Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Review: New Hellboy will make you miss the days of Del Toro

Hellboy Review

Guillermo del Toro got the ball rolling with Hellboy on screen in 2004. I really like that movie. But "Hellboy: The Golden Army," that is a movie that is the prime definition of a movie that was much better than it needed to be. It is easily one of my very favorite sequels. The summer of 2008 and was a money fest. So it was easily for less recognizable titles getting lost in the shuffle, but that is too bad, because that is a great, great sequel. It was weird, because del Toro set up a crazy story for a potential third movie. He also, roughly a year ago, put a Twitter poll allowing people to vote whether or not they wanted to see his third movie. Weird, because after his poll came back overwhelmingly in his favor, it was decided the whole series would be rebooted.

We got David Harbour stepping in for Ron Perlman. We got Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane and Sasha Lane. It certainly feels like a Hellboy movie. It has a dark sense of humor. It is shockingly violent in some parts, and eerily dark in others. I think there was potential to make an interesting Hellboy movie with this cast. But this new film commits the cardinal foul. It all feels like a big fat, "been there, done that."

It was the same problem I had when Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 4" was halted at Sony and they rebooted the franchise with Marc Webb at the helm. Re-watch Raimi's film closely, and then watch the two films Webb made. Sam Raimi had a unique vision for his Spider-Man stories, and it looked like Webb was trying way too hard to imitate what had come before, even though his story was a reboot. If you watch all those movies in a row, it feels like the same universe, except the leads are different. That and well, "The Amazing Spider-Man" movies have a much worse quality to them.

That's how I feel when I watched Neill Marshall's "reboot" of "Hellboy." David Harbour looks way too much like Ron Perlman. I don't know if that was intentional. It couldn't be, this is a redo, so how could it be intentional? What's also weird is that Harbour seems to be trying too hard to channel Ron Perlman in his performance. He never takes the steps to make the character his own. Something that actually disappointed me, because Harbour is a great actor. The ritual that brought Hellboy to earth looks so similar to how it does in the first movie, that there is barely a difference. I am also convinced that the B.P.R.D. building from del Toro's franchise was reused in this franchise.

We've seen three different versions of Batman on film so far. In Michael Keaton's movies, Christian Bale's movies, and Ben Affleck's movie, even though the origin of Batman is the same, they all feel different. There is very little that separates this new Hellboy from the old, so why even reboot? Its like they don't even want to try. I wish this wasn't my only complaint though. The special effects on display are rancid, just terrible. Milla Jovovich is a beautiful woman, and she's given some memorable performances, but sometimes she can lose it. This is a time when she lost it, and I never thought she was a very convincing villain. Then there's the plot. My god, my god the plot. It tries to play so closely to what we saw in the 2004 film while also trying to do something different, and it ends up like a messy painting. There is such a tug-of-war going on that I can't believe this even got greenlit.

There was a big opportunity that was missed here, and it makes me sad. You'd think coming off an Oscar win, del Toro would have had the muscle to do what he wanted, to finish his "Hellboy" story. But I guess, sometimes those things don't work out. We are all poorer for it. This new "Hellboy" will not become a cult classic, del Toro's movies will. This will hit the bargain bin at Wal-Mart the second its released on bluray.

FINAL GRADE: D

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

First Look at Disney+ The Mandalorian

Star Wars Celebration came and passed and I think the most exciting thing that was announced was "The Mandalorian." This is the first live-action Star Wars television series. It is being show run by "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau. There was a first look at the series at the Celebration and somebody successfully bootlegged a little trailer/behind-the-scenes clip of the show. This show will premiere on Disney+ at some point during the first year of the launch, and is just another good reason why the Disney streaming service probably won't fail. I love that Pedro Pascal is the lead, he will be playing a brand new character, and I can't wait to meet him.




Oh and Taika Waititi is directing one of the episodes? Holy shit, I can't wait!

Review: Netflix continues to rip off "A Quiet Place" with "The Silence"

The Silence Review

Netflix released "Bird Box" at the tail-end of last year, and while it certainly made some kind of mark on popular culture at the time, it has certainly faded. I remember it being a kind of rip-off of the much superior "A Quiet Place." Instead of a world where you can't talk, "Bird Box" was about a world where you can't open your eyes. Oooh! Now in 2019, Netflix has made their own world without sound. It is called "The Silence." Oooh! Real original. I don't know what John Krasinski thought would happen when he made "A Quiet Place," but I bet he would have never guessed that Netflix would be ripping him off left and right.

"The Silence" begins with a bunch of scientist types walking through an old tomb. Of course, in movies like this, scientists are never as smart as they are in real life. Sometimes that can lead to some dumb fun. Other times it can lead to some mind-numbing atrocity. I'll let you decide as you read this review where "The Silence" lies. As these scientist types continue to search through the tomb, they release a species of bat-like creatures thought to be extinct. They viciously kill the people then fly into the night. Then we get an oh-so-familiar opening title sequence, feeling like every other Netflix Original.

Then we meet Ally Andrews (Kiernan Shipka) a teenager who recently became deaf from an accident. She has to deal with bullies, but she's trying to make the best of the bad situation. She's got a loving family and a loving boyfriend. Stanley Tucci plays her father, Hugh and Miranda Otto plays her mother, Kelly. The Andrews also care for Kelly's mom, Lynn (Kate Trotter). This family is living out their life in harmony when they are awoken after 3am to news reports. Seems like something awful is attacking major cities all over the United States. They are being told to stay in their homes and stay silent. So of course, the family doesn't stay put. They try to travel to find a safer place with Hugh's best friend, Glenn (John Corbett). Why they decide to leave the comfort of their homes to find somewhere safer is beyond me.

They eventually find a house, a woman lives there. She is nothing but a red shirt though. What's also mind-boggling is as this poor woman is getting killed by the vesps, the bat-like creatures that got released, the Andrews family never steps in to help her. She just ends up dying, then the family defends themselves. There are so many decisions made in this movie that boggled my mind that it took me out of the movie several times.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg for "The Silence." Stanley Tucci is clearly on auto-pilot, its almost like he knows he's in a bad movie. The movie works like a checklist of all the things we are supposed to see in a movie like this, but its just that, a checklist. It doesn't illuminate its cliches in any real way, or hell even in an entertaining way. Its Kiernan Shipka who is the main star here, and she does what she can. She does the deaf moments of her character fine. It's just that she doesn't really have a character to play. She's a type. Like I said, she's fine, this whole thing would have probably been better if these actors had actual characters to play.

There are also some bad guys. Because of course there are. In an apocalyptic future, there is a leader of a religious cult, who have all cut their tongues out to protect them from the vesps. They want the Andrews family to join them, but Hugh doesn't want to. So the leader of this group, played creepily by Brian MacLellan, tries to attack the Andrews family. He talks about the possible fertility of Ally. Because of course he does. It wouldn't be an apocalyptic future movie without a creepy bad guy trying to rape the best-looking young actress in the movie. But thankfully, that doesn't happen. When the best thing about a movie is that nobody got raped, then something has gone terribly wrong.

FINAL GRADE: D-

Friday, April 12, 2019

Star Wars 9 trailer

The Episode 9 trailer is here.

The title has been revealed...

Get ready for "Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker!"

I wish I was making this up, but I am not.




Its a pretty quick teaser. Not many plot details revealed. We get a nice scene of Rey doing some cool Jedi stuff over what I presume is a Luke voiceover. It was nice to see Lando again. There is something about Luke's voiceover though. "Nobody is really gone." So that means Luke Force ghost, yes.

The movie is called Rise of Skywalker, so that means Kylo lied to Rey, right? Shes related to the family somehow right? Or does Kylo redeem himself? Thats a little too familiar.

That laugh at the end? That's Palpatine, yes? So, what are we thinking? Force ghost? Clone?

Look, I will see this just to see how they wrap things up, but "The Last Jedi" has certainly tempered my feelings about this. I don't care how much money these things have made. I don't care what the fanboys say, Disney messed up. They did. This could have been a golden goose for years but they burned it down. The fallout from The Last Jedi made "Solo" a box office disappointment. There is a reason that Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the movies are going on hiatus after episode nine. There is a reason why the anthology movies have stopped altogether. Disney messed this thing up a bit. I can only hope that JJ Abrams can stick some kind of landing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Lion King Trailer



There are plenty of people who don't care about these Disney live action remakes. I get that, it seems pretty shameless to just remake their classics for new generations with no cartooning going on. Disney just isn't trying at this point, they could basically count as a United States mint. But I have to be honest, some these live action movies have worked for me. I love "The Jungle Book" from 2016. Jon Favreau made that and he made this too, which makes me more interested than I probably would be.

This looks absolutely majestic. I know I'm not looking at real animals, but dear god, it LOOKS like I am looking at real animals. I love it, I'll be there!

Review: "Unicorn Store" is a statement by Brie Larson

Unicorn Store Review
"If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans"

That's a quote my brother says all the time, he's said it a few times throughout life. I never quite felt the sting of that quote until recently. If you asked me a decade ago, where I'd be today, my answer would not look at all like the life I'm living right now. Sure, there are those who have their heart set on goals, and they achieve those goals. But some people have bad luck, or obstacles arise that you didn't see coming, or things just simply change. A combination of those three things kind of happened to me. But you know what? The life I am living right now is much better than I could ever imagine. I have a great wife and I have an adorable little daughter and those things are my main sources of happiness. Sometimes your goals change too, and I have different priorities now, so I am not sure I have failed yet.

Brie Larson plays Kit in "Unicorn Store," a movie she also happened to direct as well. Kit from the moment she was born was seemingly obsessed with unicorns. You know when your child and your imagination runs wild 24 hours a day and seven days a week? When I was five-years-old, I totally thought I could pull off being Batman. Of course my parents laughed, but I was totally serious. Kit obsessions forced her to want to take care of unicorns when she got older. But as she got older and older, that dream never went away. So much so, that now that she's almost 30, she's still obsessed with them. 

When we initially meet Kit, she's trying to make as an artist, but her taste is a little too...shall we say..girly. Because she's such a unicorn fan, they are front and center in all of her creations. She over-indulges with bright colors and glitter and it doesn't work for her in todays art scene. She goes home disappointed. It doesn't help that she has overbearing parents, who want her to get a job and have a normal life. But what is normal? How can we all have a normal. If everybody has different wants and needs, and hell people are just different in general, how do you define normal? But she eventually tries to plant her feet in a "big girl job."

Eventually she gets invited to meet The Salesman. He is played by the always wonderful Samuel L. Jackson. Its a typical out-of-left-field performance by Jackson and of course he nails it. He convinces Kit that he can get her a unicorn to take care of, but she has to complete certain tasks. She has to create a stable for it and a slew of other tasks. She goes for it, this is everything she's ever wanted. So what if it doesn't make sense, she's going to go for it. That's the big meaning of the movie, to follow your dreams. No matter what people say, complete your dreams. Also, be you. No matter what. Let your freak flag fly, who cares what anybody thinks.

The movie plays a fun game of keeping up the "is she really going to get a unicorn game." For a directorial debute, Larson may be up to something here. "Unicorn Store" is definitely more style than substance, but its a charming little film. It's got a solid cast also featuring Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford and Hamish Linklater. It took a few years to finally be picked up by Netflix. I don't know the story, but perhaps there is an underlying metaphor there. Keep your dreams up, even much later, they can still come true.

FINAL GRADE: B

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Addams Family Trailer

"The Addams Family" was a show that was way before my time.

While I have some vague memories of watching re-runs of the old, black-and-white show. My memory is just that, vague. Of course the iconic musical number that opens the show is the biggest thing I remember from it. The theme song was featured on a kid-friendly Halloween CD that I played every October when I was a daycare center teacher. I often found that funny. If was pretty unfamiliar with the show, how will four-year-old's know what it is?

I also have very vague memories of the 1990's movie with Christina Ricci and Anjelica Houstan. I am by no means a Addams Family expert, I admit it. So I guess that's why I am more open-minded about this animated version. They've got a great cast for voices, and it looks fun. What do my Addams Family experts think?


Monday, April 8, 2019

March Madness Heroes vs. Villains All-Stars...The Winner is...

That was a quick few weeks.

Starting in March, we pit some of the most popular characters from movies and TV, heroes and villains, then have you vote for your favorites. After four years of doing this, I decided to try something different. I brought back a bunch of characters who went far in the passed years, to see who was the ultimate hero or villain. The results are in, and now we can claim a winner...




Batman had some stiff competition. We've had some big names show up over the last few years. From Indiana Jones to John McClane, the voting was pretty fierce throughout Batman's entire journey, there was nothing about this that was easy. Even when Batman faced the TV Hero Champion...Buffy The Vampire Slayer...it never got easier. But Batman remained persistent. Batman has received his fourth MMHvV championship, winning four out of the five competitions.

This year particularly had a great voter turn-out. For that, I want to give you all thanks. Next year, the Final Four return with a new list of challengers to face!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Review: "Shazam!" could pave the way for a better DCEU!

Shazam! Review
You want to know who the arch-nemesis of DC Movies is? Its the studio itself.

I had a brief conversation about the current legacy of the DCEU and the DC movies in general, and one thing I've noticed over the years is that the studio itself is its own worst enemy. Every time they take a step forward, they are almost destined to take one step backward. Hey, I try not to be biased. I can give you a list of all things I don't think work in the Marvel movies, and it wouldn't be a short list. But Marvel has done a good job slowly building a world onscreen, and they've been particular about what to expect from this world, what the rules are and how things work. It seems DC has been so desperate to catch up with their rival, that they are creating a world that really doesn't make a whole lot of sense onscreen.

I don't want that to sound like DC should just mimic what Marvel is doing, because the DC and Marvel worlds are so different. Sure, they are both superhero worlds, but the tones and ideas displayed make them very different. In their journey to course-correct, DC shouldn't be so eager to take their complaints to the extreme. They don't need to do what Marvel is doing, and they don't need to try as hard as they think they need to. The secret ingredient to any good superhero movie is the same that makes any adaptation great. Hire the people who are passionate about the story and the characters, then stay out of their way. After almost a decade, DC may finally be getting that hint.

I never reviewed it for my site, but I thought "Aquaman" was a fun movie. Certainly not a great movie, and possibly not even a good movie. But it was definitely fun. Its definitely gorgeous to look at. Its absolutely hilarious watching Mamoa throw-down, because he's destined to be a star. There's a ton of crazy freaking action packed in it too. There some missteps, but they almost don't matter. With that said, it feels like everything I've been missing from DC movies was found in "Shazam!" I think its the only DCEU movie to work the most overall. I hope that statement means something, because I actually really like "Wonder Woman" and (believe it or not) "Man of Steel." Is "Shazam!" a perfect movie? No, not quite. But it comes the closest to getting there. I can only hope that DC uses this movie as a template of what they should be doing instead of just throwing things at the wall and seeing what will stick.

You could describe "Shazam!" as "Big" with superpowers. Essentially there is a teenager named Billy Batson, played by Asher Angel. He's a kid who has been bounced around foster home to foster home. Pretty much on the road, running away constantly. He's trying to find his mother, who he lost in the middle of a carnival when he was very young. Billy gets taken into a huge foster family, while Billy's foster siblings Darla (Faithe Herman), Mary (Grace Fulton), Eugene (Ian Choi) and Pedro (Jovan Armand) are all accommodating, it's Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) who instantly gravitates towards Billy. Its clear that Billy's new foster parents have (Cooper Andrews and Marta Milans) have created a real, loving home.

The underlying message of this movie is family, and that instantly grabbed me even before any superhero shenanigans really start taking place. I've talked about it a few times now during certain reviews. But I was adopted, and thankfully I've got the best example of loving parents you could ask for. I see a lot of my own parents in the foster parents Billy gets here. Easily one of the biggest attributes of Billy's character is how we watch him chase a family he'll never find, when the best possible family is right in front of him. Yes, we get to choose our friends, we don't get to choose our family. Sometimes friends become our family, and sometimes our family is right in front of our eyes. You definitely feel this as you watch the movie. 

Billy is eventually transported to another dimension, and meets a wizard named Shazam (Djimon Hounsou). The wizard claims Billy as his champion and he plans to give him his magical powers to protect Earth from evil. Now, every time Billy yells Shazam, he transforms into an adult with a huge host of superpowers. This is where the movie really brings in the silly. I've always thought that DC had a weirder world compared to Marvel, and Shazam is definitely one of the strangest superheroes there is anywhere. What I think "Shazam" did that I wish "Justice League" did was it really leaned into its silliness, and because the movie did that it was more emotional and more fun. I'm sorry but its a lot sillier to treat a weapon of mass destruction called a Mother Box seriously than it is to embrace the fun of watching Zachary Levi play a fifteen-year-old stuck in a 38-year-old's body. Zachary Levi is one of those great actors who has just been waiting for the right role, and I hope this is the one that turns him into a star. There is a fine line between "childlike" and "childish" that I think Levy walks that line well, its great starring role for him.

It's equally rewarding to watch Levy bounce off of Grazer. I've seen Grazer in "It" from 2017 and "Beautiful Boy" from last year. After those two movies plus "Shazam!," I'm convinced he'll be one of the best actors of his generation. Grazer's Freddy is a superhero fanatic, and there are long stretches of the movie between Freddy and Billy where they are testing Billy's powers, making YouTube videos. Yes, lots of it goes to Billy's head, he's a teenager. He also happens to be a teenager who has lots going on in his world. So of course he becomes a cocky little shit. Freddy is a good foil to that. He's disabled, he understands the responsibility and watching the eventual clash of ideas is wrenching and well-earned.

The best superhero movies have an equally potent villain, and they did good picking Doctor Sivana. Mark Strong can play great villains in his sleep, so there was no problem there. But what's great is how Sivana's origin mirrors Billy's in some ways, just more distorted and tragic. At the beginning of the movie we see a young Sivana being tested by Shazam, and ultimately not chosen to be Shazam's champion. He spends the rest of his life trying to find the wizard again. He comes from a broken home much like Billy. Between the wizard and his father and his brother, Sivana is constantly told he's never good enough. It sickens him to learn as an adult that some punk teenager was chosen as Shazam's champion but he wasn't. Which leads him to do some not-so-good things. Like I said, Strong runs with it and he's the perfect foil to Levi's Shazam.

Which also leads to one of the film's oddest decisions. Like many DC movies, tone becomes a problem with this movie. "Shazam!" is being heavily advertised as a kid-friendly, fun-loving, lightly-toned superhero movie. For much of its runtime, it certainly is that. But when Doctor Sivana becomes a vessel for demons that represent the seven deadly sins, things become nightmarish quick. I am not exaggerating at all when I say that the CGI design of the demons is absolutely scary, and the scenes that involve them can cause nightmares. They went way too dark with certain scenes, and I have read that parents of already been complaining. If you thinking of taking your kids, be warned. There is also some harsh language for a PG-13 rated movie.

Despite these decisions, it was the gracious story arcs and fun nature that eventually won me over. Nothing like Shazam should be gritty, and it was just a fun ride to be on. Its also a movie that has fun with the overall history of the character while also being a contained story. The cameo with D.J. Controna and Adam Brody made me cackle, because if you know DC history, you know back in 2007 D.J. Controna would have played Superman and Brody would have played The Flash in the Justice League movie that almost got made that year. While also being vocal about being in the greater DCEU, it remains a contained story. It isn't connecting the dots like Marvel does. Marvel movies have been very Marvel. In their comics, there are plenty of hero crossovers and grand plans. That's just the nature of the brand. So I really like that "Shazam!" swung in the other direction. Perhaps DC is finding its feet again, and maybe...just maybe, they'll become a real box office challenge for Marvel in the future.

FINAL GRADE: B+

Saturday, April 6, 2019

March Madness Heroes vs. Villains All-Stars reaches its climax...

A few short weeks ago, I began an all-star edition of March Madness Heroes vs. Villains. I brought back a bunch of heroes and villains I had used in this event from the last four years to see who was the ultimate of awesome. There have been some big surprises along the way, because it wouldn't be a March Madness anything unless there were some surprises. In the end, we finally have our ultimate hero and our ultimate villain, and its time to crown a winner. For the first ever all-star edition of Heroes vs. Villains, we have Batman representing the heroes. He's a guy who has won four out of the five Heroes vs. Villains championships. Then we have Lord Voldemort, who went pretty far in our first ever event five years ago.

Look out for the polls on my social media outlets!Here's a link to my Twitter account. Here's a link to my Facebook account. You can also vote by emailing me at bloggershawn@gmail.com. Or you can simply comment in the comment section below. You have ALL WEEKEND to vote. On Monday morning, we will have a winner.

BATMAN VS. VOLDEMORT!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Review: "Captive State" takes a look at a real world alien invasion

Captive State Review
The alien invasion movie is something that is never going to go away. Maybe the sub-genre will fade slightly, maybe it will take a hiatus then eventually get revived. But it will never just go away. Let's be real, Westerns never really went away, they kind of come and go as they please. I also don't think the superhero genre will really go anywhere. Will they be as popular and box office hot as they are right now fifty years from now? Probably not, but I don't think they will actually go anywhere. There is something about genres that resonate deeply with an audience, and the fear of the unknown and the wonder of whether or not we are alone in the universe keeps us guessing what it looks like on the other side of said universe.

Between "Captive State" and "Annihilation" and "Arrival" we are starting to see some very different types of alien invasion movies. While I think the two later are much better compared to the former, I think "Captive State" is fairly well made little invasion film. It tries to be a little bit smarter and a little bit more ambitious then simply aliens come and us humans pick a fight. Instead, it tells a story about how an alien race was able to successfully take over the entire planet without, seemingly, any shots fired. That seems like complicated to the least. How can some aliens just show up on our doorstep and just take us over. It would be so easy to have these massive battles on Earth against an alien threat. But I give "Captive State" some credit for trying something out of the box.

The alien invaders come to be known as The Legislators" and like I said above, they invade Earth with seemingly little to know fighting. They soon take over every aspect of our lives, controlling everything with genuine ease. Apparently, they can't take our sunlight or our air very well? So they force humans to build underground cities for them to live and only certain government officials are allowed in. Nobody else is though. Of course some humans will get mad about this, and a resistance was formed to combat these aliens.

Do I think the story is very original? Not really, but most of these movies work the same. I think where "Captive State" succeeds is in its execution. This takes a sort of real world approach to an invasion. As real world as these things can possibly get, at least. The movie has a real world feel. It feels realistic, it feels gritty. Its brought together by an excellent ensemble. John Goodman, Vera Farminga, Kevin Dunn, Alan Ruck, and D.B. Sweeney round out the supporting cast. These are guys who usually rarely populate movies in the background. But they've mastered that artistry, and they all do great work here. Ashton Sanders, who did incredible work in "Moonlight" a few years ago, shines bright as our eyes into this new, very dangerous world. He has links the human resistance, and he has to play both sides just keep things flowing. Its another profound performance by Sanders, and I think he's got a great career ahead of him.

Plus, I don't think many rappers who try to be actors fair very well. Sure, Ice Cube is really good and has had a nice career. While Eminem was good in "8 Mile," he was basically playing himself. I have to say after both "The Dirt" and now "Captive State," that Machine Gun Kelly can disappear into a role with some ease and he's going to be someone to watch out for in the future.

The treatment of the aliens is pretty clever. We only get glimpses of them in shadows and fog. They seem to have spikes, but other than that, they aren't that interesting looking. Which may explain why they spent much time in the shadows. But this isn't really about how the aliens look. This is about a new world created after being colonized, and how that would sting to some and feel almost like salvation to others. It's a character study of how we find strength inside ourselves in the most overwhelming situations. "Captive State" may not hit a home run out of the ballpark, but it will be a good holdover until summer gets here.

FINAL GRADE:B

First trailer for Todd Phillips' "Joker" is interesting

I was getting breakfast with an old friend over the weekend, and we were talking about the future of the DC movies. When I told him that DC Films might take a break from the DCEU for awhile, and make DC movies independent of the shared universe. He got a good laugh from that, and I get it. I can only think this will cause mass confusion for the casual fans. It is causing confusion for me, especially since after "Aquaman" and the good things I am hearing about "Shazam!" it seems the DCEU is finally starting to course-correct.

We've been seeing lots of The Joker recently. From Cameron Monaghan's portrayal on Fox's "Gotham," to Jared Leto's performance in "Suicide Squad" and even watching him show up as a minifig in "The LEGO Batman Movie." The character is becoming this close to being overexposed and just plain incorrigible to see on a regular basis. One of my favorite things about The Joker is that we never know where he came from. Sure, there is "The Killing Joke" comic story which served up an origin story, but you find out right at the end that he might have made that whole story up. In fact, also in the current DC comics, Batman recently asked a super-computer who The Joker truly was. Not only did Batman not get an answer from the super-computer, but he found out that there are actually three Jokers running amuck in Gotham City.

So it still seems odd to me that DC suddenly wants to explain the character away. Although it would be an incredible reversal to watch the whole movie in October then find out at the very end that Joaquin Phoenix's character made this whole movie up. That's truly the twist ending I am pulling for currently.

I will say that the first trailer for the movie is interesting. It doesn't completely grab my attention, but I can't in good faith say it looks totally bad. It is said that this movie will be a character study on how a person goes insane, and that could be interesting. I have to say that I am not totally digging Phoenix's look. The Joker has a very distinct look, whether you like it or not. I get the need to remove yourself from what's come before, but the movie will walk a fine line between a Joker movie and a movie about a crazy guy who wears make-up.




They are definitely playing with some Batman mythology and iconography here, so that's a relief. One thing is also for sure, Joaquin Phoenix is going to throw himself at this role, and it should be worth the price of admission just to see what he does with it. The cinematography and mood of the trailer was better than expected. Like I said, it looks interesting. At this point, interesting is enough.

Monday, April 1, 2019

March Madness Heroes vs Villains All-Stars. The FINAL FOUR

The vote is getting crazy. We are getting closer to the end. Things are heating up. We finally have our final four. No longer will characters be battling between movies and TV. Now, we are going to decide our final hero and our final villain. Then those two left standing will face each other once and for all.

For movies, it was an incredibly close vote between Batman and Indiana Jones. But for the character that has won four previous titles in this vote, its no surprise that Batman ended up on top. The big surprise was Lord Voldemort was able to whiz by Darth Vader, in a vote that was much closer than I would have predicted.

On the TV side of things, it was also a total upset. I would not have guessed that Tony Soprano would have beat Walter White, but he did. Somehow he did. Then in the hero bracket, Buffy The Vampire Slayer was somehow able to beat Daryl Dixon. Didn't see either of those coming, but hey, nobody predicts a perfect bracket. Do they? Has that actually ever happened? I don't know.

It's hero vs hero and villain vs villain now. By April 5th, we will have our two representatives in the darkness and the light. You can vote on the polls I set on my social media. You can email me at bloggershawn@gmail.com or fire off in the comment section below. Find me on Facebook here. Find me on Twitter here.

HERO FINAL FOUR

Batman vs. Buffy

VILLAIN FINAL FOUR

Lord Voldemort vs. Tony Soprano

Review: "The Highwaymen" was hardly worth the effort

The Highwaymen Review
There is no pill more bitter than disappointment, not at all.

I have been fascinated by the history of crime for as long as I can remember. There is something to the story of a mobster that draws in an audience, even though we know its immoral to act that way. I find it remarkable that several bank robbers during the 1930's were able to get the world on their side, to get the public to buy into their good-hearted personas. Even though those personas were pure shit. The criminals of the time were killing people, but that wasn't really something people knew. They just thought they were robbing the rich to give back to the poor. It was a wild time back then, and the movies, shows and books set in that time have always interested me.

The story of "The Highwaymen" should have been a slam dunk. We got Kevin Costner plating Frank Hamer, an old lawman from Texas who was once a Texas Ranger. He's been retired for awhile now, but is persuaded to re-enter the field when he is told about Bonnie and Clyde and the mockery they are making in his state. Hamer is given an off-the-books assignment to stop the terrible duo. The problem is, he's old. He can't shoot the way he used to. He can run the way he used to. The job has changed so much, he barely recognizes it. Even when he sort-of recruits his old partner Many Gault (Woody Harrelson), he's old too. Can they keep up with the ruthlessness and general fast-forward of the modern world? The movie co-stars Kathy Bates, John Carol Lynch, Kim Dickens and William Sadler.

What could possibly go wrong?

Flatly, everything.

As far as crime movies go, this movie moves at a snails pace. It's a bore and a half to get through. I'll be honest, I was fighting to stay awake by the end of the movie. Not because I was sleepy, but because I was quickly losing hope in what I thought would be a knockout. There is little to no action in the movie. I don't need constant action to be entertained, especially with a crime movie. But you have to write a script with engaging drama if you are going to have little action. The script fails miserably to keep an audience watching.

Pacing aside, the movie also feels like a bunch of random scenes, disjointed and discombobulated. Even though we follow the same characters and the same story, scenes feel like they are from different movies. We get a scene of Hamer practicing shooting, and failing miserably. Why even include that scene if you are going to give us the most anti-climatic ending in the history of modern movies? Why make Hamer's wife a character at all? She becomes irrelevant the moment she's off screen. So why even bother? Why bother bringing up Gault's family life if you are barely going to touch on it? Sure, it would have been cliche to get into such backstories, but it would be better than watching two men drive around for almost two and a half hours. 

Yes its true. That's the big reveal. We watch Bonnie and Clyde and their gang going around killing cops. Then we watch Hamer and Gault drive around trying to find them. Sure they stop every once in awhile for some exposition scenes, but they are quickly back on the road. All the while the audience is feeling the life escape out of their bodies. It's a painfully slow film. With no action, little excitement or engagement. Kevin Costner is fine, but he seems like he is going through the motions here. He's playing the same sort of quiet, worn-out character he's been playing the last few years. Even though this takes place in the 1930's, it all feels the same. I would say that Woody Harrelson wrangles some life out of his character. He is given some of the best scenes and dialogue. I found myself laughing at all the scenes involving him. Not because they were bad, but because he brought his A-game. He made certain moments funny and charming. The rest of this great cast comes and goes like a fart in the wind, barely being worth the money spent to hire them.

Despite a few good and one truly profound performance, there isn't much to say about "The Highwaymen." I was hoping for something akin to "Public Enemies," but this is anything but.

FINAL GRADE: C-