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Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens 2011

Now that I’ve finished watching every comic book movie of 2016, my latest quest is to finish watching every major comic book movie ever made. And while this may have been a large task a few years ago, depending on what metric you look at, I only have six movies left that have had a significant box office take and have more than a few thousand user ratings on IMDB. This movie, the Losers, Red, Red 2, Blue is the Warmest Color, and Push. So my goal is to finish off these last few films during the rest of January and all I’ll have left is the obscure and new releases left to cover. Coming back to today’s film, I pretty much skipped over this film when it was released in theaters. It wasn’t on my radar at all, and afterwards it pretty much fell off the face of the internet. It’s an odd mix of genres, a sci-fi western works better when there’s western elements in a sci-fi setting rather than vice versa. Though I suppose I was a fan of Brisco County Jr. But this film did not work for me or my wife whatsoever. It just never felt quite right and we couldn’t get past the incredulity of cowboys fighting highly advanced aliens.
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Barbarella 1968

I had heard a little bit about this film and always had in the back of my mind that it was based on a comic book but for some reason it hadn’t made it to my master list before now. But this month I was granted a new free trial of Netflix and went through all of their superhero and comic book offerings and came up with a list of eight films to try and watch during this month. For whatever reason, this was the first film that I decided to check out from that list, I guess I was in the mood for a cheesy sci-fi movie, and while I knew it was going to be somewhat of a sex romp, I was still a little surprised at how much nudity and sexuality came through in this film even though much of it was edited out during some theatrical releases of the film in the US. Barbarella originally started out as a comic strip in a French magazine before being collected in a series of graphic novels and eventually translated into English. It even ran in Heavy Metal magazine. As for the movie, it’s generally notable as it stars Jane Fonda but is basically a B-movie sci-fi film with a mix of sex and adventure.

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Filmwhys #45 The Terminator and Timecop

Episode 45 of the Why Haven’t You Seen This Film Podcast where my guest is David Brook from Blueprint: Review who asks me why I haven’t seen the Terminator, the iconic film that really showed the world that Schwarzenegger could do more than just be a giant barbarian and that James Cameron could do amazing things with a small budget. And in return, I ask him why he hadn’t seen Timecop, the not quite iconic film that showed the world that Jean Claude Van Damme could still do the jumping splits and not a whole lot else, but the movie still captures the essence of 90’s sci-fi.
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Men in Black 3

Men in Black 3 2012

And now it’s time to finish up this alien crime-fighting trilogy with the third installment. Though of course in this day and age it’s doubtful that this franchise will settle with a mere three films though there’s no telling if the next one will end up being a sequel or a reboot. Of course, with the way the film universe is situated, it would be easy to create a sequel with all new characters, but still within the same continuity but I’m getting way off track here. While I did watch this film back when it came out in 2012, that was during my first year of writing for this site and I had a bit more narrow definition of what I was going to be covering. But even if I didn’t think of these films as being superhero films, they are still based off of comics as inspiration if not directly source material. While the first two films had five years in between them, the next two had a ten year gap. And yet, with a larger gap came a fresher outlook on the characters and the setting. Instead of rehashing the plot of the first two films, it went in a different direction and brought up a tried and true sci-fi concept with time travel, brought in Josh Brolin doing a spot on young Tommy Lee Jones impression, and Jermaine Clement doing a spot on young Tim Curry impression. It was just as much fun as the original, and brought in some nice callbacks without feeling rehashed.
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The Guyver

The Guyver 1991

I was always a relatively big fan of anime. I watched a lot of the anime films shown on cable in the 90’s as well as the cartoons and shows inspired by anime and Japanese shows. This movie reminded me a lot of those types of kids shows with a mix of Ultraman, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, and whatever else got in the mix. It also has a couple icons of TV and cinema, albeit for completely different reasons, as well as a small stable of horror regulars from both behind the camera and in front. The one thing this movie does well is a large number of creature effects including a small handful of amazing transformation. On the other hand, even though there are a few noted actors, there are plenty of amateurs and it definitely shows. There’s not a Troll 2 or the Room level of bad acting, but no one is winning any awards for their delivery here. There’s an overly complicated setup that makes very little sense when you get right down to it, and yet the whole thing is more or less supposed to be a comedy. While it did make me laugh out loud a small handful of times, it was often for the wrong reasons.
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Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy 2014

There are a few things that I don’t do lightly, one of them is to go to the movie theater not just on opening weekend, but on opening night. Of course, it does help that these days opening night isn’t the midnight showing, I was able to catch a nice early 8pm showing and it wasn’t even the first one. But the reason why I ventured out to do this is because I was really excited to see this movie and my usual time to go on Saturday morning wasn’t nearly as early as I would have liked. But that’s all beside the point, I’ve been excited to see Guardians of the Galaxy from the first teaser and the fact that it’s directed by James Gunn. While he doesn’t have a perfect track record, I could really get behind what he’s trying to sell here. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Specials, but Tromeo and Juliet was my first Troma film, I enjoyed the live action Scooby-Doo movie for what it was, and I’m a big fan of his Super. It’s still crazy to think how Gunn was chosen for this movie in the first place, but I’m glad he was. The humor hit in all the right places for me, the soundtrack was amazing, and the ecclectic cast somehow managed to mesh in just the right ways. I don’t think it’s the Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back of the Marvel Universe as I’ve heard it called, but it’s another well placed entry in the universe.
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Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow 2014

It may come as no surprise to you that I am a fan of sci-fi movies. Yes, technically most superhero movies can also be lumped into the catch-all science fiction category as the very idea of a person with superhuman abilities whether alien, mutation, or technological is in its very essence science fiction. But I am just as much a fan of the general aliens & technology versions of sci-fi that I don’t nearly as often get to cover on this site. In fact, I didn’t catch any of the sci-fi movies that came out last year even though many were considered to be bad-to-mediocre. But I had heard a lot of great things about Edge of Tomorrow, and I am also a huge fan of the concept of a time loop, so much so that I even wrote a player-created mission for the now defunct City of Heroes MMO based around the time loop concept. And since this was based on an illustrated novel which was also adapted into a manga both under the title All You Need is Kill I thought it was a perfect excuse to actually watch it, albeit quite a bit later than most who actually gave it a chance. And you know what? Everyone was right about this movie. It takes the concept of the time loop and really gets the chance to explore things in a way that it hasn’t exactly been done before, while still covering all the usual bases in an entertaining fashion. It’s an excellent movie and it’s a shame that it didn’t translate as well into box office dollars.
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Filmwhys #26 District 9 & Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Welcome back to another episode of Filmwhys, episode 26 of the Why Haven’t You Seen This Film Podcast where my guest is Shala Thomas from Life Between Films who asks me why I haven’t seen District 9, the surprising sci-fi debut of Neill Blomkamp about an alien spaceship stranded above Johannesburg where the aliens get placed in a slum on the outskirts of the city and eventually become a hotbed of racial tension and xenophobia. And in return, I ask her why she hasn’t seen Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, the Joss Whedon experiment in web content during the writer’s strike from several years ago about the rise of a super-villain done as a catchy musical.
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Robocop 2014

So I once again managed to make it out to theaters to catch a new release this year which brings my total up to 3, and while I didn’t make any official goal this year, it’s bringing me well on my way of reaching last year’s goal of 10 theatrical viewings which I only made it about halfway. I had a few reservations about seeing it, it is a reboot and these kinds of reboots of 80’s movies have had a pretty hit and miss track record. The early reviews coming in were mixed, so I had some hope there. And when I watched it, I quite liked what I saw. But when I discussed it for an upcoming Lambcast episode, it didn’t hold up very well to dissection. There is a great cast here, there are some updates that work quite well, from the drones angle to the conservative news show host, and even some nice little callbacks to the original movie. But there are also quite a few missteps in the movie, like the fact that while the satire is on a different topic and scale than the original, it also carries much less of an impact, and the final act doesn’t carry any of the same punches as the original. There’s nothing wrong with the movie by any means, but it’s not much of an improvement and like most remakes, it wasn’t really needed in the long run.
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Dredd 2012

I’m not entirely sure how I ended up missing this movie last year, along with pretty much everyone else that missed this movie during it’s fairly poor theatrical run. I did actually watch it earlier this year before watching the Stallone Judge Dredd but I decided not to review it mainly because I watched it on my small laptop and the visuals, especially the slomo visuals were something that the little screen couldn’t appropriately capture. So instead I waited until I got around to watching it on my bigger screen TV so I could more appropriately judge the movie on the ever-important visuals and I was happily willing to watch it due to the interesting plot and characters. It is a far cry from the Stallone feature, both in quality of special effects, as well as the overall tone and level of violence. It is a very violent and bloody movie along the lines of what could be a Punisher movie, but it’s generally never excessive or reveling in the gore. And more to the point, especially for fans of the original character Dredd: he never takes off his helmet.
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