Comic Book Superheroes TV & Movies Reviews Part 1

Comic Book Superheroes TV & Movies Reviews

I used to have this list (or most of it) on Screened but since that website has closed down, I was forced to move them here.

I'm a life long superhero comic book fan and I've noticed that there is an increasing number of superhero and superhero-like characters who are making the jump to the silver screen or as television series. Some of them are fairly good, while others fall flat.

This list will cover those that I've seen and my opinion of them. I'm slowly working on filling each one and rating them. For the most part, this list is alphabetical, but with some multiple entries with similar names, I tried to make it chronological. Due to current limits on how Comic Vine organizes our Lists, I'm going to have to break it up into different parts to maintain their order.

  • 5 STARS: The Best of the Best! You HAVE to go and see this!

  • 4 STARS: Really, really Good. You are definitely missing out if you don't see this.

  • 3 STARS: Mediocre to Decent.

  • 2 STARS: Fair to Okay; if you have nothing else to do and want to kill some time...

  • 1 STAR: Didn't like it.

  • 0 STAR: Junk. A piece of horrible crap that you will regret and agonize over the fact that you will never get back the time you wasted watching this..

List items

  • It was an attempt to adapt Grant Morrison's "All Star Superman" comic book series and it sorta worked. The movie is extremely faithful to the original source material but I think the main reason why I didn't like it was because it tried too hard. It compacted as much of the storyline into a little over an hour movie and as a result, it’s a mishmash of the best parts of Morrison’s vision. Basically, it was simply glossed over too much and the movie was over too quickly.

    The strength of Grant Morrison's comic was that it was longer and it allowed Superman to ponder his approaching mortality. Here, he doesn't really have much time to do so; he's frentically busy fighting various villains and threats while trying to make peace with Lex and confess his love to Lois Lane for the final time. There is simply too much going on and it makes the whole concept of Superman’s impending death that much weaker. He doesn’t seem to be worrying all that much about his doom so it’s hard for the audience to be holding their breath too.

    The storyline is the biggest flaw of the entire movie; they needed to cut out some of the opponents that Superman had to face and have a little more dramatic time here and there with him confronting his impending death.

    I also disliked about the sudden big reveal of Solaris the Tyrant Sun as one of the big villains of the movie. If he was so darn important and a key piece of the plot, why is it that he wasn’t even seen before? Not even a brief foreshadowing. It’s like they forgot about Solaris entirely and then they had to hastily add him at the end in order to give Supes a credible threat to face.

    Other than the short storyline, the animation was brilliant. I question some of the character designs such as the Parasite who looked weirder and grosser than I expected, but for the most part I found that they did a fine job and the special effects of the animation is a treat for the eyes to watch.

    I found James Denton to be a lackluster Superman, he just lacked the charisma and emotion to project in his performance. And while I missed Clancy Brown voice acting for Lex Luthor, I have to admit that Anthony LaPaglia was a more than adequate replacement; I found myself enjoying his scenes with his rampant megalomania.

    It was a bit sad because I quite enjoyed the comic version and was looking forward to this adaption and was left rather disappointed. It was good, but it could have been a lot better and it’s far from ALL STAR. I suggest reading the original comic series collection to get a grasp on what you’re missing because I think most people will prefer the comic book version over this.

    RATING: 2 STARS.

  • I was rather disappointed with this live action show when I was a kid. It was an odd mix of cheesy special effects and melodrama. None of the actors really impressed me and the plots were on the lame side. One thing that annoyed me was that Spidey didn’t really fight any genuine super-villains and instead fought an array of mad scientists in labcoats, criminal masterminds, and sinister government agents. I kept watching and watching, waiting for the super-villains to pop up ... which they never did. I also thought it was weird as Spidey wore his webshooters and utility belt on the outside of his costume. I'm guessing that they tried to appeal to not just kids but adults as well, but it just didn't really feel like Spider-Man.

    Aside from the lack of compelling villains and storylines, the special effects were really weak. There was a certain awkwardness when Spidey seemed to do his wall crawling scenes—I assume due to the wire rig or whatever that they used—and he mainly did a lot of running along the tops of buildings. In addition, Spidey rarely ever used his webbing. It looked like a rope when he “shot” his webline or it was a bunch of ropes tied up into a web-like net that someone off-camera threw over his enemies.

    I suppose for the day and age, it was considered cutting edge but it simply didn’t capture my interest very much as a kid—I actually preferred watching the cartoons which were in my opinion, a lot neater and I could see Spider-Man beating up super-villains alongside Ice Man and Firestar. This stuff is a waste of time for me as a child and I have far more interesting ways to waste my time as an adult. If you’re after nostalgia, I suggest watching one of the Spider-Man cartoon series than this.

    RATING: 1 STAR.

  • I will freely admit that I was a bit uncertain about going to see "The Amazing Spider-Man" movie. First off, the costume wasn’t impressing me. I’m not so much a purist that I demand every single detail in a comic book-based movie has to be perfect, but if they do effect a change—I do demand that it has a good reason; say aesthetically. And frankly, it wasn’t. The costume looked stupid in my opinion. Clearly one of Spider-Man's superpowers is not fashion design or the ability to sew.

    I was also unsure as to why they were bothering to reboot the franchise. There are several reasons to do so; it’s too old, the series of movies were horrible, the writers wrote themselves into a deep, deep hole… I believed that they would simply be retreading ground that had already been covered by Sam Raimi’s 2002 "Spider-Man" and covered rather well.

    However, this movie retold Spider-Man’s story by putting him back in his high school days and while I admit that I missed Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the inclusion of Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) was more than a perfectly acceptable replacement. In fact, I thought Gwen was a much stronger and more interesting character dynamic with her father being a police officer/captain who embraces a stern disdain for vigilantes and Spider-Man in particular.

    I also liked how the writers focused on Peter Parker’s parents who were barely given a mention in the first series. I was extremely uncertain as to Tobey Maguire’s replacement of Andrew Garfield; but I was pleasantly surprised as I actually thought he portrayed a much better Peter Parker. He was a lot more goofier, geekier, and much more awkward than Maguire and I found his sarcastic wit as Spider-Man to be rather funny and a new cast to the character. Maguire was able to convey being an emotional loner and suitably heroic as Spidey, but he never seemed to be a comedian.

    The fact that Peter never captured the robber who shot his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) was also a good plot point that it gave Peter motivation towards capturing criminals and ultimately learning how to become a hero. I also found that Sheen was a much more interesting Uncle Ben with a sense of humor as Raimi’s version never really got developed too much before he was killed off.

    The rest of the storyline was done well enough and the rest of the actors did an excellent job. However the rest of the special effects were only so-so in my opinion. The action scenes of Spidey included a lot more dazzling acrobatics than Raimi’s, but Spider-Man always seemed much more powerful, inhumanly flexible and nimble, and more superhuman than this version did—who appeared much more limited and human. I also felt the character design of the Lizard wasn’t quite menacing enough. The Lizard looked more strange than something scary and monstrous. Plus, I did mention this earlier that I simply did not like Spider-Man’s costume.

    Basically, the film is entertaining fair, but it won’t shock you or amaze you.

    RATING: 3 and 1/2 STARS.

  • Suffering from dreaded sequel-itis, "Amazing Spider-Man 2" is not quite as good as it’s predecessor in my opinion—not that it’s predecessor was all that amazing either.

    One of the truly bright spots in this film was Andrew Garfield (Spider-Man) who truly made this role his own. With increased acrobatic and superhuman dexterity than his previous outing, his comedic wit and irreverent bantering has enabled him to supplant Tobey Maguire as the meterstick that every past and future Spider-Man will be measured up against.

    But he can’t carry the rest of the film with wit alone. I just did not find the storyline at all compelling. It’s erratic and confusing and the filmmakers are frantically adding in new characters in the hopes of distracting the audience from the huge plot holes that this film possesses.

    First, while it’s sort of nice how Peter feels guilty about disobeying Captain Stacy’s dying wish to stay away from his daughter; it sure doesn’t seem to stop him. It also feels like he’s completely forgotten about his Uncle Ben and his dying declaration about power and responsibility and his Aunt May is more like an annoying character than a beloved relative who raised him from childhood over his dead father who apparently dumped him on her doorstep in the middle of the night before dying in a plane accident.

    Further, they seem to have totally dropped J. Jonah Jameson and the Daily Bugle concept entirely. Instead, Peter Parker just sort of meanders through the movie, financially secure while his Aunt May is busy struggling to support him. I remember seeing Parker carrying a camera in a few scenes but it’s like a prop or something that he doesn’t really use for anything.

    Plus, the character of Harry Osborn felt like a retroactive continuity implant with Harry suddenly becoming Peter’s first friend whom he never mentioned and hasn’t seen for nearly a decade but once they’re reunited, they’re best buddies. Not to mention, I found it baffling as to how Harry expected Peter to be able to contact Spider-Man for him since Peter isn’t working for the Bugle and isn’t taking pics thus should have no connection to the Wallcrawler beyond the fact that they live in New York City with a population of over 8 million?

    Despite the fact that Electro was supposedly the big villain of this movie, he sure didn’t seem like it. He felt like a minor chump character with Harry Osborn taking the main role and his sudden assumption of the mantle of the Green Goblin with his involvement in the death of Gwen Stacy. I also found the addition of the Rhino at the last minute to be groan inducing. Aside from a rather stupid looking mecha-suit, I did not appreciate the fact that we get cut off right at the end without seeing the conclusion of the fight. At least show us Spidey kicking his ass.

    And what was the deal with the foreshadowing of Spider-Man’s future foes with the Vulture and Doctor Octopus obviously? It felt too blatant. That is the sort of thing you should stick in at the post-credits trailer or something.

    But the jumbled and overly contrived storyline aside, I did like Andrew Garfield in his role as I mentioned before. In addition, Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) was another good actress who was rather convincing in her role as Spider-Man’s love interest. I also liked the fact that she was smarter than him. However, I found Jamie Foxx (Electro) to be rather unconvincing as the obsessed fan turned psychotic super-villain. Dane DeHaan (Harry Osborn) was actually rather good in his early scenes, but he sank like a stone in the later half of the movie. I thought that Paul Giamatti (Rhino) was actually a great comedic character with his over-the-top Russian accent was so bad, it was funny.

    The special effects were so-so. Spider-Man’s acrobatics scenes were superb as well as the slo-mo Spider-Sense action moments were great. But I thought that the Electro CGI scenes and the Green Goblin bits needed a bit of work. The electricity didn’t feel that energetic; like it was a force of nature being commanded by a super-villain and if Electro’s appearance was intended to be scary and jarring, it didn’t work. He looked weird but not terrifying. Likewise the Green Goblin looked like he had just-got-out-of-bed-hair instead of spooky and villainous looking. I did appreciate that Spidey’s costume was improved from the previous movie so that was a step in the right direction.

    If you love mindless superhero action then this movie is your cup of tea. But if you expect more than a compilation of action sequences, then this is not your movie. It’s the same disappointment that I felt in the train wreckage of Sam Raimi’s "Spider-Man 3" movie in they were more ambitious in sticking in as many villains as they could reasonably handle. All of the extraneous dreck makes me want to weep over the fact that Sony will still be producing at least another movie to tie all of the plot threads up instead of Disney doing it. I wouldn’t mind seeing Spidey popping up in the "Avengers" film but apparently it won’t be happening anytime soon and instead I’ll have to sit and suffer through another horrible film that undoubtedly be less than amazing once more.

    RATING: 2 and 1/2 STARS.

  • "Angel" was in my opinion, a huge blunder on the part of Josh Weedon. Sure, if a character is popular enough that it might be a good idea to spin off into their own separate series—but in all probability, its best to do so after the first one ends. Despite attempts to differentiate between the two series, I think that they were a bit too similar which weakened both of them as they were competing against each other.

    Angel was originally a supporting cast member on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in which he was once a murderous vampire who was cursed to possess a soul and thus a conscience and afterwards sought to repent for his centuries of crimes as a vampire. Then he fell in love with the Vampire Slayer, a young girl named Buffy and sought to integrate himself with her life and mission. Their doomed romance ultimately failed when it was belatedly discovered that the curse would be cancelled if Angel possessed a moment of pure happiness. Angel’s soul went bye-bye and he became a Big Bad against Buffy and Co. for a bit before they re-cursed him. Angel chose to leave the show rather than hang around the woman whom he didn’t dare love for fear of losing his soul again and instead established himself in ‘The City of Angels’ or Los Angeles where he continued to fight darkness and evil there.

    Although the series had a slightly different and darker vibe to it than Buffy, I thought that it basically followed the same plot of a supernatural champion fighting the forces of darkness. But "Angel" suffered from poorer casting and even poorer storylines.

    I also had a real lack of empathy for Angel due to his distance from humanity. He spent much of his time as a brooding observer, moping about his past—basically he was a bit a whiner constantly wailing ‘Poor, poor me!’

    I would have thought better of him if he actually tried to interface with humans regularly instead of staying in his small circle of associates. "Angel" had potential, I’ll admit. But I think that the writers got too bogged down in his battle against Wolfram & Hart when they should have been doing ‘little’ stories where Angel actually went out and helped helpless humans/demons as a supernatural detective as what he did mostly in the first season before he (and the writers) got sidetracked with Wolfram & Hart. Or maybe having more ‘normal’ stories where he simply functioned as a detective and helping humans on more mundane cases would have greatly improved his tenuous connection with humanity.

    Also, no offense to David Boreanaz (Angel) but he simply wasn’t enough to carry the titular role. I think that the greatest draw for most people was the Romeo and Juliet fixation of a vampire and vampire slayer’s doomed romance. If it helps, I also think that the whole "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" TV series went downhill ever since Boreanaz departed as well.

    Basically, Boreanaz seems to work best when playing off and interacting with a co-star (look at his success with "Bones"); and with the "Angel" series, he was the titular star and he really didn’t have much of a co-star as a bunch of supporting cast members and he couldn’t carry the whole show on his own. Also, they seemed to recycle quite a few members from the Buffy series as they could—Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, Cordelia Chase, Faith, and Spike became regular fixtures on the show. For the most part, I think that the majority of these guys should have simply been guest stars and they created more original characters like Lorne and Fred/Illyria to round out the cast because a lot of those recycled cast members simply weren’t up to the challenge of making the big leap to a main character. But this was another reason why "Angel" felt too similar to "Buffy" was that they had practically copies of the cast with the hero lead, the Watcher, the girl next door, and the normal snarky guy.

    Plus, I think it would have not been outrageous to have Buffy herself make more regular guest appearances and vice versa—like once a season since both of these shows were practically being shot simultaneously, although since they moved off to different TV networks, that was impossible.

    To be fair, I also thought that his main villains, Wolfram & Hart weren’t the greatest of nemeses. An evil law firm that is actually controlled by demons? OK, that would be amusing for a chuckle but I think they overly tapped that joke. Having them as one of the irregular opponents who pops up a couple times during a season would have been better but they used them to excess.

    "Angel" was not a series where you could simply watch a few episodes and then skip for a few weeks and come back it. It had long, oftentimes drawn out story arcs and characters would often undergo strange metamorphoses over a few episodes and get written out/written back in. But frankly, I didn’t want to invest the time and energy to do so as I often felt that a great many of these story arcs were bizarre and seemed to lurch around with little rhyme or reason. The whole psychic visions thing seemed like a good way for the writers to be lazy and don’t have to bother figuring out how the heroes deduce stuff and simply shortcut them to the conclusions.

    Basically the writers seemed to making stuff up as they went along and they kept recycling a lot of the story ideas; Angel kept turning evil and they were really fond of mystical pregnancies by the way. Cordelia Chase had like two or so, and Darla had just the one but it was simply overkill to have THAT many in one show. Also, the series (and most of the characters) did not do comedy as well as "Buffy" did by balancing the dark overtones with more light hearted moments. The further and further the seasons progressed, the various characters become odder and distorted with the storylines that they came up with as well until they’re hardly recognizable.

    Overall, the series had some shining moments of truly brilliant, funny, and memorable episodes accompanied by the vast majority of purely mediocre ones. The series ended on a bit of an ambiguous note, we never even find out if they survive the final battle and they’ve killed off Cordeila, Wesley, and it looked like Gunn wasn’t going to make it.

    As far as special effects go, the series was solid. The hand to hand combat bits were well done and orchestrated. Some of the special effects were really great and spectacular while a few of them didn’t strike me as so hot.

    Overall, I can’t recommend this series for the casual viewer. If you enjoyed "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" TV series, then I think that you’ll probably like this series although it’s not as good; but you might get a kick out of seeing the show where is seemed that they dumped all of the supporting cast members after they were through with "Buffy".

    RATING: 1 and 1/2 STARS.

  • Do you remember Aquaman? Don’t be too surprised if you can’t. He’s not one of the more popular superheroes, he hasn’t really made many waves, even if he was created back in 1941.

    At best, he’s been a supporting character to the really big guns like Superman and Batman. If you’re old enough (like me), you probably remember him as the guy in the orange shirt from "Super Friends". But you probably don’t remember him doing much of anything. Heck, he often had to hitch a ride with Wonder Woman in her Invisible Plane. Batman’s spare seat in his pimped out car, helicopter, and jet was reserved for Robin the Boy Wonder. He’s routinely spoofed and lampooned for his lame powers.

    However, the character has loads of untapped potential as this pilot shows. It’s clear that the writers had tons of big storylines in the works and were merely setting the stage so to speak as A.C. (the future Aquaman) discovered the truth of his Atlantean origins as well as explaining the secrets behind the Bermuda Triangle and his mother’s murder and disappearance. Learning how to use his untapped powers while being hunted by vicious Atlanteans and evading a secretive U.S. intelligence organization? I found it interesting enough with some interesting mythic and tantalizing mysteries thrown into the mix. The whole story came off as a modern day retelling of a fairy tale as the orphan boy discovers that he is in fact, a Prince who will become a King.

    As far as actors go, the core characters of Justin Hartley (Aquaman), Ving Rhames (McCaffrey), and Lou Diamond Phillips (Tom Curry) gave all extremely solid and interesting performances. I thought that Denise Quinones (Lt. Torres) and Amber McDonald (Eva) weren’t quite as impressive, having mainly been chosen for their looks but they were competent enough.

    I did think that Adrianne Palicki (Nadia) was a rather good villain, seductive yet also menacing enough but one of the few weaknesses in the pilot was that they killed her off too quickly. Considering how large a role she played in Aquaman’s past with the killing of her mother, I would have left her wounded but alive to return again to threat Aquaman. Of course, they might have reworked the whole thing and revealed that Nadia had been lying about killing his mom in a future plot twist and had just been trying to jerk him around.

    The special effects were rather well done. I did think that the plane explosion though could have been improved but for the most part, the CGI parts were performed seamlessly and I rather liked Nadia’s morphing sequences. I didn’t notice any major problems with the camera shots either; sometimes you can see water beading on the lens of the camera during water shots but they didn’t have those kinds of mistakes here.

    But what impressed me the most about this pilot was that they actually managed to do something that I long thought impossible. They made Aquaman cool. It was a real shame that they never had to chance to finish what they started and resolve all of those future plot threads that they left dangling. I genuinely think that if the studios had actually picked this series up, I would have watched it on a regular basis. It had genuine potential to be a good if not great series.

    RATING: 3 and 1/2 STARS.

  • I have to say that I think that DC has scored a big hit with "Arrow". Long considered one of the lesser superheroes of DC’s stable of heroes; Green Arrow has been consistently overshadowed by such giants as Superman and Batman. To his credit, he’s managed to pop up here and there; usually as a guest star in "Justice League Unlimited"; "Smallville"; and most recently in the "Young Justice" series. But never has he played the center stage as he does here and it’s about damn time.

    What works for this series is again, much of his mythology and history is relatively soft and undefined whereas with the Big Two of Supes and Bats, we pretty much know them, their origins, and their rogues’ gallery.

    Instead, we’re treated to a show which delves into the shocking origin and tragedy of Oliver Queen’s past. We get to see his family, his friends, and even how he’s struggling to define himself as a hero in Starling City. And it's all brand new to us.

    We get to see how a spoiled rich boy was shipwrecked, forced to fight for his survival, and even though he’s returned home, he’s still fighting. Even though Green Arrow is a vigilante, he’s not quite a hero yet. He has his own agenda and isn’t interested in using his costumed persona to help others, but avenging his father by attacking the corrupt men and women whom he believes is responsible for his father’s death. Over the course of the first season however, he begins to grow into doing more for Starling City than simply attacking the rich and corrupt conspirators.

    There is a fairly good interlocking storyline going on over the course of the season’s episodes that goes into Oliver’s shipwrecked period, his training to become the Arrow, and the conspiracy behind his father’s death. I also appreciate the fact that they’re not afraid to do some character development on Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) who is actually fairly decent actor and is able to convey a somber and emotionally damaged attitude. The rest of cast is fairly decent as well, although occasionally giving some bland and wooden performances. I wasn’t quite as sold on some of the performances by Paul Blackthorne (Detective Lance) and David Ramsey (Diggle), but they were adequate most of the time.

    The majority of the episodes were very good and solid storylines that contributed to the ongoing plot development—only a few faltered in my opinion.

    The fight scenes and special effects were nicely choreographed. Usually, Green Arrow isn’t that much of a fighter—he’s a long distance guy yet the live action incarnation demonstrates that he’s pretty good at the acrobatics and hand-to-hand as well. Despite having no superpowers as well as his opponents (so far at least), I must say that the action sequences has proven to be rather intense and not unbelievable.

    The only problem is if the show can continue to produce the same high quality season episodes in the future. So far, it’s looking pretty good. There are several plot threads in the works that I am genuinely enjoying how they’re pushing them forward. This show is a bit more grittier than say "Smallville" where Green Arrow isn’t unwilling to kill or maim his enemies and shows he’s definitely not just a knock-off or clone of Batman anymore.

    "Arrow" is hitting solid bulls’ eyes in my opinion. It’s a worthy successor to Smallville in bringing a DC character to life and more importantly, showing that DC doesn’t have to simply continue to make movies and television series about Batman and Superman over and over again.

    RATING: 4 STARS!!!!

  • I never even bothered to watch this series until a few years ago. I had seen the live-action movie and wasn’t overly awed with it. However out of pure curiosity, I decided to see a few episodes of the original animated version and got hooked rather quickly. It’s rather clear to me that the American creators were inspired by manga and anime because this show embodies a lot of concepts of Eastern philosophy. And the more I watched, the more I was dismayed at how horribly the live action movie screwed it up.

    I found that the basic plot of a four separate nations that is now divided by the threat of war to be a rather good one and surprisingly mature for a children’s show. Particularly for the fact that they didn’t try to hide the negative aspects of it from children. They showed it all; from genocide, to the persecution and exploitation of the conquered people by the invaders, the death of innocent bystanders, and crimes committed by both sides—both conquerors and conquered. The people were real and realized.

    They also had a very nice, solid, detailed and compelling storyline that followed Aang and his group as they struggled against the Fire Nation. It had a beginning, a middle, and conclusion and it was able to balance all of the parts equally without losing or detracting from each other. The story might have been made for children, but I have to say that unlike many such animated children series; they didn’t treat children like they were stupid and it was both thoughtful and surprisingly mature and filled with spiritual and philosophical issues as well as the main characters contending with such concepts as greed, love, morals, family, and loss. This show which I originally dismissed as a comedy, becomes darker and more dramatic as it progresses—it never completely submerges into depressing, but clearly the children are forced to grow up and mature into adults over the course of this series.

    I also loved how detailed the background was in that each Nation clearly has their own separate and distinct culture, clothing, and bending martial art styles. It’s the little things like that that truly put a series into a class all of it’s own. The backgrounds were superb, particularly things like architecture and other sets were amazingly detailed. A number of animals are a bit on the goofy looking side as the creators seem to enjoy taking two disparate species and merging them together, but it quickly becomes part and parcel of the series.

    The characters were also incredibly engaging and in many cases, extremely sympathetic. The animation was also first rate. The character designs were extremely realistic and their movements were fast, fluid, crisp, and the fact that each of the bending styles were different from each other made their movements, at least for the very best of the benders look like poetry in motion.

    I also have to say that the voice actors did a superb job, they were able to convey complex emotions and feelings through their tone of voice.

    Overall, this is one of the best animation series that I can remember seeing. Even though it was basically for children, like I mentioned; it doesn’t try to dumb things down to them and has a great deal of important messages to convey and I think even adults can watch it without being too insulted or feel it too silly.

    RATING: 4 and 1/2 STARS!!!!

  • I only watched a few episodes, but this series felt like only a half-hearted attempt to bring the Avengers to TV. Even though they called this 'The Avengers', it sure didn’t seem like it since the Big Three—Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor were conspicuously absent and instead we’re left with a group of second-stringers.

    The voice actors seemed competent enough, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with either them nor the storylines. Most importantly, the animation all seemed cheap and the character designs were garish at best. Almost all of the Avengers sported their regular costumes and their 'battle armor' which screamed rampant commercialism and a ploy to marketing toys.

    Overall, it wasn’t that great a show and not at all worth watching in my opinion. If you want to watch the Avengers; then see the movie or the new Disney version, "Avengers: Earth’s Mightest Heroes". Either of which was far superior to this series because frankly, I couldn’t stand it.

    RATING: 1/2 STAR.

  • Superhero team movies are often muddled and mixed up. I think it’s because they have not one but multiple stars and trying to satisfy the demands of fans to give everybody a bit of screen time is hard and instead, often one character rises above them all and is the focal point of the whole movie.

    What was brilliant about "The Avengers" was that it uses the previous Marvel films from "Iron Man 1", "Iron Man 2", "the Incredible Hulk", "Thor", and "Captain America: The First Avenger" as building blocks. We get introduced to the characters, we learn how they came to be and their histories, and each movie is dedicated towards their individual screen time. Yet those movies are also introductory chapters to this finale where it all comes together. Marvel went through a lot of time, effort, and trouble to coordinate all of these movies together and it shows and we, the fans are admirably rewarded for this.

    I admit that I was leery of going to see "The Avengers". I was willing to wait it came out on DVD; because these days, spending money on a movie ticket is just ridiculous and I was worried that this conclusion would fall flat.

    Still, I kept hearing all of these rave reviews that finally, I broke down and actually spent money on a ticket. And I am glad that I did—because "The Avengers" wasn't good ... it was EPIC! All of the previous appearances in their own individual movie chapters enabled that this movie to be really about the Avengers as a team and their interacting with one another rather than just simply one or two members getting introduced to the audience one at a time.

    I suppose one of the greatest weaknesses of this film is that you need to have seen the various prequels—or at least most of them to grasp what is going on. However, I personally believe that it’s worth it but I am an unabashed superhero fan. But what I felt was the true tipping point for me was the death of Agent Coulson.

    Coulson has been a HUGE supporting character in so many of the previous films. He was probably the only character whose death was such a huge personal impact to the various Avengers. His death, sad and tragic though it was; was what brought the team together.

    The story flows well and the characters all have their own individual parts to play in it; there’s nobody left simply standing off to the side and acting as background filler. The serious moments were balanced by moments of witty humor and frankly all of the actors were spectacular in their roles, particularly Loki (Tom Higgleston) who was even badder and madder than he was in Thor and Robert Downey Jr. was as irreverent and funny as ever with his portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man.

    The various battles were a special effect bonanza and all of the sequences were truly jaw dropping and masterworks of CGI. I found The Avengers to be a great superhero film, filled with style and energy and incredibly satisfying to watch. It was worth the wait. Hollywood needs to pay attention because THIS is how a superhero movie should be made.

    RATING: 5 STARS!!!!!

  • While I’m not familiar with the comic book that this film was based upon, I feel sorry that it will forever be saddled with this travesty of a movie. Not to mention that this movie barely utilizes the basic premise of the comic series itself.

    The plot is confusing at times and it is highly derivative of "Casablanca", only sexed up with Pamela Anderson dressed in as little as possible to try and distract you from the rest of the show. The one memorable scene is at the beginning where Pamela Anderson had a dance/shower scene that brought to mind that old "Flashdance" movie. Other than that, this entire movie is nothing more than a vehicle for Pam and frankly, she lacks the acting ability to carry it on her own and tries to distract us from this glaring flaw with an incredibly tight bodysuit that I was amazed she was able to breathe in, much less walk in. Of course, the rest of the cast aren’t that impressive either with stilted and wooden performances.

    Other than that, the movie relies on machine guns and explosions and even more explosions to punctuate certain scenes. I think that it’s pretty clear that this movie was created to appeal to young males and their raging hormones with teasing glimpses of Pam. Sorry, Pam—don’t get me wrong—I like mindless violence and sex as much as the next guy—but this film was really pushing the mindlessness of it’s audience. I have far more interesting and funnier ways of destroying brain cells than watching this appalling mess of a film.

    RATING: 0 STARS.

  • Based upon the campy 60's Batman series, I had to admit that this movie had it all. Aside from Adam West and Burt Ward reprising their roles as Batman and Robin, the producers decided for a full on bonanza of super-villains; throwing in the Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman, and the Riddler into the mix as well as use of the infamous Batmobile but the Batchopper and the Batboat. That was huge to me when I was a kid! The only thing that could possibly have added to the appeal of this movie would have been the presence of Yvonne Craig/Batgirl.

    To me, this was what a superhero movie should be—something bigger, bolder, and better than the regular television episodes. I don’t ever recall seeing supervillains teaming up before this movie, but I was sold on the fact that four of Batman’s greatest villains forming an alliance majorly ramped up their evilness and the threat they presented to the Caped Crusaders. Yet somehow, all of them all together wasn’t overwhelming either.

    The screwy psuedo-science of the dehydration weapon aside, I thought this show was fairly entertaining. The actors were cheerfully cheesy and inherently silly, but I’m sure that all of them knew it too. It’s been at least over a decade since I last saw this film, but I can still remember Adam West frantically running around trying to dispose of an explosive in his arms and remarking to the camera, "Somedays you just can't get rid of a bomb."

    One of the weaknesses of this movie was the special effects. The underwater submarine scenes looked pretty fake to me even as a kid, but even the cartoonish fight scenes and the BIFF! BAM! POW! splashing over the screen still manages to hold up to the test of time. I’m not sure that others would agree, but I enjoyed those comic like effects. If nothing else, seeing really old fashioned FX never ceases to amaze me as to how far and advanced the stuff has developed since those days.

    Personally, this movie gleefully celebrates the campiness of the 1960s Batman series, but that is it’s strength as well with the straight-faced hammy statements, absurd super-science gadgetry, and Bat-themed and labeled tools and devices. It’s mindless entertainment at it’s best and Batman the Movie was pretty good.

    RATING: 3 STARS.

  • The 1989 "Batman" movie was a huge and fantastic revelation for me. After the "Superman" movies that I had watched as a kid, there hadn’t been that many superhero movies or shows that seized my attention like this movie did. "Batman" totally blew me away as technology and special effects had finally caught up with the movie industry that they could finally start bringing superheroes to life and actually make them look cool. What truly amazed me was the Batman Suit—he looked like a pure creature of the night and awfully damn menacing in it.

    The sets were lavish and highly realistic in my opinion, it looked like I had imagined Gotham City to appear; dark, gloomy, grim, gritty, and on the verge of collapse.

    As far as the plot goes, even though this film was actually titled Batman; in many ways it’s more of the origin and story of the Joker who has a far greater role and impact on Bruce Wayne/Batman’s history than suspected by turning him into the thug who shot Thomas and Martha Wayne in an alley when Bruce Wayne was just a kid turning him into the fearsome creature of the night known as the Batman. The plot was fairly good in my opinion with a simple, straight forward, and easy to understand story. It’s about revenge and good vs. evil.

    As far as the actors themselves go, I have to say that Kim Bassinger (Vicki Vale) was primarily pure eye candy. Michael Keaton on the other hand wouldn’t have been my first choice for Bruce Wayne/Batman but surprisingly he pulled it off. There was an almost lost and boy-ish quality to his Bruce Wayne that made him seem very vulnerable at times. Yet, he proved to be surprisingly good in the action sequences and his dry and sometimes sarcastic comments as Batman were rather witty. However it was Jack Nicholson (Jack Napier/Joker) who truly left me amazed and disturbed by his portrayal of the whole insane and crazy character. Even when he was being cheerful and laughing, there was such an aura of menace and insanity to him that I found myself wondering if Nicholson was really that awesome an actor and if he really WASN’T nuts.

    Overall, I had no complaints except for that weird "You ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?" quote. It sounds kinda stupid. Otherwise, there was enough action, fight scenes, cool gadgets, and witty repartee for my tastes. I think that this was what Bob Kane intended for Batman to be and forever set the standard of what each Batman movie or show would have to meet or exceed.

    RATING: 4 STARS!!!!

  • "Batman vs. Dracula" sounds like it should be the movie of the century. Like King Kong vs. Godzilla, Star Wars vs. Star Trek, and what not. They got the Dark Knight—a normal guy who dresses like a bat up against the actual living (or unliving) bloodsucking legend who actually is a bat. However this movie is far from the epic battle that I went in expecting to see.

    The animation was based on the recent “The Batman” series and is top notch with its heavily anime-based influence. The voice actors were great and there are moments of witty humor here and there. However, it’s the storyline where this movie completely falls apart.

    It’s not only very predictable—it’s basically the same plot from Bram Stoker’s version; even to how Dracula uses a thrall slave in the Penguin àla Renfield and Dracula kidnapping Batman’s girlfriend. And while Batman is just too physically outmatched against Dracula, I found that his whole techno-gadgetry was a bit much in being to out-tech Dracula to victory. It just felt a little disappointing that Bats had to resort to such measures to defeat old Vlad. I wasn’t expecting Batman to be able to win against Dracula physically, but I wasn’t expecting him to thrash Bats around like he was an amateur and give a much better accounting of himself.

    If the producers wanted to have been a lot bolder, they could have actually had Bats being forced to turn himself into a vampire like in the 'Elseworlds Batman: Red Rain' to fight Dracula on an even field. Maybe even have the ending where Bats is considering staying a vampire permanently due to the strength and power he would possess and being able to protect and defend Gotham forever with a vampire’s immortality before finally deciding to have his vampirism cured. But they chickened out and went for the almost standard Dracula story with a bit of Batman stuck in the role of Johnathan Harker and Vicki Vale standing in for Mina Harker.

    No, this movie isn’t the epic spectacle that I was expecting and you shouldn’t either.

    RATING: 1 STAR.

  • This is a collection of animated stories featuring Batman with a rather strong anime influence, which makes sense considering that each story segment was done by a separate Japanese anime production company. But there is an appalling lack of cohesion and we get so many different and disjointed interpretations of Batman himself.

    The first (and in my opinion, the best) story segment was “Have I Got a Story For You” was an interesting look at how a group of kids saw Gotham City’s extraordinary and enigmatic protector and each got three very different viewpoints that they interpreted. One saw him as a strange creature of the night; another as a high-tech warrior; and the third as a supernatural shadowy demon. However, I also felt that the animation was one of the poorer and least well done of the sextet of animation shorts as well. This introduction basically felt like a summary of the whole movie; a bunch of writers have come and presented to each of us their own separate views of Batman and they don’t really fit with one another all too well.

    I think that each story might stand better on its own because none of the stories seem to mesh too well with the others; even the basic visual medium and character designs are different from each story to each story. We are barraged with an anthology of stories that all seem to feature Batman and his adventures but it gets simply a bit too repetitive and confusing about halfway through this movie. Probably because we have a hard time believing that this is one separate character and not six separate ones as they seem so all over the map and so different at times.

    Even though DC claimed that it was six interlocking stories, I didn’t get that impression. The connection between each story is so vague and so tenuous, that there didn’t seem to be any kind of connecting thread to them at all. Unlike the "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights" anthology, this movie lacked an interlocking theme and the different animation styles also didn’t help either. Or they should have broken it up with a more humorous or comedic piece in the middle.

    Like in "Emerald Knights", they should have had a few stories that didn’t deliberately focus solely on Batman but rather the world he inhabits or Gotham City itself. One of those short stories, “Cross Fire” did just that by focusing on a pair of Gotham City cops who discuss whether or not Batman really helps or hurts Gotham and he’s not present until the very end. But that’s the only one. I thought that they should have had something maybe one story segment about the Joker since he was going to be in "The Dark Knight" movie, maybe as simple foreshadowing at the very least.

    Instead, we get story after story about Batman. We get one where he is field testing a high-tech magnetic shield and yet another which shows us his training to ignore pain; and in between he also fights a fear inducing psychopath and a master assassin. And the last two don’t really have any sort of drama or character development in my opinion and are simply there to make Batman look as sleek and badass as possible and they did have some of the better animation pieces compared to the rest.

    "Gotham Knight" is a celebration of Batman but it’s simply too wildly interpretative in my opinion. As I mentioned before some of the stories are very good in quality while others are sadly lacking; some of them are wildly imaginative of Batman; others are exceptionally excellent in terms of animation and special effects. But none of them have all of those qualities all together. To me, I felt that I was left to decide how each segment was going to let me down.

    One of the few unifying themes was that they actually decided to have the same voice actor, Kevin Conroy as Batman throughout the separate story segments. Thankfully because even they must have thought it would be just too confusing for the viewers; but also Conroy continues to be one of the best voices of Batman that I have heard and his portrayal continues to be excellent.

    But I simply could not stand the shoddy unevenness of this film. It’s just too all over the map for my tastes, it just felt as though DC wasn’t really trying to make a good Batman feature but felt obligated to try and boost awareness of the forthcoming "The Dark Knight" film.

    RATING: 1 STAR.

  • Bringing the "Dark Knight Returns" to animation form was not a totally unexpected move on DC’s part. I think that Frank Miller’s definitive final chapter of an aging Batman was one of the greatest stories out there and DC seems to be on this kick to try and animate most of their more popular comic book stories, it was a logical choice. Unfortunately, a lot of these adaptations are well—not quite as good as they could be. DC appeared to recognize this by addressing one of my most foremost complains about these adaptations that they compact the storyline too much.

    At least this adaptation they realized that they couldn’t do that without destroying the entire story so instead they chopped it up into two halves. That being said, "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1" is a superb adaptation although I do think it still was missing some aspects that made Frank Miller’s version so damn compelling. The storyline is a pretty close copy of the original, although they moved things around here and there for better pacing and stuff. The last scene with the Joker’s ‘reawakening’ for instance, was a fabulous finale in my opinion and a brilliant choice for the conclusion, a nice teasing bit to draw us into watching the sequel. It managed to accomplish it’s task in drawing the audience in and saying, “Hell, yes we NEED to see the sequel”.

    I think my primary complaint for the storytelling was that they skimped on Batman’s narration, leaving a lot of scenes just empty and dry. I also believe that they overdid it a bit with the intercuts with the newscasters and interviews of all of the people’s viewpoints of Batman’s return from retirement. They were excellent in breaking scenes and giving up a lot of information in one go, but it was too much in some instances.

    The animation is great, truly capturing a great many of the panels from the comic itself and animating them bringing them to a whole new level. What I think is missing however is the darkness, the utter bleakness and grittiness that Miller’s comic version possessed. Gotham appeared to be practically a decaying and decrepit slum while the Gotham as depicted in "Dark Knight Returns" is bad, it’s not quite as bad as I felt it should be. The battle with Bats versus the Mutant Leader in the mud hole was another … odd one with the mud being a lot … cleaner than I was expecting. They made it so that the mud didn’t stick too well at times was strange, as well as when it didn’t, the area was a lot cleaner than it had any right to be. Basically we had the dirt and blood, we needed the sweat for the final touch for true authenticity. Overall, it was relatively minor league stuff.

    The backgrounds were a nice broad mix of a city with gothic architecture of old buildings combined with more modernistic steel. The action sequences were dazzling and the movement of the characters were just impressively fluid and dynamic. I particularly liked how they showed that Bats is definitely no longer in his prime like when he pauses and is catching his breath before moving on or how he cannot climb a rope at first with just his arms but needs to use his legs too was a great bit. It’s little things like that that really sell this story.

    The voice actors are a broad mix however. For example, I wasn’t completely sold on David Selby’s portrayal of Commissioner Gordon, his voice is a bit too quavering. I suppose that fits in that Gordon is on the verge of retirement, but I felt that he needed some authority in his voice that was lacking. Wade Williams as Two-Face seemed a little too wooden as a broken man but Gary Anthony Williams (Mutant Leader) and Ariel Winter (Carrie/Robin) were excellent. And of course, Peter Weller definitely did justice to his portrayal as older and wearier Batman. As I mentioned before, if there was one thing that they did do wrong, with Peter Weller was skimp on his lines—he should have been doing more inner monologuing or something. Or maybe brought in a second actor, just to handle the “Batman” voice that spoke to Bruce Wayne at times; one that was even deeper or more animalistic than Weller's.

    Usually, the music or background soundtrack is decent for these shows but rarely do I really notice or care overmuch. But I have to admit that this time, they really blew me away. Perhaps it was because the lack of the monologuing that I was able to pay attention to the background music is so hauntingly dark and dramatically rousing that it became as much a part of the movie experience as watching Batman beat the crap out of criminals and break their bones doing it and behaving not as a geriatric man but an elemental and monstrous force of the night. A True Dark Knight.

    Overall, this was an exceptional entertaining adaptation of Frank Miller’s original work. Is it a perfectly faithful one? No. But I doubt it would have been possible to adapt Miller’s pages to an animated medium quite as nicely as they did here. The Dark Knight has Most Definitely Returned, and I am overwhelmed that he is back.

    RATING: 4 STARS!!!!

  • They did it. They really did it. I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to do it, but they did. They made the sequel and it didn’t stink.

    Adapting Frank Miller’s comic epic “The Dark Knight Returns” to animation form was one of DC’s more challenging animation projects but they succeeded by choosing to make it as faithful adaptation as they could. And more importantly, they chose not to compact the storyline as much as they often do. Personally, I thought that the overall pacing did move a bit fast—I would have tried to stretch things out a little but overall the movie managed to move things around without feeling too rushed and wraps everything up fairly nicely if not completely neatly.

    The plot is excellent, picking up where the first movie ended and "Dark Knight Returns Part 2" is the grim denouement of this story. This sequel is the inevitable backlash to Batman’s retaking Gotham City by storm. Sure, he’s kicked out the Mutant Gangs, but The Powers That Be aren’t pleased, the Joker is madder than ever, and the new Commissioner is gunning for Bats.

    The first part was an outstanding build up which rewarded us with the return of the Dark Knight after a 10 year hiatus. It was a magnificent opening act where we get Two-Face, his defeat by the Mutant Leader, the new Robin, and his inevitable return to brutally destroy the Mutant Leader. Now, we get the really meaty section of Frank Miller’s tale. We get the Batman’s final confrontation with his greatest enemy; the Joker and more importantly, we get him going up against Superman in the unforgettable grand finale.

    I know a lot of people might be a bit disappointed with that part. I mean, it’s Superman! Why are they fighting? Aren’t they friends? Why? This is Batman. Why stick Superman in this story?

    But Green Arrow said it best. The world is NOT big enough for these two titans. And they have never been friends. They’re not best buddies. They were acquaintances at best. Reluctant allies who tolerated one another. And why not? They are such magnificent contrasts to one another.

    Superman was taught by his adoptive parents to stand as a Champion for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Their lives was his inspiration. And Batman? His parents taught him something else when they were lying on the cold hard pavement, dying in front of his helpless eyes after being shot by a merciless criminal. Their deaths transformed him into an Avenger who lurks in the shadows, preying on criminals and becoming their nightmare, their personal demon and their boogeyman who makes them wet themselves.

    Sure, Miller could have written in the Gotham PD, or the National Guard, or even the US Army, the Marines, and the Navy to try and take Batman down. But WOULD such a confrontation have that kind of impact as seeing Supes and Batman pounding away at each other? And besides, who else is big enough to stand a chance against the Dark Knight?

    They’ve disagreed over means and methods, about the law and government, over all kinds of things and now—here, their final argument is going to be told and it’s going to show once and for all—who is the stronger of the two. The God? Or the Man?

    And just for the record? Bet on Batman.

    The Joker, when all said and done just can’t quite equal the emotional impact of those two going at it hammer and tongs. Still, it was a real turning point of the storyline where the Joker and Batman did finally have it out with Bats almost losing it and killing the pasty white psychopath, but he maintained his morality and the Joker went out of his way to screw him over one last time. It felt right. This is how both of these two old nemesis should end one another, even Batman’s last contemptuous spitting on the Joker’s body.

    The animation is without a doubt, uniformly excellent and as good as the previous outing. What’s more, the final battle with Bats versus Superman was beautifully animated. Batman’s brutality and use of his intellect to counter Superman’s raw power was totally overwhelming and the animation was artfully handled and was even better than Miller’s version on the printed page. Whoever claims that Superman would automatically win a fight between him and Batman needs to watch this fight and reconsider their “opinion”. Yeah, in a fair fight Supes could easily thrash Bats with his little pinkie. But there is no way that Bats will EVER fight fair.

    The violence and gore has definitely been stepped up in Bats’ fight against the Joker and it might be a bit too much for little kids, but big kids (like me) will find it thrilling and damn good entertainment with Batman not playing around with the Joker anymore.

    The music is just as compelling as before in the first part and has the same somber, haunting tone, and dark mood as before which helps enhance the entire atmosphere of the movie.

    As for the voice actors, I have to admit that I was wrong about David Selby (Commissioner Gordon) who proved his mettle in this last saga of the Dark Knight. Otherwise, we had award winning performances from Peter Weller (Batman) and newcomers Mark Valley (Superman) and Michael Emerson (Joker). Emerson in particular is to commended for a much creepier psychopath performance than I expected, easily becoming one of the great Jokers like Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamil, or Heath Ledger.

    I did think that some of the scenes, like with President Ronald Regan were a bit too much blatant copying of Frank Miller’s work. Miller’s political satire was just a little too dated for this modern day adaptation. Otherwise, the Dark Knight Returns Part 2 definitely lives up to the promise of the first half, providing an excellent finish to a great story. You will need to watch "The Dark Knight Returns Part 1" to fully appreciate the sequel, but it’s definitely worth it. "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" has serious competition to be one of the very best animated Batman movies in my opinion and this (and Part 1) is one of those ‘must-see’ movies.

    RATING: 4 STARS!!!!

  • I have fond memories of this movie as a kid. As an adult, I can readily see it’s flaws as it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The entire movie is a family friendly and lighthearted comedy.

    The plot itself is a rather interesting take. Instead of a superhero with real superpowers, it’s about a goofy and clumsy comic book writer Woody Wilkins (Michael Crawford) who is fiercely determined to 'write well' about his greatest creation, the comic book character “CondorMan”. To that end, he goes through extreme measures to ensure that his characters never do anything that cannot be accomplished in real life such as dressing up in his hero’s flying suit and jumping off a building to see if it will actually work. The storyline is a bit weak here and there, particularly where this unlikely hero gets involved in escorting a beautiful Russian spy who wants to defect.

    Amazingly enough, the CIA is so desperate to arrange this defection, that they agree to put their super-scientific know-how and resources to actually creating a bunch of Woody’s wilder ideas to real life from the 'Condor Mobile' and a retooled 'Condor Suit'. But the plot isn’t the strong suit, it’s not really about realism but rather absurdism which this movie has in spades.

    Overall, the characters weren’t playing Shakespeare. They are a bit cartoonish but they’re supposed to be as this is mainly for kids. As far as special effects, if you’re sharp eyed enough, you can spot some of the more obvious wires and stuff but considering this was made in the early 1980s, I think it was one of the better special effect films for this era.

    "Condorman" is a G-Rated version of James Bond; it’s good vs. evil, the beautiful young woman falling for the good hearted klutz over the bad guy, and they live happily ever after. I fear that most children today would find this movie far too boring and old fashioned with it’s archaic special effects but if you lived during the 1980’s era of movies, then you’ll find it moderately entertaining and a mindless enough show for an hour and a half.

    RATING: 2 STARS.

  • This movie is not going to win Oscars but it is a perfectly excellent mindless action movie that is based on the immensely popular 'Judge Dredd' comic strip from the "2000 AD" British anthology comic series. Unlike the previous 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone, "Dredd" is a much more faithful adaptation to the series although they did away with some trivial cosmetics to the uniforms to make it more workable and so they didn’t stab themselves while walking.

    Taking place in a post-apocalyptic future, the remnants of humanity scramble to survive in Mega-City One where civilization is breaking down. The only force that is barely keeping things together is a new breed of law officer which act as police, judge, jury, and executioners all in one.

    The storyline is fairly simple and straightforward as a cop story; the young rookie Judge is on the verge of failing her training and they decide to throw her in the ‘deep end’ by assigning her to serve a day alongside a veteran Judge known as Dredd for assessment. A routine call however turns deadly as the pair stumble onto the base of operations for the newest and most ruthless drug syndicates in Mega-City One and they have a witness whose testimony would destroy them. To save themselves, the syndicate takes control of the mega-apartment building and locks it down, trapping the Judges and the witness inside and they find themselves fighting a siege war against an entire army of thugs and criminal scum to save themselves and incidentally the witness as well.

    It’s over the top with violence, loads of gunfire even gigantic VULCAN gatling guns, and slow-motion special effects thanks to a special drug ‘Slo-Mo’ which accelerates a person’s perceptions and also made for some great and hideously realistic scenes where we get to see how the human body reacts to impacts or bullets or other such trauma. I also found the entire set and environment to be highly detailed and well done. The entire city looks like a decrepit and decaying monolithic concrete monstrosity. The megastructure of Peach Trees was similar; a gritty, dirty rotting slum.

    Even though this movie’s titular character is Dredd, in actuality this movie is all about Olivia Thirlby (Anderson) who was superb as the vulnerable yet tough psychic Judge. She was great at being the foil to Karl Urban (Judge Dredd) in the film. I was deeply surprised to discover that Urban acted in the film by the way. I suppose it was the rather concealing helmet that he constantly wore but he affected this raspy voice that sounded nothing like I remember from his last performance as Dr. McCoy from "Star Trek". He was solid, uncompromising, dour, and rather one-dimensional; but his character was intended to be like that and every so often, he projected such controlled rage in his voice that he was rather scary and intimidating. He definitely did justice to his character. Lena Headey (Ma-Ma) was rather convincing in her role as a brutal and merciless crime boss and overall, the rest of the cast were believable in their limited roles as well.

    I found the entire movie to be neat throwback to Sergio Leone’s old fashioned Westerns with ‘The Man With No Name’ could be Dredd as ‘The Man Who Never Takes Off His Helmet’. They could have screwed things up by delving too much into the history of Mega-City One, having too much sci-fi cluttering the screen, or bringing in one of Dredd’s greater villains but instead, they decided to make it a great introductory story to Dredd and his world and you want to give thanks that you’re not living in it. I could see this movie spawning a few sequels or even a television series, it’s simply that good. It’s easy to see why Judge Dredd is such an enduring character that has survived all these decades. Clint Eastwood has a worthy successor for the 21st Century. Watch it and Judge for yourself.

    RATING: 3 and 1/2 STARS.

  • One of the best adaptations of Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern to the silver screen. The animation is crisp and interesting and this is what Green Lantern should have been doing in the live action film; flying in space, using planets as billiard balls/make-shift weapons, and everything else.

    What I particularly liked about this one is unlike the live action piece of crap, this animated feature actually had a storyline in it that was fairly compelling. This isn't so much as an origin story but showing the Green Lantern Corps and the rise of Hal Jordan and the fall of Sinestro. It's a story of two cops; the older, cynical, and corrupt veteran and the younger, idealistic, brash but talented rookie. What's interesting is that they actually make Sinestro an interesting and complex villain. In his own way, he's trying to make the universe a better place.

    His little rant to Hal was chilling to me: "Let me tell you, friend. The only way to operate out here is by fear. They hit, I hit harder. They attack, I annihilate. I am the one constant, unassailable force against their chaos and you made them forget that. You think I enjoy this? Look at the universe the Guardians have created. We have the greatest power in the cosmos and what have they made us? Garbage collectors! We pick up the trash. A thief here, a killer there. Scum, dirt, filth! There's no end to it, but there could be. It's my dream that one day all of this rot will be wiped away. A new order will prevail, one that will end the chaos but it won't be built by the faint of heart. You got soft on me back there, Earth boy, and that I WILL not tolerate."

    It's a mentality that you wonder if some veteran cops don't begin to adopt in the real world. It's so terrifying because it touches a real nerve. Safety over freedom, security over justice. Committing atrocities and believing that the ends justify the means. Fear overcoming Will.

    The voice actors are excellent in this; one of my favorites was Michael Masden (Kilowog) and Christopher Meloni (Hal Jordan) was great in his role as well. But Victor Garber (Sinestro) was the best of the lot. I could actually feel his anger, his humor, and his personality throughout the film. The other actors did very well, but I thought that his performance was definitely a cut above.

    DC is in fine form as far as the animation goes with realistic character designs that aren't the bulky broadchested over-developed bodybuilder musculature of Bruce Timm's era and they move well and extremely fluidly. I thought that the various alien designs were similarly well done and the sets are interesting as well. The Green Lantern ring effects and constructs were also pleasing to the eye with the ability to change their shapes fluidly and lacking the annoying semi-transparency that the live action movie had.

    Unlike most of the animated films, this one didn't seem that they sacrificed too much or compacted the storyline; but were determined to tell the story to the best of their ability and it shows in the quality of "First Flight".

    It's a great film and story, well worth watching. Some of the scenes were a bit graphic such as one alien getting sucked out into space through a tiny hole in the hull of the spaceship, but it's just part of what makes this entire film feel real and not at all cartoony.

    RATING: 4 and 1/2 STARS!!!!

  • Marvel did a superb job on this film; it’s clear that they’re world building and expanding for the future and it shows. I found "Guardians of the Galaxy" to be entirely fun and entertaining movie. One of it’s few weaknesses, like so many team movies is that we have very little when it comes to the background of the characters and they try to give everybody some screen time, and disappointingly not everybody gets enough—even major characters such as Gamora and Drax don’t even get some flashbacks to enhance their origins, just exposition dialogue. And so these great characters truly do deserve it. In addition, the character of Ronan is profoundly one of the biggest faults to the film as he is a one-dimensional villain.

    But I think that the Guardians are a totally different change of pace from other comic book team movies such as "the Avengers", the "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", "Watchmen", and the "X-Men" is that the whole group is nothing but as Peter Quill puts it, “losers”. They are not heroic paragons or idealists but iconoclastics and criminals who are literally thrown together by fate and chance and take a stand and say, “we’re a bunch of a-holes, but we’re not 100 percent dicks” in that they’re not going to simply stand by and letting billions of innocents get killed.

    Overall, the plot is extremely well crafted and first rate. It doesn’t seem to slow or drag at spots as we are introduced to Peter Quill who was abducted from Earth as a young boy by a group of criminals and thieves and grew up to manhood among them. Stealing an alien artifact, he finds himself pursued by just about everybody including Gamora the Assassin and Rocket and Groot; a pair of eccentric bounty hunters. Ending up in prison, he is forced to team up with his former enemies to escape and finds himself forming an unlikely team of misfits and outcasts who have all been looking for a family to belong to.

    Then, Ronan the big villain appears and steals the artifact, an unparalleled weapon of mass destruction and Quill and the others are forced to make a decision. To let Ronan kill billions of innocents or run away as they always have before? As it turns out; they are a bit more decent, heroic, and idealistic than anyone—even the rest of the galaxy thought. It’s nonstop adventure and action throughout yet balances itself nicely with a lot of comedic one liners that keep it from being too depressing or dark.

    "Guardians of the Galaxy" doesn’t take itself very seriously and I think that is why it is so refreshing film; sort of like "The Avengers" crossed with "Star Wars".

    As for the casting, they were first rate. Chris Pratt as the rougish Peter Quill was great. He had a fantastic balance between irreverent jerk and sympathetic hero as well as a great comedic wit and surprisingly managed to portray some emotional depth and sensitivity when needed. Dave Bautista was a fine surprise as Drax the Destroyer; Zoe Saldana was pretty good as the warrior Gamora; Michael Rooker was a nice mix of a twisted criminal as Yondu; and say what you will about Lee Pace might have come off as rather one-dimensional as Ronan, he had the dramatic voice to project the overblown megalomaniac psycho convincingly. And Bradley Cooper just simply stole the show as the voice of the anthromorphic Rocket Raccoon. He was funny, engaging, and a great quipster.

    The special effects were vividly striking and strange enough for a science fiction epic from Quill’s Star Lord helmet materializing to the Nova Corps spaceships, to Quill freezing to death in space, to even Ronan’s Death Star Destroyer and Yondu’s floating armor piercing arrow. Not to mention the different planets, the aliens, and all created a unique and different universe than we’re used to. The 80s music soundtrack was a nice retro touch as well.

    Unlike Marvel’s previous showings, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a pretty obscure comic book series that they’ve chosen to adapt unlike such staples like “Iron Man”, “Thor”, “Captain America”, and “the Avengers” comics into the cinematic universe that they’re been crafting. Of course, that gives them a lot more freedom and flexibility as well and they used it extremely well in creating a new universe and it’s very different, very zany, and energetic as well. It’s unique and uplifting space opera romp, definitely worth seeing not just once but again as an incredible mix of superhero sci-fi and comedic moments. I think even someone who isn’t a comic book fan would have a good time with this movie and if you have seen all of Marvel’s cinematic features; then you’ll appreciate this movie even more as it expands and diversifies the worlds you’ve seen and the hints that it throws into the future for the fans to enjoy. Of course you realize, they’ll have to have Howard the Duck in the future movies too.

    RATING: 4 and 1/2 STARS!!!!

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FIVE STARS: Agents of SHIELD