Mom and Dad – Official Trailer

A lot of people seem to take a perverse joy in watching Nicholas Cage overacting style of acting, but it typically it doesn’t move me.

Though what’s worse is that it feels to me Cage is being mocked, which is sad becaus he clearly trusts in his directors enough that he’s willing to swing for the bleachers.

Or maybe it’s just a part of his shtick and he does if because that’s what he wants to believe people have come to see.

In any case, Brian Taylor’s Mom and Dad feels vaguely like M. Night Shymalan’s The Visit combined with George Romero’s TheW Crazies, where for unknown reasons–though likely due to an oddly specific virus–parents try to kill their children.

Let the hilarity begin!

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Where Marvel’s Iron Fist Went Wrong, And How To Set It Right

With a new season of Marvel’s Iron Fist currently shooting, I’ve started to speculate where it was that the first season went wrong.

1.  Iron Fist Was Guest-Starring In His Own Story

The Rand Corporation (as well as his siblings) are important to Danny Rand/Iron Fist’s narrative, but the series often felt like Rand was a guest-star in his own story.

In a 2-hour movie you can (arguably) get away with an under-developed hero or villain (and in fact there’s often only time to develop one or the other.  To do otherwise runs the risk of diminishing both, to the detriment of the story).

But in a thirteen hour series?  There’s no excuse for both parts of the equation to be balanced

2. Danny Rand Was A Bit Of A Whiner

While Finn Jones was cast as Danny Rand/Iron Fist I was okay with the choice, though he would likely not have been mine (that would have been Cam Gigadet, who would have not only brought a welcome bit of world-weariness to the role but actually knows martial arts–Krav Maga–which could have lent a greater authenticity to the role) though the character felt a bit like a truculent child at times, which made him a bit off-putting

3. Showrunner A-Go-Go!

For better or worse, the showrunner sets the tone and direction that a series takes.

They may not write it (though if that’s their area of strength, they could), but they’ll likely chose the writers who will.

They may not direct, but will end up being the decider in terms of whom actually  ends up doing so.

in other words, it’s a very influential position and likely why Scott Buck will not be returning to a second season of Marvel’s Iron Fist (he’s replaced in Season Two by Raven Metzger, who worked on Falling Skies, Heroes Reborn, Sleepy Hollow and movies like Elektra).

And a new showrunner is a great start, though–and this is stating the obvious–there had to be more martial arts.

One of my favorite martial arts movies is The Five Deadly Venoms and frankly, it’s ridiculous, particularly from a martial arts standpoint though ironically enough, that’s why it works so well.  It revels in the  rediculousness, while playing it relatively straight. 

Now, I’m not saying that Iron Fist needs to go quite that far, but it is called ‘Iron Fist,’ not ‘Familial Squabbles with a Little Martial Arts Thrown In.’

And I’m not saying that Iron Fist needs to be as fanciful as that movie, but there should be a joyfulness, a level of dexterity for the most part missing from the first season.

Some of the changes I’ve mentioned–such as a new showrunner–have already been initiated, though arguably the most important–is the fighting because keep in mind that Danny Rand’s martial art abilities are to him what The Punisher’s penchant for violence are to him: an indispensable part of the character’s makeup.  

Rebirth of the Dark Universe?

The seeming collapse of Universal’s Dark Universe cinematic universe should maybe be seen as a blessing in disguise.

Keep in mind Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy earned over $409 million on a budget of $125 million, which isn’t a terrible outcome (though promotional costs, which I haven’t seen, are important) and indicates an interest in the concept.

Interestingly, NOT casting Tom Cruise might have better shown how much interest there was in The Mummy–and by extension their Dark Universe–and likely would have cost less to produce, which could mean the movie would have had a better chance at profitability.

What Universal needs to do is to go back to the original movies–and for a start emphasizing horror, as opposed to action– and put Jason Blum at the helm because if he and his Blumhouse Pictures production shingle–conveniently at Universal as well–has proven anything, it’s that he knows how to make extremely profitable horror movies at minimal cost.

By way of illustration, Blum’s The Purge cost $3 million and Insidious cost $1.5 million and earned $98 million and $97 million, respectively.

Which is exactly what Dark Universe needs right now.

 

Hellboy Returns (Sort of…)

This is an image of Ron Perlman as Hellboy from Guillermo Del Toro’s 2008 movie, Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

If anyone could be said to be destined to play a character it’s Perlman, who’s Hellboy looked like he was pulled from the pages of Mike Mignola’s comic.

Flash forward to 2017 when the third film (Del Toro always intended to make a trilogy featuring Hellboy) was for a time considered, then abandoned.

For awhile it appeared that that was the end of Hellboy movies for the foreseeable future, till we learned that there would indeed be another, though without the participation of either Del Toro or Perlman.

This time around Hellboy will be directed by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday) and played by David Harbour (Stranger Things).

And I admit that it bothered me.  Guillermo Del Toro is for my money one of the most visually interesting directors working today and to have someone else do what would have been the final chapter in his penultimate Hellboy story somehow felt…wrong.

And to be sure, the way Del Toro either abandoned projects or had them fall apart for one reason or another didn’t exactly assuage my unease.

I mention all the above because today an image was released of David Harbour as Hellboy and it looks…pretty damn good!

He’s certainly more vascular than Perlman’s version of the character.  And for me he visually gives off a very Conan-vibe, circa 2011 and Jason Momoa.

I also like the moodier way he appears to be photographed.  With Guillermo Del Toro I felt that he made sure that you were aware that you were watching a comic writ large, which was his intention.

Neil Marshall may be taking an entirely different route in that the producers are working with a hard-R, as opposed to a PG-13 rating–thanks Deadpool though Blade should get the real credit–so a more visceral, physical feel is likely what the new producers are looking to achieve.

‘Flatliners’ Likely to Die at the Box Office

The reboot of Joel Schumacher’s 1990 thriller Flatliners (directed by Niels Arden Oplev) premieres later this month, and is likely to have an uneventful–and short–run in theaters.

Reason being, IT has shown remarkable strength for an R-rated horror movie (and so far is making all the monies) but when you figure in Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem) being released two weeks later, it will take more than a shot of adrenaline to save the thriller.

And looking at the second trailer, you’ll likely get an idea why.

It’s not only hard to tell what’s going on and why it’s happening though worse of all there doesn’t seem a particularly–based on the trailer–compelling reason to see it.

Marvel’s The Punisher – Teaser Trailer

There have been three movie incarnations of The Punisher since he was created by Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr. in 1974, and while a popular character in comics, his movies never quite seemed to connect with audiences.

The first movie was in 1978, with Dolph Lundgren as Frank Castle/The Punisher.  It was okay, though he never displayed the the iconic skull emblem the character is known for (this lack of fidelity to the character was made up by it being somewhat gory).

The next version was in 2004 with Thomas Jane (who while physically is probably a bit short, he brought acting chops beyond Lundgren’s). It was okay, but failed in some really peculiar ways, such as as some underwhelming special effects and odd story beats (what I like to call the ‘fire hydrant scene’ is pretty bizarre).

Though at least he wore the iconic skull.

Thomas Jane also appeared in a short as The Punisher in 2012 (The Punisher: Dirty Laundry).

The Punisher next made another appearance in 2008 (This time played by Ray Stevenson) in Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone.  

Easily the best interpretation of the character in movies–though some of the violence was way over the top and more cartoonish than anything seen prior–Stevenson brought the size of Lundgren, and the acting chops of Jane to the role.

Though it still underperformed in theaters.

Enter 2017, and the Punisher is back.  Introduced in season two of Marvel’s Daredevil and graduating to his own series (a better format for the character than movies) Jon Bernthal brings us a Punisher worthy of the name.

The DCEU Finds Redemption

There a story on Superherohype where Ben Affleck says that the portrayal of Batman in Warner Bros/DC Films upcoming Justice League would be a more ‘traditional’ portrayal of the character.

What!?

The fact that Affleck has to tell viewers this is indicative of perhaps the greatest problem the DCEU has (yet) to overcome: namely a loss of support from their core audience, which are the people who grew up reading the comics these characters first appeared in.

Which is such a weird place to be because it’s a problem of their own making in that all they needed to do was to make their superheroes more faithful (I understand that no character translates wholly intact from the printed page to the movie screen but it’s almost as if Warner Bros wasn’t even trying) to how the characters appeared in the comics, then literally sit back and rake in the cash.

But if Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad have shown us anything, it’s seemingly not quite that easy.

Or does it?  Maybe the greatest problem with the three aforementioned movies has less to do with their their fidelity to the source material (though that’s certainly there) than an attempt to be visually and esthetically different from Marvel Studios.

And on some level that’s understandable.  What isn’t is creating such an esthetically and morally unappealing interpretation of Batman and Superman (though what’s worse is that there’s nothing wrong with such portrayals per se.  It’s more a question of starting with a more traditional interpretation then have events turn the character dystopic–which was said, but never shown in reference to Batman).

That’s an important journey viewers would have not enjoyed embarking on, and would have shown the seminal events that resulted in a murderous Batman (something the character studiously avoided during for the bulk of time he has existed).

Wonder Woman–for the DCEU–is literally a game changer in that it not appears more faithful to the comics than the aforementioned movies, yet managed to appeal to both critics and the bulk of the moviegoing audience.

It may not have quite restored faith in the fledgling cinematic universe that is the DCEU