REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 1

Starring

Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives)
David Kaufman (Stargate SG.1)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tony Jay (Beauty and The Best)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Christopher McDonald (Stargate Universe)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Finola Hughes (Staying Alive)
Corey Burton (Transformers: The Movie)
Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
George Dzundza (The Deer Hunter)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Dorian Harewood (Terminator: TSCC)
Brad Garrett (Christopher Robin)
Bruce Weitz (Half Past Dead)
John Rubinstein (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Thomas F. Wilson (Legends of Tomorrow)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Jeff Bennett (Enchanted)
Neil Ross (An American Tail)
Townsend Coleman (Teenage Mutnat Ninja Turtles)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Joely Fisher (The Mask)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Joseph Bologna (Big Daddy)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Brian Cox (Rise of TPOTA)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Ron Glass (Serenity)
Leslie Easterbrook (Police Academy)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Marion Ross (Happy Days)
Charlie Schlatter (18 Again)
Cam Clarke (Akira)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)

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Superman is not Batman. Luckily this show understands that. He doesn’t hide in the shadows or do most of his work at night or spend a lot of time “planning.” Instead of deflecting a laser beam, he’ll just punch it into submission. Think, for a second, of what it takes to punch a laser beam into submission. He’s not, and never has been, a complicated hero. Any fan can tell you this: just because Superman lives in a bright world and just because he is a “pure” character, it does not make him any less cool. I feel the need to get that out of the way right off. It just seems that too many people aren’t as fond of ol’ Big Blue as they are of Batman. The number one complaint is that Superman is just too perfect; there isn’t anything interesting that can be done with him.MV5BYjNmYjc0MGQtNWVlYS00MWEzLWE1NjQtMjcyYjc3OTBmOGQ0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTM5MTQyNDg@._V1_In many ways, that is very true. Yes, it is difficult coming up with interesting ways to test a guy who can whack ballistic missiles into orbit, but that is not an inherent character weakness. Rather, it is a challenge of taking on the character. Under the right creator, or creators as the case may be, Superman is more than ready to soar… and then punch some laser beams. And what better creative team can you get than Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, and Bruce Timm? The same superstar team that made Batman: The Animated Series one of the best and most defining shows in the history of American cartoon television. With such a fantastic group, and such a well-known character, expectations are bound to be high, and you can’t help but feel a bit let down when the show isn’t as good as Batman: TAS. However, while Superman: The Animated Series isn’t as excellent as its predecessor show, it’s still one very enjoyable and very fun cartoon.MV5BMTcxMDExMTI5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTkyNzU2MjE@._V1_Whereas for the Batman cartoon the producers were going for a gritty feel, here things are big, colorful, and imaginative. Superman fights robots, aliens and sci-fi monsters. And just as you’d expect, that dastardly Lex Luthor is usually at the root of the problem. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Superman isn’t supposed to be conflicted and his villains aren’t supposed to be psychopaths. With the Man of Steel, it’s all about fighting for what’s right. And then punching the occasional laser beam, when it gets out of line. One of the best things about the show is its use of the Superman lore. Over the course of the series you’ll see many of the characters from character’s comic book history. If you’re meeting them for the first time, you’ll probably find them interesting, but if you’re already familiar with them then you’ve got a lot of opportunities to geek out.MV5BNTVlYWUzOTctZTNiYy00NjI0LTkzZjktMzE0NmRkMWM1NDcyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTM3MDMyMDQ@._V1_The creative team did take some liberties with the origins of certain characters, but none of the changes are overly intrusive or unwelcome. Furthermore when they get a character right, they really nail it. For example their take on Metallo, who realizes he traded immortality for the ability to feel, is great stuff. Perhaps their most difficult task was getting Lex Luthor right. Luckily for us, they pulled it off. This Lex is a perfect mix of ambitious businessman and cunning strategist. He isn’t flat out evil, but he is bad and watching the character get what he deserves is fun. The Lois Lane character is also great, a perfect mix of sexy, competitive, and charming. Much like the Batman collections, Superman: TAS isn’t grouped by season since they were all so unevenly produced. That being said, I do hope that we get the rest of the boxed sets in installments of more than eighteen episodes.MV5BMTQ5Mjk0NjQyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTUyNzU2MjE@._V1_While it’s not as serious or as artistic as its predecessor, Superman: TAS is still full of high-flying fun, adventure, and excitement. Whether you’re a fan of animation or just a fan of the character, this show comes recommended. It holds a proud position in the wonderful Warner superhero animated era that we’re currently enjoying.

 

 

REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – SEASON 1

CAST

Clark Gregg (When A Stranger Calls)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe)
Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Ian De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

J. August Richards (Angel)
Shannon Lucio (The O.C)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Sarah Dumont (Don Jon)
Leonor Varela (Blade II)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight)
David Conrad (Roswell)
Ian Hart (Harry Potter)
Ruth Negga (World War Z)
Louis Ozawa Changchien (The Bourne Legacy)
Cullen Douglas (Pure Genius)
Vincent Laresca (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Titus Welliver (The Town)
Maximiliano Hernández (Ringer)
Ilia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Saffron Burrows (Deep Blue Sea)
Charles Halford (Constantine)
Peter MacNicol (24)
Erin Way (Colony)
Robert Baker (Supergirl)
Laura Seay (Superbad)
Maximilian Osinski (In Time)
Aiden Turner (All My Children)
Dylan Minnette (13 Reasons Why)
Daniel Zovatto (Don’t Breathe)
Christine Adams (BLack Lightning)
Maiara Walsh (The Vampire Diaries)
Carlo Rota (Saw V)
Stan Lee (Super Hero Squad)
Elena Satine (The Gifted)
Bill Paxton (Aliens)
Robert Belushi (How I Met Your Mother)
B.J. Britt (One Tree Hill)
Jaimie Alexander (Thor)
Dylan Bruno (Taken 3)
Brad Dourif (Cult of CHucky)
Adrian Pasdar (Heores)
Patton Oswalt (Young Adult)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Glenn Morshower (Transformers)

Ming-Na Wen, Clark Gregg, Iain De Caestecker, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, and Elizabeth Henstridge in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)When Marvel’s cinematic universe first took off, the next move was to make the leap to television, Marvel turned to Avengers director Joss Whedon’s brother Jed and his wife/collaborator Maurissa Tancharoen, who took the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One character Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), the man who helped gather the heroes who became the Avengers, and made him the star of his own series, focused on his team at S.H.I.E.L.D., the international peacekeeping organization run by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson.) The hour-long drama would build off of the well-known heroics, and tell connected tales of espionage, as Coulson and his squad respond to threats to humanity around the world.Now, in case you haven’t seen The Avengers, you should know that in a climactic battle, Coulson was very badly injured, which became a rallying point for the heroes. Well, he’s back, but how he made it back is a large part of the series’ foundation, which is revealed in piecemeal over the course of the first season. Coulson’s search for the truth is intertwined with the arrival of the newest member of his team, a hacker known as Skye (Chloe Bennett), who has plenty of secrets of her own, in part due to her past as a rogue “hacktivist.” Trust is a massive theme in the series, as no one is sure about anyone else but they have to rely on each other if they are going to complete their missions, which remind one of Fringe in a big way, as the team investigates strange phenomena in order to keep humanity safe.Lorelei, Though certainly not a big-name Marvel character (her sister The Enchantress has a much higher profile) and not the first recognizable super-powered character on the show (that would be the cybernetic assassin Deathlok, whose origin is revealed over the course of the season), Lorelei tips the scales with her appearance because she, as an Asgardian, creates a direct link to the world of Thor, and also because she’s followed to Earth by Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), the Asgardian warrior from the two Thor films. Finally, fans exclaimed, there’s some honest to goodness superhero action to be enjoyed, and that was followed by direct ties into the new Captain America movie, picking up the plot from the theaters and bringing its effects home. This was the crossover dream that comics mastered decades ago, and now Marvel was making happen between movies and TV (and you didn’t really even need to see both sides to enjoy them separately.)After offering this cookie to the fans, the series shifted back to the spy game though, where it would stay for the rest of the season, introducing Bill Paxton and Saffron Burrows in major roles) as Coulson’s organization crumbled around him and the team shifted from saving the world to saving each other. Coulson’s team, which, aside from Skye, includes Ward (Brett Dalton), a perfect soldier; badass pilot May (Ming-Na Wen) and science specialists Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), comes together quickly as a unit on the series, establishing their personalities right off the bat, with Skye serving as the show’s young star, showing the old guard how a new generation does the job (though still requiring saving and offering a hearty cry every now and then) and Fitz and Simmons serving as the audience’s tech-loving stand-ins, the most down-to-earth parts of a fantastical realm. May though, with her economy of words and excess of butt-kicking skill, is the “Wolverine” of the show, and her relationship with Coulson serves as a backbone for the series. Naturally, Gregg’s performance is integral to the show, and he continues to shine in the role of Coulson, giving us a smartass secret agent for the ages.While the show is a serial and does well at telling action-adventure arcs of mystery and intrigue, building the mythology and establishing a larger storyline, it could do one-offs as well, including two of the season’s best episodes, “FZZT” which ties into The Avengers while telling a standalone story that put a spotlight on Fitz and Simmons, and “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, which puts the team on a train and tries out some interesting storytelling structure. The show also has its humorous side, taking its tone from the Marvel films, which blend grits with grins (and though Patton Oswalt gets a featured role in one episode, for once, he’s not responsible for the laughs.) For the most part, this mix works well, as it helps illustrate the growing camaraderie between the teammates and keeps the tone light, but it can get out of hand very quickly. The final episode, where much of what’s been revealed over the course of the previous 21 episodes comes to a head, the lightheartedness (thanks to an appearance by a famous friend of the team) goes over the top.

REVIEW: SERENITY

CAST

Nathan Fillion (Slither)
Gina Torres (Angel)
Alan Tudyk (I Robot)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Jewel Staite (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ron Glass (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Sean Maher (Arrow)
Summer Glau (Arrow)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (The Martian)
David Krumholtz (Hail, Caesar!)
Sarah Paulson (What Women Want)
Tamara Taylor (Bones)
Glenn Howerton (The Strangers)

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“I’m not going to say it’s the best science fiction movie, ever. Oh wait, yes I am”. The words of Orson Scott Card himself, author of the award winning scifi novel “Ender’s game”, and many others.


Not only is this a very fine movie, made on a fraction of the budget of any other scifi film I can think of, it also captivates those who have previously had no interest in science fiction before. Which is far more than I can say about almost any SciFi movie I can think of, the only other being Ridley Scotts 80’s classic Bladerunner.

Even if you’ve never seen Joss Whedon’s critically acclaimed series “Firefly”, less than a quater of the way through this movie you’ll suddenly realize, I care about these people, I care about what happens to them, so rich are their characters. They have flaws & insecurities just like we all do.


You can do alot more in a 15 Episode TV series regarding character development than you can in a 2 hr movie, so the focus here is mostly on 2 main characters. The captain of the cargo ship Serenity, ‘Malcolm Reynolds’, and ‘River’, the extremely intelligent but mentally traumatized teenage sister of Dr Simon Tam who Reynolds agreed to give sanctuary aboard his ship some eight months or so earlier. Having said that though, all the characters are here, and they all do a fine job. The script is very witty, clever and often very powerful.


The soundtrack in Serenity quite wondrous in it’s self, with beautiful melancholic strings, echoing piano, and western and oriental influences. They work perfectly with Whedon’s stunning camera work and lighting. There are special effects in this movie a’ plenty, and they look fantastic, in fact they completely belie the fact that this film cost less than $40m to make. They really are quite beautiful but they are there to further a strong story, not to overcome it.


So emotionally powerful is this film that it has been described as ‘art’, and I really do think that it is, but will everybody like it? In the words of O.S.Card, “Not a chance…… it really is too strong for some people. Plus the story line is ‘smart enough’ and ‘mature’ enough that some people just won’t get it. Can’t be helped”. Serenity was indeed voted film of the year 2005, did it deserve the top spot? Possibly not, but it did deserve to be very close to it. It was certainly the “only” Scifi based movie that deserved to be anywhere near the top ten movies of 2005.


Serenity is a very unusual film, a tiny film that went by almost unnoticed and was a difficult film to market. There are no big names in the cast, and it is based on a short lived TV series that sadly too few know about. So when you see it for the 1st time, nay, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time and so on, you’ll feel privileged that you did..

REVIEW: FIREFLY

MAIN CAST

Nathan Fillion (Slither)
Gina Torres (Angel)
Alan Tudyk (I Robot)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Jewel Staite (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ron Glass (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Sean Maher (Arrow)
Summer Glau (Arrow)
Adam Baldwin in Firefly (2002)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Andrew Bryniarski (Batman Returns)
Gregg Henry (Payback)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Doug Savant (Desperate Housewives)
Christina Hendricks (Drive)
Gregory Itzin (The IDes of March)
Kevin Gage (May)
Zachary Kranzler (Playing Mona Lisa)
ILia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Mark Sheppard (Dollhouse)
Larry Drake (Darkman)
Edward Atterton (Alias)
Zac Efron (Bad Neighbours)
Michael Fairman (Dead Silence)
Richard Brooks (The Hidden)
Carlos Jacott (Big Love)

Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, and Alan Tudyk in Firefly (2002)I could watch Firefly every year for the rest of my life and not get bored with it. IHow does one get tired of well-written characters and entertaining dialogue?Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, and Gina Torres in Firefly (2002)Firefly aired, on Fox, for part of the 2002-03 season. The powers that be at Fox were crack-smoking morons and did their best to make sure nobody saw the series. They aired the episodes out of order and often skipped a week or two, with something else in its place. It worked because the show was soon canceled.

While the series is set in the year 2517, and much takes place on a spaceship, it is really a western at heart. Even the theme song has a western/country vibe to it.Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, Ron Glass, Sean Maher, Jewel Staite, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, and Summer Glau in Firefly (2002)Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) is the captain of the Serenity. Mal, along with his second in command Zoe (Gina Torres) fought on the losing side of a brutal civil war six years earlier. While Zoe seems to have accepted her fate, Mal is still bitter and comes across as a surly opportunist that does whatever he has to for a buck. It becomes clear early on that he has a set of principals that he holds dear. With them are Wash (Alan Tudyk) , the ship’s pilot and husband of Zoe. Kaylee (Jewel Staite) is the ship’s engineer and is an odd mix of tomboy and sweet young thing (Except that her first visit on the ship was while she was getting busy with the original engineer). Jane Cobb (Adam Baldwin) is a mercenary that acts as the muscle, though it is never quite clear just how loyal he is to them.Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, Ron Glass, Sean Maher, Jewel Staite, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, and Summer Glau in Firefly (2002)The Serenity has a handful of passengers that are also regulars. Inarra (Morena Baccarin) is an Ambassador (It seems that prostitution is not only legal in the future, but organized and ever semi-respected) that rents space on the ship. Her presence works because she provides them with access to places they might not normally be able to go (She and Mal also have chemistry in the love/hate sense). Book (Ron Glass) is a reverend with a mysterious past. Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) comes on board with his sister River (Summer Glau) in tow. They are on the run from the government as River was part of an experiment that has left her a bit scattered, but with great skills and even powers that lie just beneath her surface.

Jewel Staite and Morena Baccarin in Firefly (2002)The galaxy is governed by the Alliance, which appears to be a semi-fascist organization. The outer reaches of the galaxy is full of colonized planets that often appear to resemble border towns in the wild west. The Alliance’s presence is only slightly felt there, with civilization being in the early stages…kind like Iowa or North Dakota only more interesting.MV5BNGE0MjY2MDctN2U1ZC00Y2I4LWI5OTUtNzMzM2QyZjlkZDBkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTM3MDMyMDQ@._V1_Most shows spend their first season developing chemistry, but Firefly hit the ground running with a cast that seems to have known each other for years. The interaction is often magical. Joss Whedon created a show with a very distinct style and feel. The dialogue is peppered with Chinese, to suggest that the Chinese culture became a global influence over the centuries between now and the time of the show. No funky sound effects are used in the space scenes, no roar of engines or squeal of laser cannons (In the reality, there is no sound in space). Even though there are rockets and lasers, most of the weapons are bullet based (adding to the western feel) and the most of the ships have a worn, dirty look to them.