Archive for August, 2009

It Came From Outer Space

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , on August 31, 2009 by Mystery Man


Author and amateur astronomer John Putnam (Carlson) and schoolteacher Ellen Fields (Rush) watch a great meteor crash to earth near the small town of Sand Rock, Arizona. After visiting the crash site, John Putnam notices a strange object at the impact site, and comes to believe the meteor is not a meteor at all, but an alien spaceship. After a landslide covers the mysterious craft, John Putnam’s story is ridiculed by the townspeople, the sheriff (Drake), and the local media. Even Ellen is unsure of what to believe at first, but soon agrees to assist John in further investigation. In the following days, several local people disappear. A few return, only to display odd robot-like behavior, and seem distant and removed from their normal selves. Eventually Sheriff Drake also becomes convinced that something more than a meteor is involved, and organizes a posse to root out and destroy the invaders. All alone, John hopes to reach a peaceful solution, entering a mine which he hopes will lead him to the buried spacecraft and its mysterious occupants.

It develops that the aliens are benign beings whose spacecraft has crashed due to malfunctioning components. Their plan is to stay on Earth long enough to replace them, then continue on their voyage. They temporarily control a few humans since they would not be able to mingle inconspicuously with people, and they realize that humans would panic on seeing them. Upon their departure, all returns to normal on Earth.


As a fan of classic sci-fi/horror films, I find it appalling that this one has slipped past me up until now. After watching it this morning, though, I am a bit befuddled. Not because the film was bad, but moreso because I couldn’t pay it the attention it deserves due to the version I had being in 3D and me with no glasses.

For those of you not familiar with the old style of 3D, it was done in such a way to where you were more or less seeing double, outlined in blue and red, because the glasses had one red lens and one blue lens, as opposed to to today where you more or less wear sunglasses in the theater.

Aside from the 3D fiasco, which from what I could tell is how 3D should be done, this was a pretty solid film.

We have here your classic sci-fi plot of aliens coming to Earth, observing humans, and the military/police having a cow and deciding to shoot first, ask questions later. What is different about this one is that the aliens sort of abduct people, inhabit their bodies on a temporary basis to blend in with us, and then return them after their task is completed. It is that little detail that really intrigued me. Not many alien films, past or present, use that…at least not for the sole purpose of searching for help.

These poor aliens just wanted to repair their ship, but the stupid country bumpkin humans didn’t understand them, so of course they had to attack. If these aliens weren’t a peaceful race, we could have another situation similar to the one in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, which would not be a good one. When will humans learn?

Luckily, all things worked out. In the process we get a very good film that is a worthy entrant into the annals of sci-fi lore. Not to mention, this is Universal-International’s first 3-D film, so that little tidbit by itself earns it a place in history.

The acting here is what you would expect from a film of this era. Very well executed by those who actually worked to get where they are as opposed to these who were just given a shot based on having a pretty face.

Special effects are a little tame. I don’t expect anything such as you would see today, but I was expecting a little more than what we have here.

All in all, I have to say this is a pretty good film. As I said before, I was a little distracted by the fact that the version I had was 3-D, and I had no glasses, but it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t watch and enjoy the film, but I think the 3-D would have enhanced it. Having said that, I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy it.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by Mystery Man


The film centers on high school student Veronica Sawyer (Ryder) who is part of the most popular clique at Westerburg High School (named for singer Paul Westerberg) in Sherwood, a fictional suburb of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to Veronica, the clique is composed of three wealthy girls with the same first name: Heather Chandler (Walker), Heather Duke (Doherty), and Heather McNamara (Falk). These mean-spirited girls play croquet with each other, use their own unique slang, and even purge together. Even though they are adored by most other students, the Heathers despise everyone outside their clique and continuously bully socially awkward classmates such as the overweight Martha “Dumptruck” Dunnstock.

When a new student, a rebellious boy named Jason Dean (Slater), or J.D. for short, pulls a gun on school bullies Kurt (Fenton) and Ram (Labyorteaux) and fires blanks at them, Veronica is intrigued. They meet and have sex. To avenge herself on Heather Chandler, who she feels mistreated her the night before, Veronica and J.D. jokingly prepare a cup full of drain cleaner to bring Heather as a morning wake-up drink. Veronica decides on milk and orange juice as a suitable form of revenge, as the combination can induce vomiting. J.D. distracts Veronica with a kiss and Veronica takes the wrong cup to give Heather. J.D. notices the mistake, but does not inform Veronica; Heather Chandler drinks the drain cleaner and dies in front of them.

J.D. urges Veronica to protect herself from suspicion of murder by forging a suicide note in Heather Chandler’s handwriting. Based on this note, the school and community look on Heather Chandler’s death as a dramatic, yet somehow hip, decision made by a popular but sadly troubled teenager. Heather Duke soon steps into Heather Chandler’s former role as clique leader, and begins wearing a red hair bow that had belonged to Chandler.

Several weeks later, the oafish Kurt and Ram spread a false rumour about Veronica giving oral sex to Kurt and Ram at the same time, ruining her reputation at school. J.D. proposes that Veronica lure them into the woods behind the school with the promise to “make the rumors true”; then, they will shoot them with special bullets that will knock them unconscious but not kill them. J.D. will plant “gay” materials beside the other boys, including a gay porn magazine, and a suicide note saying the two were lovers in a suicide pact. Ram is shot but Veronica misses Kurt, who runs away. Veronica realizes that the bullets are real, though originly smiles and says “it’s not a problem, it was worth it to see the looks on their faces”, then JD runs after them to when she notices that the intent to kill them was real.; J.D. chases Kurt back towards Veronica, who panics and shoots him dead. At their funeral, Kurt’s father is seen wailing, “I love my dead gay son!”, and the boys are made into martyrs against homophobia.

Other students begin mimicking the perceived behavior of the popular dead kids and attempting suicide themselves. Martha Dumptruck pins a suicide note to her chest and walks into traffic. She survives but is badly injured.

Veronica tells J.D. that she will not participate in any more killings. He plans to kill Heather Duke next, and subtly threatens to do the same to Veronica if she does not cooperate. Veronica instead tricks J.D. by using a harness to make it look like she has hanged herself. Heartbroken, he reveals his plan to blow up the entire school during a pep rally. A petition he has been circulating, via Heather Duke, to get the (fictional) band Big Fun to perform on campus was actually a disguised suicide note. Most of the students had already signed, so the mass murder would appear to be a mass suicide instead.

Veronica confronts J.D. in the boiler room where he is rigging timed explosives. She attempts to kill him when he refuses to stop the bomb. As J.D. collapses, he accidentally stops the timer. Veronica walks out through the pep rally with everyone cheering, unaware of their narrowly-missed demise. The severely injured J.D. follows her outside, looks at her as if to say, ” We could have been together…” and detonates a bomb that is strapped to his chest. The final scene of the film is of Veronica, covered in ash and bleeding slightly, walking through the school halls.


To this day, I still don’t understand why they have Heathers billed as a comedy when there is nothing funny about it.

This  film was released at a time when high school movies were all the rage and many of the stars were on their ay up.

Winona Ryder gives a good performance as Veronica. One that would rival her more serious works. she brings to the screen that moody, teen angst that was highly popular at the time, while at the same time keeping an air of innocence about her. I liked how she seemed to be the popular girl that still talked to all the regular folks, even though Heather #1 was doing everything short of beating her on the head with a club to do what she said. At film’s end, though, we get a glimpse of what things would be like under the Veronica regime when she actually talks to Martha “Dumptruck” Dunnstock. A little  while earlier, she was playing croquet with her childhood friend, Betty Finn. Maybe they all went on to become the next Heathers?

Christian Slater looks like he was a bad boy in high school, so the task of taking on the role of J.D. was not brai surgery. He turns in the best performances of the film, from the the time we first meet him carefully observing Veronica to his psychotic plan to blow up the school at the end of the film, he seems disturbed, the perfect man for Winona Ryder.

Shannen Doherty starts out the film as the quiet, good-girl Heather, characteristics we’ve only seen from her on screen during the early days of Beverly Hills, 90210 and Little House on the Prairie. However, after some training with J.D., she takes over the role as chief Heather from the now deceased Heather Chandler. As the new Heather #1, we see Doherty as the bitch we know her for on-screen.

This film bombed at the box office, but has garnered a real big cult following. Can’t say I blame them, its not a bad picture. Personally, I wasn’t that into it and felt like it was dragging on in parts. However, as far as story/plot goes, its not half bad and is worth watching. Of course, if you’re going to watch it, I would suggest doing it quickly before your memories of the original are still pure and not poisoned by the upcoming TV-series remake of this.

3 out of 5 stars

Grease 2

Posted in Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by Mystery Man


It is 1961, four years after the events of the first film took place, and a new academic year is just beginning at Rydell High School (Back To School Again). The Pink Ladies are now led by the insouciant Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer), who feels she has “outgrown” her relationship with the arrogant leader of the The T-Birds, Johnny Nogerelli (Adrian Zmed). A new arrival comes in the form of clean-cut English student Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield), the cousin of Sandy Olsen (the character played by Olivia Newton-John in Grease). Michael quickly becomes obsessed with winning Stephanie, despite the gentle protestation of the sole remaining lead character from the first film, Frenchy (Didi Conn), who observes that she will never date him since he is not a T-Bird.

At the local bowling alley, a competitive game (Score Tonight) turns sour due to the animosity between Johnny and Stephanie. Johnny flirts with Stephanie’s friend and fellow Pink Lady, Paulette Rebchuck (Lorna Luft), to make Stephanie jealous, and she retaliates by kissing the next man who walks in the door, which happens to be Michael. Bemused by this unexpected kiss, Michael attempts to ask her out at an audition for the school talent show, but discovers that she has a very specific vision of her ideal man (Cool Rider). He realizes that he will only win her affection if he turns himself into a cool rider, and begins saving up for a motorcycle by selling completed homework assignments to the academically-challenged T-Birds and other lazy students. He buys the bike and spends all his spare time learning to ride it.

Following an unusual, largely interactive biology lesson (Reproduction) given by new substitute teacher Mr. Stuart (Tab Hunter), a gang of rival motorcyclists called the Cycle Lords (led by Balmudo) surprise the T-Birds at the bowling alley. Before the fight starts, a lone anonymous biker appears and defeats the enemy gang, performing impressive stunts and leaping over police cars to disappear into the night (Who’s That Guy?). Stephanie is instantly fascinated with the stranger. The following day at school, Michael attempts to tell Stephanie that he is the “Cool Rider” but becomes tongue-tied. In a short comic scene, one of the T-Birds, Louis DiMucci (Peter Frechette), attempts to trick his sweetheart Sharon (Maureen Teefy) into losing her virginity to him by taking her to Michael’s uncle’s fallout shelter and faking a nuclear explosion (Let’s Do It For Our Country), but the plan backfires and she runs off in horror.

Stephanie is surprised again by the Cool Rider while working at a gas station, and they enjoy a romantic twilight motorcycle ride. Just as Michael is about to reveal his identity, they are interrupted by the arrival of the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies; before Michael disappears, he tells Stephanie that he will see her at the talent show, in which the Pink Ladies are performing. Johnny, enraged by Stephanie’s new romance, threatens to fight the Cool Rider if he sees him with her again, and the group has an argument about who belongs to whom. The Pink Ladies exit haughtily, although this has little effect on the T-Birds’ innate self-confidence (Prowlin’). At school, Stephanie’s poor grades in English lead her to accept Michael’s offer of help with her essay on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but although she has warmed to him considerably, he still cannot reveal his double identity (Charade).

By this point, Stephanie has begun to realize that, despite his shy, bookworm outward appearence, Michael is a kind, good hearted guy who genuinely cares about her. She then slowly begins to discover that she has similar feelings for him, and starts to reciprocate his crush. These events are not lost on their mutual acquaintances, and Johnny, upon seeing them together in a discussion, demands that Stephanie quit the Pink Ladies for his “rep” and subtly threatens that the T-Birds will beat Michael if she refuses (“Don’t damage the rep we won’t damage new friends.”). Stephanie is visibly upset by this and consequently quits the Pink Ladies. Although still head over heels for the Cool Rider, interactions with Michael reveal that she has become smitten with him as well.

Outside the talent show, Stephanie and the Cool Rider meet, but are instantly ambushed by the T-Birds who pursue Michael in a motorcycle chase, with Stephanie and the Pink Ladies following in a car. They pursue him to a closed-off construction site which conceals a deadly drop, and the biker’s absence suggests that he has perished below, leaving Stephanie inconsolable. They return to the talent show to perform, but during the ladies’ number (A Girl For All Seasons), Stephanie is overcome and stops singing, sinking to the floor. Oblivious to the audience, she enters a dreamlike fantasy world where she is reunited with her mystery biker (Turn Back The Hands Of Time). As her reverie finishes, it appears she has been singing a solo; she is duly named winner of the contest, and crowned the queen of the upcoming luau, with Johnny hailed as her king.

The school year ends with the graduation luau (Rock-A-Hula Luau) during which Johnny and Stephanie engage in an intense argument while being carried onto the pool in a floating throne. The Cycle Lords appear and begin to destroy the celebration, but are stopped by the emergence of the Cool Rider, much to the surprise of Stephanie. After roundly defeating the Cycle Lords and leaping over the pool on his motorcycle, he finally reveals himself to all in attendance to be Michael. After the initial shock, Johnny offers him a T-Bird jacket and welcomes him into the gang, and Stephanie finally accepts that she can have “two for the price of one” – a cool rider and a Shakespeare. All of the couples pair off happily (We’ll Be Together).


Grease was a huge hit, so of course it makes sense to make a sequel, right? Wrong! If ever filmmakers need any proof that sequels to films that don’t set them up don’t work, then they look no further than Grease 2. 

I don’t want to start off by bashing this thing’s head in. Actually, there are quite a few redeeming qualities, such as the fact that they brought back a couple of characters from the original, plus 3 of the teachers. This helps to maintain the continuity. The Pink Ladies and T-Birds are still around, even if they are different generations of the factions.

The music in this film is inconsistent. Some songs are catchy and memorable. The kind of stuff you expect in a musical, whereas others sound like someone wrote them in 5 minutes in order to meet a deadline. As I’ve said in previous reviews of musicals, not all the songs need to steal the show, or even be memorable, but it helps. However, when a good portion of the songs seem to be rushed on paper, then there is a problem.

The cast is by far the least impressive I’ve seen in an on-screen musical. Is it any wonder none of them went on to become big stars, except for Michelle Pfeiffer, and even her career didn’t take off apparently until the year after this was released when Scarface came out. Pfeifer and Maxwell Caulfield lack the chemistry that John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John possessed in the first film. to me, they seemed like a couple of high school kids in a badly acted play.Both the T-Birds and Pink Ladies are moreso just glorifies extras with a few lines here and there. At least in the first film, they each had individual personalities, here they have said personalities, but they just seem to be there for the paycheck.

I made it a good portion of my life without seeing this atrocity of a film, and it is such a shame that I couldn’t have made it my entire life without seeing it. This is not a bad film per se, but it is far from being a good one. The music is below standard, the acting far below what you would expect from a Hollywood picture, and the only thing with mention is the fact that htis is the film debut of Michelle Pfeiffer. Still, if you’re a fan of musicals, you may like it. I didn’t, but you have to make your own decision.

3 out of 5 stars


Posted in Animation, Classics, Disney, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by Mystery Man


While circus animals are being transported, Mrs. Jumbo, one of the elephants, receives her baby from a stork. The baby elephant is quickly taunted by the other elephants because of his large ears, and they nickname him “Dumbo”.

Once the circus is set up, Mrs. Jumbo loses her temper at a group of children for making fun of her son, and she is locked up and deemed mad. Dumbo is shunned by the other elephants and with no mother to care for him, he is now alone, except for a self-appointed mentor and protector, Timothy Q. Mouse.

The circus director makes Dumbo the top of an elephant pyramid stunt, but Dumbo causes the stunt to go wrong, injuring the other elephants and bringing down the big top. Dumbo is made a clown as a result, and becomes the main role in an act that involves him falling into a vat of pie filling. Dumbo hates this job and is now very miserable.

To cheer Dumbo up, Timothy takes him to visit his mother. On the way back Dumbo cries and then starts to hiccup so Timothy decides to take him for a drink of water from a bucket which, unknown to him, has accidentally had a bottle of champagne knocked into it. As a result, Dumbo and Timothy both become drunk and see hallucinations of pink elephants.

The next morning, Dumbo and Timothy wake up in a tree. Timothy wonders how they got up in the tree, and concludes that Dumbo flew up there using his large ears as wings. With the help of a group of crows, Timothy is able to get Dumbo to fly again, using a psychological trick of a “magic feather” to boost his confidence.

Back at the circus, Dumbo must perform his stunt of jumping from a high building, this time from a much higher platform. On the way down, Dumbo loses the feather and Timothy tells him that the feather was never magical, and that he is still able to fly. Dumbo is able to pull out of the dive and flies around the circus.

After this performance, Dumbo becomes a media sensation, Timothy becomes his manager, and Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo are given a private car on the circus train.


Dumbo is a true classic. The most impressive thing about it is that so much gets done in a short amount of time (64 min).

Our hero is a baby elephant who has ears that are a bit larger than the rest of his body. During a viewing before the circus, some boys come in and one of them (who has ears that aren’t exactly that small) takes it upon himself to instigate making fun of little Jumbo, Jr. Dumbo’s mother, Mrs. Jumbo, goes into mother mode and does all she can to protect him, but the boy keeps will not be happy until he’s done making fun of the “freak”. This angers Mrs. jumbo to the point of rage as she picks the boy up and spanks him. Of course the circus staff thinks she’s gone mad and do all they can to subdue her and eventually put her in solitary confinement. All this for defending her son, who is now not only motherless, but friendless.

That pretty much sums up the major event that drives the film forward.  Of course, he meets Timothy, gets turned into a clown, gets drunk, flies, meets the crows, and then shows the entire circus he can fly.

I suppose if you’re one of those overly-emotional people, this can tug at your heartstrings, especially the scenes with Dumbo and his mother. The beautiful song “Baby Mine” is one of the most beautiful lullabies I’ve ever heard, and I would put it up as one of the most beautiful pieces in the Disney repertoire.

Timothy makes a good sidekick for Dumbo. In case you don’t notice, remember Dumbo doesn’t speak, but don’t worry, Timothy does more than enough talking for the both of them. I had never really thought about it, but its kinda funny that he’s a mouse and Dumbo is an elephant when it is believed that elephants are scared of mice.

The gossipy elephants are just as snooty as one would expect from what appears to be the equivalent of a bunch of housewives who want to know any and everything. If they don’t know it, they make it up. There is no villain in this film, but they are the closest thing to it with their treatment of him from the time his ears grow.

The animation in this film is very subdued and simple.  There isn’t anything fancy abut it, just some good old-fashioned (even for 1941) hand drawn characters and backgrounds. I think this may be why this film is such a classic. It is one of the few that actually is fully hand crafted. The simplistic approach, though, makes it that much better.

A true classic, Dumbolives on in the hearts and minds of all who have ever seen this masterpiece. We all love an underdog, and what bigger underdog is there and Jumbo, Jr.? This is a good, uplifting, family film. So, what are you waiting for? Run, don’t walk, to rent/buy it!

5 out of 5 stars


Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2009 by Mystery Man


The film tells the story of María Álvarez and Sara Sandoval. María is a poor farm-girl whose father is being forced off his land by a cruel US land baron, Tyler Jackson. Sara is the wealthy daughter of the owner of the nearby properties, and has recently returned from Europe where she attended school. In one fell swoop, both María’s and Sara’s fathers fall under attack by the baron, (Sara’s father is killed, María’s is shot but survives) giving him free reign in the nearby territories. As an act of revenge, María and Sara become bank robbers, stealing and giving back to the poor Mexicans who had lost their lands.

At first the two are catty and quick to fight over the smallest matters, but under the tutelage of famed bank robber Bill Buck they learn to trust each other. María turns out to be a crack shot and, while Sara can barely hold a gun, she shows that she is an expert with throwing knives.

Angered by the recent attacks by the newly infamous ‘Bandidas’ Jackson brings in a specialist, criminal investigator, Quentin Cooke. It doesn’t take long for Sara and María to hear of this, and they quickly capture Cooke and convince him to help them. He has already figured out that Sara’s father was murdered, so realises that his employer is actually a criminal.

Now there are three robbers, each playing their part in bigger, more ambitious heists. As time goes on, the girl’s compete for Quentin’s affections, which he rebukes because he is engaged. In a move to make the money they’ve stolen useless, Jackson moves the gold that backs the money on a train up towards U.S. territories. Midway, he decides to steal the gold, betraying the Mexican government. The Bandidas manage to hunt him down, but when they get their chance to kill him, they can’t, feeling it would make them no better than him. Jackson manages to draw his gun and almost gets a shot off at María but Sara shoots first, finishing the villain off. In the end Quentin ends up with his fiancée and María and Sara ride off into the sunset, their eyes set on Europe where the banks are, according to Sara, “bigger”.


Westerns don’t tend to be the moneymakers they were at one time, but when you cast Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz as your leading ladies, you’re going to put some butts in seats.

This is the first on-screen pairing of Salma and Penelope. They couldn’t be playing two more different characters, and it works for them, especially early on in the film where they are almost constantly fighting. Yes, this film is a vehicle for them, but so what, they deliver on the expectations.

Steve Zahn normally is the comic relief guy, but here he just adds another element to the already eccentric duo of Cruz and Hayek.

Dwight Yoakem gives an outstanding performance as the villain, Tyler Jackson. He comes off as criminally insane anf sadistic, a perfect mix for a villain in the old west.

The bandidas are quite dysfunctional at first, but as the film progresses, their partnership strengthens and they quickly become a formidable force, with the help of Steve Zahn that is. I don’t know about you, but if two mega hot babes came into my bank, I would be more than happy p let them do whatever they wanted

This is more than jut a good film to see Sal Hayek all pushed up in her corset and Penelope Cruz as a farm girl, compete with pig tails. Bandidas is a film that explores the buddy comedy side of things, and it does an excellent job of doing so. This western is nowhere near the stature of others such as Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but it is a fun filled romp that is entertaining for the audience as well as the actors that were in the film.

5 out of 5 stars


Posted in Drama, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on August 29, 2009 by Mystery Man


Derek Charles (Idris Elba) is the Executive Vice President of Gage Bendix and has received a recent promotion from his boss (Bruce McGill). He is happily married to Sharon Charles (Beyoncé Knowles), who is pursuing her business degree. They have a son, Kyle. However, a new temporary worker, Lisa Sheridan (Ali Larter) begins to unnerve him. Derek’s best friend and co-worker, Ben (Jerry O’Connell), reminds him to be careful because he thinks she has her eyes on him. Lisa eventually attempts to seduce him, but he repeatedly rejects her advances. Lisa becomes obsessed and begins to manipulate Derek and Sharon’s relationship, eventually becoming violent. Lisa’s actions become erratic and she fakes a suicide in Derek’s hotel room while he is on a business trip, leaving him no choice but to send her to the hospital. Meanwhile, Sharon is trying to reach Derek but she can’t get in touch with him so she calls Ben. Ben tries to cover for Derek but he just comes out and tells her that he should tell her the truth himself. This prompts Sharon to go to the hospital where Derek is. Detective Monica Reese (Christine Lahti) interrogates Derek about his “relationship” with Lisa. Both Detective Reese and Sharon refuse to believe he didn’t sleep with Lisa. When Derek and Sharon go home, Sharon kicks him out of the house and they separate for three months. Derek moves into his own apartment. However, she still lets him visit and play with Kyle.

Within the three months, Detective Reese interrogates Lisa, who lies about her relationship with Derek. Detective Reese discovers that Derek was telling the truth and that Lisa is insane. Reese informs Derek that she believes him now and Lisa has moved to San Francisco. After Sharon forgives Derek, they go out to dinner for his birthday. Sharon gives him a gift that is actually the key to the house. While they are out, Lisa goes to their home and convinces the babysitter Samantha (Scout Taylor-Compton) to let her in, eventually escaping with Kyle while Samantha is distracted. When Derek and Sharon return, Samantha informs them that Lisa had been there, and they find that Kyle is missing. Derek goes to the car, intending to pursue Lisa, and finds Kyle in the backseat with lipstick from Lisa on his forehead. They immediately take Kyle to the hospital to make sure he is okay. Detective Reese meets up with them there. Sharon warns her that she better do something about Lisa or she’ll do it herself. Reese assures them that she’ll handle it. They take Kyle home, where they have a hard time putting the upset baby to bed. Afterwards, they try to go to bed they see that Lisa has trashed their bedroom and removed Sharon’s face from all the family portraits. The next morning, Sharon leaves an angry, threatening voicemail on Lisa’s phone. They set up a home alarm system, while Lisa secretly monitors the house from outside.

Later on, Patrick (Matthew Humphreys), Derek’s assistant, receives a call from Lisa. He reveals that Sharon and Derek will be visiting her mother’s house, with Sharon leaving that afternoon and Derek first thing the next morning. While Sharon is on the way to her sister’s to pick up Kyle before she goes to her mothers, she calls Derek, who asks her if she set the alarm. She realizes that she forgot and goes back to set it. Meanwhile, Lisa has broken into the house with a bottle of champagne. While setting the alarm, Sharon hears Lisa pop the champagne bottle open. Sharon finds Lisa wearing one of Derek’s t-shirts lying in her bed. Sharon tells Lisa she is calling the police, but Lisa tries to stop her. Sharon pushes Lisa down, but Lisa gets up and shoves Sharon onto the dresser, knocking her down, and begins kicking her. Lisa grabs a lamp and tries to hit Sharon with it, but Sharon escapes to the bathroom.

Derek calls the house and Lisa answers. Sharon struggles with Lisa to get the phone, headbutting her and knocking her down. Sharon tells Derek she’s going to have to call him back and hangs up. Derek calls Detective Reese and leaves his office. While fighting, Sharon reminds Lisa of everything she has done. Lisa escapes and runs to the attic. Sharon pursues Lisa to the attic, where she is attacked. Sharon, remembering when Derek showed her a weak spot in the floor, leads Lisa to it. Lisa falls through the floor and hangs onto the edge. Sharon reaches out and grabs her hand to prevent her from falling, but Lisa pulls Sharon down with her instead of accepting her help. Seeing that the floor is starting to buckle, Sharon pries Lisa off of her arm and she falls to the ground. Lisa grabs a chandelier, stopping her fall, but lets go and falls onto the table below. Sharon sighs in regret as she sees this, but then sees Lisa open her eyes. Lisa begins to rise up when the broken chandelier falls on Lisa and seemingly kills her. Derek and Detective Reese arrive as Sharon comes out of the front door. As the film ends, Sharon and Derek embrace each other.


When I saw the trailers for this, I admittedly wasn’t interested until I saw the scenes of Ali Larter in her underwear, and of course Beyonce. Those two pieces of eye candy aside, when you get right down to ir, this film isn’t half bad.

Idris Elba isn’t a household name here in the states, but I’m sure he will be soon. He gives the kid of performance that rockets actors from nothings to mega stars. The most interesting thing I found out about his character is that he is 100% faithful. Often times in movies like this, the guy resists initially, but in time he caves. This is not the case here, with the exception of when he is drugged and has no choice, he resists all of Ali Larter’s advances, knowing that he has a wife and kid waiting for him at home.

Beyonce takes on her most dramatic role to date, as this is the only one that I can recall where she doesn’t sing or dance at all. This is a deep role for her, but it wasn’t so much her acting that impressed me, but rather the fact that she layed the smackdown on Ali Landry at the end. Amazing what can happen to someone when their family is threatened.

Speaking of Ali Landry, she’s no stranger to playing psychos. The first season of Heroes had he as a woman with extreme dual personalities. Now, in this film she is just plain disturbed. Initially, it seems as though she is just going to get her work done and be on her way, then the next day, we see her become more and more Obsessed. She is without a doubt the best part of the film.

As far as thrillers go, this one is a bit on the tame side. It actually leans more towards the drama side, rather than the suspense genre, but I believe that can partially be attributed to the PG-13 rating. I never really got the sense of uncertainty about what was going to happen that one expects from a suspense film. It just seemed to be rather predictable.

Critics generally didn’t care for this film. They seemed to think everything was, as I said, predictable. That felt Beyonce was trying too hard and that you learned everything you needed to know from the trailer. I have to go back and look at said trailer again to know if I agree with them, but this film could have been better, but it isn’t half bad, and is pretty entertaining, especially the end. I wouldn’t rush out and get it, but when you get the chance, at least check it out.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Alien Trespass

Posted in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2009 by Mystery Man


The story begins in 1957 in the star-filled skies above California’s Mojave Desert. It is a special night for noted astronomer Ted Lewis, who is preparing a special dinner for his beautiful, adoring wife Lana to celebrate their wedding anniversary. In another part of town, Tammy, a waitress at small local diner with big plans for the future, looks out her window and is excited to see a shooting star, which she takes as a good sign for her dreams. But, what Dr. Lewis and Tammy assume is a shooting star, is really an alien spaceship. The fiery ball hurtles toward earth and crash-lands on a butte in the desert. The only witnesses are teens Dick and Penny who are necking in a nearby lover’s lane. A tall, metallic alien named Urp emerges from the craft unharmed, alarmed to discover that the monstrous Ghota, who was also on board, has escaped. The menacing one-eyed creature’s unquenchable appetite could mean the end of civilization as we know it. Urp is the only one who knows how to stop the hideous extraterrestrial, but to do so he has to take over the body of Dr. Lewis and enlist the aid of Tammy, the only human in town willing to believe and trust in his mission. The local police – including Chief Dawson and Officer Vern – are confirmed skeptics and offer little help. Together, Urp and Tammy must hunt down the Ghota and neutralize it before it consumes all the local inhabitants and uses the human fuel to multiply and conquer the world.


Raise your hand if you even remember this coming out in theaters? My guess is that maybe a handful of you knew about it. I was not one of them, and if not for the recommendations Netflix puts up each week, I wouldn’t even know about it. ‘m glad they did, though. I’m a huge fan of 50s-era film, especially in the sci-fi genre, and this is a clear homage to those films of yesteryear.

The best part of the film is not the story, the acting, the special effects, or anything like that, but rather the work and detail they went into so that they could make this look and feel as close to a film from the 50s as possible. They could have gone a bit further, but I think they went as far as they wanted.

One of the things that impressed me the most was the intro to the film. It was a newsreel from 1957, the year the film is set in. Had this been a real film from the 50s, you would have actually seen something like that before the film started. I could have done without them trying to convince us that all the actors were descendants of what accounted to themselves. It may have been a gag, but it wasn’t funny. Of course, I say this after watching all the features back to back, and hearing the same stuff over and over again, so I may be a bit bitter on the subject.

If you’ve ever seen any 50s flicks, then you know that the special effects are nowhere near where they are today. They actually used their imagination to come up with ways to bring their creatures to life, rather than just stick it in a computer. In other words, this film has NO CGI!!!! That in itself earns it a star. Without CGI, you would expect the alien to look fake, and quite honestly, he didn’t…when you consider that this is supposed to have been made in the 50s.

The acting is really good in this film. Mainly in part to the fact that they’re having to act like they’re in a film from the 50s, not present day actors in a period piece.

The film’s ultimate downfall is that it takes itself too seriously. Its obviously an homage to the great sci fi films of yesteryear, but what’s missing is the fun of those films. This seems to be plodding along just going through the motions. Such a shame that they don’t seem to be having fun with this, it could hve made it even better.

As one watches this, then they can see the influences of many of the major sci-fi films of yesteryear. When directors decide to put these references/homages in their films, sometimes they work,and other times they don’t. In this case it does and makes the film that much more entertaining and endearing. As I just mentioned, it could’ve been better, but the attention to detail is really what sells me on this film. Too bad it didn’t get more publicity. I believe it could’ve been a hit. Maybe through word of mouth, it cane become a DVD hit. Why not watch it and spread the word?

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Gone in 60 Seconds

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by Mystery Man



The film follows Randall “Memphis” Raines (Nicolas Cage), a retired master car thief who is forced to return to his former trade and steal fifty specified cars for crime boss Raymond Vincent Calitri (Christopher Eccleston), who is threatening to kill Memphis’ younger brother, Kip (Giovanni Ribisi), because Kip had taken a contract but had failed to fulfill it (a stolen Porsche Carrera was chased to Kip’s warehouse and the collected cars were impounded).

Memphis now has to fulfill the contract and so reassembles his old crew, also joined by Kip’s crew.

With Detective Castlebeck (Delroy Lindo) and his partner, Detective Drycoff (Timothy Olyphant) breathing down their necks, they decide to steal all the cars in one night in order to reduce the chances of being caught.

But unfortunately, the police already know about the boost and, after cracking an employee at the Mercedes dealership, who had earlier supplied Kip’s crew with the special laser cut keys for a Mercedes, set a trap to catch them in action. It thus turns out to be a high action drama of a very long night. Instead, the Mercedes with the laser cut keys are stolen from the Police Impound lot. Later Castleback and Drycoff discover the “The Shopping List” at the warehouse of the beginning of the movie. Knowing that Memphis will save the 1967 Shelby GT 500 a.k.a. “Eleanor” for last they locate the only one in Long beach just as Memphis is boosting it. Thus begins a high-speed chase through Long Beach, which concludes with a high risk jump over a traffic jam on the Vincent Thomas Bridge. Bringing the Mustang damaged to Calitri’s salvage yard, Calitri decides to have Memphis killed instead of Kip, due to the fact that he is twelve minutes late with car number 50. Detective Castlebeck shows up and is ultimately saved from Calitri by Memphis, while Calitri falls to his death. Castleback lets Memphis go with the unspoken understanding that Memphis is still retired. Later back at Otto’s the gang are having a sort of victory celebration barbecue, Sphinx (Vinnie Jones) bestows some words of wisdom (the only time he speaks in the film) and Kip gives Memphis a gift of a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500 in less than mint condition. The film concludes with Raines and Sway (Angelina Jolie) going for a ride and the car breaking down. The words “Oh don’t do this to me,” are said before the credits roll across the screen.


Readers of this blog know that I’m no fan of remakes. I love this film, and similar to the first time I saw The Magnificent Seven, had no idea it was a remake, so I don’t count is as such, but I will watch the original at some point in time to see which is better.

Nicolas Cage turns in one of his better performances here. Normally it feels like he’s trying too hard to be funny, witty, or too serious, and it just doesn’t work. As Randall “Memphis” Raines, he seems to be in his element and natural.

Angelina Jolie is hot as SWay, of course this was before she went all anorexic and decided she needed to save the world’s children by adopting them all. Whilst her character doesn’t have much to do for most of the picture, she does have some good shots, culminating with her coupling with Memphis while they watch and wait for another couple to get “to business”.

Christopher Eccleston is an excellent, sadistic villain for this film. The accent and his affinity for wood seems to make him more evil that he appears to be.

The highlight of this film is the climactic car chase across Long Beach. Come on, if you’re watching this film, then you know that there has to be a huge car chase in here somewhere. The sad part is that it nearly totals a perfectly good 1975 Shelby Mustang GT 500, affectionately referred to as “Elanor”.

The first half of the film does seem a bit dry, not boring, just dry, but once they get to the scouting of the cars, things pick up and the film really gets entertaining.

This is one of those films that is just mindless, adrenaline fueled entertainment. If you try to make it more than that, then of course you’re going to not like it. Having said that, car junkies are the ones that will really enjoy this, or so you would think. I’m no car junkie and I love it, so that disproves that theory. Even if you totally hate this film, the car chase at the end is worth it, and should rank among the top chases in all cinema.

4 out of 5 stars

A Bug’s Life

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews, Pixar with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by Mystery Man


Every season, a colony of ants are expected to harvest food for a Mafia-like bunch of grasshoppers. One ant, Flik, is an inventor whose creations usually do more harm than good. While trying out a mechanical harvester, he accidentally knocks the pile of food into a stream just before the grasshoppers arrive. Their leader, Hopper, gives the ants the rest of the season to make good on what they owe, but orders a double ration of food after Flik stands up to him in defense of the Queen’s youngest daughter Dot. Flik is admonished by the colony’s royal council. When Flik suggests that he try to recruit some “warrior bugs” to fight the grasshoppers, Princess Atta (Dot’s older sister and the eventual successor to the Queen) allows him to do so, but only to keep him out of the way.

Reaching the insect “city,” built from discarded boxes and cans, Flik encounters a troupe of unemployed circus bugs whose latest performance has just ended in disaster, and mistakes them for the warriors he needs. At the same time, they believe him to be a talent scout who wants to book their act on the island. They return to the colony, much to Atta’s surprise, and are immediately greeted as heroes who can end the grasshopper threat. Atta soon becomes suspicious after almost overhearing a conversation where both Flik and the troupe realize their mistakes. However, after they band together to save Dot from a hungry bird, she begins to think that the troupe may be able to stop the grasshoppers after all. She also starts to fall in love with Flik.

At the grasshopper gang’s hideout, Hopper’s brother Molt suggests that they not go back, since they have more than enough food stored up and the weather will soon turn bad. Hopper reminds him and the whole gang that if they do not keep the ants living in fear, the ants might use their superior numbers (“a hundred to one,” he estimates) to run the grasshoppers out of the colony for good. The gang sets out for the island to collect their due. When Flik discovers that Hopper is afraid of birds (due to him almost getting eaten by one a few years ago), he proposes that the colony build a model bird to scare him away. The ants put their food-gathering work on hold to carry out this project, but as they finish, circus ringmaster P. T. Flea arrives looking for his missing performers and accidentally exposes the truth. Upset at Flik’s deception, Atta orders him exiled from the colony, while the other ants hide the bird and rush to collect whatever food they can for Hopper. They are unable to meet the double quota he set, and when the gang arrives, he takes over the anthill and forces the ants to bring him all the food on the island.

Dot overhears the gang’s plans to kill the Queen once they have all the food, and she catches up with Flik and the troupe. She persuades them to return and put the bird plan into action, with help from her and some of the other young ants. The model frightens the gang, who almost retreats until P. T. intervenes and incinerates it. Enraged, Hopper sends his crazed assistant Thumper to injure Flik, but Flik is still able to stand up and rally the other ants, saying that the grasshoppers depend on the extorted food for their own survival. The entire colony swarms against the gang, forcing all except Hopper to leave. However, a thunderstorm begins, causing panic among the ants. Hopper grabs Flik and flies off, intent on killing him. Atta rescues Flik, and the two lure Hopper towards the bird’s nest. Hopper corners Flik and starts strangling him, revealing his intention of returning to the colony with more grasshoppers. Flik is saved when the bird appears. Hopper attempts to escape, but it picks him up and feeds him to its chicks.

Later, the colony adopts Flik’s harvester to speed up grain collection. Atta becomes the new queen, passes the princess crown to Dot and chooses Flik as her mate. As the troupe leaves, Slim the stick insect notices that they’ve forgotten Heimlich the caterpillar, who emerges from the chrysalis in which he has encased himself. He pops out with a tiny pair of butterfly wings, far too small to lift him off the ground, but he’s picked up by Francis the ladybug and Manny the praying mantis, and the troupe (with Molt, acting as a road crew assistant) departs with the colony’s thanks.


Another gem in the crown of Disney/Pixar, A Bug’s Life firmly put the world on notice that Pixar was no joke, Toy Story was no fluke, and that bigger and better things were on the way.

If I remember right, around the time this film, whose main characters re mostly ants, another film with similar subject matter, Antz, was also released. I think they were a few weeks apart, but don’t quote me on that. Having watched both film, this one is the superior film.

We have the typical outcast hero who is in love with the princess, the villain and his minions, and the reluctant supporting hero(es). Very formulaic, but that doesn’t take anything away from the entertainment value. I like to compare formulas to recipes that have been handed down through generations in that they are no less tasty now than they were back then (unless it was a bad recipe).

This is a very well told story. The writers cover every detail, short of learning how the circus bugs got together and the ants lives before the film…stuff like that.

The animation is, per usual Pixar, flawless. Did you actually expect less from these people?

Per usual with a film of this caliber, the voice cast has some fairly big names, such as Kevin Spacey, David Hyde Pierce, Julia Louis-Dryfuss, Brad Garrett and future stars Hayden Panettiere and Ashley Tisdale.

There are quite a few gags that are references to “human” life, such as P.T. Flea, an obvious nod to P.T. Barnum. A mosquito orders a Bloody Mary at the bar, which turns out to be a drop of actual blood, etc. While cheesy, they are still quite enjoyable.

Kevin Spacey as the villainous Hopper is quite intimidating. I got a chuckle out of my friend suggesting they use Dennis Hopper instead, though.

I have yet to dislike a Disney/Pixar film, and this will not be the first one to get ab ad review. There are no glaring holes big enough to deserve so. No, this film is not the perfection of Pixar’s latest works, but as I said earlier, you can see the greatness developing. A movie about bugs would normally gross people out and scare them away, but they are so endearing here that you forget they are bugs, except for the dung platter scene, of course. Grab the family and enjoy.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by Mystery Man


The film opens with an animated credits sequence accompanied by the theme song, “Grease”, composed expressly for the film by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees and performed by Frankie Valli.

In 1958, during their summer vacation, and before the title credits, Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) meet at a beach. Scenes from their holiday are shown, but then the summer ends, and Sandy is due to return to Australi. She is upset, knowing that this is surely the end of their romance and that they will never see each other again. When she asks him, “Danny, is this the end?” he smiles and tries to comfort her, saying, “Of course not; it’s only the beginning.”

Unbeknownst to Danny, Sandy’s family has a change of plans and she does not return to Australia. Instead, she attends Rydell High School as a foreign-exchange student, where Danny is a student, as is Sandy’s new friend Frenchy (Didi Conn), a member of the schoolgirl clique “The Pink Ladies”.

Danny is the leader of the boys’ gang, “The T-Birds”. Kenickie, second-in-command of the T-Birds (and Danny’s best friend), encourages Danny to tell them about his holiday experiences, while the Pink Ladies likewise persuade Sandy. This results in “Summer Nights” – Sandy and Danny describe their holidays, and it is made clear that Danny is exaggerating; at the time, however, neither is aware of the other’s presence at the school.

Encouraged by the preppy school spirit girl, Patty Simcox (Susan Buckner), Sandy joins the Rydell cheerleaders. The Pink Ladies decide to reunite Danny and Sandy, but Danny wants to protect his cool image, and his behavior towards Sandy causes her to storm off in tears. Danny stares after her for a moment, but then quickly turns back into a cool guy and goes off with his friends. Rizzo (Stockard Channing) on the other hand knows Danny’s true nature and walks away smirking. It is implied earlier in the film that Danny and Rizzo have a history.

Frenchy attempts to cheer Sandy up by inviting her to a sleepover at her house with the rest of the gang; Sandy comes along, but Rizzo soon gets fed up with Sandy’s goody-two-shoes behavior: Sandy chokes on a cigarette, cannot stand the taste of wine, and is horrified at the idea of having her ears pierced. Frenchy is insistent, and takes her into the bathroom, but Sandy vomits at the first sight of blood. Frenchy announces to Jan (Jamie Donnelly) and Marty (Dinah Manoff) that she is dropping out of Rydell and going to beauty school, which she calls “a very strategic career move.” Rizzo has had enough and lampoons Sandy, even having Frenchy joining in, singing the sarcastic “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee”.

The T-Birds arrive outside Frenchy’s house. Rizzo leaves the sleepover and she and Kenickie (Jeff Conaway) flirt, then Kenickie invites her into the car, and dumps the other T-Birds. Danny leaves of his own accord while Rizzo and Kenickie drive off together and the other T-Birds go for pizza. Marty, the flirtatious member of The Pink Ladies, decides to write to one of her (numerous) pen pals, while Sandy goes outside, and decides that in spite of everything, she still loves Danny, singing “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, a poignant love song that was added for the movie and was a big hit as a single.

The scene shifts to Rizzo and Kenickie making out passionately in the back seat of his new car. They plan to take things a step further, but Kenickie’s condom breaks. He mentions that he bought it during the seventh grade. Rizzo, however, is unable to resist Kenickie, and they decide to have sex anyway. They are soon interrupted when Leo (Dennis Cleveland Stewart), leader of rival gang, The Scorpions, accompanied by his girlfriend, Cha Cha DiGregorio (Annette Charles) damages Kenickie’s car.

Whilst at work repairing the car, the T-Birds fantasize about what it will look like when it has had a paint job, singing “Greased Lightning”. Soon, Danny gets the other T-Birds convinced that the rickety old car could actually be a “major piece of machinery”. Danny meets Sandy at the Frosty Palace, and tries to apologize for his actions. He sees that Sandy is sharing a soda with Tom Chisolm (Lorenzo Lamas), a jock, and decides that if that’s the sort of man she likes, he’s going to join the jocks to impress her.

We next see Danny’s disastrous performances in basketball, wrestling, and baseball, where he keeps losing his temper when he loses. He finally finds his ideal sport in cross country, until the sight of Sandy distracts him, and he falls. Sandy leaves Tom Chisolm to see if Danny is alright, and they are seemingly reconciled.

Danny attempts to go to the Frosty Palace with Sandy so that they can be alone and not worry about ruining his image in front of his friends. They end up discovering the T-Birds and Pink Ladies are already there and Danny finds it hard to charm Sandy without looking like a sissy in front of his friends. After everyone leaves the malt shop, Frenchy, who has been hiding her pink hair under a scarf, imagines a guardian angel to tell her what to do with her life, who turns out to be Frankie Avalon singing “Beauty School Dropout”.

Later, Danny takes Sandy to the school’s dance, where the TV show National Bandstandplans to broadcast live from the school. Kenickie asks out Cha Cha—who turns out to be Danny’s ex-girlfriend—to the dance. Rizzo, feeling jilted, asks out the rival gang’s leader Leo to the dance. The disc jockey Vince Fontaine (Edd Byrnes) develops a sordid crush on Pink Lady Marty. The dance features several well-known songs from the ’50s covered by Sha Na Na. During the dance-off, Rizzo leaves in a huff, seeing Kenickie dancing with Cha Cha, and Danny and Sandy are one of the few still in the dance-off. But soon, Sonny pulls Sandy away from Danny, and Cha Cha starts dancing with Danny. Sandy realizes that Cha Cha was one of Danny’s past girlfriends—and a much better dancer. Sandy leaves the gym upset, and Danny and Cha Cha end up winning the contest. When they share their spotlight dance, the T-Birds (minus Kenickie) run in front of the camera and moon the crowd (because Blue Moon is playing).

Later, Danny takes Sandy to a drive-in movie and apologizes for leaving her. The apology means nothing to Sandy. Danny tries to remove the class ring he is wearing to give it to her, but in doing so he accidentally elbows Sandy in the chest. Danny gives Sandy the ring and she kisses him on the cheek, saying she realizes now he respects her. The scene cuts to Marty and Rizzo in the drive-in toilets. Rizzo’s unprotected sex with Kenickie has come back to haunt her—she tells Marty she missed a period. One of the T-Birds, Sonny (Michael Tucci), overhears Marty accidentally proclaiming to couples making out outside the toilets to make way for the “lady with a baby”, and asks Marty what she meant so she tells him the story, which leads him to tell others until the chain effect makes it common knowledge. When Kenickie asks Rizzo why she didn’t tell him about it, she lies and tells him it isn’t his out of anger. He sarcastically thanks her, and leaves her standing by herself. Marty has also suffered as a result of her crush on Vince Fontaine—she reveals to Rizzo that she caught him trying to put an aspirin in her Coke.

Back in the car, Danny has his arm around Sandy. His hand lingers above her chest and she sees it and he starts trying to make out with her. She screams, gets out of the car (“sin wagon”, as she calls it), slams the door on Danny’s genital area, throws back his ring (which she calls a “piece of tin”), and leaves the drive-in. Danny laments losing Sandy again, and reveals the true extent of his feelings for her in the song “Sandy”—he is helpless without her.

The next scene is the race between Leo and Kenickie in the Los Angeles River. Kenickie asks Danny to be his right hand man, and Marty gives Kenickie a lucky penny. She drops it, and as Kenickie bends down to pick it up, he gets knocked out when one of the T-Birds opens the car door. As a result, Danny has to race in Kenickie’s place. Sandy sits on the hill watching the neck-and-neck race, which Danny manages to win. While she is happy to see Danny win, she has misgivings about her own image, reflected in the song “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee (Reprise)”. As the T-Birds and Pink Ladies celebrate with Danny, Frenchy spots Sandy and goes over to her. Sandy thinks that Frenchy can help her win Danny’s heart, and asks to go over to her house to take advantage of Frenchy’s suspect fashion skills.

Later, on the last day of school carnival, Danny arrives, having followed through on his track jock plans, in a preppy letter sweater. However, Sandy arrives wearing a black leather jacket, red peep-toe high heeled sandals, skintight black off-the-shoulder top, curled hair, and smoking a cigarette—no more goody-two-shoes. Danny finds her extremely attractive, falling at her feet, and then the two reunite, singing the upbeat “You’re the One That I Want” (another song added for the movie, and a hit single before the movie even came out). Rizzo and Kenickie get together after Rizzo has screamed from the Ferris wheel that she is not pregnant after all, and everyone sings the big finale, “We Go Together”, and Sandy and Danny fly off in “Greased Lightning (the car)” and disappear into the sky.


Grease is one of those feel good musicals that you can’t escape. One review I read said that even if you hate musicals, you know this one and can probably sing a few bars of each song. I happen to believe that is true.  Personally, I’ve spent many hours with the music of this film, so I’m well versed in it.

When you strip this thing down to its basic parts, we have boy meets girl, they have a summer romance, boy thinks girl goes back to Australia and he’ll never see her again, then vindictive ex reunites girl with boy where boy acts like a complete jerk, boy then changes his life to get girl back, blah, blah ,blah, girl changes to keep boy. Pretty basic stuff. Let’s admit it, the story isn’t the reason this thins is so wildly popular. That’s not to say its not a good one, but there are so many love stories in movies and musicals, that you just become numb to and tune them out after awhile.

The real star of this film is the music, starting from the sweeping cinematic photography in the first scene in which the music sets the tone, to the disco laden opening theme, to the variety of songs throughout the picture,, all of which could have you singing them in your car at the top of your lungs. They’re just that catchy!

John Travolta was arguably a star when this was releases, but this is what made his career. There aren’t many actors that can sing and dance. As a matter of fact, one comes every generation. Before Travolta, there was Gene Kelly, today I’m not sure, but I think Zac Efron is the closest we have.

Olivia Newton-John was a huge star in Australia, but a relative unknown over here before this came out. As Sandy she played up that girl next door image until the final scenes where she’s “bad Sandy”. I still drool at the sight of her in those spray on pants…lol

Stockard Channing is often overlooked in this film, because she’s not Travolta or Olivia, but her role as Rizzo is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in a musical. She has the attitude of a tough gang leader girl, but later in the film, shows her vulnerability, especially in her oratorical ballad, “There Are Worse Things I Could Do”.

The rest of the cast really complete the puzzle, and without them, this film would not be such a huge success.

Grease is up there in my top 5 favorite musicals of all time, but its not without its flaws. Having said that, it is close to perfection. The best thing about this film is that it is just a fun musical that doesn’t try to get too political, the music doesn’t try to be to symphonic/operatic, and is just a great watch.

5 out of 5 stars

The Rescuers

Posted in Animation, Classics, Disney, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by Mystery Man


Orphan Penny throws a message in a bottle from an abandoned luxury river boat. The bottle washes up in New York and is taken to the Rescue Aid Society. The Hungarian representative, Miss Bianca, volunteers to take the case and chooses the janitor Bernard as her partner. The two set out to the orphanage where Penny lived and there meet an old cat named Rufus, who tells them that Penny had been worrying about not being adopted by any family; he had attempted to re-assure her, but that she is assumed to have fled of her own accord despite her upbeat attitude at the end of the conversation. He then mentions that an ill-meaning woman named Madame Medusa had tried to lure Penny in to her car earlier that week, and this may be the woman responsible for Penny’s disappearance.

The mice travel to Medusa’s pawnshop and search for clues. They overhear Medusa talking via telephone to her assistant, Mr. Snoops, whom she reprimands for being unable to find the “Devil’s Eye” diamond and for failing to prevent Penny from sending her message in a bottle. Angrily, she tells Snoops that she will take the next flight to Devil’s Bayou, where Penny is being held against her will, and leaves in her car.

With the help of an albatross named Orville, the mice fly to the Bayou, and meet a dragonfly named Evinrude, who speeds them in a leaf to the ship where Penny is held. Eavesdropping on Madame Medusa and Snoops, they learn that Penny was captured to enter a hole that leads down into the pirates’ cave where the “Devil’s Eye” Diamond is located.

Soon Miss Bianca and Bernard attract the attention of Medusa’s pet alligators, Brutus and Nero. Bernard and Miss Bianca escape, and find Penny. The arrival of the two mice raises her morale. Together, the three devise a plan, which is put into action on the following day.

The next morning, Madame Medusa sends Penny down into the cave to find the gem, not knowing that Miss Bianca and Bernard are hiding in her skirt pocket. The three soon find the stone within a pirate skull; as Penny pries the mouth open with a sword, the mice push it out from within, but soon the oceanic tide rises and floods the cave. Miss Bianca, Penny, and Bernard barely manage to retrieve the diamond and escape.

Medusa, taken over by greed, takes possession of the diamond, rather than share it with Snoops as she had evidently promised. She then hides it in Penny’s teddy bear. As she is backing away from Penny and Mr. Snoops, Bernard and Miss Bianca trip her and she loses her grip on the bear. Before she can recover it, Penny grabs the bear and runs away. Medusa retaliates with gunfire, causing the mice to flee until they are met by Brutus and Nero. Bernard and Miss Bianca trick them into entering a cage-like elevator, trapping them.

Snoops’ flares and fireworks are set off into the riverboat’s living quarters, while Penny and the mice commandeer Medusa’s “swampmobile,” a motor-boat used by Medusa to travel in the swamp. Medusa attempts pursuit, but is thwarted. The flares and firecrackers cause the ship to explode and sink. Medusa is left clinging to one of its smokestacks while Brutus and Nero attack her from below.

The Devil’s Eye is given to the Smithsonian Institution, and Penny is adopted by a new father and mother. Bernard and Miss Bianca remain partners in the Rescue Aid Society’s missions and soon after depart on Orville, accompanied by Evinrude, to a new rescue mission.


Ah, Disney, you never fail to deliver when I want to see a good, hand drawn, animated film that has story, charater development, excitement, laughs, and is just overall a great film. Unfortunately, The Rescuers does lose a few points from me because it gets a little stale and boring in, of all places, the climax!

The film starts off a bit dark, what with the moody late 70s era music and the thunder and lightning, but it soon lightens up as we meet our heroes and get the plot going. As the film progresses, there are a few gags here and there, as well as some touching scenes that allude to a developing relationship between Bernard and Miss Bianca.

Penny is another annoying little orphan girl, and probably the weakest character in the film.

Madame Medusa reminds me of Miss Hannigan from Annie, but she’s nearly lost her mind because of her greed.

Eva Gabor’s voicing of Miss Bianca inspired the filmmakers to have her be the delegate from Hungary at the Rescue Aid Society.

Going back to the climax. One would expect in nay film that the climax in the moment you wait for, but that is not the case here. Almost everything that happens worth watching happens earlier in the film. Yes, it is a big free for all at the end, but for me it just doesn’t cut the mustard. It should be noted, though, that I hold Disney films to a higher standard than anything else.

If you’re looking for the traditional Disney musical type of film, then this isn’t the film for you, but if you’re just looking for a good Disney flick, then you won’t be disappointed.

4 out of 5 stars

Dragonball Evolution

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by Mystery Man


Two thousand years ago, the evil Namekian warlord Piccolo (James Marsters) descended upon the Earth during a solar eclipse and attempted to destroy the world with the aid of his disciple, Ōzaru. A group of monks conjured the Mafuba — a powerful but life-threatening enchantment designed to bind those caught within it — and used it to imprison Piccolo. Ōzaru disappears, and the Earth gradually recovers. In the present day, Piccolo escapes his confinement and as another solar eclipse approaches, he begins searching for the legendary Dragonballs in order to make a wish to the magical dragon Shen Long for the power to rule the Earth.

On his 18th birthday, a young high-school student and martial artist named Son Goku (Justin Chatwin) is given the 4-Star Dragonball by his grandfather, Gohan (Randall Duk Kim). After returning home from a party hosted by his crush Chi-Chi (Jamie Chung), however, Goku finds his home obliterated and his grandfather near death in the aftermath of Piccolo’s failed attempt to acquire the Dragonball. Before he dies, Gohan tells Goku to seek out the martial arts master, Muten Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat), who holds another of the Dragonballs. Along the way, Goku meets Bulma Briefs (Emmy Rossum) of the Capsule Corporation, which was studying the 5-Star Dragonball until it was stolen by Piccolo’s servant Mai (Eriko Tamura). Goku offers Bulma his services in exchange for her help in finding Roshi and they ultimately find him in Paozu City. Under Roshi’s wing, Goku begins training to harness his Ki, now knowing that they must acquire all the Dragonballs before the upcoming solar eclipse, when Ōzaru will return and join with Piccolo. In the midst of the group’s search for the 6-star Dragonabll, they fall into a trap set by the desert bandit Yamcha (Joon Park) but Roshi convinces Yamcha to join them. Together, the group fight their way through an ambush by Mai and successfully obtain the next Dragonball. As the group continues their quest, they travel to a temple where Roshi consults his former teacher Sifu Norris (Ernie Hudson) and begins training to perform the Mafuba enchantment so he can reseal Piccolo, while Goku must learn the most powerful of Ki techniques: the Kamehameha.

During the night, Mai – disguised as Chi-Chi – steals the three Dragonballs that Goku and company have acquired, adding them to the other four that Piccolo has gathered. With the Dragonballs successfully united, Piccolo begins to summon Shen Long, but is stopped by the timely arrival of Goku’s team. During the battle that ensues, Piccolo reveals to Goku that heis Ōzaru, having been sent to Earth as an infant to destroy it when he came of age. As the eclipse begins, Goku transforms into Ōzaru and terrorizes Bulma and Yamcha, while Roshi attempts to use the Mafuba, but is killed before he can re-seal Piccolo. Roshi’s dying words restore Goku to his senses, and he engages Piccolo in a final battle, seemingly destroying him with the power of the Kamehameha. Goku then uses the Dragonballs to summon Shen Long, and request that he restore Roshi to life. As they celebrate, they realize the Dragonballs have now scattered, and Bulma declares that they must seek the balls again. Before they head out, Goku visits Chi-Chi so they can truly begin their relationship, but first, they engage in a sparring match to see which of them is stronger.

In a post credits scene, a woman whom Piccolo spared earlier in the film tends to his wounds as he awakens.


I wasn’t a huge fan of the Dragonball and Dragonball Z animes, mainly because of when and where they came wasn’t available to me on a regular basis, but the episodes I did catch were addictive. As such, I went into this film knowing bits and pieces of Dragonball lore. Some things came back to me and others seemed like a foreign language, but one thing I can say, is that, with the exception of making the setting modern day and some minor costume differences, the film keeps pretty close to the source material.

Dragonball Evolution is a film that was obviously made for fans of the series, and maybe a few others that were curious. At lease that’s how it feels. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you’re one of those people that goes into this expecting to see a kick ass martial arts film with lots of special effects. Fact is, the martial arts are there, but could be more, and the effects are low budget, glorifies bits of smoke.

The cast does what they can with what they have to work with, but honestly, the script to this thing is ultimately its downfall. The filmmakers should be applauded for the attempt, but a couple more rewrites would have done a world of good. These characters don’t have the emotional depth of a cardboard box, so the audience is left just watching a bunch of people jumping around all over the screen.

As I mentioned, the effects are ok, for the budget, but far below what they could be.

Choosing Piccolo as the villain for this film was a pretty good choice, but he is kind of wasted, as he may be on screen a total of 15 minutes. Understandably, he’s not the star of the film, but we never get a real feel for him or his plan, other than he wants the dragonballs.

I’m not sure why it is that when a film sticks to the source material it doesn’t do well. This film sticks as close as any to the material it comes from, and was short of being a total flop. I’m no going to sit here and say that this is a film for everyone. AS I mention before, this is mainly for those familiar with the original anime an manga. I wouldn”t go into this expecting too much. It’s just an average film that isn’t boring, but at the same time bounces around a bit, confusing some and losing others, but at the same time, it is still fun to watch.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on August 22, 2009 by Mystery Man


Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) is a high school teacher in the suburbs of Omaha, Nebraska whose enthusiastic involvement at school masks his frustration with other aspects of his life. Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is an overachieving senior with a secret vindictive and sexual side. Earlier in the year, Tracy had an affair with McAllister’s best friend, another teacher. As a result, her lover was fired from his job, divorced by his wife, and ended up a ruined man; Tracy, however, walked away with no one knowing of her involvement aside from the principal, McAlllister, and her mother.

Tracy announces that she is running for student body president,  horrifying McAllister, who is in charge of organizing the school’s student government and is one of the few people who dislikes Tracy (he also seems afraid that, like his friend, he will be tempted into an affair with her). Other students assume she will win the election, and she is set to run unopposed, but McAllister decides to teach Tracy a lesson in humility by introducing some competition into the election, and convinces one of the most popular, yet dumbest students, a joc, Paul Metzler (Chris Klein) to run against Tracy. Paul agrees, after McAllister convinces him that politics could be his purpose in life, now that his football career has been ended by his broken leg.

Meanwhile, Paul’s younger sister Tammy (Jessica Campbell) – who is sexually involved with another girl at the school – is dumped by her lover, Lisa (Frankie Ingrassia), who says that she is straight and was just “experimenting”. Lisa quickly becomes Paul’s new girlfriend and campaign manager, in part to anger Tammy. Tammy decides to run for president to spite her brother and Lisa with a platform that student government is a sham.

At the speeches, Flick’s speech gets only polite applause, while Paul’s overwhelming support is dwindled by his terrible rhetorical skills. Tammy, however, delivers a demagogic masterpiece in which she denounces the election as a farce that will change nothing at the school. In summation she admits she doesn’t care whether her fellow students vote for her and vows she will do nothing in their service if she wins. Her defiant conclusion “Don’t vote at all!” rallies the student body to a standing ovation, to the consternation of Paul, Tracy and the faculty. Tammy is suspended for three days, but she and her brother make up.

The competitive, ambitious Tracy wants to win at any cost. The night before the election, she tries to fix one of her posters that had become detached from a wall, but accidentally destroys the poster completely. In a fit of uncharacteristic rage, she destroys all of Paul’s campaign posters. Claiming innocence, she threatens legal action against the school when McAllister attempts to use her affair with his best friend to impeach Tracy’s credibility. Tammy then “confesses” she destroyed the posters after witnessing Tracy disposing of the refuse by the town factory, and is transferred to a private parochial school for girls.

Jim is secretly attracted to his best friend’s ex-wife, Linda. The day before the school elections, they spontaneously begin to kiss passionately. Linda asks Jim to rent a motel room for a later rendezvous, but when he arrives at her house to pick her up, she isn’t there (and he gets a bee sting in the eye which swells humorously throughout the rest of the film). He returns home to find Linda and his wife talking together. Knowing he’s been caught, he spends the night in his car. The next morning he oversees the counting of the election ballots at school. During this, he calls Linda several times, professing his love for her. Linda blames the whole affair on him, and his wife kicks him out of the house when he tries to apologize. Jim is forced to move into a low-budget motel.

After all the ballots are counted, Tracy has won by one vote (Paul, who has no ill will towards Tracy and did not want to egotistically vote for himself, had voted for her). McAllister is so angry that he secretly disposes of two of the pro-Tracy ballots, demands a recount, and names Paul as the winner. When a janitor, who McAllister had angered earlier in the film, discovers the two discarded ballots and presents them to the principal in what can be assumed to be an act of revenge, McAllister resigns from his job and becomes a pariah. Divorced and humiliated, he leaves town, becoming a tour guide at a museum in New York City, and winds up meeting a new woman that seems to make him happy. He claims that even if Tracy becomes rich and successful, she’ll be miserable because she ruthlessly climbs the ladder of success without any time to truly enjoy it (several scenes earlier in the film suggest that Tracy has few if any friends at school).

Tracy gets accepted into her first choice college, Georgetown University, though she realizes she has few friends. Paul also gets into his first choice of a state college and continues to live with an optimistic “que sera sera” attitude, even when Lisa breaks up with him. Tammy loves the all-girl Catholic school, where she has met her new girlfriend. Years later, on a visit to Washington, D.C., Jim sees Tracy entering a limo with a congressman from her home state in Nebraska, obviously successful in life. He throws a soda cup at the car in anger and runs away. The film ends with Jim back in New York, enjoying teaching at the museum but resenting a Type-A elementary student who reminds him of Tracy.


I apologize for the shortness of the this review, but I need to go lay down before my head explodes.

Long story short, we have here the tale of a high school student government election. The problem is that Reese Witherspoon, as Tracy Flick, will do whatever it takes to get to the top, and she does so, much to the dismay of faculty adviser James McAllister (Matthew Broderick), who in turn makes his own feeble attempt to fix the election that backfire sbd costs him his job.

There a whole bunch of other stuff that goes on in this film, that is really worth watching. Words cannot do justice the fact that this is an underrated comedy that fits right in with today’s socio-economic climate, while at the same defying or agreeing wth the President of the US.

Well worth the time it takes to learn about high school politics, Election fires on all cylinders and will leave you wanting more. I hope you enjoy!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars