Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Retro Movie Review: The Lost Boys (1987 – R – 97 minutes)

The fourth of my Halloween-themed retro horror reviews has arrived!  A re-review of The Lost Boys, another 80s classic, filled with big-time 80s stars, big-time 80s hair, and some great big-time 80s music.

Lucy Emerson, recently divorced, moves her two sons with her to the small California town of Santa Carla to live with her father, who seems to be a bit off.  Michael and Sam begin to explore the town, hanging out at the boardwalk, which has a suspicious number of missing-persons fliers.  While Lucy gets a job at a local video store run by the kindly Max, Michael meets and becomes infatuated with Star, a young woman who seems to be dating the rebellious David.  David is the leader of a young gang of hoodlums who ride motorcycles around and basically do teenage-punk stuff.  Sam meets Edgar and Alan, the Frog brothers, who are a pair of young vampire hunters.  They give Sam some horror comics to educate him on the threats of the supernatural.

When Michael attempts to talk with Star, David steps in and bullies Michael a bit – what with some dangerous cliff-side motorcycling, and bizarre food options back at their lair.  Yes, they have a lair.  Come on Michael, how many red flags do you need?  They end the night with some railroad bridge jumping, and Michael suddenly wakes up at home the next day, a little foggy on the previous evening’s events, but with a beginning thirst for blood – which of course, thanks to his new comic-based knowledge, Sam recognizes.  Sam assists Michael in figuring out he is starting to turn, and since he has not yet killed anyone, he’s only a half-vampire – like Star – and he can be cured if they can just kill the head vampire.

Well, the Frog brothers are all about this plan, and think perhaps that Max is the head vampire.  They run tests on him when he comes over to the house for dinner with Lucy, but he passes all of them – the mirror, the garlic, the holy water and the crucifx – they run all the classics.  Since he passes the tests, they naturally assume that David is the head vampire, and set their sights on eliminating him.  Meanwhile, David attempts to push Michael along the transformation, and Michael learns that Star is in the same situation as he is.  Michael, getting weaker – helps Sam and the Frogs stage a final attack on the lair and the vampires to save both Michael and Star from turning completely.

Now, you’ll note I’m stopping there, and I’m not going to tell you who the head vampire is, just in case you haven’t seen this movie.  You should – it’s unintentionally (I think) hilarious, a little scary here and there, and really fun.  It’s directed by Joel Schumacher (yes, the man who put nipples on the Batsuit), who also was the director of other  80s “brat-pack” movies: St. Elmo’s Fire, and the original Flatliners.  The action is great, the comedy is great, and the music is great – but even better is the cast:
  • Jason Patric (no K) plays Michael, the hapless kid who just wants to fit in a new town, but definitely falls into the wrong crowd. In case you missed it, re-watch The Losers, and watch him terrorize Negan, Heimdahl, and Captain America.

  • Corey Haim plays Sam, and is really entertaining here as a kid determined to prevent his older brother from turning full vampire.  I can only hope my brother would do the same for me.

  • Dianne Wiest plays Lucy, and is trying her best to keep some sense of normalcy for her kids after moving them cross country.

  • Barnard Hughes plays the kids eccentric Grandpa, and thank goodness he is so eccentric.

  • Edward Herrmann (extra R and N) plays Max, and is so completely kind and wonderful as the suitor that Lucy gets taken with after the move.

  • Keifer Sutherland continues his string of sleezy 80s creeps in this movie after already nailing it in Stand By Me.  I can’t help it though, I did find him sexy in this role.

  • Jami Gertz plays Star, after playing opposite Jason Patric in Solarbabies (you should see that too), he recommended her for this role.

  • Corey Feldman plays Edgar Frog – and this is the first ‘Two Corey’s’ movie, so you can either credit it or blame it for that.  Hey, Dream a Little Dream was great! Jamison Newlander plays Alan Frog.

    • Billy Wirth plays Dwayne, one of the other vampire punks.

    • Alex Winter (yes, Bill) plays Marko, another vampire punk.

    Overall, if you’ve never seen this, then chances are you’re younger than me. It’s fun, it’s a classic – and that saxophone solo from the guy who was Tina Turner’s saxophone player!  Watch it again this Halloween.

    9 out of 10 – gained bonus points for the hair.  And for Grandpa’s last line.

    Sunday, October 29, 2017

    Retro Movie Review: Sleepy Hollow (R – 105 minutes – 1999)

    For the third of the four ‘horror’ movies I’m going to recommend for Halloween viewing this year – I’m going with Tim Burton’s 1999 Sleepy Hollow.  I’m not quite sure it’s horror, but it is the movie I tend to watch whenever I’m carving pumpkins, so I’m sure it fits the theme.

    The movie is set in 1799 when New York City police constable Ichabod Crane is sent to the quiet town of Sleepy Hollow which has been having a series of killings where the victim is found headless.  Crane swiftly learns the townsfolk believe the killer is an undead Headless Horseman – who is the ghost of a Hessian mercenary from the American Revolutionary War.  He comes up from his grave searching for his own missing head, and takes the head of whoever he comes across.
    Crane begins his investigation, being squeamish and resolved that whatever is happening is based in science, not lore or specters.  He is skeptical right up until the moment he encounters the horseman himself as it kills the town magistrate.

    Crane begins a flirtation with the daughter of the richest family in town, the Van Tassels.  Katrina Van Tassel may or may not know more than she is saying about what is going on.  Crane has to get to know the townspeople and their lurid history to figure out what exactly the horseman is, who is controlling him, and how to finally stop him.

    The movie is based on the legend and partially on the Disney movie, but is absolutely a Gothic Tim Burton-style flick. If you like his stuff, you probably love this.  The entirety of the town was constructed specifically for this movie so that Burton could have exactly the look he wanted.  It’s a completely beautiful movie with an interesting story and a wonderful cast. 

    • This is back when Johnny Depp and Tim Burton were still working well together and hadn’t fallen into self-indulgent pretentious nonsense. His take on Crane is as a man-of-science who is still very squeamish around blood, death, and the like. However, it really works here and Depp is a perfect fit for Burton’s gothic ‘hero’.  His romance with Katrina is a little unsettling based solely on the age difference between the actors.

    • Christina Ricci plays Katrina, and does a good job with a character that is obviously hiding something, but is perhaps not prepared for the ramifications of what she is hiding.

    • Miranda Richardson plays Lady Van Tassel, and is both elegant and creepy.

    • Casper Van Dien plays Brom Van Brunt, a hapless dolt in the town. 

    • Michael Gambon plays Baltus Van Tassel, Jeffrey Jones plays Reverend Steenwyck, Richard Griffiths plays Magistrate Philips, Ian McDiarmid plays Doctor Lancaster, and Michael Gough plays Notary Hardenbrook – filling out the townsfolk with some amazing actors.

    • Christopher Walken plays the Hessian in flashbacks to when he had a head, which basically is him growling and leering at folks with sharp teeth.

    • Lisa Marie plays Crane’s mother in his own flashbacks, in which Christopher Lee also appears as the ‘burgomaster’.

    I really enjoy the movie, it’s creepy and weird, but also beautiful and elegant, and it’s another movie where the cast elevates the material.  Side note – if you didn’t watch Sleep Hollow on Fox, you missed a great show, with an interesting twist on the story.  I believe the first two seasons are on Netflix, and it’s definitely worth a watch.

    8 out of 10 – A Great Halloween party flick!

    Wednesday, October 25, 2017

    Movie Review: the Foreigner (R – 114minutes)

    Stephen Leather wrote and released a thriller novel in 1992 called “the Chinaman”.  It was converted into a movie this year and released starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan.  From what I can tell, the movie stays pretty close to the novel.

    When the movie opens, Ngoc Minh Quan appears to be your run-of-the-mill Chinese immigrant in London, owning and operating a restaurant, and picking up his daughter from school.  He takes her to buy a dress for an upcoming dance, when a bomb goes off in the street, killing her along with several others. Quan, despondent at losing the only family he has left, checks with Scotland Yard officer Richard Bromley daily, who has no information aside from a group called the “Authentic IRA” has claimed responsibility.  Unwilling to let it go, and determined to get justice – or perhaps revenge, Quan continues to pursue the issue, reaching out to Irish minister Liam Hennessy, who used to have IRA ties.  From this point on, the movie has almost two parallel storylines as Quan pursues Hennessy for answers and Hennessy tries to find answers on his own.  Eventually, both find the answers they were looking for, but not quite as they expected.

    I really enjoyed the movie, more so than I was expecting to.  Director Martin Campbell can be hit or miss for me, I loved GoldenEye, but didn’t really enjoy Casino Royale.  And while the Mask of Zorro was fantastic, he also did Green Lantern.  The Foreigner moves steadily, but not all that quickly, as everyone involved is searching for almost the same information in different ways.  The tension stays pretty high all the way through, and is maintained in interesting dialogue sequences and great action moments.  The cast is unexpectedly wonderful.
    • Jackie Chan plays Ngoc Minh Quan in a role that is very different from what we’re used to seeing him do.  His portrayal of a man who has just lost everything he loves in the world is beautifully tragic, and yet also completely and totally focused and determined to get justice for his daughter.  There’s less action scenes than he used to do, but it is still all him, and they are wonderful.

    • Pierce Brosnan plays Liam Hennessy, and does a great job of making you want to be on his side even when you start to question his motives.  He’s aging well, and plays this role just right.  I know he’s originally Irish, so the accent does fit pretty well, but does seem over-done at times.

    • Michael McElhatton plays Jim Kavanagh, who varies from Liam’s assistant to his henchman depending on the situation.

    • Liu Tao plays Keyi Lam, who helps Quan run the restaurant, and tries to steer him away from his quest for vengeance.

    • Charlie Murphy plays Maggie, Liam’s mistress – who, of course, is not exactly what she seems to be.

    • Orla Brady (if you’re not watching Into the Badlands, you should be!) plays Mary Hennessy, Liam’s wife – who also is not exactly what she seems to be.

    • Ray Fearon plays Commander Richard Bromley, and he’s exactly what he seems to be. He’s a hard-working officer, unsure how to help Quan, but also determined to solve the bombing.
    • Rory Fleck-Byrne plays Sean Morrison, Liam’s nephew and ex-Royal irish Ranger/UK Special Forces.  He is what he seems to be, and agrees to help his uncle track down Quan.

    • Lia Williams plays Katherine Davies, British minister and politician, who Liam has to report to, and tries to keep him in check.
    • Dermot Crowley plays Hugh McGrath and Niall McNamee plays Patrick O’Reilly, two of the “Authentic IRA”, carrying out these bombings throughout London.

    Overall, I definitely recommend this movie – it’s very serious and grim, not at all what you would expect from a Jackie Chan movie, but then, it’s not really a Jackie Chan movie.  He’s simply the audience’s entrance into the story.  It’s almost like Taken, or one of the old Charles Brosnan revenge flicks.

    8 out of 10 – ranking high because it was better than I expected.
    Cast Interviews!

    Monday, October 16, 2017

    Retro Movie Review: Dracula 2000 (R - 99 minutes – 2000)

    "Bram Stoker’s Dracula", with the exceptionally creepy-on-multiple-levels performance from Gary Oldman, was released in 1992.  In 2000, the aptly named Dracula 2000 was released, which can function as a sort-of pseudo-sequel.  It's nowhere near as good, but certainly entertaining.

    The story follows a descendant of the legendary Abraham Van Helsing, who owns and is working in an antique shop in London.  One night, his secretary allows her boyfriend and his hoodlum friends into the shop to steal things. Oddly, they find a high security vault and inside, a sealed silver coffin.  Due to the security around the item, and because they are stupid, the thieves assume it’s very valuable, so despite the booby traps having already killed one of them, they take it and head to New Orleans, because when you steal coffins, that’s what you do. Van Helsing follows them to get it back, requesting that his apprentice, Simon, stays in London.  Simon follows to New Orleans, because that will advance the plot.

    The thieves continue to be stupid and so open the coffin on the plane, revealing the also-legendary Count Dracula.  Free, he attacks the thieves, and causes the plane to crash in the swamp.  He heads to downtown New Orleans and encounters college students Mary Heller and Lucy Westerman.  Coincidentally, Mary has been having sexy Dracula dreams.
    Van Helsing and Simon get to New Orleans and start eliminating the newly turned vampires that Dracula has been leaving around.  Van Helsing tells Simon he’s not just a descendant, but in fact the original Abraham Van Helsing. After defeating Dracula in 1897, Van Helsing has been keeping him prisoner, watching over his body to ensure he will not get free and prolonging his own life with injections of Dracula blood, gotten via leeches, attempting to live long enough to learn a way to kill Dracula dead permanently (similar to what Setrakian was doing on the Strain). 

    Van Helsing tells Simon that Mary is his daughter, which is of course why she and Dracula are drawn to one another.  He and Simon try to reach Mary before Dracula, but he has already turned her roommate Lucy into a vampire, and made her one of his three new brides, because as you know, Dracula is all about having three vampire brides around whenever possible.  The brides are able to kill Van Helsing while Dracula captures Simon and Mary.  Transforming Mary, he reveals that he was Judas Iscariot, and because he betrayed Jesus, he was condemned to live forever as a vampire – which also explains the crucifix issue and the silver issue. Mary, able to keep her wits about her, works with Simon to overtake and kill the brides, then together they hang Dracula so that he burns when the sun rises.  Together, they put him back in his coffin and return him to the high security vault to keep watch over, until the next sequel.

    And yes, there were two direct to video sequels, Dracula II and Dracula III.  I can’t speak to the lack of quality of either of those, as I did not see them.  There is also a Dracula 3000, starring Casper Van Dien, Erika Elaniak, and Udo Kier which takes place in space. No, I'm not kidding. This one is questionable in terms of quality - Directed by Patrick Lussier (My Bloody Valentine, Drive Angry), It’s fast paced and sufficiently cheesy.  The reason I like it is the surprisingly good cast. 

    • Gerard Butler – back when he was Gerry – plays Dracula as angry, sexy, and cursed.  He’s always watchable, but if you want a little of him in something a little better, check out Reign of Fire.

    • Christopher Plummer plays Abraham Van Helsing, and really, chews the scenery in the best way, as an old man who is ready for this situation, but also upset by it.

    • Jonny Lee Miller plays Simon Sheppard, and is action packed and British.

    • Justine Waddell plays Mary Heller-Van Helsing, who gets to be mostly taken in by Dracula.

    • Vitamin C (remember when she was a thing?) plays Lucy, Jennifer Esposito plays Solina, and Jeri Ryan plays Valerie who get to slink around in white dresses as the three brides.

    • Omar Epps plays Marcus; Sean Patrick Thomas plays Trick; Danny Masterson plays Nightshade; Lochlyn Munro (who is that guy you’ve seen in everything) plays Eddie; and Shane West plays JT.

    • Nathan Fillion, yes that Nathan Fillion, plays Father David.

    Overall, the movie is perfectly silly with a cast that you know, just that you didn’t know were in this.  Check it out again this Halloween season, because of all the Dracula movies out there, why not check out one you totally forgot about?

    6 out of 10, it’s not great, but it’s fun!

    Friday, October 13, 2017

    Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049 (R – 164 minutes)

    Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, a movie based on the Philip K. Dick novel “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” was released in 1982.  It was long, dark, slow, dystopian, and considered by many to be epic.  Scott, not happy with the first cut, released a director’s cut, and then there was another cut released after that – and possibly several others.  I’ve seen it, but never all the way through in one sitting.  The story is set in 2019 and revolves around former police officer Rick Deckard, a ‘Blade Runner’, who tracks down and ‘retires’ (kills) escaped bioengineered beings called replicants.  They’re not quite robots, and a step above androids, and some of them think they are human on account of implanted memories. While Deckard hunts down and works to eliminate Roy the replicant and others, he falls for a replicant from the Tyrell corporation named Rachel. He and Rachel end the movie together, even though as a replicant, she will have a shortened life span.

    The follow-up, set in 2049, follows replicant Blade Runner K who is a newer, more obedient model.  He doesn’t even mind when his co-workers call him a ‘skin job’.  He’s doing just fine with his job, his tough-as-nails boss, his tiny apartment and his holographic girlfriend.  He is hunting down and retiring older model replicants, which leads him to investigate a growing replicant freedom movement.  K encounters Sapper Morton (an old Nexus Model 8 replicant) on a farm, Sapper is disappointed a replicant is hunting other replicants, and claims that it is because K has “never seen a miracle.” K retires Sapper, and learns there is a box buried in the yard, sends word to his boss, who sends back a digging team.  They find bones in the box, and learn they are from a woman who died in childbirth, but is also a replicant, which should not be possible.

    We’re also introduced to Niander Wallace, who has gotten the Tyrell Corporation back up and running with the new, more obedient, replicants.  He’s disappointed that he can’t make them reproduce, because he’s all about a slave race of manual laborers. He’s so disappointed he slashes a new one through the abdomen despite being blind. I really did not understand the point of this sequence other than just to prove this guy is the heavy. He sends his assistant, Luv (a replicant) to track down K and the ‘child’ that K is searching for.  Meanwhile, K is starting to lose control of his emotions, failing a base line test, going on the run, and following the lead he gets from a tiny wooden horse to an orphanage, to a memory builder, and back.

    Eventually, while being pursued by Luv and her crew, K heads out to the remains of future Las Vegas, to find Deckard, who is now living basically in exile with what may or may not be a real dog.  K has figured out that the child was the product of Deckard and Rachel, and is now looking to find the child, having been commanded to ‘retire’ it.  Luv needs to take it back to Wallace so that he can dissect and analyze it to make all his other replicants capable of reproducing. K and Deckard have a fist fight through the remains of a casino which includes flickering Elvis holograms. Deckard is less than helpful, since he does not know where the child is, but that doesn’t stop Luv from overpowering K and snatching Deckard so K has to rescue him and attempt to get control of his slowly deteriorating calm demeanor.

    I won’t say much else, because there is a bit of twisty-turny surprise/non-surprise stuff that happens, and if you’re going to see it, it’s worth not knowing what is coming next.  I’m not sure I was surprised, but I was interested. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the movie has an ugly beauty to it, similar to Villeneuve’s Arrival.  The city is harsh and ugly, but the shots moving through it are wonderful.  The scenes out in the desert are equally hauntingly beautiful. The score is very interesting – at times crazy loud and booming, and in other places, quiet and creepy.  In terms of the performances, everyone does a really good job with some interesting characters:

    • Ryan Gosling plays K, and I was actually very impressed with his slow deterioration from calm and cool to obsessed and beginning to lose control.  He very much has to carry the movie, and he does a great job.

    • Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard again, and his old, grumpy persona works perfectly here.  Deckard is living out his days alone, not thrilled with the choice he made, but confident he made the right choice for his child. He is not in a lot of the movie, but the scenes he does have are chilling.

    • Ana de Armas plays K’s holographic girlfriend, Joi.  She seems to have a great deal of self-awareness, caring deeply for K, or at least is programed to care deeply for him. She helps guide him on his way, offering advice, and high level holographic companionship – to the point of hiring a hooker and ‘syncing’ with her so that she can physically be with K.

    • Dave Bautista continues to expand his skill set as Sapper Morton.  He’s very briefly in the movie, but he is the one who starts K on his investigation. Dave plays Sapper as old, tired, and very sad, while still being physically imposing. I hope he continues to get interesting roles like this.

    • Robin Wright plays K’s boss Lieutenant Joshi, who depends on K and trusts him enough to give him a head start when he fails his baseline test before other officers come after him.

    • David Dastmalchian has a very brief role as Coco the medical examiner. He has almost nothing to do, but I always find him interesting, so I wanted to mention him.

    • Sylvia Hoeks plays Luv – and I found her to be one of the most interesting characters.  She’s basically just Wallace’s henchwoman, but she really elevated that to be more interesting – does she think she’s human?  She certainly thinks she’s better than any other replicant.

    • Edward James Olmos has basically a cameo to reprise his role as Gaff, Deckard’s old partner. He helps K begin to track him down, while getting more origami in.

    • Jared Leto expands his repertoire of creepy with Wallace.  He is blind but seems to be using little hovering robots to assist in his vision when Luv pops a little electrical device behind his ear.  He also has very few scenes, and I still do not understand why we needed the scene of him killing his own brand new replicant. In a movie that’s almost three hours long, you do start to think about what could have been cut – and while it was some creepy character development, I’m not sure it was necessary.

    • Lennie James seems to have another cameo as Mister Cotton – a man who runs an ‘orphanage’ or, more accurately, a work camp for kinds who pull metals out of rubbish.  It is another really long sequence that was a bit unnecessary, aside from proving the reality of K’s implanted memories.

    • Barkhad Abdi from Captain Phillips (“I’m the captain now!”) plays Doc Badger, basically another cameo as he analyzes the wooden horse for K.
    • Carla Juri plays Dr. Ana Stelline – a doctor who has immune deficiencies and lives in isolation, but helps create the memories that are implanted into replicants.

    Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but I didn’t love the movie.  It is way too long.  It really could have benefited from being edited.  Yes, it looks amazing, and I was impressed by the story and the performances.  The settings, landscapes, and locations were amazing, as well as the costumes, makeup, and effects.  Keep this one in mind for all the technical categories for your office Oscar pool.

    7 out of 10 – Visually stunning with an interesting story, but way too long, a bit draggy in parts, and while the characters were interesting, I wasn't overly invested in any of them. 

    Bonus: Cast Interviews!