Friday, July 16, 2021
10 years ago today, I went to the local multiplex and watched Horrible Bosses...the Seth Gordon-directed dark comedy about three white-collar subordinates bent on exacting revenge on their supervisors for treating them, obviously, like garbage. Horrible Bosses was my favorite comedy of 2011—with the A-list cast doing a stellar job in making this flick an absolute laugh riot! The best subplot in this movie was the one between Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) and his gleefully sexual-harrassing boss, Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston). Aniston pulled out all the stops in making Harris as sinister and carnally ravenous as possible; coming in only at second place behind the tyrannical Dave Harken, the boss of Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman) aptly played by Kevin Spacey. Colin Farrell was hilarious as Bobby Pellit, the obnoxious son of respectable company owner Jack (Donald Sutherland), and the arch-nemesis of Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis). Not to be outdone in this crime comedy was Jamie Foxx as Dean 'Motherf*cker' Jones—an ex-con who didn't mind helping Arbus, Hendricks and Buckman try to fatally whack their hated superiors.
Horrible Bosses was such an entertaining movie that I'm not surprised it received a sequel...2014's Horrible Bosses 2 which had Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz join the fold. Unsurprisingly, the sequel wasn't as funny as the original movie, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the continued antics of Bateman, Sudeikis and Day in these films. If Horrible Bosses 3 gets made (unlikely, as it's almost been 7 years since the first sequel was released), I'll be there to watch it on opening weekend. Happy Friday!
Saturday, July 10, 2021
A few hours ago, I went to my local AMC theater to watch the first Phase 4 movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Black Widow. It was very enjoyable...and a lot deeper than I expected. Black Widow is clearly about family and redemption—with Natasha Romanoff (once again played fiercely by Scarlett Johansson) reuniting with the folks (a.k.a. Russian agents) she called family when she was young, and confronting a person from her past (now working as the mysterious assassin named Taskmaster) whom she did wrong when Romanoff was trying desperately to leave the life of a cold-blooded assassin behind before she joined SHIELD and the Avengers.
Just like every other Marvel movie, Black Widow was very entertaining and had top-notch special effects (I actually know someone who was a visual effects artist on this film... Well-done, Delon Ho). Ironically, it was the amazing CGI at the climax of Black Widow that somewhat had a negative impact on the movie. For the first two acts of the film, we see Natasha and her sister Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) try to outrun fellow Widows in cool action sequences that were shot on location in Budapest and Norway, respectively. (It was in these parts where this movie felt like the 2018 Jennifer Lawrence espionage flick, Red Sparrow. Not a criticism.) But by the end of the film, we see Natasha, Yelena, Alexei (David Harbour) and Melina (Rachel Weisz) make their way up to a giant floating fortress hidden in the clouds...something that you would obviously see in an Avengers or Captain America movie.
While Black Widow's change of tone from a gritty assassin film to a CG-heavy comic book movie could've been handled a bit differently, it was still an enjoyable flick. As mentioned at the start of this review, Natasha Romanoff sought redemption—and ultimately achieved it. It's after watching this film that Marvel fans should feel sad for Black Widow considering the fate that befell her in 2019's Avengers: Endgame. But when it comes down to it, Natasha's story was finally told alongside those of Captain America, Iron Man and Thor...and the MCU is better for it.
Saturday, July 3, 2021
Earlier today, I watched the latest installment in The Purge franchise at my local AMC theater. Needless to say, The Forever Purge is my favorite sequel yet. While the previous movies dealt with different groups of characters and how they managed to make it through 12 hours of lawful destruction and murder, The Forever Purge was about folks trying to survive not only during the Purge, but afterwards when a nationwide hate group—known as the Ever After Purgers—continued violent attacks across America despite the final siren bringing the government-sanctioned carnage to an end.
What makes The Forever Purge more intense that its predecessors is that it is definitely inspired by the divisiveness that afflicted the United States during the Trump presidency. Not only is it intense, but the film is also a lot scarier in that the hate-filled acts portrayed in this movie feel more plausible; there are folks (as shown during the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol) who would be more than willing to don scary outfits, form murderous militia teams, and purge this country of people deemed un-American for as long as it takes. (Imagine what the QAnon movement would become if the Purge actually existed...) And The Forever Purge ends with an interesting twist on real life by labeling Yanks who survived the mayhem by crossing the U.S./Mexico border as "American Dreamers."
The final scene in The Forever Purge is a powerful one: I won't tell you what happens to the main characters themselves, but we see peace and calm at a refugee camp in Mexico while on the other side of the border, Texas (where the entire film takes place) is engulfed in fire and smoke. And the very last shot is a night-side POV from space showing the United States completely covered in flames...to exemplify that the NFFA, the New Founding Fathers of America, was being destroyed by its own experiment. Powerful stuff—especially for a sci-fi action-horror flick.
I look forward to the next Purge film!
Friday, July 2, 2021
25 years ago today, I watched the hit alien-invasion epic Independence Day at the theater. I've spoken about the sci-fi blockbuster—which is my favorite movie of 1996—so many times throughout the years that there's really nothing new to say about the film (but stay on this page, anyway)! Though in the wake of a recent report released by the Department of Defense about UFOs encountered by U.S. Navy pilots over the past two decades, blogging about ID4 today couldn't be more timely. If you want to read previous things that I've said about the Roland Emmerich-directed epic, you can visit this blog update that celebrated the 10-year anniversary of ID4 in 2006.
Will I post an entry commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Independence Day: Resurgence (which was released in theaters nationwide on June 24, 2016) in 2026, you ask? Probably not. That movie broke my heart like the Dumb and Dumber sequel, Dumb and Dumber To did in 2014. Happy Fourth of July weekend to my fellow Yanks!
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
10 years ago today, I watched Transformers: Dark of the Moon—the third installment in Michael Bay's action-packed film franchise based on the classic Hasbro toys—at the local AMC 20 theater. Dark of the Moon is my favorite movie of 2011...even though I'm still bummed that Megan Fox got herself fired from the film due to poorly-worded comments about Bay in a 2009 interview (it was Executive Producer Steven Spielberg who demanded her removal after she compared Bay to Hitler), and the fact that Shockwave didn't live up to his intimidating appearance that was the centerpiece of Dark of the Moon's pre-release marketing campaign. There isn't one Autobot that Shockwave killed in this Transformers movie, which makes him as poor a villain as The Fallen—the title character of 2009's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. (I'll also point out that the two of them went out like chumps to Optimus Prime...who decimated both of their faces before they were defeated at the hands of the Autobot leader.) At least Bay and his writers corrected this flaw with the badass antagonist Lockdown, from 2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction.
In terms of the good things about Dark of the Moon, Steve Jablonsky's music score for this flick was absolutely top-notch (Listen to "It's Our Fight" on YouTube below), the CGI was amazing as usual, and the portrayal of Sentinel Prime—through Leonard Nimoy's voice work for the character and his design—was awesome. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley was commendable as Carly, though as I said in the previous paragraph, I wanted to see closure between Megan Fox's Mikaela and Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky in this movie. I liked how the Apollo 11 Moon landing played an important role in this film, and that NASA's Kennedy Space Center itself was featured in Dark of the Moon. Regarding the future, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts—a direct sequel to the 2018 spinoff flick Bumblebee—hits theaters nationwide in 2022. Carry on!
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Photo by IJ Adventure Outpost - Twitter.com
Almost two years after he appeared as Han Solo on the big screen for the final time in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Harrison Ford is donning the fedora once again as he began filming Indiana Jones 5. This photo was first posted online yesterday...as principal photography has commenced on the first Indiana Jones film that will not be directed by Steven Spielberg, but by James Mangold (of 2005's Walk the Line, 2017's Logan and 2019's Ford v Ferrari), respectively. Joining Ford in this cast will be Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's Mads Mikkelsen, and Solo: A Star Wars Story's Phoebe Waller-Bridge. John Williams is set to return to compose the music score for this latest installment. Indiana Jones 5, which doesn't have a proper title yet, will be released in theaters nationwide on July 29, 2022, hopefully.
And yes, I hope that this sequel will be more along the lines of The Last Crusade (Raiders of the Lost Ark can't be beat) than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull! Happy Tuesday.
Monday, June 7, 2021
25 years ago today, I watched the Michael Bay-directed/Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action flick The Rock at the theater. Seeing as how I only viewed this film once (even though a lot of folks I know consider it to be Bay's best movie, along with 1995's Bad Boys), my recollection of moments from this flick will probably be inaccurate. (I went to the movie's IMDb page to get their character names correct, at least.) I remember the scene where John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery), a former Alcatraz inmate, effortlessly uses one hand to hold a rope that an FBI agent is grabbing onto for dear life as he hangs over the balcony ledge of a tall building. I recall a car chase scene that either took place before or after that...most likely after. I remember the scene where General Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris) yells "Cease fire" as his mercenaries gun down the Navy SEALs who infiltrated Alcatraz to neutralize chemical weapons that Hummel placed on the island. (This was a very emotional scene.) And I remember the climactic moment when Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage)—after injecting himself with the antidote following exposure to one of the chemical weapons—ignites two flares to signal incoming F/A-18 Hornets to abort their airstrike since Mason and Goodspeed managed to secure the deadly nerve agents. And of course, I remember Mason uttering the memorable line (in Connery's British accent), "Welcome to the Rock."
The main reason why I'm reminiscing about The Rock—apart from it being an entertaining, high-octane Bay flick—is because it was released in theaters only a few days before 10th grade (my favorite year in high school) came to an end. This is also the reason why I posted a recent blog entry about Broken Arrow, which is still a fun, action-packed movie without the nostalgia. And next month, I plan on typing about my most favorite film of 1996. I'll give you a hint about what it is: It's a mega summer blockbuster that had the White House getting blown up by a 15 mile-wide alien spaceship...prompting Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum to go and save the world. Happy Monday!
Saturday, June 5, 2021
Earlier today, I went to the local AMC 20 theater to watch The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It...the third installment in the cinematic horror franchise started by James Wan in 2013, and directed by Michael Chaves this time around. In The Devil Made Me Do It, Ed and Lorraine Warren (once again aptly played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) need to prove that the real-life 1981 murder of Alan Bono (whose name was changed to Bruno in this film) committed by Arne Cheyenne Johnson was the result of demonic possession following the exorcism of a young boy named David Glatzel, whose family Johnson knew. Johnson eventually served 5 years in prison for committing manslaughter (when the prosecutor proposed the death penalty instead...according to the movie)—a result, at least in The Conjuring 3, of the Warrens successfully tying the crime to a sinister Satanic cult that was behind Johnson's homicidal act.
Overall, The Devil Made Me Do It was pretty darn scary...just like the two previous Conjuring flicks (and spin-off films like 2014's Annabelle and 2018's The Nun) before it. However, there was nothing in this movie to really freak me out as 1.) much of the backstory behind what caused David Glatzel himself to become possessed was embellished, and 2.) we all know that both Warrens will happily survive this investigation—as the real Ed Warren passed away in 2006, and Lorraine was 92 when she sadly died two years ago. Also, I'm a huge fan of the now-concluded CW Network TV series Supernatural, and the idea that people are cursed by hexes secretly placed inside their homes by evil cults was conveyed numerous times during this show's 15-year run (which is also why the Paranormal Activity sequels felt more and more derivative with each new installment that was theatrically released last decade). With that being said, I look forward to the next chapter in The Conjuring franchise. I'm definitely excited for The Nun 2 (I drew an artwork of Valak at the start of the pandemic last year)! Carry on.
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
I forgot that 2021 marks 25 years since the theatrical release of my favorite John Woo action film, Broken Arrow! Opening in cinemas nationwide on February 9, 1996, Broken Arrow tells the tale of two U.S. Air Force pilots who play a cat-and-mouse game after one pilot, Major Vic "Deak" Deakins (John Travolta), intentionally crashes their B-3 Stealth Bomber following the unauthorized deployment of two B83 nuclear bombs in the Utah desert...hence the military code phrase 'broken arrow.' Deak's co-pilot, Captain Riley Hale (Christian Slater), is ejected from the bomber after a fisticuff with Deakins occurs inside the cockpit before that. On the ground, Hale eventually finds himself being helped by park ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis) in his quest to locate the unexploded ordnance before Deakins and his gang get a hold of them. Also among the cast is Super Bowl XVIII champion Howie Long, RoboCop's Kurtwood Smith and The Shawshank Redemption's Bob Gunton.
Just like in John Woo's more popular American film Face/Off (which arrived in theaters on June 19, 1997), the fight scenes in Broken Arrow are topnotch...from the gunfight inside that abandoned mine where Deakin attempted to hide those two nukes, to the climactic brawl aboard that train where Deakins bet Hale $1 that he wouldn't be able to snatch the remote from Deak's hands before those bombs exploded. And contributing to Broken Arrow's memorability is the hip music score by none other than Hans Zimmer himself. I call it hip because it fittingly captures the persona of the two cool actors who portray Vic Deakins and Riley Hale, respectively. In regards to Travolta, that would explain why Woo wanted to work alongside him again in Face/Off—this time squaring off against Nicolas Cage.
I'd re-watch Broken Arrow after I complete this blog entry if not for the fact that my DVD player isn't working properly. Oh well. Listen to Hans Zimmer's awesome main theme from Broken Arrow below!
Saturday, May 29, 2021
Several hours ago, I went to the local AMC 20 theater near my house to watch the sci-fi horror sequel A Quiet Place Part II...which, thanks to being fully-vaccinated, is the first movie that I saw at the multiplex since February of 2020 (when I viewed the live-action version of Sonic the Hedgehog at AMC 20). Needless to say, A Quiet Place 2 was absolutely suspenseful from beginning to end! John Krasinksi, who returned to direct the film (but only made a brief appearance in the sequel considering what happened to his character Lee Abbott in 2018's A Quiet Place), once again did a masterful job combining intense action sequences with, of course, quiet moments from a family deep in survival mode. Not only did Emily Blunt do a great job again as Evelyn Abbott, but young actors Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe gave amazing performances as Abbot children Regan and Marcus, respectively. And more star power was added to A Quiet Place 2 with Cillian Murphy as Emmett and Djimon Hounsou as...the Man on the Island. You'll have to watch the movie to know why the exceptional Hounsou didn't have a named character in this film. I'll leave it at that.
The main thing that I really liked about A Quiet Place Part II is that there were no major cringe-inducing moments (intentionally, that is) that would prevent me from watching the sequel again. I only viewed A Quiet Place Part I once at the theater—and that's because I couldn't bear to see Evelyn Abbott step on that nail protruding from that staircase again! Such a painful and visceral moment like this one is why the Quiet Place movies are such wonderfully-crafted suspense thrillers...and a testament to John Krasinski having a great knack for directing as well as acting on the silver screen. Happy Memorial Day Weekend.
Tuesday, May 25, 2021
It was on this day two decades ago that I watched Michael Bay's World War II epic Pearl Harbor at the AMC 20 theater near my house. Despite the fact that this film could've been better (it was Bay's attempt at copying James Cameron's Titanic—with an ill-fated love triangle set during a tragic historical event), I will always remember the amazing music score by Hans Zimmer...and of course, the intense Pearl Harbor attack sequence whose visuals were realized by none other than Industrial Light & Magic itself.
I'm reminiscing about Pearl Harbor because I watched this flick right after driving home from my final exam that concluded the Spring 2001 semester at Cal State Long Beach, my college alma mater. If you want to know why that semester was particularly memorable for me (though not necessarily in a positive way), visit my main Blog. Happy Tuesday!
Sunday, May 16, 2021
"We all believe we'd run into that burning building. But until we feel that heat, we can never know. You do."
The quote above is one of many that left a memorable impression in Tenet, Christopher Nolan's 2020 sci-fi film that I finally managed to watch on HBO Max earlier today. I enjoyed this movie—which was just as visually brilliant as 2010's Inception (especially in Tenet's action-packed climax in the desert) and conveyed an intriguing scientific scenario like 2014's Interstellar did. Inverted weaponry that's powered by inverse radiation created by nuclear fission... This is such a unique concept that I need to do research about it! Well, at least about the the inverse radiation part. Is this how we could hypothetically travel back in time? Maybe not.
In regards to Tenet's cast, it was remarkable. John David Washington was commendable as the Protagonist (yes, that's how he's referred to throughout the movie), Robert Pattinson was a loyal and effective sidekick and soldier as Neil, Elizabeth Debicki was a fierce woman out to protect her young son as Kat, and Kenneth Branagh was ruthless as Sator. Also doing a fine job in this film are Himesh Patel (Mahir), Dimple Kapadia (Priya), Denzil Smith (Sanjay), Michael Caine (Crosby) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Ives). I look forward to the next cinematic masterpiece that Christopher Nolan will bestow upon us in the post-pandemic era. That is all.
"We live in a twilight world. And there are no friends at dusk."
Monday, May 10, 2021
Just thought I'd share this theatrical poster, trailer screenshots and the trailer itself for Venom: Let There Be Carnage...the Andy Serkis-directed sequel which opens only in theaters nationwide on September 24. As shown below, the classic Spider-Man villain Carnage will finally be brought to life on the big screen—with his serial-killing human host Cletus Kasady played by Woody Harrelson. Tom Hardy returns as Eddie Brock and his ravenous alien symbiote, while Michelle Williams reprises her role as Anne Weying, Brock's on-again, off-again girlfriend from 2018's Venom.
As mentioned above, Let There Be Carnage will only be showing in theaters when it makes its debut this fall. All the more reason why Venom fans (and Marvel geeks, in particular) need to get vaccinated if they haven't done so already. I got my second dose last month.
Saturday, April 24, 2021
So earlier today, I watched the latest incarnation of Mortal Kombat on HBO Max. It was pretty entertaining. I never watched the original films from the 1990s, so I have no clue if Scorpion was depicted in such a sympathetic manner as he was in this latest cinematic version. But Hiroyuki Sanada—who appeared in other movies such as Avengers: Endgame, The Wolverine, 47 Ronin and The Last Samurai—did a terrific job conveying the tragic backstory behind how the 'Demon Ninja' came to be. Though not to be outdone by Sanada is Joe Taslim...who was fantastic as Scorpion's cold archnemesis, Sub-Zero. Originally known as Bi-Han, this 'Ice Ninja' was so formidable in Mortal Kombat that Jax (Mehcad Brooks) was right to point out that no one could fight Sub-Zero on their own.
In regards to the rest of the cast, it was commendable. Lewis Tan was great as Cole Young (the descendant of one of the supernatural warriors mentioned above), Jessica McNamee was badass as Sonya Blade, Josh Lawson was hilarious as Kano, Tadanobu Asano was calm and cool as Lord Raiden, Chin Han was malevolent as Shang Tsung, Ludi Lin was fierce as Liu Kang, Max Huang did an awesomely gruesome thing with his metal hat as Kung Lao, Sisi Stringer was cool licking blood off her dagger as Mileena, and Mel Jarnson had a fantastic death scene as Nitara (Look at my previous comment about Kung Lao)! Also making an appearance in Mortal Kombat is Goro...who also went out in a blaze of glory (Re: disembowelment) too.
Unsurprisingly, the ending of Mortal Kombat lends itself to a sequel—which I'll definitely watch if Warner Bros. gives it the greenlight. Who will play Johnny Cage in the next movie, you ask? We'll see. But this sequel won't be complete without the Demon-and-Ice Ninjas making a return... Happy Saturday!