Stephen King is a writer I have a lot of admiration for. As a devout horror fan and horror-writer myself, I have a certain respect for any writer who shares that infatuation. In King’s case, I also respect him for ambition, range, and talent. Certain “academics” might chastise him, comparing him negatively to other mainstream writers, but I am happy to call myself a fan, with The Green Mile (a non-horror, who’d have thought?) serving as my personal favorite. Obviously, with successful books comes the intent for successful movies, and with the IT film grossing over seven-hundred million dollars, I would suspect King adaptations will continue to be all the rage (in-fact, in the time it took me to write this, a Children of the Corn trilogy has been released, they’ve remade Carrie again, and a Sleeping Beauties film has been greenlit). Although I’m sure some anticipated it more, for me, Gerald’s Game came out of nowhere. Arriving on the Netflix streaming service, Gerald’s Game brings director Mike Flanagan back to the platform. He’s a talented genre director. Oculus was decent, Hush was decent, Ouija: Origin of Evil was decent, and … Before I Wake was … well, three is enough. Does Gerald’s Game amount to another solid outing, how does it stack with other King adaptations, does it flounder in my Search for the Best Horror film or does it flourish? Here are my thoughts …
I was excited when the second season of Stranger Things was announced, especially now after the “Very Good” first season showed the quality I should expect. The laws of diminishing often apply to sequels, but I can’t say that I was very worried about The Duffer Brothers’ latest iteration. Instead, my only concern was returning to the likable cast of characters and coming back to where we left off.
The current critical consensus I’ve found from a vocal majority of horror-fans and casual-audiences is that Stranger Things 2 is a fun, but significant declination in quality from its predecessor. However, in my first viewing of the new season, when I discussed it on The Mishmash Podcast, I claimed it to be either superior or on-par with the first season. Before, I hadn’t watched both seasons back-to-back, but now that I can say I’ve done that, does my opinion still hold? Here are my thoughts …
On the aftermath of last season's The Canes Files, The Canes Awakens follows The Life and Crimes of Detective Barker and The Adventures of Vulpecula once more.The Fox Detective's "adventures" have taken an ugly turn since arriving in Urgway, and now, replacing Sanec Barker in the Marybeth Police Department, it's only likely to worsen. His search for stability could very well be what causes his own foundations to collapse. Detective Sanec Barker, on the other-hand, is in search, not of stability, but of power, looking to climb the political ranks of Urgway, and willing to do whatever it takes to do so. In doing so, he will also have to come face-to-face with the extreme prejudice plaguing all of Maharris.A story shared across twelve unique episodes, The Canes Awaken makes for a darker, more in-depth sequel.
In doing my “Search for the Best Animation and Best Animators,” I knew I would have to eventually dabble into the Toy Story franchise. In a weird way, talking about John Lasseter’s directorial debut feels overwhelming to me. I have reviewed over 200 films on Mishmashers and yet I’ve only talked about two Pixar animated films in the five years’ worth of reviews I’ve archived (those being Coco and Incredibles 2). And, as watchable as those films might have been, the amount of deeply embedded nostalgia I have with the Toy Story series is only rivaled by my infatuation with the horror series’ like A Nightmare on Elm Street I was brought up on. The difference between Toy Story and, say, A Nightmare on Elm Street, however, is in my expectations for it. Although I love the Elm Street series, I’ve never been coy about sharing my criticisms with it. I love it, but I know it isn’t without its mistakes, and sometimes there’s even a lot of them. Toy Story, on the other-hand, is simply one of the most beloved film series’ ever, and one that has had ever film receive critical-acclaim. This review commemorates the first time I’ve watched Toy Story from start to finish since the release of Toy Story 3, has the film aged like fine wine or like milk? Here are my thoughts…
Stranger Things is a science-fiction horror series that feels like it came out of scenic nowhere, created, written, and directed by the Duffer Brothers, the first season wowed audiences and the series has become one of the flag-ship programs for the Netflix streaming service. I can still remember when I first discovered the series, as a matter of fact, it was the first series I ever watched with my soon-to-be-wife. Pretty cool. The series went right along with my interests, but, for some reason, it took me much longer to watch it than it should have. The first season brings known names like Winona Ryder and David Harbour, as well as a young-cast that includes Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Natalia Dyer, and many other faces I hadn’t seen before. With everything it has going for it and all of the positive acclaim it has received from audiences and critics alike, the question to ask is whether or not it is really up to snuff or merely a product of us enjoying the nostalgic aesthetics. Here are my thoughts …
Spider-Man has had a very interesting time as far as his strides in the video-game medium are concerned. My journey playing as the web-crawler began with Spider-Man on the Original PlayStation (or on the PC, which is where I played it), a fun action-adventure I hold a lot of fond memories for. Admittedly, I haven’t played Spider-Man “2000” in over a decade, but I always regarded it as a benchmark for superhero video-games released in that time-period. (Mind you, Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro, which I’ve played in the current decade was not something I’d recommend.) Not unlike the PlayStation outing, the same could be said about Spider-Man 2, the video-game adaptation of the Sam Raimi film, which I also held in very high-regard. Since then, Spider-Man has had highs and lows, highs like Spider-Man: Web of Shadow and Shattered Dimensions, and lows like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man: Edge of Time. Some of the outings weren’t horrid, so much so as they aren’t up to the standard players are looking for, especially when it has been a decade since Rocksteady set the bar so high with Batman: Arkham Asylum. Marvel’s Spider-Man brings Insomniac Games on-board, a notable and very talented team of developers that have brought us series’ like Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet & Clank. If there was ever a chance for Spider-Man to return to form and even evolve, it was with this game, which begs the question: Does it? Here are my thoughts …
Antz is an animated film in DreamWorks Pictures’ early catalog of films but have actively ignored all opportunities to watch. I was aware of the star-studded cast comprised of names like Christopher Walkin, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone, and, of course, our morally ambiguous lead-voice Woody Allen. Dreamworks’ first animated film was directed by Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson. The film is notorious in some respects because its similarities with Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, and these similarities amounted to a public feud between Dreamworks and Disney as a result. Considering this film came out in 1998, I was oblivious to most of the actual conflict, because I was a toddler. However, even as a child, it was easy to find the parallels between each film. I loved A Bug’s Life as a kid, but I avoided Antz like the plague, a prejudice that has kept me from watching the film until now.
Although both films received very positive critical reception, A Bug’s Life hit far higher numbers at the worldwide box-office, whereas, Antz was, at best, a modest box-office success, depending on where the actual production budget lands, with estimates as low as forty-million and as high as one-hundred million, the discrepancy is very large. Looking back, now that I can say I’ve given it a chance, had I been mistreating Antz all these years? Here are my thoughts …
I wasn’t very excited when I first heard the announcement of Crackdown 3, which was first announced back in 2014. I had completed the first Crackdown and found it satiable enough entertainment. I even purchased and played Crackdown 2, which I can’t honestly remember a single thing about. I’ve heard a lot of gamers refer to Crackdown as a product of its generation, which I disagree with, because I think the central core of what Crackdown is dated much further back than that. What I mean is, even when the first video-game arrived on the Xbox 360, Crackdown already felt very simple and like a callback to the mindless running around that Grand Theft Auto had already evolved from before it even left the PlayStation 2. When Crackdown 3 was announced in 2014, I didn’t care very much, and with its release, about half a decade later, I still can’t say I was very enthusiastic about it. Regardless, with Crackdown 3 arriving on the Xbox Game Pass subscription service on-launch, I decided to dabble into it, ignoring the barrage of negative reviews and criticisms, and really, only hoping for an enjoyable couple of hours before it was deleted from my Library and forgotten. Does Crackdown 3 fail at meeting even the minimum of expectations, or is it dead on arrival? Here are my thoughts…
The How to Train Your Dragon series has been a beacon of light for Dreamworks Animation and has become one of my all-time favorite animated series’. In the early 2000s, Dreamworks Animation started the millennium my introducing us to Shrek, an enjoyable and creative animation that showed what Dreamworks was capable of with the right idea. I believe the 2004 sequel even improved on its predecessor, both in-terms of quality and definitely in-terms of box-office reception, grossing nearly a billion dollars. Unfortunately, the decade thereafter wasn’t as kind to the Shrek franchise, dulling the shine from Dreamworks’ most consistent money-maker. Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After damaged the brand and the ogre has seemed reclused to his swamp since then, which might be for the best. Fortunately, the How to Train Your Dragon series has really taken the torch from Shrek in this decade, showing Dreamsworks operating at all cylinders. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World marks the third and (allegedly) final installment in the near decade old series, and while I had no doubt that I would enjoy it on some level, I was a little leery on whether it would be able to provide a send-off as strong as its predecessors. Here are my thoughts …
I can remember when I saw The Lego Movie in theaters. I was a lot less selective when it came to the films I sat through, (a double-movie night with Fifty Shades of Grey and SpongeBob: Sponge Out of Water? Sign me up!) and even though I’ve never liked the Lego video-games or other times the Lego brand has pursued things other than … Legos, I went ahead and watched the film. As fate would have it, The Lego Movie was a very good film, in-fact, according to the review I wrote nearly half a decade ago about it, The Lego Movie was a great film. Although I had expected a suitably satiable fare existing solely to sell plastic-blocks to children, I was pleasantly warmed by a film with creativity, a sense of humor, and heartful sentiment. Bolstering a conservative production budget of around sixty-million dollars, which is very small for an animated film, for a comparison, that same month, Dreamworks released Mr. Peabody & Sherman with well more than double the production budget, The Lego Movie launched Warner Bros. Animation’s first major franchise.
A few years later, The Lego Batman Movie arrived, and once more I had my reservations only to be surprised by a very funny, entertaining film. The Lego Batman Movie did serve as a bad omen in-terms of the series’ box-office prospects, however. The Lego Movie made nearly half a billion at the box-office, whereas The Lego Batman Movie struggled to reach three-hundred million. Thankfully, Warner Bros. stayed conservative with the budget, which kept Lego Batman as financially successful, but they had to have second-thoughts about that Lego Ninjago film they greenlit. Admittedly, I haven’t seen The Lego Ninjago Movie, which makes sense, considering no one else has seen it either. The Lego Ninjago Movie made less than half of what The Lego Batman film did, failing to break-even, amounting to the first box-office misfire in the series. Through overexposure and the law of diminishing returns, it should come as no surprise the sequel to the film that start the series in the first place would be met with apathy and diluted anticipation. Having to fight tooth-and-nail to reach one-hundred million at the domestic box-office, a paltry total compared to its predecessors near three-hundred million (when adjusted for inflation), the series has been an underdog in mainstream animation from the start. But does the film dwindle the goodwill of its predecessor or depend to heavily on it, or was the film unfortunately overlooked? Here are my thoughts …
- Perfect (10 outta 10)
- Great (9 outta 10)
- Very Good (8 outta 10)
- Good (7 outta 10)
- Above Average (6 outta 10)
- Decent (5 outta 10)
- Below Average (4 outta 10)
- Bad (3 outta 10)
- Very Bad (2 outta 10)
- Horrible (1 outta 10)
- Godawful (0 outta 10)