Movie Review: BRIGHT – Netflix’s first “big” original movie is fully loaded … with missed potential

I’m not a fan of Will Smith, and yeah, it’s partly because of his role as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but mostly because he starred in two cinematic travesties that, inexplicably, have a fan base: I, Robot, and I Am Legend.  In both cases, these movies were adaptations of capital L Legendary works of genre fiction and were spectacularly awful in their execution.  I was never a huge fan of Asimov’s ponderous prose, but Richard Matheson’s seminal vampire novel remains a great favourite of mine.  Fresh Prince and the Zombie Vampires was the worst of the three adaptations – maybe someone will eventually do it right.

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Movie Review: THE SHAPE OF WATER – Del Toro’s romantic fantasy does nothing to blow the dust off a tired, old story.

The name Guillermo Del Toro on a movie fills me with dread.  Unfortunately, not in the way I’d like it to.  Everything about the guy I love – his devotion to horror and sci fi, his adoration of HP Lovecraft matches my own, and he has a collection of props I would kill for.  His traveling exhibit At Home With Monsters was pretty amazing – I took some pics when I went to see it earlier this year, and posted them here.   So yeah, I love Del Toro – unfortunately I think most of his movies stink.

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Movie Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE – DC’s answer to the Marvel juggernaut is phenomenal only for the sheer lack of quality.

I finally saw Justice League last night – on the backs of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Wonder Woman, I can’t say I had a lot of interest in seeing it on opening weekend, and from its relatively disappointing opening domestic gross ($90 million), I wasn’t alone in putting it off.  As it turned out, it was the worst possible night to see it: winter finally roared into the Twin Cities, and driving back to my new home was a tense nightmare, thanks to 25 feet visibility and an icy, sleety mess.  Serves you right, the elements seemed to say, serves you right

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Movie Review: THE DARK TOWER – you don’t have to be a King fan to be offended by this horrendous adaptation or McConaughey’s insultingly bad performance.

I have no personal stake in The Dark Tower, I should say.  After trying numerous attempts to read The Gunslinger, book 1 of Stephen King’s magnum opus, I finally threw my hands up in defeat and gave up.  Not that I didn’t like King’s work at the time – quite the opposite, in fact.  In the mid to late 80s, I was a yuge fan of his work, and read his stuff voraciously, sometimes palpably impatient waiting for the books to finally be released in Scotland.  I still consider Pet Sematary one of my all time favourite books.  But when I tried to read The Dark Tower, it just didn’t feel like a Stephen King book.  A little later, me and Uncle Stevie just kind of drifted apart.  His work in the early 90s left me feeling unimpressed, so I stopped reading., and never got around to thinking of picking up the series again.

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Movie Review: KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD – Guy Ritchie delivers a time-wasting, lightweight, and mostly annoying take on the Arthur legend

I went into King Arthur: Legend of the Sword fully prepared: while I hadn’t read any reviews, I could only have avoided the negative buzz on this movie by living on Mars, but sometimes that can work in a movie’s favour, especially when it’s rolled out on Blu Ray and VOD.  Some movies draw a lot of vituperation out of the wrong kind of people, mostly undeserved, and when you actually get around to watching the movie yourself, you find yourself asking what all the hate was for.  Unfortunately, a bad movie is just a bad movie.  Last week, I watched The Book of Henry, this week, it was Guy Ritchie’s similarly low-trending effort.

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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.

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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.

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