Category: Fantasy Movies

Star Wars: Episode IX Trailer Drops! Can it UNITE the Fans?

So today we finally got the first trailer to Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, yeah…that’s seriously the name of it. Has anyone else noticed that the “Rise of” phrase in big Hollywood blockbusters franchises is just maybe a TAD overused these days?!! Terminator: ‘Rise of the Machines’, Gi Joe: ‘Rise of Corbra’, ‘Rise of the Guardians’, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance, Fantastic Four: ‘Rise of the Silver Surfer’, 300: ‘Rise of an Empire’, Underworld: ‘Rise of the Lycans”, Transformers: ‘Rise of the Dark Spark’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’…..need I go on?! I mean I guess everything in Hollywood is fucking “rising” these days huh?! Good for them I suppose! So aside from Episode IX’s embarrassing title, check out this trailer if for some reason you haven’t already:

 

So after, what to me was the most disappointing sequel in movie history, ‘The Last Jedi’, we are now eagerly(?) awaiting the conclusion to this messy trilogy. JJ Abrams is back again folks, finishing what he started and as much of a fan as I was of ‘The Force Awakens’ when it debuted, I’m gonna admit, it was by no means great, inspiring story telling. Instead it was yet another rather bland Hollywood reboot/remake disguised as a sequel that managed to tug my nostalgic heart strings at all the right moments. So in that aspect story wise at least, it fits perfectly with it’s even messier, more uninspired story telling of it’s sequel. So this latest ‘Rise of Skywalker’ trailer seems to be trying it’s best to rope fans wallet’s back into the franchise, who after the last movie, found themselves a bit underwhelmed with the direction of things. Overall I think the trailer does a decent job at accomplishing it’s goal, I’m not going to sit this one out at the theater like some have threatened to do, but I still won’t be rushing out to stand in line for it opening night either. At least not yet. At the very least I’m intrigued at how this trilogy is going to try and find some sort of originality in the third and final chapter. AAfter two movies I’m not very invested in any of the new characters, but at least they throw us some Lando, Chewy, Leia and C3P0 in this. I’m not being an old grumpy original trilogy purist either, I was fully down and ready to fall in love with the new characters.

However, these new Star Wars movies are now feeling less like an epic event and more like another attempted cash grab reboot of a once beloved 80’s franchise we’re continuously spoon fed by Hollywood. I do I think that the laugh of Palpatine at the end of the trailer is a good sign that JJ devised a plan that he thinks will rope in any straying disgruntled Star Wars fan. I’m admitting I’m curious what’s going on here, I hope it somehow feels cohesive with what came before, as it’s started talk of Palpatine’s possible return in the flesh for the final installment. I’m giving this trailer a solid ‘B’. It didn’t blow my mind but it has gotten the wheels turning in my brain again pondering how this Star Wars “Saga” will end and more so if they can unite divided fans. As long as it NOT mirroring ‘Return of the Jedi’ I think it’s got a chance because at this point literally anything in my opinion will be better than the last installment…. 

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RIP John Carl Buechler: Remembering His Amazing Movie Monsters!!

Yesterday we heard the news of master special effects artist / director John Carl Buechler’s passing & it reminded me once again of just how amazing his work in the industry was and just how many of the movies he was involved with have been a huge part of growing up. From cult classics like Troll, Dolls & The Dungeonmaster to arguably the best installment of Friday The 13th, Part VII: The New Blood to Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, his work has brought me soooo much joy throughout my life as a movie maniac.

As one of the biggest fans of monster movies, he brought some of the best to the big and small screen. It led me to comb Youtube for some choice clips of his that feature some of my favorite creations of his. They just don’t make em’ like this anymore, Mr. Buechler you will be missed but your incredible creatures will live on forever, that is for sure…

 

 

 

The New HELLBOY Trailer Fails Again to Capture the True HELLBOY Vibe!!

Ok, I went from insanely excited about a reboot of Hellboy to now wishing that Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman were back again instead for a third installment. I loved the del Toro Hellboy movies but also recognized that they really didn’t capture the true tone of Mike Mignola’s visionary comic book series. Visually they were damn near perfect but I’d always hoped for a darker version of Hellboy to appear onscreen as a fan of the source material. I was positive that latest director Neil Marshall was finally gonna deliver the goods. I’m a huge fan of his debut werewolf flick ‘Dog Soldiers’ and his companion piece ‘The Descent’ was just as damn good. From the start, Marshall made many claims that this new version of Hellboy was going to have the feel of the comic books, much darker, gothic and less comedic than del Toro’s lighter take on the series. Well now after seeing both trailers for the movie at this point it seems the new incarnation of Hellboy is more or less the same take on the character we got from the previous films. At least from what the trailers reveal.

The only thing that feels different is the dropping of the ‘F-word’ and some shoddy CGI blood sprinkled about in the trailer. Heck it even seems as if David Harbour is doing a full on Ron Perlman impersonation and the wacky comedy seems just as prevalent (if not more so) here in the two trailers as it was in the del Toro movies. Why even replace Ron at this point if you’re just gonna do the same take on the character? Sure Harbour’s version appears to be not quite as cute visually but it still feels basically just like Ron. The trailer’s got a cheaper production quality as well in my opinion, dare I say a more generic vibe to it as well when you compare it del Toro’s perfect gothic style. 

I was also a bit surprised to see just how CG heavy this footage was, Neil Marshall had originally boasted the movie was going to largely utilize practical effects over digital to give it a more real world feel. Instead I’m seeing a lot of truly subpar standard Hollywood  digital effects at play here and it’s making me miss del Toro’s vision all the more. I’m gonna call it here, a prediction that Hellboy is going to flop. The one thing the first two movies had going for it were that they really stood out from the crowd, while this so far looks sadly like another bland Hollywood blockbuster.

I’d also heard that Mike Mignola, (the creator of the character/legendary artist), stated early on that this movie was much more in line with his vision of the character that the previous installments. I’m not sure as he’d stated that quite some time ago, if perhaps the production somewhat switched gears and now we’re getting a more standard “what you’d expect” from a big Hollywood production. The comic books are are truly incredible and anyone who’s only familiar with the movies might be quite surprised at how different the tone of them are from movies. I’m hoping I’m wrong and that there’s a real Hellboy movie here that hasn’t been presented in these two trailers. I’m still going to see it, but man am I disappointed with what I’ve seen so far. Any other fans of the comic book out there feel the same way or disagree? Let me know!      

 

Star Wars Episode IX: Hopes & Predictions Part 2!

Hey! Here we are with part two of my hopes and predictions for Star Wars Episode IX, this next installment is quite a deal breaker for the franchise’s future. The Last Jedi was a polarizing film and JJ really needs to rope all the fans back into the arena and get everyone to stop bickering and name calling. How’s he going to accomplish this? Well the last installment I focused on Luke, Rey &  Kylo and what I hope to see from them in the next movie, I also included what I think though will actually end up being the case for the characters. One things clear, there’s a lot of fans who’re lacking the enthusiasm they once had for Star Wars, so let’s take a look at some of the remaining characters and figure out just what’d be the winning recipe for Episode IX that just might bring back the disgruntled customers to the franchise!  

Finn

I loved Finn in The Force Awakens, his character was totally likable and his back story was actually pretty unique as well. Sadly in The Last Jedi he was given a pretty uninspiring side quest that went nowhere not fast enough. I continue to think of all the other more compelling scenarios that could’ve been thought up instead of the whole casino thing and that whole being arrested for parking his ship illegally on the beach and thrown into jail thing. Uggh…such bad writing in my opinion. I hope in Episode IX Finn gets a little more respect and is given a more interesting story arc. I also hope he’s given another chance to wield a lightsaber, he’s got serious potential and needs one of his own for sure. In my opinion also he’d be the best love interest for Rey, him and Rose had absolutely zero chemistry.

Prediction:

Finn’s going to be given serious redemption and JJ’s gonna for sure have a rewarding adventure for him to embark on as well this time around. I’m predicting he’ll use a lightsaber again as well at some point in the movie. He’ll also spend a lot more time with Rey as the two of them had sweet chemistry together in The Force Awakens, I’m also predicting they’ll have some sort of love connection, it makes a lot more sense than the whole “Reylo” theory. I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually saves Rey from Kylo in the first lightsaber duel in the next movie. Whatever the case he’s gonna be utilized in a much more compelling way this time around. I’m guessing that his “relationship” with Rose will be headed into the “friend zone” in the next film.

 

The Remaining Original Trilogy Characters: Leia, Chewy, Lando, R2D2 & C3P0

Oh how I’d love these characters to get their chance to really shine one more time. It’s a shame how they’ve been shoved to the background especially in the last movie. I’m hoping Chewy gets a ton more screen time and is included this time around as a real supporting character. He was barely in The Last Jedi and when he was he was simply utilized for quick “porg humor”. This time I hope he’s actually in on the action, teaming up and sharing the screen with Lando in the Falcon.

Speaking of Lando I’m hoping he get’s more than a quick cameo, give him a substantial role and perhaps pair him up with the remaining classic cast members. I think it’d be interesting if Lando was so angered by Han’s death that he was fueled to want revenge against Kylo. That’s a scenario we could really feel for his character. Also let’s get C3P0 and R2D2 in this damn movie more, am I the ONLY one who thinks these two need more screen time?! These droids are truly iconic & what’d be amazing would be if Luke didn’t die and could be teamed with the droids and Chewy once again. That however for some reason seems like wishful thinking at this point.

Lastly Leia, sadly there’s not much they can really do with her at this point, they’ve got some footage they can splice etc but since she was pushed to the background in The Last Jedi sadly we’re left with whatever JJ’s got in the vaults. I’d have loved to have seen her use the Force in a different way, I think it would have been amazing if it had been revealed that Luke had indeed trained her as a Jedi (like in the Legends/EU material) and she’d pulled out a lightsaber in The Last Jedi rather than oddly flying through space. But hey that’s just my opinion. All in all I hope they showcase the classic characters more this time around-people still LOVE them!! Continue reading

Star Wars Episode IX: Predictions and Hopes Part One!

Ok folks, so obviously we don’t need to discuss ‘The Last Jedi’ anymore, it’s been debated to death! I’ll just say one last time, I thought it was a HUGE disappointment and with each viewing it’s gotten even worse for me personally. That being said, if you think it’s the next best thing since sliced bread I’m not gonna argue with you, it just really a matter of taste. However whatever you think of ‘Episode 8’ one thing is clear, the movie has divided fans & put the Disney Star Wars franchise into serious turmoil. Episode IX is really a make or break film with a lot riding on it’s shoulders. Another major blunder on the last episode of the ‘Skywalker saga’ could seriously tank the whole operation or at least put it under ice for a while if it under performs at the box office. The last thing they need is more bickering, name calling and heated debate within the fan base. So as a reasonable fan of the franchise, who felt that the last installment was the most disappointing sequel in movie history, I’d like to list a few of my hopes and predictions for this controversial movie, Episode IX!

 

LUKE SKYWALKER:

To say I was disappointed with Luke in The Last Jedi is an understatement! Many of us have waited 34 years to see Luke again, one of the most iconic movie heroes in pop culture, as I understand things change sometimes in that amount of time, I think the chance of utilizing Mark Hamill as Luke one last time was fully and carelessly wasted by Rian Johnson. So in Episode IX, I really only have one true hope, that somehow Luke did not actually die. Imagine the excitement in the theater among fans, if someone stepped from the shadows in a pivotal moment, pulled back his hood & revealed he was Luke Skywalker alive in the flesh?! It’d be one of the best twists in the saga and probably movie history. Imagine him igniting his lightsaber to be a real part of the action-fans would go nuts.

Let’s face it, one thing we’ve learned from this third trilogy is that fans wanted more of the original characters, why not utilize them one LAST time instead of hiding them. Rian Johnson kept Leia in a damn coma for most of The Last Jedi, bad move dude! Give us Hamill as the iconic character one last time, let him use his damn lightsaber, stop worrying about him stealing the thunder of the new characters. listen to the fan base like Marvel does. The easiest character to bring back in the next movie is indeed Luke, it makes the most sense, he simply vanished (ahem…with his robotic hand), perhaps he utilized a never before seen force power? Whatever the case, living Luke will be the biggest step in repairing the damage, and who the hell wouldn’t love on last adventure with Luke Skywalker?! This seems like a no-brainer….

Prediction:

Though the idea to bring back Luke in the flesh seems like the obvious thing to do, it’s also what fans at this point are least expecting to happen. What I think’ll likely be the case is that Luke will indeed be a Force Ghost, coming and going throughout the movie to speak to Rey and Kylo. I think JJ will try and excite fans by showing flashbacks of Luke in the past, Hamill de-aged digitally, using his lightsaber and dealing with Kylo when he was in training. He might also throw in Luke’s force ghost in the end to do some sort of force lightning or something snazzy to help out Rey when she’s in a pinch. Though the flashbacks would be interesting and surely enhance the plot, they should have done something like this in ‘The Last Jedi’ to make the Luke / Kylo dynamic hold some weight and emotion. The idea of a force ghost Luke just doesn’t do it for me, bring him back for real one last time for the fans.

 

KYLO REN

So we all know Kylo and Rey will have a rematch but seriously Kylo has already lost at every evil thing he’s attempted, except for killing his dad. So far he seems like a pretty inept villain. I’d at this point like to see the emo man baby actually pull off some sinister shit for once. I’m actually kinda rooting for him, I’m hoping that this next installment can make him into a truly fierce & imposing villain because as it stands right now he’s just a failing bad guy who throws ridiculous temper tantrums. I also hope he stays bad to the bone and is unable to be redeemed, at least then it’d explain why Luke for some reason wanted to murder him in his sleep.

I’d also like to see Kylo with a damn mask again, at least when going into public or battle to protect himself, now that Snoke is gone he can wear that shit like he wanted to from the start without his boss ripping on him all the time. Even better would be if Kylo’s appearance was being affected by the dark side of the force and his face was beginning to look more messed up like Emperor Palpatine. That would add a truly frightening side to the character as someone who was truly evil and past the point of no return. They’ve gotta do something with him to make him a convincing villain now that Snoke is cut in two. I’d like to see Kylo either bite the dust at the end or actually win!

Prediction:

I think JJ will indeed be making some changes to Ren to make him a more fearsome villain, I assume as well he’s got to pull off some truly epically evil stuff as well as beating Rey in a lightsaber battle near the middle of the movie. I mean Rey has got to be defeated at some point to bring some sort suspense to the plot right? So I think Ren will indeed get his moment to win early on, however I think he’ll also get his redemption near the end. I think there’s going to be some other larger threat that will force Ren to become ‘Ben Solo’ again. My guess is he’s going to sacrifice himself at the end for the greater good.

REY

I’d like to see Rey finally have some real struggle, maybe too little too late for anyone to care but in order for me to personally get invested in her character at this point I’m going to have to believe that she’s in some sort of real danger and can actually be defeated. So far she’s been able to pretty much do anything she wants with little to no effort, whether beating Kylo Ren in a lightsaber duel the first time, picking up huge boulders to save everyone, being an ace piloting the Falcon the first time etc.

I’m hoping for some real turmoil for her character. At this point I’m not really concerned about who her parents are but it’d be nice for them to explain why she’s been able to kick so much ass without the experience needed to do so. I’m not too invested in her character after TLJ, though I did though really enjoy her arc in ‘The Force Awakens’, but in my opinion she hasn’t had much of a struggle in the first two movies. Everything has come a bit too easy thus far at least.

Prediction:

Rey will indeed do some “failing” finally in the last installment, if not the character will continue to be ridiculed and be called a “Mary Sue” by triggered fans. The movies so far have gotten too much negativity about her character being unstoppable & I don’t think they can just keep having her win at everything. I also think JJ will indeed give us a reason why she seems so naturally powerful, one that I believe he had in mind from the start. I also think Ren was simply lying to her about being a nobody. There will indeed be a big reveal about her past that will explain why she became a bad ass without any sort of training. Yes in the end I believe she will turn Kylo from the dark side and the two will team up against a “new threat” at the end of the movie.

Ok Stay tuned for part 2  cuz there’s lots more to chat about! Let me know what you think & if you are excited for Episode IX!

 

 

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ‘Re-Edit’ Trailer Arrives!!

So as most of you all have probably heard by now, ‘The Last Jedi’ was a pretty divisive film to say the least. Star Wars will likely never be quite the same because of it, to some that’s a good thing, but to most the movie was seen as a huge disappointment. A lot now rides on the shoulders of JJ’s upcoming Episode 9 and many seem to think the damage to the franchise simply can’t be repaired. I myself was not a fan of ‘The Last Jedi’ in the least, which was perplexing as the original trailer made the movie appear to be something completely different from what we ultimately ended up with. The treatment of beloved classic characters like Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Leia & Admiral Ackbar enraged longtime fans & shoddy storytelling paired with jarring attempts at comedy helped to sink Episode 8 to new depths most haven’t seen since the days of the prequels. Luckily someone has stepped up to the plate to entirely re-edit the movie, Ivan Ortega (who edits movies for a living), whom I’ve been following since the start of his Youtube channel ‘Film Fix’ has been working hard on this for the better part of 2018.

He’s shown several times on his channel edits he’s done that drastically alter the narrative of the movie and seemingly breath new life into The Last Jedi. His approach puts a heavier focus upon Luke Skywalker, something many fans including myself had been hoping for all along since this latest trilogy was announced . Ortega though has not just re-edited The Last Jedi, he’s also apparently filmed new material, one being an extended fight sequence between Luke & Kylo, one where lightsabers actually clash and real contact is made between the two combatants. He’s also given Admiral Ackbar more screen time and true purpose in this new version. I suggest checking out his channel to see exactly how it’s being done as it’s truly fascinating. The new Edit is very close to completion and today we get the official ‘re-edit trailer’ for his labor of love. I’m so damn excited to check out the full version, as it seems his approach is more in line with Lucas’ original vision, given the material he had to work with. Check this out and watch closely for all the changes that were made to shift the movie more in line with the spirit of the original trilogy!!

 

 

‘Mandy’ Movie Review: Nic Cage Battles Crazy Jesus Freaks & Biker Demons!

Wow, my mind has officially been blown by Panos Cosmatos’ second feature film ‘Mandy’! I was lucky enough to catch it this crazy ass flick last Sunday evening at Cinema 21 here in Portland with a rowdy packed theater. I’m damn glad I decided to make a run to the cinema rather than renting this online ‘cuz in my opinion that’s the absolute best way to see this one for the first time. After watching the steaming pile of crap that was ‘The Predator’ at a matinee Friday, a movie like Mandy was a complete and total breath of fresh air. I guess the best thing to say here is this movie may not be for everyone, but if you’re ready to take one of the craziest mind bending cinematic journeys of the last couple decades then you’re gonna fucking love it. Hell even the poster is awesome!

Mandy is a completely insane revenge flick set in the early 80’s and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. I’m so used to seeing big crappy Hollywood blockbusters in the theater, so this was a bit of of a welcome shock to my noggin. The whole movie plays out like an uncomfortable fever dream, with Nicholas Cage as a logger named “Red” who lives out in the Pacific Northwest with his beautiful but eerily mesmerizing girlfriend Mandy. They live a quiet, serene life in an incredibly strange home in the middle of the woods, with large glass walls that bring to mind elements of a real life fairy tale. Everything’s dark yet overly drenched in vibrant hues of reds, purples & thick lush colors creating a surreal landscape that feels like a dream put right on the screen in front of you. It’s a spectacle to behold and it’s clear from the start that Red & Mandy have been through a lot together, sharing a truly special bond in their secluded life. Mandy works at a nearby convenience store, wears cool heavy metal tees and loses herself in fantasy novels while Red spends his time chopping down trees with his chainsaw. The two of them are pictured intently watching 80’s horror flicks together (NIGHTBEAST!), chatting about what their favorite planets are, showing they’re living a rather sweet, simple and innocent life together at this point.

Well shit majorly hits the fan when a crazy van full of uber religious cult members roll into the area and their leader spots the oddly beautiful Mandy walking on the road one day. The cult leader is seemingly hypnotized by her and quickly declares that he must have her for his own. The first hour of the movie is pretty slow moving but in the best way possible, though we don’t get much backstory, we do get a clear picture of the love Mandy & Red share for each other, which makes what follows all that more intensely heartbreaking. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but let’s just say this cult goes the full distance to send Nicholas Cage into a fully batshit crazy journey that’s part Evil Dead, part Hellraiser and part LSD drenched revenge fantasy. I know people have a sort of ironic love for Nicholas Cage these days but seriously Cage fully shines here in easily one of his best performances of his career. He’s awesome and not in some ridiculous sort of way. The movie goes to some truly bizarre places, the violence plentiful and there are a ton of oddball surprises all along the way.

The movie even has a sense of humor as well, though it feels like an unsettling waking nightmare most of it’s run time, there’s something truly comforting about having Nic Cage there with you as your guide through the mayhem of it all. It gives you a sense of hope that just maybe you’ll make it out of it all alive somehow. There’s also a strong heavy metal vibe to film, not just in it’s imagery but also in the score, which is completely breathtaking in it’s thunderous doom metal delivery through the hellish otherworldly landscapes. The music here is incredible and liley half of the charm of why Mandy works so damn well honestly.

There’s also cool hand drawn animated interludes that bring to mind the 1981 cult classic “Heavy Metal” in the best ways possible. Add in amazing practical fx work, crazy gore, epic weapon crafting, chainsaws, Goblin Mac & Cheese (just wait and see), drugs galore, demonic cenobite like bikers and a sweet ass cameo from Predator’s Bill Duke and you’ve got yourself one truly freaky epic horror masterpiece unlike anything you’ve like ever seen before. I can’t say enuff good things about this movie, it’s still floating around in my head four days after viewing it. I can though easily say that Mandy thus far is my favorite movie of 2018!