Ant-Man

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1989, scientist Hank Pym resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D. after discovering that they attempted to replicate his Ant-Man shrinking technology. Believing the technology is dangerous, Pym vows to hide it as long as he lives. In the present day, Pym’s estranged daughter, Hope van Dyne, and former protégé, Darren Cross, have forced him out of his own company. Cross is close to perfecting a shrinking suit of his own, the Yellowjacket, which horrifies Pym.

Upon his release from prison, well-meaning thief Scott Lang moves in with his old cellmate, Luis. Lang’s ex-wife, Maggie—engaged to policeman Paxton—agrees to let Lang see his daughter Cassie if he provides child support. Unable to hold a job due to his criminal record, Lang agrees to join Luis’ crew and commit a burglary for money. Lang breaks into a house and cracks its safe, but only finds what he believes to be an old motorcycle suit, which he takes home. After trying the suit on, Lang accidentally shrinks himself to the size of an insect. Terrified by the experience, he returns the suit to the house, but is arrested on the way out. Pym, the homeowner, visits Lang in jail and smuggles the suit into his cell to help him break out.

At his home, Pym, who manipulated Lang through Luis into stealing the suit as a test, wants Lang to become the new Ant-Man to steal the Yellowjacket from Cross. Van Dyne, who has been spying on Cross for Pym despite her strained relationship with her father, helps Pym train Lang to fight and to control ants. They send him to steal a device from the Avengers’ headquarters, where he briefly fights Sam Wilson. While van Dyne still shows anger towards Pym about her mother Janet’s death, he reveals that Janet, known as the Wasp, disappeared into a subatomic quantum realm to disable a Soviet nuclear missile. Pym warns Lang that he could suffer a similar fate if he overrides his suit’s safeguards.

Cross perfects the Yellowjacket and invites Pym to the unveiling ceremony. Lang, along with his crew and a swarm of flying ants, infiltrates the building during the event, sabotages the servers, and plants explosives. When he attempts to steal the Yellowjacket, he is trapped by Cross, who intends to sell both the Yellowjacket and Ant-Man suits to Hydra, led by Mitchell Carson. Lang breaks free and defeats most of the Hydra agents, though Carson is able to flee with a vial of Cross’ particles. Lang pursues Cross as he escapes, while the explosives detonate, vaporizing the building.

Cross dons the Yellowjacket and fights Lang before Lang is arrested by Paxton. His mind addled by the imperfect shrinking technology, Cross holds Cassie hostage to lure Lang into another fight; this time, Lang shrinks to subatomic size to penetrate Cross’ suit and sabotage it to shrink uncontrollably, killing Cross. Lang disappears into the quantum realm but manages to reverse the suit’s mechanism and return to the real world. In gratitude for Lang’s heroism, Paxton covers for Lang to keep him out of prison. Seeing that Lang survived and returned from the quantum realm, Pym wonders if his wife is alive as well. Later, Lang meets up with Luis, who tells him that Wilson is looking for him.

In a mid-credits scene, Pym shows van Dyne a new Wasp prototype suit and offers it to her. In a post-credits scene, Wilson and Steve Rogers have Bucky Barnes in their custody. Unable to contact Tony Stark due to “the accords”, Wilson mentions that he “know[s] a guy”.

REVIEW:

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is ending phase II with Ant-Man. A bit of an unusual choice to end a “chapter”, but given the importance of this character, it makes sense. I wonder, given how little people know about this guy, how audiences will react and if they will embrace him in the way they have taken to the other Avengers we have so far. If not, then I fear we will witness Marvel’s first flop.

What is this about?

Fresh out of prison and looking for a new start, master thief Scott Lang is approached by Dr. Pym, creator of a technology that can shrink a man to insect size and boost strength. Together the duo must protect the discovery while saving the world.

What did I like?

Action and effects. If there was one thing this film couldn’t afford to do, it was be boring and/or cheesy. Thankfully, it doesn’t fall into that trap. The action scenes are amazing. Watching Rudd’s Ant-Man shrink and grow while punching bad guys is like watching finely tuned dancer. The effects are really what sells his powers. Truthfully, I think the ants could have looked better, rather than descendants from the movie Them!, but they fit with the tone of the film, so no complaints.

Theme. It seems as if Marvel cannot get a memorable them for their superheroes. The lone exception is Captain America, which they swiftly took away in favor of something more generic in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I tip my hat to Christophe Beck. His percussive theme for this film not only is memorable, but it also has the heist film feel that the picture has.

Bring the funny. Marvel films have become known for the different, lighter tone compared to their DC counterparts. Some have complained and others, like me, truly appreciate and enjoy it. This is being called the funniest of the Marvel films. I won’t go that far, but I will say that the jokes were quite humorous and helped make a film that really should not have worked this well.

What didn’t I like?

Step away from the blueprint. We are a few years into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t there has been a more successful series of films, but I’m starting to see a pattern. Hero is on top of the world, gets knocked down to the bottom of the food chain, fights his way up, encounters arch-nemesis (who turns out to be someone they now), giant fight, set-up for the next film. It is a formula that has worked, no doubt, but I think we are hitting the point that the formula needs a bit of spice. As it stands right now, this is very similar to Iron Man. That isn’t a bad thing, but a change is needed.

Cops and robbers. Knowing that the Scott Lang version of Ant-Man is a thief, it makes sense that the cops are involved. What doesn’t make sense is how the cop/robber angle was used. It wasn’t even a secondary plot, but rather something very throwaway. I felt as if something more should have been done with it. True, in the later half of the film, the cops remember they are cops and actually do some police work, but it is a case of too little, too late, if you ask me.

Weak villain. Yellowjacket should be a villain that instills fear into the audience. Look at him, for goodness sakes! Unfortunately, he comes off as just a carbon copy of Ant-Man with some spider-like stingers on his back. His alter ego, Darrin Cross isn’t much better. Just being a spoiled, disgruntled employee who was allegedly wronged by Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym just doesn’t seem to be enough motivation. There has to be something more to the story that would flesh him out a bit.

Ant-Man introduces audiences to a new character, Ant-Man. This film is a mix of action, comedy, drama, suspense, and it had a good bit of heart in it, as well. Will audiences fall in love with Ant-Man? That remains to be seen. I know that I personally would like to see more of Michael Douglas’ version, but that’s a personal thing. I am not a fan of being forced to watch this in 3D. MY thoughts on this overrated, overpriced way ti drain moviegoers pockets aside, I just don’t think it was necessary or used to it fullest capabilities, similar to those last couple of Spider- Man films. My biggest complaint about this film, though, is that is starts off so slow before picking up. Had they fixed that, I think this film would receive a much better rating. Still, this is very enjoyable flick and I highly enjoyed it! Don’t walk, run and go check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Outlaw’s Son

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , on July 19, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Twelve-year-old Jeff Blaine lives in the small western town of Plainsville where he is being reared by his aunt, Ruth Sewall, who operates a tinsmith business. Jeff’s mother died when he was four months old and his father Nate left shortly thereafter and became an outlaw.

One day, Nate returns and tells Ruth that he has recently been involved in a gunfight. Realizing that his days may be numbered, he asks to see his son again. After Jeff rejects Nate as his father, Ruth, who does not welcome Nate’s visit, returns the small amount of money he has sent for Jeff’s support and asks him to leave the next morning.

In town, when Nate meets old friend Marshal Elec Blessingham in the saloon, Elec chooses to ignore the fact that Nate is a wanted outlaw. The next day, unknown to Ruth, Nate ingratiates himself with Jeff by showing him how to shoot his Colt 44. Later, Ruth reluctantly agrees that Nate can stay a few more days.

Soon, Jeff is calling Nate “Paw,” but runs into trouble at school when another boy, Ben Jorgenson, says that Jeff’s father is a murderer. Jeff tells Ben to get his father’s gun and meet him later. Instead, Ben brings his father, who beats Jeff, who is wearing Nate’s gun. Nate, Elec and Ruth arrive soon after and, after Nate slugs Jorgenson, Ruth blames Nate for involving Jeff with guns and swears she will kill him if he returns again. Later, when Ruth comes to town to obtain some medicine for Jeff, Nate tells her that he is leaving and intends to take Jeff with him.

Soon after, two former associates of Nate, Bill Somerson and Ed Wyatt, rob the Plainsville bank and kill the manager. Ruth, the sole witness to the robbery, lies to Elec that Nate was the perpetrator in order to prevent him from taking Jeff. Nate is arrested and when Jeff visits him in jail, Nate, believing now that his son is better off without him, lets Jeff believe that he is guilty. Outwitting a deputy, Nate escapes from jail and rides away.

Ten years pass and Jeff is still living with Ruth and is now working as a security agent for the stagecoach line, but is embittered by the town’s ostracism of him. Jeff is courting two young women, the prim Amy Wentworth and the more adventurous Lila Costain, who runs a ranch she inherited from her father. When Jeff assists Elec and a posse in foiling a stagecoach robbery, they shoot three of the robbers, including Ed Wyatt. As he dies, Wyatt recognizes Jeff as Nate’s son and tells him and Elec that he and Somerson committed the bank robbery, not Nate.

After Jeff confronts Ruth, she admits that she lied to prevent Nate from taking him away because she wanted Jeff to grow up to be happy and decent. Jeff then leaves Ruth’s house and decides to find Nate. Although Lila tries to dissuade Jeff and asks him to stay with her, he is obsessed with joining his father, who has continued his criminal career, in exacting revenge against the townspeople. Somerson contacts Jeff with a proposal that they and two others set up a payroll robbery based upon Jeff’s knowledge of the stage line’s operations.

Later, Nate visits Ruth and reveals that he never told Jeff that she had lied because he wanted the boy to stay with her. While Nate is at the house, Jeff enters with Lila and Nate informs him that he has heard about the intended robbery and forbids him to participate. In the ensuing fistfight, Jeff beats up Nate and rides off. Nate then begs Elec to help him prevent the robbery.

When Nate and Elec thwart the holdup, Somerson and another gunman take Jeff hostage, blaming him for Nate and Elec’s intervention, and flee on the stage. Nate rides after them and, as Jeff and Somerson struggle inside the coach for possession of a gun, Nate shoots the outlaw driver. Nate then jumps on board, taking over the reins of the runaway stage, but is attacked by Somerson who has knocked out Jeff. Somerson overpowers Nate and brings the stage to a halt, intending to shoot Elec and the others who are following. Nate prevents Somerson from shooting by hurling a knife into his body, but is in turn mortally wounded by the outlaw. Later, as Nate dies in Ruth’s house, Jeff tells him that he intends to change his ways and Ruth agrees to help Jeff once more. Lila then comforts Jeff for the loss of his father.

REVIEW:

It has been a little while since I last visited the western genre, so I feel I need to get back to this beloved genre. Since I am pushed for time this afternoon, something short and sweet is what I am looking for. This is where Outlaw’s Son comes in. Under 90 minutes is the run time, but is it worth watching?

What is this about?

Twelve years after he abandoned his son, an outlaw returns to seek a reconciliation, but is instead framed for murder by a family member.

What did I like?

Sins of the father. The titular character’s father comes to see him after 12 years. As you can guess, this doesn’t sit too well with him, but after a couple of days, they warm up to each other, until an incident happens that turns the town against the father. After a series of events, and 10 yrs passing, we learn that Jeff has grown up into a hardened gunman of sorts, much like his father, but without the outlaw part. All this because of the way he was treated on account of his father’s reputation. Perhaps it is for the best, though.

Triangle. Ah, the love triangle cliché. Sometimes this is something that is just so overdone that we just don’t wish to see it. Other times we get hints at it as a very minor subplot, as is the case here. Jeff is courting these two girls who are polar opposites of each other, as they always tend to be, but it is played out as just part of his everyday life, rather than forcing it into the plot the way some other films would more than likely have done.

Truth comes out. One of the criminals involved in the robbery/murder that framed Nate, the father, clears the air on his deathbed, telling the sheriff and Jeff what really happened. Per the law, a deathbed confession is not something to be taken lightly. Judging by the way Jeff turned out, though, had this been confessed 10 years ago, he may have turned out totally different.

What didn’t I like?

Selfish aunt. Jeff’s aunt, in her quest to keep him away from his father, does everything she can to stand in between the two of them. After the incident where Jeff is beat up by a grown man, she blames him and tells him needs to get out of the house. Then, when he tells her he is leaving town and taking Jeff with him, she witnesses a robbery and murder. When asked who did, she says Nate was the perpetrator, framing him and setting in motion a dark path for Jeff. Some people and their selfish ways! Will they never learn?

Townspeople. If I’ve learned anything from watching old movies, especially westerns, it is that townspeople are bloodthirsty when a crime has been committed against one of their own. The first chance they get, they will call for a hangin’. These folks are no different, they wanted Nate hung right there on the spot. No jail time. No trial. Just swift “justice”. Sakes alive, can you imagine if folks were still like this today?!?

Vengeance? A recurring theme in most westerns is vengeance, and yet it doesn’t seem to be a factor in this one, but I feel it should be. Jeff meets the man who more or less is responsible for his father having spent the last 10 yrs in exile, so to speak, but instead of shooting the man dead, he teams up with him. For some reason, I think that has this been a John Wayne film, we would have seen some vengeance extracted, one way or another.

Outlaw’s Son is not a well-known entry into the western genre. Some even go so far as to label it a B-movie. I’m not so sure I agree with that, unless the definition was different in the 50s. This is the kind of flick I expect to see on AMC when they have that group of westerns every Saturday morning. That isn’t a bad thing, just an observation. As far as the film goes, it has some issues with creating a storyline the audience can get invested in, but at least the pacing is brisk and doesn’t give you time to nod off. The climactic stagecoach robbery scene is vintage western, though I would have liked for there to have been some shots fire. All I all I think this is a decent underrated western worth checking out someday. Just remember, it has nothing to do with the Jane Russell film, The Outlaw.

3 out of 5 stars

The Fifth Element

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1914, aliens known as Mondoshawans arrive at an ancient Egyptian temple to collect, for safekeeping, the only weapon capable of defeating a great evil that appears every 5,000 years. The weapon consists of four stones, representing the four classical elements, and a sarcophagus containing a fifth element in the form of a human, which combines the power of the other four elements into a divine light capable of defeating the evil. The Mondoshawans promise their human contact, a priest from a secret order, that they will come back with the element stones in time to stop the great evil when it returns.

In 2263, the great evil appears in deep space in the form of a giant ball of black fire, and destroys an attacking Earth spaceship. The Mondoshawans’ current contact on Earth, priest Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm), informs the President of Earth (Tom Lister Jr.) of the history of the great evil and the weapon that can stop it. As the Mondoshawans return to Earth they are ambushed by Mangalores, a race hired by the industrialist Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman), who has been instructed by the great evil to acquire the stones.

The Mondoshawans’ spacecraft is destroyed, though the stones are not on board; the only item recovered is a hand of The Fifth Element. Scientists take it to a New York City laboratory and use it to reconstruct a humanoid woman who takes the name Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). Terrified of the unfamiliar surroundings, she escapes confinement and jumps off a ledge, crashing into the flying taxicab of Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), a former major in the special forces.

Dallas delivers Leeloo to Cornelius and his apprentice, David (Charlie Creed-Miles), whereupon Cornelius learns that the Mondoshawans entrusted the four element stones to the alien Diva Plavalaguna (Maïwenn Le Besco), an opera singer. Zorg kills many of the Mangalores because of their failure to obtain the stones, but their compatriots determine to seize the artifacts for themselves. Upon learning from the Mondoshawans that the stones are in Plavalaguna’s possession, General Munro (Brion James), Dallas’ former superior, re-enlists Dallas and orders him to travel undercover to meet Plavalaguna on a luxury intergalactic cruise; Dallas takes Leeloo with him. Meanwhile, Cornelius instructs David to prepare the ancient temple designed to house the stones, then stows away on the space plane transporting Dallas to the cruise liner.

Plavalaguna is killed when the Mangalores attack the ship, but Dallas succeeds in retrieving the stones. During his struggle with the Mangalores he kills their leader. After shooting and seriously wounding Leeloo, Zorg finds a carrying case which he presumes contains the stones, and takes it back to his spacecraft, leaving behind a time bomb that forces the liner’s occupants to evacuate. Discovering the case to be empty, Zorg returns to the ship and deactivates his bomb, but a dying Mangalore sets off his own device, destroying the ship and killing Zorg. Dallas, Cornelius, Leeloo, and talk-show host Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) escape with the stones aboard Zorg’s spacecraft.

The four join up with David at the weapon chamber in the Egyptian temple as the great evil approaches. They activate the stones, but having witnessed and studied so much violence, Leeloo has become disenchanted with humanity and refuses to cooperate. Dallas confesses his love for Leeloo and kisses her. In response, Leeloo combines the power of the stones and releases the divine light; the great evil, now dormant, becomes another moon in Earth orbit.

REVIEW:

In the 80s, there were countless clones, imitations, and blatant rip offs of Star Wars. That trend ended, though, and sci-fi focused on other films to steal from. Then the 90s hit and studios realized it was time for a new space opera. There were many failures, some epic in scope *COUGH* Battlefield Earth *COUGH*, but there was one that has gone one to cult status, The Fifth Element.

What is this about?

In this imaginative sci-fi epic, a 23rd-century cabbie finds himself involved with a fetching alien who may hold the key to saving the world. But it’s curtains for planet Earth unless the duo can stay a step ahead of a demented villain named Zorg.

What did I like?

Epic feel. What makes the holy trilogy so special is that it tells a story that on a huge scale. In some respects, this film follows that same formula. The evil, universal bad guys can only be defeated by this ragtag group of heroes, to sum it up in not so many words. It works, though. Also, there is just a certain look to the film in places that is very reminiscent of 70s and early 80s sci-fi, which I appreciated.

Friday. At the time this was released, Chris Tucker was an up and coming star because of Friday, a small role in Jackie Brown, and the Rush Hour films coming down the pipeline. Not being a big star, yet, Tucker was still hungry and willing to do anything to get noticed and bring home a paycheck, which explains why this overly flamboyant, obvious comic relief character of Ruby Rhod work. He is a contrast to the seriousness of Bruce Willis and isn’t off in la la land like Milla Jovovich’s character seems to be at some points.

Reconstruction. Some of our best technological achievements today have come from sci-fi films and television (and yet we still don’t have flying cars!) If there is something that should seriously be considered for real word use, I would say it is this reconstruction machine. Milla Jovovich’s character was nothing but a hand and this thing recreated her bones, tissues, muscles, everything. Obviously, this wouldn’t work in real life, but imagine if someone had their leg amputated for some reason and were taken to this machine. I’m just saying, it was impressive.

What didn’t I like?

Accent. I think I should just automatically make this a category any time I watch a film where someone is speaking in some sort of accent, because this seems to be a recurring theme. This time the culprit is Gary Oldman. Not only does he have this odd Texas-ish accent going on, but his character reminds me of the duke from Moulin Rouge, if he were really a bad guy. The accent, though, just makes no kind of sense. What was wrong with his normal accent, I wonder. Seems to me a British sounding villain is way more intimidating that one who sounds like he was an extra on Dallas.

Perfect? You could have a drinking game with as many times as Milla Jovovich was called perfect, especially when they first re-create her. My problem with that is she really isn’t perfect, at least to me. If you go by what the magazines and fashion industry want you to believe, then yes, she is perfect. However, as a red-blooded, straight American male, I can say that she needs some work before she can be called perfect. Personally, I like my women with curves and a bit more meat on their bones. Perhaps the next guy prefers blondes. The guy after that may have a thing for buff girls. What I’m trying to say is that if they really wanted her to be perfect, then she should have been an amalgamation of what guys tend to think is perfect, rather than just a random model.

Identity thief. Perhaps in this post 9/11 world we live in, seeing something like 3 or 4 guys claiming to be same person, as well as a woman who only seems to know a handful of words, would raise some red flags. For some reason, though, it is just business as usual at this terminal. At least it is once they catch the guy. Had this kind of thing happened in an airport today on Earth, all of those guys would have gotten a major beatdown, which would be followed by questions. That seems to be how things work over here in the US.

Apparently, people fall on one side or the other with The Fifth Element. They either love it or hate it. I think I’m the oddball, because I don’t really feel strongly either way. On the one side, I was expecting more action and outlandish humor, rather than some humdrum melodrama. On the flipside of that, though, there is a really good story that is easy to follow. So, do I recommend it? Sure, as a matter of fact, I think this is a film that needs to be seen more than once to truly cherish. I guess that means I need to go watch it again. HA!

4 out of 5 stars

The Fluffy Movie

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on July 18, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Taking the stage at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, comic Gabriel Iglesias delivers a manic performance featuring wild stories and even wilder impersonations. Iglesias opens the book on his personal background and the strange realities of life on the road.

REVIEW:

Comedy Central has really been living up to its name the last few years. Thanks to stand-up specials featuring the likes of Jim Gaffigan, Amy Schumer, Louis C.K., and others, we have been privy to an influx of new great comedic talent. One of my favorites in the new breed is Gabriel Iglesias, but I wonder if The Fluffy Movie will fall short or surpass his other specials.

What is this about?

A comedy concert film that captures the on-stage performance and inspirational success story of Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias.

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

There isn’t a comedian alive that wasn’t influenced by Eddie Murphy and Gabriel pays respect to Murphy by, in a flashback, playing the video of Eddie Murphy Raw. If I’m not mistaken, this is also an homage to the opening scene of that film where Murphy does a flashback to his childhood.

Comedians that lose weight are often chastised for “losing the funny”. Jonah Hill is the most recent example as the “skinny version” wasn’t anywhere near as funny as the one we are more accustomed to. Iglesias’ whole career is based on his weight, so when he started losing it, many were worried. IT doesn’t look like he lost any of the funny, but let’s all give him a standing ovation for dropping 100 lbs!!!

Admittedly, Iglesias doesn’t rehearse his routines, as he prefers for them to be natural or real. Not to mention you can never tell what the audience is going to laugh at. That being said, it is really impressive to watch as he goes into a heartfelt story about meeting his father for the first time and the tragedy of what happened before he could get his parents back together for a picture for him to have with them together. There aren’t many people who could keep that situation from bringing the mood in the house down, but Iglesias manages to do so. If he ever decides to become a comedy writer, I’m sure he’ll have a career. Lord knows comedies these days need someone who can keep the funny going without turning it into drama!

In this day and age, it is just a prerequisite to talk about race and Iglesias is no exception to that rule. What sets him apart from the rest, though, is that he doesn’t take a mean-spirited approach to his race jokes. Instead, he makes fun of the stereotypes in a positive manner. I find this refreshing in this age of cynical, mean-spirited, and nymphomaniac comics to have one that is on stage just telling jokes for fun, not to piss anyone off.

The Fluffy Movie is actually one of the better stand-up comedy films I’ve seen since the Eddie Murphy days. However, I feel this was a bit more studio driven, rather than Fluffy powered. What I mean by that is it doesn’t have that same hungry vibe his previous specials have had, but maybe that’s just me. That point aside, I did find this film to be quite hilarious. I cannot remember the last time I laughed this hard! I highly recommend this and any other Iglesias comedy routines you can track down!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Revisited: Cool World

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1945 Las Vegas, World War II veteran Frank Harris (Brad Pitt) returns to his mother. Riding on a motorcycle that he won in Italy during his service, Frank and his mother are struck by a drunk couple. Frank survives, but his mother dies. As an ambulance truck takes her away, Frank is transported to “Cool World”, an animated city of surrealistic landscapes and random cartoon violence. He was inadvertently teleported by Dr. Vincent Whiskers (Maurice LaMarche), a doctor who created a “spike” that was supposed to take him to the real world, but brought Frank to Cool World instead. Whiskers finds Frank useful enough to run things in the Cool World while he is gone to the real world.

Forty seven years later, Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne), a cartoonist, is detained after murdering a man he found in bed with his wife. He creates the highly acclaimed comic book series “Cool World”, which features the femme fatale Holli Would (Kim Basinger). On the night before his release, Holli summons Jack into the Cool World, and he sees Holli dance in the local dance club. After he sees her dance, Jack is teleported back to the real world. It turns out that Holli wants to enter the real world, but is forbidden to do so by Frank, who is now a police officer in the Cool World.

After he is released, Jack is transported to the Cool World once again and meets Holli and her goons, who have been encouraging his misled beliefs that he himself created the Cool World. In reality, Holli has simply been bringing him there, and Jack created his comic book series on what he’s seen there, which he initially believed were his own dreams. Meanwhile, Frank is about to go on a date with his longtime girlfriend Lonette (Candi Milo), when his partner Nails (Charlie Adler), a spider, tells him about Jack’s presence. Frank confronts Jack at the local Slash Club, confiscating his fountain pen, informing him that it’s a dangerous weapon in the Cool World. Frank then tells Jack the truth: the Cool World has existed long before he created the comic series and forewarns him that “noids”, humans from the real world, are not allowed to have sex with “doodles”, the cartoon inhabitants of the Cool World. He further advises Jack not to get involved with Holli before Jack returns to the real world.

Holli brings Jack back into the Cool World, where he is taken to Holli’s apartment. Holli and Jack have sex, transforming Holli into a human. While Frank attempts to mend his relationship with Lonette, he temporarily leaves detective duties to Nails. Nails receives a call from an informant named Sparks, who tells him that Jack and Holli have had sex and are leaving for the real world. Nails decides that he can do this on his own and goes off to stop Holli. Nails attempts to stop her from leaving the Cool World, but Holli uses Jack’s fountain pen to suck Nails in. Jack and Holli return to the real world, where Holli sings “Let’s Make Love” at a nightclub with Frank Sinatra, Jr.. Frank discovers that Nails is gone and decides to venture into the real world to pursue Jack and Holli. Meanwhile, Jack and Holli have started to flicker between human and doodle states. While contemplating their situation, Holli tells Jack about the “Spike of Power”, an artifact placed on the top of a Las Vegas casino by a doodle who crossed into the real world. When Jack displays skepticism about Holli and the idea, Holli abandons him to search for the spike on her own.

Frank meets up with Jack later on, explaining that the flickering both Jack and Holli have been experiencing is the disappearance of both worlds. They decide to team up and stop Holli from removing the spike. They get Jennifer (Michele Abrams), the daughter of Jack’s neighbor to drive them to the casino, and on the way, Frank explains that it was Doc Whiskers who crossed worlds and put the spike on the top of the hotel and if it were removed, it could potentially destroy both the real world and the Cool World.

Holli is escorted out of the casino for not spending any money, all the while asking about Vegas Vinnie, which is the alias of Doc Whiskers. When she spots the Doc, she tells him that she couldn’t find him, but when she starts to flicker between human and doodle state again, she begins to become suspicious and starts to see through Doc’s disguise and shakes him out of it, revealing his identity. Doc tries to convince Holli not to get the Spike of Power, but Holli becomes enraged and threatens Doc Whiskers with the fountain pen. When Frank, Jack, and Jennifer get to the destination, Frank pursues Holli on the casino, while Jack and Jennifer put Doc Whiskers back together after being popped by Holli’s pen. Frank chases after Holli throughout the hotel, while she’s still flickering from human to doodle state. While in doodle form, Holli pushes Frank off the building to his death. Holli finds and takes the Spike of Power, transforming her, Jack, and everyone in Vegas into doodles and opening a gateway between the two worlds, releasing numerous monstrous doodles. Transformed into a superhero doodle, Jack gets a hold of the spike. Holli tries to seduce it away from Jack, but instead he returns the Spike of Power to its place, trapping him, Holli and the rest of the doodles in Cool World.

Meanwhile, Nails escapes from Holli’s pen and both he and Doc Whiskers return Frank’s body to Cool World. Lonette discovers that Holli was a doodle when she killed Frank and explains when a noid is killed by a doodle, he is reborn in Cool World as a doodle. He is transformed into a doodle, allowing him to pursue his relationship with Lonette. Meanwhile, Jack and Holli are last seen together in the panels of a comic book. Jack (still a superhero doodle) is planning out how they will live, much to Holli’s dismay

REVIEW:

Growing up, I wanted to become a cartoonist. That was a dream that lasted fairly long, actually, until I found out my true talents were in other arts. Still, I can appreciate the strides that were made in animation during the time. Cool World may appear to be a rip off of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? but rest assured that it is anything but.

What is this about?

In an effort to keep the cartoon world and real world apart, a Vegas cop works to ensure that humans and animated characters don’t bed one another. But when a comic-book artist is seduced by his own cartoon creation, mayhem descends on the city.

What did I like?

Character design. Jessica Rabbit was designed to no only be an exaggerated ideal of the 40s nightclub singer, but also the perfect male fantasy of a female form. Holli Would is in that same vein, if perhaps a bit more “realistic” in her proportions. Here’s something no one ever notices, though. There are plenty of other animated characters besides Holli that are quite impressive in their own right. The fluid designs of these dirty characters is what is impressive to me and the character of Lonnie is the true antithesis to Holli, being brunette, demure, and totally devoted to Brad Pitt’s character. She almost put me in the mind of Betty Boop in a way.

Animation. Ralph Bakshi has a distinct style that for sure. His characters are about as far from Disney and Warner Brothers as you can get, much like his sense of humor…and yet he did a very successful Saturday morning version of Mighty Mouse. Bakshi tends to keep his character away from the clean suburbs, opting instead for crime ridden back alleys and such, which often lends to some interesting character design, as well as an outlet for his trippy art style to take center stage.

Mix and match. An intriguing part of the story was how having sex with a cartoon makes them real. I’m sure more than a few guys and girls have fantasized about some animated character becoming real. Why else do we have cosplay? I couldn’t help but be dumbfounded with how this happened, though. Also, how Holli’s clothes seem to magically come to her, even though she had become human. This is just not a topic that has been explored, so I was fascinated out of curiosity.

What didn’t I like?

Plausibility. Usually, I’m the last one to scream about how believable something is in the movies, but I have to say something about this. First off, the green screen work was horrible. There are scenes in which the graphics look rudimentary, at best. When Pitt has his arm around his girl, I wasn’t buying it. As far as the plot goes, well, it is one thing for an entire town of cartoons to exist on the other side of Hollywood in the 40s, but for dark, violent cartoons to not try to escape for nearly 40 years I can’t believe. Surely, Holli can’t be the first to have wanted it this badly, can she?

Boys will be boys.  Brad Pitt and Gabriel Byrne are fairly young and early in their careers when this film came out. I believe Pitt hadn’t even received all the accolades from his two scenes in Thelma & Louise yet. Why do I bring this up? Well, both men have gone on to successful careers, but if you were to see this and say they would have done so back then I’m sure you’d get laughed into shame. Neither man does their greatest work in this picture. As a matter of fact, they both seem as if they don’t want to be there. Never a good sign!

Dangerous curves. Kim Bassinger was one of the most beautiful and desirable women on the planet when this was released. Holli Would is literally just her in animated form, but when she comes to life the figures don’t add up. Nothing against Basinger, but she doesn’t have the body for this role. Holli’s human side should have been played but someone with more to offer uptop and down below, so that the figures matched up. Instead, it appears as if she loses some of what makes her an appealing character, her curves, in the transformation.

Cool World, in this finished form, is not what was originally intended to be released in theaters. We were supposed to have a film noir horror/thriller type film instead of a “comedy” but secret meetings allowed for the changes. I can’t say if they were for the better, but I am curious to see what this was supposed to be. I think this film’s biggest flaw has nothing to with the film itself, but the fact that it came out a couple of years after Roger Rabbit and, because it did, the comparisons will never stop. There are tons of issues with this film, but I think it is still enjoyable, so give it a shot sometime.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 7/16

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on July 16, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

With the forthcoming release of the (unnecessary) franchise reboot, I thought I’d go back and share the original. I swear I may be one of the few people who actually likes this movie, but take a look and tell me what you think of Fantastic Four

RoboCop (2014)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2028, multinational conglomerate OmniCorp revolutionizes warfare with the introduction of robotic peacekeepers capable of maintaining law and order in hot spots such as Iran. Led by CEO Raymond Sellars, the company moves to market its tech to domestic law enforcement, but the passage of the Dreyfus Act, forbidding deployment of drones on U.S. soil, prevents this. Aware that most Americans oppose the use of military systems in their communities, Sellars asks Dr. Dennett Norton and his research team to create an alternative. The result is a proposal for a cyborg police officer. However, Norton informs Sellars that only someone who is stable enough to handle being a cyborg can be turned into one, and some candidates are rejected.

A Detroit policeman, Alex Murphy, is chosen after he is critically injured in a car bomb explosion arranged by crime boss Antoine Vallon in revenge for Murphy’s investigation into his activities. Norton persuades Murphy’s wife Clara to sign off on the procedure. Upon waking up and realizing the extent of his transformation, Murphy flies into a rage and escapes the lab, but Norton is able to convince him to return. As Norton reveals to Murphy that the only remnants of his human body are most of his head (excluding parts of the brain), his respiratory organs and a hand, Murphy is disgusted, and asks for euthanasia. Norton reminds Murphy about his wife’s and son’s patience, and convinces him to live on. During combat training with trainer Rick Mattox, Murphy proves unable to compete with the standard OmniCorp drones in efficiency. Norton alters his programming to make him more efficient, but also less empathetic.

Shortly before he is to be publicly unveiled, Murphy has an emotional breakdown, forcing Norton to remove his emotions. During the ceremony, RoboCop identifies and apprehends a criminal in the crowd. He goes on to dramatically reduce crime in Detroit, wrecking public support for the Dreyfus Act. Aware that Clara has begun to ask questions, Sellars orders Norton to keep her away from her husband.

Clara nevertheless manages to confront RoboCop, telling him of their son David’s nightmares. The experience leads Murphy to override his programming and access the previously sealed files on his attempted murder. From them, he learns his son witnessed the explosion and was left traumatized. Murphy pursues Vallon’s gang for revenge. He takes heavy damage from their armor-piercing weapons, but manages to kill the boss and his men. Murphy returns to the station and joins with his old partner, Jack Lewis, to confront the two corrupt cops who betrayed him to Vallon, shooting one and tazing the other. Learning that the Chief of Police was also involved, Murphy moves to arrest her, but is remotely shut down by Mattox.

With the help of Pat Novak, a pro-OmniCorp talk show host, Sellars uses the incident to get the Dreyfus Act repealed. Clara goes to the press and angrily demands to see her husband. Fearful of being exposed, Sellars orders Mattox to destroy RoboCop while he’s being repaired. Norton is able to reach him first and reveals the truth. RoboCop narrowly escapes the building just as it undergoes lockdown.

Murphy returns and storms the building, destroying the ED-209 drones sent to stop him while Lewis and his fellow police arrive to hold off the rest of OmniCorp’s forces. Mattox subdues Murphy and prepares to finish him off, but is killed by Lewis. Murphy then makes his way to the roof where Sellars is waiting for a helicopter with Clara and David as hostages. Murphy’s programming initially prevents him from arresting Sellars, but he overcomes it long enough to kill Sellars despite being severely wounded.

OmniCorp’s parent company, OCP, shuts down the project. The President vetoes the repeal of the Dreyfus Act based on the testimony of Norton, to Novak’s anger. Murphy’s body is rebuilt in Norton’s laboratory, and he waits for Clara and David, who are coming to visit him.

REVIEW:

Here we go with another remake of a classic 80s property. Robocop aims to introduce new audiences to the titular character, while also creating a so-call hero for this generation, or some such crap.

What is this about?

When Detroit cop and family man Alex Murphy is critically injured in the line of duty, a robotics firm transforms him into an experimental crime-fighting cyborg, though he remains haunted by his human past in this reboot of the 1980s sci-fi classic.

What did I like?

Family life. Remakes are not my cup of tea. I believe they are just lazy filmmaking and show how un-creative Hollywood is becoming, especially with more and more of these being released every year. Don’t even get me started on how they besmirch the legacy of the original. Take True Grit, for instance. When the remake came out, the artwork on the original DVD cover was changed to look similar. Clash of the Titans, and many others I’m sure, had that same thing done to them. What I do like about remakes, though, is how they touch on some thing that just aren’t covered in the original. In the case of this film, we get more of a look at Officer Murphy’s family life. How the accident really affected his wife and kid and all that. I don’t believe the original Robocop gave us that. As a matter of fact, I seem to recall the wife leaving after he became a cyborg. So, that’s a change. Depending on your personal opinion, it may be for the better or worse.

Morality. From a morality standpoint, the picture takes a stand on how right or wrong it is to keep a man alive who is nothing more than a head and vital organs. Thinking about it now, that is a quandary. On the one hand, you’re keeping this guy alive after getting severely injured in the line of work, but on the other hand, what kind of life can he truly have now that he is more man than machine, from a physical standpoint, at least. The quandary is something that actually makes you think, that’s for sure.

Original theme. The original theme music from the original film had a heroic march feel to it, giving the audience the emotions of following Murphy on his mission to rid the streets of Detroit from the bad guys. The filmmakers actually snuck it in here a couple of time as an Easter egg, of sorts. There are other nods to the original, such as the pre-painted mechanical body, lines from the original, etc. Knowing how poorly the news of this being was received, I think the filmmakers wanted to extend an olive branch to the fans. It was a decent attempt, that’s all I’ll say about that.

What didn’t I like?

Mr. Roboto. I have two things to say about this. First, the new cyborg body isn’t impressive. It is almost like an insectoid exoskeleton, rather than something that would be used to fight crime. Last I checked, Robocop wasn’t going around doing parkour. Also, like the actors who play superheroes, Joel Kinnaman spends way more time with his visor off. As a matter of fact, I think this version it only comes down when he’s fighting. WTF?!? That thing needs to be down at all times, similar to Judge Dredd, where much of his design comes from. My other point is how wooden and robotic Kinnaman’s acting is. I felt no emotion, sympathy, or even connection to the guy, nor did I want to cheer for him when he became Robocop. He’s just unlikable. I won’t go so far as to say he was miscast, though, because the script didn’t do him any favors.

Satire subtraction. The original film was actually a big satire for the overabundance of excess violence, advertising, and cooperate greed that was commonplace in the 80s. There is little satire in this film, mostly by Samuel L. Jackson’s character playing a weird combination of Al Sharpton and Bill O’Reilly (doesn’t that though give you nightmares?), but the rest of the film doesn’t even try to hint at satire, instead going for the straight and narrow, dare I say safe, route.

Violence without blood. Some of the best scenes from the original involve the gratuitous violence. Limbs being shot off, guys getting mutate and then splattered on a windshield, it is glorious! If you’re looking for more of the same with this version, though, I must warn you that there isn’t even a drop of blood spilled. Does this film need gratuitous violence to be good? I wouldn’t say that, but when a person gets shot, they are going to bleed. When a guy get’s blown up, he is not going to still look nearly the same. That’s just the way things are

Robocop makes an attempt at being a new action franchise, but it just isn’t good enough. It doesn’t stand up to the original, feels like it was made just for a cash grab, has an inferior plot. Also, the fun of the original is drained out of this one as it becomes just another dry, forgettable action flick. There are some good points, though. As I mentioned, the extended family story was nice as was showing the Arkham City way Robocop can decipher clues and recreate crime scenes, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. Do I recommend this? No, unless you want to fall asleep in an action flick. I tried, I really tried to get into this, but just couldn’t and I’m sure there are others that have or will have the same reaction.

2 out of 5 stars

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