Saturday, 23 December 2017

This Is What It's Really About

Okay, guys, anyone who's spent any time on the Internet since Last Jedi came out knows it's been controversial. I thought maybe I'd talk about the backlash surrounding it. But that's super negative to do right before Christmas, and refuting all the complaints would be super spoilery. So I thought I'd do something a little more uplifting for the season. Get your kleenex, folks.

So I came across several news bits and some articles about an Air Force and Vietnam veteran who is terminally ill and his daughter wanted to make sure he got to see The Last Jedi. And folks on the Internet and from their community pulled together and made sure he got to go in style. He got a private screening, accompanied by members of the 501st and Rebel Legion and by the look of it, an awesome experience.

We all get so wrapped up in ourselves and our fandoms, but I thought this was a good reminder for all of us that this is what it's all about, this is the stuff that makes it matter. And in the midst of all the negativity, it's so refreshing to see something positive, to know that we really can do good with this things that we love. This is what we need more of. Not petitions to remove Last Jedi from canon (seriously?), but really, honest-to-goodness, goodness. Let's all remember how a little green puppet once said that hate is on the path to the Dark Side, and we're all better than that.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Article HERE (this is where the kleenex comes in)

For the record, I thought Last Jedi was awesome. I don't get the upset.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom First Trailer and Featurette

Twas three weeks before Christmas
And we were biding our time.
Tonight was for dinos
(next week’s all Jedi)

The people all waited on YouTube with care
With hopes that a trailer soon would be there

There’s he in his t-shirt and I in my hoodie,
Waiting and hoping it would be a goody.
When from the table there came such a tither,
‘The trailer is live, it was posted on Twitter!’

Okay, that’s enough of that. I’ve had my fun with the obligatory Christmas reference, so let’s talk about the trailer. I’ve actually got a couple of other trailers and things to talk about as well but that will be a later post because I’ve honestly been a little under the weather. But let’s not let that stop us from at least talking about the first full trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, aka Jurassic World II, Jurassic Park V, or The Lost Park: Jurassic World.

So let’s back this up a little. A few days before the Infinity War trailer dropped, there was a leaked graphic on Facebook saying ‘Trailer This Thursday!”. That was a boo-boo on someone’s part, as Universal then came out and clarified that the announcement was premature but that the real date would be released that weekend. That Sunday, there were two teasers dropped, one online and one introduced during the Seahawks-Eagles game by Chris Pratt. Fast forward to Wednesday, we get a nice little behind-the-scenes featurette ahead of the trailer Thursday. Still with me? I know I had to ask my expert to explain it twice as I wrote this. Well, anyway, now we have our first look at Fallen Kingdom.

  First off I just want to say the behind-the-scenes video is really, really good and you should definitely check it out. There’s some really exciting stuff there. Look at all the robots, guys! That was one issue I definitely had with the first Jurassic World film and I would just love it if they really brought those practical dinosaurs back into the series. Especially given the massive legacy of the combination of practical and computer generated that is so iconic of the first (three) films. I didn’t watch A Monster Calls with the other half when he watched it (I don’t do sad movies) but what I heard from him gives me hope that J.A Bayona can pull this off. 

Anyway, on to the trailer itself. This is an interesting one. It’s a little weird tonally, to start with. The banter and the music of the bar scene don’t really line up with the stuff that comes after. Also, there is a bit of a clash from philosophical/ ethical debate and all-out action. I’m not saying the movie can’t do both, but it makes for a bit of a weird feel over all. But it’s not bad. Apparently everything we see in this two-and-a-half minutes is from the first 57 minutes movie, or so Colin Trevorrow says, and so we can’t feel like we already know how this is going to play out and that we’ve been spoiled. I’ve seen some fairly negative reaction to this, but I don’t really see anything that gives me cause for great alarm, yet. Then again, the featurette did help with that. 

So what’s good? Well, it looks like we’re doing something different story-wise. We might actually get some expansion on the ethical debate as to the nature of the dinosaurs and what that entails as far as protections for them (animals vs assets). Jeff Goldblum is back, and though we shouldn’t expect him to have a huge role, it’s nice to see him back in the franchise again. There’s going to be a metric crap-ton of dinosaurs in this movie, including some new ones (Carnotaurus! Baryonyx!) and some returning ones, too (Compys! Stegosaurus!). What else? The CG looks really good so far, even this far out, and if they are using as much practical as they promise then hopefully it will be all the better. In that vein, it’s nice to see Rexy back again in all her glory, rocking all those scars like the matriarch of the island that she is.
yaaaas Queen!  #sorrynotsorry

 It’s a better first trailer than Jurassic World had. And baby Blue is super cute.  

There were a few things I was meh about, though. Owen and Claire obviously didn’t stay together, and I hope that doesn’t play too much into the story. I’m not upset about it character-wise like when JP III had Grant and Ellie no longer together, I just don’t want it to be a Thing that gets annoying. There was one other thing in the trailer too. Owen got caught in what looks like a pyroclastic flow from the volcano. In that case, he would be extra-crispy human and that would be the end of him. I rather doubt they’re planning on killing off Chris Pratt, especially that early in the movie, so we’ll have to see what happens there.

So, in the words of the esteemed Dr. Malcolm:

I think it has potential. I really want this to be the movie that this franchise deserves. I want for my other half to come out of it as excited as I came out of Force Awakens, Rogue One (and hopefully Last Jedi). I want it to be awesome, and I hope it is.          

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Avengers: Infinity War Trailer Reaction

So anyone who’s spent five minutes on the Internet since this morning can probably tell you what today was: Infinity War trailer day! If you’re Facebook and Twitter feeds are similar to mine, then that’s about all anyone can talk about. So, why don’t’ we join in on the fun?

First off, the trailer itself:

So just a few things that stood out to me as I watched this:

-human Vision and Wanda. I want to know more about this. 

-The Spider Sense! This is one of the things I was most excited to see, to be honest. 

-Loki with the tesseract, possibly walking through a bunch of dead people. 

-Thanos’ skin is more of a muted purple than before. I like the way he looks here, less cartoony than before. 

 -Peter’s now wearing the Iron Spider suit. I dig the glowing eyes. 

-Whatever Thor’s doing at 1:27 makes me think I need to finally get around to seeing Ragnarok

-1:29- Google tells me the woman throwing the spear at this Steve Rogers-proportioned shadow is Proxima Midnight, one of the ‘children’ of Thanos. 

-I think there was a collective squee of ‘Yessss!’ when T’Challa said “And get this man a shield” and Steve walks out of the shadow in all his bearded gloriousness. 

-Is anyone else a little worried what Wanda is going to do if Vision dies from getting the Stone pulled out of his head? Just me? 

-I’d like to know how Thanos figures he’s ‘balancing the universe’ by having all the Infinity Gems to himself. I don’t think that’s how that works, man. 

-Nice to see Bucky got himself a new arm. 

-This invasion and fight in Wakanda is going to be badass. I already can’t wait for Black Panther’s movie and this isn’t helping. 

-And finally, I loved Mantis’ awkward wave. That was the cutest. 

So what’s the takeaway here? This looks awesome. At this point, I don’t think I need any more trailers. Let’s be real here, I was going to see this one anyway, but it’s nice to see the trailer and really confirm that excitement. This is going to be a massive undertaking of a film, but I have confidence in the Russo brothers to make this work. We’ll find out how they do May 4th, 2018. I have to wonder how long this one is going to be, especially if it’s not a two-parter anymore and Avengers 4 is going to be its own thing. I’m thinking a good two-and-a-half hours, at least. And I am so on board.    

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Deadpool 2 Trailer!

So, today instead of watching the next film in my horror series, I watched the new trailer for Deadpool 2.

What do you even say about this? It's totally insane and perfect at the same time. It's also and excellent litmus test to see if you can roll with the kind of movie that this is going to be.

We're already going to be seeing this one when it hits theatres, but this is still a funny, well-made trailer that gets you excited for the movie and shows you what to expect without spoiling anything. The Deadpool films have had fantastic marketing so far, and it's good to see that continuing. There are also way too many references in here to get into them all, but it's a fun game to see how many you get each time you watch it. Well done.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Fear and Film: A Horror Retrospective- 1920's

And we’re back again! Its November now, but why quit a good thing? This entry was a little more difficult, I ended up watching three different films for it. I’ll talk really quickly about the other two, but our main focus will be The Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney Sr., from 1925. This will be both the first with a ‘feature length’ runtime, and the first Hollywood film I’ve reviewed for this project. So let’s get to it!

First, a couple of quick words on the other two movies I watched. The first one was an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher from 1928. This was a short film at 13 minutes, and it was also super trippy (or avant-garde, as the article for it says). It was hard to discern the story when watching it, because you weren’t sure what was supposed to by symbolic and what was real. It did have a fascinating visual style with distortions of the screen from shooting through a prism, to M. C. Escher-esque set design, and no intertitles to explain what’s going on. It’s an absolutely fascinating film to watch, but I didn’t feel like I had enough to make a full review, so I tried something else.

The second movie I watched was a Swedish film called K├Ârkarlen (The Phantom Carriage in English) from 1921. I was lucky enough to find a version with English captions translating the intertitles, so I thought I’d give it a try. And it was really good. I’d honestly recommend seeing it because I thought it was an excellently-made movie and has some really neat special effects. The acting was also great and at a couple of points I got kind of emotional. So why am I not reviewing this one fully? Well, watching it, it never really came off as a horror movie (even though it’s in my list of horror films for the decade). It has some supernatural/horror elements, but the story is honestly rather akin to A Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life and I kept waiting for the horror shoe to drop and it just never really did. On the plus side, it’s my second favorite version of this type of story (the first of course being The Muppet’s Christmas Carol). I just couldn’t review it as a horror film.
Finally, I sat down and watched The Phantom of the Opera and this is the one we’re going to talk about in depth. I watched the original 1925 version of the film rather than the 1929 re-edit. There is also a version with partial sound from 1930 (the film is lost but the sounds discs have survived). There was also seventeen minutes of colorized footage, but only part of that is still around. The version I watched was all in black and white and silent, which was fine. It would have been cool to see the color part that is still available, but other than novelty it really wouldn’t change things all that much.

The story of the Phantom pretty well-known in pop culture, so I don’t want to dwell too much on story. It is apparently quite faithful to the original novel (which I haven’t read but should), especially in its depiction of the Phantom’s appearance.

This appearance was created by star Lon Chaney Sr., who did his own makeup for roles, and was apparently kept secret until the film’s release at which time it scared the ever-loving crap out of people. And it’s effective. You can believe this guy was ostracized from society for appearance alone and that’s why he lives in the caverns under the opera house. For comparison, I had a look at some of the other Phantoms without their masks, and it was interesting. I don’t know why Gerard Butler’s Phantom is even bothering with the mask for that bad sunburn he’s got over his one eye; at least Robert Englund’s brought a bit of his Freddy look to it. Either way, Chaney’s Phantom is iconic, and part of that is his amazing makeup work.

Let’s talk about the acting. I’ve come to enjoy the acting of these silent films, and I’m going to miss them since from here on out we’re going to be into ‘talkies’. Phantom was no exception to that. The pantomime, exaggerated style of the silent era is quite different from what I’m used to and I enjoy expressiveness. Again, Lon Chaney Sr.’s acting ability is every bit as impressive as his makeup skills, giving the Phantom a melancholy and gravitas that almost makes you feel for him despite his obsessive perusal of Christine and his willingness to do whatever necessary to get what he wants. Christine herself, played by Mary Philbin, is stuck in a difficult situation, yet is surprisingly resourceful in trying to help her lover Raoul (Norman Kerry) get her away from the Phantom. The rest of the cast is just as good, and indeed the cast itself is huge, with hundreds (maybe thousands) of extras giving life to Paris. The sheer number and quality of all those costumes is staggering, considering most of them are suits/gowns for wearing to the opera and costumes for the Bal Masque party scene.

To that end, the sets are also amazing. The Paris Opera House in the film is a soundstage, which is crazy when you look at the size and complexity of that set alone. Even crazier? That soundstage wasn’t fully dissembled and demolished until 2014, at which time any remaining parts of the Opera House set were preserved and moved.

To be honest, I don’t even know what else to say about this movie. It’s excellent, go watch it. It would do it better justice than listen to me ramble on about it anymore.

So in conclusion, the 1920’s were an interesting decade for this project. I watched three movies, and thought highly enough of all of them to recommend. Whether you’re interested in the surreal, the dramatic, or the horror, I guess I have something for everyone this time. Thanks for coming around again and talking horror films and we’ll see you next time when we get into the advent of sound!

Watch The Fall of the House of Usher HERE
Watch K├Ârkarlen HERE
Watch The Phantom of the Opera (1925) HERE