Movies + Beer: HELLBOY 2019

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MOVIES + BEERhellboy 2019

James is joined by Brian and Andrea at Sean O’ Casey’s, and discuss the new Hellboy reboot…among other things…

::END TRANSMISSION::

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Movie Review: RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN

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race to witch mountainDisney
2009
PG

“Don’t go in the pimped out fridge, Jack…”

Back when I was a wee lad growing up , my burgeoning love of science fiction and horror was fostered by, among other things, Disney movies. Classics like The Cat From Outer Space and The Black Hole occupy my nostalgia banks, as does the movies Escape To Witch Mountain and its sequel, Return To Witch Mountain. I was somewhat enamored with the Witch Mountain movies, mostly because it featured kids around my age at the time, who had powers and the guy who played Uncle Jesse on the Dukes Of Hazzard as their uncle. It’s been decades since I’ve watched either one of those, but I’ve always thought these would be prime for either a reboot, or at least a revival movie.

Well, here we are, in the 21st Century, and we now have, if not a reboot of the Witch Mountain movies, then definitely a continuation of the mythos kind of sort-of sequel, Race To Witch Mountain*. Released in 2009, and staring everyone’s favorite wrestler-turned-movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as our human protagonist, proving he’s not only a natural action star, but a Disney family oriented action star as well. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, only with better teeth and diction.

Jack Bruno, a Las Vegas cabdriver struggling to stay on the right path, gets an out-of-this-world incentive when two aliens, disguised as teenagers, suddenly appear in his taxi. In a race against government agents, an alien hunter and time itself, Jack must help the children recover their lost spaceship so they can return home and save their planet and ours.

If we’re going to be completely honest with ourselves here, we have to admit that the original Witch Mountain movies weren’t what you would call amazing genre-bending blockbusters. I’ll be the first to admit that they were rather low-budget and cheesy. Comparatively, Race To Witch Mountain is a fine addition to those two movies. I consider it a requel–a movie that’s kind of a sequel, but also works as a reboot–as it’s a different story, and the two original actors portraying the kids in the first couple of movies have cameos here helping the kids out, using their original names from the films. Of course, that’s just me being a fanboy nerd, here. The kids were a bit on the obnoxious side, but for the most part, I rather enjoyed Race To Witch Mountain for what it was, that being a family friendly sci-fi adventure. Of course, Dwayne Johnson is very good at what he does here, playing the set-upon taxi driver who finds himself babysitting a couple of alien kids.

Overall, I found Race To Witch Mountain just as good as the original movies. The best thing to do is to set aside the nostalgia glasses, and enjoy this as it was intended to be, a sci-fi family romp.

[* = and before you start getting pedantic; yes, I am aware of the TV movie remake from 1995; I’m just not counting that one]

Movie Review: POWER RANGERS

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power rangers movie posterLionsgate
2017
PG-13

“I’ve killed Rangers before.”

Five ordinary teens must become something extraordinary when they learn they learn that their small town of Angel Grove–and the world–is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and before it’s too late, band together as the Power Rangers.

Let me try to explain my history with the 90s phenomenon that is the Power Rangers franchise: as I would mention in the podcast the Exalted Geeks and I would record after watching this reboot of sorts, I was 19 when the original iteration of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers hit the Fox affiliate in my neck of the woods. Even though I was still religiously watching shows like Animaniacs and the most excellent Batman The Animated Series, the Power Rangers didn’t seem all up my ally. Then, while staying at a friend’s house, I was made to watch an episode of the show, to which I remember thinking, “Wow, this is terrible…when’s the next episode?” It was a combination of a bad soap opera and Voltron. On the one hand, I knew it was horrible, but I couldn’t stop watching. Soon I found myself catching every episode; well, up until the middle of the Turbo version of the show. That’s when I decided this was too much camp for even myself to care about. And that really does say a lot.

Anyway, all this to lead up to the fact that I watched this recent reboot of the Power Rangers in movie form. Since the big thing now is to reboot everything from everyone’s childhood, it was inevitable. With the Power Rangers, while I was very much familiar with the source material, I didn’t have as close a personal connection as I would have been had I been a child when the show came out. As such, I can’t really complain that Hollywood is destroying my childhood, or whatever. Which is why I kind of lean more toward the “it was all right, I enjoyed it” side of the split reaction this movie is having.

Power Rangers, the movie itself, is what it is, and that is an action movie with “teens” and a strong sci-fi bent and giant robots fighting giant monsters and stuff. Sure, the tone is quite a bit darker, and the teens suffer from the put-upon angst that every teen and young adult seems to have in movies nowadays. But, I do find that better than the goody-goody do-gooders of the television show. And here, Zordon isn’t the all-wise, all-knowing head inside a giant terrarium; he’s more of a cranky jerk trapped inside a wall of a space ship. And Rita Repulsa was originally the Green Ranger before she turned on her Rangers, which was lead by Zordon, who was a Red Ranger, and not a space witch that was trapped in a dumpster on the moon. But…I like that angle. It works here, I think.

Mind you, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have my points of contention. Like, for instance, the over-abundance of Krispy Kreme product placements. I mean, it was to the point where it was part of the dialog and factored into the search for the MacGuffin Crystals. There’s a scene where, while the Rangers are busy tussling with the giant monster outside, we cut to a shot of Rita sitting down to try out a couple of donuts inside the Krispy Kreme. I haven’t seen this level of blatant shoehorning of product placement like this since the Mountain Dew soda machine turned into a robot in the first Transformers movie.

Overall, though, I did enjoy the movie for what it was. It didn’t try to be a carbon copy of the source material, yet didn’t crap all over it as well, unlike certain recent movies involving giant transforming robots or mutated reptile martial arts enthusiasts. The story was good, the cast had some good chemistry between them, and had just the right amount of cheese to keep the whole “grim n’ gritty” in check. Yeah, if you’re a fan of the series, go ahead and check it out. Results may vary.

Movie Review: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

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ghostbusters2016Columbia Pictures
2016
PG-13

“Okay, room full of nightmares.”

Paranormal researcher Abby Yates and physicist Erin Gilbert are trying to prove that ghosts exist in modern society. When strange apparitions appear in Manhattan, Gilbert and Yates turn to engineer Jullian Holtzmann for help. Also joining the team is Patty Tolan, a lifelong New Yorker who knows the city inside and out. Armed with proton packs and plenty of attitude, the four women prepare for an epic battle as more than 1,000 mischievous ghouls descend on Times Square.

Okay, internets. Are we done, then? Are we finished with all the vitriol, the whining, the knee-jerk reactionary hyperbole? You should be by now, seeing as how it’s been a week since the reboot of the Ghostbusters film finally came out.

Never since that great debate of the proper pronunciation of .GIF have I witnessed such a ballistic split in online nerd-dom over something so now-commonplace as a movie reboot. I don’t think I really have to go into discussing how ridiculous all the objections were; sufficed to say, I ignored the majority of them, opting to watch the movie with some cautious optimism. And my final verdict is…

Ghostbusters 2016 is decent. That’s right: Decent. And that’s not me trying to be neutral to avoid controversy. Believe me, if it would have sucked, I would have said as much, followed by the explanation of why my assessment was as such. I’m afraid anyone reading this expecting a delicious rant, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. I found this Ghostbusters to be entertainingly decent.

One of my biggest concerns going in was the very real possibility that this was going to be the “Girly Ghostbusters”. You know, one of those arbitrary straight remakes with female leads instead, that completely misses the point. Instead, while there be some parallels to the original, this one manages to tell its own story and fleshes this world out decently, and develops the characters into their own identities, and not mere carbon copies of the classic lineup. The effects were very good, with the ghost effects being some of the best parts of this. And when it found its own footing, both the humor and the horror elements gelled together well.

That said…did you catch that part, there, where I said “when it found its footing”? That’s because it took about 20 minutes or so for me to warm up to the characters and the humor. This is not because I don’t like the actors–I’m very much not familiar with their individual bodies of work to form an opinion–but because the first part seemed to rely heavily on juvenile gross-out humor, including a queef joke. And because of this review, I finally had to use Google to look up the proper spelling of the word “queef”. Thank you, movie.

I believe the weakest part of the movie was the villain. He was no Gozer. He was no Vigo the Carpathian. He wasn’t even on the level as the guy trying to get Vigo into our world, Doctor Jarosz. I would qualify this movie’s antagonist as more a baddie-of-the-week on an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I also found the nigh-unavoidable cameos from the original movie border on pandering…with the exception of Slimer. His bit was awesome.

Overall, despite its flaws, despite it being unnecessary, and despite the hordes of whiny fanboys raging against its very existence before there was even a script, Ghostbusters circa 2016 is a decently good movie. It was entertaining, and that’s all it is. The original two movies are in no danger of being usurped by this updated take on the paranormal clean-up crew, and I really don’t think I’ll be rewatching this, or buying the DVD when it’s released, but for a summer action horror/comedy hybrid, you’re not going to be demanding your money and/or childhood back once you get through the end credits.

(check out the Will Code For Beer Ghostbusters 2016 Special pubcast)