My only hope is that when DC’s live action debut of “Wonder Woman” finally arrives, that they’ve taken notes from Bruce Timm and Lauren Montgomery’s animated depictions, because they remain some of the best iterations to date. DC and Warner have yet to churn out a cinematic masterpiece in the last five years, but they’ve done remarkably well in the animated department in the past. “Wonder Woman” is one of their crowning achievements as an exciting, action packed, and engaging look at the Amazonian warrior’s battle against her uncle, the god of war Ares.
I grew up during the second golden age of “Saturday Night Live,” and I admit that I never saw why so many people loved “Wayne’s World.” Even with the knowledge of what public access TV is years later, the sketch was always very one note to me. That said, we were lucky enough to get the feature film adaptation on VHS when it was released in stores, and it became an instant favorite. The movie itself was a hit, but “Wayne’s World” is a genuine childhood favorite mainly for breaking out of the single setting trappings and expanding the universe of Wayne and Garth. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey are back as the hosts of the public access TV show that celebrates all kinds of random humor and appreciation of hot women.
Miles Grissom wants to know what comes after death to help ease his crippling fear of it and other phobias. With the help of his mother, her go through tons of submissions to his ad in the newspaper offering $30,000 to whoever can prove to him that there is something after death. Written and directed by the team of Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland, they create a simple premise, fear of death, and work it into an appealing story with a lead character that is representative of many people with crippling fears or even anxiety. This character feels like a person some of the viewers might know, having issues and trying to overcome them. His mother is a by nagging and overbearing but she does feel like many people’s moms. She wants what is best for him and will stop at almost nothing to make sure he is not swindled in his search for the truth.
“The Wraith” is goofy nonsensical eighties fun and it’s a childhood favorite that hasn’t aged much at all. The mix of punk rock and Mad Max gear head aesthetic has worked in the favor of “The Wraith” for a long time, making it a really unusual oddity of the mid eighties that embraces its absurdity. It has a good time as a revenge thriller with a supernatural bent that uses cars as a means of inspiring some chills. Whenever our avenging angel or “Wraith” comes rolling up in his supernatural black hot rod, it’s a surefire indication that no one is going to come out of the experience alive. I’ll be the first to admit that not a lot of “The Wraith” makes too much sense.
Virginia and her daughter Rebeca have left behind husband and father respectively. When Rebeca is kidnapped, Virginia must play a disturbing and violent game to get her back. She must see how far she is ready to go to save her daughter. Written by Adrian Garcia Bogliano and Ramiro Garcia Bogliano, the film is directed by Daniel de la Vega. Together, they create more of a thriller with horror elements than a flat out horror film.
Boy it’s been a bad year for fantasy cinema in America. Time and time again fantasy films have failed for the most part, and “Warcraft” is one of those casualties. I admittedly have no experience with “Warcraft,” but for those unaware, it’s based on a massive multiplayer role playing game that’s become so popular it’s almost a way of life for most people. It’s a game so terrifyingly addictive, that a cousin of mine even pulled me aside once warning me not to play lest I be sucked in. Now that their Orc world has died, the orc shaman Gul’dan has used dark magic to open up a portal to the human realm of Azeroth.
Once a peaceful land ruled by man, the Orc army known as The Horde, now plan to populate the world and rule over it as their new home led by the noble Orc warrior Durotan. Teamed with a female half Orc named Garona, the human army of Azeroth plan to go to war with them, led by fierce warrior Lothar, their King Llane, and two wizards. Events spiral out of control though when Durotan begins rethinking the invasion and their leader Gul’dan, while Garona is torn between her loyalties to the noble humans and her people. While I’m still convinced video games just won’t translate in to a good movie, “Warcraft” is still a very good time and a nice bit of escapism.
It’s a mess narrative wise, and is painfully convoluted, but often times I found myself very entertained and intrigued by the conflict of the Orc breed struggling to fight for a new world against a human race. There’s also the themes of religious corruption embedded within the giant walking statues and graphic war scenes, which probably also helped enhance the experience. I won’t argue “Warcraft” is a masterpiece, since it tries and often fails to reach “Game of Thrones” levels of drama and intrigue. In the attempts to be just as adult in its character dynamic and ideas about xenophobia, and warfare, it becomes tough to follow.
The first half hour has a lot of information to disperse to the general broader audience, and I literally had to sit at attention to hopefully absorb what exposition the writers were trying to relay to people that have never been in to the digital world of Azeroth. Much to my surprise I cared about the characters and conflicts. I wanted to see sword wielding hero Lothar stop the impending Orc invasion, all the while uncovering the rising evil tide of his kingdom’s powerful mage. Director Duncan Jones splits the time of the film between the Orcs and humans and turns Durotan in to a very complex hero with his own ideas about what can be gained by invading Azeroth.
All the while Jones stages some fun battle sequences, including a showdown between Lothar and a murderous general in the climax. While not everyone’s performances are top notch, Travis Fimmel is great as Lothar, while Toby Kebbell does a bang up job with his motion capture performance as Durotan. It’s up in the air at the moment if “Warcraft” will continue in to a second part of its epic tale; I’m not ashamed to admit I had a good time, and should we be granted a follow up, I just may return to see how the humans win back Azeroth.
Director Matthew Ramirez Warren’s “We Like it Like That” is a masterpiece of musical cinema. It’s a long overdue exploration at the beginning and unfortunate ending of Latin Boogaloo, a musical hybrid that helped to shape a generation and has also lived on in the hearts of younger generations. It’s clear by Ramirez Warren’s enthusiastic direction and approach that he love Latin Boogaloo, and he instills within the subject a unique and bold energy that will educate eclectic music lovers on one of the major influences in modern latin influenced pop and hip hop. As a guy who grew up in the Bronx, I spent many parties sitting alongside relatives that grew up with Boogaloo, and it was always a guarantee that music would be played before the night was up.
Director Remington Smith’s “The Woods” is quite an accomplishment, mainly because it’s a film set in the middle of a snowy tundra implementing zero special effects. The centerpiece of “The Woods” is our character’s surroundings and how she has to adapt to the snowy wasteland of the woods. Apparently Smith and cinematographer Joshua Yates used mostly natural lighting for their film, resulting in a masterfully eerie and haunting short film set during a fight for survival. There’s so much conveyed in “The Woods” and yet there isn’t single word of dialogue spoken.