Watching HBO's Watchmen

This Landmark Take on The Superhero Genre Will Be a Benchmark For Things to Come

by robotGEEK

With all the streaming apps that we currently pay for, HBO is not one of them. So when they announced the release of Watchmen as a series, we knew we were just going to have to wait until it hit Blu Ray to finally dig into it. But then the pandemic happened, and a lot of these "pay for" streaming sites began offering free trials to entice us. Hell, it worked with Shudder. We tried their free trial and ended up signing up for a membership. And with Watchmen in particular, as of this writing, they are currently offering it for free on both Amazon Prime and Hulu if you already have subscriptions for either of them. So this past weekend we jumped on it and literally binged the entire 9-Episode season in just a few days, something we never do. On one hand we did it because we wanted to watch it all before they removed the free trial offer, but on the other hand because it was so fucking good that we couldn't stop.

I am a Watchmen fan. I was 10 when the comic was released, and it would be just a few years later when I myself would get deep into comic book collecting and ultimately when I discovered this dark tale. But of course, like most of us, it wasn't until we were adults that we truly appreciated what Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons were doing with this comic series. But anyway, we all know that story now. And while I was a general fan of Zack Snyder's 2009 film, I wasn't blown away by it. For a film with such a long runtime, it still felt surprisingly tedious and long, when it should have felt the other way around. I can't really put my finger on it, but ultimately, while it was a nice looking film, it didn't always work. Which brings us to HBO's series.

Upon completion of this series, my first impression is that it is hands-down one of the best written shows I've ever seen, right up there with Hannibal and Breaking Bad. Created for television and written by Lost creator/writer Damon Lindelof, Watchmen takes a different approach than a straight-up adaptation of the well-beloved comic. Instead, Lindelof uses it as a jumping off point, instead shifting the story to a sort of alternate reality, 30 years later. In this new take, we see only a fraction of the original characters and what they've become since, as well as new masked vigilantes and an entirely new version where racism is front and center. Considering this was made before the recent riots and injustices towards people of color coming to light front and center, it's a bit surreal to watch this now because it comes across so much more relevant and important.

One of the shows may strengths is in it's casting. Some of them are pretty spot-on, like Jeremy Irons as Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias, while others like the incredible Regina King as the series lead and all around badass Angela Abar aka Sister Night just surprised the hell out of me in the best possible way. I mean, for all the times I've seen her in a supporting role in dramas, seeing her kicking ass and taking names was such a pleasant surprise. I'm not going to bore you with a complete rundown of every cast member, but some personal notable standouts for me were Jean Smart, Louis Gossett Jr. and Tim Blake Nelson respectively.

It's a rare thing when every single episode hits you like a ton of bricks. Each hour long journey was met with excitement, shock, surprise and total awe. The number of twists this thing took were brilliant and wild, but none more incredible than the now legendary episode 6 titled "This Extraordinary Being". I mean, goddamn was that a huge emotional punch to the gut and just brilliant. While there was not a single bad episode in the bunch, Episode 6 seems to be the all-around favorite for most people, and with good reason.

What Lindelof and his team of writers and directors have created will go down in history as one of the greatest, most brilliant series ever produced. While it's already become an instant hit, just wait. It will be a series that others will try to repeat, but will probably not come anywhere near trying to achieve its brilliance. It will be a benchmark for how other creators will try to approach popular comic book titles in the future when adapting them to TV. Because lets face it, TV was and is the only way to go with something as vast as the Watchmen mythology. The fact that they tried so hard to condense it into a nearly 3 hour film back in 2009 is still surprising to me. I mean, some of it works, and some of it doesn't. There were some creative and artistic choices (did we really need so much slo-mo???) that really hampered would could have been a great epic film, but that was 11 years ago and there's nothing we can do about that now. Back in the late 80's or early 90's (before the internet), I remember reading in a Comics Magazine that Terry Gilliam was attached to direct Watchmen, but ultimately backed out when he realized that there was really no way to do it justice unless he was able to make it into a Mini-Series or something. Making it into a single film was impossible. Thankfully Damon Lindelof and the folks over at HBO recognized the need for more time to flesh out these characters and story arcs, because it all worked splendidly. And while the series ended nicely all wrapped up in a pretty bow, there's definitely room for expansion. But I for one am glad Lindelof has gone on the record as saying that he has no intention of continuing with the series, and I am thankful for that. It's perfect just the way it is. Let's let it stay perfect.


The Toy Corner: The Black Hole Walgreens Exclusive Action Figures

Diamond Select Kills It Once Again With Another Disney Piece of Cinema Glold

by robotGEEK

When we recently signed up for Disney+, one of the first things I did was introduce my wife to the glorious 70's gem The Black Hole. Being that the limited edition Blu Ray sells for a lot higher than I'm comfortable spending on the secondhand market right now, this is the next best option. Whats more, it's in HD, which is really the only way to see it.

Of course she went in skeptical, but of course she ended up loving because like I told her before we started, this is not a kids film. A dark, brooding and outstanding visual spectacle that kickstarted a very brief period in Walt Disney's history where they attempted to make darker, more mature films. This was a time when their animated films weren't making the money they used to, and it's hard to imagine today, but Walt Disney was struggling. What resulted were some classics that while were not technical hits upon their releases, are considered genuine cult classics today such as The Black Hole, Tron and Flight of the Navigator.

After this latest revisit, I decided to jump on eBay to see if there were any Black Hole collectibles I could find, and while there are a number of products that were released during the film's run in 1979, most of them highly sought after, what really shocked me was that apparently some new Black Hole figures were released fairly recently, and I had no idea. How did this slip through the cracks for me? I can't tell you, but here's the rundown. They are released through Diamond Select, and are Walgreens exclusives, meaning you won't find them in any other store other than Walgreens. Of course there's online, which would generally mean that they were purchased from Walgreens and are being resold. Whatever the case, they're out there and they're beautiful.

There are two figures, V.I.N.Cent and Maximilian. They come in a nice sturdy box with a big display window and run $19.99 each if you can find them in a store. I searched every Walgreens in my area and did not find a single one. Though they still had plenty of Tron figures. But ultimately I had to resort to eBay for the best deal and factoring in shipping, I pretty much paid what I would have paid had I found them in the store myself for a set. And they're worth every penny, because both the figure and the packaging is just beautiful.

Flippers have made this Diamond Select release a really hard one to find in person, so your best bet is to just probably go through them to get your hands on them, which is ironically sad, but worth the effort.

New Movie Spotlight: I See You (2019)

by robotGEEK

Now here's an under the radar gem if there ever was one. I See You is a film I came upon solely through word of mouth. And whats interesting is that while it was a film casually mentioned to me a few times by different people, it wasn't a film that was "strongly" recommended, which honestly shocks me because ultimately, it was one of the best, most well written thrillers we've seen in a long time.

I See You is such a paradox, and a fucking brilliant one at that. On the surface it looks like any number of low-budget Direct-to-Video (DTV) thrillers you see on any streaming platform. And I'm going to be honest, that poster art doesn't help. In fact, that poster art makes it look more like an episode of some by-the-numbers cop drama on TV. But let me tell you, you're in for a real treat, because not only is it not anything like that, but the ride you'll take will lead you in directions you never saw coming.

I'm a bit torn to really tell you any more than that for fear of giving too much away. We went in fairly cold, having not even bothered looking at a trailer. So do yourself a favor and DO NOT watch the trailer. What I will tell you is that the tone, and hell even it's genre, shifts several times, which kind of blew my mind. The casting across the board is really solid, with Helen Hunt really turning in a killer performance. The cinematography is really impressive, with director Adam Randall delivering some truly stunning visuals, especially for a film this small. And the script, by first-time writer Devon Graye will blow you away. For a guy who hasn't written a film before, you'd be hard pressed to find one this tight, taut and filled with ingenious plot twists. One interesting thing to note is that he's also an actor with a wide range of roles in both film and television, but who I will always remember as being the teenage version of Dexter Morgan on Dexter. If this film is any indication, Graye has a great career ahead of him as a screenwriter and I for one can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

I think one of the best thing this little gem has going for it are the constant surprises. With so many "Whaaaaaaat???" moments, I was never able to figure any of them out beforehand. I just remember both of us kept looking at each other quite often and blurting out "whaaaaat?", or "nooooo way, are you kidding me?!".

I See You is currently streaming on Amazon Prime right now. Do yourself a favor and check this out ASAP


90's Action Attack!: White Tiger (1996)

Gary Daniels Kicks Ass In This Highly Impressive Gem

by robotGEEK

Released in 1996, this Gary Daniels actioner is quite frankly one of the best low-budget action films I've seen in a while. Now I know I've said it before, but again, when I watch a ridiculous amount of low-budget action films and most of them are not worth mentioning, it's so refreshing to come across a true little gem.

Daniels plays DEA agent Mike Ryan who's partner is killed during a drug raid. When it's made clear that the killer, an up and coming drug dealer named Chow (the always amazing Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) is responsible and has the force in his pocket, Ryan goes all out for revenge. 

Let's start with the obvious. This has really strong Showdown in Little Tokyo vibes, and honestly, that's a blessing because come on, who doesn't love SiLT?? And right off the bat, you're going to notice a much higher quality of action film here than you're used to with Gary Daniels. Not only does it sport an impressive cast of familiar faces, but I'll be damned if this isn't one of the best looking DTV action films I've ever seen. I mean, how often do you really get to say that? Believe me, it's rare. Director Richard Martin gives this film such a professional sheen, had it had some tighter editing and a better score, it very well could have been a theatrical release.

Legendary bad guy Carey-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat, Showdown in Little Tokyo) is just having a blast here. Nowhere near as restrained or refined as some of the other villains he's portrayed, instead playing him a little funny, loose and over the top, yet highly entertaining. Some of his one-liners and quips are fucking hilarious. Gary Daniels is great, showing off both his acting chops, emotional range and his martial arts.

White Tiger hits all the right beats, throwing enough action, fights and visual eye candy our way to make us forget the plethora of lame and uninspired trite that we often find ourselves watching in our search for these underrated gems. If there was ever a DTV action flick deserving of the title "underrated gem", it's this one.

White Tiger is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and TubiTV for FREE. 


Bad Movie Night: Menahem Golan's Armstrong (1998)

Menahem Golan Delivers a Shockingly Inept Bad Movie Night Masterpiece

by robotGEEK

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Or have they? I suppose there's a valid argument as to whether Menahem Golan was ever a good filmmaker to begin with. I mean, we all love the classics he produced under his Cannon Films banner in the 80's, but as a director, his 2 crowning achievements are indelibly The Delta Force and Over the Top. And it can also be argued that he's not entirely responsible for the successes of those films. I mean, you could also attribute the cinematographers and editors to how good those films turned out. And don't get me wrong, I love the guy! Hell, I have a Cannon logo tattooed on my forearm! That company and those films were such an integral part of my upbringing.

Written and directed by Cannon legend Menaham Golan under the Nu Image banner, Armstrong is a disaster of epic proportions that needs to be seen to be believed. How this film has never been mentioned to me before is a travesty, because it's quite literally one of the BEST Bad Movies I've seen in a very long while. I watch a lot of low-budget action movies, and to be honest, most of them are not worth mentioning. So when I come across a true hidden gem like this, well I personally feel it my duty to let the world in on this little secret.

Armstrong is insanely enjoyable because it's so laughably bad in literally every single aspect. It's completely absurd every single minute, and just when you think it can't surprise you or make you laugh out loud anymore, it takes it a step further.

This is a prime example of the "one-take" wonder, where no matter that the shot is good or usable or not, whatever that first take got is going into the final product. You'll see extras staring right at the camera, supposedly dead people flinching at the sound of a gun, hilarious dialogue, obviously glued on red stars half falling off to represent Russian tanks, punches being thrown, but the person on the receiving end not even reacting, and the list goes on and on. You'd never know based on this that Golan had ever directed a film prior to this because this is incredibly cheap, fast and amateurish. But holy hell is it a blast!!

It's hilarious for all the wrong reasons and shockingly inept. The acting, even by veterans such as Charles Napier and Richard Lynch is surprisingly awful. And let me tell you, there is this hella strange 20 minute long chase sequence involving a gorgeous half-naked woman that will blow your mind. This is pure gold I tell you and if you enjoy terrible, yet fun films, this one is right up your alley.

You can currently stream Armstrong on Amazon Prime and TubiTV right now.