Archive for October, 2009

The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Frank Drebin is honored at a dinner at the White House, where the guests are President George Bush, John Sununu, Nelson Mandela and Winnie, Washington, D.C. police commissioner Annabelle Brumford (played by Jacqueline Brookes) and others. The President announces that he will base his recommendation for the country’s energy program on Dr. Albert Meinheimer’s advice at the National Press Club dinner the following Tuesday night. The heads of the coal and oil (fossil fuel) and nuclear industries are apparently distressed by this fact, but the antics of Frank Drebin distract, as he accidentally injures Barbara Bush many times.

Dr. Meinheimer reveals that he was going to also give his results at the White House dinner but because of Frank Drebin “making such a ruckus” he was unable. Jane Spencer (Presley), now working for Dr. Meinheimer, is shown late at night at the Meinheimer research institute crying about Frank, while Dr. Meinheimer tries to console her. At one point Spencer looks out the window and sees a man run into a red van and leave. However, a maintenance man, emptying out garbage cans, discovers a clock with dynamite attached and takes it down to the security guards downstairs, accidentally triggering it in the process.

The next morning, Frank reacquaints with Jane as he interviews her about the explosion. He is shown around the institute and meets Jane’s boyfriend, Hexagon Oil executive Quentin Hapsburg, of whom he becomes exceedingly jealous. Later, Ed finds Frank at a lonely blues bar, trying to cheer him up. They discover Jane there, attempting to talk with Frank, but she only wants to discuss what she knows about the case. They have an argument and she storms off. At a meeting of the “energy” industry leaders, Quentin has revealed that he has kidnapped Dr. Meinheimer and found an exact double for him, Earl Hacker, who will pretend to be Meinheimer and give “their” recommendation to the President endorsing fossil and nuclear fuels.

The next day, the Police Squad determine the driver of the van, Hector Savage, is connected to a sex toy shop. Frank spots the red van upon entering the store, which Nordberg is given the task of bugging. While he is doing this, Savage takes off in the van. Before successfully installing the device, Nordberg is trapped underneath the van and is pulled along with the van until he eventually gets himself free from the van, but ends up getting trapped under Frank’s car. Frank and Ed pursue the signal, but when they finally stop, Nordberg is propelled forward and ends up getting stuck under a bus. Savage is held up in a suburban home surrounded by police, but Frank commandeers a tank, which he drives into the house. Savage, who was about to surrender, escapes. Frank then drives the tank into the zoo where many animals escape.

That evening, Drebin arrives at a party and starts dancing with Jane to make Hapsburg jealous. After a disastrous attempt to “wheel” the Meinheimer double to the stage for a raffle drawing, Frank then goes to Jane’s apartment, where Savage arrives with orders to kill. However, he comes across Jane while she’s having a shower, she screams, alerting Frank to Savage’s presence. Frank and Savage fight until Frank sticks a fire hose in Savage’s mouth and turns on the water full blast until Savage gets filled up with water and apparently bursts. During the fight with Savage, Frank picked up a card from Savage leading him to the dock of Quentin’s oil company. When Frank reveals the card to Jane, she quickly realizes Hapsburg’s plan and asks Frank for help to stop him. They rediscover their love for each other and spend the night together, starting with a jukebox playing “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers in the background while they recreate the love scene from “Ghost” concluding with various motion picture representations of spring and love blossoming.

The next day, Frank goes with the police to investigate, while Hapsburg and the energy representatives are meeting in a warehouse. He is bugged and accidentally falls through the roof of the warehouse as he was being chased by a guard dog. They discover the bug and tie up Frank with the real Dr. Meinheimer and the police arrive to free them, but not before Frank tries to free them knocking many objects onto Meinheimer. The police then go to the hotel where Dr. Meinheimer will make his recommendation to President Bush, and where they hope to get Hapsburg. Drebin wants to get the jump on Hapsburg by having Jane let them in from the back entrance, but that plan is derailed. Frank, Nordberg, Ed and the real Meinheimer get into the building by appropriating a costume and instruments from a Mariachi band due to perform at the hotel, and wind up performing the song “Besame Mucho” for the National Press Club audience.

Drebin Drebin “>then encounters Hacker and he attacks Drebin, but members of the Chicago Bears appear and, believing Frank to be attacking a defenseless man, proceed to wheel away Hacker while attacking Frank. Ed and Meinheimer disable Hacker. Later, during the confusion where Drebin mistakes Meinheimer for the fake, Hacker ends up arrested but Hapsburg escapes with Jane. Eventually, Frank and the police have a shootout with Hapsburg’s goons on the hotel roof. Hapsburg ends up about to set off a small nuclear device which will destroy the function, so that it won’t matter what Meinheimer will say in his speech. Nordberg’s attempt to get Hapsburg distracts him, at which point Frank suddenly disarms him and proceeds to aggressively subdue him. Ed arrives before Hapsburg reveals the code for disarming the bomb and throws him out the window, believing that he was still struggling with Frank. Although Hapsburg manages to survive the fall thanks to an awning, he is attacked by a lion, one of the animals presumably released by Frank from the zoo. His fate after that is unknown. Frank frees Jane and they attempt to figure out how to disarm the bomb while Ed and Nordberg try to evacuate the hotel despite the audience panicking.

After several attempts to disarm the bomb, Frank then manages to disarm the bomb accidentally at the last second by tripping and unplugging the power cord. He is then commended by the President, who offers him a special post as head of a Federal Bureau of Police Squad. Drebin declines, vowing to take an environment-friendly approach to his police work instead and asking Jane to marry him, which she accepts. They then go out to a balcony, where they accept commendations from the crowd, and Frank turns around, accidentally knocking Barbara Bush off the balcony. She manages to hold on, although Frank pulls off her dress in an attempt to help her.

REVIEW:

Following the success of the wildly funny and silly The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad, The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to the jokes and sight gags, which ave become a staple of this series.

Believe it or not, there is a plot to this madness.  The villain, played by Robert Goulet, is heading up a group that wants to shut down use of fossil fuels in favor of nuclear power.

Leslie Nielsen reprises his role as Lt. Frank Drebin, only this time he has a bit of credibility to his name after the successful case from the first film.

Pricilla Prelseyalso reprises her role from the first film, only this time she has more time on-screen. No, she’s not the best actress around, but her screentime is worth it.

Robert Goulet is not the first person I think of when it comes to villains, but he surprisingly does well with a mixture of sophistication, cunning, charm, and charisma that you almost don’t even realize he is the villain until it is officially revealed.

Spoofs and satire don’t get much better than these Naked Gun films. Leslie Nielsen makes the audience belive he’s such an inept cop that you almost forget he’s more than a capable actor. Leave us not forget that these are brighter spits in O.J. Simpson’s career, before the whole murder thing.  All that aside, this is one of those films that is nothing but good fun. If you’re one of those people that are going to take everything literally, then this isn’t the movie for you.

4 out of 5 stars

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Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens with highlights of events from the first movie: Jor-El condemning three Kryptonian villains, General Zod, Non, and Ursa, to the Phantom Zone and sending his son, Kal-El, to Earth in a rocket ship, the launching of the two XK-101 missiles, Superman being trapped in the swimming pool by wearing the Kryptonite necklace by Lex Luthor and being rescued by Ms. Teschmacher, and Superman diverting the XK-101 missile programmed to hit Hackensack, New Jersey into outer space. Meanwhile, the Phantom Zone drifts through space towards Earth because the shock waves after the destruction of Krypton sends it on a new course, and the XK-101 missile explodes near it, causing shock waves that destroy the Phantom Zone, freeing the three villains, who then head toward the Moon.

Later, at The Daily Planet, Lois Lane begins to suspect that Clark Kent is Superman. She confirms this belief when she draws clothes that Clark is wearing on a picture of Superman in the newspaper; the posture of both looked almost the same. She tries to prove to Clark she knows his secret by jumping out of a window believing that Superman wouldn’t allow her to die. Instead, Clark races outside at super-speed and uses his super-breath and heat vision to slow her fall and open roof curtains to act as a trampoline. Lois bounces off them and lands in a fruit stand. By the time she looks up, Clark has already raced back up to the window and looks down, appearing not to have done anything at all.

General Zod, Non, and Ursa arrive on the Moon and kill all astronauts on a joint NASA-Soviet moon expedition. They note that they have become more powerful from how easily they have killed all of the moonwalkers, having acquired more powers from being closer to a yellow Sun. They decide to fly off to Earth, which they believe to be called ‘Houston’, upon overhearing radio transmissions between the moon mission and mission control in Houston, Texas.

In prison, Lex Luthor devises a plan with Otis to break out. When Otis reveals to Luthor that Superman always flies north to escape radar detection, Luthor decides to track him down using a ‘black box’ he has created that detects alpha waves. Luthor finally breaks out of jail with the help of Ms. Teschmacher using a hot air balloon, but leaves Otis behind as his weight holds the balloon down. Using the black box device, he goes north to the Fortress of Solitude. Luthor, activating the Fortress control panel, then learns from hologram recordings of Jor-El about the three Kryptonian villains who have escaped. He decides that he will collaborate with the Kryptonian villains to defeat Superman and take over the world.

Meanwhile, Clark and Lois have arrived at Niagara Falls, Ontario to investigate a ‘honeymoon racket’ assigned to them by Perry White. Lois sees a boy falling over a railing and calls for help; Clark, outside of anyone’s sight, transforms into Superman to rescue him. Later, in their suite, Lois decides to try to prove again that Clark is Superman by pointing a gun at Clark and firing a shot. She looks with amazement as Clark, who is unharmed, removes his glasses and, giving Lois a stern look, says, “If you had been wrong, Clark Kent would have been killed.” Lois, in a humorous twist, reveals that she has used a blank in her gun. Meanwhile, the three Kryptonian villains arrive on Earth in a small town in Idaho, where they declare their reign over the entire planet to the townspeople after using their powers to easily stop incoming military forces. They then fly to the White House and easily defeat the military defenses that are protecting the President of the United States. General Zod forces the President to kneel before him as the President prays for Superman to come to the rescue.

Meanwhile, Superman takes Lois to the Fortress of Solitude, where he confesses his love for her as they retire to his bedchamber and make love. Kal-El then speaks to his father through hologram about his desire to give up his responsibilities as Superman so he can live a normal life with Lois. In order for him to relinquish being Superman, Kal-El must enter a crystal chamber and be exposed to harnessed rays from the Krypton red sun in order to lose his powers permanently Despite his father’s pleas to reconsider, Kal-El enters the chamber without hesitation and undergoes the de-powering process, which culminates in the destruction of the crystal control panel. Later, Clark and Lois visit a diner, Clark, now powerless, finds that he can’t even handle a bullying customer named Rocky, who easily beats him up. Clark’s mood is worsened when he watches the President announcing his surrender to General Zod on the diner’s TV. Clark realizes that he has to return to the Fortress and find a way to have his powers restored. Clark returns back at the Fortress, now a darkened sanctum, and calls out to his father for help. He then notices the Green Crystal glowing among the remains of the destroyed control panel and he uses the crystal to activate the panel. Jor-El appears and tells Kal-El about his terrible mistake and offers him one last resort to regain his powers – he will channel all of his remaining energy to his son, thereupon dying. Jor-El bids farewell and emerges in full body and spirit; upon touching Kal-El, he restores his son’s powers and dies by fading away.

Lex Luthor finally arrives at the White House and offers the three villains a way to find Superman, who he notes is the son of Jor-El, their imprisoner, in exchange for possession of ‘beachfront property’: Australia. Luthor agrees to help the three villains and hopefully find a way to have Superman defeated. The Kryptonian villains attack the Daily Planet and confront Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane. Superman appears, taking up Zod’s challenge to fight. During an epic battle in the Metropolis streets, Ursa and Non throw a bus at Superman crashing him into a building. To the people of Metropolis, Superman appears to be dead, and they try to attack the villains, who blow them back with super-breath (with much less slapstick than the Richard Lester version). However, Superman emerges alive, but flies off, seemingly in defeat. After the battle, Luthor offers the villains the location of the Fortress of Solitude, in exchange for Cuba.

The villains fly north bringing Luthor and Lois with them. When they arrive at the Fortress, they confront Superman and Zod threatens Lois’ life to force his surrender and, in the meantime, betray Luthor and plan to kill him as well. Luthor seemingly sides with Superman, who tells Luthor about trying to trick the villains into entering the de-powering chamber. However, Luthor double-crosses Superman and warns Zod of the trap in which Zod decides to spare Luthor’s life and agrees to the term of his demands. Superman enters the de-powering chamber and later emerges with a look of weakness and hopelessness on his face. Zod orders him to kneel and take his hand in submission, but Superman crushes his hand and throws him across the room down into the abyss below. Luthor then realizes that Superman switched the process so that the de-powering rays have been set loose in the Fortress while Superman has been safe inside the chamber. Non and Ursa are also defeated and Superman and Lois leave Luthor stranded in the Fortress and fly away (however, in a deleted scene it is stated that Luthor has been arrested and taken away by the artic police). Superman then uses his heat vision to destroy the Fortress and flies Lois home. Lois begins to break down in despair since life would never be the same, she heartbreakingly assures Superman that she can be trusted to keep his secret identity, which Superman acknowledges consolingly, and he flies off.

Superman once again turns back time by flying around the Earth at tremendous speed and reversing events that have occurred throughout, such as the destruction and mayhem done to Metropolis during Superman’s battle with the villains and the shattering of the Phantom Zone that releases the Kryptonian villains, as well as Lois’ knowledge of his secret identity. The status quo is finally changed back to normal, although both Lois and Perry White seem to experience a sense of déjà vu. Clark also goes to the diner and confronts Rocky, who is more than willing to pick a fight with him. Much to everyone’s surprise, this strange, young man handles the bullying customer like a little child, eventually felling him across the counter and sending him crashing into the pinball machine, knocking him unconscious. Clark then offers to pay the owners of the diner for the damage. With those around wondering how the stranger was able to beat the bully, Clark simply replies: “Oh, I’ve been… working out.”

REVIEW:

Before I begin this review, in case you didn’t catch in the title or plot synopsis, I need to make sure that you all know this is about the Richard Donner cut (the way Superman II was intended to be) of the film, so if you were expecting a review of the “standard” version, you will be sadly disappointed.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I have to say this is one of the best sequels I’ve seen in my lifetime and a worthy sequel to Superman. Of course, this did come out in a time when sequels were made to improve upon the original and keep the story going rather than make a quick buck like today’s films.

Christopher Reeve does more of an acting job in this film than in the last, showing conflicting emotions as both Clark Kent and Superman. Reeve really captures Superman’s “weakness” for both Lois and humanity here in this film. I did find it a bit funny that with his longer hair in some scenes he resembled Zack Efron.

Margot Kidder isn’t annoying as Lois Lane as she is in the first, except for her constant prodding and assumptions that Clark Kent is indeed Superman. Once that gets out of the way, though, she becomes your typical damsel in distress.

Gene Hackman takes a backseat to the Kryptonian villains from the Phantom Zone here, but is no less effective or eccentric as Lex Luthor.

Speaking of the Phantom Zone villains, Terence Stamp is perfect as General Zod. The lack of emotion on his face is fitting of a man who wants nothing more than to rule and case destruction. Not to mention the fact that he utter s the infamous line, “Kneel before Zod.”

An upgrade that this film has above its predecessor is that there is actually a fight scene. Superman squares off against the three villains in downtown Metropolis for a good 5-10 minutes near the end of the film. Why can’t all Superman films include a fight song. This one proves that even though it isn’t the longest fight in history, it makes for an even more exciting film.

It’s been years since I’ve seen the original Superman II cut, so I can’t tell you all the differences and what I think of them, but from what I hear, this film is far superior to the wannabe version that is considered the “real” film. There is a nice mixture of action and drama, and even a bit of comedy thrown in for good measure. Who wouldn’t like this film? It is a sure-fire must-see for everyone.

4 1/2 out 5 stars

The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Bo Duke (Jonathan Bennett) is arrested for destructive driving in neighboring Chickasaw County. Luke Duke (Randy Wayne) is arrested for blowing up illegal fireworks. Both of the teenage boys are paroled to the care of their Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson) in Hazzard County, sentenced to a summer of hard work on the farm.

Jesse is carrying on the family tradition of producing the best moonshine in the county. Bo and Luke quickly tire of farm work and take an interest in some of the local girls of Hazzard. Attempting to visit the Boar’s Nest bar, they see Jesse meeting with Boss Hogg. Jesse is arranging for his regular bribe to the County Commissioner to look the other way from his illegal moonshine operation. The Duke boys inadvertently allow Hogg’s prize pig to escape, and it falls off the roof and is injured. Furious, Boss Hogg demands a sizable amount of money from Jesse, due in two weeks, or he will foreclose on the farm.

Jesse believes his only recourse is his moonshine operation, but he cannot deliver enough in two weeks. Bo and Luke volunteer, and set off to find a fast car to do the job.

The boys enlist the help of their cousin Daisy Duke (April Scott), who has just turned 18 but is somewhat of a wallflower who wonders why boys don’t notice her. She takes them to the high-school shop class, where they meet Cooter Davenport (Joel Moore), who gives them a fast engine. They go to the junkyard to find a suitable car, but don’t like what they see. On their way home, they find some girls sunbathing next to a local pond. Bo knocks Luke in to try to impress the girls, but upon learning from Cooter that most people who jump in end up either “crippled, on life support, or brain damaged,” Bo jumps in to save him. Instead Cooter drags Luke to shore and while underwater, Bo discovers an abandoned 1969 Dodge Charger and believes it would be the perfect car. They retrieve the car from the pond, add the engine and some new paint, and The General Lee is born.

The moonshine deliveries go well but before they raise enough money to pay off Hogg, the Boss declares Hazzard a dry county, and offers a $25,000 reward for anyone who uncovers an illegal moonshine operation. He will turn the Boar’s Nest into an ice cream parlor.

Meanwhile Daisy applies for a job at the bar to help raise the money. Hughie, the Boar’s Nest bartender, says she’s not the type of girl who should work there, and refuses her but she is smitten. She undergoes a makeover to impress him, cutting her jeans into very short shorts, wearing a shirt tied to show her midriff and she lets her hair down. The bar partrons are all stunned by how good she looks and Hughie hires her immediately, and agrees to take her on a date.

Jesse then holds a large party to raise funds for the farm, but Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco arrest Jesse for illegal moonshine sales, and seize Jesse’s assets. Daisy, Bo and Luke visit him in jail, and he tells them that Boss is as corrupt as anyone, and the best way to get Jesse off is to find evidence of this. Bo and Luke soon discover Hogg’s plan. He wants to convince all the county commissioners in Georgia to ban alcohol, thus paving the way for a thriving ice cream business. More importantly, with all the ridge-runners in jail, Hogg will then be free to make a fortune selling his own illegal alcohol, turning the Boar’s Nest into a speakeasy.

Boss Hogg wants the Duke family still, which produces the best moonshine in the County. When Daisy finds out Hughie is Boss Hogg’s nephew and only dated her to find out about the family secrets, she is devastated.

The Dukes kidnap Boss and ride off in the General Lee with the police following in pursuit. They threaten to drive into Hogg Ravine unless he tells them his plan. He is too scared not to tell, and his confession is broadcast over the radio thanks to Daisy’s manipulation of Enos at the station. The Dukes then jump the ravine anyway (their first jump), and catch Hughie delivering illegal moonshine into Hazzard. The Dukes make Boss pay them the $25,000 reward, which they use to buy back the farm.

Fed up with Hogg, the citizens demand he reverse his dry county policy and free all the people he had arrested for selling moonshine. Just as it seems the 112-year-old candidate who always runs for county commissioner will finally win, he dies, leaving Boss as the only candidate, and he is re-elected anyway. Hogg summarily pardons himself for his misdeeds.

REVIEW:

The iconic orange General Lee comes roaring out of nowhere and jumps over something or other and the first thing you think of is The Dukes of Hazzard, right? well, how exactly did them Duke boys get the car? How did they end up with Uncle Jesse and cousin Daisy? What did they ever do to Boss Hogg to make him so agitated against them? There many questions that can be asked when it comes to the Duke legacy, and this film seeks to answer them.

Although the original series aired in the early 80s, this prequel is set in modern day. I don’t particularly agree with that, but when you consider that the movie with Sean William Scott and Johnny Knoxville was set in modern day, it makes sense.

The film starts off with the Luke and Bo Duke getting into trouble in their separate parts of wherever they live and being sent to live with their Uncle Jesse on the farm. Here we also meet a frumpy, nerdy Daisy Duke…a far cry from the hyper-sexed versions done by the immortal Catherine Bach and Dallas Cowboy killer Jessica Simpson. More on Daisy later, though. As the film progresses we meet all the pivotal characters of the series from Enos and Cooter, to Roscoe, Lulu, and even Roscoe’s dog…name escapes me at the moment, sorry.

THe actor who play Bo and Luke are competent in their own right. Unlike many direct-to-DVD actors these days, they seem to take their work seriously and have respect for their characters. Of course, the script and story are very well written, so they didn’t have to do much.

Newcomer April Scott, as mention  before, puts a new spin on Daisy as a frumpy schoolgirl type who gets tired of being ignored and becomes the Daisy we all know and love. Of course, it is a bit of a sudden change to all of a sudden walk around all day in short, short jean shorts and  a bare midriff, but if you got it, flaunt it, and she definitely has it!

Chris McDonald is a bit too skinny to be Boss hogg for my taste, but I guess since this is supposed to be a younger version of him, its ok. Sherilyn Fenn plays his wife Lulu, also a bit too skinny for her character, but the way she was smacking up that chicken, I’m sure Lulu will be packing on the pounds soon.

Harland Williams is a natural as Rosco and Joel Moore fits the role of Cooter.

I found it a bit odd that they foun the General Lee in the bottom of a pond, but I guess cars have been found in stranger places. Who knows where  Michael Knight found KITT or B.A. Baracus got his van.

I grew up on The Dukes of Hazzard, but the movie that came out a while back isn’t a particular favorite of mine. One thing I’ve always been curious about is how things happened that led up to the Duke legend. This film answers those questions for me, and does so without ruining the legacy of the classic TV show. Any film that can do that is worth a watch, even if it isn’t the greatest flick of all time.

4 out of 5 stars

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

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

PLOT:

A writer for television advertising, Rockwell P. Hunter (Randall), is low on the ladder at the company he works for. He then finds the perfect model and spokesperson for his new line of lipstick, the famous actress with the “oh-so-kissable lips”, Rita Marlowe (Mansfield).

In order for Rita to endorse the lipstick, however, Rock has to pretend to be her boyfriend to make her real boyfriend, Bobo Branigansky (Hargitay), the star of a TV Tarzan show, jealous. Bobo leaks the news of Rita’s new romance to the tabloids and Rock Hunter is suddenly famous. Women are crazy about him and he moves steadily up the ladder at work, becoming company president, only to find it is not what he really wanted.

At the behest of his agency, Rock is forced to propose to Rita on a coast-to-coast TV show, which breaks the heart of his fiancée, Jenny Wells (Drake), who is not too pleased, but she takes him back in the end. Both Rock and Rita are saved from a marriage neither one wants by the last-minute arrival of Rita’s hometown boyfriend, George Schmidlap (Marx).

REVIEW:

In the 50s and 60s, they really knew how to make movies that were fun to watch, unlike today where everything is all about how much money can studios put into special effects and/or 3D. Sure, most of these films weren’t the greatest in the world, but you can actually sit and watch them today and feel the sense of enjoyment that you don’t get from today’s pictures. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? was a Broadway play initially that made its way to the big screen with much of the same cast, and became a hit, something that hasn’t been done in today’s cinema.

The film starts off with Tony Randall playing the drums to the 20th century Fox fanfare and then switching to the bass. After the fanfare is over, he breaks the third wall and talks to the audience as if we were at the theater watching the play. The DVD Netflix sent me had some issues during the opening credits, so I can fully comment on them, other than to say they seemed quite funny.

Tony Randall is a comic icon, and this is one of the films that proves it. Sure, he’s the straight man ( a role he is usually cast in), but no one else can make a straight man such a loving endearing character as Randall, not to mention get in a few one-liners.

Jayne Mansfield is…well…va-va-voom! Need I say more? As Rita Marlowe, she brings to mind Marilyn Monroe with her high pitched voice and squeals. Ironically, Mansfield is oft times confused or overshadowed by Marilyn. Perhaps this was her way of getting back at her? I loved Mansfield’s character here, except for the squealing. It was cute at first, but got old quick and then just starting grating at me like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Mansfield’s than husband, Mickey Hargitay, and Groucho Marx have a couple of memorable cameos, and the cast is terrific.

Would I change anything about this picture? Sure, I would. For instance, it just seems that the whole film is based on Rock Hunter and his rise up through the ranks thanks to chance meeting with Rita. I’d make more of that story, as well as their relationship and the jealousy of Jenny and Bobo, perhaps go a bit more into the Schmidlap thing. Also, I’d give Vi a bit more. She seems to have been an interesting character, who obviously ends up with Rockwell’s friend Rufus. There could have been more on that, other than just scenes in the montage. There are other things I’d change, but these are all minor alterations that are nitpicky on my part, and not enough to affect my opinion of this film.

When it comes to classic actresses from the era of Hollywood that this film comes from, most people are ga-ga for Marilyn, but I prefer Jayne Mansfield. That’s not to take anything away from Marilyn, but just a matter of personal taste. Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? is full of the campy humor you’d expect from a comedy of this era. Those of us that appreciate real movies when the humor wasn’t all jokes about race, sex, and laced with profanity will love this. For the rest of you that are expecting to see Mansfield’s massive mammaries on display, you’re out of luck, but there are a couple of tease scenes (she’s in the bathtub in one and getting a massage in the other). This is just one of those movies that you don’t try an analyze, but rather sit back and enjoy it for what it is, a movie, not some sort of blueprint for how to live your life or anything like that.

4 out of 5 stars

Land of the Lost

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

PLOT:

Three years after being kicked out of the science department for his theory of time warps and his attack on Matt Lauer on The Today Show, paleontologist Rick Marshall (Will Ferrell) is reduced to working as a teacher for children at the George C. Page Museum until he meets Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) who urges him to finish his tachyon amplifier after presenting him with a fossil imprinted with the image of his lighter. When he does, they go to the Devils Cave where Holly found the fossiled imprint, with tour guide Will Stanton. Marshall activates the T-amplifier triggering an earthquake, and the three end up in a parallel universe having lost the amplifier.

Finding themselves in a strange world without the tachyon amplifier, they befriend a Pakuni named Chaka before falling into the feeding grounds of a Tyrannosaurus which then chases them until they reach a crevice in a cave, momentarily giving up though bent on eating Marshall for insulting him during the chase. Holly, knowing the dinosaur’s attitude, gives him the name “Grumpy”. The next day, Marshall has visions about a strange creature begging for his help and goes to find the Lost City where they encounter a strange glass beacon, the Pylon, that turns into a vocoder when they touch it before being attacked by creatures called Sleestaks. When the Pylon opens, Marshall enters, meeting the creature Enik. Enik tells them that the evil Zarn is out to control the universe and needs the tachyon amplifier.

Chaka takes the group through the jungle and onto a salt flat landscape, filled with numerous jumbled objects and landmarks. The others discover that the area is a feeding site for Compsognathus and Velociraptors, who attack a wandering ice cream man, until Grumpy comes and scares them off. An Allosaurus arrives as well. The two territorial predators prepare to fight when they both catch Marshall’s scent and chase after him. Marshall runs from “Big Alice”, and liquid nitrogen to freeze the Allosaurus to death, then finds the tachyon amplifier among her remains before a Pteranodon took it. After getting the amplifier back, the group takes a break at a motel in the salt flat. While Marshall, Will and Chaka laze in the pool, Holly repairs the amplifier and wanders off. She finds dinosaur eggs and takes one before accidentally triggering a holographic message from the Zarn, learning that Enik is the real villain.

Marshall, Will, and Chaka realize Holly is missing and leave to find her. Finding two mating Sleestaks who shed their skin, Marshall and Will use the shed skin to disguise themselves while Chaka takes the tachyon amplifier to Enik. Holly has been captured by Sleestaks and brought before the Library of Skulls to be judged, Marshall and Will arriving to learn that Enik is the villain. After fighting for their lives, the group is ambushed by Enik as he reveals his plan to use the Sleestaks to take over the Earth. He then leaves Marshall and company to their fate as Grumpy arrives to get his revenge.

Marshall takes on Grumpy one-on-one, resulting him being eaten as the dinosaur left. Holly, Will, and Chaka attempt to fight off the numerous Sleestaks. Once they are surrounded, Marshall returns to kill most of the Sleestaks with Grumpy’s aid, having made their peace with each other. Marshall and company manage to stop Enik as the portal back to Devil’s Cave begins to close. Will chooses to stay with Chaka in the Land of the Lost so Marshall and Holly can return home. Back on Earth, Matt Lauer gives a second interview with Marshall, ending with Lauer’s attempt on Marshall’s life for his slander against him. Soon after the show ends, left in the studio by accident, Holly’s dinosaur egg hatches into a baby Sleestak.

REVIEW:

If you’ve ever seen a Will Ferrell film, then you know what to expect in terms of humor. Although, I will say that this is a bit tame for him, almost like his dramatic film, whose name I can’t think of at this moment. Before this film was released this summer, Sci-Fi channel aired a marathon of Land of the Lost episodes. While this may have been a good marketing decision as it was done the weekend prior to the film’s release, it may have ultimately swayed some viewers opinions. What I mean by that is that this film strays quite a bit from the original series that it can be off-putting to some viewers, which may be why critics panned this film.

I would totally love this film if they would have been more loyal to the original series. Seriously, do they really think paying oodles of dollars for some CGI dinosaurs makes a better flick than using good old-fashioned stop motion? Had they gone the stop motion route, they could have used that excess money for something else to make the film better. Honestly, the dinosaurs don’t look any more or less real in either medium. These studio execs need to realize that CGI is not the be all end all of effects. For a film like this, it would have been better to go with stop motion, not just for the “cheesy” effect, but as a nod to the original, and because it would have been better, in my opinion. I’m sure there are those out there that are sure to disagree with me on that point, but I don’t care. CGI is used way too much these days, and this film just proves it.

Sorry to get on a soapbox there.  Will Ferrell is never going to win any awards for his acting, we all know that, but he is very good at what he does. Here he reinvents Marshall as a bumbling paleontologist, as opposed to a confident park ranger. The thing about Ferrell’s performance that really stuck with me is that while he turned Marshall into pretty much the opposite of what he originally was he kept parts of him in there, as can be seen more towards the end of the film. A couple of other notes on Ferrell. His take on Marshall reminded me of his character Marshall Willenholly (Marshall Will, & Holly…get it?) from Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. More importantly, I do belive that this is one of the few, if not the only film he does no strip down and get naked in. Although there is a scene where he swimming in a t-shirt and what appear to be speedos. Small steps, I guess.

In the original series, Will was Marshall’s son. Here, Danny R. McBride plays him as the owner or manager of some sort of truck stop amusement park thing and a pothead. McBride has been used in quite a few of Ferrell’s films, so the two have chemistry together, as is apparent in the pool. I’ll leave it at that. Will comes off as annoying or most of the film. all the whining and complaining he does grates on the nerves, but he straightens up near the end.

Holly was Marshall’s daughter in the series. Here she is a doctoral student who was kicked out or dropped out of Cambridge because she believed his theories. Anna Friel, who should still be on TV in the cancelled way too early Pushing Daisies, gives this character new life. Unlike McBride and Ferrell, her reinvention of this classic character is one that fully works. Although, when you think about it, there is a creepy factor that there is sexual tension between Marshall and his daughter.

Plotwise, I can’t really fault them. For the most part it condenses 3 or 4 season of the show into 90 minutes, while throwing in a few new things here and there, but that whole pool scene dragged on too long. It felt a bit like it was just filler. Enik could have played a bigger part of the film, since he was more of a major player in the series, and that tachyon amplifier could have played another song than one from the musical A Chorus Line, but that’s just a bit of personal bias on my part.

I wasn’t born when the original Land of the Lost TV series aired on Saturday morning, but from what I’ve seen in reruns (thank you Nick at Nite and Sci-Fi Channel), this film is a slap in the face. However, had I seen this without knowing anything about the orignal show, I’d probably be in love with this movie. I’m sure those that watch this will fall into that same mentality. If you’re familiar with the show, especially if you’re a purist, then you will no doubt hate this film and feel as if your childhood was raped by Will Ferrell. If you’re one of those that hasn’t seen or even heard of the original series (we won’t mention the 90s remake), then this is just your typical Will Ferrell flick, only slightly tamer. Personally, I fall somewhat in the middle. I liked it, but felt they could have done more to be closer to the original, such as use stop motion instead of CGI, as I mentioned before. Also, it appears that they meant for this to be a family film, but there are more than a few adult jokes flying around all over the place. Ultimately, I belive your opinion of this film is going to be determined by your opinion of Will Ferrell and how you feel about remakes of old TV shows.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Highlander

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

PLOT:

Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) was born in the year 1518 “in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel.” In 1536, his clan is in conflict with the Clan Fraser, and Connor rides along into his first battle. The Frasers are working with a towering monster of a man known as The Kurgan (Clancy Brown), who has recognized that Connor is a fellow Immortal and hopes to use the battle to kill Connor before he becomes aware of his abilities. On the battlefield, Connor wonders why none of the Fraser’s forces will attack him, until he comes across the Kurgan and is struck by an odd pain (from sensing the proximity of another immortal, though he doesn’t know it at the time). This leaves him open to attack.

The Kurgan mortally wounds Connor and prepares to decapitate him, but the MacLeod kinsmen intervene just before this occurs, with the Kurgan vowing to return. The clan mourn Connor, but he miraculously revives shortly after his “death.” Accusing him of witchcraft, Connor’s clansmen beat him and prepare to burn him, but his cousin Angus (James Cosmo) persuades them to exile Connor instead. He escapes with his life but is banished forever from his clan and birthplace.

MacLeod eventually becomes a blacksmith in Glencoe, where he marries Heather (Beatie Edney). In 1541, he is located by a much older Immortal, who introduces himself as Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez (Sean Connery). He explains that the pain he feels in the Kurgan’s and Ramírez’s presence is “The Quickening,” which compels Immortals to battle each other. Ramírez appoints himself MacLeod’s tutor in the ways of being Immortal, their pursuit of The Prize, and the rules of an age-old “Game,” which will end when the few who remain participate in “The Gathering,” noting that “in the end, there can be only one.” Immortals can only die by decapitation and can only avoid battle on holy ground.

Ramírez later explains that his own name is just his current alias, being Egyptian by birth. He adopted it while serving as Chief Metallurgist for Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (also King of Spain between 1516-1556). His sword is a katana he received in Japan in 593 B.C., made by his (then) father-in-law Masamune. Masamune, a genius far ahead of his time in the forging of swords, was the father of Princess Shakiko, Ramírez’s third wife. Ramírez also takes it upon himself to improve MacLeod’s swordsmanship, which he declares is “no better than that of a clumsy child.

Ramírez warns MacLeod to leave his wife or face heartbreak, explaining that “I was born 2,437 years ago. In that time, I’ve had three wives. The last was Shakiko, a Japanese princess… When Shakiko died, I was shattered. I would save you that pain. Please, let Heather go.” He also explains that Immortals are incapable of having children.

MacLeod refuses to leave his wife, though he continues to train under Ramírez, who also explains the origins of the Kurgan and the risk for the world if he wins the Prize. One night, the Kurgan arrives at MacLeod’s home while MacLeod himself is absent, though Heather and Ramírez are there. The Kurgan and Ramírez duel, with the frightened Heather their only spectator. After an extended duel, which destroys the house, the Kurgan manages to decapitate Ramírez and proceeds to rape Heather. MacLeod soon returns to find his home in ruins, his mentor killed, and his wife alive but traumatized. She never tells him about the rape, and MacLeod never learns of the event until 1985, when the Kurgan mocks Ramírez’s memory.

MacLeod remains with his wife until her death from old age. Dying in MacLeod’s arms, she confides that her only regret was not having his children. After burying Heather, MacLeod burns their residence and wanders the world, journeying as far away as Japan, and finally ends up in America. These travels include an 18th century duel on Boston Common (in which a drunken MacLeod is repeatedly run through by a sword, to no effect, by an insulted husband), and killing a Nazi officer during World War II, rescuing young Rachel, a Holocaust survivor, in the process. His experiences over time leave him a bitter, cynical man.

In 1985 New York City, the few surviving Immortals are participating in “The Gathering”, a final series of confrontations to determine the winner of “The Prize”. Eventually, the last two surviving are MacLeod, under the alias of “Russell Edwin Nash” and the Kurgan, under the alias of “Victor Kruger.” Meanwhile, the spike in what appear to be murders by decapitation has drawn the attention of the police, who find MacLeod leaving the scene of an earlier duel and bring him in for questioning. However, as their evidence is circumstantial, they cannot arrest him, though he becomes their prime suspect. Among the investigators of the case is forensic scientist Brenda Wyatt (Roxanne Hart), who is well-versed in the provenance of swords. Samples taken from the crime scene reveal the sword used is more than 2000 years old (MacLeod is now using Ramírez’ sword) and she begins investigating him, primarily over interest in the sword.

Eventually, her investigation reveals MacLeod’s longevity through the use of different names, and she confronts him about it. He reveals his true nature to her and she finds herself falling in love with him. This does not escape the attention of the Kurgan, who is now hunted by the police as the wanted murderer after being identified by a mortal he stabbed during a recent duel. He abducts Brenda to force MacLeod into a final confrontation. MacLeod battles the Kurgan, finally defeating him (with a little help from Brenda). He wins “The Prize” which is revealed to be mortality, the ability to sire children, and a telepathic/empathic gift described as being “at one with all living things” with “each man’s thoughts and dreams… yours to know”. He and Brenda embark on a new life together.

REVIEW:

Highlander is one of those films that you need to see to really be able to say whether you like it or not. Yes, I can sit here and tell you what I think about it, but this is just one of those films where you need to see for yourself to make your own decision. You’ll either love it or hate it, depending on your taste and if you can keep up with the story.

I would have liked for there to have been more of a developement of the story. For me, this seemed like it was two different films going on at once. The first being the modern day (it was released in ’86) and the other was all the flashbacks. The flashabcks were actually more interesting than the modern day sequences, if you ask me.

The modern parts of the film are the “bread and butter” of the picture and are what the movie is really about, but with the exception of the climax, are nothing more than some drama in the vein if CSI or some other type of crime show, but with the occasional word fight thrown in there for good measure.

Clancy Brown is best known to me as the voice of Lex Luthor from the Superman cartoons and Mr. Krabs from Spongebob Squarepants. Its hard to imagine this guy as good old Mr. Krabs after seeing how evil he can be, coupled with what I’ve heard from him as Luthor, but that’s just the sign of a good actor when one can totally morph from one role to the next.

Christopher Lambert will best be known to me as the Raiden in Mortal Kombat (a role he was much better suited for than his successor). In Highlander, though, Lambert comes off as a bit monotone and unfeeling…almsot robotic at times. It actually puts me in the mind of Bill from True Blood. They both have lived for quite some time and don’t really know how to fully adjust to modern civilization. It is for this very reason that I can’t rip his acting a new one, but I would have liked for him to be more human with this character.

While there is quite a lot of action in this picture, I could have done with a bit more. That could just be the action junkie in me talking, though. I really liked the relationship McLeod has with Rachel. From what I hear this is explored a bit more in the sequels.

unfortunately, the “geniuses” in Hollywood have seen fit to put a remake of this film in the pipeline. I may sound like a broken record, but its best to see the original before you bother with any newer version. Even if the new one sucks, and it probably will, there is still that newness factor with modern day technologies and whatnot that wasn’t around in the 80s that will just make this thing look cheesy and ruin its legacy. Having said that, I don’t think Highlander will have any problem being remembered by anyone. I didn’t know much about this film series, other than a couple of skits that appeared on Robot Chicken, but of this is any indication, I think I’ll be enjoying them all. Hopefully you will, too.

4 out of 5 stars

Superman

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

On the planet Krypton, using evidence provided by scientist Jor-El, the Ruling Council sentences three insurrectionists, General Zod, Ursa and Non, to “eternal living death” in the Phantom Zone for attempting a totalitarian rebellion. Although the Council widely respects him, Jor-El is unable to convince them of his belief that the Kryptonian sun will shortly explode and destroy their planet. As a result, Jor-El launches a spacecraft containing his infant son, Kal-El, towards Earth, a distant planet with a suitable atmosphere, and where Kal-El’s dense molecular structure will give him superhuman powers (since all Kryptonian life-forms gain superpowers from exposure to a yellow sun, such as Earth’s sun). Shortly after the ship launches, Krypton is destroyed.

The ship crashes near an American farming town, Smallville, Kansas, where Kal-El is found by Jonathan and Martha Kent and raised as their own son, Clark. Immediately after his discovery by the Kents, the toddler Kal-El hoists the bumper of a pickup truck about to fall on Jonathan Kent. As a teenager, Clark exhibits other extraordinary powers, outrunning speeding trains, and punting a football into the stratosphere. Shortly thereafter, Jonathan Kent dies of a heart attack, and Clark can do nothing. Following the funeral, Clark hears a psychic “call”, discovering a glowing green crystal in the ship stored in the barn.

Compelled to travel north, Clark heads to the Arctic Circle, where the crystal builds the Fortress of Solitude, resembling the architecture of Krypton. Activating a control panel inside the fortress, a vision of Jor-El appears, stating that he has been dead for “thousands of your years,” and explains Clark’s origins, educating him in his powers and responsibilities. After twelve years, with his powers fully developed, Clark leaves the Fortress and finds a job at The Daily Planet in Metropolis. He meets and develops a romantic attraction to reporter Lois Lane, but the feelings are not returned: she regards him as merely a friend. Lois becomes involved in a helicopter accident where conventional means of rescue are impossible, requiring Clark to use his powers in public for the first time in order to save her.

Later, he visits her at home, takes her for a flight over the city, and allows her to interview him for a newspaper article in which she dubs him “Superman.” Meanwhile, criminal genius Lex Luthor has developed a cunning plan to make a fortune in real estate by buying large amounts of “worthless” desert land and then diverting a nuclear rocket from a missile testing site to the San Andreas Fault. This will destroy California and leave Luthor’s desert as the new West Coast of the United States, greatly increasing its real estate value. After his incompetent henchman Otis accidentally redirects the first rocket to the wrong place, Luthor’s girlfriend, Eve Teschmacher, successfully changes the course of the second missile. Knowing Superman could stop his plan, Luthor lures him to his underground lair via a supersonic greeting and exposes him to Kryptonite. As Superman weakens, Luthor taunts him by revealing the first missile is headed to Hackensack, New Jersey, in the opposite direction, knowing Superman could not stop both impacts.

Teschmacher is horrified because her mother lives in Hackensack, but Luthor does not care and leaves Superman to a slow death. Teschmacher rescues Superman on the condition that he will deal with the New Jersey missile first. He is consequently too late to stop the second impact, causing a massive earthquake which he battles to correct. While he is busy saving others, Lois’ car falls into the ground as a result of an aftershock, and quickly begins to fill with dirt and debris, which suffocates her to death. Distraught at being unable to save Lois, Superman ignores Jor-El’s warning not to interfere with human history, preferring to remember Jonathan Kent’s advice that he must be here for “a reason”, and travels back in time in order to save Lois, altering the historical timeline so that her car is never caught in the aftershock. Superman then delivers Luthor and Otis to prison, where he knows they will be secure until they receive a fair trial.

REVIEW:

Superman is one of the first names many think of when you say superhero, often times he is the first name. This film was, for the longest time, the benchmark for superhero films and with good reason.

The film covers the basic origin of the Man of Steel, complete with a glimps at the villains of Superman II and appearances by Lana Lang and a young Lois Lane on the train. What is most impressive about the film for me was the fact that they handled the original similarly to the source material.

Sure those Krypton scenes seemed to drag on forever and a day, but as the film progresses, you start to realize how they fit into the Superman origin.

There are a few things that bothered me about this flick, though. First off, there is the rule that Superman cannot change human history. Now, even though he does change human history near the ned of the film, it seems as though he does so without consequences. My  issue is that it is never said why it is forbidden for him to do so. Sure, if was to go back and change the outcome of the Civil War or prevent something major from happening, then it would make sense that he isn’t meant to go back. He goes back to save Lois, but it seems like he undoes everything that he raced to do. It just makes no sense. Yes, I realize its just a movie and there needs to be some suspension of disbelief, but this just seems like a plothole that is never addressed.

The other issue I have deals with the fact that Superman doesn’t fight. Obviously Lex Luthor is not going to go toe to toe with Supes, but Kal-El’s only bit of action along those lines is when he knocks the door out of the way when he first meets Luthor. It just seems like they could have done more with the action part of the film, as opposed to the story…though the story is very well written and executed.

John Williams’ score captures the true essence of the characters. Aside from the main theme, the most impressive  pice has to be the fanfare that is played when we first see Krypton. It is Williams’ genius at its best.

The cast really makes their characters believable. I’d love to sit here and heave praise of Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent/Superman, but he takes a backseat to Gene Hackman’s over the top Lex Luthor. As Luthor, Hackman gives us a character who is not only evil and sadistic, as showing in his first appearance on screen where he knocks a cop onto the subway tracks, but also a flamboyant businessman with plans of world domination.

As good, and near perfect, s this film is, I cannot give it a full 5 star rating sue to the plotholes and lack of Superman action. However, as everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I’m just going to say that you should see it for yourself before making a decision. Rumors have it that they are trying to reboot this franchise and make it super dark, in a way they did with Batman. I have to vehemently object to this decision. Superman is a lighter superhero. He is, more or less, a boy scout, not a spoiled rich kid playing dress up. Having said that, it may be best if you watch this film before the it does indeed get rebooted (and bastardized).

4 1/2 out of 5 stars