[EXPRESSO] The Cuphead Show (Season Two) (2022) | Cup Me Twice

Since i didn’t proper disliked the first season (see the previous review, if you would like), yeah, whatever, i watched all the Shaman King’s Netflix adaptation, i can watch this, while i wait for the complete physical release of the game to come into existence.

Continuing up from the first season’s cliffhanger, we have Cuphead and Mugman thrown into jail after they were basically set-off by the charming con-maister Chalice to enter the cookie factory on the hush, and then.. they escape/get out of it in the first episode. So much for that.

Yeah, a strong, over-arching narrative wasn’t the forte of the first season, but despite hinting at the focus being on the character of Miss Chalice, introduced right at the end of the previous season, hanging around with the boys… even that gets resolved quickly, so any kind of plot is thrown out of the window for episodic adventures.

Mundane, episodic, adventures.

Yep, if this sounds familiar, it’s because i ultimately i have the same feelings (and criticisms) about this second season as i did for the first one: short episodes that look good but lack any real substance or interesting stories, while not being outright bad or offensive, and once again it’s clear the target audience isn’t adult fans of the videogame, animation buffs, but just… kids.

I did bother with this second season to see if it was better in any significant way, but honestly it would have been worse if the Devil (and with him a semblance of story, fun and wit) didn’t eventually come back for a couple of episodes, but thankfully he does.

But again, it don’t matter anyway, since Netflix ordered 36 episodes overall, there’s a cliffhanger, so it’s pretty much a given we’ll see a third season/slice/part.

Yay? Maybe? Whatever, later!

[EXPRESSO] Full Metal Alchemist: The Final Chapter – The Avenger Scar (2022) | Alexander “Ahoge Cum Head Tumor” Armstrong

As you might be aware, more live-action Full Metal Alchemist films were on to way to make it a trilogy, actually a two parter, announced last year to celebrate the manga’s 20th anniversary, directed by Fumihiko Sori (Ping Pong, Vexille) and both already released theathrically this year in Japan.

Now we’re getting the first part of this “Final Chapter”, The Avenger Scar, internationally via Netflix, so let’s talk about it, i did review the first FMA live action film back in 2017.

It follow directly from when the 2016’s FMA movie left, and – as the title lays out – it’s about a nameless serial killer that is roaming about Central City offing State Alchemists, dubbed “Scar” due to his “X” shaped headwound.

The brothers encounter Scar but suffer defeat and have to escape, while the intrigues surrounding the military and the Homunculus unfold..

Like the previous movie, you’ll ask yourself why bother making live-actions like these, for the obvious reasons, which include some character designs clearly never meant for real people.

I wasn’t ready to see live-action Alexander Armstrong, nor could i ever be. Jesus.

If you can get over the many absurdities that come from the “anime/manga to live-action” transition, you’ll find a decent, fairly faithful adaptation of this part of the series, with some changes to the plot that basically relocate some events earlier or later and some fairly necessary concessions that had to be made anyway to have a 2 hours film.

It’s not the bad adaptation you think it is, nor it does the material quite the justice it deserves, but it’s a decent retelling, acting it’s ok, and it does what it sets out to do.

With some questionable effects at times, but at least it’s definitely better than the Bleach live action movie.

[EXPRESSO] NOPE (2022) | Cosmic Slide

As usual, we had to wait for NOPE to release here well before it US theathrical release, but it was definitely worth wait, i can say that much already.

And this is one that definitely leaves both a lot to discuss and yet it’s best enjoyed by just going in with minimal to zero knowledge about the premise. And it was brilliantly marketed too, because we had no idea what the hell this movie was gonna be about early, especially with such a deliberate tease of a title, but even with later trailers it wasn’t much clearer.

But i guess giving the basic premise isn’t doing the movie the disservice you would expect, so…

Set in a desolated California valley, NOPE tells the story of a brother and sister that work in movie biz by providing trained horses for cinematic purpose and struggle to continue upholding the job and the ranch their father left them after his sudden and unexplicable demise.

One day, they notice something strange is lurking there, hiding in the sky, so they set out to discover and film whatever is it, but the revelation it’s as outright absurd and defies logic.

To not give the movie away, we’re going in a “ufo-cosmic horror” direction, but even that won’t exactly give away the twist nor the execution, and this is far from one of those movies that erronously stakes everything in hiding the monster to excessive degrees, and NOPE has a lot more to it than just the “surprise factor”.

And honestly Peele just delivers another excellent piece, one distinct from his previous efforts, but still plentiful of his great ability to balance terror and comedy with a story that’s captivating and fairly original to boot.

Ten “ The Scorpion King 2001 crew jackets” out of ten.

SUPER Summer Nap

You know the drill (and i announced it before), every rubric aside EXPRESSO (i will review NOPE soon enough, and i plan to review this way,Crimes Of The Future, MEN and Bullet Train, which are releasing in cinemas here very late this August) is taking a break from today until the 16th of september, maybe a little earlier, but for the rest of August we’re taking a fairly deserved (if i can say it myself) break.

[EXPRESSO] Shark Bait (2022) | Jet Ski Adrift

Just before i was gonna import it on DVD, it arrives localized in cinemas here, and you can bet yo’ ass i’m not gonna miss a shark movie showing in theathers in this day and age.

Especially since it hails from the company behind the 47 Meters Down series, and last year’s shark flick Great White, so it comes with certain expectations.

Plot is fairly simple, in usual shark movie fashion.

A group of friends celebrating Spring Break abroad decides – on the last day of the festivities – to steal a couple of jet skis and drunkenly fuck about with them before going back home.

They have an accident and find themselves adrift, trying to survive and search for any help they can get, with one of them sporting a badly injured leg that eventually attracts sharks…

Nothing original, but some of the best shark movies that opt for a more realistic approach and actually are horror thrillers do work off straighforward scenarios like these, where most of the action happens in a very restricted scenario, and this movie it’s no exception.

Honestly it has a lot going for it, from very good production values, very good looking shark and practical gore effects, but it manages to create quite the satisfying tension and solid atmosphere, so it doesn’t just look the part of a professional “big budget” released.

It’s decently acted too, shame that it could have been proper good if the characters were more than likeable cliches, and if the third act didn’t overused the shark, sacrificing tension for action in a very rushed fashion, mostly to even further drag out the finale.

Still, it’s a decent, solid shark movie, a lot more captivating than i expected, and it’s definitely better than Altitude’s last year offering, Great White.

[EXPRESSO] X (2022) | Fornicators!

Kinda “surprise release” of this one in theathers here, didn’t really expect it!

I wasn’t familiar with Ti West’s work before i saw this, FIY, but i’m glad i did.

Set in 1970’s rural america, X tells of a crew that rents a farm house in Houstin, Texas, from an elderly couple, to whom they obviously didn’t told their real purpose: shooting a porno film in order to make it big thanks to the promises of “home video entertaiment” as an upcoming industry.

The problem is the couple happens decrepit and crazy, as they both are driven homicidal by the lethal combination of old age, puritanical christian values (fueled by fearmongering televangelists) that clash with the newfound sexual revolution in the younger generations, and envy.

It’s a tribute to the early 70s gruesome slashers and similar films depicting – at the time – unseen levels of violence, set in the remote depths of Texas, but it’s not just style and homages, as it balances out comedy, fairly violent gore with creepy, unsettling sequences, great acting and good characters, even the villains have a relatable side.

Also, incredibly it juggles the line very well in terms of the exploitation factor, as it’s fairly graphic, the kills are satisfying, there’s plenty of nudity, so it definitely doesn’t pull punches, but also doesn’t feel it’s being too excessive or tacky, showing some class and being able to touch upon some meaningful topics, of having some moments of earnest tenderness amongst the carnage.

And even a bit of Lake Placid action, between the porno shoots and the creepy elders deciding its time yet again to vent the frustration of old age on the youngins.

It’s also very damn satisfying in terms of kills, to boot, so i’d say X it’s pretty good stuff.

Recommended!

[EXPRESSO] Thor: Love And Thunder (2022) | “Bi” from “Bifrost”

After being pleasantly surprised by Thor Ragnarok (which i quite liked), i was cautiously optimistic about this one, since we have Taika Waltiti back in the director chair, and two Thors, why not?

The plot sees Thor cruising the galaxy on a quest for his own inner peace, after basically handing to others his expected status and obligations of a god. But his hippish voyage for love and identity is cut short by an intergalactic killer known as “Gorr The God Butcher”, forcing the son of Odin to request the aid of Valkyrie and even his ex, Jane Foster, who now can wield the mighty Mjolnir as “Mighty Thor”, on an adventure to find out Gorr’s motives and stop him before he can bring his godslaying crusade to the next level.

More than previous installment, this one leans into the comedic aspect that ran through the Thor series to make it more distinct from Ragnarok, especially by “leaning” heavily into romantic comedy territory, and aside from a similar-esque scene, the movie feel like a continuation of the previous one but not a redo, and it manages to fully give Thor a proper character arc.

Problem is that tonal unconsistency rears its ugly head here, as the “eros and thanatos” combo never fully finds a proper balance, so while the film works, it does feel kinda disjointed and in turn it’s hard to fully engage with what’s going on, even if funny, entertaining or emotional. Some tired comedy beats and some (arguably inevitable) franchise fatigue only exacerbate things further.

A shame, because the villain it’s pretty decent, Waltiti flair is still in full force here, but i also can’t deny that Thor: Love And Thunder feels messy, at times unfocused and ultimately it’s decent fun but kinda disappointing and oddly forgettable.

[EXPRESSO] Studio 666 (2022) | Dave Grohl Made Me Do It

No, this is not a Jojo reference, nor its one of those weird hybrid music video-concert films (see for example Metallica’s Through The Never), this a full on fictionalized affair, and one i’ve been looking forward to since it was announced. Sure, rock and metal superstar bands aren’t new to cinematic experiences about their personas, but the pitch-premise of a comedy horror starring Dave Ghrol and his bandmates as themselves it’s so good it’s hard to ignore.

As the band Foo Fighters it’s struggling to come up with ideas for its tenth studio album, they get recommended a secluded house in Encino, California, where in the 70s a band called Dream Widow went to record an album, ending with the frontman massacring all the band members before killing himself. The band settles in despite the creepy vibes they pick up from the house, but things get progressively out of hand, leading to Dave Grohl being possessed by a demon. Among other things.

It’s a good dang premise, and thankfully the script and direction are up to snuff to make the most of the pitch, having a zany time with horror cliches and the expected “behind the music” stuff, with the band proving to be very good sports in this delightfully ridiculous comedy horror romp, especially Dave Grohl overacting like a champ as he grows progressively more obsessed once he manages to “magically” get over his artistic block.

Yeah, it’s pretty funny, there’s more to the story than expect, and Studio 666 isn’t afraid to be extra cheesy and honestly it’s kinda surprising that the effects are very good, but besides that, i’ve seen horror movies that try to take themselves seriously but ultimately wish they could pull off even half-successfully a random jumpscare this movie uses as a joke.

Recommended!

[EXPRESSO] Lightyear (2022) | Space Mediocrity

Ok, let’s leave aside the whole “identity crisis debacle”, despite Pixar being outright silly in starting the movie with the premise that THIS is the movie that in 1995 spawned the Buzz Lightyear toy Andy from Toy Story got. Also ignoring the 90’s animated TV series that served as a backstory to the character, because it’s clear this is a different interpretation-canon.

WHATEVER, who cares, let’s move on from this non-sense.

Though i can understand it’s quite tempting to do so since the ludicrous meta footnote is ripe for lampooning, and the actual movie leaves very little to say for itself.

But first, the plot.

I has been described by many as a sort of rip-off of Interstellar for children, and i agree, as we see Buzz and company investigate a newly scanned planet that the ship flew by during their voyage.

This alien world immediatly reveals to be rife with hostile fauna and flora, and in attempt to escape, the ship gets damaged, forcing Buzz and all the other people on board to camp and live there, while they find a way to create the specific fuel need for lightspeed space travel in order to contact base and leave the planet. They do manage to create the special fuel, but things turn for the weird as Buzz keeps failing the lightspeed flight test and returns to learn that his minutes long voyages translate to years of time passing in his absence….

I’ll say that this ain’t bad. I didn’t expect much from the trailer, but sadly despite the plot having some potential to be better, it all comes off as a generic “origin story” through and through, from the action to the characters, everything it’s pretty mild, predictable and – again – generic.

Enjoyable, but sadly quite middling overall.

[EXPRESSO] Black Phone (2021) | The Basement Dead

Time for some fresh meat, as this one will drop in theathers here in a week’s time, but i manage to see this earlier preview screening, and boy i’m glad i did, as i’ve heard of this movie before but kinda forgot when or if it was gonna come out in theathers here.

Based on the short story of the same name by Joe Hill, Black Phone is the new feature from Sinister ‘s (and the 2016’s Doctor Strange, as marketing makes abundantly clear) director Scott Derrickson, telling the story of a serial killer – dubbed “The Grabber” by the community – that in 1978 terrorizes a suburban town in Colorado by kidnapping children, with the sixth being the 13 yo Finny Shaw. While being imprisoned, Finny realizes that the black phone in the basement, despite having the line physically severed, acts a conduit for the Grabber’ previous victims to talk with the boy and hopefully help him escape. At the same time, Finny’s sister begins to have weird dreams, or visions..

You know when the trailer and most of the marking material makes the movie look good and “proper”, you go see it and then it’s actually quite good? Yeah, Black Phone it’s one of those.

Not only the setting it’s good, the presentation excellent at using “low budget tricks” like scenes filmed or edited to feel like era archive footage (which is not surprising given the director), all contributing to avoid the common modern mistake of “overly produced/shiny horror movies”, it’s a pretty creepy slice of that late 70s’ suburban America, with a really good atmosphere, a little bit of well integrated comedy and great characters all around, with the villain being as creepy as he looks.

Pretty good, fairly intense and quite satisfying to boot. Recommended.