Triple Scoop Review: Much Ado About Nothing, Hell Fest, and Space Sweepers

Much Ado About Nothing

Year: 1993
Director: Kenneth Branagh
First Watch or Rewatch: Rewatch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Amazon
Spoilers: Bitches, please, this story is literally over 400 years old
Grade: Chocolate

I grew up on this movie, like, Much Ado is some formative shit, and I absolutely love it to pieces, despite some of the, ah, questionable acting. It’s not just Keanu Reeves, either, although I can’t say this is his finest hour. (Too bad, too; I’d really love to hear someone nail that whole “I cannot hide what I am” speech.) Robert Sean Leonard is also . . . not great, like admittedly, Claudio is the actual worst? Still, dude’s pretty hard to take seriously. And Michael Keaton, just, what? WHY? Branagh, why didn’t you stop this?

However, I love Emma Thompson as Beatrice; oh, she’s so good, and her scenes with Kenneth Branagh are magic. I also kinda adore Denzel Washington here, who I rarely see in comedies and just seems to be having a delightful time . . . and yes, he does rock those leather pants quite nicely, thank you. (I highly approve of Shakespearian men in leather pants, and have since I saw a production of Romeo & Juliet where Mercutio, dancing around without a shirt, was even more enjoyable than usual.) I’m fond of Richard Briers as Leonato, too, whose hilariously nonchalant delivery makes “she does indeed, my daughter says so” my favorite line in the whole movie. (This entire scene is pretty great, honestly, and is actually where I think RSL does his best work. The comedic overacting is perfect. It’s the dramatic bits I don’t quite buy.)

Gosh, there’s so much to discuss with Much Ado. Like butts. If there was an award for The Most Ass Shots in A Shakespearian Adaptation, it would go to this movie, hands down. (Pleasantly, we get equal opportunity ass shots. It’s not just the ladies for once!) I’d also like to mention that while the cast is overall very white, I do love that Denzel and Keanu are brothers, and no one awkwardly inserts some forced exposition about it; they’re just enemy-bros and that’s that. I like many actors in the supporting cast, too. I’m always here for Brian Blessed and his absurdly deep voice, and I’m never gonna say no to Imelda Staunton, either–although Margaret’s a much more interesting character in the play, which is a hill that I will die on. And hell, how did I go all these years without realizing that Emma Thompson’s mom plays Ursula. It’s so obvious once you know.

Finally, a few things: A) Let’s be real here: that friar is sketchy as hell. B) Leonato seems like a pretty good dude, that is, until he’s all “I shall not suffer a slut to live.” Seriously. Fuck this guy. C) Claudio can’t even be bothered to sing his own goddamned lament. He straight up has that one random singer dude lament for him, ugh, Claudio is THE WORST. And D) In the end, everyone happily dances around except Don Pedro, presumably because he’s the only single dude left? Bullshit. Bullshit to that whole idea idea, but also, bullshit to anyone picking Robert Sean Leonard and Kenneth Branagh over Denzel Washington. (I have to admit, much as I ship Beatrice/Benedick–and I very much do–there’s a part of me that’s always wondered what a Beatrice/Don Pedro ship might’ve been like. I’d read that rare pair fanfic.)

Hell Fest

Year: 2018
Director: Gregory Plotkin
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Netflix
Spoilers: Yep, sorry
Grade: Strawberry

This was our Bloody Hearts pick of 2021, and despite the film’s dismal reviews, I think it’s a pretty decent slasher. Admittedly, it doesn’t have the best start. The acting in the opening scene is, yeah, not stellar. Also, the Killer’s habit of humming “Pop Goes the Weasel” gets real old real quick. But the main cast is pretty likable. I am, of course, primarily here for Bex Taylor Klaus–and the Tony Todd cameo, obviously–but all the actors have good chemistry with one another, and there’s a lot of easy banter back and forth, which I very much enjoyed. Also, Mek and I definitely wanna go to this amusement park. Sans the murderer, preferably, but otherwise, this place looks pretty great. Well. Okay. While I’d absolutely love to go on an actual haunted house ride (especially if it “broke down” halfway through, YES), I’d sadly have to skip this one, as I won’t do haunted houses where people get to touch me. I don’t even want most people I know to touch me. I am, and forever will be, this GIF.

It’s great that the love interest dies first. Partially because it’s surprising, partially because that mallet to the face hurts me, and partially cause this guy makes absolutely terrible choices, and I feel little pity for him. (Come on. Who goes back to steal a stuffed toy just cause you can’t win one? I promise you, dude, your girl doesn’t give two shits whether you’re good at carnival games or not, and your fragile sense of masculinity is an impressively stupid reason to risk being arrested.) I love, too, that both our final girl, Natalie, and her BFF Brooke make it out alive. Brooke’s survival is especially awesome, as she’s both the MC’s BFF and the only Black actor in the main cast. These are extremely bad odds in a slasher; I’ve got Brandy surviving I Still Know What You Did Last Summer in 1998, and . . . that’s about it. I only wish that Taylor also survived because I adore Bex Taylor Klaus so much, and they’re awfully fun in this film. Still. Such is life.

Final, random thoughts: I kinda like that Natalie doesn’t have some stereotypical ‘dead mom or other trauma’ backstory to explain why she’s been distant; life’s just a Lot and people get busy, and that’s fine. I really like the ending, too, how we don’t get the usual last minute scare where our killer pops up in Spain or something; instead, he just goes home, adds to his serial killer trophy collection, and interacts with his cute little daughter, all of which is, TBH, much creepier. (Though, as an aside, I’m not sure exactly how Natalie is planning to get to Spain if scholarship money is currently a problem.) I’m not sure, admittedly, why Natalie and Brooke are just chilling outside one of the haunted houses at the end of the movie, presumably still bleeding, while the killer is on the loose, like, maybe we should get them to a hospital under police escort ASAP cause, you know, there are limits to the usefulness of shock blankets. Otherwise, though, yeah, I found this one pretty enjoyable.

Space Sweepers

Year: 2021
Director: Jo Sung-hee
First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Netflix
Spoilers: Only mildly
Grade: Vanilla

Space Sweepers is a lot of fun. I think, maybe, it could’ve been a bit shorter? And I feel like we might be stretching what can realistically be expected of nanotech, but also, I care not at all because seriously, FUN. I love the whole Victory crew, I love how wildly dysfunctional they all are, and I genuinely like how long it takes our protagonist, Tae-ho (Song Joong-ki) to fully get onboard with doing the right thing–but for reasons you get, not just, y’know, Asshole Reasons. I’m obsessed with Captain Jang’s whole aesthetic, I mean, damn. She’s great. Kot-nim is adorable. Tiger Park is kinda adorable, too, and of course, I adore Bubs, because I am always here for both A) sarcastic, money-hoarding robots and B) gender identity and expression in robots. Bubs is awesome.

Our villain is played by Richard Armitage, which is hilarious because I never recognize this guy, ever; my brain just refuses to lock in on his face. Mek will be like, “Hey, is that Richard Armitage?” and I’ll be like “WHAAAAT?” as if we haven’t had this exact same conversation twice before. I enjoyed the whole supporting cast, too, and the effort to really make this story feel international. Just in general, there are a ton of small moments that I loved: the makeup scene, Tae-ho and Tiger Park getting into a water fight, the fact that our heroes are just so hilariously bad at being criminals, etc.

I don’t think there are any plans to make a Space Sweepers sequel or spinoff or anything, and TBH, we don’t really need one. The movie stands fine on its own. Buuuuuut . . . you know. If someone were to do that, I’m just saying. I’d definitely watch another movie or television show in this verse.

Gimme THIS, Please: Instead of a Jack Bauer Prequel . . .

It’s a tale as old as time. A geek opens her laptop, looking at various film and television news, and is inevitably disappointed to see that, instead of making this awesome thing or that awesome thing, The Powers That Be have chosen to develop this supremely disappointing thing instead. You know this story, right? It’s the prequel that doesn’t need to be told or the sequel in a series that should’ve died ten years ago. It’s the remake of a movie that doesn’t need remaking, the standalone focusing on the most obvious and least interesting character, the adaptation that’s clearly a mediocre knockoff of that other more successful adaptation. We’ve all been here before.*

Last week two such prequels were announced. The first? Jack Bauer’s origin story on FOX, which, yeah, no thank you, out you go. The second was a prequel film to The Sandlot, which just . . . come on, WHY? And while despairing about these announcements, I formulated an idea, not one that would have any practical value whatsoever, of course, but one that might make me feel better all the same: a new feature on the blog where I proposed projects I’d personally prefer to see, rather than whatever the hell was just reported.

Unfortunately, I quickly hit a snag. See, my initial plan was to swap Shitty Prequel Idea in favor of Cool Prequel Idea, Boring Spinoff in favor of Exciting Spinoff, etc. However, it’s readily become apparent to me that prequels are just Not My Thing. I rarely, if ever, see the point of them: many movies or TV shows have interesting backstories, of course, but they’re usually revealed in said movie or TV show. I generally don’t feel the need to see the story I already knew the beginning, middle, and end of. Likewise, finding out the secret origins of a defeated villain or doomed mentor type is kind of cool, I guess? Then again, I know what’s going to happen to them down the road, so . . . meh?

Still, I was committed to the prequel idea. The obvious choice was the Young Princess Leia movie, of course, but I felt like I should save that discussion for the next Star Wars spinoff idea that does nothing for me. So, I thought about it and thought about it and finally came up with something that at least mildly interested me, or at any rate, something I’d rather see than Jack Bauer’s surely grimdark origin story where he likely gets tortured for the first time and tortures other people for the first time and his wife, Teri, who he just got married to, says things like, “Don’t go, Jack! Think of your baby daughter!” and is otherwise useless.

Yeah. Instead of THAT prequel, gimme THIS prequel, please . . .

If you’re not familiar with The Pelican Brief, watch the trailer to get the basic synopsis. If you are familiar with The Pelican Brief, watch the trailer anyway because previews from the early 90’s are hilarious.

The Pelican Brief has two main characters: Darby Shaw (Julia Roberts) and Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington). By necessity, this prequel would have to focus solely on Grantham; these two characters don’t meet until this movie, and while I like Darby Shaw well enough (or did–I have to admit it’s been some time since I’ve seen this film), she’s a young law student drawn into all this crazy political conspiracy murder shit. So, unless Darby’s a 16-year-old debate club prodigy investigating the overelaborate murder of the student body president, I’m having difficulty coming up with a solid prequel story here. (To be clear, I’d watch that movie in a heartbeat. I’m such a sucker for a good high school murder mystery.)

Gray Grantham, though, is different. He’s a seasoned investigative journalist; we meet him interviewing a Supreme Court justice, for Christ’s sake. He could have investigated all kinds of fun political conspiracies in the past, ones that would obviously have put him in serious danger and maybe forced him to take off his shirt once or twice. And while I’d be totally into watching a sequel with Denzel Washington reprising the role 25 years later (particularly in today’s ludicrously and dangerously dysfunctional political climate), I have to admit, I’d also be pretty okay watching a prequel starring this guy as the young Mr. Grantham.

Yes, as much as I’d love to see John Boyega get a role which would allow him to use his natural accent again, I’d still cast him in a fucking heartbeat here. Mind you, I have no idea what the actual conspiracy would be about, but I’m certainly entertained by the thought of Gray Grantham investigating shit, running away from bad guys, and actually asking hard questions of politicians, you know, the kind that so many journalists in this country refuse to ask politicians now. Maybe–and I’m about to showcase some damn dirty idealism here–he could even be something of a role model or otherwise aspirational figure, a reminder of what journalism should be about (albeit with a few theatrical explosions along the way).

The Pelican Brief Prequel–which would obviously need to get a sexier name, stat–could be a movie, of course, but I quite like the idea of it as a limited series, something on HBO or Netflix, you know, one of those networks that makes quality television and also has enough money to potentially entice Boyega away from blockbusters, however briefly. That way, the show could really set up a good solid mystery with a bunch of well-developed twists and turns and a decent ensemble of interesting and morally ambiguous characters, hopefully including lots of women. Anjelica Houston, for instance. Alfre Woodard. Zazie Beetz. Tatiana Maslany. Sandra Oh. Lucy Liu. You know, just to name a few.

Look, don’t get me wrong: I know that nobody’s making a prequel based off a 25-year-old John Grisham adaptation; like, that’s not where the money is, and even if it was, I’m pretty sure Hollywood would pick The Firm over The Pelican Brief any day. Still, I think it could potentially be a fun show, and anyway, it HAS to be better than that Jack Bauer shit, right? (I did try and come up with something to swap out The Sandlot with too, but there were even bigger problems there. Like, Mek and I agreed that no one wants to see The Goonies prequel about Chester Copperpot’s Big Doomed Quest to find One-Eyed Willie. And they definitely don’t want to see what Ray Brower did for his summer vacation right before Stand By Me.)

Well, that’s about all I’ve got right now. How about you? What prequels would you actually like to see? (If it’s the Jack Bauer show, I’ll try and only gently mock you, promise.)

*ETA: I feel the need to point out that I wrote this whole thing prior to Saturday’s news about a TNG sequel featuring Captain Picard. So it’s not that EVERY prequel, sequel, standalone, remake, or adaptation announcement is automatically terrible. It’s just most of them.

Coming Soon-Ish: Cowboys, Babysitters, and The Joker’s Crappy Origin Story

The Magnificent Seven

So, this looks cool. It’s not the all-girl version of The Magnificent Seven I was dreaming of, but Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Matt Bomer, Byung-hun Lee, Vincent D’Onofrio,     and some big ass guns? Could be fun. Plus, while this appears to take place in one of those universes that are populated by 40-men-for-every-1-woman, it also seems that our sole main female character will have some action-y stuff to do, so, yay! I doubt she’s one of the titular seven, and it’d be really nice for a western or action film to have more than one (or even two) important female characters, but still, one woman is one more than I seem to remember from the original Magnificent Seven or Seven Samurai. So, er, progress? (Unless I’m misremembering, of course. It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen either film.)

Also, “I seek righteousness, but I’ll take revenge” is a pretty great line.

Cell

Well. That looks spectacularly bad.

Here’s the thing about Cell: I read this book back when it first came out in 2006, and it was super creepy (until it suddenly wasn’t–I had problems with the second half) because I was late to the cell phone game and didn’t get one until, oh, maybe the following year? So I’d look up from my book on the bus and everyone would be on their phones, and I’d be like, Shit, the zombies are here, THE ZOMBIES ARE HEEEEEERE. By 2016, though, pretty much everyone and their grandmother and their grandmothers’ dogs have cell phones, which in theory would make the story even more scary but somehow makes it feel obsolete instead. There isn’t really any lingering ‘cell phone causes brain cancer or whatever else’ dread going around these days. The whole premise just feels a little silly.

More importantly, though, this just looks like a terrible movie. My only real interest in watching it is as a possible candidate for next year’s Bloody Hearts.

The Killing Joke

I actually just read this comic for the first time the other night. It’s generally considered to be one of the best Batman graphic novels ever. Naturally, I hated it.

I want to be interested in this. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are involved, so that’s a huge plus. I’m all about R-rated animated movies, and the attention to detail in this is exquisite. I mean, damn. This looks to be a spot-on recreation of the comic. But I guess that’s the problem because I really, really did not like this comic. Between the abhorrent treatment of female characters, Joker’s sad sack backstory, and Gordon’s S&M gear at the circus . . . yeah. I liked one of the ideas (if not the execution) and the last page. That’s about all.

Probably going to skip this one and watch Under the Red Hood again instead. Oooh, or Batman vs. Robin. I’ve been meaning to get around to that.

Approaching the Unknown

This looks interesting. It’s hard to know exactly where it’s going to go, and I’m guessing it’s the kind of movie you don’t want to know too much about before going in. Mark Strong, Luke Wilson, space, and mysterious, mind-trippy stuff are enough to catch my eye . . . but I have a couple of concerns.

One: my tolerance for ‘am I going crazy’ stories is pretty minimal, so while some mindfuckery is fine, I can’t have that be the driving question for the entire movie. (Also, I’d deeply prefer it if the answer wasn’t yes.) Two: I’m having a real hard time buying the idea that one guy would be sent alone to Mars, especially if it’s not supposed to be a routine, ‘we’ve done this a billion times already’ kind of trip. I can generally buy all sorts of ridiculous premises, as long as I know about them up front, and admittedly, I don’t know much about NASA that Packing to Mars and Armageddon didn’t teach me–but a lone wolf astronaut in space? Pretty much stretches my credulity to the limit.

Still. I have to admit I’m way more curious about this one than, say, Snowden or the next Jason Bourne movie. (I watched trailers for both but couldn’t manage to drum up enough reaction about either of them to bother jotting down.)

And finally . . . Adventures in Babysitting

Oh, what the shit is this?

Apparently, the Disney Channel has heartlessly decided to mine the depths of my childhood by remaking Adventures in Babysitting, and I mean “remaking” in the loosest possible sense. Godamn vultures.

Look, it’s been forever since I’ve seen the original Adventures in Babysitting, and fine, it probably doesn’t hold up all that well, but this . . . this . . . travesty just makes me sad. Come on, Disney Channel! Does your TV movie have Elizabeth Shue rocking this dress while dancing to “Then He Kissed Me,” or Bradley Whitford as a sleazy boyfriend with terrible excuses, or Vincent D’Onofrio playing Thor (well, sort of)?

I think not, Disney Channel. I think not.

Coming Soon-Ish: Vigilantes, Vampires, Leprechauns, and TEEN WOLF!

The Equalizer

Somewhat mixed feelings on this. I have this natural inclination towards vigilante stories, and I like both Denzel Washington and Chloe Grace Moretz quite a lot, but . . . I’m not sure. For some reason, the inclusion of the Russian mafia made me significantly less interested in the story, and I wish it looked like Moretz had a bigger role than Imperiled Hooker. (I mean, she might. I’m just not getting that impression from the trailer.)

I could try this out, but I’m not exactly getting wow, this looks AWESOME vibes from it yet. It doesn’t really seem like a fresh take on anything. And I kind of started giggling the second I saw The Old Man and the Sea. I don’t even know why. It just made me laugh.

Birdman

This, though. Well. This looks original, I’ll give it that. I don’t entirely know what to do with this teaser, but it has, at least, successfully managed to grab my interest. Also, it has a great cast, led by Michael Keaton, who appears to be playing a washed up actor who once played a beloved superhero.

This is exactly how I like my casting: ridiculously on the nose.

Leprechaun: Origins

Holy crap, this looks terrible. I mean, that’s pretty apparent from the title, but still . . . wow. Is that thing really supposed to be a leprechaun? Can this franchise actually get WORSE than Leprechaun 4: In SpaceLeprechaun 5: In the Hood, and Leprechaun 6: Back 2 tha Hood? Cause at least those looked ludicrously, magically campy. This just looks awful.

Clearly, I need to see it immediately.

The Strain

I think I actually own a copy of this book — I found it for like a buck at a book fair — but never quite got around to reading it. Probably won’t, either, before July, but I might check out the television show anyway. Cause, you know. Guillermo del Toro, and it looks atmospheric and creepy enough. (Though the plane thing kind of reminds me of the pilot in Fringe. I mean, it’s totally different — I just think ‘freak plane thing’ and I think Fringe. Or Lost. We need to have more fictional freak Amtrak incidents or something.)

Also, looks like David Bradley’s in this — possibly playing a good guy, even — as well as Sean Astin and Kevin Durand, at least for a couple of episodes. I do so enjoy eight foot tall Kevin Durand. And the season is only twelve episodes long, so it might be a short, fun thing to keep me going after (sob) Game of Thrones ends this weekend.

Teen Wolf: Season 4

But who am I kidding? This is the show that’s going to keep me going after GoT is over. It’ll be a little weird and sad, not being able to obsessively marathon this season like I did with all the others. On the other hand, it might actually be nice, not being spoiled for all the big developments.

I know I probably have too high hopes, after last season’s total awesomeness, but this trailer looks pretty great. Lacrosse is back. Shirtless Derek is back. KATE IS BACK! The monsters look sufficiently creepy, and Stiles’s line about professional killers cracks me up, the way his lines pretty much always do. (I’m assuming Stiles will have a slightly less angsty season, which is fine . . . but I hope they don’t pull away from the angst entirely. You know, he DID kill people while being possessed by an evil fox spirit. I’d like to see some Feels about that, please.)

I am looking forward to June 23rd way, WAY too much.