EYG Top Ten Sports Biopics

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Welcome back to the EYG version of the Top Ten Show.  This week’s topic is Sports Biopics.  Again, thanks to John Rocha and Matt Knost for their entertaining weekly podcast that provides us with the topic for the week.  Here is a link to their show.

So at first, I wasn’t sure I could find enough to make out this list, but then I did a little digging and discovered that there were more than I thought and that several of my favorite sports movies were actually true stories.

There are several on my list this week that might be closer to biopics on the whole teams, and, while the Top Ten guys eliminated those from their lists, I am keeping them on mine.

One big problem with my list in this topic is… technically I have never seen Raging Bull.  I know…I know… but I haven’t seen it.  So I am leaving it off the list with the full knowledge that it should probably be there.

Anyway… here we go.

Image result for the rookie#10.  The Rookie.  This is the story of a left handed reliever named Jim Morris, a high school coach who was, at one point, a former pitcher in the minors.  He had tore up his shoulder and had to retire.  Years later, Morris was coaching and his team seemed to believe that his fastball might still be there.  And this was his comeback as a 40 year old rookie.

 

Image result for beyond the mat#9.  Beyond the Mat.  Matt Knost included this one on his list and I thought it was a great choice.  It really showed the dark side of the world of professional wrestling.  Now, I do believe that it specifically went out of its way to look for the darkness and to target those at their lowest, but you cannot deny the drama of seeing Jake Roberts with his daughter or Mick Foley getting through the next match with so much pain.  I considered other WWE documentaries for this list, but in the end, I stuck with this one only.

 

Image result for the blind side#8.  The Blind Side.  Featuring the story of NFL player Michael Oher, who came from an impoverished background, in a home where his mother could not provide the kind of stable life needed, Michael wound up in the home of the Tuohy family.  They wound up adopting him and he found his way upon the grid iron.  Sandra Bullock won an Academy Award for her role in the film.

 

Image result for the fighter#7.  The Fighter.  David O. Russell’s film focusing on boxer Micky Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg, and his older half-brother, Dicky Eklund, played by Christian Bale.  Though much of the narrative of the film centers on Dicky, this is still the story of Micky Ward.  Wahlberg and Ward were apparently friends and that helped inspire Wahlberg to take the role.  I remember feeling so bad for Micky because of his brother that I was pulled in to the tale.

 

Image result for moneyball#6.  Moneyball.  Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane was at the head of a new push in Major League Baseball that would focus on numbers/stats that would become known as Sabermetrics.  Beane knew that as the GM of Oakland, he would never be able to compete with the big money teams like Yankees or Red Sox so he started to look at the numbers.  When a player became too expensive, replace him with less flashy players who you could combine to replace the missing stats.  This led to quite a revolution, whether good or bad, in MLB.  Brad Pitt was excellent as Beane.

 

Related image#5.  Rush.  I had no intentions or expectations of liking this movie.  I have never been a fan of auto racing and the trailers seemed to be heavy on areas that I did not like.  However, director Ron Howard brought the goods in this film detailing the story of Niki Lauda and James Hunt and the rivalry between the two of them during the Formula One seasons in the 1970s.  Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth really were fantastic in these roles and I loved Rush way more than I had any right to.

 

Image result for 42 jackie#4.  42.  I am a huge Dodger fan and the story of Jackie Robinson, MLB’s first black player, is a can’t miss.  I found this extremely entertaining, with great performances by Chadwick Boseman as Jackie and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey.  There are some unbelievable scenes shown here describing the terrible things Jackie had to go through just to play the game.  It makes one wonder how people can be so cruel to one another.

 

Related image#3. Foxcatcher.  This is the tragic story of Mark and David Schulz and their relationship with wrestling enthusiast John E. du Pont.  A relationship that saw the creation of the Foxcatcher wrestling training camp but led to the shooting of Dave by du Pont.  Steve Carell showed off his dramatic acting chops with a role that few had expected from him as du Pont.

 

Image result for miracle movie olympics#2.  Miracle.  “Do you believe in miracles?” shouted Al Michaels as the US hockey team defeated the USSR Hockey team in one of the biggest upsets in sports history.  Miracle tells the story of this team and the coach Herb Brooks.  The film does a great job of capturing what was perhaps the USA’s greatest Olympic moment ever.

 

Image result for remember the titans#1.  Remember the Titans.  Another film that really focuses more on a team than an individual, but Remember the Titans is my favorite football movie and when I realized that this is a true story, I had to put it on this list.  Denzel Washington is amazing as Coach Herman Boone, an African-Amercian man who faced not only challenges on the football field, but huge divides within his own locker room of a racial nature.  This is an amazing story showing how people can overcome race and become more than just an individual.  “We are the Titans.  Mighty, mighty Titans.”

 

So there is my list/  I do not have much of a list of honorable mentions for this topic.  As I said, I considered some of the excellent WWE videos that they created on their stars such as Jake Roberts, Dusty Rhodes, The Road Warriors, Bret Hart, but I decided to leave those off the list.

Other possible honorable mentions:  Coach Carter, Concussion, Unbroken, Race.

What I realize really is that I have not seen enough of this genre because a bunch of these are missing from my viewing.  Maybe I have to watch a few more of them.

EYG Top Ten Pixar Movies

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Welcome to the weekly Top Ten list.  Last week, John Campea did a top ten Pixar movies list  but I decided not to do one as well since I have been following the topics of the Top Ten Show- John Rocha and Matt Knost.  So instead, I wound up doing a movie review of Ratatouille, which I had never seen before and Campea had at #3.

I said I would do the Pixar list when the Top Ten Show did theirs.

Lo and behold, the next week… here it is.

Image result for finding dory#10.  Finding Dory.  The sequel to Finding Nemo, featuring the side character of Dory sounded like a risky chance.  Many times, when side characters get their own movies, you find out why they are meant to be side characters (psst.  Minions).  However, Dory did fall into that trap as the character, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, was charming and funny.  It was a huge financial success and beloved by the audience.  I will admit that this was my last minute addition, knocking a different film off the list.  This was a very good film and avoided any of the major problems some people thought was possible.

Image result for up pixar#9.  Up.  I considered leaving this one off the list too, but in the end, the first ten minutes or so of this movie won out and it made the list.  The first ten minutes of Up is just about the most emotional and gut punch of a film as you have ever seen.  The remainder of the film is average unfortunately.  Had the rest of the film matched the first part of the film, this could have been the best film of the studio.  However, it is not.  It is still somewhat decent and so…number 9.

Related image#8.  Toy Story 2.  The first of the Toy Story trilogy to appear on this list, Toy Story 2 was a solid sequel of the toys coming to life film.  The film continued to focus on Woody as he finds his way to the other toys in his series, only to find out that he was a valuable collectable from a TV series called “Woody’s Roundup.”  This was a creative way to continue the series and it also introduced us to the characters of Jessie the yodeling cowgirl and Stinky Pete (played by Joan Cusack and Kelsey Grammar, respectfully. 

Image result for ratatouille pixar#7.  Ratatouille.  The film that I just watched last week because I did not want to do a top ten list yet makes the list at #7.  I enjoyed this film very much and I am glad that I finally got the chance to watch it.  There were some things that I didn’t love (such as the constant yelling by Linguini), but I enjoyed the voice performance by Patton Oswalt and the use of the restaurant critic at the end of the film really brought the the heart it needed.  I never thought a cooking rat would be so much fun.

Image result for finding nemo#6.  Finding Nemo.  When a little fish gets lost in the great ocean, his father takes off to try and find his son.  The film has amazing characters, a dramatic story leading the characters through dangers (such as sharks) and so much emotion and charm that you can barely stand it.  The story of family is so important throughout Finding Nemo and you cannot help but cheer for these fish.

 

Related image#5.  Toy Story. The original of the trilogy has so much heart and set up one of the greatest friendships in movie history.  Woody and Buzz meet each other and they become such close friends once Woody gets past his jealousy over the new and cooler Buzz’s arrival.  The idea of the original is so creative and original and bring together the amazing Tom Hanks and Tim Allen in voice work.  Toy Story really helped put Pixar on the map and helped lead the way to two fantastic sequels (and apparently another one on its way).

Related image#4.  Coco.  John Rocha did not put Coco on his list because he did not want to spoil it as they were going to talk about it.  However, I have seen tweets from him indicating that he might put it at the top of a Pixar movie list.  There is no doubt that Coco is tremendous.  It is one of the most emotional journeys that you will ever take.  The ending of this movie, while somewhat predictable, will not fail to tear you up, in a good way.  Coco is a beautiful story of family and music.

Image result for the incredibles syndrome#3.  The Incredibles.  This is an amazing movie and perhaps the best version of the Fantastic Four ever seen.  Yes, I know the FF is not actually in this, but the family super hero team is represented her brilliantly.  The Incredibles have one of the greatest villains in any super hero film.  Syndrome is so relatable and understandable for his motives and he is truly scary with how he went from fan boy to villain.  Plus the line “Every one can be super.  And when every one’s super, no one will be.” is one of the best villainous lines ever.  Thankfully, they are finally getting around to making the long-overdue Incredibles 2.

Image result for bing bong inside out#2.  Inside Out.  I so loved this movie.  The genius of the set up is so amazing.  The emotions are inside your head and they are helping you live your life.  There was so much creativity in this movie that I can’t even imagine how someone sat down and created it all.  The functions that occurred in the brain is so clever that I could see ten more of these.  However, there is no doubt that Bing Bong is the moment that reached into your heart and ripped it out.  I bawled my eyes out every time I saw the film.  And it was over an imaginary friend.  Inside Out is brilliant.

Image result for toy story 3#1.  Toy Story 3.  Toy Story 3 is one of my favorite movies,not just Pixar movies, but movies of all time.  Toy Story 3 is just tense from beginning to end.  I believe that Lotso is one of the greatest villains of film history.  I love him so much and I understand the motivation of the character more than just about any villain.  Lotso is so great, but there is more here than just Lotso.  Our favorite toys find themselves in all kinds of horrible situations. In fact, there was one scene in particular where, when I watched it for the first time, I actually thought that Buzz, Woody and the gang were really going to die.  There are some truly dark moments that had so scare some of the kids watching.  Then, the ending when Andy gives his toys away before leaving for college crushes you emotionally.  Toy Story 3 may be as close to perfect as you will get.

Honorable mentions:  A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc. and Good Dinosaur (a film that some people hated but I think gets a bad rap).

 

 

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EYG Top Ten Historical Figures in Film

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“In a world crying out for a Top Ten show…”

I have been loving the Top Ten Show with John Rocha and Matt Knost on the Schmoes Know Network, and I have been trying to follow along each week and make my own list here at EYG.  It has been great fun, and you can listen to the show here.

I made a copy of the title page from YouTube of the Top Ten Show and added EYG to it so there could be a title heading to this weekly column.  I wish I knew who had created the artwork for the Top Ten Show so I could give that person credit for that person’s remarkable creative vision.  I love it so here it is, with the EYG logo added.

This week’s episode included special guest Rachel “The Crusher” Cushing and the three of them went through the list of Top Ten Historical Figures in Film.

I will be honest… I cheated several times on the list.  Rocha, Knost and Cushing thought the list needed to disqualify those movies of “cultural” figures but I am including those, at least a couple of them.  I am missing a chunk of this knowledge as this would not be my best category, so I am including what I want.  One of the rules I did “basically” adhere to was the person in the film should have been known to me prior to the film.  I follow that rule (for the most part).

Image result for gandhi movie#10.  Gandhi.  This one was one that I almost dropped off the list, but it felt like a movie that really fit this category and so I decided to add it.  I have only seen this one time in high school history class (thanks Mr. Hillebrand).  Ben Kinsley was magnificent in the role of the Indian leader.  The film was an Oscar winner and it deserves the praise.

Related image#9.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the titular roles of the outlaws like no others.  Written by William Goldman (who also wrote my all time favorite movie, The Princess Bride), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid became a cultural iconic film that inspired many future films.  Add to that a great use of “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” and you have got something.

Image result for jim carrey man on the moon#8.  Man on the Moon.  The first of my “cheats” but this one was mentioned in the honorable mention by Matt Knost, and I really liked this film, so I am giving it a slot.  Jim Carrey, who starred as comedian Andy Kaufman, literally became Any Kaufman and drove people crazy.  His commitment to the role was phenomenal, if not insane.  I loved the story of Kaufman and how the film included the world of professional wrestling that Kaufman entered looking for that perfect way to interact with people.  Kaufman, many times, seemed like a comedian who was only trying to do things that HE found funny, and this movie shows that beautifully.

Image result for frost nixon#7.  Frost/Nixon.  This was a tremendous film that showed the relationship between these two men in a dramatic and stunning manner.  Watergate was over and Richard Nixon continues to compulsively require a chance to explain himself.  The film does a great job of looking at the neuroses that drove the former president and what led him to this  interview with David Frost.  The film also examined Frost and how he was believed to be below Nixon in intelligence, only to expertly lead the president into, basically, a confession.  Frank Langella and Martin Sheen give wonderful performances throughout the film.  It is compelling and dramatic and it is the first time that Nixon appears on the list (though not the last time- you may be surprised on the next one).

Image result for bonnie and clyde movie#6.  Bonnie and Clyde.  Another example of  outlaw movies, Bonnie and Clyde focuses on the infamous pair of bank robbers who wound up in a bloody pile on the road.  Such a tragic ending that, in the film, really comes out of nowhere and ends the film suddenly.  I had not expected such a brisk end to the film and in such a violent manner.  I knew that they were killed in a riddle of bullets, but to see it happen in an instant really drove home the way these two lived their lives.  Great performances too from Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway and Gene Hackman as well.

Image result for lincoln spielberg#5.  Lincoln.  I am with John Rocha on this one.  I probably wouldn’t have put this one on a list of my personal favorites if the performance of Daniel Day-Lewis had not been so eerily perfect.  It really was as if Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, stepped out of our collective consciousness and onto the screen to be directed by  Steven Spielberg.  Daniel Day-Lewis really cemented himself as an acting auteur.  While the film was entertaining, there is simply no denying how much the performance of Day-Lewis dominated everything about it.

Related image#4.  42.  My next “cheat” although I think one could argue that Jackie Robinson could be (or should be) considered a historical figure for what he did for baseball and for the African-American world.  I really enjoyed this movie as a baseball fan and as a Dodger fan.  The amount of brutality and cruelty that Jackie Robinson faced was off the charts and those ball players who refused to accept the man really displayed the ugliest aspect of ourselves.  It was great watching Jackie win them over with his play and his attitude.  Chadwick Boseman is great as Jackie and Harrison Ford is transcendent as Branch Rickey.  I loved this movie.

Image result for braveheart#3.  Braveheart.  This was another one that I thought might be a cheat, and then Matt Knost made it (spoiler) his number one film on his list, so I immediately added it back on mine.  Sure, Mel Gibson is a piece of work (another one of those is coming up at #2) but that does not take away from this triumph of a film.  Sure, it absolutely took historical liberties with the character of William Wallace, but an argument could be made that all of the films on this list may have done the same.  The fight scenes are still unbelievably epic and several of the monologues are iconic. Braveheart is the best Mel Gibson has ever been and certainly was the peak of his career.

Image result for elvis and nixon movie#2.  Elvis & Nixon.  I, like most, am saddened by the news about Kevin Spacey.  I liked to think that the actors I watch on the screen aren’t pieces of scum, but apparently, they are just as likely to be horrible people as any other occupation.  Who’d have guessed.  So, when compiling this list, I thought about this film.  It tells the story of a time when Elvis Presley arrived at the White House to have a meeting with President Nixon.  There is photographic proof that the meeting took place, although much of what was discussed is speculation.  This is a funny and real presentation and I really loved the movie.  Neither Spacey nor Michael Shannon tried to imitate their famous character.  Instead, they took what made them larger than life and added that to their performance.  Shannon, in particular, was perfect.  And the film was deeper than it had any right to be. This was a wonderful hidden gem that I hope people don’t lose track of because Kevin Spacey is a horrible man.

Image result for apollo 13 movie#1.  Apollo 13.  Another Ron Howard film to appear on the list is the final “cheat” of the group.  The historical figure was the crew of the ill-fated Apollo 13 vessel on the way to the moon only to have technical problems, stranding them in space.  Apollo 13 was an amazing film that brought us into that capsule with Jim Lovell, so wonderfully played by Tom Hanks, and the rest of the crew.  A brilliant cast gave great performances across the board bringing this compelling and fascinating story to life.  Some claimed that this was the greatest moment in NASA history as they are able to save the crew through intelligence and ingenuity.  This film is consistently rewatchable and remarkably entertaining and deserves a spot at the top of this list whether it be a cheat or not.

Honorable mention:  The People vs. Larry Flynt, The Social Network, Theory of Everything, My Week with Marilyn, Selma, Ed Wood.

EYG Top Ten DC Movies

This week’s Top Ten Show, in honor of this weekend’s release of Justice League, put together the Top Ten list of best DC movies.  John Rocha and Matt Knost also welcomed Jason Inman to the show.

Now, on my list, I stuck with the rules the Top Ten Show uses– only those films that have a theatrical release will be counted.  That means some of my favorite DC Comics animated films will not be on this list.  Films such as Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker, Batman: Sub Zero,  Flashpoint: Paradox, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Batman: Assault on Arkham will not be included even though they are great.

Now, there will also be a lot of Batman on this list.  I would like to have spread it out more, but there just have not been enough good DC films yet.  I hope that they are now on the right track and this list could be very different in a few years.

Image result for batman 1966 movie#10.  Batman (1966).  This is my guilty pleasure that I decided would make this list.  As a kid, Adam West was my Batman and I loved this movie.  When I saw it as a child, I was enthralled with the heroics of the show and as I got older I loved the ridiculousness of the camp.  The Bat Shark repellent is just unbelievably funny.  And I still might find myself using the line, “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.”  Sure this is not the serious, Dark Knight Batman that has been so popular, but Adam West was special and I loved this film.

Related image#9.  Batman (1989).  This one does not hold up as well, but I found myself placing it above the others from the honorable mention category and I couldn’t put those others ahead of it.  Jack Nicholson was a fantastic Joker, and, honestly, this helped kick the super hero movie genre into high gear.  And yes, this series of movies also nearly killed it with Batman and Robin.  People believed that Michael Keaton was a terrible choice as Batman, and he just became, arguably, the best ever.

Image result for batman begins#8.  Batman Begins.  The first of the Christopher Nolan trilogy is one of the great movie origin story around.  The film took Bruce Wayne and showed the process of him becoming Batman in his training in the Himalayas .  He does it with a great new Batman in Christian Bale and the villainous Ra’s Al Ghoul.  Batman Begin beautifully sets up the fantastic sequel that will follow it.  Batman Begins helped save the character of Batman from the horrific Batman and Robin (the second time I mentioned that terrible film).

Image result for watchman#7.  Watchmen.  Our first non-Batman movie.  I actually enjoyed this more than some people.  Watchmen the mini series is one of the greatest comic series ever (and is in the EYG Hall of Fame) and the film does an admirable job of adapting it.  Rorschach is done as well as it could possibly have been.  Rorschach is like the Wolverine of the film and his fate is amazingly tragic.  Dr. Manhattan is perfectly used in this movie.  The Comedian is portrayed brilliantly by Jeffrey Dean Morgan.  Watchmen might be a bit overlong, but it is a great adaptation.

Related image#6.  Batman:  Mask of the Phantasm.  This is one of the animated films that had been released theatrically, and it is nice to have one of the animated films on the list.  This is connected to the Batman: The Animated Series universe and that is one of the greatest animated series ever.  This is one of the best Batman movies around.  The movie features an original villain in the Phantasm that was created for this, and he fit in with the Batman rogue gallery.  We get the classic voice acting by Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker.

Image result for v for vendetta#5.  V for Vendetta.  To this day, I love to quote “Remember, Remember, the fifth of November” line from this film as our hero, V, wears the iconic Guy Fawkes mask.  And V for Vendetta is a great movie that rages against the corruption of government in ways that we had never seen before.  V’s promo with all the words starting with v is another one of my favorite moments in the film.  Even though Alan Moore, the writer of the original graphic novel, hated the adaption, I loved it.

Image result for lego batman#4.  The Lego Batman Movie.  This felt like it was not going to work because there was just not enough here to make a full movie.  And yet, Lego Batman worked brilliantly and could be considered one of the best Batman movies ever made.  Will Arnett is a surprisingly solid Batman and the film does a real strange thing and made the film feature Robin.  From earlier this year, Lego Batman is one of the best super hero films of the year.  It is hilarious.  It worked as well as you could imagine.

Image result for wonder woman gal gadot#3.  Wonder Woman.  After Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad, the DC Universe had its troubles and there were people really worried.  Then, here came Wonder Woman, and the film was tremendous.  Gal Gadot, who was questioned whether she was capable of playing the role, just dominated the role.  She was an inspiration to people everywhere, but really spoke to women.   The sequence of the film at the No Man’s Land in World War I was one of the best scenes in any movie this year.  I was not a huge fan of the CGI ending sequence, but it did not deter from this wonderful movie.  Wonder Woman is an important movie and a true success in the DCEU.

Image result for superman the movie#2.  Superman: The Movie.  You’ll believe a man can fly.  One of the great super hero movies of all time, Superman starred the great EYG Hall of Famer Christopher Reeve as the perfect rendition of Kal-El, the last son of Krypton.  There is a fun relationship between Superman and Lois Lane (played by Margot Kidder) and they had one of the great scenes with Superman catching Lois, saying, “I’ve got you, ma’am.” And Lois Lane says, “You’ve got me?  Who’s got you?”  Sure the reversal of the earth to save Lois’s life is a bit cheesy and not the best use of superpowers, but this film survives the bit.  Superman: The Movie is a magnificent movie.

Related image#1.  The Dark Knight.  The best DC movie of all time is the second film of the Nolan trilogy for several reasons.  First, we see great action with Batman.  Second, the film is really a crime drama with batman involved.  Thirdly, the film took some real chances, including a recast.  Oh… and there is the Joker played by Heath Ledger, who posthumously was awarded an Oscar for this performance.  Some might claim that this is more of the Joker’s movie than Batman’s and that might be a truth, but I don’t see that as a negative.  We have seen Batman many times.  This was a new take on the genre.  And The Dark Knight is arguably perhaps the greatest comic book movie ever.  Do you want to see a magic trick?

Honorable mentions:  Losers, Red, Batman: The Return of the Caped Crusaders, Superman 2.

EYG Top Ten Ensemble Movies

This week’s Top Ten Show with John Rocha and Matt Knost was another good listen.  This week’s topic was Top Ten Ensemble movies.  This was a giant topic and I have some interesting choices that did not make either John or Matt’s lists.  That, of course, is okay.

There are so many possible films here.  I wound up having some films on the list that I feel should be on the list, against some of my own personal favorites.  I went back and forth with which ones I should include.  I finally made some decisions.

Image result for the breakfast club#10.  The Breakfast Club.  The film that was like the representation of the Brat Pack in Hollywood, The Breakfast Club showed what happened when kids of all ages are forced to have detention on a Saturday morning.  The film depended on the charisma of the actors in detention and these characters were brilliantly portrayed.  They felt like real kids and they faced real problems.  Some of the best work that all of these actors ever had.

Image result for galaxy quest#9.  Galaxy Quest.  By Grabthar’s Hammer, this parody of Star Trek became so much more.  The film itself had so much heart and humor that it became a classic all its own.  Featuring Tim Allan paying a fantastic homage to William Shatner and the ever amazing Alan Rickman stealing every scene he was in as Dr. Lazarus aka Alexander Dane.  There was serious emotion in the film, unexpectedly.  It was so much fun.

Related image#8.  Stand By Me.  The story of four boys heading off to find the body of a dead kid is a tad dark.  You would expect that from a Stephen King short story, but Stand By Me is as wonderfully emotional and dramatic a movie than you will ever see.  The young cast truly brought the goods and they were able to create characters that you will never forget.

 

Image result for a league of their own#7.  A League of Their Own.  I love this movie.  The cast is one of the best parts of this.  Not only do you get Tom Hanks and Geena Davis, but there is Rosie O’Donnell, Madonna, Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, Bitty Schram, Bill Pullman, Anne Ramsey.   The story is one of the best of the baseball movies.  It also has some of the best quotes of all time.  Sure, everyone loves “There’s no crying in baseball”, but my personal favorite is “It’s supposed to be hard.  If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great.”

Image result for pulp fiction#6.  Pulp Fiction.  The fantastic film from Quentin Tarantino that was told out of order, which revitalized John Travolta’s career, which made a big deal of Royale with cheese, and where you found out the answer to “what happened to Zed?”  I was completely floored by Pulp Fiction and I did not expect to love the film as much as I did.  I was a huge Bruce Willis fan at the time, but honestly, the whole Bruce Willis segment made me uneasy.  The easy chemistry between Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson is what made this a classic.

Related image#5.  Lord of the Rings: Two Towers.  This is actually my favorite of the three movies.  I know the Return of the King gets all the accolades, but tome, there was just something perfect about the Two Towers.  I was completely enthralled the entire time I watched this film.  Every time they switched scenes and went to a different group, it felt like the exact right time.  Each switch made me more excited to see what was going to happen next.  And, of course, Treebeard!  The Battle of the Hornburg at Helm’s Deep was one of the most expansive and magnificent battles ever put on film and I loved every second of it.  The film flew by and it only made me more excited for the end of the trilogy.

Related image#4.  This is Spinal Tap.  This one is turned up to eleven.  This is Spinal Tap, the brilliant mockumentary by Rob Reiner featuring the out of touch heavy metal band Spinal Tap that became a real heavy metal band, putting out a couple of albums and going on tour.  Life imitating art?  With a great cast that included Christopher Guest, Michael McKeon, Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, a bunch of drummers and Tony Hendra.  This film became a cult classic and it is one of the funniest films Rob Reiner ever did.

Related image#3.  The Godfather.  I thought about putting it at number one, but honestly, I really think this is a great movie, but it is not one of my all-time favorites.  It is here on the list out of respect for the film and because it is one of the great ensemble films ever made.  I actually only saw it for the first time earlier this year at a Fathom event and I enjoyed it very much.  I know it is one of the greatest movies ever made, and that is really why it is on this list.  Great performances and an extremely influential film in Hollywood, the Godfather in the top five was an offer I just couldn’t refuse.

Image result for the avengers#2.  The Avengers.  I thought about leaving this off the list, but honestly, it fit the category extremely well, so I had to include it.  I mean, this is Embrace Your Geekness.  Joss Whedon brilliantly gave his entire cast moments to shine, while never ignoring anyone (maybe Hawkeye).  The Avengers had magic about it.  Never before had we seen all of these characters of their own movies franchise come together to assemble.  The Avengers solidified the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Some people never believed that The Avengers would work and it worked better than any film before it and it paved its way to a ton of movies in the MCU.

Image result for princess bride ensemble#1.  The Princess Bride.  This was another movie that I was not sure I should include on this list, but, it is my favorite movie of all time and it is an ensemble so I acquiesced.  I cannot say enough great things about The Princess Bride.  It is the most quotable movie.  It has amazing heart and emotion.  There is true love.  Miracles! What else could you want.  The film rests on the great chemistry between its cast, on both the heroes and villains side.  It introduced the movie going public to Robin Wright.  We had Andre the Giant.  Cary Elwes.  Mandy Patinkin.  The amazing Wallace Shawn.  Billy Crystal.  Carol Kane.  Fred Savage.  Peter Falk.  Chris Sarandon.  Christopher Guest.  I almost left this off the list, but that would truly be inconceivable.

Honorable mention:  Moonrise Kingdom, Airplane!, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Sin City, Super 8, Parenthood (1989), Boogie Nights.

Top Ten Marvel Movies

This week’s Top Ten Show is epic as John Rocha and Matt Knost welcomed comic book writer and recent Eisner Award winner Marc Andreyko to the show and they discussed their top ten Marvel Comics movies. This is not just the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but any character from Marvel Comics.

So here is my own list.

Image result for x-men 2#10.  X-Men 2.  This was just such a good X-Men movie.  Not only do they bring Nightcrawler in and place him in a brilliant opening scene in the White House, but we get a bit of an adaptation to one of the greatest X-men stories ever, God Loves Man Kills.  This is such a solid movie that also gives us the most brutal version of Wolverine we ever see in a movie that is not rated R.  And it ends with the Phoenix.

Image result for spiderman 1 upside down kiss#9.  Spider-man.  I was never as scared of a movie as I was with Spider-man.  I don’t think I could have handled it if this movie was not good.  Those fears were gone as I saw Uncle Ben die in Peter’s arms.  Sure, it may feel that this movie does not hold up as well, but I don’t care.  The battle with the Goblin was tremendous at the end and gave me goose bumps.  Spider-man is my absolutely favorite character in any format and this movie did him well.

Image result for deadpool movie#8.  Deadpool. This never should have worked.  The character of Deadpool should have been completely and forever ruined in movies by X-Men: Origins.  But star Ryan Reynolds would not accept that and he went above and beyond to convince FOX to let them make this movie the way it should have been made.  And it was tremendous.  Funny.  Exciting.  Original.  Rated R for language and violence.  Fourth wall breaking.  Deadpool had one of the greatest love stories in any comic book movie ever.  Deadpool had perhaps the greatest marketing campaign ever.  Everything came together as a perfect storm and Deadpool became one of the top super hero movies ever.

Related image#7.  Spider-man 2.  The follow up to the Sam Raimi Spider-man became one of my favorite movies in a long time.  Until the recent golden age of super hero movies, this was my favorite super hero movie for quite a while.  Doc Ock was a great villain.  The movie adapted the “Spidey No More” storyline in an original manner.  And it has one of the best sequences of any of these movies with the train scene.  This is still one of the best action sequences in any movie, not just comic book movies.  I love this movie.

Related image#6.  Spider-man: Homecoming.  This is the third Spider-man movie on the list and I think it has surpassed Spider-man 2 for me.  Tom Holland is the greatest Spider-man we have gotten because he is so fresh, so young, such a different take on the character… high school!  Add to the film the great Michael Keaton as the Vulture and what more can you want.  Robert Downey Jr. is here too, playing Tony Stark in just the right amount.  This feels like Spider-man, the Spider-man I grew up loving.  And he is now in the MCU.  Homecoming is fantastic.

Related image#5.  Captain America: Winter Soldier.  This movie took the MCU in a different direction and made Captain America as one of the major players in the world.  Chris Evans was good as Cap in First Avenger and The Avengers, but Winter Soldier was the real first time that Evans felt as if he were Steve Rogers.  There was so much awesome about Captain America: Winter Soldier.  I will never forget how the audience gasped when the Winter Soldier revealed himself to be Bucky.  I thought everybody knew that, but that, I guess, is the comic book geek in me.  Then there was Robert Redford. We live in a world where Robert Redford played a villain in a comic book movie.  This is awesome.

Image result for gotg 1#4. Guardians of the Galaxy.  How does a movie with a talking raccoon and a walking tree that can only say the words “I am Groot” and a crew of characters that even some comic book fans did not know be anything but a failure?  This was the biggest risk Marvel Studios took, and it paid off big time.  On the Top Ten Show, Marc Andreyko said this was the best Star Wars sequel there ever was, and that is such a wonderful compliment. Guardians of the Galaxy was full of emotion and characters and fun and it turned into one of the great surprises of the genre.

Related image#3.  Avengers.  How do you catch this type of magic?  You have set this film up with years of films- two Iron Man movies, Cap: First Avenger, Incredible Hulk, Thor… all building to feature these iconic characters to the screen together for the first time.  And magic it was.  Facing Loki and the alien invasion of New York, there was action, amazing humor and great characters.  Moments like Hulk ragdolling Loki, Hulk sucker punching Thor, Loki killing Agent Coulson, Cap using his skills to impress a cop into following his orders, Thor vs. Iron Man, Iron Man and Cap bickering, Schwarma… it was just perfect.

Related image#2.  Logan.  This year’s best comic book movie (so far) is so emotional and powerful that it is truly more of a western than it is a super hero movie.  Logan is older, struggling to get by, when his world is turned upside down by a young girl named Laura.  Patrick Stewart reprised his role as Charles Xavier, but in a way that we have never seen before.  If Patrick Stewart does not get nominated for an Oscar, it is a total crime.  There are scenes in this movie that I had tears flowing every time that I saw the film.  This is the best use of Wolverine in any X-Men movie and it sends Hugh Jackman out on the highest of high notes.  Logan is a masterpiece.

Related image#1.  Captain America: Civil War.  This is my favorite comic book movie.  I love the use of the friendship/rivalry between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark and the inclusion of Bucky Barnes brought the stakes that you rarely see in a Marvel movie.  The airport scene is perfection in action fights.  It introduces Black Panther and Spider-man into the MCU.  Some people do not like the use of Helmut Zemo in this film, but I disagree.  I actually think he is one of the best Marvel villains in a long time.  The Russo Brothers did something here that was unbelievably difficult.  And they did it and because of their success here, they get to do Avengers: Infinity War.  Will that one top this list by the end of 2018?

There you go.  Honorable mentions go to X-Men: Days of Future Past, Iron Man, Captain America: First Avenger, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Doctor Strange and Ant Man.

Top 10 Movie Monsters

I have been enjoying the podcast of the Top Ten, with John Rocha and Matt Knost.  I became a fan of them when they did their show on Collider Video, and I was upset when it was cancelled.  Thankfully, it has returned to a podcast format recently.   I had considered following along with them and giving my own list for the topic they put forth, but I just had not done so.  However, this week’s list was Top Ten movie monsters and this one felt right up my alley.

So, thanks to the Top Ten show, which can be found at this link here, I am going to give my own personal Top 10 movie monsters list.

The first two on this list are some favorites of mine that are actually in more humorous movies, but since this is my list….

Image result for audrey ii#10.  Audrey II (Little Shop of Horrors).  I love Audrey II.  That plant is one mean, green mother from outer space, and he’s bad.  Little Shop of Horrors is one of my favorite movie musicals around and the movie does not work without the blood-consuming plant.  Voiced by the late, great Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, Audrey II had several classic songs during the film.  The plant has a great character design and truly just blows into Seymour’s life before he ever knew what was happening.  Though it is a comedy, Audrey II is a classic monster.

Image result for stay puft marshmallow man#9.  Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (Ghostbusters).  “What did you do, Ray?”  That line is delivered perfectly by Bill Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman as they waited for the coming of Gozer the Gozarian.  Gozer wanted them to choose his form, and the other Ghostbusters tried to clear their minds.  However, Ray Stantz could not do it. Ray innocently thought of something from his childhood that would never cause him pain.  Mr. Stay Puft.  Unfortunately for all of them, the gigantic marshmallow man had other ideas and required the desperate measure of crossing the streams.

Image result for freddy krueger#8.  Freddy Krueger (Nightmare of Elm Street).  Honestly, I have never been a big fan of Freddy Krueger.  He makes this list out of simple iconic stature.  The concept of Freddy Krueger, a monster who can attack you in your dreams, is a brilliant concept and is clearly why this character has withstood many years and several really bad movies.  His iconic nature cannot be debated, and Robert Englund did a tremendous job bringing the monstrous being to life inside your head.

Related image#7.  Predator.  “I ain’t got time to bleed.”  Sorry Jesse, but you are going to have to find the time.  Predator is one of my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger movies around and a big part of it is the apparently unbeatable hunter that is the Predator.   I am looking forward to the return of the Predator in the rebooted movie series with Shane Black.

 

Related image#6.  Xenomorphs (Aliens).  These monsters were so cool, that Marvel Comics blatantly ripped them off with one of my favorite Marvel space creature, the Brood.  Xenomorphs are so dangerous and creepy and they seemingly can survive even the poor prequel movies that have come out recently.

Related image#5.  Frankenstein’s Monster.  He is one of the most tragic of the movie monsters.  It was not his fault that Victor Frankenstein couldn’t leave well enough alone.  Frankenstein’s Monster did not understand what he was doing when he threw that little girl down the well.  He did not understand why the people were coming after him with torches.  This character has seen so many variations of him, from Boris Karloff to Peter Boyle to Aaron Eckhart, some great, some not.  But Frankenstein’s Monster will always be more than just a monster.

Related image#4.  King Kong.  The giant ape from Skull Island.  If only he can keep away from the Empire State Building.  Kong is a fantastic movie monster who was also a tragic story.  Beauty twas what killed the beast.  King Kong has a big future coming as he takes on one of the classic monsters down the road (a certain giant lizard) and because of that, Kong required a bit of an upgrade.  Still, there are very few monsters as beloved as Kong.

Image result for jaws eats quint#3.  Jaws.  One of the best movies on this list.  The shark from Jaws was traumatizing for many people who loved to swim.  As a kid, I remember being scared out of my mind when the great white shark hopped itself up on to the Orca, which slowly collapsed beneath its weight, and Quint is slowly devoured by the monstrous shark.   Spielberg brilliantly uses the fact that the mechanical shark did not work to create amazing suspense by not showing the shark.  Jaws is one of the best movies of all time and, because of that, the giant shark belongs on this list.

Image result for pennywise#2.  Pennywise (It) This was one of my favorite movies of the year and our new clown had huge shoes to fill.  While the old mini series was not a great as many remembered, Tim Curry was unanimously credited as the best part of that series.  So Bill Skarsgård had a real challenge, and he just crushed it.  2017’s It was something special.  The scene with the slide projector was just about as scary and as intense as any scene this year.  Pennywise has a definite chance to be the #1 villain of the year when we have our year end list, but here he comes up with number two movie monster of all time.

and …

Related image#1.  Godzilla.  Godzilla is the King of Monsters.  When this topic came up, Godzilla was the immediate character I thought about and I did not think it was even close.  Godzilla is one of my favorite movie characters.  I remember going to Sunday matinees at the movie theater that saw Godzilla fighting this group of terrible giant monsters, and I loved every second of it.  Sure the 1998 Godzilla was a travesty, but I did enjoy the recent reboot very much.  In fact, I gave it a pretty high score… and most likely over-judged it because I love Godzilla so much.  Still, that hoss fight at the end of the film was everything you wanted in a Godzilla movie.

Honorable mentions:  Dracula, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Dragon from Shrek, Lord Voldemort, Wolfman, Treebeard.

There you have it.  The EYG Top Ten Movie Monsters.  I am going to try to continue to add my own list after listening to the Top Ten show here on EYG because Rocha and Knost are inspirations for me.

Favorite Twin Peaks characters

We are just over one week to go until the 18 part mini series event that brings Twin Peaks back to the mind of the nation.  The EYG Hall of Fame series ran for two seasons in the 1990s, but left such an indelible mark that people have wanted a return since.  David Lynch answered all of the Peaks Freaks’ prayers with the new series on Showtime.

In celebration this week, we will be doing several special posts about Twin Peaks, counting down to the big moment next Sunday.

The first of these is my list for top ten favorite Twin Peaks characters.  Oh my goodness, there are a ton of great ones, but these are my personal top ten.

I’m starting out at #1 because it should not be a mystery…

And SPOILERS, by the way, if you have not yet watched the first series…what are you waiting for??????

 

Image result for twin peaks#1.  Dale Cooper.  The lead character of Twin Peaks was also the most compelling character, bringing a Zen-like philosophy with an attitude that you could not help but love.  Dale Cooper’s horrid fate at the end of the final episode of the season two was one of the driving forces behind the fans wishing to bring the series back.  You could not have Killer Bob in control of Agent Cooper for the rest of eternity and have it be okay.  Everything about Cooper made him the perfect character to come and uncover the dark underbelly of Twin Peaks.

Image result for twin peaks#2.  Sheriff Harry S. Truman.  The ultimate sidekick to Agent Cooper was the honest and brave sheriff of Twin Peaks with a name that should be easy to remember.  Sheriff Truman was more down to earth than Cooper, but he understood that sometimes there was darkness in the woods.  One of the Bookhouse Boys, Truman was not afraid to do what needed to be done to solve the crime.   The bromance between Cooper and Truman was one of the best ever on television.  You believed that they would do anything for one another because of a mutual respect.

Image result for twin peaks#3.  Leland Palmer/Killer Bob.  I’m placing the two of these characters together even though they could be considered separate, just because.  Leland Palmer, the killer of his own daughter Laura, was possessed by the evil spirit Killer Bob and he forced Leland to do the horrendous things that he did.  Imagine, ABC reportedly forced David Lynch to come up with an answer to the murder mystery… something Lynch did not want to do.  If ABC had stayed out of it, would we ever have gotten a resolution?  And what would Leland’s fate have been?  The scene where Leland realizes what he has done and kills himself is some of the most powerful acting of the series.  Ray Wise is a wonderful actor.

Image result for pete marshall twin peaks#4.  Pete Martell.  “She’s deadWrapped in plastic…”  These words were some of the first words we heard from Pete Martell, with his unusual accent.  Pete was the every man of Twin Peaks.  The man who could comment on the strange goings on and make you laugh at it.  Lines such as “Fellas, don’t drink that coffee! You’d never guess. There was a fish in the percolator! Sorry.” or “I feel like somebody taped my lips to the tailpipe of a bus.”  Pete was a wonderful character who we will miss terribly in the return.

Image result for twin peaks#5.  The Log Lady.  One of those characters that made you understand that Twin Peaks was unlike any television show before it, the Log Lady was an eccentric woman who carried around and spoke to a log.  And yet, she was not treated like a coo-coo.  She was treated like someone who knew more than just what was in front of everyone.  She was almost like a mystic of the woods, where owls aren’t what they seem and lodges could be white or red.  Plus, did we ever truly discover what her log saw that night?  Who knows.

Image result for twin peaks#6.  Deputy Andy Brennan.  Andy was more comedic relief int he story, as his love affair with receptionist Lucy brought its share of laughs.  I can remember Andy chasing his sperm sample across the floor of the sheriff’s station after he accidentally dropped it.  That was one of the best scenes with the deputy.  Andy was sweet and loving and really not made out for police work.  Yet, there he was, through the tears, doing what he could to help.

Image result for laura palmer wrapped in plastic#7.  Laura Palmer.  Actress Sheryl Lee became the most famous dead girl in the land as they pulled her body from the water in episode one of Twin Peaks.  We would learn more about Laura over the run of the series in flashbacks, in the Black Lodge and in the movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, but nothing ever changed the fact that she was one of the most tragic characters to ever grace the screen. Laura had such a terrible life and such a horrendous death- all brought about by her father, it is really sad when you think about it.  Still, she is probably the most iconic victim ever on TV.

Image result for dr jacoby#8.  Dr. Lawrence Jacoby.  When the town psychiatrist is weirder than most of the town, you know there is going ot be trouble, and that is certainly the fact with Dr. Lawrence Jacoby.  Jacoby dressed as eccentric as you could imagine, gaudy bright colors and Oriental robes.  He had different colored lenses in his glasses.  And he was at the heart of the murder mystery of Laura Palmer, being Laura’s doctor.  He was mostly a red (and blue) herring, but he was never going to be forgotten.

Image result for twin peaks#9.  Audrey Horne.  You know that they regretted making Audrey a high school student because of the tremendous chemistry that she had with Agent Cooper, but Cooper could not be involved with a high schooler.  Still, their relationship, as platonic as it had to be, was one of the highlights of the early episodes of Twin Peaks.  Despite her high school age, they still placed Audrey into some seriously adult settings, including the remarkably sensual moment where she tied a cherry stem with her tongue.

Related image#10.  Gordon Cole.  David Lynch himself as the hard of hearing head of the FBI, Gordon was always very funny.  He was more than a one-note joke, however, as he was a support to Cooper and back up for some of the more crazy aspects for season two.

 

 

Honorable mention:  Deputy Hawk, Nadine Hurley, Ben Horne, Catherine Martell, Albert Rosenfield, Bobby Briggs, Garland Briggs, Denise/Dennis Bryson, The Man from Another Place, The Giant, Jerry Horne, Windom Earle, Leo Johnson

 

RiffTrax Live

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I just came back from the latest live show presented by RiffTrax.  Michael Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, veterans of the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000, took the stage in Nashville and riffed the truly terrible film Samurai Cop, and, once again, made this film more entertaining than it ever had a chance to be.  This has been happening for several years, and it is something that I look forward to every time.

And there is an encore show on Tuesday, April 18th of Samurai Cop, and it is a must see.

It got me thinking about what were my favorite live performances by this trio.  Heading over to their web site at http://www.rifftrax.com/live, I found a long list of their live shows.  I have seen most of them (yes, I missed the classic Plan 9 form Outer Space), and I chose my ten favorite performances.

Honorable Mention:  Time Chasers, Starship Troopers ( I had trouble with the audio of this riff or it might be in the top ten), Godzilla, MST300 Reunion show

#10.  Carnival of Souls.

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Related imageA Halloween episode from last year, Carnival of Souls was a creepy cult film where Mary survived a car crash only to wind up as an organist at a church.  There is a pale figure that follows her and she winds up at an abandoned pavilion.  Undead fun with the Carnival of Souls.

#9, Sharknado 2

Image result for sharknado 2 rifftrax

Related imageThe sequel to the original ridiculous SyFy show was riffed by our guys and how can you not enjoy sharks inside tornadoes.    The Sharknado hits New York and we see such things as Judd Hirsch and a cameo from Jared from Subway.

#8.  Santa Claus Conquers the Martian

Image result for santa claus conquers the martians rifftrax

Related imageSanta Claus has been a key character in the world of the RiffTrax universe.  He has been in Christmas shorts, he met the Ice Cream Bunny, and he has conquered Martians.  This is the standout performance by Kris Kringle.  The silliness of the Martians, especially Droppo, and the actually kidnapping of Santa Claus to Mars, made this a must see Christmas riff.

#7. Sharknado

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Image result for sharknado rifftraxSharknado was a pop culture phenomenon.  No really.  I know it was hard to believe, but the film created a lot of buzz and discussion.  Perhaps the buzz was about how bad it was, but it was buzz nonetheless.  So when it was announced that the film was receiving the big screen RiffTrax Live treatment, I was extremely excited.  And the guys did not let me down.  I did not watch Sharknado on television, but I came out to see it being riffed.

#6.  Night of the Living Dead.

Image result for night of the living dead rifftrax

Image result for night of the living dead rifftrax duane jonesThis showed that even an influential classic can be riffed effectively by Kevin, Michael and Bill.  George Romero basically brought zombies into the pop culture (and where would television be today without them?) and also broke a lot of ground with an African American lead actor (Duane Jones as Ben).  Despite all of this, the RiffTrax presentation of the Night of the Living Dead is one of the best of all time.

#5.  Manos: The Hands of Fate.

Image result for manos hands of fate rifftrax

Image result for manos hands of fate rifftraxThis was the first live performance I saw with the RiffTrax gang.  I went to my Cinemark Theater in the Quad Cities not sure what to expect.  I had seen MST300 before, but I was totally unprepared for how much I enjoyed this version.  The way Kevin, Bill and Michael interacted with one another on stage, riffing this silly movie, taking the unintentional funny from the film and making it intentionally funny was amazing.  Manos: The Hands of Fate owes a lot to RiffTrax for making it a cult sensation.

#4. Anaconda

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Related imageI nearly died when that waterfall started going back up.  The timing of the joke was perfect and had me amazed.  With Jennifer Lopez, Owen Wilson, Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz, and Jon Voight, this is probably the film with the best cast to be riffed live.  Of course, it might be the most ridiculous Jon Voight performance of all time as well.

#3.  The Room.

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It was the kick off to The Crappening.  And how much more crappy can you get than this film directed by, written by, produced by and starred in by Tommy Wiseau.  Wiseau is so bad, he has become a cult classic, as has The Room (which is not he film with Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in it).  Featuring one of the more disturbing sex scenes ever to grace film, The Room is one of the worst films ever made.  And that makes it perfect for RiffTrax.

#2. Samurai Cop

Image result for samurai Cop rifftrax

Image result for samurai Cop rifftraxI really loved this tonight.  This was uncharacteristically a rated R film because of language and violence, something that RiffTrax Live usually does not include, but this one was well worth it.  Every “MF” let loose by the Police Captain Rohmer (easily my favorite character) was just tremendously funny.  I laughed throughout the showing of Samurai Cop.  The ridiculousness of the acting, the script and the stunts spoke for themselves.  The wig that seemed to constantly change.  The “Black Gift.”  The cutting off of the head of an informant.  Exploding cars.  Hand grenades that explode twice.  The gunfire.  Bill, Michael and Kevin were on absolute fire with this film.  There was also a fantastic song for the credits sung by Kevin Murphy all about the film.  If you have a chance to head to the encore, do it.  It is worth the time.

#1.  Birdemic: Shock and Terror.

Image result for birdemic rifftrax

Image result for birdemic rifftraxThis is my absolutely favorite RiffTrax Live performance.  I purchased it on the web site.  The first half of the movie where the film seemed like it was more about driving and parking than it was about any kind of killer birds are one thing, but when the birds actually show up, the film becomes even worse.  Some of the most embarrassingly poor special effects ever to find its way onto a screen.  The idea behind this “horror” movie makes one wonder why anyone would greenlight it.  Surely, everyone knew that what they were making was ridiculously bad.  Rod is probably the worst protagonist ever.  Watching him walk or pronounce “solar panels” tells you everything you need to know.  And the guys do not let up on the riffing of this character.  You know a film is something else when Kevin, Michael and Bill do not have to say anything, and the audience is cracking up.  In fact, some of my favorite moments of Birdemic: Shock and Terror is when Kevin, Bill and Michael start laughing at what they see on the screen.  No joke required.  It is the best of the worst and the top RiffTrax show ever.

The Next great Netflix YA adaption should be…..

I have been binging the brilliant new series on Netflix, 13 Reasons Why.  The show is based on the YA book of the same name that was written by Jay Asher.  I read the book last year and really enjoyed it.  It was original and emotional and I never thought it would be adapted on a television screen.  However, Netflix has shown me that it is possible.  In fact, Netflix’s model is considerably better than the YA movies that have populated the big screen over the last several years.  So what books could be the next great series from Netflix?  I have five suggestions.

Image result for dorothy must die#5.  Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige.  The Wizard of Oz is still a classic and everyone knows about the story.  So this book series where we see that Dorothy and her friends from Oz had returned to the land and became corrupted by the magic of the land is a truly awesome idea.  We follow a new Kansas girl, named Amy and her own trip to Oz.  The familiar being switched is a winning formula and a multiple episode series allows Danielle Paige’s story to really develop its new (yet old) characters.

 

Image result for 14 clines#4.  14 by Peter Clines.  I thought about offering up the Ex-Heroes series featuring super heroes and zombies because… I mean, it is super heroes and zombies.  What more could you want.  However, 14 is a story that would be even more interesting.  The mystery surrounding the building is compelling and could easily create a wonderfully frightening world with fantastic characters.

 

Image result for asylum roux#3.  Asylum by Madeleine Roux.  This horror series by Madeleine Roux brings the main character to a special college that was held inside an old asylum.  This book seriously creeped me out, and has had several sequels.  In the book, there are spooky photos throughout the novel that help create the mood.  With enjoyable characters and a well developed mystery, Asylum would be a great addition to Netflix’s catalog.

 

#2.  The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.  The Naturals are a group of amazing young people involved in a special group of profilers from the FBI.  The five main characters are as compelling as any characters in any of these books.  Each of them have a specialty.  Cassie can read people.  It was a skill she got from her mother, who was killed by a serial killer.  The five kids would be vitally important to this story and their complicated relationships are perfect for this series.

 

Image result for grasshopper jungle#1.  Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith.  This is a brilliant novel.  I absolutely loved this book.  I laughed through the entire thing.  It was original.  It was the story of some young teen named Austin Szerba in a small town in Iowa that has had an attack by giant sized Praying Mantis, leading to a potential apocalypse.  The book features all of the teen tropes of coming of age but uses them in a laugh out loud manner.  Rumor has it that the book is being developed into a movie with Edgar Wright attached.  Still, I think this would work all the better on Netflix.

 

 

Musicals

 

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Musicals.  Many do not like these.  Many do. It seems that it is more difficult to make an effective musical than a normal movie.  So I decided to make the list of the best musicals made.

Now, I have to clarify some rules that I used to approach these choices.  One, I eliminated all of the Disney/Pixar animated movies such as Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Aladdin, etc.  Two, I have eliminated the films that have songs, but are performed on a stage or as over the action.  These examples can be This is Spinal Tap, Sing Street, School of Rock etc.

For me to consider a musical for this list, the music has to be involved in the story and have people singing from out of nowhere.

Runner’s Up:  Here are some that just could not reach the Top 10.  Chicago (which was in until the last second), Annie, La La Land, Beauty and the Beast (live action version), Pitch Perfect.

So… here is the Top 10 musicals

#10.  Grease.  It is the word.  John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John are great in Grease.  The music is unbelievably catchy.  It tells a fun story of the 1950s and a love story between two kids who expect that the other must change to make the other happy.  Message aside, Grease is an awesome musical.

#9.  Rocky Horror Picture Show.  It’s just a jump to the left.  Rocky Horror is a cult classic with the amazing Tim Curry.  I love the soundtrack of this film.  The movie itself may not be the greatest film ever created, but the fun is undeniable.  Meat Loaf, Susan Sarandon, Richard O’Brien, Barry Bostwick all provide vocals for songs that make this movie great.  And then the audience participation parts really made this a cult classic.  Go see Rocky Horror at a midnight show somewhere, some time and throw some toast.

#8.  Evita. Some people did not love this movie, starring Madonna as Eva Perón, but I thought it was fabulous.  I was never a huge fan of Madonna, but I played this soundtrack over and over.  I also found the movie itself extremely entertaining.  This movie had constant singing or music.  The actual dialogue was severely limited and that was not a bad thing.  The Waltz for Eva and Che is one of my favorite moments of this film.

 

#7.  The Muppets.  I was originally going to eliminate all Muppet movies form the list, but I decided that the return film for the Jim Henson creations really fit the category more than other Muppet films.  This film focused more on the human characters Gary and Mary, played by Jason Segel and Amy Adams, and these two definitely sprung into song throughout the film.  The nostalgia was dripping off every scene and made this movie one of the best Muppet films ever.

#6.  The Wizard of Oz.  I hadn’t thought about this film until I started doing the research for this list, but The Wizard of Oz certainly falls into the category with what I laid out.  Judy Garland’s iconic turn as Dorothy trying to make her way back to Kansas is one of the greatest movies in the history of cinema.

#5.  Little Shop of Horrors.  Feed me Seymour.  The funny musical with Rick Moranis and Steve Martin came from a Broadway play.  The story of a weird little plant that is actually an alien bent on world domination is fun, full of humor and great characters.  Audrey II is one of the best musical villains and really tears down the house (quite literally)!

 

#4.  Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  This is easily the bloodiest film musical of all time.  Johnny Depp starred in the lead role of the barber who was back from exile and ready for revenge.  The bodies of his victims found their way into the meat pies sold by Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter).  This film even had the great Alan Rickman.

#3.  Mary Poppins.  Disney’s live action classic, Mary Poppins, brought us the greatest music from any Disney film.  Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke were iconic in these amazing roles, based on a book series by P.L. Travers.  The musical was so great that it inspired a film that told the story of getting the rights to shoot Mary Poppins from Travers.  That film was called Saving Mr. Banks, and it goes to show the impressive lineage of Mary Poppins.  There is soon to be a new sequel to Mary Poppins starring Emily Blunt.

#2.  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  The EYG Hall of Fame movie starring the incomparable Gene Wilder as the reclusive chocolate maker Willy Wonka was both a great musical and a terrifying trip.  The scene of Gene Wilder singing on the boat as it was going through its strange trip was frightening to countless children.  This film would not have been as successful though without the amazing Wilder, who filled Willy Wonka with such charm while also providing plenty of underlying sinister moments.   This one surely deserves a Golden Ticket.

 

#1.  Moulin Rouge.  The jukebox musical that took many present day songs and blended them in with the classic music of the period.  Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman had unbelievable chemistry as Christian and Satine and the tragic end is sure to bring tears to your eyes.  Moulin Rouge is a film about love.

X-Men Movies

With last week’s release of Logan, the topic of X-Men and X-Men related movies is at the front of pop culture and everyone seems to be ranking these movies in order  Well, never let it be said that EYG isn’t willing to jump on a topic.  So here are my list of the X-Men movies in order.

Related image#1.  Logan.  Yup.  This one is a special film.  Full of emotion.  The best rendition of the character of Wolverine from any of the films.  If this is indeed Hugh Jackman’s farewell as Logan then he could not have asked for a better movie.

 

Image result for deadpool#2.  Deadpool.  Ryan Reynolds spent years trying to get this film made, and 2016 finally saw that road come to an end.  And what an end it was.  Hilarious and dramatic.  Full of unapologetic cursing and sexual situations.  A hard R film, but oh so worth it.  International Women’s Day will never be seen the same again.

 

Image result for x2 xmen united nightcrawler scene#3.  X2: X-Men United.  This featured one of the great beginning to any comic book movie, with Nightcrawler’s attack on the White House.  X2 was that rare film that the sequel exceeded the original.  This is still the best X-Men team movie of all time with one of the best non-super powered villains of the X-men canon.

Related image#4.  X-Men: Days of Future Past.  This one felt like it was trying to bite off more than it could chew.  Large cast and a huge comic storyline behind it, this had failure written all over it.  However, thankfully, Days became a massive hit.  It gave us Quicksilver (beating out the MCU Quicksilver from Avengers: Age of Ultron).  The Quicksilver scene in DOFP is one of the top X-Men scenes of all time.  It also helped remove some of the worst continuity in movie history with a mulligan.

Image result for x men first class cuba scene#5.  X-Men: First Class.  This was another failure waiting to happen.  After the previous X-men movies crapped the bed. a soft reboot of the series was called for.  Still set in the same world, the film looked at the beginnings of Charles Xavier and Magneto and the world of the 1960s.  Placing the mutants in the middle of historical incidents (such as the Cuban Missile Crisis) worked brilliantly, and First Class resurrected a franchise that had been barely holding on.  Plus, it gave us one of the greatest cameos of all time (not named Stan Lee) with Hugh Jackman’s Logan.

Image result for xmen original movie#6.  X-Men.  The original was so very important.  None of this comes if this film fails.  The world was ecstatic over the casting of Patrick Stewart as Professor X (though many were unhappy at the casting of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine… “Jackman is 6’4″  He’s way too tall to be Wolverine.  It’ll never work“)  X-Men helped chauffeur in the comic book movie genre and had everyone dressing in black leather instead of spandex.

Image result for the wolverine movie#7.  The Wolverine.  James Mansgold’s first film was really pretty good until the third act where it felt as if the studio may have jumped in and interfered in the creative process.  It is not like they haven’t done that before (hint… Fant4stic).  This started as a great samurai tale told in Japan and featured the greatest ever deleted scene as Wolverine opened a suitcase to see his yellow and blue costume inside.  Fanboys were overjoyed!  Little did we know that this would be as close as we ever would come to seeing that costume on Hugh Jackman.

Image result for x men apocalypse four horsemen#8.  X-Men: Apocalype.  Last year’s film that had some redeeming qualities, but also seemed to tank in the third act.  The early scene of Magneto seeing his wife killed before his eyes and then slaughtering the men who had killed her was worth the price of admission alone.  Unfortunately, Apocalypse and the Four Horsemen were lacking severely.  We got our second cool Quicksilver scene, though.

Image result for xmen last stand logan and jean#9.  X-Men: The Last Stand.  How do you mess up the Dark Phoenix Saga?  Seriously, this should have been such a home run, but it was one of the worst X-Men movies and one of the most disappointing comic book movies of the genre.  Brett Ratner took over for Bryan Singer (who went to work on Superman Returns, another flop super hero flick) and Ratner created one of the more despised X-Men films.

Related image#10.  X-Men Origins: Wolverine.  This is easily the worst X film ever.  They sewed Deadpool’s mouth shut.  The first ten to fifteen minutes of the film was pretty good, seeing the introduction of young James Howlett to the series and watching him grow up over the years in a cool montage.  Then the film started going downhill quickly.  Then, they sewed Deadpool’s mouth shut and gave him all kinds of weird mutant powers.  Then they shot Logan in the head with an adamantium bullet which made him forget everything.  If only that would work for us too.  X-Men Origins was only a success because the failure of it led to the desire to save the character of Deadpool, thus the great Deadpool movie occurs.  Without this travesty, that would never be.  So…thanks? I guess.

 

There they are… the top ten X-Men movies in order from 1-10.  What comes next?  Rumor has it that the next X-men movie will focus on the Dark Phoenix Saga once again.  Hopefully this time they can get it right.

American Horror Story

With the date of September 14th looming all the closer, it is about time to start thinking about Ryan Murphy’s house of horrors, American Horror Story. We just recently got what could be a hint about the theme for season 6, American Horror Story: The Mist.  How this may or may not tie in to the Stephen King novella of the same name is yet to be seen (although Spike TV has given a 10-episode order for a TV show based on that King novella.)

American Horror Story The Mist

This makes me wonder about the previous five seasons and where I might rank them.  So…

#5.  Hotel.  This one was my least favorite of the shows, as I lost interest about midway through the season.  I did enjoy the serial killer ghosts meeting episode entitled “Devil’s Night.”  This episode showed that creativity that had been sprinkled throughout each season.  I don’t know if the absence of Jessica Lange hurt the show, but I never could get into Lady Gaga that much.

Image result for ahs: hotel serial killers

#4.  Coven.  The group of witches was fun at times, especially with the addition of Kathy Bates as Madame Delphine LaLaurie and Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe as Queenie.  The use of the racist Madame LaLaurie and the large black woman in Queenie really helped the season find a voice.  Bates was just amazing, not just playing the straight up racist.  Their relationship was even touching at times, despite the dark way in which it ended.

Image result for ahs: coven queenie and lalaurie

#3.  Freak Show.  This one is one of my favorites and, for me, re-energized the show after the weaker Coven.  There were just so much to enjoy here…from the evil killer clown Twisty to the real monster of the season, Dandy Mott (Finn Wittrock).  Jessica Lange’s Elsa Mars was full of contradictions and selfishness, but she really loved the freaks.  Add to it the great performance of David Bowie’s Life on Mars and Freak Show had something for everyone.

Image result for ahs: freak show life on mars

#2.  Murder House.  This was very nearly number one.  We had never seen anything like Murder House before.  The use of real life past murders (such as the Black Dahlia victim) as well as one of the most compelling villains we have ever seen (Evan Peters’s Tate) created an air of suspense and uncertainty.  With the Rubber Man running around the Murder House, and with people dying and not leaving the house, the first season set up for one of the most shocking set of events we have seen in a long time.  Dyla McDermott and Connie Britton added a gravitas to the cast.  And there was a rooting section for Tate and Violet (Taissa Farmiga).  I don’t think I have ever seen as disturbing of a sequence as the school shooting during season one.  Unless it is “Piggy Piggy”, one of the series standout episodes.

Image result for murder house

#1. Asylum.  This was my own personal favorite.  I will never forget the ride into the oven by Dr. Arden (James Cromwell).  There were so many disturbing images of the way mental patients were treated in the 1960s that a horror show is perfectly set in an asylum.  And that does not even take into account the weirdness that was being done to these poor victims by the cruel nuns or the former Nazi scientists.  And aliens?  Add to it the most unlikely and entertaining moment of all season… The Name Game performed by Jessica Lange herself.  That showed us that truly anything could happen in the asylum and on American Horror Story.

Image result for ahs name game

Both Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto and Sarah Paulson were brilliant this season, but we also had a horrendous serial killer, Bloody Face.

Image result for bloody face

Asylum was a creative high for the anthology series that it has been striving to find since.

Between Bloody Face and Rubber Man, what will the signature villain be in The Mist?  I can’t wait to find out.

2016 Eisner Award Winners

The Eisner Awards, awards given for excellence int he comic book medium, were presented Friday night at Comic Con.  The Eisner Awards (named after EYG Hall of Famer Will Eisner) are sometimes considered the Academy Awards for comics.  Here is a list of the winners this year:

Best Short Story

  • “Killing and Dying,” by Adrian Tomine, inOptic Nerve #14 (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Single Issue/One-Shot

  • Silver Surfer #11: “Never After,” by Dan Slott and Michael Allred (Marvel)

Best Continuing Series

  • Southern Bastards, by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour (Image)

Best Limited Series

  • The Fade Out, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image)

Best New Series

  • Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (Image)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)

  • Little Robot, by Ben Hatke (First Second)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12)

  • Over the Garden Wall, by Pat McHale and Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios/KaBOOM!)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17)

  • Super Mutant Magic Academy, by Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Humor Publication

  • Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection, by Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Digital/Webcomic

  • Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain/comiXology)

Best Anthology

  • Drawn & Quarterly, Twenty-Five Years of Contemporary, Cartooning, Comics, and Graphic Novels, edited by Tom Devlin (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Reality-Based Work

  • March: Book Two, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf/IDW)

Best Graphic Album—New

  • Ruins, by Peter Kuper (SelfMadeHero)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint

  • Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson (Harper Teen)

Best Adaptation from Another Medium

  • Two Brothers, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material

  • The Realist, by Asaf Hanuka (BOOM! Studios/Archaia)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia

  • Showa, 1953–1989: A History of Japan, by Shigeru Mizuki (Drawn & Quarterly)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips

  • The Eternaut, by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lòpez, edited by Gary Groth and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books

  • Walt Kelly’s Fairy Tales, edited by Craig Yoe (IDW)

Best Writer

  • Jason Aaron, Southern Bastards (Image), Men of Wrath (Marvel Icon), Doctor Strange, Star Wars, Thor (Marvel)

Best Writer/Artist

  • Bill Griffith, Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist (Fantagraphics)

Best Penciller/Inker or Penciller/Inker Team

  • Cliff Chiang, Paper Girls (Image)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist

  • Dustin Nguyen, Descender (Image)

Best Cover Artist

  • David Aja, Hawkeye, Karnak, Scarlet Witch (Marvel)

Best Coloring

  • Jordie Bellaire, The Autumnlands, Injection, Plutona, Pretty Deadly, The Surface, They’re Not Like Us, Zero (Image); The X-Files (IDW); The Massive (Dark Horse); Magneto, Vision (Marvel)

Best Lettering

  • Derf Backderf, Trashed (Abrams)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism

  • Hogan’s Alley, edited by Tom Heintjes (Hogan’s Alley)

Best Comics-Related Book

  • Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America, by Bill Schelly (Fantagraphics)

Best Academic/Scholarly Work

  • The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art, edited by Frances Gateward and John Jennings (Rutgers)

Best Publication Design

  • Sandman Gallery Edition, designed by Graphitti Designs and Josh Beatman/Brainchild Studios (Graphitti Designs/DC)

 

Congratulations to all the winners!

Top Ten Netflix

In honor of this weekend’s new Netflix release, Stranger Things (which is a fantastic series that I have not included on this list, though it might fit eventually), I have decided to list the top ten shows/movies/programs that I have seen on the streaming service.  Now, there might be some on this list that other people have seen in other formats, but these are all great presentations that I actually watched for the first time on Netflix.

#10.  The Sheik.  There are a lot of great documentaries on the site.  I have seen plenty of them including Mick Foley’s I Am Santa Claus and Confessions of a Super Hero.  The Shiek tells the story of pro wrestler The Iron Sheik, a colorful character who came from Iran into the WWF.

 

#9.  Pee Wee’s Big Holiday.  I was unbelievably shocked that I liked this movie.  But I watched this movie in order to review it for the Doc’s Movie Review section of EYG and I laughed throughout.  It was a great surprise.  It was one of the original Netflix movies filmed

#8.  Hush.  Another movie, but this one was not a Netflix original.  This film had its release at South by Southwest film festival, but had its rights purchased by Netflix.  This horror/thriller film is full of great performances and tense moments.  I was turned onto this film by YouTube movie reviewer Chris Stuckmann and I had a really good time.

 

#7.  Orange is the New Black.  This is the first original Netflix series to make this list.  Orange has had four seasons now filled with remarkable performances with a great ensemble cast.  The women of the Litchfield Penitentiary have shown us the life behind bars, filled with drugs, sex, gangs, violence and friendship.

#6.  House of Cards.  How could you go wrong with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright playing a manipulative and power hungry Washington D.C. couple, The Underwoods.  Believed to be based on the Clintons, there has not ever been a bigger shock than what Frank Underwood did to series regular Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara).  I won’t spoil for those who may not have seen it yet, but what exactly are you waiting for?

#5.  The Imposter.  A documentary that focuses on the story of Frederic Bourdin, a con man from Spain who claimed to be the grown up son of a family in Texas who had disappear years earlier.  Telling the story in his own words, Bourdin was tremendously compelling, as was the mystery of what actually happened to the missing boy… a mystery that ha never been solved.

#4.  Jessica Jones.  The second series from Marvel TV/Netflix’s agreement was groundbreaking.  A strong female lead played by Krysten Ritter who suffered from PTSD from her time under the mental control of Kilgrave (David Tennent), but she uses her super strength to be a private detective.  Jessica Jones was more than just another super hero show.  It was a tale of survivors and the struggles they face.

#3.  Freaks & Geeks.  Another key to Netflix is they have older movies and television programs available and I had never seen the beloved former TV show that lasted only one season, Freaks & Geeks.  So I was able to binge it and I saw why people loved the series.  It is a crime that this show from Paul Feig and Judd Apatow did not go longer than 18 episodes.  James Franco, Seth Rogan, Samm Levine, Jason Segal, Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley among others got their breaks on this show.  It perfectly showed high school life during the 1980s.  It was brilliant and Netflix gives you a chance to see this great show.

#2.  Life of Reilly.  This is no longer on Netflix, but it is my favorite “documentary” ever.  Charles Nelson Reilly had a one-man stage show about his life, telling these dark and ridiculously funny stories of his life.  Reilly tells about his weird family, including his mother who shouted racial insults out the window, his father who had lost an opportunity to work with Walt Disney and the day CNR went to the circus on the day it burned to the ground.  “Well, it’s that kind of play,” Reilly said every time the crowd groaned in shock or sadness.  Life of Reilly is a story of success despite a background that did not allow such a thing.  And it is uproariously funny.

#1 Daredevil.  Two seasons of amazing action, drama and perfection.  Daredevil is the story of blind attorney Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) and his alter ego, The Man Without Fear, Daredevil.  Completely wiping away the memory of the less than stellar movie starring Ben Affleck, the Daredevil series had tremendous fight choreography and has, perhaps, the greatest Marvel Cinematic Universe villain, Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) ever.   We also got, in season two, the best cinematic version ever of the anti-hero The Punisher, played by Jon Bernthal.  Daredevil is one of the best super hero television show anywhere… and it is on Netflix.