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Telling the truth, whether you want to hear it or not.

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March 2016

‘Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday’ Review

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**The following is an in-depth review of “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday” and does contain spoilers.**

Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday” is the film return of Paul Reubens’ iconic 80s character Pee-Wee Herman. The last time this character was seen in a motion picture was in 1988’s “Big Top Pee-Wee,” the follow-up to his 1985 feature film debut – and the film that introduced audiences to the directing talent of Tim Burton – “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.”

The film follows Pee-Wee, now a short order cook for a local diner. While working at the diner Pee-Wee meets “True Blood” star Joe Manganiello and the two immediately hit it off, often sharing the same thoughts and speaking in unison. Learning that Pee-Wee has become stuck in a rut in his regular life, Joe invites Pee-Wee to his birthday party in New York City so that Pee-Wee can get away from it all.

Pee-Wee embarks on a road trip to New York – completely ignoring the events of the original film by stating this is his first road trip ever – and things head south from there.

Pee-Wee inadvertently picks up three armed bank robbers who steal his car and ditch him in the middle of nowhere. He is offered a ride by a traveling joke salesman, and just ends up getting into one sticky situation after another while trying to make it to New York City.

The film manages to bring several celebrity cameos, but there is one key element it forgot to bring: humor.

There is not a single funny joke in this entire 90-minute debacle. Not only are the jokes unfunny, they’re mostly tired and groan-worthy. “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday” also fails at telling an engaging story. This is basically a re-imagining of “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” without the wonderful imagination and intriguing visuals of Tim Burton.

“Holiday” brings all of the fantasy and colorful characters the original had, but it doesn’t capture the imagination the way the original did. The original also had the benefit of having jokes that were legitimately funny, which this one doesn’t.

While “Big Top Pee-Wee” couldn’t even hope to compare to its predecessor, it at least kept the audience engaged and at least slightly entertained. Most of the time, I found myself actually feeling sorry for “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.” It was trying so hard, and failing so badly. It was almost like watching a small child playing his heart out on the little league baseball diamond, and just not being any good. This movie truly made my heart hurt.

“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” made me a fan of the Pee-Wee character and of Tim Burton. Over 30 years later, that film is still enjoyable. “Holiday” won’t be remembered 30 years from now. It won’t even be remembered 30 minutes from now. It’s literally depressing how bad this movie is, and how great it could have been.

The most die-hard Pee-Wee fans might find something to enjoy about this film, but I’m not sure if die-hard Pee-Wee fans even exist anymore. I don’t just recommend you skip this film, I recommend you run away from it for dear life.

I would gladly sell my soul to the devil right now to get back the 90 minutes I spent watching this movie.

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and check out my column at TheBlaze.

‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ Brings Frank Miller’s Batman to Life

Author’s Note: Due to a large editorial load at TheBlaze, they have not yet published my “Batman v Superman” review.  For my regular readers who are waiting on it, I have decided to publish here on my personal blog.

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**The following is an in-depth review of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and does contain spoilers.**

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” has taken the superhero movie genre and turned it completely on its head.

Here we’re presented with a Batman who tortures, maimes and yes, even kills with reckless abandon when the situation requires it. While Batman never wantonly murders anyone – everytime Batman kills, it’s clearly self-defense – he does stack a lot of bodies.

“Batman v Superman” is a complex film. Not just that it has a lot going on – which it does – but that it isn’t really what comes to mind when you think “superhero movie.” If that’s the movie you’re looking for, “Captain America: Civil War” comes out May 6th.

“Batman v Superman” is much more than a cheap, exciting, popcorn flick. It has layers upon layers of subtext and nuance, something these films are generally devoid of. If you are of the mind that superhero movies need to be “fun” or that they are only “cheap entertainment,” then this movie isn’t for you. If, however, you’re willing to explore what the genre could be, and not only what it has been – something the comic books have been exploring for decades – then there may be something here for you.

Leonard Maltin, in his review for Indie Wire, wondered why superhero movies aren’t fun anymore. To that I would say, they are. Over at Marvel. Warner Bros. and DC Comics are trying to do something different, something that brings new things to the table and tells deeper and more mature stories. For that, they should at least be commended for taking risks.

“Batman v Superman” follows on from the events from “Man of Steel,” although it’s mentioned that two years have passed since Superman’s fight with General Zod and the near-destruction of Metropolis. It’s been said that “Batman v Superman” isn’t a sequel to “Man of Steel,” but I disagree. The events of that film have a profound lead-in to the events of this one.

It’s revealed that Bruce Wayne was present in Metropolis during the battle and many of his friends were killed when Superman and Zod took out a Wayne Industries office building, prompting Batman’s mistrust of Superman and his power. That does beg the question as to why it took Batman two whole years to do anything about the “Superman threat,” and that is a question that goes unanswered.

Likewise, Superman begins to learn of Batman and his brutality – like physically branding criminals with a bat-emblem – and he feels as though that brand of “justice” shouldn’t be allowed to run rampant. These feuding ideologies are ultimately what lead to the titular battle in which Batman dons an extremely Frank Miller-inspired suit of armor.

The entire movie, in fact, is very much an adaptation of Frank Miller’s version of the Dark Knight from the graphic novels “Batman: Year One,” “All-Star Batman and Robin” and most apparently “The Dark Knight Returns.” The latter being Miller’s first work on the character.

Admittedly, it’s Frank Miller’s influence that may cause the most division among the audience. Miller’s Batman is a bit of a bastard, and all of that is present in Ben Affleck’s performance of the character. In that, Miller’s Batman can sometimes be a bitter pill to swallow. He’s not a nice person, and for a lot of people that can come off as unsettling.

This isn’t the first Batman film to take inspiration from Frank Miller. Both Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan drew heavily from Miller’s work when crafting their respective translations of the character. Here, however, it is almost straight Frank Miller with no chaser.

“Batman v Superman” doesn’t just adopt a tone – and costumes – from Miller, but many scenes are panels pulled straight from “The Dark Knight Returns” and plopped onto the screen. This was something that director Zack Snyder did so well with “Watchmen,” and he does it just as well here. While “BvS” is in no way an adaptation of “Dark Knight,” anyone who has read the graphic novel will be delighted with some of the shots and scenes that were culled from the book.

The movie isn’t without it’s share of faults. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor jumps out as a big one. He is probably the worst version of the character to be done in film or television. Eisenberg plays the Luthor character as though he were playing the Joker or the Riddler, and that just isn’t Lex Luthor. Luthor should be brilliant and cunning, not psychotic and crazy.

There are also several parts in the film where it feels like something is missing. This is, of course, because it is. In order to secure its PG-13 rating and to keep the run time reasonable, somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 minutes were excised from the final film. While the film still makes sense without this footage, one could definitely see where it should probably be. Warner Bros. has announcedthat this 30 minutes of footage will be restored to the film for its home video release in July.

The bottom line is that “Batman v Superman” is a good film. It’s a very good film. It borders on near perfect, if you’re looking for something outside the normal superhero movie box. If you’re a fan of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight – or if you’re a fan of Marvel’s “Daredevil” series on Netflix, which also draws heavily from Frank Miller’s work on that character – this is a must-see.

If you just want to see a movie where two superheroes punch each other in the face, wait for “Civil War.”

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and check out my column at TheBlaze.

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