Film Review: Tower of London (1962)

Release Date: October 24th, 1962
Directed by: Roger Corman
Written by: Leo Gordon, F. Amos Powell, Robert E. Kent
Music by: Michael Anderson
Cast: Vincent Price, Michael Pate, Robert Brown, Charles Macaulay, Joan Freeman, Morris Ankrum

Edward Small Productions, United Artists, 79 Minutes

Review:

“[as a ghost, showing the whip lashes on her bare back to Richard of Gloucester] Wouldn’t you rather look at my back? Is it not attractive as a woman’s back should be?” – Mistress Shore

Growing up a big fan of Vincent Price, Tower of London wasn’t really a favorite film of mine. Although, I have to say that I kind of enjoy it now.

Sure, it wasn’t as colorful and energetic as his other pictures with director, Roger Corman. However, it is well acted and showcases Vincent Price as a real bastard with a certain charisma. He takes this completely evil character and gives him life in a way that is unique, entertaining and chilling.

No, you never like Price’s Richard III but that doesn’t matter, as you’re not supposed to. He’s just a hell of a villain played by a hell of an actor and once he gets his just desserts, it’s damn satisfying.

Like all Corman pictures, this was made quickly and on the cheap. But also like many Corman pictures, the end results are much better than one should expect and that’s just a testament to the man’s skill and his brand of cinematic magic.

This is an often times unnerving story but it features ghosts, magic, murder, torture and a legitimate power hungry madman. What’s not to like?

I’m glad that I watched this for the first time in about twenty years, as my opinion on it has changed somewhat. 

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other Vincent Price films of the ’50s and ’60s, especially those with director Roger Corman.

Comic Review: Daredevil by Bendis and Maleev – Ultimate Collection, Book 2

Published: September 15th, 2010
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Alex Maleev

Marvel Comics, 461 Pages

Review:

This long stretch of Daredevil issues should’ve actually been better than the ones in the first volume, as shit got real dark, things were more action packed and this went to places I didn’t expect.

The reason why I can’t rate it as high as the previous one is because of the awful romantic subplot that actually sees Daredevil get married for a short time.

I hated this plot, the new love interest and thought that it detracted from a much better story about the shifting power in the New York City criminal structure and Daredevil dealing with that while also trying to work around the public knowing his identity.

The romance plot was just too much added into an already very layered and rich story. Plus, that stuff was poorly written and I don’t want to be that guy but I don’t think that Brian Michael Bendis understands romantic interaction above a college aged level.

That being said, Bendis’ writing is great outside of the romantic shit.

Also, I love Alex Maleev’s style and tone in regards to Bendis’ story. They come together rather nicely, even if it appears as if Maleev is tracing some characters and doing digital tricks. This was originally made at the turn of the millennium and artists were experimenting with a lot of new technology at the time. Frankly, I know he used Photoshop filters because I recognize them. Still, the end result works and I’m just a traditionalist that likes things done the old school way. This is why I also don’t like Pixar movies or that style of animation.

Out of all the different story arcs collected here, I think I like the one that features The Owl the best. I liked seeing him truly unhinged and trying to wedge himself into The Kingpin’s spot as crime boss. After that, I really loved the section with Typhoid Mary, as she’s one of my favorite Daredevil villains and doesn’t get enough love, in my opinion. She also looked great in this run, even if I still prefer her original look, as drawn by John Romita Jr. back in the late ’80s.

I love the hell out of Bendis’ run on this series and it truly rivals the great runs by Frank Miller and Ann Nocenti, who still takes the cake for me.

Remove the romantic, juvenile love shit in this story and this would’ve been a perfect Daredevil collection.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Daredevil comics from his Marvel Knights run.

Film Review: Coming 2 America (2021)

Also known as: Coming 2 America: Quest (working title), Coming to America 2 (informal title)
Release Date: March 5th, 2021
Directed by: Craig Brewer
Written by: Kenya Barris, Barry W. Blaustein, David Sheffield, Justin Kanew
Based on: characters by Eddie Murphy
Music by: Jermaine Stegall
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, KiKi Layne, Shari Headley, Teyana Taylor, Wesley Snipes, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Bella Murphy, Akiley Love, Paul Bates, Louie Anderson, Rotimi, Nomzamo Mbatha, Clint Smith, Rick Ross, Trevor Noah, Colin Jost, Morgan Freeman, En Vogue, Salt-N-Pepa, Gladys Knight, Dikembe Mutombo

Eddie Murphy Productions, Misher Films, New Republic Pictures, Amazon, 110 Minutes

Review:

“You must heed my words before I am gone, my son. Now, you will be king, but the throne must pass to a male heir. Akeem, it appears you have a son. He must be found.” – King Jaffe Joffer

Well, Coming 2 America has finally debuted on Amazon Prime Video, after delays and losing its theatrical release due to the ‘rona.

It’s pretty much what I expected, which was the film being an unnecessary sequel to a classic movie that couldn’t find a reason to justify its existence. But sure, there’s a part of me that really wanted this to be good even though pictures like this rarely are.

I will say that it wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be and in some regards, it exceeded my expectations. Not by much but I didn’t hate this and there were moments where I actually laughed out loud. However, as far as the jokes go, there are more misses than hits.

There are also some jokes that could potentially get this movie and its stars cancelled because everything is offensive now and comedy is dead. I found some of these jokes funny but when they make you more worried about the career of the actors saying them than generating laughs, we’re in a dark place as a society.

My biggest problem with this movie is that the story was really bad. In fact, the plot is terrible and kind of pointless by the end of the movie.

I guess the big positive is that it is kind of cool seeing these characters come back and it updates you on how their lives went after three decades. There’s also a part of me that did get wrapped up in the genuine love that these people have for one another, which is definitely real in how it transcends this mediocre film.

As hokey as the scenes between Eddie Murphy and James Earl Jones came across, as a fan of the original picture, it was kind of heartwarming. Murphy’s pep talk by John Amos towards the end of the film was also effective and I honestly wished these two greats would’ve worked together more over the years.

The plots with all the kids felt forced and got tiresome. Although, I did like them all. This part of the story was just a mess.

Two highlights for me, though, were Wesley Snipes and Tracy Morgan.

Snipes was just perfect in this and I love seeing the guy really ham it up, playing over the top characters. Every time the man came onscreen, it was hard not to pay attention. He owned this role and honestly, he steals every scene he’s in.

Tracy Morgan was simply Tracy Morgan from start-to-finish but that’s okay with me. The guy always makes me laugh and you can’t not love him.

I do, however, wish that Shari Headley had a few more scenes. I love her in the original and she has some of the best material in the script to work with, here, but she is Akeem’s Queen and I feel like she deserved to be more front and center than she was. Also, she’s still damn beautiful.

While the world didn’t really need this movie, it did at least make me smile and laugh a bit in a time where life’s been hard for most people. And, if anything, it reminded me that we need comedy, we need to laugh and we have to stop taking everything so damn seriously.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: it’s predecessor and Trading Places.

Film Review: Top Gun (1986)

Release Date: May 12th, 1986 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Tony Scott
Written by: Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr.
Based on: Top Guns by Ehud Yonay
Music by: Harold Faltermeyer
Cast: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt, Michael Ironside, John Stockwell, Barry Tubb, Rick Rossovich, Tim Robbins, Clarence Gilyard, Whip Hubley, James Tolkan, Meg Ryan, Adrian Pasdar

Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Paramount Pictures, 110 Minutes

Review:

“That was some of the best flying I’ve seen yet. Right up to the part where you got killed. You never, never leave your wing man.” – Jester

If you weren’t around when this movie originally came out, it might be hard to understand how much of an impact it had on pop culture. As a kid and a big fan of G.I. Joe and movies like Iron Eagle and Red Dawn, I thought it was cool as hell. The coolness was also maximized through the casting of Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, as well as the Kenny Loggins hit song “Danger Zone”.

Also, to my little mind, Maverick was about the coolest f’n name ever!

Anyway, I used to watch this a lot. It’s been years since I’ve seen it though but I wanted to get a fresh take on it before its long-awaited sequel comes out later this year, assuming it’s not delayed again.

While I actually don’t see this as a great film or have the crazy amount of love for it as many from my generation do, it’s still entertaining as hell and it’s really cool simply for the insane visuals of all the fighter jets just doing their thing. The aerial stunt work is f’n phenomenal! That being said, there just wasn’t anything like this when it came out and many have tried to replicate it with less success. Nowadays, they just opt out and go the CGI route but everything you see in this movie is real.

Apart from that, the story is just decent. It doesn’t really grab you or pull you in and it feels like its all just to set up the aerial parts of the movie. While I do like the characters, they also feel grossly underdeveloped. You spend all this time with them but it’s hard to connect to them. Sure, it’s tragic when Goose dies and you understand Maverick’s heartbreak but it doesn’t have as much impact and meaning had we seen these characters fleshed out more.

I think that the movie actually suffers from having a little too much of its best part: the aerial stunts. If that was trimmed down a bit or the film was a wee bit longer and just spent more time developing the core characters, it could’ve been something much better.

Still, it is a cool and energetic movie that’s well acted and superbly executed. And despite what I feel is a lack of character development, it does hit me in the feels when Iceman finally accepts Maverick at the end.

Also, I f’n love James Tolkan in everything.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other Tom Cruise movies of the ’80s.

Comic Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 16: Chasing Phantoms

Published: May 10th, 2017
Written by: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
Art by: Mateus Santolouco, Dave Wachter
Based on: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird

IDW Publishing, 127 Pages

Review:

While I like that the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book series is in new territory, by this point, and trying fresh things for the franchise, I also question whether or not it’s ran its course and is just running on fumes after the defeats of Shredder and Krang.

Don’t get me wrong, I like that it’s sort of changed its tone and there are new villains but it’s starting to feel a lot less like the traditional TMNT I grew up with and more like it’s trying to figure out where to go, charting new, unknown territory even for original creator Kevin Eastman.

Splinter being in charge of the Foot Clan just seems damn odd, even if he’s trying to make them a force for good. He’s still doing things that seem really out of character and the Turtles, his sons, recognize this. It’s been going on for a few volumes in this series now and I’m kind of waiting to see if there’s a real reason for it that will somehow make sense in a big, stunning reveal.

The series is just in a place of uncertainty in regards to where it’s going and the core characters’ lives and direction. I still like it, I’m still invested but something has to happen and soon.

The art is still on par with the previous volumes and as the series rolls on, it gets a wee bit better even with each chapter.

As I said, I’m still enjoying this, sixteen volumes deep, but I really feel like something big needs to go down much sooner, rather than later.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: the rest of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles run.

Film Review: The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)

Release Date: August 22nd, 1987 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Rod Amateau
Written by: Rod Amateau, Melinda Palmer
Based on: Garbage Pail Kids by John Pound, Topps
Music by: Michael Lloyd
Cast: Anthony Newley, Mackenzie Astin, Katie Barberi, Phil Fondacaro, Debbie Lee Carrington, Leo Gordon

Topps Chewing Gum Company, Atlantic Entertainment Group, 100 Minutes

Review:

“You wanna see a dog wanking off into a garbage pail?” – Girl #2

While I know this film’s awful reputation, I did enjoy the hell out of it when I was a little kid. I haven’t seen it since way back then and I’ve always wanted to revisit it to see how bad it truly is. However, it never streams anywhere so I had to finally just track a DVD copy down. Luckily it was like four bucks.

So, yeah, this is a terrible movie in just about every regard. Although, I do like the practical effects, even if the Garbage Pail Kids characters look hokey, clunky and not at all real. I’m honestly fine with it considering the limitations of the time, this film’s small budget and because it’s definitely not the worst flaw this film has.

Plus, most of the costumed actors were good in these roles and the voice work was decent. I also liked most of the characters used for the film and they’re supposed to gross you out and they effectively do. So mission accomplished in that regard.

The only really known actor in the movie is Mackenzie Astin and you probably only really know him if you’re a fan of the ’80s sitcom The Facts of Life and watched the last few seasons of it. I liked him on that show and in this. Seeing this now, though, he’s better than most kid actors and he did fine even though the movie and its script were very subpar.

There’s not a whole lot to say about this other than it fails in every way outside of the two positives I already mentioned.

The other actors are a mixed bag but most of the performances are pretty bad. The film looks like shit and it just comes off as incredibly cheap and slapped together. Hell, the sequence where the Garbage Pail Kids are basically in a prison for ugly people is so damn cheap and ridiculous.

Although, I really liked the idea of a prison for ugly people and thought that could’ve been a cool concept and a more solid gag had they explored it a bit more. Plus, Leo Gordon, a legendary character actor, pops up in this sequence as a prison guard.

All in all, yes, this is shit. It’s enjoyable shit if you’ve got the stomach for it and feel nostalgic for the source material but I wouldn’t force anyone to watch it.

Rating: 2.5/10
Pairs well with: other really bad, ’80s “kids” movies like Mac & MeMunchies, etc.

Documentary Review: Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade (2007)

Release Date: January 22nd, 2007 (Sundance)
Directed by: Lincoln Ruchti
Cast: various

Men At Work Pictures LLC, 90 Minutes

Review:

After revisiting The King of Kong for the first time in years, I wanted to also revisit this, as it’s a very similar documentary that came out just before that more famous one.

While this isn’t the near masterpiece that The King of Kong is, it ties directly to it and its story and frankly, this plays like a prelude or a setup to that movie.

This goes through the history of arcade gaming and also covers the legends that rose up in the early days, their records, their effect on pop culture, as well as the creation of Twin Galaxies, the organization that records and maintains world records in arcade gaming. I believe they also keep records for console and PC gaming but it’s the arcade side of things that inspired them to exist in the first place.

There is a lot in this documentary about Billy Mitchell, who was pretty much the villain in The King of Kong story. It also features nearly all of the key people and legends that played a part in that film.

While this isn’t as good as The King of Kong it does feel like a necessary companion piece to it, allowing the viewer to have a deeper, richer experience in getting to know these people and their interesting, competitive and sometimes cutthroat subculture.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: The King of Kong, which this truly plays as a preface to.