CLASSIC REVIEW: ‘Tru Calling’ DVD

The cast of ‘Tru Calling’

CLASSIC REVIEW: ‘Tru Calling’ DVD

The cast of ‘Tru Calling’
The cast of ‘Tru Calling’

Written & Directed by Various

Created by Jon Harmon Feldman

Purchase your copy on DVD @ Amazon.co.uk now!

I highly doubt anybody will be spoiled but beware!

I was wandering around a cut-price music and DVD shop a couple of weeks ago when I spied a copy of the ‘Tru Calling: Complete Series’ boxset sitting on a shelf next to some of the original deluxe boxsets of ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’. Believe me this is not a normal occurrence in this day-and-age and it was a major trip down memory lane.

The original pilot for ‘Tru Calling’ had appeared online the summer that I was prepping to move away to university and from there friends and I struggled to get hold of episodes on our blocked network in halls of residence but we did and we watched it religiously.

The premise: Tru Davies lost her mum at a very young age. All grown up she’s preparing to go to medical school when her work placement gets ripped out from underneath her. Forced to work graveyard shifts at the morgue she discovers a weird new ability… the dead ask her for help and she’s transported back 24 hours and given the chance to save them.

‘Tru Calling’ was one of the first post-‘Buffy’ shows to his network TV. It would be a year until ‘Lost’ would come along and revolutionise serialised TV and left behind on The CW ‘Angel’ was struggling and about to find itself cancelled.

‘Tru Calling’ has gone on to become a bit of a cult hit, not due in-part to the fact the final episode of its incredibly short six episode second season failed to air until almost three years after the previous episode had premiered. At the time fans clamoured to get copies of the second season which had not aired properly in other territories. I ended up catching copies from New Zealand if memory serves.

What was the  problem with ‘Tru Calling’ I hear you ask? Inconsistency would be my answer. I never felt there was a lack of quality to the show it was just that it was somewhat derivative and a little generic. Stories were often predictable and so there was a lack of suspense which could have elevated the show to much higher acclaim.

All TV shows suffer a little in their first season when trying to find what works and what doesn’t and ‘Tru Calling’ was no different. Going back and reading quotes and interviews with cast and crew it’s not hard to notice there is a whiff of network involvement which clearly affected the kind of show that was conceived compared to what appeared on screen.

There’s a very interesting piece of trivia on the shows IMDB.com page, the story is uncorroborated but seems to echo comments made in other interviews:

At the The University of Colorado at Boulder’s 57th Annual Conference on World Affairs in 2005, star Eliza Dushku‘s mother Judith Dushku (a Professor of Government at Suffolk University) told a story about her daughter’s growing dissatisfaction with the writing and her character as the show went on. According to Mrs. Dushkhu, Eliza had been promised that Tru Calling would be another “strong girl” show, in the tradition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that her character would be a role model for young women. However, by about the sixth episode, Eliza was calling her mother to complain about egregiously weak and dumb traits in her character. Examples given by Mrs. Dushku include: an argument that Eliza had with the showrunners because she refused to play a scene in which Tru did not know what a map was (and she had to have a man tell her) and Eliza being told that Tru shouldn’t be seen studying for her MCATs (even though she was supposed to be a medical student). Eliza also made a list of all the script instructions written to describe Tru’s state of mind, and they always included words like “overwhelmed,” “surprised,” “shocked,” and “bewildered,” but never instructions for Tru to be strong, confident, or sure of herself. 

It doesn’t paint a great picture of a harmonious set and strong production team but nevertheless the show still comes off an enjoyable and is often discussed in high regards by fans of genre TV.

The complete series DVD features – as the title suggests – both the first and second seasons of the show including the previously unaired series finale. Despite the way that Fox shrugged the series off the air without a second thought the box set is nicely put together and the packaging is one of the better designs of its time.

Note for UK fans: the second season had not aired at this stage so those purchasing the first pressing of this boxset will have a sticker on the cover stating ‘includes: six episodes never before seen on UK TV’

The slip-cover gives way to a heavy duty book made up of wraparound artwork and eight disc holders which make up the internal pages. Discs 1-6 make up season 1 whilst 7 and 8 complete the series.

There’s also a nice booklet giving a synopsis on each episode and also listing the bonus features.

Features include: deleted scenes of which there are over 20; four featurettes, a music video for the shows theme tune and also an easter egg.

As Fox took the time and effort to give this show a great home video presentation it would be good to see them put a similar effort in to re-releasing this show on Blu-Ray.

For fans of Eliza’s work on ‘Buffy’, ‘Angel’ and most recently ‘Dollhouse’ this set is a brilliant addition to your collection. For fans of nostalgic early 00’s genre TV this is a perfect example of a show cut down before its time.

7/10

‘Batgirl’ #23

COMIC REVIEW: ‘Batgirl’ #23

‘Batgirl’ #23
‘Batgirl’ #23

Cover by Alex Garner

Written by Gail Simone

Colours by Fernando Pasarin

Inks by Jonathan Glapion

Purchase your copy @ Comixology now!

Beware of spoilers!

‘Batgirl: Wanted’ kicks off this month in the wake of the events which have seen Barbara lose her brother and cut off the bat-logo from her costume.

I’ve read a lot of reviews of this title over the last two years and most have veered from exceedingly positive to equally as negative. In terms of recent issues it seems that many of the critics are taking issue with the levels of violence and also the somewhat depressed, downtrodden emotional nature of the stories.

I for one do not agree with these opinions.

I would be first to admit that I predominantly read comics with male heroes: ‘Batman’, ‘Nightwing’, ‘TMNT’ etc… and the closest that I got to reading a female headlined title is ‘Justice League’.

I will also admit that at the ripe old age of 17 I was a fan of the ‘Birds of Prey’ TV series and subsequently have read some of their old TPBs and now the ongoing New 52 title.

I don’t believe that comics headlined by female characters need to try any harder to fit in with all the males however I do believe that having a female lead does by nature allow the stories to have a much wider breadth of emotion and ‘Batgirl’ showcases this brilliantly.

What Simone does so masterfully in this series is take the emotional struggles of the character dress them up brilliantly in the kinds of stories that comic book readers expect from the Bat-verse.

Going in to this arc I had some genuine concerns such as with the removal of the logo from the chest plate of her costume as although a hugely symbolic visual in the story it’s somewhat watered down by the fact her cowl still has ears and her utility belt is still packed with bat-shaped gadgets.

Thankfully any fears I did have were quickly allayed by the quality of the story. There’s a huge sense of urgency in this issue, events are moving quickly and dramatically and with a decent amount of drama. There are also several story threads which are all running tandem which I have no doubt will come together at some point in to a massive crescendo.

I’ve spent so long on the story I’ve not touched on the art! ‘Batgirl’ has a great mix of scenery to character moments, the added emotions are equally well conveyed by the art as they are by the script.

I wouldn’t say that the art in this book is breaking any new ground but what it is most definitely is month-on-month is consistent. The level of quality here has been set and is maintained from issue to issue without fail.

If you haven’t dipped in to the Batgirl-universe as yet then this issue is a brilliant jumping off point in to the best arc this book has seen as part of The New 52.

8/10

‘Kick-Ass 2′ Poster

‘Kick-Ass 2’

‘Kick-Ass 2′ Poster
‘Kick-Ass 2′ Poster

Written & Directed by Jeff Wadlow

Check it out in cinemas now!

Beware of spoilers!

Three years after the original ‘Kick-Ass’ took many a cinema-goer by surprise the cast a back a little older, somewhat taller and ready to take a stab at taking the success of the first film and turning it into a fully fledged franchise.

‘Kick-Ass’ was a critical and box office success but not one that came without controversy. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will have picked up on the shock at the general levels of profanity and violence in the film but it was that ass kickings being handed out by Chloe Grace Moretz that caused the biggest stir. Particularly her use of a word beginning with C.

Three years later and Matthew Vaughn has taken a back seat to produce this movie and handed the reigns over to Jeff Wadlow whose previous directing credits include ‘Cry_Wolf’ and who now moves on to the Marvel universe to work on the upcoming ‘X-Force’.

Much like its predecessor ‘Kick-Ass 2’ stays relatively true to the source material but no doubt that a list of deviations – perhaps the ending being the biggest one – will soon appear on the Wikipedia.

There are strong ties to the comic format particularly in wide-establishing shots which feature comic text captions. Other films use these as a gimmick but ‘Kick-Ass 2’ uses them as a nice accent to the cinematography.

The profanity counter is undoubtedly through the roof on this sequel so here’s hoping the Blu-Ray comes with an accompanying f-bomb drinking game.

The violence in this film is standout. Action scenes are expertly choreographed and there’s a great sense of escalation as the film builds to its climax.

It’s Moretz who shoulders a lot of the action as she takes a lot of the focus away from Taylor-Johnson for much of the film. It’s worth noting that this film also takes inspiration from the ‘Hit Girl’ comic series as well as the ‘Kick-Ass’ title.

Both leads carry the film brilliantly and in comparison to the light-hearted action of the first film there’s an added level of drama here that adds a nice extra dimension to the characters and their world.

The film lets itself down in some of the character moments early on in the film. Later scenes pack much more of a punch than the opening act of the film but by no means is this a weak sequel. There’s a clear expectation that the script would balance the action and character from the outset but it takes a little time for the two to mix well.

Sadly this film doesn’t come without some controversy. Once again unless you’ve been under a rock for the last few months you will know that Jim Carrey withdrew his endorsement of the film in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. It’s a shame because his role in this film is pivotal and he plays it brilliantly but it has brought a whole lot of attention to the film.

If you’ve not yet seen the film please heed my warning and hang around for the end credits as there is a scene waiting for you!

7/10

‘All-New X-Men’ #15

COMIC REVIEW: ‘All-New X-Men’ #15

A nice albeit brief change of pace before ‘Battle of the Atom’ starts.

‘All-New X-Men’ #15
‘All-New X-Men’ #15

 

Written by Brian Bendis

Cover by Stuart Immonen

Art by David Lafuente

Purchase your copy @ Comixology now!

Beware of spoilers!


Issue #15 is technically the end of the arc which leads us in to the ‘Battle of the Atom’ crossover event taking place in several of the ongoing X-Men titles but it is also a standalone story which almost forgets the ongoing conflict between the different X-teams.

This issue sees the older (present day) X-Men take a backseat and allow the teen characters to stand on their own two feet and carry a story on their own merit. The good news is… it works but then there’s very little in this series which hasn’t worked over the past fifteen issues.

The brief cameo appearances by the present day X-Men serve as a good little reminder that the cast of teenager characters are out of their own time. The parent-child relationship that has built up between the two teams in illustrated well in scenes featuring Wolverine with the young Bobby and Scott.

The Scott/Bobby friendship gives their sub-plot in this issue a great buddy movie feel as they go out on their own to explore the modern day outside world with little understanding of their surroundings. The plot is very simple but it makes for a great break from all the heavy handed conflict that’s been going on.

Scott’s timid nature is the polar opposite of the troubled present day Scott who looms heavily over the pages of many issues. It’s also a great reminder of how things used to be before things went wrong.

Bobby is… well… Bobby but it’s still great to see him being able to relax rather than continuing to show his conflicted nature of the betrayal of Angel. His interactions with the teens is pitch perfect and reading it brought back memories of being an awkward teenager.

There is some emotional resonance to the Bobby/Scott story but it doesn’t quite pack the punch of the scenes prominently featuring Jean and the two Hank/Beast characters.

For me the concept of a romantic relationship between Jean and Beast is new and different and it’s explored in an interesting way. It poses the question of how Jean was supposed to react when her infant powers gave her no choice but to hear the adult Beast screaming his thoughts at her.

I hadn’t predicted that she would go to the younger Beast and confront him about her feels nor did I expect them to share a kiss. Not prior to having seen the cover art for this issue anyway.

The development of the teenage Jean’s powers is taking an interesting turn and the imbalance between control and chaos mirrors the nature of being a teenager perfectly.

Bendis has crafted a great relationship between readers and characters in this series and with this issue our emotional connection to the teens is tested. I think it’s a great testament to his writing that as a reader I feel sympathetic towards almost all parties involved each for their own individual reasons.

I talked in my last review about the fun factor of this series and it isn’t lost here. It will be interesting to see if this can be maintained through the ‘Atom’ cross-over that will soon be upon us.

8/10

‘Batman and Catwoman’ #22

COMIC REVIEW: ‘Batman and Catwoman’ #22

Batman finally cracks a smile in the wake of losing Damian…

‘Batman and Catwoman’ #22
‘Batman and Catwoman’ #22

Cover & Pencils by Patrick Gleason

Written by Peter J Tomasi

Ink by Mick Gray

Purchase your copy @ Comixology now!

Beware of spoilers!


In the wake of the death of Damian in New 52 Batman Inc #8 Batman has been pretty miserable in this series which is to be expected but the loss of one of the titular characters has allowed this book to undergo a massive shakeup. So far Batman has teamed with Red Robin; Red Hood and Batgirl. Next month he finds himself teamed up with Nightwing but for now it’s Catwoman who takes centre stage.

Some criticism has been thrown at this arc for the way Batman has acted over recent issues in comparison to his relatively par-for-the-course behaviour in other titles but then idea of the Batman & _______ arc has been all about stages of grief and with Catwoman there is possibly (finally) some acceptance.

The Bat-family are still pretty torn apart by the events of the Death of the Family arc and so interactions between titular characters has been awkward at best and this was never more evident than in Batman & Batgirl. This month we dispense with a lot of that awkward atmosphere as Catwoman is not one to avoid the issues.

Where others have circled around Bruce and tried to break down the barriers it is he who goes to Catwoman when she calls upon him and he spares little time in decided to partner with her on this mission (NB there’s a little JLA action just to warm you up for Trinity War).

The storyline between Bruce and Carrie Kelly – marking her first canonical appearance in issue #19 – is a particular draw to this series. There are obvious comparisons that can be drawn to the character in The Dark Knight Returns but right now that is not a path which this story is following.

Her character is a similar kind of foil to Bruce as Catwoman is to Batman. She doesn’t take his misdirection and questions his defensive manner at every turn leading to some inventive but emotional methods from Bruce to deflect her questioning.

There’s a great contrast in the colours between the nighttime adventure with Catwoman and the daytime interactions with Carrie. The art is generally good although at times Bruce appears thuggish in comparison to the main Batman title and his jawline alters between several different panels when in costume.

Catwoman suffers some similar jawline issues but thankfully her jump from her town title to this hasn’t equated to an over-sexualising of her image just for the sake of adding readers. There’s a great continuity to the DC universe at present in that it’s characters can move freely between books without degradation to their personalities or their voices.

You’ll need to jump back to issue #19 in order to follow the grief storyline in it’s full form but as with previous issues there’s a nice, short and fully contained story here which is pretty enjoyable.

7/10

‘Beware the Batman’ S01E06 ‘Toxic’

TV REVIEW: ‘Beware the Batman’ S01E06 ‘Toxic’

‘Beware the Batman’ S01E06 ‘Toxic’
‘Beware the Batman’ S01E06 ‘Toxic’

Directed by Curt Geda

Written by Erin Maher & Kathryn Reindl

Watch it live on Cartoon Network USA, Saturdays @ 10:00

Beware of spoilers!

This week Beware the Batman brings us a story about love. There’s something Frankenstein-esque and at times almost King Kong about ‘Toxic’ with the tragedy dial turned up to an eleven.

Katanna/Tatsu doesn’t appear in this episode which shifts all of the focus back on to Bruce/Batman allowing him a little more screen time and some more character development than we have seen in recent weeks.

There are some great callbacks to early episodes with Simon Stagg reappearing for the first time since the pilot and taking a central role and a few fleeting appearances by Bethanie Ravencroft from episode two who may prove to be a love interest for Bruce.

To see both of these characters again sets up a nice continuity to the universe and in terms of Stagg it closes the loop on this story. Where other cartoons use characters and throw them away never to be seen again we’re seeing a nice group of primary and secondary characters being developed across Gotham which helps give a level of reality that can be sorely missed when absent.

My previous gripes about Gotham feeling empty are sidelined this week as we get to meet Sapphire Stagg, Rex Mason/Metamorpho and witness a whole heap of cops and security guards get involved in the story.

Gotham still isn’t quite feeling like a highly populated metropolis BUT there is a more inhabited feel to this episode that I’ve felt has been lacking in others. I’m not sure where I get this feeling to Gotham being empty from as it’s not like BtAS or The Batman ever showed Gotham as being overly packed, there’s just something missing from the atmosphere that makes the scenery feel hollow.

On the up-side however it is great to spend some more time with the Beware the Batman version of Bruce Wayne. He’s had small character moments peppered throughout the series so far but most of those have tied in to either the main story of Batman or the story of Tatsu. In ‘Toxic’ he gets have both the Batman plot and the sub-plot to himself following his chance meeting – a little too chance I might add! – in the street with Dr. Ravencroft leading to a date stand up and eventual dinner as the episode comes to a close.

For those who have seen it: yes you can argue that the sub-plot does feed in to the building arc of the series but for the moment it’s nice to see a version of Bruce outside Batman getting to carry the show.

Also, for those on cast-watch: Alfred is now back to driving the car. The leg is fine!

In the grand scheme of this season I think that ‘Toxic’ will be a break from the heavy mythology of later episodes and for the adult viewer this will be a familiar format which is so often used in episodic dramas. It works well as a stand alone episode and also as a part of the series which is something that modern audiences crave.

I’m currently totally in the dark as to next weeks episodes… here’s hoping it’s another step towards greatness for this show!

7/10

The Joker

OP-ED: If Batman really did kill The Joker is it such a controversy?

The Joker
The Joker

In 1998 the comic book world was rocked by the publication of ‘The Killing Joke’. Written by Alan Moore and featuring some striking art by Brian Bolland the effects of this one-shot story still continue to reverberate around the DC Universe.

The story had a massive influence over the origin story of The Joker drawing from the 1951 story ‘The Man Behind the Red Hood’ and rounding out the story in a way which presented The Joker for the first time as a character that the readers could sympathise for.

Tim Burton would go on to say that ‘The Killing Joke’ was the first comic that he loved, citing the fact that he struggled to understand the order in which dialogue should be read until this book came along. “The Killing Joke’ would be a heavy influence on The Joker’s origin in ‘Batman’ (1989), Burton’s first entry in to the Batman movie franchise.

It could be argued that the most profound effect of ‘The Killing Joke’ was on the Gordon family. The shooting of Barbara Gordon robbing her of her life as Batgirl but also revolutionising the Bat-family with the eventual introduction of her new alter-ego Oracle.

This week comic writer Grant Morrison stopped by Kevin Smith’s ‘Fat Man on Batman’ podcast to discuss the end of his run working on ‘Batman Inc.’ which came to a conclusion with issue #13 in July and awaits a final special being published this month.

As the two discussed Batman and comics in general talk turned to ‘The Killing Joke’ with Morrison dropping the following bombshell:

No one gets the end, because Batman kills The Joker. That’s why it’s called The Killing Joke. The Joker tells the ‘Killing Joke’ at the end, Batman reaches out and breaks his neck, and that’s why the laughter stops and the light goes out ‘cause that’s the last chance at crossing that bridge. And Alan Moore wrote the ultimate Batman/Joker story… he finished it.

It’s not the first time that rumours have circulated about Batman having killed The Joker – of course he did kill him during ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ – but this is the first time I can recall somebody so close to the DC inner circle confirming that this is the case in this particular story.

For those who can’t recall the closing panels from memory checkout this reminder:

image

The artwork is purposefully ambiguous and the fact that The Joker continued to appear in the comics right through to his re-introduction in to the Bat-verse in The New 52 age would say that even if the original intention was for Batman to kill The Joker that was no consequence of the actions in this book that rippled beyond its pages.

The talking point is whether this was the moment that The Joker finally pushed Batman so far that he breaks his no-killing rule. So often the relationship between The Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime has been based on how far that The Joker wants to push Batman and how far he has to escalate his crimes to order to illicit the response he wants.

In all the stories that he has featured in over the years there has never been a contender to the crown of ‘most shocking’ that has ever come close to ‘The Killing Joke’ apart from perhaps ‘Death in the Family’. This year DC tried once more recreate the hype with ‘Death of the Family’ came close to stealing that crown.

To the uninitiated the idea of Batman killing is probably not a shock. To be fair in ‘Batman Returns’ he did attach a bomb to the stomach of one of the circus gang and knock him down a manhole only to leave him to explode. Or if you want to go back even further there was the death of Molly in the pilot of the Adam West TV series.

But to those of us with a love for the character we know that killing is not in his mantra and certainly not something that Bats would do lightly.

Does it ruin the character to have him kill his arch enemy? Or is it the only way to end the story between these two?

I for one think that if Batman were to kill then The Joker would be the one to push him that far. In the context of the events of this book it’s perfectly rational to think that with The Joker striking so close to him that Batman would take such drastic action to end the suffering.

Much in the way that 2008’s ‘The Dark Knight’ shows Batman’s increasing isolated reactions as The Joker increases the scale of his attacks there are examples of Batman’s retaliations across all forms of media.

‘The Killing Joke’ doesn’t necessarily have to impact on parents decisions to expose their children to Batman related products because I wouldn’t put this book in the hands of anybody who I didn’t think could handle the subject matter.

The argument from some more conservative fans will be that Batman has always been accessible to all and can be enjoyed at all ages. It’s a very valid argument as Batman is a hugely profitable brand for DC and Warner Bros. but it’s about identifying your Batman.

I read Batman comics; watch the cartoons and the movies. I see all facets of Batman but I know that ‘my’ Batman is the one in the comics. The darker Batman. The one that hides in the shadows.

The kids that play out in the street with the Batman caps? They’re probably watching Beware the Batman where guns don’t shoot bullets and Batman fights with ninja-like moves.

Is Batman killing The Joker big news? Yes. Is Batman killing The Joker controversial? No.

‘Batman ’66′ #7

COMIC REIVEW: ‘Batman ’66’ #7

The joke is on those not reading this series…

‘Batman ’66′ #7
‘Batman ’66′ #7

Cover by Mike Allred

Written by Jeff Parker

Art by Joe Quinones

Colours by Maris Wicks

Purchase your digital copy @ Comixology now

Beware of serious spoilers!


This week The Joker finally makes his entrance to the Batman ‘66 comic universe and he does so in a chapter that’s jam packed with references to the wider Bat-verse and with a great original story to boot.

This issue is a massive love letter to everything that The Joker has been to the Batman mythos in all forms of media.

The issue opens on page one with giant balloon parading through the centre of Gotham (reference #1 – Batman ‘89), on page two we meet Red Hood (reference #2 – Detective Comics #168), on page nine we meet Dr Quinn (reference #3 – BtAS) who works at The Arkham Institute (reference #4 – A Serious House on Serious Earth).

As an aside on page seven there is a panel depicting punk goons wearing stolen jewels and carrying diamonds… a reference to Batman Forever perhaps?

Throw in the villains inhabiting Arkham when the Dynamic Duo come to visit and that’s a bucket load of cameos in one issue.

I continually praise Jeff Parker but this issue nearly completely blew my mind. Juggling the sheer number of facets to The Joker’s character from the various TV series, cartoons, movies and comics that are on display here Parker makes it look like childs play.

The story is simple: The Red Hood (whoever he or she may be) has got a score to settle with The Joker and Batman is going to need to protect him and solve the mystery under the hood.

My expectations for the beginning of this arc were high but this opening issue completely surpasses those expectations.

What Parker does so brilliantly here is to take all those easter eggs and cameos and knit them together to make a perfectly coherent story that fits under the Batman ‘66 banner. The plot is maniacal that it’s hard to imagine it not having been a real episode.

Joe Quinones art is nicely kitsch and is a nice fit for this series. I still think that Jonathan Case has nailed the individual look of this series but Quinones finds a great balance between modern comic and the 60s look. His character renderings and unlike others we’ve seen in previous issues; West and Ward are still a little lost in translation but Cesar Romero is instantly recognisable from the moment his face first appears.

Note: look out for a guest appearance by Romero’s moustache!

Seeing the inclusion or Dr Quinn and Arkham was a massive fanboy moment for me. It’s intriguing to see these famous aspects of the mythos appear for the first time in this context both visually and also as plot devices.

Bringing these kinds of aspects in to the ‘66 universe also cements the fact that this is no cash-in on the licence but a real well thought out and cared for title in the Bat-catalogue.

If you haven’t yet read any of this series I implore you to start now!

9/10

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (Shout! Factory)

‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers The Movie’

‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers The Movie’
‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers The Movie’

Directed by Bryan Spicer

Written by John Kamps (Story) & Ame Olsen (Story & Screenplay)

Buy it now on DVD @ Amazon.co.uk

Beware of some very old spoilers!

Decided to go right back to childhood again for a classic review this week and stick with the non-DC Comics related theme started with TMNT last week.

Just like I was an obsessive fan of TMNT when I was little when MMPR first appeared on Sky I was hooked. The colours, the monsters the Zords oh man it was like nothing I had ever seen before yet amazingly compared to kids TV these days it seems relatively calm and docile.

After a massively successful first season worldwide MMRP was deep in production of its second season when it was decided to move the cast over to Sydney, Australia to film a movie (plus a couple of episodes of the series as the cast were in Australia for some time).

I still love this movie even as a grown up and I still watch it from time-to-time alongside re-watching classic episodes on Netflix but it always bothered me that it was decided the film would never be canon.

There was always a strong feel-good factor to MMPR and it translated perfectly in to a movie. Yes, it was cheesy and the acting was never going to win any awards but there were always such strong morals in the show that you couldn’t fault the lessons that it taught the millions of kids who watched it.

The film sweeps aside the TV baddies Rita and Zedd to make way for Ivan Ooze, an original villain who in this universe had the potential to translate back to the TV series and run on for quite some time if the Super Sentai footage had existed for it.

Note:  I read in the Sky TV magazine when I was 7 or 8 that MMPR was a mix of American teen show and Japanese fighting drama. For years I didn’t know if that meant it was a genre mashup or genuinely a mix of two shows. I was shocked when I found out the real answer… so obvious now!

Along with creating an all new villain the film goes to great lengths to separate itself from the TV series. The bigger budget afforded to the film is almost all on screen with new costumes, weapons and rebuilt sets all on show.

The new costumes look a little awkward but on the whole work well in the big screen format and there was no way that the TV sets would have passed as convincing on film, they barely pass as convincing on TV. No self respecting MMPR fan can say they haven’t word a Megazord costume made of cardboard boxes that looked identical to the costume on TV!

My only complaint is the style of the CGI used for the Zords in this film. I don’t doubt for a second that as much of the budget as was available was spent on the graphics but it’s just not enough to make them look convincing to fans of any age.

The quest for the ninja powers makes for a compelling movie and nobody would begrudge you the fact that you worry for the teens when they lose their powers and all hope seems lost.

If you’ve never seen this movie before (WHY?!!!) then check it out. It would give you a good all round impression of what the original MMPR was like almost 20 years ago now.

There’ll be celebrations this year for the 20th anniversary of the first season of the show and so for those of your joining the party a little late go back and check this out.

8/10

‘All-New X-Men’ #14

COMIC REVIEW: ‘All-New X-Men’ #14

‘All-New X-Men’ #14
‘All-New X-Men’ #14

Written by Brian Bendis

Art by Stuart Immonen

Purchase issue #14 and the rest of All New X-Men @ Comixology Now.

Beware of spoilers!

I’ve been saying this in a lot of comic review recently but starting at issue #1 despite satisfying any compulsive needs for completion is just not an achievable goal for just one reviewer. With that in mind here we jump in to All New X-Men at issue #14.

For the uninitiated All New X-Men brings the original X-Men team from the past to the present day in order to confront their present selves in the wake of a devastating event caused by the Phoenix force entering Cyclops.

The story features three factions of X-Men: Present day Cyclops and his team; Wolverine and his team and the original five X-Men members all with their own separate motivations and goals. Not to forget there’s a whole troop of Hydra soldiers involved here.

The story by Brian Bendis has been pretty gripping and continues to be so throughout this issue. There’s a strong moral fibre beneath all the action that rings true to the original premise of the X-Men but doesn’t overpower the massive fun-factor that this seres contains.

This series features a massive ensemble cast on a monthly basis and Bendis has a proven track record at handling these large group characters well. The individual characters voices are well defined by this point in the series and although there are visual cues to differentiate between the past and present characters their voices portray the innocence of youth against the beleaguered present day cast.

After this arc is complete we hand over to the X-Men: Battle of the Atom arc which will introduce a further X-Men team from the future who must convince the original X-Men to return to the past. It’s all very Whovian and I’m sure will prove to be a great warm up to the ‘Days of Future Past’ film coming next year.

Stuart Immonen provides some great visuals for this issue. He captures the characters expressions in a way which perfectly accentuates the dialogue. The teenagers appear like teenagers and adults come off like distraught parents. It all adds to the fun of the book but when the story requires Immonen can turn up the drama dial all the way up.

The Phoenix visuals here are unique and distinctive to the style of this book and have definitely whet my appetite for further Phoenix developments in the future should they be required by the story.

Next month Immonen hands over the pencil to David Lafuente so, for the time being, this is his chance to make a big impact on the book and thanks to the story unfolding here he does so with impressive ease.

As I have said this arc completes itself shortly (in issue #15) so if you are looking for a jumping off point for All New X-Men either jump back in time to issue #13 or step in with the Battle of Atom mark which hits this title in issue #16 on 4th September.

8/10