REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SEARCH FOR VENGEANCE

CAST (VOICES)

Alistair Abell (The New Addams Family)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Debi Mae West (Despicable Me)
Jim Byrnes (Andromeda)
Kathleen Barr (Beast Machines)

Image result for highlander the search for vengeanceThe lead character, Colin MacLeod, became an Immortal after his first death in 125 AD in Roman Britain, when his village was attacked by the conquering Romans. Another Immortal, Marcus Octavius, was leading the Roman Empire’s military forces in hopes of creating his dream of a utopian society. Octavius killed Colin’s wife, but was not able to kill Colin whose unconscious body was dragged by a horse to within Stonehenge, a “holy ground” in the story, where Immortals are forbidden to fight.
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Waking days later within Stonehenge, Colin is left confused about who and what he is, and why he is still alive. It is at this moment that the spirit of a former druid of this holy site, Amergan, begins communicating with MacLeod and explains to him what he is. Colin learns of The Game from Amergan, and the druid becomes his lifelong teacher and conscience.
Image result for highlander the search for vengeance
The movie interlaces flashback scenes of this and Colin’s following plight for vengeance throughout time, as Marcus attempts to re-enact his utopian society through force and fear. Throughout the next two millennia, Marcus serves as a high-ranking member of various powerful empires, ranging from the British Empire to Nazi Germany. Marcus wants to encourage the development of a utopian world-empire, but in contrast, the side he chooses tend to be ruthless and authoritarian (e.g. Nazi Germany). For 2000 years, Colin clashes with Marcus multiple times throughout history, always fighting on the opposing side trying to bring down which ever authoritarian regime Marcus is supporting. While Colin is often badly beaten, neither one ever succeeds in killing the other. Though Colin is ostensibly in the role of the “barbarian” and Marcus is the bringer of “civilization”, Marcus cares more about building an empire and less about people’s well-being, with an “ends-justify-the-means” mentality.
Image result for highlander the search for vengeanceIn the year 2187, Colin finds Octavius in a post-apocalyptic future of New York City. Octavius has stopped supporting other regimes but is setting up a new empire with himself as its tyrannical leader. When Colin arrives, Marcus is busy making plans to release a deadly virus which will further his goals of conquest. Colin falls in with the disaffected rebels in the city. After a final duel, Colin defeats Octavius, and his Quickening destroys the virus in question.
Image result for highlander the search for vengeanceFollowing the defeat of Marcus, Colin leaves New York for an unknown destination with a new sense of belief and purpose other than revenge for the first time in his life.

Image result for highlander the search for vengeanceAlthough the plot isn’t original, this is still a great film to own, if you liked the original Highlander film, Ninja Scroll or sword fighting movies, this definitely deserves a spot on your DVD shelf.

 

REVIEW: THE ANIMATRIX

CAST (VOICES)

Hedy Burress (Valentine)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: TBATB)
Clayton Watson (Under The Radar)
Julia Fletcher (Dragon Slayer)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Pamela Adlon (King of The Hill)
Keanu Reeves (Speed)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Melinda Clarke (Gotham)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Tom Kenny (The Super Hero Squad)
Tress Macneille (The SImpsons)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Down Under)

Directors Larry and Andy Wachowski have said in their few interviews that they are big fans of Japanese animation (or, “Anime”). Watching “The Matrix”, one can sense the influences from Anime style. Given the fact that the story of “The Matrix: Reloaded” was too big to tell in one nearly 150-minute movie, elements of the story are being told both in the video game “Enter the Matrix” and this set of animated features, the “Animatrix”.

Given their desire to expand the side and back-stories, the Wachowski brothers had several famed animation directors go to work on 9 short films that further enrich the “Matrix” tale. The first feature is the “Final Flight of the Osiris”, a fully CGI tale constructed by some of the same artists who were involved with “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”. However, as remarkable as “Final Fantasy” was, the animation technology seems to have improved even further, as the kind of detail present here is extraordinary.


“The Second Resistance: Parts I and II” are dark and fascinating shorts that are essential to the understanding of the “Matrix” story. Both stories cover how the machines developed under the eye of man and how they eventually rose up and defeated mankind. As with the rest of the shorts, the imagery throughout these stories is dark, haunting and remarkably imaginative. Sound designer Dane Davis (“The Matrix”, “The Matrix: Reloaded”) has a voice cameo. Directors Larry and Andy Wachowski were also responsible for the writing of these first three segments, which deal the closest with the stories of the two films.

Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves also offer voice cameos in “Kid’s Story”, a tale of a young student who finds out the truth, and must run from agents. “Program” features a samurai battle between a male and female warrior, who debate existence while waging a tense battle. “World Record”, a rather odd feature, involves a track star whose extraordinary talent and drive leads him to find out about the existence of the Matrix. “Beyond” focuses on a young woman who stumbles upon an abandoned building full of children with strange powers while she was searching for her lost cat. “A Detective Story” is a noir-ish piece that has an investigator trying to track down Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss. The piece has a fascinating black-and-white look. Finally, “Matriculated” has members of the human resistance attempting to reprogram a machine to fight on their side.

REVIEW: MARVEL ANIME – IRON MAN

 

CAST (VOICES)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Ben Diskin (Robot Chicken)
Eden rigel (American Pie)
Laura Bailey (JLA Adventures)
Kyle Hebert (Dragon Ball Z)
Neil Kaplan (Digimon)
Travis Willingham (Shelf Life)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Troy Baker (Lego Justice League: Cosmic Clash)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
This series has what you would expect from an Anime of Iron Man, lots of Mache action, great animation but this one even had an interesting story line. In this series Tony Stark is portrayed older, he has completely left the arms business to follow his ARC reactor project and bring clean efficient and free energy to the world. He still trying to use his playboy charms as much as possible, not having quite the same results in Japan as he would in America.

With the Iron Man type technology much more available and Tony’s focusing more of his energy on the ARC reactor, his own amour is for lack of a better term yesterday’s new. He designs a new amour called Iron Man Duo, he claims he is going to retire being Iron Man and let the next generation take over the role. Knowing he needs the right person inside so he short lists 3 candidates. However in the day of the test flight he cannot resist getting into the new Amour one last time. During the test flight the operating system flashes out and Tony crashes everyone puts it down to it being “too much machine for the old man”, but it is the first step of the system being hacked. With his more advanced amour in enemy hands Tony must once again don his Iron Man amour to try and reclaim Due and stop the terrorist organisation Zodiac how have their own plans from the amour technology, Tony and Japan. Another element to the story is that Tony is taken away from his usual allies being in Japan and away from his usual cast of characters only makes brief Skype appearances. With the exception of Anime Wolverine who is actually makes a cameo appearance for half and episode.

 

REVIEW: MARVEL ANIME – WOLVERINE

CAST (VOICES)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
Vic Mignogna (Pokemon)
Kate Higgins (Everstar)
Fred Tatasciore (9)
JB Blanc (Tristan + Isolde)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Gwendoline Yeo (The Batman)
This is the Wolverine from the comics. I read the comic this anime was based on; the subtle points of the story line were taken out in favour of more action scenes. Even that is ok, with me because that fits in with Wolverine’s character completely. The animation is great and fits the mood and theme of the series. The only things (I am being really nit-picky here), I did not like was the way Wolverine was drawn he look too lean and tall. I can understand why this was done probably to make him look more like Huge Jackman. Whereas in the comics he is more stocky even short and muscular. The other thing is Wolverine voice (in the English dub) makes him sound too young, and does not seem to go with his more gruff language. This can still be explained because of his healing factor he vocal cords stay the same as his appearance.

The story 10 years ago Wolverine and his girlfriend (Mariko Yashida) are attacked on a boat. Wolverine put up a good fight despite being shot by hundreds of rounds of machine gun fire. By the end of the fight most of the attackers are dead, but Mariko is missing. 10 year later a Japanese officer and (friend of Logan), come to America to tell Wolverine Mariko has been found. Also she is the daughter of Japanese Kingpin Shingen Yashida. Shingen is forcing her to marry the criminal king of the lawless, pirate island of Madripoor. This is so Shingen can expand his criminal empire. Wolverine attacks Shingen in his fortress/home slashes his way through Shingen’s men till he reaches Shingen himself. Pretty short for a series huh, wrong Shingen is a master swordsman. He hand Wolverine probably the worst beating I have ever seen. Every one of his blows is a killing stroke the perfect representation of the of his art no unnecessary movement. The trouble is he cannot kill Logan. With his healing factor Logan simply has to take the pain and out last him till he can get a killing shot. The duel is settled with outside interference from Mariko’s fiancé who hits Logan with a drugged dart. The series is Wolverine chasing Mariko to get her back. With many road block in the way some henchmen some super powered, and in some cases a whole island against him. He picks up some allies along the way like Yuriko. Yuriko want revenge against Shingen for killing her parents. Yuriko must shop in the same place as the Black Widow. Same jumpsuit with the zipper stuck half way down. No compaints from me.

Differences from the comic, after losing to Shingen Wolverine does not go through any more training except killing a whole load of human road blocks. Yuriko acts a lot older then her comic counterpart. She is not the adrenaline junky and prefers tactics over Wolverine’s bull in a china shop approach. Mariko is the ultimate damsel in distress she does not even put up a fight or say anything in her private moments she seems have a recurring theme of “oh Logan. What have I done to you”? However the plentiful action scenes make up for all this. They also add nicely add in one of Wolverines forgotten powers. His strength obviously he is not in the same league are the Thing or even Spider-man (even though everyone seem to forget Spider-man how strong Spider-man is he could lift 10 tonnes people 15 after the other) but he is a touch above Captain America. There are any examples of this in the series, it though it was well used.

This is a great DVD and you get Wolverine doing what he does best, and surviving everything that is thrown at him.

REVIEW: MARVEL ANIME – X-MEN

 

CAST (VOICES)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Cam Clarke (He-Man 2002)
Danielle Nicolet (3rd Rock from The Sun)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
Fred Tatasciore (9)
Travis Willingham (Shelf Life)
Gwendoline Yeo (The Batman)
Troy Baker (Lego Justice League: Cosmic Clash)
Jennifer Hale (The Powerpuff Girls)
Laura Bailey (JLA Adventures)
really enjoyed this dvd. The animation is great, the story was ok. 4 out of 6 of the X-men they got spot on. They mixed a couple of classic X mythos stories together. It starts from the end of the Dark Phinex saga, and the i could tell you the other saga but that will give too much of the series away. The 4 character they got right were Wolverine, Cyclops, Beast, and Xavier. Storm and Emma Frost they made too nice (personality wise), where as in the comics both of these two are the more snooty and suppier members of the them. Yes both women look like they have has had enhancements surgery and Emma tends to display this as proudly as you can without actually revealing all, but in all fairness has Emma ever worn anything in the comics that would pass for PG? I don’t think so.there were silly little mistakes yes but I can over look them. Eg as soon as there is a new revelation it has to be explained again and again to all the characters not on the screen. Characters do get cut and bloodied in episodes but seem to heal during the credits. Also I am not quite sure what the X-men are fighting for, outside Japan mutants seem to be quite well accepted.

As I said the animation is great. The story starts from the “death” of Jean Grey. The whole team disbands to recover a year later they are needed again. Cyclops is obviously hit hardest by this and is most of the serise is based on him moving on from this tragedy, this affects his ability to lead, trust and just live. So there is some character development as well. Wolverine is perfectly just his surly rough self. Later on he even has a moment of beserker rage that they would not show in normal kid friendly show. For the sake of this serise imagin Muir Island is in Japan instead of Scotland, this is where most of the story takes place. It is even nice to see professor X contributing in the field. The only thing is they did not use many familiar X villains.

 

REVIEW: IRON MAN: RISE OF TECHNOVORE

CAST

Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead)
Matthew Mercer (Critical Role)
Eric Bauza (Ben 10)
Kate Higgins (Bleach)
James C. Mathis III (Undercover Brother)
Kari Wahlgren (The Lion Guard)
Clare Grant (Walk The Line)
Troy Baker (Ulltimate Spider-Man)
Tara Platt (Shelf Life)
John Eric Bentley (Transformers 2)

While racing in a desert with War Machine (James “Rhodey” Rhodes), Iron Man is ambushed by a mysterious new enemy who tries to destroy Tony Stark’s new security satellite, “The Howard”. War Machine is killed in the struggle and Iron Man sets out for revenge. He is intercepted by S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury who needs to talk to him. He escapes and make it over to Pepper Potts who is on vacation.

They discover that A.I.M. Advanced Idea Mechanics has been conducting research into techno organic weaponry for some time and pinpoint one of their warehouses in Karachi. S.H.I.E.L.D. locates them and Tony comes out the front to be surrounded by Mandroids. He activates his suitcase armor, destroys all the Mandroids, and heads to Karachi. The scene then cuts to a member of A.I.M. trying to sell weapons to a buyer. Punisher comes in and breaks it up. Just as Punisher is about to kill the A.I.M. member, Iron Man saves him in order to get some answers. Iron Man and Punisher then work together and discover the identity of the new enemy being Ezekiel Stane.

Hawkeye and Black Widow are given orders to retrieve Iron Man. Iron Man escapes with the help of the Punisher and continues on to Shanghai where he meets Ezekiel Stane, the son of Obadiah Stane.

Ezekiel paralyzes Iron Man with the Technovore and details his plan to replace humanity with his new technology utilizing the technology on the “Howard” satellite to hack into all computers and satellites. Hawkeye and Black Widow show up and arrest both. Later on the Helicarrier, Iron Man discovers War Machine is barely alive. Then the Technovore hacks the craft leaving Iron Man to uses his arc reactor to stabilize the Helicarrier and drive the Technovore out of the systems. Ezekiel is now betrayed by the Technovore and taken over by it causing a big fight with Iron Man resulting in the Helicarrier crashing into Shanghai. When all hope seems lost, War Machine miraculously wakes up and helps Iron Man fight the Technovore.

In a last ditch effort, Iron Man is able to use a backdoor he built into the Howard’s system to hack back into it temporarily. He is purposely captured by the Technovore and orders War Machine to fire the satellite’s defense laser at Tony’s arc reactor before the Technovore is able to use the other satellites to destroy the world. War Machine fires, and the Technovore is defeated with Iron Man seemingly sacrificing himself. Miraculously, Iron Man is saved by War Machine and lives. Ezekiel Stane is seen in the custody of S.H.I.E.L.D

For fans of anime, this is truly a visual treat. There are numerous little shout outs to other anime shows, most notably gundam. Yet like most modern anime, the visuals are about the only thing good going for it. The story makes little sense. Stark could have saved himself a lot of trouble with SHIELD if he just stopped for a bit and listened. But no. Our character of Stark is a one trick egotistical pony, dead set on having things his way. The other characters also come across as flat personalities, more typical anime fodder for fanservice than actual contributors to the story. We even have your typical angst ridden teen out to “remake the world”.

REVIEW: MARVEL ANIME – BLADE

 

CAST (VOICES)

Harold Perrineau (Lost)
JB Blanc (Breaking Bad)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Troy Baker (Lego Batman)
Johnny Yong Bosch (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)

Written by the son of the legendary Kinji Fukusaku, Kenta Fukusaku who is most well known for his work on both “Battle Royale” screenplays, chooses to resurrect Deacon Frost as the main foe for the run of the series.  While a little more ferocious in this animated offering, but the character just doesn’t feel like an adequate foe for the daywalker. English language voice actor J.B. Blanc does however turn in a much fine performance   , adding a proper air of regality to the character and is a strong contrast to Harold Perrineau’s intelligent, confident, and still powerful turn as the titular hero.

Blade like the other Marvel features, takes liberties with the characters including the back-stories, however, Blade himself outside the live-action films is safely classified as far less iconic than say Wolverine or Iron Man and the changes are less likely to stir unnecessary outrage. None of this however does much to overshadow the same issues the other series suffered from: too much happening too quickly and not enough of what’s happening being engaging. Blade as expected is pulled into a tangled conspiracy of the vampire underworld and the series follows a path of one thinly written plot development after the other, and yes, reaches the point where it tries to spice up the whole tale with a pointless Marvel cameo, Wolverine. The action including the predicable showdown between Blade and Frost might be bloody but isn’t very visceral thanks to the stylized method of animation. Ultimately, “Blade” squeaks by with just being entertaining enough to make the time spent watching his saga feel like it wasn’t a complete waste, but with the lingering feeling the story could have been so much more.