Friday, January 31, 2014

ANI-MOVIES, *JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time

In an attempt to get younger viewers into becoming interested in the idea of a full-on Justice League live-action movie, but not willing to shell out for a new TV series, DC Comics decided instead to do a short made-for-video movie done in the style of the old Challenge Of The Superfriends show. This is an video currently exclusive to Target stores, but more than likely might find its way to being a 2-episode pilot for an ongoing new animated series.

Not acting as a continuation of any of the previous DC Universe animated movies or TV shows, we find the Justice League of America stopping the Legion of Doom from once again taking over the world, this time by over-freezing the polar icecaps. Lex Luthor though gets frozen alive in the arctic and left for dead by the League and the Legion. Cut ahead about a thousand years later to the time to a museum in the future where Legion of Super-Heroes trainees Karate Kid(no relation to Ralph Macchio)and Dawnstar come across the frozen block with Luthor in it that was found a century or so. Karate Kid accidently lets Luthor out, and Lex liberates the time-manipulating villain Time Trapper from his mystical hourglass which takes him back modern day, followed by the two Legionnaires. Kid and Dawnstar head to the Hall of Justice to tell the JLA about Luthor's plans to alter the past, but are unsuccessful in stopping the Legion of Doom from going back and making it so Superman was sent back out into space as a baby and never raised by the Kents. This means that there's no JLA either, although since Superman never came to Earth, it should mean that Luthor never lost his hair and Bizarro was never created, but it appears to be one of those "selective" paradoxes. The remaining Karate Kid and Dawnstar realize that they can stop Luthor from ever being alive in the future in the first place by freeing him from the ice in the present. This causes Time Trapper to erase the Luthor from the future thus restoring the timeline, even though this should mean that the two Legionnaires would be sent back to the future or having never come back to the past in the first place, but fortunately they're still around to help the restored JLA along with Superman to send the Time Trapper packing back into his hourglass. Upon returning to the future, Karate Kid and Dawnstar discover that Lex Luthor has been heralded as history's greatest hero and not Superman, so they decide to return back to the past to help the JLA.

This 53-minute long movie ends on an obvious "to be continued..." type of conclusion, which means that DC really has something more in mind for this particular animation line. Possibly a continuation as a new TV series on DC Nation since they only have one show on there at this time. The voice acting was fair with Deidrich Bader returning as Batman, and Jason Spisak upgrading from Kid Flash in Young Justice to here as The Flash. The JLA lineup once actually has Robin in it which has never happened in any other version of the League(Superfriends not withstanding), plus none of the Green Lanterns were present meaning there was probably a licensing issue involved. It worth picking up at Target or online at Amazon, although you might want to wait and see if this is going to blossom into a full ongoing series.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

ANI-MOVIES, *ParaNorman

Laika, the creators of Coraline, released this visually pleasing successor that pays real homage to 70s horror movies. This stop-motion animated film pulls in some surprisingly fantastic 3-D effects, and not like some other films that were probably just converted to 3-D instead.

Norman is a clairvoyant young boy in a small mountain town in Massachusetts who can see and hear the spirits of the dead. His family ignore this, and his ability to talk to the dead doesn't make the butt of everyone's jokes at school. However, his ridiculed uncle who can also see the dead warns him that the town will come under a witch's curse from three hundred years ago where those who sentenced her to death will rise from the grave. Norman talks his only friend in school, the resident fat kid Neil, plus Norman's agonizing sister Courtney, and Neil's jock older brother Mitch, and the school bully Alvin who frequently torments Norman into helping him stop this zombie uprising. After trying to use a storybook his now deceased uncle warned him about to try and coax the spirit of the witch back to rest again. This fails though, and the undead rise on their small town, although the zombies are just a few number with ability to turn others into zombies, and the rest of the townsfolk react with hilarious circumstances. Norman soon realizes that the witch that caused this was really an innocent young girl from centuries ago who was sentenced to death because she to could speak to the dead. Norman manages to convince the ghost into seeking her eternal rest and not going for revenge. She concedes, and Norman is then praised by the town, and is accepted by his family for his "gift" too.

I was very impressed with the dark tones this movie was willing to take, and how social acceptance can shape a community, even in a small town. The animation is even more groundbreaking than what was done in Coraline by bringing the story into a larger setting with more characters to add to the mix and a larger plot. A great yarn for the whole family, especially at Halloween.

Friday, January 3, 2014

MISC. MANGA, *The Clockwork Girl

This all-ages mini-series is very attuned to the theme of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Tesla is an earnest robotic girl created by the seemingly mad scientist Wilhelm, who is trying to learn about the world around her. She befriends Huxley, a mutant creation of Wilhelm’s rival scientist Dendrus. Tesla is somewhat alive thanks to a special “heart” Wilhelm made for her, but she has to deal with her father’s feud with Dendrus which threatens to tear apart her friendship with Huxley.

The comic is now available as a hardcover graphic novel. It’s an enchanting story that is currently being adapted into a full-length computer animated movie.