Hey everyone. Tom here, your DVD Critics Corner compadre. Please, remain seated.
Summer is almost upon us. I know this because My left knee throbs when summer is coming. My right knee throbs when there is cake nearby.
That, I don’t understand. But I do like cake.
Anyhoo, Summer means a great big load of blockbuster movies will be dumped on us between now and September, some will have superheroes, others will have bloodthirsty space aliens, and at least one will have the undeniable stench of Michael Bay.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on the big movies about to hit the multiplexes; reading all the movie websites and blogs, combing over ever trailer frame by frame, and picking the brains of my private nerd council (aka my friends) to bring you the very first DVD Critics Corner Summer Movie Preview and Spoiler Alert Special!
Let’s get started, shall we?
Please Note: My “spoilers” are for entertainment purposes only. They will not give away any important plot points. Would I do that to you?
Movie: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Release Date: March 25
Synopsis: With Metropolis in ruins, people are concerned that Superman (Henry Cavill) may not be the hero the world needs. Batman (Ben Affleck) thinks the Man of Steel needs to answer for his crimes. Let the battle begin!
Spoiler Alert! – After a long fight, Batman and Superman put aside their differences and team up with Wonder Woman for an important mission that if successful will save humanity as we know it – preventing the Baywatch movie from being made!
Movie: The Jungle Book
Release Date: April 15
Synopsis: A live action version of the Disney animated classic about a boy living in the jungle with his animal pals.
Spoiler Alert! – All the animals are real. The kid is CGI.
Movie: Captain America – Civil War
Release Date: May 6
Synopsis: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Captain America (Chris Evans) find themselves on opposing sides when the government wants to reign in The Avengers.
Spoiler Alert! – In the post credits flashback sequence, The Hulk bursts into tears when he’s told he won’t be in the movie.
Movie: The Angry Birds Movie
Release Date: May 20
Synopsis: The birds must defend their home against the evil pigs!
Spoiler Alert! – Ten minutes into the movie you will realize how many hours you wasted playing Angry Birds on your phone. It was a lot, wasn’t it?
Movie: X Men – Apocalypse
Release Date: May 27
Synopsis: The X Men must join together to defeat super mutant Apocalypse before he destroys the world.
Spoiler Alert! – Halfway through the movie, Mystique remembers that she’s Academy Award winning actress Jennifer freakin Lawrence and walks off the set.
Movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Release Date: June 3
Synopsis: The Turtles are back, and are facing a new enemy!
Spoiler Alert! – One of the Turtles screams Cowabunga! and a piece of you dies inside.
Movie: Independence Day – Resurgence
Release Date: June 24
Synopsis: Earth once again faces a huge invasion from outer space!
Spoiler Alert! – Will Smith is not in this movie. But good news – Jeff Goldblum is! So that’s kind of good I guess…
Release Date: July 15
Synopsis: An all new all women team fights ghosts in this remake/reboot!
Spoiler Alert! – In mid July the internet will collapse from all the angry comments from disgruntled Ghostbusters fans who don’t want any stupid ol’ girls in their Ghostbusters movies!
Movie: Star Trek Beyond
Release Date: July 22
Synopsis: The Enterprise crew is back for another adventure!
Spoiler Alert! – Since Simon Pegg (who plays Scotty) wrote the script for this one, Scotty will be called upon to save the day when big doofus Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) puts the crew in danger. AGAIN! And Scotty totally scores with Uhuru.
Movie: Jason Bourne
Release Date: July 29
Synopsis: Former superspy Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still on the run from – wait? is he still on the run? I thought he cleared his name in the last movie.. Or did he? You know what? I don’t care any more.
Spoiler Alert! – Someone playing a CIA official will shout “Find Jason Bourne,” every 12 minutes. Extra Spoiler Alert! – They won’t find him.
Movie: Suicide Squad
Release Date: August 5
Synopsis: The world’s most dangerous villains are recruited by the government for secret missions.
Spoiler Alert! – The internet will collapse again as disgruntled fans worldwide take to the comments section to whine about how Heath Ledger was a way better Joker than Jared Leto. By then I will have stopped giving a flying crap about anything and will curl up into a ball and weep until the Fall.
ENJOY THE BLOCKBUSTERS!!
Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, and Bryan Cranston
Plot: A bunch of horrifying creatures terrorize a city and the world is powerless to stop them! Wait, that’s the plot of Smurfs 2.
Rating: PG-13 for CG explosions and destruction of perfectly good real estate.
Godzilla is a gigantic lizard/dinosaur type creature who rises out of the ocean every once in a while to teach the children of Japan valuable lessons about friendship and love, and if time permitting, fight other monsters.
The original Godzilla films featured men in monster suits fighting on sets with miniaturized buildings that were stepped on and crushed while model planes on wires flew over their rubber heads, thus proving that early monster movies were really flipping fun to make.
In 1998 Godzilla was reborn as a fully computer generated monster in Roland Emmerich’s actioner Godzilla, unfortunately audiences didn’t warm up to this high tech addition to the franchise. Probably because the mighty Godzilla the king of the monsters was brought down by Matthew Broderick.
After a 16 year vacation the big green dinosaur we all know and love returned to the big screen earlier this year in a movie entitled (wait for it…) Godzilla. This modernized version doesn’t have rubber monster suits and hoards of Japanese extras running in terror. But is does have the guy from Breaking Bad, Kick-Ass from Kick-Ass, and the Olsen sister who can actually act.
So that’s a good thing. Right?
In 1999, a mining expedition in the Philippines unearth some huge dinosaur like creatures. One of them swims towards Japan where it causes a nuclear powerplant to overload killing lots of scientists and the wife of plant manager Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston, the guy from Breaking Bad). 15 years later Brody with the help of his Navy officer son Ford (the kid from Kick-Ass) return to the plant to find out what exactly happened and instead find a bunch of scientists from the top secret Project Monarch milling about. Before Brody can exclaim “I knew there was a conspiracy!” he’s killed when a giant creature explodes out of the ground and flies away, leaving Ford to be the lead actor for the rest of the movie.
Soon Ford, Project Monarch scientist Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and the United States Navy are racing across the globe to stop these giant creatures now dubbed MOTUS – yes there are two of them now as another one shows up and crushes the Vegas strip. I guess he couldn’t get Brittany Spears tickets.
Oh woe is us! If only there were a larger creature out there somewhere who could rise from the depths to battle these giant MOTUS and bring peace to the planet?
Godzilla turns into a battle royale as our title character steps into the ring against the two MOTUS who look like a praying mantis on a bad day. Unfortunately the battle takes place in San Francisco, which gets flattened in the process. But don’t worry, it’s just a computer generated San Francisco so stomp those buildings Godzilla! It’s not like all those people are real or anything!
Godzilla is a well made update of the classic monster movies many of us watched on a Saturday afternoon when we were kids. I’m all for a good updating of a classic film, but I miss the poorly dubbed dialogue andlow budget cheesiness that made those movies so special.
The miniature buildings, tiny pyrotechnics, and radio controlled tanks are gone. And so is the fun.
Sometimes the new isn’t as appealing as the old.
PACIFIC RIM (2013) Director: Guillermo del Toro Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, and Ron Perlman Rating: PG-13 for big robots punching big monsters and lots of stuff getting stepped on.
In a review I posted a while back I shared a detailed list of all the special things I look for in a movie that make it worthy of this blog. Creating this list was a near impossible task that took me years to put together and cost me every penny of my family’s fortune, plus I had to kill several cold blooded ninja assassins who wanted to discover the secrets of my list.
Of course the ninjas could have just read my blog where the list was out in the open for everyone to read. If they had only subscribed to my blog, they’d still be alive doing ninja assassin stuff today.
Anyhoo, here are the things that make a movie worthy of a review here on DVD Critics Corner:
1. A gratuitous amount of violence which includes any or all of the following: gun play, sword play, close quarter hand to hand combat, kung fu fighting, and lots and lots of kicking.
2. Space aliens, other worldly monsters, scary zombies, cool robots, or at the very least Ron Perlman.
3. Plenty of explosions which destroy property and/or motor vehicles.
4. A complete lack of Katherine Heigl.
Hold onto your hats folks because I have found a movie that has scored a perfect 100% on the DVD Critics Corner Movie Worthiness Checklist (pat. pend.).
It’s Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s action epic tribute to the Japanese monster movies we all know and love!
It’s got monsters! It’s got robots! It’s got destruction! It has Ron Perlman! It has absolutely no Katherine Heigl!
A movie that satisfies all my prerequisites at this special time of year? It’s a Christmas miracle!
Here is a bunch of things that happen in the movie:
In the not too distant future, Earth is just fine until a bunch of giant monsters begin attacking it! These towering creatures (known as Kaijus) are coming from another dimension through a portal in the Pacific Ocean and are determined to wipe out all the people; even the really nice ones who say please and thank you.
When conventional weapons fail to slow down the Kaiju attacks, the governments of the Pacific Rim nations decide the best way to fight these monsters is with equally giant robots with supercool weapons, because the governments of the Pacific Rim nations are run by nine year old boys.
The giant robots (named Jaegers) battle the Kaijus for the survival of Earth, but as the the years go by the Kaijus get bigger and stronger and their attacks become more frequent, leaving the humans with little hope for survival and a huge stack of giant robot repair bills.
The last four super Jaeger bots gather in Hong Kong where for some reason it always rains to end the war by destroying the portal and sending those monsters back to the computer generated heck they came from!
Commander Pentacost (Idris Elba) recruits Raleigh (a well chiseled Charlie Hunnam) as his ace in the hole. A former Jaeger pilot who’s been out of the war for a while he may be the maverick who has the right stuff to ride into the danger zone and other movie cliches.
But Raleigh needs a co-pilot, since the robots need two people to work all of the controls and two brains that must be electronically linked to handle all of the complex computer stuff. Raleigh meets with several candidates who are physically and mentally up for the challenge, and settles on Moko (Rinko Kikuchi), an untested warrior who is loaded with determination, courage…
There’a plenty of action and excitement in Pacific Rim as huge robots punch huge monsters then huge huge weapons to slice and dice the monsters into tiny but still huge pieces. As I said before the movie is reminiscent of those 60’s Japanese monster movies featuring Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, and Mothra: The Big Stupid Moth that Nobody Liked. But instead of men in rubber suits smashing scale model buildings and fighter jets, millions of computer guys created every monster, robot, ocean, city, and explosion in Pacific Rim.
Which is what they do nowadays, and that’s okay I guess. Personally, I miss all the cool model buildings getting smashed and stepped on with the tiny explosions and the model jets flying around on clearly visible wires. What I’m trying to say is I like my special effects like I like my women; cheap and from the 1960s.
Pacific Rim is a great deal of fun with the fighting robots, evil monsters, a delightful cameo by everyone’s favorite thespian Ron Perlman, and the destruction of major (though computer generated) cities and property.
And no Katherine Heigl.
Best Christmas gift EVER.
This month DVD Critics Corner turns the spotlight on movies that you may not have heard of. Cinematic gems that never made it to a theater near you. Films that have somehow slipped through the cracks, only to wind up in the mysterious phantom zone that is the instant queue of our Netflix account.
Title: Werewolf: The Beast Among Us (2012)
Rating: Unrated, but contains lots of gory dead body stuff and icky GG blood splattering everywhere.
Cast: Ed Quinn, Steven Bauer, Nia Peeples, Steven Rea, Guy Wilson, miscellaneous Romanians
Director: Louis Morneau
Genres: Horror, Werewolves, Pre-20th Century Period Pieces
This Movie is (according to Netflix): Violent, Exciting, Scary
Netflix Synopsis: “When a mysterious creature terrorizes a village by moonlight, a local young man joins a team of werewolf hunters to bring it down. But as the villagers are turned into vicious beasts, he suspects that his foe is someone closer than anyone thinks.”
The Dealy: The movie opens with a werewolf attacking a farmhouse and murdering a man, his wife, and his horse, which is pretty horrifying because in the 1800’s wives were everywhere, but a good horse was really hard to find. A little boy survives, and he grows up to be a man named Charles (Ed Quinn) who hunts werewolves and says movie cowboy things like “I reckon” a lot.
Charles has assembled a crack team of werewolf killers to aide him in his werewolf killing quest:
Hyde (Steven Bauer), the one eyed tough guy/comic relief who would have been played by Ron Perlman if this movie had a bigger budget.
Stefan (Adam Croasdell), an Englishman who throws knives at werewolves. Showoff.
Kazia (Ana Ularu), who fills out the “we need a hot girl on the team” prerequisite nicely.
Fang (Florin Piersic Jr.) He attacks werewolves with a set of silver teeth he puts in his mouth during battle. I wanna party with that dude.
Together, they roam around the Romanian/American countryside ridding the world of werewolves, who are nothing like the hip, smartly dressed werewolves that Warren Zevon has been singing about on classic rock radio all these years.
Charles and company arrive at a village that’s been under attack by a werewolf who is chowing down on the townspeople, leaving the local Doctor (Steven Rea) and his young apprentice Daniel (Guy Wilson) very little to do except pile up the corpses in a barn because burying dead bodies wasn’t invented yet or something.
Daniel wants to help the werewolf hunters kill the beast that’s been eating the towns drunks and ne’er do wells, but since he’s young and looks like he bathes on a regular basis, they want nothing to do with him. But when Charles notices this particular werewolf displays above average intelligence for a big dumb werewolf (running away from the guys with guns is apparently something werewolves don’t normally do), he decides to let young Daniel help them with the hunt. Daniel’s Mom Vadoma (Nia Peeples) hates that her son would rather hunt werewolves than go off to college to become a doctor, but she’s a Mom and you know how they worry.
Can Charles and his team learn the secret behind the werewolf before it kills more Romanian extras – I mean, 19th century Americans?
Werewolf: The Beast Among Us isn’t particularly scary or exciting, and the CG werewolf looks like every other CG werewolf we’ve seen in horror movies of late. But the movie answered an important question that’s been gnawing at my soul for quite some time: What has Nia Peeples been doing lately?
And now I know. My soul is at rest.
In this continuing series, DVD Critics Corner looks at some really big things featured in some great (and not so great) movies. Once again, your opinion on what is “big” will probably differ, so feel free to make your own list and write about it in your blog. Copycat.
Part Two – All Creatures Great and Big!
The creatures that walk the earth and swim the sea are a wonder to behold. Some are strange and fearsome, some are noble and majestic, and some are absolutely delicious when served medium rare with a baked potato and your choice of soup or salad. But when some mad scientist starts messing with growth formulas or toxic waste is added to the local water supply, small things become big, and before you know it people are now part of an all you can eat salad bar that has those really tasty garlic croutons.
What I’m trying to say is, I skipped lunch.
So without further adieu, here are some little things that became big things thanks to the magic of movies!
As Seen in: Empire of the Ants (1977)
Made Big By: Illegally dumped toxic waste
The Deal: Remember when you were a kid and you poured lemonade on every anthill in your yard? The ants remember. Oh they remember. Long story short, now they’re big and they hate you! When Joan Collins and and a cast of 70’s movie and TV stars get lost in a swamp, they find themselves up against a terror unlike anything Florida has ever seen! Until the Tampa Bay Rays showed up.
Defeated By: Fire. Lucky for the survivors Joan Collins had that huge magnifying glass in her purse!
As Seen In: Mysterious Island (1961)
Made Big By: Captain Nemo’s bizarre experiments
The Deal: Mmmmm. The castaways who wash up on the mysterious island from the movie’s title don’t know how good they have it! Tasty, succulent crabs running around the beach – who could ask for anything more? Granted, the crabs are the size of a Winnebego, but with the right weapons and a few beers in you, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish! So warm up those cheddar bay biscuits, it’s time for a crabfest!
Defeated By: Boiling pool of water from nearby volcano. Sadly, there were no giant cows on the island, so the surf and turf buffet was canceled.
As Seen In: Alligator (1980)
Made Big By: Eating pet corpses laced with growth formula. Seriously.
The Deal: Alligators live in the sewers. It’s not an urban legend. It’s real. So don’t flush that baby alligator you bought at the pet store. You’ll be sorry. Also, never combine pop rocks and soda. Your head will blow up.
Defeated by: Explosives, because Paul Hogan was unavailable.
As Seen In: Hulk (2003)
Made Big By: A crazy-ass Nick Nolte
The Deal: I seriously doubt the Dog Whisperer guy would be able to teach these pooches to sit, stay, and stop eating people. It’s bad enough Bruce Banner (Eric Bana) transforms into a huge green monster when he gets cheesed off, but he also has to deal with his unhinged father (Nick Nolte) and his pack of mutated mutts! And you thought your Dad was a jerk when he erased your Fringe episodes from the DVR!
Defeated by: Hulk smash! What else?
As Seen In: The Giant Spider Invasion (1975)
Made Big By: Outer space
The Deal: The giant spiders in this movie weren’t mutated to monstrous size by an atomic bomb or a mad scientist’s formula, they came that way from space. Which means there’s probably a planet out there with really big people who can crush these spiders with their giant newspapers. Nah, that can be possible. Nobody reads newspapers.
Defeated By: The closing of an dimensional gateway which drains the spiders of their cosmic energy and… It was a giant newspaper!
As Seen In: Night of the Lepus (1972)
Made Big By: Yet another movie scientist who has no idea how to make a serum that does what it’s supposed to do!
The Deal: Awwwwww, so fluffy and lethal. If I had to pick what giant mutant animal would overrun my town and mercilessly slaughter everyone in it, it would be a rabbit hands down. They’re so darn cuddly, you almost don’t mind being trampled and eaten by one of them! I’m kidding of course, it would probably be a horrible way to die.
Defeated By: Angry townspeople with guns. And that’s why I can never return to Flagstaff…
Click here to read part one of Bigger Is Better!