Bru’s Reviews – 3 FOR 1: FROM SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 ALADDIN TO GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS

By Bru-Hed
All original written content is (c) 2019 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.

THIS WEEK:

This is my last review here on the site for a while (more on that later) so I’ll make these quick so you can be on your way to the theater–or your couch.

First up: Illumination, the fine folks behind the animated brilliance of MINIONS and DESPICABLE ME, offer up another round of dog, cat, bunny and bird shenanigans in PETS 2.

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Bru’s Quick Review – JOHN WICK 3: CHAPTER 3-PARABELLUM TRIPLES THE MAYHEM

By Bru-Hed
All original written content is (c) 2018 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.

THIS WEEK:

Keanu Reeves’ “don’t mess with my dog” assassin, John Wick, is on the run. He’s been listed as “ex-communicado” by The High Table he used to serve after breaking the rules on the consecrated ground of The Continental hotel in Chapter 2. With a $14 million bounty on his always-sweaty head, he has to fight, beat, kick, run over, stab, slice, shoot, blast and/or blow up every hitman in multiple countries while trying to save himself along with those who helped him (Lawrence Fishburn, Ian McShane, Halle Berry) in the last film…and while getting beat, kicked, run over, stabbed, shot, etcetera, himself (of course).

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Bru’s Reviews – AVENGERS: ENDGAME ENDS WITH BANGS AND WHIMPERS

By Bru-Hed (with help from Mike Pascale)
All original written content is (c) 2018 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.

THIS WEEK:

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE (finally)! After 22 films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe wraps up its 11-year storyline in the conclusion to last year’s AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. Five years after “the vanishing,” the remaining supes (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Bruce Banner/Hulk, War Machine, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, Rocket and Nebula–I think), are (kinda) trying to move on with their lives (or nearing death in space) until Ant-Man comes back from the Quantum Realm (seen at the end of ANT-MAN AND THE WASP) with an idea. From there, spoilers abound so that’s all I can say!

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Bru’s Quick Review – HELLBOY REBOOT IS GORY AND FUN AS HELL

By Bru-Hed
All original written content is (c) 2018 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.

THIS WEEK:

Dark Horse’s HELLBOY joins GHOSTBUSTERS, ALIEN, TERMINATOR, THE PUNISHER and of course, SPIDER-MAN for a romp in the reboot room! Apparently Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 original is now too old for the 18-25 demo, so this time, David Harbour (STRANGER THINGS/SUICIDE SQUAD) takes Ron Perlman’s identity as the son from Hell. The smart-crackin’ Big Red One, with his adoptive Earth dad Ian McShane (JOHN WICK/PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN) and the B.P.R.D., try to stop the return of a pieced-together Blood Queen, Mila Jovovovich (RESIDENT EVIL) who wants to plunge the world into a monster-filled darkness, while Hellboy ponders which side to take. (After this, be sure read special guest reviewer Steve Bissette’s take!)

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HELLBOY Review by special guest Stephen R. Bissette

 

by and © Stephen R. Bissette

 

As a longtime fan (love at first sight/experience, actually) of whacked monster movies like Tobe Hooper/Dan O’Bannon/Don Jakoby’s LIFEFORCE (1985), Ridley Scott and William Hjortsberg’s LEGEND (also ’85), and Lamberto Bava/Dardano Sacchetti/Dario Argento/Franco Ferrini’s DEMONI/DEMONS (1986: all movies I saw in the theater, as they opened, in the ’80s), all I can tell ya is I had a hell of a good time with HELLBOY (2019) on its terms. I went with no expectations, taking the ride as it came; well, OK, I wanted a monster movie. I got one hell of a monster movie, stem to stern.

This HELLBOY maintains its fidelity to Mike Mignola‘s character and mythos, but David Harbour’s Hellboy comes off like a teenage version of the Hellboy I know and love from Mike’s seminal creation—it’s not quite as off-putting as how the comicbook version of Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood’s ‘Man With No Name’ character of a few years back, the one who couldn’t shut the fuck up, eschewing what made Clint Clint in the Leone westerns, but this is a more whiny talkative Hellboy. Like I say: teenager by compare, closer to, oh, most American males of the 21st century, actually. And everyone plays off Barbour’s Hellboy as if he were a teenager: his “Dad” Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane, doing Ian McShane), scarred M11 agent Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), psychic Alice (Sasha Lane), everyone. The monsters keep beating the living snot out of Hellboy, too: he keeps ending up down, hammered, pierced and punctured and grunting and whining, and that no doubt puts a lot of folks off, but hey, these are fucking monsters: Hellboy ends up holding his own just fine. I’ve no problems with this, on the movie’s own terms (it’s not about MY terms, or even Mike Mignola’s terms: it’s about the movie, its terms, when I’m in the movie).

Having had my fill of PG-13 genre pandering, the exuberant ferocity of this HELLBOY’s onscreen mayhem is a blast: I haven’t had this level of fun with a brand-new monster movie since OVERLORD. Neil Marshall doesn’t play GAMERA games, either: it’s not multicolored monster/demon blood, this is monster fights and flesh-ripping, bone-splintering, skull-shattering monster gore like R ratings didn’t used to permit. Marshall and Cosby tip their hand in the opening minutes, kicking off with a recreation of the SANTO VS. LAS MUJERES VAMPIRO/SAMSON VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN (1962) Santo-unmasks-the-lycanthrope revelation that had me laughing aloud and ramping up from there. The definite highlight for me was Baba Yaga (Emma Tate, voice, & Troy James, performance), who the post-credits promise a more prominent role next time around—if there is a next time around, given all the much-like-teen-Hellboy’s-whining whining online I caught up on after seeing the movie. For me, this screen take on Baba Yaga ranks up there with Robert Picardo’s turn as Meg Mucklebones in LEGEND (another absolutely terrific fantasy/monster outing, even in butchered form, that everybody carped about back in the day).

Lest you consider my comparison to LIFEFORCE in any way misplaced, the only spoiler I’ll toss in is that HELLBOY 2019 follows a similarly wayward wander across the British Isles to arrive at and inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, where instead of spazmo Steve Railsback wielding a phallic blade to route a nude Mathilda May spouting one of those glittery energy spirals (those bombastic nonsensical lightshows now so essential to the Marvel movie franchises) up to her orbiting spaceship, we have yet another embodiment-of-male-dread-of-all-female-power-incarnate (Blood Queen Milla Jovovich) and yet another phallocentric weapon (no spoiler from me, but all this shit is SO perfectly in tune with a whiny teenage Hellboy in this insane era of incels we’re stuck in: scary powerful women! Where is my penis/sword?) and yet another London apocalypse. This being the fusion of Mike Mignola and Neil Marshall universes, the London apocalypse here is even loopier than LIFEFORCE’s, as is the carnage, and just as much fun.

 

 

There’s a lot wrong with this HELLBOY, but I had a blast, so fuck listing my caveats. There always was a lot wrong—I mean, a fucking LOT—with LIFEFORCE and LEGEND and DEMONS (a fuckingfuckinglot), but those movies were a blast to see/hear/experience in the theater in the 1980s, and HELLBOY 2019 delivered all the monster matinee fun I could ask for in 2019. It’s another goddamned big-budget CGI comicbook tentpole franchise movie, yes, and there isn’t one credible thing anyone who has defended a single fucking Marvel or DC movie to me over the past three decades can possibly say that can change the fact I had a blast with this HELLBOY as it was unreeling. Just as Guy Ritchie’s SNATCH (2000) is more like Chester Gould’s ‘Dick Tracy’ than any DICK TRACY film ever made, in comics terms, actually, HELLBOY 2019 is closer to Eric Powell’s ‘The Goon’ in tenor and tone, and just as violent. It’s noisy and rambling and full of action-movie bullshit illogic (characters run impossible miles in nanoseconds: what else is new?) and so on and so forth, but I paid my money and I had my popcorn and I had my fun, and it riffed on everything from Santo movies to FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996) to TROLLJEGERON / TROLLHUNTER (2010) with energy and style, and it is what it is. At times it’s a stupid cacophony, yes, but it’s my kind of stupid cacophony.

Along with Baba Yaga, Thomas Haden Church as Lobster Johnson was the other real highlight, and if you bolt out of your seat like the dumbshits in the audience I was with did when the credits begin, you’ll miss a great coda bit with Lobster Johnson (and yes, I had time after that to go take a piss and come back in time for the final credits crawl and the Baba Yaga bit at the very very very end; just keep your ticket stub with you so you can argue with the theater staff in time to duck back in and catch it. Tell ’em you dropped your cell phone or left your hat or something, just get back in there in time).

Is it Mike Mignola’s Hellboy? I’ve got a shelf full and long white box full of Mike Mignola’s Hellboys, and I love ’em. Is it Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy? No, and I wasn’t promised del Toro’s Hellboy (and I have those, two/too, happily); ya, it sucks Guillermo didn’t get to make the trilogy he wanted to, but there ya go, it’s not the fault of anyone in this outing. Is it Ron Perlman as Hellboy? No, it’s David Harbour (STRANGER THINGS) as Hellboy, and while I too prefer Perlman’s, well, WTF. This is Andrew Cosby and Neil Marshall’s HELLBOY, and whatever development hell led to this Hellboy, it pushes its R-rated mayhem to the max (more body parts, blood-splattering, and limbs-and-guts-flying than any studio film of 2019 thus far) and cranks the often-intrusive score to the max (hence the DEMONI/DEMONS reference point).

There it is, and there ya have it. I’m likely going to catch it again in a big blasting theater one more time, while I can. It’s not a Bestof2019, but it damn well is one of the most Funof2019.

Bru’s Reviews – TWO-FER: SHAZAM! THE ORIGINAL CAPTAIN MARVEL BESTS MARVEL’S CAPTAIN MARVEL

By Bru-Hed
All original written content is (c) 2018 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.

THIS WEEK:

Wrap your geek head around this! The original Captain Marvel (a kid who became a guy in a red and yellow uniform with a lightning bolt on his chest) was introduced in 1940 and ended up outselling Superman, so DC sued the publisher, Fawcett, claiming he was a ripoff of Supes. DC won and put ’em out of the comic-book business. (Fawcett ended up publishing paperback books).
In 1967, Marvel came out with their cosmic Captain Marvel (aka Mar-Vell, an alien Kree warrior dude ina green and white outfit), which continued thru the ’70s and they trademarked. So in 1972 when DC licensed the Fawcett version (basically admitting he really wasn’t a Supes ripoff after all), they published new adventures of him under the title SHAZAM!, the name of the Wizard who granted his powers (which alter ego Billy Batson yells to become CM; “Shazam” stands for Solomon (wisdom), Hercules (strength), Atlas (stamina), Zeus (power), Achilles (courage) and Mercury (speed)).

According to Wikipedia, DC bought all of Fawcett’s characters in 1991. Marvel cancelled their Captain Marvel but brought it back a gazillion times to keep the trademark, first in their first graphic novel to kill him, then as a black woman (Monica Rambeau), then at least two alien-white guys (including the first guy’s son), a white alien woman, another white alien guy, and eventually the current white Earth woman, Carol Danvers, who was the girlfriend of the first guy and is now besties with Monica who in the film is just a normal Air Force pilot.

Finally, around 2013, DC said the heck with this dual Marvel thing and with a relaunch of their “universe,” officially changed theirs to “Shazam.”

Got all that? (If so, please explain it to me before my head explodes.)


Anyway, a month after Marvel’s female Captain Marvel flick, DC’s finally has finally showed up. Though late, Marvel’s is still in theaters so here are Quickies of both.
First, Marvel’s Captain:

 

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Bru’s Quick Review – THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART

By Bru-Hed
All original written content is (c) 2018 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.

THIS WEEK: A short take on THE LEGO MOVIE 2 with the Pro, Con and things that make you say “WTH?” I’ll make it quick so you can drive to the theater–or crawl to your easy chair.

It’s been five years since everything was awesome in Bricksburg: now everything is dystopian and dark—except for always-awesome Emmett Brickowski of course. That’s ’cause the LEGO Duplo toys (for little kids) has invaded the hometown (and caused the disappearance of The Justice League). Now Emmett, gal-pal-really-the-hero Lucy/Wyldestyle, LEGO Batman, Unikitty/Ultrakitty, MetalBeard, Benny and the gang, along with a mystery swashbuckler from the future, must prevent Ourmomageddon and bring back the awesomeness as the two live-action siblings behind the action must also learn to play nice.

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Bru’s Quick Review – AQUAMAN’S GOOD BAD AND UGLY

By Bru-Hed
All original written content is (c) 2018 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.

THIS WEEK:

THIS WEEK: Another short take with the Good, Bad and the Ugly (in tribute to 88-year-old Clint Eastwood, whose new movie “The Mule” was still in the Top 5). I’ll make these quick so you can drive to the theater–or your easy chair.

First up: DC’s sea-swimming member of the Justice League, Aquaman, finally gets his own flick after 75 years (created in 1941, the year of Pearl Harbor. And if you’re an American who doesn’t know the significance of either, Google it immediately…but first smack yourself in the face). Jason CONAN Mamoa plays the “guy who can talk to fish” in the origin story starting with how Arthur Curry’s parents (human dude and queen of Atlantis) met. From there it’s about reclaiming a throne while stopping a world war/surface takeover plus a subplot involving villain Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and a half-bro (Patrick Wilson).

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The Absolute 100% Indisputable TRUTH About STAN LEE

Stan Lee FOOM poster by Arnold Sawyer

Article and above poster photo ©2018 Mike Pascale. All other photos copyright their respective owners.

In the wake of Stan Lee’s recent passing, there was a flood of tributes and remembrances from friends and fans and peers. And, sadly, several negative posts and articles from those without any semblance of propriety, respect or shame. (There’s nothing wrong with presenting both sides of a celebrity’s life or achievements, but during mourning is hardly the time to do so.)

Several of these bashings and laughable “exposés” were from anonymous cowards using fake names on social media, and others were from so-called “professionals” (including Esquire.com, of all places) who should know better. To illustrate how trustworthy and accurate these coal-rakings were, none of them were written by people who actually knew or worked with Stan. And none I saw took the time to interview or speak with anyone who actually knew Stan. You know, like a real journalist would. (Esquire didn’t even allow comments on its own article! Now there’s trust in your writer.)

They simply cobbled together old news reports and articles from websites, magazines or fanzines published ages ago. The issues were either allegations of “sexual harassment” from a couple of Stan’s nurses while in elder care in his 90s (not a single such report could be found before any age-related dementia) or credit and/or financial issues with Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, the two creative partners whom Marvel (the company) arguably mistreated long, long ago. (Stan was an employee of Marvel, not its CEO or president, while Steve and Jack, like the other artists, were freelancers, i.e., independent contractors.)

 

Regardless of what you think of Stan Lee—hero or villain, genius or hack, sweetheart or snake, or something in-between, you should take every single article and post—regardless of who writes it—with a grain of salt. I’m here to tell you that NONE OF THEM are 100% factual. Nope. Nada. Because the only people who know exactly what happened and when, and who did what on which character and story, were those directly involved at the time.

When it comes to Marvel’s mainstays of Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Daredevil, Ant-Man, Black Panther, Silver Surfer, The Avengers and all others both major and minor that were created by Stan Lee with Steve Ditko and/or Jack Kirby, those men are gone. Forever. No historian, journalist, author, friend, family member, peer, office worker, chauffeur, maid, restaurant worker, convention organizer or (especially) fan was actually there at the time Stan, Jack and Steve’s characters and stories were being created, from idea through final publication. (A precious few may have been present at certain points, and may have heard one side of the story from one or more of those involved, but only those three dudes were there for the entire time.) Everything else is either hearsay, conjecture or speculation, and not worth more than the pixels this article is published with.

Sorry, folks, but that’s the way history works. There was no YouTube or cellphone video recording what Stan and his artists said to each other while those characters and tales were created, so we will never know for sure. You can choose whom you wish to believe and when and which version, but that’s it: it is your choice. IT IS NOT INDISPUTABLE FACT. (If it were, there wouldn’t be any disputes! DUH.)

I know people want everything cut and dry, good and evil, as black-and-white as Ditko’s Mr. A presented the world, but life ain’t like that. It’s all gray because people do good and bad stuff throughout their lives, memories are fungible and fleeting over decades and often unreliable. If you and I can’t remember what we wore or said two weeks ago, how can we expect guys to remember exactly who said and did what half a century ago?

All I do know with 100% certainty is that Stan Lee’s name and writing style was present on the first comic books I read and hundreds more that I have enjoyed since childhood; and that his writing influenced me more than anyone else in my own. And I know I’m not alone in that. (And the same goes for Kirby and Ditko’s work. Yes, you can respect and admire all the folks involved without dissing any of them!)

I know that when I met Stan he was kind and generous and personable and friendly to all who met him.

I also know from Clifford Meth (writer extraordinaire and advocate for several creators over the years during their hard times) that when talents like Gene Colan, Dave Cockrum and Bill Messner-Loebs were down-and-out, and Cliff called Stan, Stan asked how he could help and was among the first to send a check.

The other thing I know for certain is that I will miss Stan Lee’s larger-than-life personality, his enthusiasm for the art form, his exuberance for life itself, and his wonderful work, until I join him.

And that’s the truth.

Happy birthday, Stan.

Bru’s Reviews – DOUBLE REVIEW: MORTAL ENGINES AND RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET

By Bru-Hed
All original written content is (c) 2018 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.

THIS WEEK:

THIS WEEK: Your luck continues: Less talk, more movies! Like last week, I’m gonna give you two reviews with the Good, Bad and the Ugly (in tribute to 88-year-old Clint Eastwood, whose new movie “The Mule” came in 2nd place after the animated “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” beating out several others). I’ll make these quick so you can be on your way to the theater–or your couch.

FIRST UP: The sequel to the animated break-out “Wreck-It Ralph,” which obviously should have been called “Ralph Wrecks The Internet” instead of the crazily cumbersome “Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.” This one has Ralph and gal-pal Vanelope on a quest to eBay to replace the broken wheel of her arcade video game while she questions her virtual life choices during encounters with other characters.

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