Saturday, October 12, 2013


Unless you've been living under a rock, then you have to have heard the story about this one.

Director Randall Moore and crew filmed an entire movie at Disney World and other Disney parks, all guerrilla style and without the consent of The House of Mouse. They've tried to bring the courts into this, but somehow, someway, the filmmakers have remained untouchable and this little not-so-flattering flick is now out for the world to see.

Now, the big question is... Is this experimental film any good? Ehhhhh... Let's delve into that!

The story is all about Jim, who just wants to take his wife and kids to the Happiest Place on Earth, but things are not so happy and shiny as he wants it to be. Jim is fired from work as soon as he makes it to the parks, and the hurt doesn't stop there. It becomes a descent into madness for the father of two and the viewers are just along for the ride.

Don't want to give away too much, as this is what I call an experience. Depends on the viewer whether it is a good or a bad one, but an experience nonetheless. It's a mix of David Lynch meets National Lampoon's Vacation, with a heavy dose of Noir to it. You can't help but want to follow Jim, played by Roy Abramsoh, through some pretty insane bits. He does fairly well for someone who is acting, for the most part, on his own. It's satire and he knows it, so for that, it's a passable enough performance in my book.

There's something to admire about this movie and the story behind it, but it is definitely not without its flaws. Most of the acting will turn off many, so will some of the visuals and campy situations. The last portion of the movie is possibly the weakest, as what happens there... will have many just scratching their heads. It is not a very strong all-together film and I could only recommend it just for... wait for it... the experience.

The directions, the look and shots were great, has potential, but gets lost along the way and maybe tries just a wee bit too hard to be different. Even in satire, there's no harm in being just a little subtle and "Escape" misses that. Watch it if you can, but really, don't go completely and far out of your way to go see it.



Sorry about that! It's been some time since the last update! I'll try to keep up with this crazy blog. Maybe with more than just movie reviews this time! Ok, one more movie review and we'll change it all up.

Life has just been crazy and busy and all that jazz, but I'm here now so let's keep this train movin'!


Monday, February 11, 2013


Everybody knows who Batman is. And just about everyone loves him.

How has a character lasted so long and had so many variations and still remain so relevant... so popular... After all these years? Because he's Batman! 

Yes, I know, typical Bat fan answer. But I wanted to talk about what makes this fictional character so important to me. Many people have talked on end about him. Filmmaker Kevin Smith talks about it on a weekly basis on his podcasts and movies. Now, it's my turn.

Here's my life as a Caped Crusader fan...

Batman, Superman, and Spiderman. I remember those three when I was a very tiny child of the 80s. I had sippy cups and toys, but I really have no clue who they really were. You know, other than them being really cool-looking! But how I never forgot Batman... is the image above. The 1989 blockbuster, Tim Burton's "Batman."

The hype... was EPIC! McDonalds, Kenner toys, the ads, the Prince soundtrack! There was no way you could escape the build-up of this flick at the time! This movie made me a fan. It's how I found the reruns of campy 60's series with Adam West, since again, they were really wanted to sell the crap out of this movie and the show was on tv all the time. But the '89 movie...

Jack as Joker, Keaton as Bruce/Batman, the visuals, everything, was amazing at the time! I even dressed up as the Dark Knight for Halloween. I would see every movie with Batman in it, in the theaters, from there on in. Minus one movie, which I regret not seeing at the time.

Because the first movie was a mega-hit and another one was on the way, the animated series was born. Thus, was born a phenomenon.

Every afternoon, and sometimes at night, "Batman: The Animated Series" would come on and I would be hooked. From the opening theme to the very end, I watched every bit of it. It's the show that made Mr. Freeze an important villain and one with a heart, no matter how cold he was. Harley Quinn was created here as well. Two-parters like the birth of Clayface and Two-Face were fantastic. "Almost Got 'Im" had the rogues gallery, while playing a poker game, talking about how they almost got Batman. "Christmas With the Joker" is one I play every Christmas, especially because of Bruce's similar dislike for the holiday.

If you haven't seen the series lately, it still holds up and you might want to give it a rewatch.

As I mentioned, one Batman movie I missed was "Mask of The Phantasm," which was The Animated Series' only theatrical movie release. And honestly, it is MY FAVORITE BATMAN FILM. It's an origin story, with romance and revenge and the most honest of them all. I liked it as a kid when I saw it on video, but over the years, I've come to relate more and more and it is just so well put together. 

Moments like the one below always get to me. Bruce loses the love of his life, with nothing more to lose, becomes the Batman. Alfred, his faithful butler and father-like figure, sees the little boy he looked after become something else...

In time, I decided to read the comics and learn more about the actual history of the character. After all, it's where most of the TV and movies had been based off of.

Reading about how people had to choose between saving and killing his sidekick Robin, or how Bane broke his back and the Azrael aftermath, or The Dark Knight Returns.

Though I have not read all or even most of the Dark Knight's finest comic adventures, the stories that I have read inspired me. As an artist and as a writer. I loved the artwork of Arkham Asylum and Long Halloween was one of my first graphic novels. Dark Knight Returns also made me realize how much of a badass Bats can be, even as a grizzled veteran. 

Killing Joke, done by a fan...

After the debacle that was the "Batman And Robin" movie, it was time for the Bat to come back and to the dark side where many thought he belonged.

Enter Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy.

It was more of a graphic novel than a comic book movie. People died in gruesome ways, albeit not onscreen. A lot of brooding and depressing moments. It was just dark. But to many, this is how Batman is supposed to be. And I can understand. He lost his parents before his eyes and just wants justice, at any cost.

So well done, each of these films. It also proved to me that he is not a comic book superhero like Superman or Spiderman. He's more human and more akin to Sherlock Holmes or James Bond. A smart character that uses his wits (and fists) to get out of anything, no matter the circumstances.

Even with the third film, "Rises," which SPOILER ALERT, has Bruce retiring as Batman. Plenty of fans did not like this, especially since he is not the type to quit anything. But as the films show, in this series, Batman symbolizes justice and wasn't just one man and can be anyone. 

Each incarnation of Batman is different and the stories that come out of it are different as well and I am just fine with that. That's what makes him unique. That is why there have been so many tales to tell and variations to those that have already been told. If they were all the same, then we'd be stuck with Adam West running around with a gigantic bomb.

But one thing in particular that makes Batman Batman... the rogue gallery. The villains!

To make a great hero, you need a great villain. Each baddie has something in common with the Dark Knight. One focuses on fear, another has riches, another intelligence. But all of them have their identities that they hide from the world, and maybe this side they show to the world is more real than a Bruce Wayne or an Edward Nigma is. 

It is all based on psychology and no other comic can really say that about their heroes and villains as much as the Bat Universe can. 
Without a Joker, this is no Batman. Joker is humor while Batman supposedly has none. Most of the villains also use guns, while Batman won't ever. 

We could do this forever... But yes, I love the bad guys just as much as Batman. They bring out the best and almost always... the worst in the Dark Knight.

So in short, I love the character. Every version of him. He never gives up, he's not perfect as much as it may seem that way. A character who will take it to the limit. Sure, he's got his depressing side, and psycho side, but is still very human. He's got riches, but still is unhappy, but he won't stop until Gotham is safe. No matter who wears the cape or whoever is by his side. With 3 Robins, Batgirl, maybe Catwoman, or Batman Beyond, or Gordon and the few cops that trust him. 

Nothing will stop the Bat.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My "Favorite Halloween Movie" List 2012!

 Halloween is right around the corner and you know what that means? Yup! Non-stop scary movie marathons! And hell, anytime is a great time for a horror flick, so I decided to put together my list of must-watch films for Halloween 2012.

 I will start off with this: I have not seen EVERY movie out there and not all of my selections may be winners, but they are some of my favorites and maybe they will become your favorites too. Let's begin with some familiar faces...

The "Friday the 13th" series is a fun one, thanks to that momma's boy Jason, but only just a handful are worth viewing. My fav of the bunch has to be Part 3, because after all, it's the one in 3D. Just the ways they take advantage of it is great, and even more comical if you're watching it in 2D. After this one, the series turns into more supernatural than slasher. AVOID "Jason Goes To Hell" like the plague. Barely any Jason in that one. And don't get me started on the remake.

The King of Nightmares, Freddy Krueger, also has his stinkers. But if you're going to watch any Nightmare on Elm Street, part 1 is a must, along with New Nightmare, 3, maaaybe 4 and 5. 

Now, you can't do Halloween without "Halloween." I was not a fan AT ALL of the remake, the original however was perfect in my opinion. It's why we have the slasher genre. Dr. Loomis talked about Michael Myers as if he was the devil and pure evil and you feel it. He's just someone who went crazy one day. killed his sister, and that's that. No remorse, no feelings. 

The first two films are the ones to see, the third, "Season of The Witch," is a departure from the Myers story as the series was meant to be an anthology of horror stories. No Myers here, though there is a reference. Movie is all about a corporation brainwashing kids with Halloween masks and at first, I LOATHED it. But once I learned the reason why there's no Myers, I enjoyed it in only the guiltiest pleasure ways. Not a must-see, but you can't help but enjoy this bit of cheese. Oh, and anything H20 and on, AVOID. 

"Hellraiser" brought us my favorite of the horror monsters, Pinhead and his ever-faithful Cenobytes. The first is fantastic for its visuals and only really features Pinhead for just a couple of minutes, but the sequel really picks it up and goes nuts with it. Anything after, you don't really need to see. And anything without Doug Bradley, the actor behind the pins, AVOID that too.

Now, for the not-so familiars...

Since I started off with slashers, why not mention this little gem. "Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon" is a pseudo-documentary about a man who wants to be just like Jason and Freddy. You follow him as he does his thing and like "Scream," they poke some fun at the horror genre. There is even some cameos by big-time horror peeps, so keep an eye out for this bad boy!

 "Trick R' Treat" almost didn't see the light of day and for people like me, it would be a damn shame. It's an anthology of different and intertwining Halloween tales, with little scarecrow boy Sam as the thread that binds it all together. It has received cult status and his fair share of haters, "Trick" is one of those movies you have to see and judge for yourself. And any scary movie that all about Halloween is a no-brainer for a list like this.

Oh, "Slither." Mad genius James Gunn brings us what is essentially a hybrid of "Night of the Living Dead" meets "Body Snatchers" meets "Ghostbusters." More of a horror comedy, it can get REAL dark in some parts and I'm not one to cringe easily. 

It definitely can be shared with a triple bill  alongside "Shaun of The Dead" and "Dead Alive". Plus, alot of practical effects just adds much more charm to this weird one. 

If you love blood, then you'll love director Alexandre Aja. "High Tension" was my introduction to the French man and his appetite for the over-the-top and gritty. Two girls go on a trip for the weekend and find some trouble along the way. And that's all I will say. Aja also directed the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes," which is one of the few horror remakes I actually love. "Dawn of The Dead" and "The Crazies" are up there as well. 

For more violent, tough girl leads, "The Descent" is a good one to pair with "High Tension." It's all about a group of cave-diving girls and their battles with the elements and whatever is hiding in the shadows. Oh, and apparently, there is a sequel to it as well. DON'T WATCH IT.

And here some of the classics...

Director Dario Argento's "Suspiria." Anything Argento really is Halloween appropriate viewing. I hear "Phenomena" is so good too. And with a soundtrack by the band Goblin, just places the right kind of loud, creepiness his movies are so well-known for. 

"The Omen" is another great supernatural film, especially with its ending. Original, of course. "Poltergeist" is safe, family-friendly in a way, but still scary as hell.  And yes, can't forget "Exorcist." I almost want to include "Repulsion" as Roman Polanski really put together a very creepy film about a young woman dealing with her sexuality.

The oldest of the bunch I truly enjoy have to be "Little Shop of Horrors" (not the 80s one but hey, that one's still good) and "House On Haunted Hill." Vincent Price does no wrong for me, with this and "Last Man On Earth." For most people, black and white is tough to get through, but trust me... these are much fun that it won't matter.

 Alright, that should give you a gist of what I'm into and hope that helps you out with your spooky watch parties. I'll have even more right below this, so you'll have plenty to choose from. And if I missed your favorites, please don't hate me! Any suggestions too, you let me know! Have a happy Halloween, everyone!

More quick picks:

Re-Animator: Campy, silly, but great special effects.

The Fly (80s): Cronenberg, man. You want to be creeped out, you go with Cronenberg! And Jeff Goldblum is awesome as the fly-man.

Evil Dead series: Nothing beats the first movie and its bleak, serious tone. Part 2, so over-the-top and so much fun.

Cabin In The Woods: If you haven't seen this yet, DO IT. Everything you know and love about cliche horror, and has a good time with it. A MUST for horror fans.

Braindead/DeadAlive and Bad Taste: Peter Jackson's best films, not to mention goriest. Love the gore!

Just about anything Alejandro Jodorowsky and David Lynch: Yeah, these two are nutty directors. Though their films won't play as well in front of crowds. Too alienating.

Dead Silence: Very well-done, eerie puppets, and much fear.

Devil: People trapped in an elevator  for 90 minutes, and yet it's entertaining and nerve-wracking! Probably the best thing that came out of M. Night, and yeah, I just said that.

Drag Me To Hell: Sam Raimi's return to horror. Not perfect, but alot of fun and great practical effects.

Anything Fulci: He did Zombi 2 and that has a zombie fighting a real shark. Yeah, you're interested.

Night of the Living Dead/ The Dead trilogy: The classic is a must if you've never seen it. Simple zombie flick that is basis of every one to come after. And they never even say "zombie" either.

The Mist: Walking Dead director Frank Darabont brought this one to the big screen with a hell of an ending that has received a lot of flack from critics and movie goers. The ending is what makes for the movie for me and why I recommend it.

The Thing (80s): Practical effects, no computers make this one an easy recommendation. Nothing beats the literally out-of-this-world creature effects and their transformations here. Oh, and Kurt Russell and Keith David, man!

Cannibal Holocaust: This one's definitely not for the PETA crowd. There is real death in this (not of the human kind though) and was basically the Blair Witch/ Paranormal Activity of its time. The people who made this movie even went to jail because audiences believed this! It's not that great, but it's fun to watch a crowd squirm to this!

The Shining: Almost forgot about this one. King, Kubrick and Nicholson make this one a classic and necessary Halloween viewing and really, it's pretty damn creepy. If you never saw the old lady or the pig mask, yeah, then go see it and have a nice day.

Stephen King films: Not all of them, but "The Mist" I mentioned is a story by King. "Pet Sematary" is one of my favorites growing up and still has those creeptastic moments you remember the first time you saw it. "IT" brought us Pennywise the Clown and for a TV movie, it's still freaks you out. "Christine" and "Cujo" I'd like to recommend since they have a charm to them, and can't forget "Carrie" either!

The Devil's Backbone: Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo Del Toro's earlier films involving Civil War and a haunted orphanage. Even Del Toro says this was his favorite film to direct.

In The Mouth of Madness: John Carpenter's movies are on my list a bunch, and this is one that not many talk about. Sutter Cane's popular book series is driving everyone mad and Sam Neill is in the middle of it. This one is a hell of a trip! Also, see Sam in "Event Horizon," a claustrophobic space horror piece!

Alien: This is one of my favorite films of all time. Slow, really takes its time, you're going along for the ride as a stowaway makes this group of space explorers' life a living hell. Part 2 is great, but dunno if I consider that Halloween viewing. But sure, why not?

Let the Right One In: It inspired a US remake, but I feel as if this was the stronger of the two. A boy falls for a vampire and the events that come with it.

Bram Stoker's Dracula: The visuals, the music, and Coppola make this a very epic Dracula film. Plus, Gary Oldman as the Prince of Darkness!

More to come here in this section as the week goes on...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Amazing Spider-Man"

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is back on the big screen, this time in reboot form. Gone is star Tobey Maguire and director Sam Raimi, in comes director Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield as the classic comic book web-slinger. Many thought this film would be unnecessary, with the last movie happening around five years ago and this movie being all about his origins again. Well, after much outcry and some changes, we can now see for ourselves if this was worth it. Is it amazing or not so spectacular?

Let's take a spin... shall we?

Tale as old as time. Boy gets bite by radioactive spider and becomes a crime-fighting superhero. Only this time, our hero Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is trying to find out what happened to his parents and what does a Dr. Curt Conners (played by Rhys Ifans) have to do with them. Along the way, he finds the girl of his dreams in Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and getting into trouble with her dad Captain Stacy (Denis Leary) and the rest of New York's finest.

It's hard not to compare this to the original "Spider-Man" flick from 2002, but really, outside of the standard Spidey origin parts is a different take and a new adventure for the wallcrawler. Just like in the comics, there are different ways of telling the story without completely changing what has been around for 50 years. This was a bold move by the studio to release a reboot so soon after the recent films, but it does right some of the wrongs and at the same time, makes some new wrongs of its own.

The reactions so far to the movie have been mixed, and as a Spidey fan, I wanted to be on the positive side. I know many will hate me for this, but it was just a good movie. Not really amazing, but hear me out. In order to right the wrongs, they had to start over and yes, do the origin story once more. Yes, the love story is done SO much better here and you can feel that Gwen and Peter truly do care for one another. Emma Stone here plays the sweet girl next door and not the weak female love interest that is usually seen in movies like this. She's smart, caring, and willing to do what it takes to keep her superhero boyfriend, even if it means taking on a giant lizard.

And it would be silly not to mention Andrew Garfield. He has to be the best pick for Peter/Spider-Man yet. He played the awkward nerd very well, while not being the full-blown stereotype and still remaining true to being an extremely intelligent teen with a bit of that New York attitude. So kudos to the both of them, they will definitely go far after this.

Rhys Ifans does a good job as the tragic character Dr. Conners/ Lizard. You can't help but sympathize with Conners and some of the decisions he makes as he tries to control the Lizard beast that has taken over his body. Not a fan of the Lizard design, but still didn't take away from how cool some of the action was between him and Spidey. Denis Leary is great as Captain Stacy, playing his usual tough-guy self. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben was great, Sally Field was alright as Aunt May. I feel like there wasn't enough of her here, as all of a sudden she just disappears for most of it.

Oh, and yes, look out for the regular Stan Lee Marvel movie cameo. Could be the best one yet!

Now for some of the bad.

I actually don't mind an origin story, if done right. At times, this felt abit disjointed and it was having a hard time juggling time for everyone. It ends up just feeling like a love story more so than finding Peter's parents. More questions rise than they are answered and I feel like not everyone will like that. Not a fan of the music used, as it sounded more spiritual than superhero. Lots of plot holes too, like some characters teleporting and a certain Google search. But in reality, it's a summer movie and they won't all be perfect. It's a good attempt at the Spidey lore with some great action and stunning visuals, thanks to director Webb and his team. Could be better, could be ALOT worse.

In the end, I'm just happy enough to have a Spidey movie around, and here's hoping in eventual sequels they fix some of these issues addressed earlier. Hardcore Spidey fans, this is a no-brainer recommendation. As far as anyone else, even after everything I said here hasn't swayed you off, then check it out. It is worth seeing on the big screen, though, maybe even in 3D. Oh, and keep an eye out for a very interesting scene during the credits. THWIP!

7.5/ 10

Sunday, July 1, 2012


"Ted" is the first live-action film from Seth MacFarlane, the man behind the animated series "Family Guy." Here, he's directing, co-writing, producing, and even voicing the title character, so... no pressure, Seth! So the question is, is "Ted" any good or should MacFarlane stick to his usual cartoon schtick?

Read on...

Story starts with a young boy named John, who wishes for his teddy bear Ted to be his best friend for life. The bear comes to life, and soon becomes the talk of the town. Cut to 27 years later, an adult John (Mark Walhberg) is still slacking around with Ted, smoking and drinking and getting into all sorts of trouble. John's girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis), after taking all that she can, gives John an ultimatum: it's her or Ted. And much hilarity and, surprisingly, much heart ensues.

Gotta say, I enjoyed this very much. As much as I may be a casual Family Guy fan, I really wasn't looking forward to this movie. The idea is great and sounded fun, but last thing I wanted was a 2 hour Family Guy marathon. Really, that is what it ended up becoming in the end. But just like that series, when the jokes hit, it is too hilarious.

Yes, the usual cut-away humor is here, and the pop-culture references are in full effect, even the cast is pretty much taken from the show. Mila Kunis, Alex Borstein, Patrick Warburton, and even Patrick Stewart, playing your not-too-typical narrator. But at the same time, that is not a bad thing.

Mark Walhberg, who is not known for being the funny guy, does a good job as man-child John. After all, he's getting into all kinds of humorous situations with a CGI bear that he makes it work. And Seth MacFarlane doing his usual thing with Ted the bear, the star of the show. Seeing as it's a rowdy, raunchy teddy bear, however, it works so much better and you just can't end up hating this character. It also doesn't hurt that the effects are really well done here, so kudos to the animators. Mila Kunis does pretty good also as Lori, even though she was kind of a pain at first but the character does have some heart to her and breaks her out of the typical movie girlfriend role that so many movies do badly with. 

Joel McHale was fun as the typical jerk boss and Patrick Warburton had me laughing every time he came on screen in what was a really minor part. Look for some great cameos and again, the usual pop references, not to mention some really harsh jokes at some celebrities (Poor Superman...).  

"Ted" is definitely a recommendation is you're a full-on Family Guy fan. If you hate the series, don't bother. Also, the last 20, 30 minutes kind of drag on and lose the momentum that the rest of the film brought. I wasn't too sure about Giovanni Ribisi's character either. Yes, there is heart underneath all the crude humor but at times it's like they tried WAY too hard. At the end of the day, "Ted" is all about friendship and staying close to the ones you love. Oh, and Flash Gordon too. So I'll give it to MacFarlane as he did some fine work here, not perfect and far from classic, but it works enough.

So if you like everything mentioned above, bring your thunder buddies with you and go check out "Ted"!


Sunday, June 24, 2012


Pixar Studios have been flawless as far as making hits and classic films that both kids and adults love and cherish. Whether it be for the Toy Story franchise or Incredibles or yes, even the mixed crowd of Cars fans, you gotta love Pixar. Their newest is Brave, what is being labeled as their first fairy tale and that is definitely what this is... to an extent. Not much else is being said about the film, but there are many moviegoers curious to see what this tale is all about. 

So does it hit the mark? Yeah yeah, I said it...

The story is all about Merida, a young, but very headstrong princess who is armed with a bow and arrow and spirit that knows no bounds. Her parents, King Fergus and Queen Elinor, want her to follow in the royal Scottish tradition as they have selected three possible suitors to unite the kingdom. Merida just wants to be her own person and because of this, she constantly clashes with Elinor and creates chaos for all of the kingdom. Merida runs away and it wouldn't be a fairy tale without Merida finding... a witch. I won't spoil anything after that!

First off, Merida. What a great character. So strong and determined, she is really a great character for the young girls. Voiced by Kelly MacDonald (HBO's Boardwalk Empire), this powerful lass with the bright red hair shows she is still young in her manner of speaking, but her actions show she's her own individual and not one to be messed with. Definitely not your typical Disney princess and that's a good thing!

Fergus and Elinor, played by Billy Connelly and Emma Thompson, do an exceptional job as King and Queen parents, especially Thompson. Fergus is a gentle giant king, willing to protect his family and kingdom but he'll definitely have a good time while doing it too, while Elinor is the serious, by-the-book queen but is also the heart of both the family and all of their traditions. 

The suitor families, with one of the fathers being voiced by the always funny Craig Ferguson, are just a part of the comic relief to the film. Any time the fathers and their kids appear, you can't help but chuckle at their silliness. Merida's little brothers, the Triplets, are the stars here, however. What the Minions were to Despicable Me, is what these boys were to this movie. Adorable little mischief makers that you can't help but love... but you definitely don't want to be trapped in a room with them!

The animation is worth noting as well. Beautiful work by the people at Pixar, with the most noticeable upgrades being the environmental visuals (the forest, waterfalls, castle) and every bit of strand of hair on Merida. You can tell the improvements here as everyone had strand upon strand of hair and not just a block formed to look like hair, but hers... wow. 

Now, the bad. The twist that happens in the film, I've been told, put off some people. It may not be what you are expecting, unless you've seen every single ad or clip for this movie, which I DO NOT ADVISE! The twist had me doubting halfway in and kind of took me out of it for a bit, but if you go in head-first and give it a chance like I did, you will have a great time in the end.

Fun characters, not-your-average-princess story, stunning animation, and a really great message about family, "Brave" is another solid film from Pixar. Not their best yet, however, but one you really shouldn't miss.