The entire “John Wick” series is something of a surprise seemingly out of nowhere. What might have been a weak vehicle from Keanu Reeves turned in to a pretty groundbreaking and exciting action series where Reeves is able to re-invent himself once again for a new generation. You wouldn’t figure Reeves would be believable as one of the deadliest assassins in the world, but he handles the role of John Wick so proficiently. Wick has become something much more than the titular anti-hero of his film series. He’s become the key in to a very unique cinematic universe.
Every once in a while, I’m glad to break out of the doom and gloom of DC Batman movies and watch something that is just fun and exciting. I admit that I missed all the waves of comic books in the last few years where Batman crossed paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so this movie was completely new to me. Suffice to say being a fan of both properties I was anxious to see how they would handle it, and thankfully DC/Warner and Nickelodeon delivers something for the fans and the general audience looking for a good pop culture crossover.
The fact that Dwayne Johnson became one of the biggest movie stars in the world is surprising considering he comes from a long line of wrestlers, and wrestlers don’t always translate in to big movie stars. Even people like Roddy Piper, may he rest in peace, never quite became a huge star despite his talent for playing assholes and loud mouths. We can talk all day about wrestlers that never made the big leap to acting, but Johnson earned his path, starting out in bit roles and mid-level action films like “The Rundown.” Sixteen years later, it’s an underrated gem in a large line of blockbusters from “The Rock.”
During the first half of “El Chicano” main character Diego is going through his brother’s belongings remembering him before he died, and flips through a couple of “Daredevil” comic books. That’s basically the head space that Director Ben Hernandez Bray is in during his crime thriller superhero movie “El Chicano.” Essentially, “El Chicano” is an urban superhero with heaps of potential to be the next big avenger against drug dealers and gangsters. A mix of “Daredevil,” “The Phantom,” and “Batman,” Ben Hernandez Bray’s action thriller is admirably ambitious and fun.
After years on the market being pretty hard to find Mill Creek Entertainment are making many of the films from director Andy Sidaris available on Blu-Ray. That may be a good thing to some, and an awful thing to others. I’m right there in the middle, as Andy Sidaris’ films are somewhat similar to Russ Meyer’s. They’re cheaply made, exploitative, and pretty much just softcore porn, all with the vaguest facsimiles of a narrative that unfolds somewhere. And there’s an escaped killer snake, for some reason.
Mason Stone has big plans for this evening out with his lady. Unfortunately, his past career has made him a target for a group of highly skilled killers who want him dead. Thankfully, he’s got better skills than they do.
Billy Blanks was one of the archetypal straight to video action stars of the nineties, he was one of those men with a ton of charisma and appeal who never quite found his niche in American cinema. He managed to be pushed in to the gallery of people like Jeff Speakman, Roddy Piper, and Don “The Dragon” Wilson (no disrespect to those gentlemen), but always deserved so much more. He was relegated to a ton of straight to video action and genre titles eventually becoming a fitness guru for his Tae Bo program. It’s a shame because Blanks does have a very good on screen presence and could have likely launched in to the blockbuster fold alongside contemporaries like Wesley Snipes.
I think one of the two reasons why Bruce Timm’s iteration of Batman continues to be such a celebrated staple of animation is that Timm didn’t just take Batman seriously, he took his audience seriously. Before then, if you wanted to see an animated version of Batman, you had to watch “The Super Friends,” “Scooby Doo Movies,” or the Filmation series. “Batman: The Animated Series” stands on its own in the annals of 90’s animation and is still considered the gold standard by fans, right down to the voice actors.