Comics Worth Reading » Animation Independent Opinions on Comics of All Kinds Mon, 23 Feb 2015 22:16:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts Original Animated Movie Aimed at Kids Fri, 13 Feb 2015 23:26:12 +0000 Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts cover
Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts

DC and Warner Bros. have apparently had enough success with their original animated movie line, of which the most recent release is Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, that they’ve put out 22 of them. However, these films are distinctly Not for Kids, since they’re rated PG-13 and feature amounts of violence (and more recently, sexual insinuations) that make that rating accurate.

Yet kids like DC superheroes, and so do their merchandising partners. JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, for example, is another original direct-to-DVD cartoon movie that was originally a Target exclusive because they wanted something more kid-friendly to sell next to their toy lines.

Now Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has announced that Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts will debut on May 12. It’s another all-new original animated movie, but it’s pitched as “for the entire family” and “specifically for our younger fans” and featuring “many iconic DC Comics characters”. To emphasize the kid-friendliness, the Blu-ray and DVD will include a Firebat figurine. No special features were mentioned beyond the on-pack toy. Here’s the plot description:

Another storm is brewing in Gotham, and it’s not only raining cats and dogs but evil Cyber Animals! When the city is plagued by a slew of bizarre crimes committed by an animal-inspired villain squad known as the Animilitia — comprised of Silverback, Cheetah, Killer Croc, and Man-Bat — Batman must swing into action to investigate. These animalistic villains bring new and exciting challenges for the hero of Gotham, and Batman must find a way to bring these criminal creatures to a halt! But could the Animilitia be working for powerful businessman Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a. The Penguin? How does The Penguin’s new invention of robotic Cyber Animals fit into the mix? In the end, it’ll [take?] the combined forces of Batman, Flash, Green Arrow, Nightwing, and Red Robin to combat these Animal Instincts.

And here’s the trailer:

Batman is cute, but the Penguin looks a lot like a mummy. And of course, all these cyber animals make for great toy opportunities.

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Young Justice: Invasion Mon, 02 Feb 2015 04:10:06 +0000 OK, everyone who told me, when I said I didn’t like Young Justice, that it got better, was right. Young Justice: Invasion, the renamed second and final season of the animated series, is much more watchable. In fact, I enjoyed it enough to watch the whole thing in one long day.

At the start of this season, we’ve jumped ahead in time five years, which means the characters aren’t so whiny and juvenile, a plus. The overarching theme is battling alien invaders. First, there are little, lizard-like aliens hiding in human-looking bodies (as in Men in Black). The Justice League and Young Justice split up to send a group to Rann to investigate the plot while other groups break up the encroachers’ secret headquarters on Earth.

As the season progresses, there are different attackers, from Mongul to various friends revealed to be enemies in disguise and vice versa. Soon enough this turns into a super-villain group vs the superhero group, with a revelation of a surprise twist related to what happened over the five-year gap (a phrase I can’t help typing, given my long-running time in Legion of Super-Heroes fandom).

Finally, there’s a group of aliens called the Reach that kidnaps humans to experiment on them. They also are attempting to infiltrate society from the inside, presenting themselves as allies. A particularly entertaining subplot to me was G. Godron Godfrey (Tim Curry, excellent casting) riling up anti-alien paranoia from his TV show with a greasy, insinuating, all-too-realistic tone. Using aliens allows for battle without ramifications to the kids, unlike fighting humans.

The Young Justice team, managed by Nightwing (voiced by Jesse McCartney), often splits up into Alpha, Beta, and Delta Squads, so we get different combinations of heroes. Key players (and their actors) are:

  • Blue Beetle (Eric Lopez)
  • Robin (Cameron Bowen)
  • Superboy (Nolan North)
  • Miss Martian (Danica McKellar)
  • Beast Boy (Logan Grove)
  • Bumblebee (Masasa Moyo)
  • La’gaan (aka Lagoon Boy, who has the Hulk-like ability to inflate himself into an imposing muscle-bound appearance) (Yuri Lowenthal)
  • Wonder Girl (Mae Whitman)
  • Batgirl (Alyson Stoner)
  • Wolf, a giant white dog who apparently joined in S1

It’s great to see more characters in the regular cast. I also liked seeing mention of the bigger Justice League as well, since that means glimpses of lots of favorites (including Rocket!). They’re led by Captain Atom, oddly. (I’ve never liked him.) Later on, there’s a spin-off group featuring Static and three reworked Super Friends (Tye/Apache Chief, Ed/El Dorado, and Asami/Samurai), which I found both amusing and surprisingly effective in a modern story.

But first, there’s an intriguing episode not really suited for a “children’s cartoon” in which former teammates try to help a burned-out Red Arrow (now a clone?) (Crispin Freeman) obsessed with finding the original Speedy. He fulfills the “really angry” character part that Superboy has since grown out of.

The show, because of more complex motivations like that, kept my interest much more than recent animated DC movies or the previous season did. I can see why it didn’t go over well, though, since it’s a fairly major change in direction to expand beyond the “boys 7-11″ target category. More significantly, it’s a pretty big challenge trying to do more substantial work for a company who probably looked at the expanded cast and thought “oooh, more toy options”.

A continuing focus on Blue Beetle allows for further exploration of the theme of aliens among us, since his powers and supersuit come from a scarab possessing him. Various revelations play out in future episodes, such as when Artemis (Stephanie Lemelin) returns. Young Justice: Invasion seems to have been conceived as a real series, with continuing ramifications, even as the episodes have their own stories. The alliances and motivations are much more pleasingly complex than I expected.

I loved the bit in episode 2 where Adam Strange (Michael Trucco) needs to distract some guards and does so by quoting Jabberwocky and other Lewis Carroll at them. As you might suspect, I also enjoyed the Impulse (Jason Marsden) episode (written by Peter David) because of how much the wisecracking speedster shakes things up.

The animation here looks very good, building a compelling world. Since the series was cancelled abruptly, there are a few minor loose ends left (and room for me to hope one particular revelation of the finale could be reversed), but nothing substantial or atypical of the genre.

The Blu-ray set has two discs for 20 episodes, 10 on each disc. The only options on the first disc are subtitles and an episode listing. Watching the subtitles shows that they weren’t done with the quality one might hope for, since Zatanna’s name isn’t spelled consistently or correctly the first two times it’s used. The second disc has commentaries for the series finale episodes “Summit” and “Endgame” by show creators Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti and voice actors Jason Spisak (Kid Flash) and Stephanie Lemelin (Artemis). They’re ok to listen to, if a bit self-congratulatory and lacking any new information.

There’s also a 16-minute “Behind the Scenes” featurette filmed halfway through season 1 teasing what’s coming up with the show joining the “DC Nation” programming block. It’s mostly Weisman talking, and I didn’t learn anything new from this either. (The studio provided a review copy.)

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Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Sun, 01 Feb 2015 23:48:47 +0000 Justice League: Throne of Atlantis cover
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

The latest original animated DC Universe direct-to-video movie is much like the others: mediocre animation, lots of fighting, and little to interest anyone looking for more than yet another superhero battle. I found it so tedious I couldn’t get all the way through it. But then, I’ve never been much of an Aquaman fan, due to the flavor of fantasy ruler he carries.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis tells the origin of Aquaman (voiced by Matt Lanter). Before he realizes he’s heir to the undersea kingdom, he’s a roughneck-looking dude who lives in a lighthouse, gets in a fight rescuing a lobster from being dinner, and doesn’t understand why knives break on his skin but doesn’t seem to care much about it either. Here’s a clip where Mera, Atlantean warrior (Sumalee Montano), saves him from an attack:

The Atlantean queen Atlanna (Sirena Irwin) wants to reclaim her son Arthur because “the only hope for peaceful existence with the surface dwellers is the one of both worlds”. Her other son Orm (Sam Witwer), who becomes Ocean Master, is too warlike. Much battle ensues when the Atlanteans attack the non-water world.

Aquaman battles Ocean Master in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

But before that, Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson), on a date with Superman (Jerry O’Connell), has to have the concept of a secret identity explained to her, and Lois Lane (Juliet Landau) shows up and gets all possessive of “Smallville”, as she calls him. (That love triangle is the movie *I* want to watch!) Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion) is an adolescent, wise-cracking, idiot skirt-chaser who can’t figure out why Batman (Jason O’Mara) might not want help (he’s got a longer-range secret plan). All these characterizations are two-dimensional shortcuts to things you’ve seen before. So are the plot events.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

The art design is rough, generic, static, and low-cost-looking. Simple designs are easier to farm out to countries where cartoons are cheaper to make, but they don’t make for attractive viewing. The voices are less distinctive than they used to be in these films, particularly Batman (who sounds like he’s trying too hard), except for the fun of hearing Nathan Filion as Green Lantern. You can hear Batman here, along with the Flash and the character they’ve renamed Shazam:

I can’t figure out why Warner Bros. keeps putting these films out. I guess they sell enough to make it worthwhile. I suspect these projects have found their audience and it’s not much different from the folks buying the comic books. That may be why the movies are coming to resemble their print inspirations more and more.

The extras are not particularly interesting. “Scoring Atlantis: The Sounds of the Deep” is a half-hour on the sound portrait. It’s an unusual choice for a superhero cartoon movie featurette, but not one I found particularly interesting. It ties into the option to run the entire film with only the background music, though. That replaces the usual commentary; this edition has none.

“Villains of the Deep” (11 minutes) is about Black Manta and Ocean Master, in which a professor talks about how Shakespearean it is to battle one’s brother for control of the throne. Excerpts from the Throne of Atlantis panel from the 2014 NY Comic-Con run about 27 minutes. I miss the in-depth explorations of the comic sources they used to do as extras, but filming writers and artists costs extra money. (And it might give them the idea that they’re valuable as creators!)

“Robin and Nightwing Bonus Sequence” is a four-minute short introduced by James Tucker, executive producer of DC DTV line of DVDs, about a 45-second cut sequence that helps connect the Batman and Justice League animated movie lines. Speaking of which, a ten-minute Batman vs. Robin sneak peek points out how it follows up from Son of Batman. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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Loopy de Loop: The Complete Collection Sun, 01 Feb 2015 22:26:06 +0000 Review by KC Carlson

An extremely rare piece of Hanna-Barbera history was recently released from the Warner Archive. Loopy de Loop is frequently described as Hanna-Barbera’s “lost” character. He was a relatively long-running character (debuting in 1959 and ending in 1965), but unlike popular HB characters Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, and The Flintstones — whose prime-time series ran approximately during the same time as Loopy’s run — you couldn’t see Loopy’s adventures on your television screen. Loopy de Loop cartoons were only shown in movie theaters, most likely only in front of Columbia Studios releases.

By then, most of the major studios had already halted their theatrically released cartoons — or, like Disney, were rapidly winding down their production of shorts. Warner Bros. was still making Looney Tunes in the early 1960s, and DePatie-Freling (spinning off from Warner Bros.) would have a hit series with the Pink Panther cartoons starting in 1964, but except for an odd release here and there, the once thriving studio-driven theatrical cartoons had all left the theater and moved to television by the end of the 1960s. Loopy de Loop largely got left behind… and forgotten.

“Fe Fi Fo Foop, I smell the blood of Loopy de Loop!”

Barely mentioned in most animation histories (and, oddly, almost not mentioned at all in most books specifically about Hanna-Barbera), Loopy de Loop is animation’s lost… er… wolf. Sure, the cartoons were supposedly syndicated in 1969 (a bare-bones, detail-free IMDb page exists as a placeholder), but I’ve never seen them on TV. In fact, I’ve seen more Wally Gator, Touché Turtle, and Lippy the Lion and Hardy-Har-Har (other “famous” HB obscurities) cartoons on TV than I have of Loopy.

The Loopy de Loop series was Hanna-Barbera’s only theatrical series release of a regular character in the company’s history. Of course, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were no strangers to theatrical cartoons, having being the creators and directors of the popular and long-running (and multi-Academy Award-winning) MGM Tom & Jerry series. And HB did further animated theatrical feature releases — most notably Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear in 1964 and A Man Called Flintstone in 1966.

“My name is Loopy de Loop. I am honest, friendly, and charming!”

His trademark self-introduction, “I am Loopy de Loop, the good wolf,” tells us a lot. Unlike most stereotypical fictional wolves, known to be bad, evil, sneaky, ferocious… (there’s even a really annoying song about big and bad wolves, produced by another animation company), Loopy is kind, friendly, helpful, and a self-appointed good Samaritan. Or, as it’s frequently quoted in the cartoons themselves, he’s “kind, considerate, and charming.” For that, he is rewarded by the very people he helps by being run out of town or beaten up — just because he’s a wolf. (Kinda like a lot of Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons, frankly.) His most prominent trait is his mangling of the English language in a very bad French-Canadian accent. Like most other Hanna-Barbera characters, he is naked (he’s a wolf after all…), except for a hat (a classic toque style, in this case), and something around his neck (here, an ascot).

There are a total of 48 Loopy de Loop cartoons on this two-disc DVD-R collection. That’s over five hours of Loopy de Loop cartoons. They are fun to watch in small doses, but I don’t recommend watching the entire set in one sitting!

Loopy mangling English: “You are making too much of the mischief!” “I le-goofed!”

Some of the things you will witness watching these cartoons include Red Riding Hood with a shotgun; Loopy thinking he is a dog after a visit to a psychiatrist; various ne’er-do-well wolves who do not like Loopy because he is nice; a walking egg with a shotgun; Loopy frequently being shot into space; Loopy attending a people party, where all the partygoers are apparently Peter Lorre, Ed Sullivan, Jimmy Durante, and Maurice Chevalier imitators; hipster wolves; elderly Musketeers; a horse that talks like Jimmy Durante; a huge tough-guy mouse; and a lot of John and Marsha references (a very popular Stan Freberg novelty single of the era). “Bear Hug” is a cartoon that I can’t even begin to describe. All my notes say are “weird-ass cartoon.” Perhaps I had been watching too long by then…

Quotes used as subheads in this article are actual quotes from the cartoons.

“With a mouse on my head, I guess there’s nothing to do but faint!”

Notable creators on the series include voice actors Daws Butler (who voices Loopy), Don Messick, Paul Frees, and Hal Smith. June Foray (Rocket J. Squirrel) and Jean Vander Pyl (Wilma Flintstone) provide practically all the female characters. Later in the series, both Janet Waldo (Judy Jetson) and Mel Blanc (do I have to tell you?) make cameo voice appearances, for all you completists out there.

The bulk of the cartoons are written by HB mainstays Warren Foster and Michael Maltese. The latter is best known for collaborating with Chuck Jones on some of Warner Brothers’ best (and favorite) cartoons, including Duck Dodgers, the Bugs/Daffy/Elmer hunting trilogy, “What’s Opera Doc?”, “Duck Amuck”, “Feed the Kitty”, “Bully for Bugs”, Robin Hood Daffy, and, of course, “One Froggy Evening”. His Loopy cartoons are the ones to watch for, as he does the most breaking of (or subverting) a lot of the series clichés. The overuse of fairy tale characters and too many “Loopy is a bad guy because he’s a wolf” misunderstandings are two major ones.

After Warner Brothers stopped producing new animation shorts, Maltese also had a very productive career at HB writing many of their classic early series, including The Quick Draw McGraw Show (featuring Snooper and Blabber and Augie Doggie and Doggy Daddy); Wacky Races; episodes of The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Top Cat; and one of my personal favorites, The Impossibles (rock stars who were also superheroes fought completely wacked-out villains). Sadly, The Quick Draw McGraw Show is still not available on home video. Hint, hint, Warner Archive!

One of the more interesting things about the Loopy de Loop series is that since it was produced as a handful of individual cartoons over a number of years (as opposed to the usual series method of getting an order for a season of 13 half-hour episodes, and having them produced by the same creative team all in a short period of time), is that the animation and design of the series fluctuates quite a bit from cartoon to cartoon — further making it a unique Hanna-Barbera series.

“Congratulations, Loopy! You’ve got what it takes to be shot to the moon by amateurs!”

Since this is presented by Warner Archive (under the “Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection” banner), it has not been restored to the extent that the more popular (and first released) HB series were, but the occasional cartoon with some scratches or uncorrected color is a small distraction when opposed to not having these officially available. I’m happy to see Warner Archive dipping more into the early 60s HB material, and I encourage them to do more and for you to purchase them. My personal wish list: Ruff and Ready, the aforementioned Quick Draw McGraw Show, Wally Gator, Touché Turtle, Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har-Har, Atom Ant, and Secret Squirrel. (The studio provided a review copy.)

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Batman vs. Robin Details Announced Fri, 23 Jan 2015 03:10:57 +0000 Batman vs. Robin box art

Batman vs. Robin, the next original DCU animated movie (after Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, out next week), has had details released. It will be available April 14 in either a Blu-ray combo pack (with DVD and UltraViolet versions) or standard DVD edition. There will also be a deluxe edition with the Blu-ray combo pack and a collectible Batman figurine included. Here are key elements from the press release:

The shadows of Gotham City are no place for a child but Damian Wayne is no ordinary child. Now bearing the mantle of Robin, he blazes a headstrong and sometimes reckless trail alongside his father, Batman. While investigating a crime scene, Robin encounters a mysterious figure, Talon, who leads him on a life-altering course through the depths of Gotham’s secret society, known as the Court of Owls. It’s a dangerous journey that will force Batman and Robin to face their most dangerous adversary, each other! Based on the #1 best-selling graphic novel, Batman: The Court of Owls [by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo], this action-packed caper is one that fans won’t want to miss!

Television stars Jason O’Mara and Stuart Allan reprise their roles as the voices of Batman/Bruce Wayne and Robin/Damian, respectively. Adding to the celebrity-laden voice cast is Jeremy Sisto as Talon, singer/songwriter/comedian Al Yankovic as The Dollmaker, David McCallum as Alfred, Grey Griffin as Samantha, Sean Maher as Nightwing, and Kevin Conroy as Thomas Wayne.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment, the film is directed by Jay Oliva (Batman: Assault on Arkham) from a script by award-winning comic writer J.M. DeMatteis.

The Blu-ray extras will include the following special features, in addition to the usual audio commentary and “bonus cartoons from the DC Comics vault”:

Gotham’s City Secret: The Mythic Court of Owls — The Court of Owls is the secret society that directly connects the past of Gotham to the current city. Are they silent guardians that are the noble benefactors or are they the malevolent force that manipulates a city toward their grand design?

Talons of the Owl — If the Owls are the masterminds, their instruments of destruction are their assassins. Appropriately called The Talons, these warriors are designed to carry out the will of the Owls.

A Sneak Peak at Justice League: Gods & Monsters — An advance look at the next DC Universe Original Movie with the creators and cast.

The Gods and Monsters sneak peek is the only extra also on the DVD.

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Big Hero 6 Out on DVD, Digital in February Sun, 18 Jan 2015 23:01:47 +0000 I’ve been meaning to see Big Hero 6 since it was released in November, but the holidays aren’t a great time for me to go see a movie. Instead, I was preparing for celebrations and spending time with family (and traveling). I know theater owners don’t want to hear this, but now that they’ve announced the film will be out on home video next month, I’ll just wait. Especially since I can (with Amazon discount) preorder the Blu-ray for the same amount I’d spend on tickets for two adults, and the snacks are much cheaper in my home theater.

I don’t mind buying the movie without seeing it first, since I’ve enjoyed the two previous releases from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph. Typical these days, the film will be available digitally on February 3, with the Blu-ray combo pack (or single-disc DVD) coming out on February 24.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the robot Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit), since I find him adorable and I’ve heard good things about his portrayal. I like the design being the opposite of the usual gears and hard angles style tech. I’m also curious to know more about the team — robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon, and fanboy Fred.

Baymax hugs Hiro from Big Hero 6

I’m disappointed to see that Disney has decided to split the extras between the Blu-ray and their Disney Movies Anywhere site. If I buy the Blu-ray, I expect it to be complete. Both sources will include these extras:

  • Theatrical short “Feast”
  • “The Origin Story of Big Hero 6: Hiro’s Journey” (hosted by Jamie Chung, voice of Go Go Tomago) — Join the team behind the team that brought Big Hero 6 to the big screen as they travel on research trips to Tokyo and San Francisco and go behind the scenes of this epic film. Explore everything comic-book about Big Hero 6, from director Don Hall’s passion for comics to the story’s roots in a lesser-known Marvel property. We’ll talk to Marvel’s Joe Quesada and Jeph Loeb, who were consultants on the film, to learn what makes a good comic-book story, and how these devices were used to help create Disney’s Big Hero 6.
  • “Big Animator 6: The Characters Behind the Characters” — Join the six lead animators of Big Hero 6 as they talk about each of the characters and how they came to be the heroes they are now.
  • Deleted Scenes (intro by Directors Don Hall & Chris Williams) — Includes two alternate openings and more.

Only on the Blu-ray will be “Big Hero Secrets (Easter Egg) — The movie is filled with Easter Eggs, and this Buzzfeed-type list piece will give you a sampling of some of the hidden treasures in the film. See if you can find this Easter Egg about Easter Eggs!” Here’s a sample clip:

Only on Disney Movies Anywhere will be these two pieces:

“Gag Animations (intro by Directors Don Hall & Chris Williams) — For fun, animators made alternate versions of scenes they were working on and threw them into the mix at review sessions. The directors will present some of these gags for the first time to the public in this piece.”

“Beatmax — Check out some of Baymax’s greatest lines auto-tuned like you’ve never heard before.”

The DVD will only have “Feast”, “Big Animator 6″, and the Big Hero 6 theatrical teaser.

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Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Clips Show It’s Not All Punching Sat, 10 Jan 2015 16:29:48 +0000 Justice League: Throne of Atlantis cover
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

Two clips have been released from the upcoming Justice League: Throne of Atlantis original animated movie, due out January 27.

The first one is the expected action scene, with Cyborg (Shemar Moore) interrogating a computer underwater. Since this movie is all about Aquaman (Matt Lanter, 90210), I expect lots of water scenes.

But the second one is of more interest to me, since it’s focused more on the characters, with Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion) trying to pick up a receptionist when he’s interrupted by the Flash (Christopher Gorham). The animation isn’t anything special, with the motions abbreviated to reduce work needed, but the interaction between the two heroes gives me hope for more to this movie than just the battle sequences.

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Disney Announces New Frozen Cartoon, “Frozen Fever” Tue, 23 Dec 2014 18:50:53 +0000 Frozen Elsa and Anna

Disney is putting out a live-action Cinderella movie, releasing in theaters March 13, 2015. Appearing before it will be “Frozen Fever“, a new animated short where “it’s Anna’s birthday, and Elsa and Kristoff are determined to give her the best celebration ever, but Elsa’s icy powers may put more than just the party at risk.” Olaf will also appear, and the cartoon will feature a new original song by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, the team who wrote the immortal “Let It Go”.

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Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Details Announced Mon, 08 Dec 2014 03:11:56 +0000 Justice League: Throne of Atlantis cover
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released more details on the next original DC universe animated movie. The 75-minute Justice League: Throne of Atlantis will be out January 27. It’s Aquaman’s origin story, as Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and the rest of the Justice League help him “prevent a war between the inhabitants of land and sea”. The Blu-ray Combo Pack (which includes a DVD and an UltraViolet copy) is list-priced at $24.98, with a DVD version for $19.98. The movie will be available earlier, on January 13, from digital retailers.

The voice cast is as follows:

* Aquaman – Matt Lanter
* Superman – Jerry O’Connell
* Batman – Jason O’Mara
* Wonder Woman – Rosario Dawson
* Flash – Christopher Gorham
* Green Lantern – Nathan Fillion
* Cyborg – Shemar Moore
* Shazam – Sean Astin
* Orm – Sam Witwer
* Mera – Sumalee Montano
* Queen Atlanna – Sirena Irwin
* Manta – Harry Lennix

Special Features on the Blu-ray will be:

* Scoring Atlantis: The Sound of the Deep – Every great film needs a great musical score. Filled with emotion, music takes us on a dynamic journey as we adventure with the hero. Throne of Atlantis takes us on that quest through the eyes of Arthur Curry.
* Robin and Nightwing Bonus Sequence – Producer James Tucker provides video commentary for this exciting bonus sequence where Robin and Nightwing join forces.
* Throne of Atlantis: 2014 New York Comic Con Panel – The entire, lively one-hour panel discussion between actor Matt Lanter, producer James Tucker, screenwriter Heath Corson, character designer Phil Bourassa, and dialogue director Andrea Romano.
* Villains of the Deep – From Ocean Master to Black Manta to King Shark, each villain operates from his own deep sense of conviction, presenting an incredible challenge for the hero in Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman. This documentary goes into the biographical details of the villains.
* A Sneak Peak at Batman vs. Robin – An advance look at the next DC Universe Original Movie with the creators and cast.
* Bonus cartoons from the DC Comics Vault

The DVD contains the Batman vs. Robin sneak peek and the bonus cartoons. Here’s the trailer:

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Bullwinkle Makes Me Laugh Wed, 26 Nov 2014 22:05:01 +0000 DreamWorksTV has put together a supercut of what they call “Bullwinkle’s Best Worst Puns”, but I’d just call them funny. His literalism amuses me, particularly the A-Bomb joke. Not sure today’s viewers are going to get the “baseball suits” gag these days, though.

Bullwinkle is voiced by Bill Scott, with Rocky played by June Foray.

If, like me, this makes you want to watch the show, the DVDs of the seasons are relatively cheap at Amazon, or you can watch Season 1 for free if you have Amazon Prime.

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Disney Fairies Get an Adventure Hero Branch Sun, 16 Nov 2014 23:50:28 +0000 You may be familiar with the Disney Fairies, the little-sister franchise to the Princesses that has a number of animated movies and a variety of merchandise available. The newest release, Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast, will be out March 3, 2015. I found it interesting for two reasons: the voice talent involved, and that they’re introducing a gang of more adventurous fairies, expanding the concept.


The film features the Scout Fairies, a fearless group who protect Pixie Hollow. They are “agile and athletic with a keen ability to spot trouble before it gets out of control.” The movie focuses on Nyx, voiced by Rosario Dawson, “a true professional who takes her job very seriously — maybe a little too seriously — allowing facts and logic to guide her every move. Driven to succeed, Nyx is often willing to let compassion take a back seat.”

Rosario Dawson as Scout Fairy Nyx

The film also features the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin (Fawn), Mae Whitman (Tinker Bell), Megan Hilty (Rosetta), Lucy Liu (Silvermist), Raven Symone (Iradessa), and Angelica Huston (QueenClarion). That’s quite the cast. The plot involves the NeverBeast, a mythical creature which I’m sure the fairies come in contact with. Fawn is an animal fairy who wants to help it, while the scout fairies want to capture it to prevent it damaging Pixie Hollow. Here’s the trailer:

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LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League Announced Thu, 13 Nov 2014 20:23:30 +0000 As a followup to the LEGO Batman movie, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has announced that LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League will be available on Blu-ray (list price $24.98), DVD ($19.98), and digital on February 10, 2015.

LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League

The purchase version of the movie will come with an exclusive Batzarro minifigure while supplies last. The direct-to-home-video movie is described as “action-packed and hilarious”, and I have to admit, based on the trailer below, the alternate Justice League versions are pretty funny, if broadly drawn. The plot is described as

Batman has joined the newly formed Justice League in order to keep tabs on Superman, a mistrust that is complicated by Superman’s clumsy — but well-meaning — clone, Bizarro. Bizarro’s creation of the Bizarro League has caused confusion amongst the world’s greatest Super Heroes, but an even greater and mysterious threat may force the Justice League and Bizarro League to band together to defeat evil.

Lego Justice League vs. Bizarro League

The special features on this release include the TV special Lego DC Comics: Batman: Be-Leaguered, a featurette on Bizarro, and bloopers. Here’s the trailer, featuring Greenzarro and Bizarra, among others:

(Surprised, in a kids’ movie, to see Green Lantern Guy Gardner refer to a frightened character as “such a pussycat”, since it seems to be a really obvious placeholder for something else, but I suppose that’s a skill in writing for all ages — hide the stuff only adults will get.)

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Penguins of Madagascar Support Veterans Wed, 12 Nov 2014 12:33:34 +0000 I know it’s just to promote their upcoming movie, due out November 26, but DreamWorks put together this video in which the Penguins of Madagascar learn about veterans with the aid of First Lady Michelle Obama. I found it good-hearted, and she does a surprisingly good job acting with a cartoon character.

It’s in support of Got Your 6, an organization that

“believes that veterans are leaders, team builders, and problem solvers who have the unique potential to strengthen communities across the country.

As a coalition, Got Your 6 works to integrate these perspectives into popular culture, engage veterans and civilians together to foster understanding, and empower veterans to lead in their communities.

Through entertainment industry partners, Got Your 6 works to normalize the depictions of veterans on film and television to dispel common myths about the veteran population. Through nonprofit and government partners, Got Your 6 ensures successful veteran reintegration and empowers veterans to lead here at home. Together, Got Your 6 and its partners are shifting public perceptions so that veterans’ leadership and skills are recognized and utilized at home to strengthen communities.”

So, basically, well-intentioned propaganda to counter the perspective of veterans as crazy, outsiders, or walking problems that movies have portrayed for so long. Given how few people actually know someone in the military, though (in contrast to previous eras where service was more widespread), it’s a good idea.

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Upcoming DC Animated Movies Now Available for Pre-Order Sun, 09 Nov 2014 13:22:56 +0000 As announced this summer, there are three original animated DCU movies planned for 2015. All can now be pre-ordered at Amazon.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis cover
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

Due out January 27, telling Aquaman’s origin

Batman vs. Robin cover
Batman vs. Robin

Involves the Court of Owls

Justice League: Gods & Monsters cover
Justice League: Gods & Monsters

Due later in the year

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The Complete Death Note Anime DVD Set Sat, 08 Nov 2014 01:33:40 +0000 Viz Media has announced that Death Note: The Complete Series, a ten-DVD collection, will be available on November 18.

The anime series consists of 37 episodes with a list price of $44.82 US. The set will have a choice of English or Japanese audio or English subtitles. Bonus features include creator interview, behind-the-scenes footage of the Japanese voice cast, and an art gallery.

The animated series is based on the manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. It’s the story of a high school student who gets a notebook from a shinigami (death god); any name written in this notebook means that person will die. He decides to kill those he thinks are evil, while a freaky genius tries to find out who’s behind these supernatural murders. The entire series is available as a manga box set.

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Remastered Sailor Moon Comes to Blu-ray Mon, 03 Nov 2014 13:32:21 +0000 Out next week on November 11 is the first box set of the remastered Sailor Moon. It’s uncut, uncensored, and on Blu-ray for the first time with a new English dub and new English subtitles. Season 1, Set 1 has the first 23 episodes.

Sailor Moon Limited Edition box set

The Limited Edition Combo Pack contains six discs, 3 DVDs and 3 Blu-rays, and an 88-page art booklet with character profiles, episode guides, and song lyrics in a “shimmery holofoil accented chipboard box”. There’s a lengthy unboxing video if you want to see all the details. It shows that the LE box has space reserved for Set 2, coming in February.

Sailor Moon is the 14-year-old Usagi, who transforms from schoolgirl to “guardian of love and justice” with a magical brooch from talking cat Luna. She and the other Sailor Guardians fight evil Queen Beryl. Here’s the trailer for the set:

The Limited Edition has a list price of $79.98 US, and there’s also a DVD edition for $44.82 US. The Limited Edition has extras not available on the basic DVD version, including an art gallery and behind-the-scenes footage of the English dub actors. Series trailers, a ‘signs and songs’ subtitle track, and convention panel footage are available in both formats.

The Sailor Moon anime series is based on the manga by Naoko Takeuchi. It’s available in the US from Kodansha.

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Lego Batman Gets His Own TV Special Sat, 25 Oct 2014 18:57:43 +0000 After a breakout performance in The Lego Movie (and his own earlier film), Lego Batman is getting his own TV special.

Lego DC Comics: Batman: Be-Leaguered

Lego DC Comics: Batman: Be-Leaguered will air on Cartoon Network on Monday, October 27 at 6 PM Eastern/5 PM Central.

Based on this clip, Batman is his usual solo grumpy self, even when Superman wants him to join the Justice League.

It’s being promoted as “a funny, lighthearted tale new to the DC Comics universe”, which we can certainly use more of. Here’s the full description:

Batman prides himself on being a loner, a totally self-sufficient one-man band. He is understandably irritated when his nightly cleanup of Gotham City villains is interrupted by Superman, who pesters Batman to join his new Super Hero team, the Justice League. After Batman makes it quite clear to the Man of Steel that his invitation has been declined, Superman flies off disappointed… whereupon he is overcome with a STRANGE ENERGY and VANISHES!

With Earth’s mightiest super-being missing, it’s time for the World’s Greatest Detective to spring into action. With no time to lose and the entire planet to search, Batman enlists the aid of the fastest man alive, The Flash. Together their high-speed search leads them to the villainous Captain Cold, who is stealing an ancient artifact in Egypt. After the Flash has likewise vanished at the end of their battle with evil, Batman teams up with Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg to fight famous costumed super-villains before vanishing one-by-one at the hand of a mysterious enemy. It now falls to the Dark Knight, who alone must free the newly- formed Justice League from a powerful foe. But can Batman learn the value of being a team player before the Justice League is lost forever?

I’ll be watching!

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Young Justice: Invasion on Blu-ray Available for Pre-Order Sat, 25 Oct 2014 17:33:04 +0000 The second season of Young Justice will be available on Blu-ray via the Warner Archive on November 18. You can pre-order the collection of 20 episodes now at that link.

Young Justice: Invasion

Unlike most Warner Archive releases, this one will also have new bonus features. The series finale episodes “Summit” and “Endgame” will feature a commentary by creators Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti and voice actors Jason Spisak (Kid Flash) and Stephanie Lemelin (Artemis). There’s also a “Behind the Scenes” featurette.

Young Justice: Invasion, the second season, jumps five years into the future. Robin has become Nightwing, and new team members include Wonder Girl, Blue Beetle, Batgirl, Bumblebee, and Beast Boy. As the copy has it, “an alien presence has infiltrated Earth, while certain members of the Justice League are forced to stand trial at the criminal hearing off-world. Watch as The Reach, spearheaded by the quick-talking Ambassador and backed by the muscle of Black Beetle, manipulates a trusting public while maintaining its shadowy maneuvering with The Light.” Here’s a clip:

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Eternals: A Marvel Knights Animation Motion Comic Sat, 25 Oct 2014 14:40:46 +0000 I was surprised when Eternals arrived, since I didn’t remember a comic by Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. about a race of super-powered Jack Kirby creations hiding as humans recapturing their memories and powers. (Turns out it was a limited series that ran from 2006-2007.)

This Marvel Knights Animation production consists of ten episodes, each ranging from 10 to 13 minutes. There’s minimal animation — figures moved against a background, lips and eyes opening and closing — an approach I found appropriate. As expected, there’s a lot of conversation. In a Gaiman comic, you want to keep a lot of the text, right? The discussions also establish the characters, helpful for the unfamiliar viewer (which I suspect most will be).

The story opens with the identification figure of Mark Curry, an intern studying to be a doctor. A mysterious being shows up and tells him there’s more to his life that he doesn’t remember. He spins a story of the Celestials, giant beings who caused humanity to advance and created the super-powered Eternals. They also created the Deviants, a race of monsters.

My favorite exchange takes place during this introduction, when the demigod asks, “What would you say if I told you that you were an immortal, indestructible being put here by aliens to preserve and safeguard the earth?” Mark responds, “I guess I’d say, ‘please leave me alone.'”

Iron Man appears in one of the several story threads. Beyond Mark’s tale, there’s a woman named Circe (uh oh) wanting to be a party planner; a woman from Tony Stark’s company building a weapon; a kid celebrity named Sprite; a reality show featuring young people with powers; and the demand to register superheroes with the government. Not much is done with the TV show piece, so I’m not sure why it’s there, and I’m guessing the registration part dates this to a loose tie-in with the Civil War crossover event.

I was disappointed by the look of the female warrior. I found, in this tale of normal people with lives changed by exceptional beings, the design of the usual busty superhero woman out of place. That’s a rare feeling for me, since I’ve read so many superhero comics I can usually overlook it. I suspect it was the contrast with the deeper characterization than is usual in this kind of story.

That kept me interested, until all this mythology became a relatively standard “bad guys vs people who have to step up to their chance to be heroes” story. Since I wasn’t previously familiar with the comic, I got invested in the twists and turns of the cast, although by the end, this turned into gaudily costumed mostly men arguing with each other. Still, one of the better Marvel motion comic offerings, I thought, and watchable for those looking for cosmic superhero stories.

There’s a 10-minute extra called “Looking Back With John Romita Jr.”, where he talks about the Kirby influence. There are a good number of clips from the episodes we’ve presumably just seen included, which makes it feel a bit light in new content. The sticker on the front of the package promotes

Best-Selling Author Neil Gaiman And Superstar Artist John Romita Jr. Team Up For The Extraordinary Tale of Eternals And A Brand-New Retrospective!

That suggests that Gaiman also participates in the new content, which isn’t true, so beware the false advertising if you’re a fan. Here’s the trailer for the release.

(The studio provided a review copy.)

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View Monsters University Cartoon “Party Central” by Joining Disney Movies Anywhere Sat, 25 Oct 2014 14:00:54 +0000 The new Monsters University cartoon “Party Central” was originally supposed to run with The Good Dinosaur, a Pixar movie moved to November 2015. The MU short ran instead with Muppets Most Wanted. (Strangely, the short got a PG rating, when the two Monsters movies are G.)

Now, to drive more signups for its Disney Movies Anywhere service, Disney has made the full short available to those who download their iPad/iPhone app. Here’s a trailer:

My favorite gag: the code names “Beachball” and “Throw Rug”.

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