Archive for October, 2008

The Center of the World

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on October 31, 2008 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A couple checks into a suite in Las Vegas. In flashbacks we see that he’s a computer whiz on the verge of becoming a dot.com millionaire, she’s a lap dancer at a club. He’s depressed, withdrawing from work, missing meetings with investors. He wants a connection, so he offers her $10,000 to spend three nights with him in Vegas, and she accepts with conditions: four hours per night of erotic play, and no penetration. During the days in Vegas, they get to know each other, have fun, meet a friend of hers; at night, at least after the first night, things seem to get complicated. Is mutual attraction stirring? Will they play by their rules? Can it be about more than money?

REVIEW:

There isn’t much to this film. honestly, I don’t know why I wasted the hour and half watching it. It can best be summed up as a less charming, more erotic version of Pretty Woman. If I say that, though, it would be an insult to that iconic film.

This movie is so bad, I needed to take a shower after watching it. I had never heard of it before and just happened to come across it in passing on the Netflix instant view list. There is good reason I never heard of it, though.

I will say, that for an independent film, it isn’t bad, but at the same timne, it’s not good.

The gorgeous Carla Gugino was wasted in her small role in this film. The plot isn’t the worst in the world, but it’s just been done so much, many times better.

So, do I recommend this film to anyone. No. Unless you’re into this kind of boring film, then stay away.

1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Saw IV

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 30, 2008 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

At the autopsy of the Jigsaw Killer, a wax-coated microcassette is found in his stomach. Detective Hoffman is called in to listen to the tape, which promises that “the games have just begun” and that “perhaps you [Hoffman] will succeed where others have failed” in his test as he is “the last man standing.”

The scene shifts to a mausoleum, where Trevor and Art are chained to a large device. Trevor’s eyelids have been sewn together, as has Art’s mouth, making communication between them impossible. When the device begins pulling them together, they panic, and Art kills Trevor to retrieve a key from the latter’s collar. In a later flashback, Art finds two items waiting for him elsewhere in the mausoleum: a recorded message from Jigsaw and an envelope containing instructions.

It has been six months since the disappearance of Detective Eric Matthews, and four days since Detective Allison Kerry vanished, as noted by Hoffman. The police discover Kerry’s corpse, still hanging in the harness of the inescapable trap that killed her in Saw III. After cautioning Lieutenant Rigg for barging through an unsecured door, Hoffman is introduced to FBI Agents Strahm and Perez, who deduce that Amanda Young, Jigsaw’s apprentice, would need assistance with Kerry’s death, indicating that there is another accomplice to the murder.

That evening, Rigg is attacked in his home and Hoffman disappears. When Rigg comes to, a videotape informs him that Matthews is in fact still alive, with ninety minutes to save himself, and that Hoffman’s survival is at stake as well. He then undergoes his first test, in which he finds a woman named Brenda. Jigsaw advises Rigg to walk away–to “see what I see,” as written on the wall–but Rigg’s natural instinct to help those in need clouds his judgment. When Rigg removes the pig mask covering Brenda’s face, he triggers a trap device that begins to slowly tear her scalp from her head. He succeeds in freeing her, but to his surprise, she comes at him with a knife; Brenda has been told that Rigg is there to arrest her and the only way to stop it is to kill him. He throws her into a mirror and leaves to find the site of his next test. Sometime later, Strahm, Perez, and the police enter the apartment and find that Brenda has died.

Rigg arrives at a motel, where he is instructed to “feel what I feel,” painted on the door of one room. He must abduct the manager, Ivan, revealed to be a serial rapist. Angered by seeing videos and photos of Ivan’s exploits, Rigg forces Ivan into a prearranged trap, which gives him the option between having his eyes gouged out or being savagely dismembered. Rigg hands him two controllers that will drive blades into his eyes, blinding him and saving his life. When Ivan runs out of time after blinding only one eye, his limbs are ripped off his body and thrown across the room.

Rigg’s next test, to “save as I save,” occurs in a school where Rigg once attacked a man named Rex, whom he suspected of abusing his wife Morgan and daughter Jane. Hoffman had intervened to stave off disciplinary action against Rigg at that time. In one of the classrooms, Rigg discovers that same husband and wife impaled together back to back with several long metal rods. The rods are placed such that they pass through vital circulatory points of his body, but non-vital points of hers. If she has the courage to remove the rods, her abusive husband will bleed to death but she will survive. By the time Rigg finds the couple, she has pulled out all but one rod and gone into shock; she suddenly wakes up and Rigg tells her that she has to save herself. He removes the last spike, wraps his jacket around her, hands her the key to the harness she and her husband are strapped into, and sets off a fire alarm to alert emergency services to her position, then leaves.

Strahm and Perez arrive on the scene, having previously realized that they have both become targets in this latest series of games. They determine that all of the victims were defended by Art, who is also the lawyer of Jill Tuck, John Kramer’s ex-wife. A gun used to insert the rods into Rex and Morgan fires a spear through a photographer and kills her on the scene. Strahm and Perez find Billy, Jigsaw’s puppet, in the office; Perez is told via tape recorder that Strahm will “soon take the life of an innocent man” and that her “next step is critical.” Ignoring the warning, she takes a closer look at Billy, whose face suddenly explodes and showers her with shrapnel; she is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Furious, Strahm interrogates Jill, who recounts Jigsaw’s backstory. She was once pregnant with a boy to be named Gideon (after John’s first construction project), but the baby was lost when Cecil Adams robbed the clinic at which she was employed and caused her to suffer a miscarriage. She and her husband grew apart and divorced. After learning that he had cancer and only a short while to live, John kidnapped Cecil and placed him in a trap, the first trap he ever built. Cecil had to push his face against several knives in order to release his wrists, which were slit due to razor blades in the arms of the chair. He began to do so, but the chair collapsed before he could reach the release switch. Noticing John standing in front of him watching, Cecil lunged at him but fell into a mesh of barbed wire as John moved aside at the last second. Strahm makes connections from Jill’s story to the Gideon Meat Factory, the scene of Rigg’s final test.

Strahm arrives but finds himself lost, accidentally trailing Jeff Reinhart – making the viewers believe Jeff is looking for his daughter. In reality, however, the events of this film and Saw IIIare now unfolding at the same time. Rigg, meanwhile, approaches his final test. In the next room are Art, Matthews, and Hoffman; Matthews stands on an ice block with a chain-noose cinched around his neck, while Hoffman is strapped into a chair with an electrode by his feet. They are at opposite ends of a balanced seesaw, but if Matthews slips off the ice or too much of it melts, he will be hanged and the weight shift will dump the runoff water onto Hoffman’s end, electrocuting him. Art is watching over them both, with a device strapped to his back that holds a set of pincers against his neck, ready to cut through his spine. Once the ninety-minute timer for Rigg’s tests runs out, he can push a button to release himself and the others.

All three men discover that if the door is opened before time runs out, Matthews’ head will be crushed between two ice blocks and Hoffman will die with him. Seeing an approaching figure (Rigg) through the door’s grimy window, Matthews attempts to warn him off without success, then shoots out through the door at him with a gun supplied by Art. The shot hits Rigg in the stomach, but he still crashes through the door with one second left on the clock, releasing the overhead ice blocks and killing Matthews. Rigg shoots and kills Art, mistaking the tape recorder in Art’s hand for a gun, and plays the tape only to discover that he has failed his final test by not learning that he could not save everyone by himself. Had he allowed the time to expire and not barged through the door (something Hoffman had earlier warned him against), he would have passed and the three captives would have all survived. Hoffman releases himself from his chair unharmed, revealing himself to be another apprentice of Jigsaw, and leaves Rigg bleeding on the floor. Elsewhere in the factory, Strahm faces off with Jeff in the makeshift sickroom from Saw III. Jeff waves a gun at Strahm, believing him to be involved in the abduction of his daughter; Strahm kills Jeff in self-defense. Before he can react further, Hoffman locks him in the room with the corpses of Jigsaw, Amanda, Jeff, and Lynn Denlon.

The end of the opening autopsy scene is shown again, indicating that it took place after the events of the film.

REVIEW:

I’m not a fan of these new age horror films that feel the need show every aspect of the murder. I find it more terrifying not knowing what’s happening and just seeing the shadows or hearing what’s going on.

That being said, I decided to give this a go tonight. While I wasn’t crazy about it, and have no clue what is going on in the Saw franchise, other than what I’ve seen in various parodies and such, I did enjoy it. I didn’t love it, but it was enjoyable.

There were a few too many twists for my liking and not enough death and gore. If you’re going to show it, then show it, go all out, don’t hold back!

The acting, other than Jigsaw, is very, very, bad, but this is to be expected in horror films. Even the great horror films of days gone by had bad acting, so I’ll let that pass.

All in all, if you’re into the blood and gore genre of movies, then you’ll love this.

3 out of 5 stars

Hercules and Xena – The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2008 by Mystery Man

 

PLOT:

The mother of Hercules, Alcmene, is kidnapped, and Hercules finds that the Olympians are being attacked by Titans, set free by the jealous Hera. Then Hercules and Iolaus join forces with Xena and Gabrielle to save the Olympians – who only include Zeus, Aphrodite, Ares, and Artemis. During the film, the Olympians (or, at least, the four included) were changed into common domestic animals. Hercules and Xena fight to imprison the Titans, punish Hera, restore the Olympians, and rescue Alcmene.

REVIEW:

As a fan of both Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, I had high hopes for this. I figured it was just an animated episode. Boy was I mistaken!

If you close your eyes, then it sounds like a cross over episode with Xena and Hercules because they have all the same voices. However, that’s the only thing that resembles the series’. I’m not really sure why this was made, other than the creators wanted to give kids a version of Hercules and Xena that they could enjoy. In doing so, though, they may have alienated the fans. Luckily, this was a direct-to-video release and didn’t go to theaters.

The animation is sub-par, but I may be a bit biased  and spoiled as a die-hard Disney fan.

I will say, the plot and story aren’t bad. In fact, this could have worked as a real episode. Sadly, it didn’t work out that way.

I really can’t think of anyone who would willingly watch this, unless you are a fan of Xena and Hercules and can look past all the inconsistencies between the shows and this movie.

2 stars out of 5

Hellboy

Posted in Action/Adventure, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2008 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 1944, the German Nazis work with Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin on an isolated island off the coast of Scotland to build a dimensional portal. They intend to use it, with Rasputin’s help, to awaken the Ogdru Jahad (the Seven Gods of Chaos), monstrous entities that have been imprisoned and asleep since an undisclosed time, to destroy their enemies. But Rasputin secretly intends to use the entities to bring about the destruction of the entire Earth. He is aided by his servant and lover, Ilsa von Haupstein, to whom he has granted eternal life, and Nazi Lieutenant Colonel (Obersturmbannführer) Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, a notorious killer, Hitler’s chief assassin and leader of the Thule Society. The United States sends a small Army team to destroy the portal, guided by a young doctor, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, who is well-versed in terms of magic and sorcery. In the ensuing battle, the German scientists and soldiers are killed and the portal is destroyed, killing Rasputin. Ilsa and Kroenen escape capture. As the Army team surveys the ruins for anything that may have sneaked into their dimension through the portal, they discover a bright red infant demon with a right hand seemingly made from stone. Bruttenholm coaxes it into his arms with a Baby Ruth candy bar. They name the little demon “Hellboy.”

Sixty years later, a young FBI agent named John Myers is transferred to the Bureau of Paranormal Research & Defense, run by Professor Bruttenholm. He is introduced to Hellboy, now an adult. Also employed with the BPRD is a fish-like person named Abe Sapien who has advanced psychic abilities, and Liz Sherman, a pyrokinetic who has yet to learn to control her firestarting abilities. Liz has recently left the bureau (for the thirteenth time) and checked herself into a mental hospital in an effort to protect others from her talent. Despite regular visits and coaxing from Hellboy, who appears infatuated with her, she is determined not to return.

Meanwhile, Kroenen and Ilsa resurrect Rasputin. Rasputin and his companions travel to New York and the Machen Library of Paranormal Artifacts. There, they open a display and, through magic, release a demon known as Sammael, a hell-hound with a distinct Lovecraftian appearance. Rasputin imbues Sammael with the power to reincarnate and split his essence, causing two of the creature’s “eggs” to hatch and mature in seconds each time one dies. Rasputin then visits Liz as she sleeps, reactivating her powers and causing the near-total destruction of the hospital. Afterwards, Myers talks to her, and convinces her to return to the bureau, at least for the short term.

The multiplying Sammael quickly becomes a major problem, as Hellboy repeatedly kills it, creating dozens. Abe is injured during an attempt to retrieve some of their eggs, and Kroenen kills one of the FBI agents sent with Hellboy, and Sammael kills the other 2 agents. Kroenen, whose ancient body is now run by mechanisms, then shuts himself down and pretends to be defeated just before Hellboy arrives. Kroenen’s ‘corpse’ is brought to the bureau for examination. FBI Director Tom Manning is angered by Hellboy’s recklessness, which he feels is indirectly responsible for his agents’ deaths. Hellboy gets mad and threatens Manning just as Liz returns, almost causing her to leave again just as quickly. Myers, in an effort to help her overcome her difficulties with Hellboy, takes her out for coffee and to talk. Hellboy, jealous, covertly follows them.

While they are away, Rasputin appears at the bureau, reanimating Kroenen before they confront Professor Bruttenholm. Out of twisted respect for Bruttenholm’s protection and nurturing of Hellboy, Rasputin promises him a quick death, but first offers him a vision of the future, showing Hellboy is the agent that has destroyed the world. Rejecting Rasputin’s vision of Hellboy’s destiny, Bruttenholm is stabbed in the neck and, clutching a rosary, collapses and dies.

Manning takes over the BPRD and, with the help of Hellboy and the others, manages to find Rasputin’s physical body located in a mausoleum in an old cemetery outside Moscow, Russia. An enraged Hellboy, with Manning’s help, destroys Kroenen once and for all, to avenge the death of his “father”, Professor Bruttenholm. Telling Manning to stay back, Hellboy reunites with Liz and Myers at Sammael’s nest to defend them, but the hellhounds overwhelm him. In an effort to help, Liz, with some encouragement from Myers, ignores the fear that has prevented her from unleashing her full potential and uses her pyrokinetic powers to encase herself in blue fire, which she uses to incinerate the army of Sammaels and all the eggs. Unfortunately, this effect renders Hellboy, Liz, and Myers unconscious and they are captured by Rasputin.

To force Hellboy to release the Ogdru Jahad, Rasputin sucks Liz’s soul out of her body, telling Hellboy that Liz will come back to life only if he complies. Hellboy, not wanting to lose Liz, awakens his true power as Anung un Rama (the Beast of the Apocalypse), causing his horns to regrow. He nearly releases the Ogdru Jahad, but the injured Myers reminds him of who he is and that he has the right to choose his own path. He snaps off his horns, returning to his former self and resealing the Ogdru Jahad. As Rasputin screams his frustration and disappointment at Hellboy, Hellboy stabs him in the heart with one of his broken horns.

However, Rasputin has one last trick up his sleeve: he is possessed by a demon from the Ogdru Jahad. The tentacled Behemoth bursts out of Rasputin’s body, grows to immense size, and destroys Rasputin and Ilsa. Hellboy grabs a stone sword from a nearby statue and attacks the Behemoth’s tentacles, then allows himself to be swallowed while detonating a belt of live hand grenades. The subsequent explosion tears the Behemoth apart from inside, killing it. Liz’s vital signs are gone when Hellboy returns from the fight, but he whispers into her ear, and suddenly her life is restored. When she asks how her soul was returned, Hellboy replies that he simply told the creatures from the other side the cost of taking her: “Hey, you on the other side. Let her go. Because for her I’ll cross over, and then you’ll be sorry.” She and Hellboy kiss as she surrounds them in blue flame, and the narrator, Myers, says that what truly makes a man is “Not how he starts things, but how he decides to end them.”

Finally, the film ends with a humorous mid-credits scene, where a forgotten and frightened Manning is lost several levels down in the dank and dim halls of the mausoleum, listening to (maybe) the rustle of footsteps, and looking to see if there’s anyone/anything around.

REVIEW:

As a comic book fan, I love movies based on comics. Although I am not well versed in the Hellboy universe, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and after my first viewing of it went out to school myself on the his legend.

I don’t think anyone else could have pulled of Hellboy better than Ron Pearlman.

The monsters and special effects are a thing of beauty. It’s quite obvious this is a Guillermo del Toro film.

The death of the professor and Hellboy’s emotions surrounding that as well as his feelings for Liz add real depth to the character.

I do have a couple of problems with this movie, though. The final battle was over in like 5 seconds. I’m sorry, but you just expect something like that to last a little bit longer. Also, Abe was severely underused, especially considering how major of a role he has in the comic.

All in all this is a good comic book film. It is forgotten alongside the likes of  Spider Man, X-men, Superman, and Batman because he’s not from a “major” comic company, but given that little tidbit, the fact that this film has done as well as it has is something to be commended.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Little Mermaid

Posted in Classics, Disney, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2008 by Mystery Man

 

PLOT:

A sixteen-year-old mermaid princess named Ariel is dissatisfied with life under the sea and curious about the human world. Ariel, with her best friend, a fish named Flounder, collects human artifacts, and visits the surface of the ocean to visit a seagull named Scuttle, who offers comically inaccurate knowledge of human culture. Ignoring the warnings of her father, King Triton, and the court musician, Sebastian the crab, that contact between merpeople and humans is forbidden, she longs to be part of the human world; to this end she has filled a secret grotto with all the human artifacts she has found.

Ariel and Flounder travel to the surface to watch a celebration for the birthday of Prince Eric, with whom Ariel falls in love. The birthday celebration is cut short by a massive storm, during which the ship is struck by lightning. Everyone manages to escape in a lifeboat, except for Eric who boards the burning ship to save his dog Max. Eric almost drowns, but is saved by Ariel, who drags him to the beach. She sings to him, but when he stirs awake, she dives underwater. Eric has a vague impression that he was rescued by a girl with a beautiful voice; he vows to find her, and Ariel vows to find a way to join Eric.

Triton and his daughters notice a change in Ariel, who is openly lovesick. Triton questions Sebastian about Ariel’s behavior, during which Sebastian accidentally reveals the incident with Eric. Triton furiously confronts and punishes Ariel in her grotto, using his trident to destroy her entire collection of human treasures, including her prized statue of Prince Eric. After Triton leaves, a pair of eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, convince a crying Ariel that she must visit Ursula the sea witch, who can supposedly make all her dreams come true.

Ursula makes a deal with Ariel to transform her into a human for three days. Within these three days, Ariel must receive the “kiss of true love” from Eric; otherwise she will transform back into a mermaid on the third day and belong to Ursula. As payment for legs, Ariel has to give up her voice, which Ursula magically traps in a shell she wears as a locket. Ariel is transformed and, with the execption of her breasts, is naked. She is dragged to the surface by Sebastian and Flounder. There, she is washed up on a rock. She sits up and looks in astonishement at her new legs. She lifts her right leg out of the water and examines her foot. She wiggles her toes and smiles open-mouthed. Shortly after, Scuttle helps dress her in the remains of sail. She is found by Eric, but when he learns that she cannot speak, he discards the notion that she is the one who saved his life. He helps her to the palace, where the servants think of her as a survivor of a shipwreck. Ariel spends time with Eric, and at the end of the second day, they almost kiss but are thwarted by Flotsam and Jetsam. Angered at the close call, Ursula takes the disguise of a beautiful young woman named “Vanessa” and appears onshore singing with Ariel’s voice. Eric recognizes the song, and “Vanessa” casts a hypnotic spell of enchantment on Eric to make him forget about Ariel.

The next day, Ariel finds out that Eric will be married to “Vanessa” on a ship. She cries and is left behind when the wedding barge departs. Scuttle discovers Vanessa’s true identity and informs Ariel. Ariel and Flounder chase the wedding barge, Sebastian informs Triton, and Scuttle is assigned to “stall the wedding.” With the help of various animals, the nautilus shell around Ursula’s neck is broken, restoring Ariel’s voice back to Ariel and breaking Ursula’s enchantment over Eric. Realizing that Ariel was the girl who saved his life, Eric rushes to kiss her, but the sun sets and Ariel transforms back into a mermaid. Ursula reverts back to her true form and she kidnaps Ariel.

Triton appears and confronts Ursula, but cannot destroy the contract Ursula made with Ariel. Triton chooses to sacrifice himself for his daughter and signs the contract. Ursula transforms Triton into a polyp. Ursula takes Triton’s crown and trident and declares herself queen of the oceans, which was her plan from the beginning. Eric dives into the sea and throws a harpoon at Ursula. In her rage, she attempts to destroy him by using the trident, but Ariel attacks her, and Ursula accidentally kills Flotsam and Jetsam. Angered, Ursula subsequently transforms into gigantic proportions and stirs up a storm using the magical trident. A whirlpool is also formed, which disturbs several shipwrecks, one of which Eric later commandeers. Just as Ursula is set to use the trident to destroy Ariel, Eric turns the wheel hard to port, in effect ramming the ship’s splintered bowsprit through Ursula’s abdomen, killing her in a huge explosion.

When Ursula dies, her power breaks, and the polyps in Ursula’s garden (including Triton) turn back into merpeople. Later, after seeing that Ariel really loves Eric, Triton willingly changes her from her mermaid form into a human using his trident. She runs into Eric’s arms, and the two finally kiss. In the final scene, Ariel gets married to Eric in a wedding, when both humans and merpeople now become attendees.

REVIEW:

This is the film that started the Renaissance of Disney musicals. Granted, its predecessor, Oliver & Company was a musical, it was an experiment to see if the audiences would come. I’d say it’s a safe bet that they came.

I don’t see how anyone can not like this film. Ariel is your typical teenage girl who is rebelling against her overbearing father to be with the man she loves. Your basic love story, just in a different setting.

If I have any issues with this movie is that she was supposed to have 3 days to fall in love with the prince, but those 3 days ended up condensed into a montage. They could have expanded a bit with that, but that’s just my opinion.

Everyone will love this movie. If you don’t, then you just have no taste!

5 out of 5 stars

Night at the Museum

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2008 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is a divorced father who is unable to keep a stable job, the bulk of them being failed business ventures. He is desperate to win the support of his son Nick (Jake Cherry), whom he fears is beginning to look up to his more successful soon-to-be stepfather, Don (Paul Rudd), a bond trader on Wall Street. After being fired from his last job, he applies for a job at the Museum of Natural History, and is assigned as a night guard.

The three elder (soon to be unemployed) night guards, Cecil (Dick Van Dyke), Gus (Mickey Rooney), and Reginald (Bill Cobbs), give him a quick tour, advise him to leave some of the lights on, and warn him not to let anything “in…or out”, which Larry meets with humorous skepticism. They also leave some odd instructions for him.

Once night comes, Larry discovers that the museum exhibits come to life. Larry barely manages to survive through the night. First, he discovers a Tyrannosaurus rexdrinking from a water fountain; Larry distracts it by throwing a bone it has ripped from its own skeleton. Then, despite a narrow escape in the wildlife exhibits, Larry manages to lock up the lions. Finally, he double-checks his belt, only to discover that a lovable capuchin monkey named Dexter has in fact filched the aforementioned keys. And, when Dexter rips the old guards’ instruction manual to shreds, Larry is forced into monkey-style humiliation. Eventually Larry is rescued from an odd feud between miniatures, pitting a Wild West buckaroo named Jedediah (Owen Wilson) against a Roman General named Octavius (Steve Coogan), by a wax model of Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), who later explains that ever since an Egyptian tablet — the Tablet of Akmenrah — was brought to the museum in 1952 after the Nile expedition, everything comes to life each night. However, if the exhibits are outside of the museum by sunrise, they turn to dust. Roosevelt proceeds to help Larry by restoring order but insists that it will be the last time he shall ever do so.

While initially unnerved, Larry decides to stick it out. On Cecil’s advice, Larry begins to study the history of the events and people in the exhibits to prepare himself better. He meets Rebecca Hutman (Carla Gugino), who is writing a dissertation on the life and times of Sacagawea (Mizuo Peck), and learns much of the history of the various exhibits from her.

The next night, Larry uses what he’s learned to better control the exhibits, but it once again goes bad. One of the Neanderthals sets fire to their display, which Larry extinguishes with a nearby fire extinguisher, while another escapes out a window and turns to dust when the sun rises. Larry barely manages to keep his job after the Museum’s emotionless director, Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais), discovers the mess. Larry tries to tell Rebecca about what happens every night, even offering to let her meet Sacagawea to help with her dissertation, but Rebecca thinks that Larry is mocking her and leaves the museum visibly upset.

Two nights later, Larry brings Nick to the Museum. At first Nick isn’t too convinced when nothing comes to life. Then, just as Larry barely convinces Nick to stick around, they become aware of shadows in the back of the security office. They immediately find Cecil, Gus, and Reginald stealing the Tablet of Akmenrah, amongst other artifacts. Cecil then reveals the truth to Larry: like the museum exhibits, the Tablet gives life to the three night guards. Now accustomed to this new-found vigor, they are unwilling to give it up and were planning on stealing the Tablet, along with various other Museum artifacts to fund their retirement. They had in fact hoped to frame Larry for the theft. Nick, after prompting from Larry, turns an out-of-place panel that reactivates the tablet’s power and brings the exhibits to life once more. Cecil grabs the tablet back and locks Nick and Larry in the Egyptian room.

Larry calls for Theodore Roosevelt for help, but Roosevelt insists that Larry solve this problem on his own. The only thing left for Larry to do is release the mummy of King Akmenrah (Rami Malek) himself, the owner of the tablet. He speaks English, to which he replies (when Nick inquires) that he spent many years at Cambridge University (as an exhibit in the Egyptology Department). After Larry introduces himself and Nick, Akmenrah then asks them to bestow his Tablet upon him, so he can “claim his kingdom”. Larry informs Ahkmenrah that the tablet has been stolen, forcing Ahkmenrah to order his Anubis statues to break down the gate. The three new friends then set out to reclaim the tablet. Larry discovers that the other exhibits are fighting with each other. Larry explains that their only chance is to stop fighting and start working together, because, in Larry’s words, “Without that Tablet, all this — this whole coming-to-life-at-night thing — all goes away.” Though the exhibits manage to capture Gus and Reginald, Cecil escapes with the tablet. But a vengeful Larry, aided by Nick, Akmenrah, Jed, Octavius and Attila, manages to capture Cecil, as well. But more than half of the animal and human exhibits are left outside, and the sun is just about ready to rise. Larry wastes no time in bestowing unto Ahkmenrah his Tablet, which he immediately uses to enforce its power that returns all the exhibits to the museum. Rebecca, in a taxicab, sees the exhibits crossing the road in front of her — and realizes that Larry really was telling the truth. Entering the museum, she is introduced by Larry to Sacagawea.

The next day, Dr. McPhee once again fires Larry despite his effort to clean up the museum, not to mention the vast media coverage resulting from the prior night’s incident (believed by some to be either a kind of hoax or a publicity stunt), with even New York 1 News reporting the footage. But when that media coverage starts increasing the admissions and bringing in the visitors, the Doctor knows that he must rehire Larry, which he does. Later that same morning, Larry appears in Nick’s classroom during Career Day. Later that night, Larry returns with Nick and there is a celebration.

REVIEW:

I’m usually on the fence about Ben Stiller movies. Some of them I like, while others I could care less for. This is one of his better pictures.

Apparently, this is adapted from a book, but many liberties were taken. From what I’ve read about the plot of said book, they made a good choice.

I have to give credit to the special effects artists that worked on this film. While these aren’t groundbreaking effects, they are very effective.

Who would have ever thought an Egyptian pharaoh would have a British accent? Guess that’s what happens when he ends up at Cambridge…lol One of the funniest parts of the whole picture.

Go see this. You’ll enjoy it!

4 out of 5 stars

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2008 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film begins with the Dursleys preparing for a visit from Uncle Vernon Dursley’s boss. When Harry is locked in his room during the visit, he first encounters Dobby, a house elf. Dobby warns him not to go back to Hogwarts because there are rumors of dangerous things being plotted. When Harry refuses to not return to Hogwarts, the house elf, in a blackmail attempt, hovers a cake over the head of Uncle Vernon’s boss and drops it. Thinking that Harry did it, Vernon puts bars on Harry’s windows so he cannot make an escape to Hogwarts. All of Uncle Vernon’s efforts fail however, when Ron, Fred, and George Weasley arrive in their flying car to rescue Harry and flee the Dursley home.

The four arrive at the Burrow, the family home of the Weasleys. Mrs. Weasley catches the four coming in, and while ensuring Harry that she is not blaming him, yells at her three sons for their carelessness. She tells the boys that they could have been seen by Muggles” (non-magical people) as they flew through the air. As wizards are strictly forbidden to perform magic in the presence of unknowing Muggles, their stunt could have easily resulted in their expulsion from Hogwarts.

Harry then meets Ginny, the youngest Weasley child and the only girl, and Ron’s father, Arthur Weasley, during a typical Weasley family breakfast. Upon meeting Harry, Ginny becomes wide-eyed and runs off. Ron claims she doesn’t always act that way, and that she’s “been talking about Harry all summer”.

The five student-aged Weasleys—including Percy Weasley—receive letters from Hogwarts from their owls. Booklists in hand, the Weasleys soon leave for Diagon Alley. Harry has never used Floo Powder—the Weasleys’ chosen method of transportation—and is unsure of himself. In his nervousness, he accidentally pronounces “Diagon Alley” as “diagonally”, landing himself in Knockturn Alley. Fortunately, Hagrid happens upon him, leading him to Diagon Alley and reuniting him with the Weasleys and Hermione Granger.

Harry meets Gilderoy Lockhart, a famous wizard and author, who is signing copies of his new book inside a crowded Diagon Alley bookstore. Lockhart, recognizing the famous Harry Potter, pulls him out of the large crowd and announces his presence to the excited on-lookers. Lockhart announces that Harry will be receiving a copy of his new book about his encounters with dark magic and dangerous creatures. The Daily Prophet, a newspaper in the wizarding community, takes a picture of the two famous wizards for the front page. Mrs. Weasley is extremely excited because she is a big fan of Lockhart. After Harry escapes the sudden spotlight, he and the others purchase their school books and prepare to leave. Harry runs into Draco Malfoy’s father Lucius, who could not help but see Harry’s scar. There appears to be tension between Lucius and Mr. Weasley due to Lucius’s seemingly haughty attitude.

The next scene begins September 1 in King’s Cross Station. The entire Weasley family, excluding Ron, cross through the magical barrier to Platform 9 3/4 with ease. Harry and Ron then try, but they cannot go through; as a result, they missed the Hogwarts Express. Mr. Weasley had brought them all to the station in the flying car, so Harry and Ron steal it and follow the train to Hogwarts. They land in the Whomping Willow, where the car is wrecked and Ron’s wand is broken. They are ejected from the car with their luggage and the magical car takes off, leaving them behind. Harry and Ron are caught by the Hogwarts caretaker, Argus Filch, and brought before Professor Severus Snape to be punished. Before Snape can expel the pair, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall arrive. As head of Gryffindor House, only McGonagall has the authority to punish the boys, not Snape. She gives the two detention not just for arriving after the feast and having missed the train, but also for having been seen by “no less than seven Muggles” whilst leaving the station in the flying car. Later Ron receives a howler from his mother, screaming at him for taking the car, but also congratulating Ginny for being sorted into Gryffindor.

During the school year, Harry begins to hear voices, find people Petrified and find writing on the walls in blood. Harry, Hermione and Ron try to figure out about how the Chamber of Secrets was opened and who opened it. They decide to make a Polyjuice potion to disguise themselves as Crabbe and Goyle and talk to Malfoy to find out if he is the Heir to Slytherin. Soon the whole school finds out Harry can talk to snakes, and thinks that he opened the chamber. Harry finds a book in the girls’ bathroom with no writing into it. It belonged to Tom Marvolo Riddle, who came to the school fifty years ago. He is then sent back in time and learns that Hagrid had opened the Chamber fifty years Ago.

Things get much worse when Hermione is found petrified and Tom Riddle’s diary goes missing. Harry and Ron turn up at Hagrid’s hut in the middle of the night and Cornelius Fudge (the Minister for Magic) shows up to take Hagrid to Azkaban (the magical prison). Lucius Malfoy arrives to suspend Dumbledore from the school on behalf of the governors of the school. Before Hagrid is taken away, he gives the two twelve-year-olds a clue to follow the spiders into the Dark Forest. They meet Aragog, a famed giant spider, whom they thought killed a Mudblood (a witch or wizard with non-magical parents) fifty years ago. Hagrid was innocent, but Aragog turns on them and send his children spiders to attack the two wizards for fresh meat. The flying car magically shows up and they make a fast escape.

Now knowing that Hagrid was innocent, Harry and Ron find out (from a piece of paper in Hermione’s hand) that the monster responsible for the petrification attacks is a basilisk. But they also find another message from the heir and the teachers say that a student has been taken into the chamber. It is then revealed that Ginny Weasley is the victim. Gilderoy Lockhart, the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, was chosen to go down into the chamber to save the unfortunate first year girl, but he tries to make an escape until Harry and Ron catch him. This was because it turns out Lockhart’s famous past was false. The three find the chamber entrance in the girls’ bathroom and they enter to find a giant snake skin. Lockhart tries to stop Harry and Ron using a memory charm but it backfires because he tries to use Ron’s broken wand. Lockhart ends up losing his memory and the spell causes a rock fall, which separates Harry from the others. Harry goes on alone and finds Ginny’s body. Tom Riddle shows up telling him that he is beginning to get much stronger. Then Harry learns that Tom is the Heir to Slytherin House and is Lord Voldemort in his teenage form. Riddle sends the basilisk to kill Harry but ends up losing the giant snake because Dumbledore’s phoenix Fawkes attacks the Basilisk’s eyes. Harry finds the Sword of Gryffindor and pierces the snake’s head. Unfortunately, a fang also pierces Harry’s right arm.

Harry, who is dying from the fang’s poison, defeats Tom Riddle, by piercing the diary with the fang retrieved from his own arm. Ginny comes round and finds Harry hurt but Fawkes answers Harry’s loyalty to Dumbledore and heals Harry’s wound with his tears. (Phoenix tears are a very potent healer) Then Harry, Ron, Ginny and Lockhart leave the chamber pulled by Fawkes. Dumbledore gives Ron the task to send a letter to Azkaban to release Hagrid, and Harry discovers that Voldemort has transferred his parseltongue (snake language) powers by accident into his scar. In addition, the fact that Harry had used Godric Gryffindor’s sword means he must belong in Gryffindor House. Harry soon finds out that Dobby serves the Malfoys and tricks Lucius Malfoy into giving the house elf a sock thereby freeing him from servitude. Everyone who is petrified is re-animated and before starting the end-of-year feast, Hagrid returns (late as is usual, due to some ‘ruddy owl called Errol’ getting lost while delivering his release papers), and everyone cheers his arrival.

In a post credits scene, Diagon Alley is shown. In the window of the bookshop is Lockhart’s new book, “Who Am I?”, with the cover image being Lockhart in a straitjacket.

REVIEW:

Another excellent Harry Potter film. After this one, they take a dark turn and lose the fun that I really think makes them appeal to everyone.

Sadly, this is the last appearance of Richard Harris as Dumbledore. He passed away shortly after this was released.

As with any movie that is based on a book, there are things that are left out and liberties taken. I’m not going to get into all of those with this one, but I can say that this is pretty much dead on with the book.

The flying car scenes were a treat for me. I wish there would have been more of them. Other than that, there really isn’t much I can say that is wrong with this film.

Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not, you’ll love this movie.

5 out of 5 stars