Posts Tagged ‘Action’

Aftershocks: Dark Carnival Pt. 1

October 3, 2020

Lydia, Nancy, and Rob were all lounging in the bunker. Lydia was elbow deep in a stack of books, lost in thought. Rob was on a laptop, scrolling through news sites constantly. Nancy was bored so she was playing on her phone and playing some music. Lydia had welcomed the music as she was good at multi-tasking. Rob, on the other hand, had complained. When he had been overruled, he put on some big headphones and grumbled a bit. The girls did not take it very seriously, Rob had long since given up on being a pint-sized authority and was now fully partnered with the two teen girls. They were really meshing as a team. The witch, the demon daughter, and the angel boy.

A vase on the table in front of Lydia started to shake, vibrate, and wobble. Lydia looked up casually but Rob got tense and threw off his headphones.

“What is that?!” Rob asked, shouting the question. He stood up.

“Calm down, Rob,” Lydia said. She reached for the vase. Nancy had already sat up and was hugging her knees. “It’s a little present from Dorothy that Sabrina left here. I finally got it to work.”

“Ah, a witch trick.” Rob asked, calming down now that he saw that the girls were not panicked. “What is it, though?”

“It’s a sort of trouble detector,” Lydia said, cradling the vase. “Dorothy called a Weather Vane, Sabrina calls it a Dark Detector. It tracks dangerous magic or magic used for dark purposes. It’s not a perfect system but it’s better than nothing.”

“It means our peacetime is over,” Nancy said softly. “We have to get back in the saddle.” She sounded so sad that Nancy patted her shoulder.

“Finally!” Rob said with a smile. “Does that Trouble Tracker have another step? I mean, it’s nice to know there’s trouble but it’s not very helpful.”

“Yes,” Lydia said and she reached into the vase and drew out some powder and tossed it toward a map of the city hanging on the wall. “Reveal!” she shouted. The powder stuck to the map in a wide pattern but slowly started to consolidate around the downtown area.

“What is it?” Nancy asked, staring at the point on the map.

“The magic doesn’t go that far,” Lydia said. “We have to actually get out and investigate. It could be anything.”

“It’s always demons,” Nancy said. “They’ve made it clear that they want me. He wants me.”

“It’s not going to happen, Nance,” Lydia said. “but it could be something subtle like Jack and Charles or something more blatant like West or Ley. We just have to find what does not belong.”

Rob was looking at his computer again. “News alerts have us covered,” he said. “It wasn’t there a few minutes ago but there’s a huge circus tent that went up at the fairgrounds. Ads have started to play online. We have a Dark Carnival situation.”

“What’s a Dark Carnival situation and is it what I am afraid it is?” Lydia asked.

“Yeah,” Rob said. “It’s kind of like an evil circus. They’re pretty common. Sometimes called a Circus of Fear. They always suck.”

“Why do they always suck?” Nancy asked, confused. “I like carnivals. I like circuses. How bad could they make it? What’s so bad about circuses?”

“Clowns, Nance,” Lydia said.

“I hate clowns,” Lydia and Rob said in unison before looking at each other.

“Clowns aren’t so bad,” Nancy said. “I think they’re funny.”

“I definitely don’t,” Rob said. “but that’s why they’re dangerous. Everybody thinks what they do is innocent fun until it’s too late. Clown ghosts, clown demons, clown monsters. All horrible.”

“Alright,” Nancy said. “I’m on board with hating on ghosts, demons, and monsters. What do we do?”

“We get ready for showtime,” Lydia said. “and then we bring down the curtain.”


“I want a progress report!” Killjoy yelled out. He was pacing inside of the trailer behind the main tent. He was his usual grumpy self, his hands itching to shed some human blood.

“Well, they sent us up here to Oyth but they weally wanted that Pennywise guy but he didn’t go to Hell,” Batty Boop said. “Pwetty dumb if you ask me.”

“No!” Killjoy yelled, shaking liking a maniac. “I mean what’s the progress of our plan?!”

“Plan good!” Punchy said.

Killjoy leaned against a table and looked into the mirror and shook his head and sighed. “Very descriptive, Punchy,” he said.

“Don’t take it poysonally, Punchy,” Batty said, patting the big man on the shoulder. “He’s just nervous because he hasn’t performed for such a big audience before.”

“I had a wildly popular web show!” Killjoy shouted.

“Did you, though?” Batty asked. “Did you really?”

Killjoy grunted. “Where’s Freakshow and our newest recruit?”

“Freakshow and Stitches aw putting the finishing touches on everything with all of the zombie clowns.” Batty said. “The plan is fine, baby. Relax. It’s not gonna go like the last time we had a mission from Hell.”

“You had to remind me of the one who got away!” Killjoy yelled.

“Punchy, will you go outside while I calm down our glowious leadew?” Batty asked with a smile.

Punchy left the trailer and kept moving when he started hearing the most hideous of noises. He wondered when he would get to start tearing teens apart again. As long as dragged that girl back with them, they could do whatever they wanted.

Media Update 9/13/18

September 13, 2018


Countdown

On a whim, I decided to watch this movie over Labor Day Weekend because it was the weekend of All-In and Dolph Ziggler is big on Raw again. For those who don’t know, “Dolph Ziggler” is the stage name of Nick Nemeth. He has been part of the World Wrestling Entertainment machine for at least a decade now. I knew that he had done some stand up comedy on the side so I wanted to see what his acting was like away from the ring. Turns out it is actually pretty good. The movie is about a rogue cop (Nemeth) who is about to be fired for being a loose cannon cop when he is drawn into an extortion plot involving a kid strapped with explosives. So this time it’s personal. Literally. He is in a race to find the boy and save him from the explosives all the while being opposed by his fellow cops and Russian criminals. Along the way, there is an action sequence and chase sequence in the backstage of a WWE show so we get great cameos from stars like The New Day, The Usos, Brock Lesnar, and Rusev. Also, the police captain is played by new Mayor of Knox County Glenn Jacobs (aka Kane) who is imposing but not the greatest actor. Oh well. Ziggler is joined by Katharine Isabelle, a tough internal affairs cop who is forced to tag along in order to save the kid. The movie is actually pretty tense and, although it is cheesy, it was a lot of fun to watch. Give it a shot and just relax and watch it.


Brick Mansions

I have previously expressed how much I like Luc Besson movies both as a writer and a director. Even his worst movies are more entertaining than most movies and he is really good at building strange and exciting worlds. This one is based on one of his earliest movies (which I have not seen) but it really captured my imagination. It has probably the most likely and believable future world that I have ever seen. The setting is called Brick Mansions, an area of Detroit that was built for newly rich citizens. However, a financial collapse happened and the area was abandoned and taken over by squatters and criminals. Eventually, Detroit just walled that neighborhood in and no longer provided it with law enforcement or emergency services. The movie is basically just a buddy cop film between Paul Walker and David Belle and an excuse to watch them engage in gunplay and parkour. In fact, David Belle’s parkour is both a plot point and a running joke. They are up against a gangster played by the RZA at his most charming. What I liked most is that everybody’s motivations in the movie make sense and they all make believable choices. It is a fun throwaway action film with a pleasant plot and I definitely recommend it.


Hitman

I never played any of the Hitman games so I am not really aware of how much plot they contain. In the movie, Timothy Oliphant plays a member of an elite group of assassins who are raised from childhood to be the best at combat. I have a few issues with the aesthetics of these “master assassins” who are all bald and have barcodes tattooed onto the back of their heads but I guess I need to take that up with the video game franchise. They did the best they could with this movie and it shows. I was prepared to just enjoy the action and hate everything else but I was wrong. One of the best decisions is how they modeled the movie on the style of Luc Besson. I definitely got some Leon vibes from the movie in the best ways. Also, casting Timothy Oliphant was a great choice as he has natural charisma that shows even when he is trying to be emotionless. Olga Kurylenko is a relative innocent whose lively demeanor draws more emotion out of Oliphant. Dougray Scott plays an Interpol agent who has been pursuing Oliphant for years and is a fun plot element. Robert Knepper plays a villainous agent who is also chasing Oliphant. It is a fun romp that is basically just an excuse for awesome gunfights and martial arts combat. I also recommend it.

Weekly Music:

Jay Rock – Win

Slipknot – Sulfur

Bebe Rexha – I’m A Mess

Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin – I Like It

Air – La Femme D’Argent

 

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is “Deadly Pairs”
– I started watching Once Upon a Time Season 7
– I kept watching The Good Place Season 2
– I watched more Glitter Force Doki Doki Season 2
– I watched more Disenchantment Season 1
– I went back and watched some Charmed episodes I had missed
– I watched more Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 1

Media Update 3/30/17

March 30, 2017


Akira

This movie is the legendary anime film that is pretty much solely responsible for anime reaching the mainstream culture in the United States. The movie was record-breaking in many ways. The two main ones were that it used more drawings and more colors than any previous animated film. Because much of it took place at night or in the dark, a larger and more complicated color palette was needed. Also, it merged action and science fiction in some ways that had not been seen as much in popular culture at the time but are very prevalent now. The movie itself is extremely compelling. It is the story of friendship, giving somebody more power than they can handle, evolution and the results of science reaching too far. It mostly follows two members of a biker gang in post-apocalyptic Japan. One of them gains immense psychic powers and their story spirals out of control, involving other super-powered beings, rebel forces and the government. It has really beautiful animation which obviously influenced most of what came after it. It also very clearly creates a world where there are not really any good guys but everybody is still very sympathetic. The story is also extremely interesting and it had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing at almost every moment. I definitely recommend it to the three anime fans who have not seen it yet.


Glitter Force

I saw this pop up as a “Netflix Original” a long while ago and I laughed and put it on my list to check out at some point. I mentioned before how much I love Magical Girl shows and if nothing else it would be fun to watch the first episode or two. I decided to watch it this week because it fit the week’s theme. However, I almost turned away when I saw the tag “Ages 2 to 6”. Then I googled the show and found a really bitter change.org petition to remove the show from Netflix. I had to watch it now. I am really glad I did. The show is a comedy action magical girl show. It is constructed very similarly to Sailor Moon with five young girls drawing on important values and magical powers to save the day. The comedy is sometimes wacky and sometimes actually pretty dry and, dare I say it, sophisticated. The action is a little formulaic but so is every other anime of its kind. The construction of the girls’ powers is mostly based on their personalities and their hobbies. At the same time, it may be the girliest thing that I have ever watched and that is coming from somebody who has seen multiple seasons of My Little Pony and half a season of Jem. They definitely lean into that and it ends up really working. I can see similarities to Sailor Moon and Madoka Magica but there are definitely some things they make their own. Particularly, all of the main villains are based on villains from fairy tales. I definitely recommend it but I understand if you do not.


One Punch Man

The Game Grumps have been hyping this show for ages now since it showed up on Crunchyroll. Now that it showed up on Netflix, it was time for me to check it out. The show is a anime superhero parody set in a fictional post-apocalyptic supercontinent. The ‘hero’ is a guy named Saitama who is so powerful that he kills every villain he opposes with one punch. The ease of his crimefighting has made him really bored with his life since the thrill of battle was something he really longed for. While the world goes crazy around him, he is very low key and nonchalant while everybody else is taking things way too seriously. The animation is really cool as we see opponents with ridiculously strong powers face off against each other. A lot of it is played for laughs even though there is plenty of gore either visually or through implication. I wish I liked this show more. The action is actually kind of similar to shows like Seven Deadly Sins but without the emotional stakes. All of the action is kind of boring when everybody is kind of a jerk and there is nobody to really root for. I do not think I will be continuing on with this one because I have shows that I actually really want to watch.

Music of the Week:
Teruko Akatsuki – Tokyo Shoe Shine Boy

Buckcherry – Lit Up

Chet Faker – Gold

Royal Blood – Out Of The Black

Babymetal – Megitsune

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is Animated Action
– I am almost done Blue Bloods Season 4
– I watched more Lucha Underground Season 1
– I am almost finished watching Haven
– I watched a lot more Iron Fist and it’s still good
– Getting ready for Wrestlemania weekend
– Working on the April A to Z Blogging Challenge
– Happy Media Update 100!

Night Watch (2004)

October 31, 2016

The Other can be a frightening concept. As I have discussed before, The Other is anything that is not us. In this movie, “The Other” is anything beyond our normal natural world. This is even more frightening because it comes from a world of secrets and the unknown. Generally, ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds violence and hate. Not knowing what was out in the darkness and why bad things happened gave birth to folktales and religion. Both have their bogeymen who we are told we should fear and perform rituals to protect ourselves from what goes bump in the night. We also are told often to embrace a duality and are told that picking a side will protect us and empower us. However, in the old tales often neither side was really the good guys. If you look at most material covering faeries, both courts are to be marveled at but also feared. Looking at things as Light and Dark without seeing the Gray is dangerous. However, the great thing about fiction is that they can often simplify things so that evil is evil and good is good.

I have been thinking about what makes a monster in these tales of supernatural horror. Do we do bad things because we are a monster or are we a monster because we do bad things? Freddy Krueger was a horrible human being even before he became a dream demon. However, in the Buffyverse, the very act of becoming a vampire removes the soul and usually turns a person evil. Our justice system says that we are innocent until proven guilty. Religion says that it is our actions that define us and not our thoughts. So if you are a vampire who refuses to feed on humans, are you a monster? I think not. However, just watching and experiencing the misdeeds of others can be enough to darken the soul. Police officers and military are often as irreparably changed as gang members and other violent criminals. Hunting vampires can be almost as troubling as being one.

We have yet another foreign horror movie which makes it the sixth of sixteen reviews this year. This one is Russian and might just be the first pure Russian movie I have watched outside of a certain Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode. Yet again, this means that I have no preconceived notions about any of the actors in this movie. The movie stars Konstantin Khabensky as Anton, a man who basically tracks monster criminals on behalf of the Light side. I like how Anton is not perfect and his journey on behalf of the Light is plagued by the temptation of evil. He is a great example of the reluctant hero. I like to think that even when pressed, we are all the reluctant hero. Nobody gets supernatural abilities and suddenly leaps up excited to risk their life. Anton and everybody he meets is  hardened by life outside the norm where things are more dangerous.

I really liked the visuals in this movie. Everything is bleak from the very beginning of the movie. The world is full of shadows and muted colors and light is almost a godsend. Even in sunlight, everything is just dark and dangerous looking. It makes light and splashes of color a very welcome contrast. I really love the digital effects of the supernatural world. I especially loved how various vampiric powers and abilities are depicted. For example, vampiric vision makes everything but the veins of a human body invisible, making it easier to feed. There is also some great drawn animation which makes some of the exposition easier to get through. The editing is smooth and keeps the movie clipping along at a pretty good pace. The action is easy to understand and the subtitles made the Russian language clear.

Overall this is a pretty good horror adventure movie. The depiction of the supernatural world just beyond our natural one is one of the most interesting examples I have seen in pop culture. The movie was the top grossing film in Russian history when it was released but the record has since been topped. It is also one of the first Russian blockbusters after the fall of Soviet cinema and is therefore automatically a success. The movie has some great ideas but I would say its only sin is that it is too long. It incorporates two plots that do not ever fully connect. However, I feel like the world building and character work mostly make up for this. I would recommend watching this movie because it is so different in how it depicts the creepier side of things.


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