Archive for December, 2009

The Music Man (2003)

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Professor Harold Hill, a con artist who makes a living by selling instruments and uniforms to aspiring musicians he fails to teach once they are delivered, sets his sights on the naive citizens of River City, Iowa as his latest targets. With the assistance of former sidekick Marcellus Washburn, who now is living in the rural town, Harold convinces the residents their only hope of saving their sons from the corruption of the local pool hall is to allow him to create a marching band and help them develop their musical talents.

Suspicious of Harold’s claim that he has a musical degree from the “Gary Conservatory of Music,” prim and proper town librarian and piano teacher Marian Paroo begins to investigate his background, much to the dismay of her mother, who hopes by participating in the band, Marian’s younger brother Wintrop will overcome the shyness he suffers as the result of a pronounced lisp. Marian tries to enlist the aid of Mayor Shinn, whose wife Eulalie and her friends always have looked askance at Marian due to her relationship with a man who left the library building to the town but all its contents to Marian. Mayor Shinn appoints four city councilmen to look into Harold’s past, but they fall under his spell when he encourages them to emulate a barbershop quartet and never quite manage to see his alleged credentials. By the time Marian uncovers the truth about Harold, she has fallen in love with the shyster and he in turn – much to his surprise – feels the same way about her.

REVIEW:

When this film first aired on television a few years back, I wasn’t a huge musical fan and had yet to see the original version, so my opinion of it was totally different from the one that I hold today, now that I’ve been a bit more educated.

The Music Man remains one of my favorite musicals…partially because I’m a music person, myself. As I’ve stated in many entries before, I am no fan fo remakes. However, there are always exceptions, and this is one of those cases.

The film doesn’t try to reimagine anything,which is good,  but rather it updates the cast. The script is the same, but that is based more on the fact that it comes from the original musical.

On the negative side of things, there is just something missing from this one that the original is not lacking. Don’t get me wrong, I throughly enjoyed it and all, but that magical feeling you get inside when you watch the 1962 version, just isn’t there with this one. It was kind of like they tried so hard to either not besmirch and insult the original or wanted to make it their own that they fogot to capture the audience. Unfortunately, that is the major downfall.

Musically speaking, the songs are same as the original, with a few little tweaks here and there, that only those with an ear for them will be able to pick up. They did extend a couple of the songs in order to incorporate some elaborate dance sequences. I’m not sure if those were in the stage production, but they just didn’t seem to fit.

The cast is pretty good. Matthew Broderick had the most pressure on him, filling in the shoes of Robert Preston. For the most part, he does a good job, but, like the film, he just doesn’t hit a home run. It’s more like a pop fly. Had I not seen Preston’s performance, though, I may have thought otherwise.

On the other side of the coin, Kristin Chenoweth eclipses Shirley Jones’ Mariann vocally, but Jones has her in the acting dept. Chenoweth comes off a bit too cold for my taste, but I can look past that due to the silhouette that these period clothes showed of her.

I’ve always thought of Victor Garber as one of those distinguished type of actors, so seeing him as the scatterbrained mayor, just didn’t quite work for me.

Molly Shannon seemed a bit wasted as Mrs. Shinn. Not that she did a bad job ir is a bad actress, but for the small amount of time she’s on screen they could have pulled someone off the street and pretty much gotten the same results…and for a lot less money.

As much as I like this film, I don’t love it, mostly due to my affection for the original. Many people who have seen both will agree, which is unfortunate, because this really is a great film, it just pales in comparison (and will always be compared to) the original. My recommendation is to watch them both, but make sure you put some space in between them, so that you’re not comparing one to the other, then make your own opinion, For me, this is worth watching, but if you’re looking to add one to your collection, go with the original.

4 out of 5 stars

3D…is it really worth the hype?

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2009 by Mystery Man

Remember the days when you could go to movie and the previews wouldn’t all be for movies coming in 3D? Those days weren’t that long ago. As a matter of fact, I think they were earlier this year. Somewhere along the line, the world of movies changed and now theaters, who already charge an arm and leg for everything from the tickets to just looking at the place, are looking for more ways to make money, so they charge the extra $1.50 for what equates to the rental of some sunglasses. The bad part of this is that you can’t keep the glasses…theoretically. Even if you did for the next time you go to a 3D film, you’d still have to pay the extra $$$. Man, we are so money obsessed in this world these days! Greed has taken control of filmmakers senses, rather than making good movies. This goes along the same line as remakes, in my book.

Check out these posts…

http://my.spill.com/profiles/blog/show?id=947994:BlogPost:1842854

http://my.spill.com/profiles/blogs/disneys-the-princess-and-the

Both of which touch on the topic of making why Disney should/should not have released The Princess and the Frog in 3D. That’s right….a movie that was hyped as proof that they could still make a good 2D animated feature is now probably going to be given the “magic touch” of 3D.

So, what is so special about 3D? Nothing really. You put on a pair of dark glasses in a theater only to see stuff jump out of the screen at you. At least, that’s what idea is supposed to be. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen 99.9% of the time.

Take for instance,   the winter’s big hit, Avatar. Sure, it is visually striking, but I really didn’t get my extra $1.50 worth. When I go see a 3D picture, I expect them to take advantage of the technology.

Seriously, with all the films that have come out in 3D lately, none have really done that, except for 2 (keep in mind that there are many films that were in 3D I didn’t see in theaters). My Bloody Valentine, if the trailer is like the film, really showcased what you can do with this stuff, but when it comes to 3D, none have done it better than  Beowulf.

Yes, Beowulf is the gold standard by which 3D should be measured. It is the ony 3D film that has lived up to the hype and delivered anything close to what was advertised. When I was sitting in the theater, I actually felt like the creatures were going to get me, the blood was going to splatter on me, and that I was really there. This is what you should feel when you see a film in 3D. You expect to see that 3rd dimension.

So, is 3D worth all the hype it is suddenly getting? From what I’ve seen, no. They seem to be making regular films using 3D film and slapping “in 3D” on the advertisements, just so they can charge even more for the already outrageously overpriced tickets.

Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about this. It’s kind of like reality TV…as much as we hate it, we have no choice but to, at the very least, deal with it. Will I be going to more 3D films? *SIGH* I’d love to say no, but chances are I will, just to see if they can indeed live up to the hype, but I will always consider the 2D alternative.

You know what would have been good in 3D? Speed Racernevermind…that thing gave people seizures as is, probably would have been even worse in 3D…lol

10 Things I Hate About You

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on December 30, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Cameron James, a new student at Padua High School, is given a tour of the school by Michael Eckman, who is an AV geek and former leader of a clique of future MBAs. Michael provides Cameron with information on the school’s various cliques. During the tour, Cameron spots the beautiful and popular Bianca Stratford and is immediately smitten with her. Michael warns that Bianca is shallow, conceited, and worst of all, not allowed to date. Michael does, however, inform Cameron that Bianca is looking for a French tutor.

At the Stratford residence, Bianca’s outcast older sister Kat receives a letter of acceptance to Sarah Lawrence College. Her protective father, Walter, is distraught by the news, as he wants Kat to attend college nearby. Kat distracts her father by revealing that Bianca was given a ride home from school by Joey Donner. Bianca begs her father to allow her to date, but to no avail. Kat’s aversion to dating prompts the father to come up with a new rule: Bianca can only date if Kat is dating.

Cameron starts tutoring Bianca, and she informs him of her father’s rule after Cameron makes many failed attempts to ask her out. This news motivates Cameron and Michael to set out to find a boy who is willing to date Kat.

Cameron suggests Patrick Verona, an outcast who is just as ill-tempered as Kat. Cameron tries asking Patrick for his assistance, but Patrick scares him off. Michael then poses the idea to Joey, also attempting to date Bianca, to pay Patrick to take Kat out. Patrick agrees, but Kat, however, wants nothing to do with Patrick. Cameron and Michael finally explain their situation to Patrick and inform him that Bogie Lowenstein is throwing a party (this is actually a plot by Michael to get revenge, as a rumor from Bogie had got him kicked out of their clique). Cameron and Michael spread rumors around school that Bogie’s party will have free beer and dancing, although it is actually a small private gathering.

At the party, Kat tells Joey to stay away from her sister. Joey brags that he cannot guarantee she’ll stay away from him. Kat gets upset and begins drinking, leading her to dance drunkenly on a table. Meanwhile, Cameron discovers that Bianca was using him to find a date for Kat so that Bianca could date Joey.

Cameron decides to stop trying to date Bianca, but Patrick convinces him to go for it. Bianca asks Cameron for a ride home after discovering Joey’s true character. Cameron drops her off and tells her that he really likes her and was very disappointed in her. At that point Bianca kisses Cameron. Patrick brings Kat home, and she drunkenly tries kissing Patrick. He suggests they should do that some other time, hurting Kat’s feelings.

The next day at school, Patrick publicly sings “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” (with the school’s marching band providing backing music) to Kat in front of everyone asking her forgiveness, landing him in detention. Kat gets him out of detention by “flashing” the soccer coach. Kat and Patrick spend the day together, and they both realize that they truly do like each other. Patrick, motivated by Joey’s bribe of $300, asks Kat to the prom. However, she is suspicious of his motives and they get into a fight.

Bianca tries to convince her father to let her go to the prom, but he refuses, since Kat isn’t going. Bianca confronts Kat. Kat then reveals that she dated Joey and they had sex, mostly because everyone else was doing it. However, when Kat told Joey that she wasn’t ready for sex and did not want to do it again, he immediately broke up with her. Even though she forbade Joey to tell anyone of their one time together or else she would tell all the cheerleaders how “tiny” he is, Kat still felt immense rejection, thus spurring her to not do anything ever again just because everyone else was doing it and distanced herself from her peers.

Bianca and Kat end up going to the prom with Cameron and Patrick, respectively. Joey is furious to learn that Bianca has gone to prom with Cameron, and confronts Patrick about the “arrangement” in front of Kat. Kat blows up at Patrick and leaves. Joey subsequently confronts Cameron about manipulating the ‘deal’ for himself, but after he punches Cameron, Bianca hits Joey three times herself (once for “making [her] date bleed”, once for her sister, and once for her), leaving him curled up in pain on the floor with a broken nose and a black eye.

The next morning, Bianca thanks Kat for going to prom and the sisters make up. Kat’s father allows her to go to Sarah Lawrence. At school, Kat reads a poem which she wrote for English class, titled “10 Things I Hate About You” (although it contains 14 things she hates about Patrick). While reading the poem, she reveals (in front of the entire class) how hurt she was by what Patrick did and how much she really cares about him (“But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all”). Patrick is shown to be touched by her revelation. In the parking lot, Kat finds a guitar Patrick bought her with the money Joey paid him, and he admits that he messed up their deal by falling for her. Kat forgives Patrick and the two kiss and make up.

REVIEW:

10 Things I Hate About You may very well be remembered as the film that introduced us to Julia Stiles and the late Heath Ledger (although, I think The Patriot brought us the latter). As much of a factor in this film’s legacy that is, the fact that this is actually an enjoyable film full on 90s goodness should be more the selling point.

The film is loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. At one point, Ledger even refers to Stiles as “the Shrew”, sort of as a nod to the source material. I’ll admit that I’ve never read the play, like more than a few of you out there, but that doesn’t make this film any less enjoyable.

One of the best things about this picture is that, while it could very well have taken a cop-out, and become this sappy, weepy, chick flick romantic comedy, it decides to keep things light and go for the generic romantic comedy angle that will appeal to men and women, although it is geared more towards females.

Seeing how far Ledger has come from this to his last roles is nothing short of remarkable, but that is not to say that he wasn’t a star back then. As Patrick Vernon, he shines with his mysterious Australian bad-boy charm.

Julia Stiles seems right at home playing the hard-nosed “shrew” , Kat. Many of her roles are like thins and makes me wonder if she’s like this in real life.

Larisa Oleynik and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have some good chemistry that culminates at the end. I would have liked for them to have been on screen more, but this film is obviously more about Kat and Patrick.

One of the most memorable moments of the picture has to be Ledger’s rendition of “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”, complete with marching band accompaniment. I found myself singing along with him. I do have to wonder what kind of freak high school these people went to. That place look like it was about the size of Hogwarts, and where in the world do the soccer team, boys P.E. class, and band all practice on the same field at the same time? Just an observation, not a complaint.

Do I have anything negative to say about this? Well,the minor characters, like Kat’s friend who is a die-hard Shakespeare nut, Bianca’s friend (played by then unknown Gabrielle Union), turns out to be a bitch, and the guidance counselor could have done with a bit more fleshing out if they were going to get the amount of time they did receive, but that’s just me.

Can you belive this picture is 10 years old? Wow! Where does the time go? When this film came out, the girl I was dating at the time, would get all a twitter whenever she would see Heath Ledger, as I’m sure many females (and some males) did. The sad part is, there really is no eye candy going on for the guys. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few pretty faces and whatnot, but they’re not in the lead and/or on-screen long enough. THat tidbit aside, this is a really great film and worth multiple viewings.

5 out of 5 stars

I Love You, Beth Cooper

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

PLOT:

The film starts with high school valedictorian Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) stating to the entire gymnasium that he’s had a crush on cheerleader Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) for six years. During the speech, he singles out the class bully, a pretty but shallow party girl and two girls with eating disorders, and takes a verbal swipe at Beth’s boyfriend Kevin and tells his movie-quoting best friend Rich (Jack Carpenter) to admit that he’s gay. Denis’ speech upsets everyone except Beth, who thinks it was “sweet,” giving Denis the courage to invite her to a party at his house that night. Beth’s boyfriend, military trained Kevin (Shawn Roberts), is angry at Denis for calling him an “over-aged loser who keeps company with high school girls because he can’t get a date with a girl his own age.”

After his declaration, Denis’ mother (Cynthia Stevenson) and father (Alan Ruck, from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) leave him and Rich alone at the house for their party, which no one attends, as they are social outcasts. Beth shows up in her tiny blue car with her friends Cammy (Lauren London) and Treece (Lauren Storm) at Denis’ house that evening. Kevin shows up with his army buddies and Denis and Rich are assaulted. Beth and Treece help Denis and Rich get away.

Beth is meant to be a dream girl, but has one glaring imperfection that shatters Denis’ fantasy. A turning point in the film comes right after the group gets away from Denis’ house. Denis and Beth go into a liquor store to buy beer, but the clerk (Samm Levine) refuses to sell the beer. Beth offers to “kiss you so hard,everytime you think about it, you’ll have to change your underwear.” The kiss is not shown, but Denis is disillusioned by her actions: “She’s not Beth Cooper.” In the novel, it’s slightly different; she offers to touch the clerk’s penis.

Eventually, the group heads back to the high school where Beth, Cammy, and Treece show off their cheerleading act. Denis notices that Beth has a tear in her eye. After the act, the girls head to the showers and Denis follows. Denis passively walks into the girls’ locker room and sees the girls changing. Knowing that Denis is looking, Beth smiles at him, drops her towel and shows off her bare back. Beth tries to get Denis and Rich in the showers with them when Kevin arrives. Rich stays back to fight off Kevin and his crew while the others escape. After escaping, Beth reveals to Denis that she only came to his party because it would be “funny”, leaving Denis disappointed. Denis gets a nose bleed and Treece, as a joke, gives him tampons to stop the bleeding, which is referenced to movie, She’s the Man. The next shot shows Denis with two tampons up his nose. Next, Beth tells Denis his shirt smells and forces him to take it off. Beth takes his shirt and holds it out the window to “air it off”; then the shirt flies out the window. They stop the car and Denis, in his underwear, goes to find his shirt. They all start laughing so Beth then gives him her poncho to wear. They both go out looking for the shirt. They find the shirt in a pile of mud where they encounter a raccoon. The raccoon tries to eat the shirt so they try to grab it when the raccoon yells and scares them both and they run back to the car.

The gang arrives at Treece’s fathers cabin where they all share a drink. Beth asks if anyone wants to go with her to see the sun rise, and Denis happily agrees. As they walk on the beach they talk about her brother, who died. Back at the cabin Cammy and Treece imply that Rich is gay. He continues to deny he is. So they decided to test him. Cammy grabs a condom and she and Treece take Rich into the back room to have sex, where it is revealed that he isn’t gay and they all share what they plan to do once the summer’s over. As the sun rises Beth and Denis talk about their plans after summer, and then share a kiss. The next shot shows Denis’ parents on the lawn discussing the damaged kitchen, when Beth’s car pulls up.

His parents realize they have seen the car before, then Denis exits. They ask what happened to him, and he replies only by saying that he’s fine. His mother, surprised about the mishap, chooses not to discuss it. She then says “I’m going to make pancakes, if she hasn’t made them already”, assuming Beth and Denis had sex. Next, Denis and his father have a father-son moment. His father implies that he will have to be punished, to which Denis replies, “Whatever that punishment is, it was all worth it.” Before going inside, Beth thanks Denis for loving her and they share another kiss. The girls depart, and before they enter the house, Rich reveals to Denis that he’s gay or might be bisexual. When Denis and Rich go through the door, Rich says that they will need rope and ducktape to kidnap Beth for Denis’ next step with Beth.

REVIEW:

Remember when teen comedies were all about two things…raunch and comedy? Well, these days, they have all but abandoned the raunch and try as they may, aren’t funny. Take I Love You, Beth Cooper for instance. The picture starts out pretty good, but then fizzles on the comedy side. Thankfully, it doesn’t get all drama-laden, but the jokes and gags and whatnot, while a valiant effort, just aren’t executed to a level high enough to make them worthwhile.

This film is based ona book. I’ve never heard or read it, but from those that have, this was pretty much a slap in the face to the fans. I’d have to read the book to tell you why, though, and if this outrage is warranted.

It is good to see Hayden Panettiere doing things on the big screen and away from Heroes, though, I do wonder if she can play anything but a cheerleader.

Lauren London is a little wasted here. She seems as if she’s on the verge of breaking out in Hollywood, but these minor roles where she’s doesn’t even get noticed, aren’t going to her career any good. Having said that, she and Lauren Storm do a good job as the bitchy/horny best friends…typical of a cheerleader, right?

The army guys really take the cake. Not because they are the best actors or anything like that, but rather they seem like the typical cyborg army guys. What’s even better is that they sell the roid rage, doped up part of their characters, and even act like they’re in battle or something. I was half expecting them to pull out some guns at some point.

Newcomer Paul Rust isn’t bad as the lovable loser. To me, he was like a mix of Zack Braff and Jason Biggs (and all the characters, they’ve played). This guy couldn’t seem to catch a break, though. Everything he did seemed to end up wrong.

In high school, I did pine over this girl for most of my 4 years, but I at least talked to her. I never wasted time by not talking to her, and even if I hadn’t, I doubt I would hav had the balls to get up in front of all the friends and family and declare my love for her. It is that part of the plot that makes this film interesting and cute. Not to mention sets up a nice little string of events that last the length of the film.

I Love You, Beth Cooper  isn’t going to win any awards, but it is a cute little film. Should it go on your list of films that you must see before you die? No, but it is one of those good date flicks, what with it being a romantic comedy and all. There are things that could have been done better and things that could have been done worse. My suggestion is that it is worth a viewing, but you don’t necessarily have to go out of your way to watch it, unless you’re a huge Hayden Panettiere fan.

3 out of 5 stars

Boat Trip

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on December 26, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jerry (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Nick (Horatio Sanz) are two best buddies whose love lives have hit rock bottom. For Jerry, he vomited all over his uptight, pretentious girlfriend Felicia on a hot air balloon trip prior to proposing to her. For Nick, he has trouble meeting women because he may do (or say) something weird that scares them away.

After running into a friend who has married a beautiful girl way above him, the pair tries to escape their troubles and do the same by booking a trip on board a cruise ship, after learning that the friend had met his wife on a singles’ cruise, with a female-to-male ratio favoring men. On the way to the travel agency, they have an encounter in the parking lot with a (unknown to them) gay man (Artie Lange). Nick and Jerry walk into the agency, realizing that the man works at the agency, and resume the argument from outside. The manager (Will Ferrell) apologizes for the exchange and books their cruise personally. However, Nick and Jerry are unaware that the travel agency manager has just played a horrid trick on them in retaliation for Nick offending what appears to be his lover after they leave.

Though the cruise ship they’re to board has a large banner on the gangplank proudly proclaiming its service to the gay community, Nick and Jerry somehow miss it. After the ship leaves the dock, it becomes apparent that the ship is full of homosexual men. They both find a new best friend in Hector (Maurice Godin), who is a proud gay man that later teaches them that gay people aren’t what they think. In an attempt to leave the ship, Nick fires a flare gun into the air, hoping to flag down a passing helicopter. The flare ends up hitting the chopper, causing it to crash into the sea. The next day, the passengers of the helicopter, a Swedish bikini model team and their blonde, misandristic, sex-crazed coach Sonya (Lin Shaye), are rescued from their lifeboat by the cruise ship. Sonya catches Nick rubbing sun tan lotion one of her girls, Inga (Victoria Silvstedt) and she attacks Nick, immediately letting him know that she does not like him. Sonya’s hatred towards Nick changes after an accidental affair, Sonya falls in love with Nick and becomes obsessed with him and wants to be his girlfriend. She confronts him trying to convince him to let her perform oral sex on him as her way of saying “thank-you”. She tries to demonstrate with a baseball bat but Nick finds it both disgusting and interesting, and he runs off.

Jerry tries to make the best of the situation by pursuing Gabriella (Roselyn Sanchez), the lovely straight dance instructor after she saves him from drowning in the pool until trouble boards ship in the shape of his spoiled ex-girlfriend Felicia (Vivica A. Fox) who wants him back.

Though Nick is making progress with one of the bikini teammates, he also learns more about himself on the trip. He finds that he enjoys being in the company of the gay men who are becoming his friends, after learning that they’re not much different from straight men. After waking up with one of them in the same bed, Nick, believing he may have had sex with him, thinks maybe he could be a latent homosexual. Nick says goodbye to Inga. Inga is last seen riding off on donkies with her team and horny coach who is gaining sexual pleasure from the animal. Nick’s theory is dismissed when the man tells him nothing happened and he continues in his pursuits of the Swedish blonde.

Then, Jerry’s former girlfriend finds his cruise ship and intends to reunite. She sees him performing in drag. He tries to convince her he’s straight, but, at the same time, betrays Gabriella. Felicia and Jerry then go to get married and Nick kisses Jerry at the “forever hold your peace” moment and they run off to find Gabriella with Hector. Lloyd (Roger Moore) and Jerry then parachute down to the ship that Gabriella is on and they reunite and admit their love for each other and they kiss. Then Nick goes to Gettzemüllersteigen, Sweden, to find Inga, however she is in Italy for a three month modelling assignment. However, Inga has a little sister who also aspires to be a bikini model. The movie ends when Inga’s mother informs Nick that the little sister’s coach will be over for dinner, who turns out to be Sonya and she is delighted to see her “lover”.

REVIEW:

Boat Trip is a comedy that sort of flips the table on us guys. What I man is that instead of the girl getting treated like crap and then falling for someone else afterwards, it is the guy who goes through that…anguish. Luckily, though, this isn’t some sappy romantic comedy, but rather just a comedy, so that part of the plot is only hinted at here and there.

In the early scenes, we get a good idea and introduction to who the lead characters are, as well as a few little exchanges between Horatio Sanz’s character and some guy in the parking lot….not ot mention a cameo by Will Ferrell. Unfortunately, the film crashes an burns from there, with only the eye candy that is Roselyn Sanchez, Victoria Silvstedt and the Swedish tanning teams to keep things a bit interesting.

I don’t mean to say this film is a total waste of time, but it goes from being funny to a string of gay stereotypes, which while initially funny, get old and hurt the film in the end. While I’m not sure if any gay men were offended by this film, I have read more than a few reviews of straight men that were. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason they took offense. My guess is they were just looking for something to complain about.

The acting in this picture isn’t the best. As a matter of fact, everytime I watch this, I have to wonder what Cuba Gooding, Jr. was thinking when he signed on for this after winning an Oscar. Coincidentally, his career has been in a bit of a downward spin since this film. Horatio Sanz is what you would expect from him. Roselyn Sanchez steals the show with her beauty, but also gives a pretty good performance. Vivica A. Fox is just there, mostly to be the “villain”.

For good comedy, you can do a lot worse than Boat Trip, but you can also do a lot better. The humor of this film is primarily rooted in gay jokes, but there are more than a few that find those funny, myself included, so it works, but as I said before, it gets old quick. This isn’t a must-see, but it is one of those flicks that is worth watching if you have nothing better to do.

4 out of 5 stars

Oklahoma!

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Renaissance actor Hugh Jackman proves he’s more than just a pretty face (or a superhero, for that matter) in this impressive turn as Curly in the National Theatre’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” Jackman, accompanied by acclaimed thespians Maureen Lipman, Josefina Gabrielle and Shuler Hensley, sings the show’s best hits, including “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” and the title song.

REVIEW:

Oklahoma! is one of the most revered and respected musicals. There is even a classic film version, which I initially thought I was getting this week, but turns out that this was a stage production. I don’t have any issue with stage production, per se, but it’s just not the same watching one on a screen rather than in person, so I was bit dissuaded in my opinion of this film.

Hugh Jackman stars  in the production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical. I’m not exactly sure about the timeline, but I think this was before he became Wolverine. It is obvious the guy has talent, as he, not necessarily carries the production, but is obviously the star.

The rest of the cast is not known to most people, but are well-known to Broadway audiences as they are stage veterans, which gives them instant credibility.

Unfortunately for this picture, at 3 hours, it drags on. I even fell asleep at more than one point. I don’t know if this is necessarily an indictment of the film, though, because I’ve sat through longer films and actual stage productions Having said that, though, it is a very fine interpretation of this work and definitely worth the viewing, although, having not seen the classic film version, I can’t say which would be better.

3 out of 5 stars

Sherlock Holmes

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

PLOT:

The film opens with Holmes and Watson racing against time to prevent a human sacrifice ritual conducted by Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). They manage to stop the sacrifice ritual just in time. The police, led by Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan), arrive after Holmes and Watson neutralize Lord Blackwood and proceed to arrest him.

Lord Blackwood triggers panic within the prison, even causing a prison warden to be struck down with a seizure. Holmes on the other hand has been bored silly in the three months between Blackwood’s capture and his impending execution. Meanwhile, Watson has met a girl named Mary (Kelly Reilly) whom he intends to wed, and will be moving out of his apartment. Holmes on the other hand gets re-acquainted with the only person who has managed to fool him twice: Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams). She offers him a sum of money to pursue a case, and leaves his apartment. Holmes disguises himself as a vagrant and trails Adler to a coach, within which sits a man whose face is not seen. He has a wrist-mounted contraption that deploys a concealed short-barreled pistol, which he uses to chase the disguised Holmes away from the coach.

The day before his execution, Blackwood asks to meet with Holmes. Holmes notices that Blackwood has scrawled occult symbols and inscriptions on the walls of his prison cell, and Blackwood warns Holmes that death will not be an obstacle to him. He states that three more murders will occur, and there is nothing Holmes can do about it.

Blackwood is subsequently executed by hanging, and Watson himself personally verifies that Blackwood has no pulse and is clinically dead. Three days after he is buried, the stones that sealed his tomb have been shattered and a witness claims he saw Blackwood leave the tomb alive. Holmes and Watson are called to the scene to investigate. The coffin is removed and instead of Blackwood’s corpse, they find the body of a red haired midget, the very man Irene Adler had asked him to find.

With Blackwood apparently back from the dead, London is astir with rumors about his dark powers and Holmes and Watson resume their hunt to track him down and uncover the mystery of his resurrection. Their adventures lead them to uncover an occult-dabbling secret society known as the Temple of the Four Orders (similar in vein to secret societies such as the Order of the Eastern Temple, the Freemasons, the Illuminati and the Rosicrucians), with Blackwood eventually leading it on a quest for world domination. Blackwood leaves many (apparently supernatural) murders in his wake, while planning with the members of the Order to launch a major attack on the British parliament.

Holmes and Watson stop his attack on the parliament disarming a machine designed to release a chemical gas. In a battle on the construction site of the Tower Bridge, Holmes reveals all of the scientific methods behind Blackwood’s seemingly supernatural resurrection, powers, and murders. Blackwood falls to his death high above London, and Holmes handcuffs himself to Ms. Adler until she explains her motives to become involved with the case. She explains that the mysterious caped man in the carriage is one Professor Moriarty, who had used the battle to covertly steal an important component of the machine. Adler warns Holmes that Moriarty is just as brilliant as he is, and infinitely more devious. The film ends with Holmes learning of a new case involving Professor Moriarty.

REVIEW:

My background in Sherlock Holmes is resorted mainly to cartoons and TV shows that use him as a reference. I have never read the books, but will get on that soon enough. Without prior knowledge of the character, you can imagine that I’m  more or less going in here with a clean slate, which can be a good or bad thing.

Sherlock Holmes offers a mix of action and some brief bits of comedy, but mostly we get this dry borderline drama story with a couple of weird twists at the end that totally change the way you see the entire film.

I’m always up for some good one-liners to lighten the mood of a film. THere is no need to be all serious. I’m sure there is bound to be someone out there who is going ot bash the comic elements, though.

The action wasn’t that great, to tell you the truth. Well, let me take that back. It is ok for what it is. Obviously, there ar no giant robots, car chases, or rapid gun battles, but it just feels as if it was forced into the story to make it “more appealing”.  Even the climactic battle atop the unfinished Tower Bridge didn’t quite seem to fit. Going even deeper…a few times Holmes narrates what he’s about to do to someone in a fight, and then does it. I actually liked this, and think they should have him do it a couple more times, rather than just abandon it like it seems they did.

Robert Downey, Jr. really got into this role, even going so far as learning old English. His dedication to the art shows, as he gives quite the performance and captures Holmes’ ego, and even his need to monologue about his methods and such.

Jude Law is not who I would have chosen as Dr. Watson, but from what I’ve heard and read, the Watson in the books is totally different from the one we are familiar with. If that is indeed the case, than maybe Law isn’t such a bad choice.

Rachel McAdams has an interesting character, but its obvious she’s just there to be a pretty face and introduce Moriarty (for possible future films).

Mark Strong did a pretty good job as Lord Blackwood. At times, he was even a bit creepy, which for someone who has risen from the dead, that’s what you expect.

One thing I could have done without was this strange drama between Holmes and Watson involving Watson leaving. Sure it makes for good sitcom fodder, but just didn’t work for me or this film.

I have never thought of Sherlock Holmes as an action hero, but rather a man of high intellect, so you can imagine my interest in the film was that of skepticism. There has been much hype surrounding this picture. Was it worth it? I can’t very well say that, but at the sam time I can’t say it’s not. Mu opinion is that when there is no action, the film falls into this thick stew of muck and doesn’t recover until the next action scene, then it repeats, only the muck gets thicker. I need to see this again to know for sure, but it seemed as if this film doesn’t know what it wants to be. Should it be a serious picture? Or an action/adventure? Maybe even an action comedy? It bounces from one genre to the other and never finds sure footing, so how can we, the audience know what to think? Well, here’s what I think, it doesn’t suck, but I can all but guarantee that this time next year, you won’t remember Sherlock Holmes for anything other than something to add to these actors resumes (of course with Downey, you’ll forget by this summer with the release of Iron Man 2).

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Lost in Space

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the year 2058, Earth will soon be uninhabitable after the irreversible effects of pollution. The United Global Space Force serves as the planetary government. Professor John Robinson, lead scientist of the Jupiter Mission, will lead his family to the habitable planet Alpha Prime to prepare it for colonization by building a hypergate in orbit. The Jupiter 2 is equipped with a hyperdrive that allows faster-than-light travel, which will eventually be employed to evacuate the citizens of Earth. However hypergates must be constructed on Earth and Alpha Prime to provide stable points of departure and arrival. The project is accelerated after Global Sedition terrorist forces send two armed fighters to destroy the hypergate under construction. Major Don West, a fighter pilot from the hypergate defense force, manages to destroy the enemy fighters and later is unwillingly drafted as the new pilot of the Jupiter Mission, as the previous pilot has been assassinated. He displays resentment against going on the mission but likes the ship and makes unsuccessful advances on Dr. Judy Robinson, John Robinson’s eldest daughter.

The Robinson family is having troubles of its own. John has been neglecting his role as a father due to his work on the Jupiter mission. His second daughter, Penny is a rebel teenager who doesn’t want to leave earth, Will, the youngest and only son, is an intelligent boy (he builds a “time machine”) but feels neglected by his father’s absence, due to his work on the mission, and feels his father doesn’t care about him, going so far as to black out his school for his experiment on the time machine in an attempt to get his father’s attention.

Dr. Zachary Smith, the Doctor overseeing the Robinson’s health conditions for the flight, is bribed by the Global Sedition to sabotage the mission via reprogramming the Jupiter 2’s robot’s orders to “Sixteen hours in commission destroy Robinson family. Destroy all systems”. However before Smith can escape, he is betrayed by his employers. He is barely able to save himself from death but is knocked unconscious and left as an unwilling stowaway as the ship blasts off.

The launch goes ahead without any problems. The Robinsons go into cryostasis before lift off. Major West however, continues to feel like all his career was a waste “just to take the family on a interstellar picnic”. He is able to hit on Judy again before cryostasis but again gets spurned in the attempt. He too goes into his stasis pod after putting the ship on autopilot.

Dr. Smith awakens to discover the ship has taken off and the robot comes online. When he fails to stop the robot, he awakens the Robinsons and West from cryostasis. After its destruction of several systems, Will is able to disable the robot. The sabotage causes the ship to veer towards the sun. Realizing, after a few failed attempts, that it would be impossible to escape the sun’s pull at such close range, Major West and Professor Robinson decide to fly through the sun, using the ship’s hyperdrive. Unfortunately, without a hypergate to warp through, the ship and its crew end up in a random (and apparently uncharted) part of the galaxy. Dr. Smith is immediately imprisoned.

Upon arrival, they encounter a “hole in space” in the vicinity of an extraterrestrial planet. Major West takes the Jupiter 2 into the hole, against John’s orders, where the crew encounters the Proteus, an Earth ship from the future. Attached to the ship is an unknown alien ship. Dr. Smith is forced into a space suit and is to be part of the boarding party, leaving Maureen, Penny, and Will on the ship to scan for any lifeforms.

Everyone, including the Jupiter robot, reprogramed and controlled by Will via remote control, board the Proteus. After searching the ship, they find the ship is deserted, except for a harmless, child-like alien lifeform. They find the Proteus’ star charts and download it, while Dr. Smith is able to steal a remote control from a futuristic robot, similar to their Robot’s. Everyone soon discovers the ship has been infested with carnivorous and cannibalistic silicon-based spider-like lifeforms. In the midst of the battle to escape the ship unharmed, Dr. Smith receives a deep wound from a spider’s claw, and the Jupiter 2‘s robot is destroyed. Major West self-destructs the Proteus, destroying the spiders. However, the shock wave from the explosion damages the Jupiter 2, and they crash-land on the nearby planet.

On the mysterious planet, they locate a fuel source with which to refuel the damaged engines of the Jupiter 2. However, it lies in the center of a massive “bubble” of mysterious origin. Professor Robinson and Major West explore the bubble and discover it is actually an area of time distortion where alternate future versions of Dr. Smith and Will have constructed a time machine, powered by their Jupiter 2‘s power core, and are planning on returning to Earth at an earlier time to prevent the family from getting lost in the first place.

Will (armed) and Smith both enter the bubble in search for Robinson and West, Smith having manipulated Will into thinking that the two adults are in danger. Smith finds improvised gravestones of all the women of the flight and is able to hide them from Will. When Smith and Will come across the future Jupiter, Smith disarms Will through further manipulation and both enter the future Jupiter.

The unaltered Dr. Smith takes control of the robot, via the remote he stole from the Proteus, and has it accept only his voice commands.They are all betrayed by the future Smith, who is revealed to have transformed into a gigantic space spider/human hybrid as a result of the spider scratch he received on the Proteus. He knocks the human Dr. Smith unconscious, and imprisons the Robinsons and West.

Under guard by the futuristic robot, West and Prof. Robinson begin to plan an escape but Will is able to help free the robot by removing the remote. Prof. Robinson stays behind to bring back the core material, while the rest of the group head back to the Jupiter. Coming across the unconscious Dr. Smith, West grudgedly carries him on his back. The group immediately heads back towards the Jupiter 2 of their time.

The alternate Will soon discovers that he repressed memories of Smith killing all the women and changes the time portal’s size, limiting the size of a “man” that can enter. Smith then reveals his plan to go back in time to Earth and spread his spider race across the Earth. Robinson soon battles Spider Smith, while Major West returns to the other Jupiter 2, without the power source, to try to evacuate the other Robinsons. Will successfully stops Spider Smith by slashing him across the face with a dagger and sticking it into the eggsac on his back, causing the baby spiders to come out and start eating Spider Smith (Will discovered that the spiders eat their wounded while they were on the Proteus). Spider Smith dies when Robinson kicks him into the time machine’s field while it is too small for his massive form, killing him.

The family attempts to escape, but the time bubble has made the planet unstable, and it is violently breaking apart. As a result of not retrieving the extra power core, the ship still does not have enough power to reach escape velocity. The stranded John Robinson watches as the Jupiter 2 is hit by debris and explodes in the sky. Future Will realizes his father does indeed love his family, and lets John use the time portal and travel back in time to the Jupiter 2 just before it launched from his planet. The power core could only fuel one trip back through time, and Future Will stays behind, wishing his family luck. Rather than attempt to escape into the atmosphere, John commands West to pilot the ship through the planet’s core as it is breaking up, enabling them to use the planet’s gravity to propel the ship through the other side. They escape, but the collapsed planet forms a gravity well that begins to suck in the Jupiter 2. Once again the Robinsons must activate the hyperdrive; however, this time they are able to target Alpha Prime using data downloaded from the Proteus‘ more detailed star charts. The film ends with the Robinsons and West activating the hyperdrive, presumably transporting the ship to Alpha Prime. The last lines in the movie are West’s “Targeting Alpha Prime, I hope” followed by Will’s reply: “Cool!”.

REVIEW:

I don’t know much about the original Lost in Space TV series, other than the robot always went around saying “Danger, Will Robison!” I’m not sure if this was a good or bad thing for my opinion of this film, though.

When I chose to watch this this evening, I was expecting cheesy sci-fi goodness and references to the old TV show. The same that expect for any film that is a remake of an old TV show (since no one, except James Cameron, can come up with their own ideas anymore).

The film starts off pretty good with a fight in space and all, but then it turns into some sort of melodrama involving kids being unhappy with their parents, insubordination by a military officer, deceit by a doctor, corruption, etc. Normally, this is stuff that wouldn’t be bad, but it just isn’t handled very well.

This is a pretty good cast, especially if you look at where most of them are in their careers today, but they just don’t convince me that they enjoyed working on this film. Some of them looked downright miserable. The worst culprits were HEather Graham and Matt LeBlac. Graham seems to be painfully trying to be a serious actress here, and it just doesn’t work..at least for me. I don’t know what it is, but she just doesn’t have the face of a serious actress. LeBlanc has a similar problem. He can give the performance of his life, but his just doesn’t have the look to be a serous actor. Although, this character did seem to suit him, personality-wise, it was the action stuff that I couldn’t buy.

The special effects in this are just plain bad, especially the space monkey and the spider monster version of Dr. Smith. Although the monkey did seem to be a bit cartoonish and all, which is fine, the spider monster had the same kind of look, which, for a villain, is not something that you would want. I’m taking into account that this was nearly 15 yrs ago and technology has come a long way, but this was still bad effects.

It really is no wonder that this film is forgotten lore. There is nothing remarkable about it, good or bad. It’s just a below average film, that at just over 2 hrs is too long for the kid of film it is. There are moments that seem like it doesn’t know if it wants to be a serious sci-fi film or a comedy. Had a true direction been found and some moe attention paid to the original series, this may have been a pretty good film, but as it is, they did neither and we were stuck with this.

2 out of 5 stars

The Babysitters

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on December 22, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The movie begins with a voice over by Shirley Lyner (Waterston) as we see a wood cabin with mostly middle-aged men and teenage girls in various states of undress. In the voice-over she explains that this is her babysitting service, then dismisses child abuse or neglect as a cause for why she started it.

Flash back to several months prior, and Shirley is obsessively arranging items in her room when Michael Beltran (Leguizamo) picks her up for a babysitting job. She shows obvious signs of being attracted to him. After the babysitting is finished, Michael drives Shirley home and they stop into a diner to eat, where they flirt heavily and Michael admits frustration with how his wife has changed and Shirley says she doesn’t have a boyfriend because she finds guys her age to be too immature. She also admits to being an obsessive compulsive cleaner and organizer.

At school we meet Shirley’s friends: Melissa, a confident, cynical junior trying to get into Brown a year early, and Brenda, a very chatty girl who seems to have self esteem issues.

The next babysitting outing, Michael and his wife Gail (Nixon) are meeting with Michael’s friend Jerry, who has a business proposition for him. Gail is frustrated that Michael wants to take it, while Michael gets curious about an abandoned trainyard behind the restaurant that Gail shows no interest in. When Michael is driving Shirley home that night, they stop at the trainyard and explore it, eventually sharing a kiss. Michael pays her some extra money not to tell anyone about the kiss. On the next babysitting job, they actually have sex.

At school Melissa eventually wrings the truth about the babysitting outings from Shirley, who admits the extra money is nice. At the same time Michael confesses the transgression to Jerry, who sympathizes with him. Soon, Michael asks Shirley if any of her other friends can “babysit” and Melissa volunteers. After Melissa’s outing, Shirley asks her for 20% of the money as her cut, which Melissa agrees is fair. They eventually convince Brenda to take a babysitting job and Melissa pushes Shirley not to warn her about the expected sex. At first it shocks Brenda, but the man with her is very reserved and nervous, eventually boosting Brenda’s confidence. The next day, Brenda agrees to the terms and the girls set up a working business, going so far as to have business cards printed up. Meanwhile, Michael is continuing to have trouble at his job and learns that Shirley is babysitting for others besides him, which makes him uncomfortable. His wife is suspicious of his continual long nights at the office, but he denies wrongdoing.

The first problem arises when Brenda invites her younger stepsister Nadine into the group without checking with Shirley. Nadine is much more abrasive and aggressive than Brenda and questions why Shirley gets a cut. She soon starts her own competing business behind Shirley’s back, and Shirley starts to lose customers while seeing Nadine and her friends wearing designer clothes and jewelry. Melissa suggests breaking into her locker to find proof and they enlist Michael’s help. When they find no evidence in Nadine’s locker, they vandalize the entire school to cover their tracks, making sure to target the lockers of other girls who were working with Nadine. Shirley meets with all of them and threatens more reprisals unless they follow the rules. After the meeting, Melissa presents Shirley with fake permission slips for a trip to Jerry’s cabin for a weekend. The girls will be going under the pretense of a school trip, while the men will be there on a “business retreat”.

At the party, Michael is increasingly uncomfortable with Shirley being with other guys while Jerry questions why Michael doesn’t go with any of the other girls. Jerry has supplied drugs at the party, and Brenda has a negative reaction to the Ecstasy. Jerry attempts to rape her, but amid Brenda’s verbal resistance and cries for her mother, decides not to proceed.

At her next babysitting job, Brenda has a breakdown and runs out. When Shirley talks to her, Brenda says she wants out, which Shirley agrees with, but Melissa privately expresses worry that Brenda will talk. These worries are increased when Melissa is accepted to Brown. Michael’s wife confronts him about his distance and that he has been lying about his job situation, since he was just taken off of a major project. Michael finally voices some of his frustrations about the marriage, while Gail responds with hers.

On her own initiative, Melissa has several of their customers attack and threaten Brenda’s brother. Nadine assures Brenda that everything will be fine, while Shirley gets angry at Melissa and tries unsuccessfully to contact Brenda. Michael and Shirley, out at the trains again, have an argument where Michael tries to encourage Shirley to run away with him, while Shirley reminds him that this is just business and he’s deluding himself. He’s forced to abandon her when a cop shows up, and Shirley tries to contact Brenda for a ride. Upon hearing that Nadine is babysitting without her knowledge, she calls Melissa, who is with Jerry, and they go to confront her. They interrupt Nadine at a parking garage and nearly throw her off the roof. At that point, Shirley discovers that it is her own father that is with Nadine.

The scene cuts out to another voiceover by Shirley, who says that everything stopped and they all have to live with the consequences, though it’s implied that no legal action resulted. The last scene is of Shirley parking across the street from Michael’s house. She sees Michael interacting with his family, apparently trying to mend the rifts.

REVIEW:

It seems as if Netflix wasn’t going to rest until I watched this. Everyday  when I would go to the page, they recommended this, so finally I decided to break down and watch it.

The Babysitters centers around a group girls who start an escort service under the guise of a babysitting service. The problem is that they are all underage and end up having affairs with the men who hire them.

That right there is enough to turn you off from this film. The whole topic of underage sex is a bit taboo, and the fact they’re covering it up as a babysitting service just makes me think.

The film as a whole just seems to plod along with no rhythm or rhyme. Once the plot devices are established, the film just seems to go through the motions. I questioned why I was still watching this thing.

No, I would not suggest anyone o subject themselves to the torture that is this film. It just isn’t worth it, even for an independent film. The best scenes, as bad as this may sound, is where the star, Katherine Waterston,  straddles John Leguizamo and takes her shirt off. Yeah, a topless scene is the best thing about this film. Not because of the toplessness, but because it wasn’t as boring as the rest of the picture. Avoid this like the plague, if you can!

1 out of 5 stars

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Ben Selleck’s car dealership is failing and he is forced to hire a mercenary, Don Ready. They have 211 cars to sell over the 4th of July weekend. Don’s team of Babs, Jibby, and Brent promise Ben that they will make the dealership a profit after the weekend.

On the first day the crowds gather outside for hot dogs and other gimmicks. Don notices that the naturally talented salesman, Blake, could be his son (he was in the town before and had a brief fling while there). The sales team sell the cars by any means necessary and finish the day selling 71 cars. Before they can leave the lot Stu and his son Paxton from the opposing dealership offer to purchase the lot. Since Paxton is marrying Ben’s daughter, Ivy, he is trying to put his future father-in-law out of business. Paxton only wants practice space for his “man-band”, Big Ups, and eventually wants to take them worldwide. Ben is about to finalize a deal with Stu but Don promises to sell every car on the lot.

The second day starts off poorly with a dishonest commercial that Ben is dying of testicular cancer. When it is time for Eric Bice, Bo Bice’s brother to take the stage he backs out at the last minute and Don takes the stage. The crowd riots when they find out Don is an atrocious singer. Taking advantage of all the cameras on the lot from the riot, the team starts a sale for 20% off to the police.

Don is taking stock in his life when Ivy questions him about one of his jobs in Albuquerque. Don tells her that he killed his best friend and team DJ, McDermott (played in a flashback by Will Ferrell), by giving him a bag with sex toys instead of a parachute. Don was more focused on having sex with his customer than selling cars. He then reveals to Ivy that he is falling for her and it is all happening again. That night Ivy comes to Don’s hotel room and they have sex.

Ivy reveals that it was a one night stand and is not breaking up with Paxton. Don is furious and storms out yelling that he only loves cars. The team searches but cannot find Don, they get pumped up to sell the 105 cars left on the lot without him. While wandering the desert Don sees the deceased McDermott with two angels. McDermott tells Don that everything is about the team, people you love, and that he should get off the road. In the time it takes Don to get back to the dealership the team sells every car on the lot.

Don parachutes onto the lot but Stu and Paxton inform him the “bandit car” (an expensive prop that was used in the Smokey and the Bandit films) is not sold and the dealership is theirs. Don convinces Paxton to buy the bandit car, which saves the lot, and Paxton leaves Ivy to tour with his band. Don announces that he is going to get off the road so he can care for his friends and family more. Don marries Ivy and adopts Blake (despite the fact that Blake knows he is not, in fact, Don’s son) but they get divorced two years later.

REVIEW:

It seems as if no one cares for Jeremy Piven anymore. Perhaps that is why The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard didn’t do that great at the box office…or maybe it was because this film isn’t that great.

Now, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that they should stay away from this picture, because that is not what I’m saying. I’m just making sure that you all know that if you decide to skip this film, you won’t be missing much.

Jeremy Piven and his band of cronies do what they can to carry this film, but none really break out and shine. The closest one to accomplishing anything close to being a memorable character is Kathryn Hahn as Babs, wo apparently is either a nympho or just wants ot have sex with a 10yr old boy in a man’s body. Ving Rames isn’t bad, but he just seems to be the token black guy here. He does end up with the hottest girl in the picture, Noureen De Wulf.

Will Ferrell shows up as a cameo appearance that solves the mystery of what happened in ‘Querque, and actually provides a much needed lift to the film, even moreso the second time he shows up (with the two cussing, backup singing angels).

I don’t know, this whole picture just seems poorly done. It’s like they decided to give Jeremy Piven a vehicle and then surround hims with some comedians and hope they make it funny. Belive it or not, that wouldn’t have been a bad idea, except for the fact that this film isn’t that funny. At the same time, it isn’t boring or dramatic, just doesn’t really keep your attention. Its jus ta below average comedy that is better left on the shelf, if you ask me.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Soloist

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 2005, the only thing hurting Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez more than his face from a recent bike accident was his pressing need for story ideas. That is when he discovers Nathaniel Ayers, a mentally ill, homeless street musician who possesses extraordinary talent, even through his half-broken instruments. Inspired by his story, Lopez writes an acclaimed series of articles about Ayers and attempts to do more to help both him and the rest of the underclass of LA have a better life. However, Lopez’s good intentions run headlong in the hard realities of the strength of Ayers’ personal demons and the larger social injustices facing the homeless. Regardless, Lopez and Ayers must find a way to conquer their deepest anxieties and frustrations to hope for a brighter future for both of them.

REVIEW:

When I first heard about this film, I thought it was going to be about a gifted musician who some random guy finds on the street and helps get back on his feet and maybe even into Carnegie Hall, or something along those lines. I was so wrong.

The film is a true story about Nathaniel Ayers’ schizophrenia and the tragic tale that is his life. We also get a bit of Steve Lopez who somehow turned a weekly column in the Los Angeles Times to a book and then into a movie. Can we say cashing in?

Both Foxx and Downey give superb performances and remind audiences that they can indeed act. There are times that I was in awe as to how involved with these characters the men were, especially Downey, but that may be because he just seems to be the type to use proper words.

I don’t know about you, but if I see the title The Soloist and know that it is about some sort of musician, I expect to see some music. I was highly disappointed to barely hear any in the picture. Sure there was Beethoven all through the film’s score and a couple of orchestral scenes and whatnot, but it just wasn’t enough for me.

My expectations were riding high for this one. The past few movies with musical plots that I’ve seen have been nothing short of spectacular. The Soloist turns out an unprepared, unpracticed nerve ridden solo, that even the stellar casting of its lead actors can’t save it. Still, there are some touching moments, and the Foxx’s character is relatable to the audience. While I wouldn’t suggest watching this more than once, it is worth a viewing.

4 out of 5 stars

Avatar

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 2154 AD, humans are engaged in the colonization of Pandora, the lush moon of Polyphemus, one of three gas giants that orbit Alpha Centauri A, 4.3 light years from Earth. Pandora is filled with incredible life forms, and is home to the Na’vi, an indigenous sentient humanoid race who are considered primitive by human standards, yet are more physically capable than them. The Na’vi are tailed, slender creatures with sparkling blue skin, standing three meters tall. They live in harmony with their unspoiled world, which the humans have found to be rich with unobtainium,a valuable mineral that is essential to remedying an economic and energy crisis that is gripping Earth.

Humans are unable to breathe the Pandoran atmosphere; in order to interact with the Na’vi, human scientists have created genetically engineered human-Na’vi hybrid bodies called Avatars, and use them to interact with the natives and gain their trust for a relocating operation. A human who shares genetic material with the avatar can be mentally linked to it, allowing them to control its functions and experience what it experiences, while their own body sleeps. The story’s protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is a former U.S. Marine who was wounded and paralyzed from the waist down in combat on Earth. His twin brother Tony was a scientist working on the Avatar program; when he is killed, Jake is extended the opportunity to take his brother’s place, as he shares Tony’s genetic material and is therefore compatible with his avatar.

Jake travels to Pandora, and assumes control of his avatar body, delighted at being able to walk and run once again as a whole being. Sent deep into Pandora’s jungles as a scout for the soldiers that will follow, Jake encounters many of Pandora’s beauties and dangers. There he meets a young Na’vi female, Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), who teaches him the ways of her people: the Omaticaya clan of the Na’vi. Despite having originally been sent to gain the trust of natives, and convince them to abandon their Hometree, which sits above a large deposit of unobtanium, Jake finds himself caught between the military-industrial forces of Earth, and his love for his adopted home and people. He is forced to choose sides as the humans grow increasingly violent in their mining activities, and the oppressed Na’vi rise up to protect their home, resulting in an epic battle that will decide the fate of an entire race.

REVIEW:

Avatar is, above all, something different to come out in theaters. What’s different about it? Well, it’s not based on a comic book, novel, foreign film, musical, and most importantly…IT IS NOT A REMAKE!!!!  I guess you could say the most refreshing thing about it is that it is…now brace yourself for this…*GASP* an original idea!

James Cameron apparently has had this story in his head since he was a young boy. The fantastical world of the Na’vi that he has created rival that of Oz, Wonderland, and other wonderous worlds we’ve seen on film.

Let’s get the bad parts out of the way first…At 3 hrs long, this film is a bit lengthy. Sometimes 3 hrs can work for a film, and other times it works against it. Avatar suffers from the latter. Although the special effects are nothing short of spectacular, and the scenery is breathtaking, the film itself drags on and has the lull in the middle that I can’t stand. It even gets a bit preachy during this period, which makes it worse.

It seems apparent that Netyri knows that Jake is not a Na’vi, but it is never fully reveled to the audience until the plot thickens after the film’s apex. I would have liked for the filmmakers to have either made it clear that she does or doesn’t know. That goes for the entire tribe…with the exception of Mo’at, she should know based on her role in the tribe being similar to that of a medicine woman.

Speaking of tribes…I was under the impression that there was only one giant tribe on planet Pandora, but at the end of the film, all of a sudden there are tribes popping up all over the place. Now, I’m not saying they should have been made known at film’s beginning or anything like that, but rather, they could/should have been mentioned during Jake’s learning period. I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one that thinks that, though.

Finally, when it is revealed Jake is a traitor, they leave him to die, but do everything they can for Grace, even after they had just had her hanging for crimes against the tribe. This is very minor, but it just seemed a bit weird that not five minutes before she was a criminal and then she is forgiven.

Also regarding Sigourney Weaver’s avatar…she looks like Sigourney Weaver in blue makeup. For some reason, her face wasn’t altered. I’m not sure why this was, but my belief is that she was an early model avatar, before they perfected the process.

On the positive side, the special effects are gorgeous. The luminating forest took my breath away. You could even go so far as to say the scenery is another star of this film.

If I was an actor in Hollywood, I’d be a little worried. It seems to be that the trend is to motion capture, or whatever the word is, your movements, rather than actually cast you. Take for instance Zoe Saldana. She plays Netyri, but unless you pay close attention, you would never know. Sure she’s has her recognizable movements, but you just know that had this been done with her in makeup, she’d be more recognizable. That being said, they did a smashing job making her look like herself, only as a Na’vi.

Sci-fi films of late have been known for making stars. If this picture ends up being as big as they think it’ll be, then Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington will be on their way to bigger and better things.

Someone brought this up in their review of this film last night, and I would like to touch in it briefly….Michelle Rodriguez is actually playing a character with a heart. Shocked? I know I was. Usually, she plays these hard characters with a hidden agenda. On top of that, she seemed a bit cuter, and dare I say it…HOT! Amazing what a change in attitude can do for someone, right?

Stephen Lang is downright scary as the colonel in charge of everything. On top of that, this old man is built, which made him more intimidating. I was almost expecting him to rip his skin off and reveal that he’s some sort of renegade Na’vi hellbent on destroying his own kind.

Music usually sets the tone for any film, no matter the genre, and James Horner’s dramatic, moving score doesn’t fail to deliver here. Then again, when has he ever failed to create a moving score?

One  of the most talked about films not to come out during the summer, Avatar has all the makings of a summer blockbuster, but with the added factor of making the audience actually think. James Cameron talked excessively about how this picture was going to revolutionize and change the way movies are made. I just didn’t see it. As a matter of fact, I’m a little upset that I paid the extra $1.50 for the 3D glasses. There were plenty of places 3D could have been used to its maximum potential, but just wasn’t. Heck, the previews took more advantage of it than the actual film. Having said that, though, it is worth the time and money to go see this in the theaters. I may have been a little disappointed with the 3D, but I belive that was more due to the hype. This is not a “game changing” film that way Cameron wanted it to be, but it is a very well made picture and something he and all that were part of it, should be proud to have been associated with. There is already talk of a sequel. As long as it doesn’t fall of from the quality of this one, or take away from the story, then I’m not complaining.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on December 16, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens with the debut of the new season at the Paris Opera House, with a production of Gounod’s Faust. Comte Philip de Chagny {John St. Polis} and his brother, the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny (Norman Kerry) are in attendance. Raoul attends only in the hope of hearing his sweetheart Christine Daae (Mary Philbin) sing. Christine, under the tuition of an unknown and mysterious coach, has made a sudden rise from the chorus to understudy of the prima donna. Raoul wishes for Christine to resign and marry him, but she refuses to let their relationship get in the way of her career.

At the height of the most prosperous season in the Opera’s history, the management suddenly resign. As they leave, they tell the new managers of the Opera Ghost, a phantom who asks for opera box #5, among other things. The new managers laugh it off as a joke, but the old management leave troubled.

The managers go to Box 5 to see exactly who has taken it. The keeper of the box does not know who it is, as she has never seen his face. The two managers enter the box and are startled to see a shadowy figure seated. They run out of the box and compose themselves, but when they enter the box again, the person is gone.

After the performance, the ballet girls are disturbed by the sight of a mysterious man (Arthur Edmund Carewe), who dwells in the cellars. Arguing whether or not he is the Phantom, they decide to ask Joseph Bouqet, a stagehand who has actually seen the ghost’s face. Bouquet describes a ghastly sight of a living skeleton to the girls, who are then startled by a shadow cast on the wall. The antics of stagehand Florine Papillon (Snitz Edwards) do not amuse Joseph’s brother, Simon (Gibson Gowland), who chases him off.

Meanwhile, Mme. Carlotta (Virginia Pearson), the prima donna of the Paris Grand Opera, barges into the managers office enraged. She has received a letter from “The Phantom,” demanding that Christine sing the role of Marguerite the following night, threatening dire consequences if his demands are not met.

In her next performance, Christine reaches her triumph during the finale and receives a standing ovation from the audience. When Raoul visits her in her dressing room, she pretends not to recognize him, because unbeknownst to the rest there, the Spirit is also there. Raoul spends the evening outside her door, and after the others have left, just as he is about to enter, he hears a man’s voice within the room. He overhears the voice make his intentions to Christine: “Soon, Christine, this spirit will take form and will demand your love!” When Christine leaves her room alone, Raoul breaks in to find it empty.

Carlotta receives another discordant note from the Phantom. Once again, it demands that she take ill and let Christine have her part. The managers also get a note, reiterating that if Christine does not sing, they will present “Faust” in a house with a curse on it.

The following evening, despite the Phantom’s warnings, a defiant Carlotta appears as Marguerite. At first, the performance goes well, but soon the Phantom’s curse takes its effect, causing the great, crystal chandelier to fall down onto the audience. Christine runs to her dressing room and is entranced by a mysterious voice through a secret door behind the mirror , descending, in a dream-like sequence, semi-conscious on horseback by a winding staircase into the lower depths of the Opera. She is then taken by gondola over a subterranean lake by the masked Phantom into his lair. When the Phantom admits to who he is and his love for her, Christine faints and is carried into a suite fabricated for her comfort.

The next day, when she awakens, she finds a note from Erik, The Phantom. He tells her that she is free to go as she pleases, but that she must never look behind his mask. In the next room, the Phantom is playing his composition, “Don Juan Triumphant.” It is the strangest and most weird music she has ever heard. Christine’s curiosity gets the better of her and she sneaks up behind the Phantom. Christine tears off the Phantom’s mask, revealing his hideously deformed face. Enraged, the Phantom makes his plans to hold her prisoner known. In an attempt to plead to him, he excuses her to visit her world one last time, with the condition that she never sees her lover again.

Released from the underground dungeon, Christine makes a rendezvous at the annual masked-ball, which is graced with the Phantom in the guise of the ‘Red-Death’ – from the Edgar Allan Poe tale of the same name. While on the roof, Christine tells Raoul everything. However, an unseen jealous Phantom perching on the statue of Apollo.

Raoul and Inspector Ledoux (the mystery man from the cellars) are then lured into the Phantom’s underground death-trap when Christine is kidnapped while onstage.

Philippe is drowned by Erik when he goes looking for Raoul in the cellars of the Opera. The Phantom gives Christine a choice of two levers: one shaped like a scorpion and the other like a grasshopper. One will save her lover Raoul and the other will blow up the Opera! Christine picks the Scorpion-however it is a trick by the Phantom-it will “save” Raoul and Ledoux from being blown up-by drowning them! Christine begs the Phantom to save Raoul by promising him anything. At the last second the Phantom opens a trapdoor in his floor through which Raoul and Ledoux are saved. The Phantom attempts to flee with Christine in a stolen carriage. However, in the final sequence, while Raoul saves Christine, Erik/Phantom is pursued and killed by a mob on the streets of Paris who after beating him, throw him into the Seine River to finally drown.

In the original 1925 version there was a short scene showing Christine and Raoul on a honeymoon.

(An alternate ending features Christine giving the Phantom her ring, then departing with Raoul. The Phantom shrieks in pain and falls over dead, of a broken heart.)

REVIEW:

With my love for classic cinema, it is hard to belive that I have never seen a silent film. Yet, this is my first. I can’t say that it’ll be me last, either.

Most of us know The Phantom of the Opera as a highly successful and long running Broadway musical, but would be surprised to find out that it was actually a book first (as many Broadway productions are). Unlike the theatrical musical version from a few years back, this version is closer to the novel. Don’t expect ot hear any of the music or songs you’re familiar with and associate with Phantom, because they won’t be there, mainly because Andrew Lloyd Weber, who composed the music for the Broadway version, wasn’t even a gleam in his parents’ eye (and won’t be for another 23 yrs).

The film itself is pretty good. There are some strange issues, but those are more related to the DVD release, rather than the actual film, such as the masquerade ball strangely going to color, whereas the rest of the film is in black and white (or that odd sepia tone).

I’ve said time and time again that films from yesteryear really showed what acting was. This is really true in silent films. These actors had to make the audience belive them without saying a word. THe actors in this film do just this, mostly through overexaggerated hand gestures and facial contortions, but you gotta do whatever works for you.

The big star of this film is Lon Chaney, a legend in the realms of classic movie monsters. As the Phantom, he reminds me of the Abominable Snowman from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I wonder if they got the idea from this flick. For this time period, Chaney is quite the frightening figure.

Strangely enough, it was almost a year ago to this day that I reviewed The Phantom of the Opera. There really isn’t anything remarkable about that, just noticed it. If you are one of those people who gets bored with classic films, or just needs to have people talking, then this isn’t the film for you. However, if you’re the kind that has a brain on your shoulders and is willing to giver anything a chance., feel free to check it out.

3 out of 5 stars