"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Archive for the ‘Comic strips/Super heroes’ Category

Madame Web

Monday, February 19th, 2024

As you can see in my reviews of VENOM and MORBIUS (I didn’t write about VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE for some reason, but it’s probly the best one), I sort of have a soft spot for the In Association with Marvel Comics Universe, the last vestige of the era when the movie rights to different Marvel characters were sold to different studios. I definitely don’t consider these to be among the better comic book movies, but there’s something charmingly out of fashion about them that I get a kick out of. They seem magically transported from another time when super heroes were still kind of niche and many of the movie adaptations were trying to make them palatable for normal people, but the people in charge were clueless business assholes who didn’t know what normal people were like anyway, so they ended up making them accidentally weird. The VENOMs are the best merely because they’re a chance for one of my favorite actors to get a paycheck for being a big goof, but all of them have a similar late ‘90s/early 2000s kind of attitude that now seems kind of novel.

What I’ve come to realize is that I tend to go to movies with a mentality of “show me what you got, movie” while some people go to them with more of a “listen up you dirty sonofabitch, you can’t slip one past me.” So I’m gonna be listing a bunch of stupid things in this movie because those were the things that made it fun for me, while others will cite those exact same things as proof that this movie is terrible. We’re really not that far off, I’ve just learned how to get a chuckle from some silly shit instead of get mad at it. If it’s the right type of silly shit. (read the rest of this shit…)

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Thursday, January 11th, 2024

Man, it’s too bad. AQUAMAN was the wackadoo James Wan super hero movie that somehow won over skeptical audiences and literally made a billion dollars. It was set up in a couple other DC Comics movies, so it’s technically connected to them, but it takes place off in its own weirdo fantasy world where people ride giant seahorses and can talk underwater. If any modern super hero movie was gonna get a sequel with BATMAN RETURNS or BLADE II type boldness, it should’ve been this one. Didn’t quite turn out that way, I’m afraid. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell

Wednesday, January 10th, 2024

LONE WOLF AND CUB: WHITE HEAVEN IN HELL is the final film in the LONE WOLF AND CUB series – six films released between 1972 and 1974. It has the same writer of the previous one, Tusutomu Nakamura, but a director who’s new to the series, Yoshiyuki Kuroda (THE GREAT YOKAI WAR).

This is a good one to watch in winter because, as poetically described in the title, a bunch of it takes place in the snow. It opens with our deadly assassin papa and child, Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama) and Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa), skiing their weapon-filled babycart down a mountain. Must be a tall one because time passes, the sky turns dark, Ogami’s carrying a torch. Then the screen turns completely white and you see their silhouettes slowly become visible in the distance, like the opening of FARGO. And come to think of it I’m surprised this babycart doesn’t have a built in woodchipper. It has just about everything else you could need. Maybe it does and we just don’t see him use it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Sri Asih

Wednesday, December 6th, 2023

Okay, I know after 15 years many people have sort of fallen out of love with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I feel you. Maybe you’re looking forward to a world with fewer comic book movies. Fair enough.

But before you go can I interest you in Indonesia’s answer to the MCU real quick? A few years ago I reviewed the 2019 film GUNDALA, written and directed by Joko Anwar (SATAN’S SLAVES), based on an Indonesian comic book character from the ‘60s. I really liked it, and thought it was cool to see a super hero origin story that’s obviously inspired by the American ones, but based in the history, culture and cinematic traditions of Indonesia. Most specifically, for my tastes, that means it has a whole bunch of really great martial-arts-based action. So I was intrigued that it was meant to kick off something called the Bumilangit Cinematic Universe. In the MCU tradition it even had a little tag at the end introducing the heroine of movie #2 here, SRI ASIH. Then the whole endeavor got delayed by that bastard COVID-19, but it finally made its way to U.S. DVD (but I guess not blu-ray) this week under the insulting title SRI ASIH: THE WARRIOR.

Anwar is the executive producer of the whole series, and he co-wrote this one with its director, Upi Avianto (HIT & RUN), just credited as Upi. Pevita Pearce (MAY THE DEVIL TAKE YOU) stars as Alana, whose mom died giving birth to her four months early, during a volcanic eruption, in a car being chased by a demon-faced ash plume. So Alana grew up in an orphanage defending others from bullies until a rich lady named Sarita (Jenny Chang, also a mother in competing Indonesian comic book universe movie SATRIA DEWA: GATOTKACA) adopted her and taught her to be a fighter, who competes against men and is undefeated. (read the rest of this shit…)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

Tuesday, August 15th, 2023

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MUTANT MAYHEM is exactly what I hoped we’d start seeing after SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE: more animated features feeling they have permission to go wild with their visual styles. Directors Jeff Rowe and Keyler Spears already took the baton and ran with it two years ago in THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES; MUTANT MAYHEM shares that film’s anarchic doodles-on-your-notebook spirit and preference for cartoonish exaggeration. But this time they’ve largely abandoned three-dimensional computer animation’s longstanding quest for realistic textures in favor of artistic flair. Not only the backgrounds, but even the characters look like energetic oil pastel sketches. Even objects that appear tactile are covered in lines, squiggles, smears. Light-colored scratches on swaths of black give the impression of reflections or lights, but also of lines drawn by human hands. Computerized precision takes a back seat to creative looseness and chaos. Every frame looks like the concept art that you see in the making-of coffee table books, as if they somehow removed that final step that polishes things but inevitably loses some of their personality. The personality is intact.

It’s also like SPIDER-VERSE in that it’s a fun animated all ages super hero tale with plenty of laughs, good music, and some emotional substance. And until we have too many of those, I enjoy that too. (read the rest of this shit…)

Lone Wolf and Cub: Babycart in the Land of Demons

Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

As a serial discusser of movies, I often run into this thing where I find that other people put a way higher premium than I do on things being logical, or realistic, or believable. They complain about characters making a bad choice or a strange choice or not doing the obvious choice. They seem to think it’s better for characters and stories to be normal, or sane.

Yeah, sometimes, occasionally, maybe, in moderation. Sure. But there are also times when it’s an intentional artistic approach, and clearly a great one, to depict the way the world works, and the way humans behave, in a heightened manner. It can be way more interesting for characters to be extreme, to act unreasonably. It can even be more true to show life how it feels, instead of how it actually is. Or it can just be way more fun to show life how it’s not.

Case in point: LONE WOLF AND CUB: BABY CART IN THE LAND OF DEMONS (1973), the fifth of the six LONE WOLF AND CUB movies. As always it’s a story about traveling assassin Ogami Itto (Tomisaburo Wakayama, THE BAD NEWS BEARS GO TO JAPAN), a.k.a. Lone Wolf and Cub, being hired to kill someone. Usually people hire him by leaving money at a shrine. This time there’s a much more complicated method. A guy gets his attention by walking around wearing a veil with ox-head and stallion-head demons painted on it. When Ogami asks him about it the guy pulls out a sword and quickly loses a duel to him. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Flash

Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

When Barry Allen (Ezra Miller, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN), a.k.a. The Flash, discovers that he can run so fast he travels through time, the first thing he does is what we all wish we could do: go tell Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck, SMOKIN’ ACES) about it. And his cool rich friend gives him wise, succinct advice: if it’s possible for you to change the past, such as by stopping the murder of your mother (Maribel Verdú, TETRO), it would be very dangerous, and besides, our scars make us who we are. Look at me, for example – I’m fuckin Batman!

But as Barry prepares one more desperate appeal for his father (Ron Livingston, KING OF THE ANTS), who was blamed for his mother’s death, it occurs to him that if he traveled back in time he wouldn’t have to intervene during the murder. He’d just have to make sure his mom had tomato sauce so his dad wouldn’t leave for the store, causing a burglar to believe no one was home. A loophole. One weird trick to save the Allen family. Of course, his changes cause reverberations (with the unusual twist that since time isn’t linear it doesn’t just branch off, it changes in all directions), and he spends the movie running around very fast trying to clean up his mess. (read the rest of this shit…)

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Tuesday, June 20th, 2023

After watching BLACK ADAM I figured I might as well complete my DC movie checklist before seeing THE FLASH, by crossing off SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS. Not that I was against seeing it otherwise. I wouldn’t say I loved 2019’s SHAZAM!, but I was pleasantly surprised – as I said in my review, I thought it was a decent kids movie with some laughs, some monsters, and some sweetness.

Of course, I also said “I don’t really care if there’s another one or not” except that I was excited by the introduction of a talking caterpillar villain at the end. If I had remembered that I might’ve been disappointed that this sequel is not about the talking caterpillar, but also maybe I would’ve thought it was a funnier joke when he appears briefly to say he’s not quite ready to enact his evil plot yet. It is a funny followup to the previous teaser, even moreso now that it seems unlikely to ever be followed up on. (read the rest of this shit…)

Black Adam

Monday, June 19th, 2023

Call it super hero fatigue, call it The Rock mistrust, call it what you want, but for some reason I, a guy who has seen most comic book movies, including ones everybody says are terrible, did not bother with BLACK ADAM. Until now. I don’t know, I was trying to figure out something to watch, I knew I’d be seeing that THE FLASH movie soon, and I kinda wanted to catch up beforehand, just for the sake of completism, I guess. So I put it on.

There was a point early on when I honestly wondered, “Am I gonna be the guy who likes this movie?,” ’cause the set up kinda had me going. But it pretty quickly shifted to that feeling you get at the climax of a big wannabe blockbuster you’re not into. A bunch of loud noises and bullshit. Oh well. I will have some nice things to say about it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Superman III

Thursday, June 15th, 2023

On May 5th, 1983, future Superman actor Henry Cavill was born in St. Helier, Jersey. While he was in his crib, on June 17, 1983, the definitive cinematic Superman met Richard Pryor.

Boy, I hope I’m not trying people’s patience too much with this series. I believe 1985 is the earliest retrospective I’ve done previously, and I thought that went well, but what I’ve really realized looking at 1983 is how many of these movies feel just a little bit before my time. I remember being alive then, but I was only aware of a little kid-sized slice of pop culture. I was hearing all about Salacious Crum, but not BLUE THUNDER or anything starring Burt Reynolds. My friends born a few or several years before me, people who are older than Generation Ewok, have attachments to some of these movies, characters and actors that I just don’t.

So I hope it’s not getting annoying. Even if you forgive me for not caring about James Bond or TRADING PLACES, the camel’s back could break when I confess that I don’t really care that much about the Christopher Reeve Superman movies either. I’m so sorry! Let me explain. (read the rest of this shit…)