Baby Driver, Edgar Wright and 5 of the Best Soundtracks of the 21st Century

After months of waiting Baby Driver is coming out and looks to be a huge hit. As of this writing Baby Driver has an impressive 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and with good reason. Director Edgar Wright’s first foray into straight up action movies is an absolute blast taking classic action film tropes and recreating them in ways never seen before. The biggest reason this all works is the strength of the soundtrack. Mixing a variety of genres tracks such as “Hocus Pocus” by Focus and Bob & Earl’s “Harlem Shuffle” blend seamlessly into what is happening on screen.

As important as the soundtrack for Baby Driver is making it so integral to a film is nothing new for Edgar Wright. Contemporary music has been crucial to his work as early as Spaced and Shaun of the Dead. In fact since the beginning of the 21st century we have seen a bit of a shift when it comes to soundtracks. Very rarely are songs made exclusively for a film but instead are used to punctuate a scene. It has led to not only the discovery of older artists but to exposing classic songs to a whole new generation. Needless to say it’s not only a great time for fans of movies but music as well. So in honor of Baby Driver here is a look at 6 of the best movie soundtracks of the 21st century.
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7 Hip Hop We Need After ‘All Eyez On Me’

It is 2017 hip hop is bigger than it has ever been. No longer relegated to the Bronx in just 40 years rap has become the biggest force in music today. More recently we have seen this once underground movement make the jump to the silver screen. While the first rap film was 1982’s Wild Style movies like Friday, 8 Mile and Hustle & Flow have proven to be hits with critics and fans alike. Most recently we have seen a wave of hip hop biographies getting green lit thanks to the success of Straight Outta Compton. The latest of which being a biography about the legendary Tupac Shakur in All Eyez On Me.

Born to members of the Black Panthers Shakur would get his start with hip hop group Digital Underground. Going solo shortly thereafter he would become one of the most celebrated rappers in hip hop history thanks to his vivid imagery and his ability to fuse social commentary with west coast party anthems. The first victim of the West Coast-East Coast feud #Tupac was a gifted lyricist that reached peaks then unheard of for a rapper. Needless to say when it came to rappers to get the big screen treatment he was near the top. In fact, hip hop is full of colorful characters like Pac that have lived an interesting life too unreal to believe. So in honor of All Eyez On Me, here are 7 rappers that deserve a movie of their own and the perfect scene.

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8 Badass Women To Watch After ‘Wonder Woman’

After bringing in an impressive $11 million at Thursday preview screenings and a lot of positive buzz (93% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing) DC’s Wonder Woman roared into the box office and became one of the biggest hits of the summer. In fact, it is the highest grossing film from a female director making over $200 million worldwide and it is easy to see why. #WonderWoman has won over audiences with some of the best #action in a #DC film so far, an inspiring hero and the kind of earnest storytelling we don’t see in superhero movies nowadays.

While we tend to think of the female action hero as a rarity they actually have a long history in film. The roots of which can be dated back to the 1933 detective film serial The Perils of Pauline. Since these humble beginnings we have seen women be just as good as men on the big screen. Whether it’s in horror, science fiction or action women have been kicking ass all around the world. So, after you’re done watching Diana of Themyscira tear up the big screen here are 8 badass women for you to check out afterwards.

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5 Superheroines Who Need A Movie After ‘Wonder Woman’ (And Who Should Play Them)

Reviews for Wonder Woman are now coming out and things are looking good. Currently at 96% on Rottentomatoes it is one of the highest rated films of the year. And as silly as it is to say these reviews have me relieved. With this being the latest in the #DCEU and the first female superhero movie a lot was riding on #WonderWoman. If it is a big hit at the box office it would not only be the first critically acclaimed movie for the DCEU but would open the door for more female-led superhero fare in the future.

Perhaps predicting the film’s success Warner Brothers had already announced a #Batgirl movie back in March. They have even taken a book from the Marvel Cinematic Universe by nabbing fan favorite Joss Whedon to write, direct and produce the film. With shows like Buffy and Dollhouse under his belt Whedon working on a film for the Darknight Damsel seems like a perfect fit. Between this and the Margot Robbie produced Gotham Sirens film DC seems to be heavily investing in their female roster of heroes. It’s certainly a solid strategy. With Marvel just now giving the green light for Captain Marvel DC has not only taken the lead when it comes to female representation but set the gold standard if critics are to be believed. With Wonder Woman eyeing a $65 million opening pursuing female superheroes seems like a winning strategy. If DC Films decides to go with this here are five superheroines that would be perfect for the big screen.

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The Future of the Blog and a Brief Update

So, it’s been awhile. After maintaining this blog for five years I took a break. More specifically I moved elsewhere. After an offer in the comment section I moved on to do the Moviepilot/Creators gimmick. All things considered it has worked out. With that said I would like to get back to utilizing this blog in some capacity. So while not my primary source for writing I will try to update this more.

As for what I have been writing, a lot of the same stuff. It can be found HERE.

Have fun, don’t run

— Douchebag Batman

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Wrestling Is Reel- Kickboxer: Vengeance 

Originally the plan was to review Countdown at the end of the month. I was all set to go with that when I saw that not only that Kickboxer: Vengeance was on VOD. A movie with former wrestler Dave Bautista, Jean Claude Van Damme AND UFC fighters? I knew I had to review it. So in a special edition of Wrestling Is Reel I will be looking at Kickboxer: Vengeance.

With big supporting roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and Spectre it is easy to forget that Dave Bautista got his start as a professional wrestler. Starting in 2000 he would make his WWE debut as Deacon Batista, the evil enforcer for crooked preacher Reverend D-Von. Despite this horrible gimmick he would soon rise up the ranks after forming Evolution with Triple H, Ric Flair and The Condemned 2 star Randy Orton. Winning the World Heavyweight Championship at 2005’s Wrestlemania 22 he would consistently be in the main event feuding with legends like Triple H, The Undertaker and John Cena before leaving over creative differences.
After a brief foray in MMA and filming a little movie called Guardians of the Galaxy Batista would return to WWE in early 2013. Initially pushed as a good guy the fans quickly turned on him in favor of underdog Daniel Bryan. A bit of a fiasco Batista would last a few more months before returning to Hollywood to film today’s entry, Kickboxer: Vengeance.

Kickboxer: Vengeance

Wrestler- Batista
Wrestling Moves Used- 3
Real Stars- Jean Claude Van Damme, Gina Carano

Kurt Sloane is there for his brother Eric, a rising martial arts star. Even as he goes to fight in Thailand despite his wishes. When Eric is killed in the ring by Tong Po Kurt looks to Eric’s trainer Master Durand to train him and take revenge against the brutal fighter.

If this sounds exactly like the first movie that’s because it pretty much is. While I expect reboots to be similar to the original they usually add something new to the plot. Instead we pretty much get the same movie but with a grittier aesthetic. Things aren’t helped when the whole thing is oddly edited. While the fights look okay, if a little shaky, things like a tacked on romance come out of nowhere. It is literally two scenes mid-training montage and a “you can’t fight” scene near the end. It’s just a weird choice that is made worse when it looks cheap.

All of this could be forgiven if Kickboxer: Vengeance had a good lead to carry the movie. Who we get is Alain Moussi. A stuntman for films like Brick Mansions, X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Marine 3 and it’s easy to see why his acting roles have been bit parts. Quite frankly he wasn’t really a good actor. And while the same could be said of Van Damme in the original he still had this dumb pretty boy charm that worked. Moussi, on the other hand, seems more like a blank slate. Never emoting to much he just exists to stare blankly and kick things in the face. To his credit he does that quite well. In fact he’s probably one of the more talented movie fighters I’ve seen in awhile. Still as skilled as he is as a martial artist he just can’t carry a full movie. This is especially apparent when he shares screen time with Jean Claude Van Damme.

Kickboxer-Vengeance lead.png

Van Damme is perfect as the faux-Mr. Miyagi trainer Master Durand. Instead of being the generic ass kicker we see in most direct to video fare they give the Muscles from Brussels a bit of personality and it goes a long way. Whether on screen with Moussi or Georges St. Pierre he steals every scene he is in. I am also happy to say he can still “turn it on” when it comes to the action scenes. While this isn’t too much of a surprise it’s still nice to see him do martial arts as opposed to run and gun like most of his recent films. Seeing JCVD take on the GSP was the movie fight scene I didn’t know I needed to watch.

In fact the fight scenes are pretty good in general. While hardly the most innovative stuff each fight felt unique from each other. Rarely relying just on martial arts we get a nice of mix of hand-to-hand, weapons and variety in environments. From fights in the hills of Thailand to streets fights on top of elephants (yes that actually happens) the fight scenes are well choreographed and easily the best part of Kickboxer: Vengeance.

Helping the believability is the casting of the other fighters. The biggest of which being Batista as Tong Po. While the role is a bit generic Batista brings the menace and a screen presence to the role that make it stand out. He is able to make every throw and Muay Thai knee look believable. We also have former UFC Heavyweight champions Fabricio Werdum, Cain Velasquez and a non-fighting Gina Carano making appearances. Surprisingly it is former UFC Welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre that made the most impact on me. Given he isn’t the best actor but he is perfect comic relief as the drunk Kavi. He also seemed the most adept at stage fighting. His background in MMA as well as his athleticism had his fight scenes looking the best on film.

kickboxer vengence batista moussi.jpg

One has to have certain expectations Going into a direct to video Kickboxer reboot starring an ex-wrestler and Jean Claude Van Damme. Mostly that it will be a silly action flick not high art. For the most part it delivers. The supporting cast manages to be fun and the action scenes surprisingly work. Sadly the whole thing is derailed by a terrible lead and an overall cheap aesthetic derail the whole thing. Kickboxer: Vengeance can be fun and I think that it has its moments. But in all honesty I might recommend the sequels instead. They deliver the cheesy action you’re looking for more than this did.

Rating- D+

Did you see Kickboxer: Vengeance? What is your favorite Van Damme movie? Let me know in the comments.

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Wrestling Is Reel- Big Show Edition

In my review for The Marine 3 I mentioned that The Miz was one of two wrestlers I expected to be okay actors. The other wrestler I had in mind was WWE Superstar The Big Show. Standing at 7’0 and 440 lbs he has the unique look that works not only wrestling but films as well in films like The Waterboy and Jingle All The Way.

Debuting in 1995 as The Giant he has been pushed as a megastar thanks to his one of a kind look. Despite this whether it was in WCW or the decade plus in WWE nobody seems to have really used him as much as they could. A shame because he has shown himself to be a pretty versatile performer. Whether he is a babyface or a heel, a serious competitor or a comedic entertainer Big Show has been pretty good in every role. Nearly 20 years since he was first appeared as the giant Santa in Jingle All The Way we will see if he can use what he has learned since as the villain in 2015’s Vendetta.


vendetta banner

Wrestler- The Big Show
Wrestling Moves Used- 2
Real Stars- Dean Cain

Life for hero cop Mason Danvers (Dean Cain) goes upside down when criminal Victor Abbott (Big Show) murders his wife. Mason deliberately gets arrested to extract revenge. In prison he quickly learns of a dangerous criminal empire behind the walls.

From the sounds of the plot summary this seems like a pretty standard prison movie which, well, it is. Justin Shady’s script is the definition of basic. Thankfully it is elevated by the Soska Sisters. Their follow up to See No Evil 2 the duo do surprisingly well in their first action film. Each action scenes is well staged with some decent fight choreography. It is especially impressive since they had to tackle a bigger riot scene with tons going on. They also avoid the frenetic, quick cut style letting us see everything.

vendetta big show dean cain

Most notable is the duo letting their horror sensibilities be front and center by never shying away from the gore. It seems that whatever restraint they had on See No Evil 2 is gone since each fight is more brutal than the last. In fact it is one of the more violent action movies in quite some time with some absolutely brutal kills. Is this a cover for a weak story? Perhaps. But when it is this entertaining it is hard to complain.

Now for a movie like this you need a good lead. Someone who can get the most out of the material. Who we get is former Superman Dean Cain. To his credit I don’t think he was bad. In fact I was surprised  by how well he did in such an action heavy role. By the time he’s in the prison he makes an okay protagonist. I just think he was a bit one note. Just a lot of punching, grimacing and leaning against walls. Nothing wrong with that just a bit bland.

Thankfully the same can’t be said of Big Show. Admittedly his role is just as one note as the villainous Victor Abbott. The difference is how much more appropriate he is in the role. Abbott needs to be a brutal monster and Big Show has mastered that for the past 20 years in the ring. Seeing him fighting off a mob of prison guards just makes sense. If I had to make a complaint, and it really isn’t  much of one, it is how odd it is to see Big Show in the real world.  Things like him sitting in seats for normal people is oddly distracting. Nobody’s fault really it just takes you out of the movie a bit.

As good as Big Show is the real star of the film is Michael Eklund. A regular for WWE Studios  (he has been in The Marine 3 and See No Evil 2) he puts in the perfect slimy evil warden performance. A bit evil Southern gentleman he has this weird inflection and makes odd word choices when speaking. The whole thing makes for one of the more amusing performances. Eklund steals every scene he is in and is definitely an unsung hero for WWE Studios.

vendetta big show

I was oddly excited to watch Vendetta. Going in it had all the makings for a fun B-movie and it delivered. What it lacks in originality it makes up in enjoyable performances and style. Is it high art? Hardly. But Vendetta is a fun ride and hopefully we see more action fare from the Soska sisters.

Rating- C


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