Thursday, June 13, 2019

Doctor Sleep Trailer

It was my dad that got me on Stephen King. One of the first King books I read was "The Shining."

I didn't see the Stanley Kubrick movie until much later in life, and even though it really isn't the book, Kubrick was able to make something that still truly terrifying. There are some adaptations that truly ADAPT the books, and sometimes there are REACTIONS to things. I believe Kubrick's "Shining" was a reaction.

In 2013, Stephen King wrote a book called Doctor Sleep and picked up Danny Torrence, the main character in "The Shining," as an adult. They are now adapting the movie into the book and it really, really looks like a straight up sequel to Kubrick's classic.




There are going to be some things that will be interesting about this adaptation. In the Kubrick movie, the chef Dick Hallorann died, he did not die in the book, and he later teaches Danny to restrain his shining powers, as Dick has them too. I wonder if that will just be a thing in the movie that gets omitted. There is updated imagery here I never thought I'd see again, and its certainly made me curious to see.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Review: DC Animation can't lose! A look at "Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"

Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review
When I was a wee lad, I used to collect action figures. You can also bet I would soak up any cool cartoon I could at any given moment. I loved the "Batman The Animated Series." That will, in my mind always go down as the best Batman cartoon ever. Probably the best Batman series, period. Growing up in the 1990's, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was at the height of its popularity as a cartoon. There were all sorts of action figures in my collection, characters from fandoms of all kinds. When I had friends over or if I was just playing by myself, I'd make up crossovers before making crossovers became cool.

If I were a kid growing up right now, I'd probably would have lost my mind for "Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." I definitely would have lost it growing up in the 1990s. Who wouldn't want to see Batman teaming up with the Ninja Turtles. Sure, sometimes they'd fight each other. But their heroes, it really isn't a spoiler that they'd come together as allies. Fans of either property is really going to love this movie. Its fun how it all comes together. Batman is the stern upper lip, no-nonsense leader and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Well, they are just that, with each of their individual personalities still intact.

Shredder makes his way to Gotham City. He has formed an alliance with Ra's Al Ghul. The Shredder wants the secrets to the Lazarus Pit in order to achieve immortality, and Ra's Al Ghul wants the mutating ooze to make his assassins stronger in battle. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles follow Shredder and his Foot Clan to Gotham. Batman is already investigating and can see something is on the rise. The two factions of heroes eventually team up to stop Shredder and Ra's. Along with a bunch of mutated Gotham villains.

Oh yes, imagine a Snake version of The Joker

If you've been having fun with the animated DC movies, get ready for their most ambitious crossover! 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Review: "Dark Phoenix" feels like the first X-Men movie that is phoning it in

Dark Phoenix Review
Just in case anybody didn't know, there is a re-release of "X3: The Last Stand" in theaters right now!

Wait, what?

If there is one big ticket franchise that has been moving forward in a very weird way, its been the "X-Men" franchise. You can almost compare it to the James Bond movies of the 1960s through the 1990's. Each movie seems to beat to sound of their own drum. No matter what they do, continuity doesn't seem to be a factor in the storytelling at all, and if you think about the continuity of the franchise for too long, you will give yourself a migraine. It was a franchise with a difficult birth. Fox studio head Tom Rothman tried tooth and nail to bury the franchise at every turn. He didn't believe it would make money, so he tried to torpedo it immediately to save face. The thing was, the franchise did catch on. It was one of the key ingredients we needed to really get the superhero movie culture we are living in today.

The X-Men are my favorites. I've always had such a deep love for the characters. They are my favorite of the Marvel stable, and I hope that says something, because I prefer Marvel to DC. I love these characters, I loved them growing up. I continue to enjoy X1 and X2. X3 is a mediocre effort, there is some silliness to it, but some parts are okay. I would rather not talk about "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." New life was breathed into the franchise with "X-Men: First Class." I really liked "The Wolverine" and "Days of Future Past." I thought "Apocalypse" was decent, not bad and not good, decent. The "Deadpool" movies are great, but they are on an entirely different wavelength. Overall, its been a fun series. 

This leads us to "Dark Phoenix," the last mainstream X-Men movie in the Fox franchise. Yes, we are getting one more spin-off, so this is essentially it. Just as I feared, its essentially a remake of X3. Do you guys remember X3? The X-Men movie from 2006? It told a half-assed Dark Phoenix Saga adaptation, the biggest problem was that major story was shoehorned into another story. Like I said, there are some things I like and some fun in it, but its mostly a mess to get through. "Dark Phoenix" may have an entire runtime to itself and it doesn't really have to share itself with another story. But it's essentially a remake of X3.

I mean, here's just a quick list of similarities. Jean Grey acquires strong powers as a child. Jean Grey meets Charles Xavier. Xavier takes young Jean Grey to his mutant school. He puts mental blocks into her head to keep her from using her power. Her powers get unlocked. Some major characters die. She seeks help from Magneto. She gets manipulated by a greater evil. She turns a bunch of people into molecules. Heck, even the set during the final fight in "Dark Phoenix" looks eerily like the set from "X3." Its like they didn't even try to do anything different.

This new movie follows the comic books just a little bit better, and maybe that will make comic fans happy. But the movie as a whole is burdened with the feeling of "been there, done that" and it almost makes the movie slightly embarrassing. Jennifer Lawrence seems like she's been phoning it in as Mystique since "Apocalypse." and she comes off mostly bored in this movie. Plus, she gets a big SJW line that is shockingly bad. If you thought the A-Force reference in "Avengers: Endgame" was bad and forced (I'd personally disagree with you) just wait until you hear the name change Mystique suggests. I was a fan of Sophie Turner on "Game of Thrones" but here, much like Lawrence, she seems bored by the whole thing. Tye Sheridan  has always come off as a blank and while it slightly worked for him in "Ready Player One," he never really comes off like Cyclops, but maybe a Cyclops impersonator.

There are a couple of performances that stand out. James McAvoy is still a convincing Professor X as is Micheal Fassbender as Magneto. Fassbender has crafted a performances so canny that I feel like he's set a new definition of the character, separate from Sir Ian McKellen's. Nicholas Hoult is still a striking Beast, and still pours plenty of emotion into his character. Evan Peters once again has some great moments as Quicksilver, but he's knocked out of the movie fairly early. That's a damn shame, he stole two movies and the thanks he gets is getting sidelined for this entire movie. Plus, the hint that maybe Magneto and Quicksilver are related is totally dropped here. Alexandra Shipp does a nice accent and newcomer Jessica Chastaine was apparently told to just stare glumly at the camera and blankly blurt out dialogue.

The special effects are about as standard as they come for X-Men movies and I have always dug that there was a certain look to the spectacle of these characters that separated itself from the MCU. After so many superhero movies, and after each of these movies creating fantastic superhero scenes (and some mind-numbing superhero scenes) "Dark Phoenix" is oddly normal looking. Like every other X-Men movie, some characters are given no traits to play with and just show up to simply show off their powers. It never quite hits the epic feeling it so strongly wants to.

Some fans have been wry of X-Men going back to Disney, but perhaps that might be a good thing. Fox had a decent run, no doubt about it. We certainly owe Fox as fans our thanks for really helping turn the tide on the attitude toward superhero movie, because we wouldn't be in the golden age we are in now if we did. But all good things must come to an end, and telling from "Dark Phoenix," the train may be coming into the station one last time.

FINAL GRADE: C-

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Review: "Godzilla: King of Monsters" is the king of monster movies

Godzilla: King of Monsters" Review

I get the biggest kick out of people who put so much energy toward analyzing a tomato meter and using it to decide if they like a movie or not. I mean, even though there are some critics I read faithfully and trust dearly, I still feel I have to give every movie a shot myself. I have never said to myself, "well so and so doesn't like it, so it won't be for me." Most critics use some kind of hivemind and will repeat the same titles like a mantra. I could care less about all that. I started this blog due to my passion towards movies, and that has fueled this blog ever since. 

Here's my dirty little secret. I don't care what a critic says about a movie. Just like I don't care how much money a movie makes. Those things don't stop me from loving the movies I love, and I sure hope its the same for you. The average critic will look at a movie like "Godzilla: King of Monsters" and write it off right away. It has big monsters, its CGI-ridden, the storyline is goofy. The average critic should know better. Its a Godzilla movie. I wasn't expecting an award-worthy screenplay. I wasn't expecting a thought-provoking story. You go to a movie like "Godzilla: King of Monsters" to watch some giant monster mayhem. That's the experience, that's what this new movie delivers. If you went to see "Godzilla: King of Monsters" expecting anything more, that is on you, not the movie.

Let's discuss what's important here. Some critics have complained that the monster fights are too dark in places. I say no, I could follow them just fine. Even when they take place at night there is an urgency to them, the use of the dark environment that allows you to really get into the fights. This isn't like the Long Night episode of "Game of Thrones" that recently aired. The monster fights scenes are so epically grand, that you will have to hold your head onto your body to make sure it doesn't spin off. They are tremendously made, and your eyeballs will thank you for all the pieces of candy they'll be eating.

I am sure when critics write about how bad this movie is, they are talking about the human plot. You don't watch a "Godzilla" movie for the human story. There's eco-terrorists trying to set monsters free, a government group trying to keep them alive and a father just trying to make it. Sometimes its hard to figure out who is on whose side. Sometimes its hard to read what the motives of the characters truly are. The human story is filled with actors like Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farminga, Kyle Chandler, Ken Wantanabe, O'Shea Jackson Jr. and they all do fine. Charles Dance shows up as a human villain who might as well have a mustache to twirl. The actors give it their all and they remember to have fun.

Depending on what type of movie fan you are, this will either be for you or it won't be. Some people love some good old fashioned monster mayhem in the summertime and others do not. Its up to you, just don't blame the movie for your problems.

FINAL GRADE: B+

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark trailer

I've been a horror nut ever since I was very young and one of the first books I read was "Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark." I got the book before they did a recall of sorts and changed all of the illustrations in the book. Because lets face it, those illustrations were nightmarish and how myself or any kid for that matter didn't need therapy is a blessing. I have a soft spot for the book and I never thought I'd see it as a movie.

The movie is coming out soon. Guillermo del Toro is producing, which gives me good vibes. However, I am not a fan of a storyline that ties all the stories together. This would have probably worked better as a TV anthology series, in the vein of "Black Mirror." I think the wrap around plot will take away from the adaptation of the stories themselves, and that will be slightly infuriating. With that said, they've got the illustrations down perfect. There is some genuine creepiness in the trailer. I am just not completely sold on it, and that kind of breaks my heart a bit.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Review: "Brightburn" might just be the surprise of the season

Brightburn Review
Even if you've never picked up one of his comics. Even if you've never liked any of his recent movies. Superman is the most iconic and well known superhero in the world. Simply because he's the oldest superhero in the world. I mean he's called SUPERman for a reason. He's the guy that can do anything, but understands the meaning and responsibility of unlimited power. And he's always used it wisely. Even though he doesn't rank very high on the list of my favorite superheroes, I understand we wouldn't have a genre without him, and there wouldn't be these people called superheroes, which have been a big part of my life.

Superhero movies are big business right now. And as I've said before, as the genre is allowed to get weirder, people are going to try to start doing their own things with the genre. I think we've finally reached a pinnacle moment in the sub-genre of superhero movies, and how long the this money machine lasts will be up to Hollywood itself. It took a few decades for these characters to slowly get introduced to an audience, build up how each character is different and alike, set up their worlds, risk everything by making them interact. Now, characters were once C and D list heroes are now A list heroes, because the sub-genre has been so popular. A movie like "Avengers: Endgame" and "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" can make mad gobs of money, even though those are the two "silliest" superhero movies ever made story-wise. Finally, a genre that was looked at with disdain is now the gold standard in filmmaking. Sure, maybe Steven Spielberg is right, maybe this sub-genre can't last. But as long as artists continue to push themselves, that shelf life lasts longer.

We've received an onslaught of Marvel movies by this point, and it looks like we are about to get the same thing with DC. People are really beginning to get a general understanding between the differences of the two major comic book companies. They also understand outsiders like The Tick and Hellboy. It looks like its time for comic book movies to go"post-modern." When films like "Mystery Men" and "Chronicle" and "Hancock" tried that previously, they didn't work because the norms of the genre weren't established yet. As much as I think "Mystery Men" is one of the best superhero movies ever, it bombed because people didn't really get what they were watching. Now that we've had many movies in the superhero genre and we've seen how these worlds work, its about time we got some original voices thrown into mix, and see who could really subvert the franchise. It seems like the next step. But when M. Night Shyamalan tried it with "Glass," it still didn't hit the target it so desperately wanted to hit.

I am pretty sure "Brightburn" was the movie "Glass" wanted to be. 

You can watch a trailer for "Brightburn" and think. "Really, so basically he's Superman, but bad?" Like it or not, that's not an original idea, there have been plenty of stories published by DC where Superman went off his rocker. "Superman: Red Son" is a great what if story about what the world would have been like if Superman's pod landed in Communist Russia instead of America, and its a cool concept and an equally cool book. So just taking Superman's origin and changing him into a bad guy wasn't enough to grab my attention. Perhaps the low expectations is what made this such a great experience for me, because I can't believe how much I was entertained by this.

If you know Superman well, then this quick plot synopsis shall sound familiar. A family (Elizabeth Banks, David Denman) are ready for parenthood. Something crashes in their backyard. Soon after, they are raising a baby. The whole family lives on a farm. The boy, who will eventually be played by Jackson A. Dunn, begins to reveal he has superpowers. He is an introvert who is often bullied. It all sounds so familiar doesn't it? Except this story doesn't have a happy ending. One night, the boy named Brandon finds a mysterious spaceship buried in his backyard. Instead of getting a nice hologram message from his alien dad, Brandon is told to take the world, and take the world he does.

Yeah, its a pretty shameless "evil remake" of Superman. If that's really how you want to look at it. But how I saw it was a pretty damn good subversion of the superhero genre. A clever take on this type of movie told in a new light. You can get all caught up on how unoriginal it all is or can take it for what it is. The acting is pretty solid across the board, and the special effects is used sparingly. It just rugid enough to feel real world. Plus the blending of horror elements with the superhero genre doesn't sound like it should work, but somehow does. Because let's face it, if a Superman-like being introduced themselves tomorrow, how frightened would you be? Be honest.

The transition from horror to superhero movie is a little sloppy here and there, but there is a grand feeling of confidence that keeps you entertained. This movie is positively leveled with ambition and that is something that always counts with me. The story is simple and tight, its able to keep you focused and it all mostly makes sense. Unlike "Glass" where it felt like not everything really added up at the end. This one may shock people because its not something that will really make you feel good, they really aimed high when trying to blend horror with the superhero genre and its a job well done overall.

The ending of course points to a larger world. It looks like there is an evil Aquaman and an evil Wonder Woman running around somewhere. Also, if you really know your indie movies, there is a cameo that made me smile big during the mid-credits. If director David Yarovesky and Producer James Gunn plan on making their own "Warped DC Universe" on screen. I am definitely all in. 

Really what got me, and what usually gets me were the characters. Sure, they make some horror movie errors here and there, but the movie remains entertaining throughout. Jackson A. Dunn is quite the discovery here,  and I'll be curious to see him in other things in the future. It was only a year ago for me when I first became a dad, and while its been the greatest gift I've ever been given. Being a parent is hard work. You can read all the books and watch all the DVDs on parenting you can, but truly nothing prepares you for it. It can be a very anxiety-ridden experience, because you are responsible for keeping a small life form alive, healthy, and knowledgeable. Just one can be a juggling act that you do all day, everyday. As a parent, you want to get your kids on the right footing, make sure they grow up to be good people. I just don't know how I'd feel if I woke up on morning and found out my child had done something earth-shatteringly bad. Its probably a mini-nightmare for most parents. How do you make sure your kids make the right decisions when your not there. Can you parent too little? Can you parent too much? If "Brightburn" does anything, it subtlety pushes the nerves of parents and shows just how challenging it can be at times.

I always love it when I get an unexpected time at the movies. This is not at all what I imagined I'd see tonight nor is this the review I figured I'd write tonight. In the age when the superhero genre is reaching a certain saturation point, I hope we see more of this kind of movie being made and I hope this isn't the last time I get to visit Brightburn, Kansas.

FINAL GRADE: A-

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Flood trailer



So Jorah Mormont may not got a chance to meet Cersei Lannister, but chances are they probably wouldn't have gotten along on "Game of Thrones." But in the upcoming "The Flood" it looks like they will be working together. I always like a good old-fashioned political thriller. I am hoping this eds up good.