Movie Review: The LEGO BATMAN MOVIE

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lego-batman-movieWarner Bros.
2017
PG

“Wait a minute. Bruce Wayne is Batman…’s roommate?”

There are big changes brewing in Gotham, but if Batman wants to save the city from the Joker’s hostile takeover, he may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. Maybe his superhero sidekick Robin and loyal butler Alfred can show him a thing or two.

Admittedly, 2014’s The Lego Movie was probably one of the more unexpected hit movies based on a toy property to come out that didn’t have giant robots turning into vehicles or Michael Bay’s name attached to it. I still haven’t watched The Lego Movie as of this writing, mind you; that’s mostly due to my disdain of the nigh-ubiquitous “Everything Is Awesome” theme song that certain chipper types at work seem to utilize as their own personal theme music. I’m sure I’ll get over myself and get around to watching it eventually. Not as of yet, though.

Anyway, reportedly the most popular side character in that movie was Batman, which lead to the spinoff, The Lego Batman Movie. There was no doubt in my head that I was going to see this movie. I remember sitting in the theater a year prior, waiting for the exorcise in overstuffed mediocrity that was Batman V. Superman, and watching the teaser for The Lego Batman Movie, then leaning over to one of the Exalted Geeks in attendance and saying, “Why aren’t we watching this movie?” The Lego Batman Movie, even then, looked to be the superior Batman movie to, not only the one that we ended up watching that day, but to pretty much every other Batman movie that has come before.

Calm down, fanboys and fangirls. You know I’m right. Just hear me out. But first, the rundown (also, there may be spoilers ahead, so be ye warned):

The fun begins with Batman villain The Joker, along with pretty much all of Batman’s rogue gallery (and then some) attempting to hijack a plane carrying stupid amounts of explosives, when he’s once again foiled by The Batman…only to have his heart broken when Batman informs Joker that he doesn’t consider him his greatest nemesis. This prompts the Joker to begin planning his greatest revenge against the Dark Knight…by surrendering himself and the rest of the rogues to the newly appointed Commissioner Barbara Gordon, thereby rendering Batman’s crime fighting services superfluous. Bruce Wayne, while attending a charity event, inadvertently adopts Dick Grayson, then hatches a plan to sneak into Superman’s Fortress of Solitude to steal the Phantom Zone projector with plans to put Joker in the most inescapable jail in existence. Of course, this is just playing into the Joker’s hands, as his master plan is to break out all of the ultimate baddies that were stuck in the Phantom Zone previously to take over Gotham. Can Batman get over his need to be on his own to fight the evil that has taken over Gotham? Will he allow himself to be part of a family again? Is it possible to reference every single aspect of Batman history without coming off as pandering and ham-fisted?

As many have already indicated, The Batman Lego Movie was a highly enjoyable animated action comedy that not only works well as a satire of the various bits of media that Batman has appeared in since Detective Comics No. Something-or-other, but somehow gets to the very heart of who the character of Batman is much better than the other movies ever did. And that is, deep down, Batman doesn’t want to suffer the pain of losing the people he loves, so he keeps everyone at a distance. Until he comes across a situation in which he has to drop those emotional shields of his and let others inside to work together. As a family, if you will.

Character deconstruction aside, The Lego Batman movie should be watched by everyone, not only the fans of the Batman movies, or the first Lego Movie, but everyone. The writing, the animated action, the imagination that went behind this, everything gels together so well that you almost have to take in a second showing just to get all the things you may have missed before. And believe me, if you want to go just to geek out on the Batman, this movie is jammed to the cowl with various references and Easter eggs to geek upon. Even I was impressed at how obscure some of the villains included were.

I need to reel myself in, lest I spend more time geeking out about this movie. Bottom line, if you haven’t seen The Lego Batman Movie by now, you need to go see it while it’s still out in the theaters.

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NECRO SHOCK RADIO – February 25, 2017

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FEBRUARY 25, 2017*

*- Yeah, it’s a day later than the date it was supposed to go on, but that’s the nature of the wifi here in the Therapy Asylum…anyway…

Featuring Selections From:

NECRO SHOCK RADIO -February 18, 2017

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February 18, 2017

Featuring Cuts From:

NECRO SHOCK RADIO – February 11, 2017

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February 11, 2017

Featuring Cuts From:

NECRO SHOCK RADIO – February 4, 2017

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FEBRUARY 4th, 2017

Featuring cuts from:

::END TRANSMISSION::

Movie Review: IT FOLLOWS

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movie-review-it-followsRADiUS-TWC
2014
R

“Okay, even though it is following you I can still see it. It is not done with me either. Okay, like I told you, all you can do is pass it on to someone else.”

For 19-year-old Jay, fall should be about school, boys and weekends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, or something, is following her. Jay and her friends must now find a way to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind…

It’s funny, really. I skipped out of watching the recent (and by “recent”, I mean within this decade of the 21st Century) teen horror flick It Follows when it was out in the theaters. Mainly because it was a modern teen horror movie, and I have yet to be even somewhat impressed with any of those released in the past fifteen, twenty years or so. I actually find more amusement at the audience reaction in the theater to the sub-par jump scares and cliche’s being watched on the screen than I do with the actual movies. Once in a while, I do find myself amused by the movie, but it’s never in the way intended by the film makers. Maybe it’s because I’m in my fourth decade of existence, but I refuse to believe that teenagers and young adults have mediocre tastes when it comes to horror. I could be wrong, though.

Anyhoo, after It Follows was released, I started reading and watching online reviews stating that the movie was actually good. These were reviewers that were starkly honest about their reviews, who pull no punches but aren’t critical for the sake of being critical. Podcasts from long-time, jaded horror fans like myself. People who, if they said they liked it, I would have to check it out for myself. No guarantee that I would like it in kind, but nine times out of ten I probably would. Mind you, I didn’t have any word from personal friends who may have watched it. Regardless, I decided to wait until it was released on VOD to give it a watch. It was a couple of years, but I finally watched it. And all I have to ask, is…what was the movie everyone else watched? Because clearly it wasn’t the same one I watched.

After getting my hopes up from all the positive reports about It Follows, finally watching the movie was such a let down of such that I hadn’t experienced since watching the 1998 Godzilla movie. Worse, because at least the Godzilla movie had things blowing up and getting demolished to keep most of my attention.

I will give It Follows this: it has, at best, an interesting concept. Not a unique one, mind you; variations of the whole “stalked by a curse” have been done many times before. Even ones where sex is the catalyst of said curse. And that’s not even getting into the ham-fisted symbolism. And make no mistake, it’s so much ham-fisted in this movie, that I’m surprised it doesn’t cut to the director shouting at the camera “This means something! I’M BRILLIANT!”

While there is a nice, slow burn to the movie, and there is a good bit of atmosphere to help with the build-up and feel, there’s just so much missed opportunity here that it’s downright frustrating to sit through watching the mishandled attempts at the horror execution by a cast that clearly were directed to constantly react to everything like they’re watching a two-hour YouTube video of a goldfish swimming around their bowl.

It Follows is a movie that had possibilities, but fell rather short in the execution. I spent a good amount of time checking the time left on the movie, which is usually a bad sign right there. When something did happen, it was rather underwhelming. Mostly, it was a lot of watching “teenagers” running around, looking scared and shocked, one character constantly reading fan fic on her phone shaped like a pocket mirror (which, admittedly, was kind of cool looking), with everyone emoting with a kind of lethargy, and when the final showdown occurs, the only reaction is relief that things are soon to be over so we can get on with the rest of the day.

Overall, I found It Follows to be a mediocre teen horror flick that tries hard, yes, but ultimately fails to deliver anything beyond a “meh” reaction. Maybe I don’t get it, but I certainly didn’t find It Follows to be the “game changer” that is “unlike anything I’ve ever seen” and an “instant horror classic” that I’ve seen other reviews proclaim it as. It’s worth a look-see, but I find no reason to dwell on it longer than a mere one-and-done.

Movie Review: The VVITCH

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movie-review-vvitch-theA24
2015
R

“Wouldst thou like the taste of butter? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?”

A devout Puritan family in 1630s New England are exiled from their village, and struggle to survive in their new home situated at the edge of a mysterious forest. The sinister, witching forces in the wilderness emerge silently to terrorize them, first by kidnapping the youngest of their five children. As their life-sustaining crops fail, the clan fall victim to paranoia and fear as they begin to turn on one another, eventually suspecting teenage daughter Thomasiin of witchcraft.

I’m afraid that everything I know about the Puritan society in America’s past comes from Nathanial Hawthorne novels, and of course the Salem Witch Trials. In other words, it’s not a very flattering image that’s been presented of these sectarian Christian settlers in this country of ours. Of course, a lot of our country’s early folklore and proto-horror tales come from the fables and myths created by these seemingly uptight yet hale-and-hearty shoe buckle enthusiasts in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Some very good American Gothic yarns have sprung from this era’s imagination, to be certain.

Which brings us to The VVitch. Yes, I’m using the double-“V” usage on what is normally a “W”, mainly to keep in time with the period setting that has been meticulously researched by writer/director Robert Eggers. Meaning, he made a greater effort than just spending a couple of hours on Google, like I normally do. Puritanical beliefs and behaviors, folklore, witches, vocabulary and grammar, all brought together to make the movie feel as real and authentic as possible, and it works greatly to that effect. I have to credit the actors, who all really made the archaic language and mannerisms come across as genuine and effortless. I can imagine how tempting it could have been to make things needlessly campy; these guys pulled it off.

I am going to go ahead and point out, like so many others have, that The VVitch doesn’t fall neatly into the general area of “horror” as we know it. While there are supernatural elements in the movie, they aren’t so much seen as felt; even then, it’s left wide open as to whether what’s happening to the family is, in fact, the result of supernatural shenanigans, or if it’s the natural mental breakdown due to their circumstances, buffeted by the strong religious superstitions that come with their sect of their faith.

The VVitch is a great, Ye Olde Fashioned Gothic tale, both in the time setting and the atmosphere of the story, building up the tension and the natural paranoia slowly, filling you with a sense of dread to the point where a scene featuring a static shot of a bunny feels darkly off-putting.

Make no mistake: The VVitch is a horror movie, but it’s an unassuming one that will find its way burrowed deep underneath your skin, delighting in the way you will squirm until the end, and even then will stay with you long after the end credits have stopped rolling. Greatly recommended.

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