REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE – SEASON 1

Main Cast

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
George Newbern (Law & Order: SVU)
Susan Eisenberg (Lego aquaman)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)

JL_line-up

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Gary Cole (Fam)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Susan Sullivan (Castle)
Corey Burton (Transformers)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Kurtwood Smith (Robocop)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Garrett Morris (2 Broke Girls)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Scott Rummell (Six)
Kristin Bauer van Straten (50 First Dates)
Xander Berkeley (Terminator 2)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Eric Roberts (The Finder)
William Smith (Laredo)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girls)
Cathy Cavadini (THe Powerpuff Girls)
Bill Duke (Black Lightning)
Virginia Madsen (Better Watch Out)
Keone Young (Crank)
Powers Boothe (Sin City)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Stephen McHattie (300)
David Naughton (The Gathering)
Stephen Root (Barry)
Ted McGinley (No Good Nick)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
Udo Kier (Iron Sky)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
William Katt (Carrie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Sheryl Lee Ralph (Moesha)
Grant Heslov (THe Scorpion King)
Michael T. Weiss (The Pretender)
Pam Grier (Jackie Brown)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
Dave Thomas (Coneheads)
Cam Clarke (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Michael Bell (Transformers: The Movie)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Tom Sizemore (Red Planet)
Patrick Duffy (Dallas)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)

secret-origins-pan-01They’re the rockstars of the DC universe and they’re a heck of a lot of fun to be around. Giant robot rampaging through the city and Superman alone can’t stop it? Insidious villain plotting to invade the world with an army of zombies and the task is too much for Wonder Woman? Puzzling crime-spree that Batman can’t – er, wait. Strike that last one. Given enough time, Batman can do just about anything. Even so, when the world is in dire need of saving, it’s a job for the Justice League. MV5BMDMyN2UzOWQtZjg4OS00MmFiLTk0MzItNTlkZTk3NTRjZWRmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_This series is the culmination of nearly ten years of animation continuity headed up by animation producer Bruce Timm and friends. It’s very rare for a consistent creative team to play around in what is essentially the same sandbox for so long. From the writers to the directors to the voice actors – Kevin Conroy has been voicing Batman for over ten years now – Justice League is the spiritual conclusion to the DC animated universe that Batman: The Animated Series helped kick off way back in 1992.MV5BM2Y5M2JmYTEtNWRiMy00OTgwLTkwOGMtMzI2ZWIxZmM3ODAwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_The creative team has taken everything they’ve learned in their previous shows (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond) and brought it to the next level. Justice League features seven main heroes and a host of villains. If that wasn’t enough, in its later seasons the series would expand its roster to include virtually the entire DC comic book universe. MV5BOTUyYzZlMDUtOTk2ZC00NGQxLTkxNzMtZmVmMjNjNWNhNGYzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Obviously, since the show features the world’s greatest superheroes, you’ve got to come up with some pretty challenging foes for them to face. At the same time you’ve got to ensure that the characters maintain unique personas and don’t step over each other’s ground. This is not an easy task, especially when confined to the constraints of a kids’ show. The greatest weakness of the first season is the show’s inability to keep its characters distinct and interesting at the same time. Sure, it’s easy making Batman cool – and it never gets old – but its somewhat more difficult peeling the other characters apart. For example, Superman and Hawkgirl seem to be identical characters in terms of functionality. They both fly, are very strong, and can tear things apart. The only difference is that Hawkgirl uses a mace.MV5BMTYzMjA5NzEyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTEwOTM2MjE@._V1_The best way to keep characters with overlapping powers interesting is to develop them as individuals. Sadly, the show’s first season seems more interested in flashy action than character development. Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and J’onn J’onzz get some great moments, but The Flash, Superman, and Hawkgirl are left out in the cold. My personal pet peeve this season is that Superman gets dumbed down to the point of uselessness. Bruce Timm admits in the extras that they thought having Superman get beaten up so often would make their villains look even scarier. After all, if something can take down Superman it’s got to be tough. However, after a while Superman gets beat up so often that the “Super” is sapped out of him. If you see anything electrical it’s a guarantee that it will shock ol’ Supes and put him out of action. If you’re willing to forgive a few missteps (I certainly was) then you’ve got a real treat in store for yourself.MV5BODQ1Nzk0OGQtYWNmYy00N2M0LWFmYTgtZjA4MDhjYmVjNjUzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_In a wise move by the show’s producers, the first season (along with the second) is divided into a series of two-part episodes. This gives the show forty-four minute episodes in which to tell more complicated stories than would be possible in the standard twenty-two minutes. The result is a four disc set packed with high-flying superhero fun. From Injustice For All, where our heroes battle an evil society headed-up by a terminally diagnosed Lex Luthor, to The Enemy Below, where the League team up with Aquaman, this entire boxed set is full of great action and enjoyable comic book storytelling.MV5BYjQ4NmY2NzEtMTM1Yi00YzY2LWEyMjItZjlkODE3M2E1N2JmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_If you’re willing to forgive some unbalanced character development then you’ll have a great time with this first season. Justice League is a very entertaining show that any fan of superhero animation should not be without. These guys were the world’s first superhero team and they set the template for everyone that came after. They were the best then, and thanks to this show, they’re the still the best today.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 2

Starring

Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives)
David Kaufman (Stargate SG.1)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)

MV5BMjExODczNDUzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDEzNzU2MjE@._V1_

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Lisa Edelstein (House)
Robert Ito (Midway)
Robert Hays (Airplane!)
Jonathan Harris (Lost In Space)
Gilbert Gottfried (Critters: A New Binge)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Sandra Bernhard (Hudson Hawk)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange)
George Dzundza (The Deer Hunter)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Joseph Bologna (Big Daddy)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Jim Meskimen (The Punisher)
Victor Brandt (Neon Maniacs)
Joanna Cassidy (Six Feet Under)
Brad Garrett (Tangled)
Dean Jones (Beethoven)
Mae Whitman (Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Aria Noelle Curzon (The Muppets)
Michael Horse (Roswell)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Bruce Weitz (Half Past Dead)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Robert Morse (Mad Men)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Bob Hastings (The Poseidon Adventure)
Robert Costanzo (Die Hard 2)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Jennifer Lien (Star Trek: Voyager)
George DelHoyo (Rango)
Cree Summer (Voltron)
Dorian Harewood (Full Metal Jacket)
Cam Clarke (Akira)
Joely Fisher (The Mask)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)

MV5BMTQ5Mzg4MDE4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjUzNzU2MjE@._V1_Having written about virtually every Superman TV show released on DVD, I can say with more than a little certainty that the episodes found on The Animated Series – Volume 2 are some of the best Superman stories ever committed to film. Ever. You get it all – the whizzes, the bangs, the imaginative storytelling. After all, any show that has as much fun with Mr. Mxypltk as this one does deserves, in the parlance, “mad props;” seeing that fifth-dimensional imp cry “McGurk!” is both hilarious and classic at the same time.MV5BOTViZjU0MDAtYzJkYy00ZGVmLTg0ZGYtZjc1N2FjMzlhMDZiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_I went into this set expecting to like it, but not this much. Sure, I’ve always enjoyed the show – the first boxed set was good fun – but I don’t ever recall it being this entertaining. I mean, everyone knows that this series pales in comparison to its predecessor, Batman: The Animated Series, but I think these eighteen episodes prove that Superman: TAS can be just as excellent.MV5BMTQ2MzA4NzQyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjgyNzU2MjE@._V1_What’s perfect about these episodes is the balance the writers and animators strike between ol’ Supes being perfectly impervious to physical harm and yet imminently vulnerable to real and very human emotional frailty. Superman always suffers complaints that he’s plain too invulnerable – there’s nothing interesting to do with a character who can shrug off meteors like they were dandelions. But rather than offering yet another series of action set pieces or a collection of purely existential crises, this show gets it right, balancing the man with the super in a serendipitous combination that reminds audiences why he’s such an enduring and beloved character.MV5BMTkzNWJhNzMtMDdiNC00Y2NlLTk2MzEtMDQ3NWZmMmY1MjY4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Take for example the Metallo episode “Action Figures,” in which the partly-human T-1000 finally emerges from his long walk across the bottom of the Ocean (where Superman sank him last season), having lost his memory. He arrives on an island that is being used as a volcanic research station where he makes friends with two little kids who are at first frightened of him, but quickly come to adopt him as a pet, or perhaps their own personal superhero.MV5BMTgwNjMxOTgxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTQzNzU2MjE@._V1_Of course, the villain slowly regains his memory and reveals himself to be anything but a hero. Hearing reports of a robotic creature on the island, Clark Kent comes to investigate and quickly learns that his suspicions are confirmed: Metallo has returned. Naturally, the two duke it out, but not just in any old way; during the course of their fight the volcano on the island erupts, forcing Superman to save the civilians and battle the villain simultaneously. I’m sure that having one’s head dunked in flowing lava is painful, even for Superman. This episode is a great example of the balance between action, meaningful storytelling, and plain old cartoon fun.mxyzpixilatedMxyzpixilated is probably my favorite episode out of the bunch. It features the introduction of one of Superman’s goofiest (and funniest) villains, a fifth-dimension sorcerer imp named Mr. Mxyzptlk (Mix-Yez-Spit-Lick) who can only come to our dimension every ninety days. He makes a deal with Superman: if Supes can get him to say his own name, he’ll return to where he came from until the next inter-dimensional window is open, three months later. Of course, Superman finds creative ways to foil the little gnome every time.superman-animated-bannerOne of the episode’s gags had me laughing out loud. Frustrated with his failure, Mxyzptlk is seen in his home, over the three month period, constructing a massive robot battle-suit. A good three minutes is devoted to an amusing montage of him putting the thing together. Finally the moment of truth arrives: he jumps in the suit and teleports to Metropolis, ready to destroy Superman. However, we don’t follow him – the camera stays in his room. Five seconds later he teleports back, stomping around in the suit, obviously foiled again, “NUTS NUTS NUTS!” You’re led to believe the whole thing will lead to a massive Superman/Giant Robot showdown, and the episode (written by the excellent Paul Dini) has a great time undercutting the situation for humorous effect.maxresdefaultBrave New Metropolis gives us an alternate world where Lois dies and Superman becomes a fascist. Monkey Fun is essentially Superman versus King Kong. Ghost in the Machine sees the return of Brainiac. And World’s Finest is the excellent three-episode “movie” that sees Batman team up with Supes to take down the villainous duo of Lex Luthor and the Joker. These are all great Superman stories, making good use of the character’s strengths and smoothing over his weaknesses. The ratio of killer-to-filler episodes in this box is very high (in the good sense) and is easily equal to Batman’s best run. I went into this set expecting to have a good time, and I’m delighted to report that my expectations were off. I had a great time.

 

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 1

Starring

Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives)
David Kaufman (Stargate SG.1)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)

MV5BMjExMzc3NDE1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDMzNzU2MjE@._V1_

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tony Jay (Beauty and The Best)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Christopher McDonald (Stargate Universe)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Finola Hughes (Staying Alive)
Corey Burton (Transformers: The Movie)
Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
George Dzundza (The Deer Hunter)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Dorian Harewood (Terminator: TSCC)
Brad Garrett (Christopher Robin)
Bruce Weitz (Half Past Dead)
John Rubinstein (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Thomas F. Wilson (Legends of Tomorrow)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Neil Ross (An American Tail)
Townsend Coleman (Teenage Mutnat Ninja Turtles)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Joely Fisher (The Mask)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Joseph Bologna (Big Daddy)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Brian Cox (Rise of TPOTA)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Ron Glass (Serenity)
Leslie Easterbrook (Police Academy)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Marion Ross (Happy Days)
Charlie Schlatter (18 Again)
Cam Clarke (Akira)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)

MV5BNDk2NGU3NzMtMzc2NS00ZTg4LTgzMjctNjFlNGE3MjVlN2I5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_
Superman is not Batman. Luckily this show understands that. He doesn’t hide in the shadows or do most of his work at night or spend a lot of time “planning.” Instead of deflecting a laser beam, he’ll just punch it into submission. Think, for a second, of what it takes to punch a laser beam into submission. He’s not, and never has been, a complicated hero. Any fan can tell you this: just because Superman lives in a bright world and just because he is a “pure” character, it does not make him any less cool. I feel the need to get that out of the way right off. It just seems that too many people aren’t as fond of ol’ Big Blue as they are of Batman. The number one complaint is that Superman is just too perfect; there isn’t anything interesting that can be done with him.MV5BYjNmYjc0MGQtNWVlYS00MWEzLWE1NjQtMjcyYjc3OTBmOGQ0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTM5MTQyNDg@._V1_In many ways, that is very true. Yes, it is difficult coming up with interesting ways to test a guy who can whack ballistic missiles into orbit, but that is not an inherent character weakness. Rather, it is a challenge of taking on the character. Under the right creator, or creators as the case may be, Superman is more than ready to soar… and then punch some laser beams. And what better creative team can you get than Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, and Bruce Timm? The same superstar team that made Batman: The Animated Series one of the best and most defining shows in the history of American cartoon television. With such a fantastic group, and such a well-known character, expectations are bound to be high, and you can’t help but feel a bit let down when the show isn’t as good as Batman: TAS. However, while Superman: The Animated Series isn’t as excellent as its predecessor show, it’s still one very enjoyable and very fun cartoon.MV5BMTcxMDExMTI5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTkyNzU2MjE@._V1_Whereas for the Batman cartoon the producers were going for a gritty feel, here things are big, colorful, and imaginative. Superman fights robots, aliens and sci-fi monsters. And just as you’d expect, that dastardly Lex Luthor is usually at the root of the problem. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Superman isn’t supposed to be conflicted and his villains aren’t supposed to be psychopaths. With the Man of Steel, it’s all about fighting for what’s right. And then punching the occasional laser beam, when it gets out of line. One of the best things about the show is its use of the Superman lore. Over the course of the series you’ll see many of the characters from character’s comic book history. If you’re meeting them for the first time, you’ll probably find them interesting, but if you’re already familiar with them then you’ve got a lot of opportunities to geek out.MV5BNTVlYWUzOTctZTNiYy00NjI0LTkzZjktMzE0NmRkMWM1NDcyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTM3MDMyMDQ@._V1_The creative team did take some liberties with the origins of certain characters, but none of the changes are overly intrusive or unwelcome. Furthermore when they get a character right, they really nail it. For example their take on Metallo, who realizes he traded immortality for the ability to feel, is great stuff. Perhaps their most difficult task was getting Lex Luthor right. Luckily for us, they pulled it off. This Lex is a perfect mix of ambitious businessman and cunning strategist. He isn’t flat out evil, but he is bad and watching the character get what he deserves is fun. The Lois Lane character is also great, a perfect mix of sexy, competitive, and charming. Much like the Batman collections, Superman: TAS isn’t grouped by season since they were all so unevenly produced. That being said, I do hope that we get the rest of the boxed sets in installments of more than eighteen episodes.MV5BMTQ5Mjk0NjQyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTUyNzU2MjE@._V1_While it’s not as serious or as artistic as its predecessor, Superman: TAS is still full of high-flying fun, adventure, and excitement. Whether you’re a fan of animation or just a fan of the character, this show comes recommended. It holds a proud position in the wonderful Warner superhero animated era that we’re currently enjoying.

 

 

REVIEW: HEROES – SEASON 3

Starring

Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)
Adrian Pasdar (Supergirl)
Jack Coleman (Spawn)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)
Hayden Panettiere (Nashville)
James Kyson Lee (Sleepy Hollow)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Ali Larter (Final Destination)
Dania Ramirez (Mojave)

Sendhil Ramamurthy in Heroes (2006)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Brea Grant (Halloween II)
Ashley Crow (Minority Report)
Željko Ivanek (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Jamie Hector (All Eyez on Me)
Ntare Mwine (Treme)
Blake Shields (The Hollow)
Robert Forster (Automata)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Lost)
Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Randall Bentley (Upside)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange)
Alan Blumenfeld (Pathology)
George Takei (Star Trek: TOS)
Dan Byrd (28 Days)
Francis Capra (Veronica Mars)
Noah Gray-Cabey (My Wofe and Kids)
Demetrius Grosse (The Rookie)
Lisa Lackey (Planet of The Apes)
Eric Roberts (The Finder)
Adair Tishler (Dollhouse)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Bruce Boxleitner (Supergirl)
Loren Lester (Red Eye)
Jessalyn Gilsig (Nip/Tuck)
David Anders (Izombie)
William Katt (Carrie)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Breckin Meyer (Garfield)
Taylor Cole (The Originals)
Aarti Mann (The BIg Bang Theory)
Justin Baldoni (Jane The Virgin)
John Glover (Smallville)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Kevin Alejandro (Arrow)
Kenneth Choi (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Diana Scarwid (Psycho III)
Ravi Kapoor (Bones)
Edwin Hodge (Red Dawn)
Alexa Nikolas (Red State)
Cam Clarke (The Lion Guard)
Ellen Greene (Little Shop of Horrors)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Michael B. Silver (Jason Goes To Hell)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)

Hayden Panettiere and Milo Ventimiglia in Heroes (2006)I love the concept of a weekly show about people dealing with superpowers and an evil government agency coming to get them. I also really like that it doesn’t shy away from the violence, especially when it comes to the ruthless power collecting ultimate bad guy (who at times shows his good side) Sylar. What I don’t like is how scattered and uneven this show has become. I dare anyone to try and make sense out of the first half of the season titled “Villains”. The only crime committed was a lack of concern for a coherent plot. Luckily the second half of the season “Fugitives” got the show focused in and back on track. More after the jump…Masi Oka, James Kyson, and Brea Grant in Heroes (2006)The first half of the season “Villains” was advertised with big campaigns claiming that this season “Heroes will battle Villains.” I was super stoked because the way my mind pictured the structure of the show was switching the narrative focus over to the villains and showing the events through their perspective making all the good guys side characters. I realize this sounds a bit ambitious, but coming off of a lackluster sophomore season I thought the creators were pulling out all the stops. This is not what happened. Instead what came out of the first half was a jumbled, messy plot that had moments of brilliance mixed in with a heavy dose of confusion. I still was thoroughly entertained, but I’m an easy sell when it comes to anything comic book oriented.Zachary Quinto in Heroes (2006)The plot of “Villains” centers around the revelation that Arthur Petrelli is in fact alive and planning some dastardly things at Pinhearst, in his search for the catalyst (the nebulous source that gave all these characters powers). If Arthur can get his hands on the formula then he can create a whole slew of super humans to do his bidding. This is a pretty cool plot, especially when a ton of super baddies are released from Level 5 during a crisis leading to HRG and Sylar teaming up to round them up. Sylar has a lot of moral issues this season as he grapples with his true nature, is he a monster or was he programmed by the Company to be this way?Jack Coleman in Heroes (2006)There are some really fun things he gets to do this season, especially the buddy cop-esque episode where he and HRG are trying to stop a bank robbery being held up by super villains. The plot gets confusing when time travel keeps being thrown in and the actual source of the catalyst was jumbled for me. Is it Claire or Hiro’s mother or both or just a formula? I have no idea. There’s also a two-part episode where another eclipse happens and they all lose their powers. I understand why in the dramatic arc of the story this was put in, but it’s not fun to watch superheroes without powers and these two episodes dragged a bit. I liked the initial idea and towards the end the showdown with Arthur and the Petrelli boys is great, but this half loses steam here and there with just too many ideas on the table.Now comes the second half of the season “Fugitives,” which I thought was awesome! Nathan outs himself to the President as being a person with abilities and is then put in charge of rounding up all people like him in the interest of Homeland Security. Nathan’s motives are a bit sketchy, has he turned to the Dark Side or is this all a way to help Claire, or is it a way to work the system from the inside and eventually destroy it? I’m not telling, but there are a decent number of twists throughout. The reason this half of the season works so much better is because there is a clear through-line and the story is way more focused. Basically it’s the U.S. government versus everyone with abilities, as villains team with heroes and the lines of good and bad are blurred to fight a bigger enemy that threatens all their existence. It’s also a classic comic book plot that works well for a reason, because it seems realistic that this is how our government would react if living Weapons of Mass Destruction started popping up all over the country.Hayden Panettiere, James Kyson, and Brea Grant in Heroes (2006)“Fugitives” has a clear bad guy in the ruthless Agent Danko, who will stop at nothing to detain and sometimes simply destroy anyone with abilities. HRG and Angela start playing both sides and their characters have some great moments. Sylar takes a trip down memory lane to try and find out who his real parents are and some interesting new developments come up leading him down a darker path then before. And Sylar acquires his best power yet, when he kills a shape-shifter, could he be any more unstoppable? While Nathan grapples with the morals of the decisions he’s made and how to fix this manhunt he’s started. Not to mention a great deal is revealed when the gang of heroes goes to Coyote Sands to find out about a mysterious project called “Icarus” which turns out to be a concentration camp for people with abilities where some pretty bad stuff went down. Lots of action, suspense, twists, and a more focused plot makes “Fugitives” a bad ass return to form for a series that has had some ups and downs, but is still dear to my nerdcore heart.Hayden Panettiere, Masi Oka, and James Kyson in Heroes (2006)The first half of season three meandered a bit, but was still fun to watch. The second half reminded me why I started watching the show in the first place and gives a great deal of hope for season four, especially with the cliffhanger we were left with at the end of “Fugitives.” Let’s just say it won’t be politics as usual this coming season…

 

REVIEW: TOTAL RECALL (2012)

CAST

Colin Farrell (Daredevil)
Kate Beckinsale (Underworld)
Jessica Biel (The A-Team)
Bryan Cranston (Drive)
Bokeem woodbine (The Breed)
Bill Nighy (Hot Fuzz)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Steve Byers (Smallville)
Will Yun Lee (Elektra)
James McGowan (Bitten)
Michael Therriault (Reign)
Emily Chang (the Vampire Diaries)
Ethan Hawke (The Purge)
Cam Clarke (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Bridget Hoffman (Darkman)

At the end of the 21st century, Earth is devastated by chemical warfare. What little habitable land remains is divided into two territories, the United Federation of Britain (UFB, located on mainland Europe) and the Colony (Australia). Many residents of the Colony travel to the UFB to work in factories via “the Fall”, a gravity elevator running through the Earth’s core. A Resistance operating in the UFB seeks to improve life in the Colony, which the UFB views as a terrorist movement.
Colony citizen Douglas Quaid[8] has been having dreams of being a secret agent, aided by an unknown woman. Tired of his factory job building police robots with friend Harry, he visits Rekall, a virtual entertainment company that implants artificial memories. Among the choices Rekall salesman Bob McClane offers Quaid are the memories of a secret agent. An emblem of rekall is stamped onto his arm. Just as Quaid is starting to be implanted, McClane discovers that he already has real memories of being a covert operative. As McClane starts to question Quaid about the memories, UFB police officers burst in, killing the Rekall crews and attempt to arrest Quaid. Quaid instinctively reacts and kills the officers before escaping. Upon returning home his wife Lori attempts to kill him, revealing that she is an undercover UFB agent who has been monitoring him for the past six weeks. After Quaid escapes, Charles Hammond, a “friend” Quaid does not recognize, contacts him and directs him to a safe-deposit box. Quaid finds a recorded message from his former self with the address of a UFB apartment.
While being pursued by Lori and other human and robot police, Quaid meets Melina, the woman from his dreams. At the apartment Quaid finds another recording, revealing that his name is actually Carl Hauser, an agent working for UFB Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen. After defecting to the Resistance, Hauser was captured by the UFB and implanted with false memories. The recording reveals that Cohaagen will use robots to invade the Colony so the UFB will have more living space. Hauser, however, has seen a “kill code” that would disable the robots. The code can be recovered from his memory by Resistance leader Matthias. Melina reveals that she was Hauser’s lover before Hauser was captured; she proves that they knew each other by showing that they have matching scars from a time they were both shot whilst holding hands. The police surround the apartment building and Harry appears. He tries to convince Quaid that he is still in a Rekall-induced dream and that killing Melina is the only way out. Quaid is conflicted, but notices a tear on Melina’s cheek and shoots Harry instead. Lori pursues the pair inside the building’s lifts, but fails to capture them.
Quaid and Melina meet with Matthias. While Matthias searches Quaid’s memories, Lori and Cohaagen storm the Resistance base. Cohaagen reveals that Hauser was in fact working for him without Quaid even knowing it due to the memory alteration, using the kill code as a trap. Cohaagen kills Matthias and arranges to restore Hauser’s memory before leaving with Melina as a prisoner. As the officers are about to inject Quaid, Hammond (revealed to be one of the police officers involved in the raid) sacrifices himself to help Quaid escape.
jessica-biel-and-colin-farrell-new-total-recall-2012
Cohaagen begins his invasion of the Colony, loading the Fall with his army of robots. Quaid sneaks on board, setting timed explosives throughout the ship while searching for Melina. After freeing her, they climb atop the Fall as it arrives at the Colony. As they fight the soldiers and Cohaagen, Quaid’s explosives detonate. Quaid and Melina jump off before the ship plummets back into the tunnel and explodes underground, killing Cohaagen and destroying his army and The Fall itself. Waking up in an ambulance, Quaid is greeted by Melina. When he notices that she is missing her scar, he realizes that she is Lori using a holographic disguise; they fight and Lori is killed. Quaid finds the real Melina outside the ambulance and they embrace. As the news channels declare the independence of The Colony, Quaid notices that the emblem of Rekall that was stamped on his arm has disappeared. He looks up to find an advertisement of Rekall on an electronic billboard. Just before Quaid can kiss Melina, the screen cuts to black, making it open to interpretation whether Quaid was actually living the memory of a spy at rekall.
I love the first Total Recall film and put off watching this version due to the negative reviews and uncomplimentary comparisons with Paul Verhoeven’s original, but when I finally got around to watching this movie I was more than pleasantly surprised. Undoubtedly more dour and lacking the humour of its predecessor this is nevertheless an entertaining, action-packed, adrenalin-fuelled, visually spectacular SF movie.

REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1987) – SEASON 6-10

Image result for teenage mutant ninja turtles logo

MAIN CAST

Cam Clarke (He-Man 2002)
Barry Gordon (Fish)
Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs)
Townsend Coleman (The Tick)
Pat Fraley (Monsters, Inc.)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Renae Jacobs (Rose petal Place)
Peter Renaday (General Hospital)
Greg Berg (Transformers)
Hal Rayle (Bionic 6)
Jennifer Darling (Aladdin)

Image result for teenage mutant ninja turtles DREGG

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
Susan Blu (Transformers)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Robbie Rist (iron Eagle)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)

Season Six  features just 16 episodes of comedy relief, slightly less action and plenty of fourth-wall breaking. Highlights include “Adventures in Turtle-Sitting” (in which a reverse-aging ray turns three of the four Turtles into tykes), “Krangenstein Lives” (the malfunctioning Krang’s body goes on a rampage) and “Nightmare in the Lair” (Michaelangelo messes with Donatello’s dream machine). A few clunkers don’t work quite as well: “Too Hot to Handle”, for example, revolves around a snot-nosed brat’s science experiment gone awry. TMNT usually works best when kids watch it…instead of star in it.

Season Seven  sounds big on paper at 27 total episodes, but roughly half of them were taken from the “Vacation in Europe” side-season that originally aired on USA Network’s Cartoon Express. This also marked the series’ final year in its most recognizable form, as a relatively big shift in tone was just around the corner. The original DVD release for this season was equally frustrating, as it was split into four “slices” (named after our four heroes) with a collectible action figure packed in each one.

Seasons Eight, Nine & Ten  might as well be grouped together; not only are they known as the “black sheep” years, but each one contains only eight episodes. The series underwent a number of changes after most of the original fanbase graduated to darker comic pastures like Batman: The Animated Series and Gargoyles, which included a new theme song (complete with live action clips), a red sky and a more serious tone. Minor human characters like Casey Jones, The Rat King and the Channel 6 crew were abandoned, though April stuck around and got a new wardrobe. A teenager named Carter (who acquires a seemingly incurable mutant power and studies martial arts under Splinter’s direction) also joined the team in Season Nine, while a major new villain arrives in the form of Lord Dregg. Overall, these are another step down from the repetitive years before them, but anyone who abandoned the show just before this point might enjoy seeing how things have changed. Proceed at your own risk, though.

REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1987) PLANET OF THE TURTLELOIDS

CAST

Cam Clarke (He-Man 2002)
Barry Gordon (Fish)
Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs)
Townsend Coleman (The Tick)
Pat Fraley (Monsters, Inc.)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Renae Jacobs (Rose petal Place)
Peter Renaday (General Hospital)

Image result for teenage mutant ninja turtles planet of the turtleoids

Our story opens with our heroes prowling the street in fedora’s and trenchcoats searching for an all-night pizzeria when they come across a sumo wrestler, named Tattoo, breaking into a pet shop and saying something about looking “for home.” But when the TMNT try to subdue the gigantic wrestler, he electrocutes himself and transforms into a hamster and quickly walks into a cage with other hamsters.

Donatello deducts that this could be the work of Shredder and Krang… that the deadly duo are once again messing around with the Mutagen. Donatello reflects on the incident at the pet shop and wonders if maybe they would all be better off if they were still just ordinary turtles. Meanwhile, Shredder and Krang are indeed fooling around with the Mutagen, as they prepare to create more Mutants so that they can break into a museum and steal a giant ruby. The villains hope that they can use the gem to refocus Krang’e new heat ray and finally free the Technodrome.

Back at the lair, the effects of being shunned by human society at large have gotten to Donatello, who wonders if there is a place where the Turtles can be accepted for who they are.Later, that same night, at the City Wild Animal Park, Shredder orders Bebop and Rocksteady to abduct one lion and one gorilla to prepare for mutation. Meanwhile, while drowning his sorrows in a root beer float and lamenting his status at Channel 6 News, vis a vis April O’Neil’s, Vernon encounters a humanoid Turtle named Kerma, wearing a trenchcoat and fedora, and runs screaming into the night.

Nonplused, Kerma arrives at the City Wild Animal Park and sets free Shredder’s lion and gorilla before they have been mutated and, thanks to Bebop and Rocksteady’s bumbling, a bull and a mole are mutated instead. Shredder decides that these two new mutants will have to do and gives them their outfits. Back at Channel 6, Vernon tells April about his encounter with what he believes to be one of the Turtles — only the Turtle he met was three feet tall. April is sure that Vernon did not meet one of the Turtles and contacts them. At the Zoo he new mutants name themselves Groundchuck and Dirtbag. Shredder orders them to steal the giant ruby from the museum but the two would rather just rip the zoo apart.

The Turtles meet April, Irma and Vernon at the news station where Michelangelo explains that whoever Vernon did see it was not one of them. But the Raphael is concerned that someone is “ripping off their style” and the Turtles set out to investigate. As soon as the Turtles leave the Channel 6 News Building, not only do they encounter Groundchuck and Dirtbag, who are itching for a fight, but Kerma as well, who captures all six of them and takes them back to his space ship — which is designed to look not unlike the Chrysler Building. April arrives down on the street with her mini-cam, but the Chrysler Building/Rocket Ship has blasted into space. On the flight to his home planet, Kerma explains that he and his fellow Turtleoids have a “problem” and he was seeking typical Earth people for advice. Unfortunately, he had no idea that Groundchuck and Dirtbag are not humans – as for the Turtles, he thought that they had honest faces.

Meanwhile, Bebop and Rocksteady kidnap April, along with her Turtlecom, and bring her back to Shredder and Krang at the City Wild Animal Park. Rocksteady informs Shredder that the Turtles have not responded to the TurtleCom signal and Bebop suggests that maybe the Turtles are indeed gone. Meanwhile, the Turtles, along with Groundchug and Dirtbag, arrive on the planet Shell-ri-la. Donatello is ecstatic! This is exactly what he was dreaming about in the first act — a world where Turtles can live free! Back at the Technodrome, Shredder, convinced that the Turtles are history and acknowledging defeat in the giant ruby caper, declares that he will build a super intelligent and utterly invincible robot to pull off his latest scheme. On Shell-ri-la the Turtles see one of the Turtleoid’s alchemy machines — you know the ones that turn lead into gold. And, as Kerma explains to the TMNT, the reflection of the gold light provides the Turtleoids with their energy just like food. But before the Turtles can enjoy anymore of their vacation, Groundchuck and Dirtbag escape. Meanwhile, April escapes and Shredder has completed work on his new robot, known as Chrome Dome who quickly captures April.As Kerma takes the Turtles to the high council chambers of Shell-Ri-La, they soon are approached by the Turtleoid’s “small problem” a large two headed dragon.

Herman the Horrible along with recruits Groundchuck and Dirtbag destroy the power source to the force dome shield leaving the city vulnerable. The Turtleoids accuse the TMNT of sabotage and throw them in prison. Despite all this, Donatello still appreciates Shellri-La for being a turtle planet, whereas Michaelangelo says Shellri-La has none of the things that the Turtles appreciate on Earth, such as rock & roll, video games or pizza, and Raphael chimes in that the Turtleoids have proven themselves just as biased towards the TMNT as have humans back on Earth. Leonardo protests that they must escape and confront the two-headed monster Herman the Horrible, which all agree on that. Kerma helps the TMNT escape by giving them standard Turtleoid attire. As Donatello dons a Turtleoid robe he remarks at the irony; he could understand sneaking around disguised on Earth; a human planet, but here they were on a planet of turtles and they must once again sneak around disguised!

The turtles decide to end Herman the Horrible’s reign of terror once and for all. After Leonardo discovers Herman is no more than a machine, Donatello blasts him with a Pulverizer Ray and Herman the Horrible is soon revealed to be no more than two corrupt Turtleoid leaders who are sick of just using gold for energy and want real gold things. They attempted to overthrow Shellri-La’s government. After capturing Shredder’s mutants as well the turtle teens decide to return home, but are at least thanked by Kerma for saving Shellri-La and says he may return to see them one day. Meanwhile Shredder’s newly created Chrome Dome leads an army of Foot Soldiers to build a smaller version of the Technodrome named the Mini Technodrome. Once the turtles have returned they destroy both the new Technodrome and Chrome Dome. Raphael is sorry Donatello had to leave Shellri-La, but Don remarks he is glad to be back on Earth, for Shellri-La had no video games, and worst of all, no pizza

This feature length adventure was excellent and it was nice to see a bunch of new characters introduced that would appear later in the series, even the turtleoids return for a follow-up .