Archive for August, 2012

Wonder Woman (2009)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 26, 2012 by dpallee

Princess Diana, aka Wonder Woman

 One of the best story reboots I have come across in a while is the Warner Premiere DTV (Direct To Video) release of Wonder Woman. Cartoon superheroes offer few female figures as powerful in notoriety as the Amazonian Princess Diana, with her magic lasso, iconic outfit and superhuman abilities. The role of Wonder Woman as been adapted in a few Justice League movies but this feature length adventure gives audiences a great story of origin told in a superb script written by Michael Jelenic, William M. Marston and Gail Simone.

 The story begins in a battle between Queen Hippolta (voice of Virginia Madsen) and the Ares ( voice of Alfred Molina), the god of war. The queen defeats Ares in battle and imprisons him for the atrocities he unleashed on her tribe of Amazon warriors. The gods offer the queen and her people special powers to hide the island they live on, away from the eyes of mortals. Here they live in peace until years later when American fighter pilot Steve Trevor (voice of Nathan Fillion) crash lands on the island, forcing the Amazons to return him to the United States. A contest ensues to determine which warrior will take him back and it is the queen’s own daughter, Princess Diana (voice of Keri Russell) that wins the contest, dons the infamous Wonder Woman outfit and takes him back. The imprisoned Ares escapes and plots a new threat to the Amazon and the world which gives a well rounded story for this classic cartoon character.

 Warner Premiere animated feature length films have done a tremendous job giving their audiences good story lines on a few different DC Universe characters and Wonder Woman is no exception. The animation and illustration is not mind blowing but the chiseled inking of the figures plays fine within the context of a fantastic script. Watch this one for the story and enjoy.

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Lupin III; The Castle of Cagliostro (1979)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 19, 2012 by dpallee

Daisuke Jigen (left) and Arsene Lupin III (right) from The Castle of Cagliostro

 A great way to introduce yourself with this classic anime character is to watch The Castle of Cagliostro (original title Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro) , currently being shown on Hulu. I get a kick out of the Lupin III series and after watching this movie, I think you will be able to tell if this is the style story you like. Lupin may not be to every taste but I have to applaud the consistency of characters and appeal they bring to the screen with this action packed comedy.

 The full cast of regular characters are in The Castle of Cagliostro; the wily master thief Lupin III, his friends Jigen, Goemen and Fujiko, as well as the bumbling police Inspector Koichi Zenigata, who constantly chases the criminals no matter where their adventures land them. The Castle story revolves around a mysterious girl Lupin rescues, only to have her taken once again by the powerful Grand Duchy of Cagliostro, who plans to marry this girl. The girl is but part of the story-the Grand Duchy is a top notch counterfeiter, which just happened to make the booty Lupin collected from his last job . The plot goes from there with more twists and turns and of course, the Inspector chasing Lupin all through the film. The story is a mix of a little part Get Smart, a bit of the Top Cat (or Sgt. Bilko for you really old tv buffs) , some Inspector Clousea, topped off with a bit of It Takes A Thief. I don’t mean this analogy to be offensive by any means-I find all the Lupin films to be enjoyable, great fun to watch, but they may not be for every taste. Parents be aware that these films do contain some adult language and situations but tend to border on titillating material rather than over the top adult entertainment. Watch this movie and if you find yourself enjoying it as much as me, know that there is a large collection of Lupin III films-as well as a television series-to watch.

All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 16, 2012 by dpallee

Itchy (left) and Charlie (right) from All Dog Go to Heaven

  Don Bluth has been attributed with a number of outstanding animated films, some more successful at the box office than others, but always entertaining for the young and young at heart. His 1989 film All Dogs Go to Heaven is no exception. This movie was produced in Dublin, Ireland and released in the U.S. and gained enough popularity to spur a sequel, a television series and a direct to video holiday film.

 The story revolves around a stray German Shepard named Charlie (voice of Burt Reynolds) who leads a carefree life on the streets of New Orleans. A plot to kill him sends Charlie to heaven where he cheats death by taking his ‘life watch’. Charlie comes back to Earth and with the help of his friend, Itchy the daschund (voice of Dom DeLuise), and an orphan girl named Ann Marie, plot revenge on the dog who had Charlie killed. This isn’t the only film by Bluth that handles the subject of Death (The Land Before Time, Rock A Doodle) and his sensitivity to the subject brings it to light in a way that makes it more a learning experience for a young child rather than something to frighten them-an almost magical quality to it.

 The colorful backgrounds and lively characters are of the high standard work I have come to expect from Bluth Studios-never disappointed. The voice talents for this film include Melba Moore as a whippet dog angel,  Loni Anderson as one of Charlie’s friends, Charles Nelson Reilly and the gruff voiced Vic Tayback as the thug dog Carface. As with most films honed into sequels, the original is the best and this is no exception. This is an entertaining film for kids of all ages and although the storyline does deal with serious subject matter, the writing handles it in a unique and non-frightening manner for children.

Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 11, 2012 by dpallee

far in the distance, Morisaki (left) and Ansuna (right) in the 2011 film Children Who Chase Lost Voices.

 To date, this is the longest film created by Japanese Anime film creator/director Makato Shinkai. Children Who Chase Lost Voices (From Deep Below) is a fantastic film detailed with the most impressive background art I have seen in an animated movie. Released in Japan in 2011 and available on DVD and Blueray in Japan in November 2011, this masterpiece was picked up for distribution by Sentai Filmworks in 2012 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it re-released-complete with English dub-by a larger company.

 This epic adventure is a somber tale of a young girl named Asuna (voice of Hisako Kanemoto) who, with the aid of her substitute school teacher, Morisaki (voice of Kazuhiko Inoue), discover a world of wonder and beauty called Agartha through the aid of a magical crystal. This magical land is hidden from the outside world and protected by mythical guardian creatures called Quetzalcoatls. The story is both sad and exhilarating but what was most enjoyable for me was the scenery sequences that were beautifully treated and animated leaving the viewer to marvel at the vibrant colors and bigger than life landscapes throughout the film. The treatment given to detail adds a level of perfection I would rank as the best I have seen yet.

 Before the movie’s release in 2011, groundwork was already being laid to send this Manga adaptation into serialization so I am sure there will be more tie-in films or possibly a series to this grand scale movie. For now, audiences can be satisfied with this wonderful keystone of Inhoue’s work. The story adaptation has some weak plot explanations that could certainly be pointed out but I can easily overlook those issues and simply enjoy the film as it manages to entertain through visuals at a level of the highest quality. A must to be placed in your collection alongside any classic anime films.