Friday, July 13, 2018

Batman 66 - Episodes 53-56 Reviews

Time for another chilling story with a different actor and while we're at it, some practical jokes too. Ah, sure why not?

2x19: Green Ice

To this show's credit, they've never overused a character like Mr Freeze but it has been interesting that each time he's appeared, it's been with a different actor in the role (Gotham will later have this dilemma with Ivy and others too). George Sanders debuted in the role and did a good job and here, it's Otto Preminger assuming the mantle of the chilliest villain going. In this episode alone, Freeze kidnaps Miss Iceland with the intention of making her his bride, turns the media against the Dynamic Duo, hijacks an Emerald themed party at Wayne Manor and tries to turn Batman and Robin into slushies. As you do. Not to mention henchmen faking it up as Batman and Robin too for good measure. 7/10

2x20: Deep Freeze

Keeping with the chills, there's something rather amusing in Freeze's attempts of changing Miss Iceland's feelings towards being an absolute disaster for him. Less amusing was him then turning her into an ice sculpture while being convinced that Batman and Robin were dead for a couple of moments. It's a strong second part to an overall decent second offering from Freeze. Watching the character in this series does serve as a reminder than he didn't always have a tragic origin story. Oh and there's the fact that the series responsible for his definitive story also had an episode with the same title as this one. 7/10

2x21: The Impractical Joker

Not one of my favourite stories involving the Joker to be honest. I think there was a case of the show needed to have him every so often, almost as though viewers wouldn't forget him but sometimes the story didn't always justify it. This one just isn't his best one, even if it does give him a nifty device that allows him to slow the Dynamic Duo down for a bit, even if they're quickly able to counteract the box's purpose before we even get into the second part. I did like the reference to The Green Hornet though in this one. 6/10

2x22: The Joker's Provokers

And it gets a bit dafter in this one. Much as I love the campness of this show, the idea of time travel does seem like a stretch even for this one. Here though, we've got Alfred in the guise of a security guard in order to help the Dynamic Duo thwart the Joker and minions. Sidenote: it's refreshing to see the moll, Cornelia not want to become good or fancy Batman too. It does make a nice change. Alfred's great fun in this episode and the Joker doesn't seem too concerned with another one of his schemes actually failing. Fortunately there's better stories for him on the horizons with these reviews but this one wasn't it. 6/10

Next blog I'll delve into Marsha, Queen of Diamonds/Marsha's Scheme of Diamonds and Come Back, Shame/It's How You Play the Game.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Superman: The Animated Series - Episodes 9-12 Reviews

Into my third venture of episodes and we've got the debut of an intergalactic bounty hunter, the return of a childhood sweetheart and the hint of something darker on a rather aptly titled planet.

Episode 9: The Main Man, Part 1

With this series opening with a three part story, I was a little surprised that they'd launch in with a two parter early again but here we are. In this one we've got intergalactic bounty hunter, Lobo (Brad Garrett) capturing his latest bounty, Sqweek for his latest client, only to be snatched by the Preserver and given the job of capturing Superman for the latter's collection of sole survivors. This first part is a fun set up, giving us a great take on Lobo and it gets even better when after the latter succeeds in snaring Superman, he winds up being added to the collection as well. 8/10

Episode 10: The Main Man, Part 2

Keeping with the fun of the first part, this second part certainly adds to proceedings as both Superman and Lobo are inevitably forced to work with one another in order to defeat the Presever. It's a fun team up with both of them putting their differences aside to make for a solid pairing. There's also a great reveal of what the Preserver really looks like Lobo gets to keep his freedom, give Sqweek to his client and even laments about Superman's solution for the other captives. Definitely a fun story to watch. 8/10

Episode 11: My Girl

Briefly seen in the opening three parter, it was time to catch up with Lana Lang and a fair bit has changed since then. She now seems to be a successful fashion designer and is romantically involved with Lex Luthor. However this episode didn't waste time in having her realise that Clark and Superman are the same person and having her help her friend against an arms dealer associate of Lex as well for good measure, even when it put her in serious danger. There was a nice bit of foreshadowing with Clark and Lois towards the end of this one too. 7/10

Episode 12: Tools Of The Trade

The end reveal with Mannheim arriving on Apokolips and meeting Darkseid is the highlight in an episode that otherwise, I found something of a chore to watch. I didn't really care all that much for the rivalry between Mannheim and the Metropolis PD or even the rivalry between Maggie Sawyer (I think this episode marked her debut) and her fellow detective and even Superman didn't feel as well utilised in this one as well. A misfire for me. 6/10

Next blog I'll delve into Two's A Crowd, Blast From The Past Parts 1 and 2 and The Prometheon.

Monday, July 09, 2018

My Review of Superman Returns (2006)

Written by Bryan Singer & Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris
Directed by Bryan Singer

Superman: "Listen; what do you hear?"
Lois: "Nothing."
Superman: "I hear everything. You wrote that the world doesn't need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one."

Before he'd win us all over as Ray Palmer/The Atom on both Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow, there was a brief time in which Brandon Routh was Superman. It's not often as talked about, probably due to both Christopher Reeve and Henry Cavill's versions of the character being more prominent within the media but for one movie only, Routh more or less made us all believe that a man could fly again.

Oddly set within the continuity (or at least inspired by it) of the Reeve movies, Superman Returns has the titular hero returning to Earth after being absent for five years and catching up with a world that has changed around him. The biggest change being that Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is now married to Perry White's (Frank Langella) nephew Richard White (James Marsden) and has a little boy named, Jason (Tristan Lake Lebeau), who is heavily implied to be Superman's kid throughout the movie.

I'm not going to lie. In terms of chemistry, both Routh and Bosworth don't really radiate much chemistry, even though they're believable enough in their dynamic as Lois and Clark and Lois and Superman. Heck, in Superman's absence, Lois even wrote a scathing article on why the world didn't need Superman even though this movie proved otherwise of course.

Of course while things have dramatically changed for Lois, things somewhat remain the same for Lex Luthor. This time around played with a slightly darker tone in Kevin Spacey, the bald billionaire still wants to cause chaos and kill Superman and yet again nearly succeeds in both before getting his respective comeuppance.

Spacey's take on Luthor isn't quite as beguiling as Hackman's was in the way but it's still preferable to what Eisenberg would do with the role a decade after this movie's release. Lex gets to have some decent scenes with both Lois and Superman and also has another ditzy female assistant with Parker Posey turning in a charming enough performance as Kitty Kowolski and character wise, she's better utilised that either Richard White or Jimmy Olsen (Sam Huntington) are in this movie.

In terms of movies, it's not actually a bad one as such. All the leads are fine in the role and Routh's near resemblance to Reeve is actually striking enough to make you believe this movie could exist in the continuity of the latter's. Saying that though, Lex's plot is a bit too run of the mill at times but the movie does succeed in giving the character a decent return.

- Noel Neill appears at the start of the movie as Lex's elderly wife who dies while Jack Larson is the bartender in a scene with Clark and Jimmy. We also got some Jor El, courtesy of this movie being allowed to use recording of Marlon Brando in the role.
- Amy Adams who would play the role of Lois after Bosworth, actually auditioned for this movie. Then again, she was also in Smallville, which Brandon Routh auditioned for.
- Zod was meant to appear in the movie, but the role got scrapped at the last minute.
- Even though this film was a box office failure, it actually out performed Batman Begins, which was considered a success.

Superman Returns isn't quite the triumph for the Man of Steel that everyone was hoping for at the time. While it's a movie that could've lost about half an hour and maybe gone for a different antagonist other than Lex Luthor, it's a decent enough take on the character with Routh being charming enough in the role.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Batman 66 - Episodes 49-52 Reviews

And it's now time for some Liberace (no really) and someone vying for Mayor. I bet you can guess who though.

2x15: The Devil's Fingers

Of all the people to guest star in this show, I have to admit to being genuinely floored with Liberace being brought in as a guest baddie. Even more impressive was the fact that the show decided to give us double the fun with him too. On one hand, we got to see him as concert pianist, Chandell, who had set his sights on Aunt Harriet and not for love while on the other hand, he was also the gangster twin brother, Harry. Both roles are fabulously played, there's a lot of Aunt Harriet for good measure (this two parter is her best in the whole series) and you got that moment where the Dynamic Duo were about to become sheet music as well. Delightful. 9/10

2x16: The Dead Ringers

The second part of this story really upped the ante. Having both Bruce and Dick fake their deaths to smoke out both Chandell and Harry's scheming was interesting along with the brothers inevitably betraying each other. However the best moment of this episode was Harriet just showing us all what a total badass she could be when she realised that Harry was posing as Chandell and she pointed a gun at him, quickly realising that he was scheming to marry her to get the Wayne inheritance. Seriously, this was a side to Harriet that the show really should've delved into more often. There is a bit of redemption story for Chandell as he and his brother have gone on a long tour. The fact that this two parter was the highest rated episodes for the series isn't too much of a surprise though. 9/10

2x17: Hizzoner The Penguin

Penguin running for Mayor? Oh, go on, then. This won't be the first time Oswald will go for the job and it won't be the last either. In this episode alone, he does a lot to curry public favour and with Batman lacking the pizzazz in his own attempts to run against Oswald, it's a little easy to see why Oswald was wooing people left, right and centre in this one. I even love the devious bit where some voters decide to put Batman and Robin in a trap and Oswald chooses not to get involved. He really is a politician is that Cobblepot fella. 8/10

2x18: Dizzoner The Penguin

Okay, failed attempts to get rid of the competition to one side, at least the Penguin upped the entertainment stakes when trying to be Mayor, even if he later had to resort to a little kidnapping in order to get a recount that didn't work out for him. Still though, Batman got the job, gave it back to Linseed (who can look forward to getting it snatched away from him in a year's time) and even found himself getting other offers to run for different offices. I think for now, we're probably better for with Batman as a crime fighter than aspiring politician. 8/10

Next blog I'll delve into Green Ice/Deep Freeze and The Impractical Joker/The Joker's Provokers.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Superman: The Animated Series - Episodes 5-8 Reviews

Second blog for this particular animated show and within these episodes, Lex makes his hatred towards Superman known while Parasite, Metallo and Brainiac come out to play.

Episode 5: A Little Piece Of Home

Two big things in this episode. Okay three if you count the giant robotic dinosaur that Lex uses to try (and fail) to kill both Superman and Lois Lane in this episode. Anyways, the two other big things include the introduction of Lex's right hand woman, Mercy Graves (Lisa Edelstein), who wastes no time in proving her willingness to do anything her boss asks of her while the second thing was the introduction of Kryptonite, which Lex quickly realises can be used to weaken Superman and does so before the latter manages to get rid of it for now. 7/10

Episode 6: Feeding Time

Parasite isn't one of my favourite Superman villains but for an introduction episode, this was actually pretty good to be honest. We got to see the lowly Rudy constantly being trampled on by everyone before his transformation into Parasite and you could sort of get why he'd enjoy lording his new abilities, especially when he had the power to subdue Superman himself and keep him prisoner. This was also a great episode for Jimmy, who stepped in and helped Superman against Parasite while the ending nicely hinted that he hadn't forgotten everything. 8/10

Episode 7: The Way Of All Flesh

It didn't take long for Corben to be brought back into the show and I'm a little surprised (though not by much) that they went down the Metallo route so quickly with him. Lex was certainly at his most ruthless with the way in which he tricked John in agreeing to become Metallo and the fights between the latter and Superman, especially on Luthor's yacht were nicely done though. Of course Metallo meets a tragic end of sorts with the hint he'll resurface again while Lex has the upper hand on Superman, which he revels in pointing out. 7/10

Episode 8: Stolen Memories

Keeping with moving things along in a nice pace, Brainiac actually made his way to Earth and didn't waste time in forming an alliance and trying to tempt Superman into letting him take over the planet as well as destroying it. Of course Brainiac's great plan doesn't work out and while Lex might be seething at being duped by the intelligence, Superman found a good way to deal with him while at the same time, we got see the Fortress of Solitude for the first time. 8/10

Next blog I'll look into The Main Man Parts 1 & 2, My Girl and Tools Of The Trade.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Batman 66 - Episodes 45-48 Reviews

Into another slew of episodes and this time around, both the dilemma of time and eggs play a part with our baddies in question.

2x11: The Clock King's Crazy Crimes

Ah, the Clock King. A man who is a stickler for timing and can often be something of a mixed bag, baddie wise. Here he is played by Walter Slezak who does a pretty good job in making the character interesting enough as the Clock King uses the guise of a pop up artist to fool the Dynamic Duo in one rather interesting scene. Another and keeping with the theme of this baddie was having both Batman and Robin trapped within an hourglass as part of the cliffhanger for this one, which I found pretty great. There's also a rather nice cameo from Sammy Davis, Jr in this one too. 7/10

2x12: The Clock King Gets Crowned

With the Dynamic Duo out of the hourglass pretty sharpish, the second half of this story focuses on the Clock King's attempts to rob Wayne Manor and even try to take poor Aunt Harriet as a hostage before being outwitted by Bruce and Dick. It's a bit of a letdown after the first part being the stronger of the two. This is the only time we see the Clock King and while Slezak is good in the role, the story does peter out a little in this part. 6/10

2x13: An Egg Grows In Gotham

After King Tut, my favourite original villain for this series is Egghead and with Vincent Price in the role and fully mebracing the silliness of his eggscellent punning character, it's hard not to have love Egghead here. In this story he kidnaps Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and two other billionaires and quickly deduces through his own instincts that Bruce must be Batman. There's also a subplot with an Indian Chief that's amusing enough and Egghead's own batches of eggs seem to range from the acidic to the infectious laughter kind. An eggscellent debut for this baddie. 8/10

2x14: The Yegg Foes In Gotham

Thanks to his alliance with Egghead, Screaming Chicken is now the owner of Gotham and it's not long before he's betrayed by the latter and the city has gone into some mini-chaos due to Egghead's control over things. This also included trying to get the Dynamic Duo banned from the city before Egghead literally ended up with egg on his face following a fun confrontation with Batman and Robin in Old MacDonald's coop. There's also another moment where it looks like Gordon is addressing the audience when talking to Mayor Linseed over the city needing the Caped Crusaders as well. 8/10

Next blog I'll delve into The Devil's Fingers/The Dead Ringers and Hizzonner the Penguin/Dizzoner the Penguin

Superman: The Animated Series - Episodes 1-4 Reviews

It's been overdue and I would've started this a bit earlier in the month but got distracted with real life for a while. Without a further ado, it's time to dive into this animated show, which opens with a three parter and has a creepy Toyman in the mix.

Episode 1: The Last Son Of Krypton, Part 1

Like I said, this series opened with a three parter and the first part of that one is set during Krypton's final day. Jor El (Christopher McDonald) is worried about his planet's destruction and despite not being initially believed by his wife, Lara (Finola Hughes), he soon discovers that Brainiac (Corey Burton) is aware of the planet's imminent demise and is more interested in saving himself than figuring out a solution to save Krypton. As the planet begins it's final moments, there's only enough time for Jor El and Lara to put their son in a pod and send him to Earth. 7/10

Episode 2: The Last Son Of Krypton, Part 2

Speeding things up a bit here, we open with Jonathan (Mike Farrell) and Martha Kent (Shelley Faberes) finding baby Kal El's pod, adopting the child inside it and calling him Clark Kent. as a teenager we also see Clark (Jason Marsden) develop his powers in front of his best friend and crush, Lana Lang (Kelly Schmidt) before learning of his heritage and moving to Metropolis and getting himself a job at the Daily Planet. There our adult Clark (Tim Daly) becomes Superman and develops a fun rivarly with fellow reporter Lois Lane (Dana Delany) while a media event with Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown) ends in disaster. 8/10

Episode 3: The Last Son Of Krypton, Part 3

Ending this three parter, the focus shifts onto Lex's own corruption as he happily admits to Superman that he's played a huge role in building Metropolis while Lois herself ends up in danger when she uncovered  Lex's plot to sell the LEXO-SKEL SUIT 5000 to Kaznian terrorists, via their agent John Corben. This won't be the first time in the series where Lois winds up in danger but already I am loving the rapport with her and Clark and even the added rivalry between herself and fellow reporter, Angela Chen (Lauren Tom). The episode also ends on the note of an escaped Brainiac looking for Clark as well, which should be interesting to see unfold throughout the series. 8/10

Episode 4: Fun And Games

After a three part opening story to debut the series, it was time to see what the show could do with something more standalone and the result are rather creepy. Toyman is a villain I'm a little lukewarm on but here, thanks to a chilling design and voice performance from Bud Cort. This Toyman goes out of his way to get revenge on a mobster while also dressing up Lois in a creepy doll costume and forcing her to report what he wants her to before Superman arrives to save the day. It's a pretty strong episode and surprisingly a little dark in parts. 8/10

Next blog I will look into A Little Piece Of Home, Feeding Time, The Way Of All Flesh and Stolen Memories.

My Review of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)

Written by Christopher Reeve & Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal
Directed by Sidney J. Furie

Lex Luthor (to Superman): "Goodnight, sweet prince. Parting is... inevitable."

Going by this line, a part of me wonders if there's some UST between the Man of Steel and his most popular adversary. It certainly would explain a lot about Lex's obsession with Superman but at the same time, it's this movie.

The very movie that despite actor Christopher Reeve had some story involvement in was also the same one where he'd tell co-star Jon Cryer that they were basically filming a turkey. Is Reeve right on that matter? Let's face it, this movie is far from loved, even if it has the bonuses of a third outing for Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor and Margot Kidder back in a far bigger role as Lois Lane.

Unfortunately though, this movie is also another reason as to why these superhero movies are better off expanding on other prominent baddies though. You would've thought by this time someone would've attempted to have used the likes of Bizarro, Doomsday or Darkseid for one of these movies instead of having Lex coming back for another round.

This time around, he's sprung from prison by his dimwitted (but we're supposed to believe he's an actual genius) nephew Lenny (Jon Cryer) and by stealing a strand of Superman's hair that the latter donated to a museum (bit of a reckless thing to do there, Clark), Lex then creates his own super soldier unimaginatively called Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow).

Nuclear Man is another baddie specifically made for the movies and he's not a very engaging baddie. Namely he's a mindless drone for Luthor, even copying his 'father's' speech pattern at various points in the movie but there is a decent enough battle between Nuclear Man and Superman in space before Lex is sent to prison yet again and Lenny is sent to an all boys school where hopefully he's never seen again either.

In terms of threats, the quest for peace had the potential to be interesting but it just didn't come together that well. On the other hand, we also had Perry White (Jackie Cooper) temporarily lose control of the Daily Planet to David Warfield (Sam Wanamaker) and his daughter, Lacy (Mariel Hemingway) - the latter with an overt interest in Clark and who actually a far better written character than her father was in the whole movie. Needless to say though, Perry did get control of the Daily Planet before the very movie did end.

As for Lois, this was a better movie for her than the third one but even still aside from an odd quadrangle involving herself, Lacy and both Clark/Superman and realising that she cares for Clark, her role still isn't hugely satisfying though. There was even a brief moment when it felt like she was going to remember Clark and Superman being the same person but that came to nothing though.

- Aside from appearing in all four of these movies, Marc McClure (Jimmy Olsen) also appeared in Supergirl, which was released between the third and fourth movies. I will be reviewing that one too.
- There was tension between both Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder during filming of this one.
- Apparently this film was meant to be 134 minutes but was scaled down to 90 minutes. It was also a box office failure.
- There was nice opening scenes set in Smallville where Clark talked to Lara before talking about not selling his parents farm.

Superman IV: The Quest For Peace like Batman & Robin a decade later brought something of halt to a disappointing end to an overall great movie saga. Despite the behind the scenes chaos, Reeve does try his best but compared to even the third movie, it does feel like he's going through the motions a bit at times and the results of this movie are seriously undercooked at best.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

My Review of The Sword In The Stone (1963)

Written by Bill Peet
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman

Arthur:"Knowledge and wisdom is the real power."
Merlin: "Right you are,Wart, so stick to your schooling, boy."

I really do have an unbridled love for this movie. Adaptations of Merlin and Arthur are ten a penny with some obviously being better than others and this lovely little movie from Disney is definitely in the category of one of my favourites.

Following the death of Uther Pendragon, England is in disarray with no heir in sight, which means there's competition to be seated on the throne. This is where Sir Ector (Sebastian Cabot) comes in, determined that his boorish son, Sir Kay (Norman Alden) could be the next king, while at the same time, the former's foster kid, or Kay's squire known as Wart (Rickie Sorenson) comes into wizened wizard Merlin (Karl Swenson) who is determined to educate the boy along with his snarky owl, Archimedes (Junius Matthews).

Wart's education seems to be mostly changing him into different animals and putting him into a series of dangers. As a fish, Wart has to avoid a crocodile from trying to eat him while as a squirrel, he's forced to fight off the affections of a female squirrel as well as a hungry and malnourished looking wolf. Then he's turned into a little bird and soon finds himself in danger of Madam Mim (Martha Wentworth), the closest to a proper antagonist that the movies seems to have.

Madam Mim is a fun baddie to watch as she revels in human suffering with a song in her heart and an ability to change into various animals. This leads to a brilliant battle of wits between Mim and Merlin as the two try to outdo each other on the animal front before the latter comes up with an underhanded way to deal with Mim. Unlike some other Disney baddies, Mim actually managed to survive this movie.

As for the rest of the movie, there's a bit of a falling out between Merlin and Arthur when the latter shows an interest in being Sir Kay's squire but given what this is based on, it's not long before Arthur discovers his true destiny and removes a sword from a certain stone and ends the movie by becoming England's newest King.

For an adaptation, this one is a lot of fun with Arthur, Merlin and Archimedes making for a joyful trio. There's a few allusions to Merlin's abilities to travel into the future and one hilarious moment where Archimedes takes satisfaction in Merlin being wrong about humans being able to fly.

- This movie is based on T.H White's book of the same title. The book was released a few years before this movie's release.
- There's a few obvious riffs to Sleeping Beauty in this movie.
- Bill Peet largely drew on Disney himself in his depiction of Merlin for this movie.
- The movie is also getting a live action version.

The Sword In The Stone is probably one of the more underrated Disney movies but it's a lot of fun. I really loved this one as a kid and even now having watched it again recently, it still holds up pretty well for an animated take on the Arthurian legend.

Rating: 8 out of 10