Archive for June, 2010

The Wolfman (2010)

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

PLOT:

he film opens with the original rhyme as told by the gypsy Maleva:

Even a man who is pure of heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

In 1891 in the Blackmoor woods, Ben Talbot is confronted by a superhumanly wolf-like creature. He tries to escape, but is followed and subsequently mauled and killed by the creature.

Renowned Shakespearean actor Lawrence Talbot is touring London in a stage production of Hamlet when he receives word of his brother’s disappearance from Gwen Conliffe, Ben’s fiancé. Lawrence races to the family estate in Blackmoor and reunites with his estranged father, Sir John. It is revealed that when Lawrence was young, his mother Solana committed suicide. It was afterwards that Sir John sent Lawrence to an insane asylum in London. Lawrence then learns that Ben’s mauled body had been found the day before.

Lawrence goes into town to see the body, which is kept at the local slaughterhouse. He recoils from the sight of his brother; who has been viciously mauled to death by something that cannot be human. The butcher gives Ben’s personal effects to Lawrence. Later, in the local tavern, Lawrence overhears the locals debate about who was responsible. Many blame a band of gypsies who are camped outside of town. Another claims that several decades earlier a similar murder had happened and that his father suspected a werewolf. Among Ben’s belongings was a medallion that had been purchased from the gypsies. The medallion shows a monk in a position of prayer with two wolves, one on either side of the monk, apparently chasing him.

When Gwen leaves for London after the funeral, Lawrence goes to the gypsy camp on the night of a full moon. Maleva tells him that something evil had befallen his brother. The local townspeople descend on the camp to force them to turn over a bear that might have been the killer. But the wolf-like creature descends on the camp, slaughtering most people. Lawrence sees a young boy run into the woods. Intending to rescue him, Lawrence follows but is attacked by the wolf, who bites him on the shoulder before being chased off by the armed townspeople. Maleva sutures his large neck wounds. Her daughter says Lawrence should be killed, but Maleva refuses, saying he is still a man. Only a loved one can kill him.

Gwen returns to Talbot Hall to nurse Lawrence back to health. He has several fearful dreams but after a few weeks appears to have completely healed. Sir John’s faithful Sikh manservant, Singh, shows Lawrence the silver bullets he has and implies that something monstrous is on the loose in Blackmoor. Inspector Aberline arrives from London to investigate the recent murders. He suspects Lawrence because of his past mental issues and masterful portrayals of mentally ill protagonists like Hamlet and Macbeth. Worried about what might happen, Lawrence sends Gwen away. He then follows Sir John to Solana’s crypt. He finds his father in the catacombs beneath the crypt, in a shrine to his dead mother, a shrine that includes a chair specially fitted with restraints. Sir John tells Lawrence that he has been “dead” for years, and then locks himself in the room alone. As Lawrence tries to leave, he turns into the Wolfman. Rampaging through the woods, he kills several townspeople who had created a trap in hopes of catching the monster. The next day, Sir John leads Aberline and the local police to where a dazed, bloody human Lawrence is hiding.

Having been taken to the same asylum in London where he was incarcerated as a child, Lawrence is subjected to ice-water and electrotherapy treatments overseen by the sadistic Dr. Hoenneger. Sir John visits Lawrence to explain the curse hanging over the family. Many years before, Sir John had been hunting in India. Intrigued by reports of an unusual predator living in a remote cave, Sir John traveled to a remote area. In the cave, he was bitten by a feral boy and infected with lycanthropy. Lawrence realizes that he had seen his father as a werewolf kill their mother. Sir John had relied on Singh to imprison him during full moons. Yet one night, Sir John got drunk and into a heated argument with Ben. Having knocked Singh out and unable to lock himself in, Sir John killed Ben and attacked the gypsy camp. Now invigorated by the power of being a werewolf, Sir John has no intention of restraining his power anymore.

Dr. Hoenneger takes Lawrence to an observation room to present him to his colleagues as an interesting test case. Inspector Aberline is also in attendance. As the full moon streams through the window, Lawrence transforms into the Wolfman in front of the doctors. He kills Hoenneger and escapes into the night, pursued by Aberline. The Wolfman kills several people before disappearing into the night. The next day, a human Lawrence visits Gwen at her antiques shop. They realize they have fallen in love. Aberline arrives and searches the shop. But Lawrence has already escaped and begun the long walk back to Blackmoor.

Gwen studies lycanthropy and tracks down Maleva to ask her help. Maleva confirms that Lawrence cannot be cured and asks God to help Gwen to do what she must. Aberline tracks Lawrence to Blackmoor, this time armed with silver bullets. Gwen also makes her way to Blackmoor.

Lawrence arrives at Talbot Hall and finds Singh’s mauled body hanging in the foyer. He loads the gun with Singh’s silver bullets and tracks Sir John through the house. When he finds Sir John he is unable to shoot; Sir John revealing that he removed the powder shells from the silver bullets years ago, but Singh never knew, and Sir John beats Lawrence. When the full moon rises, they both transform into werewolves and fight, setting Talbot Hall on fire in the process. In their struggle, Sir John seems to have the upper hand until the Wolfman kicks Sir John into the fire, burning him alive, and then decapitates him. Gwen arrives hoping to save Lawrence. When the Wolfman attacks her, Aberline bursts in and shoots at him but Gwen interrupts. As Gwen flees with Aberline’s revolver, the Wolfman bites Aberline but chases Gwen rather than finish him off.

The Wolfman traps Gwen above a waterfall. She lays down the gun and pleads with Lawrence still inside the beast. Lawrence’s consciousness faintly returns where the Wolfman recognizes her and hesitates. When he is distracted by the sounds of a mob coming to kill him, Gwen retrieves the revolver and shoots him with a silver bullet just before he can bite her. As he lays dying, Lawrence reverts to human form and thanks Gwen for doing what needed to be done. The wounded Aberline with the silver wolf’s head cane and the mob arrive as Lawrence dies.

Gwen’s parting words are heard as the fires continue to burn Talbot Hall:

“It is said there is no sin in killing a beast
Only in killing a man
But where does one begin and the other end?”

Then, a howl is suddenly heard – possibly from Aberline who was bitten by the Wolfman.

REVIEW:

This remake of the immortal 1941 classic The Wolf Man does nothing but spit on the legacy. Before I go any further, I should state that it is no secret that I hate remakes, but I keep an open mind about new films. You never know what you can get.

The Wolfman suffers from the similar fate as the Psycho remake. In an effort to not insult the fan base of the original (as if the sheer thought of remaking this wasn’t enough to do that), they just “update” the story for modern audiences. In other words, they took the original, added some special effects, swearing, and gore and came up with this…this….THING!

Speaking of the effects, one of the most anticipated scenes in any werewolf film is the when the transformation takes place. I have to say that, to an extent, this is one of the best parts about this flick. Don’t go thinking I liked this film, though, or that I believed that was one of the best transformation scenes in cinema, because it wasn’t, but considering how bad the last werewolf transformation scene I saw was in The Twilight Saga: New Moon, anything would have looked better than it actually was.

The plot, as I said, is pretty much the same as in the REAL The Wolf Man, but they decided to add some unnecessary drama and twists to make it more “interesting”. What I mean by that is there is this whole thing where Larry falls in love with his now deceased brother’s fiancée. There is animosity between Larry and Sir Talbot, in contrast to the original where they loved each other immensely. If that wasn’t bad enough, there is the angle that Sir Talbot is a wolf himself, and responsible for the death of his wife and son. WTF?!? What crackhead thought up this crap?

As far as action and gore go, this is okay for what they were trying to do.

Benecio del Toro is actually inspired casting as a werewolf, in that he resembles one naturally. That’s really about all I have to say about his wooden performance.

Breathtakingly beautiful Emily Blunt left Iron Man 2 to make this. In hindsight, I have to wonder if she thinks that was a good decision. Blunt actually may be the one bright spot here. Speaking as a guy, though, I have to question why they didn’t have her in more cleavage bearing corsets from this era.

Anthony Hopkins does what you expect from him. No more…no less. Same goes for Hugo Weaving. My guess is that these extremely talented actors are fans of the original and thought they were getting into something more worthwhile, rather than this drivel.

Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin, plays the gypsy Maleva. In the original, Maleva is a major character, but here, she is reduced to a cameo. Ugh!

I really want something bad to happen to whoever thought this was going to be good. While there are a few redeeming qualities tht keep it this from being totally horrible, they are few and far between and not enough to say that this is worth seeing. My recommendation is to not waste your time with this, but rather check out the superior original, as opposed to this inferior remake. All this movie is is further proof that remakes do not work!!!! 

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Adventures of the American Rabbit

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , on June 30, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The story begins just after the birth of Robert Rabbit. As his parents and friends welcome him into the world, a mysterious old rabbit whose walking is assisted by a cane greets young Rob and disappears. Neither parent knew who he was, each assuming that he was from the opposite side of the family. Rob grows up as a normal child, learning to play the piano. One day his parents become endangered by a falling boulder. Rob sprints towards them and changes into a star and striped spangled superhero on golden rollerskates. The old man on his cane reappears and tells Rob that he is the American Rabbit; capable of changing into superhero form when he sprints and capable of being changed back to normal when someone, or he himself, says his name.

As Rob moves to the big city he decides to keep his secret identity hidden. He finds a job as a piano player in the Panda Monium nightclub (run by a panda named Teddy and female rabbit Bunny O’ Hare) that is harassed by a gang of jackals and their mafia style protection racket. Bunny O’ Hare and Teddy organize a march & rally the next day. The Jackals ruin the march the next day, but are thwarted by the American Rabbit. Teddy then announces at the rally his plans to rebuild the Panda Monium and announces he will do a cross-country tour with the White Bros. in order to raise money.

Walt gets mad and comes up with a plan with the jackal gang to kidnap a gorilla named Ping Pong, forcing him to destroy the American Rabbit. The motorcycle gang kidnaps Ping Pong, but is rescued by the American Rabbit. at their Grand Canyon hideout “The Trap Door” (disguised as a club). Rob and the gang decide to go to New Orleans to play at “The Hog and Frog”, but find that it has been burnt down. O’Hare sees a sign advertised for a band to play at the Paradise club. They end up with the club, until Rob realizes that the manager is part of the Jackal gang.

Teddy and his crew board a boat, where they are trapped inside while Voltur and has crew engulf the boat in flames. Rob becomes the American Rabbit and manages to get everybody off before the boat explodes. Bunny O’Hare stars to worry about Rob, but the American Rabbit assures her that he’s fine. He will do a search for Rob and learn more about the mysterious fire. He overhears a plan for Walt and the Jackals to head to New York, where their master plan is afoot. The American Rabbit head back into the water, where he transforms back into Rob and swims to shore. He suggests to Teddy that they should go to New York. Worried they do not have instruments, Teddy tells them that he’s got connections (they turn out to be penguins)

Walt and his group, meanwhile, the jackals decide to take over a moose run chocolate factory and in turn cut off the chocolate supply to the city, by kidnapping a moose and his son, Junior. Walt reveals their plan to control the world through their chocolate supply, and they’re “renting” the Statue of Liberty as bait. The American Rabbit interferes with their plan, and clobbers Walt. Walt’s clothes are the only thing that remain; it is revealed that “Walt” is actually the buzzard. He uses the American Rabbit to do his bidding after he threatens to blow up the Statue of Liberty with his doomsday switch.

Some time passes and the Buzzard’s laws are enacted upon the city, and Rob leaves his friends to take a taxi ride home. However, the city turns on the Jackals, which makes the Buzzard angry at them and calls Rodney (the Jackal’s leader) a traitor for siding with the people. Humiliated and defeated, Rob tells the driver that he’s a failure, and the taxi driver turns out to be the elderly rabbit from the beginning of the film, who advises Rob that he can’t win em all, but he can make “a power play of his own”. Rob notices an ad for Niagara Falls, which brings him back to action. He cuts the power supply, causing the doomsday switch to be deactivated. The Buzzard faces the American Rabbit once and for all, but the Rabbit chases the Buzzard into a blizzard. The Buzzard makes one last attempt to kill the Rabbit by lunging at him, but plunges to his death.

The American Rabbit returns as Rob to rescue his friends, and gets a kiss from Bunny O’ Hare

REVIEW:

I’ve already had more than a few people ask me why I love this film so much. So, I got a whole bunch of them over tonight and watched this great non-Disney animated flick from my childhood. If I’m not mistaken, this is one of the first films I saw in theaters, and was probably there first cartoon movie I saw that wasn’t Disney (along with All Dogs Go to Heaven and/or The Land Before Time).

I have to start by saying this film already has a negative mark for trying to blatantly rip off the Superman theme. It is one thing to quote such great music, but it is quite another to try to make your stuff sound the exact same. Just a minor issue I have with this flick.

So, what is it that makes The Adventures of the American Rabbit such an endearing tale to me? Well, I think it is the great story. Sure, it is the basic superhero plot we all have engrained in our heads by now. You know, small town boy grows up, gets super powers, heads to big city, and all of a sudden foils a super villain in his first outing. Sure, that’s been overdone, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

The voice casting is full of all-star voices from the 80s. Rob Rabbit’s voice is provided by Barry Gordon, best known as Donatello from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. Also, there is Lorenzo Music, the longtime voice of Garfield. Also in the cast is Kenneth Mars, an accomplished actor as well as voice. Animation fans are sure to recognize his pipes, but his biggest role may very well be as King Triton from The Little Mermaid.

The villain that holds this film together is a bit og a mystery. Vultor is the leader of a pack of jackals (who look more like foxes), and holds a vulture on a perch. After an encounter with the American Rabbit, it is revealed that the buzzard is actually the boss and the “man” was just some clothes. One of the best things about this film was this little deception.

The animation of this flick is typical 80s, but I didn’t care for how many of the non-rabbit characters such as Teddy and Ping Pong, have huge heads. It was like they ran into some kind of radiation and get enlarged craniums.

THe nostalgia factor makes this a better film than it really is, at least for me. Sure, there are plot holes galore here and you can drive a tank through most of them, but wasn’t that what was so great about the 80s? You didn’t need to know every detail about everything, but rather just enjoyed what you watched without trying to decipher and analyze everything about it. I recommend this to everyone, but to fully enjoy The Adventures of the American Rabbit, one has to lose themself and just enjoy the ride.

4 out of 5 stars

Attack of the 50 ft Woman

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , on June 30, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A TV Announcer (Dale Tate) tells of people around the globe spotting a floating red ball. Nancy Archer (Allison Hayes) is a wealthy but highly troubled woman. She’s speeding along the desert roads at night, fleeing her problems. A glowing ball settles on the highway in front of her. A giant reaches for her, but she runs back to town. No one believes in her story because of her drinking problem and having been institutionalized before. Her shifty husband (William Hudson) is more interested in his floozy (Yvette Vickers). Nonetheless, he pretends to be the good husband in hopes that Nancy will ‘snap’ and return to the ‘booby hatch’. She convinces him to search the desert with her, looking for the “satellite”. Eventually, they find it, and as the giant emerges Harry flees, leaving Nancy behind. Later, Nancy is found on the roof of her pool house. She’s sedated by her doctor. Harry thinks to give her a lethal injection of sedative, but when he goes up to her room, he finds she’s grown into a giant. The sheriff and Nancy’s Butler find and explore the alien’s spherical ship. Seems the giant alien needs diamonds, perhaps fuel. The giant alien interrupts, wrecking their car, so they walk back. Nancy awakens and breaks free. Determined to find her wayward husband, she breaks through the roof of her house, and stomps off to town. In town, she takes the roof off the bar. A beam falls on the floozy, killing her. Nancy picks up Harry and walks away, The sheriff shoots at her to no apparent effect, but accidentally hits a power line transformer. It blows up near Nancy and kills her, with Harry lying crushed in her hand.

REVIEW:

One of the true classics of the golden age of cinema in terms of true camp has to be Attack of the 50 ft Woman. I have found that this film is highly underrated, though.

Yes, I said underrated. My reason for that statement is that the 50 ft woman doesn’t stack up toe likes of Dracula, Wolf Man, Frankenstein, Blob, and other various creatures. Seems to me that a giant half-naked (for that time) woman would be a huge hit. Maybe I’m wrong, but weren’t males just as horny back then as we are today (they just didn’t make it so obvious…lol)?

This thing has been remade a couple of times, neither of which stacks up toi the original (remakes never work…I don’t know how many times I can reiterate that point). The biggest (pardon the pun)  homage to the character, though, may be Ginormica in Monsters vs. Aliens. 

I was not too familiar with this tale before watching it tonight, so when I found out that aliens were involved the first thing that popped in my head ws this is such a 50s movie. It seems like back then anything that happened was traced back to either aliens or Russians.

Given that this is from the 50s, you have to adjust for the technology at the time. Doing so, I have to question why the giant alien and Nancy were see through. If I’m not mistaken, they had green screen back then. I may be wrong, though. For me, it was rather distracting.

Characterwise, you’d be hard pressed to find a more despicable character than the husband, Henry. This guy is cheating on his wife, who he had committed, but didn’t break up with her because of her vast fortune. When she is  irradiated and sick, he leaves to be with the other woman. Then, when she starts screaming for him and is about to start traipsing around town searching, he pays it no mind until she breaks in the bar and snatches him away. He gets what he deserves, that’s for sure!

Nancy isn’t really that much of a character belive it or not. Well, I take that back. She stats off as a major role, then as the film progress, she become a big plastic hand chained from the ceiling, and then some sort of holographic projection of herself stomping to town.

Finally, they touched on the Star of India powering the alien’s satellite ship, but never say why, nor do we find out what happens to the alien after he smashes the sheriff and butler’s car. Don’t really need to know all that, but it would be nice to have some answers.

As far as 50s sci-fi goes, this is not the greatest of the genre, but it is worth watching just for the cheesy effects. Granted the dialogue and acting are very bad, but that can be looked over if you consider this a B-movie. I recommend this to fans of classic sci-fi and camp. It will not disappoint.

3 out of 5 stars

Street Fighter

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

PLOT:

A multinational military force known as the Allied Nations has managed to enter the fictional South East Asian nation of Shadaloo to combat the armed forces of a drug lord turned General named M. Bison, who has recently captured several dozen AN workers. Via a live two-way TV broadcast, Bison demands AN regional commander William F. Guile secure a $20 billion ransom in three days, or he will kill the hostages and the world will hold Guile and the AN accountable. Guile’s assistant, Cammy, is only able to partially trace Bison’s signal, determining that his hideout is somewhere in the river-delta region outside Shadaloo City.

Among the captured AN relief workers is Carlos “Charlie” Blanka, a peacekeeper and one of Guile’s closest friends. Bison orders his henchmen to send Blanka to a laboratory and turn him into a mutated soldier, the first of many, which Bison plans to use to help him conquer the world. Dr. Dhalsim, a captured scientist, decides to sabotage Bison’s scheme by tweaking the brainwashing process to retain Blanka’s humanity.

Meanwhile, in an underground fighting arena, con artists Ryu and Ken attempt to sell fake arms to Shadaloo’s Tong crime syndicate leader Victor Sagat. His plan to kill them both by having them fight his champion, Vega is interrupted when Guile crashes the building and takes everyone into custody. Guile later presses Ryu and Ken into infiltrating Sagat’s gang by staging a prison-break and faking his own death. The plan hits a snag when news reporter Chun-Li Zang, who wants revenge against Bison for the death of her father, finds out that Guile is alive. Her partners, Sumo wrestler E. Honda and professional boxer Balrog, each of whom hold a grudge against Sagat for ruining their reputations, attempt to kill Bison and Sagat with a truck bomb, which destroys much of Bison’s arms cache but fails to kill the dictator. Chun-Li and her friends are captured when Ryu and Ken seemingly turn on them, to earn Bison’s trust.

Once in the fortress (which is built under a Cambodian temple similar to Angkor Wat), they free Balrog and Honda, and the four of them go to “save” Chun-Li, who is fighting a surprised Bison in his private quarters. Unfortunately, the arrival of the others interrupts Chun-Li long enough for Bison to escape and trap the five of them by sedating them with gas.

Meanwhile the AN is able to locate Bison’s headquarters from Ryu’s homing device and the explosion at Bison’s camp, and since Bison’s air defenses are too powerful they begin planning an amphibious assault on the base. A group of peace negotiators inform Guile that the invasion is no longer authorized, since the ransom demand is about to be paid, but Guile protests what he sees as appeasement and rallies the troops to assault anyway.

As Guile, T. Hawk and Cammy head up river, they are attacked by Bison who uses underwater mines to blow up their speedboat, but narrowly escape into the fortress, where Guile is attacked by a horribly mutated Blanka, who then recognizes him as his friend. Guile almost kills Blanka to end his suffering, but Dhalsim intervenes and persuades Guile not to do so. After learning from Dhalsim that Bison attempts to use Blanka to execute the hostages, Guile hides in Blanka’s incubation chamber and takes Bison by surprise. At the same time a huge battle ensues between Captain Sawada’s AN forces and the Shadoloo troops. Ken attempts to leave the battle, but returns to save Ryu from an ambush, and the two of them defeat Vega and Sagat after an intense fight. Meanwhile, Guile seems to be winning against Bison, until an automatic revival system brings Bison back to life and charges his body with great amounts of electromagnetism, allowing him to shoot lightning bolts and fly across the air.

After taking a serious beating, Guile finally discovers Bison’s weak point, and uses it to send him flying against his gigantic monitor wall, where he crashes and is hung by the neck. The damage causes severe electrical disturbances which destabilize the power system of the base, but the heroes find and release the hostages just in time, and everyone evacuates. Guile finds the lab and tries to persuade Dhalsim and Blanka to escape with him now that Bison has been defeated, but Blanka refuses to return to society in his condition, and Dhalsim decides to atone for his actions by accompanying him. When the temple comes crashing down after an explosion everyone thinks that Guile is dead, but then he appears from amongst the smoke. After Guile converses with Chun-Li, Ryu, Ken, Cammy, Zangief, Balrog, E-Honda, T-Hawk and Sawada, they see the last ruins of the temple fall and take their familiar win poses from the video game as the camera freezes and fades out.

In the home video version of the film, a post-credits scene returns to the ruins of M. Bison’s lair, as the main computer announces that its batteries are recharging from solar power and it begins fibrillating Bison’s heart with electricity. Bison’s fist suddenly smashes through the rubble, and on a computer screen the resurrected dictator selects “World Domination: Replay.”

REVIEW:

Steet Fighter was never my favorite fighting game. That honor went to Mortal Kombat. I did think that the characters would make for an interesting enough movie, but after watching this thing and remembering the total waste of time that was Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, I can’t help but wonder if that is even possible.

First off let me say that is becoming more and more apparent that video games should not be turned into movies. 9 times out of 10 they flop and with the news this week that they have optioned the hit facebook…yes I  said Facebook…game Mafia Wars to become a film, I’m sure the flops will keep coming. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Since Street Fighter is all about fighting and a tournament, two films thst did it right come to mine. First is D.O.A.: Dead or Alive. While this wasn’t the greatest plot flick, it brought the tournament to the forefront, with a secondary take over the world plot. The best video game flick that Street Fighter could learn from, however, has to be Mortal Kombat, I know that’s the last thing Fighter freaks want to hear as it is the Kombatants that  killed the game franchise in the first place, but it is true. Mortal Kombat was the greatest video game adaptation for quite a while and, disregarding the sequel, still ranks among one of the best. The reason for this is that they used the main character.

It seems every Street Fighter film or cartoon chooses to give the spotlight to any and everyone but Ken and Ryu who are the main characters. I don’t really know why. I’m still scratching my head about the whole Chun-Li movie.

Now, Street Fighter was released in 1994, and is probably best known as Raul Julia’s last performance. If you’re going to go out with a bang, then what a way to go. He is the most memorable character of this film, and is also the closest to the source material, as far as I know.

Jean-Claude Van Damme stunk up the joint. First of all, Guile is blonde and American. Why, oh why, did they decide to make him an orange haired Belgian? If not for the martial arts scenes, I would really question casting Van Damme, but he does he is known for his fighting ability, so I can’t fault them for casting for that purpose. However, the acting and accent is just too much and ruins pretty much the entire flick for me.

The rest of the cast does what they can in very small supporting roles. It was more of a case of too many characters being crammed in and not getting time to develop them. I have no problem with trying to get them all in, if you can get them all the time they deserve. If not, then you should save some for a sequel or cameos.

The action in this flick is what you would expect from a film in the genre and the plot is a bit predictable, complete with exploding villain headquarters.

Does Street Fighter stack up to other video game adaptations? Not really. It may very well be one of the worst franchises to be adapted to the big screen, but this version is infinitely better than that Chun-Li movie, of that there is no question. If you must see a Street Fighter movie, then check this one out, or look for one of the animated films, or better yet, just play the game. I cannot recommend this to anyone unless you want to see Raul Julia in his last role because that is really the major redeeming factor for this thing.

2 out of 5 stars

The Lost Boys

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on June 27, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Michael Emerson (Jason Patric) and his younger brother Sam (Corey Haim) move with their just-divorced mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest) to Santa Carla, a coastal California town plagued by gang activity and unexplained disappearances. The family moves in with Lucy’s father (Barnard Hughes), a cantankerous and eccentric old man who lives on the outskirts of town, and enjoys taxidermy as a hobby.

The center of town life is the boardwalk and amusement park, which is plastered with flyers of missing people. While Lucy gets a job at a local video store run by a conservative man named Max (Edward Hermann), Michael becomes fascinated by Star (Jami Gertz), a beautiful young woman who lives with the mysterious leader of the local gang, David (Kiefer Sutherland). When Michael meets Star the next night, David provokes him into a motorcycle race, in which he is baited into almost going over the edge of a sea cliff.

David invites Michael to their lair, a once-luxurious hotel sunken by an earthquake, where he is put through an unsettling initiation that includes drinking blood from a wine bottle. He joins the gang in hanging from the underside of elevated train tracks, watching in horror as each willingly drops into a foggy gorge below. Unable to hold his grip any longer, Michael falls… waking up in his bed, groggy and disoriented.

Meanwhile, in the local comic book store, Sam meets brothers Edgar and Alan Frog (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), self-proclaimed vampire hunters who give Sam horror comics to teach him about vampires. Sam scoffs at them until Michael’s developing vampirism becomes clear; his dog Nanook is forced to fend off Michael’s bloodlust-driven attack on Sam, who notices that Michael’s reflection has become transparent.

Sam turns to the Frog brothers for help, but refuses their advice to kill Michael. He turns their suspicions to Max, who has begun dating Lucy, suggesting that he is the head vampire whose death will free half-vampires such as Michael, who have not yet killed anyone. At a dinner party held by Lucy, they put Max through a series of tests (including the use of garlic and holy water), which appear to indicate that he is normal, greatly embarrassing Lucy. After discovering that he can fly, Michael visits Star to question her about the physical changes he is experiencing, and the two make love.

Michael resists joining David and the gang when they enter a feeding frenzy, attacking a group of surf nazis at a bonfire. Star reveals to Michael that she too is a half-vampire, and wants his help. It emerges that David had intended Michael to be Star’s first kill, sealing her fate as a fully-fledged vampire. The next day, a weakening Michael leads Sam and the Frog brothers to the gang’s lair, where they intend to kill the vampires in their sleep. But the staking of one vampire awakens David and the two others, and they barely escape with their lives, managing to rescue Star and Laddie, a recently abducted child half-vampire.

That evening, while Lucy is on a date with Max and Grandpa is out of the house, the teens arm themselves with weapons based on traditional defences against vampires. David and the gang attack, and are each killed in a spectacular fashion during the epic battle. Michael faces off with David, and ultimately impales him on a pair of mounted deer antlers. However Michael doesn’t transform back to normal with David’s death as they had expected.

Max and Lucy arrive, and Max is revealed as the head vampire, having passed the Frog brothers’ tests only on the technicality of having been invited into the house. Max’s objective all along was to get Lucy to be a “mother” for his “lost boys”, but his grand plan is thwarted by Grandpa — who has been aware of the vampires all along — crashing his jeep through the wall of the house, impaling Max on the wooden fence posts he is carrying. Michael, Star and Laddie return to normal. The film ends with Grandpa calmly retrieving a drink from the fridge, seemingly oblivious to the carnage around him. He then declares, “One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach…all the damn vampires”

REVIEW:

Now, here is something that we just don’t see too much of these days, vampires with no werewolves in sight.

The Lost Boys cane best be described as the film that launched the careers of the Corys (Haim and Feldman), even though they don’t have any one on one scenes together.

This is not your typical vampire film…or is it? There is the group of vampires that have assimilated into the culture without anyone knowing what they really are.

These vampires are not believable. I actually find the glitterati Twilight franchise vampires more believable. I mean, I realize this was the 80s, and I take that into consideration, but it seems as if they just stuck some fake teeth on these guys and gave them some colored contacts and called theme vampires.

Keifer Sutherland should stick to saving the world in 24 hrs, because as a head vampire, he just doesn’t inspire me to follow him. Why he was chosen for this role is beyond me.

Alex Winter does work as one of the psychotic underlings, though, so that is a good thing.

Jason Patric is so overwhelmed by his hormones that he follows this random group of biker things off a cliff just for one girl. WTF?!? I know she wasn’t bad looking or anything ,but when you move to a new town you don’t want to fall in with a bad crowd, and that’s exactly what he does, thus giving us the plot for the whole movie. Real interesting, huh?

I don’t really know why people are so enamored with this flick. I was not impressed. I’ve seen better, but at the same time, I’ve seen worse. They have this listed as a comedy, but don’t ask me why. I can’t bash this film, because it doesn’t deserve such treatment. At the same time, I won’t bow down and worship at the temple of The Lost Boys like so many people. Is it worth a viewing, though? Sure, I can recommend it as a good afternoon viewing or an 80s party, but not for much else. Still, it’d be better than the sequels which, against all better judgement, there are two.

3 out of 5 stars

Trick ‘r Treat

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 26, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film is an anthology of four Halloween-related scary stories. One thing that ties the stories together is the presence of Sam (Quinn Lord), a mysterious pint-sized trick-or-treater wearing shabby orange pajamas with a burlap sack over his head. He makes an appearance in all the stories as a ‘friendly-reminder’ to those who break Halloween traditions.

Emma (Leslie Bibb) and Henry (Tahmoh Penikett) have set up numerous ghost-scarecrows for Halloween in their yard. Emma tries to blow out a jack-o’-lantern by their fence, but Henry tells her not to because it’s against tradition; she blows out the jack-o’-lantern anyway. While Henry is inside waiting for Emma to take down the decorations, she is murdered with a large pumpkin lollipop by an unknown assailant. Later, Henry goes outside and finds Emma’s severed head hung up on one of the ghost-scarecrows.

Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker), the town principal, poisons Charlie (Brett Kelly), a boy caught stealing candy from Wilkins’ porch. Wilkins buries Charlie in his backyard, along with another body, and has a run-in with his neighbor Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox) and his dog. Later, Wilkins helps his son Billy (Connor Christopher Levins) carve a “jack-o’-lantern” in their basement, which is revealed to be Charlie’s severed head.
Five teenagers, Macy (Britt McKillip), Schrader (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), Sara (Isabelle Deluce), Chip (Alberto Ghisi), and Rhonda (Samm Todd), journey to the local rock quarry where Macy tells them the local urban legend of “The Halloween School Bus Massacre”. Thirty years ago, a school bus containing eight children, all mentally challenged and disturbed to the point of needing to be chained to their chairs, crashed into the lake at the bottom of the quarry; the bus driver was the only one who survived. As the group investigates the quarry, a prank meant for Rhonda instead turns deadly when the legend proves to be true and the school bus children return from the grave and kill everyone except Rhonda, who gets revenge against the group by escaping up the quarry’s lone elevator.
 
Laurie (Anna Paquin), a self-conscious 22-year-old “virgin”, goes into the woods after deciding to separate from her group of promiscuous friends. There, she is attacked by a vampire, while her sister and her friends party nearby at a bonfire with men they picked up along the way. The vampire’s body suddenly drops from a tree onto the party and Laurie appears. The “vampire” is revealed to be Principal Wilkins in disguise wearing fake fangs. The girls at the party, along with Laurie, suddenly transform into werewolves and devour their dates along with Wilkins.
 
Kreeg, a cantankerous, Halloween-hating, curmudgeon lives alone with his dog, Spite. While in his house, Kreeg is attacked by Sam. During the struggle, Kreeg rips off the sack over Sam’s head to reveal his head to be a cross between a jack-o-lantern and a skull. Kreeg gains the upper hand when he manages to fire his shotgun at Sam, seemingly killing him. As Kreeg dials 9-1-1, Sam attacks him again, stabbing him with a large pumpkin sucker which lodges in a candy bar sitting on Kreeg’s chest. Sam proceeds to eat the candy bar and then leaves the house. Meanwhile, pictures burning slowly in a nearby fireplace show a class photo of the children from the “School Bus Massacre” and the bus driver, revealed to be Kreeg himself.
 
Bandaged and bruised from his encounter with Sam, Kreeg answers his door to give candy to some children. While on his porch, he sees Sam go to Emma and Henry’s house just as she is blowing out the jack-o’-lantern. Rhonda walks across the street and is almost hit by the laughing, human-form werewolf girls in their vehicle. Young Billy Wilkins is sitting on his porch handing out candy wearing a “Principal Wilkins” costume. Kreeg then walks back inside when the bell rings again. He opens the door to find the kids from the School Bus Massacre standing there with their bags outstretched. The ending is rendered as comic book pages showing the bus driver’s fate at the hands of the zombie children.
 
REVIEW:

You’d think I’d have waited until Halloween to watch a film called Trick ‘r Treat, right? Well, that was the intention, but Netflix had other ideas, and somehow this ended up coming this week, even though it was down quite aways on my list, but that’s neither here or there.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that this thing was a direct-to-DVD release. Unlike most films that “suffer that fate”, this one actually appears to have some thought behind it.

Four intertwining stories going on in the span of one Halloween night connected by this mysterious childlike, burlap sack wearing character who they call “Sam”.

The stories were a bit confusing…at least to me. Not because of any sort of bad writing, but rather because they never resolved. The one interesting tale was the one involving Anna Paquin (who was wasted in this flick, btw) and her “sisters”. Apparently, they all turn out to be werewolves, except she seems to be more of a vampire. I thought they were just succubi, to be honest with you.

The tale of the kids in the bus was a bit on the heartbreaking side. How can parents sentence their kids to die like that, no matter how much of a problem child they are?

The whole film, the audience is wondering who this Sam character is, then in a confrontation with Kreeg, who turns out to be the bus driver of the bus that killed the 8 kids, we find out as he goes all psycho on him. Having said that, we still don’t really get much out of him, save for a look at his face, learning his insides are like that of a pumpkin, and he can reattach his limbs. Oh, and then there’s the face that he looks like a pumkinheaded version of a gremlin,

When you watch a horror flick, you don’t honestly expect to see quality acting. As long as these folks can scream, sweat, and bleed is all that matters. Having said that, these are some of the best performances I’ve seen in a film of this genre since the black and white days.

While Trick ‘r Treat is no treat, it is no trick, either. It is twisted and odd, but isn’t that what people look for these days ion their horror flicks? While I wasn’t blown away by it, and am not a fan of this genre, I would voluntarily watch it again and recommend that you check it out. What harm could it do? Is Sam going to hunt you down?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Big

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 26, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

After being humiliated attempting to impress a teenage girl at a carnival, 13-year-old Josh Baskin (David Moscow) goes to a fortune-telling machine, called Zoltar Speaks, and wishes that he were “big”. The next morning, he discovers to his shock that he is a 31-year-old grown man (Tom Hanks). Fleeing from his mother, who thinks a strange man has kidnapped her son, Josh rents a cheap hotel room in New York City with the help of his best friend, Billy Kopecki (Jared Rushton), and gets a data entry job at MacMillan Toy Company.

By chance Josh meets the company’s owner, Mr. MacMillan (Robert Loggia), checking out the products at FAO Schwarz and impresses him with his childlike enthusiasm. They end up playing a duet together on a foot-operated electronic keyboard, performing “Heart and Soul” and “Chopsticks”. This earns Josh a promotion to a dream job: testing toys all day long and getting paid for it. He soon attracts the attention of the beautiful, ambitious 27-year-old Susan Lawrence (Elizabeth Perkins), a fellow toy executive. A romance begins to develop, much to the annoyance of her current, competitive boyfriend, Paul (John Heard). As Josh becomes more and more entwined in his “adult” life by spending more time with Susan, and his new ideas becomes a valuable asset to MacMillan Toys, this eventually leads to Billy feeling annoyed and neglected by his best friend, who feels that Josh has forgotten who he really is.

Susan asks Josh to come up with proposals for a new line of toys. Although Josh is intimidated by the need to formulate the business aspects of such a proposal, Susan insists that she will handle the business side of it, and that Josh need only rely on his childlike affinity for toys to come up with a good idea, but he soon begins to feel too pressured by this new life. When he expresses doubts to Susan, and attempts to explain to her that he is really a child, she interprets this as fear of commitment on his part, and dismisses his explanation.

Longing to return to the life of a child, he eventually learns from Billy that the Zoltar Speaks machine is at Sea Point Park. In the middle of their proposal to MacMillian and other executives, Josh leaves. After Susan realizes something is wrong, she leaves as well, and encounters Billy, who tells her where Josh went. At the park, Josh finds the machine and makes a wish. He is then confronted by Susan, who, looking the machine and the fortune it gave Josh, realizes Josh was telling the truth all along. Despite her despondence over realizing that their relationship is over, Josh tells her that she was the one thing about his adult life that he wishes would not end, and suggests that she use the machine herself to join him back in childhood. She declines, indicating that her childhood was not something she remembers fondly, and takes Josh home. After sharing an emotional goodbye, Josh reverts to his true, child form, and is reunited with his mother, and later, with Billy.

REVIEW:

I have very fond memories of this film. Shhh…don’t tell anyone, but this is one that my friends and I snuck out of a kiddie flick in the next theater to see (easier said than done when there are only 2 theaters and the entire staff knows you on a first name basis).

Big turned out to be worth getting caught and thrown out of the theater, then, and was worth the time to watch today.

There are so many of these films with this premise of the little kid or old guy wishing to grow up or go back to their youth. Vice Versa, 18 Again, 17 Again, and 13 Going on 30 are just examples. It is Big that has, however, managed to become the gold standard for this plot.

Some of my younger readers may find it hard to belive, but Tom Hanks was actually a comedian to start out with, so for him to play a comedic role like this isn’t a stretch, especially back then before he became a serious actor. Hanks becomes a virtual manchild for this role and eats up the screen as he does it.

There are quite a few memorable things about the film, but I would have to say that the thing that sticks out the most to me was the keyboard scene. I was forced to take 2 yrs of that evil instrument in college, and if I would have had this, I can guarantee that it wouldn’t have been so painful. Hanks and Robert Loggia looked like they had a blast on it, but I have to wonder how it is they managed to be so coordinated with chopsticks if their characters hadn’t practiced.

There is a bit of drama that I could do without. First there is the sexual tension between Hanks and Eliabeth Perkins’ character. Yes, I said sexual tension between a virtual 13yr old boy and a (I’m just guessing) 35 yrd old woman. Once that tension is resolved, Hanks becomes more of an adult. This is fine, except we forget that he is still a 13 yr old, and until the other drama comes up, that with his best friend, it seems as if he’s forgotten about his family. I don’t know about you, but if I was a 13 yrd old boy and had to be away from my family for 6 weeks, I’d have been jumping up and down for joy to get back to them.

So, yeah, there isn’t much wrong with this picture other than the unnecessary drama, but I guess you have to build up tensions and whatnot for the denouement, right? Big is a wonderful picture that makes us all think about what we were like as a little kid. At least that’s how it was with me. I also pondered what I would think about if I was 13 yrd and made the wish to be what I am today. would I be proud or disappointed. Yeah, I know that’s a bit deep for a simple film like this, but it happens. I highly recommend this film to everyone. With its mix of comedy and a feel-good tone, how can you not enjoy it?

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Jonah Hex

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

During the American Civil War, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) fought on the side of the Confederacy until betraying his commanding officer, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) to save a hospital and killing Turnbull’s son in the process. A vengeful Turnbull and his right-hand man, Burke (Michael Fassbender), burn down Jonah’s house with his wife and son still inside and brand his face with a hot iron, leaving the initials QT; which he later removes with a red-hot hatchet resulting in his disfigured visage. Days later, Native Americans find Jonah and revive him with their mystical powers. As a result, Jonah is present among the living while also having a presence on the other side, granting him the ability to temporarily resurrect and communicate with the dead. Eventually hearing of Turnbull’s apparent death in a hotel fire, Jonah establishes himself as a legendary bounty hunter.

Jonah rides into the town of Stunk Crick and presents his latest bounty to the town marshals only to realize they had no intention of paying, but instead to kill Jonah for his own bounty. Jonah kills the marshals and several gunmen and leaves. Meanwhile, a Union train is robbed of a weapon component being transported for safekeeping. Burke blows up the train and Turnbull, alive and well, orders the component be taken to Fort Resurrection. President Grant (Aidan Quinn) is informed of the train massacre by Lieutenant Grass (Will Arnett) and surmises that Turnbull plans to attack the Union on the Fourth of July (the country’s centennial). Grass is told to find Jonah and hire him to stop Turnbull.

Jonah goes to a brothel and spends the night with Lilah (Megan Fox), a prostitute attracted to the disfigured man for more than just professional interest. As Jonah prepares to leave the next morning, Grass’s men burst in and tell Jonah that he is being conscripted into the nation’s service to track down Turnbull. Realizing his family is still unavenged, Jonah accepts. Elsewhere, Turnbull and Burke retrieve the main component of the “nation killing” weapon, an orange chemical orb developed by Eli Whitney in service of the Union.

Grass tells Jonah all that is known of Turnbull’s plans but explains that the trail went dead because their informant died. Resurrecting the informant with his powers, Jonah learns that the man hadn’t been recruited by Turnbull, but by Colonel Slocum (Tom Wopat), another associate of Jonah’s who betrayed his family. Jonah pays Slocum a visit at an illegal death match pavilion run by Doc Cross Williams (Michael Shannon). However, Slocum is corrupt and sarcastically tells Jonah to ask Turnbull’s dead son, Jeb, where his father is. Jonah throws Slocum into the fighting ring where the gladiator, a bestial, snakelike creature, attacks and kills him.

Jonah rides to Gettysburg where he spends the night digging up Jeb Turnbull (Jeffery Dean Morgan) and revives his corpse. After a brief confrontation, Jonah apologizes for killing Jeb during the Civil War. In return, Jeb tells Jonah about Fort Resurrection and then returns to the afterlife. Jonah then buys some new weaponry from Smith (Lance Reddick), a gunsmith, in preparation for battle. Smith points out that Jonah’s hatred of the Union isn’t born out of Southern loyalty but out of a stubbornness to adhere to the rules of government.

Jonah goes to the fort and encounters Turnbull but doesn’t get a chance to kill him. Jonah gets shot several times after a fight with Burke but is able to escape. As Jonah nears death and imagines what it would be like to fight Turnbull, his dog drags him to his Native American allies who perform a ceremony that heals Jonah. Back on his feet, he relays a message to Washington about Turnbull’s plan to destroy the capital. Afterwards, Turnbull tells Burke to find what Jonah loves and bring it to him as bait for Jonah; Burke kidnaps Lilah from the brothel.

Jonah sneaks through the dock where Turnbull’s Confederate ironclad is being readied for the attack. Burke attacks him and the two discreetly fight until Jonah shoves Burke headfirst into the boat motor, then utterly destroys him by burning him up. Jonah prepares to shoot Turnbull but Turnbull holds Lilah at gunpoint and forces Jonah to surrender. Turnbull chains Jonah and Lilah in the ship’s hold and tells Jonah that he wants him to watch as the Union is destroyed. Lilah picks her handcuffs and frees Jonah, who goes after Turnbull. Lt. Grass’s monitor warship engages Turnbull’s but is destroyed with the Nation Killer. Jonah and Turnbull fight and fall into the engine room. Turnbull gains the upper hand and gives the order to destroy the city. As the preliminary weapons are fired, laying the preparation for the explosive trigger, Jonah uses his tomahawk to jam the cannon. He then brutally beats Turnbull and traps his neck in a gear before saving Lilah. The pair jump into the water just as the chemical orb ignites in the engine room, killing Turnbull and all his men.

The next day, Grant rewards Jonah with a job offer as sheriff of the United States. Jonah refuses, however, but assures the President that if they need him, they’ll be able to find him.

REVIEW:

Jonah Hex isn’t exactly a household comic the way Superman, Batman, Spiderman, X-Men, etc. are. He’s more along the lines of characters such as Ghost Rider, Blade, and The Spirit, known pretty much only to those in the comic world, so it came as a bit of a surprise that they were doing a film on the disfigured bounty hunter.

I don’t know much about Hex, other than the basics, he’s a bounty hunter in post-Civil War western times. In the comics he has no powers, unlike in this film, until he becomes a Black Lantern…but that’s for a different blog and topic.

Critics have been bashing this thing left and right. After watching it this afternoon, I don’t see what the fuss is about. First of all, did they really expect a lesser character such as Hex in his first major media appearance, with the exception of one episode of Batman: The Animated Series, to deliver a strong outing worthy of the heavyweights like Batman, Spiderman, X-Men, Superman, or most recently, Iron Man? Next, it was going up against Toy Story 3! How can anything compete with a Pixar juggernaut? Let’s be real people!

Ok, so we have Jonah Hex here in his first film, but the thing that they don’t do which they should have done is give us a full out origin. I mean, with every superhero film since time began we always get that origin tale. Jonah Hex gives us a bit of it, then goes into some weird half animated flashback-esque sequence to sort of move the story along. I guess that should have been the tip-off about how the rest of the film as going to go, but I’ll get to that in a minute. 

The plot isn’t the best, and as I said, if they would have just made this an origin tale, it could have been much better. This whole scheme to blow up Washington because of what was going on at the time seemed a bit cheesy. That may be because it is a ploy that has been done time and time again in some form or another. I would have much rather have seen a bit more of Hex’s origin, culminating in some sort of better contrived revenge on Turnbull, but that’s just me.

In my review of Transporter 3, I complained about how the action took a backseat to the plot. We have another case of that here, but not as bad. I think, though, it is more related to the way the trailer made this film look. You expect butt kicking, guns a-blazin’ kick-assness, but just don’t get it. There are a couple of good action sequences complete with stuff blowing up, but it just feels like the filmmakers didn’t want to let this go the route of a true Western, and instead opted to just mellow out and hover above the drama aspect. That decision may have been the ultimate downfall of this film.

I mention earlier that this flick jumped all around in its brief origin animated sequence. Well, that sort of pacing is pretty much how the entire film moves along. Just as it seems they’re going to settle down and move with something, they jump to something else. For example, Turnbull gets this weapon set up and nearly kills Hex, then all of a sudden, we get this weird flashback/dream sequence of Hex coming up from the ground fighting Turnbull, then it moves to Megan Fox getting kidnapped. WTF?!?

Jonah Hex, in the comics, has no powers, especially being able to bring people back from the dead. However, even though they strayed from the source material, which is something I hate, it was kind of cool, especially the whole burning the longer he keeps them alive and the fresher dead meat burning faster. Purists can bitch and moan about that all they want, they have a right. After all, it’s not like I don’t have my share of complaints with the Transformers movies, but in my opinion, the bringing dead back to life was a cool addition…even if it did make me a bit nostalgic for Pushing Daisies.

Josh Brolin does a great job as Jonah. I really don’t have anything to say about his performance. He plays Hex the way I would expect Hex to be if he were a real person, though I kind of wish he were bit easier to understand, but at the same time, if half your face were scarred up like that, I bet it’d be hard to understand you, too. Now that I think about it, Hex’s face is sort of like that old baseball coach on The Cleveland Show.

John Malkovich is his usual odd self here and like Brolin does a great job in the role. As Quentin Turnbull, he is able to murder without showing the least bit of remorse and as he’s trying to destroy the Union, he seems as if he doesn’t care about anything but proving the South is right.

Michael Fassbender doesn’t really have any major lines to speak of, but this would not have been the same without him. As the psychotic right hand to Turnbull, Blake, Fassbender brings a twisted character to the screen that may very well have been one of the best parts of the film.

I’m sure the hormone driven guys that read this are going to hate this next section, but it has got to be said. MEGAN FOX CANNOT ACT AND WAS NOT NEEDED IN THIS FILM!!!!  Yeah, that’s right, she was nothing more than a name to get horny guys to go see this. She didn’t bring anything to the table. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if a woman is in a corset, aren’t things pushed up and accentuated? Fox didn’t seem to have those qualities here. I don’t blame the notion of casting her, but it would have worked much better with someone like Monica Bellucci, since she’s played characters like this before. Perhaps Dita von Teese, since she pretty much lives in corsets. Hell, I could have done a better job acting than Fox. She seriously needs to take some acting lessons, or go back to school because folks are starting to pick up that she can’t act, and her looks aren’t going to last forever. Speaking of which, there was something odd about the way she looked here. It was like they poured some kind of plastic over here. She resembled a living Barbie Doll. It may have just been the lighting, but it was weird.

So, are the critics right about this film? No. They are right about certain aspects, but this is nowhere near as bad they make it out to be. I have said on more than one occasion that critics are out of touch with what real people want to see. If you want further proof of this, look at the films over the past couple years that they have given good ratings to and the one that people actually went to see. There is a bit of a disconnect there.

I didn’t love this film, but I will definitely be buying the DVD. Should you go out and see this in theaters? Well, it’ll be cheaper than seeing Toy Story 3, but I can’t say if it’ll be worth it. For me, I found it to be a perfect Saturday afternoon matinée flick. From what I hear the older generation say, this is what most Westerns were, anyway, so that works. I recommend it, but be warned some of you may not like and others may love it. Your taste will ultimately decide what you think about the finished product.

4 out of 5 stars

Transporter 3

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Frank Martin (Jason Statham) has been pressured into transporting a package, together with Valentina (Natalya Rudakova), the kidnapped daughter of Leonid Vasilev (Jeroen Krabbé); as it turns out later, the objective is to deliver her. Both have a device attached to their wrists which is wired to explode if the person concerned goes more than 75 feet (22.86 metres) from the car. Vasilev is the head of the Environmental Protection Agency for Ukraine. Frank Martin must travel from Marseille through Munich and Budapest until he ends up in Odessa on the Black Sea. With the help of Inspector Tarconi (François Berléand), Frank must contend with the people who strong-armed him into taking the job, agents sent by the Ukrainian government to intercept him, and the general non-cooperation of his passenger.

Valentina thinks she is going to die, and consumes drugs and alcohol to feel better and have some fun for the last time. Frank is not happy with this, because both have to remain sharp. However, Frank and Valentina fall for each other, while escaping from one life-threatening situation after another.

Frank Martin continues to drive the Audi A8 6.0 W12, although there have been claims that the car was specially made for the film, and the version in the film cannot be purchased today

REVIEW:

Sometimes you should just leave what’s well enough alone. That should have been the case with The Transporter franchise. It seems like they took the criticisms and whatnot from the first one and changed those things from the second, and did the same based on the critiques from the second film, and just sapped every bit of life out of what could have been a great third film.

I’m not really a fan of trilogies, unless it moves the story along in a sequence, such as The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean, or the holy trilogy (episodes 4-6) of the Star Wars franchises. Having said that, even these fell short. Come to think of it, the only this film that immediately comes to mind that didn’t ruin a franchise has in the Harry Potter franchise, but that was probably more to do with the story having been written a fw years prior. What I’m saying is that more often than not, 3 is too many.

In The Transporter, the plot may have been a bit on the thin side, but the action was fast and furious. Transporter 3 ups the ante on the plot, by giving us a nice little suspense tale with exploding bracelets if our “hero” and his accomplice stray more than 75 feet from the car, and a secondary, but no less minor plot device in the goings on with the Environmental Protection Agency getting blackmailed by the same man who has these bracelets on Frank. If this were a drama or animated film, I wouldn’t feel bad saying that the plot is the best thing about it, but seeing as how this is an action flick, and most of us that go see action movies aren’t exactly going for plot, it pains me to say so.

Speaking of action, Transporter 2 was loaded down with it, and that is what made that such a great film, mixed with the comic relief. Unfortunately, those things are gone. Yes, there is a bit of action here and there, complete with Statham stripping down to his underwear, which the ladies apparently love, but it feels like an afterthought the way it is handled. This had to have been the biggest disappointment in my eyes. As I said before, I didn’t choose to watch this to get some deep plot-laden flick. I wanted to see lots of car chases, fight scenes, and things blowing up, which I got a taste of, but it was only that, just a taste, barely enough to wet my whistle.

Statham returns as Frank Martin, who has returned to France and picked back up with his transporting business, but it appears he’s a bit more selective with his clientele. This is fine, until he gets strong-armed into taking a job that puts his life in danger. Statham didn’t look comfortable this time around, more like someone threatened his life to do this picture, and the way thins thing turned out, I wouldn’t be surprised. He does seem to have more of a personality in this one, though. Guess the time spent with that little kid in the second film changed him.

Model Natalya Rudakova makes her big screen debut as hostage Valentina. I’m not one to berate those that aren’t actors, especially in their first appearance, but she came off as cold and unprepared. There were some instances where she was turned away from Statham that I could have sworn she was getting her next lines from someone off camera. I have a thing for redheads, and her freckles were something different to be seen on screen, but it seems to be they could have found someone better looking. Granted, she had on so much eye makeup that she might as well have been a racoon and that may have covered up some of her beauty, but they would have done better getting that Pink wannabe chick from the previous film for this role.

Robert Knepper played a convincing villain this season on Heroes and I belive this may have been one of the reasons he got that role. Knepper has the whole two-faced villain thing down, and his accent was nowhere to be heard, which considering ho thick it normally is, was quite impressive.

Francois Berleand returns as Inspector Tarconi, but this time he returns to doing his job and isn’t comic relief. Such a shame really, he did such a great job of it last time around, not to take anything away from him as a serious actor, mind you.

As with the previous Transporter films, the car scenes are the real star of this flick, but there in one problem this time around…there aren’t as many, at least in comparison to its predecessors, and they aren’t as spectacular. It is almost as if they spent all their money on the locale, leaving just enough to get a couple of scenes in. I was highly disappointed with this.

So, should you see Transporter 3? Well, while this doesn’t stack up to its predecessors, it doesn’t totally suck. As I said, the plot is really the driving force behind this one, as opposed to the action. This is actually pretty decent thriller, to be honest with you. I just wish they wouldn’t have catered to the critics so much and made a film they could be proud of, not what some overweight guy who is one Big Mac away from the grave had to say. This this was more or less just a rehash of the first film in some ways, because they thought they needed to go back to that one. Ugh! While this film ended up being nothing more than an average, at best, action (and I use that term lightly) flick, it is worth watching.

3 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

While raiding a squab farm, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and his wife Felicity (Meryl Streep) trigger a fox trap and become caged. Felicity reveals to Fox that she is pregnant and pleads with him to find a safer job should they escape.

Two years later, the Foxes and their sullen son Ash (Jason Schwartzman), are living in a hole. Fox, now a newspaper columnist, decides to move the family into a better home and buys one in the base of a tree, ignoring the warnings of his lawyer Badger (Bill Murray). The tree is located very close to the enormous facilities run by farmers Walter Boggis, Nathan Bunce, and Franklin Bean (Michael Gambon). Soon after the Foxes move in, Felicity’s nephew Kristofferson (Eric Chase Anderson) comes to live with them, as his father has become very ill. Ash finds this situation intolerable considering his soft-spoken cousin is apparently superior to him in every possible aspect and seemingly everyone, including his own father, is charmed by Kristofferson at Ash’s expense.

Fox and the opossum building superintendent, Kylie (Wallace Wolodarsky), make plans to steal various types of produce and poultry from the three farms, one by one. After all three heists are a success, the farmers decide to camp out near the Fox family’s tree and kill Fox. When he emerges, the farmers open fire, only managing to shoot off his tail before he retreats back into his home. The farmers then attempt to dig Fox out, first by hand and then with three excavators. After tearing the hill site of the tree into a massive crater, the farmers discover that the Foxes have dug an escape tunnel deep underground.

Reasoning that the Foxes will eventually have to surface in search of food and water, the farmers lie in wait at the tunnel mouth. Underground, Fox encounters Badger and many of the other local animal residents whose homes have also been destroyed. As the animals begin to fear starvation, Fox leads a digging expedition to the three nearby farms, robbing them clean of Boggis’ chickens, Bunce’s ducks and geese, and Bean’s turkeys, apples, and alcoholic cider. While the other animals feast, Ash and Kristofferson, beginning to reconcile after Kristofferson defended his cousin from a bully, return to Bean’s farm, intending to reclaim Fox’s tail, only to find that Bean has taken to wearing it as a necktie. When they are interrupted by the arrival of Bean’s wife, Ash escapes but Kristofferson is captured.

After discovering that Fox has stolen all of their produce, the farmers decide to flood the animals’ tunnel network by pumping it full of cider. The animals are forced to retreat into the sewers, and Fox learns that the farmers plan to use Kristofferson as bait to lure him into an ambush. They are soon confronted by Rat (Willem Dafoe), Bean’s security guard. After a struggle with Fox that leaves him mortally wounded, Rat divulges Kristofferson’s location.

Fox sends a message to the farmers, asking for a meeting in a town near the sewer hub wherein he will surrender in exchange for Kristofferson’s freedom. The farmers set up an ambush, but Fox and the others anticipate it and launch a counterattack. Fox, Ash, and Kylie escape the scene at the town and slip into Bean’s farm. In the operation, a much matured Ash frees Kristofferson and later deeply impresses his father and the gang by braving enemy fire to release a rabid beagle loose to keep the farmers at bay while the group escapes back to the sewers. The group manage to grab Fox’s tail from Bean as they flee the compound.

The animals become accustomed to living in the sewers, and Ash and Kristofferson have completely settled their differences and have become good friends, sharing meditation time together among other activities. Fox, now taking to wearing his tail as an pin-on, leads them to a drain opening that is built into the floor of a large supermarket, which is shown to the viewing audience to be owned by the three farmers. Celebrating their abundant new food source and the news that Felicity is pregnant again, the animals dance in the aisles.

REVIEW:

In this world of overused CGI, it always warms my heart to see a film that uses good old stop-motion animation. If nothing else about Fantastic Mr. Fox intrigues you, the fact that it was done using this medium should.

Critics and I rarely see thing the same way, but this is one of those rare occasions when they actually got it right. They raved like mad over this film, and found it hard to belive that it wasn’t more popular. To be truthful, until the Oscars, I had only heard about this in passing, and never really paid it any attention. That was my mistake.

This is a totally awesome flick, but be warned, some of the animation may appear creepy to some younger viewers, but that’s the joy of stop motion.

Mr. Fox is the scheming type and George Clooney’s voice and mannerisms fit him perfectly, especially when he’s being more of a douche than a father to his son.

Meryl Streep can do no wrong, even when just her voice is used, although, it would have been nice to have more than a handful of lines for her. I think that Ms. Fox isn’t exactly a prominent character in the books, either, so I can forgive this little oversight.

Jason Schwartzman isn’t exactly my favorite actor by any stretch of the imagination, but the timbre and inflections of his voice work for Ash, who happens to be one of those “different” kids just searching for approval from his dad. Having said that, he was still annoying.

Michael Gambon’s deep vocals make for as good a villain as they do a wizard headmaster. I was quite impressed with how he was able to inflect the madness that was consuming Franklin Bean as he pretty much destroyed the land in his attempt to catch Mr. Fox.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the term “crazy like a fox”. Well, with each attempt Bean made to capture Fox, that phrase ws going through my head because he was proving it to be true.

Yes, this is a comedy, but it’s more subtle comedy, rather than in your face, laugh out loud comedic stylings. This is fine, but not for me…a matter of personal taste, not a criticism.

What is it that makes this film so great? Well, the writing. There aren’t many films today that are written as well as this one and executed to perfection. I dare you to name me 5 films in the last year that accomplish this feat. I can think of maybe 1 or 2.

It is a genuine shame that this film didn’t garner more revenue at the box office, but that’s what happens when you have an independent and limited release. To make up for that, though, I implore you all to track down this DVD and check out Fantastic Mr. Fox. It is a real treat and hands down one of the best films to be released in theaters in a long time.

5 out of 5 stars

How the West Was Won

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

PLOT:

As the story opens an otherwise happy family led by Zebulon Prescott (Karl Malden) is introduced as having abandoned a comfortable life in the rural, small town, setting of upstate New York; for the alleged greater opportunity awaiting all, in the as yet unsettled west; via the Erie Canal. The “west” of this time is the Illinois country. In the unnaturally peaceful and safe opening of the Prescott’s long journey they come to meet a Mountain man Linus Rawlings (James Stewart) who is traveling east to Pittsburgh to trade his furs. His daughter Eve (Carroll Baker) and Linus are attracted to each other, but he isn’t ready to settle down.

Linus stops at an isolated trading post run by a murderous clan of “river pirates” headed by “Colonel” Hawkins (Walter Brennan). Linus is betrayed when he accompanies pretty Dora Hawkins (Brigid Bazlen) into a cave to see a “varmint”. She stabs him in the back and pushes him into a deep hole. Fortunately, Linus is not seriously wounded, and is able to rescue the Prescott party from a similar fate. The bushwhacking thieves (Lee Van Cleef plays one), including Dora, are dispatched with rough frontier justice.

The settlers continue down the river, but their raft is caught in rapids and Zebulon and his wife Rebecca (Agnes Moorehead) drown. Linus, finding that he cannot live without Eve, reappears and marries her, even though she insists on homesteading at the spot where her parents died.

Eve’s sister Lily (Debbie Reynolds) chooses to go to St. Louis, where she finds work performing in a dance hall. She attracts the attention of professional gambler Cleve Van Valen (Gregory Peck). After overhearing that she has just inherited a California gold mine, and to avoid paying his debts to another gambler (John Larch), Cleve joins the wagon train taking her there. He and wagonmaster Roger Morgan (Robert Preston) court her along the way, but she turns them both down, much to the dismay of her new friend and fellow traveler Agatha Clegg (Thelma Ritter), who is searching for a husband.

Surviving an attack by Cheyenne Indians, Lily and Cleve arrive at the mine, only to find that it is now worthless. Cleve leaves. Lily returns to work in a dance hall in a literal “Camp Town,” living out of a covered wagon. Morgan finds her and again proposes marriage in a rather unromantic way. She tells him, “No, not ever.”

Later, Lily is singing in the music salon of a riverboat. By chance, Cleve is a passenger. When he hears Lily’s voice, he leaves the poker table (and a winning hand) to propose to her, telling her of the opportunities waiting in the rapidly growing city of San Francisco. She accepts.

Linus joins the Union army as a captain in the American Civil War. Despite Eve’s wishes, their son Zeb (George Peppard) eagerly enlists as well, looking for glory and an escape from farming. Corporal Peterson (Andy Devine) assures them the conflict won’t last very long. The bloody Battle of Shiloh shows Zeb that war is nothing like he imagined and, unknown to him, his father Linus dies there. He encounters a similarly disillusioned Confederate (Russ Tamblyn) who suggests deserting, to which Zeb agrees.

However, by chance, they overhear a private conversation between Generals Ulysses S. Grant (Harry Morgan) and William Tecumseh Sherman (John Wayne). The rebel realizes he has the opportunity to rid the South of two of its greatest enemies and tries to shoot them, leaving Zeb no choice but to kill him. Afterwards, Zeb rejoins the army.

When the war finally ends, he returns home, only to find his mother has died. She had lost the will to live after learning that Linus had been killed. Zeb gives his share of the family farm to his brother, who is more tied to the land, and leaves in search of a more interesting life.

Following the daring riders from the Pony Express and the construction of the transcontinental telegraph line in the early 1860s, two ferociously competing railroad lines, the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad, one building west and the other east, open up new territory to eager settlers.

Zeb becomes a lieutenant in the U.S. cavalry, trying to maintain peace with the Indians with the help of grizzled buffalo hunter Jethro Stuart (Henry Fonda), an old friend of Linus. When ruthless railroad man Mike King (Richard Widmark) violates a treaty by building on Indian territory, the Arapaho Indians retaliate by stampeding buffalo through his camp, killing many, including women and children. Disgusted, Zeb resigns and heads to Arizona.

In San Francisco, widowed Lily auctions off her possessions (she and Cleve had made and spent several fortunes) to pay her debts. She travels to Arizona, inviting Zeb and his family to oversee her remaining asset, a ranch.

Zeb (now a marshal), his wife Julie (Carolyn Jones) and their children meet Lily at Gold City’s train station. However, Zeb also runs into an old enemy there, outlaw Charlie Gant (Eli Wallach). When Gant makes veiled threats against his family, Zeb turns to his friend and Gold City’s marshal, Lou Ramsey (Lee J. Cobb), but Gant is not wanted for anything in that territory, so there is little Ramsey can do.

Zeb decides he has to act rather than wait for Gant to make good his threat to show up someday. Suspecting Gant of planning to rob an unusually large gold shipment being transported by train, he prepares an ambush with Ramsey’s reluctant help. Gant and his gang (one member played by Harry Dean Stanton) are killed in a shootout. In the end, Lily and the Rawlings travel to their new home.

A short epilogue shows Los Angeles and San Francisco in the early 1960s, including the famous four-level downtown freeway interchange and Golden Gate Bridge, indicating the growth of the West in 80 years.

REVIEW:

An epic tale of immense proportions, How the West Was Won follows four generations of the Prescott family as they tame the unsettles American western frontier.

This may be classified as a western, but with the exception of the shootout at the end, and some battles with the Arapaho Indians, there really isn’t much that you see in your traditional western. I think that this is the reason this is listed as one of the greatest films of all time, though. It was a groundbreaking epic masterpiece that pushed the genre to its limits.

As I was watching this evening, I couldn’t help but notice the all-star cast. I swear the only major stars from this era who do not appear are Steve McQueen and Yul Brenner.

There isn’t a bad performance to be found in this masterpiece, but the most impressive role has to be George Peppard. Most of us know him as Hannibal from The A-Team, but apparently, he was quite the competent actor before he took that role, as can be seen here where shines.

This epic tale is told in different parts, chronicling the life and times of the Prescott family. Starting in their humble beginning and ending with their great grandson’s life as a marshal.

While there is a bit of action to be had here, especially in the later parts of the flick, I tend to think this more of a drama. How is it that this can seem like two different flicks? Well, it was directed by 3 different directors, each taking on separate periods of time. When you watch this film and take that into consideration, you can barely tell.

At just under 3 hrs, this film was a little on the lengthy side for my taste, but that really is my only qualm with this film. If I could set aside 3 hrs in my schedule, you can guarantee that I would be watching this blueprint of excellence again. Often time in these reviews, I say that today’s films don’t stack up to those of yesteryear. If ever there was proof of that, this film is it. Check out what real filmmaking is!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Seven years after settling in to their new home in The Bronx, New York, the impoverished Mousekewitz family soon finds that conditions are not as ideal as they had hoped, as they find themselves still struggling against the attacks of mouse-hungry felines. Fievel spends his days dreaming about the wild west dog-sheriff Wylie Burp, while his sister Tanya, dreams of becoming a singer. Meanwhile, Tiger’s girlfriend, Miss Kitty leaves him to find a new life out West, remarking that perhaps she’s looking for “a cat that’s more like a dog.”

Tired of chasing, Cat R. Waul devises a plan to deliver the mice into his clutches. Using a mouse-cowpoke marionette, he entices the neighborhood mice, including the Mousekewitzs into moving yet again to a better life out west (“Way Out West”). Tiger chases the train, trying to catch up with his friends, but is thrown off course by a pack of angry dogs. While on the west-bound train, Fievel wanders into the livestock car, where he overhears the cats revealing their plot to turn them into “mouse burgers.” After being discovered, Fievel is thrown from the train by Cat R. Waul’s hench-spider, T.R. Chula, landing the mouse in the middle of the desert. The Mousekewitzes are heartbroken once again over the loss of Fievel and arrive at Green River with heavy hearts.

Upon arrival at Green River, Chula blocks up the water tower, drying up the river. Cat R. Waul approaches the mice and proposes to build a new saloon together, although intending to trick the mice into doing the bulk of the work and then eat them afterwards. Meanwhile, Fievel is wandering aimlessly through the desert, as is Tiger, who has found his way out west as well, and the two pass each other. However, each one figures that the other is a mirage and they continue on their separate ways. Tiger is captured by mouse Indians and hailed as a god. Fievel is picked up by a hawk and dropped over the mouse Indian village when fireworks scare and explode on the bird, making his feathers pop out of his body and reunites with Tiger. Tiger chooses to stay in while Fievel catches a passing tumbleweed, which takes him to Green River. As soon as Fievel makes his arrival, he quickly reunites with his family. He then tries to expose Cat R. Waul’s true intentions. However, no one will believe him. In fact, as Cat R. Waul searches for entertainment for the saloon, he happens to hear Tanya, Fievel’s older sister, singing while working and is enchanted by her voice (“Dreams to Dream”).

He sends Tanya to Miss Kitty, who’s now a saloon-girl cat, and she reveals that she didn’t come out west by her own will, but at the request of Cat R. Waul – an action she now seems to regret. Cat R Waul tells Miss Kitty to put Tanya on stage. With a little encouragement from Miss Kitty, Tanya pulls off a great performance for the cats (“The Girl You Left Behind”). Fievel is briefly taken prisoner by Chula and almost eaten a few times, but escapes. While walking out of town, Fievel stops to talk with an old hound sleeping outside the jail, discovering that the saturnine dog is in fact the legendary Wylie Burp. Fievel convinces Wylie to help the mices’ plight and to train Tiger as a lawman and as a dog. Tiger is reluctant at first, but relents at the suggestion that a new persona might win back Miss Kitty. The trio: Wylie, Tiger, and Fievel go back to Green River to fight the cats, who had scheduled to kill the mice at sunset. At Green River, a giant mousetrap has been disguised as bleachers for a ceremony honoring the opening of Cat R. Waul’s saloon. But before the trap can be tripped, the three foil the plot using their wits and their slingshots. But towards the end Chula captures Ms. Kitty as hostage, threatening to drop her from the tower. Tiger gets angry and ends up saving Ms. Kitty and using a pitchfork and Chula’s web as a lasso with him trapped on it to hurtle Cat R. Waul and his men out of town by having them all piled on part of the mousetrap, which the heroes use as a catapult. The cats fly into the air, then land into a bag with the words: U.S. Mail written on it. The train picks the bag up and leaves.

Enchanted by his new personality, Miss Kitty and Tiger become reunited. Tanya becomes a famous singer (although she also appears to be happy with the way she was before by the end) and the water tower flows with water again, making Green River bloom with flowers. Fievel finds Wylie Burp away from the party who hands Fievel his sheriff badge. Fievel is unsure about taking it, since he feels he is not a traditional hero, but Wylie reminds him that, if it weren’t for Fievel, he’d still be a washed up dog. He realizes his journey is still not over, and that “if you ride yonder, head up, eyes steady, heart open, I think one day you’ll find that you’re the hero you’ve been looking for”.

REVIEW:

You know, I kind of feel sorry for this picture because it was released the same day as Beauty & the Beast. It is because of that fact that this film is so underrated. However, there is also the fact that this is a sequel.

Sequels can be good and they can be bad. For me, sequels work better when they take what works in the first films and build on it. Occasionally, you can take the same story and move it to a different locale and change a few character, as is the case with Home Alone 2. This film sort of goes along that path, but not fully.

There are some similarities to An American Tail that setup the story very well, but there are other parts that just seemed overdone. For instance, Fievel being separated from his parents, although it wasn’t as long this time, just didn’t seem as impactful this time. In the first film, there was more of a connection to Fievel. This time around, he just seemed like a character on the screen with no connection to the audience.

Along those same lines, though we get a bit more screentime from the sister, one has to wonder what it would take to get some for the entire family.

John Cleese lends his voice to the villanous Cat R. Waul. Waul is a slick, conniving feline who happens to be able to lead all the other cats, as well as fool the mice (with the aid of a marionette) into moving out west. This isn’t my favorite Cleese role, but he is entertaining in it, especially when he’s trying to get away from the human who he keeps getting petted by.

The immortal James Stewart has a role as aging sheriff Wylie Burp. I don’t think I need to tell you that he does a masterful job with this. If you know Stewart’s work, then you know what to expect here. Excellence, especially for the few minutes he’s on screen.

I’m not sure if this is better than the original. I’m leaning toward no, though, because the first film seemed to have more heart. Having said that, though, it does seem like there was alot of effort put into the making of this picture, unlike many animated sequels of today that appear to be made just to cash in and force a franchise down audience’s throats. Either way, this is a really good picture, especially since you consider that this isn’t Disney. Why not give a chance?

4 out of 5 stars

Daybreakers

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

PLOT:

By 2019, a pandemic disease has turned most of the world’s human population into vampires. As human numbers dwindle, the need for blood becomes desperate. When deprived of blood for extended periods, vampires degenerate into subsiders, aggressive bat-like creatures. Humans are captured and harvested in laboratory farms while scientists research a synthetic blood substitute to satisfy vampires’ blood hunger. The main supplier of blood in the United States is the pharmaceutical company Bromley Marks, run by Charles Bromley (Sam Neill). Edward Dalton (Ethan Hawke) and Chris Caruso (Vince Colosimo) are hematologists working on the blood substitute. Under pressure from Charles, they try multiple versions in a series of failing clinical trials. Edward secretly refuses to drink human blood and faces a strained relationship with his brother, Frankie (Michael Dorman), a human-hunting soldier.

A covert group of humans led by Audrey (Claudia Karvan) rescues and hides humans from vampire patrols while they attempt to win allies amongst the vampires. Audrey contacts Edward because of his human sympathies and scientific specialty. He meets Elvis (Willem Dafoe), a man cured of vampirism by brief exposure to sunlight while being thrown into water. After some experimentation, Edward is able to duplicate this effect and is cured himself.

When a convoy of humans headed to Audrey’s group is captured by Bromley soldiers, Charles is reunited with his human daughter, Alison (Isabel Lucas) and has her forcibly turned by Frankie. She refuses to drink human blood, and begins to turn into a subsider. She is killed when a group of the creatures are rounded up and executed. Witnessing Alison’s death upsets Frankie and he seeks out his brother.

Edward, Elvis, and Audrey meet with Chris and ask him to help spread the cure. However, Chris has finally discovered a viable blood substitute and does not want a cure to become widespread. He calls in a vampire patrol who captures Audrey while Elvis and Edward escape into hiding. They are finally found by Frankie who agrees to help but is gradually becoming a subsider. He attacks Elvis and they discover that feeding on a former vampire is another cure for vampirism.

Edward turns himself in and goads Charles into attacking him. Edward uses the now-cured Charles to cure a group of soldiers experiencing the beginning of subsider aggression. Edward and Audrey, cornered by more soldiers, are rescued when Frankie sacrifices himself to the soldiers. This sparks a feeding frenzy that leaves all of the soldiers dead or cured. They are confronted by Chris, who kills the few cured soldiers to hide the evidence of the cure. Elvis arrives and rescues Edward and Audrey by killing Chris. The three survivors then drive away into the sunrise with a voice-over by Edward stating that they have a cure and can change others back.

REVIEW:

As if we’re not already inundated with enough vampire stuff, Daybreakers won’t let the crazy die. Like many of you, I was over this whole vampire thing long ago (somewhere around the time I got tired of reality TV), so I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down for joy to watch this. However, I did like that this wasn’t a “normal” vampire flick, so that was a plus…one that this thing really needed when all is said and done.

So, here we are in 2019, and somehow there was an outbreak of a vampire disease. It is never really said how it happened or why they didn’t try to stop it, though. That really isn’t that big of a deal to me. I actually like the idea of an entire society of vampires. It is different from the brooding, glitter covered kind we’ve been forced to see lately. However, this is a major plothole. Sure, for those whose lives this vampire disease saved it was great, but what of those that were turned unwillingly? You can’t tell me they didn’t try to exhaust every option to stop this pandemic. I just can’t, pardon the pun, sink my teeth into that notion.

There is this weird blue lighting in most of this film that I don’t really care for. Blade and Blade 2 have the same kind. For those film it works, but Daybreakers doesn’t use said lighting in a way other than to make it a distraction and annoyance, especially when one scene will be the blue light, and the next will be regular color. That would be fine, except that these scenes are in the same room!

Ethan Hawke does what he can with this material, but he just seems uncomfortable in this role. I can’t say that I blame him. I mean, there is some meat to his character. The conflict of being a vampire and brilliant hematologist trying to find a cure, but working for a corrupt company and having a brother who is die-hard military vampire, can’t be easy. It really is a shame they didn’t play up more of the hematologist aspect of his character, but rather yanked him out of the lab first chance they got and apparently he was never replaced, which I found quite odd, especially since they were supposedly looking so hard for a “cure”.

Sam Neil plays a good villain, no doubt abut that. However, he’s not very convincing here. His best scene is the one where he orders Hawke’s brother to turn his daughter. I know vampires don’t have a heart, but that was his daughter. To top that off, she was then ordered to be murdered along with the rest of the mutated vampires.

Willem Dafoe is strangely the best character in this flick. The guy who discovered the real cure, accidentally, is something impressive. However, I can’t get past his bad Southern accent, which strangely disappeared and reappeared each time he was on-screen.

I don’t want to make it sound like this is a totally horrible flick, because it isn’t, but it isn’t a flick to remember, that’s for sure. It is a very average movie with nothing to bring to the table. There is some bloodshed and a decent plot that keep this thing somewhat interesting, but it really is worth nothing more than an initial viewing. Having said that, I can recommend this once, maybe twice, but that’s pushing it.

3 out of 5 stars