Monday, August 20, 2018

Freaks trailer

I am sure horror fans will remember the 1930's film "Freaks." It was a movie about actual "freak" circus performers. Something that doesn't happen anymore, for obvious reasons. Nobody in this day and age would take pleasure at looking at midgets or bearded women or siamese twins. Can you imagine the SJWs coming out the woodwork and the PC reaction if those were still a thing? Yikes.

At first today, I thought somebody was legitimately making a remake of "Freaks." I felt like that would have been bold and ambitious. On the other hand, holy shit what would it even look like? Alas, it looks like the "Freaks" coming out in 2018 is NOT the "Freaks" remake from the 1930s. Good, I thought. Alfred Hitcock's "Psycho" got ruined by the remake treatment, they do not need to ruin another classic horror film.

As for "Freaks" of 2018, it's hard to tell what this movie will be about. It's a short, short, SHORT trailer. I have no idea what its even about. It's got an all-star cast, and the imagery is definitely striking. See what you think


Behind-The-Scenes Pic of the Day says...so it begins

When "Star Wars" came out in 1977, I was not alive. I wasn't around again for "Empire" or even "Jedi." I wasn't alive for most of the "Back To The Future's" or "The Godfather's." For most of my life I missed out on some of the big franchises that are still talked about today. Easily, the biggest franchise that I ever lived through was "The Lord of the Rings." That franchise was my "Star Wars." The modern film franchise that really got me thinking just how big of a movie geek I truly am. For some reason, as I watch "Disenchantment" on Netflix tonight, it made me think of "Lord of the Rings." It is, after all, a goofy fantasy world show brought to you by the guy that gave us "The Simpsons" and he may have another hit on his hands. But that's for another day to discuss.

One of the most iconic moments in the entirety of the "Lord of the Rings" franchise was the Battle of Helm's Deep from "The Two Towers." Looking at today's behind-the-scenes-pic, I would have never guessed that the castle itself was a model. I figured it was CGI or something. Man, peeking behind the corner can be so much fun. The castle itself is so convincing to look at.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Post- Infinity War: Where In The World Is Clint Barton?

One of the biggest questions fans of "Avengers: Infinity War" raised was where Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye was during the war. Jeremy Renner was on the list of actors who were going to appear in "Infinity War," but when he didn't appear in any of the trailers, suspicion ran wild all over the internet. The Russo Brothers, who directed the film, assured that Hawkeye was active and that he was on a personal mission. Yet, whatever this personal mission was, it didn't appear in the film. Those of us have been scratching our heads wondering where he is, and also wondering if he's even still alive after the events of Infinity War.

Some concept art for "Avengers 4," that remains untitled at the moment, show that Hawkeye will be rejoining his allies for "Avengers 4." Not only that, but much like Captain America adopting his Nomad persona from the comic books, Hawkeye also went by a different name for a little while in the comics. That name was Ronin.

In the comics, Clint Barton became Ronin after he rejoined the Avengers after the first Marvel Civil War. Not only did he continue to be a master archer, but he was taught by a Japanese swordsman the ways of the kitana. Some recent behind-the-scenes photos have surfaced with Jeremy Renner on set of "Avengers 4." Take a look at the comic Ronin picture then take a look at Jeremy Renner coming to work.

Renner is definitely wearing Ronin boots in that picture.

Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada is in "Avengers 4" in an undisclosed role. With the light that Renner is probably adopting the Ronin persona, I wonder if Sanada will play the man responsible for training Hawkeye to become Ronin. Another big rumor is that the shape-shifting aliens called The Skrulls may appear briefly in "Avengers 4." These shape-shifting aliens can take the form of any organism (hence shape-shifters), and there is a rumor going around that Hawkeye/Ronin maybe in Japan sometime in "Avengers 4" fighting Skrulls disguised as Yakuza. The Skrulls will be introduced in the MCU in "Captain Marvel" coming out this March.

During the post-credit scene in "Infinity War," I always wondered why Nick Fury was calling for Captain Marvel after Thanos snapped his fingers. I mean, if Captain Marvel has been active since the 1990's, why didn't Fury call her during the Battle of New York? Or when Ultron attacked? Or when Hydra nearly took over? Its somewhat been confirmed that Nick Fury called Captain Marvel because he thought what Thanos did was actually the Skrulls. Which I guess I'll buy, but I think Marvel has to be careful how far they reach into the past with their storytelling. But hey, that's a different topic for a different time.

So what are we thinking Marvel fans? I think its safe to say that Hawkeye will be Ronin. But I do wonder if we will see the Skrulls in "Avengers 4." I wonder if the next big storyline will be Secret Invasion!

Here's a rumor article that inspired this discussion
https://www.looper.com/125832/avengers-4-spoilers-rumors/

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Behind The Scenes Pic of the Day takes you to Infinity

"Avengers: Infinity War" is on Blu-Ray today. I am watching it right now. So I guess this was in sight to do today.

I got a funny one from early in the movie. One of the first big action set pieces comes when Stark, Dr. Strange, Wong and Bruce Banner are all challenged by two members of the Black Order, the Children of Thanos as they like to call themselves. The Children of Thanos want the Time Stone for Thanos, and of course Dr. Strange isn't just going to hand it over. The good guys fight the bad guys in a good old fashioned superhero brawl. The good guys prevail, once of course, they get into deep space!

After the big fight, apparently, they got some lunch.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Ralph Breaks The Internet trailer



There is no denying it. This just looks great.


The Behind-The-Scenes Pic of the Day asked you to assemble!

"Avengers: Infinity War" will hit Blu-Ray tomorrow.

So I guess a look back at the first film is in order.

Its hard to believe we've come so far with these big Avengers movies. I remember back in 2012, just thinking of getting the six original heroes in one movie and giving them time to develop sounded impossible. A few years later, and these Avengers movies are getting bigger and bigger, but never sacrificing the story they are telling. I know Joss Whedon left on, well not bad terms, I guess let's say wary terms. But I think he did a remarkable job setting a standard for the Avenger team-up movies and that style has lived within ever since.

Its funny, because I used to hear people say that someday movies won't need people, everything will be digital. But there are things people can do that computers simply can't. No matter how high tech things get, there is something remarkable knowing that a group of people did that. I don't know if Mark Ruffalo is the one posing in that big Hulk costume next to Hemsworth, but I know Hemsworth had to wrestle the person inside there and pretend like he was fighting a massive giant. Pretty impressive seeing the finished product.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Behind-The-Scenes-Pic of the Day says "Free us or die!

So in my four and five year old mind, "Return of the Jedi" was my favorite "Star Wars" movie. Yes, I know, that's heresy to say. I get it. My tastes have matured since then and I've come to appreciate "A New Hope" and especially "Empire" (which I would say is the quintessential Star Wars film), but for awhile, I loved Jedi the most. I can't even fathom why. I guess I thought the whole Jabba's Palace detour was cool and I liked the final battle. Yes, even those goddamn Ewoks.

One thing that I can't stand about the entire "Star Wars" franchise is how it introduces badass characters, then decides to kill them easy. Take Boba Fett for example. He had the coolest costume in the old trilogy. He had that silent "Don't Fuck With Me" attitude. He never said much, but you could just tell by looking at him that he was dangerous. That voice was stark and cold when he did speak, and it was borderline nightmarish. But in the skirmish at Jabba's palace, his jetpack malfunctions and he dies? That seemed almsot like a cheat. George Lucas did the same thing to Darth Maul and General Grevious and I never got over it.







Even Boba Fett didn't do much since his introduction, he is still revered as one of the coolest and most popular characters in the franchise. Heck, even though he suffered from a wimpy exit, I still think he's cool. Here are some behind the scenes pictures of Boba Fett in action. Right when he was about to biff it with his jetpack

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Fahrenheit 11/9 trailer

Love him or hate him, Micheal Moore puts together documentaries like nobody's business. I will admit that I've actually enjoyed a few of them. But even I admit, that its been a while since he's made something great or even passibly mediocre.

I am not sure if "Fahrenheit 11/9" is supposed to be a sequel to his film "Fahrenheit 9/11" or if its just a clever play on words. My biggest problem with "Fahrenheit 9/11" is that its always going to be a movie of its time, a small document of where the country was at one point in time. The Kerry-Bush election is beyond passe at this point, so I don't see lots of stock in rewatching that film. The same can be said possibly with "Fahrenheit 11/9." In four years, eight years tops, Trump will be out of office, so what will be the point.

No matter what, the film is sure to strike up debate, which I am sure is Moore prerogative.




Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Nutcracker and the Four Realms Trailer

Well, here's something new. I never knew that No Doubt's song "I'm Just A Girl" could actually be creepy. There's a first time for everything I guess?

This is a super short trailer, so we didn't get too much off of it. But apparently "Nutcracker and the Four Realms" is based on "Nutcracker and the Mouse King" as well as the ballet "The Nutcracker." I've seen the ballet before. I saw it as a kid on a field trip one time and for what it was, it was pretty cool. I enjoyed on a level that kid pretty much enjoys most things at a point in their lives. I wonder if this new movie will be too weird of a mish-match of stuff. I DO applaud though that Disney is taking a gamble on far less recognizable material. Yes, they are very busy bringing all their animated classics to the live action treatment. Not to mention "Star Wars" and Marvel and their new addition of 20th Century Fox assets. They are a company on fire right now. So I guess its about time to take a risk?




The visuals are, as expected, stunning. There are some good actors up to bat here. The costumes and make-up are jaw-dropping. But just how original is this? Why does this feel like pieces of other movies jammed into one movie? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Why Does Netflix nail it with their TV series but not their movies?

This was originally going to be a review of "How It Ends," a movie I saw last week. I've also got two other recent movies dancing in my head, they are entitled "Tau" and "Extinction." What makes these three titles special is that they are all Netflix Original films.

Whatever you think of this particular streaming service. Whether you prefer Hulu or Amazon Prime or whatever, there is one thing that is unbeatable, Netflix started it all. In the early days of Netflix streaming, it was pretty dead. But in 2013, when "House of Cards" was released on Netflix as an original television series, one that you could only view on Netflix. It really got the ball rolling on what streaming services could actually do. It set a brand new standard before it really knew that it did. From that point forward Netflix did a great job curating nice programming for television series. Soon after "House of Cards" came "Orange Is The New Black," which was also excellent. Then a deal with Marvel went through, and they pushed more and more and more original content. Most of it of which is good to great. Sure, a "Hemlock Grove" or an "Iron Fist" sneaks into the line-up, but people are still constantly talking about the latest Netflix series, and the older ones are still favorites.

But the amount of enthusiasm for Netflix TV series is not met with their original movies. I think Netflix began with all barrels blazing with "Beasts of No Nation," a movie I think everyone should see. But that wasn't a hotly talked about item, and as more movies entered their fold, they weren't meant with the same praise. It seems as the years stack on, nothing changes. I've seen three Netflix original movies this week, and I've been stunned silent by all of them. I thought I liked "How It Ends," an end-of-the-world scenario movie with Forest Whitaker. But the more I've thought upon it, the lamer I think it is. It's a buy-the-numbers apocalypse movie. A checklist of what to expect instead of having a genuine story. Plus the final struggle of the movie is so anti-climatic it might as well had been a deleted scene, and the ending is a total cop-out. "Extinction" with Micheal Pena and Lizzy Caplan was so mindlessly boring that I couldn't finish the whole thing. (Something that rarely happens). "Tau" had a cool idea, a sort of technological "Beauty and the Beast" riff, while also channeling "Chappie." But it ultimately was a dud. Moreso than any other year, I've seen a laundry list of original Netflix films in 2018, and I've barely reviewed them, simply because I'm so shocked by the quality that I don't know what to say.

I am having a hard time wrapping my head around a streaming service that does so well with their television arm but not their movie arm. Do they just not care as much with the movie side as they do with the TV side? Do they put in less effort because they know they have a brand name now and clicks are all that is important? Their first big budget style movie was "Bright." A high-profile film for the service that starred Will Smith and Joel Edgerton and was directed by David Ayers. They got some big guns for that one, and even that was a total dud. A complete bastardization of the cool script I read months prior to release. But Netflix is greenlighting a sequel simply because lots of people clicked on it to watch. Doesn't matter if they finished it, doesn't matter if they liked it. The sequel is coming simply because millions and millions of people clicked to watch it. This is what is tricky on analyzing what is truly successful with Netflix compared to other television. You can look up television rankings right now if you wanted to, that's much more complicated with Netflix. Are they self-aware and use that to their benefit for their movies?

They maybe greenlighting a sequel to "Bright," but I don't see many people discussing the film. Talks went dead after its release, and that's never a good sign. SO why even go through with the effort? For a studio that has such a good eye for television, wouldn't they apply that to the movies? Or do they just treat movies like red-headed stepchildren to add more focus on their television shows? Not saying ALL their films are bad. "What Happened to Monday?" is tons of fun. The Pee-Wee Herman movie was decent. Some of the Sandler deal films were decent. "Mudbound" is probably their best movie to date. Somehow, they've perfected the art of adapting Stephen King stories, no easy feat that. So I wonder why they can't, time after time, release good content in their movie field. Are they just oblivious to the fact that nobody is talking up their movies like they are their television shows?

Or is this all in my head and I just need to lighten up?

"Tau" and "Extinction" and "How It Ends" are on Netflix right now, proceed with caution.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Review: "The Equalizer 2" steps up from its first bout.

The Equalizer 2 Review

I had to do a little searching to find my original review of "The Equalizer." As you can tell, it didn't leave that much of an impact me. I honestly couldn't remember much about it before re-reading my own review, which you can read right here. It seemed like a big bundle of things I had seen before. Denzel Washington playing a troubled killer who decides to protect a young girl is not even close to a new idea. Not to mention that literally everything else about the film was so painfully by-the-numbers that its really no surprise to me that I forgot about it. Denzel was good, sure. But Denzel is good in everything he does. It's not enough to just drop a great actor into a bad movie and expect the result to be greater than gold.

It's been an interesting summer so far. As much as I loved the original "Sicario," I would never have guessed that we would have got a sequel to it. But we did indeed, and even though I missed Emily Blunt in that one. "Sicario 2" is just as great as the original film is. Who knows, maybe I'll love it even more the next time I see it, as I've only seen it once so far. Then there is the "The Equalizer 2," a movie I was surprised by, a movie I would never expect to exist in any fashion. Yet, here it is and I can't believe how much of it worked. It's not just Denzel being his magnificent self. But they actually gave him something to do.

The movie begins with Denzel Washington's Robert McCall on a train, dressed as a Muslim. He's on a job, and he confronts some men who may have kidnapped a girl. So of course, McCall totally destroys everyone in the room and gets the whereabouts of the girl. Then the girl goes home. This isn't a movie that is necessarily about one incident. We learn that McCall, the retired DIA agent is a Lyft driver by day and pretty much runs a freelance vigilante service at night with his old colleague Ms. Plummer, played by Melissa Leo. He just wants to help the people in his community, but he's also almost like a Frank Castle like figure. There is another point in the movie when as Lyft driver, McCall picks up a girl who clearly has suffered some kind of abuse. He goes back to the men who paid them, and find out his suspicions were the truth and he runs train on kicking everyone's butt.

After a series of losing people close to him, McCall gets wrapped into a political mystery. Yes, I get that a political mystery is as original as Washington playing a dangerous man protecting a young girl. But look, I never said the movie was original. I will argue that it is highly entertaining though. The series still suffers from being a mixed bag of cliches. But the acting is top-notch, the action scenes are high intensity and full of riveting material and the story line is at least, kind of fun this time out. Washington is matched with some great support. Including "Game of Thrones" Pedro Pascal. "Moonlight's" Ashton Sanders shows up as a young man McCall is vigorously trying to keep out of gang life and they make for a sweet subplot. Bill Pullman also shows up and is very good here.

But I am sure the target audience for this movie goes to see this movie to watch Denzel Washington get sweet revenge on the bad guys. Trust me, the movie satisfies in that arena as well. We love watching Washington walk cool, spouting some clever one-liners and taking the villains to task. He does that here with enough style to shake a stick at. So come to watch Washington throw-down, but stay for a story that is better than average, even if you have seen it before.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Today's Behind the Scenes Pic of the Day says "Nice Night For A Walk!"

I may not agree with James Cameron and his views toward superhero movies, but man does the guy have a vigorous imagination. James is responsible for some great movies. "Avatar," and "Titantic" (yes, I said it, sue me) and of course "The Terminator" movies. As far as I'm concerned, the Terminator movies with Cameron's name on them are the only ones that matter. I wish he would have kept up with the franchise.

I'm not sure what's going on in this picture, but I can only imagine that the dialogue back and forth between Schwarzenegger and Cameron was one for the books. You can tell by Schwarzenegger's hairdo that it was taken during the making of T2. From the looks of the photo though, I imagine Schwarzenegger was giving Cameron his ideas for the future of the franchise and Cameron was scared to death of his ideas!


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Review: "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" is more of the same, but still funny

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation Review

Sequels are just tough in general.

You fall into circular plots with the characters. You fall prey to treading water as far as theme and character go. The characters make the same jokes. The characters shamelessly callback to previous movies. Especially when it gets to sequel three and four, it gets harder and harder to keep ideas and characters fresh. For some reason, it seems harder when children's film franchises hit the three and above club. There are just so many times you can make the same joke, or teach children the exact same lesson that several other films have already made and make it still feel relevant. I give them credit for trying, always, but children's franchises seem to run out of steam much faster than the average franchise.

I really enjoy "Hotel Transylvania." I like that it gave Adam Sandler and most of his buddies an outlet to be silly and come up with goofy voices, something they all seem to excel at. But especially Sandler does well with that. I have said for awhile that I think Sandler was meant to be a voice actor, but he missed his calling. I am still happy we got all the classics that he's been apart of but you know...you know. I think the series has been a clever way to update the classic monster archetypes, which is why its been fun for adults to watch. And children? Well, they just love watching these archetypes doing and saying funny things. These are more than just cute movies, they are able to entertain, which is always a plus.

But even when making a threequel, making these characters fresh gets tough. Throughout this entire threequel, we see characters using the same powers in the same ways. We get a refresh on familiar jokes, and familiar themes seem to echo through the story again. This time, the movie introduces Abraham Van Helsing, and not only is the monsters classic foe on board, but he's voiced by non other than Jim Gaffigan. We learn that Helsing has been at war with these monsters for years and years and years. Van Helsing has never been able to kill a single monster and he's always lost. Into the present day, Dracula is still close to his lifelong friends and his daughter is still happy with her family. He needs something new, and his daughter suggests an all monster cruise, a vacation from the everyday life. Because even monsters need to get away.

Dracula gets his family and friends together and they go on the cruise. When they get there, Dracula, who has been single for awhile, meets Erika (Katheryn Hahn) and he begins to fall for her. Although Dracula's daughter begins to think there may be something up with Erika, the ship conductor. If you are reading this review thoroughly, you can probably guess already where this movie is headed. If not, you'll surely figure it out within the first twenty minutes. The movie is not even trying to be clever. I am not sure if they think children won't be able to see it coming, but they didn't try to be clever with the big reveal. Since they have a touching message to push forward, they really didn't need to be clever. They totally phoned in the big reveal, but children's movies aren't known for big reveals so I guess I can't blame them too much.

The animation is, as to be expected, absolutely exceptional. The voice actors try to make it all matter and they are landing their jokes, there is just lots familiarity to much of it. It's a movie that I think you'd call cute. That's why I can hardly get offended by the stuff that doesn't work in this movie. That's why I still enjoy what I am watching even though it all feels familiar. This is a charming movie, and the actors are going overtime to be charming. This is another fun entry in this series, I just hope for next time, they get a different theme added to the new adventure.

FINAL GRADE: C+

The Behind-The-Scenes Pic of the Day asks who you gonna call?

One of the movies that really helped shape the movie fan that I am today is "Ghostbusters."

Most notably because there isn't another movie quite like it. Still to this day there isn't. Many don't attempt to mix cutting-edge special effects with high-concept storytelling and then make it a comedy. It usually spells disaster, but Ivan Reitman and Harold Ramis knew what they were doing and they have created a classic that has just refused to leave my top ten list of favorite movies of all time. Perhaps also it has a sentimental value to me. This was the movie that my grandmother always played for me every time I came to her house to visit. It was the most watched and most talked about among my cousins. So our family has never forgotten it and it is important.

The Behind-The-Scenes Pic of the Day has Bill Murray of all people running down the corridor with the devil dogs looking afar. I can't really tell who that is with him, although the best possible guess is either Reitman or Ramis. This was where the big climax took place. It was a very funny moment within the movie.

I would just love for all that remains of the original cast to come back one more time. But I think that may be out of the question at this point.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Review: "Mission Impossible: Fallout" is the quintessential summer blockbuster

Mission Impossible: Fallout Review

I remain amazed by the oddly wonderful series that is "Mission: Impossible."

I have a collection of old "Mission: Impossible" episodes from television and at this point, I've accepted that "Mission: Impossible" the television series and "Mission: Impossible" the film franchise will never really be alike. Some of the movies are mere James Bond clones, and others the team is utilized better. Because that was always the biggest difference between other spy fiction, the use of the team and how everyone brought something unique. That still hasn't quite happened, but that does not totally mean that Paramount has been doing it wrong this whole time.

The first film is one that I really like, but its not at all what you'd expect from an action spy movie. Nobody was expecting a mind-game movie, and I am still not completely sure I have the movie figured out. I know many fans hated the idea of making Jim Phelps both the villain and a character who died. But again, I still really enjoy the movie. The second film was made by John Woo, and its a very John Woo film and its the most detached I feel from the franchise. The third film made by J.J. Abrams presented a mystery box that never got introduced, and left me bored. Despite the juicy villain Philip Seymour Hoffman got to play. The movies since then have about entertainment, about using the team, bringing favorites back, and having much fun with it all.

"Fallout" may be the best one yet. It's the best team movie of the franchise so far, but still makes great use of Tom Cruise in the lead. Because let's face it, Tom Cruise is the face of this franchise, for better or for worse. I don't understand the utter disdain for the guy. Yes, he's a Scientologist and that's really weird, but when it comes to adding emotion and depth to a character while also maintaining a movie star persona, that's remarkable. He's also one of the few people in the business right now who still does all of his own stunts, and there is something truly amazing about watching a person in the middle of stunt whose real, one that doesn't suddenly turn into CGI for the sake of it. Cruise has become so comfortable in the role of Ethan Hunt that he has become him. Much like Simon Pegg has for Benji Dunne and Ving Rhames as Luthor Stickel. These guys are these characters at this point, and even if they were to phone in a performance, which they don't, you wouldn't be able to tell. Cruise may be the lead, but this is a team movie all the way.

Much like the James Bond franchise, I've remained mystified by the continuity of the "Mission: Impossible" franchise and I am glad this late in the franchise that they are trying to connect things. Alec Baldwin returns as Alan Hunley. Sean Harris returns as Solomon Lane, Michelle Managhan returns as Julia, Rebecca Ferguson returns as Faust. They play key roles in this film, and past films are beginning to link up. There is a new character introduced here who has a connection to the first film and it literally made me woo out loud. This is beginning to feel like a whole story now, and that's always fun in this new age of world building.

The film begins with Ethan Hunt getting the oh-so-popular mission briefing. Turns out that the Rogue Nation organization from the last film has reorganized into a group called The Apostles. This group has obtained some plutonium and is planning to build some bombs. When Hunt and his team track down the plutonium, he makes a snap decision to save one of the members of his team. He puts the world in jeopardy in the process. The CIA brings in one of their Agents, Mr. Walker (Henry Cavill) who oversee Hunt and his team, to make sure he gets the plutonium. 

Before we get too much further into this, let me just discuss Henry Cavill for a bit. The guy is a brute force through much of this movie. His American accent makes me cackle, because he sounds like a commercial for Ford trucks. Cavill has a great onscreen presents, and he's a charisma machine. There is a reason why he works so well as Superman, and this film proves that he's got some dimensions and some range. He's a great future action hero, and really added to splendid fever of this movie.

The film is full of twist and turns, which is to be expected with spy films. There is some great action in the movie, some of the best of the entire franchise. I loved that the old school scores from the old TV show were integrated into the film's overall score here, and it had me grinning from ear to ear. This is what mainstream summer blockbuster filmmaking is all about. When people talk about great summer movies, this is something that is going to be used as a shining example. Easily one of the best films of the summer, this is great time.

FINAL GRADE: A+

Friday, July 27, 2018

Disney successfully buys assets of 20th Century Fox

Its really beginning to get spooky how The Simpsons literally prophecies everything correctly. Forget the writings of Nostradamus, just watch The Simpsons if you want to know the future.

Alas, The Simpsons guessed correctly that Disney would eventually own 20th Century Fox. Now it does, for $71 billion, Disney has acquired several assets of Fox. Not everything, most sports and news outlets will remain at Fox. Arguably though, Disney got all the fun stuff. Rights to their movies, TV shows, and yes, rights to the Marvel characters. That was the biggest part of the news today. Disney will have acquired the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties, including all characters tied to those franchises. Finally, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to be complete.

It was a long, hard-fought battle, if you can even call it that. Comcast put a bid in, there was a stand-still, it took awhile. It was pretty crazy, but in the end, as always, Disney will continue its media dominance, for better or for worse.

There have been some interesting rumors popping up now. Because of the merger, and because Disney has all the Marvel characters at their disposal, there have been rumors that "X-Men: Dark Phoenix" and "New Mutants," the two upcoming X-Men movies, are now being scrapped. Other rumors say that they are going to be modified to fit the MCU mold. We will have to just wait and see, I have read that both of those movies are as bad as 2015's "Fantastic Four." So maybe its good that they are getting shelved? The fate of the current X-Men franchise will be interesting to see play out.

What do you guys think of the merger?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Review: Will "The First Purge" be known as a setback?

The First Purge Review

I have felt for awhile now that "The Purge" movies have had potential for a fun B-movie franchise that I am not sure ever came to be. Sure, they've been monetarily successful, but with each new film, there has always been something missing. The first film was just an excuse for evil people to invade a house without the audience wondering where the cops were. It was one of that year's worst films. The three movies after that have begun to realize the fun to be had with the premise, but there is still so much about them that left me cold. The best of the bunch so far is "Election Year" the only film to ever hit the target so to speak. I thought these films would gradually get better.

"The First Purge" seems like a huge step backward though. For the first time in the franchise, this new film is directed by Gerard McMurray. The brainchild behind this franchise is James DeMonaco, who has stayed on as a producer and writer, but was not in the directors chair. I figured some new blood as director may help this franchise, instead it had the opposite affect. I didn't find "The First Purge" to be very good. It's a horridly-acted, horridly-paced, politically confused film. It is a movie that suffers severely from prequel syndrome. We know the outcome, especially if we've been up to speed on this franchise, so all tension goes right out the window. 

This being "The First Purge," it outlines how The New Founding Fathers came to power and how they began annual Purges. Or at least, that's what the title would suggest to you. What I always wondered is how a vile party came to power in the first place, and the film brushes their origin aside like a fart in the wind. We know that third parties fail to get elected each election because their main causes get absorbed by the two bigger parties. I would have appreciated an explanation, no matter how obtuse, on how this all began. But the movie isn't interested in much explanation. The New Founding Fathers came to be because the story needed them to, and that's always lazy.

We learn that Purges began life as an experiment in Staten Island. There was test run of the 12 consecutive hours of crime-free living. We learn that despite Americans being given the opportunity to commit crimes, how regulated and controlled the Purges were, even from conception. We follow drug dealers who see how corrupt the whole thing is and how an opposition forms from the early days. Basically, we have an hour and half of a big bag of obvious. There is nothing in here that I found very surprising. Nothing that I didn't expect to learn from the first place.

I'd list actors, but the cast assembled is so embarrassingly bad that words fail me. Marisa Tomei shows up as the creator of the Purge, but she's in so little of it that it becomes frustrating. Steve Harris was one of the faces that showed up in lots of 1990's and 2000's movies, and I got excited when I saw him. But again, he's in so little of the film that it feels more like a cheat than anything else. There is such a small quality to the movie that it feels like a TV special and the cast assembled here actually feels like they are acting in a TV special. There isn't much here that actually feels like its from a movie. Except maybe a straight-to-DVD movie.

The movie also tries its hardest to be provocative. But there is no heft or weight to the images here. There are purgers dressed as Klansmen. There is a scene where purgers dressed as cops gang up on a black man. These images are certainly haunting, but in a movie where a night is being designed to make crime legal for a short time, what do these images mean? They are reaching for the big metaphor here, but I am not quite sure what this imagery is suppose to represent. This series has always been about the rich against the poor, and how the rich finds ways to make poor people's lives miserable. I guess in a state of absolute control, people would be a lot more racist? I don't see how the recent trouble with police killing black people connects to the rich versus poor debate. And the movie doesn't do much to make that connection.

If you've been a fan of this franchise, this might be the turning point for you. "The First Purge" is the first time in forever that I was totally agast by what I saw on the screen. It is just another prequel in a line of silly prequels that shouldn't have got made.

FINAL GRADE: D

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Behind The Scenes Pic of the Day celebrates our Independence Day

I began this late, so this might seem a little stale to use right now. But hey, there is still a little time left in July. So why not use "Independence Day" for today's Behind-The-Scenes-Pic of the Day. The following pictures feature some key scenes involving some sweet hardware used by both the humans and the aliens. As you can see, lots of these scenes in the "old days" (if you can even call the 1990's the old days yet, can you? God, it fucking sounds weird.) that models were built just to be blown apart. Two of the pictures below feature the sand chase scene where a renegade alien pilot was chasing a one-liner spewing Will Smith.



Seeing this scene in miniature form is both fascinating and shocking all at the same time. 

The next pic is, I am pretty sure, from when the city destroyer hovered over Area 51 to wipe the last few humans out. At least, that's what it looks like. I do wonder in the age of CGI if the models look better or the CGI crashes with CGI fire.


The DCEU invaded Comic-Con

Marvel doesn't always feel the need to go to San Diego Comic-Con, which is the King of all Comic-Cons. That's the city that began this tradition that spreads like wildfire across the country, invading one city after the other. Marvel went last year, they gave some secrets about Captain Marvel, being released this March. So, what were they going to do, run in circles? Everything about Avengers 4 is being played close to the chest right now. I'll be shocked if we hear anything or see anything until the very end of the year. So before you think they are "scared" or "intimidated" by DC. First, remember who your talking about. Second, DC needs the publicity more than anything right now.

Look, I think the DCEU has the potential to be awesome, these are some of the oldest, most popular superheroes ever created. This should be on par with what Marvel is doing, at the very least. It could be much more profitable than what Marvel is doing, this is coming from a Marvel fanatic. But, despite "Wonder Woman," they really haven't wowed audiences with their work yet. I loved "Man of Steel," but I am probably the only one who did. "Batman vs. Superman" was yuck. "Suicide Squad" was disappointing. "Justice League" was lukewarm. It has been a painfully mediocre experience so far, it could be magnificent.




The two big trailers at San Diego Comic-Con this year were or DC's "Aquaman" and "Shazam!" Aquaman was introduced in "Justice League" and now he's getting a solo movie. I can say that the trailer looks fine. But telling from it, the story just looks like a mixture of "Thor" and "Black Panther" only underwater. In an age where superhero movies are a dime a dozen, what is really going make these movies stand out is how original the concepts feel. If this just feels like its going through the motions, its going to fail. Atlantis is also a bit disappointing, it looks so painfully like "Star Wars" Naboo's underwater civilization that I spent some time looking for Gungans. But Mamoa was charismatic enough, so perhaps he can lead us on the right path. Amber Heard is interesting, and Patrick Wilson is always surprisingly good as a villain. So we'll see.




Some people are writing this off as a superhero version of "Big." And I guess I can't argue that point. I know I just spouted about originality up above, but also what I look for is how well a story can be told. DC may actually have some luck with "Shazam." Its a character that demands a movie to be silly and whimsical and the movie totally looks like its going to be silly and whimsical. So that's great. There is no sign of Zack Snyder's murky signature anywhere, a dark and dour Shazam movie would suck, so tonally its going in the right direction. Zachary Levi was great in "Chuck" and if he can bring some of that "Chuck" like humor, this will definitely be more "Wonder Woman" and less "Batman vs. Superman."

So fingers crossed, I want so bad to love this franchise. Here's to hoping that 2019 is the turning point.

Review: "Father of the Year" is a sometimes funny, mostly weird movie.

Father of the Year Review

I'm not sure what all entails of Adam Sandler's deal with Netflix. I know he is starring in a certain amount of movies for the streaming service. But I didn't realize that his production company, Happy Madison, would be producing movies for the service either. "Father of the Year" is a recent addition to the streaming service. It does not star Adam Sandler, but it stars one of his best buddies David Spade. When this Adam Sandler Netflix revolution began, it seemed like it was going to be a big endeavor of the obvious. It looked like it was going to be Sandler doing his similar shlock with no shame. His two recent movies though, showed some slight progress for the actor. Its funny to note that while he somewhat begins to grow in this late stage in his career, his buddies stay rooted in the same spot. Well, some of his friends at least.

In "Father of the Year" David Spade plays Wayne. But honestly, there isn't a huge difference between Wayne and say, Joe Dirt, or Dickie Roberts, or Marcus Higgins. Wayne is a loser slacker who doesn't want any type of responsibility, a shell of a man he once was. If he ever was a real man at all. We know that his wife passed away at some point, but that's never given much development, so its a story thread left hanging. Wayne has a son named Ben, played by Joey Bragg. He was the valedictorian of his college, and he's all set to move to New York City for his big boy job out of college. He's home for the summer to have one last ho-ray before entering the adult world.

So of course something terrible happens. This is a Happy Madison production, so of course something bad is going to happen. Some bar talk becomes real, as Ben discusses with his friend Larry, played by Matt Shively. They have a conversation about which of their dads could kick the other's ass. Larry's dad is Mardy, played by Nat Faxon, a timid man who has been playing things safe his whole life. He doesn't want an altercation. But Wayne finds out about the conversation, gets drunk, and tries to fight Mardy. The two end up on the roof of Mardy's house. When Ben tries to stop his dad, they both fall off the roof and onto Mardy's neighbor's greenhouse. The neighbors will press charges, unless Ben installs a swimming pool. So Ben gets to work, losing his job due to his overnight prison stay.

These are certainly funny situations, and there are several other funny situations over the course of the film. I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh, I totally laughed. I laughed until I cried at some points. I laughed until my stomach hurt at other points. There are moments so funny I rewound and watched them a couple times before proceeding. The movie has its charms, no doubt about it. It's just structured in a really weird way. The need to build the swimming pool and try to buy back his job stays consistent. Ben's fling with a long lost love interest remains persistent. But Ben building a relationship with his estranged father is so clumsily wrapped up that it feels like parts of it happened off screen. Wayne and Ben also hang out with two other friends, but for some reason they disappear until the end of the movie with absolutely no explanation. Wayne tries to help his son raise money for good tools to use on getting the pool built, then stops, then resumes near the end of the movie. 

The movie is weird in the way that it has a story its telling, but at the same time feels like its not telling a story at all. Story plots begin and end without resolution. Some things make very little sense. Sub plots will begin only to not really resolve later but sort of. Its possibly the weirdest structured movie of the year. But if you like some big laughs, "Father of the Year" at least provides that for you. I guess on that basis, its not a completely boring movie. It's just oddly structured, and with not much resolve.

FINAL GRADE: C

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Behind The Scenes Pic of the Day...is rising

It was EXACTLY six years ago today. The final Christopher Nolan Batman movie was released exactly six years ago today. During that time, I was an Electronics Sales Associate at Wal-Mart. When my shift was done that day, my girlfriend who is now my wife and I raced to theater to see the film. It wasn't midnight, but it was pretty close to. I had been yearning for this film for years and years. Trying frantically to figure out how Nolan would close his Batman story out.

This was a photo of Tom Hardy on set. I remember when everyone saw his appearance in behind-the-scenes photos, that he was going to play Dr. Hugo Strange. A minor Batman villain, but responsible for finding out Bruce Wayne's identity and pretending to be Batman on a couple of occasions for nefarious reasons. It was quickly reported that the actor would be playing Bane, something that seemed more suitable for the actor at the time.

As you can see here, Bane and Batman remained mortal enemies throughout the entire shoot.

To this day, I still have a love/hate relationship with "The Dark Knight Rises." I think its filled with moments that I will remember as a film fan all of my life. But at the same time, there are things about it that just piss me off. I understand that it was a hard shoot. How do you even think about concluding a story after a shocking real-life death. We can argue until we are blue in the face what "The Dark Knight Rises" would look like if Heath Ledger were still alive. I think with what he had, Christopher Nolan did the best he could. Taken as a whole, its a good-looking trilogy.


GLASS Trailer

It's here. Its finally here.

M. Night Shymalan got himself out of the cinematic doghouse last year with the amazing "Split." Even without the twist ending at the end, its still a great movie from start to finish. But adding David Dunne at the end was a special, delicious icing on an already appetizing cake. Now he's bringing back Bruce Willis, James McAvoy and Samuel L. Jackson for "Glass." It is to be one of the more unconventional superhero movies out. After everything Marvel and DC have given us so far, this seems like the next step. Now that we know we can trust Shymalan with things again, I am even more excited.

The trailer is finally here and its amazing!




I know where I'll be in January!


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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

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

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


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

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


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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The First Ever Behind The Scenes Pick of the Day

Okay, so starting something new.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, July 16, 2018

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

Ant-Man And The Wasp Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINAL GRADE: A-  

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Godzilla: King of Monsters pics

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

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


SOURCE:
http://www.aintitcool.com/node/80393

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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

Super Troopers 2 Review

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

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

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

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

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

FINAL GRADE: C+

Monday, July 9, 2018

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

Tag Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINAL GRADE: B

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Keri Russell negotiating for Star Wars Nine!


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

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

Friday, July 6, 2018

Review: "Luke Cage" season two is one of the better Netflix Marvel seasons

Luke Cage season two Review

As much as I've been a Marvel fan, their television endeavors have just not jumped off the screen the way their movies have. I like their TV branch, but I definitely don't love it, and that has been somewhat frustrating because I feel like I should love it. "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is a fun show that is hit or miss with its storylines most of the time. And for Marvel's darker, grittier TV branch, the Netflix Marvel experiment has only produced one all-around great show, and that's "Daredevil." Plus, the big Netflix Marvel mash-up, "The Defenders," seemingly came and landed with a wet fart. Vanishing without a trace on the way out the door. It's really no wonder that there are no plans for a second Defenders team up on the streaming service. It's been a mystery to me how Marvel continues to not do much with its TV side, especially with the rich characters they've been given access to.

Actually, let me stop. I know why Marvel has been fumbling the football with Netflix recently. They've never been able to tackle pacing, and its been a real issue since the beginning. They have these stories built for a movie and they are spreading that story across eight to thirteen hours. That simply doesn't work. No matter how many times Netflix has tried with their Marvel shows, it ends up coming short in a big way. I always just figured that was how it was always going to be. Its been a problem so noticeable that it easily derails any good will these Marvel shows have mustered over at their streaming platform.

The first season of "Luke Cage" in particular, was fun to watch all the way throughout, but the moment they decide to kill Cornell Cottonmouth, the show just comes to screeching halt. The villain that replaces Cottonmouth is visually dorky and totally uninteresting that you are mentally begging for Cottonmouth to rise from the dead somehow. If the Netflix shows have any other sort of problem, its making sure the villains are interesting like the heroes. The first season gave us Cottonmouth, Mariah Dillard and Shades, but Diamondback was dud, through and through. I was scared with Cottonmouth gone, how they'd move forward in a second seasons.

Blame my low expectations, blame whatever you want. I am going to come out and say that the second season of "Luke Cage" was lots of fun. The big thing I notice, and I can't believe there are legit TV critics arguing this point, but the pacing is actually a non-issue this season. The story being told moves at a generous pace and the few filler episodes the season has are actually interesting, they never feel thrown away or just there. They've been made to matter and that makes a big difference. I never really felt bored across the thirteen hours of this season.

Out of all the Netflix Marvel shows, this one seems to embrace the comic world moreso than ever before. What's interesting is the gritty realism of the Netflix world has stayed intact despite all the fanatical elements happening around the characters. Misty Knight returns this season, and after losing her arm in "The Defenders," she's now got the bionic arm from the comics. Luke Cage teams up with Danny Rand for a couple episodes. Mustafa Shakir plays a character who goes by the alias Bushwacker and he's truly a foil to Luke Cage. He's got the bullet defense system in his body, even though its not nearly as strong as Cage's, its effective and it gets the job done. Plus, he's got a superhuman agility which makes him Cage's equal in many fights. All of this plays into why I liked this season, it keeps the comic side intact. No, nobody is really wearing costumes. But you know what, the characters in this show had costumes in the comics and they all looked stupid. So maybe there's a reason for that.

Shakir's work as Bushwacker is strong and he makes a great breakthrough with the character. He's not just an empty character needed so that Luke has a fight. Bushwacker comes from Jamaica, and rises within the Jamaican Yardies of New York (yes, the Yardies are a real ethnic gang, something I've had to explain to many people already.) He's got a history with Mariah Dillard, and he's ready to get some revenge on her. This proposes a problem because Dillard is in the mist of actually trying to become a legitimate businesswoman. Luke Cage reluctantly teams up with Mariah, and other times teams up with Bushwacker. It may sound like it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but fear not. There is a story being told here. I liked that it was story that was continuously keeping me on my toes throughout. 

We also meet Mariah's daughter, Gabrielle Dennis plays Tilda Johnson, who is good with elixirs and potions, again the embracing of comic origins has been lots of fun. It's a totally revision of the character from the comics, but that's okay. The main theme of the character is left intact, and that's what is most important. It's actually amazing how much family and those relationships affect this season. Tilda feels a newfound epiphany when she sees her daughter, an old moment with Cottonmouth revitalizes how much he actually meant to Mariah. Luke Cage focuses with his birth father what it actually means to be a true hero. Family and their dynamics plays big into this new season.

But the new season is much more than just storyline. There is some good action set pieces. The show is clever and smart in the way it reacts to Luke Cage and his power base. This is a guy is bulltproof with super strength, so you got to do something to make up some drama within the show. It can't just be a repeat of what they did last weekend. That gets old real quick. The new characters and the new dynamic definitely helps though, giving the characters more to do makes up for anything that doesn't fit here. Everyone makes strong choices in their performances. The action scenes are well staged, which I felt were boring in the first season. Because let's face it, when a guy has super-strength, its tough to keep that interesting across thirteen hours. The ending lands with some major questions, and this isn't a case of just killing everyone. But there is one major death in particular which will make the future interesting moving forward.

But the big thing for me is that this season kept my interest throughout. This time, that means more than most. They had a story that didn't feel like butter stretched across too much bread. They had a story that was character-driven and fun in equal measure. One story that wasn't afraid to embrace the books in which this series is based upon. I hope this is a new leaf for Netflix Marvel, because it could make this experiment last much longer.