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Mar 152017
 

Next to Anime, Sentai shows are often interesting. One title that always seems to pop up is Ultraman: The Complete Series (1966-1967). Until fairly recently, I had no idea what it was about since the commercials and merchandise don’t tell much.

The series takes place in the future and various aliens from outer space, mainly giant monsters, come to Earth and try to threaten civilization. It’s always up to an organization called the Science Patrol to protect the planet from these monstrous threats.

The Science Patrol consists of Captain Mura (Akiji Kobayashi), tough guy Daisuke Arashi (Sandayu Dokumamushi), the funny inventor Mitsuhiro Ide (Masanari Nihei), the pretty radio/communications operator Akiko Fuji (Horoko Sakurai), and her younger brother Hoshin Fuji (Akihide Tsuzawa).

Also helping out is Deputy Captain Shin Hayata (Susumu Korobe), who unknown to everyone is Ultraman, a giant intergalactic hero.

Unlike other superheroes, Shin never transforms right away when faced with the monstrous danger. He always waits to do so as a last resort because Ultraman has a color timer, limiting his powers. In a way, it’s a total rip off.

I know that it’s a 60s series and I don’t expect much action, but the Ultraman battles are only featured in the climax of each episode. That’s best part of the show, seeing Ultraman kick monster butt.

Overall, this was a good show for its time. Though not as exciting as the Super Sentai franchise, it certainly is interesting like in the way of the classic Godzilla movies.

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.

Nov 232016
 

The X-Men movie franchise has gone in several directions over the years. X-men: Days Of Future Past is a direct sequel to X-men: First Class, but delves into the old movie versions as well.

It starts in the future where the X-Men are at war with the Sentinels. The only survivors are Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Storm (Halle Berry), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), and several others. They believe that the only way to stop this war is through time travel. Kitty Pryde sends Wolverine back to the year 1973, but only consciously.

It turns out that Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) caused the war when she killed Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) the creator of the Sentinels and got caught shortly afterwards. It’s up to Wolverine to stop Mystique, but he can’t do it alone.

Image result for x-men days of future past

He seeks help from young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Beast (Nicholas Hault), and young Magneto (Michael Fassbender). It takes a while for them to come around, but Wolverine was able to get them to come together, in his own way.

Also helping out is a new mutant named Quicksilver (Evan Peters). He’s fast like lightning, but has a cocky attitude. It especially shows when Quicksilver goes around the prison kitchen to draw the guards’ fire, which makes him a very helpful ally. What I don’t understand is why the song Time in a Bottle was playing in the background. It totally changed the mood of the scene.

However, things do not run smoothly. The war in the future gets worse and Wolverine’s attempt to change the past goes haywire, especially with time not on anyone’s side.

I liked this film. It combines the entire movie franchise together so well, but that doesn’t mean it’s ending anytime soon. Especially since there’s always a post credits scene that indicates something new is about to happen. It just leaves you wanting more, no matter where the franchise will branch out next.

Sep 282016
 
Many pop culture villains are straightforward with their evil plots. Then there are ones that use a more creative approach to either terrorize the innocent or force the hero(s) to alter their tactics when challenged. Here are some of my most favorite interesting villains who stand out in that unique manner.
Cheapo
#10) Cheapo from Stripperella: Of all the villains on this series, he is the most unusual because he’s very cheap as a crime lord. Cheapo’s resourcefulness is based on how he plans everything the cheapest way possible. However, it affects his common sense. So much so that his own henchmen appear to be smarter then him. Seriously, what criminal mastermind prefers copper to gold?
Floatzart
#9) Floatzart from Ghostbusters (1986 version): This ghostly maestro uses music to subdue his victims, whether it’s to conduct ghosts with his baton or play his float flute that’s made from a long bone. Very little is known about Floatzart since he was only in a few episodes and, like the other evil ghosts, his background from when he was alive is not revealed. I do like his style though. He is one of few musical villains that aren’t annoying.
#8) Leaky Faucet from Power Rangers Zeo: Many of the monsters on Power Rangers normally don’t stand out too often because they’re only featured once before getting destroyed, twice if they’re lucky to be brought back. In this version, Leaky Faucet is different than most. He can liquefy at will and easily sneak into water pipes in order to spread his toxins. For a machine monster, that’s quite impressive.
#7) Dr. Bad Vibes from C.O.P.S. the Animated Series: He’s a brilliant scientist that invents high tech gadgets for the Big Boss. Along with his robot companion Buzz Bomb, Dr. Bad Vibes commits crimes with unusual inventions from a circus train that can bash through buildings to speed suits that make criminals run really fast. I still can’t get over the fact that he has his brain under glass and never takes off his wild shades. I wonder why that is.
#6) Ty-Lee from Avatar: The Last Air Bender: There are many benders, but this cheerful acrobatic girl has the skill to chi block a bender’s power using pressure points. This makes Ty-Lee a very dangerous opponent along side her friends Mai and Azula. It just goes to show that Ty-Lee may be beautiful, but looks can be deceiving.
#5) Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons: Bob Terwilliger used to be Krusty the Clown’s sidekick until he was put in prison for framing Krusty for armed robbery. On each of Bob’s return appearances, he seeks revenge on Bart while coming up with crazy but ingenious plans like running for Mayor of Springfield and abolishing television, yet it’s always Bart and Lisa who defeat Bob and put him back in prison. Aside from Bob’s dangerous persona, he always ends up in funny situations. That always makes me look forward to Bob’s next appearance, since he’s only a reoccurring villain.
 
#4) Mystique from X-Men franchise: If there’s one mutant power that makes a villain tough to beat, it’s the ability to shape shift. Mystique is a unique mutant with smooth fighting abilities, but what really makes her interesting is that she can turn into anyone. If she turns into another mutant, she can use their powers against her opponents. It’s very difficult to see through Mystique when she takes another form. This brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “Master of Disguise”.
#3) Live Wire from Superman franchise: She was once a radio personality named Leslie Willis. After getting struck by lightning, she became a super villain with the power to control anything electrical. Not only are her powers smooth, Live Wire can easily travel through electrical wires anywhere. What I like most about Live Wire is her witty personality. She always has something funny to say while fighting her enemies, next to Harley Quinn of course.
#2) Baxter Stockman from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise: Once again, the most creative villain is the deranged scientific genius. Stockman isn’t really a much of a fighter on his own, but he can be a very tricky adversary. Whether he’s leading an army of mousers, wearing advanced battle armor, or fighting as a mutant fly, Stockman’s skills always give him an edge that even some of the strongest villains don’t have.
 
#1) The Riddler from Batman franchise: Batman has faced a huge number of creative villains, but none come as close as Edward Nygma a.k.a. the Riddler. Using his brilliant mind, he comes up with brainteasers that are so advanced that they often have a double meaning. Somehow, Batman is always able to figure them out. After he does, it’s so interesting to see the different angles from the advanced riddles. I’m not sure how the Riddler comes up with those so efficiently, but it’s so cool how he can make a game out of a crime caper apart from the Joker.
Jul 062016
 

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and J’Onn J’Onzz the Martian Hunter are back again in Justice League: Doom. With the assistance of Cyborg, the task is to once again save the world from a horrible threat.

It starts with a real exciting battle with the Royal Flush Gang. These villains are real high tech, even though they don’t appear to be the same ones from Batman Beyond.

The real threat is the Legion of Doom. Now I can remember when I first heard about the Legion of Doom headquarters on Challenge of the Super Friends (1978-1979), which consisted of 13 archenemies. This time there are only five, not including the mastermind behind it all.

Each arch villain has a personal vendetta against a different Justice League member. They are Bane, Cheetah, Metallo, Mirror Master, Star Sapphire, and Ma’alefa’ak. From what I understand, these particular villains were handpicked because they are the toughest in each group of colorful archenemies.

Originally the leader of the Legion of Doom was Lex Luthor, but he’s not even in this movie. This time it’s a new villain named Vandal Savage. He’s an immortal intent on destroying most of the world’s population and creating a new civilization to lead. I’ll tell you, his back-story is strange. Simple, but strange.

The tactics the archenemies use on the Justice League are so intense they actually come very close to succeeding both physically and mentally. I thought that nothing ever stopped the Justice League. They always come through when they are together.

This was a good feature with its superhero action with a touch of nostalgia by bringing back the Legion of Doom headquarters. Can you believe that it was still in the swamp and in good condition since the old Super Friends animated series?