Trailer Thursday 12/4

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on December 4, 2014 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

This is one of those weeks when I am at a loss for what to dig up. Luckily, a friend and I were talking about the fact that I have not reviewed any of the Indiana Jones films in all the years I’ve had this little site. I recently purchased the box set, so they’re coming.

I don’t believe this trailer needs any introduction, so just sit back, watch, and enjoy the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark!

 

Dutch

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on December 3, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Dutch Dooley (Ed O’Neill) attends a ritzy party with his girlfriend, Natalie Standish (JoBeth Williams). He stands out terribly among the upper-class aristocrats – wearing a cheap suit and telling boorish anecdotes. Natalie’s relaxed, less rigid personality also does not fit with the rest of the patrons. Dutch also meets Natalie’s snobbish, wealthy ex-husband Reed (Christopher McDonald), who tells Natalie that he will have to break his Thanksgiving plans with their son Doyle (Ethan Embry) for an unexpected business trip to London. He also threatens to strip Natalie’s custody of Doyle if she gives Reed a hard time. Dutch overhears the conversation and threatens Reed with bodily harm should he hurt Natalie.

Natalie calls Doyle at his private school in Georgia and invites him home for Thanksgiving, but Doyle rudely refuses the offer and expresses his disdain for his mother, solely blaming her for the divorce. Despite this, Dutch sees an opportunity to get to know Doyle and further his relationship with Natalie, so he offers to go to Georgia and bring Doyle back to Chicago for the holidays.

Upon arriving in Georgia, Dutch finds Doyle to be much like his father: snobbish, selfish and elitist. He welcomes Dutch by throwing a book at his face and shooting him in the groin with a BB gun, to which Dutch promises revenge. Dutch ultimately hogties Doyle to a hockey stick and carries him to the car to start on the drive back home.

The trip entails several mishaps: A fireworks show Dutch gives Doyle in an attempt to make Doyle warm up to him goes awry when one lit rocket lands in the bag and sets off all the fireworks at once. Later, Dutch throws Doyle out of the car and makes him walk to the next motel by himself (Doyle eventually gets even by parking Dutch’s car in the path of an oncoming semi truck, which totals the car and endangers the truck driver). They also hitch a ride with two prostitutes (E.G. Daily and Ari Meyers) who steal their luggage and leave them stranded with no money.

Doyle calls his father, whom he discovers has lied about his trip to London; he instead spent the holidays with a girlfriend. Stunned by his father’s betrayal, and wounded by Dutch’s accusation that he “hates his mother”, Doyle begins to regret his callous attitude. Dutch initially gives up and wants to call Natalie for assistance, but Doyle refuses and insists on getting home on their own. They sneak a ride on the back of a semi truck and are assaulted by security guards at a cargo storage station; Doyle feigns insanity and pretends that voices in his head are telling him to kill the guards, which frightens the guards enough to allow them to escape.

The two enter a restaurant, where they meet a married couple who takes them to a homeless shelter in Hammond, Indiana for the night. At the shelter, Doyle grows fond of a young girl and her family. While getting to know them, he finally realizes that he has been neglecting his mother and indeed wants to be with her for the holidays. The next day, the family drives Dutch and Doyle to Natalie’s home, where Reed is waiting. Doyle shares an emotional embrace with his mother and reveals to Reed that he knows the truth about his trip to London. Doyle decides to stay with his mother instead of going with Reed for Thanksgiving. An angry Reed gives Natalie only a few days to pack and leave the house, which he owns. Dutch follows Reed outside as he departs and makes good on his promise to hurt Reed, putting a dent in his forehead with his pinky ring. He then demands that Reed show more respect to Natalie and become a better father to Doyle, to which a dazed Reed agrees.

The film ends with Natalie, Dutch and Doyle at the dinner table about to begin the Thanksgiving feast. Before they commence, Dutch asks Doyle to retrieve Dutch’s coat, as it contains a very special gift for Natalie. As Doyle turns to walk away, Dutch pulls the BB gun Doyle originally shot him with and finally gets his revenge on Doyle by shooting him in the buttocks

REVIEW:

Apologies for my tardiness with watching Dutch. This is a film that is regarded as must-see viewing for Thanksgiving because, as well know, there are few to no actual Thanksgiving films (Free Birds doesn’t count, sorry). Thanks to AMC showing Gone with the Wind last week and my usual tradition of watching The Magnificent Seven every Turkey day, this film slipped my mind, but I said I was going to get to it this week and here we are.

What is this about?

Dutch is a working-class guy who offers to take his girlfriend’s son home from boarding school, not realizing the kid is a snotty brat.

What did I like?

Stay classy. A recurring topic that this kid brings up the entire time they are on the road, especially in the early part of the trip is how Ed O’Neil’s character is a working-class citizen. Last I checked, there was nothing wrong with working class. I’m not sure if this was meant to be some political, socioeconomic statement the film was making, but I appreciated that O’Neil didn’t resort to underhanded tactics to defend his station in life, but rather took pride in what he did. Something we don’t see on film too often. Mostly, working class are portrayed as mindless buffoons…with hot wives!

Go for a ride. Of course a couple of males, in a film, are somehow going to find a way to get a ride from two hot chicks. Big surprise is that they are prostitutes, rob them, and leave them stranded at the gas station. All this is after making an impression on young Ethan Embry’s character, who was, as he put it, “she made me horny.” I guess it was worth it, then, right?

Fireworks. Did you know that in Illinois it was illegal to light fireworks? I didn’t, but I was aware of Tennessee’s stance on fireworks. In a scene that shouldn’t be as memorable as it is, Ed O’Neil’s character buys a bunch of fireworks, drives out in some field and puts on a fireworks show as a way to bond with his possible son-in-law, who has a sever disdain for him at this early point of the film. Did it work? Eh, not really, but it did get a smile out of the kid and we, the audience, were entertained, so there’s that.

What didn’t I like?

Embry-o. Ethan Embry is just one of those actors that I have never gotten behind. It isn’t that the guy is a bad actor. There is just something about him that is very off-putting. This is a very young Embry and his character is just horrible to everyone he encounters, making it extremely hard to like him, which is the point, but even in the parts where we are supposed to feel some compassion I found it hard to muster up any feeling. Why is that? I can’t really tell you. Perhaps it is a great performance by Embry or my personal prejudice against him.

Party all the time. The film starts at this swanky party that just doesn’t seem to jibe with the vibe of the rest of the film, not to mention that the two people we care about being there are so uncomfortable and out of place it is painful to watch. This scene is there to set up the plot, but something tells me that this could have been done in a better setting, or just through a quick mention in passing, because I felt nearly as uncomfortable as they did watching this scene that should have ended up on the cutting room floor.

Looks can be deceiving. Ever walk into a restaurant and feel like everyone is staring at you as if they don’t want you there because you’re not good enough? Imagine if you’d just been through hell and back and just walked in to get cleaned up and some rude waitress makes it a point to inform you repeatedly that you’re not welcome, based solely on appearance. That is what Dutch and Doyle have to endure. Now, this puts me in mind of what it must have been like in the Civil Rights days where African-Americans were forced to sit at separate counters, purchase and eat their meals in the back of the store or in the bathroom. Seriously, are human beings that shallow that they can’t show a little compassion and charity? There is a reason they went in there, which actually wasn’t to get food, but this lady wouldn’t even let them go to the restroom. Did I mention Doyle’s head was bleeding? Ugh! It is just so frustrating!

I am actually a little disappointed with Dutch. For all the talk I have heard about this being a great Thanksgiving film, there isn’t much Thanksgiving about it. This is more of a road trip film, much like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, that just happens to take place at Thanksgiving. That being said, I enjoyed it for the most part. Will this become a holiday tradition in my house? Probably not, but I wouldn’t be opposed to watching it again at some point. I say give it a shot someday.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Strange Frame

Posted in Animation, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Set at the end of the 28th century, the human race has long since abandoned a desolate earth, colonizing Jupiter’s moons, particularly Ganymede. Most of the refugees fleeing earth did so in exchange for an agreement of indentured servitude, projected to last “at most” one or two generations. However, this proved untrue, and by the 28th century a large portion of the population are in permanent debt bondage from birth. Naia (Tara Strong) is one such debt slave, genetically modified to have enhanced lung capacity in order to survive harsher work environments.

During a protest riot, Naia is freed with many other debt slaves from a holding cell on Ganymede. As she flees she encounters Parker (Claudia Black), a street saxophone performer being set upon by city police who incorrectly believe she is part of the riots. Naia saves Parker from a beating, with Parker later returning the favor. The two ultimately escape and quickly find themselves becoming attracted to each other, and soon after are in a romantic relationship and are living together.

Both musicians, Naia and Parker begin composing music together, Parker’s saxophone complimenting Naia’s guitar and singing. They two join with friends Chat (Alan Tudyk) and Atem (Khary Payton) and form a band, quickly rising in popularity and notoriety owing to Naia’s passionate, anti-debt slavery lyrics. This soon attracts the attention of Ganymede “starmaker” Dorlan Mig (Tim Curry), who invites Parker and Naia to a party at a high-class club where he can discuss signing the band to his company. At the party both Naia and Parker indulge in several exotic treats, culminating in a rare vintage alcohol which renders both of them unconscious.

Parker awakes in an alley in Ganymede’s slums and soon discovers that Naia and the rest of the band have been signed without her. She tries to make contact with Naia several times, only to be dissuaded (often violently) by the rising star’s bouncers, who inform her that Naia doesn’t want to see her anymore. Heartbroken, Parker spends weeks lurking near Naia’s studio. She soon finds herself needing to leave the area after district police label her a troublemaker. She finds a sympathetic ear in Captain Philo D Grenman (Ron Glass), a hoverchair-bound double amputee who buys her breakfast one morning. After hearing her story, Philo offers Parker a home on his non-operational spaceship; Parker accepts, and soon settles in with Philo and his first officer Reesa (Cree Summer), the only other person on the ship.

Weeks pass, Parker tracking Naia’s progress via news feeds. After seeing reports of a number of troubling incidents – Atem dying in a mysterious shuttle crash, Chat leaving the band due to a previously unknown drug addiction, and another talent signed to Dorlan’s company dying just as her popularity peaked – Parker realizes that Dorlan is going to have Naia killed in order to maximize the popularity of her music. She strikes a deal with Philo and Reesa: if she buys them the last part needed to make the ship operational, using money from selling her antique saxophone, Philo and Reesa will help her recover Naia before she can be killed. Parker makes her way to a massive Naia concert, but after listening to her unemotional performance she realizes that the Naia on stage is actually an android duplicate, meaning the real Naia is being held somewhere else. She, Philo, and Reesa update their plans.

Parker infiltrates the fake Naia’s luxury apartment, with friends of hers providing a distraction. She confronts the fake Naia, incapacitates her, then grabs her. When security forces arrive Parker flees down the side of the building on Philo’s loaned hoverchair, accidentally dropping the Naia android in the process. Though damaged, Parker recovers it and is soon picked up by Philo, who has stolen Dorlan’s car. Philo flees from the police while Parker searches the android’s databanks for Naia’s location, eventually finding it. Successfully evading the police, Philo and Parker find the lab where Naia has been held, being used as a template to better enhance the Naia android’s behavior. Naia is near death but alive; Parker rescues her, leaving the android in her place and setting the lab on fire.

Naia is placed in a medical treatment device on Philo’s ship, Parker unsure if she will survive. The destroyed lab is investigated; finding remains which seem to match Naia, the authorities declare Naia dead. Dorlan is soon arrested for his presumed involvement in the lab and Naia’s death, especially since his car was found just outside. After some time, Naia finally awakes on the ship, greeting Parker lovingly.

REVIEW:

Strange Frame is…strange! I won’t lie to you, this film has me scratching my head as to what to think, but allow me to spend a few minutes writing and we’ll see if I can actually formulate an opinion. Right now, though, this flick has me confused as to what I just watched.

What is this about?

Two female musicians fall in love and form a band as they fight for freedom in a world of space pirates, indentured slaves and genetic mutations.

What did I like?

Music. Music soothes the savage beast, or so they say. No, I’m not a savage beast, I just wanted to use that quote. Anyway, this is a film the utilizes saxophone, which is not something we see very often, especially when dealing with rock groups. Also, one of the leads is a singer, so there is that, too. Being a musician, I appreciate the use of music more than the average person, but everyone will enjoy the tunes.

Cast. Most of this cast is well known to sci-fi geeks, as well as those of us that are well-versed in who plays who in cartoons today. Alan Tudyk, Tara Strong, Ron Glass, Tim Curry, Claudia Black, among others lend their voices to these characters that seem to work perfectly for each of them.

Love. What makes this film so important, if anything? Well, it apparently is the first animated film to feature a lesbian relationship as the primary love story. More importantly, they treat it just like a normal relationship. You won’t find any protestors or constant mention of their lesbianism. Kudos to the filmmakers for making things normal. Now, if only every one else would take the hint.

What didn’t I like?

Seen it before? So, here we are with a story of a girl who has a talent that the evil music company wants to exploit. Haven’t we seen this, or at least something similar before? Not only that, I don’t think this flick benefits from this plot line, as it totally deflects from everything we learned in the opening narration and goes off in another direction.

Animation. There wasn’t a big budget on the film, so I really should refrain from saying something negative about the cheap CG they decided to use. However, technology has come far enough now that they should have at least been able to use something a little more “slick.” This style they’ve used is more reminiscent of the motion comics that Marvel animation has used in works such as Marvel Knights: Black Panther. I wasn’t a fan of it then and, even though it isn’t quite the same thing here, I’m not a fan now.

Story. Sakes alive! The beginning of this film and the end do not add up. The opening narration sets up what is a dystopian sci-fi flick similar to Blade Runner, but that monologue is all for naught as we never really get into any of the things that were discussed. This leads me to question why there was even an intro detailing the backstory in the first place!

So, what did I ultimately think of Strange Frame? Well, I still think it was strange. Also, I feel as if this was something that could have very easily been a short in Heavy Metal, but was instead held off until the “right time”. There isn’t enough here, though, to keep the audience’s interest. A valiant effort, but it needs a little more polish to be good, let alone great. I do not recommend it.

2 out of 5 stars

Getaway

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , on November 30, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Washed up former race driver Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) arrives home to find his house ransacked and his wife, Leanne, missing. Suddenly, his phone rings. On the other end is a mysterious man known only as The Voice (Jon Voight) who reveals himself as the kidnapper of Magna’s wife. The man tells Magna that he must follow a set of instructions precisely in order to be reunited with his wife. The Voice orders Magna to steal a specially customised Shelby Mustang from a parking garage. The Voice warns Magna that if he does not follow the instructions or is caught, Leanne will die.

Magna sees two police officers chasing him and speeds off. Being a skilled driver, he is able to evade them with ease, eventually setting a trap to cause one to crash into the other. Despite more police cars joining the pursuit, Magna is able to out maneuver them. Some time later, Magna is again contacted by The Voice, who directs him towards his first task. He tells Magna to speed up and take some perilous turns, eventually being forced to crash through a park, ice rink, and shopping center, nearly killing numerous civilians in the process. The Voice calls to congratulate him and tells him to keep moving. Magna is ordered to crash into a water truck and run through a red lighted intersection, causing accidents in his wake. Magna is then ordered to park in a construction zone and await further instructions. While Magna is waiting, a young woman known only as The Kid (Selena Gomez) attempts to steal Magna’s car. The Voice calls and orders Magna to kill The Kid. Magna refuses, and The Voice says that keeping her alive was the right choice, as he will need her help. As Magna and The Kid drive off, with more police in pursuit, she reveals that the Mustang is, in fact, her car, and that she was told, by a police officer, it was stolen. Magna realizes that their meeting was orchestrated by The Voice.

After the Voice assigns Magna another destructive task, The Kid reveals herself as a skilled computer hacker and the daughter of the C.E.O of a large bank. The Voice contacts Magna again and orders him to upload the contents of a USB flash drive into a computer before 11:30 pm. Upon reaching the designated area, a power plant, The Kid attempts to hack the computer in order to contact the police. She appears to have succeeded, only for The Voice to cut her off, revealing that he set up the computer as a trap for her. The plant suddenly overloads and explodes, destroying itself and blacking out a large portion of the city.

The Voice gives Magna his final task: to rob the bank owned by The Kid’s father. The Kid points out that there is no actual money at her father’s bank; it is an investment firm which holds all of its assets on computers. Gradually, the duo realizes that they are not actually committing a heist, but are merely providing a distraction for the police while The Voice executes the real robbery and subsequently frames them for it.

As The Voice’s men begin to commandeer an armoured car carrying sensitive hard drives, Magna surprises and overpowers them, succeeding in taking the drives. Now fleeing from the police and The Voice’s men, Magna calls The Voice and offers to release the hard drives in exchange for his wife. The Voice accepts and directs him to an airplane hangar. While it appears that Leanne is about to be returned, The Kid deduces that The Voice is planning to have them all killed once the deal is done. As Magna, Leanne, and The Kid attempt to escape, the police arrive, and in the ensuing chaos, a man Magna assumes to be The Voice grabs The Kid and drives off with her. Magna leaves Leanne with the police and pursues.

Following a high speed chase, both cars are destroyed, Magna rescues The Kid, and the police arrest the mysterious man. Leanne and Magna are reunited. However, Magna receives a phone call from The Voice, revealing that the man who was busted was no more than a decoy. The Voice thanks Magna for his help and hangs up. It is revealed that The Voice was in fact controlling the entire operation from a bar in the United States. He checks his account balance and walks out of the bar.

REVIEW:

Remember that Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock film, Speed? Well, Getaway seems to be somewhat in that same vein, what with the threat of someone dying if the driving stops, but I don’t believe this is as good as Reeves and Bullock’s, um, vehicle.

What is this about?

When washed-out race car driver Brent Magna’s wife is kidnapped, he partners with a sexy, enigmatic hacker known only as The Kid to track her down. But the figure behind the abduction is calling the shots, and is watching their every move.

What did I like?

Non-stop. I love my action, but most action films that are out there are light on the action and heavy on the useless talking which does nothing but put the audience to sleep. That being said, this flick does not fall into that trap, but does just the opposite. The action scenes take center stage…and they are GLORIOUS!!!! The talking does happen, but it is there just to get the heartbeat back to normal before things take off again. That, my friends, is how you do an action flick!

Property damage. For some reason, people got all up in arms about the property damage in Man of Steel. So much so, that it is rumored the reaction will be part of the plot of Batman vs. Superman. Why was this? I have no idea, but I do appreciate this film’s blatant disregard for cops cars and other property. Seeing vehicular rampage is a good thing once in a while. Sometimes audiences just want to see destruction. Is that so hard for studios and audiences to come together on?

Skeleton crew. We have a car, Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, and a mysterious voice. Do we really need anyone else? As it turns out, no we don’t. This small cast accomplishes a more believable story filled with emotion and intrigue than films with giant, overpaid, ensemble casts. Maybe it is best to just keep it simple, stupid.

What didn’t I like?

Who it is? I won’t spoil the identity of the mysterious voice, though his name is on the poster. However, there is something I have a problem with. This guy is revealed at the very end of the film, but that is the first time we see him in the whole film. It makes no sense to have a random guy be the villain, at least without a motive. Now, had he been seen somewhere in the film or turned out to be Selena Gomez’s father, then that would perhaps have made more sense and been a more effective “twist.”

Looks can only take you so far. Selena Gomez is cute, I’ll give you that, but if she wants to ever be a serious actress, she needs to take some lessons. Disney channel movies and shows don’t require actual acting talent because the target audience for those things just care if your character is someone they’d want to hang out with. Welcome to the real world, Selena! Here you must have actual talent and skill to go somewhere.

Hack and slash. I am no computer hacker. Hell, my technological knowledge is extremely limited. I don’t know if it is even possible to hack into a sophisticated infrastructure with an ipad. Kids these days seem to be able to pull off anything, but I just don’t see it as something that can be done. Much like the armored plating on the car, this is just a convenient plot device, I suppose.

Getaway received some really negative reviews and I don’t really understand why. This truly isn’t a bad film and, while it does have some issues, it is a fun flick. It could do without Selena Gomez, perhaps they should have used a more capable actress such as, I don’t know, Demi Lovato. All that said and done, I have to say that I would recommend this, if for no other reason than to see a film than isn’t bogged down with sex, drama, and drugs. Give it a go sometime, why don’t you?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Spice World

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins when the Spice Girls perform their song “Too Much” on Top of the Pops, but they later become dissatisfied with the burdens of it. The sinister newspaper owner, Kevin McMaxford (Barry Humphries), is attempting to ruin the girls’ reputation and even dispatches a photographer, Damien (Richard O’Brien), to take pictures and tape recordings of the girls. Less threatening but more annoying is a film director, Piers Cuthbertson-Smyth (Alan Cumming), who stalks the girls along with his crew, hoping to use them as documentary subjects. At the same time, the girls’ manager, Clifford (Richard E. Grant), is fending off two overeager Hollywood writers, Martin Barnfield and Graydon (George Wendt and Mark McKinney), who relentlessly pitch absurd plot ideas for the girls’ film. Amid this, the girls must prepare for their live concert at the Albert Hall, the biggest performance of their career. At the heart of it, the constant practices, traveling, publicity appearances, and other burdens of celebrity affect the girls on a personal level, preventing them from spending much time with their pregnant best friend, Nicola (Naoko Mori), who is due to give birth soon. Throughout the busy schedule, the girls attempt to ask Clifford for time off to spend with Nicola and relax, but Clifford refuses after talking with the head of the girls’ record label, the cryptic and eccentric “Chief” (Roger Moore). The stress and overwork compound, which culminatein a huge argument between Clifford and the girls; the girls suddenly storm out on the evening before their gig at the Albert Hall.

The girls separately think back on their humble beginnings and their struggle to the top. They reunite by chance outside the abandoned pub where they practised during their childhood years, they reconcile, and decide to take Nicola out dancing. However, Nicola goes into labour at the nightclub and is rushed to the hospital in the girls’ bus. When Emma notices that the Doctor has a camera, the girls realize that he is Damien, who runs off with the girls in hot pursuit, only to hit his head after accidentally colliding with an empty stretcher. When Damien sees the girls standing over him, he tells them that they have made him see the error of his ways, and he goes after McMaxford, who is subsequently fired in a “Jacuzzi Scandal”. After noticing the girls’ bus driver, Dennis (Meat Loaf) is missing, Victoria decides to take the wheel. It becomes a race against time as Victoria drives like a maniac. While approaching Tower Bridge, the bridge begins to raise to let a boat through the River Thames. Victoria drives up the bridge and over the gap. The bus finally lands safely on the other side, but when Emma opens a trapdoor in the floor, she discovers a bomb, and the girls scream before Emma slams the trapdoor shut again.

The girls finally arrive at the Albert Hall for their performance and run up the steps to the Rocky theme. However, the girls have one more obstacle to overcome: a London policeman (Kevin McNally) charged the girls with: “dangerous driving, criminal damage, flying a bus without a license, and frightening the pigeons”. Emma pushes forward and tells the policeman that she and the other girls were late for their performance at the Albert Hall. Emma smiles at the policeman, and he lets the girls off for their performance. The film ends when the girls perform their song “Spice Up Your Life” at the centre stage of the Albert Hall. The supporting cast later talk about the girls’ film during the closing credits. Mel C breaks the fourth wall and tells the other girls that the outgoing audience is watching them. The girls talk to the audience and discuss their film, just minutes before the bomb in their bus explodes.

REVIEW:

In the late 90s, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the music of The Spice Girls or seeing their merchandise in every store. The phenomena was similar to what it must have been like when The Beatles came to America. Speaking of The Beatles, Spice World has been compared to their pseudo-documentary A Hard Day’s Night. The question is do these 90s girls stack to the lads from the 60s?

What is this about?

Climb aboard the double decker Spice Bus and get ready for a madcap musical adventure with the sexy phenomenons of pop – the Spice Girls. An encounter with extra-terrestrials, a night in a haunted castle, and a moment of truth in a maternity ward are just a few of the escapades the endeavored upon as the Girls gear up for their first live concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

What did I like?

Spicy personalities. We all know the Spice Girls’ stage names (Scary, Sporty, Posh, Ginger and Baby), but how much do we know about them, personally? If this film does nothing else, it gives a bit of a look into who these women are, and does it in a funny, tongue-in-cheek sort of way. For this band, that is the best way, if you ask me. A serious Werner Herzog style documentary would not work as well.

More than just one-hit wonders. I’m not sure if they still do this, but VH1 used to have this series of programs dedicated to music from days gone by. One of them was “One-hit wonders of the 90s”. I mention this because I seem to recall the Spice Girls on there, even though they had like 3 or 4 hits, maybe it was some other countdown series they were on, now that I give it some thought. At any rate, their music is on full display with this film, including some tunes we have never heard, unless you bought the CD (it was the 90s, after all). For a film about and starring a music group, this is a prerequisite.

Foreshadowing, much? During one of the conversations the girls have on their bus, they bring up where they would be in 10 or so years. The ensuing dream sequence is like looking through the Wicked Queen’s magic mirror. Sporty got fat, and the others all have many children. Thing is, that’s not very far from the truth. Sporty, last picture I saw of her, was noticeably thicker than her performing days. Baby and Posh have settled down to normal family life (if you call that normal with Posh since she doesn’t eat and is married to soccer star David Beckham). Scary is still in the spotlight for various things, good and bad, and Ginger seems to have gotten hotter since leaving the group. Not really sure what she’s doing, but I do know she had a cameo as Jason Statham’s mom in Crank: High Voltage.

What didn’t I like?

Meatloaf. Ah, Meatloaf, remember the days when you were a great rocker? Now they have you driving the bus in a movie about the Spice Girls. Can we say the mighty have fallen? Don’t let me forget to mention that in both scenes he is in he quotes his songs. I appreciate the nod to who he is, but I don’t really think this was necessary, was it? Maybe if he was playing himself in disguise as the bus driver it would have worked better.

Plot. Supposedly, there is a plot in here somewhere. I cannot for the life of me tell you what it is, other than the girls need to get ready for a big performance and they’re being stalked by some evil photographer and some random documentary guy. As a side plot, we are also treated to someone pitching various movie plots that don’t tie in to the actual film and just cause confusion.

Bond. Roger Moore is a highly respected actor. For goodness sakes the man has been James Bond! However, he ends up in this film in a yuppie office holding a baby pig and bossing the road manager around. Like most of the other names in this film, he must have owed the director a favor, was a fan of the Spice Girls, or someone behind this film had some dirt on him, because this is so obviously beneath him!

I won’t beat around the bush here. Spice World is not a good film, but at the same time it isn’t unwatchable. All this is a fluff film. You can watch this, be entertained, and not feel dirty afterwards. However, if you are looking for serious study into who and what the Spice Girls were, you’d be better served finding the E! True Hollywood Story on them. So, do I recommend this? Yes, but I wouldn’t make this a “main event” viewing, unless you’re just a huge fan of this group.

For those wondering, Baby is my favorite spice, followed closely by Ginger.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Blue Lagoon

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on November 28, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Victorian period, two young cousins, Richard and Emmeline Lestrange, and a galley cook, Paddy Button (Leo McKern), survive a shipwreck in the South Pacific and reach a lush tropical island. Paddy cares for the small children and forbids them by “law” from going to the other side of the island, as he found evidence of remains of bloody human sacrifices. He also warns them against eating a scarlet berry which is apparently deadly.

Paddy soon dies after a drunken binge, and his body is discovered by Richard and Emmeline. Now alone, the children go to another part of the island and rebuild their home.

Years pass and they both grow into tall, strong, and beautiful teenagers. They live in their hut, spending their days together fishing, swimming, and diving for pearls. Richard and Emmeline (now portrayed by Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields) begin to fall in love, although this is emotionally stressful for them because of their lack of education on human sexuality. Emmeline is frightened after she begins her first menstrual period and is nervous when Richard wants to inspect her for a cut.

Sometime later, their relationship suffers a major blow when a ship appears for the first time in years. Richard’s desire to leave comes into conflict with Emmeline’s desire to stay, and she does not light the signal fire. As a result, the ship passes by without noticing them. Richard’s fury leads him to kick Emmeline out of their hut. They make up for this fight after Emmeline is nearly killed upon stepping on a stonefish and Richard admits to his fear of losing her. Emmeline recovers and after she regains her ability to walk, they go skinny dipping in the lagoon and then swim to shore. Still naked, Richard and Emmeline discover sexual intercourse and then passionate love. They regularly make love from then on while occasionally spending their time together in the nude. Due to their regular sexual encounters, Emmeline becomes pregnant. Richard and Emmeline themselves do not know about the truth of childbirth and human reproduction and assume that the physical changes in Emmeline’s body is her getting fat. They are stunned when they feel the baby move inside her and assume it’s her stomach causing the movements.

One night, Emmeline gives birth to a baby boy, whom they name Paddy. Frustrated at not knowing how to feed the baby, Emmeline holds him and learns how to feed him as the baby instinctively starts sucking on her breast. The young parents spend their time playing with Paddy as he grows, teaching him how to swim, fish, and build things.

As the family plays, a ship led by Richard’s father Arthur (William Daniels), approaches the island and sees the family playing on the shore. As they are covered in mud, Arthur assumes these are natives, not the young couple they have been searching for all these years, and the ship passes.

One day, the young family takes the lifeboat to visit their original homesite. While waiting for Richard, Emmeline and Paddy remain in the boat. Emmeline falls asleep and does not notice when Paddy brings a branch of the scarlet berries into the boat. She awakes as Paddy tosses one of the oars out. The tide was sweeping the boat into the lagoon and Richard swims to her, followed closely by a shark. Emmeline throws the other oar at the shark, striking it and giving Richard time to get into the boat. Though close to shore, they are unable to return or retrieve the oars without risking a shark attack. They paddle with their hands to no avail; the boat is caught in the current and drifts out to sea.

After drifting for days in the boat, Richard and Emmeline awake to find Paddy eating the berries he picked. Realizing that these are poisonous berries, they try to stop him, but he had already swallowed a few. Hopeless, Richard and Emmeline eat the berries as well, lying down to await death. A few hours later, Arthur’s ship finds them floating in the boat. Arthur asks, “Are they dead?” and the ship’s captain (Alan Hopgood) answers, “No, sir. They’re asleep.”

REVIEW:

When I was little, my family and I would go to the video store (back in the days of videocassette rentals) and I would always see a copy of The Blue Lagoon. It intrigued me and, as I grew into puberty, I wanted to see it mostly because it had naked people on the cover. As you can imagine, the parental units never let that happen. So, up until today, I had never seen this film, but I have heard stories, rumors, complaints, and praise about it. So, let’s see what I think, shall we?

What is this about?

Two shipwrecked children, stranded for years on a deserted island, fall in love as teenagers and attempt to forge a life in the isolated paradise.

What did I like?

Under the sea. First off, can I just say that the exotic locale that was used for filming is breathtaking! I can imagine that when filming wrapped no one wanted to leave this place. Second, the undersea shots are majestically beautiful. It was like watching an old National Geographic special, only without the narration. Even the shot of Brooke Shields’ character stepping on a stonefish was beautiful, despite the harsh ramification of that act.

Sibling rivalry. Before they grow into young adults and fall in love, there is a sibling rivalry going on between our two leads that seems to be as authentic as I’ve seen. As much as I tortured my sister and messed with my brother, I think I know a thing or two about sibling rivalry. Their playful relationship is quite refreshing to see. It isn’t very often we get to see a boy and a girl just playing with each other, which leads me to the next topic…

Growing pains. Imagine you’re about 10 years old or so and your guardian person up and dies, leaving you and your brother to fend for yourself on an island where you are the only inhabitants. The years pass and you both grow into tall, beautiful people (more on that shortly). It isn’t long before you notice the changes in both of your bodies. No male, regardless of age, is comfortable dealing with women’s menstrual stuff. I still remember how squeamish my biology teacher was when we got to that part of the book. He rushed through it and didn’t look back. The film sort of does the same thing, but there really was no reason to harp on her monthly visitor. What I did appreciate was how they took the time to emphasize how both teens were noticing each other’s change in bodies and how attractive they were. Made for a more believable setting.

What didn’t I like?

Pretty perfect. I can’t help but wonder how it is that two people, abandoned on a deserted island at a very young age, grow into perfect specimens? Literally, Brooke Shields was still a model at this time, but she seems as if she came from off the runway, stripped her clothes off and went to work. Christopher Atkins is a little better, but he also seems like he should be on magazine covers. That is not to mention how clean they are. For a couple of people living off nature, they should have long fingernails, messy hair, scratches all over themselves, etc. Instead, they look like they are spending a day at the spa! WTF?!?

Shirt tales. Normally, I wouldn’t complain about a topless girl, but Brooke Shields was 14 or so at the time this film was made, and her younger self is just that, young. Apparently, though, Shields’ character had something against shirts because once she sheds that classy Victorian outfit she was wearing, she almost never had a top on. Had this film been made today, both version of her would have been covered up as much as possible in her younger days and then maybe a bikini top of sorts when she’s older. As a matter of fact, there was a made-for-TV remake that did just that.

Down comfort. I question whether or not this is a true drama. It doesn’t have that heavy depressing feel that most dramas tend to have. However, when we get to the final scene it is a bit out of place, due to its dark nature. The rest of the film has been pretty light and fun, with a couple of exceptions here and there, but this scene brought things back to the real world, if you will. For what purpose? I cannot tell you, other than the director wanted a Romeo & Juliet type of artistic moment.

Going into The Blue Lagoon, I expected to be bored out of my mind with some heavy flick, but that turned out to be the case. This was actually a fun film. There are issues, such as the leads and their inability to act. Brooke Shields was criticized for her wooden acting and I can see why. Thank goodness she got better as she got older. Atkins was a little better, but not much. Truth be told, this a film for everyone. If not for the nudity, I believe this could be a family film. I highly recommend it, so give it a shot sometime.

4 out of 5 stars

The Lady Vanishes

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

English tourist Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) arrives at the “Gasthof Petrus” inn in the fictitious country of Bandrika, “one of Europe’s few undiscovered corners”. Iris is returning to Britain to marry a “blue-blooded cheque chaser”, but an avalanche has blocked the railway line. The stranded passengers are forced to stay the night at the inn, including Charters and Caldicott, cricket enthusiasts who want to return to England to see the last days of the Test match.

That evening, Iris complains about loud folk music coming from the room above her. She has Gilbert (Michael Redgrave), the guilty musician, thrown out of his room, only to have him move into hers, forcing her to capitulate.

Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty), a former governess and music teacher, listens to a tune performed by a folk singer under her window. Unseen by her, the singer is killed.

The next morning, before catching the train, Iris is hit on the head by a planter apparently aimed at Miss Froy, who then helps Iris onto the train. Also on board are Charters and Caldicott, Gilbert, and a lawyer named Todhunter and his mistress “Mrs. Todhunter”. As a result of her injury, Iris blacks out. After the train is moving, Iris wakes up in a compartment with Miss Froy and several strangers. She joins Miss Froy in the dining car for tea. Unable to be heard above the train noise, the elderly lady writes her name on the window with her finger. Soon after, they return to their compartment, where Iris falls asleep.

When Iris awakens, Miss Froy has vanished. The strangers in her compartment say they know nothing about an English lady. Even Todhunter in the next compartment, who spoke with Miss Froy earlier, pretends not to remember her. Iris searches, but cannot find her. She meets up with Gilbert, who agrees to help. Dr. Hartz (Paul Lukas), a brain surgeon, says Iris may be suffering from concussion-related hallucinations. Charters and Caldicott also claim not to remember Miss Froy, because they are afraid a delay would make them miss the cricket match.

Another lady appears, dressed exactly like Miss Froy, but Iris and Gilbert continue to search. They are attacked by a knife-wielding magician, Signor Doppo. They start to suspect that Dr. Hartz’s patient, whose face is covered by bandages, is Miss Froy. Dr. Hartz tells his fellow conspirator, dressed as a nun, to kill the couple; convinced they will soon be dead, he admits to being involved in the conspiracy. The false nun does not follow Hartz’s instructions out of loyalty to her fellow countrywoman; Gilbert and Iris escape, free Miss Froy and replace her with one of the conspirators.

When the train stops near the border, Dr. Hartz discovers the switch. He has part of the train diverted onto a branch line, where soldiers await. Gilbert and Iris inform their fellow passengers what is happening. When the train pulls to a stop, a uniformed soldier requests that they all accompany him. Todhunter attempts to surrender, waving a white handkerchief, and is shot dead. Another soldier fires and wounds Charters in the hand.

During the gunfight, Miss Froy reveals to Gilbert and Iris that she is a British agent who must deliver a message to the Foreign Office in Whitehall. The message is encoded in the tune that the folk singer sang. Gilbert memorises the tune. With his help, Miss Froy slips away into the forest. Gilbert and Caldicott then commandeer the locomotive, and the group escape across the border.

In London, Charters and Caldicott discover the Test Match was cancelled. Iris jumps into a cab with Gilbert in order to avoid her fiancé, and Gilbert kisses her. They arrive at the Foreign Office, but Gilbert is unable to remember the vital tune. Then he hears the melody on the piano; they are joyfully reunited with Miss Froy

REVIEW:

I guess I am stuck in a late 30s time warp, because The Lady Vanishes was released the year after Gone with the Wind. I was introduced to this film through a random mention in my rewatching of Hitchcock last week. Not really knowing what to expect, other than Hitchcock mastery, I figured why not give this a shot. Was the gamble worth it?

What is this about?

Traveling aboard a train, young Iris is alarmed when an acquaintance suddenly vanishes, and all the other passengers deny having ever seen the woman.

What did I like?

Music, maestro, please. Being a musician and a band nerd, it warms my heart to see the use of music and instruments in films that aren’t specifically music related. Newsflash, people play other instruments besides guitar, piano, drums, and members of the string family. Personally, I would have preferred for the instrument in question to be a trumpet (personal bias), a clarinet works (and made the little woman happy).

Comedic elements. As with most Hitchcock flicks, there is a subtle element of humor that is apparent. Obviously, there are these two British guys who want to do nothing more than find out what’s going on with the cricket match until they can get to it. However, there are also little jokes here and there throughout the film. I missed them, but a friend of mine who is more familiar with British humor picked up on the jokes. So, I guess if you’re into British humor, you’ll get the jokes. Maybe if I wasn’t eating Thanksgiving dinner, I’d have caught more of them.

Suspense. Alfred Hitchcock was known as the master of horror and suspense. He puts those skills on full display with this project as the audience is on pins and needles wondering what happened to the lady that just suddenly disappeared. Was she a ghost? A figment of our imaginations? Perhaps she did exist and something happened to her and, if that was the case, how long until the same thing happens to the rest of the passengers. Those kind of thoughts go through your head, making this a much more chilling film than you would expect.

What didn’t I like?

British. If I’m not mistaken, this is the last British film Hitchcock made before coming to Hollywood. As you can expect when one knows they are off to bigger and better things, work tends to show that level of care and craftsmanship decrease and you prepare for the next step. I can’t really comment on pre-Hollywood Hitchcock films, since I haven’t seen them, but this film feels like it is relying on the British nationalism to push it over the hump and cover up that this is not as fine a film as Hitchcock’s reputation would have you believe it is. Maybe that’s just me, though.

Not a western. For once, I have found an old film hard to relate to, not because it is old, in black and white, or has anything that is specifically outdated, but because of the train. Let me elaborate on that real quick. I had no issue with films set on trains such as Some Like it Hot, which has a good portion of its scenes on a train but, for me, when I see a train, I immediately shift into thinking about westerns and train robbers. So, in some weird way, I couldn’t help but with this was a western. Maybe I just need to go watch one and then come back and see if my opinion on this has changed.

Hotel. I must question the inner workings of this hotel. How is it that you don’t have enough rooms for everyone? Understandably, it is a small town that no one really goes to and the avalanche stretched them thin, but one would expect there should be a contingency plan, right? Maybe I’m just being too nitpicky, but I just didn’t understand why there weren’t enough rooms, especially since most of these people had just checked out of the hotel! No way could it have filled back up that quickly. Sure, the people who were on the train already needed rooms, but everyone else should have just been able to go back to the room they just check out of.

What a Thanksgiving treat, huh? Stuffing my face and watching a Hitchcock masterpiece, The Lady Vanishes. The problem is, I don’t believe I liked this as much as I should have. I felt no connection to the film or its characters. Sure, it had its moments of suspense and bits and pieces of things kept me interested, but I found myself wanting this flick to hurry up and end before I fell asleep. Now, it is possible that is because I wanted to see how my Cowboys were doing or it could be the result of all the food I have been scarfing down, but my opinion of this leans more toward not recommending it. However, I realize that this is a Hitchcock classic. Knowing how I am, his films usually take more than one viewing to get the actual opinion. I hated Psycho when I first saw it and now its one of my all-time faves. So, with that in mind, I say watch this and then at some later point in time come back and give it another shot and see what you ultimately think.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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