Anchor Bay, Starz Conjure Up Second Season Of Da Vinci’s Demons On DVD, Blu-ray

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz Media

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment/Starz Media

Fans of the original drama Da Vinci’s Demons have reason to be excited this winter. That is thanks to Anchor Bay’s announcement Tuesday that it will release the hit drama’s second season next month.

Officials with Starz announced Tuesday that the second season of Da Vinci’s Demons will be released Tuesday, March 3rd. It will be released on Blu-ray + Digital HD and DVD. Season Two picks up where the series’ first season left off. Da Vinci continues to defend Florence against the powers that be in Rome. Meanwhile he also continues his quest for the fabled Book of Leaves and for answers about his mother. New enemies rise up along the way, too; forces that prove to be even more dangerous than even Pope Sixtus and his minions. Both the DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD presentation of Da Vinci’s Demons include a handful of bonuses to complement its ten-episode run. Those bonuses include a “making of” featurette, a recap of Season One, a look at the new sets used in Season Two and more. The full list of bonus material included on Season Two’s box set is noted below.

New Bonus Features:

  • New Sets
  • Creating the World
  • A Closer Look

The Journey Begins: Season 1 Recap

Da Vinci’s Demons stars Tom Riley (I Want Candy, Return to House on Haunted Hill, Happy Ever Afters) as famed inventor Leonardo Da Vinci. He is joined by Laura Haddock (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Inbetweeners Movie), Blake Ritson (Rock N Rolla, Titus, Red Cap), Elliot Cowan (Happy-Go-Lucky, Alexander, The Golden Compass), Lara Pulver (Edge of Tomorrow, True Blood, Sherlock), and James Faulkner (Downton Abbey, Bridget Jones’s Diary, X-Men: First Class). The Blu-ray + Digital HD box set will retail for $54.99 and the DVD box set for $44.98. All of the latest updates on Da Vinci’s Demons are available online at:

Website: https://www.davincisdemons.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/davincisdemons.starz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaVincis_Starz

All of the latest information on Da Vinci’s Demons and other titles from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at:

Website: https://www.anchorbayentertainment.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnchorBay

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Anchor_Bay

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Guardians Of The Galaxy Is 2014’s Best New Movie

Courtesy:  Marvel Studios/Disney

Courtesy: Marvel Studios/Disney

Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy is the best new movie of 2014 hands down.  This diamond in the rough is a solid answer to director Tim Burton’s recent declaration that he wanted to see a happy superhero movie.  Given, the “guardians” aren’t exactly superheroes.  But at a time when the fare offered by Marvel and DC has become increasingly dark and dominated by damaged, anti-hero figures, this movie shines as the antithesis of those movies.  One part action and one part fantasy it is the breath of fresh air that the superhero/comic book genre has needed for some time and could not have come at a better time.  The movie’s multifaceted script lies at the center of its success.  The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is just as important to its success.  And last but hardly least worth noting of the movie’s success is its collective look and feel.  That includes both its backdrops and its special effects.  The combination of all of these elements proves exactly why Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is one of this year’s best new movies if not the year’s best new movie.  One can only hope that Marvel won’t abandon everything that made this movie great when its sequel comes along in 2017.  Time will tell.  Until such time, audiences will agree that this movie more than deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new movies.

When Warner Brothers debuted its Tim Burton-helmed take on Batman in 1989, it proved to be something of an anomaly.  No movie at the time or even before had taken the route taken by this movie.  It was dark and brooding, just as Bob Kane had first envisioned him.  It wouldn’t be until 2005’s Batman Begins that audiences would see the rebirth of the brooding superhero.  Some will argue that 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise, which started in 2000, would qualify in that category.  But that’s only because of the inclusion of one Wolverine.  That being said, Batman Begins is to thank and to blame for what has become of the superhero/comic book genre.  That being said, the debut of Guardians of the Galaxy is a breath of fresh air.  It is the antithesis of those movies in every sense.  And that is thanks first and foremost to the movie’s multi-faceted script.  The script, crafted by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, avoids every one of the trappings of the movies churned out by both Marvel and DC in recent years.  One of those trappings is the brooding superhero approach used by both Marvel and DC throughout the studios’ ongoing competition.  The script keeps the brooding to an extreme minimum with the extent of it being centered on Peter’s own thoughts of his mother’s death when he was a boy.  The brooding on the part of Drax and Gamora on the loss of their own families at the hands of Thanos and Ronan is kept to just as much of a minimum.  Because Gunn and Perlman keep the characters’ brooding in question, it allows for the movie’s related themes, jokes, and story to take center stage.  The end result is a script that while hardly timeless is still one of the most entertaining to come along in a long time both within the superhero/comic book genre and within the action drama in whole.

Gunn and Perlman are more than deserving of applause because of the fact that they took the road less traveled in their script, opting to keep the story’s brooding to an extreme minimum.  In comparison to the rest of the movies churned out by Marvel and DC in recent years, it really is the single most important factor of the duo’s script. It isn’t the only reason that the script works, either.  The themes of family and friendship that the pair incorporated into the story are even more reason for applause.  They go hand in hand with that lack of brooding.  Throughout the course of the story’s script, Gunn and Perlman note the importance of family and friendship.   Gunn and Perlman essentially tell audiences through their script that friends and family don’t have to be just like one another to come together.  They don’t always have to completely like one another, either.  They even go so far as to jokingly say through the quartet’s interactions that the least likely of friends and families can come together when one least expects it.  This message is driven home in the movie’s final minutes, which won’t be given away for the sake of those that have yet to see the movie.  It is something of a cheesy moment, given.  But again in comparison to the previous releases from Marvel and DC, it’s a refreshingly cheesy moment.  It’s yet another aspect of the Guardians’ script that makes the movie such a success.  The jokes that are tossed around throughout the movie is yet another aspect of the movie’s script that adds to its enjoyment.

The contrast of the positive themes and overall lack of brooding in the Guardians’ script is a hugely important aspect of the script that makes it a success.  The jokes that are tossed around throughout the script make it even more of a joy for audiences.  Whether it be the jokes added to Peter Quill and Rocket Raccoon’s banter or the pop culture references used as jokes, or other jokes in general, Gunn and Perlman did an outstanding job in this area, too.  The banter between Peter and Rocket is a laugh riot.  Of course the acting on the part of Chris Pratt and Bradley Cooper respectively doesn’t hurt that banter and its jokes, either.  It’s classic back and forth that audiences haven’t seen in a very long time.  There are also plenty of pop culture references used themselves as jokes, including constant references to the hit 1984 Kevin Bacon starring vehicle Footloose.  And Peter’s attempt at a dance-off in order to distract Ronan at one point (again that moment won’t be revealed here) is itself a reference to Michael Jackson if one watches closely.  It’s one thing to use pop culture references in a movie or TV show by themselves to get laughs.  But to use them as jokes (especially as running gags) is rather smart writing.  There are also plenty of stand-alone jokes that will have audiences laughing along the way, too.  The jokes in question aren’t right in audiences’ faces.  But they are clear enough that there’s no missing them.  Again, such placement is very smart writing.  It still is not the end of what makes the script’s writing the key point of success behind Guardians of the Galaxy.  Last but not least worth noting in considering the strength of the Guardians’ script is the story itself.

The story behind Guardians of the Galaxy is the last element of its writing that makes it the hit that it has deservedly proven to be.  The reason that the story works as well as it does is its simplicity.  It seems on the surface that there is a lot involved in the story.  That is because of the amount of backstabbing that goes on.  But the story, at its heart, centers on one fanatical madman’s attempts to destroy an entire race of people and their home world because of his own personal beliefs.  It was used in J.J. Abrams’ recent reboot of Star Trek most recently.  It’s a tried and true plot that has been used any number of times before in other action movies.  And even here it still manages to work in its given setting.  This is especially worth noting considering the story’s extra elements—the chase for Peter Quill and the Orb, Gamora backstabbing Ronan, etc.  There is a lot of extra backstory that is thrown into the mix.  That extra could easily have bogged down the central story.  But even with two people handling the script, that didn’t happen, amazingly enough.  Because those extras don’t bog down the movie’s central plot, said plot is that much easier to grasp and follow, thus keeping viewers engaged from start to finish.  That, alongside the other noted factors that went into the script, shows once and for all why the movie’s writing makes it the best new movie of 2014.

A lot of work went into the writing behind Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.  The painstaking efforts that were taken to make this blockbuster stand out against its competition were not for naught, either.  Rather it collectively paid off and then some.  The acting on the part of the movie’s cast should not be ignored as a reason for its success, either.  The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is just as much to thank for its enjoyment and success as the writing behind the movie.  The constant back and forth banter between Bradley Cooper and Chris Pratt makes for plenty of laughs throughout the movie.  At no one point does the duo’s arguing feel forced.  It feels entirely natural, which is what makes it so entertaining.  Cooper’s portrayal of Rocket set against Vin Diesel’s Groot is just as funny.  Both situations are classic comedy brought into the 21st century. Pro wrestler Dave Bautista’s own interactions with his cast mates on screen make for their own laughs, too as audiences will see when they watch the movie for themselves. One would be remiss to ignore Pratt’s own comic timing both by himself and set against the talents of others. Audiences will laugh uproariously at his comic timing when he distracts Ronan with his “dance off.” It’s yet another way that the cast’s acting makes Guardians of the Galaxy such a surprisingly entertaining work. Yet it still is not all that makes this movie so enjoyable, either. The movie’s look and feels make the movie even better. They collectively round out the movie’s positives and prove once and for all why any lover of action movies and the superhero/comic book genre will love this movie. Together with the cast’s acting and the movie’s overall writing, it proves once and for all why Guardians of the Galaxy is the best new movie of 2014.

It seems like almost every one of the movie spit out by Marvel and DC in recent years have become increasingly dark and gritty in their stories but in their look and feel, too. Thankfully Guardians of the Galaxy is the polar opposite of those movies in this aspect, too. It incorporates some dark elements in terms of its look and feel, yes. But there are also rather bright, colorful backdrops used throughout the movie. And thanks to all of the comic elements incorporated into both the movie’s script and the cast’s acting, the movie’s feel is just as colorful, light, and light-hearted. It is such a welcome change of pace from all of the movies released by Marvel and DC in recent years and even harkens back to the likes of Iron Man in its own interesting way. Not only does it have that same sort of light hearted, comedic feel, but it also has that same sort of playful edge about it, too. That mix of the movie’s fun feel and its balance of light and dark backdrops is perfectly balanced from the movie’s opening flashback to its final minutes. The end result of that mix leaves audiences wanting to see more in the best way possible. With any luck, Guardians 2 will have just as much of a positive look and feel. For that matter hopefully it will have just as solid a script and acting. If it does, then it will prove the success of this movie to be far more than just a fluke.

So much work went into bringing Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy to life. And that work more than paid off. The movie’s multifaceted writing is its cornerstone. It incorporates themes of family and friendship that audiences of all ages will appreciate. It also avoids all of the brooding that has been a trademark of so many of Marvel and DC’s other previous releases. And the story itself is simple in every sense of the word. The acting on the part of the movie’s cast makes the movie all the more entertaining. It will leave audiences laughing nonstop from beginning to end. The look and feel of the movie is the polar opposite of so many movies that have come before, too from Marvel and DC. Each noted element makes Guardians of the Galaxy a memorable and entertaining movie in its own right. Together, they make it the single best new movie of 2014 fluke or not.

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Captain America Sequel Another Largely Forgettable Flick From Marvel

Courtesy:  Marvel Studios/Disney

Courtesy: Marvel Studios/Disney

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was touted as one of the biggest hits of 2014 when it hit theaters earlier this summer. While it is enjoyable enough, the sad truth of this movie is that it really is not as great as some would like to believe. It all starts with the script. The issues with the script can be summed up in one word: predictability. In its defense, the writing trio of Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and Ed Brubaker make one unpredictable move. That will be discussed at a later point. Getting back to the movie, another major issue from which the movie suffers is what this critic has coined as “whisper scenes.” They are exactly what they sound like. And together with the movie’s scripting issues, it serves to bring this movie down and leave it even less enjoyable. The final product is a movie that proves in the end to be more forgettable than fun. Sorry, fanboys and fangirls. It’s true.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier got a lot of hype leading up to its debut this past April. And while for many, it was considered a hit, a closer examination of Marvel’s latest in its endless river of prequels, sequels, and remakes proves it to be hardly as good as many would want it to be. The primary reason for this is the movie’s scripting. The issues with the movie’s scripting can be summed up in one word. That word is predictability. As soon as Nick Fury shows up in Rogers’ apartment, and secretly tells him that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been compromised, it was pretty obvious the direction in which the script was headed. The bad guys infiltrate the good guys’ headquarters and pretend to be good guys until a certain point at which a major conflict arises. Yeah, it’s pretty obvious. Even without the spoilers that had been “leaked” before the movie’s debut, it was pretty obvious who the real good guys were and who the real bad guys were. And even without those spoilers, it was pretty obvious that The Winter Soldier in question was a former good guy. That formula has been used far too many times before in far too many other action flicks that far exceed this one. Not to ruin the movie for those that haven’t seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier yet, but it’s also pretty obvious that the movie’s (and studio’s) heads were not going to kill off the biggest names in their franchises. Again, audiences are presented with so much predictability, greatly decreasing from the movie’s enjoyment.

For all of the issues of predictability that run throughout Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there is one unpredictable aspect to the script overall that deserves being noted. That aspect is that Markus, McFeely, and Brubaker actually opted not to let a romance develop between Natasha and Steve. There is a point at which Natasha tells Cap to kiss her so as to avoid detection by some Hydra agents. A conversation between the pair later leads some to believe that perhaps there is a potential for romance there. Luckily though, that doesn’t happen. And for that, the movie’s writers deserve at least some credit if no more. It is one of only two shining rays of light in a movie that lacks greatly in terms positives. The only other positive worth noting is the fact that it keeps the brooding to an extreme minimum unlike the movies that have been churned out over the years from DC. Even with Bucky’s own personal demons, his brooding is kept in check. It really helps the overall product. For that reason too, Captain America: The Winter Soldier manages to stay at least somewhat afloat.

Those behind the cameras on Captain America: The Winter Soldier did plenty of damage to the movie with just the massive amount of predictability throughout the script. They try to make up for all of that by filling the movie’s nearly two and a half-hour run time with all of the standard fight scenes, explosions, and chase scenes that are all too common with big screen action blockbusters. Thanks to the number of these elements crammed into the movie and the movie’s relatively long run time, it ends up having the same feel as its fellow Marvel sequel Thor: The Dark World. That feel is that it’s a movie that is just one explosion, chase scene and fight scene after another. Simply put, the imbalance of substance versus action flick filler hurts the movie even more. And coupled with the script’s predictability from start to finish, it becomes even less memorable.

It should be crystal clear at this point that Captain America: The Winter Soldier doesn’t exactly live up to its hype. For those not yet convinced, there is still one more aspect of the movie that while subtle still hurts it in its own way. That last aspect is what this critic has come to call “whisper scenes.” These scenes are exactly what they sound like (no pun intended). Actors talk in hushed tones so as to heighten the tension of a given scene. Those scenes are typically bookended by really loud action scenes or scenes that are otherwise the polar opposite of said scene. Whisper scenes aren’t bad. Don’t misinterpret that. The problem is that this movie is one more that uses them far too often throughout the course of its run time. It seems like an increasing number of directors have been relying on “whisper scenes” in recent years. Simply put, it is annoying. It’s as annoying as the number of lens flares thrown into director J.J. Abrams’ movies. Anyone that is familiar with Abrams’ works will understand this frustration. Anyone that has experienced such over use of “whisper scenes” will be just as able to relate. It is the last straw of a movie that ends up proving to be all but the enjoyable summer blockbuster that it was touted to be.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not a terrible movie. Anyone looking to just turn off their brains and enjoy a standard, mindless orgy of explosions, chase scenes, and fight scenes will enjoy this movie just as much as its predecessor. But those that give the movie a closer examination will see just how many problems it has. Its script is predictable. It relies largely on those aforementioned chase scenes, fight scenes and explosions to try and make up for its predictability and overall lack of substance. And the overload of “whisper scenes” that fill the movie’s run time only serve to hurt it more. The movie’s only shining rays of light are the fact that its team of writers didn’t allow for Steve and Natasha’s partnership to become a romance and it kept Bucky’s brooding to a bare minimum. Other than that, there is very little good that can be said of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s a movie that is fun for one watch, but little more.

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Iron Man 3 Fun, Even With Some Kinks In The Armor

Courtesy:  Paramount/Marvel

Courtesy: Paramount/Marvel

When is a man not a man?  A man is not a man only when he gives up.  That is what those who have not yet seen Marvel’s new blockbuster Iron Man 3 need to remember when going into this movie.  Many of those who have seen this movie have complained that the movie didn’t feature enough of Tony in his suit; that it was essentially more melodrama than movie.  Here’s the thing.  Just as start Robert Downey Junior noted in recent reviews, he can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again.  He meant that in terms of playing Iron Man/Tony Stark again in a potential Iron Man 4 and/or Avengers 2.  But the reality is that those comments apply within the context of Iron Man 3 itself, too.  Fans have seen Tony Stark don his armor time and again in the first two movies in this franchise.  And for the most part, his armor has done the same sort of feats.  So seeing Tony lose everything, including his suits (albeit temporarily) and forced to rely on just his wits was actually a nice change of pace.  It showed that while he may not have been a superhero for much of the movie, he was still a hero and no less a man.   That’s because he didn’t give up.  He didn’t even let anxiety attacks hold him down.  These are messages that any viewer, comic book fan or not, should take away from this movie.

The messages contained within Iron Man 3 are just one positive aspect to this movie.  While it’s hardly perfect, the fan boys and fan girls that have lambasted it for its surprise regarding The Mandarin and the Extremis story arc have gone into the movie with too much of a closed mind.  They perhaps didn’t catch that Writer/Director Shane Black and his Co-Writer Drew Pearce did in fact poke fun at themselves indirectly concerning this matter.  When the truth is revealed about The Mandarin, Rhodey asks Tony, “This is The Mandarin?!”  Tony retorts with one of so many wisecracks that audiences have come to love from him.  Those that are open minded enough will appreciate that this short moment is actually Pearce and Black’s way of beating the fan boys and fan girls to the punch in hopes that it will get them to laugh at the story changes with them.  Though, in defense of the fan boys and fan girls, it is a bit of a slap in their faces to turn The Mandarin into the minor figure that Black and Pearce did.  Maybe in any future installments, audiences will get The Mandarin that they deserve.

Any viewer that can accept the story changes to Iron Man 3 will appreciate the eventual reward in the movie’s final climactic battle scene between Tony, Rhodey, and Killian.  There are those that say this final showdown is the movie’s only real good part.  But as already noted there is much more to be taken away from the movie.  Seeing all the armor from Tony’s “Hall of Armor” lets audiences know that regardless of whether RDJ returns for Iron Man 4 or Avengers 2, odds are audiences will still see Iron Man return with much more armor and action in future installments.  After all, certain parties noted that the most recent take on The Incredible Hulk would be the last one for a while.  But obviously that’s now been proven false as the not so Jolly Green Giant is apparently back on the table again for Marvel’s next phase.  So even if RDJ is done (as he seemed to note even within the context of the movie), it would be no surprise if Shellhead returns with someone else donning the Iron Man suit….or suits?

As one can tell by now, there is plenty for which Iron Man 3 should be applauded.  For all of its positives, there are some negatives.  The first of those negatives is the movie’s pacing.  Its run time is roughly two hours and fifteen minutes.  But it feels like it is much longer.  Unlike its competitor, Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man 3 felt like (just as with DC’s The Dark Knight Rises), Black and Pearce were trying way too hard to cram everything they could into this one last installment so as to close the trilogy.  What’s more, incorporating multiple villains, as so many of the comic based movies have done in recent years, only added to the movie’s length.  It would have been much easier to simply stick with Killian as the main villain.  After all, audiences are hand delivered early on the fact that Killian would be the main villain.  The extra storyline may lead some viewers to find themselves checking their watches every now and then, wondering when the two hour plus movie will finally end.  And because of this, it will ultimately leave some viewers realizing that this key issue has and will forever keep Iron Man 3 from being the movie that it was hyped up to be.  Rather, it will keep Iron Man 3 little more than another transition point to Marvel’s next property, just like its comic books.

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New Iron Man DVD A Solid Season Closer, Lead-In To Iron Man 3 Movie

Courtesy:  Marvel Animation

Courtesy: Marvel Animation

Marvel Animation releases the latest in its “animated” series, Iron Man: Armored Adventures next Tuesday, April 23rdIron Man: Armored Adventures Season 2 Volume 4 follows the continuing journey of the teenage Tony Stark and his friends as they face the forces of evil.  This time out, Tony finally discovers that his father is actually alive only to have to save his life again.  Also in this finale to the show’s second season, Iron Man and his friends also have to face off against the evil Dr. Doom, and Pepper Potts even gets her own suit of armor.  And what action series would be complete without an alien invasion?  The season closes out with an epic battle against the Makluans.  All of this and more spans eight episodes in one more disc that finishes off the second season of Iron Man: Armored Adventures.  The show’s cg-based “animation” continues to stand out from the rest of the crop of CG-based kids’ shows, continuing to help maintain its identity.  This is especially the case considering that the recent Hot Wheels animated series and Stormhawks have gone by the wayside.  Both of those shows used very similar cg based animation.  Together with the packaging and the action packed episodes, audiences get another set of episodes that makes for a nice lead-in to the upcoming theatrical debut of Iron Man 3.

Iron Man Armored:  Adventures Season 2 Vol. 4 succeeds as a continuation of the season’s previous volumes and as a lead in to the upcoming theatrical release of Iron Man 3 thanks to its writing.  This final portion of Season Two leads up to an epic faceoff with the Makluans.  The faceoff in question is a result of actions by the teenage Mandarin in his search for the tenth ring.  Viewers get an origin story not of just The Mandarin, but also of the rings.  According to the legend presented here, the rings are actual alien in descent, and were used by an evil alien warlord to enslave other alien beings.  In the process of everything, Pepper plays a role and is introduced as “Rescue” having gotten her own armor in the buildup to the battle with the Makluan.  Keeping this in mind, the writing of the episodes included in this set, and the timing of its release will really help to build hype for the latest upcoming big screen feature.  All involved with the series and its release are definitely to be commended for all of this.

The writing and the timing of this set’s release make it a success.  This goes without saying.  Its form of CG-based “animation” adds to its success.  There have been few modern “animated shows” that have used and use the form of CG-based art that this show uses.  Two that come to mind immediately are: Stormhawks and Hot Wheels battle Force 5.  Both shows have gone by the wayside.  By comparison, the current success level of Marvel’s properties would seem to suggest that this program still has some life left in itself.  And if that truly is the case, then fans can expect even more adventures from Tony, Pepper and Roady set against this largely unique CG-based animation style art.  Until then, fans can check out all the adventures from this final quarter of the show’s second season when it hits stores next Tuesday alongside, Iron Man: Armored Adventures: The Complete Season 2.  And for all things Iron Man and Marvel, fans can get all the latest when they “Like” Marvel on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Marvel or check in at the official Marvel website at http://www.marvel.com.

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Fleischer’s Superman Flies Higher Than Ever In New Blu-Ray Re-Issue

Courtesy: Gaiam

Superman is flying again.  And this time it’s thanks not to DC, but to a little company called Gaiam.  Thanks to Gaiam, Max Fleischer’s classic Superman cartoons have been restored and made available once again to the public.  These classic cartoons are an example of everything that was once right with animation.  And now not only can the generation that grew up with these classics enjoy them once more, but so can a whole new generation.  At a time when DC and Marvel are increasingly going toe to toe with one another, churning out feature after feature (both on the big and small screen), this double disc collection is a welcome breath of fresh air for comic book fans the world over.

While there may have been only a grand total of seventeen episodes of Superman created by Max Fleischer between 1941 and 1942, those seventeen episodes are some of the finest animation to ever grace any television screen.  As with so many early pieces of animation, Fleischer and his team of nearly six hundred (yes, nearly six hundred) animators gave Superman its own identity through their work.  This is something that has so sadly been lost in today’s “animated” features.  Being that so many “cartoons” are created via computer, they all look alike.  They’re sterile.  They have no real identity, compared to the likes of Superman.  Sure, older cartoons such as these took massive amounts of time, money, and staff.  But the end result is well worth it.  That is evidenced here.

One might ask how it’s known that Fleischer used nearly six hundred animators and large amounts of money to create Superman.  The answer to that is simple.  The commemorative booklet included in this double disc set gives a full in-depth history lesson on how Fleischer came to ring one of the greatest superheroes of all time to the small screen.  Dr. Thomas R. Reich, Ph.D. explains in the culled information that the shorts collected in this set were the result of discussions between Paramount and Fleischer Studios over a Superman movie.  Because of the costs that the movie would have incurred, the two sides agreed that instead of a Superman movie, Fleischer would break up its movie proposal into what is now one of the earliest of the Superman TV series.  Dr. Reich explains with excruciating detail how the series eventually came to life, and just as soon came to its end.  There are also discussions on Fleischer Studios’ early days creating the likes of Gulliver’s Travels, Betty Boop, and even Popeye.  The bonus booklet even includes a full episode listing with equally in-depth synopsis for each episode.

The bonus booklet included in this new Superman Set offers loads and loads of trivia for audiences.  The story of how these seventeen shorts came to be is enlightening to say the least.  Just as enlightening is the revelation that it’s Fleischer and company who are to be credited with the now famous lines, “Faster than a speeding bullet” and “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”  This is just one more example of the value of this set to audiences.  Valuable information such as this, along with the equally impressive animation and storylines make this Blu-ray re-issue of Max Fleischer’s one of the best kids’ releases of the year.  It also makes it one of the year’s best in the category of general DVD’s and Blu-rays.  It will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, October 30th.

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Iron Man Season 2.5 Offers Even More Action For Fans

Courtesy: Gaiam/Vivendi/Marvel

Iron Man is one of the biggest stars of the comic book world right now thanks to his two most recent solo movies and the brand new Avengers ensemble movie from Marvel.  He’s just as big on the small screen as he is on the small screen, too, thanks to Marvel’s “Iron Man:  Armored Adventures.”  This series, which currently airs on Nicktoons, is a big hit with teen audiences.  That’s because the series focuses on a teen-aged Tony Stark.  He and his fellow young co-stars have to face off against an equally aged Justin Hammer among so many other foes.  Next week, audiences and fans of this CG-based series will be able to watch the second half of the show’s second season any time they want as “Iron Man:  Armored Adventures Season Two Part Two” will be available in stores and online.

“Iron Man:  Armored Adventures Season Two Part Two” finishes off the second season of this hit teen-centric super powered show.  This time out, Tony meets what is almost his match in “Titanium vs. Iron.”  Also, the young Tony meets fellow future Avengers Hawkeye and Black Widow in “The Hawk and The Spider.”  And in one of the season’s most interesting episodes, Tony learns a valuable lesson about having to balance his responsibilities as Iron Man with those of Tony Stark, student, in “All The Best People Are Mad.”  These are just half of the six new episodes included in the new single disc compilation that the show’s fans will enjoy.

Season Two Part Two opens with Tony Stark’s foe, Justin Hammer getting ready to reveal his new armor suit to the military thanks to designs that he stole from Tony.  When Hammer opens the capsule that would have held the suit, he and the others are surprised to see nothing there, setting off Justin.  It’s revealed that the suit has disappeared (along with many of the stolen designs) thanks to Tony.  Just one problem, Tony is eventually discovered as he is trying to delete the design for Hammer’s Titanium Man suit.  That suit comes in to play later when Tony has to face it, not knowing it’s really Hammer in the suit.  Tony and War machine are nearly defeated by Titanium Man.  But thanks to a little help from Pepper, another suit is sent, allowing Tony to defeat Titanium Man.  What happens along the way in this episode is left for viewers to find out for themselves.

Hammer’s not the only problem that Tony has to face in the second half of Season Two.  Tony meets two of his future fellow Avengers in “The Hawk and The Spider.”  When Tony is trying to get his hands on a UI chip that Obadiah Stain has, it’s abruptly stolen from him by Hawkeye, with the help of Black Widow.  Even after they get the chip from Tony, things don’t go too well for them, either.  Hammer comes after them in his Titanium Man suit, and steals the chip from them, forcing Tony, Hawkeye, and Black Widow to team up in order to defeat Hammer.  The end result leaves the door wide open for another encounter later on with both characters.  But to find out what that result is, again, audiences will have to see for themselves.

Fans who have watched Iron Man:  Armored Adventures know that as a teenager, Tony Stark has to face the trials and tribulations not only of facing evil villains, but also of high school.  And in “All The Best People Are Mad”, Tony’s late nights catch up with him when an evil teenage genius (who just happens to be a former classmate of Tony) captures him and his friends in what can only be described as something of an homage to the Saw movie franchise.  Tony is forced to answer a series of questions related to his classes in order to save his friends.  On another angle, this is a good episode in that it also promotes the importance of education in a young person’s life.  Sure it may not be a life or death situation.  But education is still important in every person’s life.  This is just a creative way to sort of illustrate that.  All involved with this episode’s creation are to be commended for including that note without being preachy about it.

Tony faces a lot of challenges as Iron Man, as evidenced here.  Of course, there are even more adventures for audiences to check out for themselves.  This single disc collection of episodes will be available next Tuesday, September 25th

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.