January 28, 2014
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January 28, 2014
PEOPLE: Relatively unknown newcomer directors and writers. Starring Adrien Brody (The pianist in The Pianist, The Village, Splice, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Thin Red Line) as the douchey psuedo-leader of the pack. Alice Braga (Beth in Repo Men, Anna in I Am Legend, Blindness) as the only female soldier in the group. Topher Grace (Eric Foreman from That 70’s Show) as the awkward, comedic-relief, doesn’t-seem-to-belong-here medic character. Oleg Taktarov (a sidekick bad guy in National Teasure) as the Chechen. Walton Goggins (House Of 1000 Corpses, The Bourne Identity) as the cocaine- and rape-lovin’ convict. Louis Ozawa Changchien as the Yakuza badass. Mahershalalhashbaz Ali (Tizzy from Benjamin Button) as the Sierra Leone douchebag. Danny Trejo (Machete, Fanboys, Smiley Face, Breaking Bad, and over 100 movies) as the Mexican. Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus from The Matrix, The Silver Surfer, Mystic River, Apocalypse Now) as the crazy dude they run into.
PLOT SUMMARY: Random soldier-types from all around the world get dropped off in a jungle, to be hunted by Predators. This isn’t really a spoiler, as this is apparent in the first 5 minutes of the movie.
UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]→ Human prey fails to make it home.
QUIRKS: A sequel.
VISUALS: You get to see a lot of Predators–including their faces. And a couple other species. But for the most part, Predator movies just show you jungle, jungle, and more jungle. This seemed pretty consistent with Predator 1–but with better special effects, of course.
MORALS: Not in the jungle, no. Survive. Kill or be killed. Put your allies at risk to increase your changes of living. Do anything.
GOOD STUFF: It’s a fucking Predator movie. These things are so badass!
BAD STUFF: Some complained that this was too close to Predator 1. But this is not even a remake; Predator 1 [highlight for spoilers]→ doesn’t even take place on the same planet. It takes place on Earth.. Topher Grace’s character wasn’t really necessary, and didn’t add much to the movie. Kind of pointless. Everyone said Laurence Fishburne was too fat and well-groomed for the character he played. I’m not sure what people were really expecting here. It’s a predator movie. They’re all basically the same thing. If they weren’t, it wouldn’t be a Predator movie.
It also seemed like the Predators killed some people way too slowly, for how brutal they are. This seemed to be used to allow the plot to advance certain ways. I’m used to them shooting someone and having the person more or less gib into a bunch of blood-gravy.
This movie certainly got people talking: The IMDB forum has over 245 PAGES of threads. Wow. I think it’s uncommon to see more than 20 pages for most movies. Obviously a lot of people were hyping up their expectations for a long time. That’s a surefire way to be disappointed in a film.
CONCLUSION: Yup! Awesome Predator action, as usual.
RECOMMENDATION: An obvious must-see for all Predator fanboys… Or even people who love hunting.
Cuchillo: This is hell.
Royce: Last time I checked you didn’t need a parachute to get there.
FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Jsun said he liked it almost as much as Predator 1.
January 21, 2014
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Doctor Strange – The Sorcerer Supreme (2007) –
Clint: 4/5 stars, 8/10.
Carolyn: 5/5 stars, 9/10.
Native ratings: 3.8/5 stars Netflix, /10 IMDB.
Carolyn: This was a good animated Marvel movie. I am not as familiar with Doctor Strange in the comic book realm, so it was interesting to see his origin story. The Marvel animated movies rarely disappoint, anyway.
Clint: I have to agree. This is the type of stuff we like. This isn’t one of the best, but I suspect it’s the only feature-length Doctor Strange origin movie that’s worth watching.
I wasn’t as wow’ed by it as Carolyn, as I’m starting to get jaded from watching so.many.movies lately. I’m starting to get to that age where you notice stories are becoming less unique: This felt like a combo of the origin stories of Batman (in Batman Begins) and Green Lantern (in terms of ancient leaders and their corrupt inner circle members), combined with the latest season of Avatar:The Legend Of Korra (in terms of demonic gods trying to break through to our realm). I should probably take a break from watching movies for a bit, to become less jaded. (But I really want to watch one tonite!)
One interesting thing: The sound mix was excellent.
January 18, 2014
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PEOPLE: A Bruce Timm-produced DC cartoon movie, so it’s from the same production source as most Batman and Superman animated productions from the past 20 years. Directed by Lauren Montgomery, who did other recent excellent superhero animated movies: Justice League:Crisis On Two Earths, Green Lantern:First Flight, Wonder Woman (2009), and Superman/Doomsday. And more are in the works, too.
Kevin Conroy is back as the most familiar voice of Batman ever, and Tim Daly is back as the most familiar voice of Superman ever. Susan Eisenberg continues voicing Wonder Woman as she has for a decade (but she’s drawn way hotter in this movie than before). And Summer Glau from Firefly plays Supergirl, who [highlight for spoilers]→ arrives on Earth during this movie.
Big Barda is played by Julianne Grossman (Marie from The Life And Times Of Tim, Charlene from Spaceballs:TAS). Darkseid is played by Andre Braugher (Live!, Fantastic Four:Rise Of The Silver Surfer, Homocide:Life On The Street, Hack, Men Of A Certain Age).
We also have Ed Asner, and even a bit part by Tara Strong (one of the most popular google searches that people use to get to my blog, she plays Bubbles on PowerPuff Girls, among other things). Also a bit part by April Winchell, daughter of past-generation celebrity Paul Winchell, who has emailed me before to discuss some roles she did.
PLOT SUMMARY: Supergirl arrives. That’s good. Then Darkseid arrives. That’s bad.
UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]→ Interplanetary child custody battle kills innocent bystanders.
VISUALS: Really good superhero action! Better than usual. No blood, but Supergirl‘s clothes get beat up when she fights — something cartoons often don’t do. Definitely adds to the realism.
MORALS: I don’t know, actually. It was just an excuse to have some superhero fights.
GOOD STUFF: Watching Supergirl have no idea how to deal with her new powers. Floating upwards, grabbing buildings so she doesn’t fall into the sky. It was a really, really awesome scene when she first arrived on earth. And of course, Darkseid’s planet is the worst hellhole ever.
BAD STUFF: The shopping scene. Made me want to kill myself. The way peoples’ lips were drawn.
CONCLUSION: Apparently, I didn’t quite like this as much as Carolyn. But it was still another awesome installment of animated superhero goodness.
RECOMMENDATION: Superman/Batman cartoon fans must see this!!
SIMILAR MOVIES: Most of the recent Bruce Timm produced animated movies. They’re all comparable.
MOVIE QUOTE: “This vessel carries my daughter, Kara Zor-El from the now dead planet Krypton. Treat her as you would your own child. She will prove a treasure for your world.”
Rev. Suds Pshaw: I give 5 for 5. Conroy and Daly return as Batman and Superman respectively — and it follows pretty damn closely the Michael Turner series.
January 8, 2014
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Hilarious, but still with a dark edge like the original. But not as dark, and seemingly not as serious. We missed Nic Cage, though. We wish he could have been in this. We got Jim Carrey, though! Carolyn didn’t recognize him until Clint pointed out who he was. Good makeup. And it’s okay if the makeup doesn’t look realistic, because that’s just comic book aesthetics. It actually opens things up for more creativity, versus the less-creative, more-common goal of making everyone look “realistic”.
But anyway… Super heroes in real life (i.e. *our* version of Earth) is an awesome genre, considering we have hundreds of known *real* costumed heroes in real life.
Written & directed by Jeff Wadlow.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (he’s going to be Quiksilver in The Avengers: Age of Ultron) as Dave Lizewski / Kick-Ass. Hmm, I guess he didn’t end up being Cyclops in X-Men: First Class…
Chloe Grace Moretz (Let Me In, The Amityville Horror, Movie 43, 1 ep of American Dad) as Mindy Macready / Hit-Girl.
Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes.
Morris Chestnut (Ryan Nichols in the new V series, Identity Thief, 1 ep of American Dad) as Detective Marcus Williams, who is now the guardian of Hit-Girl.
Clark Duke (Hot Tub Time Machine, Kick-Ass, Sex Drive, Superbad, Clark on the last season of The Office, 5 eps of Robot Chicken) as Marty / Battle Guy.
Augustus Prew as Todd / Ass Kicker.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin from Superbad, How To Train Your Dragon, The To-Do List, This Is the End, Kick-Ass, Movie 43, Fright Night, Year One) as Chris D’Amico / The Motherfucker.
John Leguizamo (Ice Age movies, Luigi in Super Mario Brothers, uncredited in Repo Men, 1 ep of American Dad) as Javier, The Motherfucker’s butler.
Donald Faison (Bartik in TRON: Uprising, Can’t Hardly Wait, Clueless (also in the TV series), 8 eps of Robot Chicken, 3 eps of The Boondocks, 1 ep of Adventure Time, 1 ep of Titan Maximum) as Dr. Gravity.
Lyndsy Fonseca (Hot Tub Time Machine, 1 ep of Heroes, 1 ep of Malcolm In The Middle) as Katie Deauxma.
Yancy Butler (Hansel & Gretel Get Baked) as Mrs. D’Amico, The Motherfucker’s mother.
Lindy Booth (Detroit Rock City, Wrong Turn) as Night Bitch.
Benedict Wong (Prometheus, 2 eps of Look Around You) as Mr. Kim.
Andy Nyman (1 ep of Holliston where he apparently plays Axl The Cat) as The Tumor.
Garrett M. Brown (Uncle Buck) as Mr. Lizewski.
January 7, 2014
PEOPLE: Ryan Carnes (Trailor Park Of Terror) as The Phantom. Cameron Goodman (The Informers) as his love interest; she looks AMAZING as a redhead; only so-so as a dishwater blonde. Jean Marchand (he seems so familiar, but is apparently a nobody) as the guy who trains the Phantom. Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet) as the lead evil scientist–the most major name attached to this. Sandrine Holt (Resident Evil:Apocalypse, Evelyn Martin in 24, 1 ep of Friday The 13th:The Series) as Guran (who is now a woman–a hot woman).
PLOT SUMMARY: A revised origin of The Phantom, now set in the present day 2000s instead of the 1930s. A much needed update. They must stop the Singh Brotherhood’s evil plot, which looks like something out of the movie The Signal — TV-based mind control that turns people into killers.
UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]→ Troublemaker’s trained by murderer of his parents.
QUIRKS: Based on a comic book, though almost everything has been changed out for something modern.
VISUALS: Not a lot of special effects, but the fact that this was in HD really helped. The dream/memory sequences were very visually interesting, with super-saturated colors that gave it a comic book backstory feel. And the love interest was wayyyy hotter than in the 1996 Phantom movie. And the action sequences are great.
GOOD STUFF: Modernized; this looks like something that came out of the 2000s, not something that came out of the 1980s (which is what the 1996 Phantom movie looked like). This can stand toe to toe with modern superhero adaptations (unlike the 1996 Phantom).
BAD STUFF: A lot of people won’t like that The Phantom has been modernized. He comes off more like the Green Arrow in Smallville, and is closer to the “brooding hero” archetype of most modern hero movies. They’ve thrown away all the corny aspects of the 1996 Phantom movie in favor for something that feels more like Smallville or 24. AND I’M QUITE FINE WITH THAT, as this was much, much, much better than the original. The Singh Brotherhood are no longer actual pirates with swords who hang around in ships and caves; they are evil men who wear suits and sit in a board room discussing which division of their huge organization will take care of which problem. Everything is far more realistic (at least, as much as superhero movies can be).
Surprisingly, there are a bunch of people who insist the 1996 version is better, and rate this 1/10 stars. I think they are fanboys who are more obsessed with maintaining canon than producing something that is good and meets modern standards.
There is a plot hole as to why [highlight for spoilers]→ the Phantom’s trainer would train him so well, if he was really the mole who leaked the information to the Singh brotherhood that caused his parents to get killed. It’s sort of explained, it’s just puzzling. What a twist! Of course, [highlight for spoilers]→ this conflict may or may not be explored in the comics, or in the Phantom 2040 series, so there may be more to it. For example, he said his loyalty will always be to The Phantom. Maybe he will now try to bring the Singh Brotherhood down from within?. This could easily be turned into a watchable series.
Sure, there’s still elements that some might find corny–the haters who can’t accept anything. But this was a far easier pill to swallow than the 1996 Phantom. Far, far, far easier.
CONCLUSION: Even though this is a made-for-TV double-length movie (3 hrs; two 1.5-hr movies, or four 44-min episodes) — this is way, way, wayyyyyy better than the 1996 Phantom movie. Here’s the thing though — the Netflix version is cut to half the length. Unless you can get HD copies of the original double-movie as it aired on Syfy, I don’t really see the point of Netflixing it. The Netflix disc says 85 minutes–this is 180 minutes!! Of course, it has little to do with the original comic now. But the feel, although modernized, is largely the same. Without the campy corniness.
RECOMMENDATION: If you can get your hands on the 3 hour version, check it out! But I’d avoid the 85 minute version. If you’re a die hard Phantom fanboy, you will only be able to enjoy if you can ACCEPT CHANGE. (more…)
January 6, 2014
PEOPLE: One of the writers wrote Innerspace (which we’re about to watch), The Lost Boys, and Lethal Weapon 2-3. The director mostly just does low-grade adventure stuff like Young Adventures Of Indiana Jones.
Starring the mediocre Billy Zane as The Phantom. Besides Tales From The Crypt:Demon Knight, and Back To The Future 1 & 2, I have not seen any of his 69 movies–including Titanic. He was, however, a 5-ep character in Twin Peaks — John Justice Wheeler, friend of Ben Horne. It’s too bad Bruce Campbell turned this down. The leading lady is Kristy Swanson, from Dude,Where’s My Car, and 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag. And oh! She was Buffy The Vampire Slayer in the movie. And Kowalski in Hot Shots. And Simone in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Also starring the RIDICULOUSLY hot Catherine Zeta-Jones. This was only her 5th movie, before she did Zorro and became super popular. She is SOOOOOO hot in this movie. DAMN!
PLOT SUMMARY: Get the 3 skulls before the bad guys!
UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]→ Vigilante murders prominent businessman.
QUIRKS: Based on a comic — the only reason I picked this up.
VISUALS: Campy. Bad special effects. Obvious stunt double in the plane dismount scene. Retarded bullet explosions that are the fakest bullets I’ve ever seen in any movie.
MORALS: Don’t be a bad guy, bad guy!
POLITICS: Cops are in on it.
GOOD STUFF: Based on a comic. The microscope scene. Catherine Zeta-Jones (worth repeating).
BAD STUFF: Not the greatest acting. Bad dialog. Raiders Of The Lost Ark rip-off feel — it even takes place in 1936. Or maybe Raiders Of The Lost Ark ripped off the comic. Whatever. Raiders Of The Lost Ark is 10X the movie as this. The director also worked on some of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode, and that’s probably why they had him do this.
Not completely faithful to the comic, either. They made up their own villain and only loosely based it on comic stories. With 70 years of comic canon, this should not be necessary. DERP.
CONCLUSION: Ridiculously campy Raiders Of The Lost Ark rip-off, but I like superhero movies so this gets a reluctant pass.
RECOMMENDATION: Skip it unless you’re planning to compare this to later Phantom movies or the Phantom 2040 cartoon. However, Outlaw Vern disagrees (as we frequently do).
MOVIE QUOTE: Quill: Look, I once killed the Phantom.
The Great Kabai Sengh: Join the club. Many of us have killed him over the years. But he keeps coming back.