REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE – SEASON 2

Main Cast

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
George Newbern (Law & Order: SVU)
Susan Eisenberg (Lego aquaman)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Corey Burton (Transformers)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Mitchell Ryan (Halloween 6)
Rob Paulsen (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Tom Kenny (The Super Hero Squad Show)
William Atherton (Die Hard)
Fairuza Balk (The Craft)
Dana Delany (Tombstone)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Jason Marsden (Hocus Pocus)
David Kaufman (Prom Night)
Dorie Barton (Down With Love)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Larry Drake (Darkman)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Kim Mai Guest (TMNT)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Diane Pershing (Gotham Girls)
Bruce McGill (Lincoln)
Ted McGinley (No Good Nick)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Lukas Haas (Inception)
Tracey Walter (batman)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Brian Doyle-Murray (JFK)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Scott Rummell (Six)
Kristin Bauer van Straten (Nocturnal Animals)
Powers Boothe (Sin City)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lamabs)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Brad Garrett (Tangled)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Khary Payton (The Walking Dead)
Greg Cipes (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans Go)
John C. McGinley (Scrubs)
Hynden Walch (Groundhog Day)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Kimberly Brooks (Voltron)
Robert Ito (Midway)
Victor Rivers (The Mask of Zorro)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Elizabeth Peña (The Incredibles)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

MV5BMTkxOTY5NTY5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjEwOTM2MjE@._V1_Now this is more like it. Justice League’s second season takes all of the wrinkles found in the first year and smoothes them over. The action is bigger, the stories are more exciting, and Batman’s rating on the cool-o-meter reaches new highs – exactly how things should be. The result is a boxed set that offers perhaps the finest collection of superhero animation that your hard-earned dollars can buy. They don’t come any better then this, kids.MV5BODg3ODYzM2QtNTIwOS00YzhjLThmMDItZTY4MDc0NzU1NDhkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Much like the comic book universe from which these characters came, the Warner Bros. superhero shows headed by Bruce Timm and friends (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond) have created a continuity and universe all their own. Justice League is the latest (and, sadly, final) entry in this cartoon universe and it takes all of the best stuff from what has come before it and combines it into a near-perfect superhero animated series. While the first season was light on character development and solid storytelling, the second season gets the balance of action, story, and character just right. Again we’ve got great supporting characters and villains from the DC universe; Darkseid, John Dee, Despero, and even Doomsday all make appearances.MV5BMTQxNzgzNDg3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTAwOTM2MjE@._V1_The action is also a lot more exciting, with more imagination having gone into the writing of the fights. Furthermore, this season we’ve got some great CG effects (used for vehicles and ships) – the air dogfight in Maid of Honor between the Batwing and some jetfighters is especially cool to watch.  Another standout this season is the music. The series composers (Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion, and Kristopher Carter) have created some amazing stuff here. In each episode you’ll find several musical cues that will really get your attention and at least one that will tug at the ol’ heartstrings. The music knows when to fade into the background and let the images do the work and when to take centre stage. With stuff this good you want the music to take centre stage as much as possible. There is a Princess Mononoke-esque “nature endures” moment in Hearts and Minds where the score was just wonderful. The music in these episodes is too good for a cartoon TV show.MV5BMTQ1MjM0MTMwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjc5ODM2MjE@._V1_So the action is awesome, Superman is fixed, and the music is one-of-a-kind. All that’s left is the writing… and it’s the best part. The writing here is really great, with story and character always being the focus of each episode. A Better World answers a simple question in an interesting way: what if Superman crossed the line? In an alternate universe, Superman realizes that Luthor really is an unredeemable villain and he kills him. We see that the murder – even the murder of a monster like Luthor – changes both Superman and the League. They become Big Brother-like sentries of the planet. When a cross-dimensional rift is opened, this “darker” league (known as the Justice Lords) has a showdown with our untainted heroes. The episode brings up some very interesting questions and is a blast to watch.MV5BMTYwOTU0OTUwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk5ODM2MjE@._V1_We’ve also got some fantastic variety. The Paul Dini-penned Comfort and Joy is a very touching Christmas episode, while Hereafter transports Superman to a Planet of the Apes-ish future where he is the planet’s sole survivor (he even grows a Robinson Crusoe beard and fashions himself a jungle-machete!). The Terror Beyond makes for a very fun H.P. Lovecraft-inspired romp which sees Solomon Grundy fighting his way into the brain of the massive Ichthulhu (voiced by Rob Zombie) and wrestling a nightmare creature inside this thing’s head. Very bizarre, but very cool. Finally there’s the three-part season finale, Starcrossed. This is a balls-to-the-wall action spectacular which culminates in Batman piloting the League’s watchtower into the planet, while Green Lantern and Hawkgirl’s relationship is torn to shreds.MV5BMTkxMDQzODI2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDIwOTM2MjE@._V1_This is a fantastic collection of episodes, to be sure, but there are still a few nitpicks that keep the set from getting a perfect score. For one, while Superman is tougher, much of the new attitude doesn’t feel genuine – it seems that they wanted to make him “cooler” so they made him more badass. Problem is, Superman isn’t a badass character. Second, there are a few episodes (Maid of Honor and Eclipsed) that feel somewhat stale, and one episode, Wild Cards, that, sadly, let its driving gag get the better of the story. On TV you’ll find many cartoons, but you’ll only find one Justice League – its second season is a shining example of superhero animation done right in virtually every respect. Most importantly, the show’s creators have crafted a series that respects the intelligence, attention-span, and maturity of its audience. This isn’t just a kids show nor is it just a television show. It’s Justice League – and it’s great.

REVIEW: MR. AND MRS. SMITH

CAST

Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly)
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent)
Vince Vaughn (Weddign Crashers)
Adam Brody (The OC)
Kerry Washington (Django Unchained)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Chris Weitz (American Pie)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss bang bang)
Stephanie March (The Invention of Lying)
Jennifer Morrison (Amityville: The Awakening)
Jeff Yagher (V)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)

Ravil Isyanov (Octopus)

 

MV5BMTI5MDg3NDQ1MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTAxNjUyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1505,1000_AL_Mr. and Mrs. Smith, while not flawless, is a feature that works well despite the realization as the credits roll that there’s not a great deal to it. Of course, everyone knows by now that stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are a couple, the mere fact of which has somehow managed to be covered in every single edition of every single tabloid in every single country. The film, from “Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman, stars Pitt and Jolie as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a suburban couple who lives in a large, beautiful and ultra-modern house on a quiet street. The two met cute and got married, despite keeping a rather large secret from one another – that both are actually assassins who are working for rival organizations.a0acad5c7a89d5b7f3182585aad6c19dThe marriage has obviously cooled over the years, and now discussions over decorations and minor dinner changes are the only thing keeping things from falling into uncomfortable silences. Things get nasty, however, when the two are sent in on the same job – an operative (Adam Brody, from “The O.C.”) and find that their cover has been blown by the person they’d have least expected. From there, Smith turns into a more violent War of the Roses as the two, despite still being together, wage war on each other in their suburban estate.MV5BMTUyNzA3MzMwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTk5NTUyMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1505,1000_AL_However, when it becomes clear that their bosses want them eliminated, they realize they have to turn to each other. Liman, who brought urgency and tension to even the quietest moments of “The Bourne Identity” manages to handle both the action and dark comedy of “Smith” wonderfully. Pitt, who proved he was a surprisingly sharp comedic talent in “Ocean’s 11” has the same off-beat delivery here, and it works well. More surprising is Jolie, who successfully gives the performance a bit more warmth and dark glee than she has in her roles in the past. Vince Vaughn also steals a few scenes as a co-worker who lives with his mother.Director Liman and writer Simon Kinsberg wisely keep things light for the most part,  and yet don’t go so breezy that the film loses urgency and we lose interest. The two stars also manage to portray their subtle inner feelings for each other well during the film’s few quiet moments. Technically, the film is superb, with well-choreographed action sequences, excellent production design, slick cinematography and a superb sound mix.Overall, Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s mixture of very dark comedy and action certainly walks a fine line, and yet Liman and the two leads have managed to work it out very well.

REVIEW: THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK

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CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Judi Dench (Skyfall)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Linus Roache (Batman Begins)
Keith David (The Cape)
Nick Chinlund (Training Day)
Mark Gibbon (Robin Hood Beyond Sherwood)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Christina Cox (Stargate SG.1)
Peter Williams (Catwoman)
Christopher Heyerdahl (Sanctuary)
Roger Cross (Continuum)
Ty Olsson (Battlestar Galactica)
John Mann (Dark Angel)
Kim Hawthorne (Greenleaf)
Lorena Gale (Halloween: Resurrection)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Kristin Lehman (The Loft)

Vin Diesel and Alexa Davalos in The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)The film opens years after the first film, once again introducing us to Riddick (Vin Diesel), who is once again on the run from bounty hunters. After escaping from his latest pursuers, he finds his way back to Inam (Keith David), who – with an air elemental (Judi Dench) – convince Riddick that he is the only one that can save their planet (and others) from the Necromongers, a race of war-happy individuals who are laying waste to one planet after another and claiming them as their own, assimilating whoever accepts and destroying who doesn’t. Lead by the Lord Marshal (Colm Feore), they are seeking out the utopian Underverse.Vin Diesel and Alexa Davalos in The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)Riddick is there as the planet is assaulted, but isn’t able to do much, as he’s quickly outnumbered and outgunned. However, when he’s captured by the Necromongers, he figures a way to escape in the middle of a process that scans his thoughts. He then flies off to the prison planet Crematoria to seek out Jack, a girl from the original, who now goes by Kyra (Alexa Davalos). Once the two meet up again, they have to escape from Crematoria, which manages a toasty 700 degrees in the daylight. Meanwhile, Lady Vaako (Thandie Newton) and Lord Vaako (Karl Urban) are dispatched to persue Riddick, as the Lord Marshal has other plans for him.Vin Diesel in The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)While flawed, Riddick is certainly ambitious. The production design is nothing short of spectacular, and the visual style is an explosion of what the first film offered – I especially liked the opening, where Riddick seems to be running across the tops of a maze that stretches out to the horizon. Costume design is superb, while the film’s visual effects are not seamless, but still very strong. Overall, the creation of this universe”the film exists in is first-rate.Vin Diesel, Thandie Newton, and Linus Roache in The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)Chronicles of Riddick offers some pretty good performances. Few growl out one-liners better than Diesel; while there’s not a lot of depth to the performance, it’s an interesting character that I don’t think any other actor would be as right for as Diesel is. Supporting performances by Newton, Dench, Fiore and others are also enjoyable. Overall, the film is a fine attempt to take the character into an epic that operates on a much grander scale than the first film.

REVIEW: DARK FURY

 

CAST (VOICES)

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Rhiana Griffith (Home and Away)
Keith David (The Cape)
Roger Jackson (Scream)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Nick Chinlund (Training Day)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)

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Starting immediately after Pitch Black ends, this animated show tells what happens to the survivors immediately after they left the planet they were stranded on.  It turns out that their little space ship runs out of energy and is picked up by a mercenary ship run by Madam Chillingsworth, a strange lady who collects mass murderers.  She cryogenically freezes them so they are still alive, and then poses them as living statues.  She has quite a collection but there is room for more.

Her mercenaries quickly determine who Riddick is, and after a quick fight he is captured.  She then puts him in an arena and forces him to fight for his life, and the lives of his two companions.   But even if Riddick survives, there is still a ship full of mercenaries between him and freedom.

I’m not into Anime, personally, so I had to devote some extra concentration to this in order to glean the story from it.  I can, however, attest to the quality of the story, which was excellent.

REVIEW: PITCH BLACK

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CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire)
Cole Hauser (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Keith David (The Cape)
Claudia Black (The Originals)
Rhiana Griffith (Home and Away)
Firass Dirani (Power Rangers Mystic Force)

 

MV5BNTU4NGU1NTMtMjljZi00YzE0LThkZGMtNjQ4YmMwNzI3ZTQzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQxOTM1NTc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_The film starts off as many sci-fi films do, with a crash-landing. Rocks hit the ship and fly through, taking out some of the passengers and sending the ship spiraling towards an unknown planet. Fry(Rhada Mitchell) takes over the group, and there are others who are left, including a criminal named Riddick(Vin Diesel) who happens to be able to see in the dark.
MV5BMjE5MDYzMTQ5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjUzMzE3._V1_The planet has three suns, so at one point or another, there always seems to be daylight, which comes in different colors that the film takes on(much of the early part of the film is bathed in striking blues, for example). Only there’s one problem – every so often, there’s a rare occurence where an eclipse sends the planet into total darkness. And at that time, the aliens who only come out to play in the rare darkness attack. Much of the early half of the film revolves around Riddick – tracking him down and getting him to help, but the second half of the film starts the action a little quicker.
25-sabrina-lede.w700.h700The aliens are always seemingly circling the group, and although the special effects for the film are not terribly great, they aren’t distracting, either. The movie starts up the tension very well during the second half of the picture, and is successful in not letting go till the end.MV5BOGE4MmNjYjMtYTM0My00ZGY5LWIwZjQtNDRkZWI4YWI3YjgxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQxOTM1NTc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Pitch Black works simply as an entertaining low budget Sci-Fi Movie.

REVIEW: THE CAPE

MAIN CAST

David Lyons (Eat Pray Love)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
James Frain (Gotham)
Jennifer Ferrin (The Following)
Ryan Wynott (Flashforward)
Dorian Missick (Lucky Number Slevin)
Martin Klebba (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Izabella Miko (Coyote Ugly)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Vinnie Jones (Arrow)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
JoNell Kennedy (Dreamgirls)
Richard Schiff (Man of Steel)
Mather Zickel (Bones)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Mena Suvari (American Pie)
Kevin Kilner (Earth: Final Conflict)
Elliott Gould (Ocean’s Eleven)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Chad Lindberg (October Sky)
Illeana Douglas (Ghost World)
Tom Noonan (Manhunter)

Palm City Vince Faraday is a happy man, a good cop, a good husband, a good father. Until one day he receives a mysterious message from Internet whistle blower “Orwell” advising him where the notorious crime lord “Chess” is shipping illegal weapons into Palm City. Vince trusts one person to go with him to uncover the shipment, that one person however betrays him and suddenly Vince finds himself on the run – a victim of an elaborate set up naming him as “Chess”.

In order for Vince to clear his name and win back his family, he assumes the persona of “The Cape”, his son’s favourite comic book character. Now with the help of “Orwell” and “The Carnival Of Crime” he strives toobtain the evidence that will vindicate him and allow him to go home. The Cape has been brilliantly made, the cinematography and story telling are cleaverly done so Vince comes off as a real man doing what he must unstead of another moody broody caped cruisader. He doesn’t always say the right thing, he doesn’t accent a stupid voice, he just is who he is (with the addition of a cape – obviously). The supporting cast of “The Carnival Of Crime” adds the manditory comic relief without coming off as slapstick characters – there’s Vinny Jones for that (well, he does play a character called “Scales”).

Unfortunately this series fell victim to the “great TV show but just not quite enough viewers” syndrome and was axed after just one season, meaning the story was never completed.