Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Behind the Scenes Pic of the Day...gets a dark knight

Welcome back to the second Behind-The-Scenes-Pic of the Day.

Today marks the ten year anniversary of "The Dark Knight." Honestly, I can't believe I am writing that. I can't believe that movie is ten years old. Back in 2007 and well until its release. There was not another movie that I was more obsessed with than "The Dark Knight." I sat up at night, praying that the world wouldn't end for whatever reason. I needed to see this movie. I had been a Batman fan for a LOOONG time. The Adam West era had its place. I loved Tim Burton's movies. But once Joel Schumacker took over, it got dumb. I never thought I'd ever see a good Batman movie ever again. Then Christopher Nolan appears and brought us "Batman Begins." It represented everything I would ever want from a Batman movie. I hoped he'd go on to make nine movies. That great tease at the end of Begins showcased The Joker.

This was one of the first behind-the-scenes pictures we got and it still didn't even come close to preparing us what we were in for when Heath Ledger unleashed his Joker on us all. I would have never guessed he'd be the guy to do it. Frankly, neither did anybody else. Tons of actors wanted the role, I remember reading that Robin Williams wanted it bad. That Paul Bettany was considered. Adrien Brody and Steve Carrell were in the mix. But I was glad that Ledger gave us this, because we needed it.

There was an elaborate viral marketing game on the internet leading up to the movie's release. I remember a letter written out in various letters on one website. And people had to go out and literally find where these letters were in the United States, snap a picture and send it to the website. Once all the letters were found, a never-before-seen look at The Joker emerged. Warner Brothers really kept people on pins and needles. And with such a wild marketing campaign, you kind of have to wonder why they've been dogging it with the DCEU marketing.

I've written thousands and thousands of words regarding my love for the movie. I am sure in the future, I'll write thousands and thousands more. I am sure I'll watch it again today, perhaps you will too?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The First Ever Behind The Scenes Pick of the Day

Okay, so starting something new.

A website I used to frequent was called It was a great website that taught me that you don't have to have a four year journalism degree to get your writing skills sharp and to write about movies. It was one of the websites that inspired me to create a website of my own. Sadly, its founded got caught up in sexual allegations, and lots of his writers left. One of those writers used to post a Behind The Scenes Pic of the Day. He'd talk about the movie in question, talk about the scene, show something funny or smile-worthy. They were usually pretty quick reads, but it got the audience talking and reminiscing about the movie in question.

That what I hope to do here. In honor of Quint from Aintitcool. I am going to post a Behind The Scenes Picture of the day. Hopefully it leads to greater conversation about the said movie.

There is going to be a special theme for today's first picture of the day. As well as the coming days this week. Because this week features as series of anniversary's regarding films about one of my favorite characters. I am talking, of course, about Batman. The first Batman movie I ever saw was the original "Batman." When I first saw it, I actually got pretty freaked out by Jack Nicholson's portrayal of The Joker. I know that's probably weird to read in a post-Ledger society, but I have to be honest. I actually didn't watch the movie for a very long time because he freaked me out so much.

I eventually got over my fear. Because watching as I got older. Despite being grittier and darker, there are actually some very comic book-like features to it that I really dig. And some of it is just plain silly. All the Prince music, Joker breaking into a museum and messing up art, that big pistol gun of his. There is some genuine weirdness in the movie, but hey what else do you expect from a Tim Burton movie?

Speaking of which, I thought Burton directed the film. Not Michael Keaton.

Yep. That's Micheal Keaton in the batsuit. I suppose he was filming something special?

Anyway, tell me about your favorite Batman moments below and I hope you join us every day for this new feature.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: "Ant-Man And The Wasp" features tiny heroes but big fun

Ant-Man And The Wasp Review

After ten years and twenty films, I you know where you stand when it comes down to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They make three movies a year, and if Kevin Feige is to be believed, that tempo isn't slowing down any time soon. I don't want to sound like a broken record. The studio has done a terrific job setting up its characters and creating films that feel different from one another, highlight how each character is different, but still making sure that it feels like a cohesive universe of movies. What's amazing is that Marvel makes it all look so easy. Funny, how Warner Bros. can't seem to get their A-List heroes off the ground very well, while Marvel has made a multi-billion dollar money machine mainly using Marvel's B and C-List heroes.

You know where you stand with this franchise at this point. You know if you liked "Ant-Man" in 2015 or if you liked his appearance in "Captain America: Civil War." You know by now if the Marvel Cinematic Universe is for you or not. This isn't going to be a very long review. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I'm a huge fan. You know me calling myself a mere "huge fan" is an understatement. I've felt like I can walk on water watching this franchise unfold and its been a pleasure to see how its materialized. If you remember my "Ant-Man" review, I enjoyed it quite a bit. You can read it right here. I know some people who weren't fans of the idea of Paul Rudd being a superhero. I know people who still don't. But I've enjoyed Rudd. His casting stems from Robert Downey Jr. doing so damn good as Iron Man, so if you want someone to blame, blame Downey. His style and attitude set the stage and atmosphere for this franchise. Yes, the Marvel movies are lighter on their feet, they are unashamed to wink at you, they know their movies. There is a small percentage of comic book readers who grew up and now they want adult superhero stories. But superhero stories were never meant to be adult. Sure, writers have taken a stab at adult themes and I think there is a place for that, but I really don't get what someone would get out watching a dark and dour Ant-Man movie. The concept of superheroes is pretty ridiculous, so these movies should embrace that ridiculousness. I re-watched "Justice League" this past weekend and I snicker every time the DC heroes are having a serious, somber discussion about a weapons called Mother Boxes. How the hell do you have a serious conversation about something called a Mother Box?

Long story short, the fun vibe of the Marvel movies isn't going away any time soon. It sure isn't going away in "Ant-Man and The Wasp." It's another movie featuring tiny heroes but big fun. Paul Rudd returns, and he's great in this once again. Evangeline Lilly returns, and I love seeing Hope finally in action. If the MCU needs more of anything, its female superheroes. The Marvel comics are rich with superpowered women, and sooo many of them deserve movies of their own. The Wasp really stands out as a character and a threat here, and Lilly embraces it. You can tell Michael Douglas and Micheal Pena and T.I. are having the best time returning and getting to play in this world again. And newcomers like Laurence Fishburne, Walton Goggins, Michelle Pfeiffer, Randall Park and Hannah John-Kamen are having an equally fun time being parts of this universe.

The movie once again displays some eye-popping de-aging CGI in a flashback sequence and its just screaming for a prequel with Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer playing a young Hank and Janet Pym. It's really amazing just how far we've come with CGI. So yeah, the special effects work is top-notch and the de-aging work alone should give this movie the visual effects Oscar, but for some reason, the Academy is anti-Marvel. Boo! When we catch up with Scott Lang (Rudd) he's under house arrest, he has been for the last two years. Due to his involvement in the Civil War, he's under house arrest and both Hank Pym and his daughter Hope (Lilly) had to cut ties and go into hiding so they wouldn't get in trouble with the law. But all this time has given Scott moments to play with his daughter. After a strange vision, Scott is contacted by Hope and Pym. They've been building a quantum tunnel which leads to the quantum realm. The place Janet got lost in and Scott somehow survived. They need his help to find Janet because she might be alive.

Many of these superhero movies are structured the same. I did appreciate that "Ant-Man and The Wasp" isn't necessarily a "glowing doodad" movie, but comes somewhat close. These movies work best when their simple and there is an easy struggle that the movie sets up. Yes there is a character called Ghost who comes in and disrupts everything, but if you haven't seen it yet, I don't want to start giving anything away, just know the character herself is pretty cool and works has a good foil to both Ant-Man and The Wasp.

My biggest disappointment was that Luis, played by Michael Pena, was barely in the movie. I get it. There are way more characters in this film than in the first film. The story is a bit more sprawling than the first film too. So sadly, some stuff got knowingly sidelined. Luis does tell one story in his typical Luis fashion and its a laugh riot. But as a breakout character, I was expecting more.

But in the summer days, getting a fun movie is what we should expect. Perhaps I am a spoiled brat for wanting more. Marvel has done it again. They've made it all look easy again. They've kept their story moving. If you don't like fun in your superhero movies, you've come to the wrong place. If you like your superhero movies that embrace what makes the medium great in the first place, stop here and stay awhile.

And yeah, if the post- credit scene is any indicator, we are in for a helluva show next year!


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Godzilla: King of Monsters pics

Entertainment Weekly has released some pictures of the upcoming "Godzilla: King of Monsters." It is due in 2019. I am pretty sure this is intended to be a continuation of the 2014 film "Godzilla," which relaunched the franchise. As well as a continuation of the lukewarm "Kong: Skull Island" which had an after-credit scene connecting to Godzilla. The film is being made by Michael Dougherty, who made the utterly awesome "Trick Er Treat" and "Krampus."

The film will star Millie Bobby Brown from Netflix's "Stranger Things," Vera Farmiga, Bradley Whitford and Sally Hawkins, so very much like the first two films, lots of good actors. It will also, as the title would suggest, lots of monsters! Popularized by the old Godzilla movies.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Review: "Super Troopers 2" just never fully takes off

Super Troopers 2 Review

The Broken Lizard is a comedy troupe that I love very much. Over the winter, I re-watched "Club Dread," a film by the troupe that I actually remember sneaking into seeing when I was in grade school. It was just as funny as I remember it being. "The Slammin Salmon" is always a delight. I also have a deep fondness for the "Super Troopers." However, my favorite of the bunch has always been "Beerfest," and I've been holding it to the troupe to eventually make the sequel it promised before the credits. I love, love, love that movie.

The Broken Lizard is great, and I am sure they'll be great again, but "Super Troopers 2" doesn't quite get there.

Its got everything you'd want from a sequel. The entire Broken Lizard troupe is back, as well as Brian Cox. There is funny cameo work by Rob Lowe, Sean William Scott and Damon Wayans Jr, just to name a few. There are some funny moments in the movie. But sadly, the things that work about the movie never really add up. First of all, its an odd story. The disgraced troopers were fired after the first film and then they are recruited by the governor of Vermont, played by the former Wonder Woman Lynda Carter, to police a spot of Canadian land that was originally belonged to the United States. The movie is a comedy about the newfound troopers policing the area despite many Canadians mad about losing their land. After everything that has happened politically in this country since 2016, as well as the reputation we have internationally, it rubbed me wrong to make a comedy about this. 

Not only that, but it would be good if the jokes didn't feel like rehashes. It seems for every movie that has been good by this troupe, their jokes are all alike. Yes, there's some over-the-top pranking. Yes, there are lots of dick jokes. There are lots and lots and LOTS of dick jokes. After awhile they land with a thud. After a while it gets tedious and repetitive. For a movie that wasn't believed in by the studio because of fear of it feeling dated. Then to gain four million dollars through crowedfunding to make the movie. Well, why is it that the movie did end up feeling dated?

Okay, its not all bad. Its pretty apparent that Jay Chandrasekhar, Paul Soter, Steve Lemme, Erik Stolhanske, and Kevin Hefferman came to play. If there is any reason to see this movie, its to see all these guys together. No matter how funny the jokes land, its never boring watching these guys get together. They are really tying to make this count, and it definitely shows in their work. Plus, while there is a lot of laughs that don't land, there is still so much crazy over-the-top material that works. There was definitely some effort, and that shouldn't go unnoticed.


Monday, July 9, 2018

Review: "Tag" has a tender heart underneath its dumb fun

Tag Review

I've had the same group of high school friends for forever now. But I usually see them all about once a year. It's not easy when one is in Delaware, and another is in Colorado and another is in Wisconsin and so on and so forth. So we don't get together like we used to, but that's okay. We've worked around that as best we could. A couple years ago, we started a Dungeons and Dragons game with everyone, and that was always a fun way to kill four or so hours while catching up. Then that evolved in X-Box One Live games. That evolved into, well a hiatus for now. But the point is that we will always come up with a way to connect with each other.

"Tag" is the strangest true story I've ever heard. Ten friends keep up a game of tag which has been happening since they were nine years old. In order to keep up with each other's lives, they play this tag game once every May, during their "Tag Season." Whoever is it by the end of May is it and next year it begins again. I still can't believe this is a true story and there is a real group of friends out there doing this, but hey. That's dedication. "Tag" the movie stars Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson and Jeremy Renner. They are these friends who have been playing since they were nine and now well into adulthood, their game of tag is alive and well.

The game has certainly evolved into their adulthood, and nothing seems to be off-limits. Someone gets tagged when their wife is giving birth. Another person is tagged at their mother's funeral. They get their other friends involved, they get their wives involved. As the film opens Ed Helms' Hoagie gets a job at Jon Hamm's Callahan's own company, just so he can tag him. I think this highlights right away just what type of movie this is going to be, and just how far its willing to go with its humor. Over the course of this friendship, the only person who has never been tagged is Jerry, played by Jeremy Renner. We find out why pretty quickly, he's able to outsmart his friends with ease, and his unbelievable athleticism takes the game to a whole new degree, and nobody can keep up.

Jerry is engaged to Susan (Leslie Bibb) and their wedding happens to fall in May, the group of friends see it as the best time to finally set up plans to trap Jerry and tag him once and for all. But also because of the wedding, Susan begins putting limits on the game. Because of his engagement and his soon-to-be fatherhood, Jerry is planning to retire from the tag game after this year. So the group is hellbent to tag Jerry just once. The movie is smart to showcase just well a "tag player" Jerry is without necessarily turning him into a cliche "bad guy." This is a movie that is absolutely in love with itself. It's in love with its characters. It's a good thing too, because the premise is so gleefully absurd that the audience needs something to hold onto while they move along with the movie. You can't go wrong with a cast that includes Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Jeremy Renner, Leslie Bibb and which also features Isla Fisher, Annabelle Wallis and Rashida Jones.

Yeah, let me talk about Isla Fisher just a bit. Because out of all the women in the movie, she's the absolute best. There is a reason why she's one of the top comedic talents of her generation. Fisher plays Anna, Hoagie's wife. And trust me, she's the embodiment of what we all deserve in a significant other. She seems to have not only accepted that her husband is in a lifelong game of tag with his oldest friends, but relishes in all of it. Even though the group made a strict "NO GIRLS ALLOWED" rule when they were nine, and which they adhered by in adulthood. Doesn't matter, she does what she can to help her husband when he needs it. That alone leads to some of the funniest material in the movie. Wallis is good, but she really isn't given too much to do.

Rashida Jones shows up as Cheryl, who was an old flame of almost all the boys in the group, mostly Callahan and Jake Johnson's "Chili." They both try to go for her when they see her again and it seems like just a weird direction to go that it took me out of the movie. Suddenly, there is a competition for the affection of this girl between two of the guys and it throws off the rest of the movie. It suddenly feels like a different movie altogether and it rubbed me wrong. Thankfully, it doesn't last very long. It seems though that Johnson is almost typecast at this point thought. Chili is pretty much Nick from "The New Girl" except he smokes lots and lots of weed.

What could have boiled down to a simple cat-and-mouse with the group of friends finally prevailing over their rival ends up not happening. Instead, the movie ends reminding the audience of just how precious something like a close friendship is. No matter how young we think we are at any given time, life will eventually catch up with all of us. At the most unexpected time, so we have to have as much fun as possible, no matter how old we get. The movie has some really sincere things to say about close friendships that I was honestly a little shocked once the credits began to roll.

So the next big question, is the movie funny? Well, there are plenty of times where I laughed out loud. With the cast involved, I would have been frustrated if the movie didn't generate a single laugh. So yes, I did laugh. Although I'll admit, I didn't laugh nearly as much as I thought I would. I was expecting it to be much funnier than it actually was. I don't think I've really bust my gut laughing in a long time at the theater, and I can't say that I walked away in pain, which is too bad. But did I laugh a little bit, yes. At least it didn't sell itself as a comedy then forget to put some laughs in.

Its the film's heart that finally won me over. I am sure that made some of you grown. But its not has self-evident as it sounds. "Tag" is a fun time at the movies, albeit a dumb fun kind of time.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Keri Russell negotiating for Star Wars Nine!

Keri Russell has worked with J.J. Abrams a couple of times. She was cast in the lead on J.J. Abrams' show "Felicity" and had a small role in his "Mission: Impossible III." She's most well known for her work on "The Americans." I've slowly begun to get into "The Americans" and I like what I've seen so far. Now, Keri Russell is apparently getting close to reteaming with Abrams for another time in the upcoming "Star Wars: Episode Nine." Abrams directed "The Force Awakens" and was a producer on "The Last Jedi." Now, he's back in the directors chair for the grand finale.

Of course its in the dark of who she is going to play. Rumors are already running rampant about who she could be playing, some guessing it could be Rey's mother. But honestly who knows? I guess that's as good a guess as any, since Kylo explicitly said she's a nobody. For me, I don't know how much I really care. "The Last Jedi" was such fumble in my eyes that I can't believe I am not that excited for Episode Nine. I will still see it, because I do want to see how this particular story ends. I know Abrams has tons of damage control to work through so that this last episode ends on a high note. So we'll see. Although this will be a good profile for Russell.