Why Dracula Untold Is Exciting

In a recent, brief post on summer movies, the subject of the upcoming Dracula Untold came up, and I have to say, I feel like I’m more excited than anyone else about the potential of this film. In fact, I glanced at Coming Soon for a look at the rest of the year to come, and I may actually be more interested in Dracula Untold than anything else on the slate (though Interstellar and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 are in the running). So here’s my version of filtering my own thoughts and explaining why you, too, should be super excited….

Are vampires even cool anymore?

Dracula_1
This is fair skepticism. After all, the Twilight phenomenon is now a couple of years behind us, and even HBO’s True Blood is sort of past its prime. Vampire fiction isn’t quite in the spotlight the way it was a few years ago… but you know what? Both Twilight and True Blood were equal parts teen (or close to teen) romance and vampire stories… Dracula Untold is straight up blood-sucking action! Which brings me to another fair question for skeptics….

Can vampire fiction be dark?

Again, fair question, given that the popular vampire fiction of the past decade was largely fluff. But does anybody remember the Blade series? Somehow over time these Wesley Snipes-starring action/superhero movies landed somewhere between The Matrix and Underworld in comparisons, when in actuality Blade himself was part vampire! This was real, dark, awesome vampire fiction, and it retains a huge following even today. The slots at Betfair, which are known in part for hosting a lot of movie-themed games, even offer a Blade game alongside the popular heroes of more recent Marvel flicks. Popularity in gaming is actually a pretty major indicator of what people want to see, especially in terms of mobile or online gaming. And in keeping with the prominent place of this casino game, the last film in the series (Blade: Trinity) racked up over $120 million worldwide, per Box Office Mojo, despite pretty rough reviews. So, yes, vampire fiction can be dark!

So if it’s darker, what’s it about?

Your guess is as good as mine as far as the details go. However, according to the summary at IMDB and judging by the trailers, young prince/soldier Vlad Tepes basically sells his soul to a super creepy supernatural demon/vampire and invites dark forces (like gradually becoming a vampire) into himself. It’s all a way for him to gain the power to save his family and homeland from opposing forces. Ultimately, it looks like a sort of medieval war epic spun into a vampire tale, which actually sounds oddly original—not unlike Greek epic battles (think 300 and Troy). However, instead of intervention from standard Olympian gods, we get dark supernatural vampire demons.

Well, who’s in it?

The aforementioned soldier prince, Vlad Tepes, is played by Luke Evans, whose face is probably vaguely recognizable to a lot of trailer viewers that just can’t quite place him. So far though, Evans is actually on a bit of a roll in his relatively young career. He’s best known as the suave, self-assured villain Shaw from Fast & Furious 6, but he also stole the show (in my opinion) as a young Zeus in Immortals. Additionally, he was terrific as Bard in the second Hobbit movie (he’ll be in the third as well). Sarah Gadon (a relative newcomer), Dominic Cooper (best known as the young groom-to-be in Mamma Mia), and Charles Dance (aka Tywin Lannister) will also star.

So, add it all up and we’ve got our darkest vampire saga in a while. It’s also one that happens to feature an exciting cast and, rarest of all, a seemingly original take on the medieval war film. It could flop, sure, but for now I’m looking at it as one of the major events yet to come in 2014.

Summer Movies 2014

I was just about to order tickets for Dracula Untold and thought about the movies that we saw this summer:

 

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I feel like I enjoyed this summer more than previous ones because the movies were highly entertaining.  Interestingly enough, a large majority of them were really trashed with reviewers.  That really never impacts how I feel about a movie unless I was already not planning to see it and that seals its fate.  Maybe that’s how everyone is?

How was your summer movie dance card?  Did you enjoy it?

 

 

The Godzilla Anti-Review You Need

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Here we are again, talking about how much I love monsters.  I hope you stick around rather than rolling your eyes, but either way, I have something important to say.

 

Stop reading movie reviews.

 

I will have to say that I have been thinking that for a very long time.  It makes me sad for the people that DO read them, BELIEVE them and choose to make movie-going decisions based on them.  Sad mostly because they are rarely right.  Most times I disagree with them but the “critics” that I have seen reviewing Godzilla have taken the hate to an entirely new level.

 

How do I see a completely different movie?

 

My calendar has been marked as long as the release day was available.  My plans to see the movie set and tickets purchased in advance, much as I do with any movie that I REALLY want to see in the theater.  Nothing that “film critics” and “movie reviewers” were saying would change that but I couldn’t help feel like what they were saying was shaping up to sound a lot like what was said about the OTHER Kaiju movie I liked so much.

 

You know, because, the Internet.

 

I grew up during a time when there was still black and white movies shown on TV regularly.  I had to get up and turn the knob to change the channel and giggle the rabbit ears so the picture was a little clearer.  During those pre-remote, pre-digital times, monsters battling and smashing things was a high form of entertainment.  I didn’t see those old movies with the eyes of a millennial thinking that the effects were cheesy and the plots not cerebral enough.

 

Who cares when there are monsters?

 

Most reviews I have read of Godzilla recently have missed the point of the movie or outright misrepresented things in or not in the movie, presumably after reading someone else’s review.  Come on, when some of you post virtually the same sentences as other reviewers, aren’t you possibly COPYING someone else’s opinion rather than distilling your own?

 

Here is what I know about Godzilla

 

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Godzilla 2014 is a beautifully executed homage to the Godzilla vs. Mothra type movie of my childhood.  I wish I had a bowl of Fruit Loops when I was leaning forward watching these beasts fight.  The story of the Brody family was both heart breaking and enduring as the next generation picks up the pieces post-Kaiju devastated San Francisco.  Hands down the best character to emerge from the movie is that of Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe.)  Serizawa is our bridge to the past.  He articulates all those things that Godzilla movies traditionally echo.  We are out of balance, Godzilla sets that right again.  His love and respect of this creature is palpable and I found myself rooting for Godzilla right along with him.

 

Thank you Gareth Edwards.

 

I so profoundly appreciate you getting this movie right.  I watched Godzilla thinking, “Wow, he gets it, he really, really gets it.”  As a long time military brat, I sincerely appreciated the accuracy you tried to add to military interactions and scenarios.  Having recently finished a novel in which I wrote a HALO scene, I particularly enjoyed you showed what its like for the soldiers waiting to jump.  Each of them locked in their own private ritual was an important, accurate, depiction for someone like me who notices such details.  Speaking of which, I also really enjoyed the precise attention to detail in which military planes, air craft carriers, etc. were depicted geographically where they would most likely operate, i.e. your use of the Edwards AFB on the tail of planes flying in northern California and Nevada area.  Well done!

I hope there are more Kaijus to come from you and I have the opportunity to make you take my money again.

 

BRAVO!

Monster of the Week: Everything in Pacific Rim

 

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I have a long, documented history with monster movies.  Also, similar to my mind classifying all martial arts movies into a Kung Fu category, I also lump all scary and awesome creatures into the Monster category.  If that irritates you, just stop reading now and don’t feel the urge to send me any hate mail.

I just don’t care.

I am not the person that dissects a movie to pieces and tend to sit back, let it unfold and judge it as a whole.  I also don’t let public opinion sway my own, for example, I didn’t like Bridesmaids and I HATED Vanilla Sky.  But I digress…

This week, I have to explain why my favorite monsters now are basically everything in Pacific Rim.  Yes, I am including Jaegers in that.

I was pretty sad to see a lot of discussion on the movie from people had not even gone to see it or folks immediately dismissing it.  Is it loud?  YES.  Is it considered a “blockbuster”? YES.  Does that mean it’s not worth the hype?  NO.

With Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro does a beautiful job (as always) with making his “creatures” feel real.  They move with purpose and logically as an animal would.  You can observe different animal movements in each one as they become larger, more fantastic and impressive.  My personal favorite was the one that tore through town moving like a silver back gorilla…TERRIFYING.  In this movie, what those of us that grew up watching Godzilla vs. Mothra saw these Kaiju was a return to the childhood that movies can bring back.  What I say in Jaegers reminded me so much of the great Japanese serialized defenders of the people.  The things that feel fantastic and surreal but also have you rooting for the “good guy.”  For me, aside from my Dad, I will say again, this is all Ted Turner’s fault.  The same person that brought me Shock Theater also brought me Ultraman and Ambassador Magma.  Never heard of these?  Well you should have because they are precursors to the Transformers and Jaegers.  For me, it was so much more awesome as a kid growing up in a tiny Southern town dreaming of running away!

Del Toro knows about those little kids…it would be impossible for him not to!  Once you watch Pacific Rim, every single image tells me he spent an incredible amount of time to get it right.  It is magical and delicious and I can’t get enough of it!  (Yes, I already pre-ordered my Blu-Ray).

I highly recommend you drop the hypercritical lens and overly academic view of movies and sit back and enjoy a throw back to a simpler time.  Our world would be a better place if people could do that a little more.  🙂

Great Comic Mashup

If you are ever here, you have probably seen my nerdy kitchen or know how much I love Halo (the artist, not the game).  When I saw this Kickstarter come across my dash, I immediately went into fan girl mode.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of those cartoons much like He-Man, Thundercats and Transformers, that you were either really into or didn’t watch at all.  I admit, I am a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan.  I was pretty upset when I heard about the changes to the story line in the upcoming movie.  I will watch it because I want to see how they pull it together but in those changes, they completely removed the teenage and mutant part.  It will be whatever it is and we will love or hate it.

Let me just say, THIS I love:

Mike

The artist J.Q. Hammer came up with a FABULOUS idea of a conventional Western mash up with the TMNT that I can’t stop talking about.  Of course, my prints are going in my nerdy kitchen but you still have time to get your own!

Check it out:  TMNT Western Concept Redesign Project