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Mighty Mouse: The new Adventures
by Roger Ash
I usually talk about comics in this column, but today I want to focus on another of my passions – film & TV. There are three outstanding DVDs Westfield is listing this month that I want to spotlight so they don’t slip under your radar.
First up is Mighty Mouse: The new Adventures complete Series. I’m a fan of animation and Ralph Bakshi’s work (as you may recall from a recent column I wrote about him), and have waited for this release for years. By the late 80s, most Saturday morning cartoons had become fairly bland. parent groups had removed the teeth from most children’s programming and they had become fairly sappy, dull, and you had to learn a lesson by the end of each episode. It was into this atmosphere that Mighty mouse was unleashed. It was well drawn, hyper, and most importantly, funny. The series paid homage to Mighty Mouse’s roots at Terrytoons with appearances by Sourpuss, Gandy Goose, deputy Dawg, and the Mighty Heroes, but took Mighty in a very different direction than the original cartoons. For comics fans, you won’t want to miss Bat-Bat taking on his arch-nemesis, The Cow. The Cow even takes on the entire legion of super Rodents (of which Mighty mouse is a member) in one episode. A favorite episode of mine, Don’t Touch That Dial, parodies the conventions of animation at the time as a kid flips channels and traps Mighty mouse in different cartoons.
The show was also the training ground for creators who would go on to be major players in the world of animation for years to come including John Kricfalusi (Ren & Stimpy), Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), Tom Minton (Tiny Toon Adventures, Pinky & the Brain), and Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E). Mike Kazaleh, who provides the cover for the DVD set, has done some comic work as well as in animation. His most recent work can be found in DC’s cartoon Network books and for Bongo’s Simpsons and Futurama.
Here’s a link to a recent interview with Bakshi in which he mostly discusses Mighty Mouse. If you’re a fan of his work, it’s worth a read. and below is a look at the opening titles for Mighty Mouse: The new Adventures. This is NOT from the DVD, but if you haven’t seen the series before, it’s a nice introduction. If you’re a fan of animation, you need this on your shelf.
Next up is Moon. This wonderful film escaped most people’s notice this past summer and that’s a real shame because it’s excellent. Directed by Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie), Moon stars Sam Rockwell as the sole human at a factory on the moon that provides cheap, renewable energy to the population of Earth. Near the end of his three-year stint, something happens that challenges what he believes to be true. This is an excellent sci-fi thriller and Rockwell turns in an outstanding performance. This reminds me of the terrific sci-fi films I saw in the late 70s and early 80s that asked big questions and let the audience form their own opinions as to what it all meant. In this case, it calls identity into questions and looks and how we become who we are. On top of that, the special effects are done the old fashioned way – with models. This gives the movie a look that hasn’t been seen in a long time and makes it seem more real (to me at least) than the slickness you typically get with CGI. Take a look at the trailer for the film.
District 9 DVD
Finally, there’s district 9. This movie comes from South Africa and if you know any of the people who star in it, I’d be surprised. This is an action/adventure sci-fi romp, yet still throws in questions and some social commentary. Years ago, aliens appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa and now live in a tenement, district 9, while those in power – the government, a corporation, and a warlord – attempt to figure out how the aliens and their weaponry can best be used for their needs. The story follows a lowly pencil pusher who becomes exposed to an alien substance that causes some disturbing changes and alters the way he views the aliens.
On one level, this is a rousing sci-fi adventure, yet since it was made in South Africa, one can’t help but notice the condemnation of Apartheid. By extension, the aliens could represent almost any group that is exploited or discriminated against. Here’s the trailer.
Now, go watch a movie!
Mighty Mouse: The new Adventures complete series DVD
District 9 DVD
District 9 2-Disc set DVD