Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Review)

Welcome to my much-delayed review of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. I needed a lot of time before penning my thoughts on the film. Some people love the movie, and some people hate it. However, after multiple screenings, it ultimately came down to three things for me. Continue reading “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Review)”

Toy Masters: Review

Christmas of 1985 is one of my fondest childhood memories. Not only is it the first holiday that I can remember, but the cornucopia of presents under the tree were comprised of Masters of the Universe toys. Man-E-Faces, Hordak, Roboto, Mantenna, Leech, Mekaneck, Beast Man, Horde Trooper, Grizzlor, Spikor, and my Dad’s favorite, Stinkor. Even with the overwhelming roster of bad guys in the collection, Santa Claus had orientated me on all things, He-Man. So I naturally gravitated towards the first ever feature-length documentary on the most pivotal aspects of the He-Man franchise.

When watching Toy Masters, it’s apparent right from the start that the subject matter is a labor of love for filmmakers Roger Lay Jr. and Corey Landis. Their experience with the Power of Grayskull inspired the journey to document the origin of the phenomenon that inspired a generation. However, this fun-filled childhood adventure that generated billions of dollars comes with a 30-year battle for credit over He-Man’s creation.

Right off the bat, there is no simple answer to who deserves the credit for creating He-Man. That doesn’t stop Lay and Landis from digging to find one clear answer. Most documentaries eventually discover the mastermind behind the curtain. However, every comment, explanation, denial and/or exhibit of proof to substantiate a particular claim of creation makes a strong case that the sum of its parts is greater than the whole.

This revelation forces the film to shift its exploratory tone from finding the creator to discovering who fashioned each facet of the operation that made the franchise a massive success. Of course, all while holding out hope that a sole proprietor will be revealed.

Preliminary designer Roger Sweet believes his creation of the initial prototype figures birthed all things Eternia while production design artist Mark Taylor believes his He-Man style drawing four years before the toy line was launched spawned Masters of the Universe. Paul Cleveland, a former vice president of marketing at Mattel, believes that what he brought to the table makes him the inventor of the property.

Roger Sweet

Everyone that lays claim to the sword of power makes a good case for themselves. Then you have Roger Sweet, who presents solid facts weaved with what sounds to be head-scratching fiction. The documentary doesn’t imminently jump on what was probably a tempting opportunity to cast Roger in the light of the film’s villain/outcast.

Roger was given every opportunity to respond to any claims against him and clear up contradictions in his story. Unfortunately, he goes down the rabbit hole of negativity while making some crazy demands that make it impossible not to look at him as a quack that rules him out as the man responsible for the Thunder Punch He-Man I got for my 7th birthday.

The original 80’s Filmation cartoon, the critically panned 1987 motion picture starring Dolph Lundgren, the loathed and short-lived The New Adventures of He-Man animated series and the acclaimed 2002 reboot are all examined with everyone pointing to one principal antagonist…Mattel. Their final say over all forms of production being driven by toy sales revealed a permeating stench of greed, inevitably dooming the franchise at every turn.

The Filmation crew really had a passion for creating a quality show and believed MOTU was that show. However, being forced to put more emphasis on the Bashasaurus toy vehicle being released as opposed to the story ultimately produced a lack of quality control on all fronts. Mattel doesn’t comment on the matter, and wisely so on their part. Any carefully crafted statement could inadvertently open the door to a fleet of lawsuits and massive payouts.

Despite the enormous ground that the film covers, Toy Masters is aptly named because it was the toys that drove all things, He-Man. Lay and Landis do an efficient job of detailing the facts and accounts while never losing sight of the task of discovering a creator, even with some detours along the way. While we don’t get one definitive answer, we do get several admissions of contribution that takes the viewer on a journey within a journey, which is equally as satisfying. Truth tends to be stranger than the fictional adventures of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

 

***Reportedly, problems behind the scenes along with the release of the Netflix series The Toys That Made Us, has stalled out the release of Toy Masters. The movie was sporadically screened at various film festivals and pop culture conventions, beginning at 2012, with the intent of a hyping a future full release.

I saw the movie a year ago, and my review was shelved since the release of the film was pushed back once again. After making some of my inquiries on the matter, all roads point to the Toy Masters being locked in the toy box, permanently 

Speaking as a lifelong Masters of the Universe fan, it’s a real shame that Toy Masters will apparently never get the audience and recognition it deserves. Publishing my review is my own small way of paying tribute to a lost labor of love.***

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Review

Solo: A Star Wars Story tells the tale of a young Han Solo who finds his footing as a smuggler in the midst of a journey that includes friendship, betrayal, and adventure. Solo is a fun ride that connects outside cannon material (books, animated series, and comics) more than any other Star Wars film to date. Still, despite all the positives, the negatives weigh the movie down past the point of no return.  Continue reading “Solo: A Star Wars Story – Review”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Non-Spoiler Review)

A distressed Luke Skywalker’s words of warning to an unwavering Rey: “This is not going to go the way you think” impeccably sets the tone for the Rian Johnson-helmed Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Stunning visuals, a fantastic story augmented by old, returning, and new characters, along with a plethora of impactful moments, hurl the audience on a journey that they will never forget, regardless of how they feel about the film.

Continue reading “Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Non-Spoiler Review)”

Justice League: Review

Divisive is the name of the game when it comes to DC Comics’ films. Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad all received mixed reviews. Wonder Woman was a bonafide hit with everyone, but now it’s back to the status quo with the latest film in the series, Justice League.

Digital mustache removal, crappy CGI, inept story, and a botched Superman resurrection led to a massive critical lambasting of the film. Bad reviews don’t scare me out of seeing a movie because I need to see it for myself before casting judgment.

Is Justice League another step down for the DCEU? Is Justice League worth your time and hard-earned money? I’m here to report that Justice League is freaking amazing despite any minor problems, and these issues do not distract from an enjoyable movie. Continue reading “Justice League: Review”

Spider-Man Homecoming: Review

The sixth film featuring everyone’s favorite wall-crawling superhero has the added caveat of officially being a part of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man: Homecoming not only presents a different on-screen version of the titular character but also it’s most endearing.

High School is the name of the game here. While Sam Raimi and Marc Webb used Peter Parker’s high school experience as a set piece to establish a bigger narrative, Director Jon Watts etches it in Homecoming’s DNA. Homework or crime fighting? That is the question.

Continue reading “Spider-Man Homecoming: Review”

Wonder Woman: Review

It’s fair to say that the DCEU slate of films stumbled out of the gate. Man of Steel received mixed reviews with the needle slightly towards positive. Three years later, Batman v Superman seemingly pissed off everyone on the planet, and Suicide Squad was a bittersweet victory for Warner Bros.

Much like how The Force Awakens had the unenviable task of bringing that “Star Wars Feel” back to the franchise, director Patty Jenkins had her own uphill battles to climb with the latest blockbuster superhero film. It had to be great, not good, while not only reinvigorating a shared universe, but it needed to be progressive in a manner fitting contemporary society.

And it all had to be done with a female lead.

Continue reading “Wonder Woman: Review”

Alien: Convent – Review

I recently treated myself to back to back movie viewings at my local theater. This is something I used to do all the time. I keep planning to do them but something would always come up at the last minute. This time…success! My two escapes were a bumbling pirate and a deadly extraterrestrial.

Alien has an unfortunate downward trajectory when looking at the films within its universe. Alien and Aliens are revered; Alien 3 has some debated admiration that is highly disparaged and Alien Resurrection…F&%$ that movie.

Fifteen years later, we got Prometheus, which took fans on a “secret” prequel voyage that over promised and under delivered. Famed director Ridley Scott returns to the franchise he created and sought to make up for previous wrongs while expanding upon a nearly untapped mythology with Alien Convent.

Continue reading “Alien: Convent – Review”

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Review

I recently treated myself to back to back movie viewings at my local theater. This is something I used to do all the time. I keep planning to do them but something would always come up at the last minute. This time…success! My two escapes were a bumbling pirate and a deadly extraterrestrial.

The fifth outing in the popular Disney franchise tells the story of a down on his luck Capt. Jack Sparrow who is looking to escape the ghostly wrath of the revenge-laden Capt. Salazar. Jack’s only hope is to find the legendary Trident of Poseidon and to do it, he will need the help of an astronomer and young Navy man with ties to his audacious past.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales brings fun and adventure back to the franchise and it is the best film since the original. That may or may not be high praise since Pirates 2, 3 and 4 left a lot to be desired. Still, this was an enjoyable movie-going experience that had some hits and misses.

Continue reading “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Review”

Split: Review

Holy crap…Holy Crap!

Those were my thoughts while I was immersed in the physiological horror that is M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, Split. The plot revolves around Kevin, played by James McAvoy, who suffers from dissociative identity disorder and has 23 personalities.

While Kevin is being treated by his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, one of his personalities becomes dominant over the others and has a compulsion to abduct three teenage girls. Continue reading “Split: Review”