Category Archives: Cartoons

The Dark Knight Returns, Pt 2 Panel Highlights (NYCC)

I attended the panel for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 at the New York Comic Con with executive producer Bruce Timm and dialogue director Andrea Romano. Together they have basically built the entire animated universe and have done an outstanding job in doing so.

The panel led off with the trailer for the movie. A sequel to the Dark Knight Rises, Part 1 (obviously) it picks up right where the first left off. Batman is back, the Joker wants a piece of him, as does the Gotham Police Department. The government is against Batman as well, which is why they put Superman (who is basically the President’s lackey) into action to stop him. Check it out for yourself:

When talking about the decision to make this story into two separate movies, Bruce Timm said that there was no way this could ever be done right as one film. Furthermore, both movies had to be green-lit at the same time. He didn’t want to make the first part and see how it did before working on the second. It was all or nothing and thankfully the studio agreed to produce both movies at the same time.

Three addition scenes were shown during the panel. The first showed Batman attacking the Gotham Police on the rooftop. The music was top-notch, although to me the action seemed slightly off. Up close all the hits had impact and looked great, when they broadened the shot however the movements and speed just didn’t click for me. Next was Batman rallying his troops to not use guns, fighting with their fists and minds instead. It was referred to as the “Braveheart” speech. When you see it you’ll know why. The final clip was of the talk show scene where Joker is interviewed by David Endocrine. Endocrine is played pretty well by Conan O’Brien of all people. Romano said that he nailed getting affected by the Joker’s laugh gas in one take. What we were shown was a very tense scene that got creepier and creepier until the Joker finally went into action.

Timm noted that while he could have cast Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill to reprise their famous roles as Batman and Joker, he knew that this was a much different type of film and that he needed to reflect that tone in the voices. Peter Weller (Robocop) was an absolutely perfect fit for Batman. He was also fond of Michael Emerson’s (Lost) work as Joker. He said he doesn’t sound anything like Hamill, or Jack Nicholson, or even John Di Maggio. Romano was also impressed with his ability to do his performance through Skype, as conflicting schedules made it impossible for him to record in studio.

A couple of other notes from the panel:

-Bruce Timm revealed that Jim Gordon chews nicotine gum instead of smoking cigars because smoking in cartoons equals an automatic R rating (film is PG-13). Interestingly, swastika’s on naked women do not have the same impact (you know where I’m going if you read the comic).

-Timm also hinted at working on some films based on Grant Morrison’s work. Could this mean Arkham Asylum? R.I.P? Final Crisis?

-The first thing actually seen in the panel was the trailer for LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes United. It’s essentially Joker and Lex Luthor getting all the villains together while Batman and Superman do the same with the Justice League. The trailer was legitimately funny and will appeal to both adult comic book fans and their children. The Justice League they assemble is the New 52 version and it will be released sometime in the spring of 2013.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 is set to be released in the winter of 2013.

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Ghostbusters Goggles And More From Mattel (NYCC)

For the second straight year Mattel had a lot to show off at the New York Comic Con. Among their usual assortment of figurines and show exclusives was a peak of the latest addition to their collection of Ghostbusters equipment. To go along with the PKE meter and  ghost trap, you will soon be able to get your hands on the  goggles from the movie! Mattel did another great job recreating the classic look and you can expect to see them available sometime next year.

Here are some more pictures from Mattel’s display including DC, WWE, Masters of the Universe, Ghostbusters and the hoverboard from Back to the Future 2:

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Review

In 2010, High Moon Studios produced the best Transformers game ever made with War for Cybertron. Two years later, they’ve done it again with Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Granted, the bar was never set very high to begin with, but that doesn’t mean Fall of Cybertron (FoC) isn’t a good game.

The biggest difference between the two is in the campaign mode. Gone is the team based shooting where you pick one of three autobots or decepticons. In its place you get levels focused around one specific Transformer, and his special abilities. Jazz and his grappling hook, for example. This comes at the cost of multiplayer in the campaign, but the lack of a team based campaign makes for more scripted and dramatic gameplay. All of the characters weaved in to a solid story that incorporates the entire universe. More set pieces, more action, more more more! The story also does a good job transitioning from level to level. Where the previous game had a more defined end to each level, FoC seamlessly takes you from one adventure to another. I had to specifically decide to stop playing, not just turn it off when they told me I was done with a level.

The story does take certain liberties with the source material, especially after War for Cybertron wrapped things up so well in taking us to the start of the G1 cartoon. However if you want to fit Grimlock or Bruticus into the story, two great characters to play as, you have to take some leaps. Also as far as the campaign goes, while it is technically not split into two campaigns, the middle of the game is mostly decepticons while the autobots make up the bookends. So yeah, it’s split into two campaigns.

Underrated

Multiplayer is still fun, escalation and all of the other modes are done well enough. The creation however got a big upgrade. War for Cybertron gave you models of all of the playable Transformers and let you change their colors. Now you can individually change heads, legs, arms and torsos, which also decide what you turn into. There is also a much greater color palate to choose from. I’m not a big multiplayer guy, but I love creating things and this gives me the opportunity to create all I want, once I unlock all of the items of course. Don’t worry, following trends you can just buy items straight up for cash.

It’s a good looking game but there are some issues. The sound jumped in and out on me occasionally during my play through, and the engine stutters a little when too much is going on. This could be fixed with future updates but right now it’s a little annoying. Nothing game breaking though. Aside from that, Cybertron is a much more colorful world. Like I mentioned in my first preview for the game (here) the environments are more varied in FoC. The sun is bright and the ships are as well. There are different textures and colors and it makes the game pop without losing the rusty feel of a metallic planet. It is a very large world and it finally plays like it as well.

Despite all of the positives I have, the one thought I came away with was that I’m not sure if I would have bought this if it wasn’t a Transformers game. Mostly it’s a third person shooter with a Transformers skin. That’s great but I’m not all about shooters. I’m more of the Arkham City, Assassins Creed kind of guy. The transforming is good and that’s what I came for but once I play I barely use it. My shooter mentality kicks in and I stick to cover and strafing to get the job done, and for the most part it totally works. Some of the added technology is cool (gravity bomb FTW) but I feel like most of the times I actually transformed it was by accident since it is done by pushing the L3 button. However despite all of that, I do love Transformers so I had to buy this game immediately to get the experience, and for me getting the story and playing as my favorite characters was well worth the investment.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a love letter to Transformers fans, and is a good game that has done the best and the most with the Transformers license than any game before it. It just hasn’t gotten it 100% right yet. If you are a Transformers fan like me, then you have no reason not to buy this game. It’s everything you love about Transformers in the form of a good third person shooter. However if you wouldn’t know the matrix of leadership if it was sticking out of your chest, there are better shooters right now and this might not be the ideal game for you.

Warner Bros Animation Does the DC Universe Right

While misguided attempts at putting the Justice League in theaters and a Superman reboot cautiously on the way, Warner Bros. Animation has been producing classing stories from DC Comics time and time again. If the trailer is any indication, The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1 won’t be any different. If nothing else it has Peter “Robocop” Weller as Batman! Your move creep! Check it out:

Looks amazing right? This is nothing new for Warner Bros. Animation as they have been doing this for decades now (if you count Batman: The Animated Series). They have succeeded in all of the areas they have failed with their big budget action movies (except Batman of course because anything Batman is good). They take chances and stretch their wings. Different animation styles, different voices to fit those styles, and most importantly they tell the stories we want to see.

How many origin stories can there be? Instead of taking up and entire film introducing every single DC character, they are getting straight into the good stuff with the comics that we love. Doomsday, Red Hood, Tower of Babel, they’ve all been done and done mostly well in these movies. WB tapped into a market of real comic book fans and knows that they are the main audience of these animated features. It’s not like the major films that have to pander to everyone. Marvel took a gamble on giving everyone an origin story and if they didn’t luck out with Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark I’m not sure any of the last few years of success actually happen. Green Lantern tried to do the same thing, but Ryan Reynolds can only take you so far and unfortunately their were so many plot holes and other story issues that the most realistic looking live action take on the Green Lantern and Oa that I could have asked for got completely wasted.

Green Lantern done right

I have seen the Green Lantern movie that works though. Check out Green Lantern: First Flight, the animated feature that came to Blu-ray and DVD two years before the failure in theaters. It’s very similar in theme and hits a lot of the same notes. Hal Jordan gets the ring from a fallen Lantern and has to learn how to be a better man while the universe is in jeopardy and so on. Yet it does it so much better. First of all thanks to it being animated, most of it takes place in space, which is where he belongs. Second, Hal gets his training on the job throughout the entire movie instead of a five minute sequence followed by a bunch of crap. Third, instead of pacing it so poorly because they want to save Sinestro for a sequel, they throw the kitchen sink out there at once. The lack of limitations and big names make it so that there are just some things you can do with animation that you can’t attempt with a blockbuster movie. Want to see how a Wonder Woman movie should be made?  Go to WB Animation again. Don’t even get me started on Jonah Hex. The characters we know less about get their due, while the ones we already know (Superman/Batman) get spared of introductions and instead we get their best stories shown as we know and love them.

As far as films go this is the one area that DC clearly trumps Marvel. Marvel Animation does what they can, but it just isn’t on the same level as DC. They do a fair job, specifically with Hulk vs, but the overall quality and quantity just isn’t there. Eight films in six years, along with some poorly received anime just aren’t going to cut it. Not when DC has almost doubled their production and done so with such high quality. All this while making Justice League and Young Justice TV series that have critical acclaim as well.

DC has plenty of very good movies aside from the Dark Knight trilogy. They are just being shown on the wrong screen. Hell they even nailed it with The Flaming C!

Ninja Turtles Movie, Thundercats TV Show Both in Trouble

Two of my favorite 80s cartoon properties both appear to be in trouble.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot (just titled: Ninja Turtles), which was set to hit theaters in December of 2013, has stopped production due to issues with the script. TMNT fans were pretty much outraged when it was discovered that the teenage and the mutant aspects of the characters would be dropped completely, turning the turtles into aliens from another planet. This backlash could be partially behind why the Michael Bay produced film is being put on hold. Ninja Turtles is now scheduled to be released in May of 2014, but I won’t believe anything until I at least see a teaser.

We hardly knew you

Meanwhile in TV land the Thundercats animated series, which is wrapping up it’s first season this weekend, will be wrapping up it’s final season this weekend as well (insert nine lives joke here). Cartoon Network unveiled it’s new and returning shows today, and Thundercats was nowhere to be found. Combined with the fact that the Thundercats were absent from this years ToyFair, it’s pretty safe to say we’ve seen the last of Lion-O and the gang. It’s a shame because I really enjoyed this show. They put a slightly different angle on familiar characters to keep it new, but they didn’t go so far from the source material that the nostalgia factor was gone. More importantly the story was solid and the animation was good. Cartoon Network seems to prefer adding to the DC block of shows instead, adding Beware the Batman among it’s other new programming.

I’m not sure if it was due to poor ratings (initial numbers decent) or production costs (it has to be more expensive than The Looney Tunes Show) but I’d be curious to see if Nickelodeon or maybe even The Hub take a shot at bringing Thundercats to their network for a new season. It seems tailor made for the Hub but Nicktoons has had success with Voltron Force, so neither would surprise me. As for the Ninja Turtles movie, the only thing they need to go to get back in everyone’s good graces is to put them in the sewer where they belong. X-Men Origins: Wolverine should be all the proof you need that straying too far from the source material is a very bad idea.

“Transformers: Fall of Cybertron” E3 Updates and Gameplay

Ryan may have wrapped up our E3 coverage, but the only game I really care about at the moment is Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. We took a few shots in the dark after seeing some of the screen shots that were released in January, but thanks to E3 we now have a lot more information on what High Moon studios has been up to and some gameplay to go with it. First let’s take a look at the new trailer:

Yes there is more Grimlock and Bruticus (both confirmed playable btw), but OH MY GOD IT’S METROPLEX! War for Cybertron handed us giant bosses in the form of Trypticon and Omega Supreme, but Metroplex takes us into God of War territory in terms of size. I can only assume that he is a boss for the Decepticons at some point, but he is already more than that. It was revealed today in the FoC demo that Optimus Prime controls Metroplex, and that in-game he can target enemies for Metroplex to blow away with missels, stomp on them, or whatever else he’s capable of. This acts as a special ability for Optimus, and each playable character has their own special trait (Jazz has a grappling hook for example). This all goes along with the single player modes being solo missions. I imagine each stage will be built around a specific characters skills, which certainly adds variety to the gameplay. One more thought on Metroplex, his addition makes me wonder what the response will be to him in the Autobot campaign. Trypticon was the Decepticon equivalent in G1, so perhaps to add scale could this be where Unicron steps in? The man could be an entire level on his own.

One change you’ll notice when checking out the demo is weapon upgrade system. While you still can acquire weapons on the fly during battle, there are also weapon stores where you can purchase new weapons and upgrades to your favorite weapons using currency that you earn in-game. Another change from the way all previous Transformers games have been designed is that the story mode is not split into two separate campaigns, but instead there is one cohesive campaign that has you going back and forth between the Autobots and Decepticons. I think this is a great move for the sake of telling a story and could make it feel more like an episode of the show. High Moon has also put emphasis on character creation in multiplayer, making every limb customizable along with weapons and abilities, all the way down to the texture of your transformer. A big upgrade after the bare bones approach in War for Cybertron.

So far I’ve seen four levels. Three of them are Optimus Prime making a charge through Decepticon forces with the help of Metroplex, Starscream sneaking around the top of an Autobot stronghold with flight and stealth, and Grimlock just bashing everything in sight (including what could be insecticons?) underground. These three levels all seems pretty varied. Prime’s stage is the most like the previous game. Walk into a room, shoot everything and keep going (occasionally calling for an airstrike). Strarscream’s stage is similar to the aerial stages in the previous game, but there does seem to be more room for interpretation by using stealth and other skills I mainly just used in multiplayer before. Grimlock’s level is all close combat. His special skill is simply turning into a dinosaur mode, but it is used as if he was hulking up. When his meter maxes out he can turn into dinosaur mode for a brief period of time, where he appears indestructible and capable of a lot of damage before turning back into robot mode. The other Dinobots also appear in the game, but I do not believe either is playable. The other thing of note is that all three stages have pretty varied looks, something that was another critique of the first game.

The fourth level is the opening of the game featuring Bumblebee. The game kicks off right where the first one left us, with the Autobots trying to leave Cybertron while the Decepticons follow. Needless to say, things don’t go as Optimus planned, and it is up to Bumblebee to save the day. This ends up being the tutorial level, and shows off some pretty nice set pieces which could be a preview of the rest of the game. Don’t believe me? Check it out:

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron comes out on August 28th, and I’m surprised I haven’t already pre-ordered it.

Five 80’s Cartoons That Need To Make A Comeback

GI Joe is back, so is Voltron, My Little Pony too. Hell, Transformers never even left. It’s not breaking news to say that 80’s cartoon revivals are trending right now. So many of the shows I grew up on are back, and most of them are pretty good (Thundercats! HOOOO!). However there are still a few that for some reason have not made the journey back on TV…yet. Here are the ones I think need to be brought back immediately.

Silverhawks
Robot bird people that fly in spaceships and can also play a mean guitar solo! How did Silverhawks only last one season? Probably because it was a Thundercats clone and not as good. But that doesn’t have to mean anything now when TV and movies are all about drying the well (have enough vampire shows yet?). I don’t even care if they make new episodes, if they can just play this intro for 22 minutes once a week I’m in.

DuckTales
To be fair I could put the entire Disney weekday block on the list (Gummie Bears, Chip n’ Dale etc) but of all of them, DuckTales was the glue that held it all together. Is there a show that got more right during it’s run? Four seasons, which is a big deal for the 80’s,

Rainbow Brite
I have to be fair to both sides of the gender pool don’t I? Let’s face it, Rainbow Brite was pretty damn big. It also shows an independent girl that doesn’t have to be a tomboy. Even further, it birthed one of the more classic slutty Halloween costumes of this generation. My hat is off to you Rainbow Brite. Now check it this version of the intro that explains the entire story in such a way that you almost have to be high as a kite to follow.

Centurions
Back to the action! Centurions could easily be the inspiration for Michael Bay’s work. Three brawny dudes putting on tech suits and blowing up everything in site. The toys meanwhile could be the male equivalent to a Barbie doll. You can basically just buy one of the three and then get all the other suits and accessorize!

Captain N the Gamemaster
Was there ever a better idea? Grab the top names from the NES library (except for Mario and Zelda who had their own shows) and team them up with an everyman from the real world. Can’t miss. I’m not saying they should bring back Mega Man and Simon Belmont, but how about putting Rayman, Sackboy, Ratchet and Clank and Lara Croft. Wanna tell me you wouldn’t watch those adventures?

Any shows that I missed? Sound off in the comments and let me know.

New “Transformers: Fall of Cybertron” Screenshots

Activision recently released some new screenshots from Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, the sequel to 2010’s War for Cybertron. The game isn’t due out until this fall but these screenshots have some fairly interesting details about where the game is going.

First we have a good shot of Shockwave, Megatron’s guardian of Cybertron. He looks pretty close to his G1 form here, but I’d imagine that like with Megatron and Soundwave, he too will transform into some type of vehicle instead of his typical laser gun.

Next we have what looks like Cliff Jumper using what appears to be a new flamethrower weapon. I’m sure there will be more new toys to follow. I could be jumping the gun here, but none of these shots depict any team based fighting, which was a big part of the previous game. Is it possible that there will be a focus on solo missions this time around?

There are also a few images of Optimus Prime, Jazz and Starscream in action. The main thing I take from those is the lighting. War for Cybertron was very dark and dingy. Here however we clearly see a sun in the background, along with much brighter backdrops. Since it doesn’t exactly look like they are fighting on Earth, this either means that the end of the last game caused a shift in Cybertron’s orbit making it gravitate closer to another solar system (perhaps ours?), or they just did all their fighting at night last time. Either way I think it is a nice change of pace. It certainly works for Uncharted.

Finally there is the guy that has led the marketing campaign so far, Grimlock. We have a couple of shots of him in both robot and dinosaur mode, looking great of course. The main thing I am excited about however is that he is fighting drones. I had feared early on that due to his size in the trailer, he would be regulated to a final boss in the decepticon campaign, much like Omega Supreme and Trypticon were utilized in War for Cybertron after being featured in the trailers. But is he is fighting drones, that makes it much more likely that Grimlock will be a fully playable character, meaning that we will finally get to bash brains! Fall can’t come fast enough.

Full gallery below.

Stop Motion Monday: Autobackspin (Optimus Rhyme Part 3)

Here is the 3rd and final part of our Transformers stop motion hip-hopera. After Optimus Prime’s video (seen here) was countered with a Decepticon effort (seen here), the Autobots had no choice but to fight back. This video really sticks out to me due to the fight choreography, and recreating the scenes from the 1985 movie proved to be a bigger challenge than I thought. Enjoy.

BREAKING NEWS: Shredder was voiced by Philip Banks!

So here is something that blew my mind today. Did you know that James Avery, better known as Philip Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, was also the voice of Shredder on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? This definitely isn’t one of Hollywood’s best kept secrets or anything, but I just can’t get over it. Doesn’t this make Uncle Phil so much more terrifying when he is yelling at Will? It all makes so much sense. To top it off, he was also the voice of the Junkyard Dog Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling. Here he is talking about working on TMNT:

and here is a glimpse at what could have been