Friday, December 29, 2023

Doctor Who: 60th Anniversary Specials

Yeah sorry, couldn't let it slip by.

Doctor Who! Also known as oh God Russell what will I do with you? Yeah after my....less than enthused reaction to seeing David back, the 60th anniversary has come and the 14th Doctor is on our screens for a brief jaunt in time and space. The real question is, have I mellowed on it and what do I think? The answer is somewhat, cause I was fuming and dreading just a big nostalgic fanwankery throwback to 2008 Doctor Who and it not progressing the character of the Doctor, but I am greatly happy to announce they did confront it and acknowledge it. So I will now laugh in crazed Time Lord manner at the imbeciles and cretins who thought Jodie was just gonna get retconned and tell them to suck it. Long. And hard. You know, for a whopping grand total of four specials spanning 4 hours only there is quite a bit to unpack here so we may just have to break this down special by special. But there's more than just what is presented on screen as well to discuss, we have had some changing of the guards and I can honestly say I have no major qualms with Disney+ possibly being the home to Doctor Who now in the States but I miss watching this show on the BBC America, the budget and scale has never ever been this big or better before, we get a lot of behind the scenes personel back on the programme besides just Russell including Julie Gardner and Rachel Talalay, and I feel the future of the show is up in the air mainly due to the fact I don't keep up with the making of process and what could potentially come next in terms of distribution, writers, or just overall production. I'll touch base on certain things before jumping into the specials themselves, mainly details we knew beforehand. Love the the new logo, classic but with a modern makeover. New title sequence, it's practically kaleidoscopic and I dig it. Theme tune not sold on yet actually, bit too orchestral and not enough sci-fi if that makes any sense but it could grow on me or change outright. New sonic, quite the amalgamation of every modern screwdriver since 2005, I rather like it. New console room, holy cow is that a set! Complete with mood lighting! Sign me up I'm here for it. Onto the specials! The Star Beast is a solid entrance to the anniversary, with our Doctor literally bumping into Donna not long after his deja vu regeneration as a spaceship crashes, leading to a delicate wire balance of save the Earth but don't trigger any memories from Donna. Although that tidbit gets handwaved, and I do frick fraking mean handwaved away at the end which really just hurts the drama and emotion of not only the end of Series 4 but also The End Of Time. I just do not like it, however seeing David and Catherine back is indeed nice and adds new and old elements that have been present in this universe, never did I get bored or was uninterested in viewing it once. It's a simple story with good character interaction, great effects, and is a stepping stone to the next adventure so I can walk away liking it just fine. Wild Blue Yonder is when we get real friggin' good, probably the first time on television Doctor Who has flirted with the concept of cosmic horror as the Doctor and Donna find themselves on a derelict spaceship on the edge of the universe itself when...well just watch it. It combines stuff from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, The Thing, and for you Big Finish fans out there I kinda got big Scherzo vibes from this episode and that is a terrifying story, seriously check that shit out if you haven't. It really did get under my skin especially when the Doctor just peers out at the sheer darkness beyond the universe, it was very effective stuff. Great episode! The Giggle oh boy here we go, the world has gone mental and one of the oldest enemies the Doctor has ever had has found his way into the universe where a series of games is played winner take all. Positives, love of my life Kate is back, Mels is back and marvellous as ever, even as a not big fan of Neil Patrick Harris he did pretty damn good and I didn't actually hate the Spice Girls number as well, Russell after a decade gets to prod and poke at societal norms today, and it gives a happy ending for David. Negatives and spoilers about to crash down on your head, the plot is kinda loose and is more a vehicle to get The Celestial Toymaker to confront The Doctor again and to get to the ohhh God...the bi-generation. I'm kinda on the fence about it, because as I have stated before I'm a dude that thinks decades into the future of the ramifications of decisions. Buuuuut at the exact same time I've come to accept the MetaCrisis Doctor, the extension of 13 faces/12 regenerations, The Timeless Child I took that shit in pure stride happily, so am I really gonna call bullshit on the bi-generation?? Welllll yeahhhh but like not really, it's a complicated matter and I can so clearly see in my mind's eye that's when some people quit Doctor Who outright. Okay let me put it this way, I don't like it but I'm accepting of it and who knows they could play about with it in the years to come to where I'm happy they did that. Minor sidebar on this episode as well, there is zero damn doubt in my mind the whole companion puppet show was entirely for the benefit of those people who quit watching when Ten regenerated, there is no way you can tell me otherwise. I am right on that. Now! However! When it comes to the man of the fucking hour Ncuti Gatwa as our new Doctor Who ho-ho-hoooo! I can firmly and safely say, hand over my hearts, for the first time in my life, I am so stoked for the new Doctor. Never ever has my excitement and love for a new incarnation even existed let alone be this high before, and not only that this is the first Doctor Who actor I've ever seen prior to the show. Chris, David, Matt, Peter, Jodie, never seen them in something before Doctor Who (I know David was in Goblet Of Fire but that revelation didn't click until a whiles later and I wasn't watching Doctor Who yet so I don't count that.) so it really feels like all the rules be broke and damned for this iteration. My mans kinda stole my heart and he can damn well keep it, I cannot wait to see more of him! So pure 10/10 for Ncuti, but how do the performances stack up for the rest of the cast? The day David Tennant gives a bad performance Hell will freeze over, pigs will have learned to fly, and I will become a monkey's uncle. Is he pretty much the Tenth Doctor all over again? Yeah, but there are added layers to the performance to make it unique enough. Catherine Tate I liked better when she didn't have her memory back but just the unbreakable bond of friendship she has with David off screen practically oozes from the interactions and dynamic they have on screen, and she has a spectacular standout moment at the end of Wild Blue Yonder just oh my God that woman can still act her ass off. Again Neil Patrick Harris is a surprisingly good casting choice and can hold some menace even though he really only has one episode to spread his wings. The Noble family are class, and I thought Yasmin Finney as Rose Noble was quite nice and her presence was felt even when it was just the Doctor and Donna, and okay we have to talk about Bernard Cribbins. That was a hard day after hearing he passed away and knowing this was his final acting role made it special but also sad, and I'm not saying this out of anger or resentment or "how dare they" but I genuinely expected more footage of him in the specials when in truthful reality it was a cameo. I mean clearly I wanted him to be in it a lot cause I love that man, everybody loves him, so I'm not upset at the production team far from it in fact. It just sucks you know? But on the brighter end of things Ruth Madeley as UNIT scientific advisor Shirley Bingham instantly had my attention, I don't know what it is but I would love to see her in more Doctor Who and she is just so goddamn pretty and lovely, that character is Kino. Production values from the costumes, sets, effects both practical and CG, it still wholeheartedly fits in that Doctor Who style but it unmistakenly has had a major facelift and I was impressed, happy, and even nodded approvingly at the silly bits. It truly is a new era for this show and it's just a tiny taste of what is yet to come. Now I would be remiss to not include the Christmas special, Ncuti's first full fledged adventure, so let's shift gears over to that. It may have the most average and dirt simple story of not just all the Christmas specials beforehand but all previous episodes but The Church On Ruby Road is easily one of the most fun and fancy free, ludicrous, and just plain entertaining installments in this whole series. I don't think I can adequately explain why that is, but if you just roll with it and are here for the ride you get a lot of fun! It's basically the Fifteenth Doctor meeting his companion Ruby Sunday as they try to stop meddling goblins, but the story barely matters because how the dialogue is written and vastly more importantly how the actors handle the material and interact with one another is practically electric. It's sheer emotional storytelling and I was smiling like the biggest dweeb on the face of the Earth but it has sad moments to it as well, but the energy and passion presented pretty much made me think, "Wow this is what it must have been like when Doctor Who premiered in 2005 with Rose." like it was kind of amazing. Ncuti Gatwa, 10/10, could not adore him more if I tried. Millie Gibson, I'm pretty much already cherishing the ground she walks on, oh my days and stars! The chemistry is flawless, it really does seem like they are the greatest of friends more so than even Ten and Donna with almost sibling energy at times, it really is exactly what I wanted for Christmas. Twelve and Bill are my pinnacle of modern Tardis teams, but man if this keeps up they will be usurped like yesterday. The positives almost outrageously outweigh the negatives, which really is just I'm still getting used to Ncuti's sonic screwdriver, it almost is like the sonic lance in terms of different (but I love with a capital L the story behind the Gallifreyan text on it) but that can so easily change with time. The goblin song is kind of a groove man, and while the Doctor bursting out into song is no Gallifreyan Buccaneer I still unashamedly dig it. Also shoutout to Ruby's mum that woman is a saint and I want you to acknowledge her, that's how I would have kids I would most certainly adopt and not subject any woman to the body horror show of pregnancy thank you very much. But anyway, easily my favorite of the 60th specials and I can't stand the thought of having to wait March at the earliest and May at the latest for the next proper series. If I had to give individual ratings for each special The Star Beast gets a solid 7/10, Wild Blue Yonder gets an 8/10, The Giggle gets a 7.5/10, and The Church On Ruby Road gets a 9/10. Not bad at all for the special occasion and the hype has never been more real for this show. 

And now to reveal the plan for next year. I'm sensing a drought is going to occur because of the strikes and to level with you this year's amount of written material tied with my first year ever and while I greatly enjoyed the time off I wish to contribute more than I did this year. So I'm not quite gonna get back up to 3+ reviews every week but I will try to punch up a review or two every week besides just new movies once the anniversary arrives. Year 9 here we come, the long way around.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom

Last new movie, how was it?

Decent. It's no masterfully written film but if you dig comic stuff, DC stuff, Aquaman in general, or just Jason Momoa it's a competently made entertaining watch. So we flash forward a brief while since Arthur has taken up the throne, he's a full time dad and part time king who is in the crosshairs of Black Manta's seething vendetta and trouble comes a knockin' when Manta finds an ancient cursed trident, so Arthur enlists the help of Orm to stop him. It's a very basic story with not a lot of frills or bells and whistles, it takes moments to progress the characters a notch but mostly it's a status quo movie. Not at all that it's a bad thing the movie does this, simplicity can be highly entertaining and indeed the film has solid good aspects to it, but at the end of the day it's trying to be a fun distraction and not an amazing film. I have no real qualms stating I went to see this primarily for Jason Momoa, the dude is just friggin' cool and I challenge anyone to badmouth seeing Arthur as a papa because those scenes are gold star stuff and I love his just fun, wiseass, bright energy he brings to this role. It took me by surprise we got Orm back in this and to be a good guy after the fairly irredeemable nature of his character in the last movie, but I attest that to the power of Patrick Wilson who trumps all dastardly writing because well...not to make a shameless scene of myself once again but I think I'm hopelessly in love with that man. Like seriously, I've liked him a great deal since Schumacher's Phantom but the crush is kinda real these days guys. Moving swiftly on. Yahya Abdul Mateen still brings his all to this role, granted it's undeniably one dimensional in his lust for revenge, but never once is he uninteresting or dull to watch and I give him fair dues for that! And never to shirk away from unpleasant business, Amber Heard, do I think they should have just fucking recast the bitch and on? Absolutely. Now my statement made in my Flash review still stands, there is characters and there is actors. They are seperate entities. You can hate an actor but still view the character as simply a character. I love Mera, I think she is one of the best comic book characters this century, the woman is so badass it frankly scares me, and it is a joy to see her in various adaptations. She's barely in this movie, I can understand your feelings if you can't disassociate enough and there is nothing wrong with that, we can't change it we simply must accept it and move along. And I'm also very happy they gave Dolph Lundgren a lot more to do this time around than previously, I am always down to see some Lundgren. I actually also rather like quite a lot of expansion on the world and mythos of the sea, you get to see a lot of different and new stuff that wasn't present before, and the visuals are still really nice! Bioluminescence for the win! We get expanded history on the kingdoms which is interesting, new creatures, new locales, I dig that. Soundtrack is also unique and neat too. Now the negative aspects are incredibly far from film breaking or even just plain dumb, but there are things that could have been written better and or just edited out. I feel the main scientist guy is crossing into sheer stereotypical, scientist who works for the bad guys but isn't a bad guy himself, and just plain superflous territory. Whoever the living shit made these stupid location title cards, Jerry on the 3rd floor who wanted to contribute to the movie somehow, God fuck almighty you want to talk about waste? The less than in depth writing of Black Manta which I know could have been better but it's overall serviceable to the plot. It's just small things that could have been done better and chips away at the final score a good bit, but this is not a bad sit and you can enjoy parts of it. I know some people are looking at this movie and saying what's the goddamn point when the DCEU is effectively done and over lasting 10 years since Man Of Steel? And while I fully and passionately agree that this series of films had a ton of bullshit interference from the studios, more so later on near the end, to say it was all worthless and "a decade of nothing" as one unproductive member of society said it could not be farther from the truth. I really liked Man Of Steel, Wonder Woman was great, Shazam was fun and fancy free, Birds Of Prey I actually rather enjoyed, The Suicide Squad was class, Blue Beetle had surprising amounts of heart, and even the ones I wouldn't consider the greatest of the lot still held entertainment and interest for me. Am I biased towards DC over Marvel? Yeah, but I'm also wise enough to know every movie has it's problems objectively but it's your perspective that matters whether you like something or not. I can't truthfully speak on what will come for DC and whether I shall be onboard or not, but how will I know if I don't come and see? Will I see and behold a white horse and the name that sat upon it was Death, or will it be a great new beginning? This chapter of history is over. Turn the page. 2 stars, 6.5/10, a passable end to a decade of actually decent flicks.

Friday, December 15, 2023


I...will accept that.

Again, had next to zero inkling what this movie would be but I stepped in happy and open minded and was rewarded for my efforts. I feel the trailers did kind of a disservice, it was really pushing the Gene Wilder-isms and origin story card to get butts in seats, when in actuality the film is a beast of it's own entirely. In fact it is folly and a waste of time to compare this with the 70s film, it's like seeing a person with the same hair color, eye color, and even the same shape of their noses but everything else is different entirely. Even the angle of it's a prequel to Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is null and void, it uses elements of that film with some being more on the nose than others but ultimately is a fun and fancy free film with plenty of ludicrous nonsense. But a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest man. So our tale begins with a young Mr. Wonka setting foot back on dry land after seven years of seafaring to a city where he wants to open his first shop. Now the odd thing about this town that I noticed is everyone is for the most part british and cockney in accent, but I swear I saw a street sign in german but no architecture was german. Very strange. But anywho! So, and this is a no horseshit Jack statement, there is a chocolate cartel conspiring against the candyman and on top of that this movie gets a tiny bit little orphan Annie, and a squad of workers chip in to help open the store. That's the basic gist and for a film around the 2 hour mark keeps a very good pace, with more musical numbers than Willy and Charlie combined and it is exactly as I suspected. You get every flavor of song you can think of, introductory song, aspiration song, villain song, sad song, the works with full blown can-can dancing included at times. The songs are passable, I didn't adore nor despise any of them, and Timothée actually has a pretty decent singing voice. And yeah his performance is entirely his own, he has moments of Gene but at the end of the day is his own unique iteration. The emotion and humor is there from all the characters, with a good bit of love going towards Paterson Joseph, Jim Carter, Keegan-Michael Key, and of course Rowan Atkinson who were a joy to see. Though I feel slightly bait and switched when it came to Sally Hawkins but all is forgiven for I got to see her rapturous beauty if only for a moment. And to be honest I was fawning a bit over Rakhee Thakrar too. The sets and colors are great, the movie is actually really dang funny and I was probably the only one cracking up in that theater, even the plain absurdity of Hugh Grant as an Oompa-Loompa works surprisingly well I mean this director knew what tone and style he wanted and nailed it pretty succesfully! It is a fun movie and thankfully not terribly saccharine, so it is a recommendation. It's honestly tied with the 70s version for me but I give it 3.5 stars, 7.5/10! And I think the end may almost be here, but I may have a trick or two up my sleeves for you to enjoy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

I think there's a reason I haven't watched this since 2005.

I mean, it's not bad. It really isn't, it just didn't do anything for me. Now I watched it a fair bit when I was like 10, though I speak from experience when I say not to watch it when you're sick and you got a fever and your brain feels all mixed and scrambled, but it's good to compare notes on with the Gene Wilder film. Same basic story with a few alterations, imaginings, and some delvings in Wonka's past to make it indeed a film of it's own and not a straight up remake. I feel Tim Burton is a rock solid choice for the film because you know he's a visual director with a distinct style and can give such a wild and weird look once you're in the factory and I feel he somewhat delivers but I also feel it's one of his more "normal" looking films like Edward Scissorhands. Johnny Depp I love you man, you are a very talented performer, and I ain't got a clue why you're here. Not that it's bad writing or a poor performance, I think I fully understand the angle they were working, it's a reclusive guy who's headspace is still very much childlike and immature with a dose of parental trauma I understand that part, but it ain't fully realized. He's just kinda out there, spacey, awkward, very much in his little world, and for lack of a better term alien. There was one moment where I feel he got it, captured a spark of Gene Wilder, when he was trying to unlock the gate so Veruca could be saved, that was rich! Charlie ain't much better, unbelievably categorized in that nice kid mold with barely a lick of personality though I'm happy Freddie kept acting and has gotten good stuff since. The kids are a bit meaner which I rather like cause that's incredibly believable for children, and they still are as one dimensional as the characters in the 70s version so that's a small improvement. Major props to Deep Roy who had to play every single Oompa Loompa on camera, that is commitment and he got paid accordingly as well for all his work. I'm rather split on the musical cues because it's not a musical per se as the previous film, we only get the what I like to call the comeuppnace songs after each kid gets bumped off, it's a neat touch that each song focuses on a decade of music from the 50s to the 80s (not in that particular order) but the songs are kinda ehhh. I rather enjoy Danny Elfman's music, both in cinema and in his band Oingo Boingo, but this is his lowest for me on the ranking of his film scores. It's not all negatives of course, but hey man people have their preferences. The movie did a decent job getting a few really good laughs out of me, the set design goes from mundane to beautifully realized, any screen time with Christopher Lee is a win, the kid actors were good with the material they had, to hear Geoffrey Holden as the narrator was a real treat for me, and I even appreciated the House Of Wax nod that Tim slipped in there. It's okay, I can take it or leave it, but who says it can't work for someone? As for the upcoming Wonka...oh my God I am so perplexed as to how this will go. It seems to be appropriately out there just in the overall movie landscape of 2023. Full blown musical dance numbers and all, the tone feels light and leaning towards über cutesy to where you could get the diabeetus from watching it, it is unashamedly different in it's style and tone, all I'm hoping for is a good movie but I have a sneaking suspicion it'll be the bridgehead of quality between Charlie and Willy Wonka. Final scores, 2.5 stars, 5.5/10, and here's hoping for Friday.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

No better time to take a small jaunt down memory lane.

I'm sure for my generation and the one previous, this film has been an early watch in our childhoods but I'm rather curious as to what people think of it today. Whether they be kids or adults, because while I've always liked the movie I've never loved it. It's not been a staple of my childhood, but I'm sure it is for someone. So the story goes a poor young lad named Charlie is living his less than good life when the reclusive owner of the biggest candy making factory in the world sends out five golden tickets to gain entry to the factory and see all the fantastical and wonderous things within. Now what I really have to commend the film for is actually the fact that it's age kinda helps it work. It's shot in 1970s West Germany, the clothing and production design are embedded in the 70s, and you'd be surprised how much the film...not necessarily lolligags about but rathers does a fair bit of world building cause you see news coverage, and TV interviews, and even just random scenes of superflous characters, which makes it almost seem like you're watching a piece of real world history. All the contraptions and inventions in the factory are absurd and ludicrous but have that children's story twinge to it like you really just stepped into another world entirely. Yeah you can poke fun at the movie almost from minute one to end credits a lot of people do, but credit goes to all the people who worked on the movie to make it as good as they did. Speaking of children's stories this was one, in a series of books written by Roald Dahl the guy who also wrote The Witches (90s family film that probably traumatized a few kids), The BFG (not to be associated with Doom), and also Matilda (underground gem feverishly lauded by adults my age), and it may be a bit of a shock to learn he really did despise and detest this adaptation of his work. Also surprising was that the movie didn't do all that well in theaters and more got it's reputation through video rentals as time went on. I can very firmly say the reason to watch the film is Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, and the film does a pretty good job building up this mystery of the factory and it's proprietor I mean you don't even see the guy until the 40 minute mark in this one hour and forty minute film, but once he's there you can't. Look. Away. And I LOVE the potrayal here, cause you can't get a read on him! He's kind and yet dispassionate at instances, he clearly is a well read individual but he's a bit off his damn rocker at the same time, I mean you kinda have to be to come up with all this edible foolishness but there's this wide eyed sparkle and stare about him not far off from a mad scientist in one certain shot. Maybe that's why they picked him for Young Frankenstein. Gene is a walking talking marvel in this picture and still probably won't be topped anytime soon. Not ever to discredit the kids in this movie, in all seriousness this is actually pretty great child acting for the time, each with memorable and easily definable characters with individual flaws. It does take on a Grimm's Fairy Tales aspect with each kid having a vice or deadly sin as it were and it bites them in the ass sooner rather than later, but even Charlie is still a kid with wants and woes and isn't pigeonholed into a "good kid" category. It's interesting to watch it again and pick up on so much that didn't even register as a kid, even if the tunnel really doesn't make that much sense still and yeahhh let's discuss the tunnel shall we. Um, I love it. It's a bad acid trip in the middle of a children's film, has the balls to show a live chicken beheaded in full, scary ass poetry is recited which of course I know by heart, and ends almost as quickly as it began. Why??? How?? I don't know why it's there or how they came to that decision to make it, but I'm so happy they did. I really love when kid's films get just creepy and weird, it happens more with films from the 70s and 80s, another great example that I see no one talk about is the scene where Charlie is outside the gates of the factory at nightfall and for absolutely no reason this man who has a rickety cart filled with friggin' cleavers and butcher knives recites some creepy ass poetry about little men then walks off. Why is it there? Beats me man but it's something memorable. Maybe there's a message to the offbeat weird shit, maybe it's just to give people the heebie jeebies. Probably the latter. And it's a musical to boot, there's a fair few songs in this film! Now I attribute that more to the fact that it's a children's film and that's more common in such features, but the songs aren't bad even if some are strangely brief. It's just such a tiny bit of an anomaly this movie, I dare say there isn't another film like it even if compared to next time's review, I'm sure it was an oddball picture when it released and it hasn't lost it's unique individualistic bizzare quality since. It's a sure fire watch for the sole reason of seing Gene do what he does beautifully and make an opinion of your own. I give it 3 stars, 7.5/10, Tim Burton version next time.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Godzilla Minus One

That was wicked man.

I'm kinda friggin' stunned, I mean what a time to be a Godzilla fan! We are two for two on japanese produced Godzilla films being released here in the States. Can you even believe it was 7 years ago when Shin Gojira came out? That is a luxury any veteran Godzilla fan in the US never had, and I really want to say thank you Toho for tapping the american market, because kaiju and tokusatsu films are niche even in Japan and are a hell of a lot more so here. If it's not transparently apparent I loved this film and there is a great deal I want to talk about and now it's a more of a task to remember everything I want to say rather than be in fear of spoilers. We set the wayback machine even before 1954, in the wake of the end of the second world war where we meet an air pilot named Koichi who when taking repairs on Odo island comes face to face with a dinosaur turned monster the islanders call Gojira. He thankfully survives and returns home dealing with the aftermath of such a sight, the defeat of Japan, and ghosts that he has to make peace with while slowly rebuilding his life, but oh dear atomic testing in the Bikini Atoll has scarred the creature and he's making a B-line straight to Tokyo Bay, leading to a non-military group to formulate a plan to stop the terrible giant. Pure distilled synopsis, but there is a lot going on in this movie. It easily is way more serious than Shin Gojira, maybe even more so than the 1954 film which may get me in trouble for saying so. It tackles a lot both from a character standpoint and a history standpoint, all of which feels organic to the setting and time period and is executed quite well. You don't need to be a history buff to understand all the inner workings of the landscape of Japan at this point (just go watch D Man1954's video on Minus One history) but it is fascinating stuff. I won't lie to you my jaw was on the floor almost the whole film, I'll say it cause I mean it that Godzilla has never been more terrifying. He was an undeniable force in the first film, he was effectively creepy in Shin Gojira, here he is uhhh...Jesus. The roars, the booming footsteps, the physique, the atomic breath, fear inducing. I'm not sure if it's pure CG or just suitmation digitally touched up or even both, but I like the design. Very 54' appearance with the Legendary type physique, and he moves with the ferocity of a wild animal when he wants to! I kinda like how they go one step beyond the american films and make the dorsal fins slowly light up but also jut out of his back when he does the atomic breath, and when it fires it's fucking doomsday. It damn near reaches Oppenheimer levels of apocalyptic despair but has great uplifting moments and messages that balance it out. Did catch a fair few references though and being the dork that I am I shall list some! To hear several tracks of Akira Ifukube's music in ground shaking surround sound was unreal, we hear the main theme, a track from Mothra Vs. Godzilla, what I like to call the Heisei march, I think you even hear a bit of the underwater music from the 54' movie which is so peaceful and yet so haunting at the same time so that was Kino. Love how after all this time Godzilla is still based on Odo island and we get a nod to the underwater flash you see from the original too. No doubt the film tipped it's hat to Jaws which already was scary as hell now replace Bruce with Godzilla and I was anxious to say the least. Now I would say I loved it more than Shin Gojira on first watch, but I've seen that movie many many times since and the love only increases so we'll have to see where this ends up. A really rock solid human plot that is there for a reason, devastating rampage scenes, very good effects, and another fine addition to the collection nearing 70 years in length. 4 stars, 9/10, go see it Friday when it's out nationwide. And if my calculations are correct we only have two movies left for the year, big time fingers crossed for those so stay tuned.

Thursday, November 23, 2023


Happy giving of the thanks, now let's talk war.

We truly do not get big budget epic historical dramas like we used to, so when I saw the trailer for Napoleon I was onboard all the way. I am no history buff, but I like to show my support for the genre and thankfully it's not a case of where you have to be extremely familiar with the military career of one Napoleon Bonaparte to understand everything presented. The film begins with the french revolution and the execution of Marie Antoinette and concludes with Napoleon's exile to Saint Helena, covering his marriage, his crowning as emperor, his campaigns against Britain and Prussia, and his days in exile. And from what I saw this was a huge undertaking for Ridley Scott, I mean not to say historical dramas are box office bombs by a stretch but it is a risky venture mainly due to the budget. I have no idea what the budget was but it showed a lot in terms of set production, costumes, and volume of extras which is what is to be expected from a film like this! It's directed well, the movie has moments where you are just in awe, the cast is proper good, and keeps a brisk pace where the film doesn't feel like it's pushing 3 hours. It's a farcry from an all out action film, but man I gotta admit to you I haven't felt that sense of amazement and just plain blown away by the scale of the battles scenes here since shit like, Return Of The King easily. Not necessarily in terms of awesomeness but through sheer scaling. It looks real, they really went to a field and got hundreds of people to take opposite sides and charge in. They use CG but only if it's absolutely needed, and it felt appropriately big. The politics were handled very economically to sum it up, they give you the necessary information in a concise and short manner to understand why historical world events occured. And even as a straight up newbie when it comes to french history, I recognized events and names even without knowing the full context. Joaquin is effective, he has that star power where you lock in on him and he does carry the film throughout, it's not so much a character study on Napoleon and rather a short biographical look on his command. Vanessa Kirby as Josephine is such an interesting character who you don't really know that much about but it makes want to learn about her, because she really is this average woman who gets thrown into being the literal empress of France and her subsequent fall from that grace, you kinda want to delve into that historical text but she does very well and has...maybe intentionally and bizarre chemistry with Joaquin. Odd customs and behaviors and mindsets are to be expected when you travel in the fourth dimension. Bit of an ensemble cast of minor players but all did solid work. I quite liked it, it certainly did not disappoint, and I feel it can hold people's interest if they have any to see it. I do give it a recommendation, and 3 stars, 8/10! One more film before the winter of my discontent begins.

Friday, November 17, 2023


Holy shit. Holy shhhhit!

I am so sorry this was as late as it was and I'm desperately gonna attempt to keep this coherent, but there is so much to talk about and not tread into spoiling everything so with that let us begin. We knew this show was coming, we knew it would be all about finding Ezra and Grand Admiral Thrawn, and still and STILL it gave us fans so much to be entertained by and love! Son of a krayt dragon, where do I even start? Literally before act one scene one I was a happy boy seeing a red Lucasfilm logo and red text crawl. We are quickly introduced to our principal protagonosts and antagonists, Ahsoka and Sabine after a falling out in jedi training reconvene with hopes of finding Ezra Bridger and stopping Thrawn's return after retrieval of an ancient map, while Morgan Elsbeth hires two...I have no damn clue what to call them cause they're not mercenaries and they're not sith and I dare not even call them dark jedi, Lord Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati who are looking to traverse to a galaxy far far away to retrieve the Chimaera and it's captain as heir to the Empire. Now I actually only have one singular qualm with this show and even then it really isn't all that much but I wonder how does Ahsoka know the map she finds leads to the precise location of Thrawn? I know it's a simple Macguffin and there is indeed a time gap between when Din met Ahsoka and now so whatever, just a nitpicky thing. And for a show that's only 8 episodes long with varying runtimes for each episode, what it juggles and how the story progresses ain't half bad. It's quite tentative how each link gets Ahsoka and Sabine closer to Ezra but far from plot breaking, and I can see that some might claim the show to be slow and it is indeed far from action packed but I feel that's necessary for the story that needs to be told. There's a lot of character backstory and baggage that gets sorted, and yeah it's damn near pivotal to see Star Wars Rebels to fully get the picture. You can still watch this show uninitiated but I don't feel like it would have as much of a draw or impact, it's essentially a fifth season of a television show just swapping from animation to live action. I mean they do a competent job getting across what each character is like and their history with one another but it's one thing to infer from it and another to experience it. Now that being said they got some fuggin' GOOD actors to play these roles, and I'll tell you something right now I can't imagine being the casting director for this because not only do you have to pick the best candidate but you also got to get the right looking person to be this animated character come to life. That is unbelievably difficult but they pulled it off in spades for my money's worth. Rosario gets to finally spread her wings and explores the boundaries of this fan loved character and delves into her psyche a bit, you see an arc with Ahsoka as she gets some very much needed closure and acceptance of her past. Natasha couldn't be more of a dead ringer for Sabine Wren if she tried and effortlessy captures the still rebellious sassy attitude that masks some grief and pain, she was an easy sell for me. Mary Elizabeth Winstead did take a hot second for me to get as Hera but once we were there all was well, she takes way more of a mom stance and while she does have her son Jacen around you can tell she wants to get Ezra back after so long too, and she ain't taking no nonsense from certain republic senators, so I say rock on. Okay this is gonna go on for a minute but fuck it, Ray Stevenson...good God. This is a greater tragedy than Darth Plagueis, the fact he never got to see the fans adore his character and even greater the fact we won't see him again continuing the quest of Baylan Skoll, it just hurts man. Del Rey books, Pablo Hidalgo, whoever I need to make a case to, please for the love of all things grand and amazing make a book on Baylan Skoll, either his break off from the Order and how he found Shin or a continuation of where we see him last or friggin' both! Baylan Skoll jumped up to my second favorite Star Wars character of all time in just 8 episodes (sorry Kylo I still love you) and I'm pretty sure I could write an entire character study on him but to keep it brief, he is a strong enigma but the best way I can describe him is he seems to put the emphasis on knight in former jedi knight, we really don't know what his endgame is though we get hints and breadcrumbs but he was perfect from beginning to end. I fell so head over heels for this character I fashioned my Halloween costume after him. Just wow, 12/10, 200/100, goddamn it I miss you Ray. Ivanna Sakhno though we don't get a firm grasp on her character's standing in the larger scale of the story, was an effective villain and my lord the eye acting of this woman was nothing short of phenomenal and pants wettingly terrifying. And I know a good sect of the internet who wants Shin and Sabine to be an item, I hold no grudge against that so I'm rooting for your dreams over there you romantic oddballs. Big time plot twist with Morgan Elsbeth played by Diana Lee Inosanto, turns out she got some Nightsister blood in her even though we had no inkling to believe so beforehand, but they fiddle and change stuff all the time in Star Wars you get used to it. But it's really damn cool to see her have such a prominent role from basically a cameo in The Mandalorian, she even gets to flex her sword fighting skills and I'm just happy to see her back in this role. Now if you go back and read my Mando season 2 reviews there was a little breakdown moment over the mention of a Chiss strategist by the name of mothertrucking Grand Admiral Thrawn so you would think I'd practically launch myself from my chair into the stratosphere upon his arrival but I kept quite a icy cool demeanor like the man himself, mainly because it was just a given. Of course we're gonna see Thrawn, of course we're going to see the star destroyer Chimaera, everything is proceeding as I have forseen, so it wasn't a matter of if we're going to see Thrawn but rather when are we going to see Thrawn. I mean can you believe it took over 30 years for this character to make the jump to live action? Heir To The Empire came out in 1991, we've had Thrawn in games, in comics, in animation, damn near every medium except live action until this year. Of course I'm utterly thrilled they got Lars Mikkelsen to do the performance rather than just dub his voice, and you can indeed see he is having the time of his life playing this role to the max in person and it's everything you both expected and wanted from it. I barely have to talk about him because you know it's great, I know it's great, the New Republic is gonna get wrecked and that's great! I genuinely do hope we get a second season of Ahsoka, I know Dave is gearing up for a film and that's wonderful but there clearly is some things to resolve by the end of this season, so please and thank you Lucasfilm. It's kinda mental how good the production is here, it really does seem like each show just keeps getting better in quality of effects to where you kinda forget it's supposed to be a TV show, the costumes are beautifully realized, the sets go from intricate to sprawling and look grand, the fight choreography feels in touch with each character and has some directorial flourishes which I love, we get a lot of emphasis on ships and space so obviously they excel at that over at ILM, it's just proper good production. Plus there's just a lot of new ground that was broken that I never thought Star Wars would do, I mean they have the balls to push the setting to a galaxy even farther away and yet it still feels appropriately Star Wars. If I had to pick favorite episodes, there's no bad episode for sure, they space each one out to where nothing ever feels like filler, that's a tough decision because there are solid candidates and I'm split on episode five and the finale for two very different reasons but I will go with the finale because they throw a lot of cool stuff at you and you want to see how it all ends and it leaves you with ample questions for next time. Regardless you're in for a treat with this show, I have no friggin' clue what the next Star Wars show will be, my want for The Acolyte is unrivalled so fingers crossed for that! Final scores I give it 4 stars, 8.5/10! And I shall return next week for a historical drama so stay tuned. Long live the Empire.

Friday, November 10, 2023

The Marvels

It really isn't as bad as people made it out to be.

True it is more on the average tier of the MCU a.k.a. the vast majority of the MCU, but terrible or bad are far from the terms I would use to describe this movie. Again, totally haven't kept up with recent Marvel events so if you're looking for an in depth, wide spanning, informed Marvel review this ain't it. So we essentially pick up where Ms. Marvel ended with Carol, Kamala, and Monica meeting up and teaming up to combat...I'm really not sure if I'm supposed to know this villain or not, I'm a grandad you gotta bear with me here and help an old man out, Dar-Benn which is a quite suitable alien name. In fact the movie focuses on the alien sci-fi aspect of it all which I quite liked, just to see weird shit I'm pretty much there for it. Now that kinda dips it's toes into the problem pool doing so and I might as well get the few negatives out real quick. The movie kinda goes on tangents, not many granted but certain scenes play out for a hot minute and you're like, "Uh guys, there literally is a global crisis going on. Could we maybe get back to that a bit?". No horseshit Jack, our group arrives on a sea planet where everybody communicates in song and it gets super Broadway musical very fast, don't get me wrong I loved it and appreciated how quirky the sci-fi is presented here but it really was this off beat moment waiting for the plot and action to catch up with our heroes. That's kinda the other thing, the movie feels a bit off. I don't think I can quantify it much but certain things landed, certain things crashed, and others just kinda floated in space. Maybe it was because the movie has a fairly quick pace, it barely sits still and things get resolved somewhat easily somewhat quickly, and if this isn't the shortest Marvel movie it has to be the runner up. I swear the runtime says one hour and forty five minutes, it feels barely over 90 minutes when credits start to roll. Now I will say it doesn't move too fast, and you think this dynamic that each of our protagonists share similar powers and can essentially swap places in space would make it a bit confusing and hard to follow when the action kicks in, but thankfully not! The action is always dynamic and interesting, it's shot and edited well enough to where it never reaches that point where you don't even know what the fuck is happening, so kudos on that sincerely! The acting is good, though the heart and soul is and forever shall be Iman Vellani, but man it was bugging me because I knew I saw Zawe Ashton someplace before and ohh Doctor Who actor as a Marvel baddie strikes again! I'll admit there was some really cool and beautiful shots peppered throughout the film, the effects and direction were handled nicely for sure. I don't know where to fit this in the review but my favorite scene was honest to God the most hilariously disturbing and weirdest sequence I've ever seen in a movie that wasn't a horror picture, like you'll know it exactly when you see it. It was a stroke of genius but like if it was the most underplayed stroke of genius I've ever seen. So there were indeed positive elements, but it is kind of a mixed bag that I can easily see people trash or like a good deal. And the only way you'll know is if you see it! For me personally it's a decent film that I recommend you see at least once. 2.5 stars, 6.5/10! I got something important for you next week that I probably should have reviewed earlier but Halloween time is the busiest time so stay tuned for that!

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Ms. Marvel

Back on the Marvel stuff and wonder upon wonders I actually quite liked it!

Now I have to preface this with the fact that I was watching Ms. Marvel as it was coming out over a year ago but I only got 2 episodes in and unfortunately life stuff was occuring so I never got to finish it. But from what I saw it was a cute, fun, more easy going experience in the Marvel universe and knowing The Marvels was coming out I decided to finish what I started. So how was the other 4 episodes that I hadn't seen yet? Very good stuff, again I think the reason why this show worked so well for me I can pin down to about three elements. Point the firste, it's so ground level superhero origin stuff there really isn't this global or galactic conflict Kamala Khan is forced to combat, there are indeed villains and we will touch on that I assure you but mainly it's about her getting a grasp on her abilities. Point the seconde, it's a very light show with frequent visual flourishes and a lot of humor but also surprising amounts of heart to it, there truly was several more quiet moments that really had tears well up in my eyes. Thirde and finally, I have no issue saying that Iman Vellani is my perpetual ray of sunshine and happiness in this world, she is a delight and a treasure that must be guarded with the ferocity of Smaug himself, there ain't no better casting for this character. But yeah that really is the plot of this short series, high school adorkable lead Kamala Khan is a big superhero fan and on finding a mysterious bangle gains unexpected powers and it more or less charts her search for answers. Of course not to spoil or divulge everything but the more she learns about the bracelet the more she also learns about her family's past, and being a teenage girl there is some strife and rebelliousness between her and her parents that gets reconciliated with. It really does make me think, what if this show came out years ago? I hear a lot about superhero fatigue in this moment of time and rightfully so, but I feel it also lends more negative reception to more recent projects that have come out that don't necessarily deserve it. I choose not to see every Marvel movie or show because it is so much, whereas DC is a bit spaced out so I don't have that fatigue. I had it once in September of 2020 and I don't wish to feel it again. So when I watched this show I had great love and interest to the end, in fact there was only one aspect I truly just did not like and it's a common thread with these Marvel movies. I feel there was too much pulling in different directions with the villains, they could not form a consensus on who the antagonist should be, cause we got three of them and not a one was good. You think oh this new government body is going after Kamala to capture her and do no doubt dasterdly things to her, but then they get pushed to the side for this group of not Eternal inter-dimensional beings that goes somewhere for a hot second before getting wrapped up, and then last two episodes we got another super powered kid uncontrollably lashing out for the newly developed persona of Ms. Marvel to deal with. It really was the low point for me. Everything else though? Characters, story direction, costumes, the culture of Pakistan, the effects (mostly get a pass), the writing, the dynamics between characters, all were rock solid. I can't remember the last time I had such unshakeable love for comic book characters on such a scale. Kamala, 12/10, my heart and soul. Bruno, technical genius and best friend, marvellous. Kamala's dad Yusuf, best dad in all of Marvel, stand up guy, flawless! Even Muneeba who starts off as a controlling mom has an arc, she has reasons and depth to her, you get where she's coming from, and is still lovable. All the details of pakistani and muslim culture, from the food to the clothes to the customs is fan-flippin'-tastic to see because I'm just a sucker for seeing places around the world and learning about other people's ways of life that I would not normally get the chance to see. There genuinely is a lot of thought and emotion being displayed throughout and it certainly doesn't feel forced, the writers knew what story they wanted to tell and what details would give the most punch. I mean it touches on the Partition of India for God's sakes, that's some heavy shit for a children's superhero show. But it works. I was very happy to watch this show, and yeah I have a glimmer of hope for The Marvels. I like Carol's movie, I love Kamala's show, I'm absolutely gonna walk in with an open mind Friday and I'll tell you all about what I think. For this little series I give it 3.5 stars, 8/10! Until next time.

Friday, October 27, 2023


Probably the most middling Rob Zombie movie I've seen.

Far from bad, do not get me wrong this is not a bad movie, and if history has taught us anything I can really dig the shit out of Rob Zombie's films but this one is just okay. It's weird, I've more heard of plots similar to this movie than actually seen. So a group of people get abducted and are used for more or less sport by wealthy elite, as they are hunted by a group of psychopaths and try to survive. Pretty damn simple premise, not to many frills or quirks like in other of the director's efforts. It was an entirely crowdfunded production of 1.5 million buckaroos, and I feel it was made wisely with most exteriors being shot on desolate roads while interiors are at this I don't even know what. This...complex that's a good term, where the hunt begins. Granted they got a spectacular set for the wealthy creeps who get their kicks from this, very boujee and bathed in red, I was super impressed by it. And the effects though not as extensive as say The Devil's Rejects or Halloween are just naystay and blood soaked enough to get the job done. I wasn't entirely sure who was gonna make it out alive, save for Sheri who actually has the beginning arc of a killer that could almost be a origin story for Baby but it's a bit open ended before credits. My guy Jeff was awesome, it's kinda odd though seeing him as Herman Munster first then going back and seeing him cuss like a sailor but hey it was great to see him. Malcolm McDowell is our big wig (literally) villain for this sick game and while not on screen a lot is a joy to see and you can tell he's having fun playing it. Standout performance, Richard Brake as one of the hired killers Doom-Head, he is so damn gripping and fascinating to watch. Cause he's this sick fucked up in the head murderer, but he has intelligence and knowledge of history and grace in his movements but he'll still call you a **** and slice you up like a ham. I dare say watch it just for him! It's a solid production, with a good cast, and while the story ain't that much you can still get something out of it. Hell I am taking away 3 things from this, 1. Apparently Halloween is when most people go missing, please be safe out there, 2. There was a great quote "I found that the best of times happens exactly at the point when we lose track of them." I never thought of it like that before but that's quite true, 3. Another quote which follows the last "We must train ourselves to extend the moment and learn to live." that's a pretty strong mantra for life! It just struck me and I shall have to remember that. But moving on to final scores here, I give it 2.5 stars, 6.5/10! And we only got one more Rob Zombie film to review in the future so that'll be fun. Alas it is time to take one last bow for the most wonderful time of the year, eleven's hour is over now and the clock is striking twelve. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

In Retrospect: Halloween Ends

This might get long.

Sooo what do we think of Halloween Ends one year later? Well if you go back and read my opening day review, I certainly didn't hate it, was vague on certain aspects, and I had notes to expand on. Watching it again has consolidated my opinion on it. You couldn't dream or ask for a more divisive horror film in the modern era and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if people were still split today, but that's kinda Halloween Ends. It is a mixed bag of different stuff so it's totally okay if you have mixed opinions on it. But I know exactly what people have grievances on, the lack of Michael Myers and the character of Corey which in and of itself is connected. Yes, Michael Myers is barely in it. It takes 40 minutes, a third of the film roughly for him to even show up, and he has about 4 scenes. I get it! I really get it, that seems bait and switchy as shit for fans of this series, you see a Halloween movie for Michael. There is so much to unpack I genuinely don't know where to begin here. Like it or not, Corey is our main character. Now Laurie has a place in the story, they don't sideline her like in Halloween Kills, and Jamie is great in this last bow. You may recall in my initial review I alluded to Halloween 5, specifically a pre-production idea that got scrapped where little Jamie Lloyd was going to be the killer after the cliffhanger of part 4, no Michael present it was just her offing people. Well they did it, just with Corey instead of Jamie. I'm mixed on this idea. I was one of the few people who liked what Kills did with the story and the mentality of Haddonfield, and they do push further into that territory. It's different, it's unique, and not half badly executed. You can see both the landscape of Haddonfield and the mental state of this young man in either a supernatural lens where the evil has infected and plagued the town and leaped or perhaps transferred from Michael to Corey, or you can just see it through a psychological lens where a lot of bad shit has happened to this town and this man and through so much trauma it starts festering and being destructive. That is interesting stuff that I've never heard of in film or real life where killings have happened and you examine the shockwave of it. Yet the question inevitably comes up of, but did it have to be told this way? Did we need Corey to be this surrogate serial killer? Couldn't we have just had Michael do his thing? My main question is, what was the intent? Cause with this movie, whatever details of the story and characters come up I can understand it...but only about half of it. There is a fair bit I do not get what they were thinking or trying to get across. Now I must repeat, I don't fundamentally hate the idea that Corey becomes a killer whether through psychological abuse or re-run of Jamie getting the evil rubbed off on her, but it has eventual hitches. I was scared shitless there was going to be barely any Michael Myers in this movie, but then the ending happened and I was content. But again, did it need to be like that? There is no black and white with this picture, there is no clear good or bad aspects because it's such an almost masterfully concocted mix of both! Every point I comment on has an addendum. What's funny is the movie almost is meta on it's commentary because it states at several points people either embrace hate or learn to move on, that evil can be an external or internal force a lá John Carpenter's tribe story, that evil never dies it just changes shape. Now some people could interpret all that as the movie trying to be pretentious, overly clever, and "deep", and others would see it as simple facts of this world that we see Laurie live in. Which do you stand on? I' the middle. I don't like certain aspects and have questions on why they did what they did, but I also like a fair bit too and am happy they ended it. Oh yeah, let's talk the ending. Holy shit! Michael Myers is dead as shit, a brutal killing by Laurie followed by almost literal funeral procession, culminating in his body getting eviscerated by metal grinders. You don't get more dead than that! Beautiful! Perfect! They fucking finally ended it conclusively. You get a lot of points for that movie! And if nothing else people can be shall we say selective of movie series, it ends at Halloween 2, it ends at 20 Years Later, oh Halloween 3 isn't a part of the series, etc. etc. So who says it can't happen here? Yeah Michael burned in the house in the 2018 Halloween, there! No further explanation needed. Head canon is neat huh. So take from it what you will. I still have respect for the filmmakers in going this direction even if not everything worked perfectly, they wanted to inject some intelligence and some new life into a very tired, broken down, formulaic horror series. There is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Wrong with that. It was not what people wanted for the big finale, but I can live with that. This is however going to be the first time ever that an In Retrospect has actually decreased the score, the new rating is now 2 stars, 6/10. You really can't have other people make the opinion for you on this movie, you just gotta see it again and make your own. Rob Zombie movie next time.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Cemetery Man

Uhhhh, oookay then.

Yet another film that's been on the list for October reviews since nearly the beginning, and boy is it a strange one. You can summarize it either super concisely or so convolutedly it'll make your brain spin, but just for the sake of brevity here's the short version. The groundskeeper and gravedigger of a cemetery named Francesco Dellamorte lives a quiet life, he attends to funerals, chats with his one friend in the city, and every 7 days after a funeral blows the rising dead's head open. It doesn't explain why zombies appear or what causes it, it's just another day at work for Mr. Dellamorte. And it only gets friggin' weirder from there man. A lot happens, love is lost and found again, murders start cropping up, the grim reaper arrives in person, it is so fuggin' WEIRD! The film has a very dry dark sense of humor but it's not prevalent from start to finish, it more has it's moments peppered throughout and you almost start laughing from the absurdity of it all. Rupert Everett is a name I'm familiar with from more of his movies after this, and I know some people may criticize his deadpan delivery but I feel that was a concious decision by the director and it works to the film's advantage. The romance between him and Anna Flachi who we never learn the name of her character strangely, is bizarre to say the least but she has a fair bit to work with and is very nice to look at but I won't dwell on that. François Hadji-Lazaro as Francesco's bumbling assistant Gnaghi just adds to the surrealness of the picture and got the most laughs out of me. The director's style for this film is what helps give it a lot of unique charm, if I had to equate it to something similar I'd say it has this Robert Rodriguez' El Mariachi mixed with Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 sort of vibe, it's unique even today. What compounds the weirdness further is it's an italian production made in Italy and yet every actor speaks english, and I don't mean they dub an actor from italian to english I mean every actor is fluent in english. Cemetery Man is the States title and the title in Italy is DellaMorte DellaMore, so it's slightly confusing. It's a rare and almost unidentifiable beast of cinema and it no doubt has it's cult audience. From the dreamlike story that doesn't rely heavily on logic, to the quite great special effects, to the oddball humor, to the just plain what the funk style of the direction, it's a trip to watch. It may seem predictable near the beginning and you may even think it goes a certain direction at one point, but naw man. You ain't seen nothing yet. Just seriously give this a watch! I'm still questioning whether all that I have seen was real or just the by product of a very tired strung out mind, so let's get this fucker in the can. Again kinda hard to find on video but you can snag a high quality version on YouTube if you search for the italian title. 3 stars, 7.5/10! And it is most certainly time to look back and expand upon a most divisive film. Next time let's talk about Halloween Ends.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Embodiment Of Evil

What the hell was that?!

Jesus! I'm kinda flabbergasted at this movie, I mean it was good but uh, I recommend a strong stomach for it. Well I guess Marins got to throw up a big middle finger 40 years later to the censor board cause not only is Coffin Joe alive and well, but his contempt for the cross is higher than ever. So after spending four decades in a sanitarium Zé do Caxão returns to the modern day big city and goes on an abducting rampage with the help of a cult in his honor to spread his seed, while several characters who has ties to his murderous past join forces to kill him once and for all. The first thing I gotta say is, it is so damn weird seeing Coffin Joe in the same regalia walk the streets of modern day Saõ Paulo, it almost slips into fish out of water territory more for the viewer than the story because it's just so out of place though the story continues business as usual. Secondly, whoa dude this may be the most fucked up horror movie I've ever seen. Now I need to state clearly, I haven't seen films like the Saw series or Hostel so the torture scenes presented here are truly horrific and just made my jaw drop, I was sooooo not prepared for any of this! The nudity also skyrockets, you pretty much see everything on multiple women almost straight through to end credits. I mean jeez, this series just gets more hardcore with each entry. Major applause for both the effects artists and performers respectively, this shit is gruesome and the ladies deserve some respect. José Mojica Marins hasn't lost his touch in all this time, and all the trademarks are still present of his character from the violence to the mental freak outs. I'm happy he got to give a definitive end to his character and was able to make the movie he wanted to make without interference. I'm also greatly curious as to what the fanbase is like in Brazil and how much this series has impacted the culture there. Technicals are on a strong foundation, still keeping it's independent style while looking very modern. I'm still kinda floundering here guys, I just wasn't ready to get hit with such a finale to the point where I just don't know what else to talk about. It's a very good movie and albeit far from everyone's taste has it's place in horror history along with the other two films, and I do recommend it if you want something out of your wheelhouse. A lot of horror fans in America in this day and age traverse to foreign countries for their horror films, and I hope I contributed to get South American cinema some more love. Watch this if you're brave enough and get ready for a trip. 3 stars, 7.5/10, with just one more week of reviews before I return to my crypt.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse

Damn. Proper good sequel!

It is almost night and day the difference between all aspects of production from the first and second film. Far from trashing the values of I'll Take Your Soul, I very much liked the almost homebrew production and technicals but I'll Possess Your Corpse is practically overflowing with greater values. A wide and extra filled cast, a worthy and superior continuation of the story, and pretty clean film stock showing off the location and sets. The story goes somehow through a tenative stretch, Zé do Caixão survived his brush with otherworldly spirits and also is acquitted of any potential murder charges as well and settles back into his life still with the goal of becoming a father in his tunnelvision sights. He ups the ante too, instead of hopping from one woman to the next he abducts a group of women at the same time in the worst season of The Bachelor I've ever seen, to pick out the woman just right for him. And the weird thing is it works. Twice. Don't ask me how, I'm as alien on the subject of love as I am an alien on this planet! Seems women are more than happy to throw themselves at him this movie, and in an equal and opposite reaction the townsfolk are forming mobs at every turn to bring Zé to justice. It is far from simple and clean storytelling, I am profoundly eating my words of last review cause this is a kinda complex, scheming, machinating plot that is woven through several characters who all have their goals and personalities, and I gotta admit it worked very well! The film pushes closer to 2 hours and barely wastes a second of it, Marins is always progressing the story and even the identity of Coffin Joe. In less than the first 10 minutes of the film he saves a kid from being run over, his passion for childbirth reaches a fever pitch, he comes to terms with some of his actions and once again is visited by supernatural forces, still despises religion though, and makes a most unexpected character choice right at the end. In the most shocking moment of the film he has a nightmare about literally being dragged to Hell and comes face to face with the torments and landscape of it, and you know I'm not a profoundly religious person but that whole scared straight shit is true, like I promise to be as good of a person as I can be after seeing that damn scene! It's the most outrageous and yet disturbing version of Hell I've ever seen and shot in stark and vibrant color, the rest of the film is classic black & white, which adds even more to the experience of it. And the finale took me severely aback and apparently it wasn't even in the script, Brazil's censor board made Marins change the ending entirely and you'll know exactly what they changed when you see it. Sure you can absolutely show bewbs, the freaky world of Hell itself, and some pretty ruthless deaths, but further sacrilege to the name of Deus? No can do buster. It's the only truly bad thing I can say about the movie and it's no foul on Marin's part! But other than that this is a great sequel honestly! I love it, I have no problem saying it's superior to the first film, and if the first Coffin Joe movie didn't have your full attention and you wanted more from it this is the movie for you. I give it 4 stars, 8/10, and we're doing a biiiig time leap from 1967 to 2008 with the final part of the trilogy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul

The year is 1964. The place is Brazil. And this is the first horror movie from that country.

Once more Cinemassacre's Monster Madness introduced me to this trilogy of films directed and starring José Mojica Marins as Zé do Caixão or as he's known in the States, Coffin Joe. It's kind of amazing to see a piece of world history like this and it would be the first film I ever saw from either Brazil or South America, and I'm very curious to see where this all goes. The plot is pretty basic involving a small town where our absolutely not protagonist resides Ze who is the resident coffin maker, as we see his cruel and unusually punishing tactics in trying to secure a woman who will birth to him a son to continue his bloodline. That's basically the whole movie, there's not a lot of frills but I don't expect a lot of complex storylines for a horror film and it's effectively discomforting and horrifying. Coffin Joe is a bastard with a capital B, like I haven't encountered a movie villain this heinous and fucked up I think in my life. He murders any opposition to his goal, maims and intimidates the townsfolk to the point where he can do whatever he wants, abuses and rapes women, and has a distinct hatred for religion. You are stuck with this guy the whole movie, and the film far from glorifies Zé but man is it rough to sit through! José plays it so straight almost to the point it doesn't seem like acting because he embodies the part so well, apparently they couldn't find a good fit so he just decided to do it himself so he had his work cut out for him both on and off screen. The cinematogtaphy and editing is extremely simple and yet at the exact same time ambitious, they went for a desired effect and shot even if it wasn't seamless in execution which I actually admire and praise. You'd be surprised how little background information there is for this film, so who knows what brought the idea to mind, what the production was like, hell even the release and legacy are a bit foggy even in today's trivia soaked culture. You'd think for a movie made in 1964 it wouldn't be that shocking and gruesome, even more so considering the part of the world it was made in where censoring was common and wide ranging depending on the film, but it's pretty hardcore in it's potrayal of body mutilation alone then you throw in the abuse and rape and it gets even more extreme though you don't see any nudity. I'm almost convinced the greatest offense taken back then was the sacreligious standing of the main character, a true defining trait that at first I chalked up to atheism because Zé states he has no belief, but then it shows he has great contempt for religion, it's symbols, and considers the followers of the christian religion cowards and fools. The only belief he really has is creating an extension of his bloodline, having children as a sort of quasi-immortality. And I suppose if you wanted to you can give him at least one good point, he sees a father about to strike his son and he intervenes and says no parent should hit their child for they are the continuation of your family and the future of the world, so hey he won't beat his kids but he'll absolutely fuck with their mother any chance he'll get. Ummmm....priorities?? Yeah he's pretty irredeemable. I actually quite like the look of the film, it's fairly low budget and is extremely candid of the environments, it's interesting. It's a pretty rough time trying to find a copy I'll tell you that, the old box set is pricy and the recent giant collected release of all three films is not any better price wise, but if you're a hardcore fan of these movies the new collection by Arrow seems just the ticket. And for everybody else, you can find an acceptable quality video on YouTube. Not too sure how a sequel could come about given the ending but that's what we'll look at tomorrow. I give this 3 stars, 7.5/10!

Friday, October 13, 2023

The Masque Of The Red Death

What a pick for Friday the 13th. Sometimes my genius it''s almost frightening.

A fairly strong point to end the week on as well, I greatly enjoyed this movie. And huzzah, I've actually read the source material on this and while admittedly it is a loose adaptation it gets the gist well enough. Set during the dark ages a cruel and heinous prince named Prospero holds a lengthy and degenerate feast and masque, while the countryside is being plagued by a terrible disease where he takes a young woman named Francesca, her lover Gino, and her father Ludivico for the purposes of "entertainment". They make some big changes though, originally the prince set up the ball to distract from thr horrors of pestilence and disease sealing himself and his court in the castle while here the prince is a straight up satanist and revels in the showing of such impure and fiendish behaviors to the innocent Francesca. Vincent Price is a bastard in this movie, he plays it really well but Prospero is beyond horrible and makes a great villain who essentially is our main character to the end. Jane Asher as Francesca is just a poor girl who gets whisked away and has to keep her faith while Prospero either tries to convert her or sacrifice her, it can be read either way, and you want to see her get the hell out of this damned castle. There's a fairly bigger cast than previous Corman films but I want to give some major love to John Westbrook who plays the eponymous Red Death, the look alone is incredibly simplistic and yet so classic and striking but his voice is outstanding, understanding the value that truly powerful and menacing figures need not even raise their voice. Speaking of striking, the color is unreal in this movie, I'm not sure what the technicals were but they used a good deal of saturation and had no issue using a wide palette. They used the imagery of rooms with various hues, why? Color. They use candles of green and blue, why? Colour. You see many personifications of death in a kaleidoscopic fashion, why? Couleur. It's a spectacle practically of seeing so many extras in various regalia merrymaking, but it doesn't lose it's horror basis. Just seeing acts of cruelty being brushed off as a good or acceptable thing is disturbing enough, throw in devil worship, another weird dream scene bathed in blue, the literal specter of a gruesome and hellish death sweeping across the castle, even if you want to get all philospohical and see the juxtaposition of faith in God against Prospero's belief that war, plague, famine, and death rule the world with no good things to be found and that the belief in God is nothing short of a farce is pretty screwed up man. I almost fully believe this is a tale that could be remade today in all seriousness, maybe not with the backdrop of recent world events but...I'm not saying. I'm just saying. Look at this movie, look at today. Onwards we trek, so production values are surprisingly expansive, acting is solid, story is a classic, and I feel like a complete utter fool for not reviewing these way waaaaay earlier. I give it 4 stars, 9/10! Next week we're getting foreign, ooooh yeah!

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Raven

Not a traditional horror film per se, but this has been a favorite of mine and damn it I want to talk about it.

For the longest time this was the only Roger Corman Poe film I saw and I love it so, this ain't no objective film review so hunker down y'all as I spout off some opinions. This is also the loosest adaptation of any work of fiction I have ever seen, how do you make a feature film off of a short poem? The short answer, you don't. The long answer, you center the movie on magic wielding wizards consisting of Vincent Price as Erasmus who aids Peter Lorre as Dr. Bedlo who has been transformed into a raven by Boris Karloff as Dr. Scarabus, but Lorre wants revenge real bad so Vincent accompanies him to Karloff's castle where duels are challenged, dead wives return to life, and humor is peppered throughout. It is a really funny movie to me, that may throw people for a loop when most of the Corman movies of this time period are played straight and serious, but this was an intentional choice of the writers and works nicely. Now you don't get three of the biggest names in horror together in a film and say the acting is bad, Vincent is on a roll in this film from reciting the world famous poem, to the humor, to the magic wielding that would put Doctor Stephen Strange to shame, he's a 20/10. Boris Karloff nearing the end of his career has lost none of his ability, showing a lot of class and charisma while still being a good antagonist, and I'll level with you man the first lines he speaks do nothing but send shivers down my spine in a most eerie way. Peter Lorre while in actuality not as prolific in horror movie history as one might think is a welcome addition, delivering his rapid fire burning insults and wise ass remarks and while he is the lesser of the powers that be in this wizard triumvirate the movie would not be the same without him. For those in the know about Roger Corman's history, to see a very young Jack Nicholson before he got to super stardom is really neat to see even if he doesn't have that big of a role, and you see interviews of him being humbled to the point of tears in thanking Roger giving him a chance to act when no one else would and I have to express a lot of love and gratitude to him as well for getting so many people into movie making. I'm not a book critic by even a microscopic capacity but I recommend you read Corman's book, How I Made A Hundred Movies In Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime. Once again the sets and costuming are most impressive, and the effects while not exactly seamless have a strong charm all of it's own. And now comes the part where I say without a shred of irony or exaggeration, these wizard duels are better than anything Harry Potter ever gave us. No, I'm not kidding. No, I'm not taking it back. Don't @ me bitches! I adore it, there is creativity, humor, and ambition in how they did everything. I'll even push that envelope further and say 4 stars, 10/10! Watch it, buy it, love it. But we got one more to go before the week is out, until next time.

Monday, October 9, 2023

The Fall Of The House Of Usher

This has actually been on the list since it all began.

Several of the Roger Croman movies based on Edgar Allen Poe's works in fact, and this was the first and a pretty damn good one to start with. Now I haven't read the story, in fact it's a goal of mine to read all of Poe's work before the end, but it's an interesting story. A young man named Philip is visiting the estate of the Usher family to wed his fiancee Madeline and quickly is shut down by her brother Roderick, who claims the bloodline of the Usher family is wrought with terrible things and ailments, as Philip tries to escape the crumbling house with his lady friend. Once upon a time while I was still in high school we watched this film for our english class, but being as classes were barely an hour long I never fully saw the film until today and I was immediately loving it from the setting alone. For a film with not that large of a budget, the sets look incredible, the costumes are ornate, the atmosphere is simply to die for, and the use of color was not only a big step up for AIP but incredibly striking. Roger Corman had to convince the studio to give a bigger budget for a color film at that time, and he was an avid reader of the Poe stories since he was a kid so it was as much a passion project as well as a gamble but surprise surprise! This was the first of many movies Roger made from the stories of Poe and it was an immense success! And it's hard not to see why, you have a god tier level horror actor like Vincent Price delivering a very memorable performance, the moody sets and slow burn pace add a foreboding mood to an already foreboding story, the direction is effective, and it was made still during that special time when horror movies could be classic or modern. I don't really know why we don't see more movies like this today in the horror genre, everything has to be modern times or if they do go back it's primarily to the 80s, you never see a horror movie get victorian on your ass anymore and I feel that's a shame. How the movie just shows the house of Usher and the decrepit grounds is just beauty to my eyes, a lot of credit has to go to the set builders and cinematographer on this movie. I need not tell you Vincent Price is excellent in this role, it's a given, but how the character of Roderick genuinely believes there is nothing short of a curse on the family lineage can be felt quite easily and it is a striking performance. Mark Damon is a more conventional leading man but works nicely, Myrna Fahey has a bit more to work with and gets a moment to shine near the end, and Harry Ellerbe is a good ally character to Philip playing the manservant of the house. It's so difficult to describe, but when you watch the movie and you let the ambience and mood just wash over you, you absolutely buy it. Cause you know from the start something is off about the house and the people who live there, but even if you are a horror movie veteran you can't quite pin down what. And what's interesting is you could see this movie from two different angles, through science in terms of psychology as to why Roderick and Madeline are the way they are, or through a sheer supernatural lens and simply chalk it up to a haunted house or curse or whatever. It's an almost baffilingly effective film and it's a giant recommendation from me. It's almost a film that must be seen to be believed. 4 stars, I think I'm gonna give it a 9/10, and we got more Corman goodies to come.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Dracula (1992)

Yeah I'm pretty happy with this one.

I don't know whether or not the reception of this film has went up or down over the three decades since it's release, but I'm in the camp of liking it a good deal. Easily the most lavishly produced, faithful, and striking adaptation of the story in film, Francis Ford Coppola bet it all on this movie to save his sinking film company with a solid budget of 40 million and pulled in over 200 million when all was said and done, and I can understand why. True the movie leans a bit more into romance than abject horror, but it didn't bother me all that much. The stuff that is creepy, freaky, and just plain horrific had a strong effect on me. Never once in all vampire media have I ever cringed and shirked away from seeing a vampire consume blood, but the razor scene in this movie mm-mmm. No way, that creeped me right the fuck out man, gave me the heebie-jeebies! And the romance while assuredly dramatic I bought into, it strangely worked for me. Only a handful of details I noticed didn't make the jump from page to screen, but all the things that did make it give a lotta brownie points to this film! The production is batshit insane, I cannot believe the visuals in this movie, and to think everything was done in camera with next to zero post production or computer graphics work kinda blows my socks off. The sets, the costumes, the scope of it all, it's almost illegal how grand this movie looks. Star studded cast and I gotta just say real quick oh ho boy this is gonna be sacreligious, Gary Oldman had such a perfect voice and presence for what was required in this role. I know, Bela Lugosi is THE voice, he is friggin' Dracula as long as the world keeps turning. However! Gary got me creeped out, entranced, and invested. The hair at the beginning though, absurd. But I can't change it so I gotta live with it, and everything else was great about him. Winona Ryder as Mina was very nice, and I'm actually happy she has more of a role to play cause in all seriousness Mina and Lucy are barely even there in any adaptation. Anthony Hopkins was riding a high and beautiful wave in the early 90s due to Silence Of The Lambs and I did like him a fair bit, I mean this is the most exotic and foreign Van Helsing I've seen since Edward Van Sloan. Keanu my son, I'm thrilled you have a shining career nowadays and I understand you were burnt the hell out making this, so I will not trash you here but I do feel a different actor would have worked more. I do however wish we got more Cary Elwes, Richard E. Grant, and Billy Campbell as Arthur, Seward, and Quincey respectively cause well I'm a sucker for Cary and Richard, and huzzah Quincey is proper texan and was kinda awesome! I do find it hilarious though they had to cut about 20 minutes of gore effects out though the film was in no danger of getting a higher rating than an R, but they absolutely kept every breastises and charged erotic moment in this movie no problem. I mean I think they were in a moooood making this movie, my God Hammer wasn't this gratuitous and revelling in the sexy aspects, but here? Make sure the kids are in bed or out of the house before flipping this on. Lawd have mercy! Moving swiftly on. I really digged this movie, I loved the lavish design and tone, I was most definitely entertained, I give it 3.5 stars and an 8/10! Next week, it is high past time we pay our respects to the king of low budget pictures with his acclaimed and memorable Poe series.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Count Dracula (1970)

Big leap ahead to 1970 with another more accurate depiction of the novel.

Now obviously it's not a perfect adaptation, but Jesus Franco delivered a good enough adaptation of Bram Stoker's work. It's an interesting example of cinema, and I'll freely admit this is my first Jesus Franco film and the style is unique to me but also gives the film it's own personal feel. So we start off with Jonathan Harker making his way to the Borgo Pass to convene with the Count over the purchase of property in London, and it follows the book fairly well for that first section, hell it gets a giant gold sticky star for being the only adaptation of Dracula that fits the description of the count in the book, but this being a barely over 90 minute movie we move swiftly on to London as we are introduced to the rest of the characters. Jonathan's fiancee Mina, her best friend Lucy, Dr. John Seward residing physician at a mental hospital, Quincey Morris the love interest of Lucy, and Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. We're still following the no frills outline of the book and keep a steady pace, and not to go into the depths of detail and spoilers because you know this story, so let's talk about some details instead. I appreciate it being a period piece and the look of the movie while minimalistic works very well! The camera is the most interesting factor, you get a lot of handheld stuff, so many zooms it would be a dangerous drinking game, and panning shots which shows off the full scope of the sets and location. I've heard conflicting opinions on whether this was shot in Franco's native country of Spain or in Italy, but either way the castle, the classy interiors, and the distinctly old fashioned yet creepy exteriors look lovely. Easily, far and away, hands down, best Christopher Lee performance as Dracula, I was so taken aback by the amount of dialogue he had because it's a well known fact he refused to speak the dialogue in subsequent Hammer films, and it makes a world of difference. Speaking of Hammer, Herbert Lom is Van Helsing in this and it took me a good bit before I realized it was The Phantom Of The Opera before he got scarred by acid, a very serious and well spoken iteration of the character but not much else. I feel like an ass when I say stuff like this but...if Quincey Morris ain't texan then he ain't Quincey Morris, now am I saying I need this thick kountree accent or more southern idioms than you can shake a stick at? No sirree, but goddamn it that would tickle me pink and put a huge smile on my face because he is easily my favorite character in the entire book. Not to even slightly say the cast didn't do fine work, they did all the way through. It's not one of the most examplary versions of this classic literary character, but if you're a fan of vampire movies or more foreign-y films or movies of an older caliber it is worth seeing. They made a solid attempt at bringing the book to life, and did it in an interesting and entertaining way. So it's definitely a good movie, and if you don't want to take my word for it Christopher Lee himself said it was a fine effort. I give it 3 stars, 7/10, and Coppola's Dracula is next.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Dracula [Espãnol]

It feels like home again.

Wow, wow, wow let me tell you! I have heard about this for some time but seeing it for the first time I feel like a fool for not seeing it sooner. Now you may be wondering exactly what it is I'm reviewing here, well in short Universal Studios shot two versions of the 1931 classic Dracula, one for english and one for spanish speaking audiences. They used the same basic script but made changes here and there, the same sets, the same costumes, and the spanish crew shot during the night while the Lugosi version shot during the day. It is such a fascinating experience to watch this, because I've seen the Bela Lugosi version countless times since I was about 8 years old, I know that movie super well, so to see something oh so similar and yet very different the only way I can explain it is like if they remade the movie, not shot for shot, but did an even better job than the original! It was almost a game to see what elements they kept and what they changed. Yeah I am firmly in the crowd of the spanish version being superior to the vastly more famous version, but it might be hard for me to articulate why. The one big element that blindsided me was the fact that this movie pushes an hour and forty-five minutes for the runtime while the Lugosi version is an hour and fifteen minutes long, so you get a movie that takes it's time and has more room for slower moments, character moments, and flat out stuff that was not in the english version. In fact I was profoundly impressed with how much material from the book was presented, it makes the Lugosi version look so truncated and abridged in comparison. The movie is a bit more hardcore too, you barely see a damn thing in the english version and while that has it's own scary effect, you see the bite marks, you hear not one but two stakings, and not to sound piggish or anything but Lupita Tovar's dress is significantly more revealing than Helen Chandler's. I know Americans are kinda prudish and certainly during that time especially, but the spanish audience does not screw about and God bless them for it. I greatly loved the performances given here as well, Carlos Villarías is a very very good Dracula obviously making the role his own, but the way he carries himself and the facial acting gives a different edge to this Dracula, with Lugosi it's a creepy smile and careful lighting around the eyes but with Villarías he looks like he's about to tear people limb from limb and feast. Eduardo Arozamena as Professor Van Helsing I saw a good bit of Edward Van Sloan in, and he had a great presence with a strong worldy knowledge for our vampire hunter so a lot of love there. Lupita Tovar I actually got to see before the film, they had this short little interview probably shot in the 90s as she discussed her time making the picture and you could tell she had a lot of love and appreciation for the role, and she does damn good, truly stunning too I mean holy cow, the Count has very fine taste in ladies for sure. Pablo Alvarez Rubio as Renfield, good God I didn't think you could outcrazy Dwight Frye but the man is unhinged in this movie and I love every second of it, nothing but a glowing review of his talents from me. Even Barry Norton as Juan I felt was way better than David Manners' John, never to put down David's performance but he was just a teeny bit of a little bitch in Tod Browning's film but here he seems much more the unshakable heroic leading man. Again it's not the easiest thing to expound upon my points but if you have a back to back comparison viewing the results are as clear as daylight, hell if you watched this and Dracula's Daughter as a sort of introduction to golden age vampire films you'd have a grand time. I know I would! It is fully worth your time seeing if you're any fan of the Universal Monsters, Dracula, or horror films in general. I'm just so happy to be back if even for just a moment in time writing reviews again like I used to, but even more so now that I've seen this slice of cinema. Big time 4 stars, 8.5/10! And our business with Count Dracula is far from over and I will see you next time with a Christopher Lee Dracula film we haven't touched on yet.

Friday, September 29, 2023

BONUS: The Creator

This was one of the more anticipated movies for me.

Since the trailer I was curious to see what this movie would do, it's unnaturaly rare for a sci-fi movie to come out that isn't based on or continuing from some pre-established universe. Now, I saw tidbits and moments where it reminded me of something but science fiction has been my bread and butter almost from conception so it was bound to occur. But it is original and I know the American Movie quote applies to basically everything, "All your ideas have to come from somewhere, you can't think up an idea all on your own." but I'm pretty happy with it. Set in the year 2062 mankind and robots have been warring since a nuclear warhead was launched on Los Angeles (you'd be surprised how often that occurs) and tale of a secret weapon reaches the US military, who dispatch a soldier named Joshua who discovers the "ultimate weapon" is but a young robotic girl and pretty soon keeps the girl safe from harm as more or less the war comes to a head. That's actually being very unfair to this movie, because there is a lot that happens in this roughly two hour film, Joshua has his own motives and backstory which get expanded upon, you learn about the creation of the girl named Alpha, you don't entirely get a clear picture of this world and how robotics have factored into it since their inception yet it still works and crafts an interesting world. The movie is practically a drama with a sci-fi shell to it, there is a lot of emotion and heart showcased. There's almost too much to talk about, and granted most of it is good but I don't think I could accurately point it all out. The only bad thing I can say about the movie and even then it's a relatively small quibble is the movie has a small tone problem, it's like 97% serious and 3% silly but I'll take it. Just to name a few bits of reference I recognized that may help paint the picture more I saw bits of Blade Runner with it's architecture and animosity towards robots, actually a good bit of I Robot with how machines can evolve to become more than just a machine so a shared point with Blade Runner again and how one robot is deemed a savior by other robots, and I guess The Last Of Us with a grown adult protecting a child who can vastly affect the world but I'll admit I don't know much about that game series, I even saw a segment of The Animatrix in there. Yet it does do it's own thing with it, and I was fascinated and taken in with the world which I think is a tell tale sign of whether or not a movie is good, if you can get immersed and want to know more I consider that a success. John David Washington is a good lead and easily identifiable with, the chemistry is good with Madeleine Yuna Voyles who plays Alpha they have a real good dynamic that blooms to the end, and he does act his heart out here. Madeleine is amazing, taking the concept of a sheltered child to new territory, she has a lot of charm and you do want to see the best possible outcome for her, it just works very well. The movie hinges entirely on our leads and they pull it off I feel. The effects work is quite impressive and it looks real enough showing both standard robots but also human robots, it's seamless how they handled it! I have no clue if more stories will be told of this world but it does have potential for more, if ever a comic book or animated show came around I'd be glad to pick it up. It's different enough for sci-fi fans and the concept of the ghost in the machine has always held my imagination in a firm grip, when does a perceptual schematic become conciousness? When does a difference engine become the search for truth? When does a personality simulation become the bitter mote of a soul? That my friends is the right question for our potential future. A solid recommendation to see it in the theater, 3.5 stars, 7.5/10!

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Halloweentown II

Fun to be back.

Yeah, I really could have bet my soul on the fact I reviewed Halloweentown 1 and 2 years back but here we are. And I gotta say I think I liked this one better, so it's been about a year in movie time with Grandma Aggie living with Marnie and the family before stuff starts going sideways in Halloweentown where our magical heroes set forth to save the town once more from, actually despite the full title of Kalabar's Revenge there is no Kalabar but rather his son. I actually quite like how the tone is much more consistent, you get your villain introduction and the inciting incident quite quick and the stakes do feel raised from the last movie. The production values have went up considerably, the acting is mostly good, it's concisely told, and while it was made purely for young children you could see a bit of dramatic weight with Marnie's situation. She's a lot more proactive and no nonsense in this movie which makes sense because Kimberly Brown was a bit older so the character would be more mature too, and I genuinely could see potential with her dilemma of either staying in the mortal world or staying in Halloweentown permanently. Of course Debbie Reynolds is still quite fun but takes more of a back seat in the plot, yet it really wouldn't be Halloweentown without her. I don't have a grudge against Daniel Kountz as warlock in training Cal who is our villain, he needs to play this kind of smarmy evil bastard and that's what he does but I feel he needed more material to work with to make it a good performance. Sophie and Dylan don't even get put in the backseat, they're practically thrown in the trunk which does kinda suck a bit because I like how they go about the magic business with Dylan, it's not so much a lack of belief or matter of faith in magic that keeps him from using it it's just that he relies too much on logic and reality to use magic, you just gotta have an open mind about it. The effects are decent, and I actually really gotta give props to the set designers with how Halloweentown is sapped of all life and festivity, giving everything a cold lifeless grayscale color pallete to both architecture and citizens, it's really damn cool looking almost noir-esque. I never really progressed past Halloweentown 2 in the series, I may have caught a bit of Halloweentown High a very very long time ago, but this was kinda it for me. But hey who knows, we may touch base on the other two films in the future. I give this movie a solid 3 stars, 7.5/10, and ohhh the things we will talk about next month. Bye for now...