Archive for March, 2010

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on March 31, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A geology expedition in the Amazon uncovers fossilized evidence from the Devonian period of a link between land and sea animals in the form of a skeletal hand with webbed fingers. Expedition leader Dr. Carl Maia goes to see his friend Dr. David Reed, an ichthyologist who works at a marine biology institute. Reed persuades the institute’s financial backer, Mark Williams, to fund an expedition back to the Amazon to look for the remainder of the skeleton. They go aboard a tramp steamer called the Rita, which is captained by a rude old codger named Lucas. The expedition consists of Dr. Reed, Dr. Maia and Williams, as well as Reed’s girlfriend Kay Lawrence and another scientist named Dr. Thompson. When they arrive at Dr. Maia’s camp, however, they discover that his entire research team has been mysteriously killed while he was away. Lucas suggests it was done by a jaguar, but the others are unsure. The audience is privy to the attack upon the camp, which was committed by a living version of the fossil the scientists seek.

The excavation of the area where Maia found the hand turns up nothing. Mark is ready to give up the search, but David suggests that perhaps thousands of years ago the part of the embankment containing the rest of the skeleton fell into the water and was washed downriver. Lucas says that the tributary empties into a lagoon known as the “Black Lagoon,” a paradise from which no one has ever returned. The scientists decide to risk it, unaware that the amphibious “Gill-man” that killed Dr. Maia’s assistants earlier has been watching them. It, taking notice of the beautiful Kay, follows the Rita all the way downriver to the Black Lagoon. Once the expedition arrives, David and Mark go diving to collect fossils from the lagoon floor. After they return, Kay goes swimming and is stalked underwater by the creature, who then gets briefly caught in one of the ship’s draglines. Although it escapes, it leaves behind a claw in the net, revealing its existence to the scientists.

Subsequent encounters with the Gill-man claim the lives of two of Lucas’ crew members, before the Gill-man is captured and locked in a cage on board the Rita. It escapes during the night and attacks Dr. Thompson, who was guarding it. Kay hits the beast with a lantern; driving it off before it can kill Dr. Thompson. Following this incident, David decides they should return to civilization, but as the Rita tries to leave they find the entrance blocked by fallen logs, courtesy of the escaped Gill-man. While the others try to remove them, Mark is mauled to death trying to capture the creature single-handed underwater. The creature then abducts Kay and takes her to his cavern lair. David, Lucas, and Dr. Maia give chase to save her. Kay is rescued and the creature is riddled with bullets before he retreats to the lagoon where his body sinks in the watery depths, presumably dead (the creature’s death was left open to allow for a sequel).

REVIEW:

As a fan of classic horror/sci-fi, it was inevitable that I eventually venture away from the big 3 (Dracula, Wolf-Man, Frankenstein) and get acquainted with the elusive Gil-Man in Creature from the Black Lagoon. If you’re not familiar with the Gil-Man, think back to every film/cartoon/TV show where there is an accumulation of masters. Usually, there is this fish looking guy somewhere. THat is the Gil-Man. He is a character that is always around ,but never gets the respect.

I think the most he’s received in other media may be the character Gil in the short lives Saturday morning cartoon, Gravedale High.

As I was watching this picture, the creature reminded me a bit of Godzilla. Not in the fact that he was a guy in a cheesy costume or anything, but just in the way he moved and randomly attacked.

From what I’ve seen in films from the 50s, filming on site was a rare thing, so for this to be filmed outside was a surprise to me. I’m sure they didn’t travel to the Amazon, but rather just went to some lake or something on the studio lot, but its still better than some kiddie pool they could have set up and filled with toys made up to appear like the real thing.

The thing that bothers me about this picture is the same thing that bothers me with a lot of movies, past and present. There is this one guy who wants to shoot first and ask questions later. Dude is supposed to be a scientist. You would think he’d be asking more questions than anyone, rather than going off half-coked at the site of some random creature. Sure, he provoked them and all ,but this could have been a real find, not to mention they never bothered to ask why it is he was attacking them, let alone where came from and all that jazz.

Usually with films of this ilk, they take forever and day to get going, but Creature from the Black Lagoon gets almost right to the nitty-gritty. They set up the plot, and a few minutes later we meet the creature, then the gratuitous damsel in distress scene, and bam…the film is in full swing, and before you know it we’re at the climax and the denouement.

The cast is pretty solid here. I don’t really know anything about these actors, except for Richard Denning was Lucy’s husband in the radio version of I Love Lucy, so I can’t judge how they did compared to their other roles, but I van say that the two lead males seemed like they were a couple of high school boys fighting over some girl for mosto f the picture. I realize that there was supposed to be some sort of rivalry there, but it just came off as a bit juvenile to me.

The creature, as I mentioned before, isn’t exactly g oing to scare any of today’s audiences, but for a 1954 audience, it is pretty remarkable. The eyes were a litte freaky, and I would have liked for it to have eother been ab;le to talk or make some sort of noise Maybe that’s just me, though.

Classic films don’t seem to interest everyone as much as they do me, unless folks are watching them to get ready for the remake. Yes, this film is up for a remake, unfortunately. I’m not a fan of it nad am will to fight this thing to teether if I have to. It just isn’t right. Still, a good film is a good film. This spawned two sequels and has a place in the creature legacy, and it really isn’t more than an average film, but is worth seeing, if for nothing else than to watch classic footage of a true classic monster.

3 3/4 out of  stars

Osmosis Jones

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Frank Detorre is a slovenly zookeeper at the New England Memorial Zoo in Rhode Island. Much to the frustration of his young daughter Shane, he eats compulsively and has no regard for germs or disease. While trying to eat a hard-boiled egg it’s stolen from him by a chimpanzee. He gets it back, but not before it falls into the filth of the chimp’s habitat. When Shane is disgusted by him about to eat it he uses the “ten second rule” as a justification for the unsanitary act.

Inside Frank’s body, the story unfolds. Protagonist Osmosis “Ozzy” Jones, an agent of the FrankPD, is a hot-tempered, adventure-seeking white blood cell. He is a rebel cop, frequently disobeying what an authority tells him to do for what he thinks is right. He grew up poor on the “South Side” of Frank and is often mocked by his fellow cops due to his rebellious nature. At the beginning of the story, he has been relocated to the mouth to fight against germs entering the body via ingestion following an incident during which he induced Frank to vomit all over Shane’s teacher, which was considered a false alarm because he had been the only one to suspect an incoming pathological threat(this is said later in a conversation with another character) After several newcomer Germs, believed to be gingivitis, hijack a “squad car” in the mouth, Jones and his senior partner, who is piloting their helicopter, are pulled into the lungs by a massive yawn while in pursuit. Even after the germs evade capture and pass into “Immunity’s” jurisdiction, Jones disobeys direct orders and continues the pursuit on foot. The criminals escape and Jones accidentally triggers a major cramp in Frank’s leg.

Meanwhile, Mayor Phlegmming is preparing for re-election, campaigning with the promise of more junk food (much to the joy of the citizens in the Love Handle District). The Mayor’s reckless policies are largely responsible for Frank’s deteriorating health; but his re-election hopes are complicated by the arrival of Thrax, a deadly virus that came with the hard-boiled egg. In an attempt to cover up the severity of the situation, Phlegmming ‘tells’ Frank to take a cold-suppressant pill. The pill, nicknamed Drix (short for his brand name Drixenol), arrives in the body and covers Frank’s infected throat with a disinfectant to cover the irritation. Osmosis Jones is assigned as Drix’s partner, much to his chagrin. Eventually, they reveal Thrax’s plot to masquerade as the common cold while at the same time plotting to overheat Frank’s body, killing him from the inside. Thrax is motivated by a desire to become the nastiest new virus, attempting to kill each new victim faster than the previous. His grandiose plan for Frank is death within 48 hours, breaking all previous medical records. Thrax also has the ability to burn tissue and make other cells explode by infecting them with his virus, which he releases by touching them with his larger-than-average left pointer finger, which he is able to glow, to release his virus at will.

Osmosis and Drix confront Thrax in one of Frank’s zits, where Drix launches a grenade of medication at Thrax and his cronies, popping the skin blemish, killing nearly all of Thrax’s men, and seemingly ending the virus’s siege. To hide the truth, Phlegmming tells Drix to leave the body and fires Osmosis; both protagonists having insisted that Thrax was more than the common cold.

The heroic duo’s prediction rings true when Thrax is revealed to have survived the explosion and, after killing off his remaining henchman when they suggest that they lay low and recruit new members, decides to launch a lone assault on Frank’s hypothalamus gland (the portion of the brain that contols temperature) by disabling its self-regulative capabilities. After killing the two scientists there, he uses his virus infecting finger to destroy the protoplasmic barrier around the gland, and retrieve a DNA bead. Soon after he does so, Leah Estrogen, the mayor’s secretary and Osmosis’s love interest throughout the movie, discovers his work (the temperature having risen to 100.735 degrees) and alerts security. Thrax manages to evade them; taking Leah hostage, he escapes from the brain to the mouth. Meanwhile, the temperature continues to rise, causing chaos to break out all over the City of Frank.

Frank is taken to the hospital under the influence of Thrax’s attack. Thrax is confronted by Drix, whom he underestimates. Osmosis and Drix (whom Osmosis convinced to come back) rescue Leah and the former fights Thrax directly; eventually Thrax leaves Frank’s mouth after causing a confusion using pollen.

Osmosis is launched out after him by Drix. Thrax and Osmosis arrive on one of Shane’s false eyelashes, which she was wearing atop her natural ones. During the struggle, Thrax threatens to kill Shane, but Osmosis causes him to knock Shane’s false eyelash into a vessel of alcohol below, so that he is dissolved.

During this time, the situation becomes even more dangerous when the temperature hits 108 degrees, causing Frank to go into cardiac arrest.

Just as doctors give up attempting to revive Frank, he is revived when Osmosis returns to Frank via one of Shane’s tears with the missing hypothalamus chromosome. Osmosis is reinstated into “Immunity” with full privileges, he and Drix (whom he has decided to take as his partner) are declared heroes, and Leah tells Osmosis she loves him and gives him a big kiss, which he returns.

The end of the movie shows Frank and Shane on a hike. Frank, having survived Thrax’s attack, has begun to improve his diet and personal hygiene.

Meanwhile, Phlegmming has lost his position as mayor and now has a new job, cleaning the bowels. He accidentally ejects himself from the body via the rectum by touching a button that is important and marked “DO NOT TOUCH!”.

Interlaced with the main plot are several live action sequences that detail Frank’s troublesome relationship with Shane. Her mother died at an early age; viewers may speculate that Frank has deteriorated as a result of depression caused by emotional loss, although there is reason to suspect that his wife also led an unhealthy lifestyle which may have led to her death, as suggested during a conversation between Frank and Shane. Frank had humiliated Shane previously by vomiting on her teacher, Mrs. Boyd, during a science fair, in which he ate another student’s oyster experiment; Osmosis, patrolling the stomach at the time, saw a nasty germ that had come along with the swallowed oysters and pressed the “puke” button, spraying Mrs. Boyd with bile. The event was put on the front page of the local news, making Frank the town laughingstock. This event was responsible for Osmosis Jones’ being transferred to duty in the mouth as a punitive measure to keep him from causing any further trouble.

Osmosis Jones’ suspicions have frequently been dismissed by others, though ironically he is usually correct even when he lacks the tact or caution to take care of problems without making a mess. This is evidenced by Thrax: “They’re making this too easy. You know, in all the bodies I’ve been in, no one has ever gotten wise to me, and now for the first time an immunity cell has figured out everything, and they don’t believe him!” .

Frank attempted to mend matters, but failed. Throughout the film, Shane is ashamed of her father and attempts to reform him. Seeing him facing a terminal virus prompts an epiphany in both of them, with the result that Frank begins caring for his body, and Shane develops a sense of daughterly pride in her father.

REVIEW:

Ever see a commercial for a film or part of the actual picture and wonder what exactly they were thinking when they made it? That was my initial thought when I watched Osmosis Jones. To even further make one wonder, this was spun off into a Saturday morning cartoon, Ozzy & Drix. Saying all that, this wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it sounds.

Sure, it has its moments of cheese, but seriously, if you’re expecting this to be some sort of big time, dark drama, then you obviously need to get your head examined.

The main thing to remember here is that this is meant to be a family film. However, it was made by the Farrely Brothers, who are best known for their gross out films.

The picture is in two separate parts. The first is the live-action segments, while the other is the meant and potatoes of the picture, the animated segments.

The animation is grade A, and the characters are likable and well voiced. They are drawn, yes I said drawn, in the same manner that manner that many character from the late 90s o early 2000s were. I don’t really have much to say negatively about the animation part. Had this film been fully animated, it may have worked better, but as it is, they had to include the live action segments.

Everyone says that the live action parts kill the film and really tak away from it. After watching it, I am inclined to agree. Other than a couple scenes here and there, these live-action scenes don’t really do anything for the film, except find a few minutes that won’t be animated, so they can be cheaper. Normally, I would be praising Bill Murray for his role, but I have to scratch my head at this one. He’s playing a slovenly character that has no real redeeming qualities, other than his daughter. The mark of a truly good character is the connection with the audience. Murray doesn’t do anything but gross us out, so when he dies near the end. There is no reason to show sympathy or compassion. It’s not that he’s not worthy of it, but you just don’t feel it.

Every good film has a villain. Here we have Thrax, voiced by Laurence Fishburne. The guy is cool as the other side of the pillow. His plot to ruin Frank and set some sort of record is quite diabolical. Apparently, he’s supposed to be some sort of virus called the red death. It worked, but considering how he came in on an egg that Fran picked up off the ground, maybe it would have been better to use e coli or sal monella, or maybe some other well known virus, or at the very least have him working for one of them. Just my opinion.

Toungue-in-cheek jokes are the norm in this film. There are especially abundant in the city of Frank. Some may say it was a bit much, but not I. They really lighten the mood and add a bit of icing to the cake.

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t take care of themselves and/or has bad hygiene, then you should really watch this picture. Sure, its a family friendly cartoon, but the message is still there.

Osmosis Jones is not a film that everyone will enjoy, but is a good family film. They even toned it down to keep a PG rating, but be warned, there are some gross out parts. I mean, we are dealing with the workings of the human body here, so it is to be expected. Again, I say if this were just animated, its be an awesome flick, but as it stands, there are live action scenes that just suck the life out of the film. I still will recommend this to anyone, but only with the disclaimer that this could have been a much better film.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Japan 1603, a masked man is seen fighting four samurai on horseback. The samurai eventually defeat the masked man by knocking his katana sword out of his hand and capture him. As the samurai ride off with the man he yells “Mitsu!” just as a mysterious woman emerges from the underbrush. As the samurai ride off with the man one of them takes his sword which had gotten jabbed in a tree.

Fast forward to present day Manhattan (1993). As the samurai on horse back takes the sword the scene switches to a speeding subway train. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are dancing to ZZ Top and each shows his fighting style, in the abandoned subway station which they have made their home. As the dance ends, Raphael throws a sai into the speaker, frustrated that no one appreciates the Turtles or sees what they do. He is contradicted by the arrival of April O’Neil, who has been shopping at a flea market in preparation for her upcoming vacation and brings her friends gifts to cheer them up. Michelangelo is given a colorful lampshade, Donatello is given an old radio, Leonardo is given a book on historical swords and Raphael is to receive a new fedora hat. However, having stormed off earlier, he never formally receives it.

For Splinter, April brings an ancient Japanese scepter. This is possibly a reference to the “Sacred Sands of Time Scepter” featured in the original Eastman and Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic series and the crossover story featuring Dave Sim’s Cerebus character.

In feudal Japan, the man who was taken, Kenshin, is reproached for committing disgrace by his father, Daimyo Norinaga. Angry at the latter, Kenshin leaves his father’s presence and drives priests out of a temple. There, he finds the same scepter and reads the inscription on its handle: “Open Wide the Gates of Time”. Before Kenshin leaves, a British weapons-trader called Walker is introduced, along with his thug Niles.

In the twentieth century, April is looking at the scepter when it begins to emit light and a small device inside its lamp-like crown begins to spin. She is then sent to Kenshin’s time and place, and he to hers, exchanging clothes. Upon arrival, April is captured by the Daimyo’s soldiers. Lord Noringa blaming her for Kenshin’s disappearance, imprisons her.

The Turtles become friends with Kenshin and decide to travel back in time to retrieve April. They invite Casey Jones to watch over Splinter, then embark, warned by Donatello’s calculation that they have only 60 hours wherein to complete the rescue before the scepter ceases to enable time travel due to the time-space continuum being out of sync. Having been sent to Japan in exchange for Daimyo Norinaga’s Honor Guards, the Turtles arrive mounted on horses in the midst of a battle. Michelangelo, who is sitting backward on his horse, is separated from his brothers and captured by outlaws. The scepter goes with him and is ultimately seized by an unseen character. The other Turtles search for April. When they reach Norinaga’s fortress, presumably by infiltrating his army, they are quickly mistaken for Honor Guards, though they escape from the prospect of facing the Daimyo. They then follow Walker’s men to the prison and discover April.

There, the Turtles drive out Walker’s assistants, intimidate the jailer, and free April. They leave through a garbage-disposal chute. Escaping behind them is an Englishman called Whit, who is said to have rebelled against Walker, and who bears a strong physical resemblance to Casey (both parts are played by Elias Koteas).

In 20th-century New York, Kenshin is becoming impatient and worried. To placate them, Casey introduces him, and the Honor Guards, to ice hockey. However, this plan comically goes awry when the Guards believe that hockey consists of players beating one another.

An attack on the Turtles, who were again mistaken for the Honor Guards, leads them to Mitsu, leader of the rebellion against Lord Norinaga. Mitsu is a young, beautiful, courageous, and determined woman who intends first to overthrow the Daimyo and later to marry Kenshin so as to prevent another war. It is she who has imprisoned Michelangelo. Mitsu’s village is under attack by Walker and his men, who are searching for the scepter; therefore the Turtles rush to intervene. Michelangelo is released by two of Walker’s men, who think to earn a reward by restoring one of the Honor Guards confirmed as absent. Having seen his face and heard him speak, they plant the rumor among their partners that a demon is in the vicinity. When confronted by Michelangelo, the other Turtles, and Mitsu’s people, Walker flees. Michelangelo saves a boy named Yoshi from a fire, whereupon Leonardo revives the nearly dead child by means of CPR, for which the grateful villagers allow them to stay. Anguished by the loss of the scepter, the Turtles commission a local blacksmith to make a new one.

Walker uses the presence of the Turtles as an excuse to raise the price of guns sold by him to the Daimyo, arguing that the threat posed by demons is greater than the threat posed only by men. Norinaga, during the same conversation, reveals a legend stating that four kappa resembling the Turtles, had vanquished his ancestors, and suggests that they have returned to disgrace him. Although he initially refuses to pay more for the guns than the price originally set, he agrees later. Walker shows himself, in these interactions, to be greedy, manipulative, and without compassion.

Michelangelo tries to teach the village cooks to make pizza, but produces an inedible result. In a later scene, it is shown that he is apparently attracted emotionally to Mitsu; he learns that she wishes to marry Kenshin and reassures her that Kenshin will return when the Turtles have departed. Raphael, meanwhile, fulfills his potential patience and gentleness through the child Yoshi, whose name links him through an unclear means to Splinter’s mentor. He becomes very fond of this child and eventually considers him a younger brother.

A new scepter is completed, only to be broken by Michelangelo and Raphael during an argument over whether or not to stay. Mitsu then informs them that Lord Norinaga has guns and will attack the next day. Yoshi, fearing Raphael’s death, gives him the original scepter, which he (having apparently been its unseen captor earlier in the film) had hidden under the house where he lives. They are overjoyed to see it, but resent Mitsu for concealing it in order to force them to fight in the war. Mitsu is then kidnapped by Whit, who takes Mitsu and the scepter to Walker.

The Turtles set out to rescue Mitsu. In the process, they learn of the legend that has caused the Daimyo to fear them, regain confidence in themselves, and free many of those imprisoned, leading to a massive battle in the courtyard of Norinaga’s palace between the rebels and the daimyo’s army. Leonardo defeats Lord Norinaga in a sword duel, comically finishing him by cutting his hair (a disgrace to his status as a samurai), and then trapping him inside of a bell.

Walker, at the end of the battle captures April and threatens to kill her. His soldiers then take control of the battlefield, armed with guns. He orders the Turtles to be shot, whereupon Leonardo bluffs by drawing upon the belief (held insistently by Walker’s superstitious men) that he and his brothers are demons, saying that any bullets shot at them will ricochet and kill their senders. Baited by Leonardo to take the shot himself, Walker shoots at them with a cannon, but misses when Leonardo instinctively pulls his head into his shell. April and Whit, also targeted by the cannon (Whit having spoken against Walker’s order), duck their own heads to dodge the shot. The cannonball collides with the bell, freeing the shocked but largely unscathed Daimyo.

Walker’s soldiers are routed and he himself runs away. He obtains the scepter and a cage containing pet birds from his room, then climbs over the roof of the palace to a high point overlooking the ocean. He is there cornered by the Turtles. To distract them while escaping himself, Walker throws the scepter overhead and begins climbing down a scaffold. The Turtles form a chain with their bodies, holding onto a wall or fence at one end and catching the scepter at the other. Walker, realizing that he has forgotten his birds again, returns to retrieve them, whereupon Whit, realizing that his name is “lower than scum” in the eyes of the desirable April, uses a catapult to kill Walker by knocking him to his death in the ocean.

The Turtles then debate whether or not to go home, wishing to remain on grounds that they are appreciated and respected in feudal Japan, unlike 20th-century New York City where they must hide underground to avoid being targets of human xenophobia. Mitsu urges them to go, so that she may have Kenshin return to her, and makes a parting well-wish to Michelangelo, of whose soft spot for her she is aware and by which she is flattered. The scepter then activates, making their decision urgent. In New York City of the late twentieth century, Kenshin has activated it in his impatience to go home. Splinter counsels him not to abandon the Honor Guards, on the grounds that such an act would be cowardly. Casey gathers the Honor Guards, who have become infatuated with the trappings of their host society, and organizes their return to feudal Japan.

The Turtles ultimately decide to go home, based on the argument that their presence interferes negatively with the lives of the people of feudal Japan. Raphael bids Yoshi an affectionate farewell. As a result of his procrastination, Michelangelo fails to join April and his brothers. When they have returned to their native time, the Honor Guard who had replaced Michelangelo runs away, carrying the scepter. As he exits the Turtles’ den, the scepter activates, exchanging him for Michelangelo. Simultaneously, its powers of time travel (symbolized by the rotating device at its head) are destroyed. In Japan, Norinaga is taken prisoner and brought before Mitsu and Kenshin. He is surprised to see them both together, and more surprised to see his Honor Guard walk through the corridor, half naked and talking incoherently about anachronisms. When he has gone, having spoken no word but clearly shown his submission, Kenshin seizes Mitsu in imitation of a poster he had seen in the Turtles’ home and kisses her on the lips. Norinaga, presumably is reconciled with his son.

Michelangelo, perhaps thinking on the preceding scene, is depressed until Splinter puts the afore-mentioned lampshade on his (Splinter’s) head as a joke, whereupon both laugh. The film ends with another dance sequence by the Turtles.

REVIEW:

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III severely disappointed me. There is a level of excellence that the first two films established and this one just trampled all over that legacy, and ended the turtles big screen experience until TMNT.

First of all, I’m a little mixed on the plot. I mean on the one hand, it is something different, in that the first two films were street gangs working for Shredder, whereas this one is feudal Japan warriors and some sci-fi time travelling stuff. However, the story is not written well. I applaud them for coming up with a new concept for the plot, but the writer’s dropped the ball on this one. This seemed like it was a bad episode of the cartoon brought to life.

Character design was atrocious this time around. In all three films, they have been working to get things just right. In my opinion, though, they’ve gotten worse since the first. The turtles have spots? WTF?!? Where did those come from? Also, what as up with the teeth? To make things worse, they all look like rejects from a Chuck E. Cheese show, Splinter more than any of them. How can anyone screw something up this bad? The only worse design would be the nipples on the Bat-Suit!

The turtles personalities are a bit much. In the first film, they were more subdued, the second they let go a bit more, but still subtle. This time, though, it was like they couldn’t shut up. The only one who should be running his mouth that much is Michaelangelo. There is absolutely no need for Raphael, Donatello, and especially Leonardo to be cracking wise with almost every line that comes out of their mouths.

Paige Turco returns as April O’Neal, but the bigger news is the return of Eliaas Koteas as Casey Jones. Where he was in the second film I don’t know. For some reason, they felt he wasn’t important enough to be included in the second, but brought him back for a dual role in the third. Problem with that is that he doesn’t really do anything with either role, so you have to sit back, scratch your head and wonder why?

At least in this one the fighting scenes are actual fighting scenes and not just fancy prop work, like in the previous film. Some critics have said there weren’t enough of them. I’m not sure I agree or disagree with them on that, but one thing is for sure, if you’re going to bother making a movie about the turtles, why would you not want them fighting as much as you could?

The whole time travelling aspect was cool, but at the same time, it was confusing. I mean, you can only go back or forth in time if someone who weighs the same as you is near the scepter. It made no sense! That has to be the stupidest time travelling addendum I’ve ever heard of!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III is a huge letdown from its predecessors. I can’t even fathom how this was even made. As I said, it seems like it was meant to just be an episode of the cartoon, a bad one at that. In good conscience, I can’t recommend this to anyone unless you just want to see all the turtles’ films. Otherwise, you’d do best to skip it and go straight to TMNT.

2 out of 5 stars

The Hangover

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Doug (Justin Bartha) is about to be married to Tracy (Sasha Barrese). His friends — Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and soon-to-be brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis) — take him to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Tracy’s father (Jeffrey Tambor) lends them his car, a vintage Mercedes convertible, for the trip. The four get a villa at Caesars Palace hotel and casino, then sneak onto the roof and toast to the year ahead. The next morning, the three groomsmen wake up in the suite with no memory of the previous night and soon realize that Doug is missing. Clues abound: the suite is in severe disorder, a tiger is in the bathroom, a baby is in the closet, Stu is missing a tooth and has an ATM receipt for $800, one of the suite’s mattresses is impaled on a statue outside, Phil is wearing a hospital bracelet, and a valet brings them a stolen police cruiser they dropped off the night before, and a chicken is wandering around the room.

While retracing their steps, a doctor at the hospital informs them that they had traces of roofies in their blood explaining their memory loss, and that they came from a wedding. They find the chapel, and learn that Stu, despite planning to propose to his controlling girlfriend Melissa (Rachael Harris), married an escort named Jade (Heather Graham), who turns out to be the mother of the baby in the closet. In the parking lot, they escape an attack by two Asian gangsters who beat on the police car yelling “Where is he?”. Confused, the men visit Jade’s apartment and return the baby, but are taken by surprise by the police, the cruiser’s original owners, who arrest them for stealing their car. Phil negotiates their release in exchange for the three groomsmen “volunteering” as targets for a humiliating taser demonstration. They then retrieve the miraculously-unharmed Mercedes, which had been abandoned in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard, from an impound lot and discover a fully naked Asian man (Ken Jeong) in the trunk. The man attacks them with a crowbar and runs away, and Alan admits to spiking their drinks the night before with what he thought was ecstasy, but realizes the drug dealer must have sold him roofies instead. They return to the hotel and find former boxing champion Mike Tyson in their room, looking for his stolen tiger. Tyson knocks out Alan and orders them to return the pet to his mansion. They drug the tiger with roofies and transport it in the Mercedes, but before they reach Tyson’s mansion, it wakes up and destroys the car’s interior, forcing them to get out and push the car the rest of the way. After the tiger is returned, Tyson plays security footage of the groomsmen’s activities from the night before in an effort to help them locate Doug.

Resuming their search, the three are confronted by the thugs, who, as it turns out, are led by the Asian they found in the trunk of their car, an Asian gangster named Leslie Chow. According to Chow, the groomsmen have $80,000 of his money, which they accidentally took the night before. Chow demands it back in exchange for Doug, whom he has kidnapped. Unable to find the money, Alan uses his knowledge of card counting to win it playing blackjack similar in style to Rain Man. The money is repaid, but Chow had kidnapped a different man named Doug, who turns out to be the drug dealer who sold Alan the roofies. After a conversation with Doug the drug dealer, Stu remembers that hotel windows do not open in Las Vegas (mostly for the exact reason that they’re in this mess), and therefore the mattress on the statue must have been thrown from the roof, where they had most likely locked out Doug as a prank. Rushing back to the roof, they find him, weary and severely sunburned from being stuck there for a day and a half, with fewer than four hours before the wedding. Before leaving, Stu meets with Jade and the pair agree that they cannot remain married, but promise to meet the following weekend to see what develops between them. Jade also reveals that Stu had pulled out his own tooth on a bet from Alan declaring, “I bet Stu isn’t a good enough dentist that he could pull his own tooth out”. As they rush home and make it to the wedding, Doug reveals that he found Chow’s $80,000 worth of casino chips in his jacket pocket on the roof. Doug marries Tracy, Phil happily returns to his wife and son, and Stu proudly breaks up with Melissa. As the reception ends, Alan reveals Stu’s digital camera he discovered in the back seat of the Mercedes chronicling the events they were unable to remember, and the four agree to look at the pictures only once before erasing the evidence.

REVIEW:

For some reason I missed this when it was released in theaters last year and it has taken me up until now to get it from Netflix. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this picture, that is unless you count the one blogger that ripped it a new one for not giving the females anything to do. I’ll address that in a bit.

When I did my “2009 Movie Awards” post back in January, one reader commented, on my other blog, that this film should have won for best comedy. Now, the rules for the awards are that it has to be watched and reviewed during the year. Having said that, I can see how she would think that, and I can say that The Hangover will be a strong favorite for a couple of awards this year.

So, what do we have here? A film about guys headed to Vegas for a bachelor party and things somehow get so far out of hand that they end up having to have madcap adventures. This is comedy gold, people.

When the film started, I was thinking that maybe it was going to be a bit on the overrated side. It just didn’t seem like it was going to be that funny, then we meet Bradley Cooper’s character, and all hell breaks loose! Cooper is more or less the star of the film. I know some people will say that it is Zach Galifianakis that steals the show, but Cooper is both over the top and the glue that keeps things together at the same time.

The supporting cast is pretty good, too, but I can’t mention them without giving a nod to Ken Jeong. Talk about a show stealer. This guy is on the screen for maybe 10 minutes, tops, but you’ll remember those 10 minutes…partially becuse he’s naked for the first couple, but when he returns, his character is such a hoot, that you can’t help but crack u laughing each time he speaks.

Mike Tyson makes an unexpected cameo appearance. I’m still scratching my head about that one, and why he has a tiger that these guys just seemed to be able to walk off his property with, but I’ll suspend my disbelief on that one. Tyson plays himself, but at the same time he goes a bit overboard and has fun with the character. I sot of wish he would have had more screentime, but then again, this isn’t his film, so the brief time he got was enough.

There are 3 women to speak of in this picture. Sasha Barrese, who plays the bride to be, Rachael Harris, who is Ed Helms’  cold-hearted, overbearing, bitchy girlfriend, and Heather Graham, a warm, caring, single mother stripper/escort. All these women turn out great performances, and have nothing to be ashamed of. Could they have had more screentime? Sure, but this is a film about guys on a bachelor party weekend, so no they didn’t need anymore time than they got. Although, I wouldn’t have minded more of Sasha in a bikini or Heather Graham scenes.

As I mentioned before, some blogger said that these women’s roles were nothing more than a joke. To me this is a joke. I mean, if you know anything about this film before you watch it, then you know that there is no reason to expect to see some drama heavy, weepy, chick stuff. This is not a chick flick! These women didn’t complain when they took the roles, so why should anyone else try to raise a fuss?

*AHEM* Now that I’m off my soapbox, I do have a couple of complaints about this film. The first is that it is never really said how Bradley Cooper ended up in the hospital. I mean they show it in the final shot ,but we, the audience, never see it, and the snapshot montage doesn’t show what happened. Enquiring minds want to know. My other complaint has to do with the high-speed tux delivery. Seriously, if they can get their tuxes delivered in the middle of the freeway like that (it actually reminded me of that old Spy Hunter arcade game where you had to catch up with a truck to get new weapons and stuff while going hundreds of miles per hour), then why couldn’t they have changed on the freeway? I don’t know, it just seems like if they were in that big of s rush, every second would have counted, especially since they had to take the groom to the hospital after leaving and forgetting him on the roof where he got severely sunburned. That actually brings me to another point. He wasn’t handcuffed or anything, so other than the initial hangover, he should have been able to get up and head back down to the room or something, so why did he stay on the roof and end up having to go to his wedding looking like a lobster?

Yes, questions abound, but these aren’t enough to make for an unpleasant experience with this film. The Hangover is one of those films that comes along and sweeps everyone off their feet with how well it is made and how funny it is. There is no drama in this picture to speak of, except for a confrontation at the wedding. We get a bit of action and the comedy isn’t overpowering. I strongly recommend this to anyone, except those of you feminists out there who will get bent out of shape because the women are “allegedly” underrepresented in a film about a bachelor party.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Black Dynamite

Posted in Action/Adventure, Independent, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Black Dynamite, a former CIA agent, vows to clean up the streets after his brother is killed by a shady organization. O’Leary, Black Dynamite’s old CIA partner, reinstates Black Dynamite back into the agency because they do not want him seeking vengeance by himself. Trying to get to the bottom of his brother’s murder he finds out that his brother was actually working for the CIA. Black Dynamite also finds out the shady organization is filling the black orphanages with heroin. He declares war on local drug dealers and successfully cleans up the streets.

After discovering the government’s involvement in the drug ring, Black Dynamite steals the ledger belonging to the corrupt Congressman James. Dynamite and his team must storm the warehouse to capture a big shipment. They learn of code Kansas but find no drugs in the warehouse, only Anaconda malt liquor. In a diner they decipher code Kansas to be a plan to use Anaconda malt liquor to shrink black men’s penises. Back at the warehouse Black Dynamite finds O’Leary is part of the evil plan but is just following orders.

Black Dynamite heads to Kung Fu Island, where he discovers that the Fiendish Dr. Wu created the secret formula put in Anaconda malt liquor. After defeating him in battle, Black Dynamite discovers from Dr. Wu the true mastermind of the entire operation.

Black Dynamite then travels to the White House and confronts President Richard Nixon, who has been giving the orders from the beginning. After Black Dynamite defeats Nixon in a kung fu battle, he begs for his life and his plan is foiled.

REVIEW:

Shut you mouth jive turkey! Yep, you guessed it Black Dynamite is a blaxploitation picture, but, the catch is that it was done in modern times. In a manner similar to Quentin Tarntino’s Grindhouse films, as well as the upcoming Machete, this picture uses a lot of techniques and equipment long forgotten, such as no electronic instruments in the score.

Aside from making this actually look like it was filmed in the 70s, the filmmakers decided to do some spoofing of the genre. For instance, there is a scene where Black dynamite is talking and a boom mic comes down in the scene, in another one of the actors is reciting his lines, but includes the stage directions. Little things like this make this so much more the enjoyable film.

Look, this film was never meant to win anyone any awards for acting, so if you were expecting to see something on the level of a Meryl Streep performance, you’ll be  sadly mistaken. Having said that, though, the actors really get into their roles. I always find it refreshing to watch a film where it looks like they are having fun rather than just showing up for a paycheck. Sure the lines are cheesy, but this is set in the 70s and is also a spoof, so that’s to be expected. What impresses me is that they make it look like they were actually trying to make a serious film, when they all knew this was supposed to be nothing more than a spoof.

In the titular role, Michael Jai White has found a role that he can really sink his teeth into. He channels all the black heroes from the 70s and adds a bit of hisself into Black Dynamite and it works. I have to say, though, this guy is built like a truck. If they ever go through with Black Panther or Luke Cage films, he should be high up on the list. They wouldn’t have to build in any muscle if they do so.

Behind every great man, there has to be a great woman. In Black Dynamite’s case, there is Gloria, played by Salli Richardson. Look, I’m not gonna lie to you, she underwhelmed me with her performance. I don’t know, maybe I’ve seen to many Pam Grier blaxploitation flicks, but it seemed like she was trying to be her, and failing. Such a shame since she seems to be a very competent actress. I just wish she would have brought something a bit more original to the character, rather than just being a Grier clone.

The supporting cast is great, especially Tommy Davidson as Cream Corn. Yes, I said Cream Corn. Also, look for Arsenio Hall and Brian McKnight in the pimp meeting, as well as Nicole Sullivan in the film’s final scene, as Patricia Nixon.

The action is what you would expect from this type of flick..stylized, choreographed, and a bit cheesy. Of course, if it were any other way, it wouldn’t work as well.

As far as the plot goes…well, there are holes big enough to push a planet through, but if you’ve ever watched a blaxploitation film, you’ll know that they have the same issues, so I’ll chalk that up to capturing the true essence of the genre. I could have done with a little better pacing, especially at the beginning, though, but again, that is more to do with capturing the genre’s essence, as most, if not all, blaxploitation films seem to take forever to get going.

I don’t have much to say against this film. They did say that this was hilarious, though. Granted, there were some moments, but they were subtle. I realize this wasn’t meant to be a comedy, but I just think they could have played up those moments a bit more. Also, it would have been cool to maybe see scene that disappeared or is reversed because of the old camera, or perhaps that old popping sound, since this is supposed ot be filmed during the 70s.

Black Dynamite was only released to limited theaters. As a matter of fact, if not for reading about this on a movie blog when it was released, I wouldn’t have known about it. Hopefully, though, it will gain a cult, underground following, and maybe spur on a franchise. This not a character that needs to be one and done. This is not a film that needs to be sitting on the shelves collecting dust. It is too good. Not in terms of actual filmmaking, bu rather in terms of paying homage to the time period and capturing the techniques and such from that era.

This is not a film for everyone, though. I’m sure that someone out there will go out of their way to scream that it is racist, when it is no more racist than any other film that makes fun of racial differences and whatnot. Anyone that believes such things must not have a mind of their own, and as for those that start such things, they must have some extremely fruitless lives to come up with such incredible slander.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest…should you see this picture? My answer is an emphatic yes. There’s action, comedy, a bit of romance…something for everyone. How can you not like this?

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Pajama Game

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Sid (John Raitt) has just been hired as superintendent of the Sleeptite Pajama Factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He soon falls for Babe (Doris Day), a worker in the factory and member of the employee union’s leadership. At the company picnic they become a couple, but Babe worries that their roles in management and labor will drive them apart. She is correct. The union is pushing for a raise of seven-and-one-half cents per hour to bring them in line with the industry standard, but the factory’s manager is giving them a runaround. In retaliation, the workers pull a slow-down and deliberately foul up the pajamas, but when Babe actually sabotages some machinery, Sid fires her.

Meanwhile, Sid has been wondering what secrets the manager is hiding in his locked account book. To that end, he takes Gladys (Carol Haney), the boss’ assistant, on a date to the local hot spot, “Hernando’s Hideaway,” despite her insanely jealous boyfriend ‘Hinesie’ (Eddie Foy, Jr.). He gets Gladys drunk, and in this state, she lends him the key to the locked book. Returning to the factory, Sid discovers that the manager reported the raise has having been instituted months ago. He has been pocketing the difference, himself. Sid threatens to send the book to the board of directors if the raise isn’t paid immediately.

At the union meeting that evening, the manager agrees to the raise. When Babe realizes that it was Sid who engineered the raise, and that he has only been attempting to avoid labor strife, she returns to him.

REVIEW:

In concerts and whatnot dealing with musicals, I tend to hear a couple of the songs from this musical, “Steam HEat” and “Hernando’s Hideaway”. For some reason, though, I have never seen this in any form, stage or screen, until this afternoon.

First things first, you can’t talk about a musical without addressing the music. The songs here aren’t half bad. A few will be stuck in your head for days after you watch it, while other are there just to fill in some space and you’ll forget them almost as soon as they end. nothing wrong with that, though. Not every song can be as catchy as the showstopper, though. These “lesser” songs are, from a strictly musical standpoint, pretty good, but still come off a bit bland, yet they also seem to fit the scene that they accompany.

I didn’t know this when I was watching, but apparently the entire cast, except for Doris Day, reprises their roles from the Broadway version. I found this to be quote cool.

As much as I love Doris Day, though, she did not really work for me in this role. First of all, it seems to me that her character should have been more attractive. That’s not to say Day is ugly. Noy by any stretch of the imagination, but it just seems like they could have found a prettier woman to handle that role. As far as her singing goes, I don’t really know why, but it seems like she was holding back and it caused her to not really showcase her talents. It sort of like when you see someone on American Idol stink up the stage week after week, then after landing in the bottom 3and narrowly avoiding elimination every week, they turn up the heat and show American that they can truly sing again. Day’s singing was like those bad performances. You know she can sing, but she just didn’t get to show it for whatever reason. It left me a bit disappointed, as she was one of the major reason I wanted to watch this film.

While i’m sitting here ripping Doris Day a new one, I can’t help but commend Carol Haney for her masterful delivery of the musical’s biggest numbers. She has the pipes to handle those big songs and really belts them out.

On to the plot…well, there really isn’t much to say about it. There’s a guy that becomes the superintendent of a pajama factory on the verge of a strike because the boss won’t give the workers a 7.5 cent raise. along the way he meets and falls for the head of the Grievnce committee. Yeah, that’s the entire film. Does the plot sound a bit simplistic? Yes, but sometimes it’s the simplest things that work best.  Still, I wish there weren’t so many sudden shifts in scenes.

One of the best things about this picture is the tone. I love the overall tone and how it is full of fun and levity. I do wonder about this factory, though. They must have gotten some kind of discount on neon signs.

This is a really good film, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is great. There aren’t any major issues, except for some minor editing issues, that really aren’t that big of a deal in the long run. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a must-see unless you’re a musical fan, but it is one of those that you should see eventually.

3 out of 5 stars

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The town of Swallow Falls, located on a tiny island hidden under the “A” in “Atlantic” on the world map, suffers an economic downturn after the sardine market collapses (“right after everyone in the world realized that sardines are super gross”), leaving sardines as the only food in Swallow Falls. Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) is a teenage scientist whose inventions, beginning as a child when he created diamond-hard Spray-On Shoes, have all ended in disaster, including a Remote Controlled TV (it came to life and ran off), Hair Un-Balder (it grew too much hair), Flying Car (it didn’t fly), and Rat-birds (“they escaped and bred at a surprising rate”). Flint’s latest invention, Flint Lockwood’s Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator (or the FLDSMDFR), is a microwave machine that converts water molecules into food. It doesn’t work due to the lack of power at his home, so he is forced by his unsupportive and technophobic father, Tim, (James Caan) to work at his Bait and Tackle shop. Flint immediately sneaks out while his father is at the unveiling of Sardine Land, a new tourist attraction created by the 51-year-old Mayor (Bruce Campbell) and “Baby” Brent, (Andy Samberg) the famous teenage mascot. Flint, along with his pet monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris), hooks up the FLDSMDFR to the town’s power station. Unfortunately, the machine absorbs so much power that it takes off like a rocket, destroys Sardine Land, and flies up into the stratosphere. Flint escapes an angry mob, and hides under the docks. There he meets Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), a teenage weather intern whose big break was ruined by Flint’s “rocket”. When the two witness giant purple clouds raining cheeseburgers over Swallow Falls, Sam reports the events and mentions Flint is responsible. Flint becomes famous, with new foods raining down every day. The Mayor convinces Flint to create food every day that will turn Swallow Falls into a new tourist attraction called “Chewandswallow”. Flint also invents a machine called the Outta-Sighter to put uneaten food into a new “Mt. Leftovers” (“from which we are protected by a presumably indestructible dam”).

The town cop, Earl, (Mr. T) requests an ice-cream snow day for his son, Cal’s, (Bobb’e J. Thompson) birthday. This causes the FLDSMDFR to start becoming overloaded. After a date -or activity- with Sam in a massive Jell-O mold, where she told Flint about her past, Flint invites his father to dinner as a VIP at a roofless restaurant in order to impress him with his new success. Tim instead questions the wisdom of an endless supply of food when big steaks fall into the restaurant, which angers Flint. After storming off, Flint notices giant hot dogs falling from the sky, and heads to his lab to investigate. He deduces that the machine is overworking and tries to shut it off, but the Mayor (now morbidly obese) shows up, and convinces Flint that keeping the machine running is the only way to get people to like him. Under the Mayor’s request, Flint orders spaghetti and meatballs.

The next day while tourists from around the world are arriving, Sam tries to warn Flint about the storm that’s coming, but he refuses to believe her. After Flint cuts the ribbon, a spaghetti tornado destroys half the town. Sam angrily runs off while Flint returns to his lab to turn off the machine, but finds the Mayor ordering “dinner”. Flint tries to send a kill code to the FLDSMDFR, but the Mayor attempts to kill Flint by throwing a radish at him but instead throws it at the Satellite Dish of the FLDSMDFR (“Hey Flint…Its been nice to BEET you!”). Dismayed Flint asks the Mayor what he ordered, and the Mayor also dismayed says he ordered a Vegas-style “All You Can Eat” buffet. Earl’s son Cal falls into a “food” coma, and Sam cameraman, Manny (Benjamin Bratt) takes care of him, since he’s a doctor. Earl becomes enraged and the townspeople including Sam blames Flint for everything that has happened, and Flint decides he really is a failure, but his dad gets his confidence back. With the machine running wild, a food storm begins to cover the world, destroying famous landmarks with giant food, including New York City, the Eiffel Tower, Mt. Rushmore, London, and the Great Wall of China. Flint uploads the kill code to a flash drive and, along with Steve, Sam, Brent, and Manny (who is also a pilo), flies up into the stratosphere to destroy the FLDSMDFR, while the citizens and remaining tourists build sandwich boats to escape into the ocean, but the mayor takes his own boat and gets a head start, leaving the citizens to die. (He then starts eating his boat.)

Nearing the location of the FLDSMDFR, Flint and the others find it is inside in a giant “meatball”. They are attacked by mutant foods with artificial intelligence. Flint: “That was close. I mean, can you imagine if we lost this kill code?” The flash drive flies out the window. Flint, Sam, and Brent enter the meatball and make their way towards the FLDSMDFR. Flint calls his father and asks him to send the kill code from his lab computer to his cell phone. As Tim struggles to send Flint the kill code, the dam holding back Mt. Leftovers gives way and food covers the town, presumably crushing Tim. But he manages to survive the avalanche and sends the kill code. Flint is left to go on alone after Brent turns into a giant roasted chicken and Sam, who is allergic to peanuts, is cut by a shard of peanut brittle.

At the center of the meatball, Flint manages to plug his cell phone into the FLDSMDFR, only to discover that his father had accidentally sent a video of kittens singing “Fight the Powe.” The machine starts trying to shoot food at Flint. As the machine prepares to expel a final blast of giant food, Flint uses his Spray-On Shoes formula to block the spout, causing the FLDSMDFR and the meatball to explode. The giant food clouds around the world disappear, and Sam, Brent, Steve, and Manny manage to land safely. They at first assume Flint was killed in the explosion, but are relieved to find he has been saved by a flock of Rat-birds. Tim is finally able to express his love and admiration for his son by using Steve’s monkey-thought translator, and Sam and Flint share their first kiss. Meanwhile, the Mayor, after his defeat, is left lost at sea.

During the credits sequence, the town is renamed “Chewandswallow 2”. Flint and Tim are shown opening a business that uses the Spray-On Shoes formula as roof sealant. The mayor is “deflated” and arrested by Earl and Cal.

REVIEW:

Not to take anything away from this film, but it seems like everything that comes out in theaters these days is either a remake or based on a book. Are those dolts in Hollywood that dried up for ideas? I say this because when I first saw the ads for this film, I thought it was a bit on the absurd side and also that someone actually used their imagination and came up with an original idea. Granted, I was a bit wrong with the original idea part, but I’d much rather it be based on a book than be a remake.

As far as the absurdity part, other than the concept itself, which is a bit out there, this film doesn’t go over the top with anything. I mean, when you’re dealing with food falling from the sky because water is turned to food is hard to, pardon the pun, swallow. Especially when you notice that it’s perfectly cooked and dressed. This is where all you people who have no imagination and think everything has to be realistic and/or proven won’t enjoy this picture because, quite frankly, you have to be able to suspend your disbelief. If you can’t do that, then why even bother watching, because all you’re going to do is criticize, question, etc.

Speaking of the food, it obviously takes center stage here. This is a kid’s film, and the foods that fall from the sky are the kinds that kids love, with a few for the parents. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know any kid that likes crem brulee.

Casting is actually quite good, even if it does seem like they just raided the cast if Saturday Night Live to get the voices. Of course, having Mr. T as a voice never fails. I noticed something about his character, though. He had the opposite hairstyle to Mr. T, in that instead of a mohawk, he had a bald streak down the middle of his head. I wonder if that was intentional.

While I’m on the topic of what the characters looks like, Sam Sparks resembled Drew Barrymore. At least she did when she put on the glasses and pulled her hair back in a ponytail. I can’t help but wonder if Drew was meant to have been the voice for her instead of Anna Faris, or if it was just coincidence.

As with any family film, there is a touching scene near the end and a lesson learned, as well as a happy ending, but did you really expect there to not be?

I found it interesting that the musical score was done by former Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh. Honestly, I didn’t pay the score enough attention to say anything about it, but that is an accomplishment for Mark.

Everything bad I have to say about this film has to do with details, such as the machine somehow staying up in the sky. It was never said that it was some sort of weather satellite, but it turned out to be, so that kind of bothered me a bit. Why did the mother have to die? Couldn’t she have been there when Flint was a grown up? Has he had those spray on shoes on since that show and tell? Surely there has to be a way to get them off. What mus showers be like for him. At least he doesn’t have to buy socks.

The climax is pretty impressive. This was released in 3D, so I can imagine seeing a giant spaghetti tornado coming at you in 3D would have been impressive.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is one of those films that captures the imagination, heart, and the longer you watch it, the hungrier you get. This is an underrated film, in my opinion, but I think that is due to the competition in the animation category it had to face when it came out.  I can only imagine what would happen if someone did make a machine like this. Oh wait…i know…the government would think they’re entitled to it and use it as some sort of weapon, rather than an aid to hunger-stricken countries. That thought aside, this is a really enjoyable film that all should see. You’re sure to enjoy it as much as I did.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Master of Disguise

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The plot is centered on Carvey as “Pistachio Disguisey”, a simple-minded member of an Italian family with supernatural skills of disguise. The patriarch of the Disguisey family (Brolin), Pistachio’s father, is kidnapped by archvillian Devlin Bowman (Spiner), who plans on brainwashing him to steal a variety of priceless artifacts and sell them on the black market.

A prominent subplot in the film is Pistachio’s propensity to be attracted to women with unusually big butts, and his frustrations in love. Despite initial hesitation, he is eventually drawn to his assistant (Jennifer Esposito), despite her relatively small backside. The film also acknowledges “The Godfather” when the grandfather comes out of a car in the night with blue light and Tubular Bells played.”That is crazy… so crazy it just might work.” an overused catchphrase of Disguisey.

REVIEW:

Ever have one of those films that holds special memories for you, no matter how good or bad it is? Well, for me, Master of Disguise is such a picture. When this came out in theaters, I didn’t see it in a theater, but rather at a drive-in. Yes, I said drive-in. It was actually a double feature with Men in Black II.

So, nostalgia aside, this comedy vehicle is meant to do one thing and one thing only, showcase Dana Carvey’s talent at doing voices. It does that successfully, but every other aspect of the film falls flat

Jennifer Esposito makes for good eye candy, but that’s about it. She makes an attempt to actually give her character some depth nad feeling, but it just doesn’t work.

Brent Spiner looks hilarious with the goatee, but for some reason he works as a villain. At the same time, I can’t help but think that he’s just Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation gone haywire.

Harold Gould is good as the grandfather, but why did they make him disappear for more than half the film? He could have been used for so much more during the picture.

Plotwise…well,it has its ups and downs. I like the fact that he’s trying to live up to the family name and save his parents, but were all the big butt jokes necessary? On top of that, the mind control drugs just didn’t work for me. I’m not sure if it was the fact that they only mentioned them in passing or if I just didn’t belive them, but something didn’t click about that part of th plot.

There are funny moments. This is Dana Carvey after all. The best of which is the scene in the turtle club, but for the most part, I was let down on the comedy front.

It is so hard to find a good family comedy these days. This could be one of those, if you take out the butt jokes. I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch this, though. Save for a couple of redeeming factors here and there, you’d really be wasting your time. I hate to sound like I’m bashing this film, but I honestly can’t find enough redeeming qualities to give it a good rating.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Hitman

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on March 23, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens with a montage showing a group of bald children receiving tattoos of bar codes and receiving training in firearms and hand-to-hand combat. In these scenes, it is shown that those boys are raised to be assassin and trained to kill.

Interpol agent Mike Whittier discovers Agent 47 in his study, where the two talk. The scene flashes back three months, as 47 is completing a hit in Niger. He receives a communication from his Agency contact, Diana, and is told he is to kill his next target, Russian President Mikhail Belicoff, publicly. 47 completes his mission as ordered.

Before 47 can leave the city, he’s told there’s a witness—Nika Boronina. However, when he confronts her, he realizes she’s never seen him before. As he walks away a civilian next to him is shot and he continues his calm walk knowing that the assassin won’t dare shoot again. He then discovers that Belicoff’s death has been covered up; a double is now playing the part, and the assassination attempt is being portrayed in the media as a grazing wound.

47 is soon targeted for assassination himself by his own people. He is told by Diana that “Belicoff” ordered the hit on himself. Meanwhile, Mike Whittier and his partner have been informed of 47’s whereabouts. They encounter the FSB, led by Yuri Marklov, who sends in an emergency response team to capture 47. 47 escapes.

47 kidnaps Nika, who was about to be killed by her driver, and questions her. She suggests 47 may have killed one of Belicoff’s doubles, but 47 is sure he killed the real one. The two try to leave by train, but are intercepted by the Agency’s assassins. 47 defeats four of them, including the assassin who tried to assassinate him earlier. He also shoots Mike Whittier in his bulletproof vest, but spares his life at Nika’s request.

47 arranges a meeting with Agent Smith of the CIA. Smith reveals to 47 that Belicoff’s opponents ordered the hit on the real Belicoff, in order to replace him with a double who is loyal to them. He is working with Yuri and an unseen cabal as part of a plot to have a puppet leader in control of Russia. In exchange for an undisclosed favor, as well as some incriminating documents that would be found should 47 be killed, 47 offers Belicoff’s brother, Udre, a slave trafficker, narcotics and arms dealer. Smith accepts the deal.

47 and Nika travel to Turkey, where 47 kills Udre. Udre promises to help kill his own brother, the president, in exchange for his own life. 47 then shoots him. As a result, Belicoff’s double, needing to play his role, is forced to attend Udre’s funeral. 47 kidnaps Yuri and forces him to have his own FSB agents try to shoot Belicoff as he delivers a eulogy for Udre. Disguised as a soldier, 47 manages to kill all of Belicoff’s guards and takes him into the archbishop’s chamber in the church. 47 has a small conversation with Belicoff – Belicoff tries to peacefully reason with 47, saying the Russian people will never let him get away with assassinating the president, that 47 had done his job very well, and that he could negotiate for 47 to leave in peace. 47 instead kills him. He then allows himself to be taken into custody by Interpol and Mike Whittier.

At this point, Agent Smith delivers on his end of the deal, having the agents under his command intercept the police convoy, giving 47 the distraction necessary to escape. The scene then flashes forward to the conversation between Whittier and 47 occurring at Whitter’s house. After wrapping up their conversation, 47 reveals the body of Mr. Price, shaved and dressed to look like 47. They make a deal in which Whitter will go along with 47’s plan, admitting that the body in his home is the real 47. As 47 leaves, he turns to Whittier and says that he hopes to never see Whittier again.

The scene then changes to Nika, who is shown picking up an envelope from an undisclosed sender. Inside it, there are papers and a message saying that she now owns a vineyard (she had told 47 of her childhood dream of having one). Meanwhile, 47 is watching her from afar, through the scope of his sniper rifle. He then looks at the corpse of another hitman, lying close to him, and says, “I told you to leave her alone. You should have listened.” He then turns back, and walks away.

REVIEW:

I’ve only played the Hitman game once. I think it was the second one, and I got it for free in a 2 for 1 deal. Can’t say as I liked the game itself, but the story was awesome, so when I found out they were bringing it to the big screen, I was a bit on the excited side.

As with more and more films these days, critics all but panned this film. I don’t really understand why.

Timothy Olyphant would not have been my first choice to be Agent 47. For some reason I was thinking Vin Diesel, but that may be because of the baldness. Olyphant owns this role, which is really saying something when you consider that 47 isn’t the most charismatic, but rather enigmatic character to portray. Here Olyphant gets to show off his action chops, and despite previous misconceptions, he handles himself exceedingly well.

You always have to have eye candy in films like these. In Hitman, we get a stripper played by Olga Kurylenko. If you’ve ever seen pictures of Olga, then you can really see the level of hotness she possesses. Unfortunately, you don’t really get to see it here. There a couple pf flashes, but for the most part she dirtied up and dolled down here, which is ok. Beautiful actresses have to do that on occasion. As far as her acting goes…well, she was ok, but nothing to write home about. Since most of her scenes were with 47, who is a very stoic character, you’d think they’d have had her play up a more playful side, rather than just be some kind of attachment to him. At least that’s how I saw it.

It seems as if every film I watch these days has some FBI, CI, or other similar service agent obsessed with capturing their target to the point of jeopardizing any and everyone around them. That was pretty much the case here with Mike Whittier, played by Dougray Scott. No, he didn’t go to all kinds of extremes to capture 47, but he did think he knew every little thing about him, and assumed that he was the foremost authority and knew the best was to capture him.

I would have liked to have seen more action, but from what I remember of the game I played, it’s not exactly action packed. As far as I can tell, this is a faithful adaptation to the source material. Still, more action would have been nice.

Speaking of the action, the best scene for me had to happen on the train where all the hitmen have this showdown of sorts. They put away their guns and pull out swords and go into the beautiful fight scene. It was great!

Video game films don’t exactly have the track record of their comic book counterparts, but I think in time that will change. 10-15 years ago if you had said that some of the biggest films were based on comic books, 9 out of 10 people would laugh at you.

Hitman may not be the best picture, but it does deliver on everything it promises. A good story, action to back it up, and it stays true to its roots…something almost every film decides not to do these days. Yeah, there are people who will find thins film boring or whatever, but that’s ok. not every film is for everyone. Don’t judge it until you see it. I’ve seen it and I say its pretty good. Why not take the time and check it out.

4 out of 5 stars

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

At the beginning of the film, Turtles have been forced to live with their friend the news reporter April O’Neil because the Foot Clan know the whereabouts of their lair in the sewers. While the Turtles are looking for a new home, they encounter a pizza delivery boy named Keno, who is trying to fight off a band of robbers by means of his skill as a martial artist, whereupon the Turtles intervene on his behalf. Viewers later see that the Foot Clan, no longer as large as it was in the first film, have retreated to a large junkyard, where Master Tatsu, Shredder’s second in command, attempts to take control of the gang, but is challenged by Shredder himself. Shredder was thought to be dead, as a result of falling from a rooftop into a garbage truck’s trash compactor after a short battle with Splinter at the end of the first film. He now appears physically deformed and obsessed with obtaining revenge, to achieve which he sends a Foot member to pose as an intern at the news network and trail April.

April is shown making a report on the efforts of an industrial organization known as Techno Global Research Industries (TGRI for short) to neutralize pollutants that have resulted from their experiments. Soon after her interview of him, chief scientist Professor Jordan Perry discovers that toxic waste produced by the company has caused mutation in nearby dandelion plants, producing exponential growth. The Foot member posing as an intern informs Shredder of this, whereupon Shredder proceeds to dispatch the Foot Clan to obtain some of the waste. Splinter, seeing the report on television, shows the Turtles and April the canister of “ooze” that had caused himself and the Turtles to mutate into their present forms, revealing that it was made by the TGRI and evidently contained the same substance that triggered the overgrowth of the afore-mentioned dandelions. The Turtles infiltrate the TGRI offices to seize a sample of the ooze, only to encounter Tatsu and the Foot. Despite the Turtles’ efforts to stop them, Tatsu and the Foot escape, taking the last canister of ooze and Professor Jordan Perry with them. Shredder later instructs Perry to use the ooze to transform a snapping turtle and a wolf into monsters, creating the characters Tokka and Rahzar. Perry does this, but because Perry altered the ooze before giving it to Shredder, it does not increase the intelligence of the mutants, making them infantile in intellect. As a result, when Shredder tells them to call him “Master”, they misinterpret this and call him “Mama” instead, enraging him. He then orders Tatsu to kill them; however, when he sees a demonstration of their immense strength, he decides to use them as weapons. He releases them into city streets, where they amuse themselves by causing damage and wreaking havoc.

Raphael goes alone to pursue the Foot while the other three Turtles find a new lair in an abandoned subway station. With the assistance of Keno, the Foot headquarters located on Lairdman Island (home to the origin of the Ooze) off the coast of New York City is infiltrated, but Raphael is eventually captured by Shredder. Keno is able to inform the others, who go to save Raphael. After rescuing Raphael and Professor Perry, being themselves aided by Splinter, the Turtles are vanquished in battle by Tokka and Rahzar. Later, Professor Perry explains that the ooze was created as the result of discarded chemicals accidentally combining after being exposed to radiation in a lab accident, sending Donatello into a brief funk before Splinter assures him that he cannot judge his life on how it began, but only on what it is. Learning that Shredder intends to release Tokka and Rahzar into populated areas unless the Turtles confront them, Professor Perry and the Turtles attempt to develop an antidote to the ooze’s effects. After creating a successful formula, they trick their enemies into ingesting it by hiding it in doughnuts and appealing to Tokka and Rahzar’s hunger. Tokka and Rahzar eat some, but soon discover the antidote and become enraged.

The Turtles find themselves confronting the Shredder’s mutants at a nightclub, in full view of every guest and performer. To appease the initial panic, the club’s singer Vanilla Ice improvises a rap song whose refrain is “Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!”, which is then sung as background music to the fights taking place in the club. Acting on Perry’s advice, the Turtles use fire extinguishers to stimulate a swift activation of the antidote by spraying carbon dioxide into their enemies’ throats, accelerating the anti-mutagenic process. The mutation is reversed, reducing the two monsters to their natural forms. The Shredder then arrives at the club and menaces all who are present. To defeat him, the Turtles use a sound amplifier to magnify a single noise produced by a musical instrument, resulting in a powerful sound-wave that throws the Shredder out of the club and into the area among the docks below.

Here, Shredder uses a vial of ooze to become a superior form of himself, extemporaneously called Super-Shredder. While fighting underneath a pier, the Super-Shredder, desperate to destroy the Turtles and heedless of all else- his simple speech pattern of various grunts suggests that his intellect has been reduced as well-, wrecks the structure, bringing it down on himself. The Turtles escape by utilizing their amphibious nature. Then, they note Shredder’s hand emerges from the wreckage, but moments later falls down, indicating that he has died.

The Turtles return to their new lair, where Splinter asks whether they were seen. They deny it (insisting that they practice “the art of invisiblity”), until Splinter displays a newspaper having a front-page picture of them, taken at the nightclub where they fought Tokka and Rahzar. Splinter advises them to practice harder, then orders them to perform ten flips each, reminding them with the line “Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!”. The screen freezes as they begin the first flip, whereupon Splinter is heard shouting “I made another funny! Ha ha ha ha!”, implying that either he made up the newspaper story, or that the “funny” that Splinter made was merely stating the phrase “Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!”. the “I made another funny” statement is implying he was there too and was not seen but the turtles were.

REVIEW:

I remember when this film came out. Vanilla Ice and the turtles were two of the hottest things around, along with The Simpsons and Married…with Children. My how things have changed since then.

Sequels are meant to me as good, if not better, than the original. Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is about equal with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There are moments n both films that are superior to the other, as well as moments that are inferior.

THe most glaring thing, good or bad, for me are Tokka and Razhar. First of all, these two are obviously meant to be Bebop and Rocksteady, so why couldn’t they have just used Bebop and Rocksteady. Second, they look cheap. It’s not like the turtles look state of the art or anything, but these two looked like they were recycled from Chuck E. Cheese or something. On top of that, why were they babies? Everytime I watch this, I wonder that very thing.

Similar to the previous film, the Shredder is once again a skinny wimp looking man whose helmet probably weighs more than he does. You’d think they’d have found a better actor for this. Geez, they could have used the guy that was Tatsu. They also don’t really explain how he survives being crushed by a garbage truck in the previous film.

I will say that Kevin Nash as the Super Shredder is more of the Shredder I expect. A big, imposing guy.

Apparently, the filmmakers felt the need to tone down the violence, so the turtles don’t really use their weapons. This is a joke. It’s not like they go around slicing heads off or anything. Nothing wrong with using good, old-fashioned karate and instincts, or whatever, but they have the weapons for a reason.

Paige Turco takes over as April O’Neil, and I must say she is not only prettier, but more convincing as April. I do wonder what happened to Casey Jones, though.

I don’t really have any problem with the plot. It is a nice story that keeps the audience’s interest. The action is similar to the first, a bit cartoony, but expected.

At times the turtles’ quips were a bit much, but nothing that I can’t look past.

As a lifelong turtles fan, I’m either going to love or hate this film, regardless of how good or bad it is. Having said that, I looked at this with unbiased eyes and found that it really is a good, entertaining film. If you like the turtles, you get a bit more of the cartoony aspects of them in this one, as opposed to the comic lore in the first film. I didn’t really understand the need for Keno, other than they just HAD to have another human around besides April, and the fact that he knows martial arts, lets him replace Casey Jones as well that Danny kid from the last film.

So, the big question is…should you take the time to watch this? Well, it’s a good action comedy. If you’re looking for a violent, profanity-laden, mushy type flick, then this isn’t for you, but if you’re in the mood for a family friendly action film, I strongly recommend Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. 

4 out of 5 stars

Beverly Hills Cop III

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

During an assignment in Detroit, Axel Foley’s boss Inspector Todd gets killed, and certain evidence points towards an amusement park called “Wonderworld”. Axel Foley returns to Beverly Hills, California to search for Todd’s killer. Upon arriving in Beverly Hills, Axel looks up his old friend, Billy Rosewood, who has attained the title of DDOJSIOC (Deputy Director of Joint Special Inter-Operational Command). Foley’s investigation into Wonderworld reveals that the park’s private security force is a murderous counterfeit ring, operating under the command of Todd’s assassin, security boss Ellis DeWald (Timothy Carhart), and park manager Orrin Sanderson (John Saxon).

The dialogue in the film reveals that Sergeant Taggart has retired; a detective named Jon Flint (played by Hector Elizondo) is effectively Rosewood’s partner in the movie. The whereabouts of Andrew Bogomil is not mentioned (promoted to Police Chief at the end of the last movie). In the first scene in Rosewood’s office, a framed photograph of himself, Foley, Taggart and Bogomil can be seen; this is the same photograph glimpsed in Bogomil’s home in Beverly Hills Cop II.

REVIEW:

Here we have the thrid installment of the Beverly Hills Cop franchise. Many think, or thought, this was the final film, but rumors are that there will be a fourth film. If you’ve seen any of Eddie Murphy’s moves starting with this one up until now, you can all but point back to this as the one where he more or less lost what had made him a successful movie star. What I mean by that, is that the first two films were vintage Eddie, full of life, comedy, wisecracks, and the action came when it needed. Here, it’s the opposite. Apparently, the years have made Axel Foley even more of a rebel against the system, as he does just about everything opposite of what is told/asked of him, and save for some interaction with Bronson Pinchot, he seems to have forgotten that he was a comedian first. I ask you, Eddie, where is the funny?

The plot of this thing seems like they had some ideas on a dartboard and this is the one they hit. Now, don’t get me wrong, the whole vengeance on the dead boss, and corruption at the local amusement park (Disney Land wannabe)…oh, and the corrupt FBI agent, are alright, but when you put them all together, it is a bit much. It was a bit overkill, coupled with the return of an obscure character, Serge, from Beverly Hills Cop, as opposed to bringing back more relevant characters from the first films, and it just made no sense how this picture came together.

I don’t want to make it sound like Bronson Pinchot’s character wasn’t enjoyable. As I mentioned before, his interaction with Murphy make for some of the best lines in the film. It’s just that he was such a minor character in the first film, that bringing him back was an odd choice, if you ask me, especially if they could have just as easily brought back the girl he worked with that was friends with Foley. That would have made more sense, but again, I don’t want to take anything away from Serge.

Since we didn’t get said girl, the “eye candy” in this film is Theresa Randle. Not too shabby, but she falls into that trap of being in limbo between a strong woman or your typical damsel in distress. For me, I think she would have worked better more as the former, who just happens to get kidnapped, which is sort of what happened, except she almost immediately falls for Foley.

There is the return of Judge Reinhold to be excited about. He has this fancy new position, tha I’m not going to even try to type here, but no Taggart. Apparently he retired. In reality, he and Bogomil had scheduling conflicts by the time they finally got this thing off the ground. Reinhold is typical Billy. If you’ve seen the first two films, then you know what to expect.

Hector Elizando joins the cast as more or less a replace,ment for Taggart. If I didn’t know better, though, I’d have though he was playing Taggart’s character. Whoever wrote the script for this guy must not have wanted to do the extra work fo creating a new character for Elizando and just altered some of the original lines from what was there Taggart.

Villainy in this franchise has been a bit diabolical, but none have been as cold-hearted or ahead of the game as Ellis DeWald. As a former cop, he knew how they thought, and it showed, but in the end, he didn’t factor in a wild card like Foley. To pull off a character like this who just goes around shooting people in cold blood and shows no fear or emotion of any kind, as proven when one of his men asks for help and he just pushes him out of the truck, you need an actor capable of doing so. This was masterfully done by Timothy Carhart.

I don’t have a huge problem with sequels, at least not in comparison to my thoughts on remakes and reboots. however, I am not a fan of waiting long periods of time to do the next film. If you’re going to do the film, do it. I’m not saying that you should rush it into production, but if you’re gonna wait 7 years between films, then make it worth the wait. Unfortunately, this was not worth it. As a matter of fact, this was nothing more than a smack in the face to its predecessors. Of course, with almost all new people behind the cameras on this thing, that really shouldn’t be a surprise.

I tend to not listen to the critics until after I see a film for myself, but there are just sometimes when you just can’t help it. In this case, they were right…and wrong. This is the worst film in the franchise, but it isn’t as bad as they say it is. There are moments that make it worthwhile, but at the same time there are other moments that leave you scratching your head wondering WTF?!? As I mention earlier, the action pushes the comedy to the backseat. Furthermore, it is obvious that most of the scenes in the amusement park were filmed in front of a green screen. This is ok for films up until the mid 80s, but after then, the technology exists to get out there and film on location. Just another qualm I have with this picture. I guess if you want to know whether you should watch it or not, all I can say is that it wouldn’t hurt, but don’t expect much. It doesn’t suck, but it barely manages to be an average film.

3 out of 5 stars

All About Steve

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , on March 20, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Mary Horowitz (Sandra Bullock) is a crossword puzzle writer for the Sacramento Herald. As brilliant as her puzzles are, having an encyclopedic mind also makes her socially awkward. On a blind date set up by her parents, Mary meets Steve Muller (Bradley Cooper), a cameraman for a cable news channel. Steve turns out to be handsome and charming, and Mary is immediately smitten even after a not-so-romantic first date. Mary’s infatuation is not reciprocated by Steve, but she is egged on by newscaster Hartman Hughes (Thomas Haden Church), who enjoys seeing his cameraman Steve suffer. After being fired from her job for creating a crossword titled, “All About Steve”, Mary decides to follow Steve around the country. Mary meets and is driven around the country by protesters Elizabeth (Katy Mixon) and Howard (DJ Qualls). While following Steve, the group experiences a tornado, but survives. Eventually Mary falls into a mine shaft while following Steve, causing her and Steve to become a story themselves. Mary is trapped in the mine with a deaf girl. Mary discovers a way that they can escape, and is then joined by Hartman, who failed at being a hero but still helps her. Mary realizes that she does not need Steve to be happy — she has friends. She then states, “If you need to stalk a guy, he probably isn’t right for you in the first place.”

REVIEW:

When there is talk about America’s sweetheart, not enough mention is given to the woman that truly epitomizes that title. All About Steve demonstrate how much of a sweetheart Bullock really is.

To my knowledge, I haven’t had any stalkers, so I can’t relate to Bradley Cooper’s character here. That is one of he problems with this film. Cooper is one of te stars of the film, yet his character is very…gee, I dunno…wooden. Emotion is shown, mostly in the form of paranoia and care and concern after the film’s denouma.

Sandra Bullock really sells this character. It is quite obvious that she got into this role. It is really a shame that everyone bashes this film and says that it is her worst performance. I don’t understand why. I’ve seem worse from her. The part that did get on my nerves, though, was how she couldn’t seem to pick up on the signals from DJ Qualls’ character. Even I could see that this guy was in love with her!

DJ Qualls and Katy Nixon make a couple of good secondary characters, although both are tragically underused. I had just wrapped my mind around the fact that they just weren’t going to get much airtime when the cave-in scene stuff  happened. That just seemed like the perfect place for them to open up and shine through while our main character is down a hole.

Thomas Haden Church seem to really relish and shine in these roles that allow his to play the not-so-bad bad guy. That is the guy who you think is cool when you first meet him, only to find out his true intentions.

The sign of a good romantic comedy is does it make you laugh as well as feel for the lead character (typically a female). All About Steve does just that, all while being accused of ruining Sandra Bullock’s career. I don’t understand the hate towards this picture, other than it is being compare to her Oscar-winning follow-up The Blind Side. The comparisons are really unnecessary, as people don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the two roles are as opposite sides of the spectrum as possible.

Having said all that, I did come away from this film with a feeling of warmth. This is just a feel-good movie that is totally getting a bum rap. Please take the time to watch and see for yourself.

4 out of 5 stars

12 Rounds

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , on March 20, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens in an FBI operation to catch a nearly untraceable, internationally-known terrorist, named Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen). New Orleans Police Officer Danny Fisher (John Cena) and his partner bump into the getaway car of Jackson and his Fiancée (Taylor Cole). After Danny chases the car on foot, he manages to stop them. Jackson’s girlfriend is, however, killed, when she is run over by a truck after trying to make a run for it. One year later, Danny and his partner have been promoted to detectives. Jackson has escaped prison and planned his revenge on Fisher in a game he calls “12 Rounds”. He kidnaps Fisher’s girlfriend Molly Porter (Ashley Scott) and forces him into a series of dangerous games, carefully plotted throughout the streets of New Orleans. Fisher struggles to keep focus while the obvious ticking clocks and crude consequences that accompany each one of the “rounds” do their best to derail him from rescuing the love of his life before it’s too late.

REVIEW:

I know what you’re thinking…John Cena in a movie? WTF?!? Why should I even bother? Well, I’ll be honest with you. I thought the same thing, byt finally caved in and gave this film a shot.

The verdict is that this is an exciting action/thriller. I wasn’t a fan of the beginning, as they spent a bit too long introducing the characters and plot for my taste. I don’t know…I just feel they could have shoortened this up a bit.

The “game” that was played between Cena and the villain, Miles Jackson, is what makes this film, not to mention gives it the title, 12 Rounds. Obviously, it is the bulk of the film, and with good reason. Each task has the viewer on the edge of their seat wondering if Cena will accomplish the task and save his girl.

I did have issue with these action packed scenes, though. First and foremost, who is gonna pay for all the damage done to the city of New Orleans, as well as personal property, such as all the cars that were destroyed when he ram them over with a fire truck. I know insurance doesn’t cover that, so it is a bit intriguing.

It seems to be  recurring theme here lately in films that I watch, as well as on TV, that the FBI agents think that just because they’re government employees or whatever that they are in charge, I know that they outrank the local police and all, but when a man’s wife is in danger, the last thing that is going to be on his mind is decorum. Steve Harris comes off as cocky, arrogant, and too much involved with himself for a FBI officer. I was glad when he got punched in the face. He more than deserved it.

Obviously, in cinema you have to hav a hot wife, no matter who you. The problem is that the token eye candy, Ashley Scott, isn’t used for anything more than the token hostage. I’m pretty sure she’s more than talented enough to have received a better role. Still, she coul have done better than be the hot chick in the her first scenes, a nagging housewife and for the rest of the film nothing more than just a damsel in distress. Just seemed like a bit of a waste if you ask me.

WWE is known for wrestling. Thier last non-wrestling venture was the XFL, which wasn’t the best football league around, but it was football, so what can you say? 12 Rounds takes us on an exciting ride that is filled with twists and turns that keep the viewer from falling asleep. John Cena is the focal point of the film, and rightfully so. Sure his acting leaves something to be dissed. If they intended on making him the next Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, he need to develop some mor charisma, but in terms of career after wrestling, this is a start. As far as this being worth watching, it really is. No, it isn’t the best picture in the world, but it is enjoyable and entertaining.

4 out of 5 stars