Saturday, April 24, 2021

Quick Review: MORTAL KOMBAT...

Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada) welds the fires of Hell to his advantage in MORTAL KOMBAT.

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.

Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) can create deadly weapons of ice at will in MORTAL KOMBAT.

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.

Kung Lao (Max Huang) had the best fatality in MORTAL KOMBAT!

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!

Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is ready to take on Sub-Zero (not shown) in MORTAL KOMBAT.

Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee) and Kano (Josh Lawson) really don't like each other in MORTAL KOMBAT.

Jax (Mehcad Brooks) puts his new robotic arms to good use in MORTAL KOMBAT.

Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) makes his grand entrance in MORTAL KOMBAT.

Liu Kang (Ludi Lin) arrives at sunset in MORTAL KOMBAT.

Shang Tsung (Chin Han) sucks some soul in MORTAL KOMBAT.

Goro (voiced by Angus Sampson) takes on Cole Young in MORTAL KOMBAT.

Mileena (Sisi Stringer) enjoys the taste of blood in MORTAL KOMBAT.

Nitara (Mel Jarnson) isn't half the vampire she used to be by the end of MORTAL KOMBAT!

Monday, April 12, 2021

A Sad Day for L.A. Moviegoers...

ArcLight's Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood has permanently shut its doors.
FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP via Getty Images

A few hours ago, I found out through the Hollywood Reporter that ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theatres will permanently shut their doors—as business was unable to recover due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All I can say is, this is hugely the point where I almost became a bit teary-eyed as I read various news articles about this. Between 2004 and 2010, I had a fun job at a market research company where I worked movie test and press screenings at the ArcLight in Hollywood and Pacific Theatres throughout Southern California. Also, I watched such films as Avatar, Zero Dark Thirty and two Star Wars films (Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens, to be specific) at the ArcLight as well. Not only that, but I visited the ArcLight on Sunset Boulevard numerous times over the past decade to see costumes and vehicles used in flicks like Ant-Man and the Wasp, Deadpool 2, The Force Awakens and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, respectively, inside its main theater lobby.

And now it's all gone.

It's just painful that more nails continue to be placed in the coffin in terms of my memories at places that I'll no longer work at that I do want to work in again. I could make this Blog entry extremely long to voice more of my disappointment at this breaking news, but I'll conclude this here. Another era that I cherished comes to an end.

Posing with the Ant-Man, Wasp and Ghost costumes used in ANT-MAN AND THE WASP...on July 8, 2018.

The DEADPOOL costume on display at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood...on May 29, 2018.

Captain Phasma's armor and a First Order Stormtrooper suit from STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS...on display at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood.

Posing in front of the Peterbilt truck that represents Optimus Prime in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Posing in front of the Chevy Camaro that represents Bumblebee in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON.

Friday, April 9, 2021

TOP GUN: MAVERICK Has Received a New Release Date...

Maverick (Tom Cruise) leads a squadron of F/A-18 Hornets across the ocean in TOP GUN: MAVERICK...which hits theaters nationwide on November 19, 2021.

So contrary to this previous Blog entry where I posted that Top Gun: Maverick was supposed to arrive in theaters nationwide on July 2, it will instead be released on November 19 of this year. This is actually great news! I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (by Pfizer) a little over a week ago, and I should get my second and last dose on April 21. While the protection by this vaccine would've been at its most potent in the middle of the summer, late November also gives a lot of time for millions of other hopeful moviegoers to get vaccinated before Tom Cruise's much-anticipated air-combat sequel lands in multiplexes everywhere. Herd immunity in the United States should already be taking place by the Thanksgiving holiday...hopefully.

And on another note, Indiana Jones 5 is expected to debut in theaters on July 29, 2022. James Mangold of 2005's Walk the Line, 2007's 3:10 to Yuma and 2017's Logan will direct the film. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who starred in 2018's Solo: A Star Wars Story, will appear alongside Harrison Ford in the fifth Indy flick—while John Williams will return to compose the film's music score, respectively. Happy Friday!

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who starred in 2018's SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, will appear alongside Harrison Ford in 2022's INDIANA JONES 5...with John Williams set to return to compose the film's music score, respectively.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

AMC 20 Is Back in Business!

The AMC 20 Theatres inside Puente Hills Mall is reopened for of April 3, 2021.

Earlier today, I visited my local mall, Puente Hills Mall (which, as you know, served as Twin Pines Mall in the first Back to the Future film), when I saw that AMC Theatres inside this shopping plaza finally reopened after being closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year! I'm so excited for this! Of course, I don't plan on watching a movie here till this summer (when the next Marvel flick Black Widow opens nationwide on July 9). But I'll definitely go to this AMC 20 theater when movies that are really worth seeing on the big screen (particularly on IMAX), such as Top Gun: Maverick, are finally unleashed in cinemas around the country. The Top Gun sequel arrives in theaters on July 2. Oh wait— That's one week before Black Widow is released! Niiice!

An F/A-18 Hornet piloted by Maverick (Tom Cruise) catapults off an aircraft carrier in TOP GUN: MAVERICK...which arrives in theaters on July 2.

Scarlett Johansson returns as BLACK WIDOW on July 9.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Images of the Day: Snapshots from GODZILLA VS. KONG...

Godzilla and King Kong brawl in GODZILLA VS. KONG.

So earlier today, I watched the monster flick Godzilla vs. Kong on HBO Max. It was a very action-packed film! I have questions about that whole Hollow Earth subplot, but then I remembered that I'm watching a movie about a giant radioactive lizard that fights a huge gorilla who welds an axe that Thor from the Marvel universe would envy. Also, if you're a Pacific Rim fan, you'll like how Godzilla vs. Kong pays homage to the 2013 flick by having humans build a gigantic robot (which is actually a classic Godzilla villain who I spoiled with two screenshots below) designed to fight Godzilla and replace him as the Alpha Titan. And of course, if you saw the 2018 sequel Pacific Rim: Uprising, you'll know that the humans' plan to use Kaiju brain matter to power that robot wasn't the wisest move in the world. I'll leave it at that.

Godzilla is ready to do battle in the middle of Hong GODZILLA VS. KONG.

The downside of streaming Godzilla vs. Kong online as opposed to viewing it at the theater is the fact that I paused the film so many times to capture these awesome screenshots below (which is the same thing that I did with Zack Snyder's Justice League last month). Oh well. This will probably be the case one more time with Mortal Kombat...which opens in theaters on April 16 and premieres on HBO Max exactly one week later. Happy Easter Weekend!

Godzilla is about to go on the attack in GODZILLA VS. KONG.

King Kong welds a special axe in GODZILLA VS. KONG.

King Kong in the heat of battle in GODZILLA VS. KONG.

Maya Simmons (Eiza González), Jia (Kaylee Hottle) and Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) find themselves in the middle of King Kong's lair in GODZILLA VS. KONG.

Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown), Josh Valentine (Julian Dennison) and Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) are shaken by Godzilla's roar in GODZILLA VS. KONG.

Madison Russell, Josh Valentine, Bernie Hayes, Ilene Andrews, Jia and Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) watch as Godzilla departs from Hong Kong in GODZILLA VS. KONG.

Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir) is unaware that something is staring at him from behind in GODZILLA VS. KONG.

Mechagodzilla is ready to become the Alpha Titan in GODZILLA VS. KONG.

Monday, March 29, 2021

On This Day in 2011: Remembering SUCKER PUNCH...


Two years before Zack Snyder inaugurated the DC Extended Universe with 2013's Man of Steel, his fantasy-action flick Sucker Punch arrived in theaters nationwide. Today marks a decade since I watched this movie at the multiplex. Sucker Punch is an interesting film...which is basically about a character (played by Emily Browning) who resorts to losing herself in an alternative reality while being forced to commit demoralizing acts at a facility where she is being institutionalized by her abusive stepfather. In her fantasies, the girl—known as Babydoll—pictures herself fighting against the forces of evil alongside other women (portrayed by Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung and Abbie Cornish) who are also being held at the facility.

Sucker Punch is a pretty dark, trippy and stylized film...which, of course, would be a nice preview of what was to come as Snyder was years away from directing an ensemble movie featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other DC Comics superheroes. That is all.

Babydoll (Emily Browning) leads a ragtag group of butt-kicking ladies (played by Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung and Abbie Cornish) in SUCKER PUNCH.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Photos of the Day: Images from the SNYDER CUT...

Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Batman (in the Batmobile), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) are out to save the world in ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Happy Monday, everyone! Just thought I'd share these screenshots from Zack Snyder's Justice League after I watched it on HBO Max yesterday (yes, in just one viewing). I actually enjoyed Joss Whedon's 2017 theatrical version of Justice League, so I was obviously very impressed by Snyder's 4-hour iteration of the DC Extended Universe's (DCEU) second ensemble film (after 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). So what did I think of the new cut, you ask? My notes:

- Resume development of Justice League 2...and re-hire Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman, immediately! And give Snyder a raise.

- Even though this was made possible primarily due to the Snyder Cut's 'R' rating, the way that Steppenwolf was defeated in this version is way more satisfying than his downfall in Whedon's film. To be blunt: Steppenwolf went out like a total b***h while Superman arrived like a boss in the Snyder Cut's climax.

- (Spoiler Alert) If Wonder Woman 3 has a villain who's remotely worthy of getting decapitated by Diana Prince's sword like in the Snyder Cut, then this sequel will be a huge improvement on Wonder Woman 1984!

And again:

- Bring back Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel and Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight, respectively. Zack Snyder revealed in Justice League that there is so much potential for the DCEU if future movies are made based on what Snyder conveyed in his latest comic book epic. Carry on.

Darkseid (voiced by Ray Porter) is out to make Earth his latest conquest in ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) is determined to carry out Darkseid's bidding on Earth in ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Batman (Ben Affleck) is out to build a team of heroes in ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE.

As Darkseid watches behind her, Diana Prince shows why she's a true wonder woman in ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Aquaman is ready to do his part in defeating Steppenwolf in ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Cyborg tests his abilities in ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE.

The Flash runs at the speed of light in ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Lois Lane (Amy Adams) confronts a newly-resurrected Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) in ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Clark Kent suits up in black before he helps Batman, Wonder Woman and Co. save the world in ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Monday, March 15, 2021

On This Day in 2011: Remembering BATTLE: LOS ANGELES...


Today marks ten years since I saw the sci-fi action flick Battle: Los Angeles at the theater. I thought it was pretty exciting...even though the movie (which starred Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriguez, Ne-Yo, Bridget Moynahan, Michael Peña and Michelle Rodriguez) would've felt more authentic if it was actually filmed in the City of Angels. Battle: Los Angeles was mostly shot in Shreveport and Baton Rouge, Louisiana—with Camp Pendleton being the only California setting where production was held in the Golden State. It's all good.

Here's my original review of the film back in 2011.

U.S. Marines confront an alien attacker in BATTLE: LOS ANGELES.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Video of the Day #2: The MORTAL KOMBAT Trailer...

Jax (Mehcad Brooks) confronts Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) in 2021's MORTAL KOMBAT.
Warner Bros. Pictures

"Finish Him (or Her)!" The famous declaration made before a Fatality is conducted will be heard once again in this spring's latest cinematic incarnation of Mortal Kombat. Produced by James Wan (who directed DC's Aquaman as well as The Conjuring 1 and 2), Mortal Kombat will premiere on HBO Max and in theaters on April 16...with an 'R' rating that will insure that this film will live up to the gruesome martial arts sequences that defined the classic video games. I never saw 1995's Mortal Kombat movie (directed by Paul W.S. Anderson) nor its 1997 sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, but I look forward to watching this newest version in two months. How can I not considering the cool scene above showing Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim) freezing the arms right off of Jax (Mehcad Brooks)? I reckon that this movie will be bloody fun...quite literally. Carry on.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Video of the Day: Zack Snyder's JUSTICE LEAGUE Cut Is Coming Soon...

Jared Leto returns as Joker in the Zack Snyder cut of JUSTICE LEAGUE.

"We live in a society where honor is a distant memory. Isn't that right, Batman?" So are the words of Joker (Jared Leto) as he confronts Batman (Ben Affleck) in Zack Snyder's version of Justice League...which arrives on HBO Max (through which I watched Wonder Woman 1984 last Christmas) next month. Can't wait! I actually enjoyed Joss Whedon's version of Justice League when it hit theaters in 2017, but seeing as how the film was originally shot with the vision of Zack Snyder (who also helmed 2013's Man of Steel and 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) in mind, I'm excited to see this iteration on my computer soon.

Justice League arrives (again) on March 18.

Monday, February 1, 2021

On This Day in 2011: Remembering THE KING'S SPEECH...


So today marks ten years since I watched The King's Speech at the theater. This biopic stars Colin Firth as King George VI, and how his speech impediment posed a challenge to him as he sought to rally the people of Great Britain at the onset of World War II. Geoffrey Rush (who folks probably best remember as portraying Captain Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) did an outstanding job as Lionel Logue, a speech therapist who helped King George overcome his stuttering as the monarch gave his wartime address to the populace of the United Kingdom.

All I can say is, The King's Speech is a wonderful and very inspirational film! It deserved to take home the Academy Award for Best Picture a few weeks later. This movie epitomizes how cinema can make an impact on your life and instill joy in you if you're feeling down due to a daily struggle. I'm glad that I bought The King's Speech on DVD a few months later! Happy First Day of February.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Remembering My Trip to the 2001 Sundance Film Festival...

Posin' out in the snow at Park City, Utah...during the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2001.

It was 20 years ago this month that I flew to Park City, Utah, to attend the Sundance Film Festival for the first (and currently only) time! The reason being that my sister's film The Flip Side (which I worked on as a production assistant back in 1997) was screened at this prestiguous event. In the photo below, Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker is talking to Rod Pulido (in the black beanie cap)—who also went to Cal State Long Beach, my college alma mater, and directed The Flip Side. In the image above, I'm just posin' out in the snow even though I felt horrible since I went on this trip feeling very sick...after I forgot to wear warm clothing when I hung out with my L.A. friends the night before I departed for Utah. Oh well.

In regards to other films that I saw at Sundance, I watched a New Zealand short called Moko and a Japanese gangster movie called Brother. Pretty good flicks! Have a nice weekend.

Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker speaks to THE FLIP SIDE director Rod Pulido (in the black beanie cap) at the Sundance Film January of 2001.