REVIEW: Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Margot Robbie, and Ella Jay Basco in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)

Starring

Margot Robbie (Focus)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Gridiron Gang)
Rosie Perez (The Counselor)
Chris Messina (Sharp Objects)
Ella Jay Basco (Glimpse of Heaven)
Ali Wong (American Housewife)
Ewan McGregor (Doctor Sleep)
Steven Williams (IT)
François Chau (Lost)
Derek Wilson (Future Man)
Matthew Willig (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Bojana Novakovic (I, Tonya)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Yoru Mother)
David Ury (3 From Hell)
Sala Baker (Deadpool 2)

 

Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)Sometime after the Enchantress’ defeat, the Joker breaks up with Harley Quinn, throwing her out on the streets of Gotham City. She is taken in by Doc, the elderly owner of a Taiwanese restaurant, and recovers from her relationship by cutting her hair, adopting a spotted hyena (whom she names after Bruce Wayne), and taking up roller derby.Ewan McGregor in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)One night, Harley gets drunk at a nightclub owned by gangster Roman Sionis, and cripples Roman’s driver after he insults her. She then meets burlesque singer Dinah Lance, who later rescues an intoxicated Harley from an attempted abduction; that night, Harley blows up the Ace Chemicals plant where she pledged herself to the Joker years prior as a way to publicly announce their breakup. Spotting the scuffle from his bedroom, Roman is impressed by Dinah’s skills and appoints her as his new driver. Meanwhile, GCPD Detective Renee Montoya investigates a series of mob killings carried out by a crossbow-wielding vigilante. Finding Harley’s necklace at the scene of the Ace Chemicals explosion, Montoya notes that Harley is in danger without the Joker’s protection. She approaches Dinah about being an informant on Roman for them, but Dinah rejects the offer.Jurnee Smollett-Bell in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)Roman sends Dinah and his sadistic right-hand-man Victor Zsasz to retrieve a diamond embedded with the account numbers to the fortune of the Bertinelli crime family, who were massacred years ago. Young pickpocket Cassandra “Cass” Cain steals the diamond from Zsasz, but swallows it after she is arrested. Harley, fleeing from Montoya and several other people she had wronged in the past, is captured by Roman’s men. Zsasz informs Roman that Cassandra has the diamond, and Dinah warns Montoya about the situation. As Roman tortures Harley and prepares to have her killed, she offers to recover the diamond for him. Roman agrees but also places a bounty on Cass to shake up the competition. Breaking into the GCPD with a variety of firework-inspired non-lethal grenade launcher rounds, Harley frees Cassandra and the pair escape to the evidence warehouse. They are ambushed by a number of thugs, but manage to kill them all.Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)After escaping from the evidence warehouse, Harley and Cassandra bond while hiding out at the former’s apartment. Doc is approached for information by the “crossbow killer”, who is revealed to be Helena Bertinelli. Having survived her family’s massacre and becoming trained as an assassin, Helena has been targeting each of the gangsters responsible for her family’s murders, preferring the moniker of “The Huntress”. Quinn’s apartment is later bombed by criminals looking for Cass, and Doc sorrowfully reveals that he betrayed Harley, selling them out for money. Harley calls Roman and offers to turn Cassandra over in exchange for his protection, agreeing to meet at an abandoned amusement park (mostly one of the Joker’s former hideouts). Dinah notifies Montoya of the rendezvous, while Zsasz notices Dinah’s treacherous text message en route to the park and informs Roman. Devastated by Dinah’s betrayal, Roman dons his ritualistic mask from which he gets his villainous nickname, “Black Mask”.Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)At the park, Montoya confronts Harley, but Harley knocks her out of a window. Zsasz arrives and tranquilizes Harley before holding Dinah at gunpoint, but he is killed by Helena, who reveals Zsasz was the last of her family’s killers. Montoya returns and a stand-off ensues, until they realize Roman has arrived with a small army of masked criminals, known collectively as the False Face Society. Using Quinn’s old gear, the makeshift team successfully withstand and repel their attack. During the battle, Cass is captured by Roman, while Dinah reveals her metahuman ability of supersonic-level screaming, defeating an additional number of mobsters aligned with Roman.Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)Harley gives chase on roller skates, and with assistance from Helena, the pair pursue Roman. At a nearby pier, the final confrontation occurs. Taking aim at a shadowy figure in the distance she believes to be Roman, Harley wastes her last bullet as Roman appears from behind the figure, which is revealed to be a statue. Roman holds Cassandra hostage and prepares to kill her. However, Cassandra pulls the ring from a grenade she had taken from Harley’s weapons chest earlier, slipping the grenade in Roman’s jacket. Harley throws Roman from the pier just before the grenade detonates and kills him.Rosie Perez, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Margot Robbie, and Ella Jay Basco in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)In the aftermath of destroying Roman’s criminal empire, Montoya quits the GCPD. With the money within the accounts hidden inside the diamond, she joins Dinah and Helena in establishing a team of vigilantes – the Birds of Prey. Harley and Cassandra escape, selling the diamond itself to a pawnshop and starting their own contract killing business. In a post-credits audio sequence, Harley is about to reveal a secret about Batman, but the film ends mid-sentence.Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)After Suicide Squad split DC fans down the middle, one might’ve assumed that Harley Quinn’s story in the DCEU was over. It wasn’t. Birds of Prey delivers a stunning new look at the DCEU. It’s additions of Black Canary, Huntress, and Renée Montoya provide a new type of character develop that we’ve never seen in DC movies before. In addition to Black Mask, this badass team of superheroes provides a perfect blend of insanity, awkwardness, and that feeling of total badass you get from watching the team plow through Black Mask’s entire army. Of course, I couldn’t close off this review without mentioning Margot Robbie’s stellar performance as the siren herself. Nobody else could possibly pull off Harley like she does.

REVIEW: HARLEY QUINN – SEASON 1

Harley Quinn (2019)

Starring

Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory)
Lake Bell (The Secret Life of Pets)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
J. B. Smoove (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

Kaley Cuoco in The Final Joke (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Charles Adler (Rugrats)
James Adomian (Storks)
Tisha Campbell-Martin (My Wife and Kids)
Briana Cuoco (The Lydia Bennet!!)
Andy Daly (Semi-Pro)
Chris Diamantopoulos (The Three Stooges)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Susie Essman (Curb Your Enthusiasm)
Sean Giambrone (The Secret Life of Pets 2)
Tom Kenny (Super Hero Squad Show)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Rahul Kohli (Izombie)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Sanaa Lathan (The Cleveland Show)
Howie Mandel (Gremlins)
Vanessa Marshall (Final Space)
Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Natalie Morales (Santa Clarita Diet)
Frankie Muniz (Agent Cody Banks)
Matt Oberg (Sisters)
Rhea Perlman (Sing)
Jim Rash (Sky High)
Will Sasso (Mom)
Nicole Sullivan (The King of Queens)
Wanda Sykes (Clerks II)
Jacob Tremblay (Good Boys)
James Wolk (Watchmen TV)

Diedrich Bader and Kaley Cuoco in The Final Joke (2020)DC Universe’s funny, gory supervillain comedy mixes rollicking action with psychological growth. In DC Universe’s Harley Quinn, a gloriously foul-mouthed and blood-spattered adult cartoon, our psychologist-turned-supervillain heroine finds herself in a brutal skirmish with her own parents, who are trying to kill her. (First, they accidentally blew grandma’s head off, then they put a peekaboo hole through grandpa.) Harley beats her emotionally abusive father to a pulp in a filial dynamic I haven’t seen since Karyn Kusama’s Girlfight. “All I wanted was what every Jewish mother wants — for you to marry a doctor!” her mother wails, brandishing a bloody knife. “I AM A DOCTOR!” Harley (Kaley Cuoco) erupts in a zing so nuclear it nearly knocked me as dead as grandma.Kaley Cuoco, Tony Hale, and Ron Funches in The Final Joke (2020)Harley Quinn is the story of what happens when a woman’s ego happens to be as inflated as any mediocre man’s. It’s one of the best surprises of the year. The show stems from Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker and Dean Lorey, who have created another clever postmodern take on superhero lore, à la The Incredibles, The Boys, Watchmen and Powerless. (All three were executive producers on the latter.)Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)In 13 zippy, violent and irreverent half-hour episodes, we’re introduced to lovesick Harley, a minor sidekick in unbecoming pantomime garb, who soon breaks free from her toxic romance with narcissist Joker (Alan Tudyk) to branch out on her own (complete with a sexy makeover to embody Margot Robbie’s bat-wielding-in-short-shorts version of the character). Harley, a former practicing therapist, bursts with lava-hot anger, and her addiction to her own temper ends up being her Achilles heel in most episodes. She’s a great protagonist because she makes bad decisions and maintains unhealthy goals. Honestly, it’s a refreshing set of vices for a cartoon female lead.Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)Short of being “How Harley Got Her Groove Back,” the series takes its time to deprogram its heroine from the abuse cycle, following her as she slowly builds her nascent supervillain business/brand. First, her sardonic and husky-voiced best friend Poison Ivy (Lake Bell, playing the character as a grown-up Daria) stages an anti-Joker intervention for Harley that includes hurling her friend in a vat of neon margarita mix disguised as acid (“It’s still kinda stingy,” Harley whines).Kaley Cuoco and Alan Tudyk in Devil's Snare (2020)Then, once her ex is out of her life, Harley realizes how little respect she has in the supervillain boys club (a.k.a. the Legion of Doom) and seeks to establish a ruthless reputation for herself. She assembles a new crew, including a #MeToo-disgraced Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale), shape-shifting thespian Clayface (Alan Tudyk), easygoing fishman King Shark (Ron Funches) and elderly spy-turned-cyborg Sy Borgman (Jason Alexander). Ivy, an avowed environmentalist with her own plant-based agenda, insists she’s not officially in the crew … but let’s just say she’s not-not officially in the crew. They’re raggedy, but they’ll do.Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in Devil's Snare (2020)The best episodes are the ones in which Harley must confront her own boundaries as a supervillain. Early on, she finds herself in a cringey nemesis relationship with seemingly-cherubic tween Robin (Jacob Tremblay, as delightfully profane as in Good Boys), which threatens Harley’s fledgling professional legitimacy. Later, she befriends charming villainess Queen of Fables (Wanda Sykes), only to realize she’s hardcore bloodthirsty and not just your garden-variety heisting baddie. I mean, she full-on murders Humpty Dumpty for an omelet. “Oh, you got a line, huh?” she admonishes Harley. “Superheroes have a line. Teen Titans have a line. We don’t give a fuck.”Kaley Cuoco in Devil's Snare (2020)Harley Quinn juxtaposes cheeky joke-telling against face-melting body horror. It’s also not afraid to mock the DC brand at large. Here, every classic superhero is a righteous blowhard, every revered supervillain an impotent buffoon (Harley taunts Batman about how he “fucks bats” every chance she gets). We watch as Aquaman cradles a dying pufferfish in his arms and as Bane continuously fails at every little task. Comedian James Adomian’s harpooning voicework superbly obliterates Tom Hardy’s iconic performance as this character.In fact, the cast at large is key to Harley Quinn’s success. Harley screeches so much I actually became worried for Cuoco’s vocal cords, but the shrieking nonetheless remains essential to Harley’s personal development. She’s no longer the nasally, sexxii baby-voiced Noo Yawka dripping at Joker’s heels, but a rage machine about to explode into flames. She’s often tempered by Ivy’s voice-of-reason deadpan, a masterful turn from Bell, who in fact wrote and directed an entire feature film about the art of vocal talent. Other main cast standouts include Alan Tudyk, doing his cartoon pastiche Alan Tudyk thing, and Jason Alexander, who infuses Sy Borgman with craggy Yiddishkeit. My favorite guest stars of the season include Susie Essman and Rhea Perlman.Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in Devil's Snare (2020)Instead of relying on caper-of-the-week hijinks, the producers opt to highlight Harley’s personal growth, organically building action sequences and serialized storylines from that seismic emotional epicenter. Harley may be a supervillain, but she’s also healing from systemic manipulation, finally able to explore her own identity outside of her ex’s. Harley Quinn has its finger on the pulse of female trauma and strength. Kaley Cuoco in Harley Quinn Highway (2020)

REVIEW: JOKER

Starring

Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
Robert De Niro (Limitless)
Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2)
Frances Conroy (How I Met Your Mother)
Hannah Gross (Mindhunter)
Brett Cullen (Truth Be Told)
Douglas Hodge (The Report)
Dante Pereira-Olson (Happy!)
Glenn Fleshler (All Good Things)
Leigh Gill (Game of Thrones)
Bill Camp (12 Years a Slave)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Marc Maron (Almost Famous)
Josh Pais (Teeth)
Bryan Callen (Old School)
Justin Theroux (Maniac)
April Grace (A.I.)

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)In 1981, party clown and aspiring stand-up comedian, Arthur Fleck, lives with his mother, Penny, in Gotham City. Gotham is rife with crime and unemployment, leaving segments of the population disenfranchised and impoverished. Arthur suffers from a medical disorder that causes him to laugh at inappropriate times and depends on social services for medication. After a gang of delinquents attacks Arthur in an alley, his co-worker, Randall, gives him a gun for protection. Arthur meets his neighbor, single mother Sophie Dumond, and invites her to his upcoming stand-up comedy show at a nightclub.Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)While entertaining at a children’s hospital, Arthur’s gun falls out of his pocket. Randall lies that Arthur bought the gun himself, and Arthur is fired. On the subway, still in his clown makeup, Arthur is beaten by three drunken Wayne Enterprises businessmen; he shoots two in self-defense and executes the third. The murders are condemned by billionaire mayoral candidate Thomas Wayne, who labels those envious of more successful people as “clowns.” Demonstrations against Gotham’s rich begin, with protesters donning clown masks in Arthur’s image. Funding cuts shutter the social service program, leaving Arthur without his medication.Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)Sophie attends Arthur’s stand up routine, which goes poorly; he laughs uncontrollably and has difficulty delivering his jokes. Popular talk show host Murray Franklin mocks Arthur by showing clips from the comedy routine on his show. Arthur intercepts a letter written by Penny to Thomas Wayne, alleging that he is Thomas’ illegitimate son, and berates his mother for hiding the truth. Arthur goes to Wayne Manor, where he meets Thomas’ young son Bruce, but flees after a scuffle with Alfred Pennyworth, the family butler. Following a visit from two Gotham City Police Department detectives investigating Arthur’s involvement in the train murders, Penny suffers a stroke and is hospitalized.Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)At a public event, Arthur confronts Thomas, who tells him that Penny is delusional and not his biological mother. In denial, Arthur visits Arkham State Hospital and steals Penny’s case file; the file says Penny adopted Arthur as a baby and allowed her abusive boyfriend to harm them both. However, Penny alleged that Thomas used his influence to fabricate the adoption and commit her to the asylum to hide their affair. Distraught, Arthur returns home and enters Sophie’s apartment unannounced. Frightened, Sophie tells him to leave; their previous encounters were Arthur’s delusions. The following day, Arthur kills Penny at the hospital.Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)Arthur is invited to appear on Murray’s show due to the unexpected popularity of his comedy routine’s clips. As he prepares, Arthur is visited by Randall and fellow ex-colleague Gary. Arthur murders Randall for revenge but leaves Gary unharmed for treating him well in the past. En route to the studio, Arthur is pursued by the two detectives onto a train filled with some of the clown protesters. One detective accidentally shoots a protester and incites a riot, allowing Arthur to escape.Joaquin Phoenix and Dante Pereira-Olson in Joker (2019)Before the show goes live, Arthur requests that Murray introduce him as Joker, a reference to Murray’s previous mockery. Arthur walks out to applause, but the mood quickly changes when he tells morbid jokes, confesses to the train murders, and rants about how society abandons the downtrodden and mentally ill. Arthur kills Murray and is arrested as riots break out across Gotham. One rioter corners the Wayne family in an alley and murders Thomas and his wife, Martha, sparing Bruce. Rioters in an ambulance crash into the police car, freeing Arthur, who dances to the cheers of the crowd. At Arkham, Arthur laughs to himself about a joke and tells his psychiatrist she would not understand it. He runs from the orderlies, leaving a trail of bloodied footprints.Joaquin Phoenix in Joker (2019)Joker to me is a life journey, many may feel sympathy for him, some may even feel related to him or to what he has socially experienced while others will deny his actions. It’s very understood to have mixed feelings about this film, I know this movie will be perceived by each viewer differently basically according to their life experiences, how they were raised and may be even their moral values. I for one believe that it should not be misunderstood as an incitement to violence but more of a wake up call for all of us, a fresh look at ourselves and our social actions towards everyone we encounter in our lives and deeply reconsider how we treat each other in our daily lives and how it can shape our future society.

REVIEW: BIRDS OF PREY

MAIN CAST

Ashley Scott (Into The Blue)
Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers)
Rachel Skarsten (Reign)
Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Mia Sara (Legend)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Chris Ellis (The Dark Knight Rises)
Shawn Christian (Las Vegas)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
AJ Michalka (Super 8)
Maggie Baird (Eragon)
Silas Weir Mitchell (My Name Is Earl)
Brent Sexton (Flightplan)
Joe Flanigan (Stargate: Atlantis)
Robert Patrick Benedict (Waiting)
Autumn Reeser (The American Mall)
Riley Smith (Eight Legged Freaks)
Michael Welch (Twilight)
Brody Hutzler (Angel)
Lori Loughlin (Full House)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Shane Johnson (Behind Enemy Lines)
Sarah Brown (VR Troopers)
Kristoffer Polaha (Dollhouse)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Kill)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Sung Hi Lee (The Girl Next Door)
Brad Bufanda (Veronica Mars)
Neil Hopkins (Lost)
Mitch Pileggi (The X-Files)
Bob Papenbrook (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Llia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
J.P. Manoux (Euro Trip)
Bob Clendenin (That 70s Show)
Ian Reed Kesler (2 Broke Girls)
Kirk Baltz (Natural Born Killers)
Steve Hytner (Roswell)

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

untitled-3-copyLoosely based on DC Comics and a variety of other sources with a touch of Marvel’s the X-Men thrown in, the series continues the legend of The Batman. We enter the future, dark and fantastic world of New Gotham City. Long after The Batman has driven himself into exile, his legacy lives on in the form of the Birds of Prey – Black Canary, Oracle, and the Huntress. From the creators of the CW hit Smallville, Birds of the Prey was produced in 2002 for the now defunct WB, but had only 13 episodes before cancellation. Since then, its devoted fan base worked tirelessly to have the series released on DVD. It was a really exciting action show, breaking new ground because ALL of the lead characters were women.This boxed set collects all 13 episodes and a never-collected-on-DVD before Flash-animated series “Gotham Girls.” Awesomely, it also includes the unaired pilot, which featured Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks) in the role of Dr. Quinzel. Mia Sara was later cast as Quinzel in the series. She also appeared in the AIRED pilot. Interestingly, all of the scenes featuring the character in the AIRED pilot were reshot with Sara, word-for-word. Also of note, the aspect ratio of the episodes in the set will be full frame, but will have dark bars on top and on bottom to mimic widescreen. While normal citizens slept, the Birds of Prey flocked together to fight crime on the streets of New Gotham City. Several years after the city was abandoned by Batman, the awesome threesome of Huntress (Ashley Scott), Oracle (Dina Meyer), and Black Canary (Rachel Skarsten) was formed. Huntress is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, and can smell danger from miles away. Black Canary has the gift of clairvoyance and Oracle leads the team through her cyber experience, despite being wheelchair bound by Batman’s nemesis, the evil Joker.When the series opens, we learn that New Gotham’s Batman has disappeared leaving behind a daughter from his long-time love Catwoman. Her name is Helena Kyle, who transforms herself into the mysterious superhero known as “The Huntress.” Helena has hypersensitive senses and agility, but uses her gifts selfishly. Fate brings her face-to-face with her choices as well as a wheel-chair-bound Barbara Gordon, the hero Oracle, who befriends her but agrees to train her only if she uses her powers for good.splash_780-1376-720x340She teams up with Barbara, who had been “Batgirl” prior to being paralyzed by the Joker. By day, Barbara is a teacher at New Gotham High, but by night she fights crime from her secret lair in the New Gotham Clock Tower. The two meet a determined Dinah Redmond, a young woman who was drawn to New Gotham to learn more about her powers. Dinah is a touch-telepath and psychic who had terrifying dreams about Batgirl’s brutal incident that resulted in her paralysis. The Huntress resists working with Dinah, but Oracle convinces her to give the younger woman a chance. Now, they must learn not only how to work together as New Gotham’s protectors, but also as a family.Special recognition goes to Mark “Star Wars” Hamill who briefly reprises his award-winning voice role as the Joker from the iconic classic, Batman: the Animated Series. In Birds of Prey, “Mister J” on-camera is portrayed by actor/stuntman Roger Stoneburner but Hamill’s voice was dubbed over Stoneburner’s performance.  During the course of the series, the women are often confronted with schemes masterminded by the Joker’s on-and-off girlfriend, psychiatrist Dr. Harleen “Harley Quinn” Quinzel (Mia Sara), but they always prevail and eventually beat her at her own game.jsyjp3Other characters of note are: Alfred Pennyworth (Ian Abercrombie), who serves Helena as heir to the Wayne estate, and Police Detective Jesse Resse (Shemar Moore), confronted with crimes and abilities he cannot explain. A central feature of the series is the concept of metahumans: Individuals born with powers that cannot be explained. No two metahumans have the same specific ability (or set of abilities) and there exists a whole sub culture of metahuman society that the outside world knows nothing about. It is this world that Detective Reese is drawn into, reluctantly teaming up with Huntress and the Birds of Prey to defeat metahuman criminals. At first, he is disapproving of Helena’s vigilantism, even trying to arrest her, but eventually he realizes there is a need for the Birds of Prey to take down criminals the police can’t handle. Episodes in this four-disc collection are: the Pilot; Slick; Prey for the Hunter; Three Birds and a Baby; Sins of the Mother; Primal Scream; Split; Lady Shiva; Nature of the Beast; Gladiatrix; Reunion; Feat of Clay; and Devil’s Eyes. Very popular theme song “Revolution” was performed by Aimee Allen.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES: HOLIDAY KNIGHTS

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HOLIDAY KNIGHTS

CAST
Kevin Conroy (Batman Beyond)
Bob Hastings (Wonder Woman)
Matthew Valencia (Lawnmower Man 2)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Liane Schirmer (Batman: TAS)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)
Mark Hamill (The Flash)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Arleen Sokin (Comic Book: The Movie)
Diane Pershing (Gotham Girls)
Marilu Henner (The Crazy Ones)

December 22

Harley Quinn bemoans her fate to her friend, Poison Ivy, as they stay holed up in a scuzzy hotel. With a raised eyebrow of devious foreboding, Ivy assures her that she has a plan that will make it “the happiest holiday ever”. Later on, at the Vreeland estate, we catch up with Bruce having a pleasant conversation with heartthrob Veronica about forthcoming vacation plans. Much to “Brucey’s” chagrin, his quiet moment is interrupted by a gaggle of suitors all intent on snagging a moment with Gotham’s most eligible bachelor under the mistletoe. Backing away in order to make an escape, he finds himself in the arms of a shadowy female figure who – seizing him by his necktie – plants a big one right on his kisser. Finding himself completely discombobulated as to what exactly just transpired, he makes his way outside with the intent to head home.
On his way to his car, however, he’s intercepted by Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, with a look on his face like he cannot resist their every command no matter how hard he tries. While in the car, Harley kindly reveals exactly what happened: Poison Ivy used a special lipstick laced with a chemical in order to infect Bruce, via the aforementioned kiss. They also boldly pronounce that they intend to have a night on the town at Mr. Wayne’s expense. The girls shop endlessly buying clothes and jewels, all the while Bruce begrudgingly (yet uncontrollably) puts it all on his credit cards. Finally, Bruce begins building up a will as the chemical’s potency begins to wane. Vocalizing his discontent, the girls decide it’s time for another dose; backing away from Harley’s approach, however, Bruce falls down a conveniently placed ‘out of order’ open elevator shaft. Believing the slip to be his last, Harley and Ivy leave Bruce for dead, yet as they turn their backs and walk away, a portentous hand reaches out of the abyss and grips the edge of the floor. As the duo burn rubber away from Bergduffs Department Store, the silhouette of the Batman can be seen swooping after them. When Harley spots him through the back window, Ivy wastes no time in making an escape: she grabs the wheel of the car and ram raids the Wacko Toys shop. Probing through the pitch black with his flashlight, Batman soon needn’t wonder where they’ve gone to as a huge toy soldier comes crashing down nearly upon him. Looking up, he can see them taunting him atop a citadel of toys. Not one to decline a challenge, Batman eagerly ascends the tower only to find a boxing glove by Poison Ivy and a wooden sledge hammer from Harley Quinn. Plummeting to the bottom, the girls cannot resist a gloat as they make – what they believe will be – their exit. But the quick minded Batman has other plans: he uses his grappling hook to snag the base of a massive Christmas tree, which he then yanks hard, causing it to topple over directly on the would-be escapees.

December 24

In Mayfields Department Store, Barbara is just purchasing a new tie for her father when all of a sudden an ear-piercing wail cuts through the air. The shop attendant comments on how they’ve been crying all day, at which point we see why: Harvey Bullock is playing Santa. With his partner, Montoya, he’s on a stakeout. Bullock, showing rare sensitivity, comforts a young girl who’s father he put in prison, and winds up giving her cash to soothe her Christmastime woes.
Barbara, walking through the store, happens to spot a child shoplifting, but when she tries to apprehend him, his clothes and hand seem to dissolve into nothing. Then, Montoya gets a call through her earpiece that detectives are in pursuit of four child bandits in the store. Just when the children seem to be trapped, they meld together into… Clayface. He begins tearing up the place and no one can stop him, that is, until Barbara gets changed into her Batgirl outfit and delivers a blow to the head the sends him crashing out the window and into the skating rink below. Montoya and Bullock arrive on the scene and with a little guidance from Batgirl, succeed in halting the giant shapeshifter by way of electrocution.


December 31

In Commissioner Gordon’s office, Batman and Robin have just reviewed a taped broadcast by the Joker, who reveals some good news and bad news: the good news is that for the next year, he will not kill anyone; the bad news is that he intends to make up for the loss in activity that very night. Gordon tells Batman the only murder that day was a GothCorp scientist who specialized in sonics. This Dr. Erikson had been working on a sonic based weapon powerful enough to kill anyone in ‘earshot’. Using some rudimentary deductive skills, Batman concludes that the New Year’s Day countdown at Gotham Square is assuredly the place where the Joker will set off the bomb.
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Indeed, the Joker is setting up, and Batman is close at hand, but – always with a trick up his sleeve – the Joker has prepared a mass of plastic joker masks in order to help him blend in with the crowd. Batman is not amused. Using his ‘Batnoculars’, he easily spies the real Joker (with a huge clown wearing ear muffs on either side of him) playing the piano on stage. So just before swooping in, he makes his presence known with a well-timed Batarang to the head, removing the Joker’s ear muffs. Then, instead of going after the Joker directly, Batman and Robin take out the muscle on either side of him. This seemingly simple task, however, proves to be too much for the caped crusaders and they find themselves in the clutches of the Clown Prince of Crime. As the bell is rising to ring in the New Year, the Joker is having himself one final gloat by standing next to Batman with a bottle of champagne. The ever-alert Dark Knight snatches the bottle and sprays it all over the controls, shorting the wires and eventually exploding the bell’s pulley, resulting in a falling, massively heavy bell. As luck would have it, the giant object lands right on the Joker.
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A few hours after midnight, Gordon enters a small tavern and has a seat, while the barkeep ushers out the remnants of the punters. He speculates that “he” might not show due to the hectic day “he’s” had, but the Commissioner is sure he will show so not to break tradition. Naturally, it’s Batman who they’re talking about and who makes an entrance from the kitchen. He sits; they chat for about ten seconds; he slips away like a shadow, leaving money for the bill behind. Gordon, surprised, swears that one day he’ll beat him to the check, then heads home with a swinging Bat close behind him.
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 A Great Holiday episode showing how Batman, Batgirl and Robin spend the holiday season fighting the bad guys. the villains of the episodes are all brilliant and each bring there own villainy to the capers. The ending is touching showing just how much respect batman and Jim Gordon have for each other

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – CHRISTMAS WITH THE JOKER

CAST
Kevin Conroy (Batman Beyond)
Loren Lester (American Pie 3)
Bob Hastings (McHale’s Navy)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Clive Revill (Freakazoid)
Mari Devon (Digimon)
It’s Christmas Eve and even the inmates of Arkham Asylum are celebrating. They sing “Jingle Bells” and set up decorations. The Joker is given the golden ornament to put on top of the Christmas Tree. However, as soon as he places it on top of the tree, a hidden rocket activates and Joker rides out to freedom. Meanwhile, back at the Batcave, Robin tries to convince Batman to kick back and relax as there’s no need for them to go out on Christmas. Batman believes otherwise since Joker has escaped. Robin makes a deal with him: if they go out on patrol and find no sign of the Joker, then they’ll return home and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Batman agrees and the duo heads out.
All seems quiet in Gotham for a change and Robin is convinced they aren’t needed. Batman is his usual self: seeing a man running after a rich woman and believing that she’s going to be robbed, he heads out after them. However, the man calls to the woman and tells her that she dropped a package a couple of blocks back and returns it to her. Robin asks to go home and Batman silently swings off. Now back at Wayne Manor, Dick and Bruce wait for dinner and turn on the TV. However, they discover that It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t on. Instead they find that Joker has hijacked the television waves and has a “Special” for Batman. Joker shows a tank with a giant Santa Claus on top crashing through the city. The show is announced to be “Christmas with the Joker”. Batman and Robin instantly work to find the Joker’s location by checking power surges and head out to find him.
Joker continues his show and shows everyone his stolen family, the Awful Lawful Family: Commissioner Gordon, Summer Gleeson, and Harvey Bullock. Joker tells Batman that he can have them if he can find them by midnight. If he fails, they will die. However, before Batman and Robin can reach him, Joker reveals “Laughy” his own Christmas Elf. Laughy and Joker explain that they will blow up a rail bridge just in time for the 11:30 train to arrive. Summer becomes agitated and explains that her mother is on that train.  Batman and Robin go to the train and while Batman goes after the engineer, Robin uncouples the passenger cars. The tasks are simple enough and they save the passengers. Afterwards, they pinpoint the source of Joker’s signal: the observatory at Mount Gotham. However, when they reach it, they find that Joker simply left a transmitter there and replaced the observatory telescope with a cannon. Batman draws the fire of the cannon while Robin runs in to disable it. Unfortunately, the outer controls are ruined and the cannon starts firing erratically at parts of Gotham.
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Inside, Robin finds that there are several Joker statues with guns for hands. These statues give Robin trouble but he’s finally able to disable the cannon with an explosive. Unfortunately, they are no closer to finding Joker’s hideout and saving the hostages. Joker of course, doesn’t want to face Christmas without Batman and sends a broadcast of Summer opening a present: a Betty Blooper Doll. Batman realizes that the doll could only have come from the Laffco Toy Factory. The factory has been closed down for 14 years so it has to be Joker’s hideout. Batman and Robin make their way to the hideout and the Joker is more than ready. Joker plays the song, “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” from the Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky and several giant toy nutcracker soldiers attack. In spite of their size, the soldiers are easy enough to defeat. Just then, the song switches to “the Russian Dance” and toy planes fly after the duo. Batman grabs up a baseball bat and smashes most of them while Robin catches the rest in an oil barrel. Just as the planes are finished off, machine gun toting snipers shoot at the duo. Batman races up towards a set of giant teddy bears and hides. The snipers are confused by his disappearance until they see his cape and start firing. Much to their surprise, they find that it was only a giant teddy bear they shot at. The bear falls over and pins them down.
With Joker’s men and traps down, the duo sets out to find him but he reveals himself. His hostages are dangling over a vat of molten plastic and Joker threatens to drop them in if Batman doesn’t come and get his Christmas present. Batman takes the present and opens it to discover a spring-loaded pie inside. Joker has a laugh and cuts the rope holding his hostages. Fortunately, Batman saves them and goes after Joker. Joker manages to evade him for a while but trips on a roller-skate and almost falls into the vat. Batman saves him and bids him a Merry Christmas. Joker simply says, “Bah humbug!” Later, Bruce and Dick finish watching a recording of It’s a Wonderful Life and Bruce has to admit that it “has its moments”. Meanwhile, Joker spends his Christmas alone in his cell, but seems to be in good spirits, singing and laughing.
One of the best Christmas episodes of any show made, its well plotted,  and seeing the Joker being a men ace upon Christmas is just plain awesome. This episode clearly shows just how excellent Batman: The Animated Series was. A True Classic.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE BATMAN – GRUNDY’S NIGHT

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Rino Romano (Get Him To The Greek)
Alastair Duncan (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Steve Harris (The Rock)

GUEST CAST

Kevin Grevioux (I, Frankenstein)

The pre-credit teaser had me a bit worried about this episode. It wasn’t really doing anything for me and was slightly annoying. The eccentric old women was a bit funny, but started to get on my nerves as the teaser progressed; thankfully that all changes once the credits run, and “Grundy’s Night” kicks into full gear.

According to lore, Grundy is the result of the greed that came to Gotham years ago, greed that overtook a peaceful land and made it the polluted, crime-ridden hole it is today. Citizens, wanting to rid Gotham of this rot, conjured up a swamp zombie to wreak vengeance, which the ancestors of those greedy industrialists must pay. Now, on the darkest Halloween since he was created, Grundy has returned for to finish his mission.

The Batman is, of course, skeptical but finds himself quickly sucked into the myth as the ancient creature returns for revenge.  Personally, I didn’t know what to expect with this episode. The teaser didn’t fill me with much enthusiasm, but once the episode got rolling, it got really engaging. Not only did this episode approach the idea of a 150 year-old zombie coming back to life in a somewhat realistic fashion, but it had a solid twist during the show’s climax. A hint is dropped midway through the episode, but it’s not until we see the actual twist does it seem so obvious, and handled very well.  The flashbacks, and delving into the origin of this lore, adds atmosphere to the episode, and the entire casts gives a good performances. I was surprised at how restrained Alfred came off, and how realistic Batman came off when approaching the whole situation. Just a surprise given the show’s sub-par past. Overall, an excellent episode. This ranks as one of the best episode of the series, and gives viewers a solid mystery to get behind. The episode is fun, and the twist at the end should be a complete shocker. It brings a whole new meaning to “jaw-dropping twist,” that’s for sure.