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Posts tagged “movies

Cyborg cop 2

forgotten bannerMOV_5399be15_b Cyborg cop two, seriously?

Who looked at the movie cyborg cop, and decided maybe that thing really needs a sequel! Now to be fair it wouldn’t surprise me if these films were shot back to back, and the robotic lab set up again using that same bare black stage with some rented tech pieces kind of points towards that.

From IMDB : A fancy, loner cop loses his partner to a crazed terrorist during a hostage rescue. He settles for the terrorist going to Death Row in jail. What Jack doesn’t know is that the terrorist will be taken and turned into a cyborg for the “Anti-Terrorist Group”. When the Cyborg “Spartacus” wakes up accidentally, he kills the scientists and their guests, then goes to set things up for a Cyborg Empire. Only Jack and a few friends know how to stop him.  

It’s not actually that bad and will be, certainly a step up from CyberCop and that’s a big surprise. The action is actually a bit better. Fights are really well choreographed and the pace doesn’t lag, it passes the watch test without me ever feeling bored, something that I can’t say about the first film. We start off with a great set piece – bad guys versus good guys guns blazing and I watch the cop from the previous film arriving to take them all out with high kick and some leather jacket martial arts. The bad guy from this opening scene will become our villain for the film, but yeah, this one wants to be a little bit more terminator that it does universal soldier. The costumes haven’t gotten any better, in fact they’re a little worse. We saw the same rubbery cyborg suits but the design…who decided to put a front grill on the abs? and these guys are wearing these army clothes that would make Rambo cringe saying “okay guys is just a little bit too much!”.  We see way more of the cyborgs here though, and the fact is they seem to be trying to do more with the concept of adding attachments and cameras and flamethrowers and fun stuff like that.61889094

It’s still great fun film and still very much a time for the early 90s . I found it on YouTube and that’s a great place to watch it. if you see it in the bargain bins at buybacks or record exchange definitely Grab it. As action films go, it’s not a bad one. May be fun to watch back to back with the first…by the way, you know there is one more of these don’t you?


Preadator at the Capitol!

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1987’s classic film Predator is part of the Melt Bar and Grilled Cleveland Cinemas Late Shift Series! Admission is just $5! One lucky audience member will win some mud! Join us at midnight!

Capitol map


12 hours of terrible and Free Comic Book Day

Remember how the Capitol does that great horror marathon every october? 12 hours of Terror? Well this year, they’re trying something diffrent – a spring marathon of bad films – 12 hours of terrible!

The 1st annual 12 Hours of Terrible includes a full night of terrible movies! $30 day of show, opening at 6:00pm Saturday.

Sometimes a bad movie is so terrible it’s better than a good movie. For one night the Cedar Lee Theatre is going to embrace bad as the new good with our first annual 12 HOURS OF TERRIBLE when we showcase these 7 films that have to be seen to be believed: Plan 9 from Outer Space, The Happening, The Baby, Drive Angry 3D, Miami Connection, Masters of the Universe Movie and Over the Top (film). Attendees who stays for the entire series from beginning to end will receive $5 back as their reward.

I love Drive Angry, I love MOTU, and I’ve never seen several of these but always wanted to! I cant wait until tomorrow!

Cedar Lee map

But tonight, I’ll be up at Crol and John’s for the Free Comic Book Day party, and getting into the Freeze suit once it gets dark!

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Ghostbusters reboot

150127173400-female-ghostbusters-split-exlarge-169The internet has been all abuzz with the casting announcement of the new Ghostbuster cast. My reaction was pretty simple; There’s no one here I want to see.

It’s such a shame. This could have worked if it had been done as a spin off. The comics have done some really interesting things in that vein.

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But this? this is just…there’s no love. there’s no respect for what a remarkable film that first movie was.

There seems to be this idea of “We want to show this in a way you’ve never seen it before!”

But I liked how it was before….and wasn’t it kind of successful?

A female cast could work. But not this cast and not this way. Imagine a film that starts off with the familiar cast (Pay Murray what it takes to get him on set for ONE day). Murray or Akroyd have a huge blowout fight with Annie Potts, probably over shared grief in losing Egon recently. She quits and starts her own franchise with all women and Rick Moranis manning the phones.
They do great work, (insert a shot of Akroyd, Murray and Hudson watching their commercials and reading their headlines – still all one days work for Murray). Murray comes to apologize to Potts, or maybe comes just short of an apology (his pride won’t let it happen) and shortly after Ghost Egon Peterthat he gets killed during a mission. The women have to step up and help Akroyd and Hudson stop the threat. There’s good ghosts trapped by evil ghosts – when the good ones are freed, One turns to them and it’s Murray. He says “Look who I found!” He gestures and is joined by a ghost Raimis (transparent and bluish, but definitely a young Raimis – a CG modle. No lines). He tells them not to worry about them, they’re off to start a franchise of their own…and fade away.

That works. You still get the impression that the classic Ghostbusters are out there doing their thing, and that they will show up from time to time, but you get a whole new cast in the process.

Seriously, can you imagine how incredible a Ghostbuster team led by Annie Potts would be??? And If Murray won’t come back, give all his parts to Akroyd. Even without Murray this could have been done and would have been a far better film. 3965585-gb-new01-coverbThe cameos wouldn’t feel so much like cameos, but rather a driving part of the story.

I’ve occasionally seen some cries of misogyny regarding the negative reaction to this cast. Rebooting with a cast that I personally don’t like (I find none of these women funny. Was Tina Fey not available? How about ANY of the cast from the Big Bang Theory? Was Kirsten Vangsness not taking any calls?), and with no ties to the source material, this is simply a slap in the face, and it has nothing to do with feminism.

No, the Ghostbusters reboot is going to be one big cup of Nope! The originals still exist and I’m content with that as I watch this fall into career killing, bad idea obscurity.


Blade Runner this weekend

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Heading out to the Capitol theater in Cleveland this Saturday night for the midnight screening of Blade Runner. I’ve never seen this on the big screen, and while it’s not my preferred version of the film, this is definitely something to be experienced in the theater.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut’ is part of the Melt Bar and Grilled Cleveland Cinemas Late Shift Series! Admission is just $5. One lucky audience member will win a snake! Come on out and join me this weekend and it could be you!

Capitol map


Goodfellas at the Cedar Lee!

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Heading out to see Goodfellas at 9:30 tonight on the big screen at the Cedar Lee Theater in Cleveland Heights! The early shows are always packed so come early or be prepared to wait for the midnight screening!

Three Decades of Life in the Mafia. See Goodfellas at 9:30pm & midnight Jan 3rd, just $5! Come in your best mobster suit (no guns please) and get a free popcorn! I’ve got my mob suit (and it’s actually the perfect opprutunity to break out that tie that Gunga Jim gave me at the last Cinema Wasteland) ! Do you have yours?

(and don’t forget, new Violent Blue on Monday!)

Cedar Lee map


This Weekend!

fooddrive2014THIS WEEKEND!

I’ll be heading out around 9pm to Carol and John’s comic shop for the annual Christmas party. If you want to pop in earlier that day though, starting right at 10am the following sales take place:

50% off ALL Back Issues
20% off ALL Graphic Novels
20% off ALL Action Figures, T-Shirts and Statues
10% off EVERYTHING else in the shop

but more importantly, All day long you will be able to participate in our art show / food drive for the Cleveland Food Bank (In conjunction with Pop The Comic Culture Club)

Bring in a can of food and get a ticket. (or) Donate a dollar and get a ticket. (They also do six tickets for $5) Tickets can be used in two ways. To buy comics out of the dollar bins or to be placed into a basket raffle to win custom covers by local artists including me. I’ve done up two covers and I would like nothing better than for one of my readers to walk away with one of them!

After the party, my daughter and I will be hopping over to White Castle at 3255 W. 117th St for our final trip there. They are closing down all the ones in Cleveland and while it’s not a particular favortie, i’ll still kind of missit (I always went when I had coupons).

Finally, we’ll be heading out to the Capitol Theatre for the midnight showing of Batman Returns, a great Christmas movie in it’s own right!

If you catch me at any of these stops, tap me on the shoulder and say hi! I hope to see as many of my Cleveland area readers there as I can!

And don’t forget to join us on Monday for the last new Violent Blue of the year!


Sibling Rivalry

forgotten bannersiblingThis another one of those movies I love to look at- full of stars before they were really big, at the start of their careers before their more iconic roles…

It stars Kirsty Alley, Bill Pullman, Carrie FIsher, Sam Elliot, Scott Backula, and  Ed Oneil, not to mention being directed by Carl Reiner. It’s funny I really like Backula and O’Neil in most things, but not in their signature roles (Quantum Leap/Enterprise and Married With Children respectively), and I’ve always really love Kirsty Alley. Let’s see what IMDB has to say here:

Marjorie Turner is suffocating. Her younger sister Jeanine has no ambition, and her 8 year marriage to Harry puts her in constant competition with his family (all doctors), whom he is also competing for the affections of. One day, she snaps while food shopping, and beds a mysterious man, who die during the moment of passion. When she forgets her wallet, a vertical-blinds salesman finds it, and things get complicated from there…

It’s a smart farce, but really I wouldn’t expect anything less from Carl Riener who created so many of my favorite comedies. I got it on VHS for a buck but It is available on DVD and occasionally surfaces on Netflix. Definitely one to check out on rental first and very likely one you’ll want to own.


Baron and the Kid

forgotten bannerMV5BMTIwNDMzMDE5NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTUxMzgzMQ@@__V1_SY317_CR51,0,214,317_There’s a pool table in my Library. i like to put this film on when I play or have people over to shoot pool.

From IMDB:

The Baron and the Kid 1984

Johnny Cash stars as a legendary pool hustler, back in town after a long absence. He encounters a young punk who’s got more swagger than skill at pool, and who turns out to be  his son

The film plays itself very straight and doesn’t really earn that kind of serious tone, especially for a TV movie. It’s predictable but what saves it is how much fun it is to watch Johnny Cash chew the scenery. Richard Roundtree shows up and I’m in B movie heaven.

It’s not to hard to find the DVD (and it tends to be inexpensive) and definitely a great movie to put on while you do something else.

No trailer for this by the way, but we do have the music video of the song that inspired the film, and it does a great job of conveying the feel of the movie


Hollywood Knights

forgotten bannerknightsI think I’m just going to dive straight into the IMDB description on this one.

Hollywood Knights 1980

Led by their comedic and pranking leader, Newbomb Turk, the Hollywood Knights car gang raise hell throughout Beverly Hills on Halloween Night, 1965. Everything from drag racing to Vietnam to high school love.

God I wish this was better. I mean, look at this cast! Fran Dresher, Tony Danza, Robert Whul, Michelle Pffiifer most of these before these people were really famous..or to put it another way, at the time, Tony Danza was the biggest name here.

It’s weird, there are really two separate stories going on here…enough to make me wonder if the “A” storyline and the “B: storyline were even conceived together or if this was a mashup of two different scripts.

It’s just to raunchy humor for me to really get into. To many scatological gags, fart jokes and vulgarity.  On the other hand, I know a lot of people dig this kind of movie. My friend Sean loves it and Imagine William would really like it too. If this kind of comedy  is your cup of tea, I really highly recommend it, especially to see so many of these people at the start of their careers!


In Defense of Joel Schumacher

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Schumacher’s name is synonymous with failure. After all, he pretty much destroyed the Batman movie franchise and it took visionary director Christopher Nolan to redeem and reinvent it.

And I don’t believe a word of the above statement.

Truthfully, I think the film Batman and Robin poison everything around them and that’s not fair. Batman Forever was actually a decent film. You have to remember, at the time, the only cinematic version of Batman we had was Burtons, and he had no interest in the source material. Catwoman was interesting, but there’s noting about her that ever remotely resembles Selina Kyle…and the creepy Penguin? I don’t even know what that was.

What Batman Forever gave us were villains much close to their comic book counterparts, and a Bruce Wayne that I actually could believe was the Bruce from the comic series rather than the pointy eye browed, curly haired weirdo that slept hanging upside down (Oh! I get it! LIKE A BAT! um, yeah.)

Sure there was a little more humor…Jim Carey (Who I don’t like that much at the best of times) was being Jim Carey. There was some speculation that Robin Williams should have played the Riddler (and the Joker before that). Can you imagine how hammy THAT would have been? The humor isn’t down to the camp levels of the TV show though. There’s plenty of action, with Schumacher’s flair for zooming shots actually giving it a more comic book feel, and that’s what I loved about it back in 1994. It felt much more like the comics to me and that was a welcome change. I even laughed at the single reference to the old TV show (which I still hate to this day) about Holey rusted metal….

I think however, that some studio exec with warm and fuzzy feelings for that show head that line and a lightbulb went off over his head…

You see, I don’t place most of the blame on Batman and Robin on Schumacher. This was another film (much like Star Trek Five again) rife with studio interference. Not even that. The word “interference” suggests some level creative vision on the directors part. Schumacher walked into a meting, before the script was even written and was handed toys. Cars, costumes and props and was told that these all had to be worked into the film somehow. The original script didn’t even have Bane in it. Ever wonder why the toy looks SO different from the on screen character? It’s because the toy was designed before the role was cast.

Schumacher could have said no. I’ll grant that. He could have breached contract. In retrospect it might have even been good for his career. But back in 1993, I can easily see how quitting this film (Batman films were a license to print money after all) might have looked like career suicide.

This isn’t cockeyed optimism that fuels my devotion to Schumacher. rather it’s he track record. On one hand we have Batman and Robin – a heavily studio controlled film that was an utter disaster on every level. On the other hand we have my favorite vampire film EVER, the Lost Boys. And we have Saint Elmo’s Fire before that. We have Phone Booth and 8MM (both done after B&R, just incase you were about to make the argument that he had talent but then lost it). Phantom of the Opera is another fairly closely controlled property that he was able to make good with.

It drives me mad when I hear him trashed on the basis of (mostly) one film that he had little or not control of, and I’ll stand by my defense of him any day you like.

 

 

 


Gladiator

forgotten bannerMV5BMzA4NzI3NjA1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjAyMTYyMQ@@__V1_SY288_CR1,0,214,288_This is a movie that I have very fond memories of. It is not the Gladiator movie you normally think of, but rather a low budget DTV boxing movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Brian Dennehy and I adore it.

My friend Mike got this on VHS back in the day, it was a strange copy – a screened for the video store to watch and decide if they wanted to carry it. every now and then you’ll see a warning about this not being for distribution come up on the screen.

From IMDB :

Gladiator 1992

Tommy Riley has moved with his dad to Chicago from a ‘nice place’. He keeps to himself, goes to school. However, after a street fight he is noticed and quickly falls into the world of illegal underground boxing – where punches can kill.

This really doesn’t do the movie justice.

There’s really a great deal of drama happening here, with Gooding boxing to support his family, and a friendship developing between the two main character – something Dennehy will not allow to happen.

Just as important to this film is the soundtrack. In an era where every film had a meaningless soundtrack of songs “inspired from the film” this had a great 90’s soundtrack album with every song in the movie.  I can not emphasize how great this record is…Mike went out and immediately got a copy (which I promptly copied. Man, I wish I had a copy of this on CD or mp3 instead of cassette…)

Mike doesn’t have a VCR anymore so the tape is now in my possession and I suspect I’ll always love it. I’m not sure if this ever got a DVD release, but I know you can watch it on the pay Youtube channel for just two dollars and it’s well worth it!


In Defense of Alien Resurrection

defense

1Wow. There sure are a lot of Sci-Fi films showing up here. I think I expected to be writing about more horror and superhero than sci-fi. interesting.

I really like Alien 4. There will never be another film as good as Alien or Aliens, but as far as sequals go, this is a good one. Perhaps part of the reason I like it so much is because it wipes the slate clean, it cleanses the pallet from the prior film. You see, I hate Alien 3.

I once heard someone say that if you really like a character in a horror movie – especially one who survives, then you shouldn’t ever watch the sequal, because something horrible will happen to them.  Alien 3 gives us this in spades, killing off EVERYBODY. It renders that rousing escape in Aliens practically pointless. Newt and Hicks don’t even get an on screen death. It’s horrible and it taints the entire movie for me. I hated the dog alien too. The rod puppet just didn’t work nearly as well for me as the puppets and suits Cameron used. I realize this is David Fincher’s directorial debut and there are a few good beats, but it’s riddled with stupid things like killing off beloved characters and getting Ripley laid because as the producers put it “It was about time she had a man.” 6

What really burns is that there were far better sequals avalible. Check out the novels (or graphic novel adaptions) of Earth Hive, Nightmare Asylum and earth War (or Female War). This is a far more satisfying follow up to Aliens and actually can fit in nicely between Aliens and Resurrection.

That’s one of the things I really liked about Resurrection. It wipes the slate clean. It’s a fresh start, without really trying to connect itself as firmly to the previous sequals as 3 did.

One of the big complaints I hear about this film is what they did to Ripley. She doesn’t act like Ripley, she doesn’t feel like Ripley.

2That’s the entire point. She isn’t.

This is a clone grown from Ellen Ripley’s DNA, with perhaps a race memory. A few actual seeming memories surface from time to time as well, the cloning process is strange and imperfect, but make no mistake; this is NOT supposed to be Ripley. The characters call her that, and she has Ripley’s face (to appease a studio that wasn’t certain you could make an Alien movie without Sigorney Weaver) but she has a radically different set of memories of growing up. She’s really not even quite a mature adult.  In fact….she’s not actually human. That Alien DNA infects her.

Sigorney Weaver did some amazing things as this clone character. She got it. She plays it with hesitation, confusion and an animal bubbling just under the surface. Her character is conflicted, confused and actually more aggressive than Ripley ever was. It’s best represented in the final line of the film where they descend to Earth and she says “I’m a stranger here myself.”

3Trust me, you’ll like this character a whole lot more if your remember this. She’s not Ripley. In fact, this was one of the things I was happiest about. I was tired of Ripley. I can deal with her running into these things once….hunting them down the second time, but Aliens isn’t ABOUT Ripley and I was ready to move on. I’m glad this did. In fact it brought a great new cast of characters for us to move on with.

This is another sore point with some people though. In a lot of ways, you can see the template for Firefly here. Joss Whedon has said as much, and he has complained that the direction was completely opposite to the tone of his script. There are a lot of people who think Whedon can do no wrong. They hate this 5move because he says to hate it.

I’m not one of those people. I Like his work, but find him completely capable of missteps. Moreover, I’m a fan of Alien. I want this to be an Alien film, not a Whedon film.  It doesn’t need his quirky sense of humor. It doesn’t really need his distinct touches, this has always been an industrial, slightly dystopian future. It’s scary. Not cute scary, but rather dirty scary. I like the story he came up with. I prefer Renaut’s directorial vision. If a Whedon movie is all you are after, then I understand your dismay at what has been described as a kind of bastardization of tone from Whedon’s vision. Then again, movies are always more about the directors vision as opposed to TV which is all about the writer’s ideas (remember that difference we talked about a couple of months ago in Star Trek 5!). To everyone else, I simply suggest going into this as an expanded universe Aliens film. 4

It really does have that almost comic book expanded universe feel to it. Winona Ryder’s character in particular feels that way to me. It’s a well done character wit ha back story I really enjoy. It fits well in the Aliens world ….and I’m not usually one of her fans. In a lot of ways, she tries to take the place of Ellen Ripley, though she comes off as a little too young (I know she’s not, but she sure feels that way) and impetuous. Ron Pearlman (who in fact, really CAN’T do wrong) is his usually excellent self and I love seeing Michael Wincott and Brad Dorff chew the scenery.

It holds up a little better these days due to the disdain the AVP films get. Check it out again with some fresh eyes, and while you’re at it, try and track down those novels to see how different the Aliens universe can be without Alien 3 and Ellen Ripley.


Tales From Beyond

forgotten bannerMV5BMTM0NjcxMjc4OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDM5MjQyMQ@@__V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_I totally bought this out of a two dollar box at Cinema Wasteland because I saw Adam West on the cover. IMDB dosen’t tell us much about it though  –

Tales From Beyond   2004

When a trendy young couple enter a quaint-looking antiquarian bookstore seeking a present for their friend, they find more than they bargained for. A mysterious shopkeeper takes them into the world of his books, leading them through four amazing stories.

The DVD cover doesn’t tell us much more than that either really. It looks like horror, but it’s really more Sci-Fi. You do know going in that it’s an anthology (which I usually don’t really dig) but it ended up being far better than I expected.  The middle sections with West as the shopkeeper  presenting the books (the stories of the movie) to his customers are fun.  a little underacted, but passable. The stories themselves have a wonderful Twilight Zone quality to them. If it weren’t for some of the language, I’d swear I was watching one of the modern versions.

I think of the selections the time travel story in the diner is my favorite, very similar to Nightmare Cafe (a TV series that lasted about five minuets before it was cancelled, but boy did I love it.)

The shame is that it falls apart at the end. We see two new books write themselves – obviously the customer’s stories. That’s fine. I can get behind that, it’s when we get taken to the back of the shop, past the books into some wierd cryotube where the “stories” I guess are kept…I’m not sure what that was supposed to be or what they were thinking.

It’s still worth a watch and I suspect you can find it relatively cheap in dump bins or movie conventions.  Definitely take a look for this stuff. It’s worth a watch or two.


In Defense of X-Men Origins : Wolverine

defense

1This is actually a hard Colum to write. The rules are it has to be about a property (mostly movies, but comics and music are fair game too) that everyone in general hates and that conventional wisdom tells us is bad, but that I like. And I mean LIKE. Not just a “meh…that’s not really THAT bad a movie….”

Here’s how I can  tell that Wolverine isn’t a bad movie. I like it – and I don’t like ANY of the X-Men movies. The second one is  the only one I might ever bother to rewatch besides this one (and the way Wolverine cuts through those soldiers in the mansion really bothers me). I actually change the channel if any of these movies come on broadcast TV.

I read the comics, but let’s face it, the cinematic X universe bears little more than a passing resemblance to the comics. That’s actually a good thing too, because I can’t stand Wolverine in the comics. Hugh Jackman however, actually makes me care about the character. he makes me like him. The first three X-Movies are really just all about Wolvie, so why not finally admit it and put his name on the shingle?

The action is good here. It’s a lot of CG, 3but we’ve come to expect that from X-Movies. Wolverine broods a bit, but I think it actually fits the character. I’m hearing a lot of complaing on that same subject for the Days of Future Past film as well, but if you genuinely know the character, you’ll realize he’s more than a hack ’em up brute. It’s a role Jackman plays extraordinarily well.

The lack of continuity with Sabertooth has bugged some people. I get that. I really wish it were Tyler Man again, or that this guy had played him in the first film. It would have helped my suspension of disbelief. However, Sabertooth isn’t just a brute either. In the mid 90’s there was some real development of the character, imprisoned in the mansion and while they were attempting to rehabilitate him, he was 2playing mind games with the crew. There’s aspecial hatred between him and Gambit. It’s a shame that actually never played itself out on screen here. It’s a missed opprutunity, but then again, perhaps one that would have made the plot look too crowded to casual fans.

Gambit by the way, it perfectly realized here. I’m a fan of the character and loved the portrayal in this film. My only complaint is that he’s underused. That’s been the excuse for three previous films as to why they never brought him in by the way – they felt they wouldn’t have a big enough role for him. After waiting so long though, it was good to finally see Remy LeBeau realized on screen.

6Which brings me to the big sticking point for a lot of people.

Deadpool.

For all you haters out there….I’ll give you this one. What they did with deadpol was a real waste. It smacks of studio interference by a group of people who just don’t understand the character. A shame too, because before his transformation into the bizarre weapon X without a mouth. Ryan Reynolds actually does a nice job as Wade Wilson. If anything, it’s a bit underplayed.

Here’s why it didn’t ruin the movie for me. I barely knew ANYTHING abut Deadpool when this came out. He’d shown up in X-Force as a fairly generic Vanilla character and I was completely unfamiliar with the more loony 4characterization he’d grown into (and thanks to Jesse Vining who re-introduced me to the character when I was getting back into Heroclix). I imagine a great deal of the general public was the same way….it was just another bad guy to them. Still, to a fan, I can see how this could poison the film for you. I have similar feelings about Alien 3 (but more on that next month). The fact that we still haven’t gotten a proper Deadpool feature (especially with that script that’s been floating around) makes it even more of a slap in the face.  In this case, I’m genuinely asking you to set aside that and pretend he’s just a random bad guy. This really is a fun film, and there are too few X-films with this kind of rewatchability to just throw this one aside.


Not a review of Guardians of the Galaxy

Movie bannerguardians_poster_via_marvelI was aware of the movie of course, because of all the buzz, but it wasn’t one I was just waiting on pins and needles for.

In many ways I think I’m the target audience for it. People who might have heard something about this, but arn’t really familiar with it. I tried an issue or two of the comic when Bendis rebooted it a couple years ago, but nothing really grabbed me. I like the idea of the talking raccoon (a smart mouth funny animal character is one of my elements for a perfect sitcom formula) and I like Sci-Fi, but had nothing invested here.

There’s a million reviews for Guardians. There’s nothing I can add to those really. I  took my kids, Lydia’s favorite character was Groot – mostly because he spends the entire movie saying nothing but “I am Groot”. And Maddie loved Rocket. Yeah, nothing new here.

What I want to explore is why  this movie is important.

I like this because it’s sci-Fi without being SyFy. It’s not Star Trek or Star Wars. It’s not the gritty or nilistic attitude that we’ve seen in Sci-Fi for the last ten years or so (thanks for nothing Battlestar Galactica). It’s not Gravity or Edge of Tomorrow. It’s fun. It doesn’t take itself to seriously while still going all in to the genre – and this is where you can see Gunn’s Troma roots. Say what you will about Troma, (and I hate ’em) but it’s one of the last places you can go in as nothing and truly advance by merit.  You can start off as a PA or a grip and end up a script supervisor or editor. That’s not an exaggeration, Joe Lynch did JUST that on Terror Firmer. It’s like New York, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Much like Roger Cormans studio, Troma is actually forging a generation of professionals despite (or perhaps because of ) working on drek. Gunn knows where to be serious and where to go completely zany, and if he can make you tear up at the image of a raccoon staring down at the charred branches of a tree – that’s something worth noting. This is original. Like nothing else in film today, because they remembered this is supposed to be a good time. They remembered that they cans still make you feel, when you’re having fun, it doesn’t need to be bleak and heavy to get that reaction.

It’s also a game changer.

There has been much written in reviews of how the Marvel brand is a proven one. Sure it is. But only with Superheroes.

Thor was a Sci-Fi movie, but with Superheros. So was Iron Man. And even though they were second stringers at the time (remember in the 90 and early 2000’s if it wasn’t an X-book or Spider book it was back bench), they were recognizable enough. Guardians is pure Sci-Fi. A shrew eye can catch the comic book dynamic – charismatic leader, sexy girl, smart mouth, a warrior, and a tank. Even so, it’s very Sci-Fi, with more in common with Firefly than the Avengers. It’s proof Marvel can do other things. What could happen next? Marvel Horror? Marvel Mystery? We’re getting a very Crime based set of shows hitting Netflix and it’s obvious Marvel want’s it’s brand to encompass more than just superheros. Guardians is the proof it can do so, and may be the key to surviving when the market gets oversaturated with superhero movies and the bubble inevitably breaks.

It’ll be interesting to see where we go from here.

Over at Violent Blue by the way, Steve took Jen to see the movie. We’ll be exploring their relationship against the backdrop of the film all week. Check it out here!


Under the Rainbow

forgotten bannerMV5BMTgyMDIyMzI2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNTgxMTk5__V1_SY222_SX144_I fist discover “Under the Rainbow” because part of it deals with the creation of the Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland.

From IMDB:

Under the Rainbow 1981 In World War II era Los Angeles, the manager of the Culver Hotel leaves his nephew in charge for a weekend. The nephew changes the name to the Hotel Rainbow and overbooks with royalty, assassins, secret agents, Japanese tourists, and munchkins (from the cast of _Wizard of Oz, The (1939)_ ). Secret Service agent Bruce Thorpe and casting director Annie Clark find romance amidst the intrigue and confusion.

This is an interesting film in that it’s got some infamy amongst those that know about it  mostly because Carrie fisher undresses – not down to much, underwear that covers more than most bathing suits actually.  Much like Corvette Summer, it’s kind of a  “What they did next” movie.  Fisher is ably paired up with Chevy Chase and a fairly well thought out script. It’s a farce with a great deal of “misunderstandings” creating the humor. I really should have enjoyed this more, it seems custom made for me. Perhaps I was just disspaointed that it didn’t have a closer relationship to OZ (as I had assumed) or it’s just my indifference to Fisher, but this never really clicked for me. Check it out if it shows up on netflix, otherwise it may not really be worth seeking out.

 


Gatchaman and Space Battleship Yamato

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19904_602178276470156_2039833198_nHeaded out to my friend Jim’s home over the weekend for a double feature. He’d just gotten his hands on a copy of the live action Gachaman.

If you grew up in the 70’s or 80’s you probably saw at least a bit of Gatchaman or Battle of the Planets. It still has a strong following today and with the recent trend of making live action adaptions of anime properties It was bound to happen.

If you’re a fan of the series, you’re going to find all the changes irritating. It’s not just a matter of streamlining the story for a feature’s running time, there are a lot of continuity changes that don’t make any sense. If you’re not familiar with the source material it may help, but the film remains a bit confusing.

The costumes appear in a wonderful set piece battle at the beginning and then we don’t see them again until the last act. It almost reminds me of the trend in the 90’s to make superhero movies, but keep the characters out of costume as much as possible so maybe people wouldn’t realize it was a superhero film. It’s structured very much like Albert Pyun’s Captain America, but not quite as dreary. However the middle section is dialogue heavy, dripping with melodrama that the films does not earn.

One more note aboutthe costumes that was a bit of a disappointment – these are very high tech suits, armored and leathered. The bird motif is gone and gatchaman1you kind of miss it in the still shots.However, the colors and general imagery feels fine when they are in action – it’s a forgivable update.

The action by the way, is very good. When we get it it’s very over the top, with a small budget Michael Bay feel to it. It frequently gets punctuated with long awkward pause of shoehorned drama, particularly at the end. Still, these set pieces are amazing and I suspect that these were written first, with a mandate to create a story around them.

It’s not a bad film, but if I ever watch it again, I’m probably going to skip right to the final act and just go from there.

In stark contrast, Space Battleship Yamatois almost a textbook example of how to do a live action adaption of a classic anime.

The look is dead on. The characters and the uniforms (and I really want one of those jackets now…). The ship has to be seen to be believed.

space-battleship-yamato-live-action-dvd-deluxe-version-japanese-movie-dvd-eng-sub-a8511Again there’s a lot of story compressed into the feature running time, but the relationships feel natural and the drama works here. There’s an engaging story and a genuinely heartbreaking end, but you never stop believing in the film through the entire thing. I’ve spoken to someone who has seen it without the subtitles and he was still able to follow it all the way through, though admittedly the subs make it 80% better.

My only complain here if any is the running time. At well over two hours, it’s far longer than I expected, but it never drags. This is definitely one to catch, but know what you’re going into.

For someone whose anime days are really based inthe 80’s and 90’s, this was a great time and really fascinating to see so many familiar faces and places done so well in live action. If you’re an old anime fan or a new one or even just a fan of jamanesecinema,these are definitely worth a try. I’d recommend a rent first. These might not be everyone’s thing, though I suspect I’ll be purchasing a copy of Space Battleship Yamatofairly soon.

 

 


In Defense of Star Trek Five

defense

st5There’s no doubt that this is one of the weakest films in the franchise. In fact, there’s really not a lot of defense for it, but then again, the movie isn’t exactly the one who needs defending. What this really is, it’s a defense of William Shatner.

I’m not a fan actually, but I think he gets unfairly savaged when it comes to Star Trek five. It ended any feature directorial career he might have had and at the end of the day, there’s so much of what went wrong in this film that just wasn’t his fault.

Let’s start with the one real thing that WAS his fault, because it affects a lot of the rest of the film, but didn’t necessarily have to. Shatner’s greatest sin was begin an inexperienced director. Sure he’d done some TV work, but that’s just not the same thing. Having directed a couple of features myself as well as episodes of my own series, I can tell you that logistically those two tasks are very different. the vision has to be different. There’s a ton more “moving pieces” you have to coordinate. But most of all…you have a very different relationship with the studio. And that’s where everything began to go wrong.

st51Shatner invoked the favored nation clause in his contract (basically an agreement that anything they give Nimoy, they have to give Shatner as well.) generally used in salary negotiations, but more than one source has mentioned that this was Shatner’s way of leveraging his directorial debut on to Paramount. The studio wasn’t thrilled about this, but did still have dollar signs in their eyes after  Star Trek 4, possibly the most successful of all the Trek films (ironically, my least favorite). They backed Shatner into a corner and got a fourteen to sixteen month scheduled. They’d tried to do this with Nimoy, who had flatly refused, stating he needed at least two years to do things properly, and more likely three (I actually remember him mentioning this in an interview after Star Trek 3). Shatner’s inexperience allowed him to be bullied into an impossibly tight schedule. Still, that wasn’t necessarily the end of the world as long as you have a good crew working with you – particularly in per-production.

Well, that presents a little problem we like to call “The Writer’s Strike”. Hitting ST5 atst59 the worst possible time, we ended up with a less than polished script. In fact, we have a flawed premise from the word go. It’s one thing for the Enterprise to search for and encounter a small-gee god. It’s another for them to try and find  God, Elohim, Yahweh, Jehovah. The problem is, anyone with the clout to be able to explain this to Shatner and company was out in front of the Paramount building holding a picket sign.

You don’t just need good people in pre-production though, you also need good people in production. Star Trek in particular NEEDS good special effects. This was 1989 – the year we learned the true meaning of  the word “Blockbuster”. Sure we’d had them before, but this is one of the first summers where we had constant back to back blockbusters packing out the box office. Indiana Jones and The Final st57Crusade, Batman, Ghostbusters 2 and that’s just for starters. What this translated into was a shortage of effects houses, and you could just forget booking  Lucasfilm for another year at least (There’s that rushed production schedule again!).

ST5 went with a smaller house that was known for it’s smoky, wispy effects. It’s a decision that kind of makes sense as they were thinking about what to do with the Great Barrier section of the film. The problem was that this effects house had NEVER worked with models like this before. They had to learn the process from st58the ground up and the end results were….less than spectacular. The green screen is obvious, the tone and lighting is frequently wrong and the ship movements are jerky, unnatural. It brings the whole film down, and strips away a great deal of the suspension of disbelief.

Then there’s the villain chase at the end where Kirk is pursued by a giant floating head.

Well, that wasn’t actually the intention.You can find this in both the novel and comic adaptation. The original idea was to have the rocks burst from the ground and assemble themselves int man-like forms that breathed fire and chase Captain Kirk through the desert and up the cliff. Almost sounds similar to what we saw in Galaxy Quest. Of course today, thisgq would be all done in CGI, just like it was in Galaxy Quest, but in 1989, it would either have to be suits or puppets. IMDB reports the budget for ST5 at 27,800,000, higher than four. So I don’t understand what happened when they bargained Shatner down. He wanted an army. The studio said too much. We don’t have the budget. Shatner was willing to play ball. Five. He said. They agreed. Month’s later, word came down that five was being reduced to three. On the day of shooting, only one rockman costume appeared on set….and it looked awful. It looked like a rubber suit, not even up to the standard of the monsters that we saw on the TV show in 1966. The floating head was a post production fix…and one Shatner should st54actually get some credit for. It was a good bit of quick thinking that ended up being surprisingly effective.

Post production was rushed due to the firm start date in summer 1989 and there was no time for test screenings or tweakings. The film was going out as it was, for better or worse. So much of the story of Star Trek 5 is a tragedy of studio interference. A more seasoned director might have been able to turn out a superior film under these conditions. A more experienced director might have been able to stand up to the execs and fight for what was best for the film, perhaps snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Shatner just didn’t have that kind of juice and even worse, he didn’t have the kindst56 of support a first time director really needs to thrive.

A lot of times I’ll use this space to recommend you go revisit a movie and try to see it through different eyes.  This time around I have a different suggestion. Head to the library or the used bookstore or even Amazon and get yourself a copy of the novelization. Back in the days before DVD, there was no such thing as “Special features”. You know how we got to see deleted scenes? We read the novel. You want to see how truly scary Kahn is ? How brutal and violent? Check out the novelization for Star Trek 2 – you’ll see Kahn murdering the space station crew in scenes that were only hinted at in the film. The same is true of this film. The novelization helps show how good a film this really could have been if it had a bit more time, a bit more polish and better visuals. Shatner’s flair and touches are still there, but a lot of the gaps are filled. It’s not a short book. It’s as long as any of the Star Trek novels, actually longer than most.  Pick up the book and see if that changes your opinion about Star Trek 5.

 

 


Race With the Devil

forgotten bannerraceYou ever watch a horror movie and find yourself screaming at the screen because  the people are so stupid?

Yeah, that’s  this movie.

From IMDB :

Race the Devil 1975 Two couples vacationing together in an R.V. from Texas to Colorado are terrorized after they witness a murder during a Satanic ritual.

Now I get that you can’t help but stumble upon a satanic cult preforming a rite from time to time…but it sure does seem like they flaunt it. They keep mentioning it to the wrong people and as we see, this cult reaches far and wide. You get a real sense that they’ve traveled hundreds of miles and are still running into cult members who are all on the lookout for them, not to mention the ones who are pursuing them.

The movie is tense and keeps up the dread. There’s a constant sinking feeling when town after town, cop after cop, they’re all involved with the cult. it’s well acted – this is Peter Fonda after all. It’s also got Loretta Swit in a pre- M.A.S.H. role. It’s really a good film, but suffers from writing these people as dopes – you’ve been chased across the southwest U.S. by crazy cultists and yet you’re still concerned about how dry the martinis you’re going to drink tonight are…. (maybe you ought to stay sober just in case a group of Satanists suddenly surround your camper with torches burning? But hey,  that’s just my opinion)

The film ends abruptly, but I think we can guess what happened after the credits role. Definitely a good movie and available on DVD, but might be hard to find outside Amazon.

 


In Defense of Hudson Hawk

defenseuntitledI’m going to give you  two words as too why you should like Hudson Hawk. Two words, and they aren’t even “Bruce Willis”! No, those two words are “Oceans Eleven”.

Seriously. In so many ways, this is cut from the same blueprint…and it’s possibly even more expansive. This is a funny heist movie featureing a couple of buddies, starring one of the biggest stars in the world at the time.

Of course, it was never marketed that way. No, because Bruce Willis was an action hero, this was always marketed as an action movie. Can you imagine if Oceans Eleven was markted as an action flick? What kind of criminal mismanagement would  that be?

Seriously, though, go into it with that mindset. It’s a different kind of humor than ocean’s eleven- where that is more buddy related fast talking kind of humor, Hudson Haw is more like Cohen Brothers weird off the wall humor. Still, WIllis pulls it off admirably and Danny Aiello is perfect in the film.  There are strange characters permeating this film, slick the candy-bar spies, and the psycho gangster millionaire…and Sandra Burnhart……imagesCAOSBM0Z

The heist has a treasure hunt feel to it, every bit as good as National Treasure, and with just about as high of stakes. The romance falls a little flat, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of chemistry between Willis and Andi McDowell (but then again I never really liked her and I’m not sure what her appeal is supposed to be in the first place). but really the movie hits just about all of it’s notes perfectly.

It’s readily available on DVD and probably on any number of streaming services.


The Fast and the Furious

forgotten bannerMV5BMTMzMDc3NTQ4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTI3Njk5__V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_Bet you didn’t know that fast and furious was a remake did you?

I mean the original is typical Corman exploitation featuring no one special, but just look at this description from IMDB :

The Fast and the Furious (1955) A man wrongly imprisoned for murder breaks out of jail. He wants to clear his name, but with the police pursuing him, he’s forced to take a beautiful young woman, driving a fast sports car, hostage and slip into a cross-border sports car race to try to make it to Mexico before the police get him

It’s not  a ring of thieves driving Hondas, but it is cops chasing the fugitive in sports cars…..

except the cars aren’t really that sporty….and it looks like they were under cranking  the camera to make them look like they were going fast…..still it’s a trip.  I still see these in the dollar bins and dollar stores. If you spot one, pick it up for the camp value alone.

 


Captian America : The Winter Soldier

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cap1I finally got around to seeing Captain America this weekend. I know I’m lat to this party, but you know me, I don’t visit movie theaters that are less than 70 years old. The Lorain Palace was showing it in 3d for 5.00 (as opposed to a 2d matinée  at a normal theatre for 7.50 at least).

Here’s the thing. The Winter Soldier isn’t a superhero movie. Sure they try to fool you with some big set pieces in the beginning and the end, but make no mistake, this is not a superhero movie. It’s a political thriller – and really, that’s exactly what you would expect from Robert Redford in this role. With SHIELD infiltrated by Hydra, there’s far more intrigue than simple action here. I almost wonder if it’s too elevated for the subject matter.

cap2I was really complementary about the first Cap film. I stand by my opinion that it was the best Superhero film I’d seen in a good decade. I revisited it recently and found it’s not as rewatchable as I had hoped. It’s still as good, but I can’t return to it again and again like I can with The Avengers. It makes me wonder if this film will have a similar feel. It’s an awfully complicated story for casual viewing.

Speaking of The Avengers – I’m having some issues with Scarlet Johansson and the way she plays Black Widow.

It’s not that I don’t like her in the role, I’m perfectly fine with the casting, but it seems like she never plays it the same way twice…does she just forget how the character is played every time? I also wonder if that’s part of the act….that she has so many faces, so many identities that all of them are false. If that’s the case then it really should be a little cleared. perhaps I am just over cap4thinking this, but in her third time out it’s beginning to get to me. In the end she just comes off as really bland.

They also try to play up her dark past in this film. it seems a little late to be getting to this. We kind of acknowledge it in the Avengers, but it’s just in one line. Here it’s far more explicitly stated but feels like it’s too little too late – either tacked on for the fans or an afterthought to try and enhance what has always been a secondary character.

There’s a LOT of Cleveland in this film. This always takes me out of the movie a bit, I’ve spent a lot of time downtown professionally and I recognize so much of what we see here. That is one of the greatest car chases ever, but I know some of those streets. The scene in the mall is crazy. I take my daughters to those fountains. I buy coffee at that stand! I’ve done work in that building cap5they’re keeping the Winter Soldier in….

Falcon is a nice addition in this film by the way. It’s a good origin story for him and he really has chemistry with Cap. I’m actually looking forward to seeing him in the next film…and let’s face it, they telegraphed the sequel. Then again, the commercials really gave away a lot of plot points, and I found myself waiting for stuff to happen. On the other hand it also let me know that I WAS going to see the familiar red white and blue costume for part of this movie and not just the slick blue and silver Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-Cap-Golden-Age-versionone. I was pleased that it was a full third of the film.

Interestingly enough, all the commercials and memes and internet chatter I was sure Nick Fury was going to really die in this. It was interesting that all of the spoilers actually hit me in reverse…

I really liked this film and can’t wait to see the next one.

Well, you know,  after I see Superman vs. Batman.

a94b55b5-44e3-417c-ab97-1659b5c74a82-batman-villains-which-should-be-in-batman-vs-superman

 

By the way, we’ll be spending the whole week over at Violent Blue celebrating the new Cap film. Check it out! the first strip is up here : http://www.violentblue.thecomicseries.com/comics/680

 

 


In Defense of Lost in Space

defenseimagesI actually have problems with series like Lost in Space, or Star Trek Voyager for that matter. there’s something inherinantly unsatisfying about them because you know he main plot point – getting home will either NEVER be resolved or won’t be resolved until the series ends (and personally I think it would have been a brave move to state at the end of Voyager that the ship was lost and never heard from again).

Lost in Space isn’t necessarily saddled with that  caveat as a film, but they choose to go that direction anyhow, in order to open the door for sequels. I get that but it was kind of a downer. There’s some gloom here because of that and because of the glimpse of the future we see. Stranding them kind of robs us of some true punch-the-air moments. It’s actually my one main complaint about the movie. Still, I find the rest of the film incredibly fun. It’s good actin and cool costumes. I love seeing Doctor Smith being truly EVIL again (he really did start off as more mattsof a bad guy and really mellowed after the first six episodes). It’s one of the rare times Matt LeBlanc shows some acting chops, the first time I didn’t look at him as an idiot (though what a bad choice picking this over the Matrix). He still has one of the greatest lines ever too “and the monkey flips the switch….”. I still use that myself on a regular basis.

I love the ship designs. The CG is still in it’s infancy, but works surprisingly well – smithsespecially in that spin around shot of the characters in zero G. It’s more believable than the troll in Harry Potter.

Can I make a quick guess as to why perhaps I like this better than a lot of people do?

I have no connection to the source material. I never watched it on TV and I’m not jarred by the differences here. To me this is a superior version. The derelict ship it’s like a haunted house in space and the spiders are genuinely creepy. I like the ship design better (why must we cling to space ships created in the 60’s anyhow? I don’t actually dig the original Enterprise shipdesign either – a contemporary of the Jupiter 1. I much prefer the film version!) and I like the characters just fine. It’s a good sci-fi shoot ’em up. I know that’s a common criticism of the Star Trek movies, but there’s a difference. Lost in Space never aspired to be more than a family space show where Star Trek actually was relevant at one time….

I really like this movie. If you can divorce yourself from the original TV show, SI suspect you will to. It’s still easily available, probably even on a budget release at this time!