Saturday, February 17, 2018

BLACK PANTHER

Ever since the character made his appearance in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR I having been dying to see BLACK PANTHER. T'Challa was easily my favorite hero in that Avenger vs. Avenger film.

When it comes to Black Panther my comic book knowledge is unfortunately extremely weak. My only exposure was during the Nineties when T'Challa only showed up as a cameo in The Fantastic Four and The Amazing Spider-Man. Too bad that a lot of those stories we're pretty forgettable. It was a dark time back then for The Fantastic Four.

On the surface I just figured the character as a African Batman. I regret not having a deeper interest for Black Panther during the pinnacle of my comic book collecting years.

It sure seems to me that BLACK PANTHER could not be released at a better time! I love how far the genre has come since IRON MAN. This year we get The Avengers facing off against Thanos w/ his Infinity Gauntlet. How cool is that, I still cannot believe we're getting this movie!

That being said, I am really feeling the fatigue of Comic Book movies. And the constant fighting of fanboys on the internet with the MCU versus the DCEU isn't helping matters much. It makes the anticipation and enjoyment of these films a drag sometimes. The Thanos arc in the MCU is too slow of a progression and a tad bit convoluted. I still love watching them/playing in the background, but both AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR run a little long.

And Warner Bros continually meddling in the artistic affairs of the DCEU is frustrating to no end. Trying to compete with Disney you get fun but shallow output like JUSTICE LEAUGE.

Despite my fatigue I still see these films on opening night because I love the genre. Youth is spoiled today, the comic book movies of yesteryear were nothing like the MCU.

After 18 films in the MCU this fan is happy to say that BLACK PANTHER did not disappoint.

With a brand new Superhero movie we have to suffer through the dreaded "origin story" film. Not so with BLACK PANTHER, we're kinda dumped into the world and myth building of Wakanda. Millions of years ago a meteor containing Vibranium, the strongest metal in the universe, crashed into Africa creating the civilization of Wakanda. It's super cool that Captain America's shield comes from the same material that created Wakanda!

After the death of his father, T'Challa is now the new king of Wakanda. And his first duty as king is to capture Ulysses Klaw for dealing Vibranium on the black market. The task becomes more complicated when it is discovered that Klaw's current partner in crime, Erik Killmonger may have a connection to Wakanda, and more importantly the throne.

The one thing about the film I can't stop thinking about is how striking the cinematography was. Also, Wakanda has this Techincolor look to it that is unlike any other MCU film. Unfortunately, BLACK PANTHER suffers from cheep CGI (a staple of MCU) from time to time. The final fight between T'Challa and Killmonger reminded me of early 2000's special effects.

Another strong aspect to the film was it's characters. I loved pretty much everybody in this. Like most, my favorite character hands down was T'Challa's sister Shuri. Judging from the AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR trailer it may not happen, but I'd totally love it if Shuri met Tony Stark and she could school him on some tech!

And it's true, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger is so far the best MCU villain. In fact, one complaint that I have with the film is how little screen time there is of him. Killmonger is a baddie with substance. There is a pivotal moment in the film where it's hard not to side with Killmonger and his beliefs.

There is a lot of "BLACK PANTHER is the greatest MCU movie ever made" type hyperbole coming from critics. In all the hysteria I agree that the film might be the most important/engaging comic book movie to come out in a long time, if ever. Director Ryan Coogler has made the best type of genre film, the kind with a message.

I highly recommend BLACK PANTHER, especially if you're the type that is sort of burnt out on the Superhero genre. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Favorites Of 2017

There were a lot of great movies in 2017. My list is later than normal because it took awhile for some Fall and December titles to arrive where I live. Two films in particular that I was waiting on were worth the wait. In fact, I seriously want to watch them again very very soon. But, the List.

This year there are 15 films on my 'Favorites' List. Also I really tried to challenge myself with my tastes this year. As most of you might know, I love Comic Book movies. All of them were pretty impressive last year; however, I'm not going to saturate my picks with them. There is one on my list (technically two), and in my opinion it's the best.

One of the biggest surprises last year for me was how many awesome Netflix Original movies were released. I hope they do even better in 2018!

One last thing I'd like to mention before we get to the countdown is how happy I am that there is a Alamo Drafthouse where I live. If not for them than I wouldn't have gotten the chance to see BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, THE BAD BATCH, BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99, and THE FLORIDA PROJECT on the big screen. And if not for Alamo we would not gotten to see THE SHAPE OF WATER on the big screen proper.

So without further ado let's start with some Honorable Mentions:

PHANTOM THREAD

MOTHER!

BRIGSBY BEAR

THE DISASTER ARTIST

THE BIG SICK

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2

My 'Top 15 Favorite Films of 2017':

15. I DON'T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE

The stellar directorial debut from Macon Blair, longtime collaborator with Jeremy Saulnier (BLUE RUIN, GREEN ROOM).

These two are quickly becoming my new favorite filmmakers. For such a strong first feature, I cannot wait for what Blair has in store for us next. I DON'T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE is available on Netfilx, and I highly recommend it!

14. WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

A excellent end to a practically perfect franchise. This third and final installment is my favorite of the trilogy, it's THE GREAT ESCAPE with a hint of APOCALYPSE NOW.

13. MOLLY'S GAME

I became a fan of Aaron Sorkin after seeing THE SOCIAL NETWORK. He is probably my favorite screenwriter working today! I love his ability to take true stories of people and with that inspiration create something unique rather than a typical 'inspired by true events' film.

12. GERALD'S GAME

The best Stephen King adaptation of 2017 wasn't IT, it was without a doubt GERALD'S GAME. The fact that Carla Gugino will get no awards recognition for her performance, proves that at the end of the day Oscars and the like are bunk.

11. LADY BIRD

Coming of Age films is one of my favorite genres. In most of these films the high school experience (especially a religious school) is a cynical one. Not with LADY BIRD, and that's a big reason why I love it so much! I felt like I was watching something real.

10. LOGAN

Easily the best superhero movie of 2017, LOGAN exceeding my expectations. Not only is the film a end to the franchise, it's the end of man's journey period. It took three attempts for the solo Wolverine film that I've been waiting for, and LOGAN finally delivered. If I was 13 years old when the first X-Men film came out, LOGAN would defiantly be my favorite Superhero film of all time!

9. BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL

Takashi Miike's 100th film, and the first of his I got to see in a theater! This was the other Comic Book movie that I was referring to, but it's technically a Japanese magna series. Are those comic books?

In some ways this movie is thematically similar to LOGAN, and in my opinion a little better.

8. GET OUT

Horror films made a huge impression in 2017. The success of IT alone could bring R-rated horror back to the silver screen in a gig way! With the critical and box office success of GET OUT, maybe Hollywood will get the message that audiences just don't want shlock, but actual smart horror films!

7. GOOD TIME

If you like gritty crime dramas then cancel your evening plans and rent GOOD TIME tonight! It's crazy how dark and fast situations escalate in this film. Robert Pattinson deserves some award attention for his performance. Unfortunately, I think GOOD TIME is off the radar?

6. I,TONYA

My first impressions after seeing the trailer we're extremely lackluster. It wasn't until the third time around that I started to get the feeling that I,TONYA might be great? And it is excellent!

5. STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI

This isn't the follow up to THE FORCE AWAKENS that you're looking for. As I mentioned in my review, I was left with mixed feelings the first time I saw THE LAST JEDI. The second viewing I understood better. The 'fan' reactions to THE LAST JEDI has shown me just how poisonous geek culture (and their preconceived notions of how a franchise should be) has become. It's funny and sad all at the same time.

I know there are a lot of people who love this film rank it behind EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and for good reason; me on the other hand, I rank it after the Original Trilogy.

4. THE SHAPE OF WATER

Another Guillermo Del Toro masterpiece! I absolutely love the fairy-tale worlds that Del Toro creates. And it's cool that he did somewhat of a role reversal in THE LITTLE MERMAID, just no prince or princess stuff. The film can also be seen as a reinvention of THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, or better yet a awesome sequel! It hasn't quite been 48 hours and I cannot wait to watch it again. The opening title sequence alone put this on the list!

3. DUNKIRK

For a film that is so high on my list I may never watch DUNKIRK again? The reason it is number 3 is because the film was one of my greatest theatrical experiences of 2017. And I didn't even see it in IMAX, which I regret.

In all likelihood I will see DUNKIRK again because I also love the film for it's unique approach to the War Film genre.

2. BLADE RUNNER 2049

A sequel that is better than the original. I hate to admit that, but it's true. Looking forward to revisiting California 2049 often.

1. BABY DRIVER

BABY DRIVER is my favorite film of 2017 simply because it is filled with things that I absolutely love about cinema. Read my original review for more!

Monday, January 15, 2018

THE COMMUTER

THE COMMUTER may not be the best of the Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson collaborations, but it sure is a lot of fun for a second week in January release. I have only seen 2 out of the 4 films they've made together so far, the other one being UNKNOWN, which I remember liking. I am more of a fan of their separate work. I like tough guy Liam Neeson (THE GREY is probably my favorite), and I love Jaume Collet-Serra. He is one of the best genre directors working today.

I'll admit THE COMMUTER to me felt like something I'd wait to see on Netfilx, or rent at Redbox. But now with using Movie Pass why wait?

My first thoughts after seeing THE COMMUTER were pretty lukewarm. After the film my friend and I discussed it over some pizza and fellowship. We debated back and forth resting on the conclusion that the movie was good entertainment. And it was good entertainment; however, the script could have been a little better?

One reason that I am such a fan of a filmmaker like Collet-Serra is because I can tell he is a fan of film. While watching THE COMMUTER I kept thinking about classic Thrillers that take place on trains. And no, I wasn't thinking of better movies. There's a difference.

Very early on the film has a cool homage to STRANGERS ON A TRAIN involving black and white shoes. Two other train movies came to mind, THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE and SLIVER STREAK.

This time around Neeson plays Michael, an ex-cop who has quit the force to settle down as a insurance salesman. For ten years or maybe more he has taken a commuter train to work. One the day he and his wife are planing on paying for their son to go to college, Michael gets fired.

Before catching the train back home he goes to the bar and has a few beers with his old buddy who's still on the police force. Micheal gets some friendly advice from his cop friend then boards the train home.

Not even one page into his book he took for the trip a mysterious woman sits down next to him and starts an odd conversation. If Michael can find and identify someone on the train who doesn't belong, he gets $100,000.

$100,000 isn't a lot of money to change someones life, but it sure as heck can help Micheal right about now. With the clock ticking Micheal takes the money. Trying to be the cop he once was, Micheal's early heroics costs someone their life thus kicking off trying to find the individual who doesn't belong.

SPOILERS!!!

My biggest and only complaint about THE COMMUTER was the big reveal of who the bad guy was in the movie. And I have to blame that blunder on the films script.

FINAL WARNING, SPOILERS!!

So the bad guy in the film is Micheal's cop friend. Big shocker. But the confusion for me and what I blame as sloppy screenwriting is the fact that their should have been two corrupt cops? Instead the audience is given a weak red herring. This is one thing that my friend and I debated on for several minutes. My conclusion is that there must have been some last minute rewrites or reshoots, which explain the lazy acting from the so called "red herring".

If you're a fan of these Liam Neeson action films then I give THE COMMUTER a solid matinee recommendation. Other than that, it's a rainy day Redbox rental.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

For the past few weeks I've been rewatching some of my favorite movie from last year so I can prepare my 'Favorites of 2017' list. There's two more I need to see, and finally they'll be showing in town next weekend!

Over the Holiday break THE GREATEST SHOWMAN has been one of the big three taking the box office by storm. It's coming close to the one month mark and still bringing in audiences by the droves!

It's hard for me to describe what type of Musical fan I am; because it might not sound like it, but I do like a good Musical. A few of my favorites in no particular order are: WIZARD OF OZ, WHITE CHRISTMAS, HOLIDAY INN, CHICAGO, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS and LA LA LAND. My number one favorite is SINGIN' IN THE RAIN.

With this knowledge, a friend or acquaintance would expect me to be excited for or automatically love THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. With Hugh Jackman headlining the film I was on board. But once I saw the trailer I became far less interested.

During the Holiday break I was approached by 5 or more people asking if I'd seen the movie yet? I told them no and explained why, but they continued to guarantee me that I'd just absolutely love the film! With the positive reactions I decided to see it.

Before I continue let me just point out that I love when a film like THE GREATEST SHOWMAN is popular and bringing people to the theater again!

The first red flag that I wasn't going to enjoy THE GREATEST SHOWMAN was when the vintage 20th Century Fox logo gets cut short due to a more updated version with current Top 40 pop music beats? Once the movie begins it wastes no time and kicks things off with a stelar musical number.

All of the high-energy sequences are filled with music that just isn't my cup of tea; however, I give credit to the performances when it's due. And most if not all of the musical numbers in THE GREATEST SHOWMAN are top notch!

It's the movie around the Musical that I have the most issues with. In other words, the musical spectacle deserves to be in a better film. Or maybe THE GREATEST SHOWMAN might work better as an actual Broadway production rather than a movie?

None of the conflict in the film feels earned, it's all surface. Any drama in the film (with the exception of the interrelationship sub plot) gets resolved in a matter of minutes? Don't get me wrong, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN does tell a coherent story. But I seriously believe that a lot of the drama got cut? And just so we're all on the same page, by drama I'm not referring to the historical inaccuracies of the main character(s).

SPOILERS!!!

There is a moment during the films final act where Barnum's wife leaves him. This is foreshadowed at the beginning of the movie when his Father In law tells Barnum that she'll come back home soon enough. The payoff is a little "empty" when all is forgiven with a dance number and one apology?

My criticism might be slightly on the edge of nitpicking, it's just that one example explains my frustration about the whole film.

In the end, I find myself siding with the critic character in the movie. He doesn't like the show, but gives P.T. Barnum credit for making people happy!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI

The wait is over, STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI is finally here! Like a lot of people I've been waiting for this film since audiences were left hanging at the end of THE FORCE AWAKENS.

Episode VII made me happy to be a Star Wars fan again. Until the announcement of a new trilogy with the original cast, I was ready to retire the franchise. I will always continue to watch Star Wars, but I just got tired of all the pop culture. Quickly I was bored of talking anything Star Wars. Sick of friends telling me what video game was canon and what wasn't.

Long story short, THE FORCE AWAKENS changed all that. I immediately fell in love with the film! The character Rey became my new favorite Star Wars character. In fact, she might be my favorite character in the franchise period! I couldn't wait to find out the reveal of who her parents are in THE LAST JEDI!

Supreme Leader Snoke became my new favorite villain in Star Wars. I absolutely positively could not wait to find out that his true identity was that of Sith Lord Darth Plagueis! I mean who else could it possibly be?

And last but not least THE LAST JEDI was going to be nothing short of amazing because Luke Skywalker was going to heed the call of the Resistance and bring all the lightsabers and lay down a can of whoop ass to his nephew Ben Solo, for killing Han Solo!

Yeah, THE LAST JEDI is going to be awesome!

Well, none of that came to be so the film is terrible and Disney should remove it from canon!

Just kidding,

Now that I have my sarcastic backlash to the backlash out of the way, here's what I really thought about STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI.

My first viewing was not how I expected things to go? I sort of had mixed feelings about the movie after my first viewing. Like a lot of people my (preconceived) expectations were swept out from under me. I was a tad upset but once the end credits rolled I respected the directors vision.

When I got home a friend called me and we we're both shocked by what we saw. I was on the fence, and my friend hated it. Our conversation convinced me that I needed to see it again. Does STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI actually suck? I didn't think so, but had to make sure.

While waiting for my 8:20am showing I browsed the web and discovered all the fan backlash. Some of the opinions were insane!

After my second viewing I appreciated the film a whole lot more and understood the choices director Rian Johnson made.

His bold storytelling made me realize that fan theories are fun but not necessarily smart (or original) ideas. And if you've been following any of the "fan" backlash, then you should know that fan theories are a lot like assholes, everybody's got one.

The structure of THE LAST JEDI is similar to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, but on a surface level. Both films start out with the protaginosts fleeing the antagonists. The First Order is pursuing the Resistance who are low on fuel trying to find a new base. Finn is sent on a mission to help keep The First Order from tracking the Resistance. And Rey finds Luke Skywalker to bring him back from self exile to fight the First Order and become savoir of the galaxy once again.

That's the best description I can give without spoilers. If you haven't seen the film I highly recommend seeing it. Stop reading and go to the theater and have a great time. Come back and read the rest after you've seen the film. Spoilers ahead!

Spoilers!!!

The most jarring moment that might have "fans" in a uproar is Luke tossing his fathers' Lightsaber over his shoulder. I'll admit, it pissed me off at first. But once we learn more about this "new" Luke Skywalker the scene makes sense. Think of it as a Jedi unlearning what they have learned. Or the way I like to look at it is that are "fans" really expecting to see Luke take on the First Order single handily? It'd be cool for awhile but over time become the new Duel Of The Fates scene from THE PHANTOM MENACE, cool but devoid of any substance or logic.

Another thing "fans" are hating on is basically everything to do with the Canto Bight sub plot. Fine, I won't argue; however, it is nothing like the Prequels or the Dax diner scene. The stuff on Canto Bight does drag down the pace of the film but I admire it's weirdness. It fits in a odd way, but that's just my opinion. It is unfortunate that the Codebreaker couldn't have been Lando Calrissian? That would have been awesome!

Now for the one that shocked me! Rey and her parents being Junkers who sold their daughter for drinking money. Damn it! I really wanted her to be a granddaughter of Obi-Wan. But at the end of the day that wish fulfillment would be too easy. At the end of the day it's a whole lot cooler knowing that in the most popular far away galaxy, anybody can be a Jedi!

And as for the death of Supreme Leader Snoke, sorry suckers! It doesn't matter who he was because he was probably the weakest Star Wars character to begin with? People complained about how similar FORCE AWAKENS was to A NEW HOPE, and the Starkiller Base was just another Death Star, but two Emperors is fine? Give me a break.

At the end of the day STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI is just a movie, if you like it great, if you didn't that's fine too. But this whole backlash thing is getting ridiculous. I suspect one or two things: One, it's just a bunch of narcissistic YouTubers trying to get "likes" and "subscribers"? And two, it's a bunch of narcissistic "fans" hating on Disney?

Looking at the big picture fans of Star Wars and genre films should be glad that Rian Johnson made a Star Wars film that has something to say besides Jedi fighting with lightsabers.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Disappointments 0f 2017

2017 was a great year for movies. Lots a good releases, which surprised me because I was expecting the year to be mediocre for film. I was wrong! But with the good there always comes the bad. And let me tell you, there were some pretty bad ones. This list is comprised of disappointments and not a "Worst" list.

I'd love to have one of those for you but time is a factor and also I'm not a critic by profession. I'm sure THE EMOJI MOVIE is just as atrocious as it sounds, but cinematic cancers like that don't appear on the list because I try to avoid garbage like that as much as I can.

Before I get to the list here are some dishonorable mentions:

THE GREAT WALL

HITMAN'S BODYGUARD

GHOST IN THE SHELL

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD

BRIGHT

Here we go... my Disappointments Of 2017:

DEATH NOTE

Being a huge fan of Adam Wingard I've been kinda let down by his last two films? My problem with DEATH NOTE isn't it's deviation from the source material or the whitewashing of characters, my problem is that the movie is dull. With the film being a Netflix Original I gave this movie 3 watches hoping to appreciate Wingard's vision. The more I watched the more problems I found. I just hope GODZILLA VS. KONG is good because if not, that's strike three for the director.

THE MUMMY

I should have known better with this one, that first teaser trailer is still hilarious! But alas, I am a sucker when it comes to Universal Monsters. I must give credit to the studio for trying to update the classic characters for a younger generation. The first mistake I really believe is casting Tom Cruise. I like the guy but this has miscast written all over it. The second and probably major problem with the film is doubling down of the action adventure in a horror film. The reason that such a failure is so high on my list is because I could see myself rewatching this as a lesson on what not to do.

If Universal really wants to give hip new life to its classic Monsters, then they just need to remake THE MONSTER SQUAD.

THE DARK TOWER

Stephen King fans has a good 2017, with the exception of this abomination. THE DARK TOWER is a 95 minute lesson in how not to adapt a novel into a movie. If this film came out 20 - 30 years ago, it might have been passable for an adaptation? But because of the LORD OF THE RINGS films and Cinematic Universes, the old ways are unacceptable now. I really feel sorry for all the fans of the source material, maybe the television show is gonna be awesome? At least IT (2017) and GERALD'S GAME were both amazing!

POWER RANGERS

Had zero desire to see this when it came out but a friend of mine herald it as his favorite film of the year (as of March)? Then some fans of the original television series liked the movie and thought it did the brand justice. Once the movie hit Redbox I gave it a watch, and thought the movie was pretty terrible. Two thoughts cross my mind when it comes to POWER RANGERS: fans should aim higher and not every franchise needs to be a Cinematic Universe.

I have no right to take someone's childhood enjoyment away from them, but I'm sorry 90's kids The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers weren't as cool as you thought they were. And just because cinematic universes are the thing to do with franchises these days, doesn't mean it's always a good idea. The fact that POWER RANGERS is all set up for the next film, where the characters will actually be Power Rangers is the biggest set back for the movie.

BAYWATCH

This "comedy" had one job, to be a funny R-rated raunchy beach life comedy about lifeguards, and it failed. What audiences got instead was a half-hearted knock off of 21 JUMP STREET.

JIGSAW

For the first 15 minutes of JIGSAW I was thinking the movie was going to be a fresh take on the "popular" horror series? I was wrong. The movie is a prequel to one of the sequels, or that's what I gathered from the boredom. At least the movie was better than SAW VII, which isn't saying much.

LITTLE EVIL

Comedies really shouldn't be on lists like these because humor can be so subjective. But when you have a movie like LITTLE EVIL you can't help but add it to the list.

I was pumped to hear that the co-writer and director of TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL has a new movie coming out. This year I actually got to watch TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL on the big screen, and the very same week watch LITTLE EVIL on Netflix. I have no idea what happened but LITTLE EVIL is the most unfunny thing I've watched in a long time, a long time. None of the jokes were working for me and neither was premise, a spoof of THE OMEN.

RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER

A bunch of you are thinking it's a no-brainer for this movie to be on this list. Truthfully I'm sad about it because I enjoy some of these films for their exploitation qualities, but THE FINAL CHAPTER is terrible. The action and editing in this movie is some of the worst I've ever sat through? This is something I don't understand because Paul W.S. Anderson can (and has) directed action very well. My only guess it that they didn't have the budget to shoot action scenes proper, which explains the epileptic seizure style of editing?

KILLING GUNTHER

To quote a good friend of mine I can sum up this piece of crap with two words, "the cringe".

KILLING GUNTHER is a comedy, so again is it fair for me to put it on the list? I'm sure somebody finds the movie funny, I'm just not a fan of 92 minute Funny Or Die sketches. Arnold Schwarzenegger's appearance in the last 15 minutes could have saved the movie, but it was too little to late.

GEOSTORM

Here we are, the bottom of the barrel of my list. GEOSTORM, the disaster movie where nothing exciting happens. Sometimes there can be enjoyment from a bad movie, but in my opinion there is nothing worse than a boring movie. Boring should be the farthest thing from a Disaster Movie. I remember having more fun at INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE, and that movie was awful.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99

Ever since seeing KILL BILL VOL. 1 and KILL BILL VOL.2 I've always wanted more exploitation films shown at the theater. Since then, Hollywood has put out more than a handful. And a ton has shown up on VOD. My favorite exploitation film this year so far is JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2. But it may have two serious contenders, BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 and WHEELMAN!

First off, it was a miracle that I even got to see BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 on the big screen! A big shout out to my local Alamo Drafthouse for making that happen.

For me BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 came out of nowhere. As I recall I don't remember hearing a thing about the movie until it became a hit a this years Fantastic Fest. It didn't take much for me to be interested. A gritty prison movie starting Vince Vaughn, and it's from the guy who directed BONE TOMAHAWK. Consider me instantly sold!

Not always, but it seems that most films that get bought at Fantastic Fest don't get shown again until a year later. So I was surprised how quickly BRAWL IN CELL BLOCL 99 was available on VOD and theaters. Not that long ago if I was wanting to see a film like BRAWL I'd have to rent it on VOD. But now that there is a Alamo Drafthouse where I live, the odds of me seeing more independent fare on the big screen has risen.

BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 is about a former boxer named Bradly (don't call him Brad) who get's laid off from his job as a Repo man or Tow Truck driver, it's definitely one of the two. Adding to his bad day Bradly comes home catching his wife about to leave him. Frustrated, he takes his anger out on her car. As my friend put it, Bradly goes 'Street Fighter' Challenger Mode on the car by busting windows with his fist, chopping of side mirrors, and ripping off the hood of a car. Yeah, don't mess with this guy!

After a heartfelt talk they decide to stay together. But Bradley needs a job and some good money. Temporarily he decides to run drugs. Several months go by and Bradley's wife Lauren is pregnant and their financial situation has improved. One day Gil, Bradley's boss tells him to run drugs with a couple other guys. Bradley has a bad feeling about the job but Gil convinces him to do it anyway.

Sure enough Bradley's gut feeling is right and because his two new "co-workers" decide to go cowboy on the police, he kills them. Not giving up Gil or any other associates, Bradley is served a sentence of 7 years in prison.

After about what feels like only his first week in prison Bradley gets blackmailed into getting transferred to a maximum security facility. He's ordered to kill a inmate or his baby will be aborted. Bradley goes along with it and gets transferred, only to discover that he's been double crossed and has now entered a world of utter hell.

BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 is the most gritty and violent film I've seen this year! Yeah, JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 has a higher body count (therefore more violent) but the brutality that Bradley lays on his oppressors is just as shocking as the Boogyman's gun-fu! Seriously, Bradley could go toe to toe with Captain America and I'd probably be putting money on Bradley.

If you like gritty exploitation movies then I highly recommend BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99! Sometimes Alamo Drafthouse curates a pre-show before the movies. There is a reason that they showed the trailer for RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY before the movie.

HAPPY DEATH DAY

I love horror movies. Over the past few years that love has been an oscolating wave, but overall I still admire the genre. During a slump I found myself seriously thinking about retiring from watching scary movies. My reasoning at the time was because of burn out and just not interested anymore. Then I started to watch some cult classics that I had never seen before; and voila, I fell in love again!

The movie that got me back into loving the fun of horror films was PEICES, a grindhouse cult classic from the early eighties. The film is popular for it's over-the-top slasher gore. Some scenes are pretty tasteless, but a horror fan should laugh a bit for how ridiculous PIECES gets!

This is a review of HAPPY DEATH DAY I promise, I only bring up PIECES because it's the film that reminded be that horror should be a fun genre. And HAPPY DEATH DAY is fun; unfortunately, I just was not the audience for it.

College student Tree, relives the day of her murder over and over again. With the help of a fellow student they decide that to end the loop, Tree find out who her killer is. Yes, it's GROUNDHOG DAY meets HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME.

In the beginning I was on board with HAPPY DEATH DAY! For starters, I loved the look of the movie. It has this '80's soft focus to it. I felt that I was watching a film from that decade. Next, Jessica Rothe was superb as Tree, our main character! She carried the film for me all the way to the end. As a fun bonus I loved spotting who the killer was (I watch too many of these things) as soon as they appeared on screen! It was during the montage of Tree getting killed over and over that I started to loose interest fast.

My biggest issue with HAPPY DEATH DAY is it's PG-13 rating. Now I'm not asking for the movie to be a gore-fest, but the film should meet expectations somewhere around the middle? And for those that are thinking "HAPPY DEATH DAY is a movie that doesn't need gore", I think it does? It's important for me to remember that HALLOWEEN (1978) had only a few specks of blood during it's entire runtime.

But HALLOWEEN, HAPPY DEATH DAY is not. Where HALLOWEEN relied on mood and atmosphere, HAPPY DEATH DAY is more rooted in the look and feel of a mid-eighties and post-SCREAM slasher film. While mostly butchered by the MPAA, the era of slashers that I'm referring to were still rooted in some nice splatter every now and then. Something that HAPPY DEATH DAY is lacking.

By the final act of the film it felt like I was watching a late '90's horror movie? Remember those? Where every horror movie poster was emo profile pictures of the cast. SCREAM knock-offs that were considered good because horror had been gone from the multi-plex theaters for so long that we didn't know any better? It wasn't until films like CABIN FEVER and HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES that made us realize that horror kinda sucked in the mid-nineties.

On a positive note the horror genre has been on the rise as of late. IT, GET OUT, SPLIT, GERALD'S GAME, and THE BABYSITTER are just a few titles that I think really hit home runs for the genre! And with the success of HAPPY DEATH DAY, maybe we'll see a resurgence of the slasher flick. As you know, horror in Hollywood always comes in waves, and it's about time for the slasher to return.

This year Halloween falls on a weeknight and next weekend is Season 2 of STRANGER THINGS. I doubt it but I will try my best to review the season as soon as I finish it. There may be some other treats I'll share this week!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

BLADE RUNNER: The Final Cut

About a month ago I got to see BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT on the big screen. The local Alamo Drafthouse held a screening of it in preparation of the highly anticipated sequel BLADE RUNNER 2049.

Somewhere around the mid-nineties I rented the original BLADE RUNNER (the cut with voice overs). The movie was entertaining, and I absolutely loved the special effects (which still hold up in my opinion). At the time, the Deckard (Harrison Ford) voice overs didn't bother me, I just excepted it as part of the movie.

It wasn't until a few years later when I saw the Director's Cut that the film really blew my mind, and found the viewing experience better with the voice overs taken out.

Another thing that blew my mind with the Director's Cut was the now added notion that Deckard was a Replicant. I thought it was the coolest thing! Thinking on the film these days, the theory doesn't make much sense? In interviews Ford has stated that Deckard being a Replicant is dumb. And with the character appearing in the sequel, it makes the idea non plausible. Seeing that Ford hates the theory makes me believe it won't even be brought up in the new movie.

I haven't seen the movie in a long time but still consider it a favorite. It's strange that I don't own it on Blu-Ray? The other day I found THE FINAL CUT in a bargain bin at Walmart. Unfortunately, the disc is bare bones with no special features. Soon I'll just order a version that the special features, and the Director's Cut. THE FINAL CUT is great, but my gut tells me I like the Director's Cut better. It's been so long that I cannot tell the difference, so it probably doesn't matter?

Watching BLADE RUNNER today, I've picked up more on what the film is actually about. Back in the day I loved the futuristic look of the film and it's special effects. My favorite thing about the movie still to this day is the Film Noir aspect. But now that I'm older I like the philosophy of religion, and moral implications of tinkering with genetic engineering.

The Tyrell Corporation advanced robot evolution into the NEXUS phase; a being virtually identical to a human being, known as Replicants. The NEXUS-6 Replicant was superior in strength and agility, and at least equal in intelligence to the genetic engineers who created them.

The NEXUS-6 were used as slave labor on off-world colonies, but after a bloody mutiny the Replicants became illegal on Earth, punishable by death. A police squad known as Blade Runner Units are tasked to hunt down and destroy the androids.

A group of NEXUS-6 Replicants smuggled their way back to Earth in search of the creator. Deckard, a retired Blade Runner is called in to track down the 4 Replicants and terminate them on site.

For 1982 the special effects in BLADE RUNNER hold up well. Really well. Watching the 4k Master on the big screen was a near perfect presentation. Probably the best the film has looked since 1982! Even on a flat screen at home the Blu-Ray is gorgeous.

As I mentioned earlier, I loved watching the film as a science fiction noir. A hard as nails detective going around a futuristic Los Angeles hunting android fugitives, what's not to love! Now that I'm older I actually feel for the Replicants. Their humanity has more heart than any human.

Watching the film these days I take more notice of the eye motifs throughout the movie. The old saying "Eyes are windows to the soul". The obvious question then is do Replicants have souls? Without going into spoilers, the answer is yes! At least that's what I believe.

On the first few viewings I always just thought that the four NEXUS Replicants were just insane murderous androids? But now I see them differently, I see them as victims of circumstance. The opening scene where one of them blows away a Blade Runner for mentioning how the Replicant "feels about his mother", is total disdain for it's creator.

I could go on and on with further analysis but my amateur attempt would ruin the film. Practice makes perfect, but not on a classic like BLADE RUNNER. A audio commentary would better suit me I think? I've always wanted to do an audio commentary with one of my favorite films, maybe someday?

I'm cutting it pretty darn close with this post and the release of BLADE RUNNER 2049. The early buzz is thus far extremely positive and I cannot wait to see the new film!

Monday, October 2, 2017

IT (2017)

A little over a year ago I began reading Stephen King's IT in preparation for the new film. I got about 400 pages in and got distracted. I never picked it back up. The novel wasn't bad, I just have a short attention span with books a lot of the time.

About a month ago I picked up my iPad and started reading (from the beginning) IT again. Needless to say I didn't get the book read before the movie. This didn't concern me much because I knew the film adaptation was going to be different than the source material.

The day had come that I was going to see the movie. I was pumped! It had been awhile since there had been this much excitement for a horror movie. The release of IT was a pop culture event!

I saw the film weeks ago, and loved it! It reminded me so much of THE GOONIES and THE MONSTER SQUAD. There hasn't been a blog post till now because I wanted to finish the book. Well today that finally happened.

Right off the bat I just wanna say that I think I like the book better than the movie? There is still a lot to process about that because the novel is so long (maybe too long). The thing I love most about the novel is that the epic story is a monster mash of sorts. All the major Universal Monster make an appearance, and even a few 50's B-movie ones do too!

When watching the film, I so wished that Warner Bros paid a little bit to get the rights of classic movie monsters for Pennywise to transform into. It's 1988 in the movie adaptation, so Freddy or Jason would've been perfect!

Another thing that makes me think that I'll like the book better in the long run is that I don't think IT: CHAPTER II can do the story with the adults justice? In the novel it switches back and forth so beautifully and meticulously, that I don't how the filmmakers could do it, especially if the kids stuff is done? I personally think scenes with the kids were filmed knowing full well that there'd be a sequel?

Enough with the comparisons, on with what I thought about IT.

As I mentioned earlier, I loved the movie. Two of my favorite genres of film are horror and coming-of-age, and IT succeeds at both. I was never scared while watching the movie, but more times that not I was creeped out by the imagery in the film. The same feeling I get when watching a Nightmare On Elm Street movie, a franchise that had a big influence (another plus) on the film that's easy to tell.

I have some criticisms on the horror elements of the film, the jump scares we're lame. The only two that I give a pass are the hobo and when Pennywise jumps out of the slideshow. Everything else was lazy. Luckily the tone and atmosphere win over the jump scares.

The home run of IT is the coming-of-age tale between these 7 kids. The film tugged at my heart strings a little bit because I was the same age as these kids in 1988. Was I a "Loser"? I don't think so, but I sure as hell wasn't one of the cool kids. I liked movies and comic books too much, and I sucked at sports.

The casting of the kids was perfect! I won't go into spoilers but finally Hollywood gives us gem of a film where kids being kids looks and feels real. Ben was the kid who I identified most with, a youngster with a weight problem and super shy.

The film centers on a group of kids living in the town of Derry, Maine. Their leader Bill, is determined to find his missing younger brother George. You see, Derry has a missing kids problem of sorts. And not only that, but strange stuff happens all the time in the quaint little town.

Bill and the rest of the Losers Club finally figure out that some strange force has been terrorizing Derry for many many years. Every 27 years or so, It, better known as Pennywise The Dancing Clown feeds (literally mostly) on the fear of the townsfolk. The victims are mostly children. I think it's because kids are most always easily frightened.

When it comes to the Losers Club, Pennywise has met his match! Don't get me wrong, he can get the best of them when it comes to frights, but something is off? It's like the kids have luck on their side, or maybe a turtle? Turtle? Yeah, the novel gets weird and word is the second film will too.

About now you're probably thinking what I thought of the T.V. mini-series back in the day? I'll I'm going to say is that piece of nostalgia does not hold up at all. Sorry, it's crap! And, please stop referring to the new film as a remake. It's an insult to the film. Calm down, if you like the mini-series that's cool. Who am I to take someones joy away from them?

Since August I've been on a Stephen King kick, and there are no signs of slowing down. The other day I watched GERALD'S GAME (review coming soon), and I bought King's new novel Sleeping Beauties. With the exception of THE DARK TOWER, 2017 has been a pretty good year for King fans.

Happy October,

Friday, August 25, 2017

Tough Guy Cinema: ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK

This is going to be a new ongoing series highlighting tough guy films. The selection of movies will be based on what my local Alamo Drafthouse programs. This blog is completely unaffiliated with the popular theater chain. Their programming inspires me to write about older films, classic movies. Revisiting movies on the big screen is fun, and in most cases essential.

As I've mentioned on my blog before, I am a huge John Carpenter fan. I was a fan of his movies before I even began to notice he was the director. If I remember correctly it wasn't until I was a teenager that I put two and two together that the filmmaker directed a bunch of movies I loved! Watching HALLOWEEN for the first time with one of my childhood friends (also a movie buff and Carpenter fan) was the movie that started this revelation. I quickly wanted to revisit every John Carpenter film!

My friend and I started our John Carpenter renaissance on the eve of DVD. At the time VHS was so cheep and my buddy snagged a copy of Carpenter's first film ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13. That day Carpenter became my favorite filmmaker.

My earliest memory of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK was seeing it on cable. It's been so long that I cannot remember, but my educated guess is that the U.S.A. Network was the channel it played on the most? I also remember the poster at a young age, probably from the video store?

While channel surfing, occasionally I'd see bits and pieces of the movie. I always thought that ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK was a scary movie (probably because how dark the film looked and that I was 5 years old) so it never stayed very long before changing the channel. It must have been something about how The Duke's henchmen looked. And there is that scene early in the film where a woman gets pulled underground by a bunch of hands. No Thanks!

It was years later when I watched the film in its entirety, renting it from my local video store.

My impressions were mixed. The story was awesome, but the film itself looked really dated (the VHS copy was in pretty poor shape), and I laughed at a lot of the acting. That being said, Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken was awesome! I loved that there is this running joke in the film that everybody thinks he was dead. If I had to guess, this sounds like a BIG JAKE influence. Now that I think about it,there are a quite a lot of John Wayne and Howard Hawks tributes/influences in the Carpenter and Russell films!

For those that don't know, in the year 1997 crime in the United States has reached an all time high. Manhattan Island in New York City is now a penal colony. There is no law enforcement presence inside the island. Once you enter you can never leave.

One the way to global peace conference, Air Force One crashes lands in the prison while ejecting the leader of the free worlds escape pod. The president is immediately held for ransom. Enter Snake Plissken.

Pliskin has 24 hours to save the president so that he can present his speech on time.

ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK maybe dated here and there, but the film (and character) is still a classic! The films musical score is still fantastic as well!

The night was almost perfect but Alamo's pre-show before the movie was highly disappointing. A perfect opportunity to showcase some amazingly cheesy knock-off trailers, it didn't happen. They didn't even show trailers for other John Carpenter films? What we got instead was some lame short of a guy spitting water out of his mouth?

Redemption is coming thankfully with the announcement of the BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA Dinner Party next month. I cannot wait!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

DETROIT

As I sat watching Kathryn Bigelow's new film DETROIT I couldn't stop thinking about her other films THE HURT LOCKER and ZERO DARK THIRTY. Her new film completes this kind of Docudrama trilogy. Or maybe not? The Docudrama might be Bigelow's thing from now on?

While watching DETROIT I also kept thinking about the documentary THE THIN BLUE LINE, and even Kurosawa's RASHOMON (me and my cinematic mind). But mainly I kept thinking about how gifted Kathryn Bigelow is as a filmmaker. Her eye for detail is amazing! Once the movie started I could not blink. And I became a fly on the wall during the raid at the Algiers Motel.

DETROIT opens up with how the riots started. A welcome home party for a couple of Vietnam vets gets crashed by the police because the building did not have a liquor license. Weak, but I guess that's 1967 for ya! So Detroit's finest fill 3 paddy wagons full of African Americans and send them off. The excessive act sets off the riots leaving Motor City a war zone.

Some time has passed but there is still unrest and a curfew, state police and national guard are helping city police.

In the first act of the film there are three storylines going on:

Three racist police officers are out on patrol, and one of them shoots and kills a defenseless looter. His superior turns the case to the DA.

Next we meet a young man pulling a triple shift working as a security guard to protect a grocery store. This character, played by John Boyega (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, ATTACK THE BLOCK) stole the show for me. His character Melvin Dismukes brings a level headedness to all the terror and chaos happening in the film. Expect to see a nomination come Oscar time

And lastly we meet a group of young talented singers called The Dramatics. They are just about to perform in front of their biggest crowd yet, when all of a sudden the police shut it down because of some rioting. Because of the chaos the group shack up at the Algiers Motel.

Larry, lead singer of the group and his friend Fred meet two lovely young ladies (maybe hookers?). The four of them go back to the room where the ladies are staying. Turns out that the room already has a party going on. Things get tense when a young gentleman gets distraught at all the racist police. Trying to scare some of people in the room by making a point, he shoots off a starter pistol.

A block or two away police and national guardsmen think they are under attack by a sniper. Back up is called and the racist cops we met earlier take the call (uh-oh). And being a hero, Dismukes locks up the grocery store and goes to help (uh-oh again).

The raid on the Algiers Motel takes place in about the middle of the film, and it is without a doubt the strongest act in the movie. Here is where Bigelow's background in genre filmmaking comes into play. The raid is intense and you feel like you're watching a horror movie!

Unfortunately, DETROIT starts to become a little long in the tooth in the third act of the film. It's still a good movie but the trial of the 3 police officers just felt off? Or maybe it was the fact that I had a feeling how badly things were going to end with a jury of all white people deciding the fate of the officers! And when it got to the end of the film I started to think to myself "There was no 'Based On True Events' title card at the beginning of the movie"? Odd?

My only complaint about the film is that I wish it was based more on true events. The end of the movie states that there just wasn't enough evidence in the Algiers incident, and they had to dramatize most of it. If the filmmakers were able to accomplish this I think DETROIT would have been even better! With that being said, the fact remains that 3 young black men were murdered and no justice was found!

Now you know why I thought of films like THE THIN BLUE LINE and RASHOMON.

DETROIT is Highly Recommended!!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

THE DARK TOWER

Where to begin? Well, for starters I should be thankful that I'm not a fan who has waited years for a film adaptation of the book series. To those folks I feel your pain. Lots of stuff that I've loved as a kid has been adapted to the big screen that just didn't translate well. THE DARK TOWER feels like a massive step backward in film adaptation? A film based on a 7 book series mashed together in 97 minutes? Are you kidding me? Boycott SONY!

Fans of Stephen King's beloved fantasy series deserved better. THE DARK TOWER beckons a 7 film franchise much like Harry Potter. If the books had more of a general King audience appeal to them, the Harry Potter treatment may have happened?

The original plan was a feature film followed by a television series; that'd be 4 movies and 3 T.V. shows. That idea sort of got dumped and slightly changed. The plan as of now (which will die on the vine come Monday) is 1 film and 1 show.

In anticipation for the movie I stared reading 'The Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger'. I was instantly hooked! Seriously, I could have finished the book in a weekend, but ya know, movies and such.

Talking with a fan of the book series it was clear I didn't need to finish the book before the movie. I was reminded the film is a sequel to the book series. What a cool concept, a blank slate so that fans won't be upset at whatever the movie doesn't get "right".

Seeing that I am a newbie to the series it'd be difficult to explain the plot of what exactly is going on. Right now all I know besides the film is there is a man named Roland chasing another man across the desert. It's hinted at that this struggle has been going on and on for ages.

IMDB says: The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O'Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

So the Man in Black is trying to destroy the Dark Tower, that way nothing can stop evil entering the world(s). In our world, known as Keystone Earth, a boy named Jake has dreams of Roland, Walter, and a place called Mid-World. He illustrates his dreams and one day stumbles upon a doorway leading to land of his dreams.

Jake quickly meets Roland, the Gunslinger. After talking about his dreams and showing him a drawing of the Man in Black, the two embark on a quest to save the universe. Walter learns of Jake and captures him to aid in destroying the Dark Tower. Will Roland save Jake and finally defeat Walter, the Man in Black?

The verdict is still out on if I think THE DARK TOWER sucks. I've seen worse this year, I think? it's really going to be painful if I have to rewatch THE MUMMY and compare. My feelings as of right now are that THE DARK TOWER is just such a forgettable film. I did a double feature the night I watched it, and by the time I drove to the other theater I completely forgot about THE DARK TOWER.

I can't be as upset or mad as fans of the books, but there we're some things about the movie that down right pissed me off! The thing that has been bugging me ever since is that pretty much every action sequence takes place at night. And why are the action scenes at night you ask? Because the budget was so cheep that special effects took a back seat. I counted 3 action sequences shot at night (probably filtered to look like evening). Somebody that doesn't watch very many movies might think this is okay? But for seasoned moviegoers it's a clear indication that the films budget just wasn't there for special effects.

Final thoughts, for the fans sake I really really hope that one day THE DARK TOWER gets an awesome screen adaptation. I'm holding out for the television series to redeem the movie, but who knows at this point? Right now THE DARK TOWER is a rental at best.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

ATOMIC BLONDE

What if JOHN WICK opened up with the 'Boogyman' himself in a interrogation room? We fade in on a bruised up face of John, and a couple of police detectives asking him "Okay, start from the beginning."? The movie would be pretty boring. Yes, the movie would retain all the amazing action but the stakes are now zero. This is my biggest issue with ATOMIC BLONDE.

Maybe it's too much of a nitpick; but seriously, during every action scene I knew she was going to make it out alive. Unlike in JOHN WICK where I was on the edge of my seat wondering if the title character was going to survive or not? Part of it was because Wick had a death wish.

In ATOMIC BLONDE I found myself not caring because the audience knows she's going to make it out alive. That being said, I loved every action scene in the film! Director David Leitch knows how to direct action. The era of Paul Greengrass/shaky cam action is over, and good riddance!

Besides the great action set pieces, the look of the film is beautiful. Set in 1989, ATOMIC BLONDE really felt like an Eighties movie. I definitely got a Michael Mann vibe, and maybe even Walter Hill!

The only throwback quality that I thought missed the mark was the film's soundtrack? Don't get me wrong the music choices were excellent! I just thought that the execution of said songs were off a bit? Maybe BABY DRIVER spoiled me to much?

One last good thing I liked about the movie was that ATOMIC BLONDE just didn't feel like a JOHN WICK clone. Instead we get a spy movie! Good move on Leitch's part! I guess the trailers hinted at it and I just wasn't paying close attention?

Here's what IMDB says:

An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

I really don't feel like getting into spoilers because the plot of ATOMIC BLONDE is kind of a mess. No more a mess than say SPECTRE, but a mess nonetheless. My saving grace in piecing together the plot was only due to the fact that I've seen a lot of movies. Probably a cop out on my end, but it's true. I figured out who Lorraine was 5 minutes into the film. And the bad guy is pretty predictable.

In the end so what, because the action was cool. I paid to see Charlize Theron kick ass for 2 hours, and I felt that I got my money's worth.

And I cannot wait for ATOMIC BLONDE 2: JAGGED LITTLE KILL (ya know, the Nineties)! Because maybe in that one she won't be telling a story how it all went down, that way the stakes can be a higher!

In all honesty I will probably be seeing ATOMIC BLONDE in the theater again just because I am a fan of the action choreography and the director. It's a dream come true for me that we are finally getting American action films like this! 2017 is shaping up to becoming a great year in the action genre. It's dumb as all get out but I'm including xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE in that roster.

Final thoughts, ATOMIC BLONDE is highly recommend for fans of stylish films and action movies. Do not miss it in the theater!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Horror Show: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

The Horror Show is a new monthly post I'm going to try based on Alamo Drafthouse showcasing horror films once a month. We'll see how this goes? They are just starting out, so the movies might be slow going at first, let's hope not! My intent is to tell you the reader about the experience. Which will be even more cool once the theater gets their 35mm projector up and running!

Last week one of my dreams came true, I got to see the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET on the big screen! Now, you're probably thinking "Hasn't this guy reviewed that movie before"? Yes I have. In that review I mainly went on and on about how I thought the film was a classic, but mentioned more than once that Part 3 was my favorite. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS is still my favorite. This time around I'm going to try and focus more on the original and say a few things about watching it on the big screen at Alamo Drafthouse!

Let's start with the pre-show shall we! The 30 minutes before showtime was more than I imagined it would be! They showed music videos from DREAM WARRIORS, THE DREAM MASTER, and THE DREAM CHILD. I always get a kick out of watching the Dokken video with Freddy in it. The song Dream Warriors sucks but the best part is Freddy waking up from a nightmare, which is the band's music video. Classic! The other music videos were pretty forgettable; however, seeing The Fat Boys was pretty nostalgic.

Another highlight of mine was seeing those old Freddy Trivia hotline commercials. I remember in Jr. High always wanting to call the number but me and my friend could never get our parents permission. The thing was probably an overpriced scam anyways?

Instead of ELM STREET trailers they showed this promo about how DREAM WARRIORS was well on it's way to breaking VHS rental records. Or maybe it was purchases? It was at this moment that I felt that the pre show was a little too catered for the third film. I guess it makes since because that was the peak of the franchises popularity.

On with the movie!

By now all of you should know what A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is about. You've got child killer Fred Krueger haunting the teenagers of Elm Street because their parents murdered him in a house fire. But the main thing is how do you stop a killer who attacks you in your dreams? That's what remains scary about the first film. Writer and director Wes Craven knew what was scary.

The film is still scary but after seeing it as many times as I have, there's nothing really frighting about it anymore. Well except for the bloody body bag being dragged across the school hallways, that still gives me the chills! With that being said, seeing A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET on the big screen made the whole experience immersive. Everything is larger than life. For lack of a better word it made the dream world more nightmarish.

Watching the film on the big screen I noticed things I hadn't before. Like in the climax when Nancy is looking for Freddy and sho picks up Tina's crucifix, you can see Rod's switchblade. I realize it's plain as day but for the fist time (I believe) I noticed Nancy picking up her boyfriends bloody headphones. I've had to have seen that before, and just forgotten?

The audience was fun and into the film! This wasn't a movie party so the strict no talking and no cell phone policy was in place. I didn't notice very much screams from the audience which I found odd? Maybe it was a full house of die hard Freddy fans? But what I did notice was the chuckles due to some bad acting and bad dialogue. Heather Langenkamp who plays Nancy just isn't the best actress. An opinion like that is pretty blasphemous seeing that Nancy is the most iconic Elm Street kid. And I want to stress that the character is the best thing about the film. It's just some of her line deliveries are down right bad/hilarious!

Nancy had a few laughs from the audience but nothing compares to her mom! I have only seen one good performance from Ronee Blakley, she did an amazing job as a country western singer in the film NASHVILLE. Everything else I've seen her in she is pretty terrible. In ELM STREET, I really think she didn't give a crap about the film. The audience was rolling almost every time she uttered a line of dialogue. I laughed too, but was also getting embarrassed for her.

I've mentioned it in my first review, but my favorite thing about A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is worth repeating.

My favorite scene is the climax of the movie. We see a montage of Nancy setting traps all around her house for when she pulls Freddy out of her dream and into the real world. I think that's what I like most about the Nancy character. She fights back! It's easy to write off these slasher movies as 'women in peril' films, but not this one, not A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Dream becomes reality more and more as the film progresses. I could be wrong, but I really think that from the moment Nancy's boyfriend dies and till the end of the movie, it's all a dream. All that work rendering Freddy powerless was for nothing because pulling him into the 'real' world was still just a dream. Of course I could be completely wrong on this, or am I?

In conclusion, I am thrilled beyond measure that I got to see one of my favorite slasher flicks on the big screen! The only thing that would've made the night better was a 35mm print? I honestly believe that's coming! In the meantime, I plan on seeing more old favorites (maybe even some new ones) at the Alamo Drafthouse Horror Show!