Monday, November 7, 2016

Reviews of the latest 'Batman Unlimited' movie, 'Arrow' and 'The Flash' so far

Well, it's that time, CCC readers: When I have opinions on various topics related to the cape-and-cowl crowd, but not enough to garner their own posts.

So without further ado, here we go ...

"Batman Unlimited: Mech vs Mutants": This came out on Blu-ray and DVD back on Sept. 13, so I'm really far behind in reviewing this animated film. I watched this twice (a partial third time if you count me falling asleep on my sofa!) and with covering high-school football on top of my regular newspaper reporting job, I just couldn't find the time, much less the inspiration, to write a review.

This time around, Batman's Robin is Damian Wayne, who somehow avoids being the obnoxious twit he is in other incarnations. The truth is, aside from a different costume, you'd never know this Robin is Damian if it weren't for a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to Tim Drake (Red Robin), who was in the previous "Batman Unlimited" release, the enjoyable "Monster Mayhem."

The main villains of  "Mech vs Mutants" are the Penguin and Mister Freeze. We're not given a truly solid reason for them to team up and Freeze isn't really clear on why creating Godzilla-size mutants out of Killer Croc, Bane and Chemo seems like a great part of his dastardly plan for Gotham City. So it's a good thing Batman has a Voltron-esque giant robot in storage to dish out some pain on these ugly muglies...!
Screen capture by CARY ASHBY/CARY'S COMICS CRAZE

Needless to say, "Mech vs Mutants" is geared toward the younger Batman crowd -- even more so than "Monster Mayhem" and its predecessor, "Animal Instinct." The third "Batman Unlimited" release is best for youngsters ages 10 at the very oldest and younger; anybody older than 10 watching it should be doing so with their kids.

"Mech vs Mutants" is all about the bedlam of the brainless battles between Batman and Green Arrow's skyscraper-sized robots and the three baddies. This brawn-over-brain story lacks the same punch and easy camaraderie and schtick among Team Batman (Robin, Nightwing, Green Arrow and The Flash) that was in the other releases. Grade: C+

"Arrow" Season 5 so far: Basically, I'm just not feeling it. Wednesday nights on The CW just aren't what they used to be.

I'm calling Season 5 "Sidekicks" and it's an idea that's a hard sell -- and tougher to watch, much less care about.

At the end of Season 4, it seems like the idea was to disband Team Arrow and start from scratch. So why didn't that mean Green Arrow tries to relearn fighting crime as a solo act? (Even though it's inevitable that Diggle would come back into the fold and hopefully so will Thea Queen, returning as Speedy.)

But alas, Oliver Queen has been pushed much too quickly into training raw recruits, who have been inspired by Green Arrow, to be more street-ready. And not one of them are compelling characters with a backstory that generates any empathy or intrigue. It's cool to see Artemis brought to life in live-action. But sadly, she's not pump-your-fist cool.

C'mon, writers, you can do better than this! Make me give a crap about these rookie vigilantes!

Felicity and Diggle are at the heart of Team Arrow. But tell me again exactly why Miss Smoak is still part of Team Arrow? She made it clear to Queen their relationship is done -- and that's clear from the lack of any chemistry this season between actor Stephen Amell and the adorable Emily Brett Rickards. Queen and Felicity's interactions have been almost painful to watch; there's just no zip at all. (It's a good thing Rickards can still rock a skirt the way she does. Just sayin'!) The truth is when the "Olicty" magic falters, so does "Arrow."

And don't get me started with this season's flashbacks; it's a good thing that going back to the five years Queen was away from Star City is coming to an end. Grade: C

"The Flash" Season 3 so far: Team Flash still has its moments; luckily, Cisco and the gang at Star Labs aren't off their game as often as Team Arrow has been. Pardon the pun, but "The Flash" just hasn't hit its stride.

Honestly, I'm getting tired of Barry Allen messing with the timeline. (And I'm just as over the speedster villains!) The concept is no longer fun; it's become tiresome. I can't keep track of what Earth the setting is or which one is the original continuity. Call me a grumpy "Flash" fan (because I know I sound like one at this point!), but I gotta say I don't much care.

Each and every one of the "Flash" timeline memes I've seen posted all over Facebook have been so on-point that they're too truthful to be funny. That being said, the Season 3 opener, "Flashpoint," with the timeline in which Allen family is together pulled at my heart-strings -- especially when Barry tells his parents good-bye, having made the painful decision to go back in time (again!) to when his mother is murdered.

The Flash's team-ups with Kid Flash and Jesse Quick in the first three or so episodes were fun. More of this, please!

The costuming team deserves major kudos with how slick Jesse Quick and Kid Flash's suits are. Jesse Quick's is especially great. Sadly, I missed the episode in which Jesse Chambers actress Violett Beane rocked hers. It was a brilliant and logical decision for her costume to look like a derivative of The Flash's instead of her awful comic-book version.

There are just aren't enough great character moments for me in Season 3. The one-on-one scenes is what makes "The Flash" resonate. Those scenes, at the heart of this series, have been few and far between. Grade: B-

At this point, you'd guess that "DC's Legends of Tomorrow" would be up to bat. But for one reason or the other, I have yet to see a single episode of Season 2. Hopefully this week!

And maybe then I can have some superhero TV mojo aside from "Supergirl," which suddenly has become the best of the bunch.

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