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Emerald City (2016)
Note to Hollywood- Not everything needs a Gritty Reboot!
I'm telling you this as a friend, Hollywood, before one of you decides we need a "My Little Pony" gritty reboot. I think you've destroyed enough happy childhood memories with your gritty reboots.
So in this gritty reboot, Toto is a German Shepherd, the Scarecrow is a homicidal maniac who beats people to death, The Wicked Witch of the West is a drug addicted madam of a bordello, and the Wizard is a fat Vincent D'onofrio. Oh, yeah, and Dorothy is hot! And shows lots of cleavage. And packs a gun! (We haven't seen the Tin Man and Lion yet, but I'm sure they won't be pretty, either.)
You know, because we are all gritty and edgy and let's take a dump on the source material.
Seriously, who is the audience for this, exactly?
Superman II (2006)
Meh, the Theatrical Version was better
Keeping in mind they cobbled this off the cutting room floor, it's really the same movie. certain scenes are changed, and it's more closely linked to the first movie.
Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman refused to come back and reshoot their scenes, so this is closer to the original vision of Richard Donner. Missing are some of the more comical scenes. How Lois figures out Clark is Superman is different (but dumber).
Obviously, they didn't retouch this in post, so some of the makeup jobs look pastier.
Okay- the ending. At the end, Superman does the whole "Fly around the Earth and Reverses time" bit so Lois forgets he's Superman and none of the events of the movie happen at all. Except the rude trucker in the dinner. He gets beaten up for something he may or may not remember? It feels like a cheat.
Nope, have to stick with my assessment, the version that came out in 1982 was much better.
Ugh - Campy is not quality
So they took the few cast members from the 1960's Batman series who aren't dead and did an animated version of the series.
And it kind of stunk. Because that Batman isn't compelling as a character, he's just silly. His villains are silly. They also did a few things to add to the silliness, like Aunt Harriet thinks Bruce and Dick are gay. Ha Ha. Less funny when you remember this Robin is a teenager.
Now, it had a few cute moments. Like when Catwoman suggests that she and Batman go to Europe and drink tea, Robin comments about how that would be an unsatisfying ending. (Get it? That was the ending to "The Dark Knight Rises") Or when Batman gets hit on the head and see Three "Catwomen" (A nod to Lee Meriwether and Eartha Kitt, who also played the character in the 1960's)
But you see all the silly gadgets and death traps that were the staples of 1950's- 1960's Batman comics.
The thing is, we've had 40 years since then of comics and movies and animation turning Batman into a serious character. This is like someone finding your Frat pictures after you've become a serious CEO.
Trying too hard
This movie tries to be an edgy Cyber-punk movie about the dangers of technology. It has too much stuff going on, where you just can't follow the plot.
So you have a situation where they've developed Star Trek style Replicators and someone wants to make organic material out of it. Two companies race to the goal, and during the course of some sabotage, one of the designers is copied, but his copy is evil. Because copies are always evil in movies like this.
The dialog is clunky, and there's an outsized role for Ned Beatty, probably because he was the only actor involved anyone has heard of in mainstream movies. That and the girl playing the mannish VR stripper. Not sure why her character was even in there, other than when she was younger, she was big in blue films.
I think another two or three rewrites by people who knew what they were doing could have made this a better movie. And it did have some interesting concepts of what a horrible time 2014 is going to be.
Cool Air (2006)
A Lovecraft Story that didn't need to be adapted
Lovecraft's original story is only about nine pages.
This movie pads it out into a hour and half of boredom, unnecessary characters and a gender switch of the protagonist. (Lovecraft had almost no female characters in his stories.)
It looks like everyone involved in this film was related, and it kind of looks like one of those awful fan films you see on YouTube without the good CGI.
Of course, the movie is made a bit worse by the fact that we know now that "Science doesn't work like that", and they try to add a supernatural element that Lovecraft didn't bother with. (Supernatural elements and C'Thulhu being in his future.) We also see creepy scenes of a narrator hitting on an an autistic girl.
The dialog is just dreadful when they try to add onto Lovecraft's original narrative.
Daughters of Satan (1972)
Tom Selleck in Filipino exploitation theater
So a production company in the Philippines decides to cash in on the Exorcist craze, and makes a movie about witches and stuff.
So an American Art dealer finds a picture of a 16th century witch burning where the head witch looks like his wife, and the other witches look like other women he runs into. And after some whacky encounters his wife is possessed by the witch who wants to kill him because his ancestor burned them. Or something.
This movie is made on the cheap and the best thing I can say is that Selleck is swinging for the fences in his acting. The rest of the cast, American and Filipino alike, seem like they are waiting for their checks to clear. "Oh, I'm topless in this scene? Do I get paid extra for that?"
Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
Once again, a DCAU success
Memo to Warner Brothers and DC.
Fire everyone involved in your live action movies for the DC universe, and hire the people who write and run the animated division to write the scripts.
Once again, Kevin Conroy returns as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker. This is a much more adult story than Batman the Animated Series, but Hamill is at the top of his game, playing the Joker as this mixture of brilliance and madness.
The animation is gorgeous.
I'm taking one point off for the musical number. Other than that, it was pretty good.
Hammy cheese sci-fi
This movie is awful.
So we have this alien society that is about to execute a rebel, even though they all speak colloquial American English, they can't understand humans when they land on Earth.
The scenes on the space station starring a drunken Jan Michael Vincent are actually pretty interesting, but the movie goes down hill when the alien escapee arrives on Earth, and is followed by a truly ridiculous looking female cyborg.
The acting and dialog are terrible, and we don't get any idea of whom we are supposed to be cheering for.
Captive Wild Woman (1943)
The beginning of the Trilogy that you never heard of
this is the first of three movies about Paula the Ape Woman, who probably barely merited one.
This one stars John Carradine, as a mad scientist who uses glands to change a gorilla into a human woman.
The movie also contains a lot of footage of big cat acts from the 1940's that would never be allowed today because of the abuse to the animals involved. Animals were definitely harmed in the making of this film.
When the Mad Scientist kills more people than the Monster, then you probably have a weak monster. Carradine has some great scenery chewing moments, but Aquanetta is just scenery... no dialog and no depth to her character.
Holmes phones it in!
Spoilers if you haven't read the novel or seen one of the 20 or so better adaptations of the story.
Probably one of the poorer adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle's novel, this one has Matt Frewer (a good actor) as Holmes who is absent for most of the movie. While this is close to the original story (which is mostly told from the view of Dr. Watson) Holmes is more absent from this adaptation than he normally is. This one is written in a way where Watson probably would have figured it out for himself given another ten minutes.
I can't give this one a good review, and I love a lot of the quirkier Holmes adaptations... even the one where Watson is a Chinese woman for some reason.