CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: THE SMURFS: A CHRISTMAS CAROL

CAST (VOICES)

Jack Angel (A.I.)
Fred Armisen (Anchorman)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Gary Basaraba (Boomtown)
George Lopez (Spare Parts)
Melissa Sturm (The Lego Movie)
Anton Yelchin (Star Trek)

On a Christmas morning, the Smurfs get ready for their Christmas party. Hefty Smurf and Handy Smurf cut down a Christmas tree, and by Christmas evening, they all finish and start to celebrate. Grouchy Smurf refuses to join the party, expressing his hatred towards Christmas. After their Christmas party, all of the Smurfs go to bed and receive a gift from Papa Smurf – a Smurf hat handcrafted by him. Grouchy wakes up to find a present in front of his door.


He opens it and finds a Smurf hat, but not the one he had expected – a hang glider. Grouchy yells at the top of his lungs, “I hate Christmas”. Subsequently, he sees everything around him turn into animation, and finds himself animated too.

Suddenly, he sees an angel appear, who seems to be Smurfette. She explains to him that she is the Smurf of Christmas Past to teach him a lesson about appreciating Christmas. She shows him a young “Smurfling” receiving a gift, which is a Smurf hat, and how happy the Smurfling was to get it. Then the Smurf of Christmas Present, who is Brainy Smurf, appears and shows how he felt about the gift he had received. He then tells him to be happy on Christmas. Then the Smurf of Christmas Future, who appears as Hefty Smurf, shows Grouchy his future. Hefty tells him that if he does not change his ways, all of the Smurfs will wander into the forest and get captured by Gargamel and his cat. Then everything around him goes back to its original form, and the Smurfs come and see Grouchy on the Christmas tree decorating it by putting ornaments on it. He yells out to the Smurfs, “Merry Christmas everyone”.

A Very nice story, it is good for Kids and Adults.

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REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN (1994) – SEASON 1-5

 

 

CAST

Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Rodney Saulsberry (The Animatrix)
Jennifer Hale (Wreck-It Ralph)
Gary Imhoff (The Green Mile)
Sara Ballantine (Batman Year One)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Liz Georges (As Told By Ginger)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Joseph Campanella (Ben)
Patrick Labyorteaux (Yes Man)
Maxwell Caulfield (Alien Intruder)
Neil Ross (Rambo)
Roscoe Lee Brown (Babe)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Batman: TAS)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
George Buza (Mutant X)
Cedric Smith (Earth: Final Conflict)
Norm Spencer (Rescue Heroes)
Catherine Disher (Forever Knight)
Alison Sealy-Smith (You Kill Me)
Alyson Court (Beetlejuice TV)
Chris Potter (Heartland)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek Generations)
J.D. Hall (Undercover Brother)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday the 13th – Part 8)
George Takei (Star Trek)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Courtney Peldon (Frozen)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Barbara Goodson (Power Rangers)
James Avery (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Jeff Corey (Conan The Destroyer)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Mira Furlan (Lost)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
David Hayter (X-Men)
Roy Dotrice (Hercules: TLJ)
Paul Winfield (Star Trek II)
Majel Barrett (Star Trek)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

The set itself is well presented, although the artwork is a little cheap, and clearly done in a way as to mimic the style of the 90s series. Anyone who has the recent X-Men Season releases will be familiar with this. Unlike those, this one also has a slipcase. A booklet with episode synopses is also included.

Spider-Man has season-long arcs, which when viewed in succession make for great television. Christopher Barnes is brilliant as Spider-Man (especially in those fleeting moments of extreme rage), and the guests were memorable too, particularly Rob Paulsen’s oafish Hydro Man and Jennifer Hale as Felicia Hardy/ Black Cat.

The music was great too, but while Spider-Man relied on several repeated  cues,  Another thing about Spider-Man is that even after all these years I find myself being surprised by some of the plot twists, which were even more abundant upon first viewing. Thankfully, John Semper (creative head of the show) was bold enough to change much of the original stories to make them worth animating in the first place. What else? A minor triumph, but the colouring on this cartoon is the best of any I’ve ever seen. A simple praise. While the show lost its way during the muddled fourth year it had some great episodes in the last series, with one of the greatest resolution-with-cliffhanger endings in animation history. A rare treat in that its much, much better than you remember it.

Some of the best episodes were – the three-parter, “The Alien Costume”- a marvellous introduction for the ultimately underused Venom (a deliciously insane Hank Azaria)- and the two-part “Hobgoblin” are among the best in the show’s five-year run. “Night of the Lizard”, a pilot of sorts, is interesting in that there’s an awful lot more effort put into the animation than in later episodes, as is often the case.

Animation from the 1990s doesn’t come much better than this, and Marvel have yet to top it.

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS – SEASON 3 & 4

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CAST (VOICES)

Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Arlene Banas (The Psychic)
Gregg Berger (Despicable Me 3)
Susan Blu (Cars)
Corey Burton (Aladdin)
Roger C. Camrel (Star Trek)
Victor Caroli (My Little Pony)
Philip L. Clarke (The Little Mermaid)
Regis Corde (Obsession)
Bud Davis (Against The Wall)
Paul Eiding (Wall-E)
Dick Gautier (Fun With Dick and Jane)
Dan Gilvezan (Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends)
Buster Jones (The Real Ghostbusters)
Stan Jones (Super Friends)
John Moschitta Jr. (Dick Tracy)
Alan Oppenheimer (He-Man)
Hal Yale (Ewok Adventures)
Neil Ross (G.I. Joe)
John Stephenson (Centurions)
Aron Kincaid (Ski Party)
Peter Cullen (Dungeons and Dragons)
David Mendenhall (Over The Top)
Chris Latta (G.I. Joe)
Beau Weaver (The Substitute)
Rob Paulsen (The Mask)
Michael Bell (The Smurfs)
Charlie Adler (Superhero Squad)
Jared Barclay (Howling VI)

In 1986, the Transformers went into their third season, making some bold marketing decisions, and they must have paid off because twenty years or so later here it is on DVD. Those who are not Transformers savvy will be completely and utterly confused when watching the episodes on Season 3 and 4 box set. Twenty years has passed since season 2 and The Transformers have had their very own movie. It’s that movie which bridges the gap between season 2 and 3 and fills in all of the blanks. You really need to have seen the movie as Season 3 is the aftermath and has extensions of the events of the movie.In the now customary silver slipcase come four discs that make up season 3 and 4. Three discs containing nine episodes each and the final one holding six plus extra features. Season 3 consists of a massive thirty episodes, where as season 4 is a lowly three episodes. Each of the individual volumes comes complete with impressive artwork from Transformers comic book artist Andrew Wildman and the slipcase holds an image of Decepticon leader Galvatron.The first very evident thing about season 3 is the almost completely new cast, with very few of the original robots surviving the war against Unicron in the movie. A brave move considering in season 3, favourites such as Optimus Prime, Megatron and Starscream are now dead. This new cast does has a lot to offer in the way of replacements, with new Autobot leader Rodimus Prime and his faithful soldiers Ultra Magnus, Kup, Springer and Arcee. To keep things even we are treated to a batch of brand new bad guys as well, in the form of Galvatron, Scourge and Cyclonus. As the number of seasons grow, so do the size of these transforming robots as now we can see them go from robot mode to anything from a small cassette tape deck to an entire city.Along with this new cast comes a new writing composition. Instead of stories containing themselves to one episode as the first seasons tended to do, season 3 feels a lot more developed and structured, as plots can span a couple of episodes and have several themes explored within them. There’s Rodimus Primes’ internal struggle to live up to the great Optimus, Galvatron’s damaged brain slipping further into the realms of the demented, the history of Cybertron, Starscream’s Ghost and even Dinobot Island get a mention. With the new writing framework comes a new look, as the Autobots have now reclaimed their home planet Cybertron, and the action leaves Earth, and some human involvement, behind and focuses much more on the whole Universe. The adventures spread through many different planets with various inhabitants to save, but leave the audience without an emotional attachment to any of the locations and backdrops.Season 3 contains some great animation from episodes such as ‘Call of the Primitives’ and ‘The Return of Optimus Prime’. Season 4 was the last three episodes of Transformers before the show was cancelled. It’s a great shame as it was going from strength to strength and we had just been introduced to the brand new Headmasters, Optimus Prime is back from the dead and Bumblebee has been rebuilt into Goldbug, but we will never see the results of these.

 

 

 

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE

CAST (VOICES)

Peter Cullen (Dungeons and Dragons)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Orson Welles (Citizen Kane)
Eric Idle (Monty Python)
Judd Nelson (New Jack City)
Robert Stack (Caddyshack II)
Roger C. Carmel (Star Trek)
Neil Ross (G.I. Joe)
Susan Blu (Jem)
Lionel Stander (Hart To Hart)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
John Moschitta Jr. (Dick Tracy)
Buster Jones (Super Friends)
Paul Eiding (Ben 10)
Gregg Berger (The Jetsons)
Michael Bell (Rugrats)
Chris Latta (G.I. Joe)
Casey Kasem (Battle of The Planets)
Scatman Crothers (The Shining)
Dan Gilvezan (Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends)
Corey Burton (Aladdin)
Stan Jones (Challenge of The Super Friends)
Arthur Burghardt (Star Kid)
Don Messick (The Last Unicorn)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Ed Gilbert (The little Mermaid)
Clive Revill (Return To Neverland)
Hal Yale (Ewok Adventures)
Norman Alden (Super Friends)

In 2005, the war between the Autobots and Decepticons has culminated in the Decepticons conquering their home planet Cybertron, while the Autobots operate from its two moons preparing a counter-offensive. Optimus Prime sends an Autobot shuttle to Earth’s Autobot City for Energon supplies, but the Decepticons, led by Megatron, commandeer the ship and kill the crew, consisting of Ironhide, Ratchet, Prowl and Brawn. Travelling to Earth, the Decepticons attack Autobot City, slaughtering many Autobots and leaving only a small group alive including Hot Rod, Kup, Ultra Magnus, Arcee, Springer, Blurr, Perceptor, Blaster, and the human Daniel Witwicky. The next day, Optimus and the Dinobots arrive as reinforcements. Optimus single-handedly defeats the Decepticons and engages Megatron in a climactic battle that leaves both of them mortally wounded. On his death bed, Optimus passes the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus, informing him that its power will light the Autobots’ darkest hour, and dies.Elsewhere, the Decepticons jettison their wounded from Astrotrain, including Megatron at the hands of his treacherous second-in-command Starscream. The wounded are found by Unicron, a gigantic sentient cyber-planet who consumes other planets. Unicron offers Megatron a new body in exchange for destroying the Matrix, which has the ability to destroy him. Megatron agrees and is converted into Galvatron, gaining new troops from the other Decepticons present. Going to Cybertron, Galvatron crashes Starscream’s coronation as Decepticon commander and destroys him, before travelling to Autobot City to eliminate Ultra Magnus. The surviving Autobots escape in separate shuttles which are damaged by the Decepticons and crash land on different planets.transformers-movie-bluray-screenshot-2Hot Rod and Kup are taken prisoner by the Quintessons, multi-faced tyrants who hold kangaroo courts and execute prisoners by feeding them to the Sharkticons. Hot Rod and Kup learn of Unicron from Kranix, a survivor of Lithone – a planet devoured by Unicron. After Kranix is executed, Hot Rod and Kup escape their own trial, aided by the arrival of the Dinobots and the small Autobot Wheelie, who helps them find a ship to leave the planet. The other Autobots land on the Junk Planet, where Galvatron kills Ultra Magnus and seizes the Matrix, intending on using it to control Unicron. The Autobots reunite and befriend the local Junkions, led by Wreck-Gar, who then rebuild Magnus. Learning Galvatron has the Matrix, the Autobots and Junkions fly to Cybertron, which Unicron, discovered to be a gigantic Transformer also now in robot form, begins to destroy.14041_1The Autobots crash their spaceship through Unicron’s eye, but they end up separated. Daniel rescues his father Spike and Jazz, Bumblebee, and Cliffjumper from being devoured. Hot Rod confronts Galvatron, who tries to form an alliance, but is forced into attacking Hot Rod by Unicron. Hot Rod obtains the Matrix, which converts him into Rodimus Prime, the Autobot that Optimus said would light their darkest hour. Rodimus tosses Galvatron into space and uses the Matrix’s power to destroy Unicron from the inside. The Autobots celebrate the end of the war and the retaking of Cybertron, while Unicron’s severed head continues to orbit the planet.vlcsnap-2011-12-12-17h24m21s199_758_426_81_s_c1Transformers the movie is a retro 80’s cult classic that not only took the original series forward in the animation department but also took the story forward in to the future with the next generation of Transformers. All the fan favourites are here with new ones to be cherishing, and the soundtrack to this movie is probably one of the best sounding albums to come out of the 80’s. This movie still holds up as one of the best TV to Movie translations of all time, and it still kicks major league butt as well. The only drawback that it has that they did not make a sequel to this classic in animation.

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS – SEASON 2 – PART 2

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CAST (VOICES)

Peter Cullen (Dungeons and Dragons)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Scatman Crothers (The Shining)
Victor Caroli (My Little Pony)
Chris Latta (G.I. Joe)
Corey Burton (Aladdin)
Dan Gilvezan (Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends)
Casey Kasem (Battle of The Planets)
Ken Sansom (The Tigger Movie)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Gregg Berger (The Jetsons)
Michael Chain (Dink The Litte Dinosaur)
Bud Davis (House of The Rising Sun)
Walker Edminston (Dick Tracy)
Paul Eiding (Up!)
Ed Gilbert (The Little Mermaid)
Michael McConnohie (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Hal Yale (Ewok Adventures)
Peter Renaday (Archer)
Neil Ross (Centurions)

In 1984, Hasbro unwittingly gave pop culture the world over a swift kick in the balls when it unleashed The Transformers onto an unsuspecting and surprisingly hungry public. Boys (and girls) the world over would run home from school every day to take in the weekly animated adventures these robots in disguise. The ability to turn from an average every day vehicle (or in some cases, a gun, a dinosaur, or a Walkman) into a bad ass robot was something that, for whatever reason, just clicked with the kids of the eighties and it’s something that really hasn’t gone away over twenty-five years later, thanks to spin off series’ galore, an animated movie, a big budget dumbed-down Hollywood film and sequel, and of course, plenty of very cool toys.The series revolves around the Autobots, lead by the noble Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons, lead by the sinister Megatron, two warring factions from the planet of Cybertron who have unwittingly crash landed on the Earth when our series begins. They bring their conflict with them to their new home and soon find themselves battling it out across the globe, each side hoping to find the energy source it needs to return back to their native planet. And that’s more or less it, kids. Good guys fight bad guys while the fate of a world hangs in the balance. This series deviates only slightly from countless other children’s shows in that, like the competing Go-Bots (who were not so much robots in disguise as they were might robots and mighty vehicles), they had the super cool ability to transform.The first season introduced us to the core characters – Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz and Spike on the Autobots side and Megatron, Starscream, and Soundwave comprising the Decepticons as well as The Dinobots, and the Constructocons. All of those characters are still here but this time around we get some other interesting Transformers thrown into the mix. Omega Supreme plays a big part in the first episode in this collection where we learn of his origins and how he ties in with the Constructocons. Smokescreen gets his fifteen minute of fame in this collection and Elita One and the female Autobots show up to make trouble for the Decpticons only to get captured forcing the female Autobots to have to work hand in hand with their male counterparts to save Elita and Optimus. Powerglide, Astrotrain, Blitzwing, Seaspray, the Stunticons, the Arielbots, the Combaticons, the Protectobots and other assorted oddball supporting characters come and go throughout this collection as well, making it sometimes a fair bit more interesting than the earlier episodes that centered around more or less the same few characters.Plenty of cliffhangers are found this time around and there’s tighter than average continuity here as well, for a kid’s show at least. There’s still a lot of formulaic writing on hand even if it is more interesting than the extremely formulaic first season, but younger viewers probably won’t mind so much, in fact some might see that as a plus. There’s something to be said for children’s entertainment delivering what you expect it to and hope it will and this series definitely falls into that category. As the second season winds to a close you can see that the stage is being set for Transformers: The Movie, the animated feature film that hit theaters the summer after this season finished airing. The movie would in turn set the stage for the third season, the series’ last full length, and the very brief fourth season. These would prove to be considerably different in tone and which featured a vastly different array of characters thanks to the repercussions of the events in that film.

 

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS – SEASON 2 – PART 1

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CAST (VOICES)

Peter Cullen (Dungeons and Dragons)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Scatman Crothers (The Shining)
Victor Caroli (My Little Pony)
Chris Latta (G.I. Joe)
Corey Burton (Aladdin)
Dan Gilvezan (Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends)
Casey Kasem (Battle of The Planets)
Ken Sansom (The Tigger Movie)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Gregg Berger (The Jetsons)
Michael Chain (Dink The Litte Dinosaur)
Bud Davis (House of The Rising Sun)
Walker Edminston (Dick Tracy)
Paul Eiding (Up!)
Ed Gilbert (The Little Mermaid)
Michael McConnohie (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Hal Yale (Ewok Adventures)
Peter Renaday (Archer)
Neil Ross (Centurions)

As one of the most successful franchises in American pop culture history, The Transformers have entered their 25th year in the public eye. Based on Hasbro’s toy line of the same name (which, in turn, was based on a Japanese toy line by Takara), their success established a strong connection between animation and marketing for younger audiences. Case in point: Hasbro’s own G.I. Joe was relaunched in 1982—just two years prior to The Transformers—and after an FCC regulation was dropped in 1984 (which prohibited companies from broadcasting product-based animated shows), all bets were off. The swift success of The Transformers that year was also due to a Marvel Comics line based on the toys, which led to an avalanche of sales, spin-offs…and, of course, the infamous 1986 motion picture. In short, you’d be hard-pressed to find a thirty-something not familiar with this group of transforming robots from the planet Cybertron.The second season of The Transformers, as expected, doesn’t change the established formula much; aside from the typical “good vs. evil” plots and over-the-top action, plenty of new supporting characters are introduced to expand the Transformers universe…and to sell more toys, of course. This four-disc set includes the first 24 episodes from Season 2 in their original production order.Again, it’s no secret that The Transformers—or most animated shows aimed squarely at kids, for that matter—focused its attention on marketable characters, not compelling storylines. At its heart, The Transformers presents a simple tale of good vs. evil, while even the most complex problems are typically resolved within a 23-minute timeframe. This second season features a slight change in tone: though the adventures are varied and often entertaining, the urgency of the first season has been scaled back a bit. If kids didn’t fully realize that The Transformers was nothing more than an extended commercial during the first year, it’s painfully obvious by this point. Even so, there’s some good material here; what’s more, it can be watched sequentially or browsed through. Aside from the occasional two-parter, there’s very little in the way of an overall story arc. Standout episodes include “Changing Gears” (in which a normally grouchy Autobot undergoes a drastic personality change), “A Prime Problem” (two Optimus Primes for the price of one!), several of the two-part episodes (especially fan favorite “Dinobot Island” and “Megatron’s Master Plan”) and  “Microbots” (Megatron uncovers a powerful relic on the Deceptions’ ancient crash-landed ship) . There really aren’t any genuine clunkers in the bunch here, though most of the highs don’t approach the level of certain Season 1 episodes. Even so, The Transformers remains one of the most consistent and enduring Saturday morning spectacles from the decade of excess.

 

REVIEW: I KNOW THAT VOICE

CAST

John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Pamela Adlon (Some Girl)
Charlie Adler (Wall-E)
Carlos Alazraqui (Free Birds)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Ed Asner (Batman: TAS)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Eric Bauza (Batman: Assault on Arkham)
Jeff Bennett (The Return of Jafar)
Bob Bergen (Up)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Jim Cummings (Aladdin)
Grey DeLisle (Ultimate Avengers)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylkon 5)
June Foray (Cinderella)
Pat Fraley (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Nika Futterman (Hey Arnold)
Seth Green (Family Green)
Matt Groening (The Simpsons)
Jennifer Hale (Spider-Man Unlimited)
Mark Hamill (Batman: TAS)
Jess Harnell (Transformers)
David Herman (Futurama)
Richard Steven Horvitz (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Danny Jacobs (Ultimate Spide-Man)
Tom Kane (Star wars: The Clone Wars)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)
Josh Keaton (The Spectacular Spider-Man)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Phill LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Janet Waldo (The Jetsons)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Mona Marshall (Fraggle Rock)
Breckin Meyer (Garfield)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Colleen Villard (Static Shock)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Rob Paulsen (The Mask: TAS)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Stephen Root (Dodgeball)
Marion Ross (Happy Days)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Cree Summer (Bambi II)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Alanna Ubach (Legally Blonde)
Kari Wahlgren (Ben 10)
Jim Ward (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Billy West (Futurama)

maxresdefaultI Know That Voice (2013) takes a gander at a subject that many of us never give much credence to.  This film takes a personal look at what it means to be an actor who is never actually seen on screen. I speak of the voice over artists who use their gift of gab to create and bring to life some of the most iconic characters in the world of entertainment. Produced by John DiMaggio (the alcohol fueled robot Bender from the popular series Futurama), this film feels like a labor of love and what unfolds is wonderful.Kevin_ConroyThe movie explains the history of voice artists from the beginning of talkies until present day, peppering in a slew of interviews from some of the most popular talent out there. Weaving a tale of both the struggles and the love of the business, I Know That Voice keeps you interested from start to finish as the actors known for being silly animated characters, show you a side of the process which makes the viewer appreciate what was once looked at as child’s fair. Throughout, you meet everyone from Sponge Bob to Roger Rabbit. And these are truly actors, damn fine ones at that.I-Know-That-Voice