Monday, July 6, 2015

Moonlight Movie Reviews - Terminator Genisys, Inside Out, and a few classics at the Drafthouse (Part 1)

Time for more "so late they're practically pointless" movie reviews!

Incidentally, I've considered doing video reviews in my car with whomever I'm with immediately after seeing films. Do you guys think that would just come off like too much of a Cinema Snob ripoff? It's just that it would definitely be more timely and authentic. Having to write them usually means I end up posting super late like this. I saw "Inside Out" on opening night, and I'm barely gonna talk about it! Well, let me know on that. First though, I'm gonna talk about the new Terminator, which I saw the night before it's release date. Yeah, late on this one too, but I had a good reason that night that I'll keep to myself. My sister had a lot to say about this one though, and we talked about it in the car at length. She's a pretty huge fan of the first two films (though mainly of the original Kyle Reese). And, yeah, if you are somewhat new, in real life I have two sisters (I'm the middle child), one of which I'm roommates with, but in the Moonlight Motel comic strip, I don't have siblings. It just makes more sense with the inheritance setup that will get explained more in our first graphic novel, but I digress...  On to the movies!

Yep, saw the new Terminator last Thursday. Nope, I did not see the previous one. How many have there been? I saw the first three, I know that. Enjoyed them all, but my fave is the original. I saw this at the Alamo Drafthouse, of course, Lakeline in this case. Got to try some of their Caesar Salad with added chicken, and man, it was good. Didn't order it, but finished my sister's. I've been broke for two weeks cause of rent. It's really hurting my self esteem... and my stomach... I need to make more money. Sally Struthers, help me! Oh, um, here are some Drafthouse preshow samplings. Funny stuff!

Ha ha, good stuff. Especially that last one.
That was like a workout show or something!
Now, on to the serious business...

That's the new Sarah Connor, who's actually supposed to be the old Sarah Connor, as this is one of those sequel/remake/retcon type things. It's also the girl from Game of Thrones, and I call her that because I don't watch Game of Thrones, I watch Once Upon a Time. Wanna fight about it? I also watch Walking Dead, so shut the hell up. Anyway, having seen this, I'm officially ready to dive into Game of Thrones. This Sarah Connor is mad hot!

Anywho, as I mentioned, this is a sequel/remake/retcon kinda deal, much like the new Star Trek flicks (can they pull that sort of thing off WITHOUT time travel?), and honestly, I prefer that to a straight up remake. Call it a new timeline, a parallel dimension, or anything that loosely connects it to the originals and keeps them somehow alive within the current franchise. That's if you absolutely suck at making straight up sequels. This franchise, however, was all about time travel, so it was perfect for this sorta thing. The original film was about a killer robot called a Terminator that was sent from the future by the machines that had taken over the world to kill Sarah Connor, the mother of the future resistance leader, John Connor. To protect her, John sent his best friend and soldier, Kyle Reese, who turns out to be John's father in one of those time travel paradoxes that makes zero sense logically. This time around, the machines are ahead of the game, and we get to see a total rehash of the beginning of that first film, this time with more robots popping up left and right! Then, we get to the twist. Things have changed, and Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), is not the same person, because the past has been changed, and this Sarah Connor has been raised most of her life by a reprogrammed T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenneger) she calls Pops. Also, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is way more ripped and pretty (oy, typical; yeah, Sarah's hot, but she also has a good resemblance to the original, just in a modern and much hotter way). Anyway, the main baddie of the film soon turns up, and the big twist (not really a spoiler, but a twist) is that it's John Connor (Jason Clarke, Kyle and Sarah's son from the future, who has been transformed by the machines through some new nanotechnology they use in this one. The whole bunch meets up 2017, where the goal is, of course, to prevent Skynet from taking over the world!

"Terminator: Genisys" is nonstop sci-fi action, amazing effects, great nostalgia, and foxy stars. So why am I hearing that it's a flop? Well, I don't really know, because I enjoyed this one a lot. It's not perfect, but I enjoyed it a lot. Would I have enjoyed it less if Sarah Connor had been cast differently, probably, but I think I still would have at least liked it. The plot may not be the most original thing in the world, but this was hardly about the plot, it was about the action and effects (aaannd the nostalgia), and making John Connor the villain, ya gotta admit, was pretty clever.

Probably the biggest complaint about the film that I've heard is over the lack of chemistry between Sarah and Kyle, and a general dislike of the Kyle casting. It's tree, the pair doesn't have the best chemistry. But, honestly, I've seen waaay worse. I didn't find it flat out unbelievable. The way they commit to each other in the end is a bit over the top, particularly on Sarah's part, as you really don't get a sense that they've completely fallen in love or anything. It's true, this Kyle is not the actor Michael Biehn was in the first film, who totally made it believable (with Linda Hamilton's help), but seriously, he's not that terrible and I think a lot of the problem is similar to what makes 70's and 80's horror films work so well over current ones. You can use good looking people as your leads, but if they look like underwear models, it loses some of the believability. As for anything else bad about the film, the only other thing that bothered me, personally, was the whole thing about who gave Kyle Reese the info to go to 2017, which came to him as a childhood memory. In the end, they imply he did it himself, but, again, this paradox makes no sense, and in an even more annoying way than the whole thing about being John's dad. Oh, and who sent the guardian Terminator to take care of Sarah Connor! This is never explained that I can remember. I suppose that was being saved for a future installment though... I wonder if that will still happen, since this film could potentially not turn a profit, which I still say is a shame.

So, some folks were really bugged by the whole Kyle Reese thing; the casting, the romance, etc..., but I was okay with it, even if it wasn't the best. I mean, it wasn't enough to ruin the movie for me. The effects were awesome (the young Arnold in the beginning, that was AMAZING!), Schwarzenegger was just fantastic, and the pops aspect of the story was really funny and sweet, and it added a lot for me. Oh, and J.K. Simmons is in this! And he was awesome, as usual! I didn't have any issues with Jason Clarke, though some felt he was miscast, and I'm not sure why (except that he doesn't look like Christian Bale, ha). Matt Smith plays a repeatedly brief but crucial role as well, but the presence of a doctor (as a villain, no-less) does seem to disturb Whovians.

Whoa, I just remembered there was a Terminator TV series with (yowza) Summer Glau. I wonder if that's part of the film's continuity or what. I wonder if it's any good or even still on! Anyway, as for Genisys,  I do very much recommend this one if you like the franchise and dig nonstop action. No, it's not as excellent a film as the original by any means. It's a popcorn action/sci-fi film that is a great addition to the franchise though, and just a fun time at the movies. Check it out!

And I'll be back in a little bit with part two, featuring Inside Out (and Lava)!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Prepping for Wizard World Texas - Vistaprint Business Cards Review

Unloading a lot tonight. I guess that long overdue Inside Out review will have to wait one more day, but here's my last video review for now. Received the business cards I ordered from Vistaprint. Here's the result....

Monty's Moonlight Snacks - Larry the Cable Guy's Git-R-Done Grub - Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Found something weird at the local Dollar Tree for my latest video review...

Monty's Toy Box - Jurassic World Velociraptor Blue Video Review

Hey gang, we're trying something new here! Video reviews! At least once in a while, for a few things. Sometimes, the reviews might be done by me, Monty, as with this one, and other times by Nathan Lee James, creator of this site. This first one is an action figure review, and we highly recommend visiting the actual YouTube video page to view it. You can comment there and subscribe to our channel, give the video a thumbs-up and everything that way. As for the article I was planning to write about toy collecting soon, I still intend to get to that at some point. But, got a lotta thing to post before that. For example, I saw Inside Out on the day it came out. Hopefully, I'll get to writing that overdue review tonight also. Laters!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Moonlight Movie Reviews - The Lost World

Saw a big one last weekend, folks...

If you haven't heard, there's a new "Jurassic Park" film out there right now, the fourth installment, "Jurassic World". I went to see it Friday night at the Alamo Drafthouse Village location. Usually find myself at Lakeline, but I've been at the Village a lot lately. Works for me. Lakeline is newer, and nicer in that respect, but Village is much closer to me. But, I digress. Popped in, ordered my usual, the highly appropriate Carnivore pizza with a couple sides of parmesan, and a Coke, and settled in for the preshow clips, which I always love...

And then, a hush filled the theater.
We were all going back... to Jurassic Park.

Man, LOVED that shot in the film. Who wouldn't wanna do that? Take a boat ride down a river with gorgeous, herbivorous dinosaurs drinking along the shore. What an amazing theme park ride that would be! Universal, you need to recreate this scene EXACTLY! And, no, a Jungle Cruise style boat would NOT be the same experience.

As you can see, and as you probably already knew, in THIS movie, the park is officially open for business! Yep, masses of people are traveling to Jurassic Park to ride rides on which they interact and observe all varieties of live dinosaurs. That alone is a fascinating thing to see. I knew it would be, when so many people were saying to me, "I don't know if this new Jurassic Park movie is going to be good." I was just thinking, "I'd pay just to see how the park works!" But then, two things I should say about myself: One, I LOVE theme parks, though not really for the thrill rides (and most specifically, the Disney parks, though I'm trying out Universal later this year); and Two, I actually liked all the previous Jurassic Park films to varying degrees.

This time around, the story focuses on four characters in particular. There are two brothers who are visiting the park alone, as there parents decided to stay home and get divorced instead. You know, to surprise them! Yay! The kids are teenage Zach and little brother Gray, who happen to be the nephews of park operations manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard). Claire is a bit overwhelmed with having to take care of her visiting nephews while also trying to woo investors with the park's latest creation, a gene-spliced dinosaur hybrid that is, essentially (SPOILER ALERT) a raptor bigger than a T-Rex! With lots of other stuff mixed in. When said dinosaur suddenly escapes its pen, she calls on the help of the park's raptor trainer, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), who is having his own troubles fending off a team from InGen committed to trying to militarize Grady's trained raptors. As you can imagine, with this new super-dinosaur on the loose, it becomes quite dangerous to be a park guest, especially for Zach and Gray, who have wandered off on their own. It becomes up to Owen and Claire to locate them AND find a way to stop the rampaging monstrosity that is killing everything it runs across simply for the fun of it!

Now, how was the movie, you're all asking... Well, those of you who haven't seen it. Okay, here's my take on it. Honestly, best Jurassic Park movie since the original! Truly! BUT, keep in mind, it's the best because of the fun, action, the awesome visuals, the crazy, wacky, insane happenings that go on in this park that should never have (and would never have) been allowed to open up in the first place! This film is a thrill ride from beginning to end! So much of it, yes, is requires suspension of disbelief. I mean, how do you survive long enough to be great at training Raptors?! But, damn, this movie is entertaining! The cast is great, but it's a very different dynamic from the previous films. If this one lacks anything, and it does, it's that great quality that Dr. Grant, Dr. Malcolm, and Dr. Sattler brought to the previous films. The passion and wonder, the heavy, intelligent, philosophical dialogue, and even just the fact that they were there from the beginning, their presences were all missed. There is one scene reminiscent of the original film's triceratops scene, only super-duper sad, and that is sure to bring a tear to your eye. But, the rest of the film is mostly about getting shit done! It works though! It is not as perfect as the original film, but it is super, super awesome anyway! There are scenes one wants to go into detail about, but it would ruin the movie for ya! All the dinosaurs are fantastic though, that gorgeous theme is back, this is a serious good time! 

There WAS one character I really didn't get: The park's owner, Simon Masrani. I mean, it was so hard to get a read on what this character was supposed to be. They'd give him lines that seemed like he was supposed to be a badass or something, but ultimately, he was such an awkwardly cast, nothing character. It seemed he had little point except to be the instigator that Hammond once was, as Masrani called for the bigger, better attractions and hounded the overly stressed Claire. I suppose that's purpose enough for a character, but it was hard to tell how we were supposed to feel about this guy, in my opinion. At least, for the first half of his screentime. Just felt like this role needed a more recognizable or dynamic actor or something. But, for all I know, this guy's really famous. Never seen him before, myself.

Anyway, that's really all I have to say on this one. It was a really great time. It was similar to the first one if you took out the intellectual stuff, so... not as great, but still really great, because the action was more interesting and the visuals more fresh than the stuff in the sequels. Setting this in a fully functioning park just brought such a new and fascinating situation to this series. If you're able to go into this without nitpicking about what is believable, you are going to have an AMAZING time!

We loved the film so much, we even picked up the Drafthouse's new Jurassic World Pint Glasses! Very cool, Alamo! I really love this new thing they're doing of selling pint glasses of some of their movies! I so regret missing out on the Princess Bride one that came out first! Right now, I believe they also have Ted 2 and Minions glasses. I think there was a Hot Tub Time Machine 2 pint glass they actually gave for free, but I don't know if that was from their Drafthouse line or what. Myself though, I'm usually gonna be going for the classics, so I hope we see more of them, like with Princess Bride (which was supposed to get two more glasses; would like to land at least one!). I'm particularly hoping for a Teen Wolf or American Werewolf in London glass, myself! Or the Burbs! I'd get the occasional new film one too though, depending on the movie. Like Star Wars Episode 7 or Inside Out or something, but a Goonies or Monster Squad glass, that nostalgic stuff is really special! Ha. Now, if only we hadn't missed the Drafthouse's other big promo for this flick! The live raptor visiting the theater during certain showings! Argh! Yes, they did that! Anyway, see ya next time!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Moonlight Movie Reviews - Insidious Chapter 3 (and a couple old ones I forgot)

It's that time again...

Gotta love a poster with this tagline...

Last Thursday, I took in an early screening of the latest film in one of my favorite horror franchises from recent years. So far, I've enjoyed all three films in the "Insidious" series, not to mention their sister films, "The Conjuring" and "Anabelle" (the former of those two films being far superior to the latter, but Anabelle has some fantastic scares and creepiness). A lot of people did not like "Insidious Chapter 2". Admittedly, it is one that took repeat viewings for me to fully appreciate, but part of it is accepting it for not so much of a horror movie as a paranormal/sci-fi fantasy. In other words, it's not very scary, but it's a good movie anyway, one particular line not withstanding. "Insidious Chapter 3," however, takes things back to full on horrific. 

So, I went to the Lakeline Drafthouse on Thursday evening, ordered up some food, and settled in for a good scare. I even tried something different this time. Instead of pizza, I ordered the Fish and Chips, which had been recommended to me. I also ordered hot wings. I didn't take any preshow shots this time, but I do have an analysis of the food for you. The wings, which I just chose in the HOT variety, were fantastic. They actually came near the end of the film, because someone back there forgot to make them. This worked out fine though, because A. I wasn't charged for them, and B. They ended the meal on a high net. See, the Fish and Chips was (were?) good, but I tend to like stronger flavors. I actually liked the fish very much, but the fries didn't do much for me. Admittedly, I can be finicky about french fries, and I might not like some that others might love. The Fish and Chips were tasty, but not that exciting, especially not the fries. The wings were exceptional, though I have ordered them before, and like with the pizza, I guess sometimes it comes out better than other times (though usually excellent). Anyway, that's all I have to say about that. Friday, I am going to see Jurassic World, and I'll be getting my Carnivore Pizza again, as usual. I'll miss the wings though, but I can't afford both, ha. Anyone else think I should get free Drafthouse wings for a lifetime due to all the promoting I do for them here? Heck, let's just say free meals in general. "Mr. Moonlight, your money's no good here! It's on the house! Forever!" Anywho, on to the film...

How 'bout that? 

I should mention, I didn't know going in that Insidious 3 was going to be a prequel to the original film. The last one ended with the very beginning of a brand new case, so I always expected a follow-up film to continue from there. Well, nope, maybe next time. This one is about a case that took place shortly before the first film. It follows a teenage girl about to graduate from high school who is missing her recently deceased mother. The girl, Quinn Brenner, played by Disney Channel's Stefanie Scott, has been trying to contact her mother's spirit, and decides to turn to medium Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye)for help. Elise reluctantly makes an attempt, but discovers an evil entity is trying to take control of Quinn. Elise then chases Quinn off to return to her own life of seclusion since the recent loss of her husband. She has stopped using her powers due to threats from one entity in particular, and this latest experience has only fed her fears more. Shortly after that, Quinn is in an accident and finds herself with both her legs in casts. This makes her the perfect prey for the dark spirit that she's attracted to herself. The evil force proceeds to torment Quinn and downright attempt to kill her repeatedly, until Quinn's father, Sean Brenner (Dermot Mulroney), must seek out Elise and convince her to save Quinn from this ghost bent on murder. 

There's the basics. So, anyways...

"Insidious Chapter 3" is a film I greatly enjoyed. There are things I can nitpick about, but overall, not much. There are times when I don't love Lin Shaye's acting. However, much of the time she is great, and it's neat to see her kicking a little ass in this flick. I remember when there were a lot of complaints about there being no lead roles for older women in film. I think things have definitely changed in that department these days. This is as much Lin's movie as Stefanie Scott's, but both do a fantastic job keeping you invested in the film. I admit, I was worried a few times in this film that it was going to go down a road I didn't like. Stefanie's character, oh, wait, hang on. Let me say something. She is super hot in this. I mean, she was cute on the Disney Channel, which is the only place I've seen her before, but she looks way better here than as a blonde. Wow, she looks great in this movie. Okay, where was I? For the record, that is not the only reason you feel for her character. Stefanie does fantastic in this film. But, yeah, I was saying, boy, she gets it brutally from the evil spirit in this movie, and for a while I started to worry, "Is this going to be 'Passion of the Christ' or something?" I realize there's a market for films about nothing more than brutalizing women, but that is NOT my thing. Thankfully, that was not the entire plot and runtime of this film, and when all was said and done, it only really enhanced the concern and fear we felt for this character. Some of those scenes where she is alone and being attacked, they are truly terrifying. One scene in particular comes to mind. 

Something else that had me worried at one point was that the film was just going to fall into a formula. Family being tortured by ghosts. Lin Shaye goes (or sends someone else) into "The Further" to confront it. This didn't turn out to be the whole thing though Yeah, looking back, it did happen, and maybe this is a patchwork of previous Insidious films and the Conjuring franchise, but if so, they did a fine job patching plot and plot devices together to make it seem like something new. Basically, whatever they did, it worked. The story is compelling and the scary stuff is mostly really scary, and you really feel strongly for the lead characters here. I mentioned that "Anabelle" had its strong points, but the characters were rather stiff and hard to connect with. That was not a problem here, Stefanie Scott does a wonderful acting job here, and the cast in general is great. Plus, yes, the Insidious comic relief duo is back, ghost-hunters Specs and Tucker, still in top form. That's another thing "Anabelle" could have used a hint more of, some lighthearted moments or characters. Though, again, I do like that film, aside from its lame climax, but its other big problems did come from the characters. No worries about that here though! And the villain is extremely creepy. This film hardly has anything to complain about at all. In fact, nothing really springs to mind, aside from the stinger right before the end credits. I don't like to give spoilers, but they do a bit at the end that is super scary, very reminiscent of something in the Exorcist, but then there is a jump scare that interrupts the already very scary visual. It's a moment when it brings back a character from the first film that, frankly, some people loved and some people thought was stupid looking, ha. I actually loved the character in that film, but I get why he doesn't work for some, and throwing him in at the last second was so unnecessary, especially since it kinda ruined a much scarier thing that was happening already. Oh well, it's not really that important.

So, yeah, I strongly recommend "Insidious Chapter 3" to anyone who is a fan of the series. If you're curious, but haven't seen the previous ones, you don't HAVE to see part two, but it would enhance your enjoyment to see part one first. However, it isn't necessary. There are lots of callbacks to it, this is essentially a prequel, but it also works well as its own story that doesn't rely on your knowledge of the other films.

And, that's "Insidious 3", but it turns out there were two other films I saw over the past several weeks that I completely forgot to talk about...


Okay, I'm gonna do this really quickly. You know the routine. It's a work night, these movies are old already, and I don't remember everything in perfect detail. Heck, Spongebob is on home video already. Still, if you're wondering if you should spend the dough to buy or rent them, maybe I can help. Er, at least, here's what I thought of them, ten peso version.

Spongebob Movie - Sponge out of Water: This is the second Spongebob movie, I think. Spongebob is something I only watch now and then. I think it's pretty funny, I enjoy it, but I'm not an avid watcher, I'm a very casual one. I know the basics though. This movie plays a lot like a looong episode. It's very funny and there are some surprises here and there. Oh, here's a big one: It's not computer animated/live-action. Nope, that was a clever marketing LIE. I mean, it is during the climax of the film, but that is IT. It's a story about a big plot by Plankton to get the Krabby Patty recipe. The whole thing is being told to some seagulls by a live-action pirate known as Burger Beard, played by Antonio Banderas. These are some really great and funny moments in the film. I did enjoy it and do recommend it to Spongebob fans, either hardcore or casual, but know that they were and still are lying in the marketing for this film, They are only showing the scenes with computer animated Spongebob and friends. That is only the climax of the film. It's entertaining and cool, but it is not the bulk of the film, which looks a lot like a regular episode. Maybe a little better. I don't watch it ENOUGH to say for certain.

It Follows: I remember seeing this horror flick played up a lot in its ad campaign as something really cool and oldschool, and yet very mysterious as to the plot. When I went to see it, the pre-show had me thinking I was gonna see a horror film about VD that was something like Cabin Fever. Not good when you have a pizza comin'. Luckily, that was only half right, if even that. Basically, the film is about a succubus, and it ends up coming after you much like a sexually transmitted disease, because that's how it's passed on. If you have sex with someone the thing is stalking, it will start stalking you, and that other person is in the clear until it gets the most recent person to have sex in the line. So, if you want to postpone the creature killing you, you have sex with someone else so it'll get off your back for a while. In the film, a girl of around 18, 19, or so (if I remember correctly) who is very attractive, and also maybe a little promiscuous? I know that makes me sound like an old fuddy duddy, but how else can you put it? But, nowadays, it seems like everyone is. Except for those like myself, who couldn't even get a date by paying for it. So, I'm not sure the word "promiscuous" really means anything anymore, but I guess its hinting at being a horror film that is down on premarital sex is part of why this film gets a lot of cred for being oldschool. That, and the very cool fact that it takes its time, making itself very atmospheric and creepy. It's a very effective horror film. Oh, and the creature, it can look like anyone it wants, including people you know. Yeah, it's a pretty intense movie. I can get behind the idea that it is kinda like on oldschool horror film, and it's very good over all. It does have one issue though. Besides the fact that watching people half my age have frequent sex like it's a handshake is incredibly frustrating when I'm still fantasizing about finding someone who will makeout with me. No, the problem with this one is that it lacks any fun factor. Remember how Lauri Strode's friends in "Halloween", or all those kids in the Friday the 13th films, had great or at least vibrant personalities and were highly entertaining and fun to be around? Just like in the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, the young people in "It Follows", until shit gets real, they're just laying around being Abercrombie models. They really don't have much personality. At least, they don't have very entertaining ones. They're not very likable or relatable. They're kinda just... there. I mean, the situation is fascinating enough and gets thrilling enough that you gradually get invested, but really, these are some boring kids when they're not being slutty. The movie, however, is not boring. I'm just pointing out something that would have made it waaay better and waaaay more oldschool. As it is, it's a great film once things get scary, but before that, it's not fun, it's just... there. It is worth watching once it does get going though. I recommend it, I just wish they'd fix that issue first. I realize a lot of people nowadays just lay on the couch getting stoned and giving each other no-strings-attached handies (and everything else), but when you're watching that in a movie, it makes the characters kinda pathetic. Ha, but seriously, the movie is good. Maybe the world wouldn't have been losing much if these characters got killed, but it still turns into a spooky right once things get going.

And that's it for now. I really gotta get to bed. Laters!