The Culture Cast with Zack and Nick

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

I saw ‘The Judge’ (probably the only one who did so)

The Judge, starring Robert Downey, Jr and Robert Duvall, is a completely forgettable film in an otherwise impressive filmography of its two main stars. I caught this film last week when a local cinema had its Five-Dollar Night. The girlfriend was interested in it when we both caught a trailer for it the week prior on TV. I, too, was curious about the film that put these two stars together, so we decided to check it out. I wouldn’t call it a mistake, but by the end of its needlessly long 2.5 hour runtime, we both came out of the theatre with a collective “eh”. There was nothing inherently bad about the film, but nothing remarkable either.

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One of the central issues is that this film tries to do way too much and, thereby, doesn’t fully commit to many of its subplots (and, trust me, there are lots). Duvall (a reserved, small town judge) and Downey, Jr (a smooth talking criminal defense lawyer) play a father and son who are estranged (of course they are). The father is accused of murder, so the son must return to the small town he abandoned years ago where his big city ways don’t mesh well with his father’s small town (and, as the movie would have us believe, better) mindset.

This, in itself, would have been enough for the film to focus on (even if it is beyond a cliché). But The Judge doesn’t stop there. There are several extraneous subplots (including a very bizarre one where Downey, Jr thinks he might have made out with his 20-year-old daughter) that just make the movie almost seem like a complete mess. It, surprisingly, holds it together, but barely.

The glue that keeps all of this together are the performances by Downey, Jr, Duvall, and a supporting cast of character actors. They are all lively, and it seems like the actors are having fun. But, even though this helped keep my interest in the film, even then, it pushes the limit on how melodramatic a film is allowed to get. The father and son go back and forth from hating each other to loving each other too many times for it to be palatable.

Perhaps that is the biggest issue with The Judge – it is too overly-melodramatic. Perhaps director David Dobkin wanted to run an experiment on how clichéd and melodramatic can a film be before breaking. If that’s what he did, then brilliant. He found that limit. It doesn’t shatter, but it comes perilously close.

The film bombed at the box office, and it is likely already forgotten (assuming people knew about it already – there was near-zero marketing for it).  The Judge just isn’t worth the time to see. Rotten Tomatoes consensus predicts that this film will likely end up on basic cable. I can really see that happen. This is the type of not-bad-but-not-good film that one would channel surf through on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

~N

Ezra Miller is The Flash

It is really hard to be a fan of comic books and superheroes sometimes.  It really is.  Oh, not because its nerdy or that other people will look down on it.  It is because of other, more intense comic book fans and how ridiculously over-the-top they act in regards to their hobby.  It is really embarrassing.  Today, we had another such example of the fanbase embarrassing itself.

Warner Bros. released a full slate of movies based on various DC Comics properties.  One such project is The Flash scheduled for release in 2018.  While that wasn’t an unexpected announcement, what was surprising was that WB already cast the titular hero.  In four years’ time, Ezra Miller (of Perks of Being a Wallflower fame) will be taking on the mantle of the Scarlet Speedster.

And then the internet fucking broke, and butthurt prevailed.

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Now, I’ll admit that I found the casting of Miller to be a surprising move for many reasons.  For starters, it seems strange to cast a relative unknown actor as the lead in a movie four years away from being released with no director or writer currently attached.  Then again, I suspect he’ll probably make some sort of appearance in either the Batman v. Superman or Justice League prompting an early casting.

More unusual is that, while Miller is a solid actor, I never imagined him as a superhero, let alone The Flash.  But, as been shown in the past, outside-the-box casting can pay off especially if it fits a particular vision (Heath Ledger’s Joker being the prime example).  I am sure that Miller will be fine in the role.  The truth is, very much is unknown about The Flash and what this movie will ultimately be about (and why should we get all the answers right away anyway?  Are we so entitled?).  We should take in the news and then play a wait and see game to find out what is going to happen next.

Of course this is the Internet we are talking about and that will never ever happen.  Within hours of this announcement, the angry fanboys have come out of the woodwork to declare their anger against a movie they know nothing about.  I’ve seen rage that WB isn’t using Grant Gustin (star of the new Flash TV show) as the character in the upcoming movie because he is a perfect Barry Allen.  This is, of course, hilarious since people were completely raging against his casting a year ago.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

There have also been complaints that Miller is too young for the role and that he looks too effeminate.  What are they going off of with that.  Many of his past roles has had him as a quirky, off-beat character who has been typically young (and why not – he’s only 22 at the moment).  His head shot on IMDB is from 2008 when he was 16!  And the movie won’t come out for another four years.  That’s a completely unfair argument for people to use against his casting, but I’ve already seen it today.

For example, Speed Force, a Flash blog, is run by Kelson Vibber, one of the most level-headed comic book fans I have ever encountered online, and he had an article up earlier today going over The Flash movie announcement.  He goes out of his way to explain Miller’s young appearance is unintentionally deceiving in his IMDB head shot.  Yet, that did not stop a good portion of the comment section to completely ignore this and predict nothing but doom and gloom about the upcoming movie.

I just don’t get it.  Nothing is known about this movie.  If it was revealed that The Flash was going to be about an overweight would-be runner who decides to fight crime using a couple of oozies to take out space aliens who decided to invade his favorite mini-mart, then, yes, I can understand the why people would question that.

But in this case, nothing is known enough to get upset about.  We don’t even know which version of the Flash Miller will be portraying (despite online rumoring).  Based on the past roles he’s had, I can easily see him as Wally West.  Honestly, that might be a smart way to go so it wouldn’t step on the toes of the new TV show (featuring the Barry Allen Flash) or be redundant.

Point is, we don’t know what is happening with this movie other than a title, a date, and an actor.  There is absolutely no need to get so up-in-arms over it.  Honestly, I have to applaud WB for their casting of Ezra Miller.  They are putting together what they hope will turn into a series of superhero action films and one section of it will be headlined by an actor who openly identifies himself as “queer”.  You just don’t see studios doing that for big, blockbuster films unless the actor is already established and well-respected.

So, as I did with the reaction to Grant Gustin, I humbly request that the internet chill the fuck out or at least take a wait and see approach.

Oh, who am I kidding?  That’s not going to happen.

Getting Back to My Roots: Appleseed

Why is Masamune Shirow’s 1980s cyber-punk manga and eventual anime adaptation titled Appleseed? I have no idea. It doesn’t play into the story whatsoever and makes absolutely no sense as the title of a dystopian story about cyborg terrorists vs. human and robot police officers. But if that short summary sounds a lot like Ghost in the Shell, that’s because Shirow is also responsible for the Ghost in the Shell manga. Like Appleseed, however, the GitS film series has little in common with its manga counterpart, and the film version is more widely known as Mamoru Oshii’s baby. Unlike the GitS film series, the 1988 Appleseed OAV isn’t particularly good (the 2000s-era CGI animated ones are somehow worse, and don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise).

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In 1988, Bandai Visual and Gainax collaborated on an OAV based on the Appleseed manga. The OAV bears little in common with the manga outside of the general story, characters, and setting, but that’s really ok because I’ve never actually read the manga and currently have no plans to ever read it. Though I first watched Appleseed in 1999, I had no clue it was animated by Gainax until I looked it up on Wikipedia five minutes before starting this article (it was released stateside by Manga Entertainment, naturally). I have to imagine it was either a low-budget production or animated by Gainax’s B-team, because it doesn’t look nearly as good as a lot of other 1980s stuff, particularly Venus Wars, covered in this feature a few months back.

Anyway, far off in the future there was some kind of devastating nuclear war (commonly referred to as World War 3). The war crippled most of humanity, leaving few non-cyborgs left. Thus, the last remnants of humanity and their cyborg brothers have gathered into a mega-city, Judge Dredd-style, known as Olympus. Olympus is controlled by a benevolent AI system called Gaia, but not everything is as it seems, obviously. Though most of the Olympus populace is blissfully unaware they’re being thought-controlled or something, resentment begins to creep in and terrorism soon begins to chip away at the city’s core.

Cybernetic terrorist Sebastian eventually begins to plan an all out assault on Gaia through secret collaboration with a turncoat police officer, and it is up to two police officers to stop Sebastian before he destroys the city. Briareos is a mostly cybernetic cop with an artificial head and two large, rabbit-like ears. He’s been enhanced with superior strength and stamina and his robot eyes allow him to see around corners without exposing his position. His counterpart (and love interest), Deunan, is one of the last human beings in the city (it is said that non-cyborgs only total around 15% of the population). Deunan is brash, rude, easily angered, and petulant, but also a good cop.

Other characters include Charon (sometimes translated as Calon), a disenchanted police officer upset with Gaia and the city of Olympus after the tragic death of his wife, city administrator Athena, and Hitomi, who is also somehow involved in the plot in ways I cannot remember because her character is dumb. Charon actually has decent characterization solely due to the fact that he is personally motivated and acts in ways he feels are right and just. He’s one of the few characters outside of bad guy Sebastian to have an actual adult opinion about society. Athena is a typical no-nonsense administrator and acts as a foil to Deunan and Briareos even though she is ostensibly their ally.

Appleseed thinks it is an incredibly poignant take on society (a lot of dreck that came out in this time period has that same problem). It thinks it has important things to say about the nature of technology and its impact on the social structure of mankind and what not. I can assure you, dear reader, it has none of these things. Appleseed is just plain dumb. That’s not entirely a bad thing. There is some fun to be had. I like the mech race at the end between Charon, Deunan, and Briareos. I love the spider-tank thing at the end. I like the casual relationship between Briareos and Deunan, who are obviously attracted to each other but too bullheaded to say anything (this kind of relationship is much more tolerant in a 75 minute OAV than it would be in an 88-episode romantic comedy series). I even like elements of the story, setting, and tertiary characters, particularly Charon.

But holy crap the writing in this is so bad, and the dub is absolutely atrocious. Though it doesn’t take fifteening to the extreme like, say, Angel Cop or Mad Bull or the infamous Violence Jack, there are certainly instances of fifteening in Appleseed, and they are pretty funny in their badness. I imagine Appleseed was likely dubbed by the same infamous British studio that dubbed those masterpieces of the genre as well. In addition to the poor script and the poor dubbing, the animation is also laughable, especially considering this was a production of the 1980s, a time when budgets were normally higher and movies tended to look amazing (Appleseed came out around the same time as both Akira and Wings of Honneamise – not to say it had the budget of either of thus, but man oh man it looks awful by comparison).

As I noted earlier, I first caught Appleseed in about 1999. I believe I purchased it on VHS from either Coconuts or Suncoast Motion Picture Company, the latter of which I miss dearly. Hey, even if they charged exorbitant prices in some cases, you couldn’t find some of their stuff anywhere else. I tended to only buy those VHS tapes when I either had a coupon or the store had a sale. I still remember buying a bunch of anime VHS tapes 50% off from Coconuts in downtown Chicago in July 1999 and thinking I had hit the jackpot. Back in the 90s, I really liked Appleseed a lot (hey, I even liked Angel Cop back then). Watching it with adult eyes, however, it’s kind of hard to even see what I liked about it in the first place. It’s not actively bad and it’s not remotely good and it isn’t even so-horrible-it’s-hilarious either. It just kind of exists as this mostly forgotten, badly animated 1980s OAV.

-Z-

I Saw You’re Next

I’ve been on an unusual horror kick lately. I don’t say unusual because I’m watching particularly strange horror movies. I say it instead because it is totally out of the ordinary for me to watch horror movies at all. I very rarely watch anything in the genre unless it’s either a true classic (like, say, The Exorcist or Evil Dead 2) or unless I consider it to be a classic (Hellraiser, Candyman) even if it probably isn’t. But, it being October and all, I decided that maybe I should catch a few horror films and try to get into the spirit of it all.

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One such horror film I caught courtesy of Amazon’s instant watch service, You’re Next, is a home-invasion thriller filmed on a microscopic budget and actually completed in 2011, where it was screened at several film festivals. You’re Next was released in the midst of a kind of horror renaissance last year, where several horror films (including The Conjuring and Insidious 2) made big bucks. Though You’re Next left little impact at the domestic box office, it was greeted with fairly strong reviews for the genre (74% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes), which was enough to intrigue me.

I went into the film expecting something on the level of Saw or Hostel, that is to say I expected it to be much more torture-porny than it turned out to be. I was pleasantly surprised to see that You’re Next was not a gross torture porn flick, but instead a home-invasion thriller similar to The Purge or The Strangers. Though these films are highly illogical (I can’t imagine all these conversations, secrets, and murders going on in one house without people catching on more quickly), they are usually entertaining and fun to watch. Such was the case with You’re Next – it’s a whole lot of fun to watch unfold.

Make no mistake, You’re Next is a totally dumb film. The plot is barebones and stupid and characters make decisions no rational, real life person would ever make. But there are also moments of sheer genius in the film’s utter stupidity that made me crack a smile. Too often horror films contain absolutely horrible characters with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. When these characters are eventually dispatched, we the audience feel nothing for them. You’re Next doesn’t fall into this trope because it barely gives us the chance to get to know its characters, let alone hate them. Believe me – this is a good thing.

Because the characters are so paper thin, there’s no real reason to discuss anyone in depth. Thankfully so, because the most backstory anyone gets is either given out in terrible dialogue or in lengthy doses of useless exposition. You’re Next is all about the nitty gritty of the killing and not the depth of the characters, which is totally fine for a movie of this variety. There’s some real atmosphere to be found in the film, which is more than what could be said of the first Purge film (though You’re Next is nowhere near as good as The Purge: Anarchy, it should be noted).

You’re Next isn’t a good film by any means, but it foregoes most of the unwatchable trappings of the horror genre. It is a violent and bloody affair but never really devolves into the insidious torture porn genre. It has some pretty cool kills and features the best use of kitchen appliances in a horror movie since the 2009 Last House of the Left remake. I wouldn’t recommend anyone go out and spend their hard earned money to see this movie, but it is absolutely worth checking out on a streaming service. It certainly helped me get into the Halloween spirit, and I’ll most likely be checking out a few other horror films as the season progresses.

-Z-

Disappointing Childhood Movies Vol. 6: Addams Family Values

Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1991 live-action feature film adaptation of Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoon and later television series The Addams Family was a huge hit for Paramount Pictures. Opening over Thanksgiving weekend, the 38 million dollar production eventually grossed nearly 200 million worldwide, making it a runaway success. Though the film received mixed critical reviews, it was overwhelmingly praised for the performances of Raul Julia, perfectly cast as patriarch Gomez, and Angelica Huston, equally perfect as matriarch Morticia. Huston’s performance earned her a Golden Globes nomination, and Julia’s untimely death at the age of 54 shortly after his two appearances as Gomez made his Addams Family performances even more iconic in retrospect.

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Though the Uncle Fester-centric story met with criticism, Christopher Lloyd’s performance also met with acclaim. Equally madcap was Sonnenfeld’s inventive direction. These successful aspects of the film as well its large box office share eventually led to a 1993 sequel, the far superior Addams Family Values. In addition to the excellent returning cast, Addams Family Values also added veteran character actors Christine Baranski, Peter MacNicol, Carol Kane, and Joan Cusack into the fold. Despite the excellence of these supporting players, the three main characters (Fester, Gomez, and Morticia) remain absolute highlights.

Cusack’s character, the villainous nanny/black wide Debbie Jellinsky, puts the plot into motion when she marries (and intends to kill) the grotesque Uncle Fester. Luckily, Fester is unkillable. So Debbie whisks Fester away, demanding he stay as far away from his family as possible so she can bide her time until she can find a way to off him for good and steal his family riches. Meanwhile, Gomez and Morticia must care for their new baby, Pubert, who takes a little too strongly to being an Addams (his mustache and unkillable nature are both always hilarious). Pugsly and Wednesday are stuck at a preppy summer camp, where they must endure the cheery nature of the counselors and the WASP-iness of their fellow campers.

Though I find Addams Family Values highly superior to the first film, it was almost a total failure at the box office. Whereas The Addams Family grossed over a hundred million dollars in domestic theaters, its sequel grossed less than fifty domestically. Despite better writing, more refined performances, a manic performance from Joan Cusack, and an hilarious summer camp musical feature Wednesday as a revenge-seeking Pocahontas, the film was met with a collective shrug from audiences. It didn’t help that the well-reviewed sequel faced stiff competition from Mrs. Doubtfire, one of the biggest hits of 1993. It also faced off against such successful films as The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Three Musketeers.

Addams Family Values is the rare case of a super sequel being outright better than its first and yet completely collapsing at the box office (see also: Gremlins 2: The New Batch). Due to its lack of box office success as well as the sad and untimely death of star Raul Julia, Paramount never commissioned a theatrically released third film in the franchise. Eventually, Tim Curry starred as Gomez in a made-for-television threequel, but no one could have expected that film to compete with the big budgets of the first two films. Julia’s death still stings some twenty years later, as the spirited and talented performer clearly had a whole lot more to give to the silver screen.

It is for that reason that Addams Family Values is truly disappointing. Though it is a well-made and hilarious film, it’s failure at the box office killed the franchise and Julia’s unfortunate death robbed us of another charismatic performance as Gomez. Barry Sonnenfeld went on to bigger success as the director and architect of the highly lucrative Men in Black film franchise, but I still find Addams Family Values to be his biggest success as a director. Madcap set pieces, zany performances, a strong script, and a fantastic villain really anchor the film and make it truly special. Despite its lack of success at the box office, it is a superior film in almost every way to the first and a really great comedy that stands on its own merits.

-Z-

Arrow – Still Entertaining: A Season Two Look Back

I never did a write up at the end of Arrow’s second season. I wanted to, but I never got around to it. So, since the third season is starting up today, I figured now would be as good of a time as any to look back at the show’s sophomore year.

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I really enjoyed the first year of Arrow which was something I really didn’t expect. I wasn’t much of a Green Arrow comic book fan (I had zero investment in the character), but the show just grabbed me and I became a regular viewer. I thoroughly enjoyed how the episodes didn’t hold back on the narrative the way its spiritual predecessor Smallville did. The show kept moving forward with exciting twists and turns along the way.

Sometimes shows in their second year lose some steam. I was so happy that this wasn’t the case with Arrow. If anything, the writers/producers took the momentum of the first year and pushed it to new heights. More and more things were happening in Arrow which gave the show a much more epic feeling to it.

The main narrative of the second year had Starling City recovering from the undertaking in which a good portion of the city was destroyed. During this, a new villain arises for Ollie to tangle with in Sabastian Blood, a mayoral candidate who is secretly delivering a strength-enhancing serum to a growing cult of criminals. What I liked about this season’s storyline was that you think the main conflict is largely a good versus bad tale without much character depth, but then mid-way through, the show pulls the rug out under you and completely redefines the arc by tying it back in to Ollie’s time on the island and the discovery that Slade is behind it all.

Though I am not a fan of the “you-killed-my-love-interest motivation” cliché that Arrow used, I did like Slade as a villain. He’s cunning and ruthless while also being evil for the sake of being evil. In short, it worked. The revelation also worked as it was completely unexpected, but it makes total sense.

I also liked Ollie’s journey this season from going to a somewhat reckless outlaw to a true hero. In that journey, he makes some surprising sacrifices that have completely redefined the show. I am looking forward to the ramifications in Arrow’s third year.

Not everything was great, however. I really don’t like the whole Felicity/Ollie thing the show is forcing. It doesn’t work for me. Though, I do have to admit, I love how they used that to play against the audience in the season finale (then again, I am a fan of when show gives viewers the finger).

Also, I wasn’t a fan of Isabel. She added very, very little to the show. I personally don’t think the writers knew what to do with her as her eventual connection to Slade makes absolutely no sense compared to when we first meet her. I almost wonder if they changed directions on what they were going to do with her mid-year (especially after she disappeared for the middle half of the season).

Finally, we have Caity Lotz as Sara. Sigh. I know the online community likes her, and I like the idea of her character, but Lotz just doesn’t work for me. I really feel she is a weak link among the cast. Nothing about her is convincing and she has too much of a “cutesy” voice for me to buy into her being an assassin.

The rest of the cast continues to shine in their respective roles. I do hope Arrow does more with Diggle next season. Right now, I feel that they are underutilizing him, especially given his background. I also hope they develop Thea much more. I like how they made her a more confident a character, but I am concerned on the direction they decided to take her in the season ender, especially considering her very weak motivation.

In some ways, the concluding episodes of season two really felt like a series finale. It brought so many plotlines to a close that if the show did end, I would have been satisfied. But, we are getting a third season (and likely more after that). I am excited to see what Arrow goes from here. I think season two really opened up the Arrow universe and now it can really grow and expand.

~N

Look at All The Scary Movies!

annaIn the past, I have been disappointed at how there rarely seems to be any scary movies released in the month of October to capitalize on the Halloween season (as opposed to Christmas time).  Obviously there are exceptions to that rule such as the Saw and Paranormal Activity franchises.  But for the most part, October is fairly horror free.

Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised at the October 2014 releases.  It seems as if there are multiple horror or horror-themed movies coming out this month to make any scary movie fan happy.

This week, we have the release of Annabelle, the Conjuring spinoff centering on a possessed/creepy doll that kills people or something.  The trailer makes it look pretty spooky and, well, the idea of a creepy doll will never not scare the crap out of someone.   Also this week is the newest Nic Cage film, Left Behind.  While not a horror film in a traditional sense, there is a very supernatural and religious bent to the film which could still film that need for a scary good time at the theater.

DracNext week, the newest adaptation of everyone’s favorite vampire comes out in Dracula Untold.  Promising to reveal the origins of the classic literary character, the film gives audiences a monster to both root for and frightened of.  I don’t know how good or bad the movie might be, but the trailers to provide a wonderful moody tone which services this time of year.

On October 17th, we get some family entertainment with the CGI animated The Book of Life.  While obviously not a horror movie, the film does boast some colorful images stemming from Mexican folklore, specifically the Day of the Dead (which the film was originally titled).  Some nice counter-programming that still ties into the season.

The following week gives us Ouija, which seems to be exactly like it is.  Interestingly, it is rated PG-13 – while not necessarily a bad thing, it could limit how horrific the movie could be.  Also coming out that week, is Stonehearst Asylum.  Based on an Edgar Allen Poe story where an unsuspecting medical intern begins work at an asylum where the inmates have taken over.

Also coming out on the 24th is Exists, a good-old fashioned monster movie in which a bunch of friends go into the forest only to have Bigfoot kill them.  Why not?

hornsAnd, finally, on Halloween, we see a re-release of Saw for its 10th anniversary, a second installment of a crazy, multiple story/director anthology film, ABC’s of Death 2, and, the Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe movie Horns.  I am most intrigued by the latter as it looks totally nuts and the movie embraces its nuttiness.  Plus, I truly believe Radcliffe is a wonderful actor and I really want to see him break out into the mainstream beyond just Harry Potter.

As you can see, we have a full month ahead of us with scary movies.  I have no ideas which ones are going to be good or bad.  But, I am excited by the fact that there are so many coming out!  Hopefully this can continue in future years.

Which ones are you planning to see?

~N

Speed Reading – The Flash: Futures End #1

"Impact Velocity"

“Impact Velocity”

Every anniversary of DC Comics’s New 52 has their line of comics do some sort of special event.  First it was Zero Issues.  Then it was Villains’ Month.  Now, DC is having its superhero comics jump five years into the future to tie into their weekly series Futures End.  Fortunately, like Villains’ Month, The Flash doesn’t break from its ongoing storyline and actually utilizes the time jump for its own narrative purposes.

Five years down the road, the blue, Future Flash has made it to that fateful day where Wally and Iris get into the horrible car accident he wasn’t there for to prevent (as seen in issue 30).  Turns out Reverse-Flash is involved and future Flash snaps his neck, Man of Steel-style.  “Present” Flash (who from this point on, I’ll just refer to as Flash) shows up and the two begin to duke it out.

Here is where some of the issue fell apart for me.  Future Flash tries to explain to Flash that the Speed Force is broken (something we learn Flash knows about).  Then, suddenly, Future Flash decides he needs to attack Flash so he won’t get in his way.

My questions: how?  And why?

While there is certainly a lot of confusion going on for Flash, Wally, and Iris, they never gave any indication that they were going to stop Future Flash at all costs.  If anything, it seemed as if Flash wanted some sort of explanation to know what was going on.  And wouldn’t Flash want to help fix the Speed Force?  The fight just strikes me as really forced.

By the end, Flash tinkers with one of Future Flash’s costume accessories which cause a huge Speed Force explosion.  It hits Wally which gives him Speed Force powers.  Future Flash is tossed back five years into the past (aka “today”) and Flash dies.  Wally promises to learn how to use his powers and travel back to stop the Future Flash.

I really like Wally here.  He’s older and, obviously, more mature than when we’ve seen him so far.  I want to see more of this Wally, but I have a feeling that outside of one or two appearances in the coming issues, we won’t be seeing him again.  I would be surprised if we see a young Wally with any powers anytime soon (and I honestly don’t want to see young Wally with powers).

Overall, this issue was more of a set-up for next month’s present-day battle between Flash and Future Flash.  And, from what it sounds like, Future Wally will be making a trip too.  I’m looking forward to that.

Cover Comments: Since DC did their 3D covers again for this event, I felt it necessary to comment on it.  I really don’t think it works this time around as well as it did last year.  I partly feel this way due to the cover being too busy with action.  I’m not talking about the actual art – that’s fine.  More in the fact that not only is it in the 3D format, but the image changes if you move it from side to side (see above picture).  I feel you lose some of the effect with both working at once.

Continuity Comments: Okay…this is nitpicky – but keep in mind, I am having fun here.  Since the Future Flash storyline has now very loosely tied in with the Futures End storyline, I noticed something that doesn’t line up at all.  Future Flash comes from a future 20 years from now where, among other things, he has adopted a blue costume and Captain Cold has died from cancer.  In Futures End #0 (from Free Comic Book Day), we see events from 35 years in the future where a very-much alive Captain Cold is working with a bearded Flash in his classic costume.  Is this an editorial “oops” or just a case of the future is always changing?  I’m not butthurt; I just find these things amusing.  Then again, you can also ask why Future Flash is still alive when he killed his earlier self.  It is best not to think about such things!

The Gorehound Reviews: From Dusk Till Dawn (’14) – Final Part 3

This last two parts of this review of the TV series From Dusk Till Dawn is being condensed. The Gorehound is getting no pleasure or entertainment from these episodes and wants to get away as fast possible. They are horrendous, pitiful, and altogether disappointing. That’s not to say there is nothing worth reviewing. The Gorehound’s ghouls must avoid each of these 44 minutes of so-called “horror” or “TV entertainment”. These awful scenes bring the original movie into even greater light. It was episode 6 that the Gorehound jumped from a point of neutrality and open mindedness to the soapbox to preach the awful news. In addition, it was the sixth episode that awoke the realization that all of the previous episodes have been nothing but Ritchie Gecko and his insanity. Post-episode 6, most of the episodes had some pretty decent character interaction. It was here where the story was focusing on all the other characters. Though the focus on the ranger was confusing. Why were they torturing him?

from dusk to dawn 1 112

Episode 7 finally got gory, like awesome sauce gore. If there is any episode worth watching throughout all of these, it’s episode 7. Progressing in to episode 9 things get confusing. Labyrinth? Mind games and facing fear? This is a mess. The last episode made a good conclusion of it all. It was a pleasing conclusion despite the rest of the of the awful episodes.

The replacement for Cheech Marin was pitiful. This sub-par character should go dig graves  for the rest of his cinematic career. Wilmer Valderama was plain annoying the entire time though he has certainly moved past That 70’s Show. He’s not intimidating, almost comical, and distracting from the rest of the piss poor episodes. D. J. is a pitiful fighter. His attacks have no power at all and did nothing to progress the story. Though the viewers never saw Clooney as a bad ass, we assumed he was and that is enough. No reason to substantiate it. At least Clooney’s tattoos were vibrant. We don’t need an explanation for the tattoos.

The biggest turn off of these last episodes was the portrayal of sex machine. Tom Savini is a god to splatter fiends like myself and to piss on this character with the son of Gary Busey? That’s heresy for which this is the last straw. Including his line “”This place is a giant people juicer”. Really? In the end, these characters are ugly, their personalities, their looks, their interactions, are all shallow. It would be better to watch the original on repeat, rather than site through these 10 episodes. 2/5 for all episodes combined.

Speed Reading! – The Flash #34

flash34

“Collision Course”

The Mashup Gang storyline is done!  And it ended in an incredibly uninteresting way.  Not to say that the issue was bad, but it wasn’t all that good either.  It was probably as middling as a comic book can come.  And, in some ways, that is worse than it being bad.

I don’t want to dump on this, but the story wasn’t really all that engaging.  Flash figured out who the killer was last issue, so 34 was really nothing much beyond a boss fight.  Brett Booth’s art was good (he really has a knack for the Flash), so it was visually interesting – just not narratively.  I suppose it might read better in a collected edition.  I’ve had this complaint before in regards to the Gorilla Warfare storyline, so I can’t really pick-apart the Venditti and Jensen too much as it is a pitfall of the comic book medium.

But I think another issue with the Mashup Gang arc is that it went on a bit too long for its own good.  I started to realize this last time, but now I am convinced of it.  This storyline did not need to be five issues long.  I suspect it likely would have been shorter had the writers not been juggling two other stories at the same time.

That said, I did appreciate how they tied Seaborn’s villainy back to the events of Forever Evil where Central City was trashed due to a MIA Flash.  At least that gave it a little more depth than the traditional “cop-goes-bad” trope.

And then we have Wally’s story – which ends too easily.  The last time we saw the kid, he was getting arrested for being a look-out during a robbery.  So, how do we get him out of that jam?  Easy – have his Uncle Daniel (the Reverse-Flash) give him a scared straight talk!

Oh, did I mention that Barry bribed him to talk to Wally?  And that he will be putting regular deposits in his account so he won’t talk?

That is incredibly stupid!  Barry has never been shown to be this dumb.  Maybe aloof, but not dumb.  How can he not see that this will inevitably blow up in his face?

And is it me, or has Daniel West undergone a personality change?  While he is obviously a bad guy, he wasn’t previously depicted as a sociopathic mastermind who now seems to be the T-Bag of Iron Heights.  His new depiction makes him a bit less sympatric as a character.

I do feel bad about slamming this issue so hard, because I really do like this creative team and the direction they are taking the book.  Everyone puts out a bad issue here and there.  Hopefully, we can go full steam ahead and leave the Mashup Gang behind us.

Next: Five Years Later — The Battle for Wally West’s Life Begins!

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