CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: BIRDS OF PREY – DEVIL’S EYES

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MAIN CAST

Ashley Scott (Into The Blue)
Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers)
Rachel Skarsten (Reign)
Shemar Moore (Criminla Minds)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Mia Sara (Lost In Oz)

he-lives

RECURRING /NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Shawn Christian (Famous In Love)
Steve Hytner (Roswell)
Rob Benedict (Waiting…)

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Long before comic book superhero TV shows were as common as they are today, the WB launched a live-action Birds of Prey TV series that lasted just thirteen episodes.

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Devil Eyes

Having discovered that Helena is Huntress, Harley Quinn uses a machine that gives her metahuman hypnotic powers. She then hypnotizes Helena and persuades her to knock Barbara unconscious and steal an access disk. Barbara recovers and uses her subneural device to enable her to stand and fight Helena, eventually neutralizing the trance. But Harley uses the disk to gain complete control of the clock tower and, after killing Wade, she broadcasts the hypnotic signal to every television set in New Gotham. Working together with Alfred, Dinah, and Reese, Helena must infiltrate the clock tower and battle Harley and her cohorts before they gain control of the entire city. It is hinted that Bruce Wayne/Batman is probably still alive, as just before the end credits, Alfred speaks to “Master Bruce” on the phone at Wayne Manor, talking about his daughter Helena and that he would be proud of her.

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This episode is probably tied with episode eight, “Shiva,” for my favourite of the series. Everything the show did a lot of things right, as it did here. I would have been down for another season of it, especially after seeing this episode. A great ending to a series tat hopefully one day will be fondly remembered

 

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CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – CHRISTMAS WITH THE JOKER

CAST
Kevin Conroy (Batman Beyond)
Loren Lester (American Pie 3)
Bob Hastings (McHale’s Navy)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Clive Revill (Freakazoid)
Mari Devon (Digimon)
It’s Christmas Eve and even the inmates of Arkham Asylum are celebrating. They sing “Jingle Bells” and set up decorations. The Joker is given the golden ornament to put on top of the Christmas Tree. However, as soon as he places it on top of the tree, a hidden rocket activates and Joker rides out to freedom. Meanwhile, back at the Batcave, Robin tries to convince Batman to kick back and relax as there’s no need for them to go out on Christmas. Batman believes otherwise since Joker has escaped. Robin makes a deal with him: if they go out on patrol and find no sign of the Joker, then they’ll return home and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Batman agrees and the duo heads out.
All seems quiet in Gotham for a change and Robin is convinced they aren’t needed. Batman is his usual self: seeing a man running after a rich woman and believing that she’s going to be robbed, he heads out after them. However, the man calls to the woman and tells her that she dropped a package a couple of blocks back and returns it to her. Robin asks to go home and Batman silently swings off. Now back at Wayne Manor, Dick and Bruce wait for dinner and turn on the TV. However, they discover that It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t on. Instead they find that Joker has hijacked the television waves and has a “Special” for Batman. Joker shows a tank with a giant Santa Claus on top crashing through the city. The show is announced to be “Christmas with the Joker”. Batman and Robin instantly work to find the Joker’s location by checking power surges and head out to find him.
Joker continues his show and shows everyone his stolen family, the Awful Lawful Family: Commissioner Gordon, Summer Gleeson, and Harvey Bullock. Joker tells Batman that he can have them if he can find them by midnight. If he fails, they will die. However, before Batman and Robin can reach him, Joker reveals “Laughy” his own Christmas Elf. Laughy and Joker explain that they will blow up a rail bridge just in time for the 11:30 train to arrive. Summer becomes agitated and explains that her mother is on that train.  Batman and Robin go to the train and while Batman goes after the engineer, Robin uncouples the passenger cars. The tasks are simple enough and they save the passengers. Afterwards, they pinpoint the source of Joker’s signal: the observatory at Mount Gotham. However, when they reach it, they find that Joker simply left a transmitter there and replaced the observatory telescope with a cannon. Batman draws the fire of the cannon while Robin runs in to disable it. Unfortunately, the outer controls are ruined and the cannon starts firing erratically at parts of Gotham.

Inside, Robin finds that there are several Joker statues with guns for hands. These statues give Robin trouble but he’s finally able to disable the cannon with an explosive. Unfortunately, they are no closer to finding Joker’s hideout and saving the hostages. Joker of course, doesn’t want to face Christmas without Batman and sends a broadcast of Summer opening a present: a Betty Blooper Doll. Batman realizes that the doll could only have come from the Laffco Toy Factory. The factory has been closed down for 14 years so it has to be Joker’s hideout. Batman and Robin make their way to the hideout and the Joker is more than ready. Joker plays the song, “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” from the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky and several giant toy nutcracker soldiers attack. In spite of their size, the soldiers are easy enough to defeat. Just then, the song switches to “the Russian Dance” and toy planes fly after the duo. Batman grabs up a baseball bat and smashes most of them while Robin catches the rest in an oil barrel. Just as the planes are finished off, machine gun toting snipers shoot at the duo. Batman races up towards a set of giant teddy bears and hides. The snipers are confused by his disappearance until they see his cape and start firing. Much to their surprise, they find that it was only a giant teddy bear they shot at. The bear falls over and pins them down.
With Joker’s men and traps down, the duo sets out to find him but he reveals himself. His hostages are dangling over a vat of molten plastic and Joker threatens to drop them in if Batman doesn’t come and get his Christmas present. Batman takes the present and opens it to discover a spring-loaded pie inside. Joker has a laugh and cuts the rope holding his hostages. Fortunately, Batman saves them and goes after Joker. Joker manages to evade him for a while but trips on a roller-skate and almost falls into the vat. Batman saves him and bids him a Merry Christmas. Joker simply says, “Bah humbug!” Later, Bruce and Dick finish watching a recording of It’s a Wonderful Life and Bruce has to admit that it “has its moments”. Meanwhile, Joker spends his Christmas alone in his cell, but seems to be in good spirits, singing and laughing.
One of the best Christmas episodes of any show made, its well plotted,  and seeing the Joker being a men ace upon Christmas is just plain awesome. This episode clearly shows just how excellent Batman: The Animated Series was. A True Classic.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: SUICIDE SQUAD

CAST

Will Smith (Men In Black)
Jared Leto (Urban Legend)
Margot Robbie (the Legend of of Tarzan)
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop)
Viola Davis (The Help)
Jai Courtney (Divergent)
Jay Hernandez (Hostel)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost)
Cara Delevingne (London Fields)
Karen Fukuhara (Stray)
Ike Barinholtz (Bad Neighbors 1 & 2)
Scott Eastwood (The Forger)
Adam Beach (Ice Soldiers)
Ben Affleck (Gone Girl)
Ezra Miller (Trainwreck)
Ted Whittall (Smallville)
David Harbour (The Green Hornet)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Jim Parrack (Fury)
James McGowan (Bitten)
Common (Wanted)
Kenneth Choi (The Terminal)
In the aftermath of Superman’s death, intelligence officer Amanda Waller assembles Task Force X, a team of dangerous criminals imprisoned at Belle Reve Prison consisting of elite hitman Deadshot, former psychiatrist Harley Quinn, pyrokinetic ex-gangster El Diablo, opportunistic thief Captain Boomerang, genetic mutation Killer Croc, and specialized assassin Slipknot. They are placed under command of Colonel Rick Flag to be used as disposable assets in high-risk missions for the United States government. Each member has a nano bomb implanted in their neck, designed to detonate should any member rebel or try to escape.

One of Waller’s intended recruits is Flag’s girlfriend Dr. June Moone, an archaeologist possessed by a witch-goddess known as the “Enchantress”. Enchantress quickly turns on Waller, deciding to eradicate humankind with a mystical weapon for imprisoning her. She besieges Midway City by transforming its populace into a horde of monsters, and summons her brother to assist her. Waller then deploys the squad to extract a high-profile mark from Midway, which is reported to be under a terrorist attack.

Harley’s homicidal lover, the Joker, finds out about her predicament and tortures Belle Reve Security Officer Griggs into leading him to the facility where the nano bombs are made. There, he blackmails one of the program’s scientists into disabling Harley’s bomb. On approach, the squad’s helicopter is shot down, forcing them to proceed on foot to their target. Boomerang inaccurately convinces Slipknot that the bombs are a ruse to keep them in check; Slipknot attempts to escape and Flag kills him via his nano bomb, while the squad is attacked by Enchantress’ minions. They eventually manage to fight their way through to a safe room, where they learn that their mark is Waller herself, who is attempting to cover up her involvement in Enchantress’ siege.

The squad escorts Waller to a rooftop for extraction, but the arriving helicopter has been hijacked by the Joker and his men, who open fire on the squad while Harley climbs aboard. However, Waller’s men shoot down the helicopter, and Harley falls out while the Joker is presumed dead, after which Harley rejoins the squad. Alerted to Waller’s whereabouts, Enchantress’ minions arrive and kidnap her. Deadshot finds Waller’s confidential files and learns the truth about Enchantress. Flag is then forced to confess the truth, causing the squad members to abandon him. With Waller compromised, Flag relieves the squad of the mission, but chooses to continue. Realizing they have an opportunity to prove themselves, they soon rejoin him and locate Enchantress at a partially-flooded subway station. Killer Croc and a group of Navy SEALs, led by Lieutenant GQ Edwards, go underwater to plant a bomb underneath her brother. El Diablo embraces his abilities and manages to distract Incubus long enough for the bomb to detonate underneath, killing them both as well as Edwards.

The remaining squad members battle Enchantress together, but are ultimately defeated. Enchantress offers to fulfill their deepest desires in exchange for their allegiance, and Harley feigns interest in order to get close enough to cut out Enchantress’s heart. Killer Croc then throws explosives into Enchantress’ weapon and Deadshot shoots them, destroying the device. Flag takes Enchantress’s heart and crushes it, finally freeing June from the curse. Waller, still alive, emerges, and the squad members are returned to Belle Reve with ten years off their sentences. All but Captain Boomerang are allowed special privileges. The Joker, alive and unscathed, breaks into the penitentiary and rescues Harley. In a mid-credits scene, Waller meets with Bruce Wayne, who agrees to protect her from the backlash of Enchantress’s rampage in exchange for access to the government’s files on the expanding metahuman community.Love this film. Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto play there parts amazingly well and the other characters in the film were brilliant too ( but i really wanted to see this film for Harley and Joker and i was not disappointed). A Great introduction for Harley Quinn to the DC Cinematic Universe, with more to come Margot Robbie will  quickly become the definition of Harley Quinn.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN: COOL, CRUEL CHRISTMAS CAPER

CAST

Olan Soule (The Towering Inferno)
Casey Kasem (Battle of The Planets)
Ted Knight (Caddyshack)
Jane Webb (Fantastic Voyage)

Mr. Freeze disguises himself as Santa Claus and steals the Diamond Star off the Gotham Christmas tree with Batman and Robin in hot pursuit.

There isn’t much to say about this as its only a very small segment, it’s a nice little episode from the 60s animated show partly instyle to the 60s Adam West Show. I grew up withFilmation cartoons so its always a highlight to rewatch some of them again.

CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW – BATMAN (1966): THE PUZZLES ARE COMING/THE DUO IS SLUMMING

CAST
Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Return to The Batcave)
Alan Napier (Mary Poppins)
Neil Hamilton (General Hospital)
Stafford Repp (My Favorite Martian)
Madge Blake (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)
GUESTS
Maurice Evans (Planet of the Apes)
Barbara Stuart (Airplane!)

The Puzzles Are Coming :

Batman and Robin deduce that a backwards puzzle sent by the urbane Puzzler in a toy plane through Commissioner Gordon’s window is a reference to Artemus Knab, a multi billionaire staying at the Gotham Arms hotel. Solving the puzzle, The Caped Crusaders concludes The Puzzler is after Knab and rush to his penthouse apartment. Knab rebuffs The Dynamic Duo, claiming to be working on a legit deal with The Puzzler for a puzzle balloon business.
Returning to The Batcave with a sample puzzle balloon, the Dynamic Duo learn the Puzzler and his gang plan to strip Knab and his guests of all their jewels at the christening of The Retsoor, the multi billionaire’s supersonic plane. Sadly, Batman and Robin arrive too late as the Puzzler and his men have already immobilized the guests with Puzzle Gas and have stolen their jewels. After throwing the gas at The Dynamic Duo, they make a break for it. Recovering from the Puzzler’s gas, Batman and Robin find another puzzle balloon left in The Puzzler’s wake. They follow the balloon’s clue to The Puzzler’s hideout at The Balloon Factory where they are overpowered by Blimpy, Glider and Ramjet and gassed. They regain consciousness to find themselves strapped into the basket of a hot-air balloon that is rigged to send them skyward and then plummeting to their doom once it reaches 20,000 feet!

The Duo is Slumming:


Robin deactivates the hot-air balloon’s altimeter with a piece of chewing gum that was dropped in the basket by one of Puzzler’s men just scant seconds before it manages to reach 20,000 feet. Utilizing a bird call, The Boy Wonder then attracts an elusive and high flying giant red-eyed hermit nuthatch bird migrating south for the winter. The bird pecks a hole in the balloon, allowing it to descend safely to earth next to an emergency public telephone booth.
The Dynamic Duo returns to The Puzzler’s factory where Puzzler distracts them long enough for himself and his cronies to scram. Puzzler continues his quest to seize Knab’s supersonic plane, the Retsoor, sending his sexy moll Rocket to drug Knab’s tea while Puzzler himself photographs the secret plans for the hi-tech jet. The Caped Crusaders are alerted to The Puzzler’s new target by way of a rooster sent to Gordon’s office. Batman and Robin speed to the Retsoor’s hangar, have a tense Batbattle where the entire gang is captured and the theft of the Retsoor prevented. Bruce and Dick end by having fun with Puzzler’s puzzle baloons with Harriet and Alfred.
60’s Batman will always be a classic. The Riddler would of appeared in the episodes but because Frank Gorshin was holding out for money they replaced his character with the Puzzler, who evidentially is mostly a Superman villain. Maurice Evans plays the character perfectly. The two episodes are well plotted and well played by all actors, the Santa cameo is fun too.

REVIEW: BATMAN VS. TWO-FACE

CAST (VOICES)

Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Futurama)
William Shatner (Star Trek: TOS)
Julie Newmar (Return To The Batcave)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Jim Ward (Ultimate Avengers)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)
Lynne Marie Stewart (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure)
Jeff Bergman (The Cleveland Show)
Wally Wingert (The Ant Bully)
William Salyers (Pandora’s Clock)
Sirena Irwin (Justice League: Throne of Atlantis)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Lee Meriwether (The Munsters Today)

Batman and Robin are invited to a top-secret demonstration hosted by Professor Hugo Strange and his assistant Dr. Harleen Quinzel, that may eventually change the future of Gotham forever. Along the way, Batman takes a stop at Gotham State Penitentiary to visit Catwoman (whose suicide attempt from the first movie somehow failed) to give her a book on poetry by Elizabeth Barret Browning; something to keep her occupied for the next 36 months of her life until she is let out of prison for good. At the laboratory, they meet district attorney and Bruce Wayne’s ally in the war against crime, Harvey Dent, who is famous for having stopped a coin counterfeit, keeping a two faced quarter as a souvenir from the case.Batman-vs-Two-Face-previewHugo Strange believes that good and evil are all but one-sided and has created an “Evil Extractor” to which the volunteering criminals, Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Egghead and Mr. Freeze, will be purified of their corruption. Batman bluffs it off, saying that there are no easy fixes to the straight and narrow path, but Strange conducts his experiment anyway, despite the fact that it will make the jobs of Batman, Robin and Harvey obsolete. All goes well until the Joker entices his compadres to overload the machine. Noticing this, Professor Strange orders Dr. Quinzel to shut it down…but is too late, and Harvey (as opposed to acid from the comic book mythos) is horribly scarred by the explosion of the containment vat, with Batman being successful in saving the right side of his face.2Harvey, now re-christened Two Face, goes on a crime spree as seen in the opening credits, all of which his attempts are foiled by the Dynamic Duo. He is eventually whisked to a hospital where his face has been given reconstructive surgery. His sanity has apparently been restored as well. Now returning to his old job (as the assistant to the assistant district attorney), Harvey spends the next six months in charge of his own fate, but at the same time, King Tut and his henchmen have been robbing an biplane while at Wayne Manor, Aunt Harriet is getting ready for a soiree in Bruce and Dick’s place while they investigate the crime as Batman and Robin. After implying comparisons between King Tut and Two Face, Batman and Robin return to the Batcave where they realize that a double decker bus company are planning to hold the millionaires, including Alfred and Aunt Harriet, hostage. They arrive on the bus via Batmobile and fight Tut and the Tutlings while Alfred escorts the patrons to safety. Unfortunately, the Dynamic Duo are subdued by a pair of twin snakes with knockout venom.4In an urn trap as seen in King Tut’s debut episode, Batman and Robin are to be entombed in the foundations of the Pyramid Towers that are soon to be erected above the digging spot where they are trapped. Cement pours over them and when it appears as though they are doomed, they press the back of their soles against the sides of the jars, triggering the Batjets. They fly to confront King Tut in one final battle and a brick restores his memory. As they take him away, a pair of twins seize the jewels that were stolen by the Tutlings. Batman, Robin, Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara interrogate King Tut as Harvey waits in the shadows, with O’Hara constantly hitting Tut on the head with his baton. Lucille Diamond, the king’s defendant, intervenes and ushers them out of the room so that she can speak to him. At Tut’s trial, she implicates that the concussion is nothing more than a threat to a mild-mannered man. Chief O’Hara tearfully confesses to hitting Tut and Harvey calls Batman as his next witness, but Professor Mackel Roy himself admits his guilt, ready to suffer the minimum penalty of being rehabilitated in prison. After the sentencing, Harvey shares a highball with Bruce Wayne, much to Dick’s annoyance at bearing the hardships of a third wheel.3Harvey is then due to a attend a charity for underprivileged twins at the Winning Pair casino just as Bruce and Dick resume their identities as Batman and Robin once more. A package has arrived at Commissioner Gordon’s office, a World Atlas book marked for Batman…with its pages eaten away in three holes. Robin surmises the culprit to be Bookworm and the duo race off in the Batmobile to find him at the Gotham City Library where a fight ensues and the three priceless books that Bookworm had his eyes on have disappeared. Batman and Robin deduce that the stolen books were all about duality, but Two Face has already been reformed and try to find another way behind it. Regardless, they head to an abandoned sign factory with Two Face and the twins waiting for them. After defeating the twins, Two Face pins them with a large number two and the flip of his coin landing on the right side spares their lives. Once they have left, Batman believes that Harvey has made a lot of enemies in his career and they are all out to destroy it. Harvey, meanwhile is having some problems of his own after he makes a phone call to… Two Face, who kidnaps Professor Strange as part of their scheme.004a2326Robin is punished to his room by Batman after nearly getting into a row about Harvey’s involvement in Two Face’s plans and Catwoman, who by now has been stood up, escapes the pen by switching places with Lucilee Diamond. Following Harvey to the laboratory, Robin is ambushed by Two Face and Professor Strange corrupts him with the same gas of the extractor that mutates the left side of his body. Batman is forced to fight his beloved sidekick and cures him back at the Batcave, following Two Face to the casino where he is in fact revealed to be Dent, having suppressed his bad side (á la Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). Once the Dynamic Duo are strapped to a large silver dollar, he unmasks Batman and deduces Robin’s true identity, then Two Face invites the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Egghead, Shame, Clock King and Catwoman to an auction for the highest bidder of Batman’s true identity. With Catwoman’s help, Batman and Robin defeat the villains, but Two Face gets away on the biplane stolen by King Tut, intending to use the evil gas to remake Gotham City in his image. The Dynamic Duo manage to shoot him down towards a flaming factory where Batman goes one on one with Two Face having completely taking over Harvey’s body. In a battle of wits, Batman urges Harvey to regain self control and he does, defeating Two Face for good as they escape the factory.batman-vs-two-face-trailerThe next morning, Batman and Robin use the Batwing to cure the infected Gothamites and return that night to Wayne Manor where Harvey holds an auction for a bachelor party. Batman appears before everyone, and to his delight, ends up having the first person to bid for him being none other than Catwoman. In the post credits there is a memoriam for Adam West, who portrayed Batman. It also stated “Rest Well, Bright Knight”.1In the hearts of some, maybe even all, Batman fans, Adam West will always hold a cherished place. Batman Vs. Two-Face doesn’t satirize like its predecessor, but fully embraces the original series’ campiness, with one concession: the inclusion of a villain considered too dark and gritty for the series at the time. According to legend, Clint Eastwood was all set to take on the role of Two-Face before studio execs thought he’d scare off young viewers and put the kibosh on it. Always leave ’em wanting more. It’s sad for me to think of what might have been. If only someone had the brilliant idea of bringing Adam West and Burt Ward in to revisit the classic series in animated form earlier, we may have been able to witness the two squaring off against Poison Ivy or Scarecrow or Harley Quinn. But, as it is, this is as good of a send off as our Bright Knight could ever have asked for.

REVIEW: BATMAN: RETURN OF THE CAPED CRUSADERS

CAST (VOICES)

Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Return To The Batcave)
Julie Newmar (Star Trek)
Jeff Bergman (Gremlins 2)
Wally Wingert (American Dad)
William Salyers (Judging Amy)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Jim Ward (Ben 10)
Thomas Lennon (balls of Fury)

The official plot synopsis reads as follows, “It’s back to the 1960s as Batman and Robin spring into action when Gotham City is threatened by a quartet of Batman’s most fiendish foes – Penguin, The Joker, Riddler and Catwoman. This time, the four super-villains have combined their wicked talents to hatch a plot so nefarious that the Dynamic Duo will need to go to outer space (and back) to foil their arch enemies and restore order in Gotham City.

What a dose of Nostalgia. The opening credits incorporated many classic comic book covers with some fantastic animation. I could not stop watching. Fascinating, funny, festive, friendly, and very alliterative, the actors, writers, and animators knocked this out of the park.

I was thoroughly amused throughout. None of the dozens of punchlines are particularly surprising, but they are all fun, and many of them require the set-up, animation, and acting to be meaningful.

The movie does get a bit dark. In one particular scene, Robin is horrified by a punch that doesn’t follow Marquess of Queensberry rules. Robin’s reaction to that punch and subsequent actions keep the movie grounded and friendly. I have to give special acclaim for Burt Ward, here — his exuberance and delivery hasn’t changed an iota.

Does the movie get some things wrong? Like the Joker’s hidden mustache? Yes and perhaps. There are dozens of things that are not quite like the 60’s show, and hundreds of things that are spot-on perfect. I don’t recall hearing the Riddler’s music cue, but the Batman theme is incorporated well in many places. The producers have already mention that some of the “mistakes” are intentional, such as the colors of Robin’s logo being flipped in a throwaway shot, an homage to mistakes in previous animations. I will be watching this many times.

The sequel has already been announced, with William Shatner as Two- Face.This is the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen in years. Highly recommended.