Wednesday, March 30, 2016

90's Cyber Trash: Brainscan

Welcome back, the 90s!  Today's Film is Brainscan, a 1994 Cyber-Thriller that is about as dated as Carbon.  That's a Science Pun!  The Story is about a young man with a strange, inexplicable existence, who loves technology and hates people.  Who can be so anti-social and into Technology?  Edward Furlong.  The crux of the Film: a CD-based FMV Game.  This isn't dated at all!  The Film comes to us from the late Director of such Films Out for Justice, Rolling Thunder and Lock Up (the first Stallone in Jail Film).  He apparently hated Furlong, which I'm sure made for a fun shoot.  Here's a random Fun Fact- this was Written by the guy that wrote Se7en.  How do I keep making random connections between Films like this?  Plus, how did that guy that wrote that David Fincher Film write this Film about an evil Computer Game?  That's like David S. Goyer Writing a Film about an evil Arcade Game Developer.  Oh right- that happened.  Incidentally, the same Writer- Andrew Kevin Walker was a Scenic Painter on Robot Holocaust- thanks, IMDB!  To find out if CD-Based Games are the root of all evil, read on...
After a mostly-pointless Flashback showing how Furlong was injured in a car crash as a kid, we get to see his creepy, loner existence in an Attic all alone.

I bet he wishes that 'Let's Play's had been invented by then.
He spies on a girl next door, but it's okay...since she lets him.

Wait- no, it's not!  Why did I just say that?
Furlong hosts a Horror Movie Club at School as well...at least until they're caught watching The Dracula Saga.

Actually, that's not what it is called.  What is that Film again?
Our Hero gets a mysterious Disc that talks to you...since that's perfectly normal.  He plays the 'Game'...which just has him see through the eyes of a killer.
He freaks out when he sees a murder like the one he 'took part in' right near his house.  That's when the really weird stuff happens.

For example, CD-Based Freddy.
In a move that predates Paranormal Activity by a Decade or so, he films himself playing the Game to prove what is happening.
Frank Langella is here to make time between playing Skeletor and Perry White.  He doesn't seem to care much for the Film either, given his sullen demeanor and low-energy performance.
 In the End, the Brainscan creature pushes Furlong to kill his would-be-girlfriend/stalking victim, but he refuses.  He tries to fight the creature, but, well, this happens.
About that time, he wakes up.  None of the killings have happened- including his best friend's off-screen death- and he's not crazy.  Or is he?!?
Loading.  Please Wait.  While you wait for your Castlevania Game to load, let me talk about what worked here and what didn't.  What worked- the Visuals.  While the Story is nothing that great (and a little confusing to stay interesting), the Film looks neat at times.  The Trickster- no Hammill- is a bit of a would-be-Freddy Kreuger, but at least he's interesting to look at.  I'm not entirely clear what he is- if anything- but he does have rocking hair.  Here's what didn't work- the Story.  The whole idea has promise, but the execution is iffy.  There are so many things left vague or confusing that it is hard to get invested in the tale.  On top of that, Films like this show why Furlong worked so well in Terminator 2 and, well, why he's still known as the kid from Terminator 2.  He's just too self-absorbed, annoying and creepy here to be a Lead.  I'm not blaming all of those traits purely on him, mind you- they are in the Script!  Why not make your Lead be a stalker?  Why not make him a dick?  One of the Film's weaknesses can be a strength though.  It is *so* into the latest and greatest technology (of 1994), that it can be kind of fun.  I didn't watch it for that, but, you know, BONUS!  If nothing else, you can watch this instead of Brainstorm if you don't want to be reminded of Natalie Wood's mysterious death.  I'm reaching, aren't I?  In closing, here's a lesson learned from Brainscan.  If you are going to make a Scene be dramatic, watch what Props you put in the shot with your Actor(s)...
Next up, a Gang Film/Musical.  Naturally, this could only come to us from Japan!  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Bob's Birthday Review: Doggy Poo

This Film is about shit.  I'm not even swearing this time- it really is!  Today's Film is Doggy Poo, a South Korean Animated Film about, well, guess.  This is what Bob requested I do for his Birthday.  I give him Werner Herzog Films about Socialism and he gives me a Cartoon about poop.  What does that say about us?  Basic backstory: this Disc was part of a Random Box of Anime purchased by Bob quite a while ago.  He held on to this one for a while, even if it did get dry and stinky.  Zing!  All kidding aside, this is a Claymation Cartoon about dog shit.  For South Korean Children!  You know it isn't North Korean, since Kim Jong-Un never once took a shit.  That's a true (stated only in North Korea) 'fact!'  This poor little guy wonders what life has in store for him.  I wonder about whether or not the food that said Dog ate to make said shit was alive.  If it wasn't, what part of the digestive process created life?  Is a Dog's colon the key to creating life itself?!?  Am I overthinking this?!?  Do I always do that?!?  This is all sorts of strange, but let's see if I can scoop some humor out of it...
A dog takes a poop.

Considering the kind of stuff I watch, that is STILL probably the weirdest opening description I've ever written.  I've reviewed Rapeman!
Said Poo is now alive for some reason and can't help but be picked on by nature.  How does it feel pain exactly?
He later meets a clump of soil that looks like that Poo Creature from Banjo-Kazooie.  It is all mopey and sad, making it Morrisey Soil.
After said soil is saved by its Owner- no 14th Amendment for soil!-, a Leaf shows up.  Since this 30 minute Cartoon has so little Plot, they tell us what just happened four minutes ago!

Well, that or it was made for Kids.  Whichever one is funnier, I guess.
After the leaf leaves, the snow falls and then thaws (how much time has passed exactly?), the Poo is greeted by a Hen who must decide whether or not to eat him.  I just wrote that sentence...
Some time after the Hen leaves, a Dandelion Blossom grows near the Poo.  They discuss life and the former eventually convinces the latter to give itself up to help the former grow.

This is creepier than intended to more than just me, right?
The flower grows and shoots its blossoms across the (clay) land.  The Poo had a purpose after all!

To die and make someone else grow, that is.  Hurray?  The End.
This Film is the...weirdest Cartoon I've seen in a while.  What did you think I was going to say?  The whole thing is just very strange.  It is a Morality Tale starring a talking Dog Poo.  Does this make sense to anyone else?  I get what the message overall is- everything has a purpose- but this is certainly a weird way to tell the Story.  The whole thing definitely knows what it wants to be about, even if it is actually about a talking poo (not named Mr. Hankey).  I suppose the moral is nice enough, but what an odd way to portray it!  Some soil who feels guilt for plants dying.  A leaf that ponders why it has no control over where the wind takes it.  A dandelion that happily suggest that you melt to provide it sustenance.  Nature is weird.  All in all, this is a very strange bit of Animation.  Mind you, it is not the weirdest use of Claymation I've seen...
Happy belated Birthday, Bob.  Look forward to some equally-strange comeuppance in July...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Immediate Response: Batman v Superman- Dawn of Justice

Nothing like seeing a bloated, big-budget Hollywood Spectacle Film on Easter.  Praise Superman!
The Good
* It has all sorts of spectacle, explosions and big Action.
* This Batman suit is more like the Comics Version that I prefer- Black and Gray.  Other parts of the Character...not so much though.
* Wonder Woman is an interesting Character here, even if we know next to nothing about her.

Okay, so here's what you were waiting for...
The Bad
* Batman shoots people, works with Lex Luthor (indirectly, mind you) and quotes Dick Cheney.  No, just no.
* The whole 'Superman must be evil because of Event X' felt very hollow, considering that his 'victims' were shot.  Plus, it is one of the first Scenes, so nothing is set up properly here.
* Wonder Woman has next to no build-up in the Film.  Yes, she has a Solo Film coming soon, but that is all about what happened 100 years ago.  Even Black Widow had more build up via 'Iron Man 2.'
* I don't like this Lex Luthor.  He's all of the bluster of Hackman, but none of the charm or presence.
* The Dream Sequences have to go.  They are just cheap filler.
* It is rare that a Film stops cold to tease other Films.  It happens here like 2 hours in and right before the Climax.  Even the Cave Scene from Avengers 2 felt less hollow than this!
* Doomsday's inclusion here is interesting, but so late in the Film that it doesn't work like it should.  Never mind all the logical questions related to how Luthor pulls it off.
* As everyone has said, the Film overall is too dark and long.

So much promise.  So much spectacle.  So little pay-off.

I don't like to be this negative, but I was really hoping to be wrong about this one.  I was not.

Holiday Rip-Off Flix: Resurrection (1999)

There are least Se7en reasons that this Film exists.  Today's Film is Resurrection, a 1999 Thriller in the vein of that 1990s Classic.  David Fincher is indirectly-related to the look of a lot of Films post-1995.  In this case, it is a pretty direct connection.  This is basically to Se7en what Die Hard is to Action Films post-1988.  Just like how there are many Die Hard, but... Films out there- even being made to this day!-, there are quite a few Se7en, but... Films too.  This one is pretty shameless.  Throw in a Music Video Director and a man who made a few odd choices in 1999 (Beowulf) and you have this Movie.  The Director- Russell Mulcahy.  The Star- Christopher Lambert.  It is a very Lambert Easter!  As a bonus irony, they aped the Style of the Director of Aliens 3, while naming the Film after the subtitle from Aliens 4!  I don't think it was intentional, but I find it funny all the same.  The Story involves a mysterious killer committing a bunch of crimes related to Jesus Christ and Easter.  I'm going to Hell for this Review, aren't I?  As the gore escalates (apparently cut down to avoid an NC-17!) and the tension rises, can Officer Lambert save the day?  To Find out, read on...
In Chicago (actually Toronto), a mysterious murder occurs involving a rich guy found dead and missing an arm!
 I guess in this Version the Morgan Freeman part is Lambert.

Seriously, just look at some of these shots without thinking about Se7en- I dare you!
 As we later learn, the killer wrote this in Lamb's blood.  So while this is ominous and all, we also have to imagine him going to a Farm to buy a lamb!
As the victims wrack up and the limbs go missing, Lambert is super-serious yo!

Incidentally, did they ever catch that guy from Pieces?  It may be him!
Right out of you-know-what, they nearly catch the killer at one Scene and chase him through an alley.

Unlike that Film, one of the Cops gets shot and loses a leg!
This FBI guy seems to be trying to help, but anyone who's watched Scooby-Doo knows not to trust him!
The killer tries to get personal by targeting Lambert's wife, but ends up killing someone else.

Incidentally, we get 2 Scenes of a Priest.  He's played by David Cronenberg, moving down in the world from running that Prison in Jason X.
Just like John Doe, they catch him.  The hook here: trying to get evidence to stick.

Sorry, but you're not quite Kevin Spacey.
After the killer is free again, he appears to be done with his masterpiece- a Pieces-style sculpture of Jesus.

Of course, he also somehow made the Partner's missing left leg into a right one!
Lambert eventually confronts the killer one last time (a la Last Action Hero) and has to save a baby.  Somehow John Doe's final revenge seems more dark and ironic.

Either way, he gets shot and the baby lives.  Happy Easter!
Not your usual Holiday fare!  The Film has some really good points, but so many are just straight-out lifted from Se7en.  I know I've mentioned the comparison a few dozen times, but it is hard not to.  This is by no means The Asylum's Se7en- which would probably be Ei8ht- though.  The people involved do their parts pretty well.  The Director throws in some of his favorite camera tricks to distract you from how much this looks like Fincher.  Lambert does his usual routine here- nothing more, nothing less.  He seems to be pretty invested here and doesn't appear to be high like he was in Absolon.  The Film doesn't allow him *too* many opportunities to do his trademark smirk, but he works it in still.  The Film's two roadblocks: the Religious Theme and the Gore.  The former is laid on pretty thick, but filtered through the idea that this guy is just plain crazy too.  There is a half-hearted subplot about Lambert losing his faith, but it mostly just moves him to the next piece of evidence.  The Gore is pretty prevalent, even in her Version- which is apparently shorter.  If you don't like the stuff, you will have some hard times with this Film.  To be fair, it isn't played off as commonplace by the Characters, so it does have dramatic impact.  Resurrection is a pretty blatant Se7en knock-off, but it's still alright.  It just isn't mind-blowing though...
Considering it is a copy of a more famous Film, the Movie still does alright.  It is about as subtle as, well, a sculpture of Jesus made out of body parts though.

Friday, March 25, 2016

My Crazy Youth: That Time Batman Fought That Interspecies Criminal Couple!

This time Batman is up!  Will his crazy out-match Superman's?

This Episode is another Steve Gerber Episode from Season/Series 4.  What can I say- the guy writes crazy and that Season provides it!
This is Baby Doll, a former TV Star (a la Gary Coleman) who once tried to kill her castmates.  She runs a Hotel now.
This is Killer Croc, a mutant criminal who was recently-arrested.
The former sees the latter as a kindred spirit that is misunderstood, so she frees him.
The pair now become a criminal duo, using their strength and...ability to look like a child in unison.  Why not?!?
She discovers that Croc has no romantic interest in her and goes for floozies instead.

Do I even want to know if his genitals are like that of a Crocodile's now?  Do I want to Google Search 'Crocodile Genitalia?'  No, no I don't.
When Baby Doll gets dumped, she tricks him into going to a Nuclear Power Plant that she plans to blow up.  What did he think that they would steal from there again?
 In the End, Batman and company stop the explosion and Baby Doll feels sad.  They are never seen again, so...yea?  The End.
 Still weird.  Since Steve Gerber is no longer with us, I can't ask him what kind of logic came up here.  In Season 3, Baby Doll was a one-off Villain with a clear goal- kill the Cast- that failed to do it.  In Season 4, she's now back and in love with a man who looks like a Crocodile.  I don't see the connection.  If it is just that he's 'misunderstood,' then couldn't she fall for someone like Scarecrow?  Oh right- he had a skull face this Season, so forget I said anything.  Yes, she is actually older than him ( I think) due to the disease and all.  My issue isn't even her look like she's a little girl- it is the Crocodile thing.  I won't dwell on his crocodile thing anymore though.  Getting past that odd hurdle, the Story takes some nice turns.  I do have to wonder how quickly she worked up new gadgets based on her appearance- like a ball that explodes into sleeping gas- so fast.  Was there like a 5 month gap between Croc appearing on TV and him being transported to Prison?  He must have a great Lawyer!  I'd hire him, but he's both fictional and probably dead (since I think Croc ate him!).  Seeing the monster-looking character be manipulated by Baby Doll and her turn is quite neat though.  I won't deny that Steve Gerber was a *good* Writer by any means- just a weird one.  Now let's see Batgirl kick this 'little girl'- since it's okay as long as you're the same Gender!
Even today, I find this to be all kinds of weird.  Steve Gerber did hook up an alien-duck creature and a lady, so I guess that was just his thing.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Crazy Youth: That Time That Superman Fought a Monkey Astronaut!

In honor of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, here is the first of two looks at their respective Shows.

First up, Superman finally gets his turn.  He gets top-billing here!

This is an adaptation of a 'Classic' Superman tale, but it is weird all the same...
As a Child, Lois and Lucy Lane (who has dated Jimmy Olsen in two Mediums now!) had a pet Chimpanzee.
The catch: it was meant to be a Test Astronaut for NASA.

Fun Fact: the program was discontinued in 1969, while this Prologue is set in the mid-70s.
While out in Space in the present-Day, Superman discovers his ship and takes him back to Earth.

Fun Fact: Most Space Monkeys die within days of their return- if they make it.  Fun!
What happens next?  Well, the little guy grows big!  Real big!
Superman must now stop a rampaging Monkey.  Somehow, this involves playing Pull My Finger.
The Climax involves Lois finding a toy that the Monkey- nicknamed Titano- loved when Lois had it and gassing it to sleep.
They dump it on an Island where it will do no harm.

...save for completely-destabilizing the ecosystem and presumably dying from hunger in a few months when all of the resources are gone.  Hurray!
 An ape of a tale.  Am I done with Monkey Puns yet?  You sure hope so.  We'll chimpanzee how that works out though.  I'm done now.  The Story is pretty simple, but they have fun with it.  You get to see a giant 'Monster' on the loose on a Kid's Show- what else do you want?  There is, of course, the consistent issue of just how strong Superman is on the Show.  Why is he weaker than a giant Monkey?  If he wasn't, the Story would be less dramatic.  It was nice of them to give Titano a backstory to tie it all together and give it an emotional angle.  It isn't *too* sentimental and it isn't too silly.  Given how silly the whole thing could have come off, they do a good job with it.  The Writers like to send enemies to Islands throughout the run of the Show, be it Bizarro this same Season (it is a Planet) or Volcana in Season 3.  I don't think they ever did a call back for Titano, so I guess there is still an Island covered in giant Monkey droppings in the Animated DCU.  I wouldn't visit there.
In spite of how negative I may sound at times, this is fun, silly stuff.  It isn't meant to be too dramatic, so it's all good!