Archive for November, 2009

Demolition Man

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

PLOT:

In 1997, Los Angeles has fallen into chaos, with criminal warlords ruling various sections of the city. The most dangerous of these is Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), who has just kidnapped a busload of people that strayed into his territory. The LAPD mounts a raid on his headquarters, with Sergeant John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) – nicknamed “Demolition Man” for the extensive property damage that occurs when he apprehends criminals – going in first and alone. He captures Phoenix, but the latter sets off explosives to destroy the building; the bodies of the bus passengers are soon found in the rubble. Spartan is also arrested on Phoenix’s accusation that the hostages had been alive before Spartan’s actions, and both men are sent to the California State “CryoPrison,” where they are cryogenically frozen in suspended animation to serve out their lengthy sentences (Spartan is sentenced to seventy years; eligible for parole no earlier or later than the year 2046, 50 years from ’97. Phoenix is sentenced to life imprisonment).

Thirty-six years later, in 2032, Phoenix is thawed out for a parole hearing, whereupon he kills the warden and escapes. He begins to rampage through what is now “San Angeles” (a combination of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara), hacking into the city’s computer network and overpowering police officers with ease. Since San Angeles is a pacifist utopia, the police are helpless to deal with this sort of behavior. However, Lieutenant Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock), an officer fascinated with 20th-century culture, suggests that Spartan be brought in to stop Phoenix.

Spartan is revived and reinstated on the force, but he chafes at the enforced tranquility of this society and many of the people he interacts with, particularly George Earle (Bob Gunton), the commanding Chief of Police/Captain, find his behavior barbaric. He still gains respect from the San Angeles police (particularly Huxley and Zachary Lamb, a fellow officer from 1996) due to his blue collar nature and anti-authoritarian attitude. Phoenix arms himself by breaking into an exhibit of now-anachronistic firearms at a local museum. Spartan tracks him down and fights him here, but Phoenix escapes and briefly encounters Dr. Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorne), the creator of San Angeles’ society. Cocteau suggests that Phoenix has a job to do: kill Edgar Friendly (Denis Leary), leader of the homeless “Scrap” people who live in the underground “Wasteland,” or the ruins of old Los Angeles.

Spartan and Huxley later witness Friendly leading the Scraps in an above-ground food raid, part of a resistance movement aimed at bringing down Cocteau’s paradise. They also determine that Phoenix was trained in all manner of violent criminal behavior while in CryoPrison, then allowed to escape so he could work for Cocteau. Meanwhile, Phoenix confronts Cocteau again and demands the release of several other criminals to help rebuild his organization.

Entering the Wasteland in search of Phoenix, Spartan, Huxley and sidekick Alfredo Garcia (Benjamin Bratt) meet Friendly face to face. The reason for his defiance of the established social order, he says, is that he is a free-thinking individual who only wants to be left alone to live his life as he chooses. Spartan and Phoenix fight down here, leading to a car chase through the San Angeles streets. At this point, Phoenix reveals that the bus passengers he kidnapped in 1996 were already dead before Spartan arrived, so the latter went to prison for a crime he never committed.

Phoenix eventually gets away, but Spartan and Huxley pursue him into the CryoPrison. Along the way, they find the body of Cocteau, shot dead by one of Phoenix’s men, and learn that Phoenix is thawing out the prison’s worst offenders. Going in alone, Spartan battles him one last time and finally freezes him solid, then kicks his head off to shatter on the floor. Damage from the brawl causes the system to overload, and Spartan barely makes it to the street before the entire CryoPrison explodes. In the aftermath, he suggests that the surface dwellers and Scraps work together to build a better society, then departs with Huxley to explore life in the future.

REVIEW:

I used to have this movie poster hanging above my bed when I as in high school. Strangely enough, I never saw the film until a few years ago. I thought it was just a cool poster to have and all, never thinking the film would be worth watching. Boy was I wrong. This movie is totally awesome!!!

Set in the future, society has become totally peaceful. So much so, that any and all crimes are as obsolete and outdated as dinosaurs. Anything that the powers that be have deemed “bad for you” is illegal, such as salt, carbonated beverages, foul language, etc. Other than having a chip installed in your skin so that they know where you are at all times and the whole stuff that is bad for you being outlawed thing, I’d love to live in this society, but that’s just wishful thinking.

When the film opens in 1996, Sylvester Stallone confronts Welsey Snipes, who inadvertently blows up a factory which holds a bus full of people. At the time, it is believed that they were still alive when he went in there, but it is later revealed theat they were killed before Stallone gets there. The results of this catastrophe lead to both Snipes and Stallone being cryogenically frozen.

Somehow, Snipes is up for parole when we get to the future. In his hearing, he escapes and begins tearing through San Angeles with “old school” crime. This leads the inept police to thaw Stallone out with the hopes that he can track him down and catch him agin. Little did they know that man behind Phoenix’s release is the top dog in the city. You can imagine the complications that can cause.

On top of all this, there is some sort of subplot involving Dennis Leary and a group of underdwellers (look for Jack Black) and a bit of romance between Stallone and Sandra Bullock’s 90s obsessed character. These don’t take anything away from the story, but they do get a tad confusing, especially the virtual sex that Stallone has with Bullock.

The action is this film is what you would expect from a flick of this nature, especially the climactic fight with Stallone and Snipes. Sure, it could have been better, but there are tons of worse fight scenes in cinema. The setting of San Angeles is beautiful, if I do say so myself, but it would have been nice to see a bit more of it. Of course, Taco Bell being the only restaurant would kill me.

This film is highly underrated, and I don’t understand why. It has sci-fi action, future dystopian setting, some dark, violent moments, comedy, pretty much everything that would make a good film, yet it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. While it wasn’t a flop, it just deserves more notoriety. If you don’t belive me, then check it out and see for yourself.

4 out of 5 stars

Observe and Report

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

PLOT:

An anonymous flasher exposes himself to shoppers in the Forest Ridge Mall parking lot. The head of mall security, Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen), makes it his mission to apprehend the offender. He is assisted by Charles and Dennis, and the Yuen twins, in his efforts.

Ronnie’s dream girl, Brandi (Anna Faris) who works a mall make-up counter, is flashed the next day, becoming distraught over the situation. Ronnie tries to comfort her until a police officer, Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta), arrives and takes over Ronnie’s palliative role. Ronnie feels threatened by this and is upset that his boss allowed an outside person to infringe on his search for the offender.

The criminal activity at the mall continues, as a masked person is seen robbing a shoe store, causing property damage. Detective Harrison is once again called in to investigate, his efforts hindered by Ronnie, who thinks that an Iraqi shopkeeper in the mall is the thief, based only on the fact that he is Iraqi. In response, Harrison curses out Ronnie during a meeting with Ronnie’s superior, and Ronnie decides to take the steps necessary to become a real police officer.

As part of his preparations, Ronnie decides to ride along with Detective Harrison. Harrison, fed up with Ronnie, tricks him into walking into the most dangerous part of town, and drives off. Ronnie then confronts and subsequently subdues several drug dealers, victoriously returning to the police station with a dealer’s son and thanking the detective for the opportunity to prove himself. Emboldened, Ronnie arranges a date with Brandi. On their date, Brandi consumes a large quantity of alcohol as well as several tablets of clonazepam which she took from Ronnie. Ronnie takes her home and has sex with her while she is unconscious.

Ronnie fails the psychological examination for the police officer job. Nell (Collette Wolfe), a friendly food court worker, explains to him that her boss Roger and another female employee make fun of Nell for having her leg in a cast, leading Ronnie to threaten the two after giving Roger a severe beating. Depressed, he is coerced by Dennis to spend the day doing a wide variety of drugs and assaulting skateboarding teenagers. At the end of the day, Ronnie finds out that Dennis was the shoe thief, and that he has been stealing from the mall for quite some time. Ronnie is stunned and, after a brief argument, is knocked unconscious from behind by Dennis, who then flees to Mexico.

Ronnie decides to go “undercover” in order to catch the flasher. At night he sees Harrison having sex with Brandi in his cruiser, and he confronts her in front of onlookers at the mall the next day, damaging mall property in the process. Ronnie refuses to leave the mall and police are called in. Ronnie fights off many officers before being beaten in a fist fight with Harrison.

After a brief time in jail, and once his wounds heal, Ronnie returns to the mall, although now no longer as a security guard. He is approached by Nell back on both legs, and she kisses him to console him. Interrupting their romantic moment, the pervert flashes Nell and Ronnie and runs off, exposing himself to many other mall patrons. Ronnie, pursuing the flasher in a slow-motion sequence that includes him punching the Iraqi clerk from previously in the face, retrieves a gun from a closet and shoots the flasher as he approaches Brandi. Though she thanks him, Ronnie rejects her for sleeping with Harrison.

Refusing the flasher an ambulance, Ronnie takes him to the police station, impressing and insulting the officers who had previously ridiculed him. A victorious Ronnie is then interviewed with the other security guards and he is accompanied by Nell, who is now his new girlfriend, and he returns back to his job as the head of mall security.

REVIEW:

Remember when Seth Rogen was still a chubby guy? Seems like he was much more likable back then compared to now when he’ slimmed down and just doesn’t seem like the same person, not to mention he isn’t as funny, for whatever reason. Observe and Report is a vehicle for Rogen in which he plays a mall security cop…excuse me, the head of mall security.

Does the premise sound vaguely familiar? Maybe you’re thinking of Paul Blart: Mall Cop? These are two totally different films, but they both have mall cops and were released roughly around the same time. How many film about mall cops can you name?

I didn’t love this film. Sure, it had some funny moments, and didn’t get all preachy/dramatic at the end the way so many comedies tend to do these days, but it just didn’t work for me. The jokes seemed a bit forced. Rogen comes off as annoying. There were parts of the film where I honestly thought he was behind some of the crimes or would turn out ot be the flasher. On top of that the ultra hot Anna Faris is wasted here. Sure, she’s a delicious piece of eye candy, but if you’re going to get a hot comedic actress like her to star in your picture, have the good sense to let her do her thing, not just sit there taking Tequila shots and looking like a racoon for most of her scenes.

There are countless other reasons I could list for why this film just isn’t that great and won’t be making any top lists of mine. Having said that, it’s not a total waste of time. I think if I were to watch it again, I may like it a little more, but as of this one viewing, I just wasn’t feeling it. I’m not trying to be a hater, but where Paul Blart: Mall Cop succeeded, Observe and Report fails.

2 out of 5 stars

Around the World in 80 Days

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film starts with a man (later known to be Lau Xing) (Jackie Chan), robbing and escaping from the Bank of England. To evade the police, he hides in Phileas Fogg’s house. From a window he observes police officers searching for him, asking foreign-looking men in the street for identification; so when Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan) asks him for his name he responds “Passport…too”. Phileas takes his name to be “Passepartout” (pronounced Pass-port-too), and takes him on as a valet. Phileas Fogg is trying to break the 50-mph speed barrier, and after succeeding with the help of Passepartout and managing to avoid the police, they head to the Royal Academy of Science.

There Fogg is insulted by the other ‘brilliant minds’, in particular the bombastic William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (Jim Broadbent), who believes that everything worth discovering has already been discovered and there is no need for further progress. The bank robbery is also discussed. In his blind rage, Phileas says that he is glad the bank was robbed, because it is outdated and says that the thief could be in China in little over a month, which interests Passepartout. Phileas Fogg is pressured into a bet to see whether it would be possible, as his calculations say, to travel around the world in 80 days. If he wins, he would become Minister of Science in Lord Kelvin’s place; if not, he would have to tear down his lab and never invent anything again.

Passepartout and Phileas retreat to Phileas’s home, where he mourns on his rash decision to take the bet; yet Passepartout says that to bet on something he believes in, means the bet is in no way foolish. That sets Phileas on the start of his journey around the world. Without losing a moment, they take a carriage and leave London, after crossing with Inspector Fix (Ewen Bremner), a corrupt officer who was hired by the Royal Academy of Science to stop them travelling round the world.

They then journey to Paris, where Passepartout must evade warriors sent by the murderous female soldier General Fang, who is after the precious Jade Buddha that he stole. She had previously given the Buddha to Lord Kelvin, in exchange for military assistance in her enterprises to conquer Lau Xing’s village. [Remember at this point that Passepartout’real name is Lau Xing!]. Pretending to take Phileas to a convention with Thomas Edison, Passepartout leads him instead to an Art School, where Phileas meets Monique (Cécile de France), a would-be impressionist. Realizing how busy his boss is, Passepartout fights the minions using every material available: canvas, brushes and buckets of paint, etc, while in the process of accidentally making a painting. Meanwhile, Phileas and Monique discuss Monique’s paintings of ‘impossible things’, such as dogs playing poker. Moments later, Phileas sees a painting of a man with wings. To make a machine that could allow men to fly was always Phileas’s dream; he therefore feels touched. All of a sudden, Passepartout returns and tells his boss that they are running late. The two men, accompanied by Monique, depart in a hot-air balloon, while being chased by General Fang’s warriors.

Phileas initially refuses to allow Monique to travel with them due to a misunderstanding in allowances, but after consulting him, he does allow her. Then they travel to Turkey, where they are greeted by Prince Hapi (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Here, they were entertained for some hours in a swimming pool, in which they also chat about their ideas of better mankind and tuck into a delicious feast. The Prince, having become infatuated with Monique, ordered her to stay as his seventh wife, (one for each day of the week), while the men were ordered to leave. The men leave, but blackmail Prince Hapi into releasing Monique, using a prized but apparently flimsy ‘The Thinker’ statue of the Prince as a bargaining counter. The statue is ultimately destroyed, though the three travelers escape.

Lord Kelvin, hearing of all this and of the theft of the Jade Buddha, becomes angry; he is later contemptuous, when he learns that Phileas has been involuntarily abetting a thief’s escape. Using this as an excuse to delay Phileas, he and his aides order the British colonial authorities in India to arrest both men. In India, Passepartout sees notice of the price on his head and warns his companions. Disguised as local women, they evade the police, but are attacked by General Fang’s warriors again. Using Inspector Fix and a sextant as weapons, Phileas and Passepartout defeat their assailants and flee to China.

Guided by knowledge of China, Passepartout leads his friends to a village, where they are happily greeted. They spend several days here, during which Phileas discovers that Passepartout is in fact Lau Xing, a local warrior, and that the repeated attacks by General Fang’s (Karen Joy Morris) militia, the Black Scorpions, are part of a power struggle centred around the Jade Buddha. Phileas is disappointed by this and more so, by the revelation that Monique has known the truth for many weeks. Later, the village is attacked by the Black Scorpions. Phileas, Monique and Lau Xing are held captive. In the next morning, Lau Xing challenges the arrogant young leader of the group that has seized him to a fight. Lau Xing at first fights alone and is defeated (when the leader cheats); moments later, he is joined by the martial arts masters of the “Ten Tigers of Canton”, of which he is one. The Tigers, though outnumbered, drive the Black Scorpions from their village and free the Westerners. The Jade Buddha is then reinstated in the village’s temple.

Phileas now desires to continue alone, having been disappointed by his companions. He travels to San Francisco, where he is tricked out of his money. He attempts to replenish his supply with the aid of a beggar (Rob Schneider)but fails, as he is punched by a passerby as he begs for money. He is soon, however, recognized by Lau Xing and Monique, who have come to find him. In the desert, they find the Wright brothers (brothers Owen and Luke Wilson), and the 3 inventors discuss the flying machine. Taking a look at the plans (which Wilbur Wright claimed to be his silly brother’s doing), Phileas finds them brilliant and suggests a few mere changes (Wilbur says he was proud of his brother and had always believed in him).

Lau Xing (still called Passepartout because of force of habit on the other people’s part), Monique and Phileas’ next stop is New York City, where a massive crowd who had placed bets for or against Phileas winning, greet them and make it impossible for them to pass and reach their ship. A policeman allows this to be possible, by taking them through a building he called a shortcut. Here more minions await them, ready for one last face-off. They made arrangements with Lord Kelvin to take Lau Xing’s village and tap the jade reserves underneath it, but if Phileas wins the bet, Lord Kelvin will not have the means to help them. A major battle between the three friends and General Fang and her minions commences in the workshop, where the Statue of Liberty was constructed, with Lau Xing using his skill to stop his enemies and the other two using luck. Fang is crushed to death by the statue’s tablet. In the end, the three friends are victorious or so it seems, as the minions had stalled them enough to make them lose their ship to England. Though Phileas could have gotten to the boat, he decides to miss it to help Lau Xing.

Phileas feels like he had lost, but the other two say they might still make it, if they caught the next ship. Phileas knows the unlikelihood of this, yet chooses to carry on. The old ship was owned by a sailor, who had lost both his nipples in an attack by a great white shark. Phileas tells the captain they weren’t going fast enough and run out of coal, and after a lot of talking, he manages to convince the captain to let him build a plane out of the old wood from the ship, in exchange for a new ship and a surgery to give him new nipples.

Using the changed Wright brother’s plans, Phileas builds the machine. On it is Passepartout/Lau Xing (pedalling), Phileas (driving) and Monique (commenting). The machine seems to be working fine and soon they reach London. Then, the machine begins to fall apart and they have a crash-landing right in front of the RAS (Royal Academy of Science). Lord Kelvin sends police to stop them from making it to their actual destination, the top step of the Royal Academy of Science and the clock soon strikes noon, which is the time Phileas started.

Lord Kelvin proclaims himself the victor. Several people, such as Monique, Fix and other ministers, begin attesting to Kelvin’s unfair methods and his bullying nature, but Kelvin scoffs at them. However, in the process, he insults Queen Victoria (Kathy Bates), who is nearby listening. She had found out he had sold her arsenal to Fang (in exchange for jade mines in China), thanks to one of his aides, and soon realizes this fate. Kelvin tries to run away, but is apprehended. Phileas is also lucky enough not to have lost the bet; he is one day early, thanks to crossing the international date line, yet believed himself late, because of an error on the part of Passepartout. He ascends the stairs of the Academy and there, embraces Monique, victorious in his bet.

REVIEW:

To say that this film is inconsistent is an understatement. What do I mean by that? Well, it can’t decided if it wants to be a good family film, action/comedy, or something else. Due to that fact, it tries out all the genres and fails at all of them individually, but shines here and there.

Special effects and cameos are the name of the game with this film. Look for appearances from stars such as Luke and Owen Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others. The effects are nothing to write home about ,but for the tone of the film, they work.

I remember growing up and reading Jules Vernes’ noveil Around the World in 80 Days. If you’re like me, and a fan of te novel, then this film will disappoint you. Fans of generic action and/or family flicks will also come away a bit disappointed.  There is no other way to describe this film, other than to say it is what it is, a disappointment.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Godfather, Part II

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The Godfather Part II presents two parallel storylines. One involves Mafia chief Michael Corleone following the events of the first film from 1958 to 1959; the other is a series of flashbacks following his father, Vito Corleone, from his childhood in Sicily (1901) to his founding of the Corleone crime family in New York City while still a young man (1917–1925).

The film opens in 1901, in the town of Corleone in Sicily, at the funeral procession for young Vito’s father, Antonio Andolini, who had been ordered killed by the local Mafia chieftain, Don Ciccio. During the procession, Vito’s older brother Paolo is also murdered because he swore revenge on the Don. Vito’s mother goes to Ciccio to beg him to let young Vito live. When he refuses, she holds a knife to his throat, sacrificing herself to allow Vito to escape, and Ciccio’s gunmen shoot her. They scour the town for Vito, warning the sleeping townsfolk that they will regret harboring the boy. With the aid of a few of the townspeople, Vito finds his way by ship to New York. Arriving at Ellis Island, an immigration agent, mishearing Vito’s hometown of Corleone as his surname, registers him as “Vito Corleone”. He is then ordered to stay on the island for three months due to smallpox.

In 1958, Michael Corleone, Godfather of the Corleone Family, deals with various business and family problems at his Lake Tahoe, Nevada compound during an elaborate party celebrating his son’s First Communion. He meets with Nevada Senator Pat Geary, who despises the Corleones, but has shown up with his wife to accept a large endowment to the state university. Geary demands a grossly exaggerated price for a new gaming license and a monthly payment of 5% of the gross profits from all of the Corleone Family’s Nevada gaming interests, all while insulting the Corleones and Italians in general. Michael defends his family while keeping his usual calm demeanor, and tells Geary that his offer is for Geary to give him the gaming license for free.

Michael also deals with his sister Connie, who, although recently divorced, is planning to marry a man with no obvious means of support, and of whom Michael disapproves. He also talks with Johnny Ola, the right hand man of Jewish gangster Hyman Roth, who is supporting Michael’s move into the gambling industry. Finally, Michael meets with Frank Pentangeli, who took over Corleone caporegime Pete Clemenza’s territory after Clemenza’s death (which is implied to have been under non-natural circumstances), and now has problems with the Rosato Brothers, who are backed by Roth and attempting to intrude on Pentangeli’s territory. Michael refuses to allow Pentangeli to kill the Rosatos, in order to maintain a smooth business relationship with Roth. Pentangeli leaves abruptly, after telling Michael “your father did business with Hyman Roth, your father respected Hyman Roth, but your father never trusted Hyman Roth or his Sicilian messenger boy Johnny Ola.”

Later that night, an assassination attempt is made on Michael, which he survives when his wife Kay notices that the bedroom window drapes are inexplicably open. Afterward, Michael tells Tom Hagen that the hit was made with the help of someone close, and that the gunmen, whoever they were, are probably already dead. Michael then insists that he must leave and entrusts Hagen to protect his family. The Corleone guards then search the compound, and as Michael suspected, the gunmen are found dead.

In 1917, Vito Corleone, now married with one son, works in a New York grocery store with his close friend Genco Abbandando. The neighborhood is controlled by a blackhander, Don Fanucci, who extorts protection payments from local businesses. One night, Vito’s neighbor Clemenza asks him to hide a stash of guns for him, and later, to repay the favor, takes him to a fancy apartment where they commit their first crime together, stealing an expensive rug.

Michael’s brother Fredo (John Cazale) receives a phone call from Johnny Ola in the middle of the night while sleeping. The conversation that takes place makes it clear that Fredo gave Roth’s men entry into the compound and then shot them, though Fredo was apparently unaware they would try to kill Michael.

Michael meets with Hyman Roth in his home near Miami and tells him that he believes Frank Pentangeli was responsible for the assassination attempt and that Pentangeli will pay for it. Traveling to his family’s former home in Brooklyn (which is now owned by Pentangeli), Michael lets Pentangeli know that Roth was actually behind it and that Michael has a plan to deal with Roth, but needs Frankie to cooperate with the Rosato Brothers in order to put Roth off guard. When Pentangeli goes to meet with the Rosatos, Rosatos men garrote him, but the attempted murder is accidentally interrupted by a policeman. It is later revealed that Roth orchestrated the whole thing.

In Nevada,Tom Hagen is called to a brothel run by Fredo, where a dazed Geary is implicated in the death of a prostitute. Tom offers to take care of the problem in return for “friendship” between the Senator and the Corleone Family. It is implied that the entire event was staged by the Corleone Family in order to gain leverage with Geary and force his cooperation.

Meanwhile, Michael meets Roth in Havana, Cuba at the time when dictator Fulgencio Batista is soliciting American investment, and guerrillas are trying to bring down the government.

Fredo, carrying the promised money, arrives in Havana and meets Michael. Michael confides to his brother that it was Roth who tried to kill him, and that he plans to try again. Michael assures Fredo that he has already made his move, and that “Hyman Roth will never see the New Year.”

Instead of turning over the money, Michael asks Roth who gave the order to have Frank Pentangeli killed. Roth avoids the question, instead speaking angrily of the murder of his old friend and ally Moe Greene, which Michael had orchestrated (as depicted at the end of the first film), saying, “I didn’t ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business!”.

Michael asks Fredo to show Geary and other important American officials and businessmen a good time, during which Fredo pretends to not know Johnny Ola. Later in the evening, however, Fredo drunkenly comments that he learned about the place from Johnny Ola, contradicting what he told Michael twice earlier, that he didn’t know Roth or Ola. Michael now realizes that the traitor in the Corleone Family is his own brother, and dispatches his bodyguard back to their hotel to kill Roth. There, Johnny Ola is strangled, but Roth, whose health is failing, is taken to a hospital before he can be assassinated. Michael’s bodyguard follows, but is shot by police while trying to smother Roth with a pillow.

At Batista’s New Year’s Eve party, at the stroke of midnight, Michael grasps Fredo tightly by the head and gives him the Kiss of Death, telling him “I know it was you Fredo; you broke my heart.” Batista announces he is stepping down due to unexpected gains by the rebels, and the guests flee as the guerrillas pour into the city. Michael appeals to his brother to join him in leaving the country, but Fredo runs away, frightened.

Michael returns to Las Vegas, where Hagen tells him that Roth escaped Cuba after suffering a stroke and is recovering in Miami. Hagen also informs Michael that Kay had a miscarriage while he was away.

In New York, in 1921, Don Fanucci is now aware of the partnership between Vito, Clemenza and Sal Tessio, and demands that they “wet his beak.” Clemenza and Tessio agree to pay, but Vito is reluctant and asks his friends to leave everything in his hands to convince Fanucci to accept less money, telling his friends “I make him an offer he don’t refuse.” Vito manages to get Fanucci to take only one sixth of what he had demanded. Immediately afterwards, during a neighborhood festa, Vito kills Fanucci and escapes via the rooftops of the tenement buildings.

Michael returns to his compound in Lake Tahoe, where he wanders the house in silent contemplation. In Washington, D.C., a Senate committee, of which Geary is a member, is conducting an investigation into the Corleone Family. They question disaffected “soldier” Willi Cicci, but he cannot implicate Michael because he never received any direct orders from him.

With Fanucci now gone, Vito earns the respect of the neighborhood and begins to intercede in local disputes, operating out of the storefront of his Genco Olive Oil Company, named after his good friend Genco Abbandando.
Michael Corleone (Al Pacin) appears before the United States Senate committee, with his wife Kay (Diane Keaton) in the background.When Michael appears before the committee, Geary makes a big show of supporting Italian-Americans and then excuses himself from the proceedings. Michael makes a statement challenging the committee to produce a witness to corroborate the charges against him. The hearing ends with the Chairman promising a witness who will do exactly that. Pentangeli has been kept at an army base all this time for his safety. He is upset when he learns that Michael did not assert the Fifth Amendment and Pentangeli will now have to appear at the hearing.

Tom Hagen and Michael discuss the problem. They have found out that Frank Pentangeli is the witness who will testify against him, and observe that Roth’s strategy to destroy Michael is well planned. Michael’s brother Fredo has been found and persuaded to return to Nevada, and in a private meeting he explains to Michael his betrayal: he is upset about being passed over to head the Family in favor of Michael, and wants to be treated with respect. He helped Roth, thinking there would be something in it for him, but he swears he didn’t know they wanted to kill Michael. He also tells Michael that the Senate Committee’s chief counsel is on Roth’s payroll. Michael then disowns Fredo and privately instructs Al Neri that nothing is to happen to Fredo while their mother is still alive; the understanding is that Fredo will be killed after her death.

Frank Pentangeli has made a deal with the FBI to testify against Michael, believing he was the one who organized the attempt on his life. At the hearing in which Pentangeli is to testify, Michael arrives accompanied by Pentangeli’s brother Vincenzo, brought in from Sicily. Upon seeing his brother, Frank Pentangeli recants his earlier statements, saying that he runs his own family, and claims that the Corleone family is innocent of any wrongdoing, thereby derailing the government’s case.

At a hotel room afterwards, Kay tries to leave Michael and take their children with her. Michael at first tries to mollify her, but, when she coldly reveals to him that her recent “miscarriage” was actually an abortion to avoid bringing another son into Michael’s criminal family, Michael explodes in anger and punches her in the face.

In 1925, Vito visits Sicily for the first time since leaving for America. He is introduced to the elderly Don Ciccio by Don Tommasino (who initially helped Vito escape to America) as the man who imports their olive oil to America, and who wants his blessing. When Ciccio asks Vito who his father was, Vito says, “My father’s name was Antonio Andolini, and this is for you!” He then stabs the old man to death. In the ensuing gun battle, Tommasino is shot in the legs, confining him to a wheelchair.

Carmella Corleone, Vito’s widow and the mother of his children, dies and the whole Corleone family reunites at the funeral. Michael is still shunning Fredo, who is miserable and depressed, but relents when Connie implores him to forgive his brother. Michael and Fredo embrace, but at the same time Michael signals to Neri that Fredo’s protection from harm, in effect while their mother lived, is now over.

Michael, Hagen, Neri, and Rocco Lampone discuss their final dealings with Roth, who has been unsuccessfully seeking asylum from various countries, and was even refused entry to Israel as a returning Jew. Michael rejects Hagen’s advice that the Corleone Family’s position is secure, and killing Roth and the Rosato brothers for revenge is an unnecessary risk. Later, Hagen pays a visit to Frank Pentangeli at the military base. Hagen talks about the honor of the Roman Empire, and Frank hints that if he were to commit suicide, he would like his family spared and taken care of. They agree on this and shake hands.

With the help of Connie, Kay visits her children, but cannot bear to leave them and stays too long. When Michael arrives, he closes the door in her face.

The film reaches its climax in a montage of assassinations and death:

  • As he arrives in Miami to be taken into custody, Hyman Roth is killed by Rocco Lampone disguised as a journalist. Lampone is immediately shot dead in turn, by FBI agents.
  • Frank Pentangeli is found dead in his bathtub, having followed Hagen’s instructions and committed suicide, slashing his wrists while taking a bath.
  • Finally, Fredo is murdered by Al Neri while they are fishing on Lake Tahoe, as Fredo is saying a Hail Mary to help catch a fish.

The penultimate scene takes place as a flashback to December 1941 as the Corleone family is preparing a surprise birthday party for Vito. Sonny introduces Carlo Rizzi, Connie’s future husband, to his family. Sal Tessio comes in with the cake, and they all talk about the recent attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Michael shocks everybody by announcing that he has dropped out of college and enlisted in the United States Marines. Sonny angrily ridicules Michael’s choice, while Tom Hagen mentions how his father has great expectations for Michael and has pulled a lot of strings to get him a draft deferment. Ironically, Fredo is the only one who supports his brother’s decision. When Vito arrives (offscreen), all but Michael leave to greet him.

After a final flashback depicting Vito and a young Michael leaving Corleone by train, the film ends with Michael sitting outside the Lake Tahoe compound, alone in contemplative silence.

REVIEW:

I was surprised with how much I actually liked The Godfather, so going into the second part of the trilogy, I had a slightly high expectations, but at the same time I didn’t want to set myself up for a flop.

The film follows two paths, a bit of a prologue/prequel that shows how Vito Corleone became the Godfather. Robert DeNiro shines as young Corleone. One has to wonder how much he studied Marlon Brando’s acting and mannerisms in order to play a younger version of him.

The other part of the film takes us through the current regime and their problems staying together under Michael’s leadership.

My main issue with this film is that it is 3 1/2 hours long. THat’s a personal issue of mine since I am not a fan of long movies, especially the ones that just seem to have filler. Having said that, the time pretty much flew by on this one, even faster than in the first film.

The real issue here is that with all the jumping around between the past and present takes its toll on the brain, especially when you’re trying to keep up with the story. Just as it seemed to be going somewhere, there was a jump to or from one time to another. Not to mention the total randomosity of the Senate hearing. I may have missed something somewhere, but that seemed to come out of nowhere.

The acting is what you come to expect from a film that has gone down in history and become a classic of cinema. These actors had talent and didn’t have to hide behind special effects and whatnot. This is what makes classic films so good, actors that can actually act. What a concept, right?

Often referred to as the greatest sequel ever, The Godfather, part II lives up to the hype. Granted, it does fall slightly below its predecessor, but that is to be expected, and its a slight drop off, mainly due to the loss of Marlon Brando. With an intriguing, intertwining way of telling the story in the present and giving us the history of Don Vito Corleone, this film delivers. It is definitely worth the viewing, if only it wasn’t so long!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Spanglish

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , on November 22, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Flor Moreno (Paz Vega), a poor, Mexican, single mother gets hired as the housekeeper for John (Adam Sandler) and Deborah Clasky (Téa Leoni), their kids, Bernice (Sarah Steele) and Georgie (Ian Hyland), and Deborah’s mother Evelyn Wright (Cloris Leachman), a rich, white American family. Flor’s daughter, Cristina is played by Shelbie Bruce. Flor, Cristina, and John are very likeable while Deborah is mean, self-centered, and apathetic to her daughter. Evelyn is a carefree drunk.

Flor doesn’t speak English so Cristina translates for her when she needs to talk to the family. Bilingual, skinnier, and overall kind, Cristina impresses Deborah, whom she begins to treat like her own daughter, taking Cristina shopping, getting her hair done, enrolling her in a private school, and showing her more love than her own daughter.

Flor becomes unhappy when it appears that Cristina is influenced by Deborah. This is in part because she wants Cristina to keep in touch with her roots, and partly because Deborah is overstepping her bounds by acting like Cristina’s mother. Flor objects to the family’s overreaching with Cristina to which John is apologetic.

Flor learns English so she can communicate with them better wherein John and Flor talk more and become closer.

When Evelyn realizes that her daughter is having an affair and that her marriage is in trouble, she sobers up and tells Deborah to knock it off because she’ll never get another man as good as John. As Flor heads to their house, Deborah confesses to John that she cheated on him. John walks out, and runs into Flor on the way and they go to his restaurant to “hang out”. They have the “greatest conversation of their lives” and confess their love for one another, but Flor leaves and John never mentions that Deborah cheated on him.

Flor quits and takes her daughter home. She tells Cristina that she doesn’t want her to go to the private school anymore either, upsetting Cristina and causing her to scream that Flor is ruining her life. Flor tells Cristina that it is time for her to decide the most important question of her life: “Is what you want for yourself to become something very different than me?”. Cristina doesn’t respond and on their bus ride home she initially sits away from Flor, but ends up embracing her for the duration of their ride.

The film ends with Cristina as an adult, years later, acknowledging that “all she is today” rests on the simple fact that she is her mother’s daughter.

REVIEW:

Adam Sandler films tend to be more on the slapstick side of comedy, and not so much on the more serious side of things, yet Spanglish, starts out as a light hearted happy film, but ends up a borderline chick flick.

The film’s plot centers around a Mexican immigrant (we’ll say she is) who can’t speak English and becomes the nanny for a well to do chef and his obnoxious, talkative wife. As the film progresses, we get to know more about each of the characters, as they are extremely well developed. We get a conflict based in infidelity, but are left with an ending that feels a bit empty.

Storywise, this is a very strong film, capable of hanging with the “artsy-fartsty” films, but because of it being a comedy, it doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

Adam Sandler turns in a mature performance, yet maintains a bit of his “Sandler-ness”. I was mostly impressed with how he handled his character’s conflict over becoming a 4-star chef and wanting to avoid shunning the little people. He also impressed me with how he portrayed the emotions dealing with his wife cheating on him and the feeling he has for the nanny.

Paz Vega had quite the introduction to US audiences with this film, even if she does look like Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz. I’m not sure, but I think she took a page out of Antonio Banderas’ book, and didn’t learn English until she got an American film role. Having said that, it is quite possible that the scenes in which we see her learning English were genuine. If that is the case, then her performance is that more impressive.

Tea Leoni started out as a decent character, but as the film progressed, she took a downturn. What kind of woman bosses her husband around, cheats on him, more or less calls her daughter fat, basically steals her nanny’s daughter, and just makes everything about her? Then when she thinks that Sandler runs into the arms of Vega, she gets all emotional about it, knowing full well that she had been cheating on him for 11 weeks. Stuff like that can earn you a spot on the most despised list.

The word “spanglish” wasn’t an everyday word, I believe, until this film was released. I cannot belive that with the cultural impact this picture has had that it didn’t do that well. I guess now that I think about it, I can. There are more than a few films that bombed at the box office on;y to go on and become cult hits on video or DVD.

Spanglish is one of those films that dances  a fine line between comedy and drama, occasionally tipping over to one side or the other, but never getting to the point of over-seriousness, even in the serious parts. This really surprised me, because I didn’t know what to expect from it. Pleasant surprises are always good, and I hope that after watching this you’ll be as pleasantly surprised and entertained as I was.

4 out of 5 stars

Star Trek

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the year 2233, the Federation starship USS Kelvin is investigating a lightning storm when a massive ship, the Narada, emerges from within the storm and attacks the Kelvin. The Narada’s captain, Nero, orders the Kelvin to stand down and bring its captain aboard. The captain appoints George Kirk as acting captain and departs. On board the Narada, Nero kills the captain after questioning if he knows an Ambassador Spock and getting no reply. Nero orders the Kelvin to be destroyed while Kirk orders everyone to evacuate as he stays behind to provide cover. One of the escape shuttlecraft carries his pregnant wife and seconds before the Kelvin collides with the Narada, she gives birth to a boy while George listens over the comm. They decide to name the baby James. The Kelvin collides with the Narada, killing George, while the shuttlecrafts escape.

Several years later, a young Vulcan named Spock grows up on planet Vulcan and is discriminated against because of his half-human heritage, which leads him to join Starfleet. On Earth, James Tiberius Kirk grows up to be an intelligent, though reckless and cynical, young man. After a run-in at a local bar, Captain Christopher Pike challenges Kirk to emulate his father’s heroism and convinces him to join Starfleet. En route to Starfleet Academy, Kirk befriends fellow cadet Leonard McCoy.

Three years later, Starfleet receives a distress signal from Vulcan that indicates the appearance of a lightning storm in space, and with the primary fleet engaged in an operation, the cadets are mobilized to help crew the ships in orbit. McCoy smuggles Kirk aboard the USS Enterprise. Kirk recognizes the similarities between this mission and the encounter that destroyed the Kelvin, and warns Pike that the fleet is heading into a trap. The Enterprise arrives at Vulcan to find the fleet destroyed and the Narada drilling into the planet’s core. The Narada attacks the Enterprise and Nero orders Pike to surrender himself. Pike agrees, promoting Spock to captain and Kirk to first officer. En route to the Narada, Kirk and Hikaru Sulu perform an orbital skydive onto the drilling platform and destroy it. Nero launches red matter into the planet’s core, imploding the planet into a black hole. Spock rescues some of the planet’s elders, but his mother dies along with the majority of the planet’s population. Nero sets course for Earth and tortures Pike for the command codes to its perimeter defenses.

After a heated argument about Spock ordering to rendezvous with the rest of the fleet, Kirk is marooned on Delta Vega for mutiny. On Delta Vega, Kirk encounters Ambassador Spock, who tells Kirk he is from the future and to save time, relays the future’s events through a mind meld. In the year 2387, the galaxy is threatened by a massive supernova. Ambassador Spock pilots a ship carrying red matter, which will create an artificial black hole to consume the supernova. Before Spock completes his mission, the supernova destroys the planet Romulus. Captain Nero attempts to exact revenge on Spock, whom he blames for the destruction of his homeworld, and his family. Both ships, however, are pulled into the black hole’s event horizon and travel into the past. The Narada arrives first and Spock arrives 25 years later, where he is captured by Nero and marooned on Delta Vega so that he can witness the destruction of Vulcan. Ambassador Spock insists that Kirk must become captain of the Enterprise and the two travel on foot to a nearby Starfleet outpost. There, they meet Montgomery Scott. Ambassador Spock beams Kirk and Scott aboard the Enterprise while he stays on the planet. Once aboard, Kirk deliberately enrages Commander Spock to force him to acknowledge that he is emotionally compromised, thereby forfeiting command to Kirk.

Spock, Scott, and Pavel Chekov devise a plan to ambush the Narada by hiding behind Saturn’s moon, Titan. Once there, Kirk and Spock beam aboard the Narada. Kirk rescues Pike while Spock retakes Ambassador Spock’s ship, destroys the drill, and lures the Narada away from Earth before piloting a collision course. The Enterprise arrives and beams Kirk, Pike, and Spock away before the collision, which ignites the remaining red matter and creates a black hole within the Narada. Kirk offers to rescue Nero and his crew, but he refuses and the Narada is destroyed. The Enterprise escapes the same fate by ejecting and then igniting the ship’s warp drive, with the resulting explosion pushing them clear.

Back on Earth, Kirk is promoted to captain of the Enterprise. Soon after, Spock, while searching for his father, encounters his older self in a hangar. Ambassador Spock is departing to help establish a new colony with the remaining Vulcans. The younger Spock informs his older self of his wishes to leave Starfleet to aid his people. Ambassador Spock tells his younger self that he and Kirk need each other and that he should do what feels right. Taking his advice, Spock remains in Starfleet, becoming first officer under Kirk’s command. Leonard Nimoy narrates the Star Trek tagline to close the film.

REVIEW:

Star Trek has been entertaining nerds…er…fanboys…er…individuals for 30+ years. In that span, there have been at least 4 different series and 9 (not counting this one) films. Since I’m not a “Trekkie”, i’m not up in the Star Trek history and whatnot, but I know the basics. This film takes those facts and reintroduces them to new fans and a new generation.

I will never be a Star Trek fan, it just isn’t in my nature, and I’d be betraying Star Wars, but this film was done so well, that italmsot is good enough to convert me. I like how they sring in a new history with all the characters, while leaving the original history alone in a seperate universe, and tie it all together with the use of time travel and Leonard Nimoy. I have respect for these filmmakers for finding a way to keep the old school, die hard fans happy, as well as appeal to the new ones and the mainstram move goers.

Chris Pine steps into the role of James T. Kirk and without blinking, makes it his own. I was expecting some sort of bad Willima Shatner impression or something along those lines, but instead, Pine makes the character his own, capitalizing on the rebeliousness, maybe a bit too much.

Zachary Quinto seems like he was born to play Spock. It is especially weird to see his as a hero when he is best known for beign the villainous Sylar on Heroes, but here he is. In a manner similar to Kirk, Spock is a bit of a rebel, but he is more subdues,and like the original, more logicval and into the facts. Whereas Pine didn’t really show much of Shatner’s influence in his character, Quinto obviously did his homeowrk on Nimoy’s portrayal. He may have even consulted him, since they were on set at the same time.

Eric Bana is almost unrecognizable as the viallanous, twisted Nero, a Romulan who has managed to travel through space and time to get his revenge on Spock. Bana’s performance is pretty good, but it is his ship and the other toys that he uses or commands be used that really captivate the audience, such as the drill that doesn’t allow for communication or beaming up.

Speaking of beaming up, it was good that they included that in here, as well as the “redshirt” getting killed, and some classic lines from the original series, albeit paraphrased, we got the picture.

My issue with the film is that the only space fight part of it was at the beginning, the rest of it seemed to be more about the growth and drama. Since this is an origin flick, that isn’t too badm but if there is a sequel, that stuff needs to be pushed by the wayside in favor of more space scenes.

Another issue I have is that the on;y character that seemed ot have any life was Quinto’s Spock. Pine’s Shatner seemed to be nothing more than a frat boy with a brain who somehow gets to be captain of the ship. Urban’s McCoy is paranoid and schizophrenic. Zoe Saldana is used less in this film, than Nichelle Nichols was in the show. In other words, character development was a problem, but that’s just me being a bit on the nitpicky side.

The Enterprise looked really good. I was impressed. They were saying it was a brand new ship, and the way the sets looked, they had us believing that, rather than some sort of Hollywood sound stage.

Fans of the original series were skeptical about this when it was initially announced, Some even detracted and protested it, but as soon as it was released they soon changed their tune. For me, I’m not one to celebrate remaking anything. I believe Hollywood should come with their own ideas, but this film was so good that you forget about the original series, at least if you’re like me and have on;y seen 1 or 2 episodes of it. Star Trek should be a must see for you, so go see it!

4 out of 5 stars 

Who’s Your Caddy?

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

When “street smart” rapper Christopher “C-Note” Hawkins (Big Boi) applies for a membership to all-white Carolina Pines Country Club, the establishment’s proprietors are hardly ready to oblige him. Unwilling to accept that the club views him as unfit for membership, C-Note purchases land that contains the 17th green – willing only to exchange the hole for a membership. This sets the stage for an outrageous assault on the country club and its membership committee as C-Note and his fun-loving, streetwise crew disrupt the goings-on at the club with their irreverent attitudes and a back-and-forth prank fest.

At one point, C-Note plans to shoot a music video on the club’s land. That leads the Club President, Cummings (Jeffrey Jones), to offer a bribe to get him to stop, but all C-Note wants is a membership to the club. President Cummings then hires Shannon Williams (Tamala Jones), an uptight lawyer who graduated Harvard at the top of her class. She goes to Christopher’s house, he refuses yet another attempt to bribe him to leave.

As a last resort, she devises a plan to allow him to join the club then to record him violating the club’s bylaws to kick him out while he is on the club’s 4 week probationary period. On separate occasions, he is accused of landing a helicopter on the property, bringing a gun onto the golf course and driving recklessly on the way to the golf course. Eventually, all the charges are proven wrong and C-Note is officially made a member of the Carolina Pines Country Club.

The film progresses with Cummings hiring Big Willie Johnson (Tony Cox) to kill C-Note. Eventually Cummings challenges C-Note and Mick to an 18 hole match of golf, and C-Note accepts. On the day of the match, C-Note is surprised to see that Cummings hired and flew in professional golfer and 5-time PGA Tour winner Jesper Parnevik (who plays himself) to play on his team. After 9 holes, Parnevik and Cummings are up four holes, but after a pep-talk by Caddy Mack, they are able to rally on the back 9, and win by C-Note holing his second shot on the 17th hole from 230 yards over water with his driver. Soon after, Cummings is arrested for conspiracy to murder, and C-Note is named owner of Carolina Pines Golf and Polo Club.

REVIEW:

Quite honestly, there isn’t much to this film. It is your typical low-budget flick about an African-American who wants to stick it to the white man and the differences in their cultures. ITs been done many times before. The only difference this time is the golf. Since I’m not the biggest fan of golf, I can’t really comment on this, other than to say that when Big Boi was putting, it looked more like he was trying to play baseball, rather than golf. This film is so predictable that is loses what little bit of entertainment value it has. Having said that, there are a few funny moments, bit not enough to waste your time with this film. Who’s Your Caddy? is so bad, that it truly is bad. If not for a few good acting performances, this would go down as one of the worst films of all time.

2 out of 5 stars