Archive for June, 2009

The Nutty Professor

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

PLOT:

Lance Perkins (Murphy) is hosting an exercise program on TV for overweight people. Professor Sherman Klump (also Murphy) gets ready for work. Meanwhile, hamsters are overrunning Wellman College and causing general chaos. It turns out that these are the school’s laboratory hamsters that 400-pound Sherman accidentally released the night before. The problem contained, Sherman is given an update by his assistant Jason (Ales) about their latest project – an experimental formula that reconstructs the DNA of an obese person to make weight loss easy. It seems that their fattest hamster, Shelley, has lost 3 ounces, proving that the serum works. Jason suggests increasing the amount Shelley is fed, but the ever-kindly Sherman argues against it, saying it could be dangerous.

He then has an unpleasant meeting with Dean Richmond (Miller). The Dean tells him that the incident with the hamsters has cost the science department most of its funding. Harlan Hartley (Coburn) is the school’s last remaining wealthy alumnus and is planning to award a $10 million grant to the college, and Klump is warned not to alienate him as well.

After class, Sherman meets the lovely Miss Carla Purty (Pinkett), a chemistry grad student teaching a class across the hall who is a big fan of his work, and falls instantly in love with her. Later that night, Sherman dines with his portly family (most of whom are also played by Murphy), and argues with them about obesity. Cletus, his ravenous father, starts his habit of randomly passing gas. Treating this disgraceful procedure religiously, he breaks wind to the point where he has soiled himself (6 times). Sherman is hurt by the comments his father, Cletus, makes, but Sherman’s mother, Anna, tells him that he is “beautiful inside and out”, prompting Sherman to attempt to ask Carla out on a date, which she accepts.

While watching Lance Perkins on TV giving one his speeches of motivation, Sherman falls asleep and dreams he is making out with Carla on a beach but she gets buried into the sand by Sherman’s weight, Sherman awakes to Perkins telling the viewers to get up and tell themselves “Yes I can!”, which Sherman does. Now Sherman is motivated and full of energy and is determined to lose some weight. A Rocky-style montage ensues, showing Sherman trying various methods to get fit before the big date. However, although the date begins well, with Carla showing great admiration for Sherman’s work with Shelley, it turns into a disaster when Sherman falls victim to the evening’s star entertainer, an insult comic called Reggie Warrington (Chappelle), who humiliates him with cruel jokes about his obesity. Back at Carla’s home, with tears in his eyes, Sherman says goodbye to his date.

Later that night, alone and depressed at home, Sherman stuffs himself with junk food while watching Perkins console a fat woman who tells a sad story about how a man asked her out as an excuse to make fun of her obesity. Sherman dozes off in front of the TV set, and has another nightmare in which he becomes the fattest man in the world and lays waste to the city with a single fart which is lit on fire accidentally. When he wakes, he finally yields to the temptation to try his new serum on himself. It seems to work perfectly: in seconds, he loses 250 pounds and becomes slim and fit. However, with his new body, Sherman also develops a split personality as well, the high testosterone levels causing his new personality to be overly confident and assertive, as well as demonstrating a desire to resort to violence on more than one occasion.

The following day, while still slim, he starts to flirt with Carla, who comes to the lab looking for Sherman. Quickly inventing the name “Buddy Love” for his new alter ego- based on a security guard saying “Hey, buddy, what the hell happened here?”, although ‘Love’ is his own contribution-, he invites Carla back to The Scream. However, the serum then begins to wear off, one hand bulking up and his voice returning to normal, and he ushers Carla out. Carla later tells Sherman about Buddy, and Sherman encourages her to go out with him. At The Scream, Buddy turns up very late in a brand new Dodge Viper and persuades an angry Carla (who is about to leave) to go back inside. This time, when Reggie appears, Buddy heckles him mercilessly, fires off a barrage of jokes about his mother’s weight, and finally takes the stage himself as he performed a piece from Minnie Riperton’s 1975 hit Lovin’ You and forced Reggie to do Minnie’s signature high-pitched squeal, then throwing the comedian into a piano.

Buddy returns to Carla, who is delighted with him. He gives a waiter a credit card to pay for the meal. Buddy and Carla then share a kiss. Immediately after, the serum begins to wear off and Buddy makes a quick exit, attributing it to an allergic reaction to Carla’s lipstick (The ‘bulking up’ began with his lower lip). Jason happens to be at the bar and notes the card Buddy is using belongs to Sherman. He follows Buddy into the sports car to confront him, only to learn Sherman’s secret when he discovers him in mid-transformation, culminating in Sherman having to be cut out of the car when he is too big to use the door.

The next morning, Sherman is very late for a class, and his students have all left. The Dean, however, is there, and he confronts Sherman about the sports car, which Buddy bought on Sherman’s faculty account. The Dean threatens to ‘strangle Sherman and cut off his air supply until he passes away’ if he screws up again and asks him to meet Hartley at a hotel restaurant, called The Ritz, to describe the weight-loss serum.

Later, in the lab, Jason tells Sherman that he can’t control Buddy, whose testosterone levels keep rising, using his out-of-character attitude as Buddy as an example. He warns him not to use the serum again and to focus instead on the research for Hartley. Later, Carla talks to Sherman about her date with Buddy, and Sherman takes the opportunity to ask Carla to dinner with his family, who promptly embarrass him by making various suggestive comments about their relationship and Cletus farts again. His confidence low, and after Carla mentions that she would like the opportunity to get to know the caring person she sometimes sees in Buddy’s eyes, he uses the serum again. Jason tries to stop Buddy, soon Sherman tries to communicate to Jason from deep down inside Buddy and instructs Jason to go into the storage closet to get an antidote, but the muscled Don Juan regains control and locks Jason in before departing.

Buddy, who is becoming ever more aggressive, takes Carla out on a second date, this time to the hotel where Sherman was to meet Hartley. The Dean, looking for Sherman, asks Carla if she knows where Sherman is, but Carla asks Buddy if he could take Sherman’s place. With the Dean desperate to get the grant, he allows Buddy to talk to Hartley, Buddy subsequently taking all the credit for the work. Hartley and the Dean are both impressed, the Dean later asking if Buddy would be willing to fill in for Sherman on a more permanent basis.

Buddy then picks up three beautiful women at the hotel, and invites Carla to participate in some “group action”, only for her to dump him. Undaunted, he throws a loud party at Sherman’s house that night, burning all the health food products in Sherman’s fridge. Sherman, having transformed back during the night, wakes in a wrecked apartment surrounded by strange women, with no memory of the night before. When he turns to see what has happened, he is stunned. Waking up in bed with the apartment in shambles around him, however, is the least of his problems.

Carla arrives shortly thereafter to tell Sherman that she’s left Buddy, as well as to apologise about her encouraging Buddy to talk to Hartley. One of the women from the hotel the night before comes out of Sherman’s room asking for Buddy, and Carla thinks. Sherman is as unfaithful as Buddy- to the extent that the two of them actually share women. To add to Sherman’s problems, as he chases after her, he finds an eviction notice taped to his front door by his unseen grouchy downstairs neighbor and landlord, Mr. Wilson, due to all the noise Buddy and the party were making the night before. Jason then enters the scene and tells Sherman that they need to head over to the lab. Trying to collect himself, Sherman tells Jason that it needs to wait until later. However, Jason stresses that there won’t be a later, and a visit to the lab confirms that- Dean Richmond has fired Sherman, replaced him with Buddy, given him Sherman’s ticket to the alumni ball, and in gloating promises to ruin Sherman.

At home, depressed, Sherman accidentally activates the VCR, where Buddy has left a message taunting Sherman and encouraging him to take the serum once again. This inspires Sherman to take his life back, resolved to prove that he can defeat Buddy. He and Jason start destroying all the serum samples, but when he sips a diet drink that Buddy has craftily filled with the serum, he transforms again. Buddy, who has “taken on a life of his own” with a vengeance, tells Jason that he has calculated that, if he drinks 500 mL of the serum, he will have enough cellular stability to be thin forever, thus “killing” Sherman; however, he cannot drink all of that serum at once, as it will (literally) kill Sherman and Buddy with it. Buddy, however, has a plan, to drink 250 mL of the serum while still in the lab and the other 250 at the alumni ball. He then knocks Jason out and heads to the alumni ball to carry out his plan, which will simultaneously prove the validity of Sherman’s research.

Buddy arrives at the ball three hours late and starts acting rowdy to the disgrace of Dean Richmond, who scolds him for not being there on time. Buddy responds by threatening the Dean in the same way he threatened Sherman (by strangling him to death). He then begins to make his way to the stage, where his plan will be put into place.

Back at the lab, Jason regains consciousness just in time to see a warning on the lab computer that Buddy’s testosterone levels are at a lethally high 60,000% and darts out of the lab to head for the ball. There, Buddy begins to demonstrate the effects of the serum to the amazed audience (which includes the Dean, Carla, Hartley, and Sherman’s parents), allowing himself to briefly ‘bulk up’ just enough to demonstrate how one sip of the serum is effective enough to make him then. Then, as he prepares to drink the second dose of serum to stay Buddy Love forever, Jason runs in, and tries to stop him. Buddy punches Jason, but Jason hits back.

As Buddy stands poised to return a blow, Sherman starts to “fight” him for control of his body: fat and thin body parts- beginning with his right fist and subsequently varying around the rest of his body- alternate with increasing speed while Buddy’s voice shouts “You can’t beat me!” and Sherman’s voice replies “Yes I can!”. Eventually, after a violent transformation/confrontation, Sherman wins the struggle. Still on stage, he tells the awed alumni that, while he started out wanting to help people, what he did was selfish and foolish, and that he has learned that the important thing is to accept himself as he is, rather than being unhappy about how much he weighs. He leaves, but Carla stops him and asks why did he lie. He explains that he did not believe that she would accept him and she assures him that it doesn’t matter if he is overweight or not. Carla asks him to dance and he agrees yes, Jason subsequently arriving with a tuxedo that fits. The two subsequently dance for the rest of the night, much to the approval of Jason and Sherman’s family. Harley then tells the Dean that he’s decided to give Sherman the grant because he’s “a brilliant scientist, and a gentleman.”

REVIEW:

In Coming to America, Eddie Murphy showed us that he could turn himself into totally different characters with a little makeup and his natural talents. Characters that we would never know were him if not for the acknowledgement in the end credits.

Murphy takes on the mantle of about 7 characters in this film. A few you can tell are him. Obviously, the main character, Sherman Klump, is Murphy, but so are all the other Klumps, except for the youngest. If you look close enough, you can tell that they are Murphy, but the brother had me fooled into believe was not Murphy. 

This is Eddie Murphy at his best, not to mention the fact that he doesn’t look weird as he does these days. With a mixture of gross out comedy, natural comedic genus, and some heartfelt loser moments, e makes Sherman Klump a tragic hero. Now, the “Mr. Hyde” side of that coin, Buddy Love, is brash, cocky, annoying, basically its everything people said Murphy was in the early days of his career. I have to wonder if he drew on that as part of the character’s development.

Jada Pinkett-Smith plays Sherman (and Buddy)’s love interest, Dr. Carla Purty. Yes, her name is Purty. The name comes from the original The Nutty Professorfilm starring Jerry Lee Lewis. Pinkett-Smith doesn’t quite seem comfortable in this role. I think that may be because most of the parts I’ve seen her in are strong women, and Carla is more of a subdued character. Having said that, aside from the strange tan hair, she has never looked better.

Dave Chappelle makes a brief, but memorable appearance as Reggie Warrington, a comic whose shtick is making fun of people’s flaws. It is he who inadvertently pushes Sherman to create the formula that “releases” Buddy Love. At the time this film was made, Chappelle was still relatively unknown, so no doubt, this role got him noticed.

With all the talk of obesity these days, its good to take a step back and see a film that makes fun of the obsession with being thin. Granted there wasn’t that big of a problem in ’96, and especially not back when Jerry Lee Lewis made the original, but that’s not the point. It’s good to know that a film exists that deals with weight issues from a, pardon the pun, light point of view.

While many were offended by the infamous table scene, that is one of the best parts of the film. Critics are just too stuck on their high horse to enjoy anything. Sometimes its just good to forget everything you know and enjoy something as its made. That is the real fun of films such as this one. I love this film. Its not the best picture in the world, but it accomplishes its goal of making the audience laugh, maintaining their attention, and being entertaining.

4 out of 5 stars

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Kindergarten Cop

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

PLOT:

The taciturn, stubborn, autocratic, violent Police Detective John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has pursued drug dealer Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson) for years. He finally arrests Crisp for murder, but is unable to convict him due to the refusal of a witness named Cindy (whose boyfriend Danny was shot and killed by Crisp) to identify the killer. After Kimble psychologically humbles Cindy, Crisp is identified in a police line-up. Kimble, accompanied by Detective Phoebe O’Hara (Pamela Reed), is then ordered to go undercover in Astoria, Oregon, to find Crisp’s ex-wife Rachel and their son, who are hiding from him, and offer her a deal to testify against Cullen. Since their appearance is not known to them, O’Hara is to act as the substitute teacher of the son’s kindergarten class at Astoria Elementary School while Kimble has to track down the identity of the mother, who is believed to have stolen money from Crisp.

Unfortunately, O’Hara, who is hypoglycemic, gets a terrible case of the stomach flu and falls ill at the last moment. Kimble therefore takes the teacher’s job, much to the suspicion of the school principal, Miss Schlowski (Linda Hunt). Despite having no teaching experience — and thus initially collapsing beneath the stress—Kimble soon adapts progressively to his new status. Using his tame ferret as a class pet, his police training as a model for structure of the classes, fun games such as “Who Is Your Daddy And What Does He Do?”, and positive reinforcement, he becomes a much-admired and cherished figure to the children despite the aggravation they bring him. In turn, Kimble begins to love his cover job and his young charges, even to the point of manhandling an abusive father whose son Zach attends Kimble’s class.

Kimble becomes passionately fond of his student Dominic’s mother Joyce (Penelope Ann Miller), who also works at the school. Joyce, like many other of the students’ mothers, is on terms of estrangement from her husband, so that she will not speak of him. This excites the suspicions of Kimble. In a conversation with the gradually more trusting Joyce, Kimble learns that Joyce and his quarry Rachel are one and the same, and conveys this to O’Hara.

Crisp is released from jail when his attorney arranges for his mother Eleanor (Carroll Baker) to poison Cindy, who is the only witness. When they receive the news of Cindy’s death and Crisp’s release, Kimble and O’Hara tell Joyce the truth of their mission. She tells them that she never stole any money, but that Crisp wishes to control Dominic. She then leaves in a rush. Kimble attempts to track them down, to find that Dominic has gone without the knowledge of his mother to plant toy lasers in a radio-transmitter tower. Dominic has been raised believing that his mother has enemies, identified only as the “bad people”; to quell his own feelings of helplessness, he has made these toys and now wishes to put them into action. Kimble, remembering this, is able to retrieve Dominic. Joyce and Kimble share a kiss, as a sign of her gratitude and his protection.

During the next day, at the school, a newly arrived Crisp deliberately causes a fire in the library, which triggers the school fire alarm and initiates an evacuation as a diversion for the rest of the school children, and thus abducts his son; the other children, who have been put on the alert by O’Hara, see him and he flees. While Kimble searches for them, a frightened Dominic attempts to escape his kidnapper. Outside, O’Hara attempts to get in the building, but is kept outside by the firefighters. She takes her revolver out of her purse and runs around to the back of the school to get in, but is struck by Eleanor’s 1989 Buick Century, after which Eleanor steals her gun. In the school’s locker room, Kimble and Crisp fight over Dominic. When Kimble has the upper hand, Crisp threatens to kill his son. Just as Crisp is about to shoot Kimble, Kimble’s tame ferret emerges from Dominic’s shirt, where he had been concealed, and bites Crisp on the neck (earlier, Kimble told the children that ferret doesn’t bite), causing Crisp to shoot Kimble in the leg. Kimble grabs his gun and kills Crisp by shooting him three times in the chest. Dominic, Joyce, and the ferret escape.

Eleanor enters and threatens the wounded Kimble. As she is about to kill him, an apparently intact but injured O’Hara enters and knocks her unconscious with a baseball bat. Eleanor is arrested, while the unconscious Kimble (much to the sadness of the children) is hospitalized. During his recovery, O’Hara and her chef fiancée announce their marriage, inviting him to it.

While Kimble recovers, he comes back to the school to visit his kindergarten classroom. While he is visiting, Joyce sees him and kisses him in front of all the kids.  Other Reviewers have said the Kimble returns as a full time teacher of his Kindergarten class, and leaves the police force. This is due to the fact that O’Hara needs to ask where to send the wedding invite (California or Astoria), even though his assignment in Astoria has finished. And also, when the school principal (Linda Hunt) says to Kimble as he re-enters the classroom “They’re all yours”, and hands him his teaching whistle, whereupon Kimble is given a hearty welcome back by Phoebe and his pupils.

REVIEW:

Cops go undercover all the time, but not many, if any, of them look like Arnold Schwarzanegger. Can you imagine being a kindergartner and this giant, scary dude suddenly becomes your teacher?

Even a big tough guy like Schwarzenegger can get overwhelmed by a bunch of 6 yr olds. Part of this is because he isn’t exactly a big kid loving person and only took this job because his partner was too sick to start the assignment. As John Kimble, Schwarzenegger exhibits his typical hard, tough guy exterior. That is, until he is softened up by his unexpected compassion for the kids and fellow teacher Rachael, played by Penelope Ann Miller.

Miller is a beautiful woman, no question. I remember my elementary school teachers having a similar look (something happened around jr. high…they all became a bunch of old women instead). Aside from her beauty, she isn’t a bad actress either. This really shows when Kimble tells her he’s a cop and she has to show all the emotion of being lied to, concern for her son Dominic, and fear.

Richard Tyson is a total unknown to me. As a matter of fact, I think this is the only thing he’s known for. As Cullen Crisp, he seems to be a bit unstable, as well as being a mama’s boy. Crisp is hell-bent on getting his son back, since Rachael ran off with him and will do anything he can to see that happen. He even attacks a man in the street for a toy car set for the boy (who he doesn’t even have possession of). When he finally does manage to get his hands on Dominic, he appears to be driven insane because he doesn’t recognize him as his father. This guy is a total nutcase.

Pamela Reed brings in some comic relief as Kimble’s partner, Phoebe. Phoebe was originally supposed to be the kindergarten teacher, since she has the teaching experience, but caught some sort of stomach flu on the plane,and well, the rest is film plot. Reed has a memorable scene where she feigns an Austrian accent (which is actually thicker than Arnold’s). This film would not be as entertaining without her.

The kids in the class each have their own little quirks. Would you expect less? There is one diamond in the rough, though. Look for a young Odette Yustman as Rosa.

Is there any reason to dislike this film. I’m sure critics, naysayers, and those that are nit-picky can find something. Me, I liked it. I don’t love it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t willingly watch it again. That’s my opinion, though. You have to make you own assessment.

4 out of 5 stars

Return of the Jedi

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

PLOT:

Luke Skywalker, having fashioned himself as a Jedi Knight, initiates a plan to rescue the frozen Han Solo from the vile crime lord Jabba the Hutt with the help of Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, C-3PO, and R2-D2. Leia infiltrates Jabba’s palace on Tatooine disguised as a bounty hunter and releases Han from his carbonite prison, but is caught and forced to serve as Jabba’s slave girl. Luke arrives the next morning and allows himself to be captured. Jabba sentences Luke and Han to be fed to the monstrous Sarlacc. As he is about to be put to death, Luke breaks free and a large battle erupts; in the ensuing chaos, Leia strangles Jabba to death with her slave chains, Han inadvertently knocks Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who captured him, into the gaping maw of the Sarlacc, and Luke, escaping with his allies, destroys Jabba’s sail barge. As Han and Leia rendezvous with the other Rebels, Luke returns to Dagobah where he finds that Yoda is dying. With his last breaths, Yoda confirms that the evil Darth Vader is Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker, and that Luke must confront him again to become a true Jedi Knight. He and the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi also reveal that Luke has a twin sister, whom Luke deduces to be Leia.

The Rebel Alliance learn that the Empire has been constructing a new Death Star, larger and more powerful than the first. In a plan to destroy the new weapon, Han is elected to lead a strike team to destroy the battle station’s shield generator on the forest moon of Endor, allowing a squadron of starfighters to enter the incomplete infrastructure and destroy the station from within. Returning from Dagobah, Luke joins the strike team along with Leia and the others, but soon fears that, sensing Darth Vader’s presence, he may be endangering the mission. On Endor, Luke and his companions encounter a primitive yet intelligent tribe of Ewoks and form an alliance with them. Later, Luke confesses to Leia everything he knows about his relationship to Vader and to her, and that he is leaving to confront Vader one more time, believing that there is still good in him.

Luke and Vader board the Death Star and meet the evil Emperor, who reveals that Luke’s allies are walking into a trap. Back on Endor, the Rebels are captured by Imperial forces, but a surprise counterattack by the Ewoks allows the Rebels to fight back. During the strike team’s assault, Lando leads the Rebel fleet in the Millennium Falconto the Death Star, only to find the station’s shield is still up. As a dogfight ensues, the Emperor tempts Luke to give in to his anger and join the dark side of the Force. A lightsaber duel between Luke and Vader erupts, during which Vader searches Luke’s thoughts and learns that Luke has a sister. When Vader suggests she would turn to the dark side instead, Luke cannot contain his anger and viciously attacks his father, slicing off his hand. However, he comes to his senses and, despite the Emperor’s goading, spares his father and declares himself a Jedi. Enraged, the Emperor begins to slowly kill Luke with Force lightning. His son’s agonized pleas for help causes Vader to repent, becoming Anakin Skywalker once more. He turns on the Emperor and casts him down a reactor shaft to his death, but is mortally wounded by the Emperor’s lightning. At his request, Luke removes Anakin’s mask to look into the eyes of the pale, withered man that is his father. Having seen his son with his own eyes for the first, last and only time, Anakin dies, finally at peace.

Back on Endor, the strike team finally destroys the shield generator, allowing the Rebel fleet to launch a final assault on the Death Star. Lando leads the remaining ships deep into the station’s core and fires at the main reactor, causing it to collapse. Luke escapes on an Imperial shuttle with his father’s body before the Death Star explodes, and Lando escapes in the Millennium Falcon. On Endor, Leia reveals to Han that Luke is her brother, and they share a kiss. That evening, Luke returns to Endor and cremates his father’s armor on a funeral pyre. The entire galaxy celebrates the fall of the Empire. During the Rebels’ own celebration on Endor, Luke catches sight of the spiritual figures of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and his redeemed father, who watch over them with pride.

REVIEW:

The final film in the Star WArs saga is a fitting conclusion that warps everything thing up in a nice little package.

All the characters return for this gigantic climax, and we’re introduced to the Ewoks, as well as actually get to meet the Emperor.

Emperor Palpatine, as it turns out, is the one who has been pulling all the strings and more or less runs the universe. Before the prequel trilogy was release, this wasn’t common knowledge. Surprisingly, though, Palpatine is played by the same actor in each film, except for his brief appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. I thought it was a different actor, but apparentl Ian McDiarmid IS the Emperor.

A lot of people call the Ewoks, mini Wookies. When you see them with Chewbacca, you can see why they would say this, but I still don’t think its a good enough reason to call them that. The Ewoks are their own race and are totally different from the Wookies. The only similarities between the two races are that they are both fuzzy/hairy.

In Empire, Vader was let off the leash and wrecked all types of havoc. Sadly, in this one, he is scaled back and for the most part, is a much softre character than he is in the previouis two films, and maybe even in the entire saga.

When we first me Luke Skywalker, he was an insecure, rebellious kid. His first appearance in this film leads us to believe he’s a confident Jedi knight. In the battle about the sand cruiser, his skills shine through.

Han and Leia take a backseat to Luke’s saga, but they are not without their moments, such as their budding romance, Leia’s discovery that she’s Luke’s sister, Han getting released from carbonite, etc.

Jabba’s palace is a disgusting place. It reminds me of the fat kings or grungy gangsters from cartoons. I wonder if those were the influence. Still, its not without it’s impressive points, such as the Rancor and the Sarlacc, as well as the plethora of character alines in Jaba’s throneroom.

So, of course, I have to bring up the addition that Geoge Lucas made to the DVD in an attempt to “enhance the viewer’s experience”. They suck! first off, we have this weird song that was thrown in during the inital throneroom scene. Obviously, thiswas meant to capture the audience way “Cantina Band” does, but it just doesn’t work. Next we have the celebration at end of the film. The idea is good, but it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the film. It is quite obvious that they tacked it on. Finally, before the end credits run, Luke looks over and seen Obi-Wan, Yoda, and his father, Anakin. Originally, he saw the actor that played Anakin in the 3 films, but he has since been replaced with Hayden Christensen. Not to take anything away from Hayden, because I understand the reasoning behind all this, but I honestly think they should have left well enough alone.

The action scenes are just as awesome as the previous films. The lightsabe duel doesn’t have the intensoty of its predecssor, but the stakes are different and that influenced it, I belive. All this aside. This is a bit of a downgrade from its predecessor, but it is still an awesome flick and no one should live their life without seeing it and the other two parts of the “holy trinity.”

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

27 Dresses

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , on June 27, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jane Nichols (Katherine Heigl) has been a bridesmaid for 27 weddings. One night when she is attending two weddings almost simultaneously, she meets Kevin Doyle (James Marsden), who helps her home but repulses her with his cynical views of marriage and finds the planner she left behind in the taxi they shared.

Meanwhile, Jane’s younger sister Tess (Malin Akerman) comes home to visit for a couple of weeks and falls in love with Jane’s boss George (Edward Burns). Tess pretends to like the same things George does so that she can get him to like her; despite loving George herself, Jane does not reveal the truth and the courtship progresses rapidly. Soon the new couple announce that they intend to marry in only three weeks. Jane’s and Tess’s father gives Tess their mother’s wedding dress to wear, even though Jane had always wanted to wear it to her own wedding. The reporter who agrees to cover their wedding for the society page turns out to be Kevin, who writes wedding announcements under a pseudonym: Malcolm Doyle. The reason he didn’t return Jane’s planner, after finding it, was so he could gather material for a piece on the “perennial bridesmaid” and hopefully be promoted to writing investigative pieces about “real” news.

Jane is unaware of Kevin’s intentions and, when he asks to interview her for his column on Tess, gets her to try on all 27 bridesmaids dresses in her closet. He takes pictures of her in all of them and sends the completed article to his boss. As they get to know each other because of Tess’s wedding, Kevin begins to think that Jane is not as one-dimensional as he thought, and asks his editor to hold his article so he can “fix” it.

Jane becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that Tess still hasn’t been honest with George. She almost tells George the truth about her sister when Tess is away and Jane is helping him choose dinner for the reception. Kevin walks in on the meal and realizes that Jane is in love with George and can’t understand how she can go on planning her sister’s wedding. Kevin and Jane drive to Rhinebeck to pick up linens for the wedding, they get stuck in a rain storm and eventually so does their car. After they seek shelter at a bar, they get drunk and sing “Bennie and the Jets”. After finishing their song, they share their first kiss. They have sex in Jane’s car.

The next day, Kevin’s article is published along with all the pictures of Jane in her dresses, leaving her hurt and embarrassed. Upon getting back to the city, she must also deal with an enraged Tess whom Kevin had portrayed (somewhat correctly) as a bridezilla. To save face, Tess writes a script of what she wants Jane to say along with the slide-show to be shown at the rehearsal dinner. Jane is horrified when she finds out that Tess had their mother’s wedding dress cut up to make it look more fashionable. At the rehearsal dinner, Jane says what Tess wants but fills the slide-show with pictures depicting the real Tess, and George finally learns that Tess isn’t who he thought she was. The wedding is called off and Jane sees Kevin as she leaves the dinner. He gives her a BlackBerry to replace her Filofax, telling Jane that he was happy she finally stood up for herself and, though she is mad at him about the article, he just wanted to come to the dinner and be there for her.

Later at work, George tells Jane that he appreciates her because she never says no. Remembering that Kevin once said the same thing as a criticism, Jane quits and admits she only stayed at the job because she was in love with George. She discovers after an experimental kiss that she no longer loves him and decides to meet Kevin. She announces in front of the entire crowd at a wedding that he is covering that she is in love with him. Kevin then kisses Jane.

One year later, Jane puts on her 28th dress — her wedding dress and marries Kevin. George and Tess meet again since breaking up, and Tess reintroduces herself, being completely honest this time. Tess and Casey (Judy Greer), Jane’s best friend, are her maids of honor. All 27 brides Jane has been a bridesmaid for are bridesmaids for her, each wearing the dress Jane had worn in their weddings.

REVIEW:

I’m not very well versed n weddings or anything that has to do with them, but I don’t something just isn’t right about a woman who’s been a bridesmaid 27 times (and kept the dresses), but never even came close to being the bride. It takes that old saying, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” to heart.

Katherine Heigl is said woman who has been the bridesmaid 27 times and is a bit of a doormat. In typical chick flick fashion, though, she gets pissed off at James Marsden’s article and changes her life. Heigl is deceptively funny is what would otherwise be a rather drab movie, especially in scenes with Marsden. She also plays the vulnerable woman in a way that would make the queen of romantic comedies, Meg Ryan, proud.

James Marsden seems to fit these kind of roles perfectly. He has natural comedic and acting talents, plus he has the look of a normal guy, as opposed to some kind of hearthrob. Having said all that, though, this is not my favorite performance of his. Its not necessarily bad, I just think he’s done, and can do, better.

Malin Akerman has a line in the film where she says laments being called a “bridezilla”. Funny thing is, all the reasons she gives for not being one are the exact reasons she was called one. Akerman is brilliantly cast as the younger sister. Throughout most of the film, it is obvious to the audience that she is the, for lack of a better term, spoiled, privelaged sister. That is, until big sister Jane, growns some balls and ruins her at the most inopportune moment. This leads to the revelation that her life isn’t so perfect after all. Akerman’s emotion seem so real and genuine, that you go from detesting her to actually feeling sorry for her.

Judy Greer and Edward Burns play strong supporting roles. Judy is Jane’s best friend and, I believe, if they would have given her better material, could have really stole the show, but it seemed like they were holding her back. Burns is Jane’s boss and Tess’ fiancee. There are no negative qualities about the guy, character-wise or in terms of his acting.

The trailers for this film made me believe there was going to be a lot more comedy. Instead, it turns out that there were only 1 or 2 laugh out loud hysterical moments, the rest of the time is subtle humor and typical chick flick drama. I guess I shouldn’t really have expected more from a film whose subject matter is a bunch of bridesmaid dresses. Still, it didn’t suck.

Would I bend over backwards to se this again? No, but remember, I am a guy, so you should have guessed that. I see this as one of those “girls night” flicks, but you have to make your own opinion.

3 out of 5 stars

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (stage version)

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

PLOT:

Wrongly imprisoned (and completely insane) barber Benjamin Barker (George Hearn) is released from prison only to find that a corrupt judge is tormenting his daughter. Assuming the name Sweeney Todd, Barker decides it’s time to cut more than just the judge’s hair! Angela Lansbury is delightful as the equally warped Mrs. Lovett, who sells meat pies made from the corpses of Sweeney’s victims. Composer Stephen Sondheim’s richest, most complex score.

REVIEW:

I honestly cannot say that I’ve ever watched an entire play/musical/opera performed on stage om film until watching this film makes me have an even greater appreciation for what they do.

I have a strong belief that if I would have seen this version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, I’d probably prefer it to the film version, but things didn’t work out that way.

Angela Lansbury is a bright spot for this cast. As distinguished an actress as she is, oft times we forget that she can sing.

George Hearn is no Johnny Depp, but he is a capable actor and pulls of Sweeney with conviction.

I am at a loss of words as to what to say for this. For the most part, it is the ext same thing as the movie, just done on the stage. The songs are he full length, and of course, there are the limits of the stage (taking into consideration this is 1982, I believe). Having said all this. If you’re really into stage plays and musicals and such, but don’t live somewhere where you can see them on a regular basis. Check this out.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Wizard

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 27, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jimmy (Edwards) is a young boy who has suffered from a serious mental disorder ever since his twin sister drowned in a river. He doesn’t interact with anyone, he spends most of his time building things out of blocks or boxes, and he always carries his lunchbox with him. He has tried to run away to California many times. The trauma of the drowning and Jimmy’s condition has broken up his family: he lives with his mother and stepfather, while his half-brothers Corey (Savage) and Nick (Christian Slater) live with their father Sam (Beau Bridges). When Jimmy is put into an institution, Corey breaks him out and runs away with him to California. Hired by Jimmy’s mother and stepfather is Putnam (Will Seltzer), a greedy and sleazy, runaway child hunter, who competes with Corey’s father and older brother to find the boys and sabotage each other’s efforts.

Along the way, they meet a girl named Haley (Lewis), who is on her way home to Reno. Discovering that Jimmy has an innate skill at playing video games, Haley tells them about a video game tournament with a cash prize of $50,000 and then agrees to help the two reach Los Angeles to participate in it for a cut of the money. By doing so, they hope to prove that Jimmy doesn’t need to live in an institution. The trio hitchhike across the country, using Jimmy’s skill and appearance to hustle people out of their money by playing video games. Along the way, they encounter Lucas Barton (Jackey Vinson), a teenage boy who shows off his Power Glove and his skills at Rad Racer, declaring he is also entering the championships.

They finally arrive in Reno, where it is revealed that Haley wants her share of the prize money to help her father buy a house. With the help of an acquaintance trucker, Spankey (Frank McRae), they use money won at the craps tables to train Jimmy on several games in the Reno arcades, using Play Choice 10 machines. They then head to the Championships at Universal Studios Theme Park, where the game played in the preliminaries is Ninja Gaiden. Jimmy qualifies as a finalist, but is pointed out to Putnam by Lucas (also a finalist) and the three are chased throughout the park, barely making it to the finals. The game in the finals is Super Mario Bros. 3, which at the time had not been released in the US (it was only available in Japan), and Jimmy wins the tournament at the last second.

The family catches up to the children during the finals of the tournament. On the way home, they drive past the Cabazon Dinosaurs, a tourist trap at which the family often stopped when they vacationed in California. Upon seeing the exhibit, Jimmy becomes extremely restless, chanting “California” and forcing his family to pull the car over. Jimmy immediately jumps out and races toward the dinosaurs, his family in pursuit. He associates the dinosaurs with his sister, with whom he visited them in the past, and he leaves his lunch box, which contains photographs and other mementos of his sister, inside one of the dinosaurs.

REVIEW:

I remember when this film came out there were a couple of shown on the air that were video game competitions. One was on WGN, and I can’t remember the name of it to save my life, and the other was Nick Aracde on Nickelodeon. Not sure if they’re creation/airing has anything to do with this film, but the idea had to come from somewhere, right?

It’s kind of funny that Fred Savsage is playing a kid named Corey since his little brother, Ben, would go on to play one in his own series Boy Meet World. Fred doesn’t necessarily light up the screen, but he doesn’t suck, either. There are times when it feels as if he’s just going through the motions, and others where his talent shines through.

Jenny Lewis’ character is obviously thrown in to bring some female viewers into this film. She isn’t really a likable character. Most of the time she’s bossing Corey around. As the film comes to an end, though, she softens up and gains some likability. Still, I think she’s unnecessary, but that’s just me.

Beau Bridges and Christian Slater also star as the father and big brother, respectively. It is a bit of a subplot that their relationship is strained, but grows as the film progresses.

The real star of the film is Jimmy, played by Luke Edwards, and his video game skills.  The climax of the film is a video game contest, but in order to get there and make it to the finals, one has to be pretty good. It is believed that Jimmy is some sort of prodigy.

For a little family film, there sure are a lot of complex storylines going here. I believe this is why the film isn’t as good as it could be. Fact is, they just need to focus on the kids headed to California and the issues that go along with that, and maybe, just maybe, the bounty hunter stuff. Maybe it’s just me, but I think they could have made a deal with Nintendo to show more video game stuff.

All that being said, this is a pretty good family film. I wonder, though, now that I’ve watched it, if there’ll be news of remake next week. That seems to be the pattern, these days. The film would allow one, because of the technology involved, but the story and characters should stay the same. Just my two cents.

3 out of 5 stars

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 17,000 BC, ancient Transformers called the Dynasty of Primes scoured the universe with the intention of draining the energy from stars to create Energon and power the AllSpark, the life source of the Transformers, using a machine called a Sun Harvester. The Primes agreed that life-bearing worlds would be spared, but one of their own betrayed the others and constructed a Sun Harvester on Earth. A battle broke out which resulted in the Dynasty sealing themselves away, dying in the process, in order to hide the Matrix of Leadership, the key used to power the Sun Harvester. The treacherous Prime was dubbed the Fallen, and vowed to seek revenge upon Earth.

In the present day, set two years after the events of the first film, Optimus Prime leads NEST, a military organization consisting of American and British troops and his own team of Autobots. The Autobots consist of old and newcomers, Prime having sent an invitation message to all Autobots to come to Earth after the destruction of the AllSpark, which doomed their home planet of Cybertron. The new Autobots include Arcee, Sideswipe, Jolt, and the Twins Skids and Mudflap. During one mission, one of the Decepticons, Demolishor, declares, “The Fallen shall rise again.”

Sam Witwicky heads off to college to continue a normal life, leaving behind his Autobot guardian Bumblebee and his girlfriend Mikaela Banes. He finds a piece of the Allspark, and gives it to Mikaela for safekeeping. Wheelie attempts to steal the shard but is captured by Mikaela. Sam meets his college roommate, Leo Spitz, who runs an alien conspiracy website. He also meets Alice, who makes aggressive advances towards him.

Soundwave, a Decepticon intelligence officer, hacks into a satellite to eavesdrop the NEST forces, learning the location of the dead Decepticon leader Megatron and another piece of the AllSpark. He deploys Ravage to retrieve the shard, which is then used to resurrect Megatron. Megatron flies through space to a Decepticon spacecraft, where he is reunited with Starscream and his master, the Fallen. The Fallen instructs Megatron to capture Sam, as his mind now contains the Allspark’s knowledge, including the location of the Sun Harvester. Sam has a mental breakdown in his astronomy class, writing Cybertronian symbols on the chalkboard. Mikaela comes to his aid just as Alice attacks, revealed to be a DecepticonPretender, a Transformer in a human guise. Sam, Mikaela and Leo drive off, running over Alice in the process, but are then captured by Grindor. Scalpel, a Decepticon doctor, prepares to remove Sam’s brain, but Optimus and Bumblebee appear and rescue him. In the following battle, Optimus takes on the Decepticons on his own, killing Grindor, however, he is ultimately killed himself, stabbed from behind by Megatron.

Megatron orders a full-scale assault on the planet. The Fallen speaks to the world and advises them to surrender Sam to the Decepticons or they’ll continue their attack. Sam’s parents are captured by Rampage. Sam, Mikaela, Leo, Bumblebee, the Twins and Wheelie regroup, Leo believing his online rival “RoboWarrior” may be of assistance. The man is revealed to be former Sector Seven agent Simmons. Simmons reveals his hidden alien archive and explains that the Transformers have visited Earth before, as their language is written on ruins all over the world. Wheelie identifies the language as that of the Primes but only a Seeker can translate it; Seekers being used by the Primes to locate suitable suns for harvesting. They find such a Seeker, an aging Decepticon named Jetfire, who defected to the Autobots.

Upon learning the situation, Jetfire teleports the group to Egypt via a space bridge and explains that the tomb of the Primes is located in the surrounding desert, and only a Prime can kill the Fallen. By following the clues, the group find the Matrix in a tomb in Petra, but it crumbles to dust in Sam’s hands. Believing the Matrix can still revive Optimus, Sam instructs Simmons to telephone Major William Lennox to bring the other Autobots and Optimus’ body. The military arrive shortly after, but so do the Decepticons and another battle ensues. During the battle, Bumblebee rescues Sam’s parents from Rampage, killing both him and Ravage in the process. Devastator is then formed and unearths the Sun Harvester in one of Egypt’s pyramids before being blown to pieces by a railgun fired from a nearby destroyer. The airforce carpet bomb the Decepticons, but Sam is caught in the blasts and falls to the ground, seemingly dead. While Sam is being resuscitated, he is instructed by the Primes to revive Optimus with the Matrix, which is rebuilt. Optimus is resurrected but the Fallen, with aide from Megatron, activates the Sun Harvester. Jetfire is mortally wounded by Scorponok whom he then kills, and then gives up his life and bodyparts to give Optimus the strength he needs to fight and defeat The Fallen. Optimus destroys the Sun Harvester and then fights both Megatron and the Fallen, destroying the Fallen and leaving Megatron heavily wounded and forced to retreat alongside Starscream.

The film concludes with Optimus stating that the Transformers and humans are connected by their histories.

REVIEW:

I’m sure by now you’ve read, or at the very least heard how people are bashing this film left and right for one reason or another. Well, now it’s my turn to put my two cents in.

As I stated with my review of Transformers and Transformers: The Movie, I am a fanboy, so I’m slightly biased, but at the same time I will be objective.

Something I want to getout of the way first and foremost, is how “offensive” the twins, Mudflap and Skids are. Look, its more than obvious they are there for comic relief, yet folks are saying their offended because of their “African-American” personas. Quite honestly, I didn’t get that impression from them. They just seemed like twin brothers who have a sibling rivalry and have wannabe urban personalities. I’m sure we all know someone like that, or have at some point in time. The fact that people are making a big deal out of this is utter stupidity. Now, I will say we could have done without the gold tooth and them not knowing how to read, but even thosethings aren’t anything to raise a fuss about. for goodness sakes, these are alien robots!!!!

On to the film…A big qualm I had with the first film was that they spent too much time on the humans and not enough on the robots. A big reason for that is economics, and that’s understandable. CGI isn’t cheap. However, with a bigger budget and a couple years under their belt, I had high hopes that this one would feature the robots more. To an extent it does, but they still spend too much time on them.

Don’t get me wrong, a good portion of time they spend on the humans, makes sense, such as the storyline with military and the national security adviser, but other parts are there just for the sake of being there, such as, and it pains me to say thins, many of the scenes with Megan Fox. If there is a third film, Michael Bay needs to either maie it worth our while to see these God-forsaken humans, or cut back on their screentime. Again, I have to say, this franchise is called TRANSFORMERS, not humans, so let’s see more of them. I understand the cost and all, but there comes a point where you may just have to start working street corners for CGI, rather than sticking in more pointless human scenes.

While i’m on the topic of the humans, Michael Bay maintains his hard on for the military, but this time they’re actually helpful, and its the national security office (paranoid folks as they are, anyway) that is causing all the inner conflict.

Shia LeBeouf has done a lot of work since the previous film, and its obvious his acting has improved, but he’s still not god’s gift to acting. you could literally have a drinking game with the times he runs around saying “No! No! No! No!” or something similar.

Megan Fox is reduced to nothing but eye candy here, nothing wrong with that, per se, but her character has lost that depth she had in the first film, and is bordering on becoming the bitch girlfriend. Somethign tells me, if there is a third film, that’s what we’ll see from her.

Tyrese Gibson, John Torturro, and Tyrese Gibson all reprise their roles, in much smaller fashion. That’s pretty much all I can say about them.

Ramon Rodriguez comes in as Leo, Sam’s tech-savvy roommate. This guy seems cool enough, but from the minute he finds out about the Transformers until he seems to disappear, he is whiny and annoying. The guy seems like he has talent and potential, but it doesn’t show here.

Let’s talk Autobots, shall we? If you go into thins expecting to see a movie in the same vein as the G1 cartoon, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. Fact is, it’s all about Optimus Prime. Bumblebee, Mudflap, and Skids get a good portion of screentime. Ironhide has a lot of lines, but, he’s still underused, but at least he’s in most of the Autobot’s scenes, unlike Ratchet who is rarely even seen, except for a couple of scenes. New Autobots that have joined the force are, the aforementioned Mudflap and Skids, Sideswipe, Arcee, Jolt, and joining later in the film Jetfire and Wheelie. Arcee and Sideswipe have cool chase/fight scene at the beginning, but that’s about it. Jolt has no lines, and except for being instrumental in bringing Optimus Prime back to life, you don’t even see him. Wheelie is much less annoying than his G1 counterpart, and is another example of comic relief. Jetfire looks like Davey Jones and sounds like he should be a part of the Monty Python troupe, but he plays a very important role to the film, albeit confusing. There were rumors of Jazz returning, but that unfortunately didn’t happen. No Autobots died this time around, though. Not sure how I feel about that.

The Decepticons get a large portion of the Transformer screentime. One of the things that I loved from the original cartoon was the relationship/rivalry between Megatron and Starscream. This has been preserved, for the most part here. Soundwave was left out of the first film on purpose so that Bay could have leverage for a sequel. A good idea, but I think Soundwave was overhyped. I’ll have t see the film again to make a final decision on him, though. One thing I can say about him, though, is that, like optimus Prime, they got the original voice actor (though he doesn’t quite have that same sound) and kept his personality in tact. With Soundwave, you have to have at least one of his minions, they decided to give us Ravage, who is some sort of bony, one eyed cat that can project nanobots. The Constructicons merge to form Devastator. Do I really need to say more on that? Well, actually, I do. There was no need to give him balls! The Doctor is an interesting addition to the Decepticons, especially since he is some sort of spider-like creature.

The Fallen can officially take his place among the baddest villains in film. Voiced by Tony Todd, this guy just looks plain evil. Our first look at him is of him sitting in a throne like char as Megatron and Starscream come greet him. This brings me to my next point/qualm.

Megatron, in every incarnation (including Galvatron, after Unicron releases his hold on him), has been the psychotic villainous, mastermind on top of everything, so to hear him call someone “Master” takes away from the mystique. It seems as if they were going for the whole master/apprentice thing. Not sure what Starscream’s role is, though.

With every Michael Bay film, you are sure to get tons of explosions. This is no exception. Once we get past the initial introduction and get started, he never lets up. The opeining battle sequence dwarfs anything in the previous film. What really got me was the entrance of Optimus Prime. Anyone who has seen the original cartoon, knows that Prime is the ultimate everything. He didn’t give off that impression in the last film, though, but this one was vintage Prime. The only thing missing was his trailer. They seriously need to find a trailer to add to him.

While I’m on that subject, again I must discuss these horrible “realistic” designs of each robot. I guess its just my oyalty to the originals, but I am not a fan and don’t see why they can’t resemble the originals more closely. The upgraded vehicvle modes are acceptable…though Sideswipe couple have kept his original Lambroghini form. In the previous film, it was hard to tell who was who. Even Bumblebee, who sticks out more than anyone, got lost in the shuffle. With the influence of Hasbro and the fact that they learned from the previous film, they actually gave some color to a few of the robots. Still not enough for my taste, though. I mean, it doesn’t need to look like a 60s era living room or anything like that, but they are not the same color, and even the ones that are have different shades and markings. Like I said, that’s more the G1 fanboy in me being all nitpicky.

Ok, so this film has ups and downs. The story has some holes and everything, but chances are if you’re taking the time to watch this, you’re not watching it for some sort of cinematic masterpiece, but rather to enjoy yourself. Yes, it 2 1/2 hours, but unlike many films, there isn’t that lull that drags the film down. The action keep you interested and the humor keeps it from being too much.

Speaking of the humor, many complained about it being too much in the first film. I remember reading reviews saying that there was no need for any humor, and that this needs to be a dark, brooding film (referring to the first), blah, blah. So, my guess is Bay read those and wen the other way with it. Personally, I like it. My guess is that he read those and in his mind, figured that if he put more humor in, then people would like it,

Hopefully, I’ve given you some insight into this great film. It’s not perfect, but it is entertaining. Pay no attention to those stuff critic reviews. Go see it for yourself and make your own decision. Fanboy love aside, I loved it, and think people that aren’t influenced by what they read will be, as well.

5 out of 5 stars