AMV of the Day: Dracula No Innocence (Castlevania AMV)


It’s Christopher Lee’s 100th birthday so how about another Castlevania AMV of the Day?

Anime: Castlevania

Song: Gloria Regali by Tommee Profitt

CreatorSyrian Spielberg AMV (as always, please consider subscribing to this creator’s YouTube channel)

Past AMVs of the Day

Film Review: Top Gun: Maverick (dir. by Joseph Kosinski)


From the moment it was announced, I had low expectations for Top Gun: Maverick. I figured it was just Tom Cruise milking his other franchise for what it’s worth. I mean, I adore the Mission: Impossible movies, but was there ever really a need to return to the Top Gun Universe? I didn’t believe so, particularly with Joseph Kosinski being involved. I enjoyed Oblivion and I’ll die on the hill that is Tron: Legacy, but also recognize that Tron: Legacy could have been a better film if the writers just didn’t paste the original film and wipe it down with a new coat of paint. I think I may have incorrectly put that on Kosinski, rather than the writers.

Top Gun: Maverick does pretty much the same thing here. If you’ve seen the original Top Gun, you already have the blueprint for the sequel in your head. You could play both films side by side, and not counting for the pacing between them, align each scene with the sequel’s counterpart. Does that even make for a sequel? Did we learn nothing from Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

I don’t know. I didn’t hate Top Gun: Maverick at all. It’s just that odd feeling at having seen it all before and almost completely guessing what’s going to happen next. If you can get past that, it’s a good film. By the end of the movie, I wanted to buy a computer, a Thrustmaster HOTAS set and a copy of DCS to fly with.

Top Gun: Maverick continues the story of ace fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, once the 2nd Best at Top Gun. Now testing special aircraft, he lands himself into trouble again with the Navy, only to be sent back to Top Gun. Yes, he was an instructor there and this new film references this. However, Maverick’s return has him training a team of elite pilots on a special bombing mission requiring some unorthodox maneuvers. In training the pilots, the best will be declared the mission leader. When Maverick discovers that one of pilots is Brad Bradshaw (Miles Teller, Whiplash), son of his deceased Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) Goose, tensions erupt. Can Maverick get the team to improve and be ready for the mission?

Writing wise, Top Gun: Maverick isn’t bad. It gets in, does the job and gets right back out. No scene is drawn out too far, no storyline angle seems to be mulled on. With two main writers and three screenplay writers (including Mission: Impossible‘s Christopher McQuarrie), it’s pretty tight. Again, there’s the problem of using the same story map as the original. There doesn’t appear to be many obstacles for them to hurdle, storywise. Like Underwater, having so many familiar sites and scenes helps. What I did like was that it didn’t point many fingers at any one place. The opposing fighters are “5th Gen” craft, but you don’t really get any kind of feeling of where they’re from. Were they Russian? Serbian? Chinese? Canadian? Unless I missed something in the watch, I didn’t catch who the enemy was. They were just men in planes with missiles and guns.

I liked the cast here. Jon Hamm (Tag)makes for a good opponent to Cruise, and they have good scenes together. There’s also something of a love story to the film, though it’s light. While it would have been cool to have Kelly McGinnis back, Jennifer Connelly (Alita: Battle Angel) made for a good replacement and her character’s okay. For the young pilots, I particularly liked Lewis Pullman’s (Bad Times at the El Royale) Bob and Monica Barbero (NBCs Chicago Justice) Phoenix, along with Glen Powell’s (Everybody Wants Some!) Hangman. Each one brought some style and attitude to the mix.

By far the best entry here is Val Kilmer’s return as Tom “Iceman” Kazansky. The story was written in a way to include his issues with speech, given his cancer diagnosis. He honestly has one of most memorable moments in the film, and I loved how they tied his character back to Maverick’s. I have to give some kudos to Cruise, Kilmer and company for that. If there’s any other reason to see the film other than the planes, that was it.

Oh, the flight and fight scenes! Goodness, what a treat! I usually sit in the front row, where no one ever sits. Since the Regal RPX screen is huge (but not Lincoln Center IMAX beastly), that first row is some distance away. The sense of speed was cool and there were some fantastic shots both in cockpit and out, which had me leaning in my seat with the action with every hard left and right. While I’ve always been more of a fan of the F-14 Tomcat used in the original, there is a legitimate reason for the team to have to use the F-18 Hornet. While the main mission feels a lot like the trench run from Star Wars: A New Hope, it’s a great sequence overall. Watching Maverick make a plane dance is a sight to behold, and there is at least one scene in the film that contained an awesome thrust vectoring moment. Think of thrust vectoring like drifting a plane in midair the way you would drift a car in a turn. It’s hard to describe, but beautiful when seen.

Musically, I don’t have much to say. While Lorne Balfe (Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Hans Zimmer (Dune), Harold Faltermeyer (Top Gun) and Lady Gaga (House of Gucci) all worked on this, I can’t say that any tune other than the original Top Gun Anthem really stood out for me. Not a terrible thing at all, just not extremely memorable. At least with Fallout, I was humming the 2nd half of “Stairs and Rooftops” until I bought the album. Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” is a great piece and ties in pretty well to where it’s used.

Overall, Top Gun: Maverick is a treat, and was better than I expected. It gets a little heavy handed at following the same path of the original, the but the new story is enjoyable enough to have it stand out on it own.

Artist Profile: Stockton Mulford (1886 — 1960)


Born in Pennsylvania but raised in California and Oregon, Stockton Mulford lost his right eye in a childhood accident but he never lost his ambition to become an artist.  With a glass eye and a painter’s easel that was given to him by his father, Mulford worked part-time as a bank clerk while taking art classes during the weekend.  In 1907, deciding that it was all or nothing, Mulford moved to New York City and devoted himself full time to art.

After studying at the Art Students League,  Mulford found quick success as an illustrator and become one of the busier artists of the pulp era.  After he retired from illustrating in 1946, he moved to Connecticut and, at the age of 60, he became an expert cabinet maker and found a second career restoring furniture for local museums.  He eventually passed away in 1960, at the age of seventy-four.

Below is just a small sampling of Stockton Mulford’s work:

Scene That I Love: Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing Play Pool In The Skull


100 years ago, on this date, Christopher Lee was born in London.  After serving in the secret service during World War II and reportedly inspiring his cousin, Ian Fleming, to create the character of James Bond, Christopher Lee went on to have a legendary acting career.  Though he was best known for playing Dracula, Lee appeared in almost every genre of film and he always gave a good performance.  Even when the film was bad, Lee was good.

Yesterday, for Peter Cushing’s birthday, I shared a scene of him and Lee in The Satanic Rites of Dracula.  Today, for Lee’s birthday, I’m sharing a scene between him and Cushing in 1965’s The Skull.  Though The Skull isn’t one of the strongest films that the pair made for Amicus, it’s worth watching for the performances of Cushing and Lee.  Often cast as rivals on screen, the two were, in reality, the best of friends and Lee often said that he never really emotionally recovered from Cushing’s death.

In the scene below, Lee and Cushing are obviously having a ball trying to outact one another while playing simple game of pool and discussing slightly esoteric concerns.

 

A Blast From The Past: Vincent (dir by Tim Burton)


Today is Vincent Price’s birthday!

Price was born 111 years ago, in St. Louis, Missouri.  When he first began his film career in the 1930s, he was promoted as a leading man and he was even tested for the role of Ashley Wilkes in Gone With The Wind.  (Imagine that!)  However, Price would find his greatest fame as a horror icon. 

Among the fans of Price’s horror films was a young animator named Tim Burton.  In 1982, Price and Burton would work together for the first time, with Price providing the narration for a short, stop motion film that Burton had written and directed.  Called Vincent, the film was about a seven year-old boy named Vincent who wanted to be — can you guess? — Vincent Price!  The six-minute film follows Vincent as he gets involved in all sorts of macabre activities.  Of course, as Vincent’s mom points out, Vincent isn’t actually a monster or mad scientist.  He’s just a creative child with an overactive imagination.  (To say the short feels autobiographical on Burton’s part would be an understatement.)  The animation is outstanding and full of wit but it really is Vincent Price’s wonderful narration that makes this short film a classic.

Both Price and Burton would later call making this film one of the most creatively rewarding collaborations of their respective careers.

On Vincent Price’s birthday, enjoy Vincent!