REVIEW: SAW VI

CAST

Tobin Bell (Boogeyman 2)
Costas Mandylor (Bite)
Mark Rolston (The Departed)
Betsy Russell (Knock ‘Em Dead)
Shawnee Smith (Anger Management)
Peter Outerbridge (Lucky Number Slevin)
Athena Karkanis (The Lottery)
Samantha Lemole (Legally Blonde)
Tanedra Howard (Off The Track)
George Newbern (Scandal)
Darius McCrary (Transformers)
Karen Cliche (Mutant X)
Mpho Koaho (Falling Skies)
Bahar Soomekh (Crash)

Two predatory lenders awaken on either side of a room split by a caged-in scale, wearing head harnesses with screws poised to pierce their temples. The one who sets more flesh weight upon their tray will survive. Eddie cuts fat from his torso, but Simone chops off her arm, and Eddie is killed when the timer expires. As he reviews the game’s footage, Detective Lieutenant Mark Hoffman is called to the scene by FBI Agent Dan Erickson, who has found Peter Strahm’s fingerprints. Also present is Lindsey Perez, whose survival was covered up by Erickson for her protection. They learn from Dr. Adam Heffner, the coroner who performed all of the autopsies for the case thus far, that the knife used to cut the jigsaw piece from Eddie’s flesh was only used once before, on Seth Baxter. The agents intend to find the Baxter videotape to prove Strahm’s involvement.While at the hospital to meet with Simone, Hoffman is met by reporter Pamela Jenkins, who claims to have found something at the meatpacking plant. He later meets with Jill Tuck at her clinic and takes control of the games, and is given five envelopes from the box left to her in John Kramer’s will, each containing photos of people to be tested. After he leaves, a flashback reveals that Kramer brought Amanda Young to Jill, who had deemed her a lost cause, as proof of his methods. A later flashback, as Jill delivers a package from the box to the hospital, shows that Jill met with Kramer at the plant hours before his death, where he gave her the box’s key and his promise that she would be protected when the games ended.William Easton, an insurance executive for Umbrella Health, meets with Debbie, the company’s attorney, about Harold Abbott, who succumbed to heart disease after his coverage request was denied due to an application discrepancy. Hoffman abducts Easton from his office that night and brings him to an abandoned zoo, where he and his janitor, Hank, awaken in vises designed to tighten around their torsos each time they breathe into oxygen masks strapped to their faces. Kramer himself appears in a videotape and informs Easton that he has one hour to complete four tests and remove the bombs strapped to his limbs, or he will lose his family. Hank, a heavy smoker, is unable to hold his breath for long and is killed by the vise. Easton’s other tests force him to save his workers from traps, including a hanging room, a steam room, and a carousel. It is shown that Kramer met Easton at the opening of Jill’s clinic and took issue with his formula. After his cancer was diagnosed, Kramer’s coverage request for an experimental Norwegian treatment was rejected by Easton.The game is viewed by a woman named Tara and her son Brent from a cage below the observation room, which contains a tank of hydrofluoric acid and a switch marked “Live” and “Die”. Pamela awakens in another cage on the other side of the room. During the game, Hoffman is called away by Erickson and Perez, who found the Baxter videotape and are having it unscrambled by an offsite technician. They inform him that abnormalities were found in Strahm’s fingerprints, and Erickson eventually reveals their knowledge of Strahm’s death. The moment his voice is unscrambled, Hoffman attacks and kills everyone in the room, plants fingerprints using Strahm’s severed hand, and lights the room on fire to destroy the evidence.He returns to the observation room and finds the letter he’d written to Amanda, in which he’d used his knowledge of her role in Jill’s miscarriage to blackmail her into killing Lynn Denlon. The letter was found by Pamela and given to Jill, who uses it to ambush Hoffman as Easton reaches the end of his path with one second left, finding himself between the cages. It is revealed that Pamela is his sister, while Tara and Brent are Harold’s family. Tara is informed by a videotape of Kramer that she can either kill Easton or free him using the switch; when she is unable to make a decision, Brent angrily shifts the switch and a bed of needles swings down and injects Easton’s body with the acid, killing him. Jill restrains Hoffman and locks a new reverse bear trap to his head. She shows him the sixth envelope, which contains his photo, and leaves him with 45 seconds but no key. Hoffman escapes by breaking his hand and jamming the trap as it activates, and he pulls his head free, ripping open his cheek.Overall, Saw VI was incredibly well done. The story and pacing was perfect. The acting from the main cast (Tobin Bell, Betsy Russell, Costas Mandylor, Shawnee Smith, and Peter Outerbridge) was great. The traps were disturbing as hell.  Saw VI Director Kevin Greutert (editor of the first five installments) really did an astounding job.

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REVIEW: SUPERMAN/SHAZAM: THE RETURN OF BLACK ADAM

 

 

CAST

George Newborn (Justice League)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy)
Zach Callison (Steven Universe)
James Garner (The Notebook)
Josh Keaton (Justice Legaue Action)
Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

The film opens with a young couple sitting in their car on a hillside outside of the city as an apparent meteor streaks across the sky and smashes into the couple’s car. It is revealed that that meteorite is actually Black Adam, returning to Earth after a long exile. The film then cuts to young Billy Batson living in a rundown slum, with very little food and rats for pets. He gets out of bed wearing a t-shirt with the Superman crest. He goes to the kitchen to find food, but discovers he only has potato chips, which he ends up feeding to the rats.

On his way to meet with Clark Kent in a nearby diner, he sees some bullies mugging a homeless man. After attempting to defend the man, Billy himself receives a black eye. The homeless man thanks Billy for his intervention, calling him “The Captain”. Billy tells him that he always tries to do the right thing. Billy gives him the only thing of value he has – a subway token.

At the diner, Clark buys the boy three breakfasts, and tells him he wants to write a story to bring his plight, and those in his same situation, to public light. He tells Mr. Kent that he tries to be good no matter what. As the conversation continues, neither notice that Black Adam has appeared, hovering outside the diner. He claps his hands together, blowing a hole in the side of the diner. Clark attempts to protect the boy, but a blow from Black Adam sends him through several walls. He emerges from beneath the rubble and quickly changes into Superman. Adam stalks young Billy through the streets stating his surprise over the Wizard’s choice to become the next Marvel, but Billy does not know what he means. Black Adam picks up a fire engine to smash Billy, but Superman intervenes and blocks the blow. While Billy makes good his escape, Superman gets a blast of electricity from Black Adam. After recovering he realizes Adam’s powers are magically based, and he is vulnerable. This vulnerability puts Superman and Adam at an equal footing. Black Adam uses magic to his advantage, but Superman responds with powers the magical being doesn’t have – i.e. heat vision. After briefly getting Superman out of the way, Black Adam continues his pursuit of Billy, who runs into the subway, again encountering the homeless man he helped earlier. The man gives him a subway token, telling him he would be paid back. Billy runs out onto the tracks, with Black Adam still in pursuit. Billy is caught on the tracks when a train apparently runs Billy over, causing Adam to leave. Billy awakens to find he is on an empty subway car. The token begins to glow and he begins to crackle with lightning. In the lightning, Billy sees flashes of his life, including his parents’ headstone, the orphanage, and his foster parents who throw him out, leaving him on the streets.

He gets off of the subway car at the next stop, but finds himself in a gigantic cave with statues of the Seven Deadly Sins. Billy finds his way to the Wizard Shazam who tells the boy that he is the next Chosen One. He explains that Black Adam had been his champion 5000 years ago, but Teth-Adam had used his power for personal gain and corrupted the gift. He was then banished to the farthest star in the sky, and now Black Adam has returned seeking vengeance. The Wizard then causes a cave in, telling him that he wishes to atone for the mistake of creating Black Adam, but tells Billy that should he need him, he has only to speak the Wizard’s name. Billy narrowly escapes the cave as it collapses.  Outside, the battle rages between Superman and Black Adam. Superman is barely able to hold his own against the magic used. Superman is again knocked unconscious. Billy confronts Black Adam and defiantly tells Adam to leave Superman alone. He tries to hit an amused Black Adam. Billy anxiously shouts “I need a little help here, Shazam”, which transforms Billy into Captain Marvel. He quickly counters Adam’s attacks with his newfound abilities. Billy has only a few minutes to discover his powers; i.e. speed, strength and flight. He also discovers that randomly saying the Wizard’s name takes the powers away just as quickly.

A recovered Superman is unsure of what to make of this new superhuman, but they soon discover they are on the same side. Black Adam resorts to destroying a dam which threatens to flood Fawcett City. Landing, Black Adam stops a passing car, removing its female driver to hold as a hostage. He tells Billy he must surrender himself in his mortal form, and he will release the woman. Billy complies, and Black Adam throws the hostage into the sky. But before Billy can say his magic word, Black Adam covers his mouth to silence him. From out of nowhere, Adam is blasted by Superman’s heat vision. He stopped the potential flooding after quickly freezing the water with his super cold breath. Superman and Black Adam begin fighting again, but Billy is now able to utter the magic word. Adam is beaten by Marvel who stomps him into a crater in the street. Superman talks the Captain out of murdering Adam to prevent further acts of evil. Adam declares that only death will stop him. The homeless man appears once again and reveals himself to be the boy’s guardian angel Tawky Tawny. Tawky reverts to his true form as a tiger and tells Superman and Captain Marvel that he will make sure the Wizard will send Black Adam far across the universe this time; it will take ten thousand years to return. To keep from being banished even farther from Earth, Black Adam shouts “Shazam” which turns him back into the mortal Teth-Adam, whose body has aged during the thousands years he has been gone. He turns to dust in front of the two superheroes. It was an apparent bluff, as Tawny admits the Wizard is indeed dead. As Tawny walks away, Superman looks at Captain Marvel and says “You have some unusual friends.” Billy finds himself encountering the bullies again in the alley as before. The bullies push Billy against a wall, and defiantly dare him to talk back; daring him to say “…just one word.” To which, it is implied through the appearance of lightning, Billy replies “Shazam…”.This movie was animated very well and the character models were very good. The overall appearance, especially the backgrounds, had a slightly hazy, washed-out look to them at times, giving it an almost anime-style look. They do some really cool animation during the fights between Superman/Marvel and Black Adam, such as some slow motion effects during a couple of the really hard hits, that really punctuate the impact. The voice acting and choices of the actors were quite good (especially Arnold Vosloo as Black Adam),  I’ve always thought Black Adam was a really cool bad guy, and his personality and voice were pretty much as I’ve always envisioned them to be, and I thought the ending was particularly interesting and surprising.

 

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE: THRONE OF ATLANTIS

CAST (VOICES)

Sean Astin (Cabin Fever 3)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty)
Matt Lanter (Disaster Movie)
Sumalee Montano (Beware The Batman)
Shermar Moore (Birds of Prey)
Jerry O’Connell (Mockingbird Lane)
Jason O’Mara (Resident Evil: Retribution)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)

In the Atlantic Ocean, the USS California submarine picks up incoming human-like threats approaching the sub by sonar. The sub is attacked, leaving the entire crew dead by the invading hostiles. At S.T.A.R. Labs’ Justice League headquarters, Cyborg, who has recently received environmental upgrades in an operation that replacing his remaining lung, is given news by Colonel Steve Trevor, the liaison for the Justice League, over the sunken sub. Cyborg decides to check it himself, deciding against Trevor’s idea of calling the other superheroes, as he puts it “there is no Justice League”, feeling there is truly no unity to them as they have never come to help each other since Darkseid’s invasion. At Mercy Reef in Maine, Arthur Curry, drunk over the recent death of his father, picks a fight with a group of tough guys over them wanting to eat the lobster Arthur was talking to. He defeats them using inhuman strength and when the last man tries to stab him, his knife breaks into pieces against Arthur’s chest. After throwing him into the ocean, Arthur leaves, unaware that he is being watched by Mera and Dr. Shin. Cyborg uses a Boom Tube to teleport down to the sunken sub and discovers hand prints on the hull and that several nuclear missiles are missing from the launch bays. He is then attacked by the same hostiles that attacked the sub and suffers damage to his servos through his escape, though manages to take a knife-like weapon off one of his attackers when they stab him with it.

Back at their HQ, Cyborg gets help from Flash and Shazam to get Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern, leaving Batman the last one remaining. Green Lantern decides to head to Gotham City to get Batman, who is currently chasing henchmen of the Scarecrow. Green Lantern captures them for Batman, but Batman is angry as he needed them to head to where Scarecrow was and about his plot against Gotham’s City Hall. With the entire team together, they check the raised sub and Cyborg’s assault. They realize the enemy is not related to Darkseid but warriors from Earth’s origin. Thanks to Diana’s knowledge, she reveals these warriors are from Atlantis, beings saved from death after their land sunk into the ocean after being turned into underwater creatures by their king’s mystical trident, after seeing the weapon Cyborg was stabbed with, with the theory of war related to the missing missiles. Using Shazam’s suggestion, Superman and Batman decide to meet Atlantis-expert Dr. Shin, while the others are tasked in finding Atlantis.

At Atlantis, Prince Orm and Black Manta, the latter of whom secretly accompanied Dr. Shin when he was watching Arthur disguised as a man named David, meet with Orm’s mother, Queen Atlanna. They argue over declaring war on the surface world because of the damage during the events of Darkseid’s attack, with Atlanna saying that the volcano that killed Orm’s father the king, was due to Darkseid’s forces while Orm says it was the Justice League’s fight with Darkseid that killed him. Orm also says that the humans polluting the Earth will eventually destroy it and Atlantis in the process, which he believes is a reason to attack them first. Atlanna silences Orm with the Trident of Neptune, the king’s trident of the Atlantean legend with immeasurable powers, which seem electrically based, that can only be accessed by Atlantean royalty and asks Mera to bring Arthur, her other son, to Atlantis.Black Manta uses a craft holographically disguised as a submarine to attack Atlantis using the same stolen missiles, framing the surface for their “unprovoked” attack. Arthur answers the door to Dr. Shin, who tries to tell him that his father contacted him before his death to help Arthur. Moments later, Dr. Shin is killed by Atlantean soldiers sent by Black Manta. Arthur is overwhelmed by the attack, being knocked out and blasted out of his collapsing house, until he is saved by Mera, who dispatches the soldiers by using her control over water and its density, and taken underwater. Batman and Superman enter Dr. Shin’s home discovering that his work is destroyed. Superman recreates a photograph of Arthur Curry and a letter from his father revealing that his son is half-Atlantean.Batman decides they must find him. The attack on Atlantis leads the citizens and Orm to demand for war and to break the seal on war plans created by the former king in the event of conflict with the surface. Queen Atlanna decides that they might need to reveal themselves after centuries of being hidden and contact the Justice League. Arthur wakes up with gills on his neck in underwater Atlantean ruins with Mera, who explains his situation. Atlanna met Arthur’s father and gave birth to him. Due to her being royal, she could not be with him nor Arthur, so she had to leave to be with her king and Orm, though she still loved Arthur greatly and had even been watching Arthur when he was a child. Arthur had once encountered Atlanna when he was swimming by the shore. Now, Atlanna believes Arthur can help Atlantis be the bridge between the two worlds. Mera then dresses him with the kings royal garb, hidden by Atlanna inside the ruins. Arthur, having difficulty process the situation, removes the armor and crown from his garb, leaving only the orange and green Atlantean bodysuit underneath, and heads to surface with Mera following him. Soon, they are attacked by the Trench. The creatures overwhelm Arthur, one of them even biting his hand, making him bleed. The Justice League arrives in time to defeat the Trench. Orm hears from Black Manta that the Trench failed to kill Arthur. Orm and Queen Atlanna argue because Orm wants to start a war as per his late father’s wishes and reveals his knowledge of Arthur Curry. Queen Atlanna reveals to him that she knows he attacked Atlantis. With this news, Black Manta confronts the queen, but is overpowered due to her trident. Orm then stabs her from behind, killing her and taking over Atlantis as the new king.Arthur, Mera, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Cyborg arrive at Atlantis and learn of Queen Atlanna’s death, the Atlantean people being under the impression that a surface dweller killed her. The heroes are then defeated by Orm, who has assumed the mantle of “Ocean Master” and uses the trident to incapacitate and restrain them inside cacoon like pods. Superman even sheds blood when attacked with the trident. The group is sent to be consumed by the monstrous Dark Trench, while Ocean Master leads Atlantis’ army to the surface. Arthur destroys his pod by tapping into the power of the trident and with Superman’s help, as well as his telepathic control over sea creatures, they save the rest and defeat the monster. In Metropolis, a massive tidal wave created by Ocean Master’s trident is used to conceal Ocean Master’s army, which reaches the shores and begins their attack. The military fights back but are powerless until the League arrive. During the fight, Superman saves John Henry Irons, and Wonder Woman saves Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Arthur is attacked by Black Manta, who reveals that he manipulated Ocean Master and plans to kill him when the time is right and take Atlantis for himself. While Black Manta is revealing his plan, Arthur calls a megalodon to attack him, dragging Black Manta underwater.Mera and the League attack Ocean Master but are once again defeated and unable to gain an advantage over him due to his Trident’s power, as Shazam turned to his normal form, Billy Batson, and Cyborg is electricuted and disabled. Wonder Woman successfully disarms him of the Trident, though she is nearly incapacitated by its energy when she holds it. Superman is further wounded with the trident, being pierced in the chest with it. Arthur becomes the last to face Ocean Master, who has an upper hand during the fight until the end due to Orm being unable to use the trident’s true power on Arthur due to his own status as Atlantean royalty. Despite this, Ocean Master manages to defeat Arthur with the trident’s power by not using it directly on it and causing a massive blast of power to incapacitate him. Batman saves Cyborg from dying by electrocuting him with a taser device, and Cyborg reveals that he has video of Ocean Master confessing to killing his mother when they were captured. As Ocean Master is killing Arthur, nearly impaling him on his trident, Cyborg broadcasts Ocean Master’s confession all over Metropolis for Atlantis’ soldiers to see. Stunned by his treachery, the soldiers do not obey Ocean Master’s commands and Arthur uses the distraction to defeat him. He then convinces the soldiers to stand down and declares his desire to bring Atlantis and the surface world together in peace.

Later in Atlantis, Arthur is crowned as king, with the Justice League among the audience celebrating. Batman suggests that, with new threats appearing, they need to solidify the team and Cyborg reveals plans for a watchtower. Arthur joins as Aquaman (which is a nickname everyone on the Internet gave him and he hates), and soon heads with now-love interest Mera against the Trenchers outside Atlantis.  In the post-credits, Ocean Master is incarcerated at Belle Reve, yelling at the guards to release him. He is approached by Lex Luthor who has a proposition for him to consider.maxresdefaultThis was enjoyable, it is nice to see a story about other characters in the DC universe.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN VS THE ELITE

CAST (VOICES)

George Newbern (Father of The Bride)
Pauley Perrette (Almost Famous)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babyon 5)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Ogie Banks (Ultimate Spider-Man)
Catero Colbert (Zombie Strippers)
Melissa Disney (In A Word)
Paul Eiding (Wall-e)
Troy Evans (Ace Ventura)
David Kaufman (Superman: TAS)

The movie opens with Manchester Black watching news stories about villains and how they’re given second chances. All of the news stories come down to one subject: the world wants solutions to all of the evil in the world – by killing it. When Manchester sees this, he turns off the TV and begins his plot to keep the world safe by any means necessary. Back at Metropolis, Lois and Clark witness the death of multiple people in the streets at the hands of the Atomic Skull who was killing people to draw out Superman. As the battle erupts throughout most of the city, Superman ends up defeating Atomic Skull by throwing him into a lake. After this, Superman gives a speech at the United Nations about the greater good that is found within everyone. During this the leaders of Bialyia and Pokolistan begin to fight due to their peace treaty being broken, Superman leaves the United Nations to stop their armed forces from destroying each other.

As Superman arrives in Bialya, the Pokolistani forces release a bioweapon on the Bialyan military which destroys most of their ground forces. As Superman gets the soldiers to safety from the bioweapon, the Elite arrive just in time to help Superman destroy it. Superman returns to Metropolis to report the news and also gain more information on the Elite. Superman and Lois fly to England to find out if they, and the world, can trust the Elite. It is revealed through Manchester Black that he gained his powers near puberty and used it for the first time to save his sister Vera from being hit by a train.

Through telepathy, Black gets a painful headache of multiple people screaming. The Elite and Superman arrive on the scene to save the civilians on a subway train which was trapped underwater due to a terrorist attack. After Superman and Black save the passengers, Black interrogates the terrorists that bombed the train nearly killing them. Superman begins to be concerned about the motives of his new-found friends. Back in Metropolis, Clark and Lois talk about the information they had found on the Elite and Manchester Black’s history. Lois tells Clark that there is no birth record or death certificate of Manchester’s sister Vera. This makes Clark further question the Elite’s origin and what they are really trying to accomplish. When Manchester broadcasts a message for all the world to hear, he ends up telling them that they will take care of all the bad guys in the world by killing them.

After the broadcast, Superman returns to the Fortress of Solitude to search for reliable information on the Elite. Having failed in finding information, Superman travels to Bialya. While there Superman is hit by an EMP which weakens him. Closing Pokolistani forces are about to attack him when the Elite attacks. Powerless to stop the chaos that the Elite inflict on the Pokolistani military, Superman ends up passing out. He eventually awakens at the Elite’s base of operations, a sentient macroorganism called Bonnie, and is teleported back to Earth after he fails to convince the Elite that they don’t have to kill to be heroes. In Metropolis, Atomic Skull breaks out of prison and looks for revenge on Superman. The Elite arrives but have little success against the overpowered Atomic Skull. When Superman arrives, he coordinates an attack with the Elite to get all the extra power away from Atomic Skull. After Atomic Skull’s power is drained by Coldcast, he is executed by Manchester Black under the vote of a boy whose father was one of Atomic Skull’s victims.

After protecting Pokolistan from Bialya’s jets, Superman is visited by the Elite who tell him that they have killed both the Pokolistanian and Bialyan leaders and that peace can reign supreme in that area once again. Angered by Manchester’s uncontrollable urge to kill the villains, Superman punches him in the face and the Elite take it as a statement of war against the world’s “favorite heroes.” They tell Superman that they will kill him for this outrage. The next day, Superman stands in the middle of Metropolis telling the Elite that he is ready to fight. Asking them to do it somewhere safe, they teleport to the Moon where they begin their fight, with the people of Metropolis watching via Bonnie. Both sides are evenly matched until Black telekinetically induces a seizure in Superman. Coldcast then unleashes a massive blast of electromagnetic energy on Superman, and to those watching the battle on Earth, it appears that Superman has been obliterated. However, moments later, the Elite start hearing Superman’s voice all around them. In his taunts, Superman states that he has finally been convinced that he needs to start killing villains–beginning with the Elite. Superman then begins to take out the Elite one by one; first he injects Menagerie with a poison that causes her sym-beasts to abandon her and apparently kills her. The Hat attempts to exploit Superman’s known weakness to magic but is suffocated by a super-speed generated whirlwind and sucked into the funnel.

Against Coldcast’s wishes, Manchester teleports them to Metropolis to use the innocent civilians as cover. Black gives the order to combine powers to destroy Metropolis when Superman appears. After Superman knocks Coldcast into orbit, he confronts Black. Manchester attacks Superman with everything he has but fails to harm the Man of Steel. Through heat vision, Superman lobotomizes Manchester, stripping him of his powers. Believing his death to be seconds away, Manchester tells Superman that the world knows he is no better than they are and will never again trust him. Superman reveals that he faked killing the other members of the Elite and had his Super-Robots protect all of the civilians present to and create the illusion that he had killed indiscriminately. They were really transported to the Fortress of Solitude to be stripped of their powers, then sent to a prison. In addition, Bonnie was offered a way to return home. In the end, the people of Earth see that Superman’s way is best for all of mankind. After that, he flies off with Lois and they kiss.

Great film! Barring the awful English accents!

REVIEW: BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHT

CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
George Newbern (Justice League)
Alanna Ubach (Legally Blonde 2)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Gary Dourdan (CSI)
Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Parminder Nagra (Bend It Like Beckham)

Gotham Knight does something a little bit different from before. Basically this is a collection of six short films, all produced by different, independent Japanese Manga studios. The premise of the films is that they take place in-between Batman Begins and its sequel The Dark Knight. While no major events happen, the stories are separate, very enjoyable one-offs with a continuity that nicely links them all together. Right away, the whole thing screams `Animatrix’, and like The Animatrix, it gets a lot of stuff right. First of all, is the fact that they’ve brought in Kevin Conroy to reprise his role as the voice of Batman. And it’s as though nothing’s changed at all. Conroy has still got it, the darkness, the brooding, the menace; his Batman remains as perfect as it ever was.Another merit for Gotham Knight is that they’ve brought in such acclaimed talent like David Goyer, Brian Azzarello, Alan Burnett, Greg Rucka, Josh Olsen and Jordan Goldberg to write the different stories, and they all deliver some cracking stuff, each pinning down the basics of what makes the Batman (and Bruce Wayne) such a fascinating character; the urban myth of the Dark Knight, his relationship with the police, his `mask’ as Bruce Wayne, the road he embarked on to become what he is, his war against crime, the developing and refinement of his technology, hard learning curves and his code of honour.

The films also use the continuity established by Batman Begins to great and creative effect. Along the way, we see how great the ramifications of the events in Batman Begins truly are. The Arkham Asylum breakout making the whole Narrows island abandoned to madness is such a haunting premise, along with the Scarecrow’s reign of terror and still-at-large threat. The realistic approach established by Batman Begins is also utilised brilliantly, as we get fantastic incarnations of Killer Croc and the assassin Deadshot to provide the Dark Knight a real challenge.As for the supporting cast, we obviously have our favourites Lt. James Gordon (now in full swing with his alliance to Batman) and Alfred. We also have Detective Crispus Allen (a great favourite of mine from the comics) and Detective Anna Ramirez (a new character that appears in The Dark Knight). Both characters are used very well in the films, becoming nicely established as a result. Lucius Fox also plays a guest role here, and his sardonic friendship with Bruce Wayne is mirrored to great effect. We also have local crime bosses Sal Maroni and The Russsian serving as minor antagonists, with their war acting as a good little sub-plot. The writing is excellent, soundtrack is excellent and the voice-work goes without question. But how does the animation fare overall? I have a great deal of respect for Anime and the whole Manga style. While it personally isn’t my favourite, it can be truly spectacular.It’s a great tie-in product to the film franchise.

REVIEW: FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN

CAST (voices)
Rachael Leigh Cook (She’s All That)
Steve Burton (The Last Castle)
Wally Wingert (Family Guy)
Quinton Flynn (Ultimate Avengers)
Crispin Freeman (Digimon)
Dave Wittenberg (Spaceballs: The Animated Series)
Fred Tatasciore (9)
Steve Blum (The Boxtrolls)
Beau Billingslea (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Liam O’Brien (Planet Hulk)
Mena Suvari (The Cape)
George Newbern (Justice League)
Wendee Lee (Masked Rider)
Setting
Advent Children takes place two years following the events of the 1997 role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII, during which the antagonist Sephiroth attempted to absorb the Lifestream (the lifeblood and soul of the planet) and be reborn as a god. He was defeated by Cloud Strife and his companions but Sephiroth’s final spell, Meteor, destroyed the city of Midgar.
Since the end of the game, the survivors of Midgar founded the new city of Edge where Cloud and his childhood friend Tifa Lockhart now run a courier service and are the caretakers of orphans Denzel and Marlene. Cloud is still haunted by his role in the death of Aerith Gainsborough, who was killed by Sephiroth. In addition, both he and Denzel are infected with a mysterious new ailment known as “Geostigma”, which has no known cure. When the film opens, Cloud has recently moved out and isolated himself from his friends.
Story
Cloud is contacted through Tifa and summoned to a meeting with the Shinra Company’s former president Rufus Shinra, who was presumed killed in Final Fantasy VII.Rufus asks for Cloud’s help to stop Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo. The trio are physical manifestations of Sephiroth’s surviving spirit, and are seeking to resurrect him using the remains of the extraterrestrial villain Jenova. Cloud refuses to help and leaves. Meanwhile, Kadaj and his colleagues are recruiting children infected with Geostigma. Denzel falls in with the group, attracted by their promises of a cure for the disease. Loz follows Tifa and Marlene to Aerith’s church, where they had gone looking for Cloud, and attacks them. Tifa is knocked unconscious in the fight and Loz kidnapped Marlene. All the kidnapped children are taken to the ruins of the mystical Forgotten City, where Kadaj embraces them as brethren and announces his intention for them all to be reunited with Jenova. When Cloud arrives to rescue them, he is overpowered by Kadaj’s gang, but is rescued by his old comrade Vincent Valentine. Demoralized by his failure, Cloud asks if sin can ever be truly forgiven, to which Vincent nonchalantly replies that he has never tried to forgive. Cloud decides to keep fighting and returns to the city, where Kadaj has summoned Bahamut SIN and other monsters to terrorize the population.[4] With the help of his companions from Final Fantasy VII, Cloud engages and defeats the monsters.
Kadaj confronts Rufus Shinra, who reveals he possesses the box containing Jenova’s remains. He attempts to destroy it, but Kadaj manages to save it and flees the city with his companions. Yazoo and Loz are apparently destroyed along the way by an explosive planted by Shinra’s agents. Cloud chases Kadaj down and engages him in battle, ultimately subduing him. Outmatched, Kadaj opens Jenova’s box and fuses with its contents, transforming into Sephiroth. He then tells Cloud that he will be able to use the life essences of Geostigma sufferers to achieve complete domination over the planet.[5] He and Cloud then fight, and throughout the whole encounter Sephiroth appears to have the upper hand, flinging Cloud repeatedly into walls and finally impaling him through the shoulder. He asks Cloud to tell him what he most cherishes, so that he can have the pleasure of taking it away. To this, Cloud replies that he cherishes everything, then pulls out Sephiroth’s sword and deals him a hail of devastating blows. Sephiroth’s spirit departs, leaving behind the mortally wounded Kadaj. As he lies dying in Cloud’s arms, a healing rain starts falling across the land, curing the people of their Geostigma. Yazoo and Loz appear and confront Cloud; he charges at them, and they set off a massive explosion engulfing the three.
Cloud has a vision of his deceased friends Aerith and Zack Fair, who say that his time to join them has not yet come. He then awakens in the church, healed of his injuries and surrounded by his friends. Behind them, he sees Aerith and Zack leaving the church and hears Aerith’s voice say, “You see, everything’s all right.” He agrees: “I know. I’m not alone… not anymore.”
People will ask whether you need to have played the game to understand the film? Well, I would say it would help if you want to understand everything, because it can be left quite vague. But that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the movie if you haven’t played the game. There is lots of action, and some of the best animation seen yet, and it’s been done wonderfully. There is also a Reminiscence section in the bonus features which tells you the entire story of the original game if you wish to see it. All in all, this is a package you don’t want to miss.

 

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – SEASON 1-2

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CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
George Newbern (Superman/Shazam)
Susan Eisenberg (Justice League: Doom)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals Barrera (Camp Rock)

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Kin Shriner (Manhunter)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Dana Delaney (Desperate Housewives)
Mike Farrell (Vanishing Act)
Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Dakota Fanning (Taken)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Patrick Bauchau (Panic Room)
Michael York (Logans Run)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Robert Foxworth (Syriana)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Billy West (Futurama)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Lori Loughlin (Full House)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
John C. McGinley (Highlander II)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Michael Beach (The Abyss)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Ben Browder (Farscape)
Peter MacNicol (Ghostbusters 2)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Nestor Carbonell (The Dark Knight)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Denis Farina (Get Shorty)
Virginia Maden (Sideways)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Farrah Forke (Lois & Clark)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: DS9)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Juliet Landau (Buffy)
Alan Rachins (Showgirls)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Jason Bateman (The Ex)
Glenn Shadix (Beetlejuice)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Nathan Fillion (Slither)
Elizabeth Pena (The Incredibles)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Robert Forster (Dragon Wars)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Powers Boothe (Agents of SHIELD)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
James Remar (Flashforward)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Malcolm McDowell (Heroes)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)

The first two seasons of Justice League were fantastic. Packed with action, humor and great storytelling the world of DC’s heroes came to life thanks to the collaborative efforts of the folks behind the rest of Warner Brothers’ successful cartoons. The show focused on the adventures of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, Hawkgirl and J’onn (the Martian Manhunter). They spent most of their time fighting established villains and trying to save the world from impending doom as you’d expect. When Justice League Unlimited (the show’s sequel series) was released it shook up the formula a bit and quite frankly, really felt like a new show.


The reason behind this different atmosphere was the change in the cast. The main seven characters were still kicking around but their ranks had swelled since the end of the original series. The basic premise was that the Justice League felt they could do better with more members. Many hands make light work and all that. Therefore anyone with superpowers that could do some good was offered a spot on the team.

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Not every character gets their chance in the spotlight but it certainly fleshed out the show with some of DC’s more obscure characters. Most of these episodes focus on the original characters though many of the rookies become involved in the storytelling. Being a longtime comic book fan, seeing more of these characters was definitely a thrill. Getting Green Arrow added to the ranks was probably the best addition to the show in my opinion, but Supergirl, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Black Canary and The Question definitely helped round things out. In all more characters were added to the series than the show actually featured so you can imagine the insanity that ensues. Many of these characters do get washed out thanks to the lack of coverage, but it’s not handled to the point that they become obscure or disrupt the quality of the show.

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There  are several episodes that made an impression on me. “Fearful Symmetry” was a very solid story that told a tale about Supergirl and really fleshed out her character. In it she is basically cloned and begins to have dreams that mirror the actions of her sinister clone. Green Arrow and Question get involved in order to help her out and we got to see some interesting facets of the DC Universe.


For my money “The Greatest Story Never Told” was probably my favorite episode. It doesn’t have a lot to do with anything and it’s a fairly weak story but it features Booster Gold as its main character. In case you are unfamiliar with Booster he’s basically a smartass guy from the 25th century who travels back in time for fame and fortune. He’s accompanied by a wisecracking robot named Skeets and finds himself not feeling the love from his other JLU teammates. In this episode he’s given the noble duty of crowd control while the League fights to save the world. There’s nothing particularly great about the story it’s just that I love Booster’s character and quite honestly, this episode was hilarious all around.
“Kid Stuff” was another fun episode that featured Morgan la Fey’s son getting his prissy little hands on a powerful amulet. The item makes him more powerful than his mother and he casts a spell that sends all adults to another dimension. In order to set things right Morgan turns Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern into kids so they can once again enter the world. As their younger selves the heroes start to let their juvenile side out and it’s funny to see Batman and Wonder Woman banter as if they were childhood sweethearts.

Overall Justice League Unlimited was a great show.  Any comic book fan, or viewer who enjoyed Timm’s other series, definitely owes it to themselves to check this set out. This release offers 26 episodes.


Unfortunately, as with all good things, Justice League Unlimited came to end. The show was cancelled before its time but luckily the crew was able to eek out another thirteen episodes before it went off the air. This season’s collection of superhero antics follows an episodic pattern but keeps an ongoing plot bubbling beneath the surface. The two-part adventures from the earlier sessions of Justice League went away with this season but the fact that characters reference previous episodes helps to keep everything connected.

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In the first episode of the final season of Unlimited Lex Luthor is on the run from the law after breaking out of jail. The affects of being joined with Brainiac are still being felt by him and throughout the episode you’ll often see Luthor talk to himself because he sees Brainiac standing next to him. When Gorilla Grodd offers Luthor a piece of Brainiac old baldy finds it hard to resist. He agrees to join Grodd’s Legion of Doom and work together with fellow supervillains to take down the Justice League. This set up continues throughout the season and you’ll find bits and pieces of it in each of the thirteen episodes.

In the second episode of this season the shadow of the Thanagarian conflict lingers as an archaeologist discovers something an Egypt. Shayera (Hawkgirl) is lured there by Carter Hall who tries to convince her that he is Hawkman. This was a nice throwback to the prior season and early Hawkman comic books but was certainly not the best episode in the set.

One of my favorite episodes from his collection easily has to be “Flash and Substance”. Four villains from Flash’s past team up to take down the red blur and they plan on doing it on the opening night of his new museum. Batman and Orion tag along with Flash in order to ensure that he’s ok. The writing in this particular episode was easily the funniest that Justice League ever produced. I particularly enjoyed the villains all sitting around the table at a dive bar talking about making their mortgage payments and whatnot.


Anyone who has ever considered themselves to be a comic book fan at some point in their lives will find something to love about Justice League Unlimited. From the very first season through the last of Unlimited the series offered quality unlike any other. This is a definitive comic book cartoon and stands shoulder to shoulder with WB’s Superman and Batman animated adventures. If you have been collecting the show to date then you’ll be pleased to know that the thirteen episodes featured here are as good, if not better in some cases, as what came before it.