Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Character's revealed from "Terminator:Genesys"

Terminator: Genesys
It seems for several years now that Warner Brothers has been playing a "rinse, dry, repeat" game with their Terminator franchise. I love the first two films. Honestly, who doesn't love the first two films? But, as I read online tonight, a critic made a very good point. It seems that James Cameron told the entire story of Terminator in two films, and it seems every other effort in the franchise has only existed to limp it into more life.

These two covers were released today to begin promotion from "Terminator: Genesys," which will hit theaters on July 1st, 2015. They feature Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) playing Sarah Connor and Jai Courtney (Spartacus, A Good Day to Die Hard) as Kyle Reese riding a motorcycle. On the other cover, Matt Smith (Dr. Who) is playing an unidentified character and Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) as John Connor. Oh, and there is a terminator robot smiling.
Look, I like Emilia from "Game of Thrones," I am electrified with excitement that Jai Courtney is breaking out to superstardom, as I loved "Spartacus" with a burning passion. I also like Smith and Jason Clarke quite a bit. I just hope that this is a story worth telling. Every film that has come after T2 has left a bad taste in my mouth, and I want to be entertained by this franchise again. Right now, Warner Brothers has a huge uphill battle to fight right now. There are many fans of Terminator who have grown more and more jaded as this franchise has worn on. Even though Warner creates promising trailers, they never add up to much. People are losing faith in this franchise, left and right, and Warner Brothers needs to reignite passion fast.
Will they do it? Maybe. I will reserve my judgment until after I see a trailer. I am sure lots of marketing and discussion is on the horizon. For right now, these characters photos didn't do much for me, how about you?

Who Played It Best? Norman Bates

Do you believe its cool when stuff gets remade? Or do you think it is Hollywood telling us they are out of ideas?
I have never understood the need to remake every cool thing that happens nowadays, especially when there are independent filmmakers tearing it up on a regular basis who deserve to be better-known than they are. I would certainly say that I am not apposed to remakes, I just wish they were more than they ever amount to. To me, the best possible idea for a remake would be to remake a movie that wasn't so universally embraced, and see if there is anything that could make the film better. No movie is perfect in my book, but why the need to remake a classic after it has already been deemed a classic? Because of its unrelenting fan base? Seems like a waste of time and money, if you ask me. "Last Action Hero" was a Arnold Schwarzenegger movie from the 1990's. It was about a kid who got a golden movie ticket, and through the ticket, he was transported to the realm of movies. That seemed like a the coolest idea for a five-year-old movie addict like myself. But even at five years old, I could smell the squandered opportunity on that one. With a premise like the one "Last Action Hero" presented, why would the whole movie revolve around the boy running around telling everybody he saw that they were in a movie?
Better question, why would anybody try to out-Hitchock Alfred Hitchcock?
Yep, as crazy as its sounds. A 1998 remake of "Psycho" was unleased to the public, starrying Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates.
Who did it better, Anthony Perkins or Vince Vaughn?
Honestly, this isn't even a debate.
The 1998 remake of "Psycho" gave a ridiculous new definition of the word remake. Everything that happened in the movie was copied from Hitchcock's film, frame by frame. There was no new insight, no new routes, no new creative ideas. Watch both the Hitchcock film and the 1998 film next to each other, and the only difference is that one is in color and one is awesome. Vince Vaughn was all wrong for Norman Bates, but at the time, so was Anthony Perkins. But stack the two performances together, and it isn't a contest. Unless you are a fan of Freddie Highmore's portrayal on TV's "Bates Hotel." (Its not that I am NOT a fan, I just haven't had a chance to see the show at all, it is on my to-do list, I assure you.) Then I foresee Perkins being the clear-cut winner.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comment section below or email me ( You have until next Wednesday to vote for your favorite Norman Bates.
Last week, our first ever showdown between a Television AND a Movie portrayal took off last week. It featured Jack Torrance from Stephen King's "The Shining" Guess who won...
As you can see, he loved it

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Marvel Announces its films for PHASE THREE!

This is such a great time to be a Marvel fan.
Tonight in Los Angeles, Marvel Producer Kevin Feige announced all the films that will appear in Marvel Phase Three of their Cinematic Universe. Once again, it is a very ambitious plan, and it seems Marvel is slowly and systematically breaking their ambitions down into goals they reach. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to become a lot weirder, stranger and seemingly a lot less grounded in reality. This is exactly where this franchise should be headed, once you have the hooks in the audience, they will follow you anywhere. This is the next step.
As you can see from the picture above, we have a lot of ground to cover with the Third Phase of this franchise, and that is excluding "Ant-Man" which will start this third chapter in 2015. We see that "Captain America 3" will be released on May 6, 2016, "Doctor Strange" on November 4th, 2016, "Guardians of the Galaxy 2" on May 5th, 2017, "Thor: Ragnarok" on July 28th, 2017, "Black Panther" on November 8th 2017, "Captain Marvel" on July 6th, 2018 and "The Inhumans" on November 2nd, 2018. As rumored, "The Avengers 3" will be split into two parts, Part One will be released on May 2018 and Part Two will be released on May 2019. The film will officially be called "Avengers: The Infinity War."

I love that Black Panther, Ant-Man, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange and The Inhumans on the way. I like that Marvel is willing to explore new mythologies and open new franchises instead of keeping it safe with the franchises that are selling tickets. Sure, we get a little of that, but not nearly as much as before. Like I stated above, the Marvel world is going to get a lot weirder, and I like that Feige is so confident about it. It also shows us that this whole Marvel Cinematic Universe may not end after its third phase. I am excited for these new properties and you should too.

I also like that Chadwick Boseman was announced for Black Panther, and I truly believe that he will do the part justice. I like that Marvel is finally branching out with its diversity, and it seems that Marvel is destined to beat DC to the punch of putting the first minority superhero in a lead movie and the first female superhero to have a solo movie. Black Panther is great character, as is Captain Marvel and I am going nuts trying to decipher what the rest of the world will think of these characters. The Inhumans is going to be a big gamble. They are a group of superheroes who live on the moon and were experimented on by a far away alien race. It seems Marvel's gambles have paid off so far, so I am no doubt ecstatic for this to hit.

It also seems that Kevin Feige is quite the showman himself. He guaranteed that the scene from "Avengers: Age of Ultron" would not be the scene we all saw during "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." tonight. It was a scene between Stark and the Captain. Yep, you guessed it. "Captain America 3" won't be "Captain America 3" it will be "Captain America: Civil War."

To me, its way too early for a Civil War type story. In the comics, the Civil War erupted over years of superhero disputes, after a tragedy in Connecticut which cost the lives of 200-300 children, the government submits the Superhuman Registration Act, which forces all super-people to become governmental agents. Iron Man supports the bill, Captain America does not, and all the other heroes choose sides. This movie universe is way too young to have such a huge story to plant itself. Plus, Marvel doesn't have many of the characters in its studio (like Spiderman and the Fantastic Four) who were drastic players in that story. I hoped this franchise would keep the politics out of it, and keep things light. I still have an open mind on this one, and I will see it.

The Thor sequel raised my eyebrow the most. Simply because Feige stated that Marvel will once again shatter the status-quo of the universe. What "Captain America: The Winter Solider" did for the MCU, "Thor: Ragnarok" will do something of the same. I can't wait to see that, as well as Tom Hiddleston return as Loki.

Once again, it is a great time to be a fan of Marvel right now. I am so excited for these next five or so years. My skin is crawling with delight. If you have been onboard with this franchise as much as I have, I hope your excited too.


TV REVIEW: "AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D." (Episode 6, Season 2)

EPISODE 6, SEASON 2- "A Fractured House"
Just like the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it seems that they are just as determined to get great actors for their television shows as well.
Tim DeKay guest starred on tonight's episode as Senator Christian Ward. Yep, that is right, by telling from the last name, Senator Ward is the older brother of Grant Ward (Brett Dalton). After an attack on the U.N. by HYDRA agents posing as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Senator Ward is fast-tracking a bill which will give all nations a license to kill a S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel around the world. The general gist of the entire episode is Bobbi Morse (Adrian Palicki), Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) and Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) go to learn more about the weapons these faux-S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are using while Director Coulson (Clark Gregg) tries to strike a deal with Senator Ward about dropping the bill for custody of his brother.
My girlfriend introduced me to a little show on USA called "White Collar," that was my first experience watching Tim DeKay as a performer. I have loved every episode of "White Collar" and I find DeKay extremely talented. The character of Senator Christian Ward is nothing like the character he plays on "White Collar." There is a ruthless determination to his character's motives, and I am still trying to decipher who will be the bigger manipulative character, Christian Ward or Grant Ward. DeKay displays great energy and chemistry opposite of Clark Gregg, and I hope we lots more Senator Ward, even though this episode pretty much confirms that more is coming.
There are some more good moments between Fritz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). It seems through what has been happening for these two characters personally, Fritz and Simmons are beginning to become more and more interesting. There is a friction that is beginning to rub onto this once bubbling friendship. Fritz blames Simmons for leaving him, even though she found it to be her duty. One thing is for sure from this episode, the dynamic between Fritz and Simmons won't be the same as season one, and that maybe a good thing. Adrian Palicki does great work as Bobbi Morse once again, proving that there is plenty of room for two badass chicks on this show. There is a great action scene at the end of the episode that weaves between a fight Agent May is having while Bobbi and Lance Hunter are fighting. I must also share that Palicki has wonderful chemistry with Nick Blood. I am starting to really dig Nick Blood, and it seems that Marvel and ABC are learning quickly from their mistakes of last season, they are making their new characters instantly interesting. That can only lead to some cool developments in the future.
There are a couple good things between Skye (Chloe Bennett) and Grant Ward. I will say that I am a little disappointed that Ward has escaped custody whatsoever and is once again at large. I knew in the back of my mind that this would happen, but that doesn't mean I wanted it to happen. I found Ward much more interesting as a Hannibal Lecter type character, but I am curious to see where his character goes from here and how this will affect Skye in the future.
Oh, and the exclusive scene for "Avengers: Age of Ultron?" We pretty much see all of the footage from the exclusive trailer that got leaked last week. There is a funny scene at the beginning where each Avenger is trying to lift Thor's hammer, while failing. But I laughed when Captain America came the closest to lifting the hammer. Other than that, its all the same. I did like the small glimpse into the "Agent Carter" mini-series we will see in January.
"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is definitely benefiting from being a "one story as series" show than a "Monster of the Week" show. I hope this keeps, because this is turning into better than good TV.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch is Doctor Strange

Meet the new Sorcerer's Supreme
The last time there was so speculation about a Marvel casting, it around 2009 and 2010. There was a laundry list of actors being courted for Captain America, ranging from John Krasinski to Mike Vogel to Ryan Phillippe. For such an important character to the Marvel pantheon, it seemed like the film would never be made. Ultimately, I feel Marvel made the right choice, even though I would not have said that five or six years ago.

Tonight, it has been reported that Benedict Cumberbatch will play Doctor Strange for Marvel. I am sure the Doctor Strange will appear just in time for Phase III. Cumberbarch comes after several actors were mentioned over the past five or so months now. When the prospect of a Doctor Strange film was offered, actors like Johnny Depp, Jon Hamm, Ethan Hawke, and Edgar Ramirez were in the rumor mill.

I like Cumberbatch a lot. After 2013, and after "Star Trek Into Darkness" and "The Hobbit," it seems Cumberbatch is being embraced by the mainstream. I have absolutely no problem with that, because I love Cumberbatch. I just feel he was a very safe choice. How can someone not see Cumberbatch playing a mild-mannered, American Harry Potter? Marvel has been successful enough that they can start taking chances, and I believe they have casting people like Chris Pine and Paul Rudd for their films. I just wish we could see more of that.

But I also understand the need to cast Cumberbatch. Doctor Strange doesn't have the popularity that Captain America, Spiderman or Hulk does. Doctor Strange is an unknown for the general public, and you can't necessarily cast an unknown to play an unknown. You need somebody to help break the character out. Iron Man has become a Marvel stock character, but he certainly wasn't there back in 2008. The acting power of Robert Downey Jr launched Iron Man to superstardom and the same can be done for Doctor Strange by Cumberbatch.

Who is excited by the casting of Cumberbatch? I am certainly ready to see this movie now.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Essentials- "The Invisible Man" (1933)

The Essentials-#80
The Invisible Man
Its amazing that we live in a world full of rich horror films of all types. But in a world full of color, it can be hard to remember what came before. Not only that, but it can be equally hard to remember just how effective those early days really were.

"The Invisible Man" was one of the earliest Universal Monsters the famous studio created. It was based upon a novel by H.G. Wells, who also wrote The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and War of the Worlds. While the last three films are sunk deep in the realm of science fiction, "The Invisible Man" works best as a horror film. A dark reminder of what science experimentation can do to a person and how they can be corrupted. The film was made in the early 1930's, which means it may not be as haunting to the casual horror fan. Still, there is some material that I find majestically creepy.

Take a look at the picture above, that is actually a pretty realistic looking invisible man. With today's technology, we can make an effective invisible person in a snap. But this was 1933, they didn't have the Skywalker ranch, they didn't have WETA. How Universal studios were able to make such an effective looking invisible person is beyond my rational thought. This great look is persistent the entire movie long. I am in deep awe of how well it looked. "The Invisible Man" was not the only Unviersal movie to feature true movie magic, there are several films from that era that played with our senses in way that was fun and thrilling.

I was also taken aback by how the film makes winter weather scary. Usually when we think of winter weather, we think Christmas. When we think of Christmas we think of family, friends, loved ones, snowmen, hot chocolate, presents, and giving. These are all widely positive concepts. Yes, winter weather is a bitch, but it also fills me up with happy thoughts. When I am watching a horror movie, happy thoughts are the last thing I feel I am going to think of. But "The Invisible Man" nearly tarnishes that psychic norm I had in my head for a very long time. How the film uses weather in the film is both astonishing and terrifying in equal measure.

I can't get too much further into this review without pointing out the extraordinary performance by Claude Rains. Claude Rains was like a Tom Hanks or a Tom Cruise of his time, putting his unique signature on an entire host of big, memorable roles. Claude Rains is absolutely fascinating in this role. He is gripping, funny and horrifying all at the same time. He has a maniacal laugh that will get under your skin and have you cheering at the same time. For this film to work, there needed to be an actor who could make this role his own and make something special out of it. I think Claude Rains did that and more with the role.

In the mood for some old school? Look no further than "The Invisible Man"

Overlooked Film of the Week- "Sinister" (2012)

Overlooked Film of the Week-#80
It seems that fantasy novels and superheroes have literally overshadowed all over types of franchises in our world. I hope the "Fast and Furious" franchise and keep itself brewing into the foreseeable future, as something needs to keep things diverse in the world of major franchises. Back in the 1980's, it seemed the horror genre dominated the franchise landscape. The "Nightmare of Elm Street" series put New Line on the map in a way they probably never grasped, and that spawned more movies than I can count. As did the "Friday the 13th" series and the "Child's Play" series and the "Texas Chainsaw" series. If you can pick one horror film from the 1970s and 1980s out of a hat, most likely, it belongs to some type of franchise. Even in the future we still had a taste of that in the forms of "Scream," "Saw" and "Paranormal Activity."
I only bring this up because of "Sinister" a spooky, bone-chilling horror film that came out a few years ago and shocked my mind completely. It is amazing how a film that deals in the realm of the supernatural can still be relevant and creepy in a world which demands realism. It is also a flashback to the eerie snuff movies of the 1960s and 1970s that left lasting impressions on me as a viewer. The film's main villain, Mr. Boogie is a masterful creation and in time could rank up there with characters like Chucky, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface if done right.
The film opens with an unapologetically terrifying scene of a 8mm video showing a family being hung from a tree. The use of an 8mm camera only elevates the slow-burn horror of this family being slowly hung. Once the family finally dies, the word Sinister is plastered across the screen. At this point, my heart was already racing, and I was ready for whatever was coming next.
The film follows Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), a struggling crime writer who moves his family into a new house. Ellison is keeping a secret, he knows the house used to be a crime scene, and he wants to draw inspiration from the house in order to write a book that will get his writing career back on track. Oswald discovers a box full of 8mm videos and all of them are of gruesome murders. These murders are just as terrifying as the family getting hung and that particular video is in the bundle as well. Oswald does research after discovering the same freaky face in all of the videos and comes to the conclusion of a Babylonian demon who possesses children is behind the murders. How will Oswald protect his children?
What makes "Sinister" a memorable horror film isn't just the creepy 8mm videos, but the children as well. What is it about children that makes them so horrifying for horror movies? Clare Foley and Michael Hall D'Addario play Oswald's children in the movie, and they both do exceptional work as the creepy kids. Unlike most horror movies, they give these children a personality while also making them undeniably freaky. In the case of acting, I was once again impressed by the work by Ethan Hawke, who remains one of the best underrated actors ever. I also like Vincent D'Onofrio's appearance as an expert on the occult.
As October wraps up, look for this little gem quickly!

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Judge Review

The Judge Review
A drama film which features two leading performances by Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall. Sounds like a big ball of awesome, doesn't it? That is surely what it sounded like to me. Add Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Billy Bob Thorton,  Dax Shepherd, Leighton Meester, Balthazar Getty, David Krumholtz, Melissa Leo and Grace Zabriskie and you have a recipe for success. Watching Downey Jr.'s resurrection in 2008 was incredibly welcoming and it seemed like he has been his old self since then. Even at such an old age, he would never star in a movie that his younger self would have laughed at, right? This entire cast of remarkable actors would no better than to star in an overlong, clichéd, laughable mess, right?
I am honestly shocked by what I am about to right. So much to the point that I can only hope that I can due justice to the words I am putting to blogosphere right now. I am wildly curious to see how others have reacted to this film. This is a movie I would never have thought Downey Jr. nor Duvall would ever in a million years make. Both of these actors are better than this, in fact, this entire cast is better than this. "The Judge" is a Greatest Hits CD of all your favorite courtroom and family dramas put into one movie. It is cliché after cliché to absolutely no avail. It is a movie that tugs on your heart strings for the sake of tugging on them. Not because it has something thought-provoking to offer, not because it tells a great story well, it just simply wants your eyes to water. I guess it is built this way in hope that the casual audience member can smell the steaming pile of crap "The Judge" really is.
Robert Downey Jr. plays Hank Palmer, a ruthless lawyer in Chicago who stereotypically defense the bad guys, because that is cool in Hollywood in all. Watching the opening scene alongside David Krumholtz, I knew something was immediately off. Basically, if you ever wondered what Tony Stark would be like if his parents never got murdered, and he became a lawyer instead of a superhero, that's Hank Palmer. It seems Downey Jr. has suddenly slipped into self-parody for this movie. He looks good in his defense attorney suits, he's wisecracking, he's good-looking and he has an unbelievably creepy make-out session with Leighton Meester's character. He's his familiar persona, through and through, cranked up to a level that I didn't find appealing.
Hank Palmer is called back to his hometown of Carlinville, Indiana so that Hank can be at the funeral of his deceased mother. We meet Hank's brothers Glenn (D'Onofrio) and Dale (Jeremy Strong), we meet Hank's old flame (Farmiga) and we meet Hank's father Judge Joseph Palmer (Duvall). Joseph and Hank have not been close for many years, I know due to the fact that once Hank's comes home for the funeral, the film beats us over the head with that information for a solid half-hour. Once the funeral is over, Hanks hops back on a plane to Chicago, only having to turn around once blood is found on Joseph's car and he is accused of a hit-and-run. Hank knows his dad will need help, even though he was the most respected judge in their tiny community, and Hank swallows his pride to help him. While this is a juicy set-up, the back-and-forth just to get there was so tedious and felt as if the crew never hired an editor.
I think it is hard, even at this point in his career, for Robert Duvall to do bad in front of the camera. He gives a one-dimensional character as written unsuspecting life onscreen. Anytime Duvall was onscreen, my interest perked. I can also say that D'Onofrio and Farmiga's work is also quite strong, and they make the most out of the lazy moments in the script. The actors do what they can, but its the script that levels them. Billy Bob Thorton's Dwight Dickham is the lawyer trying to convict Joseph of First Degree Murder and his character is written so broadly that I thought I was watching a cartoon. Jeremy Strong does what he can with Dale, a "slow" member of the Palmer family, but after Robert Downey Jr's monologue speech from "Tropic Thunder," its odd that he even signed on to do this.
It is tough to sit through a courtroom drama trying to be impressing when it feels so ordinary and plastically. There is a scene involving Downey Jr. and Duvall arguing during a tornado storm that seem so ridiculous that I had a hard time believing it was written in a script. There are enough endings in this movie to give "The Return of the King" a run for its money. And again, with the overlong feel of the movie, seriously where was the editor. I feel like this film could have at least run smoother with some editing involved.
It's hard to watch actors you cherish so much sign on to do a movie this bad. What was everybody thinking? What draws actors to Teflon fluff like "The Judge?" Are they drawn to the ordinary predictability? Do they find it heartwarming? I will never understand, but each of them would have been better off skipping this one, as will the audience.

V/H/S: Viral Review

V/H/S: Viral Review
I have been a massive fan of "V/H/S" and "V/H/S/2," I tell everybody who will listen about it. These two horror films are thrilling, intense, and utterly bone-chilling. I love that this is a franchise that took found-footage (a gimmick becoming excessively annoying onscreen) and mixed it with anthology (something that has never really worked onscreen) and turned into something vibrant, something fresh and something horrifying. Each film pretty much works in the same format; a group of people end up in an abandon house full of televisions and videotapes, and the group searches through the video tapes, this wrap-around story as well as the videotapes make up the movies. It never sounds like something that should work, but the first two films work incredibly well. As I sat down to watch this third entry, I was ready and awaiting.
Before I get to much further in this review, let me just say that I totally get this movie. Some of you may mistake me for what I am about to say, but I totally get the movie. Fans of this series might find this entry odd due to the film not featuring televisions, VCR's and videotapes. The title of the film itself, "V/H/S: Viral" seems quite redundant. But basically, this third entry is a comment on our social media and videotaping culture.  Nowadays, it seems people are putting everything in record. It seems more people are willing to video tape something terrible happening instead of lending a helping hand, something that has been painfully present in our culture since the 1990's. "V/H/S: Viral" plays on that culture in big ways.
"V/H/S: Viral" has one of the best wrap-around stories in the entire series. I also liked that for the first time, it seems the wrap-around story and the miniature videos throughout the film, are all connected in some way. The entire film, wrap-around and all, take place in Los Angeles. As the film begins we see a boy taking several recordings of his girlfriend, and they have become close on camera. The boy wants to be the next big video sensation, and he is finally about to tape something that will put him on the map. A ice cream truck is speeding through Los Angeles, driving all throughout the city. Its not until the boy's girlfriend gets mysteriously kidnapped that he finally senses danger. Not only that, but some kind of countdown is going on with his phone and it shows the girlfriend. It is happening on several other cell phones across the city, which causes hemorrhaging to the viewers. The boy heads on by bike to find his girlfriend, while in pursuit, the mini-movies begin.
This is when the film starts to really fly off the rails. The first segment called "Dante the Great." follows a magician (Justin Welborn) who finds a mysterious cloak that gives him real magic powers. The only catch is that the magician has to give the cloak a sacrifice every once in awhile. I thought the segment was incredibly stupid and pointless. This was the fakest looking segment of the entire franchise. I couldn't help but notice that Welborn completely overacts the entire movie, making his character look like a giant cartoon. This segment, along with the other segments in the movie, are way too slick looking to be recorded by a handheld device. Plus, the climax of "Dante the Great" takes the segment into action territory, which was a huge mistake I thought.
The other segments, as well as "Dante the Great" tread the line between horror and comedy, which I downright hated in this movie. What made the first two films in the franchise great where that they were scary, very scary. There were moments in those films where I literally had to look away. With "V/H/S: Viral," I looked the whole time, and nothing forced me to look away. They went too comedic and too action-oriented instead of scary this time out, and it hurt the film in the long run.
The only good segment, I thought was "Bonestorm," a segment where skaters are trying to record big skateboarding moves, who end up on the Mexican boarder and right into the hands of a Mexican cult. The idea of being in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of creepy-looking occultists was enough to get under my skin. They could have made something effective with that set-up, but instead they go full video game action with the segment, and ruin it completely.
So yes, I get it. People always want to record everything they see, and an evil force is punishing them for it. It is a wonderful concept for a horror movie, and this time "V/H/S" got it all wrong in a disappointing offering to an otherwise awesome franchise. I really can't believe how bitter this one tasted. Everything about this film feels off, and I was sad how nothing about this entry was scary. There are some memorable images, but not much else.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My reaction to the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer

Well this is just a tad amazing that I am talking about this now instead of next week.

The first trailer for "Avengers: Age of Ultron," which was supposed to air next week during "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was leaked online last night. If you try to find now, there is a pretty good shot you won't find it anywhere at all. It is interesting living in a time where so much can be readily available for us, and how that can be a good or bad thing.

I have watched the trailer for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" quite a few times already. I brought my IPad into work today, just so I could show my Kindergarteners the trailer before it got taken down for good. We ended up watching it several times just within the first hours of day. Not a bad way to begin a Thursday geeking out with a bunch of four and five-year-olds. So I have watched the trailer a lot, and I feel I have soaked up quite a few details.

I absolutely love the "No Strings On Me" rendition in the trailer. If you know your Disney movies, you will know that song is from "Pinocchio." In that movie and fairy tale, Pinocchio is created by Geppetto and Pinocchio wants to be a real boy. In "Age of Ultron," Tony Stark will invent the Ultron robot. I wonder if the movie will play like a warped, perverted version of "Pinocchio." It would be an interesting way to parallel advertising with the film itself.

There is a scene in the trailer where one of the first versions of Ultron is stumbling out of a dark room and confronting the Avengers. We clearly see Iron Man, Captain American, Rhodey, Thor, Hulk and Hawkeye in the shot. There are also three women in the shot, one is clearly Black Widow and I have a safe bet that another is Maria Hill. Who is the mysterious woman standing next to Thor? Could it be Jane Foster? Maybe, but there is no evidence anywhere that Natalie Portman will be in this movie. Could it be Evangeline Lily's character from Ant-Man? Maybe, but I don't see any evidence on her either. Could Jane Foster be recast? Maybe, Portman was never big on starring in these movies in the first place, and perhaps her contract with Marvel has expired. This mysterious third woman is intriguing, and perhaps we could be getting a surprise guest from the comics that will wow us in the movie.

We get a quick glimpse of Andy Serkis's character. If you know what Serkis looks like, you know its him. Serkis doesn't seem to be playing any sort of motion-captured character, so the big question is, who is he playing? They wouldn't sign somebody like Serkis to be a throwaway character no Marvel geek has heard of. Telling by his hairstyle and goatee in the trailer, my guess is he is playing Ulyesses Klaw, a villain in the Marvel universe. I wonder if we will be getting an extra villain in this movie, or if they are preparing the character for the future, or if I am way off.

The shots of Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armor were OUTSTANDING, as were the glimpses of Hulk fighting Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armor. I have to admit that I am not crazy about Quicksilver's movements in the trailer, and I have to say that I prefer the movements of Evan Peter's version of the character from "X-Men: Days of Future Past." Maybe they will look different in the next seven months, and I kind of hope they do. What sealed the deal for the trailer though, was the voice of James Spader. He is going to absolutely rock as Ultron.

What were your thoughts on the trailer? I'd love to hear what everybody else thought.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dracula Untold Review

Dracula Untold Review
This week, when I wrote about the superhero movie bubble possibly bursting soon, I had no idea just how much of an impact the subgenre has had on the cinematic market.

"Dracula Untold" blends history, gothic horror and superhero genres into one bombastic movie. It has also been no secret for past few months that Universal is planning to create a Universal Monsters franchise, in the same vein of what Marvel is doing and what DC is going to do with their respected superheroes. If "Dracula Untold" is any indicator, this Universal Monsters shared universe is a horrid miscalculation and should be corrected immediately. Sometimes, what works for one or two companies doesn't really work for every company. It seems that Universal may learn that the hard way.

Let's back up a little bit though. As I watched this film unfold, I was kind of taken aback. I was actually shocked how much I was intrigued by the start of it. I liked that Luke Evans was playing a fictional version of Vlad III Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler. This is the man who Bram Stoker based his famous vampire on. Vlad III was charged with keeping Christianity a free-willing and faithful practice in Eastern Europe and that meant doing battle against the Ottoman Empire. Yes, Vlad had a knack for impaling his enemies as well, which how he became the famous candidate for our famous vampire friend. History has been put parallel with fictional stories before, I have seen great examples (X-Men: First Class), I have seen crazy examples (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and I have seen horrible examples (Robin Hood, 2010).

I was amazed in the first half of "Dracula: Untold." I was amazed just by how charming Luke Evans is becoming as an actor. I was amazed by how I was drawn into the story of a man protecting his kingdom from the rising Sultan of Turkey. I was amazed by the grotesque weirdness of the beings (the leader is played by Charles Dance from "Game of Thrones!") Luke Evan's Vlad finds in a cave, the very beings who transform him into a vampire. I loved Dominic Cooper's portrayal of Mehmed II, who challenges Vlad for his kingdom. Cooper seems to really relish the times when he plays a villain, just check out "The Devil's Double" if you disbelieve. There is some cool atmosphere and cool costumes in the first half. I sat there waiting for a reason to hate this movie on the level that so many other critics have.

Then it hit me, around the time Vlad leaves the cave. Dracula's apparent unknown origin is that he became a superhero in the vein of "Underworld" in order to protect his kingdom from an invading force. The entire movie plays like a big superhero movie. It features a shameless rip-off of showing us a struggle, showing us how an ordinary man obtains extraordinary powers, and then the big, epic finish. The film follows every superhero cliché in the book, and it uses just about every visual cliché in the book (the film begins with a nice battle in slow motion.) Despite the good start, good performances and great energy, my appetite for this entry quickly waned as I realized the inevitable.

I was also quite shocked by just how xenophobic the film really was. I understand that Vlad the Impaler fought off the Ottoman Empire, which mainly consisted of Turks. I understand that the Turks are the villains in this film simply based on history. I get all of that. I just don't understand the need create such overdone features on the bad guys, it felt like I was watching a new-age minstrel show during some parts. Add in some over-stylized battle scenes, and it feels like Universal really overstepped some boundaries here.

It is hard when you feel like a movie will fail, then it shows you a glimmer of hope, only to let you down again. This is exactly what I got with "Dracula: Untold." While Universal brings back some of the great mood and gothic atmosphere that made Dracula great, it also shoehorns in an unwanted history lesson while also creating a bigoted "Underworld meets Van Helsing" movie. It was something I felt very sad about.


Who Played It Best? Jack Torrance


The Shining has always been one of my absolute favorite Stephen King stories, and I hope that says something as I am a King-o-maniac. I have seen the 1980 Stanley Kubrick film with Jack Nicholson and I saw the television mini-series with Steve Webber (from the hit 90's show "Wings"). Since I have begun to delve into the world of television on this blog, I think it is safe to have them double-dip on this column now.
For those of you who haven't had a chance to see either versions of this story, or if you haven't read the book, let me give you a quick rundown. A man named Jack Torrance is a man haunted by his past, and as a way for himself and his family back on track, Torrance takes a caretaking job, taking care of a hotel over the winter. During his interview, Torrance learns that the hotel has some horrific history (to say the least), but he is desperate for a new path, and he takes the job. The history begins to slowly catch-up with Torrance and begins to torment him. It also torments his young son Danny, who happens to have psychic powers (which makes the torments that much worse). That is the story in a nutshell without giving too much away. Essentially it is a classic haunted house story which happens to feature the boy from "The Sixth Sense" (The Shining came first, mind you). As you could probably tell from the pictures above, playing the role of Jack Torrance takes a little bit of crazy. Mixing a crazy guy into a troubled yet loving father who is trying to piece his family back together, and you get a character who is more complex than originally thought. So did the silver-screen treatment or the mini-screen treatment do the character justice?
My Two Cents
Several Stephen King purists like to take a dump all over Stanley Kubrick's movie. Yes, Kubrick's film is nothing close to the book, but man does Jack do many great things in the role. I think he has a perfect blend of family man and crazy person and his slow-burn decent into madness is so aspiring to watch unfold. I certainly think that Nicholson fit the bill of the context that Kubrick tried to set with his film. On the other hand, the mini-series is quite a bit longer and is much truer to the book. Steve Webber may not be Crazy Jack, but he brings a complexity to the role that the character needs. I think the fact that Webber just looks like a "family man" and that gave him an edge Nicholson never had. I also think Webber delivered a complexity the character severely needs for it to work. As much good as Nicholson did, it seems the script hurried his character development up a bit, while the mini-series allowed for the character to breathe a bit. I understand how legendary Nicholson is, I have loved and respected Nicholson for my entire life, even when everyone wasn't in his corner. With that said, I can't help but believe that Webber was the right actor for the role of Jack Torrance, even if he wasn't the best choice.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comment section below or email me your votes ( You have until next week to vote.
The best Exorcist in the world took a shot last week in this column. The results are in and here is how it all shook out.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Neighbors Review

Neighbors Review
I can't believe that I have been out of college for almost two years now. Even though I had to add a second semester to my senior year, essentially becoming a super-senior, I can't believe how fast it went. I used to think it was weird to consider myself an adult, but I don't believe that much anymore. The way I acted in college is not exactly how I live my life anymore. I am not a total shut-in either, I am 25, I am not old. Those pockets of mind-loss occur much further and in-between, which is not like they used to. But on a Friday night, after a long week at work, I find myself happy just to sit on the couch and not do anything. It surprises me how so many of my friends agree, and when we do go out, it is equally surprising how late we don't stay out.
"Neighbors" a dirty, raunchy comedy. It will most likely be hailed as a new comedic classic, instantly quotable and instantly recognizable. It is a raunchy comedy that keeps its mind dirty throughout the entire running time. It isn't a movie that all of sudden grows a conscience. It is not a movie that all of sudden turns into a life lesson at the drop of a dime. Too many times in the history of comedies, the film will drop everything and add a thought-provoking message right at the third act. "Neighbors" doesn't do this, but what surprised me was that a thoughtful message was laced within the movie throughout.
Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are college sweethearts, a young couple who has recently had their first child. They are slowly but surely adjusting to the life of being a parent, which is turning out to be harder than they thought. To complicate things further, the Delta Psi Beta fraternity moves into the house next door. Mac and Kelly are still young, and they are striving to be the cool parents. They go next door and meet Teddy (Zak Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) who are the President and Vice President of the fraternity. They come to an agreement about keeping the noise level down for Mac and Kelly's baby and try to treat each other with respect.
Obviously, that doesn't last very long. The trust bond between Mac and Kelly and the Delta Psi Beta destructs quickly, and a turf war of sorts is on the horizon. What begins as a harmless prank soon becomes something that could become fatal. Mac and Kelly work overtime to get the Delta's on probation and the Delta's try to get the couple and their baby to move elsewhere. Basically, that is the story, and had that been  the entire movie, I would be pretty bored. In fact, for the first half-hour or so, I kind of felt board. I have seen several cat-and-mouse comedies in the past, and they all run on the same template. I wanted something more this time out, and for a moment, I thought I wouldn't get it.
Even though "Neighbors" is a gut-busting comedy and an impeccably dirty movie, "Neighbors" real thematic purpose is to study anxiety. Teddy is an individual who is obsessed with partying, so much so that he barely studies. There seems to be burden of what will happen once the school year is over and what will come next. In an odd way, Teddy parallels Mac and Kelly. Mac and Kelly are trying hard to move into parenthood, but it is no easy feat. Trying not to cross the line between living in the party and being responsible could not be harder. This theme hit me like a tons of bricks, because that was me not too long ago. I felt uneasy about going into the big world, but my outstanding support group made me forget that quick. There are some things that still get under my skin, but I feel I handle myself well. I was very taken aback by how relevant and how realistic the themes of "Neighbors" truly were.
This is the best Zak Efron movie you will ever see. Bar none. He seems completely unleashed by what has been written for him, and finally, it seems he has come-of-age. I think I will be more confident when someone hires Efron from now on and that is something I never thought I would think. It also helps that he has a perfect wing-man in the form of Dave Franco. Right away, I think I prefer Dave to his older brother. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne do incredible work as the couple. Rogen may be playing the same hyper character in every movie, but hey, he does it well. After a massive string of dramatic roles, I am continually amazed by just how funny Byrne is as a comic performer.
Keep an eye out for Ike Barinholtz, who plays a co-worker to Mac and becomes a co-conspirator against the fraternity. Keep an eye out for quick cameos by Andy Samberg, Jake Johnson, Lisa Kudrow, Adam DeVine and Blake Anderson. Enjoy the work by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jerrod Carmichael and Craig Roberts as the other frat boys. Most of all, get ready to laugh hard.

TV REVIEW: "AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D." (Episode 5, Season 2)

EPISODE 5, SEASON 2- "A Hen in the Wolf House"
It seems we can get used to the notion of nobody being as they seem from now on. I don't know if that came from "Captain America: the Winter Soldier" to this show, and if that will carry over into everything else Marvel makes in this universe. But it seems to be a deep theme of this show right now. So far, it is working really well.
Tonight's episode introduced Bobbi Morse (Adrianna Palicki), a HYDRA agent who has come to Simmons' (Elizabeth Henstridge) headquarters to sniff out a mole for HYDRA. Simmons is high on stress because of this, but she is handling herself pretty well. Even though it seems that Bobbi Morse is at her every move. Director Coulson (Clark Gregg) knows how much danger Simmons is in right now, yet he seems completely un-phased when Simmons' life is threatened. Why would Coulson not be threatened? Something that has always been clear in this show is that Coulson finds his team to be members of his family. When S.H.I.E.L.D. was threatened by HYDRA,  that bond grew in ways we could barely understand. So why is Coulson barely react when Raina (Ruth Negga) threatens to alert HYDRA of Simmons undercover if Coulson doesn't allow Raina to deliver Skye (Chloe Bennett) to her mysterious father?
Because Bobbi Morse was actually another undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. sent to spy on HYDRA. In the comics, Bobbi Morse became Mockingbird, a superhero who was a member of the Avengers. She would also become a partner to Hawkeye. Once Simmons cover is blown, Morse breaks Simmons out the HYDRA base and brings her back to Coulson's new S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. I have always had mixed feelings about Palicki as an actress. But I have to say that she does really good work as Bobbi Morse in this one episode and I excited to see how her characters moves on from here. She is not going by Mockingbird at all during this episode, and it seems that she is romantically involved with Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) at one point. I will be incredibly interested if Palicki ever appears in any of the movies, as Palicki has appeared in several films over the coarse of her career.
We also see more of Kyle MacLachlan's The Doctor, who is the father of Skye. It seems that he nearly desperate to connect back with Skye. We also learn that Skye is not her real name. This is all becoming incredibly fascinating, and it is beginning to send my geek Marvel mind into overdrive. It is hinted at that Skye maybe an alien, but what if she comes from another dimension? What if The Doctor is Mephisto or Dormammu or any of the other demons from the Marvel universe? I am overwhelmed by the possibilities that lay ahead of us.
I am also becoming intrigued by Ruth Negga this week. Her character is also becoming something that isn't a plastic cliché. It seems her loyalties fall with HYDRA and The Doctor, and it seems that those two loyalties are beginning to get her in trouble. I will be interested to see where her character goes from here and it seems Negga as an actress is becoming very capable. Another stand-out this week is Chloe Bennett as Skye, it seems getting a whiff of where she came from has caught her interest. Skye is ready to meet her dad, and since Coulson has been so distant recently, she needs a father figure more than ever. Skye is going to become more interesting in the future and I cannot wait to see how she materializes.
Things are getting crazy now, and I can't wait for next week. Especially since we get to see the first trailer for Age of Ultron appears next week. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Our Own Top 250 (Complete List)

This is the complete list of "Our Own Top 250." This was a list of favorite films created by my readers. There will be revote on the list annually starting next year. Here is the first list.

    250. "Monster's Inc." (2002)
    249. "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000)
    248. "Jackie Brown" (1997)
    247. "Big Trouble In Little China" (1986)
    246. "Steamboat Bill Jr." (1928)
    245. "Enter The Dragon" (1973)
    244. "Batman" (1989)
    243. "Run Lola Run" (1999)
    242. "Australia" (2008)
    241. "Home Alone" (1990)
    240. "The LEGO Movie" (2014)
    239. "Uncle Buck" (1989)
    238. "Harvey" (1950)
    237. "Battle Royale" (2000)
    236. "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977)
    235. "The Day The Earth Stood Still" (1951)
    234. "American Graffiti" (1973)
    233. "Eraserhead" (1977)
    232. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014)
    231. "Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984)
    230. "Spiderman 2" (2004)
    229. "The Red Balloon" (1956)
    228. "A Boy and His Dog" (1975)
    227. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (2011)
    226. "Up" (2009)
    225. "Gran Torino" (2008)
    224. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004)
    223. "District 9" (2009)
    222. "My Cousin Vinny (1992)
    221. "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988)
    220. "Platoon" (1986)
    219. "Oblivion" (2013)
    218. "JFK" (1991)
    217. "Beetlejuice" (1988)
    216. "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" (2010)
    215. "Julius Caesar" (1953)
    214. "The African Queen" (1952)
    213. "Sin City" (2005)
    212. "The Lost Boys" (1987)
    211. "The Departed" (2006)
    210. "Black Swan" (2010)
    209. "Gattaca" (1997)
    208. "Return of the Jedi" (1983)
    207. "The Prestige" (2006)
    206. "True Grit" (1969)
    205. "Time Bandits" (1981)
    204. "Gangs of New York: (2002)
    203. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2008)
    202. "The Untouchables" (1987)
    201. "Zombieland" (2009)
    200. "The Goonies" (1985)
    199. "Gremlins" (1984)
    198. "Avatar" (2009)
    197. "All The President's Men" (1976)
    196. "Koyaanisqatsi (1982)
    195. "Big" (1988)
    194. "Looper" (2012)
    193. "Paris, Texas" (1984)
    192. "Joe vs. The Volcano" (1990)
    191. "Breaking The Waves" (1996)
    190. "Django Unchained" (2012)
    189. "Three Colors: Red" (1994)
    188. "The Last Picture Show" (1971)
    187. "Evil Dead" (1987)
    186. "Out of Africa"(1985)
    185. "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas" (1998)
    184. "High Fidelity" (2000)
    183. "Traffic" (2000)
    182. "Brazil" (1985)
    181. "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (2001)
    180."Boys N Da Hood" (1991)
    179. "8 1/2" (1963)
    178. "Groundhog Day" (1993)
    177. "Akira" (1988)
    176. "Unforgiven" (1992)
    175. "Glory (1989)
    174. "Bicycle Thieves" (1948)
    173. "Conan The Barbarian" (1982)
    172. "West Side Story"(1961)
    171. "The Green Mile" (1999)
    170. "M" (1931)
    169. "Mad Max" (1979)
    168. "Mulholland Drive" (2001)
    167. "The Wild Bunch" (1969)
    166. "Casino" (1995)
    165. "The Avengers" (2012)
    164. "Dances With Wolves" (1990)
    163. "On The Waterfront" (1954)
    162. "Cool Hand Luke" (1967)
    161. "Hannah and her Sisters" (1986)
    160. "The Seventh Seal" (1958)
    159. "Dawn of the Dead" (1978)
    158. "Top Gun" (1986)
    157. "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989)
    156. "The Deer Hunter" (1978)
    155. "Dazed and Confused" (1993)
    154. "Amadeus" (1984)
    153. "The Birds" (1963)
    152. "The Princess Bride" (1987)
    151. "Once Upon A Time In America" (1984)
    150. "Withnail and I" (1987)
    149. "Dirty Harry" (1971)
    148. "The Crying Game" (1992)
    147. "New Jack City" (1999)
    146. "The Color Purple" (1985)
    145. "Modern Times" (1936)
    144. "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989)
    143. "The Sixth Sense" (1999)
    142. "The American President" (1995)
    141. "Shine" (1998)
    140. "Clerks" (1994)
    139. "Suspiria" (1977)
    138. "Aladdin" (1992)
    137. "Let The Right One In" (2008)
    136. "The Last of the Mohicans" (1992)
    135. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000)
    134. "Coming To America" (1988)
    133. "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"(1987)
    132. "Oldboy" (2003)
    131. "Shaft" (1971)
    130. "Lethal Weapon" (1987)
    129. "Vacation" (1983)
    128. "Friday" (1995)
    127. "Planet of the Apes" (1968)
    126. "Independence Day" (1996)
    125. "Peter Pan" (1953)
    124. "Dumbo" (1941)
    123. "There Will Be Blood" (2007)
    122. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939)
    121. "Grapes of Wrath" (1940)
    120. "Boogie Nights" (1997)
    119. "Rear Window" (1954)
    118. "The Shining" (1980)
    117. "King of Comedy" (1982)
    116. "Easy Rider" (1969)
    115. "Memento" (2001)
    114. "Dr. Strangelove" (1964)
    113. "Do The Right Thing" (1989)
    112. "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn" (1982)
    111. "Magnolia" (1999)
    110. "Dracula" (1931)
    109. "Network" (1976)
    108. "The Searchers" (1956)
    107. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937)
    106. "Das Boot" (1981)
    105. "Cinema Paradiso" (1988)
    104. "Full Metal Jacket" (1987)
    103. "The Sting" (1973)
    102. "Ferris Bueller's Day off" (1986)
    101. "The Dark Knight" (2008)
    100. "Killer of Sheep" (1979)
    99. "Metropolis"
    98. "Blazing Saddles" (1974)
    97. "The Usual Suspects" (1995)
    96. "Miller's Crossing" (1990)
    95. "A Christmas Story" (1983)
    94. "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948)
    93. "The Matrix" (1999)
    92. "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" (1988)
    91. "The Apartment" (1960)
    90. "True Grit" (1969)
    89. "Annie Hall" (1977)
    88. "The Gold Rush" (1925)
    87. "Heat" (1995)
    86. "12 Angry Men" (1957)
    85. "The Treasure of Sierra Madre" (1948)
    84. "Forrest Gump" (1994)
    83. "Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory" (1971)
    82. "One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest" (1975)
    81. "The Public Enemy" (1931)
    80. "The Philadelphia Story" (1940)
    79. "Bridge over River Kwai" (1957)
    78. "Die Hard" (1988)
    77. "Rebel Without a Cause" (1955)
    76. "The Exorcist" (1973)
    75. "The Manchurian Candidate" (1962)
    74. "Patton" (1970)
    73. "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938)
    72. "King Kong" (1933)
    71. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977)
    70. "The Blues Brothers" (1980)
    69. "Ben-Hur" (1959)
    68. "My Left Foot" (1989)
    67. "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" (1967)
    66. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975)
    65. "Alien" (1979)
    64. "Rio Bravo" (1959)
    63. "Goldfinger" (1964)
    62. "Field of Dreams" (1989)
    61. "The General" (1926)
    60. "The Breakfast Club" (1985)
    59. "Scarface" (1983)
    58. "Back to the Future" (1985)
    57. "True Romance" (1993)
    56. "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967)
    55. "Good Will Hunting" (1997)
    54. "Kids" (1995)
    53. "Grease" (1978)
    52. "Psycho" (1960)
    51. "The Graduate" (1967)
    50. "Its a Wonderful Life" (1946)
49. "Chinatown" (1974)
48. "North of Northwest" (1959)
47. "Double Indemnity" (1944)
46. "Animal House"(1978)
45. "Blue Velvet" (1986)
44. "Taxi Driver" (1976)
43. "The Seven Samurai" (1954)
42. "American Beauty" (1999)
41. "Manhattan" (1979)
40. "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991)
39. "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
38. "The Lion King" (1994)
37. "The Terminator" (1984)
36. "Raging Bull" (1980)
35. "Fargo" (1996)
34. "Some Like It Hot" (1959)
33. "Toy Story" (1995)
32. "Star Wars" (1977)
31. "Jurassic Park" (1993)
30. "Ghostbusters" (1984)
29. "The Maltese Falcon" (1941)
28. "Gone with the Wind" (1939)
27. "E.T." (1982)
26. "The Big Lebowski" (1998)
25. "Jaws" (1975)
24. "The Godfather" (1972)
23. "Rocky" (1976)
22. "Bringing Up Baby" (1938)
21. "Goodfellas" (1990)
20. "Saving Private Ryan" (1998)
19. "Vertigo" (1958)
18. "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962)
17. "Schindler's List" (1993)
16. "Fight Club" (1999)
15. "A Clockwork Orange" (1972)
14. "Apocalypse Now" (1979)
13. "Duck Soup" (1933)
12. "Blade Runner" (1982)
11. "To Kill A Mockingbird' (1962)
10. "Young Frankenstein" (1974)
9. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1982)
8. "Empire Strikes Back" (1980)
7. "The Wizard of Oz" (1939)
6. "Pulp Fiction" (1994)
5. "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994)
4. "The Godfather Part II" (1974)
3. "2001" (1968)
2. "Casablanca" (1942)
1. "Citizen Kane" (1941)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Essentials- "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974)

The Essentials-#79

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
There are very few films that I have seen in the horror genre that kept me up at night. I am a horror movie junkie, I watch them from all cultures and all countries. I feed on every aspect of the Halloween culture. Sometimes, I feel because of the horror films I watch and me being a favorite of this time of year, I have become desensitized to all things horror. 

I remember I was a freshman in high school the first time I saw the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." At first, I was ready to write it off as another slasher film. There were cliched parts in the movie, there were strange parts of the movie, and there were parts where you won't be able to help the laughter. There are several moments however, that plunge you in macabre. There are moments that will sear themselves into your psyche, unwilling to let go of your thoughts. I thought about the film all night once I got home from my friend's house that night, and I was kept up all night by what I had seen. 

When I was a junior in high school, I hosted my first big Halloween party. I remember I dressed up as the mayor of Halloweentown from "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and all of my good friends dressed up too. Being the movie person that I am, I have always been a showman when it comes to parties and I really wanted to see how my best friends would react to the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." I can say with confidence that it really worked on most of my friends, and being able to sit next to my then crush and let her grip my hand tightly was icing on the cake.

At first glance, it feels like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is just like every other slasher film. Even though it was this original film that kicked off the sub-genre, I can understand why that would turn people off. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" follows a group of youths drive to see their relatives old house. One by one they venture next door to an older house, and one by one they are killed by a family of cannibals. The head killer is Leatherface (Gunner Jensen) who wears a mask made of skin and uses a chainsaw. What makes "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" different from the rest of the slasher films is how real it feels. This is definitely NOT a found footage movie, but there is an authentic feel in the whole film. Once you watch it, you don't know whether to be entertained or to call the police and report a crime.

Most of the actors in this film never went on to become big Hollywood stars, which only elevates the authentic feel of what you are watching. The family of cannibals that star in this film literally feel like the filmmakers found the craziest people they could and hired them for these roles. There is also something about the cinematography itself, it seems director Tobe Hooper found the oldest, worst camera he could find to shoot the film with. This only adds to the already realistic feel that grips the whole film. 

The film maybe a slasher film, there are some moments of genuine terror. The use of creepy music and silents works big time for this film. I absolutely love how Hooper uses these two items to affect. I love the absolute lunacy of the cannibal family. They have a genuine glee of what they are doing which is quite terrifying. 

There is quite a kick "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" offers and you should be apart of it.

Overlooked Film of the Week- "Toy Story of Terror" (2013)

Overlooked Film of the Week-#79

Toy Story of Terror
I think my favorite creation from Pixar is definitely "Toy Story." This collection of films punches me in the heart in a way their other films don't. I feel like that is saying something considering Pixar is known for putting hearts in a twist. Sometimes, when making movies so set on emotions, it can be hard to have fun, which is also something "Toy Story" has never had a real problem with creating. I find it fascinating how this trilogy of films can balance fun and emotionality in equal measure. 

Last year, Pixar put our favorite toys in the middle of a short film made specially for television. It came out in October specially for Halloween, called "Toy Story of Terror." "Toy Story of Terror" is all fun. A film that parodies the norms and cliches of horror movies while also playing by their rules. As a long time fan of horror, I was onboard every step of the way. I have been obsessed with all things "Toy Story" since I was five years old. Putting some of my favorite characters in the middle of the horror genre felt like a stroke of genius. It also helps that Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and all the other voice talent we have enjoyed over the years have return for this wonderful little film.

I love how the film begins with the toys are in the trunk of Bonnie, the little girl who obtained Andy's toys at the end of "Toy Story 3." As they are sitting in the trunk, they are watching a horror movie that is a weirdly funny mixture between "Dracula" and "Dawn of the Dead." As a fan of both those original fright films, I loved how the short was able to find a clever way to blend those two wildly different films into one parody. The toys are in the trunk because Bonnie and her mom are on some kind of unnamed trip and they suddenly get a flat tire. They pull into a shadowy motel where they will spend the night until the assistance can come in the morning to replace their tire. 

The toys are a little creeped out by the room they are to stay in for the night. But it gets way worse once the toys begin disappearing at the hands of...something in the shadows. Each disappears until there is only Jesse (Joan Cusack) left and it is up to her to discover what happens to her friends. She aided by Combat Carl, voiced by Carl Weathers. Combat Carl is easily one of the best characters in the short, and it is a shame Pixar didn't make him up until now. The action figure looks like Weathers from "Predator," and he has much of the funny dialogue. It seems whatever this unknown force is, it kidnaps toys and Combat Carl plans to help Jesse help her friends.

Even though "Toy Story of Terror" is tons of fun, I loved that it was able to squeeze a timely message in its dense less-than-thirty minute running time. The genius of Pixar shows, loud and clear and it is proof that "Toy Story" has always been Pixar's greatest creation. I also love how this doesn't feel like a typical "Toy Story" movie. Woody and Buzz are not the big heroes of this story, it is Jesse who overcomes an overwhelming dilemma in order to save her friends. I love that the film revolved around a different character and was still able to put a sincere story underneath the fun.

If you missed "Toy Story of Terror" this week on ABC, go out and get it on DVD or Blu-Ray. Definitely worth a watch this October.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Superhero Movies: Will the "Bubble" Burst Soon?

This week alone has been huge for the future game-plans for both Marvel and DC. While DC showcased their official schedule of films in their official DC Cinematic Universe, Marvel announced that Robert Downey Jr. will appear in "Captain America 3" and it seems that perhaps Marvel has several more event films up their sleeves besides a two-part "Avengers 3." film. None of it is particularly surprising at this point. Ten years ago, it was a big deal when our favorite superheroes started showing up on the big-screen. Even though we had superheroes on the big screen as early as 1978, the superhero movie really got popular after 2000 and 2002. Hollywood saw just how gigantically successful "X-Men" and "Spiderman" were and thus spawned a new deal in Hollywood: "If it makes money, oversell the shit out of it."

This is not just happening in the superhero genre, after "Lord of the Rings" opened huge, just about every movie based on a teen fantasy novel series is being adapted for the big screen now. It is both a curse and a blessing that Hollywood has adopted this business model, for a very simple reason, for every good movie, there is at least two bad movies. After the success of both "X-Men" and "Spiderman," Hollywood began greenlighting superhero films like crazy, as did DC. Can anyone remember the superhero films that came out between 2002 and 2008, or did you completely wipe them from your memories? Here, I'll remind you, "Daredevil," "Hulk," "Elektra," "Ghost Rider," "Superman Returns," "Fantastic Four," "Spiderman 3," these films just did not have the same impact that "X-Men" and "Spiderman" did, and even though we got a "X2," "Spiderman 2" and "Batman Begins" between those years, it was clear that the studios wanted our money, and did seem to care much about the quality of their pictures.

In 2008, that all changed, and the studios began to work harder to make movies that would make money and be overwhelming for the audiences. Putting the Avengers hook into fanboys was a genius move in 2008, but so was making something as epic as "The Dark Knight." Suddenly in 2008, superhero movies were not just event films anymore, they became a business. While we still get a bad superhero movie every once in awhile, the trend has been pretty good so far. But some people are starting to worry that this could change quick.

I should not say that "Hollywood's new deal" was new. Hollywood does this every few decades, if  something sells well, every studio will join in and create a river of profit. Just look at the Western genre today, while some artists are working tooth-and-nail to revive it, the Western genre has faded out. That seems mostly due to the over-abundance of Western films from the 1950's to the 1970's. That is a lot of time to make several Westerns and its easy to see how audiences could have got burned out by them. This makes me sad, as I feel the Western is our country's mythology. Cowboys are for America as samurai are for Japan. The Western explains us as Americans and for everyone else they are unique fables. I wish more Westerns were getting made, but when they do, they seldom do well and it seems the repercussions of over-saturation still live on. The same can be said about the gangster movie after the 1920's and 1930's. Yes, tons of gangster movies came afterward and many of them are popular now. But gangster movies are far and in-between, which in my opinion is good.

Many people think the same thing is about to happen with superhero movies. It seems that very soon after a decade or two of five superhero movies per year, audiences are beginning to become burned-out. Even Robert Downey Jr. said himself that superhero movies are getting old. When actors are saying it themselves, it hard not to raise an eyebrow at this ordeal. But Marvel has laid out for us that its cinematic universe may not be going anywhere anytime soon. On the other side of the coin, DC has announced that they have several movies planned each year until 2020. I also have to add that none of this includes "Spiderman" at Sony, "X-Men" with Fox, "Fantastic Four" getting rebooted, "Deadpool" and anything else that may slip through the radar. All of this begs the question: Will the superhero movie bubble burst soon? Will audiences get so overly-saturated with superhero movies that the subgenre becomes unpopular? It would be sad if did, especially since Marvel and DC have laid out some pretty ambitious groundwork for their futures this week. A lot is riding on "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice," and if DC and WB are serious about their schedule, then their World's Finest film has to hit audiences. Sure, its going to have a big opening weekend, its the two most iconic superheroes sharing the big screen for the first time, but the momentum can drop if the film is bad. If that momentum does drop, then DC will second guess this schedule they have worked so hard to put together. Despite being a Marvel boy, I do wish DC best, and it is cool to finally see some different competition within this sub-genre.

As for Marvel, well they have been off-and-running since 2008, carefully and systematically creating a cohesive shared universe of movies. They have worked really hard to get there, and if DC begins to steal the lime-light from them, Marvel should still be incredibly happy with what they have accomplished. They have changed what can be done with filmmaking (Seriously, I hear that Universal wants a "Universal Monsters" universe of films, and that King Arthur and Robin Hood are next to have their own shared universe franchises too) and nothing can take away what they have achieved, not even Ben Affleck or Henry Cavil. The thing is, whatever this big story Marvel has planned, I want it to be fulfilled. I want them to finish what they have started, and if this cinematic bubble bursts, nobody may be able to see that conclusion.

Am I crazy or am I on to something? I really want to hear what people have to say about this. Are we reaching a critical saturation point with this sub-genre or is it a genre built to last? Honestly, I don't know, I can personally do with five superhero movies a year, but I obviously don't speak for everybody. So what are you thinking?


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Annabelle Review

Annabelle Review
Last year, I saw and reviewed a film called "The Conjuring" and I loved it. I loved the movie because it took a classic formula and breathed new life into it. It was a near-perfect example of creepy atmosphere and incredibly trembling mood. It had great actors taking their characters seriously and placed behind a wonderfully eerie soundtrack. "The Conjuring" worked because it did exactly what it wanted to do, it didn't hold anything back and it didn't become something it wasn't. Even though we have seen countless haunted house movies, "The Conjuring" looked like an original.
I wish I could say the same thing about "Annabelle," which is supposed to take place in the same universe of "The Conjuring."
"Annabelle" is a miss in nearly every category. For one reason, it doesn't feel original, it feels like pieces of thousands of other horror movies. The musical scores in the film sound exactly like the music from the "Insidious" movies. The moments with the doll feel like they are from the Talking Tina episode of "Twilight Zone." There are moments that will remind you of "The Ring," "Suspiria" and "The Shining." What results is that "Annabelle" feels like an anthology of many other horror movies, but it never becomes its own movie. When the movie is working overtime to hit a bunch of stale horror queues, it is hard to really sit back and enjoy the movie.
The next big issue I had with the movie was it didn't match the mood and atmosphere that made "The Conjuring" such a great horror movie. Sure, I understand that variety is key in Hollywood, I understand that not each film in a series needs to be similar, but this just feels like it wants to be similar to "The Conjuring," but it ends up short. There is nothing moody about "Annabelle," there is nothing atmospheric about "Annabelle." The scares in "Annabelle" are cliché, they feel forced, they don't feel genuine in any form. That also makes the film a hard one to sit through.
The film revolves around John Form (Ward Horton) and Mia Form (Annabelle Walliss, haha I wonder how she got the part) who are expecting their first child. To prepare for the child, John buys a doll for their child. As you could probably imagine, John buys the creepiest doll he could find. As you could probably imagine, as Mia stays home to look after the baby, strange things start happening in the house, always while John is away. "Annabelle" is a giant familiar-fest. You can probably guess that John will eventually believe his wife. You can probably imagine that they will get a priest, and that there will be a big, supernatural finish. I could have been okay with a film that has covered familiar ground, happens all the time in this genre. But I just wish there was a little more heart and soul in this movie. I wish it created an undeniable mood that would have me shaken for weeks. There is a lot I wished with this film and "Annabelle" works to make sure this is a routine visit.
I don't know what I can say about "Annabelle" without sounding like a broken record. All I can say is that if you enjoyed "The Conjuring," you'll probably be bitterly disappointed by "Annabelle." If you want to have a good scare as Halloween comes up quick, you'll be bitterly disappointed. If you are for some reason looking for an engaging storyline with this movie, yeah you're not going to get it. "Annabelle" made me sad all around, and this could have been something.