REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – 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

Powers Booth (Sin City)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Seymour Cassel (Dick Tracy)
Takayo Fischer (Moneyball)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Giselle Loren (Happy Feet)
Malcolm McDowell (Halloween)
Kim Mai Guest (G.I. Joe: Reneages)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Kin Shriner (Manhunter)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Alexis Denisof (Avengers Assemble)
Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon a Time)
Juliet Landau (Aquaman)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Oded Fehr (V)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Amy Acker (The Gifted)
Virgina Madsen (Highlander II)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
Joanne Whalley (Willow)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Bud Cort (MASH)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)

MV5BMjQwMjQ0MTUzM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTAwOTM2MjE@._V1_Since I was just a young lad, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm have been showing me exactly what a superhero should be. They were some of the people behind the sublime Batman: The Animated Series, which is the definitive version of Batman in my eyes. They helped bring a certain Kryptonian to television screens in the late ’90s, taking an extra step into forming a coherent version of the DC universe to life. Hell, they even went so far as to help create a true successor to the Dark Knight. After doing all this, they managed to bring a clean, faithful and truly amazing assortment of champions of the DC Universe to life, showing us all exactly what a superhero should be.MV5BMTQxMjk3MTgxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDAwOTM2MjE@._V1_JLU – Season Two  remains faithful to its source material, which isn’t something you’ll find too often when translating a comic to a TV show or movie; whether it’s Green Arrow humming his own theme music while he’s fighting villains to Batman always being the baddest man in the room, the show conveys everything perfectly. A huge strength of the show lies within its voice talent, which is an assortment of voice-over veterans that have had some time to perfect their takes on characters: Kevin Conroy expertly delivers every line as Batman; Michael Rosenbaum has a wonderful, playful performance as Flash; and Clancy Brown is nothing short of brilliant as the ever-scheming, truly egotistic Lex Luthor. Though some of these actors have had over a decade to perfect their take on their respective characters, the guest stars who have little to no VO experience, much less know their characters, manage to be spot-on with their takes, making their characters memorable and charismatic.MV5BMTk4NTY4ODY4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDYwOTM2MjE@._V1_Not only that, some of the guest stars who appear are more than enough to cause a nerdgasm to any self-respecting comic geek. Names like Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Amy Acker, Morena Baccarin, Juliet Landau, Michael Ironside, James Remar, and Daniel Dae Kim all bring their characters to life in the best way possible, creating a lasting impact on the series. As the series progressed from the seven core heroes, requiring the talent of so many guest stars, some viewers may be inclined to think, “Wow, DC has a lot of lame heroes in its roster.” Almost at the exact point in the series that the thought occurred to me, the show comes out swinging with the episode “Patriot Act,” hitting the nail on the head. This episode has an Incredible Hulk type character wanting to face off against the JLU varsity squad (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc&#Array;), but what he gets is a slew of D and E-list heroes, like Stargirl, S.T.R.I.P.E., Shining Knight, Vigilante, Green Arrow and Speedy.MV5BMzcyNjI0Nzc5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODI5ODM2MjE@._V1_Though you may be thinking “who?” at this roster of leaguers, and though they get thoroughly trounced, the episode manages to make the point of despite who they’re fighting, these champions won’t ever quit, and it’s a theme that’s brought up more than once during the series without beating you over the head with it nor becoming cheesy, and that’s fine by me. The writing of the series is easily its greatest strength as it has fun with its storylines and it’s very obvious that everyone involved knows their craft. They don’t bother setting up any more characters – they already had four seasons to do so. Rather than exploring the universe further, they jump into tales that can be enjoyed by newcomers and longtime fans alike. The main story-arc of the season is a huge nod to an older crowd as it deals with the Legion of Doom – well, maybe not in name, but without a doubt in spirit: A gaggle of villains led by Lex Luthor who use a giant Darth Vader helmet as a base of operations.MV5BOTE5NTA5MTc1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTIwOTM2MjE@._V1_If that isn’t the Legion of Doom, I don’t know what is. The storyline revolves around Luthor’s quest to reunite with Braniac and become a god. Unfortunately, he unleashes one of the most dangerous and powerful foes in the DC universe and the events that follow make for one satisfying bookend to one of the most prolific takes on a comic universe.

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: V (2009) – SEASON 2

Starring

Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost)
Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2)
Joel Gretsch (The Vampire Diaries)
Logan Huffman (Final Girl)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Scott Wolf (Go)
Charles Mesure (The Magicians)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Jane Badler (Neighbours)
Christopher Shyer (J.Edgar)
Mark Hildreth (Planet Hulk)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Roark Critchlow (Batman: Year One)
Scott Hylands (Decoy)
Bret Harrison (Orange County)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Bates Motel)
Chilton Crane (50/50)
Jonathan Walker (Red)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Nicholas Lea (The X-FIles)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
Ona Grauer (Elysium)
Peter Bryant (Sanctuary)
Zak Santiago (Shooter)
Adrian Holmes (Skyscraper)
Samantha Ferris (Stargate SG.1)
Charlie Carrick (Reign)
Marc Singer (Beauty and The Beast)

I loved the original 1984 miniseries (and the spin-off and short-lived TV series) that spawned this big-budget televised reboot of V. It was good old-fashioned cult sci-fi fun, layered with a surprisingly morose setting, dark political subtext, some hokey but amusing effects, and a great little story about a rather horrifying alien invasion.The reboot goes in a few new directions, taking the source material a bit more seriously. The show is layered with popular cult stars and seasoned with some pretty ambitious visual effects for a series of this budget. Alas, while the high concept series did earn praise from fans and critics, it just didn’t have much of an audience.Like so many network sci-fi series before it, V was doomed from the get-go. An expensive show must yield big ratings, otherwise an already wary network will cut you loose. V is yet another show that really didn’t have a chance to find its footing, or its audience. Many, admittedly, were probably turned off by the show simply because it’s a relaunch of a popular cult miniseries. While others are turned away for the same reason any sci-fi show fails on network TV – they fear it’ll be canceled after a few episodes.Joel Gretsch and Elizabeth Mitchell in V (2009)True, V did make it into its second season, and I commend the network for sticking with the series for as long as they did. The second season of V did show some improvement, too. The narrative was tightened in certain spots, with a better focus on character. The mythos and mystery of the series worked quite well. And there were some solid episodes throughout the show’s second run. But the writing was on the wall at the end of Season 1. V would not last. And it didn’t.

REVIEW: THE MUMMY RETURNS

CAST

Brendan Fraser (Bedazzled)
Rachel Weisz (The Bourne Legacy)
Arnold Vosloo (G.I. Joe)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Oded Fehr (Resident Evil: Apocalypse)
Patricia Velásquez (Mindhunters)
Freddie Boath (The Pillars of The Earth)
Alun Armstrong (Van Helsing)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad)
Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas)
Shaun Parkes (The River)
Aharon Ipalé (Charlie Wilson’s war)

In 3067 BC, the Scorpion King leads his army on a campaign to conquer the world. After fighting for seven years, his army is defeated while attacking Thebes and exiled to the desert of Ahm Shere, where his men die of heat exhaustion. After vowing to give Anubis his soul for the power to defeat his enemies, an oasis forms to hide the Scorpion King’s pyramid and he is given a legion of jackal warriors in return. The Army of Anubis sweeps across Egypt, but once their task is finished, Anubis claims the Scorpion King’s soul and his army.In 1933, Rick and Evelyn O’Connell explore a ruined mortuary temple in ancient Thebes with their son, Alex, where they find the Bracelet of Anubis. In London, the bracelet locks onto Alex, showing him a vision directing him to Ahm Shere. Alex has seven days to reach the oasis, or the bracelet will kill him when the sun’s rays shine on the Scorpion King’s pyramid.Evelyn is captured by an Egyptian cult who resurrect Imhotep; they wish to use his power to defeat the Scorpion King, giving him command of Anubis’ army to take over the world. The cult, led by Baltus Hafez, the British Museum’s curator, includes a warrior named Lock-Nah and Meela Nais; the latter being a reincarnation of Imhotep’s love interest Anck-su-namun. Rick sets out to rescue Evelyn, accompanied by her brother Jonathan and the Medjai Ardeth Bay.Hafez attempts to sacrifice Evelyn but a fight ensues between Rick and Imhotep. Imhotep calls on the help of mummified soldiers to kill Rick and the others. After freeing Evelyn, they flee on a double-decker bus with the soldiers in pursuit. After defeating them, Alex is kidnapped by Lock-Nah, and along with the cult travels to Egypt. The O’Connells pursue them to rescue Alex, along with Rick’s associate from his past adventures, Izzy, a pilot, who provides the group with transportation.The bracelet gives Alex directions to Ahm Shere that Imhotep follows and they travel there by train. At each location, Alex leaves clues for his parents, who follow in Izzy’s dirigible. Imhotep uses the Book of the Dead to give Meela Nais the soul of Anck-su-namun, but by doing so he allows Evelyn to unlock the memories of her previous life as Princess Nefertiri, the bracelet’s keeper and Pharaoh Seti I’s daughter. Lock-Nah finds Alex leaving clues, so Imhotep makes a wall of water that attacks the dirigible, causing the O’Connells to crash into the jungle of Ahm Shere. Izzy stays with the dirigible in hopes to repair it. By nightfall, the O’Connells attack the cult, and both groups are attacked by pygmy mummies. Rick retrieves Alex while Ardeth Bay kills Lock-Nah. They escape the pygmies, who kill the cult except for Baltus. Imhotep and Anck-su-namun escape unharmed.Rick and Alex eventually make it to the pyramid before sunrise, where the bracelet detaches from Alex’s arm. Ardeth regroups with the Medjai in case Anubis’s army rises. Anck-su-namun soon stabs Evelyn, killing her, and escapes with Imhotep. Rick, determined to avenge the death of Evelyn, pursues Imhotep. Baltus puts on the bracelet and revives the army. Anubis takes Imhotep’s powers, wanting Imhotep to fight as a mortal. Rick finds Imhotep summoning the Scorpion King and fights him. The Scorpion King interrupts them, and Imhotep lies to him that Rick was sent to kill him. At the same time, the Medjai battle Anubis’s army of jackal warriors. While Rick and the Scorpion King fight, Baltus is killed. Jonathan and Alex steal the Book of the Dead from Anck-su-namun and use it to resurrect Evelyn, who confronts Anck-su-namun while Alex and Jonathan go to help Rick.The scepter Jonathan has been carrying extends into a spear that can kill the Scorpion King. The Medjai defeats Anubis’ army, but have only defeated the vanguard; the full army charges toward them. Rick kills the Scorpion King, using the scepter, sending him and his army back into the Underworld, which causes the oasis to be sucked back into the pyramid. Rick and Imhotep hang above a pit that leads to the underworld. Evelyn risks her life to save Rick, but Anck-su-namun abandons Imhotep, who, heartbroken, chooses to fall to his death. Anck-su-namun, while escaping, falls into a pit of scorpions and is stung to death. The O’Connells reach the top of the pyramid, which is sinking into the desert. Izzy arrives with a modified dirigible and rescues the O’Connells just as the oasis and the pyramid disappears completely. They depart into the sunset, with Ardeth Bay saluting them, before riding off.A  fresh element to the movie is an interesting  sub-plot about Evy. Her bizarre visions are actually flashbacks from her past life as Nefertiri. Although unnecessary to the movie overall, it does provide some moments of revelation that intertwine with the history of Imhotep’s forbidden love, Anck Su Namun. Although this movie feels like it’s just a bigger and better version of the first film, that’s certainly not a bad thing. Hell, what made the first film so memorable was its highly entertaining blend of action, adventure, special effects, and comedy. Even better, it was all wrapped up in engaging Egyptian folklore.

REVIEW: THE MUMMY (1999)

CAST

Brendan Fraser (Bedazzled)
Rachel Weisz (The Bourne Legacy)
Arnold Vosloo (G.I. Joe)
John Hannah (Spartacus)
Kevin J. O’ Connor (Van Helsing)
Jonathan Hyde (The Strain)
Oded Fehr (Resident Evil: Apocalypse)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Patricia Velásquez (Mindhunters)
Bernard Fox (Titanic)
Omid Djalili (Alien Autopsy)

In Thebes, Egypt, 1290 BC, high priest Imhotep has a love affair with Anck-su-Namun, the mistress of Pharaoh Seti I. When the Pharaoh discovers the affair, Imhotep and Anck-su-Namun assassinate him. Imhotep flees, while Anck-su-Namun kills herself, intending for Imhotep to resurrect her. Imhotep and his priests steal her corpse and travel to Hamunaptra, the city of the dead, but the resurrection ritual is stopped by Seti’s bodyguards, the Medjai. Imhotep’s priests are all mummified alive, while Imhotep himself is sentenced to suffer the Hom Dai, the worst of Egyptian curses, buried alive with flesh-eating scarab beetles. Imhotep is sealed away in a sarcophagus at the feet of a statue of the Egyptian god Anubis and kept under strict surveillance by the Medjai to prevent Imhotep’s return.In 1926, Jonathan Carnahan presents his sister Evelyn, a Cairo librarian and aspiring Egyptologist, with an intricate box and map, which leads to Hamunaptra. Jonathan reveals he stole the box from an American adventurer, Rick O’Connell, who discovered the city while in the French Foreign Legion. Rick makes a deal with Evelyn to lead them there if they release him from prison.Rick leads Evelyn and her party to the city, where the group encounters a band of American treasure hunters guided by Rick’s cowardly colleague Beni Gabor. The expeditions are attacked by the Medjai, led by the warrior Ardeth Bay. Against Ardeth’s advice to leave the city, the two expeditions continue to excavate. Evelyn searches for the famous Book of the Living, a book made of pure gold. Instead of finding the book, she, Rick, and Jonathan stumble upon the statue of Anubis and the remains of Imhotep buried underneath. The team of Americans, meanwhile, discover the black Book of the Dead, accompanied by canopic jars carrying Anck-su-Namun’s preserved organs.At night, Evelyn takes the Book of the Dead and reads a page aloud, accidentally awakening Imhotep. The expeditions return to Cairo, but Imhotep follows them with the help of Beni. Imhotep returns to full strength by killing the Americans one by one, and brings the ten plagues back to Egypt. Seeking a way to stop Imhotep, Rick, Evelyn and Jonathan meet Ardeth at a museum. Ardeth hypothesizes that Imhotep wants to resurrect Anck-su-Namun again and plans to do so by sacrificing Evelyn. Evelyn believes that if the Book of the Dead brought Imhotep back to life, the Book of the Living can kill him again, and deduces the book’s whereabouts. Imhotep corners the group with an army of slaves. Evelyn agrees to accompany Imhotep if he spares the rest of the  group. Imhotep, Evelyn, and Beni return to Hamunaptra, pursued by Rick, Jonathan, and Ardeth. Imhotep prepares to sacrifice Evelyn, but she is rescued after an intense battle with Imhotep’s mummified priests. When Evelyn reads from the Book of Amun-Ra, Imhotep becomes mortal again, and Rick forces him into the River of Death. Imhotep leaves the world of the living, vowing revenge. While looting treasure from the pyramid, Beni accidentally sets off an ancient booby trap and is trapped by a swarm of flesh-eating scarabs as Hamunaptra collapses into the sand. Ardeth rides away as Rick and Evelyn kiss and, with Jonathan, ride off into the sunset on a pair of camels laden with Beni’s treasure.In terms of pure escapist fun, The Mummy was a huge success, and it holds up well thanks to Director Stephen Sommers balancing the elements involved so well.

REVIEW: TEXAS RANGERS


CAST
James Van Der Beek (Dawsons Creek)
Rachael Leigh Cook (Antitrust)
Ashton Kutcher (That 70s Show)
Dylan McDermott (Runaway Jury)
Usher Raymonmd (Shes All That)
Tom Skerritt (Poison Ivy)
Randy Travis (The Rainmaker)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Jon Abrahams (Scary Movie)
Oded Fehr (V)
Eric Johnson (Smallville)
Matt Keeslar (Scream 3)
James Coburn (The Great Escape)
Ten years after the Civil War has ended, the Governor of Texas asks Leander McNelly (Dylan McDermott) to recommission a company of Rangers to help uphold the law along the Mexican border. Aside from a few seasoned veterans, the recruits are young men who have little or no experience with guns or policing crime. The antagonist of the story is John King Fisher (Alfred Molina) who is stealing cattle from Texas cattle barons like Richard Dukes and Victor Logan and driving them into Mexico, where he sells them to the Mexican army.
After McNelly and his men pursue Fisher for a while, they fall into a trap, where many of the young and ill-trained Rangers are killed. Defeated and low on morale, the men fall back to a ranch house and attempt to set up an ambush for Fisher. After being double crossed by a woman (perhaps unwittingly), the rangers remain one step behind Fisher and his men. Two of the Rangers follow Fisher and his men to the Mexican border, where they wait for the rest of their company. Once the entire Ranger force arrives, they plan their final attack. In a final gun-slinging showdown, the Rangers face off against Fisher and his men that will tip the state of the border country in the direction of either chaos or justice.
This is an excellent film, and worth watching. It gives a gritty example of how life probably was in those days, particularly for the Texas Rangers. Leander McNelly did actually exist in real life (as did King Fisher), but the film uses poetic licence in terms of the storyline in relation to facts (what’s new!). The acting in this film is very good, and the casting really spot on.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD – SEASON 1-3

Image result for batman the brave and the bold logo

MAIN CAST

Diedrich Bader (Vampires Suck)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
James Arnold Taylor (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Marc Worden (Ultimate Avengers)
Grey DeLisle (The Replacements)
John Dimaggio (Futurama)
Tom Kenny (Super hero Squad)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Corey Burton (Critters)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Vyvan Pham (Generator Rex)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Mikey Kelley (TMNT)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Will Wheaton (Powers)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Loren Lester (Batman: TAS)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Jeff Bennett (James Bond Jr.)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Ellen Greene (Pushing Daisies)
Armin Shimmerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Billy West (Futurama)
Jeffrey Tambor (The Hangover)
Paul Reubens (Gotham)
Diane Delano (Jeepers Creepers II)
Peter Woodward (Crusade)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
James Remar (Flashforward)
Jeffrey Combs (Gothman)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
William Katt (Carrie)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mark Hamill (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam West (BAtman 60s)
Julie Newmar (Batman 60s)
Dana Delany (Body of Proof)
Tony Todd (Chuck)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and Thje X-Men)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Mae Whitman (Independence Day)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Revels)
John Michael Higgins (Still Waiting)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Henry Winkler (Happy Days)

There’s a gloriously meta moment in the back half of this season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold where the show’s producers are raked over the coals at Comic-Con. One of the twentysomethings in the crowd grouses and groans about how the Caped Crusader in the cartoon isn’t his Batman, and…well, he’s not wrong. DC’s comics anymore are joylessly grim and gritty…22 monthly pages of misery and scowling and torture and dismemberment and death and high collars and way too much crosshatching. Batman: The Brave and the Bold, meanwhile, is defined by its vivid colors and clean, thick linework. It’s a series whose boundless imagination and thirst for high adventure make you feel like a six year old again, all wide-eyed and grinning ear to ear.


You know all about The Dark Knight’s war on crime, and in The Brave and the Bold , he’ll duke it out against any badnik, anywhere. He doesn’t go it alone, either, with every episode pairing Batman up with at least one other DC superhero. Heck, to keep it interesting, The Brave and the Bold shies away from the obvious choices like Superman and Wonder Woman. Instead, you get more interesting team-ups like Blue Beetle (more than one, even!), Elongated Man, Wildcat, Mister Miracle, Kamandi, and B’wana Beast.
Other animated incarnations of Batman have been rooted in something close enough to reality. Sure, you might have androids and the occasional Man-Bat, but they tried to veer away from anything too fantastic. The Brave and tbe Bold has free reign to do just about whatever it wants. One week, maybe you’ll get an adventure in the far-flung reaches of space with a bunch of blobby alien amoebas who mistake Batman for Blue Beetle’s sidekick. The next might offer up Tolkien-esque high fantasy with dragons and dark sorcery. Later on, Aquaman and The Atom could play Fantastic Voyage inside Batman’s bloodstream, all while the Caped Crusader is swimming around in a thirty-story walking pile of toxic waste. He could be in a Western or a post-apocalyptic wasteland or a capes-and-cowls musical or even investigate a series of grisly something-or-anothers alongside Sherlock Holmes in Victorian England.

Batman has markedly different relationships with every one of those masked heroes. There’s the gadget geekery with an earlier incarnation of the Blue Beetle. With the younger, greener-but-still-blue Beetle, Batman takes on more of a mentor role.

More of a stern paternal figure for Plastic Man, and a rival for Green Arrow. Sometime it might not even be the most pleasant dynamic, such as a decidedly adult Robin who doesn’t feel like he can fully step outside the long shadow that Batman casts.

There are some really unique takes on iconic (and not so iconic!) DC superheroes here, and far and away the standout is Aquaman. This barrel-chested, adventure-loving braggart is my favorite incarnation of the king of the seven seas, and if Aquaman ever scores a cartoon of his own, I hope he looks and acts a lot like this. Oh, and The Brave and the Bold does a spectacular job mining DC’s longboxes for villains too, and along with some of the familiar favorites, you get a chance to boo and hiss at the likes of Kanjar Ro, The Sportsmaster, Kite Man, Gentleman Ghost, Chemo, Calendar ManKing, Crazy Quilt, and Shrapnel. The Brave and the Bold delivers its own versions of Toyman, Vandal Savage, and Libra while it’s at it, the latter of whom has the closest thing to a season arc that the series inches towards.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold is every bit as fun and thrilling as you’d expect from a series where every episode’s title ends with an exclamation point. Each installment is fat-packed with action, and the series has a knack for piling it on in ways I never saw coming. Even with as imaginative and off-the-walls as The Brave and the Bold can get, it still sticks to its own internal logic, so the numerous twists, turns, and surprises are all very much earned.

The majority of the episodes have a cold open not related to the remainder of the episode. Despite its episodic nature, if you’re expecting a big storyline in these 26 episodes, you’re going to be pretty disappointed as the extent of an overarching story in the season is the occasional villain that appears more than once, like Starro, but that’s really the only connecting bridge between episodes.

Season 2 contains one of my favorite episodes of not only this particular season, but probably in the entire series, “Chill of the Night!”, which goes back to Batman’s origins as Bruce Wayne learns more about the man who murdered his parents, turning him into the crime-fighter he would become, it’s one of the most well known origin stories in media, ever, but it’s done so well here. Another reason I love this episode is my blinding nostalgia for the voice cast.

The original 1960’s Batman, Adam West, guest stars as Batman’s father, Thomas Wayne, while Julie Newmar, who starred opposite of West as Catwoman from the original Batman TV show, plays Batman’s mother, Martha Wayne. My favorite Batman of all time, theatrical or not, Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman from Batman: The Animated Series and various other series/movies/games, voices the Phantom Stranger. Lastly, the baddie of the episode, The Spectre, is voiced by none other than Mark Hamill, the definitive voice of the Joker.

The Episodes in season 3 are wildly imaginative; so much so that purists will probably be put off, at least initially. They range from “Night of the Batmen”, where batman is incapacitated and it is up to Aquaman, Green Arrow, Captain Marvel, and Plastic Man to don the cowl, and keep gotham safe. As weird as that may sound, this episode is pure fun, and a joy to watch. Other stand outs are the never before seen in the states “The Mask of Matches Malone”, “Shadow of the Bat”, “Scorn of the Star Sapphire”, and “Powerless”.

Special mention has to be made of the final episode of the series however, “Mitefall”. In this meta episode, Batmite does a fantastic job breaking down why the series is ending, and the disconnect of the so-called “purists”, whose baseless, closed minded, ignorance eventually doomed this excellent series.

When all is said and done, we received three outstanding, and criminally underrated, seasons and it is a joy to see.