Thursday, January 17, 2019

I saw Glass...


That "Unbreakable" and "Split" should blend isn't a stretch. Their link has long been on the wall of writer/director M. Night Shyamalan's cinematic universe, and in this time of live-action, DC/Marvel crossovers, why not a dexterous, subdued variation: a superhero fable filtered through the character-driven irony of "The Twilight Zone"?


With "Glass", named after Samuel L. Jackson's "Unbreakable" trickster, otherwise known as bone-fragile Elijah Price, our crafty filmmaker presents not only the flamboyant, titular terrorist, but Willis' sometimes hooded, though always valiant David Dunn. There's also James McAvoy's dangerous and anguished Kevin Wendell Crumb, abetted by a Horde of ready-to-rise personalities. These characters ultimately connect at Raven Hill Memorial Hospital, probed for a "cure" of their "alleged" abilities, but no matter what motions their psychologist, Ellie Staple (Sarah "American Horror Story" Paulson) takes, the three are destined to keep different yet overlapping goals.


As a result of their fated teaming, the conniving Mister Glass provokes Wendell's inner Beast, realizing that once this impetuous personality has been sprung, a major revelation will come to the world. As part of this unraveling plot, Dunn must squash Wendell's monstrous portion, but it won't be easy with Shyamalan's ingenious, signature foils. 


It's not just the writer/director's well crafted concept that makes the movie's heart pound, but its consummate leads: each established in previous chapters, but now like fine wine, richer...more matured. Their interactions resonate with urgency and sincerity, even when projected beyond their scope. In fact, the results of their clashing efforts fall right into the lap of "Split'"s Anya Taylor-Joy's Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy); Dunn's son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) and Price's mom (Charlayne Woodard): for all intents and purposes, sidekicks to accompany the principals' weird, epic journey. 


Like other Shyamalan productions, this one chases the truth, which makes it a morality tale, but then aren't all superhero stories? Shyamalan knows the good-vs-evil deal better than most: how the tipping of the scales can impact lives, whether on a glossy, Hollywood stage or in everyday life. "Glass" emanates from the former, but prospers in the latter, reminding us that the causes of right and wrong, of courage and fear, dwell within the most common crevasses: "Twilight Zone"-ish, indeed. 


To further its intent, "Glass" demonstrates that despite what the story's secret-society scholars proclaim, heroes can rise from out any villainous pit: that no matter how horrid the actions, there's always a helping hand (whether plebeian or preternatural) to right the wrong and reassemble the shards. We only need open our eyes to see the evidence, to accept the truth, which is as clear as glass when we at last focus. In other words, "Glass" helps us see the world through a clear, logical lens, even if that lens hangs upside down.  


"Glass" will be recalled by most for its clever, identifiable delivery. Granted, we've swallowed the movie's concept many times over, but it's been rarely served with as much labyrinthine sophistication or seasoned uber-humanity. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

HAIL, DEAR DONNA--MY POWER SPOUSE!!!


Here I am again (and without an iota of apology) to praise my gorgeous wife, Donna for another bright bill of health. That's not to say that all is indefectible (hey, who can ever make that claim?), but Donna has achieved progress in ways that others can only imagine or when enmity rears its envious head, deride. 


The cause of dear Donna's success--courage. Some will scoff at that. Donna and I know folks who've belittled, downplayed and ignored her plight, all the while flaunting cowardice as their brazen badge. (Generally, their excuse is some faux, psychiatric label to rationalize their slothful phlegm; meanwhile, they're eager to work under the table and collect off the taxpayer's dime. How bold.) I'm damn proud of my spouse for being an adamant exception to that popular, craven rule: my real-life Power Girl through and through. 


Congratulations, my love, from the bottom of my heart. May this be but another high point in a long, indefatigable series. And to those insensitive shammers itchin' to judge, do us a favor: Go quiver under some dark, slimy rock. Donna WILL continue to reside within the warm winner's circle, pleased that her prize was won legitimately and straight from the heart.  

Sunday, January 13, 2019

I saw the Supermen Reign...


In the thrilling, animated sequel to DC/WB's "The Death of Superman" (see Aug '18 post), a pressing question rises: Who of the new Kal-Els is good and/or bad? In other words, is the second coming of Superman to our benefit, or will his "cloned" manifestations wreck havoc?


The true-blue (and red and yellow) bottom line: We wouldn't want any such entity--let alone several--to rub against the grain of our alien, all-American icon, would we? Wasn't Doomsday's cataclysmic presence a stupendous enough strike against us, not to mention all the other demonic bruisers that have come and gone through the years? And yet, here we go again, though surely for the melodramatic better. 


Director Sam Liu does a trusty job as only he can, enforcing the rippling tensions which were introduced via print a couple decades back. The film incarnation, "Reign of the Supermen" (named after Jerry Siegel's Man of Steel, short-story catalyst), captures all the marvelous mystery that made this much publicized DC period one of its most discussed, ruminated and praised. 


Of the Supermen who surface after Kal-El's burial, there's the zealous, visor-clad "Eradicator" (Charles Halford, but maybe Jerry O'Connell's vocals aren't so far behind--hint, hint); a LexCorp-jacketed youth, aka Superboy (Cameron "Gotham" Monaghan--how's that for a joking twist?); the enigmatic Cyborg/Terminator Superman (Patrick "Better Call Saul" Fabian); and one of the best and most underused Superman "offspring", hammer-wielding Steel/John Henry Irons (Cress "Black Lightning" Williams).


They're never completely on the same side as power-hungry Darkseid (Tony "Candyman" Todd) plans an invasion with the enlistment of zombiefied super-citizens. However, that big-time villain is but a big-time ruse in light of the identity and loyalty issues that intersect Apokolips' advent. But have no fear, for good has no choice but to burst from the fiery collisions. As Superman fans ought to know, this particular, multi-character, mythological mix only further illuminates the character's sacred legacy. 


Still, despite the story's founding gleam, I must reveal that when these particular Men of Steel appeared in '92, it was hard for me to trust them: John Henry excluded, but Steel has always followed his own, noble track. It was the implied, Ubermensch thing that struck me as a wee too, well, Nazi-ish. Still, I so wanted one of these up-from-the-ashes incarnations to be the real, revived deal. Because of this, the melodrama compelled me to see the saga through. 


Thanks to screenwriters James Krieg and Tom Sheridan, the animated adaptation reflects its comic-book roots, dispatching doubt and hope, which once more makes the elongated, resurrection unlike any Superman tale that's come before or since. Also, this animated edition isn't afraid to reinvent a few interludes, keeping the now familiar formula nice and fresh. 


Though the story is terrific, the varied ensemble (no matter how big or small the role) plays a big part in why this epic moves so well. Just take a gander at the returning, co-starring roster: Lois Lane (Rebecca "X-Men" Romijn); Batman (Jason "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." O'Mara); Lex Luthor (Rainn "Super" Wilson); Cyborg (Shemar "Criminal Minds" Moore); Wonder Women (Rosario "Daredevil" Dawson); Martian Manhunter (Nyambi "Blindspotting" Nyambi); Green Lantern (Nathan "Firefly" Fillion); and the Flash (Christopher "Covert Affairs" Gorham), to name but a significant few. Cream of the crop all the way--and more than enough to stretch this chapter's sprawling scope a zillionfold.


Beyond question, "Reign..." presents full-fledged classic material, or at least material destined for such coveted distinction, particularly if/when teamed with the emotional Part I. To boot, it's on as high a level as any live-action counterpart, maybe more so, re-imagining "Highlander'"s "...there can only be one" and once the dust clears, inspiring viewers to jump up and cheer "Up, up and away!!!" (Awright, at the AMC theater I attended, it was more a case of energetic applause, but no less a show of indisputable respect for a job well done.)


Give "Reign..." a righteous spin or better yet, procure a disc or digital copy for those inevitable, return yearnings. Why not sit the whole family down to absorb both chapters? It's not often that folks get the chance to experience a combo this aesthetically profound. 

FAREWELL, BATTON LASH...


You gave us so many innovative spins on so many characters, titles and themes: Wolf and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre; Supernatural Law; the Simpsons; and Archie and his gang.


Who'd have thought a teaming of Archie and the Punisher could have felt so right? Thanks to your insightful writing skills, the vision became seamlessly complete: one of the most beloved, crossovers ever produced.


To boot, thanks to you, Radioactive Man took on new, hilarious heights, as well as the Vampire Brat and Mister Negativity.


Though controversy came your way (and what quality creator doesn't face it?), you weathered it well and remained on top of your game--taken from us far too soon, but with a legacy way too important to dismiss. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

GOODBYE, PAUL KOSLO...


You were a character actor for all character actors to learn from and aspire to be, Mr. Koslo: cool, creepy and kind. 


You especially shined in pulpy, hard-hitting cinema, covering the bases to an exhausting extent: "Nam's Angels/the Losers"; "Love and Bullets"; "The Stone Killer"; "Mr. Majestyk"; "Joe Kidd"; "Rooster Cogburn"; "Cleopatra Jones"; "Freebie and the Bean"; "The Drowning Pool"; "The Annihilators"; "Inferno '99"; "Vanishing Point '71"; "Loose Cannons"; and the ominous "Omega Man".


You also made your way through a slew of television series, including "The Incredible Hulk"; "The Fall Guy"; "The A-Team"; "Galactica 1980"; "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century"; "Mission: Impossible"; "The Dukes of Hazzard"; "Longstreet"; "T.J. Hooker"; "Quincy" and "Hunter".


To many (myself included), your stand-out role came as the mad, Russian antagonist, Alexander in the cult classic, "Robot Jox". Man, you should have won an Oscar for that!!!

Without question, your varied personas and stupendous skills will inspire whatever exciting sectors you may now roam. As for our terrestrial realm, you left an incomparable legacy, to be relished for years to come. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

THANK YOU, DWAYNE JOHNSON!!!

Thank you, Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson for your inspiring, truthful words on "the snowflake generation". 


Per the Daily Star, Johnson stated, "I don't have to agree with what somebody thinks, who they vote for, what they voted for, what they think...but I will back their right to say or believe it. That's democracy."

Johnson also said, "So many good people fought for freedom and equality, but this generation are looking for a reason to be offended. If you're not agreeing with them, then they are offended, and that is not what so many great men and women fought for."


The cry-baby subculture has gotten away far too long with little denouncement from the Hollywood scene. The snowflakes are, in fact, "actually putting us backward", Johnson claims, and he's right to smear their censorious, sissified stance. 

There's no doubt that Dwayne Johnson has already proven himself a true-blue hero on film and stage, but now also in real-deal, freedom-of-expression life. Oh, yeah--I sure do respect what THE ROCK IS COOKING!!!