“Previously on, X-Men…” was one of the trademark openings kids in the nineties heard every Saturday morning while watching the FOX Kids line up. It was during this time, in the midst of the networks third year (which also included “Batman: The Animated Series”), that FOX and Saban Entertainment teamed up to take on on yet another very popular and ambitious comic book property: Marvel Comics’ “X-Men.” The series came to be widely known by FOX and hardcore fans as “X-Men: The Animated Series.”
Twenty years ago, Studio Ghibli and the master Hayao Miyazaki opened my mind up to a new dimension of animation and storytelling that pretty much changed my life. It also inspired me to look toward telling bigger tales with richer characters, because Miyazaki is very much about rich characterization and brilliant metaphor. Much of his films revolve around the love of nature, the vastness of the open sky, and the effect humans can have on the environment and the world around us.
Mill Creek Entertainment is getting the jump on the massive library of blaxploitation action and crime thrillers with a six pack collection of some of the finest and most notorious. With many of the titles from the sub-genre being re-released, it’s only fitting that “Soul Team Six” could act as a discount basic course for the sub-genre that managed to convey a unique voice in the sixties and seventies.
After the downbeat ending of “The Avengers: Infinity War,” there stood some beacon of hope in the post credits scene where Nick Fury pressed a pager, signaling someone from outside Earth. That someone was Captain Marvel, Marvel Comics’ most dynamic and entertaining super heroine who is finally brought to the big screen. Not only does “Captain Marvel” stand on its own as a great, fun movie about empowerment and learning how to conjure up your inner strength, it sets the platform for Captain Marvel charging in to “Endgame,” and it also sets up the foundation for phase four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Although Universal eventually did follow up Tod Browning’s “Dracula” from 1931 with their own “Dracula’s Daughter” and “Son of Dracula,” the unofficial sequel has always been 1943’s “The Return of the Vampire.” When Columbia Pictures sough to revive Dracula for the big screener, Universal halted their efforts, prompting Columbia to basically deliver the follow up to Dracula but under a variety of different names and different circumstances. With “The Return of the Vampire” we have a great spiritual sequel that stars Lugosi returning as Dracula, but–not Dracula.
The idea of the cost of war has never been more thoughtfully and emotionally conveyed than in Isao Takahata’s “Grave of the Fireflies.” The 1988 animated film is still one of the most emotional and powerful films I’ve ever seen, it’s a film that completely transcends all ideas of storytelling, and destroys any stigma that animation is a child’s medium that is limited in scope and substances, especially when telling human stories.
The mix of war movies and horror movies have always been a natural combination, since they’re both manage to examine the dark sides of combat and humanity. It’s just a shame that there haven’t been many movies of the sub-genre that have been worth watching. Thankfully, while “Overlord” isn’t a complete masterpiece, it manages to come out in the end as a sleek and very clever amalgam of horror, fantasy, and war oriented action. It might also sweeten the pot that Avery’s horror war hybrid feels like a spiritual prequel to “Re-Animator.” Director Julius Avery approaches the idea of a horror movie set during World War II with great right balance of both genres, allowing “Overlord” to be a character piece first and then delve right in to the horrendous grue and human ugliness.
Somehow in the age of studios reviving remnants of the eighties and destroying them with convoluted mythology and narratives, “Predator” has been somewhat spared. Sure, it was involved with the “Alien” series for a bit, but it’s primarily stayed simplistic and true to the original film–unlike the “Terminator” and “Alien” movie series. “The Predator” is a movie that will likely divide fans of the original film and series as a whole; it’s filled with a ton of plot, an array of characters and is somewhat the antithesis of the original film’s more straight forward machismo based narrative. It also dares to expand on the mythos, should Shane Black be given another shot with a sequel.