Tagged: cgi

INDIANA JONES 5 Trailer’s “Crystal Skull” Style VFX are TROUBLSOME!

So a few days ago we finally got the long awaited ‘Indiana Jones 5’ teaser trailer! Yes the final installment ‘The Dial of Destiny’ will indeed arrive in June of 2023. After the backlash of ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ from 2008 it’s been promised that we’d get a proper legit style Indiana Jones movie finally. Though that promise seems quite thin as the original creative team of Spielberg and George Lucas is nowhere to be seen this time around. It seems if I’m being honest with myself that Disney is now again going to give us, like they did with Star Wars, more of their bloated big budget fan fiction!

 I really don’t wanna be so negative here when it comes to sequels these days of beloved eighties franchises, but after watching this trailer a few times I’m quite worried. As I browsed YouTube for fan reactions it seems that I’m surely in the minority here. Almost everyone who viewed it seems to think that this looks like legit old school Indy. It makes me wonder if we were watching the same damn trailer? Now I’m not gonna say that it wasn’t a blast seeing and hearing Sallah again, of course I do wonder just how much he’s actually in the movie and if they’ve decided to not feature Ke Huy Kwan, aka “Shortround” then in my opinion this movie’s already made a major misstep for that alone. I’m willing to not jump to any major conclusions so far as it’s just a 2 minute trailer right?!

What I can say without a shadow of a doubt though is that the visual FX work here is borrowing heavily from the “Crystal Skull” playbook. Over the years I’ve grown to warm up to that movie (though deep down in my heart I know how truly disappointing it was), though it took some time and leniency, I was certain that director James Mangold was going to really do it justice giving us something that felt grounded in the reality of the original’s practical effects, locales and real sets. I’ve always felt that last installment really suffered from the clear overuse of wretched CGI and in my opinion it has no place anywhere near an Indiana Jones film. So I’m quite surprised that’s this new trailer relies so heavily on sub par computer graphics and obvious green screening.

What the hell are they thinking over there at Disney? The only real criticism I’ve seen are from YouTubers are from the legions of whom are obsessed with reporting and whining about “woke” elements being in Disney properties. They seem to be very triggered about Indiana Jones having a female sidekick here. These people in my opinion are just as irritating as the ones on the opposite side of the spectrum. None of them seem to have any real criticism about what’s being displayed so far on screen visually. So many of these scenes in the trailer look out of place, like him running on top of a train, riding on a damn horse and even the underwater skull and eels all look pretty cheaply rendered by digital technology. And those are only a few instances of the many questionable moments in the trailer. Even him jumping from one car to another looks like some sort of bad blurry CGI. What gives here? Is Hollywood completely uncapable of doing anything on set anymore?

The final Indiana Jones movie jam packed with sub par CGI again after all of the complaining about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Who the hell is greenlighting all of this shit? I often wonder is this just a cost issue? A corporation that has billions of dollars can’t afford to film on real sets with real actors with real practical effects and stunt work?  I’ve got a real bad feeling about this one…and we haven’t even gotten to the story yet.

 I’m also at this point getting a little tired of the whole de-aging deep fake techniques  that apparently are all the rage still. I would have much rather preferred Anthony Ingruber appearing in the role of a young Indiana Jones than some computer generated Harrison Ford mumbo jumbo face faking.

I would’ve surely preferred River Phoenix to have appeared as the younger version again if he’d still been alive. I’m really hoping this trend doesn’t replace the real actors portraying younger versions of a character.  I find all of this very troubling and at the very least was hoping for one last hurrah in the Indiana Jones universe that felt somewhat on the same level as the original trilogy. But I do understand how misguided Hollywood really is and for me to really expect anything different in this day and age is just a pipe dream, that keeps reaccurring over and over.. I’m really hoping that I’m proven wrong and I’m going to go in to this final installment as indifferent and neutral as possible, but hey if I’m gonna be honest so far this looks like a possible flamin’ turd in the making!

 

 

 

 

‘Perversions of Science’ the Forgotten Tales from the Crypt Sequel Series?!

Tales from the Crypt is easily hands down one of the greatest horror television shows of all time and what a great time of the year to revisit your favorite episodes! Well this year I put together a cool VHS horror anthology that’s all Halloween themed, in fact this is my sequel, as I made the 1st installment last year. To put this thing together I did a lot of research on Halloween themed horror short films from the eighties and nineties, Halloween themed horror TV episodes (no sitcoms) and of course installments of movie horror anthologies that all revolve around the Season of the Witch.

Finding the goods is actually a lot harder than you might think, but my Halloween research led me to a 1997 series called ‘Perversions of Science’ that has a pretty sweet Halloween episode directed by horror icon Tobe Hooper! But just what the fuck is ‘Perversions of Science’ anyway?

 Well news to me, it’s the “sequel series” to Tales from the Crypt and involves the same creative team, with music by Danny Elfman. Instead of the Crypt Keeper this time we get a futuristic sexy sultry computer generated robot woman as our host. Where the hell has this been my entire life and why am I just finding it about it all right now?!

Well from what I understand it definitely wasn’t the most popular series of its time and only ran for ONE season. Though many of the episodes have strong horror elements, it’s primarily a science fiction based show. I don’t claim to be any expert on this as I’ve only seen one episode, but the one I did see was definitely good enough to make me hella curious on hunting down the rest. But since it’s so close to Halloween I might as well talk a little bit about the Halloween themed episode of that’s leading me down this Perversion rabbit hole.

The episode ‘Panic’ takes place on Halloween night at a costume party, where two real life aliens from another planet are disguising themselves and eagerly awaiting orders from their leader to launch an attack on the human race. However unbeknownst to them a “war of the worlds” type radio broadcast is on the airwaves that evening and they mistake it as a real world news event. This leads the evil aliens played by Jason Lee & Jamie Kennedy (oh soooooo damn 90s!!!) into a bizarre series of earthly events on All Hallow’s Eve.

There’s some pretty cool practical effects here that definitely harken back to the good old days of Tales from the Crypt but of course there’s also some rather dodgy nineties cgi as well. That all being said I’d love to get my hands on a nice clean copy of the show as it looks like it’s got a lot of potential.

But there’s never been physical version of this thing ever released to my knowledge besides it’s original airing, no DVD’s VHS or blu rays out there that I’ve been able to track down and not streaming anywhere.

With directors like Tobe Hooper, William Shatner (?) and stars like Jeffrey Combs, Ron Perlman, Sean Astin, Will Wheaton this 10 episode series is on my ASAP must see list!!  Have you seen this forgotten television series? Let me know! Ps here are my VHS tapes I made:

Disney SHE-HULK: A Four Episode Gamma-Migraine!

I’ve been a She-Hulk fan since the 80s and been highly anticipating the “live action” version of the character in the MCU for quite some time! I really enjoyed the original 1980 Savage She-Hulk series and LOVED that the character replaced The Thing in the Fantastic Four in the mid eighties. By 1989 I was a teenager and got heavily into the John Byrne ‘Sensational She-Hulk’ run, it was one of my favorites and I’ll admit right now I had a major crush on the character!

Flash forward to 2022! One of my childhood wishes finally came true, She-Hulk got her own “live action” series. I’d initially been worried that they were going to botch this show by making her look and act more like The Incredible Hulk, not sticking to the original character’s classic vibe. Lucky for me they stuck to the landing and gave us a more traditional comic book accurate version of the character. However they also managed to make the character look incredibly unrealistic with some truly unimpressive dated looking CGI.

I’m still baffled that Disney/MCU has such an aversion to casting a real actor in the role, instead of using some weird looking rubbery CGI. There’s absolutely no reason that the green giantess couldn’t have been a real living breathing person. I’m guessing they really do want everything to look like a video game? But Hey I’m willing to set that all aside, even though it bothers me and just take the show for what it is. So after 4 episodes I can firmly say that the most the most appropriate word to describe this show in my humble opinion is: annoying. 

It’s jam packed with annoying one dimensional characters, annoying “plots”, annoying character designs & lazy annoying attempts at comedy.  At this point in the show the most likable characters are merely cameos, I’d rather be watching a series about Wong and Madisynn. Seriously. 

 Also I’m admittedly a bit tired of the MCU brand of “quirky/snarky Joss Whedon” humor and this dials it up to 11. People tell me to just enjoy it like like a classic sitcom but in order for any classic sitcom to work it’s gotta have some stellar comedic timing. The likes of Three’s Company, Martin or Diff’rent Strokes & OG Sex in the City among a long list of many other of my favorites. So if it’s not succeeding (in my opinion) as a sitcom and it’s not succeeding as a superhero/courtroom drama I don’t know exactly what this thing is supposed to be and who it’s exactly for? And kudos to you if you’re enjoying it, I have NO problem with that, this is just my personal opinion as a fan of the classic character.

I’m not so sure about the Disney Plus MCU stuff, the only series I was truly able to make it through was the Falcon and the Winter Soldier (which I dug!). I know there are a lot of overdramatic man babies/woman babies out there whining about the series being too “woke”, most of them merely complaining to get clicks, views and followers on their lame YouTube channels. I don’t honestly give a damn if it’s woke or not I just want a well crafted cohesive storyline and at least a few characters who I genuinely give a rat’s ass about.  I mean is there even an actual plot to this show so far? Do any characters have any actual endearing qualities or charm?  So far I’m really not finding anyone on the entire show to be very likable and I really think the Smart Hulk is bore. But Hey maybe I’m missing the big picture? Does anyone know what that is?

All of this Disney Plus stuff though feels a bit soulless, kind of like our big green CGI generated lead in She-Hulk. It’s sad to say but I feel the end of an era coming for me and the beloved MCU. Now I’ve just got to pull out all of my old Sensational She-Hulk comic books to make sure that I’m not just pining for teenage nostalgia’s sake, I mean who knows, maybe those comics lack the charm I remember them having?! I’m totally ready to admit I’m wrong! Unfortunately I’ve got to admit that my comic book crush has officially come to an end with She-Hulk…so be it!

Larry Cohen’s 1992 SHE-HULK Movie That Should’ve Been!

So today the first episode of the long awaited SHE-HULK series premieres on Disney Plus & though I’m excited for it I’m still a bit saddened that we will never have gotten a LIVE action She-Hulk on the big OR small screen. If I’m not making myself entirely clear it’s because the version of She-Hulk we’re getting today is indeed a fully CGI generated character. However what most people don’t realize is that waaaay back in the early nineties there was indeed a live action She- Hulk movie in the works!

Even more amazing was that at its helm was Larry Cohen one of my all time favorite cult cinema directors- Even MORE “sensational” was the inclusion of Brigitte Nielsen in the title role of the Jade Giantess! This was indeed a match made in heaven. And after watching Larry Cohen’s brilliant 1990 movie ‘The Ambulance’ I’m convinced Stan Lee and him had made the connection for producing a She-Hulk movie during that production.

If you’ve never seen ‘The Ambulance’ you gotta check it out. Eric Roberts stars as a Marvel Comic Book artist who goes on an insane journey chasing a mysterious ambulance across New York City. Stan even makes several  cameos in it as himself (above). 

After the the Cohen/Stan Lee connection had been established, New World Pictures was seemingly ready to produce a live action She-Hulk movie, shooting for a 1992 release & indeed had Larry attached to direct (and rumored to have written the script). Apparently an attempt was made to attract investors by doing some concept photo shoots for the character with Brigitte Nielsen, who would also be in the role of Jennifer Walters. 

I remember running across these photos in ‘Comics Scene’ magazine way back when and being pretty excited about what the possibilities of this collaboration might produce even if her look and outfit were a bit off in the promo photos. The script is shrouded in mystery and has never really but really had any sort of leaks except that Eric Roberts was to appear as a villain. I can only imagine with Larry Cohen directing we would have gotten something at the very least intriguing and fun. It’s also not certain whether these concept photos were really reflective of the true “final look” of the character. It’s imagined that once production was started on it they would’ve fleshed  out her character design much more & hopefully made her skin tone at least darker green. 

 Whatever the case Brigitte would have filled the role perfectly, The Red Sonja star was a dream cast for the movie. I can only imagine that this ultra campy version of the character might have eventually morphed into a cult classic. The early synopsis promo:                                                         

SHE-HULK (Larry Cohen, 1992). A mild-mannered lawyer (Brigitte Nielsen) receives a life-altering blood-transfusion after being shot by a local mobster (Eric Roberts). As a result, she finds herself transformed into a magical green rage-monster.

Though it sounded promising, they had several cinematic misses under their belt by that time with Howard the Duck, Captain America & The Punisher films all flopping and barely meeting the mark for comic fanatics. However my faith in Larry Cohen as a director and script writer only confirms that this particular project would’ve indeed been something memorable. Brigitte in 1990 was fully fit and definitely ready for the role.

It’s a real shame that never it never happened, I think a She-Hulk movie coming from that era would have been so much fun and I’m so curious where are they would have gone with everything. Even if it had turned out to be one giant ball of gamma radiated cheese it still would’ve been interesting to see a real live action version of the character and given Brigitte a chance to shine like Lou Ferrrigno did in his classic role….

 

 

 

 

NOPE: Easily One of the BEST of 2022!!

I’m not gonna waste too much time reviewing the hell out of ‘Nope’ because I know that it’s soooooo 2 weeks ago! But being as finicky as I am about new new Hollywood  summer blockbuster movies I’ve got to take at least a moment here to tell you how fucking much I enjoyed the new Jordan peel movie!

I went into this one with no real expectations except that I might get another tale covering ssome sort of allegory about race or modern culture.  However with the modern “culture war” and basically the world at each other’s throats, falling apart I’ll have to be quite honest, I really wasn’t in the mood to think more about real world injustices or real life human struggles as I entered the theater. 

Thankfully Jordan Peele decided to give us a mysterious compelling monster movie  with no real strings attached but with plenty of layers to peel and dissect. Nope will leave you pondering all of the unique plot points sprinkled about for days. Our duo of well crafted main characters are black ranchers and he doesn’t need to make some sort of big statement about it. They’re just great characters who happen to be black. It also features some very curious and intriguing supporting characters one being a fairly convincing CGI chimpanzee that almost steals the show!

Nope really harkens back to the golden era of Stephen Spielberg movies in the best way possible  But adding a much more sinister, brooding touch. After trying to make it through his rebooted Twilight Zone series I was beginning to have my doubts about his next film as I wasn’t a big fan of ‘Us’ , that being said, trying to follow up the brilliant ‘Get Out’ seems like an impossible feat. Fortunately he was able pull it off with ease with his 3rd full length movie which is just as mindbending in my opinion at least as his first.

A beautiful looking movie filled with A super solid cast, great locales and an excellent creature design make this a truly engaging movie to see in the theater and so much more than I was expecting. It’s a different animal altogether than the summer Hollywood blockbuster you might be expecting.

Don’t go in thinking you’re gonna get Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness type effects either. Peele uses CGI sparingly and perfectly to create something that feels visceral, real and highly imaginative in today’s landscape of bloated big budget sludge. If you haven’t seen Nope yet go into the movie completely blind if you can, the less you know the better. What plays out on screen I think is one of the best cinematic events of 2022 hands down.

MCU’s M.O.D.O.K. Misses the Mark!

After getting a good look at what is supposedly the MCU design for iconic Marvel Comics villain Modok I can honestly say my childhood fantasies have been smashed! Easily one of my favorite villains of all time for his bizarrely offputing look, Modok deserves so much better than THIS!

 That is what is supposedly his design for the upcoming Ant-Man movie. His big movie debut look unfortunately does not feature any of the grotesque charm of the classic villain.

My hopes here are that he is merely wearing some sort of protective helmet. I’m also fairly certain that they will be featuring the character as some sort of ridiculous joke Instead of utilizing him as a terrifying monstrosity that he truly is.

I also think if they were to have designed the character using practical animatronic effects just how amazing he could really be on the big screen. Time will tell but in the meantime here are a few of my favorite images of one of Marvel’s most grotesque creations!

‘PREY’ Brings the Goods But Can’t Top ‘PREDATOR 2’!

[OK so it seems everyone is flipping out over the new ‘Predator’ prequel ‘Prey’ just released yesterday on Hulu! Most are claiming it to be the best of the franchise since the original 87′ masterpeice, some even boldly claiming it better than the original. Well I’m here to clear things up because in 1987 Predator was the very first ‘R rated’ movie I ever saw in the theater and I snuck into it at the age of 13!!

At this point I’d pretty much lost any enthusiasm for another Predator movie after 2018’s pathetic sequel ‘The Predator’. However I’m quite happy to report that 2022 has brought us the latest movie in the series, ‘Prey’ and it’s overall a sweet breath of fresh air finally. I’m gonna put it slightly above ‘Predators’ which I thought mixed things up nicely with a unique plot that deviates from the others. Prey goes back to the basics and it essentially works, the time setting of 1719 and the physical setting of the Great Plains combined with its unique Native American tribal characters make for a visually stunning survival adventure. I gotta be honest though, the dialogue of the tribe felt way out of place and took me out of the movie’s supposed era several times, it felt WAY too “modern America”, if like the tribe were actually modern day cosplayers from LA or something. They really could have done better to make them feel a bit more convincing vocally because they looked amazing.

 But one of the best things though was indeed the setting, beautiful locations that of course make me wonder how much of what we saw on screen was actually real or created via CGI? I hope it was filmed on actual location. Whatever the case it really worked in this particular situation, at times rivaling the jungles of the original film. Of course the basic plot set up does feel a bit heavily treaded as of late at least, it features a young, strong female lead who’s marginalized by her male tribe members who believe she doesn’t have what it takes to be a true warrior. However she’s a total badass master hunter, fighter, tracker & her male peers just refuse to accept her. 

The lead, Naru, like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch is a force to be reckoned with. However when Dutch finally becomes the hunted it’s clear his macho-man antics are simply not going to save his ass from the Predator. Nope, he’s going to have to massively reevaluate everything he’s learned in order to survive the Predator’s attack. I felt Prey lacked much of that visceral tension, urgency and nail biting suspense of the original. Perhaps because Naru seems more than capable of besting The Predator in hand to hand combat right from the get-go. I personally would’ve prefered a bit more character struggle that let the tension rise to its boiling point. I never really feared for Naru’s life at any point in Prey. It could’ve featured her crafting some inventive new tricks to outwit the Predator but instead felt like it lacked the clever hero’s ingenuity humans normally need to come out on top against an alien force. Instead it relies more on her just facing it straight on with hand-to-hand combat. The action scenes were quite well done but I wish there would’ve been a little more to her having to “Macguyver” her way to victory. Given the script though, Amber Midthunder, who portrays Naru, did a great job as our new hero. She’s cool but maybe just a bit too badass at times for me to truly believe that she’s ever in any actual legit danger. Still the whole vibe, time period, dazzling looking characters and her awesome dog companion made this a real welcome surprise when put neatly all together.

I also had some issues with some of the CGI work done with the animals in the movie. It’s a cool concept to see the Predator go one on one with a bear and a wolf but the way it was executed took me out of the movie again as the CGI sadly just wasn’t convincing enough. I also have somewhat of a problem with the Predator’s new look this time around as it was clear there must have been some sort of wonky CGI going on with it’s normally amazing practical animatronic face. Something that cannot be topped from the first 2 movies at least. Still though it managed to breathe some much needed fresh air into a fully dying franchise and at no point in the movie was I ever bored. So all in all I can admit this is a pretty damn solid entry in the franchise, one of the best installments but I can also say quite firmly that imo it’s NOT the best sequel to Predator.

I recently rewatched ‘Predator 2’ on Blu-Ray and it’s aged like a fine wine. Danny Glover is an amazing charismatic lead and the city setting/concrete jungle created a whole new creepy exciting scenario for the brutal carnage. PREY In my opinion doesn’t come close to besting Predator 2. Perhaps if the it was released in the early nineties it might have felt much more fresh than it does now today but sadly the franchise just doesn’t feel anywhere near as interesting as it used to no matter what scenario you might want to introduce.  In many ways the Predator franchise has simply run out a gas.

But if you still find yourself a die hard thirsty fan of the franchise looking for something new, you can’t go wrong with this new installment. It delivers enough of what we loved about the original to make it a worthwhile survival adventure flick! It’s a fairly unique little creature feature that would have been fun if it’d shown up in theaters…or 32 years ago!

Does the NEW Luke Skywalker Truly Have What it Takes?!

I wanted to quickly give my two damn cents worth here about The Book of Boba Fett’s controversial Luke Skywalker appearance! This was much more than a cameo as you already know by now and its got people talkin’ for sure.

 I’ve gotta say, as much as I’m normally against using CGI to replace real actors, the Luke Skywalker that showed up was indeed pretty amazing!  A 1000% improvement from what we got at the end of The Mandorian: Season 2. If I didn’t know any better I probably would’ve thought he was just an ordinary actor on set. It really did feel like it was 1983 all over again. 

That being said I do think there is still room for improvement and I’m not entirely sure that an full series could be driven yet by this portrayal of Luke Skywalker yet. I think the main issue for me personally comes with his his voice, which from what I understand wasn’t just Mark Hamill speaking all the lines and impersonating his younger self. From what I understand his voice was actually generated using old Star Wars radio broadcasts and using some sort of AI synthetic generator to bust out his lines.

If that truly is the case it’d be clear why some of Luke’s dialog delivery felt a bit robotic. What I think is most important going forward is to have Mark Hamill involved in the creation of this character in as many ways possible. He’s an incredible voice actor and I think he could easily deliver the lines impersonating a younger version of himself with a little practice.

I’m also not sure how they are generating Luke Skywalker’s face but clearly they need to be using Mark fully for the facial emotions of the character going forward if they haven’t already. I’m really looking forward to a ‘behind the scenes’ of how this episode was created to see exactly how they did it and exactly what his involvement truly was.

 At this point though they’re definitely moving in the right direction and as quickly as technology seems to be changing it’s clear that they can likely recreate almost any older classic character that they choose. What does this mean for the future of actors in Hollywood and movies? I’m not quite sure. Some of it’s a little creepy to be honest, but in this particular case of bringing back one of the most iconic cinematic heroes, I guess I’m totally fine with this rendition of Skywalker! And for continuity’s sake I hope Disney goes back and replaces The Luke Skywalker from the end of Mando Season 2 with THIS new technology to smooth it out!  I’m also not opposed to the idea of Luke being recast at this point either using Sebastian Stan, though to be honest I would really have to see him in the role to see if he’s actually truly believable as the character. Alden didn’t sell Han Solo for me so I still remain a bit skeptical recasting any of the original trilogy characters!  Though I do think if they would have used Anthony Ingruber in the role of Han Solo I’ll be singing a different tune.  I can’t wait until Wednesday to see what happens next….

LOVE AND MONSTERS: A Sweet Escape from Reality into the Monsterpocalypse?!

One of the sweetest, feel good movies in recent memory, ‘Love & Monsters’ came as a totally welcome surprise! And that’s all being said as someone who’s normally pretty tough on newer horror/fantasy/sci fi movies. Love & Monsters which came out last year may not have the most original plot but it more than makes up for any shortcomings with its impressive special effects and it’s truly heartwarming adventure. I guess I’d at first glance describe this as having somewhat of a “Zombieland” type of a thing going on and it might be easily dismissed as just some wimpy copycat. On the contrary, Love and Monsters buries ‘Zombieland’ (and especially the sequel), with what I think are just plain more likable characters who embark a much more compelling and colorful adventure in general.

Roughly seven years after the Earth was subjected to a mysterious monster invasion, the rather cowardly Joel Dawson has been living underground with a small pod of people trying to avoid what lurks above. He spends his time reconnecting over the radio with his high school girlfriend, Aimee, whom he was separated from when the tragedy hit and also cooking his signature soup for his crew. When the feelings of isolation and cabin fever finally get the best him he decides to muster up the courage to head to the world above. Seeking to finally reunite with his lost love who resides 80 miles away at a coastal colony, as he surmises that there’s nothing really left for him underground anymore. As he heads out alone he soon realizes he’s hardly prepared for the dangers all around him in the outside world. Mutant monsters are hungry and lurking around nearly every corner.

One of the high points here is the inclusion of charming canine character named “Boy”. Lifting a bit from ‘A Boy and his Dog’ (minus the weird sex plot) in a much sweeter way, we get the best of both world’s here for this little apocalyptic adventure. ‘Boy’ proves to be the show stealer here imo and his bond with Joel makes dealing with the dangers a bit less frightening, all things considered. The two make an excellent team against the creatures and it’s clear that they both need each other more than they likely ever realized for piece of mind in a crazy world. He also meets a few other interesting characters, a pair of wandering scavengers, Michael Rooker along with the ruff and tumble little girl named ‘Minnow’. Joel soon learns the tricks of the trade from them and has to make a big decision on the outcome of his journey. One of the best scenes involves a strange AI intelligence, who brings even more unexpected meaning to his travels.

The whole thing is a great exercise in escapism during these real life uncertain times we all face at the moment. It also shows just how important real human (and animal) connections will hopefully always be to us here on the planet as we move forward. As we’re feeling isolated to certain degrees currently, Love and Monsters showcases some parallels to the current state of affairs. I guess we can all at least be relieved that big mutant monsters aren’t waiting to chomp us to bit when we head outside at least?

Let me get to the monsters here as well, I was half expecting some sort of chintzy fx work here to spoil the damn party. Not the case, the creatures here though mostly CGI are a treat to behold and for the most part are pretty convincing threats to our heroes. As a HUGE fan of monster movies I think it hits that sweet spot quite nicely. There’s also some cool plot twists and of course some admittedly hokey ones that otherwise might not have worked without such strong characters at the forefront. If you’re looking for “Calgon to take you away” (80’s kids you know the reference) from the worries of the real world, I can’t think of a better new fantasy adventure flick to visit than ‘Love and Monsters’, easily one of my faves of 2020!

WONDER WOMAN 1984: Diana Was Way More Wonderful in the Actual 80s!

I’m all for 80’s throwback nostalgia, it was the decade where I spent most of my damn childhood for cryin’ out loud. That being said HBO’s “home pandemic theater” holiday release ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ should have really been a dream come true for me. Literally tailor made for someone just like me who still often longs for the good old days and full on nostalgia of the 1980s. However ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ somehow completely misses the mark and simply seems to try an make a checklist of what Hollywood thinks we want to see from that era, it’s the DCEU’s version of 2016’s ‘X-Men: Age of Apocalypse’, which in my opinion supremely failed at what should have been a sure-fire nostalgic hit with the awesome source material they had in their hands.

The funny thing is I’m not quite sure how to pin point just exactly what doesn’t work for me with Wonder Woman 1984. On paper it sounded like a wonder-ful idea to have Diana Prince hangin’ out in that particularly colorful fun filled era of cinema. It just made sense. There seems like so many totally radical scenarios to put her and the supporting characters in, but as the movie slogged by with it’s flimsy plot it was quite clear to me: This was not the 1980s I remember sooooo fondly. I guess the main problem is the plot’s pointlessly random approach to almost everything that occurs in it 2 hour and 30 minute run time. Dressing it all up in wild neon 80s fashion and the whole “fish out of water” approach just doesn’t save this one from being a bit of a stinker. I know Patty Jenkins was attempting to recreate the magic of Richard Donner’s Superman and and in the first 20 minutes it seemed like she was on track. It was soon apparent though it had more in common with say, George Lucas’ ‘Howard the Duck’ than ‘Superman II’.

Something this time around about Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman just didn’t resonate with me in the way it did in the charming first installment. Sure we got the ‘Mandalorian’ himself Pedro Pascal as the greedy “Lex Luthor” type villain who apparently has spent his entire life searching for some ancient magic crystal that grants wishes-why? Who knows and I guess who really cares right? Then you have Kristen Wiig playing the frumpy coworker of Diana’s at the Smithsonian Institute, who’s also set on becoming the next Iconic villain for Wonder Woman. Far from it. Of course Pedro Pascal or ‘Max Lord’ conveniently figures out that the two of them are in possession of and studying his most coveted crystal treasure. Things from there increase to get incredibly uninteresting, the pace slows way down and lets you enjoy the most boring aspects of the 1980s. Oh but wait, we just cannot forget Diana’s ex-lover, Chris Pine shows up, resurrected from the dead and randomly in the body of another man for some reason that I guess is connected to the magic crystal’s wish granting power.

The action scenes are decent, the acting isn’t half-bad and the 80s backdrop was for the most part handled fairly well. But this movie’s bland overly random plot points combined with it’s stereotypically boring supporting characters (mainly two uninteresting villains with ridiculous motivations) had me checking the time counting down the minutes tell it’d finally be over.

We do of course get to see Wonder Woman in a fully CGI final battle against a (for some reason fully CG) generated Kristin Wiig “Cheetah” that harkens back to that terrible final fight underground train sequence in the Black Panther! Yeeehaw! Trust me as someone who grew up in the 80s I can assure you they were much more totally radical than this. As a fan of the first outing this one, as we said in the 80’s this one gagged me with a spoon….I’ll gladly take THIS instead any day!