REVIEW: TEEN TITANS: THE JUDAS CONTRACT

CAST (VOICES)

Stuart Allan (Rise of the Guardians)
Taissa Farmiga (The Nun)
Brandon Soo Hoo (Ender’s Game)
Jake T. Austin (The Fosters)
Kari Wahlgren (Wolverine & The X-Men)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Christina Ricci (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Gregg Henry (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Meg Foster (Masters of The Universe)
Maria Canals-Barrera (Justice League Unlimited)
Crispin Freeman (Young Justice)
Masasa Moyo (Paris)
Kevin Smith (Clerks)
Jason Spisak (Piranha 3D)
David Zayas (Gotham)
David Kaye (Beast Wars)

Five years ago, the original Teen Titans (consisting of Dick Grayson as Robin, Speedy, Kid Flash, Beast Boy and Bumblebee) rescue Princess Starfire of planet Tamaran from her captors sent by her evil older sister Blackfire who had staged a coup and forcibly took the throne. As she is no longer able to return to her world, the Titans offer her a home on Earth as one of them.In the present, Dick Grayson (now called Nightwing) rejoins the Teen Titans to track down a terrorist cult led by Brother Blood who plans on capturing the team to absorb each of their unique abilities with a machine that he has tested on Jericho (whom his assistant and lover Mother Mayhem quickly shoots afterwards). Brother Blood hires the mercenary Deathstroke to deliver the Titans to him, which he obliges to do for both the money and get revenge on Damian Wayne for foiling his evil plans a few years ago and replacing him as Ra’s al Ghul’s heir before Damian turned against the League of Assassins. Deathstroke monitors the Titans through his double agent that joined the team a year prior named Terra whom he rescued after her parents turned their whole village against her and tortured her. When Damian grows suspicious of Terra’s behavior and starts tracking her, he is captured by her and Deathstroke, thus revealing herself as a spy to Damian.Terra acts cold and distant towards the other Titans despite their welcoming attitude, but eventually warms up to them over time. During the night celebrating her one year anniversary with the Titans, she shares a tender moment with Beast Boy and kisses him. The next day, Deathstroke kidnaps Blue Beetle at the soup kitchen he works at, Beast Boy at a convention where he thought he would do a podcast with filmmaker Kevin Smith, and Starfire at the apartment shared by her and Nightwing. Dick discovers what happened to the other Titans and is attacked by Deathstroke at his apartment. He manages to escape by faking his own death, while Terra captures Raven in Titans’ Tower.Deathstroke and Terra bring the Titans to Brother Blood, but since the machine cannot operate properly without a sixth Titan (as Slade had failed to capture Nightwing), Slade hesitantly offers him Terra instead. Brother Blood starts draining the Titans of their powers and ascends to godlike status, but they are rescued by Nightwing. Nightwing and Robin fight Deathstroke while the rest take on Brother Blood, who has absorbed all of their powers. The two villains are stopped by the intervention of Terra, who is thoroughly hurt and enraged at Slade for his betrayal. Brother Blood is depowered by Raven unleashing her inner fury as a demon, and killed by Mother Mayhem while Deathstroke is buried underneath multiple rocks thrown by Terra. Too ashamed to face her former allies after betraying their trust, Terra decides to bring down the entire area. Beast Boy attempts to assist Terra in escaping the crumbling fortress, but Terra pushes him back and is buried underneath multiple layers of rubble. Beast Boy digs her up and she dies in his arms.In the epilogue, Beast Boy goes on Kevin Smith’s podcast and talks about the Titans with the host. He mentions that the team has a “wonderful new member” and that he will always miss Terra. In a post-credits scene, Jericho is shown to have survived the bullet Mother Mayhem shot at him earlier.The action is exciting, the screenplay is very well written and the animation keeps a solid level; but what I liked the most was to feel the Teen Titans as an authentic team, well balanced and united despite their differences with each other. To sum up, I enjoyed Teen Titans: The Judas Contract very much, and I will now be expecting their next movie with enthusiasm.

 

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REVIEW: HOT SHOTS! PART DEUX

CAST
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
Valeria Golino (Year of The Gun)
Brenda Bakke (Under Siege 2)
Richard Crenna (Marooned)
Miguel Ferrer(Iron Man 3)
Rowan Atkinson (Johnny English)
David Wohl (Terms of Endearment)
Mitchell Ryan (Halloween 6)
Ryan Stiles (Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
Clyde Kusatsu (Shopgirl)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)

One night, an American special forces team invades Saddam Hussein’s (Haleva) palace and a nearby prison camp to rescue captured soldiers from Operation Desert Storm and to eliminate Saddam, but they find the Iraqis prepared for them, and the entire rescue team is captured. This failed operation turns out to be the latest in a series of rescue attempts which were foiled by the Iraqis, and consequently the advisors of President Benson (Admiral Benson in the previous film, played by Bridges) suspect sabotage in their own ranks. Colonel Denton Walters (Crenna) suggests to gain the aid of war hero Topper Harley (Sheen) for the next mission, but Topper has retired from the Navy and become a Buddhist in a small Thai village. Walters and Michelle Huddleston (Bakke), CIA, arrive and try to persuade him to come out of retirement in order to rescue the imprisoned soldiers and the previous rescue parties.Topper initially refuses, but when yet another rescue mission (this one, in turn, led by Walters) goes awry, he agrees to lead a small group of soldiers into Iraq. He is joined by Williams (Colyar), Rabinowitz (Stiles) and Harbinger (Ferrer), the sole escapee of the prior rescue mission and whom Topper suspects to be the wanted saboteur. They parachute into an Iraqi jungle close to the heavily guarded hostage camp and set off to meet their contact, who turns out to be Topper’s former love, Ramada (Golino). Ramada guides them to a fishing boat that she prepared for their transportation. As they move towards the camp, she and Topper reminisce, and she explains that she was married before she met him. When she was informed that her husband, Dexter (Atkinson), was still alive and a prisoner in Iraq, she volunteered to participate in his liberation, but was instructed to keep this strictly confidential, forcing her to break up with Topper just as they were ready to start a new life together; this also led to Topper’s decision to retire.Topper’s team proceeds to the prison camp disguised as river fishermen, but a confrontation with an Iraqi patrol boat thwarts them. When President Benson hears of the apparent failure of another mission, he takes matters into his own hands and joins additional forces in Iraq. However, Topper and his teammates have survived, and soon reach the Iraqi hostage camp. In the course of the operation, the alarm is raised and a gunfight ensues, during which Topper finds out that Harbinger is not the saboteur, but has merely lost faith in fighting, and manages to motivate him. After the prisoners are freed, Topper decides to rescue Dexter, who has been brought to Saddam’s palace.While the squad evacuates the hostages, Topper enters Saddam’s palace and runs into the dictator himself, who pulls out his machine pistol and commands Topper to surrender. Topper disarms Saddam, and they engage in a sword fight. President Benson arrives and orders Topper to rescue Dexter while Benson and Saddam continue the duel. Benson defeats Saddam by spraying him with a fire extinguisher, upon which he and his dog solidify and crack into pieces, only to subsequently liquify, combine and reform as Saddam with his dog’s head fur, nose, and ears. In the meantime, Topper manages to find and liberate Dexter, but is forced to carry him out on his shoulder as the Iraqis have tied Dexter’s shoelaces together.The squad heads back to the army helicopter, where Ramada, after a complicated revelation involving unfounded jealousy, reveals and arrests Michelle as the saboteur who betrayed the previous rescue attempts to the Iraqis. Dexter arrives with Topper and insists on taking a picture of him and Ramada, but backs away too far and topples over a cliff. President Benson joins the escapees, and the evacuation team lifts off; Saddam is about to shoot down the chopper when Topper and Ramada get rid of extra weight in it by pushing a piano out the open door, which crushes him. Topper and Ramada kiss as they ride off into the sunset.In the end this is an absurd comedy and parody on many kinds of movies. If you like this kind of humor and know most of the other movies, then you’ll probably have a great time with it. I sure liked it .

REVIEW: AMERICAN DAD – VOLUME 1-3

Image result for american dad logo

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Wendy Schaal (Small Soldiers)
Scott Grimes (Robin Hood)
Rachael MacFarlane (The Batman)
Dee Bradley Baker (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)
Carmen Electra (Scary Movie)
Mike Henry (The Cleveland Show)
Kevin Michael Richardson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Busy Philipps (The Smokers)
Daisuke Suzuki (I Am Gangster)
Stephen Root (King of The Hill)
Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Nat Faxon (Weeds)
Jeff Fischer (Happy Feet)
Sarah Silverman (Evolution)
Tori Spelling (Smallville)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Abraham Benrubi (Dark Angel)
William Fichtner (Mom)
Gina Gershon (Bound)
Seth Green (Austin Powers)
Richard Kind (Gotham)
Elias Koteas (Fallen)
Matthew Lillard (Scream)
Ron Livingston (The Conjuring)
Megyn Price (Rules of Engagement)
Molly Shannon (Bad Teacher)
Marley Shelton (Planet Terror)
Stephen Colbert (The Venture Bros.)
Daran Norris (Veronica Mars)
Oded Fehr (V)
Forest Whitaker (Panic Room)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Grant Heslov (True Lies)
Jill Talley (Little Miss Sunshine)
Beau Bridges (My Name Is Earl)
Bryan Cranston (Total Recall)
Leslie Jordan (Ugly Betty)
Sandra Oh (Sideways)
Freddy Rodriguez (Planet Terror)
Jason Lee (Dogma)
Andy Richter (Chuck)
David Herman (Angel)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Jeremy Sisto (Wrong Turn)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl)
Jennie Garth (Beverly Hills, 90210)
Alex Borstein (Family Guy)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
John Cho (Star Trek)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Alexandra Breckenridge (She’s The Man)
Chris Klein (American Pie)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Kate Jackson (Charlie’s Angels)
Romany Malco (No Ordinary Family)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Christine Taylor (Zoolander)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Azura Skye (28 Days)
Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Stark Sands (Minority Report TV)
Elijah Wood (Lord of The Rings)
Ivana Milicevic (Banshee)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
John Krasinski (License To Wed)
Rusty Schwimmer (Highlander II)
Lisa Kudrow (Easy A)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Niecy Nash (Scream Queens)
Peter Graves (Airplane)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Elliott Gould (Ocean’s Eleven)
Becki Newton (Ugly Betty)
Harve Presnell (Lois & Clark)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Richard Gant (Godzilla)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Eartha Kitt (60s Batman)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men)

A worthy successor to parent show Family Guy, this show tells the misadventures of an ultra right wing CIA Agent and his long suffering family.The characters are great. Stan Smith, the dad of the title is more capable than Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, but just as blinkered. He calls “French toast” smelly and ungrateful and prefers it to be known as “American toast”, has a questionable attraction to his gun and a fear of liberals.Wife Francine is a housewife who lacks ambition but every so often strikes out on her own. Their children are the geeky Steve and ultra left wing Hayley. Completing teh family are a German athlete who’s mind has been put in a fish Klaus (watch the pilot for the back story) and needy, TV and celebrity obsessed gender bending alien Roger. There are some great set ups e.g. Stan having Francine’s memory erased when he forgets a wedding anniversary, Roger apparently dying and the CIA hunting him as the area 51 alien who previously escaped and Stan being sent to Arabia as a punishment and finding it’s to his taste.The jokes fly thick and fast e.g. Roger telling Stan “Oh by the way your skin cream did wonders for my ‘roids, well if you won’t let me out of the house to buy my own I guess we’re ointment buddies!”, Stan saying “Should, well we don’t live in Shouldland. Ah Shouldland, what a wonderful place!” and Roger’s retort “yes I’m an alien and I have claws. You’re awfully fat. See? Kitty can scratch!”There are also some great turns from Patrick Stewart voicing CIA Deputy Director Bullock. Great commentaries and featurettes make a superb package!

The “Laugh Alert” level is elevated with the release of this second volume of episodes that chronologically span seasons 1 and 2. You know the “there” that people talk about when they say, “Don’t go ‘there’?” Seth MacFarlane’s American Dad leaves “there” in the dust.Take the holiday–excuse me, Christmas–episode, “The Best Christmas Story Never,” which somehow melds Charles Dickens with a Ray Bradbury-esque cautionary tale of tampering with the past.CIA Agent and true patriot act Stan Smith (voiced by MacFarlane) loses the spirit of the season in a blizzard of PC secularism in which even the fugitive “Christmas rapist” must be referred to as “the holiday rapist.” In the “is nothing sacred” world of American Dad, Christmas can only be saved by Stan accompanying the Ghost of Christmas Past (Lisa Kudrow) back in time to (don’t ask) kill Jane Fonda (or Donald Sutherland), take over the direction of Taxi Driver from a drug-free Martin Scorsese, and shoot Ronald Reagan.

The Smith family–wife Francine, geeky son Steve, and “peace-pusher” daughter Hayley–is still not as vividly drawn as the Griffins on MacFarlane’s Family Guy (even Klaus, the talking German-accented goldfish admits in one episode that his “fish shtick” is getting thin), but one can’t help salute the audacity of the oft-inspired writing. In “Stannie, Get Your Gun,” Stan becomes a National Gun Association spokesperson after being accidentally paralyzed by his anti-gun daughter. “The American Dad After School Special” has an A Brilliant Mind-like twist as Stan battles an eating disorder brought about by Steve’s new overweight girlfriend. In “Helping Handis,” Steve becomes the big man on campus after he develops steroid-enhanced breasts.Two episodes are standouts for their animation. “Dungeons and Wagons,” as did South Park with “Make Love, Not Warcraft,” creates a video game universe in which Steve rules. Near the end of “Failure Is Not a Factory-Installed Option,” the screen adjusts to widescreen format, and the saga of the golden turd, begun in the first season episode, “Homeland Insecurity” compellingly continues with the jewel-encrusted oddity becoming the last temptation of an honest cop (Beau Bridges). American Dad is, as should be apparent, not for all tastes (or more sensitive viewers–the episode “Tears of a Clooney” drops some unbleeped F-bombs), but fans of the series are rewarded with this three disc-set’s prodigious extra features, including rowdy, chaotic commentaries for all the episodes, a wealth of hit and miss deleted scenes, and a segment devoted to the production of “Dungeons and Wagons.”

“I’m not beloved,” CIA Agent Stan Smith is shocked to discover after eavesdropping on his mocking neighbours in the episode, “I Can’t Stan You”. With all the resolve this “pig-headed” Red State poster boy and George “The Dub” Bush devotee can muster, he vows, “I will make these people like me.” For those still on the fence about American Dad, this collection of 18 episodes ought to do the trick.These characters may not be as indelible as the Family Guy clan, but these episodes rarely flag. If the outrageous storylines don’t grab you, the rapid-fire random gags will. Like King of the Hill’s Hank Hill , Stan (voiced by series co-creator Seth McFarlane) is oft confounded by a world seemingly gone mad. Unlike Hank, he is the voice of un-reason. In “Surro-Gate,” Stan’s dizzy wife, Francine (Wendy Schaal) agrees to be the surrogate for the Smith’s gay neighbors, prompting the disapproving Stan to kidnap the infant, as well as the brood of a lesbian couple.In “Black Mystery Month,” Stan reveals a Da Vinci Code-like conspiracy involving George Washington Carver that’s plain nuts. In another episode, “Bush Comes to Dinner” for a night of drunken debauchery; some easy-target Bush-bashing is redeemed when the President makes peace between Stan and his “lost cause” liberal daughter, Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane). Some of the best episodes focus more on the Smith family than politics. In “The Vacation Goo”, Francine demands a real family getaway after discovering that all previous vacations were artificially created memories. In “Haylias,” it is revealed that the unwitting Hayley is a brainwashed sleeper agent, who is activated by Stan to stop her from moving to France. “The 42-Year-Old Virgin” reveals another shocker: trigger-happy Stan has never actually killed anyone!American Dad revels in guy humour. As Stan tells an unamused Hayley at one point, “You don’t get a willy, you don’t get the silly.” American Dad brings the silly, but while the series is not above (or beneath) moth fart jokes, it is also smart enough to reference, say, “Equus” or the touching “When Somebody Loved Me” number from Toy Story 2. Stan’s geeky son, Steve (Scott Grimes), bitchy alien Roger (MacFarlane), and talking fish Klaus (Dee Bradley Baker) are no Chris, Brian, or Stewie, but this set contains some of their more memorable outings. In “Frannie 911,” it turns out that it actually would kill Roger to be nice. In “Surro-Gate,” Klaus vows revenge on Roger and Stan following a waterslide prank. American Dad fans will salute this three-disc set’s generous features, including a riotous Comic-Con cast table read of the episode, “The 42 Year-Old Virgin,” nearly a half hour of deleted scenes (deleted jokes would be more accurate), unrated versions (with unbleeped profanities) of certain episodes, and freewheeling audio commentaries (“Hey, aren’t we supposed to talk about the episode?” one participant tries to steer one digressive conversation

REVIEW: STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK

CAST

William Shatner (TJ Hooker)
Leonard  Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
DeForest Kelley (Canon City)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
George Takei (Heroes)
Walter Koenig (Babylon 5)
Nichelle Nichols (Scooby-Doo 4)
Robin Curtis (General Hospital)
Merritt Butrick (Fright Night – Part 2)
Mark Lenard (Planet of The Apes TV)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Grace Lee Whitney (60s Batman)
Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future)
John Larroquette (Chuck)
Branscombe Richmond (Commando)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)

The Federation Starship Enterprise returns to Earth following a battle with the superhuman Khan Noonien Singh, who tried to destroy the Enterprise by detonating an experimental terraforming device known as Genesis. The casualties of the fight include Admiral James T. Kirk’s Vulcan friend, Spock, whose casket was launched into space and eventually landed on the planet created by the Genesis Device. On arriving at Earth Spacedock, Doctor Leonard McCoy begins to act strangely and is detained. Starfleet Admiral Morrow visits the Enterprise and informs the crew the ship is to be decommissioned; the crew is ordered not to speak about Genesis due to political fallout over the device.

David Marcus (Merritt Butrick)—Kirk’s son, a key scientist in Genesis’s development—and Lieutenant Saavik (Robin Curtis) are investigating the Genesis planet on board the science vessel Grissom. Discovering an unexpected life form on the surface, Marcus and Saavik transport to the planet. They find that the Genesis Device has resurrected Spock in the form of a child, although his mind is not present. Marcus admits that he used unstable “protomatter” in the development of the Genesis Device, causing Spock to age rapidly and meaning the planet will be destroyed within hours. Meanwhile, Kruge (Christopher Lloyd), the commander of a Klingon vessel, intercepts information about Genesis. Believing the device to be potentially useful as a weapon, he takes his cloaked ship to the Genesis planet, destroys the Grissom.

Spock’s father, Sarek (Mark Lenard), confronts Kirk about his son’s death. The pair learn that before he died, Spock transferred his katra, or living spirit, to McCoy. Spock’s katra and body are needed to lay him to rest on his homeworld, Vulcan, and without help, McCoy will die from carrying the katra. Disobeying orders, Kirk and his officers spring McCoy from detention, disable the USS Excelsior, and steal the Enterprise from Spacedock to return to the Genesis planet to retrieve Spock’s body.

On Genesis, the Klingons capture Marcus, Saavik and Spock and before Kruge can interrogate them their ship signals that the Enterprise has arrived and Kruge immediately beams back to the Bird of Prey. In orbit, the undermanned Enterprise is attacked and disabled by Kruge. In the standoff that follows, Kruge orders that one of the hostages on the surface be executed. David is killed defending Saavik and Spock. Kirk and company feign surrender and activate the Enterprise’s self-destruct sequence, killing the Klingon boarding party while the Enterprise crew transports to the planet’s surface. Promising the secret of Genesis, Kirk lures Kruge to the planet and has him beam his crew to the Klingon vessel. As the Genesis planet disintegrates, Kirk and Kruge engage in a fistfight; Kirk emerges victorious after kicking Kruge off a cliff into a lava flow. Kirk and his officers take control of the Klingon ship and head to Vulcan.

There, Spock’s katra is reunited with his body in a dangerous procedure called fal-tor-pan. The ceremony is successful and Spock is resurrected, alive and well, though his memories are fragmented. At Kirk’s prompting, Spock remembers he called Kirk “Jim” and recognizes the crew.

Often derided as one of the poorer Trek films due to its chance place in the broad “odd-numbered film curse,” Star Trek III is one of my very favourites. It continues successfully in the vein of “Wrath of Khan”. The special features are extensive and interesting, for the most part. Klingon language creator and teacher Marc Okrand gives insight into how the language was developed for this film, and altered according to the great Christopher Lloyd’s pronunciations, while Industrial Light and Magic effects crew explain how they developed the designs for the U.S.S. Excelsior, Spacedock and Klingon Bird-of-Prey – all of which would be used again and again in the Next Generation. The director’s commentary from Leonard Nimoy is also one of the best commentaries I’ve heard for a couple of reasons: firstly, it is informative and gives insight to how Leonard directed scenes, and secondly it’s Spock.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER

CAST
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs)
John Heard (Home Alone)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Kyle MacLachlan (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Lex Lang (Constantine TV)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)
Brooke Shields (The Blue Lagoon)
Jeremy Sisto (Wrong turn)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Joe Mantegna (The Simpsons)
Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014)

Darwyn Cooke entered the comic book world via an animation career that included a stint on the staff of Batman: The Animated Series. He quickly impressed fans with his clean, classic illustration style, using old ideas as fodder for fresh visions. It’s kind of fitting, then, that things have come full circle, and now his old animation cohorts are adapting one of his comic books into a movie. Justice League: The New Frontier is directed by frequent Cooke collaborator David Bullock, and it is based on the 2004 comic book miniseries The New Frontier. In that drawn adventure novel, the writer/artist used his love of 1950s comics and culture to weave a complex tapestry using a host of genres, characters, and real world political touchstones. It is a gorgeous book, and for the most part, massively entertaining.

A 75-minute film is actually a far more compact means of expression than a sprawling comic book miniseries. Bullock, working with Cooke as a creative consultant, has dropped a lot of the backstory, relegating subplots on Monster Island with the Losers and the original Suicide Squad to quick mentions. This leaves the full running time devoted to the superhero mission and the rise of two new heroes.

Justice League: The New Frontier starts just at the end of the Korean War, putting America in the middle of the space race and the Red Scare. Superheroes have been swept up in the xenophobic hysteria, with the public being convinced that men hiding their identities behind masks are no better than the communists who plan revolutions behind closed doors. Superman (voiced by Kyle MacLachlan) is still functioning above board, having signed a loyalty oath to America. So does Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless), though she is less enamored with the American Way the more paranoid and oppressive it gets. Other heroes, like Batman (Jeremy Sisto) and the Flash (Neil Patrick Harris), are still serving the public, but they risk arrest with every good deed they do. In the midst of all this fear and loathing, a primordial psychic force that has watched from the shadows as mankind has grown more dangerous and self-destructive over the centuries has begun shoring up its power to put an end to the human scourge. Calling itself “the Center” (as in “of all things”), this creature has become the stuff of cults and legends, controlling the minds of men and monsters alike.

Also coming to the fore at this time are two new super beings, and they are ostensibly the leads of the ensemble cast. Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz) is a veteran and a test pilot who many believe to be a coward due to his refusal to fire his guns in battle. His nobility will eventually lead to him being chosen as the Green Lantern, a cosmic defender assigned to protect Earth. The other hero is J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter (Miguel Ferrer), who through a quirk of science was teleported to and stranded on our planet. He is the most representative of the “other,” the things we fear because they are different. Jordan’s political ideas make him like the communists, whereas J’onzz’ green skin gives the storytellers room to tie his plight into race.

Justice League: The New Frontier is an entertaining animated adventure. Based on a multi-leveled comic book by Darwyn Cooke, it features the greatest heroes of the DC Comics universe banding together in the 1950s to fight a villain who is feeding on the hatred and paranoia of the times to rid the Earth of the human scourge. The movie is more streamlined and has a solid story that fits well into the new Warner Bros. effort to bring slightly more adult cartoons directly to DVD. The animation is mostly clean and dynamic, and as a whole, it’s an impressive two-disc release filled with lots of extras.

REVIEW: ROBOCOP 1,2 & 3

CAST
Peter Weller (Odyssey 5)
Nancy Allen (Carrie)
Dan O’Herlihy (Halloween 3)
Ronny Cox (Total Recall)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Miguel Ferrer (Iron Man 3)
Robert DoQui (Original Intent)
Ray Wise (Swamp thing)
Felton Perry (Dark Breed)
Paul McCrane (The Shawshanl Redemption)
Tyrees Allen (Cold Case)

 

In a dystopian near-future, Detroit, which is near bankruptcy and overrun with crime, gives Omni Consumer Products (OCP) control of its struggling police force. The company plans to replace the poor, run-down sections of Old Detroit with the high-end “Delta City,” but must first address the city’s high crime rate. As an alternative to existing law enforcement, OCP senior president Dick Jones (Ronny Cox) offers the prototype ED-209 enforcement droid, but it accidentally kills a board member during a demonstration. The OCP chairman, nicknamed “The Old Man” (Dan O’Herlihy), decides instead to back Jones’ young rival, Bob Morton (Miguel Ferrer), and his experimental cyborg police officer program, “RoboCop.”Meanwhile, police officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is transferred to Old Detroit, where he is teamed with officer Anne Lewis (Nancy Allen). On their first patrol, they tail a gang of bank robbers, led by ruthless crime lord Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith), to an abandoned steel mill. Inside, Lewis is incapacitated; and Murphy, attempting to make an arrest, is surrounded, brutally maimed by several gunshots, and nearly killed by the gang. After attempts by an ER trauma team to resuscitate him fail, his body is taken to a lab at OCP and rebuilt as RoboCop. He is given three primary directives — serve the public trust, protect the innocent, and uphold the law — as well as a fourth, secret directive.RoboCop succeeds in stopping several crimes in the city, earning him attention from the media. The police are both awed by his skill and efficiency and concerned that he will eventually replace them. Meanwhile, RoboCop begins to have flashes of his old life as Murphy, including a dream of his brutal murder. Lewis, who has deduced RoboCop’s real identity by observing his mannerisms, reminds him of his real name before he departs to locate his killers. He finds a gas station being robbed by one of Boddicker’s gang members, Emil Antonowsky (Paul McCrane), who inadvertently reveals his part in Murphy’s murder. RoboCop visits his old house and discovers that his family has moved. He then has more visions of his former life. RoboCop learns of Emil’s connection to Boddicker, then interrogates Leon Nash (Ray Wise), another gang member, on Boddicker’s whereabouts.For his success with the RoboCop project, Morton is promoted to vice president, angering Jones, who had hoped for a promotion. One night, while Morton takes cocaine with two models, Boddicker appears, scares the models into leaving, and shoots Morton in the legs. He then plays a recording of Jones explaining that he sent Boddicker to kill Morton, being envious of Morton’s success while ED-209 was regarded as a failure. Boddicker places a grenade on a table, out of Morton’s reach, and leaves the crippled executive to die in the resulting explosion.RoboCop finds Boddicker at a cocaine factory and, after a massive shootout, tries to kill him. However, Boddicker reveals his affiliation with Jones, who effectively runs the police; and RoboCop arrests Boddicker instead. RoboCop then attempts to arrest Jones at OCP headquarters, but suddenly short-circuits. Jones reveals that he planted the hidden Directive 4, which prevents RoboCop from taking any action against an OCP executive, and admits to killing Morton. He sends an ED-209 and the police force to kill RoboCop, but Lewis helps RoboCop escape and takes him to the steel mill where he was murdered to recover. RoboCop, now displaying more of his former personality, learns from Lewis that Murphy’s wife and son moved away after his supposed death.Fed up with the continuing murders of officers and the increasing pressure on them from OCP’s exploits, the police force goes on strike, causing the city to descend into anarchy. Jones sends Boddicker and his gang to finish the job of destroying RoboCop. Using a tracking device provided by Jones, which was implanted into RoboCop, the gang finds RoboCop at the steel mill; but RoboCop and Lewis manage to subdue and eventually kill them. RoboCop then returns to OCP, where he walks in on Jones offering the company board the ED-209 as a replacement for the striking police department.After destroying the ED-209 guarding the building, RoboCop, in front of the board, reveals Jones’ role in Morton’s murder, showing a recording he made of Jones as evidence, but states he cannot act against Jones because of his fourth directive. Desperate, Jones takes the Old Man hostage and demands a helicopter for his escape. The Old Man, realizing the nature of the fourth directive, immediately fires Jones from OCP, nullifying the restriction of Directive 4. RoboCop shoots Jones and sends him flying out a window to his death. The Old Man thanks RoboCop and asks for his name, to which RoboCop replies, “Murphy.”One of the finest science fiction films of the 1980’s, in fact one of the finest Hollywood films of the 1980’s.

CAST
Peter Weller (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Nancy Allen (Children of The Corn 666)
Belidna Bauer (Poison Ivy 2)
John Glover (Smallville)
Tom Noonan (Manhunter)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Dan O’Herlihy (Halloween 3)
Robert DoQui (Original Intent)
Felton Perry (Dark Breed)
Stephen Lee (Dark Angel)
George Cheung (Mission Impossible III)
Galyn Gorg (Xena)
In the year after the success of the RoboCop program and Jones’s death, Omni Consumer Products (OCP) has created a new plan to have Detroit default on its debt so that OCP can foreclose on the entire city, take over its government, and replace the old neighborhoods with Delta City, a new planned city center independent of the United States government, enabling them to effectively have an entire city to be controlled by OCP.
Due to the effectiveness of the RoboCop program, the Delta City project is free to proceed. To rally public opinion behind urban redevelopment and to get a public positive reaction of constructing Delta City, OCP sparks an increase in street crime by terminating police pension plans and cutting salaries, fomenting a police strike, which they are legally allowed to do since OCP was granted power over the Detroit police force. RoboCop is unable to strike due to his directives and remains on duty as the only officer, with his partner, Anne Lewis.
Meanwhile, the Security Concepts division of OCP continues to sink millions into the development of a more advanced “RoboCop 2” in order to replace the original RoboCop and to be able to mass-produce RoboCop to be allowed to replace the police officers in order to cut expenses. Each attempt ends in disaster – all of the formerly deceased officers picked for the project committed suicide, unable to deal with the loss of their organic bodies. Dr. Juliette Faxx, an unscrupulous company psychologist, concludes that Alex Murphy’s strong sense of duty and his moral objection to suicide were the reasons behind his ability to adapt to his resurrection as the original RoboCop. Faxx convinces the Old Man to let her control the entire project, this time using a criminal with a desire for power and immortality, to the objection of the other executives on the project, fearing that a criminal could not be turned into an effective police officer.
Meanwhile, a new designer drug called “Nuke” has been plaguing the streets of Detroit. The distributor, Cain, believes that Nuke is the way to paradise, and he is obsessed with power and is opposing the Delta City plan; he fears that he will lose his market if the city is redeveloped into a capitalistic utopia. He is assisted by his girlfriend Angie, his juvenile apprentice Hob, and corrupt police officer Duffy, who is addicted to Nuke. Having beaten Cain’s location out of Duffy, RoboCop confronts Cain and his gang at an abandoned construction site. The criminals overwhelm Murphy and disassemble his body, dumping all of the pieces in front of his precinct. Cain has Duffy tortured to death for revealing their location.
Murphy is repaired, but Faxx reprograms him with over 300 new directives to “improve public relations”. The new directives compromise his ability to perform his normal duties, since he cannot attack suspects and must be friendly at all times, among other restrictions. When one of his original technicians suggests that a massive electrical charge might reboot his system and restore his original programming, Murphy connects to a high voltage transformer. The charge erases all of his directives, including his original ones, allowing him to be in a complete control of himself and out of OCP’s control. Murphy motivates the picketing officers to aid him in raiding Cain’s hideout. Cain is badly injured while making a getaway, and Hob takes control. Faxx selects Cain for the RoboCop 2 project, believing she can control him through his Nuke addiction.
Meanwhile, Hob, now the Nuke’s distributor, arranges a meeting with the Detroit mayor, offering to pay off the city’s debt to the United States government to allow it to leave the crisis and depression, in exchange for the legalization of Nuke in Detroit so Hob could make mass profits. However, OCP’s Delta City plans are threatened by this meeting because they need the city to bankrupt so they could form a plan to take over Detroit, and they send RoboCop 2/Cain to murder Hob to prevent this, and Cain slaughters the entire board meeting committee. Only the mayor manages to escape. RoboCop arrives too late, but Hob identifies Cain as the attacker before he dies.
During the unveiling ceremony for Delta City and RoboCop 2/Cain, the Old Man presents a canister of Nuke as a symbol of the current crime wave. Cain goes berserk at the sight of the Nuke and attacks the crowd. RoboCop arrives and the two cyborgs conduct a running battle throughout the building. The rest of the police force arrives and engages the crazed Cain, who opens fire at officers and civilians alike. RoboCop recovers the canister of Nuke and uses it to distract Cain, who stops fighting to administer the drug to himself. RoboCop then leaps onto his back, punches through his armor and rips out Cain’s brain stem, which he then pulverizes, ending his enemy’s rampage.
The Old Man, Johnson and OCP’s defense attorney, Holzgang, decide to deflect blame for the fiasco by scapegoating Faxx. Lewis complains that OCP is escaping accountability again, but RoboCop insists they must be patient because “We’re only human.”
A Great story, great action and breathtaking special effects. As good as, if not better than the original. A film that defied expectations and beliefs
CAST
Robert John Burke (Limitless)
Nancy Allen (Out of Sight)
Remy Ryan (Monkey Trouble)
Mako (Conan The Barbarian)
John Castle (Sparrow)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Rip Torn (Men In Black)
Robert DoQui (Original Intent)
Felton Perry (Dark Breed)
Stanley Anderson (Spider-Man)
After Robocop 2, Detroit is on the verge of bankruptcy after a series of failed business plans and drop of stocks, and are now struggling with their plans to create the new Delta City. To speed up the process, OCP creates an armed force called the Urban Rehabilitators, nick-named “Rehabs,” under the command of Paul McDaggett (John Castle). Ostensibly its purpose is to combat rising crime in Old Detroit, augmenting the ranks of the Detroit Police Department in apprehending violent criminals. In reality, it has been set up to forcibly relocate the residents of Cadillac Heights. Nikko, a Japanese-American computer whiz kid, loses her parents in the process.The police force is gradually superseded by the Rehabs, and violent crime begins to spiral out of control. The Delta City dream of the former OCP CEO, “Old Man”, lives on with the help of the Japanese Kanemitsu Corporation, which has bought a controlling stake in OCP and is trying to finance the plan. Kanemitsu (Mako), CEO of the Kanemitsu Corporation, sees the potential in the citywide redevelopment, and moves forward with the plans to remove the current citizens in order to create Delta City. The company develops and uses its own ninja androids called “Otomo” to help McDaggett and the new OCP president (Rip Torn) overcome the resistance of anti-OCP militia forces.
RoboCop (Burke) and partner Anne Lewis (Allen) try to defend civilians from the Rehabs one night, but Lewis is mortally wounded by McDaggett and eventually dies. Unable to fight back because of his “Fourth Directive” programming, RoboCop is saved by members of a resistance movement composed of Nikko and residents from Cadillac Heights and eventually joins them. Due to severe damage sustained in the shoot-out, RoboCop’s systems efficiency plummets, and he asks the resistance to summon Dr. Lazarus, one of the scientists who created him. Upon arrival she begins to treat him, deleting the Fourth Directive in the process. During an earlier raid on an armory, the resistance picked up a jet-pack prototype, originally intended for RoboCop’s use, which Lazarus modifies and upgrades to hold RoboCop.
After recovering from his injuries, RoboCop conducts a one-man campaign against the Rehabs and OCP. He finds McDaggett and attempts to subdue him, but McDaggett is able to escape. McDaggett then obtains information from a disgruntled resistance member (Stephen Root) regarding the location of the resistance fighters’ base. The Rehabs attack and most of the resistance members are either killed or taken prisoner. RoboCop returns to the rebel base to find it abandoned. One Otomo unit arrives and attacks him. RoboCop experiences another power drain and his left arm is destroyed, but eventually he is able to overcome his opponent with his arm-mounted gun. Nikko infiltrates the OCP building and assists a captured Lazarus in broadcasting an improvised video, revealing OCP’s responsibility for the criminality in the city and implicating them in the removal and killing of the Cadillac Heights residents. The broadcast causes OCP’s stock to plunge, driving the company into financial ruin and bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, McDaggett decides to execute an all-out strike against Cadillac Heights with the help of the Detroit police, but the police officers, enraged at the company’s sadistic ways, refuse to comply and instead defect to the resistance in order to get revenge for Anne and their salaries and pensions, escalating the rebellion against OCP into a full-scale war. As a result, McDaggett turns to hiring street gangs and hooligans to assist with his plans.
Having heard Lazarus’ broadcast, RoboCop provides aerial support for the entrenched resistance forces. He then proceeds to the OCP building and confronts the waiting McDaggett. RoboCop is then attacked, and nearly defeated, by two Otomo robots. Nikko and Lazarus succeed in reprogramming them using a wireless link from a laptop computer, however, forcing them to attack each other. The Otomos’ self-destruct system activate, forcing RoboCop to flee with Nikko and Lazarus. The flaming discharge from the jetpack immobilizes McDaggett, leaving him to perish in the blast.
As Old Detroit is being cleaned up, Kanemitsu arrives and finally comes face to face RoboCop along with his group, while his translator (Doug Yasuda) tells the OCP president on Kanemitsu’s behalf that he is fired, as the corporation shuts down OCP for good and plans to leave Detroit. Kanemitsu then bows to RoboCop and the group in respect.
Although I’m a huge fan of the Robocop and Robocop 2 films
I couldn’t bring myself to like Robocop 3. An obvious disappointment to many fans of the first two films will be the lack of Peter Weller as Robocop. Robert Burke’s acting takes a lot away from the character that Peter Weller did so well to endear to all of us.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Tim Daly (Wings)
Dana Delaney (Hand of God)
David Kaufman (Justice League: Doom)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Joseph Bologna (The Nanny)
George Dzundza (Species II)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Mike Farrell (MASH)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Joely Fisher (Til Death)
Victor Brandt (T.J. Hooker)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Finola Hughes (General Hospital)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Malcolm McDowell (Heroes)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final ConflicT)
Brad Garrett (Finding Nemo)
Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Larry Drake (Firefly)
Michael York (Logans Run)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Marion Ross (That 70s Show)
Cam Clarke (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin)
Sandra Bernmhard (2 Broke Girls)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Arleen Sorkin (Duet)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Bob Hastings (McHale’s Navy)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (77 Sunset Strip)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Jennifer Lien (Star Trek: Voyager)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Peter Gallagher (American Beauty)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Paul Williams(The Muppet Movie)
John Glover (Smallville)
Henry Silva (Above The Law)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Jason Priestly (Tru Calling)
Chad Lowe (Unfaithful)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 2)
Billy West (Futurama)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Olivia Hussey (IT)
David Warner (Tron)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)

I think people can generally divided into two categories: Batman people or Superman people. Either you are into the dark, gloomy and atmospheric or the optimistic and all-American. I’ve always considered myself a Batman guy. As such, I was estatic when “Batman: The Animated Series” hit the airwaves. An excellent portrayal of the Caped Crusader, it set a new standard for cartoons, not on in terms of the look, but also the stories. Cartoons didn’t have to be made for children, but could aim higher.

So after the success of “Batman: TAS,” it was only natural for Superman to get a new chance at the small screen. The creative minds behind the Dark Knight’s cartoon renaissance took on Big Blue, and took him to heights not seen since the early Fleischer cartoons made him the original animated superhero standard bearer. By sticking to the character’s roots, but not allowing themselves to be restricted by a slavish attention to the comic books or movies, the creators created a cartoon Superman that fans could embrace, but those without a comic-book education would enjoy as well.

The majority of the episodes follow something of a pattern, as Supes faces a challenge from a villain, is overcome and figures out how to overcome that challenge just in time to get the bad guy before 22 minutes are over (unless it’s a multi-episode story arc.) When the show shakes free those format shackles is the moment when the series shines. Episodes like the series-opening three-show “The Last Son of Krypton,” “Speed Demons,” which co-stars The Flash and “My Girl,” which introduces the all-grown-up Lana Lang, are among some of the most enjoyable in this volume. That’s not to say that the straightforward adventures aren’t fun, as “Two’s a Crowd” and “Fun and Games” show.

Superman aficionados will enjoy appearances by Toyman, Bibbo, Metallo, Brainiac, Darkseid and a raucous two-episode appearance by the Main Man, Lobo. There’s also plenty of celebrity voices to listen for, including Lori Petty, Tim Daly, Dana Delaney, Ron Pearlman, Leslie Easterbrook, Lauren Tom, Brad Garrett, Mike Farrell, Shelley Fabares, Christopher McDonald, Malcolm McDowell, Bud Cort, Joe Bologna, Michael York and Joely Fisher. If you don’t know which characters they play, I won’t ruin it. It adds another layer of enjoyment to watching the show.

these shows are great, with great writing and animation in every episode. Highlights from this second volume include the episodes “Identitiy Crisis” which introduces Bizarro and “Heavy Metal” which introduces fellow superhero Steel, who teams up with Superman to battle Metallo.

“World’s Finest” is a three-part episode that teams Superman with Batman for the first time as they both take on their respective arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor and the Joker.

Other episodes feature appearances by a variety of villains and guest heroes – Dr. Fate shows up in “The Hand of Fate” – but the best episode of the collection has no guest appearance by a crime fighter or a super villain. “The Late Mr. Kent” is perhaps the most complex and best written of the 18 episodes in this volume – and perhaps the entire series. The story revolves around Clark Kent’s attempts to clear a man on death row before he is executed. For his troubles, someone tries to kill the intrepid reporter, and most people believe he is dead, leaving Superman alone, without his alter ego to rely upon. For a show that clocks in at less than thirty minutes, it offers some complex insights into the relationship between mild-mannered Clark Kent and his crime-fighting counterpart Superman.

The main arc of this season borrows from the comic book universe and brings Darkseid and his homeworld to the forefront. Hinted at earlier in the show, it’s in this third volume that the Lord of Apokolips finally gets his payoff – and his payback. In a trio of two-parters, Apokolips… Now!, Little Girl Lost, and Legacy, Superman fights one of his most ruthless foes in a series of episodes that offer some excellent action, drama, and science fiction fun.

While these episodes are very faithful to the mythos, we’ve also got a great selection of original stories that go to prove that with a character like Superman, there is no limit to the stories that you can tell. One of my favorites is Knight Time. When Batman goes missing, Superman pays a visit to Gotham City and tries to find out where his friend has gone. Supes inadvertently ends up masquerading as Batman – dressing up in the Dark Knight’s costume and everything! – and teams up with Robin to solve the mystery of the missing Bruce Wayne. Not only is the episode entertaining, but it’s also got a great sense of humor. Seeing Superman do his best impersonation of Batman is wonderful – Clark doesn’t know which utility pockets contain what, and his attempts at being grim (nodding his head instead of speaking) are great.

Watching these shows you get the feeling that it was during this final stretch of episodes that the show’s producers were finding new ways of playing with the formula that they had designed, and perfected, with both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. Not only do these Superman episodes have a lot of two-parters, but we’ve also got some great guest-stars; it seems that this show is the precursor to Justice League.

We’ve got heroes, Kyle Rayner from In Brightest Day, and villains, Ra’s Al Ghul in The Demon Reborn, and everyone in between – everyone’s favorite master of the sea, Aquaman in Fish Story. We also get an expansion of the Superman supporting cast when Supergirl makes a welcome appearance in the Little Girl Lost two-parter.

In one of the episodes found in this collection, Superman pays his final respects to a recently departed friend. In the graveyard, Superman comes to realize something very important: “In the end, the world didn’t really need a Super man. Just a brave one.” This show gives us a character who is both brave and super. It gives us a real hero. It gives us Superman… as good as he’s ever been.