Archive for January, 2009

American Pie 2

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The story is about the four friends, and their attempts to have the greatest summer party ever at a summer beach house in Michigan first used by Kevin’s older brother four years ago. Kevin is lost without Vicky, and often accidentally makes advances on her even though they are no longer dating. Nadia is coming for the party, and Jim is desperate so he asks Michelle for help with his sexual problems. Stifler invites his younger brother to party, and Finch has yet another meeting with Stifler’s mom. Oz is going steady, and has a long distance relationship while his girlfriend who is in Spain, but once again Stifler interrupts the phone sex. The film keeps the same cult status as the first, and also holds true to the idea of piling on risqué scenes one after another. The movie also focuses more on Jim and Michelle, who, when Nadia arrives early, pretend to be in a relationship so she will not expect Jim to have sex (After the incident with “Pussy Palace”). They break the fake relationship off once Jim is ready to sleep with Nadia but Jim, having fallen in love with Michelle, proceeds to turn down Nadia and enter into a relationship with Michelle instead.

The end of the movie shows many of the friends sleeping with familiar (and some not-so familiar) people. Jim is with Michelle and Oz is with Heather, like in the first movie. Sherman gives up on getting anyone, but the rejected Nadia, who wanted Jim because he was a geek, is turned on by his “Sherminator” gimmick, and has sex with him. Stifler ends up with two women he at first thought were lesbians. Kevin doesn’t end up with anyone, but he does seem to succeed in getting over Vicky. As for Finch, he spends the night talking with a few girls, but he doesn’t sleep with any of them. Soon after, Stifler’s mother arrives, and the end of the movie shows her car on the side of the road, with Finch having sex with her.

REVIEW:

This is the best of the American Pie films. True, the first one set the precedent and a new standard for raunch in cinema today, this one took off with those ideas and made a absolutely hilarious film.

All the major characters return for another helping of pie, although when this was released Mena Suvari, Chris Klein, and Tara Reid were off to bigger and better things, and Sean William Scott was working his way up the food chain. I think for this film, though, having them all back, even if for  a few brief scenes really captures the feelings one has after the first year of college away from your friends.

Perhaps the best known part of this film is the lesbian “challenge” scene where Stifler, Jim, and Finch are caught in the house and the two girls decide to have some fun with them that include kissing, grabbing, and finally requesting a hand job. I’ll admit, it’s my favorite part.

Another popular scene is Jim’s (who else) mishap with superglue (rather than lubricant). The series of misadventures that follows that is hilarious, all the way up to the diatribe Jim’s dad gives the lady in the wheelchair in the waiting room.

There is a bit of a touching moment where Jim realizes he’s in love with Michele and leaves ultra hot Nadia in the lighthouse to profess his love. Those that are into that lovey-dovey stuff will really eat that up, so yeah, this is one of those films that has something for everyone, but proceed with caution. This film can be offensive to some, otherwise, watch and have fun!

5 out of 5 stars

Legally Blonde

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is portrayed as the typical pampered rich girl, growing up in Bel Air, across the street from Aaron Spelling. She is president of her sorority, Delta Nu, at the fictitious CULA, the California University of Los Angeles. Nearing graduation, Elle expects her Harvard Law School-bound boyfriend, Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis), to propose, but he instead breaks up with her, insisting that she is not “serious” and would hinder his political future. Elle later finds out that Warner’s brother, Putnam Bowes Huntington III, is marrying Muffy Walker Vanderbilt, also a Yale law student. Crushed, Elle decides the only way to way to win Warner back is to attend Harvard Law School. With an exceptional LSAT score (179), a 4.0 GPA (albeit achieved as a fashion merchandising major), and a confident application video featuring her in a bikini, Elle’s application materials manage to convince the admissions board to grant her admission.

At Harvard, Elle is initially met with hostility and skepticism of her abilities, and she finds Warner is already engaged to fellow law student Vivian Kensington (Selma Blair). Vivian reluctantly invites Elle to a party, but tells her it is a costume party (which it is not) to humiliate her. Though she shows up dressed as a Playboy bunny, Elle is unfazed. She confronts Warner and finds that his perception of her is unaffected by her accomplishments.

Spurred by his dismissive remarks, Elle immerses herself in her studies and becomes a top student in her class. She still finds it hard to be taken seriously, although Emmett Richmond (Luke Wilson), the trial assistant of Callahan (Victor Garber), one of Elle’s professors, is friendly to her and recognizes her potential. She also forms a bond with hair stylist Paulette, who has recently been through a divorce, giving Paulette advice on attracting the attention of the postage guy she is interested in and also using her legal knowledge to allow Paulette to regain custody of her dog from her ex-husband.

Along with Warner and Vivian, Elle is hired as an intern at Callahan’s firm. They are assigned the case of defending a young woman, Brooke Taylor Windham (Ali Larter), accused of murdering her wealthy husband. Windham is coincidentally a former member of Elle’s sorority and a famous fitness instructor, facts that convince Elle of her innocence (Her reasoning being that exercise produces endorphins, and endorphins make you happy, so happy people don’t shoot their husbands). Her stepdaughter and the household’s “cabana boy” Enrique Salvatore (Greg Serano) attest to finding Windham standing over her husband’s dead body, Enrique even claiming to have had an affair with her.

After Windham refuses Callahan’s request for an alibi, Elle visits her in jail where she confides that she was having liposuction at the time of her husband’s death. Worried that this would destroy her reputation as a fitness guru, she asks that Elle keep the alibi secret. Elle complies despite pressure from Callahan. Vivian is extremely impressed that Elle kept the alibi, and the two start to become friends, Vivian even admiting that Warner only got into Harvard because his father pulled some strings.

Elle has more and more success with her trial, using her knowledge of the fashion world and intuition to help her move closer to winning the trial, most notably when deducing that Enrique is gay after he correctly identifies her shoe style; straight men have no clue about fashion. Callahan has a private discussion with Elle after a session. To her disgust, he reveals he finds her attractive and begins to caress her thigh. Elle angrily storms out, is met by Vivian, who witnessed Callahan touching Elle’s leg, and lashes out at her. Convinced that she will never be taken seriously, Elle decides to quit and return to California. Emmett attempts to encourage her, but Elle’s spirits are still crushed and she retreats to the salon to bid farewell to Paulette the hairstylist, who has become her friend. At the salon she encounters another of her teachers, Professor Stromwell, who further encourages her, saying “If you’re going to let one stupid pig ruin your life, you’re not the girl I thought you were”. With her confidence returned, Elle decides to return to court. Windham fires Callahan and hires Elle as her new attorney (with Emmett, who is a licensed attorney, supervising).

During her cross-examination, the victim’s daughter, Chutney Windham (Linda Cardellini), claims to have been taking a shower at the time of the murder, but Elle argues that having had her hair permed that day, a shower would have deactivated the ammonium thioglycolate and would have ruined her curls, which are nevertheless still intact. Badgered by Elle’s aggressive questioning, the daughter finally breaks down in tears and confesses to accidentally shooting her father, believing he was her stepmother, whom she resented for being the same age as she. With this, she is arrested and Brooke is cleared of all charges.

The end of the film shows that Elle graduated from Harvard as the class-elected speaker of her graduate class with high honors, and she has been recommended to one of the country’s most successful law firms. Now Elle’s best friend, Vivian has called off her engagement to Warner, who graduates with no honors or any prestigious job offers. Paulette is now the postage guy’s girlfriend, and they are expecting a baby which they will name Elle. Emmett, now Elle’s boyfriend of two years, is revealed to be planning to propose to Elle the night of the graduation.

REVIEW:

Normally a film with all this pink would turn me off automatically. However, I was pleasantly surprised with this picture.

Reese Witherspoon really came into her own with this role. She is the perfect choice for the role because of her innocent beauty and acting skills…too bad her Broadway counterparts don’t stack up as well.

Luke Wilson is a little underused here, at least until the end, but when he does have the chance to steal some screen time, he makes the most of it.

Victor Garber always seems to be playing a lawyer. In just about everything I’ve seen him in, excluding Titanic, Cinderella, and the recent TV movie The Last Templar, he’s been a lawyer. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that. Just making an observation.

Jennifer Coolidge is quite welcome when she is introduced to the audience and endears herself to us as the film goes on, especially after her failed bend and snap knocks out her dream UPS guy and breaks his nose.

This is a very enjoyable film. When I first heard about it, I assumed it was some sort of romantic comedy, but I was wrong. Granted, its not the oddball comedy that I tend to go for, but it is pretty funny and has something for everyone.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2009 by Mystery Man

 

PLOT:

The four “altar boys” in the film are best friends attending a private Catholic school, St. Agatha’s in New Jersey in the 1970s. They smoke cigarettes, drink, smoke pot, and rebel in normal, somewhat intellectual ways. (For instance, they examine William Blake’s poetry for subversive content). Francis Doyle is the protagonist, while Tim Sullivan is his best friend. Francis, Tim, and their two best buddies work on a comic book called the Atomic Trinity (shown in animated bits throughout the film), with the characters of Major Screw, Captain Ass-Kicker, the Muscle (later Skeleton Boy), and Brakken. In the animated comic book sections, the archvillain is an evil motorcycle-riding nun named Peg-Leg (based on an overly strict St. Agatha’s teacher, Sister Assumpta). Sorcerella (based on fellow student Margie) is a minor female character in the comic. She and Francis develop a flirtation that leads to a relationship.

REVIEW:

Independent films tend to be really well filmed and have excellent scripts and stories, but just don’t appeal to me and/or bore me. The exception to this rule are early Kevin Smith films. However, this film, for me was pretty ok.

Long before he would go on to star in The Girl Next Door and Speed Racer, Emile Hirsch shows off some young acting chops in his role as Frances. This has to be the most emotion I’ve seen him show on screen, and just goes to show that he has more talent than we’ve been led to believe.

Kieran Culkin is arguably a better actor than his more famous brother, Macauley. Although his role is pretty sizable, it is at the same time short of being a lead role, but actual in between lead and supporting. He does it justice, though, and you really feel for him at the end.

It seems as if every film I see Jena Malone in, she’s portraying a Catholic school girl. I hope this isn’t type-casting. Putting that aside, this role has her as the tragic female lead and she really pulls it off giving it all she has and then some. I hope that she gets some bigger roles in the future.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about what may be the best part, which is the animation that is beautifully drawn by Todd McFarlane. It really changes things up and keeps this film from getting uber-depressing.

As far as films go, this isn’t the best in the world, but it is pretty good. I kind of expected it to be a bit more twisted, but was pleased with it as it. This isn’t a picture for everyone, but for those that want to, it can be very enjoyable.

3 out of 5 stars

Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film is narrated by Lemony Snicket (Jude Law), who occasionally appears in silhouette, writing the story on a typewriter in what appears to be the interior of a clock tower. Inventive Violet Baudelaire (Emily Browning), her intelligent younger brother Klaus (Liam Aiken), and their sharp-toothed, precocious baby sister Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman) are orphaned when a mysterious fire destroys their parents’ mansion. They are placed in the care of bank manager Mr. Poe (Timothy Spall), who entrusts them to their “closest relative” which is a fourth cousin three times removed or a third cousin four times removed. However, misinterpreting the phrase, Mr. Poe chooses the relative who lives the shortest distanceaway, the obnoxious Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). Olaf promises to take care of the orphans “as if they were actually wanted” but in fact is only interested in the huge fortune that Violet will inherit when she turns the age of 18. In the meantime, he treats them like slaves.

Eventually, after a failed attempt by Count Olaf to murder them by locking them in a car parked on railroad tracks, on which a train is traveling, Mr. Poe (who believes that Olaf’s mistake was in allowing Sunny to drive the car) sends the children to live with their uncle, Dr. Montgomery Montgomery (Billy Connolly), a cheerfully eccentric herpetologist having a well-stocked reptile room full of bizarre, imaginary reptiles, who is planning a trip to Peru. Their stay with “Monty” is cut short when Olaf turns up in disguise, pretending to be a sharply dressed man named Stephano, a replacement for Monty’s assistant Gustav. The Baudelaires see through the disguise instantly; they manage to convince Monty that Olaf is an impostor, but fail to impress the villain’s true intention on him — Monty being convinced that the supposed Stephano is a rival herpetologist come to plagiarize Monty’s recent scientific discoveries. Olaf later murders Monty and frames a tame viper for the killing. The children manage to convince a skeptical Mr. Poe and a Constable about Olaf’s guilt, though not of his identity; at this, the count discards his disguise and escapes.The Baudelaires are forced to move again, this time to the shores of Lake Lachrymose, where their Aunt, Josephine Anwhistle (Meryl Streep), resides. She seems to have an irrational fear of numerous unlikely events, and yet lives in a house precariously perched over the edge of a cliff. The house is held up by stilts and includes a wide window overlooking the lake. It appears to contain clues to the cause of the fire that killed their parents; Josephine, too, appears to know more than she is willing to reveal. Before the children can discover more, however, Olaf turns up again, disguised as a sailor, and courts Josephine.

The Orphans soon discover that Josephine has disappeared and the window has been smashed, leading the Baudelaires to believe that she has committed suicide. She leaves what looks like a suicide note, but which is actually a coded message telling them that she is hiding in Curdled Cave on the shore of the lake. Before they can follow, the house is torn apart by a hurricane, wherein three of Josephine’s phobia are realized. The Baudelaires escape, eventually find Josephine, and attempt to take her to safety. Count Olaf finds them first, taking the Baudelaires and leaving Josephine at the mercy of the water and of the deadly Lachrymose Leeches. Mr. Poe turns up and gives Olaf custody of the orphans, because he is led to believe that Olaf saved Klaus from the leeches.

At Olaf’s home, he concocts a scheme that involves staging a play starring himself and Violet. In the play, his character will marry Violet’s character, but in such a way that the marriage will actually be legal, giving him access to her money. This move is accomplished by the fact that Olaf has a local official, Justice Strauss (Catherine O’Hara), cast as a judge in the play; with her in this role, he could make the marriage legal. To ensure Violet’s co-operation, he holds Sunny hostage. While the play is being performed, Klaus attempts to rescue Sunny. In doing so, he discovers a gigantic, eye-shaped magnifying glass attached by six rods protruding from a round window. This looks similar to a drawing found in Aunt Josephine’s house and is suggested that Count Olaf caused the fire that orphaned Klaus and his sisters. After Violet signs the marriage certificate, she reveals the scheme to the audience. Olaf gloats to everyone, pointing out that every time the Baudelaires tried to tell the adults the truth, they were not believed. Olaf’s plan is thwarted at the last minute when Klaus uses the magnifying glass to burn the marriage certificate. Snicket jokingly tells us that Count Olaf is sentenced to suffer everything the Baudelaires experienced (the falling house, the leeches, the car on the train tracks) and then spend his life behind bars. However, Snicket immediately adds that Olaf and his cohorts (who are shown briefly in some scenes) escaped, then vanished mysteriously.

Later, Mr. Poe makes one last stop in the ruins of the Baudelaires’ home. There the orphans find the letter left to them by their parents, informing them of how much they were loved and that there is in fact, more good in the world than bad. The envelope also contains a spyglass; one of several that appear, throughout the film, to imply the presence of a secret society to which the protagonists’ parents belonged. The film ends with Snicket finishing the story by saying that “there are people in the world who know no misery and woe and they take comfort in cheerful films about twittering birds and giggling elves. There are people who know that there’s always a mystery to be solved and they take comfort in researching and writing down any important evidence” and then reminds the audience that “this story is not about such people, but about the Baudelaires, who are the sort of people who know that there’s always something to invent, read, bite, and something to do to make a sanctuary, no matter how small”. The last shot is of the Baudelaires en route to their new guardians (who are probably Sir and Charles of The Miserable Mill), and Snicket quoting the final line to The Wide Window, which states that the Baudelaires were “very fortunate, indeed”. The credits roll, against a backdrop resembling illustrations composed of cut-paper dolls and silhouettes. This scenery depicts the children running away from Count Olaf, only to have him catch up with them.

REVIEW:

This film seems to be the kind you would expect to come from Tim Burton, yet, he had nothing to do with it…as far as I know. I’ve never read the books, but if the film is any indication, then they can’t be too shabby.

Jim Carey shows off the acting prowess that made him famous in the first place, that is the insane, over the topness that he displayed weekly on In Living Color and in Ace Ventura films. From my understanding, Count Olaf is as over the top as his portrayal.

Meryl Streep’s role as Aunt Josephine is inspired casting. At first glance, I almost didn’t realize it was her, and really didn’t think she would do this type of film, but it appears she had fun doing it.

Jude Law’s narration is a surprise, as he doesn’t seem the narrator type, but it really works.

This film can be summed up best by saying its sheer dark fun. No, it won’t give you that happy feeling like you have after watching a Disney film, but it is still quite enjoyable, however, when Carey isn’t on screen, the film slows down. Streep and Bill Connelly do a fairly good job of keeping things going, but neither bring the film to life like Carey.

Is this film worth watching? Yes, indeed, but make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. Otherwise, you’ll be throughly pleased.

4 out of 5 stars

The Great Mouse Detective

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Disney, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The setting is London, 1897, and a young Scottish mouse named Olivia Flaversham is celebrating her birthday with her toymaker father, Hiram. Suddenly, a bat with a crippled wing and pegged leg bursts into the Flaversham’s workshop, kidnapping Hiram. It is later revealed that Professor Padraic Ratigan kidnapped Hiram to create a clockwork robot which mimics the Queen of the Mice. Ratigan’s plan is to do away with the real queen and use the robot as a decoy. With the real Queen dead in secret, Ratigan could rule as the King of the Mice of England. Hiram refuses to take part in Ratigan’s scheme, whereupon Ratigan orders Fidget (the bat) to capture Olivia. If Hiram continues to refuse to cooperate, Ratigan will have Olivia fed to Felicia, Ratigan’s cat.

Olivia searches to find the famed Great Mouse Detective named Basil of Baker Street. A surgeon named Dr. David Q. Dawson stumbles upon Olivia, and helps her find Basil’s residence, which is a mousehole in the cellar of the home of Sherlock Holmes. At first Basil is reluctant, but when Olivia mentions the peg-legged bat that kidnapped her father, Basil realizes that Olivia saw Fidget, a henchman of Ratigan, whom Basil has been trying to arrest for years.

Basil and Dawson then use Sherlock Holmes’ pet, a Basset Hound named Toby, to track Fidget’s scent to a nearby toy store. Fidget is surprised by Basil, Dawson, and Olivia in the toyshop where he is stealing clockwork mechanisms and toy soldiers’ uniforms for Ratigan’s plan. He hides and later traps Olivia by ambushing her from inside a toy cradle. Basil and Dawson pursue Fidget but become entangled in some toys and fall behind, giving Fidget enough time to escape with all the materials he needs, along with Olivia. While searching the shop, Dawson discovers Fidget’s forgotten checklist, which details everything Fidget has taken with him. Basil and Dawson return to Baker Street, where Basil discovers by means of close examination and some chemical tests that the list came from the riverfront, and they look for a small tavern near the Thames waterfront.

Meanwhile, Ratigan receives from Fidget the supplies needed to create his robot Queen, but he discovers that Fidget has lost the list, and knowing that any detective of Basil’s calibre might track its writer, he sentences Fidget to death by Felicia. However, Ratigan suddenly realizes how to defeat Basil, and pardons Fidget by telling Felicia to release him.

Basil and Dawson are in the tavern near the Thames, disguised as sailors inquiring for Ratigan to the staff. As they wait, Fidget stumbles through the pub. Basil keeps a close eye on the waitress who informs the bartender of Basil’s intentions. Basil inspects his drink confirming that the drinks have been drugged, Dawson on the other hand has gulped it down and during the stage performance he jumps on stage, starts dancing with the girls and falls onto the piano, causing a bar fight to break out. Basil revives Dawson and escapes the tavern to go after Fidget. The two follow Fidget through some pipes to Ratigan’s headquarters, only to discover that Ratigan and his henchmen had prepared for their arrival. Realizing that he had been outwitted by his nemesis, Basil falls into a paralyzing depression. Triumphant, Ratigan ties them to a spring-loaded mousetrap, connected with a Rube Goldberg machine of death. (A song plays on a phonograph, gradually tightening a rope, which pulls a cork away at the end of the song, releasing a ball bearing down a chute, eventually setting off the mouse trap, in the process firing a gun and a crossbow, and releasing an axe and an anvil, and then activating a camera. Each of the tools used [with the exception of the camera) would kill the pair on its own merits, however, Ratigan states that he has decided to use all of them, since he could not decide on just one.) Ratigan sets out for Buckingham Palace, leaving behind Dawson and Basil for dead along with Olivia who is trapped in a bottle nearby, as Fidget and his accomplices kidnap the queen.

Dawson demands that Basil put his mistake behind him, claiming that he knows Basil can save them, but they may as well die now if he is going to give up. He inadvertently raises Basil’s spirit by inspiring him on a means of escape. After seconds of mental calculations Basil instructs Dawson to set the mousetrap off when he gives the signal. At the precise moment after the record player finishes and before a large ball sets off the trap, Basil gives the signal, and Dawson slams his hand down on the trigger. The metal bar snaps over and traps the ball. The pressure causes a part of the mousetrap to snap like a projectile. The part hits the gun and the gun jumps and fires, missing the duo, instead hitting a crossbow which fires a bolt. The bolt hits an axe, and breaks the head from the handle. The axe head comes down on the trap, narrowly missing Basil and Dawson, and chopping the trap in two. The trap separates and flies out in opposite directions; going far enough to evade the falling anvil which also crushes the axe blade. The impact of the anvil causes Olivia’s bottle to pop open, and Olivia comes flying out. Basil gets up, catches Olivia, pulls over a confused Dawson, and smiles at the camera, just before it clicks.

Back at the palace, Ratigan is putting his plan into action. Hidden behind a curtain, Hiram operates the toy Queen, while the real Queen is being taken by Fidget to be fed to Felicia. At the appropriate moment, Ratigan advances into plain sight, clad in the robes of a King. He at once thanks his Queen-figure, then proceeds to recite a long list of proposed insanely tyrannical legal reforms. Meanwhile, Fidget carried the real queen out to the waiting Felicia. Just in time to save the Queen, Toby chases Felicia to a wall. She climbs over the wall easily, right into the midst of the Royal Guard Dogs on the other side where she is mercilessly mauled, presumably to death. Basil, Dawson, and Olivia, who made it to the Buckingham Palace, saves Hiram and the real Queen, and tie up Fidget along with Ratigan’s other henchmen. Basil then seizes control of the mechanical mouse-queen, forcing it to denounce Ratigan as an impostor and tyrant, all the while breaking into pieces. The crowd, outraged by Ratigan’s treason start climbing onto him. Ratigan manages to free himself, and he escapes on his dirigible with Fidget, and holding Olivia hostage as Basil, Dawson, and Flaversham pursue him.

Basil, Dawson, and Hiram create their own craft with a matchbox and some small helium-filled balloons, held under the Union Jack. A high-speed chase above the city ensues. Ratigan throws Fidget (who can’t fly) overboard and into the river below to “lighten the load”, and then attempts to drive the dirigible himself. Basil jumps on to the dirigible to confront his nemesis; however, with no helmsman, Ratigan is unable to steer his craft, and it ends up crashing straight into Big Ben.

Inside the clock, Ratigan and Basil face off for possession of Olivia, although Ratigan still holds her in hostage. Basil manages to trap Ratigan by tossing his cape between two gears, and rescues Olivia. As Ratigan struggles, he notices Basil leading Olivia out of the clock and, due to his insane hate for the mouse detective, succumbs to rage, giving him the strength to tear his cape free. As he scurries through the clockworks, Olivia is safely delivered to Hiram, who is still on the balloon with Dawson. But Ratigan catches up and viciously attacks Basil, causing them to fall down onto one of the clock’s hour hands. Ragged and enraged, he has transformed from a pompous pseudo-gentleman into the terrifying rat he really is. Using his apparently retractile claws, Ratigan slashes Basil’s clothes and strikes him several times. He then knocks Basil off the clock hand, sending him falling as the clock begins to chime the Westminster Quarters. Ratigan claims his victory, until he looks down to see that Basil has managed to grasp onto the dirigible propeller, and he rings Ratigan’s bell (which nobody, including Ratigan, knows when or how he managed to pickpocket), a brief warning for the Great Bell striking 10:00. The vibrations shake Ratigan from the clock’s hour hand. As he falls, Ratigan catches hold of Basil, and they both fall into the clouds. After a few tense moments, Basil emerges alive using the severed dirigible propeller.

Later, back at Baker Street, Basil and Dawson recounts their adventures as well as the queen’s gratitude to their saving her life. The scene is interrupted by a distraught new client. Basil then persuades Dawson to remain as “my trusty associate, Doctor Dawson, with whom I do all my cases.”

REVIEW:

This has long been one of my favorite Disney films. After all these years, I still love it.

I remember when I first saw it back in the mid 80s. The sheer beauty of the animation took me aback even at that young age.

The fight scene in Big Ben is awesome and one of the first uses of CGI.

Vincent Price’s voice is perfect as Rattigan as he gives a mixture of psychosis and distinction. For the longest time I thought he was the most evil Disney villain…until Jafar from Aladdin.Keep in mind when I first saw this, I was not aware of Malificent and many of the earlier villains.

As with pretty much every Disney film, there is an annoying child. Olivia Flaversham gets on my nerves. Not really sure why, though.

There are very few Disney films that don’t knock it out of the park, and this one definately hits a home run. It’s really quite a shame it isn’t more well known, though. You should check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Shortcut to Happiness

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jabez Stone (Alec Baldwin) is a desperate, down on his luck writer who reaches rock bottom when his close friend, Julius Jensen (Dan Aykroyd), finds success. Thwarted in his attempts to get his work published, he meets a beautiful stranger (Jennifer Love Hewitt) who offers him a chance at fame and fortune in exchange for his soul. Stone, having lost faith in himself, agrees to the offer.

After accepting the deal Jabez is quickly lavished with all he had ever dreamed of. A book deal, money, women, notoriety, Stone now had it all. However, despite the success, he is losing the friendship, respect and trust of those around him. Coming to the realization that he didn’t quite get everything he bargained for, Stone begs the Devil to release him from their deal. When the Devil scoffs he turns to famed orator Daniel Webster (Anthony Hopkins). The two conclude that they should take the battle to court with Webster defending Stone in an otherworldly trial against the Devil in the ultimate battle of wits in a fight over the fate of Stone’s soul.

REVIEW:

I had heard stories of the duel between the devil and Daniel Webster, and after hearing that they made a film based on it, I was expecting something big. However, I was disappointed that they went the dramatic route with the story. Having said that, this film isn’t half bad.

This film was filmed in 2001, but not released until 2007 because of financial reasons. This explains why Alec Baldwin looks so much thinner and younger than he does when you see him on 30 Rock. Now that thinner physique he used to have doesn’t mean he was any less of an actor. His performance may not be one of his more memorable roles, but it is pretty good.

Sir Anthony Hopkins, per his usual self, is stellar and distinguished as Daniel Webster. Honestly, who else could play one of the great orators of all time?

Jennifer Love Hewitt just doesn’t sell the sexy devil image for me. Nothing against her. I happen to think she’s quite hot, but this role wasn’t meant for her. Of course, the last sexy devil to grace the screen was Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled, so she had quite the task of filling those (stiletto) shoes.

Dan Akroyd’s character seemed a bit one dimensional to me, but he did seem to gain a bit more depth and character as the judge at Jabez’s trial.

This film wasn’t very well received, marketed, and the fact that it was held off being released for 6 years should be a red flag, but there are a few good moments. The opening credits are pretty interesting, albeit misleading. Watching them put me in the mind of Mannequin or other comedies, but this film is far from being a comedy. It’s still a good watch, though.

3 out of 5 stars

The Toxic Avenger

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , on January 26, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Melvin Ferd (Mark Torgl) is a stereotypical 98-pound weakling. He works as a janitor at a health club in the town of Tromaville, where the customers–particularly Bozo (Gary Schneider), Slug (Robert Pritchard), Wanda (Jennifer Babtist) and Julie (Cindy Manion)–harass him constantly. His tormentors get more and more violent until he is tricked into wearing a pink tutu and kissing a sheep. He is then chased around the health club by witnesses of the event where he eventually jumps out of a second story window. He lands in a drum of toxic waste and is irradiated and deformed by the accident. He suddenly lights on fire and runs down the street in a ball of flames. Melvin quickly takes a bath and mysteriously transforms into a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength.

Later, a group of drug dealers, led by the criminal Cigar Face (Dan Snow), are harassing a police officer by the name of O’Clancy (Dick Martinsen), trying to buy him off. When he refuses to accept the money, Cigar Face and his gang prepare to kill Officer O’Clancy. Out of nowhere, a large creature comes and saves the day, showing in a brutally violent way that he does not like evil in any form. When he is done taking care of them he puts a mop on all their faces, which becomes his call sign. Officer O’Clancy is initially terrified of the creature but soon learns he was only trying to help and will not hurt him.

The officer’s rescuer was the Toxic Avenger (Toxie), who is Melvin having been transformed by the incident. He then tries to return home but his mother is terrified of him and will not even let him in the house. The Toxic Avenger then goes to the junkyard and builds himself a makeshift home.

Elsewhere in Tromaville, a gang of three men are holding up a Mexican food restaurant. The men kill one of the patrons, and then attack a blind woman named Sarah (Andree Maranda). They kill her guide dog and are about to rape her when The Toxic Avenger arrives. Toxie then has another bloody brawl with crime, taking care of the gang with unforgiving zeal. The Toxic Avenger sees that Sarah is beside herself by the loss of her dog and the traumatic experience. He takes her back to her home, where they begin to get to know one another and subsequently become involved.

When the Toxic Avenger goes back to his crime fighting ways, he makes way for the health club. There, he takes care of the popular girl Wanda who was involved in the plot that turned him into the creature he is now. Afterward, Toxie is relieving himself in a back alley when a limo pulls up and a pimp tries to push a 12-year-old girl onto him. When he starts to fight back to save the girl, a group of men come out of the limo, in which he fights them all off and saves the girl. The Toxic Avenger returns to the health club and attacks the other tormentors who were responsible for what happened to him. He then confronts his archenemies Bozo and Slug, ending in Slug getting thrown out of a moving car and Bozo driving off the side of a cliff.

The leader of the crime ring in Tromaville, who turns out to be Mayor Belgoody (Pat Ryan Jr.), is horrified of what is happening to his goons. He is worried that it will lead back to him and wants Toxieto be taken care of. A group of men, lead by none other than Cigar Face, surround Toxie all pointing guns at him. Right before they fire he jumps up to a fire escape and they end up shooting each other. When the Toxic Avenger kills a seemingly innocent old woman in a dry cleaning store (she is in fact a leader of an underground white slave trade), Belgoody looks at this as his opportunity and calls in the National Guard.

Back in his junkyard home, the Toxic Avenger is terrified of what he has become. He and Sarah decide to move away from the city and take a tent into nearby woods. They are not there long before they are discovered. The Mayor and the National Guard come to kill him but the people of Tromaville will have none of it. The Toxic Avenger saved them on numerous occasions and they are now his friends. The Mayor’s evil ways are revealed, and the Toxic Avenger proceeds to rip out Belgoody’sorgans to see if he has "any guts". The movie ends with a reassurance that wherever evil brews in Tromaville, you will find the Toxic Avenger.

REVIEW:

As far as movies go, this isn’t that great, but at the same time the cheesy factor has made it an entertaining cult classic.

The story is pretty much you typical nerd gets pushed around too far, something happens to him, and then he gets a hot girl and revenge. Granted, the hot girl is blind, but you get the picture.

I’m not really surprised that no one in this film has had a career other than this film, as I said it’s not that great of a movie, even by early 80s standards. The special effects and make up seem more like those you would expect to see in a film student’s assignment. However, I can look past all that and really enjoy everything about this picture.

Obviously, the filmmakers set out to make a movie that would entertain rather than win awards, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I actually applaud them for that. Too bad, filmmakers today have forgotten that people go to the movies to be entertained. This isn’t a must see picture by any stretch of the imagination, but it is worth a viewing, especially if you just want to be entertained or are into satire.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Afro Samurai Resurrection

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Afro has found peace and no longer fights, but one stormy night Kuma and Sio finds Afro and takes the number one headband from him. Sio than tells Afro her plans to resurrect his dead father so she can torture him, upon hearing this Afro decides to find and reclaim the Number Two headband once more, as only the Number Two can defeat the Number One. Sio wants revenge on Afro for the people he has killed on his journey to become the number one, she blames Afro for what has happened to Jinno (Kuma), during Sio’s flashback it is shown that Sio is actually Jinnos little sister.

REVIEW:

As I was watching this film tonight, I got to thinking why hadn’t I checked out the series before? I’m not a huge anime fan, but when a good one comes to my attention, I tend to love it to death. Afro Samuraimay be that next anime that fits the category.

Samuel L. Jackson is perfect for the role of Afro Samurai and his antithesis Ninja Ninja who is the Sam Jackson we’re more familiar with (loud and boisterous).

Lucy Liu’s charcterixation of Sio put me in the mind of a dominatrix. At the same time, it sounded like she was having fun with it.

I would imagine that after I watch the series, I’ll appreciate this film alot more, but I still found myself quite interested in it. The animation is top notch. The action is well drawn and animated. The cast seem to be really into the script and the ending leads one to believe that this isn’t the end of Afro Samurai. All I have to say is that you should really check it out. It’s worth it!

5 out of 5 stars

Alice in Wonderland

Posted in Classics, Disney, Family, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

On the bank of a tranquil river, Alice grows bored listening to her sister read aloud from a history book. Alice sees a White Rabbit wearing a waistcoat and carrying a large pocket watch. She follows him and tumbles down a rabbit hole and her skirt around her dress billows out like a parachute . At the bottom, she follows the Rabbit into a large chamber but he escapes through a tiny door. The Doorknob suggests Alice drink from a bottle marked “Drink me.” The contents shrink her to a tiny fraction of her original size. The Doorknob is now locked, but the key has appeared back on the table which she can no longer reach. The Doorknob directs her to a cookie marked “Eat me.” The cookie makes her grow so large that her head hits the ceiling. She begins to cry; her massive tears flood the room. The Doorknob points out that the “Drink me” bottle still has some fluid left inside, so she finishes the last drop. She becomes so small that she drops inside the bottle. Both she and the bottle drift through the doorknob’s keyhole mouth and out to a sea made from Alice’s tears.

On shore, a Dodo leads a group of animals in a futile caucus-race to get dry. Alice meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee, two fat brothers who recite “The Walrus and the Carpenter”. Alice sneaks away to the White Rabbit’s house. The Rabbit orders Alice to fetch his gloves. Inside the house, Alice eats a cookie. She becomes so large that she gets stuck inside the house. The Dodo tries to help by sending Bill the Lizard down the chimney and then setting the house on fire. Alice eats a carrot from the garden and shrinks down to three inches high.

Alice chases after the Rabbit again, this time into a garden of tall flowers who consider her a weed and throw her out. She engages a hookah-smoking caterpillar who turns into a butterfly, though not before giving her cryptic advice about the mushroom she is sitting on. Alice breaks off two pieces and nibbles them alternately until finally restoring herself to her normal size.

Alice receives mysterious directions from the Cheshire Cat, an eerily grinning feline that can disappear and reappear at will, which lead her to the garden of the March Hare, who is celebrating his “unbirthday” with the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse. Alice grows tired of their rudeness and decides to go home, abandoning her pursuit of the White Rabbit. She is lost and despondent among the strange creatures of the Tulgey Wood until the Cheshire Cat reappears and shows her a short-cut out of the forest.

In the hedge maze garden, Alice meets some playing cards painting white roses red. The White Rabbit heralds the arrival of the bellicose Queen of Hearts, the diminutive King, and a card army. She invites Alice to a strange game of croquet using flamingos as mallets, hedgehogs as balls, and card soldiers as wickets. The Cheshire Cat plays a prank on the Queen, who blames Alice and orders her execution. The King suggests that Alice be put on trial instead. At the trial, Alice’s nonsensical acquaintances condemn her. At the Queen’s command of “Off with her head!” all the crazy inhabitants of Wonderland give chase.

Coming back to the Doorknob, Alice is told by him that he is still locked, but that she is already on the other side. Looking through the keyhole, Alice sees herself asleep in the park. As the mob draws nearer, she calls, “Alice, wake up!” to her sleeping self until she gradually awakens from the dream to the sound of her sister’s voice. The two of them return home for teatime while Alice muses on her adventures in Wonderland, realizing that perhaps logic and reason exist for a purpose.

REVIEW:

I’ve always found this to be one of the most under appreciated Disney films, despite its popularity.  I can’t think of anyone that acknowledges it for its beautiful animation or outstanding story, not to mention the beautiful song, “Golden Afternoon.”

There are a few differences from Lewis Carroll’s book, but they are subtle and unless you actually have read the book, not even really noticeable. 

Wonderland is a virtual wonderland of colors and imaginative characters that you come to expect from Disney, especially during the time this was released, which was the heyday of Disney’s animation.

 One of the best Disney films. That’s all I have to say. Go check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Donnie Darko

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Donnie Darko (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) is a troubled teenager in suburban Virginia in October 1988. He appears to be suffering the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. At the start of the film, he has recently stopped taking his medication. His parents, Rose and Eddie (Mary McDonnell and Holmes Osborne) and his sisters, Elizabeth and Samantha (Maggie Gyllenhaal and Daveigh Chase), are concerned about him. One night at dinner, Donnie and his sister get into a profane argument during which Elizabeth reveals she knows Donnie is no longer taking his medication. Rose confronts Donnie in his bedroom and he calls her a “bitch”. Guiltily, Donnie resumes taking his medication. On October 2, however, he sleepwalks and meets Frank (James Duval), a man in a menacing bunny costume. Frank tells him that in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, the world will end. That night, a jet engine mysteriously crashes through the roof of the Darkos’ house, destroying Donnie’s bedroom.

As Eddie drives Donnie to the office of Dr. Thurman (Katharine Ross), Donnie’s therapist, Eddie nearly runs over Roberta Sparrow, also known as “Grandma Death” (Patience Cleveland). A senile old woman who spends her days walking back and forth from her house to the mailbox across the street, Grandma Death whispers in Donnie’s ear that all living things die alone. This greatly troubles Donnie, who worries that life has no meaning.

A few days later, Frank appears to Donnie in a hallucination and urges him to flood the private school he attends by breaking open the water main with an axe. Donnie also embeds the axe in the head of the school’s solid bronze statue of its mascot and spray-paints “They made me do it” on the sidewalk. School is canceled that day and Donnie walks Gretchen (Jena Malone), the new girl in school, home. She reveals that her stepfather nearly killed her mother and is still on the loose. Donnie reveals his own troubled past as well as his intelligence. Gretchen calls Donnie weird (which was a compliment in her case), which then prompts Donnie to ask Gretchen to be his girlfriend. She quickly agrees.

Donnie has a troubled relationship with the faculty at his high school. Ms. Pomeroy (Drew Barrymore) appreciates his intellect and ability to engage with and understand the difficult material she assigns them to read in English class. The science teacher, Dr. Monnitoff (Noah Wyle), finds his questions hard to take on due to staff limitations on religion, and Kitty Farmer (Beth Grant), the highly strung and socially conservative health instructor, is offended that he questions her use of self-help tapes in class. After he profanely rejects her use of the simplistic methods espoused by local celebrity Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze), Donnie finds himself suspended from after-school activities. When Donnie verbally assaults Cunningham during an appearance at the high school, he gets in even deeper trouble.

Frank continues to appear to Donnie and tells Donnie that they can do anything and won’t get caught. Frank also tells Donnie about time travel, further confusing him. Soon, Donnie sees tubes of fluid light extending out of his family’s chests, indicating where they will go. His own tube beckons him to follow as it enters his parents’ room and reveals the gun his father keeps in a box in the closet. Donnie speaks about time travel with Dr. Monnitoff who gives him a book, “The Philosophy of Time Travel,” written by Roberta Sparrow. She used to be a nun and a teacher at the high school. However, the climate at the school is becoming increasingly conservative as Kitty Farmer leads a protest against Ms. Pomeroy’s choice of reading material; one of the stories she had assigned, Graham Green’s “The Destructors,” features teenagers who flood a man’s house by breaking a water pipe. Ms. Pomeroy is fired and Dr. Monnittoff, who is also her boyfriend, refuses to discuss time travel with Donnie once his questions take a theological direction.

Gretchen and Donnie grow closer. She is one of the few people he opens up to about his time travel visions, and they discuss how they wish they could travel back in time and prevent the bad things in their lives from happening. Dr. Thurman increases Donnie’s medication and begins hypnotherapy with him. But Frank continues to appear to Donnie. One night, Donnie and Gretchen go to see the cult horror film The Evil Dead. Gretchen falls asleep and Frank appears. When Donnie asks Frank why he wears a “stupid bunny suit,” Frank asks Donnie why he wears a “stupid man suit,” then acquiesces and takes the head off, revealing a young adult (who looks like Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Frank) with a gruesome wound in his right eye. When Donnie asks about the cause of the eye wound, Frank whispers “I am so sorry” and then directs Donnie’s attention to the movie screen. A portal opens, revealing Jim Cunningham’s house. Frank tells Donnie to burn it to the ground. Donnie leaves the sleeping Gretchen in the theatre and does as Frank tells him to. He is not caught, and firefighters discover a dungeon of child pornography in a hidden room in the mansion. Cunningham is arrested the next morning. Kitty Farmer, a friend and devoted follower of Cunningham’s, decides she must lead his public defense and asks Rose to accompany the school’s dance team, Sparkle Motion, to Los Angeles to appear on Star Search. Samantha is Sparkle Motion’s lead dancer and, against her better judgment, Rose agrees. Eddie is away on business, so this means Elizabeth and Donnie are on their own.

Elizabeth is accepted into Harvard, and she and Donnie decide to throw a Halloween party to celebrate. The night of the party (October 30), Gretchen comes to Donnie’s house for safety because her mother has suddenly disappeared. Donnie comforts her and they presumably have sex, ignoring phone calls from Donnie’s desperate therapist (who knows that Donnie is responsible for the vandalism to the high school and Jim Cunningham’s house) and Rose, who calls to announce that Sparkle Motion won their initial Star Search competition and that they will return on a red eye flight that night.

At midnight, Donnie has another hallucination about the fluid light tunnels. He realizes that the 28 days have passed, and that only 6 hours remain until the end of the world. Convinced that Grandma Death is in some way connected to Frank, Donnie persuades Gretchen and two other friends to go with him to her house. When they get there, they are assaulted by the high school’s resident bullies (Alex Greenwald and Seth Rogen). Gretchen is thrown dazed into the road, where she is struck and killed by a car driven by Frank (James Duval), Elizabeth’s boyfriend who is on his way to their Halloween party. Frank is wearing the creepy bunny costume that Donnie’s hallucination wears. Donnie uses his father’s gun to shoot Frank in the right eye, killing him, he then carries Gretchen’s body to his home. He steals the car keys from a sleeping Elizabeth and, taking Gretchen’s body with him, drives into the hills above town.

From that vantage point, Donnie can see a time tunnel forming over the town. The red eye flight carrying Rose, Eddie, Samantha and Sparkle Motion enters the turbulence created by the time tunnel, and one of the engines on the jet breaks free and falls into the tunnel. Donnie looks at Gretchen with love and the primary universe is reset to October 2nd.

It is back to October 2. Donnie is in bed, creating predestination paradox. On this occasion, he chooses to stay in bed (presumably to save the girlfriend he will never meet). Shortly after he goes to sleep, the jet engine from the red eye flight on October 30 crashes through the roof, killing him (In a deleted scene director’s cut DVD it is revealed that he was actually impaled by a piece of wood from the broken roof while in an act of self-gratification ). All the people affected by Donnie’s actions awake as if from a nightmare, having some fragments of memories remaining. Frank, Elizabeth’s boyfriend, unconsciously touches his right eye. Jim Cunningham, in guilt and remorse for being a pedophile, and perhaps above all a hypocrite and phony, awakens crying. As Donnie’s body is taken away, Gretchen, having never met Donnie, rides by on her bicycle. She learns from a neighbor what has happened and waves to Rose, who is smoking a cigarette. There is an air of mutual recognition between them.

REVIEW:

I purposefully avoided this film for the longest time. The poster and DVD cover creeped me out and really turned me away from the film as it gave me the impression that this was a horror film.

I belive this is one of the few times Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal have been on screen togther. Make no mistake this is Jake’s movie, though. Maggie is just there in a supporting role as his sister (big stretch, huh?) Before this, though, I believe Jake’s only starring role was in Bubble Boy.Quite a change in direction, I’d say, not to mention the proof that he can really act.

Jena Malone really gives a great performance and is an underrated actress. Patrick Swayze, Noah Wylie, and Drew Barrymore’s appearances are nothing short of surprising and their roles are crucial to the film.

I’ll be the first to admit that this film confused me the first time I saw it, but each time I see it, things get clearer. Some films just do that I guess. Especially these psychological types, but I will admit that it is a pretty solid film. A person can really start to feel for Donnie as he’s going through his journey, especially at the end. not to mention care for him and his new girlfriend. If you’re into psychological thrillers, then you’ll enjoy this.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

American Pie

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Set in 1999, four Michigan high school seniors make a pact to lose their virginity before their high school graduation after a geeky classmate, Chuck Sherman (Chris Owen) claims to have done so at a party at fellow classmate Steve Stifler’s (Seann William Scott) house.

Kevin Myers (Thomas Ian Nicholas), the initiator of the pact, tries to repair his relationship with his girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid) after they have a serious fight at the party when she accuses him of being with her only for sex. Chris ‘Oz’ Ostreicher (Chris Klein), who is on the high school lacrosse team with Stifler, joins the jazz choir to pick up girls, as the girls in the band know little of his insensitive jock reputation. Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), the mochaccino-drinking sophisticate, pays Vicky’s friend Jessica (Natasha Lyonne) $200 to spread rumours around the school of his sexual prowess, hoping that it will increase his chances of success.

Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) pursues Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), an exchange student from (former) Czechoslovakia. After she comes to Jim’s house to study with him, she has to change clothes after her ballet practice, so Stifler convinces Jim to set up a web-cam so they can watch her change. Jim quickly heads over to Kevin’s house to watch with him. Once he gets there Nadia is seen on the computer discovering his pornography collection hidden in his dresser, and instead of being offended, she begins looking through it while masturbating.

Kevin urges Jim to go back home, saying this is his best opportunity to lose his virginity. Jim arrives and Nadia orders him to strip. Meanwhile, it becomes apparent that he had incorrectly addressed the email with the web-cam link to Kevin and Stifler, having instead sent the link to every mailbox in the school directory; virtually the entire student body are watching.

As Jim slowly caresses her leg up to her genitals, he climaxes prematurely. As Nadia is about to leave, he convinces her to stay, but upon seeing her nude and touching her pubic area, he climaxes prematurely again, humiliating himself in front of the entire student body. In his desperation, Jim asks band geek Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan) to the senior prom as she is apparently the only girl at his school who did not see what happened.

Finch, meanwhile, has his own problems. Stifler, angry that a girl turned him down for the prom because she was waiting for Finch to ask her, puts a laxative into Finch’s mochaccino. Finch, being paranoid about the lack of cleanliness in the school restrooms, and unable to go home to use the toilet as he usually does, is tricked by Stifler to use the girls’ restroom. Afterward, he emerges before all the other students at school, humiliated and is left dateless.

At the prom, everything seems hopeless for the four boys until Vicky asks the girl that Chuck Sherman claimed to have bedded about her “first time”. She proclaims to everyone at the prom that she and Sherman did not have sex at Stifler’s party, leaving Sherman embarrassed and making him wet himself. The revelation takes the pressure off of Jim, Kevin, Oz and Finch, and they head to the post-prom party with new hope.

At the after-party at Stifler’s house, all four boys fulfil their pledge. Kevin and Vicky have made up and have sex in an upstairs bedroom, but the act is very awkward. Vicky breaks up with Kevin afterwards on the grounds that they will drift apart when they go to college, with him attending the University of Michigan and her at Cornell University.

Oz confesses the pact to Heather (Mena Suvari), a girl from the jazz choir, and renounces it, saying that just by them being together makes him a winner. They fall in love, begin a relationship, and ends up making love on the porch though the reformed Oz never admits that they did.

Finch strays downstairs to the basement recreation room where he meets Stifler’s mother (Jennifer Coolidge). She is aroused by his maturity, and they have sex on the pool table. Stifler finds them together in the morning and faints.

Jim and Michelle have sex after he finds out that she saw the “Nadia Incident” after all. She accepted his offer to be his date because of it, knowing he was a “sure thing”, but she makes him wear two condoms to combat his earlier ‘problem’ with Nadia. Jim is surprised by Michelle’s unexpectedly aggressive behaviour in bed. In the morning he wakes up to find her gone, she used him for a one-night stand, which Jim thinks is “cool”.

The morning after the prom Jim, Kevin, Oz and Finch eat breakfast at their favourite restaurant where they toast to “the next step.”

REVIEW:

Back in the 80s, there were tons of sex comedies. Then, the 90s came and they seemed to disappear, until American Pie. Still regarded as one of the best sex comedies and the film that brought us the term “MILF”, there is not doubt in my mind after watching it again that it will withstand the test of time.

The cast of this film was comprised of virtual unknowns. Here it is 10 yrs later and many of them, especially Shannon Elizabeth and Sean William Scott, have gone on to bigger and better things, but none of them have been sitting around cashing residual checks from this film.

The pie scene is best seen in the unrated version, because the theatrical release isn’t as shocking. However, it is the highlight of the film, aside from the introduction of Stifler’s mom and Michelle’s final band camp tale.

All in all this is a very good film, but as with many sex comedies, it’s not for everyone. Proceed with caution if you’re easily offended, otherwise watch and enjoy.

4 out of 5 stars

Underworld

Posted in Action/Adventure, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Perched on the ledge of a building in a rainy night, two black-garbed vampires known as “Death Dealers” track a pair of werewolves who are walking on the street below in their human form. The vampires, Selene and Rigel, specialize in assassinating an ancient species of werewolves known as Lycans. Selene’s motivation goes beyond duty; she also wants revenge, for she believes that Lycans slaughtered her family when she was a child. The vampires believe that they defeated the werewolves many centuries ago and killed their leader, Lucian, and that they must now kill off the survivors. As the vampires follow the Lycans into a subway station, the werewolves open fire with submachine guns. In the chaotic shootout, Selene realizes that the Lycans may have been following a human, Michael Corvin, which would be very unusual behavior. After the Lycans retreat from Selene’s barrage of machine pistol fire, she tracks them to their lair, where she hears loud howling and finds out that the Lycans have developed a new high-tech bullet to kill the vampires.

When Selene arrives at the vampire coven’s ornate, gated mansion, she recounts the evening’s events, and urges an attack on the Lycans, but the vampire regent Kraven tells her to drop the matter. Selene secretly continues her investigation, to find out why the Lycans were chasing a human. Meanwhile, in an underground Lycan lair, a scientist named Singe is testing blood from kidnapped descendants of the Corvinus family, to try to find a pure source of the ancient and powerful Corvinus blood type. Soon after Selene finds Michael, the pair are attacked by werewolves, including Lucian, the original Lycan leader, who still lives. After Lucian bites Michael on the shoulder, Selene helps Michael escape, and the two become romantically attracted to each other.

Meanwhile, Selene finds out that when Lucian was killed, Kraven was the only witness. Sensing a conspiracy between Kraven and Lucian, she wakes a powerful elder vampire, Viktor, who has been in hibernation. But Viktor chooses to believe Kraven and orders Selene to acquiesce to the vampire hierarchy. Meanwhile, Kraven has already planned to kill Amelia (an elder vampire ally) and her group along with Lucian’s help. Selene then escapes from the mansion to help Michael.

Selene tells Michael about the feud and her past. After Lycans attack Selene and Michael, Selene captures Singe, a lycan scientist; while Michael is captured by Lycans. Selene brings back the wounded Singe, who admits to Viktor that the Lycans have been trying to combine the bloodlines of the two species with the Corvinus Strain to create a powerful Vampire-Lycan hybrid. After Kraven flees the mansion (because Singe reveals that Kraven and Lucian are working together), news arrives that Amelia, who was coming to awaken Marcus, has been killed by Lycans. Viktor kills Singe and instructs Selene to kill Michael.

Meanwhile, in the Lycan lair where Michael is being held captive, he learns that long ago, Lucian took Viktor’s daughter as his bride. When Viktor learned of her pregnancy, he killed her to prevent any crossing of the two species, which led to the war. Kraven tells Selene Viktor killed her family, which Viktor admits. Viktor and the now hybridized Michael fight, leading to Selene killing Viktor. Selene and Michael flee the Lycan lair, now an enemy from both Lycan and Vampire covens. Back at the mansion, Singe’s blood seeps through the trapdoor of the sarcophagus of the remaining elder, Marcus, a carrier of the original Corvinus Strain.

REVIEW:

I’ll be the first to admit that the thing that drew me to this film initially was the fact that Kate Beckinsale would be running around in spandex leather. I wasn’t expecting much from the film itself, but ended up being pleasantly surprised.

Aside from being a fine pience of eye candy, Kate Beckinsale gives a strong performace as Selene. She can come off as cold, but that’s part of her character.

The rest of the cast isn’t really worth mentioning, except Bill Nighy. That’s not to say they’re not good actors, just not household names. Back to Nighy, as Viktor he is creepy and before his skinny fully metastasizes, he is downright scary. I wonder if this is how he got the role of Davy Jones inPirates of the Caribbean films.

The action scenes in this film are comparable to those in The Matrix. Yes, they’re that good. The Lycans transformation is some of the best that’s been captured on film. I’ve read other accounts that have said it is nearly impossible to portray a believable werewolf transformation on screen. Well, Underworld does it.

Michael comes off as annoying and at times he seems to be in the way. I would also have liked to have gotten a bit more background on the relationship between Selene and Kraven and where exactly it went sour. That’s just me, though.

This is classified as a horror film, but I found it more as an action film with horror elements. It’s a really good film, and how can you go wrong with Kate Beckinsale in tight clothing? Definitely worth a viewing!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

300

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Over Dilios’ narration, the life of young Leonidas is depicted. Cast into the wild to fend for his life per Spartan doctrine, Leonidas survives the harsh winter and returns home to be crowned King.

Years later, messengers arrive at the gates of Sparta demanding its submission to King Xerxes. Outraged and offended by their threats and behavior, King Leonidas and his guards kick the messengers into a well. Acknowledging the threat of Xerxes’s invasion force, he visits the Ephors proposing a strategy to repel the numerically superior enemy by using the terrain of Thermopylae (the Hot Gates), which would funnel the Persians into a narrow pass between the rocks and the sea. The Ephors, wary of Leonidas’ plans, consult the Oracle, who in her trance decrees that Sparta must not go to war, lest they interrupt the sacred Carneian festival. As Leonidas departs a messenger from Xerxes appears, rewarding the Ephors a mountain of gold in return for their covert support.

Despite the Oracle’s orders, Leonidas decides on a leisurely walk to the Hot Gates, gathering 300 of his best soldiers to act as his personal bodyguards. Along the way, they are joined by a force consisting of Arcadians and various other Greeks before arriving at the Hot Gates of Thermopylae. In sight of the approaching Persian army, they construct a wall to contain the Persians’ advance. Leonidas meanwhile encounters Ephialtes, a hunchbacked Spartan who requests a private audience with the King. A severely disfigured child, his parents fled Sparta to spare him certain infanticide. Ephialtes asks to redeem his father’s name by joining Leonidas in battle against the Persians and warns him of a secret goat path the Persians could use to outflank and surround them. Leonidas is sympathetic to the eager warrior, but rejects him upon realizing that Ephialtes cannot properly hold a shield, which would compromise the Spartans’ phalanx.

Prior to the battle the Persians demand that the Spartans “lay down their weapons.” Leonidas refuses and challenges the Persians to come and get them. With their tightly-knit phalanx formation, the Spartans funnel the Persians into the narrow terrain, repeatedly rebuffing them and inflicting heavy casualties. Xerxes, impressed with Spartan fighting skill, personally approaches Leonidas to persuade him to surrender. He promises Leonidas wealth and power in exchange for his loyalty. Leonidas declines, promising instead to make the “God King” bleed, and turns to rejoin his army. Dismayed at the refusal, Xerxes dispatches the feared Immortal (his elite personal guard), whom the Spartans draw into a trap and narrowly defeat. The battles continue, with the Spartans prevailing over soldiers and animals drawn from the vast reaches of the Persian empire: from Mongolian barbarians and Eastern chemists to African rhinoceroses and Indian war elephants. After two days of fighting however, an embittered Ephialtes defects to Xerxes and reveals the location of the goat path.

In Sparta, Queen Gorgo attempts to enlist the influential Theron to help persuade the Spartan council to send reinforcements to Leonidas. Theron agrees, but demands that Gorgo submit sexually to him, to which she reluctantly consents. At the Hot Gates, the Greeks realize Ephialtes’ treachery and the Arcadians’ retreat in the face of certain death. The Spartans, obedient to their law, refuse to follow, and Leonidas orders a reluctant Dilios to return and orate the story of the valiant 300 to ensure their memory. In Sparta, Queen Gorgo appeals to the council but is betrayed by Theron, who publicly accuses her of adultery in an attempt to discredit her. Enraged by his betrayal, Gorgo snatches a sword and kills Theron, rupturing a bag of Xerxes’ gold in the folds of his robe and spilling it onto the ground. With this evidence, the Council denounces Theron as a traitor and unites against Persia.

At the Hot Gates, as the Persians surround the Spartans, Xerxes’s general demands their surrender, declaring that Leonidas may keep his title as King of Sparta and become Warlord of all Greece, answerable only to Xerxes. Ephialtes begs him to do so as well, to which Leonidas remarks “May you live forever,” an insult from a culture valuing death and valor in battle. Leonidas drops his shield and removes his helmet, seemingly bowing in submission. Stelios then leaps over him and kills the general. A furious Xerxes orders his troops to attack. As Persian archers shoot the remaining Spartans, Leonidas rises and hurls his spear at Xerxes, ripping open his cheek (and missing a fatal blow by mere centimetres), thus making “the God-King bleed.” Xerxes, visibly disturbed by this reminder of his own mortality, watches as the remaining Spartans perish beneath the combined might of his army.

Concluding his tale before an audience of attentive Spartans, Dilios declares that the 120,000-strong Persian army that narrowly defeated 300 Spartans now faces 10,000 Spartans commanding 30,000 Greeks. Praising Leonidas’s sacrifice, Dilios leads the assembled Greek army into a fierce charge against the Persian army, igniting the Battle of Plataea.

REVIEW:

The look of this film is what makes it so amazing, because let’s face it, if you were to go up to Joe Q. Public on the street and ask him if he’d be interested in seeing a historical film, chances are he’s laugh at you.

There isn’t much acting that goes on in this film. A little dialogue here and there. Mostly Gerard Butler’s character screaming inspirational speeches, and a few other scenes with other characters doing this and that, but this film is about the battle scenes.

The scenes are a thing of beauty. Each one carefully choreographed and historically accurate (minus the mythological creatures).

I’m sure the ladies that watch this will drool over the men in nothing but bikini briefs. However, if you’re one of those expecting some sort of love story or anything in this, you’ll be disappointed. Other than a quick love scene near the beginning, this is all about the testosterone.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this film or not, but as I watched it, I found that I lost track of time and it was over before I knew it. That is a sign of a truly excellent and entertaining film.

5 out of 5 stars