Alexander Skarsgård is the Devil (review of Jeremy Saulnier’s HOLD THE DARK)

It’s hard not to think of a small-screen release as, you know, small–even if its scope is a vast, wolf-haunted expanse of Alaskan wilderness. Helicopter tracking shots of entire ridges of snowcapped mountains on a 52-inch flatscreen, whether here or in an episode of Game of Thrones, still somehow feel like mere fleeting bits of a smaller cinema relative to, say, former YouTube star Bo Burnham’s 2018 coming-of-age-in-that-of-social-media story Eighth Grade–which could easily have been an Amazon Original or the like but, thankfully, debuted on the big screen.

In a desolate arctic town, a child (Beckam Crawford) plays with a toy soldier in the snow. Then we see his mother (Riley Keough), walking to an open door to check on her boy–only to find the toy soldier stranded, alone–as she suddenly finds herself.

An author (Jeffrey Wright) receives a letter about a boy that’s been taken by wolves–a mythologized animal he apparently knows a little something about. He promptly unplugs his Christmas lights and heads north–for his own reasons.

And then we’re in the desert–following a man with a steely gaze (a chilling Alexander Skarsgård) as he negotiates his way through the hell of war. The only thing we learn about him in this initial sequence is he’s a man with his own moral code.

I wonder if having held out for an upcoming Alamo Drafthouse screening of Jeremy Saulnier’s fourth feature Hold the Dark might’ve sunken me any deeper into its ominous environs–as, say, seeing the cinematographer-turned-director’s Green Room, a much “smaller” tale, on the big screen had. After Blue Ruin, which, full disclosure, I saw for the first time on the small screen, I was eager to see Saulnier’s aptly-named, jade-hued third feature starring the now-late, great Anton Yelchin, and Patrick Stewart, of all people, as a (soft-spoken) Neo-Nazi general. I was excited for Saulnier’s patented sudden bursts of hyper-real screen violence in an atmosphere drenched with palpable hopelessness–and Green Room certainly delivered.

Perhaps because Hold the Dark is a Netflix “event,” I waited a little before hitting play on this Jack London-esque epic–from the man who once answered the question “What if Anton Chigurh were afraid of hepatitis?” Still, I had hoped to feel silly for doubting.

Jeffrey Wright was a big reason I moved this one up a little in my “queue”–but then he was maybe a little too painfully subdued, harder to watch than Westworld‘s Bernard/Arnold as a “host” with a season-long slow brain-fluid leak. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a big fan of Wright’s. His participation just felt like a missed opportunity here. His author/supposed wolf hunter seemed never to find his footing, relegated to pulling cops who’ve just been shot to safety behind rocks and occasionally blurting out a clue to move the story forward. Perhaps that’s reductive–but it’s the impression I’m left with. Though I will say I might justify a second viewing of this just to see if I’m being unfair–maybe having somehow overlooked a quite possible world of nuance in Wright’s gestures and tones.

On the other hand, Alexander Skarsgård is the Devil. He embodies another of Saulnier’s affecting Anton Chigurh riffs (the first being Macon Blair’s bumbling avenger in his revelatory Blue Ruin) like this is what he was born–or came from Hell–to do. Between this and his dreamboat abusive husband in HBO’s gripping Big Little Lies–while I’m not fool enough to believe that even Dennis Hopper is anything like his demented, PBR-devoted Frank Booth–I’m pretty sure I’d flinch if I ever turned a real-life corner only to find Skarsgård there, coolly looking down. He’s the surest sign of life in this movie–moving through it like a Terminator dressed in flesh and a spooky wooden mask.

photo-feb-24-3-25-52-pm 2.5 out of 4 Hats

MadHatter Review

The Cloverfield Paradox is a paradox of marketing. But the question is, is it any good.

I am not a big football fan, but I enjoy watching the Super Bowl. More specifically the movie trailers and commercials. Just like any other movie buff, I already had an idea of what trailers will be popping up. So, when the Cloverfield trailer came on, I wasn’t surprised, just shocked to find out that the film was bought by Netflix and premiering after the game. The Cloverfield franchise has always done a great job of hiding any information about their films. Look at 10 Cloverfield Lane, it just came out of nowhere, we just got a trailer and next thing we know is that the film is coming out very soon. But the question is, is it any good. For the most part it is.

Let me start of with what works in The Cloverfield Paradox. The film has a very interesting premise. You have a group of scientists trying out a crazy experiment that creates a paradox that goes through the entire universe and into the multiverse. The cast also does a great job. Everyone from Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Zhang Ziyi is given their moments to shine. 

Truth is these days it’s so hard to go see a film not know anything about it, with so many movie trailers and spoilers on social media. That is not true here. There was just a teaser that was shown during the Super Bowl. It was awesome going into this movie not knowing anything.

Paradox does play more like a homage to late 70’s early 80’s sci-fi horror films. Which is really a double edge sword. It works for the most part. It just falls in that category of being a bit predictable. 

If you are a fan of Cloverfield and like old school Sci-fi Horror, I’ll say check it out. 

Cloverfield Paradox is currently streaming on Netflix.

3 Hats 3 out 4 Hats

Warner Bros/DC at SDCC 2017. Posters, Trailers and more…

Warner Bros and DC had a very busy SDCC. At long last, we get a title for The Flash stand alone film. Drum roll please… The title is Flashpoint, look I am glad to find out this epic story is finally hitting the big screen. But isn’t it a bit too early, we haven’t yet gotten an origin story for most of the Justice League. It looks to me like they might want to reboot some characters like Batman, since rumors are going around that Warner Bros wants to get rid of Ben Affleck. Anyway, let’s see what happens.

New Justice League poster looks amazing. I love the thought that it is inspired by Alex Ross’s art work. One minor complaint, it doesn’t need all of the writing. It takes away from the characters. Just “All in JL 11.17” would have been suffice. They also dropped a new JL trailer. Overall looks great, just some visual effects need some more work and I have a strange feeling that there isn’t going to be much character development. Hopefully I am wrong on that.

On the television end, we got a trailer for Arrow season 6, The Flash season 4, Gotham season 4, Legends of Tomorrow season 3 and Supergirl season 3. They look great, Stephen Amell looks better then ever as Green Arrow. The Flash seems to have a promising new season after that boring and predictable ending in season 3. While Gotham brings Bruce Wayne closer to his destiny as Batman. Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow definitely look like they are going to be a lot of fun.

justice-league-sdcc-poster-665x1024

New Justice League poster and Trailer

The Flash season 4 trailer

Arrow season 6 trailer

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow season 3 trailer

Supergirl season 3 trailer

Gotham season 4 trailer

Marvel Studios at SDCC 2017. Posters, Trailers and more…

 San Diego Comic Con is finally complete. Here are few of the things that marvel studio showed off. On the picture slide you have the SDCC posters for Avengers Infinity War, Black Panther and Ant-man and Wasp also some concept art for Captain Marvel. 

We also have the new trailers for The Defenders, Thor Ragnarok and Inhumans. The Defenders look’s great, it’s about time we get to watch all of these characters together on screen. Thor Ragnarok looks freaking awesome. They are definitely attempting to give it a Guardians of the Galaxy feel to it. Now when it comes to Inhumans. I am willing to grant them the benefit of the doubt. Marvel has done a respectable job with their Netflix shows and Agents of Shield. But put it this way from what I could tell it’s not worth seeing in IMAX. Let us know what you think and don’t forget to subscribe and follow us on social media. One last thing, the trailer for Avengers Infinity War was amazing. There is so much awesome stuff going on. Disney didn’t release the trailer but we heard their is leak copy out there in the web. May 2018 cant come soon enough. 

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The Defenders Trailer

Thor Ragnarok Trailer

Inhumans Trailer

This is why Homecoming is the best Spider-man movie ever. 

Spiderman Homecoming is the latest entry in the Marvel cinematic universe. Directed by Jon Watts stars Tom Holland as or friendly neighborhood Spider-man and Michael Keaton as the menacing Vulture.

This is the second reboot for our web-slinger. Amazing Spider-Man was far from amazing, but for the most part it was entertaining. Now Marvel studios finally gets their baby back (we’ll sort of). Let’s just say that Sony and Marvel made a mutual agreement. This is the definitive Spider-Man film we’ve been waiting for. I am truly surprised a film with six screenwriters came out so good. From beginning to end, I just had the biggest smile on my face.

Not going to articulate much about the story, I don’t want to get into spoiler territory. Let’s just say that it works! Thank goodness we didn’t watch him get bitten by a radioactive spider again, we’ve seen it already twice. This is more about him growing as a superhero. Another thing it actually does feel like he is your friendly neighborhood Spider-man. In the comics he spent most of his time in his neighborhood of Queens, NY. Homecoming uses that to their advantage, making it feel different from the previous films.

Spiderman is also the first MCU superhero that you could relate to. Peter is just your average kid dealing with all of the high school angst. There are some scenarios that you might say to yourself, oh yeah, I’ve been through something like this before. With the previous MCU heroes you had a billionaire, super soldier and a secret agent. No one that you could actually identify with. The film is very funny at times. Unquestionably, there is a lot of inspiration from John Hughes. The high school scene has a Breakfast Club vibe and there’s also a huge homage to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

One of my issues with the previous Spiderman films is you could tell some scenes weren’t shot in New York City. That has always bothered me. I know that it wouldn’t make a difference for a person who wasn’t born or brought up in NYC. But I’m a native New Yorker, also born and raised in Queens. When I watch scenes like that, it takes me away from the film. That can’t be said for Homecoming, I even recognized some of the neighborhoods that they shot in.

Tom Holland was born to play this role, he is Peter Parker/Spider-man. You also believe that he is in high school. Look, I liked Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield but they were just a bit too old for the role. Michael Keaton is masterful and menacing as The Vulture. There were some scenes that make the Vulture scary and perhaps one of the best super villains on film to date. We understand why he does what he does. He simply isn’t your “I want to take over the world” villain. If anything he reminds me a lot like Walter White from Breaking Bad. The supporting cast does a good job too. The two that stand out are Jacob Batalon as Peter’s nerdy friend and Zendaya as Michelle the corky loner. They have a few big scenes that aren’t only funny, but memorable too.

Like the previous films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-man Homecoming looks amazing and delivers some great action set pieces. The ferry scene is fun and exciting. Vultures suit looks great and plays homage to the original suit from the comics. Marvel studios did a nifty job of making such a corny character look menacing and cool. All of the action scenes between Spider-man and Vulture are thrilling. Seeing them go at it, is simply awesome. Be certain to keep a look out for all of the Easter eggs and there are two end credit scenes.

Spider-man Homecoming is a welcome addition to the MCU and the best Spidey film to date.

4 Hats 4 out of 4 Hats

We get our first glance at Ryuk in the latest poster for Netflix’s Death Note. 

The latest adaptation of the ever popular manga and anime, it’s making its way to Netflix. We finally get our first glance at Ryuk on the latest poster. Death Note follows a high school student who comes across a supernatural notebook, realizing it holds within it a great power; if the owner inscribes someone’s name into it while picturing their face, he or she will die. Intoxicated with his new godlike abilities, the young man begins to kill those he deems unworthy of life. Directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest), Death Note will premiere globally on Netflix August 25.