action, adventure, animation, movie, movie review, sci-fi

December 17th, 2017 Movie – Superman/Batman: Apokalypse

superman batman apocalypse

You can’t keep a good idea down, especially when it comes to comic books, and with the ongoing run of the Batman/Superman comic, it only made sense that another movie would be made. When I heard about this movie, I was curious about it because it’s focus is on a character with an interesting history; Supergirl. There have been several heroes to use this moniker, from the original one, who died saving Superman from the Anti-Monitor during “Crisis On Infinite Earths”, to the artifical lifeform Matrix, who assumed the name in her role of guardian of a pocket universe before she joined the normal universe. And let’s not even get started with Power Girl. Anyways, a new Supergirl was introduced during the recent Batman/Superman comics and DC made an animated movie based on those comics. So let’s see how they did with today’s movie, Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.

The plot: Weeks after the destruction of the Kryptonite meteor, debris and small meteorites are still falling through the skies on Earth. In Gotham, a large object falls from the sky into the harbor and Batman heads out to investigate. Diving underwater, Batman finds several chunks of Kryptonite and a small Kryptonian craft but as he investigates the ship, a strange woman has swam up to his boat and starts climbing inside. The woman accidentally activates the boat, which takes off, and Batman, alerted to what is happening, fires a grapple at the boat and is drug along but lets go when the boat crashes into a nearby pier. Nearby, the woman, who is naked, approaches some dock workers, who start to harass her but she shoves one of them into some crates prompting another man to quickly offer her his coat before running away. The woman dons the coat and continues running, eventually being pursued by the police when she causes an accident. During the course of the chase, the woman reveals that she has powers, including super strength, invulnerability, heat vision, and flight. When Batman confronts her, she shoves him and takes off again but can’t control her flight and ends up taking out one of Gotham’s automated police blimps. Superman shows up and stops the blimp from crashing in the city while Batman subdues the frightened woman with a chunk of Kryptonite. Later, Batman is scanning the woman in the Batcave when she regains consciousness and destroys the computer. As she starts to fly off, Superman stops her and speaks to her in Kryptonian, learning that she is his cousin Kara. Superman takes her to the Fortress of Solitude in order to better learn how to act like a human but his dog Krypto doesn’t like Kara, constantly growling and attacking her, while Batman also has his suspicions, as Kara has no memories of what happened to her after Krypton exploded and very few memories of her life before that. Meanwhile, on Apokolips, Granny Goodness is testing a warrior named Treasure to see if she will be able to lead the Female Furies but when Treasure battles against the Furies (Gilotina, Mad Harriet, Lashina, and Stompa), they end up killing her. Darkseid informs Granny of the new arrival on Earth and orders her to bring Kara back to Apokolips, threatening to sic the Furies on her if she fails. Back on Earth, Clark takes Kara out to Metropolis so she can get used to being an Earth girl. As they walk through the park that night, she sees the statue of him and tells him she her powers scare her and she doesn’t want to be a hero like he is. Suddenly, Superman is attacked by a group of figures while another figure ensnares Kara with a rope and drags her away. Kara tries to use her heat vision to attack the figure, who easily blocks it while Kara loses control of her heat vision and destroys parts of the park. Superman subdues his attacker and goes to help Kara only to discover that her attacker is Wonder Woman, while Lyla (Harbinger) was the one attacking him. Wonder Woman tells Superman that she is taking Kara with her to train, pointing out the damage she caused in the park and asking what would have happened if it had been daytime when the park was full. Superman starts to object but Batman appears and tells him to trust them, as there are other reasons for them doing this. Kara is taken to Themyscira, where Diana works on training her to fight while controlling her powers but Superman, who was invited to watch a training seminar with Batman, feels it is a waste of time. As Superman and Wonder Woman argue over how best to proceed with Kara, Kara gets upset with them and leaves with Lyla, who has become her friend. Alone with Lyla, Kara vents about how controlling Superman and Wonder Woman are, even though she knows they both mean well, then suggest they go for a swim to cool off but Lyla hesitates, as she has been having continuous visions of a blonde woman lying dead in the water and worries it might be Kara. Meanwhile, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are discussing Lyla’s visions and the implications of them when a boom tube opens and an army of cloned Doomsdays appears through it. Wonder Woman summons her army of Amazons and, along with Superman and Batman, they proceed to fight the army of monsters. As the fight rages on, Batman realizes something isn’t right and runs off while Superman, seeing several Amazons dying during the fight, tells Wonder Woman to call them back as he uses his heat vision to disintegrate the army of Doomsdays. After catching his breath, Superman and Wonder Woman head off to look for Batman and finding him standing at the water’s edge on another side of the island. He tells them the army was a distraction and that a second boom tube opened there and as Superman approaches the body in front of Batman, he sees it is Lyla, not Kara, who had died. A glowing orb appears, showing Lyla’s last vision and they realize that Darkseid took Kara with him so Superman vows to avenge Lyla’s death and get Kara back. The three heroes go to see Big Barda, the former leader of the Furies who had defected to Earth, and enlist her help to rescue Kara and she agrees under the condition that she goes along as well. The four heroes arrive on Apokolips and after dispatching with a pair of tanks that attack them, they split up to go on their specific assignments. Barda and Wonder Woman make their way to the fight arena, where they confront Granny and the Furies and the two heroes are forced to fight with the Furies. Meanwhile, Batman heads towards Darkseid’s armory but he encounters some guard riding on giant hell hounds and is forced to deal with them first. He manages to bury them in some debris but when he reaches the armory, one of the hounds breaks through the wall and swallows him. As the guards go to check on the hound, it collapses and Batman pries open it’s jaws, then orders the guards to remove their armor. Back in the arena, Barda kills Stompa to save Wonder Woman, who moves to kill Mad Harriet but Granny orders her to surrender, as Gilotina and Lashina have captured Barda. Wonder Woman refuses, rescuing Barda, who knocks out Lashina, while Wonder Woman deals with Mad Harriet and Gilotina, then the two heroes turn their attention to Granny. Elsewhere, Superman approaches Darkseid’s throne room and demands that he release Kara and Darkseid says she is free to go if she chooses. Kara appears and when Superman tries to get her to leave, she refuses, then begins to attack him. Superman is hesitant to fight his cousin but when she continues to attack and try to kill him, he is forced to defend himself. As Darkseid watches the battle, Batman arrives and informs Darkseid that he armed all of his Hellspore bombs and threatens to blow up Apokolips unless Darkseid releases his hold on Kara. When Batman refuses to give up his demand after Darkseid beats him, Darkseids reluctantly concedes defeat, though acknowledges his respect for Batman, just as Superman defeats Kara. Returning to Earth, Kara apologizes for what happens, saying it was like being in a bad dream, and Superman says he will take her somewhere where she can just be herself. Kara pays her respects to Lyla, then thanks Diana for what she has taught her and approaches Batman and tells him her mother’s name, which she had finally remembered. Superman takes Kara to Smallville to stay with his parents but as they approach the door, Darkseid attacks them. Darkseid prepares to blast Superman with his omega beams but Kara pushes him out of the way and takes the hit. Superman then attacks Darkseid but Darkseid easily overpowers him, then blasts him into orbit with his omega beams. Believing Darkseid killed Superman, Kara begins to fight him, using what she learned on Themyscira and Apokolips to hold her own but Darkseid eventually overpowers her and knocks her unconscious. As he prepares to leave, Superman returns to face him but is distracted on seeing Kara’s motionless form. When Darkseid grabs his cape to turn him around, Superman punches him, then proceed to renew their battle. Superman injures Darkseid but Darkseid gets the upper hand and starts blasting him with his omega beams. Kara recovers and, grabbing Darkseid’s discarded Mother Box, opens a boom tube behind him and Superman uses his heat vision to blast him through it. As the two Kryptonians embrace, Kara tells him she had reprogrammed the Mother Box, sending Darkseid to freeze as he drifts aimlessly in space. Kara then tells him she knows what she wants to be but before she can tell him, the Kents arrive at the farm and look at the damage as Superman hastily introduces them to Kara and then says he will fix the damage done to the farm and home. Some time later, Superman is on Themyscira and introduces Batman, Barda, Wonder Woman, and the other Amazons to Kara, who has chosen to call herself Supergirl. She tells the assembled group that she doesn’t know if she is worthy of wearing the outfit but she will work hard to earn it. The Amazons all cheer and Supergirl smiles when she sees Batman grin in approval as he claps along with Wonder Woman and Barda as the two Kryptonians leave the island and fly back to Metropolis.

This was a bit dark but a pretty good movie none-the-less. The voice acting was really good, with Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, and Susan Eisenberg doing a great job reprising their voice roles of DC’s famed Trinity (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman respectively). The one actor that surprised me was Ed Asner, as I honestly didn’t realize he voiced the character of Granny Goodness in the 90’s Superman cartoons and Justice League cartoons. The story was good, doing a decent job in showcasing the confusion that Kara faced as she was forced to deal with being on a strange new world and trying to find her own place in it. The animation was pretty good and lost a lot of the more angular designs that were in the previous movie. A good movie that is definitely entertaining to watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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December 16th, 2017 Movie – Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

superman batman public enemies

While I have always been more of a Marvel Comics guy as opposed to DC, I have read some DC comics over the years. I remember reading several comics as a kid featuring 2/3 of DC’s famed trinity, Batman and Superman. The two have teamed up in the comics numerous times and had their own series once or twice, with a recent one starting up in 2003. Today’s movie is actually based on that series, taking the first 6 issues and turning them into a new animated movie. While it takes place during DC’s new animated universe of movies, it is technically not a part of the DCAU but that isn’t going to stop me from enjoying today’s movie, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. 

The plot: As the country finds itself in the grips of a crippling economic depression, Lex Luthor runs for president under a 3rd party bid and ends up winning the election. During his inauguration speech, Luthor comments on the aliens and superheroes who act above the law and says he has formed his own official task force, consisting of Captain Atom, Power Girl, Black Lightning, Katana, and Major Force, to deal with any problems and if the other superheroes don’t fall in line, they will be punished. Some time later, Superman is dealing with a high speed car chase when he is confronted by Captain Atom, Power Girl, and Major Force. Captain Atom wants Superman to admit that he was wrong about Luthor but Superman says Luthor is up to something and refuses to trust him. Meanwhile, Luthor is in the war room with his Chief of Staff, Amanda Waller, watching telemetry on an approaching Kyptonite meteor, which is the size of a small continent and heading straight towards Earth. Luthor plans to blow the meteor up with missiles before it reaches Earth but Amanda suggests using some of the Superheroes to deal with it. Luthor admits that he only created the task force so that the heroes wouldn’t be working against him but Amanda persists, saying he only wants to do it himself to get all the credit. Luthor holds a press conference about the approaching meteor and asks Superman to meet with him so they can discuss the situation. Batman and Superman are watching the press conference in the Batcave and Batman tells Superman that Luthor isn’t lying about the meteor but he is working on his own way to deal with it along with an associate. Superman decides to meet with Luthor in Gotham but as they talk, Superman starts to feel weak and he grabs Luthor, only to discover that one of Luthor’s Secret Service Agents is Metallo, whose Kryptonite power source is the reason Superman is feeling weak. Luthor leaves as Superman and Metallo begin fighting, with the fight taking them to the local cemetery. When Metallo appears to have the upper hand, Batman shows up to rescue Superman but Metallo takes a shard of the Kryptonite that Batman had broken off of him and uses it as a bullet to shoot Superman. Superman falls into an open grave and as Batman jumps in to help him, Metallo buries them both alive. Batman uses an explosive charge to blow a hole underneath them into the sewers and when Metallo, who heard the blast, goes to investigate only to find the empty grave, then turns when he sees someone standing behind him. In the sewers, the wounded Superman and Batman make their way through the sewers to the Batcave, where they are met by Alfred and Alfred proceeds to tend to their injuries, including removing the Kryptonite from Superman. Superman and Batman watch a news report where Luthor says Metallo is dead and blames Superman for the murder. Showing edited footage from his meeting with Superman to serve as proof about his claim, Luthor places a $1 billion bounty on Superman’s head before ending his speech. As the press leave, Luthor starts to open his drawer to reveal a hypodermic gun filled with Kryptonite but before he can use it, he is interrupted by Power Girl, who pleads Superman’s innocence. Batman and Superman head to Star Labs so Batman can access their data on the meteor when Superman smells something and discovers Metallo’s body in the morgue. Batman discovers that the Metallo was killed by a radioactive blast but before they can inspect any further, they are confronted by some guards. Superman flies them out of there but they are attacked by Silver Banshee. As Superman deals with her, Batman is confronted by Killer Frost, Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold, and Icicle but he is saved by Superman. The two heroes then contend with Mongul, Solomon Grundy, Lady Shiva, Nightshade, and Gorilla Grodd before they find themselves surrounded by more villains out to collect on the bounty. They are eventually saved by Captain Atom but as Superman goes to thank him, Captain Atom, accompanied by Power Girl, Major Force, Katana, Black Lightning, and Starfire, says he has a warrant for Superman’s arrest. Meanwhile, Luthor flies out to a military base to oversee the launch of the missiles but along the way, he starts getting a headache and Waller starts to get worried about him. Back at Star Labs, Superman and Batman fend off the attacks of Captain Atom and his team, with Power Girl, whose loyalties are divided, shouting out a warning to Superman when Captain Atom is about to blast him. Superman eventually flies around at super speed to create a whirlwind to disorient the heroes while he grabs Power Girl and makes his escape with Batman. Arriving at the Daily Planet, Superman asks Power Girl why she helped them and she says it felt right and she doesn’t believe he killed Metallo. Batman asks her about Luthor and she admits her unease around him but before the can talk anymore, they are confronted by Captain Atom and his task force again. During the fight, Batman realizes that Major Force was the one who killed Metallo and goads him into admitting it. Power Girl, angry over being used, attacks Major Force and punches him hard enough to rupture his containment suit. Black Lightning creates a force field around him to contain the energy and Captain Atom, having heard everything, absorbs it, with the resulting explosion rendering Captain Atom injured, but alive, while Major Force is no more. Back at the military base, Luthor, Waller, and the generals watch as the missiles head towards the meteor only for the meteor’s high radiation levels to destroy the missiles before they impact with it. Batman, Superman, and Power Girl reach the base and then they have Power Girl head off to another location while Batman and Superman make their way to the base, only to be attacked by Captain Marvel and Hawkman. Meanwhile, Luthor gives  a speech to try and calm the people, claiming the missiles were a research mission and the true rescue effort will be commencing shortly. When Waller goes into his office to confront him, she discovers Luthor injecting himself with a mixture of steroids and Kryptonite, which has affected his mind. Luthor plans to let the meteor hit the Earth, then rule over the surviving people, with Waller playing a role in that new society. Luthor is called away to meet with Captain Marvel and Hawkman, only to discover it is Batman and Sueprman in disguise, as they were able to beat the two heroes with Power Girl’s help. The confront Luthor about the data on the meteor but Luthor wipes his computer hard drives, preventing them from getting the needed data. Waller shows up and hands Batman a flash drive with the data, begging him to save them, and Superman and Batman quickly leave and head for Tokyo. Waller orders the general to arrest Luthor but he quickly runs back into his office, where he injects himself with more Kryptonite before donning a power suit and fighting his way out of the base and taking off after the two heroes. Superman and Batman arrive at the factory/home of Hiro Okamura, the Japanese Toyman, and find Power Girl waiting for them in an outer chamber, as Toyman’s teenage hormones had gotten on her nerves. Batman and Superman head inside and give Toyman the data, who starts to load it into his computer so he can program his giant rocket, which is fashioned as a combination of Batman and Superman, to take out the meteor. Luthor arrives at Toyman’s base and quickly takes out Power Girl, then begins fighting Superman, knocking Batman away when he tries to help. Luthor then confronts Toyman and destroys the computer, stopping Toyman from programming his rocket. Batman heads to the rocket and prepares to fly it himself to destroy the meteor, saying goodbye to Superman as he prepares the rocket to launch. Luthor tries to stop Batman but Superman stops him, then attacks him in a rage due to Luthor’s part in Batman’s suicide mission. The two take to the skies in their fight, eventually making it back to the US before Superman is finally able to bring Luthor down. Out in space, Batman pilots the rocket towards the meteor and it detonates, with the explosion being seen back on Earth. As the people all cheer the meteor’s destruction, Superman punches Luthor into a building as Captain Atom and Power Girl arrive at the scene. Power Girl tells Superman that Toyman says there might be a chance Batman survived and he Quickly flies off, while Captain Atom grabs Luthor and has him locked up for his crimes. Flying up to the rocket’s debris, Superman finds Batman within the rocket’s escape pod, which is shaped like a combination of both their logos. Superman flies the escape pod back to Earth and lands in Metropolis, and as the two heroes see a helicopter carrying Lois Lane flying towards them, Superman invites Batman to come eat with him and Lois but Batman heads back to Gotham and disappears as the helicopter lands and Lois heads towards Superman and the two embrace.

This is a really fun movie to watch. The voice acting was great, especially since they had Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, and Clancy Brown all reprising their roles from as Superman, Batman, and Luthor from the original Batman/Superman/Justice League cartoons from the 90’s/2000’s. I also liked that they brought back CCH Pounder to reprise her role of Amanda Waller, while Xander Berkley and Allison Mack did good jobs in their roles of Captain Atom and Power Girl. The story was pretty good, though I can’t say for certain how closely it matches with the comics as I haven’t read them yet. I liked that they kept the friendly, semi-combative banter between Superman and Batman, showcasing the mutual respect they have for each other. I also liked how Luthor accuses Superman of being driven mad by the Kryptonite while he himself is actually the one going mad. The animation was really good, though some of the characters, like Power Girl, looked a little too angular in their design. Minor flaws aside, this is a good movie and definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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December 15th, 2017 Movie – Superman: Doomsday

superman doomsday

In 1992, an announcement was made that rocked the comic book industry, and the world itself; DC comics was going to kill Superman. The event would become one of the most talked about events worldwide, with Superman (vol. 2) #75

superman 75(the actual comic where he died) becoming the highest selling comic of all time. As popular as the story was, it only makes sense that they would make a movie based on it. So to jump start their new line of animated films, DC decided to do just that. So let’s see how the animated version lives up to the hype from the comics as I watch today’s movie, Superman: Doomsday.

The plot: At the Daily Planet, Lois Lane and Perry White are arguing about her article on a LexCorp charity being a front, with Perry refusing to print it to avoid being sued for libel. As Lois storms out of his office, Perry says goodbye to Clark Kent, who is getting ready to travel to Afghanistan as a foreign correspondent, and Clark says goodbye to Lois before he leaves. Elsewhere, a secret LexCorp project is digging deep underground to tap into the Earth’s core as a new power source when the uncover an alien spaceship. As Lex Luthor watches from a video uplink, the workers accidentally pierce the spaceship, causing an inert gas to escape as a hologram of an alien being warns them about what is inside. When the gas is dispersed, a massive figure inside the ship suddenly breaks free and proceeds to kill everyone in the tunnel, as well as back up on the surface. Elsewhere, Superman and Lois are having a romantic getaway at the Fortress of Solitude but Lois’ thoughts drift back to Clark. She comments to Superman about how Clark seems to become more distant, physically and emotionally, the closer she gets to him and, getting suspicious, starts trying to find out more about Superman and gets upset that he won’t admit who he really is. Meanwhile, Doomsday continues making his way through the woods, killing everyone and everything he encounters, until he finally reaches Metropolis. At the same time, Luthor tells his assistant to make sure there is no sign his company was ever at the dig site, as he doesn’t want to be held responsible for unleashing Doomsday on the city. Back at the Fortress, Superman apologizes to Lois and starts to tell her who he really is when his robot servant informs him of the events in Metropolis. As Superman prepares to leave, the robot says it found mention of Doomsday in his father’s records and that it was created to be the perfect killing machine while being practically unkillable itself. Superman carries Lois back to Metropolis with him, setting her down on the roof of the Daily Planet while he flies off to face Doomsday. When he arrives at where the military is trying to stop Doomsday, Superman attempts to freeze the creature but it breaks free from the ice and begins to attack Superman. Lois and Jimmy use the Daily Planet’s helicopter to report on the story but Doomsday spots them and attacks the helicopter. Superman rescues them, knocking Doomsday into a building, then sets the helicopter down and tells Lois and Jimmy to run while he continues to battle Doomsday. Doomsday appears to get the upper hand, battering Superman to the point he is coughing up blood, but when Doomsday turns his attention onto a little girl who is crying nearby, Superman grabs Doomsday and flies up into space, then turns around and speeds back to Earth, pummeling Doomsday as they fall. The two crash into the street and Doomsday is finally killed while Superman staggers out of the crater they left before collapsing on the ground as Lois rushes to him. Superman asks if everyone is ok and when Lois tells him he saved everyone, Superman dies, with Lois and Jimmy both crying over him while in Smallville, Martha Kent breaks into tears as she watches the footage on TV. A funeral is held for Superman and as Perry walks Lois away, she notices Martha leaving as well. Meanwhile, Jimmy is approached by the head of a tabloid, who offers Jimmy a job which Jimmy accepts. As Perry tells Lois to take some time off and go be with family, Lois decides to travel to Smallville to see Martha. Unsure of how much she might know about her, Lois stammers her way through an introduction but Martha, suspicious at first, takes pity on her and invites her in to talk. Meanwhile, Mercy tells Luthor that everything was taken care of so there is no sign of their involvement at the dig site and Luthor kills her so she won’t become a loose end. When the Toyman kidnaps a bus full of kids, Lois heads to the rooftop he is holding them on and tries to get them to safety. She is spotted as she is saving the last girl and Toyman throws the bus off the roof but Lois, and the rest of the onlookers, are surprised when she is rescued by Superman. Superman sets the bus down and goes after Toyman, defeating his giant mechanical spider and dropping him in front of the police before flying off with Lois. Lois asks how he is back and he says he isn’t sure, just that he woke up in darkness. When he drops her off at her apartment, Lois kisses Superman but he doesn’t kiss her back and Lois gets concerned. Meanwhile, Superman heads LexCorp to confront Luthor, who tricks him into entering a room lit by red sunlight and proceeds to beat him up with Kryptonite laced gauntlets. After rendering Superman unconscious, Luthor tells him that he is doing a good job in pretending to be Superman. Luthor then heads to another room, where he has the Superman’s body kept in a stasis chamber, and reveals that he cloned Superman so that he can take the glory for his accomplishments. As time passes, Lois and Martha both get suspicious about Superman as there has been no sign or contact from Clark to either of them. At LexCorp, Luthor goes to mock Superman’s body again only to discover that it is missing. At the Fortress of Solitude, Superman awakens and finds the robot tending to him, explaining that his biology had slowed his metabolism to a crawl in order to heal. He then explains about the clone but says it is best to leave it be for now, as it is helping the people of Metropolis, and instead he should focus on healing. Back in Metropolis, the clone sees a news broadcast of the Toyman having escaped custody and killing a kid before he is recaptured. Superman heads to the police station and grabs the captured Toyman, then flies him up into the air before letting him go, where he falls to his death. As the clone starts behaving more totalitarian in his dispensing of justice, Luthor hands him a list of people that might have stolen Superman’s body and tells him to find it discreetly, warning the clone he can kill him if he gets out of line. The clone leaves LexCorp and heads to a beauty salon, where he uses a mirror to examine himself and discovers a small, lead sphere in his brain. Realizing that it must contain Kryptonite inside, the clone uses his heat vision to burn a hole in his head, then removes the sphere. Back at the Fortress, Superman is in a chamber that is accelerating his solar absorbtion as he continues to heal and regain his strength. Lois heads to LexCorp to ask Luthor how he got Superman to be his puppet and when Luthor attempts to seduce her and kisses her, she drugs him and knocks him unconscious. Lois and Jimmy then find the files and secret room, where Luthor has created dozens of clones. Luthor regains consciousness and admits he is making the clones as his own personal police force, then prepares to kill them when the clone arrives. Luthor attempts to kill the clone but when the detonator doesn’t work, he notices the scar on the clone’s forehead and realizes that he removed the safeguard. The clone proceeds to destroy all of the other clones and computers in the room, then tells Lois and Jimmy to evacuate while he goes after Luthor. Luthor heads into his red sun room and challenges the clone but the clone simply seals Luthor into the room, then pulls it free from the building before throwing it down to the ground, seemingly killing Luthor. Back at the Fortress, the robot informs Superman about what is happening and Superman says he has to go back. The robot warns that he is not at full strength and the clone could kill him again, then hands him Luthor’s Kryptonite gun to use as a way to even the playing field. Back in Metropolis, the military is called in to deal with the clone but he easily destroys all of their vehicles. Superman arrives, wearing a black solar suit to help him recharge, and he speaks with the clone first before they start fighting. Superman tries to shoot the clone with the Kryptonite gun but the clone quickly knocks it away and they begin fighting. Lois and Jimmy start to cover the action but when it seems like the clone is getting the upper hand, Lois heads off to get the Kryptonite gun. As the clone goes to kill Superman, Lois shoots the clone with the gun but before she can fire another shot, the clone destroys the gun, sending the Kryptonite cell falling into some tar. Superman renews his fight with the clone but the clone overpowers him. As the clone grabs the Superman memorial to crush Superman with, Superman sees the Kryptonite cell stuck to the clone’s chest and uses his heat vision to cause it to explode, sending a cloud of Kryptonite smoke to surround the clone. The clone falls to the ground with the memorial falling on top of him and as the clone staggers away from the smoke, he collapses in front of Superman, begging him to protect the people. Lois approaches Superman, wanting to know if he is the real Superman, and when Superman kisses her, she accepts he is the real Superman. Superman is worried that the people of Metropolis won’t be so accepting of him but when a kid approaches him and asks if he will go back to wearing his normal uniform, Lois says she isn’t worried as more people approach Superman. Back at Lois’s apartment, Superman emerges from her shower as she is writing an article. When he corrects a spelling mistake in her article, he comments about being the Smallville Elementary spelling bee champ and when she turns to face him, she sees he has put on his glasses to reveal to her that he is Clark. Lois kisses him, then tells him to call his mother as they embrace while back at LexCorp, Luthor is shown to have survived and is recuperating from his injuries while thinking of his next plan to destroy Superman.

I am of mixed opinions about this movie. I mean, the death, and return, of Superman was a months long affair in the comics and to condense it down to 77 minutes definitely means a lot of stuff out. That being said, this wasn’t that bad of a movie. The voice acting was good, with Adam Baldwin (Superman), Anne Heche (Lois) and James Marsters (Luthor) doing good jobs voicing their characters. Obviously, the story is not going to be like the comics but it wasn’t too bad. I did like that they included a brief scene of the tattered cape hanging from a pole (as seen in the cover above). I also liked that they included the clone aspect from the comics, though in this case it was a full grown copy while in the comics, it was a half Superman, half Luthor hybrid that became Superboy. My favorite part was the brief voice cameo that Kevin Smith had, where he commented about the giant mechanical spider as this was a nod to when he was working on a Superman movie in the late 90’s and the producer kept insisting that he add a giant spider to it. The animation in this was pretty good and the lighting kept the movie pretty dark and gritty, which helped keep with the rather somber tone of the movie. It is not as good as the comics, but it is a decent movie and worth watching.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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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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adventure, animation, fantasy, movie, movie review

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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animation, crime, drama, movie, movie review, sci-fi

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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