Sunday, March 31, 2013

Love and Sacrifice

Greetings Pups,

So today is Easter, I guess. As you all know, I don't really mess with the holidays, but, as a Christian, I am more than happy to acknowledge the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And I suppose when you sift through the bunnies and eggs and hams and overpriced chocolate, it is that which Easter is really about. Or so I've been told. When it comes to social media, this holiday is a current highly spoken of topic, and I have also noticed many people tweeting or Facebooking about love, for better or worse. But when it came to all this talk about love, I noticed that not many people mentioned the greatest act of love ever bestowed upon humankind. And since Easter is supposed to be about the resurrection, I thought I might speak on that, but also back up a bit to what came before that. You know, the dying part.

It always amazes me how many people know about the crucifixion and what Christ did, and it amazes me even more how many people actually believe that it happened and yet still do not choose to be official followers of Christ. It's as though the true impact of what he did can't sink into them. Anyone who bothers to open the Bible can find the verse where it tells us that the greatest act of love is to lay down your life for someone. Well, Christ laid down his life for everyone in the world. So that's a lot of love. Now I can imagine that people may be thinking of that on too grand of a scale. Let me make a bit more personal.

It is true that the reason that Jesus did this for everyone was because it needed to be done for everyone. But if you realize that he would have done it for each of us individually if we were the only ones who needed to be saved, I think that can make it all go a bit deeper. Though as an entire people we are precious to him, we are also precious to him one by one, to an overwhelming degree.

So after the crucifixion, obviously, we have the resurrection. Now sometimes I think that people, even Christians, don't get how important this is. The whole idea of Jesus raising from the dead, I fear, has almost become a cliche of Christianity. We have to remember that it is this event which gives us all of our power. When Jesus had his twelve disciples, he gave them the ability to have all the same powers he had. After he rose from the dead, all of that got passed on to us, anyone who chooses to follow him. Through the resurrection, Jesus overcame death. That's a pretty big thing. And it was all for us.

Look, I'm not exactly trying to convert anyone through what I wrote here. We all have to make our own decision about what we believe. I'm just sharing with you what I believe is the truth and what has changed my life for the better. And if you are a Christian who does the traditional Easter thing, that's your decision. But just take a good few minutes and truly meditate on what the whole thing is about that you are celebrating. And then do that everyday. It's just so important to never forget.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The One Seasoner's Club - Saved By The Bell: The College Years

Greetings Pups,

I certainly always considered myself a very precocious child. I was always attracted to things far beyond my years, be they movies, books, or television shows. But I can admit freely that, every so often, I could fall into certain traps. One of those was a little show called Saved By the Bell. Yes, I was a very big fan of the show in my youth. What can I say? I fell for the idea that what they showed me was what high school actually was, and I couldn't wait until I was old enough to go because, of course, it was going to be exactly like Bayside. Spoiler Alert! It wasn't!! No, no, my high school experience was nothing like that of the kids on Saved By the Bell. I mean, we never stole another team's mascot or got addicted to "drugs" to pass our geometry tests or lost our pet duck to an oil spill. Oh, and, as crazy as this may sound, our principal was actually smarter than us kids. Weird, I know. But like I said, I got sucked in. And I got sucked in enough to follow this group of kids all the way to college. Thus, bringing us to our subject today, Saved By the Bell: The College Years.

Okay, if you don't know this, Saved By the Bell . . . The High School Years aired originally on Saturday mornings in amongst a boatload of cartoons and was, therefore, aimed at a very young audience. Probably an audience younger than the characters. I'm not sure if a ton of actual high school kids watched this show, most likely having developed a taste for something more mature, like Beverly Hills, 90210. But after Zack, Slater, Screech, Kelly, Jessie and Lisa graduated from high school, they decided to spin off the show and move it to prime time. Unfortunately, when writing the episodes, I think they often forgot that they were no longer on Saturday mornings. More on that later. Let's get to the actual set up of the show.

After graduation, Zack, Slater and Screech decide to go to college together in California, despite Zack getting in to Yale, Slater getting a full scholarship to Iowa State and Screech being accepted to pretty much every Ivy League school, as it was told to us on this show's predecessor. Yeah, I doubt their parents would have allowed that, but, whatever! The plot of the show says they have to be here. They all attend the fictional California University, which is extremely obviously U.C. Berkeley. In the pilot, we see the three guys we already know, as well as three new girls: Leslie Burke, a tall, intelligent blonde who Zack is immediately interested in, Alex Tabour, a drama student who is, well, very dramatic, (dramatic, in this case, being code for slightly annoying) and Danielle Marks, a girl who clearly comes from a well-to-do family and who has a bit of sass to her. We also meet Mike Rogers, the dorm adviser who is also an ex-football player. I'd tell you to not forget that aspect of his life, but they really never let you. Like ever. EVER!

So, that is the set up of the pilot. In that first episode, of course, Zack tries to pull some shenanigans, but he actually gets punished pretty harshly for it. Mike does remind him that he is not a kid anymore and is no longer in high school. I wish he would have told that to the writers.

After the pilot, they decided to get rid of the character of Danielle and bring back a familiar face, Kelly Kapowski. Oh, I wonder if this might cause some upheaval when it comes to Zack and Leslie's burgeoning relationship. Spoiler Alert again! It does. Yeah, that is a plot point for a little bit of time, but not as long as you'd think. Also, later in the series, they brought in the character of Dean Susan McMann who was miraculously played by Holland Taylor. I say, "miraculous" because being able to get that fantastic actress in this show must have required nothing short of divine intervention. Safe to say, she was the most entertaining person on this thing. And about those aforementioned plots, let's get to some of the ones that were tackled during this series' short run.

Like I said, this show did not try that hard to transition into the more adult audience of prime time. They tried a little, but not much. I think the edgiest thing they did was having Kelly be "involved" with one of her professors. I see a little Valerie Malone was getting awakened at that point. And, then, there was that episode where Slater met a girl who told him he was Mexican, because, I guess he didn't know. And, of course, we got an obligatory "date rape" episode, which really wasn't that at all, but they tried to pass it off as one. Oh, show, you were in WAY over your head on that one. You are so not A Different World. Believe it or not, I think the original Saved By the Bell probably tackled heavier issues than this. Granted, it was on the air longer, but still. And I suppose it was slightly an adult thing that the series ended on a cliffhanger of Zack and Kelly running off to get married. I guess I'm using the term "adult" a bit loosely. As we all know, that led to the TV movie wherein they eloped in Vegas. But that thing is a whole other can of worms that I just cannot open today.

Okay, I guess this leaves us with the one question I always ask. Did this show deserve a second season? I'm going to say no. Although, to be honest, I feel like I should be saying that Saved By the Bell did not deserve a sixth (or possibly seventh) season, because, when you think about it, this show was less of a spin off and more of a continuation of the original. A really inferior continuation at that, and considering the quality of the original? Yeah. I almost feel strange putting this in The One Seasoner's Club, since it barely feels like a standalone series, as many spin offs were able to become. But technically, it is, so I can. Like I said, giving this even one season seems like too much, especially when moving it to the night schedule. It just did not translate to an adult audience. Maybe it could have if they would have put more of an effort into it. Or not.

Look, Saved By the Bell was a high school show for a young audience to air on Saturday mornings, and it should not have left that comfortable little cocoon. It was fine for what it was and should not have attempted to go further. But for us and Bayside and all of the fictional students therein, we will always have the 90's.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Where To Put What You Have

Greetings Pups,

It's amazing to me how many people who don't consider themselves Christian or religious or spiritual still know what the Bible says. So many people know the stories. Maybe they heard them in their childhood, maybe they heard them told in some Hollywood-ized movie version. Whatever way it comes, they know. I know the stories because I read them everyday. I've read them since I could read my first word. They are ingrained in my entire being, and I do have my favorites.

One of my favorites is so because of how much I relate to someone involved in the incident. Some of you may know it. In this story, there is a multitude of five thousand people who have come to hear the words of Jesus. During their time there, they run out of food. Everyone is worried, but one little boy steps forward and offers his own food, which is a mere five loaves of bread and two fish. It's not much,especially for five thousand people, and no one seems shy to point that out. No one, but Jesus. He took what the boy had to offer, gave thanks in prayer for it and multiplied it, so much that everyone was fed and twelve baskets were left over. That's what we call a miracle.

Like many people do, I have taken moments to look at what I have to offer, and it does not seem like much at all. Many people around me are quite pleased to say that it's not much either. The world at large would most likely say that it's not much. And maybe it isn't, on its own. But I've learned to take the things I have to give, my talents, my gifts, and place them in God's hands. He can take these things that seem like so little and multiply them into great things. He can use what I have to give and make it more than what I could ever hope or imagine.

So why is it that so many people keep what they have to themselves and keep those things small? It's all about faith. We have to believe enough to give all of this to God, but so often, fear takes over, and it blocks our faith. We want to do things our way and on our own, but that is not the way. So I've learned that, though, my gifts are so often belittled by so many, even myself at times, if I give it to God, He'll multiply it and spread it farther than I could think possible. We just have to work hard and believe.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Top Ten Stevie Nicks Songs

Greetings Pups,

There are a lot of things I love in life. For example, I love songwriting, because it makes me feel content, and wearing black, because it makes me feel thinner, and adorable short people, because they make me feel tall. So is there an adorable short, songwriter who wears a lot of black anywhere out there to make this day superb? Why, hello, there, Ms. Stevie Nicks! How are you?

As I made it clear when I reviewed her latest album, I am a great admirer of Stevie Nicks. She has taught me so much as a writer, and I love the honesty she conveys in her work. She also has always seemed to really love what she does, putting so much passion into it that you can't help but feel that through everything she writes. And she looks overwhelmingly good, not just for her age, so I figured if I flatter her enough, she may share with me her secret.

So, naturally, I had to do a top ten song list for her. Now, when it comes to someone like Stevie, who has been in a band and done solo work, I really had to focus and decide what I wanted to do here. Therefore, I have chosen to not include any of her work with Fleetwood Mac, since that will one day, most likely, garner a list of its own. I could have also only focused on her solo work, but since, in the days of Buckingham/Nicks, she and Lindsey had a mere one album, I thought I could include some songs from that time, as well. As usual, some of these will be obvious, and others, not so much. But these are my favorites, so here we go.

#10. "After the Glitter Fades" - I normally am not a fan of celebrities talking about how hard it is to be one, but, though there seems to be a taste of that here, I am much more forgiving. I think that is because what she wrote here can be about anything that takes you away from personal things, like love. It just so happens that her "thing" is being famous. And it reminds us that what is important will somehow last.

#9. "Edge of Seventeen" - I'd say this is one of Stevie's most famous solo songs and with good reason. I love a song that has great music, but doesn't rely on that so much that the writer lets the lyrics suffer. This song is stellar in both music and lyrics. Being that she was inspired by the deaths of both John Lennon and her uncle, you can really feel how personal it is, even with the driving beat. It takes a gift to do that.

#8. "Alice" - There are a bunch of references to Alice in Wonderland in this song. And the song is written by Stevie Nicks. Do I have to say anything else as to why I love it?

#7. "Stand Back" - I would never consider myself a fan of Prince, but I am certainly glad he exists. See, if he didn't exist, he wouldn't have written "Little Red Corvette", and then Stevie would not have been inspired to write "Stand Back". That's right. She loved Prince's song so much that she wrote her own that kind of sounded a little like it. To say the least. Don't worry. Prince was cool with it. Apparently, he even played the synthesizer on the recording. Nice guy. Lucky guy. I mean, who wouldn't want to work with Stevie? (Spoiler Alert! I would!)

#6. "Crystal" - This is one of those songs from the Buckingham/Nicks days and it is just so beautiful. It's one of those songs with which I love to harmonize. Now some of you may have heard it in the movie Practical Magic. Hey, wait. Stevie has been trying for decades to convince people that she is not a witch, even going so far as to wear pastel in the 80's. Yikes! So why put one of your songs in a movie about witches? Maybe not a good idea, but I think she trusts her true fans enough to know that we can put any rumor aside and just listen to this lovely song.

#5. "Two Kinds of Love" - So, Stevie is certainly a lady who likes a duet. She has done some fantastic ones, and here is a favorite of mine. I'm not sure if it's as well known as others, but it does have Bruce Hornsby. And that is more than good enough for me.

#4. "Long Distance Winner" - Here's another from Buckingham/Nicks. I think I first heard this song on Stevie's 1998 box set, Enchanted, and I fell instantly in love with it. The music is amazing, and the lyrics are some of her best ever. Between this song and the other I mentioned, I really don't know why Stevie and Lindsey weren't more successful on their own. I guess everything happens for a reason.

#3. "Leather and Lace" - And another duet, this one with Don Henley, who I think has one of the best voices ever. Now I could go into all the stories, true and rumored, about the relationship between these two, but today, it's all about the music. And this is easily one of the best duets of all time. Love these two voices together so much. I still hold out hope that they'll give us another song someday.

#2. "Italian Summer" - This one is the newest entry on the list, being from Stevie's most recent album, In Your Dreams. I'm sure that the hardcore fans have already heard this masterpiece of a song, but I suggest even the most casual of fans to give this a listen. This is, hands down, one of the best things Stevie has ever done. I know that even some of our greatest artists can get complacent or just run out of good material, but this proves that there can always be a gem left to be created, no matter how long someone has been going. The song is phenomenal.

#1. "Has Anyone Written Anything For You?" - I cry. I cry a lot. And, every now and then, something makes me cry because it is both devastating and beautiful all at once. This song is exactly that. I could tell you the story behind it, but I almost feel unworthy because it is so incredibly personal for both Stevie and the person for whom she wrote it. But you can find out the origin for yourselves; it's worth it. Still, though she has been overwhelmingly honest in her work, I think no other song has been closer to letting us see Stevie's heart and soul than this one.

And those are my favorites from Ms. Nicks. I have to say,again, that she has been a huge inspiration for me as a songwriter and as a woman. When I listen to Stevie's work, it makes me want to better my own. That is what a true artist does. Stevie Nicks is certainly one of those.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Batman: Gotham Knight - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I know I give a lot of love to these DC animated movies, but, I must admit, I do have a favorite. It is that one, in particular, that I will be discussing today, Batman: Gotham Knight. And it is fantastic.

Now this one is quite unique in the way it is presented. It's not one movie/story, necessarily, but six vignettes put together by different writers, animators and directors. However, there is some cohesion that threads them all together, some more than others, so it's almost something of a miniseries. But different. I think the best way to talk about this is to go through each of the pieces, one by one, and give a very quick synopsis of their plots. I probably won't say much about that, since I would like you to all experience this for yourselves. But I will do my best to give everyone a little taste. So here we go.

"Have I Got a Story For You?" - In this opening short, we follow a group of kids as they tell stories of when they each saw the infamous Batman. Each one has a different take on his looks and his abilities. I have to say, I wasn't crazy about this one at first, but then I realized that this was actually a very good way to start. Gotham Knight, in its entirety, is different people giving their own version of how they see Batman, so why not begin with a story that does the same?

"Crossfire" - Here, a bit like the first, we get an idea of how Batman appears to others. In this case, though, we see how he is viewed by some cops. Specifically, we are dealing with Crispus Allen and Anna Ramirez. They are partners who don't exactly agree on whether or not Batman can be trusted by anyone, especially their boss, James Gordon. And all of this comes to a head during a confrontation between to gangs, wherein they are caught in the crossfire, hence, the title. Now Batman is not in this so much, as the story is really about the other characters, but he arrives when he is needed.

"Field Test" - This is the first one where Bruce Wayne/Batman appears as the main character, and it is a young version of such. It seems to be how he was as he was just beginning to do the whole Batman thing. The plot is about Lucius Fox designing a device that will protect Batman from some guns, and it comes in handy when he's out taking care of some bad guys. But maybe too well. The story tends to remind us how Bruce Wayne is willing to put himself in danger, but not anyone else.

"In Darkness Dwells" - In this one, the police are called to a riot that breaks out in a cathedral where people say the cardinal was abducted by a strange creature. Batman and Gordon agree that Scarecrow may be behind what is going on. This is an interesting point since it ties this into events in the movie Batman Begins. So a ton of crazy things happen in this story culminating with Batman getting wounded and leading us into the next vignette.

"Working Through Pain" - I'd say that this piece and the previous one are the most linked together of any of these shorts. It really is just a continuation, a part two even. Here we find a wounded Batman wandering through the sewers and reflecting back on some events that took place in his past. He remembers volunteering at a relief effort where a man is operated on without being anesthetized, and he also thinks back on some time he spent being trained by a woman named Cassandra. She was an outcast in her community for trying to learn things that only the boys were allowed to learn. What she does is try and help Bruce work through his pain. Now this one here is my favorite, and it is so for a lot of reasons. But more than anything, I love the final few shots. There is this image we see that is very powerful and poignant when we think of who Bruce Wayne, and in turn, Batman, is. And I don't know if this was intentional, but these scenes do seem to hand us right over to what happens in the final vignette.

"Deadshot" - So guess which villain shows up in this one is? You'll never guess. Okay, I'll tell you. It's Deadshot. So since he is an assassin, the plot centers around the attempts to assassinate someone. But who? That, I am not going to tell you. And that is basically what the story consists of. The ending is very well done, though, and it really ties up, not only the end of this story, but the whole collection. And yet, it has a bit of an open ended feeling to it. Not in a sequel bait kind of way, but in a way that let's us know that, even though the story is over, the story isn't over. We leave Bruce Wayne as he remembers that he's Batman and this is what he does. Good ending.

So there you have it. This is a very good movie to watch, especially is you are a Batman fan. It's brilliantly put together, with great animation and fantastic stories. Everyone involved did such a good job. And I have to speak, of course, about the voice over work. We get a lot of wonderful acting here from the likes of Gary Dourdan, Parminder Nagra, Ana Ortiz, Alana Ubach and Kevin Michael Richardson, one of the best voice over actors ever, just to name a few. And of course, we get the official voice of Batman, Mr. Kevin Conroy. I've mentioned him before, but I have to say it again. This guy is incredible and the only person who should ever voice Batman. Like ever!

Now one more thing. I own this movie on a two edition DVD, and if you're going to buy it get this one. You will, obviously, get the movie on disc one with a entertaining commentary, but you also get some good features on disc two. There are four episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, presented by Bruce Timm, who is a major part of the DC animated universe. Then, we get a documentary about Bob Kane, one of the creators of Batman. Finally, there is a very informative featurette about the villains that our hero has had to face. It's really good.

So, as I said, this one is my favorite. I think if you like the tone of the Christopher Nolan Batman films, you'll like this one a lot. Even if you don't, though, Batman: Gotham Knight is definitely something that should be seen.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Friday, March 15, 2013

Justice League: The New Frontier - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Remember how I said how much I loved the voice actors for the Justice League cartoon series? Yeah, well, we're not getting any of that today. In Justice League: The New Frontier, things are done a bit differently than some of the other films that I love so much. For example, they hired a bunch of well-known actors (not exactly voice actors) to play the roles that have been done so well by actors who are mainly known for voice over work. Not that they haven't done this before, but there are just so many characters in this thing, which will eventually lead me to another complaint. I guess I should begin with a quick plot synopsis.

I will choose to begin this a bit of a compliment. This film is set in, not present day as many of the others are, but 1953 to 1960, starting right after the Korean War and going into Kennedy's presidency. I found that aspect kind of intriguing since that was around the major heyday of comic books. Or perhaps slightly after it. I'm never sure about these things, but I think I'm close. And, though this may seem like a negative to some people, I like the way it throws in some tidbits about history. There you go, kids. Now you don't have to go to school today. Moving on.

So the movie starts with a voice over by something called The Centre, who claims to have witnessed the evolution of everything on Earth and how everything would be better if all the humans were gone. Or something to that effect. Hmm? Where have I heard this plan before? So The Centre does this whole monologue about this, and it's being written and then someone shoots himself. Now that's what I call an opening.

Cut to the end of the Korean War where we find Hal Jordan (a.ka.a Green Lantern) having some issues about killing people, which leads him to a mental ward. Then, we have J'onn J'onzz, our resident Martian Manhunter, coming to Earth and doing his shape shifting thing. A year later, Superman runs into Wonder Woman in Vietnam where she just rescued some women and then proceeded to let them have some bloody justice. He tells her that this is the kind of things that made the government and everyone else distrust the heroes, leading to the Justice Society's disbanding and Batman becoming a fugitive. And she's like, "Whatever!" Oh, and The Flash shows up eventually, too. Soon they find out that there is this bad thing called The Centre coming, and, of course, they must defeat it.

Okay, I have to be totally honest here. If I tried to go into any more detail about the plot, I don't think I would succeed. I'm not saying that the plot isn't good, or that it's necessarily complicated, but for some reason, in my head, I just felt like there was so much going on. While you watch it, I think it might be not too hard to follow, but it's not something that can be explained very well. Or maybe it's just me. I have no problem with movies that require you to pay attention a bit. I welcome that actually. But here I just felt as though they were requiring that of me too much. Again, this could just be me not being able to click my brain with what was happening in the story. Others may not have this problem at all. And, like I said, that didn't make it bad. When I focused, I did like the story. And there was this great montage sort of thing at the end which I enjoyed quite a bit.

So I guess, since I mentioned it before, I should discuss the voice acting. Who do we have here? Well, we get a lot of actors whose voices are fairly recognizable. We get Kyle MacLachalan as Superman, Lucy Lawless as Wonder Woman, Kyra Sedgewick as Lois Lane, David Boreanaz as Green Lantern, Miguel Ferrar as J'onn J'onzz, Neil Patrick Harris as The Flash and Jeremy Sisto as Batman. Really? Jeremy Sisto? He has, in my opinion, one of the most distinct voices I have ever heard. Not to say that he, or anyone else, did a bad job, but it's hard to separate these well-known people from the characters they are portraying.

Well, I know I gave some criticisms to this movie, but, really, I think it's worth a watch. And I think it's especially good for those comic fans who like might that old school, period piece feel to it. Like I said, that was something I thought was very appealing. Still, if your brain can take a holiday, as mine sometimes can, be prepared to pay attention.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

A while back, I did a whole Batman vs. Superman post, wherein I discussed why people like one or the other, the differences between them in the media, and my personal opinions on these things, specifically the relationship between the two. I mentioned that I do kind of agree with those who think that Batman and Superman seem so opposite in their views that they may, at times, make better enemies than they do friends. But I certainly don't mind when they team up to fight a common enemy. I do like the Justice League cartoon, after all. Well, today I will reviewing another film that puts these two heroes on the same side, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. And, before I officially begin, let me say how pleased I am that the titular characters are being voiced by Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy. As well they should be. Let's get started.

As the film opens, our country is in an economic mess, until we elect a new president who fixes everything. And who is this president, you may ask? Why, it's Lex Luthor, of course! Sounds like a good idea to me. You know what else sounds good? Clancy Brown doing the voice. Yeah, this guy is, without question, the best voice over artist for Lex Luthor. Others have tried and failed to be as great as he is in this role. Anyway, as our new Commander-In-Chief, Luthor wants to gather up all the superheroes to be government employed, both to help in the country's defense but also to keep them in line. Well, that certainly doesn't sound suspicious. But some of the heroes go along with this plan, including Power Girl, voiced here by the adorable Allison Mack, taking a little break from her duties on Smallville. I don't want to make assumptions, but I'm guessing she took this part because she was going to get some free animated plastic surgery. If you've ever seen Power Girl, you will get the joke. Turns out, though, that not every superhero thinks this is a good idea. Particularly, Superman and Batman, because, despite all the "good" he has done for the country, they still do not trust Luthor at all.

As it happens, there is a huge meteor of Kryptonite headed for the Earth, so Luthor requests a meeting with Superman to discuss the problem. And they meet in Gotham City, because . . . well, how else are they going to get Batman involved? And of course, he shows up when needed. During this meeting, which is not any kind of trap at all, someone is killed, which leads Lex Luthor to accuse Superman of murder, thus turning him into a fugitive. He says that the Kryptonite meteor has probably turned Superman insane. Here's the best part. Luthor puts a one BILLION dollar bounty on his head. This brings out a boatload of villains who want to get paid. We see Bane, Silver Banshee, Deadshot, Cheetah, Mr. Freeze and that's just naming a few, and they all put a big attack on Superman and Batman. And it is very entertaining to watch.

But, per usual, things are not always as they seem. Turns out, Lex is much more fond of Kryptonite than anyone ever thought, and the arrival of this huge and deadly meteor is actually playing a big part in a plan that he has for the world at large, or whatever might be left of it. Yeah, I could go into a detailed account of this plan of his, but, frankly, it's not so different from other plans we've had from other villains. I suppose that would be my only real complaint about this film. Well, that and this slightly disturbing scene between Lex and Amanda Waller. As the scene plays out, the question will most likely float into your head of, "He's not saying what I think he's saying, is he?" Then, you just decide to move on before things get even more uncomfortable. But back to the big plan of Lex's. Though the whole thing feels like it's been done before, the way they get to it seems fairly original. To me, anyway.

Oh, and some of you may be wondering if Superman and Batman succeed in defeating Lex Luthor. Seriously, though, you're probably not. I mean, really, what do you think is going to happen? Again, I will say this. Whilst the ultimate ending may seem a tad predictable, the pathway is pretty entertaining. They have a great build up to the climax, which is enough to sustain what we most likely already know is going to happen. So, any parts that seem foreseeable or overdone can be overlooked in favor of how much greatness there is in this film.

Now I know I mentioned some of the starring voice actors, but let me give credit to some of the others. We get some great performances from Xander Berkeley, John C. McGinley, LeVar Burton and C.C.H. Pounder, who voiced the aforementioned Amanda Waller. Seriously, this woman has got to have one of the best and most recognizable voices of all time, and she is fantastic here. You know, as much as I loved the people voicing the leads, I truly enjoyed this great supporting cast as well.

And there you have it. I must say, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is probably one of the best of all the DC animated films. Between that animation, the story and the acting, you're in for something great if you decide to watch this one. And should there ever be a plan to make a live action movie with both Superman and Batman, I hope the filmmakers, again, take a lesson from this.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Green Lantern: First Flight - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

There is a certain phrase coming to my mind right now. That phrase would be "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" So here's a question. Why is that when we have a fantastic, albeit somewhat short and animated film based on a certain comic character, do we feel the need to make a crappy live action version two years later? I don't know, but let's talk about Green Lantern.

I believe we are all aware of the catastrophe that was the 2011 Green Lantern film, starring Ryan Reynolds at quite possibly his absolute worst. So sad, because I think he actually can be very good. And this film left such a bad taste in people's mouths that I doubt they would give anything with Green Lantern a chance. Again, sad, because there is something very good that stars one of our favorite green superheroes. It is the 2009 animated film, Green Lantern: First Flight.

As you may be able to tell from the title, this is another origin story for our hero, but it is a bit of one for the villain as well, because we see how both of them become what they are. The plot follows Hal Jordan, voiced by Law and Order: SVU's (former) own, Christopher Meloni, as he is chosen to be a green lantern and subsequently trained to do the job. He is supervised by a senior officer in the Green Lantern Corps named Sinestro, here played by Victor Garber. Okay, so we've got Chris Meloni and Victor Garber. Can this thing possibly get any better? Oh, hey there, Michael Madsen playing the awesome Kilowag! Welcome to the party. And while I speak of this great cast, let me also mention Kurtwood Smith as Kanjar Ro, Tricia Helfer as Boodika, and Olivia D'Abo as Carol Ferris. Yes, and Miss Olivia, of course, even with her very few lines managed to outdo Blake Lively, who got an entire film to try and get it right.

Anyway, beside that main story of this being Hal's first mission with the Corps, we also deal with a plot involving something called the Yellow Element. You see, in the light spectrum, yellow is the only color that can resist green. How artistic. So, naturally, that is the only thing that can go against the Green Lantern Corps power, and there is a pure concentration of it called, as I mentioned, the Yellow Element. This brings in a group of these little blue dudes called The Guardians, who have hidden it away, thus, not letting it be used against them. So it is very much sought after. If I am interpreting this correctly, that is what plays a major part in Hal Jordan being chosen. It is also what leads us to the climax of the story. And in an effort to not spoil any more of the film here, I think I'm going to stop when it comes to discussing that.

Now I hate to do this, but I must once again bring up the live action movie. It has been a while since I've seen that one, but I seem to remember that there are similar elements to both films. That is understandable since they are both origin stories for the Green Lantern. Yet, somehow, as I said, this shorter, animated film managed to tell the story so much better. The live action film was, to me, boring and unmemorable. I was not bored watching Green Lantern: First Flight. It was just plain good, and I really wish the other film could have been that as well.

So if you are a huge Green Lantern fan but were disappointed by the Ryan Reynolds version, I suggest you check this one out. But I guess if you're a huge GL fan, you've probably already seen it. For everyone else, I still say see this. It's entertaining, and it won't take up too much of your time. What more do you need?

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam (DC Showcase) - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Okay, this "movie" is a bit different from the others I am reviewing. I will be reviewing this as it appears on the DVD, and on the DVD, which is, in fact, entitled Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam, we get the titular short film as well as three others. All of it is technically referred to as a DC Showcase, so I thought I would talk about the whole collection featured here.

The first and longest of the short films is the one which shares the title with the DVD, Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam. The main focus of this story is on young Billy Batson and how he eventually learns to transform into the superhero Captain Marvel. We follow Billy as he randomly meets Clark Kent, who, as we all know, is Superman, and Billy happens to be a great admirer of Superman. What are the odds! And the villain here is, of course, Black Adam, whose power is based in magic, and magic is something to which Superman is vulnerable. Oh, so I guess if you want to fight Superman but don't like the color green, get yourself a magic wand. So, eventually, Superman teams up with Captain Marvel, whose power is also magic based, therefore, enabling him to be an equal to Black Adam. See, teamwork is awesome. Now I must be honest, though this is the longest and lead in short film of the collection, of the four, it is my least favorite. Still good, though. Moving on.

Next up, we have The Spectre. This little film is about the murder of a film executive named Foster Brenner and the investigation that follows. A detective named Jim Corrigan decides to check things out despite the fact that it's not his case, but he does so because he was once involved with Brenner's daughter, Aimee. Turns out, a bunch of people were mad at Brenner for not being including in his last film, which means that we've got a nice, long list of suspects. I hear cops either love it or hate it when they have one of those. Anyway, the dead Brenner starts showing up and morphing into The Spectre. That means that he's The Spectre, right? Well, maybe, but remember that even in a twelve minute short film, you can have a twist.

And while we are on the subject of guys who wear green hoodies, let's move on to our next story, Green Arrow. This one has the kind of plot that is oft ignored. Specifically, a plot of . . . kiddie assassination! No, really, someone tries to kill a kid in this thing. But she's royalty, and they tend to be targets for assassination. Basically, there's this guy named Count Vertigo (really?)who hires a guy named Merlyn (okay?) to kill Princess Perdita (come on!). AND Count Vertigo is the uncle of Perdita, who is technically now the queen, since her father has been killed . . . by Count Vertigo! Yeah, keep it all in the family there, people. Ironically, all of this goes down in an airport, where it just so happens Oliver Queen is waiting for his girlfriend to arrive. But, in the meantime, he manages to do his Green Arrow thing and tries to be the hero. By the way, we also get an appearance by Black Canary. No kidding. Oliver Queen mentions a girlfriend. Of course, it's her.

Finally, we have Jonah Hex. I must bring up the fact that I have seen the Jonah Hex live action film, and it was kind of not good. I feel like they tried really hard on that movie, and ended up trying too hard. This short film, however, is the opposite of that, in my opinion. The plot is a nice, compacted little thing about this madame at a bar who kills guys for their money, and Jonah Hex has to deal with her. It's like they were just trying to say, "Here's Jonah Hex, and here's what he does". Boom! Done! Thank you. That is all I need. And it is so much better than the complicated . . . whatever that the feature film was trying to do. So, if you like Jonah Hex, just watch this.

Now since I have not yet made mention of this, I'd like to say a word about the voice acting here. We get a lot of great people in this short films, like Neil McDonough, Thomas Jane, Michelle Trachtenberg, Linda Hamilton, Gary Cole and George Newbern, who reprises his Justice League role as Superman. I'll even give shout outs to Jerry O'Connell and Alyssa Milano in this thing. Everyone was really good in these little mini movies.

So, while I mentioned, this isn't full on movie, I say check it out. Sometimes we just want a nice short film that doesn't take up too much time in our lives. You get that here, and you get something that is really worth the watch.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, March 11, 2013

Justice League: Doom - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

It seems that people have an idea about cartoon shows, and they tend to put them at one extreme or the other. We have the ones that are strictly meant for children that can be left on to entertain them as their parents do other things, and then, we have the ones for the adults, where the children have no business watching them at all. Yet, somehow, I think they might be catching a few episodes. But what about the ones that fall somewhere in between? The cartoons that the kids can watch, but that also are interesting for adults. Specifically, I speak of the Justice League series.

The Justice League cartoon series began in 2001 and eventually morphed into Justice League Unlimited, which featured many more characters. This series was extremely well done. The production was great, the writing and the stories were fantastic, but what I loved most of all were the voice actors. So when I heard that they were making another of these animated films featuring most of the cast from the series, I was ecstatic.

In the 2012 film Justice League: Doom, we get back these fabulous actors and their characters: Kevin Conroy as Batman, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, Carl Lumbly as Martian Manhunter, and of course, my personal favorite, Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash. Rounding out the League and in addition to those series regulars, Superman is voiced by Tim Daly, who also portrayed him in Superman: The Animated Series, and Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern. Good times. Besides those, we also get a ton of other great actors lending their voices, like Olivia D'Abo, Alexis Denisof, Juliet Landau and many others. So good cast. Does that mean good movie? Let's see.

The plot of Doom is that a guy named Vandal Savage has an idea for a brand new fabulous civilization. Unfortunately, a massive portion of humanity must be done away with. Yeah, if this sounds familiar to you all who are well versed in the comic book stories, it should, since it is basically a story line that was done with Ra's al Ghul as the villain. I knew that, and I don't even read the comic books. I guess since Ra's was in Batman Begins, they didn't want to repeat an appearance.

Anyway, thanks to the Justice League, Vandal cannot accomplish this. Darn. So he has someone hack into Batman's computer system, using something he got from, where else, LexCorp. Why is this a problem? Well, as it happens, Batman was wise enough to devise contingency plans for each of the League members should any of them ever go rogue. It's a good idea, so long as none of this falls into the wrong hands. But, alas, it falls into the wrong hands. This leads to the main focus of the plot, wherein we follow each League member being attacked by these plans by way of other villains. And all the plans have been altered to not only be incapacitating, but lethal. It is done in a very clever way, and each member gets a chance to be shown, which is for what the fans would hope.

But what it comes down to really is that this is story about the cracks within the Justice League and whether or not they can trust each other. Particularly, they question Batman's loyalty, since he was the one who had the plans in the first place. So, through all this, we get to see some great character interactions, exactly what I wanted because that is another thing I always liked from the series. They carry it over well into this movie, like nothing had ever changed. And if anything did change, it was for the better.

So I suppose I would recommend this mostly to fans of the Justice League show, though I bet some of those fans might also find problems with this, such as the omission of Hawkgirl. I do kind of wish she was there, too. Everyone has an opinion. But I think this has a good story and takes us back to the time of the show. And, like I said, it was great to hear that cast together again. So, should these rumors of a Justice League live action film ever become a reality, I certainly hope they take a lesson from this, because if that possible future film is as good as this, I'll be pleased.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wonder Woman - Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

In the many decades since the comic book craze began, nearly every major character has had a shot at the big screen, and even some not so major characters. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. But there is one that has amazingly never been given a feature length film - Wonder Woman. It kind of stuns me to this day that she has never had a movie based on her, though I can understand the hesitation. We did get the fabulous 70's series starring Lynda Carter, who is the definitive Wonder Woman, not to mention about the most achingly beautiful lady I have ever seen. Then again, we also (almost) got a remake in 2011, which portrayed the beloved hero as some vicious, arrogant, insane, killing machine. I think that may have been a little different from how she was originally created. So hopes for a live action, big screen Wonder Woman film seem grim at best. Still, we do have a something that will, in my opinion, more than suffice until someone gets their act together there. That would be the 2009 animated movie entitled, what else, Wonder Woman.

I had heard about this one before it came out, and all I did hear was that they were making a Wonder Woman movie and it was going to star Keri Russell. My response to that was. "Wait, what?" Don't get me wrong. I do like Keri Russell, and I think she is a very underrated actress. However, based strictly on appearance, I never could have imagined her playing this role. Not even if they dyed her hair black. Then, I heard it was animated, which meant she was only going to be playing the voice. That's fine, since I thought, if anything, she could handle the acting quite well. Plus, she does really have a great voice. So enough back story. Let's get to the actual story.

This movie is what is commonly known as an origin story. You may be curious as to which one since Wonder Woman has had more than a few origins over time, based on who was the writer. In this case, it is apparently the origin written by George Perez in his 1987 reboot, particularly an arc called "Gods and Mortals"

The film begins before the "birth" of Wonder Woman, or Diana, as I will probably refer to her from now on, and takes us back centuries where the Amazon women were battling Ares and his army. The Amazons are being led by Hippolyta, who is voiced here by Virginia Madsen, and she does a phenomenal job, giving, with her voice, such the nobility we would expect of this character. Also, we have Alfred Molina as Ares, and it's Alfred Molina, so, of course, he's fantastic as well. There is such a violent edge to his performance, perfect for playing the god of war. Though Hippolyta and the Amazons are something of a success in this battle, she cannot kill him. So, Hera, portrayed through a Marg Helgenberger voice cameo, binds Ares' ability to draw power from death and violence. And this is how the Amazons gain their paradise known as Themyscira, where they will live forever and be isolated from men so they can concentrate on keeping Ares prisoner. Well, some of that sounds kind of okay. And this was their prize for defeating him? Whatever. Still, it seems as though Hippolyta is the one who got the real prize. She was able to have a child, created from the sand and her own blood. As so Princess Diana enters the world.

Cut to about a thousand years later, and who should crash land on the island but Steve Trevor, the dude of the story. Hey, wait, he's a DUDE! He can't be here. So, naturally, he is captured by the Amazons, including Artemis, who is played by Rosario Dawson. A tough, gorgeous gal portraying a tough, gorgeous gal. Perfect. And speaking of perfect, so is Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor. He acts exactly as you would expect a guy stuck on an island full of women to act - like he's twelve. So they must take him back to the place from whence he came, and despite her mother's objections, Diana wins the honor. And this leads her to entering our world. In the meantime, through some major oopsies by some of the Amazon ladies, Ares escapes and also makes his way into our world.

While in New York, we see the beginnings of the up and down relationship between Diana and Steve as they investigate a lot of violent occurrences they think are being caused by Ares. There are actually some very amusing moments between them, as Steve full on realizes that Diana is less of the average woman than he ever imagined. There are also a few moments where Diana is troubled by the way that women, and especially young girls, are being treated. Like everyone assuming they can't fight. Well, that is proven wrong when this whole story culminates in a battle, of course, wherein some of the problems with the Amazon society come to light, but where they also show how powerful they are. And, in the aftermath, Diana is led to her true calling of being a warrior for humanity.

Now I have heard a few of the origin stories of Wonder Woman, but this one, I think, is one of the best. It really does cover everything we need to know, from who she is to where she comes from to where she is going. The story in this film is very well done, in my opinion. It tells just enough to keep us interested without giving us so much filler that we get bored. Also, I thought the animation was very well done, showing how things have progressed in the art but also having a familiar look and feel. And, as I mentioned many times, the voice acting is stellar, and everyone, from small parts to starring roles, is perfectly cast.
So while we may have to wait a while before we get a live action Wonder Woman film, if we ever get one, I think we can pleased to have this production. Very pleased. And, at the very least, it's nothing like the remake series.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, March 9, 2013

DC Comes To Life . . . Sort Of

Greetings Pups,

Believe it or not, I have actually always thought that the creators of comic books, particularly the writers, have been very much underrated. I'm not exactly a reader or buyer of comics, never have been, but I've seen enough specials and documentaries to know that what these people do is quite impressive. I mean, if you take away the "cartoon" factor, which is the reason I think these works are often put in the inferior pile, and just think of the characters and stories and myths and intricacies, a lot of them are as good as any novel. Perhaps, this is why they adopted the title of graphic novel rather than comic book. So, much respect to you, fine creators.

Whether someone is a comic fan or not, there always seems to be a choice you have to make in life - DC or Marvel. Of course, there have been, and still are, tons of other companies, but these are obviously the big two, the classics. And you must choose! Apparently. Personally, I've always preferred DC. This is most likely due to my love of Batman, but, overall, I do like more of their characters. Don't get me wrong, though. I do enjoy some of the Marvel people as well.

Now, when it comes to the cinema, it would seem that Marvel is winning. By a lot. They've had so much success with Iron Man, Spiderman, The X-Men, Thor, The Avengers, and The Incredible Hulk (that's the Norton one, not the Bana one, mind you) just to name a few. Sure they've had clunkers like Elektra and Fantastic Four, but they are most certainly in the plus column. DC, on the other hand? Yeah, they've had success with the Christopher Nolan Batman series and the first two Superman films of yesteryear, but they also had Green Lantern, Jonah Hex, Catwoman, Supergirl, the last two Superman movies with Christopher Reeve, and, of course, Batman and Robin. Shudder. So, basically, DC has been majorly losing the cinema war with Marvel. And yet, there has been a saving grace.

I speak specifically of the straight to DVD releases of animated films that DC has been putting out over the last several years. Now when I refer to animated films in this context, I need to think a little outside the box. I think when most people think of a cartoon movie their mind automatically goes to Disney or its counterparts. Whilst the first few Disney animated films were fairly short, they've come to be full length feature films over time. And they are also very kid friendly, albeit with some underlying darker themes that often go over kids heads. These DC animated movies are pretty straight up dark, most, if not all, of them getting PG-13 ratings, usually due to violence and a bit of kid unfriendly language. They are also much shorter than your average feature films, with running times not even hitting 90 minutes. And yet, somehow, they feel longer, but not in a bad way. The filmmakers just manage to put in a lot of detail but also excellent pacing, so you get a good story sans unneeded filler. When will other producers and directors learn to do that?

So, in honor of these great and possibly overlooked little films, I have decided to devote a week to reviewing some of them. Hopefully, this will make people realize that DC isn't bringing up the rear on cinema as much as some may think. In fact, they might even be better than the rest. Just check out my thoughts and then you can decide for yourselves.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, March 4, 2013

Welcome Back to My World, Jenks

Greetings Pups,

So something pretty crazy happened on MTV a few years ago. No, they did not remove the "M" from their name in hopes of being more authentic. What they did was air a show that was genuinely very, very good. And that show was World of Jenks.

World of Jenks is a documentary style reality show wherein we follow a guy named Andrew Jenks. In each episode, he spends a week with a different person who lives an interesting life. He followed musicians, athletes, students, activists, all sorts of people with compelling stories to tell. And that first season was fantastic. Andrew Jenks is a very likable guy, who seems to sincerely care about his "subjects". Well, that season ended and then the show didn't come back. When it began, I figured it was too good to have any staying power, and it appeared that I was correct. I did think it had been cancelled. Then, recently, we got some good news.


That's right. We are getting another season, and it looks like this one may be even better. First of all, it's going to be an hour long instead of a half hour, and he's doing things a little different this time. Like I said, in season one, each episode consisted of one person's story. This time around he is spending an entire year bouncing back and forth between three different individuals. I'm looking forward to this format because we will be able to go even more in depth with these amazing people. And those people are Kaylin, a fashion designer who was diagnosed with cancer, and D-Real, a dancer from a very dangerous city. We also get some more time with a guy named Chad. Anyone who watched season one already knows who this is, since he was previously featured in an episode. Chad is a young man with autism, and his story is probably the most memorable. You could easily see that he and Andrew really formed a strong bond as friends, and I am so glad they brought him back for this.

So, what with all the sub par shows on TV these days, I strongly suggest you watch this one. It's entertaining, but it also makes you think and feel, and I love that. It's so refreshing to see a person be passionate about something and then use it to try and inspire others. That is what Andrew Jenks is doing, and how great that he is being rewarded for it. So watch the new season and enjoy.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Destination Truth: Memoirs of Monster Hunter by Josh Gates - Book Review

Greetings Pups,

A while back, I did a top ten list of my favorite Destination Truth "Half-isodes", as I call them. So, naturally, now that I'm trying to catch up on my book reviews, I thought it prudent to talk about a book that was spawned from this fantastic show. And that particular work of literature that I will be discussing is entitled Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter by Joshua Gates, the host of said show.

Okay, if you don't know about Destination Truth, it is a SyFy series wherein Josh Gates and his team travel around the world to investigate strange creatures and phenomenon. They've looked for elves, ghosts, leprechauns, sea monsters, about ten different versions of Bigfoot, and a ton of other things. Do they ever find anything definitive or any solid proof? Well, someone does certainly always hear something. But even on a show with the word "destination" in the title, it's not the destination; it's the journey. Yeah, I've spoken to some people who watch this show, and, frankly, they don't mind the end part where the team takes a closer look at what they may or may not have found, but what really entertains them, and me, is everything leading up to that. I think I mentioned this in my previous post, but I find most enjoyable to travel aspect of the show, the way they get involved and learn from a new culture, and I also like the actual investigation part. That can also be quite interesting. So why not put all of that into book form? That is exactly what Josh Gates did.

Basically, if you are a fan of the show and especially a fan of Josh Gates, you will really like this book. But even you aren't either of those things, you will probably still enjoy it. What it basically is about is a written account of a lot of the things that have been seen on the show. So, if you've seen that, as you read, you'll remember them, but it's more from a personal and internal standpoint. You get more of what he was thinking as the events took place, and it is done in both an informative and entertaining way. And that is a big plus with the book - it's really funny. But, then again, Josh is a funny guy, so I didn't expect anything less.

Another aspect of the book is that Josh talks a lot about himself personally, how he got into what he does now and also how the show came to be. I found those parts just as interesting as the rest of the stories. Again, it has so much to do with how Josh writes it. He is obviously a very good storyteller. He makes things that may seem, otherwise, mundane kind of entertaining. Not that he included a ton of mundane things. Truth be told, all the stories are good in their own way.

I think my only complaint about the book, other than my usual of "Hey, don't swear", is that it doesn't include enough pictures. There are only about eight pages worth of them in here, and it would have been nice to have some more. On the other hand, what I think would be a extremely good idea is to have a book of nothing but pictures from the adventures on this show with, of course, some captioning by the various team members who took part in them. I would enjoy that a lot, as much as I did this book. And I obviously enjoyed this very much.

So, again, if you are a fan of Destination Truth, I would say this book is a must have. If you haven't seen the show . . . well, go and watch it. They show reruns often on SyFy, and it is currently on Netflix. But if you're a person who likes to read about travel and other cultures or even the unusual or paranormal type stuff, I would recommend this book to you, as well. Either way, though, this is just a really good read. It's funny and you even learn a little about some stuff. I really liked it, and I trust others will as well.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer