Thursday, October 13, 2016

First Time Watches: September 2016

It’s not the end of September as I’m writing this.  In fact, it is currently thirteen days into the month.  I’m starting this post early.  With being back in school, it’s going to be better to keep on top of.  I’m going to try and keep up with the movies as I watch them, or at least get close to that.  It’ll lead to the post going up earlier.  It will lead to my not having to struggle through writing this whole post while also working through other writing I have to do and school assignments.  So, that’s why I’m starting this so early.

This is my monthly post about my first time watches.  During September, I watched 19 movies for the first time.  Many stories were told on the screens I watched movies on.  There was a battle between dads.  There was a battle for a bar.  A woman got lost in the woods, and two men got lost in the woods.  There was a murder, some marijuana dealing, and the busting of a drug ring by a police officer and his sister’s future husband.  And that doesn’t even cover everything.
The Forest
I don’t know what I expected.  I’m not a huge fan of movies set in the woods.  After seeing so many low budget horror movies that used the setting, it is tiresome to see yet another film take place there.  Only a stellar movie set in the woods is going to capture me.  This was not one of those.  It felt like it went on forever.  A woman slowly started unravelling but it wasn’t enthralling enough to keep me invested.  I had hopes, for whatever reason, and they weren’t met.
Budz House
This was interesting.  The stupidity made it easy to sit through.  It was a series of stories that played out, ended, and led into the next.  It all built to a climax that was anti-climactic in the most ridiculous way.  Budz House is a movie that I’m going to remember.
Anatomy of a Murder
As much as the title might have you thinking that a murder will be deeply analyzed, this movie is more about the way that trials happen in the United States.  The defense will do whatever they can to win.  The prosecutor will do whatever they can to win.  They twist evidence in any way they need to in order to make their side look like the right side.  Court cases are all about manipulation.  That’s what Anatomy of a Murder shows.  It brought in great performances by the entire cast and a true case that was gripping until the very end.  For the time that it was made, the material in the court case was controversial.  It still hits hard now.  This is a movie that should be seen by and taught to everyone.
Ride Along
Tim Story is a directors who is never great but he’s never terrible.  He made two okay Fantastic Four movies.  He was the man behind Barbershop and Think Like a Man.  Ride Along is more of the same, taking Ice Cube from the Barbershop franchise and Kevin Hart from the Think Like a Man franchise, putting them together, and letting funny stuff happen.  There were a few great moments but most of it was standard buddy comedy joking.  I’ll see the second one at some point.
Redneck County Fever
I have no idea what this movie was supposed to be.  It was released in 2001 but clearly made about a decade prior.  Two bro-type characters ended up stranded in a redneck town in what can only be assumed to be Texas.  They bumbled their way through dangerous situation after dangerous situation.  Then everything got resolved quickly and the movie ended.  More mysterious than why that story had to be told is the movie itself.  Very little is known about it.  The DVD case features one actor name.  There were no credits in the movie.  It’s a mystery that will likely never be solved.
Daddy’s Home
Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell together again.  This isn’t as good as their other co-starring movie, The Other Guys, but it’s still entertaining.  It would be a good movie to put on in the background and enjoy bits and pieces of without having to focus on what is happening on screen.  Sometimes that’s a good thing.
Road House 2: Last Call
What is there to say about this direct-to-video sequel to the 1989 Patrick Swayze classic?  It doesn’t live up to the name Road House.  Instead of showing roadhouse life with an action storyline surrounding it, it’s a drug story that happens to feature a roadhouse as a location.  The roadhouse doesn’t become a character in the way that The Double Deuce managed to.  It doesn’t have its own story arc.  It’s just a place that the bad guys want so they can run drugs.  Also not helping was the lead actor who seemed like a cardboard cut-out.  Meh.
The Purge: Anarchy
The first movie in the franchise was underwhelming.  It presented the idea of an outside world where chaos reigned but kept the action in one house as people tried to break in.  It was a simple home invasion movie with the wasted potential of an interesting idea.  This sequel gave a look at the outside world.  A group of people travelled through a lawless city.  It felt like The Warriors, but in the world of The Purge.  There is a vast difference between The Purge and The Purge: Anarchy.  The sequel is leagues above the original, and an example of changing things up for a sequel in a way that improves upon an established idea.
The Purge: Election Year
The third installment blended the first two stories in a way that kept things interesting.  There was both a home invasion sort of story and the travelling through the city story.  What this one brought to the franchise was an even more apparent political punch.  Anarchy brought up the 1% versus 99% thing.  Election Year furthered it and brought the politics to the forefront.  It ended up being a sort of war between the people who started purge night and the rebels fighting to stop it.  It’s not quite as good as the second installment, if only because the action set-pieces were better in that one.  It is still highly entertaining and will be a movie I revisit.  Frank Grillo is the action star we need.
If you’re going to tell a non-linear story in the style of Pulp Fiction, you damn well better have the stories make sense.  They can tie together, but they should wrap up at the end.  Woodfalls didn’t hit that mark.  The first part of the story didn’t quite make sense and just kind of ended when something crazy happened.  There was no explanation until the end of the movie.  The second part made sense, at least.  It wasn’t entertaining but it made sense.  The third part tied everything together and brought new light to the first part.  The story would have been better told linearly, with the stories being spread throughout.  It would feel neater and would be more entertaining.  Pretty bad stuff.
Death Tube
Saw has influenced many horror movies since the franchise began in 2004.  One of those movies is 2010’s Death Tube from Japan.  The movie took the YouTube concept of online video players and filled it with murder.  People had to participate in games and learn lessons or else they would die.  It hasn’t gotten good reviews but seemed perfectly fine.  It was entertaining, there were characters that I didn’t want to die, and it showed how horrific the idea of streaming could be.  It also dealt with desensitization.  It did its job, and that’s all I could have asked for.
The Magnificent Seven
This is the 2016 version.  The cast is great.  The action is great.  The story is obviously great since it keeps getting remade in various forms.  Sure, nothing beats Seven Samurai.  But that doesn’t make this incarnation any less good.  It’s one of the best action westerns to come out this decade.  Antoine Fuqua managed to reteam with Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington to make a magical action movie.  I loved it.
The Witch
Period piece horror movies aren’t always my thing.  The earlier eras that are depicted don’t tend to pull me in.  I felt this way with the first half of The Witch.  I wasn’t much into the early American setting and the slow pacing only helped to push me out.  I like slow burn, but something about the slowness and the setting gets me bored.  About halfway through, I kicked on the subtitles to better understand the characters.  That was also the point where things picked up in the movie and I went from being kind of bored to loving it.  I wouldn’t say it’s an amazing movie.  That last half makes up for the first half, though, by a country mile.  Whatever that turn of phrase means.
Iliza Shlesinger: Confirmed Kills
When you think of overdone styles of comedy, you think of that guy who gets up on stage and goes “You know women.  They act like THIS, but us guys, we act like THIS!”  Iliza Shlesinger’s entire set was that, except it was from a woman’s perspective.  It’s not a style of comedy that I like.  I should have expected it since I’ve seen one of her previous specials.  Yet I still chose to watch this one.  It was okay.  Derivative, but fine.
This movie is complete garbage.  It feels like someone attempted to make an Asylum-style movie and couldn’t stick the landing.  There were soldiers fighting spiders.  When I say that, I mean that there was a good five to ten minutes showing these soldiers standing on the same landing on the stairs shooting spiders as they approached.  There were long periods of repetitious action.  The acting was bad, the action was bad, and the effects were bad.  Most of all, it lacked fun.  I cannot endorse this movie at all.
Fred Ott’s Sneeze
There isn’t much to Fred Ott’s Sneeze.  It was an early film, made in 1894 that was made to show what film could do.  It was a guy sneezing.  That’s it.  I watched it in film class.
L’Arroseur Arrose
Much like the last one, this is a short, early film.  It was made in 1895 by Louis Lumiere.  It is thought to be the first movie with an actual story.  A gardener watered things when someone disrupted him.  Then he chased the person.  Again, I watched it in film class.
Little Dead Rotting Hood
This story has been told many times, but The Asylum decided to put their stamp on it.  Red Riding Hood became sexy, there were werewolves, and it didn’t look the greatest.  There was even one scene that was so poorly white balanced that it was yellow.  It was still a fun enough movie, entertaining me for an hour and a half.  The studio has done better fairy tale adaptations, such as Grimm’s Snow White, but this is still a good enough time to have been worth the watch.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Michael Bay tried something different here while still letting his American flag fly.  It was more serious than his usual work and used a different camera style for much of the movie.  There was no romantic storyline.  These elements worked together to make one of the best movies from a director known for beautiful explosions.  Telling the story in a straight-forward manner helped the one liners and action blend.  This was definitely one of the highlights of September.

That brings another month to a close for my first time watches.  There were a surprising number of movies, considering that I have gone back to school.  I watched 19 movies for the first time.  Two were in class watches, but that still leaves 17 movies that were watched for the first time outside of the school premises.  I don’t know how I did that.

Next month is going to bring some more movies to a first time watch post.  I started this post in September but haven’t been able to finish it up until a week into October.  That means I can give you a preview of some of the stuff I watched.  I’ve seen I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle and Most Likely to Die, among others.  Yes, this is going to be a month filled with horror.  How could it not be?  I’ll see you in November with another first time watches post.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 2, Episode 21: Zedd's Monster Mash

In the previous episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, we said goodbye to three of the original actors as well as two secondary characters.  The show didn’t do that.  It was just the last episode featuring those people, until Austin St. John returned during Power Rangers Zeo.  It was an episode about a magnet monster attacking Angel Grove.  Bulk and Skull tried to contact space life, and Billy flirted with a girl.

Now we start the farewell run of the three Power Rangers.  Jason, Trini, and Zack will be taking a back seat as the show begins writing them out.  This isn’t the episode to introduce the new characters.  It is the one in between.  This episode will be bringing back some old enemies and allowing the Power Rangers another chance to fight them.  I don’t know how it’s going to happen.  We’ll have to watch to find out.  Here we go.

Season 2, Episode 21: Zedd’s Monster Mash
The children of Angel Grove met in the Youth Centre for a chaperoned trick or treating trip.  The high school students were escorting the children around while they got candy.  Kimberly, Tommy, and Billy were prepared to take kids out.  Jason, Trini, and Zack were running late and wouldn’t make it before everything went down.  Tommy took out a bunch of children dressed as Power Rangers.

Bulk and Skull thought this would be the perfect opportunity to find the Power Rangers.  They thought that the Power Rangers might be wandering around town in their suits because it wouldn’t seem out of the ordinary on Halloween.  Not that it would seem out of the ordinary any other day.  They are always saving Angel Grove.  The idea was also partially right because Alpha was sent from the Command Centre to watch over some children.  Bulk and Skull got in trouble from a local parent for harassing children, then ate so much candy that they got sick.

Speaking of monsters, this episode was full of them.  Lord Zedd’s plan was to send Tommy to a dark dimension in which many of the previous monsters were alive.  They teamed up to fight the White Ranger, who had his morpher taken away.  The most notable returning monster was The Pumpkin Rapper.  He spits rhymes and vines to take down the Power Rangers.

Most of this episode was spent showing fights.  It was the easiest way to cover up the fact that three of the actors were missing.  Put the characters in their suits and it looks like they’re still there.  The first fight was Tommy versus putties.  The children he chaperoned were actually putties in disguise.  The fight was a typical putty fight that ended with Tommy being kidnapped.  This would be followed by Tommy fighting with the monsters, which was like a standard fight, except with more enemies.  A lot of time was taken up by introducing different monsters, and the fight ended fairly quickly as Billy came and returned Tommy’s morpher.  The last fight was a Zord fight versus a grown Pumpkin Rapper.  The fight ended quickly again.  Jason, Trini, and Zack showed up.  Everyone created the Thunder Megazord.  The Tigerzord showed up.  The Thunder Megazord used its sabre and the Pumpkin Rapper was defeated.

Nothing in this episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was meant to have weight on the series.  It was that in between episode where the producers were panicking to solve their problem of the lost cast members.  They stalledr to buy time before the show’s big transition.  That’s why you only see Billy, Kimberly and Tommy.  The other three teens were no longer on the show, and there hadn’t been anyone else cast.  If anything, the most notable thing is that this was the first episode without at least four of the original five Power Rangers.  Remember, there was one episode before this that didn’t have Austin St. John playing Jason.

The thing that this episode did was spice up the comedy.  Bulk and Skull usually do crazy things, but this episode took it a step further.  Near the end, the characters felt sick and their faces changed colour.  There was a green hue placed on their faces in the way that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers tends to do its effects.  It seemed out of place while being exactly what the show is.  Other than that, this was a standard stand-alone episode with more monsters than usual and fewer Power Rangers.

In the next episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, three new characters will be introduced.  They will be the replacements for Jason, Trini, and Zack.  It’ll be an important episode as it moves past this loss.  It will mark the beginning of a new era that will last until well into season three.  I’m excited to move into this new stage of the show and I hope you are too.