bridge, stopping traffic. The Flushed Pets encircle Max, unaware of his partnership with Snowball, but Gidget and her team save him. Upon seeing Gidget using her kung-fu fighting skills, Max starts to fall in love with her. The van gets stuck in scaffolding and the Flushed Pets escape. As soon as Max gets the keys to Duke’s cage, the van plummets into the East River with him inside. Max is unable to free Duke, so Snowball jumps into the river to retrieve the keys, allowing them to escape the sinking van.Louis C.K. and Lake Bell in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)The entire group returns to the apartment block by pig-driven taxi. Max expresses his love for Gidget, who returns his affection. Snowball and the Flushed Pets then come up with a new plan to annihilate all humans, but a little girl named Molly arrives and adopts Snowball and the remaining Flushed Pets return to the sewers. At first, Snowball resists, but gives in and lets himself become a domesticated pet. The other pets return to their homes and embrace their owners, and Max and Duke finally reunite with Katie, sparking a true friendship as brothers. In a post-credits scene, Buddy and Mel show up in costume at a party in poodle Leonard’s apartment, hosted by a now-friendlier Snowball.This is clearly aimed at kids but has plenty of humor that adults will enjoy. I’m in my 50s and laughed long and loud at some of the antics. The script is good and moves quickly. I was never bored.