Shazam: Fury of the Gods (2023) Review 

So I saw Shazam: Fury of the Gods recently and I had a good time with it. I think the movie is good over-all, but I wasn’t as into it as I was the first movie. I’ll go into it a little bit later. Shazam: Fury of the Gods is directed by David F. Sandberg. The movie stars Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody, Ross Butler, Meagan Good, Lucy Liu as Calypso, Djimon Hounsou and Helen Mirren as Hespera. Shazam: Fury of the Gods sees Billy Batson and his foster siblings, who transform into superheroes by saying “Shazam!”, are forced to get back into action and fight the Daughters of Atlas, who they must stop from using a weapon that could destroy the world. 

The plot line and story of the movie work for me. There’s this through line of family issues throughout the movie, as the Shazamily have their own issues they’re going through and the Daughters of Atlas have their own issues. Its interesting to see how different the two factions are, in showing how close the adopted family truly is even throughout the problems they are having in this movie. One could even say they are more of a family than the blood related family in the Daughters of Atlas. This movie also puts a lot of focus on Shazam and on Freddy throughout. I know they’re the main focus of the first movie, but they put a focus on them together as well as them apart. I do think this works as it allows us to see different sides of the characters and see them in different ways. There’s also this through line of the relationship between Gods and Mortals, and what gods think of mortals. Throughout the movie the main two sisters view mortals as disgusting and beneath them,  angered at the fact that the power of their family was given to children. As the movie goes on though, the supposedly superior gods fall to the same impulses and issues that humans do, and that humanity can rise to be like the gods. A lot of this is focused around the character of Billy as Shazam, so lets talk about it.

Zachary Levi and Asher Angel do a pretty good job as Shazam and as Billy. Though we don’t actually get much of Billy throughout this movie which is interesting to me as I do feel his absence throughout. While Levi continues to do a great job in the role, I do feel like him and Billy feel like different people in comparison to the others. Of the little we see of Billy throughout the movie he feels more subdued, while as Shazam he feels more boastful over-the-top. I don’t let it detract from the movie but iI figured I should mention it. The way they handle the Shazam character in this movie is really interesting, as I kind of feel like he hasn’t learned much since the first movie. He’s still immature, emotional, impulsive, and inexperienced when I feel like he should have a bit more going on there now. I get why throughout the movie as he feels the need to try to keep the family together do to his past traumas and what he thinks is coming up in regards to his family soon. He doesn’t want to be alone again, and is trying to cope with that possibility. That is an interesting way to take the character and the lessons he learns throughout the movie as I think that is something we can relate too in general, but also with what he’s been though. Another thing about the character is that there is a running joke throughout the movie that he doesn’t really think things through and might not be the most intelligent member of the group, but kind if has a great ability to think on the fly. We see this a bit in the first movie, but here it is shown a lot more. Especially with how he figures out how to solve the situation that they are put in. I do think this is a great way to take the character as it shows him learning from his mistakes. The rest of the cast are great as well, with a lot of praise going to Jack Dylan Grazer as he also gets to do a lot throughout the movie. Freddie is learning a lot of the same lessons that Billy is learning throughout the movie. He’s also one of things showing the “superior” gods just what humanity is capable of, as he’s strong enough willed to do things a lot of people throughout the movie weren’t able to do. 

Moving on, the movie has some really good effects throughout. The creatures all look great, the locations look great. The action is mostly pretty good throughout, seeing Shazam battle a giant magic Dragon is as cool as you think it would be. The music use is pretty good, with a stand-out use being the bridge sequence in the early parts of the movie that makes great use of a song. The pacing of the movie is pretty similar to the first one, and can kinda go all over the place. I mean it starts off fast by introducing the sisters and their abilities. The score is ok, not super memorable, but it works for what it is. The comedy mostly hits for me throughout the movie, with some good running jokes. 

In terms of issues, its mostly the Billy thing. It kind of took me out of the movie that they feel a lot more different than everyone else who transform does. Another issue is kind of spoiler so I won’t say much, but its weird that DC really went there again with this movie. 

Over-all, this is a fun family movie to see in the theatre. Its a good follow up that ups the action and effects and is worth the watch, even with the future of the character being as in the air as it currently is. Though this does kind of fit the direction James Gunn is taking the movies going forward, I mean come on this movie is legitimately about Gods and Monsters. Over-all I give this movie two thumbs up, its worth watching. 

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) Review 

So I finally watched Everything Everywhere All At Once at it was incredible. This is going to be a short review as I have nothing bad to say. Legitimately everything about this film was incredible. From here onward I will be referring to the film as EEAAO to help make it easier to read and write. EEAAO is an American Action Sci-Fi Comedy written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as Daniels. The film stars Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang (main character), Stephanie Hsu as Joy Wang (daughter), Jamie Lee Curtis as Deirdre Beaubeidre, Key Huy Quan as Waymond Wang (Husband), and James Hong As Gong Gong (the father). EEAAO is the story of a middle-aged Chinese immigrant who is swept up into an insane adventure in which she alone can save existence by exploring other universes and connecting with the lives she could have led. 

This is a very interesting film. It has all these crazy and hilarious moments throughout the film exploring the different universes of possibilities, but they use them to analyze the relationship between the characters in the family, with a focus on Evelyn and Joy. This story really makes the movie as good as it is, as it gives it some real stakes and we really get to care about this family in all their different versions and variations. It also helps to create some interesting situations and ways to make every universe feel different from each other. The film really needs this strong core as its dealing with all these big concepts like the multiverse, nihilism, existentialism, and generational trauma. The fact that its able to handle and juggle all these things and still be absolutely hilarious is just insane to me. The fact that the film works as well as it does is a testament to the creativity of Daniels. I mean the film is able to juggle the serious subject matter with utterly ridiculous things such as hot dog fingers, sentient rocks, and Raccaccoonie. Everything seems to be so random, but in the end it all comes together to make some sort of sense for the movie. It all matters. 

All the performances in this film are incredible. Everyone has to play multiple different versions of the same character and they all just do amazing work. Michelle Yeoh is incredible as all the different versions of Evelyn. She brings so much emotion to this role and does a great job of making each version of Evelyn feel similar but different, even in the later parts of the film where things change a bit.  Stephanie Hsu also does incredible work as Joy, and as omnicidal Jobu Tupaki. She’s able to play both intimidating powerful villain, and daughter who is tired of her mom and the way she is treated. The fact she didn’t win one of the big awards for this performance is a bad move to me, as she really deserves it. Key Huy Quan was also incredible in the film. Its crazy to see how much he’s changed and how kind of smart it is to have his characters be the way they are. The first Waymond we follow kind of feels similar to the character he’s most known for in the past, but then we get to see all these different sides of him. From Sci-Fi action badass, to suave businessman he does an incredible job. there’s a reason he’s been winning all these awards for this film recently. Everyone else did an amazing job as well in this film as well. 

This film is also a technical marvel and masterpiece. The costuming is very well done, the sets are incredible, the effects are great as well. The action is also well done, definitely having the influence of classic martial arts movies, considering who worked on the film I can see why. Of course we have the legendary Michelle Yeoh, but we also have Andy and Brian Le of Martial Club on Youtube who did stunts, acted, and are stunt coordinators on the film. The music was great as well. The pacing and editing are also incredible in this movie. Very creative and it really plays with structure and format and aspect ratios. Just incredible all around

Over-all this film was incredible and is well worth watching multiple times and all the acclaim it has gotten. I can see why people don’t like it and how they wouldn’t like it, it’s a complex film with a lot of weird moments. But for me it all works. I give it two-thumbs up ! I wish I watched it sooner.

Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania (2023) Review 

So I just got back from seeing Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quatumania and I have to say its good. This is the third movie in the Ant-Man trilogy and is the jumping off point for MCU Phase 5 as well as the first big movie in a while. This isn’t going to be one to miss if you’re keeping up with Marvel as it has a lot of big implications for the future of this franchise. I’m going to keep this review spoiler free and relatively short as I don’t have too much to say. Ant-Man & The Wasp Quantamania is directed by Peyton Reed and stars a returning Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne, Kathryn Newton as Cassandra Lang, and Jonathan Majors as Kang The Conqueror. The movie sees the Ant gang thrust into the quantum realm and having to explore the miniature universe and interact with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure beyond what they thought was possible.  This is a very different movie from the past two Ant-Man movies, while still having the same core and core relationships. This is still about family and how their relationships have changed with how much time they lost, as well as having a lot of secrets between members that end up being revealed throughout the movie. The characters and performances all work for me. Kang is a standout character as this movie really establishes just how much of a threat he is and Johnathan Majors does a great job with the material. The effects and action were all good, the worlds and beings in the quantum realm were all cool and creative with their own even more alien designs and technology. The score was good too. It wasn’t much of a comedy movie but the comedy in it did land for me. My biggest issues with this movie is that this is not an Ant-Man movie. Its a Kang movie to build to Kang Dynasty. I understand that you need to explore this world and establish Kang and the threat he poses to the MCU and the characters we’ve grown to love over the last 15 years. I just don’t think they needed to sacrifice the possibly last Ant-Man movie in the trilogy to do this. There’s a lot of the characters that make up the identity of this trilogy that aren’t back for this because they have to go into the Quantum Realm to have big CGI battles. I still enjoyed my time with the movie and get what they’re doing and what they’re going for as this is one of the few movies to push forward the main story in the MCU. 

Over-all I did enjoy this movie and do think that its basically required watching for the major over-arching story going forward in the MCU. It does have its issues and I can see why critics are saying what more critical with this one. I give it 1 thumb up, it’s still worth a watch even with its issues.

Transformers: The Movie (1986) Review

So I just finished watching Transformers: The Movie for the first time, and this movie is freaking awesome. I’ll start by saying this, this isn’t going to be an idpeth review or a super long one like I tend to do. This one is likely going to be pretty short as everything I have to say is going to be is going to be around the fact that I really enjoyed this movie. Transformers: The Movie is a 1986 animated science fiction action film based on the Transformers animated television series. The movie was directed by Nelson Shin and written by Ron Freidman. It stars Peter Cullen, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Frank Welker, Orson Welles, Casey Kasem, Eric Idle and more. The story is set in the far off future of 2005 and sees an adventure across the galaxy as the Autobots must fight to survive against the Decepticons after a devastating attack on Autobot city that saw to the death of Optimus Prime. The Autobots must also contend with the new power behind the Decepticons, the planet eating transformer known as Unicron. 

While the story isn’t much to snuff at, it still works for what this movie is. It’s a glorified tory commercial killing off the old toys/characters and introduction the new toys to buy. As someone with very little Transformers knowledge or connection this still works for me as an exploration of this universe and the coming of age heroes journey for Hot Rod to become the new leader of the Autobots. Even though I didn’t grow up with Transformers, or at least these specific ones, I can see how this movie would affect those that did. Its a surprisingly violent and brutal movie aimed at kids that features some relatively horrific moments and scenes as well as some truly sad moments like when Optimus Prime dies. I can see why the Michael Bay live-action movies were as violent as they were, but I also feel like this movie handles the violence better than those movies. This movie doesn’t really glorify the violence or show it in the same way that the Bay movies do. The way this movie handles the violence, destruction and death with as much weight as it can. This is a war movie that shows the violence as horrific as they can in a children’s animated movie. I mean the scenes where Unicorn eats the planets are legitimately horrifying. Its weird too as its also a movie with awesome action sequences, but doesn’t revel in the violence as much. 

The pacing of the movie is brisk, things happen fast and often. It also doesn’t feel overwhelming though. The length is pretty perfect for this movie too, its not too long but long enough to do what it wants to do. The voice acting is all great as well, everyone gives a great performance. The animation is incredible in this movie, you can really see the movie budget being put to good use in the fluidity of the animation. The designs are also all great too, each place we go has different looking robots with their own design elements that makes this feel like a real universe. The music is incredible as well, the soundtrack and the score are both just amazing. The soundtrack is full of rocking music that really helps being up the energy and enjoyment level of this movie for me. One thing about it though that made me laugh a little bit is that I mentioned to some friends that this movies feels like if fellow 80s animated movie Heavy Metal had a continuous story with the music choices this movie makes. The new theme song is amazing and the fact that these weren’t used in the Bay movies is a travesty. Vince DiCola’s score is incredible as well, it brings a lot of the energy as well as the sadness and horror this movie has. 

I don’t really have a lot of issues with this movie. Sure the story isn’t much and its a glorified toy commercial, its still a fun ride of a movie. I guess the only issue I had was some technical issues with the editing around of the music making some weird cuts between parts of a song. 

Over-all this a fun ride of a movie that is well worth the watch if you haven’t seen it yet, or even if you haven’t watched it in a while. I can see why so many people love this movie and why its gotten a cult following in the time since it’s release. I give this movie two thumbs up !

The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special (2022) Review

So I recently watched The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and I thought it was mostly good. James Gunn is back to deliver this first look at what the guardians have been up to since we last saw them in Avengers Endgame. I know they were in Thor Love and Thunder but that was more of a cameo and we didn’t get much of them in it. This special was written and directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Dave Batista as Drax, Pom Klementeiff as Mantis, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, and Kevin Bacon as Kevin Bacon. The Guardians, who are on a mission to make Christmas unforgettable for Quill, head to Earth in search of the perfect present (longline from letterboxed). This was a fun special that puts more focus on the relationship between Mantis and Drax and gives Mantis a bigger role in Quill’s life. Most of the special is a fish out of water comedy focusing on Drax and Mantis on Earth. Even though it is a fun part of the special, its also one of the weaker parts for me. I found myself pausing often and doing other stuff during this part. I do like how the whole reason for this special is a classic Christmas special trope of trying to give someone a good Christmas and remember what that is like…..even when they never forgot. This special really gives a lot for Mantis as a character as we get to see her do a lot more than we’ve seen her do in the movies. She gets to be funny as always, but we get to see her be angry and drunk and silly and do things action wise that we’ve never seen her do. Pom does a great job and you can tell she has a great time on this. In terms of performance the other best one is probably Kevin Bacon, you can see he probably had a great time doing this. Everyone else is good and serves their roles well, they’re just not in it much. I didn’t mention Drax earlier because I feel like there’s nothing all that new with his character and performance from what we’ve seen before. Having said that, I did enjoy how much he loves the inflatable Elf. Everything else with this special was good in terms of technically, like the music was good and I enjoy the songs made for this special, the little action is good, the effects are good, the sets look great. This is where we’ll get into my issues with this special. The first issue I have is that the fish out of water portion didn’t work great for me, as I said I found myself pausing and going elsewhere instead of watching it. The second issue I have is that it’s too short. They want to do a lot with this, but they don’t have the time to do it. It really feels like they had some time while filming the third movie that they decided to make a holiday special with it. It feels like it was shot in probably a couple weeks around shooting the third movie. For me this is a detriment to the special because its pretty noticeable, and because of that its not as satisfying as it probably should be for me. A good example of this for me is in the last half of the special, I don’t want to spoil it but I feel like the turn around wasn’t given enough time. One conversation is all it takes to go from being kidnapped to being friends and performing a song about Christmas. 

Over-all this was a fun special, not great but over-all a good watch. I give it One Thumb up, it’s an ok watch for this time of year. 

Violent Night (2022) Review

Poster: Violent Night by Bryan Johnson

So I recently saw Violent Night, and it was a fun movie. It works as a christmas movie and uses a lot of christmas movie tropes while also being a violent action movie about Santa rescuing a family from issues of its own creation. Violent Night was directed by Tommy Wirkola and stars David Harbour as Santa Claus, John Leguizamo as Scrooge, Alan Hassell as Jason Lightstone, Alexis Louder as Linda, Cam Gigandet as Morgan Steel, Editor Patterson as Alva Lightstone, Never D’Angelo as Gertrude Lightstone, Leah Brady as Trudy Lightstone, and Alexander Elliot as Bert. When a team of mercenaries breaks into a wealthy family compound on Christmas Eve, taking everyone inside hostage, the team isn’t prepared for a surprise combatant: Santa Claus is on the grounds, and he’s about to show why this Nick is no saint (synopsis from letterboxed). This is a movie that directly engages on its premise, and it delivers on it too. Its part gory action movie, part comedy, and part classic christmas movie. It uses a lot of classic christmas movie elements and formulas but also makes them kind of new since they’re being used in a gory action movie about Santa killing mercenaries. This is going to be a bit of stretch, but this movie kind of uses the now well known Hallmark romance formula in a way. Santa is a busy workaholic guy that has lost his christmas spirit. He comes across a family being held hostage and has to stay and help solve the situation. During this he is in contact with Trudy through a walkie talkie radio. This situation and Trudy’s belief in him bring back his christmas spirit and save the day. For this movie it works, and it works well for me. I enjoy how it gives Santa and the main family members an arc to go on through this movie. David Harbour is amazing as Santa and is the stand-out character of this movie. He’s badass but still has that wholesome energy in the character, even during the parts where he’s less than that. I do enjoy what they did with his backstory throughout the film, it does help explain why he’s such a badass and why he has a proclivity for a certain type of weapon. Everyone else in the movie did a great job, and you can see that everyone had a good time making this movie.

Most of the comedy in the movie works for me, but some of it is pretty cringy. Though I found that it was supposed to be cringy, as it was mostly tied to the more comic relief characters we’re not supposed to like. Probably the most effective comedy for me is the stuff related to people not believing in Santa when the actual Santa is in front of them, and the full on home alone scene. If you’ve ever wondered what Rated R home alone traps would be like, this is where you can find out. The action is pretty good throughout the movie. It makes good use of the setting with Santa using whatever he can find as a weapon, with decorations becoming deadly. They also got really creative with the hammer action in the movie. A stand-out action scene for me is when Santa is in the shed while a bunch of armed goons surround it and he finds a sledgehammer. It’s awesome and brutal and creative in what Santa is able to do in it. The action is all well-shot and well edited. No real shaky cam or fast editing. You can tell they put in the work to make it look as good as they can get it. The music is fittingly overtly christmas music and works for the tone of the movie. 

Over-all this is a fun movie and a good addition to your holiday action movie watch throughs. Some may see it as Die Hard in a mansion staring Santa as john Mclane, but I can safely say its if Die Hard was a full on outward christmas movie. Its a fun watch that’s worth seeing, Two-Thumbs Up !

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) Review

SO I saw Black Panther Wakanda Forever opening weekend and it’s taken me this long to gather my thoughts. It was a great movie. I’m going to try to avoid spoilers in this review as its a movie that should be seen. Black Panther Wakanda Forever is directed by Ryan Coogler and stars Letitia Wright as Shuri, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Winston Duke as M’Baku, Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda, Tenoch Huerta as Namor, and Dominigue Thorne as Siri Williams. After the death of King T’Challa, Wakanda must navigate a world gunning for its resources as well as a new power entering the scene of Talokan and Namor. Its really interesting to see how this movie utilizes elements from the first Black Panther movie to help its story and characters deal with the untimely death the character T’Challa, and by extension the death of Chadwick Boseman. It uses these similarities to help the characters and the audience grieve together, as their loss hit a lot of people hard in similar ways. This feeling continues throughout the whole movie and really colours the way the characters act and are motivated throughout. I think it is a great decision to have the movie be this way as it really helps create this sense of vulnerability within Wakanda and to outsiders, and especially to Namor and his new world of Talokan (this universe’s version of Atlantis, which could still exist somewhere). Talokan was an interesting world, different from anything else we’ve seen in the MCU. 

I’ll get a bit more about what I mean the movie uses the formula and elements of the first movie to enhance the story of this one. The movie follows a similar plot structure in that it begins with a cold open of people doing things and than a superpower attack on a military installation of some kind, we get scenes of wakanda talking to the world, introduce the villain, wakandans travel to find someone, there’s a car chase, introduction of a new world to the mcu showing off the people and the culture of this new world, freedom leading to war, a major attack on Wakanda that leaves it in the mercy of the Jabari tribes, herb stuff, that leads to the black panther driving to the jabari to lead the charge. Its a good way to keep that link with the first movie, while allowing it to tell its own story while dealing with the grief that the characters and actors feel.

The characters and actors in this movie are all great. Letitia Wright was great again as Shuri, really got a lot of interesting stuff to work with in this movie character wise. She hasn’t fully moved past her brothers death and blames herself for it. She has lost her faith and becomes angry and vengeful which is an interesting place to take the character considering her family. Angela Basset was great as Queen Ramonda. Tenoch Huerta was great as Namor, perfectly enrapturing the feeling and personality of the character even with the big changes they make to the character. He’s a stand-out character in this movie and gets a lot of great moments. Everyone else does a great job in their roles.

The effects are mostly great throughout this movie, Talokan looks great. Namor mostly looks great throughout, the only iffy spots are the panther suit in this. The fights were great throughout, Namor hasn’t really been nerfed and is shown to be very powerful. The final fight was pretty brutal for a marvel movie which I like. They way they depict his powers is great and the weapons of the people of Talokan are great as well. The music was amazing again.

Over-all this was a great marvel movie that should be seen on the big screen. Two-Thumbs Up !

A bit of a blog update now. I’m going to try to be more consistent again, the halloween thing almost worked out but I wasn’t able to post a last review for it. Than this took me longer to write than I wanted too as I was busy the weekend I saw the movie and got sick and wasn’t able to write anything. Should have some holiday stuff coming up though.

Mortal Kombat (2021) Review

Today I decided to go a little different. Instead of doing another horror movie I went horror adjacent, but still fitting the season with Mortal Kombat from 2021. Mortal Combat was directed by Simon McQuoid and stars Lewis Tan as Cole Young, Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade, Josh Lawson as Kano, Joe Taslim as Bi-Han/Sub-Zero, Mehcad Brooks as Jax, Tadanobu Asano as Lord Raiden, Hiroyuki Sanada as Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion, Chin Han as Shang Tsung, and Ludi Lin as Liu Kang. Mortal Combat tells the story of Lord Raiden gathering the champions of earthrealm to fight in the tournament of mortal kombat against the forces of Shang Tsung and outworld. I’m probably gonna keep this review short as I don’t have strong feelings about this movie. For those who don’t know or know me, I am a fan of the franchise. It’s probably the only fighting game I’ve followed and I love the lore surrounding it, in all its versions. So I was excited when I heard they were coming out with a new movie. I think its interesting how the movie decided to go with some of the more different ides from the games in that a lot of stuff can happen outside of the tournament. Its a good idea and can make for a more interesting movie franchise instead of focusing on just the tournament. Though that can create some things that I’ll mention later that can have an unintentional affect. I think that the story and plotline of this movie is ok, its serviceable and works for the most part. It introduces some stuff that can work for this version of the lore, such as the dragon mark representing their champion designation. They also use it to explain why an average human can have super powers, but it has this unintentional affect of making it like an x-gene in practice. 

The characters for the most part all work. They’re pretty good adaptations of their game counterparts, especially Kano. He’s the most fun character throughout the movie. The performances are all good for the characters. It was cool to see what they did with some of the characters and what characters they would include. Cole was an ok new character, an interesting backstory but they gotta do more with him to make him interesting in the future. Sub-zero was a standout from just coolness alone, you can tell they wanted him to have an impact.
The movie looks great for the most part. The locations and sets are great and the cinematography is good at moments. The effects are mostly pretty good, some stuff could have used a bit more time, like Gorr and the compositing of the outworld scenes. Thought the ice effects were incredible, very creative use that sets it a part from the usage in the games. The score was ok, a little too dubstepy in some places for my taste. The action for the most part was pretty good, the best scenes being the opening and the ending final fight. Funny how the best fights all involve Scorpion and Sub-zero. Although that final fight was awesome. Though it would have been cool to see more of Scorpions abilities in that fight. The problem I have with most of the action is the editing, like its can get jumpy at times and really should have let the action flow instead. 

I had some big issues with this movie. I’ll start a bit smaller and work my way up. There are a few potholes to me in terms of the lore. So they mention that the tournament is held to protect the realms from each other, but then Shang mentions that none of the other gods are going to stop him from just invading earthrealm. They should establish why they have to work through the tournament, and why Shang is doing these underhanded tactics when they’re this close to winning. Although that could also be working towards some of the stuff the more recent story from the games did where the elder gods didn’t get involved with Shao Kahn’s workings until he invaded. The movie makes use of a lot of fan service, but it doesn’t really earn it. It’ll do stuff that only fans of the franchise would understand but doesn’t actually make use of them. Especially character wise, as there are some characters that are there just to be another score on the kill count. My biggest issue is that this feels like a generic blockbuster movie with mortal kombat paint on it. Like it’s just an ok blockbuster. It doesn’t do the work to get us to care about the characters, it expects everyone to know who everyone is to have us care for them. It’s hard to describe for some reason.

Over-all this was an ok movie. It could have been a lot better and just feels kind of generic. It has some cool moments and some cool kills, but it doesn’t earn it to me. I give it a thumb up, its not bad but not that memorable. 

Evil Dead (2013) Review + Franchise Ranking

Welp, went from Horror history to modern horror. Today i decided to finish off the Evil Dead franchise as it currently stands in movie format with the 2013 horror remake Evil Dead. This was another great movie in this franchise. It’s both different and similar to the original, which helps it stand on its own. Evil Dead was written and directed by Fede Alvarez and stars Jane Levy as Mia, Shiloh Fernandez as David, Jessica Lucas as Olivia, Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric, and Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie. This movie takes a similar premise in that its about a  group of five friends going to a cabin in the woods, that was used as a place for the study of a demonic book of the dead that unleashes an evil force upon the group. This is the main plot line of the movie, where it differs from the original movie is in the characters and their motivations. They are not here for a vacation at a random cabin they heard about from someone, but they are here for a specific reason. They are here to help their friend and sister Mia quit drugs cold turkey. I really enjoy having this plot line here as it creates more personal stakes for the characters, it gives them a reason to be there and why when the supernatural stuff starts happening they don’t believe right away. It also really helps with the characters, in that they all have a stake in what happens here. There are all these interpersonal relationships here that didn’t really happen in the original that help this movie build the tension and the horror. We are able to care about these characters more. Another major change this movie had is the enemy. They decided to create a new book and a new demonic entity to haunt and hunt the characters. I do like how the book lays it all out for the people, it gives a reason to keep reading the book to keep it a part of the plot of the movie. It helps the flesh out the lore of this story and this demon. The entity, or the taker of souls as it’s called in this movie, is an interesting baddie. It has more agency and motivation than just having the characters join them. The soul taker also has  more of a voice in the movie and has less weird moments. I find it interesting that this enemy has to physically enter someone to possess them in some way. Mia through that woods scene, Olivia through the vomit, Natalie through the bite and Eric probably as a last resort. I also like the changes to the way the possessed act in this movie in comparison to the way they do in earlier evil dead movies. They’re strong, but not as resilient and only possess a person at a time. 

The characters in this movie are all great in their own ways. They all have great motivations for being there and for acting the way they do in this movie. Mia is a pretty stand out character in this. She has gone through a lot in her life and goes through some major changes through this movie. Her story makes me feel like they used this experience as a way to have a metaphor for the struggle for sobriety. Her possession can be seen as the addicted side of her, and her becoming better in the end can be seen as her overcoming those urges. To be fair though the movie does kind of spell this out with her withdrawals coming right before her possession. Jane Levy is incredible as Mia, playing all sides to her amazingly. It helps that she probably gets the most to do in this movie in terms of acting since she also gets to play being possessed which was probably pretty fun to do. Her brother David is also a good character. He is someone who avoids the bad stuff, tends to run away and feels a lot of guilt for being that way. He wants to make right with his sister, to help her even though he hasn’t been there for years. He goes through the biggest character arc in the movie, growing to no longer taking the easy way. Learning to be there for the people that need it. Shiloh Fernandez is great in the role, carrying the weight of the guilt that the character feels. Olivia is an ok character, she kinda gets the short end of the stick as she’s not around for as long as the other characters. She’s a nurse trying to help her friend out of her situation, and is tired of constantly trying and her almost permanently dying from a previous attempt. Jessica Luca does pretty well for what she is given, though she doesn’t get to do a lot of the cool stuff the others get to do. Natalie is another ok character, she also doesn’t get to do much but does get some early stuff. Elizabeth Blackmore is also great in the role, helps she gets to do some of the more gnarly stuff in the movie. Finally we have the guy who started it all, Eric. He’s an interesting character, but also one of the more infuriating ones. He’s the one who read from the book with warnings on all the pages. In modern horror movie terms he would be the prick character. He’s the  closest to being a human antagonist and waits until like 2 people, including his girlfriend, have been affected to say anything. This movie kinda feels like its doing karma to him for being too curious for his own right. A lot of the bad stuff happens to him, and he probably suffers some of the most before he goes. Also Its funny how he started it and he was the one to fulfill it at the end. Lou Taylor Pucci is great in the role as well, though you can tell he probably had an uncomfortable time on set with all the stuff the character goes through.

This movie looks amazing, the cinematography and lighting all look great. The effects are all incredible. Much higher budget means more gnarly and graphic gore. Some real intense and crazy moments that make you wince a bit. Very well done and very brutal stuff. The final battle is a stand-out with some brutal and great effects, the blood rain is great and the effect of the demon sinking into the ground back to hell is great as well. The music is ok, pretty standard for a modern horror movie and I do enjoy the bigger moments of the score. The editing and pacing are well done and fit the speed of the movie. The set and props all look great and the Naturom Demonto, the new book of the dead, looks great as well. 

I do have a few issues with the film though. The bigger budget makes everything look great, but it makes it feel kinda generic. Its a good movie but the bigger problem with it is that it feels like a modern horror movie. In everything like tropes, the use of jump scares and everything. It doesn’t feel as unique or interesting as the original movies. The jump scares can be seen coming a mile away, the possessed feel more like traditional movie possessions and kind of take the movie down for me. The possessed feel like they can be from any possession movie, and don’t have that unique mental messing that the other movies have. They play more on the direct emotional connections of the characters and say stuff you can hear in other possession movies. The entity is a more traditional demon from hell and doesn’t have the strength o the mandarin demon of the other movies. Sure it makes it more real and emotional, but loses the charm of the other movies.

Over-all though this is a great movie. A worthy remake with some in tense gore. If you like modern horror this is right up your ally. I give it Two-Thumbs up!!!

Evil Dead is now finished in movie form for me, I guess I might as well rank where I see them. I do feel like this is the perfect franchise for this time of year as every movie has something for everyone. The good thing about the nature of the movies almost being mini-reboots between them all you don’t have to watch them all to get it. The Evil Dead is great for people who love classic horror and a little over-the-topness in their movies. Evil Dead II is great for people that want more comedy with their horror, and love more over-the-top style gore in their movies. Army of Darkness is great for people who want something not scary, that’s a bit more family friendly, and has more comedy in it. Evil Dead (2013) is great for people that love more modern intense horror with brutal gore. It is hard to rank these movies as they all have their merits and would be better to rank them by category. But if I have to rank them by what I liked more, than I’ll have to go like this. 

  1. Evil Dead II
  2. Army of Darkness
  3. The Evil Dead
  4. Evil Dead (2013)

Why these rankings, to me these are the rankings that I had the most fun with and that probably have the most rewatchability. Evil Dead II is a movie I want to rewatch with moments I want to rewatch and find it would be a great watch with friends. Army of Darkness is a ton of fun and has some great slapstick moments that never fail to make me laugh. The Evil Dead is a classic and is well worth a watch, but I don’t know if I’d rewatch it all or just skip to when the action happens. Evil Dead (2013) I don’t know if I have as much of a desire to rewatch, other than just maybe the finale. Over-all this is a great franchise that is well worth its legendary status.

Nosferatu (1922) Review 

Today we move on from the Evil Dead franchise and into a piece of not only horror history, but also the history of film itself. Today I decided to watch Nosferatu, one of the oldest horror movies out there and also one of the most iconic horror movies of all time. Nosferatu is a German Expressionist horror film directed by F.W. Murnau, and stars Max Schrek as Count Orlock. Nosferatu is an unlicensed adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. The filmmakers did change a few aspect of the film to avoid copyright issues as they didn’t have the rights to the novel. Some changed aspects are the names, the look of the titular vampire, his abilities, the setting, and the ending. The changes help set it a lot apart from the base material, as well as to keep it shorter to keep it within limitations of the time. The characters work for the movie and are effective in their roles. Performance wise we can’t judge the film from our modern views and understandings of acting. This is a silent movie from the 1920s, which means they were under a lot of limitations in the way they can communicate everything to the audience. Due to that, the acting is more like stage acting, in that they have to play the motions and emotions a lot bigger than modern film actors, or even sound actors from the next decade would. The one that does stand out though is Schrek as Count Orlock. He’s pretty understated and creepy in the role. This is an example where being a silent black&white film really helps the feeling of the film. Everything of it comes together to help create this sense of despair and creepiness that is terrifying in its own way. The use of him rising out of the coffin, or the stares he gives, or the use of shadows to show his affect on a person works incredibly to the tone of the film. Its also those moments where the expressionism of the film comes into play for me. Being that it’s a silent film we can’t really talk about the dialogue as they can only really be really important moments because they have to use it in title cards. There’s only a certain amount of title cards you can use before affecting the flow of the film. Especially when you have to balance the dialogue cards with the act cards and the narrator/journal cards that show up. Although those  can also be because of the issues with the nature of the age of the film. Its a silent film that is now 100 years old there was  a point in time where it was lost, and has lost parts of it. It’s been remastered and re-edited with new titles and new music, but it still has an effect on the film since it’s not the original stuff from the film. Over the years there have been a number of restorations of the film, each with different tinting, titles and music. The version I watched is, or was, it is supposedly leaving Shudder’s Prime Video channel on the 31st, from 2006. With the film now being in the public domain (even though it’s always kind of been treated that way) there’s probably going to be a lot more ways to watch it. Though those versions might also be copyrighted. I’m not actually sure though, as would a restoration be counted like a recording of a piece of music in the public domain. I’ll have to look into that. The music chosen for this version is ok, fits a lot of the scenes but can take you out a bit. Though that is an issue I’ve had with some other silent films having a score that doesn’t fit. The changes don’t exactly ruin it for me anyways, it’s just a thing you have to accept with watching these films.  Another thing you have to accept, is that these are not films that you can put on in the background. You have to pay attention and watch it to understand and get the full experience. Over-all this is a historically important film that is still worth watching. Whether for the historical aspect  of seeing life from 100 years ago, it’s impact on film history, or even because you just like watching silent movies. Its the origin of a lot of iconic and legendary imagery and it’s important to see the origin. Although it’s an ask to get people to watch it outside of a film studies context. Still though, I give it two-thumbs up !!