Under construction

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 1, 2018 by Mystery Man

While this blog has ended, the foundation has been laid down for my new blog, “Mystery Man’s Musings”

If you want to start following, the address is https://mystermanreturns.wordpress.com. I will be officially launching it soon, so stay tuned!

Advertisements

Revisited: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT: (spoiler alert!!!):

In ancient China, a brutal and tyrannical warlord unites the country’s kingdoms into an empire and becomes the Dragon Emperor. He orders the construction of the Great Wall of China to bury and curse his dead enemies, eventually learning power over the traditional Chinese Wu Xing elements of fire, water, earth, wood and metal. Emperor Han soon grows fearful that his death will end all he has accomplished and summons Zi Yuan, a sorceress who is said to know the secret of immortality. She seemingly casts a spell on Han in Sanskrit, before he executes General Ming, his trusted friend and Zi Yuan’s secret lover. He stabs Zi Yuan with a dagger, but having foreseen this event, she immolates and imprisons the Emperor and his soldiers in clay, transforming his army into the Terracotta Army, and flees.

In 1946, Alex O’Connell, Rick and Evelyn O’Connell’s son, and his archaeology professor Roger Wilson locate Han’s tomb. Though attacked by a mysterious woman, they succeed in bringing the coffin to Shanghai. Meanwhile, the British government entrusts the O’Connells to take the Eye of Shangri-La back to China. However, they learn that Wilson works for a rogue military faction led by General Yang, who had provided the financial backing of Alex’s expedition. Yang believes that Han is the one who can lead China out of the chaos following World War II and plans to resurrect the Emperor using the Eye, which contains the Elixir of Life. They open it, but it accidentally lands on the statue of the carriage driver, which is revealed to actually be Han’s mummified body. He accepts Yang’s service but kills Wilson and escapes.

Along with Evelyn’s brother Jonathan Carnahan, the O’Connells and the mysterious woman, Lin, travel to a stupa in the Himalayas that will reveal the path to Shangri-La when the Eye is placed on top of it. With the help of Yetis summoned by Lin, the group hold off Yang’s soldiers but Han discovers Shangri-La’s location. Alex attempts to trigger an avalanche. Han throws a dagger at him, but Rick shoves Alex and is stabbed instead. Lin takes the group to Shangri-La, where Zi Yuan still lives and heals Rick’s wound. The group discovers that Lin is Zi Yuan’s daughter, both rendered immortal due to the power of Shangri-La’s waters. As Rick heals, Alex and Lin have grown attached to each other, but Lin refuses due to her immortality, unable to bear falling in love with Alex only to watch him grow old and die, just as Zi Yuan mourned for General Ming.

Han and General Yang eventually arrive and attack them in Shangri-La, and Han bathes in the mystical waters, which restores his human form and youth, and gives him the ability to shapeshift. Transforming into a dragon, Han kidnaps Lin and flies back to the tomb, raising his Terracota Army, planning to cross the Great Wall, where they will be invincible. The O’Connells and Zi Yuan pursue Han to the Great Wall where she sacrifices her and Lin’s immortality to create an undead army from beneath The Great Wall, led by a revived General Ming. As Alex rescues Lin, Zi Yuan fights Han and is mortally wounded, but secures the dagger. Zi Yuan gives the dagger to the group before dying. Meanwhile, Han goes into the Great Wall to use his elemental powers to negate the undead spell. Rick and Alex fight off Han while Evelyn and Lin fight and kill Yang and Choi. Han gains the upper hand over Rick, but Rick and Alex manage to stab Han in his heart with the dagger, killing him and defeating the Terracotta Army. Ming’s army briefly celebrates before finally moving on to a peaceful afterlife.

The O’Connells return to Shanghai while Jonathan decides to move to Peru with the Eye of Shangri-La, as he wants to go somewhere with no mummies. However, in postscript, it is revealed that upon his arrival, mummies were discovered in Peru.

REVIEW:

Ten years ago, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor began my journey as a movie critic blogger type person. It seems fitting that I revisit it as a way to bookend all 2,743 entries. Aside from that, we still have a film to talk about here. A film that sees our intrepid hero, Rick O’Connell once again messing with the undead. Many times the third time is not the charm for film franchises. Could that be the case here? Let us find out, shall we?

What is this about?

The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen continues the tale set into motion by director Stephen Sommers with this globe-trotting adventure that finds explorer Rick O’Connell and son attempting to thwart a resurrected emperor’s (Jet Li) plan to enslave the entire human race. It’s been 2,000 years since China’s merciless Emperor Han and his formidable army were entombed in terra cotta clay by a double-dealing sorceress (Michelle Yeoh), but now, after centuries in suspended animation, an ancient curse is about to be broken. Thanks to his childhood adventures alongside father Rick (Brendan Fraser) and mother Evelyn (Maria Bello), dashing young archeologist Alex O’Connell (Luke Ford) is more than familiar with the power of the supernatural. After he is tricked into awakening the dreaded emperor from his eternal slumber, however, the frightened young adventurer is forced to seek out the wisdom of his parents — both of whom have had their fair share of experience battling the legions of the undead. Should the fierce monarch prove capable of awakening his powerful terra cotta army, his diabolical plan for world domination will finally be set into motion. Of course, the one factor that this emperor mummy failed to consider while solidifying his power-mad plans was the O’Connells, and before this battle is over, the monstrous monarch will be forced to contend with the one family that isn’t frightened by a few rickety reanimated corpses.

What did I like?

Out of Egypt. I don’t know about you guys, but whenever I think of mummies, the first place that comes to mind is Egypt. If I’m not mistaken, that’s where the legends were born that led to the other film’s in this franchise, the classic mummy that we know from old cartoon and tv and, though I hate to bring this up, the recent film with Tom Cruise. With that said, it is a nice change of pace to have mummies from and in China, especially one that has these superpowers and is based in actual history. Now the question is, who would win in a fight, the Dragon Emperor or Imhotep?

Action-packed. Movies today seem to forget that audiences don’t want to sit in an already darkened theater looking at a dark alley with people talking for 3/4 of the film. No, if we go to an action film, then that is what we want to see. Perhaps it is fitting that this director is from the Fast and the Furious franchise because it has come as a surprise that those film have been raking in the bucks of late. Truth is, they are mindless action, an escape from reality, and that is what people want. In this film’s case, much like the Indiana Jones films, we come to see a normal guy kicking ass while fighting off supernatural beings. I would say he also is fighting to get the girl, but he got her in the first film.

Fun. This franchise has always impressed me with how fun it is. Not just with the action and comedy, but with how it captures the feel of an old Hollywood swashbuckler or the serial comics from that time. It is interesting that I bring this up, because it was around the time that this film came out that films shifted toward darker, more serious tones. Even this flick is guilty of that, but it manages to keep the fun factor. I mean, the dead emperor barges into Shangri-La and bathes in the rejuvenating pool only to re-emerge as a 3 headed dragon! That’s some video game boss level stuff there. I love it!

What didn’t I like?

Weisz she gone? I don’t want to take anything away from Maria Bello. She is a beautiful woman and a fine actress. However, she is not Rachel Weisz. What I mean to say is that there was a certain chemistry Weisz had with Brendan Fraser and John Hannah, as well as certain feel for the character of Evie that Bello doesn’t seem to have. To me, she felt like if your starting quarterback on your fantasy football team got hurt and you have to scour the waiver wire hoping to get a player that will put up decent numbers, but it just isn’t the same (and may cost you some games…not that I’m speaking for personal experience, mind you).

Daddy issues. Why is it no one if movies today has issues with their mother? It’s always about Daddy? If you will recall from The Mummy Returns, Alex was the precocious son of Rick and Evie O’Connell. Fast forward a few years and he is now estranged from his parents and an adventurer in his own right. Not to mention, he seems to take after his dad as a bit of a flirt. When we finally see the three of them together, we learn that he and his dad aren’t exactly on speaking terms. I could list for days films that have a similar subplot, especially with how it resolves. Personally, I think this whole thing could have been left out in favor of more development of Michelle Yeoh and Isabella Leong’s characters.

Try, try, try again. For everything that worked in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, changing location and doing the same thing doesn’t fly with this. You have an all powerful mummy and the famed Terracotta army, not to mention Yetis and the Great Wall of China, yet almost all of these are wasted and/or underused. With Imhotep, we spent the both films getting to know him, both with his actions on-screen and a history “lesson” from Evie. The Dragon Emperor is introduced to us in the opening and when he appears in modern day, he is actually more intimidating than when he becomes human again. The only redeeming scene for him is when he becomes the 3 headed dragon or when the filmmaker’s realized it was Jet Li and let him do some martial arts.

Final verdict on The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. I probably have made this sound worse than it is. Truth be told, this is a film that would be enjoyable on a Saturday afternoon when you just need something to watch. However, this was meant to keep the franchise going, or at least revive it, but instead it seemed to kill it (along with other factors). There is obvious effort here to make a worthy film but, in the end I cannot in good faith recommend this to anyone, unless you just want to complete the trilogy.

3 out of 5 stars

So, what’s next?

Posted in Uncategorized on August 31, 2018 by Mystery Man

This evening, I will be posting the final review for this blog. It has been a fun 10 yrs, but as I said in my post “The end of an era“, it is time to move on.

So, what is next for me? I’ve given it some thought and I enjoy writing blogs, even if only a handful of people read them, so I will be returning with new blog which will cover movies, tv, Netflix, music, life, and I may dabble into some political stuff if I can’t hold my tongue.

Again, I want to thank you all for your likes, comments, followings, and what not. This blog is not being shut down, I am just going to leave it here. When I have the new one up and running, I will make a one time return to let everyone know where to find it.

So, now I’m going to hit play on the movie that will bring this chapter of my blogging to a close.

To quote Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still, “Klaatu barada nikto!”

See you at the movies,

Mystery Man

Trailer Thursday 8/30

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on August 30, 2018 by Mystery Man

For the final time…It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

As I prepare to close up shop on this blog (and perhaps start another), i did some statistical research and, after 10 yrs of reviews, the most viewed post was Jason’s Lyric

So, in honor of this achievement, please enjoy the trailer

Thanks to everyone who enjoyed these Trailer Thursday posts. I hope they have been as much fun for you to read and watch as they were for me to post. I am sure they will be a part of my next endeavor.

Coco

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

What people are saying:

“At every imaginative juncture, the filmmakers (the screenplay is credited to Pixar veteran Molina and Matthew Aldrich) create a richly woven tapestry of comprehensively researched storytelling, fully dimensional characters, clever touches both tender and amusingly macabre, and vivid, beautifully textured visuals” 4 stars

“None of Coco‘s few flaws can fatally undermine the film because it is, most of all, a smart and enduring piece of storytelling with a satisfyingly twisting narrative and richly complex theme. ” 4 stars

Cocos rich visual pleasures are matched by a thoughtful narrative that takes a family-friendly—and deeply affecting—approach to questions of culture, family, life, and death” 5 stars

“The topic this movie handles is unconventional, but it doesn’t take away from the humour, the fun and the insanity that we come to expect from Pixar. They balanced the topic well and respectfully to the culture the topic relates to. Truly one of the best movies in it’s class.” 5 stars

“Once again, leave it to a kid flick to show the adults how to tackle a film about inclusiveness, acculturation and celebrating heritage. Young Miguel Rivera disobeys his family’s perplexing ban on music to pursue his dream of becoming an accomplished, strumming virtuoso. Pixar strikes tear-jerking gold with its first lead Latino character and a story that resonates in a climate where Dreamers face unknown, frightful futures and accepting those with different beliefs and backgrounds still proves a challenge.” 3 1/2 stars

Spring Breakers

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on August 25, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine) and Faith (Selena Gomez) have been best friends since grade school. They live together in a boring college dorm and are hungry for adventure. All they have to do is save enough money for spring break to get their shot at having some real fun. A serendipitous encounter with rapper “Alien” (James Franco) promises to provide the girls with all the thrill and excitement they could hope for. With the encouragement of their new friend, it soon becomes unclear how far the girls are willing to go to experience a spring break they will never forget.

What people are saying:

“If Michael Mann was to take a lot of hallucinogenics and shoot a Girls Gone Wild video, it might look something like this” 4 stars

“…this attractively fizzy pic may be a shock to the system for fans of teen queens Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, but remains pretty toothless titillation by its writer-helmer’s standards” 2 stars

“Korine’s story is a searing indictment of today’s hedonistic, nihilistic youth, and his script is loaded with sharp, telling dialogue that exposes the rotten moral cores of its characters.” 4 stars

Spring Breakers tries to be more than the typical party movie, and that is admirable, even if it doesn’t always work. The movie has a pretty strong social commentary and satirical vibe that is fascinating to watch. The characters are interesting enough and the standout performance in the movie is the one given by James Franco. I thought the movie starts off strong but really fizzles out at some point in the middle. The movie’s structure also feels somewhat repetitive at times and I was exhausted by certain parts of it. Some scenes like they’re a bit too over the top but I think it just comes back to the tone the movie is going for. It’s a movie made with a lot of energy and is unlike anything else this genre has seen before and for the most part its a good thing.” 3 1/2 stars

“I didn’t expect to hate this film as much as I did, I watched it not expecting much, and well…that’s exactly what I got! Sure the film looks good and the girls looked hot in their bikinis BUT! The acting was horrific apart from surprisingly.. Selena Gomez. I love James Franco but not in this movie, he looked stupid, was very repetitive ( in fact the whole film was) he sang a Britney Spears song and gave sexual pleasure to a couple of guns (very strange) All in all this has to be one of the worst films I have ever seen.” 1/2 star

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the sequel to the hit comedy Sister Act, Whoopie Goldberg reprises her role of Deloris Van Cartier, a Las Vegas entertainer who hid out with in a convent of nuns to avoid a nasty bunch of gangsters. In Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Deloris is persuaded to return to the convent by the Mother Superior (Maggie Smith), because her help is needed in teaching their choral students at St. Francis High in San Francisco. However, St. Francis is in a crisis, since the administrator running the school (James Coburn) is threatening to shut the place down. If the gospel choir wins first place in a singing contest in Los Angeles, St. Francis will be saved from the priest’s plans.

What people are saying:

“While the kids may sing a storm when at last they get down to mixing Beethoven, gospel and rap, in the good clean fun department this is monumentally weak and derivative.” 2 stars

“One must remember this is sequel and will probably not be as good as the first movie. Personally I really don’t like sequels all that much but see them anyway. Most of time they have the same plot as the first one. If the first film made a lot of money, It will continue on the same theme without being that good because they don’t have be to make money. So one should keep that in mind when viewing this movie. It’s okay but with no suprises. Whoopi Goldberg usually does well in comedies and will probably to continue with this type of role. In this movie she helps school children with their music abilities they don’t seem to know that they have until she as a nun comes along. A good movie but certainly not a great one. See the movie and form your own opinions. ” 3 stars

“I love this movie — Lauryn Hill singing, Maggie Smith vs. James Coburn, just wonderful music. I don’t know why it got such a low rating…I’ve gotta watch it every year at least. It’s such fun! Look at the discrepancy between the audience reviews and the critics — critics can’t always tell you what’s going to life your heart. She even quotes my favorite poet/philosopher Rilke. I’m a songwriter with major label credits and I just love the music — Lauryn Hill singing His Eye Is on the Sparrow slays me…and the final competition number is absolute joy. Glee fans should enjoy it too!” 5 stars

“Unfortunately, the sequel took a very cliche attempt of “reaching the children’s hearts” and tried for a more heartwarming feel good kind of film while the plot seemed to kill whoopi’s skills in comedy, since her comedy from the first film would have been somewhat inappropriate for this film. However what wasn’t filtered of Whoopi’s humour is worth at least knew watch even though it’s more or less a film that has you saying “I’d rather watch the good one”. Whoopi at least saves ut to be a half decent movie even though the script seems fairly unbelievable and predictable.” 2 1/2 stars

“It’s heart is definitely in the right place, but only the Good Lord Above knows where the hell its brain is. Goldberg throws her nun disguise back on for absolutely no reason, other than to lead an aged plot concerning a class of unruly kids learning to respect one another, and themselves. It turns out to be nice enough, and the music is as awesome as ever. But while the first one was loveably daft, this one’s just numbingly stupid.” 2 stars