Archive for September, 2009

Invaders from Mars

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

One night, a small boy, David MacLean (Jimmy Hunt), sees a flying saucer land near his home. His scientist father (Leif Erickson) goes to investigate; when he returns, there is an unusual mark on the back of his neck and he behaves in a different, cold and hostile manner. Gradually, David realizes that there is a conspiracy in which the people of the town are one by one becoming cold and inhuman.

With the help of a local astronomer Dr. Stuart Kelston (Arthur Franz) and health-department physician Dr. Pat Blake (Helena Carter), he learns that the flying saucer, that has buried itself in a sandpit just behind his home, is the vanguard of an invasion from Mars. The Army is contacted and convinced to investigate, leading to a military penetration of the underground hideout established by the Martians. The troops enter the saucer. Inside they find a Martian, mostly a large head with strange tentacles, encased in a glassy sphere. The Martian mastermind is served by tall, green, silent humanoid “mutants”, who use cerebral implants to control the townsfolk in order to sabotage nuclear rocket experiments at a facility just outside of town.

In the film’s climax, the Army, scientists, and David flee from the sandpit as explosives hidden aboard the flying saucer count down their last remaining seconds. After the explosion, the scene shifts and David is back in his bed, awakened by thunder. His parents reassure him by telling him the whole thing was just a nightmare and send him back to bed. As thunder awakens him again, he sees the same UFO slowly land at the sandpit near his house.

REVIEW:

As I’m sitting here watching this classic sci-fi flick, I can’t help but wonder if indeed it should have been filmed in 3-D. The reason I say that is because the colors are done is such a way that you almost seem them as if you would 3-D without the glasses. I may be the only one that sees it that way, though.

Many have called this the quintessential Cold War sci-fi film. I would be hard pressed to disagree with them. If you think of everything you know about classic sci-fi and the 50s, it is included in this picture, short of America’s prejudice and hatred toward the Russians.

The Martians aren’t particularly impressive, even for the time period, although the head (pardon the pun) martian with the tentacles looked pretty cool.

I loved the concept of mid control using radio frequencies, but felt they could have done something to counteract it, then again, that may just be my modern day brain criticizing a film from days gone by.

The “big ape” Martians, who seem to be nothing more than mindless slaves, are the kind of creatures you expect to see on a Saturday morning cartoon as goons. As a matter of fact, they remind me alot of the putties from the first couple of seasons of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

The acting is pretty flat throughout the picture, with the one bright spot being Helena Carter, not Helena Bonham Carter, who portrayed Dr. Pat Blake. In this picture where everyone is ether under or over acting, she finds a good median and sticks with it, only going over when the need calls for it. Having said that, there are no bad performances from the actors, just none that you’ll be writing home about.

As far as classic sci-fi fare goes, this is a must see. The DVD that I watched happened to have both the British and American version of the film. From what I’ve read and heard, the British version has a different ending. That’s neither here or there, though. This is a really solid film that is quite entertaining, You won’t be disappointed.

4 out of 5 stars

National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze 2

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Dorm Daze 2unfolds during a semester at sea-type cruise in the Caribbean. The class from Billingsly University are trying to put on a play to win a contest. Sexy and scheming Gerri (Marieh Delfino) and stoner Pete (Patrick Cavanaugh) are competing for a scholarship. Newmar (Tony Denman) is trying to have sex with his Christian girlfriend (Vida Guerra). Rusty (Oren Skoog) is just trying to have sex with anything he can. The creepy Dante (Nicolas Shake) runs around planning all sorts of nefarious schemes, all while uttering his signature line “Don’t get on my bad side, mate.” Meanwhile a priceless stolen jewel is loose on the boat and everyone is after it.

REVIEW:

As bad as National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze was, the sequel, Dorm Daze 2, is 10x worse! I could sit here and waste time writing an in-depth review of this so-called film, but the fact is that it is so uninteresting, disconjointed, and pointless, that even I (someone who will watch just about anything) found it unbearable. As a matter of fact, were it not for the gratuitous bikini clad and topless girls, as well as the ample bosomed female leads through this picture, I may have done something that I have never before done, and that is turn it off before it even finished. Yes, it is that bad. There is a reason this mess was released straight-to-DVD, people. My suggestion is to stay away from this and find one of Vacation films from the days when Nation al Lampoon actually made films that were funny and worth watching and don’t even bother with the upcoming sequel to this thing, Transylmania, or something like that.

1 out of 5 stars

The Wedding Singer

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

PLOT:

Set in 1985, Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler) is a wedding singer from the town of Ridgefield, New Jersey. Engaged to his long-time girlfriend, Linda (Angela Featherstone), he meets and befriends a waitress, Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore), at the reception hall where he regularly performs. Julia is also engaged, to businessman Glenn Gulia (Matthew Glave).

On his wedding day, Robbie is devastated when Linda leaves him standing at the altar, citing his failure to move on with his singing career. Robbie tries to move forward with his life, but despair hinders his performances. Julia tries to cheer him up, and later asks him to help her plan her own wedding. Initially reluctant, Robbie eventually agrees, and their friendship blossoms. During a double date between Julia and Glenn, and Robbie and Julia’s cousin, Holly (Christine Taylor), Robbie learns that Glenn is unfaithful to Julia.

Julia and Robbie are increasingly confused by their deepening feelings for each other, and Robbie labours under the misapprehension that a “real” job will impress Julia. She becomes angry with him for assuming that she is marrying Glenn for his money. After confiding in his best friend, Sammy (Allen Covert), Robbie finally decides to confess his true feelings and heads to Julia’s house. When he arrives, he sees her through her bedroom window. Julia is wearing her wedding dress and happily imagining herself as Robbie’s wife, but Robbie mistakenly believes that she is looking forward to marrying Glenn.

Heartbroken, Robbie leaves to get drunk and finds Glenn in the midst of his bachelor party. After a heated exchange, Glenn sucker punches Robbie. An intoxicated Robbie goes home and finds Linda waiting for him, and wanting to reconcile. Robbie passes out, but the following morning, Linda answers the door and introduces herself as Robbie’s fiancée to a crestfallen Julia. Julia runs to Glenn, wanting to be married immediately, and Glenn happily offers to take her to Las Vegas.

Robbie awakens and promptly breaks it off with Linda for good. Inspired by the 50th wedding anniversary of his friend Rosie, to whom he has been giving singing lessons, Robbie decides to pursue Julia. Just then, Holly arrives, telling him of Julia’s plans. Robbie, Sammy, and Holly rush to the airport, where Robbie books a flight to Las Vegas; his ticket is first class because the coach seats are sold out. After telling his story to a sympathetic audience in first class which includes Billy Idol (playing himself), Robbie learns that Glenn and Julia are on the same flight. Over the loudspeaker, and with the help of Billy Idol and the flight crew, Robbie sings a song he has written called “Grow Old With You,” which he has dedicated to Julia. The two admit their love for each other and as they’re about to kiss, Billy Idol interrupts. Impressed with Robbie’s song, Billy plans to tell the record companies about him, allowing Robbie to finally fulfill his dream of being a songwriter.

The movie closes with Julia and Robbie’s wedding.

REVIEW:

Ah, the 80s! Big hair, funky clothes, music that wasn’t depressing. A good decade. In ’85, I was only 7, but I still have memories of those days. Adam Sandler, apparently has the same feeling, which is why The Wedding Singer is set in 1985.

Sandler plays Robbie Hart, a nice guy wedding singer who is left at the altar by his fiance and falls in love with a waitress (Drew Barrymore) at a random wedding where he happens to be singing. I think this up there in the top 5..scratch that, top 2 funniest performances by Sandler.

Drew Barrymore plays Julia perfectly. With a mixture of the sweet, girl next door good looks and bubbly personality that has endeared her to audiences worldwide since the days of E.T.

The rest of the cast is magnificent, especially Ellen Dow, who plays Rosie, the elderly lady who pays Robbie in meatballs for singing lessons.

I would love to say that the highlight of this film is the acting, or the story, or something along those lines, but in fact, it is the music. First, we have the music that plays in various montages and such. Then there are the songs that Sandler (as well as Jon Lovitz and Steve Buscemi) sing at the weddings. Finally, there is the original songs that Sandler sings. All these make for quite the interesting backdrop to a very entertaining film.

Speaking of entertaining…remember when Adam Sandler used to make these films? The kind that weren’t all preahy and borderline dramatic? He used to have fun with his movies. Its part of why he’s as bug a star as he is. As I said before, this is one of his best pictures.

Those of us that have ever been to weddings and/or receptions know that there is usually this guy (or girl) there that sings bad covers of popular songs. This is the basis for the this film. Sandler takes the idea and turns it into comedy gold. If you’re a fan of a good comedy and some nice 80s tracks, then this is the picture for you.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Fox and the Hound

Posted in Animation, Classics, Disney, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

After a young red fox is orphaned, Big Mama (Pearl Bailey) the owl, Boomer (Paul Winchell) the woodpecker, and Dinky (Richard Bakalyan) the finch arrange for him to be adopted by the Widow Tweed (Jeanette Nolan). Tweed names him Tod (voiced by Keith Coogan), since he reminds her of a toddler. Meanwhile, Tweed’s neighbor, Amos Slade (Jack Albertson), brings home a young hound puppy named Copper (Corey Feldman) and introduces him to his hunting dog Chief (Pat Buttram). Tod and Copper become playmates, and vow to remain “friends forever.” Slade grows frustrated at Copper for constantly wandering off to play, and places him on a leash. While playing with Copper at his home, Tod awakens Chief. Slade and Chief chase him until they are stopped by Tweed. After an argument, Slade says that he intends to kill Tod at his first opportunity. Hunting season comes and Slade takes his dogs into the wilderness for the interim. Meanwhile, Big Mama explains to Tod that his friendship with Copper cannot continue, as they are natural enemies, but Tod refuses to believe her.

Months pass, and Tod and Copper reach adulthood. On the night of Copper’s return, Tod (Mickey Rooney) sneaks over to meet him. Copper (Kurt Russell) explains that he is a hunting dog now and things are different between them. Chief awakens and alerts Slade, a chase ensues and Copper catches Tod. Copper lets Tod go then diverts Chief and Slade. Chief maintains his pursuit onto a railroad track where he is struck by a train and wounded. Copper and Slade blame Tod for the accident and swear vengeance. Tweed realizes that her pet is no longer safe with her and leaves him at a game preserve. Big Mama introduces him to a female fox named Vixey (Sandy Duncan), then Slade and Copper trespass into the preserve and hunt the two foxes. The chase climaxes when Slade and Copper inadvertently provoke an attack from a bear. Slade trips and is caught in his own trap and drops his gun just out of reach. Copper fights the bear but is no match for it. Tod battles the bear until they both fall down a waterfall. Copper approaches Tod as he lies in the lake below when Slade appears, ready to fire at the fox. Copper interposes his body in front of Tod, and refuses to move away. Slade lowers his gun and leaves with Copper, but not before the two former adversaries share one last smile before parting. At home, Tweed nurses Slade back to health while the dogs rest. Copper, before resting, smiles as he remembers the day when he became friends with Tod. On a hill Vixey joins Tod as he looks down on the homes of Copper and Tweed.

REVIEW:

The Fox and the Hound is a nice coming of age story that is one of the better known of the lesser known Disney films.

The film beings with the quiet calm of the forest, then all of a sudden, a mother fox holding baby Tod, is seen running from hunters and their dogs. Before we know it, he is left by the fence to be discovered by Big Mama. Big Mama is the typical matronly type, compete with African-American mannerisms, partially because she’s voiced by Pearl Bailey.

With the help of Dinky and Boomer, a sparrow and woodpecker, respectively, she gets the Widow Tweed to come notice Tod by the fence. At the same time Tod is discovered by the widow, the hunter neighbor, Amos Slade, brings home a hound pup named Copper.

Soon enough, Copper and Tod meet and, despite the fact that they should despise each other, become best friends. That is until Copper leaves with Amos on a hunting trip and comes back a trained hunting dog. Needless to say, things change between the two, especially after Chief is injured falling of a bridge in pursuit of Tod.

Tod is dropped off at the animal preserve and has a miserable night. would you expect him to just fall right into things after living with a human his entire life? With the help of Big Mama, though, he meets a female fox, Vixey. As with many films of this nature, they immediately hit it off and before we know it they are a couple.

Just in time to ruin things, here comes Amos and Copper, hell-bent on getting Tod. They trick him (and Vixey) down. After a cunning escape, Amos and Copper are cornered by a big black bear. Copper is roughed up quite a bit and lets out a whine that Tod hears. you can see the look on Tod’s face as he takes a few moments to decide whether to keep escaping or go back and help his former friend. He goes back and fights the bear tooth and nail, until he gets the upper hand.

Amos, still wanting Tod’s hide, even though he saved his life sees him ripe for the picking and is ready to shoot him, when Copper stands over Tod and gives Amos the puppy dog eyes. Somehow this sends the message to Slade to leave Tod be. As Copper leaves, he and Tod share one glance that says we’re friends again and thanks.

This is not the best Disney film, but the story is one of the best. Strangely enough, I think of all the Disney films that have come from literary material, this one deviates the most, but considering this is a kid-friendly film, it had to. The original book is quite dark. I don’t think it would have worked as well had they gone more in the direction of the source material. Having said that, the overlying theme of friendship conquers all that is prevalent throughout the film, is perhaps the best thing about it, and is handled so expertly that it doesn’t even come off as preachy.

4 out of 5 stars

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The plot of the series is a basic parody of detective film clichés, featuring stereotypical characters, settings, and situations. Many other film genres and styles are mocked as well, and the movies are full of references to current events and contemporary pop culture.

The movie starts in a meeting in Beirut with a collection of anti-American leaders: Ayatollah Khomeini, Mikhail Gorbachev (who claims he has the Americans believing he is “a nice guy”), Yasser Arafat, Muammar al-Gaddafi and Idi Amin, who are planning a terrorist act against the US. The man who is later shown to be Pahpshmir is seen at this meeting. It turns out that Frank Drebin has been posing undercover as a waiter; he beats up all the attendees, wipes off Gorbachev’s forehead birthmark (“I knew it!!!”), then knocks the turban off the Ayatollah, to which a mortified Khomeini is shown to have an orange mohawk underneath. Drebin then defiantly tells them all that they will never attack America as long as he is on the job.

Back in Los Angeles, Officer Nordberg unsuccessfully attempts to bust a heroin drug operation at the docks organized by Vincent Ludwig, and is shot numerous times by Ludwig’s goons but, before falling off into the sea, suffers additional injuries like being hit on the back of his head on an iron pipe, burning his left hand on a coal oven, and having a window falling shut on his right hand (it is a running gag that Nordberg keeps getting badly injured, but somehow manages to survive). After being briefed on the case by his colleague Captain Ed Hocken, Frank visits Nordberg in hospital, but the near-comatose Nordberg can provide only a few cryptic clues, including a picture of the ship on which the deal had been organized—and the ship belongs to Vincent Ludwig.

Frank then meets with wacky police scientist Ted, a parody of James Bond’s Q. Ted invents things such as a wall that is able to defend itself from tagging, to which a street gang is then shown attempting to spray paint the wall, only to have cannons of spray paint activate towards them, sending them running off screaming. Ted has invented a cufflink that shoots out a tiny dart which renders the victim into a temporary sleep, promptly testing it on Hocken.

Pahpshmir is seen meeting with Vincent Ludwig, a businessman who has terrorist connections, where Ludwig says that he will assassinate Queen Elizabeth II (who is on a state visit to the USA) for $20 million. Ludwig demonstrates that he has a way of turning anyone into an unknowing assassin at the press of Ludwig’s beeper; it appears that the victims are responding to a post-hypnotic suggestion (repeating “I must kill [name of the target]” and trying to do so even with ineffective weapons, in a very automatized way).

Drebin visits Ludwig in his office (thereby causing some minor chaos) and inadvertently lets slip the information that Nordberg is still alive. Ed gives Frank 24 hours to clear Nordberg as a result. Later on another attempt is made on Nordberg’s life. Frank chases the assassin (a hypnotized doctor) in a commandeered car operated by a panicked student driver and her unflappable instructor (John Houseman), until the luckless assassin crashes the car into (in succession) a gasoline truck, a US Army truck carrying a missile, and- with the missile in tow- a fireworks factory, which presumably eliminates the assassin.

As he works on the case, Drebin meets and falls in love with Ludwig’s assistant Jane Spencer. It is eventually revealed that Jane knows nothing about Ludwig’s plot, and after the pair spend the night together, she helps Frank with his investigation. However, things go awry as Frank breaks into Ludwig’s office to get information. He ends up setting a fire, destroying most of Ludwig’s property. Then, to make things worse, he ends up causing more trouble at a reception for the Queen. When Ludwig presents the Queen with a Revolutionary War-era musket as a gift, Frank (delirious from the horns trumpeting the Queen’s arrvial) dives at the Queen sending them sliding across the table. He is then removed from the force.

The climax of the film centers on the Queen’s visit to a California Angels baseball game. Frank must find out how Ludwig plans to assassinate her- he is told by Jane one of the players is going to do it- while hiding from his fellow policemen, who are now under orders to arrest him (although Police Squad is in his corner).

Frank decides to go undercover, first knocking out “renowned opera singer” Enrico Pallazzo (obvious parody of Luciano Pavarotti), taking his clothes and proceeding to brutally mangle the national anthem, along with Pallazzo’s reputation. Frank then knocks out the home plate umpire with a bat while walking back through the tunnel and begins calling the game, while at the same time frisking players for weapons. Having been informed that the assassination will take place during the seventh inning stretch, Frank proceeds as a normal umpire would while talking with Ed about not being able to find the assassin in between innings. With two outs in the top of the seventh, realizing he’s running out of time, Frank goes to great lengths to delay the game, ultimately resorting to interfering with the play to the ire of the Angels’ manager and the umpires.

The scoreboard operator overrules Frank’s last out call in the top of the seventh and Ludwig triggers the beeper, with Angels outfielder Reggie Jackson responding (“I must kill… the Queen.”). Jane alerts Frank, who chases after Jackson. He catches him and tackles him, inadvertently triggering an all-out brawl between the Angels and their opponent the Seattle Mariners, as every single player piles up on top of one another. Meanwhile, Ludwig takes Jane to the top of the stadium at gunpoint.

During the brawl, Reggie Jackson emerges from the pile, rather unscathed, and points the gun at the Queen. Frank fires one of Ted’s cufflink darts to try and hit him, but instead hits a fat woman in the upper mezzanine. However bumbling, Frank still manages to save the Queen’s life, because the dazed fat woman falls on top of Jackson, crushing him.

The audience is amazed at Frank’s heroism although they do not know who he is. He reveals himself, but only the mayor and Ed know who he is (the rest of the crowd assumes he’s still Enrico Pallazzo and chant his name as such). Frank then moves through the crowd to the top of the stadium, where Jane is being held hostage. Frank shoots Ludwig with the other cufflink dart, causing him to stagger and fall several stories over the stadium’s railing. The USC marching band performing “Louie, Louie” then tromps over his steamroller-flattened body, pressing the beeper, which makes Jane try to kill Frank with Ludwig’s gun. Frank uses reverse psychology to try and break Jane’s hypnotized state, by saying that if he cannot be with her he may as well be murdered, and gives her an engagement ring, after which Jane is freed from Ludwig’s assassination hypnosis and then embraces him and accepts his marriage proposal. His speech is broadcast on the stadium screen, causing the teams to stop fighting and make up, as well as cause the everyone in the stadium, including the players from both teams, quarrelling wives and husbands, Palestinians and Israelis, Curt Gowdy and Jim Palmer, and a mailman and a dog, to all hug each other. The mayor thanks Frank, saying the whole world owes him a debt of gratitude, and he is congratulated by Nordberg. The latter, while still wheelchair-bound, seems much better until Frank pats him on the back, sending him zooming down the aisle and up over the railing of the stadium’s upper deck as the movie ends.

REVIEW:

Oh, how I love nonsensical, farce/comedies. The first time I saw this  film, I didn’t et half the jokes, but was still rolling around on the ground laughing. Now, 21 yrs years later, I get all the jokes, and it makes the film that much better.

Leslie Nielsen has long been known for these films that make no sense. Couple that with his flair for physical comedy, and you’ve got an entertaining film that even those that despise comedy can’t help but find themselves laughing.

Look, I don’t care what you say/think about O.J. Simpson. Similar to his NFL and college career achievements, you can’t deny what he did just because he may or may not have killed a couple of people. Having said that, Simpson is great as Nordberg, even though he doesn’t have much of role, other than being more accident prone than Nielsen.

Priscilla Presley, you know, Elvis’ wife, is quite fetching as Jane. It is easy to see why they chose her to be the token eye candy. On top of her good looks, she also isn’t too bad of an actress, especially when she’s being as clutzy as Nielsen.

Ricardo Montalban is no stranger to villainy, with stints on the dark side in the Spy Kids and original Star Trek franchises. Vincent Ludwig makes his first on-screen appearance giving the appearance of some sort of heartless criminal, but as the film progresses, he doesn’t go anywhere near that characterization.

It appears that there was a show called Police Squad back in the day, but I’ve never seen it…yet. If the film is anything like it, then you can be assured that I’ll love it. There is nothing to not like about the film, though, unless you’re just boycotting anything O.J. related, which is totally stupid, if you ask me. There comes a time to move on. Besides, this is such a funny, entertaining picture, that you’ll forget about all that.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Reservoir Dogs

Posted in Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens to eight men eating breakfast at a diner. Six of them wear matching suits and are using aliases: Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Blue (Eddie Bunker), Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel). Among them is middle-aged Los Angeles gangster Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), and his son, “Nice Guy” Eddie Cabot (Chris Penn). Mr. Brown discusses his comparative analysis on Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”, Joe’s senior moments involving his address book rankle Mr. White, and Mr. Pink defends his anti-tipping policy until Joe forces him to leave a tip for the waitresses.

After the opening credits, the action cuts to the interior of a speeding car. Mr. White, driving with one hand, is trying to comfort a hysterical Mr. Orange, who has been shot in the abdomen and is bleeding profusely. They arrive at an abandoned warehouse, later revealed to be the rendezvous point for the armed robbery they have just committed. Mr. White leaves Mr. Orange on the warehouse floor when Mr. Pink appears, angrily suggesting that their robbery of a jeweler, orchestrated by Joe Cabot, was a police-setup. Mr. White reveals that Mr. Brown has been shot and killed by the police, and the whereabouts of Mr. Blonde and Mr. Blue are unknown to both. A flashback is played, revealing more of Mr. White’s long-time friendship with Joe Cabot.

The two men discuss the actions of the sociopathic Mr. Blonde, who murdered several civilians after the jeweler’s alarm had triggered; the police arrived at the scene remarkably soon after the alarm was activated. Mr. White is angered about Cabot’s decision to employ such a psychopath and agrees about the possibility of a setup, while Mr. Pink confesses to having hidden the jeweler’s diamond cache in a secure location. However, they violently argue about whether or not to take the unconscious Mr. Orange to a hospital when Mr. White reveals that he had told the former his true first name. Mr. Blonde, who has been watching them from the shadows, steps forward and ends their Mexican standoff, telling them not to leave the rendezvous as Nice Guy Eddie is on his way. Mr. Blonde takes them outside to his car and opens the trunk to reveal he captured a police officer named Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz). A second flashback reveals that Mr. Blonde became involved in Cabot’s heist team because of his friendship and loyalty to Eddie.

The three men torture the officer until a furious Eddie arrives at the warehouse. After berating the men over the carnage and incompetence displayed at the heist, he orders Mr. Pink and Mr. White to assist him retrieve the stolen diamonds and dispose of the hijacked vehicles, while ordering Mr. Blonde to stay with Nash and the dying Mr. Orange. Nash states that he has been a police officer for eight months and is ignorant as to a possible setup. He then pleads with Mr. Blonde to release him without further incident. However, after the others leave, Mr. Blonde confesses to enjoying torture, at which he turns on the radio and dances to “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel before severing Nash’s ear with a straight razor. He then retrieves a large gasoline can from the trunk of his car and is about to set Nash alight when Mr. Orange, having regained consciousness, produces a handgun and repeatedly shoots Mr. Blonde. Mr. Orange tells Nash that he is actually an undercover police detective named Freddy Newandyke, and reassures him that a massive police force is in position several blocks downtown waiting for Joe Cabot to arrive.

A series of flashback scenes detail Mr. Orange’s involvement in an undercover operation to capture Cabot, culminating in a sequence depicting the death of Mr. Brown as he attempts to drive Mr. White and Mr. Orange away from the jewelry store, and Mr. Orange’s shooting a woman who shot him in the stomach as he and Mr. White attempted to steal her car.

The remainder of the heist group returns to the warehouse to find Mr. Blonde dead. Mr. Orange claims that Mr. Blonde was going to kill Nash, Mr. Orange and the rest of the gang so that he could take the diamonds for himself. Eddie doesn’t believe the story and, furious with Mr. Orange, fatally shoots Nash three times. Joe Cabot himself arrives and, after informing the group that Mr. Blue was killed, confidently accuses Mr. Orange of being an informant, forcing Mr. White to defend his friend. A shootout ensues, leaving Joe and Eddie dead, Mr. White severely wounded, and Mr. Orange mortally wounded. Mr. Pink, who avoided the shootout, takes the cache of diamonds and flees the warehouse. As police sirens and gunshots are heard outside, Mr. White cradles Mr. Orange in his arms and Mr. Orange reveals that he is in fact a detective. Mr. White kills Mr. Orange as the police raid the warehouse, resulting in the police killing Mr. White.

REVIEW:

Quentin Tarantino’s gritty directorial debut took the world by storm and as much as it is revered, it is also mimicked. You know what they say about imitation, it is the highest form of flattery.

I’m not exactly sure why this is called Reservoir Dogs. As far as I can tell, there was nothing about a reservoir or water even mentioned. Maybe I missed something.

Each of the “dogs” is given the name of a color to go by. Mr. Pink, Steve Buscemi, is none to happy about being pink, and in a way that he is known for, whines and makes a big to do about it.

Harvey Keitel, Mr. White, is the team’s compassionate, level headed veteran, who is none to happy about the way the events of the bank heist unfolded. Not to mention he feels responsible for Mr. Orange, Tim Roth, being shot as they were trying to get away.

Mr. Blonde, Michael Madsen, is, in my opinion, the best character, is apparently responsible for the diamond heist falling apart, due to his shooting up the place like a psychopathic, trigger-happy, maniac. Not exactly sure why he’s called Mr. Blonde, though, since he has dark hair. His torture scene with the cop is one of the best in film, though. What makes him such a great character is that he is a soft spoken, calm guy. Those are always the worst kind, aren’t they?

The thing about Tarantino’s films is that are visually stunning, graphically violent, very well-made, have some sort of homage to days gone by, and these are all good things, but the drawback they seem to have is that they seem to talk themselves to death. I mean, I was expecting lots of shooting and whatnot in this film, but instead it was like watching some sort of play on stage….nothing but talking. Aside from the excessive chatter, this wasn’t a bad film. I think it could have used a bit more action, but that goes back to the talking thing. Watch and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Monster House

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Halloween, c.1975, preteen boy, D.J. Walters (Mitchel Musso), spends a lot of his free time spying on the house across the street and its owner, Mr. Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi), a crotchety old man who terrorizes anyone who steps anywhere on his lawn or close to his house. DJ has seen and documented Nebbercracker taking toys from kids that have stepped in his grounds. His parents (Catherine O’Hara and Fred Willard), dismiss his comments as “kid talk” and leave town for the weekend, during which he is to be cared by Elizabeth or “Zee” (Maggie Gyllenhaal), DJ’s apathetic babysitter.

When Charles “Chowder” (Sam Lerner), DJ’s best friend, loses his basketball on Nebbercracker’s lawn, DJ ventures there to recover it, but Nebbercracker appears and grabs DJ, who then starts screaming. This causes him to collapse from a stroke, seemingly dead. While Nebbercracker is carried away by the paramedics, a gold key is dropped, which DJ scoops up.

That night, DJ gets a call from Nebbercracker’s house (which was just eerie moaning from the other end). He calls Chowder and they agree to meet at a construction lot. There, they decide to investigate the house. When Chowder tries to ding-dong-ditch the house, it comes to life and attempts to eat him. They run back to DJ’s house and spend the night watching across the street. Unknown to them, Zee’s recently ex-boyfriend, Bones (Jason Lee), has already been “swallowed” by the house.

The next morning, a girl named Jenny Bennet (Spencer Locke) is on the street selling Halloween chocolates. DJ and Chowder see her going to Nebbercracker’s house, and they rush out to warn her, managing to catch her before she is eaten by the house. Jenny decides to call for the police, but when police officers Landers and Lester (Kevin James and Nick Cannon) arrive, they don’t believe their story, as the house doesn’t react to the kids’ teasing while the cops are there.

The children then go to an arcade and ask advice from a video-game addict nicknamed Skull (Jon Heder). They learn that the house is a “domus mactibilis” (deadly homein Latin), which is created when a human soul merges with a man-made structure. They conclude that the house is Nebbercracker back from the dead and that the only way to “kill” the house is to destroy its heart. Though they have trouble figuring out what the heart is until DJ realizes that the chimney has been smoking (and apparently beating like a heart) ever since Mr. Nebbercracker died.

The kids make a dummy that they fill with cold medicine from Chowder’s parent’s drug store, intending to “drug” the house. As the house is about to swallow the dummy, the police officers return. Officer Landers decides to arrest the children for stealing the cold medicine and places them in the car. The house then swallows Lester, Landers and the police car, while the kids survive by jumping out the broken back window.

As the group is trapped inside the house, they notice that it has fallen “asleep”. They see lights in a net in the shape of a uvula and Chowder incorrectly thinks it is the heart. They explore the house and find a locked cage, which DJ opens it with the key he took at earlier. They find the body of Nebbercracker’s wife, Constance the Giantess, covered in cement. The house then realizes that the kids are inside and starts attacking them. They manage to escape by pulling on its uvula and forcing the house to “vomit” them outside.

As they return home, Nebbercracker arrives in an ambulance, with an arm in a sling, revealing that the house isn’t possessed by hissoul, but by the soul of Constance. DJ confronts him, and Nebbercracker reveals his story. He met Constance (Kathleen Turner), who was an unwilling member of a circus freak show, and fell in love with her. After helping her escape, Nebbercracker moved them away and started building the house she always wanted. However, children still taunted and threw things at her for her size. On one particular Halloween day, as children cruelly attacked her with objects, Constance went after them yet lost her footing retaliating and as she fell from the edge of the house’s foundation, she grabbed the lever of a cement mixer, which covered her in cement as quickly as she fell to her death. Nebbercracker ended up finishing the house, yet found her spirit had not left. It possessed it. To protect children from her wrath, Nebbercracker had to pretend to be a child-hating old man. However, Nebbercracker felt it was now time for the house to be destroyed. The monster house overhears this alliance between him and DJ and is angered. It breaks free from its foundation to attack the group.

As they flee from the now-walking house, they run to the construction lot. A chase ensues, during which Nebbercracker tries and fails to throw a stick of dynamite into the house. Jenny kisses DJ good luck; getting courage, DJ takes the dynamite and climbs to the top of a tower crane. He swings with the crane cable and throws the dynamite down the chimney, where it reaches the furnace and destroys the house completely. The kids see Nebbercracker dancing with the spirit of Constance as he lets go of her and she fades away. DJ apologizes to him and Nebbercracker thanks him for freeing him and Constance after 45 years of being “trapped.”

The film ends with the kids returning to the hole where the house was, and Chowder, DJ, and Jenny helping Nebbercracker return all the toys. During the credits, it is shown that everyone that was eaten by the house crawls out of the basement bewildered but unharmed.

REVIEW:

In about a month, Halloween will be here, so I figured a way to get in the swing of things would be to watch a film of this nature. The feeling I got from this picture is that Monster House is a training wheels horror film. What do I mean by that? Well, you know how when you’re young and you get training wheels on your bike before you learn how to ride it? That’s what this was for me. It’s like a way to introduce the horror genre to kids.

The all-star voice cast that was put together for this picture is actually overshadowed by the spectacular beauty of the animation. I belive this was released as a 3D film, because there are more than a few scenes and backgrounds that look like they were designed for viewing only with the glasses. Still, hearing Maggie Gyllenhall, Jason Lee, Jon Heder, Nick Cannon, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, Kathleen Turner, and a few others lend their voices to these characters was quite the treat. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see them recording their lines, especially when they were doing action and/or comedy lines.

When it comes to the actual story, it was ok, but I felt like something was just missing. Near the end, the film take a drastically serious, dark turn and we learn the origin of the house. I’m not going to sit here and say that shouldn’t have been in there, but I think they could have come up with a better origin. On top of all this, they make Nebbercracker the typical grumpy old man who doesn’t like kids on his yard, but all of a sudden he becomes a caring individual. Seems a bit odd and forced to me.

I didn’t really have any expectations for this film. With the current trend of non-Disney or Disney/Pixar animated films that I’ve seen lately, my expectations have been lowered. I am pleased to say that, while I didn’t fall in love with Monster House, it was worth watching and very enjoyable, except for the middle section which seemed to not fit with the tone of the rest of the movie. I wouldn’t rush out to go buy this or anything, especially since everytime you turn around it’s on Cartoon Network, but if you get the chance, don’t hesitate to check it out. you may be surprised as what you ultimately think of it.

4 out of 5 stars