Hercules (2014)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) is the leader of a band of mercenaries formed by the prophet Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), the thief Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), the warrior Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), the archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) and the storyteller Iolaus (Reece Ritchie). Hercules is said to be the demigod son of Zeus, who completed the legendary Twelve Labors, only to be betrayed by Hera, who drove him insane and caused him to murder his wife Megara (Irina Shayk) and their children during a visit to King Eurystheus (Joseph Fiennes). Hercules has since rejected Zeus and chosen to live as mortal, and is tormented by visions of Cerberus.

One day, Hercules and his men are approached by Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson), on behalf of her father, Lord Cotys (John Hurt), who wants Hercules to train the armies of Thrace to defend the kingdom from bloodthirsty warlord Rheseus (Tobias Santelmann). Hercules accepts after each of his men is offered their weight in gold, and the band is welcomed to Thrace by King Cotys and General Sitacles (Peter Mullan), leader of the Thracian army. After training the army, Hercules and his men lead them into battle against local barbarians as a test of their strength. After the barbarians are defeated, Hercules and Sitacles confront Rheseus and his soldiers, believed to be Centaurs, but soon proven to be men on horseback. Rheseus is defeated and taken back to Thrace as a prisoner, where he is tortured and humiliated. Noticing that Ergenia has taken pity to him, Hercules confronts her and finds out Rheseus was merely retaliating against Lord Cotys’ aggressive attempts to expand his kingdom, and, although Ergenia doesn’t agree with his methods, she abides to them for the sake of her son, Arius, Lord Cotys’ successor to the throne.

After receiving their reward, the mercenaries are ready to leave, but Hercules decides to stay behind to stop Cotys, and all but Autolycus choose to follow him. However, they are overpowered and captured by Sitacles and his men. While chained, Hercules is confronted by King Eurhysteus, who is in league with Lord Cotys, and reveals that he poisoned Hercules the night his family died, viewing him as a threat to his power. Hercules’ family was in fact killed by three vicious wolves sent by Eurhysteus, resulting in Hercules’ constant hallucinations of Cerberus. When Lord Cotys orders Ergenia to be executed for her betrayal, Hercules is encouraged by Amphiaraus to embrace his destiny and breaks free of his chains, saving Ergenia and slaying the wolves. Hercules releases the prisoners, including Rheseus, and then confronts King Eurhysteus, impaling him with a dagger. He is attacked by Sitacles, who is then stabbed by Iolaus.

Outside, Hercules and his forces battle Lord Cotys and his army. Arius is taken hostage, but then rescued by Autolycus, who has decided to return to help his friends. In the ensuing battle, Tydeus is mortally wounding and dies in Hercules’ arms after slaughtering numerous Thracian soldiers. Hercules then rips a statue of hero from its foundations and uses it to crush the remaining soldiers and throw Lord Cotys off of a cliff, to his death. The few surviving soldiers bow to Hercules, and Arius takes the throne, with Ergenia at his side, while Hercules and his men depart in search of other adventures.

REVIEW:

So, after the abomination that was The Legend of Hercules, are we ready for Hercules, yet another film that brings us the life and times of one of the most beloved demigods. This one should not be compared to other films of its ilk. Is Dwayne Johnson’s star big enough, like the rest of him!

What is this about?

When world-weary Hercules, now a mercenary, is asked to defeat a savage warlord, he must redeem his honor and his reputation as a mighty demigod. With his companions, Hercules renews his faith in justice in this adaptation of the graphic novel.

What did I like?

Look the part. I have to give it to Dwayne Johnson, he is the first to actually look like Hercules since those Italian movies of the 60s that starred the likes of Mickey Hargitay and other bodybuilders. Johnson was already a big guy, but as we’ve seen in his recent movies, the guy has been getting huge. All that growth isn’t for his return to the WWE ring, but for this role. Looks like it paid off!

Action. As can be expected, this is a flick that is full of action. Unlike that other Hercules film that came out earlier this year, which was nothing but talking, Johnson’s Hercules actually kicks ass and takes names. Isn’t that what we want from Hercules? I can’t speak for you, but that’s what I want. Hercules and his Avengers-like team of warriors are not to be messed with.

Twist. I won’t spoil it, but there is a twist to the tale of Hercules that you may or may not like. For me, I could care less for it, but I appreciate the risk they took. Much in the way they changed up things in Maleficent, the filmmakers took liberties with the source material and created a new story, while teasing the one we all know.

What didn’t I like?

12 Labors. I think I mentioned it in one of the other Hercules flicks I reviewed this year, but how hard is it to get a Hercules movie that deals with the 12 labors? All the drama and other stuff that happens afterwards is fine, but not what we really want to see. Personally, I think a Hercules movie that deals with those 12 labors would be awesome, but apparently Hollywood is doing all they can to not make that film and I have no idea why. We do get a hint of the labors at the beginning of the film and during the credits, which was nothing more than a cruel tease, really. If you’re going to give it to us, give it to us!!!

Merc with a mouth. So, this film portrays Hercules as a leader of mercenaries. Not my cup of tea, honestly. I prefer Hercules to be a solo act wandering the countryside helping people, but that could be because of my affinity for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Still, since he is leading a band of mercenaries, supposedly this should work, but I just can’t get behind that idea.

Gods. As we all know, Hercules is the demigod son of Zeus, and yet, there is nothing more than a few mentions of the king of the gods. It appears that they were going more for the realistic tone with this one (and yet included the Hydra, Cerebus, etc.), but it just seem to me that we could have had at least an appearance somewhere, or maybe even Ian McShane’s character turns out to be Zeus? I guess that would have been too creative, though.

When all the dust clears, Hercules isn’t a bad flick. It definitely fits that summer popcorn flick mold, and for that it gets very high marks. However, the film feels like it wants to be something more. For instance, there are moments when you know you want to see blood from what happens, but because this is PG-13, we don’t get any, much like we saw in Pompeii. So, what is my recommendation on this? Well, it is worth seeing, perhaps even in the theater, but I wouldn’t rush out to see it. If you get the chance, check it out, if not, wait for the DVD/Blu-ray.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Eddie Murphy Delirious

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , on July 25, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Comedian Eddie Murphy brings his proudly raunchy comedy act to a sold-out stadium and pontificates in his own vulgarly hilarious fashion on such subjects as sexual orientation, puberty, dating, disciplinarian mothers, ice cream trucks, and the personality traits of certain singers.

REVIEW:

Work has me a little busy these next couple of weeks, so how about something short that I’ve been putting off for a while, Eddie Murphy Delirious. Many have forgotten what a comedic genius Eddie Murphy was at one time, but these old stand up routines such as this and Eddie Murphy Raw have preserved the hilarity that he once possessed.

What is this about?

Flashing the wild stand-up comedy that made him a household name, Eddie Murphy unleashes uncensored observations and parodies in this 1983 live show. Murphy’s outrageous act varies from his vivid childhood memories to his classic impressions.

Since this isn’t really a film with a beginning, middle, and end, but rather a stand-up comedy routine, I can’t really review it that way I do everything else.

First thing that has to be mentioned is the red leather suit. Not only is it vintage early 80s and has become synonymous with Murphy, but apparently the ladies loved him in and guys wanted to have their own version of it. Personally, if it was still the style, I’d probably be in the market for one myself.

Murphy’s routine is vulgar and offensive, but above all it is hilarious. True, if he did this today, no one would come out smiling since everyone is so

thin-skinned now. However, back in the day, people could take a joke, and that is why this is such a successful flick.

Perhaps one of the best segments was the ice cream man vignette. I remember growing up and chasing the ice cream man around the neighborhood, so I could really relate to what Murphy was saying, even if his stories were much more amusing than anything I went through, obviously.

Much like Raw, this is filmed at a live event, this time in Washington D.C. The thing about live comedy tapings, especially for movies like this, is that you don’t really know how live they are. I think about the Steve Harvey segments from The Original Kings of Comedy and wonder if that “confrontation” was truly live or just staged. Nothing like that with Murphy, but a couple of times it felt like he was pandering to the crowd, rather than using his prepared material.

When all the dust clears and you have stopped laughing so hard, Eddie Murphy Delirious is quite hilarious, especially when you can relate to certain segments. I didn’t find it to be the most hilarious of Murphy’s stand-up routines, but you can see why this is the one that put him on the map after Saturday Night Live. Do I recommend this? Yes, but be warned, the F-bomb is dropped quite a few times. If you can get over that, then this is something you should check out, so give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

Antz

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The setting for the story is an ant colony in Central Park in New York City, over the span of four days. The protagonist is Z-4195 (Woody Allen), or “Z” for short, a neurotic and individualistic worker ant living in a wholly totalitarian society who longs for the opportunity to truly express himself. His friends include fellow worker Azteca (Jennifer Lopez) and a soldier ant, Weaver (Sylvester Stallone). Z meets Princess Bala (Sharon Stone) at a bar where she goes to escape from her suffocating royal life and falls in love with her.

In order to see Bala again, Z exchanges places with Weaver and joins the army. He marches with the ranks, befriending a staff sergeant named Barbatus (Danny Glover) in the process. He doesn’t realise that the army’s leader and Bala’s fiancé, General Mandible (Gene Hackman), is secretly sending all the soldiers loyal to the Queen to die so he can begin to build a colony filled with powerful ants. At the base of a tree near nightfall, Z realizes he’s actually marching into battle, and all of the soldiers except for Z are killed by the acid-shooting termites. Following the battle, all Z can find of Barbatus is his head. Before he dies, Barbatus tells Z to think for himself rather than follow orders all his life, leaving Z saddened and depressed. Z returns home and is hailed as a war hero, even though he did not do anything and was traumatized by the fighting. He was also congratulated personally by the secretly irate General Mandible, and is brought before the Queen. There he meets Princess Bala, who eventually recognizes him as a worker. When Z finds that he has been cornered in a lie, he panics and pretends to take Princess Bala “hostage” in order to trick the queen’s guards into letting him leave rather than imprison him. They escape the colony and hide, and Z begins searching for the legendary Insectopia.

Word of the incident quickly spreads through the colony, whereupon Z’s act of individuality sparks a revolution in the workers and, possibly, a few soldier ants as well. As a result, productivity grinds to a halt. Seeing an opportunity to gain control, General Mandible begins to publicly portray Z as a war criminal who cares only about himself. Mandible then promotes the glory of conformity and promises them a better life, which he claims to be the reward of completing a “Mega Tunnel” planned by himself. Mandible learns Z is looking for Insectopia after interrogating Weaver. Knowing full well of the place’s existence, Mandible sends his second-in-command, Colonel Cutter (Christopher Walken), to its location to retrieve the Princess and possibly kill Z. Cutter, however, slowly begins to have second thoughts about Mandible’s plans and agenda and develops sympathy for the worker ants.

Z and Bala, after a misdirection and a brief separation, finally found Insectopia, which consists of a human waste-bin overfilled with decaying food (a treat for insects of all kinds). Here, Bala begins to reciprocate Z’s feelings. However, during a break, Cutter arrives and flies Bala back to the colony against her will. Z finds them gone and makes his way to rescue Bala, aided by a wasp named Chip (Dan Aykroyd), whom he met earlier and has made himself drunk grieving over the loss of his swatted wife, Muffy (Jane Curtin). Z arrives at the colony, where he finds that Bala has been held captive in General Mandible’s office. After rescuing her, he learns that General Mandible’s “Mega Tunnel” leads straight to a body of water (the puddle next to Insectopia), which Mandible will use to drown the queen and the workers who have gathered at the opening ceremony. Bala goes to warn the workers and her mother at the ceremony, while Z goes to the tunnel exit to stop the workers from digging any further. He fails, however, and the water leaks in. Z and Bala unify the workers into a single working unit and build a towering ladder of ants towards the surface as the water continues to rise.

Meanwhile, General Mandible and his soldiers are gathered at the surface, where he explains to them his vision of a new colony with none of the “weak elements of the colony”. He is interrupted, however, when the workers successfully claw their way to the surface and break through. Mandible angrily tries to kill Z but is stopped by Cutter, who finally rebels against Mandible and instead tries to help Z and the worker ants out of the hole “for the good of the colony.” The enraged Mandible charges toward Cutter, who is, however, pushed away by Z at the last moment. Mandible inadvertently takes Z with him back down into the flooded colony, and is killed when he lands upon a root while Z falls into the water. Cutter, taking charge, orders the other soldier ants to help the workers and the queen onto the surface while he himself rescues Z. Although it seems that Z has drowned, Bala successfully resuscitates him. Z is lauded for his heroism and marries Bala. Together they rebuild the colony with Cutter as their General, transforming the colony from a conformist military state into a community that values each and every one of its members.

REVIEW:

In the early 90s, there seemed to be change in animation. Studios were drifting away from traditional, hand-drawn animation in favor of computer generated imagery. A big mistake in my opinion, but who am I to judge. Perhaps one of the films that has been overshadowed and/or forgotten because of the Pixar films that were released around the same time is Antz.

What is this about?

In this animated hit, a neurotic worker ant in love with a rebellious princess rises to unlikely stardom when he switches places with a soldier. Signing up to march in a parade, he ends up instead enlisted to fight against a termite army

What did I like?

Voice cast. Woody Allen, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Jennifer Lopez, etc. Wow! What a cast lending their voices to these characters. For a film that isn’t by a huge studio (at the time DreamWorks was still establishing itself), that is quite the coup. No one can watch this flick, listen to these voices, some more recognizable than others, and not smile and point them out.

War. I’ve always thought that ants and termites were constantly at odds with each other. This film took my idea and ran with it to the point that they are at war. A termite/ant war, wow! Don’t think that this war is just mentioned, either. There is at least once scene that could rival something out of Saving Private Ryan. Ok, maybe not that extreme, but there is some of the emotions of war that we see, which isn’t something we usually see in an animated film.

Ant life. The life of an ant is most definitely not fun and games, especially if you’re a worker ant like our protagonist, Z. I don’t know of any other film that shows us what life is like for ants inside the colony. I actually enjoyed seeing the workers work, the soldiers in training, etc. It “humanized” them, if you will, as opposed to making them the mindless automatons we know or expect them to be.

What didn’t I like?

Seen it before? I’m not sure which came first, this or A Bug’s Life, but this was not the better of the two. Thing about that, though, is that they are basically the same story, with a few changes here and there. If I’m not mistaken these came out the same year! When that is the case, one has to be far superior to the other. This wasn’t the superior film, I’m afraid.

Early, but no excuse. The animation is obviously early in the CG era, but other films have been released that look far superior, such as Toy Story, which came out 4 years earlier. Making matters even worse, Shrek, which was released by the same production company as this looks far superior to this, so there is no excuse for the primitive CG look.

Termites. As much as I liked the ants vs. termites angle that was going on, despite it taking a backseat to a sappy love story, I can’t help but wish there was more life to them, as opposed to knowing they are the enemy, but never really seeing them. Would it have been that much trouble to give the enemy some characterization?!?

Final verdict on Antz? Well, it is a decent family film that could be much better. The voice cast is the best thing about it, as nothing else seems very inspired. I guess I’m a bit spoiled because of the great films that have been released from this company and Pixar, that this came off as half-assed. That being said, I wouldn’t steer anyone away from it. It is worth a viewing or two, especially as a family flick. Perhaps you should give it a shot!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 7/24

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on July 24, 2014 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Let’s go back to the year 1986, shall we?

Imagine you’re a 8 yr old boy. A huge fan of the Transformers and then this come on the big screen…

 

 

That’s right, Transformers: The Movie!

For anyone that grew up in that era, you know how awesome and exciting it was to see them on the big screen and why this film, despite how it is viewed by today’s society, is held in such high esteem. If you haven’t seen it, go check it out, or at least view some clips on YouTube. You may actually like what you see!

Coneheads

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Upon discovering an Unidentified Flying Object over American airspace, the National Guard sends out planes to warn it off and end up firing upon it when they don’t comply. Activating their cloaking device and crashing into the ocean the occupants, Beldar Clorhone and his life mate Prymaat try to adapt to the humans’ way of life despite standing out with their conical shaped skulls. Beldar gets work as an appliance repairman, and when his grateful boss Otto discovers that Beldar is an illegal alien, he arranges to have an identity created for him, which sends up red flags for the (INS). Meanwhile, after communicating with their world and discovering that a rescue vessel will not be there for several years (seven “Zurls”), Prymaat informs Beldar that she is pregnant and they need to adapt as humans to raise her safely. An ambitious INS agent named Gorman Seedling and his assistant Eli attempt to capture Beldar and Prymaat, but they elude him.

Months later, Beldar has become a respected taxi driver, and the couple live in his boss’s basement. After the birth of their child, Connie, they move to a suburban neighborhood in Paramus, New Jersey, adopting the surname Conehead as Beldar makes a career as a driving instructor. Meanwhile, Seedling gets an offer for a promotion and decides to leave the Coneheads to the next agent to take his place, however his promotion is hindered by this case and he is forced to continue it due to the expense of tracking them.

Now a teenager, all Connie wants to do is fit in with her peers, much to the objection of her father, especially when she becomes involved with a mechanic named Ronnie. Beldar is preoccupied with winning a golfing trophy at a country club where he is a member and Prymaat becomes concerned about her appearance. Eli and Seedling pose as Jehovah’s Witnesses to gain entry to the Conehead home, but they are ejected quickly when Beldar receives word from Remulak that a rescue vessel is on its way.

At a costume party that night, Connie is told they are to be rescued and she disobeys her parents by returning home with Ronnie to consummate their relationship as a goodbye, before they are caught and the INS shows up to arrest them. As Seedling is about to capture the Coneheads their vessel arrives, and he along with Eli are taken with them into space and sent back to Remulak together. While there, their leader, Highmaster Mintot accuses Beldar of treason and sentences him to fight a ferocious beast called the Garthok. Beldar manages to use his golfing skills to save himself and kill it, and is granted a request. Beldar requests to return to Earth to oversee its conquest, which Mintot agrees. Eli is left behind and becomes Mintot’s flunky. Beldar leaves with Prymaat, Connie and Seedling in tow but realizes that Connie’s feelings are more important than planetary conquest and quickly fakes a counterattack, forcing the rest of the ships to turn back as Beldar self-destructs the ship, making it look like they were destroyed. In appreciation for sparing his life, Seedling agrees to give the Coneheads a Green Card in exchange that he prove he has a talent no other American citizen possesses, which Beldar happily agrees to.

Some time later, Ronnie arrives to take Connie to the prom and after a few words of advice (55 words to be precise), Beldar uses a massive flash bulb from his home-built Polaroid camera to document the event. As Connie and a now-sunburnt Ronnie depart for their night, Beldar and Prymaat look at the picture they took and say “Memories, we will enjoy them.” before the screen fades to black.

REVIEW:

Either in the late 70s or early 80s, there was a sketch on Saturday Night Live that took the world by storm. Well, who are we kidding, just about everything they did back then was amazing, especially compared to what they try to pass off as comedy on there today. With the immense popularity of that sketch, as well as the success of Wayne’s World, it was decided to Coneheads needed to be brought to the big screen. The big question though is, how will audiences react to these strange beings from another world?

What is this about?

With enormous cone-shaped heads, robotlike walks and an appetite for toilet paper, aliens Beldar and Prymatt don’t exactly blend in with the population of Paramus, N.J. But for some reason, everyone believes them when they say they’re from France.

What did I like?

Just another family. With giant cones for heads, it would be so easy for the filmmakers to make a joke out of how everyone notices that they aren’t “normal”. However, the joke really is how that no one seems to notice, even the teenage girls (who you know notice everything that they don’t like…HA!) didn’t seem phased. Whenever alien races move to Earth, it seems to be that they are ostracized, rather than embraced. Even the aliens in Alien Nation, who look human save for some spots on their heads, had some problems. I’m glad the Coneheads skipped over this issue. It would have killed the momentum of the film with everytime someone would have noticed.

Gags. Being an alien species from another world stranded here brings about all sorts of difference in culture and what things are. One running gag that always has me cracking up is how to the Coneheads, a condom is gum. I wonder what gum on their planet of Remulak is to humans. Gags like that are the driving force behind the comedy of this picture. Truthfully, there aren’t many funny lines spoken. A few physical gags, but those are alien-related. The bread and butter are the small gags that will crack you up with how ludicrous they are.

Meet the young one. When the Coneheads originally appeared on SNL, it was during the late 70s/early 80s. This film was released in 1993. On the show, the daughter was played by Larraine Newman. While she was able to get away with playing a teenager on the show, that would not do for the big screen, so she was replaced with Michelle Burke. As a way to keep her as a Conehead, she does make a cameo appearance, ironically talking to her Burke, in the arena. It was a nice touch and showed respect to all the time she put in cultivating that character.

What didn’t I like?

Rancor…um…Garthok. The Coneheads return to their home world of Remulak and once it is found out the Beldar (Dan Aykroyd) had his teeth fixed to fit in down here on Earth, the high exalted one (or whatever his title is) accused him of treason and threw him into the pit. In this pit is a monster of great size and strength known as the Garthok. Looking at it, and assessing the situation, one can only think of the Rancor from Return of the Jedi. Why, oh why, must every film rip off the holy trilogy?!?

Too normal? Earlier I mentioned how no one really brought up the appearance of the Coneheads. However, there was this one random guy why said something and it got me to thinking. With the normal way these people have lived their lives down here on Earth, surely someone has had to have said something to them or reported something. I guess that was the reason the INS plot was shoved in here, because that didn’t really work on any level, except to make them look totally inept and incompetent.

Me want Jane. I’m not sure what the reason for this was, but Jane Curtain’s Prymaat had little to nothing to do in this film. It was almost as if Curtain had other projects going on at the same time and could only be around for a day or two, so they filmed all of her scenes real quick. Nothing against Dan Aykroyd. I love the guy, especially in comedic roles that suit him, but one of the reasons the Coneheads sketch worked so well was the family aspect. As this film portrays them, it is Beldar and his daughter. Occasionally they’ll wheel out Curtain. That just isn’t right. Can we get more Jane, please?!?

Most films from the 90s haven’t withstood the test of time very well, just go look at Twins! Coneheads has avoided that curse and, with current events being what they are, actually still is relevant. Who would have thought that a film that wasn’t thought to be a big hit would be worthy of such high praise. I think the best part of this film is not the sci-fi elements, nor the comedy, but rather the everyday lives of these people who have cone-shaped skulls living down here on a planet of “blunt skulls”, as they call us. The filmmaker’s decision to show us that part of their lives, rather than having them be a side-show attraction is really appealing and a different take on aliens than what we are normally accustomed to. Do I recommend this film? Yes, very highly! If for nothing else, then you can see that there was a time when Saturday Night Live actually produced worthwhile sketches that went on to bigger things.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Revisited: Heavy Metal

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The movie’s title sequence story (Soft Landing) begins with an astronaut named Grimaldi descending through Earth’s atmosphere in a 1960 Corvette.

This leads directly into the film’s framing story (Grimaldi) when he arrives at his home, where he is greeted by his daughter. He shows her something he brought back: a crystalline green sphere about the size of a baseball. When he opens the case, the orb rises out of it and painfully melts the astronaut. It introduces itself to the terrified girl as “The sum of all evils.” Looking into it, the girl sees how it has influenced societies through time and space. The orb, known as the Loc-Nar, forces her to watch the following stories (in order):

•Harry Canyon: Written by Juan Gimenez. In a dystopian New York City, cynical taxicab driver Harry Canyon narrates his day in film noir style, grumbling about his fares and the occasional robbery attempt (which he thwarts with a disintegrator installed behind his seat). He stumbles into an incident where a fat gangster and his cyborg henchmen murder an archaeologist. Harry grudgingly allows the murdered man’s daughter into his cab, and she tells him about her father’s discovery: the Loc-Nar, an artifact over which people are killing each other. Harry cannot afford to pay for a police investigation, so he takes the girl back to his apartment. That night, the girl strips, climbs into his bed, and they have sex. Harry awakens alone the next morning when the cops bust into the apartment looking for the girl, whose existence he denies. One of his fares that day is the fat gangster, who threatens Harry if he doesn’t cooperate. Later, the girl contacts Harry and offers to sell the Loc-Nar and split the proceeds with him. He agrees to take her to the exchange. When the gangster gets the Loc-Nar, he takes it out of its isolation case, and he disintegrates. Meanwhile, the girl pulls a gun on Harry, who is forced to use his self-defense ray to evaporate her, after which he keeps the money.

•Den: Based on the original story by Richard Corben. Dan, a nerdy teenager (voiced by John Candy) finds a round “green meteorite” and puts it in his rock collection at home. Weeks later, during a lightning experiment, the orb hurls the boy into the world of Neverwhere, where he changes into a naked bald muscle man called Den. Landing on a giant idol, he witnesses a strange ritual and rescues a nubile young woman who was about to be sacrificed to “Uhluht’c” (“C’thulhu” spelled backwards). Reaching safety, she tells him that she is from the British colony of Gibraltar, on Earth, and that her name is Katherine Wells. While she demonstrates her gratitude with sexual favours, they are interrupted by the minions of Ard, an immortal man who wants to obtain the Loc-Nar and use it to rule the world. He puts Katherine in suspended animation and orders Den to get the Loc-Nar from the Queen (the woman who performed the ritual). Den agrees after Ard tells him “If you refuse, you die, she dies, everybody dies!”, and infiltrates the Queen’s palace with some of Ard’s warriors. He is promptly caught by the Queen’s guard, but she offers leniency if he has sex with her. He complies, while the raiding party steals the Loc-Nar. Den escapes and, with the Queen and her forces in pursuit, races back to the idol, where Ard is attempting to recreate the sacrifice himself. Den rescues Katherine, and the Queen’s arrival sparks a bloody battle between her and Ard (backed by their respective armies). Den ends the battle by recreating the incident that drew him to Neverwhere, banishing Ard and the Queen. Refusing the opportunity to rule, Den and Katherine ride into the sunset, content to remain in Neverwhere as heroes with idealized bodies.

•Captain Sternn: Based on the original story by Bernie Wrightson. On a space station, a square jawed space captain named Lincoln F. Sternn (voice by Eugene Levy) is on trial on numerous serious charges (and one moving violation) presented by the prosecutor (voiced by John Vernon). Pleading “not guilty” against the advice of his rat-faced lawyer (voiced by Joe Flaherty), Sternn explains to his astonished lawyer that he expects to be acquitted because he bribed a witness, Hanover Fiste, to praise his character. Fiste takes the stand, but his perjury is subverted when the Loc-Nar, now the size of a marble, causes him to blurt out the truth about Sternn’s evil deeds until he angrily denounces Sternn to the point of suggesting gruesome execution methods (Sternn is nothin’ but a lyin’, cheatin’, back-stabbin’, double-dealin’, larcenous perverted WORM!! Hanging’s too good for him! Burning’s too good for him! He should be torn into little-bitty pieces and buried alive!). Fiste rants with such fury that he changes into a muscled giant like the Incredible Hulk, and chases Sternn throughout the station, breaking through bulkheads and wreaking havoc. Eventually, Fiste corners Sternn, receives his promised payoff for his part in Sternn’s plan to escape, and promptly shrinks back to his gangly original form (this may indicate that, rather than the Loc-Nar’s prompting, the whole event, complete with Hanover’s ability to grow and go insane, was planned ahead of time, to allow Sternn the chaos necessary to escape or fake his own death. Or, it may have played on Fiste’s suspicion that, having paid only part of the bribe, Sternn would renege on the rest). Sternn then adds a bonus: he pulls a lever opening a trapdoor under Fiste, and the Loc-Nar reenters an atmosphere with Fiste’s bodyless flaming hand still clinging to it.

•B-17: A World War II bomber makes a difficult bombing run with heavy damage and casualties. As the bomber limps home, the Loc-Nar rams itself into the plane, and raises the dead crewmembers as rampaging, flesh-hungry zombies. The pilot is the lone survivor. After the Loc-Nar rams the plane, the pilot puts the plane on auto pilot and leaves the cockpit to survey the damage. While at the rear of the plane, the zombie crew attack the pilot who runs back into the cockpit and locks the door. When it becomes obvious that the zombies will defeat the cockpit door, the pilot dons a parachute and barely escapes through a trap door in the deck of the cockpit. Unfortunately the pilot lands on a desert island populated by more zombified airmen.

•So Beautiful, So Dangerous: Based on the original story by Angus McKie. A scientist (Dr. Anrack) arrives at the Pentagon for a meeting about mysterious mutations that are plaguing the United States. At the meeting, Dr. Anrack tries to dismiss the occurrences, but when he sees the green stone (Loc-Nar) in the buxom stenographer’s (Gloria’s) locket, he starts behaving erratically, goes berserk, and attempts to sexually assault her. In the sky above, a colossal starship with a smiley face design breaks through the roof with a transport tube and sucks up the berserk Dr. Anrack and by accident, Gloria. The ship’s robot is irritated at Anrack, who is actually a malfunctioning android, but his mood changes when Gloria arrives. Supprisingly Gloria is not shocked at being sucked up by the ship and instead is annoyed by the encounter, commenting “who is going to pay for my dry cleaning?” With the help of the ship’s crew of burn-outs (the pilot and co-pilot) the robot convinces Gloria to stay on board and talks her into having “robot” sex. She even reluctanly agrees to marry him (provided they have a Jewish wedding). Meanwhile, the burn-outs snort a massive amount of plutonian nyborg and fly home completely stoned, zoning out on the cosmos and passing space junk. Too stoned to fly straight, they crash land in a huge space station, though they think it was a nice landing.

•Taarna: Inspired by Moebius’ Arzachstories. The Loc-Nar crashes onto a planet and into a volcano. At the base of the volcano, a religious leader and his followers have assembled to worship. The Loc-Nar causes the volcano to erupt a green, foamy substance that flows down volcano and swallows the worshipers and their leader. The leader changes and his followers are corrupted by the green slime and change into mutated murderous barbarians. The leader organizes the mutants into an army who ravage a peaceful, prosperous city. The city elders, who consist of scientists and statesmen and lack an army, desperately try to summon the last of a warrior race, the Taarakians. Taarna, a strong, beautiful warrior maiden (the last of the Taarakians), receives the summons and goes to an ancient temple where she swims across a pool and collects a sword and a tight fitting, revealing leather uniform. She arrives too late to stop the massacre and resolves to avenge the city. After leaving the city, she stops at a tavern and orders a drink. The tavern’s patrons of mostly mutants see her as easy prey and try to gang up on her so they can sexually assault her. She decapitates them with a single swing of her sword, giving the rest of the mutant patrons a message. Her search leads to the barbarians’ stronghold, where she is captured, stripped naked, tortured and left for dead by the leader. With the help of her avian mount, she escapes and confronts the barbarian leader. Though wounded, she defeats him and in one last effort, then flies into the Loc-Nar, destroying it.

As the final story ends, the Loc-Nar terrorizing the girl is similarly destroyed, blowing the mansion to pieces. Taarna’s mount, reborn into a younger form, appears outside and the girl happily flies away on it. It is then revealed that Taarna’s soul has been transferred across the universe and through time to her. This is further signified by the change in hair color the girl now exhibits and the appearance of the Taarakian crest on her skin. Thus the girl is revealed to be the next Taarakian herself.

REVIEW:

Have you ever watched a film and could just tell that it was a product of its time? One that captures the era so well, you wish you could go back in time and really relish in it? I think that is what Heavy Metal tries to do, not necessarily with the “plot”, but more so with the atmosphere it creates, as well as some things that one could only et away with in the early to mid 80s!

What is this about?

A cult classic featuring a thumping metal soundtrack, this animated extravaganza centers on a menacing meteorite thought to be the root of all evil.

What did I like?

Soundtrack. Blue Oyster Cult, Journey, Cheap Trick, Stevie Nicks, Nazareth, Devo, Riggs,  Sammy Haggar, Black Sabbath, etc. No, this is not the lineup for some music festival, but rather artists that contributed to the soundtrack. That is an all-star lineup, no matter when you are watching this flick. Aside from the astonishingly great animation, one could just listen to the music and be mesmerized. I know that I often time crank Don Felder’s “Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride)”. I wonder if one can find this soundtrack anywhere. After I post this, I think I’m going to go have a look.

Variation. With anthologies, it is important to note the differences in styles. Take for instance, Fantasia. Not only does each section have a different composer, who had their own style of composition, but the animation for each was totally different, as well. You would never confuse “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” with “Rite of Spring”. They were totally different styles of animation. In this film, the styles aren’t that varied, but there is a distinct difference. An example would be the “Captain Sternn” and “So Beautiful…” segments. They have a more, shall we say, Saturday morning cartoon look to them, as opposed to the other segments which have a more theatrical animation (at the time) style to them. Then of course, there is the B-17 segment, which was actually taken from real life ad then turned into animation with the help of rotoscope, much like the animated version of The Lord of the Rings. With all these different styles, an animation student can go to school watching this film.

Dangerous curves. The female body is a thing of beauty. Apparently, the filmmakers and animators think the same way, because in just about every segment, they take the opportunity to draw naked, curvy, voluptuous women, complete with hard nipples and, in one case, matching carpet. They even go so far as to make sure that one of the females dresses very slowly and seductively…if what she is wearing can be called getting dressed. As an adult, I feel I should say that this is sexist, misogynistic, blah, blah, blah. However, I can’t help but revert to the teenage boy who would watch NC-17 (back then, they were X) movies through the scrambled cable. It is that thinking that leads me to believe this was made for a purely male, adolescent audience. Who else would appreciate so much gratuitous boobage?

What didn’t I like?

Loosely connected. Since Loc-Nar is telling this frightened little girl of his exploits throughout the galaxy and whatnot, wouldn’t it serve a purpose for these stories to actually be connected? As it is, the only real connection is that Loc-Nar appears in them. A few happen to transition with him in it, but that isn’t enough of a connection for my taste. I guess I just would have liked it better had there been something saying this evil happened here, so beware, or something along those lines.

Candyman. John Candy has a great voice. As a kid, I enjoyed waking up and watching Camp Candy on Saturday mornings and I still enjoy his movies to this day (good and bad). I’m not sure if there was a budgetary reason behind this, but why must they use Candy for every voice? Ok, I exaggerate. Eugene Levy and a few other no name people provided some other voices, but Candy was at least 4 or 5 characters, if I’m not mistaken. Would it really have been so hard to call someone else in to do some voice work? Again, nothing against Candy, I just don’t think using the same guy to do half the voices like this is a good idea.

5 seconds of realism. With all of the great animation to be seen in this film, as well as techniques that were still finding their footing, it seems odd that at the end, we get this one scene of live action. I question that decision because it didn’t do anything to the “story”. The film starts off with an astronaut dropping from the spaceship in his car. Now, had that been live-action morphing into rotoscope or something along those lines, it would have been cool, but this random scene, which is maybe 5 seconds in length, of live action speaks of laziness on the behalf of the animators, to me.

I’m not sure if it is still published, but if you can believe it, Heavy Metal is actually based on several short stories from the magazine of the same name. Truthfully, there isn’t much else to say about this film. If you’re a fan of 80s rock, animation, and gratuitous boobage, as well as some violent sci-fi, then this is the film for you. Otherwise, you’d be better served moving along to something else. I hear there’s a new Barbie video coming out. Perhaps that would be more to your liking? Ha! Seriously, though, this film does have some issues here and there, such as the size of Taarna’s breasts. In one scene, she looks as if she’s a DDD, and the next she could be down to a B-cup. Small animation errors like that hurt the film, but I still had a good time watching. If you get the chance, I highly recommend you give this a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 7/17

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on July 17, 2014 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

Next week is San Diego Comic Con (the big one!). No, I’m not going, but I will be keeping up with what is going on through various podcasts and such.

One thing that I have noticed the past few days is the sudden influx of superhero news, especially about things changing over at Marvel and the upcoming Fantastic Four movie (which id being filmed here in town, but I am NOT excited about seeing).

So, I pulled this random trailer from the depths of hell for you good people to enjoy. The 1994 version of Fantastic Four!

Note…to my knowledge, the trailer was shown in theaters, but the film never made it that far

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