Welcome back! I’m continuing my cinematic tour of 2019 with John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum, a small horror film titled Brightburn, and the latest version of Aladdin. Naturally, these movies are very different from each other. They also have completely different strengths and weaknesses. Are any of these films worth seeing in theaters? Considering the price of movie tickets and concessions, that’s an important question. I’ll explain everything below. Happy reading!
I’m starting this post with the third John Wick film. It begins right after the second John Wick movie ended. Our titular antihero is on the run because he was excommunicated from an international league of assassins. That means the High Table placed a huge bounty on his head and the other mercenaries are in hot pursuit. It’s a tremendously violent journey, as expected from the John Wick universe.
This is a highly entertaining movie! I thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The action scenes are phenomenal. Actually, the action scenes are even more impressive in this film than the other John Wick installments. It’s a huge adrenaline rush with brutal violence and really creative kill scenes. The fight choreography is amazing and I can tell Keanu Reeves did many of his own stunts. Every action sequence was shot clearly and effectively with the best view for the audience. Parabellum has some of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen.
The characters also drove this movie forward. Keanu Reeves is the perfect fit for John Wick. He’s dark and troubled, but honorable at the same time. Despite having unnatural fight skills, he’s still oddly relatable somehow. In a way, he’s a star crossed lover who wants to ride into the sunset with his dog. It’s really hard not to root for him. Usually, I don’t think Reeves is a very good actor, but he always gives a killer performance in this role. He’s so calm and yet totally determined. The supporting cast was fine as well, including Halle Berry, Lawrence Fishburne, and others, but Keanu Reeves stole the show. I want give some attention Mark Dacascos as Zero, a rival assassin. He's also quite effective in the action scenes and very funny. I was surprised with his comedic ability.
This movie is also artistic on unexpected levels. It’s hard to explain, but the cinematography and stunt choreography is so complex, intriguing, and beautiful. I’ve never seen this type of situation in blockbuster films. The music also helps the film and general flow. I wouldn’t say it’s the best score, but the music works very well with the action and momentum. The world building is quite nice too. Parabellum covers multiple locations with gorgeous architecture and landscapes. Even the big cities like New York are fantastic in appearance. Watching the hustle and bustle of New York City in the twilight hours is very pretty.
Unfortunately, I have to address a couple flaws. Hardly any movie is perfect. Don’t expect great storytelling in this film. The plot is very thin and it’s simply not the primary focus. It’s just about an exiled mercenary who’s trying to survive. Granted, I don’t expect amazing plots in the John Wick series.
My next point of criticism is also one of the most entertaining parts. John Wick is virtually a superhero and I’m not sure if anyone can kill him. He’s practically bullet proof. You can throw him off a building, stab him, shoot him, and run over him with a car. Somehow, he’ll walk away with only a few bruises. That’s cool, but entirely unrealistic. John Wick is just a human being without enhanced powers. So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense of you think about the situation. But I’m not going to complain too much because it’s a really fun element.
Naturally, I’m going to recommend this film to any fans of action movies. It’s so much fun and very different than most blockbusters. If you like the other John Wick films, Parabellum won’t disappoint you. I doubt this movie is still running on IMAX screens, but that’s the best way to watch it. This wouldn’t be a good viewing for people who can’t handle excessive violence. Parabellum is a lot more brutal than the other John Wick installments.
Now I’m going to cover Brightburn. It’s a little horror film that turns the superhero genre upside down. Brightburn is a deconstruction of the Superman mythos. What if the most powerful superhero decided to terrorize the world instead of saving it? That’s essentially the main plot. A spaceship crash lands in a small town called Brightburn. The vessel contains a seemingly human infant who is quickly rescued by a nearby couple. As the child grows, he becomes increasingly angry, arrogant, and psychotic. Will this child turn around and become a true hero or will he burn down the world? Mankind is in trouble if he takes a dark turn.
Brightburn isn’t a bad film, but I can’t give it a lot of praise. In a way, the movie is exciting, suspenseful, creepy, and a decent adrenaline rush. It has good jump scares and tons of gore. Believe it or not, the gruesome elements work really well. It fits in the film’s tone and adds more entertainment value to the kill scenes.
I'm pretty sure this movie is trying to set up a sequel. I’m actually looking forward to it. The Brightburn universe could add more characters and extra chapters to the overarching story. I’m sure everything will depend on ticket sales, but it could lead to another cinematic universe.
The characters also have great development. I wasn’t particularly impressed with any of the performances, but the characters were well written. A seemingly normal and affectionate family winds up in ruin because their child is a sociopathic being from another planet. It takes a while for him to reach this point too. Brandon Breyer is the super powered being in question and he starts out like a normal child who loves his adoptive parents. Then his alien instincts take over and it’s a heart wrenching journey. It’s a depressing story, but still interesting.
Beyond that, I wasn’t incredibly thrilled. Brightburn is neither good nor bad. I’ve seen similar deconstructions of Superman and all of them are superior to this film. The Red Son comic books and Injustice video games are much better. They’re more developed with better stories and characters. We haven’t seen this type of superhero treatment in cinema before, but it’s not unique in other forms of media. Therefore, Brightburn isn’t unique or special after all.
This film doesn’t have a lot of substance. I realize the horror genre struggles with this problem frequently, but the movie needs to have better storytelling. It barely has a plot at all. Why does Brandon become evil? It vaguely tries to give an explanation, but this boy primarily kills people just because he wants to cause mass destruction. Villains need to have a motivation and I can’t figure it out beyond a violent nature. Brightburn doesn’t explore Brandon's alien race either. It seems like a missed opportunity. This film could have created a fascinating mythology and we don’t get to see it.
Brandon’s mother, played by Elizabeth Banks, makes super annoying decisions. Horror movies are infamous for having characters who make stupid choices. She chooses to ignore everything. Brandon develops jarringly unnatural powers and he appears to be the chief suspect in multiple deaths or disappearances. She just pretends that everything is fine. I realize parents aren’t necessarily objective with their children, but she can’t possibly be that dense. It’s a common cliché in horror films and I find it lame.
You can probably skip this film in theaters. In fact, I doubt most people would want it on Blu-Ray. Give it a shot on Netflix, Hulu, cable, or additional options for home viewing. You might find it creepy and interesting, but I don’t recommend spending money on movie tickets. Despite my lukewarm reception, I'm still looking forward to a sequel. It might be more compelling.
Aladdin is the final movie on this post. It’s a remake of Disney’s animated version, focusing on the titular protagonist who also happens to be a thief on the streets on Agrabah. Aladdin undergoes a long journey where he befriends a magical genie, falls in love with a princess, and combats an evil sorcerer. Throughout his journey, the he learns about the true meaning of friendship and happiness.
This movie is surprisingly excellent! I went in the theater with low expectations because the trailers were disappointing, but the finished product is great. It captures the spirit, aesthetic, entertainment value, and essence of the animated release. Aladdin has spectacle, fun music, amazing characters, and plenty of action. It’s a classic Disney fairytale that’s suitable for the entire family. Guy Ritchie directed the film and I’m not usually thrilled with his work, but this one came together really well. He knows how to shoot grand set pieces with an emphasis on adventure. These skills also come in handy during the musical numbers. Ritchie made some changes, but the movie is still faithful to the source material. Overall, it’s a heartwarming experience that’s a whole lot of fun.
I love several of the characters. Mena Massoud plays Aladdin and I believe he fits the role perfectly. Actually, I like this version of Aladdin much better than the animated one. In the past, Aladdin was never one of my favorite Disney princes, but I warmed up to Massoud’s portrayal. He’s sincere, charming, roguish, and a little bit goofy. I thought he turned out to be a pretty good singer too. Naomi Scott was incredible as Princess Jasmine, Aladdin’s love interest. She has better character development and many contemporary elements in this film. Scott’s performance is feisty, genuine, elegant, and very progressive. Unlike Aladdin, Jasmine was always one of my childhood favorites. My viewing was a nostalgic experience and the new elements work well. Scott is also an exceptional singer. The vocals tend to be some of the weaker elements in these Disney remakes, but she’s legit. Some of you might be worried about Will Smith playing the Genie, but he’s awesome. He’s a fun and charismatic version of the character. Smith isn’t giving a recreation of Robin Williams’ performance. This version of the Genie is completely unique and suitable for his talent. I like him both in human form and the floating, blue giant. The CGI companions are also enjoyable, including Abu the monkey, Rajah the tiger, and the magic carpet.
I’m going to address some technical elements. Most of the visuals effects are terrific with the exception of the green screen. All of the major VFX look clean and magical, but the green screen effects are super obvious. We can’t have a live action version of Aladdin without grand visual effects and it really elevated the viewing experience. I also feel impressed with the production design and costumes. Everything comes together with the right context. Somehow, the production design and costumes looked awful in the trailers, but they're fabulous on the big screen. The music is wonderful as well. It’s kind of like cheating because the music was taken from the animated film, but it still counts. The pacing is really good too. It’s much longer than the animated film, but the story doesn’t feel slow at all. Everything moves at a comfortable and brisk pace.
I don’t have many complaints, but a couple of things are worth mentioning. Marwen Kenzari plays Jafar, the Sultan’s Vizier and the movie’s antagonist. He’s a very weak interpretation of the character. This version of Jafar is unusually young, sneaky, and conniving. It didn’t work for me. He comes across as whiny, jealous, and unintimidating. I have no idea why they casted someone who was so young. He couldn’t be experienced enough to be a Grand Vizier. The animated version of Jafar was sinister, Machiavellian, evil, and a little bit scary at times. I didn’t notice any of those elements from Kenzari’s portrayal. However, I don’t believe it’s his fault. That was probably Guy Ritchie’s idea. Jafar’s parrot, Iago, isn’t great either. He’s just a regular parrot who says a few lines.
I’ll mention one negative comment about the music. Will Smith isn’t a particularly good singer. He’s definitely the weakest of the main trio. Granted, it didn’t bother me very much. He’s a fantastic Genie and his musical numbers don’t require the most masterful performances. Will Smith has enough personality and charisma to make up for his weaker singing abilities.
The marketing team deserves to be fired. After the first full length trailer was released, I was shaking because it was so awful. Aladdin was a special film during my childhood and I was afraid the live action remake was going to be a catastrophe. Apparently, the trailers had no reflection on the overall product. Thank goodness! I don’t know why it happened, but everything looked really bad in the trailers, such as the VFX, acting, costumes, music, and production design. Don't let the marketing material scare you away. The movie was just fine.
Should you see the remake of Aladdin in theaters? Definitely yes! It’s a great experience and solid fun. Naturally, it’s not a good viewing for people who hate musicals. But in general, mainstream audiences should have an enjoyable time.
Thanks a lot for reading my reviews of three summer movies. Have you seen any of these films yet? If the answer is yes, what did you think? Keep checking for more posts about movies, games, steampunk, writing, sports, and other topics. Remember, you can always find something cool and interesting here. Take care and enjoy your night at the movies. Bye!
Good evening! Periodically, I choose a specific punk genre and discuss it thoroughly. The world is full of niche genres and most people aren't familiar with them. Today, I'm covering an obscure genre called gothicpunk, also spelled gothic punk. Some punk genres make more sense than others and this one could be a useful method for creative content if it builds some popularity. Let's take a look at this unusual subgenre of fantasy and science fiction.
What is gothicpunk? Basically, it's a dark, gritty, ominous, and urban setting that usually takes place during contemporary periods. The story and characters typically have a rebellious nature, especially against authority or corruption. Most importantly, supernatural creatures are heavily showcased in these stories. I'm not simply talking about vampire romances or supernatural dramas. The tone is often nihilistic or vengeful and it's not unusual to see apocalyptic themes. Ultimately, the main characters are rebelling against someone. For example, supernatural creatures might be rebelling against mankind. It can be the other way around with humans rebelling against an onslaught of monsters. Perhaps, a particular creature is rebelling against his/her own species. Overall, gothicpunk will be easier to understand if you take a look at some potential examples.
The Chronicles of Darkness and World of Darkness tabletop games are solid examples. In fact, the White Wolf Wiki website has a full page about gothicpunk and how it relates to the franchise. The World of Darkness is a role-playing series that features different types of creatures in urban environments. Vampires, werewolves, mages, demons, changelings, and other beings are common choices. Players can also choose to be hunters who battle these creatures. Several years ago, the franchise was relaunched as the Chronicles of Darkness. There are plenty of goth and punk elements in this series. It's broody, violent, and full of despair. Various factions or groups are pitted against each other. The guidebooks also have artwork that has a distinctly punk appearance. These tabletop games may have been the launching point for the gothicpunk genre.
I'm definitely including The Crow on this list. It's a series of films and comic books that feature a man who was murdered and returns as a supernatural harbinger of doom. There have been several versions of The Crow with different protagonists, but the main story is always the same. In the end, the guilty must atone for their sins, usually in the form of violent death scenes. The graphic design is dark and takes several elements from the goth subculture. It also features extreme violence, which is commonplace in gothicpunk fiction. In a way, the genre rebels against socially acceptable content, so bloody violence and strong sexuality are featured in many gothicpunk works.
The Underworld film series probably deserves to be on this list. It fits the cliche of one species fighting another, such as vampires and werewolves. Mankind doesn't know it, but vampires believe they should rule the world. The protagonist is a vampire named Selene who eventually becomes ostracized from her own species. Like the previous examples, the visual elements have a distinct punk and goth aesthetic. I don't find the Underworld series very good, but it fits in the genre.
I'm much more fond of the Blade comic books and movies. Blade is a hybrid with human and vampire DNA. He makes a living hunting down vampires, so they don't become a serious scourge against mankind. Our antihero is a troubled character who struggles to fight off his predatory side every day. Ultimately, he believes mankind is worth saving from a bloodthirsty race of creatures. Have you seen any of the Blade posters? Wesley Snipe's black costume with the leather coat and sharp weapons fit within the gothicpunk image perfectly.
The Anita Blake books seem to fit in the genre as well. Her work tends to have racier and more sensual elements. Anita Blake is also a vampire hunter, but she finds a lot of gray area in the supernatural world. Some humans are corrupt and evil whereas some monsters like vampires and werewolves have a legitimate moral compass. You'll find all kinds of factions in this book series with various antagonists. Sure, it's a vampire romance, but the series is more explicit and extreme than mainstream examples.
I would also include the Spawn comic books in the gothicpunk genre. The original Spawn character was a man named Albert Francis Simmons. He worked as a government assassin and was eventually murdered by his employer. Simmons was launched into Hell due to a lifetime of violence. He was resurrected as a supernatural being called Spawn and the character rebels against multiple factions. First, he seeks revenge against his murderer and anyone else who was involved in his death. Spawn also hunts down criminals to protect civilians. This antihero also rebels against the forces of Hell to prevent the Apocalypse. The series is a dark, urban fantasy with tons of graphic violence. It was also a series of films, but the comics are much better. You can also view the Spawn television series on HBO.
There's also a film called Daybreakers. It's an alternate version of the modern era where vampires took over the world and are harvesting humans for their blood. Unfortunately, the human race is dying out and the vampires don't have an alternate source for food. The movie includes a small rebellion of both humans and vampires who are trying to end the current world order. It's not a fabulous film, but the gothicpunk element is clear and the premise is interesting.
The Constantine comic books and short lived tv series is also a good example. It's a dark comedy with a supernatural detective named John Constantine who hunts demons. The comic books are violent, but also quite humorous in some ways. It's a dark, urban fantasy with quite a few punk elements. I would say it doesn't have a big emphasis on goth, but the snarky humor, supernatural elements, and gray moral area fits the punk image pretty well. There was also a film adaptation and it was okay, but the comics and television show is better.
At this point, the Supernatural tv show probably fits in this category. It began as a supernatural drama with a different monster every week, but it shifted to a darker and more nihilistic plot with demons and angels. The Winchester brothers are hunters who face all kinds of supernatural horrors. Their journey gets darker, more depressing, and weirder as the show progresses. Should you root for the angels or demons? That's probably not a good idea because both sides are evil and bent on destroying mankind. Nobody can win. I would say the tone and the feud between angels and demons fit within the gothicpunk genre. It's just one corrupt entity fighting another one. Supernatural airs on the CW, but you can also watch the series on Netflix.
The Devil May Cry video games are another great example. Dante is a half human and demon hybrid who destroys Hell spawn both for money and recreational purposes. The series has a long and complex plot about his entire family along with various demons who are trying to turn the earth into a literal Hell scape. It's a twisted and entertaining franchise with bloody violence, creative monsters, and dark antiheroes. Like my other examples, these games combine urban environments with dark fantasy elements. There's a very strong punk vibe in these games, especially in Dante's character development and the overall graphics.
HBO's True Blood works in the gothicpunk aesthetic as well. The show features a young lady named Sookie Stackhouse and she seems to be a magnet for supernatural creatures, including vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches, and more. It's crude, lewd, bloody, and over the top. The setting is a small town in Louisiana that's hiding many secrets. True Blood doesn't have an urban setting, but it works nonetheless. In general, the characters, violence, and sexual content bring out the punk elements. There's also a new antagonist in every season. It's a route storyline. Everyone bands together to bring down the latest form of ultimate evil. True Blood isn't a masterpiece, but it's a lot of fun. This show was based on a book series, titled The Southern Vampire Mysteries, but I know very little about the source material.
I'll give a few examples that are vaguely gothicpunk. Maybe we can call them gothicpunk lite. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel share a few similarities with the genre. There's a punkish appearance to the set design and fashion. The characters tend to be rebellious. You'll also find a plethora of vampires, demons, and other nightmarish creatures in an urban environment. But these shows are also commercially friendly and primarily geared to YA audiences. They're less violent, edgy, and provocative than other items on this list. Regardless, they fit within the genre to a certain extent.
Another iffy example is the Ghostrider comic books. The visual elements, violent nature, and urban locations probably work for the genre. However, I'm not sure if there's a message for rebellion in this series, especially against authority figures. Granted, I'm not an expert on the Ghostrider comics. It might have more punk elements than I realize. The film adaptation doesn't seem to fit the gothicpunk image though. Leather jackets and monsters aren't enough.
That's the end of my discussion about gothicpunk. Do you think gothicpunk works as a legitimate genre? Let me know in the comment section. I actually believe it could work, but hardly anyone knows about this genre yet. I'm going to leave a couple of links if you want to learn more. Enjoy the remainder of the Memorial Day weekend and I'll see you guys next week.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.