Also known as: Fletch Saved (working title) Release Date: March 17th, 1989 Directed by: Michael Ritchie Written by: Leon Capetanos Music by: Harold Faltermeyer Cast: Chevy Chase, Hal Holbrook, Julianne Phillips, R. Lee Ermey, Richard Libertini, Cleavon Little, Randall “Tex” Cobb, George Wyner, Geoffrey Lewis, Richard Belzer, Phil Hartman
Cornelius Productions, Vincent Pictures, Universal Pictures, 95 Minutes
“It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong. I am not a big man.” – Fletch
I was surprised that I liked this film as much as I did.
The reason being, I remember people trashing it pretty heavily when it came out. While I used to see pieces of it on television over the years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in its entirety in one viewing. But people did always say that this was a pretty shitty sequel and not on the level of the original.
Well, it’s not as good as Fletch but Fletch Lives is still a pretty funny movie that’s tailormade for Chevy Chase’s strengths. So while I have a much higher opinion of this movie than the majority, I feel like maybe I should defend it, as I feel like it probably deserves that.
I think that the new setting of the film actually helps it and makes it fresh. I liked seeing Fletch go to the bayou to expose some seedy shit. I also liked how they used it to emphasize the cultural clash between an L.A. investigative reporter and the Cajun folk, ranging from the good Southerners to the outright racist pieces of shit. I also loved the televangelical angle and R. Lee Ermey’s role as the megachurch pastor.
Beyond Ermey, I also enjoyed the great Hal Holbrook playing a crooked Cajun millionaire.
Additionally, I liked the chemistry between Chase and the film’s leading lady, Julianne Phillips.
Chase also had solid camaraderie with Cleavon Little. Seeing those two comedic icons come together is a real treat regardless of the perceived quality of the film.
This installment of the series relies more on Chase wearing funny costumes while “undercover”. I really like these sequences, though, and I like seeing Chase play odd characters.
Overall, Fletch Lives is pretty solid and I say that as a guy who was never a big Chase fan. However, I do really enjoy him as this character and I honestly think it’s his best.
Sadly, we never did get that third Fletch picture and I’m pretty sure the ship has sailed on that.
Published: 1991 Written by: Tom DeFalco Art by: John Buscema, Joe Jusko (cover)
Marvel Comics, 65 Pages
This story happens after the Wolverine and Nick Fury team-up in The Scorpio Connection but also takes place before that story’s direct sequel Scorpio Rising. So this has become the second act in what fans now refer to as the Wolverine/Nick Fury Trilogy.
Like its predecessor, this was released as a trade paperback and was made for more mature audiences than the typical single issue, floppy comics Marvel was publishing at the time. As a middle school-aged kid, I loved releases like this. However, this is one that I had never read until now.
The story deals with Wolverine uncovering a large pedophile ring in Central America. A kid dies trying to save his brother from the pedo cartel and Wolverine decides that these scumfucks need to be ripped to shreds, literally.
However, Wolverine quickly discovers that Nick Fury is also trying to take these evil men down. Wolverine doesn’t want to go “by the book”, as he’s hell bent on making the leader suffer an agonizing death. However, Fury wants to take down the larger cartel that exceeds the main villain’s local reach.
We eventually get a legit fight between Fury and Wolverine and it is one of the most epic Marvel has ever published featuring two heroes at odds.
Beyond that, Wolverine has to question his rage and his personal mission and what we get is a really good and satisfying ending.
I thought that Tom DeFalco wrote one of the best stories he’s ever done with this. I also enjoyed John Buscema’s art immensely.
Man, this was just incredible and being only 65 pages, it accomplished a lot and far exceeded any expectations I had for it.
Also known as: Dr. Detroit (alternative spelling) Release Date: May 6th, 1983 Directed by: Michael Pressman Written by: Bruce Jay Friedman, Carl Gottlieb, Robert Boris Music by: Lalo Schifrin Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Howard Hesseman, George Furth, James Brown, T. K. Carter, Donna Dixon, Fran Drescher, Lydia Lei, Lynn Whitfield, Kate Murtagh, Peter Aykroyd, Glenne Headly
Black Rhino Productions, Brillstein Company, Universal Pictures, 89 Minutes
“Mom, I am going to rip off your head and shit down your neck.” – Doctor Detroit
This is a Dan Aykroyd movie that, for whatever reason, eluded me until I was much older. I probably would’ve loved it, as a kid, but maybe it was just buried down deep in the video stores I visited and thus, I never came across it until I worked in one as a teenager in the ’90s.
I like this movie and it has a pretty good cast. However, it is kind of sloppily thrown together and the humor is crude, even for the ’80s. That’s more of a reason why I would’ve liked it back then. But because I don’t have those fond childhood memories of watching this, I don’t have much nostalgia for it and I think that allows me to be more objective.
Aykroyd is good in this, as are most of the core people, but I can see why this went down the memory hole for most fans of ’80s comedies and why it was never a hit when it came out, despite Aykroyd’s popularity from the early days of Saturday Night Live.
The plot is goofy and you have to suspend disbelief quite a bit. The Doctor Detroit persona that Aykroyd creates is way over the top and so bizarre that it’s hard to believe that anyone would’ve taken him seriously, even in an ’80s screwball comedy. That’s not to say that the character isn’t funny and entertaining, he is.
The story is pretty wonky and poorly crafted and you kind of just have to enjoy the segments as they happen and not think too deeply about the movie. During the era in which this was made, though, this sort of stuff was the norm.
Audiences coming out of decades of civil and political strife in America just needed to breathe and enjoy life again. Many ’80s comedies are products of this societal feeling. And honestly, I think that’s why so many are still beloved today and still matter to so many people, as modern times aren’t all that great.
Doctor Detroit just isn’t one of those that can be considered a classic like Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, the Vacation movies or all those John Hughes teen dramadies. This isn’t even Revenge of the Nerds quality, it’s more like Revenge of the Nerds II or Caddyshack II.
However, like Revenge of the Nerds II and Caddyshack II, I enjoy this movie where I’d assume most people probably wouldn’t. And maybe this is actually a bit better than those, as I don’t have the nostalgia factor as part of its equation.
Also known as: Cruella de Vil (working title) Release Date: May 18th, 2021 (Hollywood premiere) Directed by: Craig Gillespie Written by: Dana Fox, Tony McNamara, Aline Brosh McKenna, Kelly Marcel, Steve Zissis Based on:The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith Music by: Nicholas Britell Cast: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Mark Strong, John McCrea
Gunn Films, Marc Platt Productions, Walt Disney Pictures, 134 Minutes
“They say there are five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. We’ll I’d like to add one more… revenge.” – Cruella de Vil
Cruella is two movies trying to be one movie. Hell, maybe it’s even three movies.
That being said, I do like the film in spite of my better judgment but I’ll explain why while also pointing out the myriad of things wrong with it.
To start, this is just another soulless attempt at Disney trying to cash-in on an old, beloved franchise by making a live action adaptation of some part of it. In the case of this film, it’s a “prequel” of sorts to the 101 Dalmatians franchise. Like some other live action adaptations Disney has done, as of late, this tries to tell the origin story of one of the studio’s most famous villains. But really, this just shows how Disney is out of ideas and how it really keeps trying to inject identity politics into everything it touches now.
Additionally, this is basically trying to capitalize off of the success of 2019’s Joker by taking it’s general concept, switching genders, switching franchises, not going for an R rating and trying to pass it off as something fresh, cool and unique. Let’s also ignore that Warner Bros., who put out Joker, have also put out three movies with his psycho, villain, girlfriend Harley Quinn.
Also, this shows modern Disney’s problem with morality. In almost everything the studio puts out now, it gives audiences situations where it’s obvious that their writers don’t understand the basic concept of good versus evil. I’ve seen this in all the Disney+ Marvel shows and they also did it twice with Maleficent in her two live-action movies that try to justify her villainous behavior and make her the tragic victim.
Cruella is a mess and to be honest, I don’t know where to start with it and I’m not going to cover all of its problems other than to say that the biggest problem of all is that Disney very clearly wanted this to be a “girl power” movie and wanted it to work no matter what, so they forced it into existence without much thought in regards to story, character development, logic and again, morality.
So looking at the story, this movie just does things because it needs the story to work with the studio’s agenda remaining intact. It insults the intelligence of viewers with intelligence and hopes that they don’t start asking questions as the film tries to rush from point-to-point.
Like why does Estella/Cruella essentially have a dual personality? Why did the villain lady agree to see Estella’s mother during an opulent ball the poor mother had no business at? How did Estella get to the fountain in London on her own? Why is Estella as Cruella suddenly a complete bitch to her best friends? Why do the friends stick around? Why does villain lady not recognize Cruella’s posse when they’re front and center at every fucking public troll? Why did Cruella never actually hate the Dalmatians and basically adopts them? Why was her necklace a key to a box that revealed her secret identity that a stranger had and why was the adoptive mother given the secret key necklace when she knew the truth, anyway? There’s a lot more but I’ll leave it at that.
A lot of those questions tie directly to the problem with character development. But honestly, it’s like this movie completely ignores who Cruella de Vil was in the original animated films and even those Glenn Close live-action movies. Cruella is 100 percent evil. She’s a woman that wants to kidnap puppies, kill them and make clothes out of them.
In this movie, we just have a chick with a temper that discovers that the boss she idolizes is the same woman that had her dogs push her mother off of a cliff. Cruella never hates the dogs, though. She kidnaps them to upset her rival and she jokes about making a handbag out of them but by the end of the film, they’re part of her entourage like her own non-Dalmatian mutt.
Now I can suspend disbelief in Estella/Cruella having a dual personality without much explanation but Estella is a pretty kind person that loves her friends, who are essentially her adoptive family. So with that, it’s hard to believe that she would suddenly be a cold bitch to them and just treat them like low level henchmen. Additionally, why the fuck would these two guys, who grew up with her, take her shit? I’d ask if they’re that cucked but I know the answer is “yes” when this is a modern Disney movie.
Moving on to the logic problem, I’ve already kind of hit on that point with the other issues but it is a problem for this film when a viewer isn’t the type of person to just take what’s being spoon-fed to them from sequence-to-sequence. This movie moves at a pace too quick for the casual viewer to really think too deeply about the details and that’s deliberate. It’s similar to how the Disney Star Wars movies are, in that they just quickly move from one thing to the next thing without allowing you to take in the details and ask questions. Again, Disney just needs the story to work to make their point, even if it’s not logical and a bit of a mess.
As far as morality goes, this wants you to cheer this woman, who is doing bad things because the story’s villain is worse. But what you really have is two villains. Still, Disney doesn’t fully commit to the bit because in 2021, you can’t have this woman killing puppies or even implying as such, other than her throwaway joke that immediately draws the ire of her two best friends.
What we end up with is a character that shows the audience that it’s okay to be a vengeful, selfish bitch, as long as you don’t go completely bad. What completely bad is, I don’t know, but neither does Disney. And at the end of the film, you’re left with a character that still really isn’t Cruella de Vil, she’s just some stylish punk rock chick that destroyed her rival and took her empire because the story needed to end, I guess.
Now after all that, if you’re still here, you’re probably assuming that I hate this movie. Well, I don’t. I still liked it in spite of all its problems, which shows me that this could have been a great film on its own, apart from being tied to the 101 Dalmatians franchise and carrying Disney’s woke message.
Had this not been forcibly tied to the Cruella character and just been a movie about a woman who discovers her idol murdered her mother, we could’ve had a really good movie about two feuding fashion industry rivals.
Emma Stone and Emma Thompson are absolutely superb in this and without them, this movie probably would’ve been total shit. But damn are they good, especially in the scenes they’re in together. Additionally, all the other key actors are great and it kind of makes me sad that they didn’t have a script or story that could’ve maximized their talents even better.
I also loved the style of this movie. It primarily takes place in 1970s London, has a punk rock edge to it, but it also takes from 1920s-1940s fashion and architecture, mixes that in, giving the film an unique, somewhat otherworldly, but “lived in” feel. It’s a visual feast and I got lost trying to absorb the details of it all.
In the end, I wish this was just it’s own movie, not tied to a preexisting franchise. I wish it tried to make more logical sense and developed its characters better. It had all these things working for it but Disney’s soulless overproduction of everything it puts out derailed what could’ve been the best film they’ve produced in years.
At this point, though, Disney doesn’t care about quality. They only care about their agenda and the bottom line. But we’re now getting to the point where their agenda will start diminishing that bottom line, regardless of what the Disney owned media wants you to believe with their puff pieces and excuses.
Also known as: Greenbriar (working title), El Camino (informal title) Release Date: October 7th, 2019 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Vince Gilligan Written by: Vince Gilligan Based on:Breaking Bad by Vince Gilligan Music by: Dave Porter Cast: Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons, Krysten Ritter, Charles Baxter, Matt Jones, Scott Shepherd, Scott MacArthur, Tom Bower, Kevin Rankin, Larry Hankin, Tess Harper, Robert Forster, Jonathan Banks, Bryan Cranston
High Bridge Productions, Sony Pictures, Netflix, 122 Minutes
“You’re really lucky, you know that? You didn’t have to wait your whole life to do something special.” – Walt
I wouldn’t call this movie a disappointment but it was incredibly underwhelming. But I also didn’t have much anticipation for it and the fact that I put off watching it for nearly two years, shows my lack of enthusiasm for it.
The reason being is that I didn’t need this. I very easily assumed that Jesse was headed to Alaska after the finale of Breaking Bad. Seeing this movie just lets me know that I was right.
All this movie really was, was Jesse running a few dangerous errands while having flashbacks before he could actually leave for Alaska. Granted, based off of how much he was wanted by authorities, he really should’ve booked it to somewhere outside of the United States’ jurisdiction. But whatever, there are some other logic flaws with the story.
I feel like this was made just because fans have been clamoring for more Breaking Bad since the show ended. Well, they got the Better Call Saul show, which seems to be doing well and satisfying the fan base.
If a sequel needed to be made, I would’ve rather it come much later and we check in on Jesse years later. Maybe some dangerous character from his past is also hiding up in Alaska and recognizes him, setting off a crazy series of events. But whatever this movie was, I didn’t need to experience it.
This isn’t particularly bad but it isn’t particularly good either. The acting was actually pretty stellar but I didn’t expect it not to be.
El Camino is what happens someone like Netflix comes along and throws a lot of money at a creator who is apparently just out of gas.
In the end, there were only two real highlights in this for me. The first, was the scenes between Jesse, Skinny Pete and Badger. That does hit you in the feels. The second, was seeing Robert Forster go out with a bang, as he died just after this was released.
Published: December 19th, 2018 Written by: Doug Moench, Steven Grant, Tony Isabella, Alan Zelenetz Art by: Bill Sienkiewicz, Kevin Nowlan, Joe Brozowski, Bo Hampton
Marvel Comics, 486 Pages
Well, I’ve gotta say that as much as I’ve loved the other early Moon Knight – Epic Collections that I’ve read, this one most definitely takes the cake! In fact, it’s pretty f’n perfect, even if it features issues with different creative teams.
It kicks off with Doug Moench writing and Bill Sienkiewicz doing the art. They had lead me through the series through pretty much its entirety up to this point. However, just a few issues in, creative teams shift and then later, shift again.
Regardless of that, the tone of the stories and the art remained pretty damn consistent. And this just reminded me of the level of quality control and consistency that Marvel used to have, which they are sorely lacking today.
This kicks off with a really awesome story featuring Stained Glass Scarlet, who has become a character I really like after reading just her first two appearances.
We then get the even better debut story of Black Spectre, which became my favorite Moon Knight story up to this point in the original series’ run. Frankly, it’s one that will be really hard to top.
After that, we get a lot of stories that continue to develop the character of Moon Knight and his inner battle with his multiple personalities. I’d say my favorite story arc of the lot is the werewolf one, though. And man, I loved the art style used for the werewolf, as it reminded me of The Howling, which probably inspired the design, as that film came out just a few years before this was originally published.
There’s also appearances by the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange and Moon Knight’s first encounter with The Kingpin.
This was just an incredible stretch of issues and while I own some, I may actually seek out the single issues and complete this run.
Published: November 1st, 2016 Written by: Chuck Dixon Art by: Greg Land, Scott McDaniel, Karl Story
DC Comics, 331 Pages
I took a bit of a break, as I had reached the middle of the collected editions of Chuck Dixon’s classic Nightwing run. But now I’m ready to jump back in with this installment, which I thought was pretty good and full of action and multiple story arcs, which were mostly entertaining.
The two best stories are the ones that are essentially the bookends of this volume.
The first is about Nightwing breaking into prison to take down the supervillains that have taken it over. It features a lot of villains and some of them actually help Nightwing, as they’re not happy with the conditions they’ve been provided with under the new tyrannical rule of Lockup and his right hand, KGBeast.
The last story is about Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Oracle and the former Batgirl, being abducted with Nightwing and his allies trying desperately to find her. I don’t want to spoil what happens, as there is a cliffhanger that sets up the next volume.
As for the art, the earlier issues here continued to have a very ’90s style, which hasn’t aged all that well, even though I liked it at the time. After the first third or so of this volume, Greg Land took over and the book looked more refined and polished.
Overall, this is a good chapter in the larger Dixon run. It also progressed the stories of Blockbuster and Nite-Wing, the ripoff wannabe sidekick, in ways that kept their stories interesting.
Also known as: John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China (complete title) Release Date: July 2nd, 1986 Directed by: John Carpenter Written by: Gary Goldman, David Z. Weinstein, W. D. Richter Music by: John Carpenter, Alan Howarth Cast: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, James Hong, Victor Wong, Kate Burton, Donald Li, Carter Wong, Peter Kwong, James Pax, Suzee Pai, Chao-Li Chi, Jeff Imada, Al Leong, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, James Lew
TAFT Entertainment Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, 99 Minutes
“Sooner or later I rub everybody the wrong way.” – Jack Burton
There are very few films I watched more than Big Trouble In Little China once it was out on VHS and I rented it to dub a copy. New release VHS tapes were like $99 back then and I was still way too young to get a real job.
Anyway, I fucking loved this movie when I was a kid and it was really my introduction to John Carpenter. His films before this one were all hard Rs and things like The Thing and Prince of Darkness would’ve given me nightmares for months. Yeah, I loved horror by this point but Carpenter’s hardest films were still way too hard for my 8 year-old brain.
I really loved this because of Kurt Russell. I can’t say that this was my introduction to him but this is probably the first film that made me know who he was.
Beyond Russell, I just loved the giant martial arts battle in the alley and found myself completely in love with this movie as soon as the three elemental dudes showed up along with the evil wizard Lo Pan. That whole sequence and its special effects blew my mind.
By this point, I’ve seen this movie dozens of times. However, it’s been at least five-to-ten years. I’ve felt the itch to revisit it for awhile now and I had to wedge it into my schedule.
I still love this movie. It’s action packed, has a great adventure, cool fantasy and horror shit, a very charismatic lead and it’s a hell of a lot more fun than anything Hollywood puts out today.
I actually enjoy Kurt Russell’s Jack Burton even more now. I think that’s because he’s heroic as hell but he really is this bumbling idiot that fucks up more than he actually does badass things. As a kid it was all just for a laugh but as an adult, I see that he wants to be that heroic guy but he gets in his own way. However, when it really comes to pulling off the big win, the dude succeeds and wins the day… and the girl. Well, until he gets in his own way again.
All the core characters in this movie are great from the heroes-to-the villains and even those with small one-scene roles are pretty memorable.
Back in the day, I loved all the monsters in this movie and seeing them all these years later, they’ve held up well. While Carpenter was working with a fairly decent budget on this movie, there were still limitations. In spite of that, the practical effects still look superb and the not-so-practical ones still pass the test.
Big Trouble In LittleChina is a movie that has a little bit of all the things I was into when it came out. While my tastes have evolved, these are still things I enjoy.
There are very few movies that are as fun as this one.
Release Date: May 31st, 1985 Directed by: Michael Ritchie Written by: Andrew Bergman Based on:Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald Music by: Harold Faltermeyer Cast: Chevy Chase, Joe Don Baker, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Richard Libertini, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Matheson, M. Emmet Walsh, George Wendt, Kenneth Mars, Geena Davis, George Wyner, Chick Heam
Vincent Pictures, Universal Pictures, 98 Minutes
“Why don’t we go lay on the bed and I’ll fill you in?” – Fletch
Because I’m not a big Chevy Chase fan, I hadn’t seen Fletch since the ’80s and even then, I don’t think I ever watched it from start-to-finish until now.
Seeing this as an adult, though, I think my mind has shifted. I actually dug this movie quite a bit and it’s made me rethink Chase and his contributions to cinematic comedy.
If I’m being honest, he was perfect in this, it truly utilized his charm and his comedic style. In fact, I’d even say that his style was enhanced by this script and the situations throughout the movie.
He wasn’t a complete self-absorbed prick like he was in most of the Vacation movies. Sure, he was definitely self-impressed with his own antics but he was actually a heroic character, trying to uncover a mysterious plot and rid the beaches of drug pushers with ties to the local cops. He also had this coolness about him that was similar to the coolness he had in Caddyshack but this even eclipsed that, as he was this film’s focal point and he wasn’t competing for laughs with Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray.
The cast is also stacked with lots of great character actors like Joe Don Baker, M. Emmet Walsh, George Wendt, George Wyner and Kenneth Mars. It also featured Tim Matheson and a very young Geena Davis. However, I really liked Dana Wheeler-Nicholson in this, as the female lead. She had good chemistry with Chase and their budding relationship was believable and nice to watch.
I also thought that the Harold Faltermeyer score was solid. I think it’s my favorite score he’s done after his work on the first two Beverly Hills Cop movies.
Fletch might be the perfect Chevy Chase film. I’m going to have to review the sequel in the next few weeks. While I think it’s safe to assume that it’s not as good as this flick, I hope it utilizes Chase’s talent as well as this did.
Published: November 6th, 2014 Written by: Ed Brubaker Art by: Michael Lark, David Aja, Marko Djurdevic (cover)
Marvel Comics, 142 Pages
Daredevil: Return of the King was a fitting end to the Ed Brubaker run on the series, as well as what was the Marvel Knights run, which saw the comics released under that banner come with more grit, more realism and more adult storylines and themes.
With this story arc, Daredevil returns to the classic “Legacy” numbering, as it ends at issue 500 and then another creative team takes the series over following that impressive milestone.
This kicks off by bringing The Kingpin back into the story. He’s been gone awhile but the way he’s brought back is fucking dark but really cool. This event also changes him and he decides to work with Daredevil in an effort to finally take down The Hand and a very deadly threat to them both: Lady Bullseye.
This also wraps up some of the core storylines that started during the Brian Michael Bendis era and then rolled over into Brubaker’s. By the end of this, the series sort of has a clean slate to go forward in a new way for the next creative team.
For those who read my earlier reviews in this series, you know that I initially liked Bendis’ run but then it felt aimless and sort of got annoying. Brubaker stepped in and really cleaned up Bendis’ mess in a way that worked and sort of reset the series.
This story arc is a culmination of everything that came before it and it’s also an all out war. Honestly, once you get to the end, it feels like you need to let out a very big breath because we’ve reached a definitive conclusion to over 100-plus issues of pretty intense events.
Frankly, this was a prefect ending to a hell of a run. Granted, Daredevil keeps moving forward beyond this but had the series ended, I would’ve been more than satisfied. What a great arc with real meaning and purpose.