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Blair Witch [2016]

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:// INTRO

A friend came up to me during my senior year in High School. We had made 1 successful horror short at my parent’s house with a couple of friends, we were on a heavy Horror kick back then.

We had tried to imitate those horror movies we had seen, this day he came and told me about the scariest movie he had just seen. The kicker was that he said our movie actually looked better than this movie.

This was the time around the Scream craze which brought Urban Legend and I know what you did last summer among others with it.

Mexico is a weird place, media comes into the country at a somewhat irregular and unexpected pace. For example, those horror buddies had never seen or heard of the original Halloween [criminal, I know].

They did know Chucky and Freddy Kruger of course, not to mention Jaws and Alien [well, Aliens actually].

I asked him “what movie is this?” I just had to see it. He said “Blair Witch”.

:// IMPACT OF THE FIRST BLAIR WITCH

The movie was genuinely creepy, the creepiest factor for me, however, was that I felt “dirty” after having finished watching it. I love horror movies, they are fun roller coaster rides which I enjoy. That day I had stumbled upon a filmmaking style which I had never seen before: Found Footage.

I had felt like a Peeping Tom, I felt I had invaded these people’s privacy. Not to mention their grisly demise. Although I knew this was a movie, for a short second I felt that ongoing dread thinking “what if, this is actually real?”

:// RESURGENCE OF FOUND FOOTAGE

CLOVERFIELD. Hands down.

Cloverfield brought found footage back [for better or worse] into the spotlight, it was like a freight train coming at you at 182,000 miles per hour.

Now some young Thundercats might not remember a time before Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. During this unconceivable era, the Internet was just gaining a presence. Sure, some brands might have their website, but there was not much in terms of entertainment.

People would log into MySpace, maybe send a private message and that was it. Cloverfield and Blair Witch took advantage of that period and had the foresight to promote their movie with Viral Marketing.

The most powerful method to gain interest in any medium is word of mouth.

And God Damn it did they pull it off.

After ‘Clover found footage has been strongly associated with Horror. Now don’t get me wrong, I greatly appreciate a good found footage experience. But not all Horror movies fit within that specific style of filmmaking. Hell, they even tried making a found footage Friday the 13th [after the 2009 remake].

:// PRODUCTION QUALITY

Although set in the woods, there are many interesting shots throughout the picture. Depending on which camera the characters are using the aesthetic of each shot feels just different enough from the previous camera, yet unique enough to keep you intrigued.

There are a lot of scares which are framed beautifully within these shots. Probably the biggest victory was that Blair Witch allowed the viewer to imagine what is out there in the woods.

Theatre of the mind.

It worked in Jaws.

It worked in Halloween.

It still works.

I have become a fan of Adam Wingard’s work for some time now, especially his work on You’re Next and his segments in V/H/S and V/H/S 2.

:// BLAIR WITCH LEGACY

It was a wonderful surprise to see ‘Blair come out, it’s nice to be genuinely surprised by a release that is not teased or reported on every 30 seconds online.

I look forward to seeing where this series goes next, hopefully, it is somewhere exciting and fun as this one.

 

 

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Star Wars Rogue One

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I remember watching the original Star Wars trilogy on VHS back in the early 90s.

It was an interesting and fun universe, filled with imaginative and likable characters both good and evil. Star Wars has always been extremely accessible to new and old fans alike. About 3 years ago I spotted a 30 inch Darth Vader at my local Target. I freaked out because it was on sale for $19.99.

The first thing that my wife said was “Will Darth Vader ever cease to be popular?”.

My response was simple: “Hell no.”

The same question could be asked about the Star Wars franchise and I would suspect the answer to that question would be the same as my Darth Vader response.

Star Wars is one of those magical properties which make children feel special as well as all warm and fuzzy. It also makes adults remember how they felt when they first experienced that galaxy far far away.

:// ORIGINAL TRILOGY vs NEW TRILOGY

The original Star Wars trilogy is almost sacred to all Star Wars fans, especially The Empire Strikes Back, which is considered one of the greatest sequels of all time. The stories flowed at an incredible pace and the movies were put together with remarkable craftsmanship.

The new trilogy is often considered a bit of an ugly stain on an otherwise perfect gem. The high point would have to be the fight between Obi Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn vs Darth Maul. Universally, the lowest point would be Jar Jar Binks [with Anakin and Padme’s love story a close hard second]. We were all expecting to see Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader, which itself was a bit disturbing, but all of that faded away once we saw the mask and helmet come on, followed by Vader taking his first breath.

After George sold his baby it was exciting to see what Disney would come up with for the Star Wars universe. It was nostalgic seeing Han Solo and Princess Leia on screen again, but Disney did play it extremely safe by basically remaking Episode 4 for a new generation.

:// THE EFFECTS OF EPISODE 7

One of my favorite aspects of the Star Wars universe is the large canvas which brings forth the possibilities for new stories which do not affect the episode count but does expand on the universe.

Some highlights include Knights of the Old Republic and Shadows of the Empire. A movie like Rogue One adds to that canvas by portraying events which we have heard of but had not yet seen.

:// PRODUCTION QUALITY

It would be a sin for a Star Wars entry not to have a high level of production, but perhaps the 2 aspects which greatly stand out are the diverse cast of actors featured in the film and the new locations which we are treated to, such as Jedha and Scarif. Not to mention a brief glimpse of the daily torture which Darth Vader has to go through.

The absence of Jedi also made ‘Rogue feel fresh and much tenser during battle scenes. Seeing the characters engage the Empire as a guerilla unit elevated the risk of the mission to enjoyable levels.

It was nice to see the guy who is not Gael Garcia Bernal jump into Star Wars lore, not to mention the Death Troopers which were some of my favorite characters throughout the movie.

G-Unit.

 

:// FAVORITE CHARACTER

K-2SO baby. Hands down. I would say he has now officially become my favorite character from the series.

I need to get one of his action figures so I can stand him next to the Death Trooper I got last Christmas.

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Daredevil

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Daredevil is one of those strange characters for me, although he has a history among readers, I honestly have never cared for him.

Although, his alter ego does appeal to me if I had to judge a book by its cover I would choose Matt Murdock over Daredevil in a heartbeat. A blind lawyer working in Hell’s Kitchen seems to have more depth than red tights.

[I might seem biased since I myself use corrective lenses.]

When the first trailer broke for the first season I was definitely in. I missed Season 2 when it first premiered online, having finally caught up I would have to say that the Netflix Marvel Universe is better than the Marvel Cinematic Universe [in my opinion].

:// MCU vs NMU

Marvel has done an excellent job at working their properties, considering that they were on the verge of bankruptcy in the early 90s it’s amazing to witness what they have achieved since 2008. Before ‘08 Ted Raimi’s Spiderman was the best Marvel movie out there. I actually preferred Blade, it’s funny that many fans don’t remember that first gem from Stephen Norrington. Hell, everyone knows “the Blade song”.

The theatrical efforts have been fantastic no doubt, but as a fan that grew up with the comics, it’s great to see adult stories for us older fans.

The MCU has always felt fun and safe, the NMU [so far] has been much more dark and gritty. The idea of being a superhero sounds fantastic, but the Netflix series shows us that people are the biggest story. The heroes and villains are shown in a new light, they all have issues, series, dark issues. For example, in Iron Man 3 we saw Tony Stark suffering from PTSD, which is extremely serious, however in the movie we see him overcome his condition rather quickly.

In Daredevil we see how Matt struggles with his normal life and being the Devil from Hell’s Kitchen. Every fight is bone crushing real, usually having Matt return to his apartment covered in blood and with many broken bones.

Not to mention, we get much more character development throughout the series, in the movie’s it’s much harder to have more time with each character due to the allotted running time of a feature.

People might not be as forgiving sitting through 3+ hours of cinema [again].

:// PRODUCTION QUALITY

New York has been featured in countless media, comics, movies, etc. It’s always great to see new faces from familiar places. For example, Daredevil and Mr. Robot, although being set in New York they both look and feel extremely different. Which is always a great feeling especially as an outsider looking in.

I live in Chicago, every day I walk its streets and Lakefront I am amazed just as the first time I saw it. I had the same feeling when I saw Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, every location was very similar, streets and places I had visited many, many times before.

But God damn it, this was Gotham baby. My city had suddenly become Gotham City.

One of my biggest attractions to any show is hands down the intro. This is a fine art which everyone enjoys, and the intro to Daredevil is no exception.

Masterfully put together by the amazing Patrick Clair, the intro is downright gorgeous.

Simple, elegant, effective.

Noir.

 

:// FAVORITE MOMENTS

There are 3 main stories throughout Daredevil, my personal favorite being The Punisher. The casting of Jon Bernthal was excellent, he was built up throughout the show as a ghost. Once he comes into the picture, he’s like a freight train. Unstoppable.

Hopefully, Luke Cage and Iron Fist are just as good, I need to catch up so I can finally watch The Defenders.

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FELL Vol. 1

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I remember watching Film Noir in college. The style of those films have always appealed to me, the hard shadows, the fantastic use of light and smoke, a lot of smoking.

Since the release of Seven, I would refer to “modern noir” as “Fincher Noir”. Close focus, hard cuts, industrial soundtrack a la Nine Inch Nails.

FELL falls into that category perfectly. Written by Warren Ellis and Illustrated by Ben Templesmith, the writing, and the art fits into this style of story telling harmoniously. Just like peanut butter and jelly. Having recently started purchasing comics again, I ran a quick search on google for top 10 graphic novels which do not pertain to super heroes, Fell stood out from the crowd.

:// PRODUCTION QUALITY

Templesmith’s artwork is very loose, and I don’t say this as an offense. I say it as a compliment, his illustrations feel very organic. The juxtaposition of Ben’s artwork and the backgrounds which on many occasions seem as photographs with the posterize filter in Photoshop cranked all the way up.

It also appears as if each issue has a specific hue which pertains to each character and overall story. Each issue is referred to as a “chapter”. Chapter 1 starts off with a timid color palette, the colors get much more vivid as situations and characters start to get more intense.

:// STORY

The series focuses on Richard Fell, a detective which has been sent “across the bridge” from the “big city” to Snowtown. A crime-ridden city, in the vein of Gotham City minus the super villains.

The denizens of Snowtown hate themselves and their lives, Fell finds himself dealing with the shortcomings of the Snowtown PD and the strange and frequent crimes committed throughout the city. There are three different mysteries throughout the series, the first is the strange Snowtown tag which can be seen prominently throughout the city. The second is a strange character dressed like a Nun wearing a Richard Nixon mask, whom always appears to be following Fell. The third and final mystery is the reason why Richard Fell was transferred to Snowtown since it appears it was done as a punishment. Plus, Fell is hesitant to “cross the bridge” back to the big city.

:// CHARACTERS

The series constantly introduces new characters, many are recurring characters which interact with Fell throughout his work and personal lives. There is also the “victim of the week” in each issue.

The two standout characters besides Fell and his love interest Mayko are the Snowtown PD’s secretary and the mortician. Trust me, once you read it, you’ll get it.

“I love Jesus.” – Read Vol. 1, you’ll get it.

 

:// FELL VOL. 2?

Unfortunately, Fell only ran for nine issues, Vol. 1 collects issues one through eight. Which means I need to get one final issue to be able to read the series original run. It’s also disappointing that there is currently no conclusion in sight for the series, especially heartbreaking if you have read Warren’s work on Transmetropolitan.

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Twenty One Pilots – Blurryface

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:// SYNAPSIS

Usually, online algorithms are annoying, which makes people hate marketing. It’s the equivalent of having people knock on your door and try to sell you Jesus.

Eerily enough, YouTube’s algorithm is extremely accurate. It must have been around 2 am on a weekday, as I was winding down from personal projects for the night. I saw a thumbnail for Twenty One Pilots, the video was HeavyDirtySoul live.

I decided to give it a play and I have to be honest, it blew me away. The song was great, the performance was excellent and the crowd was phenomenal. I then looked up their album Blurryface which has that specific track on it.

This is one of those [rare] albums which I can listen to completely, usually I make my playlist featuring the greatest hits from any given album, but this is one of those rare gems which I can listen to uninterruptedly from beginning to end.

Swagger as fuck.

 

Hands down I have to say that Hometown is my jam.

I have that shit on repeat, every-single-day.

Give it a try, you might enjoy it.

[For some strange reason I have discovered a fascination for 2-member-bands, I can’t wait to discover more.]

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Kick Ass 2

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I’m not going to lie, this post is probably going to be pretty hard to get through. Sometimes [usually few] I can feel “The Voice”, this time, it’s a bit difficult.

Fuck it, I’ll just keep it real.

I didn’t like Kick Ass 2, which is a shame because I was really enjoyed the first movie. There are a few reasons though, I caught KA2 in a dubbed version, Spanish to be exact. Don’t get me wrong, I love Spanish, hell I’m Mexican. I just hate watching a movie for the first time in an “altered” state.

For example, the movie was created with the English language in mind, regardless of how good a dub is, there is always something lost in translation. I don’t mind reading subtitles, I love J-Horror, but I refuse to watch a dubbed Ringu.

In this case, many of the jokes fell flat, extremely flat. If I have seen a movie before, in its original state, then I don’t mind watching it dubbed or edited for content.

:// PRODUCTION QUALITY

The movie does have a bigger production quality compared to the first movie. You can immediately feel the absence of Matthew Vaughn though.

[I’m guessing this might have been while he was making Kingsman.]

It was great to see Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes, not to mention Donald Faison, it was good to see him in something, again.

:// STORY

The story is pretty straightforward, Dave and Mindy continue with their lives after the events of the first movie. They quickly realize the consequences of their actions, both good and bad. Crime is on the rise and ordinary people are inspired to don masks in order to help fight crime.

Here is where the movie starts to suffer, Kick Ass’ friends and girlfriend have very small roles in the sequel. They played major parts in the first movie, in this one, they feel like throw away characters. The movie does also fail to make you fear The Motherfucker, the main villain. There are two scenes where the villains do feel like a legitimate threat, but I’ll save that for when you watch the movie.

:// CHARACTERS

As I mentioned before, the movie suffers from having too many characters in the story, each character could have really shined throughout the story. I might have to check out the Blu, perhaps there are deleted scenes which could make the character interactions flow better.

I was excited to see Jim Carrey and John Leguizamo have bigger parts in the movie but, if you watch the trailer, those are basically all of their scenes.

Kicking ass and taking names.

 

:// FAVORITE MOMENTS

It was fun to see Mindy trying to get through High School life, again this could have been explored further. There were some really mean characters which would have been great to explore further.

The movie was left wide open for another sequel, perhaps one day we would get to see the conclusion of the Kick Ass story.

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