Archive for March, 2009

Bloodrayne

Posted in Action/Adventure, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Loosly based on the video game of the same name, the film centers on the character of Rayne (Kristanna Loken), an unholy breed of human and vampire called a Dhampir. Dhampir are unaffected by crucifixes and do not thirst for human blood. She is the daughter of the Vampire King Kagan (Ben Kingsley) who has gathered an army of thralls, both vampire and human, in order to annihilate the human race. She was conceived when Kagan raped her mother, and she later witnessed him killing her.

Sebastian (Matthew Davis), Vladimir (Michael Madsen), and Katarin (Michelle Rodriguez) are three members of the Brimstone Society, who fight vampires. When they hear of the Dhampir, Vladimir plans to recruit her in order to kill Kagan. A great portion of the story concerns the three body-parts of an ancient vampire that can make a vampire free of the basic weaknesses: all water (the eye), the cross (the rib), and the sun (the heart). As Kagan wants all these parts, it becomes the heroes’ mission to stop him.

REVIEW:

Having never played the actual video game on which this film is based, I cannot say how true this is to its source material, but I can say that as a film it could have been better, but could have also been worse.

Kristianna Loken give a performance so mechanical, you would think she was still in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. It also appears that they wanted to capitalize on her sexuality, for me, though, it didn’t work so well.

Michael Madsen and Matthew Davis are perhaps the most competent actors in this film in their roles. They seemed to really get into them, especially Madsen. He even went so far as to change his speech pattern to fit the time period.

Michelle Rodriguez seemed a bit unnecessary in this film, until a key scene near the end. I wonder how she would have done in the lead role instead of Loken.

As accomplished an actor as Sir Ben Kingsley is, he looks bored and out of place as the vampire king Keegan. I do understand why they would choose him for the role, but I’m sure there were others who would have enjoyed it more.

With such a remarkable cast, which even eincluded Meatloaf, one would think that think that the last thing to be criticized would be the acting, but to be honest with you, that is what made this film so terrible.

The action scenes are your typical video game fare. The director tried to capture some of the scenes from the game, I would imagine.

There are even some soft, tender moments that make you feel connected to Rayne, then she starts acting again, and you lose the connection.

The blood that was used for this film, didn’t look real or fake, but rather like ketchup. Now, I’m of the belief that if you’re going to use blood on screen, make it look like the real stuff or some sort of fake liquid, but when you fall into that in-between status, it just doesn’t sit right with me.

What is my verdict on this film? Well, to be honest with you, there are moments that I enjoyed, and others that just didn’t work for me. I think this is an ok flick, but I believe its best reserved for viewing on Sci Fi Channel or something along those lines.

3 out of 5 stars

Batman (1989)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

As a child, Bruce Wayne saw his parents killed by a young criminal. He grows up, avenging their death against the criminals in Gotham City. He takes a disguise as Batman, while keeping his public image as a billionaire heir to Wayne Enterprises. Years later, Gotham is under control by crime boss Carl Grissom. Despite the best efforts of newly-elected district attorney Harvey Dent and police commissioner James Gordon, the police department remains corrupted. Reporter Alexander Knox and photo-journalist Vicki Vale begin investigating the rumors of a shadowy vigilante figure dressed as a bat, who has been terrifying criminals throughout the city.

Vicki and Knox attend a benefit at the mansion of billionaire Bruce Wayne, who is taken by Vicki’s charms. Knox, however, appears somewhat jealous of the chemistry between Bruce and Vicki. That same night, Grissom’s second in command, Jack Napier, is sent to raid Axis Chemicals factory. After the police receive a tip-off and arrive to arrest him, Jack realizes he’s been set-up by his boss, angered by his affair with Grissom’s mistress. In the midst of the shoot-out, Batman arrives and takes out Jack’s henchmen.

In a bizarre accident caused by his own ricocheting bullet, deflected by Batman’s metal-reinforced gauntlet, Jack’s face is ripped open. Reeling from the pain, he topples over a platform rail but manages to grab a lower rail with one hand. Batman momentarily clutches Jack’s free hand, but the grip is soon broken, and he falls into a large vat containing an unknown chemical solution. Shortly thereafter, he emerges from an adjacent reservoir, his hair and skin permanently discolored. Following a botched surgical attempt to repair his face, Jack is left with a permanent grin, which becomes his most distinguishing feature as “The Joker”.

After killing Grissom, the Joker takes over his empire and holds the city at his mercy by chemically altering everyday hygiene products so that those using a certain combination of products die. Batman attempts to track down the Joker, who has become romantically interested in Vicki. It is revealed that Joker, as a young criminal, killed Bruce’s parents. He holds a parade through Gotham, luring its citizens on to its streets by dispensing money, intending to kill them with a lethal gas. Batman foils his plan, but the Joker kidnaps Vicki and takes her to the top of a cathedral church. After a fight with Batman, the Joker falls to his death from the bell tower. Commissioner Gordon unveils the Bat-Signal along with a note from Batman read by Harvey Dent, promising to defend Gotham whenever crime strikes again.

REVIEW:

Let me make this perfectly clear…THIS IS WHAT A BATMAN FILM SHOULD BE!!!! Tim Burton captures the darkness of the character as well as throws in a little bit of the campiness from the old TV series and the 60s era Batman. Having said that, I’m a little biased because this is my favorite of all the Batman films.

When this film came out, along with everyone else, I was in shock when they announced Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Keaton is best known asa comedic actor, not an action star. However, after all was said and done, he stands tall as one of, if not THE best Batman to grace the screen. Personally, I think that has to do with his offbeat personality which fit Bruce Wayne’s dual life perfectly.

Kim Bassinger was one of the hottest women around when this film was released. I don’t know what she’s currently up to, but I have to commend her for making an obscure character from the Batman universe relevant. If I’m not mistaken, after this movie was released, Vickie Vale returned to the comic with a whole new look that resembled Kim, but I’m not 100% sure, but just the thought of that happening should let you know the effect she had on this character.

What can I say about Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker that hasn’t already been said. No disrespect to Heath Ledger or Cesar Romero for their takes on the character in The Dark Knight and Batman (1966) ,  respectively, but Nicholson’s take on the character is closer to what I expect the Joker to be like. Literally a psychotic clown, not a mysterious, moody guy with a white face, or an over the top prankster. Still, all 3 versions of the character work for their universe, but if you were to stack them up side by side, Nicholson gts my vote for bringing life to the dark and lighter sides of the Joker. I guess you can say his Joker is the middle ground between his predecessors.

The action in this film is awesome, highlighted by the chase from the Guggenheim and the crashing of the Batwing. Of course, this is a superhero movie after all, so action is not optional.

If there is one thing I didn’t care for in this film, it is the slight deviations from the source material and the fact that we don’t really know what happens to the Joker. I mean we see him fall to his “death”, but we also see them take something out of his pocket that seems like it could be a tape recorder of some sort. Just a thought I have everytime I watch this film.

So, I’m sure many of you out there think that The Dark Knight was God’s gift to cinema. Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s not the case. This is the better, more entertaining Batman. He doesn’t go flying off to foreign countries, possibly causing international incidents, nor does he drive around in a tank for a Batmobile, and he also doesn’t sound like he’s burping when he talks.

Speaking of the Batmobile, the version used in this film is my favorite.

Action, adventure, beautiful women, intrigue, deception, and Tim Burton directing…do you really need any more reasons to watch this film? If you haven’t been brainwashed into thinking Nolan is Jesus Christ, then give this one a look.

5 out of 5 stars

101 Dalmatians

Posted in Animation, Classics, Disney, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Pongo the Dalmatian lives in a London bachelor flat with his owner Roger Radcliffe, a songwriter. Bored with bachelor life, Pongo decides to find a wife for Roger and a mate for himself. While watching various female dog-human pairs out the window, he spots the perfect couple, a woman named Anita and her female Dalmatian, Perdita. He quickly gets Roger out of the house and drags him through the park to arrange a meeting. Pongo accidentally causes both Roger and Anita to fall into a pond, but it works out well as the couple falls in love. Both the human couple and the dog couple marry.

Later, Perdita gives birth to 15 puppies. One almost dies, but Roger is able to revive it by rubbing it vigorously in a towel (because of which, they would name the pup, ‘Lucky’). That same night, they are visited by Cruella De Vil, an wealthy former schoolmate of Anita’s. She offers to buy the entire litter of puppies for a large sum, but Roger says they are not selling any of the puppies. Weeks later, she hires Jasper and Horace Badun to steal all of the puppies. When Scotland Yard is unable to prove she stole them or find the puppies, Pongo and Perdita use the “Twilight Bark”, normally a canine gossip line, to ask for help from the other dogs in England.

Colonel, an old Sheepdog, along with his compatriots Captain, a gray horse, and Sergeant Tibbs, a tabby cat, find the puppies in a place called Hell Hall, along with lots of other Dalmatian puppies who Cruella had purchased from various dog stores. Tibbs learns the puppies are going to be made into dog-skin fur coats and the Colonel quickly sends word back to London. Pongo and Perdita quickly make their way from London to retrieve their puppies. They arrive just as Horace and Jasper are about to kill the puppies. While the adult dogs attack the two men, Colonel and Tibbs guide them from the house.

After a happy reunion with their own puppies, the Pongos realize there are 84 other puppies with them. Horrified at Cruella’s plans, they decide to adopt all of the puppies, certain their pets would never reject them. The dogs begin making their way back to London, aided by other animals along the way, with Cruella and the Baduns chasing behind them. In one town, they cover themselves with soot so they appear to be Labrador Retrievers, then pile inside a moving van going back to London. As the van is leaving, melting snow clears off the soot and Cruella spots them. She follows the van in her car and rams it, but the Baduns, trying to cut off the van from above, end up colliding with her, knocking both vehicles into a deep ravine. Cruella yells in frustration as the van drives away.

Back in London, Roger and Anita are attempting to celebrate Christmas and Roger’s first big hit, a song about Cruella, but they miss their friends. Suddenly barking is heard outside and after their nanny opens the door, the house is filled with dog. After wiping away more of the soot, the couple is delighted to realize their companions have returned home. They decide to use the money from the song to buy a large house in the country so they can keep all 101 Dalmatians.

REVIEW:

I am by no means a dog person, but occasionally a film about dogs actually warms my heart to the creatures. Examples of this feat are Old Yeller, Lady and the Tramp, and of course this film.

The beginning narration by Pongo where the camera pans down to Roger and then he introduces himself was pure genius, as was the way he and Roger meet Anita and Perdita.

When the puppies were born and that 15th pup, who went on to become Lucky, nearly dies, I thought it was going to be another sad moment such as the death of Babmi’s mother or Dumbo’s mom being put in a separate trailer.

I really liked the way that all the dogs have their own network to help each other out. I wonder if that’s what all the barking is about at night.

Horace and Jasper are the typical bumbling henchmen to one of the most popular and evil Disney villain, Cruella de Vil. Seriously, how many villains do you know have their own song? Yes, you can says Prince John (Robin Hood), Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone), Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective ) and Gaston (Beauty & the Beast). However, with the exception of Gaston, none of those songs leave a lasting memory in your psyche, and even his isn’t that memorable. There is a reason Cruella last name is de Vil, as in “devil”, she is evil on the level of Jafar, the Wicked Queen, Lady Tremain, and the penultimate Disney villain, Maleficent. One thing I wish that would have been addressed, even if only a line or two to let the audience know, was what happens to Cruella and her henchmen after the wreck.

I love the films that Diseny was releasing around this time. Something about that sketchy animation really appeals to me.

I still wonder why they felt the need to make this into a live-action film. Especially considering how it wasn’t that great. I guess money drives people to do anything. I’m a purist when it comes to Disney films, though, and think they should be left alone. That includes the songs, so you can imagine my disdain for these tween “stars” that “update” the classic songs. I won’t get into all that now, though, but I will say that this is a film for the whole family to enjoy!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Music & Lyrics

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

PLOT:

Alex Fletcher was one of the founding members of the band PoP!, which achieved fame and enjoyed considerable success during the late 1980s and early 1990s. After they disbanded, his partner Colin Thompson became a popular solo act, while Alex’s career nosedived. In recent years he has supported himself by reprising his old hits for middle-aged female fans at high school reunions, county fairs, and amusement parks.

Alex is given a chance at a comeback when teenaged pop star Cora Corman commissions him to write a song for her new CD which is on the verge of completion, leaving him only days to fulfill her request. Alex’s forté is composing music; he always relied on Colin to supply the words. His manager Chris Riley helps him search for a lyricist, and Alex is in the midst of trying to collaborate with one when Sophie Fisher arrives at his apartment in place of his usual plant caregiver.

Sophie is a former creative writing student reeling from a disastrous romance with her former English professor that left her with little confidence in her talent. When she blurts out a few lyrics Alex finds more appealing than those provided by the pompous writer with whom he’s making no progress, he cajoles her into working with him. There are signs of a budding romance as the two spend the next three days collaborating on “Way Back into Love.”

Cora is thrilled with the completed song and Alex, Sophie, Chris, and his date have dinner to celebrate. At the restaurant Sophie runs into ex-lover Sloan Cates, the creative-writing professor who used her as the basis for the protagonist in his latest best-selling novel. Alex convinces Sophie to confront him, but the speech she prepared for this very moment long ago escapes her as her insecurity rises to the surface and leaves her tongue-tied in Sloan’s presence. She and Alex return to his apartment and consummate their relationship, much to her sister Rhonda’s delight when Sophie confides in her.

Sophie is horrified when she discovers Cora plans to record a sexually-charged interpretation of “Way Back into Love,” complete with a “steamy and sticky” Indian vibe she feels clashes with the romantic spirit of the song. She is determined to convince Cora to abandon the bizarre arrangement, only to find Alex vetoing her efforts for fear he will lose the opportunity to work with Cora and revive his career. In the ensuing argument, he admits Cora’s version is awful but contends accepting it is the cost of doing business. Upset by Alex’s willingness to demean his talent and hurt by his argument that she is refusing to live in the real world, Sophie leaves him.

When Cora’s new tour opens at Madison Square Garden, Alex introduces “Don’t Write Me Off,” a self-penned plea for Sophie to give their relationship another chance. She finds him backstage, and he confesses he convinced Cora to drop the risqué version of “Way Back into Love” in an attempt to win Sophie back. He and Cora perform the tune as he and Sophie intended it to be sung, and the two songwriters embrace in the wings.

REVIEW:

There just aren’t enough films about music. Yes, there are a few, but none have the charm of this one.

Drew Barrymore is giving Meg Ryan a run for her money as the queen of the romantic comedies. She plays the naive, hopeless romancitcness that only she can bring to this role. On top of that, she seems to have natural chemistry with Hugh Grant.

Speaking of Hugh Grant, this is his type of movie, and of course he delivers. He even sings his parts! That’s dedication.

The opening video of this film is one of the things that really sold me on it. A very catchy 80s tune that, had it have been an actual group that released, more than likely would have been a hit.

There’s not much on the negative side I have to say about this film, other than a couple of observations. The first is that I wih Sophie would have eventually gotten the courage to go and stand up to Sloan. Secondly, they talk about  the other member of Pop!, but never show him. I think instead of having Cora sing in the finale with him, that it should have been a reunion. Maybe that’s just me wanting a true happy ending, though.

So, I’m sure many of you are wondering whether I recommend ths or not. Well, the answer is yes. It’s got someting for just about everyone. The music is great. The acting is top notch, and its just a great film.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Rocker

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Robert "Fish" Fishman (Rainn Wilson) was once the drummer for Vesuvius, which went on to be a successful heavy metal band without him. At the insistence of their manager and their own greed, he’s kicked out of the band and replaced by the son of the record label’s president. Fish vows never to play drums again. Twenty years later, after failing at another cubicle job, breaking up with his girlfriend, and having to move in with his sister, Fish finds himself living in the attic "looking" for work. When it looks like he’ll be a loser for life, his dorky, socially awkward nephew Matt saves the day. Matt (Josh Gad) plays the keyboards in a band called A.D.D., joined by the dark brooding artist type Curtis (Teddy Geiger) and the no-nonsense Amelia (Emma Stone). The band is set to play the prom when their drummer gets thrown out of school for bringing "hash brownies" to the Spanish club. Running out of time, Matty suggests they give his Uncle Fish a try.

The prom turns into a disaster, being Fish’s first time on stage again, and his drum solo takes over the King and Queen’s dance in a fit of rage, sweat, and sheer embarrassment for A.D.D.

When Robert is kicked out of his sister’s house and forced to live in the basement of his favorite Chinese take-out place, the band invents a new way to practice via four-way iChat. Because of the heat in Fish’s new "apartment", he’s forced to drum naked, which quickly makes its way onto YouTube. A million hits later, A.D.D. signs a contract with David Marshall (Jason Sudeikis), an obnoxious agent who tries to be hip and takes them on tour.

Fish and the kids wow audiences across the country, with everyone wanting to see the infamous “Naked Drummer.” Fish starts taking his rock star status a little too seriously, though, and the whole band winds up in jail after a late-night party.

Curtis’s mom (Christina Applegate) promises to stay for the remainder of the tour, so her children won’t be influenced by the wild ways of Fish. As the tour continues, Fish and Curtis’s mom begin to find an attraction with each other. A.D.D. also shoots a music video which upon watching, all the band members are featured prominently except Fish, who notices that his face is being obscured during the entire video under David’s watch.

David informs the band that they’re opening for Vesuvius in a free concert for their hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Fish flies off the handle and the band stick by his side and agree not to do the show. Curtis’s mom, at this point has gone to the roof to calm Fish down and does so by kissing him, which David comes across. He exaggerates the truth about Fish and Curtis’ mother to Curtis to his dislike, hoping to replace Fish. During their next gig, Curtis announces the band will do the show after all to a live crowd much to Fish’s dismay. After they argue in front of the crowd, Fish quits the band, and finds himself a miserable job with his brother-in-law in the corporate world.

Matt and Amelia convince Curtis that the band is nothing without the spirit of Fish after the label’s appointed drummer doesn’t fit in, and Curtis convinces Fish to do the gig. Upon arriving at the stadium before their performance, Fish encounters his former bandmates who have all adopted phony British accents and egocentric attitudes. To his happiness, Fish finds that he is able to let the past go and wishes Vesuvius a great show. Fish and the band play an incredible show. When they think things couldn’t get any better, Vesuvius takes the stage. And with one slip of the mic stand, the lead singer’s microphone goes crashing to the ground. This mistake causes the singer to search for the lost microphone, while the voice track is still going, exposing their fraud for lip-syncing the entire time. The audience goes wild, booing Vesuvius off the stage in a cloud of embarrassment, and chanting, “A.D.D.! A.D.D.!”; Against the advice of David, whom they fire on the spot, the band take the stage again and performs for the crowd.

REVIEW:

Who knew they could still make films that are actually light hearted and fun anymore? I was pleasantly surprised while watching this film. It ws actually pretty good.

Rainn Wilson is not a leading man. As a matter of fact, the majorit of his roles are as the sidekick or comic relief, so for him to be cast as the lead in this picture is a shock. He does handle it pretty well, though. I wouldn’t go so far as ot cast him as the lead in Julius Ceaser or some other role that requires the full range of acting talents. Did I mention he has many o the film;s funniest lines?

Christina Applegate really has evolved in her acting career. Remember the days when she was Kelly Bundy on Married…with Children? Well, in this film she plays the mom and, what appears to be Rainn’s love intersrt. Not  a thing was wrong with her performance, except we didn’t get to see more of her,

Teddy Geiger, Emma Stone, and Josh Gad make up the band A.D.D. All 3 are relatvie unknowns, so this was their big break. Years from now, I am pretty sure Stone and Gad will be looking bak and rememebr that this was one of the crucial stepping stones for their carer. Geiger, on the other hand, had a hit some "Foyu You I Will" not too long ago. As I was watching the film, I knew that the lead singer of the band has to be a real singer, then I found out who it, makes sense.

Many of the comedies I’ve recentl;y watched have fallen prey to the formula that they are hilarious at the beginning though shortly after the 1 hr (to halfway) point, then they switch to some serious stuff and never really recover. This film, thankfully does not so that.

It’s good to take the time to watch a good comedy once in a while. Granted, this isn’t the best of comedies, but it is fun, funny, and has a cute ending. Definitely worth watching

4 out of 5 stars

Underworld: Evolution

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

PLOT:

The movie opens in the year 1202 AD with an army led by three vampire elders (Markus, Viktor, and Amelia) arriving at a Werewolf ravaged village. After killing several werewolves, Viktor and Amelia capture their target: Markus’s brother William Corvinus, the first and most powerful werewolf. Viktor orders that William be imprisoned in a secret location forever.

The story then continues the present-day timeline, after the events of the first film. Selene takes Michael to a safe house so that she can return to the mansion to confront Kraven. She knows Kraven intends to kill Markus and plans to stop him. However, Singe’s blood has already awakened Markus, turning him into a hybrid, who then wipes out Kraven and his men, and destroys the mansion. He learns Selene and Michael’s location from camera surveillance of various safe houses and leaves to track them down. Markus confronts Selene and Michael, who evade him and hide in a warehouse.

Lorenz Macaro, an elderly and imposing man, sends in a team of “Cleaners” to investigate the aftermath from the final battle in the first movie. When Macaro examines Viktor’s body he finds a metal disk attached to his ribcage which is the match to Sonja’s pendant, which is in the possession of Selene and Michael. Now knowing that the pendant is of some importance to Markus, Michael and Selene set out to solve its mystery. Selene recalls that she’d seen it as a child, but doesn’t know its significance. To find answers, they travel to the hideout of the exiled vampire historian, Andreas Tanis.

Selene and Michael confront Tanis, who reveals that Markus, not Viktor, was the first vampire. One of the two sons of Alexander Corvinus, Markus was bitten by a bat and became a Vampire; his twin brother, William, was bitten by a wolf and became a werewolf. The first werewolves created by him were entirely animal and unable to take human form again. Due to William’s destructiveness, Markus approached Viktor, a warlord dying of old age, and offered to turn him and his army into immortal vampires in exchange for tracking down and stopping William. Markus intended to capture his brother and tame him, but Viktor ordered that William be locked away forever, far away from Markus. Viktor does not kill the brothers because he believes doing so would result in the immediate extinction of all other vampires and his lycan slaves. Tanis also reveals that Selene’s father was the architect who built William’s prison and that the pendant is a key, that after Lucian’s escape Viktor killed Selene’s family as as they knew of the prison’s location, but turned Selene into a vampire. Tanis then refers Selene and Michael to Lorenz Macaro for help. Shortly after they leave, Markus arrives and questions Tanis. Tired of hearing Tanis’s lies, Markus learns the truth by drinking his blood, killing him.

Selene and Michael go to see Lorenz Macaro, who is actually Alexander Corvinus, who has devoted his life to containing the Vampire-Lycan War away from the mortal world. However, Alexander refuses to help kill his son. When Markus arrives, he apparently kills Michael and learns the location of William’s hidden prison by drinking Selene’s blood. He then attacks and mortally wounds his father, thereby obtaining the other half of the pendant. On Alexander’s bidding, Selene drinks his blood, which will give her the power to defeat Markus. Afterwards, Alexander blows up his ship.

Selene leads the cleaners to the prison to confront and destroy Markus, but he has already freed William. A battle ensues in which William bites the Cleaners and begins turning them into Lycans. Michael, presumed to be dead inside his bodybag, suddenly regenerates and joins the fight in his Hybrid form. Michael ultimately kills William, while Selene kills Markus by pushing him into the spinning blades of a crashed helicopter. It is then revealed that Selene can now stand in the sun. As the film ends, Selene narrates that she fears the days ahead, as the death of the Elders will cause nothing but chaos; but she is nevertheless hopeful.

REVIEW:

Vampires seem to be all the rage right now. This concludes the triolgy of Underworld films for me. I was expecting to recieve Twilightfrom Netflix this week, but that didn’t happen. Howveer, although I have’t seen Twilight yet, I believe this to be the better film.

When has Kate Beckinsale looked hotter than she does in these films. Unlike in the first film, this one lets her show her humanity a bit mire. I can’t get over the fact that sh spends the entire film in black leather. If vampires looked like her, I’d gladly become one.

This film has a dark quality, but at the same time isn’t a dark film. Make no mistake, this isn’t a feel good film, but it isn’t as dark as one would believe. There are quite a few exremely violent scenes where Michael, the hybrid, does some major damage to the Lycans he deafeats, and the result of the end battle is reminiscent of a Mortal Kombat fatality.

The flashback scenes are good, but not great. They don’t really move the story along, but they do give us some more insight into Markus, as well as the story of Viktor and Selene. Personally, I think it was just a way to ger Bill Nighy in the film.

Markus and Michael are both interesting characters in the way the make-up department depicted them.  There’s not much to say about Michael, other than he truly is a luck man for getting to make love to Selene. MArkus, on the other hand, is a totally different person than he was in Viktor’s flashbacks. I guess time caused him to become more violent, sadistic, and short tempered.

Typical of most films that spawn sequels, this isn’t in the same league has the original, but at least they are different stories. Despite the flaw of being a sequel and being mostly panned by the critics, this is a good film about vampires and lycans. Those of you out there into that kind of stuff will love it. For the rest of us, there’s action and Kate Beckinsale in tight leather sandbags.

4 out of 5 stars

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger

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

PLOT:

Sinbad (Patrick Wayne), sailor and Prince of Baghdad, seeks permission from Prince Kassim to marry his sister Princess Farah (Jane Seymour). A spell is placed on Kassim by their evil stepmother Zenobia (Margaret Whiting) turning him into a baboon (one of Harryhausen’s stop-motion creations) just as he was going to be crowned caliph. Sinbad sets off with Princess Farah to find an alchemist named Melanthius (Patrick Troughton), who knows where to discover a cure to break the evil spell.

Sinbad and his crew eventually find Melanthius and his daughter Dione (Taryn Power), who agrees to help them with their quest. Melanthius tells Sinbad and his crew that they must travel to the land of Hyperboria to find an ancient pyramid where Kassim can be cured. Zenobia, her son Rafi, and the Minaton(a mechanical version of the Minotaur) secretly stalk them. On their quest, Sinbad and his crew encounter creatures such as a trio of ghouls, a killer wasp (effected by Zenobia’smagic), a giant walrus, a troglodyte (a creature that is friendly to Sinbad and his crew), and a smilodon (whose body gets possessed by Zenobia).

REVIEW:

This is the final installment of the Sinbad trilogy. I’m a little partial to it, since it was the first Sinbad film I ever saw when I was younger.

As with its predecessor, this one goes to further cement the legacy of Ray Harryhausen and his genius work with stop-motion animation (a lost art form, if you ask me).

Patrick Wayne would not have been my first choice to play Sinbad. He just doesn’t convince me that he’s the dashing sailor. To me, he seems more like some sort of villain or lackey.

A young Jane Seymour appears in this film and is smoking hot. Not to mention she gives a fine performance as Princess Farrah.

The effects in this film, are what you come to expect from films of this era. By today’s standards they are laughable, but when you consider the technology that was available at the time, it’s cutting edge.

As with the other Sinbad films, this one starts off a bit slow, but gradually picks up until the climactic final battle.  Leading up to that point are a couple of monsters thrown in to keep your interest piqued. In the case of this film, we get a giant walrus.

While Sinbad and his crew do vanquish the walrus, I was left wondering why they didn’t kill it. I’m sure they would have had plenty of food and warmth if they would have done so.

Another oddity was the fact that these people from the mid-east region actually didn’t seem affected by the cold of the Arctic. I’m from the south and can barely take the cold snaps we have, so I know it must have been an experience for them, but I guess for the film’s purposes, they didn’t need to go into all that.

Oh, how I wish they made films like this these days. The action, animation, story, and scenery all make for an epic adventure on a grand scope that no film can match these days because they try to make things too real or too serious. Only the Pirates of the Carribean trilogy comes close. If you’re into the kind of film that shows what Hollywood put out during the days when films were fun to watch, then this is one of those pictures.

4 out of 5 stars

Let’s Make Love

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The plot revolves around billionaire Jean-Marc Clement (Montand) who learns that he is to be satirized in an off-Broadway revue. After going to the theatre, he sees Amanda (Monroe) rehearsing the Cole Porter song My Heart Belongs to Daddy, and by accident the director thinks him an actor suitable to play himself in the revue. Clement takes the part in order to see more of Amanda and plays along with the mistaken identity.

Frankie Vaughan appears as a singer in the revue, while Milton Berle, Gene Kelly, and Bing Crosby appear in cameo roles as themselves trying to teach Clement how to deliver jokes, dance, and sing, respectively. Tony Randall’s supporting role portrays Clement’s conflicted flunky.

REVIEW:

As far as classic films starring Marilyn Monroe goes, this is not one of the better ones. Still, it does have its moments and has a fairly good story and some excellent cameos by Milton Berle, Bing Crosby, and Gene Kelly.

Marilyn is her usual ditzy blonde self here as she is portraying a theater actress trying to make it off Broadway.

Tony Randall received some major billing for this film, but in actuality he all but disappears after the first half of the film. Having said that, his time on screen is vintage Randall. He never fails to deliver when he is playing the straight-laced arrow characters.

Is this a good film? Yes. Is it great? No, but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch and enjoy it. Not every film has to be great to be entertaining. As a matterof fact, many great films aren’t that entertainingl is said and done. This is worth a viewing, especially if you’re a Marilyn fan.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Hulk Vs.

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Hulk vs. Thor

For ages, Odin has protected his kingdom of Asgard. But every winter, the All Father must rest and regain his strength for one week. During this time, all of Asgard’s foes (ranging from trolls, giants, dark elves, and demons) try to claim the realm for their own but they are all always stopped by Thor, albeit with the loss of many Asgardian warriors.

Loki has kidnapped Bruce Banner and brought him to Asgard with the help of Enchantress. Loki makes Bruce Banner angry and he changes into the Hulk. Amora, the once love interest of Thor but now outcast Enchantress, casts a spell over the Hulk which separates Banner from his alter-ego and grants Loki control over the Hulk.

Hulk/Loki arrives at the gates of Asgard and attacks the Warriors Three and other Asgardians. Thor comes to the gates and is attacked by Hulk/Loki. Thor does not know that Loki is controlling it and tries to communicate with Banner which results in Loki actually talking through the Hulk.

After a prolonged battle, Hulk/Loki attempts to lift Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Amora warns Loki that he can not lift it and has to stop before he is no longer in control of the Hulk. Loki, of course, does not listen and continues to lift the hammer via the Hulk. Mjolnir flies to Thor and he uses his powers to separate Loki from the Hulk. It works, but now the Hulk is pure rage incarnate and he nearly kills Thor.

Hela, the daughter of Loki and ruler of the underworld attempts to claim Thor’s soul but is stopped by Amora. Amora refers to Thor as “my love” and kisses him, which revives Thor. Amora betrays Loki and gives Thor the location of where he is hiding.

Thor comes to where Loki is hiding with the aid of Amora and they discover that Loki has killed Banner, who had grown tired of Banner’s warning about the Hulk. Therefore, Amora has no way to send the Hulk back to Earth. Thor tells Amora that she must go to Sif to aid and defend Odin. She reluctantly agrees and Loki summons all of his evil forces to stop the Hulk and they both (Thor and Loki) travel to Hel. However, not even good nor evil could halt the Hulk’s advance, as it was beckoned by the light coming from Odin’s chambers.

As Banner is dead, he is under the impression that everything is back to normal and he is the husband to Elizabeth Ross and a father to a boy named Bruce Jr. Soon though, this vision of his ends when Hela brings him to her throne where Thor and Loki await. Thor says that Asgard needs his help but Banner does not want to help. Loki managed to convince Hela to bring the Hulk to Hel, so that she could have the complete person. She complies and teleports the Hulk to Hel, just as he reached Odin.

In the end, Banner rejoins with Hulk, granting him back his sentience and is teleported back to Earth by Hela, who considers him too dangerous to be kept. However, due to the damage the Hulk had caused to her kingdom, she punishes Loki for it but promises his stay won’t be permanent. Odin quickly awakens and Sif and Thor kiss each other as Amora walks away sad. Odin holds a celebration that day for all of the Asgardians who triumphed over evil and also gives his thanks to Bruce Banner who is on Earth. The final scene is of Bruce Banner walking down a barren highway.

Hulk vs. Wolverine

Department H sends in Wolverine to track down a mysterious beast known by the US Military as the Hulk, who is rampaging across the Canadian wilderness. Surveying the extent of the damage to a destroyed town, Wolverine notices a toxic scent as well as the smell of gunpowder.

He is then deployed to the wilderness to resume tracking the creature. After a few hours, Wolverine finds Bruce Banner sitting at the edge of a small lake. At first asking Banner if he had seen the creature, Wolverine then starts violently interrogating him after realizing that Bruce Banner has the same toxic scent that the creature who destroyed the town had. Ignoring numerous warnings, Wolverine continues the interrogation until Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk and sends Wolverine flying through the air until he lands on the edge of a cliff. The two unstoppable combatants fight continuously until they are both shot with numerous tranquilizers from Team X (composed of Deadpool, Omega Red, Lady Deathstrike, and Sabretooth).

A flashback shows how Wolverine was abducted by Weapon X and his skeleton is bonded with adamantium under the orders of Professor Thornton. They even tested his combat skills on a bear. Wolverine managed to escape by killing the soldiers and dismembering Thornton’s right hand.

Wolverine is forcibly woken up by Sabretooth in a Weapon X facility, and is greeted by Professor Thornton (who had replaced his right hand with a clawed prosthetic). It is revealed that they have been tracking the Hulk for weeks. A flashback shows that Bruce Banner had only turned into the Hulk because they attacked him and that the Hulk tried to save as many innocent bystanders as it could. Professor Thornton tells him that he is going to wipe out Bruce Banner’s memory and use the Hulk as a weapon just like Wolverine, as his memory will be erased again. Professor Thornton tells Lady Deathstrike not to kill Wolverine. However, Professor Thornton is slashed in the back by Sabretooth as both of them try to kill them off. Wolverine manages to fight them off and frees Bruce Banner.

Deciding they need extra firepower, Wolverine tells Bruce Banner to turn into the Hulk, only to find that Bruce Banner needs stress or anger to turn into the Hulk. To make matters worse, Bruce tells him that he may have been drugged to prevent him from changing. Wolverine stabs him with his claws, forcing Banner to transform.

Wolverine battles the entire Weapon X team, and is eventually caught by one of Omega Red’s tentacles and is violently electrocuted. Bruce Banner finally turns into the Hulk and punches Sabretooth so hard he sends him flying out of the facility, then takes out the other Team X members one by one. Hulk starts to destroy the base, ripping out the main power generators. Wolverine eggs the Hulk on, only for the Hulk to throw a generator at him, causing the base to explode. Wolverine is sent flying and lands next to Sabretooth. He stands up and watches the base burn until Hulk jumps out and lands right in front of him. Wolverine is eager to finish what they started, and the two lunge at each other. The screen cuts to black leaving the fight with a cliffhanger ending, leaving the victor unknown.

In the post-credits, Deadpool is shown to have survived the destruction of the facility and expressed great relief at being alive, only to be crushed by the Hulk doing one of his “mile jumps”. He makes a weak grunt, however, noting that he is still alive, yet most likely in extreme pain.

REVIEW:

For a couple of animated films, they sure packed a lot of action and story into a very short time. Both films capture the soriginal story from the comics, with a few changes to make them better accesible for the general younger audience. In other words, they were changed so that uppity, overprotective parents won’t bitch about their kids seeing too much violence (heaven forbid).

I saw advertisements for this all summer, especially around the time The Incredible Hulk  was released. At first glance, I thought it was just another animated film released on DVD to make money for the greedy people at Marvel Studios who are more interested in the money these days than anything else. However, this week as it finally got off the wait list on Netflix, I decided to give it a chance. Of the two films that compose this DVD, neither disappoints.

Hulk vs. Thor is the more serious of the films, while Hulk vs. Wolverine is more non-stop action and a bit of comic relief thrown in, courtesy of Deadpool. As I was watching Hulk beat the living hell out of Thor, I realized that I don’t really know much about the Norse god. With a feature film coming soon, I think I might want to get acclimated with the character, as I’m sure was the purpose of including this story. Many important characters in Thor lore are included in the film, and the battle between Thor and Hulk stops just short of being epic. I would love to see this on the big screen in live action, depending on who they get to play Thor, that is.

I’m a little partial to Hulk vs. Wolverine, becuse the first Wolverine comic I ever bought and read was during one of their battles. As a matter of fact, the cover is the last image you see after the credits (before the added scene with Deadpool). Many of the characters in this story, though, I think were included to garner interest for the upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine. As with Thor, it’s a shameless plug, but hey, nothing wrong with that. They added an extra element to the film and gave Hulk more things to smash. I especially loved the way he ripped Lady Deathstrike apart.

I didn’t care for the fact that this became a Wolverine origin story, though. It seems like everytime Wolverine is included in any media, we have to get his origin. I love Wolverine, but enough is enough. They could have given us Hulk’s origin in place of it or some kid of flashback as to how he ended up in Canada. That’s just a suggestion, though.

This is a DVD for fans of the comic and their young counterparts. Chances are if you’re not into Hulk, Thor, or Wolverine, or the X-Men and/or Avengers, then this will not be your cup of tea, unless you just wat to see an animated action film. For those that are fans, though, it totally rocks. You should check totally check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Sex Drive

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Ian Lafferty (Josh Zuckerman) is an 18-year-old recent high school graduate. He searches for a girl online making it look as if he’s buff and suave, although he’s sweet and unassuming. He soon meets “Ms. Tasty” (Katrina Bowden) and agrees to meet her in person. She lives in Knoxville, while he lives in Brookfield. With his best friends Lance (Clark Duke) and Felicia (Amanda Crew), they go in a Pontiac GTO Judge borrowed without permission from Ian’s arrogant homophobic older brother Rex (James Marsden).

On the way to Knoxville, they come across a hitchhiker (David Koechner), as the radiator in the Judge overheats. They attempt urinating in the radiator, which only works briefly as they try to leave the hitchhiker in the dust. The hitchhiker, frustrated at Ian’s lack of concern for his well being, leaves. As Ian and Felicia wander to find help, Lance is waiting with the car as Ezekiel (Seth Green) happens by in his horse-drawn buggy. Ezekiel and his Amish buddies repair the car while they join a Rumspringa party where Fall Out Boy is playing a concert and at which Lance meets an attractive Amish girl, Mary (Alice Greczyn). The three promise to come again on the way back to do some work in return.

They go to jail due to Ian throwing a tire iron into a state trooper car (due to his increasing frustration at trying to put a oppossum he hit out its misery) , and are released after Mary pays the bail. They find a hotel that sports a wide variety of role playing rooms. Rex arrives angrily and insists that they go back and that Ian cannot visit Ms. Tasty. After Ian pretends to be gay, Rex allows him to see Ms. Tasty, hoping this encounter will change Ian’s mind. However, they are scammed by Ms. Tasty and her psychotic boyfriend, who apparently do this to steal cars for chop shops. Ian saves the day, Ms. Tasty and her boyfriend are arrested, and Ian and Felicia realize they love each other. Lance refuses to go back home at the end of the trip and stays behind to marry Mary. Ian gives his virginity to Felicia, who both reveal their love for each other at the end of the film. Also we learn Rex’s latent homophobia stemmed from the fact that he was harboring his own homosexuality. At the end of the film, a picture is shown of Lance and Mary being married, accompanied by Ian and Felicia. He’s shown sporting a beard much like Ezekiel (Seth Green), one of the Amish people. During the credits there is a clip of Ezekiel and Fall Out Boy arguing over the fact that the Amish fixed Fall Out Boy’s tour bus and all that they got in return was “a five song set.”

REVIEW:

This movie seems was a decent attempt at making a raucnhy sex comedy, although for me it just came off as a glorified video montage of t & a with a little bit of story thrown in there. Now, having said that, it didn’t suck, but I just didn’t care for it too much.

The acting was ok. The majority of the case includes young actors with whom this was their big break. However, Seth Green and James Marsden have interesting roles. Marsden may have the best role in the film as the jerk brother. A totally different character for him, since every role I’ve seen him in has been a good guy. Green flexes his comic genius as the Amish man, Ezekiel and really helps to get the story moving. At the time he shows up, it seemed to have stalled.

In terms of comedy, this film has its funny moments, but not enough for my taste. I think this film could have been better, but the raunch got in the way of the humor. Still, for those that like this sort of thing, it’s right up your alley. For everyone else, I would suggest you stay away.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Justice League: The New Frontier

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film begins with an unknown entity explaining how it has witnessed the evolution of life on Earth:

Like all things on this hurtling sphere, I emerged from the molten center of creation. But mine has been a unique path. Isolated, I developed attributes beyond those of lesser beings. Then the sphere was struck by a vast celestial stone. Black chunks of death filled the skies and the world became a chaotic garden of doom. Soon the sphere began to nurture new kinds of life. And there was one that stood above the rest. Its fragile shell belied its vicious nature. And in what seemed like a heartbeat, these things proliferated in both number and destructive needs. Now they have harnessed the most destructive force. And I, The Centre, have concluded that the sphere must be cleansed of them.

This explanation is shown being written and illustrated under the title “The Last Story” by a mysterious person who then shoots himself.

The film cuts to the end of the Korean War, where United States Air Force pilot Hal Jordan and his wingman, Kyle “Ace” Morgan, are attacked by enemy pilots not yet informed of the cease-fire. Hal is shot down in the ensuing conflict, and forced to kill a Korean soldier after ejecting to safety. The trauma of this event leads Halto a mentalward within a hospital for two years.

Elsewhere, at Gotham Observatory, the last survivor of the Green Martian race, J’onn J’onzz, is inadvertently teleported to Earth by a scientist, Dr. Saul Erdel. The shock of J’onn’s appearance causes Erdel to succumb to a heart attack, though not before he apologizes for stranding the Martian. Unable to return to Mars, he disguises himself as Dr. Erdel.

The following year, Superman meets Wonder Woman in Indochina, where she celebrates with a group of women she rescued from political rebels. The Amazon allowed them to exact their own brand of fatal justice upon their captors, which Superman is horrified to learn. He reminds Diana that the government is distrustful at best of the heroes, which has led to the Justice Society’s disbanding and Hourman’sdeath, as well as Batman’s branding as a fugitive vigilante. Superman also tries to remind her that mitigating the general public’sfear is why they signed loyalty oaths to the United States government (presumably at the behest of Senator Joseph McCarthy). Diana, however, resolves that she must do what she feels is right. The two part at odds, and Diana later leaves America to return to Paradise Island. Superman later confides in Lois about Wonder Woman and Batman, neither of whom, he says, would sacrifice their principles for each other.

In Gotham, J’onn J’onzzhas been living quietly under the guise of Dr. Erdel, while learning what he can about humans and Earth society through television. He shape-shifts into different guises during his nightly viewing, such as Groucho Marx and Bugs Bunny, before settling on the form of a film noir detective.

In Las Vegas, reporter Iris West is on assignment to interview singer Buddy Blake, at the same casino where HalJordan and Ace Morgan are enjoying themselves. While Iris is on the phone with her boyfriend Barry Allen, Captain Cold arrives to rob the casino. Hearing the events on the phone, Barry races to Vegas from Central City as The Flash and confronts Cold, who tells him he’s hidden six cryogenic bombs around Vegas set to go off in ninety seconds. Flash zips around the city and locates five of the bombs, but deduces the sixth is a decoy, and captures Cold before he can escape by helicopter. Before being subdued, Cold is possessed by the unknown entity from the prologue, who asks Flash why he is faster than “the other lesser beings” before leaving the Rogue.

Hal and Ace leave the casino and head into the desert. Hal is unclear about their destination, which Ace keeps a surprise. Ace notices Hal has been acting differently, and Jordan confesses things haven’t been the same since the war and his time in the hospital. He also admits his past hospitalization has kept him from getting a job with a top aircraft company. It’s after Hal confides in Ace that the two arrive at Ferris Aircraft, where an opening as a test pilot is indeed waiting for Hal, thanks to a recommendation from his friend.

Back in Gotham, J’onn joins the Gotham City Police Department under the name “John Jones,” and with his integrity, cunning analyticalskill, and telepathy, quickly rises to the ranks of detective in just two years. After investigating a kidnapping of a child which was later discovered to be part of a sacrificial ritual for a cult that worships something called “The Centre,” J’onn and his partner Slam Bradley meet Batman for the first time as he is also investigating the kidnapping. The two cops join Batman in battle against the cult, but a fire is started during the fight, rendering J’onn powerless until Slam extinguishes it. Afterward, when Batman attempts to free the boy from his bonds, the child is terrified at the sight of him. J’onnarrives to calm the boy down and then he and his partner free the child themselves. The entity which possessed Captain Cold speaks through the incapacitated cult leader, identifying itself as “The Centre” and warning of an impending judgment.

Hal Jordan begins training exercises under Col. Rick Flaggat Ferris Industries. His joking, devil-may-care attitude rubs Flag the wrong way, but Carol Ferris is understanding and recognizes Hal’s natural ability. Carol also recognizes that Halneeds to know the true nature of his training, which she soon reveals to him: the government has commissioned Ferris Aircraft to build a spacecraft capable of travel to Mars. Specialagent King Faraday is assigned to oversee the project, which is in response to Dr. Erdel’s contact with Mars and J’onn’s arrival.

Back in Gotham, the Dark Knight reveals his knowledge of J’onn’s true nature in his apartment, as he is able to find a way to shield his mind from J’onn’s telepathy, and suggests that they should form an alliance as they are both investigating the cult that is rising throughout the world–a cult that worships the Centre. J’onn’s demonstration of kindness toward the boy led Batman to believe that he can be a trusted ally. However, he warns J’onn that should he betray him, he is fully aware of and willing to use the Martian’s vulnerability to fire against him.

In Central City, The Flash defeats Gorilla Grodd (or, rather, a robotic duplicate), but is targeted by government agents, as they attempt to capture him in an effort to learn the secret of his powers. Though he narrowly escapes, the experience leads the Flash to consider retiring from his crimefighting career.

J’onn J’onzz interrogates Harry Leiter, a former Ferris employee apprehended for murder while under the influence of the Center. During the questioning, Harry lets word slip about the launch to Mars. Leiter’s ramblings are confirmed when Faraday arrives to take him into custody. J’onnbriefly glimpses into the agent’s mind and learns the truth. After watching the Flash announce his retirement on live television, and seeing the public contemptuous response, a disheartened J’onn attempts to stow away on the rocket so that he may return home. Before leaving, he arrives in Batman’s headquarters, the Batcave, revealing that he’s been aware of Batman’s secrets for quite some time (using his cunning detective skills instead of his telepathy), and gives him the last of his research on The Centre. J’onnreveals to Batman that he’s losing faith in humanity, as he sees that there’s too much hatred, ignorance, and conformity within the people around him, which made him decide to leave Earth. Batman’s response is cold and brief, as he tells J’onn some people don’t have the luxury of leaving Earth.

While attempting to board the ship, J’onn is seen on camera by Faraday, who confronts J’onn and fights him on the launchpad. J’onn is able to beat Faraday, but saves him from the rocket exhaust by flying him to a platform before collapsing. The rocket is damaged and malfunctions shortly after exiting the atmosphere. Hal wants to attempt a landing, but his co-pilot, Col. Rick Flagg, reveals that the rocket is loaded with weapons of mass destruction, and as such he won’t risk it. After a brief struggle, Hal is ejected from the cockpit. Though he is saved by Superman, the distraction allows Flagg to detonate the rocket.

J’onn J’onzz is held as a prisoner by Faraday. Superman blasts Faraday for treating J’onn differently from him (a Kryptonianand thus also an alien), just because J’onn looks radically different. He also points out the captivity is entirely J’onn’sdecision because he can escape at any time using his powers.

On Paradise Island, Wonder Woman trains with Fury, and tells her of how America has changed since the war. Her training partner says the island has changed as well, and that many Amazons desire a change in leadership. Though Diana quickly fends off a challenge from her fellow Amazon, the two of them are soon beset upon by the approaching Center.

Hal Jordan is later found by Abin Sur, the Green Lantern of Sector 2814. The destruction of the rocket badly wounds him as he enters Earth’s atmosphere, so he instructs his ring to find a worthy replacement. He leaves his ring with Hal, and tells him of The Centre, which he describes as a “monstrous creature” that fears humans and seeks their destruction.

In the Batcave, Superman reviews J’onn’sresearch with Batman and meets Robin for the first time. Batman has altered the design of his suit so it won’t frighten an innocent, but is still able to strike terror in the heart of a criminal. As they discuss the Centre, they hear Lois reporting on the attack of a giant pterodactyl at Cape Canaveral. Superman arrives at the scene and quickly defeats the creature. Almost immediately afterwards, Wonder Woman’s invisible jet makes a crash landing, its cockpit smeared with blood. Before losing consciousness, Wonder Woman warns Superman that the Centre is coming.

Faraday eventually befriends J’onn who saved his life, and occasionally plays chess with him. J’onnreveals to Faraday that he decided to remain at the agent’s basewillingly because of the upcoming battle with The Centre, and had telepathically looked into the agent’s mind during their battle at the platform. J’onn found that Faraday believes that one day the world won’t be living in fear and hate. Finding that within Faraday, J’onn has renewed hope for humanity and decides to participate in the battle to save Earth. Before leaving with Faraday, J’onn adopts a new Martian/human superheroic hybrid form as the Martian Manhunter, believing it is honest to his heritage with a friendly appearance to human perception.

Following this, the Centre begins its attack in earnest at the coast of Florida, finally revealed as a massive flying island, with an army of mutated dinosaurs to guard it. The threat draws heroes such as Flash (whom Iris talks into coming out of retirement), Green Arrow, Adam Strange, the Challengers of the Unknown, and the Blackhawks, who clash with the soldiers on base. The conflict is stopped by Superman, who advocates cooperation between the two sides. He is unexpectedly seconded by Faraday, accompanied by J’onn, who agrees that the government and the heroes must work together for freedom. With that, Superman heads out to do reconnaissance on the Centre, but is swiftly and shockingly defeated.

Moved by his effort, the rest of Earth’s superheroes and military forces band together to defeat the Centre. Batman interrupts a meeting between Faraday, J’onn, Will Magnus and the Challengers, bringing with him Ray Palmer, a scientist known for his work with matter reduction. When one of the Challengers argues the technology is too unreliable, destabilizing anything it shrinks, Batman replies that’s exactly the point, and a plan is formed to use Palmer’s reduction ray to destabilize the island. The heroes will distract the Centre with a frontal assault (while Hal and Ace fly a bombing mission into the creature), leaving Flash to quickly crisscross the island with the ray.

While the aerial assault (including Batman and Green Arrow as pilots) is nearly outmatched before the intervention of the Blackhawks, Faraday’s ground forces are ambushed by a herd of rampaging mutant dinosaurs. J’onn is overwhelmed by the psychic impact from The Centre and is rescued by Faraday, who is shortly thereafter captured by a dinosaur. As he is about to be eaten by a tyrannosaurus, Faraday grabs two hand grenades and pulls the pins. The dinosaur swallows Faraday and immediately afterwards its head explodes from the grenade detonation, killing both it and Faraday. The shock of his friend’s death helps J’onn shake off the Centre’s hold, and he and a recovered Wonder Woman help turn the tide of the ground battle.

HalJordan and Ace Morgan manage to shoot their way into the core of the creature, but are disoriented at first by its hallucinogenic effects. The creature secretes a thick red fluid that jams their weapons and almost suffocates them. It is then that Hal’s ring activates, relaying instructions from the Guardians of the Universe as to its use. Ace manages to detonate his payload, and is rescued by Hal–now dressed in a costume identical to Abin Sur’s–just before his plane explodes.

The explosion gives the ground crew their opening as they prepare to send Flash to finish the creature. The speedster is struck by the gravity of the situation and his role in it, but J’onn reassures him that everyone will be behind him. Flash races across the ocean and leaps onto the Centre’s surface, covering the entire surface on foot before leaping into the ocean. The Centre begins to shrink, but realizing its imminent destruction, it heads toward land to destroy the humans along with it. Hal realizes what he must do, and envelops the island in green energy, then tows it into space where it explodes.

The entire world celebrates the Centre’s defeat. As many participants in the battle attend a ceremony, Hal celebrates the victory his own way by pursuing his lifelong dream: flying through space with the aid of his new power ring. During the celebration, Superman is revealed to be injured but still alive, saved by a man named Arthur, claiming to be from an underwater kingdom. He and his subjects treated Superman’s wounds during the battle with the Centre. Superman is reunited with Lois and the rest of the heroes, who are touted so on the front page of the Daily Planet.

This monumental victory and display of teamwork changes public opinion about superheroes, and a montage of various heroes and villains (with cameos by the Teen Titans, Black Manta, Brainiac, Captain Marvel, Darkseid, Black Canary, Doctor Light, Doctor Sivana, Gentleman Ghost, Harley Quinn, Joker, Key, Lex Luthor, Monocle, Plastic Man, Ra’s al Ghul, Riddler, Robin, Star Sapphire, Two-Face, and Ultra-Humanite) as well as the birth of the world’s second generation superhero team: Justice League, set to the titular John F. Kennedy speech, is shown just before the film ends.

REVIEW:

I was a fan of each incarnation of the Justice League as an animated series, and this direct to DVD release hasn’t swayed my interest.

The film seems to focus on Hal Jordan, the original Green Lantern with appearances by other members of the league in their early forms. Nothing wrong with that, per se, but this is supposed to be a film about the Justice League, not Green Lantern.

Speaking of the Green Lantern, he is supposed to be getting an animated direct to to DVD treatment soon, as well as a feature film due out in theaters in 2010. David Boreanaz really brings him to  life in this film, though. I remember an episode of  Bones where he was a reading a Green Lantern comic. I wonder if that was just something he placed there, or a slight way to plug this film.

Neil Patrick Harris as the Flash surprised me. I mean, the Flash has always been one of the lighter characters, similar to Spider Man in the Marvel Universe, and Harris seems to capture that essence.

Who better to give Wonder Woman a voice than Lucy Lawless. I personally think that Wonder Woman has some ties to Xena, but that’s just me.

I didn’t care for Jeremy Sisto as Batman, but I’m sure there are those that thought he did a good job. For me, though, he wasn’t convincing. Same goes for Kyle McLachlan as Superman.

The action in this film is very stylized and fits the time frame that they seem to be going for, but make no mistake the version of the league is not something you’ll be seeing on Cartoon Network during the day. There are many violent points, such as Hal Jordan shooting a bullet through a Russians head.

For fans of comic books and superheroes, this is a must see. For evryone else, this is a really good animated film with a decent storyline that you can get into, whether you know anything about the characters or not.

4 out of 5 stars

Snakes on a Plane

Posted in Action/Adventure, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

After witnessing the murder of a prosecutor by Asian-American gangster Eddie Kim (Byron Lawson) and his thugs, Sean Jones (Nathan Phillips) is escorted by FBI agents Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) and John Sanders (Mark Houghton) to testify against Kim in a trial in Los Angeles. Despite increased security for the flight, Kim arranges for a time-release crate full of venomous snakes to be placed in the cargo hold of South Pacific Air Flight 121, a Boeing 747-400 on which Jones will be flying from Honolulu to LAX in Los Angeles, the snakes escaping detection in the pre-flight checks due to their cold-blooded status. Leis given to passengers before they leave have been secretly sprayed with pheromones to make the snakes more aggressive in an attempt to bring down the plane before it reaches its destination.

The crate opens midway through the flight, and the snakes make their way through the cabin. A couple having sex and smoking marijuana in a bathroom are the first killed, followed by a man urinating in another bathroom due to a poisonous bite to the penis. The plane’s captain, Sam McKeon (Tom Butler), investigates an electrical short, and after fixing the problem, is killed by the viper that caused the short. Co-pilot Rick (David Koechner) believes Sam has suffered a heart attack and continues to head to LAX.

Eventually, some snakes attack Rick, and while fending them off, Rick accidentally releases the oxygen masks throughout the plane, and snakes drop into the cabin with them. Numerous passengers, including Agent Sanders, are killed in the attack. The surviving passengers, who have made their way to the front of the plane where there were no snakes, put up a blockade of luggage.

Agent Flynn contacts FBI Special Agent Hank Harris (Bobby Cannavale) on the ground who contacts ophiologist Dr. Steven Price (Todd Louiso). Price asks Flynn to gather the dead snakes so he can determine the antivenom needed. Mercedes sends photos of the dead snakes using her smartphone. Price notices that the snakes originate from all over the world and believes a Los Angeles snake dealer- LA being Eddie Kim’s home city- could have been the person who imported the foreign snakes and gathered them together with the domestic ones.

Rick is attacked by the viper that killed Sam and the plane starts to dip downwards, causing a food trolley to crash through the luggage blockade. Many passengers decide to flee to the first class cabin, where there are no snakes, while several others are killed in the chaos due to the stairway being unable to take the sheer volume of people attempting to climb it. As all the surviving passengers reach first class, the snakes continue to pursue them. The passengers block the cabin’s entrance with an inflatable liferaft. Agent Flynn and Flight Attendant Claire (Julianna Margulies) manage to regain control of the plane after a struggle with the yokes. Rick then reappears, having survived the encounter with the viper and retakes the controls. Flynn then goes into the cargo hold of the plane in order to restore the air conditioning/ventilation system, without which the plane would overheat and plummet to the ocean. He discovers a mechanical panel that has been intentionally left open to allow the snakes to reach the cabin and succeeds in fixing the ventilation system.

In Los Angeles, Harris and Price go to the snake dealer’s snake farm. After a shootout, in which he is bitten by a desert black snake, the dealer reveals that he was the person who illegally obtained the snakes for Kim’s use. He is then taken into custody, with his stock of antivenom being commandeered for the surviving snakebite victims aboard the plane.

Flynn is contacted by Harris, who lets Flynn know that he has the antivenom and that it will be ready for passengers when they reach the airport. However, Flynn discovers that the cockpit is filled with snakes and that Rick is dead. After a brief discussion, Troy (Kenan Thompson), an old friend and bodyguard to rapper Three Gs, agrees to land the plane based on prior experience. Flynn then delivers the movie’s fan-anticipated catchphrase: “Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!” After everybody gets prepared, Flynn shoots out two windows with a pistol, causing the plane to depressurize. The snakes are thus sucked out of the cockpit and the lower floor of the plane.

Flynn and Troy take the controls of the plane and Troy reveals that his only flight experience was from a PlayStation 2 video game flight simulator. After a nearly-unsuccessful emergency landing, Flight 121 makes it safely to the terminal. The surviving passengers leave the plane, and antivenom is given to those who need it. However, just as Flynn and Sean are about to get off the plane, a snake jumps out and bites Sean in the chest. Flynn draws his gun and shoots the snake, and paramedics rush to Sean, who is unharmed. Flynn rips open Sean’s shirt to reveal a bulletproof vest. The closing shots feature Sean surfing with Flynn.

REVIEW:

Who would have ever thought to use snakes as a terrorist tactic? The writers of this film are borderline geniuses for doing such a thing. I’m actually surprised no one has tried this yet, as far as I know.

Believe it or not, this is a rather subdued role for Samuel L. Jackson. Most of his roles involve him having a rather excited tone, but every now and then he gets a role where he gets the chance to use his inside voice…until the snakes piss him off!

Juliana Margulies , Kenan Thompson, and Rachel Blanchard all add some strong supporting cast mettle to this film.

Make no mistake about it, this film was meant to be a serious horror film, but it ended up as a borderline B-movie. There is nothing wrong with that, though. Some of the best films in the horror genre are in the B-movie category. I just think this film tries to take itself too seriously. There are plenty of moments that will shock and awe the audience, and others that are quite comical, but in the end, this is just a downright entertaining film. No, its not the best piece of cinema, but it is pretty good.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

54

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on March 22, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film centers around Shane O’Shea (Ryan Phillippe), a young man from Jersey City, New Jersey who is handsome enough to become a bartender at Studio 54. While working at the club, Shane befriends Anita Randazzo (Salma Hayek), an aspiring singer, and her husband Greg (Breckin Meyer). As Shane gets sucked into the hard-partying scene at Studio 54, and as his life spirals downward, so does Studio 54.

REVIEW:

In the 70s, Studio 54 was all the rage. This film captures all the sex, drugs, deceit, and debauchery that went on there during its heyday.

Ryan Philippe became a household name with this role. No one would have thought that such a young actor would be able to convey such a wide range of emotion, nor have such strong acting chops as he shows here.

Mike Myers is best known for his comedic roles, but once every blue moon he does stretch out and do a more dramatic role. This is one of those instances. Surprisingly, he gives one of the best performance of his career.

Salma Hayek is in more of a supporting role in this film, but she is no less beautiful, nor does she not give the kind of performance we expect from her. I’m not sure if it is really her singing, but if it isn’t, she’s quite the believable lip-syncher. Too bad she couldn’t have been Selena in Selena (nothing against Jennifer Lopez).

As with any film that centers around a nightclub, the music and the business are just as integral a part of the film as the cast. The music chosen really captured the spirit of the 70s. I’m not sure if I would have been able to choose better songs myself.

I liked this film, but I didn’t love it. That’s not a knock against it, but rather a statement saying that this isn’t my cup of tea. Then again, I’m not really into dramas. If not for Salma Hayek, Neve Campbell,  a strong curiosity about Myers’ performance, and the music, I probably would not have made it through this film. Having said that, though, it is worth a viewing, just so you can make your own decision. If you ask for my opinion, though, I say it’s pretty good, but no great.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars