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.  

petsemtary

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

 

shazam

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 Review: Black Panther

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Black Panther has taken the world by storm, both the film and the cologne.  To be frank, I had no desire to see this film.  I also had no desire to see Ant Man and Dr. Strange and was pleasantly surprised by both.  I also had no desire to see Batman V Superman and the first 2 Thor films and hated them all.  I wasn’t familiar with Black Panther growing up; he was as tertiary as Ant Man and Dr. Strange so why make an entire film about him?    It opened on Rotten Tomatoes at 99%; which made me afraid that with today’s racial climate, people would inflate their scores to come off as “woke” and not racist.  Is white guilt playing a role in the success of this film?  Is this going to get the female Ghostbusters/Wonder Woman treatment?  Who shot first, Han or Greedo?  Clearly Greedo shot first and missed and any of you who think otherwise is wrong.

Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to Wakanda, his home country in Africa, after the death of his father in Captain America 3.  Wakenda sits on a treasure trove of Vibranium, the same stuff his suit and Captain America’s shield is made of.  They’re a technologically advanced nation although they hide their success right in plain sight to blend in with the other African nations.  T’Challa becomes king of Wakanda and has his family that supports him in many ways.  His sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), plays Q to Panther’s James Bond.  His mother, (Angela Bassett) is queen of Wakanda.  Daniel Kuluuya (Get Out) plays T’Challa’s best friend and solider.  Panther also has an army of kickass women soldiers that protect him, including his ex, Lupita Nyong’o.  We learn that N’Jobu, Panther’s uncle, was killed while stationed on Earth.  Enter Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan), Panther’s cousin; who is hellbent on revenge for his father’s death and through military training, will stop at nothing to kill T’Challa and take over as King of Wakanda.  Killmonger wants to supply all suppressed minorities around the world with the Vibranium and technology so they can no longer be the little guy.

Are there nods to any of the other Marvel characters?  Very, very few.  Andy Serkis reprises his role as Klaw, an arms dealer who fought off the Avengers in Cap 3.  Other than that, no other call backs to the other Marvel films except the end credits which I won’t spoil.  Now, for the social themes.  A lot of people are talking about the female empowerment in this film.  Those lady bodyguards do kick ass and it’s not contrived one bit.  It’s completely believable and they’re a welcome mixture of action and comedy.  Director Ryan Coogler does a fantastic job of portraying African rituals and pride while spinning the tale of Black Panther.  I’ve seen a lot of people post on social media this is the best comic book film ever.  It’s not.  I’ve seen some people post that Killmonger is the best villain in a comic book film ever.  He’s very, very good but c’mon, not the best.  Heath Ledger as the Joker will be damn near impossible to unseat and I’ll even throw Magneto, Green Goblin,  and Vulture (Michael Keaton) in that group of untouchables.  Is this film as a masterpiece like others pain it to be?  No.  I felt that it drag a tad here and there.  The action was solid, the plot flowed smoothly, and the jokes worked.  But it’s damn solid and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And I’ll bet that you will as well.

Score of 7.5/10

Film Reviews: Baby Driver and The House

Last year was the worst slate of summer films I can ever remember.  How is this summer shaping up?  Not much better.  Transformers 5?  Nope.  Pirates of the Caribbean 5?  No chance.  A rare miss from Tom Cruise with the Mummy.  Baywatch?  No female nudity, no $15 bucks from me.  Alien Covenant?  Netflix.  Wonder Woman?  DC has burned me too many times so Netflix again.  Didn’t bother with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 as the I was one of the few in the minority who didn’t like the first.  With the exception of WW, Alien Covenant, and GOTG2; the summer blockbusters have all underperformed.  I haven’t seen anything this FF8 in the theater so a couple of came out this weekend that appealed to me.

the house

I’m a sucker for gambling stories and comedies.  When I saw Jason Mantzoukas was playing his Raffi from, “The League” character, I couldn’t resist.  The idea of 2 parents not having enough money for college to open up a neighborhood casino is the theme of the film.  Mantzoukas plays the friend who’s trying to get his wife back by inviting them to open said casino.  Poehler and Ferrell are both 2 generic, suburban parents who eventually transform into hardened “criminals” as the plot progresses.  The neighbors come by to gamble, participate in boxing matches, and partake into a Vegas style pool scene.  Nick Kroll plays the role of a councilman, hell bent on shutting down this casino while he’s busy, pilfering from the town’s budget.  Loved Kroll in this as well as, “The League.”  Although every time I see him in something, he looks like a praying mantis.  Oh well, he’s making movies and I’m writing reviews so he wins this battle.

The reviews for this have been AWFUL. I don’t get it, this film is funny throughout without having the typical sappy moments that comedies can have.  Plenty of LOL moments without making cookie cutter jokes.  Ferrell moves through this film with ease and Poehler is pretty solid as well; although she does have a couple, “I’m trying too hard moments.”  But Matzoukas is the star of the show and I think this is the vehicle for him to  get to the next level.  He was underutilized in the League and he can easily move ahead of most of the comic actors on the scene now.

Is this film a must see in the theater?  Definitely not but I’m glad I did.

6.5 out of 10

baby

 

And now, let’s discuss the film that EVERY critic mentioned in their top films of the summer as well as the year.  Edgar Wright wrote Ant Man and directed Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz so his resume may not be as well known the masses but this makes one hell of a entrance theme to the real of public knowledge.  “Baby Driver” is the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort); who is a getaway driver for Kevin Spacey while he pays off his debt to him.  The twist is that Baby who has tinnitus and is constantly listening to music to drown out the ringing in his ears.  His song selection ranges from classic rock, to Jazz, and even to soul.  Interesting choices made by Wright when you would figure that most driving music would be categorized as adrenaline/high energy.  He also has the peculiar habit of recording conversations and mixes them with beats on cassette tapes.  Baby watches over his deaf friend and previous guardian, Joseph, while socking money away to eventually leave.  While eating at a diner, he meets a waitress, Debora, (Lily James) another music enthusiast also looking to get away from everything and everyone.  As previously stated, Baby is a wheelman for local bad guy, Spacey.  Spacey hires Buddy, (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Elza Gonzalez) to rob a bank and Bats (Jamie Foxx) to steal money orders.

The chemistry with all of the actors is fantastic.  Foxx plays a meticulous psychotic quite well.  Hamm and Gonzalez are the modern day Bonnie and Clyde.  Spacey excels as a heinous evil dickhead.  There is a “Heat”-esque element to the film with plenty of nice surprises, twists, and callbacks.  I’d even say it has a nice “Reservoir Dogs” feel but not as dialogue laden as Quentin Tarrantino has been known for.  Of course, things go awry and that’s when this kicks into overdrive.

This film is a great ride and without question, the best so far of the summer.  Then again, that’s not saying much with the crop that’s been released thus far.  I do have higher hopes for the new Spiderman film coming out this week.  And the new Planet of the Apes film also looks promising.  But just like a great meal at an expensive restaurant, the portion sizes are small.

I give it an 8/10

Film review: Batman vs Superman

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Here’s the deal on #batmanvsuperman. I really had no desire to see anything by Zack Snyder ever again. The previews looked unremarkable and did I mention I hate Zack Snyder and consider his films to be lower than Police Academy goes to Moscow? The early critics’ reviews were just as I suspected, scathing.

But I didn’t see this film till easter sunday so I had 2.5 days of peoples’ reviews filling my Facebook newsfeed. The über comic book nerds hated it but I think it also might be due to a major bias against DC. And remember Daniel Tosh’s joke about comic book nerds: “they’ll try and tell you how fast Superman can fly but I can tell them what being in a woman’s vagina feels like.”  So don’t ask their opinion, you’ll just get annoyed and maybe start hating them because of their overbearing passion…just like Bernie Sanders supporters.

So I caved in and saw it because of the multitude of, “the critics overreacted, it’s decent/fine”reviews.  And I’m here to say, the general consensus was right. This film is not as bad as some are making it out to be. This film is alright, maybe fine, but this film definitely has its flaws:

Yes, Affleck isn’t inspiring as Batman. Yes, this film at time feels like forced setup for the JLA film instead of simply  just being in the moment. Yes, Wonder Woman kicks ass without explanation of her powers or origin. Yes, Superman continues to be the penultimate uncharismatic superhero of all. And Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? I wasn’t feeling this choice at all.  He’s more neurotic than I remember Luthor; Gene Hackman, he ain’t.

The fight scenes are what you expect; brow beating you with CGI but hey, it’s a superhero film so fine.  One friend commented that one particular scene in the previews where Batman fights a bunch of henchmen that it’s very, “Arkham Knight-ish.” I agree and enjoyed that sequence.

But this film didn’t suck like Batman or Robin like some make it out to be, it was fine. I’m not buying it on blu ray and I’m glad I paid 7 bucks for it because I saw it at 11:30am. Does this make me anticipate JLA with higher hopes? Slightly but since I’m a gambler, I’m betting on Snyder’s past trend of stinkaroo films. But for now, he gets a SLIGHT reprieve.