Archive for September, 2018

X-Men: Dark Phoenix teaser. UPDATE!

Posted: September 28, 2018 in Movies
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UPDATE: Last night FOX announced they have moved the release of Dark Phoenix. The film has been pushed back from its early 2019 release date and will now come out in early June 2019. There is a specific date but seeing as this is the third date shift for the film it feels pointless repeating it. So yea for now the film is set to release early June. Maybe. We’ll see. Maybe there is stuff going on behind the scenes we do not know about it. Personal stuff etc. Understandable. But if it’s just a case of they don’t know what to do with this film then…that’s a bit crap in it?

So here it is, after release date delays and in the midst of re-shoots, the first look at X-Men: Dark Phoenix has arrived. This latest movie in the hit franchise, which is almost twenty years old (!), will be the second attempt at bringing the much loved classic Phoenix comic arc to the big screen.

In the comics Jean looses control of her powers after becoming the host to a cosmic being known as the Phoenix. What follows is a epic tragedy that goes from the streets of New York City up into outer space as Jean is put on trail by alien lifeforms for crimes against the cosmos. A film version of said events would be epic and the stuff of dreams for X-Men fans. Simon Kinberg’s movie does not look to be that movie.

Here’s the issues I have here. This looks like a remake of The Last Stand but with a smaller budget. In the comic Jean/The Phoenix is consuming stars in space. In this trailer she’s causing crashes and controlling helicopters. All, by the looks of things, in the Midwest. It’s hardly the space opera I was hoping for. Also with The Last Stand comparisons – Jean goes to Magneto, Magneto and Charles argue over her and it looks like there’s going to be a shock death when there doesn’t need to be. Frankly I just dont feel like Kinberg is, nor was ever, the right fit for this series.

Check out the teaser. This film is supposed to be about Jean and Scott. They hardly speak. It’s once more the Mystique, Charles and Magneto show. Sure Jessica Chastain is here and her character is a mystery but I think that’s working against the film. Who is she? She looks like Emma Frost but I guess that would make too much sense because Kinberg has stated she’s not Emma Frost. Nor is she another key player from the Phoenix arc but instead a big mystery. I’m rolling my eyes in case you’re wondering.

I always root for films and I want this movie to be great. I’d never root aginst it and maybe this teaser trailer was just a bit too restrained for its own good and the film does have all the good stuff bust based on Kinberg’s track record and how little his scripts serve characters beyond Charles, Mystique and Magneto I doubt it. This prequel series has a fantastic cast. It would be great to see the material they work with meet them all as an ensemble.

Hoping for the best come Feburary 5th 2018 when the film hits UK screens. I hope this movie proves me wrong and really delivers.

 

Total throwback right? I love the look of the Transformers and I feel strongly the earlier films should have took on this more traditional aesthetic that is more in line with the toys and cartoons we grew up on. The 1987 setting clearly has played a part in the decision to make the Transformers look more like their eighties counterparts.

While nobody at Paramount has come out and stated Bumblebee is a reboot of the series I hope that it is. A reboot in disguise as a prequel! I should point out I am not a Michael Bay hater and I don’t mind his Transformer flicks. The first one is legit decent but I do feel like Bay and co. missed the mark as the sequels continued to come out.

What gives me hope for Bumblebee is the fact it has Travis Knight directing. Best known for his work on ParaNorman, Kubo and the Two Strings and Coraline. He is as removed from Michael Bay – style wise – as you can get. This fresh set of eyes on the franchise could be just what it needs to bring it out of the shadow, it could be said it has fallen under, in the eyes of some fans and critics. A cast featuing Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena and the voices of Angela Bassett and Justin Theroux certainly doesn’t hurt either.

I hope everything comes together for Bumblebee this Christmas when it is released and we get an excellent family adventure.

 

Galaxy Quest

Posted: September 24, 2018 in Movies
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Galaxy Quest, released in 1999, is a great film. The flick is directed by Dean Parisot and follows a group of washed up actors who were a part of a Star Trek like television series called…Galaxy Quest!

That show’s glory days are now over and the actors make their living appearing at fan conventions across the country. A odd group of fans, cosplaying as aliens, seek out the cast to help them with an intergalactic issue. It turns out these fans are real aliens and are under the impression the old Galaxy Quest episodes are historical documents! The resulting movie is a hoot from start to finish. The cast of the show are beamed up to the far reaches of space and must become their TV counterparts in order to save a species which faces extinction.

The film is a clear take on the original Star Trek, its stars and the fan culture that came with that over the years. Galaxy Quest smartly toes the line between highlighting how that whole culture can be a bit over the top but it can be touching and heart-warming also. For as much as Galaxy Quest lampoons the idea of fandom and pop culture it celebrates it just as much. The story is masterful. It takes conventions from those old shows – the expendable crew member, the badly written female roles and the ego driven ‘star’ – and subverts them. It’s a neat trick the film employs many times but one that never feels redundant.

The MVP of the film is Sigourney Weaver. Her character, Gwen De Marco, was the blonde bombshell of the series. Weaver is best known for her roles in the Alien movies and is no stranger to science fiction or horror. It is great seeing her take on a role which highlights how female characters are/were treated in the type of show her character starred. Tim Allen and the great Alan Rickman give Weaver a run for her money. Rickman’s ‘Spock’ like character/thespian of the theatre role is a riot. Allen, meanwhile, looks like he is having a great time sending up the Captain Kirk like archtype leading his crew both on and off screen. Missi Pyle puts on a great show as one of the aliens and there’s strong support from the rest of the cast.

Special effects wizard Stan Winston and his crew deliver some excellent practical effects work. The alien make up is as great as you would come to expect from Winston and his crew. There’s some decent, if dated, CGI work put to solid use on the more elaborate alien/special effects but overall the work in that department is that preferred mix of practical and CGI. The action is fun, the jokes come and don’t let up and the overall vibe is one of playful fun throughout the film. One ‘accident’ involving a trasporter beam is a scene once saw will never be forgotten!

Over time there were rumors that a sequel to Galaxy Quest was in the works. I do not know how valid they were but as we now see, almost twenty years later, no sequel came. The film proved a hit with its target audience and critics. It is a shame we did not get another adventure with this likeable bunch of characters to see what other crazy situations they may have gotten into somewhere out in space. Galaxy Quest is a well liked film though and rightly so. As a science fiction comedy it still plays great today, more so in fact then it did upon its release and that is due to the explosion of fan culture in the last few years. For a generation growing up in a culture defined by the likes of Comic Con and fandom the film carries more weight. Most important, as legit sci-fi fun, the film soars

 

Back in the mid 90’s chances are high you or your buddy had a PlayStation set up at home. This console arguably changed the landscape of video games and elevated the industry beyond just being for kids. Games like Resident Evil and Wipeout proved that adults wanted to game just as much as the kids and the rest is history.

Sony delighted their fans this week when they announced their plans to bring back the original PlayStation console. The Sony PlayStation Classic Console, to give it its proper title, launches December 3rd and will cost you £89.99. For that you get the mini machine (this is pretty much Sony’s version of Nintendo’s SNES Mini), two first gen control pads and twenty pre-installed games.

Right now the only confirmed titles are Tekken 3 (the best Tekken IMO), Jumping Flash, Final Fantasy VII (one of the best games ever made), Ridge Racer Type 4 and Wild Arms. Right there you got a solid mix of genres with a classic fighter, a racer and an RPG. I ain’t played Wild Arms nor Jumping Flash so I can’t comment on their classic status. Not bad but I do wonder what the other yet to be announced games will be? I’d guess Wipeout, Tomb Raider and one of the Resident Evil’s will be a given. They have to right?

The big question being is it worth it? That depends. See I still have my PS3 and I have access to a most of the original PlayStation’s classic games via the PSN Store. Not only that but if you catch a sale you can pick them up for crazy low prices. So consider that. IGN also brought up another interesting take and that is the lack of dual shock controllers. You can play any of the games listed above with no issues with original first gen pads but I am not sure how later titles would handle.

As for myself I’m not sold. Not yet anyway. It depends what the other games are. One thing that would make me seriously consider getting it is if Sony included some games that previously never got European releases. For example Chrono Cross or Bushido Blade 2. Basically it all just depends on the games. If you ain’t got your PS3 lying around though and are in the mood for some all time classics then I think this a great idea.

What games would you like to see included?

Captain Marvel teaser trailer

Posted: September 19, 2018 in Comics, Movies
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Here she is! After months of waiting Marvel fans wishes have been answered with the first look at the Captain Marvel movie. This film stands out among the other MCU movies as being the first one to be led by a female superhero. About bloody time!

My knowledge of the character is limited. I haven’t read her solo comics but I have read a fair bit of Ultimates which is this crazy cosmic series that Captain Marvel is a part of. Those comics are awesome and she’s a kick arse character in those comics. As for her origins? I guess I’ll find out in the movie. I think I read online this film isn’t an origin movie but it sure looks like one from that teaser trailer.

What do you think? I think it looks okay. Look I have no doubt the film will be a hit and will be so because it is well made but – sorry to say it like this – it does – visually – look like any other MCU film. Not a bad thing but I’m just putting that out there. Plus this is only a teaser. Major points for the Blockbuster Video cameo though and I am loving the younger versions of Fury and Coulson. Brilliant effects work there. Oh and Brie Larson is awesome and crazy talented so I think the film will turn out okay. I’m not familiar with the directors though but if Marvel are happy to hire ’em they must be good.

Captain Marvel hits screens next March.

Addams Family Values

Posted: September 17, 2018 in Movies
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Addams Family Values is that rare thing, it is a sequel that is as good as its predocessor. In fact I don’t think we will get adaptations of this famed ghoulish family which will beat either of these films. Addams Family Values, once again directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black), sees the entire cast return for a great sequel. The film hit U.K. cinemas Christmas ’93.

My dad loved these films. We saw the first one together and even today I remember getting joy from seeing how much fun he was having with the film. My dad was a hard man to please when it came to movies. He would be right at home at Variety or The Hollywood Reporter! As such both of the films hold a special place within my film loving heart. The fact they’re both great is the icing on the cake.

In ‘Values the film opens with the birth of the latest addition to the Addams family. While Morticia (Anjelica Huston) and Gomez (Raul Julia) are thrilled Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) set their sights on destroying their little brother. In comes Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack) who becomes the nanny for the family and catches the heart of Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd). But Debbie is not all that she seems. No. Debbie is a serial killer known as the Black Widow. A master of disguise who has left a trail of bodies in her wake and now she has Fester and his family fortune in her sights!

The script for the sequel is excellent. A lot of the humour comes from the sight gags and the one liners. None of which I’d want to ruin except to say the film is very funny and has a lot of quotable lines. Huston and Julia are yet again brilliant in their roles. Perfectly cast. Look out for a bigger role for Wednesday too. Ricci is excellent here and it’s no surprise to see Wednesday get much more to do in this sequel. The rest of the cast are great in their roles but obviously Joan Cusack as Debbie is the big new addition to the family and she fits right in. A summer camp sub-plot featuring Peter MacNicol and Christine Baranski as nightmare camp counselors is another highlight in the comedy department.

Sonnenfeld gives the film its look and sets the tone much like he did so well in the first film. The sets, the Addams home in particular, are real standouts. I love the world of this movie so much. I wish we had gotted more of these Addams Family movies with all the same talent involved but it didn’t turn out that way. On the other hand I am very pelased and grateful to have two excellent Addams Family movies that today have lost none of their laughs nor their smarts. An great sequel that leaves fans with two timeless Addams Family movies to re-visit again and again.

 

The Predator (NO SPOILERS)

Posted: September 14, 2018 in Movies
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The Predator feels like a lost eighties action movie that has suddenly been unearthed. It is packed with all of the action and style that made films like the original movie become firm fan favourites. It’s tough taking a objective look at a film that ranked as one of your most anticipated of the year. Harder in fact when said film not only meets your expectations but goes beyond them. This is one of those cases.

One of the main reasons why The Predator works as well as it does is down to it being a Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, The Nice Guys) flick. Black had a small role in the original film. He returns for this fourth entry in the franchise as both director and co-writer along with long time writing partner Fred Dekker (The Monster Squad). When I heard this duo would be taking on the fourth film in the franchise I was so excited. I couldn’t believe it.

The Predator is a sequel. Not a reboot or a remake and that is the right call I feel. Why reboot when the series has already had three solid entries? The direction is great and the script is boss. The characters – all of ’em – pop and resonate. It’s a wild collection of guys and gals who go up against the alien hunters this time and you’ll be rooting for most of them to make it to the credits. Like the first film the flick is an ensemble and boasts one of the most interesting casts in the series to date. There are actors here you wouldn’t think would fit this world but they do and bring something cool to it.

If you know Shane Black’s work (and Dekker) then the film will resonate more with you. It has their DNA running all the way through it. Characters, from the main players to the smaller supporting ones, come alive with the duo’s awesome dialogue that has their special spark. The main squad who find themselves facing off against the Predator are soldiers, each with a history that paints this clear picture of who they are and what skill they can bring to the fight. Damaged by war and dealing with their own crap only to have to deal with a more deadly threat from space. I liked that angle. This squad gets a few more unexpected members along the way, while not soldiers, they prove just as handy to have around when the crap hits the fan.

Black likes to work against convention and enjoys keeping the audience on their toes. From action beats and plot shifts you don’t see coming to sudden escalations in extreme violence. Black keeps the pace of the film flying by all the way towards an all out crazy final act. There’s a lot to love in this film for fans of the franchise and of action/sci-fi movies. I think this is the most violent entry in the series and I’m pretty sure it sets the bar for the highest body count. The musical score is a treat for fans of the series as is the creature FX work in the film.

Any parts of the movie that don’t work as well? For my tastes no. I will say the tone shifts may throw some people off. This film is very funny. The laughs and fun factor could have some wishing for a more horror focused and serious film. Not this fan though. With Black and Dekker on board I knew there would be laughs and I found ’em a welcome addition to the film. I think also, being brutally honest here, I think the look of some of the Predators in the third movie have been the best in the series to date and that still holds true after this movie. Not to say the look of the Predators in this movie are not great, they are, but would it kill them to include a female Predator in one of these movies?

What I like the most about the Predator franchise is how each one is different from the next. This movie continues that trend. It’s hard to say what will come next but I’m going along for the ride as long as they keep making ’em as good as this. Where does this fit amongst the sequels? Hard for me to say. I like them all and isn’t that enough when you factor in you are now onto the fourth movie in this great action/sci-fi series?

 

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power debut trailer!

Posted: September 12, 2018 in TV
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After being teased for months DreamWorks and Netflix have unveiled the first teaser trailer for their reboot of the 1980’s classic cartoon series She-Ra! The hit show was a spin-off from the equally popular hit He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Both series were famous for having gigantic toy lines during the eighties. To this day both have a huge following amongst fans who grew up with the shows and even have action figures and comic book series on the go to keep the fans happy. In the 90’s and the 00’s He-Man was rebooted twice, the later reboot proving a massive hit with fans. This will mark the first time, outside of the comic book continuity, that She-Ra has seen a reboot.

I grew up with both shows and was a big fan of both. I had He-Man AND She-Ra action figures! I think She-Ra had the superior opening theme. That music! Amazing. Sadly said theme music is nowhere to be found in this teaser trailer. Hopefully it is back. I like the style of this reboot, I think the animation looks very unique and I believe the show intends to stay faithful to the characters original origin.

DreamWorks and Netflix have already had massive success with their reboot of Voltron: Legendary Defender. The reboot proving a massive hit with critics, long time fans and new ones! Hopefully that magic can carry on over to She-Ra when the show debuts this November.

 

 

Anaconda

Posted: September 10, 2018 in Movies
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Anaconda slithered (sorry) onto cinema screens just in time for the summer movie season in 1997. The film stars Jennifer Lopez, noteable for being one of her first leading movie roles, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Owen Wilson and Eric Stoltz. Luis Llosa, who brought audiences the Stallone/Stone actioner The Specialist, directs.

The film follows a documentary film crew whose aim it is to capture a fabeld Amazonian tribe on film. What they don’t bargain on is that the deeper into the Amazon they get the more their chances of ending up inside of a giant snake increase. The film, I’m going off  memory here and not online research so I could be wrong, opened to luke-warm reviews at best but did okay at the box office. It was hardly a hit like Jaws or more recently The Meg. I like it though and I had a good time with it when I re-watched the movie recently.

Whether you like Anaconda or not will depend a whole lot on if you are afraid of snakes. I am. I’m terrified of snakes. You could watch this movie and think the snake doesn’t look threatening enough and wonder what the big deal is. I watch this movie and I’m pooping myself. On the subject of the snake and how it looks and works, well, in my opinion the effects work is good. It is a mix of CGI and practical but I would stop short of calling it seamless. You can tell, even back when the film opened, when the snake is practical and when it is CGI. Not to say the CGI stuff looks awful. Nope. The Mummy Returns Scorpian King reveal still holds that title. Also the fact the effort went into making and using practical creature effects always goes a long way with me. The snake is MASSIVE and it is nasty.

The kills in Anaconda are creative. This snake has one hell of a mean streak in the way it goes about dispatching its victims. Grissly is the best way to describe the deaths in this movie. One boss set piece in the film’s third act uses the environment to demonstrate how no matter where you go or think you’d be safe the anaconda still manages to chase you and take you out. The setting is the films other big star. The locations in the film are stunning. The amazon must be a place of beauty and fear. Lush jungles, seemingling endless rivers and all filled with predators who have no fear of man nor unleashing their fury upon him should he venture where he is not wanted.

I dug the plot. Outside of the documentary plot point there’s some questionable motives some of the characters have for being in the Amazon. Hidden agendas, betrayls and all that stuff. I don’t like giving stuff like that away when I can help it, even if the film in question is over twenty years old. Outside of the snake trying to kill everyone angle I still managed to get invested in the story when it takes some twists and turns. The characters are likeable enough too. Ice Cube is likeable in most films, Lopez could always act and act well (if you disagree you go and watch Out of Sight right now) and she’s good here. The standouts here though are Jon Voight and Jonathan Hyde. Hyde’s character is really funny and gets this cool arc as the film goes along which I wasn’t expecting.

One realy weird and unnerving part of the film is the way the snake screams! I’m not messing. The snake screams when it’s in pain or if it’s angry and it’s very freaky because snakes aren’t known (are they?) for screaming.

Anaconda is a decent creature feature. There are better examples of this genre out there but there’s tons and tons which are way worse. I’ve seen folk saying this movie is “so bad it’s good”  and that makes no sense to me. It’s like apologising for liking a film you enjoyed. Screw that. This film is pretty good for what sort of film it is. It’s directed well, good pace, likeable cast, with a nasty looking snake and some sick kills. If snakes scare you you’ll probably find the film scary too!

 

 

 

Escape from L.A.

Posted: September 7, 2018 in Movies
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If you ask John Carpenter fans what his best movie is you would more than likely hear Escape from New York as a reply. From some fans. See Carpenter is a great director and he has made several genre classics over the years. He is awesome and a total gift to the world of film. He certainly had an impact on my film education growing up and it still guts me he does not work as much as he used to.

Fans had to wait for a sequel to Escape from New York. Not till 1996 would audiences once again be reacquainted with Snake Plisken, the ultimate anit-hero, who is once again drawn into a rescue mission against his will. This time swapping out the prison state of New York for the earthquake ravaged deportation wasteland of L.A.

A sequel inititally was set to go before cameras a lot sooner. The problem was Carpenter was not happy with the direction the script took. So the project was shelved. Eventually, due to Kurt Russell, Carpenter would take a shot at a script for a new adventure for Plissken. Lending him a hand was Debra Hill, who prodcued a lot of his films and Russell himself. The actor felt Plissken was the best character he had played and had wanted to return to the role for some time. Everyone threw their hat into the project and Escape from L.A. was born.

Escape from L.A. is set in the year 2013. Snake has been MIA since the last movie and is still a wanted man for crimes against the state. The script took a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach. The sequel plays out exactly like the first film. Snake is picked up by the cops, tossed into jail to await deportation to L.A. and while in custody is tricked into working for the goverment to bring somthing back. Failure to do so will result in his death. When the film came out it was not met with a great deal of praise. It got a mixed reaction. Some felt the film was a remake of the first movie and not as good. I don’t agree. I think there’s a lot going on in the sequel beyond the man on a mission stuff. It feels great to be back in this world and to see how Carpenter and Russell use it to comment on the real world at the time.

L.A. and Hollywood is known, still today, for having a dark side beneath the bright lights and big dreams. For all the glitz and glamour there’s dark streets and danger lurking for those who don’t know where is safe. In the 90’s there were a lot of issues in L.A. Drug and gang culture, race relations being real bad, street racing and the emergence of cosmetic surgery. Escape from L.A. takes aim at these things; random gang violence, freedom, being able to live your dreams, immigration, deportation, race and the cities fixation on plastic surgery. To good effect. It’s a rich arena in which Carpenter is able to shed light on these aspects of Hollywood while still managing to deliver a fun, crazy and self aware action/sci-fi picture.

The sequel isn’t on the same level as the first film in my opinion. I just prefer the first flick more but Escape from L.A. is not a bad sequel. Carpenter and his style are as strong as ever. One or two CGI effects shots are not good but countering those you have some brilliant practical set work with great use of design and lighting to make you believe you’re looking at a destroyed L.A. The action is full on when it kicks off. While not as intense as the first film it still delivers. The cast are great. Russell loves the character and it comes across in his performence. Once again you get a great musical score, as is the norm with any Carpenter movie, giving audiences a strong action adventure movie that has more going on than it may seem on first viewing.