0081 – Annabelle: Creation review


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Lights Out (2016)


There’s No You Without Me.

I saw today’s movie in a RedBox and started to remember that the trailer looked like it had some nifty spooky things in how they handled light, and since I had an October Horrorthon to prepare for, it seemed like a good enough reason to give it a shot.  …And that’s pretty much it.  There aren’t always good stories to these things.  Anyway, the movie was Lights Out, written by Eric Heisserer, directed by David F. Sandberg, and starring Teresa Palmer, Maria Bello, Gabriel Bateman, Alicia Vela-Bailey, and Alexander DiPersia.

A man is murdered in a warehouse by a creepy shadow lady that looks like Penance from Generation X – let’s just call her Diana (Vela-Bailey).  That man had a wife, Sophie (Bello), who is crazy, a stepdaughter, Rebecca (Palmer), who has left the family, and a son, Martin (Bateman), who is not sleeping well.  When Sophie can’t be reached, Rebecca is contacted by child protective services because Martin keeps falling asleep in class.  When asked, Martin claims that he can’t sleep because his mom keeps him up by talking with her friend Diana.  …OH SNAP!  That’s the name I gave to the evil ghost lady, isn’t it?  That’s strange…

I found myself fairly underwhelmed by this movie, but I wouldn’t say I hated it.  It was just kind of … regular.  The story was a pretty basic haunting thing with a few twists to separate it from the pack a little, but that’s not really what sets it apart.  They even put it in the title!  It’s all the lights on and off stuff.  That stuff was fun, but also was occasionally problematic.  A ghost thing that can only be seen when it’s almost pitch black means that we will barely be able to see her most of the time.  At least until they bust out the giant, check-your-hotel-room-for-semen style black light that this family has in their basement for some odd reason.  Then you’ll see her and she just looks like a zombie or a lady with a skin condition.  But the stuff they did with the darkness and the rules they set was fairly interesting, it just wasn’t that spooky, even if you ignore the fact that it shouldn’t be nearly that hard to keep yourself in the light.  Go buy a battery or fire powered lantern, for crying out loud!  But what they did go for with scares was used mostly for jump scares which can be fun, but probably won’t make your movie a classic if you can’t build enough tension and spookiness.  Plus, only 3 people died in this movie!  Super powered zombie ghost shadow lady should’ve tried a little bit harder.

There were at least some good performances in this movie.  Teresa Palmer’s character was a bitch to people randomly and seemingly without reason in the beginning, but came around to a very likeable character when she started trying to look out for the welfare of her half-brother.  She seemed to make fairly good decisions for the most part, but I cannot fathom how this girl would be in a haunted house with a shadow ghost that likes to jump out of the darkness at people and yet Rebecca still thought it would ever be a good idea to walk backwards into an open doorway.  You should just hold your flashlight and spin around in circles until morning…or until you throw up.  Either way, it seems pretty fun.  I found Gabriel Bateman annoying, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s not just because I hate most kids.  Maria Bello is great though.  She plays really her role very unhinged but also sympathetic at the same time, which made the ending more disappointing.  She couldn’t have found a better way out of this situation than she did? And by “she,” I feel like I actually mean “the writers.”  Boyfriend guy was just kind of there to me and didn’t really make an impact beyond seeming like a big creep for being so determined to move in with Rebecca in the beginning that he wanted to leave some of his stuff there, and when she said no, he tried to stash a sock there.  As if having some article of clothing in a girl’s house means that you’re dating now.  If that were the case, I’d start leaving clothing in girl’s houses instead of leaving with their underwear like I do now.  The only other character that stood out to me was the child protective services lady.  She seemed nice enough, but I found it really dumb that when she was trying to indicate that she didn’t believe Rebecca was fit to raise a child, her examples seemed to be that Rebecca likes Heavy Metal music (or at least posters of them) and marijuana.

I feel like the best thing I can say about Lights Out is that it’s nifty.  The story of the movie is fairly basic with one or two new ideas, but mostly the movie rests on the shoulders of one or two solid performances and some interesting jump scares based around lighting effects.  You could probably get roughly the same effect of this movie by just watching the 7 minute short film of the same name that inspired this movie, but watching the movie isn’t a terrible option either.  Lights Out gets “Mom, we need to talk” out of “We’re living with a dead woman.”

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0080 – Stephen King’s It Review


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0079 – Dungeons & Dragons: Episode 17 – Eye of the Beholder


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0078 – Boner Fest: Rapid Recall gameplay


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Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)


The World’s Changed, Boys.  Time We Change Too

It doesn’t seem correct that the last time I wrote a written review for a movie was over 2 years ago, but I’ll take your word for it, WordPress.  Well, I figured if I wasn’t going to have a video ready for this week, maybe I could write a review instead.  And what luck!  I happen to have seen a movie today!  So I’ll just go ahead and give you a few words about Spider-Man: Homecoming, written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, directed by Jon Watts, and starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, and Jennifer Connelly.

Peter Parker (Holland) is Spider-Man.  …Probably should’ve put a Spoiler Alert warning in the intro…  Anyway, he fights bad guys.  But not as much as he thinks he should.  The tailor of his suit, Tony Stark (Downey), disagrees and thinks he’s not ready.  Well Peter goes and does it anyway, getting in a little over his head when he starts getting closer with a gang of former salvage employees turned criminals and lead by the flying suit wearing Adrian Toomes (Keaton).  Other stuff happens, Tony tells Peter to get naked, Peter starts wearing a hoody with steampunk goggles, happy ending.

The general shittiness of my tone when describing the movie is not an indicator of my feelings about it.  I really enjoyed this movie.  I just don’t wanna give anything important away on accident.  I wanna do that when I goddamned good and ready!  I’m so happy Marvel got their mitts back on Spidey because they did it just as well as I hoped they would.  It just felt so much like Spidey!  More than it has felt like Spidey in quite a long time.  His jokes were good (Sorry Andrew Garfield) and at no point did he have a cringe-worthy dance scene in an emo black suit (Sorry Tobey).  It was more fun than serious, but succeeded on both fronts when it aimed to, which is something the DC Universe should take note of, especially with how well Wonder Woman did it.  The movie keeps our friendly spider more grounded and small, working out of a neighborhood setting one could say.  It doesn’t get too big for its britches, even though Peter wants it.  It’s better this way.  Spider-Man should handle his own business, and then occasionally get involved in the bigger, crossover type things like they do in those picture books people like so much.  He should have his Peter Parker troubles and have to perform a balancing act with his secret Spider-Man troubles, and in this movie he does!

The movie, however, was only ALMOST perfect.  It’s hard to put a movie together without flaws, and the minor ones in this were definitely forgivable, but worth noting because it’s very difficult to make jokes about good stuff.  The biggest one for me was the whole MJ thing.  One thing that really stuck in my craw about the Dark Knight Rises was the whole Robin thing, and the MJ thing in this movie reminded me of that.  You have this character that you’ve created for the movie and that’s fine.  But why have a big reveal at the end that the character we’ve been watching in the whole movie shares a name with something we know?  Like, am I supposed to get excited that John Blake’s real name is Robin?  Even though he’s not Robin and won’t be Robin and no Robin has been named John Blake?  So it’s just a moment of the filmmakers saying, “Remember that beloved character!?  …Well, this isn’t them.  But, y’know, it’s kinda cute… right…?”  Well that’s how the MJ thing felt in this movie.  Didn’t ruin anything, mind you.  I just thought it was unnecessary.  I also felt like this movie came dangerously close to getting in over its head with the characters.  I know Marvel is excited to get to play with these characters again, but when I looked through the Wikipedia page for the movie after the fact, almost every bit character in the movie was meant to be bigger characters from the comics.  They had Prowler (apparently), the Tinkerer, the Scorpion, one version of a guy that would become Venom, and TWO Shockers!  There was also electricity in some of the scenes, and that will probably be revealed to be Electro at some point.  It didn’t hurt anything for me really, but maybe slow down a little.  You can have bit players in a movie and it won’t hurt my feelings that the dude that sold Peter a sandwich wasn’t Kraven the Hunter.

I can’t say I have much to say about the action and visuals in the movie.  They were all great.  I thought they would be and my psychic powers were confirmed when they were.  …NEXT!

The casting was phenomenal.  We’ve met a lot of these people before and already knew how good they’d be so not a lot of surprise there, but they either met or exceeded expectations.  Tom Holland didn’t have it easy jumping into such an iconic character, but felt even better when we got to spend more time with it.  And being Spidey ain’t easy.  The first hardest thing about being Spider-Man is not beating Flash’s ass.  The second hardest thing would be having those abs and wearing a shirt to high school.  These are both things that would’ve been much different if I were Spider-Man.  Perhaps my uncles did a poor job imparting wisdom to me.  …Plus they’re both alive, which seems like they really let me down.  But Holland was Peter Parker and Spider-Man both at the same time perfectly, which is something I don’t think I could say about any other Spider-Man I know.  Michael Keaton was also expectedly fantastic.  He had solid motivation and reasoning and one of the most important things to get right about a villain is their motivation.  A bad guy who is bad just to be bad is boring.  This is a family man that got screwed by Damage Control and went a little overboard afterwards to take care of his family.  And he was intimidating AF!  The way they had him put together the Peter/Spidey thing was masterful and believable.  And his line comparing the way he got rich with the way Tony Stark got rich was also perfect.  Jacob Batalon as Ned and Zendaya as Michelle were both great comic relief, without overdoing it.  I felt a little annoyed with Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau in this movie, though.  They did a great job, but their role in the movie was to get mad at Peter for trying to handle something even though he constantly tried to let them know about if first.  Something is about to get hijacked!  Call Happy!  …He hung up on me.  Better handle it myself.  “I TOLD YOU NOT TO!” says Tony.  “I also had the other thing handled and you didn’t need to get involved…but I guess I forgot to let you know I called the FBI.  …Probably would’ve let you know that you didn’t need to get involved if I told you, wouldn’t it…?”  Also, I really enjoyed Jennifer Connelly as Karen, Peter’s AI suit companion.  I didn’t know it was her until after the movie, but they had a lot of cute interactions.

Y’know, I always say I don’t have much to say about movies I enjoy and that’s why I don’t write reviews for them.  Guess I showed me!  I can talk way too much about anything!  Next up: Sports!  But Spider-Man was lovely.  A perfect balance of a Peter story and a Spidey story with only minor annoyances that don’t take away from the overall enjoyment, with great action and comedy and wonderful performances to realize those things.  Go out and see this movie!  You have my blessing!  Spider-Man: Homecoming gets “You were on the ceiling!” out of “If you’re nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.”

P.S.  Rest in Peace, Joan Lee.  This movie and character may not exist at all without your support.

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0077 – Dungeons & Dragons: Episode 16 – Stab Wars


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