REVIEW: DRACULA UNTOLD

CAST

Luke Evans(the Hobbit)
Dominc Cooper (Agent Carter)
Sarah Gadon (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Art Parkinson (Game of Thrones)
Charles Dance (Last Action Hero)
Paul Kaye (Pan)
Ronan Vibert (Hex)

In the Middle Ages, Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) is the Prince of Wallachia and Transylvania. As a child, he was a princely hostage of the Ottoman Empire and was trained to be a soldier in the Sultan’s elite Janissary corps, where he became their most feared warrior. He was called Vlad the Impaler after slaughtering thousands by impaling them on spears. Eventually sickened by his acts, he put aside his past and returned to rule his domains in peace. One day in the forest, Vlad and his soldiers discover a helmet in a stream. Fearing that an Ottoman scouting party is preparing the way for invasion, they follow the stream to a high mountain cave called Broken Tooth Mountain. Upon entering the cave, they discover the ground of the cave is carpeted in crushed bone; and they are attacked in the dark by an unknown creature (Charles Dance) with shining red eyes, as well as inhuman speed and strength. While his men are killed, Vlad cuts the creature of the cave with his sword before being thrown to the ground. The blood on the sword he used to cut the creature dissolves when exposed to sunlight, and the creature does not pursue Vlad into the sunlight at the mouth of the cave. Returning to his castle, Vlad learns from a local monk that the creature is a vampire, who was once a man who summoned a demon from the depths of hell and made a pact with it for dark powers before being tricked by the demon and cursed to remain in the cave forever until he is released by someone who drinks his blood, then drinks the blood of a human. The person is welcome to share his power in exchange for the freedom to escape the cave.

The next day, as Vlad celebrates an Easter feast with his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon), his son Ingeras (Art Parkinson), and his subjects, an Ottoman contingent arrives unexpectedly at the castle. Vlad offers them the usual tribute payment of silver coins, but the emissary notes that a battalion of Ottoman scouts has gone missing, implying that Vlad has had them killed. Vlad professes that he had not killed them. The emissary demands an additional tribute of 1,000 boys to be trained as Janissaries, through the devşirme system. Vlad refuses, but his army is small and no match for the Turks. Mirena believes that, because of Vlad and Mehmed’s (Dominic Cooper) history together as children, being close like brothers, if he were to ask, Mehmed would show him mercy. He approaches Mehmed II and asks him not to take the country’s boys. When that fails, he offers himself in place of the boys; but the Sultan refuses and demands Vlad’s son in addition. The Sultan sends the emissary to bring Vlad’s son. Vlad has an argument with his wife, as he is sending his son to meet the emissary and Ottoman soldiers. Vlad tells his wife to trust him before leaving his wife and son and going to meet the emissary and the soldiers alone. He is unarmed; but his son, afraid for him, runs to him, takes his hand, and tells his father that he is ready to join the Sultan’s army. As Vlad approaches the Turks, the emissary, smiling, tells Vlad that he thought there would be some kind of difficulty. Vlad tells his son to run back to his mother, then takes the emissary’s sword and kills him and his small entourage of soldiers.

Knowing his actions will lead to war, Vlad returns to the Broken Tooth Mountain cave to seek help from the vampire. Once he is inside, the vampire asks Vlad why he returned. Vlad replies, saying he needs the power of the vampire so that he can defeat the Ottoman army. The vampire tells him there are consequences and offers him some of his blood, which will temporarily give Vlad the powers of a vampire. If he resists the intense urge to drink human blood for three days, he will turn back into a human. Otherwise, he will remain a vampire forever and will one day be called upon to help his maker. Vlad accepts the offer and drinks the vampire’s blood, going through a painful and deathlike experience as he transforms.

Waking up in the forest afterwards, Vlad discovers he has been granted heightened senses, inhuman strength and speed, and the ability to transform into a flock of bats; but his skin slowly burns in direct sunlight. When he returns to Castle Dracula, the Ottoman army attacks, but Vlad single-handedly kills them all. He then sends most of the castle’s subjects to Cozia Monastery, which is situated on the edge of a mountain, as a better base for safety. During the journey, Mirena learns of Vlad’s curse as she sees Vlad holding silver to keep himself weak when near his people to avoid revealing his condition to them or attack them for blood. After Vlad promises he will resist human blood, she accepts that he will regain his mortality once the Ottomans are defeated. A Romani named Shkelgim, who knows Vlad is a vampire, proclaims himself as his servant and offers his own blood; but Vlad resists. As they near the monastery, the Valahs are ambushed by Ottoman soldiers; and, while Vlad and his men successfully repel them, Vlad’s sudden increased strength arouses suspicion among his subjects. The next day at the monastery, a monk learns of the curse and leads the Prince’s subjects to turn on Vlad, trapping him in a burning building in the sunlight. Black smoke blocks out the sun, allowing an outraged Vlad to escape the fire, and he angrily reveals that he became a vampire for the sole purpose of protecting his people from the Ottoman suzerainty. Before he acts out against them, Mirena stops him and calms him down.

That night, the Ottoman army marches on the monastery. Vlad commands an enormous swarm of bats to repel them; however, the soldiers are actually a decoy force, allowing a handful of Turks to infiltrate the monastery, kill many of the inhabitants and kidnap Ingeras. Mirena tries to defend her son, and falls from the edge of the monastery wall. Dying, Mirena pleads with Vlad to drink her blood before the sun rises to give him the strength to save their son. Vlad reluctantly drinks her blood, triggering his final transformation into a full-blooded vampire and granting him even greater powers. Vlad returns to the monastery and turns a small group of survivors and mortally wounded into vampires as well. At the Ottoman army’s camp, Mehmed prepares for a massive invasion of Europe. Vlad and his vampires arrive and easily massacre the terrified Ottoman soldiers, while Vlad himself goes after Mehmed, who is holding Ingeras captive. Aware that vampires are weakened by silver, Mehmed has lined the floor of his tent with silver coins, reducing Vlad’s strength and speed, and impairing his vision, and fights Vlad with a silver sword. He overpowers Vlad and prepares to impale his heart with a wooden stake, but Vlad turns into a flock of bats and evades him. Taking the name “Dracula, Son of the Devil,” he kills Mehmed with the stake and drinks his blood, fully succumbed to the savagery of his vampiric condition.

As they leave Mehmed’s tent, Dracula and Ingeras are confronted by the other vampires, who demand that his son be killed because he is human. The monk who had previously led the Valahs against Vlad appears and keeps the vampires at bay with a Christian cross. When one of the vampires attempts to kill Ingeras, Dracula impales him with a spear as a warning to the others not to harm his son. Dracula orders the monk to take Ingeras away, then uses his power to clear the black clouds in the sky. The sunlight burns the vampires into dust, while Dracula collapses into a charred corpse. With Vlad presumed dead and Europe saved from the Ottoman invasion, Ingeras is crowned the new Prince of Wallachia. However, Shkelgim secretly takes Dracula into a nearby tent and revives him with his blood.

In the present day, Vlad meets a woman named Mina, who strikingly resembles Mirena, in the streets of a modern city (London), and they have a conversation about a line of poetry they have in common. The vampire who cursed Vlad, now healed, in a more human form, and still alive, watches them from afar and follows them, and anticipates what he has planned for Dracula in the future, saying, “Let the games begin.”

It’s a film with some great effects, has a charismatic lead with Luke Evans and when added to a great performance by Dominic Cooper as the Sultan Mehmed all round gave a film that was quite enjoyable.

 

 

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REVIEW: HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2

CAST (VOICE)

Adam Sandler (Little Nicky)
Andy Samberg (Thats My Boy)
Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers)
Saul Andrew Blinkoff (Sing)
Kevin James (Paul Blart Mall Cop)
Fran Drescher (Picking Up The Pieces)
Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs)
Molly Shannon (Wet Hot American Summer)
David Spade (8 Simple Rules)
Keegan-Michael Key (Role Models)
Mel Brooks (Spaceballs)
Nick Offerman (Miss Congeniality 2)
Megan Mullally (Will & Grace)
Dana Carvey (Waynes World)
Jon Lovitz (The Simpsons)
Luenell (Borat)
Rob Riggle (The Hangover)
Nick Swardson (Click)
Chris Parnell (21 Jump Street)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Kari Wahlgren (Rick and Morty)

Seven years after the first film, Mavis and her new fiancé Johnny are finally married, with the approval of her father Dracula, and the world becomes aware of (and unfazed by) the existence of monsters. Mavis later reveals to Drac that she is pregnant and a year later, she gives birth to a baby boy named Dennis, who later befriends Wayne’s daughter Winnie. Nearing his fifth birthday, Dennis has yet to grow his fangs and Drac worries that his grandson might not gain vampire powers. Noticing the dangers of Transylvania, Mavis starts to consider raising Dennis where Johnny grew up, much to Drac’s disapproval.Drac tells Johnny (who does not want to leave the hotel either) to bring Mavis to California to visit his parents, Mike and Linda, but to make sure to keep her distracted so that she will not move, leaving Drac to “babysit” Dennis. Drac enlists his friends Frank, Wayne the Werewolf, Griffin the Invisible Man, Murray the Mummy, and Blobby the Blob to help train Dennis to become a monster, to no avail.Drac takes Dennis to his childhood summer camp, Camp Winnepacaca, where he learned to hone his vampire abilities and discovers that the camp is safer than it was when he went there. Drac stubbornly believes Dennis is a “late fanger”, so he hurls Dennis from a tall, unstable tower to pressure the boy’s transformation into a bat. Dennis does not transform, and Dracula has to fly and rescue him at the last second. The stunt is filmed by the campers and uploaded to the Internet, which eventually reaches Mavis and Johnny.Mavis angrily transforms into a bat to fly her and Johnny back to Transylvania. Drac and his friends reach the hotel a couple of seconds after Mavis. She confronts her father for putting Dennis in grave danger and his inability to accept that he is human. She states she will move out of the hotel after Dennis’ fifth birthday the following Wednesday. Drac hangs his head with deep guilt.Mavis invites Vlad, her grandfather and Drac’s father, to Dennis’ birthday party. As Vlad is much worse than he was when it comes to humans, Drac tells Johnny to have the human party-goers disguise themselves as monsters. Vlad receives the invitation and arrives with his monstrous bat-like servant Bela to meet his great-grandson for the first time. Meeting him, he believes that fear will cause Dennis’ fangs to sprout and possesses a stage performer dressed as Dennis’s favorite television monster, “Kakie the Cake Monster”, to scare Dennis, but Drac shields his grandson at the last moment and exposes the deception to Vlad, who is outraged that Drac has accepted humans as guests in his hotel. Drac confronts his father about how humans are different now. Mavis becomes upset with her grandfather’s behaviour.While the family argues, Dennis sadly flees the hotel and enters the forest with Winnie in tow, hiding in her treehouse. They are attacked by Bela, who mistakes Dennis for a human. When Bela injures Winnie and threatens to destroy the hotel, Dennis’ anger causes him to instantly grow his fangs and his vampire abilities manifest. He begins to fight Bela, who calls his giant-bat minions. Drac, Mavis, Dennis, Johnny, the rest of the monsters and Johnny’s family team up to defeat his minions. A livid Bela then attempts to kill Johnny himself with a stake. Having been won over by Drac’s claim that humans are harmless now, Vlad shrinks Bela and tells him never to bother his family again. Bela then flees. With Dennis having vampire abilities, Mavis and Johnny continue to raise him in Transylvania, and they resume the party with his friends.It is not as good as the original. But it is still very funny. And really shows Adam Sandler who has starred in some flops recently, still has his charm as Dracula.

REVIEW: HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA

 

CAST (VOICE)

Adam Sandler (Little Nicky)
Andy Samberg (Thats My Boy)
Selena Gomez (Spring Breakers)
Kevin James (Paul Blart Mall Cop)
Fran Drescher (Picking Up The Pieces)
Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs)
Molly Shannon (Wet Hot American Summer)
David Spade (8 Simple Rules)
CeeLo Green (Begin Again)
Jon Lovitz (The Simpsons)
Luenell (Borat)
Chris Parnell (21 Jump Street)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Rob Riggle (The Hangover)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob)
Corey Burton (Transformers)
Cam Clarke (Big Hero 6)
Allen Covert (Big Daddy)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)

In the aftermath of the death of his wife Martha (Jackie Sandler) at the hands of an angry human mob, Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) commissions and builds a massive five-star, monsters-only hotel in Transylvania in which he raises his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and to serve as a safe-place getaway for the world’s monsters from fear of human persecution.Famous monsters such as Frank (Kevin James) and his wife Eunice (Fran Drescher), Wayne and Wanda Werewolf (Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon) and their massive immediate family, Griffin The Invisible Man (David Spade), and Murray the Mummy (CeeLo Green) often come to stay at the hotel which is completely human-free and safe for monsters.On Mavis’s 118th birthday, Dracula allows his daughter to leave the castle in order to explore the human world, but he sets up an elaborate plan using his zombie bellhops disguised as humans to make them seem intimidating, but without her being in any danger, and frighten her home. The plan works, but the zombies inadvertently lead a 21-year-old[12] human named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) back to the hotel. Dracula frantically disguises him as a Frankensteinesque Monster and passes him off as “Johnnystein”, ‘a distant cousin of Frank’s right arm’.Jonathan soon encounters Mavis and the two “Zing” (a form of romantic attraction). Unable to get Johnny out of the hotel without notice, Drac quickly improvises that Jonathan is a party planner, brought in to bring a fresher approach to his own traditional and boring parties. Jonathan quickly becomes a hit to the other monsters, especially Mavis, but this disgusts and worries Dracula greatly. Drac orders Johnny to leave, but Johnny is brought back by Mavis. After being shown the beauty of a sunrise by Johnny, Mavis is inspired to give humans another chance.Meanwhile, the hotel chef Quasimodo (Jon Lovitz) with the help of his pet rat Esmeralda learns that Johnny is a human and kidnaps him in order to cook him. Dracula intervenes and magically freezes Quasimodo to keep him from telling anyone that Jonathan is human. Dracula leads Jonathan to his quarters and shows him a painting of his wife. Much to Dracula’s surprise, Jonathan knows the woman in the painting from a legend he has recently heard and relates a story about how she fell perfectly in love with a count, but died in a mysterious fire. Dracula reveals the full painting with himself in it and confirms the truth of the tale, and proceeds to tell the full version, thus explaining why Dracula built the hotel and the origin of his overprotective behaviour with Mavis. Jonathan is understanding and Dracula develops respect for his knowledge, and the two bond, recognising that Jonathan is a good person. Jonathan then tries to leave for good, but Dracula convinces him to stay for the time-being to avoid ruining Mavis’s birthday.The party is a great success the next night, and Mavis looks forward to opening a gift from her deceased mother. However, when Jonathan and Mavis share their first kiss, Dracula overreacts, and, in his outburst, inadvertently confesses to deceiving Mavis with the town. A still-frozen Quasimodo bursts in and the Fly (Chris Parnell) translates from his frozen speech that Johnny is a human disguised by Dracula. The guests are outraged by the deceit at play, but Mavis is undeterred and wants to be with Johnny, even knowing he is human. Jonathan feigns disinterest in Mavis and rejects her out of respect for her father and leaves the hotel. Mavis then angrily yells at Dracula and flies off.Dracula finds Mavis on the roof with her mother’s present. He learns it is a book about how her mother and Dracula “Zinged” and fell in love. Dracula realizes humankind has become tolerant of monsters, and manages to convince Frank, Wayne, Griffin, and Murray to head out into the human world to help him find Jonathan, and with the scent-tracking ability of Wayne’s daughter, Winnie, they learn that he is bound on a flight to America soon. The four head to the airport, but are held up in a town celebrating a Monster Festival along the way. Instead of being frightened by the appearance and powers of real monsters, the humans admire the group, and a team of men dressed as vampires help Dracula by providing him shelter from the sunlight while he rushes to the airport. Drac arrives to see Jonathan’s plane taking off, and he gives chase in bat form, burning in the sunlight. After getting Jonathan’s attention, Dracula makes his way to the front of the plane and uses his mind-controlling power on the pilot (Brian Stack) to help him apologize for his actions. Jonathan accepts his apology; Dracula then manipulates the pilot to return to the Transylvanian airport for a “refuel”.Dracula returns Jonathan to Mavis. Jonathan confesses that their ‘Zing’ was mutual and the two kiss, making Dracula realize his daughter has grown up and can make her own decisions. The monsters finish celebrating Mavis’s party as Dracula, Mavis, Jonathan and their monster friends sing “The Zing” to the audience of hotel guests.This is a really funny movie with a simple predictable story line and tons of characters that you will love.  I recommend this movie to anyone who like monsters and want to have a good laugh and take a break from Disney.

 

REVIEW: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)
Drake Bell (Sueprhero Movie)
Ogie Banks (Superman vs The Elite)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Clark Gregg (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants)
Matt Lanter (Heroes)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Caitlyn Taylor Love (I’m With The Band)
Logan Miller (Deep Powder)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Misty Lee (Killer Kids)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Tara Strong (The New Batman Adventures)
Eric Bauza (Batman: Assault on Arkam)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Kevin Michael richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Stan Lee (Spider-Man)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Troy Baker (Lego Batman: The Movie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Rob Paulsen (Teenae Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterpise)
Travis Willingham (Shelf Life)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Roger Craig Smith (Wreck-it Ralph)
Diedrich Bader (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Jack Coleman (Heroes)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Rose McGowan (Planet Terror)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Stan Lee (Avengers Aseesmble)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Freddy Rodriguez (Ugly Betty)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
Cameron Boyce (The Descendants)
Maria Canals-Barrera (Justice League)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Iain De Caestecker (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
James Marsters (Caprica)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Billy West (Futurama)

I recently watched  Ultimate Spider-Man and I can honestly say that I have never wanted to stop watching a Spider-Man cartoon before in my life… until now. I have been a big fan of the Spider-Man comic series for many years and have liked almost all of the cartoon iterations of him, but this one just hurts to watch. I understand that Spider-Man is supposed to be a smart-mouthed teen who likes to make jokes while fighting crime, which is my favorite part about the character, but this show just takes it to an extreme.


I think one of the biggest problems for me was how much the stories are broken up by all of the “cut away” scenes.  I understand that Spider-Man is a show made for children and I get that the characters aren’t going to be nearly as serious as they are in the comics, but I feel like this was just too far from the source material for me to enjoy it. Another thing that bothered me was how just a few years ago we had, in my opinion, one of the best Spider-Man shows to date, Spectacular Spider-Man, and it was canceled in only it’s second season. I had really high hopes for Ultimate Spider-Man to fill the void that Spectacular Spider-Man left, but it just didn’t deliver at all.

As far as the voice acting on the show goes, they all seem to have done a really good job… with what they were given to read. So much of the writing in this show just seems so forced.why was Spectacular Spider-Man so much better and the most honest answer that I can give you is that it seems as though Marvel actually put a lot of work into Spectacular Spider-Man. I’m not saying that they didn’t put a lot of work into Ultimate Spider-Man, but it’s much harder to see in this one. The character designs in Spectacular Spider-Man may not have hit all of the right points for some people, but I really enjoyed it. The action in the show looked really good and it was easy to follow exactly what was happening, because you didn’t have a bunch of blur that you had to try and see everything through. The story for Spectacular Spider-Man was your standard Spider-Man fare, but while it was a show essentially for kids, it also appealed to many adults as well.


I really wanted to like Ultimate Spider-Man, but I just didn’t. I feel like if this show was about just another teen superhero other than Spider-Man it would have been much more forgivable, but for it to take such a dump on such a beloved character, it is just really sad to see. Now all that I can do is hope that the new Spider-Man movie can really bring something good to the table.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS – SEASON 1-3

 

CAST (VOICES)

Dan Gilvezan (Transformers)
Kathy Garver (Family Affair)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Dick Tufeld (Lost In Space)
June Foray (Mulan)
Image result for SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Rino Roamno (The Batman)
Alan Young (The Time Machine)
Michael Ansara (Batman: TAS)
Michael Bell (Rugrats)
Peter Cullen (Transformers)

Image result for SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS

Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar are fighting crime and protecting the world from villains. As Peter Parker, Bobby Drake, and Angelica Jones, the three heroes are not only teammates, but roommates and friends. As they try to keep Aunt May and Angelica’s dog Ms. Lion in the dark, the Spider-Friends battle enemies from Doctor Octopus and Doctor Doom to Green Goblin and the Red Skull. Fortunately, the Spider-Man, Firestar, and Iceman have allies in Captain America, the X-Men, and other heroes…saving the world is a hard job!

Image result for SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDSSpider-Man and His Amazing Friends ran for three seasons on NBC from September 12, 1981 to September 10, 1983. The series was produced by Marvel Productions and aired with The Incredible Hulk cartoon starting with the second season. Saturday mornings was ruled by the Super Friends. DC Comics had gotten the jump on the super team show and Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Wonder Twins were already well established when Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends premiered. Despite that,

The series was cheap. There are episodes where there are out and out mistakes (my favorite is “The Origin of Iceman” where a flashback of Iceman’s time with the original X-Men accidentally features two Cyclops in a group shot). You get lots of coloring errors and animation that changes. In addition to that, there are inconsistencies and things like just unknowns about the series…like Wolverine having an Australian accent instead of a Canadian (which would have been a lot easier for Hugh Jackman). It even stole character designs like for Cyberiad in “The X-Men Adventure” who was a complete copy of Legion of Super-Heroes’ Fatal Five enemy Tharok. Surprisingly, the show is loaded with cameos. Characters like  Matt Murdock, Captain America, Iron Man, and others make cameos throughout the series and the series helped introduce the X-Men to a larger audience.

I would say that the best addition to the Marvel Universe from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is easily Firestar. Firestar was meant to be the Human Torch who was tied up in legal tape. Firestar was created for the show to look like Mary Jane Watson, but ended up being retconned into the Marvel Universe in Uncanny X-Men #193 (May 1985). I love Firestar and she’s one of the few characters who really transitioned well from “made-for-TV” to comic. pider-Man and His Amazing Friends is a fun series…if you grew up with it. The cheapness of the series probably won’t impress younger viewers, but as a fan from childhood, it is great to revisit the show.

REVIEW: SPIDER-WOMAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES

 

CAST (VOICES)

Joan Van Ark (Knots Landing)
Bryan Scott (Kidd Video)
Larry Carroll (Rocky)
Vic Perrin (The Incredible Hulk 80s)
Paul Soles (Spider-Man 60s)

untitledIn the 1970s, Marvel Comics created a handful of female versions of some of Marvel’s popular male characters (allegedly, just so no one else could lay claim to the names): Spider-Woman, the She-Hulk, and Ms. Marvel. Of those three, Spider-Woman quickly became a prominent marketing co-mascot (along with Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Captain America), appearing on various Marvel-branded licensed merchandise, and serving as their de facto representative for lady superheroes (rival DC Comics owned longtime icon Wonder Woman). Marvel’s first animation production house (in cooperation with the DePatie/Freling, firm, who pioneered the “Pink Panther” toons) developed this show.

'Dedicated to fighting evil while weaving her web of justice...' ('Spider-Woman,' 1979)

The show alters the backstory for Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman. The comics had an arguably complicated origin story, which posited her as being born in the 1920’s, struck by radiation poisoning, then placed in suspended animation where she slowly grew to adulthood over several decades (while periodically being injected with life-preserving drugs based on spider-proteins). The producers wisely jettisoned this origin, and simply state that a pre-teen Jessica was bitten by a spider when fooling around in her father’s research laboratory. A hasty antidote is created, based on the spider’s venom, which ends up giving Jessica her trademark powers. As an adult, Spider-Woman can crawl on walls, has super-strength, can mentally communicate with spiders, has a spider-sense that borders on true clairvoyance, can cast webbing from her fingertips, and can glide on air currents with her web-wings (the webcasting, spider-sense and spider-telepathy were not from the comics). Curiously, she transforms into her Spider-Woman costume simply by spinning around in place (and weaving a thin web around herself)– this was seemingly taken directly from the “Wonder Woman” TV show.

The adult Jessica is now a magazine publisher (Justice Magazine), though apparently she often serves as her own reporter, along with pilot/photographer Jeff by her side, as well as her nephew Billy.The Kingpin and Dormammu are among the Marvel comics villains used here, though the portrayals are not exactly as the comics origins. Spider-Man is a guest in two episodes– though in both, Spider-Woman is clearly the main star, and viewers never see Spider-Man out of costume. It’s  great to have this series on DVD to relive the classic cartoon time and again.

REVIEW: BRAM STOKERS DRACULA

CAST

Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Winona Ryder (Black Swan)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Keanu Reeves (Speed)
Richard E. Grant (Game of Thrones)
Cary Elwes (Saw)
Billy Campbell (Rocketeer)
Sadie Frost (Shopping)
Tom Waits (Fight Club)
Monica Bellucci (The Brothers Grimm)

In 1462, Vlad Dracula, a member of the Order of the Dragon, returns from a victory against the Turks to find his wife, Elisabeta, has committed suicide after receiving a false report of his death. Enraged that his wife is now damned for committing suicide, Dracula desecrates his chapel and renounces God, declaring that he will rise from the grave to avenge Elisabeta with all the powers of darkness. In a fit of rage, he stabs the chapel’s stone cross with his sword and drinks the blood which pours out of it.
In 1897, newly qualified solicitor Jonathan Harker takes the Transylvanian Count Dracula as a client from his colleague R. M. Renfield, who has gone insane. Jonathan travels to Transylvania to arrange Dracula’s real estate acquisition in London, including Carfax Abbey. Jonathan meets Dracula, who discovers a picture of Harker’s fiancée, Mina and believes that she is the reincarnation of Elisabeta. Dracula leaves Jonathan to be raped and fed upon by his brides and sails to England with boxes of his native soil, taking up residence at Carfax Abbey. His arrival is foretold by the ravings of Renfield, now an inmate in Dr Jack Seward’s neighboring insane asylum.
In London, Dracula emerges as a wolf-like creature amid a fierce thunderstorm and hypnotically seduces, then rapes and bites Lucy Westenra, with whom Mina is staying while Jonathan is in Transylvania. Lucy’s deteriorating health and behavioral changes prompts Lucy’s former suitors Quincey Morris and Dr Seward, along with her fiancé, Arthur Holmwood, to summon Dr Abraham Van Helsing, who recognizes Lucy as the victim of a vampire. Dracula, appearing young and handsome during daylight, meets and charms Mina. When Mina receives word from Jonathan, who has escaped the castle and recovered at a convent, she travels to Romania to marry him. In his fury, Dracula transforms Lucy into a vampire. Van Helsing, Holmwood, Seward and Morris kill Lucy out of mercy the following night.
After Jonathan and Mina return to London, Jonathan and Van Helsing lead the others to Carfax Abbey, where they destroy the Count’s boxes of soil. Dracula enters the asylum, where he kills Renfield for warning Mina of his presence. He visits Mina, who is staying in Seward’s quarters while the others hunt Dracula, and confesses that he murdered Lucy and has been terrorizing Mina’s friends. A confused and angry Mina admits that she still loves him and remembers her previous life as Elisabeta. At her insistence, Dracula begins transforming her into a vampire. The hunters burst into the bedroom, and Dracula claims Mina as his bride before escaping. As Mina changes, Van Helsing hypnotizes her and learns via her connection with Dracula that he is sailing home in his last remaining box. The hunters depart for Varna to intercept him, but Dracula reads Mina’s mind and evades them. The hunters split up; Van Helsing and Mina travel to the Borgo Pass and the castle, while the others try to stop the gypsies transporting the Count.
At night, Van Helsing and Mina are approached by Dracula’s brides. They frighten Mina at first, but she gives into their chanting and attempts to seduce Van Helsing. Before Mina can feed on his blood, Van Helsing places a communion wafer upon her forehead, leaving a mark. He surrounds them with a ring of fire to protect them from the brides, then infiltrates the castle and decapitates them the following morning. As sunset approaches, Dracula’s carriage arrives at the castle, pursued by the hunters. A fight between the hunters and gypsies ensues. Morris is stabbed in the back during the fight and at sunset Dracula bursts from his coffin. Harker slits his throat while a wounded Morris stabs him in the heart with a Bowie knife. As Dracula staggers, Mina rushes to his defense. Holmwood tries to attack but Van Helsing and Harker allow her to retreat with the Count. Morris dies, surrounded by his friends.
In the chapel where he renounced God, Dracula lies dying in an ancient demonic form. He asks Mina to give him peace. They share a kiss as the candles adorning the chapel light up, Dracula turns back to his younger self, and Mina shoves the knife through his heart. The mark on her forehead disappears as Dracula’s curse is lifted. She decapitates him, and finally gazes up at the fresco of Vlad and Elisabeta ascending to Heaven together.
A stylish production that does not cut any corners in terms of substance, this superb retelling of the story of Bram Stoker’s lengthy novel, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dracula” stands as one of the most ravishing and enduring films in cinematic history.