AT HOME WITH MONSTERS – Guillermo Del Toro’s traveling exhibition of personal memorabilia is a treat for horror buffs.

For those who don’t know, Mexican writer/director Guillermo Del Toro isn’t just active in the horror and fantasy genres, he’s also a fan of them like you and me, and has spent years assembling an enviable collection of props, personal drawing, note, and sketches, and other assorted memorabilia, at his home in the LA burbs, which he calls “Bleak House”.  The exhibition is scheduled to only make three stops in the US, before heading to Mexico for the final setup.  Here I’m fortunate to live in the Minneapolis/St Paul, where the exhibition is on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts until the end of May, and went to see it last Friday with my wife and daughter.  Del Toro is a real hit and miss director for me.  Of all his work, the only movies of his I’ve truly loved are The Devil’s Backbone, and Pan’s Labyrinth.  His Hollywood movies, such as the Hellboy movies, and Pacific Rim leave me utterly cold.  A professed fan of H.P. Lovecraft (my own personal idol when it comes to writing), he’s long expressed a desire to film an adaptation of arguably Lovecraft’s greatest work, At The Mountains Of Madness – a project that had, at one point, Tom Cruise attached to star.  I still hope Del Toro can get it made – he may be the only name filmmaker out there who can do justice to the material.

Continue reading “AT HOME WITH MONSTERS – Guillermo Del Toro’s traveling exhibition of personal memorabilia is a treat for horror buffs.”

Movie Review: KONG: SKULL ISLAND – mostly enjoyable franchise reboot, but lack of strong characters don’t do the fantastic visuals any favours

I don’t know exactly how old I was when I saw the original King Kong, but I couldn’t have been any older than five.  I recall with reasonable vividness sitting in front of our black and white TV in the Springburn neighbourhood of Glasgow, Scotland, absolutely enthralled by the sheer spectacle, the charm, of the 1933 production that heralded a new era of moviemaking.  There is likely nobody in the western world who doesn’t know King Kong – even if they have never seen the original, Kong exists among the pantheon of famous movie monsters, along with Godzilla, Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, Frankenstein, and Dracula, to name a few.  Kong has a place in our hearts because he reminds us as ourselves.  Possessed of a humanistic sense of justice and primal strength, Kong represents us – stripped of the daily bullshit and phoniness that we all succumb to, Kong is us laid bare, and mostly shat on by the kind of assholes we have to deal with now and then.  Too high and mighty an opinion for you?  Not a problem – Kong also works as a spectacle monster movie, even when the scripts are no good, the nature of the beast guarantees battles between colossal creatures to feed the eyes.

Continue reading “Movie Review: KONG: SKULL ISLAND – mostly enjoyable franchise reboot, but lack of strong characters don’t do the fantastic visuals any favours”

Movie Review: A MONSTER CALLS – beautiful, poignant modern fable that left me in tears. A must-see.

Image result for a monster calls poster

I hadn’t even heard of A Monster Calls until a few weeks ago, and then only had some interest because it starred Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), whom I like.  Had no idea what the story was about (it’s adapted by Patrick Ness, from his novel of the same name), or if it was live action or animated.  The movie poster is vague to say the least, as you can see.  I put it on the back burner.  Last week I read a short blurb that gave off an Iron Giant kind of vibe, and that kind of tied into the poster.  Not like I had a ton of enthusiasm, but whatever was there ebbed away a little.  Listen, not like I don’t love The Iron Giant like everyone else, but I don’t need to see a knock off.  Movie came, movies went, and last night while home alone I decided to watch a double bill.  The second movie was The Eyes Of My Mother, first was A Monster Calls.  And frankly, it blew me away.

Continue reading “Movie Review: A MONSTER CALLS – beautiful, poignant modern fable that left me in tears. A must-see.”

Graphic Fiction Review: HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE THREE KINGDOMS – unique and mostly enjoyable take on the works of HP Lovecraft

arcana-howard-front

It’s always interesting comparing an adaptation to source material.  Conventional wisdom favours the original over the adapted work, but of course that isn’t always the case.  When it comes to movies from books, I can say that I prefer Kubrick’s The Shining to King’s, for example, but overall the richer experience is provided by the original.  Cinematic versions can omit or combine characters and situations, sometimes adding new ones for the sake of brevity, and with the right talent, these changes can work for the better – not not always, and not often.  A couple of weeks ago, I watched the animated children’s movie Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom, and wrote a fair, but deservedly negative, review.  I won’t recap the failings, but I did promise to seek out the original work.  The movie is an adaptation of the first of three comic book stories, each published in three issues by Canadian publishing company Arcana Studio, and created and written by Bruce Brown, with art by Renzo Podesta (The Frozen Kingdom) and Thomas Boatwright (The Undersea Kingdom, The Kingdom of Madness).

Continue reading “Graphic Fiction Review: HOWARD LOVECRAFT AND THE THREE KINGDOMS – unique and mostly enjoyable take on the works of HP Lovecraft”

Movie Review: I ORIGINS – nice performance by Michael Pitt, but the movie lacks the courage of its conviction.

i-origins-movie-review

There’s a somewhat interesting story behind I Origins – the movie itself, not necessarily the movie’s story.  Mike Cahill, writer and director, unable to resolve story issues during development phase of his follow up movie to Another Earth, essentially scrapped the draft and turned to writing, instead, an origin story for his original concept.  Hoping it would allow him to address the story issues of the first draft, I Origins was produced as a prequel to the main concept, which was set up at Fox Searchlight sometime in late 2015.

Continue reading “Movie Review: I ORIGINS – nice performance by Michael Pitt, but the movie lacks the courage of its conviction.”

Movie Review: WARCRAFT – a lame mashup of the PC game and Lord of the Rings only uses the worst of both worlds.

Warcraft

I approached Warcraft with a bit of dubiousness, I admit.  The trailers looked silly and derivative, I’ve never played the game, and the history of cinematic adaptations of videogames (those I’ve seen) ranges from ho-hum to absolute garbage.  While doing some research for this review I had a look at just how many of them there have been, and I was stunned by how many there are and the fact I had heard of most, seen some of them.  Must have crept up on me over the years.  Of those I have seen, both Tomb Raiders – while not all that good – are on the higher end of that spectrum, while the best-forgotten travesty of Super Mario Brothers anchors that chain at the deep end.

Continue reading “Movie Review: WARCRAFT – a lame mashup of the PC game and Lord of the Rings only uses the worst of both worlds.”