Top 10 Batman: The Animated Series Episodes

How do you tick off The Joker? Well make a casino in his image. When a business tycoon does that just because the construction of the casino bankrupted him, he gets what he wanted and then some. This episode is mostly told from The Joker’s point of view as he learns about the new casino while in the recreation room in Arkham Asylum. Watching the debut of the casino on television, one which Bruce Wayne is conveniently featured and subsequently irritated after the debut, and becoming incised when someone is clearly using his likeness for profit. So escaping from Arkham and heading straight to the casino to kill the owner and destroy the casino.

tumblr_mqdghcgPyg1rrkahjo2_250The Joker immediately heads to the casino and is able to blend right in considering all the dealers are dressed like him. This leads into an interesting dual between Bruce Wayne (who of course is able to recognize The Joker and his distinguished laugh) and The Joker in a game of poker. The Joker was immediately cheating in the group before but Bruce knows what he is up to and able to best. The dialogue between them is interesting because The Joker claims to recognize him and is hinted that he knows Bruce and Batman are one in the same before conceding that he’s just Bruce Wayne. Bruce is not so subtly insulting The Joker and throwing him off his game. You can widely perceive that this is the first meeting between Bruce Wayne and The Joker.

 

animatedseries-jokerswild.jpgOf course it does not take long for Bruce to suit up as Batman and discover that the whole casino is a insurance fraud. The casino construction bankrupted the owner and he was counting on The Joker to destroy it to collect the insurance. So it becomes a game of Batman trying to stop The Joker while also trying to stop the casino owner from executing his plan. In fact, Batman even informs The Joker what the owner is up to and while The Joker is upset, he just changes his plan to not blowing up the casino and just kill the owner.

There is nothing really special about the episode. But it is the perfect mix of humor with the serious once again. The humor comes from everyone’s various interactions with the casino. Bruce clearly on edge as his greatest enemy is all in his face at every turn. Also keenly aware that The Joker will strike. Though he doesn’t actually kill anyone in the episode, you always have a hint of unease about The Joker. We see just how smart and resourceful he is when he puts his mind to something. Immediately after seeing the casino, he breaks out and that hints that he could do it at any moment but chooses to stay at Arkham for whatever reason.

We also go to see more of Batman not just punching his way out of a situation. Here we get to see Batman being the detective. Wanting to know the exact reason why the owner made the casino in The Joker’s image. It’s another episode that shows that not all villains come with fancy costumes in gimmicks. Something that ran throughout Batman: The Animated Series was the white collar criminals that Batman has to contend with as well. While the super villains may cause wanton destruction, it is these criminals that keep the city down.

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It’s also just a fun one off episode. Sometimes that’s needed.

 

Top 10 Batman: The Animated Series Episodes

If you ask me who my favorite Batman villain is outside of The Joker, it would definitely have to be The Riddler. When I was a kid and they sold VHS tapes (remember those?) of episodes of series, my parents bought me one from Batman: The Animated Series and it was his first and last appearance in the series. His first appearance encapsulates everything great and terrifying about The Riddler. From the beginning, we see Edward Nygma (get it?) finishing a crossword puzzle with relative ease. But after being locked out of his episode and fired by his boss, Daniel Mockridge, for suing the company for royalties on a game he developed, Nygma is furious.

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Cut to the present day, Mockridge is brokering a deal with Bruce Wayne when a threat appears on a news ticker outside. Hinting that Nygma has been threatening him for some time now. We later see Bruce suiting up as Batman and skulking around trying to figure out the riddle while Dick Grayson aka Robin is conveniently playing the game that Nygma developed. The two manage to discover where Nygma has his threat laid out where they come face to face with The Riddler…whom Batman immediately knows is Edward Nygma due to reading the company’s history.

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Within the episode, we really see the value in Batman and Robin. As smart as Batman is, he needs someone to bounce ideas off and there are just things he doesn’t know. Due to Dick being a young adult, he is familiar with the live action version of the video game that he was playing earlier, which Nygma has managed to weaponize. A musical puzzle later is also something that Batman knows nothing about and it is up to Robin to help solve it. Also being familiar with the maze due to video game, he is the key to Batman figuring out loopholes to stop The Riddler’s plan.

The Riddler in the episode shows why he is one of Batman’s greatest villains. Pushing his mental limits as he does not just keep to one type of brain teasers but instead mixes it up and almost everything has a secret meaning. Something that goes unsaid but every episode that features The Riddler also has Robin in it to help Batman. From the beginning, we see how smug and narcissistic Nygma is. Almost all his dialogue with other people has him mentioning how great his intellect is while belittling those he is talking to. But as Mockridge even asks, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” Nygma claims he is so smart yet he couldn’t comprehend that he signed a work for hire contract and while his lawsuit may be justified somewhat, it still seems like something he should have known before. Mockridge also firing him for suing the company also seems highly illegal yet Nygma does nothing about that and jumps straight to murder.

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The ending of the episode is also great as The Riddler manages to get away. While he is a wanted man, he did achieve a variation of his goal. While he did not kill Mockridge, Mockridge is a shell of his former self. Having to sleep with a shotgun in his bed just because of his fear of The Riddler. Even though Batman managed to save him, Batman himself does not seem to give the man much sympathy either. It really makes you think about how you treat people whether you are in the right or wrong or in the middle.

 

Top 10 Batman: The Animated Series Episode

What happens when Batman squares off against an efficiency expert? One of the best episodes from the beloved series. Starting with a flashback to seven years prior where we meet Temple Fugit (get it?) as he sternly waits for a train that is always a few seconds late according to him. Sitting across from a not yet Mayor Hill whom Fugit knows despite their only interactions being their joint commute. Seeing how wound up Fugit is, Hill suggests the man break schedule to appear more relaxed in front of a judge later in the day. Taking the Hill’s advice, everything seemingly goes wrong for Fugit and he ends up being late for the court appointment and thus he and his company ruined. Now years have passed and Fugit has spent all these years holding a grudge against Hill for “ruining” him. It is revealed that Hill, a lawyer, worked at the firm that Fugit’s company had the lawsuit with but Hill legitimately knew nothing about that.

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Why does this rank among my favorite episodes of the series? Frankly because of just how perfectly they mix the goofy with the dangerous. The Clock King on paper is one of the goofiest villains you can probably perceive. Here making the villain an efficiency expert who knows everything down to the second. Analyzing hours of Batman fighting makes The Clock King one of the few villains that Batman never lays a solid punch on. He’s so good that he knows Batman is well equipped and the world’s greatest detective that all his traps are mostly to just delay Batman and all according to his plan.

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Mayor Hill was always at best a peripheral character. This episode shows that he’s a decent man who probably got swallowed by the system when he became Mayor. He certainly deserves to have his efforts to improve the city tarnished or life threatened all because the genuine advice he gave did not go as planned.

This episode hints at something brought up in later episodes. Does Batman drive villainy to the city or would these people end up where we see them? This episode implies the latter. Temple Fugit was an already tightly wound (and it’s hinted that he was a highly functioning sociopath) man who took something highly personal and dedicated years and resources to enact revenge. It’s hinted that in the intervening years that he was still wealthy with him using $6000 watches and warehouses he legally owns in his plan. 

Plus there is something funny about seeing Alfred drive Batman around. Not Bruce Wayne. Batman. (The episode takes place in a single day and Bruce Wayne was on the way to work)

War for the Planet of the Apes Review

In 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and was a surprise critical and financial success. It was followed in 2014 with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which was received with even more critical and financial success. The series took a different approach from the previous Planet of the Apes films and instead focused more on the apes side and see how they started to become intelligent to the beginning of their takeover of the planet. This has all been accomplished due to the ground breaking motion capture technology where humans play the apes and are able to bring human characteristics to the apes. So how does the final movie in the trilogy (sort of) hold up?

The movie begins two years after the previous movie where war has taken its toll on both the apes and humans caught in the conflict. Caesar, the ape who started the whole revolution and the leader of the apes, is weary. It’s clear that he is only involved in the war because he has to. Never forgetting that Koba, his best friend that he killed, is the one who started the war in the first place and wondering if he might go down the same path. After an act of mercy leads to dire consequences, the apes must find a new home while Caesar goes on a personal revenge quest against The Colonel.

First and foremost, the title is a bit misleading. This movie basically covers the tail end of the war with the majority of it happening in between movies. Instead, it is basically The Great Escape with apes. It is also not a very action oriented movie. Besides the opening and the ending, the action is very scarce. The movie is much more an introspective tale about Caesar and his struggles with what his life has brought him. Knowing that he is in a war that he never wanted to be in, a father to his sons, a husband and leader to an ape community, it is all taking a toll. It’s noticeable because he has gray hairs on his fur and it’s implied that it came from stress.

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Andy Serkis once again delivers a great performance as Caesar. Caesar has come full circle as he is able to speak in full sentences and is much more human than any other ape. It is a nuanced performance as this is Caesar at his angriest and yet Caesar at his most compassionate. There should definitely be talks about some sort of Academy Award talk about Andy Serkis and what he is able to do. He has delivered one of the best performances in years. Woody Harrelson is The Colonel who is more nuanced than what you would expect from his type of character. Not really having the biggest role despite being the main villain, Harrelson is able to make the most out of his screen time. You understand where he’s coming from but at the same time, you see how far his character has fallen. Steve Zahn plays another ape named Bad Ape, an escaped zoo ape. Other than Caesar, he is the one ape who is able to really communicate with speech. He brings the comedy relief that is needed in this movie but it is never distracting and much more natural. Amiah Miller plays Nova, a mute girl, who Caesar and his group take in. Without getting into too many spoilers, Nova does hint at something that was at the forefront at the 1960’s Planet of the Apes franchise. So if the series continues, and why wouldn’t it, it is easy to see where the films will go.

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Matt Reeves returns to the directing chair after directing the previous film, Dawn. Continuing on the same path with that film, Reeves has helped conclude probably one of the best trilogies in film. It can be considered to make an all out war movie with apes and humans. Instead, Reeves chooses to focus on the personalities at the end of the war. Despite most of the film taking place in the woods and other naturalistic areas, the film is beautiful to look at. There is a shot of Caesar and his fellow apes riding horseback on a beach to the sunset. One of the most beautiful shots in the movies. The apes look fantastic as well. Since Caesar has been the one consistent ape since Rise, he obviously looks the best. There are times when you forget that he is a computer generated character.

War for the Planet of the Apes is a highlight in a pretty dreadful summer 2017. It is not a shove your face in popcorn and turn your brain off type of movie. It is a thoughtful and introspective about war that just happens to involve talking apes and humans. All credit goes to everyone involved in creating this marvelous film. Who would have thought that Rise of the Planet of the Apes would lead to this? Certainly not me.

SCORE: 9.5/10

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

Fifteen years ago, we were introduced to Spider-Man on the big screens with the Sam Raimi iteration. Three movies in that franchise was followed up with a reboot in 2012 with the Marc Webb iteration. After a somewhat failed sequel, Sony Pictures did the unthinkable and teamed with Marvel Studios to integrate Spider-Man with the ongoing and vastly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. After a introduction in Captain America: Civil War, we are getting the third Spider-Man franchise and one intertwined with the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well. What are the results when Spider-Man has finally come back home?

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Following the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker/Spider-Man is feeling himself a little too much. Tony Stark/Iron Man dragged him into this big mission but effectively kicks him to the curb when he no longer has a use for him. So being restless and aching for some action, Peter is also trying to juggle being Spider-Man with his personal life. The life of a teenager is not easy so add being a superhero onto that is another stress factor. Then there is Adrian Toomes whose life was ruined by inadvertently ruined by Tony Stark. A blue collar worker who has a grudge against the rich and powerful and thus turning to crime and becoming The Vulture to just put food onto the table. Spider-Man is the friendly neighborhood hero with aspirations to be bigger while the Vulture is someone who is comfortable with his slice of the pie and doesn’t want to really rock the boat.

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Tom Holland is great as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. You really understand his teenage angst as wanting to be treated like an adult but not fully grasping the gravity of the situation. Trying to juggle his teenage life with his superhero life is clearly affecting him as sacrifices need to be made. Since he is fifteen, Peter Parker brings a youthful energy to the MCU that is a nice change of pace from what has come before. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is not in the movie all that much. He does have a presence and serve a purpose but despite what advertisements made it seem, he does not overshadow the movie. Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/The Vulture is great in the role. The biggest downside is that he is not in the movie as you might want him. There are a couple of scenes later on between he and Holland that are great. Marisa Tomei as May Parker is definitely a different kind of Aunt May. In fact, Peter rarely refers to her as his Aunt but simply “May”. She is good but I would have liked to see one or two scenes more with her in it. Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan returns and has more screen time than his boss. I always enjoyed Favreau as an actor so it was nice to see. The rest of the supporting cast is filled with Peter’s classmates. Zendaya is that presence that’s always in scenes but a lot of the time not doing much. It will be interesting to see where they take the character in the future. Jacob Batalon as Ned, Peter’s best friend, is great and they even get to poke fun at the whole superhero has a sidekick who just sits at a computer.

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This film does not rock the Spider-Man boat. Playing it pretty straight in an effect to align this Spider-Man with the rest of the MCU. So while the film takes no real risks, it does a good job of setting up the character and his corner of the universe. There were a lot of screenwriters for this movie including the director, Jon Watts. For someone who has only directed low budget movies beforehand, he did a good job with this major franchise movie. Of course most Marvel movies are effectively cranked out on a machine but still, the movie could have floundered but it doesn’t. At about two hours and fourteen minutes, the movie moves at a good pace. I was never bored or wanted to look at my watch. The only major knock is that while the film was relatively grounded, the ending set piece had to be something in the air and a big explosion. They did reign it in but seemed a little extraneous but that may have been the point. One good job they did was establish The Vulture as a threat. I never really liked The Vulture in the comics but this movie does make him a genuine great villain who could probably make Iron Man struggle if they went toe to toe.

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There are easter eggs galore in this film. Much of The Vulture’s tech is derived from previous battles caused by previous MCU films. In fact the film opens in the immediate aftermath of The Avengers (2012). Not only does it help the film feel natural within the Marvel Cinematic Universe as why wouldn’t criminals start using tech from the super villains? Now that super heroes and villains are the norm, a lot of people aren’t even rattled by the appearance of Spider-Man in their neighborhood. It also helps set up future Spider-Man films as there are tons of Spider-Man villains in this film but it never feels forced. I think almost every character with a speaking line is a character from Spider-Man comics, whether big or small.

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Out of all the six Spider-Man movies, this is probably my favorite. It finds the right balance between the Peter Parker and Spider-Man of it all. It doesn’t go the route of the Sam Raimi movies where the bad guys all had to have some sort of accident or something to be a bad guys. The Vulture is a bad guy. He may be wanting to do right by his family but he is a bad guy. Definitely one of the more memorable bad guys in the MCU lately. Spider-Man: Homecoming achieves what it needed to do. Establish this Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while also serving as a good first film in the individual franchise. The future for the web slinger is bright and can’t wait to see where they take the character in his new surroundings.

SCORE: 9/10

 

28 Years and Going…But It Wasn’t Always This Way

My birthday is a month away and it got me thinking. I’ll be 28 and a few years ago I didn’t even think I would live to be 30. I make no secrets about my issues with depression and anxiety and a myriad of other things. There was a period of time from 2011 to 2014 where I was absolutely low. Low on myself. The amount of self loathing that I was going through was astronomical. I wasn’t suicidal or anything like that. But I honestly lost the will to live. This was reflected in my attitude where I was constantly angry and lashing out at anyone. This is something I’m still feeling the effects of as a lot of people want nothing to do with me from this time. I figured that one day I would just randomly wander onto the street and if an oncoming car hit me, then so be it. If I pissed off the wrong person and they wanted to take me out then so be it also.

After seeking out help for my mental health, I can say that I am in a much better place now. I won’t lie and say that I’m always in a good mood or anything. I still have my moments where my anxiety and depression get the better of me. I tend to overthink a lot and while sometimes that can be a blessing, it can also help exacerbate some of my issues. Just recently I had a really bad case hit me where my self loathing hit because of my overthinking and putting a lot and thought into something (Facebook) that is not really reflective of my real life. It has been a long journey from late 2014 to now. I am able to evaluate and process things more and my I have a better grip on myself and self confidence and self worth.

Today I woke up and realized that my birthday was a month away. As mentioned earlier, I will be 28. I honestly thought I wouldn’t live this long. I always get a case of the birthday blues. On one hand, I’m happy but there is always something in the back of my head that bums me out. What a roller coaster 28 years it has been.  There are probably more downs than ups at this current moment. But I look around at my life and I know that things aren’t that bad. Sure there are things I wish were going better from personal relationships to employment situations. I take a look at my life and realize that things aren’t as bad as they could be.

I have a family that loves me and will support me and make sure I’m not on the streets. I have a lot of good friends that I really need to make time for but I’m someone who really prefers to be alone. In the latter half of 2016 and now, which is mid 2017, I have grown a lot more. I have become more bold and not afraid to go after what I want which is something that has always held me back. This has ranged from getting a second job so I can afford to go on trips to being more forward about my feelings with people so I can establish relationships with them, whether it be friendly or more intimate.

If you had told me that my life would be like this a few years ago I would not have believed you. I figured that if I was alive, I’d just be some lonely hermit that no one wanted to be with. That if I were dead, no one would even care. But here I am. Almost 28 and I’ll soon be 30. I can’t say that my life is perfect. I mean nothing is perfect. But I am glad to be here, despite having moments where I’m not. I’m glad to be alive and I’m glad to say that I have a fulfilling life.

So here’s to another 28 years. Then another 28 years after that.

Top 5 Best Movies of 2017 (So Far)

  1. Get Out – As someone’s who dated a lot of white women (not on some fetish level), this movie struck a poignant nerve wp-1488380042506.png
  2. Logan – Hugh Jackman has played the character of Wolverine since 2000 and the movies he’s been in have fluctuated in quality. But leaving the franchise on a high note. wp-1483717119151.jpg
  3. Split – Talk about a surprise. A great small film with some big aspirations. James McAvoy deserves an Oscar for his performance(s) in this one. split
  4. The Lost City of Z – Hey look Charlie Hunnam can act. A dramatic look at a real life explorer who found himself more at home in the jungles than with his own family. The_Lost_City_of_Z_(film)
  5. John Wick: Chapter 2 – A movie that knows exactly what it is and relishes in it. John-Wick-Chapter-Two-2017-movie-poster