TV Review: Elvira’s 40th Anniversary, Very Scary, Very Special, Special. Especially For You! (2021)

Original Run: September 25th, 2021
Created by: Scott D. Marcus
Directed by: Jim Kunz
Written by: Eric Kornfeld
Cast: Cassandra Peterson (as Elvira)

Shudder, 4 Episodes, 80-106 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

For Elvira’s 40th anniversary, she returned for a four episode special on Shudder.

Like the television series that first made her famous and all the other revivals of it, this features her hosting old school horror flicks.

I thought this was a perfect return to form for her and man, she hasn’t lost a step or missed a beat.

Elvira is as entertaining, hilarious and witty as ever and it’s just great seeing her in her element once again, as the woman is by far one of the greatest horror hosts of all-time and beyond that, she’s a national treasure. I mean, who the hell doesn’t love Elvira?

I also enjoyed the four films, even if some of them are far from great. But it’s these kind of movies that helped make her original show what it was and also added the right kind of fuel to her commentary.

My only negative with this special is that it should’ve been bigger. I would’ve loved a dozen or so episodes but I also know how much work goes into these things and honestly, Elvira can do whatever the hell she wants at this point. The fact that she is still game to do these things is a real treat.

Rating: 8/10

TV Review: Squid Game (2021)

Original Run: September 17th, 2021 (all episodes)
Created by: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Directed by: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Written by: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Music by: Jung Jae-il
Cast: Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Jung Ho-yeon, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, Kim Joo-ryoung, Lee Byung-hun

Siren Pictures Inc., Netflix, 9 Episodes, 32-63 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

I couldn’t avoid watching this any longer because of two reasons: the hype and because everyone was talking about it that if I didn’t watch it, the show would’ve been spoiled for me. So, this leapfrogged other shows I had in my queue first because I wanted to see it without it being ruined.

Overall, I did enjoy this but it didn’t blow me away. It’s become a mega-phenomenon almost instantaneously but I found it to be derivative of several things I’ve seen before. And I don’t mean that as a knock but those seeing this as a fresh concept, probably just haven’t watched enough movies.

Hell, in a lot of ways, this is Saw sequel with a much larger group, more appealing surroundings and a cash prize instead of just winning your right to continue living. Then again, that’s also exactly what the prize allows the winner to do, get a fresh chance at life with a new outlook, regardless of how fucked up the journey was.

There’s a big “twist” at the end too, where you discover who is behind this game and why they created it. None of it is all that shocking or surprising and if you’ve digested enough stories similar to this, you can arrive at these answers on your own. It’s honestly, lowest common denominator stuff and I was pretty disappointed in this reveal, as I had hoped the show would’ve thrown a legit curveball, knowing that many probably already thought that this was just a game to entertain the richest people, as the players are just disposable cattle or as the show puts it: race horses being gambled on for kicks.

All that being said, I still mostly enjoyed this because of the characters and their personal stories. Sure, I knew good people would do bad things and that terrible people would be the absolute worst. However, the show does make you care about these people and that’s really the only thing that holds it all together.

In the end, I hope that this stays a miniseries and that Netflix doesn’t try to convince the creator to make more. It’ll just go downhill from here and it’s always best to quit while you’re ahead. But c’mon, man… this is Hollywood. We’re definitely going to get more based off of how this show exploded in popularity, almost immediately.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: Jungle Cruise (2021)

Release Date: July 24th, 2021 (Anaheim premiere)
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by: Michael Green, Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, John Norville, Josh Goldstein
Based on: Walt Disney’s The Jungle Cruise
Music by: James Newton Howard
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramirez, Jack Whitehall, Jesse Plemons, Paul Giamatti, 

Davis Entertainment, Flynn Picture Company, Walt Disney Pictures, 127 Minutes

Review:

“Hey, McGregor! Had a girlfriend once, she was cross-eyed. Didn’t work out. We could never see eye to eye!” – Frank Wolff

I watched this on the same day as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. While that film didn’t do much for me, except help solidify the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is nowhere near the level of greatness it once was, this film actually ended up being a lot of fun and much more enjoyable.

This isn’t a great effort by Disney and in fact, this is basically a paint-by-numbers Disney adventure film. However, just as enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, albeit not as much as the original film, I also enjoyed this in the same sort of way.

Honestly, this has a lot in common with a Disney Pirates movie in that it has treasure hunting, fantastical villains, a well-paced, action-packed story and a lot of water… this time the world’s biggest river system instead of an ocean.

I also thought that Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt worked really well together and through their performances and their characters, you can kind of see an homage to Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen. However, Blunt’s character brings her brother along and it makes for a trio of heroes that also plays homage to the trio from The Mummy films with Brendan Fraser. Funnily enough, Dwayne Johnson was the villain in the second of those Mummy movies.

Anyway, out of everyone in this, I really, really loved Jesse Plemons role. The guy is one of the most talented actors of his generation and he has an exceptional range. The dude really can do anything. However, I believe that this is the first time I’ve seen him actually be comedic. He plays one of the film’s villains, a German prince that just happens to own a submarine that can traverse the Amazon River basin. He’s jovial, a bit psychotic and delivers his lines with an over-the-top German accent. There’s one scene where Plemons’ pronunciation of “jungle” creates a similar, hilarious scene akin to Steve Martin’s “hamburger” scene in his first Pink Panther movie.

Beyond the acting, some of the writing is cheesy as hell but a lot more jokes land in this film than they did in Disney’s Shang-Chi. Johnson’s skipper likes to use an extreme overabundance of puns while giving Amazon tours but the failure of the bad jokes are really the jokes themselves. However, some of the references didn’t make since as the film takes place during World War I and there is a pun about concentrated orange, which wasn’t invented till 1945, the final year of World War II. But then again, modern Disney writers don’t care much about research.

The film, as I’ve said, is action-packed and most of it is really good. This is a fantastical story with all sorts of supernatural characters and situations but almost all of the action was pretty grounded, all things considered. This wasn’t a total shitshow like Shang-Chi, where people without saddles or reins were riding dragons that flew and twisted at ridiculous speeds. When something crazy did happen here, there was a real reason for it and an explanation given, such as in the scene where Johnson falls to his death but miraculously survives, mostly unscathed.

I don’t know what the plans are going forward but I wouldn’t be opposed to a sequel. Granted, I’d rather see these characters go on an adventure to somewhere entirely different and I don’t know how you fit that into the Jungle Cruise concept. Unless, they use these characters and tie them to some other classic Disney ride.

Rating: 7.5/10

Film Review: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Also known as: Steamboat (working title)
Release Date: August 16th, 2021 (Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton
Written by: Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, Andrew Lanham
Based on: Marvel Comics
Music by: Joel P. West
Cast: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, Tony Leung, Tim Roth (voice, uncredited), Mark Ruffalo, Brie Larson

Fox Studios Australia, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, 132 Minutes

Review:

“I was hired to play a terrorist. And then turns out they were actually terrorists, the producer got blown up by Iron Man, and I was arrested!” – Trevor Slattery

So this is now the third Marvel movie that I haven’t seen in the theater following Captain Marvel and Black Widow. And like with those other two, I’m glad I didn’t waste money on this because it’s a so far below where the MCU was at its peak that it’s almost sad to see where it’s all going now.

To start, I thought Simu Liu was fine as the title character and I like Michelle Yeoh, Tony Leung and Ben Kingsley in pretty much everything but I’ve never seen someone suck the fucking air out of the room like awkward ass Awkwafina.

Christ, man… she’s the worst actress I’ve seen sine Rob Zombie’s wife. I also heard she’s a comedian but every joke this “Asian Jeff Gordon” threw at us, landed flatter than steamrolled pancake. She just wrecks nearly every scene she is in and she is in most of them. The fact that she sounds like an 82 year-old woman is also really distracting. But let me not just single her out because she’s not the only negative thing in this picture.

To start, I get that this story centers around China but the use of subtitles to open the film with all the fantastical backstory, wasn’t necessary. This is an American movie and Marvel shit is heavily geared towards kids. Five year-old Timmy ain’t reading that shit and no one in the theater wants to listen to his mom trying to audibly read it out loud to him and the dozen other kids. But Disney obviously did this to pander to China, who didn’t even want this movie because it was “offensive”, starred an “ugly” lead from their perspective, and was obvious pandering. It nearly wasn’t released but once it was, it didn’t do well there and Disney, as is becoming the norm lately, were left with egg on their face.

The film also suffers from trying way too hard to be cool. It starts with the shitty rap music used to introduce the main character, which just plays as a cheap attempt at old Disney execs trying to come off as hip. Then there is the friends hanging out in San Francisco sequence, which comes off as cringe CW teen drama bullshit. Then it just continues to try and double down on modern urban music over a traditional score… well, at least for the first half because the second half is almost a different movie altogether.

Getting back to pandering, the film tries to do it with the woke crowd but also fails in that regard. One thing that really sticks out is when Shang-Chi’s sister talks about how her dad wouldn’t let her train with the men, so she watched them and taught herself better. Then, in the next scene, she grabs her dad’s shoulder and gets taken down in one fucking move. It was embarrassing (see for yourself).

So then we meet Ben Kingsley, the fake Mandarin from Iron Man 3, and the second half of the movie starts, which goes from urban kung fu flick to fantastical, mythological kung fu flick. I like the second half better and thought that the film started to pull something worthwhile together before it decided to shit all over itself, again.

To get to fantasy China, though, they had to take an ancient passageway through a magical forest. However, they had to use a BMW, in what felt like a blatant advert, to move fast enough to “stay in the pocket” of trees opening a rapidly moving, little clearing. If they didn’t stay in the pocket, the trees would’ve apparently ate them. What’s really baffling about this and, as we’ve seen with The Rise of Skywalker, Disney doesn’t expect its audience to think about the details. But we’re not all as fucktarded as the “creatives” at Disney. If we were, we might not think that this is really stupid because BMWs didn’t exist in ancient China and horses wouldn’t have moved fast enough to “stay in the pocket”. But whatever, just watch the movie like a brainless consumer.

Once we get to fantasy China, we get lots of fancy CGI creatures that look cool but also make the film kind of overly fantastical and cartoony, after we just spent an hour watching a generic Iron Fist episode set in a realistic, urban atmosphere. It’s kind of jarring to the senses but it’s also where this story begins to find its own unique space within the larger MCU.

We meet Shang-Chi’s aunt, Awkwafina makes more bad jokes, Ben Kingsley is just there, and they all start training for the big showdown with Shang’s evil dad, who should’ve just been the real Mandarin operating in the shadows but he’s instead just a generic Asian crime lord with fancy bracelets called the “Ten Rings” but unlike the comic, aren’t actually rings, they’re bracelets.

Anyway, Shang-Chi’s official superhero costume looks like some club shirt he bought on Etsy for $65 that will fall apart after one rave. His sister’s outfit is about the same, and everything just sort of looks generic and like a Canadian television production.

The fight breaks out, it’s alright but eventually we get a big battle between two large ass dragons. So the movie has two dragons in it but neither of them are Fin Fang Foom?! Fuck you, Disney. Talk about a wasted opportunity.

So one dragon is basically Falcor from The NeverEnding Story with red streaks down its body and the other is just some generic, multi-armed abomination of a dragon that looks like it was designed by my nephew Max, who is repeating third grade this year.

The good guys win and Wong from Doctor Strange shows up to introduce them to Captain Marvel and Hulk, who is back to being Banner with no explanation, and they discover that the Ten Rings, now in Shang’s possession, are sending out some beacon. Whatever. I don’t care about the future of the MCU anymore.

All in all, I thought this was okay. It’s better than Black Widow and Captain Marvel but it’s definitely a bottom five MCU movie. It probably would’ve been better if Awkwafina was nowhere near this thing and if the writers actually read a comic book before “adapting” this character and this pocket of the Marvel universe.

Rating: 5.5/10

Film Review: Malignant (2021)

Also known as: Silvercup (working title)
Release Date: September 1st, 2021 (France)
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: Akela Cooper, James Wan, Ingrid Bisu
Music by: Joseph Bishara
Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Jacqueline McKenzie, Michole Briana White, Mckenna Grace, Zoe Bell

Boom! Studios, Boom Entertainment, Atomic Monster, My Entertainment Inc., Starlight Media Inc. New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, 111 Minutes

Review:

“It’s time to cut out the cancer.” – Gabriel

*There be spoilers here!

I went into this movie blindly and I would say that this is the best way to approach Malignant. I hadn’t seen a trailer and frankly, I didn’t know of its existence until it hit HBO Max (at the same time it hit theaters) and then I saw that Joe Bob Briggs was really happy with it.

Having now watched it, I really wish I would’ve seen it in the theater and I still might on my second viewing of it.

I’ve got to state that this was just solid, top-to-bottom and I think it could very well be James Wan’s best movie that I’ve seen, apart from my original theatrical viewing of Saw. That film’s legacy was destroyed by its countless, underwhelming and eventually terrible sequels. I hope that Malignant doesn’t follow suit and become a watered down franchise like Saw or James Wan’s Conjuring universe.

It’s hard not talking about this movie without spoiling it. So if you know nothing about this, you should stop reading here. Seriously, it’s worth checking out and something I’d consider one of the ten best horror films of the last ten years or so. But you should just jump into it, knowing nothing, and just enjoy the ride.

So here come spoilers, galore. Turn back now or ruin the film for yourself; you have been warned.

The intro to the movie clues you in that there’s some sort of creature that’s very dangerous but you only get an obscured glance of it through opaque plastic curtains. It’s hard to tell what it is and whether it’s some sort of mutant or supernatural (possibly spiritual) force that’s taken physical manifestation. The only real clue you’re given is from dialogue spoken by the lead doctor referring to it as “cancer”.

As we meet Maddie, the main character, years later, we see her life, her shitty relationship and discover that she’s in her third pregnancy after losing the two previous babies. Her boyfriend is immediately abusive, physically, and that leads into the first encounter with the creature in current time.

Initially, this feels like either a haunted house or possession movie. However, as the plot rolls on and new clues and experiences are presented, it’s much more complicated and complex than that. We eventually learn that Maddie has a direct connection to this monster and then Matrix-type shit starts happening as reality bends and shifts and the plot becomes more layered, more complex yet incredibly more interesting without becoming a convoluted mess. At this point, you’re just filled with questions and intrigue.

Fast-forward and many developments later, you learn that Maddie was a Siamese twin and that her other half was an evil, murderous bastard named Gabriel. Gabriel was the “cancer” that was mostly cut out from Maddie, however, they couldn’t fully remove him without killing her, so the remaining part of him, that was attached to her brain, was shaved back and pushed into the back of her skull. You also find out that he fed off of her unborn babies in an effort to regain his power. Maddie getting her head slammed into the wall by her boyfriend was enough to finally wake Gabriel back up.

So with the big reveal, the film reminds me of Brian De Palma’s Sisters, as well as an obscure 1988 film, Brain Damage. Granted, I don’t think that Wan stole from these movies, as this story is still really original and stands on its own two feet.

Everything comes to a head when Maddie is in a holding cell, the prime suspect in several murders, and Gabriel finally regains full control and brutalizes the shit out of the other inmates, who were bullying and brutalizing Maddie. This scene is just cool as fuck and Maddie/Gabriel takes action like a character from The Matrix. The really neat thing, anatomy-wise, is that Gabriel’s face is attached to the back of Maddie’s head, so her body does its martial arts badassery physically backwards. It’s a bizarre but incredibly cool sight.

In the end, Maddie gains full control back from Gabriel and suppresses him seemingly into nonexistence, again. However, the film ends kind of abruptly after this and it’s unclear what will happen to her, as the only cop that learned the truth is presumably dead. And with that, it’s obvious that there will be a sequel.

They should learn from Saw and The Conjuring, that sequels will dilute the effect of the original movie. However, everything Wan touches seemingly turns into gold and I assume that this will also be milked to death. Still, I liked this enough that I would see a sequel and just hope for the best.

What really made this movie work so damn well was the incredibly convincing performance by its star, Annabelle Wallis, who I loved and hope to see more from in the future.

I also liked a lot of sequences in this, especially the stuff in the Seattle Underground. It’s a really cool location to utilize for horror and it’s been weirdly underutilized for decades. This movie makes the most out of that setting and it also gave us some really good action when Gabriel was on the run from the main cop in the story.

In recent years, the horror genre has been fairly shit. Malignant was one of the very few films that grabbed my attention, kept me glued to the screen and exceeded any expectations I could’ve had for it. Additionally, it’s finely directed, wonderfully acted and a cool, unique story that is a legitimate mindfuck of the highest caliber.

Rating: 9/10

Film Review: Spiral: From The Book Of Saw (2021)

Also known as: Untitled Saw Project, The Organ Donor (working titles)
Release Date: May 12th, 2021 (Denmark, Indonesia, South Korea, Norway)
Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by: Josh Stolberg, Peter Goldfinger
Music by: Charlie Clouser
Cast: Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Samuel L. Jackson

Serendipity Productions, Twisted Pictures, Lionsgate, 93 Minutes

Review:

“Whoever did this has another motive – they’re targeting cops.” – Detective Zeke Banks

This is the second time that they’ve tried to resurrect Saw and this one was worse than the first.

Spiral is the first film that doesn’t feature Tobin Bell or the Jigsaw character, other than some photographs and references to him, as the new killer is a copycat.

So like the previous film, Jigsaw, and the original Saw, we don’t specifically know who the killer is. However, after suffering through the misery of this entire franchise, it wasn’t hard for me to figure out who the killer was in the first fucking fifteen minutes. I also knew the red herrings were obvious red herrings and I felt like I was watching a gore-filled, live action episode of Scooby-Doo.

Additionally, I like Chris Rock, I always have. However, at this point in his career, it’s hard seeing him in a serious role as a detective, yelling at rival detectives, and to not almost laugh. It’s not that he can’t act but he’s been known for his loud comedic acting and stand-up specials where his distinct, loud voice is always hilarious. It’s kind of the same reason why it’s become hard for me to take Vince Vaughn seriously in dramatic roles now, as he also has a distinct voice and has primarily done comedy over the last few decades now.

Sam Jackson is in this too but just barely. The only two really notable people are Max Minghella and Marisol Nichols.

This movie also seems pretty tame compared to how far previous Saw films pushed the bar in regards to gore in mainstream film.

The traps were fairly interesting and new, as opposed to some of the sequels that started to update some of the more classic Jigsaw traps. I thought that the trap that pulled the dude’s fingers apart like perfectly smoked ribs was kind of gruesome, though. It’s about the only time I felt my balls wince up in my briefs.

Anyway, fuck this movie. It was a huge waste of time and I don’t know why I even watched it, other than I forced myself to be tortured by all the other sequel films and figured that I might as well finish it with this turd.

Rating: 4.25/10

Film Review: Dune: Part One (2021)

Release Date: September 3rd, 2021 (Venice Film Festival)
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Written by: Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
Based on: Dune by Frank Herbert
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, David Dastmalchian

Villeneuve Films, Legendary Entertainment, Warner Bros., 155 Minutes

Review:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Lady Jessica Atreides

Well, the long-awaited Dune movie by Denis Villeneuve is finally here and while I tried to go into it without any expectations, I am a pretty big fan of the original novels by Frank Herbert and am one of the weirdos that likes the 1984 David Lynch adaptation while also enjoying those two Sci-Fi Channel miniseries that adapted the first three books back around the turn of the new millennium.

It’s hard to review this, however, because it is just one half of the story and it doesn’t even end at a logical point, the film just decides to stop and roll its credits. There are some logical points in the book that would’ve been much better areas to pause the film.

For those who haven’t read the book, which is most people in 2021, this will probably confuse them or piss them off. Especially, since a follow up wasn’t guaranteed. At the time of me writing this, though, the sequel was just greenlit.

So up to the point where the film just stops, I’d have to consider this the best adaptation of the book so far. Granted, it could still fall apart in the second half, which hopefully we don’t have to wait four years for.

The film, as should be expected with Villeneuve at the helm, is a visual masterpiece. However, also with Villeneuve at the helm, Dune starts to suffer, as the initial awe of the visuals starts to wear off and normalize. The movie is slow. That’s not to say that nothing happens but like Blade Runner 2049, it just takes a long time to get there. With this being nearly two and a half hours and just half the plot, I feel like this whole story could’ve been told well over three-to-four hours if it moved at a brisker pace.

As far as the acting goes, it was all good. There really wasn’t a weak link in this chain but it was also hard really getting a grasp on whether or not Zendaya was going to be able to hang, as she only shows up in the last ten minutes of the movie, apart from appearing in Paul Atreides’ dreams.

Timothée Chalamet made a solid Paul, though. I also really liked Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac. Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem both had great presence and Jason Momoa actually impressed me quite a bit, as Duncan Idaho, one of my favorite characters from the book.

Beyond that, Stellan Skarsgård completely owned the role of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Dave Bautista was also intimidating as hell as the Beast Rabban with one of my favorite modern character actors, David Dastmalchian, doing a f’n superb job as the Harkonnen mentat, Piter De Vries. Dastmalchian was in good company with Brad Dourif playing the role in the 1984 film but he still made the role his own, in this film, and really shined through in a unique way.

I wasn’t a big fan of the Hans Zimmer score and honestly, you barely even notice it. It’s just noise and atmosphere and the movie lacks any real themes like the 1984 version, which had incredible music.

Also, as visually impressive as this is, when I read the books, I’m pretty sure my mind is still going to visualize the David Lynch style. It’s just burnt into my memory, at this point. I can’t really say which is better, overall, because of my nostalgic love of the visuals and design of the original film but this one still looks great and really utilizes modern special effects technology exceptionally well. It greatly benefits in that regard, where David Lynch only had practical effects and physical sets to work with.

All in all, this was a good adaptation, more than anything. It’s hard to say how it will play as a total body of work, once the second half is released, but I now have fairly high hopes for the completed picture. Granted, I assume that one will also be pretty slow.

Rating: 7.5/10

TV Review: What If…? (2021- )

Original Run: August 11th, 2021 – current
Created by: A.C. Bradley
Directed by: Bryan Andrews
Written by: A.C. Bradley, Matthew Chauncey
Based on: Marvel Comics
Music by: Laura Karpman
Cast: Jeffrey Wright, various

Marvel Studios, Disney+, 6 Episodes (so far), 31-37 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Marvel’s What If…? is like all things MCU since Avengers: Endgame, a mixed bag of good and stupid.

So let me start by saying that I did enjoy some episodes of this show, while others were absolute shit like the one that sees Black Panther become Star Lord, which doesn’t make a lick of sense and also had a side plot about Thanos not committing universal genocide because T’Challa simply talked him out of it. That episode made me facepalm, repeatedly, so hard that I broke my nose about seven times.

Anyway, it’s clear that Disney is using this show to push certain social narratives without really caring about what that does to the continuity of the second greatest franchise they’ve ever had. But just like the once greatest franchise, Star Wars, Disney is out to wreck this one too.

So for the positives, I mostly liked the Peggy Carter episode, as well as the Doctor Strange one. While the T’Challa one was, hands down the worst, the others weren’t too bad, they just didn’t do much for me.

I was most excited to see that they would do with the Marvel Zombies concept, as some of those comics were fun as hell. Well, I’m glad that they tried something original with it, story-wise. However, it just didn’t hold my attention and was really underwhelming.

Also, I’m not big on the animation style. I really didn’t like it at first but my brain did adjust to it fairly quickly. The main problem with it, is that it looks almost too generic and in the Marvel Zombies episodes, for instance, I had a hard time telling some characters apart because they looked too similar.

When Disney first announced all the Marvel shows that would be coming to Disney+, this is one of the ones I was most excited for. I have loved the What If? comics since I started reading comics. Out of all of the issues that exist with great premises and alterations to continuity, I found it really disappointing that these were the stories they went with to kick off this series. But I guess I just shouldn’t expect much from Disney, at this point.

Rating: 6/10

Film Review: Halloween Kills (2021)

Release Date: September 8th, 2021 (Venice Film Festival)
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: Scott Teems, Danny McBride, David Gordon Green
Based on: characters by John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Music by: John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Anthony Michael Hall, Nick Castle, Kyle Richards, Nancy Stephens, Charles Cyphers, Scott MacArthur, Michael McDonald

Blumhouse Productions, Miramax, Universal Pictures, 106 Minutes

Review:

“I’m coming for you, Michael.” – Laurie Strode

So this is the second part of the Halloween trilogy by David Gordon Green and Danny McBride. I mostly liked the first one and I also mostly liked this one.

Oddly, there are some things about this one that are worse and also some things that are better. So with that, it kind of just evens itself out and, overall, is on the same level as its predecessor.

Looking at the positives first, I thought that this one committed to the violence of the deaths better. The previous film showed some seriously fucked up kills but then it’s like it met its quota and then some gruesome kills saw the camera shy away from them. Here, it threw everything at you and didn’t pull any of its punches.

This one also brought back some classic characters and some minor characters from the original 1978 film. I don’t like how some of these characters were utilized and ultimately what their fates were but I did like the idea of a group of Michael Myers survivors being fully aware that one day they’d have to come face-to-face with the monster once more.

As for the negatives, I don’t like how reckless and stupid Tommy Doyle was, as well as his dipshit small town mob. They pushed an innocent man to suicide, they got overzealous and then sloppy when they had the advantage over Michael and by the end, you kind of want these morons to get what you know is coming to them.

Additionally, the film did some time jumping early on, which I felt was a bit messy and made the first act of the story somewhat chaotic and disjointed. It also doesn’t really recover from having a bad flow, as it starts introducing new sets of characters that just seem to be on their own side quest from the get go and it pulls time away from the main story and the main characters of this film series.

Also, I get that Laurie Strode was severely injured but I hated that she was in a hospital bed the entire movie, except when she tried to leave, hurt herself, and then ended up right back in bed next to the cop from the first movie, who also stayed in bed the whole time.

I also didn’t like the appearance of Loomis in this. It felt kind of cheap and weird like when Disney used a CGI Peter Cushing in Rogue One. I couldn’t tell if they used CGI on an actor’s face here or if they just got an actor that looks an awful lot like Donald Pleasence.

Other than that, the story was okay and the kills were solid and creative. At the very least, this feels like a good extension of what was established in the original 1978 Halloween and these are much better movies than that white trash Rob Zombie crap from a decade and a half ago. These are also better than the other attempt at a sequel reboot that we got with H20 and Halloween: Resurrection.

Rating: 6.75/10

Film Review: Black Widow (2021)

Release Date: June 30th, 2021 (Madrid fan event premiere)
Directed by: Cate Shortland
Written by: Eric Pearson, Jac Schaeffer, Ned Benson
Based on: Marvel Comics
Music by: Lorne Balfe
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenie, Olga Kurylenko, William Hurt, Ray Winstone, Rachel Weisz, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (cameo), Jeremy Renner (cameo, voice)

Truenorth Productions, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 134 Minutes

Review:

“[to Natasha and Yelena] You both have killed so many people. Your ledgers must be dripping, just gushing red. I couldn’t be more proud of you.” – Alexei Shostakov

I initially planned to see this in the theater but I was travelling for work when this came out and by the time I got caught up and was going to finally see it, it was gone. Also, I wasn’t going to pay an additional $29.99 to watch it on Disney+ when it would be free a few months later. That price tag is stupid, especially when HBO Max drops the new movies without any additional cost. But this isn’t a “bitch about how dumb and greedy Disney is” article, it’s a movie review about the long overdue first (and only) film about one of the greatest Marvel Cinematic Universe characters.

Sadly, this doesn’t live up to any hype one would have for it. Also, it’s five years too late and had it been made five years ago, it probably would’ve been a much better, much more coherent and much more entertaining picture.

Also, this proves that wedging a chapter in the MCU franchise into a previous point in the timeline, further fucks up and wrecks that timeline. Captain Marvel, Avengers: EndgameLoki and probably some other things have also done this and created serious continuity issues, not to mention, altering characters in ways that don’t make sense or ruins them.

If you can completely turn your brain off and watch this without questioning anything, it’s probably an entertaining spy thriller. I can do that with many things but not with the nearly 30th entry into a thirteen year-old franchise that features a title character that has existed in eleven of those thirteen years.

There are so many problems with this movie like its terrible plot and incoherent logic, the fact that Black Widow is apparently made out of titanium, Taskmaster isn’t in anyway Taskmaster, the main villain is by far the worst in the franchise and it has the worst pacing and editing of any MCU movie.

I won’t harp on about how a small prop plane full of bullet holes can’t fly from Ohio to Cuba with S.H.I.E.L.D. in pursuit or how secret intel is sent to a safehouse used by many other people after its existence was made known to S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra and everyone else. I won’t talk about how the entire movie was a string of plot conveniences and contrivances where if just one thing didn’t go smoothly, the entire story would’ve been fucked. I won’t grill the filmmakers about the stupidity of a secret flying fortress in a world with the MCU‘s technology, Tony Stark, Skrulls, Kree, satellites and Google f’n Earth. I won’t bring up physics or how the human body reacts to explosions, smashing into hard objects during free fall or how joints, muscles, nerves and nose cartilage work.

So since I won’t spend thousands of words on the stuff just mentioned, I will talk about how the characters never felt right. Natasha’s family felt forced and just wedged in to her personal mythos. Where were any of these people during the events of Infinity War and Endgame? Not to mention the twenty or so other Black Widows that Natasha freed at the end of the film. Mathematically, roughly half of those Widows would’ve survived Thanos’ snap and could’ve been helping Natasha, who was essentially running the show when half the world and its heroes disappeared. Ten-to-twelve Widows would’ve been really helpful in the first act of Endgame and twenty or more showing up for the final battle with Thanos could’ve been a hell of an advantage, especially a Taskmaster fighting on the side of good. Hell, we could’ve gotten a Captain America and Red Guardian team-up moment.

Additionally, we never really get to explore her time in the Black Widow program, which I’m pretty sure was something that everyone was anticipating. So here we have a character that’s appeared in at least half, if not most, of the MCU films and she doesn’t really have an origin story. There’s the ridiculous opening sequence in this movie and a credits montage but beyond that, everything we know about the character’s past is revealed through clunky dialogue. Dialogue which may or may not be reliable considering the villain is well… a fucking villain and Natasha and her sister Yelena have both had their minds altered on some level.

Getting to Taskmaster, I honestly don’t care that the character is a woman and out of respect for her gender, I’ll refer to her now as Taskmistress. My issue with the character was that other than being able to instantaneously learn from her opponents and mimic them, she wasn’t Taskmaster in any other regard. Taskmistress is a completely different character created from completely different circumstances, devoid of personality, devoid of style, missing the iconic skull face and thus, totally lacking the character’s charisma and coolness. Taskmistress is just generic super soldier cyborg lady. And what’s even more distressing is that she is clearly a man until the helmet comes off for what was meant to be a shocking reveal but was honestly, more expected than my cousin Lindsey getting pregnant again.

Look, I like this character and I like Scarlett Johansson and her commitment to this character over what may be a dozen movies now. The problem is that she deserved a movie earlier than this and she also deserved a better story than this. Hell, she probably should’ve had three movie by now, just like the boys on the Avengers team… well, except Hawkeye but that’s another sore subject with me.

Through this, I also liked Florence Pugh as Yelena and I don’t hate the idea of her taking the mantle if Johansson is truly done with it. However, her being sent on a mission to kill Hawkeye for “murdering” her sister is retarded, as the Avengers are more famous in their world than Scarlett Johansson is in ours. Yelena would’ve known that Hawkeye was her sister’s best friend and teammate, as the entire world knows that they’re both Avengers. Man, the MCU is run by idiots these days but just look at what Disney has done to Star Wars.

Before I go, I guess my last bone to pick is in regards to Red Guardian. So we’re supposed to accept that this guy is a smart badass that has high technical prowess and is somewhat on Captain America’s level as a fighter and hero. Yet he’s Fat Thor turned up to eleven with a Russian accent and communist tattoos that make him look like a Portland SJW angrily tweeting from a MacBook Pro in a corporate chain cafe sipping an $11 coffee and eating a $7 vegan muffin. I’m supposed to accept that this slobby juvenile idiot was his country’s Captain America and that he has actual smarts?

Anyway, I’m glad I just waited to watch this for free… or with my existing subscription. It’s not as bad as Captain Marvel was but it’s honestly in the same ballpark. Everything in this is pretty forgettable and as we’ve seen, none of it mattered to the bigger picture of the MCU. At least Captain Marvel set up some things. Not things I specifically want to see but it had more of an effect on the franchise. I guess this will tie directly to the Hawkeye television series but Yelena gunning for Clint Barton is fucking stupid for reasons I already explained.

Rating: 5.25/10