Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Help Me Tech Savvy! You Are My Only Hope!

Those with the killer memory will remember that The Breakdown episode was delayed in posting yesterday. I was having issues with Internet Archive, which is something that happens on a semi-regular basis. But I couldn't really complain, because it is a free service and has been a fine home for The Breakdown for several years. The issue this time was an inability to access the needed enclosure link to get the show up on the RSS Feed, so I took the plunge and moved the podcast over to Podbean. Now, I didn't want to change the feed, because it already has a decent amount of subscribers and also just wanted to minimize hassle. Podbean wouldn't be my Feed or what uploaded the show on iTunes, just a source to host the podcast each week.

That apparently seems to have been my big mistake of the week (though like most weeks that is a toss up).

As it stands, this week's episode plays on the blog, it plays fine on the RSS Feed, but the episode loaded on iTunes won't play, though all past episode will play. I assume it is an enclosure link issue, but I can't get verification on that.

Podbean refuses to help because it isn't their feed. Feedburner doesn't have any way to contact them. They are owned by Google, but they seem to be busy taking over the world. I'm running out of option.

So, I turn to you the tech savvy who happens to read this blog. There must be at least one of you. Is it you? Is it? If it is, then could you please spread your genius and help me make iTunes a place where new episodes of The Breakdown can be listened to by its wonderful listeners.

In advance I give you a thousand pounds of thanks.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Breakdown of Horror Podcast: 'Jigsaw', 'The Ring', 'Rings', 'What We Do in the Shadows', and 'Don't Kill It'

It is almost Halloween, so The Movie Breakdown offers up the treats with five horror movies. The big theatrical release this week is the eighth installment in a popular horror franchise in Jigsaw. Does it justify the return after a seven year absence? Speaking of franchises, we look at a movie that not only spawned two sequels but also even a horror movie trend in The Ring, then just because we can then we look at the recent sequel, Rings. Just to show how relevant we are, we discuss the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, which is directed by Taika Waititi who next week gives us Thor: Ragnarok. In the only way you could possible end off this show, we review a movie where Dolph Lundgren battles screeching demons in Don't Kill It. It is a fun show for horror fans or those curious about what they should sample for Halloween. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

The Breakdown Outline:

05:23 What We Do in the Shadows review
24:45 The Ring review
42:13 Rings review
1:04:27 Jigsaw review
1:30:46 Don't Kill It review
1:48:10 Review Rundown

Ratings Rundown:

What We Do in the Shadows ***½ (CS & SM)
The Ring ***½ (CS& SM)
Rings * (CS & SM)
Jigsaw ** (CS)
Don't Kill It *½ (CS & SM)

Technical Difficulties Strike the Breakdown Again

This week's Breakdown of Horror has been recorded and is ready for a listen. I'm currently experiencing problems with the podcast's host site where I can't acquire the link that uploads it on iTunes. Hopefully, it is a quick fix, but it does mean the Breakdown is missing its usual posting time. I apologize.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

'Bright' Trailer Makes Netflix Big December Tentpole Look Like Something Suited for January Theatrical Release

Netflix has been pumping up the David Ayer directed and Will Smith starring urban fantasy actioner, Bright, as one of the big movie events of the year. There has been a lot of anticipation about Netflix entering into the world of tentpoles, and there has been speculation on if the can outdo the studios on the one kind of movie they still are the kings.

Except can we hold up for moment, and admit that maybe one of the reasons it is coming to Netflix and not being released to theatres is due to the fact it would be a massive flop. If a big studios had this on its slate, they would probably keep pushing the release date for two years before quietly dropping it in January. I can't shake RIPD or I, Frankenstein out of my mind.

The plot is about a police officer whose partner is an orc, where in this world there are also elves, and they come across a magic wand that they must protect. Yes, they need to protect a magic wand. Sure it is a manly and tough wand, but they still call it a wand. I sense they are trying to throw in some social commentary with the orcs being a race that has prejudice against them and there is conflict with them against the police. I'm all for allegory and having a deeper message in an action movie, but I can't shake that this is a muddle of different genres and ideas getting slopped together. Magic and elves just seems at odds with gritty cop actioner.

Plus it is so dark and grimy, and doesn't look like something that would wow people on the big screen. The whole year long hype is that this is a theatre worthy tentpole that we're getting at home, but this kind of looks like a good looking pilot to a TV series. And if this didn't have Will Smith, who is one of the big remaining film stars, there is no way I'd buy this as an event movie.

I want to be wrong. I want to be able to champion a David Ayer movie again, especially after his last few have disappointed. I'm all for the bizarre and quirky, and this is definitely not afraid to be strange. So, we are a little over a month to find out if this movie can deliver, even if the trailers have been flat.

Trumper Tantrums

Over at Nathan Rabin's Happy Place, Rabin recently posted a piece called "On Not Feeding Into Trump's Temper Tantrums", because that is a thing that you now have to decide to do with the American President. I don't think he is saying that we live in a bubble, and it has become pretty clear that he does things that do need to be called out or be fought. The head can't be stuck in the sand, and Americans definitely needs to stay vigilante in being aware of his new policies and agendas. Even as a Canadian, I have to be aware that a lot of major things that he does will affect my country. But the point is, that also a lot of what he does is just really immature and boorish blurting and yelling. 90% of what he seems to ramble out is due to the fact no one has bothered to replace the dead batteries in his remote control truck, so he is bored now. Even though he is far less civil and well-behaved than my two year old daughter and five year old son, I've learnt with them when they get in a lousy mood due to not enough sleep, it is best to just send them off to a room to blow off their steam for a while. It is a good strategy with how to deal with the leader of the free world too. It is hard to send the President to his room, but it is easy to just ignore his Twitter account for a few hours. We can write about Trump endlessly, and this entire blog could be devoted to the inane and bully-ish things that he farts from his mouth, but life is too short and I have enough trouble with my emotions to immerse myself with Trump's public antics.

Check out Rabin's piece because it is short but has a good point, While you're there, read some of his other stuff, because he is a great pop culture writer especially if you like deep analysis in the type of silly and cheesy movies most critics prefer to ignore.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

'Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built' Trailer Brings Helen Mirren to Horror

Horror stories claiming to be based on true stories have existed as far back as groups huddled around campfires with parents needing a way to scare their kids into staying inside the tent at night. Hollywood has long been fascinated with billing their horror movies as true, but in the recent years the majority of them are now verified hoaxes that were perpetuated by the infamous Warrens. But history is full of odd and yet to be explained events that would be perfectly suited for a supernatural horror tale. This is why I am rather excited by Winchester: The House That Ghost Built, because it is based on true peculiar events that have spurred a lot of speculation and ripe for being turned into a chilling Gothic ghost story.

Sarah Winchester was the widow of William Wirt Winchester and had inherited $20 million (which would be equivalent of $496,344,828 today) and had 50% holding in the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, which made her one of the wealthiest woman in the world at the time. As everyone knows, rich people are crazy. To prove that, Winchester is most known for using her fortunes for the 38 year, 24 hours and 7 days a week construction of her California mansion. The belief at the time was that Winchester feared her family was cursed and that somehow the never-ending renovations and additions to her home would keep the evil spirits away. To add to the fact that she was highly superstitious, she also was obsessed with the number 13, so her house would contain things like 13 bathrooms, 13 chandeliers, 13 window panes and so on. As you could guess with such a monstrosity, it is an odd house with many long hallways and things like staircases that lead to nowhere. It now stands as a top tourist destination in San Jose, The Winchester Mystery House.

It is such a fascinating story that seems to be begging for some creepy mythology, and I'm shocked it took this long to be turned into a movie. It is coming from the same team that is giving us Jigsaw, so after Thursday my excitement may increase or flatten. If there is any other reason to be excited for this picture other than the atmosphere and creepiness delivered in the trailer, it is Helen Mirren does a horror movie. Yep, that is frightening.

Monday, October 23, 2017

'Phantom Thread' Trailer Teases the Final Team-Up of Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson

There are a few directors whose name alone create excitement over their upcoming motion picture even before there is a title or synopsis. Many movie fans get eager the moment they hear the names, Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Paul Thomas Anderson. For several months there had been buzz over Paul Thomas Anderson's latest even before anyone knew the plot, and then excitement mounted when Daniel Day-Lewis was attached (they'd previously teamed together for There Will Be Blood). It became an even bigger deal when Lewis announced he will be retiring, which means this will potentially be the last time we can to see him work his magic. The title has now been revealed to be Phantom Thread and information that it will be about a clothes designer in the 1950s. If that isn't enough, Focus Features has dropped the first trailer to give us a bit more on the plot and feel of the movie.

All of Anderson's movies have been character-driven, and often more about exploring how people are driven and motivated by their environment rather than a straight-forward narrative. His movies are soaked in atmosphere, visual style, and crafting a mood. Phantom Thread definitely has a distinct sense of visuals that help set a tone and immerse you into the high fashion world of 1950s London. Daniel Day-Lewis looks great as Reynold Woodcock, a renowned dressmaker who is sought after by the socially elite, but you instantly get a feeling of loneliness and isolation from Lewis' performance.

The movie seems to be looking to explore explores the creative journey of an artist and how romance can challenge that journey. Woodcock falls in love with the much younger but very independent Alma played by Vicky Krieps. The trailer shows that she will start as his lover and muse, but it will put a great strain on his career and work. Vicky looks to be allowed to get some meaty scenes and being able to play a crucial character who is strong-willed and more than a love interest. I look forward to seeing her have to go toe to toe with Lewis.

The trailer promises a rich and complex movie that tries to explore a lot of themes while also being intimate and focused on these two people. Anderson's movies are always interesting and ambitious, and I look forward to seeing what he does with what may be Lewis' farewell performance.

Wait. . . What? 'Justice League' Won't Be 8 Hours Long

In news that isn't that significant but still almost made be spit out my coffee for a classic double take, Justice League isn't pulling a Lord of the Rings trilogy by going even longer than its previous movies. I had been dreading the reveal that Justice League would be a movie where I would need take a photo of my children because they would be teenagers by the time I got back home. Instead, the Manabytes' blog is reporting that Justice League will actually be the shortest DC Universe movie with a run time of 121 minutes. That is a brisk compared to what we expect from bloated comic book event movies.

The reality is that length never has and never will have anything to do with quality. Though franchises like Transformers and most movies directed by Peter Jackson seems to believe you need a massive run time for a movie to be epic. I remember on Siskel & Ebert that Gene and Roger would often remark that a good movie can never be too long and bad movie can never be too short. An article by Adam Chitwood on Collider, not only has a version of that statement (just giving credit to Roger Ebert), but also revealed that Suicide Squad had the shortest run time of the recent movies despite it feeling like a war of attrition to get to the end. On the other hand, Wonder Woman felt like the swiftest movie, despite having a run time only two minutes shorter than Man of Steel.

Length is rarely the issue, but apparently, a horde of drooling toxic DC fans are not aware of this and have sent death threats to the host of the Manabytes website for daring to report their beloved still to be released movie won't be three hours long. First of all, if your first instinct after finding out a movie is shorter than you had assumed is to write a violent and harassing email to the person reporting it, or for that matter, if any movie news inspires you to assault the writer, I suggest that you go play fetch with a transport truck or dunk your head in a fish tank for an hour instead. This is the type of nasty stuff that gives geek culture a real bad name or even why for most days that I wish I could avoid social media.

The source of hatred from these fans is also the same reason I was shocked by this run time. Justice League is promising a whole lot of story that feels like it is going to be very crammed and rushed for a slightly over two hour run time. The story needs time for the impact of Superman's death on the world to really sink in, and show the dramatic effects it has on Lois Lane, Batman and Wonder Woman. Plus there is a giant world invasion storyline taking place so you have a villain that probably should be established, some stakes need to be raised, and then of course the big climatic battle. On top of that, you have the recruitment storyline for Aquaman, Cyborg, and the Flash. Since we only ever saw these three characters in a grainy video on a computer in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, you'd assume they need to give some substantial time to allow us to connect and know these characters. It looks like they will need cut out the scene where bionic dad take Cybaby to the fair.

I sense the development of the new characters is going to suffer or the big invasion storyline is going to just be rushed through at the end. But I also do not know this, and at this point, I have to trust Justice League is the run time that it needs to be to tell the story it wants to tell. Considering that "longer is better" seems to be the big studio event movie mantra, going shorter feels like a bold and confident decision that came natural. It must be a case where Joss Whedon and Zack Snyder went against usual instincts of beefing up the movie and sticking with the length they ended up with after shooting and editing.

Please don't bomb my house, but I am on the side that the shorter run time is a positive, just because it is so counter to the current system. It may signal a much more focused and efficient story.

'The Commuter' Trailer Promises Insanity for Final Liam Neeson and Jaume Collet-Serra Action Movie Team-Up

Liam Neeson has promised his action movie career is coming to an end. But Steve Soderbergh also retired from filmmaking in 2013, yet this year I swear that I saw Logan Lucky. Neeson believes it is getting a little silly for someone his age to be jumping from exploding vehicles and punching down a dominoes of baddies. Maybe no one should tell the seven years older Sylvester Stallone those thoughts.

If it is true this is near the end of Neeson undoing evil with his special set of skills, then I am glad he is doing one last team up with Jaume Collet-Serra. This will be their fourth time together as they've done Unknown, Non-Stop, and Run All Night (because I need to mention it whenever I have the chance, he also directed the Neeson-less but well-substituted Blake Lively starring shark thriller, The Shallows that was a blast).

The trailer makes it look like an insane finale to the Collet-Serra and Neeson thriller team-up. It has also convinced me to never talk to anyone on a train again. Neeson's insurance salesman character is given one hypothetical, and next thing he knows he is watching a guys get smacked by a bus, rumbling around with a stranger, and stuck on a burning train. A long traffic jam on the way to work doesn't seem so bad anymore.

This looks to be following the Non-Stop formula where Neeson has to investigate several passengers and attempt to figure out the one who doesn't belong, Except this time, it looks like that person may be a witness that he needs to protect and several of the others may be in on some evil conspiracy. It will likely be full of loopy twists that film nerds will devote Youtube videos tearing apart, but Collet-Serra has a good eye for action and solid pacing where those things shouldn't matter while watching it. A good thriller distracts you from the holes during the experience.

I just hope this movie is half as ridiculous and crazy as this trailer hints and Neeson at least throws one nasty tough off the train. January always seems to have at least one goofy little actioner that can be a mess but is still a lot of fun, and this looks ready to be that movie.

It Isn't a Breakdown If I Am Not Forced to Retract a Lie

Fake news alert!

I spread two falsehoods on this morning's The Movie Breakdown podcast. It is probably something that I do far more often than I'd want to admit, but I only catch my glaring inaccuracies about two times a year. This is what happens when both Scott and I tend to ramble away on subjects that I did not do any pre-research and am relying on my dusty brain.

During the box office analysis segment, I mentioned that Jane is a documentary about Jane Goodall, which is indeed a fact. Jane is a primatologists who did ground-breaking work with her research with chimpanzees, made major discoveries in nature and was an incredibly successful female scientist in a male dominated field. But who she isn't is Dian Fossey, who lived in Rwanda among gorillas and is the subject in the Sigourney Weaver starring 1988 biopic, Gorillas in the Mist.

No, I do not think all female scientists who work with apes are the same person. I realize both are legendary and significant figures in history, and happen to be very different people. Especially since one is still alive, and the other sadly has a mysterious unsolved murder (sorry, to spoil the ending). But this does not change the fact that Jane looks to be a documentary worth checking out.

And my other glaring mistake?

The upcoming 12 Strong movie was not originally call The Horsemen, because the movie isn't about the apocalypse or a 1980s wrestling group led by Ric Flair. It was called Horse Soldiers, but I am guessing the studios decided that title was a little too on the nose.

The Breakdown of 'Only the Brave', 'The Snowman', '1922', 'Wheelman' and 'One of Us'

The Breakdown brings the heat this week as we review the action drama about the real life elite forest fire fighting team the Granite Mountain Hot Shots in Only the Brave. As well we have a snow covered thriller based on the Jo Nesbø best seller, The Snowman. Speaking of adaptations, we have another movie based on a Stephen King work in the horror thriller. 1922. From there we have the heist gone bad actioner, Wheelman and the documentary about three individuals trying to leave the Hasidic Jew community, One of Us. As always if you enjoy the show then please spread the word.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

The Breakdown Outline:

01:30 Only the Brave review
20:03 Wheelman review
40:24 1922 review
58:28 One of Us review
1:12:18 The Snowman review
1:30:18 Box Office Analysis
1:42:11 Trailer Review: Black Panther, 12 Strong, Jim & Andy: The Great BeyondI, Tonya, Acrimony
2:01:00 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Only the Brave ***½ (CS)
Wheelman *** (CS & SM)
1922 *** (CS & SM)
One of Us ***½ (CS) & *** (SM)
The Snowman * (CS)

Friday, October 20, 2017

'Wheelman' Review: Frank Grillo Takes Us On an Emotional and Thrilling Ride

Four Star Rating: ***
Starring: Frank Grillo, Caitlin Carmichael, Garret Dillahunt, Wendy Moniz, Shea Whigham
Director: Jeremy Rush
Screenplay: Jeremy Rush
Music by: Brooke Blair & Will Blair
Cinematographer: Juanmi Azpiroz
Editor: Padraic McKinley
Production Company: The Solution Entertainment Group, Warparty Films
Distributed by: Netflix
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rated: TV-MA - Coarse Language, Mature Themes, Violence, May not be suitable for children 17 and under
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Run Time: 82 minutes

If in one year we can have three movies heavily influenced by the comedy classic, Groundhog Day, and avoid labelling them derivative because they use the concept in different genres, then there should be no problem that Wheelman has a striking similarity to the 2014 Tom Hardy starring dramatic thriller, Locke.

For the less independent movie savvy, Locke was a critical darling and a gem among indy movie lovers that tells the story of a man who is trying to keep his personal and professional life from unravelling after receiving a phone call while he was driving. The entire story is told while Hardy's character is driving his car and the narrative is pushed forward with his various phone calls. For Wheelman, director and screenwriter Jeremy Rush takes an almost identical storytelling approach but sets it in a heist gone bad thriller.

The movie starts in the dark for several seconds (for some it may feel like age), then the lights turn on to reveal that the location is a garage shot from the perspective inside a car. A mechanic then drives the car outside where he gets out of the car while the shot perspective remains in the vehicle while he has an exchange with a man cloaked in the shadows. The man is less than impressed it is a black car with a red trunk because it is now less than inconspicuous. The exchange informs us the man taking over the car has a less than lawful job description that require anonymity, but also shows someone who is exuding confident. There is no need for expository dialogue. It is clear he is getaway driver before the bank robbery goes down. The efficient scene signals that Rush is a director that won't bog down the narrative with unnecessary details and instead keeps things speeding along.

The driver is played by Frank Grillo (Purge & Captain America series) but just like Drive, we never learn his name as he is only referred to as the Wheelman (hence the film's title). The introduction shows both a bare bone storytelling mixed with a slick, assured shooting style, There are no fancy big set pieces because it is almost all shown from inside the car. Cinematographer Juanmi Azpiroz also provides unique shots aroud the moving vehicle that heightens tension but also lets the viewer soak up the atmospheric nighttime streets. The opening credit sequences feels like a 1970s exploitation action throwback with the yellow block letters, shots bathing the viewer in the night lights, and a pounding yet almost soothing film score by Brooke Blair and Will Blair. These technical aspects projects a noirish feel to the story of a troubled getaway driver. The setting creates a place that feels reckless and dangerous where one could be betrayed at any moment or get shot at by a driver enraged over being cut off.

The story is standard formula with Grillo playing a lead who has a dark past that includes some prison time and now owes some dangerous people a sizable debt. He is the typical cool and no-nonsense type that isn't there to do small talk with his accomplices and wants to keep it strictly business. Unfortunately for him, one of the major movie rules is if you try to pull off a heist in the opening act then it needs to go sour. Grillo's character then finds himself trying to sort out if he has been set up while also trying to keep himself alive from the angry crooks that he betrayed. Of course, there has to be family drama as he is just a good guy deep down who is trying to keep things civil with his ex-wife (Wendy Moniz) and maintain some custody of his 13 year old daughter (Cailtin Carmichael). The reality is all the narrative turns and character development has been seen in countless movies before, but Rush recognizes this, keeps everything firing off at a steady and slick pace.

The majority of the movie is Grillo trying discover the truth and manage his life through phone calls, and while none of the dialogue is very distinct or engaging (most of it resorts to shouting matches and cursing -- though it is an understandable stressful night), Grillo's performance elevates the interactions. Most of the movie is Grillo putting on a solo performance, except for two occasions where he shares the car, but he brings huge emotions and drama to his nameless character. His performance reveals a man worn out from a tough few years who is trying to hold himself together so he can be a proper dad for his daughter that he truly loves while also conveying he is a man that won't be pushed around. He balances vulnerability with toughness, and makes us question how much is an act and what is his true character. Grillo takes us on a journey and proves he is worthy of more lead roles in the future.

Jeremy Rush also proves he is a director to watch as he adds some unique perspective shots to add a few thrills to the action sequences. The car chase scenes are kept tight and often either shown from inside the car or with much of the shots taken up with an outside view of the speeding car, and it draws us into the chase and often leaves us disoriented much like the wheelman The quick and varied shots add a new layer of tension and action. There are also a few scenes where Grillo leaves the car including when he enters into a bar to grab the guy who betrayed him. Most of his roughing up of this man is left to our imagination or done through the view of the windshield. It give a feel that we are stuck in that car and adds to a sense of isolation, but also gives some style to scenes that otherwise would feel token and generic.

Wheelman is the kind of movie that is a perfect fit for Netflix and the type of movie that I want them to distribute more often. It is an easy to follow, tightly-paced thriller that takes a few ambitious creative directions that most big studios would shy away from it. The picture is too small scale to meet the tastes of big event movie goers and lacks a big name draw, so it never had a chance to reach the multiplexes. This is a crowd pleasing and accessible thriller that is missed on the big screen, and can help Netflix stand out.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Happy Death Day', 'The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)', 'The Foreigner', 'The Babysitter', and 'Kingdom of Us'

It is October so that means we need a horror movie in the cinemas, and The Breakdown serves up a review of the horror comedy that is a Groundhog Day style slasher, Happy Death Day. The horror comedy continues with a teenage coming age story mixed with slasher, The Babysitter. We also look at Noah Bambauch's latest in the family dramedy, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). Then we move into the action territory with Jackie Chan's latest, The Foreigner and a documentary about a family dealing with their father's suicide, Kingdom of Us. As always if you enjoy the show then please spread the word.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

The Breakdown Outline:

01:11 The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) review
26:08 Happy Death Day review
42:38 The Babysitter review 
1:05:06 The Foreigner review
1:22:49 Kingdom of Us review
1:39:10 Trailer Reviews: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The New Mutants, Justice League, Blockers, Thoroughbreds
2:03:55 Box Office Analysis
2:12:02 Review Rundown

Star Rating Rundown:

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) **** (CS & SM)
Happy Death Day *** (CS)
The Babysitter ** (CS & SM)
The Foreigner ** (CS)
Kingdom of Us ***½ (CS & SM)

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Battle of the Blockbusters: Analyzing the New(ish) 'Justice League' and 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Trailers

The two biggest movies still to be released in 2017 dropped huge trailers this week in Justice League and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Both have been seen probably billions of times by now and been extensively analyzed by every major movie news web site, but they haven't been written about on this very minor blog. Both are major movie events with a salivating fan base, so both trailers were seen as big events on their own. As for the trailers, one did a great job on fuelling my excitement while leaving tons of questions (let it be clear, this is what a trailer is supposed to do) and the other wiped out the building excitement I started feeling over the summer. Find out which is which!

Justice League (November 17):

The fantastic Wonder Woman was a huge creative course correction for the DC cinematic universe.  Optimism for Justice League was high with hope DC now found the formula and that increased to huge levels when Joss Whedon was hired on to do reshoots. Many were very excited to see what he would add to the movie even if the circumstances behind it were quite sad (Zack Snyder needed to take time off to deal with the death of his son).

After seeing the latest trailer and what I assume the first to contain footage that would have Whedon's work in it, it is pretty clear this is still very much a Zack Snyder comic book movie. We have the return of annoying Snyderisms like the obsession with a metallic colour palate, endless mind-numbing explosions, and action sequences that deny any real world physics. The trailer has done nothing to take away my fears that in order to properly introduce the new characters like Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg to the point where you care about them while also telling the monster/alien/demon invasion story, properly explore the world grieving over Superman, and giving attention to the established character's arcs that this movie will clock in at about 8 hours. Or you know have individual movies for each character before doing a team-up movie, but I sense they may not have enough time for that.

I really dug the opening with the promise that Lois Lane may be a crucial character finally. The movie is actually going to really allow the death of Superman to sink in and be something that affects each character and have a huge impact on the world. It will make the previous events feel like they matter even if everyone including the original poster knows that Superman is coming back before the end credits. Amy Adams conveyed more emotion in this trailer than she was allowed in the previous two movies, so it gives me hope the drama will be more than just filler this time.

Wonder Woman though is back to being a side character in the this trailer, but the previous trailer make me think that is more just to usher in new footage, and I hope we get more than just Gal Gadot's millions dollar smile every few scenes.

There is also a sense of humour here. I like some of the one liners by Batman as he needs to adjust to his rather eccentric new recruits. Ezra Miller has a fun charisma and energy as the Flash, but it feels a little second string after already getting a lot of this routine from Spider-Man in the Marvel movies. Hopefully, there is something to make Barry Allen/Flash stand out other than he runs really fast and reminds us of a cheaper Peter Parker.

After the last trailer looked more polished, I'm back to being a bit hesitant on the CGI again. Maybe just the issue is that it is all just too much, too loud, and too bombastic. Sometimes this stuff does look way better on the big screen then squeezed on to my laptop. The other problem is it doesn't even look like they are planet earth, and most of it just seems like a nightmare Batman is having after downing too many late night lobster thermidors.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi:

Lucasfilm's has been really great with how they have handled the Star Wars trailers since reviving the franchise (as a series of new movies, because the franchise has been alive in books, cartoons, merchandise, and party napkins since 1977) by delivering a sparse amount of trailers for each movie compared to every other big heavyweight franchise that believes you need 140 trailers before release. This is only the second trailer released and has tons of new footage, but leaves even more questions rather than providing any answers to the many questions posed in the original trailer.

It looks like Rey is going to get a long training storyline with Luke Skywalker playing the role of Yoda this time. Unlike last time, the trainee freaks out the trainer. Luke mentions he only saw this much raw power once before and should have been afraid of it then, and it seems obvious to assume he is referencing Kylo Ren (but it could be misdirection). It looks like a major focus of this movie will be the connection and relation between Rey and Ren. It hints they are possibly the two people who are the most powerful ever with the Force. You get a sense it will be playing some deep cosmic connection between the two. It will also be interesting to see if Luke's comment about ending the Jedi that is shown in the original trailer comes before the training or after what I assume is Rey freaking him out with her powers. And does Luke abandon Rey, which causes her to flee to the arms of Ren and Snoke?

It definitely looks like Snoke channels Return of the Jedi's Emperor by trying to lure the hero to the dark side. The movie has enough well-crafted new characters who can take the lead role with Finn and Poe Dameron that there is a slight chance we could see Rey accept the hand of Ren and be swayed to the dark side by the end of this movie. I don't think that is the direction, but her being forced to choose sides looks to be a major storyline. I am really interested to see if the interaction with Ren and Rey plays out the way it is hinted in the trailer or if it is a splicing of separate scenes.

Many months ago, it was mentioned that General Leia Organa was originally scheduled to be the focus of the third movie, like how Han Solo was the focus of The Force Awakens and Luke Skywalker is the focus in this one. Sadly, that isn't going to happen with the passing of Carrie Fisher, and now the big question has been how they will write out Leia with the movie already shot before her passing. This trailer is definitely playing into that speculation with it looking like Ren blows up his mom's ship and kills her just like he murdered his father. He is not the best son. But this could also be a slick Jedi mind trick and it is just an editing of random scenes that look like they fit as one (yep, they seem to be doing that a lot in this trailer).

We also see Finn in action, which is nice because it means he isn't in a coma for the whole movie. Captain Phasma looks to be getting a much bigger role this time and will be rumbling with Finn, as that rivalry had seeds planted in the previous. I really hope Phasma gets a character and personality here, and we learn more about who she is in this world.

Not much Poe other than being stuck in crazy battles, and it looks like the Resistance takes some pretty massive hits and casualties here. With Luke having a bleak outlook, Leia potentially facing her demise, Rey being wooed to the dark sides, and lots of shots of good guys' ships exploding, you get the sense this will be going The Empire Strikes Back route with the heroes being left in a dismal situation by the end.

We also get peaks at some new creatures including some wolf-like things and a fuzzy little chubby guinea pig creature who looks to be Chewbacca's new co-pilot (apparently, it is called a porg). I'm cool with the very targeted at making stuffies for kids new character, because that has always been a Star Wars staple and the last targeted to sell toys to kids creation, BB-8 was adorable and worked. I'll let this fuzzball prove his worth. I should also note that I never had any hatred towards the Ewoks and they make me smile too, so this may be the wrong place for that type of hate.

This had the opposite effect of the Justice League trailer, I am somehow even more stoked and thrilled and geeked and excited for this movie. This was already by far my most anticipated movie of the year and I've so far loved the return to this world by giving the two recent movie both 4 stars (The Force Awakens landed number one on my Top 10 of 2015). Rian Johnson is one of my favourite filmmakers and has created fantastic movies, and I am excited to see what he can do with a huge budget and a universe adored by billions.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Internet is Back

Internet has been down since Friday over here at Spicer Manor. It has been rather stressful trying to get work done that is almost entirely done online while also trying to be prepared for this week's The Breakdown where most movies are watched on Netflix and the show is recorded over Skype. Luckily, I was able to gallivant over to my parent's house for an all-night movie binge and then record The Breakdown on Sunday morning. But I had to eventually go back home to the world that the internet forgot.

It was dark days where my laptop couldn't take me to Google or allow me quick research over at  Wikipedia. I was burning through my data plan on my iPhone in order to research and contact my clients. But the light of a fully working internet in my own home has returned and it is. . . glorious.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Blade Runner 2049', 'My Little Pony: The Movie', 'The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson', 'XXX: Return of Xander Cage' and 'Berlin Syndrome'

The Breakdown is loaded up with five movie reviews this week. The big one is the hotly anticipated sequel to the sci-fi cult classic, Blade Runner 2049. It is also the continuation of Vintember with Vin Diesel's latest, XXX: Return of Xander Cage. Plus the Netflix Original documentary, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, the latest animated feature My Little Pony: The Movie, and the Australian thriller, Berlin Syndrome. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes. While you are there, please give us a five star review if you enjoy the show.

The Breakdown Outline:

02:00 Blade Runner 2049 review
21:19 The Death and Life of Marsha P. Jouhnson review
34:45 xXx: Return of Xander Cage review
50:45 Berlin Syndrome review
1:06:06 My Little Pony: The Movie review
1:19:20 Box Ofice Analysis
1:31:16 Trailer Review: Pacific Rim Uprising,Roman J Isreal Esq.,Wonder Wheel, Replicas,Only the Brave 
1:45:35 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Blade Runner 2049 ****
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson  ***½ (CS) & **½ (SM)
xXx: Return of Xander Cage ** (CS) & *½ (SM)
Berlin Syndrome ***½ (CS & SM)
My Little Pony: The Movie ** (CS)

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Breakdown is Thundercats are GO!

I did a little globetrotting, but I found myself a place to record The Breakdown while the internet remains a fantasy on the homefront. This means sadly that there won't likely be much writing or the Blade Runner 2049 review as I'll be burning the midnigh oil to prepare for the podcast, then it is back to the land that technology (or more specifically, Rogers) forgot.

Breakdown Warning

It may be a non issue in a few hours, but at the moment, technical issues are raging strong. So, this means the Blade Runner 2049 review continues to be delayed but also the Breakdown recording may need to be postponed, which means the show may not get posted Monday morning. I hope to avoid it but apologize now.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Pesky Technical Difficulties

Remember when The Breakdown was delayed due to some technical issues? Well, the Blade Runner 2049 review is set for the same delay because again technology hates me. Hope the issue is resolved quickly, but until then trust me that the movie is a shining example of what a sequel should deliver. Hope to write more when I do not have to type from my iPhone.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, but Only One Gets Sold for Fundraisers

A child can never be too young to get hooked on capitalism. This is why Everett's school has him out selling chocolate bars in order to raise funds for different school programs. Everett has embraced the salesperson spirit on his first day with his box of chocolate treats by selling five to some of our neighbours. His award winning sales pitch was something like, "I'm selling chocolate bars for my school. If you buy enough I can win prizes. Don't you want me to get prizes?" Not the most traditional advertising route, but seems to be working. So, I'll add, seriously, don't you want this kid to win prizes?

Already posted a sales pitch on Facebook, but decided to take advantage of my blog readership by shilling some chocolates on this site. I realize, having over 80% of my readership living outside of Canada kind of hurts the chances of this being a goldmine sale, but this is targeted to those few living in or around the Brantford area. As long as I don't stuff all the chocolates in my pockets, they should keep real well if we may see each other over the next few months or so. Don't let some space between us stop me from hooking you up with the sweet sweet chocolate.

The deal is the chocolates are going for $3.00 a bar, as stated it goes towards programs and supplies for Everett's school. As Everett wants you to be reminded, if he sells enough then he gets some sweet prizes. And for such a good deed, you get sweet chocolate, so lots of sweetness for everyone.

In case you don't want to stare at the picture, the types are milk chocolate, French mint, crispy rice, caramel & sea salt (not bars but a box of smaller chocolates) and creamy maple (also the box of smaller chocolates). 

If you want to buy some then leave a comment here or on Facebook or you can contact me at christopher.d.spicer at the old gmail.

Monday, October 02, 2017

The Breakdown of 'American Made', 'Flatliners', 'Gerald's Game', 'Our Souls at Night', and 'The Last Witch Hunter'

The Breakdown reviewing five movies and it is one of those weeks Scott and Christopher disagree on a movie. We have two new theatrical releases in the Tom Cruise and Doug Liman collaboration, American Made, and the remake of a 1990s thriller hit, Flatliners. There are also two new Netflix Originals in the Stephen adaptation, Gerald's Game and the mature romance, Our Souls at Night. Finally, Vintember has barged its way into October with Vin Diesel's fantasy adventure, The Last Witch Hunter. As always, if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans or give us a five star reviews on iTunes.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

The Breakdown Outline:

02:02 Gerald's Game review
16:47 American Made review
32:48 Our Souls at Night review
45:41 Flatliners review
59:04 The Last Witch Hunter review
1:17:00 Trailer Review: Annihalation, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, Father Figures, The Killing of Sacred Deer, Creep 2
1:31:50 Box Office Analysis
1:41:52 Review Rundown and Scott's passioned ultimatum

Rating Rundown:

Gerald's Game *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
American Made **½ (CS)
Our Souls at Night *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)
Flatliners ** (CS)
The Last Witch Hunter *** (CS) & ** (SM)