QUEEN OF THE DAMNED (2002)

Directed By: Michael Rymer
Written By: Scott Abbott & Michael Petroni
Based on the Novels “THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES” Written By: Anne Rice Cinematography: Ian Baker
Editor: Dany Cooper

Cast: Aaliyah, Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moureau, Vincent Perez, Lena Olin, Paul McCann, Claudia Black, Bruce Spence, Matthew Newton, Christian Norton 

In this loose sequel to Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), the vampire Lestat becomes a rock star whose music wakes up the equally beautiful and monstrous queen of all vampires.


While the film is lackluster in certain aspects it does provide a sequel to INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and is a continuation of the vampire chronicles In The series of books by Anne Rice 

Though the fanfare for this film Seems to be In The legacy of singer and actress Aaliyah who plays the title role and who does before the film could be completed. As this was a great star-making role for her and at the time one of the few modern horror films. To have an African American in a prominent role. So that also helped bring more people of color to be fans of the film. As it at least had representation even if she is the villain in the end 

Narrative wise it is interesting that one of the scariest characters in the previous tale INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE was now the protagonist and more on the run from a more powerful vampire. Even as he has brought about her comeback. Due In part by his arrogance of becoming. A rock star despite vampires usually staying out of the limelight due to being immortal. 

The music isn’t very good and the film comes off as low budget trying to seem bigger and Stuart Townsend in the lead isn’t as charismatic as Tom Cruise who played the role first. He doesn’t even approach flamboyance. Though he does appear scared of the all too powerful vampire played by Aaliyah.

The way they incorporate her into the film is creative considering she wasn’t quite done filming all of her scenes. Though whenever her character seems to move the movements all seem to have a voice of chant. Which comes off as enchanting and freaky.

One of the few aspects that does work here is that it delves more into the history of the vampires and sets up a kind of mythology for them. 

The film is somewhat entertaining though ultimately a failure. Especially as at parts it tries to form a romance between Lestat and a human. That feels forced in this type of film. Especially when there is a mroe important matter at hand. 

In the end, even though the quality of the film feels like mroe a straight to video film for the times. The tragedy that happened catapulted the film into theaters and stands as a kind of living embodiment and dedication to the memory of queen Aaliyah.

Grade: D+

FANTASY ISLAND (2020)

Directed By: Jeff Wadlow
Written By Jeff Wadlow, Chris Roach & Jillian Jacobs 
Based on the television series “FANTASY ISLAND” Created By: Gene Levitt  Cinematography: Toby Oliver 
Editor: Sean Albertson

Cast: Michael Pena, Maggie Q, Lucy Hale, Portia Doubleday, Jimmy O. Yang, Ryan Hansen, Mike Vogel, Austin Stowell, Kim Coates, Michael Rooker, Robbie Jones, Parisa Fitz-Hanley, Ian Roberts

The enigmatic Mr. Roarke makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort. But when the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape with their lives.


don’t know exactly who the audience for this film is supposed to be. Though whoever it is I am sure wasn’t envisioning a horror film.

The film sticks to the horns of fantasy island whereas the guests get to live out their fantasies only with some kind of twists involved that they didn’t foresee. 

The film is rather simplistic but thinks It’s clever by having a big reveal. Only to take away any credit it might have built up which was little, to begin with. As it feels generic. 

This might have been noteworthy if made in an earlier era. Which it feels like it comes from more than the 1990s. Though now instead of high concept it feels like a horror script thrown into a familiar tv show, for recognition and comes off as disposable and barely noteworthy.

It’s a shame because the film has a good cast. At least it gives actors who are usually relegated to supporting roles some room to shine even if the film is an ensemble. 

Should have been suspicious when seeing Michael Pena in the lead as he is a good actor, but always seems tied to these disappointing cinematic reboots of more niche television shows, that you would never imagine becoming films. 

Though the premises of fantasies seem kind of simple and then once the twists come. They seem to come from shows and movies we have seen before. Especially the revenge fantasy involving the bully from childhood. Where all of a sudden a monstrous huge surgeon becomes a slasher. 

I can understand if it was just trying to be the greatest common denominator entertainment but here other than the lush visuals of the landscapes. The film just feels like it is going through the motions where once everything. Seems tied together still feels like a waste of time. 

As even the fantasies come across as cheap. For a film based on the supposed imaginations of its characters. The film seems to have no imagination of its own

In the end, it feels like a cash In Done quickly and doesn’t even Impress with its gold visuals or fantasies 

Grade: F

GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS (2019)

Directed By: Michael Dougherty
Written By: Michael Dougherty & Zach Shields
Story By: Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields & Max Borenstein
Cinematography: Lawrence Sher
Editor: Roger Barton, Bob Duscay & Richard Pearson

Cast: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Charles Dance, Ken Wantanabe, Ziyi Zhang, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Aisha Hinds, Thomas Middleditch, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Straitharn, CCH Pounder, Joe Morton, Anthony Ramos

The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.


The trailer made it look like a different type of film. Where it seemed like he formed a bond with Millie Bobby Brown’s character.

Now while this movie is cliche-ridden. It seems to have the mentality of if it ain’t broke why fix it and makes everything feel familiar. Especially since the film and title character is already well known. 

I can admit to not necessarily being a big fan of these films and have only seen a handful of them. Though I have seen the recent franchise of films. Plus it doesn’t help when also having seen the clones of this film. 

What is of interest is the casts of these films. Which are recognizable to get audiences interested or at least not make them so disposable and asks you to care about their peril more without having to write too much personal material for them. Here we get an international cast to interest and sell to foreign markets. 

The cast is here more for the human interest element and explains the mysterious monster nature that is like the animal kingdom. Which by now we watch and study, but sometimes as they are violent and excuse them. As it is in their nature. The same here with the monsters live amongst us and cause damage but when left alone. Just do what comes naturally.

With the grand casts, it feels like the modern equivalent of disaster movies from the 1969’s and ’70s. Where there is plenty of destruction to property. Mass deaths where you wonder who will live or die amongst the stars. While rooting for certain people to perish not because of the character they play.

The film feels like a battle ROYALE of matches for Godzilla to face off against. The greatest hits of enemies. Even though there is the main opponent. This again makes this feel like a wrestling card and how when you watch it. It feels like life and death only here the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Whereas in wrestling it’s the fate of the league wrestling world. This movie also allows them to set up sequels for other enemies for him to face.

Just as in wrestling she takes a major beating at first then comes through or at least goes full Hulk Hogan and adding the drama that is needed. There is even tag-teaming. As essentially this is a movie about a dinosaur fighting lizards and an alien.

The warm up fights seem to be a case of sending minions to weaken him. After the first battle. Where you know it can’t be over. As there are some after fight getting licks in to start a rivalry.

The film isn’t as visually interesting or stylish as the previous GODZILLA film. Though this one seems to have a love of blue filters. 

Again this is a better film to experience or watch on a big screen. As even for a popcorn movie this wants you to have more experience or interact with it. This is a film to have more fun with as it doesn’t move as fast and takes its time with the story but offers more of a science fiction element.

The film tries to be smart even with it’s more special effects, action-oriented scenes, and material. It’s a bit long and definitely bloated but stays entertaining 

As we wait for the build-up until the finale showdown, really the main event. Luckily the film never feels boring or bogged down even with a lot of exposition. Though luckily not THE MATRIX sequel’s level of exposition.

Will admit it feels strange like. G.I. JOE movie with this being Cobra’s newest plan and a joe’s family somehow involved and by the end must use their own monster Godzilla to battle the evil monsters that cobra has unleashed. 

Each new monster feels like a new toy or action figure and each presentation/Birth/Opening is an introduction of their nature and powers As well as strengths. They also provide mini practice bouts as Godzilla is like a gunslinger who shows up for fights and to save humans these monsters are the heels and he is a fan favorite trying to stop their reign or just trying to stop similar to his kind trespassing on his property and domain. So essentially like the animal kingdom marking his property. 

The monsters he faces seem like Pokémon. Collectible and have to Catch them all

Though Vera Farmiga’s character theory and plan don’t sound so crazy. Even if more a product of Stockholm syndrome to a degree. Just the means to go about it. Sort of like in AVENGERS: END GAME. Where it just seems a bit harsh. 

Her theory is right but the follow-through seems to become like a tournament for the title, with all the dramatic entrances. You have a doctor mind reader mad scientist type who is bent on a plan of world domination or would change the natural order of things. 

Many films have done less to affect the audience so you can appreciate the attentiveness and concern 

This is Kyle chandler’s second giant monster film. Interesting the sequel is GODZILLA Vs. KING KONG. He was in a remake of the later’s film. 

Grade: B-

BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY (1991)

Directed By: Peter Hewitt
Written By: Chris Matheson & Ed Soloman
Cinematography By: Oliver Wood
Editor: David Finfer

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, William Sadler, George Carlin, Joss Ackland, Pam Grier, Hal Landon Jr., Sarah Trigger, Jim Martin, Taj Mahal, Primus 

The world of our distant future is a veritable utopia, thanks to the lyrics of two simple-minded 20th Century rock and rollers, Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan. However, a would-be conquerer threatens to throw history off-track by sending “most non-non-heinous” evil robot Bill and Teds back to kill their good counterparts. Finding themselves dead, the boys must outwit the Grim Reaper and traverse Heaven and Hell to return to the land of the living, rescue their “babes” and have a “most triumphant” concert at the all-important Battle of the Bands


The original title was “Bill and Ted go to Hell” but was changed because of American objections to the use of the word “hell”.

Stephen Herek declined to return as director because he thought it was “almost a parody of a movie that was already a parody”.

This is a sequel not too many people saw coming as yes the first film was a hit, but this sequel while seeming a bit more forced. This seems to revel in the off the Wall motif of everything involved and seems giddy with the chances they have in where they can take the film. As this film is much more wild and experimental and bigger budgeted.

When it comes to this film while there is much more to love and it is more accomplished. I prefer the original for it’s newness factor. Here we are used to these characters and while the film offers a noticeably different story. It still doesn’t feel quite as fresh as the original. Though this one is stranger. It’s not a bad film just different In its own way

definitely can say that this film seems to benefit from a better budget. As the art direction is a lot more sharp and pleasing to the eye. Making the film seem more surreal overall. As the visuals stay with you.

While this film is futuristic it is also definitely a film of its time. Which is where the film’s weakness lies. This is a film where you can tell everyone had a lot of fun making. As all the actors are inspired even the leads seem more gung ho in their roles as maybe they understand the characters more.

As the leads get to play multiple versions of themselves and seem to have their characters more on a directional path. Whereas in the first film they were teenagers who got a glimpse of the future. They still had the time and plenty of room until then. Here we see them trying to get there and the otherworldly obstacles in their way.

This film has less of a necessary story than the first film which just seemed like an odd quirky high concept comedy. Here the film seems more inspired by the characters than the plot. As this film Plays more like a comedic nightmare for the characters. Though you can’t debt that the film is more vibrant if slightly more off-center. As the film beers more into star Alex winter’s early short films and show on MTV, IDIOT BOX. As well as his feature film directorial debut FREAKED, in it’s strange and surreal humor. Where scenes seem partially like sketches that tie into the overall story. Especially in the hell sequences 

William Sadler as death (his death character seemingly more inspired by Max Von Sydow in THE SEVENTH SEAL) steals the film with so much gusto and comedic highlights. That it is another performance that should have made him more in demand and lead to either more lead by roles or character actor roles. At least more comedic ones.

In this film, there is very little time travel. This is a relief as it leaves the film Not relying upon or rehashing the first film’s main focus. Making this sequel seeming fresher.

This film though does feel more creative. As it takes more chances and seems a lot more fun. It’s like a funhouse version of the first film. Whereas this film shows it’s inspirations and seems more aimed at off the wall humor. Focused on its core younger audience. This film also introduced an actual villain for the two characters to face. Even though Joss Ackland claims he only too the role because he lost a bet.

These films always feel like a precursor or an inspiration to the WAYNE’S WORLD skit and movies. Which just like this film had a more surreal and overstuffed sequel. as well as BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD was only more likable.

The film has an ending song that at the time felt iconic but listening to it now feels more melodramatic and embarrassing from the band KISS.

Grade: B-

HELLBOY (2019)

Directed By: Neil Marshall
Written by: Andrew Cosby 
Based on the dark horse comic book “HELLBOY” created by: Mike Mignola
Cinematography: Lorenzo Senatore
Editor: Martin Bernfield

Cast: David Harbour, Sasha Lane, Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim, Ian McShane, Sophie Okonedo, Kristina Klebe, Thomas Haden Church

Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.


This feels like a dumbed-down version of the story. Though might be more In tune with the original comics.

I am not a fan of the first original HELLBOY movie but can say it was more artistic and beautiful then this film. Even if at the time it played as typical as far as the story went. HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY was better nearly a masterpiece in my eyes.

I at least respected it as it felt lacking a strong villain and instead offered an introduction of characters. 

One of the nice things I can say about this film Is at least it’s Violent and it feels more epic than the original that might end because it actually has more Locations then the original. It also jams in so many creatures that it feels stuffed and cross-referenced many times. Though at least while the Guillermo Del toro version of the first film was more mystical and beautiful even if it lacked a compelling story. This one is more Action oriented and full of story and mythology.

Like many would have preferred a sequel with the original filmmakers but the studio decided to try to modernize it instead and reboot it. Unfortunately with the departure of Ron Perlman in the title role and the director/writer Guillermo Del Toro this comes Off as a desperate copy that is never sharp.

Ron Perlman’s portrayal of the title character felt more lived-in and impressive. David Harbour’s performance seems more laid back.

The reason I eventually watched this was to see Sasha Lane’s interpretation of Alice. She adds to the culture and atmosphere of the film

The film definitely feels otherworldly and is best to watch on a big screen.

This film makes you appreciate the original and it’s more practical special effects. As this is CGI overload that does feel more like a comic book. Though without the texture and depth. So that this comes off more commercial.

Director Neil Marshall supposedly had a hard time making the film and the producers took it over after his initial cut. You can tell as the story gets short-sighted for more Action and effects. Leading to it at times being hard to follow or distracted itself.

The film has a strong mystical fantasy story with a bunch of exposition. That makes it feel overstuffed and too long with stretches of little to no excitement.

The performances throughout are spotty. Considering all the people involved in this movie expected it to be a bit better.

I enjoy Milla jovovich as an actress but with her casting, this feels more like another disposable special effect fantasy horror film

She usually appears in and frankly not as inventive. Though she gives one of the better performances. 

This film already had an audience against it as the original al is so memorable and iconic and this reboot coming so soon that it feels like a dumbe down version and even when it was released

it wasn’t heavily advertised as much as movies like this usually are more In theater advertisements then public ones. I didn’t even know it’s Release date until the week before it actually came out 

Though based on original material this feels like an amalgam Of many fantasy tales and movies out there though al the action, special effects, and horror. It still manages to be boring.

It feels like an animated film come to life or amusement park inspired meant to impress a younger audience. But too harsh for them. 

Grade: C-

STARDUST (2007)

Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman
Based on the Novel By: Neil Gaiman
Cinematography By: Ben Davis
Editor: Jon Harris

Cast: Ben Barnes, Robert Deniro, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Henry Cavill, Mark Strong, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole, Ian McKellan, Ricky Gervais

In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he’ll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm.


For the grand adventure that the film is. It lacks an epic feel or grandiose locations and sights. Half the time it feels like the surroundings are sets. The film does end up better then you’d imagine though.

The lead Ben Barnes seems to be miscast. He feels weak and in effect unbelievably when he eventually becomes heroic. Especially when all the supporting characters are much richer and entertaining than the lead. Who lacks charisma and never comes close to being dashing. Though they try to make him so. Maybe that was the intention to go against type but it ends up not working at all.

What I really appreciate about the film is it’s macabre sense of humor and a mean streak to go with all this fantasy. While keeping the film fu adds a general sense of danger rather than films like THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Which while funny feels almost childlike and storybook clean. Whereas this film is a storybook and fantasy fairytale but with a bit of an edge. so that the film plays more for teens and adults.

Words like cute and fun come to mind while watching the film. Though it’s not what I would expect a director like Matthew Vaughn to make especially after his debut film LAYER CAKE a gangster film. He went to make this a full-fledged fantasy adaptation which is a wise choice showing he has range. In his talents though so far all of his films are adaptations. He is showing a diverse resume as he hasn’t made a truly bad film yet. So he has shown his talent which I would expect as a former producer of Guy Ritchie films.

The film is a fun little fantasy that you can get lost into the universe of and enjoy yourself. Which is rare these days. At least without it seeming processed and set up to sell toys.

It’s better than I personally thought it would be. The world they live in is never clearly defined. We never get to know the characters some of whom just seem like ideas more than developed characters integral to the story, Almost like distractions to pad out the story and have us not realize how thin the main story is but letting us get caught up in the situations, though the film is quite likable. The film stays within the fantasy limits but also tries to come off as smarter or more winking to the audience then most films of it’s type.

Though disappointingly another fantasy world that lacks minorities. It’s not a huge point but one I’d like to note probably not entirely the filmmaker’s fault but more could try. Minorities are underrepresented or not represented in most Fantasy Sci-Fi leaving you to wonder are they afterthoughts or in these so-called fantasy worlds are they Aryan wonderlands. Sorry to go off on a rant just a point that needed to be expressed.

Terry Gilliam Also almost directed the film which is a perfect example of the right director with the right material, but after directing THE BROTHERS GRIMM he was wiped out creatively. This would have been actually better for him to make.

GRADE: B

PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (2017)

pirates

 

Directed By: Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg
Written By: Jeff Nathanson
Story By: Jeff Nathanson & Terry Rossio
Based on Characters Created By: Terry Rossio, Ted Elliott, Stuart Beattie & Jay Wolpert Cinematography By: Paul Cameron
Editing By: Roger Barton & Leigh Folsom Boyd 


Cast: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Branton Thwaites, Javier Bardem, Kaya Scodelario, Stephen Graham, Goldshifteh Farahani, Kevin McNally, David Wenham, Martin Kleeba, Angus Barnett 

Captain Jack Sparrow finds the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea…including him. Captain Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that bestows upon its possessor total control over the seas.

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SHAZAM! (2019)

shazam-slice-600x200

Directed By: Daryl F. Sandberg
Written By: Henry Gayden
Story By: Darren Lemke & Henry Gayden
Based On Characters Created By: Bill Parker & C.C. Beck
Cinematography: Maxime Alexandre
Editor: Michel Aller 


Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, John Glover, Djimon Hounsou, Jack Dylan Grazer, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Michelle Borth, Megan Good, Adam Brody, D.J. Cotrona, Ross Butler, Cooper Andrews, Marta Milans 


In Philadelphia, Billy Batson is an abandoned child who is proving a nuisance to Child Services and the authorities with his stubborn search for his lost mother. However, in his latest foster home, Billy makes a new friend, Freddy, and finds himself selected by the Wizard Shazam to be his new champion. Now endowed with the ability to instantly become an adult superhero by speaking the wizard’s name, Billy gleefully explores his new powers with Freddy. However, Billy soon learns that he has a deadly enemy, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, who was previously rejected by the wizard and has accepted the power of the Seven Deadly Sins instead. Now pursued by this mad scientist for his own power as well, Billy must face up to the responsibilities of his calling while learning the power of a special magic with his true family that Sivana can never understand.

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BRIGHTBURN (2019)

Brightburn

Directed By: David Yarovesky
Written By: James Gunn & Brian Gunn
Cinematography: Michael Dellatorre
Editor: Andrew S. Eisen & Peter Gvozdas 


Cast: Jackson A. Dunn, Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Meredith Hagner, Matt Jones, Becky Wahlstrom Steve Agee, Emmie Hunter 


What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister? This film seems to be more about the origin of a supevillian by a kind of reverse morals of Superman. That entices the audience and could have been really strong and powerful, but instead goes more as a fantasy horror film.

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