Showing posts with label Warner Home Video. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Warner Home Video. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Review: "SCOOBY-DOO and the Witch's Ghost" is Kind of Witchy

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 48 of 2023 (No. 1937) by Leroy Douresseaux

Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost (1999) – Video
Running time:  66 minutes (1 hour, 6 minutes)
Unrated
DIRECTOR:  Jim Stenstrum
WRITERS:  Rick Copp, David A. Goodman, Davis Doi, and Glenn Leopold
PRODUCER: Cos Anzilotti
EDITOR:  Rob DeSales
COMPOSER:  Louis Febre
ANIMATION STUDIO:  Mook Animation

ANIMATION/FANTASY/FAMILY and ACTION/COMEDY/MYSTERY

Starring:  (voices) Frank Welker, Scott Innes, Mary Kay Bergman, B.J. Ward, Tim Curry, Kimberly Brooks, Jennifer Hale, Jane Wiedlin, Bob Joles, Tress MacNeille, Peter Reneday, and Neil Ross

Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost is a 1999 straight-to-video, animated horror-comedy film that was directed by Jim Stenstrum and produced by Hanna-Barbera Cartoons.  It was the second film in the Scooby-Doo straight-to-video film series that began with 1998's Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.  It was released on VHS on October 5, 1999, then on DVD on March 6, 2001.  In the film, Scooby and the company get involved with a famous horror novelist and his ancestor who was rumored to be a witch.

Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost opens with Mystery Incorporated: Fred Jones (Frank Welker), Daphne Blake (Mary Kay Bergman), Velma Dinkley (B.J. Ward), Shaggy Rogers (Scott Innes), and Scooby-Doo (Scott Innes) solving a case at a San Francisco museum.  There, they meet the famous horror novelist, Ben Ravencroft (Tim Curry).  Velma Dinkley is a huge fan of Ravencroft, so he invites her and the rest of the gang to his hometown of Oakhaven, Massachusetts.

Upon arrival, Ravencroft and Mystery Inc. discover that the town's Mayor Corey (Neil Ross) has transformed Oakhaven into a tourist trap.  The town is even putting on a concert featuring an all-female gothic rock band, the Hex Girls: Thorn (Jennifer Hale), Dusk (Jane Wiedlin), and Luna (Kimberly Brooks).

Oakhaven is like an amusement park with a theme based on the ghost of Sarah Ravencroft (Tress MacNeille), who is an ancestor of Ben Ravencroft.  Ben describes Sara as a “wiccan” who used herbal remedies to heal the poor and less fortunate.  In 1657, the townspeople of Oakhaven believed that Sarah was a witch, and they persecuted and executed her.  Ben has spent years searching for Sarah's medical journal, which he believes will help him prove her innocence.

But now, the ghost of Sarah Ravencroft is really back, and she wants revenge.  Scooby, Shaggy, and the gang are about to discover that this mystery turns out to have plenty of twists and turns.

Like a number of the early straight-to-video Scooby-Doo movies, Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost has a tone that is darker than the franchise's usual fare.  In this film, the supernatural elements are “real” as compared to the usual fake supernatural shenanigans committed by the adversaries in Mystery Inc.'s cases.  Still, I was surprised that the film takes such a benevolent attitude about the modern pagan, earth-centered religion, “Wicca.”  The film's story goes to some lengths to separate Wicca from “witchcraft,” which is generally seen as the use of magic for nefarious purposes.

Beyond that, Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost is a standard Scooby-Doo film.  I find the “ghost of Sarah Ravencroft” to be less impressive than the “fake ghost witches” of earlier Scooby-Doo cartoons, such as “The Witch” in the “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” episode, “Which Witch is Which?”  I can say that the film does have a nice twist involving Sarah Ravencroft that does darken the film's tone a bit more.

However, as a Scooby-Doo fan, I consider almost all Scooby-Doo productions to be must-see.  And while, it isn't special, Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost is entertaining.  And the Hex Girls are quite nice.

6 of 10
B
★★★ out of 4 stars

Tuesday, October 31, 2023


The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Thursday, February 24, 2022

Review: "JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: Apokolips War" - As Endings Go, This One is Good

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 8 of 2022 (No. 1820) by Leroy Douresseaux

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War – video (2020)
Running time:  90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes)
MPAA – R for bloody violence, language, and some sexual references
DIRECTORS:  Matt Peters and Christina Sotter
WRITERS:  Ernie Altbacker and Mairghread Scott; from a story by Mairghread Scott (based on characters appearing in DC Comics)
PRODUCER:  Amy McKenna
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Sam Register and James Tucker
EDITOR:  Christopher D. Lozinski
COMPOSER:  Frederik Wiedmann
ANIMATION STUDIO:  Tiger Animation

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/ACTION/FANTASY

Starring:  (voices) Matt Ryan, Camilla Luddington, Taissa Farmiga, Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Rosario Dawson, Jason O'Mara, Stuart Allen, Hynden Walch, Rainn Wilson, Liam McIntyre, Ray Chase, John DiMaggio, Roger Cross, Shemar Moore, Christopher Gorham, and Tony Todd

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is a 2020 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation.  It is the thirty-eighth film in Warner Home Video's line of “DC Universe Animated Original Movies.”  This film features the marquee DC Comics superhero teams:  Justice League, Teen Titans, and Suicide Squad.  The title of the movie references the supernatural-leaning version of the Justice League, the “Justice League Dark.”  In Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, the Earth's remaining superheroes engage in an epic battle to save what is left of Earth from Darkseid.

As Justice League Dark: Apokolips War opens, Superman (Jerry O'Connell) has devised a plan in which the Justice League will lead a first-strike attack on the all-powerful New God, Darkseid (Tony Todd), who has made two failed attempts at conquering Earth.  The plan is also for the Teen Titans to stay behind and protect the planet.  Unfortunately for the heroes of Earth, Darkseid has learned of their plans and overwhelms them with his “Paradooms,” a genetic hybrid creature made from combination of Darkseid's Parademons and Doomsday, the alien creature that once “killed” Superman.

Two years later, Earth is in ruins, and Darkseid has placed three devices, known as “Reapers,” on Earth to mine the planet's core of its magma.  Some superheroes, such as Cyborg (Shemar Moore), Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson), and Batman (Jason O'Mara), are now Darkseid's slaves.  Many of the surviving heroes blame Clark Kent/Superman for leading them into failure, and worse, Superman has been forcibly de-powered after Darkseid tattooed his chest with liquid kryptonite.  Still, the Man of Steel has not given up on saving Earth.

Supeman and Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn) have hatched a new plan to stop Darkseid.  Clark recruits the remaining Teen Titans, Damian Wayne/Robin (Stuart Allen) and Raven (Taissa Farmiga), who is struggling to maintain her father, Trigon's (John DiMaggio) imprisonment.  But everything may hinge on the troublesome con man and sorcerer, John Constantine (Matt Ryan).

Within the “DC Universe Animated Original Movies,” there is the “DC Animated Movie Universe.”  The line began in 2013 with the straight-to-video release of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and is comprised of 15 feature length films.  The point of the “DC Animated Movie Universe” was to make animated films that were loosely based on “The New 52.”  Started in 2011, “The New 52” was the publishing initiative in which DC Comics relaunched its entire line of superhero comic books.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is the last film in the “DC Animated Movie Universe.”  That factoid is second in importance to the fact that Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is a really good DC Comics animated film.  The film probably uses the “Justice League Dark” title rather than simply “Justice League” because of the tone of the story and because, in many ways, John Constantine, the star of 2017's Justice League Dark animated film, is the lynch pin of Apokolips War.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War takes the viewers in some inventive and intriguing directions in regards to characters, relationships, and mythologies.  The film offers a surprising amount of emotionally fulfilling character drama and arcs, including the usual Lois Lane and Clark Kent relationship.  However, John Constantine and Zatanna (Camilla Luddington) offer a poignant pairing, but the most surprising is the romance between Damian Wayne and Raven.  They're good enough to be the stars of their own animated film.

The surprising turns and compelling directions in which this film travels are matched by some high quality animation, a strong script, and some surprisingly lean and mean directing.  Such a large cast and so many subplots could have dragged on Apokolips War.  Instead, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is an exciting and riveting film, and it is a great way to end one universe in the DC Comics multiverse.

8 of 10
A

Wednesday, August 18, 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, December 12, 2021

Review: "THE CANNONBALL RUN" Can Still Run

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 70 of 2021 (No. 1808) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Cannonball Run (1981)
Running time:  95 minutes (1 hour, 35 minutes)
MPAA – PG
DIRECTOR:  Hal Needham
WRITER:  Brock Yates
PRODUCER:  Albert S. Ruddy
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Michael Butler (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Donn Cambern and William D. Gordean

COMEDY/ACTION/SPORTS

Starring:  Burt Reynolds, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jack Elam, Adrienne Barbeau, Tara Buckman, Terry Bradshaw, Jackie Chan, Bert Convy, Jamie Farr, Peter Fonda, George Furth, and Michael Hui

[I am working my way through the films that I first saw in a movie theater for which I have not previously written a movie review.  The first time I saw a movie in an in-door theater (as opposed to a drive-in cinema) was in 1980 – likely The Empire Strikes Back.  However, I am starting this process in the year 1981, and it turns out that there are only two movies left from that year that I saw in a theater for I which I have never written a formal review.  The Cannonball Run is one of them.]

The Cannonball Run is a 1981 action-comedy and car-racing film from director Hal Needham.  The film was produced by the Hong Kong film company, Golden Harvest, and distributed by 20th Century Fox.  The movie's plot was based on the 1979 running of an actual cross-country, outlaw road race, the “Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash,” which was also known as the “Cannonball Run.”

The film features an all-star ensemble cast, led by Burt Reynolds and featuring Dom DeLuise, Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr., to name a few.  It was also the second Hollywood film appearance for Hong Kong martial arts legend and international movie star, Jackie Chan.  The Cannonball Run movie focuses on an illegal cross-country race and its oddball contenders who will use every dirty-trick-in-the-book to evade the law and to screw over their opponents.

The Cannonball Run opens in Connecticut were several teams of racers have gathered for the latest running of the illegal, cross-country road race, the “Cannonball Run.”  The goal of the racers, who are called “Cannonballers,” is to reach Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California.  Some of them hope to break the Cannonball's speed race record of 32 hours and 51 minutes.

The race teams that have gathered in Connecticut are an odd lot.  The most eccentric is the team of JJ McClure (Burt Reynolds), a famous racing driver and team owner, and Victor Prinzi (Dom DeLuise), his chief mechanic and co-driver.  There racing vehicle is a “Transcon Medi-Vac” ambulance outfitted with a NASCAR engine.  In order to convince any law enforcement officers that might stop them that they are a real ambulance and medical team, McClure and Prinzi draft a wacky physician, Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing (Jack Elam), into their plans.  For a patient, they kidnap a beautiful young woman, a tree-loving photographer named Pamela Glover (Farrah Fawcett).

Their competitors are right behind them and are almost as weird.  Scotch-swilling Jamie Blake (Dean Martin), an F1 racing icon, and his gambling-obsessed teammate, Morris Fenderbaum (Sammy Davis Jr.), dress as Catholic priests, and drive a red FerrariJill (Tara Buckman) and Marcie (Adrienne Barbeau) are two attractive women who use their good looks and impressive cleavage against traffic officers while driving a black Lamborghini.  Two Asian racers (Jackie Chan and Michael Hui) race in a high-tech, computer-laden Subaru hatchbackSeymour Goldfarb, Jr. (Roger Moore), the heir to the “Goldfarb Girdles fortune,” identifies himself as the actor Roger Moore, and he even drives a silver Aston Martin DB5.

Chasing after these teams and determined to stop the race because of its effects on the environment is Mr. Arthur J. Foyt (George Furth), an agent of the federal government's “Safety Enforcement Unit.”  But can Mr. Foyt really stop all the racers, or will their dirty tricks stop each other?

I know why 15-year-old Leroy loved The Cannonball Run when he saw it in a theater in 1981 (the Vista Village Twin Cinema).  He liked the fast cars, the cool-looking cars, the pretty White women with big boobs, and he was a fan of the actors and celebrities who appeared in the film, such as Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett, Mel Tillis, and Terry Bradshaw, to name a few.  I was and still am a huge fan of the NFL team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and legendary Steelers quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, was and still is my favorite NFL player, even though he is now a fat, old White man who supports Donald Trump.

But why did AARP Leroy, who recently watched The Cannonball Run again for the first time in 40 years (via Netflix's DVD.com), still find himself loving the movie?  Maybe, it is because I like speedy, high-end, foreign sports cars.  Maybe, it's because I still like amble breasts on White women.  Maybe, it is because I still like many members of the film's cast, and I certainly appreciate Adrienne Barbeau, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin more than I did back then.  And maybe, it is because now I appreciate the way actor Alfie Wise and former NFL defensive lineman, Joe Klecko, who both appeared in The Cannonball Run, once looked in tight jeans.

I also noticed that some of the larger profile stars in this film are best known for what they did in the 1970s.  Some continued to be star actors into the 1980s and beyond, such as Burt Reynolds.  Others, like Terry Bradshaw, found new careers.  Bradshaw has acted and appeared in numerous films and television shows, and he has had a four-decade career in sports broadcast that has earned him three Sports Emmy Awards, and he is still do that as of this writing.

Maybe, part of my enjoyment of this film is nostalgia.  I am a fan of at least ten performers who appeared in The Cannonball Run and who are now deceased, including Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise.

That aside, the film is genuinely funny, at least I think so.  It has a simple plot – win the race, trick the police, and lie-cheat-steal your opponents.  The setting is also simple, the highway and byways of the United States.  Sadly, because the film has a short-running time, it can only provide a cursory glance at the many unique places across the USA through which the Cannonballers have to travel.  Honestly, I think this concept would make for a good television series, at least a miniseries.

The characters are actually interesting.  Most of the actors are playing themselves or are playing character types, like Jack Elam's goony Dr. Van Helsing.  I'm pretty sure that Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. were each playing a character they played many times before this film, both on television and in film.  Farrah Fawcett's whispery-voiced Pamela Glover is a mostly pointless character, but Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman make better use of their “sex appeal.”

In the case of Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise, their playing to type was and still is fine with me.  Reynolds smile and his wit shine through in The Cannonball Run, which is by no means one of his better performances.  Reynolds popularity lasted so long because he was a true movie star.  As for DeLuise, if you liked what he usually did, well, he gave all of himself here.  I have always found him likable, even when the material was not top notch, which it is not here.

I think what really sold The Cannonball Run, both to teenage me and to old me, is that everyone in this movie seems to be genuinely having fun.  Back in 1981, those good feelings crossed over to the audience; The Cannonball Run was one of the year's biggest box office hits.  In a way, those good feelings have crossed over through time to me, and I found myself really enjoying this movie all over again.

7 of 10
B+

Saturday, December 11, 2021


The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for 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.
DIRECTOR:  Sam Liu
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.

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/ACTION/FANTASY

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
B

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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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Review: "Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold" Deserves an Encore

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 67 of 2021 (No. 1805) by Leroy Douresseaux

Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2018) – Video
Running time:  75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Jake Castorena
WRITERS: Paul Giacoppo; from a story by James Tucker (based on characters from Hanna-Barbera and characters from DC)
PRODUCER: Michael Jelenic
EXECUTIVE PRODUCES: Sam Register and Benjamin Melniker & Michael E. Uslan
EDITORS:  Christopher D. Lozinski and Molly Yahr
COMPOSERS:  Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, and Lolita Ritmanis
ANIMATION STUDIO:  Digital eMation, Inc.

ANIMATION/FANTASY/SUPERHERO/FAMILY and ACTION/COMEDY/MYSTERY

Starring:  (voices) Frank Welker, Matthew Lillard, Grey Griffin, Kate Micucci, Diedrich Bader, Jeff Bennett, Jeffrey Combs, John DiMaggio, Nicholas Guest, John Michael Higgins, Kevin Michael Richardson, Fred Tatasciore, Nika Futterman, and Tara Strong

Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a 2018 straight-to-video, animated, comic mystery film.  It is the 30th animated movie in the Scooby-Doo straight-to-video series from Warner Bros. Animation, which began in 1998 with Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.  This film is also a crossover between Scooby-Doo and the Cartoon Network animated television series, “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” (2008-2011).  The story finds Scooby-Doo and his friends joining Batman and superhero colleagues in order to solve a mystery involving a scary new villain.

Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold opens as Mystery Incorporated: Fred Jones (Frank Welker), Daphne Blake (Grey Griffin), Velma Dinkley (Kate Micucci), Shaggy Rogers (Matthew Lillard), and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) investigates a series of thefts performed by the ghost of Puppetto the Puppeteer and his puppet, Fredo.  As the gang struggles to capture the ghost, Batman (Diedrich Bader) intervenes and warns them to leave things to the professionals.

Mystery Inc. manages to capture Puppetto and Fredo and discovers that the ghost and his puppet are really the superheroes, Martian Manhunter (Nicholas Guest) and Detective Chimp (Kevin Michael Richardson).  Batman, Manhunter, and Detective Chimp reveal that the Puppetto mystery was a test for Mystery Inc., which they passed.  So the heroes initiate Scooby and company into the “Mystery Analysts of Gotham,” the world's preeminent crime-busting organization.  The superheroes also inform the gang that they could use their help on a few cases.

A week later, Mystery Inc. visits the Mystery Analysts' headquarters where they meet the other members:  The Question (Jeffrey Combs), Black Canary (Grey Griffin), and Plastic Man (Tom Kenny), as well as the tag-a-long Aquaman (John DiMaggio), who desperately wants to be a member of the Analysts.

Mystery Inc. gets a chance to take the lead in the next case for the Analysts and follows the heroes to Gotham Chemical Storage.  There, they encounter a red-cloaked figure, calling himself “the Crimson Cloak” (John DiMaggio).  Why is he swearing revenge on Batman, and how is he tied to the one case Batman has never been able to solve?

I only watched a few episodes of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.”  The series had a lighter tone than some of the Batman animated TV series that came before it, and it depicted Batman as being witty and playful.  I was curious how a collaboration between Scooby-Doo and this iteration of Batman would work.

As a child, I was a huge fan of the second Scooby-Doo animated TV series, “The New Scooby-Doo Movies,” which premiered on September 9, 1972 and ran for two seasons on CBS until 1974.  It was the first Scooby-Doo cartoon series that I ever saw, and it began my life-long love of Scooby-Doo and his pals.  It also began my life-long love affair with Batman and Robin.  The Dynamic Duo were guests stars on two Season One episodes of “The New Scooby-Doo Movies” – Episode #2's “The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair” and Episode #15's “The Caped Crusader Caper.”  These episodes were my first encounters with Batman and Robin, and I was immediately fascinated by the mysterious Batman and his colorful young sidekick.

Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold reminds me of those old cartoons, and while this film doesn't quite take me back to the 1970s, I enjoyed it immensely.  The animation is good, and it allows for the many colorful DC Comics' superheroes and super-villains that appear in this film to move in a way that really conveys the action.  The color palette is perfect for the comic mystery atmosphere of Scooby-Doo, and, to some extent, recalls those old Mystery Inc./Batman team-ups of the 1970s.

The story is good, but it has more superhero characters than it really needs.  Sometimes, Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold comes across like an advertisement for a DC Comics toy fair.  Aquaman, who eventually proves to be useful to solving the mystery, is often extraneous, and he is constantly and annoyingly yelling “Outrageous!”  And The Question, Black Canary, and Plastic Man seem like nothing more than IP placement.  Luckily, there is a surprisingly happy ending.

Still, Scooby-Doo and Mystery Incorporated teaming up with Batman casts a spell that is still effective on me.  I had fun, and I can't wait for them to do it again.

8 of 10
A

Tuesday, September 21, 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.

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/ACTION/FANTASY

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
B+

Tuesday, July 27, 2021


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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)
PRODUCER: Amy McKenna
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Sam Register and James Tucker and Benjamin Melniker & Michael Uslan
EDITOR:  Christopher D. Lozinski
COMPOSER:  Frederik Wiedmann  
ANIMATION STUDIO:  NE4U Inc.

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/ACTION/FANTASY

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
C+

Tuesday, July 13, 2021


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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Review: "JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. THE FATAL FIVE" is Recalls a Classic Era

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 50 of 2021 (No. 1788) by Leroy Douresseaux

Justice League vs. the Fatal Five – video (2019)
Running time:  77 minutes (1 hour, 17 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence, some bloody images, language and partial nudity
DIRECTOR:  Sam Liu
WRITERS:  Jim Krieg, Eric Carrasco, and Alan Burnett; from a story by Eric Carrasco (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
COMPOSERS:  Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, and Lolita Ritmanis
ANIMATION STUDIO:  DR Movie

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/ACTION/FANTASY

Starring:  (voices) Elyes Gabel, Diane Guerro, Kevin Conroy, Susan Eisenberg, George Newbern, Daniela Bobadilla, Kevin Michael Richardson, Noel Fisher, Peter Jessop, Tom Kenny, Matthew Yang King, Sumalee Montano, Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, Tara Strong, and Bruce Timm

Justice League vs. the Fatal Five is a 2019 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation and director Sam Lui.  It is the thirty-fourth film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series.  The film is based on the classic DC Comics superhero team, the Justice League.  The story pits the Justice League and an amnesiac hero against a powerful group of villains from the future.

Justice League vs. the Fatal Five opens in the 31st century.  There, three members of the villainous “Fatal Five”:  Mano (Philip Anthony-Rodriguez), Tharok (Peter Jessop), and The Persuader (Matthew Yang King) attack the Legion of Super-Heroes' headquarters in order to steal the Legion's time sphere.  Legionnaires Star Boy (Elyes Bagel), Saturn Girl (Tara Strong), and Brainiac 5 (Noel Fisher) try to stop them, but fail.  Just as the villains activate the sphere, Star Boy leaps at sphere and is taken back into the 21st century with it.

In the 21st century, the members of the Justice LeagueSuperman (George Newbern), Wonder Woman (Susan Eisenberg), Batman (Kevin Conroy), and Mr. Terrific (Kevin Michael Richardson) are working on getting new members.  Batman is a mentor of sorts to Miss Martian (Daniela Bobadilla), and Wonder Woman is trying to recruit the new Green Lantern of Sector of 2814, Jessica Cruz (Diane Guerro), who is reluctant as she is still suffering from the trauma of a near-death experience.

Soon, the League finds itself in a battle with the trio of Mano, Tharok, and The Persuader, who turn out to be formidable foes.  They have some kind of connection to Star Boy, who has been suffering from memory loss sense he arrived on Earth and is currently a patient in Arkham Asylum.  Whatever these three members of the Fatal Five want, it involves Jessica Cruz, and if she resists their demands, it could lead to mass casualties across the world.

The “DC Animated Universe” (DCAU) is a shared universe of superhero-based animated television series that were produced by Warner Bros. Animation and was based on characters that appeared in DC Comics publications.  The first DCAU TV series was “Batman: The Animated” series, which debuted in September 1992, and the last was “Justice League Unlimited,” which aired its last new episode in May 2006.  Four animated feature films that fit into the DCAU were produced during that original 14-year time period.  Bruce Timm, a writer, producer, character designer, and director of films and animated television series, can be described as the chief architect of the DCAU.  He considers two other animated feature films to be part of the DCAU.  One is 2017's Batman and Harley Quinn, a continuation of the TV series, “Batman: The Animated Series” and its follow up, "The New Batman Adventures" (1997-99).

The other is Justice League vs. the Fatal Five, which is a continuation of the animated TV series, “Justice League (2001-04), and its follow-up, “Justice League Unlimited” (2004-06).  Like “Justice League Unlimited,” Justice League vs. the Fatal Five features a wide array of characters from the universe of DC Comics.  Also, the membership role of the Justice League features characters that don't usually appear as members of the League alongside stalwarts Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman.

Although I have not seen all of its films and TV series, I am a fan of the DCAU, so I was glad that both in the design of the animation and in the spirit of the narrative, Justice League vs. the Fatal Five seems like an extra-long episode of “Justice League Unlimited.”  Having DCAU voice cast regulars, Kevin Conroy (Batman), Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman), and George Newbern (Superman), reprise their roles is simply wonderful.  Having one of my favorite writers of animated films, Jim Krieg, work on this this film is a satisfying bonus.

I think Jessica Cruz's story arc and heroic journey make this film such a strong drama.  However, I think Star Boy's story arc is poorly developed; there are times in this film when the character is quite frankly extraneous, which makes his final sacrifice seem hollow in the narrative.  Strangely enough, I really like Elyes Gabel's voice performance as Star Boy.

I like all the voice performances in Justice League vs. the Fatal Five, and, for the most part, the actors make the characters' personalities, conflicts, and conniving seem genuine.  The action sequences are some of the best I've seen in a DC Universe Animated Original Movie.  I highly recommend Justice League vs. the Fatal Five to fans of these movies and especially to fans of the DCAU.  I could have watched another two hours of it.

8 of 10
A

Wednesday, June 16, 2021


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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  
ANIMATION STUDIO:  Studio MIR

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/ACTION/FANTASY

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
B+

Saturday, April 24, 2021


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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Review: "BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT" Runs on Jet Fuel

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 44 of 2021 (No. 1782) by Leroy Douresseaux

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight – video (2018)
Running time:  78 minutes (1 hour, 18 minutes)
MPAA – R for some violence
PRODUCER/DIRECTOR:  Sam Liu
WRITERS:  Jim Krieg (based on characters from the graphic novel, Gotham by Gaslight, by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola)
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Sam Register and Bruce Timm and Benjamin Melniker & Michael Uslan
EDITOR:  Christopher D. Lozinski
COMPOSER:  Frederik Wiedmann  
ANIMATION STUDIO:  The AnswerStudio

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/ACTION/FANTASY

Starring:  (voices) Bruce Greenwood, Jennifer Carpenter, Scott Patterson, John DiMaggio, Grey Griffin, Anthony Head, Bob Joles, Yuri Lowenthal, William Salyers, and Tara Strong

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is a 2018 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation and director Sam Lui.  It is the thirtieth film in the “DC Universe Animated Original Movies” series.  It is also a loose adaptation of the 1989 Batman graphic novel, Gotham by Gaslight, written by Brian Augustyn and drawn by Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell.  Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is set in an alternate world in which Batman begins his war on crime in Victorian Age Gotham City just as Jack the Ripper begins killing women in the city.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight opens in Victorian-era Gotham City.  A serial killer called “Jack the Ripper” is killing Gotham's poor and destitute women, especially in the area of the city known as “Skinner's End.”  Bruce Wayne (Bruce Greenwood) is also operating in the city as the bat-garbed vigilante, “the Batman.”  One night, Batman saves an unwary couple from being robbed by a trio of orphans who are in service of an abusive criminal handler.  At the same time, Pamela Isley, a prostitute and exotic dancer who performs under the name “Ivy the Plant Lady,” encounters Jack the Ripper, who savagely kills her.

Many citizens of Gotham believe that the Batman and Jack are the same man.  Stage actress, Selina Kyle (Jennifer Carpenter), is a protector of the women of “Skinner's End.”  She berates Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon (Scott Patterson) and Chief of Police Harvey “Bulldog” Bullock (John DiMaggio) for their failure to stop the Ripper murders.  Later, when the Ripper targets Selina, Batman rescues her, but Batman discovers that Jack the Ripper is a formidable opponent who possesses the fighting skill to defeat him.  Initially, Selina rebukes Batman, but soon the two begin working together, even as the city prepares to blame Bruce Wayne for all the Ripper murders.

Writer Jim Krieg, probably one of Warner Bros. Animation's best writers (if not the best, as far as I'm concerned), has fashioned, in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, a Batman “cinematic universe” that could be as interesting as any other world of Batman films.  Taking the source material (the Gotham by Gaslight comic), Krieg has created a world that has possibilities rather than just being a one-off, alternate-universe spin on Batman.  Batman: Gotham by Gaslight feels like it has a tangible back story behind it and an unknown, but full future ahead of it.

Krieg fills Batman: Gotham by Gaslight with highly-developed versions of familiar Batman characters.  Here, Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same; there is no light and dark, separate personalities so much as there is a man who understands the right time and right place to put on the correct public face – or mask, as it may be.

All the supporting characters are strong.  In fact, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight's Selina Kyle could carry her own film.  She is fierce and independent; she is beautiful and personable, even when she is being forceful in her mission to protect poor women.  Hugo Strange (William Salyers) is what some critics might call “deliciously devious,” while Alfred Pennyworth is devious in a benevolent and sly way.  And I can't help but love the “cock robins,” Dickie, Jason, and Timmy.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is pretty in its graphic design and art direction, and the animation moves smoothly.  Director Sam Liu oversees a film that not only plays a mystery, but offers an actually mystery that requires Batman and Selina Kyle to do some investigating.  The film's last act – a rousing section of prison escapes, brutal fights, and a burning park – is perfect escapism and also entertainment with a touch of art.  I thought that I might like Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, and I did.  I simply got far more joy out of it than I imagined I would.

8 of 10
A

Saturday, April 17, 2021


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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Review: "Batman and Harley Quinn" is an Ode to Bruce Timm-Era Batman TV

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 31 of 2021 (No. 1769) by Leroy Douresseaux

Batman and Harley Quinn – video (2017)
Running time:  74 minutes (1 hour, 14 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sexual content, language, violence and action, and for rude humor
DIRECTOR:  Sam Liu
WRITERS:  Bruce Timm and Jim Krieg; from a story by Bruce Timm (based on characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics)
EDITOR:  Christopher D. Lozinski
COMPOSERS:  Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, and Lolita Ritmanis
ANIMATION STUDIO:  DR Movie

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/ACTION/FANTASY

Starring:  (voices) Kevin Conroy, Melissa Rauch, Loren Lester, Paget Brewster, Kevin Michael Richardson, John DiMaggio, Eric Bauza, Robin Atkin Downes, Trevor Devall, Rob Paulsen, Mindy Sterling, and Bruce Timm

Batman and Harley Quinn is a 2017 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation and director Sam Lui.  The film shares a connection and design style with the animated television series, “The New Batman Adventures” (1997-99), and is spiritually related to that series' predecessor, “Batman: The Animated Series” (1992-95), which is the series in which Harley Quinn made her first appearance.  In Batman and Harley Quinn, Batman and Nightwing are forced to team with Harley Quinn in order to stop a global threat.

Batman and Harley Quinn opens with Batman (Kevin Conroy) and his partner, Nightwing (Loren Lester), who was once known as Robin, the Boy Wonder.  The duo has discovered that the villainess, Poison Ivy / Pamela Isley (Paget Brewster) has teamed up with Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richardson), an alien plant creature that shares Poison Ivy's desire to give plants supremacy of Earth over humanity.  Poison Ivy and Floronic Man plan to create their own viral version of the “bio-restorative formula” that transformed Dr. Alec Holland into the Swamp Thing (John DiMaggio).  To that end, they have kidnapped a scientist, Dr. Harold Goldblum (Rob Paulsen), and forced him to help them replicate the formula.

Ivy and Woodrue are unaware that their altered formula could destroy all life (human, animal, and plant), so Batman and Nightwing must stop them before they finish their formula.  However, “the Dynamic Duo” are struggling in their mission to find the villains and reluctantly turn to Ivy's best friend, Harley Quinn (Melissa Rauch), in the hopes that she will have an idea or two on where to find Ivy.  But Harley has gone into hiding after her most recent recent parole from imprisonment.  Finding Harley won't be easy, and who says she wants to help Batman and Nightwing find her BFF – best friend forever!  And if she does cooperate, can Batman and Nightwing trust Harley?

Bruce Timm was one of the main creative forces behind “Batman: The Animated Series” and “The New Batman Adventures,” as well as other wonderful animated television series that featured DC Comics superheroes.  So I am always happy when he returns to his corner of the animated DC Universe, this time as a writer and executive producer.  One of my favorite animation writers, Jim Krieg, co-wrote Batman and Harley Quinn with Timm.  Voice actor Kevin Conroy, who is beloved for his work playing the voice of Batman / Bruce Wayne on several animated TV series and films, also returns as the voice of Batman for this film.

So I have a few reasons to love Batman and Harley Quinn, and I did indeed enjoy it, but it isn't one of the better direct-to-DVD animated DC Universe films.  The Floronic Man is an uninteresting bag of wind as a villain despite the best efforts of talented voice actor, Kevin Michael Richardson.  Also the Poison Ivy of this film is shallow, and looks weird.

The plot is lame, but their a few things that make me like Batman and Harley Quinn.  First, Timm and Krieg offer strong takes on the characters of Batman, Nightwing, and Harley, and the relationship dynamic between them as a trio or as a trio of duos sparkles with wit and genuine feeling.  Secondly, there are some surprisingly magical moments in this film, such as the karaoke medley in the middle of the film.  The Sarge Steel (John DiMaggio) and A.R.G.U.S. subplot is nice.  Finally, I love the design of the animation and the animation in general in this film.  It is as if “The New Batman Adventures” returned from the old cartoons graveyard for an hour or so.

Despite my reservations concerning its weak plot and villains, I highly recommend Batman and Harley Quinn to fans of Bruce Timm's 1990s Batman TV shows.  When it comes to animation overseen by Timm, I'll take anything and everything I can get.

7 of 10
B+

Tuesday, March 30, 2021


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Friday, January 29, 2021

Review: "Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost" is a Happy Meal

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 3 of 2021 (No. 1741) by Leroy Douresseaux

Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost (2018) – Video
Running time:  77 minutes (1 hour, 17 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Doug Murphy
WRITER: Tim Sheridan (based on the Hanna-Barbera characters)
EDITOR:  Scott Fuselier
COMPOSERS:  Matthew Janszen and Jake Monaco
ANIMATION STUDIO: Digital eMation, Inc.

ANIMATION/FANTASY/FAMILY and ACTION/COMEDY/MYSTERY

Starring:  (voices) Frank Welker, Matthew Lillard, Grey Griffin, Kate Micucci, Jim Cummings, Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Marcus Samuelsson, Maya Haile, David Kaye, Salli Saffioti, Dana Snyder, Jason Spisak, and Audrey Wasilewski

Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost is a 2018 straight-to-video, animated, comic mystery film.  It is also the 31st animated movie in the Scooby-Doo straight-to-video series from Warner Bros. Animation, which began in 1998 with Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island.  In Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost, Mystery Inc. meet celebrity chefs and a relentless Revolutionary War-era ghost.

Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost opens in Newport Cove, Rhode Island, the year 1780.  Local chef and Revolutionary War hero, Chef Edward DuFlay (David Kaye), delights his neighbors with a gift, but later, disappears not long after he returns to his home and place of work, the Rocky Harbor Inn.  The last thing the townsfolk here is Chef DuFlay yelling “the Red Ghost, the Red Ghost!”

Moving to the present, we find Mystery Inc.: Fred Jones (Frank Welker), Daphne Blake (Grey Griffin), Velma Dinkley (Kate Micucci), Shaggy Rogers (Matthew Lillard), and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) arriving at the Rocky Harbor Inn, where Fred's uncle, Bobby Flay (Bobby Flay), has invited them to stay.  Actually, Fred is surprised to learn that Uncle Bobby is a celebrity chef.

Inside the inn, Bobby informs the gang that he has remodeled Rocky Harbor Inn and has changed its name to Rocky Harbor Culinary Institute.  It is a state-of-the-art kitchen fantasy camp designed to make cooking easy and fun.  It has a high-tech kitchen where “Rocky” (Grey Griffin), an interactive computer program, keeps the kitchen humming.

The gang also meet other famous resort attendees.  The first is celebrity chef, Giada De Laurentiis (Giada De Laurentiis) and her cat, Bella.  Then, they meet fellow celebrity chef, Marcus Samuelsson (Marcus Samuelsson), and his super-model wife, Maya Haile (Maya Haile), both of whom have previously had a run-in with Shaggy.

But all is not fun and games and eating great food.  The legendary “Red Ghost” is still haunting Rocky Harbor Inn, and apparently wants to destroy it.  And there seems to be some unpleasantness tied to the memory of Fred and Bobby Flay's ancestor, Chef Edward DuFlay.  Can Mystery Inc. solve this latest supernatural mystery before Bobby Flay loses everything he has worked so hard to create with Rocky Harbor Culinary Institute?

Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost is one of the best Scooby-Doo! direct-to-DVD animated films that I have seen since I started watching the series on a regular bases a little over a decade ago.  I think the reason that I like it so much is that real-life celebrity chefs and television personalities, Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Marcus Samuelsson, and Maya Haile (all playing themselves), bring some fresh ingredients to this series.

Writer Tim Sheridan also offers a buffet of fresh and tasty subplots that brings out the flavor of the main plot (solving the mystery of the Red Ghost).  The animation is especially good, and the directing and editing create a fast-paced, but thoughtful film, full of both engaging mystery and zany action.  I highly recommend Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost to fans of the series and to fans of Scooby-Doo!

8 of 10
A

Monday, January 18, 2021


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Saturday, December 26, 2020

Movie Review: "Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay" is Way Better Than "Suicide Squad" Live-Action Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 25 of 2020 (No. 1738) by Leroy Douresseaux

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay – video (2018)

Running time:  86 minutes (1 hour, 26 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong bloody violence throughout, sexual content, brief graphic nudity and some drug material
PRODUCER/DIRECTOR:  Sam Liu
WRITER:  Alan Burnett (based on characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics)
EDITOR:  Christopher D. Lozinsk
COMPOSER:  Robert J. Kral
ANIMATION STUDIO:  DR Movie


ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/ACTION/FANTASY

Starring:  (voices) Christian Slater, Vanessa Williams, Billy Brown, Liam McIntyre, Tara Strong, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Gideon Emery, C. Thomas Howell, Jim Pirri, Dania Ramirez, Dave Fennoy, Greg Grunberg, Cissy Jones, Julie Nathanson, and James Urbaniak

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is a 2018 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation.  A part of the “DC Animated Movie Universe,” this film stars the DC Comics antihero super-team, the Suicide Squad.  Hell to Pay finds the squad on a mission to obtain a powerful mystical object that a lot of other powerful people also want.

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay opens three years in the past.  Amanda Waller (Vanessa Williams) has dispatched Task Force X, her “Suicide Squad” of super-villains and disgraced superheroes, to retrieve stolen intelligence.  By the end of the mission, Floyd Lawton a.k.a. “Deadshot” (Christian Slater) proves his absolutely loyalty to Waller.

In the present, after learning that she is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Waller reassembles Task Force X with a new roster:  Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), Captain Boomerang (Liam McIntyre), Killer Frost (Kristin Bauer van Straten), Copperhead (Gideon Emery), and Bronze Tiger (Billy Brown), with Deadshot as their leader.  Their mission is to find a man whose current identity is that of “Steel Maxim” (Greg Grunberg), a male stripper/dancer.  By a chance of … fate, Maxim is in possession of a mystical black card with the words, “Get Out of Hell Free,” emblazoned across it.  The card is indeed a magical item that will allow a person who is damned, upon death, to get out of hell free.

Task Force X, however, is not the only party interested in obtaining Maxim's card.  Professor Eobard “Zoom” Thawne, also known as “Reverse Flash” (C. Thomas Howell), and his two cohorts, Silver Banshee (Julie Nathanson) and Blockbuster (Dave Fennoy), have been chasing the card for some time.  Plus, Scandal Savage (Dania Ramirez) and her brawny girlfriend, Knockout (Cissy Jones), have their own specific reasons for wanting the card.  But there is one who seeks the card who is so cunning and so powerful that it may take all the other seekers' powers to stop him from getting it.

I rented Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay from DVD.com (Netflix) because I thought I would enjoy it and because I really enjoyed the Suicide Squad's previous appearance in an animated film, 2014's direct-to-DVD film, Batman: Assault on Arkham.  Turns out that I really enjoyed Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay.

The story, focusing on the quest for the card, is a mere contrivance, but the action, especially the brutal fights and violent battles, makes this movie a joy to watch.  There are some dry patches in this film, but the superhero-fantasy violence and the impudent, rude, murderous, and entertaining characters make up for the times when the film slows down.

Tara Strong is … strong in her voice performance as Harley Quinn.  Billy Brown is all righteousness and pathos as the thoroughly likable Bronze Tiger, and Christian Slater is surprisingly slow and steady as Deadshot.  Slater is successful in making Deadshot the center of this 15-ring circus of crazy super-powered people looking for that magical card.  I hated that live-action Suicide Squad film from 2016, and I find the Suicide Squad comic books that DC Comics has published over the last decade to be a bore.  But I am down with animated Suicide Squad.  The best thing that I can say about Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is that after it ended, I really wanted more.

8 of 10
A

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Review: "Teen Titans: The Judas Contract" Turns Out to Be Fun

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 20 (of 2020) by Leroy Douresseaux

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract – video (2017)
Running time:  84 minutes (1 hour, 24 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for language, some violence, sensuality, thematic elements and brief drug use
DIRECTOR:  Sam Liu
WRITERS:  Ernie Altbacker (based on the comic book story by Marv Wolfman and George Perez and on the DC Comics characters)
EDITOR:  Christopher D. Lozinsk
COMPOSER:  Frederik Wiedmann
ANIMATION STUDIO:  The Answerstudios

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/ACTION/FANTASY

Starring:  (voices) Sean Maher, Kari Wahlgren, Stuart Allan, Taissa Farmiga, Brandon Soo Hoo, Jake T. Austin, Christina Ricci, Miguel Ferrer, Gregg Henry, Meg Foster, Masasa Moyo, Jason Spisak, Crispin Freeman, and Kevin Smith

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is a 2017 straight-to-video animated superhero film from Warner Bros. Animation.  The films stars the DC Comics superhero team, the Teen Titans.  The film's story is based on “The Judas Contract,” the 1983-84 story arc that was published in The New Teen Titans #39 to #44 and in The New Teen Titans Annual 3, which were created by the writer-artist team of Marv Wolfman and George Perez.  Teen Titans: The Judas Contract the movie focuses on the Teen Titans and their battle against an insane cult leader and his conspiracy against them.

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract opens with the original Teen TitansRobin/Dick Grayson (Sean Maher), Speedy (Crispin Freeman), Kid Flash (Jason Spisak), Beast Boy (Brandon Soo Hoo), and Bumblebee (Masasa Moyo).  During a mission, the Titans rescue an alien princess, Koriand'r of Tamaran (Kari Wahlgren), also known as “Starfire,” from her captors.

Five years later, Dick Grayson, now known as “Nightwing,” rejoins the Teen Titans, who are led by Starfire.  In addition to original member, Beast Boy, the team is now comprised of Raven (Taissa Farmiga), Terra (Christina Ricci), Blue Beetle (Jake T. Austin), and the current Robin, Damien Wayne (Stuart Allan).  The Titans have been battling a high-tech terrorist organization called “H.I.V.E.” and are trying to find its leader, “Brother Blood” (Gregg Henry), the head of a terrorist cult.

Brother Blood has grown tired of the Titans interfering in his plans, but he desires to possess their powers.  Blood hires the mercenary/assassin, Deathstroke (Miguel Ferrer), to capture the Titans, and to that end, Deathstroke has a spy inside the Titans.

For most of the 1980s, The New Teen Titans was one of DC Comics' most popular comic book titles, and for awhile, it was the publisher's most important and popular title.  “The Judas Contract” was The New Teen Titans' signature story line.  Teen Titans: The Judas Contract the movie is true to the spirit of the original story, both in depicting how close a team of disparate individuals can become and in depicting the sting of betrayal committed by one member against the rest of the team.

I really enjoyed this movie, and I am surprised that I liked all the characters and all the voice actors' performances.  Christina Ricci does stand out and conveys the pathos and conflict within Terra Markov, while Brandon Soo Hoo gives comedic depth and dramatic weight to Beast Boy.  I will note, however, that film director, Kevin Smith, appears as a cartoon version of himself, and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract could have done without him.

Fans of the direct-to-video, DC Comics animated films will find that Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is a high point in this long-running series.  Teen Titans fans will also find that, although the film changes the original story quite a bit, this version of The Judas Contract maintains the core of the comic book original, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.

8 of 10
A

Sunday, October 25, 2020


The text is copyright © 2020 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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