Movie Review – 11 Thoughts About Joker

SPOILER WARNING – THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR WARNER BROS.’ NEW FILM JOKER

In order to fully enjoy Todd Phillips’ new movie, Joker, you have to put aside any ideas you might have that it’s a prequel to any sort of Joker anything that you’re aware of. It isn’t.

I’m looking at this movie as a sort of alternate reality project that’s taking the idea of a character that is well-known and exploring a different way of using said character. If you know your DC comics, then you know that’s pretty much what their Elseworlds imprint did for years and to me this is basically an Elseworlds Joker movie.

You might, as you’re out and about on the internet, see people mention the bizarre concept of “Joker’s origin”. Thye might claim that there is one and that this story of a man named Arthur Fleck isn’t it. Those people are wrong – there has never been a definitive Joker origin, though many writers have presented possibilities or suggestions. The most widely adopted origin is probably the one in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke. While that’s a fantastic story and the original presented is compelling and believable, the origin and, indeed, the entire story occupy shaky ground in DC continuity.

But people like it, so they adopt it.

I’m all for as many variations on characters as creators want to provide, as long as there’s a certain amount of clarity as to where they each fall in current canon. In my opinion Warner Bros. and company did the best job they possibly could at emphasizing Joker’s uniqueness and standalone (for the time being, anyway) nature.

I was excited for this movie, mostly because of Joaquin Phoenix. That guy can act. But I was also excited because I felt like it was a bold decision for Warner Bros. to strike out in a new direction with their DC Comics characters. I didn’t necessarily believe they had found a new path to success, but at least they recognized that what they were doing wasn’t working. Something fresh and new might not be great, but at least it would be free of expectations tied to the existing film franchises.

Was what Joker delivered worth diverging from the set course or should WB have stuck to their guns? Read on and find out! Continue reading “Movie Review – 11 Thoughts About Joker”

Movie Review – 7 Thoughts About 3 from Hell

SPOILER WARNING – THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR LIONSGATE’S NEW FILM 3 FROM HELL

I am a massive fan of pretty much everything Rob Zombie does.

That’s not to say that I think every movie, comic book, and album he has produced is perfect. Far from it. But I love his style and his ability to make even the most bizarre concepts seem somehow mainstream. The man is a pop culture icon; there’s no denying that.

Among all of Zombie’s creations, the Firefly family of House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects are particularly special to me. Not because they’re aspirational or admirable characters – they absolutely are not. They’re awful, nightmarish people. But there’s something compelling to me about these people and their relationships to one another, as well as the world that Zombie has built around them.

I saw House of 1000 Corpses in the theater on opening night. I had been following its troubled production for years at that point and didn’t really believe it would ever be released. I’ll always have a soft spot for Lionsgate just for making that happen.

The film blew me away with its over-the-top style and outrageousness, and my respect for Zombie increased due to his willingness to do seemingly anything, and damn the system.

While I enjoyed the heck out of House, I can’t say that I expected a masterpiece as a follow-up. At best I thought The Devil’s Rejects would be another ninety minutes of schlocky, gory music video. I was so very wrong.

The 2005 sequel was a fantastically shot, brutal piece of despair. With not a single virtuous character to be found, the movie relied on style and grisly action to keep the viewer engaged. For me, it succeeded. The Devil’s Rejects is one of my favorite movies and Bill Moseley’s Otis Driftwood is one of my favorite villains. I’ve dressed up as him on multiple occasions and we named our first dog after him back in 2006.

Since the release of that film Zombie has experimented with a range of other subjects. From his vision of Michael Myers to the psychedelic witchcraft of Lords of Salem to a Ralph Bakshi-esque animated feature, Zombie has dabbled in many corners of genre film. Some I’ve loved and some I haven’t, but Zombie’s name always guarantees a compelling watch.

After fourteen years away from the Firefly family I had no idea what their creator might have in mind or if he even still had the same gusto that made them so compelling in the first place. In my personal experience getting older means getting gentler, but a toned-down Otis, Baby, and Captain Spaulding simply would not work. As such, I went into 3 from Hell full of uncertainty. Beyond the characters, would Zombie even be able to harness the brutal energy of the previous films? Did he still have it in him to create that relentless tone?

3 from Hell was released as a limited theatrical experience via Fathom Events. As soon as tickets went on sale I ordered for the first night, despite the fact that I had to work the next day. Nothing less than an opening night viewing would be good enough for me, and there was no way I was missing the third entry in this series on the big screen after experiencing the first two that way.

Do Zombie and the cast still have what it takes? Was this a worthy follow-up or should the Firefly family have stayed as dead as the conclusion of The Devil’s Rejects suggested? Read on and find out! Continue reading “Movie Review – 7 Thoughts About 3 from Hell”

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Yep, I’m reviewing a movie that came out almost a month ago. And really the main reason is that I wasn’t too excited about it at first. I didn’t care for the super slow and serious Godzilla of 2014, and Kong: Skull Island was merely worth the price of a Redbox rental. What convinced me to finally go and see it? The crappy reviews of course. Critics seemed to dislike Godzilla: King of the Monsters because it didn’t have enough plot or human drama. Those are precisely the things I don’t want in a monster movie so I finally got off my ass last weekend to check it out. I’m assuming that you’ve either seen it by now or don’t care enough if I give spoilers. Continue reading “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”

Movie Review – 10 Thoughts About Pet Sematary (2019)

SPOILER WARNING – THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR PARAMOUNT PICTURES’ NEW FILM PET SEMATARY

Stephen King is pretty hot stuff right now.

Or at least, adaptations of his work are hot stuff.

Heck, even re-adaptations of his work generate a lot of buzz, as was the case with this new Pet Sematary.

I think that it’s generally agreed upon by Stephen King fans that Pet Sematary is his darkest, most unsettling novel. I read it when I was too young to read it and no matter how effective any on-screen portrayal of Zelda is, it will never equal the horror of King’s written words. Nor will any actor ever be able to sufficiently capture the torture that Louis Creed feels, if only because we’ll never experience the character’s thoughts the same way in a film.

1989 saw the release of the first film adaptation of Pet Sematary. It was a blockbuster. Back then I loved it and so did pretty much everybody else. I think we all sort of knew that the acting wasn’t great, but something about it seemed very mature and cool – it was a kind of darkness that we weren’t seeing too often. I also seem to remember it being everywhere. Paramount might have put a little extra push into the marketing, possibly because we were entering into the Summer of the Bat, a phenomenon that would conquer movie theaters and public consciousness for basically the rest of the year.

I was disappointed a few years ago when I realized that the 1989 Pet Sematary isn’t very good. It’s fine by 80s-era mid-grade horror standards and is even a standout among King adaptations, but the acting is bad almost across the board and the direction is clunky.

This made me excited for a new adaptation made to today’s standards.

People often parrot the terms “Is this necessary?” and “Who asked for this?” as an empty-headed way of dismissing remakes, prequels, sequels, and basically anything that they think they can get internet credibility out of criticizing. These are simple-minded, myopic queries that require more thought to answer than to pose (as is the intent), but in the case of 2019’s Pet Sematary the easy answers are “Yes” and “People who love that book and recognize the failure of the 1989 movie”.

Did directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer and their cast and crew succeed in delivering a worthy horror experience or will we be waiting thirty more years for a satisfying adaptation of the Creed family tragedy? Read on and find out! Continue reading “Movie Review – 10 Thoughts About Pet Sematary (2019)”

Movie Review – 7 Thoughts About Shazam!

SPOILER WARNING – THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR WARNER BROS. PICTURES’ NEW FILM SHAZAM!

Plenty has been said about Warner Bros.’ DC movies over the past six years since Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel kicked off a planned connected universe of films. I’m not going to rehash any of it here other than to say most of the movies were not done the way I would have done them, but that I have enjoyed all of them to one degree or another.

Shazam! is part of a new initiative to release movies that aren’t quite so grim and miserable and visually oppressive. As a matter of fact, the trailers for Shazam! made it look like a straight-up comedy. After the swashbuckling action of Aquaman it looked like WB was really trying to do different things with their beloved and potentially lucrative DC Comics characters.

The superhero now known as Shazam was called Captain Marvel for years. I don’t know the whole story behind this, but I’m sure you can Google it. I spent most of my life thinking he was called Shazam. Given that, you can probably guess that he isn’t really one of my guys.

Regardless of my level of familiarity with Captain Shazamvel, I do have a tendency to get excited about superhero movies. And because of what’s been going on with the DC movies I have a particular interest in seeing just what the heck they’re doing at any given time. Switching gears and producing what seemed to be a superhero version of Big was a bold move, and possibly a brilliant one.

Last Thursday night I took the family to the local Regal RPX – which, by the way, is now my favorite format for seeing movies – to see this newest entry into the DC Extended Universe. Was it what we expected and will it carry on the successful trend set by Aquaman? Read on and find out! Continue reading “Movie Review – 7 Thoughts About Shazam!”

Movie Review – 11 Thoughts About Us

SPOILER WARNING – THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR UNIVERSAL PICTURES’ NEW FILM US

This is much later than I like to post written movie reviews. My original intent was to record a conversation with our friend Chad J. Shonk because this movie deserves not only a deep conversation but the insight of a professional. It made me think and feel a lot of things and I knew Chad would be the perfect guy to hash it out with.

Unfortunately I just found out that I have to work on the day that I had scheduled to talk to Chad. So now I’m writing my thoughts and hoping to record at a later date. Unfortunately the further I get from the movie, the less clarity I’ll have regarding it and the more other things will crowd in to take my attention, so that conversation may never happen.

Thanks, day job. You ruin my dreams but pay for my Ser Davos costume.

Jordan Peele is a badass. He’s brilliant, he’s funny, he’s a pop culture/genre sponge; but most importantly, he can focus those qualities into creating things that are unique, yet wear their influences proudly on their sleeves. His sleeves. Whatever.

I’m a huge fan of Key & Peele, less so a fan of Get Out. I thought the movie was extremely well done and had a fantastic cast, but had some story and pacing issues that kept me from becoming as engaged as I wanted. Jordan Peele’s work still impressed and excited me, though, and I couldn’t wait to see what he would do next. All signs seemed to be pointing to the fact that he was becoming a powerful force in Hollywood and one of the few that  might have the potential to enact sweeping changes in not only the processes but the entire mentality of the movie industry.

Does Us continue Peele’s upward trajectory or does it represent a stalling point in the creator’s career? Read on and find out! Continue reading “Movie Review – 11 Thoughts About Us”

Repost: Movie Review – STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN In Hunt to Kill

Originally posted on the old Needless Things in August of 2011

I want to tell you about this amazing movie I watched Monday morning. But I’m going to have to resort to spoilers to do it justice, so don’t read this if you don’t want the magic of STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN in Hunt To Kill ruined for you. Just go to Comcast’s OnDemand service and watch it right now. Continue reading “Repost: Movie Review – STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN In Hunt to Kill”