Streaming VOD Channel Review : FILMRISE HORROR – For week ending Saturday 27 Oct 2018

So while I advocate always keeping things you LOVE in physical media, DVDs , Blurays, CDs, etc; the beneft of Streaming and Digital is that it is GREAT for exploring, and finding out what out there is worth having. Most things aren’t, so Streaming is great for a try before you buy methodology, or simply finding new things to watch right now

This installment’s channel up for review is FILMRISE HORROR.

FILMRISE HORROR  – nice interface and good Halloween selection for this free ad -supported VOD/Streaming channel. Also I like that it gives the movies ratings. The lack of ratings and trailers is one of the reasons I left Netflix. Highlight of this channel, as we gear up for Halloween, are:

  • BIG BAD WOLF – readily available on other chaneels, it is always a good one to watch
  • CREATURE – nice 80s Alien ripoff. But despite that, a good although cheesy watch
  • SWAMP SHARK – I’ve actually been meaning to watch this one. A shark in the swap? I’m there! 🙂
  • ALIEN CONTAMINATION – Another film I have been meaning to check out
  • IMAGES i This is a FANTASTIC early Robert Altman film, during his very experimental phase. With stunning cinematography and a brilliant discordant score this is a film I m proud to own on Bluray. But it is good to know streaming channels are showing it some love.
  • MEMORY OF THE DEAD – another one I want to take a look at
  • MANEATER – Gay Busey fights a Tiger. I’m there. 🙂
  • LYCANTHROPE – I’ll try most horror films that have to do with Werewolves.
  • NIGHT OF THE DEMON – I’ll try  most horror fiilms that have to do with Bigfoot.
  • STRIGOI – sounds intriguing
  • BITE MARKS – intriguing sounding Vampire flick
  • THE 4th FLOOR – a top notch cast in this interesting sounding film about an apartment build and a dangerous neighbor
  • SPIDERS and SPIDERS 2- I saw SPIDERS 2 and really, really enjoyed it. So looking forward to watching the first one.
  • BLOODWORX- I remember this being pretty good
  • DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE – interested in seeing this made for TV version
  • LARVA – intrigued
  • FRANKENSTEIN – A 2015 vod version. May be worth a look.
  • WITHER – A swedish I believe, version of EVIL DEAD. A good film.
  • BLOOD PUNCH – Fantastic. Lots of fun.
  • DER SAMURAI – Disturbing, slow burn film, that is worth a watch.
  • IN THE SPIDERS WEB – Another fun Lance Henriksen horror film

All in all, this week FILM RISE HORROR has plentiful selections, good quality, a nice interface, and effective ratings to help you narrow in on a choice, unfortunately the ads are WAY too invasive and plentiful. Grade for this channel is : D-. It is not worth adding to your list.

THE FILMRISE HORROR CHANNEL GETS A FAIL. Do not subscribe to it this week.

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AVENGERS INFINITY WAR : THE LAST WORD Review

 

I have been off the movie radar for a bit.

I go in cycles like that.

Last movie I saw in the theater (twice) was the excellent BLACK PANTHER Directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by filmic juggernaut, Marvel Studios.

Today a few minutes ago I just got done watching AVENGERS INFINITY WAR courtesy of Amazon Prime, and streamed right in the comfort of my home.

It is definitely a movie that would have been great seen  on a huge full size theatrical system, but as I said timing and interest sometimes works out for me to hit the theater, sometimes it doesn’t.

The movie, AVENGERS INFINITY WAR finally seen ( I avoided trailers, special features, reviews etc) it is ten years of Marvel Studios, and ten years of world building codified and paid tribute to; it is not just a great movie, it is a great mythology. It is that first story told around the raging fire to keep back the night. It is everything you want a film to be.

To call it just a superhero film is perhaps to miss the point, and the enduring power and place these four color heroes have held first on the comic page, and now the cinematic stage.

They are our modern myths writ large, and this film by the capable Russo Brothers improves and transcends the source material, to tell tales both of massive victories and massive defeats, but always managing to ground it on a very personal level.

The movie made me laugh, it made me cheer, it made me tear up, and it made me silent. A whole gamut of emotional states in a mere couple of hours. The Russo Brother’s have helmed yet another masterpiece and this one being their best and most haunting yet. Raising the stakes but not losing the man on the ground perspective, that make these films so relateable.

Tales of Gods and Monsters yes, but hinged on wheels of faith and loss and sacrifice and love.

The wheels all of us, can understand and be moved by.

There are reasons to be concerned about a monotheistic Movie Landscape, with all studios gobbled up by the mouse. I do not feel Disney acquiring Marvel Studios was a good thing. I do not feel the Lucas properties being engulfed by them is a good thing. I do not feel the Fox acquisition is a good thing.

I think in the long term this monotheistic film landscape is a very bad thing for culture, and choice, and competition. I think in the long term there are anti-trust and anti-competition issues that will affect all of us; whether fans or not, of these films. But those are fights and concerns separate from the actual review of this one singular film.

This one singular film, celebrating the 10th year of Marvel Studios unprecedented dynasty is filmmaking done as well as it can be done, on a scale and scope that is nearly as mythic as the story itself. I loved it. Full Stop. It is right in the mix with my top 5, being in no particular order AVENGERS, BLACK PANTHER, WINTER SOLDIER, CIVIL WAR, and this one… INFINITY WAR.

Grade: A+. As a fan of METROPOLIS and GREED and SEARCHERS and LION IN WINTER, even though this movie is a ‘Super-hero’ movie and a Blockbuster, and is popular, it is every bit as great and serious and beautiful a film as those lauded classics. It is a new minted classic, and will stand the test of time.  From script, to direction, to special effects, to performances, especially performances, allowing the actors to act under those layers of makeup and costumes and CGI, the film is a rare achievement.

I look forward to the sequel. And I look forward to buying this film on DVD/Blu-Ray, and watching again, and enjoying the film commentary.

You can get your Blu-Ray here:

https://amzn.to/2obFhvS

 

 

Rating the FILMS! The best and worst Superboy/Superman Movies!

 

MOVIES -from best to worst-

      1. SUPERMAN- One of my favorite films. Solid A+. And yes he does that at the end, and I’m completely good with. I’ve read more Superman comics, than most of you will ever read, and I’m cool with the changes. You know why, because its a fantastic film.
      2. SUPERMAN II -I’ve seen both versions,I prefer the theatrical version to the Director’s cut. Though there are peices of the Director’s cut that would be nice added to the Theatrical version. But yeah if you are someone hung up becauise of the expanding shield, and other nifty heretofore unknow SuperPowers, you do know this is a movie right. Let the creator’s take some artistic license, and sit back and enjoy! A solid B+. http://amzn.to/2HAzQxZ
      3. Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Superman Returns (#3 of 9)SUPERMAN RETURNS – People give this movie and Director Bryan Singer a lot of hate, and I frankly love this movie. There are several amazing set sequences in this film, Brandon Routh is great, and so is Kevin Spacey and it works very much as a followup to the original Christopher Reeve SUPERMAN. People having a problem with the messiah imagery and the stalking/creepiness factor of a guy who sees and hears all, than don’t effing go see a movie called Superman, about a God like being who can hear from across the world, if you call his name. And yes the movie has Luthor, and yes it is a land deal, and yes I don’t have a problem with either of those. I think they put enough of their own twists into the story, to make it fun. And worth the price of admission for the plane and machine gun sequences by themselves. A solid B+. http://amzn.to/2DqL0mA
      4. BATMAN V SUPERMAN- Some people complain about this movie, the theatrical version especially. But I think that’s because we have become a tail wags dog society, where people live to complain, and look to complain, rather than going in looking to enjoy. Don’t get me wrong there are some valid issues with the movie, they try and do too much in the movie, adding easter eggs that aren’t earned, and just confuses and slows the movie they are trying to tell. The flash appearance is horrendous, because the person doesn’t look like any character we have ever seen. So it is just a WTF moment that confuses even comic heads, much less those unfamiliar. The third act villain of (spoiler alert) Doomsday, is the very definition of bad cgi. But everything else I think the film knocks out of the park. The reason the heroes come into conflict worked, and the reason they cease fighting, also works for me. All in all I liked the theatrical version quite a bit. And I even liked the longer version even better. Grade: B/B+.  http://amzn.to/2Ds57Rl
      5. MAN OF STEEL – This Syder film suffered from the lack of a moral center, it was all bombast and fire with no thought of the human impact, so the whole film was more an orgy of video game violence to the point of absurdity. The failure of MAN OF STEEL would however benefit BATMAN V SUPERMAN that had the heart that MOS was missing, Grade: D.

Dishonorable mentions:

SUPERMAN 3- What an odd choice to add Richard Pryor to a Superman movie. D-.

SUPERMAN 4 – unwatchable

Honorable Mention:

ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL SERIAL(1941) – Not a Superman movie, however this great serial decades before the Christopher Reeve movie, sported impressive flying scenes, and surprisingly brutal action sequences. Lives up to its billing as one of the greatest serials of all time!

http://amzn.to/2pdbtyO

 

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!

THE LAST WORD : SUPERMAN II Richard Lester Theatrical Version vs SUPERMAN II Richard Donner Cut!!

https://art-s.nflximg.net/a51de/87597ad788e1e7e1adb2f9171df6be8aca8a51de.jpg

 

Netflix is showing the theatrical cut of SUPERMAN II. Anyone who tries to tell you the Richard Donner cut of SUPERMAN II is better than the Richard Lester theatrical version is quite frankly deranged.

Okay maybe that’s a bit harsh (no it is not) but while there are pieces of the so-called Donner Cut that would be nice added into the theatrical cut, most notably the Marlon Brando scenes in the fortress of Solitude are essential, and the extended scenes with Luthor and Ms. Teschmacher are just a lot of fun (I strongly recommend getting the DVDs of both and cutting those scenes into the Theatrical cut to create something I call the improved cut. It will wow you).

as a whole the theatrical cut of SUPERMAN II is vastly superior and more satisfying then the Donner cut. Full stop.

The opening is vastly superior in the theatrical cut, as is the reason for Zod’s escape from the phantom zone. And the ending of the Donner cut, SUPERMAN turning back time again, is just lazy and stupid, from a creative level, and makes the memory wiping kiss in the theatrical version look like a stroke of genius.

And yes the theatrical version takes liberties with Superman’s powers, force beams, mirage powers, using the shield on his suit as a net, but I never had a problem with these scenes… because they were fun. And really, in for a penny… in for a pound, once you sign off on heat vision and cold breath, then mirage powers, and force blasts, and memory wiping… seems like just enjoying the ride.

Both versions skate over the final reckoning of the defeated villains, so neither version is perfect, but of the two the theatrical version is head and shoulders better. In my opinion Donner wanting to end the 2nd movie with the same unsatisfying gimmick he ended the first film with, like I said, is just lazy writing and unimaginative thinking. I could clearly see based on that, why the studios replaced him.

Final verdict?

The Richard Lester SUPERMAN II theatrical film, trounces the Richard Donner SUPERMAN II Cut by a mile.

Get your copy here:

 

Superman II (Two-Disc Special Edition)

What I’m Watching : SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006) Revisited after 10+ years!

Dracula Movie Poster

Recalling this is Frank Langella’s Birthday and how much I’m enamored of his performances (particularly his DRACULA I think is hypnotic and astounding), I went looking for films courtesy of streaming/VOD and I came across SUPERMAN RETURNS.

 

Superman Returns Movie Poster

Unlike the vocal few, I’ve always liked Bryan Singer’s SUPERMAN RETURNS. It is not perfect but its weaknesses are minor, and its strengths… deserving of praise.

Watching it today, over 10 years after its release, the film holds up. It is visually stunning to look at, gorgeously filmed and sumptuously framed, outright beautiful. Going for and achieving that feeling of awe, that particularly the first Richard Donner Superman was able to achieve, And it has that romanticized feel, and familial pacing, and doe-eyed optimism that both of the first two Donner Superman movies were able to achieve. But all of this lensed through Bryan Singers unique and ambitious take, his more otherworldly, take on the Man of Steel.

Where some people only saw ‘stalker’ Superman, those of us acquainted with reason, saw an obvious moral quandary tackled head-on. You want a being that can hear you when you call? The price and burden of this means he is always listening and always watching. So the film plays wonderfully with this idea of mensh unt Ubermensh. Of Man and Superman, and the burdens and trials of both.

The film does lose itself toward the end, but not enough to keep the journey from being rewarding, and memorable and fun.

This film falling in solid Bronze medal contention as one of the best Superman Movies of all time, beat out only by those two films that it is a natural sequel and follow-up to, Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II.

MAN OF STEEL, as well as the other post Donner Christopher Reeves films are all left far in this films wake.

My grade after revisiting SUPERMAN RETURNS after 10+ years?

Well, Great Bryan Singer Direction, excellent visuals, stunning production design by Guy Hendrix Dyas, great performances by Brandon Routh and Kevin Spacey and Tristan Lake Leabu as Lois’s son.  Also the flying scenes (all of them but particularly, That flight with Lois, a definite homage to the iconic scene in the first film, and I think it’s great),the plane scene, the yacht saving scene,the Daily Planet globe scene, the eye scene, the car scene that is a homage to a classic comic book cover, the mensh unt ubermensh overtones, and just the sheer fun of it, all of that is a solid A.

If you watch those scenes and don’t feel a sense of awe, possibly you shouldn’t be watching a film called SUPERMAN or there may be something fundamentally broken in you. 🙂

Now in the minus column you have that the Lois Lane performance sometimes grates and the general denouement/climatic battle/wrapup didn’t quite work for me (through I appreciate it more on re-watching then when I initially saw it in the theaters), those are a C- at best.

So averaged together the film as a whole is still a solid B+.

[possible spoilers]Too bad Bryan Singer didn’t get to follow this up, as I would have liked him exploring the dynamics of a SUPERMAN with a family, and a kryptonian impervious to kryptonite, and just some of the other ingenious ideas touched on in this film.[spoilers done]

Revisit it yourself on Netflix or better yet get the Blu-ray with Directors Commentary. The film will stand the test of time against the cynics, romance always does. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.

 

 

Superman: The Movie / Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut / Superman Returns [Blu-ray]

Superman Returns (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Drácula (Blu-Ray) (Import Movie) (European Format – Zone B2) (2013) Frank Langella; Laurence Olivier; Donald P

Favorite Televsion Shows: OUTER LIMITS Season 1 What’s Hot & What’s Not!

HOT

THE MICE– The high contrast and deep focus photography of this episode by the brilliant Conrad Hall is a standout, as is the performances of all involved, particularly the always reliable Henry Silva as Chino, a convict asked to volunteer for a decidedly out of this world mission. And the episode is enriched by Diana Sands, a brilliant actress of stage and screen, who simply shines here as Dr. Julia Harrison. Directed by Alan Crosland Jr, a go to director for television for over three decades, it sports one of the more disturbing aliens. A Solidly captivating episode. B.

NOT

DON’T OPEN TILL DOOMSDAY – There has to be a point to this episode, but I find myself unable to locate it. Grade : Avoid. This is a decided miss.

 

Catch these episodes and more at Hulu today!