Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'll be the first to admit, comics are pretty dark these days. There have been way too many times that I've had parents come in the store with young children, asking about age appropriate comics for them, in the hopes that the kids will take interest in reading. Sadly, I usually tell them there really isn't anything other than a handful of books based off of animated series. The thing is, comics have grown up. There's no denying it. 

Still, just because we're all grown up, that doesn't mean all we want to read is hyper violence, death, dismemberment and foul language. We had a Batman comic in which he asked someone if they were retarded because they didn't know he was, and I quote, "The Goddamn Batman". Mature comics have their place, imprints like Vertigo and Max, and other companies like IDW or Avatar. That kind of content really doesn't need to be in our Batman, Spider-man, or Green Lantern comics. Enter DC's latest Batman title, a book based off of the Batman television show from the 60's, complete with all the innocence, and BAM!s and POW!s that come along with it.

Batman '66 is another of DC's "digital first" titles that is finally seeing print, which for people like myself who aren't fans of digital comics and still prefer print comics, is exciting news. Taking the reins on the title is writer Jeff Parker, who throughout his career has primarily been a Marvel guy, which means that while I'd heard tons of great things about him, I'm not too familiar with his work. After reading this first issue, which was a Riddler story that easily could've been an actual episode of the show, I can completely understand the praise.  There's nothing dark, the plot isn't overly convoluted, every character acts as they should, and to put it simply, it's just a fun read.

Joining Parker on Batman '66 is artist Jonathan Case. The only other thing I've seen that he did was a comic adaptation of the Green River Killer novel, which I haven't read. His art is a suitable fit for the book, as he has fully embraced the 60's look of the hair and costumes. Their was some strange coloring in the first half of the book, the characters were surrounded by weird outlines, but that thankfully went away. 

Being as these are digital first stories, it appears as if the print versions will be taking 3 parts at a time and putting them together, which basically works well because it's like getting a full episode in each issue. Provided the digital stories don't go past three parts, of course. While it's admittedly a little early to be singing this book's praises after only one issue, the simple truth is that I'm just that in love with it already. It's a fun, refreshing breath of fresh air, and is a reminder of what comics were like when most of us were first discovering them. I'll read this forever.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Super Power Beat Down

Ran across this series of fan made short films and thought I'd share since they're so badass. Can't say I agree with the outcomes on all of them though... *cough*Batman vs Wolverine*cough*

If you like what you see here, and of course you do, then check out the Super Hero Beat Down youtube channel here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pacific Rim Review

I pretty much knew before ever seeing this that I was going to like it. Then people started badmouthing it on the internet, and any doubt I had was absolutely erased. Guillermo del Toro, big robots, and big monsters? And people don't like it? That's a recipe for success that you can cook up for me any day of the week.

First things first, yes this movie is light on story and heavy on plot and action and special effects. Sorry, but which part of the trailers led the people who didn't like it to believe otherwise? This is yet again an example of people going into a movie with unfair and unrealistic expectations, totally prepared to hate it before they'd even seen it. As I mentioned before, there's not much of a point in doing a plot synopsis as you get pretty much everything you need from the trailers. Basically giant monsters named Kaiju from another dimension find a way to invade Earth, and the entire planet pools it's resources and builds giant robots known as Jaeger's to combat them. As time goes on, the Kaiju become larger and more frequent, and the people of Earth are forced to make decisions about the Jaeger program and whether or not a different approach is necessary.

That is all you need to know. In fact, it's all you should need to know if you're the kind of person who enjoys the movies I write about here in the Batcave. What you get from Pacific Rim is basically an anime only instead of traditionally animated everything, there are computer animated robots and monsters and real live people acting it out. The dialog even sounds like an English dubbed anime. I felt like it was intentional, maybe it wasn't, but to me for whatever reason is sounded like that was the entire point. Personally, I'm not a huge anime fan, but I have been known to get into one every now and again. Back in the late 90's/ early 2000's I got pretty into Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Pacific Rim almost immediately made me think of it. In fact, the plot is essentially the same. As long as you know that going into it, Pacific Rim will blow your mind. Let's say you aren't into anime at all though, in fact you hate it. If that's the case, all you need to do, is shut your brain off and watch the pretty robots and badass giant monsters beat the shit out of each other.

I ended up taking my kids with me to see this, and I can with all honesty say that I watched this the exact same way my 9 year old son did. Pacific Rim made me feel like I was 9 years old again. This kind of thing doesn't happen to me often, so I know when it does I'm watching something special. I can't speak for any ladies who may be reading this, but I can assure you that this movie is the exact kind of thing that was running through the heads of every little boy who ever picked up his Transformers and smashed them into his Inhumanoids out in the back yard. It took me back to my youth for two hours, and that's exactly what I wanted it to do.

Guillermo del Tor may have done more harm to his name as a producer than good as of late, attaching his name to a couple of "meh" ghost movies, but he's never steered me wrong as a director. Pacific Rim is a big time popcorn blockbuster of an action flick, and entertains from start to finish anyone going into it with the right mindset and expectations. When the credits finally rolled, after almost 3 hours in the theater, I was immediately ready to watch it again. I even sat in my car in the theater parking lot after the movie looking to pre-order the bluray on Amazon, I loved it that much. Sadly, it's not available as of yet, but rest assured I'll be guaranteeing my copy on day one as soon as possible.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Night Drive-In

What's that you say? You want more Tobe Hooper in the Drive-In? Ask and ye shall receive! Chainsaw and Dave's favorite movie of ALL time is on tap tonight....

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Morbid Review

Morbid is the directorial debut from Chuck Conry of Zombies Don't Run fame. I'm a long time reader of his blog, and he graciously allowed me to view a screener recently. I can honestly say that I didn't have the highest of expectations for it, I simply expected to be entertained, and in the long run I think that's exactly how Morbid should be viewed.

The films official synopsis sums it up perfectly and does so better than I could, so here it is:

A small town becomes the playground to a masked killer stalking and killing the locals for no apparent reason. With the town's sheriff and locals still more worried about a high school football game than getting to the bottom of what's going on, one detective from out of town must rush to save the lives of a group of teens tossing a party in the middle of all the chaos. But, as we soon learn, these teens have some complicated issues of their own.

It's obvious from the very beginning that Conry is as much of a fan of 80's slasher flicks as most of the rest of us. Morbid is a love letter to those glorious days in horror's history. It's got all the ingredients, a bunch of partying teenagers, bumbling police officers, and a killer with a badass mask. Surprisingly, it even had a good amount of gore. The only thing holding Conry back was a budget. I can only imagine what this guy could accomplish with a little more money to work with. The characters are all fairly cliche, with the regulars all making appearances, the jocks, nerds, metal kids, etc. The dialog is purposely awful at times, filled with genre references, and made me laugh out loud several times. These movies aren't known for their convoluted plots filled with twists and huge reveals, and that's the point.

When all was said and done, I ended up having a blast watching Morbid. The location, atmosphere, and actors made me feel right at home, largely due to the fact that I believe Mr. Conry is from my neck of the woods. It was like watching something me and my friends would've done had we had some money and access to a camera to play around with. Morbid is a hilarious, gory good time. I can't wait to see Chuck's next film.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

To Jennifer Review

You may remember that I was fairly impressed with director James Cullen Bressack's film, Hate Crime. That being the case, and because I asked super nicely, he graciously allowed me to view a screener of his newest film, To Jennifer. I had a basic idea as to what it was about, but other than a general idea, and that it was filmed entirely with an iPhone 5, I had no idea what to expect. I knew how brutal Hate Crime was, and when I sat down to watch Jennifer, I did so, hoping to be scarred for life.

To Jennifer is the story of Joey, a young man who is convinced his girlfriend, the titular Jennifer, is cheating on him. He enlists the aid of his cousin, Steven and his friend Martin, and together they plan a road trip, to catch Jennifer in the act. They are also filming the entire thing with Steven's iPhone, and plan to show the film to Jennifer, so she can see the heartache she's put Joey through. 

Strictly speaking, I suppose To Jennifer is a "found footage" style film, which as we all know are a dime a dozen these days. To do something original, or even different these days is damn near impossible. It's evident from the very beginning that a lot of thought went into the filming, which makes the fact that it was done entirely on an iPhone even more impressive. The plot isn't needlessly convoluted or over thought, but at the same time isn't non-existent. There's even a twist or two, and character development! Character development in a "found footage" movie, that was shot on a cell phone. Tell me that isn't a talented writer/director. Still, as good as To Jennifer is, it isn't without a couple of minor flaws. The pacing slows in a couple spots, when scenes would run a bit long. There were also a scene which, while humorous, seemed un-necessary. The other disappointment was that about halfway through I knew what was going on, and if you're paying attention, you will too. 

Still, those minor issues aside, To Jennifer is still an incredibly well made and entertaining film. It didn't pack the emotional punch that Hate Crime did for me, but the ending still managed to get to me. That's something I can't say for most of the films I watch. James Cullen Bressack is a name that we will all be very familiar with in the near future. We need more people like him making films.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Monsters University Review

Imagine a family friendly version of Revenge of the Nerds, only with cute monsters instead of nerds and frat boys. Monsters University is the sequel to my favorite Pixar film of all time, Monsters Inc. While I preferred Pixar when their focus was on new and different films every time, I have to admit that I'm down for as many trips back to the Monsters universe as they're prepared to take. I saw the original Monsters Inc. way back in 2001, which predated my having children by three years. I fell in love with Sully and Mike in a way that I don't think Pixar intended for 23 year olds without kids of their own. Not only is the premise genius, a monster world where screams are their main power source, and they harvest it by going into children's bedrooms and scaring them? And this is their job? Absolutely brilliant.

Monsters University acts as a prequel, and we get to see Mike Wazowski and James P. "Sully" Sullivan as they were in college, before becoming Monsters Inc.'s premiere scare team. Turns out the two weren't always best of friends, but a series of unfortunate events leads to the two of them being forced to work together to get into the university's scare program, which is the pool where Monsters Inc. picks it's scarers from. Of course along the way the two of them manage not to set aside differences, but to use each other's strengths to overcome obstacle after obstacle. This is one of the most cliche, and non specific plot summaries you will ever read here, but the fact is that Monsters University is so good, to spoil anything would be doing you an injustice.

As you may have surmised on your own already, I totally loved this movie. Loved it. This time around, I got to see it with my kids, in fact I took them on my daughter's birthday, and it was just a perfect night. Shopping, dinner, and a great movie. Monsters U is funny, uplifting, heartwarming, and simply put one of the best times I've had in a theater in recent memory. See it, whether you have little monsters of you own or not.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Megan is Missing Review

I caught this one on Netflix this week, after having a friend recommend it. I believe his words were "the ending hit me pretty hard"...folks, if by "hard" he meant it hit him in the stomach with a sledgehammer, then believe me, I'm right there with him. For parents, this is one of the most horrifying films ever made. I still shudder when I think back on it.

Megan is missing starts off not at all unlike what I imagine most of the programming MTV currently runs would be like if HBO had aired it first. The main characters are the wildly popular and apparently promiscuous Megan, and her less than popular bff Amy. Megan is the cliche party girl, pretty but in constant need of attention/affection to make up for a less than ideal home life, and Amy is the exact opposite, a quiet girl, not as attractive, goes to the party but hangs out on the wall, perfect home life, and so on. The two of them web chat constantly. I mean CONSTANTLY. After meeting a new guy on the internet, who claims to be from a different school, Megan mysteriously disappears. When days pass without a word, Amy begins to fear the worst and begins to search for her. Little does she know, the worst is yet to come.

I'm not going to lie to you and say this is a good movie. It's pretty goddamn annoying for the first hour or so, unless of course you enjoy listening to teenage girls chat about the things that teenage girls chat about. There are some pretty graphic conversations between Amy and Megan, most of which seems a bit unnecessary as I already knew that Megan was clearly the product of a bad upbringing. I didn't need to be beat over the head with all these stories of the horrible things she'd been through. Still, I suppose for the intended viewing audience this proved to be entertaining and maybe existed to hold attention. If you manage to stick with it through all that though, as previously mentioned the ending packs quite a punch. There are two scenes in this movie that literally made me queasy. What makes this film so effective is that stuff like this happens every day.

THIS is the film that should be shown to any and every parent who has a teenager with internet access. If this doesn't scare the shit out of you, then maybe you need to take a look at the relationship you have with your child a little closer. For those of us whose children are our entire lives, this movie will stick with us way past the credits rolling. As mentioned this one is on Netflix, and while I can't recommend it for everyone, I urge parents to give it a watch. It's not a "horror" film in the typical movie standard, but I can honestly tell you it's one of the scariest things I've seen in years.

Monday, July 1, 2013