“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Hey man, I’m not a monster, I enjoyed WRECK-IT RALPH like anybody, and the sequel is fun too. This licensing crossover bonanza shit has kinda become its own genre since WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT invented it in earnest, so we’ve had the toy version (TOY STORY), the other toy version (THE LEGO® MOVIE), the… everything version (READY PLAYER ONE) and the horrific, soul-rattling nightmare version (FOODFIGHT!). RALPH’s video game version does it just right – an elegantly executed premise full of Pixar-worthy well-thought-out world building, funny characters, good jokes, loving homages, minute detail, occasional Q*Bert cameo. I mean they even had an end credits jam by Buckner & Garcia (look it up). Some time later I went to Disneyland and they had playable Fix-It Felix, Jr. games in the Starcade, and especially seeing it in person you realize what a nice tribute it is to the beautiful design of the Donkey Kong game cabinet and the 8-bit animations of that era of video games. It makes you remember that, crude as they seem now, they are an artform.

So now we have the sequel RALPH BREAKS [sic] THE INTERNET, and at least it’s not a rehash. Sentient video game characters Ralph (John C. Reilly, CRIMINAL) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman, THE WAY OF THE GUN) are inseparable friends from frame 1, and when the arcade they live in gets wi-fi they find themselves exploring the big city that is the internet. It has an actual help desk for a search engine, an eBay building where auctions take place, flocks of Twitter birds overhead, and lots of little blocky avatars of internet users walking around trying to avoid people waving pop-up ads and clickbait in their faces. It’s all very clever and observant (they get a big laugh from an auto-fill in gag, and there’s one about “one weird trick”) and designing the behind-the-scenes characters (a messenger who delivers eBay reminder emails) in the style of ’50s advertising icons helps keep it from feeling desperately current. (read the rest of this shit…)

Creed II

CREED was a perfect movie, a miracle that unexpectedly resurrected the ROCKY series. CREED II, coming from a different director and writers, cannot match it. But it’s a solid continuation of beloved characters from both the original series and the new one that brings them to new places in life, with some boxing, training montages and dramatic music in between. Kinda like ROCKY II.

And of course there are other parallels. Adonis (Michael B. Jordan, RED TAILS) becoming champ, getting married and becoming a father, and also being embarrassed to be seen by the media while coming out of the hospital all beat up. But he doesn’t get a tiger jacket, so it’s not a remake of ROCKY II. Mostly it’s a direct sequel to CREED and ROCKY IV.

Before they ever even announced a CREED II, you and I and everybody else were dreaming of the same thing: a sequel where Adonis meets the man who killed his father in the ring, Ivan Drago, and has to fight his son. It’s one of those things that’s so obvious that they sort of had to do it. If the sequel was about anything else, no matter how exciting, you’d just think “Yeah, but why not Ivan Drago?” (read the rest of this shit…)

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (special Patreon bonus shit)

Okay, let’s try this again. Due to the troubles with the Patreon plugin I’m going to try housing the exclusive reviews on Patreon itself. (Thanks for the suggestion, Shan.) So if you pledge $1 or more to my Patreon you can enjoy the ever-loving werewolf shit out of this exclusive review series. Thanks for your patience!

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON REVIEW

And here’s a link for the first one, TWILIGHT.

Vampire in Brooklyn

I don’t know why there was a Wes Craven movie that I didn’t bother to see in the theater and then didn’t bother to see on home video for over 20 years. Granted, everyone said it was terrible, and it seemed to be an Eddie Murphy comedy vehicle, not a real horror movie, and he started wearing fat suits and shit right around that time.

But these days you can’t take fresh Wes Craven movies for granted, so I decided the moment had come to watch VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN. The verdict: it’s not an unheralded gem. But it’s also not what I had pictured. It’s a mildly interesting failure.

Murphy (DOLEMITE IS MY NAME) plays Maximillian, the only survivor of a tribe of Egyptian vampire who “traveled south through Africa and over the Atlantic to a beautiful island hidden deep in the Bermuda Triangle,” where they lived for centuries before the vampire hunters found them. There’s a certain parallel to COMING TO AMERICA, because he’s this confident, exotic visitor from another culture, looking for a woman. In this case it’s a specific woman, Rita (Angela Bassett, PANTHER, BLACK PANTHER), a rookie NYPD detective who doesn’t know there are vampires, or that her dad was one, or that she’s the last descendent and only hope to revive the race. (read the rest of this shit…)

Widows

When last we heard from director Steve McQueen U.K., his movie 12 YEARS A SLAVE had won best picture. Five years later he finally has a followup, and it’s a violent, artfully crafted heist movie. Now you’re earning that name, my friend.

It’s credited as “based on ‘Widows’ by Lynda La Plante,” which seems to refer to the 1983 ITV mini-series, though there’s also a book version that says “SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE” on the cover, and I have found no definitive answer as to which La Plante wrote first. Anyway, McQueen adapted whatever it was he adapted with Gillian Flynn of GONE GIRL (both book and movie) fame.

Liam Neeson (THE DEAD POOL), Jon Bernthal (THE ACCOUNTANT), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO) and Coburn Goss (MAN OF STEEL) star as a Chicago-based crew of highly skilled, even highlier armed and armoured robber motherfuckers in the vein of HEAT or L.A. TAKEDOWN or DEN OF THIEVES or POINT BREAK or POINT BREAK REMAKE. And by “star” I mean for a couple minutes at the very beginning we see a tiny bit of their heist intercut with them saying goodbye to their wives beforehand and then they get blown up. You barely even see that last guy’s face. Because this is not about dudes like that. It’s about their loved ones who have to clean up their mess. (read the rest of this shit…)

First Man

I really dug WHIPLASH and LA LA LAND so I was gonna see any new movie from director Damien Chazzelle. When I saw the trailer for FIRST MAN, his new one starring Ryan Gosling (FRANKENSTEIN AND ME) as Neil Armstrong, it looked like it was shot in an unorthodox way, but I still wondered why we would need another astronaut history moon movie. Haven’t we seen every variation of this? Clean cut, crew-cut, cut-from-a-different-cloth heroes like they don’t make anymore. Courage and adventure and boy scouts and all that. Is there anything new to say about it?

Well, it is in fact a totally different take. In fact, I don’t see anyone saying this, but it seems to me like kind of a subversion or at least a deconstruction of that ideal of heroism.

Sure, you also have all the stuff about what a preposterous feat it was to figure out you can shoot some guys on a fuckin rocket, have them get out and walk around on the moon, and then come back and land on earth safely. I mean, how the fuck? The filmatism really concentrates on rockets as rickety, iffy propositions. We’re crammed in there with him in the test flights, or with the crew on the real launches. Always claustrophobic. We hear all the roaring, vibrating, clattering, rattling and mysterious straining metal groans from somewhere in the machine. The dials and buttons click and look so impossibly low-tech today. Even when they were the state of the art they couldn’t have felt all that safe. (read the rest of this shit…)

Twilight (special bonus Patreon shit)

This is the first in a Patreon-only review series of THE TWILIGHT SAGA. For as little as $1 a month you can support an ol’ so-called outlaw in his writing endeavors, and as a thank you I got these exclusive reviews for you.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL REVIEW!

This one was originally housed here on outlawvern.com but I had to move it to Patreon due to technical difficulties, and I didn’t want to delete all your comments so I left the post here. So what the hell, this time I’m gonna include an excerpt so you non-Patreons can get an idea of the approach I’m going for. (read the rest of this shit…)

Yes, Madam!

(a.k.a. POLICE ASSASSINS on the DVD I watched)

YES, MADAM! is a 1985 Hong Kong action classic starring the one and only Michelle Yeoh as Senior Inspector Ng, hard working cop who should be on vacation and instead ends up searching for some damn microfilm.

She ends up on the case due to a crazy pile-up of coincidences. Her old instructor Richard Nordon (Michael Harry, AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE) is meeting in his hotel room with a thug named Mr. Dick (Dick Wei, EASTERN CONDORS), who ends up killing him. Immediately after that, two thieves disguised as bellboys happen to break into the room. They happen to steal Nordon’s passport, which happens to contain the microfilm of a forged contract that Mr. Dick was after in the first place. And then Inspector Ng happens to come to the room to meet with her old mentor, just in time to see the fake bellboy fleeing the scene and try to chase him.

There’s a dramatic moment in the lobby when Mr. Dick thinks she’s made him and is ready to shoot her. (read the rest of this shit…)

Angst

I write alot about how horror movies allow you to face down evil vicariously through their heroines and heroes. But there are also some that mess with you by making you follow the perspective of the killer – movies like PEEPING TOM, MANIAC (and its remake), DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE and HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER come to mind.

The 1983 Austrian film ANGST is a masterwork of this type. It’ll fuck you up. To give you an idea, the Blu-Ray comes with an intro from Gaspar Noe, who says it is one of the films that influenced him most. I think that goes for both the bleak subject matter and the inventive camerawork by cinematographer (also writer and editor) Zbigniew Rybczynski. The movie follows a killer as he’s released from prison and then immediately starts killing again. He doesn’t even try to find a place to live or anything. He does stop off at a coffee shop, but it’s for stalking purposes more than for coffee. He’s played by Erwin Leder (DAS BOOT), but the first person narration is read by Robert Hunger-Buhler (Noe prefers the French dub). (read the rest of this shit…)

A Star Is Born (from director Bradley Cooper)

A STAR IS BORN, from director Bradley Cooper, is a very good adaptation of the trailer that played before every single movie I saw in a theater for the last three months. I saw that trailer so many times I would try to act it out and could sing the two songs (one with correct lyrics, even). I would get just those song fragments stuck in my head for days. So it’s exciting to discover that they have second verses.

I don’t know if it’s as good as an adaptation of the 1937 film starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, or the 1954 one starring Judy Garland and James Mason, or the 1976 one starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, or the 1998 made-for-cable one starring Brandy and Casper Van Dien, because I haven’t seen any of them and made up the last one. I have to assume it’s closest to the ’76 because actor Bradley Cooper (THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN) definitely seems to be channeling Kristofferson’s rugged country poet vibe. I even contemplated whether or not he should be allowed to play Whistler if they ever do a new BLADE. Then I realized that really the voice he’s doing is Sam Elliott, so I was delighted when the actual Sam Elliott (ROAD HOUSE) showed up, playing his older brother/road manager. I wondered if that was awkward between the two actors, and then I found a Good Morning America interview where Elliott says Cooper (THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN) warned him “this is gonna be a little weird” before playing him a tape of the voice he was working on. “And it was a little weird.”

What if Elliott hadn’t been available? If they ended up casting, like, Don Johnson or Willem Dafoe or somebody, would they have to imitate Sam Elliott too? (read the rest of this shit…)