"Dolittle" Review


High-budget studio films are a massive undertaking, and today's sensationalist media reporting is such that people often like to take pleasure in the failure of any blockbuster that doesn't smash at the box office. But what happens when the latest box office flop is helmed by a highly beloved Hollywood A-lister.

Robert Downey Jr. has been making it very clear on the Dolittle press tour that he wanted to make a film that the youngest kids that follow him will be able to see. Though some parents are irresponsible enough to bring their shrieking children to a PG-13 Marvel film, other have enough sense to know that doing so simply isn't appropriate. Dolittle was a passion project to give the kids something that would be fun, full of wonder, and leave them with some good messages to take away by the time the credits roll. So what went wrong?

By all accounts, Dolittle should have been a hit. On paper, all the boxes are checked. A well-established series (the "Dolittle" books and previous film adaptations), a cast full of A-list names, and all the money needed to build a whole new world to get swept on an adventure in. Trouble first began brewing when rumours began to rise on Reddit regarding problems with production. There was talk of reshoots, actors not knowing what animals they were supposed to be pretending to act opposite, directors being replaced. There's no way of truly knowing what happened on set. It may have been as bad as the rumours claimed just as it may have been fine by typical movie-making standards, or anywhere in-between.

One of the main problems with the finished product of "Dolittle" is how clumsy the writing and humour is. There's an overabundance of the lowest type of humour, particularly in regards to bodily functions. Those are the types of jokes that only five-year-olds would laugh at. The climax of the film is Doctor Dolittle doing a colonoscopy on a dragon and after unclogging it, the dragon farts (you can see this moment in the film's trailer).

On the other hand, there are too many sporadically thrown-in modern references for pop culture and slang. An octopus says "snitches get stitches." Ants re-enact dialogue from The Godfather. Dolittle lacks a clear identity and or intention in what style it wants to be. The anachronistic references could have worked if it had been fully committed to, and embraced for all the style it can add to the film, as opposed to distracting from the more emotional and dramatic stakes of the story. The humour is so poor, despite having so many talented names in the cast, that it's likely down to a combination of poor writing and choppy editing.

With films like Pirates of the Caribbean (the first one or two) and Maleficent being successful adventure and fantasy stories that work well across age demographics, Dolittle had the right pieces to follow in their footsteps. It's not entirely clear what the main source of the misfires is. But if there is anything the film does right, it's the more heartfelt messages that the kids watching are supposed to take away from the story. Dolittle's adventure stems from a need to save the sick Queen or else the deed to their land will get sold off. Dolittle would be out of a home and a job, while all his animal companions living in the sanctuary would be thrust out into the wild right in the middle of hunting season. Additionally, the young boy Tommy who aspires to be Dolittle's apprentice has some nice subtext in his character arc. While Tommy comes from a family of hunters, he has a more empathetic attitude towards animals. When he comes wearing a fancy scarf gifted to him by the Princess, his father immediately chides him for his attire. When you see Tommy saddened at overhearing his father questioning why his son isn't more like the rest of the family (hunters), you can't help but note that children watching who similarly come from harsh families that don't understand them can feel hope that they too can find a home, adventure, and supportive friends somewhere out in the world.

Though Dolittle has been poorly received by adults, it still has enough going for it to appeal to small children. If you are a parent, older sibling, relative, etc. it could be worth adding to your child's collection.

Watch our video review of "Dolittle" here:

"Bad Boys for Life" Review


I decided to watch the first two Bad Boy films before seeing "Bad Boys for Life" and I won't mince words. The first two Bad Boys films have not aged well. The score in the first one is particularly unbearable (there's a dated, porno-saxophone playing very loudly when a sex worker is shot by the bad guy), and the second one had Will Smith making a threatening joke to an underage boy about him  getting sexually assaulted. The reason why those films have endured enough for a third one to be created is the charisma and chemistry between the two leads, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Thankfully, Bad Boys for Life breathes new life and completely rejuvenates the franchise.

Bad Boys for Life has a respectable budget for a big-name blockbuster. However, with seventeen years having passed since the last one, 90 million dollars goes much farther because of how much technology has advanced to enhance the overall look of the film. This is the most stylish film of the three, and the way that the camera moves through shots whether covering the heroes doing action or even the more simple shots looking down on Miami, it's very enjoyable to watch on an aesthetic level. The scoring has significantly improved since the series began, as this time they've stuck to classic orchestral instrumentation which is a great way to class things up from the humble beginnings twenty-five years ago.

Though I've not been generous in my feedback of the first two Bad Boys films, I still recommend doing a rewatch (or first watch) leading into seeing Bad Boys for Life so you can appreciate how well they've developed the characters and even managed to reference past plot points. Mike is the ladies man who has a new love interest with every film. In the second, it was Marcus' sister (played by Gabrielle Union) and they mention in passing how Mike had broken up with her some time since the second film ended. We also see Marcus' daughter get married to Reggie, the same boy she went on her first date with back in Bad Boys II. Reggie is also the same boy who Mike threatened with sexual assault, but let's just hope that the characters have become more socially conscious since then.

The only noteworthy critique I have is towards the treatment of Alexander Ludwig's character Dorn. He's introduced with a back story involving trauma, and at the end of the film he mentions having started going to therapy. When he asks the other members of the team to come to group therapy of him, they mock his request and the interaction is played off like he is the butt of the joke for having the maturity to care about his mental health. It's by no means out of character for the others to be resistant towards therapy but there were still far better ways to handle the already stigmatised subject matter of mental health.

Putting aside the stylistic improvements of Bad Boys for Life compared to its predecessors, the film's greatest strength is that it has given more dimension to the lead characters and the story. In the past it was just about two police officers having a case to solve with some funny banter along the way. This time around, the very fact that this is the third film of a series is treated as a strength. There is a long history to these characters in their careers and their relationship with one another, which is leaned into for dramatic weight.

Bad Boys for Life is refreshing in how it gives the characters and the audience room to breathe and take in what Mike and Martin have experienced psychologically and emotionally during this case and how it builds on all the turmoil they have experienced in the very dangerous job they have been working for decades.

Many people complain nowadays about how frequently sequels and reboots are being commissioned but considering how much time has gone by between each film, this sequel doesn't feel rushed at all. The first and second Bad Boys films were released eight years apart and Bad Boys for Life has been released seventeen years after Bad Boys II. The growth and evolution of Mike and Marcus is on display. Their friendship is the same, in the sense that fans are treated to their usual comedic banter, but this time there is far more depth to their relationship as well as them as individuals.

Will Smith's character arc is spectacular. Mike has been a pretty vapid character in this franchise but this time around there is true growth and evolution. Some people seem to forget how skilled of a dramatic actor Will Smith is, since his biggest blockbusters are often focused on comedy, action, or both. The people in charge of Bad Boys for Life made the wise choice to capitalise on Will's multi-faceted skills and give him more serious dramatic material to play in between gun fights and wise-cracking.

This is a sequel done right. It's entertaining, feels fresh, and effectively justifies why it exists in the first place. It doesn't feel like milking an already established property, it feels like a natural progression of the story and characters introduced in the first two film. Three films in a series being released over the course of twenty-five years works far better than twenty-five films being released over ten years. Just some food for thought.

One final note I'll leave you with is to be aware that there are some scenes in the credits, one of which is a vague, open-ended set-up for a potential fourth film (which Sony has officially announced after the opening weekend exceeded initial expectations). Check out Bad Boys for Life for fun, action, and heart!

Watch the video review of Bad Boys for Life here:

"1917" Review


"1917" is the latest film to slip in as an awards show contender, with a bafflingly late release date (the film won two Golden Globes before it even had a wide release). The largest point of discussion has been the stylistic choice to film and edit the story to appear as if it's happening in one take. Though this reason might not be incentive enough to watch for those that don't enjoy historical war dramas, it should appeal to those with an interest in more advanced technical filmmaking techniques such as this.

Unfortunately, 1917 suffers from a Bandersnatch effect, as the novelty of this technical gimmick quickly wears off. The crew deserve all the credit for the difficult labour involved with creating this illusion, but as Duncan Jones recently tweeted, 'Cutting is like punctuation. It's a tool that can be as creative as the content.'

1917 would have benefited greatly if more consideration had been given to developing the story and its characters. It begins to feel very surface level in addressing the ethical dilemmas of war and combat, or the toll that it takes on the soldiers that fight in battle.

Will and Tom are the two lead characters tasked with delivering a message to stop some soldiers on their side from going into a battle where they'd be falling into a trap. The premise and execution of it on a storytelling level is very simple and straightforward. It's by no means a bad film, but it's peculiar to see it be ranked so high in the award show season. There are respectable performances from the lead actors, and the many A-list names that pop in for a scene or two, but overall it's just okay.

Watch the video review of "1917" here:

Astronomicon 3 Pop Culture Convention to Feature First Ever “Clerks” 25th Anniversary Reunion, WWE Superstar Alexa Bliss, Brat Pack Actor Anthony Michael Hall and More

Additional Guests Include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Creator Kevin Eastman, Wrestling Superstar Amy Dumas (“Lita”), Hockey Legend Darren McCarty and Many More!
Astronomicon 3, the Detroit area’s newest pop culture convention, has added even more guests to the eclectic lineup of pop culture icons appearing at the convention the weekend of February 7-9 at Wyndham Garden in Sterling Heights, MI.

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the cult-classic Clerks movie franchise, Jeff Anderson(“Randal”), in his first-ever convention appearance, with reunite with fellow actor Brian O’Halloran(“Dante”) for a once-in-a-lifetime fan experience. “I'm really excited to be returning to Astronomicon,” O’Halloran says. “The first year it snowed 10 inches and the fans still came out in record numbers. This year I can only imagine how many people will come out to meet myself and Jeff Anderson for his first ever comic con!”

From inside the squared circle, Astronomicon 3 has announced the appearance of WWE and Total Divas superstar Alexa Bliss, former pro wrestler and animal activist Amy Dumas (aka Lita), WWE Hall of Fame wrestling legend Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake and WWE superstar The Boogeyman.

As previously announced, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles creator Kevin Eastman will make his first Astronomicon appearance at this year’s convention. “I am so excited to get the 2020 convention season started at Astronomicon,” Eastman says. “Team Eastman hopes to see you there! Cowabunga!”

Anthony Michael Hall, the iconic “Brat Pack” actor known for his roles in The Breakfast ClubWeird ScienceWar Machine and Halloween Kills, has also joined the eclectic roster of guests. Says Hall“I’m excited and looking forward to coming to Michigan in February. It’s going to be a fun show with lots of great people in attendance. We hope to see you there.” 

In addition to HallThomas Ian Nicholas (American Pie franchise, Rookie of the YearHalloween Resurrection), RJ Mitte (Breaking Bad) and Alex Vincent (Child’s Play franchise, Curse of ChuckyCult of Chucky) will join previously announced actors James Jude Courtney (Halloween), Tom Atkins (Halloween IIILethal Weapon), Robert Carradine (Revenge of the Nerds), Bill Moseley (Rob Zombie’s 3 From HellHouse of 1000 CorpsesThe Devils RejectsTexas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Charles Fleischer (Who Framed Roger RabbitNightmare on Elm StreetBack to the Future 2), CJ Graham (“Jason Voorhees” from Friday the 13th Part VI Jason Lives), Richard Brake (Game of ThronesRob Zombie’s 3 From Hell31), Walter Phelan (House of 1000 Corpses), Nathan Baesel (Leslie VernonCold CaseCSI: Miami) and David Howard Thornton (Terrifier’s “Art the Clown”).
 
“In the words of Captain Spaulding, if you like blood, violence and freaks of nature, join me at the third annual Astronomicon convention,” says Bill Moseley“It's one hell of a show, and I'll see you there!”
 
Astronomicon 3 promises to fulfill the pop culture cravings of fans attending from far and wide, with even more guests, including hockey legend and four-time Stanley Cup champion Darren McCarty; comic book writer Dirk ManningComic Book Men star and podcaster Ming Chen; creator of “Art the Clown” and director of horror phenomenon Terrifier Damien Leone; rapper Mickey Avalon; special FX artists Rob Miller (Face Off Season 8), Nora Hewitt (Winner of Face Off Season 9) and Get Dead Crew’s Megan Grant; MTV VJ and Scary Movie franchise actor Simon Rex aka Dirty NastyTroma Entertainment co-founder and The Toxic Avenger actor Lloyd KaufmanJames from the Dave & Chuck the Freak radio show; tattoo artists Saint Karlos and Steve Pelkey; speed painter/artist Dave Santia; cosplayers Ginoza CostumingAshlee Kalthoff of Disfusional StudiosEnvy the Green Fairy and League of EnchantmentGhostbusters Detroit; and Majik Ninja Entertainment artists AMBAlla Xul EluBlaze Ya Dead Homie; and Astronomicon masterminds Twiztid,

The all ages event will not only feature appearances, signings and photo ops with many additional activities – including live music performances, Q&A panels, cosplay and tattoo contests, a free play video game room and tournaments, a scavenger hunt and trivia. Confirmed in-costume photo opportunities include CJ Graham dressed as Jason VoorheesWalter Phelan as Dr. SatanDavid Howard Thornton as Art the Clown and Bill Moseley as Chop Top.

Astronomicon 3 will take place at the Wyndham Garden in Sterling Heights, MI. Additional information on tickets, lodging, VIP options, full guest information, vendors and more can be located at www.astronomicon.com.


Astronomicon The Making Of: A Pop Culture Convention, a documentary that takes viewers behind the scenes to experience what goes into the production and end result of a convention, was released late last year via Amazon Prime. Through incredible convention video footage and interviews with organizers Twiztid, the hard-working Astronomicon staff, guests and fans, viewers will get a feel for the Astronomicon experience and learn why its dedicated fanbase has made it Metro Detroit’s fastest-growing convention. Watch the trailer for Astronomicon The Making Of: A Pop Culture Convention here: https://youtu.be/zDRosnPyTPc

For more information, visit:

"Like A Boss" Review


Like a Boss is a waste of potential. With comedic powerhouses like Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Coolidge, and Billy Porter, you'd expect to have a hit. Though there are laughs to be had, they come entirely from the skills of the lead performers who are largely let down by a lackluster script and some shockingly choppy editing.

Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne play Mia and Mel, best friends who have started a makeup/beauty company together. They end up in considerable debt from starting their own business and decide to sign a contract with Claire Luna (Salma Hayek), a cosmetics mogul who has her own agenda when acquiring companies to add to her empire.

If this premise sounds familiar already,  that's because it's introduced thoroughly in the film's marketing campaign. The trailer gives away more than just the plot, but the vast majority of "comedic bits" as well. Whether it's Tiffany Haddish struggling to handle food that is excessively spicy, Tiffany Haddish threatening to jump off a high balcony in order to force a meeting with Claire Luna, or Billy Porter telling Mia and Mel to WITNESS. HIS. TRAGIC. MOMENT. the real tragedy is how much potential was wasted.

Perhaps most baffling of all is the ultra short run time of 83 minutes. This may account for why so much is given away in the trailer, as there is very little to draw from for marketing material. There was so much room to better develop the characters and flow of the story, since by the time the main conflict and fall-out happens, the resolution and wrap-up happens in what feels like five minutes (if you were to go back and time it it's probably closer to ten but the point still stands).

If you're a super fan of any of the lead actors and want to support their work, that's probably the only reason to show up.

"Underwater" Review


Underwater is a fun execution of aquatic monster horror, and a great way to kickstart the horror-filled month of January. The film makes a bold choice to skip the traditional first act in the commonly used three-act system of storytelling. Being that the film is only 95 minutes in length, it knows what its concept is and what the core audience wants to see: monsters at the bottom of the ocean.

Though being at the bottom of the ocean means a limited ability to see the monsters that the humans come in contact with, it also helps to build suspense and tension. There's an added layer to the film's story in that the drilling is taking place due to a seedy corporation that is looking for resources regardless of the repercussions to the environment. In the current state of global climate crisis, Underwater resonates with an audience that has a strong emotional investment in the clash between humanity and nature.

Kristen Stewart plays the balance between emotional urgency and physical action well. Admittedly it would have been more compelling if her character Norah had been romantically involved with Emily, Jessica Henwick's character. Instead the two women are given lacklustre love interests that fail to effectively up the dramatic stakes in a meaningful emotional way. With such a limited amount of screen time available to let the audiences get attached to the heroes of the story, this would have made for a more cohesive way of mixing the character material in with the monster action.

BESTSELLING BITTER ROOT SERIES IN DEVELOPMENT FOR FILM, WELCOMES NEW COLORIST SOFIE DODGSON, KICKS OFF NEW STORY ARC

“Incredibly entertaining.” —Entertainment Weekly
Image Comics is pleased to announce the return of the critically acclaimed series Bitter Root this February from Image Comics. Nominated for multiple awards including the Eisner and the Ringo—and hailed as one of 2019’s “Best New Series” by Entertainment WeeklyBitter Root is currently in development as a film from producer Ryan Coogler and Legendary.

The new story arc of Bitter Root kicks off with issue #6 and will feature the work of new colorist Sofie Dodgson. The monster-fighting Sangerye family as they embark on another adventure coming from Image Comics this February with Bitter Root #6.

“We’ve put our hearts and souls into this new arc of Bitter Root,” said Walker. “Knowing that we had to top what’s already been done, and knowing that our readers deserve something exceptional.”

In Bitter Root #6, the monster-fighting Sangerye family returns for another adventure. Loved ones once thought lost forever have returned—though the bliss of this family reunion doesn’t last for long. Cullen has changed, and everyone is concerned. But they’ll need all the help they can get, as a new threat has arrived on Earth…

Brown added: “I channeled my darkside for this arc. Hell has come to Harlem and I love it. We’re taking our antagonists to a new level.”

The Bitter Root series takes place in the 1920s while the Harlem Renaissance is in full swing and follows the Sangerye Family. Once the greatest family of monster hunters in the world, the Sangeryes must move beyond the tragedies of the past, or be forced to sit back and watch an unimaginable evil ravage the human race.

“The anticipation of Bitter Root's return has been beyond exhilarating,” said Greene. “We can't wait for people to see where we are going with this story. I have never been more proud of a body of work.”

Bitter Root #6 is also available for purchase across many digital platforms, including the official Image Comics iOS app, Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, comiXology, and Google Play. Fans can also subscribe to receive the series delivered by mail within the domestic U.S. on Image Direct.

Bitter Root #6 Cover A by Greene (Diamond Code DEC190073) and Bitter Root #6Cover B by Chris Brunner [limited] (Diamond Code DEC190074) will hit stores on Wednesday, February 19. 

Select praise for Bitter Root:

“Incredibly entertaining.” —Entertainment Weekly

"Historical fiction mixes with supernatural horror, producing a hybrid fantasy world of voodoo spells, mad science, monster Klansmen, and Jazz Age demon hunters wielding steampunk versions of Ghostbusters proton packs... Comics fans will look forward to future volumes of this energetic dark fantasy that effectively mixes thrills and scares." —Publishers Weekly

"Relentless action...a kinetic style." —Library Journal

"The comic is by an all-black creative team and features a predominantly black cast of characters in the 1920s—embracing the black artistic creativity of the Harlem Renaissance but also recognizing the racism of the time." —The Washington Post

"The tragedy and family drama at the heart of Image Comics’ new series Bitter Rootmay be the most traditional thing about a comic that is, at heart, anything but traditional." —The Hollywood Reporter

“A comic with a clear message, it never feels overtly moralizing, but simply an education as stark and brutal as the rad-as-hell monster-fighting horror that plays out in as the family goes about its work.” —io9

"Puts a monstrous face on bigotry and a beautiful new spin on the Harlem Renaissance." —The Onion's AV Club

"Confident in itself and doesn't need to rely on overwrought high-concept themes. Bitter Root isn't afraid to tackle weighty issues while still having some fun, giving us some new heroes that are much needed in today's world." —ComicBook.com
ABOUT IMAGE COMICS
Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of bestselling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has six individuals on the Board of Directors: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri, Jim Valentino, and Eric Stephenson. It consists of five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline Comics, Skybound Entertainment, and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit
 www.imagecomics.com.
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