I just got done reading the ‘ALPHA FLIGHT: True North’ Marvel Comics one shot and it got me a bit excited about the possibility of an ongoing series. Yeah Alpha Flight has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid in 80’s and after the first John Byrne series it’s never been quite the same, so hearing that a new one shot was coming out made me decide to head up to ‘Cosmic Monkey‘, (Portland Oregon’s best comic book shop), to grab a copy and see for myself. It’s been a few years since I bought new comic books, I quit a while back cold turkey, as their just too damn expensive and many of them don’t grab me like they used to honestly. However, Alpha Flight always gets another chance!
So ‘True North’ was a pretty decent little dive back into the lives of the diverse Canadian superhero team, it features three short stories with various members of the team. The first featuring classic Alphans Talisman & Snowbird as they travel to a remote area of in the Arctic Circle to investigate a supernatural presence. It’s an intriguing little tale that could have really spanned the whole issue. I definitely enjoyed the artwork in this one by Max Dunbar as well.
The next story is a small slice of life featuring everyone’s favorite little person badass ‘Puck’ and the fish woman ‘Marina’ as they walk a lonely beach on a sunny day. Puck shares a story from his past and the two of them spend some time bonding. A neat little short overall but I wasn’t a real big fan of the artists depictions of Puck and Marina, who basically just made them look like a short guy and a green woman devoid of most of her fish like qualities. The last story features Heather Hudson aka ‘Vindicator’ as she hides from the Canadian government for crimes committed while under the mental control of long time Alpha Flight villain ‘The Master of the World’. It’s a pretty interesting short story too and also features her husband James ‘Guardian’ Hudson with plenty of underlying relationship drama bubbling below the surface. Overall this one was nice refresher of just what an Alpha Flight ongoing series could feel like in 2019.
The other members were missed though, classics like Sasquatch & Shaman weren’t even in it at all and Northstar and Aurora only spoke a couple lines. I was hoping for a cool one shot with the whole team showing their current relationship as a team, but regardless it was still a pretty good teaser, even if it was priced at whoppin’ 5 bucks! DAMN!! I’ve always thought the team under the right writer again could be developed into a great modern series. The team’s super diverse cast has a lot of rich history to explore. ‘True North’ strikes some good chords but I’m not sure it was really quite compelling enough to drum up the magic needed to push Alpha Flight into a new ongoing series. I’d like to see Wolverine return to the team and maybe bring some drama into Heather and James’ rocky relationship. It’s always been softly suggested he might have some feelings for Heather. You never know! I’m also still hoping for an Alpha Flight movie as well, I think they’d be an instant hit in the MCU!
Ok it’s summer time and I’m gonna admit, I’ve been slackin’ on the blog lately! I’m sure you all’ve missed me sooooo much right?! Well anyway I’m throwing down some mini reviews of some of the movies I’ve checked out recently this last coupla’ weeks! So with out further adieu!
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
I really enjoy when a new Tarantino movie drops at the theater, let’s face it, he’s really one of the only big filmmakers that puts out interesting often risky movies to the mainstream these days, love him or hate him. Most bigger Hollywood movies are far too safe and generally feel like their plots have been drawn up by researching what’s been trending on Twitter. Well ‘Once Upon a ‘Time in Hollywood’ doesn’t follow the rules and it’s super refreshing for that simple reason alone. This one feels like a slice of life in a long gone era of movie stars with a very loose plot that ties up in a bloody bow by it’s stunning finale. It’s filled with colorful unique characters and some familiar faces from Hollywood’s past. The Bruce Lee scene has a lot of controversy around it, mainly concerning his portrayal not being accurate to real life. But hey, c’mon it’s a Tarantino movie, does anyone really think it’s going to be a damn biopic?!! Tarantino hit’s another home run more or less in my opinion with a movie that’s truly a breath of fresh air in a barrage of mindless, soul-less Hollywood cash grabs!
Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)
This is the latest Simon Pegg / Nick Frost horror comedy if that means anything to anyone anymore in 2019? Well surprisingly this neat little creature feature was actually a pretty sweet little spur of the moment rental from Redbox. Basically a kid heads off to a snooty private school out in the middle of nowhere England. There he finds that a fracking company is digging deep in the nearby forest looking for natural gas and accidentally frees a gang of hungry monsters from the earth’s crust. Nick Frost plays a hippie activist guy who’s looking to shut down the frackers and Pegg plays a pathetic teacher at the school obsessed with his ex co-worker Margo Robbie, with whom he had a brief fling with. The movie’s got some neat practical creature fx, good action sequences & pretty decent humor as well. Not nearly quite as awesome as their previous team up flicks but most definitely worth a watch for monster movie fans.
Beyond the Seventh Door (1987)
Here’s a pretty sweet 80’s movie that’s def worth a watch with a gang of rowdy cinefiles and a case of beer! Starring Lazar Rockwood(what a name!), who somehow manages to capture that same moronic charm as The Room’s Tommy Wiseau! Yep, Lazar is quite a guy to say the least and this movie’s a long lost gem of a bad movie. Basically Rockwood is an ex criminal who’s looking for a big time heist teaming up with his ex girlfriend and plans to bust into a nearby mansion to get the ultimate goods! There he and his “girlfriend” face “seven deadly curses” each…behind a door together masterminded by an evil billionaire in a wheel chair! James Wan clearly used this as the template for the damn ‘Saw’ franchise-I just know it! Anyway there’s some truly idiotic stuff going on here, and Lazar is in the thick of these dangerouschallenges! He’s the hero you never knew you needed and he’s clearly got the most sex appeal to seduce a woman in the most awkward of moments. Check this out if you dig movies that are truly so damn bad that they’re awesome!
Holy shit, I finally checked this out and as a BIG fan of the comic books and the del Toro movies (even though they aren’t comic accurate) I’ve gotta say, this was one of the worst movies I’ve seen in maybe the last two decades. Going into this I was actually half expecting to like it for the possible campy-ness I’d heard about it. Nope!! This was just a downright powerfully painful experience, It was so bad I couldn’t make it past the hour mark. It’s been a while since I’ve actually turned off a movie because it was truly legit terrible. Sometimes I do it if it’s boring, but this was next level horse shit for sure. Absolutely wretched plot, terrible pacing, fully unlikable characters (trying to be edgy with F-words galore) & beyond shitty CGI fx that look like they were pulled from a bad third rate 90’s horror movie. I just can’t believe Neil Marshall who helmed two of the best horror movies of the last 2 decades (Dog Soldiers & The Descent) fucked this thing up so, so, so damn bad. I was so pumped to hear he was doing the movie and really saddened that he single handedly ruined Hellboy for the big screen for who know how long. This was a fully pathetic attempt at movie making and to be honest I thought David Harbour sucked in the role!!
I’m a big fan of horror anthologies and was pretty excited to check this one out as it’s got a great VHS cover. Well as a lot of 80’s horror anthologies go, most aren’t much to write home about. Nightmares almost falls into that category, like many of these movies they usually deliver one good chapter at least. For Nightmares that one’s the second installment, starring Emilio Estevez who plays a video game obsessed teenager who hangs out in arcades all day blaring punk rock tapes on his walkman. He literally battles an arcade game one night when he breaks into the local arcade late one night. I mean that the video game comes to life and he fights the graphics in real life. It’s a pretty cool little segment that oozes with the 1980’s in the best way. The rest of the stories however are pretty standard made for tv type of stuff 9as that is apparently what this thing was supposed to be, a made for ABC tv Twilight Zone type series that didn’t make it to prime time). The last story’s about an “evil” killer rat and features such a fully terrible finale it’s almost worth the uneventful wait. Talk about the worst evil killer monster rat FX of all time! This one’s got it FOR SURE! Anyway if you just can’t get enuff of 80’s horror anthologies you might wanna check it out at least for the video game segment but Creepshow this one is NOT!
One of more popular posts this year here at Universal Dork was one where I ask the question of the upcoming Terminator: Dark Fate, where the HELL is Edward Furlong?! The movie hyped as a direct sequel to T2 had two of the key players locked down with the return of Linda Hamilton and of course Arnold. However Eddy was NO where in sight. Yesterday at San Diego Comic Con though James Cameron confirmed some HUGE news for Terminator fans-Edward Furlong will be returning as John Connor!! The original John Connor, is the one missing piece to the nostalgic puzzle and now Edward will possibly get a second chance to shine. As most know, Furlong has had a LOT of troubles with drug addiction and has spent a lot of time recently in treatment. News lately though shows him looking a lot more more trim and in a much better frame of mind. Go Eddie!! It appears he’s cleaned up his act and just might get his ‘Robert Downey Jr’ moment this year.
To be honest the first ‘Terminator: Date Fate’ trailer didn’t impress me, even though it seemed to be trying to pull hard on nostalgic heartstrings. It was full of sloppy CGI and had some oddly placed music that surely didn’t help to make it stand out from recent ‘phoned in’ blockbuster sequels. With the news of Furlong’s return however it just upped the ante for old school Terminator fans and given me a reason to get interested again. Now we can only speculate just what his role will be and how big. My guess, maybe he appears in the end of the movie, perhaps like Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens?
Hopefully he’s utilized in a real way, there’s been rumors that John Connor will be dead in this new installment to make room for strong female characters to shine. I hope that’s not the reason why he might not have a larger role. I love strong female characters, but first and foremost let’s not make the same mistake the Star Wars sequel trilogy has made so far. Pushing the classic characters into the back ground so early on has been a major bummer for fans. People want the original characters to shine again because they still resonate with us and if they’re going to pass the torch to a younger or female generation do it the right way. Let’s see the originals get good quality screen time and work the new characters in slowly. I’m not holding my breath though because more often than not Hollywood has shown time and time again that when it comes to modern sequels to beloved movies they simply just don’t understand what the fans really want to see.
Anyway I’ve totally got my fingers crossed for Edward Furlong to make a big return to cinema and really hope they utilize the real John Connor in a truly memorable way. The original trio united! The news of Edward’s return has now put ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ fully back on my radar. My interest is peaking!! Here’s some new footage as well that was released at Comic Con! What do you think about it all?
So it’s no secret that the summer blockbusters of 2019 have been underperforming at the box office this year, unless you’re a Marvel movie there’s a good chance you just ain’t makin’ the boatloads of easy cash off of eager hungry consumers like you used to!! So far we’ve had some big flops and under performers in theaters this summer, Hellboy, X-men: Dark Phoenix, Men In Black International, Godzilla: King of The Monsters, Shaft and I’m sure a few more flops to come.
It almost seems that after the extravaganza of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ people just ain’t that impressed with what Hollywood’s a pushin’! So what the heck gives here? I’ve got 5 reasons why I think people just ain’t buyin’ what big ol’ Hollywood’s selling!
Bland, Soulless, Predictable & Safe Storytelling
One thing I’ve noticed over the recent years is that these big ass summer blockbusters don’t bring much new to the table, instead of setting trends they now play off of what’s trending on social media etc to try and ensure they make maximum profit. It’s clear to audiences that they’re being marketed to and a lot of the themes we see in current movies feel a bit forced into the narrative. The plot lines feel predictable & safe, being very careful not to push the boundaries. However, nobody likes to feel pandered to, especially just to make a quick buck. Today Hollywood blockbusters feel a bit too calculated, like a Mcdonald’s happy meal version of a movie. It tastes good for a moment but doesn’t provide much real nourishment. These huge movies need to set trends again and take more risks. Most of these stories being told on the big screen now follow a rigid formula, it’s time to shake things up a bit and develop some compelling content that will blow audiences minds & keep them thinking long after they leave the theater.
Cinematic Politics & Social Media Movie Battles
Sure social media can be a cool way to connect with friends all over the world but it’s also caused a major political rift in movie fans, especially online. Everyone has a damn platform and everyone’s ready to state their opinion for the whole world to hear. The landscape of politics (here in the USA at least) is a gigantic mess, people are more than ready to call each other names and insult each others political beliefs any chance they can and then some. If you’ve noticed now there’re Youtube channels whose main focus is to tear down movies that they feel promote left leaning agendas and vice versa. Now we’ve got boycotts & petitions galore that are raging against movies from angry fans who think they’re promoting a threatening political views. We’ve got Hollywood directors & industry people arguing with angry fans on twitter about their movies and political leanings. When a movie’s released people immediately jump in to examine what side of the political spectrum it falls upon & then get bent out of shape about it on their social media platforms. Most claim they want to go to the movies to escape from the worries of today’s society, but people are so divided (and making good profit off that anger on their platforms) these days and I’m not seeing this trend dying down any time soon. At least until we get a new damn President!
Poorly Planned Franchise Reboots & Sequels
There’s a lot of bad, uninspired franchise sequels and reboots out there these days making their way into theaters. Hollywood is trying their hardest to capitalize off of nostalgia these days. It seems they think that if they simply slap say ‘Star Wars’ brand on a movie that it’s gonna mean butts in seats at the cinema. Not the case, people are clearly smarter these days when it comes to their choice of entertainment. Lots of franchises attempting to reboot with younger “hip” stars and leaving the old actors in the dust. I mean what really is ‘Men in Black’ without Will Smith? How about Star Wars with crusty old grumpy Luke Skywalker that barely lifts a finger in the movie? Or the Ghostbusters without any of the original characters starring in it to properly pass the torch? Hollywood is a bit clueless when it comes to how to execute these sequels, fans want to see a respectful portrayal of classic older characters who’re set to pass the torch to younger generation. Some of these reboots/sequels actually seem downright disrespectful to the original characters, sweeping them under the rug as quickly as possible to usher in the new characters. There needs to be a class taught to all of these clueless Hollywood executives on how to successfully pass the torch in a franchise. If you take a crap on a beloved franchise the fans of it will roast your ass on social media. The fans today have more power than ever and it’s a new angle that’s got Hollywood baffled.
Spectacle over Story
It’s kinda crazy now, almost every blockbuster movie franchise has been trying to set up a cinematic universe because they think they can reap the same benefits as the MCU does. However what most of these franchises get wrong is that they simply haven’t spent the time worldbuilding building the way Marvel has over the the last 10 plus years. Most of these failing franchises spend their movie’s runtime trying to set up the next sequels rather than telling a compelling story with top notch character development. Instead they simply litter the movie with a bunch of shiny, glossy CGI & flashy explosions convinced that lone is enough to entice movie goers to get all amped up for their planned spinoffs. Well listen up Hollywood, going to the theaters is expensive and people just aren’t as dumb as you seem to think they are, yeah we got options these days with all the streaming content out there. Movies better step it with their storytelling otherwise we’re gonna stay home! So many of these franchise are dumbed down to a level that just won’t entice the masses like they used to. We want original stories, not rehashed plots from previous movies in the franchise. Sure the spectacle can be fun, but there’s a certain over saturation of mind numbing movies out there now and yours better be more than just fluff. Stop trying to predict what the masses are going to eat up and spend some time writing stories we haven’t already heard. Most of the movies feel like they’ve been looking at what’s trending on twitter and writing a story around that. I’ll say it again, Hollywood needs to set the trends again rather than blindly trying to follow them.
Star Power Ain’t What it Used to Be
Back in the 1980’s blockbusters were a just as big a deal but they usually had one thing going for them that’s missing today-star power. People would rush to the movies just to see Stallone or Schwarzennegar do their thing. It was an event. Not so much today, the days of larger than life celebs has somehow died, putting one of the stars of say the Avengers franchise in one doesn’t automatically equally box office gold. I’m not sure what changed over the years but people are far less starstruck than ever before. This means Hollywood has got try even harder to put something out that feels fresh and original, a good cast is still important but it’s clearly NOT a deal breaker anymore.
I love all those real life robot videos out there from Boston Dynamics, they are simply a marvel to behold. The technology these days involved in robotics is stunning and even a bit creepy but one thing is for certain these robots aren’t going away anytime soon!
One thing that that I always found funny are the videos where the humans are fucking with the robots to test their durability and balance, pushing them over and just basically making them look like complete fools. Here’s a real life example of what I’m talking about:
Well this latest video from the Youtube channel “Corridor” sure does hit the spot when we get a glimpse of a robot who’s just plain had enuff!! The VFX wizards behind this video have got people out there seeing the rise of robots in our modern culture in a whole new way- check this amazing shit out!!
Here’s a pretty neat little modern throwback horror movie I took a chance on recently that turned out be quite a bit of fun. ‘Book of Monsters‘ is a low budget British creature feature that clearly makes it’s best attempt to harken back to the gory glory days of 80’s horror flicks like ‘Evil Dead 2’ & ‘Night of the Creeps’. It takes place on the main character, Sophie’s 18th birthday, when she reluctantly decides to throw a birthday party at her house. Her and her two friends are hardly the cool kids in school and aren’t even sure anyone will actually show up. To their surprise the birthday bash attracts a whole crew of unruly teens and even a few of the school bullies. Well it doesn’t take long before some weird supernatural shit goes down due to meddling with a necronomicon type of book. A full on bloodbath occurs when some creatures emerge from another dimension, invade her house and begin to slaughter the rowdy party guests. Sophie and her pals must band together to fend off the attack and protect their classmates from monster carnage.
It’s a simple story to follow and with a short run time of 84 minutes it’s a perfect party movie (literally) to watch on a Saturday nite with a gang of old school horror fans. One of it’s strongest parts is the protagonist Sophie, who’s a totally likable heroine who struggles with self esteem, teenage sexuality and the strange events of her past which tie into the supernatural events that occur. She’s also one of the only gay horror hero’s I can really recall seeing and they present this aspect of her character in a way that doesn’t feel fully forced into the narrative. Sure we got some bigoted bullies and typical teen jerks but those were always prevalent in the 80’s teen horror movies that likely inspired this one.
Now onto the horror aspect of things, though I liked the movie, I’ve got to admit I’m a bit tired of the ‘evil book/necronomicon’ angle of things, it feels pretty played out and I kind of wish they’d have used a different reasoning for the summoning of the monsters. Hardly a complaint really as once things get going here it’s pretty fun & action packed. The monster & gore effects are pretty ambitious for the most part. For the budget they had to work with they deliver a fair share of cool practical fx work avoiding for the most part cgi entirely (if my memory serves me correctly). The monster designs are pretty good too, one looks a bit like it was ripped out of M. Knight Shyamalan’s the village, one’s like a standard slasher dude and the other is kind of like a “Natasha Henstridge” Species/cenobite type-o creature. They all do a decent amount of gory, goopy damage too & it’s all executed in a fairly cartoonish way so it could easily be digested by the light weight horror fans. Oh yeah some evil garden gnomes are thrown in as well, that with a little more budget could have been far more crowd pleasing- but still an “A” for effort. There’s lots of chainsaws and general ass kicking done by the three female leads and even though most Hollywood blockbusters are trying to currently shoehorn girl power into movies ‘Book of Monsters’ does it in a tasteful way that doesn’t feel like it’s blatantly pushing some agenda for brownie points.
If ‘Book of Monsters‘ had been released in 1987 it’d have been a bonafide cult classic, it’s a nice switch from all the shoddy CGI & digital blood of modern horror movies. It leaves the door open for a sequel and I think if it gets one with more cash behind it, there’s a possibility the second installment could very well end up as a modern day cult classic. For the meantime though I think the best crowd for ‘Book of Monsters’ are those who miss the glory days of 1980’s schlock, goofy gore & teen horror flicks!
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!