First Great Theatrical Experience of 2017 — KONG : SKULL ISLAND in 3D!

It takes a lot to get me out to the theater these days. 2016 was one of my most anemic theater going years. Having only seen a couple movies in the theater (among them the excellent CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR).

The slow movie going year could be linked to several reasons, some personal and singular, and some endemic of larger more encompassing perspectives.

The rise of Netflix and Streaming options has brought cinema quality programming to your living room or bedroom, around your schedule. So no trying to make your schedule fit around a movie showing, and all the baggage of parking, and seats, and annoying crowds, and of course the expense.

So for those reasons and others the theater wasn’t top on my list in 2016.

2017 and I’m incentivized to see quite a few movies in the theater. One reason is the reopening of one of my favorite regional movie theaters, as an upscale adults only dinner and a movie venue.

Perfect for couples or close friends, I decided to check out a matinee showing of KONG : SKULL ISLAND over other available options at this theater (such as LOGAN and JOHN WICK II and GET OUT, all of which I intend to see) for the main reason I wanted to test out the spectacle and 3D quality of this new theater, and what better way than a loud, explosive, monster movie.

So I reserved my seats, picking the perfect seats of course, and quite impressed with their meal and drink menu. Forget the overpriced artery clogging Popcorn and Hotdogs and Candy that comprises the fare of your typical theater, this theater offered a full and quite impressive meal and drink menu, brought to your spacious clean, well kept seats, no less. We had the crabcakes, bistro burger, korean wings, with a Berry Blast drink for me and a Mocha Latte for her. And did I mention the excellent attentive service.

So we are planted in front our huge curved screen, it’s a matinee showing so not only do we have our whole row free, we have our whole section free, with probably a total of less than 20 people in the large yet intimate theater. Meaning the theater and screen is large, but the number of seats are few.

So that’s the setup. What about the movie?

The best part of the Peter Jackson 2005 KING KONG movie, was the one hour period on the island (once we get past Peter Jackson’s annoying portrayal of Native Life as monstrous, evil and subhuman), that one hour was fantastic sequences of monster and Kong Mayhem, and should have been the whole movie.

Once that movie leaves the island it loses all interest and excitement, crawling toward a tepid ending.

KONG:SKULL ISLAND, 12 years after Peter Jackson’s mistake, learns admirably from the flaws of his film, crafting an entire movie on Kong’s home, the Island of Monsters, Skull Island, and it is absolutely kick-ass!

The idea to set it in 1973, at a pivotal time for America and the World, I thought was a stroke of genius and gives real motivation to Samuel L. Jackson’s Ahab inclined character, who see’s in the monster of Kong, this fight, a chance to win the war that he was denied, to change shame into glory. I like the opening, the setup to the actual Mayhem that is Kong, quite a bit, which says a lot about the quality of the filmmaker and the film.

Usually the least interesting part of any monster movie, is the prelude to the appearance of the Monster, when you have to endure boring cardboard characters killing time. That was the issue with the GODZILLA movie by the producers of this film, it was mostly setup and concentration on the human drama, but the humans and the human drama in that movie was as of much interest as watching paint dry.

Here, the setup and the characters feel fleshed out and earned, and part of that is grounding these soldiers in 1973. Survivors, but somehow not victors. Going from one barely war abroad, to a frightening barely understood war at home awaiting them, Skull Island, is very much a reprieve to Jackson’s Colonel. And the men under him, caught in the machinations of dreams of Glory, well they are understood to.

And all the characters are quickly enlisted for this obscure mission, all powerful, compelling actors, not a Jack Black insight. But actors all who can compel and own their time onscreen… their closeups. So I’m thoroughly entertained and into the movie, before Kong goes Ape, so to speak. And when he does go Ape… it is… EPIC!!!

This is why Theaters have value in an age of Netflix and Home Theaters, because a home theater is no match for a commercial theater when you have no annoying audience to deal with, this was the fury of Kong unleashed… this was spectacle, this was Blockbuster, and this was worth every penny paid!

Should you see it in 3D? I typically find 3D is a wasted expense in most situations. I think it is expertly done here, and is really the type of movie that cries out for really good 3D. KONG is really good use of 3D, and I think like AVATAR is a must see in 3D!

KONG is only the second feature film of Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, nothing in his filmography would indicate he could handle a big budget blockbuster of a monster movie, but much like the Russo Brothers of CAPTAIN AMERICA fame (who also came out of feature film obscurity) Roberts rises to the occasion, shattering expectations.

I loved this movie from beginning to end. It blows away recent failures such as GODZILLA and the aforementioned KING KONG, and bodes well for future films. Stay past the trailer for a nice Marvel style Easter Egg.

Grade: A solid and easy B+!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Roku Fire TV FREE VOD/STREAMING Channel of the Weekend : TUBI TV

TUBI TV is not a particularly easy to browse website, however their free streaming channel has one of the largest selections of movies outside of paid options such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and even includes quite a few movies that are available on neither platform.

Here are some titles from TUBI TV that are available this weekend:

FINAL PRAYER- An okay found footage horror film. Third act goes off the rails a bit, but worth a look.

the-apartment-1960THE APARTMENT- One of my favorite Gene Wilder films, an endearing drama/romance starring two of the greats. Jack Lemmon has never been better and the late, great Shirley Maclaine has never been more radiant. A lovely movie. See it for free here then buy the blu-ray. This one deserves to be owned, complete with special features.

jack-lemmon-shirley-maclaine-the-apartment-1960

HENRY THE  V- Kenneth Branagh’s first film, and for my money still his best and most endearing. The quintessential adaption of this most rousing of Shakespeare’s plays.

greatexpectations46GREAT EXPECTATIONS- A 1947 David Lean masterpiece. Groundbreaking camera  work and lighting.

burrowersTHE BURROWERS – There are two great western-horror hybrids, BONE TOMOHAWK is one, and this is the other.

lifeforceLIFEFORCE- I remember seeing this movie as a kid, blew my mind back then. And as an adult there is much still to appreciate, especially a memorable gravity defying actress. 🙂 Well worth a look.

Haven’t seen the following but intrigued enough to give them a watch this weekend:

AFTER DUSK THEY CAME

HOWLING II

DARK CIRCLES

DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS

LAKE EERIE

BREATHING ROOM

HOWLING (2012)

ALL SOULS DAY

THE TERROR EXPERIMENT

THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHO’S POND

DARKROOM

THE PERFECT HOUSE

THE THIRST

Respond with your own TUBI TV favorites!

 

BLU-RAY Movie of the Day : Antoine Fuqua’s EQUALIZER

“Progress. Not perfection.”

The Equalizer Movie Poster

I know in this day of streaming it’s all the rage to herald the death of physical media.

Allow me to be the voice of dissent.

Streaming is fine for sampling things, and trying things, but for things you love, and intend to watch again, revisit again, give me that feature rich DVD or BLU-RAY any-day, and twice on Sunday.

I love film. And I love cast and Director’s commentary. For films I love, after I consume the film, I like to go back and hear about the process, the experience of making the film.

For a beloved film, it just adds to the enjoyment.

And for cinephiles or hopefuls one day looking to work in some capacity crafting these once celluloid marvels, a commentary by Michael Mann or Ridley Scott or the late great Tony Scott is like being part of the best film school in the world.  It’s enjoyable AND informative.

My favorite movies I might get introduced to on streaming, but providing they have that commentary and special features, I will always buy in Blu-ray/DVD format.

The Equalizer Movie Poster

Antoine Fuqua’s THE EQUALIZER is one of those movies. First the Blu-Ray picture and sound quality is stellar. No buffering issues, or making sure you haven’t gone over broadband quota issues, or weather related or ‘time of day’ issues that can all affect your enjoyment with streaming. No the Blu-Ray, as long as you have your player and power, will be there for you, in the same spectacular quality.

Now moving on to the film itself, while I liked the TV show well enough, I too was incredulous when i heard about a remake. Add to that the odd choice of Denzel Washington to helm a big screen version of a mid-tier show, best known for the Britishness of its protagonist.

But I’m happy to say AntoinE Fuqua and the writers and Denzel Washington do the impossible in making this 80s small screen show, into galvanizing big screen entertainment. From the first frame the story is told, of a man of regimented routine, of  necessary order. Peace, found in the adherence to the space between seconds. A dragon allowed to sleep. Until one day something shatters that routine, that peace, and the dragon must wake.

Fuqua is a director, whose first couple of efforts left me cold, but I have to say he has grown into a great Director. There is such a beautiful patience in this film, that it makes the action scenes when they come, so much more devastating. And a large part of that is Denzel Washington, he brings a laconic, measured weight to the doors he steps through, a gravitas, that really sells the moments he must… wake.

Coming out the same time frame as JOHN WICK, both films share a common theme of men of extreme skillsets being forced back into using those skills. It’s lovely how the same theme of vengeance can be handled so differently, and so well in those differences.

JOHN WICK is a balls to the wall, action extravaganza,  EQUALIZER offers a bit more measured approach, but somehow manages to make every person’s fall more personal for that measured response. Fuqua’s EQUALIZER takes the time to watch the light go out of a man’s eyes. And there is something sobering and frightening about that. I love JOHN WICK, and looking forward to JOHN WICK II, but I love EQUALIZER just as much. The only misstep to EQUALIZER is the poor choice of a rap song for the closing credits, but other than that a home-run of a film.

It is a phenomenal film. Made even more so by the VENGEANCE MODE that the Blu-Ray offers. All in all a grade ‘A’ film, well deserving of owning in Blu-Ray.

 

Get your copy at the link below:

The Equalizer [Blu-ray]

MOVIE OF THE DAY : 1000 ON THE BLACK

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The era of the Spaghetti Western was a prolific and profitable one, running from the mid 60s to the late 70s.To be expected the dreck outweighed the winners. 1000 ON THE BLACK aka BLOOD AT SUNDOWN is one of the winners. Recommended. Catch it courtesy of Amazon Prime.

 

 

Coffin for the Sheriff/Blood at Sundown

Blood At Sundown

Slim of the Day : THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN : FALL OF MAN

We have the technology.

We can rebuild him.

We can make the world’s first Bionic Man.

 

Four decades ago kids everywhere thrilled to that opening of one of their favorite TV shows, The Six Million Dollar Man starring Lee Majors as the titular hero… Steve Austin.

Well New jersey Publisher  Dynamite Entertainment since 2014 has been bringing us various slim revivals of everyone’s favorite slow motion super powered hero.

[Slim- A stapled publication, consisting of words and pictures telling a narrative in periodical format, typically monthly doses, told in scant pages in a highly portable format, with eye catching covers and interiors. Also known by the more widely used misnomer of comic books.]

Six Million Dollar Man Fall #1A

And 2016 mini-series THE FALL OF MAN written by Van Jensen with art by Ron Salas and Letters by Taylor Esposito and colors by Mike Atiyeh and Caitlin McCarthy, is the companies fourth time at bat with this property and is their most successful. As it takes place in the 80s, in a cold world, where the wall has not yet fallen. but the year is never implicitly stated; instead the time is set in inventive and satirical story beats and sight gags.

From 80s star references to a bit of lampooning of the high tech marvels of the day (Such as portable phones in the early 80s, truly monstrously sized things by today’s standards, but back then they were marvels. Same with the room sized computers that had less processing power than even your low-end laptop today); while all the while telling a crackerjack action story of betrayal, globe trotting espionage, and bionic feats of derring-do.

It’s just a fun series.

And while Ron Salas figure drawing at first strikes as merely serviceable, his use of layouts and panel composition and inventive storytelling is exceptional, as are his covers for this series. I’ve read all issues of the series to date, and they have all been exceptional and come highly recommended. 

If late to the party have no fear, as all issues are available at the link below.

Use the below link, get great books, and support this blog, as every purchase though the link, generates a couple pennies to keep this blog bringing you the best in Pop Culture finds!

Without further ado, get your issues of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN : FALL OF MAN here:

 

Six Million Dollar Man Fall (2016 Dynamite) 1ASix Million Dollar Man Fall (2016 Dynamite) 2Six Million Dollar Man Fall (2016 Dynamite) 3Six Million Dollar Man Fall (2016 Dynamite) 4Six Million Dollar Man Fall (2016 Dynamite) 5

 

Holiday Gift Guide: The Essential Bernie Wrightson & Gustave Dore


In an America governed by those who would bury art and bury reason and bury beauty, I think the gift of Art, this holiday season, is more priceless than ever.

Here for your gift giving consideration are some of my favorite art books.

 

 

 

Doré’s Illustrations for Ariosto’s “Orlando Furioso”: A Selection of 208 Illustrations (Dover Fine Art, History of Art)

Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson

Bernie Wrightson’s Frankenstein

The three Books have a common theme… linework. In DORE’S ILLUSTRATIONS FOR ARIOSTO’S ORLANDO FURIOSO it showcases the line work of Gustave Dore, the undisputed 19th century master of the medium.

In Dark Horse Book’s Illustrated FRANKENSTEIN, the 20th century master of line work, Bernie Wrightson provides jaw dropping quintessential illustrations to Mary Shelley’s seminal work of Horror and Science Fiction. And finally CREEPY PRESENTS BERNIE WRIGHTSON is likewise an indispensable overview of the master of pen and ink.

The three together are a welcome addition to any art lovers library!