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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (DJ's SPOILER FREE Take)


CELEBRATORY
Now, I'm not a psychic or anything.  I'm not from the future or possess some mutant power over probability or telepathy or the space time continuum.  However, I know...without a shadow of a doubt...that The Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be taken for granted in the next coming months.  Oh, we'll all see it, for sure.  But cynics and critics who get paid a dime a word to say such cliched things as "this comic book movie craze is wearing thin for me" are going to crap on this film.  Hell, even some fans of the property are going to take for granted how great this film is.  The main question these groups of people will ask is if it is better than the first Avengers.  My answer to that is...no.  After hearing that, everyone will rush to judgement and think the film is a disappointment or even a failure.  It is astronomically far from that.  What you have to realize is that even before Age of Ultron was made, it was going to be impossible to make it better than the original.  The original Avengers is literally a dream come true.  It is a film that is the first ever culmination of years of planning and set-up for something that was thought to be impossible to pull off.  More so than Sin City.  More so than Watchmen.  The Avengers was not supposed to happen...but it did...and it was great.  Flawed?  Sure.  But despite whatever criticism lobbied toward it, it will forever have that glow of the first time.  All you realistically can hope for in a sequel is for it not to squander its predecessor's steam or lose its way.  For it to continue exploring and expanding on the things that worked well in the original while managing to fix whatever mistakes the original suffered from.  Thankfully, Avengers: Age Of Ultron does that and then some.

Avengers: Age of Ultron centers around the assemblage of Earth's mightiest heroes as they try and fend off a global assault from a self-aware computer program called Ultron.  The program itself is accidentally created by Dr. Bruce Banner and Tony Stark.  The team must fight for their lives and fight to stay together while the world is on the brink of total annihilation.  But I don't want to really talk about that.  I want to talk about the real reason why this film works and why it will continue to work going forward. 

What is the best parts of any Tarantino movie?  Is it the ultra violent action scenes?  Is it the cool soundtrack?  Is it the story?  Not for my money.  It is the scenes where characters are talking to one another.  Their witty verbiage in their interactions.  What was the best parts of the new Star Trek films?  Was it the space battles?  Was it the phaser shootouts?  Was it the lens flares?  Not for my money.  It was the scenes where characters are talking to one another.  Their palpable chemistry.  Their understanding of who each of their characters are.  The same can be said of the first Avengers and thankfully of Age of Ultron.  Don't get me wrong, the action scenes and set pieces in all these films are crazy good.  However, these team-up Marvel films go as far and will continue to go as far as the characters' chemistry and interactive dialogue will take them.  Action scenes are easy to pull off compared to the task of assembling a large cast of characters that you have to make lovable in different ways and believable in their conversations with one another.  Special effects are a cinch compared to writing a character so well that fan boys geek out about them as much when they are out of their super suit having a normal conversation as they would seeing them in their super suit battling murderous megalomaniacal robots.  Avengers: Age of Ultron's chemistry is its superpower.  The story has its flaws, but you are willing to forgive them because you love these characters and you love to be a fly on the wall in their superhero lives. 


The original players that return...Tony, Cap', Thor, Widow, Banner, Hawkeye...are just as good if not better than before.  Robert Downey Jr. is the rockstar of the group without managing to overshadow the others.  Chris Evans' ability to be honest and vulnerable as Steve Rogers yet stern and leader-like as Captain America is a marvel to watch. (See what I did there?) Hemsworth's Thor seems to work best when he is allowed to be humorous and play up the fish out of water trope, which he does again here.  Hawkeye gets a much talked about backstory, but in my opinion, he also gets much better material to work with as a team member.  The Banner/Widow "thang" does take some getting used to, but ScarJo and Ruffalo make it feel genuine.  Scarlett Johansson is also given a scene in the middle of this film that was almost out of place in its subject matter and the dramatic power in which she plays it.  Kudos and whoa.  
Hey Widow.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes Called...
To be honest, the new players are the ones that I really spent my time focusing on.  Getting inserted into a world where the chemistry of characters is so important is no easy feat.  3 out of the 4 newbies manage to slide in with ease.  Elizabeth Olsen really does a fine job with Scarlet Witch, proving that she is keeping all the talent in the Olsen family.  Paul Bettany's jump from voice over J.A.R.V.I.S. to live action Vision is so good that it is a flaw in the film that we don't get more of him.  Andy Serkis even steals a scene as a character who may or may not be the nemesis in the upcoming Black Panther film.  But my one standout from the Avengers: Age of Ultron is predictably James Spader's titular character.  The thing you have to prepare for, which will catch you off guard as it did me, is how funny and alive Ultron is in this film.  Some who have seen this performance already have been put off by this, believing a robot wouldn't possess this much personality.  However, if you take the time to understand that this is a robot with the soul of one Tony Stark, it makes sense.  Ultron would of course be as eccentric and comically quirky as its genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist father.  Fans of James Spader will be amazed by how many of the actor's signature mannerisms and facial ticks are alive and well in Ultron.  Getting back to my point about dialogue scenes, Ultron's verbal interactions with Vision are possibly my favorites in the film.

Quicksilver is the new player that I had the most issues with.  The largest praise I can offer Aaron Taylor-Johnson's performance is that it was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.  He and Olsen's accents are not even as bad as I thought they were going to be.  Taylor-Johnson is not really bad at all.  It is just a bit of a low-key performance for a character that had so much more personality in X-Men: Days of Future Past.  And I freely admit that I thought Taylor-Johnson would be the superior Pietro Maximoff.  However, Evan Peters, much like what his character would do, steals Taylor-Johnson's lunch in comparison.

Here I've been waxing poetic about character and dialogue and chemistry and I have neglected to talk about the popcorn action moments in this film.  I apologize.  Rest easy.  There are many. 
PUNY AFFORDABLE SEDAN!
Soooooo many.  So much so, that the biggest action scene in the first Avengers is merely the opening scene to this film.  Whedon, having written great set pieces in comic books for years, seems to have finally come into his own creating them as a director in his films.  The television show composition and cleanness of the first Avengers, a topic of criticism in the past, is gone thanks to the addition of cinematographer Ben Davis.  Davis, fresh off his stint on some film called Guardians of the Galaxy, really makes the film appear more cinematic while keeping its vibrancy. (Sorry DC)  Both know exactly what we want on a base level in an Avengers film, and both generously spoon feed us battle after battle with a wink and a smile. 
NERDGASM!!!
Speaking to the flaws of the film, I will say that there are some very hurried and even skipped over moments of exposition and character development in spots.  You can almost feel when a scene has been trimmed down for time.  This is why I was initially happy when the film was reported to be 3 hours long at first.  Film length never bothers me if there is a lot of story to tell or character development to get through.  You have not one but two beings of artificial intelligence whose motivations come at you at breakneck speed.  This is something in which Marvel appears to recognize, considering their announcement of an extended cut Blu-ray with alternate endings coming our way in the future.  Long films do limit their own box office receipts, so I understand the give and take that Marvel/Disney are up against.  Fans of the stand alone films Iron Man 3 or Thor: The Dark World will also be saddened to see little to nothing being carried over from those two films into Age of Ultron.  Most importantly, why Tony is back to being Iron Man after appearing to give it up in his last cinematic outing.  

Avengers: Age of Ultron is probably the best summer popcorn flick you're going to see this year...the best you've had in two years...and the most fun you'll have in the theater until the end of the year.  No, I don't think it surpasses its predecessor on a comic book movie level, but that should not prevent you from CELEBRATING it or the fact that we got TWO of these films that were an unrealistically optimistic fantasy in our minds a little under a decade ago...with TWO MORE on the way!  Have some Vision...get tangled in strings...don't drink from Thor's flask...watch it...then tell me I'm wrong.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 46): Late April 2015

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES


You might be asking yourself, "What?! Another Simplistic Reviews Podcast?  You mean these guys are actually getting off of their ass and putting out content for the public to consume?"  Yes, it might sound crazy, but.....uh....yeah....another podcast....from us.....Simplistic Reviews.

As we get closer and closer to our grandest episode so far; Number 50, we look back at our lives and search for meaning, apparently that means we bring up Bill Cosby again, the fact that Iceman is now gay, Donatello is dead, and fantasize about Moira Quirk in that sexy referee outfit...mmmmmm.....

All this, and our newest segment, Simply Say Anything, where we hold a radio over our head and praise the likes of Lena Dunham, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, and explain why Quentin Tarantino is actually the worst director in modern cinema.  Have we lost our minds.....maybe....but we're not telling, and you'll just have to listen to this month's SIMPLISTIC REVIEWS PODCAST!!!!  WHY AM I YELLING...IN PRINT?!?!?!


 SHOW NOTES
Moira Quirk
Spider-man Shortlist
Tarantino in Sleep With Me
Donny is Dead
Iceman Gay?
Mark Summers' non-Double Dare accident

MUSIC NOTES
My Flows Is Tight By Lord Digga
We Gotta Get Out Of This Place By The Animals
Birds And Brass By Sort Of Soul
In Your Eyes By Peter Gabriel
Nickelodeon GUTS theme
Human Beings By Van Halen

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Simply TV: Marvel's Daredevil Episode Three: Rabbit in a Snowstorm (Matt's Take)

Daredevil: Rabbit in a Snowstorm - Breather

After two exciting episodes, how can Marvel's Daredevil keeping upping the ante; easy, have a third episode silly. While the first two episodes seemed to concentrate on stand alone arcs and character development, episode three, entitled "Rabbit in a Snowstorm" starts to shape what we are going to see the rest of this season.

Matt and Foggy are still trying to find their groove with their law practice when their first big case falls into their lap; a murder in a bowling alley involving a man named Healy who seems to be well connected with James Wesley, a man we meet in episode one who works for a mysterious benefactor.
Matt is suspicious of Wesley and the reasoning behind hiring himself and Foggy.

Elsewhere, we meet Ben Urich, an old newspaper writer who is interested in a man in black taking on the Russian Mob. Urich, once a respected reporter, has seen the decline of the printed page and the rise of blogs, and has been relegated to writing fluff pieces instead of hard-hitting news.

As Healy's case goes to trial, Matt uses his enhanced senses to remove jurors that seem to have been tampered with, but is dismayed to learn that even with that juror gone, the case still ends with a hung jury and Healy is back on the street, but is met by Daredevil who beats a name out of him; Wilson Fisk.

This episode is treated almost like a setup and is more filler than anything else. That isn't to say it's a bad episode, quite the opposite, it's just that the previous two episodes were so good that this one "pales" in comparison. What we do get however is the introduction of Ben Urich, played by Vondie Curtis-Hall, who I'm sure is going to play into the grand scheme of things in a big way, especially since we are teased that both he and Karen Page will likely be working very closely together.

The other big reveal is of course the "rabbit" himself; Wilson Fisk, or in comic book parlance, Kingpin, played by Vincent D'onofrio. While we only catch a quick glimpse and only a few lines of dialogue, we see an icy, yet thoughtful man. As far as his look, and the complaint about his size, look people, to find someone the size of Wilson Fisk would be nearly impossible and not likely, so get off that, and listen, he's the perfect look, and another thing; it's Vincent F'ING D'onofrio.

The only real Easter egg of sorts in this episode would be a newspaper article that we in Ben's off with the byline of "Battle of NY" which is an obvious nod to the events in "The Avengers." It's still a nice little shout-out of course.

The last thing I'll bring up in this episode is the elevation of the violence this time around. We have a broken arm with a bone poking out of the skin, a head based with a bowling ball, another broken arm with the sound effect being the payoff, a stabbing with a shard of glass, and the coupe de grace; a suicide via a shard of metal through the eye.

While "Rabbit in a Snowstorm" might not be the strongest effort so far this season, in no way is it lacking; it's merely a formality where new story lines need to be opened up and characters developed.

Fun Fact: Wilson Fisk's first appearance was in The Amazing Spider Man #50 in 1967.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

SR Podcast (Ep. 45): Slaughter High - Movie Commentary: April 2015

Movie Commentary Time!

Slaughter High

1986 - 90 mins - Slasher/Horror

Today we watch and make fun of the 90 min B-Slasher film, Slaughter High. We know what you are saying, "It's finally here!" Since the Podcast gang has been talking about Slaughter High numerous times on Podcasts and even a episode on Unboxing/Reviews.

Slaughter High is about eight people that are invited to their 10-year high school reunion at their now-closed down high school where a former student, disfigured from a prank gone wrong, is there to seek revenge. Simple and to the point but it's got its issues.

Slaughter High is a fun, entertaining film of which everyone should see. If you haven't this is the perfect time to watch!
















Also this Movie Commentary is sponsor by Tide Stick!

Remember kids, if you go on a murderous rampage bring along a Tide Stick!


Monday, April 20, 2015

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine - Commando

QUINTESSENTIAL

I've covered quite a few obscure and strange action films here with the “Action Movie Time Machine”, but I feel that I've neglected the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sure I reviewed Jingle All the Way for Christmas, but the name “Arnold” is synonymous with the Action genre. So, over the next few reviews we will be celebrating the films of Arnold. 

The year is 1985. The Nintendo Entertainment System was released in North America and changed home gaming forever. The first Blockbuster Video opened in Dallas Texas. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T took center stage at the very first WrestleMania and Jefferson Starship “...built this city on Rock and Roll”.

THE SKINNY
Commando” begins with John Matrix, Arnold Schwarzenegger, yep that's his real name. John is a former elite Black Ops Commando who has settled down in the Californian mountain tops where he is raising his twelve year old daughter Jenny, who is played by Alyssa Milano. This is long before Alyssa grew up and chose to show her bewbs in “Embrace of the Vampire”. But I digress.


One day John Matrix is visited by his former commanding officer, Major General Franklin Kirby, who informs him that the men from his old unit are being systematically killed off by someone who they can't identify. Soon after this warning, the Matrix family are ambushed by a para-military group and Jenny is kidnapped before John save her.

As it turns out, this group knows about John and his combat record. John is one of the most accomplished tactical fighters in the world, and after eliminating the only men who could help John, his team, they kidnap his daughter to force John into working for them. The plan is for John to assassinate some South American president so Arius, Dan Hedaya, can take over in his place. Arius has given John a deadline of only so many hours to fly to South America, assassinate the president and return or else his daughter will be killed.



Arius is a ruthless dictator and would torture and kill his own people in order to keep his power and John knows that he will have to think outside of the box if he is going to keep the peace in South America and get his daughter back.

Working for Arius are four main bad guys. We have Jackson, Sully, Cook & Bennett. Sully escorts John and Jackson to the airport. Once on the plane John manages to snap the neck of Jackson. He then covers him with a blanket and tells the flight attendant not to disturb his friend, “he's dead tired”.

John then escapes the plane just as it's wheels leave the ground. He follows Sully to learn where his daughter is being held. The film takes a detour when Sully goes to a near by shopping mall where a shootout occurs which evolves into a ten man brawl between John and mall security. John follows an escaping Sully and soon after, catches up with him and drops him off the face of a cliff. This is, of course, not before he gets info that leads him to Cook.

John has a run-in with Cook at Sully's hotel room. Soon Cook has been murdered and John learns that Arius is living on an island off the South American coast and this must be where Jenny is being held captive. John, recruiting the help of Cindy, a helpful stranger, breaks into a local gun store and loads up on some heavy duty military weaponry including claymore mines and a rocket-launcher. Why does this small business owner have all these dangerous weapons you ask? Well he's a gun nut and the Second Amendment gives him the right to do whatever the hell he wants. God Bless America!

John & Cindy then steal a plane and fly to this coastal island where the film goes from 0 to 60 in no time. Left and right, John is blowing soldiers away and after an incalculable number of bullets have been fired, all are dead, even Arius, except Bennett, Vernon Wells.
 
This hand to hand battle is personal between the two men and proves to be one of the more interesting fights, not only for it's action but for it's dialogue. There is a whole lotta strange goin' on here. Bennett threatens to shoot John between the balls before John wallops Bennett an incredible 15 times with his massive hammer fists before impaling him with a pipe. This allows steam to escape from some sort of boiler, through the pile and also through Bennett's body. “Why don't you let off some steam Bennett?” is the final one-liner delivered by John Matrix before he, Jenny and Cindy fly home from the tropical island to go on living their normal lives. The End.

THE VERDICT
What makes “Commando” work is, first and foremost, it's machismo. This is something that a lot of other action films try to emulate but fail hard in their attempt. Arnold portrays a man so well trained that he can't be seen as helpless and when his training fails, he has his sweet Arnold Muscles. Who needs training when you can rip bucket seat out of a car with your bare hands? He is bad-ass!

The next thing that “Commando” has going for it is “one-liners”. Sometimes when I offer up a “Memorable One Liner” in these reviews, and they aren't even one-liners. They might just be a funny piece of dialogue that stands out to me because they're aren't any one-liners in the whole damn film. “Commando” has SO many one-liners, I had to do some serious soul searching to pick the one I felt was the most ”Memorable”.

And last, but not least, “Commando” has gay overtones. Something every great action film must have. Why? I don't know, because that's how they did it in the '80s, so that's how it should always be done. It's kinda like the Bible. When you hear someone say “turn water into wine”, you might be reminded of the Bible. And when I see a big pile of gay in my action movies, I'm reminded of the '80s and that's a beautiful thing.

Where is “the gay” to be found in this film? Between John and Bennett. John kicked Bennett out of his team because he liked killing too much and now Bennett will have his revenge by killing Jenny and watching John suffer. The way this is portrayed comes off like some strange steroid fueled romance gone awry. With lines like; “Come on, let the girl go, just between you and me, don't deprive yourself of some pleasure, come on Bennett, let's party! ”, that just add gasoline to the sadomasochist gay fire.

While the story takes some detours, it remains simple enough to be believable. The same goes for the acting. There aren't any award winning performances here, but the subject matter doesn't  offer many opportunities for emotion. Let's face it, there is no room for emotion when there is a shirtless Arnold holding a rocket launcher. One more thing, the soundtrack. It sports a recurring steel drum theme that is pretty catchy.

 


“Commando” is a blood dripping, bullet ridden, explosion filled blast that will leave you fist pumping for victory. They don't make 'em like this anymore and that is just the reason “Commando” is the quintessential '80s action flick.

I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi Punk!

For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Simply TV: Marvel's Daredevil Episode 2: Cut Man (Matt's Take)

Daredevil: Cut Man - Heart
HEART

As we continue season one of "Daredevil" on Netflix, I'll say this; after one episode of the show I was nearly floored by how serious the content was being taken, while still show signs of heart throughout the pilot. We legitimately cared by Matt Murdock and Karen Page and hung on every moment. With that being said, episode two, entitled "Cut Man" does in fact cut, and it cuts deep. We get further insight into the Murdock family, and the tragedy that befalls Matt. We also get one of the best fight scenes in the MCU's history, the only thing that comes close is the Steve Rogers and Winter Soldier fight in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

The episode begins with Matt Murdock being found in a dumpster bloodied and beaten. A nurse, named Claire, takes him to her apartment and tends to his wounds. Meanwhile, Foggy and Karen go out of a "date" to blow off some steam.

As Murdock and Claire get to know each other, the back-story of Matt and his father, Jack Murdock, is further revealed. We learn that Jack is a down-on-his-luck boxer who is throwing matches for some local gangsters. On the eve of a big fight with young up-and-coming fighter, "Crusher" Creel, Jack reneges on his deal and wins the fight, and pays the ultimate price.

The end of the episode closes the lone cliffhanger from the first episode with Matt finding the young boy who was kidnapped by Russian gangsters. Again, another episode that pretty much wraps up much of it's story beats but of course leaves you wanting so much more.

Once again the acting is above the material it's being given, and the introduction of Claire, aka, Night Nurse, played by Rosario Dawson, is great. You can tell that Dawson likes material by Frank Miller considering her participation in Miller's other work, "Sin City."

There are three things to take away from this episode in particular;

1. The relationship between Matt and Jack Murdock is a beautiful thing, and it reminds me a lot of the opening of "Guardians of the Galaxy." It's a tragedy that isn't something just brushed underneath the carpet and is something that affects our hero to this day.We see hints of how this affects Matt in the pilot, but we understand the true nature in this episode. Whether we see more background on their relationship is pending, but the way it's wrapped up is both engrossing, and heartbreaking.

2. Something that a lot of people might miss as well is the introduction of Carl "Crusher" Creel. You'll notice a poster in the gym in episode one of a boxing match between Jack Murdock and "Crusher" Creel. This is something I actually overlooked the first time watching the pilot. Of course, this is the fight that actually costs Jack his life, so it will surely become more of a plot point in the future. This brings me to that ramifications of this fight and the eventual introduction of the super-villain; Absorbing Man. While he has already been mentioned in the "Agents of SHIELD" TV show, I would love to see a fleshed out villain who could rival Bullseye or even Wilson Fisk himself.

3. The third aspect of episode that stood out, and in a huge way, was the final fight scene. An obvious nod to"Old Boy" with aspects of "The Raid" series, we see the fighting of Murdock on full display. Whereas the fights in the first episode were done in darker conditions, it was difficult to see what was really going on, which I'm sure was done on purpose considering that Daredevil is blind. Not only is the fight brutal, but the fact it was done in a single-shot format makes it even more epic.

Where will "Daredevil" go from here; anywhere it wants. After two episodes needless to say we are in store for a series that is only only going to give us great storytelling, but unbelievable action, and I'm sure some incredible acts of violence.

Fun Fact: Frank Miller began his Daredevil run in issue #158 in 1979.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Simplistic Talk: Things to take away from the newest Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser #2

Sorry "Batman V Superman" you lose again. Sure, it's over a year until your film is released, but there is only so much dick teasing people can take before they are going to forget about you and move on to the next best thing; and that "next best thing" is obvious; the unveiling of the newest "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" trailer, and awakens is a perfect term for this; it awoke my inner child, and while I'm still a huge cynic, which so many people can attest to, and I'll still troll to get a rise out of people, that doesn't take away the fact that next to this year's "Mad Max: Fury Road" this Jew can't wait for this Hanukkah gift come Christmas.

Moving on from fan boying, which I really hate to do, the real purpose of this article is to point out some of the more obvious, and maybe one not so obvious thing from this newest trailer, which you can check out right HERE. So here we go:

One of the main things that we learned today is that the desert planet that we thought was Tatooine, is in fact the desert planet of Jakku. Will Tatooine still make an appearance somewhere in this film, or the other two films in this newest trilogy, I'm sure.
As you can see from the picture above we have both a downed X-Wing and a downed Star Destroyer. What we don't know is when and where this takes place. As we know the Rebellion took place all over the galaxy and there are likely downed ships on every planet. Is this Jakku, Tatooine, or some other unnamed desert planet we don't know about yet?

We also get our first look at charred remains of Darth Vader's helmet above. The last we saw of this helmet was during the funeral pyre scene on Endor in "Return of the Jedi." Was Vader's helmet found by someone, is it being used in some sort of propaganda by the newly re-formed Galactic Empire, or is it in some sort of war museum.

Next we see our old friend R2-D2, and a metal hand. Conventional wisdom would say this is obviously Luke Skywalker seeing his old friend again. As we know, JJ Abrams likes to play with people's heads, so could this be a misguide. I'm sure a lot of people lost hands and arms during the Rebellion.

Here is one of the most interesting scenes in the trailer. On the surface we see a lightsaber being handed to someone off screen. If you look closely, however, you will notice that this is some type of alien being handing a lightsaber to someone off-screen. Knowing the species might go a long way in explaining what is possible in this scene.

Here is a better shot of one of our principle characters, Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Issac. It's clear he is still fighting the good fight for the Rebellion, and having a hell of a time doing it.

Here is our best shot so far of the newest "Sith" threat, Kylo Ren. I especially like his Kanye West glasses, and he pretty much looks like Snake Eyes from "G.I. Joe." Conventional wisdom would say Ren is a Sith, but could be be something else?

Now, this could just be speculation, but I find this frame to be very interesting. Here we have the newest version of the Galactic Empire symbol overlayed with one of our newest character's Rey, played by Daisy Ridley. We all think that Rey is supposed to be one of our newest heroes joining the fight against evil, but could this all be a ploy and she is actually a villain, maybe even Kylo Ren? Or could she be a former member of the Empire looking for revenge or penance for her crimes against the Rebels?

In this scene we see Finn, played by John Boyega, in a Stormtrooper uniform with what seems to be a bloody hand print on his helmet. Are Stormtroopers nothing more that roving death squads going from planet to planet exterminating any rebel sympathizers? 

This is one of my favorite things in the teaser; a bad ass silver Stormtrooper with what looks to be a red cloak. It almost seems like a mash-up between an Imperial Guard and the conventional Stormtrooper. The interior also resembles an Imperial Star Destroyer with some cave-like attributes. Has the Empire gone underground?

Here is a better shot of Finn in what resembles either a fly-ass Michael Jackson jacket, or see below:

Could Finn be related in some way to General Panaka from "The Phantom Menace" or be the son or nephew of Gregar Typho, the nephew of Panaka. I know a lot of people want to forget about the prequels and any and everything to do with them, but just going off the fresh gear that Finn is rocking, could he have been an officer in Naboo's military, or is he incognito while hiding on Jakku.


Here' a better look at our new TIE Fighter pilots. The red on their helmets and uniforms make we think that the Sith have a tighter grip on the new Empire and have pretty much become one.

Of course here is the still when all the fanboys lost it and creamed their pants; the first look at Han and Chewbacca. 30 years seem to have treated Han well, for the most part, and it's just an awesome thing to see both of these guys back. The still doesn't say much but when Han says "Chewie......we're home...." its not only chilling, but is he talking about being back on the Millenium Falcon, or maybe back in Mos Eisley Cantina. Either way, I'm cool with it.

So that's about it. What do you guys think. Personally, I'm probably talking out of my ass about most of it, but I've provided you with plenty of ammo, so fire away, and may The Force Be With You...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

SR Podcast (Ep. 44): Police Academy - Movie Commentary: April 2015


FOR MATURE AUDIENCES


Today is movie commentary day! Today we watch the one and only Police Academy.

There isn't another movie in the likes of Police Academy. I mean how many movies include a human soundboard, extreme racism, a man in a horses ass and a surprise blow job to a 100 year old man (that could possibly be or not be by Steve Guttenberg).

Sounds like the perfect ingredients for the perfect film right? Well it is one of the funniest comedies ever made. So cue up that VHS copy of Police Academy and prepare to laugh at one of the more ridiculous comedies ever made.


 SHOW NOTES
Vampire Academy Joke

Police Academy - Trailer

Police Academy - Theme Song

Friday, April 10, 2015

Simply TV: Daredevil - Season 1 (Of Many Hopefully)

FEARLESS
Due to my work on producing the Simplistic Reviews Podcast, I've been limited to only doing written reviews for films or shows that I truly have something to say.  Whether that be for good or for bad.  I'm sure Ultron and friends will get me talking soon along with that Mad guy in the desert.  But honestly my excitement for the show I'm reviewing today actually rivaled my excitement for both of those films combined.  I'm talking about the show about The Man Without Fear...Marvel's Daredevil Netflix series.  A show that delivers on practically every optimistic hope I had for it and more.  A show that is going to usher in a whole heap more properties from the dark alleys of the MCU.  A show that can be used as a blueprint to make those shows enjoyable without compromising their grit and verve.  A show that takes its material seriously in a dramatic way...not a depressing one.  Daredevil is the show without fear that ironically is scary good. 

To really get into why I like Daredevil so much and why I think it's one of the smartest moves Marvel has ever done, I think we need to talk about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. first.  Yes, Marvel fans...I know it has gotten better.  Just hear me out.  When S.H.I.E.L.D. was announced after The Avengers, fans of the MCU rejoiced from the assumption that the TV universe was going to be the perfect petri dish for the more fringe Marvel characters.  A minor league, if you will, for testing out heroes and villains for their inevitable jump to the film universe.  Fleshing out characters on the show, thus circumventing tedious origins stories in the films.  But that wasn't what we got.  We got a show treading water in order to hide the secrets of Captain America: The Winter Soldier with characters Marvel never intended and still don't seem to intend on calling up to the majors.  All the steam and residual love from The Avengers film was squandered before that show righted the ship.  And then Marvel made the deal with Netflix.  An outlet not handcuffed by the restrictions of the Disney home network.  An outlet that gives you the freedom and time to tell your story and flesh out more adult themed but popular characters.  Netflix had given Marvel the avenue to do what we wanted S.H.I.E.L.D. to do in its inception.  Flesh out a character...a great character by the way...who has the realistic possibility to be called up to the majors. (Hello Civil War) To be fair to S.H.I.E.L.D., they seem to be doing this method of public introduction of soon-to-be minted characters with the Inhumans storyline.  However, their work and those characters are not going to be as impactful in the long run as a character like Daredevil can be. 

Those of you who don't know or care about this comic book inside stuff and just want to know what the show is about...let me take off my nerd hat and tell you.  Matt Murdock, the son of a down on his luck boxer, is blinded as a child by some toxic chemicals.  The accident causes his other senses to get heightened astronomically. (Hearing heartbeats, smelling people from long distances, etc.)  Murdock grows up and becomes a lawyer in the gritty New York borough of Hell's Kitchen, using his abilities to get to the truth out of cases.  But at night...Matt goes out and fights crime as the vigilante known as Daredevil.  Things to take note of for those rolling their eyes thinking, "Not another cliched comic book show."  

1. Yes, this is connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  But all allusions and references to The Avengers films are inserted more deftly and are there for the story...not just fan service.  (You hear that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. & Gotham?)

2. Yes, this is a Marvel superhero, but don't think that he just walks all over his enemies unscathed. Daredevil takes more punishment than any hero you've ever seen.  And the damage he takes makes the fights he has have a stronger sense of peril than Thor on the back of a Chitauri Leviathan swooping down Broadway.  

3. You don't have to know anything about any Marvel film to understand what's going on.

Props to showrunner Steven DeKnight for weaving this tale and all the MCU elements together as tightly as he does.  He was someone I initially was hesitant about helming this show, mainly due to my disappointment from the loss of the man he replaced, Drew Goddard.  I was wrong to worry.  DeKnight's love for the character of Matt Murdock is present in every frame of this series.  He knows what he's doing and utilizes every freedom that Netflix allows him.

The acting is something you're not getting on S.H.I.E.L.D., or Arrow, or Flash.  It is high quality actors taking the material seriously and really using their talents to ground their characters in a believable and enjoyable way.  Charlie Cox was also someone I was hesitant of initially.  I knew he could act from seeing his performances on Boardwalk Empire and the recent Theory Of Everything.  I just wasn't sure he could really nail the charm and stubbornly virtuous nature of Matt Murdock.  He does.  I mean seriously, you like him right away.  His likeability and wit and toughness makes you want to follow him on his seemingly impossible mission to clean up his city.  

When DeKnight said he wanted the show to take cues from the HBO show The Wire, I got really excited.  Mainly because I knew what that meant for Wilson Fisk.  Instead of a mustache twirling villain, they were going to fill out the Kingpin of crime as a character.  And they started by making the best casting decision of the show by hiring Vincent D'onofrio.  His Kingpin reminds me a lot of Idris Elba's Stringer Bell on the aforementioned show The Wire.  He's a devious man but he is still a man.  A man that you will find yourself sometimes rooting for.  D'onofrio spits in the face of critics who chirp on about Marvel not having good villains.  D'onofrio's Kingpin as well as Cox's Daredevil equally deserve a call up to the film universe in the future. (You hear that Spidey?)  Their dynamic here is the heartbeat of the show and that heartbeat is strong.


I am all in on Daredevil because I'm a comic book geek who has been reading his books for years and love how gritty and close to that source material it is while still being original.  But all geekiness aside, Daredevil is a show that is executed very well with great performances and a really compelling story.  People have asked me what is the comic book property I would recommend to wean their non comic book spouses or significant others into the genre.  Daredevil is easily at the top of that discussion.  It's a great comic book show...but it's a great show in general first.  Hopefully, his Netflix follow ups Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist hit the mark as accurately and hard as this.  Wrap your fists, get up off that mat, have your blind attorney present, watch it, then tell me I'm wrong.

Simply TV: Marvel's Daredevil Episode 1: Into the Ring (Matt's Take)

REDEMPTION
Daredevil: Into the Ring - Redemption

So, I've made the commitment to myself and to you, the audience. I will not binge "Marvel's Daredevil." In a society that demands everything be served to them right away, especially on Netflix, it's almost a crime that we have forgotten about the timeless tradition of waiting for something. Of course we live in a fast-paced world now, with everything to be found with the click of a mouse or the typing of a keyboard, but there is something special about it, and this is why HBO is still so important right now....they still make you wait week to week to see what happens.

This of course brings me to "Daredevil" Marvel's latest foray into TV, only this time without the limits of network rules. For the sake of explanation in these entries, I'll review each episode individually, one a week, for 13 weeks. It's going to take some willpower, but after just one episode I know this isn't a show I'll want to binge; this is a show I'm going to want to savor.

Episode One, entitled "Into the Ring" begins with our origin of a young Matt Murdock involved in a chemical accident, rendering him blind. Boom, origin established. As our episode unfolds we meet an older Matt, now a lawyer, and his partner-in-law, Foggy Nelson, looking for office space in New York's Hell Kitchen. Elsewhere, a young woman named Karen Page is found in her apartment crying over a dead body. The police arrive and instantly she is the suspect of the murder.

Nelson and Murdock take up the case and as things unfold we find out that Page might be a part of something much bigger involving the corrupt construction company, United Allied, and something about pension payments. By the end of the episode most of the loose ends are tied up, but we catch a glimpse of things to come, and frankly, the excitement overwhelms me a little bit.

While there isn't much bad with this first episode, I'll concentrate on all that is good. The film adaptation of "Daredevil" is fuzzy in my mind, and to be honest, I'm not going to revisit it, there isn't much to compare at this time. From top to bottom, "Daredevil" is a very meticulous attempt by Marvel to create a realistic alternative to it's film universe and it's TV brethren "Agents of SHIELD" and "Agent Carter." While DC's TV creations "Arrow" and "The Flash" have ruled many fanboys' TV for the past three years, Marvel's 'Man Without Fear,' will likely leave these two in the dust (full disclosure, I'm still a big fan of "The Flash" melodrama and all).

The casting is A+ with Charlie Cox, who you should remember as Owen Slater from "Boardwalk Empire, as Murdock, sporting a spot on American accent and the martial arts moves to match. Deborah Ann Woll, who played Jessica in "True Blood," plays the woman-in-peril Page with conviction and emotion, and Elden Henson, who you of course remember as Fulton Reed in "The Mighty Ducks" franchise, plays Foggy Nelson with a certain slimy charm.

Full disclosure, I'm not an avid Daredevil reader, but I know the basics, and this season is shaping up to be the perfect balance of back story, fan service, world building, and allusions to future Marvel-ness, namely "The Defenders." In short, you'd be blind to miss "Daredevil."  

Fun Fact: The first appearance of Daredevil is in "Daredevil #1" from April 1964.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine - Simon Sez

IT'S ALL JUST TOO MUCH

Well I had a lot to chose from for this “March Madness” related trek. There are so many options, “Space Jam” with Micheal Jordan, “Steel” & “Kazaam” with Shaq, Kevin Durant in “Thunderstruck”, and Gheorghe Muresan in “My Giant” with Billy Crystal... But, fuck those movies. 

The lonely few that are cool enough to talk about are Wilt Chamberlain in “Conan the Destroyer”. But this is a pretty small part and I'm sure we'll discuss the Conan films in detail before long. And of course there is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from “Airplane”, but more importantly “Game of Death” with Bruce Lee.

With all these options I bet you're wondering what we will be boarding the “Action Movie Time Machine” for this time. Well, another Rodman flick. Yep. Way back when, the studio wanted to make a sequel to “Double Team“, but that never happened. Someone else -- who didn't have the rights to the title, characters or JVCD -- decided to go ahead with the film anyhow using whatever was left on the table. Which was Rodman, the “cyber monks” and Dane Cook for some reason. No good can come of this. No good can come of “Simon Sez”.

The year is 1999. MySpace & Napster are born onto the Internet while Barbie turns 40. The West Nile virus appears in the United States, Lance Armstrong “wins” his 1st Tour de France, and people lose their minds over Y2K.

THE SKINNY
The film begins with Simon, Denis Rodman, investigating an arms dealer/terrorist for Interpol with some help from his “Cyber Monk” friends Micro & Macro, John Pinette & Ricky Harris. Micro & Macro are using their robo-fly to eves drop on the arms deal, all while making “hilarious” jokes that would cause “Paul Blart” to pop a stitch. “Sorry Simon, we're working out a few bugs.”. 'Cause it's a robot fly, get it? GET IT?! Micro & Macro are the comedic relief and I hate it already.

None of this stuff really matters. It's just an introduction to the characters – the same way Bond movies always start with Bond finishing up an assignment before the REAL story starts.
Soon after, Simon is relaxing on a French beach when he encounters Nick Miranda, Dane Cook. At first Nick tries to bullshit Simon, pretending to know him from his days at the CIA, but Simon sees through his rouse and then learns that Nick works for a tech company and has been given the job of delivering a briefcase filled with two million dollars as a ransom payment to rescue his boss's daughter. Nick did some research on Simon in hopes that he could be coerced into helping which inevitably happens.
After the deal goes bad, Simon and Nick escape to Simon's headquarters where he opens the briefcase to find a CD where the money should be. The monks attempt to read the disc, but it is secured with Department of Defense encryption. Now Simon takes is upon himself to rescue the girl while protecting the DoD disc with help from Nick and the monks. By the way, the software on the disc can turn any telescope into a laser weapon...or something.

The monks do some digging and discover that a man named Bernard Gabrielli is the one who has kidnapped the girl. He is using her for leverage to gain the disc that he will then sell to Ashton, the arms dealer/terrorist from the beginning of the film. As it turns out, Gabrielli is trying to get the disc to save his son – the kidnapped daughters love interest – who Ashton threatened to kill. I guess it's Ashton's plan to have others do his dirty work so he seems unconnected to any of the crimes.

Around this time Nick learns that his boss is unsatisfied with his handy-word and tells him that he will soon be in France to hand over a copy of the disc to Ashton in person. Simon and Nick use this as an opportunity to save the day. They even recruit Gabrielli's son, Michael, who happens to be a kung fu/parkour expert. I don't know why his father was so worried about his wellbeing. He's a bad-ass.
Nick, Michael and Simon's GF, who I hadn't mentioned until now because she isn't very important to the story, fight through Ashton's gang of motorcycle clowns to rescue the girl. Simon follows Ashton to The French Telescope. I assume that's what it's called. The two fight it out and Simon impales Ashton with a sword which pierces some telescope power supply that electrocutes both him and the telescope. Simon narrowly escapes before the building explodes.

The film ends with that one guy's daughter and that other guy's son marrying each other, Simon and his GF go on a date and the monks chat with Nick, who is now an Interpol agent himself. The End.

THE VERDICT
Ironically, the problem with “Simon Sez” isn't Rodman – it's almost everything else. That's not entirely fair. The film has a simple action plot that I've seen a dozen times, but that's okay – it works. Rodman isn't a great actor but he also isn't awful. He is easier to take serious in this than compared to “Double Team”. The film has some pretty fast paced fight scenes, some of which feature Xin Xin Xiong who is another remnant of “Double Team”. These are the highlight of the film in my opinion, but everything else...bad.

And it's not that it's bad exactly, it's just hard to focus on the film when I'm rolling my eyes at the constant jokes that are as if they're from a kids cartoon. The Cyber Monks, if done serious, could have been interesting...maybe. But there is too much of them and I hate it.

Not to mention, the monks are the comedic relief, and with them, why did the film need ANOTHER funny man? Dane does a great job bringing his goofy energy and physical comedy to the screen but it's just too much. He and Rodman may have made for an interesting “odd couple” scenario, but they are interrupted too often by the monks.

Here is an example of “too much”; Nick secretly follows Simon to his headquarters, the basement of a church, where the monks see him enter with their security cameras. They use a mic and speakers to make Nick think that God is talking to him. Then “God” makes Nick dance the “running man” before they drop him down a into the basement with a trap door. Once he is in the basement, they pretend to be “Killer Monks” by shooting at Nick with blank filled Glocks... Why is all of this in a movie?


“Simon Sez” is strange because it's better than “Double Team” in some ways and god awful in others, and unfortunately doesn't have JVCD to carry it along.

After watching this movie again, I can't help but compare it to ANY other action movie combined with “Richie Rich”.

I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi Punk!

For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!


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