REVIEW: UPTOWN GIRLS

CAST

Brittany Murphy (Sin City)
Dakota Fanning (man on Fire)
Marley Shelton (Planet TError)
Donald Faison (Scrubs)
Jesse Spencer (Neighbors)
Austin Pendleton (The Muppet Movie)
Heather Locklear (The Return of Swamp Thing)
Fisher Stevens (Hackers)
Carmen Electra (Scary Movie)
Michael Urie (Ugly Betty)

Brittany Murphy, Marley Shelton, and Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)Molly Gunn (Brittany Murphy) is a carefree and fun-spirited girl, living off the ample trust fund of her late rock legend father, Tommy Gunn. Molly falls for singer Neal Fox (Jesse Spencer) when he plays at her birthday party thrown by her best friends, Huey (Donald Faison) and Ingrid (Marley Shelton). They have a night of passion but he leaves in the morning, saying that he can’t stay in Molly’s carefree life. Adding to Molly’s misfortune, she finds out that her father’s accountant embezzled her money, so she is left penniless and homeless. She moves in with her best friend, Ingrid who tells her that in order to stay with her, she must find a job.Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)Molly begins work as a nanny of an eight-year-old hypochondriac and neat freak named Laraine “Ray” Schleine (Dakota Fanning) who is the daughter of Roma Schleine (Heather Locklear), a music executive who is too busy to notice Ray. Ray’s father is in a coma and is being treated at home by a private nurse which causes Ray to stifle her emotions to maintain order. Although she enjoys ballet, she refuses to freestyle and often quotes Mikhail Baryshnikov: “Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun.” Molly attempts to show her how to have fun, which at first causes much conflict between them, but eventually Ray opens up to let Molly in.Brittany Murphy, Donald Faison, and Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)Molly continues to pursue Neal and holds onto his lucky jacket in hopes of seeing him again. After a baking accident, Molly causes a fire that damages Neal’s jacket. She redesigns it to fix the damage but Neal breaks up with Molly when he sees it, claiming he has to pursue his music career and does not have time for her flightiness. Soon after, he gets a record deal with Roma and has a hit music video with a song that Molly inspired him to write, all while wearing the jacket Molly made. Disgusted, Molly agrees to Ingrid’s suggestions to sell off her possessions so she can prove that she is growing up. However, after a fight, Ingrid kicks Molly out to live with Huey.Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)The budding friendship between Molly and Ray continues to develop when Molly takes Ray to Coney Island and explains that when her parents died, she ran away to Coney Island and rode the tea cups. She encourages Ray to talk to her comatose father, and promises that it will help him improve. However, Ray’s father dies the next day, and Ray tells Roma to fire Molly. In Roma’s office, Molly calls Roma out for never paying attention to her daughter. As she leaves, Molly bumps into Neal, who begs to get back together as she was his whole inspiration. Molly turns him down and coldly tells him that he is selfish and only cares about her when she can give him something. Ray runs away from home and Roma begs Molly to find her. Molly finds Ray at Coney Island, riding in the tea cups. At first, Ray tries to be angry with Molly for raising her hopes but then she collapses into Molly’s arms, crying, finally coming to terms with her grief.Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)Molly, deciding to take charge of her own life, takes Ray’s advice to auction off her late father’s guitar collection to an unknown buyer; this enables her to afford her own place. At the wake for Ray’s father, Molly meets other musicians who ask her to design their clothes after seeing Neal’s jacket in his video. She and Ingrid also make up and Molly finds Ray to apologize as well. She promises to stay friends with Ray and enrolls in design school after realizing her talent for fashion. Molly arrives at Ray’s recital late and is pleased to see Ray is wearing the tutu Molly designed for her earlier. She is surprised when Ray dances freestyle to Neal singing “Molly Smiles”, a song written for her by her father when she was a child. He plays using Tommy Gunn’s acoustic guitar, while the remaining ballerinas dance with the other guitars from her father’s collection, revealing that he was the anonymous buyer. In a voice over, Ray says that the end was a new beginning for all of them.Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning in Uptown Girls (2003)Uptown Girls’ isn’t a great movie, but it sure is something that is surprisingly likable, if not lovable.

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REVIEW: TWINS

 

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Hercules In New York)
Danny DeVito (Batman Returns)
Kelly Preston (Jerry Maguire)
Chloe Webb (Sid and Nancy)
Bonnie Bartlett (Firefly)
Trey Wilson (Raising Arizona)
Marshall Bell (Starship Troopers)
David Carusco (CSI: Miami)
Maury Chaykin (Entrapment)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Tom McCleister (Million Dollar Baby)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)
Heather Graham (The Hangover)

Julius Benedict and Vincent Benedict are fraternal twins, the result of a secret experiment carried out at a genetics laboratory to combine the DNA of six fathers to produce the perfect child. To the surprise of the scientists, the embryo split and twins were born. The mother, Mary Ann Benedict, was told that Julius died at birth, and not told about Vincent at all. Vincent was placed in an orphanage run by nuns in Los Angeles and believes his mother abandoned him. With no one but himself to rely on, Vincent escaped from the orphanage and became an indebted, small-time crook. Julius was raised on a South Pacific island by Professor Werner, where he engages in intense physical training and extensive study. Each twin is unaware of the other’s existence.On Julius’s 35th birthday, Julius discovers he has a twin brother. With Professor Werner’s blessing, Julius proceeds to the United States to find his brother. Julius discovers that Vincent lives in L.A. and eventually tracks him down in jail for unpaid parking tickets.Julius bails Vincent out, but Vincent does not believe his story and abandons him in a car park. Julius pursues Vincent to his workplace and finds him being beaten up by Morris Klane, a loan shark enforcer. Julius subdues Morris, earning Vincent’s trust and respect. He later meets Vincent’s girlfriend Linda Mason and enters a romantic relationship with her sister Marnie. Over dinner, Vincent shows Julius a document he stole from the orphanage that shows their mother is actually still alive, but believing that she abandoned him at birth, Vincent shows no interest in finding her. Julius tracks one of their six fathers to the address on the document. The father directs Julius to Mitchell Traven in New Mexico, the other professor who headed the experimentVincent steals a late-model Cadillac Sedan de Ville for his chop shop contact and finds a prototype fuel injector in the trunk that was to be delivered to an industrialist, Beetroot McKinley, in Houston, for five million dollars. Vincent decides to pose as the delivery man and deliver the fuel injector himself so he can collect the money and pay off his debts. He reluctantly allows Julius, Linda and Marnie to accompany him to New Mexico to find professor Traven. Mr. Webster, the real delivery man, begins pursuing Vincent. In New Mexico, Traven reveals the truth to the twins and directs them to Santa Fe, where their mother lives in an art colony. On the way to Santa Fe, the twins are accosted by the Klane brothers, but they fight them off for the last time. At the art colony in Santa Fe, a painter informs Julius and Vincent that their mother has died. They leave, unaware that the painter is in fact their mother, Mary Ann, who didn’t believe their story.Vincent bitterly heads to Houston alone to deliver the prototype to McKinley, leaving Julius and the girls behind in New Mexico for their safety. Julius chases after Vincent, and finds him seconds after the exchange with McKinley. Webster appears and kills McKinley, demanding the money from Vincent. Julius intercepts Webster in order for Vincent to escape, but Vincent returns and agrees to give Webster the money to save Julius. Webster decides to kill them anyway for seeing his face, but Vincent kills him by unloading a heavy chain onto his head and burying him. Julius and Vincent return both the prototype and $4 million (Vincent skimming $1 million), and use that along with the reward to start a consulting firm. Their publicity reaches the art colony and Mary Ann learns that her sons are alive. She violently confronts Traven for concealing the truth and tracks Julius and Vincent down to their workplace. Sometime later, Julius and Vincent marry the Mason sisters. Both marriages produce twin children, and the couples are last seen meeting their mother and Professor Werner on an outing.I’m a big Arnold fan so I enjoy most of his films and this is easily the best comedy he’s ever done. The movie is just hilarious and fun to watch Arnold and Devito make a good team.

 

REVIEW: WAYNE’S WORLD 2

CAST

Mike Myers (Shrek)
Dana Carvey (This Is Spinal Tap)
Tia Carrere (True Lies)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Kevin Pollak (Mom)
Ralph Brown (Alien 3)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Kim Bassinger (Batman)
Jim Downey (Billy Madison)
Chris Farley (Beverly Hills Ninja)
Lee Tergesen (Shaft)
Drew Barrymore (Charlies Angels)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Jay Leno (EdTV)
Charlton Heston (PLanet of The Apes)
Heather Locklear (The Return of Swamp Thing)
Tim Meadows (Son of Zorn)
Harry Shearer (the Simpsons)

Rock-and-roll fans Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar now host their public-access television television show, Wayne’s World, from an abandoned factory in Aurora, Illinois. After an Aerosmith concert, Wayne has a dream in which he meets Jim Morrison and a “weird naked Indian” in a desert. Morrison convinces Wayne that his destiny is to organize a major music festival. Wayne and Garth dub the concert “Waynestock” and hire Morrison’s former roadie, Del Preston. Their early attempts to sign bands and sell tickets fail, and Wayne wonders if the endeavor is futile.Wayne’s girlfriend Cassandra, singer of the band Crucial Taunt, has a new producer, Bobby Cahn, who tries to pull her away from Wayne and Illinois. After Wayne admits spying on her due to his suspicion of Bobby’s ulterior motives, Cassandra breaks up with him and becomes engaged to Bobby. Garth meets a beautiful woman, Honey Hornée, who attempts to manipulate Garth into killing her ex-husband, but Garth ends the relationship. Tickets are sold for Waynestock but no bands arrive. Leaving Garth to keep the rowdy crowd in check, Wayne disrupts Cassandra’s wedding before escaping the ceremony with her. Meanwhile, Garth has stage fright during the concert. Wayne returns to find the bands have still not arrived. In the dream desert, Wayne and Garth consult Morrison, who says that the bands will not come and that all that matters is they tried. They become lost in the desert. Finding this unacceptable, Wayne and Garth reenact the ending of Thelma & Louise, driving their car off a cliff while trying to find the bands. Finally, Wayne and Garth stage an ending in which the bands arrive and Waynestock is a success. After the concert, the park is covered with trash and the “weird naked Indian” cries. Wayne and Garth begin to remove the litter, promising to clean the entire park.Honestly if someone asked me if Wayne’s World 2 is worth the watch, I’d definitely say yes. This is always guaranteed a good laugh, just Garth’s story alone with Kim Bassinger as Honey Hornee is worth the look. I also love the scene where the guys end up in a gay bar and end up singing “Y.M.C.A.” song. Also Christopher Walken is in this movie, what more do you need to watch a movie? Christopher was such a great addition to the characters and made a great villain. It was great to see all the characters back together and this was a fun sequel, so if you need a good laugh, don’t hold back, this is a movie that is sure to tickle you’re funny bone.

REVIEW: FIRESTARTER

CAST

Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
David Keith (Bottoms Up)
Freddie Jones (Son of Dracula)
Heather Locklear (Wayne’s World 2)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
George C. Scott (Patton)
Art Carney (Last Action Hero)
Louise Fletcher (Exorcist II)
Moses Gunn (Roots)
Antonio Fargas (Foxy Brown)

kinopoisk.ruAndy McGee (David Keith) met his future wife, Vicky Tomlinson (Heather Locklear), in college while they were earning money by participating in an experiment in which they were given a dose of a low-grade hallucinogen called LOT-6. The experiment grants them telepathic abilities; Vicky has the ability to read minds, and Andy can take over minds and make others do and believe what he wants, but the effort gives him nosebleeds (the novel revealing them to be “pinprick” hemorrhages). Andy and Vicky went on to get married, and they now have a nine-year-old daughter named Charlene “Charlie” McGee (Drew Barrymore), who has pyrokinetic abilities (can start fires with the mind). Charlie can also see the near future.
firestarter-1984-movie-drew-barrymore-6Andy comes home from work one day to find that Vicky has been murdered and Charlie abducted; the family had already suspected that the government agency that sponsored the experiment, the Department of Scientific Intelligence (aka “the Shop”), was checking on them. The government wants Charlie to harness her powerful ability as a weapon. Andy rescues Charlie from abduction by agents of the Shop by making the agents blind and for the next year, they are on the run.
firestarter_592x299-7To protect themselves, Andy writes letters to major newspapers, but mailing them reveals their location. They need to rest and end up taken in by a farmer and his wife. Andy tells the farmer the truth so when the Shop arrives, he is ready to stand with them. However, he soon sees that there is no need since Charlie makes quick work of the agents who have invaded the quiet refuge they have found. They again are on the run, but Andy is weak from the use of his gift. They go to their secluded cabin to rest and prepare to finally go public with their story. Unfortunately, the head of the Shop, Captain Hollister (Martin Sheen), sends Agent John Rainbird (George C. Scott) to capture them and stop the release of information. After capture, father and daughter are kept separated. Andy is medicated and subjected to tests, which show his powers have decreased. Meanwhile, Rainbird takes on the role of “John the friendly orderly” to befriend Charlie and gain her trust to encourage her to submit to the tests.
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Charlie’s powers increase exponentially, and she continually demands to see her father as they promised. Andy is revealed to be faking the acceptance of his drugs, meaning that his powers have never decreased and it was all a ruse to make Hollister drop his guard. Then once alone on a walk far from the house, he uses his power to get information from Hollister (such as John’s true identity) and arrange to leave with Charlie that night. He slips Charlie a note and she immediately tells “John” about the escape. He’s wanted to kill Charlie since first hearing about her and hides in the barn so he can kill her father as well. Charlie enters the barn first and “John” succeeds in convincing her to begin the climb up the ladder to him. His plan is put to an end once Andy enters and Charlie instead runs to her father. She tells him that John is present and asks if they can take him with them. She is saddened and angered to find out the truth, yet believes John when he states that he will not kill her father if she comes to him. To save his daughter, Andy instructs Hollister to shoot at Rainbird. However, Rainbird kills Hollister and fatally wounds Andy and after he causes Rainbird to leap to the ground, breaking his leg. Charlie then kills Rainbird and cries at her father’s wound. He pleads with her to use her powers to bring the facility down after he takes his last breath. The entire security team arrives and she dispatches them all one by one to make her way off of the property.
dbfirehd093Charlie returns by hitchhiking back to the farm. Without a word, she reveals what has happened since she left with her father and is welcomed back. Shortly afterwards, Charlie and the farmer head to New York City to tell her story to the media.firestarterThe film is without a doubt a classic and watchable even today. It is thoroughly entertaining and once watched won’t easily be forgotten.

REVIEW: SCARY MOVIE V

CAST

Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical)
Simon Rex (The Forsaken)
Erica Ash (Minna no le)
Katrina Bowden (Piranha 3DD)
Terry Crews (White Chicks)
Jasmine Guy (The Vampire Diaries)
Darrell Hammond (Epic Movie)
Sarah Hyland (Vampire Academy)
Heather Locklear (Return of Swamp Thing)
J.P. Manoux (Scooby-Doo)
Bow Wow (Smallville)
Jerry O’Connell (Scream queens)
Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf)
Molly Shannon (Bad Teacher)
Snoop Dgg (Training Day)
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
Lindsay Lohan (Mean Girls)

Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan get together to make a sex tape with over 20 cameras beside Sheen’s bed. The time-lapsed tape fast forwards through the two doing all sorts of bedroom antics, including gymnastics, riding a horse, and having clowns jump in under the sheets. Sheen is pulled into the air by a paranormal force and thrown against walls, shelves, and doors until he lands on the bed again. Lohan is frightened so she decides to go home when she flies into the air as well; she becomes possessed and throws him into the camera and kills him. The text explains that Sheen’s body was found that day but he didn’t stop partying until days later, and that his three kids were found missing, Lohan was arrested, again, and a reward was put out for the missing children.
Several months later, Ja’Marcus (Snoop Dogg) and D’Andre (Mac Miller) are walking in the Humboldt County woods in California in search of cannabis plants to steal. After stealing one and fleeing, they take shelter in a cabin in the woods. Upon entering they see three strange creatures, later confirmed to be Sheen’s children, and turn them in for the reward. The feral children are placed in isolation at a child development research center for a few months until they are deemed well enough to be returned to familial custody. When Sheen’s brother, Dan Sanders (Simon Rex) and his wife Jody (Ashley Tisdale) come to collect them, they are told they can have them if they agree to stay in a large suburban middle-class home fitted with security cameras. Jody is reluctant to take the kids at first but soon adjusts to having them. In an attempt to bond with their new children, Jody auditions for a ballet performance, Swan Lake, and is cast in the lead role as the Swan Queen.
Meanwhile, a continuing pattern of bizarre paranormal activity in their new home makes them investigate further. They eventually learn from the children that the attacks on their home are by “Mama”, the mother of the children, who is under a curse and is trying to get them back so she can sacrifice both herself and the children. Maria, the couple’s Hispanic live-in maid, is frightened and keeps experimenting with various rituals, Catholic and otherwise, to ward off the evil spirits in the house. During the day, Dan is frustrated with the modest progress of his test subjects at a primate intelligence research facility; ironically, Dan is not bright enough to realize that one of the chimpanzees, Caesar, is now actually much smarter than he is.
Jody and Dan, with the help of Jody’s close friend Kendra Brooks (Erica Ash), who Jody met at her ballet class, must quickly find a way to lift the curse and save their family. Along the way, they seek the assistance of psychic Blaine Fulda, who turns out to be a complete fraud, and a dream extractor named Dom Kolb (Ben Kornish), who helps them understand that the solution to their problems lies in the mysterious Book of the Dead. However, Jody and Kendra fail to see what the book is capable of, oblivious to four friends continuously becoming possessed and reviving in the cabin. They wreak havoc when either of the two read the two passages of the book; one that unleashes demons, “gort klaatu barada nikto”, and the other that revives them from possession. When “Mama” takes the children to a cliff to sacrifice them, Jody fails to lift the curse with the book, but does manage to knock the evil spirit into Ja’Marcus and D’Andre’s pool containing a live shark, which then devours her.
Realizing the love for her adopted children is all she needs in life, Jody gives the part of the Swan Queen to Kendra, who performs the dance in the style to that of a stripper. The performance is heavily applauded by an audience that includes Jody, Dan, the children, and Madea. The story’s narrator is revealed to be Caesar, who then informs the audience that the humans should enjoy as much time they had on earth and says that apes will one day take over the world. In a post-credits scene, Sheen wakes up, with Dom Kolb sitting beside him, from a dream extraction, i.e. the whole movie was a dream. After Kolb informs that Sheen will be sleeping with Lohan, a car crashes into the room, killing Sheen. Revealing Lohan as the driver, she gets out of the car, says to Kolb “You were driving” and throws him the keys, blaming the accident on him.

Scary Movie 5 has some genuine funny moments, but too few & far to be consistent like it’s predecessors. The script is weak, with too much scraping the bottom of the barrel repetitive visual comedy, Simon Rex getting beaten up umteen times in identical fashion get’s unfunny, fast. And it lacks any real believable flow connecting all the spoofed films together. Iv’e liked all the previous Scary Movie films, but this is the first one iv’e had to force myself to sit all the way through.

REVIEW: THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING

 

CAST

Louis Jourdan (Octopussy)
Dick Durock (Stand By Me)
Heather Locklear (Spin City)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)

The Return of Swamp Thing sees evil scientist Dr. Anton Arcane (Louis Jordan) trying to reverse the extreme ageing that he is undergoing as a result of his experiments. Meanwhile in Los Angeles his stepdaughter Abigail (Heather Locklear) decides to visit him to find out more about her late mother & the events surrounding her sudden death. It turns out that Abigail has the exact genetic make-up that Arcane needs to complete his experiments & give himself eternal life. Arcane also needs a sample of Swamp Thing’s (Dick Durock) DNA to complete the process but getting a sample isn’t going to be as easy as Arcane hoped for as Swamp Thing sets out to put an end to Arcane’s evil experiments…

I have to say that I really liked The Return of Swamp Thing & for my money just about the best thing Wynorski has ever done (which isn’t saying much in itself). A direct sequel to Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing (1982) it is never actually explained how Arcane survived the events during the climax of the original although it turns out he is suffering from the process that saved him which forms the basis of the plot as he sets out to find a cure & doesn’t care how many people he kills to do just that. Based on the dark Gothic DC comic book character the script by Neil Cuthbert & Grant Morris hasn’t got too much to it & is rather simplistic & underdeveloped but is good fun all the same & you suspect that what the production team were aiming for, a good solid entertaining light hearted fun comic book superhero flick which I think it succeeds at being but like most things in life it’s down to personal opinion. At a little over 90 minutes it’s relatively short, it moves along like a rocket & I was never bored with it which is always a good thing to be able to say. There are one or two half decent action set-pieces but considering the production team had a budget smaller than the Wes Craven original you could say they worked minor miracles. The character’s are fun although not particularly deep, the dialogue is often amusing & packed full of one-liners & doesn’t take itself too seriously either with Locklear’s character referring to the TV show T.J. Hooker (1982 – 1986) in which she starred. All in all much, much better than I expected & a film that I really liked. Keep watching after the end actor credits as the two kids get an extra little scene.

One very impressive aspect of The Return of Swamp Thing is the special make-up effects which are of a very high standard. The Leechman in particularly looks great although he disappears about halfway through, there’s a elaborate Cockroachman & an Elephantman. The Swamp Thing suit is also much better than seen in the original, it’s far more leafy & slimy & more representative of a what a half man half Georgia swamp creature may look like. The Dr. Rochelle mutation at the end also looks good but is dispatched too easily by Swamp Thing & doesn’t put up much of a fight. There are some good fight scenes as well along with a couple of impressive explosions.

If you’re a fan of B-movies, as I am, you’re likely to enjoy this. There are plenty of laughs, both intentional and unintentional. The acting is what you would expect, and the effects are really quite good for its day. It’s simply a good Comic Book Movie that will past the time.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 1-4

Image result for batman the animated series logoMAIN CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Loren Lester (Flashforward)
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (Hot Shots)
Bob Hastings (General Hospital)
Robert Costanzo (Dick Tracy)
Melissa Gilbert (Zoya)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)
Mathew Valencia (Lawnmower Man 2)Image result for batman the animatedRECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager)
Neil Ross (Centurions)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Lloyd Bochner (Point Blank)
Marc Singer (V)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek:DS9)
Meredith MacRae (Petticoat Junction)
Michael Ansara (The Message)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Mari Devon (Howl’s Moving Castle)
Brock Peters (To Kill A Mockingbird)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Edward Asner (Up)
Josh Keaton (Green Lantern: TAS)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Diane Pershing (Centourions)
Ingrid Oliu (Real Women Have Curves)
Henry Polic II (Webster)
Tim Curry (IT)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Alan Rachins (LA Law)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Lindsay Crouse (Buffy)
Paul Williams (Adventure Time)
Aron Kincaid (Freakazoid!)
Heather Locklear (Return of Swamp Thing)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Adam West (Batman 60s)
Treat Williams (The Phantom)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Harry Hamlin Clash of The Titans)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
William Sanderson (Blade Runner)
Leslie Easterbrook (The Devil’s Rejects)
John Glover (Smallville)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Helen Slater (Supergirl)
Michael York (Logans Run)
George Dzunda (Crimson Tide)
John De Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Julie Brown (Earth Girls Are Easy)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Michael Gross (Familt Ties)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad men)
Jean Smart (Designing Women)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Marica Wallace (The Simpsons)
Marilu henner (Two and A Half Men)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Stephanie Zimbalist (The Story Lady)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Henry Silva (Ocean’s Eleven)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Andrea Martin (Anastasia)
Grant Shaud (Murphy Brown)
Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Roy Dotrice (Beauty and The Beast)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Billy Barty (Masters of The Universe)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Billy Zane (Zoolander)
Mark Rolstan (Alias)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Michael McKean (Smallville)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Linda Hamilton (Chuck)
Billy West (Futurama)

Debuting on Fox in 1992, Batman: The Animated Series was immensely successful, garnering immense critical praise, taking home an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, and continuing in various forms for several years and well over a hundred episodes.First, the series is written and produced by people with a fundamental understanding of what makes the comics work, particularly during its peak in the ’70s under Dennis O’Neal and Neal Adams. As a long-time comics fanatic, it’s always welcome to see names like Gerry Conway and Marv Wolfman flash across the screen, and in the intervening years, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm have made their own impact on the four-color world. The tone is dark but not hopelessly grim, and the scripts don’t inundate viewers with patently obvious exposition or villainous cackling. It’s intelligently written and, while appropriate for a wide range of ages, doesn’t pander to a younger audience. I started watching Batman when it first debuted on Fox in 1992, and I appreciate it every bit as much now as a 34-year-old adult. The writers don’t shackle themselves to comic continuity, and their revisions are frequently more compelling than any other form in which we’ve seen Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Third-stringers like the Clock King and Clayface are given heavily revised origins and almost unrecognizable characterizations that are far more interesting than any other take on them.Batman boasts visuals that are as strong as the writing behind them. It’s incredibly dark; despite its Saturday morning/weekday afternoon origins, this is a series that greatly benefits from being watched at night with the lights off. The character designs are angular and exaggerated, in contrast to the rounded, ’40s-inspired props and backgrounds that further establish the distinctive, timeless look of the show. The detail and fluidity of the animation vary from episode to episode, but the better installments are almost jaw-dropping.

Following the visuals of the series, the next obvious subject to tackle is how it sounds. For me, Batman’s tone is one of the elements that really sets it apart from most every other animated series, and contributing greatly to that is the orchestral score in each episode. The series also has a phenomenal roster of talent contributing its voices. The main group — Kevin Conroy as the definitive Batman, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred, Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon — just nail their parts with complete perfection. Very recognizable names also contribute to villains and assorted supporting characters. A complete list would be prohibitively long, but some of the more notable actors and actresses from these episodes are Michael Ansara, Ed Asner, Adrienne Barbeau, Ed Begley Jr., Mark Hamill, David L. Lander, Heather Locklear, Kevin McCarthy, Roddy McDowall, Richard Moll, Kate Mulgrew, Ron Perlman, Alan Rachins, Marc Singer, Jeffrey Tambor, John Vernon, Adam West, and Paul Williams. The campy live action series from the ’60s also drew heavily from established Hollywood talent, but the difference here is that the actors don’t draw attention to themselves as stars.

This set has the show at the absolute top of its form. There isn’t a lame show in the bunch, and many of the episodes in this set are destine to become classics. Prechance to Dream, the second show in the set, is a wonderful look at what might have happened if Bruce Wayne’s parents hadn’t been killed. After being knock out while chasing some crooks, Bruce wakes up at home, uncertain as to how he got there. He’s surprised to find that the entrance to the Batcave is blocked, but even more astonished to discover that his mother and father are still alive. Bruce must figure out what going on, but in doing so, he knows he’ll ruin the happiness that he’s discovered.AlmostGot ‘im, probably my favorite show of the series. This story takes place during a “villain’s night out” where Batman’s main enemies aren’t committing crimes. They are all sitting around a table in a bar playing poker, relaxing. While talking, the conversation turns to Batman of corse. Like a group of fisherman swapping stories, each crook takes a turn telling the time that they were closest to killing Batman. The little vignettes were all full of action, and the framing story was very funny. A great combination, with an excellent ending line.
The Batman’s background story takes is fleshed out in a couple of episodes too. His early training plays an important part in Night of the Ninja, and I Am the Night introduces Dr. Leslie Thompkins who is an important person from when Bruce was young. Viewers get to find out just where the Batmoblie came from in The Mechanic, a great show that explains some aspects of Batman’s world that usually gets glossed over. Robin’s origin is recounted in Robin’s Reckoning, a two part story which won an Emmy. This story examines the bond between Batman and Robin, and why the Dark Knight agreed to raise a young boy.
The writing on the show is top notch. The show doesn’t dumb itself down to appeal to a young audience, the creators thought that if you have well written intelligent stories, kids would be attracted. They were right but the show also appeals to adults for the same reason.

One of the things Batman: The Animated Series does particularly well is infuse its villains with personality. They’re not a rotation of thugs with a different gimmick and costume each week — the writers go to great lengths to humanize these characters, and although they’re still unambiguously the bad guys, they still manage to be sympathetic at times. “His Silicon Soul”, following up on the two-part “Heart of Steel” from the previous collection, features a robotic duplicate of Batman unable to come to grips with the realization that he’s a machine.

The title character of “Baby-Doll” was created especially for the series. Think Webster with the race and gender reversed; Mary Louise Dahl was in her twenties but looked like a three-year-old, and she cashed in on that rare disability with a successful and hopelessly bland sitcom. An ill-advised career move derailed her as an actress, and a decade later, she’s systematically kidnapped all of her former co-stars in an attempt to reclaim those happy years. Again, as outlandish as the premise might sound, it really does work. You might smirk at reading about a teary-eyed Baby Doll attempting to fire an already-emptied doll-shaped pistol into a funhouse mirror, but the immeasurably talented writers are gifted enough to eke more pathos than I ever would have thought possible out of that.

Redemption, whether seized or tossed aside, is also frequently touched upon. “Sideshow” opens with a grueling chase between Batman and an escaped Killer Croc, who manages to stumble upon a remote farm that’s home to a group of former sideshow acts. They offer Croc a chance at an honest life, but old habits die hard. Another example is “House and Garden”. When a poisonous plant-creature starts a reign of terror in Gotham, Batman naturally turns his sights towards the recently-released Poison Ivy. She insists that she’s rehabilitated, and by all accounts, Ivy is happily married and living the mundane suburban life. The investigation continues to point back to her, and the final revelation involves some of the creepiest imagery ever seen in the series.
Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
Harley Quinn is also featured in a couple of episodes centered around her attempts to stick with the straight ‘n narrow. She’s a fan favorite for a reason, and these appearances are some of the most memorable episodes in this collection. “Harlequinade” is a chaotic team-up with Batman in an attempt to track down The Joker, who’s managed to get his hands on a bomb that’ll turn Gotham into a smoldering mushroom cloud. “Harley’s Holiday” documents her release from Arkham Asylum, and even though she’s determined to leave that life of crime behind her, an attempt to legitimately buy a pretty pink dress at a store spirals into a bad day…a really, really bad day, culminating in being chased by Batman.

It’s particularly great to see the villains interact with one another. That’s part of the fun of “Trial”, which has a reluctant prosecutor attempting to defend Batman in an insane trial when the inmates take over the asylum. The flipside of that coin is seen in “Lock-Up”, when a cruel jailer’s overzealousness gets him fired from Arkham and compels him to hunt down the left-leaning scum he blames for the state of the world. Another stand-out is “A Bullet for Bullock”, an episode in which the slovenly detective is rattled by death threats and reluctantly teams with Batman, and the ending is just one example of how clever the show’s writers can be. “Clever” is also the first word that instantly springs to mind for “Make ‘Em Laugh”, an episode where The Joker co-opts a fellow criminal’s technology to create a small army of fumbling costumed criminals with inane gimmicks.

These episodes introduce a couple of recurring villains ripped from the pages of the comics. Most notable among them is Ra’s al Ghul, who makes his first appearance in a two-parter penned by Len Wein and Denny O’Neil, familiar names to longtime readers of Batman’s four-color incarnation. The centuries-old Ra’s has virtually unlimited resources at his disposal, equally intrigued by Batman’s boundless skills as a detective as he is frustrated by his foe’s determination to disrupt his machinations. Ra’s often lends a Saturday morning serial flavor to the show, from the globe-trotting in his first few appearances to the flared pants of “Avatar”. The charismatic character has such a presence that he’s able to carry “Showdown” largely by himself in an episode that barely features Batman or Robin in any capacity. “Showdown” is set during the westward expansion of the mid-1800’s as Ra’s’ opposition to the sprawling railroads is pitted against scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex (one of the few DC characters not connected with the Batman mythos to appear on the show). The other noteworthy recurring villain is The Ventriloquist, a fairly timid-looking middle-aged man who seems more likely to be a CPA than a ruthless crimelord. Taken by himself, that seems to be the right impression, but when he has his puppet Scarface on the end of his arm… The Ventriloquist’s first appearance, “Read My Lips”, is one of my favorites of the season, and he returns twice after that.
Kevin Conroy and Robert Costanzo in Batman: The Animated Series (1992)Several other characters from the comics briefly appear, including Maxie Zeus, the back-breaking, Venom-fueled Bane, and the fairly obscure masked criminals of The Terrible Trio. The majority of Batman’s rogue’s gallery is present and accounted for, with The Penguin, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, The Mad Hatter, The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Clock King, Catwoman, The Riddler, The Scarecrow, Two-Face, and Mr. Freeze all wreaking havoc throughout Gotham City at some point or another. Even with the opening titles shifting on disc three from Batman: The Animated Series to The Adventures of Batman and Robin, there’s no discernable drop in quality.

After Batman: The Animated Series wrapped up its long, successful run on Fox, a revised version of the series — with most of the same talent in tow — popped up as part of the animation block on Kids’ WB. This half of The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Although the general look of Batman: The Animated Series is still in place, many of the character designs have been revamped, making them sharper, more angular, and somewhat stripped down. Sometimes the changes worked; The Scarecrow is a much more ominous, disturbing figure now, and I like the exaggerated, deranged look of The Mad Hatter. Others didn’t fare so well, especially the much blander looking Riddler, and I have mixed feelings about the older, frailer Jim Gordon and the beady-eyed look of the Joker. One of the more distinctive changes is that the yellow moon on Batman’s chest is gone, an alteration that makes it easy to distinguish one of these episodes from the previous animated incarnation.
One aspect of Batman: The Animated Series that has always impressed me is that even though it was a weekday afternoon cartoon based on a popular comic book character, it didn’t pander to a younger audience. Rewatching the box sets Warner has issued over the past year and a half, I find myself as engaged by them now in my mid-thirties as I was when I first saw them half a lifetime ago.

The New Batman Adventures is a odd mix because even though many of the stories seem geared towards a younger audience, the censors have lightened up, so the villains can use words like ‘murder’ and ‘kill’ more freely, its female characters (especially Harley Quinn) are less subtle with the sexual innuendo, and there’s even a little blood. Over the Edge, one of my favorite episodes of any of Batman’s animated incarnations, with batman hunted by  by Commissioner Gordon as his men spray gunfire throughout the Batcave in a frantic chase against Batman and Robin. It’s a dark, unflinchingly brutal story about loss and betrayal, showing the Dark Knight at his lowest point with his identity exposed and facing greater adversity than he ever has before.

It’s not all dark and dour, though. Another favorite is “Joker’s Millions”, which opens with the Joker struggling with his finances. Robots, hyena chow, Joker venom, and overly elaborate death traps aren’t cheap, but he gets an unexpected windfall when a dead mobster leaves the flat-broke Joker a quarter-billion dollars in his will. The Joker goes on a spastic spending spree, bribing everyone in sight into wiping his criminal record clean, but…whoops. There’s a catch, of course, and the Joker’s not the one who gets the last laugh.

the Joker also take center-stage in “Mad Love”, an episode penned by Paul Dini that was later spun off by DC into a graphic novel. “Mad Love” takes a look at how ambitious, straightlaced psychiatrist Harlene Quinzel could become infatuated with a psychotic madman like the Joker. The Joker’s far more interested in cobbling together some sort of complicated trap to knock off Batsy than fooling around with his eager-to-please henchwoman, so she tries to get her puddin’s attention by rehashing one of his unused schemes and getting rid of Batman once and for all. This is the sort of character-centric episode that I thought really defined Batman: The Animated Series, and “Mad Love” ranks with the best of the series.
“Legends of the Dark Knight” is another personal favorite, paying homage to some of Batman’s different incarnations over the decades. Dick Sprang gets the first nod in a segment with Batman duking it out with the Joker in a music museum with all of the puns, oversized props, and four-color action you’d expect from a Golden Age comic, followed up by a deeply impressive segment with Frank Miller’s hulking, fifty-something Batman squaring off against an army of mutants in the future. The side story with a few kids getting tangled up in an arson-for-hire gig with Firefly doesn’t stack up to the rest of the episode, but who cares?
There are a few other episodes worth pointing out. “Girls’ Night Out” is set with both Batman and Superman out of town, leaving Batgirl and Supergirl to square off against Harley, Poison Ivy, and electrifying Supes-villain Livewire.Dick Grayson, the original Robin, has struck out on his own as Nightwing, and he’s highlighted several times — first in “You Scratch My Back”, which teams him with Catwoman, much to Batman’s chagrin, and again in “Old Wounds”, where Grayson tells Batgirl why he could no longer fight alongside the Dark Knight. The episodes on this box set also introduce The Creeper, the demon Etrigan, and Firefly to the animated series,  Villains like Two Face, The Mad Hatter, Catwoman, Clayface, Mr. Freeze, The Scarecrow, The Ventriloquist, Bane, Killer Croc, Baby Doll, and, briefly, The Riddler also return to torment Gotham again.