Movies+Beer: JOHN WICK 3

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Join with Exalted Geeks Brian, Jacob, James Classic and some other guy as they discuss the newest John Wick movie…does it hold up to the other movies? Plus, Brian has some words about this season of Game Of Thrones, and a bit on the upcoming movies on the docket…

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Uncle NecRo Watches: HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U

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Uncle NecRo is joined by Brian from the Will Code For Beer pubcast in watching the sequel to Happy Death Day, HAPPY DEATH DAY 2 U. Did he loath it as much as the first one? Did the movie actually pull off the impossible and made him like it? It’s…complicated. Let’s just say that, this is the first Uncle NecRo Watches that made him get a beer for the pubcast…

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Movie Review: The WONDERFUL LAND OF OZ

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wonderful land of ozChildhood Productions
1969
NR

Okay, so…show of hands: How many people reading this has tortured yourselves with the Yuletide schlock classic Santa & The Ice Cream Bunny? Huh. Well, either you’ve never heard of that cinematic atrocity, or you’re too ashamed to admit that you secretly watch it every year along with your family, despite their collective protests. Or, is that just me? I may need help. Anyway…

Depending on which cut you’ve seen (admit it), you’re familiar with either the “Jack & The Giant Beanstalk” or “Thumbilina” segments. Both ultra-low budget fare, featuring paper mache’ sets, equally paper-thin acting and musical numbers that will haunt your nightmares for all the wrong reasons. These were directed by one Barry Mahon, a director known for not only badly made childrens’ movies (like the bafflingly horrible Santa’s Christmas Elf Named Calvin), but also more adult exploitation flicks.

The Wonderful Land Of Oz, Mahon’s adaptation of the L. Frank Baum novel The Marvelous Land of Oz, is a faithful–if not ultra low-budget–adaptation. Or so I’m told. I haven’t read the source material, and I’m only familiar with the classic 1939 film The Wizard Of Oz as far as movie adaptations go. And now this one. I have only myself to blame for that.

Anyway, after an opening musical sequence that tries to go for whimsy, but thanks to a badly constructed purple cow (among other things) ends up traumatizing anyone in visual range, we meet a young boy named Tip, who’s busy constructing a pumpkin-headed scarecrow in which to scare his guardian, the wicked witch Mombi. This backfires, as Mombi instead brings the pumpkin headed guy (named Jack Pumpkinhead, who sadly never ever sings about Halloweentown) to life, and then threatens to turn Tip into a garden statue…in the morning. You can’t be turning children into statues without a good night’s rest, apparently. While Mombi is slumbering, Tip runs away with Jack Pumpkinhead in tow, off to the Emerald City to speak with its ruler to get help. Of course, this being a sequel to the first book/movie, the head guy in charge of Emerald City is now the Scarecrow, while the Tin Man is off ruling his own kingdom. What happened to the Lion, you may ask? Pshaw, he doesn’t appear in this movie, so that’s of no importance to the plot. Anyhoo, along the way to Oz, he gets captured by an all-female army that’s marching to Oz to overthrow the Scarecrow and rule Emerald City as they see fit. Once there, while the Army of Revolt confuses the City Guards with logic, Tip manages to escape to warn the Scarecrow of the impending invasion, something which the Scarecrow is kind of okay with, really. Turns out, ruling a city is totally exhausting and stuff. So, the Scarecrow, Peter “Abomination Against Nature” Pumpkinhead and Tip escape to the Tin Man’s realm, where they decide they want to take back Emerald City from a bunch of girrrrrls, and thus return to find that not everything is going as planned for the leader of the rebellion. Then, Glenda the good Witch Fairy stops by with some Deus Ex Machina by way of revealing that the true heir to the Emerald City is a girl that has been under the “care” of Mombi. And when confronting Mombi to the whereabouts of the girl, she reveals that, to keep the girl safe from those seeking her out, she turned her into a boy…a boy she named Tip. Yeah. Didn’t see that one coming [/sarcasm]. Anyway, they return to the Emerald City, with Tip now back to his…er, her original form of a girl, and she’s left in charge of the city with some characters helping her in her education. Oh, and there’s a humanoid bug character that will haunt your nightmares as well in this.

Watching The Wonderful Land Of Oz is like being forced to watch an Elementary school play that was slapped together and directed by a teacher who clearly had delusions of adequacy in putting on a production. Ah, but the ultra-cheep sets and costumes, as well as the cringe-worthy acting is nothing compared to the musical numbers. Gads, those will haunt your nightmares.

Word has it that the director wanted to get Judy Garland to do the narration for this. Probably best that she didn’t get involved in this thing. If you happen upon the Wonderful Land Of Oz, pass on by like the devil is at your heels.

Movie Review: GLASS

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glass movie posterUniversal Pictures
2019
PG-13

“What do we call you, sir?”
“First name, Mister. Last name, Glass.”

M. Night Shyamalan brings together the narratives of two of his standout originals—2000’s Unbreakable, from Touchstone, and 2016’s Split, from Universal—in one explosive, all-new comic-book thriller: Glass. From Unbreakable, Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn as does Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price, known also by his pseudonym Mr. Glass. Joining from Split are James McAvoy, reprising his role as Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities who reside within, and Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, the only captive to survive an encounter with The Beast. Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb’s superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men.

After being surprised by how good the movie Split was, I found myself actually looking forward to the green-lit final chapter in M. Night Shayamalan’s superhero trilogy, which started with Unbreakable back in 2000. The trailers that finally were released did a great job in showing just enough to keep me intrigued about what the movie was going to be, while not really spoiling anything in the process. I even managed to get Brian+Andrea to come along and watch, and then we recorded a podcast about it:

SPOILERS!

For the most part, i found myself rather satisfied with this final entry in the trilogy. I had some theories that cropped up from watching the trailer, mainly wondering if this was all going to be like that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where she wakes up in a psychiatric ward and we’re left wondering what was the real world and which was the fantasy. Well…kind of yes, kind of no. Not to get into spoilery details (you’ve been warned), but the movie did a pretty good job story-wise throwing doubt as to whether these so-called super-powers were real or imaginary. Until the end, mind you, when the big twist happens and I was left wondering if I liked the way it ended or not. I’m still rather up in the air about that, and I probably won’t really come to a firm conclusion. I am, however, leaning a bit towards Didn’t Like Entirely, But It Doesn’t Ruin The Movie as far as the ending goes.

The movie itself is a nicely shot slow-burn, building up to a rather explosive showdown between Bruce Willis’s protagonist, and James McAvoy’s Beast personality. Everyone is great in their respective roles; however, it’s once again James McAvoy that steals the show with how deftly he’s able to switch different personality traits convincingly like that. Bruce Willis does a pretty good Bruce Willis, as always, and Samuel L. Jackson…well, what can I say? He’s the man. He plays the titular character pretty much catatonic for the first half of this movie, and still maintains a strong presence in the scenes he’s in. And when he actually does begin to put things into play, it’s just awesome to watch him work. There’s a scene where he is just watching The Beast take out a couple of guards, and he manages to act more with his face than many other actors can manage in entire movies.

Overall, though the movie did unravel a bit with the last 20 minutes or so, and I’m still not entirely satisfied with how things ended, Glass is still far better than it should be with a movie of this kind of scope. Glass could have been just another haphazardly slapped together sequel to capitalize on the popularity of the last movie; instead, there was attention paled to details that pretty much begs for more than just one viewing. However, I would probably recommend a matinee viewing, if you’re going to catch this in the theater. Recommended.

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: SHORT CIRCUIT 2

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short circuit 2TriStar Pictures
1988
PG

“Hubcaps, corn dogs, soul.”

Short Circuit was a surprise summer hit in 1986. So, obviously, a sequel was inevitable. This time around, though, the two primary stars from the first one–namely, Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy–are not in this sequel, and instead the movie has Guttenberg’s assistant from the first movie–you know, the white actor portraying the guy from India stereotype–as the main human star of the film. Of course, the response went as well as you could imagine.

As far as my experience with the movie, I didn’t watch this when it was originally out in theaters. I had no desire to, really. I figured I could wait, and either catch it as a video rental, or if I was at my grandparents and it played on Cinemax. I did end up watching it on cable–in 1990, on a hotel television while on vacation with the family.

Number Five, aka Johnny Five, that incredible, loveable robot from the smash hit Short Circuit, is back and taking the big city by storm in this action-packed comedy adventure. Upbeat Johnny’s out for some “urban input,” but some street hoods, a greedy banker and a gang of crooks see his naiveté as their high-tech ticket to easy street. Will Johnny survive the big, bad city and its big, bad city slickers? Keep your wires crossed when you switch on this high-voltage film.

Short Circuit 2 is your basic fish-out-of-water comedy movie, one of those “country boy goes to the big city, wackiness ensues” type of things, only with the country boy part replaced with a sentient robot that hasn’t attempted to overthrow humanity for some odd reason.

Anyway, the movie itself is fine, though it might again cause some grumbling with the portrayal of an Indian character played by a white guy in this day and age; for me, the most memorable part of this movie was when Johnny 5 befriends the Los Locos gang. Their catchphrase will stick in your head long after the credits roll, here. The best way to watch Short Circuit 2 is by way of a double-header with the first movie, obviously.

Movie Review: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY The Ghost Dimension

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Movie Review PARANORMAL ACTIVITY The Ghost DimensionParamount Pictures
2015
R

“Ryan, your daughter was born on June sixth, two-thousand five. Right? It’s the sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth year, two-thousand five. Six six six. I believe this is no coincidence. She’s part of the prophecy.”

So, here we are. Paranormal Activity, subtitle The Ghost Dimension. AKA Paranormal Activity 5. Paranormal Activity 6, if you count that spin-off The Marked Ones. Which I don’t. And because I’m a masochist when it comes to these movies, let’s see if this is a case of the same-old, same-old, or if the Paranormal Activity franchise still has something new to give at this point.

The Ghost Dimension follows a new family, the Fleeges–father Ryan, mother Emily, and their young daughter Leila–who move into a house and discover a video camera and a box of tapes in the garage. When they look through the camera’s lens, they begin to see the paranormal activity happening around them–including the re-emergence of young Kristi and Katie.

At this point, it should come as no surprise that the Paranormal Activity movies hold nothing new and innovative for the series. While the attempt to spice things up with the whole 3D aspect was decently done, I believe that franchise fatigue has set in, and a sense of treading the same ground as the previous movies seriously diminishes any kind of visceral thrills. Which is a pity, because the visual effects are fantastic, and the third act really goes all-out. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make up for the weakness in the script and story.

Overall, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is a passable horror movie at best. It does not deliver in the whole all questions will be answered! the promotional material promised, and ends the series with kind of a wet splat. Worth it if you have nothing better to watch.

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