Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Alec Baldwin is Thomas Wayne

Looks like the legendary, Donald Trump impersonating Alec Baldwin will be joining the Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix, to be directed by "Hangover's" Todd Philips and produced by equally legendary Martin Scorsese. The word on the street is that Baldwin will play Thomas Wayne, the father of Bruce Wayne. So yes, it looks like they are going full origin for this story, as Thomas Wayne isn't dead yet. Whether or not we'll see a little Bruce Wayne running around remains to be seen. But as it has been rumored, this is intended to be an origin story. It will apparently be loosely based on the famous origin Joker comic, "The Killing Joke," written by the amazing Alan Moore. Which has all but been canonized as Joker's true origin.

What do I think? Well Alec Baldwin is great in everything he does, so its definitely a plus. This origin movie though is just a huge question mark for me. Especially since Jared Leto's Joker isn't going anywhere. It's still strongly rumored that Leto will have a solo movie with Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn and will also appear in the sequel to "Suicide Squad." So what is with all the Joker mania going on over at DC? Can't figure it out.

I guess because its one of the most popular villains ever that the studios feel the need to cash in on this nostalgic time we are living in?

Only time will tell, but I still don't get the point of this origin story, even if it has a bunch of cool people attached to it.

Still, Alec Baldwin is a good get.


Tonight's Behind-The-Scenes Pic of the day wants to give you your boat back

When the second half of "IT" comes out next year, I truly hope that everyone who liked the first half will truly see what a fascinating story it is. I would never argue against someone who didn't like or didn't see the appeal in Stephen King. Because he isn't like anybody else in horror. If he was, he probably wouldn't be the writer he is today and would not have seen so much success. I think it takes someone truly remarkable and truly talented make room for themselves inside an entire genre. But yes its true, nobody does it like King. I think there is a bigger audience for him than I thought. "IT" was treated like a wee experimented and ended up being a huge commercial blockbuster as far as horror films are concerned.

Anybody who saw "IT" last year will remember this scene. Its when Eddie Kasbrack got traumatized by a leper and Pennywise first confronted him. Pennywise, played by Bill Skarsgaard is having some fun with the director Andy Muschietti.


Friday, August 24, 2018

Ten Directors Who Could Make "Guardians of the Galaxy 3"

So, for anybody unaware, there has been some controversy kicking up at Disney. James Gunn is the man who directed both "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies. Not only that, but he was the executive producer on "Avengers: Infinity War." He was called in to council the Russo Brothers on Infinity War, because the brothers wanted to get the Guardians right. They counseled with Ryan Coolger for Black Panther and Jon Favreau for Iron Man. Gunn has been a valuable architect for an entire corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is also somebody who has been very vocal about Trump, which lead to some conservatives to read through his social media and found decade old jokes about rape and pedophilia. Because of this James Gunn has been fired from Disney and Marvel and the world of fandom has been in a divided uproar ever since.

I am not here to have a political debate. I am not here to discuss the situation. Sadly, whether you like it or not, Gunn isn't coming back. Yes, there was a petition signed by a hefty group of fans, but Disney isn't backing down. Instead of dwelling on the past, I wish to look to the future. Just because one man was the architect to a group of characters, doesn't mean he's the only person worthy enough to direct them. As much as I love what Gunn did, he's not coming back, and I think there are some worthy directors who could make a great third volume in this franchise if given the chance.

1. Taika Waititi
Director Of: "Thor: Ragarok," "What We Do In The Shadows," "The Hunt For The Wilderpeople"
Waititi is a huge favorite right now because fans loved what he did with "Thor: Ragnarok," and while I thought that movie leaned into its humor a little too much, I give Waititi kudos for bringing his brand of humor to the MCU. Waititi was an indie director prior to "Ragnarok" and his control over the mainstream was something remarkable. Due to the humor in "Ragnarok," many people think he's all but a shoe-in for "Guardians." Many fans are fan-hiring him already, so perhaps he's too safe a choice. Still, I'd love to see what he'd do.

2. Ben Stiller
Director of: "Tropic Thunder," "Cable Guy," "Reality Bites," "Zoolander"
You may know him as the guy from "Zoolander" and being Gaylord Focker. But the fact of the matter is Stiller has directed seven movies. He proved with "Tropic Thunder" that he make a movie full of action and something that was also funny in equal measure. If you also look at something like "Reality Bites," Stiller can get some unexpected brilliance out of his actors. With that blend of humor, action shots and fierce performances, Stiller could make a Marvel movie unlike any other.

3. Lana and Lily Wachowski
Directors of: "The Matrix Movies," "Speed Racer," "Cloud Atlas," "Jupiter Ascending"
This duo has made things as big and bombastic as "The Matrix" and "Speed Racer" and things as experimental and colorful as "Cloud Atlas." These sisters have been dealing in high concepts and big blockbusters since, well, almost since they got on the Hollywood scene. There is nobody working today who has a hand and an ear for this stuff like the Wachowski's. I know they aren't very commercially minded anymore, so I doubt they'd even be interested in taking a meeting with Kevin Feige, but I hope they are at least on the table.

4. Ava DuVernay
Director of: "A Wrinkle In Time," "Selma," 
Okay, I get it. Marvel asked DuVernay about "Black Panther" and she ended up passing. I know she's not the first people would think to choose. But I think that's a flaw. I think its just as simple-minded and wrong for African American directors to ONLY direct African American comic book characters. Or women directors to only direct women comic book characters. I'd love to see DuVernay do something more carefree, colorful and funny. "A Wrinkle In Time" also proved that she can fit into the high concept blockbuster field with ease.

5. Paul Fieg
Director of: "Ghostbusters 2016," "Bridesmaids," "Spy," "I Am David"
Yes, I get it. I wasn't a huge fan of "Ghostbusters" from 2016. But I think there were some charms to it and it proved that Paul Fieg can do well with special effects and big production. With a filmography as diverse as "Ghostbusters," and "Bridesmaids" and "Spy" and "I Am David," Fieg could be a special choice for the third outting with the a bunch of A-holes.

6. Brad Bird
Director of: "The Iron Giant," "The Incredibles Movies," "Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol"
He's thrilled us with his action. He's delved into the world of superheroes already. He has made us laugh in equal measure that he's made us cry. He's hid metaphors upon metaphors in his movies. He's also got a good ear for music. So why not hire the man behind "The Incredibles" to take a stab at the Guardians?

7. Chris Miller and Phil Lord
Directors of: "The LEGO Movie," 21 & 22 Jump Street," "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs," "The Last Man On Earth"
Well, Chris Pratt sure loves them so they have that. My only big question is if they would even be interested. They were replaced by Ron Howard on "Solo: A Star Wars Story" so I do wonder if they'd even be interested in a meeting with Disney.

8. Joe Cornish
Director Of: "Attack The Block"
Okay, this is a personal, PERSONAL choice. But "Attack The Block" was so fun, so awesome and so much in the wheelhouse of what Marvel is looking for that I can't believe Cornish not being considered. The only thing is, Cornish is mostly a writer, and one of the projects he worked on was "Ant-Man," he's close friends with Edgar Wright, who left that project as director due to creative differences. Would that persuade Cornish to not direct?

9. Matthew Vaughn
Director of: "X-Men: First Class," "Kick-Ass." "The Kingsman Movies"
Between being a director and writer, Matthew Vaughn is a guy who specializes in comic book movies. He's made the best "X-Men" movie so far. He's close with Mark Millar and has adapted most of his output with glee. He's got quite the ear for music, he can handle humor and big action and does well with a host of big stars in one movie.

10. Adam McKay
Director of: "Anchorman," "Talladega Nights," "Step Brothers," "The Big Short"
Looking at McKay's resume, you'd think I'd lost my mind even considering him. Yes, he specializes in raunchy, lout humor. But he also worked on the script for "Ant-Man," so he already has a relationship with Marvel established. He proved with "The Big Short" that he's much more of an artist than just a Will Ferrell collaborator and can bring much to a movie. Can he had a high-concept film with lots of special effects? I wanna find out!

I considered these people based upon what we love about The Guardians. There is an amazing blend of special effects, cool worlds, action and humor and I think all of these people have more than enough potential to excel in those fields. I would be confident in the future of the franchise with any of these people at the helm. They each would be worthy replacements to James Gunn.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review: "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies" has a fun hook, but is ultimately too cute.

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies Review

It will come to no surprise that I have never watched an episode of "Teen Titans Go!" I am aware of the Teen Titans as a superhero group. I know the various characters and their powerbases, I have seen them in action. I know, like many DC properties, there have been about a thousand different cartoons and TV shows of these characters, so even trying to keep up with all of them can be a chore. I only have "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies" to judge the "Teen Titans Go!" cartoon. From what I saw from the movie, the Go! version of these characters are the cutsie-poo versions of these characters. 

See, that's the key to any family movie, even if it based on a pre-existing property. There is a fine line between being too cute and just being plain cute. Its a line that even giant studios like Dreamworks and Pixar can struggle to overcome. Yes, when a "family movie" is released, the target audience are the kids in this movie. But the best family movies ever made have always had something for everyone. Its the best ones that can have adults and children laughing in equal measure. It's not as much fun when the children are hysterically laughing and the adults are just checking their watches, hoping to get some kind of release after a long week at the office.

The original voices of "Teen Titans Go!" helm the voice work in "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies," and the voices include Greg Cipes as Beast Boy; who can shapeshift into different animals. Scott Menville as Robin; Batman's sidekick who is coming into his own as a superhero and leader. Khary Payton as Cyborg; who you may remember if you saw "Justice League" in November. Tara Strong as Raven; a half-human, half-demon lady-wizard. Finally, there is Hyden Walch as Starfire; who can fire bolts of energy. Will Arnett produced this film, and he provides the voice of Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke. The main adversary of the Titans, and who you will remember if you watch "Arrow" on the CW. Its totally different type of work if you remember Arnett's voice work as Batman in the recent LEGO movies. But Arnett makes it his own. The thing is, Deathstroke, no matter how hard you try, is a lame character for a cutsie cartoon movie. This is one of the most lethal people in the DC universe, and it feels off him steeling crystals and pouting kiddie one-liners.

The premise of the movie revolves around the Teen Titans trying to be recognized as a legitimate, and trustworthy superhero team. The only way to really do that is make it big in the movies. So the team tries during the movie to have one of their adventures be made into a movie. It may seem really on-the-nose as a metaphor, but it kind of works. I mean, B and C-class superheroes are now A-list characters thanks to movies. There are many Hollywood types who feel people may or may not be suffering from superhero fatigue in movies. There are some serious jokes to be made about the state of superheroes in movies and how we judge who is popular as a comic book character based on their movies. There are some quasi-funny jokes about "Batman vs. Superman" that made me cackle. But overall, this film feels like a missed opportunity. It could have really been a clever and undercover comment on the modern superhero movie and how its impacted Hollywood. Instead, its just another morality lesson, one that feels like it was made before. After all the kids movies being made, it feels like you can only make the same revelations so many times. So why not find a clever way to say something while hiding the lesson, like, say "The LEGO movies?"

I get it. This is meant for kids. There are songs and dancing that I am sure the average kid will enjoy. The songs abruptly stop, which I thought was weird, but then pick up later. But there is adventure and big action and fun moments. That is what a movie like "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies" is really all about and there are some things if you are a DC fan. Also if you know your cartoons, there is a interesting mid-credit scene. But other than that, this is a movie that feels too cute. The animation exaggerated to the point of being unreal. Plus, it just feels like a do-gooder moral lesson is one I've already learned. I know its important to be a good person and eat your vegetables. But after many movies of that, its time for some outside-the-box action.


FINAL GRADE: C-

Review: "The Meg" is an exercise in ridiculousness

The Meg Review
Last month, I called "Mission: Impossible Fallout" the quintessential summer blockbuster. I think I may have spoke too soon. Perhaps, after careful consideration, maybe "The Meg" is the quintessential summer blockbuster. It could definitely make a run as the quintessential "Jaws" rip-off, but perhaps that's being a little too naive. If "The Meg" feels like anything, it feels like one of those cheesy movies the SyFy channel releases, but with a slightly better budget and the ease of hiring actors like Jason Statham, Ruby Rose and even Rainn Fucking Wilson. Its got the story of one of those SyFy movies too. Its literally about the search for a large shark, and then finding said large shark. Then, in the last forty minutes of the movie, the large shark is eaten by an even LARGER shark!

It sounds ridiculous, but during the summer, what's wrong with a little ridiculous nature? "The Meg" is a ridiculous movie, but it wears that on its sleeve of a shirt. It wears it like a badge of the highest honor. "The Meg" is a type of movie where you should know what you are getting into before you walk into the theater. If you don't turn your brain off and allow yourself to be entertained, you are doing it wrong. The movie has lots of recognizable actors in it, but they know they are in a silly movie. This isn't like "Armageddon," where the silly story is taken a little too seriously. "The Meg" plays light on its feet pretty much throughout. Even Statham feels like he's adjusted his tough guy persona slightly to fit the hammy environment he's occupying. The special effects on the sharks is pretty bad, but is it intentional? I'd almost guess yes. The story itself is pretty simple, resulting in a by-the-numbers and ludicrous shark hunt. It's got big monsters, big effects and some one-liners, so of course it feels like the quintessential summer movie! 

The first half of the movie actually feels like a drag. The movie mainly focuses in the long stretch of the first half on a rescue mission. Jason Statham plays Jonah Taylor and he decides that he's going to rescue his ex-wife from a submarine base called the Mana One. The Mana One had an oceanographer crew studying a deeper Mariana's trench, until something big smacked into the base, putting the entire crew at danger. So most of the movie, perhaps too much of the movie, is spent on this rescue mission. You are getting bored. You wondering when you are finally going to see some big sharks. The rescue is not very exciting are intense, and you spend a lot of time sitting wondering when something is going to happen. Perhaps "The Meg," short for the extinct shark megalodon, would have been better suited as a short film.

Once the rescue is over and they capture what appears to be the megalodon, and that bigger shark I discussed reveals itself and it begins to attack a beach...well things get so far off the rails that its sort of fun. Again, nothing here is worth consequence. Everyone involved knows that what they are apart of shouldn't be taken seriously. Living in a time where brands are taking over every season of a movie year, it feels almost punk rock to make a dumb summer movie during the summer movie season. It also feels like a borderline miracle that it can capture some fun, so zany weirdness and all the silliness that encapsulates a dumb movie from summer. It's not meant to be taken seriously, so please don't. If you need every movie you see to be an Oscar contender, then don't drop by this one.

FINAL GRADE: C

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!