Monday, March 30, 2020

Review: "Bloodshot" is decent, but Valiant Cinematic Universe unlikely

Bloodshot Review
How many of you are familiar with Valiant Comics? They were an independent comic book company that started in the 1990's and actually saw some decent success, and they were the first new brand that has been able to stay afloat while creating a cohesive universe. Companies like Darkhorse and Image all have independent, creator-owned stories, and most of the smaller comic book companies were bought up by DC and Marvel. Valiant has remained its own entity all of this time, which in this day in and age is pretty fantastic.

Now that Marvel has created a cinematic universe and DC has attempted one, it seems Valiant was ready to give it a try. They wanted to hit the ground running with their character called Bloodshot. Bloodshot is a former soldier who was thought to be dead, but then was injected with technological nanites that saved his life. The nanites now give him super-strength, stamina, healing get the jist. Now Bloodshot, the former soldier tries to find out who did this to him and why. It's a simple set up for a comic book character and something that could be ripe for a springboard into another comic book universe on the screen.

Except, I am not sure a Valiant Cinematic Universe is going to fly. "Bloodshot" is a decent movie, but its not that cool. It has some eye-popping moments. That's about it. I am not surprised in the least that Vin Diesel is a producer on this movie. This feels like one of those bad movies he starred in throughout the 2000's when he wasn't busy making a "Fast and Furious" movie. It's a science fiction that is very cheap looking. This doesn't look like a superhero movie set, it looks like a CW superhero TV show set. 

The movie is much like the comic book I described. Vin Diesel plays a former soldier who is killed, right after watching his wife killed. He wakes up in a scientific lab called Rising Spirit Tech, they put the nanites in his body that saved his life. They gave him superpowers. The soldier wants revenge on those who killed his wife. And he gets it pretty easily. But...we soon find the big twist, Rising Spirit Tech is using Bloodshot for their ends, and Bloodshot didn't actually get revenge on anybody.

The movie filled with several cliches. Bloodshot goes back to find his wife is still alive, and she has moved on and she has a family. Bloodshot is introduced to a team of other soldiers-turned-amateur-superheroes and of course one of them has a grudge against Bloodshot for no reason. A member of this team will suddenly grow a heart and conscience right when it is most convenient. There is several moments when you think Bloodshot is about to die...and no! It feels like about a dozen different movies you saw in the passed twenty or so years. 

Vin Diesel is Vin Diesel. He's fine, but much like Schwarzenegger, he kind of gets by mostly based on his presence. Tobey Kebbell is a great actor, but he's not in this nearly enough. Guy Pierce is usually so good at playing the type of character he plays here, but I know he can do better. He's done better. Eiza Gonzalez is a pretty face, but she does things that any actress could do. She has a commanding presence, but she doesn't really bring much to the table. I am glad that she didn't end up being Catwoman for "The Batman."

The special effects are pretty average, it would have looked state-of-the-art for 1995. Like I said above, its a weirdly cheap looking experience. For how well superhero movies were pumped out in the 2010's, with still heart and soul intact, its seems a little weird to give this a pass. We've seen so many different types of comic book movies at this point, and we've seen several great superhero movies at this point. There is no reason why this shouldn't have been better. Much like the Dark Universe lasting one movie, its probably a good thing Sony didn't go ahead and get several big names to play other Valiant icons. This is probably the first and only time we'll see the Valiant Cinematic Universe onscreen.


Sunday, March 29, 2020

March Madness Heroes vs. Villains Round Four Ballot

You have until April 1st to vote.

March Madness Heroes vs. Villains Round Three Results

We have slid right down into the elite eight, and I can't believe how fast its going. It's been a fun month doing this and I hope you guys are enjoying it too. Here's the results from Round Three.

Batman whipped ElastiGirl out of the competition and will face Miles Morales in round four, The Movie Hero bracket is going to have a nice, old fashioned DC versus Marvel competition as Morales got Rick Dalton out. While through Google Forms, The Tick and Brienne of Tarth were close, people voting in my other social media channels really showed up for Tick support. Probably one of the biggest upsets of the year. I love it though. The Tick will move on against The Mandalorian in round four. As far as villains are concerned, Arthur Fleck and Voldemort got both Hans' out of the competition. Harley Quinn was able to just squeeze passed Tony Soprano and will face Saul Goodman and got Euron out of the competition.

Batman (1) vs. Miles Morales (6)

The Tick (16) vs. The Mandalorian (2)

Voldemort (1) vs. Arthur Fleck (2)

Harley Quinn (4) vs. Saul Goodman (2)

Round Four Voting goes till April 1st!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Hows your quarantine time going?

How's everyone's quarantine time going?

I had a good laugh with my parents an my brother on Wednesday night about how the 90's movie "Outbreak" was put on Netflix, just as before all the Coronavirus panic really started to settle in. We like to argue that the media is doing a good job getting people worked up over this, but other variations of the media aren't doing us any favors either. I also saw on my YouTube app at both "Contagion" from 2011 and "The Shining" from 1980 were highly rented in the recent days. Now, "The Shining" may be connected to "Doctor Sleep" rolling its way out to rent recently, but I also wonder if people are watching it because its about isolation? I don't think "Contagion," which is pretty much a spiritual sequel to "Outbreak," is a coincidence though.

I don't want to bag on somebody watching what they want to watch. But man, I don't know if I'd be up for a movie about viruses and horror movies about isolation at a time like this. Don't get me wrong, "The Shining" is a classic and "Contagion" is pretty amazing in its own right. But not at time like this, not for me.

What have I been doing to keep me busy during this time?

The only 2020 movie I watched this week was "Emma." And I gotta admit, I could have done better with my selection. It's a typical period piece. It is a dry, dry, DRY experience. It doesn't have any twists or turns nor a fun screenplay like "The Favourite" did, and usually period pieces like this are my least favorite movies to sit through. I think Anya Taylor-Joy is a capable, riveting actress and she brings something to each role she takes on. So it's not an entirely bad experience. It's just tough to recommend. It's like a wallpaper. It's nice to look at, and at times beautiful. You may find yourself sucked into the detail and the costumes. But there isn't much passed the surface.

I had a birthday recently, my 31st (dear god) and I got a sizable gift card to Amazon. So I did a big shop spree to add to my ever growing film collection. I got some classics in the bundle, such as "Ace In The Hole," "The Asphalt Jungle," "Rashomon," "All About Eve" and the 70's cult classic, "Phantom of the Paradise." I also got some recent favorites "Parasite," "Knives Out," "Uncut Gems" and "The Lighthouse." If you've been an avid reader of this site, you know why I picked up that list of 2019 titles. I was pretty strong advocate for all of those films during 2019. The first thing I watched last night was "Ace In The Hole."

If you wonder how our media has seemingly spun itself out of control and will do anything for a good story, look no further than Billy Wilder's classic. Billy Wilder was ahead of his time and its almost freaky how relevant "Ace in the Hole" is in 2020. Kirk Douglas plays a Charles Tatum, a journalist who has been fired in 11 markets for various modes of misconduct. His car breaks down in Albuquerque. He decides to con his way into a job at the local paper. He gets his big break a year later. He goes to a small desert town to cover a rattlesnake competition. Once he gets to the sleepy town, learns that the owner of a trading post is lost in a cave. He talks his way into the cave to talk to the man, then comes up with a scheme. Take possession of the story and milk it for all its worth. It may seem like Kirk Douglas's character is an amoral sonofabitch, and that's not wrong. But as people from all over the country to gather around to the spot and pay 25 cents to see the cave, are they any better?

I've got plenty of other movies to keep me busy as this quarantine wears on. As far as TV goes, I've been watching "Dave" on FX and it is another hit for the seemingly untouchable channel. A funny story about an aspiring rapper. But don't worry "Atlanta" fan, this is a totally different style of story with completely different themes and its funny in a totally different way compared to "Atlanta" and I love "Atlanta." I've also got about four episodes left of "Star Trek: Picard" which has been wonderful.

What have you guys been watching this quarantine?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

March Madness Heroes vs. Villains Round Three Voting

This voting block will end on March 29th. Enjoy!

March Madness Heroes vs Villains Round Two Results

So after two rounds here's were we are at...

Superheroes and supervillains are doing tremendously, as to be expected. We have some big superhero match-ups coming up in the third round, which should be fun to see. The three of the last years final four who are left standing are still going very strong. It will be fun to see if history repeats itself again or what will happen. It has been pretty exciting so far, and I hope you all are enjoying it too.

Here's what Round Three will look like

Batman (1) vs. ElastiGirl (4)
Miles Morales (6) vs. Rick Dalton (10)

The Tick (16) vs. Brienne of Tarth (12)
The Punisher (6) vs. The Mandalorian (2)

Lord Voldemort (1) vs. Hans Landa (4)
Hans Gruber (3) vs. Arthur Fleck (2)

Tony Soprano (1) vs. Harley Quinn (4)
Euron Greyjoy (3) vs. Saul Goodman (2)

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Review: "The Hunt" is America's grandest wake up call

The Hunt Review
Ever since November 2016, our nation has changed dramatically and it seems like we have all to some degree, shown our true colors. We need to heal and we need to unite, but for the first time in forever neither side wants to compromise, nobody is willing to go 90 while the other side goes 10. It does at times feel like we are two nations somehow stapled together and each nation is viciously fighting for air. Everything is political nowadays, even things that have absolutely no business being political. We love getting our fingers out, pointing to those on the other side of the political fence, and saying, this is all your fault. Whether its true and whether its fair doesn't play into it.

We have also seen a handful of movies being made in recent years that is dissecting everything happening in the nation at the time. There are always people trying to say what something is about based on a trailer. But possibly the most important thing I will say regarding movies is that you seeing a trailer is not the same thing as seeing the movie. Take Jordan Peele's "Get Out." The right-wingers were so sure that since "Get Out" was a Hollywood movie that it was going to be an attack on White Conservatism, when in actuality, if you actually WATCH THE MOVIE, "Get Out" is an criticism on White Liberalism, and a fair one at that. Notice how I didn't use the attack in that last part of the sentence. That in itself, is part of the problem. We are all on the defense at all times here in the United States, at least it often feels like it. We can't take criticism anymore, any criticism is an attack, and so we have to rebuttal with a list of criticisms on the other side to make us feel better about ourselves. Jordan Peele has made two great films about America in "Get Out" and "Us," and they are really important texts in order to understanding where we are right now as a nation.

Now, you can go ahead and add "The Hunt" to Peele's two movies, and get ready for a wild three-way feature.

"The Hunt" was originally supposed to be released in September 2019, but due to some mass shootings and President Donald Trump having a Twitter tantrum, the movie was pushed back. Can you guess why Trump had a problem with it? He saw a trailer and he assumed. You know what they say about assuming? It makes an ass out of you and me. Sure, you can watch the trailers and think that "The Hunt" is a Hollyweird attack on the Right. But that would be incorrect. It's not incorrect due to my political beliefs. It's not incorrect because I am trying to get you to see the movie. It's incorrect because its incorrect. If "The Hunt" is comparable to any movie in recent memory, it's comparable to "Team America: World Police." You know how Trey Parker and Matt Stone so astoundingly roasted the Right and the Left in that movie? That's what "The Hunt" does. We are living in a time right now where we love to push the buttons of our political opponents, even though we may not conscientiously realize that we have buttons of our own that are easy for the other side to push.

Is there really any value or really any entertainment in seeing a movie that roasts both sides? Is it better to pick a side than simply say you're a fool for caring? I would say maybe you're asking the wrong questions. You're not a fool for caring and yes there is plenty of value in seeing comments on the huge political circus that we are all seemingly incapable of escaping here in America. It can also be very entertaining. You could look at the ONLY the surface of "The Hunt" and see a movie about a bunch of Liberal elitists who get together to kill a group of "deplorables" that they've captured. But again, I say this with every ounce of importance, that's not the movie. "The Hunt" gleefully parodies the thoughts and ideas of the Right as it does the Left, but its also a very intimate look at how easily we are swindled and hustled.

For my money, the scariest thing that has happened to this country since Trump took office is that fringe opinions are slowly making their way into mainstream thinking. We have created a world where anybody can be "right" simply because they use conviction and it doesn't matter if they stretch truths or just downright lie. The word "fact" has been overhyped and overused to the point where it is meaningless. News seems to amount to attacks on the other political side, and if the other side argues it's "fake news." In fact, "fake news" is just anything we disagree with, because by God if that news shit-talks my side, its obviously wrong. We can't listen to our teachers anymore, because teachers are losers and they have nothing on my Google Ph.D. And we have to stop sending our children to college, because that's inviting them to be indoctrinated into the Socialist Communist elite of America, nevermind that Socialism and Communism are two different ideologies. It's so easy for news to take something so small and turn into something else by manipulation, and yes, EVERY SIDE OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM DOES THIS.

At the center of it all, "The Hunt" is just about a little story that gets blown out of proportion. Weird right? Yet it speaks volumes about what is going on in our country right now. What's been going on in this country since 2016. It's a movie where nobody is safe, and that's the point. "The Hunt" is like starring into a mirror and seeing what we've truly become and if we don't course-correct, who knows what's in store for our future. "The Hunt" is a giant metaphor, basically a running, sweating, kung-fu fighting, bloody-as-fuck metaphor. I don't think its nearly as deep as "Get Out" or "Us" and it certainly doesn't hit the same targets with the same precision. It is a blunt instrument trying to wake you up and on that level it works.

There are so many actors that roll through this movie, and they definitely make their presence known. I love the moments with great actors I have come to love over the years. People like Hillary Swank, Emma Roberts, Ike Barinholtz, Justin Hartley, Glenn Howerton, Amy Madigan, Ethan Suplee, and Macon Blair. Each actor is so amazingly good in their moments, that they really sell the thing. The movie hinges on Betty Gillpin. She plays a girl named Crystal, who was kidnapped and forced to defend herself against these elitist maniacs. But she's fighting and she's winning and once she figures out the game that is being played, she has secrets of her own that are revealed. "The Hunt" is her calling card, I haven't watched "Glow" on Netflix, so this is my introduction to Gillpin and she's amazing. She could be the next female action hero if that's the route she really wants to take, because she has a commanding action presence here. She's funny but she is also dangerous in this movie, and I assure you that you'll be rooting for her from beginning to end. 

Roger Ebert once said that movies are empathy machines, and that's one reason why I love them so much. I see independent cinema, which gives me a view into the mind of someone's ideals. I see international cinema and I feel I have a better understanding of the world around me. Even when you see a deep blockbuster, you can see how someone is reacting to something important to them. We don't have to agree, we just have to understand. Going and listening is part of that understanding, and it also leads to complexity. Politics is complex, we'd understand that better if we actually talked to people on the other side of things. I bet you think you know me politically off of this review, but I assure you, you don't. I have many friends from many political views, and when I think I have them figured out I am also dazzled by discovery. I know liberals who go to church every Sunday. I know liberals who own and like guns. I also know Republicans who support gay rights. Hell, I straight up know gay Republicans. "The Hunt" is a movie that is urging us to stop putting each other in boxes. But also taking our hands and asking us to really look at how the game is being played around us, because the real truth will set us free.

So please, learn what social satire is before seeing this movie. Learn the difference between an attack and a criticism before seeing this movie. Don't listen to any political pundits regarding this movie. See it for yourself, and be the judge. It's the most important movie you can see right now and it has the power to change our world for the better.