Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights is on Patreon

If you listen to podcasts, you’re likely to be aware of Patreon, it’s a platform for creators to have paid subscriptions to help support their creative endeavors. And just the other day, I decided to branch out into the world of Patreon myself. As of right now, there are just two tiers. The first tier – Vigilante – will allow you to participate in a monthly poll to help me decide one of the movies that I watch and review for that month. The second tier – Hero – will allow you to more directly encourage me to watch a specific movie and review it here on this site. The reason I’m doing this is to allow me to watch and collect more of the movies that aren’t as easily accessible to watch. I will be 100% transparent as to the costs and revenue that I make through Patreon. If you’re someone who enjoys reading what I do here on this site and would like me to continue, please consider contributing even just a single dollar a month to help cover digital rental fees and possible online purchases in the future for the more obscure movies. There is a link in the sidebar, or you can visit https://www.patreon.com/FlightsTightsAndMovieNights to become a patron. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

American Hero

American Hero 2015

This post came about in part from my Patreon where each month patrons can vote on a movie (or movies) that I review here each month. This has been sitting on my list for a while, it’s an indie film from 2015 starring Stephen Dorff and Eddie Griffin. It is currently available to watch free with ads on Vudu. There’s a bit of a documentary feel to it, but that mostly feels like an excuse for the overall low budget nature of the film. It reminds me quite a bit of Sleight, though there’s a touch more of a superhero narrative in this film, enough for it to cross the line into actually being a superhero movie. Unfortunately most of the characters aren’t all that likable and they all end the film more or less where they started without much real growth.

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Wonder Woman: Bloodlines

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines 2019

It’s time to check out the latest movie from DC Animation. This one takes a slight curveball as it doesn’t really continue the previous continuity though there’s a couple references so that it could still be a part of the major continuity despite being a stand-alone story. It’s also notable for nearly having the entire voice cast be female characters outside of Steve Trevor and a Minotaur. For the most part it follows pretty well in line with the rest of the DC animated movies. It’s a lot of fun to watch with some good action sequences and some nice character beats mixed in here and there. It’s also worth noting that the DC Showcase short packaged with this home video release: Death, is quite excellent as well.

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Dark Phoenix

Dark Phoenix 2019

This is apparently the swan song for the Fox version of the X-Men that really started the modern era of superhero movies and re-started with 2010’s First Class, and is now lumped into the Disney conglomerate so future cinematic X-Men will likely be tied into the MCU. It’s also one of the few 2019 releases that I wasn’t able to make it out to see in theaters even though this was a generally lighter year for superhero and comic book movies, or at least the year was heavily front loaded with several releases in the early months of the year. In general, I’ve been a fan of nearly all of the X-Men movies aside from the ones everyone hates. But I’ve also generally enjoyed the more recent ones that have been pretty middling to most audiences. I don’t think they handled every character very well, but they did do a few things right in this movie and I enjoyed more than I disliked. And while this is still a relatively new release, I will be discussing the plot in its entirety so there may be spoilers.

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #90: Batman Forever

#90: Batman Forever

Or

Riddle Me This, Riddle Me That: Who Even Remembers This Bat?

Oh yeah, this film exists!

First Impressions

I remember watching this on TV when I was younger, but I don’t recall if it really made that much of an impression on me. I could clearly remember TLJ’s Two-Face and Carrey’s Riddler, as well as the major plot beats, but I don’t really have any moments from the film that jumped out when I tried to think about it. So, will a re-watch change that?

The Characters

  • Bruce Wayne/Batman: Val Kilmer

    Ok. Here’s the thing: Bruce Wayne is the playboy-philanthropist billionaire who is coolness personified and Batman is THE NIGHT, dark and stoic and (quite often) brooding. Val Kilmer manages to play one of those in an ok-for-the-time way. Care to guess which one? Yeah, Batman in these films is fairly boring. Maybe that’s why we actually don’t get as much Bats as you’d expect during the film. Based on my calculations*, we get to see Batman on screen for maybe 20% of the runtime. And that’s actually a little more than I think we needed. However, this film did manage to give us the basis for a smiling Batman meme, so maybe that’s good?


    *100% factual and in no way disprovable
  • Two-Face/Harvey Dent: Tommy Lee Jones

    In no way is this the definitive Two-Face version. There’s many other more nuanced portrayals, loads of better written examples and pretty much every other version shows way more of the chaos and depths behind the character. However, can you tell me a more fun version to watch? Nope, didn’t think so. TLJ was clearly told to take the script and run with it. I’m convinced that there were many things we saw that came just from him reacting to the rest of the cast that was so good they kept it in. His script was ok, the film is not set up for a proper Two-Face portrayal and yet he brought the fun and camp that we needed to see to accept the character given the tone of the film. I’d love to see TLJ take more of these kinds of roles. Ok, moving on!

  • Edward Nigma/The Riddler: Jim Carrey

    *coughs* Um….

    This film is pretty camp already. Carrey’s Riddler is the equivalent of bringing a squadron of drag queens to “help camp it up more”. Honey, you didn’t need it but we appreciate it anyway! By the time we see The Riddler, you’ve effectively written off any chance of this film accurately portraying the comic books (except Alfred as of the time of recording the film). So when Jim is allowed to very much let loose as the green menace, you’re on board. And if you aren’t, I feel sorry for you. What we got was a codpiece wearing (prove me wrong) fairytale villain who uses “science” to absorb brainwaves via television to get smarter and…. that’s his plan. There is literally no other aspects to his plan. The whole “Who is Batman?” part is solely to get Two-Face on board to help finance his brain thing. Our co-main villain folks! But Carrey portrays him as whimsical-insane, which is probably the best choice for this film and is actually fun to watch. Horribly written, over-the-top acted but still fun.

  • Everyone Else: Everyone Else

    Quickfire, here goes:

    Alfred is good. Well done Michael Gough!
    Robin is boring.
    Chase Meridian is pointless.
    Hey, Drew Barrymore is in this one!
    And hey, is that… Ed Begley Jr? Neat.

    That’ll do.

The Setting

As I may have mentioned, this film is camp. It’s not done perfectly and there’s really nothing to the script, but it’s not as bad as other films in the Batman franchise (you can probably guess which ones I’m referring to…). This film also suffers from the same problem that all the live-action Batman films of this time had. A combination of the visual style of the franchise and the fact that there’s no way studios were going to start trying to make a serious comic-book film meant that what we got was the Loony-Tunes version of Gotham. Specifically the Who Framed Roger Rabbit version of Gotham. It’s very bright. If there’s one thing I usually take away from my experience of Gotham, it’s that it’s not bright. At all. But, of course, this was when these films needed to be bright enough and fun enough to bring in the kids, because that’s who like Batman. Nobody wanted a gritty Batman, that would be insane. What’s next, a well-made female-led action film? Yeah right!

So yeah, the setting is not really right for a proper Batman film. But if you are willing to accept that it was never going to be the right setting given the time, you can find the good in what they did. Now, there is one more thing I have to bring up.

The Props

Oh dear. I’m effectively lumping the props, costumes and vehicles into this. Everything, and I do mean everything, that Batman wears, uses or has in his possession looks like it’s made from that hollow fibreglass that would never hold up to any actual scrutiny. The car actually wobbles in a few shots, the Batsuit might as well have been a Batman doll that got blown up by Wayne Szalinski and then hollowed out for use and that hood is just flimsy. I honestly think that the entire budget went on getting the A-list stars and then they had to “that’ll do” for the rest. They even had a “chase” scene where instead of having a car actually go fast, they clearly drove at 5mph while swinging the camera around and dutch-angling it as much as possible to give the illusion of speed. Which it didn’t. But obviously somebody in charge didn’t care enough (or worse thought it actually looked good) to either give more money or ask for another try.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say here is: “Batman Forever, I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed…”

Ok, let’s see what Bubba has to say about this one!

I’ve seen this film several times at this point and I always remember it as the better of the two Schumacher Batman films. Watching it again, I really noticed the strong influence of the Adam West Batman and unfortunately it’s some of the worst parts of that version. Where Two-Face and Riddler have their own personalities and backstories, here they feel very much like variations of the Joker. Much like most of the villains in the Adam West era were cookie cutter personalities with different shticks. None of the personalities are very deep and Chris O’Donnell was one of the worst choices possible for Robin. Looking past how they didn’t work for the characters they were given, Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones seemed to have a lot of fun and chew the scenery as coin flipping Joker and riddle telling Joker and Val Kilmer was a decent replacement for Michael Keaton. It was lighthearted but the jokes only started creeping into the movie without completely overtaking it. It’s still a fun watch more or less.

But in the overall superhero cinema, this was more or less the beginning of the end of this incarnation of the Batman franchise. It was held together by the star power of Jim Carrey and grossed $184M domestic and $336M worldwide, outpacing Batman Returns even though it didn’t hit the mark set by the first Batman. This was the first instance of a major comic book movie franchise re-casting the main character in a series of movies and even though Tim Burton didn’t direct this movie, he stayed on as a producer so there’s still a hint of his overall influence despite Schumacher’s much more brightly neon colored Gotham. It’s not quite the first sign of a franchise going down the wrong path as the same thing happened with Superman before it, but it’s still an overall important big movie in the still relatively early days of superhero cinema. At least the early days of what superhero cinema as we know it today.

Nice one Mr Wheat! And with that summed up, let’s take a zip-line dive into the 3 main questions:

  1. Would I recommend this film to others?
  2. Does this film deserve to be on the list?
  3. If so, where does it appear on the list?

Well, in keeping with tradition, we’ll start at number 1:

1) Given the caveats that I outlined before, yes. TLJ is amazing and once Carrey goes full Riddler, he’s almost on par. The rest is kinda dull, but that’s no reason to avoid it!

2) I do think it’s really close this time. On one hand, it’s a better film than Batman & Robin, and does have some good performances in it. On the other hand, it’s not bad enough to be a lesson and not good enough to be the best. However, I think I would suggest leaving it on the list if only because it’s still an early enough attempt to bring more of the comic-book world into the mainstream, even if it takes another several years and a lot of CG to really bring it to life.

3) Ok, so where does it fall on the list? Well, even with what I’ve said, I think it’ll surprise you yet again!

  1. Hellboy
  2. Captain America: The First Avenger
  3. The Crow
  4. Men In Black
  5. Dr Strange
  6. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  7. Batman: The Killing Joke
  8. Superman 3
  9. The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
  10. The Meteor Man
  11. Supergirl
  12. Howard The Duck
  13. The Fantastic Four (1994)
  14. The Punisher
  15. Batman & Robin
  16. The Amazing Spider-Man
  17. Batman Forever
  18. BvS: Dawn Of Justice

    Potential Substitutions:

    Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
    X-Men: The Last Stand (replacing Catwoman)
    Turbo Kid (replacing The Incredible Hulk)

Told you. Even though it’s better than B&R as a film, I feel that the nature of B&R serves as a warning for how far is too far, while BF is simply more of the same as before, which was novel for the time but doesn’t give much weight in the rankings. But please, let me know if you disagree/agree/couldn’t care less and I’ll be willing to change my mind if you make some good points!

Alright, that’s it for now. The Paul-Signal is lit and that means….. nothing really. I’m just surprised someone made one. I should probably see what they want. Ok, Bye!

Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget 1999

This movie was chosen as part of a monthly poll over on this site’s Patreon. For just $1 a month you can help choose one of the movies I review here as well as early access for certain articles. It helps cover the cost of running this site and will hopefully help expand it in the future. As for the film, I was a fan of the Inspector Gadget cartoon back in the 80’s when I was a kid but by the time the live action film had come around I was pretty much an adult and had outgrown it. Besides the fact that it looked like it barely had anything to do with the cartoon at all and just took the facade and made it into a cookie cutter live action Disney family flick. And that’s pretty much what this is. It has all the bits and pieces of Inspector Gadget aside from completely changing absolutely everything about Dr. Claw, but it barely resembles the whole of the cartoon and was not entertaining or well made at all.

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LEGO DC Batman: Family Matters

LEGO DC Batman: Family Matters 2019

It’s time for yet another LEGO DC animated feature and it pretty much follows the same overall formula with the typical LEGO style humor focused on the different DC characters. This also loosely follows a variation on the Bat family plot involving many different Bat-family characters including three of the four main Robins (Tim Drake always seems to get left in the cold in these animated movies). And for a change of pace it actually takes a bit of a look at not just the exploits of Batman, but also the importance of Bruce Wayne and his position of wealth and power within the context of Gotham City. Not exactly something that you would expect in a LEGO movie though it definitely keeps the irreverence to keep things light and not overly deep.

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Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans

Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans 2019

At my latest trip to the local library, I picked up the latest DC Animated movie with the Teen Titans. I probably said this before when I reviewed the theatrical Teen Titans Go! movie but I’m generally a fan of Go! It makes me laugh, I like the meta humor that comes with it, and there’s plenty of other superhero properties so in general the humor that exists in Go! is different than pretty much anything else in DC. I’ve also more recently been able to go through some of the old episodes of Teen Titans and actually noticed that it was generally a lot less serious than I thought it was going to be. It’s much more serious than Go! but it has plenty of humor to go around. I also love alternate universe stuff and this takes things to an utterly chaotic and ridiculous level that I absolutely loved and I had so much fun watching this. And while there’s not really much of a surprise twist, this is a recent movie so here is your spoiler warning.

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Graphic Horror: Cemetery Man

Cemetery Man 1994

I had heard about this movie a while back when I watched the Brandon Routh Dylan Dog movie, found out that they were basically based on the same character, and then promptly forgot all about it until looking it up again. There’s actually a weird and interesting connection between the comics and this movie. There was initially a novel called Dellamorte Dellamore which is also the Italian title of this movie. The author then went on to create the Dylan Dog comics which follow a similar style as the original novel and the main character of the novel shows up as basically the Italian analogue to Dylan Dog. When the comic was originally drawn, the artist drew inspiration from Rupert Everett and drew the main character to look like him. This movie then starred Rupert Everett as the main character who wore an outfit that resembled Dylan Dog.

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #41: Men in Black

I don’t think the title is obvious enough…

#41: Men In Black

Or

Don’t Be A Menace To New York While Chilling With Aliens In HQ

There’s waaaaay too many Will Smith references that we could start this one off with. Nah, forget it. Yo homes, to the review!

First Impressions

I recall going to see this film with a friend of mine, my family and his. We took the train there (since that’s a thing that you can actually do if you live in the UK), we watched the film and I’m moderately confident that I spent the majority of the train ride back talking about various things from the film. So I think it’s fair to say that I enjoyed this film the first time. Did it hold up? Let’s find out…

The Characters

  • Agent J/James Darrell Edwards III: Will Smith

    So here’s the thing. There was a show called The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. It starred a young, fairly unknown guy (at least in TV/Film-land) called Will Smith. Then he basically managed to become known as the king of Blockbusters by starring in Bad Boys, Independence Day and MIB. Was his character in this fairly similar to what we’d seen before? Yep. Does that matter? Not at all. Will Smith can play these characters perfectly, and does so here too. He’s shown to have the right kind of thinking but also has that overconfidence that is kinda fun to see burst by the genuinely experienced K as he’s being shown the ropes. He’s also amazingly charismatic, which always helps! And besides, the two other main choices for this role were Chris O’Donnell and David Schwimmer. Yeah, THAT would have been something to see…

  • Agent K: Tommy Lee Jones

    Do I really need to explain just how good this character is? Not only does he manage to balance Will Smith’s presence on screen, he’s able to PERFECTLY counterweight everything that is Agent J. And TLJ is so much fun to watch here. His delivery is brilliant, his facial expression (for there is only one) is on point and he’s clearly been around for a loooong time. Yeah, he’s great!

  • Edgar/The Bug: Vincent D’Onofrio

    Yeah, this guy. For starters, D’Onofrio is a bloody chameleon. I’ve seen him in several roles now and I can never recognise him without looking up who plays the role. And Edgar is just great to see on screen. You’d think it would be difficult to portray something 3 times the size of you wearing your skin, but he manages to pull it off. It’s actually astounding that he’s not been given more accolades. But anyway, he’s as much fun to watch as you can have watching a giant bug wearing a human skin!

  • The Rest

    There’s too many other characters to give them their own sections, so let’s just do a quick run-down here:

    – Zed: Rip Torn. He’s delightfully dour here!
    – Dr Laurel Weaver: Linda Florentino. Not bad, but I feel like she wasn’t given that much to do. Though she does get the kill-shot!
    – Jack Jeebs: Tony Shaloub. “Do you have any idea how much that stings?” Enough said.

The Setting

If you don’t know the film by now, welcome! I’m glad you got this far! Sorry about that spoiler in the previous section…

Anyway, this film starts off perfectly. It sets the tone, it gives you just enough to know that the MIB are clearly both well equipped & well connected and it lets you know exactly who the main two characters are without a lot of exposition. Honestly a lot of modern films could learn a lot from this one. And the style works really well even now, so the film doesn’t really look or feel dated (outside of the obvious leap in technology since then). And I was unaware that this was based on a comic book until relatively recently, so bravo for managing to pull off a successful CB film in the 90’s!

The Effects

Ok, the CG is outdated. Anything that’s bigger than a dog REALLY looks bad compared to today’s graphics. But that’s to be expected. Everything else actually holds up really well. There’s plenty of practical effects that still look fantastic (looking at you, opening scene!) and the coffee aliens are always brilliant. Honestly the worst effects are when The Bug is actually out on screen. And, as I said, that’s no surprise. It’s a GIANT alien bug walking around on Earth in a film from the late 90’s. It was NEVER going to look realistic! So there.

Ok, now it’s time for Bubba to put on his suit and lay it all out for us. Take it away Agent B!

I watched this again pretty recently after the latest rebootquel Men in Black International came out on home video so I could make a list of top 10 aliens in the Men in Black series. There’s just so much that this film has going for it right out of the gate. It creates this world within our world full of aliens in plain sight. The chemistry between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones is palpable and there cannot be enough said about Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance as Edgar. He just has this amazing physicality and voice that captures something completely otherworldly and not at home in its own skin.

While some may call it a stretch to call this a superhero movie, there’s no denying its importance in film history. It was a box office juggernaut with a massive $589M worldwide, it spawned two sequels, a cartoon, and a reboot, there were talks of a combined franchise with 21 Jump Street though that never materialized. It was ingrained as a part of Will Smith’s overall rise as the king of the summer blockbuster. It was a comic book movie that didn’t sell itself as a comic book movie, and it’s actually technically a Marvel movie. It was loosely based on a Malibu comic book series shortly after the Malibu brand was bought out by Marvel comics. It’s still typically regarded as the best of the four movies and it’s just all around fun.

So true Mr Wheat, so true. And now we must move into the last section of the review. Our big three questions. And for anyone suffering from a Neuralyzer blast, those questions are:

  1. Would I recommend this film to others?
  2. Does this film deserve to be on the list?
  3. If so, where does it appear on the list?

And in true MIB fashion, I shall answer them in the order received.

1) Hell yes. And not just for nostalgic purposes, this film is genuinely well made, well acted and just plain fun!

2) Despite the fact that I do think it’s stretching the definition of “superhero” a little past where it usually falls, yes. Because what is a superhero really, if not someone/something that does all they can to fight evil, right wrongs and protect the innocent? I’ll tell you what, a no good bum, that’s what!

3) Well, let’s see where it landed in our list:

  1. Hellboy
  2. Captain America: The First Avenger
  3. The Crow
  4. Men In Black
  5. Dr Strange
  6. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  7. Batman: The Killing Joke
  8. Superman 3
  9. The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
  10. The Meteor Man
  11. Supergirl
  12. Howard The Duck
  13. The Fantastic Four (1994)
  14. The Punisher
  15. Batman & Robin
  16. The Amazing Spider-Man
  17. BvS: Dawn Of Justice

    Potential Substitutions:

    Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
    X-Men: The Last Stand (replacing Catwoman)
    Turbo Kid (replacing The Incredible Hulk)

Yeah, I think it’s that high. This film managed to do several things so well in a time when doing any of them is a tall order. It helped cement Will Smith’s legacy as a screen legend, it was a HUGELY successful comic book film and it managed to use a lot of CG in a way that honestly works WAY better than you’d expect from that time. So into number 4 it goes!

Well, that’s me done for another couple of weeks! And so, I should probably get out of here before Agent J realises that I took his Noisy Cricket. I’m sure that hole in the wall will patch itself right up…..

The Shadow Strikes

The Shadow Strikes 1937

Even though a lot of people point to Superman and the Mole Men as the first theatrical superhero movie, there’s a few others that came before it that aren’t quite what we think of now as superhero movies, but share enough similarities and/or the main character in other materials would be considered more of a superhero. This movie is definitely not a superhero movie in its own right, but the Shadow is definitely a superhero in other incarnations. This movie and a few other Shadow movies have been sitting at the top of my list for many years now and I only just now decided to check them off. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. It’s not really that great, but it was a nice change of pace for me.

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