Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Shock Wave 2 (2021)


Director: Herman Yau

Notable Cast: Andy Lau, Sean Lau, Ni Ni, Philip Keung

 

After the first Shock Wave blew me away (I apologize) with its blend of tension, thrills, and weirdly effective emotional weight, waiting for sequel, Shock Wave 2, to finally receive a release in the United States was a bit of torture, a burning fuse that just kept burning and never reaching its end (I apologize again). After being released in 2020 to some decent box office numbers and word of mouth in China, the lack of interest in releasing the internationally well-regarded sequel - with significant star power behind and in front of the camera - didn’t bode well for its quality. Was Shock Wave 2 just aftershocks to the big shock of its predecessor? I won’t apologize for that joke. Nope. 

 

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Eternals (2021)


Director: Chloe Zhao

Notable Cast: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Ma Dong-seok, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Bill Skarsgard, Harish Patel

 

Disney and Marvel have always been very particular with how they expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The introduction of mysticism was in a wholly generic and formulaic origin film with Doctor Strange, the leap with Thor into the cosmos happens mostly on Earth, and the introduction of the multi-verse took two entire Avengers films to pull off. The latter is a choice that will now seemingly dominate the entirety of the franchise for the foreseeable future and allow for MCU to exist until mankind burns to the ground.

 

For Eternals, a full-on expansion of the MCU into epic cosmos insanity, Marvel and Academy Award-winning director Chloe Zhao attempt to ride that fine balance once again by introducing an entire new squad of Space Avengers. They are not the Guardians, for the record, but they do ask the hard questions to each other like “who will lead the Avengers now?” to make sure we don’t forget the film is part of the franchise, I guess. These Eternals have been patiently waiting on Earth to receive the call from Space Dad, a six-eyed stone-looking red space god named Arishem, to go back home. Naturally, not all is what it seems and the Eternals’ natural enemy, animal-like bundles of tendrils named Deviants, arise on Earth once more as a pending disaster looms on the horizon. 

 

The Emperor's Sword (2021)


Director: Yingli Zhang, Haonan Chen

Notable Cast: Fengbin Mu, Yilin Hao, Qihang Zhao, Qiyu Yang

 

The pandemic changed a lot of things in the film industry. At this point, discussion about the box office and the explosive expansion of streaming services are well-known discussion topics. To be fully honest, I’m a bit tired of talking about the birth of streaming, the death of ‘cinema’, and whether or not films that are released straight to a streaming service count as TV movies or Movie movies. I can only get into so many fights on social media before it ceases to be interesting. Let’s not forget though, that this change is happening all over the world. 

 

Case in point, The Emperor’s Sword was released to the Chinese streaming service Youku was picked up for distribution in the US via Well Go USA where it received its premiere on their streaming services, Hi Yah, before receiving a full-fledged Blu Ray release. It’s not the first film of this ilk to receive this kind of treatment and, yes, there is a cheaper look to the film and budgetary restraints that tend to limit the film’s tonality and approach, but The Emperor’s Sword is a much better film than expected. Perhaps I was just craving a newer wuxia film that doesn’t bombard its audience with bullshit CGI monsters and wanna-be Hollywood blockbuster spectacle, but there is a simplicity and classic tone to the core of this flick that hit me just right. 

 

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Yokai Monsters Collection: Along with Ghosts (1969)

After unleashing the Daimajin on collectors with their three-film box set only a handful of months ago, Arrow Video continues their Daiei run with the Yokai Monsters Collection. Complete with the original three film run of the Yokai Monster trilogy and auteur director Takashi Miike’s love letter to those films, this collection brings together four films that were not regularly available (if at all) to Western audiences. Whether you’re a fan of supernatural monster flicks, strange genre-bending slices of cinema, or Japanese film history, it’s hard to go wrong with this boxset as a collector.

 

The mileage that one gets from the films included in Yokai Monsters depends on their ability to roll with the shifting genres and a sense of artifice within their stories. This review covers the third film in the series, Along with Ghosts, but stay tuned for more reviews for the rest of the series. 

 


ALONG WITH GHOSTS
(1969)

Directors: Kimiyoshi Yasuda, Yoshiyuki Kuroda

Notable Cast: Pepe Hozumi, Masami Burukido, Toura Sakiichi, Yoshito Yamaji, Bokuzen Hidari, Kojiro Hongo

 

After bouncing through the second film of the series, Spook Warfare, with all of its comedic elements and humorous and heartfelt yokai monster chemistry, the third film Along with Ghosts causes some significant whiplash. While all three films lean into the period set horror-tinged supernatural basics, this third and last (of this original run) of the series finds itself as the most cohesive and cinematically sound in its storytelling. It may not feature nearly as many yokai as the previous entry - or, quite honestly, as the first film, but it makes up for it by being a better film. 

 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Last Night in Soho (2021)


Director: Edgar Wright

Notable Cast: Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, Michael Ajao, Terence Stamp

 

At this point, I'm feeling a bit out of the loop. I adored Edgar Wright as a director in decades previous, but his last two films - including Baby Driver and Last Night in Soho, have left me oddly cold. I think it’s because I feel like Wright has started to write his scripts to match visuals versus crafting visuals to fit the depths of the script. It's a small and nuanced change in approach, but one that I feel undercuts many of the interesting elements in his latest film, Last Night in Soho

 

With his love letter to giallo and the murder mysteries of the 1960s (some serious Mario Bava vibes here which is always a plus), Last Night in Soho is a gorgeous piece of cinema, and its direction and editing are impressive. The use of dream-like flow and fading with the narrative is artfully done. If anything, Wright is definitely soaring with his visual pops, use of mirror tricks, and creating that sense of "parallel" timelines that evokes a sense of fantasy that slowly seeps into nightmares. 

 

Monday, November 1, 2021

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin (2021)


Director: William Eubank

Notable Cast: Emily Bader, Roland Buck III, Dan Lippert, Henry Ayres-Brown, Tom Nowicki, Colin Keane, Jill St. John, Alexa Shae Niziak

 

Paranormal Activity is back. It’s a franchise that has always held a special place for me that was fascinatingly created almost completely in retroactive continuity between entries. In fact, just this October the Blood Brothers cousin podcast, No Franchise Fatigue, spent three entire episodes digging through the films of the series. You can listen to those episodes at the following links: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3. Nonetheless, it’s a series that is far more interesting as a whole than people usually give it credit for even when the quality of individual films waivers immensely. 

 

However, after an unmemorable and misguided “finale” to the Katie and Kristi Meet Tobi the Demon saga of the first six entries, Paranormal Activity was in desperate need of an injection of life. After six years, the seventh entry, under the title Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin, has been uploaded to the streaming service Paramount+ for our enjoyment. The latest entry represents an interesting shift in style and an entirely new story as a reboot of the series. It’s ultimately a mixed effort, but it does showcase the potential of the future for the long-running series. 

 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Medium (2021)


Director: Banjong Pisanthanakun

Notable Cast: Sawanee Utoomma, Narilya Gulmongkolpech, Sirani Yankittikan, Yasaka Chaisorn, Boonsong Nakphoo, Arunee Wattana, Thanutphon Boonsang, Akkaradech Rattanawong

 

After spending a large portion of this October revisiting classic found-footage horror films and series for the Blood Brothers cousin podcast, No Franchise Fatigue, it seemed like a coincidence that Shudder’s latest exclusive film, The Medium, would utilize the format. The 00s and early 2010s trend of found footage horror is hardly dead, but it certainly has taken a step back as dramatic arthouse horror and slashers have started to make strong comebacks to dominate the genre lately. 

 

Despite its generic title, The Medium not only understands how to maximize the striking power of the found footage style, but its pacing, balance, and grounded execution make it one of the most terrifying films of the year. It’s a film that works on the surface as a slow-burning story of possession but also manages to embed a thematic religious layering that deepens the experience in some fascinating ways. Not only is it one of the best of the year, but The Medium may also just be one of the best found-footage horror films in the history of the genre. 

 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Legend (1985)


Director: Ridley Scott

Notable Cast: Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert, Peter O’Farrell, Kiran Shah, Annabelle Lanyon, Robert Picardo

 

It’s no secret that Ridley Scott is one of the most prolific directors still working. At the age of 83, the man is releasing two films in the final quarter of 2021 (The Last Duel and House of Gucci for those wondering) and his career is just as diverse in subject matter as the gap between those two films. However, while his directorial trajectory over the decades has had its roller coaster moments of quality, his early work is essential viewing. Genre fans, in particular, owe a great deal to the semi-auteur director.  Whether it’s Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, or Gladiator, Scott has produced films that have a significant legacy to them. 

 

Of course, then there’s Legend

 

Scott’s 1985 fantasy opus, starring an up-and-coming who’s who of young talent and featuring a truly ethereal sense of whimsy, darkness, and adventure, was actively met with disdain or apathy at the time of its release. It was often compared by critics and audiences to his previous film, Blade Runner, as a film lost in technicality and missing real characters or plots. Keep in mind that the mentioned science fiction epic was also met with disdain and/or apathy on its release. Yet, just like that film, Legend has garnered a vivacious cult fan base since then for all of the same reasons it was dismissed. Enough so that Arrow Video has deemed it worthy of a luscious new 4K restoration and collector’s edition package. 

 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Yokai Monsters Collection: Spook Warfare (1968)


After unleashing the Daimajin on collectors with their three-film box set only a handful of months ago, Arrow Video continue their Daiei run with the Yokai Monsters Collection. Complete with the original three film run of the Yokai Monster trilogy and auteur director Takashi Miike’s love letter to those films, this collection brings together four films that were not regularly available (if at all) to Western audiences. Whether you’re a fan of supernatural monster flicks, strange genre-bending slices of cinema, or Japanese film history, it’s hard to go wrong with this boxset as a collector.

 

The mileage that one gets from the films included in Yokai Monsters depends on their ability to roll with the shifting genres and a sense of artifice within their stories. This review covers the second film in the series, Spook Warfare, but stay tuned for more reviews for the rest of the series. 

 


SPOOK WARFARE (1968) 

Director: Yoshiyuki Kuroda

Notable Cast: Yoshihiko Aoyama, Akane Kawasaki, Takashi Kanda, Hideki Hanamura, Chikara Hashimoto, Hiromi Inoue, Mari Kanda, Gen Kimura

 

Although the first film in the Yokai Monsters series, 100 Monsters, told its story in full, that has never stopped a franchise from kicking forward. The first sequel, Spook Warfare, aims to take the same basic concept, people who accidentally unleash some classic mythological Japanese spirit monsters, and gives it a tonal and structural overhaul. The results are fascinatingly more entertaining as a whole and it easily fulfills the promises made with the title. 

 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning (2021)


Director: Keishi Otomo

Notable Cast: Takeru Satoh, Kasumi Arimura, Issey Takahashi, Nijiro Murakami, Masanobu Ando, Kazuki Kitamura, Yosuke Eguchi, Towa Araki, Shima Onishi, Takahiro Fujimoto

 

With the fifth and (possibly) final installment of the Japanese box office juggernaut series, Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning might be one of the boldest ways to cap off a franchise. After the successful trilogy run previously, the series came back with what constitutes a two-part finale. The first portion of that, Rurouni Kenshin: The Final, was only released a handful of months prior to this one and acts as a final stamp on the series. It gives the red-haired wandering swordsman his peace to cap off a rather remarkable character arc that covered four films and featured some of the best action set pieces of the series, a bombastic set of spectacle-driven moments, and all of the characters that fans loved. It was the feather in the cap of one of action cinema’s most balanced and effective franchises. 

 

In the fourth film though, there are flashbacks to an origin for the titular character, Kenshin, that are the core for this prequel. Hence the title, Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning. Just in case there may be those who are new to the series or simply want to know just how upfront the filmmakers wanted to be with this entry. Yes, this fifth entry is a prequel to the entire series and, no, it does not suffer at all from the narrative setbacks and leaps of logic that plague so many prequels. 

 

To be frank, The Beginning might be the most daring in its tone, atmosphere, and artistic merits of the series. It’s an almost fully different experience than the others, cinematically speaking, and yet is the perfect lead-in for the story, character, and narrative build for all of the rest. It’s incredibly well-executed and ranks up there as one of the best. 

 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Halloween Kills (2021)


Director: David Gordon Green

Notable Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle, Will Patton, Thomas Mann, Dylan Arnold, Robert Longstreet, Anthony Michael Hall, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards

 

The revitalization of the Halloween franchise with 2018’s self-titled sequel, one that ignores every other film post the 1978 originator, is one for the history books. It reset the already over-complicated franchise to go back to the roots but it still managed to progress the lore forward in its own ways and inject a bit of social commentary that hit a lot of the right buttons. Its massive success in the box office and a strong love from the overall horror community made it ripe for reigniting one of the archetypal slasher franchises. It wasn’t a shock that Blumhouse was quick to capitalize on its success by announcing a sequel. 

 

However, it was tempting fate that they would announce two sequels to cap off the trilogy...a trilogy of four films, for the record, if you count the 1978 original. Still, it was hard not to get expectations up considering the strength of Halloween (2018), and a title like Halloween Kills does sound pretty legit and stroked the excitement of my inner teenager. 

 

With a half-melted ghostly mask in tow, Michael Myers once again stalks the silver screen with Halloween Kills and returning director David Gordon Green (along with some returning writers a slew of other filmmakers) aim to jack up the body count and set up a finale with the upcoming Halloween Ends that will bring his portion of the franchise to an end. The results are, in a fitting twist, incredibly problematic in their ambitions. 

 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Yokai Monsters Collection: 100 Monsters (1968)


After unleashing the Daimajin on collectors with their three-film box set only a handful of months ago, Arrow Video continue their Daiei run with the Yokai Monsters Collection. Complete with the original three film run of the Yokai Monster trilogy and auteur director Takashi Miike’s love letter to those films, this collection brings together four films that were not regularly available (if at all) to Western audiences. Whether you’re a fan of supernatural monster flicks, strange genre-bending slices of cinema, or Japanese film history, it’s hard to go wrong with this boxset as a collector.

 

The mileage that one gets from the films included in Yokai Monsters depends on their ability to roll with the shifting genres and a sense of artifice within their stories. This review covers the first film in the series, 100 Monsters, but stay tuned for more reviews for the rest of the series. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

V/H/S/94 (2021)


Directors: Jennifer Reeder, Chloe Okuno, Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Ryan Prows

 

Another Halloween and another horror anthology film. One might read that sentence as a bad thing, but - hey - I’m all in on this trend. Particularly when it’s a revival of the impressive V/H/S series that were rocking the rails on two different horror cinema trends. The fourth film in the series, V/H/S/94, is a hell of a return to form after the forgettable misfire of the third film, V/H/S Viral. It’s a fun horror mixture of stories and approaches, it features some fun new reasons for people to be recording their stories, and there is a ton of new talent in executing those stories. For fans of either anthologies or found-footage horror, V/H/S/94 represents some of the best of both and kicks off the October spooky season nicely. 

 

Monday, October 4, 2021

No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast - Extended Cuts on Patreon!


If you love what we do here at Blood Brothers and if you have already checked out our podcast cousin, The No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast, then can we recommend checking out our latest adventure over on Patreon!

The No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast goes further with Extended Cuts, where Blood Brothers writers Matt Reifschneider and Sean Caylor tackle film commentaries and add bonus episodes for the podcast for our Franchisee fans.


Click the link below to join now! We'll see you at at the next sequel!

https://www.patreon.com/nffpodcast 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast: The Ones That Mother Gives You Don't Do Anything At All [The Matrix Franchise Part II]


No Franchise Fatigue co-hosts Sean and Matt get RELOADED for the REVOLUTIONS of our discussion on The Matrix franchise. That's right, they are talking about the "end" of one of the biggest trilogies in modern cinema. Do the guys of NFF disagree on the films? Do they suggest you take the Red Pill or the Blue Pill? 


So join them as they chat about damn near everything under the sun including incredible car chases, machines who overthink drilling, how Colin Chou loads a gun, and whether or not floaty fights are real fights. 


Also, Sean declares war on Neill Blomkamp. Kind of.




Credits:
Hosted by Matt Reifschneider and Sean Caylor

Produced by Matt Reifschneider and Sean Caylor
Edited by Sean Caylor

bloodbrothersfilms.com

Reach us at:

nffpod.sean@gmail.com

facebook.com/nofranchisefatigue

twitter.com/nffpod

Thank you for listening.

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Boy Behind the Door (2021)


Directors: David Charbonier, Justin Powell

Notable Cast: Lonnie Chavis, Ezra Dewey, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Micah Hauptman

 

As a father, nothing is more terrifying than all of the horror that can happen to my children. As vigilant as I may be in security, safety, and instilling common sense into my children, there is always the possibility that something truly terrible could happen regardless of my effort or my children's diligence. The Boy Behind the Door is a realization of these greatest fears, as two twelve-year-old boys, Bobby (Lonnie Chavis, This is Us, Magic Camp) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey, Criminal Minds, Teachers) are abducted for nefarious purposes somewhere in rural (redundant) South Dakota. The ensuing game of cat and mouse is a terrifying testament to the dangers that children face in today's world, as well as their resilience in the face of seemingly comprehensive danger.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

No Franchise Fatigue Movie Podcast: Through the Looking Glass [The Matrix Franchise Part I]


Get jacked in, franchisees! NFF Agents Mr. Caylor and Mr. Reifschneider hack their back after hiatus to talk about one of the most influential franchises of all time, The Matrix! 

Part I of the two-part episode covers 1999's The Matrix and 2003's spin-off The Animatrix and we take a digital deep dive into why The Matrix works as a remix, who the real hero of the Matrix is, and how there needs to be anime anthologies for a lot more franchises. 

So get logged in, follow the white rabbit, and bend physics with the NFF team.






Credits:
Hosted by Matt Reifschneider and Sean Caylor

Produced by Matt Reifschneider and Sean Caylor
Edited by Sean Caylor

bloodbrothersfilms.com

Reach us at:

nffpod.sean@gmail.com 

facebook.com/nofranchisefatigue

twitter.com/nffpod

Thank you for listening.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Malignant (2021)


Director: James Wan

Notable Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, Jake Abel, Ray Chase

 

There’s intriguing divisiveness that exists around James Wan and the popularity he has achieved with his films. The divisiveness that, in all honesty, I am not sure I fully understand. Perhaps it's one of those situations where individuals feel attacked because a non-mainstream genre has suddenly had some crossover into mainstream territory and that’s offensive to them. My love for the director, writer, and producer has certainly earned me some ill will from very boisterous negative commentators, but quite frankly, I find his style of modernizing classic genres and giving them his own auteur twist is fun and refreshing. 

 

After dropping one of the biggest box office hits ever (edit: I just looked it up - yes, it currently resides in the top 25 globally) in Aquaman, Wan - in all of his audacity - took his massive blank check and used it on Malignant. Granted, Wan has always been one to go back to his mid-budget horror films in between larger projects as a director. Not to mention, he always keeps one foot in the door as a producer to shepherd in new talent under his guidance, but Malignant is next level. Not only does this film deliver on the usual Wan elements - atmosphere, supernatural aspects, and sharp visuals, but its absurd blending of genres, mixed with a hyperkinetic build in its pacing, and a blisteringly outlandish third act make it one of the most potent “instant cult classic” films I’ve ever had the chance to see. Malignant is brash in its love letter to the past but also brings such strange energy to the fold that it slices n’ dices its way to being one of the best of the year. 

 

Copshop (2021)


Director: Joe Carnahan

Notable Cast: Alexis Louder, Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo, Toby Huss, Ryan O’Nan

 

Joe Carnahan has had a prolific career in stylish action flicks. Whether it was his debut film Smokin’ Aces or his other film in 2021 Boss Level, Carnahan is a fairly safe bet when it comes to entertaining action films loaded with interesting choices. His latest, Copshop, follows very closely in those steps and maybe, just maybe, perfects it. Built on the foundations of using 1970s cop thrillers as its basis, but also as some stylistic choices, Copshop is a romp and a half. It’s littered with broad stroke characters painted with bullets and quick banter, a slow-burn build to set the chessboard, and some fantastic performances. It’s a smartly written mid-tier action thriller with some scene devouring casting that ought to curb the craving for most genre fans. Copshop, like so many of Carnahan’s films, is already a cult classic. 

 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Vengeance Trails (2021) Part I: [Massacre Time (1966) / My Name Is Pecos (1966)]


Although most of the films included have been released previously, it’s hard not to be extremely excited for Arrow Video’s recent release of Vengeance Trails. This four-film box set includes a fantastic set of films for any western aficionado from some of the biggest directors and stars of the time period. The new high-definition restorations are gorgeous, the extras are solid as expected, and the packaging is a delight to have on a collector’s shelf. This review is meant to cover the films included in the set - although any previous coverage we have run at Blood Brothers will be linked below, but if you’re a fan of those classic Italian gritty westerns, it’s hard not to recommend Vengeance Trails upfront. 

 

For more information about the set, please see the details following the film reviews below.