Boom! Studios’ New ‘Mech Cadets’ Collection Will Entertain, Engage Science-Fiction Fans Of All Ages

Courtesy: Boom! Studios
Cover Art by: Brandon J. Carr

Boom! Studios’ comic book series, Mech Cadet Yu is getting a lot of renewed attention this year.  Early this month, the company announced the series was being adapted into a serial series for Netflix.  Having originally debuted in print in 2017 through Boom! Studios, the property is expected to debut on Netflix Aug. 10 in a 10-episode limited run.  The original comic book series is also available in three separate paperback volumes through Boom! Studios.   Today, Boom! Studios has resurrected the original comic book series, so to speak, with the release of the original series’ first 12 issues in the form of the 322-page anthology, Mech Cadets: Book One.  Retailing for $24.99, the collection is a wonderful presentation for a wide range of audiences who might have been otherwise unfamiliar with the title.  The appeal of this collection comes in large part through its featured story, which will be discussed shortly.  The artwork featured in this story also plays into the collection’s appeal and will be examined a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the collection rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the story.  All things considered they make the collection among the best of this year’s graphic novel releases.

Courtesy: Boom! Studios

Mech Cadets: Book One, the “new” collection of stories from Boom! Studios’ Mech Cadet Yu series, is a presentation that will appeal widely to anyone who is otherwise unfamiliar with the series.  This is due in no small part to its featured story.  The story featured across this 300-plus page volume is relatively simple.  It is an underdog story that finds its main character, Stanford Yu – a young janitor at the Sky Corps Academy – becoming the unlikely pilot of a mech robo and joining the battle against threats and attacks from otherworldly beings.  The story features Stanford becoming quick friends with some of the other robo pilots quickly, though his connection with one pilot, Olivia Park, does not start out so smoothly.  That is because Olivia is the daughter of the academy’s head general.  He has hammered some very clearly biased views into her, which come into play right from the story’s outset.  She treats Stanford (who is Chinese American) like he is less than her and the other cadets in the opening scene, going so far as to throw a drink at his feet, saying his place is to be a janitor and clean up others’ messes.  Series’ writer Greg Pak is to be commended here, for the incorporation of this sharp moment, which echoes the racist views of so many people against minorities throughout history.  Even in the not-too-distant future, this shows that sadly, such biases are still as prevalent as ever.  The comment comes back to haunt her however as the story progresses, which will put a smile on many readers’ faces.  What happens to her will be left for readers to discover for themselves, but it plays greatly into Olivia’s personal development, which Pak handles quite well throughout the story.  As a matter of fact, Pak handles the development of each of the characters equally well, and it is just one more aspect of the story that he handles so well throughout each of the volume’s 12 chapters.  The manner in which Pak combines the influences of so many science fiction influences – Asian and American – is just as worthy of applause.

Throughout the course of the overall story’s presentation, readers will easily note the use of young heroes in giant robots fighting monsters from another world to so many science fiction movies and television series.  The first franchise that comes to mind is Japan’s long-running Super Sentai series, which itself led to the birth of one of America’s most famous and long-running action properties in the Power Rangers.  At the same time, audiences can just as easily make comparison to the Pacific Rim movies, what with the design of the interstellar kaiju that the young heroes battle.  Considering that Mech Cadet Yu debuted in 2017, four years after Warner Brothers’ action flick Pacific Rim made its theatrical debut, one can’t help but imagine Pak took some influence from that movie, too. Additionally, audiences familiar with their literary and cinematic history will also catch a clear similarity to author Ted Hughes’ 1968 book, The Iron Giant and its 1999 cinematic adaptation (ironically, also from Warner Brothers).  In researching Boom! Studios’ new release, the comparison is not accidental, as research shows Pak did in fact take influence from said book and movie, so that would account for the connection between Stanford and Buddy (his robot) and even the very look of Buddy.  This matter will be discussed shortly. Getting back on the topic at hand, that Pak was able to take so many obvious influences and combine them into one whole here, without letting the story get away with itself (for lack of better wording) makes the story all the more engaging and entertaining.  The messages of friendship, trust, loyalty, and family all presented here ring soundly thanks to Pak’s ability to so seamlessly combine all of those influences.  The result is a story that will not only engage and entertain readers of so many ages, but also endear the story to all of those readers.

Courtesy: Boom! Studios

There is no doubt that the story featured in Mech Cadets: Book One goes a long way toward making the newly re-issued collection so enjoyable.  It is just part of what readers will appreciate from this collection.  The artwork exhibited throughout the story makes for its own appeal.  As noted already, Park took clear influence from The Iron Giant and its cinematic adaptation for the story, at least to a point.  That extent is not limited just to the story.  The look of Buddy is a rather clear lifting from the alien robot at the center of that story.  When the design of the robot is put alongside that of Buddy it becomes especially clear.  From the shape of Buddy’s eyes to his head to his general body construction, the similarity in body design is intentional.  Staying on this topic for a moment, the bonus content that accompanies the new set shows that the design for Buddy in Mech Cadets is actually quite different from Buddy in Los Robos, the predecessor for Mech Cadet Yu.  His design (and those of the other robots) actually looks more akin to something from the Ultraman franchise than The Iron Giant.  The ridged helmet, the more detailed facial structure and general body structure is completely different.  On a related note, Stanford looks more like one of the younger characters from the original Transformers (and its root Japanese series) in Los Robos whereas in Mech Cadet Yu, he looks a lot more like Ash from the long-running Pokemon franchise, what with the facial deign, hat and hair.  One thing that stays largely the same between Los Robos and Mech Cadet Yu however, is the overall definition of everything.  The use of the coloring in the backgrounds and the rough look of the characters gives the overall property an organic look that is welcome in its own unique way.  Keeping all of this and so much more related to the artwork in mind, the overall artwork used in this series does plenty to make the artwork presented here just as important to the presentation as the story.

The bonus content that accompanies the collection in its new release is just as important to the graphic novel as its primary content.  In the case of this set, the bonus content comes in the form of the original Los Robos one-off and sketches that show the designs of each character.  It is through the presentation of Los Robos that readers can see the clear stylistic difference between that one-off story and that of Mech Cadet Yu.  Another difference that readers will note is that that the general’s child was initially a boy, not a girl, in Los Robos.  Pak does not explain in his introduction here, why the general’s son became a daughter in the process.  It would be interesting to learn that detail.  Either way, the comparison that readers can make in this bonus makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment in its own right.

Courtesy: Boom! Studios

Something Pak does note in his introduction to the Los Robos one-off is that it was always his dream and that of illustrator and series co-creator Takeshi Miyazawa to turn Mech Cadet Yu into an ongoing series.  It looks like now that wish is going to happen as the original limited series will have a brand-new chapter published Aug. 9. According to information released this week by Boom! Studios, the new chapter will pick up where this collection ends.  Olivia has to learn some very hard lessons about responsibility as the pilot of the new mech robo, Hero Force 2.  The Sharg invasion is over, but new revelations that stem from the events of the invasion lead to even more concerns for the Sky Corps and its young cadets.  Knowing that Mech Cadet Yu is getting a whole new life following this collection’s release is even more of a bonus for the series’ fans.  When this and the impact of the other bonus content is considered along with the engagement and entertainment generated through the collection’s story and art, the whole makes Mech Cadets: Book One a worthwhile read for any science fiction and anime fan regardless of their familiarity with this franchise.

Mech Cadets: Book One is a great new beginning for Boom! Studios’ Mech Cadet Yu comic book series and is especially promising for anyone who might be less familiar with the franchise.  That is due in part to its featured story.  The underdog story will resonate with readers of all ages while the lessons of friendship, family, trust, and teamwork will especially resonate with younger readers.  The artwork presented throughout the story adds it own touch to the whole, what with the coloring and character designs.  The bonus content that accompanies the book adds even more to the collection through its presentation of the series’ predecessor, Los Robos.  Reading through the 10-page feature creates even more engagement through the comparisons to its story and design to those featured in Mech Cadet Yu and Mech Cadets: Book One.  The comparison generates more appreciation for both titles.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the book.  All things considered they make Mech Cadets: Book One an enjoyable presentation for so many science-fiction and anime fans.

More information on Mech Cadets: Book One and other titles from Boom! Studios is available at:




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DC Studios’ ‘Black Adam’ Deserves At Least Some Credit

Courtesy: DC Studios/Warner Brothers

Big changes are coming to the DC universe now that James Gunn and Peter Safran have taken over as the new heads of DC Studios.  Those changes will begin this year with the new Flash movie, which will be the company’s answer to Marvel Studios’ multiverse.  The movie will completely reset the entire DC cinematic (and television) universe.  New movies centered on Superman and Supergirl alike are already planned for the new universe, as well as a new Batman movie.  Swamp Thing is even getting a new try on the big screen under the watchful eyes of Gunn and Safran while Blue Beetle is getting its first ever outing, and Aquaman is getting at least one more outing.  Beyond that, little else is known about the cinematic side of things for DC Studios.

The uncertainty of DC Studios’ future beyond its first phase is important to note due to the results of two of its most recent connected movies, Shazam: Fury of the Gods and Black Adam.  Neither proved a success at the box office, with the latter resulting in an even worse result than the former in regard to their respective ticket sales.  While audiences wait to find out whether stars Zachary Levi (Shazam) and Dwayne Johnson (Black Adam) will finally face off down the road, they can at least take in Black Adam on 4K UHD/Blu-ray combo pack, Blu-ray and DVD.  Released to its home physical platforms Jan. 3, the movie proves itself a movie worth watching at least once that also opens the door for future movies leading up to a bigger Justice Society movie.  The movie proves itself worth watching at least once because of its story, which will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home physical release adds to the reason for audiences to watch the movie.  This will be discussed a little later.  The cast’s work on camera adds its own share of engagement and entertainment, too, so it will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Black Adam.  All things considered they make Black Adam maybe not the best of DC Studios’ offerings but also not its worst.

Black Adam was one of the last movies to be entered into the DCEU before the entrance of James Gunn and Peter Safras as the new heads of DC Studios and while not a great movie, it also is not the worst of DC Studios’ previous generation.  As a matter of fact, it actually is worth watching at least once.  That is due in part to its story.  The story is simple: Black Adam is freed from his prison of sorts after more than 5,000 years because a professor named Adrianna (played by Sarah Shahi – Alias, Old School, Bullet to the Head) summons him.  She summons him because she and her brother, Karim (Mohammed Amer – Mo, Americanish), are about to be killed by a group of mercenaries.  As a result of him being freed from his prison (He was put in the prison by the same wizards whose powers would eventually be the source of Shazam’s own power), Black Adam is still very angry and takes out his anger on those mercenaries.  From there, he goes on to face off against the members of the Justice Society, who are there to essentially apprehend him because of the danger that he poses in their eyes.  The danger lies in what the Justice Society knows about Black Adam’s history.  At first the two sides are at odds, but as the bigger story unfolds, Black Adam ends up on the side of the Justice Society just as he occasionally would in the comics world, in order to stop an evil force from the pits of Hell.  Of course, the collective ends up defeating the big bad in the end when they put aside their differences and finally fight together, and honestly the story is tied up nicely.  To that end, the concerns raised in the media about whether a sequel will ever come for Black Adam under the new DC Studios regime really should be a moot point.  Yes, there could be a second movie, but the way in which the story closes, it does just as well as a standalone story.  Add in that in the comics realm, Black Adam only comes into focus every now and then, and that negates the need for an immediate sequel.

Throughout the course of the story, the writing team of Adam Sztykiel, Rory Haines, and Sohrab Noshirvani does well to make sure Black Adam’s turn and the Justice Society’s role in that turn does not cause the story to get bogged down in itself.  That is definitely to be applauded.  There could have been so much ruminating on Adam’s history, but thankfully, the trio of writers save that back story for a brief sequence late in the story, allowing instead, the bigger story play out first.  It all plays out so well.

Another side item worth noting in the story is the subtle political commentary addressing America’s involvement in foreign nations.  The topic comes up more than once, the most notable moment coming as Adrianna chides Hawkman (Aldis Hodge – Die Hard with a Vengeance, One Night in Miami…, Hidden Figures) for the Justice Society’s sudden appearance in Kahndaq after no outside nation had come to the country for decades, allowing the country to be controlled for such a long time.  This is just one of a handful of moments when the topic is addressed and thankfully does not overpower the story, either, but certainly cannot be ignored.

Now for all of the good that the writing team does in this story, it is not entirely perfect.  There are some plot holes so to speak, the most notable being why exactly Adrianna is even searching for the crown in the first place.  She makes the statement at one point that the crown belonged in a museum, so was that why she wanted to find the cursed powerful crown?  This is never really explained away, and in turn does create some problems in the story’s bigger picture.  Ironically, if not for her search for the crown, Black Adam might never have been woken and Kahndaq might never had been liberated from the mercenaries and their evil grip.  To that end, one could argue that this somewhat negates that primary plot hole.  Keeping that in mind, it is easy to argue that the writing exhibited in Black Adam is for the most part a positive that works well for the movie’s presentation.

Building on the foundation formed through Black Adam’s writing is the bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home release.  The bonus content is presented on the movie’s Blu-ray disc in its 4K UHD/BD combo pack and obviously on the BD disc on the standalone Blu-ray format.  This is important to note because as this critic has noted so many times previously in other reviews, 4K technology is still so cost prohibitive today that not everyone has a 4K UHD BD player and/or TV.  Most people have Blu-ray players and standard hi-def monitors.  So by placing the bonus content on the BD disc on both platforms ensures a wider range of viewers will get to take in said content.

Now keeping all of this in mind, there is plenty of bonus content for everyone to enjoy, beginning with the separate bonus features focusing on the history of Black Adam and the Justice Society in the comics realm.  The separate features serve as wonderful starting points for those viewers who might be less familiar with their histories.  In learning said histories, those noted viewers could ultimately end up becoming new fans of both properties and end up looking for the original comics.  On another note, learning through both features that Johnson himself is a lifelong comic book fan is another positive for the comic book community.  That is because people who are fans of Johnson but who might have otherwise not been fans of comic books might now be encouraged to become fans themselves.  The “making of” featurette – titled here, “From Soul to Screen” adds even more depth to the viewing experience as it takes audiences into more depth in the movie.  Audiences will be especially interested to learn here, that instead of just using so much green screen and special effects, the movie’s crew and creative heads opted instead for another technology to help make each scene more realistic in its look, and it pays off greatly, too.  The tech in question is something known as LED screens.  The screens play the actual backgrounds that are used throughout the movie.  They allow the cast to actually see what they otherwise would have had to envision with a green screen, which clearly plays into not only the look of the movie, but the cast’s performance.

Speaking of the cast’s performance, the ability to see what they are doing in each scene definitely plays into the appeal of the cast’s work.  It is just part of what plays into that appeal, too.  Even in moments when the LED screens are not being overly used, the cast puts on plenty of enjoyable performances, not the least of comes from Noah Centineo (The Perfect Date, Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before).  Centineo plays the part of Atom Smasher, one of the younger members of the Justice Society’s current makeup.  He essentially serves as the cast’s comic relief throughout the movie, but in doing so he makes the most of his time on screen.  There is something about his comic timing that harkens to Tobey Maguire’s take of Peter Parker in Marvel’s Sam Raimi-helmed Spiderman movies.  Not to mention a movie from another studio and comic book company, but the comparison is inescapable.  That certain lack of confidence even as he is trying to learn the ropes makes for plenty of enjoyment.  Centineo could have hammed it up in his moments on screen, but he opts for the less is more approach, making for so much enjoyment.  One can only hope that should a Justice Society movie be part of DC Studios’ future schedule, he will be part of that movie.  It would be interesting to see a more developed persona for Atom Smasher, should that happen.  No doubt he would do well.

Quintessa Swindell (Voyagers, Master Gardener), who takes on the role of another younger Justice Society member named Cyclone, puts on just as much of an enjoyable performance even though she seems to get even less screen time and even lines.  She spends more time as a supporting character, but in the few moments she gets to interact with her cast mates, she does an admirable job.  One of those very rare moments comes as she explains to Atom Smasher how she got her powers.  As with Centineo, hopefully she will have more presence in the future, should a standalone Justice Society movie be in the cards.

Pierce Brosnan (Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Mrs. Doubtfire) deserves just as much applause as he takes on the role of Dr. Fate.  His calm demeanor even in the most tense situations makes him an expert counter to Hodge’s more intense performance as Hawkman.  The counterpoint that the two create through their respective performances shows a definite chemistry between the actors off screen.  That apparent chemistry makes for so much enjoyment watching the duo share lines.

The members of the Justice Society are not the only cast members who deserve credit for their work.  Johnson deserves his own share of applause as the movie’s titular character.  The controlled demeanor that he presents as Black Adam is first awoken is actually quite powerful in its subtlety.  He could have so easily just done the typical thing and gone all out as has been done in so many situations in other movies by other actors.  Thankfully he did no go that route, instead showing that brewing, controlled anger.  It makes Black Adam come across as that much more dangerous right from the outset.  That is because even as powerful and destructive as he is, he does not necessarily show a lot of deference to anyone, save for Adrianna.  It is a great way to set up Black Adam especially as Adam’s change takes place over the course of the story.

On another note, his deadpan delivery about showing respect to prisoners as Adam tries to show sarcasm is so subdued, and that actually makes for another funny moment that real fans will find enjoyable.  On a similar note, his dogged determination to find Amon (Bodhi Sabongui – The Baby-Sitters Club, A Million Little Things) is just as powerful.  That is because even as clear as it is that he is determined to catch Amon’s kidnappers, there is a certain control in Adam’s presence.  Again, in so many other similar style action flicks, such sequences are over blown, but in this case, the control that he gives Adam actually makes his concern for Amon so wonderfully understated, and that makes for its own appeal for Adam.  Between these moments and others throughout the movie, Johns proves his performance is just as engaging and entertaining as those presented by his cast mates.  All things considered, the cast’s overall work throughout the movie makes for just as much appeal for this presentation as the movie’s story and its bonus content.  That overall content comes together to make Black Adam a movie that deserves to be seen at least once.

Black Adam, one of the last of DC Studios’ movies released prior to DCU’s forthcoming reset, is an interesting finale note to the company’s previous cinematic realm.  It is not the company’s best nor worst entries and deserves to be seen at least once.  That is proven in part through its relatively simple story, which tells how Black Adam became an unsuspecting her in the modern world even despite (and because of) his past.  It makes him an anti-hero figure that audiences will root for because of his imperfections.  People, for some reason, go for that brooding style persona, and will here, too.  The story does not waste a lot of time setting things up or even ruminating on Black Adam’s motivations and feelings, either.  Those discussions are there, but thankfully are limited in their use.  This makes for solid pacing, and in turn, sustained engagement and entertainment for audiences.  The bonus material that accompanies the movie in its home physical release adds to the interest in the movie.  That is because of the background that it provides on a variety of topics, including and not limited to the comic book history of Black Adam and the Justice Society.  The bonus content that focuses on the movie’s production elements makes for its own interest and in turn increases that engagement and entertainment.  The cast’s overall work builds even more on the presentation, with each main actor giving his and her own enjoyable performance.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered they make Black Adam a movie that while not the best or worst of DC Studios’ offerings in recent years, a presentation that is still a mostly enjoyable superhero flick.

Black Adam is available on 4K UHD/BD combo pack, Blu-ray, and DVD.  More information on this and other cinematic offerings from DC is available at:



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‘League Of Super Pets’ Is Not Super, But Still Worth Watching

Courtesy: Warner Brothers/Warner Animation Group/DC Entertainment

In 2005 when Warner Brothers brought Superman’s canine friend Krypto to the small screen in his own series, it marked the first time ever that any of the DC Entertainment Universe’s animal superheroes had ever gotten its own attention.  Prior to the series’ premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers had only focused on DC’s human and superhuman stars, so it was a key step in the companies’ attempt to expand DC’s comics to screen universe.  The series less than two years from March 2005 to December 2006, spanning just two seasons and even incorporated Krypto’s original Legion of Superheroes cohort Streaky the cat.  After the series ended, Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment largely abandoned any plans for any future Super Pets properties on TV and in theaters.  However, late last month, the companies brought some of DC’s super pets back to the screen again, this time in theaters in the form of League of Super Pets.  The movie, which made its theatrical debut July 29, is a mostly entertaining presentation, though is not perfect.  The main positive in this movie is its story, which will be discussed shortly.  While the story is enjoyable for the whole family (albeit not entirely accurate to the comics), the story does have one troubling aspect, that being the use of some adult language.  This will be discussed a little later.  It is not enough to doom the movie, so to that end, there is at least one more positive to note in the form of the cast’s work.  This will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this movie.  All things considered they make League of Super Pets a mostly successful new take on DC’s Legion of Super Pets comic book and new family flick.

League of Super Pets, DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers’ latest addition to the ever-expanding DC Entertainment Universe, is a mostly successful overall presentation.  The movie’s story is really the key to its success.  The story in question finds Krypto, Superman’s canine friend having to assemble a group of super powered animals to help save the big blue boy scout after a guinea pig named Lulu (voiced by Kate McKinnon – Ghostbusters, Saturday Night Live, Bombshell) bent on world domination kidnaps him and the rest of the Justice League members.  The other animals (which are not original members of the League of Super Pets from the 1962 comic book), gained their powers thanks to some orange kryptonite that broke off of an orange kryptonite meteorite and was captured by said megalomaniacal guinea pig.  The unexpected group of heroes ends up saving the day after Lex Luthor turns on Lulu, and Krypto learns a valuable lesson about friendship along the way.  Meanwhile, the other Super Pets – Ace, Chip, Merton, and PB – all end up being rescued and adopted by the other Justice League members.  There is some accuracy and inaccuracy here.  Ace has always been known to be Batman’s dog, while Chip has had a tie to the Green Lantern Corps.  PB meanwhile was never Wonder Woman’s pet.  She was Circes’ pet in the comics, but that can be forgiven.  The very message about the importance of rescuing shelter pets that is clearly tied into the story makes that forgivable.  Shelter pets need forever homes, so having that accented here in a less than preachy fashion is so welcome.  The friendships between Krypto and the group will resonate with audiences of all ages as the group takes on Lulu and Lex.

While the story featured in League of Super Pets is engaging and entertaining, there is at least one problem within the story.  That problem is the use of some adult language throughout the movie.  The language in question comes from Merton (voiced by Natasha Lyonne – Orange is the New Black, American Pie, Slums of Beverly Hills).  Lyonne is not to blame here, but rather the movie’s writers.  There are points where Merton clearly is meant to be using a certain foul word since it is bleeped out.  At other points, she uses clearly other foul language that is also bleeped out.  Merton is not the only one who uses some questionable language.  There is a young kitten (yes, a kitten – IE child) who says to the super pets, “See you in heck” as it tries to kill them.  Considering that this movie is rated PG and is meant to be a family friendly flick, having that language in there, even censored, is still disappointing.  That the movie’s writers and creative heads felt the need to go blue in a family movie really does detract from the movie’s appeal, and parents need to be aware of this aspect. 

While the questionable language that is peppered throughout the movie is problematic, it is not enough to make the movie a failure.  The work of the movie’s cast works with the story to make for more appeal.  Dwayne Johnson leads the way as Krypto.  At first, the announcement that he was going to take on the role was questioned by many, and justifiably so.  That is because of his current body of work.  His current body of work is composed of action flicks and very specific tough guy type roles.  It leads one to imagine Johnson giving Krypto such style persona.  Thankfully that was not the case.  He actually made Krypto endearing, showing his ability to adapt to the role. 

On a related note, Kevin Hart, who has also developed himself into a very specific type of actor, pulls back here, too.  His typically annoying, over the top approach to his roles is nonexistent here, which is appealing.  The vulnerability that he brings to Ace as Ace talks abut how he ended up at the shelter balances well with Ace’s more confident side to make Ace a well-rounded character in his own right.  McKinnon really does well in her own right to bring out Lulu’s megalomaniacal nature, too.  She does so well to make Lulu’s diabolical nature so funny and believable at the same time.  Between the performances put on by Johnson, Hart, and McKinnon, and those of the rest of the cast, the whole makes the cast’s overall work just as engaging as the movie’s story.  Those two items together make the movie in general worth watching at least once, even with the concerns of the occasional unnecessary foul language in mind.

League of Super Pets, the latest addition to Warner Brothers and DC’s ever-expanding universe, is an interesting presentation.  It succeeds in part because of its story.  The story finds Krypto having to form a new group of furry super powered friends to save the Justice League.  Along the way, he also has to learn about friendship and teamwork, which will resonate with plenty of audiences. While the story featured in this movie is accessible for audiences of all ages, the occasional use of some questionable language is disappointing.  That is the case even with it being censored.  There was no need for the movie’s writers to go blue and ruin what is otherwise a family friendly atmosphere throughout the story.  It is not enough to doom the movie but is certainly a concern.  The cast’s work pairs with the story to make for more engagement and entertainment.  That is because the cast’s performances are so believable.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of this movie.  All things considered League of Super Pets proves maybe not super but still worth watching at least once.

League of Super Pets is playing now.  The movie’s home release date is under consideration.  More information on this and other titles from Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment is available at

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‘The Batman’ Is The Most Unique Batman Movie To Date

Courtesy: Warner Brothers/DC Entertainment

More than 83 years ago, Batman, one of the world’s most famous comic book characters, made his first appearance in the May 1939 issue of Detective Comics (Issue #27).  In the nearly 85 years since the Dark Knight made his debut on the printed page, he has had countless stories told both in print and on screen.  Fans of all ages have their favorite version of the big, black bat (longtime fans will get that reference) throughout that time, too.  Audiences got a whole new story of Batman in March when Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment debuted The Batman.  This take of the Batman mythos is the most unique addition to the Batman universe to date.  That is due in large part to its collective presentation style and story, which will be discussed shortly.  The cast’s work on screen makes for its own interest and will be discussed a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in is recent home release is just as much of note as the movie’s primary content and will also be examined hater.  Each item noted here plays its own important part in the movie’s overall presentation.  All things considered they make this movie one more of this year’s top new theatrical releases.

The Batman, the latest addition to Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment’s decades-long series of Batman movies, is the single most unique entry in that realm.  It is completely separate unlike any of its predecessors both in terms of its stylistic approach and its story, both of which are tied together.  It is the first time in the franchise’s history that a Batman movie has been so gritty and that one of the franchise’s movies has focused more on story than say special effects and Batman’s gadgets (including the Batmobile).  As writer/director Matt Reeves points out in the movie’s bonus content (which will be discussed later), the intent here was to craft a movie that was in fact a detective story, not just another comic book to film tale.  It was meant to present Batman doing what he has done best for decades, solving mysteries.  In this case, it found Batman trying to solve the mystery of The Riddler’s sadistic, homicidal quest to bring his own justice to Gotham City before The Riddler can commit his crimes.  It is more of a hard-boiled film noir style presentation than the movies that audiences have come to know over the decades, and that is wholly a good thing.  There is no 1960s-era cheekiness here.  There is not even any of Tim Burton’s approach here.  If anything, this clearly Hush-esque story feels more like a natural progression of the gritty approach taken by Reeves’ predecessor, Christopher Nolan, in his Batman trilogy.  As noted, the focus is on Batman/Bruce Wayne’s abilities as a human detective and less on his toys (again, longtime Batman fans will get that reference), and that really is a nice change of pace.  That unique approach really gives the movie its own identity separate from the other Batman movies out there.  What’s more even being as long as it is (clocking in at just shy of 3 hours), the story still manages to keep audiences engaged and entertained even despite the issues posed by that length and related pacing.

Speaking of the movie’s run time and pacing, that really does collectively detract from the viewing experience.  From beginning to end, there is so much brooding, even more than ever before.  What’s more, there are so many plot elements and so many twists and turns that the story really does get bogged down in itself by the end.  Speaking of the end, it seems like Reeves and company could not seem to figure out how to end the movie.  From Falcone’s arrest to the chase with the Penguin, to Edward’s arrest and the long sequence that follows, there is just so much in the final act that it is too much.  Reeves and company could have ended the movie at so many points therein, but in going on as long as they did, it makes the story feel that much more like it just plods along.  Considering that the story already plods along at such a slow pace as is, that only hurts it that much more.  Keeping that in mind, the story is unique but is far from perfect.  It really requires audiences to fully immerse themselves in the story and be ready and willing to sit through it all.  Those who are ready and willing to sit through it all will agree that the story is, again, unique, just too long for itself.  It is not enough to doom the story, but certainly does detract from the movie’s overall presentation.

While the story featured in The Batman is a mixed bag, something that is more of a positive overall is the work of the movie’s cast.  Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga) plays the part of a troubled young Bruce Wayne surprisingly well here.  He is actually that believable as he takes on what is one of the most iconic roles in modern movie history.  There are no hints of that glittery vampire that he portrayed in the Twilight saga.  Here, audiences get from him a Bruce Wayne/Batman who is emotionally lost.  He is trying to make sense of the tragedy that had consumed Bruce for such a long time.  Perhaps part of the reason that he does so well is that this movie is not just another origin story.  This is not even a Year One story (which is also discussed in the bonus content).  This is Bruce Wayne at a pivotal point in his life and role as Gotham’s protector, coming of age in a manner of speaking.  Pattinson’s ability to interpret Bruce’s emotional and mental state here is so immersive, so kudos goes to him for his performance.

On another note, co-star Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, 12 Years a Slave, Little Miss Sunshine) is just as noteworthy in his diabolical performance as The Riddler/Edward Nash (yes, they changed his last name here, more of a sign of how far this movie branches from the roots of the Batman mythos).  Edward’s performance, the killer instinct that he brings out in this portrayal, immediately conjures thoughts of the villain in Se7en.  From bludgeoning one official to death, to beating another within half an inch of his life and putting a bomb around his neck, to his maniacal sense that he and Batman were two sides of the same coin (wonder is that a foreshadowing of what is to come in the future for Batman?) as he sits on the other side of the glass in Arkham, Dano does so much right with this version of The Riddler.  He really is about as sociopathic and homicidal as the late great Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.  Yes, that is a lofty statement, but it is true.  The way in which he makes The Riddle rant to his followers in his internet posts really brings out that psychotic nature even more.  Overall, Dano is well-deserving of his own applause here.  He makes it that easy for audiences to be shocked by The Riddler and hate Edward.

Dano’s performance is just one more of the most notable in this movie.  Colin Farrell (Daredevil, S.W.A.T., In Bruges) puts on his own powerful performance.  Considering Farrell is not American (just like Pattinson), he makes his accent fully believable at the foundation of his performance.  That foundation is bolstered by his full-on mobster style take on Oswald Cobblepot.  Rather than making “Oz” just another comic book character, Farrell makes The Penguin more of a gangster type name than character with a bunch of bird-themed gadgets, etc.  Again, this is another way in which the movie continues to separate itself from all of the other Batman movies out there.  He makes Oz a character that audiences will love just as much as love to hate.  He is just that impressive in every one of his on-screen moments.  When his performance is considered along with those of Dano, Pattinson, and the rest of the cast, the overall work of the cast is so worthy of applause.  The cast’s work handling the script makes that extensively long, plodding story more bearable.  As a result, audiences will manage to remain engaged in the story to the end, so again, the cast’s work proves just as important here as the story.

The work of the cast interpreting the script in this movie is impressive to say the least.  It is the cast’s work alongside the unique hard-boiled noir detective story here that really makes The Batman worth watching.  This is especially important to note because of the movie’s run time and plodding pacing.  Those elements are just part of what makes the movie bearable.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its recent home release rounds out its most important elements.  The content is extensive, taking on the movie’s creation from pre-production to wrap in its longest feature, which runs just shy of an hour.  Also addressed through the various extras as the makeup and costuming for Selena Kyle/Catwoman, Edward/The Riddler, and Bruce/Batman.  Audiences are also treated to an in-depth examination of the Batmobile, from its creation to its testing and how the movie’s big chase scene came to life.  Audiences also get an interesting look at Batman’s “relationship” with The Riddler, how The Riddler’s view on justice and vengeance inadvertently leads Batman/Bruce to eventually change his view on whether Gotham City is worth saving.  Dano’s discussion here is really eye-opening.  That is because it shows Dano really has an understanding and in turn appreciation for that duality between the lead antagonist and protagonist.  The discussion on how Selena slowly transforms into what will become Catwoman is another interesting albeit brief discussion.  That is because it outlines the personal emotional issues that she faces, finding out the truth of her mother and the role of Falcone (who is played just as well by John Turturro – O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Quiz Show, Barton Fink) in what happened to her mother.  It makes audiences look forward to what star Zoe Kravitz (X-Men: First Class, Mad Max: Fury Road, Divergent) will bring to the role in the next Batman movie.  Each of the bonus features that come with the movie’s home release clearly offer audiences plenty to appreciate.  When they are all considered together, they offer just as much to appreciate if not more than that of the story itself.  Keeping that in mind, when the bonus content featured here is considered along with the movie’s story and the cast’s work therein, the whole makes The Batman a unique new addition to the Batman mythos that while not “your grandad’s Batman” is still well worth watching.

The Batman, Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment’s latest addition to the expansive Batman cinematic and TV universe, is a unique presentation.  Its uniqueness is partly due to its featured story.  The story here is not just another typical Batman movie that focuses on Batman’s gadgets and all of the cliché villain portrayals.  Rather, it is a deep hard-boiled crime noir story that is full of twists and turns.  Given there are perhaps too many of those twists and turns throughout, and too many endings in the final act, but the overall story is still worth watching for those who are ready and willing to sit through its nearly 3-hour run time thanks to that overall story and approach.  The cast’s work interpreting the extensive script is a saving grace.  From one actor to the next, every cast member does his and her own important part in making the otherwise plodding story bearable.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its home release rounds out the movie’s most important elements.  That is because of all of the background that it offers audiences.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of this movie.  All things considered they make the movie not the best of the year’s new theatrical releases, but still one of the best.

The Batman is available now.  More information on this and other titles from DC Entertainment is available at

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Kids, Grown-Ups Alike Had Lots To Like From 2021’s New DVD/BD Box Sets

Courtesy: Arrow Video

Between families and grown-ups, plenty of positive content has been released this year on DVD and Blu-ray in the form of newly released box sets. Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon’s full series presentation of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Arrow Video’s classic creature feature collection, Cold War Creatures, and the latest collection of classic Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood do well to support the noted statements. Between them and so many others, there is more than enough to create a list of this year’s top new DVD/BD box sets overall. Enter Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Box Sets.

As with every other list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the top 10 titles from this year as well as five honorable mention titles for a total of 15. There’s already some positive news about new releases coming in the new year about new box sets, but in the meantime, the titles on this list will help people pass the time. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Box Sets list.


1.Cold War Creatures

2. The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The Complete Series

3. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Mister Rogers Meets New Friends Collection

4. All Creatures Great & Small: Season 1

5. The Watch

6. How To Train Your Dragon: Ultimate Collection

7. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Tigertastic 50 Pack

8. Jekyll & Hyde

9. Spongebob Squarepants: Season 12

10. Rugrats: The Complete Series

11. Star Trek Discovery: Season 3

12. Doom Patrol: Season 2

13. Josie & The Pussycats In Outer Space: The Complete Series

14. Human: The World Within

15. Thundarr The Barbarian: The Complete Series

Okay that it’s for this list. There is still one more list to go for this year. It will come tomorrow in the form of the year’s top new family friendly DVDs/ Stay tuned!

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Grown-Ups Had Just As Much To Enjoy As Younger Audiences In All The New TV Box Sets

Courtesy: Arrow Video

This year offered lots for families to enjoy together in the way of television and movies.  It also offered plenty for older viewers, whether those audiences needed the occasional break from the more family friendly fare or just needed and wanted something to enjoy.  Between imports and domestic releases, this year’s field of new viewing options for grown-ups offered much to appreciate. 

DC and Warner Brothers’ second season of Doom Patrol, BBC America’s The Watch (It is sadly still unknown if the show will get a renewal for a second season) offered plenty of enjoyment in their own right.  Meanwhile, CBS/Paramount’s third season of Star Trek: Discovery finally got that ship righted.  Along with so many domestic and import releases from PBS and other sets from WB and DC, this year’s field of new offerings for older audiences helped audiences escape and relax every day.  So much new content was released that it gave Phil’s Picks more than enough for another annual list of the year’s top new offerings in said field. 

As with every list from Phil’s Picks, this list offers the Top 10 new entries in said field alongside five additional honorable mentions for a total of 15 titles.  Each entry in this list is deserving of applause in its own right, too.  Without further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2021 Top 10 New Grown-Up DVD/BD Box Sets.


  1. Cold War Creatures
  1. All Creatures Great & Small: Season 1
  1. Doom Patrol: Season 2
  1. The Watch
  1. Miss Scarlet & The Duke: Season 1
  1. Human: The World Within
  1. Jekyll & Hyde
  1. Star Trek Discovery: Season 3
  1. Black Lightning: Season 4
  1. Superman & Lois: Season 1
  1. Star Trek Lower Decks: Season 1
  1. Finding Your Roots: Season 6
  1. Finding Your Roots: Season 7
  1. The Twilight Zone: Season 2
  1. Star Trek Discovery: Seasons 1-3

That’s it for this list, but before the attention turns from the box sets, there is still one more category to check in on tomorrow.  That category is the year’s top new DVD/BD box sets overall between the stuff for families and that for older audiences.  From there, later this week, the attention will turn toward the year’s top new family DVDs and BDs to finish this year’s field of year-end lists.  So there’s still plenty to come.  That means as always, stay tuned!

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Shout! Factory, Arrow Video, Others Offer Audiences Plenty Of Alternatives To All The Prequels, Sequels, and Remakes Hitting Theaters, Streaming Services

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

It seems like ever year, audiences everywhere are seeing an increase in the number of classic TV shows and movies that were once popular everywhere they go.  It really is a sad state of affairs.  Of course that is not the only avenue in which older content is getting renewed so to speak.  The originals also get new life every now and then on DVD and Blu-ray through various distributors, sometimes in better form than others and vice versa.  This year saw a handful of classic TV shows and movies get some laudable re-issues and some less so. 

What is most interesting about this year’s field of top new DVD and BD re-issues is the wide range of companies that released said titles.  It shows that along with the likes of Shout! Factory – which has made quite the name for itself over the years in the home entertainment field – other familiar and up-and-coming names are really working to make their names known in that field, too, such as Arrow Video and Corinth Films, making for so much more variety.

From Shout! Factory’s re-issue of Explorers, to Arrow Video’s re-issue of the original Dune, to even Mill Creek Entertainment’s re-issue of the classic, short-lived animated series, The Critic, this year’s re-issues and the companies that released them offered audiences plenty of alternatives to the never-ending ocean of prequels, sequels, and reboots that filled theaters and streaming services this year.  As with every list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the Top 10 titles in the given category with five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15.  This year’s list was not easy to compile but is complete.

Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New DVD/BD Re-Issues.


  1. Explorers
  1. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Series
  1. The Final Countdown
  1. The Belles of St. Trinian’s
  1. Ken Burns’ Baseball
  1. The Rolling Stones: A Bigger BangLive at Copacabana Beach
  1. Dune
  1. Motorhead: No Sleep Till Hammersmith
  1. The Interrogation
  1. The Snake Girl and the Silver Haired Witch
  1. The Transformers: The Movie
  1. Superman: The Animated Series
  1. The Critic: The Complete Series
  1. Star Trek: The Original Series
  1. Emergency: The Complete Series

It should be stressed here that in the case of Emergency and Star Trek, those two series sets are intentionally set at the bottom of this year’s list as, their positives are few.  They are the least of the year’s best new re-issues.  Audiences would do well to largely avoid these sets.  There is a reason they are at the bottom of even the honorable mention titles.  Keeping that in mind, this year’s list of top new DVD and BD re-issues is officially wrapped.  There are still plenty of other lists coming, such as the year’s top new box sets for grown-ups, families, and even family DVDs/BDs.  Stay tuned!

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‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Is The Worst Of DC, Warner Brothers’ Superhero Flicks So Far

Courtesy: DC/Warner Brothers

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.  Everybody knows that old adage.  Warner Brothers and DC’s recent presentation (and home release) of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is proof positive of that old adage.  Released through HBO Max after years of protest by Snyder’s minions, the movie was released this summer on DVD and Blu-ray.  Given, the original 2017 cut (which used only part of Snyder’s work before his departure from the project) was hardly memorable, it is far better by comparison than the Snyder cut.  This four-hour presentation is even worse than the movie’s original 2017 cut, and that is saying something, too.  There is little if anything to like about this take of Justice League.  The most prominent problem with the Snyder Cut is its story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The story ties into another prominent problem, the pacing.  Rounding out the movie’s problems is its general presentation.  This item will also be discussed later.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.  All things considered, they make the movie the least memorable of DC and Warner Brothers’ DC titles to date.

Warner Brothers and DC’s presentation of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is proof positive that people really should be careful what they wish for.  That is because while its 2017 predecessor is not necessarily the greatest of the companies’ offerings, it is also not their worst.  That dishonor belongs to the recently premiered (and home released) “Snyder Cut” of Justice League.  The movie suffers from so many problems, not the least of which being its story.  The story, which runs four hours, two minutes in length, is marred right from the get go.  The first two hours are spent building up the background for each member of the Justice League.  The story plods along as a result of this, leading to an issue in the pacing, which will be discussed a little later.  It is not even until almost two hours into the movie that audiences finally get the movie’s first fight scene between the Justice League’s members and Steppenwolf.  This critic is a lifelong DC fan, but this approach to the movie’s first half is completely counterproductive.  By comparison, Marvel Studios did create a number of movies for each member of the Avengers.  There is not denying that.  At the same time though, those movies do all of the buildup for the key characters, thus allowing more time for more important elements in the big final presentation that was the Infinity Saga.  This is the model that DC should have used from day one for its Justice League buildup.  DC and Warner Brothers sort of tried that with Wonder Woman and Man of Steel (which was terrible to say the least in itself) but what with so many batman movies out there, it was next to impossible to figure out how to build up his back story and make it work for this story.  The companies also tried a setup for Green Lantern in 2011, but that movie flopped, with even star Ryan Reynolds decrying the movie in hindsight.  It likely explains why the Green Lantern Corps was mentioned only in passing in this movie.  Add in everything from the story’s epilogue and things get even more problematic.  The whole just adds too much to the whole.  Perhaps the only true positive (or really positives) is Steppenwolf’s acknowledgement of the multi-verse at one point in the story and the Joker’s mention of alternate timelines in the movie’s epilogue.  Considering all the talk of the Flashpoint crossover and the Crisis on Infinite Earths in the DCEU’s television world, it all actually ties together at least a little better.  Though, the use of what is apparently a Lazarus Pit in Superman’s ship and everything else that went into the story of his resurrection offsets all of that, too.  Simply put, the whole of the movie’s story is forgettable.  It simply tries too hard and falls flat.

As noted already, the pacing tied in to the story makes for even more problems for this presentation.  Because of all of the brooding and buildup in the movie’s first half, things really do plod along at nearly a snail’s pace.  Again, if that buildup had been relegated to the standalone movies for the JL’s members, then the story could have just gotten right to the point and moved along at a much more pleasant pace.  What’s more, the epilogue involving Bruce Wayne’s dream (what proves to set up an alternate reality story line) and everything involving Cyborg’s story slows things down even more, as does the completely random meeting of Deathstroke/Slade Wilson and Lex Luthor.  It’s like Snyder just threw that in like so much more and thought it would work.  Sadly it just slows things down once again after the movie could have ended following Steppenwolf’s defeat (not to give away too much).  Simply put, the movie moves too slow too often and just the right speed at too few spots.  The result is that the pacing proves just as problematic as the movie’s story.

As if the negative impact of the story and its pacing are not enough, the general presentation is also problematic.  Audiences who are familiar with Zack Snyder’s work will easily catch the over the top slow motion effects, and the blood and gore.  He follows the same stylistic approach throughout this movie, with more than enough bloodshed (and even Superman holding a skeleton at one point) to appease the most bloodthirsty viewers.  Such approach really is disappointing, as is the unnecessary use of so much foul language and dark, gritty look throughout the story.  People go to movies to escape the grim reality of reality, not to be exposed to even more grim, brooding presentations.  Snyder needs to realize and just accept this.  When and if he ever does, it will hopefully change his ways.  Otherwise, audiences are just going to get the same kind of presentation from Snyder from one movie to the next.  Hopefully, keeping this in mind, DC and Warner Brothers will employ Snyder less as time goes on.  Between this realization and that of the negative impact of the movie’s story and pacing, all three elements leave the movie a nearly complete failure.  The introduction of the Martian Manhunter (a.k.a. J’on Jonzz) is about the only positive, as it and Darkseid’s determination to get the Mother Boxes sets up more Justice League movies; movies that hopefully will not be written or even helmed by Zack Snyder.

Warner Brothers and DC’s recently released presentation that is Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a problematic new presentation from the companies.  There is little if anything to like about this movie.  Really the only positive that it has is that it sets up another Justice League movie that hopefully will not be helmed or written by Zack Snyder.  There was also the acknowledgement of the multiverse and alternate timelines, which aligns it (to a point) with DC’s television offerings.  What with the new Flash movie coming, it would seem that said presentation will take those mentions into account.  That is because the Flashpoint storyline did in fact involve Darkseid and Steppenwolf following its events in the comics.  Other than that, the movie fails with its story and pacing, as well as its general presentation.  All things considered, Zack Snyder’s Justice League proves to be the worst of DC and Warner Brothers’ superhero offerings to date. 

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  More information on this and other DC titles from Warner Brothers is available at  

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at  

‘Doom Patrol: Season Two’ Is A Successful New Entry To One Of DC’s Most Unique Properties

Courtesy: DC Comics/Warner Brothers

Aaaaah, family.  Family is one of the best things in the world.  Family is also one of the worst things in the world.  Good or bad, family is all that we have in this world.  That is really the crux of the second season of DC’s Doom Patrol.  Released early this year on DVD and BD, the series’ second season is an interesting continuation for the series.  That is due to the noted story featured in this season.  It will be addressed shortly.  The cast’s work throughout the season is also of import here, and will be examined a little later.  The bonus content, as little as it really is here, also plays at least some part in the set’s presentation.  It will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Doom Patrol’s second season.  All things considered, they make this season one more of this year’s gradually growing list of the year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray box sets for grown-up audiences.

The second season of DC’s Doom Patrol is an interesting outing for the series.  The series, and group is among the lesser-known of DC’s properties, but this season is sure to help bring both much more attention.  That is proven in part through the season’s story.  The story, as noted already, is on the importance of family.  Even as emotionally heavy as the story is throughout, that emphasis remains.  Audiences will be moved as they watch Larry (a.k.a. Negative Man) try to make amends with his family following the revelation of his son’s death.  Viewers will be just as moved (albeit in a more lighthearted way) as they watch Cliff try to make amends with his daughter after finding out that she survived the wreck that led to him becoming Robot Man.  On yet another note, Rita facing the demon that is the trauma caused by her mother is just as engaging and entertaining because of the subtle way in which it is tied into the whole of the story.  Crazy Jane even has her own family of sorts in her head that she has to deal with over the course of this season.  Looking through this, the first thing that one might feel that there is a lot going on.  That would be right.  However, even as much as is going on in the bigger story, the ability of the writers to balance all of these interweaving story lines is on full display.  What’s more, the depth in each character’s story and the very stories themselves prove relatable to so many audiences.  Case in point is the revelation of who Cliff’s daughter is marrying.  His reaction to that revelation is reflective of so much of America in the current age.  Most people likely will not admit to it, but in a case such as that of Rita, lots of people deal with the emotional trauma brought on by toxic relationships with their parents during their formative years, so even that is believable.  Larry’s case is similar to that of Rita, just in a different fashion, which perhaps is why the pair bonds so well this season.  He made his son feel like he was not good enough, being a hot shot pilot in his normal life, and that led to the rift between the pair. 

Through all of the emotional issues that the Doom Patrol faces this season in dealing with their pasts with their families, they grow as individuals.  As a result of that growth, viewers see the group, including Cyborg, start to develop into the heroes that they will be as the show continues.  Speaking on that note, the series is currently in the midst of its 3rd season.  Its home release will likely come early in the new year just as this season was released early this year, considering the air date for Season Three’s finale.  Getting back on topic, the character development that audiences see this season makes the season, in hindsight, really a transitional season of sorts.  It is a continuation of Season One, and in turn is sure to lead to something even more interesting and exciting in Season Three.  Keeping that all in mind, the story featured in the second season of Doom Patrol is reason enough for audiences to give the season a chance.  It is just one of the season’s positives.  The cast’s work adds its own appeal to the presentation.

Brendan Fraser leads the way once again in terms of the cast’s work.  His general personality and sharp tongue brings a much needed looseness and unique comic relief to the show.  Given, every other word out of his mouth is made up four letters, but just his sheer delivery in every scene is so great.  His nonstop declaration that he’s going to kill the chief after being launched out of the chief’s space ship and landing in a fiery ball into a random field is a prime example of his expert timing.  Audiences know that he is really made, but there is just something about his delivery that makes audiences laugh as hard as ever even as they feel sympathy for Cliff.  This especially considering the heart that he developed for Dorothy shortly before that happened.  On a similar note, the chemistry that he shows alongside Dianne Guerrero (Crazy Jane) creates its own dynamic.  The way he just casually accepts that she has so many personalities is funny in its own way because of the very subtlety in that relationship of sorts.

Similarly, the aforementioned onscreen work between April Bowlby (Rita) and Matt Bomer (Larry) is just as enjoyable to see even with it being more of a secondary performance of sorts.  The duo knows that its wok is secondary, too, and makes the most of it as their characters lean on one another.

Staying on the note of the pair, Bowlby is inspiring as she takes Rita through her emotional journey in facing her own past.  There were so many opportunities for Bowlby to really go over the top, considering all of the drama in this season.  Thankfully she did not go that route.  The end result is that she makes Rita that much more of a sympathetic character throughout the season. 

Much the same can be said of Bomer’s work as Larry.  The moments when he is in the shed next to his son’s home, reading the letter that his son wrote as a child is absolutely heartbreaking.  Because his face is covered with bandages, Bomer is forced to do his emoting more through his actions, and they do so well to reveal the depth of Larry’s remorse for the past.  It is just one more way in which the cast’s performances make for so much depth this time out.  Between the performances noted here and so much more exhibited by the cast, the cast’s overall work here is so enjoyable to watch.  When the whole is considered along with the depth in the season’s story, the two elements join to make for that much more reason to watch this season of Doom Patrol.  It still is only a part of what makes this season engaging and entertaining.  The bonus content that accompanies the season in its home release rounds out the most important of its items.

The bonus content featured in the home release of Doom Patrol’s second season is limited to say the least.  One of the bonuses is just one of the show’s creative heads talking about shooting the show in Georgia.  The brief discussion is basically just an advertisement for filming in Georgia and is honestly irrelevant.  The other bonus feature, which focuses on the season’s makeup and special effects gives audiences at least a brief glance into the work that went into this season’s look.  Audiences will appreciate the determination that the show’s makeup and costume heads had for something as minute as the freckles on Dorothy’s face, making sure that they stayed the same in each episode.  Such dedication to the show’s look is admirable to say the least.  Understanding that the twin brother duo has always been so serious about makeup, going all the way back to its childhood, makes for even more appreciation for the pair’s work.  It will lead, in hindsight, to even more appreciation for the look of Doom Patrol in its second season.  One can only hope that considering this is the season’s only other bonus feature, there will be more bonus content in the third season’s home release.  At least this bonus adds a little bit more appreciation for this season, if only for its aesthetics.  Keeping that in mind along with the impact of the season’s story and the cast’s work, the whole becomes that much more engaging and entertaining.  It collectively makes the season in whole a great continuation for the series and one more of the year’s top new DVD and Blu-ray box sets for grown up audiences.

Doom Patrol: Season Two is an overall impressive offering.  Its appeal starts with its story.  Yes, the story is extremely emotionally heavy, but in understanding the character development hat takes place throughout the season, it makes the heaviness that much more understandable and bearable.  It shows the group on the verge of becoming “super heroes” of sorts.  Hopefully that growth and change will become even more evident in Season Three, considering this.  The cast’s work interpreting that development adds to the season’s appeal.  That is because the group’s work is just that believable.  Being so believable, it ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment that much more.  Keeping in mind the positive impact of the cast’s work and of the story, there is just one more item to note.  That item is the bonus content.  The bonus content featured in this season’s home release is minimal to say the least, but at least one of the bonuses offers more appreciation for the season.  In this case, it focuses on the season’s look.  That item works with the season’s other noted items to make the whole well worth watching and one more of this year’s top new DVD and BD box sets for grown up audiences. 

Doom Patrol: Season Two is available now.  More information on the season and other DC Universe series is available online at:

Website: https://dccomics/com/tv



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Hulu’s ‘Animaniacs’ Reboot Falls Flat In Its Debut Season

Courtesy: Hulu/Studio Distribution Services

Reboots are big business for Hollywood, or so it would seem.  Looking at recent headlines for TV shows rebooted by the major TV studios (including digital servers), reboots do not actually seem to be doing as well as studio executives and advertisers would like people to believe.  Punky Brewster became the most recent reboot to be cancelled this month.  The show was axed from NBC’s Peacock streaming service after just one seasons.  Also cancelled this year are reboots of MacGuyver, Murphy Brown, Charmed (which did not even get past the pilot stage), and even Lizzy MacguireFuller House, the reboot of the classic sitcom Full House also got the axe from Netflix this year after five seasons.  Even the reboot of Rod Serling’s classic series The Twilight Zone was justifiably canceled early this year after just two seasons. Between that reboot, the update of Hawaii 5-0, and that of MacGuyver, which itself ran for five seasons before its end (two seasons less than the original series’ run), it is safe to say that reboots really are not the safe bet that studio execs and advertisers thought they would be.  Even Roseanne ended up being “cancelled” and re-tooled as The Connors.  Now keeping all of this in mind, one cannot help but wonder how long Hulu’s reboot of the classic cartoon series Animaniacs will last.  It was just recently announced that the series, which saw its first season released to DVD June 1, will launch its sophomore season in November.  If the lead season of this reboot is any indicator, one can only imagine that it will be lucky to be renewed for a third season.  That is proven in part through the content featured in the first season of this reboot.  It will be discussed shortly.  The lack of any bonus content with the season’s home release is also of concern, especially considering the original series’ legacy.  So this will be discussed a little later.  Looking at all of the negatives noted here, it makes the DVD’s pricing problematic, too.  This will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this recently released collection.  All things considered, they make the first season of Hulu’s Animaniacs a completely disappointing presentation.  It additionally is more proof that reboots are clearly not the best investment for any network.

The first season of Hulu’s Animaniacs reboot is proof positive that for all the reboots out there, reboots do not make the best business sense for any network, whether on TV or online.  This is proven in large part through the content featured throughout Season 1.  Given, there was plenty of adult-themed humor that ran through the original series during its five-season run from 1993-1998.  Steven Spielberg himself was even quoted as saying much of the humor in the original series was inspired by the humor of Looney Tunes and none other than Groucho Marx.  At the same time, there was also plenty of more family friendly content included throughout the show in the noted time frame.  By comparison, this updated take on the series is nothing but dated, adult humor.  It is all snarky shots about the world’s current social and political atmosphere. The only time when the show actually goes full family friendly comes late in its run in the short, “Here Comes The Treble.”  The celebration of classical music finds the Warner Brothers and their sister Dot going toe to toe against a very self-righteous conductor.  The story is a reboot in itself of a certain classic Looney Tunes short in which Bugs Bunny faces off against an arrogant opera singer.  Even worse is the moment in the “Pinky and the Brain” short, “Mousechurian Candidate” in which the writers decided to go blue.  Brain tells Pinky in one line that he is going to put one character “through hell.”  Yes, the writers went there.  Thankfully it is the only point at which such language is used.  The original series succeeded without ever having to use foul language, so why did the show’s writers feel the need to go such route here? 

Speaking of Pinky and The Brain, they are they and Ralph are the only secondary characters who are regularly featured in this season.  There is one episode, “Good Warner Hunting,” in which the writers bring back all the old secondary characters (E.g. The Hip Hippos, Slappy Squirrel and her nephew Skippy, Katie Kaboom, etc.) but instead of paying tribute or even hinting at them being brought back long term, the story in the episode feels more like the writers were thumbing their noses at viewers.  They were acknowledging the absence of those characters from the reboot, but basically just kept them as a secondary element in that one sole episode.  In their place are far worse secondaries “The Incredible Gnome in People’s Mouths” and “Starbox and Cindy.”  These characters and their shorts come across like something that was crafted when the writers were high on something.  One cannot help but wonder, in looking at these new secondaries, if the writers from Ren & Stimpy were involved in this season, considering this and all of the primary writing concerns.  All things considered here, the content featured in the lead season of Hulu’s Animaniacs reboot is reason enough to not watch or even buy the show’s two-disc set.  It is just one of the problems from which this set suffers.  The lack of any bonus content detracts from the presentation’s appeal even more.

The lack of bonus content is important because while Animaniacs only ran for five seasons in its initial run in the 90s, that was still a long run.  To this day, it is still very much a beloved property.  That is again because of the brand of verbal and physical comedy that it brought forward.  Yes, it was modern at the time, but it resurrected a brand of comedy that was far more common to cartoons and movies of the early 20th century.  What’s more, the work put in by the voice cast and the animators added even more appeal.  Sadly, none of that is discussed here.  As a matter of fact, there is no bonus content to speak of.  There is no retrospective on the importance of the original series.  There is no defense made by the show’s cast and crew for this unnecessary reboot.  That someone or certain parties felt that the show did not need defense in its rebooting (considering it is among so many reboots) is just lazy and irresponsible.  Maybe had someone taken the time to try to defend this reboot, it might have led some viewers to rethink their views especially after watching the featured main content.  That is not guaranteed, but the possibility is there.  On another note, that the only references made to the original series came in the shorts (and in rather sarcastic, dismissive fashion at that) is only that much more disrespectful to the legacy of the original show and to the fans.  It leaves audiences feel that the writers wanted to bring in the audiences who watched the original show, but did not care enough to actually keep things family friendly.  It is all just so disappointing.

Now keeping in mind everything addressed here, it makes the two-disc set’s pricing problematic in its own right.  Walmart has the set available in store at a price of $20.  It should be no more expensive than $15, honestly, considering It runs 13 episodes.  If it were more expansive, that would guarantee the price.  That is the same price at Amazon, Target, and Best Buy.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million each list the set at $24.99 and $24.98 respetively, far exceeding the more commonly occurring price of $20.  All things considered, neither price is worth paying considering how little this set has to offer audiences of any age.  Between the dated, adults-only content that fills out most of the season and the lack of any bonus content, the prices are just too much all the way around.  Keeping this in mind, it is yet another negative and shows once more why this two-disc debut season of Hulu’s Animaniacs reboot is a failure.

Hulu and Studio Distribution Services’ DVD presentation of Animaniacs Season 1 is a disappointing offering from the companies.  Knowing that the series has already been re-upped for a second season, odds are that those behind this reboot or even its home release have learned anything from the mistakes of this presentation.  There is nothing redeeming about the set.  The main content is clearly aimed mainly at adults, unlike the original series.  To make it worse, the content featured here does not even have any longevity.  It is dated throughout so much of what is shown.  All of this in mind, the content is just one of the set’s shortcomings.  The lack of any bonus content in the set decreases its enjoyment even more.  Taking that into account along with the less than memorable primary content featured in this set, the whole makes the set’s pricing even less appealing.  Keeping all of this in mind, the whole makes this presentation anything but appealing.

Animaniacs Season 1 is available now for those who actually want the set.  More information on the set is available along with all of the latest Animaniacs news at:



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