VOD Review: What We Do in the Shadows

29 05 2015

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Mad Max: Fury Road – Actions Speak Louder Than Exposition

26 05 2015

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Speaking of….

9 05 2015

Speaking of…

 

Brief Thoughts on Pop Culture

05/07/15

 

Everyone and their mother is in Captain America: Civil War….


  

 

So Martin Freeman (possibly playing S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Everett Ross, liaison to Wakanda) and Emily Van Camp (blink and you’ll miss her as Sharon Carter in Winter Soldier) have joined the cast list of Captain America: Civil War, which at this point may as well be called Avengers 3.  The cast list now looks something like this:

Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Cap), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow/Natasha), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Don Cheadle (War Machine), Daniel Bruhl (Baron Zemo), Paul Bettany (The Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Anthony Mackie (The Falcon), William Hurt (General Ross, not seen since The Incredible Hulk with Ed Norton), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Frank Grillo (Crossbones), Sebastian Stan (Bucky/Winter Soldier), Emily Van Camp (Sharon Carter/Agent 13 and Peggy Carter’s niece), Martin Freeman (Everett Ross) and whoever they cast as Spider-Man.  I’m exhausted just typing that list out, and it worries me.  Maybe Civil War should have been a mini-series or Netflix series, because Ultron was overstuffed as it is, and Cap 3, if I’m remembering correctly, has to deal with Registration/the Index, introducing Spider-man and Black Panther, dealing with the fallout of Age of Ultron, AND finishing up the Winter Soldier story to bring Bucky back into the fold, PLUS establishing a new team of Avengers.  Getting all of these characters and stories together sounds cool, but really doing service to a story seems to be taking a back seat to crossovers and set-ups.  I just hope Marvel hasn’t lost their way

 

Speaking of Marvel…


  

 

By now you’ve heard everyone talking about how Daredevil on Netflix is amazing.  What you aren’t hearing is that everyone is absolutely right.  It’s “dark” and “gritty” in the sense that it’s somewhat realistic, violent, and shadow-heavy. It’s also funny, as all Marvel stuff is lately, and the characters feel more real than anything else Marvel has put out.  Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock is a guy I can totally see not only beating up thugs after confession, but dude has enough charm to pull off Daredevil’s real superpower – getting more ass than a public toilet.  Granted, most of Matt’s girlfriends end up crazy (Typhoid Mary)or fridged (all of the others), but still, it’s nice they kept in the fact that Daredevil is a giant whore.  Even after having seen just a few episodes, I enjoyed those more than Age of Ultron.  I’ll even add to the clamor of hyperbole and say that Daredevil is to superhero shows what Breaking Bad was to dramas.  It’s just that damn well done.  More small, well-crafted, and sharply scripted projects about street-level heroes please, Marvel.

 

Maybe one about Moon Knight….


  

 

Speaking of Street Level “Heroes”….


  

 

AMC’s Preacher has cast the lead trio, with Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, Ruth Negga as Tulip O’Hare, and Joseph Gilgun as Proinsias Cassidy.  Don’t know much about Gilgun, since I missed Ripper Street and Misfits, but I’m sure I’ll get around to them eventually.  Cooper has been fantastic on Agent Carter as Tony Stark’s suave playboy dad Howard, and even more so in the so-trashy-and-lurid-it’s-amazing Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond.  I’d cast Cooper as the next Bond in a second, but he seems too refined, too classy for the educated, though thoroughly backwoods Jesse Custer.  And while Negga is great as Raina/Sonic the Hedgehog on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I don’t know that I see her as Tulip, especially after reading the sad character description: 

 Tulip is described by Deadline as “a volatile, action-packed, sexified force of nature, a capable, unrepentant criminal with a love of fashion and ability to construct helicopter-downing bazookas out of coffee cans and corn shine who’s not afraid to steal, kill or corn cob-stab her way out of a bad situation.” 

That only sounds vaguely like Tulip O’Hare, but I like Goldberg and Rogen so I’m willing to give it a shot.

 

Speaking of Shots….

 

  

That last shot on Gotham’s finale really pissed me off, especially after being on the “Next Time” previews for the LAST TWO EPISODES.  DEAR MOVIE AND TV MARKETERS PLEASE STOP DOING STUPID SHIT LIKE THIS.  Gotham’s inaugural season was pretty hit or miss, though it was strong enough that I’m planning on sticking with it.  Penguin is the whole show, but I’m really curious how they show Riddler’s rise and possibly start delving into the weird shit that seems to be Gotham’s strong suit:  bleak camp.  Oh, and more Jim Gordon yelling at people please, Ben Mackenzie’s great at playing righteously pissed off.  But the secret behind the fireplace was complete bullshit.  I guess next year will be the mystery of how Thomas Wayne was the original Batman?

 

Speaking of MYSTeries…. 

  

Reportedly a Myst TV series is coming to Hulu.  I will assume it won’t be all shot in first-person.  It’s from Matt Tolmach, who produced The Amazing Spider-Man movies (that I have no desire to see, despite Emma Stone being adorable).  I can’t imagine this leading to anything worthwhile.  Just go to GoG.com and buy the original point and click adventure game.  It’ll be more rewarding.

 

Finally, Speaking of FTW….


 

  

A few days ago I mentioned Jason Voorhees showing up in the new Mortal Kombat.  Well, he’s available now, and he’s pretty damned awesome.  His fatalities feel a bit more toned-down than the over-the-top, torture porn level of violence and sadism displayed by the other characters, but he feels brutal and unstoppable, as he should be.  Now if they’d just make a Friday the 13th movie that can live up to Jason X (I’m totally serious about that, it’s the best, purest Jason movie of all of them).





Age of Ultron was boring, and I blame TV (Spoilers for EVERYTHING)

4 05 2015

 

 

  

Going into Avengers: Age of Ultron, I was more pumped for a movie than I have been in a while.  The trailers made it look like everything I wanted out of an Avengers sequel, hell even the ominous theme music got my blood going.  But as I sat in the theater for two hours and forty minutes, this slow feeling of…emptiness crept over me.  I was enjoying myself, and there was plenty in the film to like, but by the time the movie was over, I walked out feeling unsatisfied. And I knew exactly why. Two things occurred to me that do not bode well for the superhero film genre going forward. 

                Number one: I can see this kind of thing done better every week and not shell out $12 a ticket.  When Marvel debuted Iron Man, and ended it on the whole “Avengers Initiative” note (their first end credits stinger!) there was palpable excitement in the air.  No one had ever done a “shared cinematic universe”, much less with a property with as much nerd potential as Marvel Comics.  There was no Arrow, no Flash, no Gotham, no Agent Carter, and most importantly, no Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.(here on out for brevity’s sake referred to as “AoS”).  And while it’s true that TV still has yet to match films on the scale of an Avengers or Man of Steel, it gets closer every week,


  

 (especially in Man of Steel’s case, because that movie was garbage, and worse than Superman Returns (yeah, I said it)).


  While Gotham or AoS may not have the star power or the money for really convincing special effects, they have something that Age of Ultron was lacking – time.  Television shows have twelve to twenty-four episodes to build a world, characters, motivations and relationships, and build those to a climax over a longer period of time.  Age of Ultron had to introduce and explain Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, Ultron, and the Vision, along with providing character arcs for each of its returning characters. 


 

This shit gives me a headache. And I’m a fan.

Oh, and it had to set up the plots of Black Panther (Andy Serkis’s Klaw, Vibranium, Wakanda), Captain America 3: Civil War (Tony vs Steve, “enhanced” vs regular people), Thor 3: Ragnarok (Everyone in Asgard is dead and Thor is losing his shit), Avengers: Infinity War Parts 1 & 2 (Thanos, Infinity Gems, new, untested Avengers team), and the next season of AoS (which I’m assuming will be one big lead up to Civil War).  In under three hours.  And while it performed admirably, a lot of the new characters suffered for having less time to grow.  Thor just kind of was there, and his flashback/nightmare told me that he was only there to remind us to go see Thor 3, otherwise his role in the film could have been done by just about anyone.  Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were interesting, but I never really felt they went anywhere.  I guess what this wall of text’s point is that TV can do serial stories and “shared universes (I throw up in my mouth now a little every time I am forced to type that)” much better than movies because they have time to build an interesting world and characters you give a shit about.

  

 (except Barbara on Gotham.  No one cares about her, or anything that happens to her character, especially the writers)

  And right now there’s a golden age of superhero shows, with AoS, Agent Carter, and The Flash standing out as the best of the bunch.  Huh, look at that, two Marvel shows that I give more of a shit about than the Avengers sequel, because they are (mostly) well-written, (mostly) well-acted, and can take the time to give us interesting villains, like Calvin Zabo or my God, have you seen Tom Cavanaugh’s Reverse-Flash?  One of the most compelling performances on TV, even when he’s in full scenery-chewing mode, and most people have never seen it.


                Point number two: The standard “superhero” genre film is dead.  I had thought Marvel had figured this out, and that’s why we got a 70’s political thriller called Captain America: Winter Soldier, a goofy space opera called Guardians of the Galaxy, and a Shane Black Christmas action movie a la Lethal Weapon called Iron Man 3.  But Age of Ultron is almost a step back in this department, doggedly hewing to the old “Supervillain creates doomsday weapon to wipe out humanity” trope without really doing anything new with it.  There were no personal stakes for any of the characters, or at least no stakes that they seemed to care about.  Ultron’s whole motivation was vague and unclear.  To use my two earlier samples as contrast:  In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Kyle Maclachlan plays Calvin Zabo, also known as Mister Hyde in the comics.  His big plan?  Reunite with his family, whom he blames (and kind of rightly so) S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA for losing years ago.  He’s a rage monster, and he does awful things, but he at least has a compelling and believable reason for doing so. 

 

  We have enough time with the series so that we can see  Zabo run through a range of emotions, and since it’s Kyle Maclachlan, you can’t help but like the guy, even as he tries to kill our heroes.  

Over on The Flash (yes I’m going to gush over it some more, get used to it), the big bad of the season has been hanging out and cracking jokes with Team Flash.  He (Thawne/Wells/Reverse-Flash) has been busy changing the course of his own world’s history so he can not only get back home, but also kill the Flash.  However, he realized that the only way to get home was to create the very hero that he came back in time to kill.  Wells even muses on the irony of his situation.  It’s a fantastic dilemma, and a fascinating thing to see Tom Cavanaugh play around with, ginning smugly and punning it up.  

  

I STILL want a 15 season prequel starring this man and his amazing smug face. 

So what’s Ultron’s motivation?  Uh, he watched all of Youtube, and decided humanity needed to die because we aren’t…I don’t know.  Wasn’t really clear, even with a great but ultimately wasted performance by James Spader.  Ultron mentions that everyone creates the thing they fear most, and it’s an interesting theme that goes absolutely nowhere.  The rest of the world outside of the U.S. seems to hate The Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D., and that’s interesting and believable.  Too bad you just get the vaguest idea of that concept before it’s dropped for witty banter and meaningless punching.  I’d have rather swapped out the Hulk/Iron Man battle for a quiet scene of Ultron, Tony, and Bruce having a chat, talking about their motivations, trying to come to an agreement.  SOMETHING other than dudes and chicks punching a cartoon monster bent on destroying the world for no real reason, which pretty much sums up the movie (also sums up Green Lantern, which is not good company to be in).  I thought Amazing Spider-man 2 proved to studios that the superhero film as a genre was over with, but sadly it appears I was wrong. 

So as an entry in the ongoing “MCU”, Avengers: Age of Ultron is okay.  But you can also wait for the DVD/Blu-Ray, which will apparently have a THREE HOUR AND FORTY MINUTE CUT OF THE DAMN MOVIE.  If anything, it will improve the film’s biggest flaw, which is that it feels rushed, overstuffed, and the emotional beats feel unearned.  Hopefully all of that narrative connective tissue that the movie was lacking will be there.  But if not, you can always turn on the TV and see something better anyways. 

 

 It’s a B-Squad JLA, and it’s free. 





The A-Team Review

1 07 2010

After a lengthy sabbatical, a remake of all things 80’s recharges my batteries.

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Iron Man 2 Review

17 05 2010

The haters can suck it. Iron Man 2 is better than the first film, with a tight script, actors at the top of their game, and a sense of humor and fun that too many superhero movies are beginning to lose touch with.

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Kick-Ass Review

25 04 2010

The movie Roger Ebert calls “morally reprehensible” makes me smile.

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