Baltimore Screening Pass-palooza: Suicide Squad!

suicide squad posterIt’s time y’all.  Grab your bestie because it’s ON.  Time for Suicide Squad!  I’ve got 20 Admit-Two passes for readers!  Synopsis!

It feels good to be bad… Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity.  U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do.  However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?

Love the comics, loved the trailers.  And, of course, I love Harley Quinn.  (Though TBH, I’m really digging on Katana.  Future cosplay, FTW!)  Let’s do this!

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#SDCC News: “Doctor Strange” trailer gets strange

doctor strange poster 2“There is a strength to him.  But is he ready?”

I dunno about Hugo Strange, but I sure am ready.  The official trailer for Marvel’s Doctor Strange hit San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend, and it’s all sortsa badass.

First, there’s a more in-depth discussion of exactly what type of power Strange is training for/harnessing, by the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).  Then there’s more of a look at Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo, who seems like a good guy in this trailer…but who’s to say, right comic book readers?  And then there’s Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius, complete with supercool eeeee-vil eye makeup FX.

But I’m really curious about Rachel McAdams here, who IMDb says will be playing Christine Palmer.  Though this trailer makes her seem as though she’s a love interest, fans know Christine Palmer as Night Nurse, the badass medical professional who helps heal up a host of superheroes.  Folks who have seen Netflix’s Daredevil know her as Rosario Dawson, even though her name is slightly different. I’m wondering if that’ll change in some way now that the MCU is having a go at the Nurse, though with Dawson’s character being the tie-in for all of the Netflix Marvel Universe shows, I can’t see that happening.  Looks like it’ll be similar to the Flash being different actors on TV than in film…

Doctor Strange steps into our reality November 4th, 2016.

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#SDCC News: “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

SpiderMan_rgbGotta love the day after San Diego Comic-Con.  Y’know, if you weren’t there.  Because all the info!  For example, here’s some Spider-Man: Homecoming pics from Hall H! But first, synopsis!

A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who made his sensational debut in Captain America: Civil War, begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging superhero in Spider-Man™: Homecoming.

Oh, and peep the official image: Continue reading

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ROE Giveaway: “Nine Lives”!



Okay folks – time to give away some ROEs!

What’s an ROE, you ask? Well, it literally means Run Of Engagement; passes you can use while the film is in theaters. No, this ain’t in advance, but it’s still free, and best of all? You can pick a time that works for you. Typically, it’s anytime Monday through Thursday (and that’s the case here as well.)

What’s on offer this time?  Well, it’s the film Nine Lives, and ain’t that an adorable widdle kitty?  Who’s a fluffy?  You are.  YOU ARE.  But not everything is as it seems… Synopsis!

Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is a billionaire whose workaholic lifestyle leaves him disconnected from his beautiful wife Lara (Jennifer Garner) and adoring daughter Rebecca. Needing a present for Rebecca’s 11th birthday, Brand visits a mysterious pet store and leaves with a cat named Mr. Fuzzypants. After a mysterious incident, Tom wakes up to find himself magically trapped inside the animal’s body. As his family adjusts to life with an odd and stubborn feline, Brand must figure out a way to become human again. NINE LIVES is the family-friendly tale of a stuffy billionaire businessman who is transformed into a cat until he can learn to be the father he’s supposed to be.

Gotta say that this has a distinct Jack Frost vibe, but without the snow (or the character in question’s death.)  I liked Jack Frost – don’t judge me people – so this may be just as sweet.  Who knows?  Maybe you, if you’re a winner… Continue reading

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Review in a Flash: “Star Trek Beyond” is beyond cool

Sometimes I’m too lazy for a full-out piece. Sometimes everything I’ve got to say about a film can be summarized in a sentence or two. Sometimes I was up til 2am jamming on a Star Trek marathon. So herewith, a quick-n-dirty on Star Trek Beyond!

star trek beyond onesheet

Nutshell: By combining the 21st Century Enterprise crew with a 60s-era “stranded on a planet” Trek episode, Beyond kicks it into high gear for this new era’s third outing while maintaining a groovy old-school vibe.  Is there anything new and different here?  Nah.  But it’s a fun ride nonetheless. Trekkers should find plenty to love, and casual moviegoers will enjoy the all-out special effects.  I just wish that as baddie Krall, Idris Elba wore less makeup. He so purty.  Grade: A-

Before: It’s another new-cast Star Trek movie!  I love Zachary Quinto as Spock!  Karl Urban as Bones and Zoe Saldana as Nyota Uhura are always great to watch. And Sofia Boutela’s Star Wars-esque Jaylah looks way cool.  ZOMG – is that IDRIS ELBA as the Big Bad?  There’s even a Star Trek marathon with the first two films included?  Sign my ass up.  I may get teary when I see Anton Yelchin’s Chekov on screen – I still can’t process Yelchin’s passing – but I’m all in. Continue reading

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“Lights Out” turns a short film into a big scare

lights out onesheet

Nutshell: Creepy, spooky, and effective as hell. Yes, the mental illness vs. actually being haunted plot point could have been a bit less Baby Be Crazy, and the sound editing could use a tweak or two to limit the number of overblown and unnecessary Ba-BOOOOM eardrum explosions. But director David F. Sandberg does a scary good job turning his short film into a feature length fear-fest. Grade: A-

“Don’t leave me.  EVER!”

We’ve all had that one strange friend.  That one who was ever so slightly off.  A bit strange.  And, to paraphrase Margaret Cho, if you don’t know who that is in your group, it’s probably you.  But nowadays it’s time to let your freak flag fly…unless that flag’s message has anything to do with haunting people and killing anyone who gets in the way of that.  Then maybe you put that flag away.  Go to the flag store and get another one.  There’s plenty out there.  May I suggest one with a happy unicorn?

In Lights Out, Twenty-something Rebecca (Teresa Palmer, Warm Bodies) finds out her young step-brother Martin hasn’t been sleeping.  It seems their mother Sophie (Maria Bello) has been having depressive episodes after the (VERY bloody) death of her second husband Paul, much the same way she did when Rebecca’s father left.  And Martin can’t sleep because Sophie keeps talking to something (ba-dumm) that you can only see when it’s dark.  Hey, did you know that Sophie went into in-patient treatment for depression when she was a kid?  And she met a girl named Diana who had a terrible reaction to sunlight and died horribly?  NO?  Well, you do now.

As I’ve mentioned before, Lights Out is based on the super-effective short film by David F. Sandberg.  Thanks to all of the buzz – and his effective use of light and timing – James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious) jumped on as producer.  And the combination is genre dynamite.  Things kick off immediately, with warehouse employee Esther (Lotta Losten, the lead in the original short film) seeing things in the big, dark, mannequin filled warehouse.  (Why’d it have to be mannequins?)  Billy Burke (Revolution) plays business owner/warehouse guy/Sophie’s not-long-for-this-world hubby, who finds out a bit too late that maybe you should be afraid of the dark.  From Sophie’s huge shaded home to Rebecca’s tiny, heavy metal themed apartment, Diana’s crackling, creepy influence takes over the lives of the threesome, as well as Rebecca’s kinda boyfriend, Bret (Alexander DiPersia), and pretty much anyone who stands in betwen Diana’s obsessive connection to Sophie.

While a lot of boogeyman movies has the death count amp up off-screen with no real aftermath in sight, with Lights Out there’s that same off-screen/in darkness death blow, but viewers get to see the aftermath of Diana’s grisly work.  And the FX is excellent.  Not unbelievably bloody, but still a hefty amount of red when it’s warranted.  Plus, for some reason never specified, many of Diana’s victims end up with burnt-out eye sockets.  Very cool, and very unsettling.  Getting to see what happens to the victims brings this ghost story into the brutal end of the horror gene pool.  And it works.

But…I kinda wish that the basic idea of the film was handled a bit better.  See, Diana appears to Sophie when Sophie is sliding back into depression.  And while depression can manifest in many ways depending on the person suffering, in this film Sophie feels like a strangely watered down cliché from The Snake Pit.  It could be because Sophie is suffering from lack of sleep as well as depression, but it’s never fleshed out, and she ends up looking like a kook who’s under-written.  Only the grace of the amazingly talented Maria Bello saves her.

Now about that sound editing.  For the most part, things in that department are excellent. Above and beyond in some cases; in a few scenes the sound of Diana’s scratching comes from only one or two speakers off to the side of the theater, giving a “it’s right behind you” quality that knocks it out of the park.  And there are moments when Diana’s creepy crackling builds from a whisper to a louder reveal, typically before she jumps.  But sometimes things get too loud, and it becomes eardrum endurance rather than a chilling compliment to the action.  It’s tough to let yourself scream if you’re too busy thinking about how loud that damn booming is.  Those gaffes aren’t enough to hobble the film, but they did pull me out of the action a time or two when the sound took over what was going on onscreen, tempering the horror for me.  If we’re talking about a powerful, creepy ghost that exists in shadow, the majority of the sound should be just as mysterious.  Just sayin’.

Otherwise, Lights Out definitely elevates the jump scare to an art form.  There’s plenty of silly “why’d they do that” stuff here, like walking around in the dark when you know damn well what’s going on, or heading down to the windowless basement in the middle of the night. But there’s even more smart decisions, like prepping for the possibility of Diana causing a power outage by grabbing candles and stashing flashlights around the house.  And hey, getting the cops!  How novel!  Good to see that all those teen deaths in 80s slasher flicks tightened up the horror gene pool.

The climax is absolutely great, with non-stop action and plenty of scares.  Me?  I knew how things would play out, and how things would basically wrap up, but I still found myself on the edge of my seat while it all happened.  Probably because Sandberg knows how to flesh out a story, rather than simply taking the easy route of padding his short film.  Lights Out the short film has the same basic premise of a spooky thing in the darkness, but a completely different plot.  And screenwriter Eric Heisserer (Final Destination 5, The Thing) knows how to go from slow burn to wham-bam bloody ma’am.  Submit yourself to the scary.


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Wayback Review: Final Destination 5

I could use a chill, couldn’t you?  So lets’ take a peek at my review of Final Destiation 5, which was originally posted on August 12, 2011 at Atomic Popcorn.

final destionation 5 onesheetOxymoron or no, Final Destination 5 is shooting out toward you at your local theater. But is it any good? Depends on what you’re looking for.  If you’re looking for the feel-good movie of the year? Well, that’s the next theater over. You want to see a gory, gruesome body count, complete with body parts flying at you in 3D, crammed into a little over an hour and a half?  There has been nothing that comes close to this movie this year.  Right this way for bread and circus; are you not entertained? Damn right you are. Continue reading

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