Tuesday, June 9, 2015

ANI-MOVIES, Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts

The Dark Knight returns for another toy line plug, but this one is actually pretty decent. Meant to tie-in to the Batman Unlimited action figure line, this is the first of two made-for-video flicks dealing with a more technophile Caped Crusaders who calls in some other DC Universe heroes to fight a new animal-themed supervillain gang.

Set in a more futuristic Gotham City, Batman is breaking his Batman Beyond prototype suit which comes with a hang glider function as he encounters a robot wolf. Nightwing corners Cheetah(Wonder Woman's nemesis)breaking into a jewelry store followed by Killer Croc, but Flash shows up to help him out. On another side of town, Green Arrow runs across the cybernetic gorilla Silverback who is aided by Man-Bat(who is introduced in this universe for the first time). It turns out that all these mutanimals are actually working for the local tycoon, Oswald Cobblepot, who in this version of Batman hasn't come out of the supervillain closet yet as the Penguin, and all of them together call themselves the Animalitia. The heroes team up along with Red Robin(allegedly the third Robin, Tim Drake with a tuft of hair sticking out of the back of his hood)and pull their resources in capturing Man-Bat along with three of the Penguin's robot army to discover that Cobblepot plans to bring a gold-filled meteor crashing into Gotham so he can wipe out any high society creeps that ever snubbed him, plus to get the fortune in space gold from the meteor. Batman finds a temporary cure for Man-Bat who is really Kirk Langstrom, the robot animals' designer, and the Batman Family heads out with their reprogrammed robots to stop Penguin and his zoo crew.

The animation in this was a little above the previous DC Universe movie based on a toy line, JLA Adventures, but this one definitely caters more towards pushing the action figures with Batman's multiple outfits which look like their rejected ideas from all the action figures they made in the 90s. There is some good nods to the regular DC continuity, like Man-Bat's design being similar to his original animated intro, plus Flash's obvious identity being Wally West from Justice League and Young Justice as he and Nightwing become "hero bros". The voice actors chosen are the biggest surprise with Roger Craig Smith from Arkham Origins again as Batman, Will Friedle formally Batman Beyond as Nightwing, Richard Epcar who played Joker in Injustice is Commissioner Gordon, Yuri "Ben 10" Lowenthal is Red Robin, and Dana "Master Shake" Snyder is pretty good as Penguin. Definitely give this one a spin if you want to show a decent Batman flick you don't have to worry about your kids seeing.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

ANI-MOVIES, *Macross: Do You Remember Love

As one of the first movie adaptations of an existing anime TV series, this was intended as a remake of the original Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, which in America comprised the first story arc of Robotech. It's one of the few anime movies to be available directly on DVD and Blu-Ray from Japan, but it's English release was first done in the 80s on VHS through various bootleg companies of the mediocre British dub, sometimes under the title of Macross: The Movie, or an abbreviated version of the dub called Clash Of The Bionoids which was endlessly screened on syndicated and cable TV. The movie was directed by TV series creators Shoji Kawamori and Noboru Ishiguro, so it was handled with the upmost care of transitioning the plot of the anime show to the big screen.

The movie starts out sometime after the Macross has already left Earth after the gigantic alien humanoids known as the Zentradi have invaded, and they are now around Saturn with their enemies in pursuit. The Macross itself is a giant transformable space fortress with a thriving city inside, although whether this version of Macross was originally an alien ship that accidently picked up a town on Earth on it's maiden voyage like in the TV series is never explained. Ace jet-robot pilot Hikaru Ichijyo(Rick Hunter in Robotech)rescues the local idol singer Minmay after the Macross is attacked, and the two spend sometime sealed off from the rest of the ship, which results in a scandal. Hikaru's commanding officer Misa lays him a big reprimand, even though it's kinda obvious that there's some chemistry between the two. Afterwards, Minmay has Hikaru take him out on a flight in his mecha around Saturn's rings, but Misa along with flight commander Roy Fokker come after them, which results in all of them getting captured by the Zentradi. The aliens interrogate them to find out why the male and female humans live together and have this lost thing they refer to as "Protoculture". They get infiltrated by the Meltrandi, the female Zentrandi army, and Hikaru manages to escape with Misa, but Roy sacrifices himself, leaving Minmay behind. Hikaru and Misa make their way to what is left of Earth to which they find no survivors after the initial Zentradi invasion. They do find the remains of a lost city that rised from the ocean after the invasion, and discover that mankind came from the same race as the Zentradi. The Macross finally homes in on them at the lost city, and the Zentradi later show up to negotiate peace after learning more about their lost Protoculture from Minmay. Minmay is thrilled to see Hikaru again, but doesn't at first pick up on the relationship he's developed with Misa. The Meltrandi arrive to fight the combined Macross and Zentradi forces, but the main Zentradi fleet decides to just wipe out the humans and Meltandi in one sweep along with any of their own forces that get in the way. Misa in the meanwhile has translated an ancient Zentradi love song that she believes will shock all the quarreling sides into stopping the war, but Hikaru has to talk Minmay into doing it. After finally seeing the bigger picture, Minmay puts aside her personal feelings, and her song unifies the Mentradi, Macross, and Zentradi allied forces into taking down the Zentradi hierarchy. After an epic space battle, the new union set out to create a brave new world.

Do You Remember Love is considered to be the epic of anime brilliance at the time up until the Akira movie came out. The original anime mixed transforming robots, epic space opera, and one of the first anime love triangles. The movie carries the idea further with much sharper animation and drama, despite the fact that it could use a bit more of a solid origin. This was followed by a OVA music video special containing some new material titled Macross: Flash Back 2012. Some of the other Macross titles like Macross II, Macross 7, and Macross Plus are allegedly in the same continuity as the movie and not direct sequals to the TV series, but their standing the official timeline usually depends on the viewer as there are elements from the movie that never showed up in the series. Whether you've seen any of the other Macross or Robotech titles is slightly irrelevant to enjoying this movie though. It is an absolute must to witness the pure historical magic that the offers, and afterwards you will always remember love!