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...

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Worst Witch

Maybe I spoke too soon on the whole cult movie thing.

Cause there are cult movies and then there are CULT movies, and I don't think it gets cultier than this. I'm sure I discovered this movie existed along with several other individuals through the magic of YouTube with Tim Curry's smash hit Anything Can Happen On Halloween and I decided sod it, let's see the movie. It's...humble. That's the best way I could describe it, it's a TV movie on a shoestring budget in the mid 80s, concerning a young but clumsy witch by the name of Mildred Hubble as she desperately tries to learn magic at a prodigious school. That's the basic gist and for a movie at a whopping 80 minutes, actually has a pretty decent pace and doesn't get super involved. It's really some Halloween fluff for young kids but has a bit of charm to it. I'm almost certain I would treasure this movie if I saw it around the age of 5, like I did with stuff like Halloweentown, and I know it is far far from everyone's taste but I actually quite liked it. I think the reason it worked so well for me is due to the cast, Fairuza Balk is great in this movie! She has so much heart and makes it all seem believable, she really did come into this with the best attitude and now I can say I've seen her in 2 witchy films. Diana Rigg is in the movie too, it's kinda wild how we got a quantum of star power into this, and likewise she plays it incredibly straight taking on a very genderbent Severus Snape role which I didn't quite know I needed in life but she's a treasure. It's actually kinda funny knowing Tim who plays The Grand Wizard is the best known part of the movie but he's maybe in it for a bit over 5 minutes, and it's even more hilarious cause every girl at this school, student or teacher, goes absolutely gaga for him! It was a different time, you could be like 9 years old and crush hardcore on a guy three times your age there was nothing weird about it back then. He is pretty majestic and God knows if I had the time and materials he would be my Halloween costume without question or doubt, and the song is magnificently bizzare in a way only the 80s could deliver. It's a extremely rudimentary film but if you like that sort of underground, buried, long forgotten sort of mood to productions where you can just get in the mindset and have fun with it, even if you see it just once you might like it a fair bit. The movie produced one of the most boisterously evil laughs of my life, and it was indeed unironically funny at times but for that alone it gets a gold sticky star from me. You can find the whole flippin' film on the YouTubes so if you need an hour to burn might as well see green screen witches flying about. 3 stars, 7.5/10, and tomorrow we get to a film that once again I could have sworn I reviewed years ago. Old age, it's not fun kids.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023


I liiiiiiiive!

You didn't think I was going to miss this would you? How could I not ressurect myself from the styggian abyss for the most wonderful time of the year? Coraline, a movie I could have sworn came out much earlier than 2009 and frankly I haven't seen it again in almost 15 years time (moving swiftly on from that fact), so how does it hold up? I truthfully feel this is the new stop motion cult classic focused on more spooky things, I mean Nightmare Before Christmas is waaaay too recognizable in this day and age to be a cult film anymore, and I really have not heard or seen anybody talk about this film at great length since it premiered. Oh it has a good standing and rightfully so, concerning a young pre-teen girl who after moving to a new house and finding not much to do or attention as well discovers a portal to a world where everything she wants happens buuut there's a catch to it all. It's kinda brilliant how the story takes on a straight up Grimm's Fairy Tales style with a central moral to the story but be made so recently and by Neil Gaiman no less! I'll admit I haven't read the source material so I can't fairly judge it as an adaptation, but as a film it's pretty dang good! This is the same animation studio that gave us Paranorman and Kubo And The Two Strings, and even back then Laika was delivering truly impressive and fantastic stop motion. The expressions, the environments, the movements all look superb and gives it a look no other film has. Dakota Fanning I feel didn't have to act all that much in this seeing as she was around the age of Coraline, she's got the attitude and personality and you really do get where she's coming from easily. As an only child myself it was easier to slip into a world all of my own too. I gotta give big time props to Teri Hatcher here, cause it didn't immediately click for me that she plays two roles, Coraline's mom and the perfect world mom, so she has quite a lot to play with and gets that dichotomy of overworked boring mom and affectionate magical mom, and I'll admit the origins of the perfect world do stir my imagination in part due to this character. Wasn't really expecting to see Keith David as a talking cat but hey this job surprises you often. Actually that's another thing entirely, I really did not remember a lot of the details about this movie since watching it as a young teen, I remembered Coraline with her blue hair, the magic garden, the buttons for eyes, but that was about it so it was close to watching the movie brand new again. And while the film only dips it's toes into the scary stuff it still kinda works effectively, it's not in your face horror from the word go but implied horror or for lack of a better term what I would call aftermath horror. Where you see the result or the after effects of something bad that happened, Aliens does this, certain modern horror games do this like Dead Space or Doom, and it's the imagination that you put into it that makes it scary. So it doesn't pull any punches but neither will it traumatize kids. It's a very fine balance between family film and scary movie which makes it perfect for this week. It's a very imaginative, creative, creepy, solidly good film that does deserve some more attention. I feel it's more a movie you hear in passing rather than focused on so I'm happy I could write a little about it. Give it a shot if you haven't already! I give it 3 stars, 8/10, and I will see you tomorrow for an even lesser known film.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Expendables 4

There is no way in hell I'm spelling the title the same way as the poster.

Okay guys I gotta level with you, the only reason I saw this movie in theaters, or truthfully ever, is through pure spite of the last movie. Yes I still hold unbelievable hate for that movie and was hoping against hope that this one would redeem the series for me. Did it succeed? Yes. Kinda. But not really. I'd take it over 3 but it only squeezed by like a notch, a gnat's wing. So story time, villain obtains detonators for nuclear weapon and wants to start World War 3 between America and Russia. Why? Because shut up I said so. Expendables get called in to sort the situation, action ensues. Fin. I never expect much in terms of story it's all about the action and spectacle, and while I can say it's handled with great economics in terms of settings and story, everything else is ehh. Acting is decent, I still say Dolph is the best part for me anyway. The action was actually okay, they brought the blood back, you get a good deal of fights throughout, and the choreography is pretty good. I know that special effects are just a tool, a means of telling a story but crikey this was harboring on PS3 graphics I mean it looked rough, some was decent but some ain't. I hate to say it but it doesn't feel much like a theatrical film, and hand over my heart it's not much of a rental either. And I was kinda giving it some points for the pre-title sequence, they have the balls to shoot a kid and kill off one of our big main characters but it very much gets hand waved away at the end and I did not like it one bit. Cause it seems to be moving forward, getting some new blood in, not afraid to kill off main characters, but it really doesn't do much in actuality. I know the point of The Expendables is a throwback to actionsploitation films of yesteryear, and I'm far from expecting cinematic revolution when seeing a new one, but you can live without this movie. I'd give it 1.5 stars, 5/10, and if I had to rank them in case this would be the last: 
1. Expendables 2, 2. The Expendables, 3. Expendables 4, 4. Expendables 3. 
I mean perhaps some people can get a bit out of it, but I wash my hands of this and am gearing up for a tiny comeback.

Friday, September 15, 2023

A Haunting In Venice

You know I never would have suspected this series of films would be day one theater attendees, but here we are again.

When I saw Murder On The Orient Express way back in 2017 I liked it a fair bit but kinda wrote it off as a one and done, then just last year (though it seems longer) Death On The Nile came around and I was fairly interested to see it, and I think at this point with A Haunting In Venice I'm just kinda here for the Poirot films. Hell the idea of a Poirot detective story set around some spooky stuff is pretty definitively up my alley, and I'm happy to say it delivers on both respects. The year is 1947 and Hercule Poirot is retired in Venice when on All Hallow's Eve is dragged into more or less debunking a famous medium but then wouldn't you know it, a murder occurs and I'll give the film a good bit of credit for this because the case is in such supernatural waters Poirot puts up his belief in God or not depending on if he can solve the case and see definite proof of spirits. I can't say I've ever heard a crisis of faith is determined on solving a murder case so points for originality. And the film gives a good bit of atmosphere, some spookiness, and mercifully not many jumpscares! The murder and investigation I'll admit is not airtight, the movie isn't quite 2 hours so we get a lot of motive and backstory in fairly quick succession almost at the drop of a hat, but it nevertheless held my attention to the end and I somehow picked the murderer out albeit about 2 seconds before it was revealed. If this was to be the last Branagh Poirot film I'd honestly have to rewatch them all to pick overall best, but this isn't bad. The style still fits previous installments, it's directed well, the editing is sharp, and the scenery of Venice is always nice to look at. The cast is solid in particular Kenneth and Jude Hill, though Michelle Yeoh is a win always and forever! And while the bevy of characters don't get much in terms of depth and background, I'm truthfully not expecting complex three dimensional characters in a murder mystery so you take it or leave it. I'm happy with it, I love the more horror edge to it, I'm always down for a mystery and when you set one on Halloween night you got me hook, line, and sinker. I give it a solid 3 stars, 7.5/10, worth viewing in the theater I think. Next week Expendables 4, please for the love of Christ let it be better than 3!!

Monday, September 4, 2023

Metalocalypse: Army Of The Doomstar

My timing was pretty spot on with this show.

Got introduced and became a fan not 6 months ago and now I've seen the finale. The true finale to my knowledge. Isn't that serendipitous? But for real all you fans that had to go through all this shit in real time, my God the patience, dedication, and love you had for this series should get you a fucking medal. A metal medal, a really kick ass blood red, pentagram embroidered, with spikes and shit medal. I knew this movie was coming and after running across it in the video section I had no choice to buy it (got a poster and everything), and you bet your ass I'm buying the complete series whenever that happens, so let's talk about this finale. Though I hate endings to shows I love and always want more Dethklok in my life, this was a really good proper ending. All the people who fought tooth and nail to get this movie made are troopers, and boy is it an experience to see Metalocalypse in CinemaScope, with this level of animation, I mean I have rarely seen a show get progressively superior in quality like this. So after the rescue of Toki and the imminent arrival of the Doomstar, Nathan and the band have to create the song to save the world and finally confront Salacia, that's the basic gist and I don't want to divulge too much because it's totally worth watching the whole show, but the storytelling and attention to detail are prevalent. In fact this is almost entirely a drama with little comedy to be found, it buckles down and gets friggin' serious for the entire duration and while there are some laughs it has that weight and tone that shit just got real. I really like that, it adds to the finality of it all. The band gets in some dire straits here with Nathan getting a good character arc and the rest getting good character moments that work well. Obviously you couldn't just watch the film as a self contained entity, and indeed I marathoned the whole show before settling down to watch this, so I almost argue you can't judge and define it on it's own merits but take it into account with every single other episode of the show. I really enjoyed it, and some aspects that really struck me were this movie is kinda life affirming in a bizzare way and takes the stance of positivity in heavy metal, it states a few times everybody dies and you only got so much time and you either strike with a fist or offer an open hand, and while my fledgling knowledge on the metal scene isn't expansive even I know metalheads, fans of heavy metal music regardless of subgenre, are some of the most polite and kind people you could ever wish to meet. That metal music can elicit positive, thoughtful, and happy emotions I feel to be resoundingly true, and can cultivate a community that through rain, sleet, snow, or even hellfire have each other's backs. Sure it's easy to focus on the grim and brutal aspects but the difference between a song's subject matter and an individual's mindset is pretty far apart. So I loudly applaud the creators for going in such a direction. It's a satisfying end and maybe this was just the hardcore nerd in me but I got big Rise Of Skywalker vibes in the finale, if you've seen both you probably know what I'm talking about but I won't give any of the details away cause that would spoil it, and that ain't cool man. It feels odd to say but this felt very modern, with previous seasons it mostly could fit in any time period post 2000, but here it feels definitely 2023 and that's not a bad thing at all but just an observation of mine. I'm very happy Brendon and Tommy got to end this their way cause man let me tell you, this became a passion project for them and very few passion projects come to pass. I'm proud to call myself a fan, I'm thrilled I got to see this whole show now, and I reckon I'll give this film 4 stars, 8.5/10, but for the whole show start to finish I'll give it a 9/10! I'll see you guys next week with a new movie review, so be safe and rock on.