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Retro Review: Jailhouse Rock



On Jan. 8 of this year, I was driving home from work and flipping through the local radio stations when I stayed on the oldies station. The DJ mentioned it was Elvis’ birthday and they were playing some of his hit songs. After a couple of songs, it went back to their standard music programs playing some of the biggest hits from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Elvis’s music was groundbreaking and was in a league of his own. He merged the songs and style that people of all race and gender could enjoy.

He was the king of rock and roll and his music continues to be listened to and appreciated even after decades since he has long since been gone. Although his music still lives on in great appreciation, the movies that starred Elvis isn’t remembered too fondly. A lot of the movies are campy, silly and was not the best written kind. Many were treated like drive-thru films to attract the youth of the day to see the films. Jailhouse Rock is the first Elvis film I ever watched. I have no previous knowledge of many of his films, but I know this launched the song and his stardom to the next degree after it was released. With that being said, is the movie any good or enjoyable? Well, I’ll be reviewing the film based on plot, acting ability and musicality. Does Elvis back up his music talent with acting talent or will he fade in the cold Kentucky rain. Let’s sit back and review Jailhouse Rock.

The story of this film features Elvis as a blue-collar man who ends up in jail when he kills a man with his bare hands while defending a woman from being harassed by some of the local gentlemen. While in jail, his cellmate (a former country singer), would lull the cellmates to sleep with his acoustic guitar. He tries his hand at it and even performs at a local jail variety show. The cellmate tells his to pursue music, so, once he is released, he tries his hand at becoming a musician and singer.

Along the way, he meets a woman who happens to work for a music company and she and his start their own business and become famous. Elvis learns about growing pains, his immature attitude and eventually becomes what the typical Hollywood star is thought about; becoming vain, uninterested and selfish. The film is the rise and slight dip in Elvis’s portrayal of a singer becoming famous, going to Hollywood and becoming self indulgent. The plot is simple and not really the most interesting. Elvis never really struggled in the music business once he was out of jail. He meets a beautiful woman, wows her with his look and some singing prowess and ultimately becomes a heartthrob to many younger woman who fancy his singing and dancing ability. The plot is all about Elvis adjusting to each new obstacle in his life and making as much money as he could, which comes out in the middle of the movie for some reason that is never addressed.

The acting is mediocre but Elvis’s style of acting is “unique.” When he is singing as a bar/burlesque style club, a guy in the audience isn’t paying attention and is laughing when talking to a woman. Elvis sees this, hops off the stage, mock laughs at him, slams the guitar on the table and storms off. When I first saw this, I busted out laughing. It was sudden and out of nowhere and it was something seeing Elvis having a temper tantrum. Granted I thought that, but, throughout the movie, he does that a couple of times and each time comes out of left field and it wasn’t needed.

At a party he was invited to, an older woman asked him a question about music and he said he didn’t know what the hell she was talking about and stormed out of the house. These weird tantrums and sudden bursts of insecurity was very distracting and the main problem was that it wasn’t needed and served no purpose besides Elvis wanting attention to subjects only he knows, which makes his character immature and pretty pretentiously annoying. Although he does have his charm, his character is pretty unlikable and when I see Elvis, I want to like him. I want to root for him but, watching him in this film, and his acting ability, makes me want to just see him get punched (spoilers, that does happen). Another thing about his acting in the film, whether it was all on him or the director, is that when a new woman would catch his attention, he would have creep face on. He wouldn’t look at their eyes, just their body and his mouth would be open and he turns into a mouth breather. It was creepy and just shows the females in the movie that they want Elvis to stare at them like that because when he does that, he wants and desires you. How poetic.

When you talk Elvis, music is a factor. Jailhouse Rock is the hit song that came from the movie and one of his most famous hits. The actual song is played and it is fantastic. It has some rock and roll and rockabilly styling that was entertaining. The rest of the songs, well, they’re boring. They’re country style and slow. They don’t have personality and they sound like songs you sing when you want to serenade someone. Granted this film was made in 1957 and rock and roll was still a new wave of music, I wish some of the songs still had some personality. A good country song isn’t bad for the movie but the main situation is that they played the same songs over and over again. Elvis’s audition tape was sung over 5 times throughout the film and it was not jailhouse rock. His slow songs are good once in a while but after getting amped up with the title song, I wanted to see and hear more and not downplay his oomph and singing personality. The rest of the songs in the movie are forgettable and don’t leave an impression with me.

Overall, this movie isn’t how I want to remember Elvis. Granted, some of his beach movies look campy also, but maybe they will offer more likability out of him. Based on what I saw of this movie, it wasn’t what I was hoping for. Elvis is a immature baby and treats people like dirt except when he pursues his various women just based solely on looks and not because of capability. His character is so unappealing that I wondered what it was that made him so interesting in the film that women would be desiring him. It was the fifties and people often say it was a much more simpler time. I wasn’t alive and my parents were still babies, so, I cannot get a reference from them for how it was. Regardless, the film had some okay moments but, in the overall plot, musicality and acting ability of our star, it was lackluster and monotonous. I will honor Elvis by listening to his music and hearing his soulful voice break through the speakers and get me feeling good or melancholy based on which song I hear from him.


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Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy



Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.

The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.

I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.

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Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?



Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.

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The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!  



Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.

So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.

The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.

Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.

First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.

Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.

Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.

Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.

To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!

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