In retrospect, “The Dark Knight” (2008) perhaps didn’t need much of a promotional boost; it was one of those movies that came out at the right time, en route to box-office records. Nonetheless, it did have a neat little tie-in “movie,” the Eastern-style animated “Batman: Gotham Knight.” Much like “The Animatrix,” this is a series of short segments – six of them, totaling 75 minutes – that purports to flesh out the larger universe.
Although many “Blade Runner” fans are probably familiar with the references to Tannhäuser Gate in “Soldier” (1998), I think this film – likewise written by David Webb Peoples — should be more embraced as part of the “BR” universe than it is. At three points in the film – once on a monitor showing Todd’s (Kurt Russell) military campaigns, once as a tattoo on Todd’s arm, and once verbally by Mace (Sean Pertwee) – the battle of Tannhauser Gate is referenced. And The Shoulder of Orion is also in Todd’s files.
Over six Sundays, we’re looking back at the five seasons (and one movie) of one of the last decade’s elite TV series: AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” Wrapping it up is “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” (October 2019, Netflix):
The origin story of Zorro (Antonio Banderas) is told in “The Mask of Zorro” (1998), and in sequel “The Legend of Zorro” (2005) wife Elena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) wants him to hang up his sword, mask and hat for good. It seems like there should’ve been a series of films in between, but there weren’t. As Bruce at Hero Movie Podcast correctly points out, seven years is an awkward gap between original and sequel – you should ideally strike while the iron is hot (a couple years later) or wait till it heats up again (about 20 years later).
Darklight” (2004) ranks among the weirdest roles in Shiri Appleby’s oeuvre, as she plays a modern version of Lilith, a pure evil second woman from the Garden of Eden mythology. In this SyFy TV movie, Lilith – or “Elle,” before she learns her origin – is living as a young woman with amnesia about her demon life and a general sense of Nickelback-music-video malaise.
It’s been said that Washington, D.C., is Hollywood for ugly people, but we mostly view politics and celebrity culture as two distinct categories. What’s smart and fun about Amazon Prime’s “The Boys” – which recently released the first three episodes of Season 2, with episodes 4-8 coming out on Fridays – is that it mashes politics and celebrity into one thing via The Seven.
Bulletproof Monk” (2003), based on a comic so obscure that it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, was overlooked upon its release because it appeared to be a second-rate Chow Yun-Fat picture with a toned-down version of Stifler as his sidekick. It’s overlooked today because there are so many better superhero movies. But there are far worse ones, too.
Writer-director James Cameron shows he can do comedy – and Arnold Schwarzenegger adds another notch to his laugh belt – in “True Lies” (1994). Cameron’s relatively light entry between “Terminator 2” and “Titanic” offers good blockbuster fun, but it’s the fluffiest entry of his golden age and too long (2 hours, 21 minutes) for a film that’s not a sweeping social commentary or historical epic.
The “Alien” franchise didn’t have a new movie in the chamber to mark its 40th anniversary in 2019, but it did gift fans with several short films; all are on YouTube. They are part of a trend – which perhaps has its roots in George Lucas’ support of “Star Wars” fan films about 20 years ago – wherein major franchises allow up-and-coming artists to play in their sandbox.
Zoom” (2006) is a formulaic superhero movie aimed at young kids, and therefore can be criticized for all the flaws you expect. The conflict, personality types and relationships are simple. But even with that understood, director Peter Hewitt’s film lacks the energy and clever humor that would’ve made it a fun, if light, diversion. Instead, it falls totally flat despite having a lot of talent in front of the camera. For a much better example of a kids superhero flick, check out the previous year’s “Sky High.”