Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 30 – Perchance to Dream – Trapped in a Dream

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The premise of “Perchance to Dream,” is that Batman wakes up in a world in which his parents are alive, he’s marrying Selina Kyle and someone else is Batman. It is all his best dreams made real so of course he suspects something is up and investigates to find the truth.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Premise – Being trapped in a dream that is everything you want…this has been used before by Bruce Timm and DC Animated Universe, but it is especially powerful this time. It allows us to explore Batman’s psyche and to see that even the best dream is still only a dream and therefore a prison from the real.

Batman/Bruce Wayne – Are fantastic in this episode. We see that he is unable to accept good happening because of both his commitment to true truth and the reality of his trauma as a child. Batman has become so much a part of his identity that being forced to be Bruce Wayne is too much and allows him to see that it is an illusion.

The Mad Hatter – Hat’s off the Mad Hatter. This is one of the best schemes of any villain and his worlds at the end are awesome, “You, of all people, have the gall to ask me that? You ruined my life! I was willing to give you whatever life you wanted, just to keep you out of mine!” It is twisted that he was going to force Batman live a lie…and he is not a good guy, but for a villain that is the nicest punishment ever. I got to respect him as rogue after this episode.

The Dream World – Is very well done, it really didn’t need books to be empty or jumbled…in the end Batman was willing to die to come back to reality and that should have been enough. It is still well done. Selina Kyle not being Catwoman, Bruce’s parents, Alfred…all these illusions are close enough to the real that they are great temptations to stay.

Dream Mad Hatter – A great antagonist and like Harvey from “Farscape” in John Chriton’s head. He is limited in that he can’t let the Original Hatter know what is up and who Batman really is…but he uses all of Batman’s desires to craft the amazing illusion and fights for Batman to stay till the end.

This was a perfect “Batman: The Animated Series” episode. Batman stories are always great when they are exploring Batman and his rogues psyche since in that there is so much discovery and drama. You see the humanity behind the identities they’ve adopted and what drives them to do what they do.

The perfect episode 10 / 10.

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Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 29 – Eternal Youth – The Dangers of Vanity

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“Eternal Youth,” is the return of Poison Ivy the scene. The premise is she is posing as a scientist hosting a spa to keep people young but targeting Industrialists to go to it. Once there she gives them a substance that they become addicted too that allows her to turn them into trees.

Here is the assessment:

The Pros: Poison Ivy – Is amazing! She manages to capture a whole bunch of industrialists and even manages to capture Alfred and his partner? Maggie. She is a good threat to Batman throughout the episode and it gives a good glimpse into her psyche…she see’s herself as a Batman who kills.

Alfred and Maggie – Are adorable and a fun couple to watch.

Alfred – Is great in this and we get to see more than just his dry humor and wit. It is nice to see him care about someone outside of Batman in regards to love. He has some great puns thrown in too.

The premise – Poison Ivy’s plan has one that has nothing to do with her sex appeal and it is awesome! By appearing to others vanity she uses it to destroy them. It is a great premise and executed well in this episode.

Okay: The music – Once more it isn’t great like last episode.

Maggie – She seems to be there for mostly comedic purposes and to develop Alfred, she herself doesn’t have much characterization.

This was a good episode that I definitely recommend. Poison Ivy is once more seen as a worthy rogue.

My score for it is 8.7 / 10.

 

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 28 – Dreams in Darkness – Batman in Arkham Asylum

Dreams in Darkness

“Dreams in Darkness,” is another amazing Scarecrow Episode. The premise of this one is Batman is on a mission and he gets hit with some of Scarecrow’s toxin, he is then sent to Arkham Asylum to receive treatment and the story unfolds from there.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Pros: Scarecrow – The fact that his toxin works so well on Batman that the police capture him and put him in Arkham says loads about how smart he is this episode. The trap he set at the spa for Batman went just as expected…and Arkham doesn’t realize he is missing until much further into the episode.

Batman – This episode is a great exploration of his mind and how he does in fact fear his rogues…especially the Joker who kept popping up when the hallucinations began. You see that he may be on the side of good, but he is also is nuts and that there is reason they chose to put him in Arkham for this episode. What would it take for a man to dress up like a bat and beat up criminals? Also there is one point where a bat is seen like an angel to Batman as light shines through it’s wings when he is back safe in the batcave.

Arkham Asylum – You get to see how inept they are but that the intentions are good. The doctor genuinely wants to help people even if at times he is misguided.

The music – Captures the trapped feeling of Arkham really well, and the acid nightmares of Batman’s poisoned psyche.

This is an episode that I highly recommend. Probably the best Scarecrow episode and a great Batman episode too. Where before Scarecrow was used to explore Batman’s guilt, this one explores his powerlessness in regards to the rogues he always must face and what they represent to him.

I give this episode a 10 / 10.

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 27 – Mad as a Hatter – The Dangerous Stalker (The Mad Hatter)

Mad Hatter

“The Mad Hatter,” is a great episode in regards to introducing a creepy new villain and the importance of what love really is (which isn’t stalking). The premise is a scientist (Jarvis) creates a mind control device and begins to use it on his enemies and on Gotham to impress his assistant Alice he wants to own. From there the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment:

The Pros: The Mad Hatter – Is a really creepy villain. He mind controls those who disagree with him and sabotages the engagement between Alice and her fiance, and in the end even goes so far as to mind control her. All the while claiming love…it is sad that there are people like this in the world and he represents the worst of them so well. A worthy adversary and terrible human being.

The Message – The story reveals the importance of consent and respect for others (especially when romance is involved). These are all things the Mad Hatter misses because he believes he’s entitled to Alice and is in love with the idea of her (She is his Alice to his Mad Hatter (the name he takes for himself). In the end rather than friendship having the potential to become love naturally he sabotages himself and relationships leading into his end in Arkham.

Batman – Is great once again at discovering what is going on and protecting the people who are mind controlled by the Mad Hatter as they are used to fight him. His resourcefulness is great in this episode.

The music – Is fantastic and whimsical. They took the “Alice in Wonderland” theme and ran with it to create the great score for this episode.

Okay: Alice – She is basically a blank slate. She has a fiance and is a supportive friend but besides that she doesn’t get much characterization sadly.

Cons: The Fiance – We know nothing about him and he is important to this episode. I wish we could have had him better contrasted with The Mad Hatter.

This is a good episode and even has a theme I hope kids back in the day got. You don’t stalk people and you aren’t entitled to people. Relationships arise out of consent, if not you aren’t really loving a person…just an idea, like the Mad Hatter.

I give this episode a 9 / 10.

 

 

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 26 – Appointment in Crime Alley – Those Who are Sacrificed for Greed

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“Appointment in Crime Alley,” is a great episode that shows the lives of the poor of Gotham and the cruelty of Roland Daggett. The premise is Daggett is going to destroy Crime Alley to set up a mall and develop the area by destroying it since he lost the right to zone it due to the City Council Vote. To do this he hires an arsonist and the story unfolds from there.

Here is the assessment:

The Pros: The people of Gotham – This is a great episode for seeing the poor of Gotham being active in their own lives. Whether it is protesting Daggett or reporting to Batman where his goons are. They take charge of their own lives even as everything is looking hopeless.

Roland Daggett – Is an amazing baddie. He once again shows himself to be untouchable and turns on the arsonist he hires when the plot fails so he doesn’t get captured by the police, leaving Batman feeling angry and hopeless and once again given hope by the Doctor who lived in the area who comforted him after his parents death.

Batman – This is a great Batman episode. You see how much he cares for the people and wants to help. You also see him powerless against Daggett which you rarely see in these episodes. Batman doesn’t always win. Was an important message for Batman in this episode.

The Message – Is powerful. We need to provide for and take care of the forgotten and the poor. Money is not more important than people. Daggett mentioned the corporate uncaring greed to Batman as the one who stood for the people (and the people stood for the people) against this. It is a very well done message and does it without telling us, it does it by showing us.

Okay: Music isn’t super memorable again.

An amazing episode that I highly recommend. It is still relevant today too as the poor and homeless are looked over in order for those who already have much to have more. There are some great emotional moments and this episode answers the “So What?” on why it was made brilliantly.

My score for this episode is 9.5 / 10.

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 25 – The Clock King – When Time Drives you Mad

Clock-King

“The Clock King,” is our introduction to the character by the same name. He is most reminiscent of the Riddler but his schtick is times and clocks rather than Riddles. This episode is his origin story and also explores the Mayor more. The episode begins with Temple introduced as an efficiency expert who has an important case to keep…the mayor says he should take a break…everything goes wrong on the break and he goes mad as his case fails, after it flashes forward seven years and the consequences of the actions from that day.

Here is the assessment:

The Pros: The Clock King – I like the Riddler and The Clock King is no Riddler but he has class and smarts that make him a worthy adversary. He even escapes Batman and the collapsing Clocktower he is so good. He also started out as an anal retentive normal guy. He just snaps cause his day goes so wrong (a theme of Batman’s rogues).

The Mayor – We once again see how he is possibly corrupt. We learn that he might have set up the break in order for Temple to fail. Of course this could all be The Clock King’s delusion but the mayor may be kind but he is also manipulative and all about power as established in past episodes. We see more of that in this one.

Batman – We see his brains as he manages to save the mayor and get himself out of an elaborate trap where the room is poisoned and oxygen is out of the room leaving Batman minutes to live. We see the brains of Batman this episode…as well as him discovering who The Clock King is.

Okay: The story – It wasn’t the strongest, but wasn’t bad either. Average I’d say. Batman investigates, minor villain origin story explored, etc.

The music – Not super memorable this episode and forgettable.

This episode does a great job of providing Batman with a new adversary who actually manages not to get caught (like Clayface). He is fun to watch too and actually challenges Batman intellectually…which doesn’t happen often enough with his rogues.

Good episode. I give it an 8 / 10.

 

Sleeping Beauty (1959): A Fairy Tale Elevated by the Villain

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My reason for choosing to review “Sleeping Beauty,” is for preparation in regards to reviewing “Maleficent,” later and I wanted to see Disney’s take once more on the Fairy Tale since “Maleficent” was also created by them (and I haven’t watched it for years). The film was originally created in 1959 and is most famous for the fact that each scene is painted and that it was Disney’s first Fairy Tale adapted to animation until “The Little Mermaid,” years later.

The premise of “Sleeping Beauty,” is King Stefan hosts a party for the birth of his daughter….the whole kingdom shows up except for Maleficent (the evil fairy who wasn’t invited) and out of spite arrives and curses the child that on her sixteenth birthday she will get pricked by the spindle of spinning wheel and die (a bit of an overcomplicated curse). The Blue Fairy Merryweather who comes up with an equally overly complicated counter-curse that she won’t die…she’ll just be asleep until she’s kissed by her true love. From there the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment:

Pros: The animation – Is beautiful. Each scene is hand painted and it shows…I kind of miss movies being done like this…later ones where beautiful too, but this type of art form is nearly lost. I would love to find more stories done this way.

Merryweather the Blue Fairy – She has sas and is the only smart one of the three faeries. Flora and Fauna are not very smart at all. They don’t know simple thing like tsp means teaspoon or how to use their magic in an undercover competent fashion. She was the only of the three I cared about…the other two felt like unaware comedic relief verses Merryweather who could sass against Maleficent even (and was the only active one – voice and beauty (Flora and Fauna’s gift are passive traits except voice), Merryweather’s gift actually makes the story possible…even if it isn’t a very good plan (true love, really?) She also isn’t good looking but is a major minor character who actively fights against Maleficent.

The Rescue – Seeing the Three Good Faeries be active is awesome when they infiltrate Maleficent’s Forbidden Mountain.

The Battle – The fight with Maleficent between the 3 Good Faeries and Phillip is fantastic. That dragon scene! The fact that Maleficent is so awesome is that her power is active and powerful, the last battle shows this too from her green bolts of fire and turning into a dragon.

Maleficent’s Crow – The crow is awesome! It is the only one of her minions to actually find Aurora and besides being her eyes and ears and alarm system actively takes part in the final battle and causes Merryweather to use dark magic (turning it to stone). Seriously, this minion rocks.

Maleficent – She’s evil and she knows it. Every scene she is in is gold. She doesn’t sing and everything she does actually has a higher purpose. By killing Aurora she leaves the Kingdom in ruin making her the top dog. By releasing Phillip as an old man unable to have heirs he pretty much ends the relationship in regards to the Kingdom’s line. Also, she can change into a dragon, cast powerful spells and has a fortress called “The Forbidden Mountain.” She is brilliant, powerful and haunting. I can see why Disney uses her as one of the biggest bads for most of their games and stories where all their villains meet. Can’t wait to see what the new movie does with her, considering she is the best thing about this film.

Okay: The music – When there isn’t any singing it is quite beautiful. The soundtrack is epic but the singing brings it down, most of the songs are so incredibly simple and shallow that I’m not all surprised this film failed at the box office.

Prince Phillip – He isn’t fleshed all that much even though he is active. He falls in love with the princess who he thinks is a peasant girl and is ready to risk his kingdom for her. He is active but only in the most superficial version of love ways. Besides Aurora’s voice and looks he has no reason to care about her…and likewise. His voice and looks…oh the cons of early Disney Fairy Tales…

The story – There is the recipe here for a great story. Aurora fighting against destiny as Phillip is and them united in rebellion against fate and maybe even choosing something different. There is the seed of a good story here, so I won’t make it a con, but the story is in no way good. Not enough active characters…the heroes are either stupid or passive if they aren’t evil (with the exception of Merryweather).

Cons: Aurora – She is completely passive and has no control over her destiny. She isn’t trusted with her destiny (would she have pricked her finger if she knew?), she is there to fall in love with Phillip…weak. She isn’t allowed to fight the villain who harmed her when she was a child and she never goes against the 3 Good Faeries, she just accepts their idiocy. Phillip wasn’t the smartest of heroes but he at least acted.

Flora an Fauna – The Pink and Green fairy are only good in that they are funny and not aware of it. They set up so many of the problems and propose some pretty horrible solutions (so Aurora doesn’t have the curse happen…turn her into a flower). Not to mention the fight that Flora starts with Merryweather that causes Maleficent to find Aurora in the first place. Seriously…who trusted these people? Merryweather should have left them and worked more closely with the kingdom to actually fight Maleficent like the fairies end up doing when Phillip finally fights Maleficent.

The Romance – “Do I know you?” -Aurora

“Of course, we’ve met before?” -Phillip

“Where?” -Aurora

“Once upon a dream.” -Phillip

Haha, No. Seriously Phillip, you come off as a creeper. Don’t, just don’t do that crap. The Romance is fairy tale romance in the worst way possible. Love at first sight is a difficult trope to pull off and it is not pulled off in this film. They are teenagers and it comes off as more of hormones than anything else. So glad Disney gets romance right later in films further into the future.

This film has a lot of problems and would be an average Disney film (with Disney’s common misogyny and passivity problems they had early on in regards to their heroes who were women), thankfully they had a good baddie in this or else I’d be giving it a 4 or 5. Maleficent makes this film. Everyone anything does is a direct reaction to the things she sets in motion. She is larger than life and far more interesting than any of the heroes (even Merryweather). She has an agenda that she never says but can seen…she shows you, she doesn’t tell you it. She is destruction, the Mistress of all Evil…she is awesome and besides the animation and Merryweather and her crow…the only reason to see this film.

I’m giving this film a 6.5 / 10. An addition of 1.5 entirely because of Maleficent, without her this film is forgettable.

 

Malificent Sleeping Beauty