Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Review: "The Occupant" is an odd mixture of familiar cliches

The Occupant Review
Take Oscar winner "Parasite" mix with "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle." What do you get? "The Occupant" and sorry to say, it's not nearly as cool as it sounds.

Javier Gutierrez plays Javier Munoz, a marketer who has it all. On one bad day, he loses everything. He loses his position, his son needs to suddenly move from private school to public school. They move out of their luxurious house and the lavish lifestyle that his family became accustomed to vanished without a trace. We are then treated to montage after montage of Javier's failed job interviews and really its one shit-storm after another. Instead of persisting with his job hunt, Javier decides to get back to the top at a different angle.

He stalks a guy going to an AA meeting, a poor soul named Tomas (Mario Casas) and he strikes a friendship with the guy. Javier slowly begins to become Tomas' good friend and family friend to Tomas' wife and daughter. The friendlier Javier gets with Tomas, the more deranged he becomes which leads to a weirder and weirder movie.

If given a great screenplay, fair and balanced development of characters and a nice allowance of twists and turns, the idea of somebody just inviting themselves into someone else's family can be a good idea for a movie. We've seen good examples of this before. You have to be careful though, because they walk that fine line between serious and stupid. "The Occupant" rears too far into stupid territory. It gets way too wacky and way too unrealistic near the end. It also just begins dragging at a snails pace. I think all the actors commit to their characters, this just certainly isn't a thriller that is worth a darn. In fact, had the actors hammed it up a little bit, it probably would have been stronger. But that's not the movie that was made.

I have been a pretty big advocate for international cinema. I love seeing movies from around the world. I applaud Netflix for making international films available on their service. But if you are not into reading subtitles, then this movie will look even less appealing.


Monday, March 30, 2020

Review: "Bloodshot" is decent, but Valiant Cinematic Universe unlikely

Bloodshot Review
How many of you are familiar with Valiant Comics? They were an independent comic book company that started in the 1990's and actually saw some decent success, and they were the first new brand that has been able to stay afloat while creating a cohesive universe. Companies like Darkhorse and Image all have independent, creator-owned stories, and most of the smaller comic book companies were bought up by DC and Marvel. Valiant has remained its own entity all of this time, which in this day in and age is pretty fantastic.

Now that Marvel has created a cinematic universe and DC has attempted one, it seems Valiant was ready to give it a try. They wanted to hit the ground running with their character called Bloodshot. Bloodshot is a former soldier who was thought to be dead, but then was injected with technological nanites that saved his life. The nanites now give him super-strength, stamina, healing abilities...you get the jist. Now Bloodshot, the former soldier tries to find out who did this to him and why. It's a simple set up for a comic book character and something that could be ripe for a springboard into another comic book universe on the screen.

Except, I am not sure a Valiant Cinematic Universe is going to fly. "Bloodshot" is a decent movie, but its not that cool. It has some eye-popping moments. That's about it. I am not surprised in the least that Vin Diesel is a producer on this movie. This feels like one of those bad movies he starred in throughout the 2000's when he wasn't busy making a "Fast and Furious" movie. It's a science fiction that is very cheap looking. This doesn't look like a superhero movie set, it looks like a CW superhero TV show set. 

The movie is much like the comic book I described. Vin Diesel plays a former soldier who is killed, right after watching his wife killed. He wakes up in a scientific lab called Rising Spirit Tech, they put the nanites in his body that saved his life. They gave him superpowers. The soldier wants revenge on those who killed his wife. And he gets it pretty easily. But...we soon find the big twist, Rising Spirit Tech is using Bloodshot for their ends, and Bloodshot didn't actually get revenge on anybody.

The movie filled with several cliches. Bloodshot goes back to find his wife is still alive, and she has moved on and she has a family. Bloodshot is introduced to a team of other soldiers-turned-amateur-superheroes and of course one of them has a grudge against Bloodshot for no reason. A member of this team will suddenly grow a heart and conscience right when it is most convenient. There is several moments when you think Bloodshot is about to die...and no! It feels like about a dozen different movies you saw in the passed twenty or so years. 

Vin Diesel is Vin Diesel. He's fine, but much like Schwarzenegger, he kind of gets by mostly based on his presence. Tobey Kebbell is a great actor, but he's not in this nearly enough. Guy Pierce is usually so good at playing the type of character he plays here, but I know he can do better. He's done better. Eiza Gonzalez is a pretty face, but she does things that any actress could do. She has a commanding presence, but she doesn't really bring much to the table. I am glad that she didn't end up being Catwoman for "The Batman."

The special effects are pretty average, it would have looked state-of-the-art for 1995. Like I said above, its a weirdly cheap looking experience. For how well superhero movies were pumped out in the 2010's, with still heart and soul intact, its seems a little weird to give this a pass. We've seen so many different types of comic book movies at this point, and we've seen several great superhero movies at this point. There is no reason why this shouldn't have been better. Much like the Dark Universe lasting one movie, its probably a good thing Sony didn't go ahead and get several big names to play other Valiant icons. This is probably the first and only time we'll see the Valiant Cinematic Universe onscreen.


Sunday, March 29, 2020

March Madness Heroes vs. Villains Round Four Ballot

You have until April 1st to vote.

March Madness Heroes vs. Villains Round Three Results

We have slid right down into the elite eight, and I can't believe how fast its going. It's been a fun month doing this and I hope you guys are enjoying it too. Here's the results from Round Three.

Batman whipped ElastiGirl out of the competition and will face Miles Morales in round four, The Movie Hero bracket is going to have a nice, old fashioned DC versus Marvel competition as Morales got Rick Dalton out. While through Google Forms, The Tick and Brienne of Tarth were close, people voting in my other social media channels really showed up for Tick support. Probably one of the biggest upsets of the year. I love it though. The Tick will move on against The Mandalorian in round four. As far as villains are concerned, Arthur Fleck and Voldemort got both Hans' out of the competition. Harley Quinn was able to just squeeze passed Tony Soprano and will face Saul Goodman and got Euron out of the competition.

Batman (1) vs. Miles Morales (6)

The Tick (16) vs. The Mandalorian (2)

Voldemort (1) vs. Arthur Fleck (2)

Harley Quinn (4) vs. Saul Goodman (2)

Round Four Voting goes till April 1st!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Hows your quarantine time going?

How's everyone's quarantine time going?

I had a good laugh with my parents an my brother on Wednesday night about how the 90's movie "Outbreak" was put on Netflix, just as before all the Coronavirus panic really started to settle in. We like to argue that the media is doing a good job getting people worked up over this, but other variations of the media aren't doing us any favors either. I also saw on my YouTube app at both "Contagion" from 2011 and "The Shining" from 1980 were highly rented in the recent days. Now, "The Shining" may be connected to "Doctor Sleep" rolling its way out to rent recently, but I also wonder if people are watching it because its about isolation? I don't think "Contagion," which is pretty much a spiritual sequel to "Outbreak," is a coincidence though.

I don't want to bag on somebody watching what they want to watch. But man, I don't know if I'd be up for a movie about viruses and horror movies about isolation at a time like this. Don't get me wrong, "The Shining" is a classic and "Contagion" is pretty amazing in its own right. But not at time like this, not for me.

What have I been doing to keep me busy during this time?

The only 2020 movie I watched this week was "Emma." And I gotta admit, I could have done better with my selection. It's a typical period piece. It is a dry, dry, DRY experience. It doesn't have any twists or turns nor a fun screenplay like "The Favourite" did, and usually period pieces like this are my least favorite movies to sit through. I think Anya Taylor-Joy is a capable, riveting actress and she brings something to each role she takes on. So it's not an entirely bad experience. It's just tough to recommend. It's like a wallpaper. It's nice to look at, and at times beautiful. You may find yourself sucked into the detail and the costumes. But there isn't much passed the surface.

I had a birthday recently, my 31st (dear god) and I got a sizable gift card to Amazon. So I did a big shop spree to add to my ever growing film collection. I got some classics in the bundle, such as "Ace In The Hole," "The Asphalt Jungle," "Rashomon," "All About Eve" and the 70's cult classic, "Phantom of the Paradise." I also got some recent favorites "Parasite," "Knives Out," "Uncut Gems" and "The Lighthouse." If you've been an avid reader of this site, you know why I picked up that list of 2019 titles. I was pretty strong advocate for all of those films during 2019. The first thing I watched last night was "Ace In The Hole."

If you wonder how our media has seemingly spun itself out of control and will do anything for a good story, look no further than Billy Wilder's classic. Billy Wilder was ahead of his time and its almost freaky how relevant "Ace in the Hole" is in 2020. Kirk Douglas plays a Charles Tatum, a journalist who has been fired in 11 markets for various modes of misconduct. His car breaks down in Albuquerque. He decides to con his way into a job at the local paper. He gets his big break a year later. He goes to a small desert town to cover a rattlesnake competition. Once he gets to the sleepy town, learns that the owner of a trading post is lost in a cave. He talks his way into the cave to talk to the man, then comes up with a scheme. Take possession of the story and milk it for all its worth. It may seem like Kirk Douglas's character is an amoral sonofabitch, and that's not wrong. But as people from all over the country to gather around to the spot and pay 25 cents to see the cave, are they any better?

I've got plenty of other movies to keep me busy as this quarantine wears on. As far as TV goes, I've been watching "Dave" on FX and it is another hit for the seemingly untouchable channel. A funny story about an aspiring rapper. But don't worry "Atlanta" fan, this is a totally different style of story with completely different themes and its funny in a totally different way compared to "Atlanta" and I love "Atlanta." I've also got about four episodes left of "Star Trek: Picard" which has been wonderful.

What have you guys been watching this quarantine?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

March Madness Heroes vs. Villains Round Three Voting

This voting block will end on March 29th. Enjoy!

March Madness Heroes vs Villains Round Two Results

So after two rounds here's were we are at...

Superheroes and supervillains are doing tremendously, as to be expected. We have some big superhero match-ups coming up in the third round, which should be fun to see. The three of the last years final four who are left standing are still going very strong. It will be fun to see if history repeats itself again or what will happen. It has been pretty exciting so far, and I hope you all are enjoying it too.

Here's what Round Three will look like

Batman (1) vs. ElastiGirl (4)
Miles Morales (6) vs. Rick Dalton (10)

The Tick (16) vs. Brienne of Tarth (12)
The Punisher (6) vs. The Mandalorian (2)

Lord Voldemort (1) vs. Hans Landa (4)
Hans Gruber (3) vs. Arthur Fleck (2)

Tony Soprano (1) vs. Harley Quinn (4)
Euron Greyjoy (3) vs. Saul Goodman (2)

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Review: "The Hunt" is America's grandest wake up call

The Hunt Review
Ever since November 2016, our nation has changed dramatically and it seems like we have all to some degree, shown our true colors. We need to heal and we need to unite, but for the first time in forever neither side wants to compromise, nobody is willing to go 90 while the other side goes 10. It does at times feel like we are two nations somehow stapled together and each nation is viciously fighting for air. Everything is political nowadays, even things that have absolutely no business being political. We love getting our fingers out, pointing to those on the other side of the political fence, and saying, this is all your fault. Whether its true and whether its fair doesn't play into it.

We have also seen a handful of movies being made in recent years that is dissecting everything happening in the nation at the time. There are always people trying to say what something is about based on a trailer. But possibly the most important thing I will say regarding movies is that you seeing a trailer is not the same thing as seeing the movie. Take Jordan Peele's "Get Out." The right-wingers were so sure that since "Get Out" was a Hollywood movie that it was going to be an attack on White Conservatism, when in actuality, if you actually WATCH THE MOVIE, "Get Out" is an criticism on White Liberalism, and a fair one at that. Notice how I didn't use the attack in that last part of the sentence. That in itself, is part of the problem. We are all on the defense at all times here in the United States, at least it often feels like it. We can't take criticism anymore, any criticism is an attack, and so we have to rebuttal with a list of criticisms on the other side to make us feel better about ourselves. Jordan Peele has made two great films about America in "Get Out" and "Us," and they are really important texts in order to understanding where we are right now as a nation.

Now, you can go ahead and add "The Hunt" to Peele's two movies, and get ready for a wild three-way feature.

"The Hunt" was originally supposed to be released in September 2019, but due to some mass shootings and President Donald Trump having a Twitter tantrum, the movie was pushed back. Can you guess why Trump had a problem with it? He saw a trailer and he assumed. You know what they say about assuming? It makes an ass out of you and me. Sure, you can watch the trailers and think that "The Hunt" is a Hollyweird attack on the Right. But that would be incorrect. It's not incorrect due to my political beliefs. It's not incorrect because I am trying to get you to see the movie. It's incorrect because its incorrect. If "The Hunt" is comparable to any movie in recent memory, it's comparable to "Team America: World Police." You know how Trey Parker and Matt Stone so astoundingly roasted the Right and the Left in that movie? That's what "The Hunt" does. We are living in a time right now where we love to push the buttons of our political opponents, even though we may not conscientiously realize that we have buttons of our own that are easy for the other side to push.

Is there really any value or really any entertainment in seeing a movie that roasts both sides? Is it better to pick a side than simply say you're a fool for caring? I would say maybe you're asking the wrong questions. You're not a fool for caring and yes there is plenty of value in seeing comments on the huge political circus that we are all seemingly incapable of escaping here in America. It can also be very entertaining. You could look at the ONLY the surface of "The Hunt" and see a movie about a bunch of Liberal elitists who get together to kill a group of "deplorables" that they've captured. But again, I say this with every ounce of importance, that's not the movie. "The Hunt" gleefully parodies the thoughts and ideas of the Right as it does the Left, but its also a very intimate look at how easily we are swindled and hustled.

For my money, the scariest thing that has happened to this country since Trump took office is that fringe opinions are slowly making their way into mainstream thinking. We have created a world where anybody can be "right" simply because they use conviction and it doesn't matter if they stretch truths or just downright lie. The word "fact" has been overhyped and overused to the point where it is meaningless. News seems to amount to attacks on the other political side, and if the other side argues it's "fake news." In fact, "fake news" is just anything we disagree with, because by God if that news shit-talks my side, its obviously wrong. We can't listen to our teachers anymore, because teachers are losers and they have nothing on my Google Ph.D. And we have to stop sending our children to college, because that's inviting them to be indoctrinated into the Socialist Communist elite of America, nevermind that Socialism and Communism are two different ideologies. It's so easy for news to take something so small and turn into something else by manipulation, and yes, EVERY SIDE OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM DOES THIS.

At the center of it all, "The Hunt" is just about a little story that gets blown out of proportion. Weird right? Yet it speaks volumes about what is going on in our country right now. What's been going on in this country since 2016. It's a movie where nobody is safe, and that's the point. "The Hunt" is like starring into a mirror and seeing what we've truly become and if we don't course-correct, who knows what's in store for our future. "The Hunt" is a giant metaphor, basically a running, sweating, kung-fu fighting, bloody-as-fuck metaphor. I don't think its nearly as deep as "Get Out" or "Us" and it certainly doesn't hit the same targets with the same precision. It is a blunt instrument trying to wake you up and on that level it works.

There are so many actors that roll through this movie, and they definitely make their presence known. I love the moments with great actors I have come to love over the years. People like Hillary Swank, Emma Roberts, Ike Barinholtz, Justin Hartley, Glenn Howerton, Amy Madigan, Ethan Suplee, and Macon Blair. Each actor is so amazingly good in their moments, that they really sell the thing. The movie hinges on Betty Gillpin. She plays a girl named Crystal, who was kidnapped and forced to defend herself against these elitist maniacs. But she's fighting and she's winning and once she figures out the game that is being played, she has secrets of her own that are revealed. "The Hunt" is her calling card, I haven't watched "Glow" on Netflix, so this is my introduction to Gillpin and she's amazing. She could be the next female action hero if that's the route she really wants to take, because she has a commanding action presence here. She's funny but she is also dangerous in this movie, and I assure you that you'll be rooting for her from beginning to end. 

Roger Ebert once said that movies are empathy machines, and that's one reason why I love them so much. I see independent cinema, which gives me a view into the mind of someone's ideals. I see international cinema and I feel I have a better understanding of the world around me. Even when you see a deep blockbuster, you can see how someone is reacting to something important to them. We don't have to agree, we just have to understand. Going and listening is part of that understanding, and it also leads to complexity. Politics is complex, we'd understand that better if we actually talked to people on the other side of things. I bet you think you know me politically off of this review, but I assure you, you don't. I have many friends from many political views, and when I think I have them figured out I am also dazzled by discovery. I know liberals who go to church every Sunday. I know liberals who own and like guns. I also know Republicans who support gay rights. Hell, I straight up know gay Republicans. "The Hunt" is a movie that is urging us to stop putting each other in boxes. But also taking our hands and asking us to really look at how the game is being played around us, because the real truth will set us free.

So please, learn what social satire is before seeing this movie. Learn the difference between an attack and a criticism before seeing this movie. Don't listen to any political pundits regarding this movie. See it for yourself, and be the judge. It's the most important movie you can see right now and it has the power to change our world for the better.


March Madness Heroes vs. Villains Round Two Ballot

March Madness: Heroes vs. Villains Round One Results

We started with 64 heroes and villains, and just like that we are down to 32. The first round of the sixth annual Heroes vs. Villains March Madness is over and just like a typical March Madness game, there were some big upsets and surprises. I have taken screenshots of all the results and you can see for yourself how things shook out.

As you can see only three of our four survived, as surprisingly The Tick took out Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In some other surprising match-ups, Mysterio just made it passed Emperor Palpatine, and the only two characters to receive all of their votes were Lord Voldemort and The Homelander. Telling from the pictures above, you can begin to see where things are going.

Movie Heroes
Batman (1) vs. Shazam! (8)
Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (12) vs. ElastiGirl (4)
Miles Morales (6) vs. John Wick (3)
Rick Dalton (10) vs. Lt. Mike Lowrey (2)

TV Heroes
The Tick (16) vs. Carl Winslow (9)
Brienne of Tarth (12) vs. Alfonso "Mack" Mackenzie (4)
The Punisher (6) vs. Uncle Phil (14)
Detective Rosa Sanchez (7) vs. The Mandalorian (2)

Movie Villains
Lord Voldemort (1) vs. Mysterio (8)
Anton Chigurh (5) vs. Hans Landa (4)
Howard Ratner (11) vs. Hans Gruber (3)
Frank Costello (10) vs. Arthur Fleck (2)

TV Villains
Tony Soprano (1) vs. Moff Gideon (8)
The Homelander (5) vs. Harley Quinn (4)
Barry Dylan (6) vs. Euron Greyjoy (3)
Dennis Reynolds (7) vs. Saul Goodman (2)

I am creating the ballot in Google Forms right now, this round will go until March 24th. Happy voting!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Horror Fans Guild to Streaming Services for the Quarantine

As I pay close attention to my social media feeds, it seems like the thing that people are most referring to when discussing Coroniavirus is horror films. It makes perfect sense, every zombie movie pretty much stems from a viral infection. As did "I Am Legend." There are movies like "The Bay" which is about a local government allowing some terrible to get out of hand, leaving the entire town in shambles. Plus, let's be honest for a second, the idea of the world ending is scary. "Contagion," about a global viral infection, plays more freaking than anything else, as does the movie "Outbreak," which you can watch on Netflix. The streaming service is no doubt trying to cash in on the hysteria.

It's certainly a freaky time right now. No matter how low fatalities are for the virus, no matter how well people are doing in other countries. It's a freaky time. When I read that a father was weeping in a store, holding their four month old because there was no formula left, that's sad and freaky. When my state's governor decides to bring the National Guard into the state, that's freaky. When you walk into a store and can't find the basic necessities or when the President recommends going out with no more than ten people, that's just freaky. Even without the media over hyping everything to death.

Some find catharsis in the darkness however. Including me. Right now, I am watching "House on Haunted Hill." The original from 1959. It's goofy and its gimmicky and it's strange. But its still one of my favorite horror films of all time. The "skateboard ghost" scene as I call it, is preposterously silly but still ultra freaky all at once. I study that scene and even though I laugh at it afterward, I still jump when watching it. I love Vincent Price in the movie, and I love as his "guests" are arriving at the house, he's announcing them off like they are contestants on a reality competition. It's currently available on Amazon Prime.

Streaming outlets are doing what they can to accommodate for the closing and shutdowns going on across the nation. So I wanted to take the time to record some of the best horror movies that are available to you right now, depending on which streaming services you own. You can enjoy these movies right now for free.

Amazon Prime

  • "House on Haunted Hill" 1959- What I am currently watching right now.
  • "Night of the Living Dead" 1968- A zombie classic that seems a little too fitting right now.
  • "Hereditary" 2018- Easily the scariest movie of the 21st Century so far.
  • "Suspiria" 2018- What a great remake should be.
  • "Midsommar" 2019- A pretty divisive movie across the board, but one I still find essential.
  • "Nosferatu" 1925- Yes, its a silent movie. But the make-up and the acting create something truly terrifying. I also think the zero dialogue makes it extra creepy.
  • "Willow Creek" 2014- It's a fairly standard found footage movie, but has one of the most dreadful long take sequences I've seen in awhile.
  • "House of the Devil" 2009 and "The Innskeepers" 2011- Two good movies by Ti West and they are both completely different from each other.
  • "Vampire Circus" 1972- Why would you not be curious about a movie with such a title?
  • "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" 1974- Good Old cannibalized BBQ for the whole family!
  • "Bone Tomahawk" 2015- A horror-western? Sign me up! 

  • "The Wicker Man" 1973- still pretty bone chilling and features a great performance by Christopher "Saruman" Lee.
  • "The Ring" 2002- Another great example of what a great remake should look like.
  • "Creep and Creep II" - Mark Duplass is freaking fantastic in both of these crazy films
  • "Tusk" 2015- I am not sure this is wholly a horror film, also kind of a cringe comedy. You be the judge. 
  • "The Witch" 2016- I am still very much in love with this highly disturbing little movie.
  • "The Evil Dead" 1981- Still a wonderful combination of funny and scary.
  • "The Autopsy of Jane Doe"- A wild ride from start to finish, and that's all you get from me!
  • "Green Room" 2016- A siege unlike any other, plus Patrick Stewart as a bad guy? I'm in.
  • "Child's Play"- Chucky is still a little sonofabitch!
  • "Train to Busan"- South Korean zombie recipe for the whole family!
  • "The Ritual"- Backwoods European cults and a disturbing looking monster? But of course!
  • "Insidious"- Still has one of the best recent jump scares.
  • "The Last Exorcism" 2010- If you haven't seen it yet, I promise it isn't the movie you think it is and was quite underrated upon release.
  • "Hush"- Deaf girl home alone whilst someone breaks in? Yep, sign me up!
  • "Paranormal Activity" 2009- Along with "Blair Witch Project," this jump started the found footage device, for better or worse.
  • "28 Days Later" 2002- Danny Boyle's authentic-looking running zombies movie is still pretty terrifying.
  • "The Cabin In The Woods 2012- A critique and a defense to the entire horror genre. You've basically seen every horror movie by seeing this movie. That's what I love most about it.
  • "A Quiet Place" 2018- So little dialogue so gosh-darn freaky!
  • "Overlord" 2018- Nazi experiments create super soldiers? Yikes!
  • "Paranormal Activity 2"- Still quite the sequel. I love that it expanded the story's mythology instead of treading water.
  • "Children of the Corn" 1984- Delightfully weird.
Some of these movies are available across multiple streaming services so be sure to do some looking of your own! Stay safe and healthy out there, y'all!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

March Madness: Heroes vs. Villains Voting Bracket. Meet The Characters

Coronavirus is starting get things shut down everywhere. In my home state of Illinois, our governor just shutdown dining-in for all the restaurants in the state. Which means you can't go in and sit in for a meal, you gotta call UberEats, get delivery or pick-up. Those are your only options. Clubs and bars are officially shut down in our state too. We are doing all we can to combat the spread of this virus, and lots of people are digging in to quarantine themselves. I was at the grocery store, standing in line for check out for 40 minutes of Friday. Yuck.

If you get bored waiting for all of this to blow over, come on over here and partake in my sixth annual March Madness Heroes Vs. Villains voting bracket. For more information, click here. The voting for this years' voting bracket begins tomorrow. If you click the link above, and are unfamiliar with any of the characters participating this year. No worries. I created a video that goes over all the characters. Check that out below.

I hope to see you back here this week as Heroes vs Villains begins again tomorrow! I'm currently getting everything set up for the vote tomorrow. Coronavirus is shutting lots of stuff down, but it isn't shutting me down!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

March Madness: Heroes vs Villains Triumphantly returns

Lots of annual March events are getting postponed are cancelled right now due to the growing concerns of the Coronavirus. I would like to inform you all that there is one thing in particular that will not be going anywhere. That's my annual Heroes vs Villains vote, which is turning six this year! Every year in March, in honor of March Madness, I pit a group of TV and movies biggest heroes and villains against each other. You guys get to vote for your favorites, and by the beginning of April, we have the biggest hero vs the biggest villain in one big vote. You, the audience, get to decide who moves forward and doesn't. Last year, we had an incredible showing of voting last year, I hope to repeat that this year.

Batman, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Lord Voldemort and Tony Soprano were the Final Four last year for their given brackets. Last year's vote was an all-star collection of characters who went far in previous voting blocks. Those four characters return to defined their positions against a bunch of never before seen characters. Will classic characters like Maverick from "Top Gun" or Hans Gruber from "Die Hard" fair well? Or will favorites from the last year like Sister Knight from HBO's "Watchmen" or Arthur Fleck from "Joker" do well? It is entirely up to you!

Voting will begin on March 16th for First Round. Second Round voting will begin on March 21st. Third Round voting will begin March 24th. Fourth Round voting will begin March 29th. The Final Four vote will begin April 1st. The Final battle between the biggest hero and the biggest villain will commence on April 5th. You can vote by emailing me at bloggershawn@gmail.com. You can also vote in the comment section below. If you'd like to vote via Facebook message, that's fine too, please just let me know in advance. I will also post voting polls on my social media pages, so look for those. I am also going to try to get Google Docs going to post polls, making it easier than ever to vote for this block. More on that in the coming days.

Here's who will be competing this year, I plan to make a video discussing each character soon. 

1. Batman (Reining Champion)
2. Detective Mike Lowrey (Bad Boys Franchise)
3. John Wick (John Wick Franchise)
4. ElastiGirl (The Incredibles Franchise)
5. Adonis Creed (Creed Franchise)
6. Miles Morales (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse)
7. Poe Dameron (Star Wars Franchise)
8. Shazam (Shazam)
9. Captain Marvel (MCU)
10. Rick Dalton (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood)
11. Alita (Alita: Battle Angel)
12. Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Top Gun Franchise)
13. Beatrice Kiddo/ The Bride (Kill Bill)
14. Newt Scamander (Fantastic Beasts Franchise)
15. Xander Cage (XxX Franchise)
16. Uncle Buck (Uncle Buck)

1. Buffy (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
2. The Mandalorian (Disney+'s The Mandalorian)
3. Bugs Bunny (Looney Tunes)
4. Alfonso "Mack" Mckensie (ABC's Agents of SHIELD)
5. Sister Knight (HBO's Watchmen)
6. The Punisher (Netflix's The Punisher)
7. Detective Rosa Sanchez (NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
8. Leroy Jethro Gibbs (CBS's NCIS)
9. Carl Winslow (ABC/CBS's Family Matters)
10. Captain Planet (TBS's Captain Planet and the Planeteers)
11. John Diggle (The CW's Arrow/Flarrowverse)
12. Brienne of Tarth (HBO's Game of Thrones)
13. Morgan Jones (AMC's The Walking Dead)
14. Uncle Phil (NBC's Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
15. Batwoman (The CW's Batwoman)
16. The Tick (Various incarnations)

1. Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter Franchise)
2. Arthur Fleck (Joker)
3. Hans Gruber (Die Hard)
4. Hans Landa (Inglorious Basterds)
5. Anton Chigurgh (No Country For Old Men)
6. Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmations)
7. Alonzo Harris (Training Day)
8. Mysterio (MCU)
9. Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars Franchise)
10. Frank Costello (The Departed)
11. Howard Ratner (Uncut Gems)
12. Doctor Sivana (DCEU/Shazam)
13. O-Ren Ishii (Kill Bill)
14. Calvin Candie (Django Unchained)
15. Xena Onatopp (James Bond Franchise)
16. Gabby Gabby (Toy Story Franchise)

1. Tony Soprano (HBO's The Sopranos)
2. Saul Goodman (AMC's Better Call Saul)
3. Euron Greyjoy (HBO's Game of Thrones)
4. Harley Quinn (DCU's Harley Quinn)
5. The Homelander (Amazon's The Boys)
6. Barry Dylan (FX's Archer)
7. Dennis Reynolds (FX's Always Sunny In Philadelphia)
8. Moff Gideon (Disney+'s The Mandalorian)
9. The Anti-Monitor (The CW's The Flarrowverse)
10. Benjamin Pointdexter (Netflix's Daredevil)
11. Vic Mackey (FX's The Shield)
12. Alpha (AMC's The Walking Dead)
13. Alice (The CW's Batwoman)
14. Egghead (ABC's Batman)
15. The Ice King (Cartoon Network's Adventure Time)
16. The Soup Nazi (NBC's Seinfeld)

The characters in each bracket have been listed by order of seed.
Get ready guys! More information to come!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Review: "Spenser Confidential" is Peter Berg's best Michael Bay movie

Spenser Confidential Review
Of all the filmmakers in the pantheon of Hollywood to replicate, I am not exactly sure why Peter Berg landed on Michael Bay, but many of Berg's films are eerily similar to Bay's. Except Berg leaves out weird sexual humor where it doesn't belong. It is equally funny to me that Mark Wahlberg has adopted a goofball action hero persona, especially when said persona is ejected into a gritty crime movie. But hey, its working for the guy isn't it?

"Spenser Confidential" feels like about a million Mark Wahlberg movies of recent memory. So much so, that I am quickly going to start having trouble distinguishing between all of them. It's the same problem Survivor has since they've shot about ten or so seasons on the same island, they all blend together. This film begins with a flashback, typical for gritty police stories. We see Wahlberg's Spenser march into someone's house, pull them out, and beats the crap out of them. There is a voice-over we hear during all of this. Spenser is a police officer who attacked his Captain, and he has no remorse. He goes to jail for assault and home invasion. Five years later, he's off but on parole. Spenser spent five years protecting himself from inmates and avoiding a crazy girlfriend. Now, he's on parole.

Conveniently, the exact same police captain Spenser put a hurtin' on five years prior has ended up dead. So of course, Spenser gets asked about his alibi the night prior, he's clean. When another police officer under the dead captain's unit ends up dead in an apparent suicide, this catches Spenser's attention. The slain officers family is distraught and Spenser feels for them. So Spencer goes total vigilante justice to find out who killed the captain and the officer and why. This leads him on a fairly typical journey through the world of drugs, casinos and police corruption. "Spenser Confidential" doesn't break any new ground.

That's not to say that the movie isn't entertaining. There is some expert quirkiness to it that I found hit my sweet spot. Winston Duke shows up as Hawk, who is Spenser's roommate at the parole house. He accompanies Spenser on his quest and Duke is remarkably funny at times. He's got a commanding onscreen presence and he is sure to continue climbing his way to stardom. Alan Arkin is Spenser's longtime friend and sponsor and he's...Alan Arkin. What more can I say? Iliza Shlesinger plays Spenser's girlfriend, and she does fine. She's the typical mad Boston girlfriend we usually see in movies like this but she does her job well. Bringing life to an otherwise thankless role. But Bokeem Woodbine as the film's villain? Yes, please!

"Spenser Confidential" is an easy watch. It's fun and it goes down smooth and the performances are enough to make it count. (Look for a cameo by Post Malone). It doesn't reinvigorate the police comedy or the police drama. It's fairly routine as far as the genre goes. This isn't the next "Die Hard" or "Lethal Weapon." It feels typical of what Netflix is looking to do these days. The film is equipped with a set-up for another movie down the line. I will say that I would much rather watch a series of "Spenser Confidential" movies rather than "Bright" movies. But we shall see what happens. This might be enough to get by for a fun Friday night when you don't want to go to the theater. 


Monday, March 9, 2020

Review: "Brahms: The Boy II" is standard sequel fair.

Brahms: The Boy II Review
If you're at all curious, here's my original review of "The Boy." You will see that I thought it was much better than I ever would have thought it would be. But still wasn't that great of a horror movie. It was very scary. It didn't have many memorable moments or scenes in it. In fact, before seeing the sequel yesterday, I was having a hard time remembering the first one. So much so that I read through the film's Wikipedia page and re-read my review of the original film before going to see the new film. For the premise, it the original film was fairly decent. I guess I was curious enough to see what a sequel would look like.

The film stars Katie Holmes who plays Eliza. She's an American woman married to a British businessman Sean (Owain Yeoman). How this American woman met this British man is anybody's guess, but I suppose we are just gonna have to be fine with a movie taking place in the UK and how this relationship began is never elaborated on. Sean is away alot  and it sometimes is just Eliza and their son Jude (Christopher Convery). One night, while Sean is working late, Eliza and Jude experience a home invasion that hurts Eliza and traumatizes Jude.

Jude gets to the point where he doesn't speak to anybody. Eliza and Sean are concerned and Jude joins therapy. Eliza is plagued by vivid nightmares. So Sean decides that they need to get out of the city and take time away from the house that the invasion took place. But of course, the place they are staying is very close to the Heelshire mansion from the first film. There is of course a creepy groundskeeper walking around all the time, just for affect. One day, when the family is walking around the woods, Jude finds the doll from the first film. Of course, he calls it Brahms, a name the couple thinks their son came up with by himself, but of course, the doll told him is true name. Of course, weird things begin happening in the vacation house. Eliza sees Jude beginning to talk to the doll so their therapist doesn't see anything wrong with using the doll to help Jude, still there are strange things happening in the house.

These strange things are sadly, not scary at all. This is an example of a horror movie that is sadly a CGI fest than any real thriller of some kind. We've been getting lots of great examples of horror films in the last few years, so to see something on this par is a little sad. Everything plays out exactly how you'd expect, even equipped with an ending that sets up future movies, but the things is, after this movie you probably won't be asking for anymore "Boy" sequels. There is barely any development among the characters. Holmes does what she can, but its a thankless role that literally any actress could do. 

The first "Boy" may not have been a perfect movie, but it at least tried. "The Boy II" just isn't scary, isn't original, isn't imaginative and really is pretty worthless.


RIP Max von Sydow

RIP Max von Sydow
Max von Sydow is one of those actor losses that feels harder than most for me. His career was so extensive that I feel like I almost grew up with him. Even though he starred in plenty of stuff before I was even alive, there was something about seeing him many times over the course of my life, in new movies as I was a budding movie addict, that his loss feels stinkier than most. The performances I appreciate the most might not be the performances that first come to mind, but I guess I am showing my age here. There is no doubt that its these performances that I will come back to the most.

My fondest memory of of Max von Sydow will always be his outrageous performance of Brewmeister Smith in "Strange Brew." For the longest time, Sydow seemed such a serious man, such a stern actor that him playing in a screwball comedy would never be something I'd envision. Sure enough, you should never say never. Sydow's performance has hints of the typical Sydow in villain form, but he's clearly loose in his shoes and its amazing. He's clearly hamming it up and enjoying himself and he's a treat from start to finish.

One of the most underrated films he starred in late in his career, which I think is underrated in both terms of Steven Spielberg movies and 2000's movies as a whole, is "Minority Report." I love "Minority Report" and I ain't afraid to say it. Especially since Roger Ebert gave the film a four-star review and named it one of the best movies of 2002, which I would definitely agree with. Spielberg cast perfectly across the line, and this was one of the first true villain roles I saw Sydow in and he was great.

"Hannah and Her Sisters" is another classic from the 1980's and while Max von Sydow isn't in it as much as I would have liked, he surely makes his presence known and he makes the most out of his screentime. Now I know, its Woody Allen. He's on the list of directors we are all done with right now, but he is one of my favorite filmmakers and his films speak to me on a certain level, so "Hannah and her Sisters" will always be special to me.

"Dune" is kind of a guilty pleasure. Its not a masterpiece by any means and its a really silly adaptation, but for some reason I can't look away when its on. I guess that's just David Lynch for you.

When remembering Max von Sydow today, it seems like the only things people are mentioning are "The Exorcist," "The Force Awakens" and "Game of Thrones." That honestly flabbergasts me simply because there is so much more to his career than those. So I wanted to point out a few that appealed to me the most. Thanks Max von Sydow, you will be missed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

"The Batman" set photos

It's officially happening guys. We are slowly starting to see bits and pieces of what "The Batman" is going to look like. Now, a little over a year ago, the world went wild when Robert Pattinson was cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman. To anybody who knows the history of the character on film, that wasn't very surprising. Every single actor who has ever played Batman in live action since the 1980's has been met with scrutiny for playing the character. Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, Val Kilmer, George Clooney...all of these guys got shit for playing the role. So Pattinson getting heat is nothing new. I am not sure what fans expect, especially since Keaton, Bale and yes even Affleck were more than fine in the role.

I have been intrigued by the Pattinson casting, because I know there is way more to his career than just "Twilight" and I have to be a snob and say you don't know his range if all you can think about is "he's the guy from Twilight!" when his name comes up. Especially in recent years, he's been proving that he is definitely an actor and not a movie star. That's important because you need a guy with lots of depth to pull off the personas of both Bruce Wayne and Batman. I am excited to see what he does. The casting is coming together strong. I like the idea of Paul Dano as Riddler. I like the idea of Colin Farrell as The Penguin. I love the idea of John Turturro playing Carmine Falcone. Zoe Kravitz playing Catwoman makes me cackle simply because she did the voice for Catwoman in the "LEGO Batman Movie." Director Matt Reeves isn't going to let us down, I don't think. Both "Dawn" and "War" in the Planet of the Apes prequels are just about as perfect as blockbuster film-making gets. He puts heart and soul into his films, but he also makes them fun and action-packed.

Today, we finally got some looks at the Batmobile for the upcoming movie as well as some looks at Batman's suit. One thing is apparent here, they are totally moving in a different direction, which is a good thing. I like that after two franchises of having a Bat-Tank, they took the Batmobile in a new direction, making it look very different. Slick but still comic booky.

I am not sure if I am totally sold on the futuristic looking suit, but I will see how it looks in action. We have to remember that according to the story, we are seeing Batman early in his career, so he could have an entirely new suit by the end of the movie, or by the next film. (They are planning a trilogy). So don't worry about it too much. So far though, what do we think of all of this? "The Batman" will be released in 2021.

SOURCE: https://www.aintitcool.com/is-it-a-leaner-meaner-batmobile-82800/