REVIEW: SUPERMAN: BRAINIAC ATTACKS

CAST (VOICES)

Tim Daly (Basic)
Powers Boothe (Agents of SHIELD)
Lance Henriksen (The Terminator)
Dana Delaney (Desperate Housewives)
George Dzunda (City By The Sea)
Shelley Fabares (Hot Pursuit)
Mike Farrell(Private Sessions)
David Kaufman (Pearl Harbor)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)

Brainiac crash lands on Earth and hijacks Lex Labs to collect Earth’s data and amass the power of its weapons systems. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are sent to one of Lex Luthor’s laboratories after Brainiac arrives on Earth on a meteor, successfully dodging the attempts made by Luthor’s satellite to destroy any potential damage to the Earth in an attempt to boost his popularity against Superman as the true hero of the people. Superman shortly arrives and finds Brainiac downloading data from the computers with information relating the various forms of weaponry from LexCorp, including the laser-equipped meteor shield that had attempted to destroy Brainiac earlier. Using his ice breath, Superman is able to seemingly destroy Brainiac, after Superman and Brainiac had engaged in battle.
Witnessing the incident, and how his satellite could be used as an effective weapon against Superman, Luthor finds Braniac’s still intact brain chip and takes it to LexCorp, where he reactivates Brainiac. He then proposes that Brainiac, with the technology of LexCorp as well as Kryptonite, defeat Superman, and then Luthor step in to chase Brainiac away from the Earth, in front of the world to make him appear as Earth’s true hero, where he will then be free to conquer other planets, leaving Lex in charge of Earth. Brainiac accepts the agreement, and proceeds to rebuilding and improving himself. Meanwhile, Clark Kent contemplates the idea of revealing his secret identity to Lois. The opportunity presents itself when editor Perry White, due to staff shortages, sends both Kent and Lois to review a restaurant in Metropolis. During this time, however, Brainiac returns. Among his improvements is the ability to track down Superman based on his DNA. After another battle with Brainiac, Superman has been significantly affected by Brainiac’s kryptonite power rays, and Lois is critically injured in the process. It is revealed that her blood has been infected with a kryptonite, metallic-based poison, that is galvanizing her blood cells and if not treated, would prove fatal.
Feeling guilty, Superman obtains a sample of Lois’ blood from the hospital and returns to the Fortress of Solitude where he analyzes Lois’ blood using his Kryptonian technology. It is then when Superman discovers that the only cure for Lois’ condition is to obtain a chemical substance, known as Argonium 44, from the Phantom Zone. However, Brainiac is able to locate Superman in his Antarctic retreat, and attempts to downloaded the information of Krypton from Superman’s computer. Superman then initiates a self-destruct sequence. Brainiac, not being able to locate Superman, presumes that he has been killed in the explosion. Superman had, in fact, gone into the Phantom Zone in order to find the Argonium 44, which would not only cure Lois and heal himself, but provide him with increased strength against Brainiac by shielding him from his kryptonite blast.
the-phantom13Brainiac returns to Metropolis where Luthor awaits in order to fulfill their agreement. Jimmy investigates Lex and realizes that he is working with Brainiac. Brainiac, however, intends to kill Luthor in order to conquer Earth, and had even removed the self-destructive component that Luthor had planted should Brainiac double cross him. Superman seemingly returns through a portal and cures Lois, but when bringing her out of the hospital, he realizes this experience is an illusion created by the Phantom Zone when Lois repeated goad him to stay with her and not go after Brainiac. After this, he is chased and attacked by several Phantoms before he actually escapes the Phantom Zone.the_phantom_sala-catehrine-zeta-jones
Returning to Metropolis, Superman and Brainiac engage in a lengthy battle, during which Luthor is injured in the crossfire. Mercy discovers Jimmy looking for evidence against Luthor and brutally attacks him. Eventually he takes over one of Lex’s large, robotic exoskeletons and knocks her unconscious. Unfortunately, his camera is destroyed by his attack, relieving him of the chance to photograph evidence of Lex’s schemes, much to his dismay. Superman seemingly defeats Brainiac and then returns to the hospital in order to cure the ailing Lois. But before Lois can take the cure, Braniac, who is now only a head, attacks the hospital and smashes the cure. Immediately afterwards, Superman finally destroys Brainiac by breaking his brain chip. With the cure now destroyed, Lois faces certain death. Superman, regretting never telling Lois his true feelings then embraces her. It is then that his tears, containing Argonium 44 that had healed him earlier, makes contact with Lois, curing her. She presumes him to be Clark, but Superman, (having changed his mind for her safety) tells her he is just Superman. Later, Superman recovers a piece of his destroyed Kryptonian technology where he aims to rebuild his fortress. He then vows to quit his job at the Daily Planet in an attempt to prevent future harm to his loved ones, should any of his enemies discover his secret identity.thephantomThe movie ends with an injured Luthor facing criminal prosecution after the discovery of LexCorp’s involvement with Brainiac’s attack, and Lois racing to cover the appearance of Mr. Mxyzptlk in Metropolis. Seeing Lois’ eagerness to put herself in harm’s way in order to cover a story, Superman goes back on his earlier decision to quit the Daily Planet so that he can be with Lois, as well as Metropolis’ protector against the most powerful threats from the universe.fortress_of_solitude_superman_brainiac_attacksOf course this movie was made to capitalize on the release of Superman Returns. Brainiac Attacks is a fun and fast moving adventure story. The epic battles are truly fun to watch. The animation is the same as you see on the animated series, and on Justice League. Tim Daly returns as the voice of Clark/Superman, as does Dana Delany as Lois. Lance Henricksen takes on the role of Brainiac, and while he may not have the smooth coolness the character used to have, his gravelly voice is menacing nonetheless, and he does a great job. If I have one complaint about the movie, it’s with Lex Luthor. He’s not the same character he used to be. He’s far more aloof, and even a bit of a clod. He’s not as menacing, and seems to go for the joke too often. He does get a couple of good lines, however. During a huge battle with Brainiac, Superman ends up face to face with Lex who gives him a “Rootin’ for ya, my man!”. That was quite funny. But it’s not Clancy Brown who reprises his role as Lex. Powers Boothe takes over, and while he’s a good actor, he’s not really right for Lex. So if you are a fan of the animated series, there is much to enjoy here. Unless of course, you can’t get around the whole Lex thing.

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REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE DOOM

CAST (VOICES)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Tim Daly (Superman: TAS)
Susan Eisenber (Justice League)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Bumper Robinson (Marvel’s Avengers Assemble)
Carlos Alazraqui (Happy Feet)
Claudia Black (The Originals)
Paul Blackthorne (Arrow)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Alexis Denisof (Angel)
Phil Morris (Bottoms Up)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Grey Griffin (Justice League: Cosmic Clash)
Robin Atins Downes (Babylon 5)
Juliet Landau (Buffy)

Assembled by Vandal Savage, the elite members of the Legion of Doom—Bane, Cheetah, Mirror Master, Star Sapphire, Ma’alefa’ak and Metallo—are shown how to beat each and every member of the Justice League of America. Using the specific weaknesses of each hero, the Legion heads out to destroy their counterparts and bring them to their knees so Vandal Savage could implement the next phase of his plan: annihilating the majority of the human race so he can bring about a new world order from its ashes. To make things worse, Vandal Savage didn’t discover how to destroy the Justice League on his own, and when the answer as to who was responsible is revealed, the JLA is rocked to its core with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

Man, I love this movie. It features an all-star cast of all-star superheroes going up against an all-star roster of evil supervillains. Finally, we get to see the villains stick it to the heroes in a big way and not let up until the JLA is down. And I mean really down. It’s not often you see Superman on the brink of death, Batman humiliated and defeated, Flash completely screwed, Green Lantern a broken man, Martian Manhunter totally incapacitated, and Wonder Woman so messed up she doesn’t know what to do or which way to turn.

This flick is based on the “Tower of Babel” Justice League story arc by Mark Waid, who is arguably one of the best comic book writers on the planet. I can’t comment on this flick’s faithfulness to that storyline because it’s been over ten years since I last read it, but I do remember the overall premise and this movie delivered on that.

The heroes and villains look great in this movie, and it does well in showcasing their various powers and abilities. It’s also an exciting movie that is fast-paced, has a sense of atmosphere, a sense of taking place in the overall DC Universe—thanks to other heroes and villains not mentioned above showing up—and gives the JLA a threat that even they might not be able to handle. And that’s the thing with a JLA movie: the threat needs to be so huge and so dangerous that it takes them as a team to solve the issue, and considering each one of them is extremely powerful in their own right, that threat needs to be mega huge, not just physically but psychologically as well. Justice League: Doom has that and delivers it in spades. Also features the voice talent from the Justice League animated series so that totally adds to it as well, giving it a sense of familiarity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: SUPERMAN/BATMAN: APOCALYPSE

CAST (VOICES)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Tim Daly (Superman: TAS)
Andre Braugher (The Mist)
Susan Eisenberg (Justice League)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Julianne Grossman (Spaceballs: TAS)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)

Weeks after the events that led to Lex Luthor’s arrest, the impeachment of his presidency, and Batman’s success in saving the world from the impact of an arriving meteor, a spaceship lands in Gotham City Harbor. While Batman investigates the sunken craft, a young girl with no knowledge of English or any other human languages emerges from the water and accidentally crashes Batman’s boat. Three longshoremen find her where she attacks two of them in self-defense while the third one just gives up his coat to her in order for her to cover up. She accidentally causes all sorts of havoc with her Kryptonian-like powers until the Dark Knight exposes her to a piece of Kryptonite while Superman gives the blimp that she unknowingly used her heat vision on a water landing.

With Superman’s help, they discover that the girl is Kara Zor-El, the niece of Jor-El and Superman’s biological cousin. While Superman welcomes Kara, teaches her English, and helps her adjust to Earth society, Batman remains suspicious. Tipped off by Batman, Wonder Woman and Lyla ambush Clark Kent and Kara in a park and take Kara to Themyscira, on the basis that only there can she learn to control her powers. Superman reluctantly agrees, but still prefers to watch to Kara himself. Meanwhile on the planet Apokolips, Darkseid learns of Kara’s presence on Earth, and orders Granny Goodness to have her brought to Apokolips as a possible candidate to lead the Female Furies since the departure of Big Barda and the warrior Treasure being a failed candidate.

While Batman and Superman are checking on Kara on Themyscira, Kara was paired up in her training against Artemis. While Kara and Lyla later sneak away for a swim, a horde of Doomsday clones arrive from Apokolips. Superman, Wonder Woman and the Amazonian army fight them for a while until Superman vaporizes all of them with a single blast of his heat vision, but Batman discovers that Kara is missing, and that Darkseid’s Omega Beams have killed Lyla (while trying to prevent Kara’s abduction).

Distraught, Superman vows to avenge her and save Kara. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman locate and recruit Big Barda to help them find their way on Apokolips. Once there, Superman tears his way to Darkseid’s palace while Wonder Woman and Barda go through the sewers directly into the fighting arena, where Granny Goodness and the Female Furies ambush them. After a long fight, Granny and the Furies are subdued. Batman, meanwhile, makes his way underground and finds the Hell Spores, the source of the fire pits on Apokolips, and activates them.

Superman encounters Darkseid, who sets the brainwashed Kara on him. Kara pummels Superman while Darkseid watches, until Batman confronts Darkseid and informs him that he has activated the Hell Spores, all of which will destroy Apokolips. He issues Darkseid an ultimatum: free Kara and promise to leave her alone and Batman will deactivate the Spores. Intrigued, Darkseid admits his admiration for Batman’s tactics. Acknowledging that neither Superman nor Wonder Woman has the “strength of character” to destroy an entire planet, Darkseid relents. Superman manages to defeat Kara and Barda and Wonder Woman present Darkseid with the subdued Granny. Defeated, Darkseid allows them to leave Apokolips. Back on Themyscira, a funeral is held for Lyra as Kara pays her respects.

With their lives normal again, Clark decides to take Kara to meet his adoptive parents in Smallville. However, Darkseid, who was waiting to kill Superman, ambushes them: he had promised to leave Kara alone, but not Superman or Earth. Darkseid’s Omega Beams blast Superman into orbit, leaving Kara to face the tyrant herself. A lengthy battle ensues with Kara (having received both Amazonian and Apokoliptian training) putting up a respectable fight, but Darkseid eventually overpowers her. Superman recovers and returns to Earth to confront Darkseid again. He gains the upper hand and pummels Darkseid using a combination of punches and heat vision at super speed. Darkseid grabs Superman and begins attacking him with Omega Beams. As Superman’s skin starts to glow red hot from the assault, Kara uses Darkseid’s Mother Box to activate a Boom Tube behind Darkseid. Superman uses the momentary distraction to his advantage and pushes Darkseid through. While Superman anticipates Darkseid’s eventual return from Apokolips, Kara informs him that she changed the coordinates to a random spot in space, leaving Darkseid floating around frozen in ice.

Having saved her cousin’s life and found her place on Earth, Kara decides to use her powers to fight for altruism under the alias of Supergirl. She is met with applause by Wonder Woman, the Amazons, and, finally, Batman. Superman and Supergirl then fly off to Metropolis.

I hugely enjoyed Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, besides of the screenplay, the characters and the awesome action scenes.Bringing in Summer Glau as Supergirl was a masterstroke she is brilliant voicing the character and makes you feel for her.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES

CAST (VOICES)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Tim Daly (Superman: TAS)
Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow)
Xander Berkeley (Terminator 2)
Corey Burton (Transformers)
Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives)
Allison Mack (Smallville)
John C. McGinley (Highlander 2)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)

LexCorp’s CEO, Lex Luthor, has been elected President of United States during a severe nationwide economic depression. Under his leadership, the economy begins to thrive, and he assembles a force of government-employed superheroes consisting of Captain Atom, Katana, Black Lightning, Power Girl, Starfire, and Major Force. Meanwhile, Superman and Batman maintain their distrust toward Luthor. The United States government discovers that a massive Kryptonite meteor is hurtling toward Earth. Instead of asking superheroes for aid and wanting to take credit for himself, Luthor decides to destroy it with nuclear missiles. Luthor arranges a meeting with Superman in Gotham City under the pretense of forming a pact. This results in a battle with the hired Metallo against Superman and Batman. Following the heroes’ escape, an unknown assailant kills Metallo.

On national television later that night, Luthor pins Metallo’s murder on Superman, using footage of their battle to implicate him. Luthor claims that the radiation being emitted by the meteor can affect Superman’s judgment, and he places a one-billion-dollar bounty on the Man of Steel.

While breaking into S.T.A.R. Labs seeking information on the meteor, Batman and Superman find Metallo’s remains and realize that intense radiation has killed him. An army of villains looking to collect on the bounty then attacks them. The army includes: Silver Banshee, Captain Cold, Icicle, Killer Frost, Mr. Freeze, Gorilla Grodd, Bane, Black Manta, Black Spider, Brimstone, Catman, Cheetah, Copperhead, Deadshot, Eclipso, Kestrel, King Shark, Brutale, Despero, Giganta, Girder, Lady Shiva, Mongul, Captain Boomerang II, Nightshade, Parasite, Solomon Grundy, and Shrike. After some effort, most of the villains are defeated. Captain Atom, who has arrived with Luthor’s superhero team to arrest Superman, defeats the remaining villains. All but Power Girl, whose loyalties are divided, attempt to capture the heroic duo. Superman creates a twister using his superspeed, and the two heroes escape with Power Girl.

In Metropolis, Power Girl admits that she feels unnerved by Luthor and does not believe Superman killed Metallo. Luthor’s superheroes catch up and the fight begins anew, this time with Power Girl aiding Superman and Batman. The Dark Knight realizes that Major Force killed Metallo under Luthor’s orders and goads him into admitting it in front of everyone. In anger, Power Girl punches him in the stomach with so much force that it ruptures his containment suit. Captain Atom, ashamed at his complicity in Luthor’s misdeeds, absorbs the energy, disintegrating Major Force and injuring himself in the process.

Meanwhile, Luthor’s missiles fail to stop the meteor when the sheer amount of radiation being emitted by it detonates them before impact. Amanda Waller later discovers that Luthor has secretly been taking a serum composed of liquid kryptonite and super steroid Venom since the last days of the presidential election campaign, making him lose whatever rationality he had left. Feeling disillusioned by his failure in destroying the meteor with his missiles, Luthor decides to let the meteor hit the Earth so that he may rule over what remains of society. Batman and Superman attempt to break into Luthor’s base of operations to retrieve data on the meteor’s radiation. They end up in battle with Captain Marvel and Hawkman, eventually emerging victorious with Power Girl’s (off-screen) aid. However, Luthor refuses to relinquish the data, going so far as to erase it from the lab computers. Waller gives them a copy, being disgusted with Luthor’s plans. Batman and Superman fly off to Tokyo to deliver the data on the meteor to the Japanese Toyman, who has already built a giant rocket-propelled spacecraft, intending to use it as a large missile to stop the meteor. Waller and the military then attempt to arrest Luthor, but he injects himself with more kryptonite steroid and dons a power suit. After escaping Waller and the military, Luthor follows Superman and Batman overseas.

After Batman and Superman arrive at Toyman’s base, he shows them the spacecraft, which resembles a giant, robotic composite version of Superman and Batman. With the data, Toyman is able to calculate the necessary reinforcements needed for his own rocket so it will not explode before impact. Unfortunately, the arriving Luthor neutralizes Power Girl, Superman and Batman, and then disables the rocket’s remote guidance systems so that it will not take off by itself. Having no other choice, Batman decides to fly the rocket himself, despite Superman’s protests. Though initially faring poorly against Luthor and his kryptonite power suit, the rage over losing his best friend allows Superman to gain the upper hand, and after an aerial chase leading them all the way back to Metropolis, he defeats him in the streets there. Batman succeeds in destroying the meteor, and Superman finds him alive and well in an escape pod.

Image result for superman/batman public enemies

With the truth of Metallo’s death now public knowledge, Superman is cleared of the murder charge and Luthor is arrested and taken away to face trial and impeachment for his crimes. Batman then returns to Gotham while the Daily Planet’s star journalist, Lois Lane, arrives and happily embraces the Man of Steel.

Nonstop action start to finish. Great acting by all the three lead characters Batman, Superman and Lex Luther. The background musical score is also superb.It’s one of the best DC Original animated Movies ever and showed what kind of hard hitting stories can be told by animation today.

REVIEW: THE BATMAN/SUPERMAN MOVIE

CAST (voices)
Tim Daly (Private Practice)
Dana Delany (Body of Proof)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Lisa Edelstein (What Women Want)
Bob Hastings (McHales Nacy)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Joseph Bologna (Big Daddy)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
George Dzundza (The Deer Hunter)

With in seconds of the opening credits, I was glued to the screen, transfixed at what I was seeing there. A very classy, if somewhat gaudy representation of the two characters I grew up with. Batman and Superman, at first not willing to work together to stop The Murderous Joker and Side Kick Harleyquin on a vendetta to kill Superman, love those plot devices, but latter using their own unique style of vigilante justice in unison to bring the evildoers in. I really should write comics.

Animation wise it’s a step above the usual Saturday morning cartoons. Written by long time Batman writer Paul Dini. The man who is 90% responsible for bring the fantastic Batman animated series to us over the last 4 years, he really went and out did him self here. The dialogue is both witty and fresh with out being overly corny. Written with just enough innuendo and savvy to keep the older viewers smirking. When Bruce Wayne (Batman’s alter ego) is seen to be making moves on Superman’s main squeeze Lois, Clark remarks, `Of course you have been dividing your time between work and Lois.’ Bruce replies with genuine arrogant charm `Is that a problem?’ With Deadpan seriousness Clark retorts, `Let’s just say I’m concerned. Your reputation is… dubious. In and out of costume.’ I dare you to find better dialogue any where on Saturday morning television.

The film flows with some modest attempts to flesh out the human sides of the characters This straight to video release is basically the 3-episode arc.  Besides some enjoyable action sequences the fun comes in picking the actors who voice the main characters. Mark Hamil, yes Luke Skywalker himself, pulls of a Nicholson-esque joker while Tim Daly of `Wings’ fame does the Man of Steel. Kevin Conroy does Batman. On whole very enjoyable and fans should watch to see the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight actually done well.

REVIEW: BASIC

CAST

John Tarvolta (The Punisher)
Samuel L. Jackson (The Legend of Tarzan)
Connie Nielsen (Gladiator)
Tim Daly (Superman: TAS)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Brian Van Holt (S.W.A.T.)
Taye Diggs (Chicago)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)

In Panama, a team of Army Ranger trainees and their instructor, Master Sergeant Nathan West (Samuel L. Jackson), engage in a training exercise: navigate the jungle in hurricane conditions using live fire to hit targets before rendezvousing at a bunker. Later, a rescue chopper sees Sergeant Ray Dunbar emerge from the jungle, carrying wounded Second Lieutenant Levi Kendall. The two men are pursued by a third soldier, Sergeant Mueller, who is shooting at them. Dunbar kills Mueller in self-defense. Although no other bodies are found, the rest of West’s team are presumed dead.
Dunbar refuses to talk to Captain Julia Osborne (Connie Nielsen). Instead he insists on speaking to a fellow Ranger from outside the base and draws an “8” inside a circle on a piece of paper. Spooked on seeing the “8”, base commander Colonel Bill Styles (Timothy Daly), calls in an experienced interrogator and friend, DEA agent Tom Hardy (John Travolta) who is also an ex-Ranger. Even though he is now under investigation for suspicion of bribery, Styles assigns him to Osborne. The pair have only 6 hours before the CID transport from Washington arrives to take Dunbar and Kendall away.
Dunbar’s story
Hardy begins by revealing to Dunbar during the initial interrogation that he served under West as a Ranger. He also mentions that he knows West is infamous for being a ruthless, tough-as-nails sergeant.
Dunbar relates that another trainee who went on the Panama training mission with Dunbar, Kendall, Mueller and two others, Nuñez and Castro, was named Pike. Pike had earned West’s wrath, because West thought he was not following orders. Hardy and Osborne suggest that with plenty of reason to hate West, Pike had motive to murder him. Dunbar refuses to say more. Before Hardy and Osborne leave, Hardy asks for cigarettes because he had “forgotten” them in his car.
 
Kendall’s story
Hardy and Osborne then go to see Kendall, son of a Joint Chiefs of Staff general, recovering from gunshot wounds. At the hospital, Hardy runs into Dr. Peter Vilmer (Harry Connick Jr.), an old friend and Osborne’s former love interest. Kendall, after recognizing Hardy as “the DEA agent with friends in low places”, reveals he is a homosexual and claims West hated him because of it, and that West silently threatened his life shortly before the mission began, partnering him with Castro for the mission, and feared West may have ordered Castro to give him a “training accident”.
 
Kendall claims West died when hit in the back with a white phosphorus grenade and that Pike confessed to the crime, thinking his comrades would be “on board” with him in support. However, the team decided to turn Pike in. In the night, Pike tried to gain Kendall’s sympathies, playing on their mutual hatred of West. Pike proposed killing Mueller and Nunez and convincing Dunbar and Castro to back them up. Kendall dismissed Pike’s suggestion, but later spots Pike whispering to Dunbar. Kendall says Dunbar went back to his bag, extracted his pistol and aimed it at the sleeping Mueller. A firefight ensued, and Mueller shot Castro, who fired and hit Nunez, Kendall and Pike. Nunez and Pike die and Kendall is wounded. Dunbar then carried Kendall, exchanging fire with Mueller to the pickup point, as seen at the start of the film. Asked why Dunbar would rescue him, Kendall suggests maybe Dunbar expected him to cover for him in gratitude.
Dunbar’s second story
Dunbar, now accused of murder, says Kendall is lying and claims he didn’t shoot West. Hardy notes Kendall claimed West died from a grenade, not shooting. Dunbar claims Mueller and Castro were selling prescription drug kits called “combat cocktails” to help dull physical pain and sharpen the mind; that Mueller shot West, who became aware of their drug dealing, and claims Mueller then used Pike’s grenade, stolen from his pack earlier. At the bunker, Mueller tried to pin the blame on Pike, but Pike pointed out evidence throwing suspicion on Mueller. A fierce argument ensued and Mueller executed Pike. A firefight broke out and Castro and Nunez die. Dunbar rescued Kendall and during the pursuit killed Mueller before the helicopter pickup. Dunbar provides proof of the drug-dealing operation, and states Vilmer supplied the drugs to Mueller and Kendall.
 
Kendall’s second story
Osborne and Hardy return to the hospital and speak with Dr. Vilmer, who admits that he distributed drugs to Mueller and Kendall and that he falsified drug tests so the soldiers would come up clean. Vilmer is placed under arrest. After his case discussion with them, Styles orders Osborne and Hardy to not talk to Kendall again.
 
But Hardy and Osborne confront Kendall, who is acting very strangely and refuses to give them any useful information, such as why he pinned the three murders on Dunbar. However, Kendall, still claiming that Dunbar was the guilty party, forces them to ask Dunbar about “all the murders he’s covered up for his drug dealer”. They soon discovered that they planned the murder on West, and after a brief chat between Hardy and Osborne, with Kendall still making fun of the two, they are threatening to charge him with the crime as an accessory, which he does not want any part of it, and Kendall continues to laugh at them, thinking that they got nothing on him. Suddenly, while Osborne tells Kendall that they find one of the dead bodies, Hardy noticed him beginning to bleed out of his ears, and calls for a nurse. While Osborne is trying to hold Kendall, he suddenly starts vomiting blood, and abruptly dies. Before he dies, he uses his blood soaked finger to draw on Osborne’s palm what she thinks is the sign of infinity. Shortly after, she realizes it is an 8. She shows this to Hardy, who indicates ignorance of its significance. She suspects he knows. After a brief physical fight, he takes her aside and explains the conversation he had earlier with Styles. There is rumored to be a group of ex-Rangers in Panama, trained under West, who turned rogue and became drug-dealers. They call themselves Section 8.
 
Styles is furious that Osborne and Hardy talked to Kendall a second time after he explicitly ordered them not to. He relieves Osborne of duty and asks Hardy to leave. He informs them that Dunbar and Vilmer will be taken away shortly on the transport plane that has arrived from the U.S. and he considers the investigation closed.
 
At the stockade, Vilmer casually observes to Hardy and Osborne that he will be on the same plane with Pike. Hardy corrects him, saying that he’ll be on the same plane as Dunbar, but Vilmer says that’s not right. He reveals that Ray Dunbar is black. The white “Dunbar” Hardy and Osborne have been questioning is in fact Pike, the man whom West antagonized during training (according to his own story). Pike had switched his tags with Dunbar’s, in order to throw off the local authorities and disappear, after being transported for trial. Hardy and Osborne rush back to the base just as Pike is being taken onto a transport plane. Hardy grabs Pike, but not before he grabs a gun from one of the guards, and holds his face dangerously close to the plane’s whirling propeller. The two engage in a brief screaming match, although what they say is inaudible. Pike then drops to his knees, out of breath. Afterward, Hardy and Osborne lead Pike away to interrogate him again now that they know the truth.
 
Pike’s final explanation
In Pike’s new story, West was not shot, and he claims West knew about the main operation going on at the base: cocaine smuggling. He claims West confronted the Rangers in the bunker and told them that he would turn them in to authorities in the morning and tell Styles everything. A brief Mexican standoff ensued and West escaped the bunker. Nuñez chased after him and was shot by West. Shortly after, Castro and Mueller went looking for West, Pike found Dunbar dead, West shot Kendall, wounding him, and tried to convince Pike to give himself up. Pike says Mueller managed to kill West, that he then shot at Mueller, and knowing that he would be blamed if West died, took Dunbar’s dog tags. It is still established that he managed to escape, carried Kendall through the jungle, killed Mueller and was picked up by the helicopter.As proof, he gives Hardy, Osborne and Styles the number of a crate where Vilmer had stowed cocaine, and they open it.
 
Hardy then talks to Styles alone. He asks why West wouldn’t tell Styles about the drugs as soon as he suspected something. He then accuses Styles of lying, and believes West did in fact go to him, but that Styles was behind the drug dealing operation the whole time; that rather than side with West, Styles ordered Mueller and Kendall to kill him in the jungle and then poisoned Kendall afterward to keep him quiet. Osborne, meanwhile, approaching the office, overhears, and secretly listens. Styles laughs off the accusations, but as Hardy starts to leave by turning him to the authorities, Styles offers him a percentage of the operation, once he’s back in business, in order to keep his mouth shut. Hardy, realizing that Styles has been involved in this whole operation all along, says he’ll have to think about it and turns to leave. Styles draws his weapon to force Hardy to accept his offer, but is killed by Osborne.
 
Final twist and explanation
After the Military Police wrap up the investigation into Styles’ shooting, Osborne is about to leave the base for the night and Hardy tells her that everything’s fine and all they have to do, concerning the shooting, is “Tell the story right.” Osborne recalls hearing that phrase during both Kendall and Pike’s stories, describing how members of the conspiracy planned to cover up West’s death.
 
Osborne suspects Hardy may be involved, especially since he hated West and because Section 8 contains West’s former trainees. She tails him out of the base, and sees Pike run out from some roadside bushes and get into Hardy’s jeep. She follows them by car, and then by foot through the streets of Panama City crowded with costumed revelers and watches as the two of them enter a doorway with a big eight ball hanging above it, revealing it as their headquarters. Osborne sneaks through a long hallway, down a flight of stairs, and up behind Hardy and Pike, with her weapon drawn, believing that they are behind both Section 8 and West’s murder. Then West, very much alive, walks up behind her. Castro, Dunbar and Nuñez are also there, fixing breakfast. Hardy reveals them as his colleagues.
 
They reveal to Osborne that Section 8 is actually a black-ops anti-drug unit led by Tom Hardy (who is addressed as “Colonel”). The “Section-8” insane-mercenary story is a cover to spook the cartels. “Dunbar”, “Castro”, “Nuñez” and “Pike” (not their names) infiltrated the base to investigate the cocaine trafficking that was going on, and discovered Mueller, Kendall and Vilmer were responsible. West, not realizing Styles was also involved, informed him of the findings. Styles responded by ordering Mueller and Kendall to kill West. The training mission ordered by West was in fact a covert Section-8 set-up to get rid of Mueller and Kendall, faking West’s death (in order to transfer him to Section 8) and Hardy had been called to the base by the coded message from “Dunbar” to confirm Styles’ and Vilmer’s involvement. West and Hardy then offer Osborne a job.
Basic is an interesting military mystery thriller, strong, convincing performances by the leads helps sell it, combined with a twisting story. That arguably is a little bit confusing at times, while your interpretation of the film come the finale, will hinge on the ending itself.

REVIEW: SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Tim Daly (Wings)
Dana Delaney (Hand of God)
David Kaufman (Justice League: Doom)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Joseph Bologna (The Nanny)
George Dzundza (Species II)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Mike Farrell (MASH)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Joely Fisher (Til Death)
Victor Brandt (T.J. Hooker)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Finola Hughes (General Hospital)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Malcolm McDowell (Heroes)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final ConflicT)
Brad Garrett (Finding Nemo)
Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Larry Drake (Firefly)
Michael York (Logans Run)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Ron Glass (Firefly)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Marion Ross (That 70s Show)
Cam Clarke (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin)
Sandra Bernmhard (2 Broke Girls)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: TNG)
Arleen Sorkin (Duet)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Bob Hastings (McHale’s Navy)
Robert Costanzo (Total Recall)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (77 Sunset Strip)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Jennifer Lien (Star Trek: Voyager)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Peter Gallagher (American Beauty)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Paul Williams(The Muppet Movie)
John Glover (Smallville)
Henry Silva (Above The Law)
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: TTW)
Jason Priestly (Tru Calling)
Chad Lowe (Unfaithful)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 2)
Billy West (Futurama)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
Miguel Sandoval (Medium)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Olivia Hussey (IT)
David Warner (Tron)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)

I think people can generally divided into two categories: Batman people or Superman people. Either you are into the dark, gloomy and atmospheric or the optimistic and all-American. I’ve always considered myself a Batman guy. As such, I was estatic when “Batman: The Animated Series” hit the airwaves. An excellent portrayal of the Caped Crusader, it set a new standard for cartoons, not on in terms of the look, but also the stories. Cartoons didn’t have to be made for children, but could aim higher.

So after the success of “Batman: TAS,” it was only natural for Superman to get a new chance at the small screen. The creative minds behind the Dark Knight’s cartoon renaissance took on Big Blue, and took him to heights not seen since the early Fleischer cartoons made him the original animated superhero standard bearer. By sticking to the character’s roots, but not allowing themselves to be restricted by a slavish attention to the comic books or movies, the creators created a cartoon Superman that fans could embrace, but those without a comic-book education would enjoy as well.

The majority of the episodes follow something of a pattern, as Supes faces a challenge from a villain, is overcome and figures out how to overcome that challenge just in time to get the bad guy before 22 minutes are over (unless it’s a multi-episode story arc.) When the show shakes free those format shackles is the moment when the series shines. Episodes like the series-opening three-show “The Last Son of Krypton,” “Speed Demons,” which co-stars The Flash and “My Girl,” which introduces the all-grown-up Lana Lang, are among some of the most enjoyable in this volume. That’s not to say that the straightforward adventures aren’t fun, as “Two’s a Crowd” and “Fun and Games” show.

Superman aficionados will enjoy appearances by Toyman, Bibbo, Metallo, Brainiac, Darkseid and a raucous two-episode appearance by the Main Man, Lobo. There’s also plenty of celebrity voices to listen for, including Lori Petty, Tim Daly, Dana Delaney, Ron Pearlman, Leslie Easterbrook, Lauren Tom, Brad Garrett, Mike Farrell, Shelley Fabares, Christopher McDonald, Malcolm McDowell, Bud Cort, Joe Bologna, Michael York and Joely Fisher. If you don’t know which characters they play, I won’t ruin it. It adds another layer of enjoyment to watching the show.

these shows are great, with great writing and animation in every episode. Highlights from this second volume include the episodes “Identitiy Crisis” which introduces Bizarro and “Heavy Metal” which introduces fellow superhero Steel, who teams up with Superman to battle Metallo.

“World’s Finest” is a three-part episode that teams Superman with Batman for the first time as they both take on their respective arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor and the Joker.

Other episodes feature appearances by a variety of villains and guest heroes – Dr. Fate shows up in “The Hand of Fate” – but the best episode of the collection has no guest appearance by a crime fighter or a super villain. “The Late Mr. Kent” is perhaps the most complex and best written of the 18 episodes in this volume – and perhaps the entire series. The story revolves around Clark Kent’s attempts to clear a man on death row before he is executed. For his troubles, someone tries to kill the intrepid reporter, and most people believe he is dead, leaving Superman alone, without his alter ego to rely upon. For a show that clocks in at less than thirty minutes, it offers some complex insights into the relationship between mild-mannered Clark Kent and his crime-fighting counterpart Superman.

The main arc of this season borrows from the comic book universe and brings Darkseid and his homeworld to the forefront. Hinted at earlier in the show, it’s in this third volume that the Lord of Apokolips finally gets his payoff – and his payback. In a trio of two-parters, Apokolips… Now!, Little Girl Lost, and Legacy, Superman fights one of his most ruthless foes in a series of episodes that offer some excellent action, drama, and science fiction fun.

While these episodes are very faithful to the mythos, we’ve also got a great selection of original stories that go to prove that with a character like Superman, there is no limit to the stories that you can tell. One of my favorites is Knight Time. When Batman goes missing, Superman pays a visit to Gotham City and tries to find out where his friend has gone. Supes inadvertently ends up masquerading as Batman – dressing up in the Dark Knight’s costume and everything! – and teams up with Robin to solve the mystery of the missing Bruce Wayne. Not only is the episode entertaining, but it’s also got a great sense of humor. Seeing Superman do his best impersonation of Batman is wonderful – Clark doesn’t know which utility pockets contain what, and his attempts at being grim (nodding his head instead of speaking) are great.

Watching these shows you get the feeling that it was during this final stretch of episodes that the show’s producers were finding new ways of playing with the formula that they had designed, and perfected, with both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. Not only do these Superman episodes have a lot of two-parters, but we’ve also got some great guest-stars; it seems that this show is the precursor to Justice League.

We’ve got heroes, Kyle Rayner from In Brightest Day, and villains, Ra’s Al Ghul in The Demon Reborn, and everyone in between – everyone’s favorite master of the sea, Aquaman in Fish Story. We also get an expansion of the Superman supporting cast when Supergirl makes a welcome appearance in the Little Girl Lost two-parter.

In one of the episodes found in this collection, Superman pays his final respects to a recently departed friend. In the graveyard, Superman comes to realize something very important: “In the end, the world didn’t really need a Super man. Just a brave one.” This show gives us a character who is both brave and super. It gives us a real hero. It gives us Superman… as good as he’s ever been.