Double Dip Film Reviews: Pet Semetary and Shazam!

Yep, been a little while.  But don’t blame me, blame the slop we’ve been forced to sit through since the new year:  

I watched “Aquaman”, meh.  I did see, “Fighting With My Family.”  Enjoyed it and a nice chunk was the few scenes the Rock was in.  Vince Vaughn also solid in this.  Those are words not many people have written in over 10 years.  Also saw “Captain Marvel.”  Look, it wasn’t as bad as some people made it out to be but it certainly wasn’t good.  And the only thing missing was Samuel L Jackson wearing a postman’s uniform in that film.  Cause he mailed that shit in, big time.  The jokes failed, big time.  But they had the best Stan Lee cameo, big time.  

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Honestly is the best policy, except when it comes to dealing with your wife.  I had no desire to see the new Pet Semetary film.  Never read the book, never saw the original film.  But the reviews were coming in much more positively than I expected.  I also expect the Stephen King remakes will be held to a higher caliber as It was fantastic.  So here we go:

Louis Creed (Jason Clarke of the unfortunate Terminator: Genisys) is moving his family up to the country.  Wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and kids Ellie and Gage (Jete Laurence and Hugo Lavoie) along with their cat, Church which is short for Churchill.  No reason given for naming the cat after a Gary Oldman character.  The house the family move into happens to be adjacent to a creepy pet cemetery.  Next door lives Jud (John Lithgow from the evergreen Harry and the Hendersons) who just may know what exactly is going on with said cemetery.  

Cue things going bump in the night, premonitions, the usual suspects of horror films.  Poor Church decides to go one on with a tractor trailer and ends up like a Mortal Kombat Fatality victim.  Neighbor Jud (who would ever saddle their kid with that name) suggests that burying the cat beyond the pet cemetery may benefit the Creed family.  Well guess what?  That’s an Indian burial ground past the cemetery and good ol’ Church just happens to cash in on 1 of the 9 lives.  Although he looks like he just spent all night raging at a fraternity party and ripping off 14 straight wins in beer pong.  Oh wait, that was me, 20 years ago.  

I’ll bet you, gentle reader, that you think that even though that Church may not be the same lovable feline he was before the resurrection.  And you’d be right.  He hisses and scratches more people than a 14 year old girl in a lunchroom brawl.  And then this of course, sends everyone into a panic and more bad things start to happen.  Apparently, one of the major events was changed from the book to this film and yes, King gave his blessing for the change.  And now we’ve crossed into spoiler territory so I shall now circle the wagons.

This film is enjoyable, it delivered what it promised.  Gave me a few jumps, not any cheap scares.  Foresaw most of the ending but the very end, didn’t see that angle.  I did wish they better explained the scene with the procession of children wearing pet masks and why they were doing it.  Otherwise, it’s a fine and fun watch.  Must you see it in a theater?  Not a must.  Will you feel disappointed after dropping $15 on it?  I don’t think so.  

6.5 out of 10

 

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DC Films is like the Sword in the Stone.  Many people tried pulling out the sword without success as DC has pumped out poor film after mediocre/decent film.  Man of Steel, Justice League, Suicide Squad, Batman v Superman…all awful.  Wonder Woman was fine, Aquaman was meh.  And now we have, Shazam.  The guy anyone barely remembers from the Justice League cartoon but had one hell of an entrance.  Now DC drops this into our collective laps, hoping this bird flies after being thrown out of the nest instead of crashing to earth. Avengers: Endgame is out in 3 weeks, this is their only chance to get a hold of something until the Joker comes out in fall.  How does it fare?  Let’s go to the videotape!  

Shazam is the story of Billy Batson, a 14 year old foster kid constantly looking for his mother whom he lost at a winter fair when he was 3.  Billy finds himself escaping bullies on a subway in Philadelphia (No, his superpowers aren’t avoiding white trash or mouth breathing Eagles fans) when he’s suddenly transported to a wizard, also a Shazam, seeking a replacement for his powers.  By yelling, “Shazam!”, Billy turns into the bigger and even older superhero.  The lighthearted approach of discovering Shazam’s superpowers as well as coming of life experiences with his fellow foster brother Freddy Freeman (Jack Glazer) pays off in spades.  The trial and error method while the boys upload their videos to youtube is quite humorous.  It’s kind of Deadpool-ish without the R rated dick jokes.  Not that I’m opposed to them by any stretch though.  What’s the second most important aspect of a superhero film?  Tits.  Just kidding.  Well, they never have those in films unless it’s Barb Wire which was nothing short of a method of torture outlawed by the Geneva Convention.  The villain, you chowderheads!  Mark Strong plays Thaddeus Silvana, one who was also was interviewed by the previous Shazam wizard but had failed the test.  He wants that power and goddamnit, he’s not stopping at nothing to get it.  Silvana enlists the help of the 7 Deadly Sins who are lizard-like that are named after the, ding, 7 deadly sins.  

Well, let’s give credit where credit is due.  This film breaks the streak of shitty/mediocre DC films not named Batman.  Bale, not Affleck.  C’mon, we’re civilized here.  This film is rock solid except for the final battle does lag a bit.  I also observed Batson’s foster family noticeably checks the multicultural boxes: Asian boy, Asian girl, black girl, Hispanic boy, Samoan dad, Hispanic mom, white girl, white guy.  This film hits all marks and finally correctly copies from the Marvel playbook.  Funny how DC has a better film out there now than Marvel does.  I’m MOST shocked that this made ~54 million opening weekend while Aquaman opened to 67 million.  This film is FAR superior to that bread sandwich.

7.5 out of 10 

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Film reviews: Won’t You Be My Neighbor and Incredibles 2

We’re in mid-June, right in the sweet spot for summer film releases.  The last few years have had weaker slates of films.  How are we looking for summer 2018?  Pretty darn good, enough to keep you busy so you won’t have to pretend to give a shit about the World Cup.  Let’s stop the charade, people.  You only to claim to care about soccer during the world cup just to seem appeasing to Europeans and temporarily enjoying a sport primarily for 7 year olds.  

Avengers 3: Amazing

A Quiet Place: Solid

Deadpool 2: Solid

Solo: Fine 

I’ve heard Hereditary was excellent and Ocean’s 8 is surprisingly good.  And in the next few weeks:

Jurassic Park 34: Laura Dern’s crow’s feet look like she fought a raptor.

Sicario 2: A solid attempt to make us forget about the complete waste of time Benicio Del Toro was in Last Jedi.

This week, a documentary and a sequel blockbuster.  

Here I am, recreating the infamous shoe flip.35363327_10217446230854565_32544891347140608_o

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

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Congratulations go to this film as the only trailer that made me tear up.  30 seconds in and I’m welling up like being stuck in a car with someone cutting Indian food fueled farts.  You see, Mr Rogers and Sesame Street formed my early years of TV watching.  Those shows as well as Card Sharks, Press Your Luck, and Price is Right.  I had a thing for Plinko, Barker’s beauties, and white trash getting excited about winning a 1984 Toyota Corolla.  Mr Roger’s Neighborhood was one of my childhood memories that always bring a smile to my face.  He always made you feel safe and appreciated.  Mr Rogers hit on social issues like Vietnam, RFK’s death, and racial harmony.  He even un-retired to discuss 9/11 for his audience.  If he were alive today, I could easily see him talking to children about lockdowns in schools.   He TRULY gave a shit about kids and their feelings as well as fears.  Mr Rogers is one of the celebrities that would break my heart if he was ever outed as a pervert, child neglector, or Eagles fan.  

The film begins as he embarks on his post college career, deciding to get into TV over seminary school.  Mr Rogers eventually became an ordained minister and one fun fact is everyone interviewed made sure to disclose he never shoved religion down your throat nor through his show.  But you can see from his roots that his dedication to helping kids navigate through childhood was second to none.  It didn’t take long for his show to make its way to the stratosphere.  One scene you just can’t help your lip from quivering is where a little girl comes up to him and says, “Mr. Rogers, can I tell you something?  I like you.”  And he says, “I like you too.”  You see him visiting with countless sick children and watching their unbridled joy as he pulls out his puppets to temporarily brighten their lives.

Everyone from Fred’s wife and kids to cast and crew talk about him in the highest regard.  Yes, he was “like that” all the time.  No, he wasn’t gay.  You can thank him for saving PBS by testifying in front of a cranky Senator and swaying him with an inspiring tale of the importance of children’s programs.  One story they didn’t breach is the tale of how his car was stolen but once the thieves realized that the car belonged to Mr. Rogers, they immediately returned it with an apologetic note.  After googling (the only way to verify anything by reading the top 2 entries), this story was never verified by any of his family or close friends.  Mr Rogers also never spoke of this incident.  

And this goes out to the MPAA: How in the flying fuck is this film rated PG-13?  I believe they said, “ass” once.  They showed clips of someone saying dick and bastard.  Some footage of the Vietnam War and they showed a picture of a crew member mooning the camera.  THAT gets a PG-13?  You people need to remove that eyelash from your nether regions and calm down.

This film is nothing short of nostalgic magic.  The opening theme song got me teared up.  Him visiting kids, changing his shoes and clothes, as well as talking about horrific events in the news make your eyes puff up.  And hearing, “It’s Such a Good Feeling,” to end the film had the tears flowing too.  I don’t believe in God whatsoever.  BUT if there was one person who should be canonized and is as perfect as a person you could create, it’s Fred Rogers.  The man truly inspires others, even in death, to be better and caring.  My daughter just turned 3 and she’s a rabid Daniel Tiger fan, an offshoot cartoon of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  And I can’t wait until to show her MRN reruns on youtube.  I’ll just have a box of tissues nearby, just like when I watch ET again for the 193rd time.  Now excuse me while I go watch Bloodsport and Commando to get this lump out of my throat.

Absolutely loved this film and have tissues at arms length, 9/10.

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Pixar has birthed an insane number of hits: Toy Story 1-3, Coco, Monster Inc 1 and 2, and of course, the Incredibles.  Besides Marvel, name a studio that has this high of a batting average.  I get it, each of those studios only release 2-3 films a year but when they do come out, it’s rarely below “good.”  14 years later, the sequel has come out with all of the main voices returning: Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter (her lisp is quite noticeable at times), and Samuel L Jackson.  The Incredibles are a family of superheroes and in this installment, they learn the baby of the family, Jack Jack, has not one but multiple superpowers.  Mom/Elasticgirl is tasked with joining a pilot program to help lift the ban on superheroes; financed and created by Winston Deavor and his sister, Evelyn, voiced  Saul Goodman and Catherine Keener.  Which leaves Mr Incredible to watch the kids while Mom is off fighting crime and enjoying her time in the spotlight.

I didn’t rewatch the first Incredibles before seeing this but I felt it captured all of the fun elements from the first one.  Watching Mr. Incredible play Mr. Mom is quite funny as well as helping his daughter, Violet, get over a boy standing her up is also quite amusing.  I found myself trying to figure out where the reveal is with the villain and the motive throughout the film instead of enjoying the ride.  Brad Bird, who also wrote and directed the first one, does a great job of the reveal and ends with a flourish.  

There’s no need to break this film down any further, you get exactly what you come in expecting from this franchise and studio:  a smart, well-written script infused with humor and leaving wanting more.  Although this film clocks in at just under 2 hours, it’s still a well paced ride.  My only ask is that they don’t wait another 14 years for Incredibles 3.  And they will as it’s grossed 180 million opening weekend.  Hear that?  That’s Disney executives high fiving over another money printing press is firing on all cylinders.

Fantastic watch, 8/10.

 

Film reviews: It and Kingsmen: Golden Circle. And oh yeah, theater etiquette

 

Finally, 2 films worth seeing in the theater.  And I have to take a brief timeout to make the following declarations/observations.  I don’t remember movie theater behavior as bad as it has been in the last 10 years.  When did we regress as a society?  When in doubt, shut the fuck up.  No one who paid 15 bucks wants to hear you or your friends’ “witty” retorts as the film goes on.  You don’t need to repeat the funny lines either.  Just shut up.  You wanna ask someone what they just said, you get a, “one time” for the entire film.  We don’t need a running play by play.  And when it comes to food, chew with your mouth closed.  No one wants to hear you chomp like a cow chewing cud.  And if you are dumb enough to overpay for movie theater candy, open it before the film starts.  Or just RIP it open, don’t try and jiggle it open.  The crinkle sound it makes everyone in the theater want to follow you to your car and slash 3 of your tires.  Isn’t it hilarious how theaters preach silence but sell the loudest food and boxes with the nosiest packaging?  And people wonder why video piracy is on the rise.  You can put lounge chairs and improve the food but until you start screening out retards from talking in the theaters, you can expect lower profits.  You want people coming back into the theater?  Have someone in the theater who will throw you out after one warning.  And any person who works for a theater who sells tickets to parents bringing in a kid under the age of 10 to an R rated film after 9pm should be fired.  Then whipped.  Then set on fire.  And then have DYFUS called on the parents.

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A Stephen King film makes its way back to the cineplex.  And not soon enough as King’s recent string of films made from his novels have been straight up abortions.  His last good film was, “Misery”, which was 1990.  Yeah, the last time he made a good film, the Dallas Cowboys were good.  THAT long.  If you don’t know the story, a group of misfit kids discover a clown by the name of Pennywise (fantastic band) has been terrorizing Derry, Maine for almost 100 years by killing kids every 27 years.  I didn’t read the book (I will now) but I did see the miniseries on ABC from 20 plus years ago.  Obviously, you can get away with a lot more in the theater with an R rating than on channel 7.

Bill Skarsgaard plays said clown while a bunch of nobody actors play the kids.  My favorite kid of the ragtag bunch is the character, Richie Tozier.  He’s a mini Stiffler from American Pie, whipping out literal LOL moments throughout the film.  And he plays Street Fighter in the movie theater arcade?  My kinda guy, you’ll love him.  Here’s why “It” works.  It doesn’t resort to cheap jump cuts with a sound effect to scare you.  The plot itself is legit scary, even the B and C plot lines.  The drama generically builds and you enjoy the ride and even though you may not jump, the horror in itself is also in what these kids go through in their home lives.  The overbearing mother.  The pedophile dad.  The brother of the deceased kid.

Here’s what else I loved about the film, it takes place in 1989.  And you see TONS of nods to the era.  The local theater is playing Batman and Lethal Weapon 2 and later on, Nightmare on Elm Street 5.  The arcade has Street Fighter.  And a few funny callbacks to New Kids on the Block.  Richie Tozier is wearing an Airwolf t-shirt (love that show.  The nostalgia brought a smile to my face when they weren’t being chased or chasing a demonic clown.

Fair warning: you’re not getting the whole story in this film. You’re only getting the kids experience Pennywise as they’re doing a separate film when the adults fight the clown.

This is a smart and well done horror film.  It flows nicely and being the books is longer than most, it was wise to break this into 2 films as it would’ve been too jammed to do it all in one.  I didn’t read the book but I will.  I’ve been told by those who love the book that aside from a few details that had minor impact, this film is very true to the book.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and look very forward to the 2nd half.

I give it a 7 out of 10.

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Next up, the only other film I looked forward to seeing in the Sept-November timeframe. I loved the first Kingsman film.  The tongue in cheek factor, smart writing, irreverence, and ORIGINAL spy/action hero themes made for a fantastic film.  So when they announced the sequel, I was enthusiastic.  Everyone is back, even Colin Firth who “died” in the first one.  Without spoiling, I felt his explanation of returning from the dead was a bit lazy.  It wasn’t, “That was my twin brother” lazy but still, unremarkable.  Julianne Moore plays a Pollyanna-esque drug lord who created a small city of 50’s themed diners/theaters.  The Kingsmen are nearly completely destroyed sans Eggsy and Merlin.  They discover they have American cohorts, The Frontsmen, and visit them for help against Moore’s poisoning the world through narcotics.

Here’s what I liked: the way Firth needs to remember how he was a Kingsman was pretty slick.  The action is fine and of course, more dirty humor makes this different than most spy films.  They definitely try to zag with the script when you think a zig is going to happen.  I also appreciated the Frontsmen and Jeff Bridges as their boss works great.  They set it up nicely for future collaborations.

But here’s where the film misses.  The victim stance on drug users is overly propagandistic and at times, a bit much to swallow for a film that you just want to sit back and shut off most of your brain.  And Moore’s villain backstory, I’m not buying it.  I get that it’s hard to be original when it comes to the origin story or reasoning with super villains trying to blackmail the USA.  Which is why I loved the theme in the first film where Samuel L gave away free phone access via a chip implanted into peoples’ heads which in turn made them violent zombies.  That was a more fun take on society, showing how we are almost helpless without our phones.  But in the sequel, poisoning the drug supply felt like an easy way out.  And this film clocks in at just under 2.5 hours but it DRAAAAAGS.  They could’ve whittled 15-20 minutes off of this and not spoiled the end product.  Lastly, the Elton John cameos were a bit much.  They have him fighting off bad guys in the end?  He’s a flamboyant piano player, I just didn’t feel it fit and become a tired act after seeing him in more than 2 scenes.

Did I like it?  It’s fine but definitely not better than the first.  You’ll want to see if you liked the first but you’re not walking out with the same warm feelings that the first one gave you either.  I think if they make a third; it’s going to be REALLY bad, despite the nice setup the Frontsmen gives another film  Cash those chips in and move on, Matthew Vaughn.

I give it a 6.5 out of 10