Friday, December 23, 2022

Andor: Season 1

Okay, holy shit we made it to the end and with one hell of a show!

I had a small thought and find it hilarious, the people who waaay back who were like why in the hell are we introducing politics into Star Wars are the same people now who actually really enjoy this series and it's more political, slow paced, and less actiony moments. Yes Andor, the one show I was not entirely here for from the announcement but in the words of my Papa I'll be dadgum, I really enjoyed this show! Set 5 years before the Battle of Yavin and ostensibly also 5 years before Rogue One, we meet up again with Cassian Andor who through a secret contact in the still forming infant Rebel Alliance is thrown into many situations and rough spots as he slowly is turned to joining the cause. That is pure bare bones story, there is quite a lot that occurs, believe it or not there isn't a whole lot of twists and turns at least not in the conventional sense. Now this is a highly important factor to bring up when trying to get people onto this show, there isn't a chase and pew-pew action every episode, it's more the exception rather than the rule. It holds a different kind of power, and I attribute that to the series writer Tony Gilroy who's bread and butter is spy thrillers, he isn't even that hardcore a Star Wars fan hence the lack of aliens and droids for the most part throughout the series. But the man knows his shit and delivers an intensely fascinating and tension building show in any situation. From essentialy the great bank heist of Aldhani, to galactic Prison Break, to everything in between it holds your attention. True the flashback sequences feel very slapdash in how they mixed it with the story, going to and fro from the past to now, but truthfully you only got to deal with it for a few episodes. If you give this show your undivided attention it delivers much in return, character wise, plot wise, and even easter egg wise. So let's go through characters, it is a big ensemble cast so we'll focus on major players seen throughout. Diego Luna I feel really gets to spread his wings in this show, even though he did mighty well in Rogue One you just get more time with him. His out for his own self attitude, his secrecy, his sometimes cold blooded persona, but underneath it all you see a great dedication to his friends and family and know when push comes to shove he will fight alongside people. Stellan Skarsgard as Luthen, you want to talk like best performances ever in Star Wars? I'm serious man, he brought award winning big gun acting chops to this show potraying what I feel to be the true originator of the Rebels at least in ethics and conviction to fight the Empire. He just gets these sections of lines, full monologues at times, and just goes for it! I seriously couldn't praise the man enough if I tried. Now, oh yes, my favorite character, Denise Gough as ISB Lieutanant Deedra Meero. Whoa. It took maybe 5 seconds for me to settle on her as my favorite, if a quarter of the Empire had her conviction, meticulous mind, and broad strokes thinking the fucking Rebellion would have been killed before it got out of it's cot. She is not in this game for ascension through the ranks, she is here to wipe out dissidents and be awesome. Now to go to my least favorite character! Far from anything I could say bad things about Kyle Soller as Syril Karn, like the performance is spot on and done well but this character....Jesus wept. Okay, I didn't hate him at first, I saw this young, idealistic, commited to his job and code of ethics man and I can respect that. It then turned out he was a actually a simpering, washed out, wannabe who has a huge vengeance hard on for Cassian and a probably more quite literal hard on for Deedra. And I just, oh my God, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. The fact they even tried to nudge this potential romance made me want to wrap my lips around a fucking T-21. No. I am telling you no, go in the corner and think about what you did! This will not stand man! Now you know my stance on rebels, they are traitors, murderers, terrorists, and thieves. They are not heroes, they are not martyrs, they are a disease. However! Genevieve O'Reilly as Mon Mothma, I can live with her. Not to sound shameless, though I am, Mon Mothma is the most beautiful woman in all of Star Wars. No horseshit Jack, better than Cara Dune, better than Rey, Rose, Padme, even our beloved Leia, it's her over everyone okay! She makes my heart glow every second she is on screen, her husband is fucking useless marry me instead, and her story segments are kinda heartbreaking at times so she just gets a 12/10 overall! Everyone else as supporting cast was just as commited and strong as our major players so props to all involved, special love to Adria Arjona as Bix, Anton Lesser as Major Partagaz, and a secret extra bonus character whose work I love immensely but some secrets are best kept. Just go watch it. Lightning round opinion time! I have to applaud Lucasfilm for just making practical sets and not working exclusively with the Volume, the props, set design, costumes, and effects are just as good as any of the films maybe even a bit more so because you get just so much of it since it is a series. The Arrestor Cruiser plucked straight out of proto-type Star Destroyer concept art, amazing, flawless, showstopping, where's my toy, I love it. I want a whole friggin' show based on the ISB, it's wonderful to finally see it on screen and an environement I want to revisit a lot. Episode 6, wow. Just wow. Breathtaking visuals!! Plus this show made TIE Fighters legit terrifying, and I am an Imperial at heart but even my teeth were set on edge hearing those screaming ion engines. Our little droid B2EMO, I'm still grappling with that absurd name yet I treasure him and his little stutter, but it does pose the question....can you be too emo? (Yes.) Soooo many easter eggs in Luthen's art gallery, those prop boys were having a real good time peppering in all kinds of items and artifacts, most of which I caught. After credits scene for the finale, sheer pornography, a happy ending if I ever saw one. Ooh my....but anywho! I swear on all I believe, that march in the last episode was without question or doubt the most suspenseful dare I say Hitchcockian scene in Star Wars history, cause it just builds and builds at a slow burn pace, akin to the series as a whole in that way, and you know something is up, some shit is about to go down when it stops but you have no idea what. That's stunning to see, never that I would say Star Wars is "formulaic", there's too much diversity in eras, characters, and stories with obvious reoccuring themes but this really breaks the mold as what people consider Star Wars could be. I'm in the camp that Star Wars can take on any genre, sub-genre, style, or situation and Andor proves it can be done. We have the technology. We have the writing. The sky is the limit as I have said before. It does truly trail blaze, it sets out on it's own story and does it's own thing, with all the shows we've gotten not that I'm saying this as a detriment but it is traditional wonderful fan pleasing Star Wars. I still say it's a toss up between Kenobi and Mando for my favorite of the shows so far, but Andor has a lot of my respect and admiration and could potentially top them all. If I said to 2016 Dude, that Andor show you have no interest in and not much hope for yeah my Dude it's actually groundbreaking and amazing, I would scarcely believe myself! But that's what happens, time marches on, opinions and viewpoints change, impermanence is life. So I'm walking away highly pleased and looking forward to season 2. 4 stars, 8.5/10, and this...hurts to say.

Okay everybody I have news. Not good news. I've been sitting on this egg of an idea for about half the year and I feel it is important and more importantly, time. Next year, after the 8th anniversary, I'm taking a step back. I'm not quitting, I'm not retiring, everything is perfectly fine in my personal life, but reviews are not going to be nearly as frequent as before. I have written over 1,000 reviews in less than a decade. Can you count to 1,000? Cause I sure did and I can't believe it even now! You think I planned all this to go as long as it did?? Heeeellllll naw! So we're just gonna do new releases, our traditional Halloween October goodness, maybe a birthday week, but that's really it until 2024. This has never felt like a job, but a passion project, I do not get paid for it and never have but I could care less! But I also couldn't tell you the last time I rewatched a movie just to rewatch it, to enjoy cinema without really having to write about it, to not worry about my constant schedule of reviews. Even when I take months off I'm still planning and writing for the future. But when The countdown began to #1000, I had to do some thinking. I love it too much to quit, but life must take precedent. But I'll be back before you know it come January and I want to say thank you very much for sticking around another year, sticking around forever, recently, somewhere in the middle, and I hope you've seen some good movies this year! Mind you, this Top 10 list...yikes, I don't have much credibility in the slightest but I might get yelled at for this. But until that time, be safe, stay warm, enjoy your holidays, and I shall return to a sunless space to share my dreams with ghosts, monsters, and ghouls, to bask in the light of a full moon I'll never see in reality, to hear the sound of falling leaves and howling winds, to traverse paths through ancient woods where there is no way of escape, to revel in the spooky and the macabre. I find that good.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Tales Of The Jedi

Season two, please and thank you.

I do actually hate how short it is, that's my only complaint. When I heard we were getting a 6 episode mini-series, I was hoping in vain that they would be like, okay guys brand new animated Star Wars show, 6 episodes, 30 to 45 minutes a piece, get in! Nope. Whole damn thing is barely more than 90 minutes with credits. But like I said it's just criminally short like with Visions, you want more because there is always more to tell. Make season two take place in The High Republic era, we got Old Republic/early Empire days with this focusing on brief stories around fallen Jedi Count Dooku and rising padawan Ahsoka Tano. What's interesting though is every episode time jumps ahead, we see little baby Ahsoka OH MY GOD I would steal that child hard f***ing core, we see a really expertly designed episode where we see her evolution from newly appointed padawan of Anakin's to competent warrior straight to the goddamn Venator crash, and then we literally pick up after series finale of Clone Wars and partially see her life after the war but before she started aiding rebel scum. But my favorite parts were the Dooku parts, I had to pick up Dooku Jedi Lost and read that as homework before this show came out and it helped a lot filling in a few more gaps, as we see how increasingly disillusioned he becomes of the Senate and his constant pushing to becoming Darth Tyranus. I would watch an entire series dedicated to a mostly still unknown Sith Lord that's been around for 20 years since Attack Of The Clones came out, there ain't much Dooku media and this could be the start of rectifying that situation. I'm not one for blue lightsabers but I'd take his! It still has that distinct Clone Wars animation style yet it looks more glossy and clean, almost like a perpetual soft focus is employed. Now I have a wee theory for that, since more than half the show takes place before the Jedi are even aware the Sith have returned, it's a period of peace and prosperity for the Republic so it has a unique style to the look of everything. There's no rough scarred detail to ships and armor, you see a lot of nature shots that are akin to paintings, even when conflict arises and lightsabers are drawn it seems more mythical like seeing knights with swords right wrongs to help people, until Dooku turns heel at least. So obviously it's a Dave Filoni show with Clone Wars animation so we get our regular voice cast back, and it's always grand to hear Ashley, and Corey, and Matt, but special love for Bryce Dallas Howard voicing Yaddle and Liam Neeson's son Michael Richardson voicing Qui-Gon Jinn, that was so rad man! Lucasfilm needs to stop giving me animation blue balls though, I mean really think about this. Clone Wars started back in 2008 and was cancelled in 2014, Rebels picked up the slack the same year, had 4 seasons and ended in 2018, two years later Clone Wars comes back has 12 episodes and ended in 2020, one year later Bad Batch comes out and actually gives us a proper season, then later in 2021 Visions comes out with 9 short ass episodes, and now one year later we're still in that same boat with Tales Of The Jedi. I know Bad Batch season 2 is coming soon so we're kinda getting back on track, and I know Lucasfilm is pushing for more TV instead of films for the moment in time, I love the live action stuff but the animated fans are kinda starving for a full fledged show here. But screw it, Star Wars is Star Wars and I'm happy. 4 stars, 8/10, and we got one more before the end of it all.

Monday, December 19, 2022

In Retrospect: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Yeahhhhh, now we're back!

Kenobi still holds firm and strong on repeat viewings, to finally be able to watch it all in one go as opposed to every week is a great ride. You really feel like it's an extended cut of a Star Wars film, like a mini epic, with tons given that wasn't even asked for but I appreciate greatly regardless. Obviously I spoke a very good deal about this series in the proper review and hold it highly, so I won't retread much ground but more focus on spoilery topics now that significant time has passed and tell you what minute changes I would make. No show is perfect, I understand that better than most but I really couldn't believe some of the bashing on this show. Bridges were burned, people were burned, I did what I must. So here we go for slight improvements. Believe it or not I would only change one major plot element, I'm very happy with how the story progresses from planet to planet, conflict to conflict in a broad sense. I enjoy Reva, I genuinely do, we rarely get to see such a consequences be damned loose cannon in the Inquisitorium, her story of revenge against Vader and how she goes about it is well done and consistent. However! I do almost wish she bit the quite literal dust on Tatooine, now that being said we have never encountered an Inquisitor that was redeemed. They all fucking die one way or another, so to see that alone is unique and interesting. I am down to see Moses Ingram reprise the role. But I genuinely felt first time watching the finale, she would die, that her anger and rage is what was keeping her alive Darth Maul style but once she spoke to Obi-Wan and got that peace and rised above what Vader is, that's when she would die. We love poetry in Star Wars so it would reflect Maul's death also on the sands of Tatooine in Obi-Wan's arms. Also speaking of parallels, apparently people called ripoff on the Vader mask slice? Even though....not every casual or hell even major Star Wars fan has watched Rebels so the fact we get that in live action, as well as the Inquisitor fortress from Jedi Fallen Order, I feel is nothing but a treat! The circle is now complete, we now have both Matt and James along with Hayden and James, that's cool as shit man! I just feel no one is ever gonna be happy, that I always have to keep fighting, keep defending, never obtaining victory in the Star Wars community. I mean is that what you wanna do with your life? Make a 40+ minute video deconstructing and defaming a series or film because it didn't do what you wanted it to do? That's senseless, but that's what happens man. I'm not here for it, I know I've hated a fair share in my time and it's good to vent but you gotta move on. Even with aspects of Star Wars that I see the fault of and could even recommend ways to fix it, in this show even it doesn't hurt the overall enjoyment and I can move along. Yes, the Leia chase scenes could have been changed very slightly to better work, have her hide in the forest, have her get a better head start on the rooftops. Yeah, Reva should have died from her wound but who knows her ultimate fate? They could have put Leia in a cargo box instead of a coat at the fortress. But for the most part, those are tiny details that don't warrant an overall....underwhelming? Aggravated? Negative? Hateful stance? When so much great stuff is given like Tala, Vader, Obi-Wan's journey, Leia, the duels, Master Qui-Gon! More additions to the lore like The Path with Quinlan Vos helping out, the weird ass amber crystal trophy room, new planets, things we get to see in live action, new droids, and a brand new story never told before. Hardly worthy of just a 7/10 on IMDB in my opinion. It's a mighty good mini-series that's engaging, well directed, well acted, and I stand by my rating of a 9/10! I got plenty from this, even though I was waaaaay off the mark with how this show would go, but an open mind and hunger for more Star Wars leads to positive experiences more often than not for me. I can't hate it and even if I did, give it about 5 years for Lucasfilm to retroactively improve it. That is literally the entire history to Star Wars, fuck your "they didn't even plan it out" horseshit. I could force snap some necks right now but I won't because we got more awesome shows to talk about, Dave Filoni take me home!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Porco Rosso

Damn you Studio Ghibli, I shake my fist at you!

Believe it or not, this friggin' movie man has been on my list for a long ass time, well before I even entertained the thought of writing my own reviews. This was my white whale to finally see, and I was not disappointed. Set in what looks like the late 1920s in the Mediterranean Sea, an ace pilot named Porco Rosso makes a living off protecting sea cruisers from air pirates as the governmental landscape shifts and the times they are a-changin'. Bounty hunting is a thing of the past and worse, Porco's plane gets wrecked forcing him to get it repaired and comes face to face with the new big shot pilot in town named Curtis who wants to take him down. Throw in a kickass mechanic named Fio, some air pirates possibly more hilarious than the pirates in Castle In The Sky, some spectacular sea scenery, and I think this is top 5 Studio Ghibli material for me. I'm serious man, if I wasn't a gleam in my mother's eye in 1992 you bet your ass I would see this day one! Granted the only selling point needed for me to even feverently search to watch this movie is two things, Studio Ghibli and Michael Keaton. I'm sold, take my money! Michael Keaton is so great in this, he's kind of a smartass but he's so cool you don't care, he can drink, smoke, womanize ever so slightly, and look like a literal pig and by God he can get away with it. I love how they don't really even explain how he turned into a pig, you never see anything, it's mentioned in passing it's a curse, we simply just do not know. I would call that bad writing elsewhere but it's never a quest to make him human again, people fully accept his appearance, so it's never really a problem. Kimberly Williams-Paisley as young engineer Fio just puts a smile on my face, she ain't taking no nonsense from Porco, she's super intelligent, very funny, hardheaded but extremely sweet, and there isn't really any kind of overt romance projected onto the film with either her or an old friend of Porco's who runs an establishment named Gina, played by Susan Egan who it took almost until the end of the movie for me to recognize her voice. You 90s Disney fans know, and while she is a smaller part of the story I really like her addition. Cary Elwes coming back again to voice Curtis, an egotistical even more womanizing gent from Texas no less (appreciate that representation, though we're not all like that I swear), but he's not an outright villain. Hell even the gangsters and air pirates are more comedic relief than actual threat but I adore that, it's just wonderful fun and I am not opposed to fun. The animation and backgrounds in this movie are stellar, you do feel that momentum and flying sensation even to a point where I tensed up for a brief instance. Some of these backgrounds are just unadulterated art worthy of any landscape painter. And this is just a super tiny sidebar, I can't even explain why, but seeing colored glints on the plane and the machine gun fire being this string of purple/pink orbs just really put a smile to my face, it's that very particular early 90s style of animation and I am here for it. I was so upset when it ended though because I was just having that great a time with it, I didn't want it to end! Usually I don't hate when a movie ends but this is one of those rare exceptions. I'm doing it, can't stop me. Full 4 stars, 10/10, this was so far up my alley and we only have one week left of reviews before the end of another year. You didn't think I would leave you high and dry without some Star Wars did you?

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

From Up On Poppy Hill

I can't think of a genre for this movie besides slice of life.

This is such a wonderful slice of life movie, I was severely questioning Studio Ghibli throughout this cause I was just wondering, "What is the magic ingredient and reason why Studio Ghibli films are as good as they are?". I mean really think about this, you have an animation studio who's only rival is Disney who themselves have distributed Studio Ghibli movies here in the States, their palette of stories is so broad it could be either pure fantasy or down to earth real life, and it effortlessly works it's way into your heart each and every single time to where you adore the movie when it barely has even begun. I was 12 minutes into this and I thought, what a sweet wonderful little film. Nothing has such power in this world except Studio Ghibli. When I explain the plot it sounds so dirt simple, almost like there's nothing to it but there truly is I swear. Alright, so the backdrop of this story is the 1964 Olympics held in Tokyo as we meet young schoolgirl Umi who meets and helps a fellow student named Shun keep his classmates center of operations for individual clubhouses from being demolished. That's pretty much the plot. There's no great drama, or adventure, there's not even a romance to it, it's just a simple yet strangely engaging story. Hence my previously stated remarks above. It's just a nice story with nice characters, there's no frills, bells, or whistles to keep you engaged. But it succeeds full heartedly in my opinion. There's still emotion and conflict, and something else that popped into my head is I don't actually consider Studio Ghibli movies for kids. It's silly to say, and not at all that children cannot understand the films but more on the basis that children couldn't appreciate the films like adults do. When I saw Spirited Away a very, very long time ago on Cartoon Network I didn't completely get it but I still very much liked the movie and there are moments when I could tell something was being presented that I didn't fully grasp emotionally or mentally. Watching it now I can see more and thus appreciate it more. From Up On Poppy Hill deals with the loss of a parent, a dedication to the past, how individuals deal with tragedy and try to move on. It's not super heavy or depressing even, but it is there. I wouldn't have grasped all of this at a young age, but I do now and I love the movie for that. It's difficult to explain but all too easy to feel. To see that time and place in the world is a great treat, even though you don't see major Tokyo landmarks in the mid 60s it's still cool. The animation is that same high quality, with pure art being showcased on the screen at times literally and figuratively, atmosphere has a great deal to play in these movies and I attribute that to Japan having a great deal of respect and admiration for nature. So to see a glimmering sea, sunsets amidst trees, even urban structures and cities, it just has this depth to it and we're not talking about perspective of the frame here. Something so simple but can speak great volumes, that's how I'd describe this movie. It's funny because I was picking what movies to review, upon reading the synopsis for this movie I was hesitant to add it because it just didn't sound like all that much, but there is a clear and distinct line from reading about a movie to experiencing a movie. 4 stars, I'm giving this an 8.5/10. A great movie no question, and tomorrow I've been waiting a very long time to finally see this movie so join me tomorrow as we take to the skies!

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The Cat Returns

Well...Jesus! Alright, let's go! Potential spoilers ahead all ye who enter here.

What in the nine circles of hell have I just witnessed? This movie is so goddamn weird man, it is bonkers!! Consider me flabbergasted, I can't speak right now. Like you would think, after alllll this time, with all the weird shit I have seen in my life, this movie would be next door to a normal day but I can scarcely find the words to describe it. So bear with me here as I attempt to recap this wacked out plot. Okay, so we meet a young girl named Haru who one day after school rescues a cat from being ran over in the street (my hero, rock on), said cat then starts talking and pretty soon Haru starts recieving gifts cause turns out the cat she saved is the prince of a cat kingdom. But that's not the strange part. She later is informed of a cat bureau where she meets a giant tubby white cat named Muta, a statue that turns into a crow named Toto, and a not cat but an actual figurine of a cat with top hat and tails and a cane named Baron Humbert von Gikkiken. But that's not the strange part. Haru is then kidnapped by a herd of cats who can GO THROUGH PORTALS, and is spirited away to the cat kingdom to be wed to the prince. But that's not the strange part! It's all the shit that happens after she gets to the castle. She starts turning into a cat herself, Muta seemingly dies from overeating, several cats are hurled out of the tower window, and then a rescue is underway with the Baron leading the charge to get Haru back to the human world. I swear to Christ, it's like if you took the plot of Labyrinth, injected so much mental ass imagination straight from Japan in it's arm, threw in a Hollywood studded cast, shoved it head first into a Ninja blender, flipped that puree switch and boom. You got yourself the most batshit Studio Ghibli movie I have ever seen in my life and already their resume is pretty out there! I cannot get over it, now do not get me wrong this is like high flying entertainment on crack, I can't bitch about one single thing, but I'm still trying to catch my breath along with my ballistically spread fired braincells, to try to review it but I'm not sure I can. It's great. But logic is not in the repertoire here for a split second, you just gotta roll with it, you can't question it. Don't question it, and you'll be fine. What's odder is I know this cast very well even, but for the life of me I couldn't recognize their voices. Anne Hathaway is Haru and she is hilarious with how almost deadpan and blunt her line deliveries are, she's wonderful in this role. Friggin' Cary Elwes as the Baron, do I need to say anything else? It's Cary Elwes, that charismatic handsome bastard could have me in a sentence. Peter Boyle as Muta, could not place the voice for the life of me but my God is he great in this, giving such bravado as this tough guy cat but just kills me throughout as comic relief. It took until like 3/4 of the way through the movie for me to recognize that was Tim Curry as the Cat King, I don't know how don't ask me how, yet with that man in any role it's guaranteed gold! I was laughing uproariously at parts, to the point where I had to stop the movie just to catch my breath, my mind couldn't handle the barrage assault of comedy given at points where it was just hit after hit. I'm probably gonna get noise complaints but screw it, they can suck on coxen, this was such a ride man. Apparently this is a semi-sequel to Whispers Of The Heart also by Studio Ghibli, I had no clue about that, and if I'm not horribly mistaken this movie came out after Spirited Away so we're still on that cutting edge new millenium animation style. I thought it looked fantastic with so much intricate layers of animation on the busy streets, with such crisp bright colors, it looks outstanding. You could lie straight to my face and be like oh yeah this movie came out 4 years ago, and I'd believe you! I'm speechless and floundering for words, so I'm sorry if this review is just all over the place, you just gotta see it my bros. You just have to. I can't fathom even a rating beyond 4 stars, so let's just say a solid 8/10! I'm gonna have to take some thorazine and have a nap so I can calm down. I'll see you tomorrow for a more recent exhibit from this studio.

Friday, December 9, 2022

The Sandman: Season 1

This might go on a bit.

Story time! What seems a long time ago I was made aware of an author by the name of Neil Gaiman through an episode of Doctor Who and all the big talk around that episode of such a prolific writer known noticeably by a work called The Sandman. Years passed and through bits and bobs of internet existence, more details of this world came to light, with the two biggest ones being an issue by the title of 24 Hours and the character previously discussed on this show. And one day I decided to do something. Still early years of writing reviews but I took 7 days out of my life, went to the local Barnes & Noble, sat in a comfy chair, and digested 10 volumes of The Sandman. It is not only the only true comic series I have read (not counting graphic novels and one shot adaptations), but also the only comic series I own. Hell, I even re-read the entire series I think either before or during the release of this show. You do not fuck me about with The Sandman. Let us begin. This show was really good. I won't become a counterbalance comparing source material with adaptation, but just know even though they make changes they are not bad changes. to briefly explain Sandman? Well! Seven anthropomorphized personifications known as The Endless govern each of their spheres according to title, in particular Dream who is torn from his reality and imprisoned by magic practicing humans for over a century. Once he finally achieves an escape, he goes on a quest to retrieve his items that were stolen leading him to face a demon hunter by the surname of Constantine, a mental patient that uses his powerful item to wreak havoc, and the quite literal hordes and lord of Hell. There's more to it, but why spoil everything presented? I scarcely know where to begin now. I shall note that the first season comprises 2 of the 10 volumes spanning eleven episodes, but I'll add an addendum and say the 11th episode is a bonus episode not the finale. And it moves at a very well done pace I thought. I honestly forgot at times I was watching a series because it does have a cinematic quality to the production! I feel the casting was super well done. With great love going to many including Tom Sturridge, who really encompasses the voice and was the big deciding factor on my enjoyment of this series but I'm happy to report he did wonderful, bringing a lot more humanizing and less apathetic qualities to Morpheus. Boyd Holbrook as the monstrous nightmare creature the Corinthian I'll admit didn't fully have me sold first I saw him, but by episode 7 he hit that stride and became such a great villain to boo and hiss at. Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne, one of many examples of Rule 63 in the show, was a bright and welcome addition to the Dreaming and having such strong chemistry with Tom, she was grand. I know people maybe might have given Gwendoline Christie some grief as playing Lucifer Morningstar, but to be perfectly honest I can't fathom any text that specifically said Lucifer was a guy and angels don"t exactly have genitalia so screw it. I felt she has that perfect cherub face and slick fashion sense, and conveys the literal ruler of Hell incredibly well, she kinda is a bit unnerving to watch! I was so looking forward to the appearance of my dear sweet king Gilbert, like seriously this guy is my favorite male character of the series, and when I saw Stephen Fry I flipped man. Flawless casting! And last but never everrrrr least, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as my one and only, Her Majesty of the Sunless Lands, Death. I...guys. Here I go again! Have. To. Maintain. Composure. The fact we get her for one episode is criminal but she is a passing, more sporadic appearing character in the comics so I get it, but she did so well! Oh my God, her episode is hands down the best and real talk here, got me surprisingly emotional like a LOT, tears slipped down my cheeks! To see a story I adore so much come to life on the screen I've just never experienced that until this point in my life. She's pure 10/10 and I can't wait to see Kirby again in this show. Also shoutout to my guy Patton Oswalt, wonderful to see you as always and will continue to be until, if the gods are kind, the series finale. I think this is the most lavishly produced Netflix show I've ever seen but truth be honest, I don't watch Netflix like I used to and I certainly haven't seen an original show of theirs until Rilakkuma And Kaoru, but for such a visually rich and uberly imaginative series like The Sandman they did do a competent and well done job on crafting the worlds, the props, conveying the sense of a dream, costumes, all that stuff! I couldn't even imagine how much more colorful and wild it would be if this was an animated series, but the leap to live action is a brave one and apparently from what I've heard of past Netflix created live action counterparts to stuff [cough cough] umm...yeah. So I'm counting my lucky stars and giving thanks for this series to have even begun, let alone do well enough more is on the way. And boy, knowing the things I know that are coming up makes my imagination race figuring out how they're going to do it and what they might change up. Unlike others I welcome change and crafting of new elements for an adaptation, because I mean really, what do you get out of watching an adaptation where you know precisely what is going to happen every second? Keep me on my toes, shuffle stuff, drop stuff, recast people! I enjoy that engagement of, where is it going next? And I enjoy even more not having the answer. Volume 3 of the comics is an interesting collection of one shot stories, technically they've already done half of them in the bonus 11th episode, so what does that entail for season 2? Do we finish them off first episode, throw them in as another bonus episode, maybe drop it all together? No clue. But wait until you see what the Morningstar has cooked up for the Dream Lord, it is a trip! But before I go off on a tangent and spoil something, final scores on the boards. I give it 4 stars, 8.5/10! A super solid beginning to a world of dreams and nightmares. We'll be slipping back into exclusively movie reviews next week with examples from a much visited and beloved animation studio.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Death (2019)

Criminally short but great.

I was thoroughly shocked I wasn't aware of this little short, I am hardcore for The Sandman and even more hardcore for his older sister, and it surprised me even more to learn this only came out 3 years ago but then again life got thrown into a whirlpool quite quick so I'll cut me some slack. I was expecting before doing any real brief research a 30 something minute adaptation of one of Neil Gaiman's stories, but what I got was a 17 minute original story of an artist who is severely having a rough time before meeting a quite sweet girl who obliges to pose for him, before big bombshell here folks, friggin' cutie pie yumness over there, she's Death. I am trying really reallyyyy hard here not to just devolve into just obscene gushing over this woman, I am physically attempting to contain my immeasurable joy in seeing her and my neverending crush on this lovely lady. She has my heart in this world and the next, it is her above anyone else, and I am a shamelessly wholesome Dude stating facts. I gotta go now. Color me impressed with how much good stuff they put in this absurdly short film, you get a real solid grasp on our painter Vincent, his life, his passion for art, and how he manifests his inner demons. I really can see so many people just getting it, you know? They know what it's like, they have been there before, it's very easily relatable. The animation is very good as well, with how lighting and atmosphere changes so quick, the abandoned streets of Gotham (Represent!), the character designs I see bits of anime influence but this is very much the standard quality of DC animated projects, it sorta reminded me of a mix between Batman Year One and Throne Of Atlantis. And I gotta admit I've never been able to quantify the voice I hear in my head when I read The Sandman books and come across Death, but Jamie Chung pretty rock solid choice I very much liked her vocal performance here. Leonardo Nam gets that emotional drama through in a short period and while I saw that ending coming a substantial mile away it didn't detract at all from his last minutes of acting. Talking of which, wow that was so cool! Amazing how far we've come with animation. And can you believe, you can watch the whole thing on the YouTubes, no charge! Worth the time in my opinion. I give it 4 stars, 9/10! The only reason it isn't 10/10 is because it's just too damn short. Yet what a strangely accurate portrayal of life, short yet filled with so much, joy and sadness, the facing of death around you before your own time comes, the pursuit of things you love. Here one minute. Gone the next. But you get what everyone gets, you get a lifetime.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Constantine City Of Demons

At long last I'm finally watching The Sandman show this week, but why not look at some related movies too?

I will admit I'm not terribly familiar with John Constantine, but I get the basic idea. Middle aged down to earth bloke from England fights demons and monsters with magic, a concept as easy to grasp as gravity for me, and indeed the first time I encountered the character was in the infancy issues of Sandman. Plus I've been meaning to take a look at his two animated films for a wee while anyway. So John has been called in as a favor from an old friend who suspects foul play when his young daughter slips into a coma, and immediately shit hits the fan real hard leading John to travel to the City of Angels to rescue the daughter's soul from an enterprising demon. The first thing I gotta tell you is, this movie does not fuck about. At all. It is pure mature audiences only, there is more gore and horrific deaths in this than there was in that animated Mortal Kombat movie, so many cuss words, and even a semi(?) sex scene without any of the visual stimulus. That was a wake up call and a half let me tell you. But it was an interesting and engaging film, it goes for gruesomely out there and succeeds quite well. Since it deals with demons and magic there are plenty of cool animation details that make it visually great. Matt Ryan was really really good as Constantine, a pretty smug and yet average guy who's trying to do right but is far from your heroic boy scout archetype, the man smokes like a chimney and drinks more than Raymond Carver and has some attitude. A welcome change of pace in the wide world of comics. Damian O'Hare as John's best friend Chas brings more of that humanity and emotion to it, he fully knows John is a magic man which is an aspect I greatly liked, no need to keep secrets, and you by God want to see him get his daughter back but Jesus wept this movie takes like a foot long knife and just twists that shit but not at all in the way you think. Robin Atkin Downes as the villain Nergal (totally not tentacled dickhead from Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy) is an asssshooooole in this, obviously because the movie goes in such unadulterated dark shit he is just one evil sum'bitch you hate unconditionally, so hey big props to them for that. It's feature length so it takes it's time and while not everything is explained, it's magic you don't have to, and you do kinda have to just roll with it I feel it still works if this is your first exposure to the character. There be no origins stories here, everything is established and ready to be enjoyed if you can stomach the just jaw dropping amounts of gore. I can't recall the last animated project that was this blood soaked but shittin' hell man I've done over 1,000 of these things, it's a miracle I remember what I did yesterday. So all in all it was a good film, very happy I saw it but could only recommend to certain people instead of everybody. I give it 3 stars, 7.5/10, and tomorrow's example is even more deeprooted in the mythos of the Endless.

Friday, December 2, 2022

Violent Night

I would like to issue a statement rescinding all hatred towards Christmas, and that David Harbour might be the best Santa. This is not issued under duress or fear of being brutally murdered. I clearly have always held Christmas highly and wish nothing but joy to the world. Uhhh....HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

But in all seriousness for a movie I had next door to average expectations, shitting hell it was actually pretty great! I saw legit effort and commitment to this idea and no slapdash treatment for an admittedly silly movie idea. I could compare certain elements of the plot to films like Die Hard or Home Alone but I really don't want to sell this movie short, for a movie about a home invasion disrupted by Santa Claus I genuinely was greatly entertained, horrified by the violence, and did feel that Christmas heart full of joy. I'm as dumbfounded as the rest of you but...I kinda love this movie! David Harbour pretty damn solid, I mean I'll admit he won me over quick being bitter as hell about the holiday and these shit ass kids (no I haven't seen Bad Santa so this is new to me), so that was great but you can see this devotion and care he has for his role he just so happens to crack skulls open like a nutcracker too. Glorious! Good ol' Luigi Mario, John Leguizamo what a hateful but great fun villain, he was that actionsploitation villain but with the right kind of performance and dialogue to make it interesting. This little girl.....if she was in danger I would go Doom Slayer on whoever stood in my way, Leah Brady is that perfect level of pwecious and rad in this role and bless her forever. Those are the main players but the supporting cast from parents to goons are also done well! I really hope this becomes a blood soaked Christmas cult classic, and I'm gonna lay this out here. If you think Die Hard isn't a Christmas movie, then here is your Christmas action movie no questions asked. I was a bit disappointed by the CG blood but that was remedied with fairly decent practical effects and many, many blood packs. This is a goddamn brutal movie, like it did elicit vocalizations of shock and disgust from me. Well directed as well, they go for some interesting angles and a long take action scene. It almost is nothing like I imagined it would be, it's better. Like I said I hope people see the effort to make this actually a very good movie, because I respect the living shit out of the writers and directors for handling this the way they did. Objectively it's like a 7/10 maybe but this is how nice of a Dude that I am, I'm giving it 4 stars, 8/10! There's your Christmas present, don't ever say I don't do nice things even in the face of this most annoying of seasons. And that good folk is the last new movie review of 2022, now to compile the list and start forming a top 10 of the year. But there's a few more things to scratch off the list, discuss, and appreciate. I'll see you behind the wall of sleep.