Raiders of the Lost Ark

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1936, archaeologist Indiana Jones braves an ancient booby-trapped temple in Peru and retrieves a golden idol. He is confronted by rival archaeologist René Belloq and the indigenous Hovito people. Surrounded and outnumbered, Jones surrenders the idol to Belloq and escapes aboard a waiting floatplane.

Jones returns to his teaching position at Marshall College, where he is interviewed by two Army Intelligence agents. They inform him that the Nazis, who are obsessed with the occult, are searching for his old mentor, Abner Ravenwood. The Nazis know that Ravenwood is the leading expert on the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis in the Kingdom of Egypt, and that he possesses the headpiece of the Staff of Ra. Jones deduces that the Nazis are searching for the location of the Ark of the Covenant; the Nazis believe that if they acquire the Ark their armies will become invincible. The Staff of Ra is the key to finding the Well of Souls, a secret chamber in which the Ark is buried.

The agents authorize Jones to recover the Ark to prevent the Nazis from obtaining it. He travels to the Kingdom of Nepal and discovers that Abner has died, and the headpiece is in the possession of Ravenwood’s daughter Marion. Jones visits Marion at her tavern, where she reveals her bitter feelings toward him from a previous romantic affair. She rebuffs his offer to buy the headpiece, and Jones leaves. Shortly after, a group of thugs arrive with their Nazi commander, Arnold Toht. Toht threatens Marion to get the headpiece, but when Jones returns to the bar to fight the Nazis and save Marion, her bar is accidentally set on fire; and during the fight, the headpiece ends up in the fire. Toht severely burns his hand trying to take the hot headpiece, and flees the tavern screaming. Jones and Marion escape with the headpiece, and Marion decides to accompany Jones in his search for the Ark so he can repay his debt to her.

The pair travels to Cairo, where they meet up with Jones’s friend Sallah, a skilled excavator. Sallah informs them that Belloq and the Nazis are digging for the Well of Souls with a replica of the headpiece, created from the scar on Toht’s hand. They quickly realize the Nazi headpiece is incomplete and that the Nazis are digging in the wrong place. The Nazis kidnap Marion and it appears to Jones that she is killed in an exploding truck. After a confrontation with Belloq in a local bar, Jones and Sallah infiltrate the Nazi dig site and use their staff to correctly locate the Ark. Jones, Sallah, and a small group of diggers unearth the Well of Souls and Jones is forced to face his fear of snakes to acquire the Ark. Belloq and Nazi officer Colonel Dietrich arrive, seize the Ark from Jones, throwing Marion into the Well of Souls with him before sealing it back up. Jones and Marion escape to a local airstrip, where Jones has a fistfight with a Nazi mechanic before blowing up a flying wing. The panicked Nazis remove the Ark in a truck and set off for Cairo, but Jones catches them and retakes it. He makes arrangements to take the Ark to London aboard a tramp steamer.

The next day, a Nazi U-boat appears and intercepts the ship. Belloq and Dietrich seize the Ark and Marion but cannot locate Jones, who stows away aboard the U-boat and travels with them to an island in the Aegean Sea. Once there, Belloq plans to test the power of the Ark before presenting it to Hitler. Jones reveals himself and threatens to destroy the Ark with a panzerfaust, but Belloq calls the bluff and Jones surrenders rather than destroy such an important historical artifact. The Nazis take Jones and Marion to an area where the Ark will be opened and tie them to a post to observe. Belloq performs a ceremonial opening of the Ark, which appears to contain nothing but sand. Suddenly, angelic and beautiful, ghost-like beings emerge from the Ark and float around the assembly. Jones cautions Marion to keep her eyes tightly closed, and not to observe what happens next. Belloq and the others look on in astonishment as the apparitions are suddenly revealed to be angels of death. A vortex of flame forms above the opened Ark and energy surges out into the gathered Nazi soldiers, killing them all. As Belloq, Toht and Dietrich all scream in terror, the Ark turns its fury on them: Dietrich’s head shrivels up, Toht’s face is melted off his skull and Belloq’s head explodes. Flames then engulf the remains of the doomed assembly, save for Jones and Marion. The Ark’s lid is blasted high into the air before dropping back down onto the Ark and sealing it. Jones and Marion find their ropes burned off and embrace.

In Washington, D.C., the Army Intelligence agents inform Jones and Marcus Brody that the Ark is someplace safe and will be studied by “top men”. The Ark is shown being permanently stored in a giant government warehouse among countless similar crates.

REVIEW:

Action films in the 80s were all about explosions, excitement, and machismo. Indiana Jones, while obviously a bit more cerebral than his counterparts, was no exception. In this day and age where we get a reboot or remake of everything that we hold near and dear to our hearts, I felt it was time to weigh in with my thoughts on Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

What is this about?

When Dr. Indiana Jones — the tweed-suited professor who just happens to be a celebrated archaeologist and adventurer — is hired by the government to locate the legendary Ark of the Covenant, he finds himself up against the entire Nazi regime.

What did I like?

Everyman. Sometimes a hero just needs to be a someone just doing their job. In the case of Indiana Jones, that is especially true. Why do I say this? Well, as an archaeologist, he is tasked with obtaining historical artifacts and such. This is sure to come with some dangerous territory, make enemies, etc. As he is our protagonist, I don’t think he is just going to let people associated with him, be they tour guides, female companion, or what-have-you lose their life on his watch.

Action. I was sitting back and watching this film and I was really taken back watching the action. Harrison Ford in his prime whipping his whip around, jumping  around these Nazi trucks, and more (yes, I know it was mostly his stunt double) was a real joy to behold. Action movies these days are all CG and explosions. This was some real stunt work that harkens back to the day of Errol Flynn.

Back in the day. It is no secret that I prefer WWII era settings. What is surprising is that, as many times as I have seen this film, I never really put it together that this was set in the 40s. I know, I know…kind of hard to imagine when the Nazis are the antagonists, the cars are not even close to being modern, and the style of dress gives it away. If you go strictly by the parts in the Middle East, though, it isn’t as obvious. At least, that is my half-hearted defense for why I didn’t notice it before.

What didn’t I like?

Off days. This has always bothered me. Indiana Jones is a professor of archaeology, meaning he has an obligation to teach classes of students. What happens to these classes when he’s off globetrotting? For instance, this trip to obtain the Ark of the Covenant was not a weekend excursion, obviously. I would say he was gone for at least a couple of weeks! Did his students just have assignments to do during that time? Was there a sub?

Wooden crate. The Ark is placed in a wooden crate and locked away at film’s end. Sounds like a good thing to do right? I would agree with you, except earlier in the film it was in a wooden crate and somehow managed to burn a hole through that, so who’s to say it won’t do the same this time around?

Snakes. We all have that one thing that scares the living bejesus out of us, be it flying, heights, rats, spiders, needles, or in Indiana Jones’ case, snakes. Wait, this is a guy that goes around to ancient abandoned temples and such, which are all surely loaded with snakes, and this is the thing he’s scared of? I’ve always found that to be perplexing or ironic. Big bad archaeologist scared of the thing that he is sure to run into everywhere he goes.

Final verdict on Raiders of the Lost Ark? This is one of the tent pole films of my childhood. I grew up in the 80s and films like this were my bread and butter. Every franchise has to start somewhere and when you look back at the Indiana Jones franchise (even though Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull is universally reviled), it is real easy to see that this is a great starting place for bigger and better things that were sure to come. If you’re looking for a film that has action, humor, romance, and dash of 80s special effects, then I highly recommend this.

5 out of 5 stars

Demise of the ritual

Posted in Uncategorized on January 16, 2016 by Mystery Man

Greetings dear readers!

I’m sure you may have noticed that in these early days of the New Year, I haven’t really posted much. Actually, this goes back to the busy fall I endured.

Well, after some deep thought, I have come to the conclusion that I just need to scale back with this site, especially given the fact that there are only a handful of you that pay any attention to what goes on with this lil ol’ blog of mine.

This is not a shutdown, though. I will still review new films that I get to see, Trailer Thursday will resume next month, and while every film I watch may not get a review, I will at least post it. For instance, if I watch Amityville Horror, but don’t want to review it, then I’ll post that I’ve watched it, but there won’t be a review at the bottom.

Lastly, I was not planning on having a 2015 awards post, opting instead to just post some of the highlights of the year, but I can change that, if anyone wants it.

Well, that’s all I have! Thanks for being such a great fanbase! Again, I’m not leaving you guys, just scaling back a little. Stay tuned as I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m ready to get back to regular posting!

To Kill a Mockingbird

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film’s young protagonists, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch (Mary Badham) and her brother Jeremy Atticus “Jem” Finch (Phillip Alford), live in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the 1930s. The story covers three years, during which Scout and Jem undergo changes in their lives. They begin as innocent children, who spend their days happily playing games with each other and spying on Arthur “Boo” Radley (Robert Duvall), who has not been seen for many years by anybody as a result of never leaving his house and about whom many rumors circulate. Their widowed father, Atticus (Gregory Peck), is a town lawyer and has a strong belief that all people are to be treated fairly, to turn the other cheek, and to stand for what you believe. He also allows his children to call him by his first name. Early in the film, the children see their father accept hickory nuts, and other produce, from Mr. Cunningham (Crahan Denton) for legal work because the client has no money. Through their father’s work as a lawyer, Scout and Jem begin to learn of the racism and evil in their town, aggravated by poverty; they mature quickly as they are exposed to it.

The local judge (Paul Fix) appoints Atticus to defend a black man, Tom Robinson (Brock Peters), against an accusation of rape of a white teenaged girl, Mayella Ewell. Atticus accepts the case. Jem and Scout experience schoolyard taunts for their father’s decision. Later, a lynch mob, led by Mr. Cunningham, tries to lynch Robinson over Atticus’ objections. Scout, Jem and their friend, Dill, interrupt the confrontation. Scout, unaware of the mob’s purpose, recognizes Cunningham as the man who paid her father in hickory nuts and tells him to say hello to his son, who is her schoolmate. Cunningham becomes embarrassed and the mob disperses.

At the trial, it is undisputed that Tom came to Mayella’s home at her request to assist with the chopping up of a chifforobe, and that Mayella showed signs of having been beaten around that time. Among Atticus’ chief arguments, he points out that Tom is crippled in his left arm, and that the supposed rapist would have had to make extensive use of his left hand in assaulting Mayella before raping her. At the same time Atticus demonstrates that Mayella’s father, Bob Ewell, is left handed, implying that he – rather than Tom – was the one who beat Mayella. Atticus also states that the girl had not even been examined by a doctor to check for signs of rape after the supposed assault. In his closing argument Atticus asks the all white, male jury to cast aside their prejudices and instead focus on Tom’s obvious innocence. In taking the stand in his own defense, Tom denies he attacked Mayella, but states she kissed him. He testifies he voluntarily assisted Mayella because “I felt sorry for her because . . . “. He didn’t finish the sentence but the prosecutor hammered home the point that he was a black man feeling sorry for a white woman. In a town where whites are viewed as superior to blacks, Tom’s sympathy for Mayella dooms his case, and he’s found guilty.

Atticus arrives home to discover from the sheriff (Frank Overton) that Tom has been killed by a deputy during his transfer to prison. The sheriff states that according to this deputy, Tom was trying to escape. The deputy reported that Tom ran like a “crazy” man before he was shot. Atticus and Jem go to the Robinson family home to advise them of Tom’s death. Bob Ewell, Mayella’s father, appears and spits in Atticus’ face while Jem waits in the car. Atticus wipes his face and leaves.

Autumn arrives and Scout and Jem attend a nighttime Halloween pageant at their school. Scout wears a large hard-shelled ham costume, portraying one of Maycomb county’s products. At some point during the pageant, Scout’s dress and shoes are misplaced. She’s forced to walk home without shoes and wearing her ham costume. While cutting through the woods, Scout and Jem are attacked by an unidentified man who has been following them. Scout’s costume, like an awkward suit of armor, protects her from the attack but restricts her movement and severely restricts her vision. Their attacker is thwarted and overcome by another unidentified man. Jem is knocked unconscious and Scout escapes unharmed in a brief but violent struggle. Scout escapes her costume in time to see a man carrying Jem to their home and entering. Scout follows and once inside runs into the arms of a concerned Atticus. Doc Reynolds comes over and treats the broken arm of an unconscious Jem.

When Sheriff Tate asks Scout what happened, she notices a man standing silently behind the bedroom door in the corner of Jem’s room. Atticus introduces Scout to Mr Arthur Radley; he is the person who came to their aid against Ewell in the woods. Boo is also the man who carried Jem home. The sheriff reports Bob Ewell was discovered dead at the scene of the attack with a knife in his ribs. Atticus assumes Jem killed Ewell in self-defense. Sheriff Tate, however, believes that Boo killed Ewell in defense of the children and tells Atticus that to drag the shy and reserved Boo into the spotlight for his heroism would be “a sin.” To protect Boo, Sheriff Tate suggests that Ewell “fell on his knife.” Scout draws a startlingly precocious analogy to an earlier lesson from the film (hence its title) when she likens any public outing of Boo to the killing of a mockingbird. The film ends with Scout considering events from Boo’s point of view, and Atticus watching over the unconscious Jem.

REVIEW:

This morning, I was talking to someone about classic films and To Kill a Mockingbird came up. Both of us realized it had been quite some since we last watched. Speaking for myself, and I’m sure many of you, it was way back in high school after we had to read the book for class. I wonder how my opinion has changed in these years since, especially with the current political and racial climate.

What is this about?

Southern comforts abound in this big-screen adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel as lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, in an Oscar-winning role) defends an innocent black man (Brock Peters) against rape charges but ends up in a maelstrom of hate and prejudice. Meanwhile, with help from a friend (John Megna), Finch’s children, Jem (Phillip Alford) and Scout (Mary Badham), set their sights on making contact with a reclusive neighbor (Robert Duvall).

What did I like?

Just a Peck. I am not inherently familiar with Gregory Peck’s body of work. Before this, I had only seen him in How the West was Won and Roman Holiday, hardly enough to judge the man’s career. Watching him command the screen when he would show up, though, was enough to see why he was and still is such a respected actor. The highlight, though, was his brilliant recital of his lines in the courtroom. That speech is a very powerful moment in the book and Peck brought every bit of emotion he could to the forefont as he delivered a powerful defense that left the courtroom silent.

Respect. As we all know, when books are made into movies, many things are added, subtracted, and changed. I am glad, though, that the scene where all the African-Americans, who were forced to sit in the balcony area because of the time period, stood up as a sign of respect as Atticus Finch was leaving. It shows that, while this was a very hard time in race relations, they respect any who try to help. I doubt that if the color tables were turned, that would have been the case, sadly.

Chifforobe. When I was growing up and would make the summer trip to visit my grandmother, she would always yell to go get her purse out of the chifforobe. To this day, the only place I hear the word chifforboe is in the backwoods of Mississippi and the one episode of Family Guy where Brian tries is dating this older woman. The only reason I even know what thing is was this movie. Watching today made me remember that, but I’m sure I’ll forget in about an hour or so.

What didn’t I like?

Today’s evidence. This has always bothered me, even when I read it in the book. All the evidence leads to Tom being innocent, but because of Mayellen Ewell having a breakdown in court and the race issue, Tom is convicted. Not even Atticus’ eloquent words were enough to save him. I’m sitting here thinking, this should not have been this way, and then I look at some of the high profile cases of the past few years, and they turn out the same way. How else is George Zimmerman free, for instance? I’m all for innocent until proven guilty, but you shouldn’t be guilty even if you’re proven innocent!

Boo who? The subplot involving Boo Radley, from what I remember, was much more of a factor in the book. Here it is mentioned and forgotten until the end. Personally, I think they could have spent less time showing Scout fighting and more time developing the Boo Radley angle, because as it is in the film, sort of just comes out of nowhere. The scenes where his dad is closing up that knothole in the tree doesn’t mean anything, either. Whoever it was that did the cutting for this film shouldn’t have cut so much out.

AFI voted Atticus Finch the #1 hero in film. This is over the likes of Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Tarzan, and even Superman! If you’ve never seen this picture, that may make no sense, but after you watch and see how Atticus defends a man who is surely destined for prison, no matter what he does, his family, and shows a great deal of respect and patience towards those less dignified and educated, you’ll see why he earned that spot. The film itself is a brilliant masterpiece that everyone should watch during their lifetime. I very highly recommend it!

5 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 12/31

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on December 31, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Well, it is New Year’s Eve, so this should be fitting (regardless of how mediocre the film was)

Please enjoy the trailer for New Year’s Eve

Have a Happy New Year!!!

The Aviator

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Houston, 1913, nine-year-old Howard Hughes is warned by his mother of the diseases to which she is afraid he will succumb. Fourteen years later, he begins to direct the movie Hell’s Angels. However, after the release of The Jazz Singer, the first partially talking film, Hughes becomes obsessed with shooting his film realistically, and decides to convert the movie to a sound film. Despite the film being a hit, Hughes remains unsatisfied with the end result and orders the film to be re-cut after its Hollywood premiere. He becomes romantically involved with actress Katharine Hepburn, who helps to ease the symptoms of his worsening obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

In 1935, Hughes test flies the H-1 Racer, pushing it to a new speed record, and three years later, breaks the world record by flying around the world in four days. He purchases majority interest in Transcontinental & Western Air, the predecessor to Trans World Airlines, aggravating company rival, Juan Trippe, chairman of the board for Pan American World Airways (Pan Am). Trippe gets his friend, Senator Owen Brewster, to introduce the Community Airline Bill, which would give Pan Am exclusivity on international air travel. As Hughes’ fame grows, he is linked to various starlets, provoking Hepburn’s jealousy, later causing them to break up following her announcement that she has fallen in love with fellow actor Spencer Tracy. Hughes quickly finds a new love interest with 15-year-old Faith Domergue, and later actress Ava Gardner.

Hughes secures a contract with the Army Air Forces for two projects: a spy aircraft and a troop transport unit. In 1946, with the “Spruce Goose” flying boat still in construction, Hughes finishes the XF-11 reconnaissance aircraft and takes it for a test flight. With one of the engines malfunctioning mid-flight, he crashes the aircraft in Beverly Hills, getting severely injured. With the end of WWII, the army cancels its order for the H-4 Hercules, although Hughes still continues the development with his own money. When he is discharged, he is told that he has to choose between funding the airlines or his ‘flying boat’, in which he then orders Dietrich to mortgage the TWA assets so he can continue the development.

Hughes grows increasingly paranoid, planting microphones and tapping Gardner’s phone lines to keep track of her. His home is searched by the FBI for incriminating evidence of war profiteering, provoking a powerful psychological trauma on Hughes, with the men searching his possessions and tracking dirt through his house. Privately, Brewster offers to drop the charges if Hughes will sell TWA to Trippe, an offer he rejects. With Hughes in a deep depression, Trippe has Brewster summon him for a Senate investigation, as they’re confident that he’ll not show up. Hughes has been shut away for nearly three months when Gardner visits him and personally grooms and dresses him in preparation for the hearing.

Hughes defends himself against Brewster’s charges and accuses Trippe of bribing the senator. Hughes concludes by announcing that he has committed to completing the H-4 aircraft, and that he will leave the country if he cannot get it to fly. He successfully test flies H-4 aircraft, and after the flight, talks to Dietrich and his engineer, Glenn Odekirk, about a new jetliner for TWA. The sight of men in germ-resistant suits causes Hughes to have a mental breakdown. As Odekirk hides him in a restroom while Dietrich fetches a doctor, Hughes begins to have flashbacks of his childhood, his obsession for aviation, and his ambition for success, while repeating the phrase, “the way of the future”.

REVIEW:

Growing up an Air Force brat, there are two things one is bound to do. That is move around a lot and foster a love and/or respect for airplanes. While I am scared of flying, I love airplanes, especially the old ones from the WWII era. Many of the innovations of those planes forward are the brainchild of one Howard Hughes, the subject of The Aviator. Does this biopic give us a look into the man or just another fabrication of events meant for our entertainment?

What is this about?

Leonardo DiCaprio portrays eccentric tycoon Howard Hughes, who turned a small fortune into a massive one by producing Hollywood classics such as Scarface. He simultaneously branched into and transformed industry after industry — including aviation.

What did I like?

Leonardo leads. Today, Leonardo DiCaprio is hailed as one of the best actors working today. He is constantly up for Oscar every year and turns out critically acclaimed performance year in and year out. As Howard Hughes, he did much the same, bringing to life the eccentric billionaire moviemaker and aviator to audiences that knew little to nothing about him. His shining moment, though had to have been when he is locked away in that room as a way to escape from everyone. It is a powerful scene that shows Leo’s talents and Hughes’ OCD in all their glory.

Classic Hollywood. What film set during this era about a Hollywood filmmaker would be complete without some of Hollywood’s brightest, such as Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Errol Flynn, and I think I saw Cary Grant on set. Obviously, these aren’t the real thing, but I give kudos to the filmmakers for finding those that respected these great thespians (I can use that term for these actors, because they actually studied their craft rather than spend their time posing for magazine covers). In some instances, I thought that perhaps I was looking at the real thing!

Hercules! Hercules! Howard Hughes may be best known for his giant airboat, the H-4 Hercules, better known as the “Spruce Goose”. Hard to believe that an aviation fan such as a myself has never seen this thing, but it is true. When I saw the parts driving down the road, I got a lump in my throat and was hoping that they would show the competed aircraft. Lo and behold they did, and it was splendiferous! Everything I had wished to see, short of viewing the real thing (which is in Oregon, btw). No matter what I think of the rest of this film, that construct was worth the 3 hrs I just spent watching this!

What didn’t I like?

Katharine or Tilda? Cate Blanchett plays Katharine Hepburn and I must say she pulls it off quite nicely. Her mannerisms, way of speaking and the generic look are all there. What I couldn’t get past, though, was how much Blanchett resembled a more feminine Tilda Swinton in this getup. I can’t speak for anyone else, but it was a major distraction for me. Realizing that she is the best actress for the job, I really shouldn’t complain, but I can’t leave that alone. Surely, they could have done something more with her, right?

Still a boy. In 2004, DiCaprio still had a bit a boyish look to him. When he was wearing a suit, he looked like he borrowed his dad or big brother’s so that he could go to the prom. If not for his stellar job at acting, I wonder how much of a career he would have had because his young look took away from his performance as Hughes. I can’t look at the face of a 17yr old and think he is the genius multibillionaire moviemaker and aviator. It just doesn’t work that way! I wonder if this is the problem Selena Gomez and her ilk, that look years younger than they actually seem to be, are running into.

Aftermath. The film ends a couple of years following the Senate Hearing. That isn’t a spoiler, just an idea of the timeline. What’s the big deal about that? Well, this is supposed to be a film about the life of Howard Hughes, yet we don’t get any of the stuff that happened after the film ends. The man lived until 1976, so there are at least 20 something years left to go through. At the very least, we could have had some reading material pop up on the screen right before the credits rolled, instead of the abrupt ending we were treated to.

In the end, The Aviator shows that DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese are magic together, capable of bringing out the best in each other and delivering a powerful, yet entertaining film about a historical figure not many people know much about, short of the tall tales. Truth be told, the most many know about Hughes is that he built the “Spruce Goose” and occasionally someone has played him in movies, such as The Rocketeer. With all the hub-bub this film seemed to put into The Outlaw rating, you would think they’d have cast someone as Jane Russell or spent some time making that film, but I guess not. Oh well! So, what did I ultimately think of the film? Is it worth watching? Yes, I very highly recommend it! Most of the complaints I have about this picture are personal issues. I will warn you, though. Get used to hearing Artie Shaw’s “Nightmare”.

5 out of 5 stars

The Man with the Iron Fists 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Thaddeus the blacksmith is on his way to the monks at Wu Chi Temple on a quest on inner peace when he is attacked by the brother of Silver Lion and his henchmen. Thaddeus manages to defeat them all but receives a near fatal wound from Silver Lion’s brother’s claw. He succumbs to his wounds and is seen drifting on a log down a river.

There is a narration about a spring of Chi, the Golden Nectar flowing from the mountains that were protected by monks and the Gemini Twins. Lord Pi raided the temple in an attempt to gain control of the Golden Nectar but was defeated. His ghost is rumored to roam the mountains, still looking for the Nectar and stealing chi from anyone he encounters.

Meanwhile, in Tsai Fu village, a man is burying his daughter and demands that the killer be found. He challenges the mayor and Master Ho, the silver mine owner. All the men proceed to the mine to work where Master Ho is shown to be an oppressive task master, frequently maiming and killing underperforming workers. Most of the village men seek to rebel but Li Kung talks them down. Another girl is killed but nothing is done.

Li Kung’s brother challenges Master Ho’s man, Duyan to a fight and wins. However, he is later found dead in the mines. Meanwhile, Li Kung’s daughter, Innocence finds Thaddeus floating in the river and tends him to health. His presence is hidden from the village and he is moved to the old blacksmith’s residence. Li Kung and his men find a hidden cave with a fountain which Kung drinks from. The cave is rich in silver but they hide the existence of the cave from Master Ho. Li Kung, infuriated by the death of his brother, challenges Master Ho’s clan to a fight. He asks Thaddeus to build weapons for the village but Thaddeus claims he is on a path of peace. He promises to forge better mining tools but whatever the tools are used for are not Thaddeus responsibility.

Li Kung defeats two of Master Ho’s men and Kung is threatened with the safety of his family. He replies by challenging Master Ho himself. However, on the way to the fight, a masked man cuts Kung badly. He proceeds with the fight in spite of his injuries and Master Ho aims punches to open the wound. As Ho is about to defeat Kung, Thaddeus arrives and saves his life. They are recaptured and sentenced to hanging the next morning. That night, his fellow miners, aided by the bow wielding Mayor, rescue them. Thaddeus chooses to build the crippled Mayor Iron legs, like his iron fists so he can join in the rebellion.

Li Kung reveals to the abbot of temple of the Golden Nectar that Master Ho wants to mine under the well and steal it. The abbot reveals that they did not kill Lord Pi because he was of royal blood but they ensured that he would never be able to steal the Nectar again. The monks join forces with the villagers against Master Ho and the Black Beetles to protect the source of the Golden Nectar.

The battle begins in the morning where the Mayor is revealed to be Lord Pi. His legs were cut off so he would not be able to try for the nectar again. After drinking from the spring, he steals the chi out of Innocence and kills her. After defeating the abbot, Li Kung fights him and together with Thaddeus, defeat Lord Pi. Kung bathes his daughter in the river and she is resuscitated. Thaddeus continues on his journey while the village rebuilt. Kung became Mayor and the villagers protect the source of chi.

REVIEW:

Have you ever wondered why certain films get sequels? What about the ones that are direct-to-DVD? I know that I have, and with the release of The Man with the Iron Fists 2, that curiosity is still there. What does that mean as far as my opinion on this flick? Well, just read on and see.

What is this about?

On the hunt for a fabled treasure of gold, a band of warriors, assassins, and a rogue British soldier descend upon a village in feudal China, where a humble blacksmith looks to defend himself and his fellow villagers.

What did I like?

Continuity. The Man with the Iron Fists introduced us to some very…interesting lore, characters, etc. How does one follow that up? Well, keep the timeline flowing when you make a sequel would be a good start. As far as a I can tell, that is what the filmmakers have done. In an opening scene, they even mention how RZA’s character is responsible for the death of Silver Lion, one of the antagonists from the previous film.

V.I.P. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the work of Dustin Nguyen. For me, I remember him from his days on Pam Anderson’s cheesy syndicated crime show, V.I.P. Don’t judge me, the women on the show were beautiful, especially in the eyes of a horny college kid! Anyway, Nguyen is very good in the role as the leader of a tribe of people whom he is sworn to protect, including his family. He is so good that it makes you wonder why he never became a bigger star, or how did the RZA find him, depending on which way you look at things.

What didn’t I like?

Violence. The first film was super stylized and hyper violent. This one, not so much. There are a couple of deaths that are befitting the “franchise”, if we can call it that, but nothing to get too excited about considering its predecessor. I know that this doesn’t have the same budget, but surely they could have given us some more blood, exploding bodies, etc. Instead, we are privy to a bad imitation of those kung fu movies from the late 70s, just without the subtitles not lining up with the actors mouths.

RZA. I applaud RZA for having the gumption to bring a passion project to life, and then he kept it going with this sequel. My problem is that he doesn’t seem to get that he isn’t that great of an actor. Well, maybe he does since he isn’t in this one as much, but he still is around a bit more than he needs to be. Until he either gets some acting classes, or casts someone else in this role, this films are never going to be worth a damn.

Characters. What made people like the first film so much was the enjoyable and memorable characters. In this, the closest that we have to them is Lord Pi, and even he is reduced to a mortal coil when it feels like he should have so much more power! I wonder why the filmmakers did this? Did they read reviews about the least film that said people liked the colorful characters, so they took them out? That is what it seemed like to me!

Let me not beat around the bush. The Man with the Iron Fists 2 is one of those sequels that should not have been made. I can see this story working in another franchise, but it doesn’t fit with what we saw (and enjoyed) from the first film. Everything that was good about the theatrical release must have cost too much for this direct-to-DVD sequel, because it is a pathetic attempt at entertainment. Do I recommend this? No, if you come across this run the other way! That is your best option!

2 out of 5 stars

50 First Dates

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on December 26, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Henry Roth is a veterinarian at Sea Life Park on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, who has a reputation of womanizing female tourists and shows no interest in committing to a serious relationship. Henry’s closest friends are Ula, a marijuana-smoking Islander; his assistant Alexa, whose sexuality is unclear; Willy, his pet African penguin and Jocko, a walrus.

One day Henry’s boat breaks down while he is sailing around Oahu. He goes to the Hukilau Café to wait for the Coast Guard. There he sees a young woman named Lucy Whitmore, who makes architectural art with her waffles. Henry assumes she is a local, which prevents him from introducing himself, but the next day he comes back. Lucy and he hit it off instantly and she asks him to meet her again tomorrow morning.

When Henry goes back to the café, Lucy shows no recollection of ever meeting him. The restaurant owner Sue (Amy Hill) explains to Henry that one year ago, Lucy and her father Marlin went up to the North Shore to pick a pineapple for his birthday. On the way back, they had a serious car accident that left Lucy with anterograde amnesia and she wakes up every morning thinking it is October 13 of last year. To save her the heartbreak of reliving the accident every day, Marlin and Doug, Lucy’s lisping steroid-addicted brother, re-enact Marlin’s birthday by following a script, including putting out October 13’s Sunday newspaper, re-watching the same Vikings game, and refilling Lucy’s shampoo bottles.

Despite Sue’s warning, Henry invites Lucy to have breakfast with him. Eventually he does, but it ends poorly when Henry unintentionally hurts Lucy’s feelings. He follows her home to apologize where Marlin and Doug instruct Henry to leave Lucy alone. Henry begins concocting ways to run into Lucy through the following days such as pretending to have car trouble, creating a fake road block, or by having Ula beat him up. Eventually, Marlin and Doug figure this out due to Lucy singing The Beach Boys “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” on the days when she meets Henry.

One day, as Henry is about to sit with Lucy at breakfast, she notices a police officer writing her a ticket for her expired plates. Lucy attempts to argue that they are not yet expired, and takes a newspaper to prove herself, but sees that the date on all the newspapers is not October as she thought, and Marlin and Doug are forced to admit their ruse when she confronts them.

Henry comes up with an idea to make a video explaining to Lucy her accident and their relationship and play it every morning for her. She watches the tape and is hurt, but eventually comes to her senses and is able to spend the day by picking up where the tape says she left off. She spends more time with Henry and goes to see some of her old friends. Lucy decides to erase Henry completely from her life after learning of his decision not to take a sailing trip to Bristol Bay to study walruses, something he has been planning for the past 10 years. He feels he cannot leave Lucy for the year it will take him. Henry reluctantly helps her destroy her journal entries of their relationship.

A few weeks later, Henry is preparing to leave for his sailing trip. Before he departs, Marlin tells him that Lucy is now living at the brain institute and teaching an art class. He also tells him that she sings. Then, he gives Henry a Beach Boys CD. Listening to the CD, Henry becomes emotional and curses Marlin for giving him the CD and making him feel so emotional. He then remembers that Marlin once told him that Lucy always sings after she meets him. Concluding that Lucy remembers him, he returns home. She says she does not remember, but then she dreams about him every night and paints pictures of him. They reconcile.

Some time later, Lucy wakes up and plays a video tape marked “Good Morning Lucy”. It again informs her of her accident, but ends with her and Henry’s wedding. From the tape, Henry says to put a jacket on and come have breakfast when she is ready. Lucy then sees that she is on Henry’s boat, which finally made it to Alaska. She goes up on deck and meets Marlin, Henry and their daughter, Nicole.

REVIEW:

I probably should have saved this one for closer to Valentine’s Day, but oh well. 50 First Dates is considered by many to be one of Sandler’s best film, but it is also one of the films that started the belief that he just pays for his friends to go on a vacation, and I should also mention that this is one of the last of the Sandler films that people really like. So, since this brought about the end of an era, let’s see if he went out with a bang, shall we?

What is this about?

In this offbeat romantic comedy, marine veterinarian Henry Roth changes his womanizing ways after he falls for pretty art teacher Lucy Whitmore. Trouble is, she has no short-term memory, so Henry has to win her over again every day.

What did I like?

Creativity. Imagine if someone in your life was afflicted with this brand of short-term memory loss. I am more than inclined to believe we would all do everything we can to make sure everything is perfect for them. That is exactly what Lucy’s father, brother, and all the people around her try to do. While it may seem like the neverending hell of Groundhog’s day to them, it is always a new experience for her. When Henry comes into the picture, it was intriguing to see how creative he was at getting her to remember him. Not going to say any of them here, just watch for yourself.

Chemistry. In Blended, we were treated to the on-screen reunion of Sandler and Barrymore and were amazed at how well their chemistry has withstood the years. Here, we get to see their second go-round (The Wedding Singer being the first), and perhaps the best pairing of the two. It may have just been the way they or the situation were written, but they have this puppy dog type of romance that just gives you the warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Romance. Continuing on that romance angle, think back to your best romance (doesn’t have to be your current significant other, mind you). Wouldn’t you like to take the best parts of that relationship and live it everyday, at least for awhile? I know that I would (and forget about the mistakes that brought it to an end…lol). These two are like a high school couple. They truly enjoy each other’s company, share each other’s affection, etc. I believe the term they use for this is “meetcute”. For this film, it works a thousand fold!

What didn’t I like?

Ulu. I know that Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider are friends, at least they were for the longest time. They had an argument or something and haven’t really done much together since. Anwyay, as I was saying, they are friends, and Schneider is a good comedic foil. However, making a Hawaiian just wasn’t working. Did he have to be painted that weird gray-brown color? And that accent…was he Hawaiian? Mexican? Some mixture of all nationalities? What was the deal there?

Get off the juice. I didn’t really get the reason to have Sean Astin’s character allegedly juicing. First of all, he looks like he is just ripping off Josh Brolin’s clothes from The Goonies (which was his big brother in that movie). Second, he isn’t anywhere near big enough to be roided out. Seriously, who did this casting?!?

80s…in reggae form. Adam Sandler is in love with the 80s, and who can blame him. Normally, I would defend his love of that totally awesome decade, but I don’t think the songs fit in this film. Part of that may have just been that they were given reggae/ska remakes and it was distracting. That isn’t to say all of them fall into that category, but most do. Perhaps we could have just been treated to new reggae/ska tunes? There was a version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that is typically associated with Hawaii, maybe more stuff like that would have worked better.

Man, can you just imagine taking your significant other on 50 First Dates (see what I did there?) Seriously, though, this is a nice, I believe the term is “Netflix and chill”, film. Those that are into that sentimental, sappy stuff have something to watch, while those that are into good comedy have something, as well. Don’t let me forget to mention the beautiful Hawaii scenery, though it isn’t on as full display as you would think with a Sandler film. Do I recommend this picture? Yes, very highly. You and your date will have a nice romantic evening!

5 out of 5 stars

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