Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nolan Goes to WWII in 2017

Christopher Nolan goes back to Europe with his new film, Dunkirk.

Set during the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940, Nolan’s original screenplay will center around the evacuation of the titular French city of Allied soldiers and citizens. And I now know more about this WWII event than I did before.

According to Variety, Dunkirk will feature unknowns as the lead players but with backup by Nolan stalwart Tom Hardy and Kenneth Branagh. It will be produced by long-time partner and wife Emma Thomas and distributed by Warner Brothers in July 2017 and will be shot in IMAX.

Could this be Nolan’s Saving Private Ryan? Let’s hope so come early 2018.

Dimension Loses 'Halloween' Rights

Well, it seems that rather than making a new Halloween film, Dimension Films, the guardians of Michael Myers for the past twenty years, have been stripped of their power.

The Wrap reports that Dimension Films is no longer in the Michael Myers business and that Marcus Dunston and Patrick Melton are no longer involved in the production of the presumably dead-in-the-water Halloween Returns.

Returns would have reportedly either taken place following Halloween II (not Rob Zombie’s) or found Myers on death row. Or both! But now neither. I can’t say I’m too broken up about it.

Under Dimension’s reins, the Halloween films were very hit-or-miss, with the hits meaning not completely terrible and the misses being Halloween: Resurrection. Perhaps, it’s for the best now that little Mikey Myers finds a new home to play in.

Random Movie: Ant-Man (2015)

Much like when Guardians of the Galaxy was announced, I was entirely disinterested in Marvel’s announcement of Ant-Man.

Granted, Marvel has a stellar record with their in-house films and the impossibly cheesy sounding Guardians turned out to be among their top tier. But still. A superhero who controls insects and whose main superpower is shrinking. Boo! Give me more Captain America.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Random Movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

In all honesty, up until the first teaser trailer for The Force Awakens dropped last winter, I was more or less ambivalent towards it.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Random Movie: Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

You might be mistaken for thinking the Mission: Impossible series to be nothing more than Tom Cruise’s daily exercise excuse and to a certain point, that may be true. But this Americanized version of James Bond, with the requisite femme fatales, gimmicky gadgets, and exotic locations, still offers an exciting ride through the world of espionage and double-crossing.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mark Ruffalo's Hulk Brings a Good Reason to Care About Thor

Films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are quite fun and generally well-regarded. And then there’s the duo of Thor movies which, while not bad, are nowhere near as endearing or entertaining as the original Iron Man or Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But the Hulk may be just the perfect plan to give Thor his own breakout movie.

News that Mark Ruffalo would be joining Thor’s third solo adventure, Thor: Ragnorak was greeting with cheers amongst the internet as the duo’s playful bantering, and hitting, was among the high points of The Avengers films.

Ruffalo sums up the new film as such:

“I don’t really know that much about it, but I think it’s going to be a buddy picture with Thor and Bruce Banner,” Ruffalo said. “I think they’ll probably fight. There’s no doubt, everyone wants us to fight at one point.”

As drab and ultimately forgettable as the previous Thor films were, this seems like a sure-fire way to make this one stand out. Everyone loves a fight between a god and a giant.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Is it 2011? An Angry Birds Trailer Appears

An Angry Birds movie may have made sense a few years ago. Is this an attempt to reinvigorate the franchise or merely sell more games and plush animals?

The new trailer for The Angry Birds Movie, due out next summer, a good four years or so since Angry Birds were relevant in pop culture, doesn’t show much action or plot but merely introduces the characters we’ve all grown to love and loathe through our pig-destroying levels.

The fact that this trailer light on jokes and heavy on name placement doesn’t bode well for this adaptation but we are still a few seasons away from a release. Although, this cast, including Jason Sudekis as ‘Red’, could enliven the scorned birds sufficiently, this seems more of a late cash grab than any animated kids movie that has any merit.

Perhaps I’ll be wrong.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Random Movie: The Happening (2008)

With M. Night Shyamalan back in the news recently for relatively positive reviews for his newest film, let us not forget that he has made some shitty movies. One of those movies is The Happening.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Mist Takes Another Form

According to Deadline, the powers that be are planning The Mist to be a weekly endeavor.

It’s funny that I just watched the film with my son this weekend, to which he threw the remote in anger due to the ending.

The overall gist sounds the same with a strange mist rolling into a small town filled with god-knows-what and presumably the plucky cast of characters who have to face it all.

While I’m not sure that The Mist would be a suitable candidate for TV adaptation, it certainly sounds intriguing enough.

Hopefully for some, there won’t be such a downer ending.

Monday, August 31, 2015

TV Scum: Fear the Walking Dead - So Close, Yet So Far

There was much complaining in the wake of last week’s finale that the pace was too slow with too little to justify its bloated runtime. While I can see the argument, I disagreed with that assessment. This, the second episode, should more closely match fan’s expectations: more zombies, more carnage, more collapse of society. As is stated in the episode: “it all goes quickly.”

Madison, Travis, and Nick are mostly in shock at the start following the close of the pilot with Nick’s dealer, having been shot and twice run down with a truck, still giving them the glance-over with that glazed, zombified look in his eyes. Madison’s daughter, on the other hand, is concerned with her boyfriend who flaked on their last meetup and decides to go to his house. There she finds a house torn to pieces and Matt with a high fever and an unknownst to her bite on his shoulder.

After finally prying Alicia away from Matt without any damn good explanation of why, the group heads back to their house only to split up again. Travis goes to collect his wayward son while Madison leaves in search of meds to help with Nick’s heroin withdrawl.

Travis runs into interference, first with his ex, with whom he is apparently not on the best of times. And then with the sprawl of LA and its traffic issues. There he sees a cop, not helping defend the citizenry or clear up any misunderstandings, but stocking away a small bodegas worth of bottled water in the back of his cruiser. After finally reaching his ex, Liza’s house Travis finds out his son is embroiled in a civil protest of the police shooting of what we know to be a zombie.

Madison, not having been able to reach a doctor, decides to head back to her high school and raid the police confiscation locker for Nick’s meds. There, she meets up with pimply-faced Tobias from last week who politely asks for his knife back before he raids the school’s pantry full of food. All is well on their way out until Madison and Tobias run into Artie (otherwise known on the internet as Principal Obama) in a not-quite living form. With that same glazed, zombiefied look in his eyes, Madison attempts to reason and help him until ... well, he tries to eat them forcing her to fire extinguisher his zombie ass.

Much of the push-back from this week’s critisms are the actions of the characters but that is an argument I do not share. Spared the horribleness of the initial outbreak, I’d imagine scenarios like this episode happened the world over in the parent series. A father goes desperately searching for his son. A mother goes to find help for her son. They don’t really have the words to tell people (especially poor Alicia who’s still in the dark at the end of this episode) “Hey, Zombies! Don’t go near them!” In a world where zombie fiction is not a thing, Madison and Travis are at a loss to describe what is happening to express their concerns.

Travis is smart enough almost immediately to recognize safety is outside of the city. He is also smart enough to take refuge in a barber shop when the civil protests turn violent and riot-y. Madison isn’t dumb that she doesn’t tell Alicia her boyfriend is already dead and to stay the hell away. She’s not only dealing with the return of her drug-addled son but is in shock and disbelief over what has happened and what has to be done.

So when Mr. Parker, their next-door neighbor, stumbles across the street and attacks the other neighbors, Madison just forces good-hearted Alicia inside and blocks the door.

If the biggest asset to this show is that no one is an inherent hero like a Rick or Shane, just regular people figuring things out, it would be preposterous for Travis, Madison, or anyone else to start speaking with any authority on what the hell is going on. There is no word from the police other than stay inside, at this point most people are only seeing the periferals of the outbreak if any, and this is all unfolding in the matter of an afternoon.

Call me an pessimist but that’s how things would unfold if this happened in a world without Night of the Living Dead. People making the best decisions they can based on the limited knowledge they have. That’s why I can’t fault or complain when these characters do something stupid. You or I would likely do far worse.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wes Craven Dies But Forever Haunts Our Dreams

According to Hollywood Reporter, Wes Craven has died at the age of 76.

Likely only in stature to John Carpenter, Craven and his work has had a remarkable impact on not only my movie-going experience but life in general.

Beginning with his first feature Last House on the Left, Craven has had the remarkable ability to inspire and horrify viewers for over 40 years. He dreamt our nightmare with A Nightmare on Elm Street. He made slasher films relevant again in his Scream series. He brought to life so many various stories of despair and trouble through voodoo, incarceration, and even robotics.

While admittedly his output has been very hit-or-miss (more miss in his later years), Craven was always held up as a professor of the genre that he helped create. He, and his works, will be sorely missed.

Wes Craven 1939-2016

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Random Movie: It Follows (2014)

Adulthood is scary. An imaginary foe constantly stalking you is even worse.

Monday, August 24, 2015

TV Scum: Fear the Walking Dead - Pilot

Whereas the pilot episode to The Walking Dead began with a bang and a shuffling zombie girl clutching a stuffed bunny, Fear’s pilot takes the more nuanced approach of showing us the world of despair and decay, only for the sake of watching it be torn down even further.

Opening in dank, darkened church but strange sounds, heroin addict Nick stumbles around to find a few of his mates eviscerated and his friend Gloria munching on a dude’s face. Unsurprisingly, Nick is shocked and appalled and runs his ass right out of the church into oncoming traffic.

Nick is the son of Madison, the level-headed guidance counselor, who has long given up on her son’s drug problems. When Nick turns up in police custody after the accident ranting about what he has seen, Madison is quick to renounce them as ravings of a drug addict and not a looming threat to the world at large. Oops.

For as much as this series was built upon the premise of a first-hand report of the collapse of civilization, very little happens as of yet. Of course, this is just the pilot and just getting things started but the lead characters of Madison and her live-in boyfriend Travis only learn of, and finally believe Nick, when a man with a gunshot wound and multiple major injuries continues to pursue them, even glancing in their direction after his ambulatory ability is removed.

The rest of the episode is mostly getting to the know the protagonists and their living agenda which also plays into AMC’s emphasis that this series is at its core about the family unit. Madison and Travis appear to be relatively new to their live-in relationship, much to the chagrin of Madison’s daughter Alicia and Travis’ son Something-or-another. But they do sell the genuine feeling of a family, whether it be sitting beside Nick’s hospital bed or out scouring the city after Nick disappears again.

There are some fleeting moments of zombie carnage, though the biggest reveal (to the world at large at least) is fleeting as a squad of police attempt to take down a walker only for him to get up and keep coming. Perhaps as a commentary on the permeation of social media in the lives of youth today, Alicia and her friends see the footage and think it to be a hoax. Little do they know.

Like I mentioned, this is very much a slow-burn for a pilot as the threat and dangers seem to be peeking around the corner but not yet ready to reveal themselves in full-force yet. But we still have five more episodes to go this season and a commitment for an entire new slate next year to keep society crumbling as the zombies rise.

All in all, the pilot alone doesn’t carry the same weight as that of the original but the promise of what is to come will keep me tuned in.

Random Movie: Bad Boys (1995)

Remember way back when Michael Bay wasn’t responsible for teenaged-fantasy films of semi-nudity, explosions, and gratuitous slow-mo? Yeah, me neither.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

In a World of Superhero Glut, Only Deadpool Can Save Us Now

At this point where potential blockbusters are fizzling faster than an opened 2-liter soda and the Age of Superhero Glut is rapidly approaching with a list of theatrical releases that only rivals the Republican candidates, when will the general public become as oversaturated with superheroes as they were slashers in the 80s or Haley Joel Osment in the 90s?

Enter Deadpool. No doubt by now you’ve seen the Deadpool trailer and the awesomeness it brings along with it. But even though Deadpool is not a household name (at least not in my comic-book reading household), the film seems to strive to break the monotony of heroes, gods, larger-than-life villains but not a lot of substance.

Of course, Deadpool’s biggest draw over it’s crowded marketplace is that Fox has committed to releasing a Hard-R picture which not only can provide the blood and guts that tameless PG-13 films have had to curtail, but also to showcase Deadpool’s very iconic and abrasive personality with all the F-bombs and M-F’ers the movie can withstand.

Even though all we have to go on is a trailer at this point, all signs point to Deadpool being a fun and action-packed movie but some worry that its March release date and R-rating will hurt profitability which likely then will dovetail into another Fantastic Four abortion of celluloid.

Marvel may be the superhero juggernaut with it’s never-ending streak of hits and next year’s Captain America looks to continue that trend while it stuffs just about every member of the MCU in that cereal box. But Marvel tends to play its narratives safe and straight and family friendly which Deadpool most definitely does not appear to be.

Perhaps Ryan Reynolds in disfigured makeup and a smart-ass sense of humor will show audiences, and studios, that superheroes don’t have necessarily be heroes. They just have to be funny, entertaining, and a little blood, gore, and foul language in moderate don’t hurt either.

But anyways, let’s watch the Deadpool trailer goodness again.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Random Movie: Sinister (2012)

Well damn if Sinister isn’t a gut punch, even for hardened horror fans like myself.

Sinister carries similar traits as other Blumhouse Productions such as Paranormal Activity or Insidious. Blumhouse films tend to be far more suspense than horror, using fear, dread, and general anxiousness over stupid, vapid villains and unearned jumpscares. Sinister, focusing on a true crime author who finds himself way in over his head in horrendous crimes against families follows suit. And it’s probably one of the better horror films to come out this decade.

Ethan Hawke is Ellison Oswalt, the aforementioned writer, who is so desperate for a hit that he uproots his family and moves them into a house where the previous occupants were suspended from a hanging tree limb for quite a while. Of course, Oswalt, being the good caregiver he is, declines to tell his family they are living in the murder capital of their quite county.

Oswalt stumbles upon a box in his new attic innocuously marked “Home Movies” with a Super 8 camera and some film. Yet those home movies are self-made snuff films of entire families murdered by drowning, burning, or having their throats slashed.

Co-writer and director Scott Derrickson slowly shows Oswalt’s mental deterioration as he stumbles further and further into a possibly decades-old murder plot of families quite effectively. At first, the tapes represent nothing more than grisly crime footage before quickly becoming more macabre and taking Oswalt’s hit-novel determination and turning it quickly into a quixotic task of understanding the unthinkable.

Derrickson and co-writer C. Robert Cargill show much of the crime footage early on to then focus on Oswalt as he deals with the underlying issues the move has had with his kids, his marriage, and his sanity as he cradles a bottle of whiskey just to bring himself down. In spite of being a relatively low-budget horror affair, the frights and chills are aplenty without resorting to stock options of spring-loaded cats or shapes appearing in mirrors. But all in all, the film is a slow-burn with no “on-screen” violence, just the psychological torment Oswalt puts himself and his family through.

With the help of local Deputy So-and-So (James Ransone) and a university professor (an uncredited Vincent D’Onofrio), Oswalt begins to piece together the string that ties all the home movies together and the potential Babylonian deity named Bughuul (or more commonly known as MR. BOOGIE!) that are influencing these heinous acts.

And even though no one in their right mind (I guess) would move into a house where multiple murders have taken place, Oswalt’s determination never seems forced or insecure as he honestly believes he is the one to uncover something big and be handsomely rewarded for it. Needless to say, that doesn’t quite go as planned as Oswalt reaches his breaking point and rushes out of town in the middle of the night. Assuming that is that Mr. Boogie couldn’t still find them.

There are so many surprises and jumps in this film that to this day after watching it probably four or five times there is still one scene in particular (those of you in the know, you know which one I’m talking about) that literally make me jump out of my seat in horror.

That is not an easy accomplishment and I give all the kudos in the world to Derrickson, Cargill, and Blum for concocting such a deeply disturbing film that stays with you long after it’s over.

Now, will the sequel be any better? I doubt it but I’m certainly willing to give it a try.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Random Movie: John Wick (2014)

Hell hath no fury like a dog owner scorned.

Harkening back to uber-violent action films of the 80s and 90s, Keanu Reeves as titular character John Wick is cold, calm, collected, and quite badass assassin as he single-handedly takes down an entire underground syndicate and the crime boss Tarasov’s son kills Wick’s dog while stealing his car. Being that the dog was a gift was his late wife, Wick does not take this too well and soon is running around whatever unnamed metropolis decimating the legions of bad guys working for Tarasov who are protecting his son.

While he typically gets much grief for his limited range and acting abilities, Reeves absolutely shines here as the withdrawn, broken Wick. Many fight scenes and shootouts occur during the film where Wick executes those in his way in a cold, brutal fashion and Reeves looks mighty creepy with his blank, emotionless face while pulling the trigger point-blank at a man.

Co-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch make what would otherwise be a silly tale about a man and his dog and play it completely straight with plenty of gratuitous violence abound. It is very tightly pieced together with a number of ancillary characters (including Willem Dafoe, Lance Reddick, and Adrianne Palicki) popping in and out to give the story more twists than a simple shoot-em-up flick.

Supposedly, John Wick is supposed to kickstart a trilogy of films about the character and I would not be opposed to that. Wick is the grim-dark version of Jason Bourne and James Bond with no qualms to put a bullet in the heads of those who wrong him. He isn’t exactly a hero (no one in this film is arguably a hero) but at the very least, he is a compelling character that I’d like to see more of.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Calling All Run Aground Horror Series!

After the news of Michael Myers’ triumphant return in the stupidly titled “Halloween Returns,” Myers’ contemporary slasher villains are not going to sit on their laurels.

I wonder where the saturation point of dredging up old 80s and 90s franchises will land but apparently not here as both Freddy and Jason have rumored continuations in the near future.

A Friday the 13th series is apparently in the works at the CW which will feature the masked zombie/undeadish thing rather than whatever that anthology bullshit was that the previous series tried to pass off.

According to IGN, the series will take place around the infamous Crystal Lake that “takes a more “sophisticated” approach as a horror/crime thriller.” There is also talks of gritty and grounded. To that I say: how the hell can one make Jason Voorhees a gritty and/or realistic/ and/or grounded character considering he’s been dead for about seven movies?

The series will apparently focus on a detective searching for his brother who is presumed missing after visiting Camp Blood. An interesting premise for sure but wasn’t that basically done in several movies in canon? We’ll have to see how this one plays out on a weekly basis with a broadcast network. I’m guessing there won’t be any nudity.

On the other hand, Freddy’s back! Maybe that is.

The source is “The Tracking Board” (which I’ve never heard of before but whatever) and they claim that New Line (or whatever part of Warner Brothers they’ve been folded into) is looking to reboot the series even though that was the point of the completely terrible remake from 2010. Thus far, only David Leslie Johnson, writer of Orphan, is attached so perhaps this will flame out before it does anymore damage.

I’m still waiting on the Critters reboot.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Images of 'Batman V Superman' Surface; Still 50 Shades of Meh

After a silly tiltle, some inspired casting, and a “meh” trailer, new images have emerged for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice to remind people it is still happening.

Entertainment Weekly brings us looks at the aforementioned inspired casting of Ben Affleck and Jesse Eisenberg as Batman and Lex Luthor respectively and ... not much else except for the preppy/hippy vibe I’m getting from Eisenberg ...

and a mosh pit forming around Supes ...

and a dance scene between uneasy allies and/or frenemies that seems ripped from just about every other action film (including the last Batman movie!).

Click through for the rest and don’t let news of Affleck’s divorce get you down. Let’s just see how well this film goes before we see how much we feel sorry for him ... and Superman.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

'Go to Jail? No. You Go Straight To Hell!' Monopoly Movie Says

Ah, Monopoly. American’s favorite pasttime of ruined furniture, hurt feelings, and deep psychological scars is finally (FINALLY!) coming to a multiplex near you. Yes, a real movie of Monopoly.

From Lionsgate’s PR-friendly proclamation, Hasbro and Lionsgate have apparently blackmailed decent-enough writer/director Andrew Niccol into heading the project which will follow a curmudgeonly old man around who forcibly evicts people from their homes and dispatches the into debtor’s prisons for approximately four hours. No, just kidding.

The story centers on a boy from Baltic Avenue who uses both Chance and Community in a quest to make his fortune, taking him on a fun, adventure-filled journey. It’s about making your own luck, what makes you truly rich and, of course, avoiding Jail time!

No word on how Hasbro and Niccol plan to incorporate beauty contests, free parking (yes, it’s a thing!), or damn construction costs into the story to effectively portray the soul-sucking that occurs just after the three hour point.

If there is one thing this project needs, it is Sean Connery coming out of retirement to play Mr. Moneybags (or whatever his damn name is) to verbally abuse the viewers while sending them to Kentucky Avenue or to “Go back three spaces ... to your father’s [censored].”

That would really seal the deal of authenticity.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Welcome to 1987 Where a Top Gun Sequel is Relevant

Tom Cruise has proven in his accelerated, but still good-looking, age that he is up for anything. Anything meaning climbing the tallest building in Dubai, holding onto a plane in middair, and even starring in a sequel to a movie that wasn’t that great to begin with from almost 30 years ago.

Producer David Ellison spoke to Collider recently about the status of the long-threatened Top Gun sequel which will now feature MOAR TOM CRUISE saying, “[t]here is an amazing role for Maverick in the movie and there is no Top Gun without Maverick, and it is going to be Maverick playing Maverick.

I guess this means no more Taylor Lautner taking over the reigns from Senor Cruise as was previously rumored but also no cameo from Anthony Edwards who probably could use the work.

The film is supposed to focus on the plight of fighter pilots in the face of the now trendy drone pilots and probably some dog-fighting between Maverick and some “hot-shot” behind a arcade stick. And it will be in IMAX and 3D because why not? Haven’t we lost enough already?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

When All Else Falls, Make Another Terminator TV Show

With this week’s Terminator Genisys coming out to a host of potential and a good early word of mouth, of course the conversation has turned into making more money. And of course, Terminator is in talks to have a TV show spin-off.

But wait? Wasn’t there a Terminator series already? One that was critically lauded and beloved by fans cut short by a writer’s strike and ended its short run with a cliffhanger? By god, you’re right! That was Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles!

According to Skydance CEO David Ellison, a new TV series is in the development stages and of course will tie into the larger Terminator franchise as is the norm for just about every damn property these days.

The dream for us would be to be able to obviously make films, television shows, we have a video game with Glu, comic books, and they all should be standalone experiences. If you just watch the movies or if you just watch a television show, it’s a complete experience.

Of course, expanding popular titles into other media is no new development for Hollywood and just because one TV series didn’t make it (although it totally should have been more successful than it was) doesn’t mean another can’t be. Ellison wishes to produce the show as a basic-cable shorter episode season that has yielded far better quality than the typical 22 episode season.

While I can’t argue the logistics of Hollywood and while I think a Terminator series can be a financial success, this news irritates me, mainly because TSCC is still cancelled.

Better luck next time, I suppose!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

More Suffering! Top 9 Sequels That Completely and Absolutely Suck

As Randy so eloquently put it in Scream 2, sequels by their very definition are inferior works. Often times they are derivative and lack any imagination that made their predecessors so powerful. But most sequels aren’t bad per se, just worthless. These sequels though are bad enough to almost make you angry at the series for spawning such dreck.

Theater Scum: Ted V. Max

A crude talking anthropomorphic teddy bear and a war hero dog. Which should I take the kids to see?

Ted 2

Seth MacFarlane certainly didn’t win any friends after his last film, A Million Ways to Die in the West or his Oscar-hosting gig or the legions of folks who think he’s a talentless hack riding on the animated coattrails of The Simpsons. But I liked the first Ted and I can tolerate Family Guy even if it’s whatever the opposite of appointment TV.

MacFarlane’s problem is MacFarlane. His juvenile schtick wasn’t too robust to begin with and that seems to be all he has going for him. Sure, people still like him. I still tolerate him. He’ll be fine with the 13 hour animated block he has on FOX every week. But I’d be surprised to see Ted 2 do as well as the original did. Tides are shifting, man.


With the trailer proclaiming Max is from the director of Remember the Titans (uplifting!) and a producer of Marley & Me (gut-punching), I think it’s pretty safe to assume what you are in for here.

This seems to be marketed primarily as a kid’s movie based on the thousands of commercials I’ve seen on Disney Channel which makes sense as it centers on a young boy dealing with the loss of his brother and bonding with Max while outrunning 4x4s in the woods. I’m not quite sure how the 4x4s factor into things but at the very least, it’s nice to see Thomas Hayden Church and Lauren Graham getting some work. Even if it is in a sappy-looking tear-jeaker.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Random Movie: Zombeavers (2014)

Zombeavers has no business being as good as it is.

Stop me if you’ve heard this premise before. A group of horny co-eds go to an empty cabin in the middle of nowhere and are picked off one-by-one by some gruesome, unstoppable force of nature. Since this basic gist describes the vast majority of horror films produced in the 80s so you’d be forgiven if your appetite wasn’t enthusiastically whetted. However, where before we had masked psychopaths with questionable parental supervision, here we have killer beavers. More specifically zombified killer beavers. It’s fantastic.

Co-screenwriter/director Jordan Rubin is clearly well versed in the tropes of the horror films of yore. We have our batch of easily disposable victims, simple and close-minded locals that no one pays attention to, and gloriously cheesy practical effects when the ZOMBEAVERS come knocking (and chewing) at the door. I was reminded of Adam Green’s Hatchet while watching this as it is an attempt to recreate the horror films of our youth with a completely straight face and a genuine love of all those beloved cliches.

With tempered expectations, there is really nothing to complain about for this film. There are plucky comic relief characters and bits, gratuitous nudity, enough gore, and surprisingly, not a single character that makes you want to jump out of a damn window. All the actors, including the wonderfully bitchy Cortney Palm, are fair game in the performances in what otherwise could have been a laughably bad farce full of satire or constant winks at the audience.

Instead, Rubin plays everything straight as an arrow, even when it comes to the more incredulous moments like the transformation of former humans (and even bears) into ZOMBEAVERS. The runtime is a little short so the events tend to unfold fairly quickly with the ZOMBEAVER attacks beginning little more than 20 minutes into the film but this more than not works in the films favor. There is still enough time to learn the characters and their situations (as much as we’re really supposed to) before reanimated aquatic rodents are severed in half via blunt force trauma and genitals are being bitten off.

In short, if you are expecting great art from a film called ZOMBEAVERS, you are way off and should probably realign your expectations with reality. But for those with a love of old school horror, this slasher/creature feature will please you greatly. But considering the tagline is ‘YOU’LL BE DAMNED!’ how can you not like it?

PS: How in the world could I ever forget the awesome Richard Cheese-ish ZOMBEAVER theme song?

ZOMBEAVERS! ZOMBEEEEAVERS! Oh Jesus Christ You can’t escape / They’ve blocked the road with trees

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ben Affleck to Direct 'The Batman'? Yes, Please.

While I don’t hold out much hope for Batman V. Superman, Ben Affleck is not a point of my consternation.

Given his resurgence as a powerful actor/director combo, I trust Affleck will be the least troubling part of DC Comic’s epic superhero movie of 2016. It’s just the shaky director, the overstuffed cast, and the gimmicky premise that has me questioning my future earnings on a box office ticket.

But a solo Batman flick, simply titled The Batman, not only starring Affleck but also directed by him too? Count me in.

At this point it is merely a rumor posited by Latino Review that Affleck will be in the director’s chair but I’d argue that’s a fine choice for whatever direction DC decides to take Batman.

Affleck has already proved his worth in his previous directorial efforts of Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo (factually notwithstanding) and I’m anxious to see what his take on the iconic character will look like when not shoehorned in with every other damn DC Comics character that seems to be in next year’s questionable entry.

I am still not entirely sold on a post-Nolan Batman universe but Affleck in both capacities would at least get me interested.

Please let this be true.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Guide to Upcoming Summer Movies: Terminator Genisys

Terminator Genisys: Opening July 1

The Good: Reboots are all the rage these days in Hollywood, especially since that means they can make a buck from movie-goers dying to see their favorite franchise in better places than ... say Terminator Salvation. Genisys (stupid spelling aside) seems to sort-of buck that trend with a page ripped out of Back to the Future 2: revisiting familiar faces and places but with a different twist. Given the complexity of the time-travel machinations, this doesn’t seem to be a bad choice.

Also, the Mother of Dragons as Sarah Conner looks pretty good too.

The Bad: This is the fifth movie in this franchise. James Cameron pulled off a miracle in Terminator 2 with larger stakes, bigger action pieces, and a story that mattered. Most sequels these days apply that template but forget to fill in the rest of the details. It is possible this is one such tale that leaves the paint-by-numbers pieces blank.

The Prognostication: Decent reception if only because Arnold and his shlocky lines have been around for so long and audiences are likely desperate for a decent Terminator film in this century.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Who Returns in 'Halloween Returns'?

After a few false starts and broken dreams, Dimension Films is again readying to unleash Michael Myers on film-going audiences.

Bloody Disgusting reports that plans have been unveiled for Halloween Returns*, the eleventh installment to the franchise whose on- and off-screen butching has been around since 1978. Returns (not to be confused with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers) will be written by Feast and Saw scribes Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunston with Dunston set to direct.

The story (as if it mattered as long as there is no white horse around) is that Myers in now on death row for his crimes but escapes (natch) and has in his targets a child of a former victim and a tough-nosed cop who is obsessed with Myers. Probably also other semi-naked, horny teens since this is a latter day Halloween film.

From the cast reports, this installment seems to return the series back to its original continuity from the first two films rather than continuing Rob Zombie’s insanity of a series. So, yay for that!?

Melton and Dunston have a spotty resume (mostly because I absolutely hated Saw 5 and I hear those Feast sequels were no good either) but I hold out hope for this one. Until I hear of the inevitable stunt casting of Katy Perry and Drake and collectively lose my shit. Until then, I’m cautiously optimistic.

*This is a dumb title. Whoever thought of this should feel bad and have their movie-making privileges revoked.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Random Movie: 22 Jump Street (2014)

As Nick Offerman’s character says in 22 Jump Street, no one gave a shit about the “Jump Street reboot” but it did well enough to be brought back again. Only everyone wants the exact same thing. Fortunately, this movie is smarter than to retread standard sequel ground.

After a illegal goods bust gone bad, Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are reassigned back to the Jump Street project, still under the direction of the angry black captain Dickson played by Ice Cube, to go undercover to college and investigate a new synthetic drug. Everyone emphasizes that Schmidt and Jenko are to do the exact same thing to crack the case.

Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller know well enough that standard sequel shenanigans won’t cut it after the meta-infused original that skewered the idea of Hollywood recycling and unoriginal ideas. As such, Lord and Miller turn their attention to the notion of second outings, and their built-in expectations of more of the first film but just enough to make it new.

On that front, 22 Jump Street is basically a copy of the original except with new jokes and emphasis on second films instead of remakes. But whereas the first film was largely centered around the pairing and partnership of Schmidt and Jenko, this film breaks down that partnership as the two gravitate toward different friends and social circles. Jenko is almost immediately accepted into the jock community after an impressive showing at football tryouts and, try as he might, Schmidt cannot keep up with that lifestyle and instead falls in with the angsty art kids.

But while the formula of the film isn’t largely different from its predecessor, Lord and Miller are fully aware of this and throw enough at the screen to make up. Everything from acclimating to college life, to those aforementioned angsty art kids, to pledging fraternities are showcased and lampooned all while driving the story of a dead college student and rampant drug use. In a more conservative movie, there might be a social message about the dangers of drinking in excess or drugs but there is no time for that in a Jump Street movie as the duo get into just about everything teens are warned of for the sake of a few dozen laughs.

The most important “message,” if you can even call it that in Jump Street Part Deux is of the relationship between Schmidt and Jenko as they drift away under the weight of other obligations and self-identity. But of course, at the end Jenko realizes his bro-mate Zook (Wyatt Russell) does not offer the same fulfillment he gets from Schmidt and Schmidt realizes the same from his group. And they come together to catch the bad guys and save the day, all through either incompetence or brute force depending on what is necessary.

But enough about story and messages and all that jazz since for all the self-realized limitations this sequel has against it, it delivers plenty of genuine laughs likely through just improv and screwing around on the set, especially between the leads (Tatum here continues to prove that he is far more talented than he gets credit for) and from breakout Jillian Bell whose jokes at Schmidt’s expense (and his crows’ feet). Unlike the majority of comedies that have a 5:1 ratio of jokes that fall flat to those that land, Jump Street fires on all cylinders, even through the end credits.

Friday, May 29, 2015

M. Night Wants to Suck on TV with 'Unbreakable'

Unbreakable was a modest success for director M. Night Shyamalan after his genuinely good (remember when that was true) debut and now, Night longs to bring it to TV.

Speaking with IGN, Shyamalan expresses interest in continuing the saga of undercover superheroes (note: I haven’t seen this movie in forever) saying. “as a way continue the story, yes. That would [interest me].”

We here at Movie Scum are strongly in favor of the shift to great, truncated TV dramas but are hesitant that M. Night (regardless of whatever acclaim his recent show Wayward Pines is getting) should be allowed anywhere near the same medium as The Good Wife, Game of Thrones, or Breaking Bad.

And let us not forget that he directed The Happening. And The Last Airbender. And After Earth. And ...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Guide to Upcoming Summer Movies: San Andreas

San Andreas: Opening May 29

The Good: Disaster movies are fun, especially when they take place (like they seem to do the majority of the time) on the West Coast full of granola-crunching hippies singing Kumbaya (note: I’ve never been further west than Ohio). Disaster movies these days are also good for mediocre special effects showing the complete destruction of iconic areas and landmarks and San Andreas looks no different. But if anyone can take on the mother of all earthquakes, it’s The Rock with sidekick Carla Gugino.

The Bad: Let’s be honest though. The disaster movie genre of the 70s is long gone and it took with it any sense of characterization or possible realism. San Andreas is a Hollywood producer’s wet dream with big blockbustin’ stars, action, effects ... the whole nine yards. And boy, does it show it in every single trailer or TV spot I’ve seen for this with the crumbling buildings, massive chasms in the ground and a 100’ tidal wave that The Rock(!) powers a speedboat over. Also, Paul Giamatti spouting exposition. I’m sure that’ll be riveting.

The Prognostication: Shake, rattle, & roll straight to the bargain bin at Wal-Mart with 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and every other contemporary disaster flick.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Hulk to Wants Prove Himself Expendable

Aside from a voice-over role in Gnomeo and Juliet and an assuredly special episode of Walker, Texas Ranger, Hulk Hogan has mostly kept his hijinks in the fake ring of professional wrestling. Will that be changing soon?

Not since Hogan and Tiny ‘Zeus’ Lister faced off with the smarmy assistant from Ghostbusters 2 in No Holds Barred have I been as excited about The Hulk appearing against a bunch of wrinkle-faced mutants (Gremlins 2 not withstanding). The Hulk confirms talks with Sylvester Stallone about appearing in the presumably forthcoming Expendables 4 as the villainous villain who no doubt will kill and maim and bring our rag-tag team of Expendables (and maybe -belles) together.

Considering The Rock is likely a good twenty years away from taking this role, Hogan seems like a good fit. I just hope they can find a suitable stunt man.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Random Movie: White Rabbit (2013)

In a grim look a at teenager’s life, White Rabbit shows that some people are born to be hunters and some are molded that way.

Tim McCann’s film is at times not predicable and at others you can completely see everything unfold. Beginning with Harlon (Nick Krause) as a boy whose father eggs him into killing a trapped white rabbit and jumping forward through the years to show the systematic abuse he suffers from classmates, teachers, and even his own drug-addled and drunk father, it is clear that Harlon is not emotionally stable. Couple this with his obsession with a comic book that he speaks to, Harlon has little in his life of note with the exception of Steve, a younger boy also forced to suffer at the hands of society.

Things begin to get better when Harlon meets Julie (Britt Robertson), a new transplant into his high school who has issues of her own but the two forge a bond and almost a relationship through alcohol, drugs, and shooting guns in the small town. Soon though, Julie is gone, Steve is gone, and Harlon has no one to turn to except the comic book voices in his head telling him to fight back and stand up for himself. Eventually, Harlon does but sadly not in a productive way.

While McCann and writer Anthony Di Pietro go out of their way to show the influences and build-up to Harlon’s transformation from meek child to troubled youth, the transformation itself is handled rather sloppily. There are turning points and ongoing arcs in his story, but Harlon begins the film in one state and ends in a completely different with only a few pit stops along the way, nothing to note such a marked change.

Maybe that is intentional; maybe that is life. It feels however that the film skips a few beats in solidifying that journey only for it to spring up whenever needed.

Technically however, this is a sound film with excellent direction (not so much editing) by McCann as he solicits good performances from Krause especially through his different phases. Also noteworthy is Ryan Lee’s Steve who isn’t in the film much but factors in greatly for Harlon.

As the ending draws near and all the pieces are laid, you wonder if things will play out the way they look to. And for all intents and purposes they do as Harlon finally breaks. A weirdly ambiguous ending though (complete with dialogue from the titular beast, not unlike one Donnie Darko) almost undercuts the gut punch of the finale but I’ll let that slide.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Comic Fandom Goes Amuck

If you weren’t aware, there is a new Fantastic Four film coming out this summer. By all accounts (and certainly by previous output), it will suck. But it will not be because of race.

Michael B. Jordan plays the Human Torch (aka The Flamer) in the newest adaptation of Marvel’s iconic comic series that so far has registered a big fat zero on the interest scale of Puck’s movie watching. This one was really no different, not for race or changing of the villain to a blogger or anything of that nature, but because I don’t really care.

Some people really do care though.

In case you have never seen Chronicle, Jordan is black. The Human Torch in his comic form is white. This has apparently caused much consternation for people.

On one hand no doubt, you have comic book purists who would would rather flamboyantly set themselves on fire than have any deviation from their precious source material. They are idiots and lonely and have nothing to hang to other than seeing big screen adventures of small scale comics to their expectations, everyone else be damned.

On the other hand though, you have racists. And racists suck.

Jordan has seemed to take the criticism in stride much to his benefit. Because for either of these groups there is nothing to satisfy their supremely important need to have a role in a film filled by an actor of a particular color. And Jordan has the right idea.

Screw them.

We are knee-deep in comic-book adaptions at this point that bring big box office but also bring much to do about a dropped story line or lack of characterization or whatever the case may be. If Quicksilver or the Scarlet Witch don’t have enough screen-time, someone is upset. If Batman acts out of character, it’s not genuine and it should be thrown on the fire like that damn Catwoman movie from yore.

Unlike original ideas with no preconceived notions, adaptations have those notions loaded on by the truckload for “fans” to complain about when their expectations aren’t met.

But Jordan is a black actor. He is playing a role that was previously (in print and film) played by a caucasian which for some reason automatically disregards anything new and fresh that might be brought to the role and this lackluster franchise to begin with.

Fandom is interesting. But it can also be damaging, hurtful, and just plain stupid. Let me be clear. I believe the new Fantastic Four movie will be lousy because that property does not seem to translate well to cinema. Will it be because of Jordan? From what I’ve seen, not at all.

But regardless, I implore to anyone who is a fervent fan of Fantastic Four, don’t blame your series shortcomings on one actor you happened to pick out.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Theater Scum: The Ghosts of Tomorrow

One’s a low-cost remake of an 80s classic while the other’s a big-budget original tale. Who will win?


Having only skimmed advance reviews, I still have little idea what Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland is about save for George Clooney being a curmudgeon and a magical pin that transports Britt Robertson to the titular place. Of that skimming though, I took away that Bird may have been better off taking over the Star Wars Franchise.

Verdict: Live Another Day


Some might say this is an unnecessary remake (and they’re probably right), but the fact is that kids born prior to the 90s aren’t scared by static on TV anymore than they know what a stinkin’ CRT TV looks like. Some of the scenes shown thus far look good but the whole affair seems to hem quite closely to the original (and still very effective original).

Verdict: Just another reel on the cinematic Indian burial ground of needless remakes.

George Romero Brings More Zombies to TV

The only film director more past his prime than Kevin Smith, George Romero, will have his groaning, shuffling corpse of relevance displayed on weekly TV.

Romero, fresh off the disappointments of his last several zombie movies, apparently turned to Marvel to create ‘Empire of the Dead,’ a story which features humans, zombies, and vampires for some reason all vying for control or social issues or some nonsense. And according to Variety, it will be joining the growing party of the undead on weekly broadcast.

No word yet on how much it will suck.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

'Transformers' Cinematic Universe Officially a Thing; Has Writers

In spite of the rumor* that all the Transformers films thus far have been impromptu sketches from the mind of Michael Bay, there actually were credited writers on each and every one. Now their are more writers who get the renowned prestige of listing Transformers on their resume.

Variety reports that the threatened Transformers spin-offs and sequels have found writers ranging from The Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman to at least four other action writers not currently attached to scribe a Marvel film.

Perhaps it is best that Paramount is going this thoroughly asinine way of expanding the Transformers universe to finally fulfill either the prophecy of End of Times or a public saturation of robot-based racial and testicle jokes. One of the two has to be the result.

*I made up this rumor. But it tracks.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Theater Scum: The Pitch is Mad

One for the kids ... one for the slightly more grown kids.

Pitch Perfect 2

When 2012’s Pitch Perfect opened, it was a modest hit but with tremendous staying power thanks in no part to that damn Cups song. But now Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson are back in a ‘Bring It On’ style dance off after being booted from their competition. Will they succeed? Will Rebel Wilson steal the show again? Will there be another damn song that somehow is still popular a year after the movie premieres?

Verdict: Please no more Cups!

Mad Max: Fury Road

We’ve already covered this one before but guns! Explosions! Tom Hardy! George Miller returning to his roots after some questionable directorial affairs like Babe and Happy Feet!

Verdict: It’s Tom Hardy! Of course it’ll be badass.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What Else From the 90's Can Be Remade?

According to Comingsoon.net, the Fairuza Balk & Neve Campbell scorcher The Craft is next on the reboot chopping block. Add in a remake of She’s All That, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and a TV revival of the series Scream, there seems to be little else to remake from just fifteen years ago.

And yet, still no word on a remake for Urban Legend. I wonder about the world sometimes.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

'28 Months Later' May Be Happening

In his interview with Indiewire, 28 Days Later writer Alex Garland may have come up with another sequel following the not-quite-zombie exodus from England to the rest of Europe.

“In that conversation, an idea for ‘28 Months’ arrived. I had a sort of weird idea that popped into my head. Partly because of a trip I’d taken. I had this thought, and I suggested it to Andrew [Macdonald] and Danny, but I also said I don’t want to work on it. I don’t really want to play a role, and Andrew said, ‘Leave it to me.’ So he’s gone off and is working on it.”

Considering the first film was a powerhouse of man versus nature-ish as well as emphasizing the brutality of human nature, the sequel, 28 Weeks Later which Garland was not directly involved in was a laugh-fest of poor decisions and questionable plot points.

Here’s to hoping the next one gets it right in the quasi-zombie and/or infected saga.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

'The Fugitive' Is Fleeing Once More

Not willing to let a 22-year-old sleeping dog lie, Warner Brothers is kicking up the old pooch for another installment of 1993’s The Fugitive. No word yet on any returning players including the incredible old duo of Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones according to Deadline.

Considering the original Fugitive started as a TV series back in the 60s, was turned into a film of the same title in ‘93, was followed by the forgettable U.S. Marshalls sequel in 1998, and then repurposed again into a TV show in the early 2000s, I suspect we’ll see another half-dozen sequels and TV adaptations before we all succumb to death by the one-armed man.

A Guide to Upcoming Summer Blockbusters: Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road: Opening May 15

The Good: Tom Hardy. Charlize Theron. Original director George Miller. Lots of car chases and explosions. The trailers look absolutely insane filled with completely over-the-top violence and grungy people.

The Bad: This is a reported straight sequel to the series started in 1979 and typically, franchises with long gaps in between films tend to not be too well regarded. Given that Mad Mel Gibson is way too old and way too crazy to reprise his role, it may or may not be a good thing that Hardy is taking over. But then again, Ol’ Mel spouting anti-semantic rants while chasing makeshift dune buggies could be an interesting watch.

The Prognostication: It’ll be crazy and action-packed. But other than the completely insane trailers and TV spots that have been released, would there really be much of an interest for a thirty-year-old series? We’ll see but I don’t expect it to trump Avengers in it’s third weekend.

Discussion: What’s One Movie That Everyone Has Seen?

Back before the rise of hundreds of cable channels catering to every niche, no matter how small or stupid, and instant video options that put dozens (DOZENS!) of top movies only a click away, it seemed that we all were, more or less, on the same page for our entertainment input.

Between the top TV shows which averaged more viewers than a few networks combined get now to the big box office films that were showed edited and punctuated with commercials, the world was a much simpler place.

This weekend, as I read an article from The AV Club which kindly name dropped #pbf’s favorite film, Weekend at Bernie’s, along with its wretched sequel, I began to wonder how pervasive were films twenty years ago compared to now. It feels like everyone over the age of 25 has seen Weekend at Bernie’s or Die Hard simply because they were played ad nauseum on HBO or NBC. But it doesn’t seem as easy for a film to have that penetration anymore with so many different entertainment venues. I even begrudgingly know people who still haven’t seen The Dark Knight!

I can’t think of another movie that has as much broad appeal as Jurassic Park. It has action, suspense, kid empowerment, and even Jeff Goldblum! Sprawling sci-fi films like Star Wars have a built-in detractor base and overly serious films like Schindler’s List are arguably not the best material for young kids to watch. Any better ideas?

*Everybody refers to people with taste. Not those who have elevated garbage attractions like Justin Bieber into the zeitgeist. Hence, under 20 year olds are disqualified.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies (So Far) Ranked

Iron Man 2 (2010)
Even with the addition of Sam Rockwell and the introduction of Black Widow, Iron Man 2 feels less like a complete film and more of just a teaser that just happens to star Robert Downey, Jr.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)
I swear I saw this film and for the life of me cannot remember anything plot-wise about it. I do know Idris Elba gets more to do and Rene Russo gets ... well less. Another filler movie in the MCU.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Granted, without the First Avenger, Captain America’s arc from a bullied kid from Brooklyn to the figurehead of the most powerful country of the world and his sacrifice means nothing. But this was still an odd movie, both in scope, in cannon with the rest of the films, and in the wonky plot structure.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Even though Edward Norton was recast for The Avengers, his Bruce Banner carried a low-lying intensity with a human touch that comes in handy when the Green Giant with purple shorts starts rampaging. Add in decent performances by Tim Roth and William Hurt, and this Hulk isn’t as worthless as it might be proposed.

Thor (2011)
Thor is a wonderful introduction to the beautiful world of Asgard and to the sibling-rivalry that will come to a head in Avengers. While the stakes aren’t too particularly high, it showcases a wonderful chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman and a good does of Marvel-brand humor. Add in my beloved Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins and you can almost ignore director Kenneth Branaugh’s weird dutch-angle shots.

Iron Man 3 (2013)
Iron Man 3 got a lot of crap when it premiered for many reasons: Tony is MIA for a good chunk of the movie, he spends his time with a scrappy young sidekick, the whole Mandarin debacle. But for writer/director Shane Black to step in to not only give us his Christmas motifs as well as taking a more psychological look at Tony after the events of The Avengers, it pays off nicely. For those pissed about Mandarin, so be it.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
While my full review is coming, I can both agree and disagree with all the salient criticisms of this film. While I did not feel it to be overly long, there are many plot points dropped although, too many cooks in the Avengers kitchen, and the over reliance on Stark’s arrogance to protect the world with little to no thought of the consequences. All in all, it is a fine film (admittedly not as good as the first for a plethora of reasons) but it does it’s job of showing superheros save the world effortlessly with much snark and banter between them.

Iron Man (2008)
Yes, this is the film that started it all. Prior to its release, I couldn’t tell you who Iron Man was or why he was so popular. But kudos to director Jon Favreau for creating a origin story that does not bore everyone to tears and single-handly set the tone for the rest of the MCU going forward, with the help no less from the excellently cast Downey, Jr.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
The Winter Soldier puts to rest the old argument that “comic book movies” are all the same as it merely features Captain America but also his disillusionment with S.H.I.E.L.D. and their way of doing business at whatever cost. It is less a superhero movie and more of a political conspiracy tale that just happens to star a 70 year-old man injected with super serum. Given that the Russo brothers, who directed this, have been tapped as the driving force between the MCU going forward, I feel in good hands.

The Avengers (2012)
I’ve already written plenty on The Avengers but needless to say, this is a blockbuster that (good or bad) has influence in just about everything else we have or will see coming up. For such a lengthy movie, all the right piece fit together to make it an excellent way to kill a couple of hours.

TV is the New Theater ... Or Something

Many have proclaimed this period to be the “golden age of television,” and with high-caliber, expertly done shows like The Good Wife, Game of Thrones, and Big Bang Theory, they may be right. But what does this upcoming season’s crop of new series show? Rather than recycling ideas for movies, they are now being recycled for TV.

Case in point, by my count (and granted I might have missed a few), there are no fewer than four (4!) old movie properties re-purposed for weekly consumption by the masses. Let’s take a look at CBS’s upcoming show based on when Chris Tucker had a viable career.

Rush Hour -
“A stoic, by-the-book Hong Kong police officer is assigned to a case in Los Angeles where he’s forced to work with a cocky African-American LAPD officer who has no interest in a partner.” Stars Justin Hires, Jon Foo,Aimee Garcia and Wendie Malick.
Sign me up for more fish-out-of-water shenanigans with a clueless foreign detective and a loud-mouth know-it-all. I give it a 13 episode run with at least 6 of those burned off.

Uncle Buck -
Uncle Buck (Mike Epps) is a fun loving but irresponsible guy who needs a job and a place to stay. By happy coincidence, his nieces and nephew’s Nanny has just quit and his brother and sister-in-law need his help. His unconventional personality just may make him the right fit for the family and they may be the answer to his problems, too.
Let us remember that Mike Epps was the two-bit replacement for Chris Tucker in the Friday sequels. Let us also remember that this series was produced without the approval from John Hughes’ estate. Will the racial dynamics really make that much of a difference or will this be another series about a man-boy who barely manages to not kill children by negligent homicide. Let’s call this one a mid-season one and done.

Limitless -
“A drama based on the 2011 feature. The series follows Brian Finch as he discovers the power of the mysterious drug NZT, and is coerced into using his newfound drug-enhanced abilities to solve weekly cases for the FBI.” Stars Jake McDorman, Jennifer Carpenter, Hill Harper and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.
A TV show based on a Bradley Cooper movie. That is also a procedural. And it will be airing on CBS. I call a full season pickup for this one.

Minority Report -
Minority Report is based on the Steven Spielberg film of the same name, which starred Tom Cruise. Envisioned as a continuation of that film’s storyline, the series — which counts Spielberg among the executive producers — picks up ten years, “after the end of Precrime in DC when one of the three Precogs (Stark Sands) struggles to lead a normal human life, but remains haunted by visions the future, when he meets a detective haunted by her past (Meagan Good) who just may help him find a purpose to his gift.” Max Borenstein (Godzilla) wrote the pilot.
Yawn. Isn’t this just Person of Interest with a different title? (Note, I have not seen Minority Report or Person of Interest). A predict a half-season before the pre-cogs take it out.

In fact, when was the last time a successful live action TV show was based on a movie? I’ll give you Fargo and my beloved Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles but aside from that, this course of action seems doomed to fail.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Random Movie: Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

If my contention is correct in that the original Horrible Bosses will stand the comedic test of time much like Office Space or the original Vacation, Horrible Bosses 2 will fall to the wayside as a film that tries too hard to recreate the original with a lot more stuff that falls flat.

Our heroic trio of Nick, Kurt, and Dale are back together after the shenanigans of the last film but have set out to become their own bosses with an invention that is so convoluted that it must be a best-seller in airline malls and TV infomercials. Their ‘Shower Buddy’ quickly catches the attention of Bert and Rex Hansen, proprietors of a mega mail-order catalog who set them up for a large order with the backing of a generous bank to fund their enterprise. Unsurprisingly, Bert (the wonderfully sociopathic Christoph Waltz) pulls the order at the last minute, leaving our trio pissed off and scrambling to save their fledgling business.

Yes, Bert and Rex are the titular horrible bosses this time around. But instead of deciding to murder them, the gang decides to kidnap the son, Rex, and hold him for ransom for the money it will take to save the company. Given that the three leads couldn’t pull off a relatively simple act as murder the last time around, I’ll let you guess as to how the kidnapping plan goes. (SPOILER ALERT: It goes horribly).

The main attraction of the first film was the dynamic relationship between Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis, and Charlie Day and that extends here as well. But while the first film had a pretty straightforward through-line from plan to execution, a lot of Horrible Bosses 2 is just the three thrown into wacky and wildly drawn-out sequences of bickering and incompetence. The fellows even admit early in the film that murder wasn’t their bag but kidnapping is totally within their comfort wheelhouse. Supposedly.

While the core cast still has a solid chemistry and the new arrivals of Chris Pine and Waltz add some much needed differentiation, Horrible Bosses 2 is a mere carbon copy of the first with the added bonus (?) of more of them dicking around and busting each others balls with no real point otherwise. Unlike before, scenes are extended painfully long with little added to the actual narrative.

Granted, some of these scenes are actually funny, especially with Bateman becoming exasperated at the other two for using his name over the radio in a covert operation but these moments do little to serve the story, only delaying the story we know is coming given the players involved. Of course, much was made of the fact that the previous horrible bosses in Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey would be returning (poor Colin Farrell since he could have livened things up a bit) but they ultimately don’t add much to the story.

Unsurprisingly, things work out in the end for the gang (more or less) while the bosses get their comeuppance but the journey there is certainly not fulfilling since we could see it coming anyways and the horrible bosses seemed more of an after thought this time around, put on the backburner by how many sexual explicit or gross-out jokes can be made this time around.