2013: DAY 48 – FIVE BEST CLASSIC MOVIE SERIALS!

2013: DAY 48 – FIVE BEST CLASSIC MOVIE SERIALS!

Well one of my passions in these first 50 days of the new year, has been classic movie serials. The inspiration for filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, to name a prominent two, movie serials were the pre-television answer to moving pictures’ sequential entertainment. Inspiration for films such as STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES.

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Unlike a standard big budget film,that offered a big complete story, the serials were about giving viewers bite-sized and tasty morsels of thrills and adrenalin inducing entertainment to keep viewers coming to the local movie-house on a weekly basis. And the hallmark of the serial’s formula of thrills was the cliffhanger. A formula that has only relatively recently been put to good effect on television in shows such as 24 and BREAKING BAD.

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But to see this formula at its best you have to experience it via the best of classic movie serials. Unfortunately given the formulaic nature of serials, and the challenges of strict deadlines, and limited budgets, movie serials could often fall into the rut of inane writing, insipid direction and repetitive and sloppy cliffhangers.

The majority of serials I have so far tried, fall victim to the foibles outlined above. However five that do not, that stand out as GREAT serials of the 20th century, that I find incredibly entertaining being introduced to them here in the 21st, are….

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ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL -Wow. Just wow. This is not your father’s Superman. This dude has no compunction about killing bad guys. And it is just a plain entertaining thrill ride.

SPY-SMASHER- Add World War II, A masked crimefighter against the Axis, and add some of the best fight scenes and most energetic cliffhangers and you have this serial. The best of the best.

MYSTERIOUS DOCTOR SATAN- How cool is this villain? So cool that he gets top billing in this serial over the costumed hero?!! A great serial.

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THE CALL OF THE SAVAGE- Tarzan eat your heart out! Some jaw dropping animal stock footage highlights a fun serial that imagines a different kind of jungle boy. Fun and entertaining with great cliffhangers!

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FLASH GORDON:SPACE SOLDIERS- The original 1936 serial (originally just called FLASH GORDON, followed by two sequels the 1938 MISSION TO MARS, and the 1940 FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE) has everything that later versions aspired to but never quite achieved. It is imaginative, fun, audacious, manic, sexy, thrilling and generally balls to the wall good.

Despite the limitations of the day as it relates to special effects, men in suits, lizards with bits added to stand in as dinosaurs, wobbly ships on strings, this serial has something that transcends all these glaring flaws, it is just popcorn chewingly fun! With Flash and his compatriots racing from one hair-raising, adrenaline inducing adventure after another. A combination of insanely imaginative and compelling writing, married to breakneck direction, and whole-heartedly embraced performances adds up to a whole that transcends the admittedly suspect sum of its parts.

And did I mention sexy? Flash at any given time has at least three gorgeous and scantily clad females vying for his attention. The most gorgeous of who appears but briefly in the abode of the Shark Men. Latin and clad in white, you’ll know her when you see her.

And getting back to the jab about men in suits. This serial has one of the scariest men in a monkey suit ever put to film! (and I’ve seen my share!:)) It really is awesomely impressive, and a hugely thrilling and memorable cliffhanger. If there was an academy award given for monkey acting, this guy should have got it. :).

All in all, I have to say one of the best things I’ve seen in this two thousand and thirteenth year of our lord, is this throwaway weekly serial from 73 years ago!! I highly recommend it!

So there you go. In no particular order five of the greatest movie serials ever!

These 12 to 15 part serials are some of the best examples of a medium, of a type of cinematic entertainment that the ascension of the age of television in the 50s brought to an end. However, much like Old Time Radio of the same period,the late 30s to the early 50s, these shows may be past, but thanks to the digital age they are not forgotten and more… are readily available (if you know where to look) so the lucky newcomer is able to sample these treasures of a bygone age at their leisure.

Sample yours today… here:

Flash Gordon: Box Set (Space Soldiers/Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars/Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe) (3DVD)

Adventures of Captain Marvel

TV Review: BREAKING BAD Season #2

It is such a great luxury of our 21st century digital age to be able to watch an Entire season of a television series over the course of a few nights. Particularly when the show is as compelling as BREAKING BAD. I can not imagine having to wait a week between episodes.

The DVD Box Set viewing experience, helps you avoid spending weeks, months, and sometimes years following a show and hoping the season ends well. With the DVD Box Set and reviews, you can be an educated consumer, and more quickly either dismiss a show (DEXTER, JUSTIFIED) or more quickly embrace it(BREAKING BAD, DAY BREAK, KIDNAPPED).

BREAKING BAD is definitely a show to be embraced. It’s addictive, compulsive TV, which giving its subject matter is more than a bit fitting. The show tells the tale of a high school professor with cancer who pursues a most interesting side business to make money.

Well performed, well directed, but it’s the smart and always captivating scripts and dialog, and surprising turns, which really makes this series sing.

I’m definitely ready to see SEASON 3. Grade on Season #2: B+/A-.

Movie Trailer Reviews: RED TAILS and TOWER HEIST

Movie Trailer Reviews: RED TAILS and TOWER HEIST

Just saw two trailers.

I’m pretty darn good at being able to call a film’s quality, just based on the trailer. There are exceptions but more often than not, I’m pretty dead on.

So onto the trailer reviews…

TOWER HEIST… the idea initially sounded okay, Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller in a crime/comedy film directed by Brett Ratner. The trailer is awful. I mean… awful. It is a very bad sign when you can’t even make a 2 minute trailer funny or interesting.

Brett Ratner hasn’t directed a feature film since 2006’s X-MEN:LAST STAND, which unlike some, I liked. However, I didn’t like his previous stabs at funny… such as RUSH HOUR, and TOWER HEIST looks to follow in the same plodding, unfunny footsteps.

Ben Stiller’s last film was the absolutely atrocious LITTLE FOCKERS. A film that was so bad it was painful to watch. As funny as an abortion, and TOWER HEIST seems to be in that mold.

And last but not least, Eddie Murphy. I’m a huge Eddie Murphy fan, but seeing him trying to do the same routine he was doing 30 years ago, is just pathetically sad. And the fault, with a cursory listen, has to fall on the 4 ‘writers’ that put their name to this mess.

All in all, TOWER HEIST is the worst trailer I’ve seen in a long, long time.

2nd trailer is for RED TAILS. Going into it I have a few problems:

1- I’m not a fan of Terrance Howard or Cuba Gooding Jr

2- I think the title (which I understand is a nickname for the flyers) does not work as a film title, and is boring and unimaginative and a detriment to the film at best, much better would be a title like BY THE DAWN’S EARLY NIGHT (heh, heh, just thought that up, I quite like it). It’s just another example of marketing sabotaging films that deal with heroic characters of color. Ala the title of HANCOCK.

Those negatives noted, it has some strong positives.

Most notably that it is written by John Ridley, who is one of the most talented pulp writers since Chester Himes and Jim Thompson. I’m not always crazy about his politics, but he’s a fantastic writer, and every film that he has been the screen writer for (UTURN [based on his fantastic novel], THREE KINGS, and COLD AROUND THE HEART) I consider absolutely brilliant. This will be his first screenplay in almost a decade.

Also, It’s directed by first time feature-film director Anthony Hemingway. This is potentially a negative, but he has some solid TV directing experience, and the trailer looks good. Exciting really.

I’m not really sold on any of the casting, and as stated I think Terrance Howard and Cuba Gooding as the ‘stars’ are going to be the main hurdles for me, I would much rather see actors such as Idris Elba (LUTHER, ULTRAVIOLET, THE WIRE, TAKERS, OBSESSED, THOR)or Michael Jai White (of BLOOD AND BONE and BLACK DYNAMITE) or Eamonn Walker (of KINGS, BLOOD AND BONE) or Taye Diggs (DAY BREAK) helming this film. But it does have a couple interesting actors, namely Andre Royo as well as Bryan Cranston and Lee Tergesen.

So I’d like a name change on this film before its January 2012 release, but that (and my misgivings) aside, I’ll give it my support when it hits theaters.

So a thumbs down for TOWER HEIST and tentative thumbs up for RED TAILS.

Purchase any of the following recommended items using the links below and help support this blog. Thanks:

U Turn

Three Kings [Blu-ray]

Cold Around the Heart

Blood & Bone

Luther

Day Break – The Complete Series (See all Mystery & Suspense Thrillers)

Black Dynamite (See all Crime Movies & TV)