Some Trailers, “Hmm…” Version

Okay, my “don’t watch any more trailers!” phase lasted about two whole months or so before I started getting bugged by a few folks to, you know, go watch some trailers. I really didn’t want to because in my mind, they make me less likely to want to see a film thanks to too many of them being more or less edited in such a similar fashion that they tend to blend into “CG… or not CG” affairs with performance a secondary consideration. But that’s just my more jaded take. That and hey, I find seeing films totally cold makes them a lot more enjoyable.

In any event, I finally sat down and caught a few trailers for upcoming or already released films and as predicted, liked a few and didn’t like others. Here are a few I liked:

Underwater:

 

Okay, I’ve liked seeing Kristen Stewart really getting into some roles where you forget she was in all those Twilight films, so this not quite new (it was supposed to be released in 2017) 20th Century Fox release has my interest piqued. There’s an ALIEN vibe here that I like but the film seems to touch a few bases I hope get tackled well. It certainly seems to be more action-oriented than Ridley Scott’s 1979 film, though. But then again, modern trailers tend to make everything in a genre look like it’s going to pack in endless action scenes. I’m hopeful this one explores more than expected and can stand alone without a need for sequels galore. We shall see, of course.

Continue reading

Review: Pokémon Detective Pikachu

detective P01

One of these folks has not has his coffee yet. One has had too much.

pokemon_detective_pikachu_ver2_xlgWhile I’ll confess I’m more of a Monster Rancher person (ah, memories of popping in random or specific CD’s to generate monsters!), I did dabble in a tiny bit of Pokémon starting back in the ’90’s, playing bit of the Red version and a few other titles, eventually tapping out because it wasn’t for me. In he 2000’s. I did eventually play a few of the free games from the franchise though. Both Pokémon Rumble and Pokémon Shuffle were decent, simple time killers on the 3DS for a while. But I wouldn’t say I was devoted to catching them all and nope, I couldn’t tell some evolved types apart even if you handed me a cheat sheet.

That said, I do know Pikachu is a species of Pokémon, so only seeing ONE of them in Pokémon Detective Pikachu was having my well-aged eyebrow creak up a little. Granted, it’s very likely that some younger kids would be a bit confused seeing more than one, so there’s that to consider. That said, I’ve had random conversations with super diehard fans over the years where from kid to adult, they can go on about Pokémon for a while as if they’re real creatures and you can learn everything about them, even if you’re afraid to ask. Try getting stuck in an elevator with a few restless Pokémon fans for about an hour, and someone’s practically guaranteed to whip out their Pokédex notes (NOTE: this has happened three times over a few years, so I must be either lucky… or I need to take the stairs more).

Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. Detective Pikachu is quite a decent enough film, hitting all the right technical notes (the assorted Pokémon are all perfectly brought to life courtesy of some spectacular CG) and falling back on the usual formulaic three-act structure you’d expect from a movie like this. It’s also likely the best live action videogame to film translation to date, I’d say, Especially after sitting through a few cash-in films over the years that were lacking in a few areas. For anyone new to this sort of thing, it might be a bit overwhelming what with all the visual information presented onscreen (or: this is one very busy film). But for the most part, director Rob Letterman keeps things interesting and for a film partially based on a game of the same name, it’s pretty solid.

Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: The Split (1968)

the split 01

I’d very safely say that her ‘do outdoes his hair here, huh? (say that five times fast).

The Split

Is everybody happy? Well, not for long…

As crime capers go, Gordon Flemyng’s 1968 action/thriller The Split is flawed, but pretty good, even if the big money haul it showcases would be 100% impossible if attempted today. Granted, 2010’s The Town presented a similar heist that was more modern and also successful (until it wasn’t), but in this earlier film, anyone who tries what’s done here today will be in for a few problems from the get-go. You’ll see, but let’s talk about the plot for a bit.

Jim Brown plays Mac McClain, a recently released thief who takes on the task to rob the Los Angeles Colosseum of $500,000 during a football game after he’s led to the job a partner in crime, Gladys (Julie Harris, in a big bouffant hairdo!). After a bumpy but eventually successful encounter/reunion with his ex-wife Ellie (Diahann Carrol). Mac sets his plans into action. Naturally, color plays a big role here, so this first ever R-rated film plays it big on the use of language and insinuations about Mac from a few characters.

the split 07

Lets just say, in the words of one Admiral Ackbar…. (that’s your cue, dear reader)

He recruits four other man to aid him in some rather ridiculous ways, but that gives you the chance to see them react to McClain’s crazy testing. He gets into a big knock down, drag out fight with Bert Clinger (Ernest Borgnine) in Bert’s office, but splits out a sliding door before the man knows what’s what. Then, he leads shady limo driver Harry Kifka (Jack Klugman) into a car chase where he wrecks Harry’s limo and a nice Corvette in the process. McClain also gives suave shooter Dave Negli (Donald Sutherland) a tryout (the crack shot misses his target, but keeps his cool). And then there’s wily safe-cracker Marty Gough (Warren Oates), who gets a hooker, and a vault that needs escaping as his weird tests. Yes, Mac chooses all four to join in on his plans and as expected, they’re initially not happy about this.

Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: Doctor X (DVD)

Doctor X_02

For all that trouble setting their private and expensive game show up, no one could guess what was behind Curtain #1.

Dr. XLet’s just say that as a kid of, oh, seven or eight years old back in the 70’s, I had no idea (not a clue!) what I was watching when the local public TV station ran Doctor X so very many years ago. I do recall not knowing what was going on for a bit and some parts were wacky, but yes indeed, I did perk up when the “Synthetic Flesh” scene kicked in. Hell, I was a Frankenstein fan by then, even if my exposure was courtesy Universal Pictures and James Whale and not Mary Shelley until I read the book years later.

When I revisited the good Dr. Jerry Xavier (Lionel Atwill), and the film as I got older into my teens, elements started to click and it was all “Oh, that’s what that means!” on more elements I didn’t understand previouslyWhich of course means that as a grumpier and older old man these days, I’m all over this freak-fest like I’ve run into an old friend I haven’t seen in a while. This one’s pretty funny, pretty grim and completely bonkers. Oh, by the way, Doctor X sounds better and scarier than Doctor Jerry. That and if it were called Dr. J, there’s that slim chance a slimmer handful of folks might get fooled into thinking it’s a sports biopic (heh).

Doctor X_01

Jacket jealousy here, as Fay’s got the stripes. but Tracy’s got the tweed and they both win the fashion lottery.

It’s also a great pre-code film, what with its discussion of a few hot topics those who think “well, those old movies were DULL!” might find they’re a bit incorrect about if they ever get off that dead horse they always jump on and see a few of these films. Now a little murder? Hey, that’s fine and dandy in a film about a mysterious killer. Toss in elements like that mysterious killer who happens to cannibalize corpses, a bit of prostitution and rape as story elements, plus a few old guys sitting around talking about their fetishes (hey, that may be the most creepy thing about this to some!), and more atmosphere that you can shake a few sticks at, and you get a true classic.

Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: Waterworld

WW water

Uh, hey pal… you’re not gonna DRINK that, are you?

WATERWORLD ArrowMovie memory #1764 (or so): sitting in a packed theater back in 1995 watching the opening sequence to Waterworld as Kevin Costner’s Mariner character urinates into a plastic container, then pours that pee into a dicey-looking filtration system and drinks the results. You’d best believe the bulk of the audience let out a collective “EWWWWWW!” and yes, there was one guy sitting somewhere in the back of the darkened theater who yelled out something about how ice cubes would have made that recycled beverage go down better.

“EWWWWWW!”

Flash forward to me watching the three (!!!) versions of the film in Arrow Video’s packed to the gills (heh) with bonus features triple-disc set and I kind of want one of those funky filter devices just so I don’t need to take breaks when I’m going through my film backlog. For all its expensive sets, Costner’s dedicated performance, some amazing stunt work and a completely and perfectly bonkers performance by Dennis Hopper as its main villain, the film is still flawed in that, “Where’s the beef?” manner when it comes to a few key plot elements. Granted, its ecology past peril theme is a bit more relevant it today’s climate (and yes, that’s a double pun, kids). But there’s no real “science” here if you’re looking for it. Hell,  if the Earth does lose its major land masses underwater as shown here, an overblown big-budget sci-fi action flick isn’t exactly where we’re headed in that watery future, glub, glub.

Continue reading

Movie Review: Justice League

Justice League MPIn its current state, Justice League both looks and feels like an incomplete film that should have gotten its release delayed simply in order for the creative team to make a more entertaining (and more polished) experience. As it stands, this hunk of colorful, expensive fluff will no doubt still make a good chunk of its money back and also get a home video release about three months or so from now in an “extended cut” that, like the extended disc versions of Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice should have been the version people are paying to see in theaters. Well, not that longer versions of either helped much thanks to their plots being way too full of hard to fill holes.

That said, the first thing that popped into my head as I was watching this somewhat disappointing film unfold was a wonder if the film was even storyboarded (ironic for a comic book flick, right?). As it stands, it’s almost as if someone cut out pages from a few dozen DC Comics, pasted them to some comic art paper, whited out the word balloons and had a few writers add dialog before rearranging everything. While the end result is indeed still watchable, it’s not very good at all when compared to other films of this type. Although, after some reflection I’ve decided it’s decidedly “entertaining” if you shut off your brain and take in its more comic book-like moments and not take anything at all too seriously (which, sad to say, some fans won’t tale kindly to hearing). That said, it’s running time of 120 minutes seems oddly enough, too short for a Zach Snyder film. Weird, but yeah – the film is actually too short because it packs in way too much character info in during that two hours and kind of overlooks its main villain in the process.

Continue reading

IT Teaser Trailer: What? That? Oh, Right.

Okay… it’s confession time, again. CLOWNS DO NOT SCARE ME. At all. There, I said it. Hey, I grew up going to circuses on class trips (the animal waste smell was worse than the greasepaint talent, folks), watching Bozo the freakin’ Clown on TV, so clowns make me laugh. Even Killer Klowns From Outer Space. Okay, serial killers in real life who’ve dressed as clowns? Yeah, but that’s different. Hell, I’ve even painted an evil clown for a magazine cover back in the day and my sleep has been secure. Well, up to the point a bunch of orange clowns slipped into seats of power with plans to turn the rivers and skies blacker than the unclean resources they claim are otherwise. But, I digress. I do like the look of this from the trailer, haven’t reread the book in over 15 years or longer and thought Tim Curry looked great as Pennywise because his makeup gave him a light bulb shaped noggin that reminded me of Greedy Killerwatt. Yes, I am as old as dirt.

Anyway, we’ll soon see how Pennywise it was to remake this Stephen King classic, but as he’s given it his blessing, it certainly looks to be some sort of more definitive version than that old TV movie was. I predict a huge horror hit because humans are scared of the strangest stuff that’s not at all real while strangely doing scary stuff to each other straight out of a horror flick on a daily basis. Go figure.

-GW

Save

Suicide Squad: Mission: Impossible With Some Bad, Bad Men (& Women)

suicide_squad_ver12_xlg
 

So, yup. If that first trailer from last year didn’t get your eyeballs and ears all perked up, Warner says watch this and you’ll be feeling around on the floor for both eyeballs and ears after they’ve popped out of and off your head. Go get something clean like a big plate to put on the floor near your monitor (I’ll wait) and click below:


 

See what I mean? You have until August 5 to find your eyeballs and ears, by the way. Also, if you do find those eyeballs first, go check out the rest of the posters over at Imp Awards just because they’re an even dozen simple and pretty cool designs.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice TV Spots: Capes & Jaw-Juts on the Menu for March

And so, it begins. By the time Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters in March, I fully expect to see no fewer than 25 or so of these 30-second (or longer) TV spots that still won’t give away all of the film’s “surprises”. I’m at the stage where these comic book blockbusters don’t surprise me much if at all because both DC and Marvel traffic heavily in killing any actual suspense these films bring thanks to wanting to keep as many main and some supporting characters around as possible as a means of generating income. Alternate universe stories aside, they can’t “kill” off a *major* character anymore (without replacing him or her) because they’d be removing a slice of that easy revenue stream fans pony up on a regular basis.

That said, collateral damage seems to me more than okay in these flicks. In English: you sure can lay waste to cities great and small, killing thousands or even millions of civilians as a plot pushing element. “Dead” superheroes get to come back to life at some point, but dead normal folks stay dead long after the rubble has been cleaned up. I suppose there’s a moral here, but I’m too lazy to look for one today.

In The Heart Of The Sea: One Pissy Whale = Low Sea Men Count


Hmmm. On one hand, I don’t want to see In The Heart of the Sea in a theater because that means going in with people who know nothing about the true story of the whaling ship Essex and what happened to it and its crew sitting down and expecting some sort of action movie version of Moby Dick, a book that to some is nearly incomprehensible by modern standards. I’m betting myself a shiny new penny that most of the short attention spanners also don’t remember The Perfect Storm and its bleak (but somewhat too heroic to be plausible) finale that went for uplifting (in more ways than one, ha!) just so audiences would leave the theater in a somewhat more together condition and not drowning in all those salty tears.

On the other hand, it’s all that expensive CG work in the trailer and nothing at all in the commercials about the more horrifying aftermath where bad navigational decisions led to the Essex survivors forced to choose a little bit of cannibalism after weeks at sea that bugs me even more. Although I do wonder if fresh leg of man is safer than a movie theater hot dog globbed with chili and unnaturally orange “cheez”. Yeah, that’s a happy holiday film (and perfect Oscar bait) for your consideration, right?
Continue reading