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25
Nov
17

The Italian Job 1969 vs. 2003

If you like high-speed chases in Mini Coopers, then The Italian Job is the movie for you. But wait! There are two versions of this film. So, which one should you watch? Well, that depends. Your friendly neighborhood BrikHaus has watched them both, and I’m going to pit them head to head, so you can decide for yourself.
The Italian Job (1969)
This is one of Michael Caine’s most popular and beloved films, and I can’t understand why. The marketing makes you think this is going to be a rip-roaring caper film, especially with the heavy leaning on Minis being used in some kind of high-speed getaway. Unfortunately, there is nothing high-speed about the original Italian Job.
Caine plays Charlie Croker, a criminal recently released from prison. He immediately goes on a mini-James Bond spree getting a fancy suit and sleeping with hot chicks. After that, he recruits a gang to perform a big job in Italy. Clearly, prison has reformed this man. I’m glad that the justice system works so well in England.

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05
Nov
17

The Woman in Black

Horror is a tough genre to do well. It’s mired in cliché and cheese. Either it’s too gory, too dumb, or not scary. Modern horror films have relied too much on startling the audience instead of earning scares. An ever increasing reliance on CGI have made horror films tame. What’s scary about an obviously fake computer generated image? Nothing.

The Woman in Black is by no means a movie that shakes up the genre. It stays firmly planted in all the usual trappings of a standard haunted house film. What this film does well, however, is it generally avoids all the modern pitfalls like startles, stupidity, and CGI.

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24
Oct
17

It’s Pilot Season – 2017

The Fall 2017 television season is upon us. And that means we’re inundated with the worst the networks have to offer. Each year brings us new series; a few will be great, but most will be unwatchable trash. There’s far too many horrible series out there for me to review them all. So, I’ve decided to watch the three pilots that had the most promotional advertising of this season and review them. Please note, my reviews are not necessarily what I think of the entire series, but simply my thoughts on the pilot episode.

The Orville

Unabashed Star Trek fan Seth MacFarlane’s new series sees him as the captain of an intergalactic vessel charting the galaxy in a comedic fashion. I am absolutely not a fan of MacFarlane’s work. Family Guy is one of the most insipid, vacuous excuses for a TV show of all time. Ted was nothing more than a live-action version of his crassest jokes with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. So, I was not looking forward to this series. On the other hand, I, too, am an unabashed Star Trek fan, and since we haven’t had a Star Trek series on TV in 12 years, I decided this was as close as it was going to get, so I gave it a shot. (Yes, I am aware Star Trek Discovery started this year, but I’m not going to pay for CBS’ shitty streaming service to watch it.)

To my surprise, The Orville wasn’t half-bad. The concept is exactly the same as what you’d find on Star Trek. MacFarlane captains a starship filled with a variety of alien species as they explore the universe. The main gag here is that MacFarlane’s first officer is his ex-wife, whom he hates because she cheated on him. The show presents her as maybe not all that bad, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for her since she’s a cheater. MacFarlane gives a restrained performance, pretty much playing himself and not Peter Griffin. He’s even likable, as he is sensible with the crew and his actions.

The pilot episode features the crew discovering a time-altering device, which is coveted by the deadly alien species, the Krill. They battle it out on land and in space, and use the device to save the day. The writing was pretty solid, the action was serviceable, and the interactions of the crew were believable. But this is a comedy, right? Yeah, there is a hefty helping of comedy, but it doesn’t get so loopy as to take the audience out of the show. They don’t have cut-away gags, and they don’t have any jokes about present-day Earth politics/people. Most of the jokes arise out of the situation, and nothing feels totally out of place. Thankfully, MacFarlane left all his shit jokes for his other projects.

The Orville was much better than I expected, and I plan to check out the next episode. It certainly felt more like Star Trek than the reboot films, and that is definitely a good thing.

Verdict: Average

Continue reading ‘It’s Pilot Season – 2017′

14
Oct
17

Blade Runner 2049: A Sequel Nobody Asked For

Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel that nobody wanted or asked for. The 1982 original was a landmark film that inspired the look and feel of virtually every sci-fi film since. It told a self-contained story, was completely satisfying, and had no need for a continuation. It was also an abysmal failure at the box office, and these are precisely the reasons why there was never a follow-up film. Well, this is a new era in Hollywood where every ancient property, no matter how obscure or irrelevant, gets resurrected for a reboot or sequel. If there is even a remote chance for name recognition, the hacks in charge green-light it for production.

The new film has strengths, but also glaring weaknesses. It is by no means a bad film, but perhaps ill-advised. As a direct sequel, director Denis Villeneuve, captured the look and feel of the universe exactly. It feels just like the original film. The neon nightmare, the crumbling infrastructure juxtaposed with state-of-the-art technology, and the oppressive loneliness are all brought from the original without missing a beat. Without a doubt, it feels like a Blade Runner film. And that is perhaps the sequel’s greatest strength, that the universe is still tangible and plausible, and, most importantly, consistent. The transition between films, despite a 35 year gap in time, is seamless.

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08
Oct
17

Movies > Books: Blade Runner

I’m willing to bet a lot of people aren’t aware that seminal sci-fi noir film Blade Runner is based on a novel. The awkwardly titled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep forms the basis for the 1982 film. The film is a loose-ish interpretation of the book. The two entities are similar, yet different enough to make comparisons difficult. Even so, I’m going to give it a whirl.

Blade Runner is a film I didn’t initially like. I had seen the theatrical cut twice, and wrote it off as a failure. I ignored the international cut and director’s cut, because why would I watch additional cuts of a movie I didn’t like? Then, the final cut came out in 2007, and was much ballyhooed. So much so, that I decided to give the film one more chance. This time, I was blown away. Director Ridley Scott had perfected his dark, futuristic vision. What he had in his head when he filmed it was finally conveyed to the audience without studio tinkering. I liked it so much, I now consider it a masterpiece.

But what about the novel? This, too, I had actually read a long time ago, when I was a teenager, and unable to appreciate the nuances of it. I thought it was a weak-ass sci-fi novel which had been completely overhauled and improved upon in every aspect by the film. Even though I didn’t like the film at that time, I still considered it a vast improvement over the novel. I didn’t give it much thought in the years since. But with the release of the sequel film, Blade Runner 2049, I thought I’d revisit the source material. My intent was to write up what a piece of shit the book was compared to the superior film. But what I found was that the book was surprisingly great, too.

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25
Sep
17

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Just when it seems like superhero movies can’t get any worse, the studios manage to shit out a fouler turd than ever before. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (you can’t believe how much I hate typing that long-winded, dumbass title) is definitely in the top 3 worst big-budget superhero movies I’ve ever seen. Fantastic Four and Green Lantern are the only ones that somehow managed to be worse, but only by a slim margin, because BVS is really fucking terrible.

The movie begins with yet another recap of Batman’s origins. Seriously, every goddamn person on the planet knows Batman’s origins, we don’t need to see it rehashed again, especially since we had an entire movie, Batman Begins, dedicated to his origins, and it isn’t even that old. Except this time, it’s overwrought, and inter-spliced with Bruce Wayne’s flashbacks/nightmares. For some reason, Bruce Wayne has zombie/desert nightmares which make no sense and add nothing of value to the movie. This comes along with Lois Lane’s incomprehensible-to-the-plot voyage into the Middle East to do a journalistic expose on . . . something. What the fuck was the point of these scenes?

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07
Sep
17

Suicide Squad, The Lego Batman Movie

Suicide Squad

The first supervillain team-up movie features Batman’s rogues gallery, although, it’s comprised mostly of his second stringers like Deadshot, Killer Croc, Harley Quinn, etc. The crux of the film is that the U.S. government wants a special team of bad guys to be able to combat superheroes if the need arises.

The plotting is horrible, even for a comic book movie. The team assembles, and immediately one of the members (Enchantress) goes double-rogue and tries to kill all humanity. Of course, if they hadn’t put the team together in the first place, none of this would have happened. But the Hollywood executives behind this movie figured that the movie-going public are a bunch of mouth-breathers who wouldn’t notice.

The “action” is incredibly dull. The characters virtually stand still as they stiffly stab or shoot generic monsters. They move from Point A to Point B until they ultimately defeat Enchantress. A couple of them die, but since they are all underdeveloped, you feel nothing for them. Deadshot and Harley have the most backstory, but still leave a lot wanting. Perhaps whittling the team down to just two or three characters would have yielded better results.

Will Smith is fine, doing his usual shtick, Margot Robbie is perfect as Harley Quinn, and Jared Leto is an OK Joker, but really hard to take as a menacing figure with his grill and all his tats. The Batman cameos were interesting, but rather pointless.

All in all, this was a weak, directionless, sloppy entry into DC’s cinematic universe. It made boatloads of money, though, so I suppose we can expect more of this dreck in the future.

Verdict: Shitty

The Lego Batman Movie

I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Lego Movie. I realize I’m the only person on Earth who didn’t like it, but I hate everything, so you shouldn’t be surprised. Well, I do like Batman, so I went into this one a bit more hopeful. Fortunately, this time I wasn’t disappointed. Lego Batman was a very funny film, managing to lovingly skewer all things Batman. They make jokes about the franchise, but not at its expense. The writers clearly understand and enjoy Batman, and make references to all the series’ various incarnations from comics to animated series to Adam West’s campy 60’s version. I even enjoyed the references to other franchises such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Will Arnett and Michael Cera were perfect as Batman and Robin, respectively. Zach Galifianakis’ version of the Joker was kind of shitty, but other than that I don’t have much to complain about. This one was a lot of fun.

Verdict: Good

 

 




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