Tagged: Samuel L. Jackson

Shyamalan-Verse’s “Glass” splits for home in April

Universal City, California, February 26, 2019 – Writer-Director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs) completes a mind-bending trilogy created nearly twenty years ago with GLASS, a comic book thriller available on Digital via the digital movie app MOVIES ANYWHERE on April 2, 2019 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-rayTM, DVD and On Demand on April 16, 2019, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

GLASS is a grounded-in-reality, comic-book thriller where the heroes and villains are people first. The thrilling culmination to the trilogy that started with Unbreakable and Split, stars James McAvoy (Split, Atonement), Samuel L. Jackson (Hitman’s Bodyguard, Avengers Franchise), Bruce Willis (Unbreakable, Die Hard), Sarah Paulson (Ocean’s Eight, American Horror Story) and Anya-Taylor Joy (Split, The Witch). Go inside the mind of master of suspense M. Night Shyamalan to uncover the connections and references that bring the three films together in one universe. Experience more than sixty minutes of never-before-seen features elaborating on his process and artistic vision including an in-depth look at the making of the film, deep insights on the characters, a never-before-seen alternate opening, and deleted scenes.


Watch the new “Captain Marvel” trailer!

Straight from Monday Night Football, it’s the newest trailer for Captain Marvel!

Set in the 1990s, Marvel Studios’ “Captain Marvel” is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that follows the journey of Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes. While a galactic war between two alien races reaches Earth, Danvers finds herself and a small cadre of allies at the center of the maelstrom.

John Ostrander: The Family of Sociopaths

Commercials are the point of commercial TV. I realize that, for those of you who do only streaming services, this concept may seem a bit foreign, but your monthly fees take the place of paid commercials, assuming the streaming service isn’t double-dipping.

Advertisers buy time to pitch products and/or services and/or whatever and the amount that the channel can charge is based on how many people are watching and which demographic groups those people represent. That’s why an ad during the Superbowl costs so much.

You probably knew all that.

I tend to mentally surf commercials; they’re on but I’m tuned out. Some I wake up for because either there’s some element I like or it really annoys me and I want to throw something at the TV. An example of the former is a commercial with Mark Wahlberg as the spokesman at the end of which his mirror image turns into Sir Patrick Stewart who is, as he says, “more handsome, more talented… and more British.” All of which he is. JK Simmons had been doing a series of commercials for Farmer’s Insurance; it’s always a pleasure to watch JK Simmons. And their theme is memorably goofy: “We are Farmers, bum-da-bumbum bum bum bum.” I also love watching Sam Jackson in just about anything but I won’t get into his credit card commercials until he says “What have you got in your motherfucking wallet?”

I do wonder at the use of CGI English spokesowls. Several companies have them. Why? Why all at the same time? There’s also the use of pieces of classical music in the background of more than a few commercials. I often don’t understand why the use of a particular piece of music in a given commercial but maybe I’m not supposed to understand.

I’m also not a fan of the commercials that try to guilt you, whether it’s to adopt a pet or help a child in Africa or somewhere else. I appreciate that there is a great need but they really hammer on it. It’s gotten so that the moment I hear Sarah McLachlan start singing, I switch the channel. And I like Sarah McLachlan!

PBS pledge nights also fall under this truck.

And then there are the commercials that I hate so much, I remember them only so I will never use the company, product, or service being promoted. One is a car parts company that uses animation so cheap and primitive it hurts my eyes. Another is for a travel booking website that has a kindergarten teacher who is totally inept at her job. The kids have completely taken over the classroom and are running riot and all this forlorn cow can do is moan about how she is looking forward to her vacation. Put her on a permanent vacation. She doesn’t belong within five miles of a classroom. Children will die under her watch. She’s the Betsy DeVos of the kindergarten set. I’d change the channel if it wasn’t so much effort to find the TV remote.

The worst commercial is the one for another insurance company. It’s a family – mother, father, ten-year-old boy. We’re in a suburban front yard, Mom has just gotten back from who knows where (I suspect a covert affair) and Dad is holding a cloth to his face. Son reports that Dad got hit in the face with a swing (I suspect the son was on it at the time). Mom groans: there goes our Hawaii vacation. Dad says he really needs to go to the hospital. “There goes the air conditioner,” Mom sighs. Kid votes for going to Hawaii; Mom laughs and agrees, “Hawaii!” Dad appears to reluctantly cave in to the pressure.

This is a family of sociopaths. I’m supposed to identify with them? Please. That’s the problem with a lot of commercials for me – the person using/touting the product is a moron, an asshole, or a creep. Why should I want to buy what they want me to buy?

I understand that, in many cases, I am not the target audience. I can’t help wondering who is. Does the target audience find this funny? Will it entice them to buy the product or use the service? Please tell me it’s not so. I don’t want to totally despair on America.

Box Office Democracy: The Hitman’s Bodyguard


I have to imagine production of The Hitman’s Bodyguard started with director Patrick Hughes gathering the whole cast together and giving them some kind of speech along the lines of “Look, we all know this script is a piece of garbage but if we pull together we can elevate it way past tolerable” and then there was some big cheer and they ran out to the set like a sports movie.  It’s a laughable script that doesn’t hold together under the smallest bit of scrutiny, but the cast absolutely crushes it.  It’s the best bad movie I’ve seen all year and I don’t mean that as faint praise.  The world is full of people doing average work with average material but seeing fantastic work come from a wretched foundation is something special.  This is a diamond found in a coal mine.

The chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson is basically driving the whole movie.  We’re getting a Deadpool-lite version of Reynolds thick with meta commentary on the events of the movie and sort of action movie in general.  This plays well with the standard action-comedy version of Jackson we’ve been seeing since Die Hard with a Vengeance.  This interplay drives the whole movie dragging a murky nonsensical plot and a seemingly endless numbers of big pauses for jokes that just aren’t that funny.  Everything that’s Reynolds and Jackson bickering is great, every scene that has Selma Hayek in it is good, everything else is pretty bad.

The action in the movie is good enough, but it feels more like a greatest hits compilation than any kind of new composition.  The best sequence in the film is one where Jackson is walking through a Dutch square seemingly oblivious to potential attackers while Reynolds stealthily takes them down.  It’s a good sequence but it feels an awful lot like a knock-off of the Waterloo Station sequence in The Bourne Supremacy and while it’s 10 years later feels a bit slower.  There’s also a reasonably thrilling chase through a canal with Jackson in a boat being chased by bad guys in SUVs while Reynolds on a motorcycle harasses them.  It’s a nice idea salad mixing bits from a number of other movies.  Maybe greatest hits is too reductive, more like a remix of some old favorites, you ought bop your head a few times but odds are you’ll go back to the original.

Most of the story of The Hitman’s Bodyguard is just low-level stupid.  You know, stuff like trial scenes that were written by someone who has only experienced the legal system from their drunk friend describing Law & Order episodes to them.  But then toward the end they try to pretend like there’s some big moral quandary between a life spent protecting terrible people versus a life of killing bad people for money.  For one, I don’t believe that you can make a great living as a contract killer just sitting around and waiting for bad people to need killing that badly.  Also, people who decide to hire assassins to deal with their problems aren’t people who are on the highest of high grounds to start with.  It’s not an interesting moral quandary, and it directly detracts from the stuff that’s actually entertaining in the movie.  Wikipedia says that when this script was named to The Black List it was a drama— maybe this is an artifact from those days, but it has no place in this movie. (I also can’t imagine this was a better movie as a drama.  I’m bored just thinking about it.)

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is good because you get to see Deadpool interact with Nick Fury.  They had to file off all the serial numbers, superpowers, and sci-fi gadgets— but that’s what it is.  We’ll never get the actual pairing because of all the various rights headaches (and honestly, what would need to be happening in the MCU for it to even happen) but we can get it here stitched on to a wretched story about the trial of a dictator who commands an army of mercenaries while imprisoned at The Hague.  Come for the cast, stay for the cast, leave with a smile on your face, pick it on Netflix 18 months from now, never think about it after that.

Box Office Democracy: Kong: Skull Island

It’s probably a good thing that I’m not in charge of which movies get made and which ones don’t.  While we would certainly get fewer third-rate horror movies and lazy animated movies (and like three more Crank movies, what happened to that franchise?) there’s just so many movies that must sound terrible at the log line phrase that end up being good movies.  For example, if I had been in charge when someone came and said, “Hey, we want to make a new King Kong movie but it’s going to be what if King Kong met Apocalypse Now!” I probably would have passed. But someone at Legendary Pictures said yes, and we got Kong: Skull Island—a delightful, odd, horrific monster movie.  It’s a better movie than I expected, a better movie than it probably should be, and a worthy opening salvo in the 2017 action movie wars.

The second act of Kong: Skull Island was the whole movie for me.  The first act is an endless parade of set-up that I did not need, made only barely tolerable by the frequent use of John Goodman.  I don’t particularly care how or why anyone ends up on Skull Island, just that it happens— and while I appreciate that different sets of characters need to be briefed on the nature and the history of the island, I don’t need to hear everything three times.  I just need them to get to the part of the movie where there’s a giant monkey.  Similarly, the end doesn’t feel like it’s the end result of the build of the movie, more like the movie needs to wrap up— and so a bigger, badder, version of the kind of fight we’ve already seen is whipped together and done in full view of all the remaining characters.  It didn’t work for me.  The middle of the movie is where I got my money’s worth.  The characters are all split up, and each scene is them uncovering some new horror or another as the color temperature shifts on a dime.  It’s stressful, terrifying, and relentless just like Mad Max: Fury Road. It puts you on the edge of your seat waiting for the next giant spider or terrible bird or whatever and Kong himself is a rare, seemingly random, participant in the action.  When he appear on screen he’s riveting (he’s King Kong— he’s been doing this since 1933) but he doesn’t drive the action per se.  It’s a wonderful segment, some of the best filmmaking I’ve seen in years… they just couldn’t keep it up.

I understand that everything needs to be a franchise these days and that shared universes are the new hotness, but we might be expending too much effort to lead up to a crossover movie with Kong and Godzilla.  We don’t need six years and four films to connect the rebooted Godzilla with the rebooted Kong.  Either audiences are smart enough to not need their hands held the whole way to get them interested in the monster showdown, or they’re so dumb you risk losing their attention entirely. I refuse to believe that people fall in to the narrow band of needing all this exposition to understand that they what to watch two giant creatures level a city.

You can never quite tell what’s going to work in a movie.  The B plot of Kong: Skull Island is essentially Moby Dick retold with Samuel L. Jackson playing Captain Ahab (and with Kong playing the whale, of course) and it’s ludicrous and a bit predictable and it steals shots from a dozen other movies and it’s delightful.  One of the reasons the third act didn’t work for me is that this plot has run its course and we’re given a less satisfying antagonist for the finale.  I might have just been in an uncommonly good mood, or maybe I was blinded by the spectacle of an IMAX screen but I found all the ridiculousness in Kong totally charming.  I also liked the 2005 Kong Kong more than my peer group at the time, so maybe I have a soft spot for giant apes.  Kong: Skull Island is, at its best, an oppressive, horrifying film and it’s a triumph.

Mike Gold: The Wrong Captain America

Captain America StatueYesterday, I awoke to the news that the should-be city of Brooklyn was honoring the 75th anniversary of Captain America with a 13-foot tall bronze statue, to be planted in Prospect Park next month after visiting the San Diego Comic Con. “Pretty cool,” I said to our cats, who I believe responded with “Yeah? Does he have a pro pass?”

Then I saw the sketch. In case you haven’t seen it, look to the left.

That is not Captain America. That’s the guy who starred in the past several movie adaptations. That one hasn’t been around for 75 years, but he has been around for over five billion dollars.

I really hate it when the media adaptations are conflated with the “real” thing. The biggest event in the history of comic books should have been the marriage of Lois Lane and Superman. Instead, it was just another episode of Lois and Clark – an afterthought that was unceremoniously (comparatively speaking) ported over to the comic book. Getting rid of that fiasco actually justified one of DC’s many, many reboots.

Not all stories work out, no matter what the medium. Movies and teevee adaptations are made for their times. This is understandable when a $200 million budget is on the line. I don’t get angry when they “get it wrong” as long as the end result is an entertaining experience. That’s why it’s called an adaptation. But I do get concerned when the adaptation becomes canonical.

There’s a reason why Captain America has lasted 75 years (admittedly, with a couple years off during the 1950s and 1960s). There’s a reason why Superman and Batman have lasted almost 80 years each. Quite frankly, there’s a reason why the reboots of Doctor Who and James Bond worked so well: both were extremely faithful to the source material. Neither character became somebody or something else. Their re-creators understood what made those characters work.

Andy GumpThat’s why I feel it was a mistake for Marvel Comics to replace the Lee and Kirby version of Nick Fury with the Samuel L. Jackson version in their mainstream comics universe. I’m certainly a very strong advocate for diversity in comics. That’s why I asked Joe Corallo to do a weekly column here at ComicMix covering that very issue. But SHIELD is an organization that employs about a zillion people and presumably is a diverse place; coming up with another Nick Fury to track the movies wasn’t necessary.

Statues are likely to last a long while. There’s still a statue of Andy Gump in downtown Lake Geneva Wisconsin – in fact, when some drunken idiot smashed it to pieces in 1967, it was replaced with another. Andy starred in a popular newspaper comic strip called (of course) The Gumps. It ended in 1959 and today very few people know of either the strip or the character. But that statue lives on. It is nice to think it inspires some to Google the name and learn a thing or two about comics history.

Captain America? The movies will be with us in one form or another pretty much forever. The comic book? Sad to say, that’s somewhat less likely – but, clearly, over the course of time more people will know Cap from those movies than from the comics.

I sure hope they get to meet the real guy.

Box Office Democracy: “Kingsman: The Secret Service”

Kingsman: The Secret Service is, hopefully, a watershed moment for spy action movies. Much in the way The Bourne Identity did in 2002, Kingsman has such a fresh new take on the genre that it begs to be the new standard these films are compared to. Kingsman could have so easily been the lazy bit of satire I feared it would be in the run up to the movie and it avoided nearly all of the pitfalls that could have felled it. It did step in to one big pit and while it put a bit of a crimp in my enjoyment of the movie it was at least a spectacular and bold piece of failure and I suppose tasteless and vexing is always better than boring.

Matthew Vaughn directs action sequences in Kingsman that are nothing short of brilliant. He shoots action with wider angles and without cuts like they’re musical numbers from back in the era when Hollywood stars could actually dance. He does this without sacrificing the complexity we’ve come to expect from a modern fight scene, something from the post-Tarantino, post-Yuen Woo-Ping era. Kingsman makes 54 year-old Colin Firth look like the baddest man alive at 54 years old. He looks like he would pick Liam Neeson out of his teeth. The fight sequences are exhilarating to watch and should be the new standard for any director looking to make something visually interesting but not too proud to crib an existing style. (I’m looking at you, 98% of directors working today.)


REVIEW – Kingsman: The Secret Service

The rule of thumb in screenwriting is never to directly reference, even whimsically, a film which you are attempting to tribute or homage, for fear the comparison will leave your film lacking.  Kingsman: the Secret Service makes numerous references to Bond and classic-era spy films, and not only holds its own against them, but could inspire a resurgence of the bigger than life style of espionage films

kingsman-the-secret-service-official-trailer-000Kingsman: The Secret Service
Directed by Matthew Vaughan
Script by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughan, from the comic by Mark Millar, Matthew Vaughan and Dave Gibbons
Starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson

Mark Millar is doing a damn fine job of creating brilliant little stand-alone comic mini-series that tell a coherent story, and are at the same time far from the standard fare of superhero titles.  They are also almost tailor-made for adaptation into films for those very reasons.  His high-action spy tale The Secret Service got a new main title and a solid cast when Millar’s co-plotter Matthew Vaughan (X-Men First Class) adapted it into Kingsman: The Secret Service. (more…)

John Ostrander: Odder Ends 2014

This week I’ve got a bunch of different topics and themes but none of them seem to be developing into a coherent column. So I think I’ll take parts of all of them and just stitch together into a hodgepodge column. It’s the end of the year so maybe I can get away with it.

If you’re doing a SF tent pole movie, you want to hire Zoe Saldana and use her prominently. She played Neytiri in Avatar, Uhura in the two latest Star Trek films, and Gamora in Guardians Of The Galaxy and she’s going to be in the next installments of all these films. They all made what is technically called a shitload of money. Coincidence? I think not. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if she shouldn’t be cast as Amanda Waller. (Sorry, Oprah.) I really want the upcoming Suicide Squad movie to sell like hotcakes and spawn sequels and Amanda Waller related merchandise. Okay, I’m crass. Still, think about it. . .

Peter Capaldi has finished his first season as the new Doctor and I like his Doctor McCrankypants. It’s a nice variation of the past few Doctors. Not as crazy about all the writing, tho, and I really am beginning to feel it’s time for showrunner Steven Moffat to move on. When Moffat is good, he’s really good and he’s rarely outright bad but he’s often becoming mediocre. He seems, to me, to not always think things through. Or he gets clever for the sake of being clever.

Best Animated Film I Saw This Year – How To Train Your Dragon 2. The animation was better than the original and the story wasn’t a re-hash of the first but actually advanced the characters. It was fun but also had real emotional depth and impact. In fact, it was a better film than many live action serious movies I saw. It took chances.

Best Marvel Film I Saw This Year – a lot of people would say Guardians Of The Galaxy and I loved it too. It was just wonderfully entertaining. However, I liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier even more. Chris Evans is to Steve Rogers/Captain America what Christopher Reeve was to Superman. Why doesn’t Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow have her own movie? How the hell did they get Robert Redford go play the main villain? (Oh, right – money.) And Samuel L. Jackson just has deep reserves of cool to call on. The movie also had a major impact on Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. which was an added bonus.

Just finished reading Alexander Mcall Smith’s latest installment (number 15!) in his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, titled The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café. The series is set in Botswana, Africa, and features Precious Ramotswe, her partner Grace Makutsi, and their friends, co-workers, and clients in and around the city of Gabrone. The characters are all African and the author is white, born in Rhodesia, now living in Scotland. He writes the characters with great love and understanding, along with a great love for Africa in general and Botswana in particular. Reading each new book is like visiting old friends. The mysteries are mostly small matters and not really the focus of the series. It is the people. I recommend the series and, while I suggest starting at he beginning, each book is admirably written to be accessible even if you haven’t read the others. I will warn you that they are quiet books, slow paced, but wonderful reads.

Final note: just an update since so many of you expressed concern following my recent triple bypass. I’m healing nicely and recovering well. My general practitioner, on my last visit, pronounced me “medically boring.” I’ve never been so glad to be called boring.

Well, that’s 2014. Drive carefully, drink responsibly, party carefully, and we’ll all reconvene in 2015.

Happy New Year, y’all!



Robocop_2014_BD_OringThe best science fiction is the kind that uses the settings to make comments about our society today, making us think. When Paul Verhoeven gave us RoboCop in 1987, it was a commentary on the rapidly rising role of technology in the world along with the increasing spread of urban crime. The idea that a mortally wounded cop (Peter Weller) was involuntarily turned into a cyborg and sent out to clean up the city was riveting. The performance, blood, and violence made the film an interesting statement and the beginning of a franchise that got watered down in lesser hands.

MGM saw the moribund property as a chance to make some fresh cash with a reboot because everything else has been dusted off and for the most part done pretty well. But did Brazilian director José Padilha have something to say or was he brought in for stylish mayhem? Apparently he did, working with screenwriter Joshua Zetumer, building on the original script by Edward Neumaier and Michael Miner. Omnicorp, a subsidiary of OmniConsumer Products (OCP), is a next generation supplier of military weapons in the form of humanoid ED-209 and EM-208 mechanized warriors at a time global tensions mean a steady supply of soldiers is required.

OCP CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) wants to sell a domestic version of his machines but is thwarted by Senator Hubert Dreyfus (Zach Grenier) and his just passed Act outlawing such domestic police. Undaunted, Sellars finds a loophole in the law and orders man put inside one of the machines, something general counsel Liz Kline (Jennifer Ehle) and marketing chief Tom Pope (Jay Baruchel) endorse. He instructs Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) to take his prosthetics research to the next level and the scientist screens candidates until he settles on Detroit police detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman). Welcome, RoboCop 2.0.

Partnered with Lewis (Michael K. Williams), he takes on the underworld in the form of Antoine Vallon (Patrick Garrow) while risking his humanity as his wife Clara (Abbie Cornish) and son David (John Paul Ruttan) grow increasingly distant. Meantime, one battle is overt, while the covert story is machine versus corporation over Free Will. OCP has intentionally “dumbed down” Murphy, hoping he would merely follow orders after being trained by Rick Mattox (Jackie Early Haley) but Murphy is his own man and not the “Tin Man” Mattox insists on calling him.

Things blow up just fine and the human conflicts sometimes take a backseat to the PG-13 violence (a crass commercial move that robbed the film) but this is better than we feared when the collective consciousness said, “We don’t’ need a RoboCop reboot.” Yes, its’ commentary is not as sharp as Verhoeven’s original nor is the action any better despite enhanced special effects or the presence of Samuel L. Jackson. And maybe we don’t but what we got is a cut above and well worth a look. Padilha’s American debut is done with affectionate nods to the original film while still having its own voice.

The film, now out on home video as a Blu-ray, DVD, Digital copy combo pack form MGM Home Entertainment, has an excellent video transfer with sharp  colors. The audio is a notch below this but the overall 5.1 lossless DTS-HD MA sound mix is fine.

The Blu-pray comes with a standard assortment of unremarkable special features including Deleted Scenes (3:59), 10 Omnicorp Product Announcements (3:27); RoboCop: Engineered for the 21st Century (The Illusion of Free Will: A New Vision, 7:46; To Serve and Protect: RoboCop’s New Weapons, 6:05, The RoboCop Suit: Form and Function, 14:54); and, two theatrical trailers.