I’ve been a casual fan and observer of “Death Note” since the mid-aughts and have always been fascinated with its premise and the moral dilemmas it props up for the audience and its characters. It’s almost like “The Box” but with a hit of adrenaline and more complex ideas and philosophies. Director Adam Wingard adapts “Death Note” for a new audience, taking the material from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, and adding his own quirks, ideas, and dashes of dark comedy. What we get is a stark, entertaining horror movie that is very much a “Death Note” tale, but one that works in its own rhythm for a broader audience, without alienating the core fan base.
In 1995, “Jumanji” was the big blockbuster that managed to take America by storm for just a little while. Like everything in the nineties, that meant it deserved an animated series, prompting an unusual but pretty okay series in 1996. Originally premiering on the American channel UPN, I really don’t recall ever seeing this series. I never cared for “Jumanji” honestly (I prefer “Zathura,” personally), but the animated series does a good job capturing the spirit of the movie and even garners some unique animation style.
In the modern social and political climate, Patrick Rea’s “Justice Served” is going to play well and perhaps stir up some much needed controversy. While director Rea delivers his usual slick special effects and morbid tone, “Justice Served” is a brilliant commentary on society and how far we’ve come. Society is nothing but people exploiting people, exploiting people, we’re devils and devil’s advocates. Director Rea creates a backward world where the society we witness is shockingly not that different than what we’re seeing today.
Sheena fans are in for a treat when Mill Creek releases a collection of Sheena entertainment on DVD. Are there Sheena fans? Are there enough to warrant a big crowd surrounding the TV hoping for Sheena? In either case, for fans of pulp comics and just all around good old fashioned camp, the “Sheena: Queen of the Jungle Collection” packs a ton of content in to a small package, and spans a pretty hefty time period where Sheena was portrayed in various mediums beyond the comics. The 1984 movie “Sheena: Queen of the Jungle” is a camp and cult classic that’s managed to re-emerge over the years mainly for being such a weird and awful movie.
Director and writer Jeremiah Kipp creates a very stark and somewhat creepy tale of loss, grief, and child abuse with “Slapface,” a short that is destined to grab a lot of people’s attention. At only eight minutes, “Slapface” tells the story of a young boy still coming to terms with the loss of his mother. One day he ventures out deep in to the woods and calls to something in the shadows, goading it to come out of hiding and before long is greeted by a vicious, ugly ogre in tattered clothing and long hair that zealously grasps him to the point of making him lose consciousness.
“Mune: Guardian of the Moon” draws obvious influences from the likes of Studio Ghibli and Laika, and it’s a rather entertaining gem of an animated fantasy that I couldn’t help but enjoy with a wide smile. After “The Emoji Movie,” it’s very calming to know that there are still studios out there trying to deliver quality family animated entertainment. Dubbed over from the original French track, “Mune” translates well for domestic audiences, and I didn’t have a very tough time following what is a pretty nifty premise based around mysticism, nature, and the like. It also sports the classic hero’s journey trope, which isn’t so bad when it’s handled subtly.
Director Henry Corra’s exploration of what New York was in 1977 is quite fantastic and a surprisingly rare chronicle of the political and economic turmoil that ironically bred timeless art and music. As a born and bred Bronxite, 1977 is a mythical year, and a period of the decade that I’ve heard about very often from elder family members. In particular, the night of the infamous black out of New York, my mom and uncle were stuck in the edge of downtown Manhattan and had to brave their way home during the mass looting and rioting. “NY77” garners a very unique tone that balances out the inherent importance of the year, the depressing living conditions of the city, and the obvious fun that was had by most, who managed to endure poverty with laughs and creativity.
What I’m sure was going to set the platform for a Sony movie/ad universe following up with a The “Tic Tac Toe Movie,” The “Peek a Boo Movie,” and “The Jingle car keys in front our Faces Movie,” “The Emoji Movie” (aka “The Sony Press Kit”) is the height of laziness to the point where the script was probably written on a napkin at a some overpriced coffee shop in Beverly Hills. “The Emoji Movie” is not just bad, but it’s offensively boring, and tedious. It’s “Doogal” bad. It’s “A Shark Tale” bad. There are just so many bafflingly stupid and moronic moments in “The Emoji Movie,” that I can’t believe any actual writer put all of this down on page with sincerity or the goal of turning any of this in to a pop culture craze.