REVIEW: STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT

CAST

Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The GIft)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Gates McFadden (Crowned and Dangerous)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Alice Krige (Silent Hill)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Jack Shearer (End of Days)
Eric Steinberg (Stargate SG.1)
Patti Yasutake (Gung Ho)
Majel Barrett (Earth: Final Conflict)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)

Captain Jean-Luc Picard wakes from a nightmare in which he relived his assimilation by the cybernetic Borg six years earlier (shown in the television episode “The Best of Both Worlds”). Starfleet informs him of a new Borg attack against Earth, but orders the USS Enterprise-E to patrol the Romulan Neutral Zone so as not to introduce an “unstable element” to the fight. Learning that the fleet is losing the battle, the Enterprise crew disobeys orders and heads for Earth, where a single, damaged Borg Cube opposes a group of Starfleet vessels. The Enterprise arrives in time to save the crew of the USS Defiant, which is being commanded by Lieutenant Commander Worf. After Picard hears Borg communications in his mind, he orders the fleet to concentrate its firepower on a seemingly non-vital section of the Borg ship. The Cube is destroyed after launching a smaller sphere ship towards the planet.

The Borg sphere generates and enters a temporal vortex. As the Enterprise is enveloped in the vortex, the crew briefly glimpses an Earth populated entirely by Borg. Picard realizes that the Borg have used time travel to change history, and orders the Enterprise to follow. The Enterprise arrives in the past, on April 4, 2063, the day before humanity’s first encounter with alien life after Zefram Cochrane’s historic warp flight. The Borg sphere fires on the planet; the Enterprise crew then destroy the sphere and, realizing that the Borg were trying to prevent first contact, send an away team to the Montana missile complex where Cochrane is building his ship, the Phoenix, to look for survivors. Picard sends Cochrane’s assistant Lily Sloane to the Enterprise for medical attention, then returns to the ship and leaves Commander William Riker on Earth to make sure the Phoenix’s flight proceeds as planned. The Enterprise crew sees Cochrane as a legend, but the real man is reluctant to assume his historical role.

Borg survivors invade the Enterprise, and begin to assimilate its crew and modify the ship, planning to use it to attack and conquer Earth. Picard and a team attempt to reach engineering to disable the Borg with corrosive coolant used in the warp core, but the android Data is captured and meets the queen of the Borg Collective, who gains his trust by giving part of him human skin. A frightened Sloane seizes the captain but he gains her trust, and they escape the Borg-infested area of the ship by using the holodeck. Picard, Worf, and the ship’s navigator, Lieutenant Hawk, stop the Borg from calling reinforcements with the deflector dish, but Hawk is assimilated. As the Borg continue to assimilate, Worf suggests destroying the ship, but Picard angrily calls him a coward and vows to continue the fight. Sloane confronts the captain and, reminding him of Moby-Dick’s Captain Ahab, makes him realize his own irrational behavior. Picard activates the ship’s self-destruct mechanism, orders the crew to abandon ship, and then apologizes to Worf. While the crew heads to escape pods, Picard remains aboard to rescue Data.

As Cochrane, Riker, and engineer Geordi La Forge prepare to activate the warp drive on the Phoenix, Picard confronts the Borg Queen and discovers she has grafted human skin onto Data, giving him an array of new sensations. She has presented this modification as a gift to the android, hoping to obtain his encryption codes to the Enterprise computer. Although Picard offers himself in Data’s place, the android refuses to leave. He deactivates the self-destruct sequence and fires torpedoes at the Phoenix, but they miss and the Queen realizes Data has betrayed her. Data ruptures a coolant tank, and the corrosive substance fatally dissolves the Borg’s biological components. Cochrane completes his warp flight, and that night, April 5, 2063, the crew watches as Vulcans, attracted by the Phoenix warp flight, land and greet Cochrane. Having repaired history, the Enterprise crew returns to the 24th century.This film has it all. A well-conceived, intricate and dramatic plot, excellent acting, fantastic special effects, and real emotion on-screen. Picard’s chilling “the line must be drawn here” monologue to Lily represents a scene with such dramatic quality that is rarely seen in science-fiction films. You can completely suspend disbelief and feel the anger, the pain, the sheer hunger for revenge in this broken man. You are there with him, the future of humanity is on the line, and not for a second will you think otherwise.

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REVIEW: STAR TREK: VOYAGER – SEASON 1-7

 

voyagerMAIN CAST

Kate Mulgrew (Lovepsell)
Robert Beltran (Big Love)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Robert Duncan McNeill (Masters of The Universe)
Roxann Dawson (Darkman III)
Garrett Wang (Into The West)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Jennifer Lien (Ameircan History X)
Jeri Ryan (Arrow)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Majel Barrett (Earth: Final Conflict)
Martha Hackett (Leprechaun 2)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers LIghtspeed Rescue)
Anthony De Longis (Highlander: The Series)
Marjorie Monaghan  (Andromeda)
Brian Markinson (Izombie)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Rob LaBelle (Dark Angel)
Thomas Dekker (Terminator: TSCC)
John Rubinstein (Legends of Tomorrow)
Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue)
Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master 3)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Nancy Hower (Catch and Release)
Jack Shearer (End of Days)
Gary Graham (Alien Nation)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Joel Grey (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Rick Worthy (Collateral Damage)
Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon A Time)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Gerrit Graham (Child’s Play 2)
John De Lancie (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)
Carel Struycken (The Addams Family)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Michael McKean (Smallville)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
George Takei (Heroes)
Grace Lee Whitney (60s Batman)
Michael Ansara (Batman: TAS)
Robert Prine (V)
James Parks (Django Unchained)
Estelle Harris (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Keene Curtis (Stargate SG.1)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Sarah Silverman (A Million Ways To Die In The West)
Ed Begley jr. (Veronica Mars)
Brad Greenquist (Alias)
Galyn Gorg (Robocop 2)
Harve Presnell (Lois & Clark)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Alan Openheimer (Transformers)
Kristanna Loken (Bloodrayne)
Jessica Collins (True Calling)
Rachael Harris (New Girl)
Wendy Schaal (American Dad)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Rosemary Forsyth (Disclosure)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Rebecca McFarland (Two and a Half Men)
Judson Scott (V)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Mark Metcalf (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Virginia Madsen (Highlander 2)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Zach Galligan (Gremlins)
Kate Vernon (Battlestar Galactica)
Tucker Smallwood (Traffic)
Ray Walston (The Sting)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Scarlett Pomers (Reba)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Mark Harelik (The Big Bang Theory)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The Gift)
Musetta Vander (Stargate SG.1)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Ron Canada (Just Like Heaven)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Kevin Tighe (Lost)
Bradley Pierce (Jumanji)
Titus Welliver (Agents of SHIELD)
John Savage (Dark Angel)
Jonathan Breck (Jeepers Creepers)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien NAtion)
Claire Rankin (Stargate: Atlantis)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Mimi Craven  (A NIghtmare on Elm Street)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Richard Herd (V)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Obi Ndefo (Angel)
Lindsey Ginter (Hercules: TLJ)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frightners)
Dwayne Johnson (Fast & Furious 7)
J.G. Hertzler (Roswell)
Manu Intiraymi  (Go)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Mark Sheppard (Firefly)
Tony Amendola (Annabelle)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Tamara Craig Thomas (Odyssey 5)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Keith Szarabajka (Angel)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
John Franklin (Children of The Corn)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Robert Axelrod (Power Rangers)
Sherman Howard (Superbo)
Robert Joy (Amityville 3)
Alice Krige (Children of Dune)

Star Trek: Voyager is a great series to watch. The initial concept of the show is pretty simple: USS Voyager is taken to the delta quadrant against there will and are stranded there – leaving them no choice to but to embark on a long and dangerous journey home.

The Voyager series brings in a lot of new and old ideas about the star trek universe. The new idea of having a holographic doctor and being able to send him on away-missions is a very complex and entertaining idea. The idea of two opposing factions banding together to work as one crew is new. However, some old ideas do still remain for example the unattractive uniforms, colour designations, button sounds and the weakness of their ship.

The cast is full of good actors. At first the characters were green and so was the acting, but by the second season the characters and acting seemed to flow much better. Captain Jane-way certainly looks and feels like a leader and her choices are often made by seeking advice from other crew members, but some of her decisions are startlingly dark and immoral. There were a lot of recurring minor roles for actors and they brought a unique feel to the show.

One of the best things I like about this series is that it gets very technical, but is also dumbed-down enough to make sure the ordinary lay-man (like myself) can still understand what’s going on. The addition of Seven of Nine was a great idea. Jeri Ryan brought in a great sex appeal and added further to the technical stand-points in the show. I fully enjoyed learning a lot about the Borg. It is one of the species I was most interested in.
If you want to know about the Borg, this is the series to watch. Also, this series is very dark. At some points I had shed some tears. Rick Berman was shooting for a darker Star Trek and he made it happen. Overall, this is a wonderful show. It outlines betrayal, morality, trust, honor and integrity. Each episode takes you on journey to learning a new life lesson.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – SEASON 1-7

Image result for star trek the next generation logo

MAIN CAST

Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Joanthan Frakes (Roswell)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The Gift)
Denise Corsby (Dolly Dearest)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Gates McFadden (Franklin & Bash)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Diana Muldaur (Born Free)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

DeForest Kelley (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral)
John De Lancie (The Secret Circle)
Michael Bell (Tangled)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Elektra)
Brooke Bundy (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 & 4)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
Robert Knepper (Izombie)
Carel Struycken (The Addams Family)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Carolyn McCormick (Enemy Mine)
Katy Boyer (The Island)
Michael Pataki (Rocky IV)
Brenda Strong (Supergirl)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Judson Scott (Blade)
Merritt Butrick (Fright Night: Part 2)
Leon Rippy (Stargate)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th – Part 8)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
Ray Walston (The Sting)
Whoppi Godlberg (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Chris Latta (G.I.Joe)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Billy Campbell (The Rocketeer)
Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Clyde Kusatsu (Doctor Strange 70s)
Paddi Edwards (Halloween III)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Robert Duncan McNeill (Masters of The Universe)
Mitchell Ryan (Lethal Weapon)
Nikki Cox (Las Vegas)
Lycia Naff (Total Recall)
Robert Costanzo (Batman: TAS)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Scott Grimes (American Dad)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Andreas Katsulas (Babylon 5)
Simon Templeton (James Bond Jr.)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Corbin Bernsen (The Tomorrow Man)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Tricia O’ Neil (Titanic)
Hallie Todd (Sabrina: TTW)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13)
Mark Lenard (Planet of The Apes TV)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Elizabeth Dennehy (Gattaca)
George Murodck (Battlestar Galactica)
Jeremy Kemp (Conan)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
BethToussaint (Fortress 2)
April Grace (Lost)
Patti Yasutake (The Closer)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
Bebe Neuwirth (Jumanji)
Rosalind Chao (Freaky Friday)
Jennifer Hetrick (L.A. Law)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
David Ogden Stiers (Tweo Guys and a Girl)
Gwyneth walsh (Taken)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)
Ashley Judd (Divergent)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
Malachi Thorne (Batman 60s)
Daniel Roebuck (Lost)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Ed Lauter (The Number 23)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Shay Astar (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Thomas Kopache (Stigmata)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Alexander Enberg (Junior)
Lanei Chapman (Rat Race)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Stephanie Beacham (The Colbys)
Reg E. Cathey (Fantastic Four)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Richard Herd (V)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Salome Jens (Superboy)
Andrew Prine (V)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Robin Curtis (General Hospital)
Julie Caitlin Brown (Babylon 5)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring it On)
Lee Arenberg (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Fionnula Flanagan (Lost)
Mark Bramhall (Alias)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Bones)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)

When the TNG series premiered in 1987, it wasn’t greeted well by many of the old-time Trek fans, including myself. It didn’t help matters that one of the earliest episodes, “The Naked Now” was a superficial retread of the classic “The Naked Time” from ’66. The new episode should have served as a way of spotlighting several of the new crew, but all it did was show them all in heat. I wasn’t too impressed. What did work was keeping the central theme of exploration (something lost in the offshoots, DS9 & Voyager). The new Enterprise was twice as large as the original, with about a thousand personnel aboard. Capt. Picard (Stewart) was a more cerebral, diplomatic version of the ultimate explorer we had known as Capt. Kirk. Again, Picard wasn’t too impressive in the first two awkward seasons, as some may mistake his caution for weakness. The Kirk-like first officer Riker (Frakes) was controlled by Picard, so the entire crew of Enterprise-D came across as a bit too civilized, too complacent for their own good. It’s interesting that this complacency was fractured by the most memorable episode of the first two years, “Q Who?” which introduced The Borg. All of a sudden, exploration was not a routine venture.

Other memorable episodes of the first 2 years: the double-length pilot, introducing Q; “Conspiracy”-an early invasion thriller; “Where No One Has Gone Before”-an ultimate attempt to define the exploring theme; “The Big Goodbye”-the first lengthy exploration of the new holodeck concept; “Datalore”-intro of Data’s evil twin; “Skin of Evil”-death of Tasha Yar; “11001001”-perhaps the best holodeck story; and “The Measure of a Man”-placing an android on trial. Except for “Q Who” the 2nd year was even more of a letdown from the first. Space started to percolate in the 3rd season. I liked “The Survivors”-introducing an entity resembling Q in a depressed mood, and “Deja Q” with both Q & Guinan squaring off, as well as other alien beings. A remaining drawback was the ‘techno-babble’ hindering many scripts, an aspect which made them less exciting than the stories of the original series. As Roddenberry himself believed, when characters spoke this way, it did not come across as naturalistic, except maybe when it was Data (Spiner), the android. The engineer La Forge (Burton), for example, was usually saddled with long, dull explanatory dialog for the audience.

In the 3rd year, truly innovative concepts such as the far-out parallel-universe adventure “Yesterday’s Enterprise” began to take hold, topped by the season-ender “The Best of Both Worlds,part 1” in which The Borg returned in their first try at assimilating Earth. After this and the 2nd part, the TNG show was off and running, at full warp speed. There are too many great episodes from the next 4 seasons to list here, but I tended to appreciate the wild, cosmic concept stories best: “Parallels”(s7); “Cause and Effect”(s5); “Timescape”(s6); “Tapestry”(s6); and the scary “Frame of Mind”, “Schisms” and “Genesis.” There’s also the mind-blowing “Inner Light”(s5), “Conundrum” and “Ship in a Bottle”(s6), “Second Chances.” The intense 2-parter “Chain of Command” was almost like a film, and the great return of Scotty in “Relics” was very entertaining, though it showed you can’t go home again. The show also continued to tackle uneasy social issues, as in “The Host”, “The Outcast”, “First Contact” and “The Drumhead” as well as political:”Darmok”, “Rightful Heir”, “Face of the Enemy” and “The Pegasus.” The series ended on a strong note, “All Good Things…” a double-length spectacular with nearly the budget of a feature film. But it wasn’t really the end. A few months later, an actual feature film was released “Star Trek Generations”(94). It’s rather ironic that the TNG films couldn’t match the innovation and creativity of the last 4 seasons of the series. “Star Trek Insurrection”(98) for example, is a lesser effort than any of the episodes mentioned above.

REVIEW: VAN HELSING: THE LONDON ASSIGNMENT

 

CAST (VOICES)

Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine)
David Wenham (Lord of The Rings)
Robbie Coltrane (Harry Potter)
Grey Griffin (Adventure Time)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)

Monster hunter, Gabriel Van Helsing and friar Carl travel to London to investigate a series of horrific, and decidedly supernatural murders, being committed by the mad scientist Dr. Jekyll, in the form of his evil alter-ego, Mr. Hyde. When tracing Hyde to his underground fortress, Van Helsing and Carl find a young woman who claims to be Queen Victoria, and they discover that Dr. Jekyll is in love with the Queen. In order to keep her young and thus immortal, she has been given a potion by Dr. Jekyll that turns her into a young woman for one night. But, in order to create the potion which causes the transformations, Dr. Jekyll needs the drained souls of his freshly killed victims and thus the killings will never stop. Dr. Jekyll then kidnaps Victoria, using the Golden Jubilee Balloon to escape.Van Helsing uses his grappling gun to follow the balloon then proceeds to board it. In the balloon, Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde to kill Van Helsing and crashes the Balloon in the process. While fighting on the in-construction Tower Bridge, Mr. Hyde is shot through the arm but manages to escape. Upon returning Victoria to Buckingham Palace, Van Helsing says that daybreak will break the enchantment, returning her to her real age. To reward him, Victoria kisses him, at the precise moment of daybreak, causing her old-self to slap him and call for guards.Van Helsing sends word back to Vatican City about what has happened while he tracks Jekyll to Paris.All in all, a very good film, though my only complaint is that it finishes just a little too soon (It is only 32 minutes long.) However it makes up with this by including the most thorough version of the making of Van Helsing. Plus we get a trailer for the game, as well as a making for the game too. If you’ve already seen the film, and loved it, then you must definitely buy this! You’ll love it as just as much!

 

REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2012) – SEASON 4.1

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth Green (Family Guy)
Sean Astin (Lord of The Rings)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs)
Mae Whiteman (Independence Day)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Josh Peck (Drake & Josh)
Hoon Lee (Banshee)
Image result for teenage mutant ninja turtles 2012 logo
GUEST CAST (VOICES)

David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Peter Stormare (22 Jump Street)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Zelda Williams (Were The World Mine)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Jim Piddock (The Prestige)
Eric Bauza (Ben 10)
Charlie Murphy (Norbit)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Kate Micucci (The Big Bang Theory)
Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin)
Cassandra Peterson (Elvira’s Movie Macabre)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)

When this show was first announced I was a bit skeptical. For one is was being released by nickelodeon. I thought that was awesome, but on the other hand it was part of that lackluster CGI cartoon gimmick so I wasn’t overly fond of the art style.
When I finally got the chance to see it any doubts I had were gone. Having grown up with both previous cartoons and the three live- action movies I’ve gotta say this is so far the best thing that bares the novelty of the Ninja Turtles. Although like I said earlier I’m not overly fond of the art style, but I can look around that if the story and characters are good, and luckily they are.
All the classic characters are represented very well; The Turtles, Splinter and The Shredder the whole lot. And I have to hand it to the creators because for the first time the character of April O’Neill is actually believable. I’m sorry for any hardcore fans out there but I’ve never believed April in previous works. I don’t think in reality a head strong business woman would hang out with a bunch of teenage mutants in the sewers. So yeah I really like teenager April sue me.
It’s nice to see that there is finally something I’m that is both fun and satisfying for a life long turtle fan to exist. Because where the new live action movie failed the new cartoon succeeded. And I glad I have such a great show to fall back on.Season 4 takes over from the third season with the Turtles heading into space to stop the Tricerton army, with adventuresses and some excellent guest stars this is a must see volume.

REVIEW: THE ANIMATRIX

CAST (VOICES)

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

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

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


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

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

 

REVIEW: BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD

CAST
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad)
Carlos Alazraqui (Happy Feet)
Gary Cole (Chuck)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

For several years now, the sticky underbelly of Gotham has been reigned over by a disfigured crimelord known only as Black Mask. There’s a new player in town, though…someone who’s seizing hold of Gotham’s drug trade. This masked man — the latest in a long series to have taken the mantle of The Red Hood — institutes his own set of rules. He demands a massive cut of the profits, and anyone caught selling to kids will be gunned down, no questions asked. It’s still a better deal than the competition is offering…enough to throttle Black Mask’s plans to claw his way up to the big leagues as an international arms smuggler. None of this escapes Batman, but strangely, even though the Red Hood has a strangehold on the distribution of drugs in Gotham City, crime as a whole has dropped. It’s as if Red Hood has established himself as the new Dark Knight, but rather than stamping out every trace of crime he comes across, he’s allowing it to exist on his own terms. He has the razor-sharp intellect, startlingly fast reflexes, and impressive arsenal of Batman but without a moral compass to stand in the way. Whoever’s underneath the hood has some connection to that night five years ago…to the murder of Jason Todd, but who…? Is it the Joker, the first man to torment Gotham as the Red Hood? International terrorist Ra’s al Ghul? A nameless flunky who happened to be in the right place at the right time and has only now decided to dethrone Black Mask? Whoever it is, he’s out for blood, and many will die before it’s all over…

Under the Red Hood shouldn’t be shrugged off as a kids’ movie, wholly earning its PG-13 rating. Literally a minute into the film, a teenage boy is savagely beaten with a crowbar. Later, an assassin’s masked head explodes. One thug is wholly engulfed in flames, and another has his eyes gouged out. The Red Hood makes his first entrance by throwing down a duffle bag filled with severed heads. Blood is caked across the ground and walls. The body count is massive. Nothing in the DC animated universe has approached this sort of brutality since Return of the Joker ten full years ago. With its emphasis so intensely oriented around action, the pacing throughout Under the Red Hood screams from the first frame to the last. The movie doesn’t have the same sort of rich emotional core that makes Mask of the Phantasm and Return of the Joker such exceptional stories, no, but its approach to action is second to none. Bolstered by its impressively fluid animation, the fights showcased throughout Under the Red Hood are spectacularly well-choreographed.

Under the Red Hood doesn’t get too distracted by the whodunnit angle. Anyone who’s been reading any of the Batman books over the past few years already knows whose face it is under the mask, and considering the way the movie opens, there’s really only one person it could be. The identity of the current Red Hood is essentially revealed a half-hour in and is definitively confirmed ten minutes later. That’s a wise move, allowing the movie to better focus on developing strengths elsewhere rather than hinging too heavily on a last-minute twist. There’s a lot going on here — a fairly large cast…a story that spans quite a number of years — and the writing’s sharp enough to juggle it all without ever feeling excessively