Showing posts with label DVD review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DVD review. Show all posts

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Review: "NEXT AVENGERS: Heroes of Tomorrow" - Average Story; Really Good Characters

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 68 of 2022 (No. 1880) by Leroy Douresseaux

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008) – video/animation
Running time:  78 minutes (1 hour, 28 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some mild language
DIRECTORS:  Jay Oliva and Gary Hartle
WRITERS:  Christopher Yost; from a screen story by Greg Johnson and Craig Kyle (based on the Marvel Comics characters)
PRODUCER:  Gary Hartle
EDITOR: George P. Rizkallah
COMPOSER: Guy Michaelmore
ANIMATION STUDIO:  The Answerstudio Col, Ltd.


Starring:  (voices) Noah Crawford, Brenna O'Brien, Aidan Drummond, Dempsey Pappion, Adrian Petriw, Tom Kane, Shawn Macdonald, Ken Kramer, Nicole Oliver, Michael Adamthwaite, and Fred Tatasciore

“Marvel Animated Features” was a line of eight direct-to-DVD animated superhero films made by MLG Productions.  MLG was a joint venture between Marvel Animation (then called Marvel Studios) and Lions Gate Entertainment to produce direct-to-DVD animated films for the home entertainment market.  The first film in the series was Ultimate Avengers: The Movie, which was released to DVD in February 2006.

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow is a 2008 straight-to-video animated superhero film directed by Jay Oliva and Gary Hartle.  It was the fifth entry in the “Marvel Animated Features” line.  The film is based on the classic Marvel Comics franchise, the Avengers, which debuted in 1963 and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  Next Avengers focuses on the children of the Avengers as they hone their powers and face the enemy that was responsible for their parents' demise.

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow is set on a world in which its mightiest superheroes:  Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Giant Man, Wasp, Black Panther, Hawkeye, and Vision came together to protect Earth from its greatest threats.  They were “The Avengers.”  But one day, the Avengers fell before the might of the maniacal, mechanical foe, Ultron (Tom Kane), a robot.

Before they were defeated, the Avengers sent billionaire bachelor Tony Stark (Tom Kane) into hiding their children.  Twelve years later, at a hidden location, the son of Steve Rogers/Captain America, James Rogers (Noah Crawford); the daughter of Thor, Torunn (Brenna O'Brien); the son of Black Panther, Azari (Dempsey Pappion); and the son of Giant Man and the Wasp, Pym (Aidan Drummond); train under the tutelage of Tony.  The children, however, are growing restless, and their curiosity causes them to do something that brings them to Ultron's attention.

With their new ally, Hawkeye/Francis Baron (Adrian Petriw), the son of the original Hawkeye, these children of the Avengers will take on their parents' greatest adversary.  But will the children fall before this robot menace as their parents did?

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow is an entertaining superhero action-fantasy.  The action is engaging, and the plot is good, although it is not as well executed as it could be.  The resolution undersells the potential of the characters, as if the main purpose of this movie is just to quickly as possible wrap up the story even if it wastes the potential of both the children and the story.

The animation is good, not great.  The character design, especially the children, looks good and recalls the work of animation legends such as Bruce Timm and Don Bluth.  Not all the character are well designed; for instance, the Hulk (Fred Tatasciore) looks awful.  The environments are well designed, especially Ultron's city, “Ultra City.”

The best things about Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow are the children, the “Next Avengers.”  They are especially well written and their personalities, doubts, struggles, conflicts, desires, and goals all seem genuine.  James Rogers' desire to know his father, Captain America, and Torunn's prayerful pleas for the return of her father, Thor, are powerful and poignant.  Azari's cautiousness belies the fierce fighting spirit that dwells within him, and Pym's playful nature provides good comic relief.  Hawkeye is brave and bold and witty; he could carry his own film.  Obviously, the voice actors sell the dimensions of the character drama, and like the young characters, the actors keep Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow from being mediocre.

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow isn't great, but the children of the Avengers are great characters.  Thus, it is a shame that this animated film is, after 14 years (as of this writing), the only film in which they appear.  I recommend that fans of animated superhero films and television series that feature Marvel Comics characters try Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow.

6 of 10
★★★ out of 4 stars

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The text is copyright © 2022 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Review: "SCOOBY-DOO! Return to Zombie Island" Revisits Scooby-Doo History

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 62 of 2022 (No. 1874) by Leroy Douresseaux

Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island (2019) – Video
Running time:  77 minutes (1 hour, 17 minutes)
Rated TV-G
DIRECTORS:  Cecilia Aranovich Hamilton and Ethan Spaulding
WRITER: Jeremy Adams
PRODUCERS:  Amy McKenna and and Rick Morales
EDITOR:  Robert Ehrenreich
COMPOSER:  Robert J. Kral
ANIMATION STUDIO:  Digital eMation


Starring:  (voices) Frank Welker, Matthew Lillard, Grey Griffin, Kate Micucci, Janell Cox, David Herman, John Michael Higgins, Dave B. Mitchell, Cassandra Peterson, Roger Rose, and Travis Willingham

Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island is a 2019 straight-to-video, animated, comic mystery film.  It is the thirty-third entry in the Scooby-Doo straight-to-video series from Warner Bros. Animation, and it is a direct sequel to 1998's Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, the first movie in this series.  In Return to Zombie Island, the retired Mystery Inc. gang visits a remote, but familiar island with a dark secret.

Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island opens a few months after the events depicted in Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost.  The members of Mystery Inc.: Fred Jones (Frank Welker), Daphne Blake (Grey Griffin), Velma Dinkley (Kate Micucci), Shaggy Rogers (Matthew Lillard), and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker), have retired, and Fred is still depressed about selling the Mystery Machine.

On her television show, legendary horror hostess, Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), announces that Shaggy has won a trip to a tropical island paradise.  Coincidentally, Shaggy is allowed to bring three friends and a dog along.  Because they are supposedly retired from mystery-solving, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo make Fred, Daphne, and Velma promise that they will not solve any more mysteries and will actually try to relax on this vacation.

As they sail on a ferry toward the island, Fred, Daphne, and Velma realize the surroundings are more swamp-like than tropical.  The ferry captain (Dave B. Mitchell) says that zombies inhabit the island, which reminds some of the gang of the last time, years ago, when they visited “Moonscar Island” a.k.a. “Zombie Island,” an island with zombies on it.

When they arrive on this supposed island paradise, two people greet them off the boat, but warn them to get out.  Also, once on the island, a mysterious dark cat creature stalks them.  Even the the hotel is coincidentally named “Moonstar Island Resort.”  Still, no matter how many times they run into something that reminds them of Zombie Island, Shaggy and Scooby make their friends stick to their promise not to try to solve mysteries.  But has that promise put them all in danger of suffering a fate from which they once only narrowly escaped?

Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island, like its predecessor, 1998's Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, has an strong premise, but clumsy execution delivers an inconsistent film.  Sometimes, the sequel is fun, fast-moving, and comically horrifying, in the tradition of Scooby-Doo TV series and films, but other times, Return to Zombie Island meanders, juggling multiple subplots.  One of those subplots pops up late in the film and involves a movie, “Zombie Teenagers and the Island of Doom.”  At this point, Return to Zombie Island loses credibility, although the film-within-a-film subplot introduces a fun character, the self-absorbed movie director, Alan Smithee, voiced by John Michael Higgins, who delivers a good performance.

Scooby-Doo! Return to Zombie Island is a children's movie, but adults who are fans of this straight-to-video series will want to watch it.  Like me, they may even find some enjoyment in it.

6 of 10
★★★ out of 4 stars

Tuesday, October 5, 2022

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



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Friday, December 3, 2021

Review: "SUPERMAN: Red Son" is an Entertaining Novelty Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 68 of 2021 (No. 1806) by Leroy Douresseaux

Superman: Red Son – video (2020)
Running time:  87 minutes (1 hour, 27 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violent content, bloody images, suggestive material, language, thematic elements and some smoking.
WRITERS:  J.M. DeMatteis (based on characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics)
PRODUCERS:  Sam Liu and Amy McKenna
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Sam Register and Bruce Timm
EDITOR:  Christopher D. Lozinski
COMPOSER:  Frederik Wiedmann  
ANIMATION STUDIO:  Digital eMation, Inc.


Starring:  (voices) Jason Isaacs, Amy Acker, Diedrich Bader, Vanessa Marshall, Phil Morris, Paul Williams, Greg Chun, Phil LeMarr, Jim Meskimen, Sasha Roiz, William Salyers, Roger Craig Smith, Jason Spisak, Tara Strong, Anna Vocino, Jim Ward, Travis Willingham, and Winter Ave Zoli

Superman: Red Son is a 2020 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation and director Sam Liu.  It is the thirty-seventh film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series.  The film is based on the 2003, four-issue, comic book miniseries, Superman: Red Son, written by Mark Millar and drawn by Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett.

The traditional origin of Superman is as follows.  A rocket ship from the doomed planet, Krypton, carries baby Kal-El to Earth.  It lands in the United States, specifically in a field near the town of Smallville, Kansas.  Jonathan and Martha Kent find the rocket and Kal-El inside.  They adopt him and name him “Clark Kent,” and Clark grows up to be Superman.  The premise of Superman: Red Son is that the rocket ship landed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) a.k.a. the Soviet Union.

Superman: Red Son opens in the Soviet Union during the year 1946.  There, we meet a young boy who is being chased by a gang of bullies.  The boy's friend, a young girl named Svetlana, defends him by chasing the bullies away.  The boy reveals to Svetlana that he was not scared of the boys, but that he was instead scared for their safety.  The boy then reveals to Svetlana his superhuman strength and his ability to fly.

In the year 1955, the Soviet Union releases a propaganda film of an alien superhuman under the command of the nation's premiere, Joseph Stalin.  The American media dubs the alien, the “Soviet Superman” (Jason Isaacs).  In the United States, President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Jim Meskimen) tasks genius scientist, industrialist, and inventor, Lex Luthor (Diedrich Bader), to develop countermeasures against this Soviet Superman.

After the Soviet Superman prevents a satellite from crashing into the American city of Metropolis, Luthor's wife, Lois Lane Luthor (Amy Acker), secures an interview with him.  Lois uses the interview to reveal to him a top secret document that indicates the horrors Premiere Stalin perpetuates against some citizens of the Soviet Union behind Superman's back.  This leads to changes in the nature of Superman's relationship with the Soviet Union and also with the world at large.  Now, a Cold War between Superman and the United States begins, with Lex guiding the U.S. side.  Can the world survive Superman's goals and Lex Luthor's machinations?

The novelty of Superman: Red Son is that it offers alternate-reality versions of not only Superman, Lex Luthor, and Lois Lane, but also of Batman, the Green Lantern Corps, and Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall).  However, the novelty soon wears off, and Superman: Red Son's gimmick grow old and cold rather quickly.

Luckily, Superman, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, and Wonder Woman are so well-written in terms of personality and character drama that I found myself fascinated by the inter-character relationships involving these four.  Beyond that, I was initially fascinated by the film, but felt less so after the first half hour.

I have never read Mark Millar's original comic book, Superman: Red Son, but I have been planning to for ages, although I keep putting it off.  I am a huge fan of the majority of Millar's comic book output.  Superman: Red Son has its moments, but after seeing it, now, I really need to read the comic book.

6 of 10

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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Sunday, October 3, 2021

Review: Strong Women Flow Through "WONDER WOMAN: Bloodlines"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 58 of 2021 (No. 1796) by Leroy Douresseaux

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines – video (2019)
Running time:  83 minutes (1 hour, 23 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of fantasy action and violence, and some bloody images
DIRECTORS:  Sam Liu and Justin Copeland
WRITER:  Mairghread Scott (based on characters appearing in DC Comics)
PRODUCERS: Amy McKenna and Sam Liu
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Sam Register and James Tucker
EDITOR:  Frederik Wiedmann
COMPOSERS:  Christopher D. Lozinski
ANIMATION STUDIO:  Digital eMation, Inc.


Starring:  (voices)  Rosario Dawson, Jeffrey Donovan, Marie Avgeropoulos, Kimberly Brooks, Michael Dorn, Mozhan MarnĂ², Adrienne C. Moore, Cree Summer, Courtenay Taylor, Nia Vardalos, Ray Chase, and Constance Zimmer

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is a 2019 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation and directors Sam Liu and Justin Copeland.  The film features classic DC Comics character, Wonder Woman, and is the 36th film in the “DC Universe Animated Original Movies” line.

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines opens several years in the past before the main story begins.  United States military pilot, Captain Steven “Steve” Trevor (Jeffery Donovan), is engaged in an aerial battle with Parademons.  He crash lands his fighter jet near Themyscira, the island home of the warrior race, the AmazonsPrincess Diana (Rosario Dawson), daughter of the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta (Cree Summer), rescues Trevor.  After he is healed, Trevor is taken prisoner because no men are allowed on Themyscira.  However, Diana sees Trevor's arrival as a sign that she needs to leave the island because it is her duty to protect man's world from a great evil she believes is coming.  This decision causes Hippolyta to disown her daughter.

In Washington D.C., Diana finds a place to stay in the home of geologist Julia Kapatelis (Nia Vardalos) and her daughter Vanessa (Marie Avgeropoulos).  Julia's hobby is the study of Amazons, so she is happy to have Diana live with them.  Vanessa, who already has issues with her mother, however, begins to resent Diana's presence in the home.

Five years later, in the present, Diana is the superhero, Wonder Woman.  Julia asks her help in finding Vanessa, who has stolen an artifact from Julia's employer, Veronica Cale (Constance Zimmer), of Cale Pharmaceuticals.  Vanessa has apparently fallen in with a cabal of villains lead by Dr. Cyber ( Mozhan MarnĂ²) and Doctor Poison (Courtenay Taylor) and become part of their diabolical plot.  Now, Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor, and his friend, intelligence officer Etta Candy (Adrienne C. Moore), race to stop Cyber and Poison, but can Wonder Woman save Vanessa Kapatelis?

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is standard DC Universe animated fare in terms of fights scenes, action, and animation.  In that, the film is entertaining enough.  Where it stands out is that writer Mairghread Scott offers a story that delves deeply into mother-daughter relationships – from love and war to rebellion and reconciliation.  At the point in which I finally realized that the strife between Julia Kapatelis and her daughter, Vanessa, mirrored the discord between Diana and Hippolyta, I suddenly became interested in a film that was, for the most part, boring me.

I also like the fact that the film is almost entirely driven by female leads and female supporting characters, with Etta Candy being most appealing to me.  Adrienne C. Moore delivers a standout voice performance as Etta, and I hope that Moore gets to reprise her performance if Etta appears in another DC Universe animated film.

Steve Trevor is good not great, which I can also say about Jeffrey Donovan's performance as Trevor.  On the other hand, Michael Dorn, best known as “Worf” on the the former television series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” makes the most of his small role as Ferdinand the Minotaur.

I heartily recommend Wonder Woman: Bloodlines to fans of Wonder Woman.  While it is not a great film, I think fans of animated films based on DC Comics characters will also like this.

7 of 10

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Friday, September 17, 2021

Review: "BATMAN: Hush" Film is as Mediocre as Its Source Material

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 55 of 2021 (No. 1793) by Leroy Douresseaux

Batman: Hush – video (2019)
Running time:  82 minutes (1 hour, 22 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence and action, suggestive material, and language
DIRECTOR:  Justin Copeland
WRITER:  Ernie Altbacker (based on characters appearing in DC Comics and on the story arc, “Batman: Hush”, by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee)
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Sam Register and James Tucker and Benjamin Melniker & Michael Uslan
EDITOR:  Christopher D. Lozinski
COMPOSER:  Frederik Wiedmann  


Starring:  (voices) Jason O'Mara, Jennifer Morrison, Sean Maher, James Garrett, Bruce Thomas, Geoffrey Arend, Stuart Allan, Sachie Alessio, Chris Cox, Adam Gifford, Peyton R. List, Peyton List, Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Jason Spisak, Maury Sterling, Hynden Walch, Tara Strong, Vanessa Williams, and Rainn Wilson

Batman: Hush is a 2019 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation and director Justin Copeland.  It is the thirty-fifth film in the “DC Universe Animated Original Movies” series.  It is also a loose adaptation of the Batman story arc, “Batman: Hush” (Batman #608-619; cover dated: October 2002 to September 2003), written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Jim Lee.  Batman: Hush the movie focuses on a mysterious villain intent on sabotaging Batman by using the Dark Knight's worst adversaries and some of his friends against him.

Batman: Hush opens with Batman (Jason O'Mara) rescuing an abducted child that the villain, Bane (Adam Gifford), was holding for ransom.  Shortly afterwards, Catwoman (Jennifer Morrison) steals the ransom.  While Batman is pursuing her, a masked vigilante shoots at him, severing the Bat-rope Batman was using to swing through the city.  Batman falls onto the sidewalk and cracks his skull.

Batgirl (Peyton R. List) takes Batman back to the Batcave where his butler, Alfred Pennyworth (James Garrett), and, his former ward and sidekick, Dick Grayson/Nightwing (Sean Maher), create an alibi that not Batman, but his secret identity, Bruce Wayne, suffered the injury.  Alfred contacts Bruce's childhood friend, Dr. Thomas Elliot (Maury Sterling), a renowned brain surgeon, to provide Bruce's medical care.

Back on his feet, Batman discovers that his conflict with Bane and Catwoman was just part of an elaborate scheme perpetrated against him by a mysterious villain known only as “Hush.”  It seems that Hush is willing to use every major figure in Batman's “rogues gallery” to bring the Bat down.  Hush seemingly even knows the people close to Bruce Wayne and is using them.  Further complicating Batman's investigation of Hush is the growing relationship between Bruce Wayne and Catwoman's alter-ego, Selina Kyle.

I have only read the Batman story line, “Batman: Hush,” once, and that was during its original publication.  I found it to be longer than it needed to be.  I am not really a fan of writer Jeph Loeb, although he has written some comic books that I have thoroughly enjoyed.  As a story, “Hush” felt like something Loeb padded with a bunch of appearances by all-star DC Comics characters.  As beautiful as Jim Lee's art for Hush was and still is, some of it came across as cold, as if it were drawn in a manner to make it attractive to collectors of comic book original art.  But at least I found “Hush” the comic book story to be enjoyable most of the time.

Batman: Hush the film is mostly dull.  The chase between Batman and Catwoman and the subsequent Catwoman-Batgirl fight are exciting.  The big battle at the end of the film is good, except when it seems to run too long – of course.  Catwoman is well-written in this film, and I like the way Alfred Pennyworth and Dick Grayson/Nightwing are presented in Batman: Hush.

The character designs are mostly good, except Batman, who looks awkwardly drawn in this film.  The animation is mediocre, except for a few action scenes when it looks like the people involved in this production suddenly felt energized.  I will only recommend this film to fans of the “DC Universe Animated Original Movies” line.  People who mostly know Batman from the modern Batman live-action films will likely not find much to like in Batman: Hush.

5 of 10

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Review: "THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN" Saved by Superman vs. Doomsday

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 47 of 2021 (No. 1785) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Death of Superman – video (2018)
Running time:  81 minutes (1 hour, 21 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of violence and action including some bloody images.
DIRECTORS:  Sam Liu and Jake Castorena
WRITER:  Peter Tomasi (based on characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics)
PRODUCERS:  Sam Liu and Amy McKenna
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Sam Register and James Tucker
EDITOR:  Christopher D. Lozinski
COMPOSER:  Frederik Wiedmann  


Starring:  (voices) Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Nathan Fillion, Christopher Gorham, Matt Lanter, Shemar Moore, Nyambi Nyambi, Jason O'Mara, Jonathan Adams, Rocky Carroll, Trevor Devall, Paul Eiding, Jennifer Hale, Charles Halford, Erica, Luttrell, Max Mittelman, and Toks Olagundoye

The Death of Superman is a 2018 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation and directors Sam Lui and Jake Castorena.  It is the thirty-second film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series.  The movie takes its story from “Doomsday!” (also known as “The Death of Superman”), a story arc that ran in various DC Comics titles in late 1992.  In The Death of Superman movie, Superman battling a seemingly insurmountable foe.

The Death of Superman finds Superman (Jerry O'Connell) at the height of his popularity as a superhero in Metropolis and around the world.  However, Superman has some brewing domestic issues in his civilian life as Clark Kent (Jerry O'Connell).  Clark is dating Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn), a fellow reporter at The Daily Planet.  Clark's parents, Ma and Pa Kent (Jennifer Hale and Paul Eiding), are visiting, and they will finally meet Lois, but that only forces Clark to face the fact that he has not told Lois that he is Superman.

Elsewhere, without warning, a meteor has crashed on Earth causing trouble above in Earth orbit and below in the ocean depths.  Emerging from the meteor is a gray-skinned, white-haired monster with incredible strength, stamina, and invulnerability.  Also, its skeleton protrudes through its skin in the form of multiple razor-sharp spurs.

The creature, whom Lois dubs “Doomsday,” quickly dispatches the Justice League.  Doomsday beats Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson), Batman (Jason O'Mara), Aquaman (Matt Lanter), Cyborg (Shemar Moore), Flash (Christopher Gorham), Green Lantern (Nathan Fillion), Hawkman, and Martian Manhunter (Nyambi Nyambi) nearly to death.  Now, only Superman stands before the creature, but to defeat him, Superman may lose his own life.

The Death of Superman is not the first time that the “Doomsday”/“The Death of Superman” story line has been adapted into a direct-to-DVD animated film.  The first was 2007's Superman: Doomsday, which I did not care for all that much.  Concerning this newer film, I don't like the graphic design of the characters, who all appear to have anemic faces.  In fact, their heads are all face – odd, angular faces.  I find them a little jarring to look at, but the animation moves smoothly.

I thought the first half of 2018's The Death of Superman was dull, but the second half is a blast to watch.  Doomsday's fights with the other members of the Justice League are filled with bone-crushing blows and near-death intensity.  The Superman vs. Doomsday battle is so powerful that calling it “epic” does not completely describe the insane violence displayed in this literally to-the-death fight.

The character drama between Clark and Lois is also well-developed, and the depiction of the edginess in their relationship keeps the first half of the movie from being a total loss.  This film also includes a strong version of Lex Luthor (Rainn Wilson), one that could have taken over this film.  Ultimately, I am giving The Death of Superman a high recommendation because of the Superman-Doomsday battle.  This fight is like an animated equivalent of a battle one might find in a Disney/Marvel Studios' Avengers films.

7 of 10

Saturday, April 24, 2021

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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Thursday, May 20, 2021

Review: "PAUL MOONEY: Know Your History - Jesus is Black and So is Cleopatra"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 59 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Paul Mooney: Know Your History – Jesus is Black and so is Cleopatra (2007) – video
Running time:  83 minutes (1 hour, 23 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Bart Phillips
WRITER:  Paul Mooney
PRODUCERS:  Shane Mooney and Malik Levy, Adrian Z. Sosebee, and Shawn Ullman
EDITOR:  Donnie Leapheart

CONCERT - Comedy

Starring:  Paul Mooney

Paul Mooney (August 4, 1941 – May 19, 2021) was an African-American comedian, writer, social critic, and actor.  Mooney was best known for his association with legendary comedian Richard Pryor, writing for and with Pryor.  Later, Mooney gained fame for his appearances on comedian Dave Chappelle's television sketch comedy series, “Chappelle's Show.”

Mooney was a comedian who seemingly loved controversy.  After all, he was also the creator of the character, “Homey the Clown,” for the early 1990’s TV sketch comedy series, “In Living Color.”  Mooney returned to the small screen with the DVD release of his stand-up comedy film, Paul Mooney: Know Your History – Jesus is Black and So is Cleopatra.  Mooney took center stage at Hollywood’s Laugh Factory for a stand-up comedy performance, which was recorded and became this film.

In Paul Mooney: Know Your History – Jesus is Black and So is Cleopatra, Mooney delivered his incendiary brand of comedy.  From the opening moments, he charged into his fiery subjects, which usually included racism, white people, racial tension, and, in this performance, the finer points of Black History.  He talked about divas, living in White America, President George W. Bush, Scientology, and various social and political topics.

Know Your History is edgier, darker, and perhaps a bit more mean-spirited than a previous Mooney DVD release, Paul Mooney: Analyzing White America (2004).  I am sure Analyzing White America was once known as Paul Mooney Live, and it was much funnier than Know Your History...  Still, in this second film, Mooney discussed racism and racial issues in America like no one else, and did so with the passion and honesty that most mainstream American political and social commentators could never match.  For all his bluntness, Know Your History... still had me doubled over with laughter.  Know Your History... is funny, but white people, the politically correct, and the sensitive are warned.  Professor Mooney’s history lesson might burn your mind to a crisp.

The stand-up is interspersed with some documentary footage and also testimonials from a number of celebrities including David Alan Grier, Lori Petty, and Sandra Bernhard, whom Mooney once mentored.  In light of his recent passing (as of this writing), I recommend that you seek out Paul Mooney: Know Your History – Jesus is Black and So is Cleopatra, dear readers.  If you don't know him, Mooney, as sharp social critic, is worth discovering, and if you only know his TV work, here a chance to discover Mooney at his best.

7 of 10

Saturday, March 31, 2007 / Revised Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: "Underworld: Unrated Extended Cut" is For Hardcore Fans (Happy B'day, Kate Beckinsale)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 17 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Underworld (2003)
2 Disc Unrated Extended Cut – May 25, 2004
Running time: 134 minutes (2 hours,14 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Len Wiseman
WRITERS: Danny McBride; from a story by Kevin Grevioux and Danny McBride Len Wiseman
PRODUCERS: Tom Rosenburg, Gary Lucchesi, and Richard Wright
EDITOR: Martin Hunter


Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Bill Nighy, Erwin Leder, Sophia Myles, Robby Gee, Wentworth Miller, and Kevin Grevioux

In the 2003 film, Underworld, there has been a war between the Vampire and Lycan (Werewolf) clans for about 1000 years. The film focuses on Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a young vampire warrior known as a Death Dealer. The Death Dealers are the ones who hunt, track, and kill Lycans. During a hunt at the beginning of the film, she discovers two Lycans following a young American medical intern, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman). Michael is the key to the Lycan leader, Lucian’s (Michael Sheen), plot to unite the two warring species, but Selene discovers that Michael is also advertently a link to a centuries-old conspiracy between Lucian and the Vampire’s current leader, Kraven (Shane Brolly). As the web of conspiracy broadens, Selene must use her resourcefulness and martial skills to save her clan and Michael.

Underworld (2 Disc Unrated Extended Cut) contains 12 minutes of extra footage, which amounts to more backstory on Michael Corvin and the Lycans, a new battle scene at the end, and a subplot involving the sexy and catty, Erika (Sophia Myles). There is also 11 minutes of recut or “replacement footage.” According to Wiseman’s commentary, this is not a “director’s cut,” because he cut the 12 minutes in the original film for pacing, and as he says, you’ll hardly notice the difference, as I didn’t.

I liked the film the first time I saw it and I like it even more the second time. The movie is a blend of Blade, The Crow, and The Matrix. Conceptually, it borrows from the Blade franchise, but visually, it’s takes from The Crow and absolutely leans on and loots The Matrix. However, it is a superbly made bit of fluff that is divinely tasty eye candy. Although the concept and script are full of holes, it’s kind of like a gorgeous looking high-concept music video with much more story than music video normally have. By the way, “unrated” doesn’t mean we get to see skin from Ms. Beckinsale. This is a must-have for hardcore fans of the film, even if it means dumping the first DVD edition.

7 of 10

DVD includes a 48-page Underworld comic book and a 16-page production sketch booklet, which contains several storyboard-to-screen comparisons. Disc 1 contains the extended cut of the film with (1) director and cast (Ms. Beckinsale and Speedman) commentaries; (2) outtakes; (3) the American Movie Classic (AMC) television special “Fang vs. Fiction”; (4) two TV spots; (4) and previews of four (then) upcoming movies distributed by Sony Pictures. Disc 2 has several features including a music video by the band Finch (“Worms of the Earth”) and several looks at designing the look and sounds of the film.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vampire Knight Volume 1 DVD Offers Few Frills But Anime is Cool

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 70 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

VAMPIRE KNIGHT Volume 1 (2010)
• Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $19.97 US / $28.99 CAN • Available Now
DVD Release Date: July 20, 2010
Studio: VIZ Media
Format: Animated, Color, DVD, NTSC (Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1)
Number of discs: 1
Language: English and Subtitles: English
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Running time: 96 minutes; Rating: Not Rated

Contents: Vampire Knight anime – Episodes 1-4

The recent DVD release, Vampire Knight, Vol. 1, presents four episodes of the Japanese animated series, Vampire Knight. This is a cool take on the vampire similar to such Young Adult literature vampire delights as the Twilight and Vampire Kisses series.

Vampire Knight is a manga (Japanese comics) written by manga artist Matsuri Hino. It was first published in January 2005 in the Japanese comics magazine, LaLa, and the series continues as of this writing. Vampire Knight, which is a shojo manga (comics for teen girls), received an English publication in 2006 via Shojo Beat magazine, and VIZ Media currently releases collected volumes of the series every few months.

Vampire Knight is set at Cross Academy, a private boarding school. Cross Academy has two classes: the Day Class (the human students) and the Night Class (the vampire students). At twilight, the Day Class students return to their dorms and cross paths with the Night Class on its way to school. The Day Class doesn’t know the school’s dark secret that the Night Class students are vampires, but the Day Class girl students are madly in love with the boys of the Night Class

The story focuses on Yuki Cross, the adopted daughter of Headmaster Cross. She partners with Zero Kiryu, a human student who struggles with the vampire’s thirst, and the two are the Guardians of the school, patrolling the hallways and school grounds to protect the Day Class students from the vampires. Yuki and Zero form a kind of love triangle with Kaname Kuran, a pure blood vampire who is basically the unquestioned leader of the Night Class. The series follows various intrigues related to the conflict between human and vampire, and the story also delves into the pasts of the three leads.

Japan’s Studio Deen adapted Vampire Knight into anime (Japanese animation), and the series debuted on Japanese television in the April 2008. The recent DVD release, Vampire Knight, Vol. 1 collects the first four episodes of Season One of the anime: #1 “Night of Vampires,” #2 “Memories of Blood,” #3 “The Fang of Penitence,” and #4 “Trigger of Condemnation.”

These episodes introduce the plot, setting, characters, and mythology of Vampire Knight in such an easy and friendly way. It will not be long into the first episode that the viewer will believe that she is well on her way to knowing and then loving these characters. The series favors the Night Class over the Day Class, which seems to exist to praise and worship the Night Class. The vampires are beautiful, sexy, and sassy; their air of confidence is infectious. The Day Class cast is mostly dull.

The star, of course, is Yuki Cross. In a series like Vampire Knight, what is needed is a character that is probably more nosy than curious and also brave enough to go where others won’t go. That will make viewers want to follow her quest and investigations, and Yuki will have the viewers hanging onto her. The two male interests, Zero Kiryu and the vampire Kaname Kuran, are also quite good. Their aloof, cocky natures are attractive, and if it is possible for an animated character to have a screen presence, they have that.

The quality of the animation is good. It emphasizes style and stylishness over movement and features vivid colors, lush background details, and elegant sets. This look is perfect for the gothic moodiness and romantic melodrama that defines the look of Vampire Knight.

Vampire Knight, Vol. 1 will reveal some secrets, expose Zero’s affliction, and give viewers a shocking look at a kind of vampire that isn’t a sexy, laid back student. While aimed at young women, Vampire Knight is a surprisingly engaging melodrama and will please anyone interested in soap operas – with vampires.


EXTRAS: This is a no frills DVD without any extras, although viewers are offered the option of watching episodes in Japanese with English subtitles or dubbed versions with voice actors providing English dialogue.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review: "The Dead Sleep" is a Ghost Story

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 51 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Dead Sleep (2010) - DVD
Running time: 94 minutes (1 hour, 34 minutes)
MPAA - not rated
DIRECTOR: Vicki de Mey
WRITER: James A. McLean
PRODUCERS: Vicki de Mey and Tim O’Neill
EDITOR: Jay Boekelheide
COMPOSER: Ryan Leach

FANTASY/DRAMA/MYSTERY with elements of crime and horror

Starring: Chris Armstrong, Sarah Foret, Rob Fente, Tatiana Armstrong, Joshua Close, Jacintha Charles, and Mark Oliviera

The Dead Sleep is an independent, straight-to-video supernatural drama released on DVD sometime this past February. Part twisty ghost story and part mystical crime caper, The Dead Sleep focuses on a dead man breaking all the post-death rules to save his daughter.

Paul Wells (Chris Armstrong) lives a quiet suburban life with his wife, Claire (Tatiana Armstrong), and his teenage daughter, Melanie (Sarah Foret). An accountant, Paul even thinks that his crime against the company for which he works has gone unnoticed, until his coworker and buddy, Del Craine (Rob Fente) informs him otherwise. Now, Paul has to make things right with his new boss, Tim (Joshua Close).

That’s a lot going on for a man whose body has been in the grave for five years. Now, Paul wanders the largely silent boundary between life and death, trying to figure a way to save his daughter from a fate similar to his own. As he witnesses the consequences of his transgressions, Paul realizes that he may have to die all over again to save his family.

The Dead Sleep has some similarities to the work of screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, specifically Ghost and Jacob’s Ladder. However, Paul Wells is not the kind of unreliable, dead lead character of films like Jacob’s Ladder, Marc Forster’s Stay (2005) or The Sixth Sense. Director Vicki de Mey and screenwriter James A. McLean seem determined to play it fairly straight in spite of the script’s shifts in time and down-the-rabbit-hole moments. The Dead Sleep, regardless of it supernatural and fantastical elements, is ultimately a story about a man and his dedication to his family.

As a low-budget, independent, fantasy flick, The Dead Sleep could have been a disaster because of poor special effects, but with a little imagination, some clever blocking, and savvy location shooting, this film presents a surprisingly quiet and unspectacular, but unsettling ghost world. Add in a few shimmering “collectors,” and the film has the requisite boogeyman that keeps the audience on edge because they never know when a monster will jump out from around a corner.

At times, The Dead Sleep seems like a semi-professional production. The story is too slow in developing and the pacing is not smooth. The acting is uneven, and the lead, Chris Armstrong, and supporting actor, Rob Fente, give performances that are often awkward, although sometimes surprisingly affecting. What ultimately elevates this movie is that the story, which sells the idea that Paul Wells is indeed dedicated to doing anything to save his daughter, Melanie. In their scenes together, we can believe that Melanie is precious to Paul and that he is his daughter’s hero.

In spite of its inherent flaws, The Dead Sleep proves that a ghost story doesn’t have to go bump in the night to get at a viewer’s heart.

5 of 10

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Friday, March 26, 2010

DVD Review: Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 16 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo (2010) - Video
DIRECTOR: Spike Brandt
WRITERS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, and Misty Lee; from a story by Alan Burnett (based upon the characters created by (Joseph Barbera and William Hanna)
EDITOR: Jhoanne Reyes


Starring: (voices) Frank Welker, Matthew Lillard, Grey DeLisle, Mindy Cohn, Dave Attell, Danica McKellar, Dee Bradley Baker, Olivia Hack, Diane Delano, John Di Maggio, Brian Posehn, James Patrick Stewart, Crystal Scales, and Jeffrey Tambor

Beginning in 1998 with Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, Warner Bros. started releasing direct-to-video animated movies based on the Scooby-Doo Saturday morning cartoon series. There has been at least one per year (except for 2005, when there were two). The latest film, Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo, is the 14th in the series.

Fred Jones (Frank Welker), Daphne Blake (Grey DeLisle), Velma Dinkley (Mindy Cohn), Shaggy Rogers (Matthew Lillard) and, of course, Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) are the Mystery Inc. gang. After wrapping up their latest mystery, Velma gets a call from her mother asking her to check on her younger sister Madelyn (Danica McKellar). The gang heads Whirlen Merlin Magic Academy, where Madelyn has been studying stage magic. The school is run by acclaimed magician, Whirlen Merlin (James Patrick Stewart), who was a child prodigy at magic, with the help of his older brother, Marlon Merlin (Brian Posehn), a special effects whiz.

Whirlen Merlin Magic Academy is being terrorized by a giant griffin, which has been scaring all the students away. Smelling trouble and suspecting a conspiracy, the gang decides to investigate. Is the griffin the ghostly servant of the man who built the castle that now houses the academy? Or is the entire situation a plot to force Whirlen Merlin to sell the school? Suspects include Whirlen’s assistant, Crystal (Crystal Scales), housekeeper Alma Rumblebums (Diane Delano), Amos the Groundskeeper (John Di Maggio), and ice cream mogul, Calvin Curdles (Jeffrey Tambor), who wants to turn the castle into an ice cream parlor. The gang must deal with a banshee, a lion, and a spooky castle, but Shaggy has to deal with Madelyn, who has fallen in love with him.

Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo has a back-to-the-basics approach and theme that will endear it to longtime Scooby-Doo fans. The main characters are back to wearing their original 1969 outfits. The animation here is quite good, featuring excellent character movement and action; it is almost as good as what viewers will find in direct-to-DVD Disney animated features. The art direction is superb and the backgrounds are rich in detail and decoration, creating the perfect sets, environment, and atmosphere for this movie.

The storytelling is equally good. Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo offers an engaging, fun mystery that also harks back to the early years of the series. Scooby and company are back in form, and the supporting/guest characters are just about as good as the main players. The voice acting is good, but not great. Right now, I’m not quite buying Matthew Lillard as the voice of the animated Shaggy Rogers, although Lillard played Shaggy (well) in both live-action Scooby-Doo movies.

One of best things about this new movie is the giant griffin, a killer villain, the kind of cartoon monster that has traditionally made Scooby-Doo cartoons memorable. No Scooby-Doo fan, young or old, should miss Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo, and it is an excellent choice for introducing people to the world of Mystery Inc.

8 of 10

The Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo has three extras. Two are just commercials for other Scooby-Doo DVDs. One is a short feature about creating homemade puppets.

Buy Scooby Doo: Abracadabra-Doo

Friday, February 19, 2010

Review: "THX 1138 Director's Cut" is a New Look at Early George Lucas

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 188 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

THX 1138 – The George Lucas Director’s Cut (2004)
Originally released as THX 1138 (1971)
Running time: 88 minutes
MPAA – R for some sexuality/nudity (Director’s Cut)
WRITERS: Walter Murch and George Lucas; from a story by George Lucas (based upon his screenplay for the short film)
PRODUCERS: Lawrence Sturhahn
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Albert Kihn and David Meyers


Starring: Robert Duvall, Donald Pleasence, Don Pedro Colley, and Maggie McOmie

THX 1138 was filmmaker George Lucas’s first feature length film, and he based it upon a short film he made while in film school, THX 1138:4EB. The film is set in a 25th-century totalitarian state that has stripped mankind of any individuality. People are numbered drones who are encouraged to work hard, be safe, watch out for their fellow workers, and consume. The state religion is a kind of therapy in which pre-recorded voices push mantras about “the masses.” There is a government-enforced program that uses sedating drugs to control the populace. The state is always watching people through cameras and monitors, and when a citizen opens his medicine cabinet, a voice suggests which drugs he should take. To not take drugs earns a citizen immediate notice and is a serious crime.

When the title character, THX 1138 (Robert Duvall), stops taking the mind-numbing drugs, he irrevocably changes his life. He has sex with his mate (who is more like a platonic roommate), LUH 3417 (Maggie McOmie), and sexual intercourse is a felony. After LUH 3417 is impregnated by their intercourse, the couple is throne in prison, and THX, his mind clear now that he is drug free, looks to escape the system.

THX 1138 was originally released in 1971, but in September of 2004, THX 1138 – The George Lucas Director’s Cut was re-released theatrically in a small number of cities (reportedly 20), and that re-release is the subject of this review. While some may consider the film’s look and the way it delivers it themes to be dated, the film is actually timeless. Political states ostensibly exist to protect the populace, but they do so mostly by controlling some or all aspects of citizens’ lives. An ideal situation is that the state interferes as little as possible, if at all, but the truth of that matter is that many states grow more controlling as they grow older, or if some disaster, man made or natural, causes so much havoc and destruction, that the state has to take total control to bring things back to some state of normalcy.

Lucas makes all of this feel real; the drama is palatable, and the fear of retribution from the state is a threat even the audience can feel. The threat of punishment from authority and the portrayal of an omnipresent society in which privacy is almost nonexistence is chilling. The film’s lone flaw, a serious one, is that it seems alternately too dry and too cold. The ideas behind the story, the production values, and the atmosphere are dead on, but the execution is often flat. The almost symbolic ending precariously straddles the fence of being appropriate or clumsy. Still, for lovers of that sci-fi sub-genre, dystopian futures, this is a good bet.

6 of 10