Archive for February, 2009

Hot Fuzz

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on February 28, 2009 by Mystery Man


Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), an extremely dedicated police officer in London’s Metropolitan Police Service, performs his duties so well that he makes his colleagues look bad. As a result, his superiors transfer him to the sleepy and seemingly crime-free village of Sandford in rural Gloucestershire.

Once there, he immediately arrests a large group of underage drinkers and a drunk driver, who turns out to be his eventual partner, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), a well-meaning but ineffective police constable, the son of local police inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent). A serious action film fan, Danny is in awe of his new big city partner, who just might provide him with his chance to experience the life of gunfights and car chases he longs for. Angel struggles to adjust to the slow, uneventful pace of the village. Despite clearing up several otherwise unnoticed crimes in short order, including confiscating a very large stockpile of military equipment, including a sea mine and a number of unlicensed guns, Angel soon finds his most pressing concern to be an escaped swan. His serious manner and strict attention to the letter of the law also makes him the focus of dislike by some of his co-workers. However, Angel and Danny eventually bond over drinks at the local pub and action films.

Soon after Angel’s arrival, a series of murders disguised as accidents rock the village, all committed by a figure in a black hood and cloak. Increasingly convinced that Sandford is not what it seems and that the victims of the ‘accidents’ were murdered, Angel begins to clash with his colleagues. He refuses to drop the investigation and in front of several police officers announces his arrest of Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), the charming but sinister manager of the local Somerfield supermarket, of murdering the victims due to their involvement in a lucrative property deal. Skinner smoothly and confidently provides plausibly innocent explanations for all of Angel’s charges and goes free, the whole incident further damaging Angel’s credibility with his colleagues.

After being ambushed in his hotel room by the cloaked murderer, whom he knocks unconcious and reveals to be Michael Armstrong (Rory McCann), the enormous trolley boy of the Somerfield acting on Skinner’s orders, Angel is led to a nearby castle where he discovers the truth; Inspector Butterman, Skinner and the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance (NWA), intent on keeping Sandford’s title of “Village of the Year”, have been murdering anyone who might damage the village’s quaint and charming image. The fact that all of the murders that occurred after Angel arrived could be tied together in a property scheme is actually a coincidence, each victim having in fact been murdered for more trivial reasons. Inspector Butterman reveals that his wife committed suicide after the village lost the title many years ago, motivating him to use extreme methods. Angel discovers the bodies of various “problem” people whom the NWA disposed of before and since his arrival, before being cornered and ‘stabbed’ by Danny, apparently a member of the NWA.

Having tricked the NWA into believing that Angel is dead, Danny instead drives him to the village limits and releases him, insisting that he knew nothing about their true activities. Danny urges Angel to go back to London, reasoning that no one would believe the truth about Sandford. However, while at a motorway service station, Angel sees the action films he and Danny watched on a nearby DVD rack and is inspired to stop the NWA. He drives back to town and arms himself with the guns he confiscated earlier. After Angel meets with Danny in the village, the two begin to dispatch the members of the NWA in an increasingly destructive and frantic series of gun fights. Confronted by their colleagues, who are quickly persuaded of the truth, Angel and Danny take the battle to the supermarket. Skinner and Inspector Butterman flee, and are pursued by Angel and Danny to a nearby miniature park. There both Skinner and Inspector Butterman are apprehended.

Angel’s former superiors arrive from London begging him to return, as their crime rate has risen heavily, but Angel chooses to remain in Sandford. Back at the police station, the officers are ambushed by Tom Weaver (Edward Woodward), the last remaining member of the NWA. He attempts to shoot Angel but Danny jumps in the way and takes the bullets himself. In the resulting chaos, the confiscated sea mine is triggered and the station is destroyed.

One year later, Angel lays flowers on a grave marked ‘Butterman’; it is revealed that Danny has survived and the grave is his mother’s. Angel has been promoted to Inspector as the new head of the Sandford Police Service and Danny to Sergeant, and they go back on the beat together in Sandford.


British comedy sometimes gets lost on me, but this film was quite entertaining and funny. I’ve come to the realization that I really like satirical parody type films.

The acting in this film is pretty good. Obviously, you shouldn’t go into this expecting some sort of Oscar winning performance. If you do, you’ll be sadly disappointed.

The murder scenes are a bit over the top, but they work for this type of film.

The action scenes are awesome and leave you wanting more.

I wasn’t really expecting to see this film, but now that I have, I’m glad I did. Granted, its far from being the best film in the world, but it is pretty good. I recommend it to you all!

4 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2009 by Mystery Man


Set two years after the first film, Reed Richards and Sue Storm are preparing for their wedding. A silver object enters Earth’s atmosphere, radiating cosmic energy that creates massive molecular fluctuations and causes deep craters at locations across the Earth. The government approaches Reed to build a sensor to track the movements of the object.

As the wedding begins, Reed’s systems detect the phenomenon approaching New York City, causing a massive power blackout. The object destroys the sensors while the Fantastic Four protect the crowd. The Human Torch pursues the object, discovering that it is a humanoid, a “Silver Surfer.” He confronts the Surfer, who drags Johnny into the upper atmosphere where the lack of oxygen and low air pressure snuffs his flame out, then drops him back toward Earth. Johnny manages to reactivate his powers and survives the fall. Later, when Sue tries to comfort Johnny, she touches his shoulders and their powers switch – he becomes invisible, and she is set on fire; when they touch again their powers revert back. Reed’s examination of Johnny reveals that exposure to the Surfer has set Johnny’s molecular structure in flux, allowing him to switch powers with his teammates through physical contact. Tracing the cosmic energy of the Surfer, Reed discovers that a series of planets the alien had visited before Earth have all been destroyed.

The Surfer’s movements around the globe bring him past Latveria, where the cosmic energy affects Victor von Doom, freeing him from two years as a metal statue. Doom, able to move again but scarred, traces the Surfer to the Arctic and makes him an offer to join forces. When the Surfer rebuffs him, Doom attacks. The Surfer returns fire, blasting Doom through the ice. The cosmic energy of the Surfer’s blast heals Doom’s body, reversing the changes seen in the first film.

Doom leverages his experience into a deal with the American military, who force the Fantastic Four to work with Doom. Deducing that the Surfer’s board is the source of his power, the group develops a pulse generator that will separate him from it. While setting up the device, Sue is confronted by the Surfer, during which he reveals he is merely a servant to the destroyer of worlds, and regrets the destruction he causes. The military opens fire on the Surfer, which distracts him and allows the four to fire the pulse, separating the Surfer from his board. The military imprisons the Surfer in Siberia and forbids the Fantastic Four from interacting with him, while they torture him for information. Sue uses her powers to sneak into his cell, where she learns more information from the Surfer. He tells her his master was known by the people of his world as Galactus, a massive cloud-like cosmic entity which must feed on life-bearing planets to survive, and that his board is a homing beacon which even now summons him to the planet.

Doom, pursuing the power in the board, steals it from the compound, using a device to gain control of the board and its powers. The Fantastic Four rescue the Surfer, and pursue Doom in the Fantasticar, confronting him in Shanghai. During the battle, Sue is mortally wounded. With the Surfer powerless, Johnny absorbs the combined powers of the entire team in order to battle the cosmic energy-empowered Doom. Johnny succeeds in breaking Doom’s control over the Surfer’s board, while Ben Grimm uses a nearby crane to knock Doom into the harbor where he is last seen sinking; however, Galactus has already arrived. The Surfer regains the control of his board, and his power is restored. He revives Sue and chooses to defend Earth, flying into Galactus and confronting him. The conflict results in a massive blast of energy, apparently destroying Galactus.

The film ends with the marriage of Reed and Sue in Japan, and the team’s creation of their signature “4” in the sky with the Fantasticar. The credits cut back to a shot of the Silver Surfer’s seemingly lifeless body floating through space. Just as he drifts off the edge of the screen his eyes open and his board races towards him.


More often than not, sequels don’t live up to their predecessor. This film is one of the exceptions as it surpasses the original in just about every possible way.

The Fantastic Four once again are reprised by the same actors that portrayed them in the first film, and it doesn’t appear as if they lost a step. The interaction between the four of them is spot on with the source material and the acting is very well done.

Julian McMahon returns as Dr. Doom. Again, I don’t think the writers did enough research on the character, but at least in this one he’s more Doomlike and not so much Christian Troy.

The Silver Surfer is pretty impressive, though I don’t see what the issue was with getting him on screen. It looks like they could have used the same technology that as used in Terminator 2 for the liquid Terminator, but I may be over-simplifying things.

As I’ve said before, the main issue with this film is Dr. Doom not being…well…Dr. Doom. Also, they turn Thing back human way too often.  believe I said this in my review of Iron Man, when actors take on a role that they know is going to cover up their face, they need to accept it and not do all they can to not be covered up. It really takes away from the experience.

From what I’ve read, the reasoning for Galactus being a cloud is that they are saving him for the Silver Surfer’s film and didn’t want to give things away. What a load of b.s.! If you’re going to go through all the trouble of bringing him in to a Fantastic Four film, then use him right, don’t waste such an awesome character by casting him as a cloud.

The final thing that annoyed me is a minor thing. Jessica Alba in the first film had her normal colored eyes, but for some reason in this one they gave her blue contacts that didn’t even come close to looking natural.

Any fan of the comic will love this film. The Fantastic Four have always been one of those lighter groups, and this film captures the fun from the books. Unlike certain films that would rather be as dark, moody, emo, and brooding as possible, FF gives the viewer a chance to have fun. *GASP* What a concept!

4 out of 5 stars

The Ladykillers

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2009 by Mystery Man


In this adaptation of the original, the setting of the film is moved from London to Saucier, Mississippi, home of a riverboat casino. Actual filming, however, took place in Natchez, due to the real Saucier being situated in Harrison County and not bordering the Mississippi River.

In a quiet, beautiful community lives Mrs. Marva Munson, an elderly, God-fearing widow who answers the door one sunny morning to find the charming Professor Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, a pretentious Southern dandy, darkening her doorstep. He explains who he is and expresses his interest in the room to let, which is Mrs. Munson’s spare bedroom. He also explains that he is a musician and asks if it would be all right for him to use her basement as a place for recitals with his fellow “musicians”. She accepts the terms and agrees. Mr. Dorr’s fellow “musicians” are actually a gang of criminals, consisting of

  • Lump, the incredibly dumb but tough football player
  • The General, a quiet tough-as-nails donut cook with expertise in tunneling and garroting troublesome individuals (it was implied that his expertise and rank were obtained in the Vietcong)
  • Garth Pancake, a mustached animal trainer for TV commercials with expertise in explosives
  • Gawain, their “inside man”, a young janitor who works on the “Bandit Queen”, a riverboat casino.

With all of their talents combined, the group of criminals plan to dig through the crumbling, dried earth that has piled up to form a tunnel in Mrs. Munson’s basement and conclude that they will emerge in the vault of the casino. To avoid Mrs. Munson’s hearing the digging, they play orchestral CDs (most notably a CD of Boccherini’s Minuet (3rd movement) from String Quintet in E, Op. 13 No. 5 ) of as to seem that they are rehearsing, so she will not get suspicious. They dispose of all the unused dirt in Hefty trash bags.

After a series of comical mishaps that threaten to derail their plan, which include Gawain getting fired from the casino and Garth blowing his finger off in an accidental explosion (while demonstrating the ‘safety’ of C4 to the others), they break through the wall of the vault and snatch the loot, a scheme made even easier by Gawain, who has been rehired at the casino and is able to quickly repair the puncture in the wall. Mr. Pancake is able to rig a small explosion that will collapse the tunnel so it will never be discovered. The explosive seemingly turns out to be a dud, so Pancake ventures down the tunnel and, after examining it, inadvertently re-activates its timer. With about ten seconds before the tunnel collapses, Pancake crawls with all haste to escape, but his Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) starts to act up and this slows him down. It suddenly explodes and he is shot out of the collapsing tunnel and smashes into a table which has the money on it. Upon hearing the rumble, Mrs. Munson walks downstairs and finds out what her tenants have done. Outraged, she tells Dorr in a private conversation to either return the money to the casino and go to church to repent their sins, or else she will call the police. Dorr tells her he will consult the group. Not willing to give up the money, the gang decides to murder her and draw straws to do so.

Gawain loses, and must therefore shoot Mrs. Munson. When he goes to shoot her, he has a flashback of himself at ten years old, coming home with a spaniel puppy in his arms and asking his alcoholic, couch potato of a mother if he can keep it. She refuses and slaps him, claiming “you wait till’ your daddy gets home, he gonna lay into you proppa!”. Upon hearing him murmuring “please momma, I love you. He won’t shit in the house, I’ll train ‘im up proppa and wipe his butt an’ everything”, Mrs. Munson (whom Gawain was visualizing as his mother) demands to know what he is doing with her pillow, and snatches it away. After receiving a slapping, Gawain informs his fellow comrades why he can’t shoot her. An outraged Pancake tells him to accept his responsibilities and shoot her or face the prospect of being a coward, to which the group concurs. During an argument and brawl with Pancake, Gawain accidentally shoots himself in the chest and dies.

Lump and the General dangle the trash bag with Gawain’s body over a bridge and drop it when a huge garbage barge heading out to the garbage island passes below them. Meanwhile, Pancake steals the money and attempts to escape with his girlfriend, Mountain Girl. However, Dorr is no fool, and checks to confirm the money is still present. Dorr sends The General chasing after them, who promptly kills them both with his patented strangling wire, and their bodies are then dumped on the barge.

This time, the General pulls the short straw and walks up to Munson’s bedroom with his wire strangler, planning to strangle her in her sleep. He also back-flips his cigarette into his mouth so that the pungent fragrance of tobacco doesn’t wake Mrs. Munson. As he is about to kill her, he is surprised by an alarm clock sounding and accidentally swallows his lit cigarette. He reaches for a glass of water on the nightstand to get a drink, only to realize this is where Mrs. Munson kept her denture. In disgust, he retreats the glass, and still choking, he staggers backwards into the stairwell and trips over the cat, and falls down the stairs, smashing his head against the wall and breaking his neck, killing him on impact.

When Dorr and Lump dispose of the General on the bridge, Lump suggests to Dorr that they give the money back to the casino. Dorr insists that he is stupid and tells him that he has to do the killing. Lump refuses and tries to shoot Dorr instead because he doesn’t “want to harm a nice old lady”. The gun doesn’t fire, so Lump peeks down the barrel while pulling the trigger. It turns out that Dorr deliberately left one chamber empty, and he gets killed himself ,and falls onto the garbage barge passing under the bridge; timed perfectly due to Dorr’s ability to anticipate Lump’s every thought and move.

Dorr, left standing, discovers a raven sitting on a statue of death, which reminds him of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven”. Being a great admirer of Poe, he pauses to reflect. When the raven flies off, the head of the statue breaks and falls off, hitting Dorr on the head, causing him to fall off of the bridge. His cape catches on the bridge’s underside railings, thus hanging him. His cape soon tears under his weight and he falls onto the barge.

Mrs. Munson wakes up, ignorant of last night’s proceedings. She first inspects the crack in the wall where the General impacted, and then goes down to the basement to find that the gang has seemingly disappeared, leaving all the money behind. The police refuse to believe her story about the robbery, believing her to be lonely and possibly senile. They believe they are just playing along and humoring her, so they tell her to keep the money she found, and agree that she can give it to the “bible school” in the South Carolina, Bob Jones University. In the film’s last moments, Pickles the cat is seen scurrying across the bridge and poking his head over the side with Pancake’s finger in his mouth. He then drops it onto the passing garbage barge, disposing of the last remaining piece of the villains.


I chose to watch this film this week expecting a film more along the lines of Forest Gump. I was pleasantly surprised and entertained with the direction this film went.

Tom Hanks may have a few Oscars under his belt, but this film shows what we got to know him for initially…comedy. Not to mention, it really gives him a chance to flex his acting chops. The eccentric, exemplary performance he gives as the professor is astounding.

Marlon Wayans has stepped out of the Wayans family shadow and has really established himself as an actor, albeit the comic sidekick. However, I will admit, this film may not have been as enjoyable without him.

The rest of the cast is pretty  good as well. It was nice to see George Wallace on screen as the sheriff.

I’m no fan of remakes, but this one is pretty good. Of course, I haven’t seen the original, so I have no basis for comparison.

I didn’t really like how the film introduced the major characters, except Tom Hanks and Marlon Wayans’ characters. They just seemed to cut to a scenes with them, and then the next thing we know they’re appearing with Tom Hanks discussing the casino heist.

Tom Hanks really got into his role, but there were times when he lost me in the use of all those big words. I hate to say that, but its true.

Mountain Girl seems like she should have had a bigger role, and I wish she would have.

The altercation and back and forth between Pancake and Gawain are some of the best scenes in the film.

This is the kind of film that many people will enjoy. It’s a comedy, but not a sex farce or slapstick one. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you watch it, so go watch.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2009 by Mystery Man


After the events of the Toxic Avenger III, when the notorious Diaper Mafia take hostage the Tromaville School for the Very Special, only the Toxic Avenger and his morbidly obese sidekick Lardass can save Tromaville. However, an explosion results in some unforeseeable consequences, creating a dimensional tear between Tromaville and its dimensional mirror image, Amortville. While the Toxic Avenger (Toxie) is trapped in Amortville, Tromaville comes under the control of the superhuman powered hero’s evil doppelgänger, the Noxious Offender (Noxie).


Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten to know the Toxic Avenger and must say that this film is closer to the original than the previous two sequels in term of tone.

There were surprisingly quite a few relatively big names associated with this  film, such as Stan Lee narrating, Ron Jeremy and Cory Feldman is minor roles, and, though his scene was cut, Hugh Hefner. Say what you will, but those are big names compared to everyone else that has acted in the franchise.

I didn’t really care for the new voice of Toxie.  I may just be so used to hearing the previous actor, but for some reason, it just didn’t sound right.

The plot was a little convoluted and slightly confusing, but given the fact that it deal with two dimensions, it was supposed to be. I kinda wished they would have given more of a flashback on Lardass, rather than just a slight summary of where he came from in order to explain who this new guy was.

I’m sure the special needs community was a little outraged by the portrayal of those with disabilities in this film. I know I found it hard at times, but you have to remember this is just a film, and not very rooted in reality.

This was meant to reboot the Toxic Avenger franchise, but didn’t really accomplish that goal. That’s too bad really. As I said before, this is the best in the franchise, second only to the original. Take the time and give it a shot. It’s not the best film in the world, but you will enjoy it.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Hudson Hawk

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2009 by Mystery Man


The story begins with Eddie “Hudson Hawk” Hawkins (Willis), a master burglar and safe-cracker, attempting to celebrate his first day of parole from prison with a cappuccino. Before he can get it, he is blackmailed by various entities, including his own parole officer, a minor Newark Mafia family (headed by Stallone), and the CIA (Coburn along with Caruso and Toussaint and others), into doing several dangerous art heists. Throughout the movie, Hudson attempts to enjoy a cappuccino, but is foiled each time.

The holders of the various players’ puppet strings turn out to be a “psychotic American corporation”, Mayflower Industries, run by a husband-and-wife team (Grant and Bernhard) and their blade-slinging butler. The company, headquartered in the Esposizione Universale Roma (E.U.R.) in Rome, is seeking to take over the world by reconstructing “La Macchina dell’Oro“, a machine purportedly invented by Leonardo da Vinci which converts lead into gold. A special assembly of crystals needed for the machine to function are hidden in a variety of Leonardo’s artworks: the Sforza, the Da Vinci Codex, and a scale model of DaVinci’s helicopter design.

Sister Anna Baragli (MacDowell), initially his tail and later his refuge (and subsequent love interest), is an operative for a secretive Vatican counter-espionage agency, called the Vatican Organization by George Kaplan, which makes an unexplained arrangement with the CIA to assist in the Roman portion of Hudson’s mission, though apparently intending all along to use the connection to foil the robbery at St. Peter’s Basilica.

The movie culminates in a showdown at Leonardo’s castle, between the remaining CIA agents, the Mayflowers, and the team of Hudson, Five-Tone, and Baragli, to stop the Mayflowers from successfully operating the machine.


I find it ironic that Bruce Willis chose to do this film, especially since it is such a blatant attempt at ripping off Die Hard. I guess it just goes to show you that he can make fun of himself.

I’ve seen Bruce in some roles where he just looks totally miserable, but here he looks like he really enjoyed himself. Something that I can’t recall him doing since the days of Moonlighting.

Danny Aiello is a very talented actor, but he seems to always be in the role of the sidekick or some type of mob boss. I can’t fault him for it, though. You gotta do what works for you and roles such as this one really work for him.

Andie McDowell really lit up the screen, especially in the later parts of the film, with her beauty. She gives a very solid performance as the undercover nun.

The rest of the cast isn’t too shabby either, containing names such as Sandra Bernhard, David Caruso, and James Coburn, just to name a few.

The all-knowing critics (note the sarcasm) panned this film, but I didn’t find it as bad they did. As a matter of fact I enjoyed the humor in it. As I often say in these reviews, everything does not need to be dark and serious, so a film like this that is light hearted and doesn’t take itself too serious is more than welcome.

There were parts that I didn’t care for, though. For instance, the whole flashback sense with Da Vinci made sense in terms of introducing what the object being stolen was, but weren’t really necessary. Neither was the book at the beginning and end of the film.

The action was allright, but I think there could have been more. The climactic scene at the castle really blew me away, though.

This is a really enjoyable film, no matter what some people may think. There are times when one just wants to watch something fun and that’s what the purpose of this movie is. So, if you’re looking for something along those lines, this is for you. If you’re looking for something darker, I suggest you stick to the Die Hard franchise.

3 out of 5 stars

Too Many Girls

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2009 by Mystery Man



When East Coast teen Consuelo “Connie” Casey (Lucille Ball) announces her plans to attend the coeducational Pottawatomie College in California, her father agrees — but not before he secretly hires four burly football players to act as her bodyguards. Desi Arnaz, Richard Carlson, Ann Miller, Eddie Bracken and Frances Langford co-star in this rollicking romantic comedy, a frothy musical also notable for being the film on which Ball and Arnaz met.


Like most people, I mainly know Lucille Ball from I Love Lucy. It rarely comes to mind that she had a career before (or after) her mega-successful sitcom. I was impressed seeing by both her beauty and talent as a “Serious” actress.

This is classified as a musical, though it seemed more like a film with some songs interspersed here and there. It is a film version of the Broadway production, so that may have been how it was originally envisioned.

This is the film where Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz met, though they have very few scenes together on screen.

The music is ok. Seeing as how it was scored by the masters Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, I had high expectations, so that may have been why I was a bit disappointed. The music isn’t bad. I just wanted/expected more. At the end, Desi Arnaz comes out with a conga drum and I thought he was going to start singing “Babalu”, but instead the final number (the name escapes me) is what introduced America to the conga line.

Plotwise, the film has an ok plot, especially for the time, but I wasn’t really impressed with it. Something about it seemed a bit flat to me.

For fans of classic films, this is a must see, but for the average movie watcher, this may not be your cup of tea. It is a pretty good film, though and you should consider watching it.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2009 by Mystery Man


The film begins in 1823 as Salieri, as an old man, attempts suicide by slitting his throat while loudly begging forgiveness for having killed a long-deceased Mozart. Placed in a lunatic asylum for the act, he is visited by a young priest who seeks to take his confession. Salieri is sullen and uninterested but eventually warms to the priest and launches into a long “confession” about the relationship between himself and Mozart. As the scenes later cut back to this dialog, it seems as if the telling of the story with the listening priest goes on through the night and into the next day.

Salieri reminisces about his youth, particularly about his devotion to God and his love for music and how he pledges to God to remain celibate as a sacrifice if he can somehow devote his life to music. He describes how his father’s plans for him were to go into business, but Salieri suggests that the sudden death of his father, who choked to death during a meal, was “a miracle” that allowed Salieri to pursue a career in music. In his narrative, he is suddenly an adult joining the 18th century cultural elite in Vienna, the “city of musicians.” Salieri begins his career as a devout, God-fearing man who believes his success and talent as a composer are God’s rewards for his piety. He is content as the court composer for Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II.

Mozart arrives in Vienna with his patron, Count Hieronymus von Colloredo, the Archbishop of Salzburg. While Salieri secretly observes Mozart at the Archbishop’s palace, they are not properly introduced. Salieri see that Mozart off-stage is irreverent and lewd. He also first recognizes the immense talent displayed in the adult works of Mozart. In 1781, when Mozart meets the Emperor, Salieri presents Mozart with a little “March of Welcome,” which he had toiled to create. At this meeting, Mozart first displays a childish high-pitched laugh which is heard, at times, throughout the rest of the film. After hearing the march only once, Mozart spontaneously “improves” this piece with minimal effort, transforming Salieri’s “trifle” into the “Non più andrai” march from his opera The Marriage of Figaro.

Salieri reels at the notion of God speaking through the childish, petulant Mozart, whose music he regards as miraculous. Gradually, Salieri’s faith is shaken. He believes God, through Mozart’s genius, is cruelly laughing at his musical mediocrity. Salieri’s struggles with God are intercut with scenes showing Mozart’s own trials and tribulations with life in Vienna: pride at the initial reception of his music, anger and disbelief over his subsequent treatment by the Italians of the Emperor’s court, happiness with his wife Constanze and his son Wolfgang, and grief at the death of his father Leopold. Mozart becomes more desperate as the family’s expenses increase and his commissions decrease. When Salieri learns of Mozart’s financial straits, he finally sees his chance to avenge himself, using “God’s Beloved” as the instrument.

Salieri hatches a complex plot to gain ultimate victory over Mozart and over God. He wears a mask and costume similar to one he had seen Leopold wear and “commissions” the young composer to write a requiem mass, with a down payment and the promise of an enormous sum upon completion. Mozart begins to write perhaps his greatest work, the Requiem Mass in D minor, unaware of the true identity of his mysterious patron and his scheme: to somehow kill him when the work was complete. Glossing over any details of how he might commit the murder, Salieri dwells on the admiration of his peers and the court as they applauded the magnificent Requiem when he claims that he is the author of the piece. Only Salieri and God would know the truth – that Mozart wrote his own requiem mass, and that God could only watch while Salieri finally received the fame and renown he felt he deserved.

Mozart’s financial woes continue and the composing demands of the Requiem and The Magic Flutedrive him to the point of exhaustion as he alternates work between the two pieces. Constanze leaves him and takes their son with her. His health worsens and he collapses during the premiere performance of The Magic Flute. Salieri takes the stricken Mozart home and tricks him into working on the Requiem. Mozart dictates while Salieri transcribes throughout the night. As Constanze returns that morning, she tells Salieri to leave. Constanze locks the manuscript away despite Salieri’s objections, but as she goes to wake her husband, Mozart is dead. The Requiem is left unfinished, and Salieri is left powerless as Mozart’s body is hauled out of Vienna for burial in a mass grave.

The film ends as Salieri finishes recounting his story to the visibly shaken young priest. Salieri concludes that Godkilled Mozart rather than allow Salieri to share in even an ounce of his glory, and that he is consigned to be the “patron saint of mediocrity.” Salieri absolves the priest of his own mediocrity and blesses his fellow patients as he is taken away in his wheelchair. The last sound heard before the credits roll is Mozart’s comical laughter.


I know that most people these days don’t listen to classical music, and some may not even know who Mozart is. That is quite a sad fact of today’s society. I know this film, with all its historical inaccuracies, is often showed to classes as a way to show them the music of Mozart.

Tom Hulce may best be known as the voice of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame,but he was nominated for a best actor Oscar in this role. After you watch this film, you’ll see why. He gives a riveting performance as the fun-loving and sometimes conflicted Mozart. It’s a shame we haven’t seen more of him since this film.

F. Murray Abraham does a pretty good job of making Salieri the villain of the film, even though history tells us that he had nothing but the utmost respect for Mozart. Abraham best moments are those when he is the aged Salieri, though. It is no wonder he won the Oscar for best actor.

The biggest issue with this film is the historical inaccuracies. As a student of music history, these irk me, but I still enjoy the film.

The opera scenes are done so well, that I actually wanted to go out and see an opera. If you’re going to make a film about a musician, especially Mozart, you better be sure to do his music justice, and they manage to do just that, even in the abbreviated forms that are used.

This film won the Oscar for best picture in 1985 and is listed as one of the best movies of all time. It’s not very hard to see why. As I’ve said before, I’m not really into “artsy-fartsy” movies, but I am a fan of music and Mozart, so of course I was going to watch and love this film. Although it is based on a play and not the actual story, it is very enjoyable and the 3 hours are gone before you know it. I recommend this fully for anyone.

5 out of 5 stars

Men in Black

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2009 by Mystery Man


The MIB, a top-secret agency that polices, monitors and directs alien activity on Earth, has established the Earth as an apolitical “neutral zone” for alien refugees (as Agent K explains, like Casablancawith no Nazis). MIB agents have no identity or any public record of existence, and the MIB agency answers to no government. The funding for their agency comes from the patents they own on technology confiscated from aliens, such as velcro, microwave ovens, and liposuction. Any memory of MIB activity upon “mustering out” of the MIB is erased and a new identity is created for the departing agent. Into this strange world is ushered the initially skeptical Det/Sgt James Edwards (Will Smith), an NYPD officer, as he becomes Agent J, one of the newest MIB personnel. Tommy Lee Jones plays K, a senior MIB agent who recruits and guides J as he learns the ropes.

MIB agents wear sunglasses and dark suits, and appear at UFO landing sites, similar to paranormal reports of real-world Men in Black. Instead of intimidating or threatening witnesses, the MIB use devices known as “Neuralyzers” to wipe witnesses’ memories of what they have seen, and replace the memories with more mundane explanations, such as swamp gas or weather balloons. Neuralyzers are also used on agents who leave the organization for any reason. The MIB’s sunglasses protect them from the effects of the Neuralyzer.

The main plot of the movie revolves around a “Bug” (code word for a member of an alien species that is similar in many ways to a very large cockroach) searching for a miniature galaxy which is also a vast energy source. Upon landing on Earth, the Bug kills a farmer named Edgar (Vincent D’Onofrio) and uses his skin as a disguise to aid in the hunt. A member of an alien royal family, masquerading as a diamond merchant, has concealed the galaxy on his cat’s collar. When he is killed by the Bug, his government prepares to destroy the Earth rather than let the galaxy fall into the Bugs’ hands. During their mission, J and K investigate a morgue where they meet Dr. Laurel Weaver (Linda Fiorentino), a cynical deputy medical examiner. Eventually, the agents kill the Bug (with Laurel’s help) and recover the galaxy. K then has J erase his memory so he can retire, and Laurel joins the MIB and becomes Agent L, J’s new partner.

In the final scene of the film, the camera pulls back into the sky through space past our solar system, past millions of stars, ultimately revealing that our galaxy is contained within a circular container resembling a marble. The container is then picked up by an alien hand which throws it, hitting another ‘marble’ which also contains a galaxy. Both marbles are then picked up by the hand and placed into a bag full of galaxy-containing marbles.


Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few alien movies, and this is one of my favorites. Granted, its not up there with the Star Wars films, but it is still pretty good.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones’ chemistry really makes the film. Both men give their respective roles their unique stamp and when they’re on screen together it interesting to see the contrasting styles. It was inspired casting putting these two on screen together. Wait forget the inspired casting mumbo jumbo, that was just pure genius!

The effects in this film take center stage when they are used, and why shouldn’t they? This is an alien film after all.

I was a little confused with the whole Arquillian galaxy angle, but from what I hear, it was more confusing in the initial script. To me it was a good and necessary plot device, as it explains why the bug came to Earth, but it just wasn’t explained as well as it could have been.

For those of you into the alien sci-fi genre…especially the older ones from back in the 40s and 50s, you’ll love this film. It hearkens back to those films as well as keeps it modern. A little bit of old and a little bit of the new. It really works. Watch and see. I’m sure you’ll enjoy!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2009 by Mystery Man


Lee Holloway, the socially awkward and emotionally sensitive younger daughter of a dysfunctional family, adjusts to normal life after having been hospitalized after suffering a serious injury due to her tendency for self-harm. She learns to type, starts to date an acquaintance named Peter, and begins to work as a secretary for an eccentric attorney, E. Edward Grey, who hires her despite her stilted social skills and unprofessional appearance.

Though at first Grey appears highly irritated at Holloway’s typos, it soon becomes apparent that he is sexually aroused by her submissive behaviour. After he confronts her about her self-injury addiction and commands that she never hurt herself again, the two embark on a BDSM relationship. Lee experiences a sexual—and personal—awakening, and she falls deeply in love. Edward, however, displays insecurity concerning his feelings for her, and he shows shame and disgust over his sexual habits. After a particular sexual escapade in his office, he fires Lee.

Peter soon proposes to Lee, who reluctantly agrees to marry him but leaves and runs to Edward’s office while trying on her wedding gown, declaring her love for him. Edward at first tells her she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but finally commands her to sit in his chair without moving her hands or feet until he returns. Lee eagerly complies. Days pass, as Peter, family members, and acquaintances individually come to keep her company (and bring her food) or try to convince her to move. After three days, Edward’s resistance breaks; he comes to the office and takes her to the apartment above his office. They marry and happily continue their dominant/submissive relationship.


I have never fully understood the BDSM lifestyle, but I know quite a few people that are into it and they suggested this film as a way to obtain a better understanding. I’ll admit, I’m still confused about the whole thing, but that’s because the film doesn’t really tackle the topic head on.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is brilliant in her role as Lee. She maintains the innocent, naivete of a young girl fresh out of typing school, while at the same time maturing into a more sexual being. It’s just some fine acting.

James Spader’s character is a bit confusing. At first he seems like the most unorganized, disheveled lawyer ever to grace the screen. As the film progresses he becomes quite creepy, but at the end he appears to become heroic and romantic…while maintaining the BDSM lifestyle with Lee they had become accustomed to.

This film is similar to Napoleon Dynamitein that if not for a couple of modern conveniences, you don’t really know what time period it is set in. Everything points toward the 60s, but they do mention computers and cell phones, which were not available back then.

As with most independent films, there are quite a few moments that just drag on and don’t really move the story along. An example in this film are all the pool scenes. Granted, I will never complain about seeing women in bikinis, but it just didn’t move the story along.

This is a pretty good film. I think it’s a bit underrated, though. It has award potential all over it, and did manage to pick up a few, but should have at least been nominated for a couple of Oscars. If you don’t believe me, check it out.

4 out of 5 stars

American Beauty

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on February 23, 2009 by Mystery Man


Lester Burnham (Spacey) is a 42-year-old father and advertising executive who serves as the film’s narrator. “I’m 42 years old; in less than a year, I’ll be dead. Of course, I don’t know that yet. And in a way, I’m dead already.” Lester’s family life is messy—his wife Carolyn (Bening) is an ambitious realtor who feels that she is unsuccessful at fulfilling her potential, and his 16-year-old daughter Jane (Thora Birch) is unhappy and struggling with self-esteem issues. Lester himself is a self-described loser in a dead end job with despicable bosses he does not respect. Lester is reinvigorated, however, when he meets Jane’s friend and classmate Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari) at a high school basketball game. Lester immediately develops an obvious infatuation with Angela, much to his daughter’s distress. Throughout the film, Lester has fantasies involving a sexually aggressive Angela and red rose petals. The Burnhams’ new neighbors are Col. Frank Fitts, USMC (Cooper), his dissociated wife Barbara (Janney) and his teenage son Ricky (Bentley). When confronted with the gay couple living two doors down, Col. Fitts reacts with homophobic disgust.

Over the course of a few days, each of the Burnhams individually makes a life-changing choice. Carolyn meets real estate rival Buddy Kane for a business lunch and ends up beginning an affair with him and later takes up gun lessons. Seconds away from being downsized, Lester defiantly blackmails his boss for $60,000, quits his job and takes up low-pressure employment as a burger-flipper at a fast food chain. He continues to liberate himself by trading in his Toyota Camry for his dream car, a 1970 Pontiac Firebird, starts running and working out to “look good naked” in order to have a body that will impress Angela, and starts smoking a genetically enhanced form of the marijuana he enjoyed in his youth. Jane grows increasingly disillusioned with and distant from Angela, allowing herself to develop a romantic relationship with Ricky. Ricky and Jane bond over what he considers to be the most beautiful camcorder footage he has ever filmed, that of a plastic grocery bag dancing in the wind; meanwhile, Ricky also quickly befriends Lester and secretly acts as his marijuana supplier.

Col. Fitts, concerned over the growing relationship between Lester and Ricky, roots through his son’s possessions, finding footage of Lester working out in the nude (captured by chance while Ricky was filming Jane through her bedroom window)—slowly bringing him to the conclusion that his son is gay. Buddy and Carolyn are found out by Lester, who seems to be completely unfazed by his wife’s infidelity. Carolyn, who is almost more devastated by Lester’s indifference than by her being exposed as an adulteress, is further dismayed when Buddy reacts by breaking off the affair. As evening falls, Ricky returns home to find his father waiting for him with fists and vitriol, having mistaken his drug rendezvous with Lester for a sexual affair. Realizing this as an opportunity for freedom, Ricky falsely agrees that he is gay and goads his father until Col. Fitts throws him out. Ricky rushes to Jane’s house and asks her to flee with him to New York City—something she agrees to, much to the dismay of Angela, who quickly protests. Ricky shoots her down with her deepest fear: that she is boring and completely ordinary. Devastated, Angela storms out of the room, leaving Jane and Ricky to one another permanently. Meanwhile, Carolyn, listening to self-help tapes in her car, decides she refuses “to be a victim,” loads a gun and starts the car, apparently with the intention to kill Lester.

An emotionally fragile Col. Fitts approaches Lester’s garage/workout room in the pouring rain. Lester is concerned and attempts to comfort him, but is taken by surprise when Fitts, who turns out to be a closeted homosexual, kisses him. Moments later, Lester finds a distraught Angela and the two of them prove to be in the appropriate mental spaces to be on the verge of sexual intercourse. The seduction, while powerful, is derailed when Angela confesses that she is a virgin. Now viewing her only as an innocent child, Lester immediately withdraws, his affections shifting to that of a father-figure, and they bond over their shared frustrations with and concern for Jane. Lester asks “How’s her life?” and is pleased when Angela says that Jane’s in love. When Angela then asks how Lester is, he realizes, to his own surprise, that he feels great. A happy Lester sits at the table looking at a photograph of his family in happier times, as Angela is at the toilet, unaware of the gun being slowly led into the camera frame and pressed to the back of his head. A gunshot is heard and blood splatters the kitchen wall.

In his final narration, Lester looks back on the events of his life, intertwined with images of everyone’s reactions to the sound of the subsequent gunshot, including one of a bloody and shaken Col. Fitts with a gun missing from his collection. Despite his death, Lester, from his vantage point as narrator, is happy.


With the Oscars airing last night, I felt it was about time I actually reviewed a somewhat current winner.  American Beauty, I believe is the film that started the trend of films that no one really knows dominating the awards. I know that I had never heard of it before the 2000 Oscar ceremony.

The acting in this film is superb. Kevin Spacey, as many forget, is a very competent actor. Throughout this film, he goes from being a totally sane man to the verge of madness and the audience is captivated by it through the entire journey. As a matter of fact, we’re not really creeped out by his infatuation with a 16 yr old friend of his daughter.

Thora Birch was born to play this role. A moody teenager who doesn’t believe she’s as beautiful a she is. Sounds just like Thora, to me. She gives the performance of her lifetime on screen, and you can feel her disgust with her father drooling over her friend.

Mena Suvari must have a thing for films with “American” in the title. Along with this, she appeared in the first two American Pie films as well as American Virgin.This role is a departure from her character in Pie, though. She’s sexually promiscuous and more confident in herself, at least when the film begins, as it progresses and we learn more about her, though, she loses some of that confidence (which seems to be going to Thora Birch). Still, her take on this role is not one to sneeze at. Suvari will be a force to be reckoned with in years to come.

Wes Bentley and Annette Benning round out the primary cast and give riveting performances. Bentley is totally creepy as the stalker-ish next door neighbor and Benning shows why she’s been around as long as she has with the range of emotions she goes through in this film.

After watching this film, I am not surprised that it won the Oscar for best picture. It is very well written, directed, and acted. The characters are very believable and you really get a feel for them and the pain they are going through.

I’m not one to usually watch these “artsy-fartsy” films, but this is one that I will watch over and over again. It is THAT good. You should also give it a viewing.

5 out of 5 stars

The Skeleton Key

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2009 by Mystery Man


Caroline Ellis (played by Kate Hudson) is a New Orleans hospital aide from Hoboken, New Jersey, who quits her unsatisfying nursing job in the city to take a position as a private hospice caregiver at an isolated plantation house deep in the bayous of southern Louisiana’s eerie, enchanting Terrebonne Parish. The lady of the house, Violet Deveraux (played by Gena Rowlands) is a diffident, old-fashioned Southern matron in need of help for her husband Ben (played by John Hurt), a severely disabled stroke victim who is expected to die soon.

Violet gives Caroline a skeleton key to open every room in the house, and Caroline soon finds the mansion has a dark past. Finding her way into a secret room in the attic, Caroline discovers hoodoo dolls, a book of spells, potion jars, and other macabre instruments of black magic. Violet tells Caroline that the room belonged to two black servants who had worked at the house in the 1920s. Mama Cecile (Jeryl Prescott) and her husband, Papa Justify (Ron McCall) were, in their day, renowned practitioners of hoodoo, a form of Afro-Caribbean folk magic. But to their white employers, they were nothing more than servants, and Justify and Cecile were lynched when it was discovered that they were performing spells with the children of the house owners. Caroline dismisses Violet’s fear of Justify and Cecile’s ghosts dwelling in the house as superstition, but more strange events occur, piquing her curiosity about the obscure (to her) swamp religions and their relationship to the physical condition of Ben, whom she has become determined to save and restore to health.

Caroline, after realizing that Violet is working harmful spells on Ben, seeks the help of the young lawyer Luke Marshall (played by Peter Sarsgaard) hired to rewrite Violet and Ben’s wills. While in Luke’s house, Caroline discovers clues leading to the revelation that Luke is in fact assisting Violet. Just as Caroline is about to act, Luke captures her, ties her up and gags her and takes her back to the manor.

Caroline is held captive, but manages to get free and “rig” (roughly, enchant) the house with brick dust, which is said to keep away those who mean one harm. After breaking Violet’s legs by pushing her down the stairs Caroline, following the piece of paper she snatched from Violet earlier (after initially drugging her tea), forms a protective circle around herself. Violet comes into the ritual room, and explains that “they” have been waiting for her to believe. Caroline tries to deny the fact that she now believes in hoodoo, but cannot convince herself.

Violet pushes a mirror at Caroline, which contains the image, initially of the little girl, then of the Violet and ultimately of Mama Cecile. The mirror smashes into Caroline, knocking her unconscious. Caroline then wakes up and walks over to Violet, who is barely awake. She takes Violet’s cigarettes, and begins to smoke, while she utters the words “Thank you, child,” revealing to the audience that the soul of Mama Cecile is now inside Caroline’s body. The mirror acted as a portal, and transferred Mama Cecile’s soul into Caroline’s body, while placing Caroline’s soul in Violet’s body. Luke walks in, and it is revealed that he too is not who he claims to be. His body is possessed by the soul of Papa Justify. Ben, who was previously the host to Papa Justify’s soul, is revealed to be the real Luke.

Mama Cecile (in Caroline’s body) gives Caroline (in Violet’s body) a liquid which causes a pseudo stroke. This prevents her from talking, so that she can’t reveal the presences of Mama Cecile and Papa Justify. The film ends with “stroke” victims Violet and Ben in an ambulance looking at each other and Caroline realizing she and Luke are trapped in Violet’s and Ben’s bodies. The final chapter is that “Ben” and “Violet” left the house to “Caroline”, thus leaving Mama Cecile and Papa Justify to continue occupying the house.

It can be inferred that in the 1920s, the pair used hoodoo to transfer their souls to Martin and Grace, the children of the home’s owner, leaving the real children to die in the lynched bodies of Justify and Cecile. In 1962, the pair once again transfer their souls from the aging bodies of the children to Ben and Violet, a couple looking to buy the home. Once Ben and Violet’s bodies too became old, they performed their ritual once more on Luke and Caroline. Thus, Mama Cecile and Papa Justify have occupied the house in various forms since the 1920s.


Living in Louisiana, one gets to know about all kinds of interesting stories of religion, ghosts, and various other tales. When I first saw this film, I expected it to take those stories and exaggerate them, but in fact it made me a believer for a little while.

Kate Hudson is one of those actresses that hasn’t exactly found her niche genre yet. Watching her in this film, though, I have to suggest she occasionally take a break from romantic comedies and do some thrillers. I was impressed with her role as Caroline and really felt for her in the end as she was transferred into the body of Violet and given that “liquid stroke” stuff.

The rest of the cast is pretty solid, but it is quite obvious that the majority of the film’s budget went to Kate, as there is no one else who is really a household name.

The story of Papa Justify and Mama Cecile is downright creepy, as is the record they played. It literally gave me chills the first time I heard it, and that is something not easy to do.

Before this film, I had never heard of hoodoo, but afterwards I looked it up and learned some things about it. I even stopped by a couple of shops in New Orleans. Of course, they looked at me funny, kinda similar to the looks Caroline got in the film, which goes to show you how accurate they were with their research.

I love that they actually chose to comedown to Louisiana, rather than attempt to make Toronto or some sound stage appear to be La. It just added to the mystiuqe of the film.

As far as horror movies go, this really doesn’t deliver, but if you put it in the thriller category, it’s more than capable of holding it’s own. The acting is pretty good and believable, the setting fits perfectly and may even make it spookier, and the music is just downright creepy. If you’re into thrillers, then check this one out. You won’t look at mirrors the same way again, especially if you live in an older house or have an attic.

4 out of 5 stars

The Jungle Book

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Disney, Family, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2009 by Mystery Man


Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman) is found in a basket as a baby in the deep jungles of Madhya Pradesh, India. In the Disney movie, there is no mention of what happened to his parents or how he came to be there, but the basket was in half a boat in the middle of a river; so it is most likely that his parents were washed downstream and drowned. Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot), the panther who discovers the boy, promptly takes him to a wolf who has just had cubs. She raises him along with her own cubs and Mowgli soon becomes well acquainted to jungle life.

Mowgli is shown ten years later, visiting the wolves and getting his face licked eagerly when he arrives. That night, when the wolf tribe learns that Shere Khan (George Sanders), a man-eating tiger, has returned to the jungle, they realize that Mowgli must be taken to the man village, to protect him and those around him. Bagheera volunteers to escort him back.

They leave that very night, but since Mowgli is determined to stay in the jungle things go a little astray. First Kaa (Sterling Holloway), the hungry Indian Python, hypnotizes Mowgli into a deep and peaceful sleep, traps him tightly in his coils and tries to devour him, but comically fails. The next morning, Mowgli tries to join the elephant patrol led by Hathi (J. Pat O’Malley). After that Mowgli and Bagheera get in an argument and then Mowgli runs away from Bagheera. Mowgli soon meets up with the fun-loving bear Baloo (Phil Harris), who shows Mowgli the fun of having a care-free life and promises not to take him to the man village.

Mowgli now wants to stay in the jungle more than ever. Before long, Mowgli is caught by a gang of monkeys and taken to their leader, King Louie (Louis Prima) the orangutan, who makes a deal with Mowgli that if he tells him the secret of making red fire like a human, then he would make it so he could stay in the jungle. However, since he was not raised by humans, Mowgli doesn’t know how to make fire. King Louie doesn’t believe him.

Mowgli is rescued from King Louie by Bagheera and Baloo, but soon runs away from them after Baloo realizes the man village is best for the boy and breaks his promise. After Mowgli runs away, Baloo and Bagheera split up to find him. Mowgli is lost so he can go hunting for him. Kaa, for a second time, hypnotizes Mowgli into a deep and peaceful sleep, and tries to eat him, but thanks to the intervention of Shere Khan, Mowgli escapes.

He encounters a group of solemn vultures (J. Pat O’Malley, Digby Wolfe, Lord Tim Hudson and Chad Stuart), who closely resemble the Beatles, and they say they’ll be his friend. The vultures very comically argue about “what do you want to do?” and would side track Mowgli with their pointless arguments. Shere Khan appears shortly after, but when Baloo rushes to the rescue, together they manage to get rid of the ruthless tiger, when Mowgli ties a flaming stick on his tail (the stick was from a tree struck by lightning). Bagheera and Baloo take him to the edge of a man-village, but Mowgli is still hesitant to go in. His mind soon changes when a young girl from the village comes down by the riverside to fetch water.

After noticing the boy, she “accidentally” drops her water pot, and Mowgli retrieves it for her and follows her into the man village. After Mowgli chooses to stay in the man village, Baloo and Bagheera decide to head home while singing a reprise of “The Bare Necessities”.


As a huge Disney fan, its hard for me to determine which films, especially the early ones that I really love. Some tend to go by the wayside. At one time, I had forgotten about The Jungle Book, until I started studying Louis Prima in school. That brought it back to my attention and it’s been one of my faves ever since.

As a jazz lover, of course one of my favorite parts of the film is the music, but I was amazed to find out that the vultures near the end were supposed to have been voiced by the Beatles. I suspected as much, but thought it was just coincidence. Schedule conflicts didn’t allow them to get it done, though. A similar problem happened with The Aristocats, as Louis Armstrong was supposed to lend his voice to Scat Cat.

Shere Khan may not be on the same level of villainy as Maleficent or Jafar, and as a matter of fact I think he is underrated, but how can you deny the fact that he is refined evil, similar to Captain Hook without all the slapstick.

Baloo and Bagheera give the usual Disney sidekick advice and provide comic relief. Kaa is an added minor villain, though it is rather weird hearing the voice of Winnie the Pooh as a villain.

I haven’t met anyone that doesn’t like this film and i’m sure you’ll love it just as much as I do. Watch and enjoy!

5 out of 5 stars


Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2009 by Mystery Man


The film begins in medias res with Daredevil clutching a cross at the top of a church, wounded. Daredevil clambers into the church and collapses as a priest who knows his identity approaches him in concern. The events that led to this scene are shown.

As a child, Matt lived in Hell’s Kitchen with his washed-up boxer father, Jack Murdock. Matt’s father constantly reminds Matt to get an education and make something of himself, and not wind up like him. One fateful day, when young Matt takes a shortcut home, he stumbles across his father beating up a man at the behest of local mob boss Fallon. Horrified, Matt runs blindly away from the scene, and runs afoul of a forklift which swerves to avoid him and accidentally pierces a barrel of toxic fluid, drenching Matt’s face in the substance.

An unspecified amount of time later, Matt awakens to find that he is blind. However, despite his loss of sight, his other four senses functioned with super-human accuracy, hearing and touch in particular. While Matt uses his radar-like hearing to train his body, his redeemed father decides to fight again in the ring. One night, Fallon approaches his father and orders him to throw the fight; when he does not, he is brutally murdered by a shadowy figure later revealed to be the Kingpin. Matt is heartbroken by his father’s death.

Many years later, Matt Murdock is operating as the vigilante Daredevil at night, and lawyer during the day, protecting Hell’s Kitchen in particular. The Kingpin’s numerous criminal activities have finally been picked by the press, and he decides to implicate his former partner Nicolas Natchios and make it appear that he was the Kingpin. Matt is intrigued when he meets Elektra Natchios, and despite her initial distrust of him, the two soon begin a relationship. While travelling with her father one night, they are attacked by the lethal and unstable assassin Bullseye, who was dispatched by the Kingpin. Despite Daredevil’s best efforts, Bullseye is able to kill Natchios and implicate Daredevil, enraging Elektra, who swears revenge.

Later, when Daredevil goes in search of Bullseye, he runs into Elektra, and reluctantly fights her. When Elektra impales Daredevil through the shoulder with one of her sai blades, she unmasks him and gazes at Matt in horror. Bullseye suddenly turns up, and Daredevil can only watch helplessly as he kills Elektra. The first scene of the film is shown again, as Daredevil enters the church, intending to recuperate and recover his strength. Unfortunately, Bullseye tracks him down, and the two battle ferociously across the church. After Bullseye manages to knock the air out of Daredevil, he raises a jagged metal pipe to kill him. Using his prodigious hearing, Daredevil hears a S.W.A.T. officer cock his rifle and times it so that his bullet fires horizontally through both of Bullseye’s hands, incapacitating him. Daredevil then violently throws the assassin through a church window, and watches him plummet to the ground with grim satisfaction.

Daredevil then goes to the Kingpin’s Headquarters for a climatic battle. Despite his appearance, the Kingpin turns out to be a powerful fighter; he overpowers Daredevil throughout most of the fight and eventually unmasks him. Daredevil loses sight of Kingpin, and bursts a pipe so that the rushing water would allow his radar hearing to see his enemy, and bring the tyrant to his knees. When Daredevil is about to deal the final blow, he contemplates what it means to be a hero, and offers the Kingpin a sardonic smile as he awards him his life. He informs the Kingpin that he is aware that he wont be imprisoned indefinitely, and as he leaves, tells him that he will always be waiting for him. He offers one final thought before departing, and orders the Kingpin to stay out of Hell’s Kitchen. When Kingpin threatens to reveal Daredevil’s identity, Daredevil taunts him in return with the fact that Kingpin got beaten by a blind man, which would make him the laughing-stock of the underworld.

A final post-credits scene features Bullseye in full body traction on a hospital bed killing a pesky fly despite being largely immobilized.


Of all the comic movies until Iron Man was released, Daredevil is one that keeps extremely close to the source material. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very well received by the fans. I personally don’t think it’s that bad, myself.

Ben Affleck normally gives good performances on screen, but for some reason he appears to be uncomfortable. The best scenes are his interaction with Jennifer Garner, Jon Favreau, or Joe Pantoliano. The rest of the time he seems like the walking dead. I hate to say that, but its true.

Jennifer Garner normally is radiant on screen, but as Elektra it appears as if someone reached in and snubbed her light out. Having said that, she doesn’t seem to be walking dead like Affleck, but she’s still a bit cold, but from what I know about the character part of that is expected.

Michael Clarke Duncan may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of the Kingpin, but after seeing him on screen portraying the big boss, he makes you forget about the fat man in the comics.

Colin Ferrell take on Bullseye isn’t a favorite of the fans, or myself. He doesn’t do a bad job, but something about it doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe it’s the fact the he just doesn’t seem to fit the role, but I’m not sure.

I’m not too crazy with the way the film opens. No matter how many times I watch this, the fact that it starts near the end, then has a flashback that takes up half the film until it catches up to itself doesn’t quite make sense, at least to me.

Affleck’s eyes also seemed a bit wonky. I know that they were damaged because of the chemicals, but they just look fake. Normally that wouldn’t phase me, but it looks as if this film was going for more realism than comic fantasy.

This is not as bad a film as some would have you believe, there are just aspects that aren’t as good as they could be, and when they all add up it makes the film not as enjoyable as it could be. Still, it is worth watching, so give it a shot.

4 out of 5 stars