Some brief reviews as I adventure through my netflix queue…
Red v Blue Reconstruction (season 6) – I rather enjoyed the early seasons of RvB, though I thought their humor improved once they started limiting their swearing and got more creative with the dialog and sets. From here the tone of the series shifts into once much more dramatic and involved than before. Even the overarching plots of the previous seasons had a rather haphazard feel to them, and seemed frequently derailed by comic set pieces. Here, even the humor serves to move the plot along.
All in all, I rather enjoyed it, though the drastic change in tone might be hard for some fans to deal with. Tucker (my favorite blue) was sorely missed but I do commend the writing for a “twist” at the end that was rather well done. Although the biggest weakness of this season is the backstory. Other than a line about “master chief” and the “covenant” in the first season, we’ve never had much of a sense of what goes on in the universe beyond how it relates to our characters. Even the revelation about some lost civilization was ultimately a set up to introduce Nate, the self-aware bomb, and a glowing energy sword that was itself used to set up dick jokes. Here, we get a lot more information, but not a lot of context for how it applies to everything. I suppose it’s clearer the more familiar you are with the Halo universe, but before you could know virtually nothing about it (as I did) and still enjoy the show. Now? I’m not sure what I need to have played or read to more fully grasp what’s been going on.
Highlander: the Search for Vengeance (the Anime) – I’ve been a big fan of Highlander and as such, a big fan of following Spooney’s review of the various instances of Highlander through the ages. I never watched must past the first. The third and fourth movie and bits of the series mostly but those generally sucked enough to keep me from seeking out anything beyond the first movie (well… the series wasn’t that bad). So how is the anime? Well… it’s pretty much what you’d expect if you asked the Japanese to remake the original Highlander. It’s pretty entertaining, evoking tropes of Japanese culture like ghosts and reincarnation (although, immortals in a world where people do reincarnate is an interesting thought).
This is definitely a film made for the fans, though. We are shown a lot, but never explained. The phrase “there can be only one” is uttered but never given any meaning within the film. There’s no statement or hint that there is a “prize” or eventual gathering. The “rules” in general are never stated, we’re only shown that the immortals are not killed or fought on holy ground (usually with the statement “holy ground”). What’s funny is that the way this is portrayed, it seems to only be a personal rule followed by the main villain, we’re never shown anything to hint that this is universal to all immortals.
The whole thing takes place in a dystrophian future (and it does it better than any other time) and all in all is pretty good. What’s most fascinating to fans is to see the MacLeod and villain switch essences from the first movie. What do I mean? Well in the original Highlander, there was a sense that Connor was a part of the world, and enjoyed general society and culture while the Kurgen was an outsider. He didn’t really socialize, or care about others or anything around him. In this movie, the villain is the one that seems to care most about the world around him, he has love and takes part in culture and society whereas Colin (the MacLeod this time) is the outsider who doesn’t care about what’s going on around him. It’s really an interesting dynamic for the fans and a shame they didn’t get meta with by having Clancy Brown and Christopher Lambert do the voices of the characters and switching roles (Clancy doing MacLeod, Lambert doing the bad guy). Really, if the makers had done that, I would recommend it without hesitation. As is it… well I’d say watch this before you see any other Highlander beyond 1.
Superman/Batman Apocalypse – Based upon the comic storyline which brought Supergirl back into the mainstream DC comics continuity this is (like the comic) a sequel to the previous Superman/Batman movie, Public Enemies (even having the voice actors return). The action is great (anime level of greatness) and they smoothed out some of the rougher spots in the original story though… there’s still some bits that fall flat. However, while I have nothing against Andre Braugher, the poor guy does NOT do a good Darkseid (especially when compared to the great Michael Ironside). I was disappointed they didn’t add any effects to his voice to make Darkseid sound more god-like. I dunno… this seems like it needed a bit more heart behind it.
Superman/Shazam – First, we have to get the obvious out of the way. And actually this is apparently titled “DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection” as the disc had a collection of shorts focusing on several lesser known DC characters.
- the Return of Black Adam – An origin story about Captain Marvel, this was very enjoyable and had great action in it. The “kid” that voiced Billy Batson did a great job and it’s impressive how well they can get you to care about a character you’ve probably never heard of – one that seems little more than a copy of Superman. Well done all around. Though I was disappointed they killed Black Adam.
- the Spectre – A semi-mystery that really isn’t if you know your comics, but a moody, atmospheric piece. I always liked the Spectre, so this was a treat for me. It is a bit of a shock after the relatively light-hearted romp previously. They should have moved this to around the Jonah Hex short to prevent mood whiplash.
- Green Arrow – You know, I never liked Green Arrow that much (and not because of his politics, that I can tolerate if it’s in character), but this bit got me to like and care about him. Just more proof that the right writer can work magic.
- Jonah Hex – Eh. This is part of my problem with Westerns in general as a genre: you can’t tell the difference from one protagonist to another. What separates Jonah Hex from Rooster Cogburn? (the marshall played by John Wayne in True Grit) This short isn’t bad, just another western-protagonist-gets-bad-guy story.
Oh, and I watched the Justice League Crisis on 2 Earths movie but… well that’s going to warrant an entire rant.