×

Beware the Batman, Legends of Chima

Two CGI-animated kid shows join Cartoon Network's lineup, but only one takes wing

With:
Voices: Anthony Ruivivar, JB Blanc, Kurtwood Smith, Sumalee Montano.                     Voices: Scott Shantz, David Attar, Bill Courage, Jeff Evans Todd, Meghan Kinsley, Bethany Brown, Michael Patric

Computer animation has added visual flair and dimension to made-for-TV kids shows without addressing age-old issues about story quality and the genre’s transparent push to sell toys. In that regard, there’s a clear compare-and-contrast schism between two Cartoon Network series that premiere within days of each other and vie for the hearts and money of boys. “Beware the Batman” represents a sleek version of the Caped Crusader, while “Legends of Chima” is a mindless, dizzying adaptation of Lego characters, steeped in sci-fi/adventure cliches. The look in each case reflects the growing stakes and competition, but only one show adds gusto to the kidvid form.

Highly stylized in a manner that somewhat resembles “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” “Batman” hews toward the recent Christopher Nolan features, finding a relatively young Bruce Wayne (voiced by Anthony Ruivivar) feeling his way into the job with help from a bald, tough Alfred (JB Blanc), who has a background in the British spy agency MI-5.

Continuing Warner Bros. Animation’s welcome strategy of aiming its DC-derived animation at comics-loving adults as well as tykes, the writing is crisp and even above-their-heads literate: Facing criminals who call themselves Pig and Toad, Batman mumbles, “How ‘Wind in the Willows’ of them.”

Batman’s long ears and flowing cape bring to mind artist Marshall Rogers’ late-’80s version from the comics, and the plentiful action includes nifty images of the character leaping in silhouette from a burning building. In short, just because you’re trying to keep the merchandising alive for a cinematically dormant superhero franchise doesn’t mean you have to do a slapdash job of it.

Then there’s “Legends of Chima,” another collection of anthropomorphic animals, only here with little squared-off Lego fingers. Devised by the creators of Ninjago, the series features feuding tribes in a magical kingdom where lions protect the ultimate life force, Chi, whose power they can harness.

At the center are two juvenile pals, Laval the Lion and Cragger the Crocodile, whose friendship is strained by events surrounding them and tensions between their tribes.

It is, in other words, an elaborate hodge-podge culled from a half-dozen familiar properties — including the Force-like powers Laval’s dad possesses and the hovering vehicles upon which characters zoom around — and appears to exist for no other reason than to sell brightly hued little action figures. (The title also sounds like a high-alcohol malt beverage, but maybe that just adds to the legend.)

Cartoon Network finds itself in the midst of its own battle against colorful warriors, with Disney now having access to the “Star Wars” and Marvel franchises. Yet for all the incarnations of “Batman” available (including the 1990s animated version, which would be this show’s closest kin), the character once again demonstrates there are few heroes better suited to the task than the Dark Knight.

Beware the Batman, Legends of Chima

(Series; Cartoon Network, Sat. July 13, 10 a.m.)                                             (Series; Cartoon Network, Wed. July 10, 8 p.m.)

Production: Produced by Warner Bros. Animation.                                                             Produced by M2 Film.

Crew: Executive producer, Sam Register; producers, Glen Murakami, Mitch Watson; supervising director, Butch Lukic; director, Sam Liu; writer, Watson. 30 MIN.                                                                                                           Executive Producers, Torsten Jacobsen, Ole Holm Christensen; director, Peder Pedersen; writer, John Derevlany; story by Tommy Andreasen, Thomas Sebastian Fenger, Derevlany; voice director, Doug Parker; music, Anthony Lledo. 30 MIN.

Cast: Voices: Anthony Ruivivar, JB Blanc, Kurtwood Smith, Sumalee Montano.                     Voices: Scott Shantz, David Attar, Bill Courage, Jeff Evans Todd, Meghan Kinsley, Bethany Brown, Michael Patric

More TV

  • Asa Butterfield in Netflix's Sex Education

    Netflix & Sky Strike Multi-Year Deal To Keep Streamer On Service

    Comcast-owned pay-TV operator Sky and Netflix have hammered out a new multi-year deal to keep content from the streaming giant on the service.  Under the new deal, customers of Sky’s set-top box service Sky Q will have the option to opt in for Netflix’s basic plan, which is priced locally at £5.99 ($7.99) per month. [...]

  • Paradigm Agency Cuts 30 Staff Positions,

    Paradigm Agency Cuts 30 Staff Positions, Mostly in Music

    Paradigm has made a significant cut to its staff, laying off about 30 agents and support staff or 4% of its employees, Variety has confirmed. Sources said most of the layoffs were in the music area at the agency and took place Friday.. Paradigm, which had about 700 employees prior to the layoffs, had no [...]

  • Edward Burns'Alex Cross' film premiere, Los

    Edward Burns Dramedy, Blumhouse TV Docuseries in Development at Epix

    Epix is eyeing some potential new additions on both the scripted and unscripted front. Network president Michael Wright unveiled Epix’s development slate, which includes two scripted projects and three prospective docuseries, at its Television Critics’ Association winter press tour day. One of the two scripted series hails from Edward Burns who is best known for [...]

  • Kim Kardashian WestFashion Group International's Night

    Kim Kardashian West 'Goes to War' on Mass Incarceration in Documentary Trailer (Watch)

    Kim Kardashian West is going to war on mass incarceration. Oxygen has released the trailer for her documentary “Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project,” which sees the media personality declare that “there is a mass incarceration problem in the United States.” The two-hour documentary, premiering Sunday, April 5, captures Kardashian West as she explores the [...]

  • Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of

    Harry and Meghan Will Give Up Royal Titles, Repay U.K. for House Renovation

    Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will lose their royal titles of “His Royal Highness” or “Her Royal Highness,” when they step back as senior members of the United Kingdom’s royal family, according to a new statement from Queen Elizabeth and Buckingham Palace. However, the duo will maintain the moniker of Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The [...]

  • Grey's Anatomy deaths

    The Top 13 ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Deaths Ranked

    If there’s anyone that knows how to deliver a heart-wrenching death scene, it’s the team behind ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” Created by Shonda Rhimes, the broadcast medical drama came out of the gate in 2005 with literal life and death stakes for its characters. Being set in a hospital meant that mortality was a constant theme [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    'Surviving Jeffrey Epstein' Docuseries Gets Greenlight at Lifetime

    Lifetime has officially ordered the four-hour documentary series “Surviving Jeffrey Epstein.” The announcement was made at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Saturday. The series was originally announced as in development last summer and is expected to air this summer on Lifetime. Hailing from Emmy-winner Robert Friedman’s Bungalow Media + Entertainment, Anne Sundberg [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content