Monday, February 29, 2016

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny Review

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny Review

I remember watching "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" a long time ago, sometime around 5th grade or so. I didn't see it in theaters, but my family rented it. I don't remember much of it, since I have only seen it once, but I do remember having a fond experience with it. I liked Michelle Yeoh and I liked Chow Yun-Fat. I remember also being pretty impressed with the wire-fu style of the movie. I like kung-fu movies in general. I have a small yet sturdy collection here at my home. I figured I should take a chance on this sequel, especially since I have been impressed with Netflix's original programming thus far. At the other end of the experience, I feel really wanting to see the first movie again.

At the beginning of the movie, we learn that it has been 18 years since the passing of Li Mu Bai, the character Chow Yun-Fat played in the first film. Since his passing, Marshall China is about to break wide open. There is a group of West Lotus' lead by Hades Dai (Jason Lee Scott) who plans to move through China for conquer and conquest. Before he starts his plundering, Hades plans to steal a 400-year-old sword known as The Green Destiny. This sword is prominent in the first film and it is said that whomever possesses the sword can not be beaten in virtually any type of combat. Yu Shu Lien (Yeoh) plans to protect the sword from falling into the wrong hands. She joined by a mysterious fighter named Silent Wolf (Donnie Yen), who puts together a rag-tag group to also help protect the sword. There is also a sub-plot involving a Hades follower Tiefang (Harry Chum Jr.) and how hunting for the sword changes his life, especially after meeting Yu Shu's student Snow Vase (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). 

With Michelle Yeoh returning and Donnie Yen being added to the roster, I figured this would be something that would feel like an instant classic. There are great performances by both Yeoh and Yen and some very kick-ass moments by both actors. I also loved the work done by Harry Chum Jr, most famous for his work on "Glee." Yes, that "Glee." Yes, he's the dancing Asian guy from the first few seasons and he's well cast here. A part of me would love to see Harry Chum Jr. play Liu Kang in an honest-to-God "Mortal Kombat" movie or show. I love how this movie feels like a comic book where each character is defined by the weapons they use, and there is certainly a colorful and creative atmosphere to the movie. A massive energy that is almost hard to shake.

But with most modern kung-fu movies, the flying around and the unearthly stunts can only go so far. In this sequel, I feel the movie almost out-does itself. Because the first movie used wiring for the flying, there was a much more realistic approach to the filming of the stunts. Here, everything is special effects. It has to be. There is an artificial flair to most of the movie that is so cheap that it took me out of the experience several times. The fight scenes just never live up to the amount of cool that kung-fu fans will be craving. It also doesn't help that there are several moments of tedium chit-chat, which really slow the momentum down. Sure, there is a lead to a big finish at the end, but even that doesn't feel like the epic final battle that I feel the movie wants it to be. The cheap, video-game look to the every visual in the movie really sticks out. It comes off awfully annoying.

There is a moment where Tiefang and Silent Wolf fight on a river of ice, and Tiefang is kicking sheets of ice at Silent Wolf, and Silent Wolf rightfully breaks them all down with his fierce kicks. I have come to expect such eye-popping scenarios in these movies. I just can't appreciate them when the CGI is so clearly bad. It is actually kind of hard to fathom that one mere detail is what is sending this movie so righteously downhill.

But there is a great cast of characters, and they hit some very good dramatic and humorous beats. It is easy to get wrapped up in the story and even enjoy most of the action scenes. There was just a raw energy to the first film that this sequel never achieves. It is merely a shadow of the first film, which sadly happens to lots of sequels. I also wonder that since this story hasn't been picked up in so long that there was just not a lot of momentum in the first place. I am starting to wonder if it really affects the outcome of a movie to not touch something for so long or let something go for years. I am noticing a trend, in both movies and TV, it is making me assume the worst for "Independence Day: Resurgence." Can there be any hope for sequels ten years in the making?

I don't know. But I will say that this movie does have a lot of heart, and for that, I kind of liked it.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Reaction to the 88th Academy Awards

Man, I did horrible with my predictions this year.

And I didn't know Joe Biden and Lady Gaga were best friends.

And I figured Stacey Dash wouldn't have shown her face in Hollywood after all the colorful things she's said in public the past month.

There is no denying it, this years Oscar ceremony was one for the books, for both good and bad reasons. There was quite a lot to like about this years ceremony, and some stuff that I feel they got wrong. It was definitely a colorful ceremony, full of gags that were dead on and others that fell completely flat.

I will say that overall Chris Rock did a good job as host and thank God he didn't skip this because of all the controversy that has spiraled around the ceremony. Chris Rock's opening monologue was dead on. This is exactly what I was trying to say last month when I weighed in on the OscarsSoWhite controversy. The problem isn't the Oscars, they are simply a reflection of the movie talent of each year. The real problem lies in Hollywood. Hollywood is not giving the black performers in the industry the opportunities to really muster and showcase their talent. Thank you Chris, thank you very much for saying it. Thank you for all your jabs at the Smith family and all their snootiness over the past month. I have to say all the race stuff got a little out of hand as the ceremony wore on. The black actors invading the movies up for Oscars this year was mediocre. But that skit where Chris Rock goes to Michigan was bad, and I do mean BAD. I get that he was trying to make a point, but sometimes the point can go south. There it went south. Overall, he was a good host.

I saw lots of people on social media not like "Mad Max: Fury Road" taking all the technical awards this year. But my God, I would ask those people if they actually saw the movie. "Mad Max: Fury Road" was a technical wonder. The movie is a fever dream somehow brought to life. There were things George Miller did in that movie that I still have a hard time seeing how he pulled off. Its an amazing experience and I get a sugar rush of a high every single time I watch it at home. It deserved everything it got tonight, and I was on cloud nine as the presenters kept calling the movie onto the stage.

I made my predictions right here earlier today. This is the first time in a long time that I scored under twenty categories. I guess that's a testament of just how strong a year 2015 really was. Sort of. I've discussed many times on this blog that the Academy is full of baggage and bias. Of course a movie about the end of child rape in the religious institutions would win best picture. Anything that has a strong social issue wins the big awards and this year was no different. I messed up on the short film categories, but every year I do. I never get a chance to see those so that isn't a surprise. But "Ex Machina" winning best Visual Effects? Man, nobody saw that coming. I can't stand the worst Bond song ever won the Best Song award, man that was surprising. Especially since Lady Gaga gave a surprising performance for a movie about rape on college campuses.

I am glad Leonardo DiCaprio finally won, I knew this would be his year and I am glad it was. Man he is a good public speaker and he delivered some of the very best speeches I have heard from anyone in any award season. So good for him. I am not all surprised by the rest of the night. Everybody knew it would ring out as it did. I am so glad about the big wins for "Mad Max." I am happy for Leo and Brie and Alicia. I am glad that "Hateful Eight" got the score. I am glade for Emmanuel Lubezski. I still can't believe "Cartel Land" didn't win best documentary, but oh well.

I can't wait to see the changes to the Academy and how that will effect history in the upcoming years. I am excited to see how the Academy changes in the face of this controversy. I only hope that people don't just get nominated simply based on their skin color. The Academy doesn't really have to change. Hollywood needs to give its black performers better opportunities, that's the real problem and I want you all to spread awareness of that fact, not simply boycott an awards show because of its representation of the year. The Academy doesn't make the movies, Hollywood does. Next year, I will have to be a little bit more mindful of my picks. Boy, there were a lot of upsets this year, winners I just did not see coming. Good for them though.

Now everybody is off to their parties, and this whole train starts again tomorrow. Can't wait to see what the rest of this year brings and how the nominations will shake out next year. But please, next year, no Stacey Dash.

What did everyone else think?

My 88th Academy Awards Predictions

Its that time of year again.

As always its time for me to make my predictions for winners for the Academy Awards. I have been edging closer and closer to getting a perfect 24/24 right. Will this be my year? We will have to wait and see.

I base my predictions on my gut feeling as well as some quick research. Sadly, I don't get to see everything in order to make some predictions, so I do that research so I can make the best case possible. While I did better last year that usual, I still didn't see any of the foreign titles up for the Oscars this year. With that said, "Son of Saul" has been on fire and I have heard nothing but great things about it, so I think "Son of Saul" will take it this year. These predictions aren't who I personally hope will win, because if I based them on that, then I'd rip all my hair out. My opinion is the opinion of 6,000 Oscar voters, and I know over the years that they bring their baggage and biases to the voting booth. They just do. These predictions for me are just a fun way of seeing how many I guess right, an attempt to get into the heads of the 6,000 Oscar voters. But I will recognize who I would give the golden statue to if I were in charge of the Oscars.

Here are my predictions:

*= Will Win

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant*

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Adam McKay, The Big Short
Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant*

Yep, Inarritu will be the first back-to-back Best Director winner since the 1950's.

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant*
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Its going to be Leo's year this year!

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room*
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed*

Mark Rylance could upset this category.

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl*
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

I saw "The Danish Girl," but didn't have time to review it. But I will say that Vinkander has had a great year and will get this Oscar.

Boy and the World
Inside Out*
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Embrace of the Serpant
Son of Saul*
A War

Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Straight Outta Compton

The Big Short*
The Martian

The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road*
The Revenant

Although Cinderella is a huge Dark Horse in this category.

 "Earned It" Fifty Shades of Grey
"Manta Ray," Racing Extinction
"Simple Song 3" Youth
"Till It Happens To You," The Hunting Ground*
"Writings on the Wall," Spectre

Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight*
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight For Freedom

It was a great year for documentaries, but I can't believe they are going to give it to Amy. Cartel Land should win.

Body Team 12
Chau, beyond the lines
Claude Lanzmann
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness*
Last Day of Freedom

Mad Max: Fury Road*
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Dissapeard
The Revenant

Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road*
The Martian 
The Revenant

The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road*
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant*

Mad Max: Fury Road*
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant*
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian 
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens*

Bear Story
Sanjays Super Team*
We Can't Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Ave Maria*
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay

So I think its going to be a big night for both "The Revenant" and "Mad Max: Fury Road." I love all the nominations "Mad Max" got this year. Honesty, I feel bad for putting "Star Wars" as the winner for Visual Effects over "Mad Max." That was the one prediction that had me torn for a good part of the day. "Mad Max" will be the "Avatar" this year and will get lots of the visual and technological awards, and they could get visual effects, but I'd love to see "Star Wars" get it. 

Some Dark Horses
Along with Mark Rylance winning Best Supporting Actor and "Cinderella" winning Costume Design, there are some other Dark Horses this year. Nominations that could completely upset the status quo. As much as Vikander is the favorite to win Supporting Actress, Kate Winslet could make a "Titanic" reunion with Leo tonight. I think if anybody could beat Leo tonight, it could be Michael Fassbender. I really think "Spotlight" has Original Screenplay, but could get upset by "Straight Outta Compton." Again, I hope I am wrong on Visual Effects and "Mad Max" gets it. If I was in charge of the Oscars, I'd give Visual Effects to "Mad Max," but my gut is still telling me "Star Wars." We shall see. Mad Max could also get Cinematography, but I doubt it. Emmanuel Lubezski may have won last year, but "The Revenant" was just too beautiful.

Well. the ceremony starts in just a few hours. I will see you guys on the other side of this later tonight.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2015 Award Circuit: Brooklyn Review

2015 Award Circuit: Brooklyn Review
The 2015 Award Circuit will be a collection of reviews of films that are in some kind of award runnings within the months of January through March. Not only will this prepare me for the big night (AKA Oscar Night), but it will also allow me to catch up with some of the critically acclaimed films I missed out on in 2015. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy watching and writing them.

Out of all the genres Hollywood gets wrong so often, I can't believe that romance is among them. I mean the feelings of love, affection, need, desire, care...these are second nature to so many of us that its hard to fathom that it all comes off so pedestrian. Why are romance movies so silly? Why are they filled with cornball dialogue? Why are they sappy and weepy? Why does nobody explore the pure joy that comes with being in love? Why does nobody examine the thoughtful frustration and complex emotions of being in love? Why does it always have to resort to comedy when telling these stories? Yes, divorce is high and its common for people to never marry, but that doesn't mean love is dead. I am not one of those people that believes somebody HAS to be married in order to care for someone, I think we have all been stung by the love bee at least once in our lives, so why can't a movie be made to reflect it?

"Brooklyn" is one of the very best movies made about love. Ever. Its a completely realistic human story. It features characters who are people, not types or archetypes, but real people. You can identify with them. You can understand them. I feel as if through the two hours of movie, there is at least one piece of the human journey someone can grab and hold onto. This is a romance movie that gets everything right that the Nicholas Sparks adaptations get wrong. If "Brooklyn" was only a romance, then it would have accomplished its goal in a major way.

But its not just about the romance, its mostly about Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) an Irish girl who gets to move to America in the 1950's after her sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) helps her. Rose wants a better life for her sister and she believes she can find in America. While its a bumpy road to New York City, Eilis makes it there and begins life in New York City. She meets an Italian boy named Tony (Emory Cohen) and they slowly begin to fall in love. Tony isn't some punk, he isn't a fool, he isn't ego-driven and he doesn't have a dark past. "Brooklyn" sidesteps any and all cliches with ease. This is simply a story of how two individuals fall for each other, and it happens in a suddenly human manner. When Eilis has to return to Ireland after a family death, she secretly marries Tony. Not realizing her mom will try to keep her Ireland and fix her up with several suitors.

"Brooklyn" covers a lot of ground. It tells a good story about the immigration experience. It tells a good story about an individual missing her homeland as she carves out a new life for herself in a new world. It tells a good story about the norms of 1950's America. It tells a good story about faith and devotion. Most of all, it tells a good story about love, which has been deeply missing in Hollywood these days.

The big question is did Saoirse Ronan do a good enough job to be nominated for an Oscar? I would say yes. I have enjoyed watching Ronan come into her own as a performer, as I have enjoyed all her work, even when she was a child. She definitely does not disappoint here and this her at her most gracious. This is easily one of her finest performances and even though I don't think she has a chance in winning, she definitely deserved the nomination. I hope she gets more roles like this and I hope she continues to evolve as an actress, because she has so much talent that its almost insane.

I've got one more big movie I want to see before Oscar Sunday, and I will hopefully watch and review either tomorrow or Friday. Then Saturday I will review my data and make my predictions. I hope I can get every one right this year! Fingers crossed.


Will Wolverine 3 be Old Man Logan?

Hugh Jackman has made it clear that is run as James Logan "Wolverine" Howlett is coming to a close. As much as we wish it to be, these actors can't play these iconic characters forever, and Jackman has had a good run. When its all said and done, Jackman will have played Wolverine eight times, that one more than Sean Connery and Roger Moore did for James Bond and it has to be some kind of record. Since Jackman is getting older, and his run with Wolverine is ending, why not end it with an adaptation of "Old Man Logan."

What is "Old Man Logan?" Its one crazy Wolverine story.

Set in the future, all the villains in the Marvel universe came together and killed almost all the superheroes in the Marvel universe. The Fantastic Four. Spiderman. Captain America. Thor. Iron Man. Black Panther...all dead. Among the heroes still alive is Logan, who isn't going by Wolverine anymore, because since he can't technically die, the villains hurt Logan's heart, soul and psyche so bad that he hasn't popped his claws in fifty years. The United States has been carved up into sections run by Red Skull, Kingpin, Dr. Doom, Magneto and Hulk. Logan lives in "Hulkland," where Bruce Banner went crazy and had an incestuous relationship with his cousin, She-Hulk. Logan spends everyday trying to make enough money to live in Hulkland, and money is drying up. If Logan can't make his payments, the Hulk gang will kill his family. So Logan goes on a cross-country trip with a blind Hawkeye to deliver drugs to someone in the nation's capital, the money Logan will get for the job will be more than enough to make his rent payments in Hulkland, so Logan assists Hawkeye on his journey into a new America that purposely mimic's George Miller's Wasteland.

Yep, its a pretty crazy story. (You didn't expect Hulk shagging his cousin, huh?) And I haven't even mentioned the T-Rex wearing a symbiot suit or Peter Parker having an illegitimate child. "Old Man Logan" is not your typical Marvel story. 

Fox is looking at the success of "Deadpool" and they are seeing that R-rated superhero stories can make serious money. It has been known for weeks that "Wolverine 3" will be R-rated. Cool, there are plenty of good Wolverine stories that fit that bill. I just don't know if "Old Man Logan" is the one to adapt. I understand its popularity. But Fox owns 90% of the major characters in "Old Man Logan." I could see Fox replacing Hawkeye with Deadpool, that's as clear as day. But I can't see a good adaptation of "Old Man Logan" without Hulk, Red Skull and the other major Marvel characters not in Fox's stable. There would have to be some DRASTIC changes made in order to even make this a possibility, and after those changes, would it really be "Old Man Logan" at all?

What's even weirder is that Fox is planning on replacing Hawkeye with Professor X. Hawkeye and Professor X couldn't be more apart in terms of character and personality, so replacing Hawkeye with him is as odd as odd can get. I really don't know how Fox could have possibly arrived at that idea. 

Fox has done a good job getting "X-Men" back on its feet. They have done such a good job that it will years before Marvel can ever get their hands on it again. But if they try to adapt a half-assed "Old Man Logan," that could serve as a setback. I just can't see how they can possibly adapt this story when so many important characters are over at Disney. But then again, "Civil War" is happening without the Fantastic Four and "Infinity War" is happening without the X-Men, so maybe its not necesarily a dealbreaker.

What does everybody else think?


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Overlooked Film of the Week- "Chi-raq"

Overlooked Film of the Week- #103

I want to say upfront that I am not the biggest fan of Spike Lee. Not so much I am not a fan of his movies, but just the person he is. I find that most of the time, Spike Lee grinds an ax simply to grind an ax. When he accused Clint Eastwood of not representing African Americans who served during World War II in Eastwood's "Flags of our Fathers," it made my stomach hurt. Especially since there are African American soldiers in that movie. But the thing is, Eastwood's movie was about a very specific mission that didn't involve African Americans. I have already discussed the whole #OscarsSoWhite debate, and frankly I am tired to hearing and writing about it. It seems more often than not, Lee makes himself look like an idiot instead of looking insightful.

With all of that said, when Spike Lee connects with a piece of material, the result can feel like a shotgun blast to the heart. I think Spike Lee is a smart man and he can make a good movie, but his character gets the best of him sometimes. As a movie lover, I have to give credit when credit is due, and I love "Malcolm X," "Do The Right Thing," "25th Hour" and now "Chi-raq." "Chi-raq" is a Lee experiment that doesn't shatter the test tubes. "Chi-raq" maybe a satire, but it sheds light on very relevant issues in a urgent and powerful manner. Its filled to the brim with profound performances, and while I thought Idris Elba was the only black actor who truly got snubbed at the Oscars this year, I got to give credit to Teyonah Parris, who does overly-incredible work in this movie. She definitely could have been nominated for an Oscar this year, but more on that later.

"Chi-raq" sucks you in immediately. At first, I thought this was going to be another one of Lee's films where he forces his social misgivings and views down our throat, I was prepared for him to tell me just how horrible the white race is, but that's not really on his mind in this movie. The film's opening feels like adult episode of "Sesame Street," a miniature music video of sorts. Its a rap song with the lyrics filling the screen, discussing how violent it is to live in Chicago. Its a strong way to open a movie, and I was pretty much on-board from that point forward. 

We are soon introduced to Demetrius "Chi-raq" Dupree (Nick Cannon), a rapper who has created his own gang in the city of Chicago. He opposed by Cyclops (Wesley Snipes) who runs a rival gang in the city. There is a shooting at one of Demetrius' performances, which leaves the rapper very angry. He didn't die though, and he goes home to his girlfriend Lysistrada (Parris) to relax from his near-death experience. Cyclops goes to Demetrius' house to try and kill him again. But they don't kill him, they kill a little boy caught in the crossfire. When Lysistrada sees the mother of the child cleaning his blood off the street, she has had enough of all the violence in her city. But what can she do to make a difference? What can she do in order to stop the needless bloodshed? 

She rallies all the women in the city; women who support Demetrius, women who support Cyclops, all the women in the city. All the women make a pact to not have any type of sexual relations with their boyfriends or any man until the shootings and killings stop. The battle cry for this new movement is literally "no peace, no pussy," and the entire population of women become engulfed by it. "Chi-raq" is based on the story "Lysistrada" by Aristrophanes, which was about women withholding sex from their men for fighting wars. Its a clear contrast, but its just as clear that what happens in this movie is more than relevant today. Lee's film maybe a satire, but what Lee is arguing here makes perfect sense. In order to stop gun violence in this country, we are going to have to make a drastic change. Conservatives and liberals are going to have to come together and make the hard decisions, come up with some kind of compromise, because if it were working, there wouldn't be so much violence. I remember how shocking it was when Columbine happened in 1999. Today, shootings are so frequent that we have become numb to them. I am not saying take away guns, but we all have to come together to make a huge change. In this movie, that huge change was women coming together, taking away sex from their men.

The film is full of wonderful performances. I never knew Nick Cannon could be so good, but he sure is. The cast also includes Steve Harris, Jennifer Hudson, John Cusack, Angela Bassett, Harry Lennix, and Dave Chappel and they are all marvelous here. Samuel L. Jackson is our narrator throughout this movie, and its a career-high for him. I know that's weird to say for a guy who seems like he's in everything, but he really sticks out here, in a huge way. But no performance in this movie comes close to the work that Parris does. She is our eye into this world and Parris' performance serves as a profound guide into this macabre world. We feel every ounce of the pain she feels in this movie. We feel it when she begins her battle cry. Every move she makes is sound and realistic. In a world that is a clear fiction, its a great thing to pull off. I think Parris could have been nominated this year, and its a shame I was so late to the "Chi-raq" party.

"Chi-raq" is another example of why I urge people to always attempt to separate the art from the artist, because you never know when they will surprise you. Lee raises some very good points here and its tough to look at this movie and be stricken by the world we live in now. I may not respect the guy all the time, but when he makes a damn good movie, I can't take it away from him. This is something that is absolutely worth seeing.

TV REVIEW: Agent Carter (Episodes 8 & 9, Season 2)



Much like last week, tonight's episode of "Agent Carter" was a bit of a double feature. We got two hours back-to-back of the show. What ensued was a two-hour episode that felt like it could have been one episode. I figure they did two weeks of two hours due to "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." coming back in just a couple short weeks, but the need for two hours when it could have easily been one hour still bugs me. I felt the eight episode format worked wonderfully last year, so why not repeat that? What's the need for having ten episodes when two of those hours feel jumbled, slow and attached to other episodes?

Honesty, what was with that dance and song number in the second hour?

Much like last week, the first hour has one story and the second hour has one story, and I think this week does a better job of having the two hours gel together. The first hour deals with Frost using Wilkes to reopen and obtain more zero matter, which somewhat backfires on her. Its Wilkes who ends up getting more zero matter, and Frost plans to take that matter out of Wilkes body. In the second hour, Peggy and her allies make an uneasy alliance with Vernon Masters and Thompson in order to make a machine that will depower and kill Frost. Yes, Vernon allies with the good guys. The power struggle between the two groups however, nearly leads to their demise. 

That's a funny thing about this one-two punch of episodes, there are way too many double-crosses. Thompson joining Peggy, then going back to Vernon then back to Peggy then going his own route never makes a lick of sense. Its never completely explored and its not played out in a way that's clever. Its comes off much more random and seemingly convenient for the plot. Yes, Thompson has never really liked Peggy, but the double-crosses add up to the point where they seem redundant. Especially when its Thompson doing the double-crossing as well as Vernon. The need for Vernon to join the good guys is also never fully explored or makes much sense. With two hours to spare, I kind of wish they fleshed out this part of the story more.

Again like last week, there was so much filler in this episode that having this all last two hours was incredibly redundant. Yes, I understand some of the subplots. I thought it was important to learn that Jarvis' is okay, despite not being able to have children. I liked that subplot. But there is just something about sitting through these two hours that feels like homework more than entertainment. These two hours should capture and keep my attention throughout and I was pretty bored throughout. Which is not good at all. This could have easily been a one episode ordeal, and I think the episode would have benefited greatly from it.

The season finale is next week, and I am eager to see the end of this. I hope to see the first founding of S.H.I.E.L.D. because the history in the movies is beginning to not make sense with the show. Which is another misstep. I wish the shows aligned with the movies a little bit better. I felt like the SSR should have been S.H.I.E.L.D. by now, but its not. I am hoping to see that happen next week.

What did everyone else think?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Southbound Review

Southbound Review
The anthology is a tricky thing to pull off. When you are making a movie which is a group of interlocking stories, you better hope that each story can live up to the other stories. Because if not there will be a disjointed imbalance that can fog up the other details of the movie. What makes both "V/H/S" and "V/H/S 2" two of the best horror anthologies is because no segment is stronger than the other in each of those movies. Each segment can stand on its own terms and it can also compliment the rest of the movie. That is a hard thing to pull off, and I watch both of those movies now and remain baffled by how strong they are.

Radio Silence is a horror team of directors who came together to create the first "V/H/S" and they even directed one of the segments for the film. Now, they are back with another anthology horror film called "Southbound." There is no found footage device in any segments of "Southbound." But there are five interlocking stories that connect to the characters. When the film begins we see Mitch (Chad Villella) and Jack (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin) are driving in a truck down a highway, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. They are bloodied and exhausted. Whatever they are involved in, it has gone disastrously wrong, and they are trying to figure out what their next move is. I love it when a movie keeps me confused in order to lure me into the story line, and I have to say the first segment was successful in that aspect. The duo goes to a diner, and something is off about it from the get-go. It gets even weirder when the diner starts to shake and the duo begins to be stalked by floating dark figures. By the end of the segment, I could tell that this was going to be nowhere near the same mood or style as "V/H/S" and that's quite alright with me.

To explain the rest of the movie in a nutshell is to say that nothing is what it seems. There is an all-girl rock band who gets a flat tire and the family that helps them isn't who they seem. Then a man runs over a woman and the hospital and 911 call he makes aren't what they seem. Then a man goes on a vigilante hunt for his sister and his findings aren't what they seem. Finally, a group of criminals try to kill a family and that family isn't what they seem. To be honest, the group of criminals aren't who they seem either. Whats kind of amazing about each of these segments is that everything is off about them. What is it about this highway in the middle of nowhere that is causing so much trouble? How are all of these people connected? Well, the answer comes blatantly obvious in the second-to-last segment. I think if you take a good look at the film's poster, you also get a good idea of where this is headed. But that's OK. I am not sure the movie was trying to be secret or deceptive. I think it was trying to make one wild ride.

I have to say overall, "Southbound" is a wild ride. There isn't a single recognizable actor in any of the segments, but each segment is supremely acted. There is a dirty, rugged backdrop to the cinematography that added to the flavor of the movie. There are moments of abundant gore and sometimes, it even gets cartoonish. But I am sure that is due to a smaller budget and for what its worth, each segment does the best they can with their resources.

But here's the rub. The segment with the all-girl band is the best of the bunch. By a freaking mile its the best of the bunch. Its the only segment that actually is genuinely scary. The situation the band finds themselves in is creepy from the start, and it only gets worse from there. There is a dream sequence that literally made me cover my eyes. I still have images from "The Witch" still dancing in my head, and I don't need to add to that horrid cocktail at this particular moment. Its a wonderful segment, but none of the rest of them can match it. Its a night and day difference and its precisely what let's this film down. When you have one great segment sticking out around a bunch of mediocre segments, it renders the entire anthology almost useless.

But, I liked some of the energy in the other segments. There sure is a slick style to the film at large that hit my sweet spot. It just can't match up with one other segment. That is the hesitation of making anthology movies, and while "Southbound" doesn't complete succeed, I think its still worth checking out. I think Radio Silence is becoming a horror group to look for and I can't wait to see what they conjure next.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Witch Review

The Witch Review
I've been a huge horror fan my whole life. I even admit that I am little crazy at times. The first time I watched "The Ring" was by myself in an empty house, and it kept me up all night. I watched "The Grudge" and several other horror movies by myself. I can't really explain the thrill that comes from being scared, but I am sure other horror films can't really explain why being scared is so awesome and often cases, sacred to them. Its a different kind of high that you can't get from traveling or attending a concert or even jumping out of an airplane. Harry Knowles has defined movies as our dreams moving at 24 frames per second, and when a filmmaker sets out to make a nightmare at 24 frames per second, the results can be devastating.

The thing is, I haven't felt incredibly scared for a couple years now. It seems like most of the horror films that get released these days are found footage films, which to me are just a bunch of unprofessional actors getting scared of nothing. Or they are giant blood fests, which are referred to as torture porn. Nobody really tries to scare us anymore. But when something truly scary gets made, like "The Sacrament" or "The Babadook," its sent to Video-On-Demand or Netflix. It doesn't get the silver screen treatment and a real shot at the box office like it should. 

"The Witch" debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and it generated quit a bit of buzz. It was something that was quickly sold and I was afraid that I would only get to see this in the comfort of my home for $9.99. Thankfully, this is getting a real shot at making some serious money, as it hit theaters this weekend. I am glad it did too, because "The Witch" is easily one of the creepiest and most disturbing films I have seen in quite awhile. It is full of uneasy mood and atmosphere, staples of a good horror movie, which I feel have been missing for too long. While there is blood in the movie, its  not a relentless gore-fest like "Saw." Its also nowhere near found footage, and you will definitely not see actors being scared of absolutely nothing. This is a horror film that genuinely wants to scare you. I can't begin to explain how rare that is these days.

The movie is full of mostly unknown actors, and one of the faces you probably will recognize is Ralph Ineson. He's a English actor who played Amycus Carrow in the last few "Harry Potter" movies. You may have also have spotted him in "Guardians of the Galaxy." Ineson plays William, who at the beginning of the movie is accused of blasphemy by a Puritan court sometime in the early colonial years. William is a family man and a devout Christian, and he feels he has done no harm. Nonetheless, he is banished from his community, and he takes his family into the wilderness where they create a farm and a new life, isolated from any type of civilization. His eldest daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is the center of the movie. One day in her new home, she is playing peekaboo with her infant brother, until she opens her hands and finds he isn't there. What has happened to him? Thomasin's search for answers and how this disappearance affects the rest of her family, particularly her mother Katherine (Katie Dickey) is the basis for the movie. 

The biggest shock of "The Witch" is the unforgettable performances by the children in the movie. Anya Taylor-Joy is a real discovery here, her face tells a thousand different emotions just with one look and she throws herself at every scene. As does Harvey Scrimshaw who plays Caleb, the slightly younger brother who has a rather gross obsession with his older sister. There is also Lucas Dawson and Ellie Granger who play young twins Mercy and Jonas. These twins are playing some very disturbing games with one of the family goats. Children have always been known to be a thing of horror in most films of the genre. But nothing can compare to what Taylor-Joy and Scrimshaw are asked to do in this movie. I can't imagine what director Robert Eggers did to communicate what he wanted his young cast to do here. I am flat out shocked with what he got away with. How do you discuss these scenes with children? Were the parents involved and if so, what the hell did they think of all this? These were questions that were on my mind the whole time. The young cast seemed more than willing to jump into everything Eggers had planned for them, which made the experience even more upsetting.

Whats also unique about "The Witch" is how it plays like a nightmare, instead of a conventional movie. I know that this is quite the comparison, but I couldn't help but think of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" in some parts of the movie. Robert Eggers tip-toes between reality and supernatural terror, and you are never quite sure which end is up. The ending is very ambiguous and that may infuriate some and delight others. You can read certain scenes several different ways, which may anger those who like a more linear plot. But I think the film's style serves the proper function of the movie. I applaud Eggers' attention to detail, as the movie really feels like the early colonial time period and its that sense of realism that wraps you in the films hypnotic grasp. The movie is a slow burn, and I know lots of people who get impatient. But I would ask that you endure this. "The Witch" does a good job of setting up characters, mood and atmosphere. Sometimes that takes time and the payoff is some big disturbances I didn't see coming.

As I left the theater tonight, I heard lots of people say they liked the movie, and I heard just as many people say they wanted their money back. But most of the very best horror films are polarizing. "The Shining" was polarizing, Dario Argento's films were polarizing, "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" from 1974 was polarizing. Those reactions show me that "The Witch" was trying really hard to provoke, to scare, to generate a reaction. Sometimes, that takes people off-guard, especially when they are so used to seeing the same old conventional crap that has been apart of the horror genre for years now. All I can say is that I want more horror films like this. I will take something like this over found footage any day of the week. I amazed by the films authentic style, the film even tells us during the credits that some of the dialogue was taken from historical transcripts of the time. "The Witch" is "The Crucible" on steroids. While its deeply disturbing, it tells a good story about religious crisis, about women and their purpose during the time, and early America's complicated history with witchcraft. The story sets up a wonderful backdrop for the horror that commences. That is so rare in horror nowadays that I couldn't help but hand myself over to this. So if you're curious, go. Take your friends. Discuss it with them afterwards. There will be plenty to talk about, plenty of meaning and reactions to certain scenes and the ending at large. I want this film to do well at the box office, so Hollywood takes a look it and sees how wrong they've been. This is the kind of horror film that should be overwhelming theaters in October.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Zoolander 2 Review

Zoolander 2 Review
The hardest movies to make are sequels to comedies. Part of what makes comedy good is the element of surprise. When you sit to watch a comedy for the first time, there is no telling what is going to get you laughing. After the initial shock of the joke or the situation or whatever makes you laugh, you come to expect it. The genre works a lot like the horror genre, where when you see a certain scare, its really hard to duplicate the same exact scare. I think there is a pretty good reason why all the sequels to "The Exorcist" were shitty, and there hasn't been another awesome exorcism movie. There can only be so much that can be done with some ideas that sequels seem pointless, the same can be said about comedy.

I actually liked "Zoolander" when it came out over ten years ago. Yes, its a silly, goofy and a complete oddball of a movie. But it didn't feel like anything I had seen before, I thought both Ben Stiller and Owen were funny. I liked Will Ferrell as the villain. There was a lot of stuff that was up my alley comedy-wise. Here's the rub though, I know I am in the minority when it comes to liking the movie. I also feel it was a movie that didn't need a sequel. "Zoolander 2" suffers from "Hangover" syndrome, when we get a sequel to a great comedy that we really didn't need. It also is very reminiscent of "Dumb and Dumber To" where if it came out closer to the first, it may have been better. There is so much to this sequel that feels so outdated that I wonder why they even bothered at all.

Like many sequels to comedy, the movie relies so much on comedy from the first film that everything is predictable. Every possible trap a comedy sequel could possibly muster, "Zoolander 2" falls into. Sure, the Valentina Interpol Agent played by Penelope Cruz is different. Sure, how Zoolander's life fell apart over the last fifteen years sets up the story fine, and how Hansel (Wilson) and him aren't the best of friends right now. I even got a bit of a kick out of the good looking celebrities getting killed off by a shadowy organization. There was lots of good material here to make a good comedy. Its just that not of it got used, what we did get ended up not being very funny, and that's just sad all around.

What's also weird about "Zoolander 2" is that so much of it feels like a missed opportunity. The weird character Benedict Cumberbatch plays is ripe for comedic gold, but of course we barely see him. There are things about "Zoolander 2" that just didn't make any sense, story arcs that were picked up and then dropped. It is almost as if the editor didn't even watch the film in order to edit it. There was so much potential in characters and situations, but the boat is missed completely. It is never a good sign when I see so much potential in comedy and jokes, then the movie never lives up to any of it. What a wet blanket.

The actors are fine in this, its just they are never given anything funny. They never live up to the hype or given a good moment to shine. Everything is so ordinary and so by-the-book that this sequel becomes useless. All of a sudden I am terrified of "Independence Day: Resurrgence." Because, is it possible to sit on an idea too long? Is it healthy to make sequels to comedy? I don't really know anymore. As someone who liked the first movie, but could barely stand this one, that should say something to fans of these movies. If I can't even like a movie that has Justin Bieber dying a horrible death in the first five minutes, then something has gone terribly wrong.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Star Wars: Episode VIII Production Announcement

Just as "Star Wars: Episode VII" begins to wear down and it pushes toward the billion dollar mark, we get word on the next chapter of this saga. This video confirms the beginning of production for Episode VIII. It looks as if this movie may begin right where the last one left off. Its a maybe though, really hard to tell.

We don't get much from this at all, but its really exciting just to see production starting again.

TV REVIEW: Agent Carter (Episodes 6 & 7, Season 2)



For this two hour dose of "Agent Carter," the first hour dealt with the planning and execution of a mission. The second hour dealt with the repercussions of that mission.

The first hour saw Agent Carter and her company try to steal a sample of the zero matter so that she can bring Dr. Wilkes back to normal. She finds out that she needs the help of a foe, Dottie Underwood. Carter breaks Dottie out of prison so that she can help extract the zero matter from  Ms. Frost's body. They go to a Calvin Chadwick convention and Dottie goes with Edwin as his date. I have to say that I surprised by the chemistry and charm by the two characters. Everything was very well on point. Edwin has become a really great character on the show, and one of the reasons to keep tuning in each week.

The thing is Frost is starting to really uphold her power. She kills Chadwick and half of his social club in order to prove just how powerful the zero matter is and how she can use it. She wants to become the new leader of this social club. I guess in order to use it to empower those who were oppressed during this era. I think? If there was one idea that was weird about this two-hour event this week, it was the motives behind Frost and what she stands for. In the first hour, she talks about rising in the rank of this social club. But in the second hour, she talks about how she wants to bring greater attention to women, people of color, all of those who were being oppressed at the time. There is nothing worse than a villain with an incoherent plan, and I hope by next week, we have a clear motive for Frost being evil. Sure, she could have been manipulating everyone she comes into contact with, but there is no clear evidence of that. So it just feels a bit off.

The good news is Peggy was able to get a sample of zero matter from Dottie, and she was able to help Dr. Wilkes. Except it meant that Dottie got captured by Frost, who was able to make Dottie spill the beans on Agent Carter better than Vernon Davis could, who is clearly in league with the bad guys now. The second hour had to do with Edwin and Peggy creating a rescue mission to get Dottie back, which in turn gets them captured. But don't worry, they escape. Its just that Frost kidnaps Wilkes, Edwin Jarvis' wife gets shot in the process and Vernon takes over the west coast operations of the SSR. The last hour actually felt kind of sad, and it is finally dawning on me that there is purpose to care about these characters. I will say that these are much higher stakes than we saw last year, which is supremely healthy and I kind of like the direction this is going, even if its a little disjointed at times.

I am actually a little surprised by how mediocre the writing for this show is, since "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." does so well with it. I hope the show can clean up the writing in the future. This two-hour episode could have easily been one hour, but there was lots of filler and lots of situations getting dragged out to the absolute breaking point. Like I said above, the motivations for the bad guys could be a lot more clearer too. If the writing had been slightly better, this week could have really been something. There is plenty of room for good change, and I hope the show takes advantage of it.

What did everyone else think?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Deadpool Review

Deadpool Review
Yep, this is Deadpool alright.

Can you all think back fifteen, even ten years ago? When superhero movies weren't as good as they are mostly right now? Remember when superhero movies were either fifty-fifty of being good? Thanks to the success of "X-Men" and "Spider-Man" in the early 2000's, Hollywood began shelling out superhero movies at a rapid pace. It didn't seem to matter if there was any quality to the making of some of these movies, it was clear that studios were just greenlighting these movies to make the big bucks. Then in the year 2008, we started to move out of the fog. Superhero movies were extremely great that year. Not only were they good, but the genre began to take chances, they started creating connected universes a la the comic books, their stories related to current was so amazing.

Now it seems like all superhero movies follow that anesthetic and for the most part, bad superhero movies are really uncommon. Even the uneven ones like "Age of Ultron," are better than the average superhero flick coming out ten years ago. Now that the genre is established, its time to take more risks. Like each genre, it will not survive if it does not allow itself to change. "Deadpool" is a movie that is allowing some change. Its an R-rated superhero movie made with all the flair and spectacle as a regular superhero movie. It also clearly loves its title character and allows the character to flourish. It plays by the same rules of the superhero movie, but also flattens them with its fist and gives them the middle finger.

Some audiences may not understand all the vulgarity of "Deadpool," but that is completely the character. Deadpool was nicknamed The Merc with the Mouth in the comic books, and he was not the typical comic book character. He killed, he had a dark sense of humor, he broke the fourth wall, he had a crazy personality. Another film critic calls Deadpool Bugs Bunny with swords, and that's exactly what the character is. Deadpool is blatant (and I DO mean blatant) rip-off of the DC character, right down to his alter ego. Deadpool has always been a R-rated character, so he deserved an R-rated movie. That neutered version of the character that we saw in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" just does not cut it, and that was not the character at all. 

What we see in this new "Deadpool" movie, THAT'S Deadpool. But the movie is more than a faithful adaptation. Its represents a particular shift the genre needed. It proved that R-rated superhero movies could be both entertaining and true in form. It proved that these characters deserve to be made with their true colors intact, ratings should not enter into them, because as this movie proved in its opening weekend, ratings don't matter. What matters, and what always has mattered, is the power of storytelling. The story "Deadpool" is pretty crazy, but totally in the toolhouse of Deadpool. 

How crazy? The entire showdown between Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and "Francis" (Ed Skrein) because Deadpool spends the whole movie making fun of his name. Yeah, you read that right.

Oh sure, we do find out that Wade Wilson is suffering from cancer, and will leave his beautiful girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) without a boyfriend. Wilson secretly enters a government program lead by "Francis" and his gal-pal Christine (Gina Carano). In this government program, Wilson is constantly tortured until his body mutates, leaving his body severely scared. Because Wilson and "Francis" never got along, and because "Francis" kidnaps Vanessa, Wilson goes hunting for him. Wilson recruits X-Men Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Briana Hildebrand) to help him. What ensues is a magnificently relentless superhero movie full of gore, foul-language, guts and boobies. I love that the movie breaks the fourth wall in a couple moments, which creates some of the bigger laughs. Deadpool's true personality is on full display here, and Ryan Reynolds knocks it out of the park, all movie long. When the film begins, and we are moving through a slow motion car crash. We see names of the actors, except they aren't actor names. They read like "The Hot Chick" "The Bad Guy," "The Comic Relief." Then another credit reads "Produced by Asshats." It was at this moment that I knew "Deadpool" had me.

The only gripe I have is that, despite the inclusion of Colossus and the X-Mansion, I have no idea how this fits into the rest of the ''X-Men" series. Its pretty clear that after "Days of Future Past, "that the entire storyline has been re-written, clearly to get rid of some of the less-popular movies. I wish I knew how this fit into the rest of the continuity, but I hope we learn in the future. I have to say that even though Daniel Cudmore didn't return as Colossus, but I kind of wish he did. This is the most personality Colossus has ever had in any movie, and it was absolutely wonderful in the hands of Kapicic. And Negasonic Teenage Warhead? She has a great scene at the very end. Honestly, why would you not want a character that was named Negasonic Teenage Warhead in your movie?

The movie contains big action, laughs that smack you over the head, and sometimes you got to keep in your laughter, just to hear what is coming next. I have to say that I usually hate Gina Carano, but man is she well utilized here. I also have to say that she had a big laugh from me at the end with her fight against Colossus, which I might add, is pretty insane. You'll love all the performances in this movie. You'll love the various jokes made about Ryan Reynolds, Green Lantern, how stupid Deadpool looked in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and why we don't see other X-Men hanging out at the X-Mansion all movie. You'll love the Hugh Jackman joke. You'll love how gleefully Deadpool narrates the entire movie. You'll love all the energy and buzz the movie displays. But most of all, you'll love just how much director Tim Miller loves Deadpool and how well he made a movie that suits him. Deadpool was not a character in the same vein as Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man or even Rocket Raccoon. He had a personality and style completely his own, and that style was for adults. Its a miracle we got a movie like this, that plays by the rules of the superhero genre while also tearing them down in the process.

Oh, and stay for the credits. We have a lot to look forward to with the sequel. And if Stephen Lang ends up playing that character. The world will be a much happier place.


Daredevil Season Two Trailer

I fell in absolutely insane love with the first season of "Daredevil." A really strong start to the Netflix Marvel shows. Something that blew the movie away by miles, maybe even lifetimes. It was a testament that Marvel is trying really hard with all of their properties, and doing a good job of creating this huge, connected world. It was announced early on that we would get a second season, and I could not wait to lay eyes on it.

Learning that they were adding The Punisher to this season, and that freaking Jon Bernthal was going to play the Punisher, and I was on cloud nine. When they also announced that we will also see Elektra this season, and all bets were off. I didn't just want to see this second season, I needed it.

The trailer for the second season of "Daredevil" was released today, and its everything I hoped for and more. Jon Bernthal's Punisher is brought front and freaking center. Its pretty clear that the season's big story arc will be the conflict between Daredevil and Punisher. Punisher isn't Fisk, nor is he Daredevil. He wants to do right in the world, but instead of beating up criminals and letting the authorities take them, he offs them. Both Daredevils and Punishers philosophies will certainly clash this season, and it seems Bernthal is absolutely perfectly cast.

There weren't any moments of Elektra, but I am glad they didn't put all their eggs in one basket.

I love that this season will be coming out on March 18, instead of April. Since my birthday is March 17th, this is quite possibly the best late birthday present I could ask for.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

GHOSTBUSTERS - Trailer Announcement

Today on my Facebook page, I said how much I liked that the studio making the remake of "Ghostbusters" decided to release their trailer announcement on the exact date they predicted the end of days. There is a scene in "Ghostbusters 2" when Dr. Pete Venkmen (Bill Murray) starts his own show and one of his guests says that Armageddon will be on February, 14th 2016. A comment to which Venkmen looks at the camera and says "Valentine's Day. Bummer"

I am looking forward to this remake. I haven't read any backlash to this all-girl, all-star cast and I hope I don't. Yes, its a progressive choice, but the casting is so good that I think it will work. I am getting sick and tired of living in a era where everybody gets offended by everything. Besides, Bill Murray seems more than onboard for this. Given his history during and after the franchise, I would say that this is something significant. If Murray is excited, then I am excited too. The only thing I will say is that I wish it wasn't a remake. If they kept this in the original "Ghostbusters" storyline, I'd be jumping through hoola-hoops right now.

This announcement isn't much at all. It just shows that the people behind the movie hired lots of extras for some kind of scene. We see no Ghostbusters in action. No ghosts. No Hemsworth. No Garcia or Walsh or Williams or Dinklage. So if you haven't seen it yet don't get too excited. Especially since we have to wait until March to finally see the trailer. That is a bit of a tease, but I think I can patiently wait. 

God, March is going to be so cool!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Purge: Election Year Trailer

"The Purge" turning into a franchise is something I would have never expected. Especially after the first "Purge" movie. That was so awful that I couldn't believe I had wasted time on it and it seemed like one of those horror movies that would be one and done. But it made a lot of money that summer, and a sequel was quickly planned.

"The Purge: Anarchy" is a movie I liked quite a bit more, simply because writer and director James DeMonaco almost completely embraced his concept. It isn't a perfect movie, but the more I watch it on HBO, the more I can enjoy it on a silly level. I wrote in my review of the first film that the concept is interesting, but one that gives you headache if you think about it too much. I can't see a one-nigh-a-year crimefest play out like it has in the movies so far, and the plot-holes revolving around these movies is at a head-scratching level. But this sequel was at least fun.

Last night, I watched the trailer for "The Purge: Election Year," the third installment of this very strange franchise. I am wondering if James DeMonaco realized that he just shot himself in the foot. It looks like this movie is all about preventing the death of a United States Senator who is trying to be elected president so she can outlaw The Purge. That is all fine and dandy for a movie, but its been made clear that government officials are off limits for Purges. Can somebody explain what a level 10 government official is, because I am trying to wrap my head around this thing.

The rest of the trailer looks like a mixture of the first two movies, and I don't know if that is going to equal a good movie or not.

But back to this "kill the senator" storyline. How can it work? Who are level 10 government officials? Will we find out that the New Founding Fathers are corrupt? Who knows, it just seems that after a tremendous leap forward with "Anarchy," we are taking an equally tremendous leap backward. Plus, can we stop making trailers that give away nearly all the movie? That would be nice.

See you on the Fourth of July for "Election Year!"