Archive for jason momoa

‘Once Upon a Time In Venice’: No More Naked Skateboarding, please

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2017 by aliciamovie

onceuponatimevenice

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Mark Cullen

Studio: Voltage Pictures

Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Through a series of bizarre circumstances and roundabout confrontations, down but never out former detective turned private investigator Steve Ford gets his beloved dog stolen by Venice’s toughest gang!

It’s like the movie tried to capture the magic of ‘Go’ or ‘Snatch’ or even ‘The Big Hit’ (don’t judge, I enjoyed that last one), with the convoluted circular storylines, but in the rather relaxed setting of Venice Beach, California.

The character of Steve Ford, played by Bruce Willis as he is, seems rather unlikely to me. The man is past 60, and yet playing a character who has playful sex with women considerably younger than him (who also happen to have severely protective Samoan brothers), skateboards down deserted roads in all his naked glory (you can assume that was a stunt double), and can still badass throw down with the worst of them if need be, which he does when confronting Jason Momoa’s gang leader character Spider to get his niece’s dog back. John (Thomas Middleditch) is Steve’s assistant and the film is mostly narrated by him as we get introduced to the various sundry characters Steve’s about to have to deal with. And don’t forget Dave (John Goodman), Steve’s recently divorced and rather suicidal best friend, who needs something to get his mind off his pathetic excuse for a life and of course offers to help Steve with his own troubles. Steve loves his niece and she loves her dog Buddy, which means when the dog gets stolen to get back at Steve, the hang-loose godfather of the Venice neighborhood needs to get the poochie back by any means necessary!

Steve understands that making deals with drug lords, loan sharks, pissed-off Samoan brothers and other unsavory characters isn’t a good idea, but hey, Buddy’s in trouble and time’s running out. There has to be a way to settle his debts with every single last one of these shady nutjobs and get Buddy back safe and sound, preferably without another naked nighttime jaunt on a skateboard. (I guess it wouldn’t be quite the Venice Beach style to have Uncle Steve riding his naked glory getaway on a Harley.) Unlike many of Willis’ other characters, Steve tries hard to leave the violence as a last resort, though he can certainly kick your weak ass, if need be.

So without giving anything away, Uncle Steve does manage to wrap things up more or less nicely near the end, with a minimal amount of fuss and muss. There are even a few clever boots moments, though for the most part they are entirely predictable and therefore one-shot-ed at best. The movie is a perfectly fine way to waste an afternoon, but it will never live up to action standards like the Die Hard series.

Netflix presents ‘Frontier’: The fur trade really is murder

Posted in Action, drama, Foreign, Historical, Romance, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

A quick recap of time and location: when we are seems to be approximately the late 1700’s, and where seems to jump around, but focus mostly on Fort James in Canada. The Fort is the main route for the massive fur trade going on ‘round these parts, and that trade is the focus of our story. In this time period especially, the fur trade is the biggest moneymaker of the Hudson’s Bay Company, an English conglomerate that basically holds a monopoly on the fur trade, at least at the moment. This is where our story begins, with anyone and everyone trying to break the HBC’s hold on the fur trade here in Canada.

Known outlaw Declan Harp, the half-Irish half-Indian rogue that is so growlingly played by Jason Momoa, is right in the middle of all this mummery. When he was orphaned young, the current ruler of Fort James, Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong), took him in and trained him to be a soldier. Apparently at some point Declan decided to go feeling his oats and got himself a little native wife and child, which didn’t sit well with Lord Benton. That’s hook one for Declan Harp. Hook two involves his knowledge and interaction with several of the other fur traders vying for business about and around the Fort, such as the Brown brothers, the Carruthers widow, and the HBC to contend with. Periphery friendship with Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle), who runs the tavern in the Fort, keeps him abreast of gossip, and reminds of old romance time spent with her. And then finally the one major thing Declan has going, that no-one else can match and thus makes him a very desirable target, is Harp’s good relationship with the Cree Indians, who are the literal bones of the entire fur trade operation.

Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit) is the main knee-breaker under Lord Benton at the Fort, and while he seems to like the idea Grace Emberly comes up with, to oust Benton and make Chesterfield governor, he occasionally erupts into unexpected violence that carries often disastrous consequences. But that’s nothing compared to Lord Benton himself, who dresses like a gentleman but has the heart and tongue of a viper. He calmly orders, and occasionally carries out himself, beatings and good old fashioned executions, too. Lord Benton, more than just about anything, wants Declan Harp found and brought back to him, alive. Basically so Benton can do the torturing honors himself, which, yes, he does, when Harp is finally brought in.

Elsewhere, the fur traders are all clashing with each-other, jockeying for position and hunting Declan Harp. The Brown brothers especially seem inclined towards utter stupidity, and nearly every move they make, from kidnapping to alliances, is just another screwup that ends in yet more death. The Carruthers widow, Elizabeth (Katie McGrath), shows up and tries to do some wheeling and dealing of her own after the death of her husband, but sadly her character seems rather unlikely for the time and atmosphere the show is trying to emulate. Grace Emberly as the plotting tavern-owner is a much more believable role. Irish thief Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron), through a series of misadventures in London, gets himself and his little girlfriend Clenna Dolan (Lyla Porter-Follows) arrested and deported, all the way to Lord Benton at the Fort. Benton decides to try and send Smyth out as a hunting dog to flush the pheasant Harp, banking on their supposed Irish blood connection. Harp himself is out with the Lake Walker Nation, the Cree Indians who actually keep the fur trade going, trying to keep the peace between the supposed savages and their far-more-savage European counterparts, this giant snarling half-breed irony surrounded by enemies, allies, and far too many unsafe loved ones.

So how does the show stack up? Frontier Season One is pretty darned short, coming in at only six episodes. However, the show was renewed for a Season Two before the actual premiere on Netflix, so that’s something. Filmed actually in Canada to lend as much realism as possible, the show boasts a very fine cast, lovingly sewn absolutely gorgeous fur coats and costumes, and a story that very rarely slows down from its rather breathless pace. Not overly complicated but certainly not condescending either, the story is easy to comprehend and quick to become sheer fun (with the possible exception of the end of the torture scene). It’s always great to see Jason Momoa run around and throw sharp weapons and growl at people, which he seems to do no matter role he’s in, so that’s cool.

Make your own foray into the fur trade with Frontier, on Netflix now!

‘Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice’: Yer killin me, Bats

Posted in Action, comedy, Comics, drama, Fantasy, Movies, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2016 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Director: Zack Snyder

Studio: Warner Bros.

MPAA Rating: PG 13

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

I actually liked this version of Batman, but very quickly came to think of him as the Bond kind of Batman. Full of toys and technology, bitter from past failures, effortlessly charming while never actually revealing anything, Ben Affleck somehow manages to bring to mind Daniel Craig’s current run of 007, and that is kind of bewildering. Jeremy Irons as Alfred immediately somehow becomes all the powerful supporting characters of Bonds life, from Moneypenny to M, chiding Batman as he does for his cruelty and yet offering unstinting support in all Batman does. We are offered a morsel of why Bats is this way when he stares at a dark suit in the Batcave a-plastered with Jokersign in sorrow and rage, and even those of us semi-in the know of the DC-verse can tell you, it’s alluding to the death of a Bat companion, most likely one of the Robins.

We learn all of this about Bats piecemeal, but what is immediately established at the outset is that Bats is hurting bad guys. And there are more than a few allusions to him outright killing people, when the situation demanded it. We are supposed to have established by now as just part of the Batman mystique, that Batman never kills, right? Period, end of story. Only now, he might be. But why? We the audience are never actually given an answer, and Bats deserved more.

I know Henry Cavil can act, I’ve seen him do it in The Tudors. You’ll note I don’t say Man of Steel because, while yes I did see it, I didn’t think it was particularly his finest work. A good deal throughout Man of Steel Cavill seemed to have this look of mild confusion, like he couldn’t understand why Superman was acting this way, either. And here he is again, as Superman, biting his lip and frowning the Superbrow but saying nothing as he’s accused and belittled and occasionally even reviled. We don’t expect you to go all Zod-killer on everything, Supes, but you could at least, I dunno, defend yourself.

The whole thing that Superman really needs to defend himself from, that controversy over what happened with Lois Lane, is just a horror-show. And really, Lane herself walks around the entire movie in a kind of dumb-show numbness, gamely doing her best to act as a character that’s been reduced from a woman strong enough to be Supes’ lady, to a whining damsel forever in distress and in eternal need of saving. Lois Lane, the woman that has been associated with Superman the longest, is now a vehicle for what plot there is to move along. Who needs backstory when there’s things to smash?

And then there’s Wonder Woman. Annnnd the other Leaguers. Let’s just cram as much backstory bites as we can into this movie so we can get to the hour of action, yee-ha! Gal Gadot as Diana Prince was perfectly serviceable for the screen time she got, which wasn’t much. I get that the movie is supposed to be a vehicle to the next Justice League DC movies coming out hopefully soonish, but to tack an icon like Wonder Woman onto this already bulging sandwich sub seems really optimistic. Prince has a teeny exchange with Bruce Wayne, is herself used as a vehicle to introduce the videos of the other Justice League potentials, and that is it before she dons those iconic duds and its off to fight Darkseid!

Is it really? Because, it seems to me, that the films actual big-bad is a big let down. The…crazy-Luthor-made from my blood and Zod’s body and something about a Kryptonian ship and a forbidden sort-of-science process turns out this CGI monstrosity that must’ve been a real bitch to fake fight against a green screen. Our actors valiantly battle on and look pretty good doing it, I have to give them that, Snyder can make the shit out of an action scene, oh yes. But he failed us at making any kind of scary villain for his opus movie.

And what about the Leaguers? This is another instance of trying to include way too much stuff into one movie. Dark Knight Rises suffered mildly from that too, but the BvS version is just a big ole hot mess. We see a robbery foiled by a speedster with that gold lightning bolt and we know, the Flash will be there in the next movie for sure. There’s already some minor controversy over the fact that Ezra Miller and not Grant Gustin will play Flash in the next movie, but that’s only if you watch tv at all. (I’m undecided as yet; I saw Miller do an astounding job in We Need to Talk About Kevin, but based on that, his version of Barry Allen will be quite different.) Next we have Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and his video moment was enough to elicit gasps, but all we got was a moment. And hey look, Ray Fisher as Cyborg is being tortured, I mean, helped, by his father Silas Stone. Each of these moments is our very brief introduction to the updated versions of the Justice League, an icon of DC comics that’s existed for decades. Boy that’s a lot of pressure. But Snyder is full steam ahead to get to the punching and the throwing of people around!

We’ve come round to Lex Luthor. And I have to agree with the general consensus: what the hell was that? I’ve actually liked some of Jesse Eisenberg’s roles, he does awkward-charming fairly well. Him as Snyder’s version of Lex Luthor was neither awkward nor charming, nor even coherent half the time. Luthor seems to a warped mirror face of the Luthor we normally know, mad with power and determined to stop at nothing to stop Superman. This Lex laughs at the most inappropriate things, rants like he’s a mini-Caesar, has genuine nervous tics and could be Norman Bates’ cousin. Lex Luthors known powerful voice and his ability to deliver the epic speech as Supermans ultimate nemesis is in evidence nowhere in here, and that is a shame. Even his determination and reasons for sending Darkseid against both Superman and Batman are at best muddy, at worst incomprehensible. We all know Lex Luthors Superman obsession drives him to do all sorts of crazy things, but we’re talking Legion of Doom kind of evil, not John Gacy with an alien fetish. Bond-Bats needs his Oberhauser and Nine Eyes, after all.

And yes, we will address the elephant in the room called, “Martha.” Now, while it never occurred to me until right then when the movie pointed it out, that the two orphans shared a love for a momma whose name was Martha, it can’t possibly be enough to halt the fighting right in its tracks like someone had flipped a switch. I call shenanigans. I mean, sure, Supes and Bats can stare at each-other a bit and perhaps have an actual conversation as they stagger to their feet, but this cannot instantly make them on the same side. We are denied what could finally be a beautifully written piece of drama between Batman and Superman, and it’s yet another shame.

Director Zack Snyder is a total fanboy and wants to do justice to the storylines at DC that he grew up loving, we can all totally get behind that. The trouble is he loves it all so much, he wants to try and include every last bit he can get away with, including an exclusive to DVD R-rating directors cut nonsense. Which will likely bring the whole movie, Snyder’s ultimate vision of it anyway, up to three solid hours of stuffing every single last sock he can find into the washing machine and hitting psycho-spin-cycle!

See, we here at the superhero-watching geek community have become mildly jaded on the whole superhero action movie deal. Marvel blockbusters don’t thrill quite as much as they used to, and Nolan’s Batman only proved how far and how dark beloved familiar characters can go. We’d be perfectly fine with a properly marketed hour and a half or so of nothing but Bats and Supes wailing on each-other, have at it! These pinches and dashes of plot from fanboy Snyder are trying to turn the action stew into a full-on film casserole, and a lot of us just don’t have the patience for pretentiousness anymore. And, it should be noted, you’ve set the bar really fucking high for the Justice League movie. Like, almost impossibly high.

The internet says Ben Affleck will be returning to direct and star in the next, I assume it is, standalone Batman film. Which I’m actually totally okay with, because if you remove all the external noise and fluff from around Bats in BvS, Batfleck is actually pretty hot. Just make sure you keep Jeremy Irons as Alfred on, damn it.

Next up in the DC movie-verse is Suicide Squad, and I think most fans are looking forward to it. After this  terrible version of a bad guy, we deserve to be treated to a whole squad of unapologetic real villains. And don’t get me wrong, there are some redeeming things to BvS, sure there are. Our collective expectations for a vehicle epic enough to open the door for the Justice League movies may have been a shade unrealistic, but no-one can deny that Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice is a bombastic movie that nearly any fan can at least enjoy parts of!