I recently watched the BBC One/Netflix Dracula series/movie. Lots of slashes there, but why? Because, it’s my understanding that the BBC One made the thing and Netflix bought the rights. And while it is set up as a series, it’s only 3 episodes long and the total runtime with credits and recaps and titles and what-not is, probably, about four-and-a-half hours, basically, a long movie. You may have gathered from my previous post, that at the two-thirds mark, I was a bit disappointed with the product as presented. Then it got bad.

It’s hard to do Dracula and do something that hasn’t been done before. My research, which is not extensive in any way, shows that there have been more than 62 Dracula films and that the character of Dracula has appeared in something like 200 films. Now, you throw in novels, TV shows, comic books, and games into the mix and you’ve got a character who is pretty well known and fairly extensively defined. I cannot imagine that anyone reading this is completely clueless about Dracula, but I am willing to bet most haven’t read the original novel. One thing that you could do to make your film stand out would be to make the most faithful screen adaption of the novel. That’s what I was hoping for. That’s not the route that was taken.

No. We were given yet another reimagining of this classic. Of which there are already very, very many. I realized this pretty quickly and made an attempt to quash my disappointment and take it for what it was, another reworked take on Dracula and the rest of the cast. A little gender swapping. A little character melding. A lot of blood and gore. Plenty of flies. Oh, and way too many scenes of people popping their fingernails off. So gross.

I don’t want to spoil this for anyone who might watch it, so I’m not going to go into detail. But let’s start with the good.

  • Sister Agatha is great. Dolly Wells does a wonderful job of bringing this character to film. I would watch a series based on this character. Dolly Wells also plays Zoe, but she’s not as spectacular.
  • Claes Bang does a good Dracula. My problems are with the story, not with the actor or the character.
  • Special effects are good.
  • Production values are good.

The bad stuff is hard to go into without giving away parts of the plot, but suffice it to say that the biggest issue I have is how far off from the source material it veers. I really wanted the definitive BBC production of Dracula. So without spoiling anything… all the other characters are forgettable, the gore was a bit excessive for my tastes, and the ending is crap.

My quick survey of the internet seems to say that the 1977 BBC version with Louis Jourdan is the most faithful screen adaptation of the book. I’ve never seen it, but I may have to seek it out and give it a watch. There are also a lot of advocates for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 Dracula being closest to the novel. I did see that one, in the theater none-the-less, and while I enjoyed it, I remember that it took more than a few liberties with the book. Most of which seemed to revolve around Winona Ryder in my memory. Whatever the case, there is not much consensus and I am not going to sit through 60+ movies to figure out which is the closest. I’m sure there is a whole other list of “best” Dracula movies.

All I know is, I was disappointed in this particular version of Dracula and the ending is garbage. Really, the whole third episode was crap. That’s my two cents worth. Later.

“The thing you don’t realize about “adulting” is just how constant it is. There is always something that needs to be done and so very many things that only you can address. Basically, “relaxing” is just short-hand for, I’m ignoring the half-a-million things I should be doing.”

–Ronn McCarrick

Did I mention that I watched The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot? If you haven’t seen it, the title kinda tells you what it’s about. Sam Elliot is the man in question and he’s good, but then he’s always good. You can get it on Hoopla. It worked for me in the same way that Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino did, only with Hitler and bigfoot. As a schlocky B-movie, probably, it’s not working quite so well.

I’m not sure that it’s really a four star movie, but it’s closer to four than three. So, four it is. It’s not a comedy, so don’t go in expecting to get the giggles. Really, it’s more of a character study. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was disappointed with their bigfoot. Budget?

Rotten Tomatoes sums it up pretty well, the movie follows the epic adventures of an American legend that no one has ever heard of. Since WWII, Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott) has lived with the secret that he was responsible for the assassination of Adolf Hitler. Now, decades later, the US government has called on him again for a new top-secret mission. Bigfoot has been living deep in the Canadian wilderness and is carrying a deadly plague that is now threatening to spread to the general population. Relying on the same skills that he honed during the war, Calvin must set out to save the free world yet again.

I liked it. This is probably because I had no expectations of it.

Last nights guitar lesson added 8th notes to my repertoire of quarter and half notes. I’m struggling a bit with timing, finger placement, and strumming the right string, but it hasn’t even been a month yet. Still haven’t officially moved into chords, but I was playing around with a few this weekend… not with any success. I really need to get up onto the tips of my fingers more and stay off the meaty bits.

I’ve been agonizing and worrying over the Home page of this site. Which is dumb, given how little traffic it sees. But it’s what I do. The gist is that I’m not happy with it, it doesn’t compell interest, it doesn’t tell visitors what they’re getting, and all those things are issues because even after 13-years I still don’t know what I’m doing with this website. I need to stop worrying and just let it be, but what fun would that be. Any suggestions? I’m open to your thoughts on the matter. Hell, I’m open to hearing what you think this site is about.

I finished season one of Netflix’s The Witcher and I’m quite satisfied with what they’ve put together here. I’m not a huge Witcher fan. I didn’t get very far in the Witcher 3 game, because I did not like the presentation of Geralt. He was a dick. Which meant that I was playing a dick. I didn’t enjoy being a dick. However, I’d been hearing lots of good stuff about the Witcher books by Adrezej Sapkowski and so I took a chance on them and found the first couple to be quite good. I haven’t finished the series, so I can’t say if they’re all good. But I did read The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, which are both short story collections, and the source of this first season of The Witcher TV series.

I’m not going to give anything away, so no need to worry about spoilers from me, but I am going to tell you what I think of the show.
The first thing you should know, and a thing that is never explained, the stories in the series are not being shown to you in chronological order. The timeline is all over the place. Which is, not coincidentally, I think, how the stories appear in the first two books. Both Witchers and Sorcerers have extended lifespans and don’t change much, so it can be confusing knowing where you are in the timeline. It’s not that big a deal. But there are articles online that will put things in chronological order for you if you need that. Season two is supposed to be less confusing.

The stories from the books have been changed for the TV show and the backstories have been tweaked and expanded on, but overall, I found the changes to be in keeping with the existing mythos. While I don’t think all of the changes were necessary, I also didn’t find them to be particularly detrimental. I won’t expand on that, because spoilers. There were already differences between the books and the game, so some changes between the books and the TV show are not that big a deal. Overall, I feel like the series is true to the spirit of the source material and does a pretty good job of presenting it to us.

They’ve gone with Jaskier (from the Polish novels) for the name of the bard, rather than Dandelion. Which is probably the better choice. Dandelion is not a good name. I’m not sure why they changed that in the English translations of the books. Sometimes you can be too literal in the conversion.

I’ve mentioned before that some of the costuming feels too “TV fantasy”, lots of black leather, leather pants, leather armor, you get the idea, it’s the same in all of these things. Apparently, nobody enjoyed color and everybody loved leather. Really, it’s just our titular Witcher who has wardrobe issues. Possibly because he’s fucking huge and they were having problems finding good costumes that fit him.

Henry Cavill is jacked. I’m pretty sure he’s bigger now than he was when he was playing Superman. The man’s arms are as big as watermelons. The hair… well, it looks better in some scenes than it does in others.

Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg is good, but her transformation isn’t quite as dramatic as it’s played up to be and she seems too young, even given her magically enhanced beauty and lifespan. The purple eyes are a nice touch.

We get to see elves and dwarves and dryads, along with some monsters. All of these things are not badly done, but the other races are all just people. I don’t feel like they did enough to distinguish them physically from humans. But for all I know, in this world there may be less difference between humans and elves than there is between Poodles and Pomeranians. It’s not a deal breaker. The monsters are well done. Magic is part of the world and is integrated nicely.

It took me about three episodes to get into the swing of what they were doing, but by the time I reached the end of the season I was invested in their story. I’m looking forward to seeing more. I’d love to think that they’ll keep going long enough to make it through the entire storyline of The Witcher saga, but that’d probably take 6 or 8 seasons to do right and I’m not sure we’ll get that much. But I am looking forward to what comes next and where they’re going to go with it. Check out The Witcher on Netflix, it’s only 8-episodes long and it’s pretty good. I’m not the only one who thinks so, it has a 8.5 out of 10 rating on IMDb and a 93% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ll watch a second season. How about you?

Hey, I watched some movies and I want to tell you about them. None of these three movies made me happy that I watched them. Logan came closest, but that was more from a sense of being in the loop with regard to superhero movies and the end of an era. I think I would have enjoyed finishing up Penny Dreadful on Netflix more than I enjoyed any of these films.


LOGAN

In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
First off, let me say that I have seen the first three x-men movies and that Wolverine origin movie, I missed the rest of them, and didn’t even realize there was a The Wolverine movie until I started this post. I was never a fan of Wolverine the character, or of the Jackman casting for Wolverine, but he’s done a good job and the fans seem to like him. So my initial reaction to this movie is; Alright, he’s old now, but what’s the big deal. After watching the movie my opinion is more like; eh, it was alright. It was a good send off for Jackman and Stewart. Probably we shouldn’t make any more movies about geriatric super heroes.
Logan is one of the few remaining mutants, and despite being the best at what he does, even though that isn’t very nice, he’s given it all up to drive for uber and be a nurse to Professor X. Oh, and he is married to some albino guy who is never explained and who I have no idea who he is or what he’s supposed to be. Then this kid and her mom show up and ask for a ride to the secret mutant sanctuary. Grumpy Logan says no, because he’s grumpy. Then the guys with prosthetic hands show up and start trying to kill everybody… seriously there are like 20 guys who are each missing a hand and have these stupid looking bionic arms. No explanation, just like here, check this out. Bionics. Pretty sweet, huh. I wasn’t impressed. Everybody that survives hops into the limo and they go on a road trip. They bring in the clones. Some more people die. They go to a cabin in the woods. Big epic super showdown. The bad guys die. The good guys die. The kid walks off to Canada to watch hockey and eat pancakes.
It was probably more emotional than that for most, but I guess I’m not most. It was a good movie, but not one I cared about or was impressed with. I was left thinking, what’s the big deal about this? Is it because Jackman is leaving the role? That must be it. How come nobody seems to make a big deal about Stewart being done?  Oh well, I saw it. I’m sure I’ll forget it was a thing soon enough. I’m going to give this movie one extra star, because I also watched Valerian and I don’t want to give that one two stars, and because these two movies shouldn’t get the same rating.


THE EMOJI MOVIE

Take an adventure in the secret world inside your smartphone to Textopolis, a bustling city where all your favorite emojis live. In this world, each emoji has only one facial expression – except for Gene (T.J. Miller), who is bursting with multiple expressions. Determined to become “normal”, Gene enlists the help of his handy best friend Hi-5 (James Corden) and the notorious code breaker emoji Jailbreak (Anna Faris). Together, these unlikely heroes embark on an epic “app-venture” through the apps on the phone, each its own wild and fun world, to find the code that will fix Gene!
Wholly fuck, this movie is dumb. Who decided this should be a thing.
I put this on as a fluke, just to check it out while I was waiting for Lady Ronn, somehow it played through to the end. Is it the worst movie of all time? No. Is it a stupid idea with the sole intent to be a cash-grab? Oh, hell yes. I wouldn’t say it’s a disaster on every level. But I might say, nearly every level. Sure, it’s got decent animation and a recognizable cast of voice actors, but is that all that matters? What about plot and story? This thing is unoriginal, the plot is nearly nonexistent and filled with holes; big, dumb holes. As an added bonus, because this one is for the kids, it’s got one-note characters (they’re emoji, so I guess that makes it okay), cheap jokes, confusing and mostly dumb world-building,  lots of product placement, dated references, flat voice acting, and of course the message that every child in america needs… your phone is the most important thing in your life. Love your phone. It hits all the bases for a second tier animated kids flick’s it’s colorful, dull, over the top, joyless, ripe with toy possibilities, kind of crass, empty, and ridiculously boring experience. I’d like to say unimaginative, but somebody came up with enough stuff to fill 86 minutes of screen time about emoji, that takes some imagination. I don’t know why I watched this. I don’t think you should watch it. And most definately don’t share this with your children. Think of the children. Spare the children. I’ll give it a star, it might have earned two, but I’m not willing to give it that benefit of the doubt. 


VALERIAN

In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha–an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.
Bad characters. Uninteresting story. Bad pacing. Silly world building. No emotional involvement by the cast or the audience. Just not a good movie.
Dane DeHann as Major Valerian is terrible, unbelievable, unlikable, and has the charisma of a turd. Cara Delevingne as  Sergeant Laureline is better; better in every single scene. The two of them have a chemistry that can only be called, nonexistent. The idea that these two characters are in love and that they are going to get married is, well, it’s unbelievable. Rihanna is in this movie, that’s probably a thing for some of you. She sings and dances and changes clothes before becoming a gummy-blob and then dying. It’s dumb. This whole movie is dumb. Every scene in this movie goes on too long. And that is exactly what this movie is, a series of overlong scenes of things that they thought were cool. Cool space station turned intergalactic world city. Cool virtual reality market. Cool effects. Cool aliens. Cool spaceships. Cool disregard for rules and ranks. There is a lot of cool in this film. The problem being that I don’t think this film understands what is and what isn’t cool. Many of the things Valerian thinks are cool are lame, derivative, unoriginal, and poorly done.
I was just plain bored by this movie. Every part of it. Every single bit. I don’t think I had a single, “Wow, that was cool” moment throughout. It was like watching somebody mash up Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar, and a couple other films I haven’t seen into one thing. And that thing was not very good. Cara Delevingne was pretty good, but the rest was typical, throw away Hollywood garbage that nobody will remember in two years.



Google Play offered me a $1.99 rental and this weekend the wife and I watched the latest spider-man movie. I was a little surprised, after all the talk about it being “the greatest superhero movie of all time, ever. So good. Great, really.” Or whatever it is that Trump had to say about it. I was a little let down by the whole thing. I enjoyed it. I thought it was pretty good, but I’m not convinced it should have gotten so much rah-rah hype.
First, let’s establish where I’m at and where I’m coming from. The last spider-man film I saw was Spider-Man 2, back in 2004. I liked the first two Tobey Maguire quite a bit. I never saw the third movie in that series, and I never saw either of the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movies. So I cannot compare this to those three films. I did see the 1967 cartoon reruns throughout my childhood and watched 1977 live action TV series as a kid when it came out. Also, I looked forward to seeing Spider-Man on the Electric Company. So, I think it’s fair to say that, I’m not completely out of the Spider-Man loop.
Second, I was not one who was waiting for Spider-Man to come back into the Marvel fold. I didn’t care if Spider-Man, Ironman, the Hulk, Captain America, and Namor ever got together in some sort of live action Marvel cartoon class of ’66 reunion. I admit that Marvel has done well with their characters in their movies, and I think they should, what with all the “theirs” I’m throwing around in that sentence. But I don’t think Marvel has a monopoly on making super hero movies… despite the box office evidence to the contrary.
So, Spider-Man Homecoming. Let me say that I think the new costume is passable, but that I’m not a fan. I don’t like all the little black stripes on the costume, the eyes are neat (in an unnecessary way), and all the electric gizmos and gadgets built in make it feel more Iron-Spider (yes, I know that’s a real thing. Not what I mean, but I’m aware) than Spider-Man. I liked all the tie-ins with the previous movies and the way the villain was using those events to create his stuff. I get that this was a HUGE deal for Marvel to get to make a Spider-Man movie, and so they threw the bank at the movie. But I didn’t really need quite so much of the Ironman/Robert Downey Jr stuff, how many times can we check in with Happy, and even the Penny Potts ending added nothing. Perhaps they should have spent a little more money and made it into a buddy movie with our two heroes. It was a little bit like getting his iron chocolate in Spider-Man’s gooey, webby peanut butter. I guess that’s why it’s a universe of films, because you can’t find the boundaries for any one of them, they all blend together.
Michael Keaton was good. Nice take on the Vulture. The shocker… garbage. Both times. Garbage.
Peter Parker was good. The high school stuff was mostly good. The best friend was good. The girlfriend was kind of a throwaway, so we can get to MJ or Gwen in upcoming films. Was there really nothing between the red hoodie and goggles and the super tech Stark spider virtual pajamas. Hasn’t every version of Spider-Man ever made his own suit?
Nice tie-in with the title and I like the Vulture being a vulture. Good work there. So mostly good. Very good even. But in some ways it felt too Marvel, and not enough Spider, for my tastes and expectations. I don’t understand the fever of hype and all the raving about this movie, but I did enjoy it and I’m comfortable giving it four out of five stars.