REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: APOKOLIPS WAR

Starring

Matt Ryan (Legends of Tomorrow)
Jerry O’Connell (Piranha 3D)
Taissa Farmiga (The Nun)
Stuart Allan (Rise of The Guardians)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Ray Chase (Your Name)
Jason O’Mara (One For The Money)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Rainn Wilson (Super)
Rebecca Romijn (Satanic Panic)
Camilla Luddington (The Pact 2)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly betty)
Shemar Moore (S.W.A.T.)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Sachie Alessio (The Lost One)
Roger R. Cross (First Wave)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)

Shemar Moore, Jason O'Mara, Matt Ryan, and Camilla Luddington in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)Following two failed attempts to destroy Earth, Darkseid and his Furies have conquered countless worlds. At the Watchtower, the Justice League, joined by new members John Constantine and his lover Zatanna, plan a counter-attack to Darkseid’s conquest but unbeknownst to them, they are being watched by Darkseid through Cyborg. The League travel to Apokolips while the Teen Titans remain on Earth as a “home-guard”. Upon arrival, the League are attacked by “Paradooms”; genetic hybrids of Parademons and Doomsday. Several heroes are killed during the attack while Darkseid dismantles Cyborg and replaces his parts with Apokoliptian technology, depowers Superman by injecting liquid kryptonite into his body, enslaves Batman into his mind control with the Mobius Chair, imprisons Barry Allen to eternally run on a treadmill powering the planet, and turns the remaining heroes into mechanical Furies. Elsewhere, Zatanna is killed by Paradooms as John hesitantly flees back to Earth.Hynden Walch in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)Two years later, Darkseid has successfully taken over Earth with Lex Luthor being a New God representative, reporting to Batman on progress of the devices called “Reapers” being sent to mine Earth’s core. The surviving heroes blame Clark Kent, Superman’s human identity, for their failure. Clark rescues a depressed Raven in search for John for a locator spell to track Damian Wayne, so that they can use him to free Batman. After locating Damian, Raven teleports the group there which severely weakens her due to her father Trigon’s attempts to escape Raven’s magical borne prison. After recruiting Damian, they then teleport to Metropolis where Lois Lane has recruited former members of the Suicide Squad, now led by Harley Quinn following Amanda Waller’s death from cancer. With the team gathered, Lois plans to use the Boom Tube gate from LexCorp to return to Apokolips to free Batman after Darkseid leaves to conquer the planet Oa. At the building, they are confronted by Lex who reveals he was just working undercover. Lex then teleports Clark’s team to Apokolips, while Lois, Lex and the Suicide Squad stay behind to guard the portal.Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)Having discovered Lex’s betrayal, Batman informs Darkseid who sends his Furies to Apokolips while Batman sends Paradooms to LexCorp. On Apokolips, Clark’s team finds Barry and breaks him free from the treadmill. John also sees into Barry’s mind and discovers he was the one who caused the Flashpoint,[d] leading into the present-day’s events. They then discover Cyborg also under Darkseid’s mind control but are confronted by the Furies. John frees Diana using her Lasso of Truth, and she stays behind to fend off the Furies. He then performs a techno spell on Cyborg to free him as well just as Batman and Darkseid return. Darkseid orders Batman to kill Damian but hesitates after remembering the night his parents were killed, thus freeing Batman but at the cost of Damian’s life. This angers Raven, which releases Trigon with John offering himself as a host, but the demon possesses Clark instead and kills John.Jerry O'Connell and Rosario Dawson in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)Back at LexCorp, Lois’ team become surrounded by Paradooms. Before blowing up the building and sacrificing herself, Lois transmits a goodbye message to Apokolips. This triggers Clark to break free of Trigon’s control and regain his powers. Meanwhile, John is briefly taken to the afterlife where Zatanna reveals that Batman wanted John as a backup plan should the original assault fail, she therefore made him flee using her magic in the beginning. Now free of his guilt for running, John is revived by Zatanna as Raven also revives Damian. Raven and John give Trigon his physical body back to fight Darkseid as a distraction. Cyborg teleports the Paradooms back to Apokolips and the heroes to Earth before creating a black hole that drags Darkseid, Trigon, and Apokolips into oblivion, sacrificing himself.Jason O'Mara and Tony Todd in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)Despite their victory, Batman reveals that 31% of the Earth’s molten core has been lost, dooming the planet as the Earth’s rotation will be affected. To prevent this, John convinces Barry to erase this timeline and create a second Flashpoint, despite Barry’s promise to his wife Iris to not do it again. As he does so, the heroes watch their timeline being reset while Damian and Raven kiss. This erases everything prior to the events of the movie with Barry informing everyone of what is to come, leaving their new upcoming fate in the war with Darkseid unknown, but, as John told Barry, would be better than where they were at now.Jerry O'Connell and Rebecca Romijn in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)This is the greatest dc movie to ever been done it’s shocking, sad and incredibly entertaining and the best thing about it, it’s an original dc story.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 5

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Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Hartley Sawyer (The Young and The Restless)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (Cam)
Chris Klein (American Pie)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

Jessica Parker Kennedy in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / NOtable Guest Cast

Keiynan Lonsdale (Love, Simon)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Daniel Cudmore (Twilight: New Moon)
Erin Cummings (Bitch Slap)
Susan Walters (The Vampire Diaries)
Kiana Madeira (Trinkets)
Kyle Secor (Veronica Mars)
Troy James (Hellboy)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Carlo Marks (Smallville)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Lossen Chambers (Unspeakable)
LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Teddy Sears (Chicago Fire)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Chad Rook (War For The POTA)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Tyler Hoechilin (Teen Wolf)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Elizabeth Tulloch (The Artist)
Ruby Rose (The Meg)
Reina Hardesty (StartUp)
Gabrielle Walsh (East Los High)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Your Mother)
Britne Oldford (American Horror Story)
Victoria Park (Plus One)
Kimberly Williams-Paisley (The Christmas Chronicles)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Zibby Allen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (Godzilla)
Kathryn Gallagher (You)
BD Wong (Gotham)
Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead)

Hartley Sawyer and Carlos Valdes in The Flash (2014)Odd as it may sound, The Flash may very well now be the flagship show in the Arrowverse. When you think about it, the series’ ascension to that spot makes sense, especially when you factor in how it’s consistently The CW’s top rated show. Plus, it often charts new course for the DC TV landscape as a whole, which I’ll discuss in just a bit.In the meantime, though, I’m going to shower the next leg in the Scarlet Speedster’s journey with much praise after being left jaded by what I thought was a parabolic fourth season. Those familiar with this site may remember how I didn’t exactly care for how our most recent trips to Central City became downright farcical at times, whereas the premiere I’ve just had the honor of screening found the proper balance achieved in earlier seasons.Grant Gustin and Candice Patton in The Flash (2014)Maybe it’s just me, but Nora West-Allen AKA XS, played by the adorable Jessica Parker Kennedy, gave this show the shot in the arm that it needed. After being left stranded in the present, Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris’ (Candice Patton) daughter from the future manages to strengthen the family aspect that’s been a solid cornerstone since day one, while also taking the action scenes to the next level. Being someone who digs legacy heroes, I was delighted to hear Nora begin season 5 with narration similar to that of Barry’s, thereby letting us know that she’s a chip off the old block and, yes, she’s the fastest woman alive in her native time period.Chris Klein in The Flash (2014)In very short order, I became convinced that Nora is quite possibly the role Kennedy was born to play, and is quickly becoming my favorite thing about the show. Believe me, it won’t take long for you to warm up to the father-daughter dynamic shared between her and Barry. It’s a tad awkward as one would expect at first, sure, but the two bond before long.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Seeing as how this is a comic book-based series, their first instance of Take Your Child To Work Day comes in the form of a run-in with Gridlock (Daniel Cudmore), our first freak of the week for the fall. In truth, it’s probably best that we get someone of lesser power to start off things before organically building up to the new big bad, Cicada (Chris Klein). Make no mistake, the Flash himself isn’t forgotten in the premiere, as this is still very much his headlining gig. What’s more is that longtime viewers will be rewarded as he runs the costuming gamut by donning the suits he wore in seasons 1 and 2, before settling on his new threads.Chris Klein and Danielle Panabaker in The Flash (2014)Continuing on that note, the comic aficionados among you should geek out upon seeing said duds emerging from a ring, an element from the source material that’s finally been utilized by the producers. As for getting it back inside, well, that sounds like a job for Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) and his magnificent mind. Rest assured that a piece of jewelry isn’t the only thing brought back from the future because – get this – Nora gives quite the nod to Batman Beyond by using “schway” in a sentence on multiple occasions. Not only that, but the DC Easter eggs don’t stop there – her name-drops may be laying the groundwork for the next five years of Arrowverse programming, so be sure to pay close attention.Danielle Panabaker and Jessica Parker Kennedy in The Flash (2014)Now, I’m not going to get into major spoilers, but I will say that stuff established all the way back in the pilot episode is revisited and factors into what’s to come. The sharper guys and gals reading this may have a few good guesses after learning that, so just keep on formulating your own theories until it’s showtime. At this point, I imagine lovers of Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) are wondering what’s going on with her character and the unfolding mystery involving her past. Though her alter ego of Killer Frost has yet to resurface, some sizable breadcrumbs are provided, each of which will definitely factor heavily into future episodes. Bank on it.The Flash (2014)In the eyes of this critic, showrunner Todd Helbing and company have rediscovered what’s quintessentially The Flash. Hand to Zod, the creative minds behind the series look to be returning it to the glory days of seasons 1 and 2 – and that’s no joke. These folks have put together one of the strongest premieres this show has ever produced, and it’s guaranteed to leave people talking. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next because, you know, it’s not like I can run so fast that I can time travel or anything.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 2

 

Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Keiynan Lonsdale (THe Turning)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

Tom Cavanagh, Adam Copeland, Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, and Carlos Valdes in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Victor Garber (The Orville)
Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)
Robbie Amell (The Duff)
Teddy Sears (The Politician)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Bones)
Isabella Hofmann (Burlesque)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Adam Copeland (Highlander: Endgame)
Aaron Craven (Izombie)
Logan Williams (When Calls Your Heart)
Shantel VanSanten (For All Mankind)
Vanessa Williams (Candyman)
Tony Todd (Final Destination)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Malese Jow (The Shanara Chronicles)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Franz Drameh (See)
Demore Barnes (Titans)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Amanda Pays (Max Headroom)
Greg Kean (Dead Like Me)
Kirby Morrow (Staragte Atlantis)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Violett Beane (God Friended Me)
Ciara Renée (The Big Bang Theory)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Willa Holland (Legion)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Neal McDonough (Van Helsing)
Casper Crump (The Legend of Tarzan)
Falk Hentschel (Knight and Day)
Anna Hopkins (Shadowhunters)
Jack Moore (Repiblic of Sarah)
Liam McIntyre (The Legend of Hercules)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Morena Baccarin (Deadpool)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Allison Paige (Good Trouble)
Andy Mientus (Gone)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Jason Mewes (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Greg Finley (Izombie)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)

Teddy Sears in The Flash (2014)The Flash’s first season has become the benchmark by which all other DC Comics-based shows on The CW are judged. It offered a truly winning blend of humor, heart, and romance, and superhero action, culminating in a terrific season finale that showed just how much emotional depth there is to the story of the fastest man alive. The cast and crew faced a real uphill battle in living up to the standard with Season 2. And more often than not, they succeeded. This season met and occasionally even exceeded the heights of its predecessor.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Season 2 got off to a solid start as the writers explored the fallout of Season 1’s big cliffhanger. But rather than pick up right where “Fast Enough” left off – with a giant temporal vortex threatening to swallow up Central City – “The Man Who Saved Central City” jumped ahead several months to the somber aftermath. The question wasn’t whether Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) could save his city once again, it was what kind of life Barry would return to when he got back. As we saw, it was a pretty lonely existence. The premiere opened on a surprisingly somber note, but one that offered an effective look at Barry’s fragile emotional state and the current status quo of Team Flash, including Cisco, (Carlos Valdes), Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) Iris (Candice Patton) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin).Tony Todd in The Flash (2014)That darkness was a way to bring the gang back together while reminding viewers that many challenges awaited Barry even after defeating Reverse-Flash (Tom Cavanagh).Image result for the flash versus zoomEven as those early episodes touched base with some familiar faces from Season 1 (including Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold and Peyton List’s Golden Glider), they also spent a great deal of time setting the stage for the next major villain in Barry’s life, Zoom. Rather than continue to rely on the familiar Season 1 formula, where Barry and his friends battled various metahuman villains spawned by the particle accelerator accident – this year they confronted foes like Atom-Smasher (Adam Copeland) and Sand Demon (Kett Turton) who crossed over from Earth-2 to Earth-1. The addition of parallel worlds this season wasn’t just the latest example of Greg Berlanti and friends delving into all corners of DC’s mythology, it was a fun shake-up that resulted in a wealth of both comedy and drama.David Sobolov and Danielle Panabaker in The Flash (2014)Seeing characters like Cisco, Caitlin and Linda Park (Malese Jow) face off with their alternate universe doppelgangers never got old.No character benefited more from the doppelganger concept than Harrison Wells. Wells might have died at the end of Season 1, but thankfully the writers found a way to bring the character back in a very different role. Earth-2’s Dr. Wells made the trip to Earth-1 and began assisting Team Flash in their ongoing fight against Zoom. Cavanagh excelled in his rejiggered role. He consistently played this new Wells as a much different character than the cold, calculating villain of Season 1. This Wells was all nervous, agitated energy, driven by nothing but a desire to stop Zoom and rescue his daughter, Jesse (Violett Beane).Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)His character arc was among the strongest of the season, as Wells formed close bonds with his new friends and worked to counteract some of the destruction his counterpart wreaked on Barry’s life. Most of the cast benefited from the ongoing Earth-1/Earth-2 status quo this year. Grant Gustin was frequently a highlight of the show as he explored Barry’s lingering guilt and heartache after briefly reuniting with his mother and tried to disprove the parting message from earth-1 Wells – the idea that he’d never allow himself to be truly happy. Wells’ words proved distressingly accurate and on-point over the course of the season. Barry went through a lot of emotional highs and lows this season, including a second tear-jerking, phone call reunion with his mother in “Welcome to Earth-2” and multiple traumatic clashes with Zoom. To their credit, the writers didn’t try to force a happy ending out of Barry’s arc, either. By the end of the finale, Barry was at an even lower point than he was a year before, which fuelled his decision to make another ill-advised trip back in time.Mark Hamill in The Flash (2014)He’ll no doubt be dealing with the consequences of that act for some time to come.Image result for the flash welcome to earth-2Both Cisco and Caitlin frequently stood out this year, as well. Cisco always served as a reliable source of comic relief, particularly as his bond with Wells deepened and the two bickered with one another. But on a deeper level, this season allowed Cisco to come into his own as a hero. He grew more familiar with his powers, even finally adopting the name and trademark glasses of Vibe. He caught a glimpse of what he could become when he met his doppelganger, Reverb, and began testing the limits of his courage and his abilities. Similarly, Caitlin was shown a glimpse of the villain she could become when she met Killer Frost. But even after her failed romance with Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) and subsequent ordeal at the hands of Zoom, Caitlin never lost her heroic streak.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)If the writers ever decide to morph her into Killer Frost for real, that’s going to be one devastating emotional gut punch.The Flash also deserves credit for the way the writers are able to weave romantic drama into the narrative without it coming across as forced. The ongoing romance between Barry and Patty Spivot (Shantel Van Santen) was always entertaining, thanks in large part to the stellar chemistry between Gustin and Van Santen. And if Iris was never the most compelling character in any given episode, she definitely improved this year thanks to her more proactive behaviour and her deepening bond with Barry.Image result for the flash invincibleThen there was the debut of Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) to the Team Flash lineup. Looking back, I’m not entirely convinced Wally needed to be introduced this year.Danielle Panabaker and Robbie Amell in The Flash (2014)With everything else going on this season it didn’t always feel as though the character received the attention he deserved. But Lonsdale proved to be a solid addition to the cast nonetheless. And despite all the foreshadowing, at least the writers weren’t overzealous in terms of rushing Wally into becoming a speedster. There’s plenty of time for that in a later season.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThere was a lot to love about Season 2. At its best, this season was easily a rival to its predecessor. “Welcome to Earth-2” stands as probably the best single episode the show has delivered to date, with episodes like “Flash Back,” “Rupture” and “The Runaway Dinosaur” also ranking among the best.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe Villain of the year was Zoom.Tony Todd and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)This villain was tricky in that he was simultaneously one of the best aspects of the season. Zoom left a pretty strong impression during his first clash with Barry in “Enter Zoom.” Between the demonic costume and the gravely rasp of voice actor Tony Todd, Zoom was by far the scariest and most physically imposing villain Team Flash had yet encountered. That certainly counted for something. Zoom’s characterization was even more intriguing in the second half of the season unfolded. We learned much more about the villain’s past and motivations, including the big twist that Zoom was actually Hunter Zolomon/Jay Garrick and that Team Flash’s newest ally was no ally at all. With all the emphasis on doppelgangers this season, it was fitting that Zoom himself was really Barry’s dark mirror. Both men had childhood’s defined by similar tragedies and grew up to become speedsters. But whereas Barry had a close circle of friends and family to help guide him along his way, Hunter had no one.Tom Cavanagh and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)He was utterly alone on his world and all others, and that gave the villain the humanity and pathos he needed. And it was nice to see the writers acknowledge just how crucial characters like Joe, Cisco and Caitlin are to the show. Without them, Barry would be as empty as Zoom.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe season finale, “The Race of His Life,” was a great way to wrap up Season Zoom’s defeat was satisfying and his metamorphosis at the end was intriguing,Teddy Sears in The Flash (2014)Also in the finale there was the reveal of the real Jay Garrick, an act which allowed Shipp to don a Flash costume for the first time in decades, then there was the final cliffhanger, with Barry traveling back in time and almost certainly sparking the beginning of a Flashpoint-inspired status quo for the series. That alone is cause to be excited for Season 3.Image result for the flash the race of his lifeThe Flash season 2 was firing on all cylinders and continued through too the end top form an awesome season and leaves you hanging waiting for season 3.

REVIEW: VIXEN

 

Starring

Megalyn Echikunwoke (That 70s Show)
Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls)
Emily Bett Rickards (Arrow)
Sean Patrick Thomas (Save The Last Dance)
Grant Gustin (The Flash)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Kari Wuhrer (Eight Legged Freaks)
Toks Olagundoye (The Neighbours)
Kimberly Brooks (Jimmy Neutron)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Franz Drameh (See)
Victor Garber (The Orville)

Megalyn Echikunwoke in Vixen (2015)When Mari returns to Detroit after searching for information on her birth parents, she ends up in jail for stabbing a potential employer in the hand with a pen. Her foster father, Chuck, posts her bail, and the two are confronted in an alley by some thugs looking to take Mari’s Tantu Totem, which she inherited from her birth parents at a young age.Mari uses the totem’s powers to defeat the thugs, and the next day, visits Professor Macalester hoping to learn more about the totem and her family. Elsewhere, at S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco becomes aware of Mari and her powers, and the Flash and the Arrow go to Detroit to investigate. In Detroit, Mari shows Chuck the totem’s powers, when Barry and Oliver show up at their house. Convinced they want to imprison her, she flees, with the two heroes giving chase.Megalyn Echikunwoke, Brandon Routh, Katie Cassidy, Stephen Amell, and Grant Gustin in Vixen (2015)Finally getting Mari to stop, the Flash and Arrow try to convince Mari to let them help her. Not trusting them, Mari leaves and returns to Professor Macalester in hopes of getting more answers.Unbeknownst to Mari, Macalester is working for Kuasa, who shows up looking to retrieve the totem. Unable to remove the totem from her neck, Mari tries to escape and is shot by Kuasa’s men. She wakes up in an abandoned African village near the river of Zambezi, where Kuasa reveals she is her older sister and this is her birthplace, telling her the history of the totem and the village’s destruction. Kuasa reveals she was chosen to protect the totem and attempts to sever the bond it has with Mari. The attempt fails and Mari flees, though she passes out shortly after, allowing Kuasa to claim the totem. After coming to, the animal spirits of the totem confront Mari, telling her she is its true wielder. With their support, Mari returns to the village and defeats Kuasa and her followers, regaining the totem.Megalyn Echikunwoke, Brandon Routh, and Katie Cassidy in Vixen (2015)Back in Detroit, Mari begins fighting crime as the vigilante “Vixen”, finally knowing her purpose in life, with Arrow and Flash promising to offer assistance should she ever ask.Months after returning to Detroit, Mari attends a lecture by Macalester on the five totems of Zambezi, which grant their wearers the powers of the elemental forces–air, earth, water, fire, and spirit. He reveals that the fire totem has been found, and would be on display at the Detroit Museum. Mari confronts Macalester about kidnapping her, and he tells her her Tantu Totem is also one of the lost totems of Zambezi, the spirit totem. Mari gets a call from Cisco to help the Flash and Firestorm defeat Weather Wizard. Mari ends up in the hospital after fighting Weather Wizard, and learns that the fire totem and other gems had been stolen from the Detroit Museum. Searching for the person who performed the heist, she eventually learns that Benatu Eshu has stolen the fire totem, traveling from Zambezi to claim it.Megalyn Echikunwoke in Vixen (2015)As she confronts him, Eshu claims to know Mari’s birth mother.The two fight, but Eshu proves too powerful for Mari. Mari goes to Macalester to find a way to stop the fire totem and he suggests they visit Kuasa. Finding her in an African hospital, Kuasa tells them that Eshu was a general who raided their village in search of Kuasa and Mari’s mother and the Tantu Totem. She suggests that in order to defeat Eshu, they must find the water totem, which leads them to Star City. Once they find the water totem, Kuasa double crosses Mari and takes the totem for herself. Mari gives chase and is able to contain Kuasa with the help of Black Canary and the Atom. Felicity Smoak informs the heroes that Eshu is rampaging through Detroit, which makes Mari reluctantly ask Kuasa to help them defeat Eshu.Megalyn Echikunwoke in Vixen (2015)The heroes travel to Detroit to confront Eshu, where Macalester calls Mari and tells her that each totem has a core, which, if destroyed, will cause the totem to lose their powers.The heroes are quickly overpowered, and despite her use of the water totem, Eshu kills Kuasa, leaving Mari the only one remaining. Mari is able to subdue Eshu underwater to weaken him, and takes the fire totem. Macalester arrives to tell her that in order sever Eshu’s ties to the totem, it needs to be smashed by someone with great strength. Mari summons many spirits from the animal kingdom and is able to destroy the totem. Later, she joins Green Arrow, Flash, Black Canary and Atom in Coast City to take on a threat.Vixen is based on the DC Character Mari McCabe / Vixen, a costumed superhero crime-fighter with the power to mimic the abilities of any animal that has ever lived on Earth.Megalyn Echikunwoke in Vixen (2015)The series is set in the same fictional universe as Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow. The “Movie” is the entire series of shorts put together as a film. A lot of the stuff that Vixen can do would be very hard to pull off on a TV budget, which is why introducing her this way is so important. I’ll admit that the 5 minute segments can be a bit annoying at times, but it gives that need for the next chapter so all-in-all, the formula works. It’s great to see the series as one whole entity.

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 1

 

Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Rick Cosnett (The Vampire Diaries)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
Chad Rook (Timeless)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Al Sapienza (Suits)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Fulvio Cecere (Dark Angel)
Olivia Cheng (Warrior)
Jennifer Cheon Garcia (Van Helsing)
Brendon Zub (Batwoman)
Logan Williams (When Calls Your Heart)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Robbie Amell (The Duff)
Anthony Carrigan (Gotham)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)
Kelly Frye (Criminal Minds)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Greg Finley (Izombie)
Robert Knepper (Cult)
Morena Baccarin (Deadpool)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Paul Anthony (Blade: Trinity)
Anna Hopkins (Shadowhunters)
Amanda Pays (Max Headroom)
David Milchard (Sanctuary)
Roger Howarth (One Life To Live)
Andy Mientus (Gone)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Victor Garber (The Orville)
Malese Jow (The Shanara Chronicles)
Britne Oldford (Blindspot)
Bill Dow (Izombie)
Isabella Hofmann (Burlesque)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
Chase Masterson (Star Trek: DS9)
Liam McIntyre (The Legend of Hercules)
Nicholas Gonzalez (Sleepy Hollow)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Paul Blackthorne (Arrow)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Matt Letscher (Her)
Bre Blair (Game of Silence)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Bones)
Devon Graye (13 Sins)
Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Danielle Nicolet (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Peter Bryant (See)
Doug Jones (Star Trek Discovery)
Ciara Renée (The Big Bang Theory)

 

The Flash was unique in its first season in the sense that it never really needed to find itself or grow into something better. It simply started strong and continually got better over the course of seven months. Much of the credit rests with the fact that the Flash was hardly starting from scratch. This show is the first spinoff of Arrow and its growing superhero universe. It features many of the same producers as Arrow and several writers responsible for Arrow’s stellar second season. Not only did The Flash not have to waste much time establishing its universe, it didn’t even have to introduce viewers to its protagonist. Grant Gustin debuted as a pre-speedster Barry Allen midway through Arrow’s second season, culminating with the accident that created the Flash. By the time this show came around, viewers already knew Barry, what made him tick and what fueled his particular quest.Gustin rapidly grew into the role of Barry Allen once the spotlight was placed on him. Gustin brought a winning blend of youthful energy, latent pathos and Peter Parker-esque awkwardness to the table. He gave us a Barry Allen that’s impossible not to connect with. Barry is immensely likable. He’s less intense than Stephen Amell’s Oliver Queen. He’s driven by tragedy but anchored by a small family unit. He’s faithful to the comic book Barry Allen. One of the main reasons for The Flash’s success, though, was its supporting cast. So much of the drama and the emotional core of the show centered around Barry’s ties to his core circle of friends, family and allies.Kelly Frye and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)There was his adoptive father, Joe West (Jesse L. Martin). There was his adoptive sister/unrequited love, Iris (Candice Patton), a dichotomy that never came across as creepy or incest-y as it could have. There was his newfound father figure/mentor in Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). There were his new friends/partners in metahuman-busting, Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes). And rounding out the core cast was Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett), Barry’s colleague and sometimes rival/sometimes ally.The show exploited these various relationships to great effect. Above all, the father/son relationships between Barry/Joe and Barry/Wells were the source of great drama. Martin and Cavanagh were the MVPs among the cast. Martin brought a crucial warmth to his role as a concerned father and a man simply baffled by the increasingly bizarre state of life in Central City. Cavanagh, meanwhile, helped mold Wells into the show’s most captivating figure. It quickly became apparent that Wells was far more than he seemed, eventually emerging as the primary antagonist of Season 1.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)But thanks to Cavanagh’s performance, it was always apparent that Wells cared for Barry even as he plotted and schemed and tormented the hero.Caitlin and Cisco became increasingly compelling characters in their own right as the season progressed. Caitlin, initially cold and a little haughty, grew as her relationship with Barry blossomed and her past relationship with Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell) came to light. Cisco was largely a comic relief character at first. And while he remained the show’s most reliable source of comedy, he too was fleshed out and developed a father/son connection to Wells of his own.Iris and Eddie were a little more uneven when it came to their respective roles within the show. At times it was easy to forget about Eddie given his tendency to drop out of view. However, he definitely became an integral player in the final couple months of the season.Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)I appreciated how the writers never took a one-note approach with Eddie. He may have been Barry’s romantic rival, but he was never written as a bully or a jerk, just a guy with his own set of hopes and desires. As for Iris, there were some episodes where she filled what seemed to be a mandatory quota as far as superhero relationship drama. The Barry/Iris/Eddie love triangle definitely had its moments, but some weeks it came across as pointless filler. The big offender was “Out of Time,” which featured a terrifically epic climax but dull build-up. The premiere episode, did a fine job of laying out the cast of characters and basic status quo for the show. The idea that the STAR Labs particle accelerator created a new wave of metahumans alongside the Flash offered an easy way to start building a roster of villains and put Barry’s growing speed powers to the test. Luckily, it wasn’t long before The Flash began moving away from the “villain of the week” approach and building larger, overarching storylines. Bigger villains like Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) were introduced, paving the way for the Flash.The show played its part in expanding the CW’s superhero universe, introducing Firestorm and crossing paths with Arrow at several points. The mid-season finale, “The Man In the Yellow Suit,” offered the full introduction of the Reverse-Flash and set the stage for a conflict that would drive the show all the way until the season finale. As that conflict developed, the question of just who Dr. Wells was and what he had planned for Barry became paramount. Wells symbolized just how much the show was willing to play with expectations and shake up the traditional comic book mythology. I noted in my review of the premiere episode that the show was showing signs of being too predictable for seasoned comic book readers. It wasn’t long before that concern faded away.Looking back at these overarching conflicts and how they were developed over the course of the season, it’s clear that The Flash succeeded because it managed to adopt the serialized nature of superhero comics so well. Each new episode offered its fair share of twists and surprises, culminating in a dramatic cliffhanger that left viewers craving the next installment.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)It served as a reminder that, in many ways, TV is an inherently better medium for superheroes than film. A weekly series can do serialized storytelling in a way a couple superhero movies every year can’t. The show started out big with the premiere episode, pitting Barry against the first Weather Wizard and a massive tornado. Even that was chump change compared to later conflicts. Barry’s battle with the second Weather Wizard culminated with the hero stopping a tidal wave at supersonic speed. But the most impressive technical accomplishment was more subtle. The late-season episode “Grodd Lives” introduced viewers to Gorilla Grodd, a completely computer-animated villain who looked far more convincing than we had any right to.Mark Hamill in The Flash (2014)Perhaps one of the strongest episode of Season 1 was “Tricksters.” That episode paid terrific homage to the short-lived 1990 Flash series as Mark Hamill reprised the part of the prank-obsessed villain the Trickster and former Flash John Wesley Shipp was given his most in-depth role as Barry’s father, Henry. Not only was “Tricksters” a fun love letter to the old show, it proved that this series can venture into full-on camp territory without losing sight of itself.Ultimately, though, it’s the finale episode that stands out as the crowning moment of Season 1. The show bucked the usual trend by getting the physical confrontation with Reverse-Flash out of the way in the penultimate episode (via a team-up between Flash, Firestorm and the Arrow, no less). “Fast Enough” wasn’t concerned with the visceral element of the Flash/Reverse-Flash rivalry so much as the psychological one. The finale was intensely emotional, forcing Barry to decide just how much he was willing to sacrifice to save his mother. Just about every actor delivered their best work of the season. It was a tremendous payoff to a year’s worth of build-up.Jesse L. Martin in The Flash (2014)The finale ended the season with a big question mark of a cliffhanger. The great thing about the way the season wrapped is that now the door is open for practically anything. The finale touched on the idea of the multiverse – other worlds inhabited by other Flashes like Jay Garrick. The Flash didn’t suffer from the familiar freshman growing pains most new shows experience in their first season. This show built from the framework Arrow laid out and made use of an experienced writing and production team, a great cast, and a clear, focused plan for exploring Barry Allen’s first year on the job. The show was never afraid to delve into the weird and wild elements of DC lore, but it always stayed grounded thanks to a combination of humor and strong character relationships.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE FLASH – RUNNING TO STAND STILL

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RUNNING TO STAND STILL
MAIN CAST
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (Heroes)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Law & Order)
Keiynan Lonsdale (Insurgent)
GUEST CAST
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Wentworth Miller (Prison Break)
Teddy Sears (American Horror Story)
Shantel VanSanten (Beauty and The BVeast 2012)
Patrick Sabongui (Stargate: Atlantis)
Violett Beane (The Leftovers)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
It seems we can always rely on The Flash to deliver a great mid-season finale that’s not just a brilliant instalment of the show, but also an unashamed Christmas episode with presents, Turkey and festive soul-searching for our viewing pleasure. I’d even be tempted to say that this, Running To Stand Still, was one of the strongest episodes the show has delivered so far this season, what with the effortless mix of great villains, attention given to the relationships between characters and some nice forward momentum for the Zoom story thread. We begin with Zoom running Wells down before wishing him a particularly threatening ‘Merry Christmas’, setting the tone for the rest of the episode before we flit back to our main gang. It wasn’t much of a secret that Mark Hamill would be returning as the Trickster, but pairing him up with the Weather Wizard was a stroke of genius. The Trickster is threatening enough in his madness but, combined with the guy who actually managed to win last year makes it more than just the run-of-the-mill meta-threat. It also makes for some terrific punning, excused just this one time entirely because it’s the season and all that. Captain Cold isn’t even around for most of it, making a feeble attempt to help Barry out by filling him in on his cohort’s dastardly plans before running for the hills. This is obviously all in service of his role on Legends, which is dangerously close now to actually being on our tellys now.
Because this is a mid-season finale, much of the episode is dedicated to parental angst. Chiefly, Iris finally tells Barry about the existence of Wally West in what was actually a very sweet scene between the two, and they later decide it’s probably best to present a united front to Joe. I worried when we heard about another West sibling that the show would muddle the relationship between Barry and the family, but this episode did a lot to allay those fears. Joe gives Barry his own father’s watch even after he finds out about Wally, for instance, and it highlights the nice place that part of the show is in now that the Barry/Iris romance is done (or at least on pause). But Joe’s understandably upset to discover that he has a son he never knew about, and we’ll have to wait until January to find out how that particular family reunion goes. We’re fairly sure that he’s going to become some kind of speedster, entirely because of his name, but it’ll just be interesting on its own to see how he slots into the show’s existing dynamic. It’ll also presumably give Iris something to do at last.
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My highlight of the episode, though, was the fleshing out of Patty’s character, giving her layers beyond the cute Felicity-esque girlfriend for Barry she’s been so far. We already knew that her father had been killed by a metahuman, but here we discovered that metahuman was in fact the Weather Wizard. It’s slightly frustrating when there are two adjacent relationships going on – that between Barry and Patty and between The Flash and Patty, because while we know what’s going on, Patty has no clue that she’s opened up quite that far with her boyfriend yet. Her lack of Flash knowledge hasn’t been actively annoying yet, but it’s getting there. I’d like her to become a bigger part of the show and, to do that, she needs all the facts. We’re left on a cliffhanger that’s simultaneously very similar yet very different from last season’s – Wells is going to help Zoom take down Barry in exchange for his daughter. He doesn’t want to do it because, unlike Thawne, he’s fundamentally a good person, but it’s still his love for his child that drives him. I’ve been so impressed by how The Flash has slotted Wells back into things, all coming to a head in that scene between Barry and an unwitting Harry. It’s the equivalent of his through-glass talks with Henry while he’s off fishing , but it was done so beautifully. Barry has been struggling with what happened last season all year, and maybe this is his way of finally moving on.
All in all, the first half of season two has proven that the show is more than capable of measuring up to its first, with a inordinate amount of intricate pieces in place for an even better string of episodes once we come back.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED – SEASON 2

Main Cast

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
George Newbern (Law & Order: SVU)
Susan Eisenberg (Lego aquaman)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Powers Booth (Sin City)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Seymour Cassel (Dick Tracy)
Takayo Fischer (Moneyball)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
James Remar (Black Lightning)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Giselle Loren (Happy Feet)
Malcolm McDowell (Halloween)
Kim Mai Guest (G.I. Joe: Reneages)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Kin Shriner (Manhunter)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Alexis Denisof (Avengers Assemble)
Raphael Sbarge (Once Upon a Time)
Juliet Landau (Aquaman)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
CCH Pounder (Avatar)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Oded Fehr (V)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lambs)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Amy Acker (The Gifted)
Virgina Madsen (Highlander II)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
Joanne Whalley (Willow)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Bud Cort (MASH)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)

MV5BMjQwMjQ0MTUzM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTAwOTM2MjE@._V1_Since I was just a young lad, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm have been showing me exactly what a superhero should be. They were some of the people behind the sublime Batman: The Animated Series, which is the definitive version of Batman in my eyes. They helped bring a certain Kryptonian to television screens in the late ’90s, taking an extra step into forming a coherent version of the DC universe to life. Hell, they even went so far as to help create a true successor to the Dark Knight. After doing all this, they managed to bring a clean, faithful and truly amazing assortment of champions of the DC Universe to life, showing us all exactly what a superhero should be.MV5BMTQxMjk3MTgxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDAwOTM2MjE@._V1_JLU – Season Two  remains faithful to its source material, which isn’t something you’ll find too often when translating a comic to a TV show or movie; whether it’s Green Arrow humming his own theme music while he’s fighting villains to Batman always being the baddest man in the room, the show conveys everything perfectly. A huge strength of the show lies within its voice talent, which is an assortment of voice-over veterans that have had some time to perfect their takes on characters: Kevin Conroy expertly delivers every line as Batman; Michael Rosenbaum has a wonderful, playful performance as Flash; and Clancy Brown is nothing short of brilliant as the ever-scheming, truly egotistic Lex Luthor. Though some of these actors have had over a decade to perfect their take on their respective characters, the guest stars who have little to no VO experience, much less know their characters, manage to be spot-on with their takes, making their characters memorable and charismatic.MV5BMTk4NTY4ODY4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDYwOTM2MjE@._V1_Not only that, some of the guest stars who appear are more than enough to cause a nerdgasm to any self-respecting comic geek. Names like Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Amy Acker, Morena Baccarin, Juliet Landau, Michael Ironside, James Remar, and Daniel Dae Kim all bring their characters to life in the best way possible, creating a lasting impact on the series. As the series progressed from the seven core heroes, requiring the talent of so many guest stars, some viewers may be inclined to think, “Wow, DC has a lot of lame heroes in its roster.” Almost at the exact point in the series that the thought occurred to me, the show comes out swinging with the episode “Patriot Act,” hitting the nail on the head. This episode has an Incredible Hulk type character wanting to face off against the JLU varsity squad (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc&#Array;), but what he gets is a slew of D and E-list heroes, like Stargirl, S.T.R.I.P.E., Shining Knight, Vigilante, Green Arrow and Speedy.MV5BMzcyNjI0Nzc5MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODI5ODM2MjE@._V1_Though you may be thinking “who?” at this roster of leaguers, and though they get thoroughly trounced, the episode manages to make the point of despite who they’re fighting, these champions won’t ever quit, and it’s a theme that’s brought up more than once during the series without beating you over the head with it nor becoming cheesy, and that’s fine by me. The writing of the series is easily its greatest strength as it has fun with its storylines and it’s very obvious that everyone involved knows their craft. They don’t bother setting up any more characters – they already had four seasons to do so. Rather than exploring the universe further, they jump into tales that can be enjoyed by newcomers and longtime fans alike. The main story-arc of the season is a huge nod to an older crowd as it deals with the Legion of Doom – well, maybe not in name, but without a doubt in spirit: A gaggle of villains led by Lex Luthor who use a giant Darth Vader helmet as a base of operations.MV5BOTE5NTA5MTc1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTIwOTM2MjE@._V1_If that isn’t the Legion of Doom, I don’t know what is. The storyline revolves around Luthor’s quest to reunite with Braniac and become a god. Unfortunately, he unleashes one of the most dangerous and powerful foes in the DC universe and the events that follow make for one satisfying bookend to one of the most prolific takes on a comic universe.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE – SEASON 2

Main Cast

Kevin Conroy (Justice League Doom)
George Newbern (Law & Order: SVU)
Susan Eisenberg (Lego aquaman)
Phil LaMarr (Futurama)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Maria Canals (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)

justice-league-season-2-2-twilight-part-2-brainiac-review-episode-guide-list

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Corey Burton (Transformers)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: DS9)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Mitchell Ryan (Halloween 6)
Rob Paulsen (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
Lisa Edelstein (House)
Tom Kenny (The Super Hero Squad Show)
William Atherton (Die Hard)
Fairuza Balk (The Craft)
Dana Delany (Tombstone)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Peri Gilpin (Frasier)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Jason Marsden (Hocus Pocus)
David Kaufman (Prom Night)
Dorie Barton (Down With Love)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Larry Drake (Darkman)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Kim Mai Guest (TMNT)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Michael Jai White (Arrow)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Diane Pershing (Gotham Girls)
Bruce McGill (Lincoln)
Ted McGinley (No Good Nick)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Lukas Haas (Inception)
Tracey Walter (batman)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Brian Doyle-Murray (JFK)
Oded Fehr (The Mummy)
Scott Rummell (Six)
Kristin Bauer van Straten (Nocturnal Animals)
Powers Boothe (Sin City)
Ted Levine (The Silence of The Lamabs)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Brad Garrett (Tangled)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Hot Shots)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Khary Payton (The Walking Dead)
Greg Cipes (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans Go)
John C. McGinley (Scrubs)
Hynden Walch (Groundhog Day)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Mike Farrell (Patch Adams)
Shelley Fabares (Coach)
Kimberly Brooks (Voltron)
Robert Ito (Midway)
Victor Rivers (The Mask of Zorro)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Elizabeth Peña (The Incredibles)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

MV5BMTkxOTY5NTY5N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjEwOTM2MjE@._V1_Now this is more like it. Justice League’s second season takes all of the wrinkles found in the first year and smoothes them over. The action is bigger, the stories are more exciting, and Batman’s rating on the cool-o-meter reaches new highs – exactly how things should be. The result is a boxed set that offers perhaps the finest collection of superhero animation that your hard-earned dollars can buy. They don’t come any better then this, kids.MV5BODg3ODYzM2QtNTIwOS00YzhjLThmMDItZTY4MDc0NzU1NDhkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTQ0NjQzNTE@._V1_Much like the comic book universe from which these characters came, the Warner Bros. superhero shows headed by Bruce Timm and friends (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond) have created a continuity and universe all their own. Justice League is the latest (and, sadly, final) entry in this cartoon universe and it takes all of the best stuff from what has come before it and combines it into a near-perfect superhero animated series. While the first season was light on character development and solid storytelling, the second season gets the balance of action, story, and character just right. Again we’ve got great supporting characters and villains from the DC universe; Darkseid, John Dee, Despero, and even Doomsday all make appearances.MV5BMTQxNzgzNDg3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTAwOTM2MjE@._V1_The action is also a lot more exciting, with more imagination having gone into the writing of the fights. Furthermore, this season we’ve got some great CG effects (used for vehicles and ships) – the air dogfight in Maid of Honor between the Batwing and some jetfighters is especially cool to watch.  Another standout this season is the music. The series composers (Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion, and Kristopher Carter) have created some amazing stuff here. In each episode you’ll find several musical cues that will really get your attention and at least one that will tug at the ol’ heartstrings. The music knows when to fade into the background and let the images do the work and when to take centre stage. With stuff this good you want the music to take centre stage as much as possible. There is a Princess Mononoke-esque “nature endures” moment in Hearts and Minds where the score was just wonderful. The music in these episodes is too good for a cartoon TV show.MV5BMTQ1MjM0MTMwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjc5ODM2MjE@._V1_So the action is awesome, Superman is fixed, and the music is one-of-a-kind. All that’s left is the writing… and it’s the best part. The writing here is really great, with story and character always being the focus of each episode. A Better World answers a simple question in an interesting way: what if Superman crossed the line? In an alternate universe, Superman realizes that Luthor really is an unredeemable villain and he kills him. We see that the murder – even the murder of a monster like Luthor – changes both Superman and the League. They become Big Brother-like sentries of the planet. When a cross-dimensional rift is opened, this “darker” league (known as the Justice Lords) has a showdown with our untainted heroes. The episode brings up some very interesting questions and is a blast to watch.MV5BMTYwOTU0OTUwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk5ODM2MjE@._V1_We’ve also got some fantastic variety. The Paul Dini-penned Comfort and Joy is a very touching Christmas episode, while Hereafter transports Superman to a Planet of the Apes-ish future where he is the planet’s sole survivor (he even grows a Robinson Crusoe beard and fashions himself a jungle-machete!). The Terror Beyond makes for a very fun H.P. Lovecraft-inspired romp which sees Solomon Grundy fighting his way into the brain of the massive Ichthulhu (voiced by Rob Zombie) and wrestling a nightmare creature inside this thing’s head. Very bizarre, but very cool. Finally there’s the three-part season finale, Starcrossed. This is a balls-to-the-wall action spectacular which culminates in Batman piloting the League’s watchtower into the planet, while Green Lantern and Hawkgirl’s relationship is torn to shreds.MV5BMTkxMDQzODI2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDIwOTM2MjE@._V1_This is a fantastic collection of episodes, to be sure, but there are still a few nitpicks that keep the set from getting a perfect score. For one, while Superman is tougher, much of the new attitude doesn’t feel genuine – it seems that they wanted to make him “cooler” so they made him more badass. Problem is, Superman isn’t a badass character. Second, there are a few episodes (Maid of Honor and Eclipsed) that feel somewhat stale, and one episode, Wild Cards, that, sadly, let its driving gag get the better of the story. On TV you’ll find many cartoons, but you’ll only find one Justice League – its second season is a shining example of superhero animation done right in virtually every respect. Most importantly, the show’s creators have crafted a series that respects the intelligence, attention-span, and maturity of its audience. This isn’t just a kids show nor is it just a television show. It’s Justice League – and it’s great.

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: LEGENDS OF THE SUPER HEROES

CAST

Adam West (Return To The Batcave)
Burt Ward (The New Adventures of Batman)
Frank Gorshin (Star Trek)
Jeff Altman (Highlander 2)
Charlie Callas (Switch)
Gabriel Dell (Earthquake)
Howard Morris (Splash)
Mickey Morton (Starchaser)
William Schallert (Santa Barbara)
A’leisha Brevard (American Pop)
Garrett Craig (The Blue Knight)
Howard Murphy (Satan’s Mistress)
Danuta Rylko Soderman (The 700 Club)
Bill Nuckols (Sunset Cove)
Rod Hasse (Hero at Large)
Barbara Joyce (Hothead)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
Ruth Buzzi (Freaky Friday)
Pat Carroll (The Little Mermaid)
Alfie Wise (The Cannonball Run)
Ed McMahon (Bewitched)

Image may contain: 1 person, sittingOn January 18, 1979, NBC aired Legends Of The Superheroes: The Challange, an hourlong special in which Adam West, Burt Ward, and Frank Gorshin reprised their Batman, Robin, and Riddler roles from the campy ’60s Batman series, alongside a cast of legendary TV comedians and generic hunks. The show had the heroes dealing with a series of traps laid by a team of supervillains, with each trap setting the stage for a wacky skit. Intended as a live-action Superfriends, LOTS came off more like a live-action version of Scooby’s All-Star Laff-a-lympics.But even The Challenge wasn’t as wretched at what NBC aired the following week: Legends Of The Superheroes: The Roast, in which the cast of the previous special returned for a series of painfully unfunny sketches and stand-up routines. According to the website TV Obscurities, The Challenge finished 58th out of 59 shows the week it aired, and The Roast finished 62nd out of 63. NBC and Hanna-Barbera’s experiment with live-action superhero slapstick was over.

The Challenge opens with the heroes and villains in their respective lairs, where the former have an orderly meeting, complete with a salute to elderly superhero Retired Man (played by William Schallert, better-known as Patty Duke’s dad on The Patty Duke Show), while the latter have a chaotic meeting complete with random acts of violence and lots of indistinct muttering, captured in an ugly-looking medium-long shot.
The villains seize on a doomsday plot put forward by Dr. Sivana (played by sitcom vet Howard Morris, a.k.a. Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show) and divide up, each tasked to find ways to slow the superheroes down. Sinestro (played by funny-faced comic Charlie Callas) poses as a gypsy and reads Green Lantern’s fortune.The Weather Wizard (played by fast-talking young comedian Jeff Altman) poses as a used-car salesman, and sells Batman and Robin a lemon. The Riddler pretends to be a psychiatrist and gets Captain Marvel to sit on his outdoor couch and talk about his feelings. Finally, the heroes locate the villain’s island hideout, where Batman and Robin hop on Jet Skis and chase the wizard Mordru (an obscure DC bad guy played by former Dead End Kid Gabriel Dell) before heading indoors for an old-fashioned punch-up. Oddly enough, the cheesiness of the costumes are a point in favor of LOTS: The Roast, where the ridiculousness of everything is part of the concept. At the outset, host Ed McMahon jokes that he hasn’t seen so many crazy costumes since he last “had lunch at Alice Cooper’s house,” and adds that the heroes’ HQ looks like “Truman Capote’s closet.”
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The Roast is a beast to sit through. The special includes several corny routines in which McMahon trades quips with guests like Hawkman’s mom (played by showbiz legend Pat Carroll, who jokes that when young Hawkman brought notes home from school, “they were strapped to his leg”) and hulking monster Solomon Grundy (who roars and threatens McMahon whenever he’s reminded of the word “swamp”), and, yet again, Retired Man. Later, Dr. Sivana shows up, giving Howard Morris a chance to get uncomfortably close to Black Canary’s breasts.…and the inevitable Ruth Buzzi pops up as a gun-toting Aunt Minerva.
Also, gossip-monger “Rhoda Rooter” conducts an interview with the unlikely couple of The Atom and Giganta……and West and Ward participate in an interminable skit where Robin tries to keep Batman from finding out that he totaled the Batmobile. Again, it’s impressive—at least for an old DC devotee like myself—to see how far into the character pool the writers were willing to jump, and it’s not like the level of comedy here was any worse than moist shows of its time.  Hanna-Barbera use the occasion of this special to allow Jeff Altman to do a few minutes of stand-up material as Weather Wizard (complete with storms), and to have comedian Brad Sanders lay down some jokes along the lines of “If Hawkman walked through Harlem, by the time he got to Lennox Avenue, he’d be Kentucky-fried,” in the unfortunate guise of Ghetto Man. The Roast ends with Mordru doing a little song-and-dance routine, changing the lyrics to “That’s Entertainment” to something more villain-friendly……and then the whole affair should’ve been permanently consigned to the ash-heap of TV history. But alas, it was dug back up by warner brothers.
It’s a collectable piece for any DC fan as long as they don’t take it seriously