THROWBACK REVIEW: Treasure Planet (2002)

When pirates explore the final frontier…

As a child, it is accurate to say that I had a bit of a pirate phase. You know, we all have those weird phases where things are just so cool, and they couldn’t in any way be bad. You know, then you grow up and realize that pirates were criminals who did some of the lowest of the low acts out there, and still do it to this day. But “Arrrgh”, am I right? Regardless, as a kid, when I needed a little pirate adventure in me, there was really only one place to go: the classic Treasure Island tale. This story was EVERYWHERE in my life. I watched it repeatedly. I owned Muppet Treasure Island, a 1987 Burbank Films Australia animated special of the story, I’d seen the 1950 Disney adaptation, I even saw a Wishbone episode of the story. And I’m sure I’m missing a few other adaptations I saw!

What’s the story, Wishbone?

Really, the story was an absolute classic. If my child self needed an adventure, there was no better place for me for the longest time than on the high seas with Treasure Island. You might say that I looked up to Jim Hawkins in a lot of ways. I wanted to break out as he did, I wanted to go on his adventures, I wanted to be in his shoes, and he made me so very happy a lot of the time. So with all this Treasure Island stuff in my life, it was only natural that eventually, I’d find myself watching the 2002 Disney steam-punk adaptation of the same story in Treasure Planet. Needless to say that I absolutely loved it back then, and love it now.

The film opens up with Judge Claude Frollo narrating a holo-book about the notorious Captain Flint, who would loot ships for that precious pirate booty, and we get introduced to young Jim Hawkins, who is absolutely adorable as a child. A few years later, we see him grown up into probably one of my only big problems of the film. I do kinda scoff at how they very much make Jim Hawkins a bit of a bad boy here. I mean, granted, it makes some sense in context with the story, keyword being some, but it still very much feels like a trophy move that never really feels earned. But I guess they gotta show us some of that sweet sweet animation, and making him a Marty McFly Tony Hawk hybrid gives them an opportunity to do just that.

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?

Unsurprisingly, Hawkins has grown up in this state and has a reputation of being a bit of a delinquent. And it’s because of a change in the story that I actually really kinda like. In the original stories of Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins lives with his mother in an inn. No different here. But in the classic, his father has been dead a few years. Here, Jim’s dad is still alive, but Jim has no idea really where he is, or even who he was, since he left at a young age, never came back, and this has had an impact on Jim’s life. While again, I kinda scoff at the bad boy aspect that results in this change, it opens the door for some character development of the character that is honestly, pretty absent in the original tale. But we’ll eat there soon.

If you know the story, you’ll know that a stranger appears at the inn, a fellow by the name of Billy Bones, and how this movie approaches it admittedly makes me scratch my head. The other stories give us some time to get to know Billy Bones. We see him interact quite a bit with Jim Hawkins and we eat some backstory into who he is and why he’s in hiding. Here… he’s barely alive five minutes. Granted, Billy Bones dies in every story, but not nearly this quick. This makes his reveal of him having a map to Flint’s treasure, and his warning of Long John Silver feel not nearly as impactful in the long run. Billy Bones here feels more like a footnote, when he feels like an actual character in pretty much every other rendition of this story I can think of.

Billy Bones might not be much of a character, but they do a wonderful job fleshing out pretty much everybody else.

Oh well, we know where this goes, Jim gets a map (or golden orb here and by some sort of luck, he eats it open to reveal said map), and he and his friend Dr. Doppler fund an expedition to see out the legendary titular Treasure Planet that the map supposedly reveals. And it’s here where I gotta praise a couple things. Firstly, I gotta praise the designs of this crew. Just look at some of these crew members and you can tell that there was a lot of fun in creating these guys. It’s this movie, and movies like Lilo and Stitc that pretty much have me convinced that Disney knows how to have fun with their alien designs, and with some of the Star Wars suf I’ve seen in their new movies, I don’t think they’ve lost their touch.

A positively trustworthy crew.

I think easily my favorite of the crew has to be little Morph who doesn’t have much of a role, but goddammit, the little glob of cute makes me laugh almost every time he’s onscreen. What a brilliant idea for ‘Long’ John Silver’s pet. The shapeshifting mimicking glob is just… perfect. They could have easily given Silver just some bird-alien pet Resembling a parrot, complete with the mimicking trait, but can you tell me it would be anywhere as charming as this pink glob??? The answer is no. No it wouldn’t. Not even close.

Legit one of the funniest moments of the movie.

Also holy shit, I cannot go on anymore without praising this animation. It doesn’t take long for it to establish itself as something absolutely awesome in this department, and you can probably thank the steampunk aesthetic of the film for that. I’m normally not one to really fall head over heals for this kind of story or setting, but goddamn does this story absolutely sell itself, and make it absolutely hard not to just get drawn in by literally everything going on in this story. Everything from the fun ship designs, to the animation of the characters, to the action out in space, to ‘Long’ John Silver’s cybernetics is animated in a way that just makes me wanna shout “WHOAH!” It can be breathtaking at times.

JUST LOOK AT THIS ANIMATION!

Granted there are a few things in the animation department that I particularly don’t care for, but then again, it falls more under just things I personally don’t care for. The ‘gross’ factor if you wanna call it that is kinda here, and I don’t care for it. Thankfully, it’s not a huge presence in the film, but it’s still kinda distracting. The two instances that kinda come to mind are a few instances where they animate drool, not exactly something I ever really liked, and an alien that communicates literally with flatulence. Because fart sounds I guess. I don’t wanna spend anymore time talking about this.

I’ve heard some people say they really don’t care for the steampunk aesthetic of the film, and if you’re gonna Neil deGrasse Tyson the film, then yeah, you might need to skip this one since they throw space physics out the window the entire film. I mean granted, there are a few times they have fun with gravity and whatnot, but I mean, there’s no air dome, so everyone just breathes in space pretty much. No explanation really, but it’s just one of those things you don’t really question. Like space whales (which are also present in this film…. and contribute to the gross factor).

Okay, seriously, who can NOT be wowed by these visuals?!

This film does a great job of really having us get to know these characters. As much as I love films like Muppet Treasure Island, and other Treasure Island adaptations, I cannot deny that they really struggle with getting me to care about anyone other than Jim Hawkins. You really don’t get to know or care about the other characters in these movies like Captain Smollett, Mr. Arrow, Ben Gunn, etc… They always feel like they’re in the background. Even ‘Long’ John Silver (who will get his own paragraph) never really felt like a huge character in these adaptations. This movie remedies this in so many ways. Each character feels impactful to the story, and you care about what becomes of them. Granted, it’s not perfect, and I mean… obvious baddies are obvious baddies, but you can tell that they really tried to bring each and every character here to life.

For instance, Captain Amelia and Doppler, they develop a bit of a relationship, and while it isn’t flawlessly executed, I still care about them both far more than I would any other character in an adaptation. Kermit the Frog plays a good Captain Smollett, but he’s still Kermit the Frog in a captain’s outfit. Ben Gunn here might be a bit over the top and even a title annoying, but he’s more memorable than any other iteration of the character I can remember. Mr. Arrow… good God this character is great, and he’s actually a bit of a drastic turn from other renditions of the character. In the original, he really doesn’t contribute much of anything to the story, and is killed off rather quickly after Silver gets him drunk and throws him overboard. Here, Mr. Arrow feels competent, and feels like an actual first officer. And when he is eventually killed in a scene that actually REALLY disturbed me when I first saw it, it feels that much more impactful. I cannot thank this film enough for giving me a reason to care about any of these people!

Seriously, who WOULDN’T find this disturbing?

And then there’s ‘Long’ John Silver. Good God, where do I begin?

While always a major character of the story, ‘Long’ John Silver really never felt as fully developed as he should have likely been in this story. This ranges to pretty much every Treasure Island adaptation I have ever seen. His transition from leading a group of bloodthirsty pirates on a mutiny against the crew, to suddenly saving Jim from their hands always felt like it came out of nowhere. And this is finally rectified here, and it’s the fact that this film chose to have Jim’s father leave at an early age that makes the relationship between Hawkins and Silver work so damn well. While you can tell that Hawkins is at first very wary of Silver, due to the fact that he was warned about an unnamed cyborg, like Hawkins is warned of the sailor with a missing leg, the time the two spend together really develops into something special, and I love how this film shows us just how much of a struggle it is for Silver, who is walking this fine line between leading a group of bloodthirsty pirates, and being a straight up father-figure for Jim. Some of the dialogue exchanges these two have will leave me warm inside each and every time.

I don’t think there’s a better father-son relationship shown in any Disney movie.

And it’s this wonderful development between the two that makes the conflicts the two have with each other that much better throughout the film! When Hawkins overhears their plans to mutiny, you can telll there’s genuine hurt in his face when just a scene or two ago, Silver was offering him genuine comfort over the death of Mr. Arrow when he was blaming himself over the incident! You can tell when Hawkins and the others are escaping the ship during the mutiny, that there is genuine conflict in Silver when he has a CLEAR SHOT that he could have taken at Hawkins. There is actual emotion being put in play between both of these characters and it just elevates this film to new levels. Each time they have a conflict, it feels real, and I care about both characters. Beforehand, ‘Long’ John SIlver was just a cool character in my eyes because he was a pirate, and kid me loved pirates.

It’s this bond the two share that I feel really glues this entire story together, and it is this bond the two of them share that makes me wonder just what the hell people watched back in 2002 that made them describe this movie as a film with weaker characterizations than usual. What the hell were you watching??? The only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing that they do with this that I really don’t care about is that they use a pretty forgettable song to kinda help illustrate how Hawkins lacked a father figure in his life, and the song plays in a montage of the two growing closer in this retrospect. I just find it kinda silly that they used that approach to flesh out the characters. It’s one of the reasons I personally don’t care too much for the film Titan A.E., due to its constant barrage of 90’s pop/rock selections. Thankfully, this film limits itself to just one of these musical selections.

As far as the adventure itself is concerned, it’s still a lot of fun. While again, there are a few things that might rub off the wrong way for me personally, such as Ben Gunn’s personality, and whatnot, by the time things really get rolling in this film, it is impossible to be bored or not invested. You can tell that the people behind this had a whole lot of fun with each and every sequence shown in this movie, from the supernova storm, to the mutiny, to hunting, and locating Flint’s Trove of Treasure. And they do this without losing a beat of making us care about each character here. Not only with Hawkins and Silver, but with Doppler and Amelia, who develop a very fun relationship with one another after she’s severely injured.

We even get an awesome Star Trek reference.

I’m not sure how much I enjoy the action packed climax of the story, but I suppose it’s fun enough, even if I find Jim’s hurry-rigged hoverboard a bit of a stretch. I do really find the use of the map in the scene in finding the loot, and escaping the self-destruction of the planet to be a whole lot of fun. And again… it just really amplifies the bond between both Silver and Hawkins. And not to be too spoiler-y, but it makes their separation that much better of a scene.

Seeing the conclusion of their bond really hits home every time. Not only is it heartwarming to see Hawkins willingly let Silver escape when it’s likely that Silver will face charges when they return to port, but seeing Silver look at Hawkins the way a father would to any child of theirs is just…. oh it gets you right in the feels.

Right in the goddamn feels…

When all is said and done, Treasure Planet doesn’t get nearly enough love that it deserves as far as Treasure Island adaptations are concerned, but I am happy to see that lately, the trend has gone in its favor. However, I cannot help but disagree when I hear some say that this one should get a live-action remake. Not only do I feel like the steampunk setting would dramatically lose its charm in a live-action medium, but it honestly doesn’t feel like it’s in dire need of one. In a world that is absolutely full of Treasure Island adaptations, making this unique entry in that a live-action I feel takes away the charm it offers to the story. That and you know they’d focus more on the pretty setting than the actual character development… This is one I really think they need to leave alone.

Treasure Planet is far from perfect. It offers some sequences I find pretty dumb, its action at times maybe feels a bit tacked on, and its musical score really leaves much more to be desired, but I’d be lying if I said that this isn’t a personal favorite adaptation of the classic story. Not only for the reasons I’ve talked about but so much more. It makes me laugh, it touches the heart, this film wins me over every time I put it on no matter what. Even though I have fully moved on from pirates. I don’t know if I jus watched it at the right time, or whatnot, but as far as underrated Disney films are concerned, this sits right near the top alongside the likes of films like The Hunchback of Norte Dame, and Atlantis: The Lost Empire (another great steampunk DIsney movie that’s probably only as charming as it is because of its awesome animation). If needed, I’d highly recommend experiencing it for yourself, as it has held up remarkably well.

Eat your heart out, Orion Syndicate!

Well, this review wasn’t two weeks late or anything. With all this talk of the coronavirus going around right now, I might be watching a few films to try and make light of the situation in the near future. I guess it really just depends on whether or not I find myself quarantined to my house. Time will tell. Stay healthy everyone.

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Unfinished Business)

Why couldn’t the rest of the prequels be this damn good?

The Clone Wars has just finished its first major arc of the show so far with “Unfinished Business”, and I absolutely loved it. This is the strength of this show right here. It might not have the most jaw-dropping start, but by the time it wraps up, a good chunk of the time you will be beyond satisfied. That’s exactly what this arc has done. Provided a solid beginning, middle, and end to a story I wasn’t sure I’d like all that much, and yet here we are.

So fair warning, I’ll be hitting major spoiler territory here, so if you haven’t seen the episode, then go watch the episode! It’s really good, why are you still here, just go watch the-

Anyway, so we pick up pretty much immediately where we left off. Last week, with Echo now back behind Republic lines, and eager to help the Republic take Anaxes. But with his recent experience with the Confederacy, and the fact that he still has confederate technology in him… there are questions on where his true loyalties lie. Echo however persists that he can assist them, and can turn the algorithms that he used with the Confederacy against the Droid Army and give Anaxes to the Republic. So it’s pretty obvious that we’re going to be formally smacking down a few of my theories, particularly theories regarding that Echo might be a sleeper agent for the Confederacy, or that he’d betray them. None of those things happen. But I concede that I was never good at predicting what would happen in any show most of the time.

Give me the smackdown, Ross!

It’s not the Smackdown Hammer, but close enough.

We do however get some more conflict between Echo and the Clones, which can play into the first episode of this little Story Arc, when we were first introduced to the Bad Batch, and saw the issues of trust being tested between everyone. In some ways, this can be pretty decent in execution, but in other ways, it really kinda feels forced. It’s like the episode is trying to spell it out that the clones don’t all trust Echo, because he’s a Confederate Cyborg now. I guess I should just be thankful that none of the conflict feels pointless. And thankfully, for as center an issue as this is in the episode, it doesn’t take up a whole lot of screen time.

What does take up a whole lot of screen time is well worth watching!

Mace Windu kicks ass.

This feels like the first action-oriented episode of this final season of The Clone Wars, and it absolutely positively delivers in every meaning of the word. Not only is the action in this episode 100% fun, it feels like everything that happens here matters, and it feels like an amazing send off to a group of characters I personally have grown to really like. I’m actually kinda sad to see the Bad Batch leave. Not only do they kick ass and take names in this episode, not only do they make me laugh, not only do they even get genuinely heartwarming towards the end, I almost feel like I know them as well as I know clones like Rex or Fives. This episode is a well deserved last big hurrah to the Bad Batch.

Echo’s arc even left me guessing. As I said, not only was I wrong on my predictions regarding him, but I’m actually surprised that bringing him back actually felt impactful. I’m usually a guy who tends to criticize a show that kills off a character, only to bring them back. It makes death lose impact. It’s one of the big reasons I really appreciate Star Trek: Picard right now. Echo had a really good send-off in Season 3, and had I seen the unfinished Rees dealing with Echo here before watching these episodes… I likely would have rolled my eyes and said to myself, “Maybe it’s best this show got cancelled when it did.” But not only did they make me care about Echo again here, they really brought the character to life in a new manner. The conflicts that were introduced felt real, his struggles felt good, and by the time the episode ends, I was left pleasantly surprised in my expectations. I 100% expected Echo to die in this episode, and he didn’t. Him getting an invite to join the Bad Batch might be a borderline happy-sad moment of the series. I really applaud them for making this arc matter in its handling of Echo.

Get writing, shippers!

But…. let’s talk about what everyone wants to talk about. It was only a matter of time before we saw it, and this episode finally delivers on some fucking awesome, intimidating, badass Anakin Dark Side Slippery Slope material once again.

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

Anakin’s role in this episode is absolutely jaw-dropping. When he confronts Admiral Trench in this episode, I could immediately see where this was going. And holy shit is it ever so satisfying. It’s this kind of thing that makes me say that I’m very happy this show doesn’t go the Prequel route of just having lightsabers dismember every single limb out there. It feels dumb after a while. So when we see Anakin confront Trench in this episode, with a mindset of “I’m a Jedi, but I’m still gonna intimidate the shit out of you”, him severing those IMC’s (even if they are mechanical) feels impactful. This show doesn’t do this very often, but each and every time it has done it, it feels impactful. Tell me Obi-wan cutting off the arm of Savage Opress in Season 5 is not as impactful as Dooku getting his hands cut off by Anakin in Episode 3. Is it perfectly executed here? No, but it still feels impactful.

Anakin absolutely steals the damn show in this scene, and as predictable as it might be (I mean… you don’t see Admiral Trench, as awesome as he is in episode three, so…), seeing Anakin’s interrogation of him, before eventually straight up killing him? And giving zero fucks while doing it? You can tell that Anakin just took a giant leap towards his eventual fall to the Dark Side of the Force. Dammit, why is this show so damn good at showing this???

Anakin lets Wrecker send the episode off with a literal bang.

There’s honestly very little this episode does wrong in terms of wrapping everything up. Not only am I very excited now for what’s to come in the rest of this series, but if there was ever any doubt in any viewer that this show wouldn’t have that same magic it once did back in the day, that doubt should be as dead as Admiral Trench. This Arc feels like it’s just an amazing taste of things to come, especially since we know that some very heavy material is coming involving Darth Maul and Ahsoka Tano. I’m about as excited to see where this series goes as I am to see this debut season of Picard wrap up. The sky is the limit for this show’s final season.

If you want a score for this first arc of the show, I’ll go ahead and give it a nice solid eight out of ten score, but will reserve official verdicts until this show ends. But I really don’t want it to end.

I’m gonna miss you glorious bastards…

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (On the Wings of Keeradaks)

I’m so happy my optimism in this series is paying off.

Three episodes in, and the future is looking bright in this final season of The Clone Wars. In a nutshell, I’m beginning to care about each character more and more, and the stories being told are getting better, or at least this one is. I’m still unsure if this final season will be the usual mini-arcs that the show is known for, or if it will be one big long arc. We shall see in the coming weeks. Regardless, everything going on right now? Thumbs up.

When last we left our heroes…

This episode picks up pretty much immediately where the previous episode left off, where we see Tech of the Bad Batch working fast in order to properly disconnect Echo from the Techno Union machine he’s hooked into. If you remember, Echo has been cybernetically changed, and it made me make a lot of dumb Star Trek jokes in the previous review. I’ll try to lay off those here. We pick up immediately right after this happens, we’re in some fun Clone War action and the “Advanced” Battle Droids of the Techno Union are making Imperial Stormtroopers look like crack shots (I always have to chuckle when the battle droids are standing like ten feet away from our heroes, guns blazing, and STILL missing.

When they are successful in disconnecting Echo, Echo gives the absolute best line of the entire episode. “Rex… I got a big headache.” Dammit, this line should give me tears, because despite not having seen this character since Season 3, it very much brings back the old jabber the clones would often give through the entire show, and it fits so damn well here. 10/10 on that line.

What also gets a 10/10 is that watching this, I began to realize just how much I was starting to like all these characters, particularly the Bad Batch. Admittedly when they first came onscreen, I wasn’t entirely sure I would care that much for them, but they are genuinely becoming pretty god characters, and I do hope they aren’t just dropped after this arc. There was actually a moment here in the episode where I had to ask myself if Wrecker was about to die, and I was actually hoping he wouldn’t die. That only tells me that I am really starting to like these characters.

Wrecker die? I’m Anakin Skywalker, and I won’t let Wrecker die!

Our heroes escape the Techno Union, and Wat Tambor survives an explosion that likely should have killed him (but he can’t die until Episode III so count your blessings I guess), and we get a sequence that genuinely made me uncomfortable to watch. There’s just something about a sequence in which our heroes balance on a pipe, miles in the sky, that makes me shiver. Maybe I have a slight fear of heights when watching these. I don’t know what it is, but I was once again convinced someone was going to die.

All I want is a railing!

This might ironically lead me to one of my bigger criticisms of the episode… they probably should have had someone die. I don’t know, this might feel pretty trivial in the long run, but I mean, it really feels like this sequence was needlessly tense. I feel that the scene would have been far stronger if they showed us a little mortality here. Show us that the Bad Batch aren’t exactly immortal. The fact that everyone gets out of this jam just kinda took me out of it. Just barely. I don’t know if we will see the Bad Batch killed off in this final season or if they’re just a one and done team, but I feel that if maybe Wrecker, or Crosshair was lost here, it would have made me care even more for the surviving members of the Bad Batch.

Admittedly though, their leap of faith in their escape is pretty cool.

The heroes go to the village of the Natives who appeared in the last episode, and they get angry that Anakin and the clones have broken their word and that the war is coming to their village, and this is where my only other major criticism comes into play. Rex makes a bit of a speech about how yes, they unfortunately did bring the war to their village, but makes the excuse of what they did to Echo as a reason they had to? I don’t know, the speech he gives just doesn’t really fit the situation if you ask me. But I admit I do have to hold off on more Borg jokes with this speech with all the “turning him into a machine” and “robbed him of humanity” statements he makes.

Rex successfully convinces the natives to join them in their fight against the Separatists, and admittedly, this battle is pretty cool. It’s very much a well executed David and Goliath battle as we see the natives and this group of clones fight of this droid attack force, complete with two big walkers, some badassery from the Bad Batch, and some absolutely charming banter from Echo to Anakin which very much brings me back to the good old days of the show.

Chakotay, pew pew… (Hooray for in-jokes)

The way the episode ends isn’t anything special, after the awesome battle, the natives thank the Jedi, and say the Jedi will always be welcome, and then we get some more dialogue from Rex and Echo, and how Echo tells him that it’ll be just like old times. And Echo seems skeptical as he repeats the phrase in a very unsure manner.

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN!!!!!!

Time for some Clone Wars Prediction Smackdown!

Is Echo the equivalent of a sleeper agent? Is he perhaps still connected to the Techno Union in some way? Tambor said that the clones ruined years of research when they abducted him and destroyed his work, yes, but it’s not unlike this show to pull a potential fast one on us. I can’t help but feel that Echo might know more than we’re being led to believe here. That or he’s going to go through a whole lot of PTSD here, and won’t exactly get the happy ending we hope he gets.

Well I mean, we definitely don’t see him in Star Wars: Rebels, so yeah, I’m not expecting good old Echo to last much longer, sadly. Here’s hoping his final story arc here really delivers. I have no doubts it will.

Three episodes in, and this show is flying high in my eyes! Again, I’m not sure if this ends this particular arc, or if there’s more to come, or if the entire season will be one long arc, but regardless of what happens here, I absolutely have no doubt that this will be well worth the journey. While this episode isn’t perfect, it’s definitely the strongest of the three out right now, and I wanna see more of it right the fuck now. It hasn’t blown me away yet, but I have no doubts it will. Keep it coming, Clone Wars!

Looking forward to next episode!

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (A Distant Echo)

Previously on The Clone Wars, Clone trooper, Rex and Cody teamed up with a band of clones that operated a bit outside the book, known as the Bad Batch; a group of defective clones with desirable mutations. Realizing the droid army was more easily adapting to Clone Army tactics and better repelling them, Rex and the Bad Batch were dispatched to try and figure out how the Droid Army is doing this, and Rex makes a disturbing discovery when he detects a signal coming from off world that gives off the indication that his friend Echo, a clone thought to be dead, may actually be alive.

“And now, the continuation…”

We’re here to kick ass and drink blue milk!

“A Distant Echo” picks up directly where we left off last week pretty much, which is the formula of The Clone Wars. Much like the final season of Star Trek: Enterprise, Clone Wars tells its story in the form of several mini-arcs, but unlike Enterprise, Clone Wars knows what it is, and knows how to execute narratives and story in this manner that keeps my attention. Sideburn Enterprise. Last week, I called the episode, “The Bad Batch” kinda safe and nothing extraordinary, which wasn’t a bad thing, it was a good episode to get back into the feel of the series, and it did its job well. And in week two, I’m happy to say that the series has not disappointed in keeping my attention.

These are my DC-17 blaster pistols! There are many like them, but these ones are mine!

The episode starts off with Anakin getting briefed by Rex and Hunter (the commanding clone of the Bad Batch) the signal they found, and that it’s originating on Skako Minor. Rex also voices his suspicions that Echo is alive, which sets up the conflict of the story that Rex may be letting his personal feelings on the matter hinder his judgement. More on this later. Anakin sneaks off with Rex to make a secret phone call to Padmé, and I really need to talk about this.

If you recall last week’s review of the new Clone Wars episode, you’ll remember how I said I did not care for the prequel Star Wars movies. I care even less for how they handle their characters, and of those characters, the relationship between Anakin and Padmé was among the worst handled of the trilogy. Long story short, I don’t care about their relationship, they didn’t feel like a genuine couple a lot of the time, and I thought it ended hilariously bad. And if you can’t tell where this is going, The Clone Wars is the exact opposite. I cannot tell you how many times the relationship between Anakin and Padmé sucked me in when watching this show. Not only is it better handled, it fees genuine. Anakin and Padmé walk a very fine line between expressing their feelings for one another, and secrecy, and it can result in some genuinely shocking moments throughout the series.

This moment in particular leads to a near end of their relationship… spoiler alert.

It’s no different here as we see Anakin sneak off to give Padmé a secret call. It not only results in a touching moment between them, but again, it feels much more natural here than in the prequels. In Revenge of the Sith, they do little more than stand around and shower each other with bland romantic dialogue. I’m not saying they don’t have their good moments (the reaction Anakin gives to Padmé being pregnant is a true highlight), but The show just does a better job of making me care about these two as a romantic couple. They feel far more natural, far more passionate, and far more aware of the risks they have in their relationship. Despite this, they do a not so good job of hiding it, as seen here, Obi-wan kinda callls Anakin out for his sneaky call, and honestly, this might be one of the best aspects too since… without spoiling too much about this show, Obi-wan can actually kinda relate to what Anakin might be going through.

Is it just me, or is Padmé showing signs of her pregnancy here? These little details make this show so damn good.

So Anakin and Rex go to Skako Minor to investigate this signal, and we almost immediately run into action with the natives of the planet who kidnap Anakin, and take him to their village, where they have a “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” moment. One thing I do appreciate about Star Wars is that they do get pretty creative with the language barriers, and it’s no different here. In fact, it isn’t until Tech (the clone tech geek of the Bad Batch) comes in and manages to translate everything that we realize that the natives don’t want the war brought to their world. It makes for a nice bit of world building that honestly isn’t used enough in Star Wars.

Google Translate, Clone Wars edition.

Admittedly, while I like this episode, this is kinda where it gets a little off for me, mainly because after we leave the village, and Anakin and the troops are back on the trail of the signal, we get a bit more of the conflict amongst the clones that was present in the previous episode. While it can make sense in the light that Rex is letting his personal feelings hinder his decision-making a bit in regards to the possibility that Echo is alive, I can’t help but feel like it just retreads ground that was’ even already seen as far as character conflict is concerned. I just wasn’t as interested in it this time around.

But I was happy to see Wat Tambor of the Separatists brought back. I do have a soft spot for the Techno Union Leader, his mechanical way of talking, and what he brings to the Confederacy in terms of battle droids. And seeing him set a fun trap for our heroes does lead to the first bit of Jedi action in this final season of the show.

Seriously, this guy is just one of the more likable baddies.

As they fight through the droids and continue to trace the signal, we get to a lift which Rex uses to go up to a room. Wat Tambor taunts him, we see him open a capsule and low and behold, who is there but the crippled, cybernetic body of Echo? And my goodness, I didn’t think it was possible but they totally brought the Borg into Star Wars.

I am Locutus, of Borg. Resistance is futile…

I’ll lay off the Star Trek jokes now, I promise.

The reveal of Echo isn’t anything spectacular or anything, and the episode ends shortly afterward, but this hook definitely has my attention. Echo oaks like he’s been through hell and back, and while I admittedly don’t think this episode would have interested me back in the day had I seen the unfinished footage of it beforehand, it just goes to show how great this show can execute a concept. When it comes to Star Wars, I tend to say if a character dies, they should stay dead. Boba Fett, Palpatine, Darth Vader, they need to stay dead now. Especially Palpatine. STAY DEAD. (That goes for clones too.) The Clone Wars is like the antithesis of this belief, because the characters they tend to bring back result in some of the best stories of the show. Darth Maul was a character I never saw coming back, but I’m very happy they did bring him back, because the relationship between he and Obi-wan gets REALLY damn good. No spoilers there. I have no doubt either that they will do something interesting with Echo in the next episode as well. We shall see this weekend!

“A Distant Echo” is a definite step up from last week. While again, probably not going to crack any personal favorite episode lists, it definitely feels like the crew of this show have not skipped a beat as they finally give some proper closure to this show that has been waited on for the longest time. The relationships are proving to be as immersive as ever, the voice acting once again is on point, and the action is just as fun as it should be. We didn’t really get any awesome dark side Anakin moments (yet), but two weeks into this twelve episode season, I am really liking what is being brought forward. I don’t know if next episode will be the conclusion of this particular arc, or if there’s another episode yet to come, but I’m curious where this will go, and what will become of both Rex and Echo here.

Two for two, boys! Lock and load!

FOX: Saturday’s Late Night ‘Animation Domination High-Def’ To Premiere In July

FOX’s answer to Adult Swim? Yep… and they are intentionally going with that name so they can use the acronym “ADHD.”  Stay classy, FOX.  Now, we’re not suggesting that this doesn’t look like fun but… c’mon, now.  ADHD… really?

Via Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013

“ANIMATION DOMINATION HIGH-DEF,”

FOX’S NEW ALTERNATIVE ANIMATED PROGRAMMING BLOCK,

TO PREMIERE SATURDAY, JULY 27

 

New Series Include AXE COP and HIGH SCHOOL USA!

 

Vincent Kartheiser, Mandy Moore, Ken Marino, Peter Serafinowicz, Megan Mullally,

Patton Oswalt and Britta Phillips Among Featured Voice Talent

ANIMATION DOMINATION HIGH-DEF, FOX’s new alternative animated programming block, will premiere on air Saturday, July 27 (11:00 PM-12:30 AM ET/PT) on FOX. As part of the network’s overall Animation Domination High-Def initiative, the late-night block will serve as the on-air component of FOX’s digital, multi-platform animation network.

In its debut season, ANIMATION DOMINATION HIGH-DEF will feature a number of new quarter-hour animated series, including AXE COP, based on the hit graphic novel; HIGH SCHOOL USA!, created by Dino Stamatopoulos (“Community”); and the UNTITLED LUCAS BROTHERS PROJECT, from identical twin comedians Kenny and Keith Lucas (aka The Lucas Brothers). The network initially has ordered six quarter hours each of AXE COP, HIGH SCHOOL USA! and the UNTITLED LUCAS BROTHERS PROJECT. Additional scheduling and programming information to be announced.

Series descriptions are as follows: 

AXE COP

From the unfettered imagination of a five-year-old boy comes AXE COP, an action-comedy about the most badass superhero who ever existed! Operating on only two minutes of sleep a night and fueled by a diet consisting solely of birthday cake, AXE COP and his loyal partner, FLUTE COP, unleash their unique brand of vigilante justice on bad guys everywhere – including stopping Hitler from creating an army of evil zombie robots and helping BAT WARTHOG MAN find the villain who stole all his best friends! AXE COP is the unique comic phenomenon created and written by Malachai Nicolle (age five) and his brother, Ethan Nicolle (age 30). What started as a small passion project between two brothers quickly evolved into an online sensation and was later published as a graphic novel by Dark Horse Books. AXE COP was developed for television by Nick Weidenfeld and Judah Miller (AMERICAN DAD). Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser (“Drawn Together”) serve as executive producers/showrunners. The series ensemble cast includes Megan Mullally (“Children’s Hospital,” “Will & Grace”), Patton Oswalt (“Young Adult,” “Ratatouille”), Ken Marino (“Children’s Hospital,” “Party Down”), Peter Serafinowicz (“Shaun of the Dead”) and weekly guest stars such as Giancarlo Esposito (“Revolution”); rapper Tyler, The Creator; Jonathan Banks (“Breaking Bad”); Rob Huebel (“Despicable Me”); and Dan Harmon (“Community”). 

HIGH SCHOOL USA!

Join the super-positive, millennial students of HIGH SCHOOL USA!, as they confront all the unique challenges of growing up in a modern world. Led by the painfully naïve and always upbeat MARSH MERRIWETHER, there is nothing these kids can’t put a positive spin on, from cyber-bullying to Adderall-addiction to embarrassing sexting incidents. HIGH SCHOOL USA! is created and written by Dino Stamatopoulos (“Community,” “Mr. Show,” “TV Funhouse” and “Moral Orel”), and features an all-star cast including Vincent Kartheiser (“Mad Men”) and Mandy Moore (“Tangled”). 

UNTITLED LUCAS BROTHERS PROJECT

The stand-up comedy of New York-based identical twins Kenny and Keith Lucas (The Lucas Brothers) gets animated. After their uncle dies and leaves them his old van, the twins start a moving company called Va¢ation Boy$. Their customers are often apprehensive to hire such a scrawny duo, but the brothers like to remind them that that’s why God made two of them. A day that begins simply by moving a bed down the street may lead to the threat of city-wide catastrophe, resolved only with the help of a once-famous ’90s wrestler. No matter what happens around them, KENNY and KEITH always remain totally, bizarrely unfazed.

Raised in North Carolina, the Lucas brothers perform comedy all over the country and were selected as members of the New Faces of Comedy at the 2012 Montreal Just For Laughs comedy festival.

Building on its more than 20 years of animation domination, Fox Broadcasting Company created the Animation Domination High-Def unit to oversee the development and production of alternative animated series, shorts and user-adapted material for its brand-new late-prime animated programming block and new digital multi-platform network. The digital channel will extend across platforms such as Web, mobile apps, game consoles and Video on Demand. It will feature 50 original short-form pieces per year, online windows of FOX animated shows, and user-adapted content. It will create a unique opportunity for fans and up-and-coming talent to engage with professional FOX-curated content, which the network could possibly platform into full-fledged series. FOX will also use its expertise and cross-promotional power to nurture these new assets through this pipeline.

Led by former Adult Swim executive Nick Weidenfeld, the unit develops and produces original animated shorts and series, building a clear bridge for talent to develop and grow ideas in the digital arena and organically move them into the mainstream. The network has also tapped producer Hend Baghdady (“Community,” “The Andy Milonakis Show,” “Crank Yankers”) as the executive in charge of production for the new division.  Under their leadership, the unit will develop and produce an ambitious slate of original animated shorts and series to run both on-air and online.  

-FOX-

The Redeye Rogue Report: New ‘Star Wars’ Animated Series, ‘Star Wars: Detours’

(Originally posted at Red Eye Rogue)

Redeye Rogue

Well it appears that the people that brought you Robot Chicken are about to serve up something called Star Wars: Detours.

The Emperor looks absolutely unhinged.

More Fall 2011 Cast Shakeups – FOX: Saffron Burrows Leaving Bones Spinoff, The Finder… Damon Wayans, Jr. Leaving New Girl

Before their pilot episodes will even air this Fall, two lead cast members from two of FOX’s new series are leaving their respective shows.  Saffron Burrows, who played Ike on the Bones back-door pilot for the new series The Finder is exiting as producers are re-imagining the character.  In related news, Damon Wayans, Jr.’s role on the Zooey Deschanel comedy, New Girl will also have to be recast as Wayans’ other show, ABC’s Happy Endings, was renewed for a second season.

Check out the FOX 2011- 2012 schedule, here, and check out the our Preview – Reviews for all of FOX’s new shows, here, along with all the new trailers.

FOX: The Flintstones (Animated) To Be Rebooted By Seth MacFarlane For 2013


Coming in 2013... because this was necessary.

Via Press Release:

FLINTSTONES! MEET “THE FLINTSTONES” ON FOX

Modern Stone-Age Family Returns to Television in

New Animated Series from Seth MacFarlane,

20th Century Fox Television and Warner Bros. Television

Yabba dabba doo! FOX has picked up THE FLINTSTONES, a 21st century version of the classic animated comedy from executive producer Seth MacFarlane. In a cross-studio collaboration, THE FLINTSTONES will be produced jointly by 20th Century Fox Television and Warner Bros. Television. Warner Bros. is home to THE FLINTSTONES via its ownership of the Hanna-Barbera collection of animated titles. Dan Palladino (“Gilmore Girls”) and Kara Vallow (Family Guy) will also serve as executive producers. THE FLINTSTONES will begin production in fall 2011 and will be set in stone on the FOX schedule in 2013.

“The very first cartoon character I drew at age two was Fred Flintstone,” said MacFarlane. “So it’s appropriate that events have come full circle, allowing me to produce the newest incarnation of this great franchise. Plus, I think America is finally ready for an animated sitcom about a fat, stupid guy with a wife who’s too good for him.”

“The Flintstones are among the funniest and most beloved characters in television history, and we can’t wait to introduce them to a whole new generation on FOX,” said Kevin Reilly, President of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company. “FOX has long been home to iconic families like the Simpsons and the Griffins, so I have no doubt that the Flintstones and the Rubbles are going to fit right in on our air.”

The (pre)historic return of THE FLINTSTONES will feature MacFarlane’s modern-day take on the lives of the Flintstones and the Rubbles, two hard-working middle-class families living with contemporary conveniences in the dinosaur-era town of Bedrock. The series centers on hard-headed patriarch FRED FLINTSTONE and best friend and sidekick BARNEY RUBBLE. Fred’s Stone-Age clan includes wife WILMA, daughter PEBBLES and pet dinosaur DINO, while Barney’s brood consists of wife BETTY and son BAMM-BAMM.

MacFarlane’s lineup of animated series continues to dominate Sunday nights. Everyone’s favorite families from Quahog, Langley Falls and Stoolbend will be back for more laughs as Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show were recently renewed for a 10th, seventh and fourth seasons, respectively.

THE FLINTSTONES will be co-produced by 20th Century Fox Television and Warner Bros. Television. MacFarlane and Palladino serve as executive producers of the series and co-writers on the pilot. Vallow will serve as executive producer on the series.  Voice actors for the series will be announced. THE FLINTSTONES and all related characters and elements are trademarks of © Hanna-Barbera.


ALERT! FOX Announces 2011 – 2012 Schedule

Here it is, folks, direct from the FOX Upfront Advertising Event, FOX’s 2011 – 2012 Primetime Programming Schedule (scroll down for complete schedule).  Please note, if you don’t see your favorite show from this season, recent cancellations have been covered here, however as we reported, the status of Breaking In is reported to be still up in the air.

If you have any questions about other shows, post them below.

Some programming notes:

  • Some solid scripted shows, however the new comedies seem weak, despite the star power behind them.
  • The elephant in the room that is Terra Nova: The Big Gamble.  Depending on how well or poorly this does could change the direction of the entire schedule. Read why we believe TN is such a big gamble, here and here.  Believe us, we’re rooting for it, we’re just nervous about it and we think FOX is too.  We’re still trying to figure out if they plan to run this for an entire 22 episode run because it’s nowhere on the mid-season schedule.  So it’s either going for 13 episodes (which we believe would be the smarter move) or it will have an abbreviated 19 episode season non-stop through December.
  • New J.J. Abrams, series Alcatraz to premiere mid-season.  Perhaps the smartest move of the schedule to avoid hiatuses and loss of interest by audiences of what no doubt will be a Lost-type serial.
  • After 24 seasons, America’s Most Wanted is no longer a regular series.  It will now be shown as four specials throughout the year.
  • The Cleveland Show has swapped places with American Dad, going to the less desirable 7:30 – 8:30 PM spot on Sunday and putting AD back into its longstanding 9:30 – 10:00 PM for the first half of the season.  New series Allen Gregory will be in the 8:30 – 9:30 PM slot, a slot that was filled by The Cleveland Show for the first half of the season and Bob’s Burgers for the second half.  This gives credence to our suggestion that we made when the announcement for AD‘s renewal was made in which the press release claimed that an order had been placed for 22 episodes, however it contradicted itself by stating that the show was renewed through 2013.  We suggested that one of the only ways this would make sense would be if AD was going to get half-season treatment, although we did find that scenario the most unlikely.  This could change, however depending on the success/failure of AG and ND.
  • We’re not expecting a whole lot from AG and ND and we don’t think FOX is either.  We explain why here.  We expect these shows to both be canceled pretty quickly as the two had seven and six episodes orders, respectively.  We hear that FOX has at least two more animated shows in the hopper waiting to go, though, just in case.
  • Finally, keep in mind that an NFL lockout is looming.  This could send ripples through the entire FOX schedule.

So without further adieu:

FOX FALL 2011 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
(All Times ET/PT)

MONDAY

8:00-9:00 PM    Terra Nova (NEW!)
9:00-10:00 PM   House

TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM    Glee
9:00-9:30 PM    The New Girl (NEW!)
9:30-10:00 PM   Raising Hope

WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:30 PM    The X-Factor  (NEW!)
9:30-10:00 PM   I Hate My Teenage Daughter (NEW!)

THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM    The X-Factor (Results Show) (NEW!)
9:00-10:00 PM   Bones

FRIDAY
8:00-9:00 PM    Kitchen Nightmares
9:00-10:00 PM   Fringe

SATURDAY
8:00-8:30 PM    COPS 
8:30-9:00 PM    COPS
9:00-10:00 PM   (Encores) / America’s Most Wanted (Specials)

SUNDAY
7:00-7:30 PM    The OT (NFL post-game show)
7:30-8:00 PM    The Cleveland Show
8:00-8:30 PM    The Simpsons
8:30-9:00 PM    Allen Gregory (NEW!)
9:00-9:30 PM    Family Guy
9:30-10:00 PM   American Dad

FOX MIDSEASON 2012 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
(All Times ET/PT)

MONDAY
8:00-9:00 PM    House
9:00-10:00 PM   Alcatraz (NEW!)

TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM    Glee
9:00-9:30 PM    The New Girl (NEW!)
9:30-10:00 PM   Raising Hope

WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:30 PM    American Idol
9:30-10:00 PM   I Hate My Teenage Daughter (NEW!)

THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM    American Idol  (Results Show)
9:00-10:00 PM   The Finder (NEW!)  / Bones (Spring)

FRIDAY
8:00-9:00 PM    Kitchen Nightmares
9:00-10:00 PM   Fringe

SATURDAY
8:00-8:30 PM    COPS
8:30-9:00 PM    COPS
9:00-10:00 PM   (Encores) / America’s Most Wanted (Specials)

SUNDAY
7:00-7:30 PM    The OT (NFL post-game)
7:30-8:00 PM    The Cleveland Show
8:00-8:30 PM    The Simpsons
8:30-9:00 PM    Napoleon Dynamite (NEW!)
9:00-9:30 PM    Family Guy
9:30-10:00 PM   American Dad

TV SCOOP! FOX Renews Family Guy & The Cleveland Show Through 2013

We just got word that FOX has renewed both Family Guy and The Cleveland Show for a tenth and fourth season, respectively, entrenching them long-term into FOX’s Sunday Animation Domination block.  FOX had already renewed both of these MacFarlane shows for a ninth and third season, respectively,  along with American Dad, for a seventh season (as well as Bob’s Burgers) for Fall 2011.  Recently, we speculated  that FOX has ZERO faith in the success of their two new mid-season 2011 -2012 animated shows, Napoleon Dynamite and Allen Gregory and this move by the network only goes to reinforce that opinion.  We don’t blame them because we don’t either.

Press release forthcoming.