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Keanu Reeves is one of modern cinema’s great oddities. No one might accuse him of being a master thespian, or even being particularly versatile, and depending upon whom one asks his acting skills range from passable to nonexistent. But once in a while, a character so well tailored to his particular strengths appears on his resume that proves why Reeves in the power player he has become today. Neo was such a role; John Constantine another; Klaatu of 2008’s The Day The Earth Stood Still remake might have been yet another had the film around him been up to snuff; and now along comes John Wick, the lead of a slick, no-frills shoot-em-up that’s sure to please fans of old school revenge flicks.

Our first introduction to Wick is the subdued, stoic Keanu we’re most familiar with, still in mourning over his wife (a there-and-gone Bridget Moynahan) whose relationship with John is illustrated in a few short, wordless flashbacks and an intimate iPhone video used to bookend the film. With the arrival - and subsequent loss - of a special pre-arranged gift, however, Keanu runs the gauntlet of human emotion and sells Wick’s turmoil like a pro. Even before a monologue late in the movie spells it out in plain and simple terms, the audience knows full well it isn’t so much the loss itself, which is tragic enough (animal lovers beware, this film will not be kind to you), but what the loss represents that drives Wick over the edge, and once that switch is flipped, any attempt at story complexity goes straight out the window to make room for as much carnage as humanly possible. In this, John Wick does anything but disappoint; Wick moves with cold, swift precision, wasting few movements and intending every shot as a kill. The camera is also kind to the audience in this respect, following the action with a minimum of obnoxious close-ups or quick editing. The film is shootout-heavy with a few hand to hand scuffles, but in such case favoring rough-and-tumble brawls over choreographed dances.

Alfie Allen as Iosef, essentially serving as a prop for which to draw Keanu from one action scene to another, is easy enough to hate, though the character isn’t vastly different from the one he plays on Game of Thrones; an entitled manchild with an inflated opinion of himself who manages to piss off all the wrong people and cause an awful lot of trouble. Adrianne Palicki appears as Perkins, a rival assassin with whom Wick shares a brief but amusing bullet-riddled “courtship” of sorts, bolstering her own action-movie credentials right on the heels of her debut as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest acquisition. Michael Nyqvist adds some welcome color to the otherwise hollow role as Viggo, Iosef’s father and Wick’s former employer. He garners probably the most of the film’s many unexpected laughs; the humor here is pitch-black, most often delivered in uncomfortable silences and single-word responses, and result from jokes about the dynamic of the “assassin’s life” - like how the question of “Where are the police during all this?” is swept out the way in but a few short sentences, establishing that even the cops know who John Wick is and want NO piece of his business.

Alongside a fanciful Ian McShane and an aggravated John Leguizamo, who are mostly accents to the film’s star-studdedness, John Wick boasts a surprising conga-line of cameos from asskickers of varying pedigrees - Keanu’s Matrix Reloaded costar Daniel Bernhardt, finally swinging fists and feet in a major motion picture again; former WWE star Kevin Nash; Mr. “Mayhem Like Me” himself Dean Winters in the odd role of Viggo’s non-Russian-speaking right hand man; even Legend of the Seeker’s Bridget Regan pops up as a sympathetic (and foxy) tattooed barmaid.

While the film revels in the simplicity of its plot, it leaves very little to spoil. As much fun as it gets watching the action unfold, major points of the story can be called well in advance, and Wick takes a few too many detours to reach his targets, though this is a minor issue next to the messiness of the film’s overlong final stretch, which could have been solved with some fine-tuning to the script. Once the main thrust of the story is concluded, the film rolls on for roughly another fifteen minutes to tie up certain loose ends, namely that of Willem Dafoe’s character. Dafoe’s Marcus is meant to have ambiguous intentions where Wick’s mission is concerned, but again, one can predict the role he plays fairly easily. The need to close the book on his part leads to several further action beats, which, while well-executed, close with a superfluous one-on-one duel with an antagonist who pretty much has a target for Keanu’s fists spray-painted on his face.

John Wick may not be deep, but it’s anything but brainless. It’s flashy without being ostentatious, and it strikes a booming emotional chord early on to get the audience in on the insanity and root for its hero without a shred of guilt. It’s not a game changer or anything meant to turn the genre on its head, but it succeeds big time at being a damn good tale of bad guys vs. not-quite-so-bad guys doing incredibly violent things to one another. And the moral is one anybody can get behind: Never mess with an assassin’s housepet.

  • Mood: Zeal
  • Listening to: Lia Ices - Wish You Were Here
  • Reading: Jasper Fforde - Lost in a Good Book
  • Watching: NOT Gotham
Ka Is A Wheel by shokxone-studios
Ka Is A Wheel
One of my latest in t-shirt mashups. Stephen King's The Dark Tower has been a favorite literary series for a few years now, so that's the obvious part of this design. The not so obvious part is the visual influence of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, in that the figure of the Gunslinger is based on the foreground figure of Laturec's classic "Moulin Rouge" poster (with some license taken in the face to resemble a certain classic film cowboy that influenced the creation of Roland Deschain), thus the overall squiggly-ness of the linework. The shading was fun to implement, and I finally had an excuse to put some speedpainting brushes to use since I found them on DA, like, a year ago.
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In need of geek wear that will make heads and turn and probably be scratched in confusion? You're in luck! My Smurfs/True Detective mashup "Blue King" is now available for the next three days at TeePublic! Get yours now and amaze your friends later!
  • Reading: Stephen King - The Stand
  • Watching: Under the Dome / The Strain
What follows are my immediate reactions to recent film viewings, some revisits, most first-time viewings, in the last few months, as originally posted on my Movie Fan Central page.

I really enjoyed MONEYBALL. Pitt and Hill make a great tag team of a downtrodden ex-player and an idealistic young'in making a play for something untested and scientific and therefore rejected by all the old fogies stuck doing things "the old fashioned way". It's not only a really good baseball flick, but an interesting examination of America's other great pastime, big money vs. no money.

***

THE RUNNING MAN: Holy crap, how have I missed out on this slice of cheeseball 80s awesome for so long??

***

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 is just as thrilling, funny, and heartfelt as the first, with not only the upgrades to its action sequences and emotional hooks you expect of a sequel, but with an additional maturity that warrants it all. This is turning into a film series that doesn't forget its audience is growing up, and treats its stories and characters the same way.

***

DEAR MR. WATTERSON is a very interesting watch. Not just an examination of the influence of and on Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes, but how his craft was affected by his early career and the state of the comic strip industry at the height of C&H's run, as well as an analysis of his ongoing refusal to merchandise the characters. Very much a labor of love for the filmmaker and communicated thusly in the production values and choice of interviewees.

***

I revisited Michael Bay's first TRANSFORMERS for the first time in years last night. I still love the shit out of the over-the-top direction, robot designs, and bot-on-bot action, but the goofball aspects have not aged well. Most of the human characters are insufferable, and I found I had the best time where the military troop with Duhamel and Tyrese were concerned. But, some credit where it's due; Mikaela is a legit proactive female lead and not just a damsel in distress (like Rosie HW in Dark of the Moon), and during the finale I kind of liked her having one very brief breakdown moment before putting on her "let's get down to business" face and driving Bumblebee back into battle.

***

I'm gonna be the weirdo in the room and say TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON is the best Bayformers movie so far, and yes I think that IS saying a lot. It has the greatest spectacle, the biggest stakes, the most coherent story, the least amount of annoying bullshit (relatively speaking, anyway), and it's Shia and Bay's best work in the series. And while it's more than a little backward that Sam fights the hardest for Carly because she actually NEEDS saving, Rosie HW is a genuine charmer who has the HELL filmed out of her at every opportunity, so I don't hold it against the movie that her character is largely a do-nothing.

***

I had a good time with GET THE GRINGO. Mel Gibson may be insane, but he's still crazy-fun to watch in stuff like this. In a lot of ways, it felt like some sort of long-lost sequel to Payback.


***

Color me VERY impressed by SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED. It rises above its initial screwball premise with a touching look at wanting to reshape the past vs. living for the here and now, meanwhile throwing the viewer completely for a loop by the midpoint only to deliver a visual and emotional jaw-dropper at the end. If Colin Trevorrow can make this great a sci-fi flick with 95% zero CGI, I'm giddily excited to see what he pulls off with freaking DINOSAURS.


***

I am in indescribable awe of how utterly BORED I was by TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION. Even when trying its best to be the least racially/culturally insensitive of the series, the plot is as slapdash and convoluted as Revenge of the Fallen, the robot action feels mostly lethargic, and the human elements are just plain DRAINING. Not even Sophia Myles being hot or John Goodman being JOHN FREAKING GOODMAN AS AN AUTOBOT could save this. Your energy for this franchise is depleted, Bay, and it shows. MOVE ON.


***

THE SHARK IS STILL WORKING is informative, thorough, often quite funny (particularly the interview bits with Richard Dreyfuss), and in one instance jaw-dropping when Spielberg relates the story of the original Orca's demise. A fantastic documentary and fitting tribute to the masterwork that is JAWS.


***

If Terry Gilliam combined the setting of 12 Monkeys with the style of Brazil and crafted the whole thing as a satire of Atlas Shrugged (inasmuch as Atlas Shrugged isn't already patently ridiculous, anyway), the result might be something like SNOWPIERCER, an engagingly bizarre class-struggle parable that's equal parts grim and absurd, often sliding to either extreme and back again at the drop of a hat with no sympathy for any failure on the audience's part to acclimate. A fair lot of good buzz surrounded this going in, and I'm happy to report it lived up.

***

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is the anti-Transformers; a smart, involving drama and action thriller, free of gaping plot holes and juvenile antics, full of story-driven spectacle from its brilliant opening bookend to its mirror-image closer. Andy Serkis reigns as the king of motion-capture performance, and WETA's digital work often looks like practical makeup, giving the apes greater life. But the Academy need take note: WETA made a monkey out of him, but there is no Caesar without Serkis. Bring on WAR OF THE PLANET OF THE APES!
  • Mood: Satisfied
  • Listening to: Swordfish soundtrack
  • Reading: Stephen King - The Stand
  • Watching: Under the Dome / The Strain

Keanu Reeves is one of modern cinema’s great oddities. No one might accuse him of being a master thespian, or even being particularly versatile, and depending upon whom one asks his acting skills range from passable to nonexistent. But once in a while, a character so well tailored to his particular strengths appears on his resume that proves why Reeves in the power player he has become today. Neo was such a role; John Constantine another; Klaatu of 2008’s The Day The Earth Stood Still remake might have been yet another had the film around him been up to snuff; and now along comes John Wick, the lead of a slick, no-frills shoot-em-up that’s sure to please fans of old school revenge flicks.

Our first introduction to Wick is the subdued, stoic Keanu we’re most familiar with, still in mourning over his wife (a there-and-gone Bridget Moynahan) whose relationship with John is illustrated in a few short, wordless flashbacks and an intimate iPhone video used to bookend the film. With the arrival - and subsequent loss - of a special pre-arranged gift, however, Keanu runs the gauntlet of human emotion and sells Wick’s turmoil like a pro. Even before a monologue late in the movie spells it out in plain and simple terms, the audience knows full well it isn’t so much the loss itself, which is tragic enough (animal lovers beware, this film will not be kind to you), but what the loss represents that drives Wick over the edge, and once that switch is flipped, any attempt at story complexity goes straight out the window to make room for as much carnage as humanly possible. In this, John Wick does anything but disappoint; Wick moves with cold, swift precision, wasting few movements and intending every shot as a kill. The camera is also kind to the audience in this respect, following the action with a minimum of obnoxious close-ups or quick editing. The film is shootout-heavy with a few hand to hand scuffles, but in such case favoring rough-and-tumble brawls over choreographed dances.

Alfie Allen as Iosef, essentially serving as a prop for which to draw Keanu from one action scene to another, is easy enough to hate, though the character isn’t vastly different from the one he plays on Game of Thrones; an entitled manchild with an inflated opinion of himself who manages to piss off all the wrong people and cause an awful lot of trouble. Adrianne Palicki appears as Perkins, a rival assassin with whom Wick shares a brief but amusing bullet-riddled “courtship” of sorts, bolstering her own action-movie credentials right on the heels of her debut as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest acquisition. Michael Nyqvist adds some welcome color to the otherwise hollow role as Viggo, Iosef’s father and Wick’s former employer. He garners probably the most of the film’s many unexpected laughs; the humor here is pitch-black, most often delivered in uncomfortable silences and single-word responses, and result from jokes about the dynamic of the “assassin’s life” - like how the question of “Where are the police during all this?” is swept out the way in but a few short sentences, establishing that even the cops know who John Wick is and want NO piece of his business.

Alongside a fanciful Ian McShane and an aggravated John Leguizamo, who are mostly accents to the film’s star-studdedness, John Wick boasts a surprising conga-line of cameos from asskickers of varying pedigrees - Keanu’s Matrix Reloaded costar Daniel Bernhardt, finally swinging fists and feet in a major motion picture again; former WWE star Kevin Nash; Mr. “Mayhem Like Me” himself Dean Winters in the odd role of Viggo’s non-Russian-speaking right hand man; even Legend of the Seeker’s Bridget Regan pops up as a sympathetic (and foxy) tattooed barmaid.

While the film revels in the simplicity of its plot, it leaves very little to spoil. As much fun as it gets watching the action unfold, major points of the story can be called well in advance, and Wick takes a few too many detours to reach his targets, though this is a minor issue next to the messiness of the film’s overlong final stretch, which could have been solved with some fine-tuning to the script. Once the main thrust of the story is concluded, the film rolls on for roughly another fifteen minutes to tie up certain loose ends, namely that of Willem Dafoe’s character. Dafoe’s Marcus is meant to have ambiguous intentions where Wick’s mission is concerned, but again, one can predict the role he plays fairly easily. The need to close the book on his part leads to several further action beats, which, while well-executed, close with a superfluous one-on-one duel with an antagonist who pretty much has a target for Keanu’s fists spray-painted on his face.

John Wick may not be deep, but it’s anything but brainless. It’s flashy without being ostentatious, and it strikes a booming emotional chord early on to get the audience in on the insanity and root for its hero without a shred of guilt. It’s not a game changer or anything meant to turn the genre on its head, but it succeeds big time at being a damn good tale of bad guys vs. not-quite-so-bad guys doing incredibly violent things to one another. And the moral is one anybody can get behind: Never mess with an assassin’s housepet.

  • Mood: Zeal
  • Listening to: Lia Ices - Wish You Were Here
  • Reading: Jasper Fforde - Lost in a Good Book
  • Watching: NOT Gotham

deviantID

shokxone-studios
Josh Gilbert
Artist
United States
Current Residence: Milwaukee
Favourite genre of music: I can only name one?
Favourite style of art: Hey, it's all good.
Operating System: Mac OS
MP3 player of choice: iPod Touch
Shell of choice: Whatever goes BOOM!
Wallpaper of choice: Stucko. ;)
Skin of choice: The one I'm wearing, thank you.
Favourite cartoon character: Spike Spiegel
Personal Quote: Do we really wanna try injecting logic into this? Serious question, think before you answer.
Interests

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:iconanonnim:
Anonnim Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013
Neytiri and Dr. Grace Augustine's avatar kiss art please!
Reply
:iconneumatic:
Neumatic Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Happy birthday Josh!
Reply
:iconstardragon77:
StarDragon77 Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2013
Happy Birthday, :iconshokxone-studios:

Time for some :cake:, :party: and :airborne:
Reply
:iconanab:
AnaB Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Congrats on the Tee Fury design! =) Looks awesome!
Reply
:iconrobertmurray:
robertmurray Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Hey man, you have some great art going here! Keep it up! :) By the way, you should do more Darkstalkers posters or updates on the ones you have in your gallery. I bet they would look phenomenal!
Reply
:iconjoshanne:
joshanne Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2012
Man I would DIE if this was real [link]
Reply
:iconjoshanne:
joshanne Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012
sooooo, did you watch the new batman movie yet?
Reply
:iconshokxone-studios:
shokxone-studios Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012
Midnight, baby.
Reply
:iconjoshanne:
joshanne Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012
DAMN YOU! XP

That was a DAMN good movie!
Reply
:iconmewtow4590:
Mewtow4590 Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012
sup
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