Author: Robert Greenberger

REVIEW: Insurgent

InsurgentThere’s a lot of action and running and fighting and things blowing up in Insurgent, the second installment of the films based on Veronica Roth’s Divergent book series. It has an attractive, well-pedigreed cast. It looks slick with top-notch CGI effects. It should be a major crowd pleaser.

Instead, it’s heartless and heartless, emphasizing but the characters and their emotions. The film opened this spring and did well enough and the Combo Pack (Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital copy) is out now from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The film itself earned $295.2 million worldwide, just enough to greenlight the by now mandatory two-part finale, Allegiant, coming March 18 an, 2016 and March 24, 2017.

The first film introduced us to yet another impossible to believe dystopia where society has been enclosed in a walled city of Chicago and people are born into one of several classes. Those who defy categorization are called “divergents” and are hunted, ostracized or both. Our protagonist, Tris (Shailene Woodley), of course is one of those but she’s even more special: she’s 100% divergent, making a sought after gem. And much of the film focuses on the hunt to obtain her so she can obtain an object conveniently unearthed from her family home. Much as Katniss Everdeen struggles against being a symbol in The Hunger Games books and movies, Tris is a reluctant hero, forced by circumstances, manipulated by both the spectre of her dead mother (Ashley Judd) and the cool Jeanine Mathews (Kate Winslet).

She’s not alone, accompanied by Four (Theo James), who is forced to admit his love for her when both endure truth serum sessions, watched by the impassive Daniel Dae Kim.

Back to complicate matters here and there are her brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and troublemaker Peter Hayes (Miles Teller).

Once Tris sacrifices her freedom to stop Jeanine from killing people, she confronts her worst nightmares which turn out to be herself and the sequences are visually interesting but also too reminiscent of The Matrix to be fresh enough to sustain watching. The lack of humanity given the cast makes the film flat and boring when it should be engrossing. There’s a reason this series of books was made into a film series: they sold a ton and the reason they sold a ton is because Roth made them passionate and interesting figures.

Woodley gives the best performance given the range of emotions she goes through but Teller makes his character feel the most alive of the ensemble. Watts, Kate Winslet, and Janet McTeer lend veteran talent but are given little chance to do more than emote.

Sadly, the screenplay feels cobbled and compromised which explains the trio of credited authors, Brian Duffield, Mark Bomback, and Akiva Goldsman, who should know better. There are no surprises here, and too many climactic moments occur with predictable results, so you wonder what happened? Maybe it’s the absence of director Neil Burger, who was replaced by Robert Schwentke who did a far superior job with Red. Unfortunately, he’ll be back for Allegiant, but there’s also a chance for redemption.

The digital transfer is excellent so everything is sharp, colorful, and fun to watch at home. It is paired with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack although on my soundbar it decoded as a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track but was just fine.

For a lackluster and disappointing film, it comes chock full of extras beginning with an Audio Commentary from Producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher, who offer little in the way of fresh insights. Next is Insurgent Unlocked: The Ultimate Behind-the-Scenes Access (1:56:32) letting you watch separately or as a picture in picture option. Every aspect of the production is covered, including Building a Bigger World, Creating the Big Screen Experience, Exploring the Factionless, From Factionless to Candor, A New Landscape of Weapons and Stunts, Composers and Simulators, and A Fight to the Finish. Additionally, you get From Divergent to Insurgent (5:09) as cast and crew talk about how the two connect; The Others: Cast and Characters (3:40); Anatomy of a Scene: The Train Fight (4:01); The Peter Hayes Story (2:40); and Divergent: Adapting Insurgent to the Screen (4:00).

If that’s not enough there’s the Marketing Gallery that features the HBO First Look and all five theatrical trailers. Then there are animated character portraits: Shailene Woodley (00:19); Theo James (00:19); Kate Winslet (00:19); Octavia Spencer (00:19); and, Naomi Watts (1080i; 00:17).

REVIEW: Sunny Side Up

Sunny Side Up
By Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
216 pages, Scholastic Graphix, $12.99

Sunny Side UpUnlike so many of the offerings from the Scholastic Graphix line, this one requires paying attention to the structure as we jump around both time and place. The semiautobiographical memoir brings the timelines together as Sunny Lewin experiences her brother’s self-destructive nature and is packed off to Florida. There, her grumpy grandfather doesn’t seem to know what to do with her, at first. As a result, she goes wandering around the 55+ community and finally encounters Buzz.

Her developing friendship with Buzz not only gives her someone to hang out with, but also introduces her to comic books. It’s interesting to note which 1970s titles she gravitates to, starting with David Michelinie’s run on Swamp Thing before discovering Batman, Spider-Man, the Hulk and others. In time, they begin earning money finding missing cats and later missing objects and people as they glimpse what senior life holds for them.

The sunshine, swimming, comics, and odd neighbors are far more preferable than being home where her brother Teddy has chosen to enmesh himself with drugs, spiraling downward until he literally hits bottom. Also, she gets to crack through her grandfather’s tough façade and connects him better to his own community.

Interestingly, the Holm siblings explore their past with a certain level of fondness, keeping the storytelling simple without hiding the complex issues at play. They’ve previously partnered on two series: Babymouse and Squish. Here, Lark Pien provides a cheerful color palette in keeping with the title and location.

A satisfying read, the book addresses several strong issues without moralizing or dwelling on only the sad portions. Sunny’s maturity in the face of adverse conditions makes for a strong role model for the readers.

REVIEW: Silicon Valley the Complete Second Season

Silicon Valley 11 (203) - -no copy- smilingIt’s a challenge to begin watching a show during its second season. After all, the characters have been introduced, the dynamics established and the backstory in place. Season twos tend to show evolution as the cast and crew all find their rhythm but don’t always remember to reintroduce themselves in case newcomers have wandered by.

I had been hesitant to try Silicon Valley, the Mike Judge-created series on HBO, largely because we sat through the wildly uneven first season of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire and felt that was our technology quota of television. So, when HBO invited me to review Silicon Valley the Complete Second Season, I decided to take the plunge. First, there was watching it video Digital HD, not disc, and there was exploring something new.

The show is funny and engaging, as much an office workplace dramedy as it is a commentary on our growing connection virtually, and less so as human beings. These ten episodes were filled with characters, mostly well realized, all well-acted.

Silicon Valley S2This band of misfits run Pied Piper, a music app, and the season opened with back and forth over ownership issues, an all-too-common problem with intellectual property these days. Apparently PP was created while members of the team worked for Hooli and their CEO Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) wants it, meaning its valuable, a plus to the team. Of course litigation tends to scare people off and sure enough this complicates locating investors willing to weather the storm.

As a result, they accept the offer from the eccentric Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos), whose actions take the PP team into uncomfortable territory. What could have been an interesting breakout character felt like a retread of the dude who took over ACN on HBO’s sister program The Newsroom. Opposing him and acting as the moral voice at times was Richard (Thomas Middleditch), who seems to grow stronger as a leader throughout the season. Of course, there sometimes comes a price to be paid which happens in the season finale. The app gets a real world test so we build up to that moment and deal with the aftermath along with the percolating court case.

There’s some nice chemistry with Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) as they prank one another that allows the series to veer into other tech realms such as Kickstarter.  Then there’s Jared who is the team optimistic and perhaps its quirkiest member.

For a 30 minute series, it has a large sprawling cast, made larger by many new additions notably Laurie (Suzanne Cryer), the new CEO at Raviga Capital. The arrival of so many new faces, including Carla (Alice Wetterlund) at the Hacker Hostel, also meant others got diminished screen time and overall, it’s hard to provide more than a handful of characters any depth.

The storylines drew tighter by the ninth episode and the tenth and “Two Days of the Condor,” the final episode proved the most satisfying with moving storylines along and making a marked social commentary with a human life at stake. Things came to a climax and reset the status quo as things settle down but Raviga, the new investors in Pied Piper want Richard out and he’s fired. From what I saw this season, it was totally justified.

Overall, the series is funny and often wildly so, but it also presents a skewed view of software engineers (I know, I’m married to one) as well as corporate shenanigans. Judge, who did give us the brilliant Office Space, seems to be stretching credulity now and then in the interests of being quirky. Props, though to the real tech, tech theory, and law that was infused throughout the season, grounding it when it could otherwise floated away as a lightweight series.

The show is definitely entertaining and easy to binge so here’s a chance to catch up. The Digital HD release is as pristine as the cable broadcast and streams cleanly with good picture and audio. Will I be around for season three? Probably, there’s enough here to like and the 30 minute slices are good so it doesn’t wear out its welcome.

 

REVIEW: Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts

REVIEW: Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts

ThanBatman Unlimited-Animal Instinctskfully, today you are offered a larger variety of Batman flavors so in theory you should find one interpretation that appeals to you. Prefer mindless action, there’s the Arkham video games. Like driven dramas, there’s the Batman monthly from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Prefer your Batman with a bit of a character and a soul, there’re dozens of graphic novels to pick from.

The same holds true for the direct-to-video films from Warner Animation. For the slightly older audience there are the darker films, the most recent was Batman versus Robin and next is the long-awaited adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns. But Warner has wisely come up with a more all-ages version as seen in the recently released Batman: Unlimited – Animal Instincts. The new film runs the same length as the others, 77 minutes, and does not skimp on colorful action.

Admittedly, this story is actually more about Batman (Roger Craig Smith) and his team plus their friends so you get your pick of champions to cheer for. In addition to the caped crusader, you have Nightwing (Will Friedle), Red Robin (Yuri Lowenthal), Flash (Charlie Schlatter), and Green Arrow (Chris Diamantopolous). On the side of evil, you can hiss at Killer Croc (John DiMaggio), Penguin (Dana Snyder), Cheetah (Laura Bailey), Man-Bat (Phil LaMarr), or (Silverback (Keith Szarabajka).

Including the Emerald Archer and Scarlet Speedster are definitely there as product placement for their respective CW series, but it’s nice to see them anyway. Collectively, it’s also a tie-in to the Mattel-branded toy line and this box set does come with a Man-Bat so there’s that.

As for the story, the Penguin has recruited the animalistic rogues Silverback, Cheetah, and Man-Bat.  Why? Well, that’s the mystery that keeps the audience guessing until late, so the plotting is well done. Each hero and villain is individually introduced through action, each laying out clues to follow.

The heroes are clear cut, as are the villains, which is appropriate for the younger viewers this is primarily aimed at. There are some shadings to the motivations and you can’t help feel sorry for some of the characters who are victims of circumstance.

I’m also impressed that the script from Heath Corson, whose earlier efforts left me bothered, does a nice job of differentiating the characters, notably the byplay between straight-laced Barry Allen and the more fun-loving Dick Grayson. Here, they’re treated as being roughly the same age as opposed to the source material that matches Allen with Bruce Wayne.

There’s plenty of action to enjoy from speed to trick arrows to fisticuffs. Credit to director Butch Lukic for giving the film a distinct look and for keeping the action flowing without feeling as gratuitous as some of the other offerings.

If you like this, next month comes Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem with the promise of 22 animated shorts for later this ye

REVIEW: X-Men: Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut

X-Men DOFUP Rogue CutWhat interesting timing that after an Avengers spring, the summer suddenly is about the mutants. The current Entertainment Weekly previous next summer’s Apocalypse film and we also get to revisit the previous installment.

Last year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past has been pretty much accepted as the best of the five X-Men movies from 20th Century-Fox. After all, Bryan Singer did a great job on the first two and used the fourth to wipe the bad taste of Brett Ratner’s effort from memory. It blended the casts from the past and present, while still introducing new characters and making us want more. It also faithfully paid homage to the source story from Chris Claremont and John Byrne while remaining true to the cinematic continuity. Not an easy trick to pull off.

One glaring problem was the diminished role for Anna Paquin’s Rogue and we learned in the pre-release hoopla that her storyline was excised for a number of reasons. Then, in the wake of the film’s success, it was revealed a Rogue cut would be offered and now, it has finally arrived.

There are seventeen minutes of new material in the new edition, out now from 20th Century Home Entertainment. The Blu-ray comes with a digital HD code and boasts an additional 90 minutes of extra features.

X-Men: Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut is interesting to watch but you come away realizing the original edit was probably for the best. Not that there’s much wrong with the Rogue scenes, but it does lengthen the film and bogs down some of the pacing. We get to see her here and there early on but she really doesn’t take her proper place with the team until the final act.

20th nicely includes both versions of the film so you may decide for yourself. You will admire some of the extra character bits for Bishop and Blink in the extended versions of their scenes and that’s welcome. And as we saw in the deleted scenes from the first version’s DVD release, there’s more Mystique stuff that better sets up her change of heart towards the end.

As for the Rogue material, last year I complained Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde had little to do and here she has less and Rogue taps her power to give her a break. Unfortunately, Kitty doesn’t gain extra screen time in the new cut.

There is fresh commentary from Singer which addresses the value of different cuts of the film and his preference for the variety. He’s joined by editor John Ottman, who also offers his thoughts behind the changes between cuts. Additionally, the extended edition has labeled the various chapters as alternate or new scenes so you can find whatever you most want to see. Although, seeing the film all the way through will remind you of how powerful the overall story is.

The AVC encoded 1080p transfer is lovely to watch, with good rich colors and a fine sound mix to match.

Disc one has both films and the original cut’s commentary from Singer and Simon Kinberg is still here. Disc two offers us Mutant vs. Machine (52:41), collecting the featurettes that goes into detail on the making of the film. There’s also X-Men: Unguarded (30:11) as cast and crew have a particularly casual discussion about the property. There are galleries of interesting visual information as well.

If you have the first home video release is the second one needed? It all depends on why you bought the first and how much you want to see the differences between the two. If you have the one, you might not need this one but it’s certainly well worth a look.

REVIEW: The Newsroom The Complete Third Season

the-newsroom-season-3Aaron Sorkin is an exceptionally talent writer who brings a playwright’s sensibilities to television which means his characters talk. A lot. But unlike so many prime time series, his characters actually have something to say. It’s a shame more people don’t want to hear whatever it is being discussed because Sorkin series tend not to last very long.

There were two seasons of Sports Night, four Sorkin-produced episodes of The West Wing and a single uneven season of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. For his self-proclaimed final act in television, Sorkin gave us three ever-shortened seasons of The Newsroom. This last ran on HBO and other than using a handful of words, could have easily aired on the major networks. After all, Sorkin didn’t pander with nudity or excessive violence.

The series’ conceit was that we were watching the fall and rise of network anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), the face and voice of Atlantic Cable Network, all all-news cable channel. As we watch him and the production staff find their mojo, Sorkin chose to set the show in the recent past and see how these high-minded journalists would have covered current events. The first season was the run-up to the 2012 election while season two covered election night and how a story blew up in their faces.

da167b80-2d66-0132-4006-0ebc4eccb42fSeason three, a mere six episodes in length, comes out in a two-disc DVD set on Tuesday from HBO Home Entertainment. The focus this time falls on the Boston Marathon bombing along with the network’s sale and struggles to maintain its integrity while boosting ratings for revenue. With just six hours to play with, Sorkin never let up and moved things along at a fast clip, minimizing the number of sub-plots which meant the supporting cast had less to do. In the penultimate episode, though, there is a strong sub-plot about a college rape story that caused some criticism from the pundits but the series gets credit for even exploring the subject, when few other shows have touched on it.

Daniels, Emily Mortimer, and Sam Waterston get to carry the load this time around and do so with energy and pathos. Everyone else, from Olivia Munn to Alison Pill, have their moment or two and it’s nice to see them in action. If anyone is given less to do it’s Dev Patel, whose Neal has to disappear to avoid testifying where he got leaked information that points to the Eric Snowden case.

newsroom-final-seasonEven though it’s set in the past, it’s the very recent past so the issues of the day remain largely the same and there’s a wonderful thread about the impact social networking has had on news coverage, especially without proper vetting of sources and details. Sorkin, at his weakest, still tackles topics few other series go near and gets people on the show and then in the audience discussing the issue. He is clearly liberal in his biases but allows his characters to explore all sides of an issue. Too few prime time shows on any distribution channel truly take on the topics of the day and give their characters strong opinions in favor or escapism or “ripped from the headlines” gloss. As a result, as The Newsroom fades from memory so does the impetus for further intelligent debate thanks to characters we’re invested in.

Sorkin has come to end his series with an episode entitled “What Kind of Day has it Been” and here he brings things full circle as the death of beloved producer Charlie Skinner has everyone reflecting at the events that brought everyone together in the very first episode, when McAvoy was at his lowest ebb and needed help. While McAvoy and crew have come a long way, the series rarely let its viewers down and remained a sharp commentary on politics, media ethics, and human relationships.

The standard definition transfers are fine and makes for good watching. The sextet of episodes is accompanied by the Sorkin commentary that aired after each show. Additionally, there’s some interesting commentary from Sorkin and executive producer Alan Poul for the finale.

HBO gets kudos for airing the series at all and rewatching this reminds me how much Sorkin’s weekly presence will be missed.

REVIEW: Cleopatra in Space: The Thief and the Sword

Cleopatra in Space: The Thief and the Sword
By Mike Maihack
191 pages, Scholastic Graphix, $12.99

The Thief and the SwordWhen Scholastic brought Mike Maihack’s webcomic Cleopatra in Space to print, it seemed like a perfect fit for their line. Unfortunately, the protagonist had as much to do with the real life Cleopatra as does the Queen of England. Target Practice was an Egyptian-flavored space opera with an overly familiar feel to it, much like the overhyped Amulet series from Graphix.

We now have the second volume and it does little fresh or different. In fact, it does less than volume one, slowing things down. Considering the annual release pattern, young readers deserve stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. Here, we start in the middle and reach page 191 without too much happening, leaving us with a cliffhanger that will frustrate the audience and make parents feel as if they wasted their money.

Maihack clearly studied comics when the decompressed storytelling of the late 1990s and 2000s were all the rage. At the time, graphic novel collections were increasingly valuable to the bottom line and six issue collections were the sweet spot. That meant pacing went way down and things dragged out. Here, Maihack spends lots of time watching people run, jump, fight, and so on without much of consequence happening. Similarly, he never deepens the characters so they remain flat, two-dimensional types rather than complex beings.

Maihack clearly knows how to tell a story and his character designs are good. His color palette is interesting and he brings some nice emotion to his story but that’s as far as it goes and for the price, more is expected. Heck, I’ll say, it’s demanded.

Gotham Season One Comes to Home Video in September

1000543313BRDLEFO_9392df82BURBANK, CA (June 4, 2015) – With an average of 9.6 million viewers per week, Gotham has captured and held the attention of audiences since the premiere episode which delivered FOX’s highest-rated fall drama debut in 14 years with Adults 18–49. Before the series returns to FOX for a second season this fall, fans can now enjoy all 22 episodes – plus nearly 2 hours of extras including new featurettes, unaired scenes and a gag reel – when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases Gotham: The Complete First Season on September 8, 2015. This season’s #2 broadcast drama among men 18-34 will be available on Blu-rayTM and DVD for $60.10/$59.98 SRP.

Before there was Batman, there was Gotham City. Everyone knows the name of Commissioner Gordon, but what of his rise from rookie detective to Police Commissioner? What did it take to navigate the layers of corruption in Gotham City, the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains? Gotham tells the story of the world’s most iconic DC Comics Super-Villains and vigilantes from the very beginning, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. From executive producer Bruno Heller (The Mentalist, Rome), this crime drama follows GCPD Detective James Gordon’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city, while also chronicling the genesis of one of the most popular DC Comics Super Heroes of our time. Although the crime drama follows Gordon’s turbulent and singular career, it also focuses on his unlikely friendship with the young Bruce Wayne – with his mentorship a crucial element in developing the mythology of Gotham City.

“We are thrilled to release Gotham: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray and DVD for fans to explore the unique origin story of Gotham and its characters” said Rosemary Markson, WBHEG Senior Vice President, Television Marketing. “With this release, fans will be able to get acquainted with the early chapters of their favorite Super Hero prior to the premiere of season two.”

Gotham: The Complete First Season features a star-studded cast including Ben McKenzie (Southland, The O.C.) as Jim Gordon, Donal Logue (Vikings, Sons of Anarchy) as Detective Harvey Bullock, David Mazouz (Touch) as the young Bruce Wayne, Sean Pertwee (Elementary, Event Horizon) as Alfred Pennyworth, Robin Lord Taylor (The Walking Dead, Another Earth) as Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin and Jada Pinkett Smith (HawthoRNe, The Matrix Revolutions) as Fish Mooney, Also starring Zabryna Guevara, Erin Richards, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, Victoria Cartagena, Andrew Stewart-Jones and John Doman, the drama series is produced by Warner Bros. Television. Based on the characters from DC Comics, Gotham is executive produced by Bruno Heller, Danny Cannon (Nikita, CSI series) and John Stephens (Gossip Girl).

SPECIAL FEATURES 

  • Gotham Invented: Building Our Gotham
  • Gotham Invented: Paving the Way for the Caped Crusader
  • Gotham Invented: Fractured Villains of Gotham
  • Designing the Fiction
  • The Game of Cobblepot
  • Gag Reel
  • Unaired Scenes
  • DC Comics Night at Comic-Con 2014 Presenting Gotham, The Flash, Constantine and Arrow
  • GOTHAM: The Legend Reborn
  • Character Profiles:
    • Detective Harvey Bullock
    • Detective James Gordon
    • Oswald Cobblepot
    • Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth
    • Fish Mooney
    • Leslie Thompkins
    • Killer Character

22 ONE-HOUR EPISODES 

  1. Pilot: Extended Version
  2. Selina Kyle
  3. The Balloonman
  4. Arkham
  5. Viper
  6. Spirit of the Goat
  7. Penguin’s Umbrella
  8. The Mask
  9. Harvey Dent
  10. Lovecraft
  11. Rogues’ Gallery
  12. What the Little Bird Told Him
  13. Welcome Back, Jim Gordon
  14. The Fearsome Dr. Crane
  15. The Scarecrow
  16. The Blind Fortune Teller
  17. Red Hood
  18. Everyone Has A Cobblepot
  19. Beasts of Prey
  20. Under the Knife
  21. The Anvil or the Hammer
  22. All Happy Families Are Alike

BASICS 
Street Date: September 8, 2015
Presented in 16×9 Widescreen Format
Running Time: Feature: 967 min /Enhanced Content: Approx. 151 min.

DVD Standard Features
Price: $59.98 SRP
6 DVD-9s
Language: English (5.1)
Subtitles: ESDH, Latin Spanish, French
Catalog # 1000543206
UPC # 883929458745

Blu-ray Features
Price: $60.10 SRP
4-Disc Elite (4 BD-50s)
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 – English, Spanish 2.0
Subtitles: ESDH, Latin Spanish, French
Catalog # 1000543313
UPC # 883929458943

REVIEW: The Baby-Sitter’s Club: Kristy’s Great Idea

The Baby-Sitter’s Club: Kristy’s Great Idea
By Raina Telgemeier
180 page, Scholastic Graphix, $10.99

Kristys Great IdeaWith the well-deserved success of Raina Telgemeier’s original graphic novels, it makes perfect sense for Scholastic to re-release her earlier efforts, adaptations of Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club novels. Wisely, they freshened the 2006 material with added color from Braden Lamb and, like a fresh coat of paint, it feels brand new.

Martin launched her bestselling line of Young Adult novels in 1986, totaling 131 standard novels, an additional 15 Super Specials, plus assorted Mysteries, Super Mysteries, Special Edition Readers’ Requests and so on. The last original fiction was actually a prequel to this story, released in 2010.

In 2006, Scholastic hired Telgemeier to adapt the novels in the hopes of a new secondary line of works for readers. After four, sales didn’t meet expectations and they ended. But now they are back with volume one out now and the second due in July.

Telgemeier does a nice job visualizing the four main characters – Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey. Her story moves breezily along, never dwelling too long on a scene or a baby-sitting experience. Some things get telegraphed such as newcomer Stacey’s secret but in keeping with Martin’s deft handling of teen issues, it plays out well.

It’s interesting to see how Telgemeier has grown as an artist in the last decade. Her style is easily recognizable but feels simpler here. Lamb’s color is a lovely layer to the storytelling and complements the artwork nicely.

The novels and this quartet of titles is clearly for a specific female audience but put it in their hands, and they will love it, coming back for more.

Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem Coming this August

1000518597BRDLEFOOPT_78d653BURBANK, CA (June 3, 2015) — The Dark Knight isn’t seeking tricks or treats when Gotham City’s most lethal villains take to the streets on Halloween night in the newest DC Comics animated film – Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem.  Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment, the original movie arrives from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Blu-rayTM and DVD on August 18, 2015 for a $19.98 SRP, and via Digital HD on August 4.

It’s Halloween night in Gotham City and Scarecrow, Clayface, Silver Banshee and Solomon Grundy have hit the streets to stir up trouble! Batman is on the trail of the city’s spookiest villains while, further complicating matters, the clown prince of crime himself, The Joker, is ruling over this mysterious crew of misfit criminals. It’s up to the Dark Knight to stop this gruesome gang before they unleash “digital laughter,” a computer virus that’s part of a diabolical plan to jeopardize all of Gotham City’s vital technology. Batman, Green Arrow, Cyborg, Nightwing and Red Robin must combine forces to battle these baddies and save the city.

The stellar voice cast features Roger Craig Smith (Batman: Arkham Origins) as Batman, Troy Baker (Batman: Assault on Arkham) as Joker, Khary Payton (Teen Titans Go!) as Cyborg, Chris Diamantopoulos (Episodes, Silicon Valley) as Green Arrow, Will Friedle (Batman Beyond, Boy Meets World) as Nightwing, Yuri Lowenthal (Ben 10) as Red Robin, Kari Wuhrer (Sharknado 2, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths) as Silver Banshee, Fred Tatasciore (LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham) as Solomon Grundy, Brian T. Delaney (Mad, Halo 3 & 4) as Scarecrow, Dave B. Mitchell (World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor) as Clayface, Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2) as Gogo Shoto, and Alastair Duncan (Mass Effect games, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) reprising his The Batman TV series role as Alfred.

Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem is produced and directed by Butch Lukic (Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts) from a script written by Heath Corson (Batman: Assault on Arkham). Executive Producer is Sam Register. Benjamin Melniker and Michael Uslan are Executive Producers.

Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem follows Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts as the second release in a series of films rooted in Mattel’s popular Batman Unlimited merchandise line. The films feature characters, vehicles, designs and color schemes brought to life within this enthralling toy collection.

“We are thrilled to release Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem on Blu-rayTM Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD. Batman fans of all ages can enjoy the newest DC Comics animated adventure,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Vice President, Family & Animation Marketing. “This original movie will provide family-friendly action and electrifying plot twists, and keep viewers on their toes until the very end.”

Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem DVD contains the following special features:

  • GOTHAM 2030: Designing a Future World – The artistic team responsible for bringing this future Gotham City to life will take you on an exploration of their creative process, from their earliest concept sketches through the final eye-popping landscapes. Welcome to a Gotham City of tomorrow!
  • Ten shorts from the popular DC Nation collection, including “SHAZAM! Courage,” “SHAZAM! Wisdom,” “SHAZAM! Stamina,” “Green Arrow: Onomotopoeia-Bot,” “Green Arrow: Brick,” “Green Arrow: Cupid,” “Deadman: Deadman Catch,” “Animal Man vs. Captain Cold,” “Animal Man vs. Black Manta” and “Riddler: Riddle Me This!”

The Basics
Street Date: August 18, 2015
Order Due Date: July 14, 2015
Languages: English
Audio: Dolby Stereo
Color
Run Time: Approx. 72 minutes
Rating: NR