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.