One type of movie I can never get enough of is shark movies. Ever since Jaws scared the crap out of me as a kid I have been completely hooked and have watched some pretty terrible films just to get my shark fix. From Shark Attack 3, Megalodon, to reading the Meg series by Steve Alten (which is finally getting the big budget movie treatment starring Jason Statham after 20 years of development hell and I’m super stoked for) I love movies that explore the ocean on what is out there and what can potentially be out there. This, however, does come with a cost because while Sharknado, Sharktopus, and Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus can be fun, they are really dumb movies.
So it’s refreshing to find a shark movie where the special effects look good, it’s filmed well, and is a legitimately scary thriller. In The Deep (or 47 Meters Down as it was originally called) is directed by Johannes Roberts and stars Mandy Moore (Lisa) and Claire Holt (Kate) as two sisters who are vacationing in Mexico when Claire decides they should go out on a shark observation tour. The wench holding the cage breaks and the two sisters plummet 47 meters down to the ocean floor where two 25-foot great white sharks are patiently waiting for them to try and escape.
What I like best about In The Deep is it cuts right to the chase, the girls are trapped with limited air and the two great whites are not messing around as they are constantly attempt to attack Lisa and Kate whenever they try to venture out the cage and figure out how to get back to the surface. Besides getting on a rusted and very questionable boat with people they don’t know, Lisa and Kate are pretty quick to adapt to their situation. They begin figuring out how to conserve air, only move when they really need to, stay on the ocean floor when they swim around unless they absolutely need to. They are tied to just sitting and waiting, they are very proactive and it’s nice to see two female character not take the horror movie trope route of just being dumb because the plot calls for it.
The film also looks fantastic above the water and below. The Mexico backdrop is amazing to look at and the underwater scenes are well lit so you can tell what’s going on but just dark enough to maintain suspense on where the sharks are and that they can attack at any given moment.
The one complaint I have, and it’s a minor one, is the ending. Some will like it, some won’t, while I appreciate the two different ways it could have ended and part of me wishes they had ended it just a minute or two earlier for a truly haunting type of ending. Despite that, In The Deep is highly recommend it if you can find it. It was sent for a DVD release which has been pulled and now there is word that it could be getting a theatrical release so I’d say paying a matinee price would be a good way to go. Sadly, any trailer that exist for this movie is horrible and kind of spoils the entire movie so I would avoid looking for any trailer until The Weinsteins (who bought the film) release an official one.
I am a true child of the 80’s, given I was actually born in 1980, so I have grown up with some of the best movies ever made but also the most infamous which only fuels my nostalgia. Every so often I find myself spending an afternoon or two re-watching Predator, Alien, The Goonies, E.T. and many, many more. My favorite however, are 80’s action films which I will always have a soft heart for. I spent much of my childhood watching the likes of Bloodsport, Hard to Kill, Delta Force, and Kickboxer only to run out in my yard and practice for hours the different kicks, punches, and blocks I learned from these films.
These films ranged from dumb to awesome depending on the levels of action and fight scenes but they were never something someone could defend should it come to plot or story. They were a product of their time and although I’m not completely against remakes or sequels (the 80’s action scene lived off sequels) sometimes it’s best to just leave things in the past.
I was really interested in Kickeboxer: Vengeance when I saw the trailer. It looked promising, had some cool action scenes, and starred Jean Claude Van Damme as the teacher this time around instead of the protagonist. The story is the same as the first, Eric Sloan (Darren Shahlavi) is the kickboxing champ in the U.S. who gets an invite to fight Tong Po (Dave Bautista) in Thailand for a very large sum of money and bragging rights of being the best. Despite the reservations his brother Kurt (Alain Moussi) has, Kurt flies to Thailand to fight Tong Po and is murdered by the Thai boxing champ. Kurt sets out to train in Muy Thai, under his brothers trainer Durand (Jean Claude-Van Damme) so he can avenge his brothers death.
Kickboxer: Vengeance has my attention right from the start because the story began after Eric had died and Kurt is trying to sneak into Tong Po’s training camp to kill him. This gave some insight on what Tong Po does on his spare time, which is hold training and death matches but then it doesn’t take long before there are a ton of questions and little to no answers and it only gets worse from there. Then you have the very beautiful Sara Malakul Lane who plays Liu, a Thai cop who is investigating Tong Po but doesn’t seem to do much about it even though it appears the entire police force in behind her.
Kickboxer: Vengeance has clearly been hacked to death in the editing room causing continuity errors, an incoherent story, and some of the worst dubbing I’ve ever seen. Characters appear, disappear, then appear again for no reason and the questions start overtaking the answers as the film progresses and it really cuts into the small good things the film has going for it. Dave Bautista looks like the producer of this film kidnapped him and forced him to get as big as he could get and it works. He is menacing, powerful works right along with the original Tong Po played by Michel Qissi.
Core elements of the story were altered just to be different from the original film which leads to huge inaccuracies for characters and the overall plot. It’s revealed that Eric trained under Durand, who is supposed to be the best Muy Thai teacher but he is no match for Tong Po. Originally, Eric went to fight Tong Po with no training because he was arrogant and believed he stayed at his best all the time. This change neuters Durand as a trainer because he’s supposed to be the all knowing last resort who can kick the protagonist butt into gear and push him past him limits so he can be a better fighter.
Also, Eric is killed in an underground fight instead of a normal kickboxing match, otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to kill him, but this takes away from the curiosity of the final fight. In the original Kurt was training for a normal Muy Thai match only for Tong Po to change the rules and have them fight in the old way, which had the fighters hand wrapped in rope then crushed glass glued to them. Here we already know the setting so there is nothing to surprise us about the final fight.
Everything about this movie is just wrong. Alain Moussi just doesn’t have Van Damme’s charisma and it boring to watch. The characters and their actions don’t make sense, the fight scenes are so choreographed you can see the stunt men just waiting for their moment to come into the scene and get knocked down by a kick that wouldn’t stop a small child and training sequences are boring do nothing to excite you into training like the original did. The training sequences in the first film, whether you believed them or not, were amazing to watch I’ve quoted and reenacted the “kick the tree” scene over and over again.
There is more emotion in that one scene then there is in the entire 90 minute running time of Kickboxer: Vengeance which leads me to my biggest complaint. I’ve always felt that Van Damme is a much better actor then he’s been given credit for. The man was the epitome of 80’s action for me growing up, he was fun to watch, he still is an amazing martial artist and athlete but he was sleep walking through this role. It’s like he doesn’t want to do these anymore or he’s always tired and if that’s true then he should just stop and focus on other things, because he was the biggest letdown for me. Like this film, his heart just wasn’t into it and broke the heart of this 80’s kid. At least I can try and get over it since this movie introduced me to Sara Malakul Lane.
Directed by David Ayer, Suicide Squad, follows Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) in a post Superman world as a agent so deep within the U.S. government that she has the ability to pull together a team of DC villains (Deadshot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, Killer Croc, & Captain Boomerang, just to name a few) by planting a exploding device in their heads and force them to be the black ops answer to all the potential meta-human threats now that the Man of Steel is currently taking a dirt nap. Waller is forced to activate the Suicide Squad to evacuate an important figurehead from a nearby city that is being overrun by a new magical force intent on destroying the world.
For the most part Suicide Squad looks to deliver on what DC promised in it’s rather brilliant marketing plan until you the film starts to unfold. Will Smith, who plays the can’t miss assassin Deadshot, is a return to his prior form of movie star, as he really takes a hold of this character and runs with it. While some people were complaining about the race of the character (Deadshot is actually white) I was more worried if Smith could actually pull off playing a man who murders people for money but he did more then pull his weight and I would be up to a Deadshot movie now.
Everything you thought about Margot Robbie is true, there are times she stumbles with the character, her accent goes in and out, but for the most part Robbie really owns the role of Harley Quinn and it will be interesting to watch her grow with the character in future movies as she was the real heart behind the film. As for the rest of the cast everyone showed up to work. Jay Hernandez is unrecognizable as El Diablo and is one of the cooler characters, Karen Fukuhara as Katana is a real bad ass, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agba makes Killer Croc into a really menacing creature, I believed that Joel Kinnman could really control and lead the worst of the worst as Rick Flag, even Jai Courtney was entertaining.
Cara Delevingne was pretty amazing as Dr. Moon/The Enchantress until they did something with her character and she started to remind me the fairy godmother from Cinderella and gave her best bippity boppity boo impression. The biggest disappointment comes in Jared Leto as The Joker. When the stills and screen shots were released I was confident that Leto would be able to supersede Heath Ledger but as of right now it’s safe to say Ledger is still the reigning champ.
I’m willing to cut some slack since he’s hardly in the movie, now that we know most of his scenes were cut out, but there were some glaring problems in this incarnation which I noticed by the way Leto would growl in every scene and it was clear he was having a hard time talking through the grill he had in his mouth the entire film. I would like to see just how crazy he can get in future installments, mainly in the Ben Affleck directed Batman flick which is coming down the pipeline especially since Batman is one of the best thing about this film and he has less screen time then Leto. The entire film reeks of too many hands trying to make the family dinner and it’s at this point WB/DC really needs to wake up.
It’s at this point you start to zero on the real problem of this film. What started out as a fun ride with some of DC’s classic villains takes a complete and very quick nose dive as it enters it’s final act because it has too much going on and feels very bloated in scope and I found myself wondering whey didn’t they scale it down and have this non-super powered villains go against a terrorist group. Batman is supposed to be out searching for the meta-humans so why not have them have to stop someone like Black Mask from trying to take over a section of Gotham, or maybe stop him from trying to take over Arkham Asylum which would have been a good place to have Leto’s Joker and create the right conflict for Harley.
After watching Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and now Suicide Squad I’ve come to the conclusion, in order to salvage something from these films, is to look at them as a means to study and show exactly what not to do when making a comic book movie. Man of Steel is a lesson on not hiring a director that doesn’t get/like the character you’re making a movie about. BvS would be a perfect example in demonstrating the failures of not keeping your script simple and do not mash too much into your movie to the point that you end up cutting out important scenes that completely alter characters behavior and motivations, only to add them back in to have your film make sense. Finally, we have Suicide Squad, which is a perfect example of how editing can make or break your film.
If you’re dead set on watching this film no matter what like I was, then nothing is going to stop you, go to the theater, see it for yourself, but if you’re on the fence I would recommend to just wait and rent it. It’s not a complete waste of time but this is not film WB/DC needed right now.
Possible Spoilers, Obviously.
It’s rare that a movie can actually be better with a more footage added in, most of the time a film can be bogged down and forced to be trimmed to make more coherent movie but the Ultimate Cut of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a much more coherent film then it’s theatrical predecessor. I was not a fan of the original version when it hit theaters. Superman was a horrible person in how he seemed to just neglect people who needed help, Batman just came across as a complete sociopath, and the populated world was so stupid to believe that a man who could fly, shoot heated rays from his eyes, and juggle planets would use a gun to kill anyone, which is a major plot point of Lex Luthor’s plan to get the world to turn against Superman and for the much anticipated throw down between the two DC titans.
Why does the world believe Superman shot those people? Why is Batman terrorizing the port area in Gotham? How come Superman didn’t realize a bomb was about to go off during a Capitol hearing? All of these questions and much more are answered which not only help the overall flow of the film but also flesh out Henry Cavill’s Superman and alter ego Clark Kent as he investigates who The Batman is. Lois Lane (Amy Adams) gets more to do as she begins to pull the threads of the mystery surrounding the murders that seem to follow Superman wherever he goes. It’s a nice little mystery we are actually following along with that held my attention despite a few dumb moments sprinkled in just to move the plot along.
Henry Cavill shines a lot more as Superman given the added footage and Ben Affleck is still an amazing Batman, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne everyone is pretty much bringing their A-game except the main villain of the film.
Despite all the good, the film is still plagued with problems, namely Jessie Eisenberg, who continues to be awful as Lex Luthor. I did enjoy him more when he begins to lay out his plan to Superman just before the main event fight, but his performance will go down on future list as “Worst Villain Ever” for years to come. The fight between Batman and Superman now takes even longer to get to given the added footage and is still really short compared to all the build-up. Then you have Doomsday. The CGI looks better and I could tell what was going better then I could in theaters, but I still stand that they should have waited to bring Doomsday in and kill Superman until WB had built up the DC Universe a bit more. It would have been nice to see the members of the Justice League walking behind his casket in Metropolis in tandem with a select few at the actual funeral in Smallville.
Originally I hated the first half of the theatrical cut because it was boring and confusing but with the Ultimate Cut I am able to enjoy the film much more as a whole. Usually when someone releases a “Director’s Cut” with added footed it’s usually a cash grab with footage that doesn’t help the movie slightly *coughGreenLanterncough* if at all but in this case, the thirty extra minutes does bring a lot to the film but it still has the same problems with the useless dream sequences, the bloated final third of the film when Snyder wants to just conveniently drop hints of the future members of the Justice League. It still doesn’t work, feels really crow barred in and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is still useless until she’s called upon to be the warrior she is.
With the added footage you are now forced to sit through a three hour cut which is really taxing to sit through on anyone who have a thousand things to do every day and it comes with an R rating which it earns with a lot of CGI blood added into the fight scenes and a character dropping the F-bomb. If you are interested, I do recommend giving the film another look, it’s definitely worth it checking out if you want to see a better, yet exhausting, version but if you completely hated the original theactial released film then you’re better off skipping it all together. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice hits shelves today!
I’m just going to say right now that there is a possibility that the film could be spoiled for you here. I’m not going go through every aspect of the film, but in order to discuss my issues thoroughly, I really have to divulge into the larger problems, so you’ve been warned.
It’s surprising that after all these years that WB still hasn’t figured out how to market any of their large line-up of rich characters except Batman. We seem to go through the same routine every few years where they put all their chips on Batman, and don’t really use logic when it comes to their other characters. Superman Returns and Man of Steel were both troubled yet enjoyable films. Green Lantern was a horrible mess, and yet Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy has gone down as one of the greatest live action interpretations of Batman we’ve ever seen, at least until now. It seems that WB has once again shifted the focus into their new Batman while leaving Superman off on the sidelines.
While I did enjoy, even largely defend defend 2013’s Man of Steel, the problems the film had were more in the writing then the direction. The film had the action many Superman fans had been craving for ever since we’ve seen what CGI was capable of but a weak script had the characters saying and doing things that didn’t make much sense. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was WB/Snyder’s chance to correct those problems and issues Man of Steel created and would reverberate throughout the future movies and they have failed more then they succeeded.
While BvS promises to address the destruction, character motivations, and the fact that Superman doesn’t really act like Superman it tosses all of this to the side to show you a bunch of cool stuff. I always defended Superman’s actions in Man of Steel because it was literally his first day on the job, I was willing to overlook that he didn’t start out as the Superman we know and love because he hasn’t yet learned how to be THAT Superman. I am willing to watch him grow over a couple movies before becoming the leader of the Justice League and becoming that beacon of hope he’s been promised to be, but this did not happen.
I felt like I was sitting next to Zack Snyder and every time I had a question, he’s dangle some platinum diamond keys (or in other words something pretty from the movie) to distract me from anything that didn’t make sense. “Zack Snyder, why did Lex Luthor hate Superman so much?” I asked. “Well, he just does.”, Zack replied. “He hates him in the comic.” “Yes, but we know he hates him in the comic, but in this film, why?” Zack suddenly whipped out a cool action scene or something pretty for me to look at in hopes that I would forget my questions.
How did Batman know to dream, in such detail, about the Omega sign and Darkseid if he never met or heard of him before? Why didn’t he just dream of Superman going nuts and destroying the city like any normal nightmare? Well because Snyder and company wanted to show you something really cool and make a Batman figure to sell to kids. There is a weird moment where, at first, we’re lead to believe that the Flash (Ezra Miller) had ran back through time to warn Batman about Superman, only to have Batman wake up again like it was a dream. Leaving the audience to wonder if this really happened or if it was really a dream. We’re lead to wonder about Lex, as he keeps mentioning his father. Perhaps this isn’t the real Lex Luthor because it wouldn’t take anything for Snyder and company to go, “Oh, no, he wasn’t the real one, his dad is the real Lex Luthor.”, and here goes my underlying problem with BvS is it doesn’t commit to anything.
The film carries enough good stuff to keep it from dropping into Green Lantern level of horrible but, and this is putting it bluntly, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a cluster fuck of a film. Don’t ask for a plot because there really isn’t one. BvS feels more like Snyder wanted to direct a Batman movie more then a sequel to his Superman as the Cavill is left without anything to really do except be a punching bag for Batman during their inevitable match-up and serve as a plot point later in the film. There was a moment in this film where I felt that Cavill was going to deliver a strong speech about helping mankind and how he was going to be a better hero and who we need him to be when he’s called to Washington to answer for all the problems he has been causing but just when he’s about to speak there is a giant explosion before Henry Cavill has a chance to utter a single word.
Which leads me to my biggest complaint and yet a small compliment is Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, or Lex Luthor’s son because the movie left it open so the film makers could very easily change gears and say he isn’t the real Lex and his father could show up later on as the real Lex Luthor in later films. It’s not so much that he played Lex Luthor, but how he played him. Superman’s greatest villain has changed his backstory and motivations many times over the years but Eisenberg’s performance is kind of all over the place except near the end when he turns out to be really psychotic which I loved it’s just that the two performances just didn’t mesh well together so it’s jarring when Luthor switches.
BvS is nothing but a bunch of cool moments strung together in some vague attempt at a story, even the fight, which the entire movie is being touted around, is a lie when it gets down to the real reason they’re fighting which is extremely disappointing. Iron Man 2 and The Avengers: Age of Ultron caught major complaints from fans when they turned out to be basically trailers for what was coming later in the MCU and DC should not be left off the hook. There is no reason that WB/DC can’t make movies of the same caliber or better then the MCU but for whatever reason they seem content walking the line of mediocre.
Now that I’ve railed against this film, you should know I didn’t exactly hate it, in fact I enjoyed many things about it. It’s ironic that people did nothing but complain about the casting of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman and he turns out to be the best thing about it. This is THE best live-action Batman we’ve ever had. He fights and moves just like Batman should, he uses his gadgets and environments to pretty amazing results and I can’t wait to see what Affleck does with the character in his solo outing which he is directing and writing. Gal Gadot is pretty amazing as Wonder Woman, once again silencing the critics over her body type as she melds very well with Superman and Batman and it is great that anyone who has a daughter finally has a female superhero they can cheer on because Gadot really breathes new life into a character who has never appeared on a movie screen before.
BvS is a beautiful disaster, a film that hurts so much because of all the things it gets right is wrapped in mediocrity and it’s frustrating to see. This isn’t just a Marvel thing, or a chance to jump on the idiotic fanboy argument of which is better, Marvel or DC. Twenty years ago we would have been happy with whatever comic book movie we could get because no one was taking them seriously but times have changed and the power has shifted. The fans are now in charge of creating these films and the bar has been raised thanks to The Dark Knight Trilogy, the Marvel Films, Deadpool, the whole comic book movie craze kicked off with the small budgeted Blade, something no one really thought had a chance to do anything.
If you are a DC lover and you’ve been waiting for this movie and you’re going in with the mentality that you’re going to love it regardless, then by all means go and I hope you enjoy the film. There is enough here that you can nerd out on but let’s not kid ourselves here, there are major problems with BvS and it has me worried for Justice League because Zack Snyder couldn’t handle this simple story line how is he going to handle seven other main characters? This worries me because WB/DC is coming so late into the comic book movie game that they can’t afford to reboot this again and hope to start churning out their roaster of hero’s, they need to buckle down and start utilizing every tool they have to make a good film and start gaining some control over these film makers so we don’t get anymore Green Lantern’s or another film with so much wasted potential.
10. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
Can you make a bio-pic about a rap group interesting? Very simple make it about probably one of if not the most influential group in the history of hip-hop that is Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Easy-E, Dj Yella, and M.C. Ren a.k.a. N.W.A.. A group that shocked the upper class along with the middle class who would have probably have never heard of or listened to hip-hop before them. The film is as incendiary as anything that could come from Tarantino or Spike Lee but it’s meant to be, to remind those of us who are too young to remember what it was like when it was new. And it’s all captured in vivid color, from the late night debauchery, the fights, the disputes, the beatings, everything, it’s all captured. But it goes to an extra length to make sure we care about this group of people that while they are misfits who came from the wrong side of the track it’s more than anything about family. A dysfunctional family but a family none the less. A family that changed the course of music and pop culture forever.
9. STAR WARS: EPISODE 7 – THE FORCE AWAKENS
After being left to wrestle with the question if the prior trilogy, “The Prequel Trilogy,” brought down the polish of the great space opera for almost a decade or if it was even worthy of being included. And then the news came; George Lucas sold his company, and “Star Wars,” to of all the places, Disney. Then would we, or could we get a worthy prequel or sequel to the series that launched more than a thousand dreams into a galaxy far, far away. Well say no more J.J. Abrams to the rescue! The man who rescued and resurrected another “Star” saga, “Star Trek,” from the staleness and blandness that had suffocated it for almost a decade as well. Here we are returned back to when everything was, or looked, real. No cold overdone digital everything that we had gotten, he returns the saga to what made the original trilogy so successful, it’s about good vs. evil, that’s it. The story is simple it’s a hero’s journey, a valentine, a love letter, a return to what made it just so much fun to sit in a crowded movie theater with the lights out and smile with pure, almost childlike joy. And we get an obvious career/star making performances from Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, just as the trilogy made unknowns such as Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill almost 40 years ago, this will do that for them as well.
8. THE MINIONS
You could criticize that there really isn’t any humanity or the depth that the other computer/digital animation rivals Pixar put into there creations but the masters of this world doesn’t try to compete with them, they just know what they do and do what they do. They make things that are loveable and likeable and come one, how many of us love those lovable “Minions,” huh? I thought so. It a great big, goofy, unstoppably loveable, sloppy St. Bernard of a film that manages to create more laughs in a frame than many comedies have even tried to do this year, or almost any, for that matter. It’s more Marx Brothers or Three Stooges than anything it harkens back to the day when sight comedy had to truly be watched and followed and set up, and it’s a welcome return and valentine to the old school days of comedy. The kind of comedies that nobody even attempts to create or re-create for that matter. It just wants us to have fun, doesn’t try to change the world and it doesn’t even attempt to, it knows it’s place and it’s a welcome treat.
7. THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Joss Whedon continues with his ride and trials into the Marvel Universe in his latest and sadly, possibly last outing here. Unlike so many super heroes where we just have to like everyone and everyone has to get along and everyone has to unite, because they just have to, right? Well, not so fast, Whedon’s a popcorn movie’s best friend making sure that he takes his time in development before just handing it to his audience. We must know who each person is, their motives, their back story, enjoy the characters, understand who they are and engross in the story, and believe me we can’t thank you enough. Too long, to get to the action you say, HOG WASH!!! Whedon doesn’t just give us action, he gives us a story he wants us to know this group of people are more than anything than superheroes they’re family. Granted he does leave the ending a bit up in the air, but then again what superhero film is close ended I ask? Exactly. He makes sure nothing is done with shallow resolve everything happens for a reason, it may take time to get there, but in a where were nobody has anytime for anything there is Whedon who makes sure that we take our time that our story is developed. While sadly this is Whedon’s last outing but thankfully it’s a welcome farewell.
6. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
After spending a few years in the world of kids movies like “Happy Feet,” hey it won him an Oscar, Aussie filmmaker George Miller returns to action. But wait, it’s been almost 30 years since the last chapter and, oh no, “Max” himself, Mel Gibson, is nowhere to be found. Oh no only disaster can come from this right? Wrong, very wrong. Miller returns to action and it’s a welcome return at that. First of all, Tom Hardy, does a more than fine job of filling in for Mr. Gibson, he’s a loner in a lone land void of high tech slickness and cgi silliness. It’s all here, all in front of the camera, real world stunt men, real world toughness, and believe me it’s a welcome departure from all of the crap that so many action directors have tried to shove down our throats. It’s gritty, it’s cool and it’s the kind of action escapism that’s so rarely done that we never see it anymore. And in case you’re wondering did you have to see the others? No, Miller makes sure to honor the old guard that saw the originals and rebuild and continue with a new chapter for young fans. Thank you for it too.
5. KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE
This year we got a lot of spy movies, some great, some ok, some you could do without but with everyone trying to imitate Bond here’s one that was more Bond than, well, Bond has been. A spy thriller that went back to the days when Bond was more about fun and cool. Yea, it was over-the-top but for those of us who remember the old spy films so were they. And thanks to this little gem of a thriller, which is, not only cool, but also it’s action-packed, funny and surprisingly sexy. Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Samuel L. Jackson and a group of terrific newcomers all combine to show us how spy films/spy thrillers were supposed to be, just fun. And it does that in spades, when you’re not cheering, you’re smiling and when you’re not smiling you’re laughing, it’s golden popcorn all the way. Thank you to all of you for it so those just looking for something to entertain and nothing more this was, excuse me, this IS the treat we’ve been wanting for quite sometime.
Crime thrillers, gotten boring well at least we still have good old Michael Mann. The man behind the quintessential 80’s TV series “Miami Vice,” the top-notch action thriller/modern day western “Heat,” and the uber stylized dark thrill ride “Collateral” and he brings all his mojo to the world of computer hacking here. Just two people arguing over instant messaging right? Wrong. It’s a top notch cat and mouse chase from one side of the globe to the other and if you loose interest or wonder if you’ll keep it, well thanks again to Mann a film maker/writer who doesn’t just research his scripts he goes into exhaustive detail but doesn’t do it to boredom either. When it’s time to deliver the action, he delivers, he gets more tension and action out of a phone call or a aerial shot than film makers half his age could dream of. And in a world where every young filmmaker just tries to make action films MTV style music videos Mann knows that adding style doesn’t mean flash. It means making sure your script and environment is engrossing and that everyone is riveted by what you see. Thank you for it Mr. Mann.
3. INSIDE OUT
For anyone who thinks Disney’s best years are behind them, OH…so wrong! Thank you Pixar! With digital taking over everything in the world of animation there seems to be one, ONLY ONE who knows to not leave it at visual spectacle….STORY COMES FIRST! Yes, I won’t lie visually it was impressive, as anything that could be from Pixar but the true star is the characters. You look inside of them, in their head and in their soul. You laugh when they laugh and even, I kid you not, cry when they cry. It moves you like nothing you’ve seen this year. Who could possibly think that a cartoon, yes a cartoon could do this. Look no further than here, thank you Pixar for reminding us all of the importance of story and character. Make this film, in fact make all of Pixar’s films mandatory for all who have even attempted or dreamed to make a film or write a script.
2. The Hateful Eight
Leave it to Tarantino to return to the western of old-times, the days of Howard Hawks and Sam Peckinpah. Granted neither of them probably could have dreamed of or thought of getting away with the amount of brutal over-the-top bloody violence QT is able to get away with, but who cares. When it comes to knowing how to entertain few have managed to combine top caliber entertainment with such gleeful energy as him. An ensemble ride that’s not just well acted but it’s damn funny! Bringing back regulars Tim Roth, Michael Madson and Samuel L. Jackson along some newbie’s Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern and a wonderful comeback performance from Jennifer Jason Leigh it moves at a better pace than any action film that’s been on screen this year. Some complaints have been made about the length and characters but well, duh, it’s called “THE HATEFUL EIGHT” not the likable eight and it’s length, oh just see it. Like I said it moves fast, so fast you want more when it’s over.
1. BLACK MASS
It’s so rare that we get treated to a knockout of a film, especially a gangster film, I think the last to come to mind was “The Departed” or “Goodfellas,” but now we can add just a sledgehammer of a film in the form of “Black Mass.” It’s as entertaining as it is brutal, as exciting as it is a spectacle, and as well acted as anything that we’ve been treated to in a while. Thank you for that Mr. Depp! With the most spot on, straight ahead, unforgiving complex performance as James “Whitey” Bulger the gangland leader who ruled and terrorized South Boston with an iron fist for years. A film so lush in energy and talent that in a world where everything and everyone is reduced to just imitating everything done by Tarantino and Scorsese that we could have yawned all the way home, not here! No style, no color, nothing pretty we see into their world, their world of bleakness, brutality and even occasionally sadness (witness Deep and a wonderful cameo from Dakota Johnson, scene of the year). Nothing is over the top, here everyone brings their A-game to the table, from Depp dealing with a “rat” to his stare down with someone over something as innocent as a steak, it’s done with terrifying menace and relentless energy. Special extra thanks have to go to director Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart,” “Out of the Furnace”) he get performances like few have seen out of not only Depp but his cracker jack supporting cast, Kevin Bacon, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Adam Scott, and Dakota Johnson (I bring her up again because I was wrong, after seeing this apparently SHE CAN ACT), and also removing all bits of anything that could compare it with anything else. When something violent happens it’s not with a burst of laughter and cool it’s done with coldness. It’s not just a film it’s a roller coaster of power, a film lovers delight, the kind of film that most Hollywood movies wouldn’t have the guts to make. It’s truly worthy of every bit of credit.
Written by Jason Greathouse
Considering how we always have a very small amount of holiday movies from year to year, I always find myself jumping right to one that actually looks good so I can get my holiday fix. It’s a shame that many filmmakers, and the Hollywood machine itself, just can’t get it right when it comes to holiday movies because it’s an untapped resource for people like me who are clamoring for Halloween movies, Thanksgiving (yes those too), and Christmas movies. I grew up in a time when I had holiday shows and movies hitting my TV year after year before the production of these show and movies found themselves in Hallmark Channel hell. So when I saw the trailer for Krampus I was enjoyed beyond belief. Here was a horror Christmas film about the the “Anti-Santa” who punishes children for misbehaving.
The film follows Max (Emjay Anthony) who, despite his best intentions, isn’t having the greatest Christmas. No one seems to be in the Christmas spirit. His sister, Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) hates him, his very liberal mom and dad (Adam Scott & Toni Collette) aren’t in the mood to deal with him with the impending visit of his extremely rude and very conservative Aunt & Uncle (Allison Tolman & David Koechner) and their stereotypical redneck children. When the two families collide Max rips up his letter he was writing to Santa and tosses it out the window, an action he unknowingly causes Krampus, to come on Christmas and punish his family.
Directed by Michael Daughtry (Trick r’ Treat), the film is very strong in it’s creepy atmosphere and mostly practical effects, and Krampus himself is terrifying to see but he’s largely missing. He spends the first part of the film sneaking around the shadows like the shark from Jaws, until he fully reveals himself near the end and this is where my problems with the film lies. We spend a large amount of time with this horrible family and I get you’re supposed to hate them based on your political beliefs but they were too far on the left or right that I hated all of them throughout the entire film and didn’t feel sorry for anyone as they were picked off one-at-a-time. I get that you’re supposed to dislike the characters, even flat out hate them, but Daughtry and company decided to make the two main characters, played by Adam Scott and David Koechner, and their families are so liberal and conservative I couldn’t wait for them to get knocked off.
Another issue I had was with Krampus is Krampus himself or the lack of. Instead of having the main villian attempting to get in the house we have to spend an hour watching his minions, which consist of a killer teddy bear, a evil doll that looks like a tree angel, ginger bread cookies (which by far are the worst effect), a giant Jack-in-the-Box that slithers around the house like a snake, and some dark elves, until Krampus finally shows up in all his glory but when he finally does arrive it’s amazing to see. The mixture of practical effects and CGI blend together pretty flawlessly.
It’s clear that Daughtry is attempting to make his own version of Gremlins and he largely succeeds over his failures but the film just feels incomplete where Trick r Treat was more rounded Krampus feels cut, incomplete, and really suffers from the PG-13 rating because it can only go so far in the horror and comedy instead of really committing hard to both.
In the end, I did enjoy the movie, it’s visually stunning, creepy, funny and mostly hits all the right points and I feel it’s another one of those movies that will benefit from a sequel because it would allow Daughtry to build of the lore of Krampus. The film really showcases what’s wrong with our society around the holidays and how we’re more interested in the things we get then the company of our loved ones and how there are quite a few people who could use a visit from Krampus this Christmas, but unless you’re hankering for a this type of movie you’re better off just waiting for it to hit Blu-ray/DVD.
Every time Marvel announces a new project, save for the usual Avengers and it’s main roster of characters, I found myself wondering if this project will catch on or will this be that one project that actually fails. I questioned Captain America: The Winter Soldier because I wasn’t convinced Cap couldn’t work in today’s setting and I was proven wrong in a really big way as Winter Soldier is one of my favorite Marvel films. I questioned Guardians of the Galaxy because the characters were so obscure I had completely forgotten about them until the movie was announced however. Ant-Man only because I was never impressed with the character. I even questioned Daredevil, despite being so excited to check out the show I woke up at 3 a.m. to get started when it was released on Netflix. My point is, it’s getting kind of ridiculous to question Marvel when they consistently pump good to amazing material.
Jessica Jones, the second show in their four show line-up, which will consist of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, completely pulls away from the action packed first season of Daredevil and falls more into into a more film noir, mystery genre, and later a flat out horror film. Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is a hard drinking, cussing, private investigator in New York who is recovering from being physically and psychologically raped by Killgrave (David Tennet), who can control anyone around him by just speaking. Jessica is haunted by the events so badly that she has pulled away from society much save for the two relationships in the form of her childhood best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor), and Malchom (Eka Darville) a heroin junkie who lives down the hall. Jessica discovers that Killgrave is still alive when he has taken a young college girl and forced her to kill her parents and now Jessica must prove his abilities exist to prove the girl is innocent of the horrible crime.
The biggest strength behind Jessica Jones is it’s actually a story of a woman dealing with the aftermath of rape and torture in the guise of a super hero show. Show-runner Melissa Rosenberg really tackles the subject of a rape victim having to live her life after the attack Throughout the course of the season we slowly learn what Jessica went through while under the control of Killgrave, how it affected her, and why she’s so adamant on stopping him from having that control over anyone again. The show also avoids Jessica having to depend on Luke Cage (Mike Colter) a strong man who is literally unbreakable due to his rock hard skin. The two do team up through several episodes but never once does Jessica do something stupid and need him to bail her out. As deep of a hole she digs herself throughout the season she spends twice the effort digging her self out.
Despite all of this, the show has it’s problems. For one, and I had the same problem with Daredevil, you can tell that some of the shows were just padding to fill out the 13 episode order, with characters doing stupid things just to keep Jessica from killing Killgrave on the spot or getting him away from her just so she can chase him down for another 2-3 episodes. I also didn’t like the “Killgrave Support Group” subplot which consisted of a group of people who managed to survive their encounter with the psychopathic killer and would sit around and talk about what they felt and thought while being under Killgrave’s control. It just came across as silly and didn’t have the impact they were going for. The show also lags through many episodes as Jessica closes in and actually captures Killgrave, only to have him escape time and time again because the characters do something stupid then have him actually outsmart them.
Although I still enjoyed Daredevil more, mainly because I’m an action junkie, Jessica Jones is a very strong entry into the Marvel catalog and the series does have promise to moving forward since they decided to almost completely forgo an origin story and instead trickle hints of Jessica Jones creation throughout the first season with a promise to dive into her past in season 2. I highly recommend checking out Jessica Jones which is currently streaming on Netflix so you won’t be totally lost when she crosses paths with Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist in the future but I also strongly stress the difference in genre’s between Jessica Jones and Daredevil for those of you expecting a flat out action series.
I’m not the type to just completely turn away from a reboot because I don’t believe that are horrible by design. Granted, we went through the very dark ages of reboots just being horrible messes but many people are discovering that a reboot is a way to start over on a series or movie that could of had any number of problems ranging from bad directors, producers, writers, etc or it just failed to connect to an audience at that time. So here are three 80’s TV shows I feel need to be rebooted whether in cartoon format or live action.
This series focuses on 5 lion robots and their pilots as they fight the evil forces of King Zarkon and Prince Lotor. The first season of Voltron, featuring the “Lion Force Voltron”, and was adapted from the Japanese anime television series Beast King GoLion. In this undefined future era, the Voltron Force was in charge of protecting the planet Arus (ruled by Princess Allura) from the evil King Zarkon (from planet Doom), his son Lotor, and the witch Haggar, who would create huge Robeasts to terrorize the people of Arus.
Voltron was the real deal in the 80’s, I didn’t meet one kid in school who wasn’t watching the show, and we all wanted to be Voltron on the playground. The action and fight scenes were pretty well done given the 80’s style animation because it was a Japanese animation style which really helped against the very dated voice over as the crew. It didn’t hold back as the Lion Force used Voltron to cut through and pretty much decimate any villain they came across which caused the first time I can ever remember parents griping about a toy when a boy took the Voltron throwing star and smashed it across his friends forehead while they were playing.
Given that the story takes place somewhere other then earth and space travel it would be nice to see the franchise in a movie format because they would have the budget to travel to all these new worlds plus be able to give us the space battles in the vain of Star Wars.
There was talk about this becoming a new movie franchise after Transformers become a success. So what happened to it? Pretty much the success of Transformers along with some legal red tape. It became apparent pretty quickly the monster that the Transformers franchise was becoming so I can imagine other factions of the Hollywood movie machine, for the first time possibly ever, deciding to wait and not full on compete with the Transformers franchise but the real problem was the bidding war which has been cleared up since 2014 but here we are about to enter 2016 and still without a Voltron movie.
Bionic policeman Commander Stargazer recruited the SilverHawks, heroes who are “partly metal, partly real,” to fight the evil Mon*Star, an escaped alien mob boss who transforms into an enormous armor-plated creature with the aid of Limbo’s Moonstar.
Quicksilver (formerly Jonathan Quick) leads the SilverHawks, with his metal bird companion TallyHawk at his side. Twins Emily and Will Hart became Steelheart and Steelwill. Country-singing Col. Bluegrass played a sonic guitar and piloted the team’s ship, the Miraj (pronounced “mirage” on the series, but given that spelling on the Kenner toy). Rounding out the group is a youngster “from the planet of the mimes,” named Copper Kidd (usually called “Kidd” for short), a mathematical genius who spoke in whistles and computerized tones. Their bionic bodies are covered by a full-body close-fitting metal armor that only exposes the face and an arm, the armor is equipped with a retractile protective mask, retractile wings under-arm (except Bluegrass) thruster on elbows, and laser-weapons over the body. At the end of every episode, Copper Kidd was quizzed (along with the home audience) on various space facts by Col. Bluegrass.
SilverHawks was another show that had a very interesting idea but didn’t last past one season. The idea of space police and an intergalactic mobster butting heads can make for a pretty exciting show or movie and Mon*Star was pretty terrifying to us kids back then. His transformation traumatized me when I first saw it because he already looked deadly before he harnessed the power of the Moonstar which you can check out the freaky transformation below.
I think SilverHawks would greatly benefit from a big Hollywood reboot, since it relies on traveling to different planets and dealing with an entire star system of different aliens on both sides of good and bad, we could really stretch our imagination. Think the space effects from Intersteller with the space battles on par with the Battlestar Galactica (another reboot) and the newest Star Trek.
The Pirates of Dark Water
This is a show that I would love to see brought back as a series on Netflix. The story is set in the alien world of Mer, which is being devoured by an evil substance known as Dark Water. Only Ren, a young prince, can stop it by finding the lost Thirteen Treasures of Rule which is the only thing that can keep the Mer safe from the Dark Water. His loyal crew of misfits that help in his journey are Tula, a Ecomancer, Niddler, a monkey-bird, and Loz, a treasure-hungry pirate. Ren and his crew are being chased by the evil pirate lord, Bloth (I would recommend a possible name change on this one), who will stop at nothing to get the treasures for himself and provides so that he can control the Dark Water for himself.
I loved this show when I was a kid and I do mean that. The only other time I became excited over a cartoon as a kid was FOX’S X-Men cartoon. Just like it, I had to watch every single episode because I was so invested on what was going on and enjoying this entire new world that was being unfolded before me, but it does have it’s issues. Just like He-Man and Thundercats it’s extremely dated but it had a really interesting world, characters, and so much they could explore. Think of it as Pirates of the Caribbean on an alien world with 21 seas and where nearly everyone was a pirate. During it’s short life, it only lasted 21 episodes, Ren and his crew went to some pretty amazing islands with all kinds of animals that were just as dangerous as the sea and the creatures that lived in it.
The possibility of an updated version, with the current effects, and the way television shows have grown to be the great new medium for storytelling, we could have a very amazing action show.
So there are three shows I’d like to see rebooted into either another show or a movie. Do you have any ideas? Share your thoughts.
Needless to say, but I’ll do it anyway, this article could contain some spoilers for The Walking Dead, so read at your own risk if you are not up-to-date.
So last night The Walking Dead had another major character die (although I’m still debating that he actually died) and I, like many others, could not watch it last night. I have a cold, need my rest, plus my significant other records something on our DVR that overlaps TWD so I have to record the 10 p.m. showing if I want to stay current and I couldn’t stay up late due to the medication I was on to keep my head and lungs from exploding. Usually I jump up early Monday morning and squeeze in the episode before getting into my normal morning routine of getting ready for my job which isn’t writing for you fine folk…yet. I have to completely avoid Facebook, Twitter, hell even the news until I watch the last episode because we live in a world where many think it’s OK to spoil a TV show or movie.
This is not OK, and I shouldn’t have to avoid what’s going on with my friends, family, or whatever I’m looking up on the internet until I finally watch the show. I still haven’t watched the finale of Gotham, and I haven’t watched any episodes this season because I have been really busy. Does that mean everyone should have to walk on egg shells and not talk about a show simply because I haven’t seen it? Of course not. I was four season’s behind The Shield when the last season was getting ready to air. I had only seen the first two seasons of Lost when they announced that the show as entering their finale season. I spent my time getting caught up so that I could enjoy the conversation and enjoy the show without having to worry about it being spoiled and I did that with this nice little help of the mystical, and sometimes rarely seen, Spoiler Warning.
As I was working my way through Lost and The Shield, I managed to avoid any spoilers at all because before every post or any article there was a Spoiler Warning in the status, article, Tweet, etc and it’s because of this warning. I was able to catch up on the two shows and enjoy them without having anything spoiled. I shouldn’t have to avoid the internet for fear of having something spoiled because I have a life that keeps me busy. There are many people out there, like me, who have to work, whether it’s one job or more, side projects, freelance jobs, or maybe your kids are sick, there are thousands of reason that can keep someone from seeing their favorite show the night it airs.
The website, comicbookmovie.com, had a major problem with this when they posted a picture of zombie Shane a mere minutes after the episode ended and it still hadn’t aired in California and the owner of the site refused to do anything about it, even cited that readers would return anyway so what did it matter. I avoid the website because of this as the owner of the site had adapted the thinking that ‘it’s the internet, stay away from it if you don’t want spoilers’ instead of fighting against any spoilers at all.
This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your show with your friends on social media, just like I did at the top of this article, just let people know you will be talking about the whatever TV show or movie, and discuss it in the comments so that anyone wanting to avoid spoilers can do so until they’re ready to join in on the conversation. Just because we have the internet does not give permission to spoil or excuse any spoilers. Even before the day of the internet you would go to your friend who watched the same show you did and ask them if they had seen last nights episode. If they did you talked about it, if they didn’t you waited until they were ready. For some reason we live in a society that believes if you didn’t catch the movie or show then oh well you don’t deserve the respect of not having it spoiled for you. So please people, give some spoiler warning and call out the dumb shits who don’t abide by the spoiler rules. So to put it bluntly, don’t be a dick.