Friday, March 4, 2016

Tom & Jerry: Spy Quest

If there was one thing to know about me my film choices you should take a look at ever pulp hero and see if there's a film or an homage to these types of heroes, since I've either seen it or I'm hunting it down. Jonny Quest is a classic, it's Hanna-Barbera's kid version of pulp adventurers, though it's still the most amazing limited animated series created. This was their first action series in 1964 on Prime-time, though like Tom & Jerry and Yogi Bear the name Jonny Quest became household. Then the years start passing and new generations come and go, then new prime-time series need to be produced. Lucky for people like me there's adventurous folks out there that want to see more of the Quest Family. In 2015 they completed and shipped out this amazing (about a hour long) feature starring Tom & Jerry with guests (and driving plot) Jonny Quest, Haji, Race, and Dr. Benton Quest with Bandit, of course. Enough history, let's swing into action and adventure in this Warner Bros. Animation that gives great respect for the series and a bright future for the characters.

The cover is incredibly interesting, if I already don't love Jonny Quest I'd be interested in the fact that there's characters in the film that will have JETPACKS! The Rocketeer is an amazing character and a fun pulp movie, both forms of the media, comic and film, were great on their own, though with the hero there was some things that I wanted to be added, though didn't see. That's not the point right now, the point is that Jonny Quest was one of those shows back in that day that had amazing inventions and Jetpacks, like everyone had a jetpack, mostly that might have been due to the design of the show and animation was difficult during the time. Best example of wonderful design, but poor animation would be Space Angel, gorgeous series, but not for animation.

Tea Steeping takes to the sky, she's on a mission.

Anyhow the cover shows my favorite version of travel, it's impractical and can kill you, so easy, but I would take my jetpack everywhere, even if I can't move faster than 20 mph. Then we see my hated rival, the power suit, I'm not a fan of it, it's cool don't get me wrong, it's everything that a speculative fiction character that has the money and skill to make would want/need. I just don't like a Juggernaut suit, unless it's the Juggernaut, that's a whole other rant, but let's wrap this up with jetpacks awesome, power suit, not as cool.

Moving on, the cover shows eight characters on it, and four fonts. If you're a Graphic Designer, Illustrator, or just a person that likes symmetry this is horrible. Everything about it says that it's wrong, too many characters and so many fonts. I like the "Spy Quest" part since that's interesting and incorporates the characters that haven't been in the main light since 1997, yeah 18 years without the adventures of a young adventurer, his best friend, his Father (scientist), their bodyguard, and his pup (Bandit). I love that Warner Bros. Animation is trying to bring back a lot of their older series and keep these amazing characters in their corporation.

The cover, right, so it's obvious that this is about evil cats in power suits trying to get the glowing ball that also Jonny Quest and Haji are trying to see why Bandit and Jerry are interested in the ball. It's really bland, it doesn't bold well for the film if there's not a good cover. There's an island that's in the landscape, but that seems more aesthetic than needed. It's flawed, though it gets the message across that there's gonna be adventure and thrills with laughs. One thing that I appreciate is the character design, it blends well with each other, though they do stand out. Kinda reminds me of The New Scooby-Doo Movies since it tries to blend the characters so they don't look totally out of place, but they still pop within the special.

With that rant over, I think it's best to keep moving forward and get on with the feature. It opens like every Tom & Jerry cartoon, their theme blasting into the main setting, bring to the forefront the location and events that will take place in Sunny Florida. It seems it's a period piece, all the attire is about 1960's, maybe the 70's, it's hard to tell. Tom is scared out of his wits by Spike and Spike Jr., though all he wants is a pleasant day in the Sun. He retreats to the juice bar, where he slams his face into the corner of the drinking establishment. Jerry appears and treks to the middle of the beach and Tom doesn't notice him and sits right on top of the rodent, as Jerry buries a umbrella tooth pick into Tom's glutinous maxims. A few more subtle jokes run by and Jerry spies Bandit. Since it worked for Spike Jr. (which he didn't see) then it should work now. And it does, Bandit (known for his barking from the animated series) proceeds to be a dog and bark. Smashing Tom's face into the coconut tree that he thinks Jerry is still running around.

This folks is the introduction to the Quest family, not sure how things will progress from here, though it looks like we're gonna get about 30 minutes of mute action, then a 30 minute walk through exposition alley. That's my guess, let's see if it comes true. Then we see Jonny Quest and Haji, also Bandit is hideously angry. Also I guess it's not gonna be a walk, this was a sprint, though still a lot of information we'll find out the relevance for later, but hooked on what it'd'll mean for the cast right now. The designs for Jonny and Haji are lovely, they're perfect for the series and look great within the world of Tom & Jerry.

Anyhow, power suits are flying in the sky and firing lasers. This is a mundane thing for Jonny Quest, so they react and Tom stands in shock at the machines attacking them. We can assume that they're robots, but the cover kinda ruined the surprising reveal that they're cats, still the look of them show that they have ears and the helmets that cover everything so they could be assassins from Dr. Zin!

Jonny calls upon Tom to come with them, since he'll be targeted as much as they are now. Jerry collects Tom as they make a dash to safety. The expressive animation on Jonny and Haji's faces are beautiful, it's awesome to see that they put so much detail into the boy's expressions. It kinda kills me that it has better animation than the original series, though it's 2015 not 1964. It's just beautiful to see the skill and talent that went into this film and makes me want to eat my words at the beginning of this article.

The attackers are again dealt with, this time Race Bannon sweeps in with the hydrofoil (yeah it's a real boat, I know, I was shocked too), telling the Boys to get on. I just realized, no one's really been formally introduced. Parents might know the characters, since they look just like they did in the 60's cartoon, but someone that's new to all of this will just see action everywhere, though no one is telling anyone about why things are happening and who they are, it's just all action. Also if you didn't look at the cover or trailer the power suit cats were acting like felines circling their prey (the protagonists). Again extremely beautiful job on the animation side of things, this film had me worried, but I'm eating every word and my hat, no a hat store! This is amazing!!

Sorry, had to stop the film for a moment and look at the New Adventures of Jonny Quest, the opening title is amazing. I'm dumbfounded that I never saw this series, though I've loved the source material. It shows one can love a series and never get tired of what they loved about it, though never know enough about it. Take Popeye for example, he has a comic strip, film series, and radio program. In each format he ate something different to gain his strength. Somehow I remember the stone man that was with the Quest family, but not the series even the slightest.

Tea Steeping dealing with air-pressure chances, jetpacks from the future! 

All this excitement and it's only been abut 6 minutes in the film. I'm really overwhelmed with this film, it's taken on so much in a short time. Race exclaims his concern with the new animals, then the classic gag line "Have you two been in a chase before?" I love that they just look at each other, no words, no nod to the audience, it's just that perfect hold on the two characters that know they've been in a chase for the past 5 decades give or take. The battle continues with the boys and animals throwing fruit at the power suit cats. Leaving them unable to attack back, though as they dive into the water to escape the fruit barring heroes they start to board the ship. Jerry sees this and runs off to Bandit who understands the situation and starts barking at the nearby Tom, scaring the poor cat into this rising twirl, taking the power suit cats with him, spinning and fighting as he worries about the dog, that hasn't been mean to him, like Spike and Spike Jr. have in the past, so why is he afraid?

Then we pull back from the scene to a closed circuit television of Dr. Zin watching the Quest family in this odd bout between wit and fear. He exclaims that he's amazed by their elusiveness as the quest family speed off, then we come back to the running gag, it advances the plot. The hole in the beach the three power suit cats come out, battle damaged and start talking about the mission. The animation is so beautiful, it's amazing in every way one can only hope to make something that's half as expressive and finely tuned, I'm down right dumbfounded that this wasn't better advertised, this really holds the spirit of the characters and brings out the brilliant artistic skill of the production company. The opening credits to the film is the old Jonny Quest opening, but rotoscoped and they added Tom & Jerry here and there. I'm really at the point of not caring for the titular characters, I really just want to watch a Jonny Quest film. This has good points, but I'm loving this movie for all the wrong reason. If this is a Tom & Jerry movie, it's not to the characters. Yeah, they'd jump to adventure, though this isn't in the heart of the series. Again I love their animation team, it's glorious to see such astounding animation is a film. This film is a beautiful take on the Jonny Quest series and a great way to introduce new fans to the characters.

I thought that Dr. Zin sounded familiar, it's James Hong!

I'm blown away at Eric Bauza's perfect imitation of Don Messick's version of Dr. Benton Quest (John Stephenson was the first Doctor, then George Segal would pick up the job in the 90's, after the passing of Don Messick, Neil Ross would pop in for a parody role in Harvey Birdman). The Q-sphere is activated and the comedy relief act in proper action. Then based off of the readings Dr. Benton sees that with the experiment they could power the world. They all sit to have a meal, it looks great, all cooked by their bodyguard Race. It's a little weird, though it's something that's expected of the man of mystery. Also everyone has a wonderful meal except Tom who just has milk to eat. I think I realized what I like with the animation acting, it's organic. The faces move around and change with the dialog it's impressive that they change so much in such a small amount of space and animation. I love that Dr. Benton Quest, the smartest man in the world and his passcode for his kitchen is "1-2-3-4", I'm guessing to log into his computer it's "password", still it's his private base that's secluded that's only to the kitchen, but still a complicated assortment of numbers would be more appropriate. Though this is the Quest family in the Tom & Jerry world, so somethings aren't all there from the source material.

The sound design and music for this are spot on, the characters all sound perfect and the music fits within the series and the movie. So everyone goes to sleep, but Tom's belly is rumbling, his hunger for the food he never got at the table is clawing at him, in body and mind. Then we're outside the compound, we see the three power suit cats, they talk about the high-tech defenses that protect the Quest family and all who are inside. It seems the same way to get into the kitchen is the same code to shut off all of the security. It's flawed for sure, since that could happen to anyone on the base. Tom grabs his midnight snack and it seems that the kitchen and the lab are in the same area, another question is why would one design it this way?

Then we see the power suit cats again, they start trouble, by walking in exclaiming that they're there to STEAL THE SPHERE and KIDNAP DR. QUEST. It's like they were discounted henchmen, where did Dr. Zin find these cats?

Just gonna advance this along, Tom & Jerry go through a bunch of … well Tom & Jerry antics, then the bad guys get what they were after, though they didn't kidnap Dr. Quest. Then Tom makes a loud noise, which alerts both Dr. Quest and Race. In classic Race fashion he swings into the scene, taking out the bad guys as he drops himself onto a machine with his machine gun, ready to unload if they even take a step. A fourth power suit appears, then a fifth, it seems that these are robots and not living beings. They kidnap Dr. Quest in front of Jonny and Haji, Race is unable to protect him, but the robot grabs Race as they jet away into the night sky. The boys try to make heads or tails of everything, Jonny starts looking for the sphere's energy signature at the suggestion of Haji. Then they all jump into the Quest Jet, the Dragonfly Jet, it's an awesome two part jet that's experimental and flies at amazing speeds, as Jonny slices into the sides of the walls of the hanger.

I just love that James Hong is Dr. Zin, he can be all over the top if he needs to be and dramatic and evil if he wants. He's a great actor for being both sides of the coin.

From page one to now, Tom has been afraid of Bandit's bark, it's been something that's a running gag, though its lost its strength. Anyhow Dr. Zin attacks with flying machines. As beautiful music plays, that's fairly Bond-esque. Jonny makes an amazing maneuver, then is rewarded with the plane being destroyed by orbs with saws, Tom flopping about on the outside as the boys run with Bandit in toe to the parachutes. Then as the plane is completely decimated Jonny and Haji jump to save their animal friends. They collect themselves and continue to head into town looking for their family. The sense of weight in everything animated in this film. It's really shocking to see how organic the feature can be.

Coincidentally they run into Jade, the very attractive mercenary friend of Race Bannon. Tia Carrere plays Jade, she's been in a lot of media recently that have been influential shows that exhibit her talents and skill. Jade's expressions are wonderful, they're not polite, though they're wonderful in all their pin-up glory. She reveals that Dr. Zin has their Family. She seems to hate Race, there's a picture of Race in the background. The boys titillate her to help, though they need to sign a contract (she knows how to keep a commission). Droopy (this is the last film with Joe Alaskey provided the voice of Droopy) pops in to get Jade to come to the stage, it's interesting that the villains found them so fast, though also that they're using a contraption that's not been seen since I think the first episode of Jonny Quest.

Professor Steeping helping Gom from falling,
it's a little late though he's doing his best to keep Gom from plummeting.

Anyhow, the bad guys are attacking the boys while Jade dances and sings, speaking to a man that's unseen, though one can guess that it's Race. The boys get away and the show is celebrated for her amazing performance, the damages are added to the boy's bill. They make it to the island that Dr. Zin has made his lair.


Everyone puts on a jetpack and starts heading to the center of the island, Tom doesn't make it and blows himself up… again I love Jetpacks, but it's so impractical.

Tea finds the reason why most people don't like jetpacks, rump-roast has a whole new meaning.

Dr. Zin captures the boys, then brings Dr. Quest to his feet and threatens his children, he demands the cooperation of the super scientist. The good father that he is he excepts the deal for the boys safety. Dr. Zin orders Tom & Jerry's death. Then we see the crater that was the landing spot of Tom, the robots are on a hunt all over the island to capture or kill (Kill since it was ordered, capture since it's a kid's cartoon) Tom and/or Jerry. The prison is impressive and hilarious that there's giant lobsters (turns out it's crabs) under them. Bandit is with them in the titanium cell and they send him out to find our titular characters. Speaking of they start wondering the hidden compound of Zin seeing that Dr. Zin is looking to sell his device to the highest bidder, as a weapon not a means to give power back to the world. Race and the boys start talking about Jade. Then tell them that they did well with trying to save them. Oh, it's giant crabs, well they're mutated so it's still creepy and spooky and horrifying.

Anyhow Tom & Jerry start their rescue operation, though are stopped by their antics as classic vaudeville cartoons. Dr. Quest is tied up and Dr. Zin boasts and gloats over the imprisoned scientist. Also at 47:37 this is the perfect still for the stoic Dr. Quest and the disappointed Dr. Zin. It's wonderful how their dichotomy from each other is elevated and shown how each are respected. Dr. Quest being a man of sober silence and Dr. Zin building and stealing everything that's scientific, whether it helps his misdeeds or not. They went to the same school. Dr. Zin activates his machine, bested at the exclamation of Dr. Quest trying to either throw him into making a mistake or just being a blunt person. Then in frustration Dr. Zin activated exclaiming "Gweilo" under his breath. The prison seems to be the most effected by the activation of the device, which they're saved by Tom & Jerry who are saved in return by Race. They're chased down a hall way, then close a door that stops the crabs for the moment. Then we cut back to the Doctors as Zin puts in his second part of the plan, launching the island's volcano. The sudden transfer from hallowed out volcano to flying fortress of death threw Jonny, Haji, Race, Bandit, Tom, and Jerry off an opening on their level almost falling to their death. Though Tom couldn't reach Race or the human ladder, but Jonny jumps at the chance to save his friend. The Power Suit is too slippery, his grip fails him as Tom falls to his death, Jonny again unable to save anyone properly. Jerry jumps after him and launches a hook from the suit that save both characters. Zin gloats more about making an amazing warship, Race needs a distraction to help them along the way, but Tom doesn't wanna do it, so Bandit scares him, hitting his head on the ceiling and taking out a bunch of the robot guards before being caught, then Race finishes the bot off with his pipe.

They're 15 minutes from America or more specifically Washington D.C. where Zin's threat was sent earlier to the President (played by the original Jonny Quest, Tim Matheson). Race and the boys stumble upon a bunch of the robots and takes them out in an amazing act of heroism, man of action he incarnates. The boys take it upon themselves to get the sphere back, which is powering the station. Zin notices that Race is defeating his robots and getting ever closer, so he sends his full fleet after them all, lasers blazing and everything. The super intelligent henchmen that they are start to attack the kid by the power sphere, blasting highly destructive lasers at Jonny and the machine. Tom flies away as Jonny starts to destabilize the energy sphere, the henchmen power suit cats start attacking the crane that Jonny is on and Haji is piloting, Jonny and Jerry start falling to their death, as Tom zoom back into the picture to save them. Tom realizes as they're stuck in a situation that needs him to be barked at to solve, Bandit is too confused and afraid to bark. Then Tom fumbles around with the Power suit, blasting the bad guys and ejecting the core as Race beats a mountain, figurative mountain, of robots with a pipe.

Zin boasts that even within his defeat he's still won, the volcano will crash into the City as he escapes. Dr. Quest pushes a button on his watch  that sends a rocket. It's weird that someone has a suicide button on them at all times. Anyhow the Washington Monument fires off into the sky, chasing Benton Quest's signal. The Quest Family run off to escape, not sure where they'd be able to go or what they'd get, but it seems the skimmer from before is the machine of choice to save them. Race with his mighty pipe are no match for the giant mutant crabs, that are still attacking anything that moves in the compound, not sure why they wouldn't just jump into the ocean and make world problems, but still it's exciting to see. Then Jade appears out of nowhere withe Droopy in a skimmer. She followed the boys and grabbed the sphere. They all get out before the explosion, somehow fitting in that little theme park ride. The new Washington monument is being built as a ceremony of some sort is in session. The Quest family are given metals for saving the world, the president makes an in-joke, since he's the original Jonny. Everyone gets a metal, even the animals (I'm look at you Lucas, Chewie got robbed!). Then it all ends with Tom & Jerry being who they are and fight running around slapping and smacking each other.

The credits roll and we get to see drafts of the work put into the film. Amazing new drawings from the staff, it's like seeing the past, the iconic characters are perfectly emulated. If I could thank everyone of the artists involved in this personally I would in a second, all one on one. I see a name that I know and love that he was apart of this Robb Pratt famous for the Classic Superman shorts. In short if you don't like Tom & Jerry this is gonna be a hard film to watch, since they need to be in the film, but if you can move around all of that, pretty much leaving it as a sub-plot of characters that could be supercut out, then this was the Jonny Quest movie to bring into a new generation of fans. Watch this movie at all cost!

(There's four episodes in the bonuses, two from Tom & Jerry, one from the original Jonny Quest series, the other from the New Adventure of Jonny Quest. It's really stunning that there was so much heart put into this DVD.)

I trust you enjoyed the inspection, thank you for reading.
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Keep well and Stay well.

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