Category: Movies


Review by C.J. Bunce

Delayed a bit due to the pandemic, a Star Wars tie-in comic book series proved this summer to be the best so far since Marvel Comics pulled the comics license back from Dark Horse.   Star Wars: Bounty Hunters completed its first story arc and will be coming next month to comic shops in a collected edition, available via pre-order now here at Amazon.  Compiling the first five issues of a new series in the vein of The Mandalorian, it establishes itself with a new anti-hero from the past and familiar faces fans of the original trilogy love.  It all begins by asking why all those bounty hunters appeared together on Darth Vader’s ship Executor in that brief scene in The Empire Strikes Back.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A year after he directed an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, Alfred Hitchcock would direct his adaptation of an even more memorable du Maurier novel, Rebecca.  His 1940 film would be the only Hitchcock film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.  Rebecca, a remake, premieres this week on Netflix.  For its fall releases the popular streaming studio nicely split up the male leads of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., putting Henry Cavill in Enola Holmes and Armie Hammer in Rebecca, even using the same mansion for both films.  For Rebecca, Netflix plucked ex-cast members from Mr. Selfridge and some other genre favorites of British TV.  So how does the new Rebecca compare to Hitchcock’s masterpiece?

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Notable in part for being the first animated movie out of Disney without the work of creator John Lasseter in 15 years, the next major animated movie from Disney features the voices of two well-known genre stars, and it looks a bit on theme with Disney’s last live-action movie, Mulan.  Raya and the Last Dragon is all computer-animated, and it features the voices of Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as Raya, a warrior heroine who is seeking the Last Dragon, named Sisu, voiced by comedy actor Awkwafina (Jumanji: The Next Level), all in a classic fantasy The Hobbit or The Last Unicorn-homage tale.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Your first glance at the title of TCM’s latest overview of a key genre of Hollywood’s greatest films may give you pause: Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and BeyondOnly 31 movies?  Quickly you’ll figure out that the 31 highlighted movies in horror historian David J. Skal’s list are only the framework for a larger, chronological examination of the horror genre, with a lean in to Hollywood’s horror classics, the kind you’re most likely to find on the Turner Classic Movies TCM channel.  In this list of recommendations, readers are sure to pull their hair out, since it’s very likely nobody’s personal list will match the author’s–or anyone else’s.  Yet that’s why we turn to these books, and as you’d expect, Fright Favorites doesn’t disappoint: You’re practically guaranteed to add an obscure–or not-so-obscure–horror film to your future watch list.

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Adam Brody has been a high point of two recent fun genre flicks.  In Shazam! he was the grown-up superhero version of sidekick Freddie.  And in Ready or Not he was the brother-in-law that gave Samara Weaving’s bride a chance at survival in a crazy mansion of killers.  In his next movie, the former Gilmore Girls and The O.C. actor plays Abe Applebaum, once a kid detective in the style of Encyclopedia Brown, he’s now a 32-year-old has been, not cutting it as an adult detective.  But despite the title, The Kid Detective, arriving in theaters this weekend, is not a kids’ movie.  Some theaters on the East Coast are offering $50 full-theater rentals and AMC has a $99 deal, or you can always wait for the home release likely coming soon.

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Forget about that 2003 remake starring Lindsay Lohan.  Freaky Friday is one of those Walt Disney studio classics before the company issued special re-release limited VHS tapes and merchandised every film to its hilt to become a corporate behemoth.  The 1976 movie (written by Mary Rodgers, based on her novel) starred Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris as mom and daughter swapping bodies and needing to live life literally in the skin of the other.  It was the kind of film your parents would take you to and you’d have a great time (I did).  Flash forward a few generations and we now have an homage that might as well be a remake of Freaky Friday, only this time it stars wacky comedic actor Vince Vaughn as a creepy 50-year-old serial killer, swapped with a high schooler played by young actress Kathryn Newton (Supernatural, Paranormal Activity 4).  It’s called simply Freaky, and it’s from Blumhouse and directed by 1970s icon Michael Landon’s son Christopher Landon, well established now as a slasher movie and slasher comedy movie director.  Unfortunately the release will miss Halloween, but it looks like one to keep on the radar for its inevitable home release.  Check out the trailer below.

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Currently housed in a Tudor-style mansion in Manhattan, The Explorers Club is a real place with a legacy of adventurers among its ranks.  Parodied in The Freshman, the club is a meeting place established in 1904 for the purposes of promoting scientific exploration around the planet, and it does host an annual dinner with unusual flair.  A table can cost you $100,000 and features food including tarantula and other exotic animals that would be a nightmare for animal rights advocates, not to mention the taxidermy displays (Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was filmed there).  Honorary members include the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, John Glenn, Sir Edmund Hillary, Buzz Aldrin, and the club has bestowed its highest award to notables including Mary Leakey, Jane Goodall, Robert Ballard, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Not quite a secret society, the members have circumnavigated the world, flown, sailed, driven, and walked across each continent in search of the next discovery, returning back to the club to share the stories of their accomplishments.  In one of his last projects before his death in 2003, journalist and noted personality George Plimpton (himself a member) collected 51 first-hand accounts of these journeys from the club’s ranks and published them as As Told at the Explorers Club: More Than Fifty Gripping Tales of Adventure, available now in a new edition from Lyons Press.

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If you’re discussing the most compelling and amazing action movie franchise actresses, you’re going to begin with Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton.  But quickly you must count Milla Jovovich, whose track record at the box office is hard to match, thanks to her role as Alice in the Resident Evil series.  But she’s also revealed her badass prowess in classics like The Fifth Element and Ultraviolet, and she keeps adding to her amped up, tough-as-nails characters.  This year that means taking on the role of Lieutenant Artemis in Monster Hunter, an adaptation of the online fantasy-action game.  In one word, that overly-used phrase is apt here: Epic.  The first trailer for the film (below) is very Starship Troopers meets Jurassic Park.

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Founded in 1939 by Martin Goodman as Timely Comics, then re-branding as Atlas Comics, becoming a household name in 1961 thanks to the inspiration of creators Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, hitting its low in bankruptcy, but rising like the Phoenix to become a movie franchise and Disney property in the 21st century, Marvel Comics has seen eight decades of change.  A new hardcover book aims to chronicle all that.  Marvel: The First 80 Years–The True Story of a Pop-Culture Phenomenon is coming your way next month.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’re asked to zip off a list of the best Jennifer Lawrence movies, it’s probable you’re not going to include the 2012 teen suspense-thriller, House at the End of the Street.  And yet, as modern efforts at PG-13 teen horror are concerned, director Mark Tonderai (Doctor Who, The Five, Locke & Key) will keep viewers guessing which trope the film will hang its genre hat on.  What’s exactly up with the guy in the house where his sister murdered the rest of the family years ago?  One constant for the Academy Award-winning Lawrence is she rarely disappoints, whether as a bow-wielding survivor (The Hunger Games series) or a shape-shifting X-Woman (X-Men: The Days of Future Past, etc.).  Even back to young Allison on Medium, Lawrence delivers, and this time she takes viewers for a ride into that terrible place called teen angst–near a creepy house in the woods.  And its streaming for your Halloween month pleasure on Netflix.

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