Saturday, September 21, 2019

Quick Reviews: Dark Phoenix (2019)

After bad press and bad box office, how is the actual Film?  Let me cut through all the noise...
In Flashbacks, we see the origins of Jean Grey and her meeting with Xavier.  He recruits with a silly analogy about how a pen can be dangerous or helpful- thanks, Simon.

This is nice and all, but why didn't we get this in X-Men: Apocalypse?
Now in 1992 (for some reason), the X-Men are called in to help NASA save some Astronauts.

Enjoy this brief bit of them working together as a Team- it's your last real chance!
The Phoenix Force flies into Jean, but she survives.

This is sure to end well, since...oh right, the Title.
Xavier is suspicious as Jean's powers grow and she starts to act different.

This Film leans into the 'Professor Xavier is a dick' thing that Marvel has been obsessed with for the last Decade or so.  It's even less earned here!
As Jean goes off on her own and learns more truths about her past, is she more of a Villain than a Hero?
Will this mystery woman (who's not a Skrull) be the one to turn her fully-evil?  Can Grey be redeemed?

To find out, watch the Film.  I mean, you didn't in Theaters, so why not?
A big, silly mess of a Film.  So let's recap this- Simon Kinberg was a Producer on the previous X-Men Films and a Writer too.  When stuff happens with Bryan Singer (a polite summary), he ends up as the Director.  Yeah, this is his first Film.  It shows.  It's his second attempt at this Story and, yeah, it doesn't really show.  They brought Space into it- good.  They kept it out of the rest of the Film- bad.  The Villains being random Aliens who have the power of minor regeneration was a letdown.  Why can you not just do a version of this Story like it was written?!?  The Acting is a mixed bag, as some legitimately do good jobs with bad material.  Fassbender and McAvoy are good, as you'd expect.  On the flips side, Lawrence and Hoult are practically in 'don't give a shit' mode and others, like Chastain, are far too sedate.  She plays the human version at first and she's also sedate- what's the point of that?!?  Big Set Pieces have been done better in other X-Men Films.  Most of the big moments here are copy-pasted (like stealing from Justice League, The Dark Knight Rises and others) and rarely-interesting.  Character Arcs appear out of nowhere in reshoots, making this even buggier!  There are brief glimmers among the silly and bad here, so it's not 100% a loss.  For instance, a random cameo from Dazzler (that has no payoff)…
A Movie that should be good, but really isn't.  It's too unoriginal and uninspired- not to mention rushed as hell.

Impossibly-Cool/Lost in Translation Cover Art: Bait 3-D

Another Shark Film made greater-looking by Japan.

In this case, it's NOT an Asylum Film and is actually pretty good.

Even so, this Poster makes it look way more impressive than it is...
Hot damn!

This Movie promises me a giant explosion and a giant shark!

Granted- they do give you both...just on a smaller scale.  Even so, damn.

Here's the original...
More color, contrast and sharpness.  Do I even need to explain it at this point?

Friday, September 20, 2019

Old-School TV: Thriller- 'Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper'

I felt like I should cover more of this Show since it usually turns out to be nice and surprising.  I guess that's why they call it...
This one is based on a Story by Robert Bloch, the famous Writer of Psycho.

Fun Fact: this was later retro-fitted for a 1967 Episode of Star Trek!
When a murder happens in San Francisco, an old British Lawman comes to Town with a theory: Jack the Ripper is immortal and stays that way by killing ritualistically.

They...take it well.
The Cops try to protect an area on the night he's supposed to make a kill.  However, they can't watch everywhere- for instance, this window after they just leave.

I will say that this death does make a little bit of a Plot Hole for me, but I'll cover it later.
They take an odd direction with the case: hang around with Artists, since 'Jack' is apparently known to be one/associate with them.

Well, in hindsight, they're not wrong.
Tragically, they can't stop the killings.  The next victim has tons of pathos too- sick kid, rough life.

As an added bonus, they tease that this will be stopped/interrupted, but its not.  Cold move!
As the date of the last killing time arrives, the Investigator and the Psychologist brought in to help him step outside.  That's when the latter kills the former, revealing himself to be Jack the whole time!

Well, all the clues were there.  The End.
A quirky, but serious Episode.  The whole premise is odd.  Jack the Ripper commits ritualistic, Satanic sacrifices to stay alive.  He travels across the World like an immortal, Satanic Anthony Bourdain.  This kind of works in the context of this Story and this time since photography is not as prevalent in this period.  Imagine trying to do it in the age of Facebook/Instagram/etc- no way he's not spotted all the damn time.  The Acting is nicely done and that may also be due in part to the direction.  As you'll see below, an Actor Directed this, so that could be related.  There's maybe a couple minor Actors that don't quite nail their parts- mostly the Artists- but that's a minor issue.  The mood created by the Episode is quite nice.  It is all about murder, but never gets garish.  You never see blood or any of that kind of stuff.  At the same time, they don't sanitize the emotional consequences of the deaths either.  If you're squeamish, it's a win-win.  I will say that the twist is interesting, but has some issues for me.  When we last see 'Jack,' he's with the Brit.  It is only moments later that we see POV Jack in action, so did he just go 'I need to pee- brb' or what?  The other ones hold up fine- it's just this one.  All in all, Thriller continues to deliver and I have no reason not to go back at least a few more times now, especially if he's behind the Camera...
Another solid Episode- which should be no surprise given who is involved.  It's a bit dated, but that can also be part of its charm.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

King Me: Castle Rock- 'Past Perfect'

Has the Show stopped Trolling me?  I'm hoping for something strong as they enter the home stretch.  Let's see...
We follow...this new Couple who move to Castle Rock to open a Murder-Themed B&B.  That's nice, but who are you and why is this opening the THIRD TO LAST Episode?
In the wake of what happened (not in flashbacks), the Prisoner meets up with our Hero and keeps acting creepy.  He makes a strange claim- he's been waiting 27 years for him.

Isn't 27 years the gap between Pennywise appearances too?  Is he also Pennywise here?!?  Am I trying to find anyway to make it seems like this Show has a point?
The B&B Sub-Plot connects to a few things- such as the random return of Jackie Torrance after, what, 6 Episodes and The Prisoner via some weird paintings- and ties back to the beginning with all of this taking place in the Warden's House.

I like how they re-use the Audio of said Warden to really pad out how much they got 'Locke' to be in this Show.
It all comes to a head as our Hero meets the B&B Owners.  This can't end well, can it?

To find out, watch the Episode before the Series returns next Month.
Hallelujah!  Something actually happened here- alot of things, in fact.  Granted- many of them involve Characters we just met in THIS EPISODE, but I'll count it.  A couple deaths and attempted murder is enough to liven things up.  We also get off-screen, after-the-fact deaths or two- yea.  We eventually get a follow-up with our Hero and his time in the Silent Room.  Granted- it comes after 10 minutes of the B&B Set-up and a 'Previously on' part.  After last week's distraction, people probably did need this more than ever.  On the positive side, they have more creepy Prisoner moments, more Plot progression (for what there is), more explanation of how the Prisoner works and some good scares.  It's almost like they could have done this more often and I wouldn't have just stopped watching halfway through.  It's still alot of 'people staring at things while eerie music plays.'  It's still alot of stalling.  We just actually get enough good moments and some Plot in between.  Plus we get this not-so-subtle reference to a much better King Film involving Jackie Torrance...
Next time, stuff actually happened once, so can it happen again?  I don't have my hopes up.  See you then...

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Quick Reviews: Men in Black- International (2019)

Another attempt to return a dormant Will Smith Franchise to life?  Good luck with that.  Let's see how they did...
This Agent is a Hero, credited with stopping some Aliens known as The Hive back in 2016.

He's also kind of a jerk and not exactly good with following protocol.
This Agent is a new 'recruit' who actively tracked down the Agency to join it.

She's new, but eager and all about following protocol.
A new threat emerges at they are tasked with guarding a high-profile Alien while in London.

And yes, it is International because they go around the World.  And yes, this is a bit silly, considering that the premise already deals with Aliens from Outer Space.
When things go badly, the pair realize that they may have to work outside of the system.
Can they protect a dangerous artifact from all of the people that want it?
Can they stop the evil aliens of The Hive and save the Universe?

To find out, watch the Film.  It's now on Digital and DVD, so what's your excuse?
A perfectly-fine Film...but will you remember it?  The original MIB had a unique premise that elevated amongst other Summer Fare.  The second one was...well, it was more of the same, but barely-different.  The third Film introduced Time-Travel and freshened up the formula with new blood- mostly Josh Brolin.  This one introduces brand new Characters...but doesn't do that much to change the actual Plot formula.  They still try (and fail) to protect an important Alien.  They have to protect an artifact that the dying Alien gives them.  Said artifact makes them the target of a new Alien menace that has a unique power/quirk.  If you look at the Film on its own, it's fine.  The problem, of course, is that this is Men in Black 4 (if you don't count the Show), so...can you?  It is shot well, acted well and has good effects.  I do think it tends to rely more on CGI than previous Films, but that's where Films are at.  Pawny is a nice addition and I hope that something more comes from this.  The big draw here is obviously the reunion of Hemsworth and Thompson, who continue to work well together.  They definitely liven up even the most ho-hum of Scenes in the Film.  This isn't the strongest follow-up in the Series (for me, it's Part 3), but it is a solid Film.  Should it be looked upon as a failure?  No.  It's also not a Reboot, so please stop calling it that.  If nothing else, they knew how best to market the Film overseas...
A fun, enjoyable Film that hits all of the right marks.  Unfortunately, it doesn't do anything *that* inspired to make it stand out amongst the other 3 Films.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Truly-Inspired Cover Art: The Thing (1982)

I love The Thing.

The Movie sells itself.

That said, Posters like this really make things easier...
 I mean...look at that!

It sells the idea that the creature can turn anything and looks 100% legit with its possibly-real/possibly-fake 'pages' taken from Anatomy Books.

The fact that is clearly multiple pages stitched together is pure genius.

Here's the original I found online...
I made a few subtle changes- the usual kinds-, but did make sure that the sections are all visibly-different, thus improving the effect.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

King Me: Castle Rock- 'The Queen'

After complaining many times about how slow the Show is, they answered my prayers.  Just kidding, it's a mostly-flashback Episode!
After a big cliffhanger last time, we get...a Flashback Episode about the Mom (Sissy Spacek).

This does fill in some holes in the Story, but...who demanded this?
There are some neat visuals (in theory) as she observes her memories from the outside...but then there's *also* the fact that they only use current Spacek for ALL of these, so it just feels weird.

They don't use current versions of the others- just her.  It's more distracting than it is clever.
Some actual Plot happens- which is still in the past, mind you- as the Prisoner (I won't call him The Kid, Internet!) shows up after burning his last place down.

Actual tension- where have you been?!?
We don't get enough of those Flashbacks, even as the tension escalates though.

This is all just to show how she resisted 'Not Sam Elliot' back in the day before, well, no SPOILERS.

To find out how it all ends, watch the Show.  Gotta prep for Season 2, right?  Right?!?
A classy disappointment.  As a side Episode, this is...alright.  The parts we get as Flashbacks are well-shot and well-acted.  There's nothing wrong with them per se.  The problem is the placement.  We get it so late in the Series that it feels more like back-filling than important plot exposition.  It comes off as 'oh crap- we didn't explain this yet' when it shouldn't.  It's not as bad as Black Cobra's classic 'Let me tell you his entire Backstory at the halfway point of the Film' moment, but it's not great.  It goes to a trend that I bitched about in the past when it was done by The Handmaid's Tale, American Gods and others.  It's just a thing people do and I don't like it.  If you can get past the arty flashbacks, the actual bits of story we get are good.  Skarsgard is a nice, subtle menace.  He doesn't do a whole lot, but his presence is nice.  The final moments are interesting, but I don't love it as much as I'm supposed to.  It is a bit overproduced for a moment that is supposed to feel real and authentic.  I really don't like this Episode as much as many people online seem to and that is, sadly, in spite of how good The Prisoner is...
Next time, we return to the Present and maybe get close to wrapping this up.  A man can dream, right?  See you then...

Friday, September 13, 2019

*Holiday* Quick Reviews: The 13th Friday

I mean, duh, right?  This is a no-brainer.  Is it actually good though?
The Film begins with random text that makes me think that this is going to be a Found Footage Film.

Thankfully, it's not.  Instead, some woman burns her Daughter alive with unconvincing CG Fire.  Much better.
A group of people hang out in front of the cursed house.  Why?

One of them goes inside and lays on the bed, getting possessed.  Why?

The group goes in after her screams and is now cursed by the spirit.  They must make 13 sacrifices or lose their souls!
Naturally, this is done abruptly right after the opening Title as we see masked people kill strangers in various locations.
Pacing- what's that?!?
The Film is now focusing on the group staring down their final sacrifice (not the one with Rosdower) and trying to save themselves.  Will this knock-off puzzle box from Hellraiser help?

Unfortunately, the Movie loses all steam after 20 minutes, rendering a neat Short Film into...this.  The End.
What a waste.  The set-up is pretty good.  A demonic spirit in a cursed house with a burned-up ghost.  I've seen good Films that used parts of this to great effect- especially We Are Still Here.  This one just sort of picks and chooses ideas from all over the place though and has barely any identity.  Besides the aforementioned parts, we also have random Cave Creatures from The Descent.  They sure do fit into this Film!  The biggest problem is the focus.  If this had been about them being targeted by the evil spirit- great.  If this had been about them trying to survive the night in the house- great.  Neither idea would have been revolutionary, but not everything has to be.  Make a good Movie and I'll accept it not being 100% original.  Make a dull, listless Film and I will not accept it so much.  I don't get what they were going for- at all.  You take a good start- minus some hiccups- and instead just made it about following this lady and her super-low-key emotions.  I mean, this is our Protagonist, so...yeah.
It could have been good.  It started out alright with some genuinely-neat visuals...but just got boring really fast!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

International '90s Trash?: Evil Ed (1995)

A man goes crazy from watching too many Horror Films- should I be worried?  This is 1995's Evil Ed, a Horror Comedy that sure is strange.  Despite its silly nature, the Film is actually a form of...political protest?  Am I reading that right?  Yes, yes it is.  In this Film's home Country (Sweden), Films- especially Action and Horror- were being brutally-chopped up to meet some sort of strange standard.  Basically, the Films had to be okay to be seen in the Pence Household or on a Mormon Campus.  I can see why people had a problem with this.  The Film is about the titular Ed being forced to edit a series of fictional films.  As time goes on, his insanity grows with his isolation and he just plain loses it.  It would have helped to see his girlfriend and kid...but all of her Scenes were cut to make the Film run faster.  Wah-wah!  Fun fact: the Co-Writer of this Film would go on to work in Special Effects and Make-up, leading to such Film Credits as Prince Caspian, Star Wars: Rogue One and The Last Jedi.  No, really.  Is this just an excuse to mock Censors and show lots of gore?  To find out, read on...
In the Cold Open, a Film Editor has clearly gone crazy, cutting up Film in a locked room and blowing himself up with a grenade in the mouth.
In his place, Ed is called up from the European Art Division to finish Editing Loose Limbs 5.

I'd make fun of how silly of a Title that is for a Series, but the Violent Shit Series exists.
He has no choice to edit the Films- which are terrible compilations of gore scenes- and he has to do so at the Boss' Cabin, since 'they are out of Office Space.'

Yeah, that's the face I'd make at that logic too.
At the Cabin, he starts to see things- weird things.  This guy- also played by a Writer- tells him to kill people and purify the World.

Consider he had to watch a woman be raped by a Beaver (not shown- just to be clear), this seems like a fair statement.  Go, Bad Guy from Star Trek: Insurrection!
After more Films and more freak-outs, the Boss comes over and appears to transform into...the Albino version of The Devil from Legend?

It's that or he's from Nightbreed- decide which stolen design you think is best.
He goes more and crazy after killing the Boss, finding time to kill people that broke in to rob the House.
On the plus side, the Film has great Props.  You really need to give them, well, props.
He's eventually shot enough to be taken in by the a Hospital...but he freaks out again.

How Ed now has super-strength is anyone's guess.  Is it Voodoo?
The whole Third Act goes in a weird, Peter Jackson-style direction as the Delivery Guy (also at the Hospital due to Ed) has to become an action hero.

The SWAT Guys can't kill Ed, but he can.  He suddenly becomes a Narrator and the Film ends.
A good time, even if it only has so many ideas.  The concept of the guy going crazy is good.  The Movie bit we see are especially ridiculous and silly, even for '90s Slasher fare.  This random guy- dubbed by Bill Moseley!- is cutting up Hookers and chopping off feet for fun.  The Film makes reference a few times to a Scene where 'A woman is raped by a Beaver and then has her head blown off by a Bazooka.'  To be clear, it is not in the Film and they never actually shot it.  No conspiracy theory about lost footage- it just isn't real!  The freak-out scenes are definitely the best part of the Film.  You get unique creatures (see below), strange ones (like 2 above) and familiar, but good ones (the Albino Devil).  When it is at its weakest is when it suddenly switches to an Action Comedy a la Bad Taste at the end.  The SWAT Team can't take down one Editor.  Should I be more worried about how bad-ass my Editor is now?!?  There are good moments, but it feels drawn out.  I think a longer build up to actual murder would have been better personally.  As a Horror Satire, the Film works well.  As a Three Act Film, Evil Ed has issues.  Movies like this or I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle have this same issue, as do many others.  Nobody quite nailed it as well as Dead Alive, did they?  This weird Gremlins thing is my favorite part all the same though- bar none!
Next time, I cover an infamous Film from long ago.  Is it actually that bad if you give it a chance though?  Stay tuned...