No Post Today – Well Kinda Sorta – Avengers Assemble!

No post today (other than this) as I am taking a nifty mental health day to see The Avengers double feature and enjoy a nice juicy hamburger. Ooooh and a ridiculously large Coke Icee! I love summer movie season.

Avengers Double Feature

 

Woohoo! This double feature is playing at select Regal, Edwards, Carolina, AMC, Epic, Cinemark, and other theaters.

It’s the End of the World as We Know it

Supervolcano and End Day are currently available on instant Netflix.

Supervolcano

 

Supervolcano (2005) – TV-PG

This explosive docudrama imagines what would happen if the supervolcano on which Yellowstone National Park sits erupted.”

Standard advice to people was that they store enough food and water for three days. Today is day three.”

Other than die-hard doomsday fans, I am unsure who this is made for. I will say that I was thankful that this wasn’t an Asylum production. In some ways, it is anti-Asylum. The special effects however are exactly what you would expect from Asylum – namely serviceable but about a decade behind current norms. This is intercut with a fair amount of actual volcano footage.

Supervolcano is listed as a BBC series but it is actually only an hour and forty-five minutes total, broken into two parts. The first part gives us an overview of Yellowstone, an introduction to our scientists, a fair amount of discussion of other volcanic events, and the growing threat of an eruption. The second part is obviously the eruption along with the aftermath.

While the special effects are nothing to write about, the scenarios are handled in a fairly realistic manner and the graphics support that. It doesn’t try to stuff every possible type of volcanic activity and phenomena into one movie (Dante’s Peak) and it doesn’t use man-made landmarks for sensationalism (Volcano).

This is done as a docudrama so don’t expect it to focus on individual stories of heroism. If you want that, wait for San Andreas, starring Dwayne Johnson. While they get some things right, I did have to laugh when they mentioned evacuating the President to a bunker in Florida. As anyone who lives in Florida knows, the water table is high enough to prevent basements in most areas, much less a bunker. Also BBC, no one in the US would give a distance in kilometers.

Acting is of course way better than anything the Asylum has ever put out but that is not saying much.

End Day

End Day (2005) – Not Rated

A fictional scientist travels from London to New York experiencing a multitude of doomsday scenarios, about which various experts provide commentary.

Another disaster docudrama from BBC, End Day is less than an hour long. In this time, writer and director Gareth Edwards constructs a series of disaster scenarios and links them in Groundhog Day style. A scientist wakes up in the morning and, during the course of trying to get from London to New York, encounters a disaster. He then wakes up back in his motel room and the day starts again with a different disaster encountered. Edwards even acknowledges his source by having Groundhog Day listed on a marquee. These are Edwards first writing and first directing gigs. He has gone on to write and direct Monsters and to direct the most recent Godzilla.

The disasters are all quick and dirty since each is only about ten minutes long, and that includes the repeat scenes of the scientist trying to get to New York. The first does not fit the doomsday storyline but is just a story of a tidal wave striking the East Coast, New York in particular. The others are potential doomsday events, leading up to our scientist arriving in New York to start up a Hadron like collider.

Both Supervolcano and End Day are strictly for those of us who are fascinated by the apocalypse. There are no characters to care about, no jaw-dropping special effects, and probably no particular extra knowledge to be gained.

Blargity Blarg Blarg Crash Bang

Well it has been an annoying couple of weeks for me. Two weeks ago someone hit my car when they ran a stop sign. I was lucky that was no one was hurt and that that was my first ever car accident. I still don’t have my car back. The insurance company still hasn’t adjudicated the case. They are exceptionally polite but not at all competent. It took them two days just to tow my car.

Crash

 

Crash (2004) – Rated Unrated

In post-Sept. 11 Los Angeles, tensions erupt when the lives of people from all walks of life converge during a 36-hour period.”

Crash is currently available on instant Netflix

Marvel Marathon

I failed to win Regal’s ultimate fan contest. /le sigh. My wife and daughter have been dealing with issues of their own that have made them unhappy. Still it looks like I might have my car back in time for The Avengers double feature on Thursday. It is no Ultimate Marvel Marathon but I’m sure it will make me happy. Now if only I could make my ladies as happy.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

 

 

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 4/28/15

A whole lot of television this time around, including some really nice BBC Nature

Documentary: Auschwitz: Blueprints for Genocide, Battle of Britain: The Real Story, Trek: Spy on the Wildebeest, Tiger: Spy in the Jungle, Life on Location, Lions: Spy in the Den, Bears: Spy in the Woods, Elephants: Spy in the Herd, Churchill’s First World War, Death Camp Treblinka: Survivor Stories, End Day, The First World War from Above, From Here to Infinity, Goering’s Last Secret, The Science of Doctor Who, The Search for the Holy Grail, Supermassive Black Holes, Swimming with Killer Whales

Drama: D-Day

Chasing Ghosts

Family: Chasing Ghosts

Foreign: Living is Easy with Eyes Closed

A Girl Walks Home Alone

Horror: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Planet Earth

Television: Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, The Life of Mammals, The Life of Birds, David Attenborough Wildlife Specials, Nature’s Great Events, Nature’s Great Events: Diaries, Earth: Power of the Planet, Egypt, Expedition Borneo, Filthy Cities, Generation Earth, Great Raids of World War II, How to Grow a Planet, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Killing Hitler, Nature’s Weirdest Events, Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial, Ocean Giants, Our World War, Scooby Doo!: Mystery Incorporated, Young Justice, The World’s War: Forgotten Soldiers of the Empire, Space Odyssey, Supervolcano, A Time to Remember

Sleepaway Camp 2 Unhappy Campers & 3 Teenage Wasteland

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers and Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland are both available on instant Netflix.

It is no surprise that I love horror movies. Since I was about nine, I have viewed cinematic horror as the world’s greatest all you can eat buffet and I have been a glutton. I love monsters and the supernatural.

John Carpenter’s Halloween was one of the first movies to ever scare the tar out of me. What I learned from that was that I loved John Carpenter movies not that I loved slasher movies. I saw Friday the 13th, part 2 at the theater and did not think much of it. I saw, and enjoyed, some other slashers (Prom Night, Halloween II, Terror Train) but they always took second place to good horror stories like Carrie, The Fog, Alien, etc. That said, until today, I’d never seen Sleepaway Camp 2 & 3.

Sleepaway Camp 2

 

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) – Rated R

Five years after a series of violent murders left Camp Arawak looking like Armageddon, the killer returns to the area to work as a camp counselor.”

Say no to drugs!

Keep your morals strong and you’ll never go wrong.”

Sleepaway Camp II begins, as it should, with campers telling cheesy horror stories around a campfire. Naturally this includes a recap of Sleepaway Camp (1983) where they talk about thirty people being killed even though eleven was the actual body count. Oddly, while the impetus for the original killings is mentioned, it is never dealt with in this sequel.

Interestingly, Felissa Rose, who played Angela in Sleepaway Camp (at the age of 13!) did not do another movie for a decade and basically stayed away from movies for two decades. With the rise of the internet and nostalgia for the slasher subgenre, Felissa became a minor celebrity and has since had four dozen roles, almost all of them horror related, including 2008’s Return to Sleepaway Camp. She does not appear in Sleepaway Camp 2 or 3.

Sleepaway Camp II is definitely tongue-in-cheek with the killer tossing off one-liners with each kill. The campers are a ridiculous mix of children and adults making one wonder what kind of a camp has several counselors for each camper. Of course by the end of the film, the ratio is much better. This fault occurs in many other movies, including some of the Friday the 13th movies. There are nods here to the Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Nightmare on Elm Street series of movies.

Pamela Springsteen (Yes, Bruce Springsteen’s sister) takes over the role of Angela for Sleepaway Camp 2 & 3 and her cheerful wholesomeness helps make the movie entertaining. Weirdly, Walter Gotell (The African Queen, From Russia with Love, The Guns of Navarone) plays Uncle John, the head of the camp.

As expected from a late era slasher, Sleepaway Camp II has plenty of sex, nudity, swearing, drug use, violence, and gore. Angela makes it her personal mission to punish all the counselors who have sex, use drugs, swear, or are generally mean. Being the 80s, there is also homophobia on display – somewhat odd, considering Angela’s true nature.

If you like slashers, I was surprised to find this a fun one to watch. If you do not care for slashers, then there is not enough here to recommend.

 

Sleepaway Camp 3

 

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) – Rated R

Angela joins Camp New Horizon after she kills a lookalike and takes her place. And it doesn’t take long before history begins to repeat itself.”

It seems every year I’m at camp someone loses their head.”

Sleepaway Camp III was wisely filmed back-to-back with Sleepaway Camp II to save money. Same director, writer, star, and technical crew unsurprisingly produces pretty much the same film. Instead of Walter Gotell slumming, we have noted character actor Michael J. Pollard (Bonnie and Clyde, Tango & Cash, Danny and Max, Simon and Simon, Melvin and Howard, Little Fauss and Big Halsy, Jack and Jill, Leo & Liz in Beverly Hills – what a weird pattern!).

When you watch them back to back, Sleepaway Camp III suffers from fatigue. The jokes fall flatter and the kills become tiresome. Racism replaces the homophobia (though it is one specific character that is racist so presumably the audience is just waiting for them to fall under Angela’s auspices). Maybe it wasn’t so good to film them back to back. There is no suspense in either film as Angela is front and center killing her way through the campers.

The Awakening Bound

The Awakening & Bound are currently available on instant Netflix

The Awakening

 

The Awakening (2011) – Rated R

A haunted boarding school calls on Florence Cathcart, who disproves hoaxes for a living. But the strange place leads Cathcart to question rationality.”

If you like your horror movies visceral and in your face, The Awakening is not for you. The Awakening is a nice, slow burn story of a haunting (or is it?). The atmosphere is quite wonderful and essentially omnipresent (think The Woman in Black).

Performances are good across the board. Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3) plays Florence Cathcart, a hoax explorer and debunker in post World War I Britain. Dominic West has a tendency to give one of two performances, either wonderfully understated (The Wire) or egregiously over the top (Punisher War Zone). Thankfully, his performance here is of the former category. Imelda Staunton (Maleficent) helps ground the film as a no-nonsense matron.

The Awakening is not as strong as some other story-based hauntings, such as The Changeling, The Orphanage, or The Others, but it is very well done with a good story.

Bound

Bound (2015) – Not rated

A real estate broker meets a younger man who introduces her to BDSM. Sexually fulfilled, she takes charge of her professional and personal life.”

I saw Bound was new to instant Netflix but I thought the fun 1996 thriller from the pre-Matrix Wachowskis was already on Netflix (it is – go watch it!). I had never heard of this 2015 direct-to-DVD ripoff of 50 Shades of Grey. Its tagline is “No Grey. Only Black and White” which is a little too on-the-nose.

Poor Charisma Carpenter. She tried out for the title role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While she didn’t win that role, she obviously did well enough to be cast as Cordelia. Cordelia is not as important as Buffy, Angel, Giles, Xander, and Willow but was an integral part of the team. Word was that she was difficult to work with, perhaps because of disappointment over being sidelined.

She went with David Boreanaz when Angel got his own series. Cordelia was the female lead but was gradually sidelined for whatever reason. Eventually relations between the showrunners and Carpenter got so bad that they stuck Cordelia in a coma for a season before resorting to more drastic measures.

She has had guest spots and occasional runs on various television series since then, the most significant of which was an eleven episode run on Veronica Mars. Unfortunately her career has had a steady downturn, hitting all the usual marks. She starred in a low-budget horror movie, Voodoo Moon, as well as some Lifetime productions.

Now she stars in the Fifty Shades of Grey ripoff, Bound. I decided to give this movie the benefit of the doubt. Well, at least until it began with “The Asylum Presents” which is pretty much the worst way any film can begin.

It did not get better from there. The movie has a laughable view of the S&M world (not as laughable as Pretty Woman’s view of prostitution but I digress). I would love to compare it to Fifty Shades but I have not seen that. I did notice that Carpenter uses the same safe word, ‘Red’, as the heroine in Shades. For those of you with the heart of a teenage boy, yes, Carpenter is in various stages of undress throughout the film, including topless but this film and the script are certainly not flattering to her.

Unless you are a rabid Charisma Carpenter fan, avoid this. I can only think they sold Carpenter on the overall storyline and kept the script from her until filming.

 

New Netflix Streaming Releases for the Week of 4/21/15

Hot Fuzz is a hilarious send-up of cop movies if you haven’t seen it.

Action & Adventure: Noah

Hot Fuzz

Comedy: Chris D’Elia: Incorrigible, They Came Together, Hot Fuzz

Fed Up

Documentary: Fed Up, Keep On Keepin’ On

Drama: Skating to New York

Family: Chasing Ghosts

Foreign: Bhoothnath Returns, No Tears for the Dead, Living is Easy with Eyes Closed

Horror: Altar, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Television: Star-Crossed, Bonjour Les Amis, and new episodes of Baby Daddy

The Key Man

Thriller: The Key Man

Marvel Cinematic Universe and Daredevil

Marvel’s Daredevil is currently available on instant Netflix

Daredevil

 

Daredevil (2015) – Rated TV-MA

“”Marvel’s Daredevil” is a live action series that follows the journey of attorney Matt Murdock, who in a tragic accident was blinded as a boy but imbued with extraordinary senses. Murdock sets up practice in his old neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen, New York where he now fights against injustice as a respected lawyer by day and masked vigilante at night.

Ah, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, how I love thee. My best friend, Patrick, and I used to watch all the superhero movies but he sadly passed away before Iron Man. The last two we got to see were Superman Returns and X-Men: The Last Stand, not exactly stellar examples of their genre.

The MCU movies have been, ummm, marvelous, especially in their intertwining storylines and characters. Iron Man’s humor was a nice counterpoint to the grimness of Nolan’s Dark Knight. The Incredible Hulk was a mighty balm to those who had to suffer through Hulk (2003). Joss Whedon’s The Avengers was a fanboy’s dream.

They weren’t all winners of course. Iron Man 3 was a lazy cash grab but still had its moments. Thor: Dark World was just terribly misguided with the one really good scene being a cameo by Captain America. Marvel recovered though with my two favorite movies of last year, Captain America: Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy.

The idea to have all of these interconnected storylines is wonderful and the determination to continue this on the small screen admirable. Unfortunately Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not a good show. As a fanboy, I keep watching it but honestly its pretty bad. It has a huge hurdle that it doesn’t begin to approach (a superhero show without superheroes or even supervillains). It and the cast have little to no personality. Every once in a while they will throw MCU fans a bone and have Nick Fury or Sif guest star.

If, like me, you don’t care for that then you can have the exact same thing set half a century before with Agent Carter. Agent Carter is fantastic. That is the character, not the show. The show is more of the same, bland characters fighting other bland characters, with only Carter standing out.

When Netflix announced a partnership with Marvel to produce five separate one-season shows, I was intrigued. The idea of having a season each of Daredevil, A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Power Man, and Iron Fist, and then combining the four of them into The Defenders was marvelous (sorry). That I would be able to binge watch each season was a huge bonus. I did have some trepidation though when it was announced that they would be set in the MCU.

I needn’t have worried. Daredevil is amazing. My wife and I binged watched this the past weekend and now I can’t wait for A.K.A. Jessica Jones.

The actors are superb. Charlie Cox is not at all bland as the bruised, blind, and sadomasochistic Matt Murdock/Daredevil. As with CW’s Arrow, we get bits and pieces of Murdock’s backstory each episode but they never overwhelm the current story. The episodes are the beginning of Daredevil’s story though so he does not even have a costume to speak of. Much of the look and feel of the series derive from Frank Miller’s Man Without Fear miniseries.

Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood’s vampire ingenue) is good as Karen Page, who, thankfully, is not just a damsel in distress. Elden Henson effortlessly steals the series as Matt’s law partner, Foggy Nelson. Vincent D’ Onofrio shows quite a range in humanizing Wilson Fisk. The writers too wrote each of these characters well.

Even the supporting cast is good with the standout being Toby Leonard Moore as Fisk’s wonderfully efficient majordomo, Wesley. Vondie Curtis-Hall plays our long-suffering reporter, Ben Urich. Bob Gunton is Leland Owlsley (The Owl in the comics). Ayelet Zurer is Vanessa, Fisk’s love interest.

The writing is astounding and keeps the whole enterprise grounded in reality. All of the events, except flashbacks, take place after “The Incident” in New York (the alien invasion in The Avengers). Daredevil’s abilities are much more subtly conveyed than in the movie version. The violence is extremely brutal, especially for a superhero show. In addition to the well-filmed fight scenes, the show also deals with the aftermath of the brutality.

There are also numerous perks for long-time marvel-ites. Scott Glenn guest stars as Stick in one episode. Melvin Potter appears in a few episodes in a rather specialized occupation and there are nods to his other identity from the comics. Turk appears and is still a low-life who is always getting in trouble. Many other things are hinted at.

Regal 2015 Summer Movie Express

Yay! Summer is almost here and with it, my favorite movies! In addition to that, Regal also has very cheap kids movies every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 in the morning (arrive early – our theater gets very crowded). The program runs for nine weeks but the start date depends on your theater. Here is the web page. In my neck of the woods, they begin on June 9th. This year, they have some options that are not animated but, if I know my granddaughter, those are the ones she’ll skip.

“Admission to the Summer Movie Express is only $1. Tickets available for purchase at the box office and all movies start at 10:00 am. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute.”

Week 1: Nut Job & Annie

The BoxTrolls

Week 2: Earth to Echo & The BoxTrolls

Paddington

Week 3: Paddington & Turbo

Week 4: Rio 2 & How to Train Your Dragon 2

The Book of Life

Week 5: Mr. Peabody & Sherman & The Book of Life

Week 6: Night at the Museum: Secrets of the Tomb & Penguins of Madagascar

Week 7: Madagascar 3 & Dolphin Tale 2

Week 8: Muppets Most Wanted & Alexander and The Very Bad Day

Week 9: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water & The Lego Movie

Regal Cinemas, Ultimate Marvel Marathon, and Ultimate Fan

Regal had a contest recently to find the Ultimate Marvel Fan. Entrants had to send a 15 second video showcasing their MARVELousness. Winners will receive an all expenses paid trip (airfare & single night hotel) to the Mighty Marvel Marathon.

Marvel Marathon

 

11 Marvel Movies in 27 hours! Here is the stage my wife and I put together from the apparently ridiculous number of Marvel items we had in the house.

Marvel Contest

 

My fingers are crossed as the winner will be notified today. Below is my video entry (15 seconds per the rules) if you want to see how silly a grown man can be.

Marvel video

Wish me luck!