“Juan of the Dead” is a silly and occasionally creepy zombie movie, but one that also dares to have a brain and display some very volatile commentary about the state of Cuba, and the inherent poverty that runs rampant. Though Juan lives in poverty and is mostly considered a loser by most in his neighborhood, he’s managed to carve out a comfortable existence for himself, and is something of a saving grace for neighbors. After Juan and his friend Lazaro come across a rotted corpse while fishing that attempts to bite them, they kill it and then decide never to talk about it again. What’s funny is that most of the situations may seem like a warning sign to most, but director Brugués comments on the state of Cuba through it.
Oddly enough out of the entire series in “Friday the 13th,” Part Six entitled “Jason Lives” is easily my favorite. It’s flawed, the production quality kind of sucks, and there are plot holes, but damn it, it’s fun! You have to love how the deputy drops a bunch of cartons of food without food in them. And Jason being re-animated like Frankenstein is on par with Freddy Krueger being re-animated by the urine of a stray dog. It’s just fun and creepy Jason Voorhees doing what he does best. And he even slays a credit card handling yuppy, to boot. Take that, mid-eighties America!
I’m always of the opinion that there really isn’t anything new that we can do with classic fairytales, anymore. We can twist them, and reboot them, but in the end they’re really not going to feel fresh or inventive. It’s like that episode of “The Simpsons” where Marge couldn’t afford a new dress for her country club meetings, so she just kept re-designing the same dress over and over. “Jack the Giant Slayer” is exactly like that. Sure, it posits the idea that we’re being given a new tale, but in reality it’s just another take on Jack and the Beanstalk. But this ain’t yo daddy’s Jack and the Beanstalk! No sir! This is the true story of Jack and the Giants before the actual tale was invented.
What’s sad about director Peter Travis and writer Alex Garland’s “Dredd” is that it’s the comic book movie of the character Judge Dredd, that fans probably deserve. And they may not get a sequel at all, since its release in 2012 did little to stir the franchise potential of it all. The ingredients are all here for “Dredd” to kick off a wonderful series. There are a people behind the movie who take the material seriously, there’s zero camp, star Karl Urban plays Judge Dredd as an anti-hero and not like a clown, there’s no comic relief, and Judge Dredd never once takes his helmet off during the movie. To compensate for his lack of face time, Urban scowls and emotes more zealously than his prior roles for Dredd, and it pays off without an inch of over the top dialogue delivery to be found.
Before the comic book movie revival of the twenty first century, the nineties didn’t have that many notable comic book movies to brag about. There was the awful “Tank Girl,” and the even worse “Barb Wire.” There was “Spawn,” and “Generation X,” and “Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD,” “STEEL,” and “Batman and Robin.” And like those aforementioned titles, Hollywood adapted these titles completely missing why readers actually flocked to them in the first place. Never content with laying waste to more underground comic books, Hollywood eventually got its hands on Judge Dredd and turned it in to a Hollywood schlock fest that was so desperate for an audience it cast Rob Schneider in a major role.
I don’t quite remember if in 1993, “Judgment Night” was a hit at the box office. If not, it surely deserved to be. Watching this movie is like a show, and it presents audiences with its ups and downs of cinematic action that you’ll remember for a while. Emilio Estevez is an unlikely hero, Denis Leary is a surprisingly horrifying villain, and Cuba Gooding Jr. with his constant gaping jaw, shivering flared nostrils, and quivering dialogue delivers a performance that’s so over the top it’s as if the director has a gun trained on him throughout the entire production.
I’m one of the very few people who actually enjoyed “Journey to the Center of the Earth” for what it was. It was nothing more than a ninety minute roller coaster ride with 3D specks that took the audience through some fun sights and sounds. “Journey 2” is basically the follow-up practicing that very routine all over again. It’s intent is to take you through the various dangers and awe inspiring wonders of the mysterious island before actually telling a story or exploring its characters. One thing it does have going for it, is that it makes reading and compiling information look sleek and exciting. If Dwayne Johnson is doing it, maybe the young audience this film appeals to, will.
It would be a rare treat if one of the many Batman rip-offs from one of the many foreign countries would actually get Batman right. I think my head would explode if I stumbled on to a Batman wannabe that channeled the tone of the Batman comic books. But, like every other Batman knock off, “James Batman” is a copyright infringing take off on the Adam West Batman series even including a variation of the iconic theme song. This version of Batman however is played as a buffoon by Filipino comedy star Dolphy who takes on the cape and cowl and makes Batman someone as immeasurably incompetent as Inspector Clouseau.