Escape from L.A.

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The year is 2013 and Snake Plissken is back from Escape From New York. An earthquake has separated Los Angeles from the mainland. In the New Moral America, all citizens not conforming to the new laws (no smoking, no red meat, no Muslims in South Dakota) are deported to L.A., now a penal colony. The President’s daughter has stolen a doomsday device and has fled to L.A. It’s up to Snake Plissken to find the President’s daughter and retrieve the doomsday device before its too late.

What people are saying:

“A dreadful belated sequel to the entertaining Escape From New York. Perfectly epitomizes how Carpenter’s skills have eroded since his late ’70s, early ’80s heyday.” 2 1/2 stars

“It’s preposterous and there’s nothing particularly new that wasn’t introduced in the last one, Escape From L.A. is nonetheless an extremely fun and entertaining watch with plenty of social commentary strewn throughout.” 2 1/2 stars

“Set in a not too far dystopian future , this movie is a sequel to John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York.” Although not a very popular film, I actually liked it. I love the way movie gives you the real deal about politics and our society in a humorous and adventurous way. But at the same time, it is a warning of the totalitarian government that continues to rise. Despite bad special effects, the movie still delivers a lot of action and interesting characters.” 3 1/2 stars

“Pretty bad movie. It tries to be cheesy, B-movie entertainment, and it succeeds, except for the entertainment part. It’s too cheesy, the effects are not good, even for the time, the action is ok, and the performances are bland, especially Russell. One of the moments that proved this movie’s quality was when Russell and Fonda surfed a tsunami in downtown LA to chase a car.” 2 1/2 stars

“While not as gritty as “Escape From New York” this movie still manages to be very entertaining. It may be a tad bit campy in comparison and some parts feel like carbon copies from the first. There was even a point in the beginning when I checked to make sure I was Watching the right movie. This movie is still a good time and I definitely recommend a watch, especially if you enjoyed the first movie.” 3 stars

Unfinished Business

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on November 27, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A hard-working small business owner (Vince Vaughn) and his two associates (Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco) travel to Europe to close the most important deal of their lives. But what began as a routine business trip goes off the rails in every imaginable – and unimaginable – way, including unplanned stops at a massive sex fetish event and a global economic summit.

What people are saying:

“If you’re a female I can see why you would hate this movie. But from a male’s perspective I actually enjoyed it. It has plenty of dark humor, but I still managed to find myself laughing throughout the entire movie and the storyline kept me interested. There were even some parts of this movie that had me wishing I was there.” 3 stars

“It was a mediocre movie but it really had its moments. Dave Franco character being my favourite, Vince Vaughn did his usual to the best of his ability, with Wilkinson being a third wheel. Franco made this movie for me, otherwise its only slightly amusing.” 3 stars

“A few cheap laughs thru out the film. It’s one of those films that you really want to like, but reality sets in, you realize what being in denial is all about. The plot is cookie cutter Hollywood story, the story isn’t really all there. So at the very least, deliver some hearty character interaction, dervelopment, & turn your head gags. Sadly the characters are all one dimensional from start to finish. The funny moments are few, the back stories & growth are limited, & it goes on longer than it should have.” 2 stars

“Not a great movie. It seemed to be divided between business, partying, and bullying is bad. Vince Vaughn did fine, but not all the acting was great. For example, the evil female Chuck wasn’t very hate-able. The movie just seemed confused about what type of movie to be. Not recommended.” 2 1/2 stars

“Totally completely FLAT from beginning to end. There’s nothing worse than a comedy that repeats the same unfunny jokes over and over and over and over and over again. Very disappointing.” 1 star

Vacation

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Hoping to bring his family closer together and to recreate his childhood vacation for his own kids, an adult Rusty Griswold takes his wife and two sons on a cross-country road trip to Walley World. Needless to say, things don’t go quite as planned.

Trying to bond his family together and relive his childhood memories, Rusty Griswold takes his family to Walley World, an amusement park. On the way they face challenges, overcoming fears, and troubles with mischievous people. When his family admits that they never wanted to go, he starts to think his family thinks he’s a loser. Will they make it to Walley World or will the family separate?

Rusty Griswold takes his own family on a road trip to “Walley World” in order to spice things up with his wife and reconnect with his sons.

What people are saying:

“Surprisingly funny and at times charming.
As a huge fan of the 80’s films I was really not expecting much. But it’s not half bad. No it’s not great like the old ones . But good enough .” 2 stars

“It has some laugh out loud moments that are peppered throughout the film, but the majority of it needed to be polished by better writers. It wasn’t terrible, but it could have been so much better.” 2 1/2 stars

“I’m so glad I ignored the bad ratings and watched this film anyway. It’s hilarious! I haven’t laughed that much at a film in a long time. Quite a dark sense of humour which made it even better! Great film.” 5 stars

“Nice family comedy. kinda far fetched and unbelievable but it kills a couple hours and you get a few laughs out of it.” 3 stars

“I gave this movie a solid 23 minutes before I had to shut it off with extreme prejudice. What a complete hunk of garbage. This movie make European Vacation look like a god damn masterpiece. I’m embarrassed for anyone who had anything to do with the production of this turd.” 1/2 star

Unfriended

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Six high-school friends are chatting through Skype when they receive a message from their former friend Laura Barns, who committed suicide after watching a footage in Internet showing her completely wasted. They believe it is a troll, but soon they learn that something supernatural is happening. Further, their dirty little secrets are exposed while they are mysteriously murdered one by one.

What people are saying:

“Unfriended adds a novel 21st century twist to the horror genre that transcends its silly storyline and slow pace with a smart, tension-packed script that manages some legitimate chills to go with its timelessly relevant social subtext.” 3 1/2 stars

“Perhaps director Gabriadze and writer Nelson Greaves intended to create a Social Media “Scream” and a commentary on cyber-bullying, but “Unfriended” comes across as disdainful of millennials. ” 2 stars

“Wow, now this is one scary movie, I was practicly sweating after finishing this movie. There’s a lot of anticipation as well as a ghoulish and creepy little story, and a new found footage style, using Skype, I found that to be clever. It’s well done and it’s definitly one scary movie, not just disturbing, but actually SCARY!!! Recommended !!” 3 1/2 stars

“It’s original and definitely watchable, but Unfriended doesn’t sell itself well. After a while I was rooting for the killer. These stupid teenagers lose their s— over the lamest things. Buncha whiners.” 2 stars

“It’s definitely very realistic in terms of its execution in dealing with technology and its format of being shown through computer screens, but as with a lot of found footage films, while it sets up very realistically, it dives too much into wanting to scare its audience rather than letting the restrictions of its concept drive the scares more naturally and subtly. The acting isn’t bad, it’s more so the directing trying to do too much near the end of the film.” 2 stars

Krampus

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on November 26, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

When his dysfunctional family clashes over the holidays, young Max is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers. All hell breaks loose as beloved holiday icons take on a monstrous life of their own, laying siege to the fractured family’s home and forcing them to fight for each other if they hope to survive.

What people are saying:

“A very fun Christmas horror movie that deserves a viewing from those looking to have a darkly good time around the holidays. Original in many ways, Krampus may suffer from its numerous undeveloped characters, but for what it tries to accomplish, it succeeds.” 3 stars

“It starts promising with a wicked intro, and the latter half is actually quite funny/cool….but overall the dialogue is just so bad that it’s hard to take seriously, or to laugh. The ending makes up for it a bit…but overall it was hugely disappointing with terrible acting (Mainly all the kids minus the main one). It had so much more potential.” 3 stars

“I saw this in theaters last year and I was blown away. Take something as simple and lovable as Santa Clause and give it a dark twist. It feels like something straight out of the 80’s. Characters you hate and love, and an overall sense of terror when things don’t turn out the way you expect.” 5 stars

“A masterful throwback to eighties horror comedies like Gremlins, and might I dare say even better. The creature effects and designs on the monsters are all fantastic. All the characters feel flushed out and are each given little moments to shine and have interests and personalities. It would be so easy to just set most of these people s cannon fodder, but thankfully this movie is better than that. A fun addition to the genre of both terror and laughs, and that’s hard to do.” 4 stars

“A fascinating premise and awesome creature designs stand out in this very intriguing holiday horror film. Unfortunately the script and acting are only mediocre and the film restrains from going full force into the campiness which holds it back from being truly memorable. Still a solid creature feature that may go into my Christmas movie watch list.” 3 1/2 stars

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1926, wizard Newt Scamander briefly stops over in New York City en route to Arizona. He encounters Mary Lou Barebone, a No-Maj (non-magical human) and the head of the New Salem Philanthropic Society, which claims that witches and wizards are real and dangerous. As Newt listens to her speak, a Niffler escapes from his magically-expanded suitcase that houses multiple magical creatures. As he attempts to capture it, Jacob Kowalski, a No-Maj cannery worker whose bank loan for a bakery was denied due to lack of collateral, mistakenly carries off Newt’s suitcase. Demoted Auror Tina Goldstein arrests Newt for being an unregistered wizard and takes him to the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) headquarters, hoping to regain her former position. However, President Seraphina Picquery and Auror Percival Graves dismiss the case. At Jacob’s tenement apartment, several creatures escape Newt’s suitcase.

Graves approaches Credence Barebone, Mary Lou’s adopted son, and offers to free him from his abusive mother in exchange for his finding the host of an Obscurus, a dark, destructive force inadvertently manifested by young magical children forced to conceal their powers. The force can be unleashed during periods of anger and stress; Graves believes that it has caused several mysterious destructive incidents around the city.

After Tina and Newt find Jacob and the suitcase, Tina takes them to her apartment and introduces them to Queenie, her Legilimens sister. Queenie and Jacob are mutually attracted, though American wizards are forbidden to marry No-Majs or interact with them. Newt takes Jacob inside his magically-expanded suitcase, where Jacob encounters a contained Obscurus that Newt had extracted from a girl in the past. Newt persuades Jacob to help search for the missing creatures. After re-capturing the Niffler and an Erumpent, they re-enter the suitcase, which Tina takes to MACUSA. Officials arrest them, believing Newt’s Obscurus to be responsible for killing Senator Henry Shaw Jr., and decide to destroy Newt’s suitcase and obliviate Jacob’s memory. Graves interrogates Newt and Tina and accuses Newt of conspiring with the infamous dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Newt and Tina are immediately sentenced to death, but they escape and meet up with Queenie and Jacob; the foursome then capture the last of the creatures after receiving a tip from the goblin gangster Gnarlack.

Credence finds a wand under his adopted sister Modesty’s bed. Mary Lou assumes the wand is Credence’s, but Modesty claims it is hers. When she is about to be punished, the Obscurus is unleashed, killing everyone except Modesty and Credence. Graves arrives and dismisses Credence as being a Squib (a non-magical person of wizard ancestry), and refuses to tutor him in magic after they arrive in Modesty’s biological family’s home. Credence then reveals himself as the host of the Obscurus, the real cause of Shaw’s death, and it unleashes upon the city in a rage.

In a subway tunnel, Newt talks to Credence but is attacked by Graves. Tina, who knows Credence, arrives and attempts to calm him, while Graves tries to convince Credence to listen to him instead. As Credence begins to settle into human form, Picquery arrives with Aurors and decides Credence’s life must be forfeited to keep magic hidden. The Aurors apparently disintegrate him, but Newt notices a tiny Obscurus shred fleeing. Graves admits to unleashing the Obscurus to expose the magical community to the No-Majs, and angrily claims that MACUSA protects the No-Majs more than themselves. He is subdued and taken into custody after Newt reveals him to be Grindelwald in disguise.

MACUSA fears it is too late to protect their secret world, but Newt releases his Thunderbird to disperse a potion over the city via a downpour that will erase all New Yorkers’ recent memories. MACUSA wizards repair the destruction, and Jacob reluctantly agrees to let himself be obliviated as well. Queenie kisses Jacob goodbye as the rain erases his memories. Newt departs for Europe, but promises to return and visit Tina once he finishes his book; he also anonymously leaves Jacob a case of Occamy eggshells (made of silver), allowing Jacob to fulfill his dream of opening his own bakery. His breads and pastries are unknowingly inspired by Newt’s creatures, and a visit by Queenie seems to spark his erased memories.

REVIEW:

When the final credits finished rolling on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt II, many of us thought it would be the last time we would see that world on film. That is until late last year when mysterious teasers for this film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, started popping up. Being a prequel and a spinoff of one of the most beloved and successful franchises of all time, there are big shoes to be filled. Can this flick pull it off?

What is this about?

The year is 1926 and Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident…were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.

What did I like?

Beastly. I was so scared going into this that the beasts were going to be used sparingly, while we are forced to sit through some bureaucratic drama and half-assed action. Words cannot describe my relief when I saw the beasts used for the whole film, much like magic in the Harry Potter films. It just wouldn’t have been right to have a film about these creatures and we barely see them. As it were, we get plenty of scenes with them all, and even get to know a few.

Uncultured swine. Watch any movie or tv show set in New York or Chicago back in 20-early 40s, and you will find the greasy fat guy with a thick accent who may or may not be on the level. Dan Fogler brings this old school vibe to his character of Jacob, who also brings to mind Fred Flintstone. He is most definitely the comic relief, but there is also some depth to the character that we see as the film comes to a close. Hopefully, this will not be the last we see of the guy.

Stand on your own two feet. As this is set 70 years before Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, it would be hard to show things that haven’t happened yet. However, as we’ve seen with prequel shows like Gotham, the powers that be will still force something that hasn’t happened yet (as in criminals that are Batman foes appearing while Bruce Wayne is still a kid). The only callback (or call forward) is a discussion about Hogwarts, the Ministry, etc. Basically, this film is able to stand on its own, without relying on easter eggs. For that, it deserves major kudos!

What didn’t I like?

Take the lead. I don’t know what it is, but Eddie Redmayne just doesn’t cut it as a leading man. I realize that as I type that, I forgot that he was nominated for an Oscar this past year. Still, he guy doesn’t scream leading man, at least to me. He doesn’t command the audience pay attention to him, but rather just ambles on through the film. The only time we give him any kind of though is when he is describing the beasts.

Bitter old man. Jon Voight seems to be nothing more than a grumpy old man these days. No wonder his daughter, Angelina Jolie, doesn’t talk to him. To be honest, he was such a non character in this film, it makes one wonder why he was cast. I half believe he was meant to be something more, but those scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.

Cloudy, with a chance of destruction. I guess the filmmakers didn’t learn anything from Fantastic Four and Green Lantern. Both of those films used cloudy, destructive masses as the antagonist. This film does something similar, using a cloudy mass as the Obscurus. As this big cloud went through the city, destroying everything in its wake, it was hard to see what was going on. This is in stark contrast to watching the creatures that had escaped. I guess I was wishing they had put more thought into the design of this thing, rather than cop out and just make it a big cloud.

Final thoughts on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? This spinoff from the Potter world lives up to its predecessor. The tone of the film shifts seamlessly from jovial and light hearted to dark and sinister and back. The action scenes are great and the music is reminiscent of John Williams’ great score. I am anxiously looking forward to more films in this budding franchise. Do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! This is one of those films that everyone can enjoy! Stop reading and run and go see it!!!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 11/24

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on November 24, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I think I say this every year, but there just aren’t any movies set around Thanksgiving. So, I’ll just share with you something I was watching a few days ago. Enjoy the trailer for Uncle Buck