Episode 2: Pat Loika and Albert Ching

ON-THE-MAN-296x300

On the new episode of Comics on the Matt, I’m joined by Podcaster and comics pro Pat Loika, and Senior Editor of Comic Book Resources Albert Ching. We discuss Wrestlemania, the passing of Ultimate Warrior and more! Enjoy!

Links:

Pat’s twitter here

Albert’s twitter here

Note: This episode was recorded a while ago thus why some major storyline haven’t been touched, but due to technical issues is coming out now. Still some great stuff here.

Better Living Through Filmography Episode 1.3: Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo

Good ol' slice n dice

In Better Living Through Filmography, co-host Kent views classic films for the first time and discusses them through a lens of movies, pop culture and life. Episodes of the first season post every other Wednesday.

In Episode 3, we get a lesson on the history of the Zatoichi film series, talk about its longevity, success and how this particular entry stands out for a number of reasons. And for the first of probably many times, there’s some butt kissing for the Criterion Collection.

Music:
Laurie Johnson– Happy-Go-Lively
Woolf Phillips and his Orchestra– Cocktails in Bermuda

Movie Noise: X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Host Derek Coward returns to talk about X-Men: Days Of Future Past. This show is also crossposted to the Comic Book Noise podcast.

Aisle of the Damned: Episode XXIII- It’s your kids, Professor X! Something’s gotta be done about your kids!

Time for a new episode, humans and mutants! YES. ALREADY. This time, Kent talks about Godzilla, Bryan waxes X-Men: Days of Future Past and we both like Neighbors. Then we wonder bewilderingly about Edgar Wright leaving Ant-Man and David Goyer being a total dick. Join up, will not you?

Music:
The Aquabats– Stuck in a Movie
Huey Lewis and the News– The Power of Love

Go-Kart Godzilla! Woo-ooo-oooo-ooo!

PLP – Episode 61 – Murder Mysteries Part 2

imageIn this episode we continue on with our murder mystery theme with a discussion on the films Devil in a Blue Dress and Mystic River. We begin with the Denzel Washington/Carl Franklin collaboration Devil in a Blue Dress. We discuss how the film lacked a certain oomph yet it wasn’t a particularly memorable one. We veer off into a discussion about Jennifer Beals and if she should have been replaced as the main female in the role, and who we would have placed in the film instead. We then movie into the Clint Eastwood directed film Mystic River. We discuss how both of us had seen the film prior yet neither of us remembered how the film ended. We mention the cast and the performances that are overwhelmingly good. Eric’s faulty memory is on display as he discusses how silly of a mystery the film is because he had it figured (wrongly) from the beginning. It’s another fun discussion join us won’t you?

Music:
Mystic River Main Theme

Facebook:
Eric Williams, Rachel Szelag, Plain Label Podcast

Twitter:
@EricWilliams79, @LadySzelag, @PlainLabelPod

http://plainlabelpodcast.tumblr.com
http://www.movienoise.com/plainlabel/podcasts/PlainLabelPodcast061.mp3

CWM: Godzilla

godzilla-2014-godzilla-plot-details-revealed-world-premiere-review-mild-spoilers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this episode of CWM, I’m joined by fellow life long Godzilla fans Paul Montgomery and Timmy Wood, we first delve into the news of Edger Wright leaving the Ant-Man film, before we discuss our personal histories with the original Godzilla films then getting into our thoughts on this new Godzilla movie. Who loved it, and who thought it was okay? Listen to find out!

Go here to listen to mine and Paul’s talk on the original Godzilla: here

Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men 5

We’re two for three in superhero movies so far this summer. Bryan Singer’s welcome return to the X-Men franchise is incredibly successful with Days of Future Past. I’m not sure that I can say I enjoyed it more than First Class, which I enjoyed initially and have liked even more with subsequent viewings, but between the two of them, the franchise has officially been rescued from the God-awful Last Stand and only slightly better Origins: Wolverine that were nearly the one-two punch that killed this cash cow. (Maybe I should have hoped for that so the characters could return to the Marvel fold, but we’ll let it go.)

Loosely adapted from one of the most popular stories that the characters have ever been involved in, it begins in an undisclosed future where mutants and many humans have been hunted down by the robotic Sentinels from the comic books. We get to see a few of the X-characters in this future that I honestly never believed would appear unless it was the kind of crap cameo that Brett Ratner relegated Psyclocke to. We get Blink, man. I am honestly flabbergasted about that one. And she is done well. (For those that don’t know, Blink is a popular mutant that creates portals. She seems depowered and decidedly non-lilac in this instance, but still.) It feels much less like the mutants of the film are getting short shrift here just to pack in as many as possible the way some of the lesser movies have done. In a departure from comic lore, Wolverine is sent back in time to stop the Sentinel program from ever being started. (In the comics, it was Kitty Pryde that did the honors, which I would have welcomed instead of getting yet another Wolverine-centric movie, but the bean counters at Fox apparently think only his bub-ness sells tickets, First Class to the contrary.)

It is a little surprising to me that Singer seems more at ease with the cast of First Class over the runtime than those of the original film since Matthew Vaughn was at the helm for that one. I guess maybe he was hands-on as a producer? In any case, aside from some clunky exposition that even Patrick Stewart can’t keep from sounding overdone (and he has a lot of experience with exposition from Star Trek) the movie gets going quickly and doesn’t stop often. It all comes out a bit Terminator-ish, but then Marvel beat Cameron to the punch by a couple of years so all’s fair.

The time-travel reset button is a brilliant thing to do on multiple fronts. Number one, it gives the people currently making the films a chance to eliminate all the horrible decisions made when Fox was in the mentality that the X-Men films a) needed to be forced into a trilogy, because that’s just how it’s done and b) needed to be crapped out as soon as possible in order to punish Bryan Singer for taking a job directing Superman Returns. I think making that movie was punishment enough. Number two, it allows the use of both the original characters and the new cast that earned the right to continue the series. Number three, it creates the possibility of doing two equally deserving continuities, one in the past and one in the present going forward. If this is Fox trying to play catch up with Marvel Studios, all I can say is bravo for doing it in an incredibly inventive and dramatically fulfilling way compared to Sony and their botched Spider-Man experiment.

Even though it is yet another movie with Wolverine front and center, we get to spend a lot of time with Charles (Professor X) and Erik (Magneto) in both timelines, and the film is all the better because of it. Their relationship is by far the most interesting part of this series and First Class made that painfully obvious. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender continue to be fantastic in their roles. At this point they own them just as much as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. Combine that with pretty meaty parts for Mystique and Beast and you have a much more rounded ensemble film than it could have been. They lucked out when they cast Jennifer Lawrence and they seem to know it, making her an integral part of the story. As per the aforementioned Blink and Kitty (Ellen Page, returning as one of the two good things from X3 worth saving), as well as other mutants like Iceman, Bishop and Storm, they aren’t really given much to do for an arc, but they’re well used enough in action sequences that they don’t feel like they’re given short shrift. Many others have glorified cameos, but nothing feels particularly forced.

The only other new characters to truly be of note are pretty much Evan Peters as Qucksilver and Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask. Both are excellent. For all the hubbub about Quicksilver appearing in both this film and the second Avengers film, I doubt there will be much similarity in the portrayals. In Future Past, Qucksilver, really only brought in for the purpose of one action scene, is less the abrasive speedster from the comics and is instead an carbon copy of DC Comics’ Impulse with a worse costume. An ADHD-riddled kid with bad hair and a penchant for being charmingly annoying. The action scene in question is possibly the most fun scene in the entire film, so it’s understandable that Singer was so hyped to use him.

Trask does horrible things in his quest to realize his dream of the Sentinels. He cautions that mutants will replace humans, citing Neanderthal man’s disappearance as a warning. (Of course he wouldn’t be privy to the current theory that Neanderthals actually interbred with cro-magnon.) We’re given glimpses of his life that indicate he’s a genius and he talks about doing a lot of good things for humanity. But it’s obvious he doesn’t see mutants as humanity, only as a means to an end. They don’t exactly subtle-up the Nazi metaphors. And just to make one statement about who would normally be one of the villains of the film, it was nice to see Richard Nixon portrayed as an actual human being and not a complete cartoon bad-guy for once. The government and the military aren’t shown to be evil or even necessarily in favor of wiping out mutants. They simply get used by Trask as more means to his end.

The movie is paced elegantly with never a dull moment, but also never being overwhelming. It feels like all of Singer’s superhero movie experience has been leading to this moment where he finally feels comfortable with all the things he was holding back on in the second film. (Having the brass at Fox on his side instead of demanding Jon Peters-esque changes on a whim it probably helps.) The action sequences feel fresh, despite several of them having a lot in common with previous installments which is a testament to their presentation and the quality of the effects. There is no question in my mind why this movie cost so much and it honestly seems worth every penny. It is polished and even the questionable CGI just makes it seem that much more comic book-y.

After seeing the teaser at the end which brought many a “What the hell?” from the crowd in our theater, I am very much looking forward to seeing what Singer, Vaughn and their cohorts bring to us next.

(Four damns given out of five)

Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: A Million Ways to Die in the West

MW2DITWSeth McFarlane wants to make Blazing Saddles so badly, you can pretty much picture him dry humping an old VHS copy through most of watching A Million Ways to Die in the West. While that’s certainly a grand and understandable aspiration (making a movie like Saddles, not the humping), Blazing Saddles was the type of lightning in a bottle genius that even Mel Brooks only really managed to capture once. Young Frankenstein, though equally brilliant, feels like a completely different type of film to me and not just because it’s parodying a different genre. None of Brooks’ other films had that kind of balls to the wall anarchy that worked as the world’s most topical and adult Looney Tune, combining genuinely affectionate parody, anachronism and surrealism in a way that almost never occurs in live action filmmaking.

McFarlane does not achieve the same heights as Brooks. He doesn’t even really reach the same levels as he did previously in Ted. It’s a mix of issues with the script, the tone and McFarlane’s performance as a leading man. Despite these issues it still manages to be funny. I am McFarlane neutral, having enjoyed a lot of the original run of Family Guy before it faced its first cancelation. Since then I’ve been less a fan of his television work, but I found Ted to be quite funny. Those who hate McFarlane will not be swayed by this movie. There will be plenty of his fans for whom he is the white Tyler Perry that will declare the film brilliant. So for those of us that remain in the middle, here’s some dissection.

Let’s start with the writing, which plays in a lot of ways like Shakiest Gun in the West but with a central relationship that plays beat for beat like a teen comedy romance. In so many ways, the movie feels like it was written by a teenager who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else. That’s really only half an insult because teenagers can at times be really damn funny and they’re often willing to do things that older folks know better than to do. The problem is that in many cases they also think they’re the first ones to do it.  McFarlane writes his character as the male Mary Sue that populates the autobiographical writings of every outsider teen boy that has ever felt put-upon. Including myself when I was in high school. He knows better than everyone else and he hates everything about his life. While this leads to a few very funny sequences involving his righteous indignation spilling out in torrents, eventually his limited charisma is not able to make up for the character having some basic issues with likability. Even this would be forgivable if his timing were better, but there are instances when it feels like his punchlines just lay there.

McFarlane’s character, a sheep farmer, is dumped by his girlfriend at the beginning of the film because he’s a “nice guy” and she immediately jumps into a relationship with Neil Patrick Harris, who is the consummate movie douchebag. Enter Charlize Theron, unknowingly the wife of the most notorious gunfighter in the west (Liam Neeson). She decides to help McFarlane try to get his girlfriend back and they fall in love. Now he has to learn confidence and face down the bullies. I’d worry about spoiling the plot if the whole thing wasn’t so paint by numbers that you can predict every single story moment that occurs from the first ten minutes. Like a lot of comedies, it’s not so much that the story is important for its plot, but for being a framework for the gags.

The tonality of Million Ways creates some issues in that it feels like many of the characters act like they’re in different films. Charlize Theron and McFarlane actually have a very easy chemistry and it’s through their relationship that we like him. Her lackadaisical acting style does surprisingly well. The character is the only one that really has much of an arc, even if its one we have seen a thousand times. Amanda Seyfried, by comparison, has nothing to do except be an object of desire and to allow Neil Patrick Harris something to play on. Even Sarah Silverman in a supporting role as a a hooker has more depth. Now Harris… wow. I think he may be phoning his performance in from another planet. His mustache-obsessed store owner feels much more stylized and cartoony than most of the loose performances of the cast.  When he hits, he managed to pull some of my biggest laughs from the film, but he is also so weird that sometimes it’s almost more uncomfortable than humorous. Then you have Liam Neeson, who gives a fantastic performance full of true menace. Which in this case is like dropping Hannibal Lector into The Office. Neeson can be funny, but here he is completely out of place because he’s simply too good at his role. Giovani Ribisi is in the film because McFarlane wants to make sure his family has food.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I laughed a pretty decent amount during the movie because while uneven it has moments where it is very, very funny. (Unfortunately, two of these moments are Family Guy-style pop culture reference cameos, one of which was ruined in the trailer, but I refuse to also do so for anyone that hasn’t seen it.) Like Ted, there are moments when a sweetness manages to break through the rampant gross-out gags involving sheep sex organs. His animation experience also helps some of the physical moments, especially when we see some of the title’s Million Ways that people can perish in the Arizona 1882 setting.

It simply seems to be one of those cases where the problems stand out more than the positives upon reflection, even though I overall liked the film and would recommend it to his fans and those that really enjoy R-rated comedy. It pulls no punches and, like Neighbors, goes right after that particular niche, though I think it won’t have as wide an appeal as that one. Sometimes mixed reviews are the hardest to write. I think this is one of those times. I recommend it, but tentatively.

(Three damns given out of five)

Filmographies: Hayao Miyazaki Part 1

Mys

We’re back with a new director. This time we dive into our first animation director, with someone that is a master if not arguably THE master, Hayao Miyazaki. We’re joined by great guy and Miyazaki fan Paul Montgomery as we dive into this magical world. First we discuss “The Castle of Cagliostro” which was Miyazaki’s first film and a film that was based on a previously existing character. We move into a debate of “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind” which some loved, some did not. And finish things off with “Castle in the sky.”

Let us know what you think of the films of Miyazaki by either facebook or twitter, like us on facebook and enjoy!

Better Living Through Filmography Episode 1.2: Double Indemnity

DoubleIndemnityBLTF In Better Living Through Filmography, co-host Kent views classic films for the first time and discusses them through a lens of movies, pop culture and life. Episodes of the first season post every other Wednesday.

In episode two, he watches Billy Wilder’s film noir Double Indemnity and takes a look at its place within the style’s pantheon and what makes it great.

Music:
Laurie Johnson– Happy-Go-Lively
Woolf Phillips and his Orchestra– Cocktails in Bermuda