Film Review: The Scorpion King (2002)

Release Date: April 15th, 2002 (Netherlands – Fantastic Film Festival)
Directed by: Chuck Russell
Written by: Stephen Sommers, William Osborne, David Hayter, Jonathan Hales
Music by: John Debney
Cast: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu, Bernard Hill, Grant Heslov, Peter Facinelli, Michael Clarke Duncan, Tyler Mane (uncredited)

BT Film, Alphaville Films, Universal Pictures, 92 Minutes

Review:

“Let me tell you, after a hard day of looting and pillaging, there is no greater city than Gomorrah… except maybe Sodom.” – Arpid

This was the first ’90s Mummy-related movie that I didn’t see in theaters and that’s mainly because it just didn’t interest me, even though I love The Rock and I love sword and sorcery flicks.

I was just turned off from how bad the Scorpion King character was presented at the end of The Mummy Returns and the trailers for this looked terrible.

Visually, I thought that this looked more like a TV production that had more in common with The Beastmaster TV show than something epic and cool like 1982’s Conan the Barbarian or the original and awesome Beastmaster movie.

I wasn’t wrong, as the finished product does feel like a television level production and that’s just one problem with it.

Beyond that, the story is cookie cutter shit. You never care about any of the characters or their situations in the film and that’s kind of an amazing feat, as Dawyne “The Rock” Johnson is one of the most charismatic people on the entire f’n planet. But somehow, this made him come off as boring and uninteresting.

I also never liked Steven Brand as the villain, as he just didn’t look like a guy that could remotely be a threat to The Rock. In the movie, his character is smaller and he’s just a dude that’s really good with swords.

I truly wish that this would’ve been The Rock’s Conan and that we’d get sword and sorcery movies with him in it every few years. However, this is a dud in every way.

But hey, at least it was better than that third Mummy movie.

Rating: 4.5/10

Comic Review: Thor: The Deviants Saga

Published: July 25th, 2012
Written by: Robert Rodi
Art by: Stephen Segovia

Marvel Comics, 114 Pages

Review:

I missed this back when it came out but I looked forward to reading it, as I loved the original Thor and Eternals mega-event from the ’70s and because this came out on the heels of a great Thor run by J. Michael Straczynski (reviewed here).

However, I was pretty underwhelmed by this and even though it featured a pretty cool battle or two, the story had really disjointed pacing.

Sometimes this dragged and then sometimes it felt rushed.

It’s not a bad story and I did enjoy it for the most part but it also seems pretty forgettable and lacks the impact that previous Thor/Eternals stories have had.

This also features Ka-Zar, which was cool, as I enjoy that character, but it just seemed like a glorified cameo the writer wanted to work in.

The art in this is really good and it represents a time when Marvel was still giving work to the best artists out there. Tonally, it felt like everything else that branched out of the Straczynski run.

All in all, if you’re actually an Eternals fan, this isn’t a bad read and considering there isn’t a lot of Eternals material, compared to other Marvel heroes and teams, I guess you take what you can. Although, the important Eternals don’t even show up until the end.

Rating: 6/10

Film Review: Kamen Rider: The Next (2007)

Also known as: Masked Rider: The Next (alternative English title)
Release Date: October 27th, 2007
Directed by: Ryuta Tasaki
Written by: Toshiki Inoue
Based on: Kamen Rider and Kamen Rider V3 by Shotaro Ishinomori
Music by: Goro Yasukawa
Cast: Masaya Kikawada, Hassei Takano, Kazuki Kato, Miku Ishida, Erika Mori, Tomorowo Taguchi, Goro Naya

Toei, 93 Minutes

Review:

As I stated in my review of the previous Kamen Rider film, I remembered liking this one a bit better. Well, seeing it for the first time in a long while, that’s still true.

Really, this is kind of more of the same but it picks up the story where Kamen Rider: The First left off.

That film was a reboot (or retelling) of the original Kamen Rider TV series. This film was a sequel to that but also a reboot of the second TV series, Kamen Rider V3.

Like V3, this introduces the third Kamen Rider hero and also has him work alongside the previous two. However, there are some very stark creative differences between the original story and this version of it.

The main thing that these films do is that they increase the violence exponentially to appeal to a more adult audience. This one goes even further than its predecessor, which seemed like it was more a test run to see what they could get away with in what’s predominantly been a kid friendly franchise.

I loved the villains in this, specifically Scissors Jaguar. Man, what a sadistic asshole that guy was but for fans of this type of stuff, he was fun as hell to watch.

The special effects and fight choreography in this are pretty much the same as the previous movie but I found myself enjoying the action more.

Rating: 6.5/10

TV Review: Murder Among the Mormons (2021)

Original Run: March 3rd, 2021
Directed by: Jared Hess, Tyler Measom
Music by: Joel Goodman
Cast: various

BBC Studios, Netflix, 3 Episodes, 45-58 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Now that I’ve seen several of these Netflix true crime offerings, I’ve kind of figured out their groove really well. However, this one was pretty damn entertaining and the story went in really interesting directions when you start to learn about the criminal that murdered fellow Mormons with package bombs.

This is a story about a heinous, evil crime but it is also about a guy that was a master forger and this goes into detail about how he created many of his forgeries. I found that part of the documentary extremely cool and captivating.

The whole story and how this all happened is very layered and you never really know where the story is going and where the next curveball is being thrown.

As these things go, this is primarily comprised of old news clips and talking head interviews featuring many of the key people in the story. Most of these people were interesting and entertaining enough to keep you glued to the television.

Additionally, this is directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre, Gentlemen Broncos, etc.) and he provided the documentary with some really entertaining and amusing dramatization work.

I don’t want to spoil too many of the details but if you’re going to watch something true crime related on Netflix, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Rating: 8.5/10

Film Review: Private Resort (1985)

Release Date: May 3rd, 1985
Directed by: George Bowers
Written by: Alan Wenkus, Gordon Mitchell, Ken Segall
Music by: various
Cast: Rob Morrow, Johnny Depp, Emily Longstreth, Toni Azito, Dody Goodman, Leslie Easterbrook, Hector Elizondo, Andrew “Dice” Clay, Karyn O’Bryan, Michael Bowen

Delphi III Productions, TriStar Pictures, 82 Minutes

Review:

“Oh, thank you, Baba Rama Nana!” – Shirley

Private Resort is the final film in the Private trilogy, which is comprised of three unrelated sex comedy films. It’s also my favorite of the three, just beating out Private School. However, I haven’t seen Private Lessons since the ’90s and should probably revisit it again for a review and to compare to the other two films.

This is a dumb, goofy, ’80s comedy with lots of raunchy sex jokes and random boob shots. So basically, this is something I loved as a kid back when this sort of stuff was still acceptable.

Sure, things like this were never considered “high art” but people generally enjoyed them because we enjoyed life back then and we also used our entertainment as a means of escape from the problems that come from reality. Everyone needs a break and comedy used to be a great medicine for negative emotions. Boobies are also a great medicine for that but you’re not supposed to admit stuff like that anymore.

Anyway, this stars Rob Morrow, who would go on to be the lead in Northern Exposure, and Johnny Depp, just after he was in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street and before he blew up from his role on the original 21 Jump Street.

The film also features Andrew Dice Clay in one of my favorite roles he’s played, Leslie Easterbrook, Hector Elizondo and a young Michael Bowen.

The story follows two young guys showing up at a beach resort in an effort to get laid. While chasing girls, they draw the ire of the hotel security manager, a jewel thief, a total dick that works at the resort and a buff womanizer.

It feels like half the movie is just zany, slapstick chase scenes throughout the resort’s grounds but I’m fine with that, as a lot of the gags are still funny and they still make me laugh. Granted, I don’t know how well any of this would play for modern audiences that didn’t grow up with these kind of movies.

Overall, this is mindless fun and if you’ve read enough of my other reviews, you know that’s something I’m a fan of.

Rating: 6.25/10

Book Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the Sky Pirates’ by Martin Caidin

I got halfway through the ’90s Indiana Jones novels and decided to take a break. All of those were written by the same author, however, the final six are split between two authors. So I’m not sure if I’m just going to plow through all six or if I’ll take another break between the next author switch.

This one was… weird.

It doesn’t seem like the author really understands who Indiana Jones is. He’s an archeologist and explorer that more often than not finds himself in perilous situations with villains and evil armies usually hunting the same thing for nefarious reasons. He doesn’t ask the Nazis to show up but he’ll fight them long enough to get the MacGuffin away from their evil clutches.

In this book, Indy is written more like he’s James Bond. He is essentially recruited by world leaders to take down an evil international terrorist group called E.V.I.L. What?!

These villains have these airships that are pissing off the governments of the world. This also delves into discussion about aliens and ancient UFOs. Nothing really comes of that but sure, okay.

Keep in mind that the world governments all apparently know of Dr. Jones and that this story takes place before the plots of the movies.

Overall, this is just a strange fucking book that doesn’t even seem to care that much about the source material while overloading the reader with a bloated, convoluted mess that’s, at times, hard to follow.

Up to this point, this is the worst book of the lot. If the next one isn’t a massive improvement, I may take an even longer break from this series.

Rating: 4/10

Film Review: The Rescuers (1977)

Also known as: Bernard and Bianca (alternative title)
Release Date: June 19th, 1977 (Washington DC premiere)
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman, John Lounsbery, Art Stevens
Written by: Larry Clemmons, Vance Gerry, Ken Anderson, Frank Thomas, Burny Mattinson, Fred Lucky, Dick Sebast, David Michener, Ted Berman
Based on: The Rescuers and Miss Bianca by Margery Sharp
Music by: Artie Butler
Cast: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Joe Flynn, Geraldine Page

Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Productions, 78 Minutes

Review:

“Poor Evinrude. Your carburetor is all pooped out.” – Miss Bianca

The Rescuers was a movie I watched a hell of a lot as a kid. It came out before I was born but my uncle that had access to things gave me a copy, I think before it was even commercially available on VHS tape. I was young, details are murky.

Anyway, I guess this was immensely popular, even though I feel like it’s been forgotten today. In fact, Chip & Dale: Rescue Rangers originally started out as a Rescuers show. It was changed once The Rescuers were given a theatrical sequel film, being the first and only Disney animated feature of the old hand-drawn style to receive a theatrical sequel. There would end up being many sequels for various Disney films after that, however, except those were always straight-to-video.

Staying focused on this film, however, it still plays well and I think it’s aged tremendously and represents an era of Disney that is too often overlooked and underappreciated.

The Rescuers is also kind of a dark film, even if it is kid friendly. It deals with dark subject matter and a fairly realistic, truly evil woman as its villain.

However, most of the characters are cute animals, so that helps keep the movie from going too deeply into darkness.

I love the characters in this, though, specifically the mice Bernard and Miss Bianca. I think it also helps that they were voiced by the great Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor, who already had voicework experience from The Aristocats.

The story is about a kidnapped orphan, an evil woman obsessed with a mythical diamond and how these two mice are on the search for the little girl and ultimately, have to take down the villainess.

I really liked the setting of the film being the bayou. It gave it a very unique look and style and it also provided the right type of place for those two villainous alligators to thrive. I always loved the alligators as a kid but I also grew up on the edge of the Everglades, which isn’t too dissimilar from the bayou.

The Rescuers is still an entertaining movie and my second favorite of the ’70s Disney animated features after Robin Hood.

Rating: 8/10

TV Review: Stargirl (2020- )

Original Run: May 18th, 2020 – current
Created by: Geoff Johns
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: Courtney Whitmore by Geoff Johns, Lee Moder
Music by: Pinar Toprak
Cast: Brec Bassinger, Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Cameron Gellman, Trae Romano, Jake Austin Walker, Meg DeLacy, Neil Jackson, Christopher James Baker, Amy Smart, Luke Wilson, Hunter Sansone, Nick Tarabay

Berlanti Productions, Mad Ghost Productions, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television Studios, DC Universe, The CW, 26 Episodes (so far), 42-53 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

So this show starts off fantastically! The opening sequence is pretty damn incredible and really fucking cool! Branching off of that, this has some cool villains it throws at you from the get go and you’re immediately invested in the story.

Beyond that, the show is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, not really sure what it even is and not really able to find its footing before the end of the thirteen episode first season.

For the positives, I really like Luke Wilson in this and Amy Smart is pretty good too but she also doesn’t get to do much in the first season, which I hope changes somewhat going into seasons two and three. And while season two has already aired, it’s not on HBO Max yet, so I haven’t seen it.

The other adult actors are all pretty good in this too, even if they have to often times embrace the cheese in the way these Greg Berlanti DC Comics shows embrace the cheese.

I thought some of the villains were actually exceptional and legitimately awesome. I especially loved Dragon King, who looked like Cobra Commander if he were leading Hydra instead of Cobra. His costume was outstanding and he was intimidating, specifically in the scene where he has to knock his asshole daughter back down to Earth.

I also love the S.T.R.I.P.E. suit, which is basically a badass mecha that Luke Wilson pilots in battle. It resembles a patriotic Iron Giant.

Beyond all that comes the problems with the show.

The teen characters are all pretty annoying at times and Stargirl comes across as a reckless idiot until she learns some hard lessons. They all just seem one-dimensional and basic and that’s not necessarily a problem with the actors, as much as it’s a problem with the writing, directing and overall production.

Each teen is simply a trope or caricature. Now I hope that they get to build off of these basic templates but none of them get the time they need to really develop, except for Stargirl and to a certain extent, the villain teen Shiv.

The girl who plays Doctor Mid-Nite II is there to be the obvious “heart and soul” of the team, as she lacks powers and is just kind of stuck in the middle of all this. The problem is that she never really connects with the audience and she’s written to be annoying as hell, which wasn’t what they intended. I don’t blame the actress, I blame the lame material. In fact, she is somewhat charismatic and you kind of want her to develop into something but every time you start to dig her, she does something irritating.

The boy who plays Hourman II is also someone you kind of want to cheer for but then he acts like a total ass at the wrong moments.

Now maybe this is the writers trying to express these newfound heroes lack of experience in life and crimefighting but it’s just bad and there is a lot of awkwardness that doesn’t jive right.

Also, this takes place in Nebraska. The high school of this small town is incredibly diverse for a state that has 87 percent white people. Granted, I don’t care that much, as this is the norm in entertainment, but it’s just blatantly obvious Hollywood bullshit.

Additionally, Stargirl has never been a fighter but by the end of just thirteen episodes, she’s kicking the shit out of ninjas that have probably trained their whole lives. Also, Wildcat is basically a ninja but all she does is get angry and hit a punching bag. You never see her actually spar with opponents or have Catwoman-like reflexes and agility. It’s this type of shit that really turns me off about modern “nerd” entertainment. Where’s the struggle? The hero’s real journey?

At least this show allows its female hero to fail, pick herself up and learn from those mistakes, though. So that’s at least a step forward when compared to the brainless storytelling of modern Hollywood.

In the end, I mostly liked this. I want the show to be good. I feel like it’ll probably lean to much into its negatives, though, as just about everything else does these days.

If my opinion drastically changes one way or another after seeing season two, I’ll update this review and the score.

Rating: 6.25/10

Film Review: Mobile Suit Gundam – The Original Trilogy (1981-1982)

Release Date: Part I: March 14th, 1981; Part II: July 11th, 1981; Part III: March 13th, 1982
Directed by: Yoshiyuki Tomino
Written by: Yoshiyuki Tomino
Based on: Mobile Suit Gundam by Yoshiyuki Tomino
Music by: Joe Hisaishi, Takeo Watanabe, Yushi Matsuyama
Cast: Toru Furuya, Hirotaka Suzuoki, Toshio Furukawa, Kiyonobu Suzuki

Sotsu Agency, Sunrise, Kodansha, Nagoya Broadcasting Network, 139 Minutes (Part I), 133 Minutes (Part II), 144 Minutes (Part III)

Review:

“A mobile suit’s abilities don’t decide a battle’s outcome. I’ll teach you that!” – Char Aznable

Yes, I have watched anime my entire life. Yes, I have loved Robotech and other mecha-centric anime since I was about six years-old. No, I have never watched anything from the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise until now.

While I know that’s basically a crime in nerdom, it’s not that I didn’t want to watch Gundam, it’s just that there is so much of it that I found it overwhelming and didn’t know where to even start. But luckily, one of my hardcore Gundam homies said he’d walk me through it. Also, since a literal fuck ton of Gundam is now on Netflix, I figured there was no better time than the present to finally jump into this massive I.P.

So I started with the original theatrical trilogy of Gundam movies, which aren’t technically the first things released. Well, I guess they sort of are but let me explain.

The film trilogy was created using footage from the original anime series. Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino wanted to streamline it down, omit some of the stuff that didn’t matter as much and then re-edit everything into a three-part epic, telling the main story with the most important parts.

I think that Tomino succeeded, even though I can’t compare it to the original series, as I haven’t seen that yet. But I don’t know if I would consider the television series and all 43 episodes to be a masterpiece and pretty damn close to perfection. I consider this trilogy of films to be exactly that, though.

The lore to this series is so well defined and the introduction to the movies fill you in on it pretty quickly. Beyond the general framework and concept, though, the story and characters all evolve in really unique ways.

While war is the thing that hangs over everyone’s head, this greatly explores the characters’ places within that, as well as their relationships with one another. In many instances, this stuff gets pretty deep and it reminds me of the character development and exploration of relationships in Robotech but this surprisingly does it better and the pain of the characters cuts deeper. It’s a hard thing to quantify or explain, really, but you find yourself caring about these people, even the ones you wouldn’t expect at all, on a pretty profound level for an animated series/movie.

The relationships and the challenges that come with them is actually the main thing that makes me want to watch all of the 43 episodes that were whittled down into these three pictures.

As far as the fun stuff goes, which is the general action, the mecha suits and the big battles, this does all that exceptionally well. This has fast-paced, exciting action and it’s different than the other sci-fi anime properties before it. It just shifts into high gear in a way that anime hadn’t before this.

If you’re like I was, and love this sort of stuff but haven’t seen this yet, you really need to.

Rating: 10/10

Comic Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation – Hive

Published: March 27th, 2013
Written by: Brannon Braga, Terry Matalas
Art by: Joe Corroney
Based on: Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry

IDW Publishing, 105 Pages

Review:

This comic has been in my queue for awhile and that’s mainly due to me not being wowed by IDW Star Trek comics and because I’ve honestly lost interest in this franchise that I once loved because ever since the start of those J. J. Abrams films, over a decade ago now, shit’s just been going downhill.

That being said, this wasn’t bad but it wasn’t all that memorable or worthwhile either. It takes place in an alternate timeline, as everything Star Trek seems to do now, and despite trying its damnedest to be an over-the-top science fiction epic, it just falls flat.

Hive is about The Borg of all races needing help defeating an enemy even they can’t beat. In fact, they “fear” of their extinction and plea to the Federation to help them destroy an alien race from a different dimension. To me, the swerve and the trap were as clear as day from the get go.

Still, this was entertaining enough and it’s only 105 pages, which flew by like a breeze. I just never felt all that invested in it because it’s essentially an “Elseworlds tale” and the outcome doesn’t really matter or effect the franchise as a whole. And again, nothing in that franchise matters any more, as it’s all just bad fan fiction disguised as canon.

At least the art was good. 

Rating: 5.5/10