Aisle of the Damned: 11/17/17- Under the Rainbow

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It’s time for the biggest superhero movie of the year. No, not that one. Thor: Ragnarok is ready to hammer its way into your heart. But that’s not all! Bryan and Kent also take a look at the latest version of Murder on the Orient Express and the Netflix release The Babysitter.

But wait! That’s not all! We also talk news about Star Wars, Creed 2, Fox and Disney rumors, and the Sony Spider-Manless-Universe. And we’re not done yet! Vinegar Syndrome’s Orgy of the Dead release tries to do right by Ed Wood!

All this and less on Aisle of the Damned!

Music:
The Aquabats- Stuck in a Movie
St. Vincent- Black Rainbow

Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: Thor: The Dark World

Come to daddy. The worst thing about Thor: The Dark World is the greasy hair. Apparently, despite their civilization lasting since the dawn of time, they haven’t figured out how to make shampoo because everyone looks like they haven’t washed their coifs in weeks.

That aside, the second follow-up to The Avengers succeeds in being probably my favorite sequel produced by Marvel so far. (We’ll have to see how the second Captain America comes out as the trailer is pretty freakin’ great.)

So first things first. I saw the new film in 3D so I could see the exclusive Cap preview. Is it necessary to see Thor 2 in 3D? Not at all. If I see it again (and I just may), I will be going with the standard option. The 3D does your standard mediocre conversion job, much like Iron Man 3. (Though this is certainly better than the awful job that was done on the first Thor.)

On to the most important things: how is the movie itself? I’m giving it the same grade as Iron Man 3, but I think I like this film a smidge better. The main differences are that while I had my problems with the last Iron Man film to be sure, Shane Black’s dialogue was fantastic. While there are some great moments of dialogue in Thor, it is certainly not at the same level. However, I enjoyed the story more (it didn’t seem like as much of a retread of the previous film as the pattern the Iron Man films have followed) and overall I liked the tone of the film more despite some puzzling, but not devastating, choices with the editing.

The film borrows heavily from Walt Simonson’s run on the character for its main plot involving a race of dark elves from before our universe began. They sought to return the universe to the darkness that they knew and were put down by Bor, father of Odin. If there’s a flaw in the film’s storytelling it is this bit; while the motivations of the elves in many ways mimic those of General Zod from this summer’s Man of Steel in destroying what is to try to bring back a facsimile of what was, less attention is paid to giving the elves or their leader, Malekith, much exposition as to their motivation. It’s forgivable to me because in classic myth there is rarely clear-cut motivation. Characters of these archetypes are usually simply good or evil. Creators/keepers of the status quo or destroyers. And that’s the case with comics as well. I adore Simonson’s run as possibly the best use of the character in his long and storied history, but I don’t remember Malekith being particularly deep on the page either. I just remember his looking like a black and blue version of Frank Gorshin on Star Trek. What’s clear is that they’re bad guys, just like other one-dimensional villains that have run the gamut from the great Star Wars stormtroopers to the hilarious drug-peddling ninjas in Miami Connection. Faceless lackies meant to be menacing.

Marvel adapts the plot to fit with the more cosmic-oriented Asgard of the film universe. This is just fine with me because I have always found the myth-based and cosmic lines of Marvel to be in largely similar in their use of confusing, logic-challenged wonkiness in service of big ideas and cool concepts. The elves are going to use a floating liquid called the “Aether” to remake the universe. How does that work? Hell if I know. But I don’t particularly care because the fact is, it does. Let’s take the maguffin at face value.
And the film delves far more into the myth and history of this particular version of Asgard than the first film which was largely an Earth-based origin story. It does a pretty good job balancing the action of the marauding elves with the family drama of the Asgardian royals and the subplots involving Jane Foster and her superscience pals from the first film.

Unsurprisingly Loki gets a pretty major role following his previous popular turns and his relationship with Thor remains prickly and emotional. Most of the actors and characters that I enjoyed from the original film return intact with Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo both in fine form as Thor’s parents. I’m one of the few defenders of Natalie Portman as Foster, feeling there’s a detectable chemistry between her and Thor. (Odd how some people seem to see it and some people don’t.) I’m also one of the people that actually really enjoyed Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgård and I, for one, loved how they were used in the film. I hate to drag other people’s opinions into my review, but I’ve seen complaining about the amount of ‘comic relief’ in the film. Some of it from the same people complaining about Man of Steel being too serious. All I can say is that the comedy worked great for me and I laughed throughout the film, never finding it to be too much for the heft of the story to bear. With the “wibbly wobbly timey wimpy” stuff in play, I don’t have any problem with being tongue in cheek. That was a big part of what I thought made The Avengers work so well. This isn’t on the same level, but it works. It doesn’t surprise me that Whedon came in to help on a few scenes.

The only characters that really get short changed are the Warriors Three. They do get their moments, but mostly they are fleeting. Here’s hoping they get further exposure in the next film.

I would have welcomed the return of Kenneth Branagh as director, but for a first feature, Dark World is a hell of a ‘debut’ for TV vet Alan Taylor. The film ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, true to its comic book roots. I can’t wait for the third chapter in the franchise and look forward to the big lunk’s return in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

(Four damns given out of five)

Aisle Of The Damned Episode IX: Joss Whedon Is My Master Now

In this super sized episode, we review the DVD of For A Few More Dollars, and the Blu-Rays of So I Married An Axe Murderer, Jason and The Argonauts, and Groundhog Day. We then go through our top five movies based on a TV Series. Finally a super in depth review of the greatest movie ever: The Avengers!

Music: The Aquabats – Stuck In A Movie, The Cardigans – Iron Man (cover)

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Twitter: @AisleofDamned

Email: aisleofthedamned@gmail.com

Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: The Cabin in the Woods

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So here’s the straight poop: you probably shouldn’t even be reading this review. Cabin in the Woods is the best kind of surprise. The kind of film you shouldn’t know anything about until you pull the bow on the box and it explodes in your face like one of Jokey Smurf’s boxes o’ sexual metaphor. In fact, even the carefully cut trailer gives away too much. You should pretty much just lock yourself into a bomb shelter with your fingers in your ears screeching “La la la!” at the top of your everloving pink lungs until you get to see it.

If you like horror films (heck, if you’ve even just plain seen a horror film from the last 30 years) than you should appreciate the film’s approach, given you have any kind of sense of humor and enjoyment of film tropes. It is the Community of genre-filmmaking: a brilliant screenwriting exercise that manages to be commentary and parody of something the creators are obviously deeply in love with, while not sacrificing what makes it work as a genuine classic of its genus at the same time. Like Community is to the American sitcom, hence the comparison.

In this case, the target is films about people (usually teens and students) going into the woods and finding something going bump in the night that may be animal, vegetable or mineral. A worthy foe indeed, as it has been well worn since the days that the first couple of Evil Deads were injecting themselves into the veins of midnight moviegoers with an axe.

At its core, this is often a film about the very nature of the viewers of horror films. The cheers at the kills, the obvious hearstring tugs that are attempted by throwing together one-dimensional groups of “identifiable” archtypes… but thankfully the wry observation never gets in the way of telling the story

Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, the writers and director, respectively, are thankfully up to the task and tear things wide open with an incredibly fun movie. They’ve both been long-time creators of that type of subversion of formula, mixing humor and horror on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Goddard proved himself as a solo writer with a fresh take on giant monster films with Cloverfield. And here they combine their efforts into a take fresh enough that it may make your smelly local cineplex feel like it’s been thoroughly Febreezed. This isn’t just a greatest hits reel of their time on The WB, as nice as that would have been. This is a dark movie that plays dirty and takes advantage of it’s R rating.

Emphasis on dark. Given the cinematography, thank God that the 3D conversion they started on this movie while it was shelved due to the great MGM debacle was nixed. Hopefully someday people in Hollywood will realize that converting stuff that takes place mostly at night is a terrible idea.

The actors in the movie are uniformly great. The kids have been seen in the trailers and they give performances that are so fantastically subtle in the slow transformation that takes place with their characters, that many people probably won’t even realize how good they are. (And of course, Amy Acker continues to be my muse.) But the true MVPs here are Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins. They’ve been kept off the ads for the film, but I don’t feel bad about disclosing their involvement due to the fact that theirs are the first characters to appear. In the final cut, they could very well make or break the film and boy, do they make it.

As much fun as it would be to simply rehash the great scenes and fantastic (and often hilarious) ideas, it would simply be a disservice to you, the folks at home. That conversation is something that will take place over many, many midnight screenings, slumber parties and film student dorm rooms to come over the next couple of decades.

(Five out of five stars)