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Santo en la Venganza de la Momia

Santo en la Venganza de la Momia 1971

This is the third Santo movie that I’ve watched and the second one that I’m reviewing for Hispanic Heritage Month. They have been an interesting series of movies to showcase a popular Mexican luchador who transitioned to comics before starring in movies all while being popular for several decades. They all follow the same basic premise: Santo has a wrestling match and then he gets involved in some sort of mystery involving something supernatural. This one has a unique distinction of being more like Scooby Doo because of the ending, but it still follows the same overall structure. There’s more comic relief and a little bit of heart added to the narrative, but overall it was just more of the same.

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Santo y Blue Demon Contra Dracula y el Hombre Lobo

Santo y Blue Demon Contra Dracula y el Hombre Lobo 1973

A few weeks ago when I was at the library, I noticed that they had four of the classic Santo movies. And while there are 53 different Santo movies that came out between the 60’s and 80’s I’ve currently only watched the most famous one that was also featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. After I borrowed this title, I happened to notice that there’s a blogathon going on that coincides with this movie. It’s been a long time since I’ve joined in a blogathon so I thought this would be the perfect timing, especially as it’s Hispanic Heritage Month. If you’d like more information, head over to Once Upon a Screen to see more about the blogathon. I hope to cover at least one more of the films in the next two weeks, but we’ll see about that. As for the film itself, it was more or less what I expected based on my previous experience, though the production values were slightly higher as it came out ten years later. It wasn’t that deep, it was weird but not over the top campy, and I had fun with it for the most part.

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Mutafukaz

Mutafukaz aka M*F*K*Z 2018

Every once in a while a movie catches my eye for whatever reason, either at a store or at the library. I don’t really know anything about it except for what it says on the back of the box. And every once in a while, I just happen to see those magic words “based on the comic” which is what happened with this movie. I have vague memories of seeing posters of this movie when it made the rounds last year, but for whatever reason I didn’t pay too much attention to it. And that’s despite the fact that it was distributed by GKIDS who have handled some of my favorite animated films that I’ve covered on this site. This is from a very popular French comic that was produced by a Japanese animation studio, released with an English dub (which was the version I watched), and takes place in a city with a primarily Hispanic population so it’s oddly multicultural. There are plenty of adult themes, violence, humor, and all sorts of different genres mashed up in a generally pleasing manner.

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Top 10 Aliens in the Men in Black Movies

With the recent home video release of Men in Black International, I thought it was a perfect time for me to revisit the original trilogy as well as the rebootquel and come up with a list of my 10 favorite aliens in the series. Plus, aside from the second one, I do enjoy watching all of these movies and the first and third are some of my favorite movies. I liked the rebootquel more than most, but I’m not too broken up that it doesn’t seem like it will continue into its own franchise. Also, this is part of my Patreon rewards program, for just $1 a month, you could get early access to articles like these and help decide on a movie that I review each month. So click right here and help support this site and help it continue to grow.

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Avengers Grimm: Time Wars

Avengers Grimm: Time Wars 2018

One of the biggest challenges with a niche site like this is that with such a big movie marketplace, it’s easy to overlook smaller titles because they don’t have the marketing behind them. I’m always keeping my eye out for new titles, but I don’t always catch them until a year or more later. That’s the case with the latest superhero-esque mockbuster from the Asylum. I had previously watched and reviewed the first Avengers Grimm and the spin-off/sequel Sinister Squad, but I completely missed the fact that they made a third movie in this loosely connected series of movies last year to coincide with Avengers: Infinity War. They have long since passed using any sort of celebrity but did bring back the actress who played Snow White in Avengers Grimm as well as the actors who played Alice and Hatter from Sinister Squad. It did feel like it had a slightly more coherent plot, but all sense of campiness was lost and what was left was just a mediocre movie.

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #92: Howard The Duck

So strange, we had to use a poster from another country to do it justice!

#92: Howard The Duck

Or

How Did This EVER Get Made?

Uuuhhhhhhhhhh…….

First Impressions

…… Right. This film was one that I’d heard of before but had never bothered trying to watch. And when I say I’d heard of it, my entire knowledge of it is that:

1) The Nostalgia Critic did a review of it.
2) There are female duck breasts on screen. I’m not joking.
3) It’s based on a loved but obscure Marvel comic character.

That’s it. That’s my entire previous knowledge of this film. I didn’t even look anything up about it before I watched it because I wanted to go in blind. I’m fairly sure I made the right call, so if you also haven’t seen it yet, I would suggest doing so before reading this review (unless you don’t mind spoilers or just want to prove me wrong).

So I hit play, I watched it and now I need to talk about it. Be prepared, this review is going to some weird places.

The Characters

  • Howard The Duck (Ed Gale/Chip Zien)

    There’s honestly way too much to unpack here for me to not make this the longest review I’ll ever write. So here’s what you need to know. He’s brought from a duck planet to ours by Deus Ex Machina, he’s supposedly a master fighter but manages to not really show that at all, he effectively forgets that he has a girlfriend from the moment he meets Lea Thompson and his jokes don’t land. However, for a product of its time, he actually works quite well. And compared to the live action TMNT of the 90’s, it’s astounding how well the duck costume works! But this character was definitely one that should have been on the back burner for a while before being brought forward, not the first Marvel live action film main star!
  • Beverly (Lea Thompson)

    So remember when Lea Thompson played Lorraine in BTTF? Well, take the young version of that, imagine her as a punk rocker who spends a fairly long scene in her underwear and then accept that she’s the love interest of the film. Yeah, you’ve got this character down. She’s fun, she’s very odd and she works really well. The only issue I had was that the bed scene (yep, there’s a bed scene) kinda looked like she was attempting to canoodle with a large kid’s toy. And that I just had to write that last sentence…
  • Phil Blumburtt (Tim Robbins)

    I….. honestly don’t know how to describe this guy. He’s insane, he’s very annoying and he’s kinda hard to watch. At least until the demon arrives. Then it’s as if Tim Robbins simply said “Screw it, I’m just going to have fun here!” and he hits the right level of snarky and over-the-top. And anyone who hasn’t seen the film is probably more interested in the demon bit. Don’t worry, he’s next! But seriously, this film has two very different versions of this character, with the latter half making up for the former half. So an overall “ok” grade then.
  • Dr Walter Jennings (Jeffrey Jones)

    And in this film about space ducks and a very odd 80’s Cleveland, OH, we reach the strangest character in the film. He starts off just fine. And then he’s possessed by an ancient evil from outer space (just roll with it) and starts to talk as if Judge Doom (the REAL JD) had a total laryngectomy. And he stays just like that for about 80% of his screen-time. This was a VERY odd choice. And I don’t know if it was the right one. It really is difficult to get used to. I’m sure many people love this guy, but it really didn’t work for me.

The Setting

I’m going to simply type out how this film is set and let you do the jokes in your own head.

“A 27-year old Howard from Duckworld gets sucked into space and lands in 1980’s Cleveland, Ohio. He meets (in chronological order) the front lady for an all-female rock band, a scientist who’s actually a janitor and a scientist who becomes a demon. He then saves the world.”

Yeah, there’s nothing I can say that could poke more fun at that premise than the premise itself. So, moving on!

Who Is This Film For?

I’m honestly not sure who this was made for. Clearly the people involved were passionate about the project, since it’s just so odd that anyone not invested would have just given up or underperformed. I’ve done a little research into Howard and it seems like there’s quite a huge lore and rich history there. He even fights a Hellcow. I bet you wish they’d put that in this film! But anyway, back to the question at hand. I feel like everyone involved had an idea in their heads, but it never lined up. This also feels kinda like a first draft that nobody ever bothered to go back to before filming started. It’s definitely not one of the worst films of all time, but it’s nowhere near good cinema!

Anyway, on to Bubba’s thoughts on the whole thing.

I’ve actually seen this a few times now and I think the more I see it, the more I appreciate it although I would never in my right mind call this a good movie. There’s a lot to appreciate here, front and center is Lea Thompson’s Beverly. One of the most talked about scenes in this movie is when she is coming on to Howard, but I think it’s actually a more subtle performance and it’s more like they are joking around with each other and she is calling Howard’s bluff. You can see it in her face right before she starts going at him. Most of the rest of the movie just plain doesn’t make sense though. There’s nearly adult humor, like how Howard gets a job as a mop boy at what appears to be a sex motel. There’s an odd chase scene with an ultralight plane. Nearly every person in the film reacts differently to the fact that Howard is a duck, they either scream or act like it’s completely normal. And the rest of the acting is way over the top. It’s tough to know if they were really going for action, comedy, love story, or adventure and it fails at most of them.

Without going too much farther, it’s an odd thing to say but this is the first theatrical adaptation of a Marvel comic. Instead of going with one of their A-list characters, or even their B or C list characters, they go with the adult satirical non-superhero Howard the Duck. Not only that, but they get a pedigree behind it, George Lucas helped push to get this film made. And while it was originally considered as an animated film, they pushed up the release date and decided to make it live action to shorten the production time. This caused plenty of headaches with the duck suit and ultimately it became a box office bomb. It only grossed $37M worldwide on a $36M budget. In 1986. Nowadays it’s a bit of a cult film but overall it’s still considered one of the worst comic book movies ever made. But even so, nothing can take away from the fact that this was the first theatrically released Marvel movie.

Thanks once again Mr Wheat! So, let’s dive right into the last part. It’s time to ask those three important 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?

And before a Dark Overlord turns up, let’s get those answered!

1) Yeeeeeeeesssss? It’s something that a few of my friends would find fascinating. However I’d never suggest that someone who isn’t fully prepped. So make sure you adequately prepare anyone you suggest this to.

2) Yes it does. Despite any particular feelings you may have about this film, it is the first proper Marvel Live Action film (if you don’t count the 1944 Captain America B&W serial, which you shouldn’t) and as such should have a place on the list. And speaking of that…

3) Well, here it is:

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

Potential Substitutions:

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

I’m sure you guessed where it would go. It wasn’t quite the earliest Superhero film, but it was obscure and an attempt to bring a more interesting character to the masses. And possibly with more care and attention (and just better effects overall), we can get a remake/reboot that will do the character justice in the not-too-distant future.

And so, with all that being said, I better get out of here before I have to lay some Quack Fu on a local band manager!

Bulletproof Monk

Bulletproof Monk 2003

I believe that this is the last movie on my list of relatively well known comic book movies that I never got around to before now. It’s still relatively obscure enough that it was more or less a bomb with poor reviews, but I had heard of this film before starting this site so that’s saying something. I didn’t really know anything about it except for the two leads. Apparently it’s basically a chosen one story with some wire work martial arts where Chow Yun-Fat teaches Stifler from American Pie to become a mini-Neo. Ultimately it fares quite a bit better than the other martial arts movie with an American Pie alum Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, but the special effects, direction and plot left much to be desired.

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Almost Super: Fast Color

Almost Super: Fast Color 2019

This is another instance that reminds me a little bit of Sleight and Darkest Minds, three movies that have a Black protagonist and super powers (of sorts), but only one of them did I actually decide to put it on my list of superhero movies. While this movie does have super powers, the big thing that it lacks is heroism. That’s not to say it’s not a good movie. I actually enjoyed the hell out of it. And similar to Sleight, there is enough set up here that it the world of the movie continues either in sequels or a TV series and amps up the heroic aspect of the characters I would rethink my decision. But as it stands with this single movie, it falls just over the line as a sci-fi movie with super powers rather than a full fledged superhero movie. Though there’s enough here that I wouldn’t argue against anyone else who would consider it the other way.

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Look, Up in the Sky

Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman 2006

I just recently mentioned that many of these comic book documentaries all felt the same, with plenty of comic book illustrations and talking head interviews with artists and writers. This one is actually quite a notable step up and part of that comes with the pedigree. At least in part, it was created to tie in with Superman Returns, which brought about plenty of Superman nostalgia as it was basically created as a sequel to Superman II. It also helped bring about the Richard Donner cut of that movie, and as a result, this has a lot of star power in terms of its interviews. It also has a large amount of varying media depictions of Superman starting from the early radio programs all the way up through Smallville and Superman Returns. But similar to my recent viewing of the Shazam DC Spotlight, this didn’t feel like it was just a promotional vehicle for Superman Returns, it was a full fledged Superman documentary that gave equal weight to the new movie as it did every other part of Superman’s history. And it did such with a fair amount of interesting and entertaining information.

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BlokeBusting The Essentials #43: Captain America: The First Avenger

#43: Captain America: The First Avenger

Or

Ice, Ice, Nazi!

A film by Marvel featuring an actor who previously played a Marvel character in a totally different role? That’s so crazy it just might work…

First Impressions

So this film was originally one that I didn’t enjoy much. Now I liked the comedy, I found the premise fun but it just didn’t stick with me and didn’t grip me the same way the other MCU films of the time did. And now, having seen Endgame and seen the ultimate arc of all the characters involved, it’s time to revisit and re-review. Let’s see how it holds up…

The Characters

For the sake of all our sanity, I will be focusing on who I feel are really worth mentioning from the film.

  • Steve Rogers/Captain AmericaChris Evans

    In case you all forgot, Mr Evans originally starred in the two Fantastic Four films from the mid 2000’s. And he wasn’t bad. He didn’t come off as great, but that might have had more to do with the script (more on that down the line). So when Marvel announced that they’d picked him to play The First Avenger, we all gave a collective “NANI!!!” in response. And in this film, he’s good. You can see the rough edges to his character and he does a great job of being the boy who just wants to help fight the war, even when the government just says “Put on a suit and look pretty!”. And with hindsight, this portrayal clearly had notes from a company that really could see the big picture. There’s moments that seemed so throw away but end up being the seeds of a big moment down the line. And the fact that there wasn’t a lantern hanging on them was a big feather in his “Cap”! So yeah, “Flame On” Steve, because you were very rightly cast.
  • Peggy Carter – Hayley Atwell

    Just more of this. More and more please. The fact that Agent Carter got cancelled so early (yes, I consider 2 seasons early) is still astonishing to me. If my daughter grows up to be even remotely like Hayley’s portrayal of Peggy in these films/shows, I will be a very happy father. She’s got style, class, a fiery temper and is more capable than pretty much anyone else at what she does. So yeah. Moving on.
  • Bucky Barnes – Sebastian Stan

    This character felt a little forced for me back then. And, with hindsight and foresight, it’s still a little ham fisted seeing him in this film. I know we accept that him and Steve have been friends forever and that he still only sees Cap as his buddy, but his character really does only seem to exist for Cap to have somebody to lose at the end. Which is kinda odd since he also loses Peggy (technically she loses him, but semantics…), so I still felt like his character needed a little more fleshing out. Now, down the line we see him get WAY more to do, and so this was probably the best way to do it at the time since a longer runtime might have scared people off back then. But still, a bit more Bucky story would be a big improvement for me.
  • Col. Chester Phillips – Tommy Lee Jones

    This guy is funny. It’s like they walked up to Tommy Lee Jones and simply said “You know that role in MIB you had? We want you to do that again but this time even more grumpy and straight-faced!”. Leslie Nielson said that the funniest moments come from acting totally straight in a comedy, and TLJ proves that here. “He’s still skinny.”, “I’m not kissing you”, “If you have something to say, right now’s a perfect time to keep it to yourselves.”. The man can deliver the lines flawlessly. I’m totally serious when I say that he is the funniest character in the film. And I am really glad they got TLJ to play him!

The Setting

If you aren’t aware by now, which would be rather impressive, this film is an alternate WW2 scenario. Steve Rogers is made in a super soldier and then good ‘ol USA kicks some Nazi butt. Except there’s sooooooo much more than that waiting here. There’s so much detail that they squeeze in and so much groundwork set. It really is only on a re-watching after the fact that you can appreciate what they did with this film. And despite the war setting, it really doesn’t feel too much like a full-on war film. So yeah, well done Marvel!

Context Is Key

This film was obviously judged as a mostly stand-alone film when it came out. There were very, VERY few people who knew the scope of what Marvel had in store back then. And obviously we couldn’t see what had been put in front of our eyes until we started getting callbacks. So here’s my suggestion to you:

If you are going to watch these, watch them in order once. Then watch them in order again. After the second viewing, make your decision about the film.

There’s many people I know who don’t enjoy this film when it came out. There’s many I know who LOVED this film, and still do!. I fell into the camp of “Meh” when I first saw it, but I think you can feel where I stand on it by now. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that context matters with this film, as with many of the MCU entries. We can’t judge it by itself because it very much does not stand by itself. And I know that will be a recurring theme in the months to come, so I shall try not to repeat myself too much. “Dormammu!”

Right, let’s see what Bubba has to say before we pass sentence on this film!

I don’t think I had actually seen this since I watched it during the first couple months of this site shortly after going through the all the Superman movies. At the time, I thought it was decent but had a few cliche moments and felt that the Tesseract weapons were a poor excuse for PG-13 violence. This time around I really appreciated it a lot more and loved how much they called back to this original movie as time has gone on and Captain America has appeared in many more films. The friendship with Bucky, the “I can do this all day”, to the relationship with Peggy Carter. Captain America was really fully formed by the end of this movie. He’s evolved through the later movies, but they really hit the core of his character right off the bat. There were still some rough around the edges moments and Red Skull looked great but was lacking as a real threat.

This is the origin of the top tier Phase one character next to Iron Man. Chris Evans has really made the role his own and this is where it all started. It’s the lowest grossing MCU movie aside from the Incredible Hulk with $176M/$370M worldwide and it was the last Phase one movie to come out before the first Avengers. It helped make the Avengers into the cinematic juggernaut, it gave Peggy Carter a spin off series a few years later. It’s a great film with a retro feel to it as director Joe Johnston had cut his teeth on the Rocketeer in the 90’s. And as a hero, Captain America is someone who gets chosen because of his character and made into the hero that he always should have been. Plus, it has Cap punching Hitler in the face.

Nicely done Mr Wheat. And so, with all the subtlety of Cap’s stage punches, let us move to the 3 big 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?

Ok, in short order…

1) Yep. A great origin story, a fun romp and some fantastic ground work for the series. Next question!

2) Yep. See above!

3) Well, I’m sure you can assume roughly where this is going. So here’s the updated rankings!

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

Yep, bet that surprised you! Despite all the good about this film, the fact that it does require some outside context to fully appreciate it means that I just can’t give it the top spot. It’s still a lot of fun though!

So stay true to your ideals, keep your friends close and (until next time) always watch out for that little sneaky Hitler creeping up behind you!