Archive for May, 2010

The Next Karate Kid

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 30, 2010 by Mystery Man


Keisuke Miyagi (Pat Morita) travels to the city of Boston to attend a commendation for Japanese American soldiers who had fought in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II. There, he meets Louisa Pierce (Constance Towers), the widow of his commanding officer, Lieutenant Jack Pierce. At Pierce’s home, they catch up on old times and talk about Chinese food. Miyagi is then introduced to Pierce’s granddaughter, Julie Pierce (Hilary Swank) an angry teenage girl who has become full of pain, sorrow, and consequent resentment because of the death of her parents in a car accident. Her rage and violent behavior have led to friction between her, her grandmother, and fellow students. She is also in disgrace for sneaking into the school at night to care for an injured hawk, named Angel, whom she keeps in a pigeon coop on the roof. Hoping to mend matters, Miyagi sends Louisa to his own house in California to become his gardener while he leaves California for Boston and appoints himself as Julie’s caretaker. At the Boston school, Julie meets and befriends Eric McGowen (Chris Conrad), a kindhearted train-security guard and a pledge for a fraternity known as the Alpha Elite. The members of this organization are taught to strictly enforce the school rules, using physical force if necessary, by a stern and relentless mentor; Colonel Dugan (Michael Ironside). In this group is Colonel Dugan’s strongest and most aggressive student Ned (Michael Cavalieri), who makes repeated, indiscreet and unsuccessful attempts to flirt with Julie. Eric learns of Julie’s injured hawk Angel and promises to feed and water Angel while Julie is with Miyagi.

When Julie survives almost being hit by a car by jumping into a tiger position, she reveals to Miyagi that she was taught karate by her father, who, as it turns out, was taught by Miyagi. The next time she sneaks into the school to feed her bird, she is detected by the Alpha Elite, apprehended by the police and suspended from school for two weeks. Miyagi takes this time to take Julie to a Buddhist monastery in order to teach her the true ways of karate. At the monastery, Julie learns, through direct lessons, respect for all life; balance; co-ordination; awareness; and some limitability. She befriends several monks including the Grand Abbot. Eventually, the monks hold a birthday party for her, giving her a cake and an arrow that Miyagi had caught while it was in flight in a demonstration of Zen archery. Upon Julie’s return to school, she finds that Angel is now able to fly, and is assisted by Miyagi in releasing her back to the wild. In preparation for the upcoming school prom, Miyagi then teaches Julie how to dance and also buys her a white dress. While Julie goes to the dance with Eric, Miyagi and the Buddhist monks go bowling. A boastful and undisciplined local player challenges them, loses the match, and accepts their tutelage. During the dance party, Ned and his fellow Alpha Elite members disrupt the dance for no particular reason by bungee-jumping from the ceiling of the gymnasium for no reason at all. When Eric confronts Ned about the disruption Ned berates Eric for not being brave enough to attempt the extremely random bungee-jump into the prom maneuver.

Eric drives Julie home and kisses her as they prepare to part ways. Ned follows them and damages Eric’s car with a baseball bat. Ned then challenges Eric to a fight at the docks, a favored Elite hangout. At the fight, Ned is joined by Colonel Dugan and the rest of the Alpha Elite. They set fire to his car, as well as to several other objects in the area, and severely beat Eric. Eric is saved by Julie and Miyagi. As they prepare to leave, Ned challenges Julie to fight. Julie fights, using the karate she has learned, until Ned cheats by throwing sand into Julie’s face. Julie eventually defeats Ned and turns her back on him. This prompts Colonel Dugan to desperately bully the rest of his group, urging them to continue the fight. Miyagi then challenges Colonel Dugan to fight. Miyagi wins the fight, and then departs accompanied by Julie and Eric. He then reveals to Julie a tenet of his practice, at which he had hinted en route to the monastery: “Fighting not good. But if must fight, win.” The film concludes with a scene of Angel flying freely above sunlit waters


After 3 films, the last of which was a total flop, you’d think they would have left well enough alone, but no, we get a “new” karate kid film, The Next Karate Kid.

The thing about this flick is that it is pretty much the same as the original, with certain changes made to “update” it and various plot points changed to make it a different picture, such as bringing in the monks and having Hilary Swank as a problem child, but when you strip away all that, the formula is still the same. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the one of the stories they had for the original film and threw it out.

This is not a good film. I’ll just say that right now. There are some redeeming values, such as…well, there’s…um…well, Mr. Miyagi is still around.

Yes, he’s about the only thing that is halfway decent about this picture, but he seems to be in pain for doing this oicture. I would be too if I had to do this.

Still, I would have liked for them to have written Ralph Macchio in here, if for nothing more than a cameo, or at most a sort of passing of the torch. It would have made at least something interesting, but I guess that would make too much sense.

Hilary Swank was in the beginning of her career, and as a beginning platform, this wasn’t bad, but her performance left something to be desired. She just seemed like she was trying too hard to have that teen angst that was so prevalent in the 90s.

The Alpha Elite are apparently the Boston version of Cobra Kai, only instead of a dojo, they are some sort of ROTC-esque group at this high school. Not really sure what they’re purpose is, other than to have a group of bad guys to chase around Hilary Swank.

Look, this thing is not worth watching, unless you’re a Hilary Swank fan, or want to complete the entire Karate Kid franchise. Otherwise, it should be avoided at all costs.

2 out of 5 stars

The Karate Kid, part III

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2010 by Mystery Man


The story picks up almost a year after the events ending the original film and opening the sequel. After it is established that Sensei John Kreese’s (Martin Kove) Cobra Kai dojo has lost all its business, Kreese visits his Vietnam War comrade Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith), who is also a karate expert, fellow Cobra Kai (later indicated as the real owner of Cobra Kai dojo). Silver and Kreese scheme to take revenge on Daniel and on his teacher, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita), and make Cobra Kai successful once again.

Daniel leases a shop, and he and Miyagi prepare to open their own bonsai tree store. Visiting a pottery store across the street, Daniel meets Jessica Andrews (Robyn Lively), and they instantly become friends.

Silver recruits “Karate’s Bad Boy” Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan), promising him 25% of potential Cobra Kai profits if he succeeds in claiming Daniel’s title at the upcoming All-Valley Karate Tournament, but Barnes demands 50% and Silver gives it to him. After breaking into Miyagi’s home, Silver overhears Daniel tell Miyagi that he will not be participating in the tournament, as Miyagi felt that defense of the title would merely be fighting for personal reward.

That evening at the bonsai store, Daniel and Jessica are confronted by Mike and Snake (Jonathan Avildsen), one of Silver’s goons. They threaten to harm Daniel if he does not join the tournament. Daniel declines, and Mike, while promising to return, departs in a heated rage. At the bonsai store, Daniel and Jessica are again confronted by Mike and Snake, who are now joined by Mike’s personal trainer Dennis (Christopher Paul Ford). Daniel once again refuses to enter the tournament. The three goons respond by destroying the shop. Miyagi shows up and fends off the three men. Miyagi and Daniel arrive home to find their stock of bonsai has been stolen, with a tournament application hanging in their place.

Having received no assistance from the local police, Daniel and Jessica decide to dig up a bonsai tree which Miyagi had planted halfway down the cliffs surrounding the Devil’s Cauldron. Daniel thinks they can use the tree, which is the one true bonsai Miyagi brought from Okinawa, as a new source of capital, although Jessica doubts Miyagi will condone this sale of a valuable family heirloom. When Daniel and Jessica become trapped at the bottom of the cauldron, Silver’s three goons pull up their ropes and force Daniel to finally sign up for the tournament before lowering the ropes again. Barnes then purposely breaks the valuable tree. Daniel returns to the shop with Miyagi’s damaged bonsai, which Miyagi immediately mends and restores. Miyagi, who has sold his truck in order to buy a new stock of trees, refuses to train Daniel for the tournament.

Silver, who has befriended Daniel numerous times under the fraudulent guise of a humble friend of Kreese sent to apologize on behalf of their Korean master for Kreese’s previous actions, offers to “train” Daniel at the Cobra Kai dojo. Daniel accepts, and during the training sessions, Silver schools Daniel in many cheap and corrupt ways of fighting, consistently discouraging Daniel from using his kata. Silver repeatedly invites Daniel to attack a wooden dummy, injuring Daniel in the process and instilling fear in him, all according to plan. Miyagi tends to Daniel’s wounds via a special balm, and when he asks Daniel why he is doing this to himself, Daniel reproaches Miyagi angrily, saying he is having major trouble and to back off if Miyagi can’t help him solve it.

After several sessions, Daniel eventually destroys the entire dummy, at which point Silver proclaims that he is now ready to win the tournament. That night, Silver bribes a man into tempting Daniel into assaulting him while at a club with Jessica. Daniel, displeased by his own aggressive behavior, apologizes for his recent actions to Miyagi and Jessica (who reveals plans to return to Columbus, Ohio).

Daniel visits Silver at the dojo to inform him that he no longer wishes to train with him, and that he also no longer intends to compete in the tournament. Silver reveals his real agenda to Daniel, and both Mike and Kreese enter the room. After Mike proceeds to chase Daniel, Miyagi arrives and quickly fends off all three opponents. Afterwards, Miyagi finally decides to train Daniel for the upcoming tournament. They train by Devil’s Cauldron, where they replant the now-healed bonsai.

At the tournament, Mike makes his way up to the final round to face Daniel. Silver orders Mike to alternately score points and then intentionally lose them by incurring penalties with illegal moves designed to hurt Daniel and break his spirit. Mike is to continue this for the duration of the three-minute regulation period, and then score a quick point in sudden death. Mike does exactly as instructed, and a fearful Daniel begs Miyagi to let him forfeit the match. Miyagi refuses, telling Daniel “It’s okay to lose to opponent – must not lose to fear!”. Miyagi reminds Daniel that he still has his best moves left. In the sudden death period, Daniel finds one last bit of resolve and begins the kata (Seiunchin) that Miyagi taught him. A hesitant and confused Mike finally comes in to attack, and Daniel quickly counters by throwing him to the ground and scoring a point with a punch to Mike’s ribs. A disgusted Silver and Kreese walk away as the crowd throws back the Cobra Kai shirts that were given to them. An excited Daniel decides to forego the tradition bow, and instead hugs Mr. Miyagi.


The final film in The Karate Kid trilogy has often been called the weakest entry. You’ll get no argument from me on that point.

The Karate Kid, part III has a decent story, but it lack the one thing the previous two films had…heart. This film seems like it was rushed into production and many of the actors were just cashing a paycheck, especially Ralph Macchio.

I like that it picks up right where the last one left off and that we get a slight cameo from Daniel’s mother (all 10 seconds of her), because it seems like the world has more or less revolved around him and Miyagi.

The new villains seem to be in the same mold as those from the previous two films, hyped up karate jocks. Although, Silver is one of the bright spots of the film, what with his conniving ways. He almost had me convinced that he wasn’t the total slime ball he really is.

Another bright spot was Robyn Lively. Arguably the prettiest of Daniel’s girlfriends, she actually seem to be more than a pretty face, or maybe she just has more acting talent than her predecessors.

Macchio and Pat Morita are their usual characters. They don’t seem to have changed their approach one bit. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing ,but I would have liked to have seen something different from them, instead of the same ol’ same ol’. They have become a bit stale at this point.

Now, with karate in the title, one would expect more than a few scenes of martial arts, right? Well, if that’s what you’re looking for when viewing this film, you’ll be sadly mistaken. There are a few scenes, culminating in the tournament at the film’s end, but it seems like with each of the pictures, the karate has taken a backseat to some unnecessary drama. I guess you must have some of that to have a plot, but there could be more action here, in my opinion.

So, this wasn’t the best of the franchise, but I can all but guarantee it’ll be head and shoulders above the craptastic remake that is coming out in the next week or two. Having said that, though, if you must see one of these films, I would go with the first one if you want good old karate and the second if you want the best overall film. I can’t recommend this one for anything more than just to finish up the trilogy. It just isn’t worth it, unless you’re a glutton for punishment.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Inglorious Basterds

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2010 by Mystery Man


In 1941, SS Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) arrives at a dairy farm in France to interrogate Perrier LaPadite (Denis Menochet) about rumors he is hiding the Jewish Dreyfus family. Landa persuades the farmer to confess to hiding the family underneath his floor. Landa then orders the SS soldiers into the house to shoot the floorboards where they are hiding. The entire family is killed, except the teenage Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), whom Landa allows to escape.

In the spring of 1944, Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) recruits a team of eight Jewish-American soldiers in Italy for a mission to get behind enemy lines and bring fear to all German servicemen. He tells the soldiers that they each owe him a hundred Nazi scalps. They operate with a “take no prisoners” attitude and come to be known as the ‘Basterds’. One survivor of an attack by the ‘Basterds’, Private Butz (Sönke Möhring), is interviewed by Adolf Hitler (Martin Wuttke). Butz’s account of the attack is shown in flashback: his squad was ambushed and his Sergeant was beaten to death with a baseball bat by Sgt. Donny Donowitz (Eli Roth), known by the Germans as “The Bear Jew”. Butz then reveals that Raine carved a swastika into his forehead with a knife.

In June 1944, Shosanna has assumed a new identity as ‘Emmanuelle Mimieux’ and is operating a cinema in Paris. She meets Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl), a German sniper whose exploits are to be celebrated in a Nazi propaganda film, Stolz der Nation (Nation’s Pride). Zoller is attracted to Shosanna and convinces Joseph Goebbels (Sylvester Groth) to hold the premiere of his film at Shosanna’s cinema. Shosanna realizes that the presence of several high-ranking Nazi officials provides an opportunity for revenge and resolves to burn down the cinema during the premiere by using a large quantity of extremely flammable nitrate film. The British also learn of the premiere and dispatch Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) to infiltrate the event aided by the ‘Basterds’ and German film actress and double agent, Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger). Hicox and two of the ‘Basterds’ meet with von Hammersmark at a tavern where a SS Major (August Diehl) notices Hicox’s odd accent and that he gives the wrong (non-German) three-fingered order for drinks. The resulting standoff erupts into a firefight, leaving everyone dead except von Hammersmark. Raine interrogates von Hammersmark, and upon learning that Hitler will be attending the premiere, devises a plan where he, Donny and Omar (Omar Doom) will pose as von Hammersmark’s Italian escorts at the premiere. Landa later investigates the tavern, retrieving von Hammersmark’s shoe and an autographed napkin.

At the premiere, Landa asks to see von Hammersmark privately, where he makes her try on the shoe. After proving that she is in league with the ‘Basterds’, he strangles her. He then orders Raine and Private Utivich (B. J. Novak) to be arrested. Landa makes a deal with Raine’s commanding officer to be granted a full military pension and American citizenship, in exchange for allowing Donny and Omar—still seated in the cinema—to kill the Nazi high command. During the film, Zoller goes to the projection room to see Shosanna and confronts her angrily due to multiple rejections of his advances from the beginning. When his back is turned, she shoots him multiple times, but he manages to shoot her dead before succumbing to his wounds. The film is then interrupted by an inserted close-up of Shosanna informing the audience that they are going to be killed by a Jew. At the same time, Shosanna’s employee and lover, Marcel (Jacky Ido), who has locked and bolted all the exits of the cinema, ignites the nitrate film stacked behind the screen. Omar and Donowitz successfully attack and kill Goebbels and Hitler, then shoot into the crowd of panicking Nazis until the timers on their bombs go off and destroy the cinema, killing everyone inside.

Landa and his radio operator drive Raine and Utivich to the American lines, and according to the deal, Landa surrenders to Raine and hands over his weapons, allowing Utivich to handcuff him. To Landa’s shock Raine then shoots the radio operator and orders Utivich to scalp the dead man. Raine then carves a swastika into Landa’s forehead, proclaiming that “this just might be my masterpiece.”


Let me start this off by saying that I didn’t watch the entire film. Well, I did, but dozed off in parts. No excuses…just been a long week.

Is it me, or do there seem to be alot of Nazi this or that lately? What’s going on? It’s quite unsettling, if you ask me.

Inglorious Basterds is a fictional tale of a group of mercenary Jews who more or less turned the tables on the Nazis by killing them instead of the other way around. Quentin Tarrantino lives for this kind of morbidly violent stuff, and that is what people like about his films.

However, he does get a bit chatty with the dialogue. Kevin Smith does the same thing with his films, but at least the films move forward. Tarantino’s use of these long speeches an whatnot seem to stop the film dead in its track. This should have been a nice little action flick, and it was going on at a decent pace, then we get to these long expositions and it just takes the audience out of it. There was no reason this should have been 2 1/2 hrs. Well, I guess it could have been, but most of that runtime is due to the excessive talking, most of which has no bearing on the film, but just random words.

Christoph Waltz earned an Oscar for his role as Col. Hans Lander. At first, I was a bit skeptical, but he did do a pretty impressive job, so it was no wonder he won that award.

Brad Pitt as the leader of the basterds, Aldo Raine, complete with some kind of funky southern accent, really sells and hams it up (someone has to in a Tarantino picture, right?).

The action scenes are pretty nice and full of bloody splattering gun violence, which I have no problem, but I’m sure someone out there does.

I’ve read some reviews saying that this film is good, but has no moral value. WTF?!? This isn’t a Disney picture. There is no need for it to have a moral. The idea is just to have some fun with a dark part in history. Geez! Can no one take a joke these days, or does everything have to be strictly cut and dry. Ugh!!!!

I look forward to watching this film again (this time without dozing off in huge chunks). There are some things that I think would make more sense if I would have caught certain parts. I don’t belive this is Tarantino’s best work, and as I said,m he needs to get over his hard on for exposition, but it is a fun flick. Now, if you’re not a fan of gun violence, this isn’t the film for you, but for everyone else, what are you waiting for? Go check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2010 by Mystery Man


In 1987, obese, illiterate, 16-year-old Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) lives in the ghetto of Harlem with her dysfunctional and abusive mother, Mary (Mo’Nique). She has been impregnated twice by her father, Carl, and suffers long term physical, sexual, and mental abuse from her unemployed mother. The family resides in a Section 8 tenement and subsists on welfare. Her first child, known only as “Lil Mongo”, has Down syndrome and is being cared for by Precious’ grandmother.

Following the discovery of Precious’ second pregnancy, she is suspended from school. Her junior high school principal arranges to have her attend an alternative school, which she hopes can help Precious change her life’s direction. Precious finds a way out of her traumatic daily existence through imagination and fantasy. While she is being raped by her father, she looks at the ceiling and imagines herself in a music video shoot in which she is the superstar and the focus of attention. While looking in photograph albums, she imagines the pictures talking to her. When she looks in the mirror, she sees a pretty, white, thin, blonde girl. In her mind, there is another world where she is loved and appreciated. Inspired by her new teacher, Blu Rain (Paula Patton), Precious begins learning to read. Precious meets sporadically with a social worker named Miss Weiss (Mariah Carey), who learns about incest in the household when Precious unwittingly conveys it to her. Precious gives birth to her second child and names him Abdul. While at the hospital, she meets John McFadden (Lenny Kravitz), a nursing assistant who shows kindness to her. After Mary deliberately drops three-day-old Abdul and hits Precious, Precious fights back long enough to get her son and flees her home permanently. Shortly after leaving the house, Precious breaks into her school classroom to get out of the cold and is discovered the following morning by Miss Rain. The teacher finds assistance for Precious, who begins raising her son in a halfway house while she continues academically.

Feeling dejected, Precious meets Miss Weiss at her office and steals her case file. Precious recounts the details of the file to her fellow students and has a new lease on life. Her mother comes back into her life to inform Precious that her father has died of AIDS. Later, Precious learns that she is HIV positive, but Abdul is not. Mary and Precious see each other for the last time in Miss Weiss’ office, where Weiss questions Mary about her abuse of Precious, and uncovers specific physical and sexual traumas Precious encountered, starting when she was three. The film ends with Precious still resolved to improve her life for herself and her children. She severs ties with her mother and plans to complete a General Educational Development test.


This has to have been one of the most talked about films of the previous year. Personally, I had no intention of watching it. The subject matter seemed a bit to intense for my taste, and the film was just too serious looking. After some coercing and a couple of requests, I caved in and watched it this afternoon.

Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire is everything you expect it to be, but there are a couple of things to lighten the mood, such as Precious’ daydreams. When she zoned out, it reminded me of J.D. from Scrubs. Also, her classmates at the alternative school brought some much needed life to what was severely needing an injection of something.

Gabourey Sidibe shines in her debut as Precious. Talk about an introduction to Hollywood. This was not some fluff role. hopefully, she won’t disappear into obscurity, because it is obvious that she can act.

Like most people I was surprised to see Mo’Nique in this serious role, but more so that she really brought it with her performance. No wonder she won awards for it.

Other surprises to look for are Lenny Kravitz as the nurse and Mariah Carey (with apparently no makeup) as the social worker.

The pacing of this film, is ok for a drama, but for those of us with short attention spans, it seemed to drag on and not get anywhere until the birth of the second child, then it just seemed like it was tacking stuff on to make it longer.

I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how close they kept to the source material, but I would’ve liked for them to have shown a bit more interaction with her classmates at the alternative school. It just seems as if that would have made the film a bit better, especially since they all showed up to support her in the hospital.

This is not a perfect film, but it is every bit as good as advertised.  I don’t typically go for the same films as the critics, but I did like this one, though I didn’t love it. I highly recommend this to anyone, but be warned, there are some strong themes through the film, that some may not be able to handle. That is also not to mention the cigarette smoking that seems to be a cardinal sin nowadays.

4 out of 5 stars


Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , on May 27, 2010 by Mystery Man


In an unidentified city of near-constant rain and urban decay, the soon-to-be retiring Detective William R. Somerset (Freeman) is partnered with short-tempered Detective David Mills (Pitt) who recently transferred to the department. Somerset is eventually invited over to meet Mills’ wife, Tracy (Paltrow); when Somerset learns that she is pregnant but has not told her husband, he confides in her his fear that the city is no place to start a family, reiterating his own losses of his fiancée and unborn child years ago. Somerset advises her not to tell Mills just yet of their child.

Somerset and Mills investigate a series of crimes relating to the seven deadly sins, such as a man who was forced to feed himself to death to represent Gluttony. They find clues at the scene of the murders that connect to the other deaths, and believe they are chasing a serial killer. A set of fingerprints found at where the Greed murder occurred leads them to the apartment of a man, near death, who has been strapped to a bed for a year, representing Sloth. Though unable to learn anything from the delirious victim, the detectives agree that the serial murderer has been planning these killings for more than a year.

The detectives use library records for those that have checked out books on the deadly sins to track down a man named John Doe (Spacey). When Doe finds the detectives approaching his apartment, he fires a gun at them and flees, chased by Mills. Eventually, Doe gains the upper hand, holding Mills at gunpoint, but instead of harming Mills, he runs away. Investigation of the apartment finds numerous handwritten volumes of Doe’s irrational thoughts and clues leading to another potential victim. They arrive too late to find their Lust victim, a prostitute killed by an unwitting man who Doe forced at gunpoint to wear a bladed S&M device with which he simultaneously raped and killed the woman. Sometime later, they investigate the death of a young model, the victim of Pride. As they leave, Doe appears to them and offers himself for arrest, the blood of the model and of a second, unidentified person on his hands. When they question him in the presence of his lawyer, Doe bargains that he will lead the two detectives to the last two bodies and confess to the crimes, or otherwise will plead insanity. Though Somerset is worried, Mills agrees to the demand.

Doe directs the two detectives to a remote desert area far from the city, with Doe believing that his actions have helped to show the people what the world actually is and to punish the wicked, riling Mills further. After arriving at the location, a delivery van approaches; the scared driver tells the detectives he was paid to deliver a package precisely at this time and location, and is told to leave after handing it over. While Mills holds Doe at gunpoint, Somerset opens the package and recoils in horror at the sight of the contents. He races back, warning Mills not to listen to Doe, but Doe reveals to Mills that the box contains Tracy’s head. Mills, distraught, demands an explanation from Doe; Doe simply replies that he himself represents the sin of Envy, jealous of Mills’ wife, and then reveals her pregnancy to Mills. Somerset is unable to contain Mills as he unloads his gun into Doe, becoming the embodiment of Wrath and proving out Doe’s plan. After a catatonic Mills is taken away, Somerset is asked where he will be and responds, “around”, suggesting he will not go through with his retirement. The film ends with the sun setting over the desert, with Somerset quoting Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls:

‘The world is a fine place and worth fighting for.’ I agree with the second part.


So, here we go with another of these suspense films. I have to say that this is definitely not my genre of choice.

Se7en is about a serial killer who plans out his murders and kills his victims using one of the 7 deadly sins. For example the first victim was a morbidly obese man who apparently had some kind of heart attack while eating. This was gluttony.

Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt play off each other very well. Freeman playing the hardened outgoing detective and Pitt as the rough around the edges “new school” detective who is coming in to more or less replace Freeman. Their relationship is a bit rocky at the start, but after a chance dinner with Pitt’s wife, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who I feel was wasted here, things take a turn for the best.

Kevin Spacey has always been able to play a convincing villain, and this is no exception. Although I do wonder what was it that caused him to turn himself in like he did. It takes real talent to pull of a convincing douchebag murderer the way Spacey does, that’s for sure.

This is a very cerebral film. It really makes you think. For a good part of the film, I was thinking that it would turn out that Pitt was the one behind it all.

The pacing could be better, but I’ve learned that in this genre pacing is a moot point as all aspects of each angle have to be covered.

Many people love Se7en. I’m not one of those people. I just couldn’t really get into it for some reason. Not to say that this was a bad picture, it just didn’t strike my fancy. However, if you’re one of those that like these suspense features, then by all means, check it out. There is no reason you’ll be disappointed.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Aliens in the Attic

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by Mystery Man


It all starts as a meteor shower rockets across the dark galaxy. Four glowing pods sparkle and crackle while hiding behind the meteor show. A mysterious force makes the meteor shower turn a hard right towards a bright blue ball in the distance – planet Earth.

In a comfortable suburban house in Michigan, Stuart Pearson (Kevin Nealon) and his wife Nina (Gillian Vigman) head a family that includes adorable seven-year-old Hannah (Ashley Boettcher); 15-year-old Tom (Carter Jenkins), a techno-geek whose grades have gone south; and older sister Bethany (Ashley Tisdale), who’s just returned from a secret outing with boyfriend Ricky Dillman (Robert Hoffman).

Deciding the family needs some good old-fashioned togetherness, Stuart packs up the clan and heads to a three-story holiday house in the middle of nowhere. Joining them is Uncle Nate (Andy Richter), Nate’s son Jake (Butler), Nana Rose (Doris Roberts), and identical 11-year-old twins Art (Henri Young) and Lee (Regan Young). An unexpected arrival is Bethany’s beau Ricky, who wrangles an overnight visit with the extended family.

As day turns to night, dark storm clouds start swirling around the house. Suddenly, four glowing objects shoot toward the roof. The alien crew inside the objects is made up of Skip, the tough commander, Tazer, a muscle-bound dude armed to the teeth, Razor, a lethal female alien soldier; and Sparks a four-armed techie, who is the only non-threatening alien intruder.

Ricky and Tom are sent to fix the satellite for the TV because the aliens crashed into it. Ricky then reveals to Tom that he lied about everything he said to his family, like his car broke down, his parents own a beach house, he’s 18. Ricky is actually in college, and he’s at least 5 years older than Bethany. Ricky is placed under the control of the aliens, courtesy of a high-tech mind-control device and plug implanted into the base of his skull; Ricky’s mind and actions now belong to the alien crew. The alien “Zirkonians,” via Ricky, lay claim to the planet (when asked why they didn’t just say it themselves Skip responds, “This way is more fun.”) Like a puppet/robot/zombie, Ricky moves towards the boys – but Tom and Jake break free.

It isn’t long before all five kids see the strange new arrivals. Tom takes charge and the kids come to realize the alien mind control device only works on grownups, giving them a fighting chance against the invaders — and the responsibility to protect the adults by keeping the aliens’ existence a secret. Left to their own devices, the kids unleash their imaginations, creating makeshift weapons, like piping ingeniously rigged as a home made potato spud gun. They even learn to use the mind controller. Their first order of business is to take control of Ricky and turn his actions against himself and the aliens.

The adults remain oblivious to the alien presence, and insist that the youngsters partake in a fishing expedition. Meanwhile, a friendship is struck between Hannah and Sparks, the friendly alien with four arms and hands. Unlike his alien cohorts, Sparks has no stomach for battle; he just wants to return home to his Zirkonian family. Nana Rose comes under the control of the alien mind control device, which gives her super-human strength and agility. Under the control of the kids, she comes to their rescue and has to fight off Ricky, who is again under alien control. Nana gives Ricky a huge jolt causing the alien plug to dislodge and Ricky breaks up with Bethany because in his opinion she talks about feelings and family all the time. The kids reveal to Bethany what’s going on, and Sparks helps by making weapons so the kids can fight on. Sparks reveals that what the aliens want from their planet is a device under the basement which makes them giant sized. The kids destroy Skip, Tazer & Razor. Sparks calls off the invasion and returns home. The rest of the vacation goes back to normal, except the kids grew closer to each other during their adventure. When they get home, Ricky starts visiting his old girlfriend, but Bethany and Tom take advantage of him using the mind control device. His ex throws him out of the house, leaving him wondering what happened in those last 5 minutes.


When I saw the trailers for this film last year, it immediately brought to mind that film from a while back, Small Soldiers. Admittedly, I actually thought this was some kind of remake. I was mistaken…to an extent.

Aliens in the Attic is a lighter film than Small Soldiers, with the exception of the subplot of the issues between the father and son. That was a bit too much for a light family film for my taste.

The aliens here are diminutive and deranged. As with most alien races, they seem to be hellbent on destroying the human race for some unknown reason. The exception is the one voice of reason in their crew, Sparks.

The kids seem to be your typical rebellious type that are trapped with their parents on vacation. The thing about them is that they aren’t that great actors.

A surprise for me was Ashley Tisdale. I honestly thought all she could do was Disney stuff like High School Musical and Suite Life of Zack & Cody.

A highlight of this flick was seeing Doris Roberts doing kung fu. Otherwise, she was a bit wasted. Why would you cast such a comedic icon as her to only waddle around on a cane? Seems to me they could have given her more.

The aliens themselves are kind of…I dunno…odd looking, and not in a good way. They look as if someone took some clay, started to make something, then stopped. I didn’t care for their look.

I guess if you have kids, they’ll like this. For those of you expecting a good alien flick, this isn’t for you. There are so many much better alien flicks out there. Still, I’m not going to condemn this picture. It has its good points, and I would watch it again, so sure, check it out.

3 out of 5 stars

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonley Hearts Club Band

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by Mystery Man


The original Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band performed during WWI in France, as the Allies’ “most effective weapon.” Their melodies cheered troops engaged in battle and stopped hostilities, leading to their receiving the coveted Golden Eagle Award. Back at their hometown of Heartland, they continued performing through the Roaring ’20’s, the Depression, and through another Great War, until the demise of the bandleader in 1958. He left his magical instruments to the town of Heartland. These items have the power to make dreams come true, and as long as they remained in the town’s possession, humanity would live happily foreverafter. He left his wholesome grandson, Billy Shears, (Peter Frampton) his Golden Eagle and musical legacy. The town’s venerable mayor, Mr. Kite (George Burns) tells the tale of the new Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band, consisting of Billy, his best friends, Mark, Dave, and Bob Henderson (The Bee Gees), and managed by his jealous stepbrother, Dougie Shears (Paul Nicholas).

The new band debuts in their wholesome small town one sunny summer day, introduced by money-hungry Dougie. Dave, Mark, and Bob start off the performance, joined by Billy after he shares a brief moment with his sweetheart, Strawberry Fields (Sandy Farina). Townsfolk of all ages instantly take to the boys, who receive a telegram from Big Deal Records requesting a demo tape, with the promise of big success. Mr. Kite briefly imagines himself as a superstar, performing a number in the town square, alone except for two little girls who join his jaunty dance.

The town’s magical weather vane picks up a strange signal, the arrival of Mean Mr. Mustard (Frankie Howerd). His mission: to Take Over Heartland. He is apparently directed by the FVB, who reminds him: We hate love; We hate joy; We love money. The band is recording their demo tape at a farm near town as he arrives. Back in Hollywood, Big Deal’s B.D. Hoffler (Donald Pleasence) hears the tape and begins his plan to sign them to his label. The band is summoned to Hollywood immediately, giving Billy and Strawberry scant time for tender goodbyes. They share one night in the farm’s hayloft before the band’s hasty departure.

Arriving in L.A. by Big Deal’s private jet, the band is welcomed personally by B.D. and his sexy assistant, Lucy (Dianne Steinberg). They are transported by stretch El Camino to B.D.’s mansion, where the naive bandmates are immediately corrupted by liquor, drugs, and women. Later that evening, the intoxicated boys are duped into signing B.D.’s exploitive contract. The next morning they commence recording sessions, leading to instant superstardom with sold-out concerts, intense media coverage, and enormous record sales. During their rise to success, B.D. requires Lucy and her backup singers, the Diamonds (Stargard) to control the band by exerting their evil and sexual influence.

Back in Heartland, Strawberry pines for Billy while Mr. Mustard steals the magical instruments from Mr. Kite’s office at City Hall. Mustard begins his mission to deliver the instruments to various villainous characters. Without the protection of the instruments, Heartland instantly degenerates into a den of iniquity.

Strawberry leaves home in pursuit of her beloved Billy, leaving her parents heartbroken in her absence. Mr. Mustard’s robots alert him and his Brute (Carel Struyken) of Strawberry’s departure. When she arrives in L.A., she sees a billboard showing Billy and the rest of the band, next to another featuring Lucy and the Diamonds. Both billboards come to life. The women’s seductive performance lures the men into their embrace, horrifying the distraught Strawberry. When she momentarily turns away, the billboards return to their inanimate states.

The next day, Strawberry arrives at the band’s recording session, witnessing some flirtatious glances between Billy and Lucy. B.D. and Dougie try to get rid of her, but she is able to get in and explain the treachery that has befallen Heartland. Mr. Mustard arrives moments later, and the band accosts his van in an effort to recover the stolen instruments. The van’s computer indicates the first instrument went to Dr. Maxwell Hammer (Steve Martin), a cheerfully deranged and money-driven physician. Billy, Mark, Dave, Bob, and Strawberry make haste to Dr. Hammer’s office and retrieve Sgt. Pepper’s silver cornet after a non-contact fight sequence. They find the drum in the van, then seek Father Sun (Alice Cooper) for the tuba. In his Orwellian lair, he drums the message, “We Hate Love; We Hate Joy; We Love Money” into the heads of militant young cadets. The band and Strawberry retrieve the tuba, but Billy is injured by an electrical shock. Back safely in the van, Strawberry lovingly tends to the unconscious Billy. He dreams of her, then revives at the sound of her beautiful singing.

Mark Henderson, working at the van’s computer, causes a malfunction and cannot retrieve the location of the final missing instrument. Heartland continues to deteriorate into desperate circumstances. B.D. is forced to cancel several tour dates, but Dougie suggests a huge benefit concert to save the town.

One day, as the townsfolk drudge through the town, bewildered at its delapidated state, they are surprised by the arrival of a singing and acrobatic troupe, anchored by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band and the lovely Strawberry Fields. Mr. Kite, along with the rest of the town, is cheered at this fortunate turn of events. B.D., Dougie, and Lucy are pleased at their business cunning in exploiting the situation for financial gain. Dougie and Lucy go into City Hall, where the day’s proceeds are stored and load up a wheelbarrow with several bags of money. They transfer the money into the van’s refrigerator as Earth, Wind and Fire perform the evening show for the town, Billy and the Hendersons enjoy front-row seats. Mr. Mustard and the Brute get to town and find the van. They kidnap Strawberry and drag her into the van, then drive off. Dougie and Lucy manage to hide in the van without being discovered. The band sees the departing van and sets off in hot pursuit via the town’s hot air balloon.

Mustard was headed for FVB Central with the recovered instruments where the evil genius would suppress the magical instruments and make the world safe for his legions. Unless the band could arrive first and stop them. Mustard, who has admired Strawberry all along, attempts to woo her via serenade in her bound-and-gagged state. Soon, the balloon comes into view, and Dougie and Lucy try to escape the van with some of their lot., They are discovered and led into FVB Central along with Strawberry, then tied up and forced to endure a performance by FVB – Future Villain Band (Aerosmith). Billy and the Hendersons break into the complex and wrestle FVB into submission, killing the evil genius (Steve Tyler). Unfortunately, Strawberry falls to her death in the struggle.

Back in Heartland, the cleaned-up town mourns the loss of Strawberry Fields, who lies in state in a coffin of clear glass engraved with Heartland’s signature hearts. Billy, Dougie, and the Hendersons are all pallbearers. Mr. Kite questions whether it was worth the loss in order to restore the town. Leaving the church after her service, Billy sadly walks off for some time alone, remembering the good times he shared with Strawberry. He then attempts suicide by jumping from a rooftop. As he falls, the Heartland Weather Vane (Billy Preston) comes to life and returns him to the rooftop. Billy Shears is not only saved, but apparently cured of his depression by this surprising turn of events.

The Magical Weather Vane then changes Mr. Mustard and the Brute into a bishop and a monk; Dougie and Lucy into an altar boy and a nun. Next, he brings a hale and hearty Strawberry Fields back to life. She runs to Billy and they embrace warmly in a fairy tale ending.

The townsfolk are joined by dozens of celebrity guests of 1970’s fame for a rollicking and joyful finale, in a tribute to the cover of the original Beatles album that inspired the film.


I’ll admit that I was very disappointed with this film from the get go. I tend to look at the film’s trailers before I watch them, and to find out that The Beatles did not appear in this film, kind of took me out of it. Although, I will say Aerosmith and Earth, Wind,  Fire were a suitable stand-in for me, but just not the same. When you expect to see The BEatles, you want to see The Beatles.

That was just the start of my disappointment. This thing is a rock opera. The few films of this genre that I’ve been privy to watch have not done it for me. As a matter of fact, they struggle to keep my attention. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is no exception.

I’m not a huge fan of The Beatles, but I do really like their music. One of the reasons I even bothered to watch this was my hope that there would be plenty of music. True, there was plenty of it, but it was done in such a way as to not keep my interest.

I don’t want to make it seem like the film is without its good points. The casting of popular music acts of the time, such as The Bee Gees, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, etc., was great. It was kind of like a passing of the torch, if you will. Also, George Burns, who was the only one to speak in the entire film, served as a great narrator.

Although some may find the cheesiness of the flick a bit off-putting, I actually liked it, but that’s just my taste.

I really wanted to like this film, if not love it, but just can’t. This was just not what I expected. It’s not without its good points, but for me, the negatives outweigh the positives. I can recommend this to you, but be aware that the only remnants of The Beatles are covers of their songs. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band isn’t totally awful, but I felt it could have been served better as a musical rather than a rock opera. Dialogue works wonders!

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2010 by Mystery Man


Big Bird is sent to Oceanview, Illinois, to live with a family of dodo birds by Miss Finch, a social worker who thinks he needs to be with his own kind (other birds, instead of the diverse Sesame Street). His new family thinks exactly the same, even saying Big Bird should have a bird as a best friend instead of Mr. Snuffleupagus. This causes Big Bird much distress.

He soon runs away from there. His Street friends band together to find him. In a Volkswagen Beetle is the group of Gordon, Susan, Olivia, Linda and Cookie Monster. Count von Count departs in his own car, known as the Countmobile. Bert and Ernie go out to search in a plane. Grover flies as Super Grover and later falls into the Volkswagen. Maria leaves with Oscar, Telly and a Honker in Oscar’s Sloppy Jalopy. They all head out across America in search for their beloved Big Bird.

Big Bird has various adventures in his attempt to get home. First he hitches a ride with Waylon Jennings who plays a turkey truck driver. He then meets a pair of kids at a farm who let him stay with them for a while. All the time, Big Bird is being pursued by Miss Finch who wants to take him back to the Dodos. He has to leave the farm because of her arrival.

While out in a cornfield Big Bird is spotted by Ernie and Bert in their plane but when Ernie steers the plane towards him Big Bird runs away scared because he doesn’t know that it’s his friends in it and thinks that it’s Miss Finch wanting to take him back to the Dodos. Ernie turns the plane upside down and begins singing the Upside Down song to which Bert later on joins in but when they turn the plane back up Big Bird is gone and Ernie blames it all on Bert.

Big Bird is also sought by two scam artists, Sid and Sam Sleaze, who operate a lousy carnival, The Sleaze Brothers Funfair. They want to capture Big Bird to put him on display.

Eventually, Big Bird arrives in Toadstool, dubbed “The Mushroom City.” Shortly after arriving, Miss Finch finds him there, and gives chase through the city. On the outskirts of Toadstool, The Sleaze Brothers have set up their funfair, when Big Bird shows up asking if they have a place to hide him from Miss Finch. The two brothers then put Big Bird in their ‘hiding cage.’ Shortly afterwards, they decide to paint Big Bird blue, and tout him as “The Bluebird of Happiness.” However, Big Bird’s performance is not one of happiness, but of sadness, as he sings a song wishing to be back home with his friends.

After the show, two children sneak backstage to see him. Upon noticing them, Big Bird asks them to call Sesame Street to tell his friends where he is. The children do so, and the next day, his friends sneak into the circus tent to try and free him.

However, the Sleaze Brothers quietly wake up, and attempt to drive off with Big Bird in tow. Eventually, Gordon and Olivia give chase and succeed in rescuing him from the truck. Shortly afterwards, the Sleaze Brothers are pulled over by a state trooper (John Candy) who questions them about multiple felonies. Sam tries to cover up the situation, but the officer simply replies “Tell it to the judge”.

When he is finally brought home, Big Bird is happy to be back, but then looks on as Miss Finch arrives, to announce that she has found another bird family for him. Maria convinces Miss Finch that Big Bird can be, and is, happy there on Sesame Street—that it does not make any difference that his family consists of humans, monsters, grouches, honkers, and the other varieties of eclectic species on Sesame Street. What matters is that they are family.

After considering what she’s heard, and realizing how far his friends went to try and bring him back, Miss Finch declares that Sesame Street is Big Bird’s home. Big Bird is also reunited with Snuffy who watched his nest while he was away.

At the beginning of the end credits, Count von Count begins to count the movie credits (in a nod to the original series, Count calls Joan Ganz Cooney, the co-creator of Sesame Street, “mom” when her name is credited as one of the executive producers). By the end of the credits in a brief “bonus scene” Count announces 278 credits and does his trademark laugh accompanied by a thunderclap (no lightning flash was present as was in his usual running gag).


I haven’t watched Sesame Street in quite a few years, but the last clip I caught of it was a mutated version of what I remember from my childhood. They might as well call that thing the Elmo show.

For those of us that can remember that far back, Big Bird used to be “it” character on Sesame Street, which is why they gave him his own movie, Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird.

This is a pretty simple, family oriented film. Nothing fancy. No sex or violence, although I think the Count does make an attempt at a sexual joke, but that may be warped mind twisting a line he gave into something it isn’t.

The real selling point to me is that it features many of the classic Sesame Street characters, including the humans. Many of these don’t even get used anymore, and I think the humans have all moved on, except for a couple that have passed away.

I do have a bit of an issue with the bird society at the beginning that say that Big Bird needs to be with his own kind. It is kind of like a thinly veiled attempt to say that everyone should be with their own kind. With a children’s/family film, one would think if they were going to bring that up, they’d go out of their way to make sure there was a clear moral.

The innocence of Big Bird is priceless. I would have liked to have seen more Mr. Snuffleupagus. Maybe something like he went to save Big Bird from the dodos or shows up and gives Miss finch a big shock when she finds out he’s real or something, but maybe that’s just me.

For those of us that grew up on these characters, this is a great film. They just don’t make them as fun and innocent these days. Heck, if they were to release this today it’d be Elmo dominated (he appears in a window at the end in this one…with no lines) and probably in unnecessary 3D. Thank goodness this was released back when movies were movies and not just ways to make money for greedy studios. I highly recommend this to any and everyone. I dare you to watch it and not come away with a warm feeling in your heart.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

A Prarie Home Companion

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2010 by Mystery Man


A long-running live radio show is in danger of being canceled by new owners of the company that owns both the radio station and the theater from which the show is broadcast. The film takes place on their last night’s performance, accompanied by two visitors. An angel (Virginia Madsen) calling herself Asphodel comes to comfort the people that work on this show and to escort one of the performers to the afterlife, while a representative of the new owners (“the Axeman,” played by Tommy Lee Jones) arrives to judge whether the show should be canceled. He makes it clear that it is not what he considers modern popular programming, and though he too is escorted by the angel, the show is shut down anyway. In an epilogue at the end of the film the former cast members are re-united at Mickey’s Diner. Their conversation pauses as they are joined by Asphodel.


Have you ever seen a film that had everything going for it, buy just didn’t seem to click? That is what A Prairie Home Companion is. There is so much talent in this cast, one would think it couldn’t fail. Note…I said think.

This is just a horrible film. Not because of the acting, though it could have been much better, but because it just didn’t seem to go anywhere. It might as well have been a documentary on the Companion. Instead we get some total snoozefest with an expensive, but talented cast.

There are a few things interesting about this film.  For instance, there are some funny jokes, mainly coming from Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly. Also, the mysterious Asphodel gives something interesting, but not much.

To sum up, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, unless you’re a fan of the companion. Of course, since people actually hated this, guess what…critics love it! Well, unless you’re a critic, avoid this thing like the plague. It just isn’t worth the time.

2 out of 5 stars

The Horsemen

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2010 by Mystery Man


An older man and his dog are out hunting, when they discover a serving tray on a stand in the middle of a frozen lake. He notices the words “Come and See” painted on several trees as he lifts the lid.

Detective Aidan Breslin is a widower who has become emotionally distanced from his two sons, Alex and Sean, following the death of his wife three years ago. Due to his former dental forensics expertise, Aidan receives a call regarding the contents of the tray, where it is revealed that it contained human teeth. After analyzing the teeth, Breslin is able to match them to a man who had been reported missing.

Aidan is once again called to investigate the bizarre murder of a woman named Mrs. Spitz, who was discovered hanging in her bedroom, eerily displayed and strung up on a series of hooks connected to a rig; the words “Come and See” displayed prominently on the walls. According to her autopsy report, she drowned in her own blood due to a precise stabbing. They also discover that Mrs. Spitz had been pregnant and the fetus was removed. Aidan speculates that there were four attackers and that they had used a camera to record the murder. After leaving the crime-scene, Breslin comforts one of the Spitz’s three daughters, their adopted Asian daughter Kristen, reassuring her that he will do his best to solve the crime.

The next murder shares the same M.O. with the Spitz murder; the similar hook contraption leads Breslin to a local tattoo parlor. There, he is informed that the owner constructed four devices in total. Yet another murder occurs, but this time no hook rig was involved and the message only appears on three of the room’s walls. While Aidan reviews the evidence at his home, Sean stumbles on one of the photographs. Sean’s insights point Breslin to the Bible, where he discovers that these killings are patterned after the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with each room corresponding to a Horsemen; the “Come and See” message pertains to the lifting of the veil and the coming of the Apocalypse.

When Kristen contacts Aidan unexpectedly, he goes to meet with her, and during their conversation Kristen produces the missing fetus, confessing to the murder. During her interrogation, Aidan discovers the darker side of Kirsten’s personality, one similar to the Horseman War.

Meanwhile, Cory, a homosexual, has a confrontation with his homophobic brother Taylor. As Taylor drunkenly stumbles out to his car, Cory is accosted by another man in the parking lot. In response, Cory stabs the man, who survives the attack and later provides the police with Cory’s description. The precision of the stab wound leads Aidan to assume that it was done by a Horseman. Elsewhere, Taylor awakens to find himself hooked onto a rig with his eyes fixed open. Cory appears wielding a bone saw, then proceeds to try to cut out his own heart, killing himself in the process. Later, Breslin goes over to Kristen’s house where he and his partner Stingray discover the video recording from the murders as well as some polaroids of Kirsten posing sexually with Mr. Spitz. When Breslin confronts Kirsten in jail, she claims to have been sexually abused for years and the murder of Mrs. Spitz served as punishment for her abuse. Following the interview, Breslin has Mr. Spitz arrested.

Breslin, convinced that there may be another victim, asks Kristen if she represented the Horseman Famine and that the unrigged victim (which was Cory) was Death. She confirms this, but refuses to relinquish any information about Pestilence, their leader. Breslin comes to the conclusion that due to the nature of the first murder, he was meant to be assigned to the case all along, and becomes concerned that his family will be targeted next. Breslin asks Stingray to go on ahead and check his house.

At the Breslin home, Stingray is attacked and knocked out. Aiden arrives later and enters Alex’s room for the first time in three years. To his horror, everything in the room is white or painted white: the color of the Horseman Evil or Righteousness (the leader). A clue points him to the Metropolitan Theatre, where Aidan first met his wife. When he arrives, he is knocked unconscious; when he comes to, he finds himself handcuffed to a seat as Alex dangles over the stage on the final hook rig. Alex starts bleeding to death, as he gives Breslin a speech regarding the Horsemen’s emotional detachment from their families. As Alex succumbs to his injuries, Breslin rips his handcuffs off the seating and fires his gun to detach the rigging from the ceiling. Alex awakens as his father holds him.

At the Breslin home, Sean wakes up from a bad dream as Breslin comforts him. When he asks where Alex is, Breslin reassures him that Alex will be okay, his fate ultimately unknown.


I’m not a fan of these suspense films and The Horsemen isn’t going to change my mind about that, but it wasn’t a bad choice for a Saturday night flick.

The basic premise here is that there are 4 unknown people who are killing as a way of letting it know that “the veil is about to be lifted”. This is some sort of biblical reference. The killers have branded themselves the four horsemen…wait, it was the cops that took to calling them that. As the film progresses, we learn just how twisted these individuals are.

Dennis Quaid is believable as the widowed father of two boys trying to find som sort of balance between his job and home life. The real bright spot of his performance is the pain he shows whenever he has to change his plans because of work.

Zhang Ziyi is a true bright spot here. Her scenes where she’s being creepy and twisted are brilliant. I can’t help but feeling it would have been better for her to turn out to be the mastermind behind it all, but that’s just me.

I didn’t really care for the pacing of this film, but that could be more due to my not being a true fan of this genre, rather than anything against the film itself.

The Horsemen isn’t a bad film, but rather one of those that you have to see for yourself to really be able to judge if you like or dislike it. For me, I was content to watch it. given the choice to watch it again, I would if there was nothing better on, but if it was the first choice, I would search for something else. That is not to say that I don’t think you should watch this, though. If you’re into this kind of stuff, you’ll love it.

3 out of 5 stars

Get Shorty

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2010 by Mystery Man


Chili Palmer (John Travolta), a Miami loan shark, clashes with another mobster, Ray “Bones” Barbone (Dennis Farina), after Ray takes his jacket (his own having been stolen from a restaurant cloakroom). Chili promptly finds him, breaks his nose, and takes his jacket back. Ray goes to the barbershop where Chili has his office, but Chili is warned by the barbers and shoots first when Ray bursts through the door, grazing the top of Ray’s head and causing him to flee. Ray’s boss, Jimmy Cap (Alex Rocco, who appears uncredited) refuses to go to war over such a trivial matter, and chastises Ray for foolishly taking the coat in the first place. When Chili’s powerful New York boss, Momo, dies of a heart attack, Chili finds himself working for Ray, who happily uses it to his advantage. Ray orders Chili to collect a large debt owed by Leo DeVoe (David Paymer), even though Leo is presumed dead.

When Chili visits Fay (Linda Hart), Leo’s supposed widow, she tells him Leo is alive. When Leo’s airliner sat on the runway for repairs, he debarked and got drunk at the airport bar. The airplane took off without him, then crashed. Leo was assumed to be dead and his wife received a $300,000 settlement from the airline. Leo took the money to Las Vegas, where he won another $200,000. Chili learns from Dick Allen (Bobby Slayton), a Las Vegas casino manager, that Leo has gone to Los Angeles. Allen asks Chili to collect a gambling debt from a B-movie producer named Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman) while he is in town.

Harry agrees to pay back the money in 60 days. With that settled, avid film fan Chili pitches a movie idea to Harry about a Miami loanshark chasing a scamming businessman to Los Angeles. Harry is interested in the concept, but he has another financial problem: he borrowed $200,000 from drug dealer Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo) to finance the movie he wanted to make. It was not enough, so he tried to raise the rest by betting on sports and lost it all. Chili tells Harry he will take care of it. Chili also tracks Leo down and takes the $300,000 in insurance money, plus another $10,000 which he promises to pay back plus interest, but does not inform Ray.

Catlett himself is in a jam. When he goes to the airport to pay Yayo Portillo (Jacob Vargas), a messenger from drug lord Mr. Escobar (Miguel Sandoval), he spots undercover federal drug agents about, so he gives Yayo a key to a storage locker instead of the money directly. Yayo refuses to take the risk and accompanies Catlett home. Yayo becomes obnoxious, so Catlett shoots him, not realizing he has killed Escobar’s nephew.

When Catlett and his business associate Ronnie (Jon Gries) visit Harry for a progress report about the film he is supposedly financing, Chili tells Catlett that Harry has another project he has to finish first. Harry reveals too much, arousing Catlett’s curiosity about this other film. It turns out that Catlett, like Chili, wants to be a film producer. Meanwhile, Chili meets and is attracted to Karen Flores (Rene Russo), a cynical actress in low-budget horror films.

Later, Catlett offers Harry $500,000 interest free to drop Chili and let him produce the movie instead. Catlett gives Harry the locker key and suggests Chili go get the money. Harry, getting fed up with Chili and what he perceives as broken promises on his part, is intrigued. However, Chili is not fooled; he sees the agents and leaves the money untouched. Catlett’s enforcer, Bear (James Gandolfini), gets beaten twice when he tries to intimidate Chili. The second time, Chili does his best to get Bear on his side. Bear, a former movie stuntman and single father of a little girl, is weary of his job, but Catlett blackmails him into staying by implicitly threatening his daughter.

Chili wants famous actor Martin Weir (Danny DeVito) to star in the film. Through Karen, Weir’s ex-wife, Chili pitches him the idea. Weir is interested.

Harry telephones Ray and tells him that Chili has the money he was sent to collect and more. Ray flies to Los Angeles and starts beating Harry when he does not get satisfactory answers to his questions, but is interrupted when Ronnie shows up. Ray kills Ronnie and frames Harry for the killing. A badly beaten Harry is rushed to the hospital. He avoids jail when the death is ruled self defense.

A romance begins between Chili and Karen, but Catlett kidnaps her and demands Chili bring the money owed to him, as Mr. Escobar has arrived, looking for his money and his nephew. Though Chili turns over the money he got from Leo, Catlett reneges on their deal. Bear starts beating Chili, but it is just an act. In the ensuing struggle, Catlett is pushed against the balcony railing (which was earlier secretly weakened by Bear). It collapses and Catlett plummets to his death, with Bear saving Chili from the same fate.

Ray confronts Chili and demands Leo’s money. Searching Chili’s pockets, he finds the airport locker key, so Ray heads there to get the cash. When he opens the locker, he is confronted by police. This scene blends into one being filmed on a Hollywood set, with actor Harvey Keitel playing Ray, while Martin Weir portrays the loanshark. Chili’s movie is being directed by Penny Marshall, with Harry as executive producer, Chili and Karen co-producers, and Bear a technical consultant.


This is one of those films that I have wanted to see, but for some reason just haven’t been inclined to rush out and pick it up. That’s not an indictment on the film itself, but rather the fact that there wasn’t anything that piqued my interest in the trailers and previews I had seen.

If not for a fluke occurrence of the top 10 films in my Netflix queue being on some sort of wait, then chances are I would have waited a little bit longer to watch this.

Get Shorty is one of those comedies that tries to be something it isn’t. what I mean by that is it tries to be serious and action-packed. The action I can live with, but when a film can’t make up its mind about its tone, we have issues. This film wants to be serious, but at the same time it doesn’t set that kind of tone. At the same time, the parts that are supposed to be funny, just aren’t.

John Travolta leads this underacheiving all-star cast. His role is pretty simple, a guy who wants out from under the thumb of his mob bosses and to become a Hollywood producer. Nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, his character actually has some of the best development in the picture. Travolta could have given his character a bit more…something. I just didn’t feel anything for the guy. He was just a guy hogging up most of the screentime for me.

Gene Hackman is a slightly off-kilter producer who it is never really said if he is sane or not. It doesn’t appear that he is, but that doesn’t mean anything, as he could just be eccentric. Hackman does what he can here, but I have to wonder who he lost a bet to in order to be stuck in this thing.

Delroy Lindo is the villain here. He doesn’t do half bad. you don’t even realize he’s the villain until a little past halfway through the film. Although, with those flamboyant suits,m it should have been obvious.

A secondary villain is played by Dennis Farina, Travolta’s boss in Miami. This guy is nothing but comic relief, though, except for the scene where he beats the living snot out of Hackman.

The plot to this film, as well as the pacing could have been thought out a bit more. It didn’t seem to flow, especially when they threw in the drugs at the airport. That just lost me and I never came back.

Get Shorty isn’t a bad film, but there are so many things that could have been better. In the same vein, there are plenty of things that could have been worse. Alot of people praise this film, but I don’t really see why. There is nothing memorable about it. Here it is 5 minutes after I finished it, and I can barely remember anything about it. I can recommend this in good conscience, but not without hesitation.

3 out of 5 stars

Resident Evil

Posted in Action/Adventure, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by Mystery Man


nside The Hive, a top-secret genetic research facility owned by the Umbrella Corporation located deep beneath Raccoon City, a lab technician tosses away a blue vial in a lab, exits, and seals the room. The vial breaks and the facility’s security system, The Red Queen, detects possible infection, and in response, seals the Hive, killing everyone inside.

Elsewhere, Alice (Milla Jovovich) awakens in an empty mansion with amnesia. She and a police officer, Matt (Eric Mabius), are seized by a group of commandos and taken to an underground train station which leads to The Hive. They are joined by Spence (James Purefoy), who is also suffering from amnesia. The head of the commandos, “One”, explains that everyone in the group is an employee of the Umbrella Corporation. It is also revealed that The Red Queen is responsible for releasing a nerve gas in the mansion which has caused their amnesia. When the train arrives, the group opens and enters The Hive.

The group eventually finds their way to The Queen’s chamber; however, as they attempt to disable her, four of the commandos, including One, are killed. The only commandos left alive are Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), Kaplan, and J.D. Alice and Kaplan then shut The Queen down, opening the doors of the facility, releasing the now zombified staff and other experiments into The Hive. During a battle between the group and some of the zombies, Rain becomes infected after receiving multiple bite wounds.

As the group moves throughout The Hive, Alice and Spence slowly regain their memory. Later, Matt and Alice are separated and J.D. is killed while Kaplan, Rain, and Spence remain in near The Queen’s chamber. Still separated, Matt looks for information about his sister. Meanwhile, Alice encounters several dogs which were experimented on and surprises herself when she uses martial arts to defend herself.

Matt eventually finds his sister, Lisa, who is now a zombie. As she attacks him, Alice arrives in time to save him. Matt explains that he and Lisa unsuccessfully attempted to smuggle out a sample of the blue vial, the T-Virus, in the hopes of taking down Umbrella. Matt believes this to be the fault of Lisa’s contact, who supposedly betrayed her. Alice, remembering she was Lisa’s contact, remains silent.

Soon, the survivors are once more united at The Queen’s chamber and are forced to switch her back on to find an exit; The Red Queen agrees to help them. As Alice and the others try to escape through the maintenance tunnels, they are ambushed by zombies. Kaplan is separated from the rest of the team on their way to the train. Alice suddenly remembers that an anti-virus exists that could cure T-Virus infection.

Upon their arrival at the lab, they find that the vials containing the T-Virus and anti-virus are gone. Spence, fully regaining his memory, is shown as the sole person who released the virus and stashed the anti-virus near the train. He points a gun at the survivors then traps them in the lab. He then heads toward the train, but before he can inject himself with the anti-virus, he is killed by a mutated creature called the Licker.

Back at the lab, The Queen offers to spare Alice and Matt if they kill Rain, who has been infected for the longest period of time. As the Licker attempts to bash through the lab window to get to them, a sudden power-outage occurs. The laboratory door opens to reveal Kaplan, who has permanently disabled the Red Queen.

The four survivors start the train before The Hive is locked in quarantine. As the train heads back to the mansion, the Licker kills Kaplan and attacks the group. Alice battles the Licker as Matt kills a now zombified Rain. Matt, after having been clawed by the Licker, opens a trap door on the bottom of the train, causing the Licker to be dragged along the track and burned to death.

Matt and Alice arrive at the mansion, and escape at the last moment when the doors close. Suddenly, Matt begins to mutate as the two are seized by Umbrella scientists. The scientists announce that Matt is to be part of the “Nemesis Program”. Alice attempts to fend them off, but is ultimately subdued. The other scientists are then heard voicing their intentions to reopen The Hive.

Later, Alice awakens at the Raccoon City Hospital, locked in an observation room. After escaping the room and wandering the hospital’s empty halls, Alice exits the building to find Raccoon City abandoned with signs of chaos everywhere. Alice takes a shotgun from a nearby police car, as the destruction of the city is fully shown.


I only played Resident Evil once, and it was early on in ym college career. I intended to play it again, but never got around to it. One of these days I will, though. In the meantime, there is this series of films.

As far as zombie holocaust type pictures go, one could do worse than Resident Evil.

I have to say that the biggest downfall of this picture is that it doesn’t really tell a definite story, but that is an affliction that 9 out of 10 video game films suffer from. This one, though, gets a tad confusing at the beginning until the attempt is made to explain the plot.

The cast is ok, but not the greatest. I’m not going to attack their acting skills, but when was the last time Mila Jovoich or Michelle Rodriguez were mentioned in the same breath as Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren? Having said that, this is the kind of film they are known for and it works for them.

I’m not sure what it was that irked me more about this film, the fact that the doctors so carelessly dropped an airbourne virus (without having some kind of failsafe emergency protocol in place), or the fact that it took Michelle Rodriguez until the end of the film to finally become a zombie, even though she was all but eaten up by those creatures. At the same time, one of the guys in her team was almost instantly changed. Something didn’t quite add up!

One of the coolest scenes in the film, besides the nearly nude Mila Jovovich scenes, was the laser grid. I kind of hoped they would have used it against the zombies instead of just having it as a pointless way to kill most of the team in the first half of the film.

All in all, Resident Evil has its flaws, but it is a pretty good flick. From what I hear, the sequels are the films to see, as this is the low point of the franchise. This remains to be seen by me, but given time I’ll find out if this statement is indeed true. In the meantime, I don’t see why you shouldn’t check this out. What harm will it do you?

3 out of 5 stars


Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by Mystery Man


Julius and Vincent Benedict are fraternal twins; the results of a secret experiment carried out at a genetics laboratory to produce the perfect child, using sperm donated by six different fathers. The mother, Mary Ann Benedict (who was thought to have died while giving birth to Vincent and Julius) was told that the children died at birth. Accepting this, she had gone on to become a successful artist. The program was considered a failure and shut down because of the conception of the twins, one inheriting the “desirable traits”, and the other, the “genetic trash”.

In fact, the children both survived. Vincent was placed in an orphanage run by nuns in Los Angeles, California whilst Julius was taken to an unnamed South Pacific island and raised by Professor Werner (one of the scientists involved in the experiment) like a modern Doc Savage to become highly intelligent, physically very strong and spiritually pure. He learned to speak twelve languages, and excelled in mathematics, history, science and literature. He was not told about his younger brother until his 35th birthday.

In Los Angeles, with no-one but himself to rely on, Vincent escaped from the orphanage as soon as he was old enough and developed into the ultimate lowlife, involved in shady business deals and car theft and in debt to loan sharks. He is also a womanizer and a smart aleck with a lust for money. He is about to be beaten up by the loan sharks when he is arrested for unpaid parking fines.

Julius is told about his unknown brother by Werner, and comes to Los Angeles to look for him. Highly intelligent, but extremely naïve about the real world his more worldly brother inhabits, he bails Vincent out of jail, and meets Vincent’s on-off-on girlfriend Linda Mason. Knowing little about women, Julius doesn’t understand the flirtatious advances of her blonde sister Marnie (who dislikes Vincent), but eventually falls in love with her.

Using a stolen Cadillac that’s carrying a secret prototype fuel injector, which Vincent is delivering to a rival industrialist in Houston, Texas, the two couples go on a cross-country journey to track down the scientist who was in charge of the experiment, and pressure him to reveal the location of their mother, who they find out has founded an art colony. Visiting the colony, they’re informed their mother died and leave. In reality, the woman who told them of the passing is in fact their mother, but she didn’t believe the story, fearing they were land speculators and since she didn’t even know she had twins. Little do they know that the real contract delivery man for the injector, a hitman known only as “The Webster”, is tracking them. This man has the uncomfortable habit of killing the people who cross him in his business (including his contractors) if they see his face, in order to preserve his identity.

While Julius seems to accept their mother’s death, Vincent however is angry and disappointed, taking it out on Linda and Julius. Vincent storms off, leaving Julius and the girls stranded in New Mexico, and delivers the stolen property in return for five million dollars. But as Vincent is about to return home with the money, the industrialist, Donald “Beetroot” McKinley, is shot and killed by The Webster. Julius saves him from being killed by The Webster, after Linda told him where Vincent was going despite promising earlier that she wouldn’t tell. A cat-and-mouse chase ensues, but Julius is able to stall The Webster long enough for Vincent to release a heavy chain onto his head, killing The Webster and burying him in a mountain of chains. Vincent and Julius make amends, and Julius implores a reluctant Vincent to return the money and the stolen engine. Vincent agrees, but secretly skims off one million.

They return the money, marry the sisters, and use the $50,000 reward money to start up a legitimate consulting business, utilizing Julius’s knowledge and Vincent’s questionable business savvy. As a result of the publicity, their mother tracks them down and they are tearfully reunited (after she tracks down the scientist who told her they died and punches him for lying to her). In the end, both brothers end up having pairs of twins with their respective wives, their mother and Professor Werner as a big happy family.


Can you picture two more polar opposites of a gene pool than Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito? Short of having  Vincent and Julius be of two different races or one of them ended up being female or an alien or something, I can’t think of a bigger contrast. This is why Twins works. The two of them play up the differences and play them down at the same time.

I’m not familiar with genetics and all that science mumbo jumbo, but it was brought to my attention that this could never happen. The twins would look more alike. sort of like Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, perhaps? Had they had gone the real route with this, though, I don’t think the film would have worked.

The plot of this picture is actually quite interesting. Schwarzenegger leaves his island paradise where he has been taught all the other things in life to find his long lost twin brother, who is “of the world”. After then meet up, they embark on a trip t find their mom and there is a side plot dealing with a jet engine.

The side plots of the aforementioned jet engine an the loan sharks seemed to be only in there to get Schwarzenegger some action. Though, the loan shark angle helps develop the character of Vincent.

Schwarzenegger and DeVito are the major players in the film, but the girlfriends, played by Kelly Preston and Chloe Webb aren’t too shabby, albeit underused. I kind of felt like they could have been a bigger part of the road trip, especially since they disappeared afer Vncent’s blowup in New Mexico.

Twins was a surprise in that no one though Arnold could do comedy due to him being a bona-fide action star. I like how there is a scene where he stands in front of a Stallone poster, flexes, then laughs. Classic! Do I belive you should check this film out? Why of course? Why wouldn’t I? It is hilarious and has a good story, to boot.

4 out of 5 stars