Wednesday, September 15, 2021

New Streaming: What If...The Avengers' Big Week Turned Bad

 After a short delay, let's return to the SPOILER-free Recap of this neat little Series.

This time, we see a cross-Film story gone wrong...

The Premise
In this tale, we cross between a bunch of Films that apparently take place in a tight timeline- 1 week.

In it, we see Fury trying to recruit/cure Tony Stark (from Iron Man 2).

However, this time is different- he dies!
More strange events occur that interrupt the normal flow of events...
The Execution

We see things go wrong and see how SHIELD (mostly Fury) try to recover and roll with it.

Said wrong things continue to compile, leading to different new events that aren't good for the Timeline.
Is it a Big Change?

Very much yes!

* Tony Stark dies during Iron Man 2.  Who wants a DVD Cut of it with this now?
* Thor's story also hits a big snag (to say the least).
* His tragedy brings out a different attack on Earth from Loki.
* Edward Norton's Hulk is now Mark Ruffalo.  That's more a 'F**k you, Norton' though.
* Another off-screen death is what puts things in motion, so obviously another Marvel Film can't play out right AT ALL.

This one is definitely a bit dark, but really embraces the What If...? feel for me.  One change- no SPOILERS- puts someone/some people in motion as bad guys.  They basically f**k up everything for everyone.  Since this is a one-and-done, they can just go all out.  I will say that there are still some unanswered questions for me here, mostly regarding one person's absence.  I could just be unclear on the wonky timeline though and it's just a 'me' issue.  The Art Style gets to go crazy here as we see lots of recognizable Characters and Scenes.  If you can embrace the 'early Disney' style, it's alot of fun here.  Getting *most* of the key players here to voice their Characters here is nice.  We also get a bit more Coulson, which is great!  As a whole, we're getting a nice mix of Stories and Tones here too.  This bad week for the MCU was thankfully not ruining my week.  Wow- I feel like you're all staring at me after this forced and awkward wordplay...

Next time, a newer Marvel standout gets their chance to mess things up.  Will he make a Supreme nightmare for us all?  See you then...

Monday, September 13, 2021

Quick Review: Willy's Wonderland (2021)

 After all the insanity we've lived through in real life, we might as well enjoy some fictional insanity.

If you're looking for insanity, may I introduce you to Nicolas Cage...

A man- Cage- has his car ruined after running through a spike trap and is offered a devil's bargain.

If you want it fixed, you need to spend the night at Freddy's...I mean, Willy's Wonderland.
The defunct Kid's Restaurant/Playhouse is full of animatronic wonders that were seemingly-designed to haunt kid's nightmares.

As it turns out, your fear of them is warranted.
Due to reasons I won't SPOIL (it's a bonkers explanation), the creatures live and want to kill anyone.

I guess if there's no kids, a man who's spent millions on buying Comic Books and Dinosaur Bones will suffice.
When new people show up (in an attempt to destroy the place), can he keep them safe?

Does he even care?  

To find out, see the Film on Digital/On-Demand.
A sometimes fun Film that manages to deliver the crazy.  The premise is crazy.  The execution is usually quite good.  You get Cage being weird.  For some reason, he never talks.  Ever.  If you want an explanation, you don't get one.  I'm kind of disappointed that we don't get one.  Is he missing his tongue?  What's up?!?  You do get an explanation for everything else- as crazy as it may be- so this part stands out to me.  Getting past that, the Film delivers some big, silly moments with the fights between Cage and the creatures.  They sure are polite to fight him one at a time and to take breaks.  They do make a META joke about it in the Film- indirect, mind you- so I guess it's all good.  The only problem is that Cage never quite lets you root for him on a deeper level.  When people are in danger, he's not exactly rushing out to rescue them.  So the problem here is that the rest of the Cast is basically there to fill out the Kill Count for the Film.  They aren't all that interesting.  They just take up space until they die.  For every inspired moment or two, there's just them being pretty dumb.  If you can take the good with the bad, you'll have enough good time with Willy's Wonderland.  Just give in and embrace the insanity...

A freaky feature that sometimes delivers on its wacky premise.  The rest of the time- kind of uninspired.  Oh well.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

'90s Trash?: The Faculty (1998)

 Are you ready for some '90s?!?  This is The Faculty, a 1998 Film that seems to have been Cast with a Dart Board.  The Plot involves Teachers in a School turning into strange monsters.  Can a Breakfast Club-style group save the day?  If you want an idea of how '90s it is, it was based on a Script by Kevin Williamson.  Literally just reading that name makes me want to turn on some Nirvana and do some Head Banging.  My neck says 'no' to that though.  Anyhow, this Film sure has alot of people in it together that you might not expect.  Robert Patrick and Jon Stewart- sure.  Piper Laurie and Salma Hayek- yep.  Famke Jansen and Elijah Wood- why not?!?  There's also a Harry Knowles Cameo, but I don't know if people talk about him these days.  There's also Danny Masterson in a small Role, who is a definite no-no.  This is a Robert Rodriquez Film, but it does feel a bit different than his more personal fare.  It was *supposed* to be a Williamson-Directed Film, but he did something else instead.  Do you remember this from your childhood/adulthood?  Does it stand up still?  Does it work for people that weren't alive in 1998?  To find out, read on... 

In Ohio, a Coach is super-angry.  This is his normal behavior, which I guess was okay in 1998?
That night, he's attacked by...something and then acts different.  How so?

Well, he tries to kill the Principal, for one.

He gets help from another Teacher (Laurie) and they proceed to try and infect the rest of The Faculty...
On Campus, one of the misfit kids (Wood) finds a strange creature in a puddle.  He shows it to the Science Teacher (Stewart) and it bites him.

Oh well- that won't lead to anything.
Him and another Student (Jordana Brewster) see them attack and convert Hayek, but when the Police are called, the evidence is missing.

Also don't get used to seeing Hayek anymore, as she's a non-factor in this Movie from hereon out.  Bye!
The Crew- which consists of Nerdy Wood, 'Lesbian' DuVall, Dealer Hartnett, Former Jock Hatosy, Popular Brewster and New Student Harris.

They see the evidence first hand when they are confronted by Stewart.
They barely fend him off before stabbing him in the eye.

The pen is actually full of drugs that Hartnett makes, which seems to be the key to stopping them.
They figure out that the drug dries you out, which can take out the water-based alien parasites.

We get an 'inspired' Scene of them all testing each other, which leads to one of them revealing that they had been infected for quite a while!
The climax involves them trying to stop the Alien Queen (since it will then kill the rest of the aliens...for some reason).

As you can see, it's easier said than done!
Wood manages to stop the Queen using his best ability- the ability to run away!

In the aftermath, nobody believes their claims (since the truly-dead Teachers are missing and the aliens dissolved), but everyone has hooked up.

Cue the '90s Cover Song and we're out.
A fun, if not-so-original tale.  The Film wears its obvious references on its sleeve.  Characters discuss how this situation is like The Invasion of the Body SnatchersHelping me connect things, DuVall also says that the Book is a rip-off of Heinlen's 'The Puppet Masters.'  Is it?  The latter came first, but are they 100% similar?  In any event, we also get the aforementioned Testing Scene from The Thing to boot.  Given how many Cover Songs are on the Soundtrack, lack of true originality is not on the Menu.  That said, you can still enjoy the attempts to ground this crazy tale of teens using drugs to kill alien parasites.  All of the Characters get an arc.  That probably goes to the original Writers (credited for the Story) and was no doubt punched up by Williamson.  The Acting won't blow you away, but everyone does a good job.  DuVall has a fairly-ironic role here as she's playing a straight girl pretending to be a lesbian to keep boys at bay.  In real life, she's actually a lesbian (having come out in 2016), so that's a weird coincidence, no?  The Film uses a good amount of Practical Effects, which is good.  The CGI isn't terrible, but some effects aren't great by modern standards.  For the time, they probably looked damn cool though.  If you don't expect something completely-unique, but rather a riff on familiar ideas, The Faculty can be fun.  The first part is a bit slow in the build-up though, so bear that in mind.  If you remember it vaguely, give it a rewatch.  It's important to see all of the little things, unlike our Heroes, who somehow miss this happening right in front of them!

Next up, I get back on track covering that Train Film that a technical issue stopped.  Time to run it again!  Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Tubi Thursday: The Lift (1983)

 Are you afraid of Stairs?
Do Elevators act as your Sanctuary for those large, jagged objects?

If so, don't watch this Dutch Horror Film...

In a fancy Building, people go up and down in the Elevator.

What could go wrong?
Oh right- the Elevator is killing people.

Just sometimes though.

What- like you don't take a break between your murders?
An Elevator Inspector is killed in as the incidents occur, but nobody seems to put into thought into what is happening besides him.

It's basically one of those Guy Gets Too Close to a Story Arcs...but with a killer Elevator.
A Reporter is also on the case, leading to a Dramatic Subplot where the Wife thinks that he's having an affair.  He tells her that she's wrong...but never tries explaining it in depth.

Oh well- enjoy that divorce.
Eventually (after a few more deaths), he finally breaks into the Building, avoids the danger of being in the Elevator (making everyone else look kind of dumb) and discovers the secret of it.

It's...
Alive.

Kind of.

A random friend of the Reporter tells a bizarre story about microchips made from living tissue that began to self-replicate.

So, naturally, that's literally what was going on.
How convenient!
He seemingly-defeats it when the guy behind it shows up.

The Elevator has One Last Gasp and kills him...so our Heroes just kind of leave.

If you want to know how they explain this, too bad- the Film is over.
A silly-sounding Film that treats things very seriously.  Does it work?  I mean, I'm still joking about the whole Killer Elevator things, so 'no.'  The idea that an innocuous device like an Elevator can kill you is a plausible one.  They don't have it make evil faces or talk.  I guess you can argue that it could happen.  That said, the explanation of why all of the kills happening is just plain silly.  Living microchips- why not question it?  The way we get the explanation- a guy in the 3rd Act just exposition dumping the idea- is also kind of silly.  On top of that, they just randomly show us the 2 guys behind it all going 'I feel bad about this' and then one of them just showing up (to be killed).  Why do it organically and let people solve the mystery when we can just say it at the end like everyone should have known it?  Ugh.  The Elevator kill Scenes (and the tease bits) are pretty good.  Sadly, they don't make up nearly enough of the Film to make things work.  I can only hope that Mr. Maas did a better job with the 2001 Remake (which apparently exists).  Just remember that THIS is not that Remake...

Next week, another Film on the Service that was added at some point in the last year.  I don't even remember adding half of these, so it's a fun surprise for both of us!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Silly and Lazy Cover Art: Deep Blood (1989)

 Deep Blood was pretty forgettable.

I remember that it was about a Shark.
Beyond that, I'm drawing a blank.

Help me out, silly Cover...

A woman's face.
Nature footage of a Shark.

Yep, it's honest.

All we need is a sign that says '10 minutes of boring Diving' slapped on the middle and we get the Film.

Deep indeed.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

*Slightly* Immediate Response: Free Guy (2021)

I saw this on Saturday Night.
I was busy on Sunday.
I was busy on Monday.

Considering how often this Film's release got delayed, it's only fair to delay my thoughts on...

The Good
* The premise- characters living in a Game like GTA Online/PUBG gain sentience- is a good one.
* Reynolds plays innocent and naïve just long enough for it to work without getting annoying/silly.  It's a fine line.
* The whole thing has a fun, frantic feel when it needs to, but also slows down for key moments.
* The Film has more nuance than you might expect, which is nice.
* Taika Waititi is fun as the brash, silly Villain (even if he shows up a bit late in the Film).
* The Cameos (mostly voice).


The Bad

* For convenience, the Film breezes right past 'Life is normal' for Guy and goes right into 'Life changes' in the 1st Act.  It's different, but is that always good?

* Even in 2021, we still indulge in the Gamers are Sad Nerds in Mom's Basement Trope.  It's just a lazy joke in a Film full of good ones.

* It takes ages for anyone to see that Guy is an NPC...somehow.  They can tell he's not a Player, so what do they think he is for at least a week real time?

* The Film's Climax hinges upon people showing a Live Stream of Free City (which is shutting down the next Day) everywhere, including in what is basically Times Square.  Right...

* Is it really bad to kill NPCs?  Is that the Moral?


Jokes and nitpicking aside, Free Guy was a fun Film which was also creative and deeper than it seems.  It was worth the wait to actually get it out.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Vampires Suck?: Immortality (aka The Wisdom of Crocodiles)

 Am I up for another sad, emo Vampire Film?  I guess so, since I committed to doing both Films on the Disc. 

This is Immortality, a 1998 Film about Jude Law as a modern-day Vampire...kind of.  The rules are a bit vague, but the atmosphere is there.  The ennui is rife with this one too.

Can this sad Vampire find the one?  Let's find out in the Film's alternate (sometimes Main) Title...

Law is a handsome, mysterious gentleman.  Am I talking about him or the character?

The Character follows people around, observes them and them introduces himself to them.

After seeing him leave the Scene of his last love's body being found, we see him save a woman from suicide by train and they fall in love.
…until he up and bites her, draining her blood.

I guess he wasn't just feeling it.

Man, imagine if that song 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' was just a prelude to him meeting his girl one more time and draining her blood!
The aftermath is painful both emotionally and physically.

For some reason that is kind of, but not really explained, he secretes a long, needle-like shape of blood/crystal from his body in the following days.

He apparently keeps them (along with the diary about each woman), as this happens every time.

You thought your collection was weird!
He finds a new love, but also new dangers and challenges.

Since he reported his 'girlfriend' missing, the Cops now suspect him.  He apparently reported the last one too, since he's kind of dumb (or wants to be caught).

On top of that, he runs afoul of some weird thugs that keep popping up to harass him and Officer Peter Pettigrew.
Has he finally found 'the one?'
Will he still need to kill her?
Will the Cops ever figure this out?

I mean, I could tell you...but I won't.  Just see the Film.
A slow, but solid Film.  Granted- it does take a while to get anywhere.  The set-up/filler parts are shot and written well.  Law plays a good, charming Lead in spite of the fact that he is stalking women to eventually kill them.  I'm not entirely sure how is endgame is supposed to work either.  If he truly falls for them, he won't drain them, I guess.  At the same time, if he doesn't drain them, he dies.  So is the idea that he won't *need* to drain them if he really falls in love?  There's no setup for the idea that he can convert them into Vampires, so its not like he's just picking his future, immortal bride or anything.  One thing that is interesting to see here is the surprising amount of Asian representation in the Film.  It's set in and around London, so it's not the place you'd expect it from.  The key is that it was Directed by Po-Chih Leong (who also did the Cabin by the Lake Films) and he obviously got some of that in there organically.  The Film has a very languid, '90s pace to it.  Films of that era that want to be serious and broody just kind of meander along.  If you're hooked on the premise, it can work.  This one *mostly* works, I think.  I never fully-committed to seeing Law's goals come to fruition (since I wasn't sure what they were exactly), but I don't regret seeing the Film.  Like many Films, its based on a Book, this time with a The Thing-like Cover...

Next time, let's switch back to Chiba, as he finally get around to watching some of these Films I've had for years.  This time, it is a familiar Premise with lots of, well, Speed.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Tubi Thursday: Deep Blood (1989)

 After another week, I take another dive into my Random Queue to see what to watch next.

This digital Grab Bag has given me a trashy 1989 Italian Shark Film called...

This Film comes to us from a one-time Director and Joe D'Amato.  The former *allegedly* only did the Intro, didn't like the process and handed things over to Joe.

The Scene he did shoot has 4 kids being told a legend about an evil spirit from an 'Indian,' burying some artifact until years later.

It's like Stand By Me, but silly.
In the present (of 1989), all of our Heroes are back together.

A few of them have their own backstory, but do you care?

Nah.

The Shark starts killing people, spilling Kool-Aid into this, um, beautiful water.
It gets personal when one of the boys is killed by the shark, leaving another one of them behind as a witness.
Said Shark has a black fin, which is a key way to spot it.

If you're wondering why the Shark is killing people, there's not a good answer.

It's some yadda yadda about the Shark being a curse on the people.
Why it is still around- who knows?
As the killings keep happening, will the Mayor deny it?

Of course!

Seriously, what would these Films do without Jaws?
They also find a Shark that they say is the killer and take it out.

It's a shame that people can't come up with original idea after like 9 of these, no?
The finale is a bit prolonged since they only had Stock Footage and one animatronic shark head.

As such, we get about 10 minutes of diving, an explosion...and a reused effect from Great White.

Hey look- another Jaws rip-off inside of a Jaws rip-off.  Jaws-ception!  The End.
A pretty underwhelming Film all around.  Deep Blood doesn't really do too much wrong.  The Plot is nothing special, but it is inoffensive.  Mind you, it is basically a slight tweak of Jaws.  Had I mentioned that yet?  The thing is that it promises something that you don't really get.  The whole mystical angle of the Plot is basically non-existent.  Does it matter that the Shark is apparently magical?  No.  It's a regular Shark.  There's zero pay-off to the hook.  Speaking of which, all of the Shark footage is pretty underwhelming.  You get reused Stock Footage of a Shark being in the water and people flailing around in a red, foamy bit of water.  D'Amato tried to make that look good...but didn't succeed.  So if you don't have a cool, magic Shark and you don't have cool Shark footage, what do you have?  Family drama.  Tired cliché Cops.  Generic Politician guy.  Yawn.  As far as Italian Shark Films go, this one just doesn't have any big hook in the form of silly moments.  It's not terrible, but I'm pretty sure I won't remember it by the time I do one of these next week.  At least I don't think it is as bad as whoever was in charge of marketing this DVD though...

Next time, I dive deep into stuff I added to my Queue at some point in the last year.  Even I don't remember half of it, so enjoy the mystery.

New Streaming: What If...T'Challa Became a Star-Lord (Episode 2)

 After a debut Episode that maybe didn't do enough to deliver on the premise, we get the one that...probably should have been the Premiere.

It's a fun, but bittersweet one, folks.

The Premise
Instead of Chris Pratt's Character getting grabbed (correctly) by The Ravagers and becoming Star-Lord, we get a very different pick.

T'Challa.
The charismatic and pragmatic future Hero keeps to his principles as he deals with bad guys in Space, making many things right.

For instance, Djimon Hounsou getting a fully-fleshed-out Character and not just a Bodyguard/Thug/Bad Guy Leader.
The Execution

The Story features T'Challa as the de facto Leader of said Ravagers (under Yondu) who go about doing right for the Universe.  It's one of those things where if life were different, we could get lots of fun Episodes highlighting it.

I'll settle for Comics, I guess.

This Star-Lord runs afoul of The Collector, touching base with a number of Guardians of the Galaxy Characters along the way.

Yes, even Howard the Duck.
Can him and his Crew do the big heist to help out the Universe?

It's an Episode worth watching, so just do it already!
Is it a big change?
In a word, yes!

Without getting too deep into it, let me sum up some big changes...

* No T'Challa as Black Panther.  What would happen going forward?  Who'd take his place?
* No original Star-Lord.  What would happen with him on Earth?  This is addressed BTW.
* The Ravagers go about their missions quite differently, gaining a unique reputation.
* Big changes for other Characters like Thanos.
* Would we get a new version of The Guardians of the Galaxy in this timeline without Ronan's actions (directed by Thanos)? 
* What would be the fate of other intergalactic Characters in this new timeline?


Without SPOILERS, I'd say that, yeah, this one delivers!

This is a really fun Episode that definitely gives you what you expect from a What If...? Story.  It's not just 'one person is different, so how do people react?'  The switcharoo leads to lots of MCU changes thanks to a key difference in personality.  Star-Lord was a kid that grew into being a Hero, making many stumbles along the way.  Seriously- just don't punch Thanos, you moron!!!  Still not over that, am I?  The early Disney-style Art makes for a fun, cartoony adventure that really fits a story like this.  Everyone looks good and the fluid animation is nice.  Obviously, the MVP is the late Mr. Bosman, who really shines playing a more fun and loose version of the Character.  It was good that he got to show this range before his tragic passing.  Rooker as Yondu really delivers as well, giving a performance that feels like a group one.  Sadly, that was not the case, according to him.  Regardless, this is a fun, fantastical adventure that gives you a simple swap that changes so many things in a fun way.  Naturally, Disney has many way to profit from it, as you might guess...

Next time, we're back on Earth seeing a timeline where a few changes make everything go poorly.  What a week!  See you then...