Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Diabolical

diabMadison (Ali Larter) is experiencing strange apparitions at her house.  It seems the place is haunted, but no one can help her.  The paranormal investigators she hired even flee the scene. Luckily her scientist boyfriend may be able to help her and her children in finding out the house’s terrible secret.

I watched this the other night. Curled up underneath a blanket, with a packet of crisps and a soda, ready to be scared witless. My wife even retreated to the kitchen, claiming “the sound alone is scaring me already”.  From the get-go I thought The Diabolical was a winner.  A haunted house and strange hellraiser-esque monsters?  The wife is out, but I’m in!

At least I was, for the first scene and the credit sequence.  Super scary!  The rest of the movie?  Not so much.  There are some jump-scare moments, but they’re so predictable, I didn’t even flinch. All of the superscary monsters are used in the first few scenes as well.  Afterwards, we just get the one monster.  Who isn’t even a monster.  Just some scarred dude in white pajamas.

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We were off to a great start, but about a third in, all of the scary is lost.  Maybe because of that weird plot twist, that turns the movie from horror into scifi. I get that.  I get the plot twist, and I even thought it was quite clever.  But I think it was a giant mistake to concentrate the marketing heavily on the horror aspect.  Just look at that cover art. Screams horror to me. Same thing with the blurb on the box: horror. And that title?  Pure horror, even though it has nothing to do with the story. Nothing at all.

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And then there’s the kids…  Kid actors are always a liability: either they’re good, or they just plain suck. And while these two are quite good, their characters just aren’t believable. Their house is haunted, yet they act like they don’t mind one bit. Honestly, it’s as if they’re under the impression that “haunted” means “there’s some ants in the kitchen cupboards”.  They look that worried.

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So good movie?  I’d go with so-so. Watch this if you’re not ready for superscary, or if you just want to ogle Ali Larter.

Jan

Lego Justice League: Cosmic Clash

lego_dc_superheroes_cosmic_clash_keyartSomehow I knew this was going to happen.  Last review I said “Batman animated features seem to crop up faster than I can review them” and Boom!

New Batman animated feature lands on my desk.

Although, technically, this isn’t a Batman-feature.  It’s the Justice League: Cosmic Clash!

When Brainiac decides to add Earth to his mint collection of planets, the Justice League steps up.  Together, they thwart Brainiac’s plan.  They deranged robot isn’t about to give up that easily though, and zaps half of the Justice League back in time.  It’s up to remaining members Flash and Batman to go back in time and save their friends.

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I’ve reviewed Lego animated features before.  I’ve always given them thumbs up. I marveled at the humor, praised the voice-actors and was really into the story.  Things are no different with this one.  I can easily check the boxes next to humor, animation, voiceacting and story. Lego once again proves that it’s a quality brand, not just for its toys, but in everything it partakes in.

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The one thing that puzzled me most this time around is how they keep it fresh.  Because, sure, it was entertaining and well-written, but deep down it’s just the umpteenth Lego movie, that relies heavily on the same old staples.  Why am I not yet bored by this?

The answer is very simple.  It’s because at heart, I’m still a kid.  A small eight year old, that’s easily impressed by cool stuff.  And animated Lego definitely falls into the cool stuff category, as does the Justice League.

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So yes, I continue to like the Lego movies. I hope Lego keeps on producing them and by golly, I now have a craving for opening a fresh box of mint Lego. Just so I can experience the joy of building something and hear that distinct plastic clatter.

Jan

Batman: Bad Blood

bloodBatman animated movies seem to be cropping up faster than I can review them. The second I’ve reviewed one, another one is lurking around the corner

Not that I’m complaining.  Heck no. I’m enjoying these too much. Wether it’s the crazy antics of Lego B-man, or the darker, mature Batman of the new animated style, I’m always ready for more.

Take Batman: Bad Blood for instance. How can I not love this? The story sees Batman disappeared. Most likely murdered by a new bad guy in Gotham’s menagerie. The hulking mass of muscle calls himself Heretic, dons a cowl not unlike Batman’s and seems to be in cahoots with the League of Shadows. bb3
When I read this, I was already crazy from anticipation.  A new bad guy? Styled on Batman himself? Who knows possibly everything there is to know about Batman? And the League of Shadows is involved? Color me very interested.

In Batman’s absence, the safety of Gotham depends on Nightwing (donning the batsuit) and Damian Wayne (as Robin). I’ve always been a fan of these two as the dynamic duo. The way they constantly bicker and sneer at each other is so…  I dunno…  real.

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If the new dynamic duo is the icing of the proverbial cake, then their unexpected allies are the cherry. Batman and Robin get help from Batwoman and Batwing. And they get to battle the Mad Hatter! Killer Moth! Firefly!

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I do realize that at this point the movie review seems to be a bit fanboyish.  Heck, I’ve been shout-writing character names at you for the past few sentences. But stay with me here. I could go on telling you that voice-acting was great. That the story was even better and that the animation is top notch.  I choose not to do that. Because deep down, I know that any Batman fan already owns this movie.

What? You don’t? Get going!

Jan

Bus 657

bus657Remember when you thought “I’d like, for once, to see a decent heist movie. Not some bunch of A-list actors getting together to execute some overly complicated plan for the third time, or some comedians heisting a tower. No. Just a good, decent gangster movie, about bad guys robbing a place in a spectacular fashion and then take on the police in a decent fight.
You don’t remember?

No?

Well, perhaps I misheard. Perhaps it was me who said it. But that all doesn’t matter, because your/my/our lament has been heard! Bus 657 (titled simply “Heist” in some countries) is a decent heist movie!

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When casino employee Vaughn (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) can’t afford his daughter’s medical treatment anymore, he decides to team up with fellow disgruntled employee Cox (Dave Bautista) and his friend to rob the casino of a day’s earnings. The heist does not go as planned and the trio is forced to flee on a hijacked city bus. With the cops in hot pursuit, Vaughn quickly realizes they’re not his only problem. One of his partners is mortally wounded, the other has an itchy trigger finger, and Casino boss “the Pope” (Robert DeNiro) is setting some less legal things in motion to get revenge and his money back.

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I simply can’t remember a movie keeping me on the edge of my seat until the credits started rolling. Bus 657 did just that. From the get-go I was rooting for Vaughn. Clenching my sphincter when things got tense, shouting at the bad guys. And marveling at every single plot twist they threw at me.

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I was so enthralled by the story that I’ll even allow the gaping plot hole. It’s blatantly obvious near the end, but I’m sure you won’t care either, dear reader. Bus 657 has got so many things going for it, I can’t even begin naming them all. The story is so good you’ll allow the plothole too. Morgan and DeNiro’s acting is great, Bautista is delightfully violent…

Just go and watch it already.  This is the heist movie you were waiting for!

(yes you were, I know you said it.)

Jan

A very Star Warsy easter

Welcome to another (late) installment of Tusken Tuesdays. Today I’ll discuss something my lovely wife bought me…

Star Wars Easter eggs!

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Found in a store for the ridiculously low price of 98 cents. That’s 0.49 per egg! Each egg contains sweets and a toy! It’s a steal!

Or is it?

Let’s start with the sweets.

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They look appetizing, don’t they?  Small and round, and brightly colored. But looks can be deceiving.  These thing are just tiny goblets of pure sugar, the only other flavor coming from the colorants. Not as yummy as they look, and they only last a millisecond before dissolving in saliva.

On to the toys then.

Both eggs contained a mini sticker sheet featuring different characters. I have a soft spot for stickers, so I like this a lot.

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Also included were a spinner thingamajig and some spinning pencil top. Basically two pieces of cheap plastic with a Star Wars sticker slapped on.

So did I get great stuff with these eggs?

No.

But I did get my 98 cents worth of plastic and got 2 sheets of awesome ministickers to boot.  I call that a win!

Jan