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Black Mask

Black Mask 1996

Still trying to get back into the swing of things with this DVD that I’ve had on loan from the library for almost a full month before actually getting around to popping it in the DVD player and watching it. It’s one of those films that I had known of for quite some time but never really looked into what it was about, I had always just assumed that it was a typical martial arts movie with a masked superhero aspect to it. And to a certain extent, that’s what it was though it was a lot gorier than I expected. Which is probably just on me as I’m not too familiar with a lot of martial arts movies of the era, instead just a handful of the watered down American knock-offs from the 90’s or so. There are a few versions of this movie, but the one I watched was the US home video version from Artisan where the main differences are the English dub, the hip-hop soundtrack, and a few scene differences. As far as the actual movie goes, it’s an odd sort of crime movie with the super-powered criminal organization that’s too powerful for the cops and so they need the help of an ex-member of this super-powered organization who has been reformed. The plot is rather complicated, but the action is great considering it’s from the fight choreography of Woo-Ping Yuen, likely most well known as the guy behind the Kung Fu of the Matrix.
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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Kingsman: The Golden Circle 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything down here on this site, but I still have a lot of comic book and superhero films to cover so I haven’t fully gone away. This weekend I was able to make it to the theater to see the latest comic book movie to hit the screen with Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle. I was a big fan of the first film and while I thought that they brought a lot of the same attitude and action of the original, once I left the theater, much of the character development and overall plot just didn’t hold up to deeper thought once I left. It’s still fun, but not quite as impressive as the first entry in the series.
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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 2017

Ever since the first few trailers came out for this film I had certain expectations for how this film would turn out. The visuals immediately struck me as being absolutely gorgeous and showed me a world that I had never seen before filled with aliens that look unique but still familiar. My biggest concern from the very beginning were the two leads: Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne. DeHaan has had mixed success and Delevingne was by far the worst part of Suicide Squad and after watching the film my fears were confirmed. Valerian and his partner Laureline are the weakest spots in this fascinating and wonderful, fully realized universe. I just wish there was a better story and characters that I could explore this world without those two in it. And as is always the case in all movies, but especially recent movies I will be discussing the movie in full, including potential spoilers so here is your warning.
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Graphic Horror: Abattoir

Abattoir 2016

There’s still plenty of times when I have to make the distinction on what exactly I consider to be a “comic book movie”. This is a horror movie that’s not specifically based on a comic book. From what I little information I can gather, the concept for the film likely came first, but before production was able to begin, the director took the concept and turned it into a comic book that took place before the events of the movie. A few years later, the film was able to be completed, but in most places, the comic book is referred to as a prequel to the film instead of vice versa. But considering that the comic book was published first I’m going to give this the benefit of the doubt and include it in my list. As for the actual movie itself, it’s a decent mystery that builds into a haunted house style movie with a bit of a twist at the end. The mystery has a good build up and the visual style is excellent, but the characters left me a little bit wanting.
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Officer Downe

Officer Downe 2016

Even though this is seemingly a regular occurrence for me, I’m still surprised when I find new, low budget superhero or comic book movies that had slipped under my radar in the previous few years. This one came out late last year, produced by one of the directors of the Crank movies and directed by a member of Slipknot and was recently made available on Netflix streaming. It’s based on a short lived and lesser known comic from Image comics and the film itself is a colorful, kinetic, ultraviolent, grindhouse-esque movie with a lot more tongue-in-cheek humor to it. The set up is a lot of wacky and bloody fun that doesn’t entirely make sense, but takes you along for the ride until things get a little too self-serious towards the end as the joke starts losing its effectiveness. But I still had a blast with it.
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The Phantom

The Phantom 2009

This is one of the very few superhero miniseries that I know of, it aired on the Sci-Fi channel back in 2009 in two parts. While it was initially conceived of as a backdoor pilot it never actually materialized into a series. There are extremely loose ties to the 90’s Billy Zane Phantom movie, but for the most part this updated the Phantom into the 21st century as a teen aged, parkour loving douchebag with an updated costume that gives him a few extra super powers. But as a miniseries, it takes way too much time trying to set up all the relationships and the new Phantom as a character, but that ultimately makes most of this miniseries uninteresting. There are only a few action set pieces, the villains are uninspired, and there’s a plot twist that I saw coming the moment the character stepped on screen. It’s not awful by any means, but it’s just incredibly mediocre.
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The Legend of the Lone Ranger

The Legend of the Lone Ranger

This is the third Lone Ranger movie that I’ve seen so far from this site. I went from the most recent one with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in 2013 on back to the original feature film spun off from the TV show back in 1952. Out of the three, this is definitely the worst, and surprisingly it follows a few of the same beats as the 2013 movie as it covers the origin of the Lone Ranger since it was essentially supposed to be a reboot of the story from the 50’s. The big difference is that this film runs an hour shorter. It cast two unknowns in the roles of Tonto and John Reid as well as Christopher Lloyd as Butch Cavendish who was also a character in the 2013 film, likely because they both pull from the same sources. This film also ends with a train heist, though it’s much more truncated as the plan is more interested in kidnapping the president than anything else. But the film lacks action, acting, even much of a score, not to mention that it opened just a month before Raiders of the Lost Ark which was far and away a much better film than this one.
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Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues

Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues 2016

There’s a few reasons why I haven’t covered any motion comics on this site before now. The biggest reason is that every motion comic that I’ve looked into is presented more like a TV season, with each issue of the comic that it’s adapting is its own episode and there tends to be a half dozen to a dozen episodes. Queen of Plagues is presented as a single movie that runs just over an hour, but the animation style is still much more like the typical motion comic style where the comic book art is translated almost exactly to screen with only minor changes to remove text boxes and animation based on moving and stretching the original art elements. While the voice work and animation – specifically the lip synch – fall in line with my limited experience with motion comics, it is much better than some of the lower budget ones that I’ve heard about with only a single voice actor and no lip synch animation at all. The film itself was a nice story even though it took a little while to get going.
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Darkman 3: Die Darkman Die

Darkman 3: Die Darkman Die 1996

After watching the second Darkman movie, I didn’t exactly have high hopes for the third entry in the franchise and while most of it faced the same mediocrity as the second movie, it went a few places in the second half that I didn’t quite expect and surprisingly enjoyed. What helped the most was that this film didn’t try and just re-do what the first film did with a slightly different premise, but it actually took the character in a new-but-believable direction. There are still plenty of mistakes along the way, but it was a worthy attempt.
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Darkman 2: The Return of Durant

Darkman 2: The Return of Durant 1995

Darkman is a movie that I’ve actually seen a surprising number of times considering that I’m someone who rarely re-watches movies unless it’s for a reason. In the past five years writing for this site, I’ve watched it four times. Once for the initial review, once for an episode of Filmwhys, once because someone was doing a group livetweet of it, and I rewatched it again because I borrowed the entire Darkman trilogy from the library so why not? I never knew much about the sequels other than they are obviously not as good as the Raimi original and they brought in Arnold Vosloo to replace Liam Neeson. The first sequel was ok, but nothing really stood out to keep my attention. Just a lackluster pseudo-revenge tale where the revenge wasn’t even that important and had a hard time keeping my interest.
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