Film Review: Justice League (2017)

Release Date: October 26th, 2017 (Beijing premiere)
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon, Zack Snyder
Based on: Characters from DC Comics
Music by: Danny Elfman
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Jesse Eisenberg (cameo), Joe Manganiello (cameo)

Access Entertainment, DC Entertainment, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Atlas Entertainment, Cruel and Unusual Films, Warner Bros., 120 Minutes


“I miss the days whens one’s biggest concern is exploding wind-up penguins.” – Alfred Pennyworth

Pardon my French but this was fucking unwatchable.

How does a film with a $300 million dollar budget in 2017 look like absolute dog shit? I have a rule, if you have a massive budget, you need to look as good or better than the original Lord of the Rings trilogy because those movies are getting close to twenty years old and they still look pretty perfect. Is technology regressing? Are the digital artists just shit now? What the hell happened with this picture?

The best way to describe this film is “CGI shit storm”. It was like someone took a bunch of unfinished, random CGI pieces, threw them in a blender and pureed that shit for two hours.

Hell, this makes Suicide Squad look like a f’n masterpiece by comparison.

The absolute worst thing about this film isn’t even the Sharknado looking special effects, it is Ezra Miller’s Flash. He’s an annoying, unfunny douchebag that is supposed to be comedic relief but is about as effective as Jay Leno trying to use Dane Cook’s material. He’s your token eccentric weirdo millennial hipster that did the most un-Flash-like thing ever by showing up late to the kooky character pop culture party. We’ve seen the type, it sucked before and it sucks now.

The film’s script and story is terrible. This is a hard film to follow, not because it is complicated but because it is a nonsensical mess that just feels like a two hour trailer and not an actual movie with some sort of a cohesive plot. In fact, it is hard to straighten out my thoughts and write much of a cohesive review because my brain is still spinning from the CGI puree. Anyway, I wrote better comic book stories when I was seven years-old and drunk.

Not a single character in this film is interesting in any way. Flash, again, sucks. Cyborg also sucks. Wonder Woman looked bored. Aquaman was token Momoa backed by CGI that defied the laws of physics in every way. Batman was boring. Superman was even more boring and his lovey dovey bullshit with Lois Lane trying to bring him back to normalcy was so cringe worthy it rivals the romance scenes between Padme and Anakin from Attack of the Clones. Yes, it was that fucking bad.

But hey, we get a cameo from Jesse Eisenluthor and Deathstroke. “Boo” for Luthor. “Hells Yeah!” for Deathstroke.

As far as the villain goes, didn’t Wonder Woman kill that same guy in her movie? Is every DC villain going to be some throwaway character no one cares about that resembles some ancient mythological god? That’s boring. And people think Marvel has a villain problem in their movies. I mean they do but DC makes Marvel’s faults look like strengths with how bad most of these movies have been.

I will never watch this film again and I have serious doubts that I’ll care for any other DC Comics movie for a very long time.

The only real positive about this film is that it wasn’t thirteen hours like Batman v. Superman. But really, it was still two hours too long.

Rating: 1.75/10
Pairs well with: Well, I guess the other really shitty DC Comics films, as of late.

Film Review: Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

Also known as: Blacula II, Blacula is Beautiful, Blacula Lives Again!, The Name is Blacula
Release Date: June 27th, 1973
Directed by: Bob Kelljan
Written by: Joan Torres, Raymond Koenig, Maurice Jules
Music by: Bill Marx
Cast: William Marshall, Pam Grier, Don Mitchell, Michael Conrad, Lynne Moody, Richard Lawson

Power Productions, American International Pictures, 96 Minutes


“Your bread, man, all of it! Or are we gonna have to become anti-social and kick your ass?” – Pimp, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any ‘bread’ on me, and as for ‘kicking my ass’ I’d strongly suggest you give it careful consideration before trying.” – Blacula/Mamuwalde

Blacula was a better than decent attempt at merging blaxploitation cinema with classic horror. It also did fairly well for American International, so a sequel was pretty much a no brainer.

William Marshall came back but that was it. But if you need to find someone to replace Vonetta McGee, one of the queens of blaxploitation pictures, you hire the other queen, Pam Grier.

This film also brings in a voodoo twist and its a voodoo ritual that resurrects the bones of Blacula and brings him back into the world once again. Grier also plays a voodoo practitioner that becomes the apple of Blacula’s eye since his beloved African princess isn’t in this tale. All things considered, while I loved Marshall and McGee playing opposite of one another, I really liked Marshall’s chemistry with Grier too.

The gist of the story is about how a voodoo priestess, Lisa Fortier, chooses an apprentice to be her successor that isn’t the man destined to be her true heir. The rejected heir becomes outraged, buys the bones of Blacula and uses his powers to bring the vampire back to life. The evil voodoo heir needs Blacula to help him get revenge but Blacula turns him into a vampire and enslaves his spirit. As the film rolls on, Blacula ends up with a large vampire horde that is hard for him to control and after being smitten with Grier’s Lisa, he must protect her from his own children of the night.

While this isn’t as good as the first Blacula, it isn’t a huge step down either. I liked Grier, a lot. I also liked the voodoo element and the fact that it came with its own twists and powers that could be exploited in this tale of hungry rogue vampires. Plus, William Marshall just looked so comfortable in the role. While he isn’t the traditional Dracula, he brings a certain gravitas and legitimacy to the Dracula mythos and holds his own against some of the greats. He’s certainly better as a Dracula-esque character than the vast majority of actors who stepped into the role of a vampiric aristocrat.

Scream Blacula Scream was good enough to at least warrant another sequel but alas, this was the last film in the short-lived Blacula series. There have been rumors of a remake for years but nothing has ever actually materialized. But I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Blacula as the undead never truly stay dead.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Blacula, of course! I also like watching these paired with those two Count Yorga movies from the same era and also put out by American International.

Book Review: ‘Leave No Doubt: A Credo For Chasing Your Dreams’ by Mike Babcock & Rick Larsen

*Written in 2015.

Mike Babcock is already one of the greatest ice hockey coaches of all-time. He is the only coach to win the Stanley Cup, the World Championship and gold at the Olympic Games. He is also still pretty young and has a lot of years ahead of him, considering he recently signed a deal making him the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs for at least a decade. So who wouldn’t want to read his words of wisdom?

It is rare that a leader as great as Babcock allows someone to get inside their head. This book is certainly a treat in that respect. He has accomplished a lot but he is still very down to Earth and humble. It isn’t a book about ego or his accolades, it is more or less a book about how his attitude and passion helped him achieve victory on the ice and in life.

It is a short book but it doesn’t need to be an epic. He goes through all of the big parts of his career and describes his mindset and how he overcame and succeeded in the face of hard challenges.

The book teaches leadership and attitude management in a very straightforward and practical way. Most of what Coach Babcock says in this book is common sense but Leave No Doubt is a solid piece of work that exists to serve as a reminder of how one should carry themselves personally and professionally.

His passion is clear and it works as a great motivator while working your way through this quick read. There isn’t much new or world changing in the book but it is one of the best written and straight to the point works on its subject matter.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Tough Guy: My Life On the Edge by Bob Probert and Kirstie McLellan Day, Made In America by Chris Chelios and Kevin Allen

Film Review: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Release Date: April 26th, 2010 (El Capitan Theatre premiere)
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Written by: Justin Theroux
Based on: Iron Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, Jack Kirby
Music by: John Debney
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Jon Favreau, Paul Bettany (voice), Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Leslie Bibb, Gary Shandling, John Slattery, Kate Mara, Olivia Munn (cameo)

Fairview Entertainment, Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures, 125 Minutes


“If you try to escape, or play any sort of games with me, I will taze you and watch Supernanny while you drool into the carpet.” – Agent Coulson

I remember that when I first saw Iron Man 2, I was disappointed. I really hadn’t watched it since it came out but it was nice revisiting it and I was surprised to discover that it was better than I remembered it. Maybe it’s because Marvel movies are a dime a dozen now but this had more of a plot and more character development than most of the massive team-up movies we get today.

This film also introduces us to Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, who would become a major player in the Avengers franchise, and it recasts James Rhodes a.k.a. War Machine with Don Cheadle, who brought more charisma than Terrence Howard and also has much more chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. We also get more of Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury, Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson, small roles for John Slattery and Kate Mara, a cameo by Olivia Munn and others, as well as the addition of Gary Shandling and the return of Leslie Bibb.

The main additions to the film are the villains though. We get Sam Rockwell, recent Oscar winner, as Justin Hammer, a rival of Tony Stark. We also get Mickey Rourke as Whiplash, who is a combination of Iron Man villains the Crimson Dynamo and Whiplash. I liked both men in their roles and thought they had a solid chemistry when they shared scenes together. Whiplash’s backstory was interesting and I actually would have liked to have seen him return. Well, I’d like to see Hammer return too and since he doesn’t die, his return isn’t impossible.

The film isn’t as good or as refined as the original but it expands on the Iron Man pocket of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe that hadn’t reached its apex by 2010. It is a better film than The Incredible Hulk and seeing it now, I like it better than all of the other Phase One Marvel films after the first Iron Man. Although, I am planning to revisit Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger over the next week.

I think that Jon Favreau did a great job directing the first two Iron Man movies. It was a hard task but he accomplished what he set out to do, which was to build a good foundation for the future of the MCU. The entire franchise was born out of Favreau’s vision for Iron Man and I think it was a good vision and a great starting point.

The climax was long but it was much bigger than the simple fight that capped off the first film. Iron Man had his work cut out for him but now having allies made for a much richer finale. I just wish that the actual fight between Iron Man and War Machine against Whiplash wouldn’t have ended so quickly. I felt like Rourke’s character deserved a few more minutes of being a total badass. Then again, he bit off more than he could chew in engaging two men in Iron Man suits.

Iron Man 2 is a better movie than what I thought it was at first glance, back in 2010. Ultimately, it is a fun, larger than life, popcorn flick. It’s a damn good one at that, though. We now live in a world where there’s a half dozen superhero movies per year and that might be a low estimate. Iron Man 2 is better than what has become the standard, as the genre becomes more and more watered down with each comic book movie and television show.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: Iron ManIron Man 3Captain America: Civil War.

Comic Review: G.I. Joe: Omnibus, Vol. 1

Technically, this is Omnibus, Vol. 1 but, as far as I know, there wasn’t a volume two because IDW started reorganizing how they released their G.I. Joe collections after this one hit shelves. And frankly, the way they’ve released collected G.I. Joe stuff has been confusing.

This is where the IDW G.I. Joe universe begins though. And this is a straight up reboot, starting at the very early days of the Joes and Cobra. In fact, while Cobra has a presence in this hefty book, the only real members we even meet are the Baroness, Destro and Dr. Mindbender. As big as this collection is, we don’t even get to meet Cobra Commander by the end of it.

The problem with this omnibus, is that it just sort of ends. It plants a lot of seeds, lays the ground work and then leaves in the middle of the story. I get that this is an ongoing series but I feel as if some sort of story arc should have come to a close. And it’s kind of hard to just pick up where you left off by picking up Omnibus, Vol. 2 because it doesn’t exist.

The story is more or less about the rise of Cobra. Throughout the story, the Joes think it’s a wacky conspiracy theory. Snake Eyes and Mainframe have both gone AWOL and are actually wanted by the Joes. The reality is that they know Cobra is real and they are trying to expose them. On the Cobra side, the Baroness shows up to kill Destro for failing the organization. Destro is able to convince the Baroness that he is on the verge of a major breakthrough with his newest creation, the M.A.S.S. Device (a nod to the first superweapon from the original G.I. Joe cartoon series). We don’t get any real closure to either story, as this book ends in the middle of its multiple plot threads.

This is a good peak into what IDW Publishing was starting with their version of G.I. Joe and I thought that Chuck Dixon, while not Larry Hama, was handling the material pretty well from a writing standpoint. I just wish that IDW kept moving forward with the format they established with this book. However, they started releasing multiple G.I. Joe titles and the order of events became confusing, unless you used IDW’s webpage regarding reading order, as a reference.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Other early IDW G.I. Joe comics leading up to the eventual Cobra Civil War mega event.

Video Game Review: BioShock Infinite (PlayStation 3)

*I played the PlayStation 3 version. The game is also available on Xbox 360, Windows and OS X.

*Written in 2014.

Almost all of what I have read and heard about BioShock Infinite has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, by many it was considered hands down the game of the year in 2013. It was said to be a sequel that exceeded the greatness of the previous titles within its own franchise. People raved about the story, the graphics, the game play. All the hype and hoopla had me thinking that this was a very rare piece of perfection just waiting for me to pick it up and be enchanted by its very existence. Well… I f’n hated it.

I don’t know where to begin other than to say that this game was a mixture of two things, tedious chaos and excruciating boredom. Let me explain.

In regards to it being tedious chaos, when it wasn’t boring, it was just a redundant exercise in blasting waves upon waves of almost seemingly endless enemies. Some battles felt like they went on for days and frankly, I had to wonder what percentage of the town’s population in the game were armed officers of the law, as the in-game ratio of citizens to people shooting at you was about 10,000-to-1. And if they weren’t baddies on one side, they were baddies on the other side, as their was a revolution going on in the game. Differentiating between big brother fascists and revolutionary fascists was pointless and annoying. I just shot everyone, even the chick I was supposed to be protecting because she always happened to get in my way. I guess it is good that bullets seemingly just go through her like magic.

The truth is, this tedious bullshit also got boring. It was as if I was just doing the same bullshit over and over again and ultimately, I kept checking walkthroughs online. Not because I needed help but because I wanted to see how much longer I had to play this goddamned game.

The excruciating boredom came from the fact that often times, like the first two hours of the game, you are just walking around checking out the city. Also, there are just way too many items and things you can pick up throughout the game that you spend about two-thirds of your time searching desks and picking locks to discover more rooms with desks. I like treasure hunts but this just takes that shit too damn far.

As far as the story goes, people have talked it up like it is some amazing tale with a fantastic and mind-blowing ending. These people must spend most of their time taking drugs, drinking shit beer and ingesting monosodium glutamate. It wasn’t even engaging enough to make me want to finish the game. The twist at the end was bullshit and I really didn’t give a crap. The way it ties to the previous BioShock games just seemed like a weak cop out.

This game really just magnified everything that I hate about modern first-person shooters. And I loved the first two BioShock games. The level of sucktitude that this game exudes is painful to me. Well, at least from the rumors I hear, the next game will go back underwater. This Cloud City bullshit is for the birds… literally.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: BioShock and BioShock 2 but they are infinitely better, pun intended.

Film Review: Zombieland (2009)

Release Date: September 25th, 2009 (Austin Fantastic Fest)
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Music by: David Sardy
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Bill Murray, Amber Heard

Relativity Media, Pariah, Columbia Pictures, 88 Minutes


“Are you fucking with me?” – Tallahassee, “Uh, no. You should actually limber up as well. Especially if we’re going down that hill. It is very important.” – Columbus, “I don’t believe in it. You ever see a lion limber up before it takes down a gazelle?” – Tallahassee

I know that a lot of people absolutely love this film. I like it too but I wouldn’t say that I love it. In fact, I haven’t seen it since it was in theaters. I just never really felt like watching it again until now.

To start, the cast is great and I like the chemistry between all of them. But let’s be honest, Woody Harrelson is the scene stealer and the real star of the picture, even though this boasts the talents of three young stars who would all have great careers beyond this movie: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin. But even when the legendary Bill Murray shows up for a cameo, Harrelson steals that scene as well.

But it is the characters that make this movie work so well. They all just gel and you genuinely care about them, even though you just get to scratch the surface with this quartet at only an 88 minute running time.

I guess the only really big negative about this film is the finale. The girls decide to go to an amusement park for fun, albeit when it’s dark out in a world that is plagued by zombies and no security guards. Somehow, the park has power, the girls turn all the lights and rides on and are suddenly shocked when they are immediately overwhelmed by zombies.

Before this idiotic outing, the film spent an hour showing that these girls were smart and cunning con artists. So their complete stupidity to set up the big final battle is just baffling as all hell. And while I can suspend disbelief, I can’t ignore blatant and colossal idiocy.

And how the hell did they control the rides while riding them? Carnival rides aren’t automated, they have operators that hit buttons on a control panel to start and stop the ride. In the real world, one would have to ride while the other one had to hit the buttons on the control panel. I mean, despite the cool fact that we got to see zombie mayhem in a theme park, the set up and reasoning behind the sequence is asinine and ludicrous.

But the movie is supposed to be fun and I get that but I can never accept the rampant stupidity of the characters in the last twenty minutes.

All that being said, there isn’t a whole lot here that’s unique. There are zombies and you have to survive. There really isn’t anything about this movie to make it special and there isn’t an original twist that allows it to be its own thing in a genre that ran its course a long, long time ago. I mean, you could say that comedy is the twist but this is far from being the first zombie comedy.

I guess the only thing that works is that I like the characters and the actors. Well, I’m not a big Eisenberg fan but he was fine in this role, as it’s sort of the type of character I imagine him being. Woody Harrelson is, by far, the real highlight and the Bill Murray cameo is a lot of fun.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Shaun of the DeadCoootiesScouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse