REVIEW: BATMAN: BAD BLOOD

CAST

Jason O’Mara (Resident Evil: Extinction)
Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck)
Stuart Allan (Son of Batman)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Gaius Charles(Salt)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
James Garrett (Titanic)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Rebels)
Bruce Thomas(Legally Blonde)

Batwoman intercepts a group of criminals in Gotham that include Electrocutioner, Blockbuster, Firefly, Killer Moth, and others. When a fight ensues, Batman soon arrives. They are confronted by the apparent leader of the criminals, a man called the Heretic, who reminds Batman of his vision of Damian Wayne as Batman. Heretic detonates explosives planted within the facility. Batman flings Batwoman to safety and apparently perishes in the explosion.

Weeks pass. Both Batman and Bruce Wayne’s disappearances have not gone unnoticed – Alfred Pennyworth takes up the guise of Wayne in electronic communications using gadgets in the Batcave to maintain appearances, while sending out a distress signal to Dick Grayson. Meanwhile, Damian Wayne watches a news report of Batman’s disappearance and sets out to return to Gotham. Katherine Kane meets with her father Colonel Jacob Kane revealing she feels responsible for Batman’s apparent death and asks his help to track down Heretic. It is revealed that she was traumatized when she, her sister Elizabeth and her mother Gabrielle were abducted and held for ransom, although she was the only one not killed by her captors before her father rescued her. After her time in the military, she became a drunkard who was saved by Batman, the appearance of whom motivated her to never need to be saved again, resulting in her becoming Batwoman.

At the same time, Batman, wearing a different Bat emblem, apparently resurfaces and is quickly noticed by Robin and Katherine Kane. Both of them intercept Batman and quickly deduce that it is Grayson wearing an old version of the Batsuit. They begin their own investigations into the Heretic, unconvinced that Bruce is truly dead. Soon the Heretic and his henchmen attack Wayne Enterprises, forcing Lucius Fox to open the way into the vault by threatening his son Luke Fox, a soldier recently returned from Afghanistan. Though Grayson and Damian quickly arrive, they are unable to prevent the Heretic from escaping with Wayne technology, and Lucius Fox is non-fatally stabbed. Before they leave, Heretic kills Electrocutioner when he is about to kill Robin.

Heretic returns to his headquarters where it is revealed that he is working for Talia al Ghul. They have Bruce Wayne captured and Mad Hatter is slowly brainwashing him with a machine projecting laser like beams into his eyes and brain causing him to experience nightmarish visions of his parents and friends as well as several bats attacking him. Mad Hatter claims Bruce’s memories and experience, as well as his mental and emotional trauma, is causing the mind-controlling process to take longer on him than normal. The Heretic, apparently obsessed with Damian Wayne, then breaks into the Batcave and kidnaps Damian. Heretic explains that he is a clone of Damian, created by a genetics program created by Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins, using Damian’s DNA to genetically engineer a perfect soldier with accelerated growth and development, but he was the only subject of the program to survive with Mad Hatter giving him an actual mind and consciousness. Due to his feeling of not being a real person, he wishes to have Damian’s memories and personality implanted within his own brain with the mind programming machine being used on Bruce, but Talia arrives and then shoots Heretic dead for his disobeying her orders to leave Damian out of the conflict. Grayson and Batwoman then arrive, having located Damian through a tracker in his costume. They are quickly joined by Luke Fox, clad in an advanced combat exosuit and styling himself as Batwing. The three rescue Bruce and Damian, but Talia and her henchmen escape.

Weeks pass and Bruce seems to have recovered from the ordeal, though he remains adamant that Katherine and Luke not be involved, insisting that their heroics remain within the “family”. Meanwhile, Katherine is suddenly attacked by her father. After disabling him, she discovers he had been brainwashed. She brings this to the attention of Grayson, Damian, and Luke. Dick immediately concludes that Bruce is still under the effects of Mad Hatter’s mind control, though Damian is unconvinced. Luke reveals that the League of Assassins are planning to brainwash a number of world leaders at a tech summit held by Bruce Wayne with the use of advanced earpieces being distributed to the attendees. As the brainwashing is taking place, Nightwing, Robin, Batwoman, Alfred, and Batwing arrive and fight Talia and her henchmen. During the fight, Mad Hatter is killed, thus stopping the mind control from undergoing to completion. Bruce, under the effects of the brainwashing, is made to fight Nightwing and defeats him. Talia then orders him to shoot Grayson and Damian dead, but Bruce, with the help of Grayson’s pleas, resists the effects of the mind control and disobeys her. Incensed, Talia escapes into her auto pilot vessel only to be met by Onyx, a member of Heretic’s team who attempts to murder her in revenge for the ruthless death of Heretic, causing the vessel to crash, resulting in both her and the latter’s death. The “Bat family” then returns to the Batcave to plan their next move. Nightwing explains that none of the Mad Hatter’s programming can function without his being around to activate it.The Bat skylight shines in Gotham City where Batwoman, Nightwing, and Batwing assemble to meet Batman and Robin on top of the police station where they see Penguin escaping cops by car. Batwoman and Batwing fly down, as Batman, Robin and Nightwing fire their grappling guns. On a nearby building, Batgirl observes the group launch their chase and fires her own grappling gun to join the pursuit.

This film has it all, really solid writing and voice acting. Nice to see Batwoman make it into these animated movies.

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REVIEW: BATMAN: MYSTERY OF THE BATWOMAN

CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series)
Kimberly Brooks (Justice Legaue: War)
Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith)
Elisa Gabrielli (South Park)
Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys, A Girl and a PIzza Place)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Eli Marienthal (American Pie)
Tara Strong (Teen Titans)
Bob Hastings (Wonder Woman)
Robert Costanzo (Die Hard 2)

A new heroine has arrived in Gotham whose identity is a mystery—even to Batman. During patrol, the Dynamic Duo spots her trying to stop one of Penguin’s shipments on Gotham’s interstate, using a plasma rifle to send the Penguin’s truck with its driver off the bridge. Batman and Robin save the driver from falling to his death. Batman must figure out who Batwoman is and stop familiar enemies, the Penguin and Rupert Thorne, from selling illegal weapons to the fictional nation of Kasnia. The two employ Carlton Duquesne, a gangster, to provide protection.

Batwoman’s main focus is on illegal activity by the Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne. Despite taking the symbol of the Bat as a sign of justice, Batwoman sullies the Bat prefix by taking out criminals with ruthless and dangerous techniques. She seems uninterested in sparing the lives of her adversaries.

Batman, with Robin, sets out to stop the Batwoman from making mistakes as she tries to take out the villains, and as he encounters numerous twists, setbacks, and apparent false leads in determining her true identity. The newest gadget on display is a wind glider used by Batwoman that utilizes some of the most advanced technology ever seen in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego, also becomes involved with a new lady in his life: Kathy Duquesne, the crime boss’s daughter.

In addition to Kathy Duquesne, Bruce is introduced to two other women who, as his investigation into the Batwoman’s true identity continues, seem to fall well into suspicion: Dr. Roxanne “Rocky” Ballantine, a new employee of Wayne Tech whose technology development is used by the Batwoman against the Penguin; and Detective Bullock’s new partner Sonia Alcana, whose knowledge of the weapons being smuggled by the Penguin and Carlton Dunquesne is much greater than the detective should know. With Carlton Duquesne unable to stop Batwoman’s raids on the facilities used to hold the various weapons, the Penguin calls Bane for additional support to ensure that there are no more losses as a result of the Batwoman.

Not long after Bane’s arrival in Gotham, it is revealed that there is not one but three Batwomen, all of whom were the women suspected by Batman; Kathy and Sonia met taking art classes at college and Sonia and Rocky were roommates. They had taken turns to remove suspicion on any one of the three, while using Roxanne’s technological genius and contempt for the Penguin (who had framed her long-time fiancé Kevin), Kathy’s money and access to several key aspects of her father’s organization (Kathy wants to end her father’s criminal career as it led to her mother being killed), and Sonia’s physical and police skills to ensure that Thorne’s operation is thwarted (as the crime lord previously left her family in financial ruin after arsonists who worked for him burned down her parents’ shop and were not punished due to the lack of sufficient evidence). Alcana was also saved by Batman nine years prior, the event giving the detective the original inspiration for the costumed identity she now shares with her friends.

In the final confrontation, a ship taking the weapons into international waters for the exchange is destroyed by a bomb planted by Kathy. But not before she is unmasked by Bane. Kathy and Batman narrowly escape the explosion despite the efforts of Bane, who falls into the Gotham River and vanishes. At the conclusion, the GCPD are left to assume that Sonia is the only Batwoman after she helps rescue Batman from the ship. Sonia resigns from the police due to the potential problems her presence could cause and decides to leave the city. Batman gives Sonia evidence he discovered which helps clear Rocky’s fiancé. Carlton agrees to testify against Thorne and the Penguin after saving Kathy’s life during the ship’s destruction. After she reconciles with her father, Kathy drives off with Bruce.

This is a wonderful video that should keep young and old Batman fans happy, a fresh story featuring characters who’ve not appeared in a feature length adventre before. The voices are all spot on, and I like the young Robin, Tim Drake, he adds a little light relief at times. Looks wise everything is as it should be. The women all look beautiful, and the city is as atmospheric as ever. This was a really entertaining film which had an excellent twist which keeps you guessing for some time, and will probably keep younger viewers in even more suspense. I was also impressed by how grown up some of the themes in the film were, WB definitely know how to keep the grown ups happy too. If you liked any of the previous Batman Animated releases I recommend this.

 

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)
Image result for batman the brave and the bold logo
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.