Once upon a time TV movies were an event. They meant something. They were used sporadically during the year for various networks as a means of attracting big ratings. Once upon a time TV used TV movies as a means of competing with theaters, and ever since that’s become something of a lost medium. Even when I was a kid, the nineties were filled with TV movies both of the Stephen King multi-night variety, and occasional biblical epics, and or science fiction epics like “Taken,” or “Noah.” It was an interesting time. “Dead of Night” is one of the various TV movies that’s gone from TV movie to well acclaimed horror movie, and that might be because of Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson.
Written and directed by James Allen Smith, Haskell is a small part, or three small parts, of what feels like a much bigger story. The story deals with time and how it affects people, especially the man who can manipulate it and those around him. The story is one that is multi-layered and deals with plenty to become a full length feature easily. The way it’s written does make it feel like it’s a part of something much bigger and perhaps a proof of concept for a feature film. However, it does still work as a short where not everything is explained and the film works with some mysteries not explained.
Richard Kelly’s “Donnie Darko” has managed to become somewhat mythical among movie buffs, despite being so widely celebrated. It’s a movie with a fairly simplistic tale about time travel and paradoxes, but also has been interpreted by many people and injected with ideas that fit the general frame work of what “Donnie Darko” is. Some people call it a Christ allegory, some people call it a time travel movie, and Kelly himself has called the movie “Catcher in the Rye” if it were written by Phillip K. Dick. There is a surefire hint of author Phillip K. Dick in the way that our main character Donnie Darko is stuck in this hazy world of suburban conformity and alarming aggression. It seeps in to the desperation to be accepted and act accordingly by just about everyone.
I 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.
For the five people that loved Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” Disney decides to give us yet another take on Lewis Carroll’s tale, as Alice ventures in to Wonderland to travel through time. And literally tries out run it as she experiences the oncoming specter of adulthood and hard decisions rearing its ugly head at her. Stepping in for Burton this time is James Bobin, who manages to assemble virtually the entire cast from the first film to tell what is essentially a very convoluted and incredibly tedious movie. Truthfully, director Bobin’s film isn’t as bad as Burton’s first film, but Bobin spends so much time trying to Burtonize his sequel, he forgets to inject any kind of entertainment in to the nearly two hour drama adventure.
After storming the box office in its native Japan, “Yo-Kai Watch: The Movie” comes to America in a very limited run for hardcore fans of multimedia series. If you haven’t had enough of the TV series, the video games, and the toy line, fans will get to watch the big screen adventure of hero Nate, and his friends, the Yo-Kai. For those unaware, Yo-Kai are spirits in Japan that can be good or evil. Nate has a magical Yo-Kai watch that allows him to summon, catch, and catalogue the various Yo-Kai. And they’re a massive variety that stem from nature, the city, and literally anywhere else.
DC and Warner beat Marvel to the punch by comprising a superhero team made up of some of the most popular bit players from the DC television-verse, ending in a pretty mixed result. Season one of “Legends of Tomorrow” is a scattered and pretty crazy series of episodes that finds a rag tag group of DC’s heroes and villains coming together to stop the evil Vandal Savage. Along with the confusing time paradoxes, the writers and producers seem to be scrambling to also keep up with their long list of team members, conflicts, sub-plots and the like resulting in only a mediocre start from out of the gate. What happens when people like The Flash and Arrow are busy with their own enemies?
Watching “Josh Kirby” is like watching a lost series from the Action Pack stunt from television in 1995, where you almost expect it to air alongside “Hercules.” in truth, the series of six films unfolds like one short kids television adventure series, and even for a movie aimed at kids, it’s hard to catch up. There’s so much about this universe, that the movie opens with a five minute montage of scenes from the movie that’s somehow meant to keep us up to speed with what we haven’t seen yet. Really, it feels like filler and an odd place to place such a device when it’d be suited more appropriately for the second part of the film series.