Archive for May, 2011

Marvel Movie Showdown – The gems that are the animated Marvel Movies.

Ok so I finally watched all the Marvel Animated Movies in the end I watched up to 5 in one day and now have a head full of marvel goodness. I am a big fan of animation not just Japanese Anime and have followed nearly all the animations that were based on comic books. I am also a Marvel fan especially X-men cartoons and I collect the Wolverine origins comic series as well as New Avengers and Gotham City Sirens. So I would natural have gotten a hold on any Marvel film and these animation are generally better than the live action films that have been made over the last few years, with the exception of Iron Man, Thor and the Incredible Hulk (Edward Norton one) the Marvel live actions haven’t been great some entertain but lack any of the qualities that made the comics great or are basically cash cows, made for idiots and children and favour spectacle and special effects rather than true story telling or the gritty world these characters actually inhabit. The one thing the animated movie do is actually feel a lot more like the comic, I mean Hulk vs. Wolverine was a hundred times better than Wolverine: Origins, which was so wrong!!! So let me introduce you to the films in the order I enjoyed them.
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Hulk vs. Thor/Wolverine – The plot for Vs. Thor is that for ages, Odin has protected his kingdom of Asgard. But every winter, the All-Father must rest and regain his strength for one week. During this time, all of Asgard’s foes (including trolls, giants, dark elves, and demons) try to claim the realm for their own, but they are always stopped by Odin’s son, the mighty Thor, albeit with the loss of many brave Asgardian warriors. Loki, god of mischief, has kidnapped Dr. Bruce Banner and brought him to Asgard with the help of Amora, once Thor’s lover, now the super villain known as the Enchantress. Loki makes Banner angry and he changes into the Hulk. The Enchantress then casts a spell over the Hulk which separates Banner from his monstrous alter-ego and grants Loki control over the Hulk’s body.
The plot for Vs. Wolverine starts with a prologue, Wolverine states that “I’m the best at what I do, but what I do isn’t very nice.” Wolverine wakes up dazed and confused in a crater in the mountains, as he asks, “What the hell happened?” he hears a roar in the distance. Just then the Hulk jumps over a cliff and lands in front of him, roaring in his face. Wolverine simply replies “Oh yeah…” The story then rewinds back to the events prior to this. Department H had sent in Wolverine to track down a mysterious beast known by the US Military as the Hulk, who is rampaging across the Canadian wilderness.
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Planet Hulk - The Hulk awakes on board a shuttle which crashes on the planet Sakaar. Imperial guards appear and attach an obedience disk to the Hulk, and is able to communicate. From here the Hulk later wakes up on an imperial transport en-route to a coliseum, weakened after coming through the portal and imprisoned with Hiroim, Korg, Miek, Elloe Kaifi, Lavin Skee, an Android and a few hived natives. The slaves are forced to fight for their freedom in a succession of 3 fights. Lavin Skee takes charge, making battle plans for when they reach the coliseum for which Hulk shows no interest. Their first opponents are Korg’s brothers. Despite Korg’s refusal to fight, the Kronans attack his team. The fight leaves Lavin Skee impaled and the natives dead before Korg decides to destroy them, and sees Hulk trying to escape. But, when he realises the leader is the Red King he tries to attack him after killing the Great Devil Corker, and ends up fighting the Emperor’s lieutenant, Caiera. Red King shoots the Hulk, but doesn’t kill him due to the displeasure of the crowd. The Red King secretly plans Hulk’s death. The events that follow lead to hulks escape along with his co prisoners and their journey to survive and get revenge against the Red King.
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Ultimate Avengers – The plot is In the last days of World War II in the European Theatre, Steve Rogers, a U.S. soldier, known as Captain America due to being enhanced with the “Super-Soldier Serum”, prevents a missile launch by Nazis, which are soon revealed to be shape-shifting extra-terrestrials led by one taking the form of SS officer Herr Kleiser. The missile explosion, however, sends Rogers into a catatonic state, and he falls into the icy waters of the North Atlantic, presumed dead. In the present day, Captain America is found and revived by a S.H.I.E.L.D. team led by General Nick Fury. Bruce Banner and his ex-girlfriend Betty Ross lead a team of government scientists working to recreate the Super-Soldier Serum in order to try and stop the real power that backed the Nazis – the alien Chitauri. Banner thinks the Super-Soldier Serum is the key to him controlling the Hulk, and he secretly uses his blood to try to create a cure, instead of using candidates that had been selected for the rebirth procedure. As excepted things don’t go as planned especially with the added threat of an alien invasion.
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Doctor Strange – the plot is Dr. Stephen Strange is one of the most gifted surgeons in medicine; however, he is also highly arrogant and dismissive of his colleagues. While driving home from the hospital one night, he notices Baron Mordo and his allies slaying a monster – notable because they are hidden from view by one of Wong’s spells. An unbelieving Strange dismisses it as stress-related hallucination. The next day, he is visited by the hospital’s administrator Oliver who states that Dr. Gina Atwater has problems with him. He then speaks with Dr. Atwater and discusses her case of a child — one of many — who is suffering from dangerous nightmares. Seeing the children causes Stephen to flashback to when his sister April had a headache similar to the ones the children have been having. The conversation also reveals that the two doctors have had a romantic relationship in the past. When touching one child, he sees an image of a demonic skull-face laughing while engulfed in flames and promptly leaves, telling Gina that there is nothing he can do for the children. While driving home, Stephen again sees the vision of flames with a burning face in them and swerves his car to avoid ghostly children in the road, careening off the cliffside. As a result of the crash, his hands are left shattered and useless. Spending all of his fortune and life savings in pursuit of a way to fix his fractured hands, the dejected doctor believes all is lost until his suicide attempt is thwarted by Wong who recommends the Ancient One to offer him hope and healing in Tibet.
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Ultimate Avengers 2 – the plot is that of T’Challa, the Prince of Wakanda, returns from the outside world to learn the kingdom is being attacked by the alien Chitauri. Herr Kleiser, the alien shape-shifter who battled Captain America during World War II, kills T’ Challa’s father in combat and seeks Wakanda’s store of vibranium, the metal the Chitauri use to manufacture their ships and weapons. After becoming King and assuming the alias of the Black Panther, T’ Challa seeks the aid of Captain America. General Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. orders the Ultimate Avengers to assemble, with the exception of Thor (who is unavailable) and the Hulk (his alter ego Bruce Banner is being kept under surveillance).
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Next Avengers: Tomorrows heroes – A battle with Ultron leaves the Avengers defeated, with six of the heroes killed during the fight, and the world at the mercy of Ultron’s machine army. Tony Stark / Iron Man decides to take the hero’s children to an underground fortified refuge hidden above the Arctic Circle. The children are James Rogers (son of Black Widow and Captain America), Henry Pym Jr. (son of Giant-Man and Wasp), Azari (son of Black Panther and Storm), and Torunn (daughter of Thor and Sif). Stark secretly raises and trains the children for 12 years, keeping their true origins secret from them. One day the Vision arrives at the refuge after hiding for over a decade from Ultron. He has come to warn Stark that Francis Barton, son of Hawkeye, is also alive. While the curious children are eavesdropping on Stark and the Vision, James accidentally activates a series of Iron Man style robots that mimic the look and abilities Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Thor, Black Widow and Giant Man. After they take off and crash through the refuge’s dome, Stark’s base is no longer invisible to Ultron’s worldwide sensors. Stark, now dressed as Iron Man, is able to stall Ultron long enough for the children to escape, but he is eventually subdued and captured. Ultron is also able to reprogram the Iron Avenger robots to follow his commands. The children now have to battle to recuse Stark and help save mankind from Ultron’s oppression.
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Thor: Tales of Asgard – Before he ever lifted his mighty hammer Mjolnir, there was the sword. Fantastic journeys beckon from the mysterious nine realms. Places of dark mists and fiery voids. Of winged creatures and giants in the ice. And the most alluring quest of all – the search for the legendary Lost Sword of Surtur. Hungry for adventure, Thor secretly embarks on the journey of a lifetime, joined by his loyal brother Loki, whose budding sorcery equips him with just enough magic to conjure up trouble, along with the Warriors Three – a band of boastful travellers reluctant to set sail on any adventure that might actually be dangerous. But what starts out as a harmless treasure hunt quickly turns deadly, and Thor must now prove himself worthy of the destiny he covets by saving Asgard itself.
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The Invincible Iron Man – Attempting to raise an ancient Chinese city using his company’s resources – while also diverting money into a project that he swears will bring Stark Enterprises big money without revealing the nature of the research – Tony Stark’s ambitions go up in smoke when the Jade Dragons attack the excavation site, killing most of the men there and kidnapping his friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Traveling to China to investigate, he is captured and badly injured by the Jade Dragons, his life only saved thanks to a Chinese shaman and Rhodes’ skills as an army medic after a piece of shrapnel damages his heart. Tony talks to the Shaman, who reveals that the Dragons seek to prevent the return of the Mandarin, an evil ruler of great power who ruled China three thousand years ago, and who the city commemorates. Should four rings created by the Mandarin – their purpose being to grant him power over death – be brought together after the city rises, the Mandarin will awaken and the world will be in great peril. The Dragons force Tony to construct a weapon to sink the city within a week or face execution and to show they are serious they kill the shaman. Befriending Li Mei, a member of the group, Tony learns that she has a great duty that has been passed down her family from father to son – she had no brothers – but she will not reveal what it is. Meanwhile, four elemental spirits are released by the raising of the city, the spirits subsequently acquiring two of the Mandarin’s four rings. Tony now as Iron man must find these 4 rings first and stop an ancient evil from taking over the world.
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Ok so why these films are great, they are grittier than their live action counter parts for one thing most of them are 12’s and therefor are more violent for cartoons. I was shocked by some of the bloodshed and the harshness of these films as I was not expecting that from cartoons made in America. Hulk Vs. Wolverine does not shy away from showing Wolverine’s more violent character and doesn’t water him down like the live films do, instead he uses those claws to their full effect and we see him really slash people apart. Also it’s a great way to see him in his older days before the X-men when he was a harsher and more aggressive man, you get to meet the other members of the weapon X program such as Sabertooth, Omega Red and the wonderful Deadpool. Deadpool has always been a genius character you just can’t dislike a grey area villain like him, he’s the merc with a mouth and absolutely crazy. He is genius in the films delivering some amazing one liners and comic timing to the action and intensity. You get to see Wolverines best enemies and see him do what he is best at, plus the show down with Hulk is awesome, a brutal fight between two aggressive and anger driven protagonists.
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As a fan of the Avengers I’m also enjoying how much is out there dealing with their genesis as a team as well as individuals. I have to admit that the only one I didn’t really like was Invincible Iron man it lacked something the others had and I didn’t like its take on Iron-man’s genesis and giving him a different love interest. I adore the new Iron-man films but the animated film fell flat for me even the Next Avengers was better and that was about children. The first Ultimate Avenger movie was also pure brilliance showing how desperate Bruce Banner has become and how the team work together giving us great insight into how these big characters can work as a team (I can’t wait for the live action film) the second one wasn’t as good but that’s more to do with the fact that I’m just not into the Black panther and kinda glaze over when the storyline is too focused on him.
I’m glad he won’t be in the new movie he just isn’t a character I find very interesting I prefer my characters a little more arrogant and wise cracking, I love the sarcastic nature of characters such as Iron-Man, Ant-Man and Hawkeye, I love the harsh and aggressiveness that plagues heroes so they are not cookie cutter good guys like Wolverine and The Hulk and duel nature of being a monster but also just a man and a haunted one at that like Bruce Banner. I love Thor because of his other worldliness, I love seeing someone from another world or time try and fit into our current reality especially with his old ways speech patterns and use of Norse lore. I also love the villains like Loki, who I always feel bad for cause I kinda understand why he does what he does he’s been completely taken over by his own rage and pain and its Odin’s fault really for that. I love the relationship between Thor and Loki, close brother to enemies but it’s not as simple as good versus bad as both are to blame for the way they are now. I even don’t mind Captain America, I shouldn’t as he is rather cookie cutter good guy but at least he isn’t the giant wet blanket Boy Scout that Superman is (I really hate superman), Captain America after all used to hang out with Wolverine and at least he fights Nazi’s and was humble enough to take orders from Iron-man.
So as you can tell I enjoy the characters that inhabit the Avenger universe nearly as much as the ones that inhabit the X-men verse. These films do justice to them giving each enough time to development; they are equally fleshed out and given plenty of characterisation. The Hulk has been given so much more than just smashing and bashing especially with Planet Hulk, which really is amazing. To see Hulk find a life for himself rather than as Bruce Banner is great and to see him not as an uncontrollable monster that just embodies anger and destruction was a great direction for his character. He found a world and a purpose a place he was accepted and could be part of and not hunted as a monster. Planet Hulk is great because it shows the duel nature of The Hulk himself, when you get passed the rage and give him the chance to truly live. It’s also rather brutal and harsh, you get character deaths and intense fights so not really one for the kids. Also not really for the kids is Doctor Strange a character I hadn’t ever really followed but has an interesting genesis. I like the mystical arts so a super hero that uses eastern magic’s as his weapon is great. I was taken by surprise by how creepy and a little scary this film was, as a child I would have had nightmares after this but luckily I’m an adult that watches a lot of horror. I mean there’s a scene where killer demon bat things are flying around stripping the flesh off people leaving only there skeletons, not very child friendly. But much respect for marvel going there and showing that super heroes inhabit a world that is more gritty and dangerous than is normally portrayed in cartoons. These films are defiantly for the comic fans themselves and not the average cinema going audience, these are for us that want a more realistic portrayal of our characters and a more honest adaptation of our comics.
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Spartacus: Blood and Sand/ God of the Arena – the violent aesthetic perfectly poured onto our TV sets!!

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This is television at its best, this is being allowed to view what would normally be made for the big screen and giving us the ultimate visual experience. Spartacus is a true television spectacle not only for its aesthetics and use of modern filming techniques but also because it’s brave enough to go where so many shows don’t. It treats its audience like the adults we are not backing down and pandering to ratings, its brilliant and brutal, beautiful and excessive, not playing safe but exploiting our thirst for aesthetic violence and adult sensuality. No this is not TV for those under 18 it deserves it certificate and it makes sure it rewards its audience with all visuals we could ever want. As you can tell I loved this series, I have always been a fan of the violent aesthetic; I appreciate the line between brutality and beauty and love the use of a harsher sensuality, of glorifying the powerful beast that is man’s desire. Spartacus is a first on television for using techniques normally used for big screen adaptation of comic books, it has a unique style using the cg created world and populating it with some very well defined and imposing characters. This series is a must for fans of films such as 300, both visually and narratively.
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The plot for Blood and Sand follows the rise of Spartacus through his imprisonment as a slave and gladiator. As he grows to become champion and wins the hearts of the people while searching for his wife and seeking revenge against those that put him into this life of servitude. Into this world are thrown the other gladiators he must train with and fight, his new master and his wife and those drawn into the web of lie’s and deceit as a clash between and search for vengeance and the greed for power becomes more entangled. All characters are very well fleshed out with equal opportunity for growth and development and you share a great deal of interesting and intense journeys. But be warned not to get to attached to anyone this series has a high death toll and no character is safe for the brutality and the dangers of the world they live in. Spartacus has to rise to fame through battles of the heart, mind and body being manipulated by the Lanista Batiatus, who will go to any length to gain fame, fortune and status, along with his equally cunning and seductive wife Lucrecia. Thrown in this mix of gladiators such as Crixsus (the current champion of the arena) are plots of betrayal and mistrust, of rivalry and hate. But also of love and companionship, of relationships between men that stand as brothers, lovers, husbands, warriors, slaves and friends. Everything about this series is steeped in blood and sacrifice the pure harshness of their lives and the burden of position in this society. The driving force of this show is one man rising up through blood and carnage to make a better place, to become the Spartacus we know of from legend the man that freed slaves and caused Rome to tremble.
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God of the Arena came about because the actor who plays Spartacus himself was diagnosed with cancer so to give him time to recover they made a mini-series prequel. This prequel is every bit if not more violent and sensational in its depiction of sex and brutality. The mini-series features the bloody history of the House of Batiatus and the city of Capua before the arrival of Spartacus. Quintus Lentulus Batiatus becomes a Lanista (manager) when he takes over his father’s ludus of gladiators. He has ambitions of stepping out of his father’s shadow by seeking recognition for his own name and achieving greatness for his house. By his side stands his beautiful wife Lucrecia who will help her husband achieve his goal no matter what the cost. Batiatus puts all his fortunes on the man who will gain him fame and glory, his best gladiator, the Celt, Genius; a skilled warrior who wields his swords in the arena as if it were his last day alive. However, there are those who oppose Batiatus and his future champion(s) of Capua, plotting against him only to fail. Purchased as an undisciplined and dishevelled recruit in the first episode, the Gaul Crixsus endures mockery and threats of death to become the greatest gladiator in the house after Gannicus. As Batiatus fends off repeated attempts by his professional rival Tullius to obtain Gannicus, his relationships with his father Titus and friend Solonius begin to suffer the strain of Quintus’ relentless ambition. Former champion gladiator Oenomaus reluctantly retires from combat to become Doctore, while Syrian recruits Ashur and Dagan become fierce enemies as Ashur tries to prove himself worthy of being a gladiator. Veteran gladiators Barca and Gannicus accept the rising star of Crixsus but fear that their own careers will suffer, as the machinations of Batiatus and Lucrecia to court Capua’s elite end in tragedy for several members of the household. Against all of this, the city’s splendid new arena nears completion and with it the opening games that will make men into gods.
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Both series are amazing in their visual style and use of colours, everything from the colours in the sky that reflect the emotional turmoil of the characters and pre warnings of doom and blood shed to the tones of the land to shown this harsh and unforgiving land. The sets are amazing while much is rendered, the Ludus is very much a real and gritty place nothing is beautiful and safe in the walls that imprison these ferocious men. The home of Batiatus looks like it is beautiful and with the glorification of base pleasures and the enticing luxury of desire you may think this looks like a beautiful home if not for the amount of blood that needs to washes away from its floors each day. The characters always speak with purpose there are no pointless and uninteresting dialogues every word said has meaning and impact. The music is perfect mixing great orchestral choirs and orchestras to fan fair our battles in the arena as well as give more depth to scenes of a much more gentle nature. The costumes are beautiful, fully depicting the fashion of this period of time; in fact the Misc-en-scen is very well done truly given both the upper class richness of Rome as well as the squalor and depravity of lower roman classes. The whole series works dualities with magical precision. Gladiator may be brutal and violent in the arena but also can be full of love, compassion and tenderness outside. A good and very brave example of this is in Barca, The Beast of Carthage. He is one of the top gladiators and as you guessed from his name he is fierce, deadly and not one to mess with but he is also a man that greatly loves and is in fact gay. He has a beautiful and tender relationship with his younger lover and their story is touching and gently in so much contradiction to the man that stands in the arena with so much blood on his hands. I respect any series that shows a gay relationship that isn’t about coming out or just a walking gay cliché, to show love between 2 men standing as equals in the world is a far rarer thing on TV, so much respect to Starz for backing this series and this particular plot.
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All in all this series is just great entertainment with more complications than some soaps, amazingly well fleshed out characters, beautiful settings and visuals, great scoring and acting it has everything. It shows us all kinds of desires and sensualities, lets us indulge in the glorification of the flesh and exhilarating rush of violence. The battles are wonderfully played out with both skill and ample blood letting, you are at the edge of your seat awaiting their outcomes. Yet it also keeps you well aware how dangerous such pleasurable and corruptible pursuits can be and that beauty may be only skin deep and perfection can cut all the way to the bone.
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Sym-biotic Titan – an American cartoon by a team that clearly love anime.

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I was told to watch this by a friend and my god am I glad I did. This series is from the people who bought us Dexter’s Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack so already it has a big draw as both those shows were great. And just like these shows they are clearly influenced by anime but also reference modern culture with appeal for both children and adult viewers. Its creator is Genndy Tartakovsky and it was produced for Cartoon Network.
The series follows the lives of Ilana, Lance, and Octus, two alien teens and a robot in the form of humanoids who arrive on Earth, an “identical” planet to Galaluna, while fleeing an evil general who has taken over their home planet with the help of monstrous creatures called Mutraddi. The three main characters include Ilana, princess of the royal family; Lance, a rebellious but capable soldier; and Octus, a bio-cybernetic robot, all of whom must now blend into everyday life in Sherman, Illinois. Posing as high school students, Lance and Octus work to conceal Princess Ilana from General Modula and his hideous space mutants sent to kill the sole heir of Galaluna. When called into battle, the Galalunans are outfitted with individual armour that provides more than ample protection. It is when the gravest of danger appears that Octus activates the Sym-bionic defence program and he, Ilana, and Lance unite “Heart, Body and Mind” and come together to form the spectacular cyber-giant Sym-Bionic Titan.
What’s great about this series is that while the anime influences are obvious it still looks and feels like an American cartoon. It’s a great fusion of styles from East and West that homages Anime motifs, styles, genres and themes while also very much being American. It is funny and exciting, mixing great action sequences, amusing side stories and a little bit of family drama. With anything that is set in a High School you get to explore the world of social clicks, the inevitable story line of people from another world trying to act like American teenagers trying to fit into their lifestyle. It has all the genre stereotypes and motifs of a High School drama, the jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, outsiders, unhealthy school meals, homecoming dance and trying to fit in. This is all made worse by the fact that not only are our heroes from another world but are being continuously (much like an episode of Powerpuff Girls) attacked by monsters and therefore have to disappear to form Titan and fight these monsters. Trying to hide a hidden life is always fun to watch especially when the characters don’t have all the human mannerisms and social behaviour acceptable to their peers, therefore they always state they need “toilets breaks” at the same time. There’s also a nice bit of romance that by all means should never have happened and yet somehow still works and is kinda realistic in its portrayal. You know that a lot of the stories are going to have clichéd plots, trying to go to the dance but a monster turning up, trying to join the Cheerleaders but them being vapid, populist and egocentric and then monsters turning up, going to school when you feel you have so much more you can be doing with your hidden abilities and fighting to introduce healthy food into the school only for it to be sabotaged by aliens.
There’s also lots of other great plots, as well as the more clichéd Military being heavy handed, arrogant and ignorant you also get the more interesting grey area secret organisation G3 that want to find out who is behind Titan and where they came from as much as the military do while investigating the alien attacks. Also this series is a little harsher than the average American cartoon, some of the aliens are truly freaky, like a weird squid insect that crawls down your throat and takes you over.
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Characters also bleed when hit, clothes get torn and faces bruise giving it a more realistic feel of what would happen if you were in a fight. One of the great things about the show is that while it’s episodic it does continue story lines introduced in earlier episodes, characters appear in more than one episode and are given development so it’s not all about our heroes and villains. Plots are allowed to play out and episodes link together more than previous series. There are also nice flashback episodes to give us more insight into the lives of the characters and how they became who they are, in particular Lance is a great character to explore, the difficult life he has experience and how he become the person he is now. The series defiantly has a darker side to it than the average cartoon and this is something that I really respect and it’s less clean and simple and has a little more grit to it. Lance is def my fav character but brooding difficult guy that isn’t very social but also kicks ass and is a skilled fighter and just really cool is always going to be a great character. The robot Octus is also a great character that is given a lot of thought and development and doesn’t just act as the regular robot sidekick but given real personality and a chance to grow just as much as the other characters.
Now for what truly makes this series brilliant especially if you’re as geeky as me and have watched a lot of Anime and Asian movies. The first obvious thing is that the creators are obviously Osamu Tezuka fans. This is very apparent in the character designs, the hair styles and facial characteristic are a dead giveaway as well as the costumes. In particular the military outfits of the Galalunians are dead ringers for the uniforms from Cyborg 009.
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Also with the more anime style is the scarfs and the movement of these scarfs and characters hair not something normally done in American cartoons. Aside from the Tezuka influence other obvious references have been episodes that clearly homage a particular series or movie, such as Initial D (this episode is great for D fans, or fans of racing games and movies such as Tokyo drift).
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Now you couldn’t right about a series that features characters combining to create a robot without noting the Mecha influences. For one thing Symbiotic Titan’s transformation is actually more original than some Mecha’s I’ve seen over the years and it uses the idea of combing the will of the pilots nicely as well, there’s more to piloting this robot than just each controlling a part. But you could reference all kinds of shows from Gundam (the weapons), Gravion (the combination) and Aquarion Mecha’s the Cherubim Soldiers (more than one pilot working together physically and mentally).
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All in all this series is fun, fresh and entertaining particularly if you want to play guess the reference!!!!
Now here’s the sad part cartoon Network decided to cancel this great series after 1 series and Genndy Tartakovsky is trying to get it revived by Sony Entertainment so please watch it and help the cause by going on Facebook to Save Sym-Bionic Titan and signing petition!!!!

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Insidious – When a good horror forgets its own plot!

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Now I’m not really a fan of American horror’s as well their never really that scary, normally a remake of a film that was much better to start with or just a bunch of teenagers being stupid. Now I do like the slasher genre I was of the Scream generation and loved those films back in the day but the slasher has lost its appeal and are really just the same over again now and the teenagers are getting more stupid. There have been American gems over the years to prove me wrong like Paranormal Activity, the Last Exorcist and I do love a good B movie like Piranha 3D. But alas back to the point, insidious looked good, looked like a decent haunting movie. I love haunting movies; a good haunted house story is a big draw for me so I gave it the benefit of the doubt since the trailer was so promising. Though watching it was another story all together, best way to explain is that they took a really good movie and half way through lost the plot and stuck a different movie on the end. The first half and the second just didn’t match, they would have made two different films but together they’ll didn’t blend well and it fell into the American trap of showing too much and completely nullifying the scare factor.
Let’s talk about the good, the film starts using classic horror scoring even the font for the title is old styled. It’s like watching the horror films of the 1930’s imagine the font and music of Nosferatu. This older scoring makes for a classic eerie atmosphere, it’s an unnatural music with sharp sounds great for creating an unfamiliar and unsettled environment. It really works in the films favour as it does make this house feel haunted and creepy; you don’t trust it and you already feel like something bad is in the house. Now the first half sets up the haunting and some of the things you need for a horror film. We have an imposing house that already feels ominous; the camera angles also make the house seem unfriendly giving us unusual views of the staircase and shoots of locked doors. Add to the mix the young family, new home 3 young children one still an infant in the crib, a new job, the pressure of motherhood and working from home, an unfamiliar area and the isolation you get as an adult when you move to a new area and only have each other. This all leads to added anxiety for the characters and us as the audience who begin to emphasize with their growing concern and apprehension about their new life. So everything is set up nicely for a good horror film as the characters are already under a lot of pressure which makes for a nice tense atmosphere to add a haunting. And this they do well with a subtle build-up of books moving but no one see’s how or when, a strange voice on the baby monitor and some really good jumps. I was well on my way to feeling truly unsettle and had given myself a heart attack at the jumps. I soon started hiding behind my hand and decided that this film was a bad idea because I was freaked out.
This is a great example of a haunted house film coupled with the growing anxiety of these parents. Before long one of the sons is lured into the attic another source of fear and has a fall, next day he is in a coma. We don’t know the reasons and soon its 3 months later, mother is getting more and more freaked out in her home and father is spending more time away from home unable to help his wife. Things begin to come to a head as it becomes apparent that something in the house wants our comatose youth and its getting closer so our mother finally convinces her husband to move house. Now Paranormal Activity used this plot device but Insidious shows it, very much like Ju-On (Japanese Grudge film) sometimes it’s not the house that is haunted and sometimes it’s something worse than a ghost to blame. As soon as we get into the new house the wife starts seeing ghosts which are a little too real looking for me. This is where the great atmosphere of the first half is ruined and the film takes things too far.
Here’s where the film goes bad and wrong. They call in the Ghostfacers (if you’ve seen the show Supernatural you’ll know what I mean) they act like the comedy double act of the ghost hunting world and while its works for a little while, you are lulled into a false sense of security by the comedy and then something jumps out at you, it goes too far and then they call in the exorcist. Now it all goes wrong, ok the exorcist seeing that it’s a demon haunting the son trying to steal his body that’s fine but it just didn’t work. We get all the back story and a stupid plot about astro-projection and our little boy lost in a place called the Farther, his soul is lost and now ghosts are trying to take his body and worse than that this demon. It turns out that good old dad was an astro-projector and when he was young a creepy old women stalked him getting closer (as revealed in a selection of secret photo’s his mum kept). Somehow creepy woman didn’t run off with his body, dad has forgotten this and now it’s up to him to remember his power and project into this nightmare world to save his son and escape the demon. It just gets plan silly now, old woman exorcist puts on a gas mask with a weird trunk and does some odd séance that looks ridicules. And then Darth Maul appears, I’m not even joking you see his face once in the normal world and I jumped like crazy but then we meet him in crazy ghost world he’s fully revealed and just not scary if you’ve seen the recent Star Wars movies. The astro Farther scene just plays out too much we explore all these ghosts that we know nothing about, they’re not needed it just bulks out a storyline that is running away with itself. Then we enter an area that looks like the VIP area of a night club mixed with the Phantom of the Opera’s lair. Just to make things weird we see that Darth Maul is a bit of a carnival fan, loves an old record spinning on a classic turn table does Darth Maul. By now we’ve seen the big bad in all its glory the film is pretty much over for me as its way to obvious and just not scary watching this CGI demon chase our characters around the place trying to get back to their bodies.
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The film does try to have a quirky twist, one that they flash back to about 5mins after we saw it, but it’s just not enough to save a failed second half. So much promise this film had but they got too excited about the different plot ideas, they tried to do too much and ended up butchering what could have been a much simpler and affective film.

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