October 30, 2021

Review: More Safes, Less Zombies is a Good Thing for “Army of Thieves”

Yesterday, Netflix dropped Army of Thieves, a heist movie that serves as a loosely-connected prequel to Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, with very little fanfare…or promotion at all. In fact, when I visited the site to watch it, I couldn’t find it anywhere on Netflix’s homepage — this is a real shame, because I really liked Army of Thieves, and it definitely won’t get the attention it deserves.

Following safecracker Ludwig Dieter (played by Matthias Schweighöfer in Army of the Dead), the prequel explores Dieter’s mundane life before his life of crime. Going by his real name of Sebastian Schlencht-Wöhnert, Dieter is recruited into a gang of thieves by Gwendoline Starr (Game of Thrones’ Nathalie Emmanuel), who is leading a heist to break into a series of semi-mythical vaults, all created by legendary safe designer Hans Wagner.

October 29, 2021

Review: “Last Night in Soho” Takes You on a Magical Downtown Ride

Edgar Wright just doesn’t miss. It’s a simple fact. He developed Ant-Man, wrote The Adventures of Tintin, and directed some of my favorite movies of the last twenty years, including Hot Fuzz, Baby Driver and Shaun of the Dead. You can just imagine my excitement when I first heard about his latest, Last Night in Soho.

Of course, pandemic delays have affected most recent Hollywood releases, but Last Night in Soho has finally been released, and I’m happy to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I know, I usually leave my verdict until the end, but I had such a good time last night with Last Night that I had to throw that out there at the start.

I will say this: if you haven’t seen a trailer yet, don’t. Last Night in Soho is better seen unspoiled in any way, so the less footage you see beforehand, the better. To give a brief plot teaser: Thomasin McKenzie plays Ellie Turner, a young fashion student who moves to London for school, and it isn’t long before she starts seeing nighttime visions of Sandie, a young singer from the 1960s.

October 21, 2021

Review: “Dune” Tells an Exciting, But Incomplete Story

In the case of a film adaptation of a novel, I’m in favor of letting both stand on their own. After all, the plot, ideas and characters of the novel is being re-interpreted for the screen, and it should cater to a wider audience and not just fans of the source.

The world of Frank Herbert’s Dune is so complicated and detailed, it’s quite a feat to even attempt a film adaptation. David Lynch’s 1984 movie worked for some and not for others, but Denis Villeneuve comes with a different approach: his Dune adapts roughly half of the original 1965 novel, which is both its strongest success and biggest disappointment.

October 18, 2021

Random Musings: Halloween Kills

Michael Myers is on a rampage in Halloween Kills, the (unsurprisingly divisive) latest entry in the long-running Halloween franchise. Of course, such a jam-packed film evokes more thoughts that could fill a page, so below are some thoughts I had that didn’t fit into my review — and keep in mind, there are major spoilers ahead.

October 16, 2021

“The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood” Review: How’s This for an Establishing Shot?

“The thirteen tracks which you are about to hear were long ago hidden away, deemed too grotesque for public consumption by the American recording industry. Recently, however, they were unearthed by the homicide unit of the L.A.P.D. These tracks would soon gain infamy as key evidence; allegedly linking Ice Nine Kills frontman, Spencer Charnas, to the brutal slaying of his 28-year old fiancé. Though the original title of this disturbing collection of songs remains unknown, these cuts would forever be remembered as…Welcome to Horrorwood.”

After a series of singles, horror-themed heavy metal band Ice Nine Kills has released a brand-new album (and their first sequel!), Welcome to Horrorwood. I reviewed their first single from the album when it was released earlier this year, and while the singles that followed were in a similar vein, I was delighted to find that the complete album included some fantastic songs I hadn’t previously heard.

Continuing the tradition began by Horrorwood’s predecessor The Silver Scream, each track off of Horrorwood was inspired in some way, either lyrically, musically or both, by a classic horror film. Some of them are more obvious — “The Shower Scene” takes cues from Psycho, for example — and some references are more deep-cut.

October 14, 2021

Review: The Standard Slasher Sequel Lives On in “Halloween Kills”

There are going to be a lot of funerals in Haddonfield.

Halloween Kills picks up mere minutes after the conclusion of 2018’s Halloween, with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) leaving infamous serial killer Michael Myers for dead. This is a slasher movie, though, so of course Michael escapes, and violence ensues.

October 13, 2021

Review: Even on the Small Screen, “Chucky” is Your Friend to the End

Few horror icons (Fredy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers) have remained substantially successful in their respective franchises since their debuts. While Chucky, of the Child’s Play franchise, has changed as a character multiple times, the direct-to-video release that plagues most franchises has actually helped to make the franchise what it was always meant to be.

Now, the next evolution of the franchise has arrived. Brad Dourif once again voices the killer doll in Chucky, a serialized television sequel to the seven-film saga from series creator Don Mancini. Unlike the latest film, Cult of Chucky, the TV series wastes no time introducing its characters and is virtually bare of exposition, despite Cult ending on an open-ended cliffhanger. Based on trailer footage, there’s no doubt that cliffhanger will be resolved, but for now we have a whole new cast of characters to meet.

October 12, 2021

Random Musings: No Time to Die

Daniel Craig’s James Bond had his last vodka martini (shaken, not stirred) this week with No Time to Die, and I didn’t have a chance to cover everything I wanted to in my review. Here are some other thoughts I had about the film that didn’t quite fit into the review — and keep in mind, there are major spoilers ahead.

October 8, 2021

Review: There’s Just “No Time to Die”

While traditionally action movies, each James Bond film has their own tropes that they typically adhere to. 007 meets a beautiful woman (“Bond girls” no longer) who has some secretive tie to the film’s villain. The aforementioned villain is never alone — he always has a nefarious henchman who does his dirty work before being axed by Bond in a completely satisfying way.

No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s last outing as the MI6 super spy, is not immune to these tropes, and it definitely knows it. In fact, it also knows that this is the last time Craig will inhabit the role, so it decides to take its sweet time with seeing him off — 2 hours and 43 minutes of time, in fact. This makes it the longest Bond film in history, but the runtime surprisingly isn’t too much of an issue. The story and pacing are rapidly-paced enough so that something is always happening, and the concept of boredom isn’t allowed to exist.

Five years after Bond’s last outing, Spectre, he’s retired from the espionage game, but as is with any retired action hero, just when he thought he was out, something happens to pull him back in. This time it’s a (surprisingly timely) scheme by Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), a rather fascinating character who considers himself to be a hero akin to Bond — albeit in his own twisted way.

October 1, 2021

Review: Turn Off Your Brain for “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”

It’s always nice when a studio sees what works with their first film, and vastly improves on those measures in the sequel. 2018’s Venom, while an undisputed box office hit, was not a critical darling, but it was a comic book movie so a sequel was inevitable.

After numerous pandemic-related delays, Venom: Let There Be Carnage has finally arrived. Tom Hardy returns as journalist Eddie Brock, who co-exists with the alien symbiote Venom (also voiced by Hardy). The pair are having some domestic issues, and it doesn’t help when serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) breaks out of prison with a killer symbiote of his own to cause some destruction. Let there be Carnage, indeed.

I’ve talked before about the “bigger and better” approach that most sequels strive for, and I can confidently say that Venom succeeds in both. Not only is the threat of Let There Be Carnage greater and more personal than the first film, but the stakes are higher, the action scenes are more ambitious, and the cast have clearly settled into their roles. It had a lot going for it.