Wednesday (Netflix, 2022)

“I prefer spooky.”

Despite plenty of callbacks to the original series and films and nods to everything from Edgar Allan Poe to the Headless Horseman, Netflix’s latest series, Wednesday, is much, much more than a nostalgic trip for fans of all things creepy and kooky. Yep, Wednesday is one of the best new series to make its gloomy way to the streamer. I watched the entire series over the weekend and I absolutely loved it.

While catching the many references and Easter eggs in the series was fun, the actual plot of the show was much more interesting. In the series, Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) is sent to Nevermore Academy, a school for outcasts (and the alma mater of her parents), after getting booted from too many public schools. As the days pass at the academy, Wednesday is pulled into an investigation involving a series of grisly murders outside of the school and nearby town of Jericho and also discovers that her father might be a murderer. She forms an uneasy bond with the local sheriff, Donovan Galpin (Jamie McShane), as they attempt to uncover the truth about the brutal murders. She also develops a relationship with the sheriff’s son, Tyler (Hunter Doohan). At the school, Wednesday locks horns with Principal Weem (Gwendoline Christie), befriends the “normie” teacher, Ms. Thornhill (Christina Ricci), and deals with the day to day life of a typical teen in school (but with werewolves, vampires, sirens, and more).

The series has a very “Hogwarts meets Sherlock Holmes” vibe to it. Although the kids at the school aren’t divided into houses like Ravenclaw and Slytherin, they definitely have cliques. There are also a lot of stereotypical characters in the school that all prove to be more than their stereotypes in the long run. There’s Joy Sunday as Bianca Barclay, a siren who happens to be the most popular girl in school. Then you have Percy Hynes White as Xavier Thorpe, the angst-ridden artsy heartthrob who has the ability to bring his paintings to life, some of which can be quite violent. The show also has the nerdy loser with a heart of gold, Eugene Otinger (Moosa Mostafa), who really loves bees and is the lone member of the school’s beekeeping club, the Nevermore Hummers, until Wednesday joins up with him. Last but not least we have the quirky remote and ultimately best friend of Wednesday, Enid Sinclair. Enid is played by Emma Myers and she is the polar opposite of Wednesday. She’s a werewolf who has yet to change who loves bright colors, pop music, and pretty much any and everything that Wednesday despises.

Of course, no series about one member of the Addams family would be complete without at least an occasional appearance by the rest of the gang. Joining Guzman and Catherine Zeta-Jones are Isaac Ordonez as Pugsley, Fred Armisen as Uncle Fester, and George Burcea as Lurch. All of them have fairly limited time on the screen, especially Lurch, but the series manages to have some of its most touching moments with these characters. Specifically, Wednesday is extremely protective of her younger brother, Pugsley, and the duo share a very touching moment late in the series.

Perhaps the biggest star of the series outside of Wednesday is, at least in my opinion, Thing. Yes, Thing is just a hand but he manages to steal nearly ever scene that he appears in throughout the series. Thing is extremely expressive and communicates his messages to the rest of the characters (and the audience) without saying a word. He’s portrayed by Victor Dorobantu, a magician, and he is essentially Wednesday’s right hand man (pun intended) throughout the series. Dorobantu’s performance is amazing and almost moved me to tears.

All of the cast is strong but Jenna Ortega blew me away with her portrayal of Wednesday. Her emotions are revealed in subtle movements and glances. Gwendoline Christie is another favorite of mine in the series as is Jamie McShane. Along with those that I’ve already mentioned, the rest of the cast includes Riki Lindhome as Dr. Kinbott, the town therapist, Tommie Earl Jenkins as Mayor Noble Walker, William Houston as Crackstone, a pivotal figure in the history of Jericho who plays a key role in the series, Georgie Farmer as Ajax, a student at Nevermore who happens to be a gorgon, and Calum Ross as Rowan, a student at Nevermore with telekinetic powers.

This series is surprisingly heartwarming. Tim Burton, who directed the first four episodes and executive produced, definitely has his stamp on the series but it isn’t as obvious as it has been throughout the rest of his projects. That’s a good thing in my book as I don’t immediately think, “Oh, this is a Tim Burton project,” right off the bat. I simply watched the series as it was and enjoyed it. I believe that you’ll enjoy it as well.

I’m sure that Wednesday has something for everyone. There’s mystery, suspense, a little bit of romance, and Pilgrims! This is a fun series and I absolutely love it. If you haven’t watched the series yet, give it a shot.

Thanks for checking out my post. Let me know what you thought of this series in the comments section. See you real soon!

Day Shift (2022)

DAY SHIFT. (L to R) Dave Franco as Seth and Jamie Foxx as Bud in Day Shift. Cr. Parrish Lewis/Netflix © 2022

“Mowing down vamps with my best friend, Bud.”

Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg, and Dave Franco team up to take down Karla Souza in J.J. Perry’s Day Shift. In the film, available only on Netflix, Foxx portrays Bud Jablonski, a down-on-his-luck vampire hunter who gets Big J (Snoop Dogg) to convince the vampire hunting union to reinstate him so that he can collect enough fangs to pay off his daughter’s school tuition and get her fitted for braces so that she and his estranged wife won’t move to Florida. Despite numerous past violations, the union boss, Ralph (Eric Lange) allows Bud back into the union but only if he hunts with a union representative watching his every move. That representative, Seth (Dave Franco), has to tag along for all of Bud’s hunts despite never having stepped foot out of the union office.

The duo soon find themselves the target of Audrey San Fernando (Karla Souza), an ambitious vampire that plans to take over the city by using real estate to build a vampire community. As the hunters become the hunted, Bud and Seth battle it out with Audrey and a number of other vampires. They team up with the Nazarian Brothers, another vampire hunting team, at one point as well. Does Bud manage to prevent his wife and daughter from leaving for good? Does Seth become a field man? Does Snoop save the day? Find out in the hilarious action yarn Day Shift!

Perhaps it is the fact that I set a very low bar for this film but I really, really enjoyed it. The action sequences are simply amazing and surprisingly light on CGI. Contortionists were used for many of the fighting sequences involving vampires, giving them an even creepier vibe. All of the action takes place at a neck breaking pace and serves as a wonderful bridge between plot developing scenes.

There’s also a ton of humor in this film. It’s laced throughout the story at perfect intervals, allowing viewers to take a break from the action and story development, laugh a bit, and then jump right back into the action. The film, despite being about vampires, doesn’t have a lot of horror elements (primarily gore), but that does not mean that it isn’t a horror film. It’s a great blend of horror, comedy, and action and I believe that J.J. Perry did a fine job directing all of it.

The cast was great. Foxx was funny but never too over the top. Franco was hilarious as well. Snoop Dogg’s role is limited but very enjoyable. Souza does a good job as Audrey, but never comes across as an unstoppable beast thanks to the injection of humor into the film. Meagan Good and Zion Broadnax portray Bud’s estranged wife, Jocelyn, and daughter, Paige, respectively. Zion is especially fun to watch on the screen. Eric Lange’s Ralph Seeger is hilariously annoying and I could easily see him become an enemy in a sequel. Oliver Masucci provides a ton of muscle as Klaus, Audrey’s right hand man. Natasha Liu Bordizzo has a small but significant role as Heather, Bud’s new neighbor. Steve Howey and Scott Adkins give Bud some muscular backup as the Nazarian Brothers in one of the film’s biggest action sequences.

I also have to mention the amazing soundtrack for the film. Featuring everyone from Body Count and Ice Cube to A.C.E. and The Blackbyrds, this film has great music that perfectly fits into each scene. There’s also a new track by J. Young called Bob (Mowing Down Vamps), which might just be my favorite track in the whole movie.

This movie is fun. It has great action, tons of humor, and excellent production quality. I keep seeing professional reviewers refer to it as a B-movie but they have it all wrong. This film could have easily been released on the big screen and would have made a solid chunk of money. It’s an excellent film that never tries to be more than it is: a buddy comedy/action/thriller/horror film. I’m just happy to see that it’s available on Netflix, and I believe that you need to watch it. It’s right up there with Bright as one of my favorite Netflix films.

Let me know what you think of the film in the comment section. I really like it and hope that you enjoy it as well. Thanks for reading my post. I’ll see you again real soon!

Bandai Stranger Things “The Void” Series: Eddie

“I didn’t run away this time, right?”

Don’t worry, kids. I won’t be spoiling the latest season of Stranger Things in this post. Well, maybe if you’ve been living under a rock and didn’t know that Eddie Munson was a new character added this season, I just spoiled that with the above photo, but I promise that I won’t spoil anything else besides giving this brief description of the character: Eddie Munson is a metal head, a dungeon master in Dungeons & Dragons, and leader of the Hellfire Club, his own D&D group, at Hawkins High School. He’s become fast friends with Mike, Dustin, and Lucas and will soon find himself being hunted down for a crime that he didn’t commit. He also found himself in action figure form thanks to Bandai.

I was lucky enough to find Eddie’s Stranger Things “The Void” Series 7″ Action Figure from Bandai on clearance at one of my favorite Walmart locations. He was (most likely strategically) placed all of the way at the back of a row of about five Eleven figures. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The figure is available online but this was the first and only time that I’ve seen the figure in an actual store. Top it off with the fact that I snagged him for half of the original retail price (suck on that, scalpers), and I was a very happy fellow.

Now, getting down to my actual review of the figure, the likeness of it to Joseph Quinn is pretty good. The figure is wearing a jacket, a Hellfire Club tee, and Eddie’s iconic denim vest. As far as details go, the vest itself features a number of blank pins and patches and on the back of the jacket we get a Hellfire Club patch instead of the Dio The Last In Line patch featured in the series. I actually don’t mind this as I can imagine that it would have been expensive for Bandai to come up with licensing fees for Dio, W.A.S.P., and any other bands featured on the vest. It doesn’t ruin the figure at all.

I also like the fact that Bandai included the rag hanging from the left back pocket and the wallet chain on the right of Eddie’s pants. They also included slight rips in the jeans at the knees, rings on Eddie’s fingers (all of which are flesh toned) and a few other neat touches. Sure, some of them could have looked better but I’m okay with them overall.

The only things that really disappointed me about this figure were the fact that there were zero accessories and the tongues of his shoes were molded and painted into the bottoms of his jeans instead of on the shoes. It would have been cool to have Eddie’s guitar, maybe a D&D handbook, some twenty-sided dice, or perhaps an extra head with different facial features or another set of hands. The tongues make it difficult to pose Eddie in any fashion where his foot is pointed at an angle since the tongue is permanently in a forward position.

The figure comes with eighteen points of articulation. At least that’s how many I counted. He lacks peg holes in the bottoms of his feet, so you can’t use a standard NECA-style peg stand for this figure. He does stand just fine on his own. The box looks pretty cool. I’m especially fond of the backdrop used inside of the packaging.

Overall this isn’t a bad figure, especially considering that I have seen very little Eddie Munson-specific merchandise in the wild. I haven’t looked online for any Eddie stuff, but now I might have to see if there’s a better figure out there. Let me know what you think of the figure in the comments section and, as always, thanks for checking out my post.

Eddie and the gang!

Metal Lords (2022)

“Why can’t we all not fit in together?”

I like Metal Lords. The 2022 Netflix tale drops us into the lives of three teens, Hunter, Kevin, and Emily, who don’t fit at their school. Hunter dreams of being in a metal band that takes over the world. Kevin is torn between helping his best friend form a metal band and trying to be a normal high school kid. Cello player Emily has to take medication for her rage issues and feels like a misfit because of it. The three of them ultimately come together and plan to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands.

There is absolutely nothing new about this coming-of-age film. We’ve all seen films where misfits try their darnedest to fit in and eventually except who they really are and succeed at being themselves. This film is exactly like all of those other films but with metal as the “misfit” modus operandi. Hunter is a somewhat unlikable kid who pushes away his best friend and refuses (at first) to allow another outsider (Emily) join his group until he realizes that he’s been wrong about both of them. Kevin is a good guy who is average at just about everything, awkward, and loyal to a fault but finally manages to unite his friends to achieve success. Emily is the ultimate outsider. She doesn’t fit in and believes that she doesn’t deserve to fit in because of her mental health issues. She sees herself as a freak and it is up to Kevin to bring her out of her shell.

The film has other standard tropes you’d find in teen comedies. There’s Clay, the good-hearted popular guy who befriends Kevin and “steals” him from Hunter’s band. Then we have Kendall, who is a character on the periphery of popularity. She’s liked by many of the popular kids at her school but still finds herself a little on the outside of everything. There’s also a former standout at the school who pops up late in the film with an inspirational message for one of the teens. Throw in a couple of parties, a little too much drinking, bullies, and a dream sequence featuring guys that metalheads will definitely recognize and you’ve got a standard teen flick.

The film has nothing new in it, but still managed to hold my attention. There are a few genuine laugh-out-loud moments, a couple of sugary sweet interactions between Kevin and Emily, and the aforementioned dream sequence where Rob Halford (Judas Priest, Fight), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Kirk Hammett (Metallica), and Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave) give Kevin some sound relationship advice. It all adds up to a decent movie with heart, tons of great metal music, and some nice laughs.

I got a real Wayne and Garth vibe from Hunter and Kevin. Although they aren’t as dumb as Wayne and Garth, the duo interact and feed off of one another much like that duo. It also helps that Kevin wears glasses and plays the drums and Hunter plays guitar and goes off on rants at moments. Hunter is played by newcomer Adrian Greensmith. He shows a lot of heart and anger as the character. I really wish that his character’s friendship with Robbie (Christopher M. Lopes), a character with his own issues that he has no control over, would have been expanded a bit. Jaeden Martell portrays Kevin. Martell has awkward down pat. He’s an excellent character and the one that I identified with the most in the film. Isis Hainsworth plays Emily. Her character is broken emotionally and Hainsworth does a great job of revealing that in the film. Her awkward moments with Kevin were some of the best moments in the film. The cast is rounded out by Brett Gelman (Stranger Things, Fleabag), Sufe Bradshaw (Veep), Noah Urrea (Now United), Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Magic Mike), and Analesa Fisher (Pretty Little Liars, Chad).

The film is rated “R” for language, sexual references, nudity, and drug/alcohol use. The language is pretty strong in the film. The name of Hunter and Kevin’s band is Skullfucker (which Emily changes with a few supplies from the art department so that they can enter the Battle of the Bands). There are a ton of images on the walls of the teens’ rooms that some might deem inappropriate for younger viewers. A couple of the teens have sex but nothing is shown and there’s a brief bit of nudity during a skinny dipping scene where we see both male and female bottoms. The drug and alcohol use is limited to brief moments at the parties including Kevin puking after drinking too much.

The film isn’t amazing or cutting edge but it is a nice diversion for an afternoon. If you’re a fan of different types of metal as I am, you’ll definitely want to check this movie out for its soundtrack. Tom Morello was the film’s executive music producer and he definitely made sure to throw in metal from different ages and styles. He also wrote the film’s big track, Machinery Of Torment, which I highly recommend. Be on the lookout for a ton of metal references everywhere in the film as well.

I do recommend this film but I don’t expect you to be blown away by it. It’s a fun film with great music, comedic teen awkwardness, and characters that we can all identify with from different points in our lives. I hope that you watch it and I hope that you like it.

Thanks for checking out my review.

Masters of the Universe: Revelation He-Man

“I have……the powerrrrrr!”

No matter what you think about Kevin Smith’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation, you’ve got to admit that the coolest thing that it gave us is some awesome new figures. I am in love with all of these new figures and hope to review most of them in the coming months. I’ve already reviewed a couple of the other figures in this line, but now I want to focus on the figure that all of the old school fans want to get their hands on: He-Man.

He-Man comes in a beautiful box just like every other figure in this line. The back of the box features a great illustration of He-man and shows four of the figures in the line. The only two missing are Battle Cat and Skelegod.

The figure comes with two sets of hands (one pair gripped for accessories, one closed fist, and one open hand suitable for slapping Skeletor), the Sword of Power, He-Man’s iconic shield, and a bracer that fits over his left forearm. The bracer can be removed and the shield will easily slide over He-Man’s left arm. Use the “slapping” hand to hold it in position (at least in my opinion). The shield does fit a bit loose, but if you tuck He-Man’s arms up, the shield will stay in place.

As with every other figure in this line, Mattel states that there are thirty points of articulation. I count twenty-seven on He-Man and have yet to county thirty on any other figure in this line. The joints are hit-and-miss just like the Skelegod figure. The arm POA are very stiff and the leg POA and the torso POA are loose. He-Man does manage to stand on his own quite well, but I display him with a NECA figure stand to keep him from falling over on my shelf.

The figure looks amazing. He’s very reminiscent of the classic He-Man that I grew up with but has a slightly updated look. His face is also gentler looking than the fierce classic look of He-Man. That being said, the figure is pretty cool and he looks great standing alongside Battle Cat. It should be noted that he sits awkwardly on the back of Battle Cat. I couldn’t manage to get him to stay in place. That doesn’t really matter to me that much as I prefer to display them standing side by side but I wanted to make you aware of this particular issue.

Definitely get your hands on this figure. Be sure to pick up Battle Cat as well as the duo make a great looking pair on a shelf. Thanks for checking out my post. I hope to review more of these MOTU figures soon.

Masters of the Universe Revelation: Skelegod

“So….then let me be…a god….”

I was recently offered the opportunity to review the Mattel Masters of the Universe: Revelation Skelegod deluxe action figure. To say that I was just a tad excited is an understatement. I jumped at the chance to get my hands on this 7.5″ tall beast of a figure. Once I got it in hand, I was rather impressed with the overall look of the figure and couldn’t wait to open the box.

The box itself is a work of art. Featuring an amazing illustration of Skelegod in all of his glory on the back and one side, it’s definitely eye-catching. The back of the box also features all of the other characters currently available in the line including Battle Cat. You can read my review of that particular figure here.

The figure is very impressive. He’s big and has a lot of weight to himself. Skelegod comes with two sets of interchangeable hands (one pair of open hands and one pair of hands that grip accessories). He also comes with the Sword of Power and a green energy burst that can be attached to the gripping hands. Despite the translucent green molding, the burst and the area around Skelegod’s neck are not glow-in-the-dark. This was sort of a letdown if I’m being completely honest.

The box declares that this figure has thirty points of articulation but just like Battle Cat, I can’t seem to find all of these points. The articulation as a whole is hit and miss. Many of the joints are loose to the point of being difficult to set into position (especially the leg joints from the knee down). Other joints are very tight, especially the shoulders. Despite the loose leg joints, I was able to position the figure and keep him standing with the use of a NECA figure stand. The bracers, shoulder pads, and loin cloth are all made of very pliable plastic. The bracers slip off easily once you remove the hands. They also move easily on the figure’s wrists.

One of the coolest things about this figure in my opinion is his soft goods cape. The cape features two heavy plastic studs that give it weight and it looks great on the figure. You can also remove the cape if you’d like. It sits on the back of the figure on a small slot and is secured with two metal studs that lock into place.

The figure’s paint applications are excellent. They are a perfect blend of bright greens, dark blues, blacks, and different shades of purple. The skull face and the horns also look great. As I’ve already stated, this figure is visually stunning and he is second only to Ming the Merciless when it comes to his overall look. Skelegod looks awesome on my shelf next to Ming, Bizarro, and other six and seven inch figures.

You’d be a bungling buffoon if you didn’t purchase this figure for your Masters of the Universe collection. The legs are a bit of a concern but use a stand and your figure should be just fine on your shelf. Thanks for checking out my post. I have another MOTU post coming tomorrow, so be on the lookout for that! Nyaaaaahhh!!!!

Masters of the Universe: Revelation Masterverse Battle Cat!

Roaring into action!

I recently watched and reviewed the new Netflix series Masters of the Universe: Revelation. You can read my thoughts on the series here. I was also fortunate enough to receive a free MOTU:R Masterverse Battle Cat to review as well! This figure is wonderfully massive, has great articulation, and looks awesome standing on my desk. He takes up a lot of real estate, but he’s too beautiful to box up and put away. Read on to get a more detailed review of the figure.

The packaging is beautiful. It features original artwork on the back and one side panel. When you open the top of the box, the words By The Power Of Grayskull are revealed. Getting Battle Cat out of the box was simple enough. I simply opened the top of the box after slicing one small adhesive closure and BC slid right out with ease. Getting him out of his security bands and the plastic casing was a different story.

The first thing that I noticed about this green kitty was that Mattel definitely wanted him to stay put! There’s a clear plastic band across his waist, tail, and all four legs. There’s also two bands holding his head and helmet in place. The right side paws of Battle Cat were rather tough to get to with a knife, but I managed to cut them without damaging the figure. The plastic case also holds BC in place securely, so be ready for a little bit of a fight to get him out of the plastic.

Once out of the box, I took a look at the figure with his full armor in place. The helmet stays put by snugly locking into place behind Battle Cat’s ears and jaw. It features painted eyes that look exactly like the ones on Battle Cat in MOTU: R. The saddle is held in place with two belts. One sits at BC’s midriff and the other sits near the rear hindquarters. You can adjust the belt’s fit to your liking. Both the helmet and saddle can be removed to reveal Prince Adam’s best bud, Cringer.

Cringer looks simply wonderful. I’ve read other reviews that state that this is the first time that we get a true Cringer action figure, but as a guy who grew up with the original series and literally saved all of his pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to buy the He-Man and Battle Cat combo set, I can say that whenever I removed that old Battle Cat’s armor, he was Cringer in my book. Sure, he had a menacing growl on his face, but he was still Cringer to me.

One thing that I have to mention is that the box claims that there are thirty points of articulation on this figure. By my count, there are only twenty. You could argue that there are twenty-two if you claim the up and down movement of Battle Cat’s two torso POAs is separate from their side-to-side articulation. In any case, I’m missing eight to ten POAs and would love it if someone told me where they might be on this figure. Would that have prevented me from getting this figure? Nope, but I just thought that I’d bring some light to that misinformation on the box.

The articulation on this figure is exceptional. It’s very easy to pose BC and he looks awesome in just about any position that you place him. I’m especially fond of his head and torso articulation which makes him very cat-like. I do wish that the tail had one or two of POAs, but it looks fine as is.

Since I don’t have any of the other figures in this line at the moment, I decided to include a photo of Battle Cat with the only other hero that I believe he would make a good companion with, the Phantom. I think the contrasting of purple and green looks pretty smart. How about you? In all seriousness, I’ve included this photo to give you a size reference.

I definitely recommend sinking your claws into the Masters of the Universe: Revelation Masterverse Battle Cat action figure. He’s big. He’s beautiful. He’s a wonderful toy.

Thanks for reading my post. I’ll be posting about an upcoming event that I’ll be attending in the near future, so be on the lookout for that post!

Masters of the Universe: Revelation Part One

“I….have….the……powerrrr?????”

General Spoiler Free Review Ahead…..But There Are MAJOR Spoilers Later In This Post. I’ll Warn You When They Arrive.

I watched all five episodes of executive producer/writer Kevin Smith’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation this weekend. I watched the first episode, the only one written by Smith, and knew immediately that it would put a sour taste in the mouths of many fans of the original series. I’ll touch on the actual episode in a bit, but just know that if you can make it through that first episode, the rest of the series is very good. It manages to capture the essence of the original series, including cheesy puns and jokes, while “adulting” it up a little bit. That means that some people might die.

For the most part the series is very well done, but I really don’t like the way that two characters behave in the first episode. King Randor and Teela have out-of-character reactions to a revelation in the first episode. I just don’t buy that either of these characters would do what they do at this particular moment. The rest of the series is basically derived from Teela’s actions in that moment but, thankfully, the rest of the show’s writers seem to have a better handle on the personalities of all of the characters, especially Evil-Lyn and Beast Man, who, to me, are two of the best characters in the series. These writers save the series in my opinion.

The first part of the series ends in a cliffhanger and gives fans of the classic series hope that what was wronged in the first episode will be righted in part two….unless Kevin Smith wants to see how many gut-punches he can toss at old fans of the show.

Is it worth watching? Absolutely. Almost all of the cast is brilliant. Lena Headey, Henry Rollins, Mark Hamill, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tiffany Smith, and Stephen Root are just a few of the amazing voice actors in the show. The biggest disappointment, however, was Sarah Michelle Gellar. She portrays Teela and comes off entirely too bubbly at moments to be a true warrior like the one that Teela was portrayed as in the original series. Considering the fact that Teela is the focus of most of the series, it’s a bit annoying to hear Gellar chew her way through lines while other actors are dominating their roles.

I really like the way this story develops with each episode. At just under thirty minutes each, you can blaze through part one in a little over two hours. It’s nice to see these classic characters back in action and I’m looking forward to part two.

Everything Below This Photo Of The Mighty Skeletor Is A Spoiler! You’ve Been Warned! Nyaaaahhhh!!!!!

This series has so much going for it that I hate to be too critical with my review. The fact of the matter, though, is that Kevin Smith and Netflix sold this series as a show about He-Man and Skeletor and immediately took them out of the equation. As anybody that is part of any fandom knows, you never pull the bait-and-switch on hardcore fans without warning them a little bit. That’s unfortunate in my opinion, because the killing of the two titans in the first episode actually sets up a brilliant storyline that many classic fans will never watch because their childhood feelings were bruised.

Thankfully I managed to check my childhood at the door and was able to enjoy the rest of the series. I like the fact that Teela sets out to save Eternia but I really, really dislike her reaction to the revelation that Prince Adam and He-Man are one and the same. I also found it absolutely ridiculous that King Randor banished pretty much everybody that ever put their life on the line for him, his family, and Eternia. While the adventure is excellent, the initial motivation is bunk. I understand being hurt after finding out such a massive secret, but none of the heroes in the original series ever showed animosity to one another. Perhaps it happened in the comics, but I never read those.

Now I’ll break my spoilers down in bullet form:

  • Pro: The overall plot of the series was excellent.
  • Con: Sarah Michelle Gellar’s voice acting. Teela shouldn’t sound like an excited cheerleader going into battle.
  • Pro: Every single villain. From Scare Glow to Stinkor and Tri-Klops to Beast Man, the villains were awesome.
  • Con: The lack of more heroes. I’d really love to see characters like Stratos, Ram-Man, and Sy-Klone make appearances. Maybe they’ll show up in the second part.
  • Pro: Orko finally gets to shine. Being the bumbling idiot most of the time in the old series, it was nice to see Orko take charge. I don’t believe that we’ve seen the last of him. I expect him to escape from Subternia.
  • Con: The “shocking” death of Moss-Man. It felt forced and came across as more of a “look what Kevin can do in this universe” move instead of an actual plot device. I would have been just fine with only the deaths of He-Man and Skeletor in the first episode.
  • Pro: Wun-Dar. Seeing all of the champions was awesome, but this guy is just cool. As a tie-in figure for Wonder Bread, he’s one of the most wonderfully cheesy things in the MOTU universe.
  • Pro: The growth of Evil-Lyn as an individual and her ultimate downfall. She found freedom with Skeletor gone but she and Beast Man (who is loyal to a fault in my opinion) quickly fell back in line when he returned.
  • Pro: Beast Man isn’t a moron anymore. While he chuckles at a goofy joke by Evil-Lyn, there’s very little of the original screw-up in the new series. Beast Man is a protector and he does that to perfection in this series.
  • Con: I wanted more Mer-Man. This version of the character comes across as more sinister and I hope that I get to see more of him.
  • Pro: The opening sequence of the first episode. The wonderful classic artwork used to catch up new fans and to remind old fans of the past was simply amazing. It was the best part of the first episode.
  • Pro: Something tells me that Hordak will eventually make an appearance thanks to the MOTU Revelation Revelations Aftershow. You can see a figure of him in the background of many scenes. Will he show up at the end of part two? What about She-Ra? I’d love to see the Fright Zone explored in this new series.
  • Pro: All of the nods to all things MOTU that weren’t part of the original series. From characters such as Andra from the comics to a nod to the flying discs used in the live action film with Dolph Lundgren, these little winks made me smile.

I could go on, but I believe that I’ll stop for now. If you’ve made it this far, I assume that you’ve watched the series. Let me know what you think in the comments section. Did you enjoy the series? What were your pros and cons? I really want to know so please leave a comment. Thanks for checking out my post. I’ve got one more MOTU post planned for later this week and a special announcement coming on Wednesday! See you soon!

Vampires Vs. The Bronx (2020)

“Sanguine”-trification!

Using vampires as a metaphor for gentrification is a great idea. When injected into the right kind of film, be it a straight horror film or a blended horror/comedy, it has the potential to not only educate but entertain. In Netflix’s Vampires Vs. The Bronx, the idea is definitely present, but the film struggles to decide whether it is a horror, a comedy, or both. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed watching this film, it just never fully committed to any genre or ideals.

In the film, a young boy named Miguel is organizing a block party to save his friend’s bodega. Hoping to stop the gentrification of his neighborhood by preserving the bodega, Miguel is joined on his campaign by his friends Bobby and Luis. At the same time, a real estate company is gobbling up all of the businesses and other properties in the area in order to bring in upscale shops and a higher income bracket of residents.

In actuality, the real estate company is just a front for a group of vampires intent on buying out the Bronx and establishing their own base of operations. Miguel and his friends, along with a mixed bag of allies, join forces to battle the vampires and save the Bronx. Can they do it? Give this film a shot in order to find out.

The film is enjoyable enough to watch, but I got the feeling that it was trying too hard to stay in the middle of everything and never attempting to rise above being average. The humor is very light, too light to dub this film a comedy in my opinion. The horror isn’t very scary, either. The message on gentrification was there, but even its delivery seems watered down. Had the film fully embraced the horror angle, this could have been a great film with a profound message. The same could be said for it if it had committed to being a full-blown comedy. Instead, we get a light comedy/lighter horror flick that doesn’t fully quench the thirst of its viewers.

The film does have a lot going for it. Its young cast anchors the film and makes an otherwise average flick watchable. Jaden Michael stars as Miguel and Gerald W. Jones III and Gregory Diaz IV costar as Bobby and Luis, respectively. Coco Jones portrays Rita, a young lady that Miguel has a crush on, and does a wonderful job whenever she’s on the screen, but isn’t on the screen enough to save the film. Another young cast member, Imani Lewis, injects humor from time to time as the neighborhood’s local live feed queen, Gloria.

The adult cast is solid as well, especially Joel Martinez as Tony, the owner of the bodega and a father figure to all three of the young boys. In a surprisingly funny turn as a priest, Method Man steals the show with his brief screen time. Sarah Gadon is wonderful as Vivian when she’s in vampire mode, but her innocent “basic” white girl persona is boring and highly predictable. The rest of the vampires are good enough and their look is awesome, but they aren’t around long enough to impact the movie.

I also appreciate the nods to classic vampire films. Many of the film’s scenes reminded me of The Lost Boys and I am especially fond of the real estate company’s name. Others have compared the film to The Monster Squad as well, but I don’t see the connection myself.

Again, this film is good and I do recommend watching it, I just wish that it would have taken a bigger bite out of the comedy or the horror. It’s sort of just there and leaves the viewer wanting. It’s a missed opportunity in my book.

Thanks for reading my post. Let me know what you thought of this film in the comments section!

Let’s Kick It! A Look At Cobra Kai (2018-Present)

“A Coors Banquet for me and a Shirley Temple for the lady”

Originally released in 2018 on YouTube Red, Cobra Kai is a web series that continues the story of two of the primary characters from the classic The Karate Kid franchise. Those two characters are Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). I’m a huge fan of the original film and this series picks up over thirty years after the events of the original film and its sequels, so it was a no-brainer for me to watch this series once it hit Netflix.

Mild Spoilers Ahead!!!

The series opens with Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) as a man trapped in the 1980’s, haunted by his failures as a member of the Cobra Kai dojo, and a generally down-on-his-luck person. He loses his job as a handyman and still lives in the shadow of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), who owns a successful line of car dealerships throughout the Los Angeles area.

Somewhat desperate for work, Johnny agrees to reopen the Cobra Kai dojo and takes on his first student, the quiet and somewhat nerdy Miguel (Xolo Mariduena), who is practically a mirror image of Daniel LaRusso from the original film. Eventually more outcasts and nerd-types join Cobra Kai including Aisha (Nichole Brown) and Eli (Jacob Bertrand). Johnny is verbally abusive at first, but he slowly comes to love and appreciate the students. His abrasive form of caring convinces Eli to revamp himself as “Hawk,” a bully with a massive mohawk and all of the other students hold fast to the “No Mercy” mantra of Cobra Kai.

As the series rolls along, Johnny and Daniel reignite their rivalry, with Daniel reviving the Miyagi-Do dojo and unknowingly taking on Johnny’s son, Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan), as his first student. Daniel also has to come to terms with his daughter, Sam (Mary Mouser), being in a relationship with Miguel, who continues to believe in his sensei despite Johnny’s many shortcomings.

While Johnny is battling his own demons, Daniel’s revival of Miyagi-Do dojo doesn’t go over as well as he’d hoped. He struggles to find students and helps build the rivalry between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do despite his good intentions. In both business and personal affairs, Daniel consistently makes bad decisions that cause issues between him and his family and between him and Johnny. In particular, the second season focuses on how Daniel’s desire to best Johnny results in a strained relationship with his wife, Amanda (Courtney Henggeler).

A number of other relationships and rivalries build over the show’s two seasons. Robby and Sam become close and events happen that cause Robby and Miguel to despise one another. Hawk develops a rivalry with his longtime friend, Demetri (Giani Decenzo), who is forced out of Cobra Kai by the returning John Kreese, Johnny’s sadistic sensei from the original films. Tory Nichols (Peyton List) is thrown into the fray in the second season as a foil to Sam.

The series works on three levels in my opinion: 1) The nostalgia is deeply rooted in each episode. From classic 80’s music to fan favorite characters and references, the series is loaded with Easter eggs for those of us who grew up with the original films. 2) It’s a solid teen drama that develops all of the new young characters for the younger demographic but doesn’t sacrifice the adult drama of the classic characters for older fans. 3) It’s a morality tale that shows us that just because Johnny was the “villain” long ago, it doesn’t mean that he can’t change. Also, Daniel isn’t the great white knight that some older fans might remember him to be from the old films.

The cast is solid all around. Zabka really gets to shine as Johnny and Macchio shows his range as Daniel struggling with poor decisions. The younger cast do great jobs, especially Xolo Mariduena and Nichole Brown. Martin Kove slithers right back into his devilish role as Kreese, and does a great job of undermining both Daniel and Johnny. Fans of The Big Bang Theory will recognize Courtney Henggeler as Sheldon’s twin sister, Missy. The rest of the cast do great jobs as well, giving us characters to love, hate, cheer for, or despise altogether.

Flashbacks help catch up any viewers that haven’t seen the original films, but they don’t overshadow the new stories in the series. Old fans will love seeing these moments and new fans will find them useful to understand Daniel and Johnny’s backstory.

This is an excellent series. For myself, nostalgia made me watch the show initially, but the stories and relationships of the series have kept me interested. Season Three is due out sometime next year on Netflix, and I can’t wait to see how Johnny and Daniel come together or grow farther apart in the series. Season Two ended with a bang, with a number of the characters in terrible positions. I’m excited to see how everything is resolved.

Thanks for reading this post. Be sure to check out Cobra Kai. You will not regret it! Also, I’m totally in love with Courtney Henggeler, so if you know her or anybody that does, please get me in touch with them because I want an autographed photo of Courtney!