I finally got a round to checking out 1989’s ‘Saga of the Phoenix’, the wildly entertaining sequel to ‘The Peacock King’ from cult classic Hong Kong director Lam Ngai Kai (Riki-Oh). If you’re a fan of ‘Riki-Oh’ I highly recommend checking out the director’s other work and while ‘Saga of the Phoenix’ isn’t as shockingly violent, it’s easily just as wild and crazy as anything he’s ever done. In the sequel we follow once again, the exploits of the two magical monks Lucky Fruit and Peacock but more so this time the “Hell Virgin” Ashura who in the last movie caused some major problems, almost destroying mankind as we know it while under the enchantment of the devil. Ashura though still loves the mortal world and eventually is granted permission to live there for 7 days, only if she makes a promise to stay out of any mischief that might interfere with the human world. She gladly accepts and quickly hunts down a weird gremlin creature named “Genie” when arriving on Earth. Peacock, Lucky Fruit and 3 bad ass nuns are also then sent down to chaperone her visit, but of course the wicked “Hell Concubine” has other plans, to send her evil minions there as well to try and corrupt her once again.
Though I’ve heard many seem to think this one is more “kid friendly”, probably because the gremlin character “Genie”is focused on quite a bit. Though we follow Ashura and him running around Hong Kong in the 80’s having fun (which I totally dug), it’s still got plenty of downright bizarre scenarios to behold that I think places it in a league all of it’s own and quite a worthy sequel. There’s also the inclusion of a brother and sister human duo that befriend the main characters and the brother just happens to be a madcap inventor of an inter dimensional time machine. Go figure! There’s a few hints of romance and of course the three nun protectors all decide to go for a dip in the human’s swimming pool after their outfits get shredded in battle, donning swimsuits for the first time in their rather “sheltered” life. There’s also some pretty perplexing plot choices surrounding the character of Genie that just kind of have to be seen to be believed. The character which is a mix of puppet and stop-motion animation has got plenty to do here and is given more than his fair share of moments to shine and even scare.
Sure there’s a lot going on here in a movie with an admittedly flimsy plot, the good thing is that the majority of it all is one helluva good time. Bleeding sweet 80’s fashion & locations, outrageous characters, wild sets, puppets, stop motion animation, giant monsters and plenty of neon lasers to behold, it’s hard not to at least be enamored by all of the eye candy. There’s also a splash of martial arts action thrown in the mix to keep the action going at a steady pace from Lucky Fruit and Peacock. Sure there’s lot’s of logic issues with the plot & the dialogue (translations likely) can be a bit incoherent at times but there’s more than enough outrageous charm throughout to easily satisfy fans of directors like Steven Speilberg, Sam Raimi & Peter Jackson’s 80’s and early 90’s work.
If you’re a fan of weird 80’s fantasy, action & horror you definitely need track down The Peacock King & The Saga of the Phoenix. It’s jam packed with all the things I love so much about that era of film making. Lam Ngai Kai (aka Ngai Choi Lam) is easily the best cult director out of Hong Kong for the time, it’s a shame he completely disappeared from film making after 1992. Perhaps he decided his body work couldn’t be topped? Thankfully he’s left behind a truly unique legacy of outrageous films that have yet to be explored by a huge portion of American cinemaniacs.
So some interesting plot info finally dropped about the upcoming “Ghostbusters 3” now officially known as ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’. If you missed it here’s what was recently released:
“The Third installment centers on Callie (Carrie Coon) and her kids Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) as the move to Oklahoma into a haunted house that reveals their family connection to one of the original Ghostbusters – though which of the four is Phoebe and Trevor’s grandfather remains unrevealed. The Ghostbusters’ 1984 stand against Gozer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man has all but faded from the memory of modern day teens (as tends to happen), so Trevor and Phoebe will need to get some contextual help from an older guide: enter Paul Rudd’s summer school teacher character, Mr. Grooberson. Grooberson was a kid during the events of the Ghostbusters original adventure, and has been an obsessed fanboy ever since. It will be Grooberson who helps guide Phoebe and Trevor toward dusting off the Ghostbusters mantle – hopefully in time to save the town from whatever is in that haunted mine.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife a direct sequel to Ghostbusters 2, following up on the events of what is now called the “Manhattan Crossrip,” in which ghosts and other apparitions (including the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man) materialized in New York City. “
So this all sounds great right? There’s been some images released showing the younger cast of kids, who are assumed to become the new Ghostbusters. I’m hoping this one’s not going to try and give us a yet another “Stranger Things” type of scenario, as much as I was thrilled with the Netflix show I’ve been feeling like there’s been a bit of an overflow of movies and tv shows trying to do the same thing due to the it’s success. What worries me the most here is the lack of mention of the original cast, even in the photos released. Sure we all know they are going to be in the movie, but they also made appearances in Ghostbusters 2016. So for as a fan of the originals, I’m pretty damn interested in seeing just what the hell our favorite characters are up to these days. Am I alone here on that? I think the movie needs to give the original cast ample screen time and a decent part of the plot should be dedicated to them. I’m growing tired of these “sequels” sidelining the original characters, they’d better no pull a “Luke Skywalker” on old crew.
So my one desire for this new movie is that we see the original Ghostbusters actually bust some damn ghosts just one last time! Please don’t give them all just the obligatory cameo. I wanna see the old crew actually have something important to do before they pass the torch for good. Otherwise I feel this sequel is going to end up pissing off fans once again in the way ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ blew it’s second chance opportunity to be something fans would never forget as a direct sequeL to T2 . I’m hoping that in the trailer (which drops Monday) they indeed show the original cast too, if not I’ll be guessing they’ll likely have very small roles. What do you think? Wouldn’t you love to see the original cast actually be a real part of this film? What do you think their role will be?
It’s directed by Jason Reitman, the son of Ivan Reitman who directed both Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2. So I’m cautiously keeping my fingers crossed he’s going to give us the sequel we always wanted…
Here’s something truly unique and inspiring on the Star Wars front, as everyone’s talking about ‘The Mandalorian’ Disney Plus series this week and how damn good it was. I mean do you really need another review of the show at this point? I didn’t think so! Well it’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Timothy Zahn Star Wars book trilogy from the early 90’s, one which many fans had considered the real episodes 7-9 for many years until recently. If you’re a fan of the original trilogy, were underwhelmed with the Disney sequel trilogy and never read those books I highly suggest checking them out to get the ultimate old school fix of Star Wars! In fact the best way to check them out is in the audio book form narrated by Marc Thompson, whose vocal impersonations of the original characters is mind blowing, as well as the music and sound fx that’ll make you feel like the movie has come to life. It’s really that good.
Well recently I discovered something pretty amazing on Youtube, it seems a fan named ‘DarthAngelus’ is attempting to animate the story of the first installment “Heir to the Empire” in a Clone Wars/Rebels style series. A truly ambitious project and a welcome one for the true OT fan. It’s the very first time we meet the iconic villain ‘Thrawn’ who really should have been utilized in the sequel trilogy as the big baddie in my opinion. I’ve really enjoyed what he’s done here and I’m looking forward to what comes next and how just the action sequences will unravel, which will be a big part of how well this epic story translates to this animation. So far it’s a real treat to see how much love a fan has for the series, if there was a way for them to put Marc Thompson’s (the audiobook’s narrator) voice into this it’d even more of a spectacle. In the meantime kudos to this fan, more people need to know about this as I think it’s something truly special in the works! Check it out:
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.
Damn! Nostalgia is running rampant today, but first I wanted to report my thoughts quick on Brightburn, which is currently in theaters! I checked this one out yesterday at a matinee and was pleasantly surprised by this nasty little supervillain origin story. If you’re a fan of Superman you’re sure to find this one quite intriguing. If you’re a horror buff you’ll just might get a kick out of this unique creepy “superhero” tale. Brightburn is essentially the origin story of Superman but instead of him growing up to be the beacon of good we’ve grown to love he goes the opposite direction and gets real nasty to the human race. Once the main character kid realizes (around puberty) that he’s got superhuman powers developing, he quickly decides he’s superior to all humans and sets off on a villainous path of small scale destruction. Playing with people like an evil kid with a magnifying glass on a sunny day around an anthill.
Raised on the farm with his step parents just like good ol’ Clark Kent, he starts off as an innocent nerdy kid right up until his 12th birthday, basically deciding to go on a killing spree, off-ing nearly anyone who gives him a dirty look with his new found ass kickin’ abilities. I wasn’t sure what to expect here, but luckily this is a pretty sweet “smaller budget” mainstream horror movie, unlike anything in the genre I’ve ever really seen before. I guess it might be a good companion piece to say, ‘Split’ which turned out to be a supervillain origin story in disguise. However unlike ‘Split’ this one’s R-rated, so there’s some pretty disturbing gory moments sprinkled about that really took me by surprise & some pretty nice visual fx work as well. It’s tense, well acted and deserves a sequel, as I’d love to see what happens to this evil little maniac next. It definitely exceed my expectations and if they do make a sequel hopefully humankind can figure out some way to put this pint sized supervillain in his damn place!
Next we got a new trailer for the final installment of Rambo! Titled “Last Blood” we get to see just what the hell John Rambo’s been up to since the last extra bloody installment from 2008! Yeah Stallone is back again as the iconic anti-hero and this time it looks as if he’s single handedly (of course) going to battle against a powerful drug cartel. The trailer looks promising, maybe not quite as wild as the last go round, but still, for his age it seems Rambo’s got one more damn fight left in him!
Next is the big one, the trailer for ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’! I never thought I’d ever really see the day we’d actually get a prequel to the beloved 80’s Jim Henson puppet masterpiece. I’m pretty impressed with what we’re seeing here, as it does feature some stunning puppetry. As great as it all looks I’m going to say honestly I’m a bit surprised with how CGI heavy it is as well. I’m not disappointed because I think practical fx and CGI used together tastefully is the best way to pull things off. Also it’s 2019, I hardly expect any mainstream production to go fully practical. Anyway this looks great if haven’t seen it yet check it out and if you have watch it again!!
Ok so here’s an idea for the next “live action” ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ movie that’s reportedly on the horizon. First, how about making it actually LIVE ACTION?! Cuz’ after re-watching the two classic 1990’s TMNT movies it’s come crystal clear what the direction this franchise needs to take for it’s planned “reboot”. The next movie, like the recent sequels to Halloween & Terminator, needs to be a DIRECT sequel to the 1990 classic! Ignoring everything but the first movie (maybe the second). It’d be the perfect move to reinvigorate the cinematic franchise, bring back those classic Turtles from that movie, bring back the suits, bring back Judith Hoag (who’s maybe somehow cuter today than she was back then) as April O’Neil and even Elias Koteas as Casey Jones!
It’s time to go back to those original characters, another cheap revamped CGI version of these classic characters is NOT what people want. Imagine the excitement of making a sequel to the OG TMNT, with the Jim Henson studio working on a new version of the Turtles suits, that look very similar to the classic designs but using the more advanced animatronics of today. Imagine a modern Turtles movie that actually utilizes real choreography & real martial arts, a concept like that is UNHEARD of in Hollywood blockbusters and people would be blown away to see what could be done today with the right talent behind it. You could even get the original voices of the Turtles back, yeah get Corey Feldman too to put the icing on the cake.
The plot could be an awesome “fish out of water” tale as well, here’s a quick idea, the original Turtles & their Master Splinter 30 years ago ventured further below the surface, far beneath the sewers of New York, where they disappeared and were never heard from again and for reasons unknown to the few who actually knew of their existence. There they’d, embarked on a dangerous mission and in result of it became trapped in some sort of suspended animation, kinda like the mosquito in the tree sap from Jurassic Park. Whatever you need to do to explain where and why they’ve been missing….Meanwhile April O’neil & Casey Jones (who remain friends or maybe even lovers?) have moved on with their lives and almost question whether their incredible experience with the Turtles & Master Splinter back in 1990 ever really happened at all. Something thaws the Turtles out of their extended slumber and they soon make their way back to the surface, finding a much different world 30 years later, eventually reunite with their two old friends to once again & face a new threat to the city. Who knows maybe April & Casey even have a kid now, Casey Jones Jr, boy or girl who take up his crime fighting mantle?!
The classic 1990 Turtles would have a blast trying to fit in to modern times and of course the original April & Casey reuniting with them would be heartfelt cinematic gold. I’m certain this formula, with a more ironed out plot would be a HUGE hit and could re-start the Turtles franchise in a bold, nostalgic and exciting way. They need to give the fans something special this time around. The TMNT formula was never broken and the last thing people want is the Michael Bay era to rear it’s head. There’s a cinematic hit ripe for the picking and Hollywood needs to get creative and jump on it!!