Thursday, July 28, 2016

Criminal


   Criminal feels like it's a DTVoD (direct-to-video on demand) movie. When things are neatly categorized and put on sale, Criminal would be lumped in with the likes of Marauders, Extraction, I Am Wrath, and whatever underwhelming madness Nicholas Cage has been in lately. But, that is an unfair and unbalanced grouping. John Travolta, Nic Cage, and Bruce Willis are certifiable has-beens. Kevin Costner is, surprisingly, not. From his great turn as Jonathan Kent in Man of Steel, (a role he reprised to great effect in the extremely divisive Batman V Superman) to crowd pleasing flicks like McFarland USA, Draft Day, and Three Days To Kill- Kevin is nothing if not reliable. And, for that matter, so is this movie.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, Season 2


   Season 2 of this show was set to explore virgin territory, seeing as how the first season was a really extended remake of the movie. The first season ended with a new take on things, but it felt familiar in it's own right to people who'd seen the movie. It perfectly set up a new season that would explore an entirely new direction for the property. See, Richie Gecko died in the movie, but with such a perfect duo starring in a TV show, it'd have been retarded to kill him off so early. So, in the show, he became nothing if not essential to the ongoing story, as did Santanico Pandemonium. These two characters, married to the expanded lore of the show, promised a riveting second season. And, boy did it deliver.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Demolition Man


   Demolition Man isn't a great movie, but it's a fun one. In fact, it's almost meta at this point. Watching it in 2016 was a bit surreal to me. The brand of reckless over-the-top action on display in this movie and it's ilk is long gone, replaced by shiny, sleek and safe franchise properties that dole out most of their thrills with CGI. When the movie opens with Stallone's character, John Spartan, rappelling out of a helicopter over an urban warzone, it's stunning. It's a real stunt. Some bona fide Tom Cruise shit.  Whether it's actually Stallone or a stuntman is irrelevant, someone was falling out of that helicopter. I miss those days.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Purge: Election Year


   Frank Grillo is back and so are the freaks. The Purge: Election Year is more of the same stuff we got from Anarchy, and I'm not disappointed. A bit underwhelmed maybe, but c'est la vie. If you're expecting a movie that improves on it's predecessor as much as The Purge: Anarchy did, you're fresh out of luck. Election Year has the same shortcomings as Anarchy, but they feel slightly more prominent. The movie's concept, it's core idea, and it's entire marketing scheme promises widespread chaos and carnage. Where's it at? Election Year is less concerned with delivering on it's promise of insanity and violence and more about sending a message.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Stranger Things


   Stranger Things is the TV that Steven Spielberg, Steven King, Tobe Hooper, and John Carpenter never made, all together. Yet... here it is. It's apparently created by The Duffer Brothers... guys who at this moment have no wikipedia page. Just to give you an idea of how intensely this show blindsided me. I'd seen the ads and the banner for the show on Netflix, and out of the corner of my eye I made a mental note to check it out when it eventually came out. If I had known how much I was gonna love this show, I would've been counting down the seconds til it was available to me. To put this as plain and as simple as I can... This. Show. Is. Awesome.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

My Science Project


   I feel sorry for people who never experienced this movie as a kid. There's a very small fan base for this movie, and the people who like it- love it. Born a decade on either side of this small window of time, and you're in the wrong demographic. Too young, and the movie is a string of pop culture references so dated it might as well be as dry as a high school history class. If you're too old, the movie is nothing more than one of many off-brand attempts to cash in on the success of Back to the Future. Even back in the 80's it was a second tier teen sci-fi/comedy, trying hard to be on par with the likes of Weird Science and again... Back to the Future. So why in the hell do I love it so much?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Turok: Son of Stone


   I didn't have an N64 when I was younger, so I didn't play much Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, and I'm not old enough to be overly familiar with the Gold Key Turok comics, but regardless I've been peripherally familiar with the character enough to get excited about this little-known gem. Before I watched it, I actually sat down with a bunch of the comics, and the remastered version of the original game. I read up on the different takes on the character, and found each to be pretty interesting. This animated movie seeks to strike a satisfying balance between the old, and the not-so-old. I'd say it does a damn fine job.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Green Room


   I'd heard great things about Green Room, the hype was intense. Almost as intense as the movie itself. It's been a long time since I've seen a movie as white knuckled and as gut wrenching as this one. It's also one of Anton Yelchin's last movies, and his death looms over the material like Brandon Lee and The Crow. According to his IMDb filmography, he has a handful of other roles in movies that are currently in post production, but Green Room is now. It feels fresh, current, and the subject matter is bleak as hell. Coupled with the fairly recent news of Yelchin's death, Green Room is a grim watch, but still a fantastic one. Still, everything is a bit sadder now, regardless.

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Purge: Anarchy


   It's no big secret that I disliked The Purge, my feelings about which grew into hatred over time. Yeah, I hate that movie. It was such a criminal waste of such an epic concept that just thinking about that movie pisses me off. Apparently it was a major complaint all across the board because the makers of The Purge: Anarchy got the message. If the title alone wasn't telling of a much bigger tale being told, then give the trailers a look-see, or the posters. This one was promising chaos, carnage and violence- and not confined to a single family house either. It sounded promising even when it came out, but I wasn't keen to cave and watch a sequel to a movie that I hated- though now I'm glad I did. It should say a lot that this sequel doesn't have a '2' in the title anywhere.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Marauders


   Marauders is stylish right out of the gate, ramping up mood and atmosphere, promising to be more than just a cops and robbers thriller. If not more, per se, then at least... deeper. I was pretty hooked throughout the movie, but I found my attention drifting every so often- facebook, snacks, et cetera. Why? Because in this movie with a needlessly complicated plot, there's so much junk in it that simply doesn't matter. It's telling that I had low expectations simply because it's a Direct-to-VOD release, and Bruce Willis is in it. People love to whine about DeNiro no longer doing powerful films, but can we talk about Bruce Willis for a second? Dude is setting records for most DTV junk ever. Is the term 'has been' a bit too harsh?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series


   I always liked the original From Dusk till Dawn. I wasn't a rabid fan, but it was a neat little movie that was always fun to put on when friends were over. It's one half a hostage/thriller, with two bank robber brothers making a break for the border... and one half an insane, over-the-top, vampire blood-fest. It was off-kilter in the best way, and sporting a great cast nonetheless. So just how in the ever-loving hell was a TV show about it going to be any good? A TV show that not only remakes the movie over the span of it's first season, but lays groundwork to continue from there? How this had any potential to be better than an ill-conceived SyFy channel yuck-fest is beyond me. Yet here we frickin' are, and this show... is real damn good.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Captain America: Civil War


   It's funny to me that complaints like "It relies too much on knowledge of previous entries" orbits Civil War while complaints like "It tries to do too much world building in one outing" orbits Batman V Superman. Strictly speaking, the former complaint is bull. If you haven't been watching the Marvel movies so far, why would you pick this movie as your entry point? Get real. Besides, most of the need-to-know stuff is cleverly recapped in the movie anyways. Batman V Superman on the other hand, while the more interesting movie, is also the clunkier one. Where Dawn of Justice stumbles, Civil War soars.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice


   Zack Snyder's latest superhero epic is probably one of the most interesting and thought provoking entries in the entire genre. Yet, it's also deeply flawed. I'm remiss that I even have to mention it's flaws, because the ideas and concepts it explores are so much more interesting and deserving of discussion. What's equally intriguing is the backlash the movie received, not over it's structural missteps, which is often mentioned as a footnote, but the backlash it got over the tone and depiction of Superman and Batman. I can understand it... like one understands a mental illness, but that's all. Batman V Superman is incredibly fascinating.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse


   I'll just come straight out and say it: I liked X-Men: Apocalypse. I actually really enjoyed it. Then again... it probably helps that I went in with rock bottom expectations, and that for the past month I've (almost) exclusively been watching the cheapest, dumbest, most mind-numbing sword & sorcery movies I could get my hands on. A lot of people are tiring of these kinds of movies, but personally, I haven't been awash in big budget comic book extravaganza lately. I haven't even seen Captain America: Civil War or Batman V Superman for that matter. I was as open to this movie as anyone could possibly be, and I simply wanted to have fun. As an undemanding audience, that's exactly what I had.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Jason and the Argonauts


   While it belongs to the sword & sandal genre and not the sword & sorcery genre, it's all the same thing when all is said and done. I'm sure somewhere there's a mythology buff who just got angry with me, but I don't care. Brave men against impossible odds, larger than life gods, mythical monsters, fanatical villains, and epic quests full of heroism and danger? Both genres are full of this stuff. The last act of Jason and the Argonauts could very well belong to a Conan movie. It's dark, mysterious, and full of monsters! The stuff that the fantasy genre thrives on. Jason and the Argonauts sets a a high and shining standard for any similar genre flick, which is no small feat.

Barbarian Queen II: The Empress Strikes Back


   Finally! Some sorcery back in my sword & sorcery! This non-sequel to the first Barbarian Queen is a much more colorful movie, and trumps it's predecessor right out of the gate with a story that actually involves a magical object. That and a bitchy little empress girl uses some sort of wish-magic to turn herself into a woman for some reason. This movie gets heaps of brownie points all across the chart. A sadistic child villain, a magical scepter that only women can use, TWO torture scenes, Lana Clarkson frequently gettin' nekkid, and amazing lines like "Men don't understand power, they think all it's good for is getting more." Woah... Woah.

Barbarian Queen


   "I'll be no man's slave and no man's whore. And, if I can't kill them all... by the gods they'll know I've tried." Holy hell in a handbag, someone forgot to tell Lana Clarkson that she was making a crap movie. I don't know if it was ignorance, pride, or just a strong work ethic, but Clarkson steals the show, consistently trying her damndest to be as convincing as possible. It's a shame that the movie isn't remotely on her level. I'm not saying she's a great actress, or... even a good one, but she's clearly putting in a ton of effort. She tries to make her fight scenes look great, and tries to deliver her lines with flair. She makes the movie much easier to watch, and a damn sight better than Deathstalker III and IV. Eeesh.

Deathstalker IV: Match of the Titans


   You thought I was done with these crappy movies? You thought wrong! Although there's no pride in that statement. Despite the fact they somehow got Rick Hill to return to the eponymous role, Deathstalker IV is a criminal bore. They didn't just get Rick Hill to return, they got all the other movies to return as well. SO friggin' much of this one is just recycled footage from the previous movies, and possibly some other movies as well. This movie isn't even 80 minutes long with both the opening and closing credits, and on top of that, something like 40-45% of the movie is just recycled footage? I doubt there's even a solid hour of new material. That's the sum of Deathstalker IV, for better or worse. Definitely for worse.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Deathstalker III: The Warriors From Hell


   Argh! More than just bad sound effects and a amazingly generic set up (in stark contrast to the whole concept of clones in the previous movie) Deathstalker faces his worst foe yet: bland filmmaking. Falling prey to a host of fresh issues to the franchise, this movie is pretty darn bad, and it's positive aspects never really catch up to the rest of it. It doesn't backfire onto itself quite the way that say... Captain America (1990) did. Yet, it's inept in all the ways the previous films weren't. Or... wait, rather, they're more inept in the same things, or... something. For some damn reason... Deathstalker III just... isn't much fun.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Deathstalker II: Duel of the Titans


   There's a stupid and nostalgic charm to the B section of the sword and sorcery genre. It's junk like this that forms a solid foundation that still supports movies like Conan The Barbarian and Lord of the Rings to this day. It filled out the genre, helping to popularize it in a cheap and accessible way promising trashy and pulpy one-off adventures to 'lands undreamed' of, and if the crappy special effects, poorly choreographed swordplay and grade-A nudity satisfied you, there were probably a half dozen sequels and lookalikes to sate your appetite next time as well. That's the kind of movie Deathstalker II is. Nothing more, nothing less.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Deathstalker


   Would anyone believe I've seen worse? I know that sounds like a flimsy defense, but it's not a defense at all. Movies like Deathstalker, and there's an unholy lot of them, are naturally indefensible. They're just... bad. But why is their brand of bad so appealing and modern day bad is so... un-fun? How can a movie as poorly acted, cliched and as downright stupid as Deathstalker be so ridiculously entertaining? Well, I can't speak for any other flicks, but Deathstalker is almost self aware. Almost. If I didn't know better, and I do... I'd be certain it was. If anything, it does have a much needed sense of humor, and while it's far from high brow stuff, it fits the movie really well.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Hercules


   I was floored to find out Hercules was a Brett Ratner film. Aside from one or two gems/guilty pleasures in his directorial filmography, he's mostly done... crap. And, if not crap, obscure and uninteresting stuff. He's the guy responsible for the absolute worst X-Men movie. Yet, despite my disinterest in his movies, I found Hercules to be an interesting and fun flick. It's not great, but it's slick, well made, and entertaining. From the trailers, I had expected this to be a big mindless CGI fest, but it really wasn't. I mean, there's a lot of hate for the movie online, but I think audiences these days are in auto-dislike mode. Nothing satisfies anyone anymore.

Kull The Conqueror


   My sword and sorcery binge has taken me to strange places, but the general consensus about Kull is that it's a total misfire. So after the Conan movies, and Beastmaster... would this be considered slumming it? Whatever it is, it certainly isn't rock bottom. Though Kull might certainly line the bottom of a DVD bargain bin, and it might just be the best thing down there you've never seen.When you've seen bits of movies like Barbarian Queen and Deathstalker (which I might yet get around to reviewing) you know how low the bar can get for movies like this. Kull isn't bad, and it's isn't great either. It straddles the line between adequate and mediocre in every way that matters.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Beastmaster


    That Conan reboot about finished me with my sword & sorcery binge, but luckily The Beastmaster saved the day. This movie is almost everything anyone could want from a movie like this. It's full of adventure and action, vile villains and vast landscapes, eye catching visuals and beautiful women. The Beastmaster has it in spades. It follows a Conan-esque formula, without ever being a rip-off. It's protagonist might be a bit stiff at times, but he has enough personality to set him apart from the average barbarian. In fact, he's not a barbarian at all. Oddly enough, he has more in common with Luke Skywalker than he does Conan. That is, if Luke wore a loincloth and was completely ripped.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Conan The Barbarian (2011)


   Color me unimpressed with this reboot of the iconic Cimmerian's film franchise. I wanted to like it, I really wanted to, but very few things stuck the landing for my taste. It's not the writing, or the acting that I took issue with- as a fan of the Clash of the Titans remake and it's sequel, I'd be absurdly hypocritical if those were the things that broke this movie for me. Unfortunately, it's the story, the look, the design, and even the casting of the eponymous barbarian that killed it for me. This just doesn't feel like Conan to me. It's an adequate sword and sorcery flick, but it fails to hit the right notes for me- feeling like a movie assembled by people only vaguely familiar with the genre.