February 19

Spawn | Should’ve been better

Pre-Production issues ruined what should have been a classic. The most popular black comic book hero in the 90’s and 00’s did not reside in Wakanda, fought off vampires or swore an oath to the Green Lantern Corps,  he was a man who made a deal with the devil to be one of his solders as Spawn. Al Simmons was a pure badass a former Recon Marine who eventually went to the CIA and then to Black Ops. He eventually saw the corruption in his squad and called them out for it; leading to his eventual death. However, once making a deal with the devil to bring him back to life, Al returned as a disfigured man whose wife moved on after his “death.” Spawn eventually learned how to use his power for himself and took back the city he once loved.  Where Blade proved to be a hit and saved the Comic Book Movie genre, Spawn had some issues. Granted this film had a lot to live up to, but it suffered through its own issues.

No Spawn film should be PG13 ever, EVER. This film had the ingredients of an R rated film, and the after the success of Blade this would have been the perfect time to strike again. Another huge issue was the casting.  Michael Jai White was the right guy to play Spawn; I would say it was perfect casting. The rest of the cast, not so much.  John Leguizamo plays the Violator, the main villain of the film is a demon who guide hell spawns. Leguizamo was horrible in this role. He was overbearing in most of his scenes and I was ready to fast forward through them. The rest of the cast added nothing to the film; Martin Sheen, Theresa Randle and D.B. Sweeny all could’ve been replaced and the film would not miss a beat.  However, the biggest crime of the film was it’s CGI and good god it is awful.

The villain, Malebolgia (Basically the devil) looks horrible and is dubbed horribly. The DEVIL MOUTH IS WIDE OPEN EVERY SCENE HE IS IN…. yikes.  Spawn’s suit CGI is great but the devil and the violator has some of the worst I’ve ever seen in a film.   Re-watching this film, I know there would be problems like this but goodness this was bad.

What is sad is that I enjoyed this film growing up. This film did not age well and it had potential. Spawn is a property that is worth bringing to the big screen, but it needs the right team behind them.  If anything, watch the HBO series, it is a million times better and is one of the best animated Cartoon series to date.   I know there is plans for a possible reboot this year and I hope it gets done for the sake of Todd McFarlane and his series itself.

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February 14

Blade | the Love Letter to Black Comic Nerds

Marvel must’ve saw Steel and laughed their asses off. Marvel was in a tough state around this time. Marvel was in financial problems, and it was selling their properties to different (a move they would soon be a blessing and curse for them). Wesley Snipes was hellbent on making a Black Panther film but due to preproduction, he decided to take on Blade instead, and thank you lord for this choice.

Blade IS the film that proved Marvel can create a blockbuster and it set up the future for Comic Book films. Blade started it all and helped right the ship in Comic Book Movies after the Batman films went downhill.  This movie can be summed up by one scene, the intro. The introduction to this is the best 10 minutes to a comic book film to date.  Seriously, the introduction to Blade is one of the best introductions to a Comic book character ever.  Blade in a brief description about Blade killing vampires, Blade is a half breed human and vampire sharing their strengths and weaknesses but also have enhanced abilities like being able to withstand sunlight. Blade being able to walk during the daytime, granted him the nickname Daywalker by his foes. Wesley Snipes was perfect for this role not do you see how much fun he is having in this film but how much he enjoy this character. In addition, the actions scenes were a blast with him whether by sword, shotgun, or hand to hand, Snipes was just kicking ass throughout the film.  For every good hero there has to be a strong villain, but I feel this was a misfire not on the actor’s behalf. Stephen Dorff plays Deacon Frost, a Vampire who strives for power. He was not born a Vampire, which did not give him a seat at the table, but he felt deserved one. Frost’s main objective in this film was to become La Magra, the vampire blood god and rid the world of humans.

Dorff does a good job doing a Modern take on Frost; the comic book portrayal was an elder German scientist. However, the writing team mostly David s Goyer (a guy you will hear brought up a few times in the Blade reviews) failed to really claw on his character and do some really goofy things. Perfect example is wearing a Motorcycle Helmet and gear to avoid the sunlight but in a later scene, he’s able to walk freely in the daylight (did he have on mad sunscreen??). Stuff like that goes against writing not the actors.  Speaking of the rest of the cast all the major players did great.  Kris Kristofferson plays Abraham Whistler, Blade’s mentor and the person who raised him to fight for good.  Whistler is in all 3 films (which really hurts the impact of one scene in this film), and plays a major part in the Franchise.  I enjoy Whistler as the wise cracking asshole who is not afraid to fight anyone and Kris does a great job here playing him as he do for the rest of the franchise.  N’Bushe Wright, who was drop dead gorgeous in this film, plays Karen Jensen, a Doctor hell-bent on finding the cure to end Vampires after a Vampire bit her. The most surprising and most awesome part about her character is the fact she was not the love interest in this film but someone with the same objective as Blade to stopping Vampires (TAKE NOTES ON THIS).  Ms. Wright does well here and it is a shame this was the last big role for her. Sanaa Lathan plays a very important role in this, but I will not further into that. I will say her role was underutilized and it could had played a bigger role here.

As much as I love this film, there are some problems.  The writing sometimes lacks logic in this realm and loses sight of the narrative.  How many times do we have to see Blade allow a Vampire to escape and cause more harm, one Vampire in particular at that.  The CGI is god awful to downright disturbing but those flaws get a pass because of how well the actors did their roles with what they had.  Blade is a blast to watch and a fun time. This felt like a film that could have failed but had people behind it that refuse to see that happen. This film saved Marvel big time and was the 1st to spawn a trilogy. X-Men and Spiderman will get the accolades but Blade opened the door.  The best way to describe to this film, “some motherfuckers always try ice skate uphill” (seriously how can anyone hate that line?)

 

 

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February 12

Steel | Who greenlit this shit?

Congrats DC, you did it before Marvel but you played yourself.

This was rough like really rough, it took 6 tries to watch this and shockingly, this is not the worst on this list. Before Hollywood knew better Shaq kept getting starring movie roles.  Granted, Blue Chips is one of the best Basketball films to date and personally take a look (granted a melodramatic look) inside the NCAA. After taking his talents to Hollywood and leaving Orlando, Shaq was destined to follow up on role in Blue Chips with starring roles. First came Kazaam and thank god that doesn’t count; I would’ve threw my laptop.  Kazaam was a flop, but Hollywood did not listen and gave Shaq a DC comic property to work with in Steel.

Steel was never a huge character. In fact, he was a side character to Superman and eventually tried and failed to carry his mantle after Supes defeat to Doomsday. The character John Henry Irons (yes, his name is a pun) was the 1st black comic character to get a Hollywood blockbuster film not Black Lightning, not John Stewart’s Green Lantern, or even Static Shock ugghhhh damn you DC for this!!!!

The film changed certain aspects of his character instead of being a weapons engineer for the fictional AmerTek Industries like he was in the comics, he was a weapons engineer for the military in the film. Also, there is no Superman in this film and thank fucking god for that.  Shaq who plays Irons is discharged from the military due to how dangerous his weapons are and paralyzing one of his comrades in a practice run.  By the way, Shaq in a Military uniform is as ridiculous as it sounds.  Long story short, Shaq sees his weapons on the street and he goes under the guise of Steel to take the bad guys and get the weapons off the street. This film doesn’t deserve a breakdown, fuck that don’t see it. Don’t ask me to elaborate. Judd Nelson plays the villain and he’s just being himself here.  THIS FILM RUINED SHAFT FOR ME. Dammit Mr. Roundtree how could you?  Ray J was in this film as Shaq’s brother, son, nephew I don’t fucking know nor care, but I enjoyed him in this film. This film is bad on all levels and I’m ashamed it took me 6 tries to finish it. Don’t watch it, save yourself.

February 9

Blankman | the Unexpected Cult Classic

This film should not work by any means but somehow it did.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Wayans family. For every film and show I enjoy by them (I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, In Living Color, Mo Money, Don’t a Menace, first two Scary Movies, The Wayans Bros., White Chicks) there is those films that I cannot (Little Man, Every Marlon Wayans led film,). However, this film, wow, surprisingly I love a lot. Now, there is a lot to be concerned with most particularly the main character as a mentally disabled figure (still a genius); which could be a death sentence for film but here, it actually worked. Damon Wayans (my personal favorite of the Wayans) played his role as Darryl Walker really well here. It did not come off as an annoying but a very sympathetic figure that you can root for.  When he attempts to save people, or use his inventions for the greater good makes him someone you can actually root. He does have scenes I can live without one in particular (more on that later).  Then there is David Alan Grier’s character Kevin Walker who is the more mature one between him and his brother Darryl. He also wants Darryl to grow the hell up. As a cameraman for the News station, Kevin seems to no time for his brother’s inventions and foolishness until he see Darryl’s persistence as Blankman, he eventually joins as his sidekick Other Guy (I love that name. The Walkers have a very standard backstory; they lost a very close relative (their grandmother), Darryl becomes inspired by Batman to help others and his brother, Kevin becomes a hero in own right being inspired by Darryl.  Their interactions are genuine and sometimes hilarious. Being cast mates in living color help shows their chemistry and they play well off one another.  The funny part is they were not the stand out in this film.

That belongs to Jason Alexander wheel-chaired character Larry Stone. Alexander is prefect here as the perverted yet selfish boss. Robin Givens plays the love interest in this film, Kimberly Jonz and there’s nothing wrong with her in this movie but being of apart of that one scene (I’ll get to it don’t worry). The villain is just another one of those trope villains with a gang of mobster. Each character shine in their own right even Darryl’s robot J-5 is memorable here.  There are scenes that went a little to far here. Most particularly the premature ejaculation scene after Darryl’s kiss with Kimberly and him not knowing what boobs are. Darryl’s nerdiness can be too much but the stereotype itself is a bad one.  One that I’m happy we can move away from. This film has its bad moments but it’s a fun film at heart and entertaining. Just like, Meteor Man this film should not be seen as a critical viewpoint but a casual viewing.  This film is a spoof/satire on the genre itself and the film plays to all the tropes most films still follow today. What made this film was the fact it should not work at all, but shockingly it does. This film is still funny and have a charm to it.

While flawed, it’s a great film if you know how to approach watching this film. Thank goodness they went this route instead of bringing the In-Living Color sketch Handiman to life that would be worrisome. As it was initially hated it came to grow into cult classic that is admired today.  This is worth watching and one you come to appreciate after each viewing.

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February 7

Meteor Man | The Forgotten Classic

Robert Townsend was well on his way to stardom after betting on himself big time with his satire Hollywood Shuffle, attacking racial stereotypes in Hollywood.  The film controversial issues brought Townsend to the forefront as his music odyssey the Five Heartbeats became a classic in its own rights and still a great film to watch today.  Townsend tackled the music industry and Hollywood, it was only in due time he would try the Superhero genre. In comes 1993 Meteor Man.  Townsend bet big on this film this was one of his biggest budget films at 30 million to make, he went to Marvel comics to help spawn a 6-issue series for his film; more importantly, he wrote, produced, and directed this film.  With a very star-studded cast (Hello Darth Vader/Mufasa and War Machine), Meteor Man had a lot riding on it.  Unfortunately, the critics hated it due to its constant tone switches (oddly enough some films with similar flaws cough ** Guardians of the Galaxy 2 ** cough receive praise by today’s critics).  As a result, Meteor Man flopped in the box office.

Being born in 1993, I never had the privilege of watching this in the theater; I was able to watch years later as a kid and loved it.  Revisiting this film, I still enjoy this film, and I love it more now.  To give a brief summary, Robert Townsend plays Jefferson Reed, a schoolteacher in Washington DC, which is flooded with gang violence most notably by the Golden Lords whose leader played by Roy Fegan as Simon Caine recruits children to become members.  The Golden Lords all dye their heads blonde, are militant and shoot to kill. Did I mention they have a damn pet tiger; yes, the Golden Lords are the shit.  Reed tries to rescues a woman from being assaulted by the Lords. During his flee to escape them; a meteor goes right into him in one of the most disgusting scenes I have seen in a film. Stan Winston could not make something that gross happen.  Despite the serve injuries, Townsend’s character wakes up completely fine the next day. When discovering his powers such as flight, x-ray/laser vision, superhuman strength, speed, and hearing, invulnerability, healing powers, the ability to absorb a book’s content by touch, super breath, telepathy with dog, he begins to help to take back the city from the Golden Lords as Meteor Man.

The very first thing I have to say about this (other James Earl Jones rocking a high-top fade asking women if they’re down with OPP yes, this fucking happened) is the heart in the film. Townsend and his supporting cast really love the city they are in and refuse to keep seeing get destroyed, but they have no hope in restoring their community which getting run down by the Golden Lords. Robert himself does a great job as Reed as someone who is ready to change DC for the better but also make human mistakes and some that cost him in the future of this film.  This film also incorporated musicians in a very fascinating way. Luther Vandross and Big Daddy Kane as villains check, Cypress Hill (who are Bloods) playing Crips interesting, Naughty by Nature as bloods. Interesting choices and something I also have issue with the film. There’s too many characters in this film to keep up. James Earl Jones and Sinbad’s characters were completely pointless in this film, and I haven’t got to Bill Cosby’s character yet. The film tried too hard to putting too many plot points that went nowhere and it hurt the film from a critical standpoint. However, that does not mean that this is a bad film, it is not by any means.  The film is actually solid with crop of actors who had a blast playing their roles.  Even with the issues from a critical standpoint, this a great casual viewing.   It’s honestly a shame this film did so horrible in the box office. This film deserved better and it’s a film worth watching.