Movie Review: 22 JUMP STREET

Leave a comment

22 jump street
Columbia Pictures

“Say something cool when you throw it!”
“One, two three! Something cool!”

  • After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Senko when they go deep undercover at a local college. But when Jenko meets a kendred spirit on the football team, and Schmidt infiltrates the bohemian art major scene, they begin to question their partnership. Now they don’t have to just crack the case–they have to figure out if they can have a mature relationship.

Did there need to be a sequel to the 21 Jump Street movie? Rhetorical question. Obviously, it’s a bit late in the game to question the need of one; they made a sequel. And since I can’t watch one and not watch the follow-up, I went ahead and watched 22 Jump Street pretty much immediately after watching the first. And, yeah…this was definitely a sequel. To a movie. Let’s just get to it…

For the second go-round, the Jump Street headquarters was moved across the street from its original address. Which is how they managed to get that title. Anyway, our two protagonists from the first movie are assigned to go undercover to find out the source of a deadly new designer drug making its way across campus. Only, this time it’s at a college, instead of a high school. And really, aside from the change of scenery-and a bit more mature class to work with–this is essentially the same movie with some tweaks to at least make it more than your standard retread. To ramp up the wackiness, though, Ice Cube’s Captain Dickson character is given a much more prominent roll, as Jonah Hill’s Schmidt happens to be dating his daughter, resulting in one of the more hilarious scenes when Dickson finds out. It involves a taser, let’s just say. The dry wit of the person who turns out to be the villain was done well. And the end credits montage was worth sitting through, especially for the cameo shot of Richard Grieco as Dennis Booker.

Overall, though, as a sequel to a movie that was really not needed (but was made anyway), 22 Jump Street works again as an American Pie-style comedy if directed by Michael Bay. Worth a rental.

Movie Review: 21 JUMP STREET

Leave a comment

21 jump street
Columbia Pictures

“Those are jocks, those are nerds…I don’t know what those are…”

  • Former high school foes turned rookie cop partners can’t catch a break–until they’re assigned to pose as students and bust a drug ring inside their old alma mater. Living like teenagers again, they slip back into their adolescent selves and risk the case–and their friendship–with hysterically disastrous results!

As this second decade comes to a close, I look back on this and stand amused at how many meta-style tongue-in-cheek movie adaptations of nostalgic television shows from the 70s, 80s and 90s there were. Or just straight adaptations that could have benefited from a sense of humor (I’m looking at you, Miami Vice). It’s nothing new, really; it’s just that the Teens have been the time where a lot of the shows that I grew up with watching got the big screen treatment. My generation is nostalgia fodder now, it seems. I’m just waiting for that gritty 90210 movie re-imagining that’ll inevitably happen.

21 Jump Street was one of the shows I watched on occasion back in the day. I was really more of a fan of Booker–he was a way cooler character than Johnny Depp’s Officer Hanson character, I thought. But that’s besides the point. The actual point is, they made a 21 Jump Street movie.

Originally, I had no intention whatsoever with watching this big screen adaptation. For one, I wasn’t really that big of a fan of the show to begin with. I don’t think I could make it through an entire episode before getting bored and losing interest. Secondly, they made the movie into a comedy. And it looked like one of those bawdy stupid kind of comedies that pandered to the lowest common denominator (says the guy who watches Asylum movies on a regular basis). And I kept that vow…until the summer of 2019, when my health took a turn for the worse and I found myself bedridden for a few months. Yeah, boredom will make you do odd things.

Anyway, so I watched this 21 Jump Street. And… *sigh* Okay, I do have to say that I did find it somewhat entertaining. Mind you, the humor does lean towards the crude side of the comedy spectrum, which I was expecting. Didn’t make the eye-rolls any less…um, eye-rolly. But, underneath all that, there’s an underlying smart satire hiding amidst the sex and drug jokes.

Story-wise, 21 Jump Street isn’t really an adaptation/re-imagining of the television show; it’s more of a loose continuation of that show. Essentially, a couple of rookie bicycle cops are reassigned to the recently re-opened Jump Street program after a couple of decades of being mothballed (presumably immediately after the show was canceled), and assigned to find out the source of a deadly new designer drug circulating around campus. The two rookies in question were your standard jock/nerd odd couple dynamic who bonded during Police basic training. Of course, things have changed since they were in high school, and that’s where a lot of the comedy elements come into play. Wacky shenanigans ensue, with the two cops’ bumbling inexperience working to their advantage.

Of course, the best thing about this movie is Ice Cube as the Captain of Jump Street. There are cameo appearances by series originals Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise and Holly Robinson Peete in their original rolls (Depp and DeLuise I caught immediately when they showed up; Holly Robinson Peete I missed originally, and noticed while doing a bit of Google research on the movie for the review), which was awesome in a nerdy way. And like I said, there were more than a few moments that elicited some snickers from me. Probably because of the pain meds I was on at the time, but still.

Overall–and this is probably due to my extremely low expectations going into this movie–21 Jump Street was more entertaining than I thought it was going to be. That isn’t saying much, as this is, at best, an American Pie style comedy if directed by Michael Bay. Worth a rental, at least.


Leave a comment


James is joined by Brian in watching an early morning showing of Doctor Sleep, the sequel to 1980’s The Shining. Listen in as they chat about it at Sean O’Casey’s, and stick around as Brian rants a bit about the upcoming Star Wars movie in December…



Leave a comment

The House With A Clock In Its Walls movie posterUniversal Pictures

“Be a dear. Fetch a knife and stab me in the ears.”

Ten-year-old Lewis goes to live with his oddball uncle in a creaky old house that contains a mysterious `tick tock’ noise. He soon learns that Uncle Jonathan and his feisty neighbor, Mrs Zimmerman, are powerful practitioners of the magic arts. When Lewis accidentally awakens the dead, the town’s sleepy facade suddenly springs to life, revealing a secret and dangerous world of witches, warlocks and deadly curses.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls was a young adult Gothic mystery that was written by John Bellairs and published in 1973. I’ve never read anything by John Bellairs. I even went through his bibliography to make sure I didn’t inadvertently read one of his novels in grade school and just didn’t remember doing so. I was a voracious reader, even back then, and gravitated towards mysteries with a solid spooky supernatural feel to them. Weird as a kid, weird as an adult. But, no, I hadn’t read any of his fiction, which is odd, as they would have been right up my alley.

Anyway, The House with a Clock in Its Walls was the first in a series of books staring protagonist character Lewis Barnavelt, and proved to be a hit with the readers. It was adapted once before as one of three segments in the television anthology Once Upon A Midnight Scary, which was hosted by none other than Vincent Price back in 1979. Then, it was adapted into a full-length feature film in 2018 staring Jack Black.

The first thing I want to point out about this adaptation is that, this is directed by Eli Roth. Yes, that same Eli Roth who gave us the movies Cabin Fever and the Hostel series. He also did the cannibal horror film The Green Inferno, helmed the Death Wish remake, and stared in Inglorious Basterds. I’m not criticizing his movie choices; I’m merely pointing out that Eli Roth’s name isn’t exactly in the Top Five of names that pop up when we’re discussing family friendly fantasy films.

Also, I didn’t mean to use alliteration like that. Totally unintentional.

Second, did we really need to use the lettering style in the title to be a rip-off of the Harry Potter film series titles? Derivative, smacks of desperation, shows a lack of confidence on the studio’s part for letting this movie stand on its own. Ultimately, a pointless gripe. Moving on…

As a movie, I believe that Eli Roth has a bright future with young adult family dark fantasy films, if The House With A Clock In Its Walls is any indication. This movie is right up there with personal favorites like the Addams Family movies and the classic Tim Burton flicks. Jack Black is his usual fantastic self here, playing the roll as the eccentric warlock uncle Jonathan Barnavelt kind of subdued to his normal manic style. He plays off well with Cate Blanchett’s Florence Zimmerman character, the longtime neighbor and friend who is constantly trading barbs with Jonathan. Owen Vaccaro is also rather good as the child character of Lewis Barnavelt, the nephew that is brought into the world of magic, starts to learn magic himself, and then resurrects the dead to impress his friends. As you do.

It’s dark, it’s whimsical, it has some great visuals as well as a good Gothic atmosphere, and it doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of the story. The House With A Clock In Its Walls is a great movie, thumbs up all the way. Check it out if you haven’t done so already. Recommended.

Movie Review: The DARKEST MINDS

Leave a comment

darkest minds20th Century Fox

When teens mysteriously develop powerful new abilities, they are declared a threat by the government and detained. Sixteen-year-old Ruby, one of the most powerful young people anyone has encountered, escapes her camp and joins a group of runaway teens seeking a safe haven. Soon this newfound family realizes that, in a world in which the adults in power have betrayed them, running is not enough and thy must wage a resistance, using their collective power to take back control of their future.

So, back in April of 2018, we were supposed to have an X-Men spinoff movie, one that wasn’t necessarily tied into th franchise proper, but promised to be more of a horror movie with its story of mutant children being terrorized by the normies. I couldn’t wait to see this movie. But then, news came that the studio decided to pull that movie and push it for over a year later, because…reasons. Whatever, no X-Men horror movie. So, instead of that movie, that same year we got a movie that has nothing to do with the X-Men franchise, but is totally an X-Men story: The Darkest Minds.

Or, more to the point, X-Men Lite. If you want to be kind of jaded about it. For a more, shall we say, optimistic spin, this would be X-Men for th modern YA crowd. Meaning, we have a story here that requires very little investment in thinking about, stock characters we’ve seen before in other YA sci-fi action movies like this, plot beats you could see coming from low space orbit…but, despite all that, I did find myself enjoying this on a certain level.

Keeping in mind that I probably wasn’t the target demographic The Darkest Minds was aiming for, I realize that this could have been far more worse than what we ended up with. The Darkest Minds is a decent movie; it did keep my attention, the effects were pretty good, and the way it was shot was gorgeous.

Overall, The Darkest Minds is what it is: A movie about teenagers with powers going up against adults who misunderstand and fear them. There might be a hamfisted metaphor there, I think. Anyway, not a bad way to kill some time on a rainy afternoon. One and done viewing, for me.

Book Review: DOCTOR WHO – City Of Death

Leave a comment

doctor who city of deathJames Goss
ACE Books

The Doctor almost wished that for once he could sweep aside all the reversing the polarity of the death ray nonsense and just sit down for tea and natter over macaroons. If it wasn’t for the Count being a homicidal maniac, the two of them would get on famously. What a pity.

Back between September 29th and October 20th in 1979, the BBC broadcast one of the serials that sci-fi author Douglas Adams had a hand in writing; in that Adams heavily re-wrote an unfinished script that was originally titled “A Gamble With Time”. What resulted was a Doctor Who serial where the Fourth Doctor and is then-companion Romana run into an ancient alien while on holiday in Paris, an alien who inadvertently kick-started life on Earth due to an accident millions of years prior that killed off the remainder of his race, and is working to go back and prevent said accident. Also, there’s an Inspector involved. British wackiness ensues.

Over time, “City Of Death”, despite it being one of the more popular Doctor Who serials, was never given the Target Books novelization treatment initially. This was due mainly to Target offering the standard advance price to Adams for adapting the story, with Adams retorting, “I don’t want to be embarrassing but I do have a tendency to be a best-selling author,” and refusing to allow anyone else to write one.

It wasn’t until after Adams’ untimely death and long-time Doctor Who writer Gareth Roberts doing a bonny adaptation of Adams’ “Shada” script when we finally got an official novelization of “City Of Death”. Yeah, it was also supposed to be written by Roberts, but eventually the reigns were given to James Goss.

There. That takes care of the Obligatory History Portion of this review. Let’s get on the novelization, shall we?

As mentioned previously, the Fourth Doctor and Romana are on holiday in 1979 Paris, France, enjoying and relaxing in an outdoor cafe’, when the Doctor notices a lady scanning the security setup around the Mona Lisa with alien technology. So, along with an Inspector, they follow her back to a chateau owned by Count Scarlioni. There, they find equipment used in time experiments, along with several copies of the Mona Lisa. Romana and the Inspector continue to investigate things, while the Doctor zipps off in the TARDIS to visit Leonardo da Vinci, about the Mona Lisa copies. Romana and the Inspector are captured by Scartioni, with Romana pressed into building a working time machine by threatening to destroy all of Paris if she doesn’t; meantime, in the past, the Doctor is captured by an earlier iteration of Scartioni, who then explains that he is the last of an alien race that was wiped out by their ship exploding on Primordial Earth 400 million years ago, give or take a century. This explosion had the inadvertent effect of sparking life on the planet, which also created the concept of irony. Through the eons, Scartioni had been manipulating history to where, by the time the 20th Century rolled around, the technology was such that he could feasibly begin working on a time machine to go back to the beginning and stop the ship from ‘splodin’, funding the entire thing with selling off the several copies of the Mona Lisa he had commissioned da Vinci to paint. Of course, this plan doesn’t sit well with the Doctor, so he escapes back to 1979 Paris, which leads to a confrontation and showdown with the alien Count.

Like with the other Doctor Who serial novelizations I’ve read, I hadn’t seen the televised show this was based on before reading City of Death. I still haven’t gotten around to watching it; but based on this novelization, I probably will do so sometime shortly.

As a Doctor Who story in book form, City Of Death is written in that same kind of style that typified works by Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams…mainly Douglas Adams, probably because he wrote the script of the show itself, so it would make sense that James Goss would imitate his style. I haven’t really read anything of Goss’ outside of this and his other Doctor Who adaptation The Pirate Planet (also originally scripted by Adams), so I don’t know if that’s his natural writing style, or if he’s just imitating what he would think Adams would write, had he actually did the novelization himself. I might have to rectify that.

Regardless, reading this novelization of City Of Death was a blast. I recommend picking this up and checking it out.

HALLOWEEN’ING Day 30: Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Leave a comment

halloween'ing 2017bram stokers dracula

I realize that it seems odd that I’m recommending the Francis Ford Coppola-directed remake of the movie Dracula that came out in 1992 for a Halloween movie viewing, rather than the original Bela Lugosi classic from 1932. And believe me, it’s not because I think that Bram Stoker’s Dracula is superior to the first one. Far from it. It’s just that, this iteration of the big screen Dracula was the first movie I watched straight through, and ignited an interest in the character that has lasted for decades later.

Comparisons to the source material aside, as a movie itself, Bram Stoker’s Dracula still holds up as a Gothic romance movie, complete with great period visuals, breathtaking scenes, and some great performances…and also Keanue Reeves. Who, I think, can be forgiven his performance, as he was still trying to shake free of being pigeonholed as Ted “Theodore” Logan at this point in his career.

Greatly atmospheric, a nice slow and dark buildup, and a first part that actually references Vlad Tepes, aka the inspiration for the character of Dracula. And let’s face it, there are way worse Dracula movies out there.

Bram Stoker’s DRACULA


Older Entries