Thursday, March 31, 2022

Blade Trinity

Well it wasn't that bad.

I expected a major drop in quality after reading about all the production issues and trouble with the star, but upon rewatching it well over a decade later I was happily proven wrong about the overall quality. The only thing I feel that isn't up to par is the stroy itself, with Blade finally coming face to face with the father of all vampires Drake, who I believe has some mthological history to it in exactly who the first vampire was, and fairly soon he teams up with Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds to end it all. I will say good things about it, I am very impressed and amazed how much practical effects were used in this movie, when they blow shit up they blow it up, when they trash a car they absolutely total it, they truly only use CG when absolutely necessary and for a film made in 2004 I just have to give props to that. Taking into account how much good grief Wesley Snipes gave on set he still does decent work, though my favorite was Jessica Biel. Like I buy she hunts vampires and kicks ass, her training in hand to hand combat and archery were on the level, and I feel she did very admirable work. Paul Levesque or better known to the world as Triple H while obviously a product of the time when Dwayne Johnson first tried to kick off his movie career so you started seeing wrestlers in films, he was great fun to see and apparently was such a stand up guy and worked super well with the crew they just kept giving him more dialogue and stuff to do. That's awesome. Though not anywhere close to the amount of action in the last movie, they did still put effort into it and while it looks a bit more fake than it actually is closer to the end I could still appreciate it. I think the worst part is, even though it is by absolutely no means an incompetently made movie it still doesn't do much for me and doesn't have a good story or strong direction. I know David S. Goyer had a hand in all 3 movies, and I don't even know what the consensus is on his works or if people just do not like the guy personally, I frankly have no idea so I'm just stating while the direction is okay it's nothing to write home about. This movie really fell dead square in the middle for me which if you've been here long enough you know I hate that more than a bad movie. Cause there is good stuff to be found here and there, but the stuff that just isn't good really cancels out the good things. You're probably saying, oh he just didn't like it cause it had Ryan Reynolds, and you are partly right because it's just the same old shit regardless of film, tone, or intention on behalf of his performance. He wasn't grating like a certain other Marvel movie, which we do not speak about here but the big problem I have with this is, I'm sorry he should have died. I'm not saying that to be an asshole, it just perfectly summarizes my problem with this script. Cause the secret hideout is found out, damn near everyone dies including Patton Oswalt who I just had a great time seeing him in a movie though very little screentime unfortunately, and yet! And yet, he's the one that makes it out, though he was targeted by Drake first before anybody else got bodied. What the f*** is that shit?? There's no true justice in the world if Patton Oswalt dies offscreen but chuckles over there is just used as a prisoner for precisely zero reason. I am a logical reasonable guy but I've just experienced some very unreasonable things. Bollocks! Do better! I'm bored of this, I'm going for a Twix. 2 stars, 5/10.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Blade II

Yep this is the best one, we're done here.

Story time! When I was a young bean a bit before my teen years I saw Blade 2 many times, and I never saw the first one so this was my introduction to the character and the world. My God, what a great entry to be introduced to. So big shock, we get nothing but improvements in the sequel being an unlikely but entirely superior sequel which is already a rare category, as we pick up awhiles after the first film with Blade in Russia working in tandem with the vampiric council (insert What We Do In The Shadows joke here) trying to stop a new vampiric strain that targets both humans and vampires. Great, taking a basic premise and expanding upon it with new ideas and better production, good times be here. You may be a bit surprised Guillermo del Toro directed this, before Hellboy and even Pan's Labyrinth, bringing his visual style of direction in full force, I mean it's almost night and day the style between the first and second film. With a lot more camera movement, lots of great wirework, super slick at times editing where even I had to rewind to fully appreciate it, and visual effects that you don't forget. I think they knew exactly what to give in this movie, they double down on the action cause that's what people want to see, they want to see vampires get dead and this movie by God delivers, while still keeping a good pace and letting the story have it's moments too. I think Wesley is on top form, greatly outdoing himself in the previous movie and being more badass than before. I must give hardcore props to Luke Goss who plays our main villain, I can't fully put my finger on it but I feel he's just a compelling and even slightly tragic villain with his own motives that don't revolve around Blade all the time, he knocks it out of the park for me. Leonor Varela on the other hand, I...can't tell if she just can't give a good line delivery or if her character is supposed to be more on the monotone side. You know we don't bad talk actors, I don't like doing it, but man did her performance fall so flat for me. Another extra special guest appearance we get Ron Perlman, and Norman Reedus which is wild to see him before he became a household name in recent years. Some people give good grief that Ron Perlman plays a complete f***face but I attribute it to his acting talent but I am firmly in the camp of seeing him as a goodie and not a baddie. So cast 9 times out of 10 is solid. The effects got a lot better, it does have moments where you're like, "Whew boy that looks like a PS2 game." and it is rough but that is a rare thing, most other times it is pretty dang good and holds up I think excellently. The soundtrack isn't as bumping though, but a few of the rap tracks got me so no foul there. Yeah, it's a very solid entertaining film and I don't think it's gonna be outdone, they play their cards as good as they can and I really don't got much to complain about. 4 stars, 7.5/10, this is the one to see for sure and God I was hoping I could avoid him. Alright Ryan, come on in you fffffff- friendly guy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022


You could genuinely make the case that Blade started getting comic book movies back on track.

After the global panning of Batman & Robin in 1997 comic book movies were in a rough place and DC was out of the game for a good while. This led Marvel to make a firm advance with their characters, Blade in 1998, X-Men in 2000, and Spider-Man in 2002, and with Morbius coming up it was an appropriate time to discuss other Marvel vampire movies. I'm actually fairly impressed with the first Blade movie, pretty much building this character and the world from the ground up since they heavily departed from the comic book version, yet it still is entertaining and doesn't try to be the next mega blockbuster. It undeniably has influence from the decade it was made, so it has some cheesy tinge to it but I wouldn't have it any other way. So our story follows quite possibly the coolest vampire hunter in media cleaning house around New Orleans and more specifically targeting a rising vampire by the name of Deacon Frost who has his own big plans for the world. Very easy story to tell, but how they do it is what counts. I really have a bit to commend the production team on in this movie, casting Wesley Snipes was a no brainer and he handles it with an ultra cool and experienced demeanor with the actor himself championing putting a lot of martial arts in the film because he admired foreign action films so much. And it does show in the choreography and action, while still having some gunplay and gadgets. I like how the story progresses and how they build the world, with only a few slight clunky pieces of info delivered but overall is done seamlessly and has good pacing throughout. Our main viewpoint character played by N'Bushe Wright though honestly not having too much to do besides be our human window into this supernatural world does a decent job, Stephen Dorff though not the biggest comic fan nails that cocky asshole villain role and at times seems to enjoy himself, knowing what I know I thought Kris Kristofferson was excellently cast as a semi-mentor/quartermaster with so much grumpiness and wiseass remarks he fits perfectly in the movie. Out of curiosity I compared this movies staking effects to Buffy, cause the CG is not great but it works okay and I actually prefer the staking effect here more. I am however disappointed that they had a Stan Lee cameo filmed but it didn't make the cut and I even heard tale Dr. Michael Morbius was also gonna get some screentime here but it never came to pass. That's a bummer, but all in all it's a decent movie. I give it 3 stars, 7/10, and in the meantime before we review the second film tomorrow I'm gonna tear up the dance floor with that rave song.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Gamera Vs. Zigra

I may surprise some people with this.

I'm just gonna say it, this is my favorite Gamera movie. Now I wouldn't say it's the best Gamera movie, I hold that for Gamera Vs. Gyaos but there was something about this movie that got me in just the right spot. Full disclosure here, I was in a terrible mood, downright hostile angry this morning but I knew I had to get this review done and said it might just be the movie I need right now. We take a bit of a relapse into sci-fi territory as another alien race comes to colonize Earth specifically it's oceans as we are introduced to our human cast who also have affiliations with the sea and Gamera is called upon one more time to save the day. I don't know if I can properly pinpoint exactly why I loved this movie as much as I did cause it really doesn't stray from the Gamera formula all that much. You still have your child protagonists, both japanese this time, who are actually funny and cute and enjoyable. Kids in kaiju movies are almost a death sentence to the majority of fans but here I very much enjoyed their interactions and stance on the story. The production values though in my opinion not as high as Jiger still did pretty good work, and the fact the movie is shot around the Kamogawa Sea World makes for an interesting location. I also quite liked the relatively small fact that they shoot the monsters from far away on ground level, like seeing it from a human's perspective, I just noticed it and thought it was interesting. Despite our main alien antagonist having a fair bit of screentime, I was interested more in the space girl we meet and no it wasn't because she ran around in a bathing suit for awhile you dirty dirty scoundrels. I digged the green spacesuit, her Master like ability to hypnotize people, the fact she was hunting down two kids makes for a decent villain. And the movie had just little touches and moments that made me laugh considerably, with highlights being how one of the kids says spaceships he can pilot but a motorboat isn't his forte just cracked me up, and Gamera has a few "What the hell?" moments that I just couldn't stop myself laughing at. This movie easily takes the most innocent and childlike style and tone of the entire series but plays it off in a way where it's rather endearing and entertaining rather than just roll your eyes nonsensical. I'm beyond thrilled this series did not spiral into the depths of horribleness as I thought it would. It really only was Viras that did nothing much for me, and it was a fascinating experience going through all these movies and appreciating the more silly and fun style of it all. The director Noriaki Yuasa always said he wanted Gamera to be a figure children could trust and obviously he had a lot of passion to keep making these movies, despite the dwindling budgets to the point where this was the last Gamera movie to come out because the studio Daiei went bankrupt before the movie even hit theaters. It was a dark time for kaiju movie fans, first Gamera gets the ax in 1971 and then just three years later Godzilla ended in 1974 for a decade. That sucks, it seemed like I finally got it, I finally understood, appreciated, and enjoyed the kid friendly, sweetly naive, bonkers but fun kaiju series this was just at the very end of it all. That's a bummer man, and while I don't have plans to discuss Gamera Super Monster, I most definitely will dive into it and tell as much information as I can before we review the 90s Gamera movies one day. But I finally got Gamera off my list and overall enjoyed it. I give this movie a very partial and biased 4 stars, 7.5/10, but objectively it would be a 7/10. Take of that what you will and I'll see you next week for some horror inspired comic book movies.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Captain's Log: Year 7

Stardate 75696.3, we have reached our 7th year in the continuing encounter of countless types of cinema and visual media. Databanks show a current number of 920 reviews and still going. Yet I wonder if we'll reach #1000 before the end of the year or even next year's anniversary, I don't believe in the no win scenario. I don't like to lose. There are always possibilities Spock said, and come what may I am happy to still be doing this. I also have much to be thankful for, least of all my readers regardless of volume or nationality for their interest in my humble and unprofessional opinions and ramblings. I do not feel this endeavor to be a vain or empty one and of my friends who continue to read and explore with me I can only say this, of all the memories I have made in my life these are the most gratifying. I hope to continue for some years more, and still contribute good entertaining recommendations for all. By my calculations in the coming weeks we'll be visiting comic book movies, video game movies, magical movies and movies that defy genre, needless to mention another personal event that prompts one to somewhat feel old...worn out. But I'd rather be speaking my opinions, speaking them before I turn into a part of my collection, before I really do grow old. Cheers to the site and all those who attend, and tomorrow we'll knock out this kaiju series. Live long and rock on.

Gamera Vs. Jiger

May be speaking too soon, but this is the best one so far with the kids.

Again, pretty damn shocked how good this was. Thankfully it takes a departure from aliens and sci-fi and gets back down to Earth, as we meet another japanese-american double act of kids where they learn about the really real 1970 Expo where a relic is uncovered and in classic horror fashion a monster is awakened after the relic is taken, leading to destruction as Gamera gains another adversary. Quite a few good things to say again so let's talk production. Apparently each subsequent Gamera movie had less and less of a budget but this movie looks gooood, it actually seemed to have money behind it from the sets, monster effects, the film stock looks better, it looks like a true competitor to the Godzilla movies that were kind of winding down by this decade. But I was very impressed with the visuals and like we get a lot more focus on the monsters throughout. It's like if they took elements from Barugon and Gyaos and mixed it with the kid centric light entertainment of the past two movies, leading to a very entertaining and balanced story. I know not everyone is a fan of children being the main story aspect of the Gamera series, but even I must admit I have seen more competent and good child actors from Japan more than here in the States before the new millenium. Plus it was just interesting seeing this Expo showcased as this brand new event which was true at the time in 1970, and I'd honestly go to one today if I had the opportunity. Now for the kaiju, I feel as if the Gamera suit got updated and beautifully so, and also they got a new suit actor which might explain why it looks different. Jiger is more on the normal side, or as normal as Gamera villains get with a brown reptilian design complete with Spinosaurus fins on the back, and the abilities he has are both new and old. Able to fire needles from it's horns, it has Barugon's death beam sans the magnificent colors, I think it flat out has telekenisis and can fly, so it's a formidable opponent. Needless to say I appreciate going back to the kaiju having a strong stance throughout, even if they aren't on screen they still have bearing and weight on the plot just like in Gyaos. And just to throw it out there, outstanding work on the set design when we see Gamera's internal systems, just the fact we see the walls pulse and move in his lungs like he was breathing was proper good set design. Top notch work found here man. It breaks from the overly goofy and weird stuff for the most part and gets grounded again which helped my enjoyment a great deal, and I actually hold it high up on the ranks like Barugon and Gyaos. So I give it 3.5 stars, 7.5/10, could we end on a high note as we cap off the original series? I hope so at least.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Gamera Vs. Guiron

Okay, I was pleasantly surprised.

For the fifth movie in this series, I was kinda shocked how much I liked this more than Viras. Which is really bizzare to say cause the plot isn't terribly different, two young boys discover a spaceship and are stolen away to the alien's home planet where they try to survive and come face to face with their monster Guiron, a four legged reptile with a literal blade as part of his skull, while Gamera makes the trek to the planet to save them. And I actually have a fair bit to talk about than last time so I just hope I remember all my points. So let's talk about the fun random stuff first. I cannot believe even in this version they still retain the line "A world without wars and traffic accidents" which has become an in joke to the kaiju community at large which is repeated once, twice, three times a space girl so I got a good laugh out of that. We meet policeman Kon-chan, or as we effectionately call him Officer Corn-Job who I believe we will see again in the next movie. And we get my favorite version of the Gamera song, along with a true Olympic display of acrobatics and poise. I think I was just in a grumpy mood yesterday, because the child like mentality and absurd monster stuff actually worked for me quite a bit this time. I again give major credit to the designers of the aliens and their "star" (Yes they did it again.), with the world looking like something straight out of the original series of Star Trek mixed with some Lost In Space set design. The aliens are wild, helmets with antennae, super short capes, Kamen Rider style belts, it's a sight to behold. However, the actors playing the aliens are excellent being able to give more subtle moments of interaction and never go truly over the top while still having a tiny bit of threat. The monster fights I feel are the best yet, with exaggerated and humorous emotions, awkward but highly entertaining hits, and just a weird fun tone to it all. You know guys, it just dawned on me how kinda weird these films are, they're kinda goofy. It's rather interesting seeing this as a time capsule movie, they bring up the Apollo moon mission several times and it really puts it into perspective the time these movies were made. It took until movie number 5 for man to land on the moon, and space craze was in full swing. I don't mind our child actors this time around, and I'm not sure I brought this up last time but we have a japanese kid and a caucasian kid but what's fascinating about that is, both speak in japanese there's no dubbing or japanese subtitles filling in the english dialogue. That's...never happened much, even Nick Adams was dubbed in Astro-Monster, you really don't see white american actors speaking the native language. It's cool, I like that, but it's a rare anomaly for these types of pictures. All in all, it's silly but fun kid's entertainment and a nicely done entry in the Gamera series. 3 stars, 7/10, and we only got 2 more to go.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Gamera Vs. Viras

Here we go...

This is where the Gamera series changes not entirely for the best. Though heralded as the favorite of the entire series by the director himself, Gamera Vs. Viras takes the first step into children's entertainment. Not at all that the previous three films couldn't be watched or enjoyed by kids, or even that it being kid centric is entirely bad but it's a delicate art mastered by few. So we finally get alien invaders in the Gamera series as the species from the "star" Viras have come to claim and colonize Earth but have to deal with Gamera first. Now fair credit where it's due the kid story is front and center so it doesn't feel tacked on or out of nowhere, but it's still a bit odd how two literal boyscouts encounter and befriend Gamera, are subsequently captured by the aliens, and have to figure out a way to save the Earth. I never expect faultless logic in my monster movies, but I'm just saying it didn't do much for me. Which is a bit of a problem considering 75% of the movie involves these two boys, what's the remaining fourth you may ask? Stock footage, yeah this is the Gamera movie that really sets the standard for the remainder of the series. Aliens, stock footage, the Gamera theme makes it's first appearance, and plots mainly involving children. You see key fights from Barugon and Gaos, but also the attack on the dam, and Tokyo (despite it still presented in black and white), so needless to say it does feel like padding. I can't blame them, there isn't much of an original story to reach near 90 minutes but they also could have worked on the script more. It was a budget decision, okay, fine, these movies didn't have a lot of studio backing so they had to be economical in making it. With that being said, I like the visuals a fair bit, I love the alien spaceship mainly because it looks so alien, it's not your typical rocketship or fighter plane made to look futuristic, it is bizzare and otherworldly. Great job on that and the aliens, that glowing eye effect gave me the creeps and the design of Viras is simple but still works. I do however find it odd that the star discrepancy still exists in the original japanese version. Lesson time! In japanese the words for planet and star are the same word, Hoshi, and in the english dub they translated it as star and not planet. Whoops, americans are idiots when it comes to foreign languages big shock, however the subtitles for the japanese version still call it a star. And this is modern translations on Prime Video, how the hell did they still mess this up? If I can translate one single word from japanese to english in roughly 10 seconds, why can't others in this day and age? It's weird. The monster fight was a decent length, and you know this movie though mainly intended for kids has some gnarly visuals, an arm gets ripped off and you see the flesh and bone, you get 5 decapitations in a row, and Gamera gets flat out staked in a bloody fashion. I mean Jesus. As long as the fluids aren't red, the rating system doesn't care! All in all, it's a lesser entry in the Gamera series but not entirely unwatchable. 2 stars, 5.5/10, I would say here's hoping for better but...I have my doubts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Gamera Vs. Gyaos

They're learning.

After the shocking amount of screen time Gamera got in the last movie, I feel the production team and writers doubled down on this one. Several volcanic eruptions release a new adversary for Gamera, a giant bat kaiju named Gyaos who terrorizes a small village that brings another kid into the equation as military and scientific minds collaborate once more. I feel this is a movie that took elements of both the first and second movie, and mixed them pretty well. As I said there is a huge amount of kaiju action in this, even when the monsters aren't on screen the scene still has something to do about them. Learning more about Gyaos, seeing the effects of experiments on his flesh, Gamera coming into his hero light and befriending a young boy, it's a perfectly balanced kaiju movie for me where you get lots of monster scenes and the human story enters unfamiliar waters for one of these movies and still holds some interest. The movie I think is setting the bar for the rest of the series, cause the previous two while still having humorous and off beat moments were still fairly serious and "realistic". This one takes a much lighter, silly, ludicrous, and kid orientated stance and it flat out does not care that it's absurd. Take Gyaos for example, a giant bat kaiju that lives on blood, has a weakness to sunlight, shoots weird green mist out of I can only assume it's breasts, shoots a ultrasonic ray that honestly looks and acts more like a lazer, and can regrow body parts. Only in Gamera movies will you get something this weird. The kid is a touch more annoying in this one, and still retains the scene where they just barge into a military operation without reason, prelude, or connection and has a bonding session ride with Gamera visiting an amusement park. What? It was the 60s, a strange monster could take your child alone to a fair without anyone even batting an eyelid. I trust the several storey tall, flying, fire breathing monster that destroyed the city and claimed countless lives in the last two movies oh wait-

Well...I trust him more than that reporter guy, that was some stranger danger shit man. I think it's obviously clear this was a movie intended for kids, which is interesting cause by Barugon in 1966 the Godzilla series wasn't at the lighthearted for kids romps though Godzilla was a hero by this point. And by Gyaos we were up to Son Of Godzilla which sort of was taking baby steps (Laugh!) into that department. So could it be Toho was taking inspiration from these movies for their future Godzilla projects? Possible. But I can appreciate both and can much more fullheartedly recommend this movie to kaiju fans. I like the human story but not as much as Barugon, the effects are still in good shape, the monster stuff has my full attention, it's a very solid entry. I give it 3 stars, another 7.5/10 but for completely different reasons than Barugon, and I kinda feel this is the high water mark for the Gamera series. I've seen the reviews (go watch Brandon Tenold's Gamera-athon), and I know it is not too pretty from here. Into jaws of death we go!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Gamera Vs. Barugon

And the versus commences until the end of the series.

In many ways I like this movie better than the first, yet in other aspects I can almost see why it isn't rated so highly. I will give major props to the story, taking a vast departure from the majority of kaiju movies I've seen in my entire life. So 6 months have passed since Gamera got shot into the void of space before a meteor crashes into the rocket releasing Gamera unto the world once more, as he regains some power and still keeps his antagonistic edge. Now the main story on the humans side involves three men who travel to New Guinea to find an opal that is hailed by the locals as cursed, and many deaths do follow in the wake of finding it but weirdly enough the opal is actually a monster egg and hatches Barugon, who is easily one of the most inventive and bizzare kaiju I've ever witnessed. So eventually both monsters meet, clash, and this is where I can see a lot of people tuning out for this film. Gamera truth be told is maybe in the movie 15 minutes total in an hour and forty minute flick, he loses the first fight and it takes until the last 10 minutes for a rematch and win for the flying turtle. That is a big issue for a movie called Gamera Vs. Barugon, when the kaiju stuff and our main star is more in the background. However I really actually like the human story a fair bit, almost turning into a revenge movie for our human protagonist Keisuke often conflicting with the man who double crossed him and left him for dead Onodera, while getting some help from one of the natives Karen. Yes Karen, the most exotic islander sounding name I've ever heard since Sheamus Mac An tSithigh. And they help the military deal with this mad bastard that bleeds purple, freezes and punches things with it's tongue, and shoots deadly rainbow beams that would make Mechagodzilla jealous and me jealous that the lovely folk of the LGBTQA+ community cannot do the same thing. Well let's see 1966, acid was probably a thing in Japan, case closed on the conception of this monster design. It does have pepperings of monster fights and military action with the most outlandish operation names ever said, but there's more the main story of us seeing these previous partners at odds. I don't hate that! Very misleading movie title, but not much else bad with it. The effects have improved, the casting is very good and I always applaud japanese actors who have to say this stuff out loud and they do it stone faced serious and will always have my respect, the story is still engaging, and the color footage and direction is solid and looks good. 3 stars, I give it a 7.5/10, so check it out and tomorrow we meet the Gamera equivalent of Ghidorah.

Sunday, March 20, 2022


It was bound to happen.

Yep, we're doing all the Gamera movies. Why? Why not? Released the same year as Invasion Of Astro Monster, japanese studio Daiei brought their own signature kaiju to the plate and I must say it's better than you'd think. So many people cry Godzilla rip off, and if you're somewhat familiar with Mystery Science Theater 3000 you'll know the american version is....not great. But I got my hands on the original japanese version and will endeavor to stick to that for the remainder of the week. The movie is shot in pristine black and white despite color being a very available yet more costly option, as a brief conflict in the arctic awakens a massive fire breathing turtle who wreaks some havoc as scientists find a way to stop it, very typical stuff but truthfully is it's own entity and handles nearly every aspect very seriously and competently. The suit and effects for Gamera are really good to the point where I had to ask how they achieved certain effects of Gamera flying among others, it does undoubtedly take a serious tone that probably gets shot out of the window at warp factor 9 by the next movie but I just greatly appreciate how they handle the disasterous aftermath of Gamera's attacks. I like our main cast, following a zoologist and his assistant, along with a photographer for almost the whole movie and I never found the talky bits dull or super exposition-y, but the kaiju action is more on the low side. You get the big city setpiece and a few bits here and there but it is more human centric. I felt the script did a good job though creating intrigue explaining aspects of Gamera and formulating plans to deal with him. However, and this is where we get to talk about the kid, his whole story with him and his family is so out of flip flappin' left field to the extent where I'm just baffled he's even in this. It really does just start without any introduction or segueway, but mercifully the kid really isn't that annoying in the japanese version. Still a bit of an idiot but not insufferable, but hey that's kids for you. It's a very by the numbers kaiju movie but like I said it handles the material quite well and I would recommend it if you haven't seen it and japanese monster movies are your thing. 3 stars from me, 7/10, and the weirdness has only just begun.

Thursday, March 17, 2022


A24 strikes gold once more.

I haven't been this into and loving a modern horror film since Candyman, even I'm shocked how much I was getting into it. Texas 1979 is our setting as we follow a lowbudget porn crew traverse into a deserted area of Texas to shoot their next film when things get a bit more raw than intended. Where do I begin? Gotta be methodical about this so I don't forget anything. The production is wonderful, perfectly capturing that grain of 70s grindhouse while still keeping the colors at a natural consistency, surprise of surprises this was shot in New Zealand which fooled me throughout cause it looks like a spitting image of more rural areas of Texas. The effects, oh my God, what a gloriously gross showcase throughout done with practical magic and enough fake blood to slake any gorehounds appetite. The cast is really good, with I think the best material going to the old folks they shack up with and they are proper great in this when they start offing people. Hell I think the best scene in the whole friggin' movie is actually after the first murder, it's horrifying, it's beautiful, it felt like a gorgeous piece of cinema that I was happy to watch and admire. This is a movie that does some out there wild stuff and I adore it endlessly. It has little sprinkles of artistic and even the above mentioned avant garde scene, so it's properly directed here and knows what it is but still does things it's own way and beautifully so. I was really appreciating the dialogue at points and character moments, sort of tackling the stigmas and mindset of being an actor in a pornographic film and it handles it really well just stating they are just people, who are young and have a good time doing what they do without taking it super seriously. But I do absolutely feel the best writing stuff goes to the homeowners, the fact they're bastards all along and didn't just snap overnight, the time they spend elaborating on their past and what they were like, how they still have that passion in their hearts for each other, until the ball dropped that they were killers I really did think they were just slightly misunderstood and even thought one of the film crew would have been the killer. Now there's a twist I want to see happen! The soundtrack is glorious, with a fair bit of hey hey classic 70s lovemaking music and some staples of late 70s rock. Needless to say I need to get my hands on this soundtrack, for multiple practical reasons. I did feel like a touch of a perv when I was the only one who laughed at the Debbie Does Dallas reference, but I have fine taste what can I say? And okay bear with me, don't switch off, I'm not...I'm just saying for 1979, there should have been a lot more bush down there. Just saying. And on that bombshell it is time to end. Go see it. It is great! It's one part Boogie Nights, one part Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with a tiny sprinkle of cinematic art thrown in. 4 stars, 9/10! And another anniversary is almost upon us so I figured to look at a lesser regarded kaiju series to celebrate.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022


Oh man, I got took back way more than I thought.

It could have been so easy to just make a movie set in the mid 1990s and just stuff it to the brim with pop culture references with little substance, but for the as far to my knowledge first and only film directed by Jonah Hill, Mid90s is a great movie. Taking a super simple idea of a young boy named Stevie who joins a group of older skateboarding kids and makes some good friends, and without cynicism or optimism just shows that evolution. It does not sugarcoat anything, it cuts the bullshit, and is just on the level with everything. Cause I mean teenagers will be teenagers, and teens in the mid 90s weren't that much different besides some more "colorful" terminology but hey man it was the decade. We see it, acknowledge it, and have moved on to be better. But I genuinely respect and admire the fact the movie does show both the more hard edged and rough stuff while still having a mostly happy tone. You see these kids drink and smoke, break the law, cuss like sailors, they have some anger issues. However they do take the time to explain why each of the kids are in this circle of friends and they act like stupid teenagers but you can tell they are truly friends and care about each other. Speaking even as a kid born in 1995 just a year before this movie is set, I was heavily surprised how much I saw in this movie that did mirror my own life. Not just the video games, or the skateboarding culture and yeah everyone had to try it once and I sucked back then and I suck harder now, but yeah I hung out with kids older than me who were my cousins. I had friends who were skate or die kids, I did have anger issues, I did catch the attention of some ladies, I did have a very rough and tumble relationship with my cousins, you better damn well believe my friends were considered troublemakers and "bad" kids though they were just kids. It spoke to me on a lot of levels and I attribute it to this great cast. Sunny Suljic is awesome in this, able to roll with the hits sometimes quite literally but still be a down to earth nice kid who just gets into the skating culture and makes some memories out of it. I especially loved though Na-Kel Smith who easily has the best scene out of the entire movie, just sitting with Stevie and explains the situations of the guys he hangs out with bluntly but not harshly. He's a truly great friend that wants to aspire to be more and skateboard for a living, just a stand up cool guy to the end. I admire the hell out of Ryder McLaughlin's character though, because he plays a character who more observes the stunts than performs them and literally films them just having fun, that definitely sounded more like me spectating other people do the flips and tricks and was more the quiet one of the bunch. Fairly bold of the movie though I must say to shoot on 16mm film, not digital cameras simply made to look like 16mm but do it legit. Cause while the movie looks good it has that particular saturation and occasional film grain that you could almost pass off as home movie quality, fish eye lens and all, it's a small touch but one I feel pays off. And it is really funny, yeah it's a drama first but I got a kick out of seeing these boys shoot the shit and just pal around. But when the movie pumps the brakes and hits you with serious stuff, whether it's more subtle like the conversation they have with a guy living on the street, or the talks about the rough situations each of these guys have, or even the big heavy climax, it feels well earned and again doesn't pull any punches. I was very impressed and had a real good time seeing this movie, appreciating it a fair bit too so I do absolutely highly recommend it. 4 stars, 9/10, and tomorrow we wrap up our short A24 trek for now at least with X.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Under The Skin

Holy balls.

I'm stumped for words. What the f***?? I mean I loved it, I was there for it, I was invested from the first second, I don't really know what any of it meant...but I'm okay with that. So, I'm gonna attempt and attempt is the key word here to describe exactly what I just witnessed. Alright so the movie stars Scarlett Johansson (Huzzah!) as this woman who for unknown reasons prowls the streets looking for men to lure, and essentially basically kill. It kinda sorta shifts and evolves for lack of a better term as the movie progresses but I'm not saying a damn thing more. Now first up, this is so not a movie for everyone. Not by a long shot. It is weird, it is bordering on an experimental student film with loooong stretches without dialogue, fairly long takes, interesting but slightly off camera angles, gorgeous with a capital G scenery, and visuals that simply are unforgettable. This is a movie all about the visuals and the experience, dialogue is used so sparingly and you really are thrown into the deep end and you just gotta roll with it. Now for me that works, I was endlessly fascinated and throwing out ideas to exactly what in the flip flapping hell was going on. And I don't wanna hear a word about, oh Scarlett Johansson is fully nude in this movie no wonder you praise the gorgeousness of the film, you should be ashamed of yourself you f***ing pervert. I have said this before and I will damn well say it again every time, I genuinely do appreciate actors getting nekkid because that is no easy thing to do, you have to be utterly comfortable in your skin, you have to be so brave to shoot nude scenes for anything, they have my respect for that both men and women. I was too busy shitting my weight in bricks regardless, I never ever thought I would be terrified of Scarlett Johansson in my entire life but sweet Jesus. She can do anything. Really, she can do any part and I will be there to see it. Young, stuck, intellectual Charlotte from Lost In Translation. Capable, asskicking, assassin/spy Black Widow in your Marvel's. Goddamn terrifying, unearthly, mysterious woman in Under The Skin. Wow. It's been awhile since a movie has flat out given me the heebie-jeebies, freaked me out, horrified me, and yet I wanted to see it all the way to the end and was completely and utterly invested. The overall cinematography is stunning, and needless to say the location shooting in Scotland is divine, it just looks so damn good. A24 is a mental studio capable of producing any film imaginable, a studio that is truly genreless and specializes in weird, offbeat, interesting, and slightly avant garde cinema almost built exclusively for film critics and people who love arty movies. And apparently it's based on a book, and you can bet your bollocks I am reading that soon. So what's the rating? Haven't a clue. I loved it, I was going a wee bit off the wall watching it, but I loved it so. I'm flabbergasted. Definite 4 star movie, I don't know if I can give it a 10/10, it's just such an anomaly. I'll give it a 9.5/10, and leave it at that. But boooooy howdy, you are going to be in for a trip if you watch this, and we'll be back tomorrow with a (hopefully) less odd film from A24 involving a certain decade.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Turning Red

A fair bit to unpack here.

I am still severely upset that this did not get a theatrical release, however I needed to get Disney+ for reasons that will remain hidden for a little while. So how actually was the film? Very good, I appreciated so much in it and how it told the story. I think this is the first Pixar maybe even Disney film set in Canada, Toronto to be precise as we meet Mei a 13 year old girl that finds out her ancestors gained a mystical ability to transform into red pandas, and it's a bit of a ticking clock before she stays a red panda forever while juggling life, friends, and her family. The first thing I need to get out of the way is dang near every brief headlining review of this movie hammers the point of, oh Pixar is tackling a metaphor about women's menstrual cycles, and I have never ever felt the mainstream critic press has missed the point so fundamentally entirely more if they tried. Granted they talk about it, it's more for the purposes of comedy than a real...not necessarily a dilemma but a hurdle to say the least that women go through, and even then it's only in the first maybe quarter of the film. No. This is a film digging it's heels so throroughly into the concept of self-identity, it's a true coming of age story told by the use of mysticism and giant red pandas. Mei transforms through extreme emotional responses and that is a monumental problem when you're a teenager, changes start happening both physically and mentally and she starts finding her own place specifically within her own family. She has a very overbearing mother, she does strive to reach perfection, and the changes that occur force her to make a stand. I mean at the end of the day, your mom and your dad are always gonna be your parents and you are always gonna be their child, but as you grow up that playing field shifts so much and it starts when the puberty hits. This is a film that shows a finding of one's identity, that conflicts with your parents are not always a bad thing and sometimes a necessary thing that has to happen, and all of it is told relatively straightforward. Sure near the end it becomes a "I'll never be like you!" climax, but it doesn't pull any punches and I feel can be a genuinely thoughtful and relatable film for young people growing up. The animation is stylized, it even kinda dips it's foots in the anime vibes closer to the end, but the designs and colors and movement are spot on. Mei is an adorkable sweetie and her friends are awesome to the absolute point where I'm not sure I could honestly pick a favorite. Abby is my first go to pick, short, mental, overdramatic, gosh dang precious, 10/10. However, Priya with her deadpan delivery and heavily Raven inspired personality I feel might be the most underrated of the group. And Miriam is just friends to the end material, confiding in Mei and reassuring her that she's doing okay and is alright, that's some god tier level friendship there. I feel the time period was a bit arbitrary, it takes place in 2002 but nothing really screams 2002 except the Tomagotchi and the friggin' boy band which albeit got a pretty hard laugh out of me seeing girls just lose their shit over these pretty boy singers, I was there in the times of N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys man, and arguably not much has changed with the K-Pop groups out there. Oh and I really really dig the chinese cultural bits we see with the food, the temple, the straight up friggin' Mulan inspired flashback, and the unbelievably f***ing beautiful bamboo forest where Mei meets her ancestor who first gained the power of the panda. That is some great stuff, and any excuse to put James Hong in a movie will get nothing but love from me. The comedy while not constant, when it hit it hit hard and I was having a damn good laugh, it shows very good examples of comedic editing so well done on that. I wouldn't say it's one of Pixar's strongest films but a cute, fun, well told story that has a meaning and a message without screwing it royally is hard not to enjoy. 4 stars, 8/10, I leave the decision however of how you see it up to you but just have some fun watching it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022


Again, the hell are people doing not talking about this more?

I'm serious man like Coco is a great film, I rate it higher than Brave and I really really liked Brave! It shares some similar elements of films I've seen before like Corpse Bride and even Pixar's more recent movie Soul but it doesn't detract from the story, characters, animation, emotion, and entertainment this movie brings. I cannot talk about this plot too much because it really and truly not only hit me with a twist I had no idea was going to happen but it kinda is one of those movies that is incredibly hard to summarize. Every moment that takes our young protagonist Miguel on a journey to the land of the dead, leads into another pivotal moment in the plot. Obviously there's more to it than just a young boy that gets transported to the afterlife and has to get back in time, but just seriously take my word for it when I say it is a very good story that effortlessly and effectively plays your heartstrings like a harp and is some of Pixar's most recent best work. I think it genuinely belongs up there with old school Pixar movies like Toy Story and A Bug's Life, and new Pixar classics like The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. The animation is stellar, with terrific character designs, a color pallete that already was bright and vibrant but when you reach the afterlife it is kaleidoscopic in it's beauty. I love the total Grim Fandango design vibes the characters have in the land of the dead, and it must be commended how much pieces of mexican culture they put into this movie. I mean obviously with me being a person that hails from Texas, we're good neighbors with that country in more than just geography. I'm not even novice level in speaking spanish or even understanding it but I was getting lots of little bits of the dialogue, and I actually kind of commend the movie for not giving subtitles and it would be a trip to watch this whole movie in espanol. I really have so much praise to give this movie in many many facets than just blanket terms of animation, and story, and so on but I don't dare give anything away. There was only one part of the movie I took slight issue with and I'm not usually super personal here on the site but the family drama and severe mean spirited at times behavior of Miguel's family both living and dead brought back some not too great memories of my own. I wish I could say I was a better person and didn't pick sides and just say family is family, that forgiving someone shouldn't be an impossible thing to do. Compassion is not weakness, anger is not a solution, families are never perfect. But I chose my side, and while I do not hate them I can't fully forgive them. That's hard man, and the fact that an animated movie, a movie for young kids, can make me feel that way is...really something. The movie's theme essentially is memory, Dia de Muertos is a holiday to honor and remember family that is no longer around like they used to be, Miguel's great grandma has memory problems and it becomes a giant part of the finale, the fact that technically you can die and go even further beyond in the afterlife when no one remembers your name or who you are, but it does show comfort in the world after death and to cherish the memories of your family. And yet again very much like Brave, I feel it's a movie that's being forgotten. I don't hear that much talk about it since it came out just 5 years ago, and I find that just unforgivable bordering on criminal. It's almost kinda Soul before Soul, and while unabashedly different still has a meaningful message and similar ideas. I almost can't believe how strong the movie is, it's been a hot minute since we've had a week this good on this show and I can't guess what Turning Red will have for us but I'm looking forward to the future. 4 stars, 9/10.

Monday, March 7, 2022


Like man I am surprised I have not heard that much about Brave.

I vaguely remember seeing a teaser trailer of it back when but after that no one talked about it hardly, which I find inexcusable. Brave is a mighty good film, much better than I anticipated. It's a surprisingly simple but potent story where a young princess named Merida is at odds with her mom Queen Elinor about her getting an arranged marriage, Elinor feels it's keeping with tradition and to do it for the sake of the kingdom whereas Merida wants no part of it at all to the point where she meets a witch and asks if she can change her mom. Ask and you shall recieve and in a slightly worrying retread of Brother Bear the mom is transformed into a black bear, forcing Merida to figure out a way for her mom to change back while settling their differences. Now, on one hand I can see people hate this story going on about, oh Merida is just having some first world problems it's just marriage get over it and stop being so whiny, while other people including me focus more on the relationship between daughter and mother and side with Merida about choosing her own life. Cause both of them do things they regret before Elinor even becomes a bear, and it is a strong good story to see them reconnect and become better people with a better understanding of one another by the end. I got a lot out of it and Merida I think hands down is my favorite Disney princess. I mean you know me and red haired girls, and scottish women are on a whole other level entirely and damn them for being so amazing. The scenery was outstanding, I mean the scottish landscapes and forests looked so beautiful, not to mention the animation period was on top form as always from Pixar. I don't think many people would appreciate this as much as I did but I am so thankful and happy that the majority of the cast hails from the U.K., we actually get scottish actors to play scottish characters. Will wonders never cease? Kelly Macdonald was pitch perfect for Merida, bringing youth and energy to a untamed and adventurous spirit. Billy Connolly, king in the movie and king in my heart the man is a treasure. I have spoken. Emma Thompson, oh big shock does good work and while being that overcontrolling mom doesn't reach the point where you hate her, I dare even say in fact there's not a single character to hate intentionally or unintentionally throughout the film. We do however have to talk about Maudie for a minute. What the hell was that? Movie! I have not seen a more robust in the busty sense of the word, woman in an animated film since Anastasia. The bounce worried me, and the movie had the sheer force of will to give a shameless money shot, full extreme close up of cleavage and I'm just like, you're some right proper dirty bastards over at Pixar! What the flaming ostriches was that about?? Okay, rant over. It's a movie that deserves more credit than it's getting nowadays and I almost feel is becoming a Pixar movie that's being forgotten about which is a real shame. I personally give it 4 stars, 8.5/10, this is a dang good movie that I know can speak volumes for either younger girls or just anybody in general. Go check it out man, it is worth it.

Friday, March 4, 2022

The Batman

Yes, it did justice to a new Batman and a new film.

So now comes the part where I applaud this movie as the one who tops them all, the best Batman movie since The Dark Knight, a perfect 10/10. No, but I'd be hardpressed to find people who flat out didn't like it. I personally found it to be a damn fine movie and felt certain aspects were done amazingly well while others were just done good. So it's year 3 for the nightly roaming vengeance on Gotham's streets and very quickly his attention shifts from street thugs to a serial killer with a MO of riddles and death traps, nothing too much beyond what you see in the trailers plot wise. However I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, the very realistic but still grand scale fit just right and nothing went beyond what they could feasibly do. Robert Pattinson is on the more down low potrayals of Batman, not saying very much but still able to get through a lot and he embodies the role very very well. Zoe Kravitz I genuinely thought could be at least in terms of live action the best Catwoman we've had, and while the relationship/partnership dynamic was done fine I think she's on the same level with Michelle Pfeiffer. Paul Dano, sweet Jesus man, I think he creeped me out more when he wasn't wearing the mask and it does fully deliver on that zodiac killer influence, I thought he was great. Jeffrey Wright was as good as I thought he would be and I greatly appreciate that you see him investigate stuff with Batman often. Speaking of which, I loved the detective work even though it's not super involved the direction and pieces of the puzzle are really effective, you see the gears turning behind the analytical eyes of Batman, and it's almost police procedure detective work too in just observing the crime scene and figuring it out. I do feel however the vibe of a losse cannon, reckless, pure physical power Batman was not quite the case. He has some anger, he does go out for vengeance, he is pretty straightforward in his tactics, but he is tempered and doesn't go too out there which makes sense because it is his 3rd year of crimefighting, he knows his way a bit around the block. The cinematography and art direction are excellent, giving us a lot of different shots that wouldn't even be found in one of the animated movies, and the style of costumes and sets both fit the modern grit and classic gothic looks. The music score is proper good and I know I have to listen to the full soundtrack once I'm home. It is a solid movie, it is a real good movie, but I feel it will grow on me as time passes and I see it more. The first time I saw The Dark Knight Rises in theaters I liked it but I felt a bit underwhelmed, partially because I just didn't want it to end and partially because it came off the heels of The Dark Knight. However, as years went by I appreciated it a lot more for what it is and I went from liking it to loving it. I did feel somewhat the same walking out of the theater today, so you may notice in about a week's time a Second Viewing reassesment. But for now, a solid 4 stars, 8.5/10!

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Batman The Animated Series: Season 4

You cannot ever change my mind that this isn't a part of the Animated Series.

Officially titled The New Batman Adventures, this series started about 2 years after the Animated Series wrapped up and despite the same voice cast and character relationships is a heavy departure in animation style. Dubbed "the red sky season" by fans, the character designs, backgrounds, and overall animation got a major new facelift essentially making the lines sharper and the colors more on the colder darker side. Now on one hand I can see why people might be against certain characters that got redesigned, but I don't actually take issue with any except one (but not the one you might think). But it baffles me how people say this isn't a part of the Animated Series based on animation style alone, that's like someone saying Star Wars Rebels has nothing to do with The Clone Wars because it looks different. Sod that and sod off, this is the last season of the show. Only totalling in 24 episodes, it's a mighty quick season to knock out to the point where you could feasibly do it in a day. So what stood out most? We start off in a fun multi-story of Gotham Knights, and right off the bat (no pun intended I swear) you can tell the tone in this is more lighter than the other 3 seasons. It's difficult to explain but easy to notice as we see Ivy and Harley go on a shopping spree, Babs takes on Clayface, and the Joker and Batman have a new year's eve brawl which reminds me of The Long Halloween sorta. And you may notice this like I did but I almost feel like one of the animators had a massive black lipstick fetish because seriously, every woman in this show seems to wear black lipstick or dang near close to black. It's very odd and I have no idea why, but I like that Harley kept her design despite a slightly bluer face and Red actually looks more plant like which I dig the hell out of. Next up is Sins Of The Father working as a origin for technically the third Robin Tim Drake, but no love for Jason in this show, as we see young Tim as a thief on the streets that gets tangled up in a Two-Face caper and becomes the new Boy Wonder. It's good to see a young Robin with a lot of attitude and it works quite well for the show. I will not tarnish the young actor Mathew Valencia, he does admirable work but I did notice a fair few times where the line delivery was very flat, but not in a sarcastic smartass way like we see often, yet no harm no foul. Harvey I think looks the slickest of all the redesigned rogues gallery, and that suit is still pure Kino. Next episode Cold Comfort. Alright. I f***ing hate how they handled Mister Freeze in this season, which is odd because the episode set farther in the future with him in Batman Beyond I felt was a pretty good send off for the character which was after this episode was made. So Freeze after his wife has been revived and cured is going after people's passion projects for no other reason than for people to feel his pain which already is so unlike Victor and the fact that....Jesus Christ. His body has deteriorated away due to his condition and he is now a head in a robot suit. Yet they somehow crafted him one in Batman Beyond, go figure. His story should have ended in Subzero, that is all I am saying on the matter. But then! Ohhhh yes! My boy is back, Dr. Crane and holy jumping lemurs is this the version I wish we had so so much more of. Listen to the creators talk about the redesign, even they felt they went too far and too scary with this character. So unfortunately we lose Henry Polic but in his stead is Herbert West himself, Jeffrey Combs and guess what? That voice is nightmare fuel in it's most glorious state. Just this eerily quiet, calm, haunting voice coming out of what looks like a walking corpse in a old west duster and hat, just 10 out of f***ing 10!! Why in the depths of hell was he not used more? Now I treasure Henry Polic, John Noble is mind shatteringly amazing in Arkham Knight, Robert Englund is the epitome of fan casting brilliance in Injustice, but this is the one I feel we need back. Great episode material too with Crane actually taking people's fears away and ransoming the antidote, while actually eliminating Batman's fear of even killing people. Damn, this was a home run. Then we get some Nightwing action in You Scratch My Back, where he forms a fragile alliance with Selina, who I think the redesign is more minimalistic but still works, and the constant power shift between master cat burglar and solo mullet crusader is pretty great honestly. Joker's Millions could easily be an episode of The Twilight Zone with some little rewrites and I never thought I would see the Joker living in poverty, well besides in Joaquin's movie of course. Growing Pains, wow. This episode kinda cut me as a kid, with Robin finding a young lost girl who has more to her past than she remembers. This is a fairly emotional story, with a heartbreaking ending that I must applaud as an adult that they went that far with the story. Mean Seasons while a good episode I think is elevated by the commentary within, a former model has taken on the monicrum of Calendar Girl and pulls a Baby Doll kidnapping her old bosses for booting her out for turning 30. Like man, I am dead serious this bullshit system where older women who aren't even close to being old can't find work in some shade of entertainment or modelling industry can get off my goddamn planet, it is insane how unbelievably relevant this still is today and you can also kinda read it as how people with low self-esteem or even depression can only see faults in themselves despite there being plenty to like and admire about them. It's very good solid writing that makes me recommend this as a must watch episode. The Demon Within brings back a ton of magic in this series, and I just love the comraderie and unspoken past encounters and friendship Bruce has with Jason Blood, better known as the demon Etrigan, which comes up later on in the Justice League series. Good stuff. Then the bomb drops, Over The Edge. I am not saying a friggin' word, just imagine the most worst possible Elseworlds situation about the Batfamily and watch it. Solid gold. Love Is A Croc, really only struck me by just the sheer fascinating idea of what if Baby Doll and Killer Croc did heists together? I am so bewildered this pairing even exists let alone how and why someone thought it up. I will however state I love Baby Doll's voice actor, and we were on the verge of a truly niche relationship in this episode. Just watch it and try not to think anything nauuuughtyyyyy. The Ultimate Thrill was a lot of fun, entirely on the basis of Roxy Rocket who I might be admiring a bit too much, she's a total adrenaline junkie and does some wild ass stunts just to rob people but there's something about her I just like. God dang redheads man, I cannot help myself! Then we jump ahead a bit to Old Wounds, which for very briefly albeit had my money as the best episode of the show. Just the fact that we finally see the seed which was planted back in 1992 with Dick being in college, grow to where we see him call it quits with Bruce and becomes his own agent was wonderful to see and even if you are a major Batman fan and knew Dick would become something more it pays off very well I think. But then comes the crown jewel of the season, Legends Of The Dark Knight. It is so simple but such a loving and wonderful tribute to the iterations of the World's Greatest Detective, where three kids discuss what Batman actually is like. We get a terrific 1950s tribute with a silly Joker, an out there caper, the Dynamic Duo just one stop short of Adam West and Burt Ward revisiting the characters, and it is presented in all it's silver age glory even to the point I myself shouted great scott! Then we flip to the other side of the board where The Dark Knight Returns is presented and while still keeping it's feet firmly in the animation style of the show did such a faithful job getting so many touches of that story, abridging the fight with the mutant leader and giving some fair recognition to Carrie Kelley. I will not however stand for that snub shot to Joel Schumacher, yes I'm in a minority here but the man introduced me to the Batman and made me the fan I am today from Batman Forever alone, I have a lot to owe him. Best episode of the season, probably even top 10 of the whole show. Girl's Night Out at first I thought was going to be another Harley and Ivy romp but turns out all the female costume crowd came out to play, we get Livewire from the Superman Animated Series which I will admit I haven't seen much of but I love her voice and personality a great deal, our favorite girl team is still living together, and both Batgirl and Supergirl team up and even find some solace in each other's opposite lives. This is easily an episode just for the fun match ups and thusly is one of the most fun episodes of the entire show. Beware The Creeper honest to God, the only things I have to say about this episode is that Harley scene, holy moly. And the character of the Creeper practically shouted Freakazoid to me from the word go, I almost was flat out expecting the same voice actor to do both parts. Other than that, pretty crazy but pretty funny. Now we come to a similar problem that the last season had, the last ever episode broadcasted for this show was Mad Love finally laying Harley's backstory bare and seeing her near fatal death which is a positively shocking way to go out. Yet the last episode on my DVD's is Judgement Day, which truthfully is almost if not more shocking and weird to end on as a new face arrives in Gotham and passes sentence on various rogues gallery inductees, and had an almost Psycho-esque ending the more I think about it. The show ends on a fairly creepy note and then that's it. It's all over. So it is an unfortunate circumstance that there really was no definitive ending, but I don't think that was fully a thing for animated shows back then and really, knowing full and well that more shows came out which only built upon the backbone of The Animated Series makes that criticism a moot point, it keeps continuing in some form or another. Batman Beyond, Justice League, the Superman Animated Series, even Static Shock kept this animated DC legacy going. True there are other timelines, universes, whatever you want to call them but this is the one all of them have to thank for even being around. Batman The Animated Series did a tremendous lot for the comics, for the shows, for the games, for an entire generation and then some to this day. Not every episode is a 10/10, not every season has nothing but great things to talk about, it's the overall experience that makes it so good. It's seeing these animators, these creators, these voice actors commit to bringing you Batman and making it accesible and fun for everyone to watch. It's a classic still talked about for a reason, and I just like talking about it. 4 stars, 9/10 for the season but a full 10/10 for the show as a whole, and my lord there is still so much to talk about with the other shows for another day. It can be cruel, poetic, or blind but when denied it's violence you may find in my reviewing mind for The Batman. Will justice be served for all fans?

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Batman The Animated Series: Season 3

The end of an era and technically the end of The Animated Series.

This is where the game changes a bit. Time for backstory! Originally Batman The Animated Series was 65 episodes, but Fox ordered twenty more episodes once they saw what a powerhouse show it was, so the show was only two seasons, and even technically the name was changed from Batman The Animated Series to The New Adventures Of Batman & Robin. But as I said I'm reviewing the show based off the volumed releases on DVD which not only splits it into 4 (we'll talk about that next time) seasons but it also plays the episodes in a different order from when they were broadcasted. I actually prefer it the way the DVD's present it which I will elaborate on when we get to the end. I feel though the animation style hasn't changed it's found it's sure footing and still looks really good, you can see subtle improvements throughout the show as you progress. Again, not really delving into productions aspects but discussing the best episodes that stuck out to me. We start off very very strong with the two parter Shadow Of The Bat that introduced Batgirl into the show and has a proper good story as to why she takes up her own secret identity. Another two parter that very much had me hooked is The Demon's Quest where we finally come face to face with Ra's al Ghul played splendidly by David Warner who has such a terrific voice and carries himself flawlessly as Ra's, as he enlists the help of Batman to find both Robin and Talia. You can tell they really did base the Arkham series first and foremost on this show and not just because of the voice cast, they introduce Ra's who is over 600 years old and the lazarus pits and the romance between Bruce and Talia. It's a great episode and hey I'm sure a shirtless Batman dueling with swords was a very eye opening (in more ways than one) experience for a lot of young folks out there. A Bullet For Bullock might be the best underrated gem of this season, not only did it nab the show another Emmy but it finally gives us some one on one time with Harvey, and I love how the show crafted his gruff demeanor and distaste of Batman without making him a completely unlikable jackass, you get so many character moments of him throughout the show but this episode really had a lot to appreciate from me. Right after that comes another big fan favorite episode Trial, where the new DA of Gotham is kidnapped along with the Caped Crusader and is forced to defend him in a kangaroo court of Arkham's finest, with the slight issue of the fact that our DA well she's not a big fan of bats by any stretch either. This is a terrific episode that brings up the question of does Batman really create the supervillains he fights, without being very pretentious in terms of writing and has fun with the idea of a madcap not even barely legal court trial with the Joker as judge, it's a wonderful time with our beloved maniacs. You know what I realized? We get more solo Ra's al Ghul stories in this season than we get solo Joker stories, a trilogy of the demon's head with The Demon's Quest, Avatar which I think is the first episode in this series that unequivocally introduces elements of the supernatural, and Showdown which is kind of a weird off story with Jonah Hex encountering Ra's in the late 1800s, still a good and actiony story in my opinion though it does make me wonder why they decided to introduce Jonah in the first place. Lord knows if I got David Warner on my project I would use him as much as possible too, but it's interesting to see how he stacks up in terms of episodes. I guess you could argue the same could be kinda said in the Dark Knight trilogy but I digress. Harlequinade is a bonkers story pretty much from the word go, somehow....I will never know how, some dipshit gangster gets his hands on an atomic with a capital A-Bomb which is then stolen by the Joker forcing Bats to enlist the help of Harley so Gotham isn't turned into the opening titles of Terminator 2. Granted I like the story and it is unashamedly comic book, which if there is anything I have learned in my entire life is, our lot loves the lavishly ludicrous. Comic books are weird and I wouldn't have them any other way. Top performances from Mark Hamill and Arleen Sorkin, who made me laugh to beat the band. Then we get an episode I don't surprisingly hear that much about with Bane, and I don't know why. This is proper intelligent, cunning, mercenary Bane hired to kill the Bat, and granted up front I haven't read Knightfall it is on my list, but this really really seems like Knightfall Bane in animated form. They get so much character info on him in 22 minutes that would please any hardcore Batman fan, his life sentence in prison, Project Gilgamesh, Bane's obsession with the Bat, his tactical thinking, Venom, he even almost does the back breaker move, and remember Bane wasn't even in the comics yet for 5 years. He was introduced in 1993, so it's impressive how much of an impact he made while the show was still being made to the point where they had to include him. And the hits keep coming with a surprisingly dark, psychological, and kinda depressing ending with Baby Doll where a television star who was born with a rare disease that stops her from aging kidnaps all her co-stars to essentially live the glory days of her career. It's like if you took Misery, Sunset Boulevard, and Orphan, mixed them all together and presented it as an episode of a children's animated show. I mean obviously it doesn't dig super deep in her psychosis or does anything graphic but you can read everything into it and it really is compelling and powerful storytelling. I genuinely get misty eyed at the end in the house of mirrors, it's just such an emotional climax and a f***ing downer to boot. I love it. Then we kinda get into a last hurrah, a victory circuit for some of the rogue's gallery as we reach the end which is probably why they did it in the first place. Riddler's Reform might honestly be my favorite of his episodes, where the Riddler goes straight but not yet he ain't as he is forcefully compelled to give clues and hints to his overall scheme with Batman giving him one puzzle he can't solve. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this episode over his other appearances, and I can't even really narrow it down as to why this is my favorite. I think because the riddles and puzzles are more subtle, and it weaves such an interesting story cause you almost believe Nygma is being legitimate but Batman is fully right when he says he can't stop and always will leave a clue behind. It just further compliments why the Riddler is one of my all time favorites. And right after that we get Second Chance which I almost feel is based off a Two-Face comic, where Harvey is about to have reconstructive surgery but is kidnapped during the operation and Batman takes the case very personally and close to the chest to find Harvey. I cannot fully express how much I love the relationship between Bruce and Harvey in this series, because Harvey is still Bruce's best friend even after what happened to him and Bruce never gives up on his friend and helps him pay for the surgery. I mean you can feel that bond, that care and respect between these two men which only bolsters the tragedy of Harvey Dent, it's some of the show's absolute best writing in my opinion. But we get a light and fun episode with Harley's Holiday where Harley is released from Arkham and through the smallest of misunderstandings kidnaps a young socialite, and then is proceeded to be chased by the Batmobile, the cops, and the socialite's father in a friggin' tank, yes I'm serious. It almost goes for a Smokey And The Bandit vibe with the car chase shenanigans which I greatly appreciate but this is an episode steeped in madness meant for nothing but unadulterated enjoyment which I feel it succeeds at. And then, we finally get the return of Mr. Freeze in Deep Freeze, an episode that while edging towards comic book outlandishness has some of the best animation cells in the show's history and still has the heart and emotion that made Heart Of Ice so damn good and a return of Victor Fries must be applauded, and for those who want the end to his story go read my Subzero review and watch it because it is a great movie and a terrific send off for his character. And now comes the last episode of the season but not the true last episode of The Animated Series, like I said the episodes are not watched in order of broadcast and this is where I get to talk about it. The real last episode of Batman The Animated Series debuted September 15th 1995 entitled The Lion And The Unicorn, a decent episode where Alfred is kidnapped by terrorist Red Claw and some light is shed on Alfred's service in the British Secret Service, and that was how the whole show ended. But the last episode on the last disc of volume 3 is Batgirl Returns, where Babs teams up with Catwoman to find a jewel thief while Robin is on their heels and Bruce isn't even in Gotham leaving the sidekicks to keep track of Selina and her possible double cross and the culprits who stole a jade statue. I think this is actually a terrific and much more appropriate end to the series, it almost reminds me of the Birds Of Prey show with a very similar ending, the sidekicks are looking after the city while Batman is gone and that there will always be another time when crimefighter and wrong doer will cross paths again. I think the dynamic between Barbara and Selina is a strong one and shows a capable but still young Batgirl in her crimefighting career, though I personally do not ship Bruce and Babs on any level as I've gotten older. Regardless, in my opinion the true final episode and a mighty good one to go out on if you ask me. Yet it's not really the end, years went by and a new Batman series came out that follows so closely in the footsteps of this show that I see zero reason why it can't also hold the title of Batman The Animated Series. 4 stars, 10/10, and one more season to cap it off.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Batman The Animated Series: Season 2

It's tricky to review this show cause technically the first season is 65 episodes and only technically had two season so just bear with me.

So obviously there isn't much that has "improved" since the last season since these episodes were made in close proximity to the ones previously reviewed, and the cast reamins the same. So at least for right now this is more of a discussion of episodes that I took great interest in and had things I really wanted to talk about. Perchance To Dream, which is Kevin Conroy's favorite episode of them all is the second episode of this season, and has a premise that works brilliantly. Bruce Wayne wakes up one day to find his parents alive, he's engaged to Selina, and someone else has taken up the mantle of the Batman but he still knows he's Batman, so it becomes this psychological dive into Bruce's mind and his perfect world that he wants no part of. Obviously if this was the basis for a graphic novel they could super easily make it a dark, twisted, psychoanalytical story about Bruce and why he feels compelled to put on the cape and cowl, and that's a book I would gladly read. Robin's Reckoning was a powerhouse two parter for me, finally we get Dick's backstory and origin as Robin as he confronts the man who took his parents life. Honestly, with a few rewrites this could be the episode where he becomes Nightwing, he really clashes with Bruce and his emotions get the better of him. A true classic for a character we haven't spent much time with. The Laughing Fish is another iconic fan favorite, more Joker and Harley action that digs just a tiny bit into Harley's undying affection for him, it's a damn good episode. The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne introduces Dr. Hugo Strange (I prefer Professor Strange so we don't mux up our Doctor Strange's.) who through a psychological machine discovers the true identity of Bruce Wayne (Just like Batman Forever!), and places his secret to the highest bidder where Joker, Two-Face, and Penguin bid for it. It's always fun seeing those colorful personalities clash and it's great to have another rogue introduced to the animated series. If You're So Smart Why Aren't You Rich finally gives us The Riddler in a unique potrayal of the character who designed a puzzle video game but seeks vengeance on the boss who fired him, it sort of gives a mix of Frank Gorshin's Riddler with a dash of Jim Carrey's and ultimately this classic iteration voiced by John Glover. Then we get a giant consecutive 4 home run episodes starting off with the pinnacle of fan favorite episode's Almost Got 'Im. People worship this episode, I've rarely seen someone counting down their favorite episodes and it not be #1, and I can attribute that to two points. One, these characters and their interactions is the source of the enjoyment as Joker, Harvey, Penguin, Ivy, and Croc play poker and trade stories about how they almost killed the Bat. Two, you get a lot of stories in one episode, some major bang for your buck. The writing is flawless and it does deserve the love but my personal favorite and wildest is yet to come! Birds Of A Feather comes up next with the Penguin intending on going straight and actually falls for a young socialite, but is the subject of a cruel joke forcing him to be a villain once more. Great story, easily manipulates your emotions in Penguin's favor, and shows a side of the rogue's gallery we don't get to see much. What Is Reality, a mental and expertly animated episode where Riddler crafts a virtual reality headset 25 years before Oculus or Playstation, and traps Comissioner Gordon inside leading Batman and Robin to venture into a world where the Riddler controls all. A bevy of almost trivial knowledge, and ends pretty friggin' dark I gotta say! Speaking of dark. I Am The Night. God. Damn. This is the best episode of the season for me, solely because we see Batman in an emotionally, mentally dark place and after the severe injury of Jim goes into a full on depression. Kevin Conroy if people ever had doubts in their mind about him being the best after this episode are well and truly dead. The angry howlish yells of rage, and melancholic musings of whether or not he's really doing much good absolutely floored me. You can keep your Almost Got 'Im, I will take I Am The Night. The Man Who Killed Batman harbors almost on Elseworld territory as a new and bumbling gangster seemingly albeit accidentally murders Batman, and the whole criminal underworld and more importantly the Joker has some words for him. It plainly paints the relationship between Batman and Joker effortlessly and beautifully, culminating in one of the best character eulogies I've ever heard that nearly made me cry from laughter. And we end the season once more with a bang showcasing Harley & Ivy, as Harley is booted from Joker's gang and forms her own criminal dynasty with Poison Ivy and this is where we get the 411 in all it's terrible detail on Harley's codependence and how Ivy tries to get her to be more independent. It's a real fun episode and obviously has a lot of impact on both these wonderful characters decades to come. So another incredibly strong series, with very few episodes that would be considered skippable by the uninitiated, but we are initiated aren't we? So watch them all, judge for yourself, there be gems here for sure but you'd be surprised how well handled all of them are. Another 10/10? I genuinely would say yeah, even more deserving perhaps than the first season which still knocked it out of the park unconditionally. 4 stars, 10/10, and if memory serves the game changes next time. Tune in tomorrow, same time same channel!