one word reviews of Movies and TV

Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Simplistic Review: Justice League Dark: Apokolips War

Look. I rarely write reviews anymore. I typically save my written praise or vitriol for something that truly affects me. A Mad Max: Fury Road or a Last Jedi. Most of the time, I let the ones smarter than I break down the films and TV shows because I have a tendency to lean into my emotions on things when breaking down their strengths or weaknesses. But then there are some emotions I can not quell. Some emotions that wake me up in the middle of the night on a Saturday and have me pouring my thoughts down on paper as though I were in a trance. And in this film's case, it is a trance of pure hatred. So, let's talk about the latest and last film in the current DC Animated Universe as presently constituted. Let's talk about Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. (Slight Spoilers)

I am sick and tired of living in an era of entertainment where filmmakers taking over a classic property are keen on tearing down said classic property, leaving it unrecognizable to what it is intended to be and doing it under the thin veil of  "it's different" or "subverted expectations". If you are going to deconstruct a character as classic as Superman or Batman or Wonder Woman or the Justice League and it not be a satire like the Harley Quinn animated show, you better have a deft hand. A brilliant hand. The hands behind Justice League Dark: Apokolips War did not act with any deftness or brilliance that I could see. To me, they acted with the intent of a 14-year-old bully tearing apart a kid's comic books because they think comics are stupid and wanted to see how the kid would react by doing so.

Talk about the film? Right. Sorry.  The "film" centers around the Justice League's assault on the villainous Darkseid and his planet of Apokolips and the fallout after the battle, seen through the eyes of the always reluctant John Constantine. And from the word "go"...they f*%k up Superman. From...the word..."go"! The beacon of hope and truth and justice and pragmatism makes a brash decision to have the JLA attack and kill...KILL...Darkseid, a guy who would dishrag Thanos without a second blush. A decision Superman so fervently believes in, he throws a rage-filled destructive hissy fit when he is questioned. Questioned with reason and logic by, of all people, Lex friggin' Luthor. So right there, ten minutes into this film, I checked out. And I still had an hour in a half to go. But I knew it wouldn't get better because in this short time the creators of this film have shown me they either hate Superman or think he's an irrational idiot. And by association, they've made Batman and Wonder Woman equally stupid by having them go along with this plan. Batman puts his literal kids in harm's way to go along with a murder plan that is about a step away from "Hulk Smash" in terms of strategy on Darkseid.

If I have to point to things I liked, it would be Matt Ryan as Constantine. The guy certainly loves this character since he's been playing him in some iteration since 2014, and it shows. This is likely his last time voicing him and that saddens me. He and his relationship with Etrigan the Demon and the callously refrigeratored  Zatanna were the only cool breeze in this burning desert of disappointment I had.

I'm sure people love this sorta thing and that's their right. But I hate it. I hate lazy, A to let's skip B and C so we can just get to D, shock and awe storytelling solely to gain shock and awe through the quickest route. I used to think the Killing Joke animated film was the worst, most offensive DC animated film I'd seen, but this hateful film is by far the worst. I will never watch it again and may just stay away from DC animation for a while until I hear overwhelmingly good things from people I trust. Going in, I didn't even know they were resetting the DC Animated Universe. After I found this out, I was even more upset. This...this is how you're going to do it?

If you want to see a good, smart, respectful, enjoyable approach to this same story and enemy and the last few episodes of Justice League Unlimited. There they actually give Darkseid, the villain, a motivation, a character, and even bother to mention things like the Anti-Life Equation. What's that you ask? Oh, nothing. Just the one thing Darkseid has ever cared about. Is it mentioned in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War? No...but hey look! One of your favorite comic book characters was just torn in half with their guts splattering on the pseudo camera. Cool huh? Who needs motivation when you can just wallow in displays of base instincts.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War is like if Eli Roth was forced at gunpoint by Martin Scorsese to make a DC film that would take away the allure of comic book movies forever so people would pay to watch a four hour Irishman re-release. If you think it's fantastic if comic book characters act uncharacteristically while dying horribly, disturbingly, and vacantly with all the gravitas of a jump scare in a bad Blumhouse movie, go and enjoy Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. A film that made me believe the actual apocalypse couldn't be as bad.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

(Ep. 124): The Simplistic Reviews Podcast - August 2019

On this back to school episode of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast. William Davis Moore, from Miscast Entertainment, sits in for the vacationing Matthew Stewart. The boys discuss...well...The Boys...TV series...they also briefly discuss the only Oscar-winning film to have a money shot in it (Can you guess what it is?)...they tackle the TransAtlantic accent and finally reveal the real person behind Warner Brothers. All That and Moore...see what I did there? Because William Davis Moore is on the...nevermind...All that and some stoking of the flames surrounding that old rumor about William Shatner's late wife...yeah we went there...on the August Edition of the Simplistic Review Podcast.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

(Ep. 123): Stone Cold - Movie Commentary: August 2019

Stone Cold

R 1991 ‧ Thriller/Action ‧ 1h 35m
A street-smart cop goes undercover to infiltrate and bring to justice a ruthless motorcycle gang before they can carry out their plans of tyranny and murder.
Release date: May 17, 1991 (USA)
Director: Craig R. Baxley

MGM...oh MGM. Your copyright happy trigger finger was at it again. Nothing like editing Stone Cold a few times only to have you take it down again and again. Fun stuff stuff.

Take a journey with DJ and Justin to a simpler time, were MGM made fun and exciting movies existed. Sure, MGM has lost it ways these days but there was a time they made enjoyable films. No, I'm not salty over the pull downs - but Stone Cold is a fun ride. And lets not pull punches here, no one pulls off the business in the front and party in the back like Brian mother F-ing Bosworth!

So, take a ride with us as we watch 90s Stone Cold and now faith-based action star, The Boz!

Yeah, the guy from Stone Cold does faith based action movies now, hey everyone has to make a living.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

A Simplistic Review: Once Upon a Time In...Hollywood

As you get older you come to TERMS with many things. One, getting older; Two, time is running out to leave a mark on the world; and maybe even three is the fact that people are simply waiting in the wings to call you out for being a hack or completely undeserving of your success.

For all intents and purposes, I'm talking about Quentin Tarantino's newest film, "Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood," and while I might have more quibbles with this film more than his pervious eight (or nine if you include the damn near perfect "Death Proof") "Hollywood" is a film about a Hollywood in which Tarantino fell in love with in a time where America was, perhaps, as fractured as it is right now.

As in many of QT's later films, starting with "Inglourious Basterds," he subverts expectations and creates a world he wants to live in on his own TERMS.

Top to bottom, the performances are great but the pacing drags in parts. We get some fresh foot shots that have been missing from his last couple of films, and you have to love that QT still loves him some feet.

Ultimately, where does this film fall in the Tarantino filmography. We critics love this, we live for these moments where we can tell YOU how good this film is! Sure, lists are super fun, and while I personally put this in my lower 3rd of his filmography, the fact remains that even with his being what I might think one of his "weakest" entires, it's still better than 98% of films being released on a weekly basis.

Monday, July 22, 2019

A Simplistic Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

I've certainly been sitting on this review for a while, but after a fair amount of thought, it was time to say what I think about "Spider-Man: Far From Home." After the grandeur of "Endgame" the end of MCU's Phase Three just feels SMALL.

This is of course a film that takes places over four different countries, has dazzling "special effects," another great villain that ties perfectly into the MCU, but there is still something about it that pales in comparison, and perhaps that's unfair, but its where we are right now as we enter a new Phase of Marvel films; I'm saying that a Spider-Man film looks SMALL.

This is why people say we can't have nice things... 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

(Ep. 122): The Simplistic Reviews Podcast July 2019

Happy Fourth Of July! A holiday you that’s best with the fireworks that only the Simplistic Reviews Podcast can give you. On this return episode, the boys discuss what they did on their summer break, which includes hospital visits that lead to an interaction with Michael Keaton, their top 3 episodes of Black Mirror, some of Quincy Jones’ best hits…on fellow celebrities, and how much they would need to get paid to let a female soccer player kick them in the nethers. And to top it off, they play the explosive game Simplistic Submarine. All that and more on this comeback episode of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast

Gold Medal By Sounds Like Sander
Variety Time By Tim Garland

Alex Morgan 
Quincy Jones Rumor About Brando
Black Mirror

Monday, June 10, 2019

Cashville Rules Everything Around Me: Wu-Tang Clan Makes History at The Ryman

It's an understatement to say seminal hip-hop collective, Wu-Tang Clan, set a standard for all of shows that will come follow at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN after their show on Sunday night.

The Mother Church of Country turned into "The Mother F'n Church of Hip-Hop," if only for one night.

Courtesy of The Ryman @theryman 
Founded in 1892, The Ryman Auditorium is a fixture in Nashville, hosting everyone from Johnny Cash, the Frist Jubilee Singers, Dolly Parton, The Grand Ole Opry, and even Elvis Presley (even if it was only one time). But this time the stage was home to RZA, GZA, "Young" Dirty Bastard, Inspectach Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Master Killa, Cappadonna, and Method Man performing, in "nearly" its entirety, the record that re-established New York hip-hop as a viable product; 1993's "Enter the Wu-Tang" 36 Chambers."

Along with "36 Chambers" the Clan also performed favorites from "Wu-Tang Forever" like "Reunited," "Ice Cream" from Raekwon's "Only Built 4 Cuban Links" and even Cappadonna got his moment with a verse from one of my personal favorite's "Run" from his debut album, "The Pillage."

The energy was high from the crowd from the beginning to the end.

Courtesy @vaughnphillip via Instagram 
RZA led the way most of the show, appreciating the moment and getting the crowd hyped for what came next, and was more than happy the spray Moet into the crowd and even give those in the front row some much deserved Hennessy. I'm sure it Captain Tom Ryman new that one day Hennessy and Moet would cover the floors of his beloved Tabernacle Church he probably wouldn't believe you. 

Other highlights included the DJ interlude from resident Wu DJ, Mathematics, who, little trivia for you, actually created the Might Wu "W" that so many guests had adorned on their shirts and hats. There was also the inclusion of Street Life into the show as he joined Method Man for a few verses of "Grid Iron Rap."

But hey, there is always a nit pick with shows like this.

Courtesy of @graperunner via Instagram
With the group all nearly in late 40s or early 50s, you could see the energy tamper out about an hour into the show, namely GZA. At times he seemed pretty disengaged from the show and walked off stage numerous times, including during the encore of Ghostface's "Charchez La Ghost." Sure, the show seemed to have broken down by then as the remained members starting letting audience members on the stage to start dancing, but hey, it's all in fun.

And as any hip-hop show goes, the audio is always tricky. The background music drowned out the MCs more often than not, but if you've ever been to a rap show, you probably know this is a pretty regular occurrence, and the typical motif of every member of the Wu rapping over each other.

But those are quibbles that in no way took away from what this show really was; a moment in Nashville, and Ryman, history that can't be taken away. A historic rap collective put it's stamp on a city that many people blame for being "New Nashville" and not the Nashville they grew up with. Sure, this might open up more doors for hip-hop to be a more common occurrence at the Ryman, but a generational group like Wu-Tang Clan won't be around "forever." 

A Simplistic Review: Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men

Rap groups come and go. Many have an expiration date, I mean just look at most of the groups from the last 90s and 2000s. Record companies chewed them up and spit them out, but hey, it could have also meant they just weren't very good either.

But as the old adage goes, "Wu-Tang is Forever," even if it shows how FRACTURED they are after you watch Showtime's "Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men."

The four-part series peers behind the curtain during their making of THE SEMINAL hip-hop record of the 90s "Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers" shows how they beat the music system by signing a lucrative record deal for each member, but also shows the dark side of management and how the death of Ol' Dirty Bastard essentially imploded the group.

It's a personal look, and plays like an intervention as the group gathers to watch old footage and wax lyrical on their struggles with each other and how the business has changed during their nearly 30 year run. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

Simplistic Interviews: Producer Heather Buckley, of "The Ranger"

On this Simplistic Interview, we sit down with Heather Buckley, producer of the 2018 horror film "The Ranger."

From days writing at Fangoria Magazine to pitching films at Cannes and South by Southwest, Matt and Heather discuss what it was that got her into horror, how inclusion is shaping the horror genre, and essentially how she is an encyclopedia of genre knowledge. Oh, and of course punk rock!

Follow her all over social media too!

Twitter: @_HeatherBuckley

And of course check out "The Ranger!"

Twitter: @TheRangerMovie
Instagram: @therangermovie
Streaming on Shudder, Amazon Prime, and anywhere else where you can find great horror flicks.

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