Tag Archives: DVD

Review: Stan Lee’s Lightspeed

I recently decided to try out Netflix’s instant streaming service by watching Stan Lee’s Lightspeed, the made-for-TV movie about a government agent turned super-speedster. It’s been on my queue for a while, and I figured I’d free up the slot for something else.

Ultimately, I was really impressed — with the service. The image and sound were very clear, even with the window playing fullscreen. I’m annoyed that it’s Windows– and Internet Explorer–only. Aside from that, the only thing I really missed was fine control over fast-forward and rewind.

The movie itself? Cheesy. And what’s worse, dull. I took a break halfway through and wasn’t sure I really cared about coming back to finish it. Heatstroke was better — and I mean that.

The structure’s fine. It starts with the villain, a man with snake-like skin called Python, and a firefight between the villain’s gang, the people in a building, and a SWAT-team–like group called the Ghost Squad. Then it flashes back to the villain’s origin, then jumps forward to the aftermath of the battle and weaves the hero’s origin into the tale of Python’s master scheme. Like many classic stories, the hero’s and villain’s origins are linked.

The effects are decent, if no more exciting than those that appeared on The Flash a decade and a half earlier. Though they do spend more time in daylight. The suit is goofy, but they at least hang a lampshade on its goofiness: he picks it up at a sporting goods store to help protect himself from windburn.

But the movie just isn’t compelling at all.

I started taking notes during the film, but they quickly turned into snarky commentary. So rather than writing a full review, I’m attaching them below the cut. There could be spoilers, so beware.

Continue reading

Flash in Pop Culture: Big Bang, Skating and Sports

A quick round-up of recent pop culture references to the Flash:

First, reader Will mentioned an episode of the comedy, The Big Bang Theory, in four characters showed up to a costume party, each dressed as the Flash. The episode, “The Middle Earth Paradigm,” aired last fall, but it’s still topical: The first season will be released on DVD next week (region 1).

Second, Esteban Pedreros of Comic Verso writes about the Chilean TV show, Estrellas en el hielo (Stars on Ice) — essentially Dancing with the Stars, with ice skating. One of the contestants is sprinter Sebastián_Keitel, nicknamed “The fastest white man on Earth.” He and his partner appeared on the show wearing Flash costumes (look for Capítulo 3). I had trouble getting the video to play (must be the intercontinental bandwidth), but I was able to check out the photo galleries.

Finally, Sports Illustrated compares Usain Bolt with the Flash, describing the real-world Olympic gold medalist sprinter from Jamaica and the fictional super-hero as “two guys with claims at being the world’s fastest.”

Sorry, no costumes on this one!

Update: One more: Collected Comics Library linked to the Detroit Free Press’ profiles of promising football players as super-heroes, including Oak Park’s running back Edwin Baker as the Flash. According to the profile, “When you have been timed at 10.5 in the 100 meters, what other superhero is there? Maybe Quicksilver?” Other players have been profiled as Hulk and Thor.

Review: DC Super-Heroes: The Filmation Adventures

In 1967, the Filmation-produced Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure featured short animated segments with additional DC characters. The Superman and Aquaman segments have previously been released on DVD, and the rest are now available as the two-disc set, DC Super-Heroes: The Filmation Adventures.

These discs feature three seven-minute episodes each focusing on:

  • The Atom
  • The Flash
  • Green Lantern
  • Hawkman
  • The Justice League of America (made up of the above heroes, plus Superman)
  • Teen Titans (Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, and Aqualad)

I’ve never seen these before (I grew up on Super Friends), and it’s hard to not compare them to the Bruce Timm-designed Justice League cartoons, which benefit from 30-odd years of advances in animation techniques (and technology) and storytelling — not to mention a decent budget. The stories are simplistic, the villains’ motivations even more so; lots of footage is re-used, and the heroes are flat. But the action tends to be wild and crazy, in keeping with the comics of the time.

In fact, a lot of the aspects that stand out when viewing these today are true to the source material. This was deep into the Silver Age at DC, and wild and crazy sci-fi adventure hadn’t yet given way to the more street-level storytelling of the Bronze Age. Continue reading

Animated Flash Releases on DVD and iTunes

The Flash (or Kid Flash) appears in two DVD sets being released this week, as well as one upcoming release and a whole set of digital downloads.

Teen Titans

The review by Comics Worth Reading reminds me that Teen Titans season 5 is out on DVD this week. This features the episode, “Lightspeed,” in which the animated version of Kid Flash goes up against the Hive Five and makes a special connection with Jinx. While it’s never been made clear just how Teen Titans relates to Justice League Unlimited, they did cast Michael Rosenbaum, the voice of the Flash on that series, as Kid Flash.

I’ve got this one on pre-order. At the time it aired, I wasn’t watching the show, but I made a point to watch “Lightspeed” and enjoyed it. I’ve since seen the other 4 seasons on DVD, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the fifth.

The Batman & Filmation

Comic Bloc poster BESTBUY points out that The Batman season 5 (2007-2008) is also out this week, featuring several episodes with the Justice League as well as “A Mirror Darkly,” in which Batman and Robin team up with the Flash against Mirror Master.

He also mentions the upcoming DVD release of DC Superheroes: The Filmation Adventures, set for August 12. These are cartoons from 1967, featuring DC’s classic cast of heroes, the Flash included. I’ve never seen them myself — my experience with DC-based animation starts with the early 1980s and Super-Friends. From what I understand, these originally aired as part of The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Update: Check out my review of these cartoons.

Super Friends Go Digital on iTunes

Finally, Blog@Newsarama reports that iTunes now has a number of classic DC cartoons, including Super Friends and Season 2 of Superman: The Animated Series. That’s the season that includes “Speed Demons,” the episode that introduced the DCAU Flash in 1997.

Thinking about it, it was probably Super Friends that first introduced me to DC’s heroes. I certainly was watching the show long before I started reading comics. I remember very little of the cartoons now, except for the general tone, and a few moments like Superman trying to pronounce Mxytzptlk, or me getting confused as to why Cyborg’s voice was so high in the commercial (by the time he was introduced, I’d started reading The New Teen Titans) — it turned out they’d run one of Wonder Woman’s lines over a picture of his face. And while I remembered the additional super-heroes like Apache Chief and Samurai, I’d completely forgotten the standard Hanna Barbera additions like Wendy and Marvin, or the Wonder Twins and Gleek, until I started reading commentary about the show online a decade later. I still can’t bring to mind any of their voices, though I imagine Marvin sounding like Shaggy from Scooby Doo