23 May 2016

Quickie TV DVD Review: "Green Lantern: The Animated Series: Rise of the Red Lanterns" (Season One, Part One)

Synopsis: Hal Jordan may seem like an ordinary guy, but he has a big secret: He is part of the Green Lantern Corps, a group of intergalactic superheroes that defend innocent lives all over the galaxy.  When he is called into duty, he soon discovers that his arch nemeses, the Red Lanterns, are bent on killing millions and eradicating the Green Lanterns for good.  It's up to Hal, fellow Lantern Kilowog, spaceship intelligence system Aya, and former Red Lantern Razer to put a stop to them once and for all...but, will their combined power be enough?

My Review: Despite this series only lasting one season, it got a DVD release...but, I'm not complaining; it's a lot better than the live-action film starring Ryan Reynolds.  The animation is fabulous, as is the voice work.  All of the episodes kept me involved until the end, and, despite this being the first volume of the only season, things resolve quite nicely in the final episode.  Superhero fans know what to expect from a series like this, and that's what they'll get...but, that isn't a bad thing.  Even if you didn't care for the live-action treatment Green Lantern got, you'll probably enjoy this.

Content Concerns: Along with the expected action violence--come on; this is a superhero series!--some of the aliens are rather scary-looking, particularly the spider ones in one episode.  Also, two episodes feature buxom female aliens, and one of those episodes features Hal's Earthling girlfriend in a sultry outfit.  Young kids may not notice it, but some viewers may feel it to be inappropriate eye candy.

Score: 4/5

21 May 2016

Quickie TV DVD Review: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward: Future Shellshock!"

Synopsis: A technological mishap brings Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo a hundred years into the future! There, they meet Cody Jones, son of their allies Casey Jones and April O'Neil.  With all sorts of new technology, the year 2105 feels like a completely different world...but, there are still plenty of bad guys to fight.  Whether they're battling against body-snatching alien technology, reading a diary of events that take place after their return to 2005, or guarding Cody on a moon base, there's plenty of action and craziness to go around!

My Review: The other DVD of this season was among the first ones I reviewed on this site, and the one that woke me up to superhero cartoons in general.  That may make me biased, but, I still very much enjoyed this first half of the Turtles' sixth season.  The action, the animation, the voice work, the stories...all wonderful.  I know some fans of the franchise derided this season, but, I love it; if you haven't seen it, you should give it a chance.  The only complaints I have are a lack of closed captions and subtitles and it being a bit edgier than I expected; see below for details on the latter.

Content Concerns: The rating on each episode warns of "fantasy violence," and there's plenty of that here...but, what would a superhero show be without it? What surprised me was the scariness of some of the villains, and the episode where the Turtles turn into freaky monsters.  Even more shocking was the language; though there was no actual profanity, the word "shell" was used at least one or two times per episode as a euphemism for other words, i.e., "What the shell?", or "Let's kick some shell!" Some profane expressions are left unfinished, such as, "What the...?"

Score: 4/5

(This is my four hundredth review!)

16 May 2016

Quickie DVD Review: "3-2-1 Penguins!: Save the Planets!"

Synopsis: Intergalactic Arctic birds Zidgel, Midgel, Fidgel and Kevin, along with their young human friends Jason and Michelle, journey from one planet to another to intervene in situations...all the while learning very important lessons.  Zaniness and adventure abound in these three episodes!
From Big Idea, creators of VeggieTales.

My Review: Instead of just one episode like in the previous DVD of this series I watched, this one has three, and they're all very good! The animation and voice work is spectacular, and the moral lessons are ones many kids and even adults need to hear.  As a sucker for family-friendly entertainment, I found that I really enjoyed this one; if you're a kid at heart like I am, you probably will, too! Though the DVD was mostly well-made, some annoyingly lagging closed captions in the first episode may bother deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers.  That, however, is a minor complaint.

Content Concerns: You probably expect squeaky clean content from Big Idea, and that's mostly what you get here...except for one thing: The villain in the last episode is surprisingly scary-looking.

Score: 4/5

11 May 2016

Quickie TV DVD Review: "Lego Ninjago Rebooted: Battle for New Ninjago City": Season Three, Part One

Synopsis: It's been a while since Sensei Wu and his ninja trainees defeated the Overlord and brought peace to Ninjago City.  After years of hiding out at their school, Cole, Kai, Zane, and Jay venture back to what is now New Ninjago City...only to discover that the Overlord has returned...in digital form!  Tech genius Cyrus Borg gives the ninja the Techno Blades, the only weapons that can defeat the Overlord...but the Overlord's allies will stop at nothing to defeat them! Meanwhile, Zane, the only robot among the four ninja, finds love in Pixal, a female robot working for Cyrus...but, with everything going on, will they have time for love?
As seen on Cartoon Network.

My Review: I've loved this series ever since I randomly discovered it at the library where I work.  The first two seasons had likable heroes, despicable villains, humorous dialogue, great voice work, and wonderful animation...not to mention the amazing action sequences! These four episodes from the third season continue in that trend; the water animation in some scenes is especially well done.  However, I would have liked the entire season, not just the first four episodes; this ends on a cliffhanger, and it'll probably be a while before I see the remaining episodes, if I ever do.  The third season reportedly only has eight episodes; would it have killed them to make this a double-disc set?

Content Concerns: This show was likely rated "TV-Y7" for fantasy violence, and it is very present throughout these four episodes.  Also, some of the villains are scary, and there is quite a bit of insulting and name-calling, albeit of the "G" variety.  Probably the most shocking moment is when a longtime absent character reappears, and is revealed to have a child; he says he and his wife have "been busy, and plan on staying that way." Was that a sexual remark, or am I interpreting that wrong?

Score: 4/5

07 May 2016

Quickie TV DVD Review: "The Law of Ueki: Volume One: The Battle Commencement"

Synopsis: Ueki seems like your everyday junior high kid...but, he has a special power: to turn trash into trees! His teacher, Mr. Kobayashi, gave him that power to enter into a competition; if Ueki wins, he'll get any talent he wants, while Mr. K will become the new Celestial King.  Unfortunately, there are ninety-nine other competitors vying for the same title, all with special powers of their own! Ueki isn't much of a fighter, but, he decides to face the challenge head-on! Can he emerge victorious despite the deck being stacked against him?

My Review: Other than Japanese cartoon adaptations of Marvel superheroes, this is the first anime series I've watched since Yu-Gi-Oh! in high school.  However, I have to say that I really enjoyed it! The plot may seem weird, but, it's actually very fun and exciting! As for the production values, the animation is great, and the English voice actors do a wonderful job.  I wish the final episode didn't end on a cliffhanger, though; it'll likely be a while before I can get my hands on the rest of the series.  As good as it is, though, one big flaw with the DVD itself: The subtitles during the opening and closing credits during the second and last episodes merely transliterate the Japanese lyrics being sung instead of actually translating them.  As someone who knows about zero Japanese, I wished they could have done like they did on the other episodes.  That, however, is a minor complaint.

Content Concerns: The back of the DVD warns of "cartoon violence," but, this is a far cry from Looney Tunes.  While not bloody or gory, the battles are intense, and some of the brawls are of the street variety.  Also, the subtitles feature about three or four uses each of the d-word and the b-word--that is, the one used for an illegitimate child--though such language is strangely absent from the dubbing.

Score: 4/5

04 May 2016

Quickie DVD Review: "3-2-1 Penguins!: Meet the Penguins!"

Synopsis: When he sees his twin sister Michelle sing a silly song after being scared of a television show, Jason finds it hilarious and decides to tell his intergalactic penguin friends...who respond by sharing their own secrets! Jason soon finds himself in front of a captive audience, and decides to share all his friends' secrets to get laughs! His friends are hurt, but Jason doesn't get why.  Will he learn the error of his ways?

My Review: I'm a longtime fan of Big Idea, and the animation in this was fabulous.  Like VeggieTales, this episode imparts a moral lesson that even many adults these days need to hear.  However, the DVD itself is a ripoff, as the main feature is merely half an hour.  You should probably check this out from the library instead of spending money on it.  Also, the back of the case says this is closed captioned, but, when I watched it, none came up.

Content Concerns: Nothing of note.  (What else would you expect from Big Idea?)

Score: 2.5/5