REVIEW: BATMAN: RETURN OF THE CAPED CRUSADERS

CAST (VOICES)

Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Return To The Batcave)
Julie Newmar (Star Trek)
Jeff Bergman (Gremlins 2)
Wally Wingert (American Dad)
William Salyers (Judging Amy)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Jim Ward (Ben 10)
Thomas Lennon (balls of Fury)

The official plot synopsis reads as follows, “It’s back to the 1960s as Batman and Robin spring into action when Gotham City is threatened by a quartet of Batman’s most fiendish foes – Penguin, The Joker, Riddler and Catwoman. This time, the four super-villains have combined their wicked talents to hatch a plot so nefarious that the Dynamic Duo will need to go to outer space (and back) to foil their arch enemies and restore order in Gotham City.

What a dose of Nostalgia. The opening credits incorporated many classic comic book covers with some fantastic animation. I could not stop watching. Fascinating, funny, festive, friendly, and very alliterative, the actors, writers, and animators knocked this out of the park.

I was thoroughly amused throughout. None of the dozens of punchlines are particularly surprising, but they are all fun, and many of them require the set-up, animation, and acting to be meaningful.

The movie does get a bit dark. In one particular scene, Robin is horrified by a punch that doesn’t follow Marquess of Queensberry rules. Robin’s reaction to that punch and subsequent actions keep the movie grounded and friendly. I have to give special acclaim for Burt Ward, here — his exuberance and delivery hasn’t changed an iota.

Does the movie get some things wrong? Like the Joker’s hidden mustache? Yes and perhaps. There are dozens of things that are not quite like the 60’s show, and hundreds of things that are spot-on perfect. I don’t recall hearing the Riddler’s music cue, but the Batman theme is incorporated well in many places. The producers have already mention that some of the “mistakes” are intentional, such as the colors of Robin’s logo being flipped in a throwaway shot, an homage to mistakes in previous animations. I will be watching this many times.

The sequel has already been announced, with William Shatner as Two- Face.This is the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen in years. Highly recommended.

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REVIEW: BATMAN UNLIMITED: MECHS VS MUTANTS

CAST (VOICES)

Roger Craig Smith (Avengers Assemble)
Chris Diamantopoulos (About A Boy TV)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Charlie Schlatter (Diagnosis Murder)
Dana Snyder (Open Season 3)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Richard Epcar (Power Rangers)
Oded Fehr (V)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Dave B. Mitchell (The Lorax)
Troy Baker (Marvel Anime)

Image result for batman unlimited mechs vs mutantsBatman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants is half Batman and Batfamily adventure. This time around for Batman, Robin (Damian Wayne), Flash, and Green Arrow vs. Penguin, Bane, Chemo, Mr. Freeze and Clayface. This is the third in the Batman Unlimited direct to video animated films.The latest in the toy-centric Batman Unlimited storyline transforms from a commercial to current Dynamic Duo adventure in a frozen Gotham City. Roger Craig Smith (Batman: Arkham Origins) returns as Batman and introducing Boy Wonder Damian Wayne voiced by Lucien Dodge (Fate/Zero). The Damian/Batman relationship is explored a bit here, in a surprising move that wholly embraces the current DC Rebirth status quo.Image result for batman unlimited mechs vs mutantsThere is no mention of Batman being Damian’s father, but it is hinted that he is the grandchild of Ra’s al Ghul when Robin awakens from a bad dream screaming, “Grandfather, NO!”. Pennyworth encourages Robin not to stay up too late studying to become Robin, as The Dark Knight has enrolled him into a “Robin Training Program”.Image result for batman unlimited mechs vs mutantsWill Friedle (Batman Beyond) appears as Nightwing and a simpatico brother to young Master Wayne. When faced with the threats lobbied by a team-up of the exiled Penguin (Dana Snyder) and Mr. Freeze (Oded Fehr) who recruits Killer Croc, Chemo, Clayface and Bane, Batman and Robin enlist the aide of Leaguesters Flash (Charlie Schlatter) and Green Arrow (Chris Diamantopoulos). Good guys round out their team with Commissioner Gordon and Dr. Kirk Langstrom.Genius scientist Victor Fries comes up with a formula to mix the compositional makeup of Bane, Chemo and Clayface to develop monsters capable of crushing cars and stomping through Gotham. Croc is the first to get juiced up, growing ten times his size and making the citizens of Gotham run for their lives. Of course, this is the Godzilla movie part, that frankly works pretty well.Image result for batman unlimited mech vs. mutantsWhat makes this Godzilla-type movie trope work really well is the cartooning and archetypes of these villains filling the Kaiju role. Batman has no choice but  to fight size with size. Batman and Green Arrow are able to pilot their own Mech suits to punish the bad guys before they have a chance to destroy Gotham’s Police Department and the rest of the city. Green Arrow is even conscious of which buildings to destroy in the process (by asking the computer which ones he owns). By placing a seed of doubt in Damian’s character early in the movie, he is able to redeem himself by playing detective himself and helping Batman problem solve. Green Arrow/Ollie Queen serves as a good uncle figure to Robin, who uses his years of experience dealing with Batman to assure Robin that he is important to the Batcave operations. Flash fulfills his normal role as comedian and lab scientist.Image result for batman unlimited mechs vs mutantsWhile not the grim and gritty, this Batman Unlimited release turns out a decent story. Of course, the allied bad guys find a way to stop getting along all together when the heroes’ strength lies in unity. While I was at first skeptical of the gigantic yellow Batsymbol on Bruce’s chest, it is growing on me, ever so slowly. Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants is fun for most ages, riding the fine line between serving the fans and serving the general audience, and selling toys.

REVIEW: GOTHAM – SEASON 2

CAST

Ben McKenzie (Batman: Year One)
Donal Logue (Ghost Rider)
David Mazouz (Mike & Molly)
Morena Baccarin (Firefly)
Zabryna Guevara (All Good Things)
Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers)
Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth)
Erin Richards (The Quiet Ones)
Camren Bicondova (Girl House)
Corey Michael Smith (Carol)
James Frain (The Cape)
Jessica Lucas (Cult)
Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave)
Nicholas D’Agasto (Final Destination 5)
Michael Chikilis (Fantastic Four)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Richard Kind (Stargate)
Clare Foley (Win Win)
Carol Kane (The Princess Bride)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Peter Scolari (The Polar Express)
Anthony Carrigan (The Flash)
Cameron Monaghan (The Giver)
Dustin Ybarra (Hop)
Drew Powell (Straw Dogs)
Maria Thayer (Hitch)
Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs)
Michelle Veintimilla (Limitless TV)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Michelle Gomez (Highlander: The Raven)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
BD Wong (Jurassic World)
Tonya Pinkins (Enchanted)
Nathan Darrow (House of Cards)
Michael Bowen (Lost)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
Paul Reubens (Batman Returns)
Ned Bellamy (Termiantor: TSCC)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral)

The origin story continues on Gotham and the stakes are higher than ever, as Super Villains more ambitious and depraved are introduced, and a shift of alliances shakes up the fight for power in Gotham City. In season two, Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and the ethically questionable veteran Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) remain at the forefront of the fight against crime in this dangerously corrupt city. While confronting Gotham’s most notorious criminals, however, Gordon’s moral compass begins to waver, but he is taken under the wing of Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis), a law-and-order zealot who is unafraid of making enemies. At the same time, Gordon continues his quest to gain the trust of the young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), who is on a clear path towards the man he is destined to become, after discovering his father’s deepest secrets, with the help of his trusted butler and mentor, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), and newfound ally at Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk).

In the epic turf war that occurred at the conclusion of season one, Oswald Cobblepot aka The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) battled his way into power over Gotham’s underworld. Heading into season two, Gotham will continue to follow the evolving stories of the city’s most malevolent villains: Edward Nygma/The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), whose transformation from Gotham PD’s forensic expert to psychologically unhinged villain continues; Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), whose hard-knock existence propels her into a life of crime; and the increasingly unstable Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), who is out for Gordon and his girlfriend, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). Also hoping to leave his mark on the city is Theo Galavan (James Frain), the billionaire industrialist, who appears to be the savior for whom Gotham has been waiting. Theo, along with his sister and lead enforcer, Tabitha Galavan aka Tigress (Jessica Lucas), keep their centuries-old vendetta hidden, as they manipulate their way to power.

Here in Season Two, there is far less dependence on self-contained episodes and more emphasis on the development of long running and serialised story arcs. In my opinion, this is better than Season One.
This remains a highly entertaining show.

REVIEW: BATMAN UNLIMITED: THE WEB SERIES

CAST

Roger Craig Smith (Avengers Assemble)
Chris Diamantopoulos (About A Boy TV)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
Charlie Schlatter (Diagnosis Murder)
Yuri Lowenthal (Legion of Super Heroes)

DC has become increasingly more successful at gearing their content towards adults. Whether it is the gritty world of The Dark Knight or the even grittier Batman parallel Arrow, it has all been for the grown ups. We ask though, what about the children? We forget that our favorite heroes are essentially adults wearing tights who admittedly don’t always have to be so dark. We were all kids at some point and were enamored with these fictional characters at one point or another. Batman Unlimited strikes that perfect balance between kid friendly yet still enjoyable to adults. Even recent animated films from DC were extra violent so getting a film that is by no means dumbed down and still fun for everyone is a breath of fresh air.

The ensemble cast chosen for this film can be considered to be a strange pairing. For the good guys, you got Batman, Red Robin, Night Wing, Flash, and Green Arrow–who, we’d like to point out, is now referred to as Arrow. Two of those characters aren’t exactly straight from the streets of Gotham. It seems that DC is trying to bring these heroes together in different yet interesting ways, maybe even attempting to match Marvel’s ability to mix it up with no one batting an eye. Another pretty obvious reason to include Flash and Arrow is they both have popular television shows currently airing. Add Batman to the mix and you have DC’s most popular characters at the moment. If there is one thing that the shows have made apparent, it is that crossing into each other’s worlds is possible and will be occurring more often. It also makes sense that Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen would be at the same social gatherings since we all know they are both rich guys. The action is there and it is good. There are motorcycle chase scenes, transformations, great fights, you name it. There is a lot of action, with very little violence. Now, that is something hard to accomplish, but necessary when trying to create a family-friendly Batman web series. Each one of our heroes has a specialty that is used in some way like Flash’s speed or Arrow’s archery skills to complete the task at hand. As he himself will let you know, Batman is Batman, so he is a badass, which is really nothing new.

This won’t be a game changer in the DC Universe canon, but it is at least a fun time for all ages.

REVIEW: LEGO: JUSTICE LEAGUE – GOTHAM CITY BREAKOUT

 

CAST

Troy Baker (Batman Unlimited 2)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Down Under)
Sarah Hyland (Satanic)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant ninja Turtles 2012)
Grey Griffin (DC Super Hero Girls)
Tom Kenny (The Batman)
Will Friedle (Batman Beyond)
John Dimaggio (Futurama)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Khary Payton (Teen Titans Go!)
Scott Menville (Despicable Me(
Hynden Walch (Groundhog Day)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Rebels)
Jason Spisal (Time Lapse)
Eric Bauza (Batman: Assault on Arkham)

Batman gives the viewer a brief reminiscent of his early days as a crime fighter, his time with Robin, how he became Nightwing and how a new Robin came to be. In the present day, Batman and Robin begin chasing after Penguin and Harley Quinn and succeed in entrapping Penguin in a magnetic cage.

After Harley and Poison Ivy are defeated, Batman leaves Robin with the defeated criminals and chases after a criminal who resembles a ninja. After cornering the criminal in an alleyway, Batman is able to deduce that the criminal is Nightwing, who used the ninja costume to try and lure Batman into a surprise birthday party, which disappoints Nightwing, along with the other attendees of Batman’s party (consisting of Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Robin, Batgirl, Beast Boy and Starfire). Batgirl, Robin and Nightwing reveal that as a present for Batman, they decided to take him on vacation. Superman is willing to serve as a temporary replacement of Batman, believing the criminals of Gotham would not be hard to defeat due to many of them lacking superpowers.

The Justice League and Teen Titans are able to convince Batman to accept the vacation and Batman, Nightwing and Batgirl leave to their holiday plans. Robin stays behind to show Superman the ropes and give him advice on Gotham’s villains. Meanwhile at Arkham Asylum, Joker uses a spoon (which he drew a face on and calls “Spoony”) to dig himself out of his cell. Elsewhere, Batman easily figures out Nightwing and Batgirl’s vacation plans for him, to take him down Memory Lane by having him visit the dojo of his former martial arts sensei Madame Mantis.

After a brief reunion battle with his former sensei, Batman discovers it was actually a disguised minion of Deathstroke. Batman, Batgirl and Nightwing then find Deathstroke and follow him into a cave. Meanwhile in Gotham, Superman finds out about Joker’s escape and ignores Robin’s warning about him. Unfortunately, this allows Joker to trick Superman into freeing Harley Quinn, Penguin, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow, from Arkham. Superman calls Cyborg in hopes of gaining assistance to stop the escaped villains. Back at the vacation site, Batman, Nightwing and Batgirl end up falling down a waterfall in the cave. During their time falling, Batman explains his past with Deathstroke, where Madame Mantis favoured a young Bruce Wayne over him.

Deathstroke ultimately dropped out due to the fact that Mantis believed Deathstroke was not ready to learn “The Forbidden Move”. At the bottom of the waterfall, Batman, Nightwing and Batgirl uncover an underground kingdom of Trogowogs (a hidden underground race of short, green humanoids which Madame Mantis did not introduce to humanity to avoid corruption). The primitive (yet optimistic, prim and proper) residents immediately attack Batman and co. and Batman ultimately surrenders to Deathstroke when the latter threatens to kill Nightwing and Batgirl.

They are then introduced to the Trogowog leader, revealed to be Bane, who gained his position with the use of a pink crystal known as the Psyche Stone. Using the Psyche Stone, Bane was able to give the Trogowogs his fury and Deathstroke’s fighting skills. All he needs to make them unstoppable is the knowledge of the Forbidden Move from Batman’s mind since Madame Mantis has to strong of a will. Back in Gotham, Superman and Cyborg are easily defeated by Poison Ivy, so Superman reluctantly summons Wonder Woman, but Poison Ivy is able to coat all three of them in her pheromones to stun them. By the time the effect wears of, they have been taken to Joker’s funhouse where all the escaped villains are present and Scarecrow is able to douse the Justice Leaguers with fear gas, making them cowardly enough for the villains to torment them long enough to put them in molten kryptonite and more pheromones to boil them into soup. Robin notices this and goes to save the League.

Back in the Trogowog kingdom, Batman, Nightwing and Batgirl are held in the dungeon, stripped of their utility belts and imprisoned with Madame Mantis and the Trogowogs’ cowardly prince Grungle (the only trogowog not to fall victim of the Psyche Stone) who reveals that the Trogowogs were once a peaceful and friendly race, until Bane found out about their kingdom and used the Psyche Stone to teach them hatred and violence. In addition, he killed Grungles father and locked away Grungle. Luckily for the prisoners, Batman stashed away a brick separator and uses it to break them free. Unfortunately, they are recaptured after Bane threatens to kill them and Batman reluctantly succumbs to the Psyche Stone’s power (while repeatedly saying “Dance”) and reveals how to use the Forbidden move, which involves harnessing one’s own chi to create a projectile of destructive power. Back in Gotham, Robin is able to save the captive Justice Leaguers and they shake of the pheromones. Robin and the Justice League then leave the amusement park, causing the villains to believe that Gotham is now defenseless and theirs for the taking. Superman apologizes for ignoring Robin’s warnings and Robin teaches the Justice League the skills they need to defeat the villains.

In the Trogowog kingdom, the trogowogs are fed with the knowledge of the Forbidden move, and Grungle is held hostage by Bane. When Deathstroke attempts to use the move to kill Batman, he immediately stops himself, believing that using it would be to easy. At that moment, Deathstroke regains his honour, helps Batman and co. to escape and allies with his former classmates against the Trogowog army. As the trogowogs are ready to kill Batman and Deathstroke, Batman utters “Batusi”, causing the trogowogs to dance uncontrollably. It turns out while Batman was under the power of the Psyche Stone, he applied a mental command in addition to the Forbidden move. At the same time, Nightwing and Batgirl arrive to free Grungle, but are pinned down by Bane’s use of a monolith.

This gives Grungle the courage to fight back against Bane and his small size allows him to avoid all attacks from Bane’s Venom-augmented physique. Freeing themselves from the monolith, Nightwing and Batgirl use the Psyche Stone to reveal Grungle’s battle with Bane to the other trogowogs. Grungle is able to defeat Bane by breaking the tubes of his Venom injector, reducing Bane to his normal form. In Gotham, one by one Scarecrow, Penguin and Poison Ivy are defeated by Robin and the Justice League and put back in Arkham Asylum. Joker and Harley Quinn have managed to tie Commissioner Gordon to the Bat-Signal until the Justice League arrive, free Commissioner Gordon and send Joker and Harley back to Arkham as well as confiscate “Spoony” so that Joker can’t dig his way out again. In the trogowog kingdom, Bane is locked in the dungeon, Grungle is made the new king and Deathstroke bids farewell to Batman (although he states that the team-up didn’t mean they were friends).

Batman, Nightwing and Batgirl use the Psyche Stone to erase the Forbidden Move from the trogowogs memories and restore them to their normal, peaceful and friendly selves. They then leave back to Gotham and say their goodbyes. Back in the Batcave, The Justice League and Teen Titans discuss not to mention any of the events that happened while Batman was gone, but when Batman, Batgirl and Nightwing do return, Superman confesses. To his surprise, Batman actually congratulates him, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Robin for putting them back in Arkham. The Justice League and Teen Titans then continue their party.

Fantastic. Very funny and entertaining. This is Bat-centric and features all the Bat family -Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl. Kids and adults will love it.

REVIEW: BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM

 

CAST

Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Matthew Gray Gubler (Excision)
Troy Baker (Ultimate Spider-Man)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Greg Ellis (Dexter)
Giancarlo Esposito (Alex Cross)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Jennifer Hale (Batman Beyond)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant NInja Turtles 2012)
Eric Bauza (Justice League: Gods and Monsters)
Chris Cox (Family Guy)

Assault on Arkham actually takes place a few years before the events of Arkham Asylum, making it a prequel with loose, flexible ties to the games’ Batman mythology. Unsurprisingly, there isn’t a whole lot more to the premise beyond what’s covered in the title: after a black-ops attempt to apprehend The Riddler (Matthew Gray Gubler) goes sideways thanks to the Dark Knight’s (Kevin Conroy) nobler intervention, bigwig government agent Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder) — “The Wall” — assembles a crew of imprisoned villains to covertly raid his new place of residence, Arkham Asylum, to recover a sensitive device that was in his possession. Veterans to Waller’s “Task Force X” (both in-universe and on a meta level) including Deadshot (Neal McDonough), a Joker-less Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch), and Captain Boomerang (Greg Ellis) are brought together with newbies — Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito), Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale), King Shark (John DiMaggio), and KGBeast (Nolan North) — for a calculated strike involving sleight of hand and usage of their individual strengths, all while evading Batman’s grasp both off and on the grounds.

Assault on Arkham soars past several of their recent offerings with its presentation of the villains and an unabashed, darkly-humorous attitude. Mostly, it’s because the concept doesn’t intrude on the characters’ varied demeanors: there’s plenty of breathing room for the loose-cannon leadership of Neal McDonough’s excellent Deadshot and the supercharged quirk of Hynden Walch’s jilted Harley Quinn, as well as Captain Boomerang’s roguish gristle and the unlikely bond between King Shark (basically a cross between Bane and Croc) and the saucy Killer Frost. Allegiances fluctuate within the group amid the moving parts of Waller’s plan, and the erratic rapport between their allowable one-note personas spices up the simplicity of casing Arkham.

 

REVIEW: LEGO – JUSTICE LEAGUE: ATTACK OF THE LEGION OF THE DOOM

CAST (VOICES)

Troy Baker (The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Grey DeLisle (Batman Beyond)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Tom Kenny (The Batman)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Kahry Payton (Teen Titans)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Cree Summer (Freakazoid)

Crime is on the run as the newly formed Justice League keeps Metropolis safe and this makes evil genius Lex Luthor very unhappy. Together with Black Manta, Sinestro and a gang of ruthless recruits, Lex builds his own league and declares them the Legion of Doom. With this super powered team of terror and a plan to attack the top-secret government site, Area 52, can Lex finally be on the verge of victory? Sound the “Trouble Alert” and get ready for the bricks to fly when Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League face off against the world’s greatest Super-Villains!

A great film. carrying on were Lego Justice League: Bizarro World left off we see the first union of the baddies in the Lego universe. Although the Bizarro World film was good, it wasn’t fantastic. This time however Lego hits the nail on the head with plenty of laugh out loud moments, an entertaining and gripping storyline that’s easily graspable for its target audience, a fantastic cast of voice actors including the legendary Mark Hamill and to top it all off a really cool mini figure of the Trickster (Just need the rest of the Rogues to be released now).


Theres loads of potential in this Lego DC Universe and plenty to develop on and to introduce new and exciting ideas. Fun for all the family, adults and kids alike will find entertainment in the Justice Leagues first show down with the Legion of Doom and be left hungry for the next installment.