Friday, August 5, 2022

BONUS: Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation

I couldn't resist.



That time has dawned once again, another brief departure for me and how serendipitous this released today before I go. I'm not sure if this is my favorite of the Lego Star Wars specials but it's highly possible. Following the vein of the previous specials, Finn has planned a vacation for all his friends aboard a luxury starcruiser and through tales of beloved faces from the past learns about how experiences should be treasured and how close you should keep your friends. And each story has a summer notion tied to it, Obi-Wan helps a rebel pilot infiltrate a birthday barbecue, Vader and The Emperor go to a beach party, and the Solo's go on a family vacation, with the true end of the special dealing with saying goodbye to dear friends as they all go their seperate ways like friends you make and lose during summer break. There's always a tinge of bitter sadness to summer ending for a great deal of people, back to school, loss of cool new friends, experiences felt and memories made, and strangely the special succeeds in that respect. And I gotta tell you man, I was not expecting to walk away from this with a new piece of wisdom I learned from Star Wars, you never know how long a moment will last so enjoy it while you can. Damn. But it's not all bittersweet, the comedy still worked a fair bit for me and you can tell they had writers who were enjoying themselves on this project, and while there isn't much physical slapstick which may defy the Lego staple, the dialogue was effective and I enjoyed it throughout. I was a bit surprised how much star power we got in this, with James Arnold Taylor (who sings and it is frick fraking amazing), Kelly Marie Tran (love you girl), Billy Dee Williams (still smooth as ever), and of course Weird Al Yankovic. I'm kinda upset we didn't get Weird Al canonized in live action but it's fun and great regardless. The animation quality remains consistant, and speaking as someone who just loves the Lego games even beyond Star Wars it's always a treat to see little blocks make jokes. And screw it, I count this as canon. Finn is gonna be a seeker and find more Jedi, Rey is heading to the Unknown Regions to discover more temples, Poe is going to train the next generation of X-Wing pilots, and Rose is going to volunteer around the galaxy, I want to see that! If this is the real cap off for these characters, the last time we'll really see them in anything except novels, I feel it's a sweet and simple enough sendoff that still leaves plenty to the imagination. Favorite segment, just guess. You know my stance on these characters. So yeah, not a bad way to end for about a month and then I'll be back. 3 stars, 7.5/10! We're getting closer to that 1,000th review. Soon will I rest, earned it I have. Twilight is upon me, and soon night must fall. That is the way of things. The way of the Force. Everything ends and it's always sad, but everything starts again and it's always happy. I'll be happy when I come back.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Bullet Train

Not my most anticipated movie but it was up there.



Something about the trailers hit me, and I was like oh yeah this is gonna be one of the better films of the year. Didn't disappoint to much all in all and I enjoyed it a good deal. So our story follows a member of an organization who doesn't actually kill people but people certainly die around him, taking a new assignment to retrieve a briefcase from a bullet train in Japan, but there's actual legit assassins on the train who all have their own orders and targets that merge with each other. It's a very complicated case man, a lot of strands to keep straight in the Duder's head this time around but it all ties together at the end so even if you forget a detail the film is polite enough to remind you. Hijinks most certainly ensue. It's not super flashy or different for different's sake in terms of direction and cinematography, focusing more on telling an entertaining and involved story rather than trying to flip the script and break new ground. I can respect that, and the movie does indeed have good shots, choreography, and humor throughout so it's not like it's a generic summer action movie. Though I do have minor quibbles here and there, obviously the movie takes primarily on a train so you don't get the sights of Japan from Tokyo to Kyoto (try saying that three times fast) but you get lots of other bits of the culture. Second, this is zero slam on the actress but Joey King man I hated her character, she's that antagonist who you just want to see meet a grisly end every second and maybe that was just because of my contempt but man I haven't felt hate for a character like that in a minute. Then again if you can get that severe a reaction out of an audience member, sterling performance, like well done madam! Third, this briefcase is purely a McGuffin I understand that and I like how it comes into play near the end, yet it didn't feel entirely pivotal to the plot and it has that Pulp Fiction grab of well what's in it? Nothing interesting I can tell you that, in fact I was expecting some Kill Bill-esque elements in it. No such luck. The cameos were a bit out of nowhere and of course all this bullshit springs from one guy, who I do not like as an actor but find passable as a person, I will try never to review his more popular movies, whose name I may or may not have brought up previously. F***ing guy. So far from perfect, but I'm very happy I saw it and could genuinely see it becoming a cult action hit. Brad Pitt is awesome, like ever since I saw him in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood my appreciation has grown and I love the idea of this reforming agent who doesn't like using guns and is a very open minded, easy going, inner peace kind of guy who can still throw down. Great character! Brian Tyree Henry, such a funny guy, who I can actually believe whacks people, and can pull off those emotional moments. Hiroyuki Sanada is always a joy to see and still rad, who has quite good comedic timing and I hope his fanbase flourishes more after being Scorpion in the newest Mortal Kombat movie. Before I go, just gotta say the funniest part hands doen for me was the anime mascot getting abused. I don't know why but seeing a giant anime catsuit just get punched in the face is just the funniest f***ing thing. Oh my God, you think that might have been some cathartic therapy for people who reeeeally do not like Pikachu or Pokemon? Could be. Overall, it's a solid movie and you can have a good time with it, it strings you along very nicely and never once gets boring or uninteresting. I give it 3 stars, 7.5/10!

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Hard Boiled

Alright I'll admit, it was pretty awesome.




Hard Boiled has been on my radar since probably 2008, and now that I've finally seen it I can appreciate it that much more. It's not as off the wall over the top as Crank but still illicited strong vocal reactions from me and I really loved it. The plot involves two police officers, one undercover and one putting pressure on the outside to bring down a weapons magnate and crime lord. Very simple plot but the execution is what makes it work so well. The movie had me hook, line, and sinker before the 10 minute mark, the fact alone the movie was about a cop who offtimes as a jazz musician is enough for me to pay pre-screening prices to see this movie. I've just never seen that in a movie before, and the soundtrack itself is very jazz/blues mix with some damn good action beats which reminded me of a combination of Blade Runner and Cowboy Bebop. Awesome. And once again, for reasons unbeknownst even to myself I friggin' love asian cinema around this time period, the movie was released in 1992 which hits that sweet spot for me, if a movie was made in Japan or China from the span of 1984 to 1998 I'm there. The action, ho mah gawd. It's insane, but with many recognizable cliches which I enjoy a great deal. More henchmen than you can shake a stick at, guns that never have to reload, good use of slow-mo, guys flying through plate glass windows, it's not a realistic movie but who says action has to be? Chow Yun-Fat is needless to say a great lead, flawless in his action man status but very funny and has the range to play up emotional states. At first I thought Tony Chieu-Wai Yeung was going to play an undercover cop torn between being an officer of the law and right hand man of a crime boss, but he's a good guy but has to do some bad stuff and that's a real good character dynamic. He hits the emotional scenes much more than Chow has to and I thought was mighty good. Teresa Mo what a class act, she was friggin' brilliant, at first being a comedic relief cutie pie but at that climax hell to the yeah. Speaking of climax, that 3 minute shot that everyone raves about is well deserved. They have this running gunfight through the hallways of a hospital, no edits, no trick photography, expertly timed choreography and gun effects, for almost 3 minutes. Pretty impressive I must say. The stuntwork and effects involved throughout must be commended, cause you really got to know what you are doing to make it all seamless and they by God do it. I read that they used legit guns and not prop weapons, and about 100,000 squibs and I'm not sure how many squibs were used in The Wild Bunch which supposedly was more than actual bullets used in the Mexican Revolution but it was a lot. Maybe not one of the more flowery written action movies or bloodiest even, but it was a treat to see this movie and I loved it from start to finish. 4 stars, 8.5/10, and Bullet Train is speeding onwards tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Crank

What the shit was that?




I'm honestly speechless. It's been a minute since I've seen an action movie this batshit, it's kind of incredible to behold from start to finish. So the basic story is an assassin named Chev, played by Jason Statham before he got super famous, is injected with a virus known only as "the chinese shit" that will kill him in one hour, but the man has stuff to do, places to be, and people to kill and quickly finds out if he keeps his adrenaline pumping constantly it won't kill him as fast. So it's like if Speed was a human body instead of a bus, and the movie kicks off almost from the word go. Terrific opening by the way, this movie sold me with Quiet Riot and a 80s arcade machine style title card, and I...I don't know what else I can say. The movie itself is shot like it just did four lines of cocaine and chugged 12 energy drinks, with lots of handheld running shots which thankfully aren't shaky, slick as hell editing, dramatic zooms and camera sweeps, the cinematography itself exudes energy, frantic speed, and an accelerating heart rate. I don't fully know what the definition of an exploitation movie is but this almost seems to fit the bill, fully warranting the R rating with lots of balls to the wall action, sex and nudity, and language. But what's great is it's just so over the top, pass 11 and goes to a 12 that you can't help but laugh at the insanity. Sure, do some cocaine off a gross bathroom floor, go for it and rail your girlfriend in a public crowd, yeah let's go wreck shit and chug Red Bull, so much happens you kinda are left reeling throughout. But that's the fun of it. Our main character isn't a great guy by any stretch, he's a bit of an asshole to more than just the people who poisoned him and pulls some hardcore dick moves but Jason makes it work. I never had any opinion on the guy but after seeing this I can understand why he gained a lot of popularity through the years. Amy Smart is kind of a mess, but an insanely cute hilarious mess that adds to the chaos and yet can bring the film down periodically for a slow more intimate scene. Jose Pablo Cantillo is an assssshooooole in this movie but hot damn does he play it well, that perfect villain you just enjoy hating to the max. We got two surprise cameos in this movie, Efren Ramirez plays a small supporting role and it's wild seeing Pedro in this, but yet again motherf***ing Sam Witwer pops up again clear out of the blue as a rando henchmen I don't even think he has a line but you can bet your sweet sainted mother I lost my shit something fierce seeing him near the end. Hell I could almost argue he plays a big role in how the climax resolves, just like Maul you never expect him but he'll shank you before the end. Mental action, surprisingly funny, a complete mindmelting crazy movie but done much better than you would think. What do I even rate it? In terms of entertainment I'd give it a 9, in terms of story and technicals I'd give it a solid 7.5, soooo I'll give it 4 stars, 8/10, and tomorrow we're going foreign action with one of the cornerstones of the genre.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The League Of Super Pets

Oh thank God. Not as bad as I thought it was going to be.




Yeah, after a re-evaluation of The Batman and the very very good Snyder cut I needed this to be decent. Thankfully I can report it was okay, in terms of overall quality. It has a really neat art design, taking a lot of art deco/50s futurisic influence to the backgrounds and environments, with some pretty cool character designs for the human superheroes. The fact alone I get to see a Superman suit a la' Kingdom Come is pretty sick, Diana is somehow even more awesome looking than normal I mean woof (ha ha ha....), Aquaman is a neat mix of classic comics and Justice League Unlimited, we got a new Green Lantern I was not aware of and hello there madame I will research you immediately, poor Flash and Bats could have had more interesting designs to be honest, we even get a frickin' rad Mercy Graves so I'm pretty happy on that front. But the focus is of course on the pets and they are mostly miss for me, not much love for Krypto or Ace (and that is the only time I will speak blasphemy on the name of Ace), the pig PB was cute, the squirrel...eh, but my favorites were the geriatric turtle and not just cause she cusses and it made me lose my shit in the theater, and of course the villains. Kate McKinnon my babe, you once again are my shining star and play one of the unironically best villains I've seen in an animated film in some time and she has a pretty kitty henchman who is cute as heck and will annihilate your enemies with extreme prejudice. I want him. That's the thing with this movie for me, I don't particularly care about Krypto or his story, more the funny odd stuff that happens along the way. It's an average basic premise and plot but it is serviceable. The comedy actually got me more than I could have fathomed, the villain is brilliant but even then has some groaner jokes, the turtle was amazing but any kids movie that drops an F bomb whether censored or not has some respect from me, and the semi-Looney Tunes physical humor worked in places. I am taking this as a small victory, it wasn't bullshit from cover to cover it was just painfully adequate with some bright spots. I can live with that. 2.5 stars, 6/10, and we got only one more week before I take a summer break so we will go out with a bang.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Justice League (The Snyder Cut)

Alright I get the affection for it now.




Color me impressed, for a movie I had some but not really too much interest to see and saw the tumultous uproar to even get it released, with zero real knowledge of how it came to be in existence as we see it now I thought it was great! Now I will say the enjoyment of Joss Whedon's version has waned a bit to the point I think it's just a average decent movie, but I don't deem it superflous or worthy of being erased. Considering this is an R rated movie and a firmly warranted one at that, it tells a much more dramatic and for lack of a better word "important" story, taking it seriously and trying to convey a story meant for grown ups means it can't fully be compared to the theatrical release which is bright, fun, and ultimately your typical popcorn superhero film. There is a place for both in comic movies, and while there is undoubtedly exact same shots and a mostly unchanged story, it's how the movie goes about it that makes a universe of difference. Presented in a quite honestly fascinating aspect ratio of 4:3, the likes of which last seen here in The Lighthouse, the story still involves Bruce leading the charge for a metahuman team combating the threat of Steppenwolf and more importantly Apokolips. The beauty of this movie is it takes what was there in the theatrical movie and expands upon it with an extended runtime and select new elements, after all that was the plan once upon another time the Justice League was going to be two movies and this delivers it in an unsual way. The story is split up into parts, not quite vignettes but more chapters of a book, an interesting idea that while not changing much is a unique and novel touch. It's actually a fascinating experience watching both versions back to back because it's so similar and yet so extremely different. I greatly enjoyed and loved how the story progressed, the additional character moments and backstory we get, the visual style is truly Zack Snyder which I feel helps the movie more than the brighter shades of the Whedon version. It truthfully lived up to the hype everyone was making it to be for me, and they need to continue this story. You started it way back in 2013, it's almost been a decade and if you just take several steps back WB and DC from current projects and start at square one you could have something a lot of people would like to see. I've been on board this ship since almost day 1 and this movie reminded me how excited I get seeing a new DC movie and can't wait to see the next one. I know they can do it and Black Adam looks pretty solid so far. The movie clearly has a vision, style, and story it wants to tell and I'd say it handled it all very strongly. I had to buy this movie cause I couldn't find a place to rent it, but I gotta say that was money well spent after seeing it. It's a truly tragic thing that happened to the Snyder family and lord knows there is countless people who give a lot of love and good thoughts to them, and the fact they could get their movie out there the way they wanted it is a pretty incredible thing in and of itself. And I will be just brutally honest guys, I was NOT in a good state of mind before watching this, feeling very bitter, disillusioned, and beyond apathetic to media, the world, and specifically people. Just really despising with uncalculable anger at how just vehement and pessimistic people can be over such frivolous things as entertainment, like a comic book adaptation or a movie series. But then I remembered that not only is revenge the most worthless of causes, but hate is the most useless of emotions. It did give me pause however if I should even continue after my 1,000th review. But there is world enough and time before we reach that day. 4 stars, 8.5/10, and just for comparison I would rate the theatrical version 2.5 stars, 6/10, and I can't believe I'm doing this. Next time, League Of The Super Pets. Ohhhhhh......

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

In Retrospect: The Batman

It wouldn't be this show if something was late.



Yeah, I know. I said I was going to see it again and had every intention to but life got busy and this is nearly 3 hours long, but I've seen it 3 or 4 times now and have solidified my stance on the movie. Still love it, still think the story works very well, and the score has indeed been raised. First off, this viewing around I was just gushing profusely over the cinematography, like I know because it's a modern movie and therefore has modern cameras where every frame is crystal clear and the look is out of this world but maaan dat look good! I'm not sure if it's a director stamp of Matt Reeves but his whole focus on one object in the foreground but leave the background out of focus may be considered artsy but I loved it. That's my eyesight in a nutshell, so I'm just keeping it real with glasses. The look of Gotham while still very modern day is unmistakably this iconic city, hell that shot of the diner with the rain and the neon glowing in the darkness is Gotham personified to me. Friggin' Wayne Tower though, Tim Burton wishes he could be this gothic in style and structure, I mean wow but man did I love it. Costume design, brilliant and not just with the batsuit though it is a marvel to behold and study. So visuals, 10/10. Robert Pattinson still does the trick for me and while I personally feel no one can claim a certain actor as the definitive Batman, he covers nearly all the bases with me. With the exception of being Bruce Wayne, though I know it's part of his character and the arc he makes, he is still very much 90% Batman and 10% Bruce but it works because he hasn't found that balance yet where even as Bruce he can still get stuff done and acquire information. I dare almost say this is a character study of a young but hardened Batman, he knows the ropes and still does good work but he isn't flawless and takes a more direct obvious route. That's the thing with this movie, it can tell you so much without saying a word I mean we are talking visual storytelling the likes I have not seen in many a year. Just a simple thing of Batman banging on a club door and forcing his way inside to sneaking through the same door does a lot for the character. The fact that he is faced with a grim reality that he inspires criminals through his actions and starts working less as a vigilante and more a hero is what tipped the scale for me on the second viewing to raise the score. I love seeing detective work in this movie, cause it's very ground level in the process with having a lead, gaining a tentative link, and following that to another lead cause that's how it works. You need to have the skills to read the signs, but also a bit of luck to get you to the next part. And with an adversary like the Riddler, you have to play his game and gain knowledge bit by bit of his scheme which I feel still works on repeated viewing, it's the long game where any bit of information could come into play. I should know, I spammed the Rata Alada website daily and got a lot out of it before the damn G.C.P.D. took the site off. Paul Dano is a very different Riddler but infinitely entertaining, I must have had this twisted smile on my face everytime he was on screen, this disturbing mix of oh my God this is great and sweet Jesus this is eerie as f***. What can I say I loved every second of it, and I'm gonna get shit for this maybe until the day I retire but was it just me or was anyone else getting like real severe ASMR vibes with his voice? I was kinda nodding off at points, I'm sure that says a lot about me but I refuse to take sass from people who spend entire days watching crime and serial killer documentaries so you can take a seat. If memory serves I believe I said Zoe Kravitz was the best live action Catwoman, and I would say yes absolutely. Definitive? Not yet. Incredibly great in many aspects of the character? Affirmative. She got the skills, it's very Year One Catwoman in design which I dig, the romance I feel works well enough, props to them for going the whole Falcone side of her heritage like in the comics following The Long Halloween I appreciate that, she did proper good with this role. I want more Jeffrey Wright, I got enough to satisfy me but I need more, that whole partnership was handled super well in my book and I just love that man so bring it on I say. The action was less pronounced but still had that punch (full pun intended), I know we're not gonna see Rob go full Batfleck and just wreck dudes in seamless Arkham combat style but the work put in must be commended. I'm still kind of on the side of the fence where I just want it to be this movie and not a 3 picture deal, I'm just very disillusioned with the business side of comic book movies rather than the films themselves. But a villain team up I can roll with, I mean come on my first Batman movie was Batman Forever followed closely by Batman & Robin, multiple villains is second nature to me. I still really enjoyed it, I loved the progression for Batman, it's an engrossing and entertaining film and the ending is something I'm proud of them for doing. 4 stars, 9/10, and next time we're doing some comparisons on The Justice League.