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Dec 282016
 

Many of us remember the classic Batman TV show from the 60s. But with all those darker edgier versions of Batman over the years, I never thought I’d see the day when the campy style of the franchise would make a comeback, like in the straight to DVD animated release, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.

Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar reprise their roles as Batman, Robin, and Catwoman. Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon are also featured. It’s so amazing that even though the original actors from the TV series have all passed on; the voice talents in this movie sound a lot like them from the Joker’s laugh to the Riddler’s maniacal giggle.

I met Adam West at FX Convention in 2008.

What’s also amazing is that characters like Chief O’Hara, Warden Crichton, and Dick Grayson’s aunt Harriet Cooper also appear, since they were never featured in any other version of Batman.

Even the fight scenes contain the same level of excitement as the TV series, words and all. Not to mention, the perils the caped crusaders end up in have the same thrills. The only difference is that there is no narrator. In a way, that’s a good thing.

Here’s another cool tidbit. During a fight scene, Batman gets hit in the head and temporarily sees three cat women, each one different. Now that’s funny, since three different actresses played Catwoman over the series run.

As for the story line, Catwoman uses a potion to turn Batman evil. During the process, Batman acts more brutal and edgier, which is a shock to everyone, including the villains. In any other version of Batman, that’s normal. Heck, in Superman vs. Batman, he goes as far as using a bat shaped branding iron to leave his mark on the criminals he defeats. It certainly makes you think.

In addition, Batman uses a replica ray to clone himself many times as a means to take over Gotham City. Robin comes up with an idea to stop Batman by sending other villains after him by breaking them out of jail. (Remember that there was no Arkham Asylum in the old version of Batman.) They include Mad Hatter, Mr. Freeze, Egg Head, King Tut, Bookworm, Louie the Lilac, the Siren, the Minstrel, the Archer, the Clock King, Shame, Black Widow, Sandman, and False Face. Even though these are only cameo appearances, it’s nice to see these retro villains make a comeback.

This was an excellent movie containing all the charm of the classic Batman series, as well as the authentic animation. If you’re highly familiar with the old version, it’s very easy to catch on to the nostalgia it contains, including how female villains like Catwoman never get punched out like the other criminals.

Oct 192016
 

As much as I enjoyed the first film, I couldn’t wait to see its sequel Hotel Transylvania 2 and believe me it was well worth it.

Much has changed at Hotel Transylvania. Now that humans and monsters live in peace and harmony, Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler) approves of human guests and his daughter Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) is married to Johnny (voice of Andy Samberg). Could things get any better?

Yes they can. Mavis and Johnny have a son named Dennis (voice of Asher Blinkoff), who is half human, half vampire, (a.k.a. a dhampir) and just adorable. Dracula is very close with Dennis. In fact, he even disguised himself as a nurse to see his grandson. That’s just not something you would ever expect Count Dracula to do.

Johnny’s family is introduced in this sequel. His father Mike (voice of Nick Offerman) is always so serious as he tolerates everyone around him. Johnny’s mother Linda (voice of Megan Mullally) tries to be kind but always ends up putting her foot in her mouth, making things become awkward.

Dracula has high hopes for Dennis to show his vampire side, but it hasn’t surfaced yet. Secondly, Dennis’s favorite monster is Kakie (voice of Chris Kattan) a TV monster that’s friendly like Elmo and bit corny.

After seeing how the numerous wolf pups can move around like a wild tornado, Mavis believes that the hotel is not a good place to raise Dennis and considers moving to Johnny’s hometown in California. While the two of them are gone, Dracula sees this as an opportunity to inspire Dennis. So Dracula and his friends Frankenstein (voice of Kevin James), Wayne the Wolfman (voice of Steve Buscemi), Griffin the invisible man (voice of David Spade), and Murray the mummy (voice of Keegan-Michael Key) take Dennis on a road trip to their old haunts. Even Blobby the blob monster comes along for laughs.

Once Mavis finds out, she is so determined to get back to the hotel, she actually carries Johnny and their luggage herself while flying back to Transylvania as a bat. I never thought Mavis was that strong. I guess it goes to show that you should never underestimate the power of a concerned vampire mother.

Here’s a cool addition. The hotel has an organ player, who is none other than the Phantom of the Opera (voice of Jon Lovitz). It’s neat how he was thrown in so randomly. That got me thinking. There’s no mention of what became of Quasimodo after how he was left in the first movie.

It isn’t until much later when we see Dracula’s father Vlad (voice of Mel Brooks). Although Vlad dislikes humans even more than Dracula used to, the real threat is Vlad’s servant bat monster Bela (voice of Rob Riggle) and his bat crew, since they’re always up front about it.

I really like this movie and find it even funnier than the first one. I also saw online that there is a third installment in the works. I have no doubt that it will only get better from here.

Jul 202016
 

I can remember when I saw Mr. Peabody and Sherman at the movie theater and there was a short animated film called Almost Home, where a race of aliens called the Boov go from planet to planet in search of a new place to live. Each time it always ends in disaster, thanks to their smooth talking leader.

About a year later, there was a full-length movie that extended on that story called Home. In this feature, the Boov are a race of aliens with no family values and can change color based on their emotions. They often relocate because they’re on the run from enemy aliens called the Gorg (Not to be confused with the Gorgs from Fraggle Rock).

The Boov leader’s name is revealed to be Captain Smek (voice of Steve Martin). As the Boov arrive on Earth, he relocates the entire human race to certain parts of the world while the Boov invade the rest of the planet in a friendly manner, despite how they declare things like toilets, bicycles, and accordions obsolete.

Of course the real focus is on Oh (voice of Jim Parsons), a Boov that’s more excitable and freethinking. That’s what makes him a misfit and frankly that’s how Oh got his name. Oh has made many mistakes in his time and becomes a fugitive when his only intention was to throw a party.

 

While on the lam, he meets a young teenage girl named Tip (voice of Rihanna) that was separated from her mother Lucy (voice of Jennifer Lopez) during the invasion. Tip is outspoken, but I also find her very likable.
Tip also has a pet cat named Pig. I admit that can be confusing, but I’m sure that name comes from the cat’s curly tail.

Let’s certainly not forget Oh and Tip’s traveling vehicle, Slushious. Oh was able to modify a car to fly and run on slushies. What a great idea, now everybody is going to want one.

I really enjoyed this movie. It leaves me laughing every time I see it. Do you suppose Dreamworks will make an animated series for Home just like with Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, and The Penguins of Madagascar?

Apr 132016
 

As you might recall, the classic Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers contained Japanese footage within the episodes. But have you ever wondered exactly where that footage came from? It’s from a Sentai series called Super Sentai Zyuranger(1992-1993).

These rangers originally coexisted with the dinosaurs 170 million years ago. Each one was from a different tribe and put in suspended animation until they were awakened to defend Earth. Best part is that there is no identity secrecy. Everyone knows who the Zyurangers are and they befriend the many citizens, especially the kids. They are Geki (Yuta Mochizuki) as the Red Ranger, Goushi (Seiju Umon) as the Black Ranger, Dan (Hideki Fujiwara) as the Blue Ranger, Boi (Takumi Hashimoto) as the Yellow Ranger, and Mei (Reiko Chiba) as the Pink Ranger.

Later on, a sixth Zyuranger joins the team, Burai (Hisashi Sakai) as the Green Ranger. Like the Green Ranger on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, he’s not featured as frequently but for a completely different reason altogether.

The rangers also have zords, but they are featured as the Guardian Beasts and they actually talk. When the five Guardian Beasts combine they become Daizyuzin and Burai’s Guardian Beast is called Dragon Caesar. As interesting as that sounds, I still prefer to call them Megazord and Dragonzord. The same goes for King Brachion as Titanus the Ultrazord.

Instead of Zordon and Alpha 5, the Zyurangers’ wise mentor is a wizard named Barza (Jun Tatara) and he lives in an underground temple instead of a command center.

The villains have the same exact look to the ones on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. However, they are very different in comparison. Not just their names, but their personalities too. Let’s start with the leader who is the witch Bandora (Machiko Soga). If you thought Rita Repulsa was evil, Bandora is much worse. She hates children and often targets them as a way to conquer Earth, sometimes in a brutal manner. Now that’s just low. On the bright side, she is funny when defeated much like Rita.

Bandora’s group also consists of strong warriors Grifforzar and Lamy (Ami Kawai) who are actually husband and wife. That was certainly a surprise since Goldar and Scorpina were never a couple.

And let’s not forget the comedic Topat (Baboo) and Bookback (Squatt) who can take human form. As well as Pleprechaun (Finster) the unusual artist, who created the Golems (Putty Patrollers) and the various Dora Monsters.

Speaking of which, the names are very different but the monster is easy to recognize like Dora Goblin (Gnarly Gnome), Dora Sphinx (King Sphinx), Dora Ninja (Dark Warrior), Dora Cockatrice (Chunky Chicken), Dora Laygor (Madam Woe), and so on and so forth. Personally I prefer to identify the monsters by their names on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

I’ll tell you, I really enjoyed this Sentai series. If you think it’s like Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, it isn’t. Super Sentai Zyuranger is edgier and definitely not a kid show. It sure is nice to compare the two shows, especially if you’re a Power Rangers fan.

One last note: There are other Super Sentai shows that follow a similar premise. One I would also recommend is Gosei Sentai Dairanger, which contains footage of the Thunderzords, the White Ranger, and monsters from season two of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

Mar 302016
 

The classic comedy trio of horror stars from the 60s, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff, unite once again in The Comedy Of Terrors. Unlike some of their earlier horror classics, this movie is not based on an Edgar Allan Poe poem.

Undertaker Waldo Trumbull (Vincent Price) struggles to keep his funeral parlor in business. In an effort to save money, Trumbull and his assistant Felix Gillie (Peter Lorre) reuse the same coffin after every funeral. That first scene uses that fast motion comedy like on The Munsters. It leaves me laughing every time I see it.

The original owner of the funeral parlor was Amos Hinchley (Boris Karloff). He’s now old, sick, and senile, not to mention deaf and gullible.

Hinchley also has a daughter, Amaryllis (Joyce Jameson). She is Trumbull’s wife and an aspiring opera singer. However, Amaryllis is miserable because Trumbull is often drunk and is always mean to her. As for Amaryllis’s singing, it’s okay at first. Then when she reaches the high notes, they cause hilarious results.

With the landlord Mr. Black (Basil Rathbone) demanding the rent, Trumbull gets an idea. He and Gillie go to Mr. Black’s house to kill him and make him a customer. However, the plan is in jeopardy when it’s revealed that Mr. Black has a condition that he goes into a deathlike sleep and wakes right up unexpectedly. It’s so funny when that keeps happening, as though nothing can kill Mr. Black.

Throughout the movie, Amaryllis’s pet cat Cleopatra is in the thick of things with reactions that are hilarious like when the cat can’t stand Amaryllis’s singing. It certainly was an interesting use of cat humor.

This was a good horror film for its time. It’s really the level of comedy that makes it a classic, especially after how great The Raven was in the same manner.