Film Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Penelope Cruz and Willem Dafoe
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 114 minutes
20th Century Fox

One of the most impressive ensemble casts of the year seems lost in sweeping CGI landscapes and overstuffed set pieces. “Murder on the Orient Express” is geared more towards technical film geeks who enjoy richness in their production design, more than they do in the script or the acting. I only say that because “Murder on the Orient Express” is awfully pretty to look at, but there isn’t much behind the lens.

Through happenstance, world-renowned detective Hercule Poirpot (Branagh) has found himself on the Orient Express. The luxury train connects Istanbul to the rest of Europe, which means the train is filled with socialites heading back to the Western World. The hodgepodge of characters seems at odds during casual dinner and indifferent during coffee, but there’s a singular thing that connects them all. It’s something Detective Poirpot will have to uncover after a passenger is found murdered in his cabin.

Murder mysteries are usually good, if not Oscar bait this time of year. However, “Murder on the Orient Express” is neither. While I haven’t read Agathe Christie’s work or seen the previous adaptations of her work, I can still confidently say that this isn’t on par with its predecessors or source material. I can surmise this because of how ambitious it looks, but the story never matches that visual gusto.

Johnny Depp plays the murder victim, but he’s not painted as a victim. We’re told he’s a scumbag, but we never feel like he’s one, despite the overwhelming evidence. The others on the train are played by the likes of A-listers, like Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, and Michelle Pfeiffer, while up and comers, like Josh Gad, Daisy Ridley and Leslie Odom Jr. round out the cluster. The ensemble is too overwhelming, visually and narratively, with the film struggling to divvy up enough even time for the audience, and Poirpot, to question the lengthy list of suspects.

For those unsure of how this film will play out, like me, it’s slightly interesting in some spots to watch Poirpot work out the tangled web surrounding the murder. For those who love a good whodunit, you may not be disappointed, except for how the end and reveal is executed. “Murder on the Orient Express” is a classic in the literary sense, but this 21st century retelling offers nothing new.

Fun Halloween Infographic about the movie/musical “Little Shop of Horrors”

The 1986 Rock Opera Little Shop of Horrors may seem like a light hearted musical from the outside, but let’s be honest, the thought of an oversized plant surviving exclusively on human bodies is actually pretty terrifying. The team over at Discount Supplements put together this awesome infographic to show you exactly what Audrey II needs to be fed to keep her from surviving on, well, people.

Amazon Prime ‘Activates’ The Tick and Lore at NYCC

Fans looking to escape the crowded New York Comic Con show floor this past weekend were taken care of by a pair of immersive ‘activations’ presented by Amazon Prime. On site at the Jacob Javits Center, the streaming service introduced two of its newest series, The Tick and Lore, in style. I was fortunate enough to spend time exploring both experiences with some friends over the course of the con weekend and needless to say, they got me hyped to check out the shows.

My first stop was The Tick’s massive Dangerboat installation on the upper level of the con. Dangerboat is not just the headquarters to the Tick’s nemesis, Overkill, but also has a sentient artificial intelligence all its own (on the show he’s played by geek icon Alan Tudyk). In keeping with that, NYCC’s Dangerboat was also talking and fully sentient and began immediately interacting with my crew when we boarded.

Both of Amazon’s experiences were connected to an RFID wrist tag that we registered before entering. In Dangerboat the tag was used to print out our custom Aegis database ID as well as getting our own tin of FO HAM. Thankfully the tin actually contained “NEAT!” Tick pins and not canned meat. Dangerboat concluded with a fun green screen video op that with yet another swipe of wrist tags was emailed or posted wherever we chose. All told, Dangerboat took my group about a half hour to fully interact with due to the level of options on the various screens, not to mention the funny rapport we developed with a sentient boat(!) which was pretty incredible as far as con setups go. Whomever was the mind behind Dangerboat certainly captured the humor and spirit of the show itself and provided some of the best laughs of the weekend.

About The Prime Exclusive Series, The Tick:
“Bursting with scabrous original storylines that turn on a dime, The Tick is a comedy with kinetic action, a wryly inventive visual style and crisply quotable dialogue. Heroes have flown among us for decades but mild-mannered accountant Arthur Everest (GRIFFIN NEWMAN) one day finds out there are also genuine bad guys in this new Amazon Original Series. He believes he has proof that The City, where he was born and raised, is actually controlled by a global super-villain known as the Terror (JACKIE EARLE HALEY). Destiny soon brings Arthur together with an eccentric, tall, blue-suited muscleman with a mysterious past and list of superpowers: The Tick (PETER SERAFINOWICZ). The title character serves as both the conscience and the unchecked id of the story. Citing the call of destiny, the Tick procures for Arthur a moth outfit with retractable wings and insists that he suit up as his sidekick. He and Arthur are the ultimate odd couple, but may just bring out the best in each other. In their quest to take back The City, the unlikely pair of heroes quickly sees just how complex the struggle between good and evil has become.”
The Tick returns to Amazon on February 23rd 2018

Descending down a level into the Museum of Lore was yet another unique RFID experience and definitely welcome this Halloween month. Based on the hit podcast, Lore sets out to retell the true life macabre stories that inspire some of horror’s most notorious tropes. In a series of interactive rooms, my group tromped through haunted dolls, magical mirrors and werewolves as presented by a trio of delightfully over the top actors. Utilizing our RFID bands, we were rewarded with messages from The Other Side and a cool photo souvenir over a pretty twisted werewolf buffet….

About The Prime Exclusive Series, Lore:
“Sometimes the scariest stories are true. Lore is based on the global, award-winning podcast sensation from creator Aaron Mahnke, and executive produced by Ben Silverman (The Office), Howard T. Owens (The Biggest Loser), Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead), Brett-Patrick Jenkins (Face Off), Glen Morgan (X-Files), Jon Halperin and Mark Mannucci (A Year in Space). Lore brings the podcast to life and tells the real life origin stories that have led to our modern day myths and legends, including vampires, changelings, werewolves, séances and possessed dolls.”
Lore is fittingly debuting on Friday October 13th.

 

 

Film Review: “Kingsman: The Golden Circle”

Starring: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth and Julianne Moore
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Rated: R
Running Time: 141 minutes
20th Century Fox

As if emboldened by an impressive box office receipt and growing fanfare, studio executives clearly handed over a blank check and unrestrained creative control to Matthew Vaughn. For better or for worse, his second time around with the “Kingsman” franchise has him embellishing every little detail to the point of nausea. Like some of James Bond’s sillier outings (“A View to a Kill” and “Die Another Day”), “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is pure insanity as we’re rushed through another absurd outing with Britain’s super-secret intelligence organization.

Within the first five minutes, the movie drips in excess action and CGI, immediately taking viewers out of anything resembling sanity. Eggsy (Egerton), the hoodlum turned hero from the first film, fights a former Kingsman recruit, also from the first film, who has a robotic arm with a mind of its own. That’s not even the craziest thing in this film. After disposing of him, we then go through the set-up motions as we meet Eggsy’s girlfriend, the sexually exploited Princess from the end of the first film, and catch-up with the other holdovers from the first flick. Anyone who hasn’t seen the first will unquestionably be confused and lost from the get-go.

The film squanders very little time getting to the villain of the film, Poppy (Moore). Poppy is the leader of a high-powered drug cartel. She wears a psychotic smirk on her face, forcing her underlings to undergo grotesque tests of allegiance. Her hideaway, Poppy Land, is a nostalgic step back into 1950’s Hill Valley with robotic murder dogs patrolling the compound. Her beef with the Kingsman is unknown other than she needs to eliminate any potential threats to her devious global plan. After missiles strike several targets in England (which is seemingly shrugged off by everyone else outside the plot), the remnants of the Kingsman activate their doomsday protocol and are forced to rely on their United States counterparts, the Statesman.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the biggest name in a film containing Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges and Elton John (yes, that Elton John). Very few are used to affect except for Elton John. He arrives as an unnecessarily needed and gratuitous cameo, but evolves into a delightfully needed and gratuitous cameo. However, my disappointment stems from a lack of Bridges, Tatum and Berry, who play different components of the Statesman organization. You could also make the argument for Moore’s character. “The Golden Circle” could have benefitted from as much Moore as possible, just like the previous film benefitted from a lisping Samuel L. Jackson.

The action isn’t entertaining in the traditional sense, but in a fun, manic Saturday morning cartoon kind of way. The laws of gravity, rudimentary physics, the limitations of the human body, and common sense are an afterthought for most the film’s runtime. Just like the first film, there are the over-the-top gadgets that serve one inane purpose. There’s even one gadget that’s too sexually explicit to even attempt to convey in a PG way.

“The Golden Circle” is delightfully bonkers, locking reality out of the writing room and barring believability from the set. The “Kingsman” universe has American citizens being locked up by their own government in cages, bad guys driving down the streets of London with .50 cal machine guns blasting away in full sight of civilians, and oddly placing a retirement home below an avalanche danger zone. To expect anything remotely logical would be a dishonor to the film’s status quo, but adding a little of intelligence certainly wouldn’t hurt it in the long run.

Film Society Kansas City to Host BBQ Fundraiser

As summer comes to an end, the Film Society Kansas City will be holding their annual BBQ to benefit the Robert Altman Emerging Filmmakers Fund Wednesday, September 20th. The event will be held at the Kansas City Alamo Drafthouse and run from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm.

Each year Film Society Kansas City awards grants for filmmakers to attend the Artis Inc. program, education events with the Independent Filmmaker’s Coalition, Kansas City Women in Film & TV and more! Join them for a night of networking with regional film makers, production crews, actresses, actors, and the film loving community!

For more information, go here.

Gwar Announces Full Details of New Album “The Blood of Gods”

GWAR Announces Full Details Of New Album “The Blood of Gods”
First Song Streaming; Pre-orders Available Now

The time has come, your Lords and Masters GWAR have unveiled the details of their latest masterpiece “The Blood of Gods”. Today the first single “Fuck This Place” is available for audio and video streaming. Watch the video, check out the song and pre-order your copy of “The Blood of Gods” at metalblade.com/gwar! Your Intergalactic Overlords demand it! Digital pre-orders include an instant gratification download of “Fuck This Place”. Limited edition special bundle packs are available for pre-order as well.

“The Blood of Gods”, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Ronan Chris “Lord God” Murphy, will be released October 20th via Metal Blade Records. The album will be available in Standard CD, 2LP Colored Vinyl and Digital formats.

“The Blood of Gods Track Listing:
1. War on GWAR
2. Viking Death Machine
3. El Presidente
4. I’ll Be Your Monster
5. Auroch
6. Swarm
7. The Sordid Soliloquy Of Sawborg Destructo
8. Death to Dickie Duncan
9. Crushed By The Cross
10. Fuck This Place
11. Phantom Limb
12. If You Want Blood (You Got It) – AC/DC Cover

The Berserker Blothar says:
“Fuck This Place,” the name says it all. Look around you. Your life sucks. Your planet is dying. You want to kill yourself and everyone you meet. So do it. You’ve drenched yourselves in gasoline, and now GWAR offers you a light. The finish line of the human race is at last within reach. Scream it now at the top of your lungs…”Fuck This Place!”

“The Blood of Gods” is nothing less than a sacred text chronicling the rise of humanity against their makers, and the massive battle between GWAR and the forces of all that is uptight and wrong with the world. Along the way, the band challenges the sins of their great mistake, from politics, pollution, and organized religion, to fast food, and factory farming. Humans are shown as what they are; a parasitic disease that must be eradicated before they suck the planet dry.

Sleazy P. Martini comments on “The Blood of Gods”:
“Sorry scoffers, you thought GWAR was finished? You’re the one who’s finished when GWAR starts their fall tour after dropping their heaviest album yet. “The Blood of the Gods” will be the soundtrack that covers up your pathetic cries for mercy. So go ahead and scream all you want. Just make sure your in key or your death will be excruciating beyond comprehension.”

In support of “The Blood of Gods” release GWAR will be on the road throughout the rest of 2017 including three shows in September with a stop at Chicago’s Riot Fest. GWAR will then return to the road On October 20th, the release date of “The Blood of Gods.” The first show on “The Blood of Gods Tour” is in their adopted home base of Richmond, Virginia and will run through December 10th in Detroit, MI. A complete list of “The Blood of Gods Tour” dates including an NYC appearance on Halloween can be found below. Support on the tour will come be provided by Ghoul, Doyle(10/20-11/5), He Is Legend (11/7-12/10) and U.S. Bastards.

GWAR On Tour:
9/15: Knoxville, TN @ The International
9/16: Middletown, OH @ Land of Illusion
9/17: Chicago, IL @ Riot Fest

GWAR W/Ghoul, Doyle and U.S. Bastards:
10/20: Richmond, VA @ The National
10/21: Cleveland, OH @ Agora Ballroom
10/22: Toronto, ON @ Opera House* (No Doyle)
10/23: Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls
10/25: Greensboro, NC @ Arizona Petes
10/26: Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live
10/27: New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place
10/28: Worcester, MA @ Palladium
10/29: Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero
10/31: New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
11/1: Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
11/2: Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom* (Stonecutters Open)
11/3: St. Louis, MO @ Pop’s
11/4: Sioux City, IA @ Hard Rock
11/5: Lawrence, KS @ Granada

GWAR W/Ghoul, He Is Legend and U.S. Bastards
11/7: Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
11/8: Winnipeg, MB @ Pyramid
11/9: Saskatoon, SK @ Saskatoon Events Center
11/10: Edmonton, AB @ Union Hall
11/11: Calgary, AB @ The Palaces
11/13: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore
11/14: Portland, OR @ Roseland
11/15: Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
11/17: Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
11/18: Las Vegas, NV @ Fremont Country Club
11/19: Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades
11/21: San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
11/22: Los Angeles, CA @ Fonda Theater
11/23: Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theater
11/24: Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
11/25: Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
11/26: Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theatre
11/28: Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom
11/29: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live
11/30: Houston, TX @ House of Blues
12/1: San Antonio, TX @ Aztec Theater
12/2: Baton Rouge, LA @ Varsity Theater
12/3: Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
12/5: Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution
12/6: Tampa, FL @ The Ritz
12/8: Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
12/9: Peoria, IL @ Limelight
12/10: Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall

For More Info Visit:
http://www.gwar.net