Feb
19

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Holy heart failure, Batman fans: A look at the Season 2, Part 1 DVD

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Na na na na na na … Batman! Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released the DVD for the Second Season, Part 1 of the beloved, campy 1960s TV series featuring Adam West as the Caped Crusader and Burt Ward as the Boy Wonder, just in time for this week’s colorful Throwback Thursday installment.

 

The original 1966 Batman TV series took decades to see a release on DVD and Blu-ray, but the wait was definitely worth it! The first 30 episodes from the series’ second season are now available on DVD and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment graciously provided a copy for my review for this Throwback Thursday installment.

It’s like a live-action cartoon with campy music, zany guest stars and playful puns and punches flying left and right.

I grew up watching the original Batman series in reruns on cable television. It was always one of my favorites because it was so wondrously colorful and wacky. Everywhere you look in any given screenshot, your senses are bombarded by psychedelic, eye-popping costumes that only a 1960s series could pull off so well. It’s like a live-action cartoon with campy music, zany guest stars and playful puns and punches flying left and right. Don’t get me started on the delightful variety of villains the series also offered! From familiar comic book favorites like The Joker, Penguin, Catwoman and Mr. Freeze to crazy, new villainous concoctions such as Egghead, King Tut, The Clock King, The Archer and The Minstrel, the second season is full of fiendish foes and perilous plots. I’m having trouble deciding which villain is my all-time favorite because they’re all so interesting and diabolical in their own unique way!

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Feb
13

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Fifty Shades of Grey is fifty shades of painful to watch

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When erotic fiction is watered down for consumption by the masses on the big screen, is there any doubt it might have some flaws? Just how bad is ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ anyway?

 

When Fifty Shades of Grey made its way through my circle of friends back in 2012, I picked it up and read it mostly so I would know what it was all my friends were talking about on Facebook. I was mildly curious, and it was this mild curiosity that kept me reading it until the final page. However, by the time the novel was over, I felt a closure with the characters. I didn’t care enough about their fates to pick up either of the two sequels. It was this same mild curiosity that caused me to accept the review invitation for the film, released today by Focus Features, and I have to say watching the film adaptation was even more painful to sit through than reading the first novel.

I think my biggest problem with Fifty Shades of Grey is that it’s billed as this great, sweeping love story that couples should want to watch unfold on the big screen this Valentine’s Day weekend. It’s about as romantic of a notion to me as Pretty Woman. Much like I never understood why a story about a rich man using a prostitute to his advantage and then taking her off the streets on a whim is considered an epic romance, I don’t understand why this one is billed as such either.

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Photo Credit: Focus Features
Feb
12

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Kingsman: The Secret Service takes the spy movie to a new level

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Colin Firth breaks out of his romantic lead niche to become an action movie star in ‘Kingman: The Secret Service,’ and we’ll call it one of the top ten films of the year right now.

 

Spy movies have been around almost as long as the cinema. Great Britain produced the first spy movies during the silent era and the Great War (or World War I). Master German director Fritz Lang contributed to the genre (and pretty much set the standard) with his movie Spies in 1928. Lang’s Dr. Mabuse films also contained a host of spy film elements. Alfred Hitchcock, in his pre-US films of the 1930s, helped popularize the genre with a variety of films including The Man Who Knew Too Much, Secret Agent and Sabotage.

Spy movies became big in the US during World War II and into the Cold War era with the introduction of the first movie super spy, James Bond. Imitators came and went and Bond has endured but fans have to wait until November before his next big screen outing, SPECTRE. Until then, we have a new spy organization set to rival MI6 in Kingman: The Secret Service. And if you can ignore the hype of this weekend’s other big release, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by this alternative.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (based on the graphic novel The Secret Service) is an origin story of sorts. The movie opens with scant background on Harry Hart (Colin Firth), code name Galahad, and a mission which led to the death of one of his fellow agents. Presenting the agent’s wife with an offer of assistance, she rebuffs him but he makes sure her young son understands that help is only a phone call away.

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Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox
Feb
12

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Mommy hits hard but has an unnecessary visual gimmick

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‘Mommy’ is a heightened melodrama with subtitles – so that should tell you if you want to see it or not.

 

Sometimes I feel like all indie movies are the same, with stylized cinematography and lighting, achingly acted scenes of pain, and a final message of “love’s great, but life sucks for the most part for most people.” This is perhaps unfair, but soon I realized that it’s not that all indie movies are the same, but that there’s a certain type where it’s always the same. These films are painful to watch if the acting is well done, because you empathize so strongly with the characters and their pain. Naturally, this is tricky, because it also can be draining and ultimately, repetitively tiresome. So it takes a real gem or unique idea to stand out in the crowd. Does this one? Well . . .

Mommy is a French Canadian movie written and directed by Xavier Dolan that aches with sorrow with a few shining moments of happiness that only serve to make the sad parts worse. Diane (Anne Dorval) is a single mother and widow of a troubled fifteen year old son, Steve (Antoine Olivier Pilon). Steve also has issues with ADHD, but the film doesn’t quite seem to understand mental illness all that well. There is an opening splash text that in a fictional alternate version of Canada, legislation has been passed that lets parents easily institutionalize kids for a variety of reasons. This is 100% pointless, because the movie does not really need to be in an alternate world for really anything to work.

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Photo Credit: Roadside Attractions
Feb
12

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Why you should skip Fifty Shades of Grey and watch Secretary

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With the new film about to premiere based on a book that helped coin the phrase “Mommy Porn,” let’s examine how a thirteen year old film already did it better.

 

With the new film Fifty Shades of Grey coming out for Valentine’s Day, many couples will be tempted to spend their hard-earned cash to see it. Instead, lets look at why 2002’s Secretary is the smarter alternative.

To start, lets look at story. A young woman meets an older man in a position of power named Mr. Grey, the two become attracted to each other and embark on a BDSM relationship. Yes we just described both films with that one simple sentence. Two movies dealing with intense sexual relationships, focused primarily on BDSM, and having the male leads named Mr. Grey. The films diverge from here and show two very different takes on this lifestyle. Fifty Shades puts all the power into the man’s hands and focuses on the purely sexual side, making the female lead little more than a toy for his amusement. Secretary concerns itself with showing a fairly traditional love story, boy meets girls, boy and girl flirt, something goes wrong, girl tries to get boy back … but dressing such a traditional idea with an untraditional relationship. At it’s core Secretary is still a love story where Fifty Shades is a lust story.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Feb
12

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Learn the ABCs of love with Teacher’s Pet this Valentine’s Day

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If you don’t feel like going out for Valentine’s Day this year, enjoy a classic romantic comedy such as ‘Teacher’s Pet’ (1958) instead in this week’s Throwback Thursday installment. Starring Clark Gable and Doris Day, sometimes it’s fun to be schooled in the schematics of love and journalism.

 

Valentine’s Day is once more upon us, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with a classic romantic comedy starring the legendary Clark Gable and Doris Day as this week’s Throwback Thursday. Courtesy of the Warner Archive Collection, Teacher’s Pet (1958) is an enjoyable rom-com about Erica Stone (Day), who is an effervescent journalism professor, and James Gannon (Gable), a hardboiled city newspaper editor who doesn’t believe a good journalist needs to be educated in the classroom.

In the grand tradition of all rom-coms that have come before and since, there is a meet-cute (boy and girl meet in a memorable way), followed by boy deceives girl and girl finds out and resents him for it, and then in the end, the two are able to forget about their misunderstanding because they realize they’re crazy about one another. In the case of Teacher’s Pet, the meet-cute occurs when Stone sends a letter to Gannon asking him if he would be a guest speaker in her classroom to inspire her students. Gannon scoffs at the letter and sends a rather scathing reply saying that he doesn’t subscribe to the concept of teaching journalism when individuals who want to be reporters should be knocking about as hangers-on in the newsroom, learning from seasoned veterans such as himself as they go.

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Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
Feb
9

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Power Rangers returns with new thrills, excitement and more ethnic diversity!

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The Power Rangers are back with new villains, new powers and – drum roll, please – more ethnic diversity! In this week’s Clacking in Color, the fun column spotlighting diversity on television, writer Jaylen Christie discusses why ‘Power Rangers Dino Charge’ is fresh, fun and long overdue!

 

If there was ever a venerable children’s franchise that refused to die, Power Rangers may just be the one. What started in 1993 has now spawned a two decade long authorization of fun television programming, movies, video games, and countless action figures – and I have been with them every single step of the way. It’s been several months since I’ve penned an editorial for CliqueClack, but having Power Rangers back on my flat screen has rather reinvigorated me.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen … I’m back.

Power Rangers Dino Charge premiered on Nickelodeon on Saturday afternoon though if you’re a fan like me, chances are you probably watched the premiere episode one week early on Nick.com. At any rate, the first installment really set the tone for Dino Charge and based upon what was shown, fans and casual viewers are in for a ride. Instead of the typical totalitarian villain bent on conquering the planet, Power Rangers Dino Charge concerns Sledge, a vile intergalactic bounty hunter on the hunt for the Energems. Who could blame him? All powerful gems with endless energies aren’t exactly available on EBay or Amazon.com. However, there to oppose him are the Power Rangers, who in this series harness the dynamisms and strengths of the ancient dinosaurs.

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Photo Credit: Saban Entertainment
Feb
9

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Is Backstrom the next House?

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Treading on all too familiar ground, ‘Backstrom’ is a mean spirited and uninspired take on the likable sociopath model.

 

Over the past few decades one thing has become abundantly clear — television audiences love sociopaths. Whether it’s Scrubs‘ Dr. Cox, or the titular characters of Dexter, Sherlock, and House, America seems to love emotionally distant yet brilliant characters. Sometimes they push into psychopathic territory but they still end up fan favorites, sometimes they’re the hero, other times a mentor, and other times villains we love to hate.

Fox is betting on that affection for the new show Backstrom, they even gave it the tagline “Brilliant detective, total dick.” Unfortunately Backstrom comes up lacking in the brilliant department and very heavy on the dick. As of this article, there have been three episodes of the show so far, all three have been painfully uninspired and lacking any real charm. The only real stars in the show are Dennis Haysbert, of 24 and Allstate commercial fame among countless other projects, along with Six Feet Under and The Office star Rainn Wilson as Backstrom. The rest of the cast is made up of fairly unknown actors. There are some pretty faces in the supporting cast but no one really stands out as particularly memorable or special. No one sticks out as particularly bad either, just forgettable.

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Photo Credit: Fox
Feb
6

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Seventh Son is mediocre, but entertaining, medieval fantasy fare

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When Spook John Gregory yearns to retire, training a suitable replacement is anything but an easy task. Does young Thomas Ward have what it takes in ‘Seventh Son?’

 

Mankind has long held a fascination with eerie things that go bump in the night and the mysterious fraternal orders that are bound by duty to keep us safe from such creatures. In Universal Pictures’ latest offering Seventh Son, we’re introduced to The Wardstone Chronicles (UK)/The Last Apprentice (US), a young-adult series written by author Joseph Delaney. This book series follows the supernatural adventures of Thomas “Tom” Ward (Ben Barnes), who is the seventh son of a seventh son, and therefore the apprentice of Spook John Gregory (Jeff Bridges). In this fictional world, a Spook is the title given to a knight who is bound by duty to fight against supernatural evil.

Only the seventh son of a seventh son is strong enough to fight against a gaggle of ghosts, ghasts, witches, boggarts and the like.

Only the seventh son of a seventh son is deemed strong enough to fight the good fight against a gaggle of ghosts, ghasts, witches, boggarts and the like. It seems this is a dying breed, as Gregory is the last of the Spook Masters. All of his apprentices have ultimately failed, having been killed by dark forces during their extensive training process. This is all bad enough for Gregory to contend with, but when you throw in the fact that the blood red moon is rising – an event that only happens once a century – and Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) is once more free and gathering her evil minions to take over humanity, well it becomes a dire situation not for the faint of heart indeed. Mother Malkin is the evil queen of the witches. She is very powerful and dangerous with bloodthirsty, vengeful feelings for the Spook. She will stop at nothing to see that the Spook and his young apprentice fail their quest to undermine her uprising.

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Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Feb
6

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Jupiter Ascending is a mess but still manages to entertain

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After the tour de force of ‘Cloud Atlas,’ The Wachowskis are back with the visually amazing but story-challenged ‘Jupiter Ascending.’

 

The Wachowski’s have had a varied and checkered career, bursting onto the cinema landscape with the groundbreaking The Matrix and then nearly crashing and burning with two Matrix sequels and Speed Racer. The siblings redeemed themselves (or not) with the outstanding Cloud Atlas, and now they are back with another stunning piece of work, Jupiter Ascending.

The question is, are viewers going to be stunned in a good or bad way? The film is definitely taking its hits already from critics and advance screening audiences, but I’m not going to be quite as harsh on the film as many people are.

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Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures