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Hercules and the Arabian Night

Hercules and the Arabian Night
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Aladdin is a street-urchin who lives in a large and busy town long ago with his faithful monkey friend Abu. When Princess Jasmine gets tired of being forced to remain in the palace that overlooks the city, she sneaks out to the marketplace, where she accidentally meets Aladdin. Under the orders of the evil Jafar (the sultan’s advisor), Aladdin is thrown in jail and becomes caught up in Jafar’s plot to rule the land with the aid of a mysterious lamp. Legend has it that only a person who is a “diamond in the rough” can retrieve the lamp from the Cave of Wonders. Aladdin might fit that description, but that’s not enough to marry the princess, who must (by law) marry a prince.

Hercules, son of the Greek God, Zeus, is turned into a half-god, half-mortal by evil Hades, God of the Underworld, who plans to overthrow Zeus. Hercules is raised on Earth and retains his god-like strength, but when he discovers his immortal heritage Zeus tells him that to return to Mount Olympus he must become a true hero. Hercules becomes a famous hero with the help of his friend Pegasus and his personal trainer, Phil the satyr. Hercules battles monsters, Hades and the Titans, but it is his self-sacrifice to rescue his love Meg which makes him a true hero.

remember first hearing about Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub Zero for the first time while walking in Meijer. They had just started playing the Space Jam VHS release on all the TV monitors and I saw the first trailer for Sub Zero. I immediately went to my local video rental store and rented Space Jam; I had no desire in the film itself, I just wanted to see that trailer again. This being nearly a decade ago puts me at the age of nine or ten when this first happened.

Then the delays started coming. I�d call up my local Warner Bros. Studio Store (ask them every time I was there in person) when this movie would come out. The trailer just said �coming soon� and it was met with more and more delays. Employees could only tell me that it was continually delayed (which I found out years later was because of the abomination of Batman & Robin) and then finally I got a straight answer out of one of them, months later. �March,� the employee said.

Oddly enough when March of 1998 came, I didn�t care one bit about buying Sub Zero. The long wait had just simply killed my interest in it apparently, as when I saw it on VHS in Wal-Mart for the first time I didn�t want to buy it. I wasn�t sure that it was worth it (seeing as how it�d be my own money; my parents certainly wouldn�t buy it), so I waited. My local library finally got a copy of it months later and I sat down to watch it.

As a kid, the movie was all you could want and more. The twisted villain taken out in the end by Batman and Robin, saving Batgirl and the evil villain�s wife�that�s all I paid attention to as a kid. The deeper, emotional issues that the movie had with Freeze and his wife I wouldn�t even comprehend or appreciate until a good five or six years later.

Sub Zero picks up where the B:TAS episode �Deep Freeze� left off. Some may think this an odd place to leave up from, but in reality it�s the perfect start point. Victor is born anew in the arctic where he and his wife, Nora, reside. Nora of course is terminally ill and inside a cryo-tube that has stalled her disease from spreading. After researches crash into Victor�s humble abode and destroys it (as well as Nora�s cryo-tube), Victor puts back on the Freeze suit and Freeze�s them all. Taking Nora and his new surrogate son, Koonak, with him to Gotham Cith, Freeze enlists the help of Gregory Belson, a top-level Cryogeneiticist at the Wayne Company.

Oddly enough for a movie that has �Batman� in the title, he is shockingly absent most of the film. It focuses almost solely on Mr. Freeze and Barbara Gordon for the whole time; of course, I�ve no problem with this, but I can see how some fans would be upset. Still, we do get some cool Batman and Robin moments in the film, especially towards the end on the exploding oil drilling platform. The whole Batwing approach, the break out from the frozen crane and the fake out of the polar bears were all a lot of fun to see, especially with some great animation backing it up.

In general the story was kind of throw-a-way. It moved the character of Mr. Freeze and his plight with Nora forward and gave it a happy ending, something the character desperately needed (and one I think they kind of screwed up in The New Batman Adventures, no matter how much I like spider-head Freeze). Throwing Barbara into the mix was great, but I would�ve liked it better had they given her a different voice actress. Not to take away anything from the late Mrs. Bergman, but it seems with these DTVs, they can�t seem to retain the original voice cast (Return of the Joker withstanding). Perhaps Melissa Gilbert didn�t want to reprise her roll; in any case, Barbara�s voice actress in Sub Zero wasn�t bad, per say, just�different. Which I guess you can expect to hear when you had only previously heard other people voicing Batgirl.

For a direct-to-video feature, however, Sub Zero certainly packed a powerful punch. There were very few low moments in it and the writing and directing was top notch. Originally I hadn�t thought much of Sub Zero after watching it on DVD for the first time in a few years, but having just re-watched it and realizing just how good of a movie it was�I felt obligated to at least give the film the longer review it deserves.

Enough about the film itself, let�s talk about what makes up the film: the animation and music. The animation in this film is spectacular, with the only strange portion being towards the end where we see a far back shot of Batman running through the exploding oil rig. Something about the run cycle on his legs looks incredibly strange, which can probably be attributed to the view. Later in that same portion of the film we�re given some of the best moments: Freeze hanging over the edge and Batman coming to save him. The lighting around Freeze and the look on his face is something you can almost feel yourself. Straining to breathe and with fire and smoke all around him, Freeze is in the worst environment possible. When Batman�s unable to save him, we�re met with a nice explosion behind him and a shot of Batman reaching down�this entire scene is just gorgeous to look at. Towards the end when Batman is dangling from the Batplane and his cape wraps around him we�re also given some more beautiful animation.

The ending to the film was perhaps as perfect as you can get for a Mr. Freeze ending. Finding out that the wife he loved but couldn�t be with due to her illness was now cured�and yet he still couldn�t be with her. She would go on to lead a fulfilling life and Freeze would have to live alone with his bears in the arctic. I�d personally have loved it if Freeze was left in that position, but, again, his TNBA appearance kind of futzed with that. It�s understandable that he�d become a heartless jerk after losing the wife he�d tried to save (the animated comics handled this issue pretty well, with Jason Hall giving a great expansion on what TNBA did to Freeze and Nora�s characters), but�I don�t know. The happy/sad ending Freeze was given in Sub Zero was, to me, just a nice way to cap him off.

In the end every animated Bat-fan should check out this film. That�s not to say that it�s the best of the animated feature length films, but it�s good in it�s own right and anyone that enjoyed the B:TAS Freeze ventures will undoubtedly enjoy this ride as well.

An excellent addition to the television series that brings extreme character to the otherwise cold Mr. Freeze. Some scenes include Freeze telling Batman to take care of Nora first and then help him afterwards, Freeze's determination to save Nora by chasing Barbara Gordon down, and the final scene which is extremely well done and emotional.

The animation this time included Computer Generated Images (CGI) for most of the vehicle scenes. Most of the time it was evident that the footage had become CGI and not traditional animation, but it was worth it. The Batwing sequence was amazing and was better than the Batwing sequences in Batman and Batman Forever. As for the rest of the animation, it was not up to par at first, but the costumed characters (Batman, Robin, Freeze) were extremely well done in the second half of the film.

Even for an hour long film, this is well worth the cash to purchase and add to your collection. If you haven't already seen it, rent it or buy it today. You will not be sorry.