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What happens on the fourth day?


  • 10 Reasons Why Sharknado 2 Was Sharktastic!

    sharknado-2-poster

    Unless you’ve been living in total and complete isolation, you know that Sharknado 2 premiered on SyFy last night.  And of course, I watched and live tweeted it.  Now, when it comes Sharknado 2, it seems like everyone has one question: Was it better than Sharknado?

    The answer?

    Yes.  Yes, it was.

    Here are 10 reasons why Sharknado 2 was sharktastic!

    1) Action!  Action!  Action!

    Sharknado 2 didn’t waste any time getting to the point.  From the minute the film started with Ian Ziering and Tara Reid sitting in an airplane that’s hit some sharknado-related turbulence, Sharknado 2 was all about sharks falling from the sky.  The film didn’t waste any time revisiting the events of the previous film or trying to explain, for a second time, how a bunch of sharks ended up in a tornado.  And you know what?  If you were worry about the logic of the situation then you really weren’t the right audience for this film.  Sharknado 2 was a movie for those of us seeking nonstop shark mayhem and it delivered!

    2) Plenty of New York Attitude

    When the first sharknado hit Los Angeles, we were presented with a portrait of a town that deserved to be destroyed.  I mean — really, Los Angeles?  A little bad weather and a few sharks and your entire population is screaming and fleeing?  New York, however, knows how to handle a sharknado.  It didn’t matter how many sharks fell from the sky — the citizens of New York refused to allow it to stop them from enjoying baseball games, visiting the Statue of Liberty, and seeking out a good slice of pizza.  New York, you’re the tops!

    3) Tara Reid Showed Us How To Handle Losing A Hand

    I don’t know about you but if a shark fell out of the sky and bit off my hand, I would probably freak out.  Having watched Sharknado 2, I can say that I am definitely not as strong as Tara Reid.  Though she may have lost her hand early on in this movie, she never let it slow her down.  Not only did she defiantly walk out of the hospital but she also managed to drive a fire truck with only one hand!  I’ve got two hands and I don’t think I could do that.  Finally, as a perfect example of how to make lemonade out of lemons, she even replaced her missing hand with a radial saw that, as it turns out, was perfect for fighting sharks.  You go, girl!

    4) Ian Ziering Gave It All He Could

    In the first Sharknado, Ian seemed almost annoyed to be there.  You got the feeling that he felt that somehow, by appearing in a movie about flying sharks, he was somehow damaging his career.  In Sharknado 2, however, Ian brought a lot of conviction to his role.  Though it may be hard to understand if you haven’t seen the actual film, I’ll just say that you looked at and listened to Ian and you believed that this man had indeed been inside of a shark.

    IZ in Sharknado 2

    5) The Statue Of Liberty Lost Her Head

    And you better believe that head went rolling down the streets of New York.  I am a little bit disappointed that Ian never found a moment to stare up at headless Lady Liberty and shout, “You blew it up!  Damn you to Hell!” but oh well.

    6) Cameos Galore!

    Seeing as how the first Sharknado became a bit of a pop cultural phenomena, we should probably not be surprised that a lot of celebrities agreed to do cameos in the sequel.  What should surprise, however, is just how well the cameos were integrated into the film.  Whether it was Kelly Osbourne getting eaten by a shark or Matt Lauer and Al Roker arguing over the proper name for the storm (eventually, Matt did call it a sharknado and you can see just how happy Al was; it was a touching moment), all of the cameos worked brilliantly and, even more importantly, they didn’t distract from all of the shark mayhem.

    7) The Live Tweeters Were On Fire Last Night!

    Especially me!  Seriously, Sharknado 2 brought out the best in me.

    8) Ian Wasn’t The Only Actor Giving It His All

    To be honest, the entire cast brought their A game to Sharknado 2.  Everyone from Vivica A. Fox to Mark McGrath to Kari Wuhrer to Tara Reid to Judd Hirsch to well, everyone seemed to understand that for this material to work, they had to be willing to say some of the most ludicrous lines imaginable with a straight face.  If a single member of the cast had tried to wink at the audience or play up the film’s inherent campiness, the entire film would have fallen apart.  Instead, everyone brought a lot of conviction to their roles.  Instead of mocking the film and their dialogue, you could tell that they were instead having fun with it and, as a result, the audience had a lot of fun as well.

    9) Kelly Ripa Stamped On The Head Of A Hammerhead Shark

    Proof positive that high heels can be a girl’s best friend.

    10) Everyone Watched it!

    And you know what that means:  SHARKNADO 3!

    Sharknado 2


  • USAGI YOJIMBO volume 28: Red Scorpion

    In his introduction to the latest collection of Stan Sakai’s graphic novel masterpiece, actor George Takei points out that in addition to reaching his thirty year milestone celebration and being internationally beloved and acclaimed, Usagi Yojimbo is also the best remake of “The Lone Ranger” ever made.

     

    That gave me pause.  After all, it’s well known that Stan was mostly inspired by the historical samurai Miyamoto Musashi, the films of Akira Kurosawa, and “funny animal” cartooning legends Carl Barks and Walt Kelly.

     

    How does one look at -this- fellow

    Plus, where's Silver?

    He’s not even wearing a mask!

     

    and get -him-?

     

    Tonto, Silver, the Lone Ranger

    “He looks very…fuzzy, kemosabe.”

     

    Upon reflection, I was being too literal-minded.  Usagi is not a masked Texas ranger.  (And I doubt Gen would appreciate being bridled)

     

    But he definitely does call into the mutual root of this type of hero.  The homeless wanderer who kicks butt, yet only to dispense justice.  He’s not an obsessed, broken too-smart man-child like Batman.  He’s noble, virtuous protector of the weak and downtrodden who nevertheless is mortal, prone to all of the needs, wants, sorrows and joys of any person one might hope to befriend.

    He’s a lot closer to the Ranger than I thought!  Though, fortunately, he’s as of yet avoided wrong-headed big screen remakes.

     

    Not that the most recent collection of Usagi’s adventures lacks spectacle.  The opening story, Taiko is gorgeously illustrated in a sweeping, cinematic style.  Usagi befriends and comes close to sacrificing all in order to help new friend Minakata, an artisan who believes he’s constructed a drum that can communicate with the Gods.

     

    It’s a story of sacrifice, beauty, and petty violence worthy of Kurosawa himself.  The final page was perfection, though it did leave me a little misty-eyed.

    The next story, Toad Oil switches gears.  It’s a farce wherein Usagi comes across his old friend Kitsune, whose latest zany get-rich-quick scheme is worthy of the Three Stooges.

    In fact, the Stooges themselves just might have a presence in the story.  I won’t spoil.  Nyuck nyuck.

    It’s all very silly, but I enjoyed it.

    Having given us an emotional mini-epic and a slapstick romp, I shouldn’t have been surprised when Stan immediately followed with an eerie tale of supernatural horror.

    Now, Stan’s always been big on planting story seeds long, long before they’ll see fruition.

    And normally this is no problem.  His manga is created and owned by him, so unlike, say, X-Men, there’s not a danger of plot millions of plot threads that will never, ever be resolved.

    One of the few exceptions is the Lord of Owls, introduced in a short strip over a decade ago, then not mentioned even once in the years since.

    Stan, good guy that he is doesn’t expect the readers to remember a peripheral character seen once then dropped completely, so he brings us The Return of the Lord of Owls, a story that fully reintroduces that character, makes clear just how unsettling and mysterious he is, foreshadows an upcoming confrontation with Usagi….and gives us a mini morality tale that would make Rod Serling smile on the power of lingering guilt.

    After all that work, here’s hoping it’s not another decade before the Lord and Usagi have their inevitable clash.

     

    Those Who Tread on the Scorpion’s Tail is the two-part concluding story of the volume.

     

    The danger in any anthology is that by its very nature, some stories are going to be stronger than others.  That’s my only objection to this one.  It’s not bad by any means, but it suffers in comparison to the earlier adventures.

     

    It’s a solid story of deceit, intrigue, greed, and the way the honor codes of another culture in another time can seem so harsh and shocking to a soft and sheltered modern reader, yet still be utterly right for the world they belonged to.

     

    Hmmm.  I think I’m starting to warm to this.  I think that’s the problem.  It has such a stark, brutal, powerful ending.

    But the twists required to brings us there, while interesting, just pale next to the clincher.  It would have benefited from stronger, more fleshed out antagonists, like those seen in The Mother of Mountains.

    Those who enjoy exciting, well drawn, always surprising and reliable tales of adventure and wandering heroism should give Usagi a try.  There’s three decades worth of fun to archive binge on now!

     

    (cues the William Tell Overture)

     

     

    **************************************************

     

    Review by John Ellis

     

    All images, titles, characters, and names belong to their respective owners, used here solely for the purpose of review.

     

     


  • You May Have Missed This: Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires

    pvamp4

    As exciting as many of the films being released today are, I think it’s important to also remember and watch movies that came out long before the advent of CGI.  If nothing else, these films teach us that you don’t necessarily need millions of dollars to tell an effective story.  Case in point: Mario Bava’s 1965 sci-fi/horror hybrid, Planet of the Vampires.

    Taking place in the far future, Planet of the Vampires begins with two space ships receiving a distress call from an unexplored planet.  While landing, the two ships are separated from each other.  As the Argos lands, its crew is possessed by an unknown force and suddenly start trying to kill each other.  Only the ship’s captain (Barry Sullivan, who gives a surprisingly good performance in a role that most actors would probably have just sleepwalked through) is able to resist and he manages to snap the rest of the crew out of their hypnotic state.

    Once the Argos lands, search parties are sent out to find the other ship.  They find themselves on a barren planet where the surface is obscured by a thick, multi-colored fog.  As they wander through the planet, it quickly becomes apparent that they aren’t alone.  The searchers may have left the ship as human but they return as something else all together.  It all leads up to a surprisingly bleak conclusion.

    Planet of the Vampires zombie-vampire-alien

    If the plot of Planet of the Vampires sounds familiar, that’s because it’s probably one of the most influential, if not widely known, films of all time.   This film has been imitated in several other, far more expensive films but few of them manage to capture Planet of the Vampires’ sense of isolation and impending doom.  With this film, Bava proved that he was one of those directors who could make something truly memorable out of the barest amount of resources available.

     To me, Planet of the Vampires stands as proof that you don’t need a gigantic budget to make an effective horror (or sci-fi) film.  In fact, often times, all a huge budget does is shut down the audience’s imagination and quite frankly, nothing on film will ever be as impressive as what the audience can imagine.  With Planet of the Vampires, all that Mario Bava had to create an alien world were two plastic rocks and a smoke machine.  Working without the crutch of CGI, Bava had to pull off most of the film’s special effects “in camera,” and he would later say that one of the benefits of all that smoke was that it helped to obscure just how low budget this film was.  In short, Bava was working under circumstances that James Cameron would refuse to even consider and yet Planet of the Vampires holds up better upon repeat viewings than Avatar ever will.  The low-budget forced Bava to emphasize atmosphere over effects.  Yes, this film has its share of gore (it’s an Italian horror film, after all) but ultimately, this is another example of a horror film that works because of what it doesn’t show.  This is a film that exploits your imagination, working its way into the darker corners of your consciousness.  Bava creates a palpable atmosphere of doom that makes Planet of the Vampires into a surprisingly effective film.

    In short, Planet of the Vampires is a film that could teach a lot of contemporary filmmakers some very important lessons.

    pov-2


  • Joker vs. Bane

    banejoker2 (image credit - comicbookmovie.com)

     

    Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy has brought us the defining cinematic incarnations not only of Batman himself, but also of many of his supporting comic book characters.  Not the least of these is Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight.  After Ledger’s death, Nolan promised not to recast or use old footage or any other tricks to bring him back for the sequel, The Dark Knight Rises.  While no one doubts this was the right and respectful thing to do, people still wonder what might have been.  What if the Joker had met Bane during the months the League of Shadows held Gotham under threat of nuclear obliteration?  What if the Clown Prince of Crime went up against the Man Who Broke the Bat?  I have sort of an idea of how that meeting would go:

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  • Batman’s One Rule (That He Used to Break All the Time)

    So, yeah, Man of Steel gets a lot of flak for Superman killing Zod (spoilers, I guess).  Let’s forget, for now, that he’s already killed Zod in the movies and in comics.  He’s a young hero, just getting started, and has a lot to learn about stopping super-powered baddies without breaking their necks.  Surely, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Dark Knight can demonstrate that, if nothing else, true heroes always follow the “one rule” that you never, ever break.  Except, you know, when the villain killed your parents.  In that case, it’s totally cool; and Zod did kill Jor-El, so Supes is fine.

     

    "My son will avenge me."    "What's he gonna do, kill me?"

    “My son will avenge me.”
    “What’s he gonna do, kill me?”

     

    What, you didn’t know that Batman was okay with revenge killing?  You must be one of those people who’s only ever seen the Christopher Nolan Batman movies.  Batman has a long cinematic history of offing the villains, either directly or by ensuring they kill themselves (the Spider-Man Method).  And I’m not talking about Joel Schumacher Batman, either.

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  • Earth to Echo…echo…echo.

    A group of kids living in suburbia are feeling down during what appears to be their last weekend together before contractors uproot all the families in the neighborhood.  I’m talking about The Goonies, right?  Nope.  That just happens to be the starting premise of Earth To Echo, too.  While this group of boys end up on an adventure to save their neighborhood, using maps to find clues, all the while riding their bikes, any further plot elements are a mere…echo…to what you’d find watching The Goonies.

     

    The-Goonies

    Unfortunately…or fortunately, whichever you prefer…there is no Truffle Shuffle in this one.

     

    Three boys who are outcasts at school find themselves in the middle of something strange when their phones “barf” and they can’t seem to fix it.  They realize the “barf-like” image on the screen is a map and decide to head out into the desert to find out what it all means.  Much to their dismay, they only find a weirdly shaped metal thing caked in dirt.  This was not the excitement they thought it was.  Well, they didn’t have to wait long before realizing someone else was out in the desert looking for it, too.  The “metal thing” started making beeping sounds and eventually opened up for the boys to discover a teeny tiny living being inside.

     

    earth_to_echo_movie-wide

    He’s not a robot, just an adorable metal alien that looks like an owl.

     

    Seriously though.  I wish ET had looked that cute.

     

    Through one beep for yes and two beeps for no, the boys  learn the little guy is hurt and is trying to get home.  He mimics the sound of Alex’s (Teo Halm) ringtone.  They name him Echo.  With one setback after another, Alex, Tuck (Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley), and Munch (Reese Hartwig), travel all over to help Echo get the necessary pieces to fix his broken spaceship.  Circumstances bring them to Emma’s (Ella Wahlestedt) house where she finds out about Echo and joins them on their mission of  trying to escape the people out to destroy Echo and to get him to safety in time.  It’s a great bonding time for the boys as they strengthen their friendships and forge new ones.

     

    Perhaps one of the most unique things about this film is Tuck’s obsession with filming everything he does.  The entirety of the movie is filmed from the point of view of the kids.  They use a Go-Pro, a regular camcorder, and a sneaky pair of glasses, bearing a hidden camera.  As the long night and morning unfolds with the group, you start to wonder if they have the magic power capabilities that Jack Bauer’s cell phones tend to have.  Nevertheless, the story is captivating and leaves little room to focus on impossibilities.

     

    ECHO

    Such as…how did a group of good looking kids get classified as outcasts?

     

    It’s a charming film that is The Goonies for the modern age, hopefully turning the hearts of youngsters everywhere to exploration, space and a love of really good sci-fi.

     

    Mallory Douge would love the opportunity to find a map and go on an adventure.  Until then, she just writes about all the ones she goes on through book, film and tv. Check out her latest review of ABC Family’s Chasing Life here: http://yakidneycancer.wordpress.com/


  • DC Movies: The Brave and the Bold

    Last year at San Diego Comic-Con, Zack Snyder and David Goyer virtually won the weekend when they announced the sequel to Man of Steel would be a team up (or showdown) of Batman and Superman.  Now, if last week’s post on veteran entertainment reporter Nikki Finke’s new website is to be believed, it seems DC and Warner Bros. are all set to own the Internet itself.  The report gives us information not only on the upcoming Justice League movie, but on a full seven DC films from May 2016 to May 2018.  Seven is as many movies as DC has produced in the last six years, and far fewer than Marvel has produced in the same amount of time.  It seems, what with The Hobbit, Harry Potter, and various other franchises all but exhausted, that Warner Bros. is ready to get serious about their untapped wellspring of comic book characters.

     

    justice-league-warner-bros-feature (image credit - hypable.com)

     

    Before I write any more, I just want to say, I hate phrases like “rumor has it”, “if you believe it”, and especially “take it with a grain of salt”.  For the purposes of this article, we’re just going to assume everything Ms. Finke’s source told her is DC’s actual planned announcement for Comic-Con; also one or two other “reports” that have emerged over the weekend.  Beyond that, I obviously have some speculating of my own I’ll be including.  If you can’t handle speculation, then what follows is not the article for you.

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  • 3 Horrifying Implications of “Edge of Tomorrow”

    Edge_of_Tomorrow_Poster (image credit - filmofilia.com)Let me start this review by saying you should go see Edge of Tomorrow, the latest sci-fi mind-bending thriller starring Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible, Vanilla Sky, Minority Report, War of the Worlds, Oblivion).  Don’t be fooled by its video game premise of “live, die, repeat”.  It’s as much Groundhog Day as it is Doom, which is to say the movie is as much about the characters and their relationships with each other as it is about shooting aliens over and over.

     

    Like Major Cage, Cruise’s character, EoT gets better at what it does as time passes.  It starts with sort of  a weak premise (how Cage got in the fighting, that is, not the dying and respawning), but as the movie progresses, Cage truly develops as a character.  I even like how the movie ends, even though it leaves us with some serious questions about what humanity will do next.  You need to see this movie, if only to not have it spoiled by what you’re going to read next:

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  • 10 Other Godzilla Films You Should See

    godz54emikoyamane

    Okay, I’m a bit late in posting this but, as the old saying goes, better late than never!  By this point, we’ve all probably seen the latest American remake of Godzilla.  And, whether you thought it was a worthy tribute or not, there’s no way that we can deny that everyone loves the big green guy.

    However, did you know that Godzilla has been a star since the 1950s?  Did you know that, in between his first appearance and this latest American incarnation, there have been over 30 Godzilla films?  So, with that in mind, here’s a chronological list of 10 other Godzilla films that you should see.

    Godzilla-1954

    1) Godzilla (1954) — If you thought this latest version of Godzilla was surprisingly somber, you should have seen him in his film debut!  In his first film, Godzilla is a creature of pure apocalyptic evil.  Full of images of devastated cities and dying citizens, the first Godzilla film deliberately invokes images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The emphasis is on humanity reacting to the very real possibility of destruction and, for much of the movie, Godzilla remains a shadowy menace.  If you do see this film, make sure that you see the Japanese original.  Avoid at all costs the American version — that’s the one that has the awkwardly inserted scenes of Raymond Burr playing a reporter named Steve Martin.  Seriously, reading a few subtitles never killed anyone.

    2) King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962) – It’s Godzilla vs. King Kong in a battle that proves that, when big monsters fight, only Tokyo suffers.  In many ways, this film set the template that all the subsequent Japanese Godzilla films would follow (i.e., Godzilla fights another big monster while a bunch of interchangeable humans watch).

    3) Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1965) — A three-headed dragon comes down to Earth and it’s up to Mothra, Rodan, and Godzilla to defeat him!  This is one of the best of the old school Godzilla films.  Ghidorah is a great villain (and would show up in several more films) and this film is historically significant as being the first time that Godzilla saved humanity as opposed to trying to destroy it.

    4) Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) — Godzilla versus a monster that is made totally out of pollution!  This is probably one of the most controversial and critically reviled of all the Godzilla films but I like it because it’s just so strange.  There are a few moments where the film literally turns into a cartoon and you can’t go wrong when you combine Godzilla with hippies.  Plus, just try to get that theme song out of your head!

    GvsH

    5) Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) — Despite an appearance from Ghidorah, this is actually one of the weaker of the Godzilla films.  However, it’s worth seeing for a scene in which Godzilla and his ally, a giant armadillo, actually have a conversation.  In the Japanese version of the film, we see speech balloons that provide a translation for their roars.  In the English-language version, we actually hear the two monsters speak in human voices!  The armadillo is pretty surly but Godzilla knows how to deal with him.

    6) Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) — In this one, Godzilla fights a gigantic robot version of himself.  Seriously, what more do you need?

    7) Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) — After decades of causing wanton destruction and occasionally defending the Earth, Godzilla’s life is coming to an end.  His heart, which we learn is basically a huge nuclear reactor, is slowly melting down.  However, Godzilla still finds time to destroy Tokyo and fight Destoroyah a genuinely impressive crab-like monster.  This was originally meant to be the final Japanese Godzilla film and the end result is surprisingly poignant.

    8) Godzilla (1998) — Roland Emmerich’s version of Godzilla should be watched just so you can see how a Godzilla movie should never be.  If the film had been called Giant Lizard, it would have been more tolerable.  However, this is a Godzilla movie and, therefore, it has no right to be as boring as it actually is.

    9) Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) — After being the villain in countless films, Ghidorah finally gets to be the hero in this film while Godzilla reverts back to his previous ways.  This one features some of the best monster fight scenes and, with Mothra spinning a web all through Tokyo, it’s one of the visually stunning of the Godzilla films.

    10) Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) — This, the last Japanese Godzilla film to date and the last entry in the series before the current American version, is a hyperkinetic feast for everyone who loves giant monster films.  The plot is familiar (aliens invade Earth and Godzilla fights them, along with every other monster in existence) but the film is still a lot of fun.  The film’s highlight?  Godzilla battles his counterpart from Roland Emmerich’s movie.  Needless to say, the two are not evenly matched.

    And, if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to see the new version of Godzilla as well!  It may not be perfect (personally, I would have preferred for the film to be just a little less somber in its approach) but it’s still a worthy entry in the franchise!

    GodzillaLisa Marie Bowman dislikes lizards but loves Godzilla.  She also writes for Though the Shattered Lens, HorrorCritic, SyFyDesigns, and the Big Brother Blog.


  • The New Batman Movies (According to Fourth-day)

    batman_75 (image credit - revistau.com)

     

    This year is the 75th anniversary of the Detective Comics debut of Bruce Wayne, aka the Dark Knight, aka the World’s Greatest Detective, aka the Caped Crusader, aka the Batman.  After hundreds of animated and live action iterations, dozens of video games, and countless comic books, you’d need to be the world’s greatest detective to find someone who’d never even heard of him.  For three-quarters of a century, he’s been one of the driving forces of both comics and culture.  And, in 2016, he’s going to join my other favorite superheroes, Superman and Wonder Woman, for the first time on the big screen.  The world may just end from the awesomeness.

     

    Okay, I’m probably exaggerating there about the “end”.  Still, it’s hard to overstate the excitement comic book fans feel at the prospect of Batman and Superman sharing space on the big screen for the first time.  These men have a ways to go before the world that was rocked to its foundations in Man of Steel will come to call them “the world’s finest”.  But, I’ve already written about what I’d like to see in the…interestingly titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  This article is about what Warner Bros. and DC should do with Batman outside of his appearances in this sequel and any future Justice League movies.

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