Sunday, March 31, 2024

The Ten Commandments (1956)

I'm finally commiting to it.

Despite my numerous references to this film in the past, I've had the idea to cover it in recent years but just now have gotten around to it. And it was about time for a rewatch cause the last time I sat down for this almost 4 hour epic was when I was still in high school, so what do I think about a movie I've known since I was but a tall young boy? Though I am not a religious person, though I am not a practitioner in the Judeo-Christian belief, I very much like this film! While I'm about to burst everyone's collective bubble on the fact that the book of Exodus in the bible is entirely fictitious, no historical evidence of israelites has been found in Egypt thus far, it's still a good story that has been told many a time in a non-religious lens. To vastly summarize scripture, tale of a deliverer that will free the slaves of Egypt is foretold and amidst something the bible is quite keen on, infanticide, a baby is found by the royal family and is raised as one of their own with the name of Moses. We flash forward to see him as a strong, caring, and wise leader before the cat's out of the bag and he is cast down as another slave amongst thousands and the subsequent years of his life before his true call to action by the almighty, where he returns to Egypt, saves his people, and brings the laws of God to them. The beauty of having a film almost 4 hours long is the movie can take it's sweet time building the story as strongly as it does and engagingly as it does, it properly feels like an epic in terms of production alone. It could be a whole tome just discussing the production and shooting, the sets are grander than anything I have seen in recent years cause they just had to build it all or they just shot in Egypt and the surrounding areas, the number of extras is staggering to behold we will never see a plethora of people that many in cinemas maybe ever again, it has that old Hollywood shine and gravitas to it to sum it up. It's almost too big a picture to talk about, there's no way I can touch on everything let alone the cast. In terms of the major principal players that are seen throughout, Charlton Heston has that right presence and voice to be a messenger of God as Moses and displays qualities in a leader that I have rarely ever seen in man or woman, and it is so interesting to see all the phases of his life. In fact this film is free real estate for individuals who love doing character studies, it's actually written incredibly well with the character interactions and dynamics, yet another book sized avenue to go down. Yul Brynner as Rameses who I just always love seeing him in movies, is that kind of perfect bad guy where you hate him just enough but you're always interested to see where his story goes, it just works in this movie. Anne Baxter as the princess and soon queen of Egypt Nefretiri nearly takes on this almost Lady Macbeth persona in the story, and this is just an aside and a weird one at that but Anne plays the young version of Moses' adopted mother and Nefretiri but I didn't know that as a young kid so I was über weirded out and confused why his mom seemed to have the undying hots for him, but anyway she is the crux of the drama for the story and this isn't a slam I swear, but it gets just a teeny bit soap opera from time to time. Now I blame that more on the classical form on how the story is told and acted, and not so much the time period the movie was made in. Edward G. Robinson is a real devil of a slime as the governor Dathan, he plays it so beautifully but Dathan straight up sucks, lusting after a hebrew girl named Lilia, trying to get any advantage in power and office, and raises a rebellion during the mass exodus, he absolutely is the villain you hiss and boo at! Speaking more on the last part in a bit, but how the film goes about with all the old testament power and wrath of God stuff is frankly unforgettable visuals to me! I remember that as clearly as when I first saw it, the staff that transforms into a cobra, the Nile bleeding red, the fiery hail, the splitting of the Red Sea, the fiery columns of God, and most of all the death of the firstborn. Seeing that eerie green mist drift down in front of a sickly yellow moon has never left me, and if you metalheads needed an excuse it's the perfect day to listen to Creeping Death! My whole stance is if say I was one of the israelites, tormented for God knows how long as a slave, finally made it out and saw these marvels of the Lord, I think I'd just take Moses at his word and not listen to the guy who builds a golden idol out of a calf! Just saying, how does anybody go for that?? Still, it's mighty impressive special effects work for 1956 and I'll be damned if it wasn't still impressive today, especially with the Red Sea. I have no clue how they accomplished that! It really is well crafted in every way, it's not just the flashy or grand sweeping visuals that you're going to come away from at the end. And would you believe it's actually a remake? Cecil B. DeMille directed The Ten Commandments back in 1923, and I am fascinated to know how that movie looked. In fact this was the last movie he directed, passing away three years later in 1959 but talk about going out on top. This is the only religious film I actively will watch, not to say there aren't other good ones out there it's just something I don't seek out. But hey who knows, next Easter we could do something wild like Jesus Christ Superstar. Until then, 4 stars, 8/10! 

Friday, March 29, 2024

Godzilla × Kong The New Empire

Good shit Adam!

Yeah, this was one of the more anticipated movies this year for me! Though you'd be surprised that I actually didn't see that much promotional material besides an odd poster and one trailer in theaters, so when I say I had no clue what was going to transpire it couldn't be more true. And what transpires despite how ludicrous the trailers make it seem, it doesn't feel too out there. Hell it doesn't even seem slightly out of tune with all the Toho Godzilla movies! Basically Kong is on the lookout for other apes in the hollow earth, while Godzilla is grinding levels like a beast and fighting over kaiju like it's friggin' Highlander or some shit, as newer threats are unearthed and our unlikely duo take up arms together. Bottom line, it's exactly the movie you would expect. I feel it's balanced just right in terms of outlandishness, to sum it up in one scene the humans perform dentistry on Kong who has an infected tooth. And somehow that sentence isn't too weird, and also that's a good gauge for audiences! I feel they severely pulled back on human characters streamlining the human plot, it's a relatively tiny cast and the majority are returning actors from Godzilla Vs. Kong. They also put more emphasis on the monsters, going for stretches where you just have to read the body language and vocalizations to understand what's going on and combining that with good amounts of subtitles, and this is a film that will not hold your hand and translate for the peanut gallery. I applaud and greatly appreciate the movie for doing so! I like the personality they give to each monster, how Godzilla has taken a liking to sleeping in the Roman Colisseum like it's a cot, how Kong kinda takes on a Kratos figure axe in hand and accompanying a small ape, and speaking of which I swear the creative team just made an ape version of Minilla for the little fella. The effects are expanisve as all get out, but look good and even with my strong vocalization for practical effects I understand this is how they had to have made the movie. It just goes to show how further each movie goes in letting the kaiju do what they do, they're not even afraid to do these effects in dark or limited visibility anymore. I don't need it to look lifelike. I was highly entertained, thrilled to see where the next potential movie takes us, and gladly give a big thumbs. Though mind you I think I've gazed into the future just a smidge, cause how the whole ape subplot goes in this movie reminded me strongly of The Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes trailer I saw beforehand and that's a movie I have conflicting feelings about but we got a minute before that. All in all it's a fun time at the movies, I couldn't bash it hard if I tried, I give it 3.5 stars, 8.5/10! Objective and unbiased as always, though obviously I always recommend seeing it for yourself. It's fun though trust me!

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Skull Island

Oh thank you God!! What a breath of fresh air!

Skull Island is actually pretty friggin' good. Entirely different production team, different animation style, maaaaybe is "canon" in the Monsterverse, and well worth the time. Following a group of seafarers who get shipwrecked on an uncharted isle with Gilligan and the Skipper too, oh wait. Different show. But they get stranded on monster ridden Skull Island and over the duration of a short and sweet 8 episode season make an attempt to survive and escape, it takes a little bit of the same story outline as the film Kong Skull Island but it does more than plenty in terms of originality and character. The thing that really took me by surprise and shows just how different the east and west do their shows, this almost becomes a comedy! There is a lot of for lack of a better term flippancy in the dialogue but not a bad kind, where the characters don't take anything seriously so you don't take anything seriously, there's some attitude and sarcasm but you like these characters, it was easy to get invested and how the storyline progresses is nothing like you would expect. Our crew of teenagers Charlie and Mark along with Charlie's dad Cap run into a band of mercenaries on the island and you think oh snap, not only do they have to evade the 100% carnivarous population of monsters (Seriously not a single leaf eater present??) but they also need to avoid the trigger happy hired help, but nope! They meet up rather quick and are like, screw this island let's GTFO, and that's exactly what they do. You keep expecting some human antagonist to pop up but they never do, the problem is the creatures inhabiting the island, so it's such a welcome change of pace! All the characters are solid, some have more backstory than others but at the end of the day you can't hate any of them. Charlie and Mark are stalwart friends who bitch more than an old married couple but they don't mean it, Annie is a fucking bonkers girl but she's pretty awesome, Cap and the leader of the mercs Irene have good chemistry and fully acknowledge they are so over their heads and are just trying to get out alive, it's surprisingly honest and candid how the characters voice their mind and feelings. Similar to Singular Point, Kong himself is not really the focal point of the show but when he does show up you see the scale and power of him and towards the end you get a lot more of him, they did good work with his personality and even sheds a bit of history from his past. Abundance of monsters throughout, and yeah they're not exactly as inventive as say the Skullcrawlers or that weird stick insect that looked like a log in the movie and is more typical jungle predators but hey it never gets dull. The animation style is anime-esque that you would see on Toonami in recent years akin to say Sword Art Online or something similar, lot of good color variety and fluid style. They really did cover all their bases in production terms and nor did they try to be grander or more complicated than needed, the director and series writer knew the tone he wanted and how to accomplish that and I feel he succeeded greatly. It's a 3-ish hour adventure romp with good humor, good characters, and an extra little something for us Monsterverse fans during the downtime between movies. The series just hit Netflix last year and no doubt season two is in pre-production, I'm all onboard to see what happens next and whether or not the new Godzilla & Kong movie has any influence on it. Because it's sorta a sequel to Kong Skull Island but at the exact same time does things of it's own and there's no surefire timetable as to when it takes place, you don't see smartphones or anything modern but it clearly is post 70s, so I wouldn't say it's pivotal viewing for the movie fans just take it more as a cherry on top of this rich dense sundae we've been getting since 2014. I greatly enjoyed it, it's a fun show, and put me in such high better spirits so Godzilla × Kong could be the zenith of this wave of happiness for me come Friday. Solid 3 stars, 8/10!

Monday, March 25, 2024

Godzilla Singular Point

Ohhhh! Oh my God! You'd'd THINK after I was burned not once, not twice, but three times a lady by Netflix when it comes to Godzilla I'd have learned.

What?? How? Where? Why??? You know, I didn't walk into this series with the intent to hate it. I walked in about as blind as I usually am, and for the first maybe two episodes I was rolling with it, and's kinda my own fault. Let me break this down for you and take a peek behind the curtain into my head and how I review television shows, unless it's a long ass season with long episodes I watch the entire thing in one sitting, specifically for the reason that I have all the information and points I want to address in my head and I can just write it to the end. With Singular Point I watched the 13 episodes over the course of three days, the latter half of the season in one day but I was still sick and trashed for those other two, and this is so not a show that you can put down and come back to at a later point in time. I have never dreamed that a Godzilla plot could be this, I don't even know what the fuck to call it! I'm not generally a person who gets lost in the details of plot and character motivations, I have 9 years of writing to prove that point now, but for the sheer life of me I have absolutely no goddamn clue what in the 23 flavors of Dr. Pepper happens in this show. I got nothing, I seriously can't write anything because I just don't know. All I know is I want those hours of my life back. The plot is split between really just two characters but there's so many third parties as well and it's so complicated to keep all the strands in the old Duder's head clear to know what the hell they are even doing. Best I could gather is this engineering guy named Yun is helping out this über genius student something or other gal named Mei as to why all of a sudden this mysterious red dust is bringing forth waves of kaiju to tear shit up real good, meanwhile all these suits are experimenting with said red dust for....I don't even got a clue. It doesn't help matters at all that this is the most overly written, confusing, inane, trying so hard to be mindblowing, pretentious horseshit I have ever heard in my entire life! You know how when The Matrix came out and people were just eating the dialogue up as the most revolutionary thing they've ever heard, it's like that times like 10,000. It's the only time in my existence that people have talked about transtemporal situations and I am completely lost. If this is what The Matrix movies are like, I'm gonna be taking it up the ass when I finally get around to seeing those movies. I'm absolutely speechless at this dialogue. If anybody wants to translate after telling me you just don't get it, okay fine. I'm an idiot. Now please make sense of this. It can't be done. Does even the plot synopsis on frakking Wikipedia make a lick of sense? And you know what, the rest of the details about the show I honestly don't mind! The animation is pretty good, it does that weird ass thing where the kaiju are that semi-2D but really 3D animation style which I really am not a fan of, but other than that it's a solid looking show. Voice cast (I viewed it in japanese) was just fine and dandy. Music, eh kinda here and there but I can live with it. The actual character designs for both humans and monsters are the epitome of hit or miss, more so in the monsters category to be transparent. Godzilla is passable, not my favorite design or least favorite, and it probably is zero surprise they take some leafs out of Shin Godzilla's book here. Anguirus actually looks metal as hell, favorite design of his ever! Rodan on the other hand, what even in the hell, just take a pteranodon and multiply by the number of pi, literally a gaggle, a swarm, a flock of freaking frauds! Surprisingly Gabara gets an appearance with a sorta neat look even if he dies more times than Sammael in Hellboy, seriously what?? And last but not least Jet Jaguar, who easily gets more time in this show than Godzilla so hey history repeats itself yet again, and I kinda dig the more robotically crafted body though it retains the iconography of the character. And the more I genuinely think about it, all the human characters I liked best had fuck all to do with this rambling, cracked out, nonsense of a storyline. Goro, he's a crazy old bastard who's off his rocker and literally made a mech suit and named it Jet Jaguar, awesome! Lina, simple sweet girl who gets dragged into the plot, I actually really love her design and would bash someone's kneecaps out to taste her cooking. Satomi, uh wow hello there, moving swiftly on! Makita, swell guy who seems like a handyman extraordinaire and we spent too brief a time with him. Everyone else, I could live without. I'm legitimately so pissed off that I'm pissed off, did I want to just waltz in here and eviscerate Singular Point? That would be a naw from me dawg, but good God it gave me nothing. I hate when I give something a bad review, and I'm sweating spinal fluid over here because I got the Skull Island animated show up next! Son of a bitch. I refuse to hope, hope is for rebel scum and kumquats (or something that rhymes with quats). 1.5 stars, 4/10, I'm moving on.

9 Down, 1 To Go

Alright, I'm back. Happy to be going to a semi-regular schedule, it was a nice little break just focusing on new movies but I'd like to be more consistent. Cause man there were multiple weeks of nothing new hitting the cinemas and that's not terribly fair to all the folks who come here to hear me ramble on like I do, so henceforth until madness strikes minimum of one review a week both old or new. I got a little something for you today to make this occasion all the merrier, giving you 3 reviews this week in preparation for Godzilla × Kong (How do you pronounce the ×, what does it mean??) so I hope you enjoy that. My God to think I've nearly kept this hobby up for a decade is almost inconcievable to me, because I was browsing the YouTubes as I often do, I've been an addict since 2007 it's never going away and I've embraced that, and I've seen videos that were uploaded in like 2013-2014 and I was doesn't seem that long ago. It couldn't have been that long ago! But then it dawned on me I was 18-ish years old around that time, just on the cusp of being a unknown film critic, wrapping up high school, and shit man this whole life thing really does spirit you away in ways you'll never imagine. Did I ever think I was going to have written over 1100 reviews by now? That would be a naw. But I'm damn happy to have done it and hope it made a difference to somebody, even if just once. I mean it too, if you avoided a bad movie or gave something a shot just based on what I had to say about it, every single second of writing all those was worth it. No question. Couldn't tell you what's coming up this year but I think we can make it through and come out with more positive viewing experiences than negative ones. Free spoiler, yes this is breaking exclusive news just for you, this review coming up oh it's an angry one. I'll get that up later so enjoy and thanks for for joining as always!

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Ghostbusters Frozen Empire

I'm sorry that I was late, it's never much fun when ectoplasmic residue seeps out of your nose and mouth (I got a bad cold) but let's boogie!

New Ghostbusters, yay! After the decent follow up of Afterlife I was game to see the series continue and I can safely say I like Frozen Empire even more. Picking up a wee bit after with the gang back at the good old HQ in New York, a powerful threat quite literally gets pawned at Ray's shop and slowly but surely manifests itself as Phoebe has some issues of her own and has to pull through as the next potential ice age sweeps in. This was more what I was looking for in Afterlife, it doesn't have a fanboy cookie for cookie's sake or really flex those nostalgia muscles for the audience, but rather expands and crafts more stuff for this wild wonderful world that has been entertaining generations since 1984. I love seeing the expansion of ghostbusting we see new tech, new concepts and questions, and adds a lot more to this world that really was only seen in the cartoons. In fact, though I am severely no fountain of knowledge on The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters I wouldn't be surprised if a good bit of material was represented here. So it checks the boxes of a good sequel, expands the world and concepts while also progressing the characters. Speaking of which the cast is just as good as in the last film, obviously I'm still championing Phoebe, and I'm happy she gets her own moments and hurdles she has to get past. Granted the movie doesn't get that deep with it but I appreciate it regardless even though I greatly feel they focused way more on certain characters than all the characters. Paul Rudd is still great and feels the most real if that makes any sense, you know his heart is in the right place even if he doesn't have the right words to say it like we so often see in cinema. The most prominent original member is Dan and I like seeing him take on a mentor role for Phoebe and helps out in the investigation. In fact I like the more low key participation of the original Ghostbusters, they don't scene steal, they have their place, it's done right, and they still throw down at the end. Buuuut then you have the others that get severely put in the sidelane, Callie and Trevor Spengler are the epitome of just there which sucks because I recall wanting to see Finn Wolfhard come into his own in this series so it's either not going to happen or be the slowest hero arc in motion picture history, poor Podcast despite a good few laughs has barely anything to contribute, hell even friggin' Walter Peck has two things going for him Jack and shit and Jack left town. I mean really? You bring him back and he doesn't even begin to be a worldly antagonist for the ghostbusters, it's nice to see him no question about it, William Atherton is a real swell guy in reality, but they could have done more with him. At least we get an original villain, neat backstory, great look, solid gimmick, big thumbs up from me personally. I don't truthfully have any major issues with the movie more I guess nitpicky things, even if it's a small pile of nitpicky things. But they did a good job regardless, I'm happy I saw it and it got a few laughs outta me and put a smile on my face, they had the courage to do their own thing and throw some things out there and even if not everything worked the vast majority did, and I can say it's a good time at the movies so I recommend it. It's at the same level as Afterlife for me, not better or worse so I give it 3.5 stars, 7.5/10, and oh how this is only just the first empire we are encountering in March. Yeah buddy, next week is gonna get nuts.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Jodorowsky's Dune

I get it now.

Not a lot of people talk about Dune, barely anyone talks about the version that never was. In the early 1970s a director born in Chile had a revolutionary idea after making just two feature films to adapt Frank Herbert's Dune in a way that was deemed impossible by the zeitgeist's standards and this documentary created in 2013 filled the world in on this artistic endeavour. Now I heard slight rumblings of this version in the hype train for the 2021 Dune from a YouTube channel dubbed Grizzled Wizard and hearing about this project with the help of Pink Floyd, H.R. Giger, and the presence of Orson Welles himself my attention was grabbed! But I didn't even know this documentary existed on the HBO Max until about 3 days ago, and watching the formative process and happy accidents occur that got some steam in this now phantom train does make me understand why certain individuals hold this what could have been story with such tragedy. Granted I have no clue what in the blue skies of Arrakis this would have been like but the unmitigated passion and dedication this one man had to garner so many artistic and popular figures to make a science fiction film when at the time George Lucas was still scribbling drafts of a space opera in his bedroom and the prospect of any fantastical space movie being made was a pot dream, I can respect. He didn't want to make it faithful to the book, he didn't want to make it for profit's sake, he wanted to do it because he had a vision and a drive to see it done. It ain't everybody's batch of magic Kool-Aid and even my ass saw the unrealistic qualities of fashioning this monolith of a story, but the documentary is told with a lot of the burgeoning minds who were coming up with designs for this flick and they still believe they were onto something special here and hold pride in their work. And for a special clocking in at 90 minutes with credits, you really got nothing to lose if you want to see how even unmade art can still have an effect on the world. Do I agree with everything Jodorowsky said? No. Do I think the movie would have had a more troubled production than The Island Of Doctor Moreau with Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer? I'm willing to hedge my bets there! But at the end of the day even if it focuses on a shoulda woulda coulda idea, it's still fascinating to see a piece of cinematic history that has influenced a lot of movies even if itself wasn't burned on celluloid. I enjoyed it, found it interesting, and can indeed recommend. 3 stars, 7/10, and we got some down time before the next new movie so stay safe and have fun.

Friday, March 1, 2024

Dune Part Two

Okay. I can dig it.

Obviously this isn't a case of is the sequel better because well it's just the second half of a movie, but a very good one regardless. The plot is a bit more streamlined in terms of synopsis with Paul and the Fremen waging guerilla warfare against the Harkonnens and pretty soon the Emperor himself, but the film does not rush let me tell you. Pushing 3 hours with credits it takes it's time in divulging all these plot pieces on the board, from expanding on the Harkonnens with a new adversary Feyd-Rautha, Paul's mom Jessica is pretty much starting a cult and raising the legend of the Kwisatz Haderach, the machinations of the Empire, and the romance between Paul and Chani. You know for a movie that was marketed heavily on the romance angle, even TV spots didn't excise it, it's about as rushed and did just as much for me like in the Lynch movie which was....not at all. Totally not bashing Timothèe or Zendaya, frankly the acting across the board is good yet nothing to write home about, but man the romance was just not built for me. I would be remiss not to shoutout Christopher Walken as the Emperor, which is quite possibly the strangest casting I've run across. But then again, Sting. Also Austin Butler, man have you got range cause you honestly weirded the shit outta me and beautifully so! Just to be upfront and honest I truthfully feel there is more subtitled dialogue than actual english dialogue here, which first and foremost round of applause for these actors to learn this dialect and be able to emote well on top of that and second that's not a turn off for me but some folks can't do subtitles so I get it. The film certainly hasn't lost a bit of it's cinematic edge, I dare say it even doubles down on it making it even bigger and grander than the first! Dune will probably never look better, at least in my lifetime. However I think people's biggest issue with the film will be the ending, yet once again I actually didn't mind it. It truthfully made me want to pick up Dune Messiah and I haven't even read the first damn book, and even if they didn't adapt any of the future novels I wouldn't give a rat's ass that's how open I am now to dive into these books. Because you have to remember this isn't just one novel this is a series so they absolutely can tease a continuation should they feel so inclined. I liked it just fine, more than willing to watch the full cut of the movie in the future and honestly rewatch the Lynch version again, not for everybody but I can recommend it if for nothing else than visual appeal. I give it 3 stars, 7.5/10 with room to grow in the future. And of course we'll wrap up this week tomorrow with a look at a doomed but fantastical sounding Dune iteration.