action, adventure, animation, movie, movie review

November 20th, 2017 Movie – Batman And Harley Quinn

batman and harley quinn

Ok, so you might be wondering why I have backtracked to today’s movie. Well, this kind of goes along with my quest to review The Star Wars Holiday Special on it’s anniversary. I bought a lot of movies in order to review the special on that exact date but once I achieved that goal, I had a problem with several movies that I had pre-ordered. Now I could have just kept them at my house and held off on watching them, but that temptation would have been too much for me. So, I decided to remove the temptation and as soon as the movies came in, I would take them to my friends’ house and have them hold onto them for me. After I reviewed the special, I got the movies back, which honestly weren’t that many, and am now handling those reviews. So this is one of those movies that I heard about and thought it sounded like a pretty funny idea. The fact that it is one of DC’s animated movies didn’t hurt matters either. So lets see the trouble that occurs in today’s movie, Batman And Harley Quinn.

The plot: Poison Ivy and Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man, break into S.T.A.R. Labs and steal the information regarding Dr. Alec Holland’s work in bio-regeneration. When Batman and Nightwing arrive and discover what the two criminals had taken, they decide to split up. Batman heads to A.R.G.U.S. to find out information about a recently kidnapped scientist, Professor Harold Goldblum, and learns he had been working on biological warfare weapons. Meanwhile, Nightwing tries to find Harley Quinn, to see if she knows where Poison Ivy might be hiding out. He eventually finds her working at a super-hero themed restaurant, posing as herself, and follows her back to her place, where Harley call him out for following her. Nightwing tries asking her where Poison Ivy might be hiding but Harley refuses to help, as she has gone straight since she was paroled and wants nothing to do with the “costume” crowd anymore. When Nightwing taunts her about working as a waitress, Harley gets angry and attacks him and the two end up fighting in an alley, with Harley ending up being the victor when she secretly injects Nightwing with a mild dose of Joker Venom and knocks him unconscious while he is incapacitated by it. When Nightwing comes too, he finds himself tied to Harley’s bed while she talks to herself over what she should do with him. Noticing he has regained consciousness, Harley shows him the stack of rejection letters she received when she applied to work at psychiatric institutes, as well as offers for more R-rated type of work, and Nightwing feels guilty for his comments. Harley goes to change but when she notices Nightwing reaction to her body, she decides to seduce him, offering to help him in return. Meanwhile, Batman is searching Goldblum’s home and discovers a leaf from Woodrue and confirms that they are behind his kidnapping. He attempts to contact Nightwing but gets no response so he goes looking for him and finds Nightwing and Harley, both fully dressed, fooling around on her bed. After quietly admonishing Nightwing for his actions, Batman meets Harley at the Batmobile and refuses to meet Harley’s demands, saying she will help them because the lives of everyone on the planet are at stake. Harley starts to direct them to where Ivy might be heading but quickly makes them stop the car, as she spots her former boyfriend and chases after him and starts to beat him up for standing her up at the senior prom before Batman pulls her off of him. Back in the Batmobile, Harley directs them to a bar frequented by villainous henchmen and seeks out one of Ivy’s regular henchmen. After getting the information from him, they go to leave but find their way blocked by the other henchmen, who want payback on Batman and Robin, so the trio are forced to fight their way out. At their lair, Ivy and Woodrue have Goldblum test the formula on a rat but when it fails, Goldblum theorizes that they need to use the water and biological matter from the same swamp where Holland became Swamp Thing to make the serum work. Batman, Nightwing, and Harley show up and Ivy is shocked to see Harley working with the two heroes. Nightwing battles with Ivy while Batman tried to deal with Woodrue but they are unable to subdue the two villains. When a fire breaks out and separates them, Woodrue grabs the research notes and chemicals, then kills Goldblum as he starts to come out of Ivy’s pheremone control. Ivy is hesitant to leave Harley in the fire but Woodrue grabs her and drags her out of the building as portions of the roof collapse. Once outside, Woodrue hands Ivy part of a tuber he grabbed from Swamp Thing’s corpse when he had briefly died, and tells her to eat it, which connects the two to The Green and allows them to travel to the Louisiana swamp. Batman and Nightwing manage to free themselves and find Harley comforting the mortally wounded Goldblum. Batman gives Goldblum a sedative to ease his pain and Goldblum tells them where Ivy and Woodrue are heading before he dies. After getting some medical attention, Batman summons the Batwing and prepares to head to Louisiana with Nightwing, thanking Harley for her help. When she argues that she should go with them, Batman tells her he can’t trust her and she starts crying, saying she won’t survive a plant apocalypse, and Nightwing says they should bring her as a contingency plan. They reach Louisiana and head into the swamp, accompanied by some soldiers but the soldiers end up being attacked and killed by some of Ivy and Woodrue’s plant guards. Harley tricks Batman and Nightwing into springing one of Ivy’s traps and when Ivy and Woodrue arrive to see what is happening, Harley attempts to talk Ivy out of going through with her plan. When Ivy refuses to stop, Harley throws a weed killer pellet at the tree holding Batman and Nightwing, freeing them, and the two heroes immediately start attacking Woodrue. Ivy, feeling betrayed, begins attacking Harley and the two friends start fighting until Ivy uses her control over plants to trap Harley. When Harley learns that Ivy hasn’t tested the formula yet, she pull out her ultimate weapon; taking off her cowl and wiping off her makeup before she gives Ivy the sad, puppy dog eyes and then crying, causing Ivy to start crying and hug her friend. Woodrue overpowers Batman and Nightwing and approaches Harley and Ivy using a plant to attack them. Ivy stops the plant but Woodrue knocks her out, then shoves Harley aside as he grabs the formula and approaches the swamp. Suddenly, Swamp Thing emerges from the swamp and chastises Woodrue, saying this is not the way to fix the problem but he will not interfere. Woodrue starts laughing, thinking he has won, while Batman, Nightwing, and Harley feel dejected at Swamp Thing’s refusal to help. Suddenly, Harley reminds them that Woodrue is basically a plant and asks if either of them has a match; prompting Batman and Nightwing to smile and kiss her on the cheek as Batman lights a match and throws it towards Woodrue, setting him on fire and causing him to run burning through the swamp. Some time later, Harley is shown to be helping people overcome their fears and insecurities by having them run through an obstacle course as part of a reality game show.

As much as it pains me to say, this was a little bit of a letdown of a movie. The voice acting was great, with Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester doing a good job reprising their roles of Batman and Nightwing/Dick Grayson from 92’s Batman: The Animated Series. Melissa Rauch did a good job as Harley Quinn and the interplay between her and the other characters was pretty funny. The basic story was pretty good but there was a lot of mixtures of adult and sophomoric humor aspects that honestly felt weird. I know that a lot of the recent animated movies have taken on a more adult aspect in times so the whole Harley seduction thing, while a little weird, wasn’t that bad but the 2-3 minute fart joke was just stupid and really didn’t need to be there. I will say that the throwback to the classic 60’s Batman show, including the henchman taunting Batman by doing the Batusi, was very funny. The animation was pretty good, kind of bringing a nostalgic style to the movie as it was a little different from some of the more recent movies. It feels like a little bit of a step down from their recent work, but it’s still not a bad movie to watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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November 13th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

star wars the clone wars

So with the prequel trilogy a success, it looked like it would be another 15 years or so before we would get a new movie. Luckily, someone at Lucasfilm Animation had a different idea. Before Revenge Of The Sith came out, there was a short animated series on Cartoon Network which won several awards. Seeing how much interest there was in an animated series, Lucasfilm Animation decided to make another series, but this time with a full length movie serving as the pilot for the series. I will admit that I did not see this movie in theaters when it came out but wound up watching it after it showed up on Netflix along with the Clone Wars series a few years ago. So I decided to pick it up on DVD in order to complete my Star Wars collection, which brings us to today’s movie, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The plot: As the Galactic Civil War continues to rage, the Separatists Armies have taken control of the hyperspace lanes, making it difficult for the Jedi and their clone soldiers to move throughout the systems. As this is going on, Jabba the Hutt’s son Rotta is kidnapped by a rival gang and he contacts the Jedi for help in rescuing him. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine says they have to help Jabba, hoping to use the opportunity to make a treaty with the Hutts, who control the Outer Rim, and use their space lanes to help turn the tide of battle. Mace Windu says the only Jedi they can spare are Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, who are finishing a campaign on the planet Christophosis, and Palpatine says to contact them immediately. Mace Windu and Yoda contact the Republic fleet in orbit above Christophosis and ask that they escort their messenger to Obi-Wan and Anakin immediately. On the planet’s surface, Obi-Wan and Anakin, along with their clone troops, manage to successfully hold off an assault by the Separatists’ droid army when a shuttle lands and Ahsoka Tano, a Togruta Padawan exits. Ahsoka relays Yoda’s message to them and when they explain their situation to her, she suggest routing a message from her shuttle to the command ship to try and contact the Jedi Temple. They manage to reach Yoda, who tells them that he will send reinforcements but their transmission is cut off as the command ship, drastically outgunned, is forced to move position and come back for them later. Obi-Wan introduces himself and Anakin to Ahsoka, believing her to be his new Padawan but she explains that Yoda assigned her to Anakin. Anakin is shocked and not happy about this but reluctantly takes her with him as he goes to check on their defenses. Meanwhile, Asajj Ventress, the apprentice to Count Dooku, contacts him to inform him of her success in capturing Rotta when Darth Sidious appears in the hologram and says that their plan to have the Hutts attack the Jedi is proceeding as planned. Back on Christophosis, Anakin introduces Ahsoka to Captain Rex, one of the clone leaders, and as Rex shows Ahsoka around, they see the droids approaching under the cover of an energy shield. Discussing their options, Ahsoka suggest destoying the shield generator and Anakin agrees with her and the two head off to find a way to the generator. Meanwhile, a republic scouting party have followed some bounty hunters to an old monastery on the planet Teth, where they believe Rotta is being kept and report it to Mace and Yoda. Mace tells them to stay out of sight and keep watch while Yoda heads off to rescue Obi-Wan and Anakin. Back on Christophosis, Anakin and Ahsoka hide underneath a box as the shield, and troops, pass over them, then head towards the generator but in her rush to get there, Ahsoka trips the security system, causing droids to appear and attack them. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan and the clones are being overrun so he orders Rex to have the clones fall back to the heavy cannons and defend them while he tries stalling the droids by faking a surrender. Back at the generator, Anakin deals with the droids while Ahsoka plants the explosive charges and as she helps him destroy the last of the droids, she blows up the generator. With the energy shield collapsing, Obi-Wan is able to capture the Separatist general while Rex and the clones destroy the droid tanks and soldiers, just as Yoda and the reinforcements arrive. As they wait to be picked up, Anakin talks with Ahsoka and admits that while rough around the edges, she did a good job and he agrees to take her on as his Padawan. After Anakin and Ahsoka return to their base, Yoda explains the situation and sends Anakin and Ahsoka to Teth to rescue Rotta, while sending Obi-Wan to Tatooine to negotiate an agreement with Jabba. On Tatooine, the heads of the bounty hunters Jabba sent to find his son have been sent back to him and he angrily contacts Palpatine and demands that the Jedi find and return his son. Obi-Wan arrives on Tatooine and meets with Jabba, who demands that they also bring him the ones responsible for kidnapping his son. Anakin and Ahsoka arrive on Teth and after Anakin speaks with the scouts and learns the situation, they head out to the monastery. After reaching the monastery, they scale the cliff walls and make their way to the top. Ahsoka, wanting to beat Anakin to the top, is riding on an AT-TE (All Terrain Tactical Enforcer) but finds herself in trouble when the droids start targeting it and almost causes it to fall. Anakin saves her, and the AT-TE, then commandeers a droid STAP (Single Trooper Aerial Platform) to reach the top, taking out the droids while Ahsoka and the AT-TE take out the Destroyer droids that show up. After securing the monastery, Anakin and Ahsoka head inside, meeting a caretaker droid who tells them where Rotta is. Anakin and Ahsoka head down to the detention levels, dealing with the few droids they find, and find Rotta but Ahsoka notices that he is running a fever so they place him in a med-evac pack. However, Ventress has the caretaker droid record this, which Dooku uses to convince Jabba that the Jedi were the ones to kidnap his son. Back on Teth, Ventress leads a droid army to attack Anakin’s troops and they are forced to fall back into the monastery. As Captain Rex and the clones hold the droids back, Anakin, Ahsoka, and R2 try to find another way out of there so they can save Rotta. They find a hidden platform and try to contact Obi-Wan, who had arrived with reinforcements, to pick them up there but their transmissions are jammed. When Ventress shows up with two Destroyer droids, Anakin has R2 seal the door to buy them some time. Rotta points out another platform with a ship on it and Anakin jumps onto a large flying insect, then grabs Ahsoka as she is trying to fend off Ventress and heads for the platform, with R2 following behind them. When they reach the platform, Ahsoka discovers that the caretaker droid was working with Ventress and the droids and destroys the droids on the ship. Obi-Wan and his reinforcements arrive to help Captain Rex and his surviving men, and Obi-Wan ends up fighting Ventress inside the monastery. Anakin and Ahsoka get the old spice freighter started and make their way to the Republic cruiser but when it comes under too much fire and some droids breach the hangar, they are forced to take the freighter to Tatooine themselves. Ventress and Obi-Wan both sense that Anakin has left the planet and Ventress decides to escape, and contacts Dooku, who has her tell Jabba that Anakin killed Rotta and is now coming to kill him. While making the hyperspace jump, Ahsoka is able to find some medicine to give to Rotta, then helps Anakin work on repairing the ship’s systems in case they find trouble waiting for them. When they reach Tatooine, they are attacked by two droid ships and are able to take them out but not before their ship is damaged and they end up crashing in the desert. Obi-Wan contacts Palpatine, Yoda, and Mace, explaining his thoughts that Ventress and Dooku are trying to make it look like the Jedi kidnapped Rotta in order to get the Hutts to align themselves with the Separatists. When Padme arrives Palpatine dismisses the Jedi and tells her what is going on and Padme offers to negotiate with Jabba but Palpatine tells her that Jabba won’t accept any communication with them so she says she will go see Jabba’s uncle Ziro, who has a club in Coruscant, and see if he will help them get contact, with Palpatine warning her to be careful. Padme heads to the club and attempts to persuade Ziro of the Jedi’s innocence but Ziro refuses to believe her and has her thrown out of the club. Padme sneaks back in and learns that Ziro was working with Dooku to overthrow Jabba but she ends up being captured but is able to get a message to C-3P0 as she is locked up. On Tatooine, Anakin and Ahsoka make their way to Jabba’s palace when they sense Dooku approaching them. Anakin gives Rotta to Ahsoka, telling her to keep going to Jabba’s palace while he faces off with Dooku. As the two fight, Dooku shows Anakin footage from his Magnaguards, who are battling Ahsoka, and Anakin manages to push Dooku back, then takes Dooku’s speeder and heads off. Back on Coruscant, Padme is rescued by some clone troopers and they capture Ziro, who tells them he was forced to help Dooku kidnap Rotta. Back on Tatooine, Ahsoka was knocked down an embankment by the Magnaguards, so Anakin doesn’t see her when he arrives. When Anakin enters the palace and finds Ahsoka isn’t there, he questions Jabba, threatening to kill him and Jabba claims this is proof that the Jedi were here to kill him. Ahsoka finishes off the Magnaguards and arrives at the palace and returns Rotta to Jabba but Jabba still orders them killed. Suddenly, Padme contacts Jabba through Ziro’s communication device and explains how Dooku and Ziro were behind the kidnapping. Jabba says that Ziro will be punished by the Hutt Families and that the Republic forces will be able to use the Hutt’s trade routes to move their ships. As Obi-Wan and Yoda arrive to pick up Anakin and Ahsoka, Dooku makes his escape and contacts Sidious, who says that things are still going their way in the war.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars was panned by the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Mechanical animation and a less-than stellar script make The Clone Wars a pale shadow of George Lucas’ once great franchise.” During one scene in the movie, there is a pink R2 droid called R2-KT. This is a reference to Katie Johnson, the daughter of Albin Johnson (the founder of the 501st Legion), who died of cancer when she was 7 and the costumers built a pink R2 droid to keep her spirits up during her final days. The movie was a box office hit, earning $68.3 million off of an $8.5 million budget and spawned an animated series which lasted for 6 seasons.

This is a pretty entertaining movie that is a nice fit into the Star Wars franchise. The voice acting was pretty good, with Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, and Matthew Wood reprising their roles of Mace Windu, Count Dooku, C-3P0, and the battle droids respectively. The story was pretty interesting, with the idea of Anakin Skywalker having a Padawan making for an interesting story as you are left to wonder what happened to her after he became Vader. The interaction between Anakin and Ahsoka was very well done, with both of them playing off of each other’s impulsiveness. The CGI animation was pretty good, though some characters looked a little too square for my liking but over all, the lines were pretty smooth and well created. A great movie to watch and a nice pause in the Anakin Skywalker saga before he turns into Darth Vader.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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November 1st, 2017 – Spirited Away

spirited away

It figures. I don’t get a Halloween themed movie on Halloween, but the day after I get one involving spirits and a witch. Now I honestly had never heard of today’s movie until it started receiving all of the buzz after it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Even with the buzz, I still didn’t rent it or buy it, even though I enjoyed several of Miyazaki’s other movies. Enter my old roommate Emily, who used to work for Disney. Since Disney was the company to release the English language version of the movie, she wound up getting a free copy of it as a gift and ended up giving it to me, figuring I would enjoy it. Yes, this is probably considered a regift but I was not offended in the least and did enjoy watching it very much, and still do. So let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Spirited Away.

The plot: 10-year old Chihiro Ogino and her parents, Akio and Yuko, are travelling to their new home in the country but Chihiro is upset about leaving her friends behind. When Akio makes a wrong turn, he decides to continue down the one lane road until they come to a wall with a tunnel leading deeper into the building. Chihiro says that the tunnel frightens her and tells her parents that they should leave but Akio wants to explore it and Chihiro reluctantly joins her parents. Making their way through the tunnel, they find that the building was part of an abandoned amusement park and Akio want’s to keep exploring. Crossing over a dried up riverbed, they come to a village inside the park, where they smell food coming from one of the restaurants. Akio and Yuko sit down and start eating, with Yuko saying that they will pay later, but Chihiro refuses to eat and continues exploring the park. She eventually comes to a bathhouse and sees a train passing by underneath but as the train stops, a boy named Haku quickly exits the train and tells Chihiro that she can’t be there and she has to cross the river before dark. Suddenly, the nearby lamps start lighting up and Haku tells Chihiro to run so she heads back to the village, where she sees formless shapes moving around. When she reaches the restaurant, she finds that her parents have been turned into pigs and she runs towards the riverbed only to find that it is now filled with water and the river is to large to swim across. Chihiro kneels down, hoping that she is just dreaming, but when a ferry boat arrives and spirits start disembarking, she realizes she is turning transparent and runs away. Haku finds Chihiro huddling against a building and feeds her a berry, saying she needs to eat some food from this world or else she will disappear, and Chihiro turns solid again. After shielding her from being spotted by a flying spirit, Haku leads Chihiro towards the bathhouse, telling her to hold her breath as they cross the bridge or else the spirits will know who she is. Chihiro almost makes it but when a small frog spirit starts calling out to Haku, Chihiro gasps out in shock and Haku uses magic to immobolize the frog, then quickly runs with Chihiro to the back garden. As they hide there, Haku tells Chihiro to head down to the boiler room and ask the attendant, Kamaji, for a job, then heads inside the bathhouse to distract the people looking for her. Chihiro heads down and finds Kamaji and asks for a job but he tells her he has all the soot spirits there to work for him so there is no job for her. When a woman, Lin, arrives to bring Kamaji and the soot spirits some food, she sees Chihiro and Kamaji asks Lin to take Chihiro to see Yubaba, the witch that owns the bathhouse. As they make their way up the elevators, one of the workers smells human and asks Lin what she is hiding but Lin distracts him with a roasted newt, allowing Chihiro to continue up to see Yubaba. When Chihiro finally arrives at Yubaba’s office, she continuously asks Yubaba for a job but Yubaba refuses until Chihiro’s yelling wakes up a large baby in the next room and Yubaba finally agrees. She gives Chihiro a contract and after Chihiro signs it, Yubaba takes Chihiro’s name from the contract and tells Chihiro that her name is now Sen. Yubaba summons Haku and tells him to put Sen to work and Sen follows him to the lower levels, where she is given to Lin as an assistant. The next morning, Yubaba transforms into a winged creature and flies off, with her bird spirit flying with her, and Haku heads down to where Lin is sleeping and tells her he will take her to see her parents. As she is crossing the bridge, she sees a strange, masked spirit called No-Face watching her but when she turns back after crossing the bridge, the spirit has disappeared. When they get there, Sen tells her parents she will find a way to save them, then runs out of the building crying. Haku then hands her her clothes and she finds the goodbye card from her friend and remembers that her name is Chihiro. Haku tells her that Yubaba is able to control people by making them forget their names and if Chihiro ever wants to leave the spirit world, she should hide that card. Hake tells her he has forgotten his name but for some reason, he remembers her and after escorting her back to the bridge, Sen heads back to the bathhouse but turns and sees a dragon flying off and realizes the dragon is Haku. That night, Sen and Lin are tasked with cleaning the “big bath” and as she is working, she sees No-Face outside in the rain and invites him in, thinking he is a customer, and he later helps her by giving her some bath tokens when the foreman refuses to help her. A stink demon appears in the village and heads to the bathhouse, where Yubaba orders Sen to tend to it. Sen takes it to the bath and uses the tokens to help clean it and as she does so, she notices something stuck in the sludge. She tries to pull it free and Yubaba, realizing it isn’t a stink demon, orders everyone to help and the eventually pull out a lot of debris, which was stuck within the river spirit and it thanks Sen by giving her a dumpling before flying off. That night, Sen has a dream about giving the dumpling to her parents to break the spell but she can’t recognize which pigs are her parents. Meanwhile, No-Face tempts the frog spirit with some gold and swallows him, then starts tempting more spirits to feed it by tipping them more gold. When Sen wakes up, she sees Haku being attacked by what she thinks are birds but are actually paper shikigami and she tells Haku to fly into her room, where she works on closing the doors so the shikigami won’t attack him. When the shikigami fly away, Sen tries to tend to the wounded Haku but he flies out the window and into another one higher in the building. Sen goes to follow, unaware that one of the shikigami has stuck onto her back and she sees everyone working on trying to feed No-Face. When it offers her a handful of gold, she politely declines, wanting to try and find her way to the upper levels and after she leaves, the spirit starts swallowing some of the workers. As Sen makes her way up the ladder on the side of the building, the skikigami alerts her to Yubaba’s return and Sen quickly climbs the ladder and enters Yubaba’s side chamber, where she hears Yubaba say that Haku is going to die and should be gotten rid of. Sen hides when Yubaba enters the chamber and checks on her baby, Boh, and then heads down to deal with No-Face. After she leaves, Sen goes to check on Haku but she is stopped by Boh, who threatens to cry if she doesn’t play with him. Sen makes him let go by threatening to put her bloody hand on him, then enter the main room to find three heads attempting to shove Haku down an opening to the boiler room. Sen fends them off and tries to wake up Haku when Boh follows her and threatens to scream. Suddenly, the shikigami starts moving and reveals itself to be Zeniba, Yubaba’s twin sister. Zeniba changes Boh into a mouse and Yubaba’s bird into a fly, then goes to kill Haku for stealing her gold totem but Sen refuses to let her harm him. Haku regains consciousness and cuts the shikigami with his tail, causing Zeniba to disappear, while his movement cause him to fall down the hole with Sen, Boh, and the fly. When they reach the boiler room, Sen tries to help Haku by giving him some of the dumpling that the river spirit gave her and Haku vomits up the seal as well as a black slug, before changing back to human form. Kamaji tells Sen to stop the slug and she ends up stepping on it and Kamaji tells her that that was what Yubaba used to control people. When Sen tells Kamaji that Zeniba put a curse on Haku and she wants to return the seal so she will lift it, Kamaji gives her a train ticket and tells her where to go. Lin shows up to get Sen, as Yubaba is upset with Sen for inviting No-Face into the bathhouse so Sen, with Boh and the fly on her shoulder, goes to deal with him. No-Face offers her gold but she refuses and says she has to leave and offers him the rest of the dumpling when he says he is hungry. The dumpling causes No-Face to start vomiting and thrashing around and Sen leads him out of the bathhouse, as he continues to vomit, eventually vomiting up the workers he swallowed. Lin takes Sen to the train tracks and Sen follows them to the station and boards the train, with Boh, the fly, and No-Face coming with her. Back at the bathhouse, Haku regains consciousness and asks Kamaji where Sen is and he tells him that she went to Zeniba’s. Haku then goes to see Yubaba, revealing that the baby next to her is not her son and when she demands to know where he is, Haku tells her that Boh is with Zeniba and he will get him back if she frees Sen and her parents. Yubaba agrees but says that Sen must perform one last test first. Elsewhere, Sen and the others get off the train and head towards Zeniba’s house, where they are surprised to find she is nice to them. Sen hands her back the seal and apologizes for Haku stealing it and Zeniba asks what happened to the protective spell on it and realizes that Sen’s love for Haku broke it. Zeniba then speaks with Sen and tells her she can’t break the spell on Sen’s parents but that if Sen remembers what is good about her parents, she will be able to free them. As Sen thinks about it, Zeniba has No-Face, Boh, and the fly help her with her knitting and they fashion a hair tie for Sen. Haku shows up and Sen runs out to hug him and Zeniba says it is time for them to leave, but asks No-Face to stay and help her with spinning yarn. Sen hugs Zeniba and thanks her, telling her her real name as way of thanks, then leaves on Haku. As they are flying, Sen remembers a childhood memory of falling into the Kohaku river and it carrying her to shore and tells it to Haku, thinking that he might be the spirit of the river. Haku suddenly loses his dragon form and Haku tells Sen that he is the Kohaku river spirit and she gave him back his name. They arrive back at the boathouse and as Yubaba tells Sen that she has to honor the deal, Boh transforms back into a baby and tells Yubaba not to make Sen cry. Sen goes to Yubaba and Yubaba tells Sen that if she can pick out her parents among the pigs in front of her, they are free to go. Sen looks and then tells Yubaba that her parents aren’t there and Sen’s contract is burnt up as the pigs turn back into the workers while everyone cheers. Sen rejoins Haku, who takes her to the river and tells her that her parents are on the other side and she has to leave but she can’t look back until she is on the human side of the tunnel. Sen asks if she will see Haku again and Haku says they will see each other again, then Sen heads off across the field to find her parents there, with no memory of what happened. As they head back through the tunnel and to their car, Akio is shocked to find it covered in leaves and debris, as if it had been there for a while. As he cleans it off, Chihiro looks back at the tunnel, then gets in her car as they leave, with Chihiro saying she doesn’t think it will be too bad starting a new school.

Spirited Away was highly praised by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Spirited Away is a dazzling, enchanting, and gorgeously drawn fairy tale that will leave viewers a little more curious and fascinated by the world around them.” Hayao Miyazaki had considered retiring after making Princess Mononoke but after seeing a friend’s sullen daughter, decided to make this movie. Spirited Away was the first anime to be nominated, and win, and Academy award and was also one of only two animated movies to win the Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year, the first one being Princess Mononoke, and is considered one of the greatest animated features by critics to this day. The movie made $289.1 million off of a $15-19 million budget, $200 million of which was made before it was released in the US.

This is an absolutely fantastic movie and deserves every bit of praise that was heaped upon it. The voice acting was really good in the English dubbed version, with Daveigh Chase doing a good job showcasing the emotions that Chihiro was going through. The story was very well written and showcased some of the best character growth and developement with Chihiro that I have seen in any movie. The plot itself was pretty interesting and in some ways, reminded me a little bit of The Labrynth; mainly with the girl in a spirit/fairy world trying to rescue her family. The animation was incredible, with some very vibrant colors and crisp lines that, to coin a phrase, made the scenes and characters leap out of the screen at you. Definitly a must see movie and one that you will not be disappointed in.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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July 7th, 2017 Movie – A Scanner Darkly

a scanner darkly

It’s been a while since I have seen a movie based on a Philip K. Dick story. Given my love for sci-fi, and his prominence as a sci-fi author, I am actually surprised that I only have 2 movies based on his stories. Now today’s movie was one that interested me due to it’s nature, more so than it’s story. The animation technique for this movie intrigued me but unfortunately, I did not get around to seeing this in theaters due to personal reasons so I bought it when it came out on DVD. Now let’s get right into today’s movie, A Scanner Darkly.

The plot: Charles Freck is hallucinating that bugs are crawling all over him and his dog and he can’t get rid of them by showering or spraying insecticide all over himself. Not knowing what else to do, he calls James Barris, who tells him to put some in a jar and tells him where they can meet up. Meanwhile, a meeting is held at the Brown Bear Lodge and the host is discussing the Substance D epidemic, which has 20% of the population addicted to it. He introduces an undercover officer code-named Fred, who is wearing a scramble suit so that nobody there can know what he really looks like. Fred gets up to speak and talks about how the military is attacking countries where the organic component of Substance D, a blue flower, is rumored to grow, hoping to cut off the supply. He ends up rambling for a minute when he forgets his prepared speech and when someone over his suit’s radio tries helping him, he ends up just walking away. Fred heads to an abandoned building and entering a secured room, where he is able to take off the suit and reveals himself to be Robert “Bob” Arctor. After leaving the building, Bob places a call to Donna, a dealer for Substance D, and arranges to buy some D from her. Meanwhile, Freck meets up with Barris at a diner and as they are eating, they discuss New-Path and their rehab centers. The subject then turns to Donna and Barris talks about how Bob talks about sleeping with her but doesn’t really. The subject of her being a coke addict comes up and Barris tells Freck that he knows how to get cocaine for $3, which leads to them heading to a store and buying a spray can, then heading back to the house Barris shares with Bob and Ernie Luckman, where he tells Freck how he will make the cocaine. Freck starts to feel bad about trying to hook up with Donna under Bob’s nose but Barris tells Freck that there are things about Bob he doesn’t know. At the same time, Bob, inside the scramble suit, is talking to his superior agent Hank, who is also wearing a scramble suit. Bob/Fred tells Hank that he is steadily buying more quantities of D from Donna in the hopes she will soon lead him to her supplier. When Hank asks about Barris, Luckman, Freck, and Bob, Bob/Fred says nothing new to report but Hank says they got a tip from an informant about Bob and that they want Fred to step up surveillance on him. Later, Bob goes in for some psychological testing to see how he is doing and if he is becoming addicted to Substance D and Bob think this is because of the speech. After finishing his test, Bob/Fred heads to Hank’s office and is introduced to his informant, which turns out to be Barris. Barris tells them that he believes that Bob is part of a terrorist organization and Hank and Fred say they will keep a close eye on Bob. That night, Barris is attempting to make a homemade silencer and when he tries it out, it ends up waking Bob and causes him to remember his family and wonder how he got there. The next day, Bob, Barris, and Luckman are going to San Diego when their car breaks down and they are forced to pull over. As they get Bob’s car towed back to his house, Luckman gets paranoid that someone did this deliberately and could be stealing their stuff from the house but Barris says he left a device that would record anyone entering the front door. Bob gets upset, as the trip was intended to get everyone out of the house so that Hank could have scanner’s installed, and when he questions Barris more, he can’t figure out of Barris actually did what he said. When they get back to the house, they find evidence that someone had been there recently and Barris and Luckman’s paranoia increases but it turns out to only be Donna, who had fallen asleep while waiting for them. At headquarters, Hank shows Fred the monitoring system and tells him how he can switch out the scanners if need be and he can edit himself out, but tells him not to edit himself out all the time as they will be able to figure out who he really is, as Hank knows he is someone in the house. The next day, Bob starts suffering the effects of Substance D as he sees Barris and Luckman as cockroaches. As Bob watches the video of the house, he sees himself accidentally letting slip that he is a NARC but then pass it off as him being messed up on drugs. He also sees Luckman almost choke to death and Barris doing nothing to help him and when it seems like he is dead, Barris calls 911 but Luckman finally coughs up what he was choking on so Barris hangs up. Elsewhere, Freck decides to commit suicide by taking a bunch of sleeping pills all at once, but his death is merely an alien reading a list of all his sins for eternity. Bob runs into Donna, who takes him back to her place for the D that he asked for. While there, Bob attempts to kiss her but she pushes him away, claiming she doesn’t like being touched after doing coke, and Bob gets upset and leaves, despite Donna’s apologizing to him. Bob ends up hooking up with a girl named Connie but when he wakes up in the morning, he thinks it is Donna at first and freaks out. At headquarters, Bob is made to do some more tests to see if he is suffering the effects of Substance D and he ends up thinking of Fred and Bob as two separate people and worries that they will set up Bob. Later, Bob/Fred goes to Hank’s office, where Barris is there with a supposed tape of Bob and Donna discussing terrorist plots and weapons purchases, but Hank knows the tape is fake and has Barris arrested. Hank then discusses Bob’s addiction to Substance D, and that Hank knows that Fred is really Bob. After Bob leaves, Hank heads into a room to take off his own scramble suit, revealing that he is actually Donna. Donna then takes Bob to a New Path recovery center for help, where Bob sees that Freck is a patient there as well. As Bob goes through his treatment, he is transferred to one of New Path’s farms for his rehab work. When he gets there, he is told that his name is Bruce and he will be staying there for a while and Bob, whose brain is barely functioning, simply repeats back what he is told. Back in the city, Donna meets with her superior, Mike, where they discuss their suspicions that New Path is actually the supplier of the organic component of Substance D and Donna is upset at the fact that they sacrificed Bob by not telling him that his real job was to get so addicted and burnt out on Substance D that New Path would take him to the farm. Back at the farm, Bob is working in some rows of corn when he sees the blue flowers growing in between the corn stalks. When the owner of the farm and the foreman tell Bob to get back to work, Bob starts to remember some aspects of his past life and grabs one of the flowers and hides it in his shoe, planning to give it to the authorities over his Thanksgiving break, though it is unclear if he will remember back then.

A Scanner Darkly met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, “A faithful adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel, A Scanner Darkly takes the viewer on a visual and mind-blowing journey into the author’s conception of a drug-addled and politically unstable world.” The film was animated using rotoscoping, which involved animators tracing over the original footage frame by frame, a process which, according to director Richard Linklater, took 18 months though the actual filming only took 23 days. Grossing $7.7 million at the box office, A Scanner Darkly is the highest grossing rotoscoped animated feature but unfortunately, it was also a failure as it didn’t earn back the $8.7 million budget.

This can be a little confusing at times but it is a fantastic movie to watch. The acting was really good, with Keanu Reeves (Bob), Winona Ryder (Donna), and Robert Downey Jr. (Barris) all doing great jobs. Woody Harrelson ((Luckman) and Rory Cochrane (Freck) were also good but felt a little more like they were just there for comedic relief. I honestly have never read the story it was based on but the plot was pretty good. The animation was really good and very life-like, which made sense given the style employed. The only thing that did bother me with the animation is that it did kinda of hurt my eyes a little at times, mainly the times where they were using scramble suits, but other than that, I couldn’t really find any faults. A great movie that honestly has me ready to go to the library to check out the book.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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June 22nd, 2017 Movie – Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem For The Ishin Patriots

rurouni kenshin

Man, do I miss being able to watch Toonami on Cartoon Network. Back in the day, it was a great way to introduce US audiences to some Japanese anime. Now I had watched various animes before Toonami came around but one show that I was introduced to was Rurouni Kenshin, or Samurai X as it was sometimes called. I really enjoyed this cartoon as it had a great story with a nice mixture of actual historical events adding to the plot. So when I saw that there was a movie I decided to buy it since I enjoyed the anime so much. So let’s see if the feature film holds up to the anime as I watch today’s movie, Rurouni Kenshin: Requiem For The Ishin Patriots.

The plot: In the last days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, a group of swordsman attack a house but the end up being killed by Himura Kenshin, the Hitokiri Battosai or Manslayer. 12 year later, during the Meiji Era, Kenshin has long since given up killing people, choosing to carry a reverse blade sword instead. Kenshin travels to Yokohama with his friends Kamiya Kaoru, Sagara Sanosuke, and Myojin Yahiko to Yokohama to see the influx of Western culture and architecture that has occurred in the city since the borders have been opened. As they wander around the city, they come across some drunken Western sailors harassing a woman but as they are watching, they see a swordsman, step in and rescue the woman, then slice up the weapons the sailors attempt to use on him. When some more sailors go join the fight, Kenshin deals with one of them who attempts to bring a rifle into the fight, but his actions are noticed by the swordsman. When the police show up, Kenshin and the swordsman leave the area, while Sanosuke tricks the sailors into fighting the police, then makes his own escape. Later, Kenshin and the swordsman are talking and when the swordsman introduces himself as Shigure Takimi, Kenshin seems to recognize the name. As he leaves, Kenshin encounters Hajime Saito, a former rival during the war who is now a police officer, who warns Kenshin to stay away from Takimi, as Saito believes he is up to something. As Kenshin rejoins his friends, a group of men attack the British embassy, killing all of the guards there while using explosives to torch the building, then quickly leave as reinforcements, led by Captain Tomono, arrive to try and capture them. Some time later, in Tokyo, Takimi is at his home with Toki, the girl that the sailors were harassing, and the are kneeling before a memorial for Toki’s brother, who was killed during the war. When the man that led the attack on the British embassy arrives, Toki leaves as the man tells Takimi that the British ambassador has changed his plans and will be arriving in Tokyo earlier but he should be ready and wants Takimi to lead the attack. Takimi says he was planning on it as he wants to make up for the decision that cost his friend his life. In flashback, it is revealed that Takimi was one of the leaders of the Izu clan and when they were planning to attack some targets during the war, he chose to split up their forces but when he realized the location he went to was wrong, he raced to the other location to help his friend but got there just in time to see Kenshin kill him. When Takimi leaves with the man, Toki goes to see Kenshin and ask that he talk to Takimi, as Takimi speaks highly of him. When Yahiko walks Toki back home, he meets Takimi and is introduced to Musashino, a young man whose father was in the same samurai clan as Yahiko’s father and the two become friends. The next day, Sanosuke visits his friend and learns that Takimi might be planning a revolt, while Saito’s spy is killed by Takimi’s men. Yahiko had followed Musashino and overhears Takimi telling the assembled men his plans and when he is captured, he asks Takimi to let him join them. Meanwhile, Kenshin and Sanosuke arrive at Takimi’s house but before they can enter, Toki opens the door and, seeing Kenshin, she hands him a note that Takimi left her. When Kaoru arrives and says that Yahiko is missing, the four search the city for Yahiko and Takimi. Takimi leads his men to the dock and they head out in some small boats but Takimi knocks Yahiko unconscious, as he feels Yahiko is too young and he doesn’t want to have one of Kenshin’s friends killed. Elsewhere, the man that led the attack on the embassy in Yokohama secretly meets with Tomono and it is revealed that they are working together to discredit the commander of the Japanese army, so Tomono can take his place, and frame Takimi for everything. After searching all night, Kenshin and the others finally come across Yahiko and Kaoru slaps him before hugging him and saying she is glad he is ok. When Kenshin asks if Yahiko knows what Takimi is planning, Yahiko says they said something about a foreign visitor and Kenshin realizes they plan to attack the ambassador, who will be part of a parade in his honor. As the parade commences, Saito is keeping watch as he also believes the rebels would attack during the parade. As the ambassador reaches the embassy, the rebels attack with cannons, killing several of the guards before charging in to attack the remaining guards. When Takimi goes to kill the ambassador, Kenshin stops him and the two begin fighting, while Sanosuke deals with the other rebels and Saito takes out the cannons. Tomono, seeing his plan falling apart, orders his men to start shooting and ends up killing several of the rebels, including Musashino when he shields Takimi, and Takimi and the others escape. When Kaoru, Toki, and Yahiko arrive at the scene, Yahiko discovers the body of Musashino and cries for his friend while Kenshin stands amidst the bodies and recalls what brought him to give up killing people. When the location of Takimi and the rebels is discovered, Kenshin approaches the commander and asks that he be allowed to go in and talk to Takimi, in order to try and arrange a peaceful end to the fighting. Tomono doesn’t like it but the commander overrules him and allows Kenshin to proceed. Kenshin and Sanosuke head to the rebel’s hideout and after Sanosuke has a brief fight with some of the rebels, Kenshin gets his audience with Takimi. Kenshin tries to get Takimi to surrender but Takimi refuses, saying he doesn’t blame Kenshin for his friend’s death but does blame him for what the government has done since then. The two men start fighting and Takimi appears to have the upperhand, saying he had memorized Kenshin’s fighting style since he first saw it years ago. Kenshin is finally able to defeat Takimi but when Takimi tries to continue fighting, Toki runs up and embraces Takimi and begs him to stop fighting. Takimi agrees to give himself up but before he can, Tomono and some of his men appear and begin firing into the crowd of rebels. Several of them are killed, including Takimi as he tries to shield Toki but before anyone else can be killed. Kenshin renders Tomono unconscious. The commander orders his men to stand down and tend to the wounded while on a hill overlooking the hideout, Saito confronts the man that was working with Tomono and kills him. Some time later, Kenshin goes to see Toki and he admits to her that he killed her brother. Toki accepts Kenshin’s apology and says she plans on taking some of Takimi’s things and burying them next to her brother, and says that she hopes to see Kenshin and the others again.

This was a pretty good movie all in all. I was disappointed that they did not get the same American voice actors from the TV anime to do the movie but I thought the voices for Kenshin and Kaoru were pretty good but Sanosuke and Yahiko’s voices were annoying. The story was good, using a recurring theme from the TV show of former samurai and other people dissatisfied with the current government trying to make changes and Kenshin and his friends trying to stop anyone from getting hurt or killed. The animation was very well done and had a mixture of dark and light tones and colors that did it’s own part in setting the tone as effectively as the story itself. If you are a fan of the anime or martial arts movies, you will probably enjoy this movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, animation, movie, movie review

June 15th, 2017 Movie – The Lego Batman Movie

the lego batman movie

Who would have thought that one of the biggest movies to come out of 2014 would involve everyone’s favorite building blocks, or landmine for bare feet depending on your point view. Yes, The Lego Movie was a massive family hit so of course, a sequel was bound to come out. Today’s movie is a spin off of The Lego Movie, though the only  real reference is Batman talking about being a Master Builder. Still, the Lego Batman games are tons of fun to play and since this is a movie involving Legos and Batman, it is bound to be entertaining. So lets see how good it is as I watch today’s movie, The Lego Batman Movie.

The plot: As a plane full of explosives flies over Gotham, Joker and his men board the plane and plan on hijacking it as part of his master scheme. When one of the pilots says that Batman will stop him, Joker explains that he has gathered every villain in Gotham to help with his plan and he has taken out the Bat-Signal, so Commissioner Gordon has no way to contact Batman. Joker meets up with the rest of the villains and uses the explosives to fashion a giant bomb, which they attach to the base of Gotham City Power’s generator, and threatens to blow it up unless the mayor surrenders the city in 5 minutes. Faced with the threat of the explosion destroying the plates that Gotham sits on, sending the city plummeting into the dark abyss, the mayor agrees to meet with Joker but when she gets there, she reveals herself to really be Batman in disguise. Batman begins taking out all of the villains until only Joker is left but as Batman attempts to capture him, Joker says Batman can either capture his greatest enemy or save the city but he can’t do both. Batman tells Joker that he isn’t his greatest enemy, then lets him go so he can make it down to the bomb and disarm it. As the citizens all celebrate Batman saving them, Batman swings by the orphanage to make the orphans happy before heading home. Once he reaches Wayne Manor, Batman pretends to be ok with his life but Alfred calls him out and says that he is afraid of being a part of family but Batman dismisses the idea. Elsewhere, Joker is depressed about Batman not thinking he is his greatest enemy and complaining about how he doesn’t have any competent villains to work with. When he sees an interview with Superman, who had just sent General Zod to the Phantom Zone, he gets an idea. Bruce Wayne attends the retirement gala for Commissioner Gordon and while he is there, he is questioned by Dick Grayson, one of the orphans performing at the ceremony, on how to get adopted. When he sees Barbara Gordon, the new Commissioner, Bruce becomes infatuated and absent-mindedly agrees to adopt Dick. During her speech, Barbara begins telling people that they relied on Batman to stop crime but Gotham is still the most crime-ridden city in the world so she has a plan to take some of Batman’s idea’s and use them in the police force to make them more effective at stopping crime so that they won’t need Batman anymore. Bruce is upset at hearing that but suddenly, Joker and the other villains crash the gala. Bruce slips away and changes into Batman, then builds a robot suit to take on the Joker, getting in the way of Barbara as she starts to lead an assault on the villains, but Joker surprises both of them when he surrenders, and captures the other villains as well. The citizens celebrate the end of crime but Batman, not knowing what to do with his life now, spends days keeping watch on Joker in Arkham. Barbara tries talking to Batman, saying she knows he is up to something as well and that they should work together to stop him, but Batman says Joker is to dangerous to allow free and decides to send Joker into the Phantom Zone. When Batman returns to the Batcave, he finds that Alfred has locked him out of the computer and tells him that he needs to spend time raising his adopted son, which Batman had completely forgotten about. Alfred then allows Dick into the Batcave and he is shocked to learn that Batman lives underneath Wayne Manor. Batman regains access to the computer but finds he is too big to reach the Phantom Zone projector but when he realizes that Dick will fit, he decides to take him with him and allows him to wear one of his old costumes. Batman and Dick make their way to the Fortress of Solitude and Batman plans on distracting Superman while Robin sneaks in and grabs the projector. As Robin sneaks inside, Batman rings the door and when Superman answers it, Batman discovers that they were holding the Justice League Anniversary Party without him. As all of the other heroes are busy having fun, Batman sneaks away and guides Robin through the defenses so he can steal the projector. They then head to Arkham but Barbara catches them as they try to sneak the projector into the asylum. Batman and Robin fight off the guards and make their way to Joker’s cell, where Batman uses the projector on Joker to send him to the Phantom Zone. As Batman celebrates, Barbara locks him and Robin in the cells and says Batman probably gave Joker exactly what he wanted. Inside the Phantom Zone, Joker is met by Phyllis, the Phantom Zone’s warden, who tells him where the other villains are. Joker convinces the other villains to help him but they asks how he is going to get them out of there. Back in Gotham, Harley, who was in disguise, gets the projector and releases all of the villains from the Phantom Zone, including Voldemort, Sauron, King Kong, the Daleks, and the Gremlins. As the villains attack Gotham, Joker learns that Bruce Wayne is Batman and heads to the Batcave and transforms Wayne Manor into Joker Manor. Barbara releases Batman and Robin, saying they need to work together to save Gotham and, joined by Alfred, they work to build a Bat-plane and head towards the manor. Along the way, they are attacked by Gremlins and Batman tries fending them off on his own but Alfred and Robin proceed to help. When Robin and Alfred find themselves in trouble, Batman manages to save Robin but can’t save Alfred, so Barbara pilots the Bat-plane to save him. Batman comes up with a plan and they work together to take out Sauron but as they celebrate, Batman traps them inside the plane and orders the computer to take them out of the city while he continues on alone. When he reaches the Manor, he is confronted by Joker and the other villains and after Batman refuses to call Joker his greatest enemy, Joker sends him to the Phantom Zone, then grabs all of the bombs in the Batcave so they can blow up Gotham. In the Phantom Zone, Phyllis greets Batman and examines him to determine if he is a bad guy and Batman sees how he treated everyone. When he sees that Barbara, Alfred, and Dick had gone back to help him, Batman begs Phyllis to let him go back and save them and when she wavers, he asks for 24 hours to get all of the bad guys back to the Phantom Zone. Phyllis agrees and Batman is able to save his friends, then apologizes for how he acted. He admits that he was scared and says that he needs their help, and he has released the other Gotham villains, who Joker left in Arkham, to help as well. Batman gives Barbara her own suit so she can become Batgirl, and they work out a plan to defeat the Joker. Working together with Gotham’s villains, they grab the projector and start sending all of the villains to the Phantom Zone but the bombs detonate, splitting the plates underneath the city. Batman tries to get everyone to help pull the plates back together but he is unable to do so at first and Joker mocks him. Batman tells Joker that he is the reason that he puts on the suit and Joker, happy to hear Batman admit he is his greatest enemy, helps Batman save Gotham. As the city rejoices, Batman tells Robin that he has to return to the Phantom Zone and after revealing to Robin that he is really Bruce Wayne, he hugs Robin goodbye before heading towards the Phantom Zone. Batman finds himself rejected and Phyllis explains that he changed in order to save everyone, thus making him a good guy. Joker and the other Gotham villains leave and Barbara asks if they are really going to let them leave but Batman says that they will give them a 30 minute head start as the villains are no match for the 4 of them.

The Lego Batman Movie met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “The Lego Batman Movie continues its block-buster franchise’s winning streak with another round of dizzyingly funny — and beautifully animated — family-friendly mayhem.” The movie referenced previous appearances of Batman in both live action and animated films and TV, which was honestly pretty funny, as well as several other film and TV franchises (mostly through their villains). The movie was a box office success, earning $310.9 million off of a $80 million budget.

This wasn’t quite what I expected but this was still a really funny movie to watch. The voice acting was really good, with Will Arnett doing a great job reprising his role as Batman, while Zach Galifianakis (Joker), Michael Cera (Robin), and Rosario Dawson (Barbara) were equally good. The story was a lot better than I thought it would be, as I honestly thought they might just do a full length version of one of the games, and did something that pretty much no other Batman movie has done before; actually give him some character development. The animation was really good and really liked how they mixture of real life and animation, mainly when Batman is watching relationship movies or when they are referencing “that weird phase in the 1966” and I personally found it hilarious that they used the Condiment King in the movie, as that was one of my favorite nonsense villains from the Animated Series. A fun, silly movie to watch no matter how old you are.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

 

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March 20th, 2017 Movie – Justice League Dark

justice league dark

Now when I first heard about this movie, I got pretty excited for a number of reasons. First off was because it has Constantine in it and they got Matt Ryan, who was great playing the role in the short lived series, to do the voice acting for it. The second reason was because it has Swamp Thing, who I always thought was one of the more interesting, yet underused, characters in DC comics. So with two characters that I like in this movie, it only made sense for me to pre-order it. So let’s see just how good DC’s latest animated movie as I watch Justice League Dark.

The plot: In Washington DC, a woman believes everyone is a monster and starts running them down until Wonder Woman stops her. In Metropolis, a man threatens to shoot his family, believing they are monsters but Superman stops him only to learn the man has also killed his neighbors. In Gotham, a woman stands on top of the church and prepares to throw her baby off the roof, believing that she gave birth to the devil. Batman tries to talk her out of it but when she throws the baby, he manages to rescue it but is unable to stop the woman from throwing herself off the roof. Back at Justice League headquarters, the League go over what has happened and notice that the pattern is happening all over the world. When Wonder Woman suggest magic might be the cause, Batman gets annoyed at the suggestion and leaves but when he is shaving at Wayne manor, he temporarily blacks out and finds the name Constantine written in the steam on the mirror, as well as all over the wall of his bedroom. One week earlier, Constantine and Jason Blood are playing poker with The Demons Three in Las Vegas. When he doesn’t have enough money to cover the final bet, Constantine bets the House of Mystery and all the contents inside so the demons summon up a treasure chest of magical artifacts to match it. Constantine wins the bet after cancelling the magic that the demons were using to cheat and they attack him. When Jason refuses to help, Constantine uses magic to temporarily possess Jason, forcing him to summon the demon Etrigan to defeat the demons. After the battle, Etrigan changes back into Jason, who proceeds to punch Constantine and chastise him for letting Etrigan loose. Back in the present, Batman goes to see Zatanna after one of her shows and asks her how to find Constantine, as he knows they used to date. As they are talking, Batman is temporarily possessed by Boston Brand (a.k.a. Deadman), who tells Zatanna that both Batman and her need to find Constantine, before Batman kicks Boston out of his body. Zatanna agrees to help Batman find Constantine and along the way, tells him the story of what happened with Boston. As they head for the house of mystery, a tornado suddenly appears and Zatanna uses her magic to help protect the Batmobile as they make it to the House of Mystery and Constantine ushers them inside. Once they are safe, Constantine uses his magic to make it so Batman can see and speak to Boston, just as Black Orchid appears and Constantine explains that the magic of the house decided to give itself a body in order to understand humanity better. Orchid seems fascinated with Boston, commenting that he is just like her, and also reveals that Zatanna still has feelings for Constantine, which shocks Constantine and embarrasses Zatanna. After Batman explains what is going on, Constantine uses magic to see what had happened and Boston tells him that Rama Kushna, the Hindu god that gave Boston’s spirit the power to possess the living in order to seek vengeance, says that even the afterlife will be affected. Constantine wants to handle it alone, but says he could use Zatanna’s magic as well but Zatanna refuses to go unless they all go and Constantine reluctantly agrees. Constantine takes them to see an old friend named Ritchie Simpson but as they approach Ritchie’s house, they see a group of Shrouds there waiting to take Ritchie’s soul and Constantine chases them away. Inside, Ritchie is upset that Constantine isn’t there to apologize for what happened to him but only to get the Keshanti Key from him but eventually gives it to Batman. The group head to the hospital in Metropolis where the man Superman stopped is being held, and Constantine and Zatanna use the key to enter the man’s mind and look through his memories in order to find out what possessed him. Meanwhile, someone summons an excremental ( a demon made of fecal matter) to attack them and Boston and Batman do their best to stop it but it manages to grab the body and starts to dissolve it. Constantine and Zatanna find the memory they were looking for and Constantine grabs the fragment showing a strange ring before they leave the body and Zatanna is able to get rid of the demon. Unable to identify the ring, the group heads back to Ritchie’s place only to find him almost dead, with Jason Blood standing over him while the Shrouds are trying to collect his soul. Batman manages to revive Ritchie while Constantine captures Jason and they head back to the house. At the house, Constantine questions Jason and Jason says that he had gone to Ritchie’s to see if he had an artifact that could get him inside the House of Mystery. He then explains that one of the artifacts that Constantine won from the demons is actually the Stone of Destiny, a gem full of dark magic that was used by an evil magician named Destiny back in the time of Camelot. Jason, who was a knight in King Arthur’s court at the time, had died in battle fighting Destiny but after Merlin’s pet demon Etrigan defeated Destiny, Merlin bonds Jason to Etrigan as a precaution against Destiny’s return. Ritchie regains consciousness and identifies the ring as belonging to Felix Faust but Constantine is unable to locate him. With no other choice, Constantine takes the group into the swamp to locate Swamp Thing, who is convinced to help them locate Faust by Zatanna. Swamp Thing uses his elemental powers to transport them to Faust’s location but refuses to help them any further. Jason changes into Etrigan, who bursts into Faust observatory but Faust easily deflects the attack and summons three demons to fight him. When Zatanna enters, she finds that Faust has made it so she can not speak, thereby cancelling her ability to cast spells so while Constantine, Batman, and Boston face off against Faust, she tries to locate the object that is keeping her from speaking. She manages to find it just as Faust is about to kill her and uses her magic to save herself, then defeat Faust but when she goes to kill Faust, Constantine stops her and helps her regain control of her magic. Faust questions why they attacked him and Jason realizes that he is not the one behind things, recognizing the three demons Etrigan faced as the demons he and Constantine played poker against. Realizing that Faust could have had the Stone fo Destiny at any time, Batman says that Ritchie was the one that sent them after Faust, indicating that he is behind what happened. Back at the house, Ritchie awakens and reveals that he has the missing piece of the Stone of Destiny hidden in his cane and uses it to help keep himself alive. Black Orchid tries to stop him but he reminds her that Constantine said to help him in whatever way and uses her to get the other part of the gem. When Constantine and the others arrive at the house, they find Ritchie with both parts of the gem and saying he is now super charged but Constantine says that Ritchie has been played for a fool. Suddenly, the piece that Ritchie had used to save his life is ripped from his body and attaches to the main gem, and Ritchie is suddenly taken over by a reformed Destiny. Destiny blows up the house and heads off to the city in order to cause chaos so he can get stronger. Zatanna manages to save the group but falls unconscious due to all the magic she has used and Constantine places a charm on her to help her heal and keep her safe, then takes the others to fight Destiny. When they get to the city, they find people attacking each other and even the Justice League become infected, with John Stewart, filling in for Hal Jordan on Earth, attacking Batman. Jason summons Etrigan and attacks Destiny but Destiny uses his powers to separate Jason and Etrigan. Constantine uses magic to damage a tree near Destiny, which causes Swamp Thing to appear and begin fighting Destiny but Destiny is able to get the upper hand and rips Alec Holland’s body from Swamp Thing, causing him to revert back into swamp vegetation. Batman is able to defeat John Stewart and Zatanna arrives to defeat Wonder Woman, then keeps Superman at bay while Batman helps take on Destiny. Constantine has Boston inhabit his body, then allows himself to be captured by Destiny and taken into his protective sphere, where Boston then leaps into Destiny’s body. Boston is able to dispel the protective sphere before Destiny kicks him out of his body but when Destiny goes to attack Boston and Constantine, Jason Blood runs Etrigan’s sword through Destiny’s chest. As Constantine uses his magic to exorcise Destiny, Batman destroys the crystal to keep him from regaining his powers and Destiny is defeated, leaving Ritchie standing there and the Shrouds appear and drag his soul to Hell. With Destiny defeated, Jason succumbs to the wound he received back in Medieval times and dies. Constantine, Zatanna, and Etrigan take Jason’s body and bury it where his village once stood, then Etrigan disappears. Zatanna tells Constantine that she is joining the Justice League and that the have extended an offer to Constantine, who scoffs until she tells him Batman was the one that suggested he join. Constantine refuses at first but when Zatanna goes to leave, he stops her and says they can talk about it, then invites her back to the restored house for a drink. The two enter the house, where Black Orchid hands them both a pint and as they head inside, Boston is seen to have been watching them and he heads inside the house as well to spend time with Black Orchid.

I know that many of the DC animated movies have taken on a darker edge to them but this one took it to a different level. I don’t know how different this is from the comic series but this is a really good movie. The voice acting was really good, with Matt Ryan (Constantine), Jason O’Mara (Batman), and Camilla Luddington (Zatanna) doing great jobs in their roles. The story was pretty good and while I was glad to see that it ended with some magic users being added to the Justice League, I was sad that they killed Swamp Thing and Jason Blood (which essentially sent Etrigan back to Hell) as they had potential to be used a lot more in future movies. As much as Batman gets overused in movies (I know that may be sacrilegious to most but it is kind of true), I did like his use in this movie as he himself is closer to the darker aspects of humanity than most of the Justice League but he also helped keep things somewhat grounded. The animation was incredible, with the overall color scheme of the movie being pretty dark while the various magic used was bright, the contrast and effect that much more effective. A great movie to watch and a great way to showcase some under used characters.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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