Movie Reviews

The Death of Superman (Review)

The Death of Superman

Death of Superman
2018
Written by Peter Tomasi
Directed by Jake Castorena and Sam Liu

Death of Superman
Superman is know for two things: Super powers and dying. Okay, that’s a vast oversimplification, but Superman does die a lot, and here he dies again, in animated form. But wait, didn’t they already do a Death of Superman animated movie? Why, yes, they did! It was one of the first animated DC movies (and it was quite bland!) This redo is more than just a remake, it’s incorporating multiple prior films that form a loose continuity while also flowing into the later parts of the story (Reign of the Supermen), all while updating and modifying where necessary. Sliced out is a lot of the embarrassing 90s stuff and unimportant plot elements (though the bigger changes are in the sequel!) In their place is story that makes Superman more human and necessary for humanity, right before the biggest threat appears that we all know is about to snatch him away.
Death of Superman
One of the themes of the live-action films is if the world even needs a Superman. It’s the story Lois wrote in Superman Returns, it was one of the reasons Clark tried to hide his power and later is investigated by the government in the Snyder movies (yes those films are far more complicated than that, say with me here…) There is even shades of it here, with astronaut Hank Henshaw convinced Superman will save them when there is a problem in space (spoiler alert: he doesn’t!) But all those points become moot when a giant guy starts smashing his way through major cities and your heroes fall before him. The world needs people who can stand up to evil.
Death of Superman
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 26, 2019 at 10:46 am

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Our Friend, Power 5 (Review)

Our Friend, Power 5

aka 우리들의 친구 파워 5 aka Wurideul-ui Chingu Pawo 5
Our Friend Power 5 우리들의 친구 파워 5
1989
Written by ???
Directed by Park Ho-Jin

Our Friend Power 5 우리들의 친구 파워 5

Teenage Hungover Ninja Turtles


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the headlining franchises of my youth, and while I never got involved with the toys, the comics, cartoons, and video games were a constant presence. And years ago, I heard about a Korean bootleg Ninja Turtles movie, but thanks to the shifting sands of the internet it was years and years until I got a copy. Then I sat on it for a few years, but now it is time to actually finish jobs, and it’s time for Our Friend Power 5 to get its due on TarsTarkas.NET!

Our Friend Power 5 isn’t just a bootleg Ninja Turtles, it is in fact selling its own bootleg Ninja Turtle toys, complete with their own giant robot bootlegged from another toy line! It is part of literally hundreds of Korean children’s films pumped out with ridiculous costumes, terrible acting and overacting, and lots of rubber suits and animation of giant robots and spaceships mixed in. It forms a delirious genre of cinema that few people outside Korea have heard of, and fewer people have seen multiple entries. Fortunately for you (but unfortunately for us!), TarsTarkas.NET is one of those locations that is very familiar with this genre. Be it Alien Lightning Dragon, Hwarang-V Trio, Robotstar Jjanga, Super Batman & Mazinger V, or Korean Terminator, this ridiculous films are a constant presence. They will be so in the future as well, because you better believe I’m sitting on a whole slew more of them!!! That’s a threat, buddy!

But we must talk about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles here. First of all, there are FIVE of them! And one is a princess, in fact she’s the Princess of their race, and in turtle mode she has pink ventral shell. The ventral shells (the chests for those of you who aren’t biologists) are how you tell these characters apart, each one has a different color there – Pink, Black, Yellow, Brown, and Purple. Their masks are molded so they permanently have the Ninja Turtles grimace, and there are obvious eye holes (and other holes in the suits, either so the actors don’t sweat to death or so the suits are easier to maneuver and don’t fill with air and get weird shaped!) Their bandanas are all red and only the Princess seems to have any custom weapon, her wand. One of the turtles shoots what looks like metal wire out of his wrist to snag a villain out of a tree, but that’s the only complicated things the turtles do. Even with the many holes in the costume, it’s obvious the actors inside are barely able to see and most of the choreography involving them is weird and slow like they are underwater. Usually they default to the child actors for the action scenes to attack the villains. Outside of the princess, the other four don’t really have much of a personality, they are just there, and during the climax I’m not even 100% sure where two of them go.

When your wire salesman demonstration goes totally wrong!

The villains are a bunch of rat men, so yes, it looks like Splinter is hunting down his own family! Despite the villains being rats, their leader is named Shark and has taken a human face disguise (outside of an obviously terrible beard) The rats are all the same rubber mold, but they made their leader more grey and gave him blue eyes instead of red. They stomp around and carry laser guns but must have gotten their training at the Imperial Stormtrooper Academy as they can’t hit the broad side of a turtle barn.

This film is basically a commercial for their bootleg toys, as the entire climactic sequence involves the toy robot piloted by the Turtles (and some kids, it’s more dumb than complicated but let’s just continue) smashing the crap out of the villain’s fleet and his own robot. The Comentor Robot also drives the plot, it’s the plans the Princess is carrying that the villain wants to get his hands on. A space princess with some plans a villain wants, huh? The name Comentor Robot comes from a translation of the plot, I’m not sure if it is supposed to be like Cometor as that sounds more spacey, or if this robot spends its down time arguing that fluoride is mind control below Yahoo News articles. The robot itself is ganked from the Go-Bots Powersuits Power Warrior so it’s like two bootlegs combined into one! Synergy, baby!

Our Friend Power 5 우리들의 친구 파워 5

Suck it, Harry Potter!


Thankfully whoever ripped this tape left all the production logos on it, including the SKC company ad for their video tapes, floppy discs, and their brand new CD technology! CDs, it’s the FUTURE!!! As this is a rare film, we will give our patented incredibly thorough description of what is going on so you too can follow along at home, along with a side of snark. And like every single one of these Korean Children’s films, there are no subtitles, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!

Hyuk (???) – Our hero is just some rando kid who happens to be the son of the famous astronomer Dr. Yang. Thanks to his irresponsibility he is granted phenomenal powers that he uses to fight evil Ratmen from space while befriending refugee turtles.
Bow Tie (???) – The required by Korean Kiddie Movie Law comic relief, Bow Tie here is a huge wimp who hangs around with children while failing to ask out Tae Kwon repeatedly (and later Princess Turtle repeatedly)
Tae Kwon (???) – The tough daughter of Dr. Yang who has the power of knowing tae kwon do, something alien ratmen armed with laser guns are helpless against!
Dr. Yang (???) – Brilliant scientist who is far too busy building weird telescopes and letting his children run wild to go see a dermatologist about that weird growth on his head. Helps build a fleet of attack ships for the Earth and helps the Turtles create their robot.
Princess Turtle (???) – – The Princess of the turtle world who leads the survivors of her conquered race in a desperate attempt to escape the evil Shark and his army of Ratmen. Has the plans for the powerful Comentor Robot that Shark wants. The Princess is armed with a magic wand that she’s pretty irresponsible with, and is also a brilliant tactician as shown later in the film where she commands a space attack. She transforms into….
Pink Turtle (???) – The lead turtle with the power of pink. All other turtles obey her orders. Outside of the Princess, none of the other turtles seem to have names (and even if they did, there ain’t no subtitles!) we will refer to them by their underbelly colors, as that is the only difference between the characters. They all use the same Michealangelo-base mold, which is seen by the “M” on all their belts. None of them really have personalities.
Black Turtle (???) – The turtle I got the least clear shots off in screencaps! Our made up biography reveals he is obsessed with football, but was never able to go pro due to a knee injury in college. Only the destruction of his homeworld prevented him from getting a job selling women’s shoes.
Yellow Turtle (???) – The Yellow Turtle is yellow. Shocking, I know! Despite that, he isn’t a coward. Congrats! Our made up biography reveals Yellow Turtle is a brilliant florist but lost last year’s rose competition due to internal politics. Luckily every other turtle florist is now dead, so he is a shoo-in to win this year!
Brown Turtle (???) – Our made up biography of Brown Turtle is that he was initially another color but he never bathes, thus giving his belly the brown color by which he got his new name. His original color was lost over time, even he doesn’t know what color he is supposed to be.
Purple Turtle (???) – This turtle is usually flying the Turtle spaceship but outside of that doesn’t do much interesting. Our made up biography indicates he is very into stamp collecting, to the point where he has taken out multiple mortgages to afford those stamps where the plane is upside down.
Shark (???) – Leader of the evil Ratmen who commits genocides on Tuesdays and wants the Comentor Robot to further his genocidal ambitions. Judging by how the transformed Ratmen look in the film, Shark has taken human form and is just another Ratman.
Ratmen (???) – The Ratmen are the disposable flunky troops of Shark. The leader is more grey and has blue eyes, while all the rest are more brown with red eyes. None of them are Splinter, unless this is the Mirror Universe! Wait a minute, maybe it is….

Our Friend Power 5 우리들의 친구 파워 5

We get it, you vape!


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 19, 2019 at 6:38 am

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Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Review)

Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Tom and Jerry Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory
2017
Written by Gene Grillo (and the original screenplay by Roald Dahl)
Based on the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Directed by Spike Brandt

Tom and Jerry Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory
Remember when a poor young boy found a magical golden ticket and embarked on a candy adventure? Also a cat and a mouse were wandering around? That sounds vaguely familiar thanks to the power of franchise mashups! Everyone’s favorite cat and mouse team that isn’t named Itchy and Scratchy are back again to get int hijinks that keep ensuing no matter how hard they try to un-ensue them. And Willy Wonka is there. No, this is not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! Yes, we’re literally in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, complete with the songs and the look and the costumes and the deviations from the book that the movie choose to do (such as the Everlasting Gobstopper test!) This isn’t even the first time Tom and Jerry have done this, they were running around in a remake of 1939’s The Wizard of Oz a few years back (and that movie got it’s own sequel!!)
Tom and Jerry Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory
This is the future of film. It’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe brought to a whole new level (even as the MCU borrows from the Universal Monsters and Godzilla movies that did it first), except now entire franchises are sandwiched together in a powerhouse of corporate synergy. Expect far more of this in the future, especially once someone at Disney decides the different brands should be more than just cameos in Wreck-It Ralph movies and has Luke Skywalker fight Iron Man. Other notable (and less so) examples include The Lego Movie, various Cartoon Network versions of WB shows, and the legion of parody movies such as The Hungover Games, which get an additional boost of being able to skirt around the edges of different IPs, which weirdly makes them the most accurate version of this type of fanfic in production format (too bad they are almost universally terrible!) But enough of talk of things not this particular film…
Tom and Jerry Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 12, 2019 at 6:40 am

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The Stalker Club (Review)

The Stalker Club

The Stalker Club Lifetime
2017
Written by Barbara Kymlicka
Directed by Doug Campbell

The Stalker Club Lifetime
Lifetime does slashers! Throw in a dash of The Internet Will Murder You, toss in a pile of stalking, and pour in a bunch of actual person in a mask killing teens with a knife, then blend it together and top it with a “Lifetime” cherry, and you got The Stalker Club, which proves that Lifetime movies can be any genre they want. For those of you thinking an actual slasher movie would be out of place on Lifetime, this network consistently puts out films with high body counts and crazed obsessives following around innocent teens, this is the natural progression!
The Stalker Club Lifetime
The Stalker Club opens with a riff on the opening of Scream except the masked stalker doesn’t speak and the 80s girl dies by falling down the stairs while hinting she sort of knows whats going on. But it’s too late for her and too late for us because the rest of the film takes place 30 years later! Modern day opens with a montage of the five main teen characters doing a slow-motion cool walk complete with a name title cards for each one, a handy thing to do to get you up to speed with the characters quickly so the stalking and the clubbing can begin. We got Ashley (Kelcie Stranahan), our heroine; Darren (JT Neal), Ashley’s handsome boyfriend; Chloe (Alex Frnka), the bad girl who channels Denise Richards; Mark (Paul Karmiryan), the jock who likes to joke; and Sadie (Lora McHugh), the sensitive goth. The clique is sort of weird because Chloe and Mark are the popular kids, while Darren is new to school and befriended Mark, while Sadie is presented as Chloe’s best friend but doesn’t seem to fit at all. Ashley is the newest one of the group, Chloe doesn’t seem to like her and Ashley has basically abandoned all her former friends to hang out with this cool crowd. Ashley also is mad at her mom (Maeve Quinlan) for daring to have a boyfriend when it’s only been two years since her dad died in a car accident. Seriously, Ashley takes some warming up to before we don’t wish she gets stalked to death.
The Stalker Club Lifetime
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 5, 2019 at 6:30 am

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Jailbreak (Review)

Jailbreak

aka ការពារឧក្រិដ្ឋជន
Jailbreak
2017
Written by Jimmy Henderson and Michael Hodgson
Directed by Jimmy Henderson

Jailbreak
Jailbreak is here to sooth your itch of martial arts mayhem in a confined space while non-stop action goes off. It is justifiably compared to The Raid as it is a film that came out of nowhere and showcases a bunch of martial arts from a country that wasn’t known for producing martial films. In this case, it is from Cambodia, and some of the characters practice an art called bokator. A prisoner escort mission goes awry when outsiders want the prisoner dead and manipulate a mass escape, trapping the heroes inside the prison. What follows is characters fighting their way out and attempting to survive while also reluctantly trying to save the prisoner from also being killed. While Jailbreak does not equal The Raid in the sheer awesomeness of the fighting spectacle, it’s still pretty darn good and will make action fans plenty happy!
Jailbreak
Cop Jean-Paul (Jean-Paul Ly, Jailbreak keeps it simple with the cast names!) has just be assigned to the Cambodian police as part of an exchange program (He’s mixed Cambodian-French from France, and though he speaks French and English, his Khmer is pretty rusty) He attempts to bond with the the main trio of Dara (Dara Our), Tharoth (Tharoth Sam), and Sucheat (Dara Phang), but tough guy Dara rebuffs all his attempts to be friendly. Dara and lady officer Tharoth have a friendship but that doesn’t extend past that, while Sucheat is the comic relief whose non-police look is explained as him just getting out of undercover work. They are supposed to bring a criminal known as Playboy (Savin Phillip) to prison so he can testify later as to who the real leaders of the notorious Butterfly Gang are. Said leader is Madame Butterfly (Céline Tran), who decides Playboy should be Deadboy and makes multiple attempts to have him killed before he even gets to the prison. Due to bad luck and the officers’ paranoia, all the attempts fail, so she’s resorted to bribing the prisoners to riot so Playboy can be killed in the chaos. But when that many bad people are let out at the same time, there is conflict and chaos, and things don’t go according to plan.
Jailbreak
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 29, 2019 at 6:28 am

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The Mermaid (Review)

The Mermaid

aka 美人魚 aka Mei Ren Yu
The Mermaid
2016
Written by Stephen Chow Sing-Chi, Kelvin Lee Si-Zhen, Ho Miu-Kei, Lu Zheng-Yu, Andrew Fung Chih-Chiang, Ivy Kong Yuk-Yee, Chan Hing-Kar, and Tsang Kan-Cheung
Directed by Stephen Chow Sing-Chi

The Mermaid
It isn’t really a secret that I’ve been less than enthused with the movie industry coming out of China in the past decade. As more and more Hong Kong stars and directors get lured away by big budget Mainland firms to pump out soulless imitations of Hollywood blockbusters, my interest in what they do great grows less and less. A few directors are working against the trends, but the only one with the clout to basically do whatever he wants is Steve Chow. Though Chow took extended time off in front of the camera to work more on the production side, his return to directing has been a welcome development. First he came back with Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, and soon after with The Mermaid, where Chow returns to his roots with a love story buried beneath a bunch of other movies. The Mermaid went on to slay at the box office, becoming the highest grossing film in China (not any more, lol!)
The Mermaid
The Mermaid feels like a first draft of a love story that everything else was stapled around. Some of the side scenes are amazingly awesome, while others fall short and seem weird. Overall there just isn’t enough in the rest of the film to seem like a filling meal. Chow obviously saw the Dolphin Cove documentary as we even get actual footage of the dolphins being slaughtered multiple times throughout the film, and the imagery is used again when the humans attack the mermaid hideout. The US military’s sonar that kills sea life is also mentioned, though here it is sonar developed by a company that causes fish to explode and damages the mermaids, leading to their hiding out in a cove. Tossing this stuff into a comedy is a brave move, and while not pleasant to see, helps put actual stakes on the table both within the film and in real life. Some people might think twice about where the food they eat comes from.
The Mermaid
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - January 22, 2019 at 6:34 am

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