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.’)

Real-iron-man-cosplay-costume

"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.”

Iron_Man_literal cosplay

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?

Iron_Man_boy_hulk_cosplay_

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?

Iron_Man_Armored_Adventures_doctor_doom_castle

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.

Iron_Man_Armored_Adventures_doctor_doom_victor_beat

"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).

Iron_Man_Armored_Adventures_Season_2_doctor_doom_advanced_rendering

"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 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.

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes [2012] Season 2: Conclusion

The 2nd (& final) Season Delivers Super-Heroically

The first season of the show was somewhat disjointed, but showed great promise. We are happily surprised to say that the second season lived up to that promise and then some. The shows credits are expansive, so we shall suffice it to say that whoever took control this season knew what they were doing.

What happened to the Enchantress? Oh, she’s agreeing that this season was on fire.

Oh look, Agent Hill was back. And she’s still an uber-jerk. (She needs to go on a date or something…)

It is not a kids show, although they will enjoy the action. It is a serious show well-suited to adult fans of the Marvel universe. The series smartly called upon some of comic’s greatest storylines. It is of course nearly impossible to do a multi-issue comics storyline in one or two twenty minute animated episodes. But props go to their trying, and for the most part succeeding.

Is Thor free from girl trouble? “I say thee nay.”

Uh, there’s no shortage of powerful females… with attitude.

This season dug into the personal stories of the avengers. Pulled from the pages of comic books, we got to see Capt. America learn of the Winter Soldier story and face off against his arch enemy, the Red Skull. We went through Hank Pym’s draconian Yellowjacket phase. And they did a pretty good job retelling the classic Beta Ray Bill story from the pages of Walt Simonson’s Thor.

“Verily, NONE can wield Thor’s hammer Mjolnir!”

“For sooth! Perhaps I was hasty…”

While the animation is just okay, the art direction is classic and well-done. The voice work is fitting and a lot of fun The soundtrack is good for such a series; listen for the awe-inspiring choral arrangements when Thor cuts loose. We still maintain that this show displays the best and truest depictions of Thor and Ironman we have seen in some time.

Uh, not that one.

Ah. that’s more like it. Yay repulsors!

Of course it wasn’t all flowers and roses. There were too many “evil twin” episodes for our tastes (oh those crafty shape-shifters). The depiction of the fantastic four was particularly bad (aside from Ben Grimm). Try not to cringe when you hear Reed Richards voice. also, the finale was fittingly against Galactus, arguably the heaviest hitter in the Marvel universe. However what could have easily been a two-parter or even an arc was crammed into one short twenty minute episode.

You can’t cram a foe of this scale… literally, into one episode. (We could barely cram him into one picture.)

They did, for the most part, keep the avengers foes on the upper and where they should be. This is, after all, a collection of Marvel’s most powerful heroes. So Kree and Skrull invasions, Doctor Doom, Kang the Conqueror, etc., are all in a day’s work. There was also excellent sub-plots with Hulk versus Red Hulk, and Ultron’s creation, the Vision.

“Red Hulk smash? …er, scheme!”

The “Emperor Stark” episode was incredibly ambitious, and our fave of the season. You sleep for a few days and wake up to this? Huh!?

They had a good grip on the characters, and few were shortchanged. Thor was depicted properly as super powerful, yet did not have to lead. Captain America was rising into the leadership role to which he is so well suited, despite being on the low-power end.

“I’m looking at YOU thunder god.”

The season was delayed. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes. The show just hit its stride, and while not being cancelled, is transforming into Avengers Assemble, a new series. Was this season too good to be true? Hopefully this transition will be weathered as well as Justice League to Justice League Unlimited (although we did prefer the former).

Repulsors for everyone!

Bonus Quiz!

Who is this mysterious character?

  1. Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.
  2. Darkseid.
  3. One of those Michael Bey transformers… they all look the same.
  4. War Machine

Check out our Takes on All Seasons

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 1

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes Season 2

Check out related takes:

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

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens [2012]

A Step Backwards

(…then a trip and fall.)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens is without the doubt the weakest entry in the growing library of the franchise. And when we say “weakest,” we are being generous. It was terrible. A true disappointment. Perhaps this is even more so because we have come to expect and mostly gotten better from Man of Action’s series.

Evil Way Big rages! Rages against Destroy All Aliens!

Our patented one-sentence synopsis will save you the headache of this dog: Extra annoying prepubescent Ben and Gwen experience an untold adventure (which should have remained untold) shoehorned into the first series continuity but with little regard to the characters or fun-factor in which Ben and company have a series of the most boring action scenes only to discover the boring secret behind the miserable encounters, oh, and along the way Ben learns the politically correct meaning of schoolwork (this message brought to you by the National Government School Ass.).

In an incredible twist, homework is more enjoyable than Destroy All Aliens.

Ben and Gwen were more unlikeable than ever depicted. Their banter, which we suppose was to be the family squabble type, was more of the “these two really hate each other” type. Each of their encounters made them more unsympathetic than the last.

Abuse of power. Try not to let this depiction cloud your fine memories of Ben 10. (Maybe it is all a dream, like that season of Dallas. -Look it up, true believers.)

Gwen; too powerful (and liberal with those powers) than originally depicted Ben 10, had abilities more akin to the Alien Force era. Unfitting on such an annoying child. Grandpa Max, a character we used to like a lot more, had his lines and contribution reduced to about five versions of, “Hey, cut it out you two.”

Max Tennyson: World’s toughest babysitter.

The character treated the worst was Azmuth, the long-lived, venerable, sometimes wise, scientific, and reclusive father figure of the show. Normally a great and fun character in his rare appearances. Here, he was voiced awfully. He was whiny instead of his detached cantankerousness we have come to expect. A horrid depiction topped off with the inexplicable decision to introduce HIS father… Huh? Really? Why? (There is no good answer.)

It was more like Azmuth’s son than Azmuth… What was with this outfit? Why is he smiling? Why is he wearing swim fins?

The computer generated animation was awful. Not stylized simple, just simple. Not flat colored for the cartoony look, shaded simple for rendering on the intern’s netbook they borrowed for this “feature.”

We could say something snarky here about the computer graphics… but we just do not have the heart… We will just say they could have done better.

The only bright spot was the returning alien, Tetrax. He is a fun and sympathetic character. His race forms the template of the omnitrix Diamondhead transformation. He was well voiced, though his part and lines did not make much sense. His cool iceman styled travel method was the only entertaining visual in the feature.

Actual quote by Tetrax to Gwen: “Is this what you’re like with Ben? I can see why he complains about you.”

Destroy all Aliens crams five minutes of confusing plot into one hour and nine minutes of paradoxically boring action. Pointless dream-like sequences in empty environments that were not rooted even in the reality of the feature. You know what action sequences are like when you do not care who wins? Its gets old fast.

The one bright spot, Tetrax, could not illuminate the plot. Additionally his crystal composition and shards were, uh, very un-crystal-looking.

It was just weird, too, how after comments from Gwen, we were supposed to just accept that Azmuth’s father was of a whole different race, and a non-biological one at that. Look, unless you have been forced to babysit horridly unruly kids, or have your own children that need to be punished, skip this sub-par entertainment.

For those who are fans of the franchise and have followed it from the start, this pointless feature should stay below your notice. In our opinion it adds nothing good to the Ben 10 universe. If you have a four-year-old whom you would like to experience this franchise for the first time, watch season one of Ben 10 and not this confusing, befuddling, and boring piece.

“Why are we here!?”

(PS – The Wildmutts were awful.)

Check out our Ben 10 franchise takes:

Alien Force Season 1

Alien Force Season 2

Alien Force Season 3

Ultimate Alien Season 1

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (part 1)

Ultimate Alien Season 2 (Conclusion)

Ben 10: Destroy All Aliens

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2011] Season 4: 22 Episodes

All Your Favorite Characters

(are hardly in this season)

If we may start in the movie-guy voice: “In a world– er, universe, where everything goes wrong for the good guys, and Jedi are ineffectual playthings to be outwitted, tortured, and slaughtered…”

See Anakin outwitted (not too hard in his case) by Dooku.

See Obi Wan Kenobi beat up, tortured, and enslaved. Ugh. He deserves better.

The series continued its format of filling 22 episodes with four or five multi-part arcs. It worked, allowing deeper plots and characterization than possible in one-off 20 minute episodes. This meant the choice and quality of story and writing were more important than ever. A bad writing effort could now sink three episodes at once! That’s bang for your writing buck.

Sadly, this was too often the case regarding the last couple seasons of this series. Really good visuals tied to high school writing efforts. The franchise, we must reiterate, did not do itself any favors placing the setting between Star Wars Episodes II & III. It is the darkest, most depressing era of the timeline, capped by the empire’s complete takeover in Revenge of the Sith. Anyone would be hard pressed to make a balance of episodes in that environment, much less writing interns.

Like all female TV partner interns, Ahsoka gets sent undercover in fetching outfits.

Ahsoka protects the little boy king… “I know he’s a squid, but isn’t he dreamy?”

However, the visuals continued to impress. From underwater environments to desert; daytime scenes and moody night, the visual team knew what they were doing. Considering the colossal scale of scenes thrown at them, and the number of different characters, and the tremendous amount of scene blocking, they did an entertaining job with the writing they were given.

What? Even Hutts get into the action? Nice headpiece. You playing on your X-Box or something?

The series was still seriously lacking in comeuppance. The good guys lost lives by the star destroyer loads, while the bad guys usually just lost a few machines. Bad guy leaders killed indiscriminately for episodes, only to receive no justice, or a quick end not fully satisfying the penalty for their gratuitous homicide.

Sharky here killed for three episodes with incomplete comeuppance satisfaction.

“Anti-depressants we have. Yeeass.”

What about first tier characters like Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi? Yeah, we did not get to spend much time with them. We got episodes where C3PO somehow bumbled into being a hero spending time with boring aliens for which we cared little. Speeder loads of second tier characters interacting with whiny arc characters.

“Pay attention you must. Hardly in this season we are.”

Oh look, we got to spend three episodes with no-name characters after spending a couple with the droids as the stars… all in a row? Noble clones got their lives uselessly thrown away by a jerky, uncaring  and ultimately turncoat general. But do not worry. After thee episodes of pointless carnage lit by a 40 watt bulb, the general (and his tired plot) did get comeuppance. Well, that’s one.

(BTW, he doesn’t look evil, does he?)

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful (and a slaver).”

Otherwise its a whole season of traitors, slavers, criminals, and sith. The Star Wars universe is either uglier than we ever thought, or we just see the seedy underside each and every episode.

Obi-Wan finally gets a part… But he spends three episodes looking like this!?

A certain amount of action could be counted upon, often good and exciting. It was cool to see the bounty hunter Cad Bain in action again. He is a fun returning villain. His multi-episode arc was one of the better. The effects and music were quality too. However the overall feel of the season was not one that we looked forward to. We just started caring less.

The title was turned red for the supposedly super special return of the Sith…

The restoration of Darth Maul was a big deal (he was sliced in half at the end of Phantom Menace, after all). Perhaps they were getting desperate for ratings. The arc was strange, contrived, and a little unresolved. But it was interesting and the saber battles decent. Obi Wan (our favorite character in the series) and Ventress, opposites for sure, made an unusual but entirely fun team to wrap the season.

Huh? Wait a minute… Star Trek and Star Wars? When universes collide!

“Just because we teamed up, doesn’t mean we are going steady or anything.”

Check out related takes:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2008] Season 1

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2009] Season 2

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2010] Season 3

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2011] Season 4

Wing Commander [1999]

Okay, something does not blow up every other second, but it does make for an exciting take introduction.

Wing Commander is an under-appreciated science-fiction film with slick effects and solid production values. It tried to accomplish much, and like most movies, did not hit everything aimed for. At times it touches upon poignant themes that resonate with the nature of mankind. Occasionally, it lapses into derivative moments not worthy of these higher concepts.

“What are you doing Admiral Towlyn?” — “Ruminating on poignant themes that resonate with the nature of mankind.”

It also stars Freddie Prinze Jr., who we enjoyed in the role. However, he did use this expression an awful lot.

Our patented synopsis in a sentence: Humanity, still recovering from a civil war, now face an alien cat-like (and poorly realized) enemy who after conspiring with a traitor (cut from the movie) are on the verge of destroying Earth not realizing they are about to be stopped by a fresh faced young band of hip (and good-looking)  heroes with attitude, flying skinny fighters, getting oppressed by “the man,” squeezing in some smooching, and occasionally breaking the laws of physics.

“Look Ma! I’m breakin’ the laws of physics!”

“I’m your wing commander. What? Not what you were expecting? We’re just as fabulous looking as movie archeologists.” (See Jack Hunter & Librarian takes.)

Chris Roberts, the father of the popular Wing Commander games of the 1990s, got a rare chance to realize his vision on the big screen. Did he get enough time and money to realize it fully? No. But was he bold enough, and perhaps new enough to Hollywood to include uncommon, worthwhile themes? Yes.

Chris Roberts does his cameo. (Don’t think it’s easy performing a salute in a skinny little fighter.)

Chris Roberts: “Hey, I’m gonna grab a beer, you direct this scene yourself.”

Dedication, selflessness, (occasional stupidity,) and duty are exemplified by our endangered heroes. While none of them are exactly Audie Murphy (the most decorated United States soldier of World War II), they do personify the brash, indestructibility of youth. They play off veterans of varying character and temperament who put up with their juvenile notions of fighter jock-ism.

Some early Wing Commander test footage.

Jürgen Prochnow plays a veteran of one temperament: Puckered.

Yup. Freddie Prinze Jr. really liked this expression…

There is also a Pilgrim subplot highlighting heritage and faith. This is quite the departure from modern era, faithless, counterculture garbage Hollywood often upchucks (believe us, we know). We found it to be a most pleasing foundation which gives the movie depth beyond that provided by hipster actors and quick action.

“I am not a hipster.” Tcheky Karyo (don’t ask us to pronounce it , we speak Kryptonian) did a fine job with an interesting character.

“Physics dead ahead captain!” — “Prepare to break the law!”

Young Christopher Blair, the part made famous by Mark Hamil in the later Wing Commander games, was portrayed by Freddie Prinze Jr. He was pleasantly likable.

… uh… It’s a good thing we liked Freddie Prinze Jr.’s (over)use of this expression. Now what does it remind us of. . .

Tcheky Karyo played the grizzled mentor with the mysterious past (classic; like Obi Wan Kenobi, but with 70% more grizzle). His role, like Prinze’s, was not one that pushed acting to its very experimental limit. But both hit solid notes within the material they were given, and bettered the movie.

“You young whipper snappers and your fancy armor. When I was young, all we took into battle were these cool-looking camouflage pajamas.”

Perhaps mistakenly, the movie tried to reinvent the Wing Commander franchise. This may have alienated and disappointed those familiar with it. Additionally, 20th Century Fox gave the film a bum deal, poorly marketing it because they were only its distributor, not its producer. They also bungled the release date. All these factors contributed to a rough box-office run.

Hmm. You don’t think they literally meant that it was only in theaters that one day… It would explain a lot.

Buy the toy now! Oh, wait. Never mind.

The production design was instructed to make World War II in space; they largely succeeded in an entertaining, occasionally silly way. Digital Anvil’s computer graphics and pilot displays added interesting, distinctive spice. However one area in which the visuals fell flat was the alien Kilrathi. Ugh.

Matthew Lillard takes it to the Axis powers!

Zany expressions for everyone! It’s the new rage in space.

The Kilrathi were brought to life well in the filmed game scenes, and at reasonable (though not cheap) cost. The “expensive” movie versions, however, did not even live up to that, looking horribly plastic. The producers knew it too, cutting scenes which featured them and reducing their shots to quarter-second flash cuts.

“No pictures! No pictures!”

The flight deck was a big set made from some old industrial facility. (It was later converted into a sweatshop for Twilight merchandise.)

You will enjoy computer-generated space scenes that look as good as model work, huge sets, full-sized fighter mockups, and lots of goofy expressions from likable actors.

Don’t let this happen to your Rapier.

David Arnold’s music is excellent background to scenes which often showcase the wonder and majesty of nebula colored space.

If you like science fiction, and like action, and are capable of tuning out the fair in order to enjoy the good, we suggest you try Wing Commander. Go in with no expectations, and just enjoy yourself.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2010] Season 3: 22 Episodes

It is hard to understand why Star Wars the Clone Wars started this season’s numbering with fifteen. Is that not a little strange? A twenty-two episode season… What happened to episodes one through fourteen? Okay, okay, this is not literally the case. However it is figuratively the case.

“Short I am, and small my part is.”

It is a tale of two seasons. One through fourteen written for undiscerning children apparently by writers whose skills were closely akin to their target audience. If they had better skills than that it is too bad they were forced into a junior high writing class box. The overall problem is still compounded by the series setting. That is right at the most depressing point in the Star Wars timeline.

These two still cannot get along. Obi Wan Kenobi and General Grievous have battled for seasons. It is one of this show’s dwindling highlights.

It is hard to explain just how badly written the first 14 episodes are. It is as though they were assignments to students in a middle school dramatic TV writing class. They tried to hit all the formulaic highs and lows, but they were more or less empty. Assignments crammed together the night before they were due. Something the interns did why the adult writers were on vacation.

How about this stereotypic goofball? It is like the show is going out of its way to create such characters.

It would not matter that much if it was only a few episodes, but it was three quarters of the season. These episodes did not prominently feature primary characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Asoka. They did not even star secondary characters like Yoda. What about tertiary characters like clone Capt. Rex? Nope. We are not sure what comes after ‘tertiary’, but those are the characters with whom most of this season is spent. Nameless clone trooper cadets, the droids, Padme, etc., or gag -worst of all, Jar Jar Binks. Ugh.

However they did manage to write in Chewbacca. You would have to have a lizard’s brain to go hand-to-hand against a wookie.

Blockade Runners go faster because they have more engines.

We would not be so harsh if we did not know that they CAN make good episodes. Fifeteen through twenty-two were mature, entertaining, and still fun for the youngsters. However these eight episodes, the only ones of worth this season, consisted of only three multipart stories. A three-part episode with super force beings. Weird but interesting.

Apparently there is a contest at Skywalker ranch regarding who can make the ugliest Jedi master.

A three-part episode where the stars have to infiltrate a prison to free a young Capt. Tarkin. While it was predictable, and dangerous if you are not one of the stars, it was well done.

Captain Tarkin versus the bad guy checklist: Crimped brows? Check. Widow’s peak hair? Check. The world’s cheekiest cheek bones? Definitely. A subtle sneer -> Bonus. See him promoted to Grand Moff below in Star Wars a New Hope.

The final two episodes were all right. In a normal season they would rate low, however in this season they were definitely top half. Asoka is stranded on the planet with Jedi younglings. It may be one of the most contrived settings ever, but considering what happened the first three quarters of the season we cannot bring ourselves to zing it much. Except to say that Asoka was all of a sudden pretty weak without her lightsaber after kicking some serious butt all season long.

Ventress: “I told you I would kill the next person who served me a beverage with Nutra Sweet.”

Should you watch season three? Not the first 14 episodes. Perhaps if you feel we have lowered your expectations sufficiently, and for some reason you have time to spare… Well we cannot stop you, but we did warn you. As for the last eight, yeah go ahead. They did not really change the series or move any of the major arcs forward. But that is one of the show’s problems. What can they really do? We know what happens to the Jedi, we know what happens to most of the knights, the Senate, the war, the clone troopers, the stars… etc.

Obi Wan is one of the few mostly likable characters: “…Am I going to have to fight my way OUT of this series?”

Check out related takes:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2008] Season 1

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2009] Season 2

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2010] Season 3

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2011] Season 4