The Bitter Truth About Death – Editorial

Perspective time: I talk a lot of shit.

It’s true, but it’s not my fault. I look and act like this because of the collective fears of all humanity as the personification of death (which IS my middle name, BTW). HOWEVER, I’m still an Earth-bound entity like yourselves…I’m STUCK here, man. No access to Heaven, Hell, or God knows where. If there’s a Bowie/Prince concert tomorrow, I’m going to miss it until the End of Time (Old Scratch loves reminding me of that).

I didn’t make the Divine Plan. I’m following along one day at a time… just like all of you.

So yeah…I get a sticky-note of who to pick up and escort to the gates (with the occasional idiot who jumps the gun), and it may (read: WILL) get a little rough if you run and really tick me off. I get to meet everyone but often only once, so before you go off blaming the me for taking away your favorite people, just remember: I miss them, too.

Until the first and last time we meet,

~ Grim D. Reaper


Review: ‘Electra Woman and Dyna Girl’ 2016 (low-rent big-hearted heroic hilarity)

More proof reboots CAN work: having love and respect the original material while putting your own unique spin on it.

In a world bereft of supervillains since the forgotten Shadow War, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart) are a pair of non-powered costumed heroes taking down small-town thugs while financially scraping by. When a social media video goes a million-views viral featuring the super ladies disarming a bad guy — literally — they are lured to Los Angeles, California by Creative Masked Management (CMM) to makeover the heroes, win them commercial endorsements, and take a cut of their profits. While Electra Woman has stars in her eyes, doubtful Dyna Girl finds herself relegated to sidekick instead of partner and feeling left behind. Will these two former super friends get their acts together in time to stop a new supervillainess bent on world domination? Of course they will…and look damn good doing it.

Saturday mornings from the late 1960s to the late 1970s was a showcase for low-budget, live-action ‘tween entertainment. Sid and Marty Krofft produced a lot of such shows — “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Lidsville,” “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” “Wonderbug,” and “Dr. Shrinker” to name a few — and forty years later, many of these properties are being rebooted for new audiences. Enter Hannah Hart and Grace Helbig — dubbed by many as the Amy Poehler and Tina Fey of YouTube — with an idea to reboot “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.” Arguably one of the Krofft’s most well-known series, it had cross appeal to adults (read: men) due to the presence of Deidre Hall (who even in 2016 has still been playing Dr. Marlena Evans in “Days of Our Lives” since 1973) and Judy Strangis (who famously quit camera work due to Dyna Girl stalkers…thanks, trolls). While not the first time Electra Woman and Dyna Girl has been made over, this may be the first time they’ve made it work, striking the best balance of superhero spoof shenanigans, big-hearted doomed ambition, and situational organic humor. What’s not to love? Okay, fine: it’s another superhero reboot, but don’t hold that against it.
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Review: ‘Suicide Squad’ (They’re Really Sorry About Batman v Superman, Folks)

Is it too late to get writer/director David Ayer to take over Justice League?

In the aftermath of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the world just got a lot more dangerous, and cooperative heroes are in short supply. Shady government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) has been working on a solution: repurpose a team of known bad guys to secretly take down worse threats. There’s just three problems with this. First, Waller may not have as much control as she thinks she does; cue the sinister music. Second, her “suicide squad” is looking for opportunities to turn the tables on their overlords, preferring the leadership of villain Deadshot (Will Smith) over a designated military yes-man. Third, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is on the team, and the Joker (Jared Leto) doesn’t like to share.

In a summer season full of box office misses and underperformers, Warner Bros. is still holding out hope they can get their DC Cinematic Murderverse (DCCM) buzzing by showcasing their rogue’s gallery. Based on the comic of the same name, it seemed to be a good idea, but with complaint-heavy Dawn of Justice behind them and Wonder Woman still almost a year away, the pressure is on to not only make money but create a fan base as rabid as Marvel’s to ensure future feature films have a waiting audience. While early reviews may be savaging the movie before most DC and comic movie fans can sample the goods, Suicide Squad succeeds far more than it fails, especially when compared to its 2016 theatrical peers.
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Review: ‘Star Trek Beyond’ (out of the darkness)

An effective job of bringing across the crew dynamic and the values of the original series glosses over plenty of story shortcomings and conveniences.

The USS Enterprise is three years into its five-year mission — exactly where NBC cut the original television series short. The bridge crew is considering some hard choices regarding their Starfleet careers as they arrive at a distant deep space outpost, but everything is put on hold when a refugee arrives to get help. Her crew is trapped on a planet deep within a nebula that obstructs both visual and broadcast communications, and Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is tasked with taking his ship into uncharted space to rescue them. In true Star Trek fashion, of course, things aren’t exactly what they seem, and it will take everyone working together to escape the nebula planet, defeat the villain responsible, and save all of Starfleet before the end credits roll.

Besides Star Wars, no other science fiction franchise has a bigger following or is more widely recognized than Star Trek (although “Doctor Who” is nipping at its red shirts). The first J.J. Abrams reimagining of an alternate Jim Kirk and company — simply titled Star Trek — played well to a new film franchise, but future installments were almost derailed due to a derivative and ho-hum sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, rehashing the Khan character made famous by Ricardo Montalban before being marginalized by Benedict Cumberbatch and a convoluted script. Fast and Furious director Justin Lin not only picks up duties from Abrams but manages to infuse an overblown storyline with the humanity and galactic unity Gene Roddenberry envisioned fifty years ago… opening the door for plenty more sequels should the ticket sales continue.
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Review: ‘Ghostbusters’ 2016 (answer the call, Kevin)

Wonderfully reimagined escapism — fun for fans new and old.

On the eve of receiving tenure at a prestigious school, physicist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) discovers an old book she co-wrote is selling on Amazon; self-published by her former friend and co-author Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), the contents could jeapordize her career. In the time since Erin and her parted ways, Abby and her co-worker Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) have continued work into paranormal investigation — including cooking up a few homemade gadgets — but after an investigative opportunity provides their first actual recorded proof of ghosts, the three scientists are set on a path to work together. Enter Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a city transit worker and NYC history buff who’s also had a recent ghostly encounter, but something else found in the subway tunnels suggests to the team that the sudden appearance of so many ghosts may not be a natural phenomenon.

It’s finally here: the thing that will ruin the happy memories and childhoods of anyone who remembers the 1984 hit Ghostbusters…or so we’ve been told. The truth is far simpler; the Ghostbusters intellectual property is valuable, so a new movie was eventually going to be made. No one wanted a repeat of the lackluster Ghostbusters II (especially Bill Murray), but neither the cast nor a script could be counted upon. With the passing of Harold Ramis, there was no chance of getting the old gang back together, so new directors were tapped to come up with fresh ideas. It wasn’t until director Paul Feig pitched an all-female team rebooting the entire franchise that the project moved forward, paving the way for what may end up being a lucrative summer blockbuster.
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Review: ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ (a dog-driven buddy bonding flick)

Zany, manic, and heartwarming.

Max (Louis C.K.) believes he’s the luckiest dog in New York City, as happy as any dog could be with his owner…until she brings home another dog, Duke (Eric Stonestreet), an enormous rescue pet who immediately encroaches on Max’s status as top dog. As both try to out-alpha the other for dominance, an opportunity at a dog walk park sets both animals on a collision course with back alley strays, the city animal control, and an human-hating underground led by an angry white bunny named Snowball (Kevin Hart). When neighboring dog Gidget (Jenny Slate) discovers Max is missing, she mobilizes her own rescue efforts, but can Max and Duke reconcile their differences to evade capture and get home before their owner returns?

From the filmmakers who brought you Despicable Me and Minions comes a story of pets who are far more sophisticated than they let on to their owners. In a clear separation from the way Disney or another studio might handle a story like this, no punches are pulled concerning the anatomy of these characters; they eat, they pee, and they poop…even on camera. They can get as dirty and gross (within reason) as any actual pet, and the effect ups the realism factor in spite of the fact all the animals are talking to one another in plain English. The movie’s real secret, however, is the expert balancing of humorous, outrageous, and serious moments that entertain throughout the film. Coming in on the heels of box office juggernaut Finding Dory, this was no easy task, but a grand marketing campaign hasn’t hurt the film’s chances, either.
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Review: ‘The Legend of Tarzan’ (the long Congo con)

You can take the man out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the man.

Everyone knows the story of John Clayton, the infant raised by apes to become Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) after his shipwrecked parents died. The story begins long after John has returned to England, residing in his the estate of his parents with the love of his life, Jane Porter (Margot Robbie). John’s quasi-retirement comes to an end when he receives an invitation from Belgian King Leopold to see his accomplishments in Africa; after initially refusing, an American named George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) begs him to reconsider, explaining that the king is broke and his so-called accomplishments are likely due to enslavement of the Congo. With Jane refusing to stay behind, the three meet in Africa only to be attacked Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) in an attempt to fulfill a deadly contract.

The first act of The Legend of Tarzan isn’t particularly exciting, but it does set up important back story as well as establish the characters; once the ball gets rolling, the film never looks back. It’s of worthy note that the mandatory handling of John/Tarzan’s time in the jungle as a human child being raised among apes is done efficiently and mostly with selected flashbacks, keeping this from becoming an origin story and more like a return-to-form. Some of the film’s climatic elements may seem a bit farfetched, but it reveals how the King of the Jungle leverages his heritage to target those who’ve earned his ire.
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