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Animation

Blu-ray photo
Blu-ray

Iron Giant Signature Edition Blu-ray coming in September


A thing of beauty
Mar 29
// Matthew Razak
Last year we all had the chance to see The Iron Giant, Brad Bird's first and possibly best film, in theaters again with added footage. It was dubbed the Signature Edition and was pretty awesome, especially since many folks di...
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Toonami, Production I.G producing two more seasons of FLCL


FLCL 2: Less Fooly, More Cooly
Mar 24
// Geoff Henao
Excuse me for the brevity of this post, but man oh man. As of an hour ago (at time of publication), Toonami announced that they will be co-producing new episodes of FLCL alongside Production I.G. Together, they will prod...
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The LEGO Batcave looks LEGO awesome in The LEGO Batman Movie teaser trailer


There are no LEGO batnipples, though.
Mar 24
// Geoff Henao
The LEGO Movie was a pleasant surprise when it came out in 2014, introducing us to a whimsical universe where the Ninja Turtles peacefully co-existed alongside Batman, Shaq, and Lando Calrissian. Given the family-friendly nat...
Jungle Book photo
Jungle Book

Jungle Book character posters full of actors


Idris Elba is sexy with a tiger
Mar 21
// Matthew Razak
When you've packed your movie full of famous people but none of them are going to be seen there's only one solution: take dramatic photos of those famous people and put their animal characters with them. Clearly Disney knew t...
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Paramount drops The Little Prince, Netflix picks it back up


-insert inherent ska joke here-
Mar 18
// Geoff Henao
I've never actually read The Little Prince, but I know fans keep their memories of the 1943 French novella in the warm places of their hearts. Despite a stellar cast comprised of Jeff Bridges (The Giver), Paul Rudd (Captain A...
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Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy return for next animated Batman film, The Killing Joke


Mar 15
// Nick Valdez
DC and Warner Bros may be struggling with their big budget movies, but they've been dominating the home video and TV space for a long time. After the Bruce and Dini animation era, and after rebooting their animated properties...
Sausage Party Trailer photo
Sausage Party Trailer

First trailer for Seth Rogen's R rated animated comedy Sausage Party


Rotten food belongs in the trash
Mar 15
// Nick Valdez
We got through so many movie announcements here at Flixist that it's hard to take some seriously. When Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg mentioned they were working on an R rated food comedy, I kind of brushed it off thinking it's...

Review: The Boy and the Beast

Mar 04 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220368:42844:0[/embed] The Boy and the BeastDirector: Mamoru HosodaRelease Date: March 4th, 2016 (limited English dub release) Rating: PG-13 After the death of his mother leaves him in the care of his extended family, Ren (Eric Vale) runs away from home and ends up stranded on the streets of Shibuya. After following a hooded figure he ends up in a secret world of beasts and gods, and after witnessing a fight between two animals squabbling over lordship, he decides to stick around in the world and become a disciple of one of them, Kumatetsu (John Swasey), a red bear man. With both characters in it for their own selfish purposes (Ren, now named Kyuta, doesn't want to go home and Kumatetsu wants to prove he's capable of being a leader), the two must find someway to get along and make each other stronger. The Boy and the Beast is ostensibly a film about growing up, yet it's awesomely a film about coping with one's own selfishness. Rather than the typical monomyth, or hero's journey, the stakes always remain personal despite its grandiose setting. In telling its personal tale, the art of the film is much more subdued than in Hosoda's previous work. It's definitely not the first thing you'd expect upon hearing the premise, but its certainly surprising when the fantastical world the film takes place in feels so grounded. Colors are a bit muted (but not washed out), the film doesn't involve as much action as you'd probably expect from the premise. and despite the mystical nature of the beast world the character designs are more rooted in reality. The beastmen themselves are usually bipedal in nature and have lots of "human like" features with beast accents. Grounding the film like this goes a long way toward making the entire thing more digestible even when it goes off the rails a bit near the end of the film. Above all, the film is absolutely gorgeous. Other than some weird CG use toward the end, it's full of great stylistic choices.  I've spent the past few days just trying to pin down exactly what kind of film The Boy and the Beast is. It's like Digimon, Spirited Away, Kingdom Hearts, and a couple of My Chemical Romance songs had a baby and read it really obscure poetry every night. Suffice to say, this film isn't like anything you've seen before. I'm not even sure how this package holds together so well given all of its zanier ideas, but it just works. Going back to what I said earlier about its atypical monomyth story, Boy and the Beast is a fairy tale about adolescence. Mainly how adolescence often breeds copious bouts of anxiety (and loneliness as a result) when trying to find one's identity. "Lordship" basically equates to some kind of adult responsibility which one would use to truly ascend into well adjusted adulthood. I'd discuss a bit more about it here, but it'd spoil a bit of the movie. But I can say that when Kyuta faces that all important adult question of whether to pursue a different way of life or keep chugging along his current path because that's all he knows, it'll resonate a bit.  But the film doesn't exactly explore these themes perfectly. Subtlety isn't Beast's strong suit. While its two leads are well characterized (they're basically bickering brothers), they do skew the film's effectiveness. The characters don't really move the story forward well enough to follow through on a lot of its ideas, so we're left with a truly confusing and rapidly paced final quarter of the film. The climax just sort of happens without a well established lead in so there's not as much of a connection to it as intended. Speaking to that, pacing is all over the place. Some plots move too quickly to be developed, and other scenes are dragged out further than they need to be. Rather than feel like we're soaking in every aspect of the film and its world, sometimes it feel like I was crawling along in the goo snails leave as they move.  Even if The Boy and the Beast has some story and editing issues, it's definitely one of the more interesting animated films I've seen in some time. It's full of charm and it packs a genuinely emotional wallop. It's full of such crazy ideas that's it's hard not to completely fall in love with this film. It's one of Hosoda's best, if not his most peculiar.  The Boy and the Beast is not, uh, the least. 
Boy and Beast Review photo
Boy, this is a good movie
Mamoru Hosoda is behind some of my favorite animated films: Summer Wars, Wolf Children, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and even The Digimon Movie. His direction always brings what's best about the animation medium to the fo...

Finding Dory photo
Finding Dory

Newest Finding Dory trailer just keeps swimming


Mar 03
// Nick Valdez
I know I'm supposed to look at sequel announcements with some kind of critical eye, but I just can't do that with Pixar. I've been waiting for a Finding Nemo sequel right after the first one ended, so every bit of Finding Dor...
JLA vs. Teen Titans photo
JLA vs. Teen Titans

Check out the trailer for Justice League vs. Teen Titans, a new DCU animated film


Heroes vs. Possessed Heroes
Feb 02
// Hubert Vigilla
In general, I'm more excited about the animated DCU releases than I am their live-action blockbusters (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad). There's something about classic and newer DCU animation like Batman: T...
Justice League photo
Justice League

DC reveals new animated series, Justice League Action


With Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy in tow
Jan 30
// Nick Valdez
While DC Comics and Warner Bros struggle to figure out what they should do with their movies, they've always dominated TV. Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow are huge on the CW, Supergirl is doing well on CBS, Teen Tit...
Kubo Trailer photo
This looks so, so pretty
Laika is a studio we at Flixist gladly pay attention to. Thanks to ParaNorman and Coraline, they've earned our respect with their stop motion craft coupled with fine storytelling. Even their weaker entry, The Boxtrolls, ended...

Angry Birds Movie trailer photo
Angry Birds Movie trailer

New Angry Birds Movie trailer is pissed in more ways than one


Urine or you're out
Jan 27
// Hubert Vigilla
The first trailer for The Angry Birds Movie was not particularly good. It was rife with bad animated movie cliches and seemed pretty lazy and silly (bad-silly, not good-silly). There's a new trailer for The Angry Birds Movie ...
Groening/Netflix photo
Groening/Netflix

The Simpsons' Matt Groening developing animated series for Netflix


Jan 18
// Nick Valdez
We're pretty big fans of The Simpsons here at Flixist. We've done lists, we've made every possible reference we could, and poke around our posts long enough and you'll find at least 65% of them have Simpsons gags as the lede ...
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See Kung Fu Panda 3 early and free


Washington DC, Baltimore and Norfolk
Jan 14
// Matthew Razak
Has the shine worn off the Kung Fu Panda franchise yet? It's a long time between these sequels and I've just gotten less and less enthused about the series, but both 1 and 2 were enjoyable so maybe three will w...
Ice Age 5 photo
Ice Age 5

First "trailer" for Ice Age: Collision Course is a Scrat-tastrophe


Dec 15
// Nick Valdez
I've been a big fan of the Ice Age films ever since my family and I saw the first one four times in a row on Christmas Day. They keep making money, so they're chugging along fine. I know I've enjoyed each one even if they've ...
Adventure Time photo
Adventure Time

You should be watching the mini-series Adventure Time: Stakes


Cartoon Network raises the stakes
Nov 20
// John-Charles Holmes
Last year, Cartoon Network took home audiences by surprise with their first mini-series, Over the Garden Wall. The ten episode event delighted critics and fans with a short form original story, and this year Cartoon Network t...
The Boy and The World photo
The Boy and The World

Watch the gorgeous trailer for The Boy and The World


Like an animated children's picture book
Nov 13
// Hubert Vigilla
The Boy and the World has been on my radar for a few months after seeing still from the film. This Brazilian animated feature won great acclaim at film festivals, and is currently on the shortlist for Best Animated Feature. T...
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Enjoy the first trailer for Finding Dory


Memory lapses abound
Nov 10
// Matthew Razak
Finding Dory is finally here... in trailer form. Of all the hotly anticipated Pixar films (which is all of them) I'm most hotly anticipating this one. This first trailer gives us a little hint at the story, which finds D...
Finding Dory photo
Finding Dory

First Finding Dory poster swims in


You speak wale?
Nov 09
// Matthew Razak
I think I say this every time a Pixar sequel comes up, but it's worth saying: Toy Story 3 basically gave them carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want. When they knocked a third film out of the park when everyone ...

Review: The Peanuts Movie

Nov 06 // Nick Valdez
[embed]220109:42688:0[/embed] The Peanuts Movie Director: Steve MartinoRated: GRelease Date: November 6th, 2015 The Peanuts Movie is all about Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp), an awkward kid with a debilitating self-esteem issue thanks to years and years of being teased by the other neighborhood kids. Just as he was wishing for a blank slate, a mysterious new, red-haired girl moves into town. After falling hard for her, Charlie's got to muster up the courage and do some crazy things in order to impress her and get her to notice him. While he's doin all of that, his dog Snoopy (thanks to Bill Melendez's archived voice work) finds a typewriter and begins writing about the WWI Flying Ace and his rivalry with the infamous Red Baron.  First things first, Peanuts is absolutely stunning. I honestly have no idea how Blue Sky Studios managed to pull this off. Just like the film's content, Peanuts' visuals are both heartily nostalgic (thanks to a few 2D flourishes like little hearts and backgrounds every now and then) and groundbreaking in its effort. Characters move as smoothly as they would in 2D while avoiding CG's blurring motions thanks to an adept use of choppy movement. I guess the closest thing I can compare it to is Blue Sky's mascot Scrat (from the Ice Age series). Just as his movement is broken, yet fluid so it captures the essence of old Looney Tunes shorts, Peanuts' animation captures the essence of the TV specials. And then there are all the little details therein like Snoopy's fur, the whiskers in Charlie's lone curl of hair, and the Flying Ace sequences look pretty good in 3D. But once you get beyond how great it looks, you'll soon realize that it may be too comfortable taking yet another trip down memory lane.  Because it's both a reinvention and a reintroduction to the Peanuts series, the film is almost required to make the necessary homages to its classic jokes and settings. Every classic Peanuts joke is here, quite literally, and you'll be hard pressed to find them funny again in this new setting. These jokes have already been made available through the specials replayed through the holidays each year, so it's really a matter of whether or not you'll appreciate them again through this new filter. It's a celebration unfortunately caught in the past, and while these jokes are definitely delightful and may mean more to new audiences, it's just a shame that this new film didn't take the chance to create new memories for Charlie Brown. It's even more glaring when the newer bits work very well. There's this scene where Charlie is getting "Psychiatric Help" from Lucy that's absolutely fabulous in how dark the writing duo of Bryan and Craig Schulz take it. At one point, she shoves a mirror in his face and asks Charlie what he sees, and all he can say in response is "A loser." While it sounds wonky on paper, it's a sequence that actually utilizes our knowledge of the characters in the past rather than be hindered by it.  In fact, that's one of the boldest choices The Peanuts Movie makes. While the humor and most of the content is stuck in the past (thus making sequences featuring new pop music from Meghan Trainor feel even more out of place), Charlie Brown has actually become a mix of his many identities. The film only works because the writing, actor Noah Schnapp, and visuals have mastered this newest iteration of Charlie Brown. He's a mix of many of his past incarnations: The outright loser from Schulz's original comic strips. the awkward kid from the holiday specials, and the more positive Charlie from later direct to video specials. Yet with all of those influences, he's still got his own new layer in the film. They've added this crippling self-doubt that's so current, it clashes with the rest of the film's nostalgic tone. As the kids exist in a world with rotary phones, Charlie's pondering existential crises in love.  While the humor can be a bit clunky, and Charlie Brown is fantastic, the film does take some getting used to. Since it is so stuck in the past, it's taking on a format we haven't seen in quite a while. Broken into vignettes fueling a central arc, each major sequence in Peanuts feels like it could be a stand-alone special of its own. Each major scene has a beginning middle and end, so it doesn't really flow like a traditional film, per se. It's an odd pacing that, while not entirely bad, does detract from the enjoyment overall. Going in you've got to realize that you're taking the good with the bad, but the "bad" isn't the worst thing in the world. The Peanuts Movie's biggest flaw is that it's too celebratory and nostalgic, but that's also such a non-problem to have.  I certainly have enjoyed myself, but I also don't feel compelled to watch this over and over again like every other Peanuts thing I've revisited in the past. It's a delightful and breezy film, but I'm not sure if everyone will have the same reaction to it that I did. It's fun to walk down memory lane every once in a while, but you can't expect everyone to stick around.
Peanuts Review photo
Good grief?
Thanks to my mom, I've been following Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang for as long as I can remember. Like Charlie, I too am a sad sack who's life the universe sees fit to ruin at all cost. So when I first heard 20th Centur...

Anomalisa photo
Anomalisa

Anomalisa receives its first gorgeous trailer


Far more than a pun
Nov 02
// Matthew Razak
Anomalisa may not be on your radar yet (or if you pay attention to these things it may be), but it will be once award season starts coming up. Charlie Kaufman's stop-motion animated feature has been universally praised n...

FlixList: The Ten Worst Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror Stories

Oct 30 // Nick Valdez
Dis-Honorable Mentions: Wanted: Dead, Then Alive, Heck House, Oh the Places You'll D'Oh, Tweenlight, There's No Business Like Moe Business, Mr & Mrs. Simpson, Wiz Kids, Easy-Bake Coven, and The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms 10. Homer's Nightmare ("If I Only Had a Brain") (Treehouse of Horror II) That's right, the bad ones were actually off to an early start. In the same episode that brought us the great Lisa's Nightmare and the so-so Bart's Nightmare, we have the clunky Homer's Nightmare. In this short, Mr. Burns is attempting to create a super worker but ends up putting Homer's brain in that super worker so the end result is what you'd expect. I'll chalk this one's badness to growing pains as it was the first true sequel in the series. The show was still trying to figure out what to do with their Halloween specials and I'm sure every idea seemed viable.  9. Terror at 5 1/2 Feet (Treehouse of Horror IV)  As you'll find out later in this list, The Simspsons doesn't nail every spoof it tries. Taking on the Twilight Zone classic "Terror at 20,000 Feet," this short gives Bart a little Gremlin problem. Sure there's a good joke involving Hans Moleman, but the rest of the story is particularly rote. And in the same episode as The Devil and Homer Simpson and Bart Simpson's Dracula, it's egregious awfulness sticks out even more so. Maybe it's just an average story caught in between two particularly great ones, but that's just how the cookie crumbles. But at least it's not as bad as everything else here.  8. The Thing and I (Treehouse of Horror VII)  Okay, now we're getting into it. When Bart finds out he's got a long lost, potentially evil twin named Hugo chained up in the basement, everything falls apart both literally and figuratively. I distinctly remember realizing these weren't going to be that great anymore. The short's so haphazardly thrown together that it's obvious no one involved really cares about what's going on in it. The jokes aren't there, the premise isn't strong, and it screams laziness. Yet, it isn't the laziest story on this by far.  7. In the Na'Vi (Treehouse of Horror XXII) You know how I mentioned that The Simpsons doesn't nail all of its spoofs? This is what I was referring to. Several years after Avatar hit theaters (which made this short seem all the more depressing), Treehouse featured a terribly conceived Simpsons version with Bart in the lead role. Reading this list you're probably thinking that Bart's involvement has a lot to do with the poor quality of these stories and you'd be right for the most part. The show never really knows what to do with him outside of his normal parameters. That's why Bart's always in the background of others' stories or is paired with Lisa so the writers have someone to bounce him off of. Without that, you realize how poorly Bart's been written in the post 20s. 6.Master and Cadaver (Treehouse of Horror XXI) While the post-20 Treehouse stories have been pretty bad all around, they're more average and bland than outright terrible. But one story manages to tip over that line into a story that's so bad it brings the rest of the special down. Sitting right in the middle of the pretty entertaining War and Pieces and regrettable Tweenlight, this short is based off the film Dead Calm (and guest stars Hugh Laurie) as Homer and Marge save this guy who may or may not have killed a ship full of people. In traditional Simpsons, but non-traditional Treehouse, fashion the man poised no real threat and it's all a series of explainable coincidences. It's just so darn boring. More so than season 20 era Simpsons, more so than weak Lisa episodes, I'm glad this story's so short. The reason it's not higher on the list is because it's thankfully over before it's begun.  5. Untitled Robot Parody (Treehouse of Horror XIX) So here we have the laziest Treehouse of Horror short in series history. It's so lethargic, they didn't even think to give it a name. A terribly conceived Transformers spoof that's neither funny (complete with a rote sex toy transformer joke) nor even has a reason to exist. This blurb is more attention that this short even deserves.  4. You Gotta Know When to Golem (Treehouse of Horror XVIII) Introducing a little used movie monster to the Treehouse format seems fit for a good time but, like the 1915 film it's based on, this story's stuck entirely in the past. A story with jokes rooted in dated Jewish sterotypes ever further aggravated by casting Richard Lewis and Fran Drescher as caricatures of themselves, Golem is just a bad idea that somehow made it to air. I don't even know who this short was for, but this kind of insular comedy is what deters fans from the series. Then again, thanks to bottom three stories, fans have walked away years ago.  3. Frinkenstein (Treehouse of Horror XIV) Ugh. 2. Hex and the City (Treehouse of Horror XII)  It took me years to see this one all the way through because I hated this special so much. In fact, I never saw how XII ended until about six years ago when I decided to run through a good chunk of the Treehouse specials. In Hex and the City, Homer angers a gypsy and is cursed for life (resulting in Marge's beard, Bart's long neck, and Lisa's horse legs). His response is to sick a lepraechaun on her resulting in their wholly gross union. It's entirely asinine and coupled with the episode's other bland shorts like Wiz Kids and this seemed even worse overall. It has to be the worst opening story in Treehouse history. 1. Starship Poopers (Treehouse of Horror IX)  Okay, so I've got quite the problem with Starship Poopers. First of all, it's a terrible final story for a special that wasn't bad so the nosedive is even more noticeable. Secondly, it was incredibly dated then (yes even more so than Citizen Kang, which was rooted in 90s politics) and even more so now. I mean, the short ends with an entirely too long Jerry Springer riff. By the time the short aired, Springer was already on his way out so it seemed even more desperate than I'm sure was intended. Thirdly, even after watching season 26's frustrating "The Man Who Came to be Dinner" (which brought Kang and Kodos into the series proper, rather than just feature them in the non-canon Halloween specials) this is still the worst Kang and Kodos appearance by far. There's so much more I want to say, but I just can't do it anymore. 
Treehouse of Horror photo
It was the blurst of times
You know, it's always great to reminisce about The Simpsons in their heyday but in order to truly celebrate the Halloween holiday, we need to talk about some truly horrific things: The awful Treehouse of Horror specials. Sure...

Screenings photo
Screenings

See The Peanuts early and free


Washington DC and Baltimore
Oct 29
// Matthew Razak
The Peanuts Movie is either going to destroy an American classic or revitalize it. I'm not sure it really needed revitalizing as the holiday cartoons are still constantly watched every year, but maybe it does. The animat...

FlixList: The Ten Best Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror Stories

Oct 28 // Nick Valdez
Honorable Mentions: Desperately Xeeking Xena, Reaper Madness, Lisa's Nightmare (The Monkey's Paw), The Terror of Tiny Toon, Attack of the 50ft Eyesores, Life's a Glitch, Then You Die, The Others, Clown Without Pity 10. The Day the Earth Looked Stupid (Treehouse of Horror XVII) "Oh yeah? Why don't I punch you in the nose, bud?" "...Nosebud..." Folks may have counted out much of the later seasons, and while I'd be inclined to agree for the most part, a few good episodes always manage to go unnoticed. XVII was one of the last good Treehouse specials before they took a dive in the 20s, and it went out on a high. The show's film spoofs don't always work, but I absolutely loved this one. Maurice LaMarche put on his best Orson Welles again as the classic play ended up duping Springfield into wallowing in the dirt like animals. It doesn't make any sense, it looks great, and it's so perfectly Simpsons. Mostly because it actually nails the ending, which is something these specials always struggle with, as the episode ends with the bleak and soft The Ink Spots' "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire."  9. Send in the Clones (Treehouse of Horror XIII)  "Homer I must say, you've had the energy of twenty men lately!" "Twenty three!"  I don't what it is, but seeing a group of Homers play off each other is incredibly satisfying. A natural progression of Homer's self-deprecating humor, laziness, and superiority complex creates an army of clones that only want donuts and for Lenny to pick up the tab at Moe's ("Anything for Homers!"). This segment's also jam packed with jokes from the randomness of killing Flanders and "Paul Newman's gonna have my legs broke!," sights gags like Season One Homer and Peter Griffin, to the fact it all started because of a magic hammock. It's stupid Homer x 1000 and it turned out pretty well.  8. Homer3 (Treehouse of Horror VI) "It's like something outta that twilighty show about that zone..." VI was fantastic all around. Attack of the 50ft Eyesores and Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace were both pretty good, but I've got to hand it to the segment that blew my mind as a kid. Of course it earns its place on the list because it holds up beyond its 3D gimmick because it's pretty funny ("May I take your coat?" "Uh, can I also take your coat?"), but it's hard to gush about its visuals. CG pretty much unheard of in 1995, so the show was able to mine the relatively new technology for comedy. It may not exactly be like Tron (which no one has seen, apparently), but it's close enough. Also, the bit where Homer shows up in our world still blows my mind. I don't know how they pulled it off back then, but I'm glad they spent all of that money on an erotic cake joke.  7.  Citizen Kang (Treehouse of Horror VII) "Abortions for some, miniature American flags for all of us!"  You would hope the political jokes in Citizen Kang wouldn't ring as true 19 years later, but like most things, the Simpsons predicted a lot of things. A parody of major elections sees the Halloween special stalwarts Kang and Kodos vying for American votes with nonsensical speeches and explicit pandering (which leads to one of the best lines in series history, which I had to highlight above) it's crazy how timeless this special really is. Although the candidates are dated, you can replace them with pretty much anyone and it'll still work. So go ahead, throw your vote away! 6. The Homega Man (Treehouse of Horror VIII) "I'm the last man alive and I can do everything I've always wanted!" Treehouse segments are full of movie parodies, but one of the stories that absolutely nails it is this one. Parodying 1971's The Omega Man, which itself was adapted from Richard Matthenson's novel I Am Legend, this short stars Homer as the last man alive in Springfield after the French ("Stupid frogs.") bomb them for their remarks. After Homer enjoys the time alone, he realizes he's not truly alone and every second is so funny. There's a hidden joy in noting how long it takes Homer to realize everyone's dead. In fact I love this segment so much, I'm thinking of getting a tattoo on my arm of "the rest."  5. Night of the Dolphin (Treehouse of Horror XI) "Snorky...talk...man..." What? A segment from the double digits in the top five? Absolutely! Written by Carolyn Omine (who also wrote Halloween of Horror, which turned out to be the best Simpsons episode in seven-eight years), after Lisa frees Snorky the dolphin, Springfield finds out he's actually king of the dolphins and they want to claim the land the humans have stolen from them. On top of the great send ups to random monster horror films (think films like Black Sheep), there are plenty of laughs. Especially when the end of the story sees the town in a big fight with the dolphins before their hilarious loss. It's always in my annual rotation each year.  4. The Devil and Homer Simpson (Treehouse of Horror IV)  "Mmm...forbidden donut..." These next few stories definitely fall into the line of "classic" Simpsons episodes that folks like to reference over and over again. It's for good reason as The Devil and Homer Simpsons absolutely holds up to this day. A tight story where Homer makes a deal with the devil that manages to squeeze in a lot within its short run time. Random John Wayne gags ("I'm already up"), a great showing from Lionel Hutz, Blackbeard in a high chair, and of course, "But I'm so sweet and tasty!" 3. Dial 'Z' for Zombies (Treehouse of Horror III) "Dad, you killed the zombie Flanders!" "He was a zombie?" I feel like the only way I can fully appreciate this is by quoting it endlessly:  "To the book depository!"  "Is this the end of zombie Shakespeare?" "John Smith 1882?" "My mistake!" The zombies that plagued our town are now just corpses rotting in the streets." "Yay!" So good.  2. The Raven (The Simpsons Halloween Special/Treehouse of Horror)  "Quoth the Raven... 'Nevermore.'" The Simpsons first began their Halloween special tradition back in season two, and it made sure to leave a lasting impression. Despite the many years gone by, this short sticks with me far more than anything else. Although it's not the best one (since it's hard to give the episode total credit for its success), it's definitely the most distinct. Putting visuals (and Simpson personality thanks entirely through Dan Castellaneta's performance) to Poe's famous poem vigorously read by the magnanimous James Earl Jones, this short was actually how I was introduced to Poe's work. That's something a lot of these better stories have done too. Inspired by how much I enjoyed the parody, I often sought out the original works. That's especially true of the final entry on this list.  1. Treehouse of Horror V "This is indeed a disturbing universe." So this is a bit of a cheat considering I said that I'd limit my choices to one story per episode, but after deciding on my favorite Treehouse of Horror I couldn't really decide on my favorite of the three stories. As each special usually has a weak story or two, it's incredibly rare to have three incredibly strong segments. Couple that with a running joke of Willie getting axed in the back and you've even got a unified special to boot. From its highly quotable Shining parody, The Shinning "No TV and no beer make Homer something something." "Go crazy?" "Don't mind if I do!," to the well written Time and Punishment ("Oh I wish I wish I hadn't killed that fish." "That's right Mr. Peabody!" "Quiet you!" "What the hell are you smiling at?," and the one story that managed to give me nightmares as a kid, Nightmare Cafeteria ("Now you march into that school, look your teacher straight in the eye and say 'Don't eat me!'"). It's definitely the best Halloween special Simpsons has to offer, and suffice to say, it's also one of the best episodes of the series.  Then again, regardless of which The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror specials you decide to revisit this Halloween you'll have a good time...unless you pick one of the blurst ones. 
Treehouse of Horror photo
It was the best of times...
I've invested the greater part of my life into The Simpsons, and while there may have been more downs than ups lately, it's still consistently bringing me laughs with each offering. Most of them happen to come with their annu...

Rick and Morty Season 2 Review: One Schwifty Season

Oct 20 // John-Charles Holmes
[embed]220007:42656:0[/embed] Rick and Morty’s debut season still stands as one of the biggest surprises out of Adult Swim to date. The channel is usually known for its one-note ideas (Adult Johnny Quest! The dog is also Satan! This cop is a literal ass!), but the new show from animator Justin Roiland and cancellation legend Dan Harmon rose far above its parody roots of an alcohol fueled Back to the Future. Not only did the show develop a wittingly self-aware voice for itself, but episodes occasionally dipped their toes into some pretty dark concepts like chaos theory, family abandonment, and even desensitization through the pursuit of knowledge—but only just a little at first. If season one is where Rick and Morty got audience acclimated to what strange ideas it had to offer, season two are those exact same ideas put into full practice with absolutely no restraint. Where season two holds up best is in how the show is actually structured a bit more like a typical show, but much to its benefit. Whereas the first season left all the fantastic adventures to the mostly drunk mad scientist Rick and his stammering grandson, Morty, the new season gets the entire Smith family involved in more of the weirdness. The biggest benefit being that Morty’s older sister, Summer, makes more appearances in every episode and even gets some great A-stories, making a more competent pairing with Rick than the idiotic Morty. At the same time, the new episodes also took their bizarre ideas even further. The season premiers with Rick, Morty, and Summer actually ripping the space-time continuum into multiple realities, displayed by slicing the screen right down the middle. This repeats until the episode actually climaxes into 64 different screens at once and staying that way until the anomaly gets resolved. In any other show, an idea this crazy would be enough to confuse and alienate an audience away for good, but Rick and Morty embraces this and draws us in even closer with just how ostentatiously crazy it’s willing to get. How crazy? Other highlights include an Ice T alien actually made out of ice, an alien parasite that induces a clipshow that so fake that it has to be real, an entire planet of cat people who engage in a The Purge style celebration, and even Rick becoming trapped in a teenage clone of himself who becomes the most unquestionably beloved cool kid at school—and that’s just barely scratching the surface of how inventiveRick and Morty’s sophomore season gets. The season does run a little disappointingly short at just ten 22-minute episodes, but then again, leaving us wanting more is a sign that a show’s doing something right. Many fans may be disappointed that only a few one-off characters from the first season make returns, but this can be forgiven just for how many new characters from Rick’s varied past. The best of which is arguably an appearance from Stephen Colbert in the episode “The Ricks Must Be Crazy.” Colbert plays Zeep, a skeptical alien scientist who lives the world of a battery that Rick invents to fuel his ramshackle spaceship. When Zeep discovers that his entire world exists just to power a battery, he turns on Rick and Morty and tries to escape to wreck vengeance on their universe. As the all-knowing scientist character of the show, Rick can definitely command the direction of every episode, so it’s an absolute joy to see Rick evenly matched by his own intellectual equal—not to mention that Colbert’s performance fits wonderfully for the know-it-all Zeep, putting his own annunciated character acting to hard work. For as much fun as the show has with itself this year, it does end many of the episodes with the same shockingly dark overtones as the infamous “Rick Potion #9” episode from the first season. Much of the ruthlessness and directionless suicidal depression of Rick is teased throughout the entire season as well as the effect that his self-destructive life has had on his daughter, Beth and the rest of the Smith family. This all leads up to a phenomenal finale where it finally comes to a head with an amazing emotional payoff. If the big question of season one was “does Rick truly love Morty,” season two asks if the family really needs Rick or if he’s the one dependent on them. The season does end on a massive cliffhanger, though, so it stands to beg if we even get a final answer by the end of the tenth episode. The stakes are raised, the world of the show has changed dramatically, and many sacrifices are made along the way. Rick and Mortyrivals another show for the most intense television wedding by the end of it all. So is Rick and Morty season two worth watching? Most definitely, yes. A lot of the show is still pretty the same as before—the same unrestrained raunchiness, the same direct nods to obscure sci-fi productions, and the same disgustingly beautiful designs, it’s all there. Where it does improve though, is in the writing and in its use of characters. By the time the season had wrapped up this fall, the clunkiness of some of the first season’s episodes could be seen when compared to the stronger and more economical stories of the second. If you found the writing of the first season awkward or off-putting, the second may just have more of the meaningful stories you were looking for out of Rick and Morty. After all, this is the show that has Werner Herzog going on an entire monologue about how depressing the human race’s obsession with penises is, and honestly, where else on television or film are you going to find that? Until season three debuts, I’m going to have to say, nowhere else. Want to see more of our TV coverage? Check out our TV Recaps and Reviews! 
Rick and Morty photo
It's been one schwifty season
Season two of Adult Swim’s latest breakout hit, Rick and Morty, started off with one of the most high-concept episodes of any television show this side of Community and ended with a surprisingly intense non-stop rocket-...

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