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Zatoichi/Motorhead combo photo
Zatoichi/Motorhead combo

A Zatoichi/Motorhead mash up is something you didn't realize you needed until now


Zatoichi is metal as f**k
Feb 19
// Hubert Vigilla
The Zatoichi series includes some of the most badass samurai films around. Starring Shintaro Katsu, the story centers on a blind swordsman who turns a new leaf as a traveling masseur. His violent past follows him wherever he ...
The Batman falls photo
The Batman falls

Matt Reeves will not direct Ben Affleck in The Batman after talks break down


Dr. Zaius can't help the DCEU
Feb 19
// Hubert Vigilla
The Batman may be broken. Warner Bros. was in talks with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes/Let the Right One In director Matt Reeves to helm the new Batman film for the DCEU. According to The Hollywood Reporter/Heat Vision,...

Review: Logan

Feb 17 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221303:43419:0[/embed] LoganDirector: James MangoldRelease Date: March 3, 2017Rating: R  Logan is both a sequel to 2013's The Wolverine and a ending to the entire X-Men franchise. In the far-ish future of 2029, we find Logan (Hugh Jackman) making his way across El Paso, driving a limo for money. It turns out mutants have essentially gone extinct, and he is only doing odd jobs in order to take care of the now dementia-suffering Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who's loss of control over his mind has made him a threat. But one day he's approached by a woman accompanied by a silent girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) who needs help getting to the Canadian border and some place they call an "Eden for mutants." Begrudgingly accepting the task when he sees Laura shares a few similarities with him, revelations come to light as Logan has to come to terms with the man he's become. Logan is dramatically different than the rest of the X-Men films, and that's notably due to its R rating.  While I was initially afraid Deadpool's R rated success would mean Logan was full of extraneous foul language and violence (but without the cheekiness), what is present feels incredibly natural. Like we're actually seeing Wolverine for who he is for the first time, making every other performance seem neutered in comparison. This Logan is older, broken, and incredibly violent. He brutalizes enemies, but it's never portrayed as monstrous as his attacks could be because Jackman fills the role with a much needed humanity. The film always makes a point to note that he never initiates the attacks (unlike the brash Logan seen in, say, the first X-Men). The added caveat of slowly losing his healing abilities also grounds this comic book film in an unprecedented way. For all intents and purposes, Logan is a lonely, introspective character drama. While the character work admittedly will be more effective if you've seen some of the other X-Men films (at least the first one to explain some of the world's elements), it's not completely necessary. The film opens with a scene heartily establishing everything you need to know about this character, and I'll go as far to say it's the best opening scene in the franchise to date.  Logan is full of outstanding performances. While some kitchy turns from Boyd Holbrook's Pierce (a mysterious guy in sunglasses who's chasing after Laura, but Logan's not about that so mentioning his role in the story seems unnecessary), Stephen Merchant's Caliban, and a villain revealed later in the film tend to remind you it's a comic book film, the three central cast members anchor Logan's harsh reality. Hugh Jackman, drawing on his years of experience with the character, puts forth a stellar performance. As mentioned earlier, with the amenities afforded by the film's R rating, Jackman's performance rings more palpable than ever. Like this is the character he's wanted to portray since he signed on to these films all those years ago. His rapport with the sickly Charles is one of the best features in the film as he and Patrick Stewart have developed a mentor/pupil-father/son relationship over the years. Or at least ably portrayed as such. Then there's the young Dafne Keen, who's Laura is defined entirely through her physicality and manages to carve a distinct presence between the two.  Now Logan isn't perfect. One of the film's overlying themes of fighting one's past becomes a little too literal, the tone is so well established the encroaching X-Men talk feels out of place, and some of the dialogue unfortunately I felt I had to forgive under the "comic book film" qualifier, but thinking back on it, these issues didn't bother me as much as I thought they would have. Logan's imperfections lend credibility to the central character's imperfections. The film's problems mirror Logan's distraught sense of self. Is he the colorful hero of years past? Is he the beaten down man who's lost his sense of purpose after years of struggle? There's a distinct push and pull between the two tones as they blend into something not seen before in the genre. In fact, it seems, dare I say realistic?  Above all else, Logan is a film of consequence. It's the first comic book film weighted with actual drama and character work. There's an overwhelming sense of finality and dread permeating throughout making every one of Logan's struggles more tense than the last. If you've followed Wolverine through every one of his adventures, you're sure to be satisfied with Logan. If you haven't, there's still enough tactile emotion here seeping through Logan's ever-worsening wounds to draw you in even slightly.  I don't need to see another X-Men film, or another comic book film ever again. Thanks to Logan, they've become irrelevant. 
Logan Review photo
Brutal, harsh, and absolutely glorious
Logan is a response to a litany of unprecedented events. Comic book films are more popular than ever, the X-Men series is still a viable franchise seventeen years later, Hugh Jackman is still in great health an...

Sandy Wexler photo
Sandy Wexler

Adam Sandler's Sandy Wexler now has a trailer no one was looking forward to


Oh, it's that annoying Sandler voice
Feb 17
// Matthew Razak
You know when Adam Sandler does that weird voice where he's kind of talking like a baby, but not really. At some point it was funny, but now it's just kind of sad. Well Sandy Wexler, Netflix's next Adam Sandler movie, seems t...

Review: A Cure for Wellness

Feb 17 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221240:43388:0[/embed] A Cure for WellnessDirector: Gore VerbinskiRelease Date: February 17, 2017Rating: R Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is a young, successful businessman who's tasked by his company to retrieve an executive who's vacationed to a wellness center in the Swiss Alps. But when he shows up to the center, a castle on top of a hill, and meets the mysterious Hannah (Mia Goth) and Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs) he discovers something's a miss in the Swiss. Especially when he's forcibly admitted to the asylum. A Cure for Wellness tests the limits of environmental characterization. It's almost as if it's a thesis statement positing how much a film's setting can balance out faults in its characters as long as its engagingly built. Wellness puts the bulk of its work behind building its central asylum, and thus every human character therein is overwhelmingly unlikable as a result. Lockhart's especially troublesome from the second he shows up on screen. While this is clearly an intentional choice, there's very little to invest in when you care so little about Lockhart's well being. Lockhart's put through the ringer, but the film never quite reaches a place where we care about anything happening to him. As he falls victim to various levels of body disfigurement and gross out torture, it becomes more about enjoying the visceral nature of its imagery rather than further the tension of Lockhart's situation. To slightly remedy this, Mia Goth's Hannah is this childlike sprite of a character who seems out of time and place. Every member of this asylum is an wealthy elderly individual leaving their life behind, but Hannah doesn't seem to have a life of her own. When Lockhart's goal transitions from escape to rescuing Hannah, there's a slight shift in his character but he's still very much irredeemable. Thankfully, Goth portrays the right sense of naivete but Hannah's characterization is all in the performance as the film gives her very little to work with.  The flat characters are only a reflection of the film's setting. But while the drab colors and muted tones do not do them any favors, it works wonderfully for the asylum. Verbinski, most likely culminating a career's worth of visual trickery, absolutely nails a creepy vibe. Stark whites (both in the asylum's outfits and staff) juxtaposed with slimy greens coupled with an overall sepia-toned frame to lock the asylum in a past time. Wellness also surprises with a couple of well composed shots (one of which can be sort of seen in the image below) that provide a welcome breather from the asylum's dank nature. This dankness elevates Verbinkski's eventual gross out, masturbatory thrills and truly reaches a point where it can get under your skin. It just never does. Despite this well crafted world, the narrative falls as flat as the characters. Wellness asks for a hefty amount of investment and forgiveness in order to truly enjoy it.  Due to the magical realism of the setting (where slightly mystical themes and subjects coexist with the modern world), and Lockhart's constantly medicated physiology, Wellness essentially follows an unreliable narrator. But this great idea is stifled by a core mystery that's solvable within the first quarter of the film. Which means, you're left with characters making dumb decisions and have overall less sense plodding through the film's run time. It's Verbinkski's recent editing folly that also gives way to six different climaxes. There was a scene about two hours in that would've been a perfect end, but then it just kept going. That's only one example of this too. There are several sequences that feel entirely unnecessary as they neither build character or flesh out the ickiness of the surroundings. Speaking of icky, the actual ending of the film crosses from cool gross out horror into sexual assault and reaches 'B' movie levels of cheese. It's an unfortunate break in tone from the film's build up, and weird to have it both played straight and ridiculed concurrently. It's kind of a kick in the teeth for those who might've enjoyed the rest of the film.  A Cure for Wellness is a "glass half full or glass half empty" situation. It all depends on your perspective of its waters. Half full of good ideas, but half is brought down by poor execution of those ideas. A film I'd slightly recommend as a cautionary tale for film school students or as some goofy entertainment you'd drink through the first half but pass out before the end.  Unfortunately, A Cure for Wellness isn't even a cure for boredom. 
Wellness Review  photo
Remove the cause but not the symptom
Gore Verbinski has always been a peculiar director. I've been a fan of his ever since he did remarkable work adapting the Japanese film Ringu into The Ring (a series that has not fared well in his absence), but choices in Pir...

Trailer: The Void photo
Trailer: The Void

NSFW teaser trailer for The Void is a gory blend of John Carpenter and H.P. Lovecraft


I'm sold
Feb 16
// Hubert Vigilla
I was completely unaware of The Void until last night. Now it's one of my most anticipated movies of the next few weeks. (I mean, come on, it looks great, but I don't want to oversell it, right?) Written and directed by Jerem...
The House photo
The House

Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are idiots in first The House trailer


Not betting on this
Feb 16
// Matthew Razak
Man, I am a big fan of everyone in The House, but judging from the trailer I don't think those parts are going to add up to much of a whole. Other than the final gag in the trailer almost nothing hits as really funny, just a ...
 photo

New clips, poster show 'Logan' being the best there is at what he does


It's not very nice though
Feb 16
// Matt Liparota
Hugh Jackman's purported final turn as popular superhero Wolverine "Logan" Patch in Logan hits theaters in about two weeks. Also starring Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen, the movie sees an older, grumpier Wolverine on a quest ...
Mel Gibson Suicide Squad? photo
Mel Gibson Suicide Squad?

Mel Gibson among the directors courted for Suicide Squad sequel


Also Jonathan Levine and Ruben Fleischer
Feb 15
// Hubert Vigilla
While Suicide Squad didn't set critics on fire, it looks like a sequel is coming because we can't have nice things. Warner Bros. is hoping to keep the DCEU alive with its misfit band of killers and criminals, and they're...
The Raid (U.S.) photo
The Raid (U.S.)

The Raid remake rides again with Joe Carnahan and Frank Grillo


Make The Raid great again
Feb 15
// Matthew Razak
We happen to be massive fans of Gareth Evans films The Raid and The Raid 2: Berandal. This is mostly because he is possibly the best action director working and because they are some of the best action movies ever. So yo...
Harrison Ford's plane photo
Harrison Ford's plane

Harrison Ford landed his plane on the wrong runway/taxiway, nobody was harmed


Indiana Jones and the Mistaken Runway
Feb 14
// Hubert Vigilla
Harrison Ford had a serious case of life imitating art back in 2015 when he had to make an emergency landing in a vintage plane on a Venice, California golf course. Thankfully he survived the crash and no one was harmed. His ...
Thor: Ragnarok photo
Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok concept art reveals Gladiator Hulk and new villain Hela


Some more Thor for your core
Feb 14
// Nick Valdez
It seems the Doctor Strange home video release is going to pack in quite a bit of goodies. Along with both "Team Thor" shorts, it's also sharing our first peek into Thor: Ragnarok. This concept art revealed during a video tea...
Team Thor photo
Team Thor

Thor reunites with his roommate Darryl in new Team Thor short


I've always been Team Thor's guns
Feb 14
// Nick Valdez
Thor: Ragnarok is one of Flixist's most anticipated films of 2017, and that's mainly because director Taika Waititi offers such a refreshing perspective. Capitalizing on Chris Hemsworth's natural humor and charm, this new "Te...
Happy Valentines Day photo
Happy Valentines Day

These David Cronenberg Valentines transform body horror into bloody romance


Long live the new flesh, and our love
Feb 14
// Hubert Vigilla
It's Valentine's Day, which means you are obligated to do something special-ish because greeting card companies own you. If you are single, this means your parents will guilt you into having children because the biological im...
Affleck may not be Batman photo
Affleck may not be Batman

Rumor: Ben Affleck does not want to play Batman anymore, negotiating with Warner Bros.


Goodbye Batman my old friend
Feb 13
// Hubert Vigilla
Just as Ben Affleck's The Batman was getting back on track with director Matt Reeves in the wings, it's rumored to have hit another snag. It's a big rumor, too, so get your salt ready. According to sources cited by John Campe...
Video Essay on propaganda photo
Video Essay on propaganda

Video essay explores the propaganda methods and rhetoric of Triumph of the Will


"Not a triumph of cinema but of budget"
Feb 13
// Hubert Vigilla
You might recall a video essay from Folding Ideas about the crummy editing of Suicide Squad. It was an informative look at the lessons a person can learn from poor cinematic craft. The video essay was a much better watch than...

Review: Fifty Shades Darker

Feb 13 // Rick Lash
 photo

  Yeah, none of us here at Flixist actually saw it (so far, and Nick, I'm looking at you) ... Fifty Shades DarkerDirector: James FoleyRelease Date: February 10, 2017Rating: R  So, I'm going to pretend I did! Wait. ...

X-Men: Supernova photo
X-Men: Supernova

X-Men: Supernova actually set to shoot this year


Well, that was fast
Feb 13
// Matthew Razak
We all knew there would be more X-Men coming. Not only does Fox like money, but in X-Men: Apocalypse they set up the Dark Phoenix saga about as subtly as a baseball bat to a Walking Dead character's head. Howev...
Fangoria lives... sort of photo
Fangoria lives... sort of

Fangoria issues official statement, says publication will continue in 2017


A vague and apologetic statement
Feb 13
// Hubert Vigilla
Just as our piece on Fangoria possibly folding went live, the publication released an official statement about its future. Brief, vague, and apologetic, Fangoria President and Owner Tom DeFeo said the following: I&rsquo...
Fangoria Magazine dead? photo
Fangoria Magazine dead?

Horror magazine Fangoria may be dead as a print publication, future murky


An official announcement coming soon
Feb 13
// Hubert Vigilla
In its heyday, Fangoria was the premiere horror genre publication. Started in 1979, Fangoria covered mainstream releases, cult gems, and held weekend-long fan conventions that celebrated all things horror. A lot of my love fo...
Melissa McCarthy SNL photo
Melissa McCarthy SNL

Watch Melissa McCarthy savage Sean Spicer again on SNL


Still an accurate impersonation
Feb 13
// Hubert Vigilla
Melissa McCarthy returned to Saturday Night Live over the weekend to portray White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Like the previous Spicer sketch, McCarthy went to town on that prevaricating jabroni, and it just got more ...

Here's a complete list of 2017 BAFTA award winners

Feb 13 // Hubert Vigilla
Best Film La La LandArrivalI, Daniel BlakeManchester by the SeaMoonlight   Best Director Damien Chazelle (La La Land)Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake)Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By the Sea)Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals)   Best Actor Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea)Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals)Ryan Gosling (La La Land)Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic)   Best Actress Emma Stone (La La Land)Amy Adams (Arrival)Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train)Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)Natalie Portman (Jackie)   Best Supporting Actor Dev Patel (Lion)Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals)Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins)Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water)Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)   Best Supporting Actress Viola Davis (Fences)Hayley Squires (I, Daniel Blake)Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea)Naomie Harris (Moonlight)Nicole Kidman (Lion)   Best Original Screenplay Manchester By the SeaHell or High WaterI, Daniel BlakeLa La LandMoonlight   Best Adapted Screenplay LionArrivalHacksaw RidgeHidden FiguresNocturnal Animals   Outstanding British Film I, Daniel BlakeAmerican HoneyDenialFantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemNotes on BlindnessUnder the Shadow   Best Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer Under the Shadow – Babak Anvari (writer/director), Emily Leo, Oliver Roskill, Lucan Toh (producers)The Girl With All the Gifts – Mike Carey (writer), Camille Gatin (producer)The Hard Stop – George Amponsah (writer/director/producer), Dionne Walker (writer/producer)Notes on Blindness - Peter Middleton (writer/director/producer), James Spinney (writer/director), Jo-Jo Ellison (producer)The Pass – John Donnelly (writer), Ben A Williams (director)   EE Rising Star Award Tom HollandAnya Taylor-JoyLaia CostaLucas HedgesRuth Negga   Best Cinematography La La LandArrivalHell or High WaterLionNocturnal Animals   Best Editing Hacksaw RidgeArrivalLa La LandManchester by the SeaNocturnal Animals   Best Animated Film Kubo and the Two StringsFinding DoryMoanaZootropolis   Best Documentary 13THThe Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring YearsThe Eagle HuntressNotes on BlindnessWeiner   Best Film Not in the English Language Son of SaulDheepanJulietaMustangToni Erdmann   Best Special Visual Effects The Jungle BookArrivalDoctor StrangeFantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemRogue One: A Star Wars Story   Best Original Music La La LandArrivalJackieLionNocturnal Animals   Best Sound ArrivalDeepwater HorizonFantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemHacksaw RidgeLa La Land   Best Make Up & Hair Florence Foster JenkinsDoctor StrangeHacksaw RidgeNocturnal AnimalsRogue One: A Star Wars Story   Best Costume Design JackieAlliedFantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemFlorence Foster JenkinsLa La Land   Best Production Design Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemDoctor StrangeHail, Caesar!La La LandNocturnal Animals   Best British Short Film HomeConsumedMouth of HellThe PartyStandby   Best British Short Animation A Love StoryThe Alan DimensionTough   Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Curzon Group BAFTA Fellowship Mel Brooks
2017 BAFTA Awards photo
La La Land scoops up overseas
The BAFTAs last night awarded several top prizes to Damien Chazelle's La La Land, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (Emma Stone), and Best Original Music. It may be a preview of what's to come at the Oscars. Ot...

Matt Reeves Batman photo
Matt Reeves Batman

Matt Reeves in talks to direct Ben Affleck in The Batman


Dawn of the Planet of The Batman
Feb 12
// Hubert Vigilla
Last month, Ben Affleck announced he would no longer direct the new Batman movie. There was speculation that the actor was bummed out by the negative response to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and his recent directorial e...
Avengers: Infinity War photo
Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War promo video teases start of production, Guardians of the Galaxy team-up


Some Avengers assembly required
Feb 12
// Hubert Vigilla
Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel started filming on January 23, 2017. We won't see the finished films until May 18, 2018 and May 3, 2019, respectively, but Marvel Studios released a new promotional video ab...

Review: John Wick: Chapter 2

Feb 10 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
[embed]221140:43282:0[/embed] John Wick: Chapter 2 Director: Chad Stahelski Release Date: February 10, 2017Rating: R  John Wick: Chapter 2 is the movie you want it to be. It’s the movie it has to be. It begins with a Buster Keaton joke. The camera looks up at a wall in New York City that is projecting footage from one of his classic films, but as you watch, you see sounds that fit with it, and you think, “That’s not right. There wouldn’t be those sounds!” and then you see a man off his motorcycle with a badass car in pursuit. The sounds were diegetic. And then we realize that we’re about to watch a Buster Keaton movie, if The General was about a lone Confederate soldier violently murdering the entire Union army. Of course, it’s not really a slapstick comedy. There are some pretty great (CG-enhanced) stunts, many of which are effectively sight gags, but bringing Keaton’s name in will give you the wrong impression of what John Wick: Chapter 2 really is... though I stand by the comparison regardless. That scene is followed by John Wick getting back his car, a loose end from the last film that is dealt with in the first minutes of the film. For those who haven’t seen the original, it serves as a pretty effective entry point into the character. Cross-cutting John Wick’s any-means-necessary acquisition of his vehicle is a Russian mob-man, telling John Wick stories. (Again, everyone knows who he is.) And at the end of it, after a sizeable body count and significant financial damage, John Wick offers peace. And the mob man accepts. Because it doesn’t matter if John Wick just destroyed everything you own, you don’t come after him unless you have a death wish. It doesn’t matter who you are or how many you are; you cross him, and that’s good night.  So he tries to retire (again), and that works for several whole minutes of screen time. But, of course, nothing is ever so simple. Someone who knows John Wick very well indeed shows up, and after some… persuasion(?) gets The Boogeyman to do one last job. Things go badly. For everyone. Except us, the viewers; if people did the smart thing (not antagonizing John Wick), then we wouldn’t get badass movies out of it.  And oh man is Chapter 2 badass. The first film is pretty hardcore, but action sequels always have to Go Big or Go Home, and that’s taken to heart here. It’s not just that the fights are better and the body count larger (though they are), it’s that the staging of everything is just so much more impressive. There are three key fight locations –catacombs, subway* car, and an art installation – that stand out as being particularly spectacular, but all of the fights are great. Because of course they are. That's what the whole thing is about. Much like the first film, though, the gun stuff is better than the hand-to-hand. I am a big fan of the way the close-combat fights are filmed, what with the long takes and wide shots and everything. (Love of all that.) However, the actual fights themselves feel a little… deliberate. This is a problem I have with a lot of fight scenes, actually; it doesn’t feel like the moves that are happening are being decided and executed at the moment. I think you could make an argument that this is true about every single fight scene that Keanu Reeves has ever been in (sorry, The Matrix), and it’s still true here. (I have the same problems with all Christopher Nolan fight scenes, though the problem is much worse there than it is here.) Don’t get me wrong: They’re good fights, really good even, but they’re not Great the way the gunfights are. And the gunfights are really, really great. As in the first film, John Wick applies his bullets liberally; rarely do people get shot fewer than three times. Two to the chest and one to the head is most common, but you’ll see all kinds of combinations… as long as they all turn into headshots. And they have to. Because headshots are kinda his thing. Conveniently, though, he’s the only person as good at headshots as he is, because even though he has an (awesome) bullet-proof suit (justified well enough), he never covers his head. He gets shot at a lot of times, and even hit a couple, but they’re all aiming for the wrong place. Too bad for them. Before Chapter 2, there was (unsurprisingly) a trailer for the F8 of the Furious. It looks pretty cool. I should probably watch all those other ones to get ready for it. But I thought about it again while the credits were rolling. Assuming this does well (and I don’t see how it couldn’t), there will be a Chapter 3 at the very least, but why should it stop there? Why not keeping upping the ante until we hit John Wick: Chapter 8 (running alongside the trailer for Sixteen and Furious)? There’s a whole lot of creativity going on in the action here, and I think that it has a few more entries to go before it could really jump the shark. (Though, honestly, I think an ultra-violent Buster Keaton film would be pretty awesome.) I want our society, ultimately, to know John Wick like John Wick's does. I want to be able to walk into any social gathering, say the name, and have everyone together conjure up stories of multiple murders committed using a single pencil. I want him to be one of the all-time action greats. He deserves to be one of the action greats. And with Chapter 2, this franchise has started off right. Long live John Wick. (And long live John Wick.) *Don’t fuck with me, John Wick: Chapter 2. I know what the gosh darn PATH train looks like. At least put a “C” sticker somewhere on it if you’re going to pretend like it’s the C train. Sincerely,A Guy Who Lives in New York City.
John Wick 2 Review photo
You Will Know His Name
In the John Wick cinematic universe, everyone who matters knows John Wick, by face, name, and reputation. They know the stories, they see the man, and they get a little concerned: “You working again, John?” asked ...

Power Rangers photo
Power Rangers

Castlevania showrunner wants to do an R rated Power Rangers cartoon


Adi Shankar up to his old tricks
Feb 10
// Nick Valdez
Adi Shankar, who was recently revealed to be part of an animated Castlevania series on Netflix, is no stranger to weird, violent projects. Known in fan circles for his "Bootleg Universe," he's made fan films based on Venom, T...

Review: The Lego Batman Movie

Feb 10 // Nick Valdez
[embed]221270:43398:0[/embed] The Lego Batman MovieDirector: Chris McKayRelease Date: February 10, 2017Rating: PG The Lego Batman Movie opening with Batman (Will Arnett) parodying traditional film credits and openings (narrating over the DC Comics logo, etc.) pretty much tells you all you need to know about the film. This is indeed a love letter to Batman's goofy past, and isn't afraid to openly mock the mistakes DC's live action films have made. In this film, Batman is happy being alone. He eats alone, laughs at romantic comedies, and groans when his butler/surrogate father Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) tells him what to do. Aping Batman's more childish tendencies this Batman ignores the help and warnings of others; especially the new police commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson). But when the Joker (Zack Galifianakis) kickstarts a plan to destroy Gotham City and prove to Batman that he's his number one enemy, Batman must learn to work together with his new makeshift family. Including a son, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), who Batman unwillingly adopts and brings along as his crime fighting partner.  Wearing its heart and fun on its sleeve, Lego Batman goes for a full-on kitchen sink approach. There's tons of fan service as it alludes to every iteration of the Batman, ranging from the 60's show to the famous animated series, and as much of its 78 year long comic history as it can. Villains like Condiment King and friggin' Orca, DC heroes like Apache Chief and even some pretty damn great surprises from its Warner Bros licensor pop up here. This stuff is certainly going to be great visual candy for its adult fan audience, and the voice cameos are great for everyone (Mariah Carey is the mayor, folks), but it's definitely going to fly over the heads of most of the audience. But there's so much going on at a time, Lego Batman feels too packed to work. It's literally bursting at the seams every scene with visual information packing every corner of the screen. It's so rife and busy with gags, it's tough to suss out what your eyes are supposed to focus on.  To make its visual matters worse, Lego Batman often features tons of rapid-fire jokes (sharing a problem with weaker animated films), and while some of the gags hit hard, a good amount of them are average. The film compounds its bad joke ratio by offering so many, and there were times where I wish it relaxed on them a bit more given how affecting its emotional core can be. The emotional core of Batman learning the meaning of ohana (and no one gets left behind) is drowned out by the chaos. It's even more of a bummer considering how great the film can be when it actually focuses for second. For example, the opening is fantastic as it provides a packed, yet focused narrative. Broken down it's basically: Joker and some villains attack Gotham with a bomb, Batman saves the day, and Batman goes home alone. Yet the opening features tons of characters, an original theme (with beat boxing and guitar solos), establishes its central conflict (as Batman refuses to let anyone into his life, even his most hated enemy). and wonderfully characterizes this Batman as a lonely, showboating blowhard. It's just a shame the film never reaches the same level of awesomeness as its opening twenty minutes.  The Lego Batman Movie's weakness are stemmed from trying to mine a narrative from a one-note character we've already seen the full extent of in another film. Will Arnett is great as a lead, but his performance reeks of diminishing returns. As his Batman constantly speaks, the blowhard nature of the character crosses over into annoying territory. Luckily, Rosario Dawson and Ralph Fiennes pick up the slack. Just as how Batman stole the show in The Lego Movie as a supporting character, however, Michael Cera's Robin is the clear standout in Lego Batman. His Dick Grayson is infectiously joyous, the character has a cute design (those bug-eyed glasses are inspired) thus amplifying the naivete Cera gives him, and Robin is tasked with driving the familial themes of the plot forward. He also gets the best running gag, constantly referring to Batman as various versions of "Papa," also. It's pretty funny to see Lego Batman showcasing someone other than its main character like its predecessor.  I've been trying my hardest not to compare The Lego Batman Movie to 2014's The Lego Movie, but it's hard not to when the films are ultimately similar. Aspects of the first film's production which worked so well for me before, just don't share the same level of finesse in its spin-off. The Lego Batman Movie works well as a loving parody of Batman fiction, but it's not going to carry as much weight to those who don't really know (or care) too much about it.  The Lego Batman Movie just isn't as complex as I had hoped it'd be. Sure it's nuts to ask a children's film to be complex, but after its predecessor balanced its audiences so well it stings to watch Batman Movie to go for such cheap gags and greatly limit its audience to a very distinct subset of viewers.  But at least it's not a gritty and mean Batman. Little victories. 
Lego Batman Review photo
Better than Batman v Superman anyway
The Lego Movie was my favorite animated film of 2014. It felt fresh, had a story and jokes fit for both children and their parents, and even managed to deliver a heartfelt message at the end. The big standout was Will Arnett ...

Netflixvania photo
Netflixvania

Netflix Castlevania: Producer Adi Shankar says 2 seasons in works, both written by Warren Ellis


Netflix-vania
Feb 09
// Hubert Vigilla
The animated Netflix Castlevania series was announced yesterday, although it was buried in a press release. Producer Adi Shankar, who teased the series back in 2015 on Facebook, took to social media again to share some small,...
Netflix Castlevania photo
It's on like Donkey...vania
Netflix is making a series based on Castlevania, which will debut later this year. The first season of the series has been written by comics scribe Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Iron Man, Planetary). According to Poly...

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Feige: Thanos is kinda the 'main character' of 'Avengers: Infinity War'


Bring in the baddies
Feb 08
// Matt Liparota
For 14 movies (and counting), the Marvel Cinematic Universe has focused almost solely on its heroes, with the villains playing second banana. That might soon change. In an interview with Collider, Marvel Studios president Kev...
Fast and Furious Live photo
Fast and Furious Live

The Fast and the Furious is becoming a live touring arena stunt show


Cirque du Furieux
Feb 08
// Hubert Vigilla
The Fate of the Furious will be in theaters on April 14th, just in time for Easter. If you're looking for another Fast fix, you won't have to wait that long. The Fast and the Furious will become a live, touring arena stunt sh...
World War Z 2 photo
World War Z 2

David Fincher may still direct Paramount's delayed World War Z sequel


The ball is in Paramount's court
Feb 08
// Hubert Vigilla
Paramount Pictures recently killed off the Friday the 13th reboot and delayed World War Z 2: The Zquel. As they figure out how to rework and retool World War Z 2 for a potential 2018 or 2019 release, there are rumors that Dav...
Toni Erdmann remake cast photo
Toni Erdmann remake cast

Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig will co-star in Toni Erdmann remake


Jack Nicholson's first role in 7 years
Feb 08
// Hubert Vigilla
While Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann didn't live up to its initial hype for me, I came to appreciate the film's thoughtful, funny, and rather sad exploration of child/parent relationships in adulthood. The movie made my top 15...
Iron Fist photo
Iron Fist

New Iron Fist trailer reminds me to watch Luke Cage


Yes, I'm very behind
Feb 07
// Matthew Razak
I'm really, really behind on my television watching, but if there's something that's going to make me catch up it will be wanting to watch the awesome-looking Iron Fist with a complete understanding of what's going on in...
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Samurai Jack is back: 5th season has new trailer


Feb 07
// Rick Lash
Diehard fans and casual observers of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim will likely be familiar with Samurai Jack. I'm not sure if the show, created by Genndy Tartakovsky, was breakthrough material or just incredibly unique. Either...
Paramount nixes movies photo
Paramount nixes movies

Paramount nixes Friday the 13th reboot and World War Z sequel from release calendar


Ka-ka-ka-ka... kill-kill-kill-kill...
Feb 07
// Hubert Vigilla
If you were looking forward to the Friday the 13th reboot and World War Z 2 (aka A World War Zequel), you're going to have to wait a bit longer. You may be waiting indefinitely. Paramount Pictures has removed both of these fi...
First look new Lara Croft photo
First look new Lara Croft

Tomb Raider set photos offer first look at Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft


Looks promising
Feb 06
// Hubert Vigilla
It's taken a long while, but the Tomb Raider movie reboot is officially underway, with Oscar-winning actress Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft and Norwegian director Roar Uthaug at the helm. There's also Walton Goggins on board a...

Watch the controversial 84 Lumber Super Bowl commercial in its entirety

Feb 06 // Hubert Vigilla
Yeah, they went there. Donald Trump's border wall. Of course, this the doing of 84 Lumber, so the wall is open, albeit with a "big beautiful door"; still, it seems like a different one than the wall Trump intends to build with US funds. The ad ends on a high and hopeful note about welcoming those willing to work and sacrifice. You know, that good old fashioned American idea that seems so quaint these days--now it's a slogan for a building materials supply company. (Capitalism. Ain't that America? Yes, this is an ambivalent parenthetical.) As pointed out by numerous people online, there might have been something conciliatory about the stuff surrounding the Super Bowl this year. Just consider the commercials, the pre-game, and the halftime show. There was an emphasis on inclusiveness and unity throughout. Black NFL Hall of Famers were spotlighted and honored, The Schuyler Sisters from Hamilton added sisterhood to their rendition of "America the Beautiful", and Lady Gaga performed, which was like Prince playing the halftime show but 20 times queerer. Budweiser's ad celebrated the company's immigrant roots, KIA had Melissa McCarthy as a slapstick eco-champion, and Airbnb and Coca Cola took stances on diversity, immigration, and multiculturalism. None of it was subversive. In the end, these were just ways to sell more sports and sugar and corporate things. I mean, gosh, some jamooks in the oil/petroleum industry shelled out good money to make fossil fuels seem hip and edgy--what the hell was that? But it was nice to see a few gestures toward higher ideals and a better tomorrow as one nation indivisible rather than a nation divided. Consider it a brief but welcome respite. And the game was good, too. I suppose it says something when nods to good old American decency seem like radical action. We live in interesting times. [via 84 Lumber on YouTube]
84 Lumber Super Bowl ad photo
The second half of the ad
Last night during the Super Bowl, 84 Lumber aired part of a commercial about an immigrant mother and daughter on a journey to the border. It was somber and well-shot, and seemed more like a short film than an ad. The commerci...

The Blackcoat's Daughter photo
The Blackcoat's Daughter

Watch the moody, unsettling trailer for The Blackcoat's Daughter


Indie prep school horror
Feb 06
// Hubert Vigilla
Originally titled February, The Blackcoat's Daughter is an indie horror film from writer/director Oz Perkins. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival back in 2015 and has received some generally positive revie...
Justice League pic photo
Justice League pic

New Justice League pic has Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg about to fight or something


Still not sure about this, guys
Feb 06
// Hubert Vigilla
Justice League is on Flixist's most anticipated films of 2017 list, though it's out of morbid curiosity than anything else. Wonder Woman looks promising enough, sure, but then there's dreck like Batman v Superman and Sui...

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