REVIEW: HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING

CAST

Christopher Lambert (Fortress)
Sean Connery (The Hunt for Red October)
Virginia Madsen (Sideways)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Allan Rich (Amistad)
John C. McGinley (Scrubs)
Rusty Schwimmer (Heroes)

In August 1994, news broadcasts announce that the ozone layer is fading, and will be completely gone in a matter of months. In Africa, millions have perished from the effects of unfiltered sunlight. Among the dead is Connor MacLeod’s wife, Brenda Wyatt MacLeod. Before dying, Brenda extracts a promise from Connor that he will solve the problem of the ozone layer. By 1999, Connor MacLeod becomes the supervisor of a scientific team headed by Dr. Allan Neyman, which attempts to create an electromagnetic shield to cover the planet, and protect it from the Sun’s radiation. The team succeeds, in effect giving Earth an artificial ozone layer. MacLeod and Neyman are proud to have saved humanity, and believe they will be remembered for a thousand years.
The shield has the side effect of condemning the planet to a state of constant night, a high average global temperature, and high humidity. By 2024, the years of darkness have caused humanity to lose hope and fall into a decline. The shield has fallen under the control of the Shield Corporation. The corporation’s current chief executive, David Blake, is focused on profit, and is imposing fees for the corporation’s services. A number of terrorist groups have begun trying to take down the Shield, among them Louise Marcus, a former employee of the Shield Corporation.

Meanwhile, MacLeod, now a frail old man, expects to eventually die of natural causes. As he watches a performance of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, an image of Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez appears, and induces MacLeod to recall a forgotten event of his past. On the planet Zeist, a last meeting is held between the members of a rebellion against the rule of General Katana. The rebellion’s leader, Ramirez, chooses “a man of great destiny” from among them—MacLeod—to carry out a mission against Katana. At this moment, Katana and his troops attack, crushing the rebellion. Katana orders his men to capture Ramirez and MacLeod alive and kill the rest of the rebels. The two captives are put on trial by Zeist’s priests, who sentence them to be exiled and reborn on Earth in pursuit of “The Prize.” Winning the Prize gives the victor the choice to either grow old and die on Earth, or to return to Zeist. Katana is unsatisfied with their decision, but the sentence is executed, leading to the events of the original 1986 film.

Back in 2024, Louise Marcus discovers that the ozone layer has in fact restored itself naturally, which means that the shield is no longer needed. The Shield Corporation is aware of this development, but has chosen to hide it from the general public in order to maintain its main source of profit. Meanwhile, on Zeist, Katana decides that MacLeod cannot be allowed to return, and sends his immortal henchmen, Corda and Reno, to kill him.

Marcus manages to reach MacLeod first, and asks for his help in taking down the Shield. To her disappointment, she finds the passionate person she once admired has grown into a tired old man. MacLeod explains to her that he is dying and expresses his disapproval of terrorism. Before they can finish their conversation, Corda and Reno attack. MacLeod manages to decapitate them both, absorbs their energy during the Quickening, and regains his youthful appearance. In the process, MacLeod summons Ramirez back to life.

In Glencoe, Scotland – the location of his death in the first Highlander film – Ramirez is revived. He finds himself on a theatrical stage during a performance of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Meanwhile, MacLeod has found a new lover in Marcus. He attempts unsuccessfully to explain to her the concepts of his immortality. Elsewhere, General Katana arrives in New York, the scene of The Gathering and begins wreaking havoc.

Both Ramirez and Katana soon adapt to their new environment. Ramirez’s earring is apparently valuable enough to pay both for a new suit he acquires from the finest and oldest tailor’s shop in Scotland, and for an airplane ticket to New York City. Katana finds New York much to his liking. After entertaining himself for a while, Katana encounters MacLeod at a church. Since immortals are forbidden from fighting on holy ground, they do not fight each other, but MacLeod expresses rage at being immortal once again.

Soon thereafter, MacLeod is contacted by Ramirez, who joins them in their plan to take down the Shield. Katana, expecting this, forges an uneasy alliance with David Blake, who mentions that shutting down the planetary shield would require so much energy that the planet would be destroyed. The conflict between the two sets of allies eventually leads to the deaths of Dr. Allan Neyman, Ramirez, Blake and General Katana himself. MacLeod succeeds in taking down the Shield by using the combined energies of his final Quickening from General Katana. Marcus sees the stars for the first time in her life. MacLeod then claims The Prize by returning to Zeist with Marcus.Sure the original theatrical version was bad but that was not due to the makers, it was due to a financial company that backed the production. Here (in the directors cut) is the way that it was supposed to be made. It has great action, great production value plus the return of Sean Connery. It gives some explanation as to how the competition began and it shows how Connor used the “prize” from the first film. If this had been the version that was originally released on the theater’s in 1991, It would of fared better.

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REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS

CAST (VOICES)

Benjamin Bratt (Catwoman)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Tamara Taylor (Bones)
Paget Brewster (Community)
C. Thoms Howell (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Eric bauza (Batman: Assault on Arkham)
Larry Cedar (Constantine)
Richard Chamberlain (Chuck)

In an alternate universe, the Justice League is a brutal force that maintains order on Earth. This universe has its own versions of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman:Superman is Hernan Guerra,[citation needed] the son of General Zod, who was rocketed to Earth as a child and raised by a family of honorable and hardworking Mexican migrant farmers. Having gone through the troubles that illegal immigrants face in the United States, he has become short tempered and withdrawn from humanity. Batman is Dr. Kirk Langstrom, a scientist who, after graduating college, has inadvertently transformed himself into a form of pseudo-vampire in an attempt to cure his cancer, feeding on criminals to satisfy his hunger after it begins to eat away at his humanity.
Wonder Woman is Bekka, a New God and the widow of Darkseid’s son Orion, who fled Apokolips for Earth using a mother box-sword after the New God Highfather killed her husband in a massacre of the Apokolips royal family.

The Justice League’s unaccountability is ultimately challenged by the world’s governments following the suspicious deaths of three renowned scientists: Victor Fries, who was drained of blood in the Arctic, Ray Palmer, who was sliced into two with a sharp weapon, with his car having traces of a high heel shoe, and Silas Stone, who was burned alive by an explosion of heat vision energy along with his young son Victor Stone. The true killers are dark, robotic creatures with appearances and attributes mirroring the Justice League’s, along with ‘Boom Tube’ teleportation abilities. As all suspicion falls on the Justice League, President Amanda Waller asks that they co-operate with the government’s investigation. Wonder Woman speaks to Steve Trevor to learn what the government knows while Superman invites Lois Lane to the Justice League’s HQ, where he tells her of his goals to help humanity, and reveals how little he knows about Krypton or his heritage.

Batman investigates himself and discovers an email on Silas’ computer that was sent to a number of scientists including Dr. Will Magnus, Kirk’s best friend and college roommate who helped his transformation. Having remained close friends with Magnus and his wife, Tina, Batman asks the doctor about “Project Fair Play,” which involved all the scientists under Lex Luthor’s employ, but Magnus tells him nothing. Later, Batman locates all the remaining scientists (consisting of Magnus, John Henry Irons, Michael Holt, Karen Beecher, Pat Dugan, Kimiyo Hoshi, Emil Hamilton, T. O. Morrow, and Stephen Shin) discussing the possible threat over their heads, when they are attacked by the robotic assassins, who travel via Boom Tube. Despite Batman and later, the other League Members intervening, the assassins slaughter the remaining scientists and Tina before ‘Booming’ out, with Magnus being severely burned, and the sole survivor of the attack.

The Justice League take Magnus to their HQ, the Tower of Justice, to recover, while Superman flies into orbit to a satellite, where Luthor now resides. Luthor reveals that Project Fair Play is a weapons program to destroy the League if necessary, while also revealing that he retained all the remaining information on Krypton from Superman’s shuttle, and tells him the truth about Zod, who Superman had envisioned as a hero trying to save his world. Luthor tells Superman that Waller has the original files, and as Superman leaves, a robotic assassin booms in and the satellite explodes. As Superman looks on in shock, Trevor shows satellite footage of the explosion and Superman’s presence to Waller, and she retaliates with Project Fair Play, which consists of troops and vehicles armed with energy weapons powered by red sunlight radiation.

Superman and Wonder Woman face the army at their door as Batman stays inside the Tower, where he activates the Tower’s forcefield, with the idea being that once Magnus recovers, he can clear the League. Suddenly, Tina arrives, confusing Batman, who saw her dead body, but before he can ask the obvious question, she subdues him and shapeshifts into a liquid metal robot. With Batman restrained by Tin, Magnus’ house robot, Tina revives Magnus, who is revealed to have orchestrated the framing of the League, with Nanites that enhance his physical strength to mildly superhuman levels. The assassins, and Tina, are in fact the Metal Men, and the assassins appear with a weapon. Magnus tells Batman that he intends to use a Nanite Bomb to forcefully link humanity together into a hive mind. He reveals to Batman that he accidentally killed the real Tina in a fit of rage one night early in their marriage. Overwhelmed with irrational jealousy, Will believed that she secretly loved Kirk, and was tired of her constantly begging him to find a cure for Kirk’s vampiric condition. After covering up her death, Magnus replaced her with a robotic duplicate named Platinum, and joined Fair Play soon after, intending to use its resources to fund his secret Nanite Bomb project, as he feels that his actions prove that humanity does not deserve to continue if even a brilliant, rational man like himself could do that to his own wife.

As Magnus prepares his weapon, Lex Luthor suddenly teleports into the middle of the battle outside and tells everyone that he has discovered Magnus’ plan. Inside, Batman destroys Tin and frees himself, then seizes an opportunity to drop the forcefield. The Justice League then do battle, with Batman fighting Magnus, Wonder Woman facing Platinum, and Superman fighting the other Metal Men, who quickly merge into a single, more powerful form. Eventually, they all succeed, the bomb is destroyed (at the cost of Superman’s Kryptonian escape craft) and a regretful Magnus commits suicide by disintegrating himself with nanites. week later, the Justice League has been cleared of all wrongdoing, and the world, along with Lois Lane, views them differently. Bekka decides to leave the Justice League to face her past along with Lex Luthor, who wants to explore other worlds after growing bored with this one. Before leaving through a Boom Tube, Lex Luthor gives Superman all the data on Krypton and tells him to be a “real hero”. The film ends with Superman and Batman deciding to sort through the data immediately to help humanity.Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett have really crafted a masterpiece here with ‘God’s and Monsters.’ Each of the 3 main Justice Leaguers or the trinity if you prefer, have been reimagined for this universe in very unique and imaginative ways, we enabled the writers to go further with our heroes than might be possible in the main DC continuity.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE – SEASON 1-2

Image result for JUSTICE LEAGUE  TV LOGO 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)

Image result for JUSTICE LEAGUE   CARTOONRECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Gary Cole (Chuck)
Susan Sullivan (The Incredible Hulk 70s)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Rene Auberjonois (Stargate SG.1)
Garrett Morris (New Girl)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Scott Rummell (Rugrats)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
John Rhys-Davis (Lord of The Rings)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight)
William Smith (Conan The Barbarian)
Virginia Madsen (Sideways)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Powers Boothe (Agents of SHIELD)
Julie Bowen (Lost)
Olivia d’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Pam Grier (Jackie Brown)
Tom Sizemore (Heat)
Danica McKellar (Young Justice)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Patrick Duffy (Dallas)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Down Under)
William Atherton (Die Hard)
Fairuza Balk (Almost Famous)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
Dany Delany (Superman: TAS)
Larry Drake (Firefly)
Keith David (The Cape)
Michael Jai white (Arrow)
Brian Doyle Murray (Wayne’s World)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Lukas Haas (Inception)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Rob Zombie (Super)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Arleen Sorkin Duet)
Khary Payton (Teen Titans)
Greg Cipes (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Scott Menville (Frozen)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Elizabeth Pena (The Incredibles)

When it comes to comic book related cartoons there are several that have gained mainstream popularity over the years. From Spider-Man to X-Men or Batman to Superman, DC and Marvel have been fighting it out through animation for some time now. One could argue when Bruce Timm brought his talents to the Batman series DC struck gold and they have been on a roll since.

For over a decade Batman and Superman have been mainstays in the world of cartoons thanks to Timm. His unique design breathed new life into the shows that he produced and brought Batman Beyond and Justice League into the spotlight as well. While Batman Beyond may be the most original concept, the Justice League has technically been around since the 60s. There have been many incarnations of the superhero group over the years, though this one feels modern yet somewhat closer to original JLA. Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Hawkgirl, Flash, J’onn (Martian Manhunter), and the Green Lantern (John Stewart not Hal Jordan) all come together to form this new team.

If you have been a fan of the previous DC cartoons and haven’t checked this one out then you’ll want to pay attention. Just about everybody from the run that started over 10 years ago is contributing to the Justice League. That’s a lot of consistency and means that if Batman sounds familiar to you when you hear him it’s because Kevin Conroy is still his voice.

As is the case with a lot of productions of this nature you really need to have some basic understanding of what’s going on in order to really appreciate it. In fact a lot of what goes on this season is based on the assumption that the viewer knows certain characters and histories involved with them. Unlike Batman Beyond which basically built its world from scratch, the Justice League tiptoes the type of line that could have fanboys throwing their arms up in frustration. Fortunately even though this first season is a little more action-oriented and oddly paced, it is very successful.

Since there are so many characters and most of them are familiar the series takes its time introducing them to us. This means that character specific episodes are in the mix here but some of the League’s personalities don’t get fleshed out as the season progresses. Most of the attention seems to be paid to Green Lantern, Hawk Girl, Wonder Woman, and J’onn. That’s not to say that Flash, Superman, and Batman don’t get their fair amount of screen time. It’s just difficult to find a perfect balance with so many heroes to focus on. While there isn’t a lot of continuity within the episodes that are featured here the episodes themselves are like mini-arcs. Each story in the first season is split up between two or three episodes. This gives the plot more room to develop and doubles the run time. For the most part each episode in the first season here is pretty good.


Some of my favorite episodes were “The Enemy Below”, “In Blackest Night”, “Metamorphosis”, and “The Savage Time”. In “The Enemy Below” Aquaman’s character is introduced with a plot that involves Atlantis destroying the surface civilization. I always liked Aquaman and the way that he’s portrayed in this episode showcased the strength of his determination. “In Blackest Night” was enjoyable as well and featured Green Lantern being put on trial for the destruction of a planet. Probably the biggest treat for me in this season was “A Knight with Shadows”. In the DC universe The Demon (Etrigan) always struck me as one of the most interesting side characters because of the ties to Arthurian legend. Imagine my surprise when Etrigan and his human form Jason Blood show up muttering about the villainess Morgan le Fay. She’s looking for the Philosopher’s Stone and the Justice League joins Etrigan in an effort to stop her.

The dialogue was much better in the second season as well with more fluid storytelling and greater character interactions. Yes, the creators, actors and writers finally hit their stride with this season and there’s nothing to complain about. These episodes are bigger and bolder than the previous ones. More risks were taken with the storytelling and the franchise tapped into the vast pool of DC resources. The result is a collection of the best that Timm and company have had to offer over the years and something that comic book fans shouldn’t be without.

The way that Justice League tells its tales is in the form of two part episodes instead of stand alone adventures. The first season did the same thing and quite honestly it adds a certain amount of quality to the manner in which the story unfolds. With roughly 45 minutes to bring a plot from point A to B instead of 22 minutes things are allowed more time to flesh out and develop. Sometimes past events even come back so don’t be surprised if you see some things that are referenced to an episode in the first season. In the second season there are quite a few stories worth mentioning because they are simply amazing.

One of my favorite story arcs from this season is one called “Tabula Rasa”. In it the League sends Luthor packing but during his flight he stumbles across an android called AMAZO. It’s a cheesy name for sure, but once AMAZO’s powers are revealed he takes on a life of his own and becomes one of the greatest challenges that the JL has ever faced. His ability is to analyze and mimic the powers of anyone that he comes in contact with. As he squares off against Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, J’onn and eventually Superman he just gets stronger and stronger. The battle not only threatens to destroy Metropolis but the League as well when things get out of control.

“Only in a Dream” was cool because it showed that without Batman the League would probably have been defeated long before now. It’s just ironic that despite all of the super powers that they possess it’s up to Bruce Wayne and his utility belt of toys to save the day. In this particular episode an inmate becomes imbued with psychic powers and can enter people’s dreams. One by one the League falls under his spell and are left in a catatonic state. Batman and J’onn have to team up to take down the bad guy and bring his victims out of their dreamland.

My second favorite adventure in this set has to be “A Better World”. The story starts out in typical fashion with Superman and company taking down Luthor. The twist here is that Luthor is the president and Superman crosses the line between Boyscout and murderer. Two years later the Justice Lords dominate Earth and keep humanity in check to save them from themselves. The super dictatorship seems to be going well and good until the alternative Batman discovers a universe where our Justice League lives. Evil Batman and company capture our heroes and set out to take over their world. The most definitive moment from this episode is when Doomsday comes to town. You’ll remember him as the guy that “killed” Superman in the comic books. Well, the Justice Lord Superman isn’t going to put up with that so when the fight doesn’t go as planned he simply lobotomizes Doomsday and takes him out of the picture completely. This plotline has everything you could ever want from a comic book standpoint and really makes the what if scenario shine.

Several other episodes like “The Terror Beyond”, “Hereafter” and “Wildcards” all prove to be just as exciting though the crown jewel is probably the three part story that ends the season: “Starcrossed”. The hawkpeople from Thanagar arrive on Earth and destroy a Gordanian battleship. They bring news of an impending invasion and form an alliance with Earth to construct a force field to save the planet. It is revealed that Hawkgirl has been a spy for her people all along and is actually betrothed to a high ranking officer. In the meantime Batman discovers that the Gordanian’s aren’t actually attacking Earth and that the invasion was in fact being conducted by the people of Thanagar. The League has to battle for their planet and Shayera Hol (Hawkgirl) has to figure out which side of the fence she is on. This was the perfect way to end this great season and leaves things open for Justice League Unlimited.

To say the second season of Justice League was better than the first would be a gross understatement. Everything in the show was improved for the second year and that was mostly thanks to the big risks taken by the creators. They thought bigger and out of the box and it shows once you finish watching the end result.