Category: movie review

Gen13 – A Sexy Saturday Morning

Image Comics came out of the blue, a company created by names such as Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee who unlike other major publishers, allowed the artists to retain rights to their properties. In 1993, Gen13 became one of those titles and seven years later, it would be released as an animated movie. Much like the tone of the comic, the animation remained geared toward young adult, but like with many superhero titles of the 90’s, it featured narrow waists, large biceps, and breasts. While looking lie it’d be perfect for Saturday morning cartoons like its WildC.A.T.’s counterpart, it would have given my parents a slack jaw as we watched.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the movie’s plot is somewhat of a mess. Trying to condense seven years worth of story into an hour and a half is tedious at best. The story follows Caitlin Fairchild who is given a scholarship to attend a National Security Council school. School is a loose term. They train like soldiers. They study like Harvard medical students. Their social interactions are awkward. Caitlin meets Grunge, a surfer dude with horrible voice acting and Roxie, a shy mischief who is constantly looking for her next cigarette. There are shower scenes, near naked scenes, hell, even wearing clothes it looks as if breasts may tear through the fabric causing an animated nip slip.

When Caitlin discovers her parents were part of a secret organization, she finds herself the sleeping victim of a gene therapy in an attempt to make her “go gene active.” It’s only later when confronted by a fight or flight response, she grows and finds herself with superhuman strength. Her breasts literally tear themselves from her suit. Apparently the breasts earlier were foreshadowing. From here, the plot runs wild as we discover a man seeking to be their mentor and giving information bout Caitlin’s parents that seems oddly placed and useless to the plot. She frees herself and flees the facility only to turn around and run back in a final show down. We see Grunge use his material-synching abilities shortly thereafter but it’s Roxie who seems to have the “aha” moment despite being a throw away character.

At an hour and twenty minutes, it feels like the last thirty minutes are a story trying to wrap itself up. It doesn’t feel rushed, it feels like a hot mess on the television. If the dialogue wasn’t terrible, the motives are, and even the fights themselves seem out of nowhere. I wanted to like this film, a slice of my childhood, and maybe it would have worked when I was sixteen, but as an adult, it lacked coherence. Unfortunately, not even sexual innuendo could save this superhero animated film adaptation.


Things Better than BvS – DC Fan Films

K&K Productions wins the fan film award. I thought this was a cheeky (yes, I said cheeky) way to pay homage to the superheroes we all love and adore. The special FX are pretty spot on and hold up to the CW standard of superheroes. My only gripe, how long was he walking? He got through three hours of tv on a leisurely stroll? The soundtrack however, quickly makes up for any short comings!

The only fault in this Wonder Woman fan film is that I saw it after seeing an amazing performance by Gal Gadot. With that being said, I’m impressed with the level of special FX done by Rainfall Films and the stunning embodiment of Princess Diana. In just a few short minutes it tells a heroic tale, features her abilities, and presents the duality of the Amazon caught between Themyscira and the world of man. Amazing work on all fronts!


X-Men Fan Films Determined to Keep Hollywood on its Toes

I’ve been recharging my creative battery by consuming an uncanny amount of superhero pop culture. I went on a hunt for extreme geekery and what I found was a plethora of fan made films. People with as much love for the X-Men as myself have taken it upon themselves to bring the source material to life. Of the dozens I watched, these are the two most impressive.

CHRONICLES OF HOPE

The folks over at K&K Productions upped the bar quickly with their interpretation of the events post Messiah War. The petulant child and her cybernetic father-figure are on the lamb, dodging the time traveling traitor of the X-Men, Bishop. It’s not enough for a gun battle between Hope, Cable and the Purifiers, the amazing special FX of Nightcrawler rival that of X2. I hope they continue the series. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for more.


RAIN

Ororo Munroe is often considered a fan favorite. Being the secondary leader of the X-Men for years and later besting Scott Summers without her powers, she has proved that women have earned their spot in the limelight. But what could be better than a fan film featuring Storm, a Goddess of Nature? A punked out version of Storm who abandoned formality and gave into to her darker side. Where the big budget is lacking (and the fight scene a bit rough), the story is tight and the effects perpetuate one goal, to prove Storm is the badass of the X-Men.


What Happened to Monday? or Seven for the Price of One.

More often than not, I’m aware of great science fiction movies long before they reach streaming services. Netflix shoved this movie in my face multiple times and I finally bit. I bit and I didn’t stop biting until the closing credits.

In a short montage and little explanation we are transported into the not-too-distant future where the human population has reached critical mass and people are starving from the lack of food. To combat this, genetic crops are created and wheat is made plentiful, however the crops pass along their mass producing qualities and families surge with twins and triplets. Seeing a crisis in the making, the Child Allocation Bureau rises in power and operates without oversight. Limiting families to a single child, the remaining children are put into cryosleep until they are able to be brought back.

The story begins when a mother dies giving birth to septuplets.

Noomi Rapace (Girl with a Dragon Tattoo) astounds the audience with a phenomenal performance as not one, but seven distinct characters in this science-fiction mystery. Named by her/their father, played by William Dafoe for the days of the week, all of  Rapace’s characters are forced to live in a loft for their young lives. Only once he feels they are capable of working as a unit does he award them to opportunity to leave the loft, all seven sisters forced to become a single woman, Karen Settman. Bringing each of their distinct personalities to the role of Karen Settman, the sisters flourish beyond the walls of the loft, despite only connecting with the outside world once every seven days.

The mystery begins when Monday doesn’t come home from her stint as Settman. Tuesday must proceed to assume the mantle, unsure of the previous day’s activities. When Tuesday is detained by Cayman, head of the CAB, played by Glenn Close, it appears something is amiss as the politician knows of the sisters. With the secret out of the bag, the sisters must defend themselves while unraveling a mystery about the disappearance of Monday. Thrust into the middle of a conspiracy that could rip the government apart, they pool their resources in an effort to survive.

The logistics of their lives are filled in by flashbacks where Dafoe teaches them to work as a single unit. Requiring them to “debrief” each night explains how seven different people could so completely embody a single persona. Even moments when we see them testing makeup colors, matching blood shot eyes, and donning the “Settman wig” explain most of our questions. The saying, “What happens to one, happens to all,” is reflected here as Dafoe is often forced into the role of being a villain-esque father. It builds to explain that the sisters are different, but operate as one.

The movie has roots in the dystopian science fiction realm, but it remains fairly light on the actual science fiction. This keeps the movie grounded and provides us a vision into a possible future that has the potential to become a reality. Unaware of what the movie might hold, when the premise and dilemma is presented, a vast many questions arise. Who is Karen Settman? How do they each navigate a single persona despite their unique personalities? The writes foresaw these questions and made sure they would be answered in a way that let the script flow in a logical manner.

The shortcomings of the movie are few and far between. The idea that the existence of the seven sisters could be the downfall of a politician’s career, despite her reign of absolute power is a bit far fetched. However, we find ourselves along for the ride in this familiar alien world. While Rapace does an outstanding job acting against herself, at times conversing with six other versions of herself, the characters are cliches. A lesbian, a computer nerd, a vixen, a leader, an artist, a fighter are all archetypes we’ve seen before and with so many characters, its hard to introduce a diverse cast and give them depth beyond stereotypes. However, if we think of them as a whole, the sisters stole the show and left us wanting more. I was only taken out of the story by the lack of reaction to the violence on the screen. I expected more terror or horror at the atrocities being uncovered, but due to the fast paced nature of the movie, I’m not sure the characters were ever given the opportunity to grieve.

Out of left field, this movie left me stunned, wanting more, and impressed with how a single actor’s range could create such a movie. A mystery movie with sci-fi undertones and knee deep in a dystopian world, I felt myself sucked in, excited to see what would happen and who would persevere in such a harsh world. A must see.

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A Valiant Display in The Guardians

Russian superheroes, created in a secret lab are the last hope for humanity before an evil master mind takes over the world. The Guardians is a fast paced action movie that proves that Hollywood isn’t the only superhero makers in the world.I’ve been looking forward to this movie for well over a year now. Despite the horrific English subtitles I was able to acquire, it didn’t seem to hurt the eye candy. Nightwatch & Daywatch are two of my favorite movies and proves that Russians know how to tell a story and stretch a budget when making thought provoking movies. Even reading broken English, I found myself more than excited to delve into the superhero mythos of another country.

In a fast series of open credit montages, we discover that scientists of the Patriot project created super beings. While one geneticist seemed to create these powered beings, his cohort had other plans and in the wake of embarrassing failures, vanished. Of course he returns as our antagonist, a man able to control any electronic device (including some pretty bad ass arachnid style mechs.)

Mayor seeks out the super beings, she finds four. Arsus, with the ability to transform himself into a bear. Khan, a speedster and teleporter with deadly blades. Ler, a geokinetic (he moves rock with his mind.) And Kseniya a woman with the ability to go invisible when wet. None of them have aged in forty years since the experiment and they want to find the man who took part in making them. Motivation here is minimal, they simply “do” because they can. It’s glossy.

The fight sequences are spectacular. Khan’s ability to fight, teleport and use super speed are one of the most graceful fight scenes I’ve seen in a superhero movie. It manages to make the opening sequence in X2 with Nightcrawler look like amateur hour. We also have a beautiful scene with Kseniya in which we first discover her abilities. Blending art with her power, it makes for some beautiful effects. Arsus spends the majority of the movie in his half-man, half-bear form and while the effects don’t quite make the cut for him, I believe it at least makes the cut. It’s only when Ler uses his abilities that the rock becomes overly CGI and we see where the budget fell short. However, beyond any superhero movie up to this point, Ler find interesting ways to utilize his abilities beyond simply making rocks move. I do wonder though, if he can make rock move, why doesn’t concrete count? There are some superhero powered plot holes I want answered.

While I’m singing the praises up to this point, I do so with the an understanding that this budget is 1/36 of the Avengers and 1/41 of Batman v. Superman. Clocking in at just over 6,000,000 dollars, they never had a chance to reach blockbuster status. While the CGI is not up to snuff by modern-day standards, it doesn’t hurt the best action scenes. In fact, I think they got creative with how they filmed, making it overall better in many ways. Do you hear the “but” coming?

This movie suffers not from the lack of budget, but from the storytelling. Remember how I said Nightwatch is a superb film? This doesn’t even come close. While Nightwatch evokes a sense of dread, and the characters motivations are cryptic, we find every action they make believable. In Guardians however, I kept asking myself, is the female military lead really having a heart-to-heart with each of them before their big mission? Will they hug? Did a professor who started the experiments show up in the middle just to save a Guardian? Wait, is he also the bad guy? Or does he get a pass? And did the power of friendship save the day? What the hell happened to this plot? I want to remove the speaking. I want to ditch about 20 minutes of the plot, cause for the life of me, I can’t figure out what is happening, and the final fight scene? Yeah, I WOULD MAKE THAT A THING. Power of friendship my ass. And while we’re at it, the villain is boring and I’m okay with that, but he gets so much screen time, I would spend more time on his makeup/costume. He looked like a giant on steroids.

Overall? Russia has potential in the superhero market. But with their inability to match U.S. budgets (I mean, look at the demographics) they will have to rely on something other than effects. This means tightening the stories, focusing on the acting, and developing believable relationships between the cast. We know they can pull off special effects, now they need to get to the roots if they want to be contenders.

I can only imagine what would have been capable with a budget identical to the Avengers. How would I rate it? Even with its janky script, questionable motivations and at-times impossible to comprehend subtitles, it’s still better than Batman v. Superman.


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