“Brawl in Cell Block 99” is the second feature from director S. Craig Zahler, the man behind “Bone Tomahawk,” the acclaimed horror western that sent critics buzzing. I, for one, didn’t enjoy the movie, so imagine my surprise when I tuned in to “Brawl in Cell Block 99,” a movie that is essentially a throwback to prison brawlers and a compelling drama. Not since “Raze” have I seen a movie so raw and vicious in its depiction of humanity. Vince Vaughn gives an enormous turn as Bradley, a man at the end of his rope who literally has to dive in to hell to save his wife and unborn child. And what’s surprising is not how far he goes, but how easy it is for a good man to sink in to hell so rapidly.
I was not at all a fan of the original “Batman” animated movie, as I felt it was somewhat unfocused. Thankfully “Batman vs. Two Face” not only gets the idea more about the Batman series, but uses Two Face quite cleverly. As most fans know, the original Adam West Batman show wanted Clint Eastwood to play Two Face, but deemed the character too disturbing for viewers. Producers for this animated movie go back to re-cast Two Face for their show, but bring aboard another television icon to play the villain, William Shatner. Shatner is perfect for the role of the duplicitous deviant ne’er dowell known as Two Face, and what makes the pot even sweeter is that he’s turned in to an allegory for homosexuality.
Charles Crichton’s “A Fish Called Wanda” is probably the last bit of Monty Python cinema we’ve ever gotten, and it embodies much of the same lunacy of the comedy troupe while also standing alone as one of the funniest movies ever made. “A Fish Called Wanda” is a zany and often raucous comedy that teams a slew of brilliant actors together for a unique, film that mixes sub-genres quite well and never loses sight of its comic themes, and Python-esque humor that borders on absurd without ever being ridiculous.
I love John Landis, and I love that he at least tries to do something new whenever approaching the horror genre. No one else would try to bring together the mafia movie with the vampire movie. And while “Innocent Blood” stumbles in to a messy, dull, and silly horror comedy gangster picture, Landis is at least courageous enough to try to see where it’ll all take him. “Innocent Blood” suffers mainly from being so self congratulatory, to where Landis almost seems to be patting himself on the back at times. There are myriad scenes of characters in the movie watching classic horror movies on television, which is distracting considering the movie is set in Pittsburgh during the winter.
I’m surprised since it usually takes two or three sequels before a movie series turns in to a spoof of itself. It only took “Wishmaster” one sequel before it basically becomes a parody of the first film’s premise. Even Andrew Divoff, who was menacing in the first film, mugs for the camera delivering dialogue in over the top inflections sounding a lot like a sinister impression of George Takei, for some reason. “Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies” tries to hide the fact that it’s about the same narrative as the first film by making the djinn the main character. Except this time he’s in prison– for some reason!
A lot of what makes Addams Family such a fun series is the darkly comic and sinister tone and great sense of Goth that comes with it. It’s not often I say this but watching the rare 1977 movie is kind of a chore to sit through, and you can sense it’s not a good movie at all once you gander at the grainy video and lack of production quality. This attempt at a series revival is a “feature length” television movie that is supposed to set off the new Addams Family. For some reason this is a reboot with the entire cast from the original series all over again, right down to an adult Wednesday and Pugsley. “Halloween with the Addams Family” isn’t just abysmal, but it’s boring, and painfully silly.
Now that the gloves are off, FOX has managed to embrace the comic book universe tropes of “Gotham” and no longer have molded “Gotham” as an abysmal crime thriller. It’s now working as a somewhat new and radical take on the origin of Batman and Bruce Wayne’s molding in to the dark knight. The writers have taken even more liberties with the universe, centering so much more on Commissioner Gordon now and slowly sliding Bruce Wayne in to focus. The third seasons is a much lauded improvement over the former seasons for fans, as “Gotham” goes all out weird and eccentric, re-thinking the Batman universe and his origin in a new and often bold method.