Justice League Dark (2017)

I’m still not sure why DC commits to creating new branches of their animated universe with only a little under eighty minutes to spare. I think it wouldn’t hurt if something like “Justice League Dark” was given two hours to tell its story. Instead it rushes through just about everything possible, from prologue, set up, character introductions, villain introduction, villain back story, and the final showdown. And there’s no guarantee we’ll see a sequel any time soon, since DC and Warner are planning a live action version. So unless you’re a hardcore DC fan, you won’t get to learn a lot about folks like the Demon Etrigan or Zatanna, since we speed right through their characterizations.

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Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

“If you must blink… do it now!”

It just serves to prove my theory that bad animated movies can be excused since they’re “for kids” is a cheap cop out meant to let crap pass by us. Animation studios are providing amazing kids fare, including Laika who seemingly snuck out of nowhere to deliver yet another stop motion children’s masterpiece. “Kubo and the Two Strings” is probably their great animated stop motion achievement to date. It’s an immense, epic, and heartfelt ode to the art of storytelling and the power of memories. It’s teeming with fantastic Asian folklore offering a very respectful view of its characters, and creates a wonderful hero who is capable of defeating evil not with his fists or guns, but with magic and his ability to think outside the box.

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Doctor Strange (2016)

doctorstrange-2016I freely admit that I was skeptical until the very end that comic book fans would ever get a good or respectable movie about “Doctor Strange.” Some comics just don’t translate at all to the cinematic medium. Thankfully, director Scott Derrickson proves me wrong, providing a cinematic adaptation of “Doctor Strange” that’s very much its own superhero tale while also embedding itself as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Marvel spirit is in full force here, but the movie does take the source material seriously while subtly injecting a sense of whimsy here and there. “Doctor Strange” comes during a good time where movie audiences like some magic with their adventures, and Doctor Strange is that kind of fantasy movie for comic book fans that they’ve always wanted.

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Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell (2016)

hulk-wheremonstersdwellYou can’t get anymore Halloween than teaming up Marvel’s monstrous Hulk alongside the Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange. On Halloween Night, demons begin wreaking havoc in New York City, prompting Doctor Strange to do everything he can to slay them and bring them in to his holding cell in his temple. Thankfully he calls upon the Incredible Hulk to help him, and Hulk is more than happy to oblige in stomping some demons. Little does Hulk know that the demons are manifestations of human victims that are being held hostage by the villainous Nightmare who has kept them held in their own dream plains. Strange ventures in to the dream dimension to save Bruce Banner when Nightmare begins using the Hulk to hurt Strange.

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Dr. Strange (1978) (DVD)

drstrangeThe 1978 TV movie “Dr. Strange” is one of the many failed pilots for a potential series based on a Marvel comic. This is yet another of the many seventies pilot movies that didn’t just misunderstand the source material, but didn’t have enough of a budget to realize the concept of its characters. Dr. Strange is a man who battles demons and monsters, and uses his will to use magic. “Dr. Strange” looks like a supernatural version of “Quincy M.E,” following a Dr. Stephen Strange as he focuses his efforts on troubled patients in his hospital while accidentally entering in to the magical arts. The movie even goes so far as setting up the entire series with the beautiful Jessica Walter as the series’ primary antagonist, but the storyline is a big hint at a sequel that would never come. It’s probably a good thing since the pilot movie is ninety minutes and we only get to see Dr. Strange in full garb in the final half hour.

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All Hallows’ Eve (2016)

all-hallows-eve“All Hallow’s Eve” is the fiftieth movie involving Halloween in the last five years named “All Hallow’s Eve” but this time it’s more of a low budget Disney-lite family film. Its Harry Potter meets “Halloweentown” in one of the more painfully derivative and hokey attempts to build a franchise around a teen witch in a long time. It’s not to say “All Hallow’s Eve” is terrible, but it’s a movie that has way too many ideas and not enough of a budget or script to help realize them. So characters spend a lot of time sitting around and explaining things, rather than allowing us to bask in the awe of magic and fantasy. In “All Hallow’s Eve,” Lexi Giovagnoli plays Eve Hallow. No seriously.

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Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

ernestscaredstupidIt’s really hard to ignore the charm of Ernest and his Halloween adventure. “Ernest Scared Stupid” most definitely has a lot of nostalgic value and sentimental value, but it’s also a very good kids’ horror movie where Ernest battles a bunch of trolls. Ernest and Jim Varney has just always had a good chemistry and here it’s on full display when trolls are unleashed during Halloween. Here, Varney plays Ernest as a garbage collector in a Missouri town. Hundreds of years before a troll that used magic to turn kids in to wooden dolls was locked in a tree and kept dormant. Ernest helps his three friends Kenny Binder, Elizabeth and Joey construct their own tree house which they use as a means of entertainment and warding off the local bullies.

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Dragon Wars: D-War (2007)

d-warShim Hyung-rae’s action film is a great concept with many possibilities that is never realized in to a watchable movie. While it’s not the worst movie of 2007, it’s an ill conceived film better suited for more forgiving Kaiju buffs. Shim Hyung-rae’s “D-War” is a confusing, poorly written, convoluted mess that only exists to host average CGI monsters, all of which are the actual stars here. Shim Hyung-rae’s film seems much better suited for cable, as its jumbled storyline tends to snuff out any momentum of action or suspense; it does sport one of the most droning prologues in cinema history, after all. “D-War” tends to fall in to repetition as a sloppy bit of fantasy filmmaking that it can never really decide what story it wants to tell. This meandering narrative does nothing but foreshadow future events, and the almost endless flashbacks hoping to bind the story into coherence fail and collapse in on themselves.

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