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IT – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  September 8, 2017
Rating:  R
Run Time:  2 hours 15 min
After Credit Scene:  NO
IMAX Viewing:  NO
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  8.9 out of 10

A non-spoiler review.

A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown (Pennywise), begins hunting children.”

What you need to know about IT:  The movie is based on a novel by Stephen King.  The first adaptation was a made for TV movie series in the 1980’s.  This movie, unlike the TV series, tells the story in linier timeline starting when they were kids.  The story is set in Maine, like many of King’s work, during the 1980’s.

What works:  This young cast can act and act well.  They are able to pull off the comradery that neighborhood kids have.  Although I have not read the book, I’ve been told that this movie is adapted very closely to how King originally penned the story, therefore those who have read the book also enjoyed the film.  I didn’t find the movie to be scary, but those around me were certainly on the edge of their seats as there is usually a buildup of suspense whenever Pennywise is present.  Surprisingly, this movie is loaded with comedic moments that will surely make you laugh far more than one would expect in a horror film.  A standout performance was given by Finn Wolfhard who you may recognize from the Netflix series, “Stranger Things”, and Bill Skarsgard who was also in this year’s film, “Atomic Blonde.”  The make-up and special effects were great, Pennywise looks amazing!

What doesn’t work:  There isn’t anything that stands out to me that I did not like.  Some websites will tell you that there is an after-credit scene.  To save you the time of sitting there waiting for the moment — ALERT, SPOILER – the title pops up and you hear Pennywise laugh.  You won’t miss a thing if you don’t stay for that laugh.

For a horror film, which I’m not always a fan of the genre, this movie is fantastic!  It captures the feeling of a Stephen Spielberg film and that 80’s vibe is spot on.  The acting was excellent and the dialog was superb.  Honestly, I had no idea the movie would have so many laughable moments.  But alas, if you don’t like clowns or have a fear of clowns then you will really have an issue with the film.  Stephen King doesn’t have the best track record for film adaptations of his books.  We don’t have to look too far back to “Dark Tower” to understand what I’m talking about, but this movie is done very well.  Although my viewing was not in IMAX, I’m told that the movie is more intense in that format.

Be sure to check this movie out at your local theater.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give IT an 8.9.  Grab some concessions and enjoy a funny and frightful movie.

Did you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

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The Dark Tower – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  Aug. 4, 2017
Rating:  PG-13
Run Time:  1 hours 35 min
After Credit Scene:  NO
IMAX Viewing:  NO
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  5.8 out of 10

A non-spoiler review.

What you need to know about The Dark Tower:  The movie is based a series of books by Steven King.  Although I have not read the books, I am aware that they are very lengthy reads and there is a lot of material to draw from to develop a story for the big screen.

The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.”

What works:  Very little.  Idris Elba plays the “Roland,” the gun slinger.  His character is the only character that was developed enough that I cared about his journey.  Those who like Steven King will be happy with the hidden eggs that pop up in the background of the film.  If you aren’t familiar with King’s work, you won’t care if you miss them.  Yup, that is it.  Kudos to the advertising team that created the posters and trailers.  They did their jobs of getting my interest and seeing the film.

What doesn’t work:  Every character, other than Roland, lacks enough substance that we just don’t really care about them.  Not the mother, step dad, Jake the hero of the film, or any other character has enough known about them that we care.  The movie felt like a B film from the 80’s with its brushing through the story to move to the action or conflict scenes.  This is one of Matthew McConaughey’s most lack luster performances and I can only attribute it to the lack of material he had to work with.

Not that Steven King films do well, but this one had a lot of hope as the books are lengthy and well-liked by his fans.  This movie, however, appears to have brushed upon the characters like a checklist to ensure they touched on them.  Those who have read the books, I’d like to hear from you because the film continues to put you in one situation and then another and then another without providing the viewer enough time to get a feeling of what the significance is of each location.

By the end of the film, I felt relieved it was over and honestly didn’t care one bit about anything that had happened.  There were opportunities for the movie to rise to the occasion and entertain us, but it couldn’t get its feet under itself to make the leap.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give The Dark Tower an 5.8.  The movie isn’t worth concessions.

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Comic Shop Talk: Totally Metal 8/8/17

Comic Shop Talk is a video blog dedicated to Comics, and pop culture talk including movies, television, books, and more.  Ken Lee is the author of our long-running comic blog The Crank File, Rob Goyer is our Cards and Counters game blog author, Tylor Hamel appears in many in-store livestreams and works at Great Stories Comics & Gaming, and Chris Mills is the owner of Great Stories. 

Contents
0:00  We talk the latest developments in Marvel’s massive Secret Empire story.

14:30  Weapons of Mutant Destruction

19:00  Edge of the Venomverse

23:50  Spectacular Spider-Man

26:18  DC talk begins with Dark Days: The Forge

35:00  Batman regular series

38:00  DC/Looney Tunes crossover titles

42:35  Indie Comic Talk including Image Comics’ Redneck, Plastic, Kill the Minotaur, and Winnebago Graveyard

50:45  Movie talk begins with Ken and Tylor catching us up with their opinions on Wonder Woman, our anticipation for Spider-Man Homecoming, and The Transformer movie franchise

1:03:50  TV talk begins with Game of Thr0nes, Stephen King, Netflix Marvel shows, and some movies we caught on the small screen.  Then we end it all with our reaction outside our local theater after seeing Spider-Man: Homecoming.

We hope you enjoy the show, and we’ll be back real soon with another installment!

-The Great Stories Team

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Trailer Snark (August 4, 2017 Theatrical Releases)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Eric from View from Above, Robert from Cards and Counters, Wayne from The Dope Sheet, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

The Dark Tower (Columbia Pictures) – Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Rated PG-13 for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action.
Tag Line: There are other worlds than these.
Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McCaunaughey, Katheryn Winnick
Plot: The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.
Running Time: 95 minutes

Chris: Being a King fan, I feel a bit sheepish in saying that the epic work of his literary career is among my least favorite of his creative endeavors. That said, Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey are awesome which make this one worth checking out.
Jim: I’m a King fan, but for some reason I’ve never had any interest in reading the Dark Tower books. Despite the great cast, this looks like a pretty blah and routine actioner/thriller/whatever.

Detroit (Annapurna Distribution) – Drama/Crime/History
Rated R for strong violence and pervasive language
Tag Line: It’s time we knew.
Starring: John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith
Plot: Amidst the chaos of the Detroit Rebellion, with the city under curfew and as the Michigan National Guard patrolled the streets, three young African American men were murdered at the Algiers Motel.
Running Time: 143 minutes

Jim: Looks like another winner from the red-hot Kathryn Bigelow. A great example of how a trailer can effectively sell a movie.
Chris: Intensity! Based on a true story, and definitely makes me want to know more. I’ll be checking it out.

Check out The Dope Sheet Movie review here!

Wind River (The Weinstein Company) – Action/Crime/Mystery
Rated R for strong violence, a rape, disturbing images, and language
Tag line: Nothing is harder to track than the truth.
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Kelsey Asbille
Plot: An FBI agent teams with a town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation.
Running Time: 107 minutes

Chris: Two Avengers reunited. Love the setting for this murder mystery, with the feeling of isolation leading to greater danger. I am in.
Jim: A pretty lackluster trailer (and come on, not even touting the names of the actors—they’re two of the Avengers, man!) Pass.

Tickets Purchased:  One for The Dark Tower (Chris) and one for Detroit (Jim)

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Trailer Snark (July 8th, 2016 Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Last Week: Finding Dory took first place for the third week in a row!  The popular sequel made another $41.9M for a total domestic haul of $372.2M to date.  The next three spots were occupied by films making their debut.  The Legend of Tarzan was the runner-up with $38.1M, followed by The Purge:  Election Year at $30.8M and The BFG at $19.5M.  Independence Day 2 closed out the top five with another $16.5M to add to its $72.6M total.  The rest of the top ten was as follows:  Central Intelligence ($12.3M/$91.7M), The Shallows ($9M/$35.2M), Free State of Jones ($4.1M/$15.1M), The Conjuring 2 ($3.8M/$95.2M), and Now You See Me 2 ($2.9M/$58.6M).  Let’s take a look at this week’s new entries.

The Secret Life of Pets (Universal) – Family/Comedy
Rated PG for action and some rude humor
Tag Line: Ever wonder what your pets do when you’re not home?
Starring: Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell
Plot: A terrier named Max regularly invites his friends to hang out at his place while his owner is gone, but his quiet life is upended when said owner also takes in Duke, a stray mutt whom Max instantly dislikes.
Running Time: 90 minutes

Jessica: Looks cute, I’m not a huge fan of kids movies, but I’d probably watch this at home.
Chris: I am all over this one.  Haven’t been this excited by a kid’s film in ages.  Trailer had me in stitches.
Jim: Trailers for this have been shown at just about every kids movie since Christmastime—it’s still funny, definitely a go this weekend.
Ken: Adorable and hysterical. Any trailer that uses System of a Down is a winner in my book.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (20th Century Fox) – Comedy
Rated R for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some graphic nudity
Tag Line: They needed hot dates. They got hot messes.
Starring: Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza
Plot: Two brothers place an online ad to find dates for a wedding and the ad goes viral.
Running Time: 98 minutes

Ken: This movie looks dumb as…..
Jessica: Eh. This is one of those comedies that could be really good or being really, REALLY bad. Again, a home viewer (if that).
Chris: OK, maybe I am just inclined to amusement this week, but this looks like another laughfest.  Likely won’t be a theater view, but I’ll be looking for it on the small screen.
Jim: A good premise made to look crass and obnoxious.

Captain Fantastic (Bleecker Street Media) – Drama
Rated R for language and brief graphic nudity
Tag Line: He Prepared Them For Everything Except The Outside World
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Steve Zahn
Plot: In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.
Running Time: 118 minutes

Jim: Viggo seldom disappoints—this looks heartfelt and absorbing.
Ken: This screams counter culture and I love it. Probably won’t score big with the mainstream but I’ll definitely be checking this out.
Jessica: Okay, this one got me. I’ll admit to being sold when I saw Viggo’s name, I mean, you cannot go wrong with Lord Aragorn in anything. The trailer made me laugh and cry so to me that’s a good sign
Chris: Could it be three winners in a row?  Might be tough finding this limited release film in theaters, but this film about a man who attempts to raise his family off the grid only to have them forced back into society looks compelling and heartfelt.

Cell (Saban Films) – Horror/Thriller
Rated R for disturbing violent content, terror, brief sexuality and language
Tag Line: When everyone is connected, no one is safe.
Starring:  Samuel L Jackson, John Cusack
Plot: When a mysterious cell phone signal causes apocalyptic chaos, an artist is determined to reunite with his young son in New England.
Running Time: 98 minutes

Chris: I love Stephen King and will watch any adaptation of his novels.  This one took a long time to land a distributor, which is a concern.
Jim: I’m a Stephen King fan, so I should be looking forward to this. The book was good— one would hope for a Carrie or Shawshank Redemption. This looks too much like a run of the mill zombie flick though, so  I might end up disappointed.
Ken: The premise is terrible but the execution looks tremendous. Pop culture is already overly saturated with zombies, do we really need one more?
Jessica: This is one of my all-time least favorite Stephen King books (and I love King) so I am less than excited about this one. It might be a home watch if I’m forced to see it.

Tickets Purchased:  Three for The Secret Life of Pets (Ken, Jim, and Chris) and One for Captain Fantastic (Jessica)

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