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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Matt's Take: The State of Marvel's Netflix Universe

What an age of wonder we continue to live in! Superheroes, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, *cough* dc *cough* and so much more. Every comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy nerd is living their wildest dreams with the arms-race continuing at a pace never before seen in modern pop culture. If you dream it, and there is a market for it, it will surely be adapted in some form or another. But are chinks starting to form in the armor of Netflix/Marvel/Disney's after a pretty rough take on their latest hero, "Iron First."

Full disclosure, I've yet to dive into the newest Netflix Marvel series, "Iron Fist," but man, based on those reviews, which I normally take more serious then a fortuneteller in a strip mall next to the Chinese Take-Out, there has to be something to them, well, because there are so many bad ones.

But in comparing Season One of "Daredevil" that many people thought pretty much changed the game for Marvel, where are they starting to go wrong after it's Second Season? Sure, "Jessica Jones" upped the storytelling and introduced the strongest female character that Marvel has put on the screen yet (sorry Black Widowers), but there has been a noticeable drop in consistency.

Perhaps the seasons are a little too long...for me. Some would argue they aren't long enough, but 13 episodes, with maybe about six of the episodes being of substance and moving the plot along, 10 episodes seem like the way to go.

This brings me to "Luke Cage,' currently the highest rated Marvel TV show, at least on Rotten Tomatoes, the "be all, end all" of Movie, TV, blah blah blah reviews. As a whole, the show is good. It takes on a lot of issues that scare conservatives and white people, and show that no matter what color you might be, corruption is universal. That might be reaching a little too deep into "Cage" but it does show the social climate of a predominate African-American neighborhood, and is no doubt the most politically charged of the TV MCU so far.

Mike Colter IS Luke Cage. He's physically imposing, tender at times, but still a reluctant hero who thinks more about his situation than the events happening around him. He's the anti-thesis to Daredevil in many senses. Whereas Matt Murdock seeks justice and protects his neighborhood, Luke stands on the sidelines and lets his native Harlem fall victim to elected officials and criminals. He knows what he has to do, but prefers to hide and let the neighborhood rip itself apart. Of course, as in most of these superhero origin stories, he sees the error of his ways and with the help of some well-written female characters, and of course the introduction of a villain that can tear his world apart, comes to his senses and decides to save the day.

Unlike "Daredevil" and "Jessica Jones," this series also lacked an actual villain with a super-powered background. No mind-control or extreme ninja skills with an option to come back from the dead. It was, at first, a fight between a super-strong, yet reluctant hero, and a crime boss, and turned into a super-strong, now active hero, against a crime boss, but now a crime boss is in a super-suit. I do like the re-inclusion of the almost long forgotten Hammer Industries back into the MCU, and it re-opens the doors to maybe get Sam Rockwell back into the mix, which is always welcome.

With the positives, comes the negatives. I really wasn't a fan of the final fight between Cage and the season's big bad, Diamonback. It was underwhelming, there just wasn't much there, and even though some people might think the build up was just enough to give the final fight some pathos, but just fell flat, just like many fights and bad guys in the MCU. To this date, Kilgrave, aka, The Purple Man, is the only villain that really comes to mind that posed a great threat, as well as it being the most personal and tragic.

And while this might make me a traitor to all of my musical sensibilities, considering I love Wu-Tang Clan, I really could have done without the Method Man "freestyle" about Luke Cage during a segment of Sway in the Morning. I don't know, it seemed so forced and just kind of an out of nowhere element of the show. Now listen, I love Method Man and everything about Wu-Tang Clan, but....why? Why include a musical interlude about Luke Cage in the middle of an episode. No sir, I don't like it.

Where they'll go with Season Two of "Luke Cage," I don't really know, and will they go the route of releasing the next season before "The Defenders" is finally released, and will the less-than-favorable reviews of "Iron Fist" effect said "Defenders."

Sure, I haven't gotten started on "Iron Fist" just yet, but I honestly do feel my enthusiasm waning for these more mature Marvel hero(ines). Yeah, it looks like Frank Castle will be returning sooner rather than later, but just like Roman Times, the crowd is fickle and will boo without mercy if they don't like something. That, or in fact, "Iron Fist" really is that bad.

People also tell me "Hey, 'Agents of SHIELD' has gotten better." Meh, I'm sure it's fine, but first impressions are everything, and with the "Winter Solider Oki-Doke," as I'll call it, and a character who was as insufferable as Skye (who I also hear got better with time) I pretty much tuned out. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Marvel, TV-wise, has had it's share of ups-and-downs, and ebbs-and-flows, and should be able to bounce back from a couple of sub-par, ie, not able to meet the lofty expectations of "fans," outings lately.

What we all need to remember is that while we all waited with bated breath for these Marvel shows to come to Netflix, how high were the hopes for "Daredevil?" I'm sure a lot of people would raise their hands and yell out, "Oh, I knew the whole time!" Puh-lease! After the letdown that was Ben Affleck's "Daredevil," and the juggling of show-runners, will you honestly tell me without laughing that you had 100% confidence in Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock and the kid from the Mighty Ducks as his sidekick? You...are a liar.

We were spoiled with "Daredevil" and it ultimately lead to unrealistic notions that everything that Marvel would put on Netflix would be diamonds. This is their first lump of coal, according to "highly qualified" reviewers, but the real test will see how this effects future seasons and the chance that Marvel is willing to take on even more fringe characters. Personally, I'm waiting on Moon Knight, Marvel's version of Batman pretty much, but it worries me now because of the backlash of "Iron Fist." Thanks critics, this is why we can't have nice things...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Disney's Direct to VHS Legacy

With another live action Disney remake on the horizon; "Beauty and the Beast," I thought it would be interesting to look at another thing that Disney used to do before they decided it was a good idea to remake and/or create live action spin-offs of some of their most well-known films.

Many people consider the late 1980s and early 1990s the Renaissance of Disney Animation. And that's a fair point. From "The Little Mermaid" to "The Lion King," from 1989 to 1995, you could throw a rock and hit a great Disney Animated Film. But with great box office, comes the need for more money! Normally the first step was to release it on VHS in the giant clam-shell case and warn everyone that if you don't buy it quick it will go into "The Disney Vault." Their next step was something that no other studio did, at least at the time; Direct to VHS Sequels!

Looking back at the 90s, these direct-to-VHS (and later DVD) were being fired off left and right. Between 1994 and 2008, over 40 sequels were released straight for home consumption. Normally these sequels never lived up to their predecessor and in 2011 production ceased for all future direct-to-home sequels since executives said that these sequels were inferior to their originals. Kooky...

One of the most memorable offering was "The Return of Jafar."

After the success of "Aladdin" in 1992 it only seemed natural to release a sequel, and to be fair, "The Return of Jafar" isn't that bad and it marked the first Straight-to-VHS sequel that Disney had released. The one drawback was the lack of Robin Williams, but that was later rectified in the inferior 2nd sequel, "King of Thieves." 

To not take the piss out of this post, I can honestly say that I haven't seen another Direct-to-Home Video Disney film, but here are just a few of some of the other winners that you can still find in those giant clam shells.


Not exactly a Murderer's Row of Disney excellence, but they are still an important part of Disney history. Fun fact, "Toy Story 2" was originally supposed to go Direct-to-VHS, but in a late decision, it was released to the theaters. Consider what could have been if the decision was to actually relegate such an early Pixar film to what I would consider "film purgatory."

Bringing this back around, will the live-action "Beauty and the Beast" be any good? Who knows, but in all honesty, was "Maleficent" and good? Was "Cinderella" really any good? This seems to be the new normal for Disney at this juncture and only time will tell if this new wave of live-action remakes will go the route of the doomed Direct-to-VHS experiment.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Some of Our Favorite Ladies on IWD 2017

On this International Woman's Day we at Simplistic Reviews would like to take a little time and thank all the women in our lives; from moms, to wives, to girlfriends and sisters, as 2Pac said "you are appreciated."

But since we are technically, at least some would say, a movie, TV, and pop culture blog, let's take a look at a few ladies that we appreciate from the large and small screen:

Buffy Summers
You can pretty much pick from any show that Joss Whedon has either created or worked on and find a memorable female character. While Kristy Swanson created the roll in the 1990 film, Sarah Michelle Gellar perfected the vampire-killing cheerleader from Sunnydale.


Leslie Knope
Nevertheless, she persisted...


Black Widow
 Joss Whedon does it again in creating and fleshing out the Russian Secret Agent that works for SHIELD, Tony Stark, or anyone else she sees fit. Without the popularity of Black Widow, film adaptations of Captain Marvel and even Wonder Woman would have still been a pipe dream. And let's not forget Agent Carter.


Daria and Jane
 Even 20 years later, the duo of Daria and Jane are as relevant as ever, and are the patron saints of smart and sassy chicks.


Gail
 Like a lioness, or in her case, a Valkyrie, Gail is the protector of Old Town in Basin City and shouldn't be fu*ked with


The Bride
Beatrix Kiddo would not be denied revenge after the massacre on her wedding day. Throw in her maternal instincts, like Gail, she is another not to be fu*cked with.


Kagero
A bad-ass female ninja with a deadly touch. Her duality of whether she is good or bad is alluring and she makes the ultimate sacrifice to save a man's life. Would Jubei have the balls Kagero had?


Gloria
Gloria is a woman on a mission; to be on Jeopardy and tell people what foods begin with the letter Q. No matter what, she sticks by her man Billy, until she's fed up and leaves. A refreshing reminder that if you fu*k up too many times, a girl like Gloria will Rollerblade off into the sunset.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Movie Review: Get Out

*This is a pretty spoiler-free review that leaves a lot to be debated about.*


A lot of you know that I'm a horror guy. But these days there really isn't much to offer outside the possession, found footage, creepy ghosts sub-genre. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse every time I say that, and I say it so often it's exhausting, but it needs to be said. Unfortunately Jason Blum has tapped into something that people love and keep coming back to for some reason. The irony doesn't escape me that "Get Out" is a Blumhouse Production. Sometimes you just have to put your hate on the side burner.

As far as a film that combines high concepts, social commentary, and elements of horror and thriller alike, you're not going to get much better than "Get Out." Not to mention the fact that it makes white people uncomfortable to talk about is an added bonus. Most reviews coming out are about how the film is great, injects something special into the horror genre, yada yada yada. But I guess the thing at this point is that talking about the plot could spoil the intentions of the film and the sizable reveal in the 3rd Act.

So here's the long and short of "Get Out." Chris has been going out with Rose for a few months, so naturally the next step for Chris is to meet Rose's parents. Chris and Rose load up and head out of town for a weekend in the country with her family, the Armitages'. What follows is a weekend that shows the sinister intentions of the family, despite their demure social front and fondness of being worldly liberals who would have voted for Barack Obama a third time.

You can sum this film up to the friend that you know, who is white, that feels he understands the condition of minorities by trying to relate with them at a base level, ie, taking an accent with their speech, telling them you would have voted for their leaders again, etc. Speaking from the white perspective, I'll never understand the plight of someone who is Afro-American, Latino, Asian, Native American, and so on, understanding isn't the key, the key is letting them explain their situation without the injection of white-splaning. Also, just because you have friends who aren't white doesn't give you the ability to understand. As a white person you'll never understand the struggle.

Now that I got that out of the way, what is there to like about "Get Out?" Tons!

Peele has created something that while not pure horror, is the horror story of our time, especially for any non-white. It's also a slow burn to a nice 2nd act twist that while you might have seen coming, when it does hit, it's a true kick in the face. But the most interesting thing might be who you actually TALK TO about the twist. From the white perspective, you might hear an audible gasp, or a "wow, that's crazy." If you ask anyone who isn't white, you'll likely hear, "I knew it." or "that's fucked up." That's because it is fucked up, but it might also be a fact that white people wouldn't believe a white person would do something like that, and in there lies why we still have a lot to do in terms of race relations and how we perceive our own race and the lengths, and depths, they are willing to go.

There is also some humor sprinkled in with what some people are calling the best supporting character in modern times in Rod, Chris' friend that works for the TSA, played by LilRel Howery. He's a great character that is self-aware of the situation that Chris is in, intelligent, but also looked down upon when he presents evidence about the trouble his friend is in; by the police no less. It's just another thing to remind you of the times we live in, or what's been going on for the between part of the last century.

"Get Out" is a film best served re-visiting at least twice, maybe even three times. Sure, the "twist" is gone upon multiple viewings, but the journey to how it gets there can get lost in the details. The Armitage estate is surrounded in mystery, and relics from other countries and cultures are scattered around the house. A conversation early in the film between Chris and Rose's father. Dean, sets the tone of the family's legacy and even gives a "what-if" if history was just a little different. It's actually pretty chilling.

Considering I'm staying as spoiler-free as possible, I'm going to stop this review right here, But the point is that this film will appeal to the passive viewers as just a straight up psychological horror film but if you want something with a little more meat on it's bones and something to say, "Get Out" is the first great film of 2017.

Monday, February 27, 2017

2017 Academy Awards: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Biggest Night in Hollywood! The Night The Stars Shine! The Night People Wear Suits and Dresses! The Night White People Dance Awkwardly! The Night That Never Ends! The Night Trump Thinks Is Overrated! The Night, The Night, The Night!

So we close the book on another culmination of cinema, and all the bitching and moaning, and whining and complaining that goes along with it. The 2017 Academy Awards was a decent enough event this year with buffoonery, self-indulgent jokes, a run-time that just wouldn't quit, and, oh yeah, some pretty nice moments as well. Here are just some of the Blondie, Angle Eyes, and Tuco moments from last night's BIG EVENT!

  
A good amount of movies got some love last night. While "La La Land" took home six awards (I mean they were up for 14), films like "Hacksaw Ridge," "Manchester by the Sea," shoot, even "Suicide Squad," yes, "SUICIDE SQUAD," took home an Oscar! Leonardo Dicaprio and "Suicide Squad" now have the same amount of Oscars. Martin Scorsese and "Suicide Squad" now have the same amount of Oscars. Al Pacino...well, you get it...

305 Standup! It was a big night for "Moonlight." Mahersala Ali took home the award for Best Supporting Actor, Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney took home the Adapted Screenplay Award and after one of the most awkward moment's in Oscar history, took home the award for Best Picture (more on that later).

The Supporting Actor categories in this year's show were some of the best in years, and I wouldn't have been mad about anyone winning, but seeing Ali, and afterwards, Viola Davis winning, it was a sight. This is the first time that I can say I was with the choices 100%. However, there is an argument to be made whether Davis should have been in the Best Actress hunt. She dominated the screen-time in "Fences." But at that point, who do you bump out of Best Actress. My pick would have been Meryl Streep, who already stole a spot that should have been Amy Adams'. Oh well, either way, I'm okay with the decision.

  
I'm over this notion that an award show has to be an extension of another show. This horrible trend started with Ellen DeGeneres and her selfies, and giving food to celebrities, and just this idea that we have to cater to celebrities who are already being catered to at an awards show. Enough! But this year brought things to a new level where we brought in people off the street with their selfie sticks and just general weirdness. It's not bad enough that most celebrities don't know how to act around people who are normal, ie, the general population, and say what you will, but Denzel Washington looked relatively bored and had of the face of "are you fucking kidding me?!" But that's just me. Stupid skits tack on time to an already over-bloated show.

It's embarrassing that people who win awards can't be there to accept an award because of the "President of the United States." Asghar Farhadi won the award for Best Foreign Language Film but wasn't attending the Oscars because of what people don't like to call the "Muslim Ban," even though it actually is, let's call it what it really is people. While Roman Polanski can't attend because he's a pedophile, Farhadi couldn't attend because he wasn't allowed by Donald Trump....YOUR President, America! There were also some shades of 1973's Ceremony as well.


Me, personally, it's pretty ugly to keep beating a dead horse. Yes, Hollywood, we know, you don't like Donald Trump, but it gets to a point where, yes, we get it. The fact that big award shows keep giving this guy, Trump, a platform, and keep bringing him up, over and over again, BY NAME, is just stupid at this point. Tweeting him in the middle of the show with #merylsayshi is just dumb. How about this; concentrate on the actual show, and don't give this narcissist a platform. The people who accepted the awards did a good enough job bringing up substantive content without our "fearless" host having to stop the show dead in it's tracks to tweet an idiot. Sheesh!

The bungle that was Best Picture was an ugly clusterfuck of epic proportions. Sure, at the end of the day it made both "La La Land" and "Moonlight" look great, but everyone involved looked stupid, and at the end of the day it looks like it wasn't Bulworth's fault. But man, how do you mess that up, especially with tensions already at a boiling point. The knee-jerk reaction was, "oh Warren Beatty is a racist." No, just no. Other people thought it was a sick joke, and laughed and wrung their hands in the air over Beatty's screwy excuse (I was one of those people). It was just awkward and ugly, but a few handled it with grace under fire, and at the end of the day, winners emerged, but Jesus, how do you mess that up?!

Overall, still a fun show with some great people winning, and it's always fun to see people argue about who should have won, and "La La Land" is overrated; stop people, just stop. Being edgy to be edgy is so 2016. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Simplistic Interviews: Patricia Chica and Women In Horror Month

This month we were lucky enough to speak with Patricia Chica, director of the upcoming vampire film, "Las Cholas." Other works include, "A Tricky Treat," and "Ceramic Tango."

Chica is a Canadian filmmaker by way of San Salvador who's body of work is as interesting and complex as the women herself. She worked with the Soska Sisters again this year for another edition of their annual Women in Horror Massive Blood Drive video, which includes scenes from "Cholas."

Check out the interview and follow Patricia on any of her social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.









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Thursday, February 23, 2017

1999-2017: Here Lies The IMDB Message Boards


I think it's fair to surmise that we will all be less of a human race without the highly-vaunted IMDB Message Boards. It's where we all learned about film; which films sucked, which ones were awesome, why Anne Hathaway is the worst actress ever, oh wait, that's just me of course.

Anywho...

After years and years of some of the most mundane and asinine conversations in Internet history, it's all done. It's gone. Some of the most notorious Internet conversations have been taken down as the IMDB Message Boards have officially signed off for the last time on February 20th 2017.

Now...why is this so important. Well, it's not, but at the same time, it's an interesting decision by a huge website to erase years and years of comments. Sure, most of the message board fodder was nonsense and nothing you would take serious in anyway, but the bigger question is whether this is merely the beginning of the downfalls of message boards and comment sections online.

As it stands now, several videos on YouTube, especially ones that might be a little edgy or too open to debate, block their comments and only allow views...no comments. Yes, we all get it, people make mean comments and the trolling can be downright ridiculous, but isn't that simply what the Internet has turned into; a swath of trolls, flamers, and clickbaiters?

Now according to IMDB they will be replacing their message boards with something better in 2017, but where do you go beyond message boards. I mean you already Twitter and in this Millennial generation, most of people's attention span is gone even before 140-characters. With that being said, this post has probably already lost the reader's interest. Now commence to level four-letter words my way, tell me who you remind me of, and how I ruin every film that I've ever starred in.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love Is Strange: Five Films about Love...or Something Like That

Valentines Day...or Valentimes Day as some people like to call it. Have you heard people say Valentimes Day? Maybe it's time to start rethinking that public school education, oh, but don't worry, we won't have public schools for much longer.

Anywho, yeah, it's that time of the year again for your VD check-up, and that one you need last week at the clinic doesn't count. But we get it, you might not have that special someone to buy flowers, chocolates, or even that real cool chocolate-covered Fleshlight that you have on your Amazon Wish List that you might be saving for yourself one of these days (we've all been there). So if it;s another one of those February 14th, why don't you plop yourself in front of your TV, exit PornHub for a couple of hours, and check out one of these great films about love...or something in between.

Secretary

Who doesn't like James Spader! Before he played our favorite murderous AI-turned-physical-robot, Ultron, he played a lawyer with a love for S&M and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Think of it has a precursor to the "50 Sh(it)ades of Grey" series, only smarter, more heartfelt, and a better understanding of the culture.

Punch Drunk Love

A lot of people say this is Adam Sandler's best performance, and I have to say that I agree. While I'll give credit that "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore" were funny, mindless and dumb films and made his career and allowed him to build an empire of bad films that made him millions upon millions of dollars and a lucrative Netflix deal...now I have a stomach ache.

Anyway. forget about all that. "Punch Drunk Love" is a heartfelt off-beat romantic comedy that is a lost treasure from Paul Thomas Anderson's filmography. A brow-beaten Sander is very subdued and emotionally unstable but he proves himself to be sympathetic and a warrior for love and respect. Plus Philip Seymour Hoffman gives and over-the-top and great performance.

Warm Bodies

Do you prefer your love a little more...dead? Well, look no further than "Warm Bodies." Yes, this is basically "Twilight" with zombies, but there is just enough comedy, goofiness, heart to make this standout. Plus, you get in the mind of a zombie as they go about their day. It takes the self-awareness of "Zombieland" and adds a love story, that while silly, is still pretty fun. Plus, John Malkovich.

Audition

I know I've talked about this film a lot, and you might wonder why...it's pretty f*cked up. Yep, it's certainly f*cked up, but there is something about it that draws me to watching it more often than I probably should. It's essentially a Japanese version of "Fatal Attraction" with an even more not-so-happy-ending, ex-lovers in burlap sacks, creepy ballet teachers, but at its heart, its the story of a widower looking for a women to mend his broken heart...he just happens to get involved with a woman for a predilection for leather smocks and piano wire.

Sid and Nancy

If you're a fan of punk rock of the 1970s and all the debauchery from the era, notably when it surrounded the Sex Pistols, "Sid and Nancy," is for you. Gary Oldman becomes Sid Vicious, the band's bassist who was short on talent but long on violence, drug use and was essentially, as Johnny Rotten would put it later, "essentially a coat hanger on stage."

Not only is Oldman excellent, he should have at least been nominated for an Oscar, but the story itself is sad, brutal, funny, and everything in between. If you know anything about the fate of Sid and Nancy, you know where the self-destructive behavior leads, ultimately.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

(Ep. 83): SR Podcast - February 2017


FOR MATURE AUDIENCES

It's been a long time, we shouldn't have left you, without a podcast to step to....step to, step to...you get it; it's like that Aaliyah song.

We gave you a movie commentary to quench that junkie's thirst for our imminent return, but nothing can prepare you for this month's podcast that is sure to give you heart palpitations.

From the sultry tones of Al Pacino as he talks nipple clamps and spankings...to us wagering our souls, dignity and enthusiasm on 2017 films...and of course we have a game for you, because we love you so very much.

We return with "Hey Fuckhead," where we tear apart those in Hollywood that really piss...us...off, here's a hint; he's a world leader who probably has a tiny wiener...take that as you may.

Just in time for Valentine's Day, the newest Simplistic Reviews podcast. Body harnesses and ball gags not included.

NOTES
World War Z

Jimmy Fallon & Alec Baldwin
Green Lantern Shortlist

MUSIC

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