Young Justice (Invasion) [2012] Season 2: 20 Episodes

They Grow Up So Fast

(Or between seasons…)

Young_Justice_wondergirlYoung Justice “Invasion” takes place five years after the end of season one. Our young heroes aren’t so young anymore, and have moved on to be married twenty-somethings, bitter twenty-somethings, or both.

Not a cape amongst this happy group. BTW, one of these heroes does not stand like the others.

Not a cape amongst this happy group. BTW, one of these heroes does not stand like the others.

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The antagonists are still supposed to be this conspiracy of super villains called “The Light,” but the conspiracy is so conspiratorial and so secret, that these guys barely show up to make appearances in their own cartoon. The heroes rarely even encounter them the entire season. The bulk of the bad guy role is played by a slimy invading alien race called The Reach.

Black Manta was not rejected for "The Light" because of his moniker. ANd we like him too much to reject him because this voice depiction was less fun than previous versions.

Black Manta was not rejected from “The Light” because of his moniker. And we won’t reject him despite a voice depiction less fun than previous versions.

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Season two in a sentence: Our young sidekicks have become young-ish semi-heroes who need to protect the earth (while the Justice League is conveniently out-of-the-picture) from invading aliens, a nebulous conspiracy of Earth villains, misunderstandings and betrayal about each other, self-esteem issues, geeked-out hero worship, the destruction of their entire mountain base, the public turning against them, new superpowered kids with attitude, and some awful cola, all while maintaining their monotone delivery and learning the true meaning of love (okay not that last part).

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Although there is some romance with aliens in cool outfits. (Here they are following the Star Trek method of making aliens. Modify the skin tone and add a slight facial difference. Hey, it's cost effective.

Although there is some romance with aliens in cool outfits. (Here they follow the Star Trek method of making aliens. Modify the skin tone and add a slight facial difference. Hey, it’s cost effective.)

The serious monotone of the show got a little old, but it was still appreciated in light of the alternative. (Ben 10 Alien Force and Ultimate Alien were similarly toned. Now we miss that mature take now in light of the completely unappealing Ben 10 Omniverse redesign for 3rd graders. Ultimate Spiderman was made for 4th graders… ugh.) So we’re grateful for a superhero show with a semi-serious, semi-mature demeanor, like Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

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The characters featured so prominently in season one were reduced to supporting characters in season two, including most of the original Young Justice team. If you’re a big Blue Beetle fan, you were probably all right with this. A fitting name for season two could have been, ‘Blue Beetle and His Amazing Friends.’ On the bright side, we got to see some second-tier characters of interest, and an interesting take on Warworld.

Young_Justice_warworld

Black Beetle, Green Beetle, its the new rage. The Beetles are a hit.

Black Beetle, Green Beetle, its the new rage. The Beetles are a hit.

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Don't you feel special!

Don’t you feel special!

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What about Robin, Zatanna, and Lex Luthor? Three character depictions we pointed out last season as extra enjoyable. The Dick Grayson Robin became Nightwing, and was depicted well enough. Zatanna was almost a no-show, and Lex Luthor was reduced to recruiting teens with attitude, and making contaminated soda pop.

Young_Justice_Batman_Robin_Nightwing_Batgirl_barbara_gordon

Okay, Zatanna, Miss Martian, Hawkgirl, look up.

Okay, Zatanna, Miss Martian, Hawkgirl, look up.

Young_Justice_artemis_zatanna_cosplay

Characters of note this season were Arsenal. He’s a good example of what happens when superhero archer’s give up the bow, and develop attitude. A showdown in the parking lot against Lex Luthor and cyborg bodyguard Mercy was one of the season’s more enjoyable battles. It was also fun to see the revival tour of the ever-living ones continue with “The Immortal Vandal Savage” and constantly resuscitated Rhys al Ghul taking a prominent, intellectual role amongst the bad guys.

Young_Justice_Rhys_al_Ghul_Vandal_Savage_the_light

"Am I IN this season?"

“Am I IN this season?”

"More than we are." (Do not fret. DC is considering a new show called "Middle Aged Justice.")

“More than we are.” (Do not fret. DC is considering a new show called “Middle Aged Justice.”)

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We enjoyed the art direction, although we still think there could be more meat on the Justice Leaguers. They are drawn a little slim in our opinion, a look more fitting the junior heroes. Overall, Young Justice is worth watching if you’re looking for a serious superhero show. If you’ve enjoyed comic books and have any reasonable breadth of knowledge in the DC universe, you’ll find the wide and various depictions of interest, and the action fun.

See a Bat-family picnic.

See a Bat-family picnic.

See... Capt. Cold? Really? We can't help it. We like this kooky old school villain. He's like Mysterio that way.

See… Capt. Cold? Really? We can’t help it. We like this kooky old school villain. He’s like Mysterio that way.

And then there was the season three teaser...

And then there was the season three teaser… (Which, considering the cancellation of this series, is all you’re going to get.)

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Young Justice takes:

Young Justice [2010] Season 1

Young Justice [2012] Season 2

Check out our other Batman and DC Comics takes:

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 1

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold  Season 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 3

Batman: Under the Red Hood [2010]

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman [2003]

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse [2010]

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [2009]

All-Star Superman [2011]

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights [2011]

Green Lantern: First Flight [2009]

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [2010]

Justice League: The New Frontier [2008]

Wonder Woman [2009]


Merlin [2012] (BBC) Season 5. 13 Episodes, Conclusion

This Season, Everyone Dies! ~or~ “By the way, Arthur, I’m a Sorcerer!”

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Five seasons of BBC Merlin comes to an end. The Smallville inspired adventures of young Arthur and his occasionally-magic footman reach their inevitable, tragic Arthurian conclusion. Oh, don’t get us wrong. We like this series, but it’s weighed down by the Arthurian legend itself, and a lack of series-arc momentum. It all comes flooding to an end before fully cooked. How many seasons did they think they were going to get? More arc progression doled out along the way, or perhaps some years passing between seasons, might have brought this series to a level of maturity that would’ve left the ending more resonant.

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(This picture strategically placed to keep your spirits up.)

(This picture strategically placed to keep your spirits up.)

Remember the Star Wars prequels? We knew the whole tragic future. A once proud Republic rots from the inside to become the Empire. A young boy with promise becomes the galaxy’s worst villain. All the Jedi but Obi-Wan will die. Yoda retreats into hiding. Senator Palpatine seizes power to become an Emperor. Luke Skywalker’s mother dies. None of these things could be altered, and we could only watch it play out.

"I may not look happy, but I'm jumping for joy on the inside. My character Gaius actually lived to the end!"

“I may not look happy, but I’m jumping for joy on the inside. My character Gaius actually lived to the end!”

"Well, my character dies and I'm out of a job, but I'll always have my fabulous jaw."

“Well, my character died and I’m out of a job, but I’ll always have my fabulous jaw.”

This version of the Arthurian tale never has its golden age. Camelot never flourishes under Arthur, though he is often purported in the show to be so great. His time as king is short, his marriage to Guenevere shorter, and not until the very last episode does he even find out Merlin has magic, right before he dies. Arthur did not even become king until halfway through the series. It would have helped had the golden age been at least alluded to. Set the final season later, and open with, “For ten years, Camelot has experienced an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity.”

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The Merlin producers pushed the Doctor Who crew off the quarry site for a day of filming Camelot's 'prosperity.'

The Merlin producers pushed the Doctor Who crew off the quarry site for a day of filming Camelot’s ‘prosperity.’

Goofy Arthur, noble Arthur, and slapstick Arthur, in that order.

Goofy Arthur, noble Arthur, and slapstick Arthur, in that order.

But enough about pacing and inevitability. Let’s do the classic Fortress season in the sentence: Arthur’s king, and married, but we hope he enjoyed his honeymoon because Camelot will be besieged for the rest of the season by hordes of computer-generated armies brought down by the crazed Morgana (why someone would want to be one of her short-lived henchmen is beyond us), while Merlin still goofs around using a little magic in the background to help Arthur while the cast encounters punk faeries, more ginormous monoliths, Stonehenge, Obi-Wan Kenobi (sort of), an alien(!), and a couple more run-ins with the evil twin plot.

The Obi-Wan? We'll start with the reappearance of Merlin's dragonlord father. "May the (magic) Source be with you."

The Obi-Wan? We’ll start with the reappearance of Merlin’s dragonlord father. “May the (magic) Source be with you.”

Just a few days ride from Camelot is Ye Old Giant Northern Megalith.

Just a few days ride from Camelot is Ye Old Giant Northern Megalith.

"Must I come back to do evil this season?"

“Must I come back to do evil this season?”

Evil twin plot reprisals:

  • Arthur’s father Uther returns, but to do evil!
  • Princess Mithian returns (remember how well she and Arthur got along last season?), but is being forced to do evil!
  • Gwen is broken and spelled by Morgana, to secretly do evil!
"See how eeeevil I look?"

“See how eeeevil I look?”

Bad guy checklist: Horrid asymmetrical expression? Check. Plethora of unnecessary buckles? Check. Ripped dirty clothing? Check. Scimitar? Wow, this guy went all in.

Bad guy checklist: Horrid asymmetrical expression? Check. Plethora of unnecessary buckles? Check. Ripped dirty clothing? Check. Scimitar? Wow, this guy went all in.

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Okay, so a lot of people stand around and let themselves be stabbed by swords. Is that so wrong? It’s only Arthur, Mordred, and Morgana, and all in one episode! It seems for this epic confrontation we all knew had to come someday, there were so many episodes in the past that did not help set it up and can now be seen as ‘fancified,’ sometimes entertaining, often interesting, but ultimately extraneous.

"Extraneous? Look at all the eeevil looks I accomplished this season!"

“Extraneous? Look at all the eeevil looks I accomplished this season!”

Merlin's beard! What the &^%#@! is that? ET is going to have to wait a thousand years to phone home.

Merlin’s beard! What the &^%#@! is that? ET is going to have to wait a thousand years to phone home.

Did this season rely too much on the “force push” as the major expression of magic? Yes. Is it a budget saving measure? Probably. But we did get to see a number of computer-generated monoliths, and at the very, very end, Merlin calls down a little lightning. But don’t forget the alien. That was worth it… *sigh*

"This place will be famous one day." "Please, Merlin, it's a bunch of big stones."

“This place will be famous one day.” “Please, Merlin. It’s a bunch of big stones.”

Add a dash of punk.

Add a dash of punk.

"Who keeps building these! And how is it they are all so close?"

“Who keeps building these! And how is it they are all so close?”

We liked this show. It took some initial adjustment, but it’s been a good ride for five years. Too bad the ending was such a rushed downer.

"I'm dying too Merlin, and Arthur's gone. But in the time of Albion's greatest need he shall rise again." "Five years of shining boots for what? This story is really starting to stink."

“I’m dying too Merlin, and Arthur’s gone. But in the time of Albion’s greatest need, he shall rise again.” “Really? Five years of shining boots for what? This story’s really starting to stink.”

This picture strategically placed to keep the next one of Arthur's final trip to Avalon from being too depressing.

This picture strategically placed to keep the next one of Arthur’s final trip to Avalon from being too depressing.

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Our Takes on all the Merlin Seasons:

Merlin [2008] Season 1

Merlin [2009] Season 2

Merlin [2010] Season 3

Merlin [2011] Season 4

Merlin [2011] Season 5

Huntik: Secrets and Seekers [2012] Season 2. 26 Episodes

Newbs Become Vets

Huntik_season_2_Lok_summon_titan

"Huntik 5D! Yes, so much fun we needed an extra dimension or two to show it!"

“Huntik 5D! Yes, so much fun we needed an extra dimension or two to show it!”

Ignio Straffi parlayed Winx Club success to make Huntik: Secrets and Seekers, no doubt funding the three-year delay between seasons one and two (and a Huntik theme park attraction). If you watched season one, you know what a fun and different show it was. It had an action format like an American show, and a detailed overarching story like an anime of finite episodes.

Huntik_season_2_sophie_storyboards

Sophie Casterwill is still "the world's most dangerous teen."

Sophie Casterwill is still “the world’s most dangerous teen.”

That was a lot to live up to. Did Straffi pull it off two seasons in a row? A complex show deserves a complex answer, so we are going to say ‘yes and no’ and break it down for you. But the quality of the show and the capability of the artisans involved is not in question. As is often the case with such a fine crew, it falls upon the writers and plot developers to give them something fitting to create.

Some well done background art.

Well done background art. (That cave is like a gemologist’s dream.)

Huntik_season_2_Zhalia_storyboards

Season two in an outrageously long sentence: After kicking the professor’s butt (we miss him now) the team takes on his former right-hand man Rassimov and the eerie blood spiral cult as they apparently want to bring about the end of all life on earth, a rather dubious goal to be sure, and along the way both sides add a newbie to their ranks which ends up gobbling screen time but yields little value to the plot, action, drama, or resolution, yet probably reinforces some lesson we’re supposed to learn.

Two interesting villains.

Two interesting villains (doing classic villainous grins).

Two time-gobbling dipsticks we did not care about and a ridiculous bag of bones titan.

Two time-gobbling dipsticks we didn’t care about, and a ridiculous bag of bones titan.

The Huntik season two recipe?

  1. 1 part Pokemon
  2. 2 (many) parts civil war drama that pits brother against brother
  3. 1 part later Harry Potter (where the plot grew hazy & heavy)
  4. A pinch of the reviled Scrappy Doo (the newbs)
  5. Mix together with a tasty but unfitting dash of Power Rangers

Huntik_Season_2_Sophie_fan_art

Don’t get us wrong, Huntik is a lot better than most schlock out there, and the first season was so good that any show would be hard-pressed to live up to it. There were many times during second season where it did indeed do so. A great plus we have to mention is that for 99% of the season, they managed to not emasculate Dante Vale, super operative for the sake of making his young apprentice Lok look good.

Won't anyone help this man? Dante Vale, as usual, carrying the load... into space?

Won’t anyone help this man? Dante Vale, as usual, carrying the load… into space?

Huntik_Sophie_Casterwill_01_by_AuraRinoa

What about those important plot threads from season one? They were pretty much left dangling, and replaced by stuff not quite as interesting. What about Lok’s father in the titan world? What about Cherit’s past? What about Dante and Zhalia’s feelings for each other? Heck, Zhalia had a greatly reduced role this season, and she used to be a lot more fun.

Early on, they tantalizingly teased us with possible movement about Cherit's memory. Still, Cherit was handled so well this season, growing in power, wisdom, and likeability.

They tantalizingly teased us with near-revelations about Cherit’s past. But no dice. Still, he was handled well this season, growing in power, wisdom, and likeability.

Can you find Zhalia in this picture? Can you find her in this season?

Can you find Zhalia in this picture? Can you find her in this season?

The return of Sabriel in an early episode, Sophie’s favorite titan, was one of the most moving moments of the season. Sophie’s fight for the leadership of her clan, and the avenging of her childhood tragedy were all good stuff.

The return of Sabriel was great. One of the few things set up in season one to be paid off.

The return of Sabriel was dramatic and well done. One of the few things set up in season one to be paid off.

The mid-season climax, a tremendous budget busting battle, was one of the best episodes we’ve seen. But all of these were in the first half of the season.

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This battle was so chock full of budget busting assets and planning that we would not be surprised if it was far and away the most expensive and difficult episode of the season.

This battle was so chock full of budget busting assets, choreography, and story that we wouldn’t be surprised if it was far and away the most expensive and difficult episode of the season.

Who were the “Nullifiers” we kept being threatened by? Who was the “Betrayer?” Whom did he betray? The blood spirals and their goals were poorly defined, and thus the later episodes lost drama energy. And honestly, Rassimov was a good henchman, but not a charismatic lead bad guy. It was almost as if there were two Huntik season arcs crammed into one season. Neither got the full attention and revelation it deserved.

"I summon plot answers!

“I summon plot answers!

Who was this weird "betrayer?" Who did he betray? He just kind of came to life at the end of the season. "I'm the bad guy!"

Who was this weird “betrayer?” Whom did he betray? When? He just kind of came to life at the end of the season. “Look at me! I’m the bad guy!”

Straffi and the gang proved to us they still have what it takes to make awesome episodes (and apparently a theme park attraction). We just hope that they bring more of it, enough for the entirety of season three.

Dante Vale looks happy. The rest look like they're ready to punch you in the face!

Dante Vale looks (a little too) happy. The rest look like they’re ready to punch you in the face! Why so mad Sophie?

Now check out this guy rawking out with the Huntik “rock anthem” opening!


Huntik Related Takes:

Huntik: Secrets & Seekers [2009] Season 1. 26 Episodes

Huntik: Secrets and Seekers [2012]  Season 2. 26 Episodes

Top Ten Animated Pictures Vol 2.

Also By Iginio Straffi:

Winx Club Season 1 – (The Trix)

Winx Club Season 2 – (Darkar)

Winx Club Season 3 – (Baltor/Valtor)

Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom

Winx Club Season 4 – The Black Circle (part 1)

Winx Club Season 4 – The Black Circle (part 2)

Winx Club 3D: Magica Avventura


Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2011] Season 2. 26 Episodes

Armor for everybody! (except you, Hulk.)

Iron Man and his Amazing Friends! Co-starring "War-man" and "Pepper-star!"

Iron Man and his Amazing Friends! Co-starring “War-man” and “Pepper-star!”

Seriously. Check out Blizzard's homage to Iceman's classic means of travel.

Seriously. Check out Blizzard’s homage to Iceman’s classic means of travel.

After a three-year hiatus, Iron Man: Armored Adventures returned for a second season. It was not a good time to be a Stark. Neither Howard nor his son Tony had much go right, but in the end they did overcome kidnapping, financial ruin, corporate shenanigans, maniacal mutants, maniacal armor wearing morons, megalomaniacal armor wearing doctors, manic Pepper Potts in armor, and oh, an alien invasion.

Does this kind-hearted soul look megalomaniacal to you?

Does this kind-hearted soul look megalomaniacal to you?

Justin Hammer's Titanium Man used a derivative name, but was rather maniacal.

Justin Hammer’s Titanium Man used a derivative name, but was rather maniacal.

The look was even better than season one. The cel shading style still closely emulated Skyland. The number of quality assets constructed for this season was large, yet the French and Indian animation houses produced fantastic visuals on a television budget.

Madame Masque's 1st season episode was strong. This season's not-so-much. This looks like a bad date...

Madame Masque’s 1st season episode was strong. This season’s not-so-much. (Alternate caption: ‘Your costume party date… is unhinged.’)

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"How do you keep kicking my butt in those heels?"

“How do you keep kicking my butt in those heels?”

Where season two could have been better was in the writing department. Many of the individual episodes were well composed, but the overall flow, the arc of the season lacked focus. The finale involved Gene Khan’s Mandarin, but the set-up was weak. We see across multiple episodes, frustrating cameos of Gene manipulating cruelly a kidnapped Howard Stark. But there is no development of Gene since last season, except that he is less palatable.

Howard Stark says things like, "We can do great good for this world, son." Gene Khan's mom said things like, "You will complete our purpose rule the world."

Howard Stark says things like, “We can do great good for this world, son.” Gene Khan’s mom said things like, “You will complete our purpose and rule the world.”

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So the Mandarin's ten magic-- er, 'Makluan technology' rings are actually artifacts from these goofy looking aliens?

So the Mandarin’s ten magic– er, ‘Makluan technology’ rings are actually artifacts from these wacky looking aliens?

Let’s cram season two into a sentence: Tony’s father Howard is not actually dead but kidnapped by the Mandarin and forced to help him acquire more power while Iron Man tries to carry on despite his company being stolen, and just about everybody from corporate big wigs to AIs and even nutjob students taking aim at him, though ultimately unsuccessfully thanks to his whiny friend James Rhodes, bi-polar friend Pepper Potts, and an almost completely reassembled cast of the Avengers movie.

Hulk shows up for the finale, and punches a big alien machine... Where have we seen that before?

Hulk shows up for the finale, and punches a big alien machine… Where have we seen that before?

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Sure,, this season's sudden focus on the Avengers cast was just coincidence...

Sure, this season’s sudden focus on the Avengers cast was just coincidence…

Who dons armor this season? (The shorter list would be who doesn’t.) Yes, Pepper does, to our chagrin, corporate nutjob Justin Hammer, Howard Stark, even Tony’s grandson from the future, plus of course the entire armored rogue’s gallery of the Marvel Universe. Even non-armored characters like Magneto wore armor.

The Ghost is still a cool character not easily beat. Magneto in armor? Hmmm. And the winner of this season's goofiest armor is Iron Man 2099. Are those your glow in the dark pajamas?

The Ghost is still a cool character not easily beat. Magneto in armor? Hmmm. And the winner of this season’s goofiest armor is Iron Man 2099. Are those your glow in the dark pajamas?

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But the stand out depiction, and the most pleasant surprise of the season was that of Doctor Doom. It was the best depiction we have seen of him since John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run back in the day. A great voice and modulation, and his wacky mix of tech and magic. Okay, they retconned his magic to be “really advanced quantum technology.” It was the only slip up, and unnecessary.

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"Kneel before doom!"

“Kneel before Doom!”

It was great to see young Iron Man, before he came into the fullness of his power, get his butt swiftly and mercilessly kicked. He was totally outclassed, which was a nice change up since he kicked butt all season long. Doom’s visual effects were different and exciting. He was not dumbed or powered down. We give props to shows when they do not emasculate the powerful veteran to make the newbie star look good (Huntik also handled this well).

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"Check out my cool stealth armor and space armor. Huh? You think the red lights give my stealth armor away?"

“Check out my cool stealth armor and space armor. Huh? You think the red lights give my stealth armor away?”

Iron Man: AA offers a fun glimpse into lesser known Marvel universe characters. Their depictions are solid and worthy of them. We can even forgive the shameless latching-on to the phenomenally successful Avengers movie cast. Tony, in slightly unbelievable fashion, cranks out new armor types to please fans of the franchise. (Most of them, thankfully, retain the round uni-beam.) Overall, it is a finely crafted show still worth watching.

PS – This looks like the end of production for Iron Man Armored Adventures. It was a good and entertaining two-season run. We would enjoy seeing more of it.

When in the Hulkbuster armor, Tony needs only say, "Talk to the hand."

When in the Hulkbuster armor, Tony needs only say, “Talk to the hand.”

"This commute is really starting to stink..."

“This commute is really starting to stink…”

Check out another rock anthem theme song. It rawks:

Check out other Iron Man related takes:

Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2008] Season 1

Iron Man (anime) [2011] Season 1

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 2

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow [2008]

Check out some of our other Marvel takes:

Green Lantern: The Animated Series [2011] Season 1

Hulk Vs Thor [2009]

Thor: Tales of Asgard [2011]

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 [2012]

~or~

Clash of the Hoodies (the revenge)!

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A showdown five years in the making. It took 3000 words and four movies. But we finally experienced the epic, battle of destinies set up since Underworld came out in 2003. Did we say “experienced?” Okay, well, sort-of…

Featuring the goofy expressions of Michael Sheen's Aro; volume one!

Featuring the goofy expressions of Michael Sheen’s Aro; volume one!

Breaking Dawn Part 2 in a sentence! Bella’s a vampire– but its okay, she has superpowers now and cannot stop gushing about how great it is (to lose your soul…ugh) while meanwhile, her child is growing freakishly fast, and the Volturi gather the entire brotherhood of evil mutants to cleanse her and the entire Cullen clan from the face of the monster infested Pacific Northwest… well, kinda, but not really.

CLASH OF THE HOODIES!

CLASH OF THE HOODIES!

Dakota Fanning as Jane? You're in this movie? I think she has one line. Nice Yu-Gi-Oh! make-up by the way.

Dakota Fanning as Jane? You’re in this movie? We think she has like one line. Nice Yu-Gi-Oh! make-up by the way.

It’s been a long time since the quirky little low budget film, Twilight (2008) came out and we thought it an interesting take. Since then we have been assaulted by dull, self absorbed movies, crazed teens, crazed moms, Team Jacob, Team Edward, Twilight backpacks, neck-biting parties, and perhaps a long list of dissatisfied women. No ladies, vampires are not real. “Edward” is not coming to sweep you from your diaper-laden mundane life and dote over you incessantly.

Alice is back, with hair that seems to be getting more scary and severe by the movie.

Alice is back, with hair that seems to be getting more scary and severe by the movie.

Bella has experienced many a fantasy, and now tops it off with:

  1. Youth forever
  2. Never tiring
  3. A grown little girl, without all those annoying diaper changes and feedings. Instant family.
  4. A new house!
  5. Superpowers!
We're not seeing a lot of sparklin' here...

We’re not seeing a lot of sparklin’ here…

The new home thing was laid on pretty thick. Likely a fantasy for many a female. A cute little honeymoon cottage in the woods, seen at night. Soft lighting, ready nursery, A CLOSET STOCKED WITH CLOTHES, etc.

Why so sad Charlie? You had two lines this movie instead of the usual one!

Why so sad Charlie? You had two lines this movie instead of the usual one!

"This is what all Euro effete super snobs wear. You are impressed, no?"

“This is what all Euro effete super snobs are wearing this spring (and every spring). You are impressed, no?”

We have to hand one thing to Kristen Stewart, though. Whether she’s grown as an actress or the script called for it, she tried a new acting method that calls for more than one facial expression.

Uh... We didn't say she did it successfully...

Uh… We will leave you to judge the results for yourself… Yes, the character Bella goes from the most uninteresting girl in the world to the most unlikeable.

The werewolves pretty much were a no-show in the film, not that there weren’t a few computer-generated wolves in the so-called final battle scene. Rather any of the actors who play them were non-factors, and even Jacob seemed reduced to a few bit scenes, and a rather gratuitous stripping in front of Charlie. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed, the series still goes out of its way to show Taylor Lautner’s 18 abs.

"Yeah, whatever. I'm just glad to finally eat something other that Slim Fast and Nutri-System.

“Yeah, whatever. I’m just glad to finally get to eat something other than Slim Fast and Nutri-System. I’m hungry!”

And is it just us, or are the euro effete Volturi, who seem so obsessed with vampire secrecy, rather cavalier with using their powers. Cavalier about marching a company of vampires across a frozen tundra wearing robes out of the ninth century?

You will FEAR the POWER OF THE HOOD!

You will FEAR the POWER OF THE HOOD!

Remember when I used to be the strongest vampire?

“Remember when I used to be the strongest vampire?”

What about the final showdown? Did it happen? Well, no. The movie abused an old technique, showing a massive and consequential fight scene. They killed off main characters and dramatically showed many things. But was it cheap? Yes, because it never really happened. “Oh, it was just a vision…” Ugh.

"I'm glad to have a cool pose. What? I'm about to die? Uh, again?"

“I’m glad to have a cool pose. What? I’m about to die? Uh, again?”

ddd

The goofy expressions of Michael Sheen’s Aro; volume two!

Vampires are evil. Twilight tried to change that with the introduction of a ‘good’ clan. When you see the attempt at morality displayed by characters like Carlisle and Edward, you might say they were doing as best as they could without a soul. But Bella? She was NOT the kind of person that should have been turned into a vampire. She already seemed to have little core, and now she seems ripe to be corrupted by power. Maybe there’s a lesson in here after all…

Kellan Lutz rocked some cool shots. We are glad he was played well in this scene.

Kellan Lutz rocked some cool shots. We were glad he was played well in this scene.

________________________________

The Twilight Saga:

Twilight 2008

New Moon 2009

Eclipse 2010

Breaking Dawn – part 1 – 2011

Breaking Dawn – part 2 – 2012

Ultimate Spider-Man [2012] Season 1: 26 Episodes

Made for 6th Graders…By 6th Graders?

Ultimate_Spider_man_peter_parker_two thumbs up

Some takes, like the ones on Sleeping Beauty, Wing Commander, and Brisco County Junior are labors of love. This take on Ultimate Spiderman was just labor. This show straddles the borderline of being below the criteria for our attention. The shows schizophrenic nature yields scenes that are definitely way below our criteria, and some that are just barely above.

"I hope you do not mean me."

“I hope you do not mean me.”

An evil dark elf? Hellboy? Man-bat? Huh, it's the Green Goblin? Really?

An evil dark elf? Hellboy? Man-bat? Huh, it’s the Green Goblin? Really?

If you’re looking for show that’s trying to be hip to grammar school boys and their fantasies of heroic action, this is it. The “Peter Parker – average kid” angle is hit very hard. Almost every episode includes the “amusing antics” of his life with aunt May, bullies at school, problems with friends, and generally life balance issues.

Oh no. The Hulk AND Aunt May both get a cold the same day. ANd peter has to nurse them both while they reside in the same house. ...yes, this really was a plot.

Oh no. The Hulk AND Aunt May both get a cold the same day? And Peter has to nurse them both while they reside in the same house? Oh, the hijinks ensue… ugh. (…yes, this really was a plot.)

A schizophrenic season in a sentence? Spiderman is unfathomably recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. and given a Spidey cycle (*cough* toy marketing *cough*) and for some reason groomed to be a leader, even though he’s one of the most solo acts of the Marvel universe, and in that contrived role is forced to team up with a group of multi-cultural teenaged superheroes as they battle super criminals out of their league, come across questionable depictions of established Marvel characters, and bash you over the head with trying to be hip.

"A wise man knows that bashing people over the head is a last resort." Well voiced Iron Fist was one of the few consistently enjoyable characters.

“A wise man knows that bashing people over the head is a last resort.” (Well voiced Iron Fist was one of the few consistently enjoyable characters.)

In contrast, the similarly off-beat Batman the Brave and the Bold started out semi-seriously (in its first 13 episodes) and had just enough good shows and clever writing to appeal broadly. Ultimate Spiderman smashes you in the face with constant cutaways to super deformed versions of characters doing inane things.

What is with that jaw? It is like the roundest one EVAR. Note they did NOT leave it so when he donned the mask.

What’s with that jaw? It’s like the roundest one EVAR. Note they did NOT leave it so when he donned the mask.

That touches upon our chief criticism of the series, it’s constant cutting away out of the narrative. Under the guise of being hip and different, the producers freeze anytime they want in order to fill in plot holes or say something to keep the viewer interested. It can allow the storytelling to become lazy when you know you can always explain something away in such a segment rather than showing it.

"Ah, before you do your crazy Wolverine thing again, can you explain what you are doing here in Times Square, New York City?"

“Ah, before you do your crazy Wolverine thing again, can you explain what you’re doing here in Times Square, New York City?”

This also has the unfortunate side effect of breaking up the action beats and diluting the drama. It does have its fun moments, but this mechanic was overused. Some of the cutaway content also seemed overindulgent. While we may have understood 1950s style “Leave It to Beaver” and 1930s style the “Wizard of Oz” theming for a couple of these segments, we wonder how many sixth-graders did.

One person who would get those references is Stan Lee. He voiced Stan the Janitor.

One person who would get those references is Stan Lee. He voiced Stan the Janitor.

The plots were contrived. And to use a cliche, forcing a leadership role onto high school aged Peter Parker/Spidermen is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The last two episodes, the finale of the season, were particularly filled with forced contrivances with Spiderman telling his team to, “Stay out of this! I need to do it alone.” Please.

MJ, like everyone else in this series, did not listen.

MJ, like everyone else in this series, did not listen.

It was fun seeing Clark Gregg reprise his oft-played role of “Agent Coulson.” Overall, the show had some decent effects, some decent action scenes, and rather standard art direction.

Ultimate_Spider_man_concept01

Marvel Universe Character Depictions Rated:

  • Ironman: Playboy angle overplayed, and not very likable.
  • Hulk: Rather contrived usage.
  • Doctor Doom: Decent effort, but lacking… something.
  • Captain America: Solid and well done.
  • Wolverine: Eh. Kinda one-dimensional. (And out of place!)
Ultimate_Spider_man_wolverine_is nice and patient

“Whoa! Okay, sorry Wolverine. Take it easy. There are nine-year-olds watching.”

We will spare you talk about the “Spider-ham” episode. we may watch next season for casual entertainment, but we doubt, unless it changes greatly, we will be doing any more takes on the series.

Spiderham and THIS guy in the same show?

SpiderHAM and THIS guy in the same series?

Check out some of our other Marvel takes:

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow [2008]

Hulk Vs Thor [2009]

Thor: Tales of Asgard [2011]

Iron Man (anime) [2011] Season 1

Iron Man: Armored Adventures [2008] Season 1

The Legend of Korra [2012] Season 1: 12 Episodes

All Your Old Friends (are poorly replaced)

Look, it’s Aang from the original show! Why so angry? Oh, you watched this series… Well, we only get a few confusing flashbacks of you anyway. (Nice hipster beard.)

If you liked Avatar: The Last Airbender for all its interesting qualities, the sequel series, The Legend of Korra may not be for you. Avatar groupies who like anything Avatar (including the live action movie, and even James Cameron’s Avatar) should read with caution.

Brace yourself for the world’s worst love quadrangle.

We were fond of the original Avatar series. It depicted a carefully crafted universe influenced by the few who could “bend” elements. It featured a likable cast, deep backstory, and plots both personal and grand. Korra portrays:

  • The entire bending universe haphazardly transported to the American 1920s.
  • One supporting cast brother who is overly stiff and unlikable.
  • The other supporting cast brother who is a total goober and whose misspeaks get old.
  • A lead character who goes from annoying to… er, no change there.

Meet the new avatar. She’s churlish and puerile! (Uh, those aren’t good qualities.) She’s a jerk in a world of jerks, weaklings, and megalomaniacs.

You will also find episodes that are consistently no fun because:

  1. The “good guys” always lose, being one step behind.
  2. Our “heroes” make the world’s worst decisions without fail.
  3. The romantic narrative is purposely uncomfortable.

Tensin is opposite to young Aang in every way, despite being his son. (He also spends the season being the straight man for every joke at the hands of his kid’s and Korra’s childishness.)

Why are we in the 1920s? Was the previous setting so bad? Dull? Uninteresting? They went all out: Cars, airplanes, and even a 1920s radio newsie narration. For technology to have advanced so far in just 70 years was bizarre. Seeing Korra ride down the street on a polar bear was just dumb.

Oh, did we mention there are also combat mech suits? What the heck?! Someone mentioned to us that the show felt a little like a “Batman Universe.”

One of these characters is interesting, and the other a dipstick.

The show does have some bright spots. The voice work was well done. The main villain’s voice especially, which carried well his malevolent intent. Most of the voice cast hit the mark, but this does not mean the lines they said carried an enjoyable plot.

The art direction was also very good, especially noticeable in the vehicles (airships, mech suits, etc.) and specialty sets (like the bending competition arena). The character design was less impressive overall, but with solid hits like Amon and Asami. She was visually different and well done. Almost out of place among the standard dull designs of many other characters.

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful… or rich, or smart, or brave, an excellent driver, master martial artist…”

The new avatar is an aggressive, annoying, headstrong, unwise, impulsive (have we said annoying?) teenaged girl. She lacks respect. This is the lead protagonist of the entire show? A poor foundation indeed. If she has a true internal arc of growth, it has not started despite a whole season’s worth of episodes.

A stiff, a fox, and a dullard (in that order…). Is this show even about bending?

The romantic interaction was a real turn-off. Manipulative on purpose. The stiff, dull brother has a brief infatuation with Korra before getting into a relationship with the surprisingly smart, competent, pretty and undeniably interesting Asami. Then he makes an abrupt, completely witless, and disrespectful turn back to Korra. Those two dull lumps deserve each other. Never was there a romance for which we rooted less…

Ugh. Korra actually surpassed Bella from Twilight (okay, almost) as the new “least interesting girl in the world.”

There were a lot of political messages. The shallow appeal of the communist, “Equalist” message apparently appealed to the moronic city populace, and we gained little care for their welfare. Nor did we for the feckless and impotent ruling council swayed by the underhanded antics of every bad guy that came along. The whole season felt insular and small.

Asami knows how to strike a pose, but does she know her own father? (She may also wonder what she is doing in this series). She turned out to be genuinely nice and true, and did not deserve the treatment she got.

The most fun we had with this season was during professional arena bending games shown in the first few episodes (and then stopped in lieu of stupider plot prospects). It was an interesting set up with engagement zones and 3-person teams, each set up with water, fire, and earth benders.

“Wave to the crowd and have fun! (It’s the most you’ll have this season.)”

If this show was no relation to the original Avatar series, and just called “Fred’s Elemental Powers Adventure,” we’d cut it more slack. But it’s not. So do the franchise justice, producers.

“Do the franchise justice, or I’ll use this on your face!”

Lin Beifong, daughter of the original series earthbender Toph, was one of the few characters that grew on us. She started brusque, but had a significant (and rare for this series) arc.

At the rate technology is advancing in the Airbender universe, Korra’s grandchild will be the space avatar of distant world Rigel 12…

“Is this Mars?”

Check out our Avatar related Takes:

Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005–2008)

The Legend of Korra [2012] Season 1

 

She’s a jerk in a world of jerks, weaklings, and megalomaniacs.