Trailer Thursday 4/23

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on April 23, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

We all know the Andrews Sisters’ mega-hit song, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, but how many of us know that it was actually first featured in a film? Even with all my jazz knowledge, I cannot say that I was aware of this, but here it is,  Buck Privates

Just a little extra tidbit of info, Abbott and Costello also featured a young Ella Fitzgerald and her song, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” in their film, Ride ‘Em Cowboy. It appears they liked to feature jazz stars in their films.

Bring It On

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Torrance Shipman anxiously dreams about her first day of senior year. Her boyfriend, Aaron has left for college, and her cheerleading squad, the Toros, is aiming for a sixth consecutive national title. Torrance is elected to replace the team captain, “Big Red,” who is graduating. Soon, however, Carver is injured and can no longer compete. Torrance replaces her with Missy Pantone, a gymnast who recently transferred to the school with her brother Cliff. Torrance and Cliff develop a flirtatious friendship. After watching the Toros practice, Missy realizes the squad has been copying routines from a rival team that her previous high school competed against. She drives Torrance to Los Angeles, where they watch the East Compton Clovers perform routines that are virtually identical to their own team’s. Isis, the Clovers’ team captain, angrily confronts the two. Torrance learns that “Big Red” regularly attended the Clovers’ practices to videotape and steal their routines.

Isis informs Torrance of her plans to defeat the Toros at the regional and national championships, which the team has never attended due to their economic hardship. When Torrance tells the Toros about the routines, the team still votes in favor of using the current routine to win; Torrance reluctantly agrees. At the Toros’ next home game, Isis and her teammates show up and perform the Toros’ routine in front of the whole school, humiliating them. The Toros realize that they have no choice but to learn a different routine. In desperation, they employ a professional choreographer named Sparky Polastri to provide one, as suggested by Aaron. But at the Regionals, the team scheduled immediately ahead of the Toros performs the exact routine they had been practicing. The Toros have no choice but to perform the very same routine. After the debacle that ensues, Torrance speaks to a competition official and is told Polastri provided the routine to several other teams in California. As the defending champions, the Toros are nevertheless granted their place in the Finals, but Torrance is warned that a new routine will be expected. Torrance, crushed by her failure to lead the team successfully, considers quitting.

Cliff encourages and supports her, intensifying their growing attraction. Aaron, however, suggests that she is not leadership material and recommends that she step down from her position. When Cliff sees Torrance and Aaron together, he angrily severs his friendship with Torrance, to her distress. But her confidence is renewed by Cliff’s encouragement and she convinces her unhappy team to create an innovative, new routine instead. She breaks up with Aaron, realizing his infidelity and his inability to be supportive, but Cliff still refuses to forgive her. Meanwhile, the Clovers are initially unable to compete at Nationals due to financial problems. This prompts Torrance to get her dad’s company to sponsor the Clovers, but Isis rejects the money and gets her team to Nationals by appealing to a talk show host who grew up in their area. In the finals, the Toros place second, while the Clovers win. However, at the end of the movie, Torrance and Isis find respect in each other, and Cliff and Torrance share a romantic kiss.

REVIEW:

Cheerleaders. The unattainable prize for non-jock adolescent boys. Well, I dated one when I was in high school and I was a band geek, so there is that. Bring It On is one of the films that shows cheering in a light other than just a bunch of cute girls who exist to shag the star football players. Does that mean this is a film you should keep away from?

What is this about?

Pressure mounts as cheerleading captain Torrance Shipman attempts to lead her crew to its sixth national title. She’s determined to let nothing — not family, schoolwork or an inner-city squad with a score to settle — get in the way of winning.

What did I like?

Cheer or die. One of the best things about this film is that it really shows how far these athletes go to compete for a championship. In one of the first scenes, a girl falls from the top of a the cheer pyramid, severely injures herself, and still wants to compete as soon as she’s able. That’s dedication!

He gets her? In typical high school society, cheerleaders tend to go for the jocks. At least that’s how it was at my high school. So, for this film to break that mold and have the head cheerleader pair up with a “nobody” really speaks to how society has changed. Now, I have to ask, since he’s with her, can I have his sister? HAHA!

Stereotypes need not apply. Looking for the typical stereotypical cheerleaders that bubbleheaded, vapid blondes? You might want to find another film, then. In this film, these girls have brains, attitude, and looks. The guys that are on the team…yes, there are guys on the team…are also highly trained athletes that I wager could just as easily have made the football team, but chose rather to cheer because apparently the team hasn’t won a game in quite some time.

What didn’t I like?

Cloverfield. Understanding that the Cloverfield squad is meant to be the anti-Rancho Carne, they just got on my nerves. The girls spoke in the “ghetto” speak, complete with hand movement that has always irked me. The style they had nearly made me want to turn the film off everytime they were on the screen. Had it not been for Gabrielle Union’s character showing class and decorum through those scenes, I doubt I would have made it through. Someone needed to tone down those girls because they were just shy of being hood rats!

Charity. So, there is this thing called pride that sometimes will not allow us to accept help, no matter the cost and/or reason. However, I have to question why Union’s character just tore up the check she received from Kristen Dunst’s character. Yes, they wanted to earn their own way, but the way this was presented made her just seem catty and vicious. In some ways, you could say racist, if you must play that card. For me, I would have liked for her to have taken the check and then Cloverfield wins with the money given to them by the father of Dunst’s character, but that might be a bit too much for this light hearted film.

Personality change. Eliza Dushku comes in as a hardcore rocker chick who only tries out for the team because they don’t have a gymnastics program. She is quite obviously not the cheering type. With that said, all it takes is a couple of scenes and she is all but immersed in cheering culture. Now, I would expect some transformation, but given the way they introduce her, it just seems as if there should have been more resistance and not this apparent brainwashing.

Bring It On did for cheerleading what a film like Drumline has done for marching band. Sure, neither one is anywhere close to showing what it is really like, but they portray their activity in a positive light. For that reason alone, this should be a must-see, but there is also the fact that this is not a bad film. It is quite enjoyable, especially for a teen comedy. I’m not a fan of cheering. As a matter of fact, I have been vocal about seeing it on ESPN (though it is more entertaining that poker, golf, and some of the other things they have on there), but this flick really kept my attention. Do I recommend it? Yes, very highly! Give it a shot and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 4/16

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

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

One of the giants of jazz, especially during WWII was Glenn Miller. An underrated biopic starring Jimmy Stewart was made at one time. Check out the trailer and see what you think of The Glenn Miller Story

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Prologue

In the present, a teenage girl approaches a monument to a writer in a cemetery. In her arms is a memoir penned by a character known only as “The Author”. She starts reading a chapter from the book. The Author begins narrating the tale from his desk in 1985 about a trip he made to the Grand Budapest Hotel in 1968.

Located in the Republic of Zubrowka, a fictional Central European state ravaged by war and poverty, the Young Author discovers that the remote mountainside hotel has fallen on hard times. Many of its lustrous facilities are now in a poor state of repair, and its guests are few. The Author encounters the hotel’s elderly owner, Zero Moustafa, one afternoon, and they agree to meet later that evening. Over dinner in the hotel’s enormous dining room, Mr. Moustafa tells him the tale of how he took ownership of the hotel and why he is unwilling to close it down.

Part 1 – M. Gustave

The story begins in 1932 during the hotel’s glory days when the young Zero was a lobby boy, freshly arrived in Zubrowka after his hometown was razed and his entire family executed. Zero acquires a girlfriend, Agatha, who is a professional pastry chef and proves very resourceful. Zubrowka is on the verge of war, but this is of little concern to Monsieur Gustave H., the Grand Budapest’s devoted concierge. The owner of the hotel is unknown and only relays important messages through the lawyer Deputy Kovacs. When he is not attending to the needs of the hotel’s wealthy clientele or managing its staff, Gustave courts a series of aging women who flock to the hotel to enjoy his “exceptional service”. One of the ladies is Madame Céline Villeneuve “Madame D” Desgoffe und Taxis, with whom Gustave spends the night prior to her departure.

Part 2 – Madame C.V.D.u.T.

One month later, Gustave is informed that Madame D has died under mysterious circumstances. Taking Zero along, he races to her wake and the reading of the will, where Kovacs, coincidentally the executor of the will, reveals that in her will she has bequeathed to Gustave a very valuable painting, Boy with Apple. This enrages her family, all of whom hoped to inherit it. Her son, Dmitri Desgoffe und Taxis, lashes out at Gustave. With the help of Zero, Gustave steals the painting and returns to the Grand Budapest, securing the painting in the hotel’s safe. During the journey, Gustave makes a pact with Zero: in return for the latter’s help, he makes Zero his heir. Shortly thereafter, Gustave is arrested and imprisoned for the murder (by strychnine) of Madame D after forced testimony by Serge X, Madame D’s butler, about seeing Gustave in her house on a particular night. Gustave tells Zero he has an alibi for that night but could never cite his aristocratic lady bedfellow in court. Upon arriving in prison, Gustave finds himself stuck in a cell with hardened criminals, but earns their respect after he “beat the shit” out of one of them for “challenging [his] virility”.

Part 3 – Check-point 19 Criminal Internment Camp

Zero aids Gustave in escaping from Zubrowka’s prison by sending a series of stoneworking tools concealed inside cakes made by Zero’s fiancée Agatha. Along with a group of convicts including Ludwig, Gustave digs his way out of his cell with the help of the tools. The group narrowly escape capture after one of them sacrifices himself to kill a large posse of guards with his “throat-slitter” and Ludwig and his crew escape by car after wishing Gustave and Zero well. Gustave then teams up with Zero to prove his innocence.

Part 4 – The Society of the Crossed Keys

Gustave and Zero are pursued by J. G. Jopling, a cold-blooded assassin working for Dmitri, who chops off Kovacs’ fingers on his right hand and kills him when he refuses to work with Dmitri. Gustave calls upon Monsieur Ivan, a concierge and fellow member of the Society of the Crossed Keys, a fraternal order of concierges who attempt to assist other members. Through the help of Ivan, Gustave and Zero travel to a mountaintop monastery where they meet with Serge, the only person who can clear Gustave of the murder accusations, but Serge is strangled by a pursuing Jopling before he can reveal a piece of important information regarding a second will from Madame D. Zero and Gustave steal a sled and chase Jopling as he flees the monastery on skis. During a face-off at the edge of a cliff, Zero pushes the assassin to his death and rescues Gustave.

Part 5 – The Second Copy of the Second Will

Back at the Grand Budapest, the outbreak of war is imminent, and the military have commandeered the hotel and are in the process of converting it into a barracks. A heartbroken Gustave vows to never again pass the threshold. Agatha joins the two and agrees to find a way to go inside – by delivering pastries – and retrieve the painting. Unluckily Dmitri comes at the same moment and discovers her. A chase and a chaotic gunfight ensue before Zero and Agatha flee with the painting (which had been hidden, still wrapped up, in the hotel safe). Gustave’s innocence is finally proven by the discovery of the copy of Madame D’s second will, which was duplicated by Serge before it was destroyed, and which he subsequently hid in the back of the painting. This will was to take effect only if she was murdered. The identity of Madame D’s murderer and how Gustave is proved innocent are left ambiguous (though earlier in the film a suspicious bottle labeled “strychnine” can be seen on Jopling’s desk). The will also reveals that she was the owner of the Grand Budapest. She leaves much of her fortune, the hotel, and the painting to Gustave, making him wealthy in the process, and he becomes one of the hotel’s regular guests while appointing Zero as the new concierge. Zero and Agatha marry while Dimitri dissapears.

Epilogue

After the war, which it is implied Zubrowka lost, the country is annexed. During a train journey across the border, soldiers inspect Gustave’s and Zero’s papers. Zero describes Gustave being taken out and shot after defending Zero (whom the soldiers had attempted to arrest for his immigrant status), as he did on the initial train ride in the beginning of the movie. Agatha succumbs to “the Prussian Grippe” and dies two years later, as does her infant son. Zero inherits the fortune Gustave leaves behind and vows to continue his legacy at the Grand Budapest, but a subsequent Communist revolution in Zubrowka and the ravages of time slowly begin to take their toll on both the building and its owner as Zero is forced to “contribute” his entire inheritance to the government to keep the dying hotel in business. In a touch of irony, the painting Zero and Gustave fought so desperately to take now sits on a wall, forgotten and crooked.

Back in 1968, Mr. Moustafa confesses to the Author that the real reason that he cannot bring himself to close the hotel has nothing to do with his loyalty to Gustave, or as a connection to “his world,” but because it is his last remaining link to his beloved Agatha and the best years of his life. He theorizes that Gustave’s world was gone long before he was ever in it, but he maintained the illusion quite well. Before departing to his room, Mr. Moustafa gives the Author a key to the “M. Gustave Suite” and readjusts the crooked painting. The Young Author later departs for South America and never returns to the hotel.

In 1985, the Author completes his memoirs beside his grandson.

Back in the present, the girl continues reading in front of the statue of the Author, a sign that Zero and Gustave’s story and that of the hotel will live on.

REVIEW:

In all of the Oscar talk this season, The Grand Budapest Hotel seems to have been lost in the shuffle. Granted, there is quite an array of really good films for the picking. So, the question is, why is this a contender at all, right?

What is this about?

Between the world wars, Gustave H, the concierge at a prestigious European hotel, takes a bellboy named Zero as a trusted protégé. Meanwhile, the upscale guests are involved in an art theft and a dispute over a vast family fortune.

What did I like?

Tone. Since this is one of the films that was up for many awards this season, I expected it to be another of those super serious, depressing dramas that tend to be the norm. Much to my surprise, this was very light-hearted and fun. The tone was something akin to Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, where there is an obvious “heavy” story, but it is told as something more of a farce, for lack of a more appropriate term. The light tone really appealed to me and kept my interest, as I’m sure it has others who need a break from all these dark pictures we have these days.

Dark lord has humor. Even before he became known as Voldemort, from the Harry Potter films, I don’t think anyone would have accused Ralph Fiennes of being a comedic actor. He just doesn’t have the look, but he is capable of pulling off some comedy. I always enjoy the shock of seeing someone not associated with a certain type of acting pull it off so well. Now, I’m not saying Fiennes needs to go star in an Adam Sandler/Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart type film, but he does have some comedic chops, and I just want to give him props for that.

Structure. I really was able to appreciate that this film was set up with chapters. Everything from the way F. Murray Abraham (isn’t this guy like 1,000 by now?) set up the story to the interesting ways in which the chapter titles were shown to the seamless transitions was masterfully done.

What didn’t I like?

Hotel. For a film that has the hotel name as the title, we sure see very little of it. Yes, there a quite a few scenes that take place in this majestic living space, but the “meat and potatoes” of the picture are set elsewhere. I don’t know, I guess I just would have preferred for everything to be more centralized, much like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (which I initially thought this was a sequel to…HAHA!)

Nazi clones. It is obvious that this is a picture set during the war, so I have to wonder why not use actual Nazis? Is that product placement now? Or does this take place in some alternate universe where a group of people who are the same organization, just with a slightly different insignia, bring about war, death, and worse. There was something else I watched recently that did the same thing, so I really am curious if there was some odd edict from the motion picture association banning the use of Nazis.

Gustave’s end. I wasn’t satisfied with Gustave’s end. Well, I take that back. It was the face that we didn’t get to see it happen and it was just told, as if rushing through the final stanza. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the way he meets his end seems like the stuff of legend, and a fitting end considering what he was doing and who he was doing it for. Why not show that? I just don’t understand!!!

Final thoughts on The Grand Budapest Motel? Two things. First, it is obvious this is one of the best films of the year. Great script, acting, cinematography…everything. However, in comparison to the other contenders is does come off as a weaker entry, an underdog, if you will. The cast is great, even with some big names playing such cameo-esque roles. Do I recommend this? Yes. Yes, I do!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on April 10, 2015 by Mystery Man

 

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Poultrygeist follows a group of consumers and ordinary citizens who are trapped inside a New Jersey fried chicken fast food restaurant – the American Chicken Bunker – which is being attacked by chicken-possessed zombie demons because the building is erected on top of a sacred Indian burial ground. The protagonist is Arbie (Jason Yachanin), an ACB employee trying to win back the heart of his ex-girlfriend Wendy (Kate Graham), an activist protesting against the restaurant, who has left Arbie for another woman.

High school sweethearts Arbie and Wendy meet the day before Wendy’s departure to college to consummate their relationship in the Tromahawk Indian burial ground, promising to each other that no matter what happens, they will always stay faithful to each other. She is grossed out after finding a man jacking off to their lovemaking, but is later killed by zombie hands spouting from the ground. One college semester later, when Arbie returns to the spot of his one and only sexual encounter, he is shocked to discover two unsettling realities: not only has the burial ground been bulldozed and replaced by an American Chicken Bunker, a mega-conglomerate fast food franchise, but college has turned his dear Wendy into a “leftist, lipstick lesbo liberal”, protesting the construction of the fried chicken menace with her activist girlfriend Micki (Allyson Sereboff).

Disillusioned and out for revenge, Arbie decides to get a job at the American Chicken Bunker. Under the supervision of paranoid manager Denny, Arbie is thrust into the monotony of minimum wage with a variety of colorful co-workers: the effeminate Mexican Paco Bell (Khalid Rivera), the animal-loving redneck Carl Jr. (Caleb Emerson), the burqa-clad Muslim Hummus (Rose Ghavami) and a mysterious 60-year-old man in the restaurant’s basement who has worked as the restaurant’s costumed mascot all his life and has a virtually identical similar background to Arbie.

However, strange things are afoot at the American Chicken Bunker. While grinding meat, Paco is pushed into the meat grinder by an uncooked chicken. General Lee Roy decides not to do anything, and lets Paco get turned into sloppy jose. Arbie begins to unravel a sinister plot involving the spirits of disenfranchised Native Americans and the billions of slaughtered chickens sent to the “concentration coops” who plan on exacting their revenge in the most gruesome ways possible, after being told so by Paco (who is reanimated as a sloppy jose). Carl. Jr, who is having intercourse with an uncooked chicken in the storage room, fights the uncooked chicken when it starts biting his penis. Hummus manages to kill the uncooked chicken by shoving a broom up Carl’s backside, though it tears off his penis. General Lee Roy tells them not to take him to a hospital. He instead tells them to give chicken (which has been sprayed with blood and green ichor) to the protester outside. Carl Jr. is killed when Arbie gives him alcohol to drink. After Mickie tells the protesters that the chicken tastes good, the protesters go inside the restaurant to eat chicken. Wendy finds out that Mickie has been paid by General Lee Roy to say that the chicken tastes good she breaks up with Mickie and returns to Arbie. General Lee Roy gets diarrhea after eating a forced-upon piece of chicken. General Lee Roy lays an egg in the bathroom and is attacked by the chicken that hatches from the egg. He rips off the chickens head with his teeth and is sprayed with green blood. He becomes a giant egg and hatches into a chicken zombie. He then decapitates Denny (who is telling a story about the first time he encountered a chicken).

The customers, workers, and protesters then all turn into zombie chickens. The mascot (Lloyd Kaufman) shoots all the chicken zombies inside with an M-16 machine gun. The General Lee Roy zombie returns, but is shot down by the mascot. As the old man approaches towards the General, he gets his nose ripped off by a now zombie chicken Denny. Arbie then shots and kills Denny. Wendy turns the open/closed sign to ‘closed’, which keeps the chicken zombies at bay. The mascot, who is still, alive tells Arbie that he is his future self. He then turns into a chicken zombie. Mickie, who attempts to escape, is turned into a zombie chicken. She and the Mascot chicken zombie chase after Arbie and Wendy. Hummus drinks meat steroid in an attempt to save them, and accidentally kills herself in the process. Arbie and Wendy realize that beer kills the chicken zombies, and which also then kills the Mickie and mascot zombie. They run out of beer and are saved by Humms (who is still alive, despite having exploded a few minutes earlier). They find a child hiding in the storage room and are attacked once again by the General Lee Roy chicken. It is then killed by Paco sandwich. Hummus is then shown to have C-4 strapped to her body and tells them that she will sacrifice herself. Wendy, Arbie and the little girl escape as the building explodes. While being driven home in a car, the child experiences stomach cramps and eventually starts clucking like a chicken. There, she lays an egg, frightening her, Arbie and Wendy, which causes them to lose control and crash, resulting in the car back-flipping before landing on the ground and exploding, thus killing all inside.

In a post-credits scene, the zombified chickens are then shown dancing as a reprise of the Poultrygeist theme song plays in the background

REVIEW:

Let’s see…it’s Friday, storming, and I need to find something to cheer me up from my ruined day yesterday (long story). I believe this calls for something so horrible that it might actually be good. Could Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead be the answer? I guess we’re about to find out!

What is this about?

What happens when a fast-food chicken franchise is built on a sacred Native American burial site rife with restless spirits? Zombie chickens!

What did I like?

Over the top. If Troma films have come to be known for anything it is that they don’t hold back with anything. Keeping with the studio’s tradition, there is plenty of over the top violence, gore, cheesy jokes and just about any and everything that other films do everything they can to hold back on because…reasons.

Fast food. Someone over there at Troma must have gotten some really bad service one day from a fast food joint. I say this because in almost all of their films, at least the ones that I’ve seen, there is a scene involving death by fast food preparation. While this sounds like a complaint, I actually found it to be quite creative. I wonder why no one else kills anyone using fast food restaurants.

Nerd rule. Today, it seems as if us geeks and nerds have taken over the world. This may be true, I still don’t see many nerds as leading men, do you? Aside from shows like The Big Bang Theory and the like, leading men are still the jocks and pretty boys. This is why it warms my heart to see a nerd as the main protagonist in this film. Not only that, but he doesn’t change who he is throughout the film to become a “better person” or to win the girl. Kudos to this screenwriter for keeping things the way they should be.

What didn’t I like?

Potty go down the hole. Remember Jared from Subway? Yeah, well, he’s not in this picture. There is a character who is meant to be a parody of him, though. That’s not the bad part, though. This same character gets his food and immediately has a potty emergency. Still not the worst part, though. As he is having him time on the throne, he is still eating (which is gross to watch, I might add). Wait, there is more! Every now and then, the camera will switch to a toilet view. Need I say more? For this type of film, potty humor is well and good, but good gravy, some things just should not be seen!

Yessir, massa, sir! I believe there was a time when KFC was under scrutiny for the use of a southern “gentlemen” as their mascot. As per the norm whenever a chicken place is featured in a film, the colonel is replaced with a general. Remember Billy Dee Williams in Undercover Brother? Well, this general seems to have an effect on the one person of African-American descent in this town, because when he comes around, Dennis suddenly talks like he just came from picking cotton in the fields all day. Why is this? I don’t know, but I have my suspicions.

Little ones. In my day, I’ve seen quite a few topless scenes. The thing is, these are most effective when the girls actually have something to show (and perhaps bounce). I don’t mean to get too crass here, but it has been proven that guys like bigger breasts. So, why is it that the filmmakers decided to get the most flat chested girls for this topless scene? There are a couple of exception, mind you. I just can’t wrap my head around it!

Final verdict on Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead? Well, it is obvious this was made by people who knew what they were doing. There is care taken in making sure the jokes actually are placed strategically, the zombie part of the film doesn’t arrive too quickly, and certain characters are developed. That being said, this is not a good film, even by Troma standards. I think it is best if you deny it even exists. Believe me, is it for the best!

2 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 4/9

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags , on April 9, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, so all this month’s trailer will be jazz related.

This week, I have a couple of treats for you. First up, since Billie Holiday’s birthday was earlier this week, why not have a gander at the film about her life, Lady Sings the Blues.

Second, a documentary that any jazz lover needs to see, as it is probably about the closest thing you’re going to get to a comprehensive account of all jazz. Check out this trailer for Ken Burns’ Jazz.

Edge of Tomorrow

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A race of aliens called Mimics has taken over continental Europe. General Brigham, head of humanity’s United Defense Force, orders Major William Cage, a public affairs officer and former advertising executive, to cover combat on the beaches of France during the next day’s assault on the Mimics. Cage objects to the dangerous assignment and threatens to use his public relations skills to turn the public against Brigham when the casualties start increasing from the invasion. General Brigham has Cage arrested; Cage is knocked out during an ensuing escape attempt. He wakes in handcuffs at a forward operating base at Heathrow Airport and discovers he has been labeled a deserter and put on combat duty for the invasion under the command of Master Sergeant Farell.

The invasion is a disaster for the humans. Cage manages to kill a large Mimic but dies as he is sprayed with its acid-like blood. He then wakes up at Heathrow the previous morning. No one believes his story that he knows the invasion will fail. He repeats the loop of dying on the beach and waking at Heathrow until he encounters Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). She recognizes his ability to anticipate events and tells him to locate her the next time he “wakes up”.

Together, Cage and Vrataski meet up with Dr. Carter, a former government scientist and expert in Mimic biology. Cage learns that the kind of Mimic he killed in his first loop, an “Alpha”, resets time when it is killed to give the Mimics an advantage in battle. Cage inherited this ability when he was doused in the Alpha’s blood as they both died. Vrataski had gained this ability in a recent battle but lost it after receiving a blood transfusion. She tells Cage that they must hunt the Mimics’ hive mind, the Omega.

Over innumerable successive time loops, Vrataski molds Cage into a far more effective soldier. Frustrated by his continued failures, though, he retreats to a London pub, only to discover the Mimics will overrun the city after their invasion on the beach. He and Vrataski then spend several loops learning how to survive the battle on the beach and get inland based on his vision of the Omega hiding within a Bavarian Alps dam. After numerous loops end in Vrataski’s death, Cage decides to hunt the Omega alone, abandoning her and the rest of the invasion to doom on the beach. When he arrives at the dam, he discovers that the Omega is not there. He manages to kill himself before an Alpha can steal his blood and prevent him from resetting the day. Back at Heathrow, he tells Vrataski and Carter that his vision was a trick.

Cage and Vrataski adopt a new approach: they infiltrate the Ministry of Defence in search of a prototype built by Carter that will allow Cage to discover the Omega’s true location. After several failed loops they obtain the device, which reveals that the Omega is located under the Louvre Pyramid in Paris. They are injured as they flee; Cage is saved by a blood transfusion, but it removes his ability to reset the day.

Vrataski frees Cage and they return to Heathrow, where they convince his squad to help destroy the Omega. The other squad members sacrifice themselves to get Cage and Vrataski beneath the Louvre. Vrataski distracts a waiting Alpha while Cage advances on the Omega. The Alpha kills Vrataski and mortally wounds Cage, but not before Cage primes and drops a grenade belt into the Omega’s core, destroying it, which neutralizes all other Mimics.

Cage’s dying body floats down into a rising cloud of the Omega’s blood. Regaining the power to reset himself, Cage wakes up en route to his meeting with Brigham the day before. Brigham announces that Mimic activity has ceased following a power surge in Paris. With the events leading to his arrest never happening, Cage travels to Heathrow on his own, retaining his original officer rank. None of his former squad mates recognize him. He finds Vrataski, who greets him with the same initial rudeness as previous loops, causing Cage to smile.

REVIEW:

Tom Cruise is back and this time he has a mech suit! That’s right, people, the insane scientologist dares to make use believe he is still a bona fide action star. Following his string of successful action flick, this is a perfect choice, right? Well, let’s see.

What is this about?

As Earth fights an alien invasion, Lt. Col. Bill Cage is killed in action, and a time loop forces him to continually relive his last day. With each iteration, Cage’s skill grows, as does his understanding of the enemy and how it operates.

What did I like?

Pacing. In most pictures like this, we get an action scene early on, then it is just uninteresting subplot, exposition, and forced love story to pad out the running time until the climactic 2nd action scene, which is shortly followed by the end credits. This director obviously took notes on that formula, because the pacing in this film is very fast paced. Just as it starts to slow down… *BAM!* We are back in the thick of things. For someone who has to be in the mood for slow paced films, this has to be a plus!

Blunt object. Emily Blunt gives me strange feelings. That sounded weird, I better explain. No doubt she’s a great actress and, while not bad looking (looks like she got ripped for this role), there is something about that vacant stare of hers that puts me off. That being said, she kicks ass in this film, and she’s not even in the film that much!

Groundhog. Everyone has seen, or at least knows about the movie Groundhog Day. In some respects, this film is very similar in that the main character keeps repeating the same day over and over again, just under different circumstances. It is nice to see a new spin on this tired cliché, I must say.

What didn’t I like?

Creatures. Normally, I’m all for seeing creatures in sci-fi films. It fascinates me to see the magic and madness that can come from someone’s mind. With that said, I don’t see the originality. The “Mimics” as they are called are very similar to the creatures in The Matrix: Revolutions. Of all the films to rip off from, why that one?!? Surely, there had to be something better that could be used as an evil creature in this film, right?

Mech. I have never really been a fan of mech suits. In concept and animation they work just fine, but when it comes to execution, the things are just slow and clunky. Basically, you’re sacrificing speed and agility for firepower. Is it worth it? Only for some, but does you entire fighting force need them? No!

Training Day. I’m not sure how many times we were going to have see Tom Cruise go through that training montage. Wasn’t once or twice enough? I just didn’t get the need to keep showing the same thing over and over again. The whole point of him going back was to learn and change things the next time. It was just frustrating that they went the lazy route of cut and paste, I suppose.

Final verdict on Edge of Tomorrow? It’s a big budget, sci-fi action flick that plays it safe. It doesn’t try to give the audience too many subplots, nor does it insult our intelligence. The creatures, which are obviously CG, have an almost practical effect to them. No love story is forced down our throats. As a matter of fact, it is barely hinted, save for a couple of places. So, do I recommend this flick? Eh, it isn’t great, but you could do a whole lot worse. Give it a go, I suppose!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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