Thursday, 14 December 2017

Universal 1943A

It begins! The Dark Universe! At long last the cross over everyone wanted! Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man!

Wouldn't you know it? The Wolf Man isn't dead after all, he was just having a bit of a nap. But searching for a proper way to die he finds not Dr Frankenstein, but Baroness Frankenstein and the Monster. There is a mad doctor though, and instead of helping them to die, decides that powering them up is a better way to go. But when the monster goes after the hottie Baroness, the Wolf Man steps in and we'll never have another crossover again.

Lon Chaney returns as the Wolf Man, meaning someone else gets made up as the monster (Bela this time, but doesn't look quite right). Ilona Massey is back, this time as the Baroness, but she has an even less strong character than last time.

Amusingly, Dennis Hoey is playing Inspector Owen. Such a pity the character wasn't Lestrade (Dennis basically plays him that way), then we would really have a full on cross-over worthy of the name!

Did we need a cross-over? Not really, but I suppose it is a way to mix up the standard monster movie formulae.


Read more!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Universal 1942B

Speaking of dragging out the series, we get another entry in which no-one stays dead. The Ghost of Frankenstein.

We start with another ransacking of the castle, but that just leads to the monster being uncovered by Ygor. Ygor takes the monster to another Frankenstein, and after some soul searching the doctor decides to destroy the monster, then immediately decides that a better idea is to put a new brain in the monsters head. Unfortunately, they still can't brain properly, Ygor is now in there, and everyone gets thrown around. And now he is dead... sure.

Bela Lugosi is back, but now there won't be any more monster. We no longer have Boris, but Lon Chaney as the monster. And other people I don't recognise as the main cast members.

This feels like they are just dragging it out (insert your own reanimation metaphor here). Clearly they can't get sadder from here.


Read more!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Universal 1942A

Let us continue to binge on the invisible formula series. This is Invisible Agent.

Frank Raymond, grandchild of the original Invisible Man, refuses to give up the formula no matter what. Cut to... World War II, and Frank agrees to go behind enemy lines and dig up secrets. So we then get a mixture of spy thriller and spy comedy as one character bumbles his way through invisible interactions and another ruthlessly goes after Frank. Various Nazis die until Frank and the token woman can escape.

Hey, Peter Lorre... playing Japanese? Huh? Interestingly Ilona Massey (the token woman) gets billing over Jon Hall (Frank), and although she is rather dragged around, she is the reason they get away in the end.

I'm not sure if they were trying for anti-war, or what, but this doesn't add anything to the Invisible mythos, and the movie can't decide if it wants to be serious or comedy.


Read more!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Universal 1941B

[Okay, change of schedule, I'm gonna put these out when I watch them.]

In many ways this is a call back to the basics of "gypsy people causing trouble in small towns", but they are the good guys here. This is The Wolf Man.

In random manor in small town, a chap gets a telescope.. and immediately pervs on a beautiful woman in the nearby town. He makes moves on her, won't take no for an answer, but she isn't really putting up a huge fight even though she's engaged. Later on a stroll, they get attacked by a wolf, and he gets bitten. Surprise, surprise, he's a wolf man now. Everyone knows about the legend of the wolf, and the recently arrived gypsy man got killed, but the gypsy woman is understanding, it's the wolf's fault. The town is upset, people die, and eventually the man's father beats him to death. At least he is at rest now.

This isn't exactly reaching new heights of story telling. It's a basic take on the nature of the beast in man. The gypsy's do get done well, and Bela Lugosi starts as the gypsy man (thus explaining the accent) called Bela (in the most amazing casting effort ever). Lon Chaney is the wolf, and as the wolf looks like the standard "attach lots of hair" wolf make up.

Not a high pick for me, just middle of the road.


Read more!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Just-meh League

So, this is the big event we were supposed to be hyped up for... and yet, when it was over, and I asked myself how I felt about it? I didn't feel that delivered to.

A big bad comes to Earth, and various Defen... Aven... heroes have to gather... and gather... and gather some more... then pause to gather even more... and then... FIGHTEND.

One thing about the Avengers is that we had already established who these people were, so we could get on with getting them together. In this, we had to basically introduce three different people, give enough backstory/context so we knew their deal, and then get to fighting. And... they just weren't that interesting. This is supposed to be the Justice League, the premier group of heroes of the DC, getting together. It felt more like "we have these characters lying around, so let's stick them together". These didn't come across as the best hope for humanity, they were just the people around who got together for a movie.

And the big villain? Steppenwolf. You might be forgiven for never having heard of him, because I'm a DC reader, and I like big cosmic stuff, but I had no idea who he was. When it comes to Darkseid (who is named checked) and Apocalypse (which is only obliquely referred to, but not named), there's Darkseid, Desaad, Granny Goodness... and Barda and Mr Miracle are from there too... Presumably they are saving Darkseid for after they see what Thanos does?

As for production... the CGI was NOT GOOD. Cyborg looked like a floating human head pasted onto a badly placed mechanical body, and various capes and such and various superheroes looked badly animated often.

Not to say this is a terrible movie. Some humour is snuck in (in the same way it was for Suicide Squad), and it makes sense enough for what is happening. It just isn't the great DC needed it to be.


Read more!

Friday, 1 December 2017


Another Netflix, another series. This one being a part of the Marvel Netflix series (which I think is completely separate from the TV shows and may actually get mentioned in the movies at some point?)

White guy with guns kills all the people, and then what happens to him? It turns out there was something in his past that came up and now he must take even more revenge.

Actually, this is quite decent so far. Yes, we are talking about someone who decides that killing is the answer, unlike every other 'hero', but we aren't presented with a lot of shades of grey with the people he kills so far. This is good characterisation so far, and we have other people brought in and they aren't the worst either!

But the big problem is... this is generic. It's well done generic, and I was eagerly moving onto the next episodes, but... it's hard to say what happened beyond 'hunt down the next person to kill'. Aside from setting up one character for next time that if I was a Punisher watcher, I'm sure I would have picked up on before looking him up on Wiki.

However, yeah. I don't really have enough to say to break it into many posts, so there is just this one saying 'decent but hard to point out anything new'.


Read more!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Muurduur on L'Express D'Orient

Okay, so I've read the book. I was disappointed by the David Suchet version. Let's see what Kenneth Branagh brings to this.

I don't really think I need to recite anything about the plot here. Poirot ends up on the Orient Express because of nepotism, and after a random person gets on board the train and stabs up a bad man, they spend a lot of time interrogating all those innocent train guests. But the mustache must have its day.

And it is a rather splendid mustache, with a sleeping hammock of its own. Whenever it is on screen, the eye is drawn to it, and everyone else pales in insignificance. I'm only slightly exaggerating here, but I was often distracted by it.

One big selling point around this film is the cast, as demonstrated by the names plastered all over the poster. Kenneth Branagh, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Olivia Coleman... okay, probably only I spotted the last there, but I remember the British Comedienne. And there are others too.

Performances are good, but the big scene stealer is the scene itself. The train is well made, and the scenery is gorgeous.

But the best point in the film's favour... even through I knew the story, they still unfolded it well, and I was caught up in it!


Read more!