The Return of Torgo and Wooley's September Excite-o-rama!

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Victim of The Night
So, I'm down in Jamaica on vacation and apparently this hurricane is currently headed straight for the place I'm staying. If y'all don't see any entries from me for a while, you have my apologies.



So, I'm down in Jamaica on vacation and apparently this hurricane is currently headed straight for the place I'm staying. If y'all don't see any entries from me for a while, you have my apologies.
Stay safe



Victim of The Night
Thanks!
Better news, the information I was sent was erroneous and it looks like, while the storm is definitely going to hit us, it is only a tropical storm at this point and, having been through Katrina, Rita, and Ida, I ain't too worried.
We're gonna eat some mushrooms and watch the storm.
Wish me luck!



Thanks!
Better news, the information I was sent was erroneous and it looks like, while the storm is definitely going to hit us, it is only a tropical storm at this point and, having been through Katrina, Rita, and Ida, I ain't too worried.
We're gonna eat some mushrooms and watch the storm.
Wish me luck!
Here's hoping it's a fun vacation story to tell one day.



Have fun and stay safe, Wooley.
For me, the final week is ladies' week in that each movie stars and/or features one. Aww, it's the last week already?



Features one or more ladies in the cast. Thatís the only criteria Iíll accept.





I Kill Giants -


This is an international co-production from 2017 that undeservedly fell under the radar. Cut from the same cloth as The Neverending Story, the hero, like Bastian, is a student (Barbara, played by The Conjuring 2's Madison Wolfe) who also escapes into her fantasies to cope with the horrors of adolescence. Oh, and if her rabbit ears are of any indication, she's not ashamed of doing so. Barbara is on a quest to protect her beautiful coastal New Jersey town from giants, for which she's set bait and traps in practically every corner. Unlike Bastian, however, it's not clear what her horrors are, with the movie being a tense and heart-wrenching journey to discover them. Assisting Barbara whether she wants her to or not are Sophia, a new student who recently arrived from England and Mrs. Molle (Zoe Saldana), her school's guidance counselor. Definitely not assisting Barbara is Taylor (Rory Jackson), the tin-grinned leader of her school's mean girl brigade.

Based on what I can tell from the movie's page on IMDB, it didn't get a theatrical release in North America, which is a shame because it demands to be seen on the largest screen possible. The cinematography is the star here, which not only accentuates the splendor of the Irish beaches and Belgian forests that stand in for New Jersey, but also give scale to the giants. Speaking of, I love their look and feel, which is obviously CGI, but appropriate given that you're supposed to question if they're real or just a product of Barbara's imagination, not to mention complement how they look in the source graphic novel. Madison Wolfe reveals she has star potential based on how convinced she is that giants exist, but I was most impressed with Saldana's subtle and heartfelt work, especially since I've really only seen her in action movies. As for what motivates Barbara, I don't want to say a whole lot for fear of spoiling it, but it left me guessing until the best possible moment, i.e., when empathetic audience surrogate Sophia discovers what's really happening. Thankfully, it's a moment that lets us think and feel because shortly afterwards, all hell breaks loose. I also give the movie credit that Barbara doesn't completely forget about her quest once the worst and most difficult part of it is over.

To bring up The Neverending Story again, this movie doesn't have nearly as many lighthearted moments. In fact, I can't recall if anyone smiles in it. You wouldn't think it would be possible given the subject matter, but Wolfgang Petersen and company still managed, and given the art style of the graphic novel, there could have been more. Also, I don't know what other kind of antagonist this story could have - and not to take away from Jackson's strong performances - but I'm a little tired of bullies, especially since this movie doesn't really do anything with their tropes I haven't already seen. For the ways it explores the value of fantasy in our lives and the most sensitive and thoughtful of us, though, it's very much worth checking out. Again, if you decide to, I recommend spending the extra money to see it in HD because hopefully, some of that money will go to the cinematographer and the specials effects team.

My rating: 3 bunny ear tuques out of 5

My guy (or gal): Mrs. Molle. She's a guidance counselor who gets results.



Victim of The Night


This is an international co-production from 2017 that undeservedly fell under the radar. Cut from the same cloth as The Neverending Story, the hero, like Bastian, is a student (Barbara, played by The Conjuring 2's Madison Wolfe) who also escapes into her fantasies to cope with the horrors of adolescence. Oh, and if her rabbit ears are of any indication, she's not ashamed of doing so. Barbara is on a quest to protect her beautiful coastal New Jersey town from giants, for which she's set bait and traps in practically every corner. Unlike Bastian, however, it's not clear what her horrors are, with the movie being a tense and heart-wrenching journey to discover them. Assisting Barbara whether she wants her to or not are Sophia, a new student who recently arrived from England and Mrs. Molle (Zoe Saldana), her school's guidance counselor. Definitely not assisting Barbara is Taylor (Rory Jackson), the tin-grinned leader of her school's mean girl brigade.

Based on what I can tell from the movie's page on IMDB, it didn't get a theatrical release in North America, which is a shame because it demands to be seen on the largest screen possible. The cinematography is the star here, which not only accentuates the splendor of the Irish beaches and Belgian forests that stand in for New Jersey, but also give scale to the giants. Speaking of, I love their look and feel, which is obviously CGI, but appropriate given that you're supposed to question if they're real or just a product of Barbara's imagination, not to mention complement how they look in the source graphic novel. Madison Wolfe reveals she has star potential based on how convinced she is that giants exist, but I was most impressed with Saldana's subtle and heartfelt work, especially since I've really only seen her in action movies. As for what motivates Barbara, I don't want to say a whole lot for fear of spoiling it, but it left me guessing until the best possible moment, i.e., when empathetic audience surrogate Sophia discovers what's really happening. Thankfully, it's a moment that lets us think and feel because shortly afterwards, all hell breaks loose. I also give the movie credit that Barbara doesn't completely forget about her quest once the worst and most difficult part of it is over.

To bring up The Neverending Story again, this movie doesn't have nearly as many lighthearted moments. In fact, I can't recall if anyone smiles in it. You wouldn't think it would be possible given the subject matter, but Wolfgang Petersen and company still managed, and given the art style of the graphic novel, there could have been more. Also, I don't know what other kind of antagonist this story could have - and not to take away from Jackson's strong performances - but I'm a little tired of bullies, especially since this movie doesn't really do anything with their tropes I haven't already seen. For the ways it explores the value of fantasy in our lives and the most sensitive and thoughtful of us, though, it's very much worth checking out. Again, if you decide to, I recommend spending the extra money to see it in HD because hopefully, some of that money will go to the cinematographer and the specials effects team.

My rating: 3 bunny ear tuques out of 5

My guy (or gal): Mrs. Molle. She's a guidance counselor who gets results.
I like the sound of this.
I love movies where people escape into fantasy... or maybe it's real. Obviously, Sucker Punch comes to mind, which I like a lot more than most people, and Mirrormask which is really cool.
Ima add this to a queue.



I like the sound of this.
I love movies where people escape into fantasy... or maybe it's real. Obviously, Sucker Punch comes to mind, which I like a lot more than most people, and Mirrormask which is really cool.
Ima add this to a queue.
I'm actually watching it as I type this, and I'm enjoying it. While you're at it, throw A Monster Calls on that watchlist. I think it's one of the best book adaptations I've ever seen, and with a young adult novel no less!





I Kill Giants, 2017

Barbara (Madison Wolfe) lives in a vividly imaginative world of monsters, harbingers, and giants. Under the care of her older sister, Karen (Imogen Poots), Barbara struggles mightily at school, socially isolated and fending off bullies. Barbara makes a new friend in Sophia (Sydney Wade) and begins sessions with a sympathetic school therapist (Zoe Saldana), but neither of these things seem to slow an increasing agitation and mental health crisis in Barbara's life.

This one has been on my watchlist for quite a while, and seeing it reviewed was a good boost to actually watch it.

As I referenced in my earlier post, this film falls very much into the territory of A Monster Calls. Now having watched it, those overlaps are pretty extensive, and I think that I Kill Giants suffers a bit in comparing the two, because I just think that A Monster Calls handles quite a few elements better.

Wolfe is good in the lead role as Barbara. All of the acting is solid. One thing that I appreciated about the movie was that it seemed willing to acknowledge what Barbara was going through as being incredibly unhealthy, mentally and emotionally. Barbara is deliberately provocative, sometimes cruel, moody, and even violent. As much as you are on her side, I like that we see how bad this is all getting. At the same time, the movie can't resist giving Barbara some of those movie trope child attributes, like always having a glib, cutting remark on hand to deal with her teachers or peers.

There's also a lot of fun to be had visually. Under Barbara's imaginative eye, different landscapes reveal large, menacing creatures. She uses various implements and materials to create traps for these creatures, determined to save everyone from the destruction of the giants.

My main issues are with how it all wraps up in the final act. Again, I can't help but compare with A Monster Calls, which covered a lot of the same ground. (It should be said, however, that what bothers the protagonists of the two films is actually significantly different). I thought that the ending was a bit overly neat:
WARNING: spoilers below
basically she has an epiphany and then she's fine? And what is basically a serious presentation of anxiety, depression, OCD, and anger just dissipates? It felt like it came together a bit too nice and clean---which includes dropping the subplot about Barbara's classmate who is a bully but also maybe dealing with some serious mental health problems?


I also found myself wishing that they hadn't spent so much energy
WARNING: spoilers below
concealing that the mother was still alive but terminally ill. Why keep that hidden? It also, in retrospect, makes it seem super weird that she and her siblings never mention the mom?! Like, I know they did the thing where when someone mentions the mom, noise crowds it out, but come on.


A good piece of middle-grade fantasy fiction, but it suffers from comparison to a similar film.




Victim of The Night

Conan The Barbarian

At last! The Crown Jewel of my Fantasy/Sci-Fi experience.
I have been a fan of this film since I was very young. It came out when I was 9 years old and had quite a stir around it, actually. Despite it not doing that well at the box-office, it had a mystique around it and had all the suburban parents a'twitter. And a big dude with a sword, a giant snake, and a warrior woman. I had to see it.
I did see it much earlier than my parents probably would have liked and I was sort of stunned by it. This movie is more than it should be, at least in my opining, and it hit me like a thunderbolt. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that it is what it should be and all other Sword and Sorcery movies are not.
In high-school, it continued to be a film that had a cult-following and talked about as one of the cool movies and, my senior year, we even watched it on LSD - a lot of LSD - and we all loved it. Over the years, my experience has been that every time I revisit it, it at least lives up to my highest expectation and memory, if not surpasses it. But a few years ago, I decided to start reading the original Conan stories by Robert E. Howard and I was so taken with them that I read them all. And now I am back, with serious purpose, to see how the movie holds up...


Well, I won't stand on ceremony or try to build suspense here, nor will I bore you with a rehashing of the plot. Milius and Oliver Stone wrote a story that borrows from several of Howard's original stories and is absolutely in keeping with the spirit of the work, even if it differs from certain specifics. He is Conan. Cimmerian. He will not cry. So I cry for him.
Honestly, this film never ceases to amaze me. Director John Milius, like many from the pre-Star Wars/pre-Indiana Jones era, set out to make a serious movie. He did not tip his hat at the mega franchises that were leaning into childhood nostalgia and the early-parenthood of their directors. He made a lean, muscular, grim, dark, and thoroughly entertaining and successful film.
The narrative is coherent and cohesive. The characters are engaging. The design is on-point. The cinematography, aside from a couple of spotty blue-screens (which seemed a bit unnecessary) early on is excellent. The FX are surprisingly good for the time. And the film is full of imagination and dark wonder. I cannot say it enough, Conan is the standard for Sword and Sorcery as far as I'm concerned.
There is one area of the film that I would like to specifically point out here and that is the actors. A number of exceptional people give very good, very serious performances here to give the whole proceedings an air of legitimacy that I think is lacking in so many other genre films. While Max von Sydow may have given us a wonderfully campy turn as Ming The Merciless in Flash Gordon, here his role and performance are as real as if this were a period biopic, and yet, as always his talent and charisma dominate the screen during his brief time.


I would also shine a light here on Sandahl Bergman as Valeria. Valeria is the ultimate thief/warrior woman of the original Conan lore and poor Sandahl Bergman had big shoes to fill. Which is perhaps fitting given that she is six feet tall. Milius cast her here after her performance in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz and she is more than up to the task here. While, like Schwarzenegger, she does not necessarily strictly resemble her literary counterpart, she more than makes up for it in spirit.
She also gives the film its heart, one of its most rewarding moments, and her monologue about finding warmth in this world is one of the highlights of the film that genuinely moved me.


Obviously, to discuss the film without talking about Schwarzenegger would be senseless and I will say this for the Austrian bodybuilder: he made it work. There is no questioning that the man has charisma, but whether or not he can act has long been a subject of debate. However, here, in this dusty, sweaty, brutal world, and perhaps with clever direction by Milius, Arnold proves that he was not miscast merely for his muscles, he pulls this film off. Not only does he have the magnetism to keep eyes all eyes on him he actually genuinely makes this character believable. Whether he is or is not Canon Conan (ya like that?), he was every bit the man for the job and I, an unabashed fan of the source material, give Arnold my full seal of approval.


Finally, you simply cannot talk about Conan The Barbarian without bringing up the great James Earl Jones' absolutely wonderful turn as the dread Thulsa Doom. Jones brings his A-game to the role and gives the movie a tremendous gravitas from the opening scenes to the climax. An amalgam of two of Howard's arch-villains (one from Kull The Conqueror and one from Conan), Thulsa Doom is like a boogeyman and absolutely could have been one-dimensional and still been awesome. But Jones brings a depth and humanity to him that makes him special among movie villains in that he seems to have an understanding, a deep if twisted wisdom, at times even a kindness to him, even as he utters, "Now they will know why they're afraid of the dark, now they will learn why they fear the night" before taking his grim revenge. He also gifts us with the best scene of the film, which is just him talking, which tells you almost everything you need to know about the film. It is not about nostalgic nods to silly serials, it is about moments like this:


Obviously, I am giving this film high praise and I do so without reservation. If this movie is not for you, fine, but it is about as good as I can imagine it being for its time. It is dark and grim and serious and yet remains engaging and entertaining throughout and creates a character and a world that are the best of their kind and timeless.
Is this the best Sword and Sorcery movie ever made? Yes, with respect to Peter Jackson, yes, it is.



Victim of The Night


I Kill Giants, 2017

Barbara (Madison Wolfe) lives in a vividly imaginative world of monsters, harbingers, and giants. Under the care of her older sister, Karen (Imogen Poots), Barbara struggles mightily at school, socially isolated and fending off bullies. Barbara makes a new friend in Sophia (Sydney Wade) and begins sessions with a sympathetic school therapist (Zoe Saldana), but neither of these things seem to slow an increasing agitation and mental health crisis in Barbara's life.

This one has been on my watchlist for quite a while, and seeing it reviewed was a good boost to actually watch it.

As I referenced in my earlier post, this film falls very much into the territory of A Monster Calls. Now having watched it, those overlaps are pretty extensive, and I think that I Kill Giants suffers a bit in comparing the two, because I just think that A Monster Calls handles quite a few elements better.

Wolfe is good in the lead role as Barbara. All of the acting is solid. One thing that I appreciated about the movie was that it seemed willing to acknowledge what Barbara was going through as being incredibly unhealthy, mentally and emotionally. Barbara is deliberately provocative, sometimes cruel, moody, and even violent. As much as you are on her side, I like that we see how bad this is all getting. At the same time, the movie can't resist giving Barbara some of those movie trope child attributes, like always having a glib, cutting remark on hand to deal with her teachers or peers.

There's also a lot of fun to be had visually. Under Barbara's imaginative eye, different landscapes reveal large, menacing creatures. She uses various implements and materials to create traps for these creatures, determined to save everyone from the destruction of the giants.

My main issues are with how it all wraps up in the final act. Again, I can't help but compare with A Monster Calls, which covered a lot of the same ground. (It should be said, however, that what bothers the protagonists of the two films is actually significantly different). I thought that the ending was a bit overly neat:
WARNING: spoilers below
basically she has an epiphany and then she's fine? And what is basically a serious presentation of anxiety, depression, OCD, and anger just dissipates? It felt like it came together a bit too nice and clean---which includes dropping the subplot about Barbara's classmate who is a bully but also maybe dealing with some serious mental health problems?


I also found myself wishing that they hadn't spent so much energy
WARNING: spoilers below
concealing that the mother was still alive but terminally ill. Why keep that hidden? It also, in retrospect, makes it seem super weird that she and her siblings never mention the mom?! Like, I know they did the thing where when someone mentions the mom, noise crowds it out, but come on.


A good piece of middle-grade fantasy fiction, but it suffers from comparison to a similar film.

Hmm...
Well, I think the bunny-ears have hooked me, regardless.





I Kill Giants, 2017

Barbara (Madison Wolfe) lives in a vividly imaginative world of monsters, harbingers, and giants. Under the care of her older sister, Karen (Imogen Poots), Barbara struggles mightily at school, socially isolated and fending off bullies. Barbara makes a new friend in Sophia (Sydney Wade) and begins sessions with a sympathetic school therapist (Zoe Saldana), but neither of these things seem to slow an increasing agitation and mental health crisis in Barbara's life.

This one has been on my watchlist for quite a while, and seeing it reviewed was a good boost to actually watch it.

As I referenced in my earlier post, this film falls very much into the territory of A Monster Calls. Now having watched it, those overlaps are pretty extensive, and I think that I Kill Giants suffers a bit in comparing the two, because I just think that A Monster Calls handles quite a few elements better.

Wolfe is good in the lead role as Barbara. All of the acting is solid. One thing that I appreciated about the movie was that it seemed willing to acknowledge what Barbara was going through as being incredibly unhealthy, mentally and emotionally. Barbara is deliberately provocative, sometimes cruel, moody, and even violent. As much as you are on her side, I like that we see how bad this is all getting. At the same time, the movie can't resist giving Barbara some of those movie trope child attributes, like always having a glib, cutting remark on hand to deal with her teachers or peers.

There's also a lot of fun to be had visually. Under Barbara's imaginative eye, different landscapes reveal large, menacing creatures. She uses various implements and materials to create traps for these creatures, determined to save everyone from the destruction of the giants.

My main issues are with how it all wraps up in the final act. Again, I can't help but compare with A Monster Calls, which covered a lot of the same ground. (It should be said, however, that what bothers the protagonists of the two films is actually significantly different). I thought that the ending was a bit overly neat:
WARNING: spoilers below
basically she has an epiphany and then she's fine? And what is basically a serious presentation of anxiety, depression, OCD, and anger just dissipates? It felt like it came together a bit too nice and clean---which includes dropping the subplot about Barbara's classmate who is a bully but also maybe dealing with some serious mental health problems?


I also found myself wishing that they hadn't spent so much energy
WARNING: spoilers below
concealing that the mother was still alive but terminally ill. Why keep that hidden? It also, in retrospect, makes it seem super weird that she and her siblings never mention the mom?! Like, I know they did the thing where when someone mentions the mom, noise crowds it out, but come on.


A good piece of middle-grade fantasy fiction, but it suffers from comparison to a similar film.

Good review, and I agree with your main issues. I was
WARNING: spoilers below
also disappointed to learn that Barbara's hangup is her sick mother because it does seem like a "fake surprise;" in other words, one that would have been revealed much earlier if the camera had just panned up a few meters! As for the ending, it does seem a bit clean, but it's tempered by that final conversation Barbara has with the giant. It reminds me of what I like about the ending of Shaun of the Dead for how she doesn't throw her fantasies away completely.
I guess I need to see A Monster Calls. I didn't love The Orphanage, the only other Bayona movie I've seen, mostly because it's not as scary as I would have l liked, but I like his directing style.



I like the sound of this.
I love movies where people escape into fantasy... or maybe it's real. Obviously, Sucker Punch comes to mind, which I like a lot more than most people, and Mirrormask which is really cool.
Ima add this to a queue.
Mirrormask is good fun. I've heard your mileage may vary on Sucker Punch, but I think I'm done with Snyder, at least for a long time. He's always left me disappointed.



Victim of The Night
I like this. Bonestell? Looks like one of his.
Actually not sure it was not credited from whence I got it.



Victim of The Night
Mirrormask is good fun. I've heard your mileage may vary on Sucker Punch, but I think I'm done with Snyder, at least for a long time. He's always left me disappointed.
Sucker Punch may actually be the only movie of his I like.