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