REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT

CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Ted)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Josh Duhamel (Win A Date With Tad Hamilton)
Laura Haddock (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2)
Santiago Cabrera (Heores)
Isabela Moner (Splitting Adam)
John Turturro (Barton Fink)
Jerrod Carmichael (Bad Neighbors)
Glenn Morshower(24)
Stanley Tucci (Easy A)
Liam Garrigan (The Legend of Hercules)
Mitch Pileggi (Stargate Atlantis)
Nicola Peltz (Bates Motel)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
Peter Cullen (Dugeons and Dragons)
Erik Aadahl (Godzilla)
Ken Watanabe (Inception)
John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Jim Carter  (The Golden Compass)
Omar Sy (Jurassic World)
John Dimaggio (Futurama)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Tom Kenny (Superhero Squad Show)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Gemma Chan (Fantastic Beasts and Where Find Them)

In 484 AD, King Arthur’s wizard Merlin forges an alliance with the Knights of Iacon, a group of twelve Transformers who have hidden on Earth. The Knights give Merlin an alien staff, and fuse into Dragonstorm to help Arthur triumph over the Saxons.In the present day, most of the governments on Earth have declared Transformers outlawed, and the multinational Transformer Reaction Force (TRF) has been formed to destroy the alien robots. Despite the absence of Optimus Prime, who left the planet to search for his creator, new Transformers continue to arrive regularly; the newest ship to arrive crash-lands in the half of the ruins of Chicago, where it is found by a group of children. When a TRF mecha confronts the kids, they are saved by Izabella, a survivor of the Battle of Chicago and her Transformer companions Sqweeks and Canopy, but Canopy is killed by the TRF in the process. Bumblebee and Cade Yeager arrive and help them escape, but Yeager is unable to save the Transformer in the ship. Before he dies, the knightly robot attaches a metallic talisman to Yeager’s body—an act observed by Decepticon scout Barricade, who reports this to his leader, Megatron.On the far reaches of the Solar System, Optimus discovers that the Transformers’ homeworld, Cybertron, now disassembled into pieces, is heading directly for Earth. He finds the being in control of Cybertron’s movement, the sorceress Quintessa, who professes to be the maker he is searching for. The staff which the Knights gave to Merlin was stolen by Quintessa, and using her powers, she places Optimus under her control, dubs him “Nemesis Prime” and charges him with recovering it. Earth, she reveals, is actually Cybertron’s “ancient enemy” Unicron and she intends to drain his life force so that Cybertron can be restored.TRF member and former Autobot ally William Lennox brokers a deal between the TRF and Megatron, releasing from their custody a squad of Decepticons that will help Megatron recover the talisman from Cade. The Decepticons hunt Yeager down, following him to his junkyard hideout in South Dakota, where he and many of the surviving Transformers are holed up. During the chaos of the ensuing battle, Yeager is approached by Cogman, a Transformer envoy of British Lord Sir Edmund Burton, who takes him and Bumblebee to England to meet his master. There, Burton arranges a meeting between Yeager and Viviane Wembly, an Oxford professor. Wembly has just been kidnapped by the Autobot Hot Rod, using his long-term disguise as her Citroën DS. Burton explains that he is the last living member of the “Witwiccan” order, an ancient brotherhood dedicated to guarding the secret history of Transformers on Earth. He also reveals that Wembly is the last descendant of Merlin, and that she must find and use his Staff to prevent the impending destruction of Earth by Cybertron.Fleeing the TRF, Yeager and Wembly follow clues left by the latter’s father that lead them, Bumblebee, and Cogman to take the submarine HMS Alliance into the sea to find the Cybertronian Knights’ sunken ship, in which they discover the tomb of Merlin and the staff. Wembly activates the staff, and the ship rises to the surface; the TRF arrives to confront the group, but several Knights awaken and attack them. The attack is cut short by the arrival of the mind-controlled Optimus, and a battle between Optimus and Bumblebee ensues. At its peak, the normally-mute Bumblebee finally speaks, the sound of his voice proving enough to shock Optimus free of Quintessa’s control. Taking advantage, Megatron, who is revealed to be conspiring for Quintessa all along, arrives and steals the staff. As he flees with it, the Knights attack Optimus. However, Yeager, whose talisman becomes the sword Excalibur, stops the fight. Realizing that he is the last Knight, the Knights yield to Yeager, who urges Optimus to protect the Earth once more.Megatron delivers the staff to Quintessa, who begins draining the life force of Earth/Unicron via Stonehenge. When the military intervenes, Megatron shoots Burton, who dies with Cogman at his side. Using a ship procured by the Autobot Daytrader, the Autobots arrive to join the fight, landing on Cybertron and battling against the Decepticons and Quintessa’s Infernocons. Optimus and his Autobots, backed up by the Knights as Dragonstorm, vanquish their foes. Optimus defeats Megatron, while Bumblebee shoots and apparently kills Quintessa. Wembly removes the staff, stopping Cybertron’s destruction of Earth, but leaving the two planets connected. Optimus declares that humans and Transformers must work together to rebuild their worlds, and sends a message calling any surviving Autobots to come home.In a mid-credits scene, scientists inspect one of the horns of Unicron, which is extending out of the desert. Quintessa, who has survived and is disguised as a human, arrives and offers them a way to destroy Unicron.The transformers movies are known for being hated. Me I personally think these movies are just fun. That’s why we watch them, not for an outstanding Oscar worthy film. I know I am in the minority that I love Age of extinction. So I was pretty excited to see this film. The Last Knight is probably the best since the first!

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REVIEW: VISIONARIES: KNIGHTS OF THE MAGICAL LIGHT

CAST (VOICES)

Peter Cullen (Transformers)
Jim Cummings (Shrek)
Susan Blu (Cars)
Roscoe Lee Browne (Babe)
Jennifer Darling (Aladdin)
Jonathan Harris (Lost In Space)
Michael McConnohie (Akira)
Neil Ross (Centurions)
Malachi Throne (Catch Me if You Can)
Beau Weaver (The Substitute)

The story is set on the planet Prysmos, an advanced society where all electronics have failed and the people are forced to rely on the old magics. The Visionaries consist of two groups of knights — the Spectral Knights and the Darkling Lords. Everyone who wishes to gain magic is invited to a competition by the wizard, Merklynn. After surviving traps, dangerous creatures, and each other, survivors on both sides are rewarded. The front plate of their armor is embedded with unique animal totems, which they can turn into. The animals were selected by Merklynn based on their personalities or abilities they exhibited during the competition.

Knights that had staffs were told to dip them into an energy well, enchanting them with various magic; its power activated by the holder reciting a special verse. Any staff-wielding knight can activate any staff, as long as he casts the spell properly. In one episode, Darkstorm made use of Leoric’s staff, while in another, Cryotek used three different power staffs; his own, and those of Witterquick and Cindarr. In the comics, the staffs could be used as many times as needed, without any need to recharge them, but in the cartoon, only one use was permitted before they needed to return to Iron Mountain to recharge them – which caused a lot of tension, particularly on the part of Darkstorm.The knights without, on the other hand, could not use staffs but can infuse vehicles with magical powers, such as the magical dungeon of the Darkling Lords’ Dagger Assault. There is no limit on vehicle usage, unlike the power staffs. Also, the spells given for the vehicles on the boxes of the toys were never used in either the comics or the series. In the comics, the female knights had shields which worked the same way as the staffs, but in the TV series they did not, and in “The Power Of The Wise”, Virulina was seen piloting the Sky Claw. Galadria was also seen in “Horn Of Unicorn, Claw Of Dragon” doing some repair/maintenance work on the Capture Chariot. Any vehicle-driving knight can drive any vehicle, and both Feryl and Ectar have been seen operating the Dagger Assault. When the Darkling Lords first discovered the vehicles, Darkstorm wanted the honour of piloting the Sky Claw himself, but it didn’t work; he explained “the engine works but the magic avoids me!” Reekon’s response was, “it appears that any Visionary can pilot a vehicle, but Mortdred and I are your only knights who can breathe magic into the metal.” In the case of the Dagger Assault, driven by Reekon, things are more confusing, as in some episodes it is not clear who is driving, or, if it is indeed Reekon, where he is driving it from. Normally, he drives it from one of the two frontal compartments, but in “Feryl Steps Out”, he is in the Dagger Dart while Darkstorm and Virulina are in the frontal compartments, and stranger still is “The Power Of The Wise” in which Darkstorm and Cravex are in those two sections while it is Lexor in the Dagger Dart.

This will bring back many memories if you caught the series on the first run and the fact that the series got a DVD release is an absolute revelation, this will be a fine box set in anyones collection and will remind people that they simply do not make cartoons like this anymore. Childrens entertainment today simply pales in comparison.

REVIEW: DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS (1983)

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CAST (VOICES)
Willie Aames (Adam-12)
Don Most (Happy Days)
Tonia Gayle Smith(The Faqcts of Life)
Adam Rich (Eigh Is eniugh)
Katie Leigh (Rugrats)
Frank welker (Transformers)
Sidney Miller (Little nemo)
Peter Cullen (Transformers)
Bob Holt (Gremlins)
The show focuses on a group of friends who are sucked into the “Realm of Dungeons & Dragons” by taking a magical dark ride on an amusement park roller coaster. Upon arriving in the realm they meet Dungeon Master (named for the referee in the role-playing game) who gives each child a magical item.
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The children’s main goal is to find a way home, but they often take detours to help people, or find that their fates are intertwined with that of others. The group come across many different enemies, but their primary antagonist is Venger. Venger is a powerful wizard who wishes to rule the realm and believes the power from the children’s weapons will help him to do so. Another recurring villain is Tiamat, who is a five-headed dragon and the only creature Venger fears.
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Throughout the show, a connection is suggested between Dungeon Master and Venger. The final un-produced episode “Requiem” would have confirmed that Venger is the Dungeon Master’s corrupted son (making Kareena, Venger’s sister DM’s daughter), redeemed Venger (giving those trapped in this Realm their freedom), and ended on a cliffhanger where the six children could finally return home or deal with evil that still existed in the Realm.
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Yes there is no introductory episode and yes there is no final episode (because it was never commissioned as explained in the box set. But it’s a magical cartoon series that brings back your childhood memories. Interestingly some of the stories lines are not what I would expect from a cartoon series from the eighties i.e. some quite dark story lines that I appreciate now but don’t remember back then.

REVIEW: PLASTIC MAN (1979)


MAIN CAST

Michael Bell  (Transformers)
Susan Blu (Ducktales)
Melendy Britt (She-Ra)
Peter Cullen (Transformners)
Jerry Dexter(The Jetsons)
Frank Welker (Scooby-Doo)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Alan Oppenheimer (Freaky Friday)

A long time ago the voice over guy used to say this to open the episodes: “From out of the pages of DC Comics comes the world’s newest and greatest super-hero: Plastic Man! He can spring. He can stretch. He can fly. He can bounce. He can change his shape. And… he can even dance…”

Because of that sense of silly so inherent in Plastic Man, not many people realize just how friggin’ powerful the guy is. He’s just about invulnerable and his ridiculously malleable rubbery form can shape shift into anything. That is serious, serious mojo. Imagine if petty crook “Eel” O’Brien hadn’t decided to switch sides and become a crimefighter? The Elongated Man and Mr. Fantastic have got nothing, compared to Plastic Man’s tool box. Really, other than the most powerful of supers and supernaturals out there, who can take Plas down?

Of course, creator Jack Cole set the tone from jump, establishing Plastic Man as a humorous character, and this perfectly transitioned him into Saturday morning cartoons.  His world was topsy-turvied some to make him even more accessible to kids. Plastic Man, in his cartoon, is a fully deputized government agent, receiving his assignments from the smoking hot Chief. He flies around in a plane that resembles his costume. Plas also has his two friends to help him/get underfoot in his various missions. Southern blonde bombshell Penny has a thing for Plas (although, early on, Plas seems oblivious to this). Penny is there probably mostly to offset certain assumptions I mean, our guy strolls around in a red leotard, know what I mean? But Plas and Penny eventually do get married and have a kid, Baby Plas. Meanwhile, his sad sack Polynesian sidekick, Hula-Hula, sounds and acts and even kinda looks likes Lou Costello. Hula-Hula was one of the minorities the show had to choose from the network’s list. Else, we maybe would’ve seen Plas’s long-time comic book pal, Woozy Winks.
Plastic Man: The Complete Collection  has the entire 35 episodes on 4 discs and with the following bonus material: “PLAS-tastic: A Brief History of Plastic Man” is a retrospective exploring the backstory of Plastic Man from his comic book origins to his move from Quality Comics to DC and his various incarnations on television (00:14:07); and “Puddle Trouble,” the unaired pilot episode commissioned in 2006 for a new Plastic Man animated series that never materialized (00:10:06). The only downside to this release is that you don’t get the other segments shown along with Platis Man. Even without these it is still a fun show.

REVIEW: RUBY SPEARS SUPERMAN

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Beau Weaver (Transformers)
Ginny McSwain (Scooby Goes to Hollywood)
Mark L. Taylor (The Mask: TAS)
Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
Michael Bell (Rugrats)
Alan Oppenheimer (Westworld)
Stanley Ralph Ross (Helter Skelter)
Lynne Marie Stewart (Bridesmaids)


RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jack Angel (A.I.)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Peter Cullen (Transformers)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Mary McDonald-Lewis (Deep Dark)

In my mind, this remains one of the very best depictions of Superman on TV, as well as one of the most faithful to a particular comics period.
This series paid homage to both the Superman films of the ’70s/’80s and the Superman comics series “reboot” of 1986-onward (“Man of Steel,” “Superman Vol 2,” “Action Comics,” “Adventures of Superman,” etc). The opening score and titles were stirring, based on the John Williams score from the films, updated for a Saturday morning action series. Marv Wolfman, one of the main contributors to the comics reboot (writer of “Adventures of Superman”) was a perfect choice to be involved in this animated series. Overall, the series had a more mature feel while continuing to be very kid-friendly.

Superman was presented as believable, strong, and iconic. His recurring nemesis was Lex Luthor in his megalomaniac/CEO incarnation. The Daily Planet characters Lois, Jimmy, and Perry were portrayed well. One of my favorite appearances was by Wonder Woman, and the story revolved around her home island of Themyscira (“Paradise Island”). Both her design and that of her mother Hippolyte were in keeping with the similarly rebooted Wonder Woman comic book series of the era, and it seemed like an equally well-done animated series could have been developed for her if handled the same.A must have for any Superman/DC fan.

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS – SEASON 1-3

 

CAST (VOICES)

Dan Gilvezan (Transformers)
Kathy Garver (Family Affair)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Dick Tufeld (Lost In Space)
June Foray (Mulan)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Rino Roamno (The Batman)
Alan Young (The Time Machine)
Michael Ansara (Batman: TAS)
Michael Bell (Rugrats)
Peter Cullen (Transformers)

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Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar are fighting crime and protecting the world from villains. As Peter Parker, Bobby Drake, and Angelica Jones, the three heroes are not only teammates, but roommates and friends. As they try to keep Aunt May and Angelica’s dog Ms. Lion in the dark, the Spider-Friends battle enemies from Doctor Octopus and Doctor Doom to Green Goblin and the Red Skull. Fortunately, the Spider-Man, Firestar, and Iceman have allies in Captain America, the X-Men, and other heroes…saving the world is a hard job!

Image result for SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDSSpider-Man and His Amazing Friends ran for three seasons on NBC from September 12, 1981 to September 10, 1983. The series was produced by Marvel Productions and aired with The Incredible Hulk cartoon starting with the second season. Saturday mornings was ruled by the Super Friends. DC Comics had gotten the jump on the super team show and Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Wonder Twins were already well established when Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends premiered. Despite that,

The series was cheap. There are episodes where there are out and out mistakes (my favorite is “The Origin of Iceman” where a flashback of Iceman’s time with the original X-Men accidentally features two Cyclops in a group shot). You get lots of coloring errors and animation that changes. In addition to that, there are inconsistencies and things like just unknowns about the series…like Wolverine having an Australian accent instead of a Canadian (which would have been a lot easier for Hugh Jackman). It even stole character designs like for Cyberiad in “The X-Men Adventure” who was a complete copy of Legion of Super-Heroes’ Fatal Five enemy Tharok. Surprisingly, the show is loaded with cameos. Characters like  Matt Murdock, Captain America, Iron Man, and others make cameos throughout the series and the series helped introduce the X-Men to a larger audience.

I would say that the best addition to the Marvel Universe from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends is easily Firestar. Firestar was meant to be the Human Torch who was tied up in legal tape. Firestar was created for the show to look like Mary Jane Watson, but ended up being retconned into the Marvel Universe in Uncanny X-Men #193 (May 1985). I love Firestar and she’s one of the few characters who really transitioned well from “made-for-TV” to comic. pider-Man and His Amazing Friends is a fun series…if you grew up with it. The cheapness of the series probably won’t impress younger viewers, but as a fan from childhood, it is great to revisit the show.

REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1987) – SEASON 1-2

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MAIN CAST

Cam Clarke (He-Man 2002)
Barry Gordon (Fish)
Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs)
Townsend Coleman (The Tick)
Pat Fraley (Monsters, Inc.)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Renae Jacobs (Rose petal Place)
Peter Renaday (General Hospital)
Jennifer Darling (Aladdin)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
Peter Cullen (Transformers)
Jack Angel (A.I.)

If you were alive at any time between 1987 and now, chances are you’ve heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Even before that, the popular characters starred in their own comic book series created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Essentially, it was a kitchen table project; two independent creators having fun, unaware that their creations would grow beyond their wildest dreams. Spawning an endless supply of merchandise, a video game series and several feature films, the TMNT was one of the most successful franchises of the late 80s-early 90s. It’s still going fairly strong today.

Of course, the most well-known adaptation of the Ninja Turtles’ adventures came in the form of their first animated series. Premiering in December of 1987, it was quite a success: it became one of the longest-running kids’ shows in television history, clocking in at nearly 200 episodes over a span of 10 seasons. Sure, each passing year saw the show get a little more ridiculous—eventually causing the show to collapse under its own weight—but the first few years were chock full of classic moments.

This first season (which only includes five episodes that aired during one week) was one of my first vivid memories of 80s pop culture. What made this show so popular were the main characters, who need no introduction but are getting one anyway. Named after four Renaissance-era painters, they are as follows: Leonardo (the sword-wielding leader of the group), Donatello (the tech wizard and all-around geek), Raphael (undisputed master of sarcasm), and Michelangelo (cowabunga, nunchakus, and all that). Master Splinter is their mentor and father figure, cursed to live life as a rat-like human ever since falling victim to the same mutation as his four students. Also on their side is April O’Neil, a local reporter whose journalistic connections prove to be invaluable…if only to help the public see them as the good guys. In later episodes, there would be many more characters that would assist the Turtles, but these are the core heroes of the story for now.

Of course, what successful show would be complete without a line-up of interesting villains? At the heart of the bad guys is Shredder, who remained a fierce adversary of Master Splinter while he was still human. Shredder’s boss, Krang, is a hideous pink brain-like creature from Dimension X, and eventually gets a robotic body so he can run around and cause more trouble. There’s also two goofball henchmen named Rocksteady and Bebop (two street thugs mutated into rhinoceros and warthog-like creatures), as well as an endless supply of robotic Foot Soldiers. Once again, there would be many more adversaries for the Turtles to face, but these are the central baddies.

Season two’s thirteen episodes are lighter in tone and far less violent; the show went international that year, changing from ninja turtles to hero turtles in England, where words like ninja are unaccountably banned from children’s television. A lot of new characters are introduced, such as Irma and Tiffany, the new girlfriend of April O’Neil’s boss Burnes. New monster characters, like a human fly version of Baxter Stockman and a mutated amphibian named Napoleon Bonafrog, appeared first as toys.

The second season arc starts with Krang dispatching Shredder to eliminate the turtles alone. Aliens set him in search of the Eye of Sarnoth, a three-piece crystal that provided the source of several shows’ worth of monsters – rampaging machines, overgrown vines, etc. They shrink the turtles down to a tiny size as well.

The shows do takeoffs on science fiction movies and play with a variety of fresh ideas within the concept. Splinter becomes Hamato Yoshi again in one episode. Giant meatball monsters resemble the frightening creature from the Alien movies, and Shredder’s nerdy henchman Baxter Stockman is reconfigured by one of Krang’s molecular force fields into a lookalike of the original 1958 The Fly.

When the writers borrow, they do a reasonable job of it. In one episode Shredder uses a Pizza bake-off to trap the turtles in the same way that Prince John used an archery tournament to catch Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood. The beginning of one episode will now have a different feeling – Shredder tests a new weapon atop the World Trade Center. Finally, the densely plotted final episode has Krang return with the Technodrome through a giant portal at Niagara Falls, while the turtles scramble once again to save the world.

It was a nice show on the road toward more involving entertainment.