Tag Archives: animated

Review: Justice League: Doom (2012) Animation | My Reviews 21 JUN 2012

The Justice League consists of Earth’s finest super heroes and protectors of humanity. But in the mind of the Dark Knight, it contains potentially the most dangerous people on the planet. Over time, Batman has compiled top-secret contingency plans should any of them go rogue. When these files are stolen by a rising group of super villains, the Justice League embarks on a collision course that will test the very fabric of its alliance!

Director Lauren Montgomery and producers Bruce Timm and Sam Register are back, with the last ever movie script penned by the venerable Dwayne McDuffie before his untimely passing. Released in February 2012, Justice League: Doom is the 13th film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line.

The JL line-up for this outing consists of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), The Flash (Barry Allen) and Martian Manhunter, with the assistance of Cyborg who ends up playing a pivotal role in the saga. Up against them is Vandal Savage, leading a group consisting of Metallo, Mirror Master, Cheetah, Star Sapphire, Bane and Ma’alefa’ak – basically a villain from each hero’s rogues gallery and thus perfect to round things off. What follows is an excellently paced action drama that sees each of the heroes incapacitated in a surprising manner, as Vandal sets about his plan to create a new world order – which of course makes for quite an epic ending.

Being a team-based movie, not a lot of time is lavished on one single hero, but the air time is split evenly enough that you don’t feel hard done by if you support a particular character, and the various threads all combine very nicely to provide a solid and enjoyable super hero tale that has plenty of drama, intrigue and of course fist pounding action (not to mention a giggle here and there)!

Although not a direct sequel to the earlier Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, the movie does use the same character designs as the former, and to be frank, despite some of the more pretty boy faces like Superman to get used to as well as the sometimes too sparse line-work, the visuals are for the most part crisp, clean and very well animated, with some fluid choreography and effects, not to mention the vibrant colour palette it sports.

Christopher Drake scores the film and complementing the great soundtrack is a stellar vocal performance from all of the voice actors attached to the project, which includes the likes of Kevin Conroy as Batman, Time Daly as Superman and Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern.

In summary this is yet another excellently crafted super hero movie and a worthy inclusion in what is a fantastic DC animated movie line-up. Strong story which keeps you engaged from start to finish, great visuals and animation, plus a polished sound makes Justice League: Doom well worth tracking down!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_League:_Doom

Review: The Batman | Season 5 (2007-2008) My Reviews 22 MAR 2012

The final 13 episodes of what truly is an enjoyable animated series featuring everyone’s favourite vigilante dressed up as a bat, season 5 departs in a big way from what has up until now been a very Batman-centred universe, and instead introduces a number of different heroes from the DC universe Justice League line-up, turning this outing into very much a “Brave and the Bold” season!

Of course this means character and world development is out of the window in favour of super-powered team-ups and big brawls, which is not really that much of a drawback when you consider just how awesome and action-packed these resulting episodes actually are!

Interestingly enough, all of a sudden mainstays of the previous three seasons, Commissioner Gordon and Batgirl get sidelined to cameo appearances, with the Bat line-up settling into a more traditional Batman and Robin setup for just about the whole run.

In terms of the heroes we get to see on screen, we start things off with Superman, before being followed by the likes of Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, The Flash and Hawkman, never mind the entire Justice League who show up for the final story arc! Of course, the injection of new heroes comes with new villains for Bruce to tackle, including the likes of Lex Luthor, Mercy Graves, Metallo, Count Vertigo, The Wrath, Shadow Thief, Sinestro, Mirror Master, and the Terrible Trio (who actually aren’t all that terrible after all).

As per usual, Jeff Matsuda’s unique character design influence comes across strongly in the animated visuals, leaving us with a simple but extremely pleasing to the eye visual adventure that is jam-packed with action, intrigue, and of course a laugh or two, courtesy of course from a stellar panel of writers which includes the likes of Alan Burnett, Stan Berkowitz and Alexx van Dyne.

Overall this is a great looking show with an excellent voice cast (though I still lament the loss of the first season’s theme music from U2’s The Edge), backed by enjoyable and action-packed stories that bring the five year long franchise to a satisfying conclusion.

A lot lighter in tone than season 1 (a trend that happened across the seasons), season 5 of The Batman will definitely entertain all the boys, plus their comic book enjoying dads! :)

(Not so sure about the girls though – wifey didn’t really enjoy the last couple of seasons of the show. Too silly for her she said…)

(Complete Viewing)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Batman_%28TV_series%29

Review: The Batman (Season 4) Animation | My Reviews 29 DEC 2011

After three very solid seasons before it, the hit animated television series featuring everyone’s favourite caped crusader is back, and this time around it brings even more to the table.

With the Teen Titans show finally having closed its curtains, finally we get Robin added into the mix, and the decision is made to bring in a very young Robin, far younger than Batgirl who was introduced last season. One can only assume that the decision around this was twofold, one to carry on from where Teen Titans left off and try and poach those fans into coming over to this show, or two, try and broaden the market of kids actually watching the series.

Anyway, the addition of the young daredevil Dick Grayson brings even more light hearted moments to the show, and the childish and fun interactions between Batgirl and Robin adds another enjoyable dimension to the series, following the same “pulling back a little from the overwhelming dark” pattern that was first established by the third season when the decision to add Barbara and use her a bit like a comedic foil was carried out.

Nevertheless, despite this very apparent lightening of the tone of the show as a whole, Batman continues his further descent into the darkness, visibly maturing as he becomes even more confident and assured in his abilities as a vigilante, as well as in his role of being team leader to his young recruits.

As with the other seasons of the series, this season packs in 13 very cleverly written and action packed stories, though it still doesn’t feature an overarching storyline and instead opts to go the villain of the week approach. However, this series does pack in some brilliantly executed and pretty heavy stories, making it one again a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable watch from start to finish.

There are a couple of new characters thrown into the mix, and as such Jeff Matsuda once again manages to come up with some fantastic character designs, the result of which is a fairly stylized but well animated television show that uses its simple line approach to its fullest and provides the view with some brilliantly choreographed and then executed fight sequences!

Once again the voice artist team is top notch with Rino Romano leading the way as Batman/Bruce Wayne, backed up by a great soundtrack and theme music.

In summary, The Batman season 4 contains some of the strongest stories yet (like Artifacts and Seconds for example), features excellent action sequences with loads of new gadgets as per usual, and successfully expands on what is already a winning franchise – with the added bonus of some more than normal quips and light heartedness to make for an all around enjoyable and engaging show.

In other words, there is simply no way that comic book fans won’t be able to enjoy this one! :)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Batman_%28TV_series%29

Review: Batman: The Animated Series (Volume 2) My Reviews 15 DEC 2011

The 1990’s produced one of the best animated television shows ever to grace the Silver Screen, namely Batman: The Animated Series, produced by legendary comic book figures like Alan Burnett, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for example.

It has been described as one of the closest non comic book adaptations of the Batman mythos, won numerous awards for its writing which was far more mature and thought-provoking than other animated shows of the time, and introduced its iconic visual style, dubbed Dark Deco by its creators.

Volume 2 in this DC Comics Classic Collection packs 28 episodes in over four discs, and as a result you are treated to a nice variety of Batman material versus a number of his greatest foes, as well as his interactions with the newly introduced Dick Grayson as Robin. Unfortunately, as it simply was done back in those days, each episode is self-contained with no overarching story or sometimes even real continuity to speak of, which does detract a little when watching it today, surrounded by the advances in writing for today’s animated fare. Nevertheless, the stories are compelling, action-packed and for the most part, thoroughly enjoyable, meaning an absolute toe-curling thrill for existing fans of the Bat.

Visually of course, Batman: The Animated Series stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of distinctive style, thanks to its art deco visuals, simple lines and very dark tone. However, it must be noted that its approach to place the series in a sort of a timelessness 1940’s-like bubble really does age it 20 years down the line, and unfortunately both the style and the animated objects look pretty dated and thus a little difficult to fully enjoy. Technology in particular suffers, with things like computers, servers and even telephones looking really silly.

Aurally however, Batman: The Animated Series still comes across as a powerhouse amongst animated television. With fantastic voice work from the likes of Kevin Conroy as the Batman/Bruce Wayne, Mark Hamil as the Joker, Bob Hastings as James Gordon and Adrienne Barbeau as Catwoman, and a fully scored orchestral soundtrack to back them up, Batman: The Animated Series sets the benchmark for how a rich, mature animated television show should sound.

In summary, Batman: The Animated Series is quite dated to watch nowadays, especially in the visuals department, but to be fair, you have to keep in mind that this series is basically 20 years old now! Once you have that notion in your head, you really can sit back and enjoy what truly is one of the best animated American television series ever to be produced, with strong writing, a distinct and enjoyable visual style, and a great musical score with voice acting to complement.

And then of course we mustn’t forget that iconic opening sequence and theme music!

It remains enjoyable and well worth picking up if you are a comic book fan or in particular, a Batman universe fan. As for the mileage for people not falling into either of those two categories – well I can’t say for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the marked age of the show will count against it in their eyes.

Oh well, their loss! :)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman:_The_Animated_Series

Review: The Batman (Season 3) Animation | My Reviews 30 NOV 2011

Absolutely fantastic animated television, keeping alive the awesome work laid out in seasons 1 and 2, and more importantly, bringing even more to the table with season 3. If you enjoyed the first two seasons of the Jeff Matsuda designed, action packed The Batman television series, then you can sit back happily in the knowledge that you’ll absolutely love season 3! (And even if you haven’t seen the first two seasons, you’ll still enjoy it, so no worries there either)

With season 3 we now have a Batman who has been at it a bit longer than the original season, meaning a more assured Batman, an even bigger arsenal of weapons, greater police trust and of course even bigger capers from his ever increasing Rogue Gallery, this time being padded with some new faces like Poison Ivy, Gearhead and Toymaker. (Of course, the regulars like Penguin and Joker are still thrown in there, so you don’t have to worry about that).

However, the element which elevates this season even higher than the first two is the introduction of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, the young, tenacious and more importantly, unwanted and unasked sidekick who slowly manages to worm her way into Batman’s crime fighting world, and in the process inject some light-heartedness into what was threatening to become a very dark show (even if it was known for including puns and one-liners before!).

(You might be wondering why Batgirl before Robin, but thanks to the legalities around him appearing in Teen Titans which was airing around the same time… well you get the picture.)

Although the series still doesn’t feature an overarching storyline structure and pretty much sticks to the villain a week format, at least it maintains its own continuity and events from previous episodes have consequences in the subsequent episodes. The writing remains as fresh as always, meaning capers which are bound to spring a surprise or two on you, and the action, adventure and witty banter are top class as per usual.

Jeff Matsuda continues to excite with his distinctive character designs which dictates the cartoony but very stylized look of the show, and the animation is fluid, colorful and well presented, even if it follows the model of simple is better.

And while the entire voice cast does a great job of bringing their respective characters alive, it must be mentioned that Rino Romano continues his excellent work as Batman/Bruce Wayne, and newcomer Danielle Judovits also does a fantastic job at capturing the tone of the youthful Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. In-episode music remains top notch and although the theme music we’ve enjoyed up until now in the form of The Edge’s Batman track has been replaced, the lighter 1960s-esque theme does a good job of announcing the slightly lighter tone of the new show.

Overall, it is very difficult not to like The Batman. The animation is unique and engaging despite its simple, cartoony lines, the action if phenomenal with some well written episodes, the antagonist characters are all appealing in their redesigns and rewrites, and the introduction of Batgirl opens up the franchise to even more viewers by making it a little more accessible to girls. Thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and a definite recommendation to anyone who enjoys their animated television or just cape and cowl adventures in general!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Batman_%28TV_series%29#Season_3

Review: Green Lantern: Emerald Knights My Reviews 17 NOV 2011

At last, an enjoyable anthology makes its appearance in the form of Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, released in 2011 under the DC Universe Animated Original Movie banner.

Although Emerald Knights is the second Green Lantern animated film to be released under this banner and despite sharing character design and animation style with the first, it diverges from the continuity laid out by First Flight in that Hal Jordan is now a veteran Green Lantern and Sinestro is still a Green Lantern, something which would obviously not have been possible following the events of First Flight.

Unlike the haphazard anime-styled anthology that was Batman: Gotham Knight, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights tries a different tack, by unifying the various short stories under an overarching, linking story and employing the same animation style throughout (despite each segment being directed and written by different people, including Lauren Montgomery, Christopher Berkeley and Jay Olivia). So what we get is a fantastic set of tales related by Hal Jordan to new recruit Arisia Rrab as they prepare for an oncoming onslaught that has prompted the Guardians to evacuate Oa and place the Green Lantern Corps on high alert!

The first tale tells of Avra, the first Green Lantern to ever do a light construct, the second of Kilowog and his training under Sgt. Deega, the third of Laira and her action-packed return to her home planet, and the fourth of Mogo and why he doesn’t socialize. At this point Sinestro takes over and tells a tale of Abin Sur, before the movie decides to wrap things up by launching a full scale assault from within the sun the Lantern Corps had been monitoring, prompting the creation of Arisia’s very own tale.

This clever way of presenting an anthology means that it feels like you are watching a full film and not just little disjointed segments, resulting in a great amount of Green Lantern history and information being passed over to you for the first three quarters of the feature, before rewarding you with a proper epic finish that is worthy of a Green Lantern story.

In other words, a very satisfying affair for both those familiar with the Green Lantern mythos and those who were perhaps just passing by. As per usual voice director Andrea Romano has pulled in a wide variety of talent to voice the huge cast of characters, featuring the likes of Nathan Fillion, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Isaacs, Kelly Hu, Arnold Vosloo and even Roddy Piper of all people! Complementing the great voice acting is of course a fantastic musical score, put together by Christopher Drake.

In terms of animation style, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights actually ends up looking quite nice, with fairly simple lines being used, but in such a way as to give a good amount of detail and diversity to the varied set character models used throughout. The animation itself is very slick and there are some fantastic choreographed fight sequences, particularly in the Laira segment. In other words, Emerald Knights comes out looking pretty good for a straight to DVD animated feature!

I must admit that I did enjoy this particular one, despite the fact that an anthology will almost never grab a viewer emotionally due to the short nature of all its mini features. But thanks to the clever overarching storyline, well th05ought out stories being told, and great animation and voice acting, this is certainly another worthy entry into the DC Universe Animated Original Movie catalogue, suitable for both those already familiar with the Green Lantern mythos, as well as those just looking to enjoy some animated fun!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Lantern:_Emerald_Knights

First Impressions… ThunderCats My Reviews 21 OCT 2011

For generations, the Thunderans have lived and thrived in the kingdom of Thundera, with the cat bloodline being the only race strong enough to ensure the fragile peace between the various species that inhabit the land. However, the legendary Book of Omens warns of the return of the evil sorcerer Mumm-Ra, and as such King Claudus together with his powerful Sword of Omens stands always at the ready.

However, an unforeseen treachery is about to change everything, particularly for the young and impulsive prince, Lion-O, who will soon find himself banding together with his adopted brother Tygra and the cleric Cheetara as they are thrust into a now unfamiliar world on a mission where they can’t rely on anyone and have to face off against what is now a fearsome Lizard nation, led by an evil incarnate, and supported by weaponry the likes which have never been seen before!

Now this is how an action-orientated kids show ought to be, no question about it. Having no real nostalgia of the original 80’s ThunderCats series to fall back on other than one or two of the toys I used to own back when I was a kid, and an image in my mind of the main character peering through the sword’s upwards curling hilt decorations, means that I wasn’t too taken up when the big Internet hype machine started up after it was first announced that they were producing an updated remake of what apparently was a pretty popular 80’s Saturday morning cartoon.

However, having now seen the first couple of episodes of the series, I am most definitely a converted fan. The writers have taken what is to be honest a fairly silly setup to work with and scripted a fantastically engaging fantasy world and storyline that does everything it needs to do in order to entertain both kids and adults (when I say adults, I mean adults like me).

Strong, likable characters, well defined villains and a clear series goal, in what seems to be a well thought out storyline which is so far certainly as thrilling and entertaining as what you could possibly hope for from an action adventure tale – and if that wasn’t enough, it even throws in enough throwaway and slapstick humour just to make sure the kids remain interested as well, without detracting from the show as a whole!

And have I mentioned the animation yet? Unlike recent big offerings like Wolverine and the X-Men and Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes which could have been ten times more enjoyable if they featured better, more polished art, ThunderCats weighs in featuring absolutely gorgeous anime-styled art with very fluid animation, courtesy of the well known Japanese production house, Studio 4°C. The end result looks amazing and combined with the great voice actor selection that brings everything to life, you are left with a fantastically polished kids animated series, that is certainly deserving of some praise.

So as a first impression summary, ThunderCats has certainly impressed with the first couple of episodes and by the looks of it, Cartoon Network has yet another hit on their television network hands! (In other words, they’ve got me hooked, yet again.)

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ThunderCats_(2011_TV_series)

Review: The Batman (Season 2) Animation | My Reviews 10 MAR 2011

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. 13 action packed episodes of awesome, featuring Batman and his butler take on a host of villains straight out of his classic rogue’s gallery – albeit all sporting new buffed up Jeff Matsuda designs of course. The writing is fun, the series picks up from exactly where the first one ended (and notes its continuity) and most of all, the stories all happen to be clever, usually quite witty, and filled to the brim with action and adventure (and gadgets!).

Although simple in terms of lines, the snappy designs mix well with the stylized backgrounds, making for a very polished visual spectacle to take in. Aurally, Rino Romano continues to command your attention as a very capable Bruce Wayne/Batman, as does the rest of the vocal crew. And then of course there is still that awesome musical track to absorb courtesy of The Edge (of U2 fame).

Summary. I dare you to find a kid (boy) who doesn’t like this, and more importantly, Batman fanboys of all ages will drool over this. Well worth spending your money on.

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Dead Space: Downfall My Reviews 04 NOV 2010

Finally, the discovery of the mysterious alien artefact, the second “Marker” Earth has been hoping it would one day find. Located deep within a dead planet by a local mining team, plans are soon launched in order to retrieve this strange, tooled rock, and the Ishimura, a planet cracker is launched to handle the pick up.

However, something is not right. Chief Security Officer Alyssa Vincent is concerned with the unusual spike in violent crimes that has all of a sudden befallen the usually quiet mining colony, characterised by particularly bloody and brutal murders carried out by otherwise normal, everyday people.

But there isn’t time to fully investigate, as the operation to pull the massive landmass out of the planet is already underway, and soon the Marker finds itself onboard the ship, ready to undergo a series of tests and experiments as it slowly begins to make its way back towards the Earth.

However, where matters were of a minor concern before, they are about to get a whole lot more serious and attention grabbing now. Something is in amongst the colony, killing every living thing in site. And now it would seem that it may have made it onboard the Ishimura after all.

Whatever it is, Alyssa Vincent is about to enter the most horrific and bloody fight of her life… a fight for which the fragile humans are very little prepared!

Alyssa Vincent and her team blast away at the undead!

EA’s hit survival horror third person shooter, Dead Space is certainly going all out to establish itself as a proper franchise, and what better than releasing a full length animated film to act as a prequel to the game story itself?

Dead Space: Downfall hit the DVD racks in October 2008, directed by Chuck Patton and written by comic scribe/inker Jimmy Palmiotti and his comic book partner in crime, Justin Gray, with animation chores handled by Film Roman.

A gory, violent space horror, Dead Space: Downfall goes straight for the jugular, dishing up plenty of action and suspense, combined with loads of violence and a mysterious alien presence.

There is very little character development throughout this film, most of which can be attributed to the fact that most characters simply don’t stick around for long, and more importantly, the relentless pace of the film simply doesn’t allow for it.

The start of the film sets us up well for what is to come and after we are introduced to the main character Alyssa Vincent, we get stuck straight into matters as we are first tasked with solving a murder puzzle which slowly ratchets the tension right up, before being dropped right into an all out battle for survival against a very real, very alien horror!

The film juggles its suspense, drama, violence and action very well, and as such draws a viewer in from start to finish, managed to maintain its sense of enigma throughout the story as the horrific events unfold before you.

In terms of the visual front, Film Roman’s animation is pretty slick and apart from the slightly silly gun fire,  everything looks and works pretty well. In particular, the grotesque, animated dead are well depicted and Film Roman moves easily between the various forms of these distorted monsters.

The color palette naturally contains a lot of red with all the blood splatter permeating through everything and the visuals make very effective use of light and dark, to keep the suspense and horror at its maximum.

Of course, gore and brutality is at the heart of this horror survival and this film is certainly not for the squeamish – even at its animated level, some of the visuals will require you to have a particularly strong stomach to take it all in!

Aurally, the film hits all the right notes, with a great soundtrack which serves well to set up the mood for the various sequences, from the tentative investigations to the all out running for survival. Bruce Boxleitner and Kelly Hu are the only real recognised live-action actors in the voice cast and they do their respective roles quite well. However, the aggressive Nika Futterman really steals the show as the voice of Alyssa Vincent.

Wouldn't really want to meet him in a dark alley, that's for sure!

In summary then, Dead Space: Downfall succeeds 100% in what it set out to do. It is a competent, terrifying survival horror story out in space, one with no chance of a happy ending and lots, and lots of blood and body parts lying all over the place. Fans of the game will no doubt enjoy this piece of animated cinematography, while there is certainly something in there for fans of horror in general.

As for me, well I don’t really do horror normally, but putting that aside, Dead Space: Downfall is really well made and a very good ambassador for its genre, making it well worth checking out if you are into that kind of thing!

Gory death, guts and blood. You won't believe how much that stuff splatters!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Space_Downfall