Thursday, November 30, 2017

Quick Reviews: The Mummy (2017)

Another day, another Film that disappointed financially this year.  Is this the start of something big or the cinematic equivalent of signaling for a Home Run and striking out?  Let's see...
In Iraq, a mysterious sarcophagus is unearthed by two Soldiers- including Cruise- and an Anthropologist.  They don't have time to investigate it before transport.

Oh wait- the Film *actually* begins with a Flashback to Knights Templar, a bit with Dr. Jekyll finding the bodies in the present and THEN the long backstory for the titular Mummy.

En route, all hell breaks loose.  Cruise's body becomes an infected killer and a murder of crows strikes the plane, causing it to crash.

Cruise saves the Scientist (after being a world-class jerk) and is seemingly-killed.
However, he suddenly turns up alive in the Morgue.  He's been chosen by the Mummy to be her 'beloved' and she's keeping him alive for the Ceremony.

Now let's stop everything after an Action Set Piece to set up the other Films...
We learn about another secret organization, its enigmatic leader- Crowe as Jekyll- and see Easter Eggs for the other planned Films.  More than just an aside, however, as the 2nd Act is all here AND Hyde is featured heavily in Action Set Piece #7.

For all the outrage over Episode 7 of Stranger Things this Season, at least that was set up AND is far less of a silly introduction for something later.
Using a mind-controlling spider (why not?), she escapes and attacks London.  Cue Trailer moments AND Requisite Tom Cruise Running.
Can The Mummy get her wish?  Will she gain a lover and ultimate power?  Will this have a satisfying ending if nothing else comes of the Dark Universe?

To find out, watch the Film (like you didn't in Theaters).
It was better with Brendan Fraser.  Whatever happened to that guy, anyhow?  The Mummy is not a terrible Film.  It is not a particularly-good Film either.  The whole thing mostly just riffs on the Cliché stuff and falls flat.  The moments that are different- like a female Mummy- are undercut by the shallow, soulless nature of it all.  Anything particularly interesting just is or feels unoriginal.  Man transformed against his will and haunted by his dead friend- American Werewolf in London.  Smart Lady Scientist and gruff Action Guy fight Mummy- The Mummy (1999).  Giant Set Piece Action bit in/around London- The Mummy Returns.  Creature captured and escapes his bonds in a lab- Dracula II: Ascension.  Big plane stunt with Tom Cruise- Mission Impossible 5.  Tom Cruise appears shirtless at least once to prove that he works out- all Films with Tom Cruise post-2000.  Magical enemy summons undead army- countless Films.  Here's a minor gripe: the Film can't seem to grasp the difference between a Mummy and just a corpse.  Why can The Mummy revive and control Knights Templar Skeletons?  If they are just saying that she has magical powers from Set, then...I still have issues.  That leads to a bigger issue- is this Film trying to be Horror or Action?  For example, The Mummy drains the life out of people, leaving them withered husks that she then commands.  Horrific...but mostly just used to create Disposable CG Army Trope.  They also try to work in humor related to the bodies being brittle- confusing.  What is the tone of this one?  Why does it just treat Mummies (not counting the main one) like Zombies?  The whole thing just feels kind of empty and is stalled by Series Set-Up that may not matter.  One last bit of irony- Tom Cruise was often touted as  Iron Man in the many promised Film Adaptations in the '90s.  It ultimately went to Robert Downey Jr, who launched the MCU with Iron Man.  This Series' Iron Man...appears to be a non-starter.  Sorry, Tom.
It isn't a terrible Film...but it is no Tent Pole Film/Franchise Starter.  Pick a Genre and do it right, not whatever this all was.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Quick Reviews: The Dark Tower (2017)

As we approach the end of the Year, I might as well look back at some of the biggest hits.  Until then, here's this...
Welcome to No Context Theater.  There are multiple Earths, Rat Men, a Man in Black and a machine that somehow uses the energy of children's positivity to shoot lasers at a giant Tower that does...something.

No, I won't read all 8 Books first!
On Keystone Earth (again- I don't know why it is called that and I won't read your damn books first!), a kid sees visions of all of that.
The Man in Black, meanwhile, wants to destroy everything,  He can also just tell you to die, apparently.

Too bad he didn't try 'Go see this new Franchise' on the Audiences...
Our Hero is targeted for his 'Shine' and flees to another Earth.  Instead of meeting Nazi Green Arrow, he meets The Gunslinger.

To complete Hero Template #43, he lost his father and doesn't feel like a hero anymore.
The pair wander for a bit to fill out the not-even-90-minute Runtime, occasionally-referencing other King material in a vague enough fashion to not actually own the Film Rights.

Oh and some Action too.
Can the Gunslinger and some kid with 'the Shine' save humanity?  Would a team of other King Heroes like Bill from Maximum Overdrive, Charlie from Firestarter and Carrie be more interesting?

On the plus side, the Blue Sky Portal is now a Red Sky Cloud.  To find out more, watch the Film.
I want to like it...I just don't know what it is.  The Dark Tower is a long-running Book Series.  The Dark Tower is an 85-minute Film that doesn't explain any of the important things that I need to know about the Film.  Call me dumb if you want.  Tell me that I should have read the Books.  I stand by this.  Who is the Gunslinger?  What drives The Man in Black?  What exactly is the Tower?  Why do kids good thoughts form lasers that can destroy it?  Why are we called Keystone Earth?  Why are there Rat Men?  Why does this kid have 'the Shine?'  Why is this an awkward, confusing mess of  an Action Film in lieu of being a love letter to Stephen King's works?  If you want to leave some mysteries, you achieved that goal!  If you wanted me to be invested in your Story, you failed hard.  I wanted to like this one.  I wanted everyone who said that it made no sense and wasn't engaging to just be wrong.  Sadly, they aren't.  At least they didn't remind me of a better Stephen King Film to watch...
A bit of a mess as it is too short to be a Franchise-starter and barely long enough to be a feature Film.  The cool moments are not enough for the lack of explanation for, well, anything.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

*****3,500th Post Celebration**** Fiction vs Fiction: The Abominable Dr. Phibes

It has been ages since I did one of these.  Oh well- it is my favorite Film ever as a Book!

Who will win in this battle of the greats?  Let's find out...
What's the Same?
This is a bit of a tricky one, as you may have noticed that this Book is based on the Screenplay.  That was Co-Written by William Goldstein, the same guy who wrote the Book.

I'm still committed to this, so...

The Plot is still the same.  Phibes still kills a bunch of Doctors and his Clockwork Band is still great.

What's Different?
A big that there are many little ones.

Here's the big thing: the details.  The little details...but lots of them.

Here is one example...
In the Film, one Doctor is mentioned as being a target, the Police take him for security...and he's immediately-killed.

In the Book, you get a 3-4 page Backstory on him.  He loves pretending to be a rich Duke, hires a Prostitute to act it out and then falls in love with her.  He even runs up a debt renovating his place to look the right way....and then he gets pulled in by the Police and dies.
Which is better?
Your opinion may differ.  My opinion about yours will not.

For me, the Film moves at a better pace.  While I can appreciate the backstory and detail, I don't really need to know whether or not the guy killed in his Plane had a very smart and successful girlfriend.

Plus, the Film features the Art Direction and style of Robert Fuest.  A real winner.
Both are great.  Plus there's a third Phibes Story out there...
Given that I already own it, I probably should read it some day.

Next time, I plan to actually do this one a lot sooner.  How about the second/third Exorcist tale?  See you then...

Monday, November 27, 2017

Top 11 *Dated* Technological Titans of Cinema

On this day of Online Shopping, it is important to remember how far we've come.

For instance, Extreme Dinosaurs once predicted a time when people would surf the Internet using their VR Helmets.
No, really.

Let's look back in jest at some other hilariously-dated things like that from the Genre of Film...

11. Digital Man: He's knock-off Robocop.  He's a Robot.  He's not actually digital.

10. Hologram Man: He's actually digital, so what the hell?  In any event, a killer's mind is placed into the 'Internet' and he kills people in his not-at-all digital form.  Our hero has to do the same.  Try to take this seriously.
9. The Lawnmower Man: Playing VR Games makes you super-smart.  Still no.

8. Virtuosity: In the Future, we make an advanced AI that combines the 'minds' and attributes of famous, evil people throughout History.  This includes people like Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and Hitler.


7. The Occultist: This one is surprisingly-boring.  Why should it be interesting?  Well...

Our Hero fires a bullet from his dick!
Still boring.

6. Cyborg Cop II: In the future, bad people again make criminals into unstoppable, killer cyborgs.  Were The Homeless not available?

In any event, it goes horribly, horribly awry.

5. Cyborg 3/Tank Girl: Here's a useless, but fun fact for you- in 1994 and 1995, Malcolm McDowell played Villains with Robot Hands.

Neither Film is related in any other way, but weird all the same.

4. The Asylum's Sherlock Holmes: The title Detective's evil brother- not Mycroft- dons a mech suit and sends a robot dragon to kill the Queen of England.  Holmes follows him in an airship.

Words fail me, gentlemen.

3. Cyborg Cop III: The more obscure, the better!  In this one, we are making new Cyborgs.  What makes them better?  They're full of insect blood- which is apparently better!

Oh and this is also called Cyborg Cop II sometimes.  Naturally.
2. Class of 1999: Are your Students not behaving?  Put killer Cyborgs in charge of them then!  Nothing could ever go wrong.

1. The Lawnmower Man 2- Jobe's War: Could it be anything else?
Now somehow in the future (but with an unclear amount of time having passed), Jobe is revived and tries to take over the World.  Sadly, our Villain looked more convincing in Generation X.

It has a light saber battle, so this is easily #1.  Bless you, terrible sequels.

Just think- in like 20 years, we'll all be looking back and laughing at stuff like Jurassic World.

Oh right- we're already doing that.  Never mind.

Come at me, Internet.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Holiday Cover Art: Black Friday (1940)

Somehow there is not an actual Black Friday Film!  Why not this AND Cyber Monday?

It has been a couple of Decades, so...what's the deal?

In the meantime, enjoy this Film with a similar Title.  This is the Poster...

Having seen the Movie, I do have to ask why they feature Karloff and Lugosi (who has a small Role), but not the real Lead.


Here's the original Poster, which I didn't have to do much for, really.
As far as the Colors go, I don't know why either.  Enjoy your shopping.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Holiday Cover Art: Home Sweet Home (1981)

Another year- another attempt to avoid watching Thankskilling.

Yes, even the Sequel.

Instead of either of those, here's the bad-ass Poster to the Thanksgiving Slasher Film Home Sweet Home...


Too bad the Film is...well, annoying, dull and forgettable.

Speaking of forgetting, I can't forget to highlight the untouched Version of this I found- creases and all.
Still kind of bad-ass, but messy.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Creepy Rigatoni: Channel Zero, No-End House- The Damage

Before the Holidays, take one last trip into that crazy place before the Finale...
Back in the real world, our Heroines try to find peace...but are haunted by memories- or lack thereof- as the past refuses to go away.
Speaking of not going away, The Father lingers about.  What will he do in this world?
Who or what is his latest victim?  Can he be stopped?
Can the group deal with him in this world before they end up stuck with him forever?

To find out, watch the Show.
As usual, another slow burn of an Episode.  This one gets a moment or two to 'rest' from all of the big stuff in Episode 4.  That's not to say that nothing happens- far from it.  Like the best parts of the Episodes, this one makes slow, lingering dread really interesting.  They also have to address an obvious issue: what do you do with a being that doesn't belong in your world, but also looks like your Dad?  Can you kill what isn't really alive?  Should you?  The whole thing continues to blend unreality and reality quite well.  This is still not the usual kind of Horror Show and I'm okay with that.  As usual, gather your friends to see how this one ends...
Next time, one final trip inside of the House.  Will its name prove to be proven true in the end?  See you then...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Immediate Response: Thor- Ragnarok

After far too long of a wait, I saw this one.  Even though I waited until Video for The Dark World, here's why I'm glad that I didn't wait too long for Part 3...
The Good
- Great Humor.
- Great Action.
- A big, exciting Story.
- Hemsworth and company deliver in a big way.  Having seen him play Comedy, I knew that he had it in him.
- Big props for making Valkyrie- Internet rage aside- into a standout Character.
- The Film makes an amazing use of Color, putting stuff like Batman v Superman to shame.  Yeah, I went there!
- A big set of status quo changes that I'm curious to see pay off.

The Bad
- I have to wait until May 2018 for Avengers: Infinity War.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Impossibly-Ripped Off Cover Art: The Scarehouse

There's the Deja Vu again!

While looking at Films via On Demand, I saw something that looked familiar.

I hadn't seen this Film...but it felt like I had.

Which Film, you ask?  This one...
I've never heard of this...but something feels so familiar.  Have I watched so many Horror Films that they can blend together?

Well, yes...just not in this case.

The reason for my familiarity is this...


Did you even try to hide it?!?  Tilting the head slightly to the left is barely even any attempt.

Even worse, you have a good Poster without stealing...
Just use this.  It's fine!

Friday, November 17, 2017

'90s Trash: Justice League of America (1997 TV Pilot)

Well, this seems obvious.  After all, everyone and their great-aunt has ragged on Batman v Superman (myself included), nobody but David Ayer seems to love Suicide Squad and everyone BUT James Cameron seems to agree on how good Wonder Woman is.  It was either this or trash the 2011 Green Lantern Film- which I actually like.  Is it cheesy-looking and kind of shallow- yes.  I still like it.  This one, however, nobody in their right mind is stepping up to defend!  In 1997, an attempt was made to bring the Justice League to TV.  It only aired as a Pilot in Europe, so...not good.  Just like with the '90s Avengers Cartoon, they couldn't get the bigger names on the team.  You want Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman?  Too bad- you get Guy Gardner, The Atom and Ice!  Aside from that disappointment, there's, well, so much disappointment.  The narrative is clunky, the Costumes are questionable, the Writing is bad and the whole thing feels super-dated.  They don't go full 'Go Ninja Go' on us, but they get pretty close.  The Justice League has many great Villains to choose from- Darkseid, Lex Luthor, Braniac and Despero.  They aren't here.  In their place, The Weatherman.  It isn't even Nicholas Cage with a bow & arrow.  I hope the 5 of you that get that reference are happy.  Is this legendarily-bad for no reason or something to be derided?  To find out, read on...
Okay- I immediately have questions!

This one begins with the Justice League Members being interviewed for some sort of Real World-like Show, out of costume and with their real names showing.

If you want to know why any of this is happening,, I guess it was going to be on the Show.
The League is here to stop the efforts of The Weatherman- clearly not Miguel Ferrer- to extort the City with his random weather attacks.  Please ignore how silly this mask looks.
Before you think that this is some sort of Superhero Show, we get lots of random backstory for the Characters (that makes sense if it was going to be a long-running thing).

Do you care that Guy is a cad or that Barry can't keep a job?  Nope.
Late in the Film/Pilot, we see the Leader of the Team- a lead balloon painted up like Martian Manhunter.

I kid, I kid...but seriously, was THAT the best look?  Damn!
The team must initiate a new member- Ice.  She's a Meteorological Scientist who got ice powers magic Weather Machine.  Just go with it!

Can she learn to use her powers in time?
Is it worth watching the whole Film to see this one actually-neat effect?  No.
The team gets it together to stop the Weatherman when...they all basically do nothing and Ice saves the day.  Teamwork!

Ice joins the team for their further adventures in *CANCELLED*.  The End.
Just as bad as everyone says.  To be fair, it was bad for me in *different* ways than these often are.  From the get-go, the Framing Device both makes no sense and kills all Drama.  I could go on for hours about how having them interviewed out of costume for some TV Show within a Show makes no damn sense.  Aside from that, it tells us in advance that Ice joins the team and that they all survive.  You'd have to really cheat to somehow have surprises in a Story with this format- e.c. Monster Hunter.  In addition to that hurdle, the Film just constantly stops to tell you random anecdotes about the Characters.  I. don't. care.  There's also a C-Plot involving Fire being wooed by a young man and having to use Martian Manhunter to convince him that she's not Fire.  He only leaves the lair twice in the Film- another issue!- and this is one of those times.  It is worth mentioning a second time how bad Manhunter looks here too- not that I'm trying to fat-shame him.  Speaking of looks, the use of Guy Gardner is confusing here, as he's modeled as part-Guy, part-Hal Jordan and part-Kyle Rayner.  He's the Frankenlantern!  The Weatherman is also a pretty lame Villain, given how he uses generic devices to commit his crimes and then just runs away when it all gets ruined.  Thankfully, Ferrer would go on to play Weather Wizard to *much* better effect.  This is the best and worst description of the Show- 'Justice League Meets FRIENDS.'  Just imagine the worst combination of those two, add in worse writing and you have this Pilot.  Thank Xenu it wasn't picked up, since we got this far better version a bit later...
Next time, a tale of suspense and...a rat?  Is this really a lost gem of the '80s?  Stay tuned...