Archive for August, 2010

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on August 29, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Eccentric, 243-year-old Mr. Edward Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) owns and manages a magical toy shop. Making and selling toys all his life, before opening “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” 113 years ago, he travelled the world making children happy with his creations, even making toys for Napoleon. He keeps a pet Zebra named “Mortimer” in his second floor apartment above the store. The shop has many quirks, including toys that seem to have a life of their own, an over-sized ledger, known as the Big Book, that can magically materialize any toy on command, and a doorknob that, when rotated, changes the interior of a magic room (known as the “Door of Rooms”) to four different options (such as the Room of Balls, full of hundreds of animated balls that constantly bounce on their own; or the Room of Trains which is filled with models trains perpetually in transit). The shop is explained as a living thing that can cause the decor and the toys within to change their appearance and behavior according to its emotions. Mr. Magorium states that he imbued the shop with the same youthful characteristics of the children who visit it. However, because of this similarity to children, the shop is also prone to temper tantrums. Besides Mr. Magorium, the shop’s employees include the manager of the store, Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman), a pianist and aspiring composer, with a quirky habit of absentmindedly playing piano notes in the air with her hand; and his biographer Bellini, a strongman who was born and lives in the basement of the shop and sleeps with a teddy bear. The only regular customer (and constant volunteer at the store) is a lonely, yet cheerful and imaginative, young boy named Eric Applebaum (Zach Mills), who collects hats and wears a different one each day. Molly is his only friend, and he is cherished in a paternal fashion by Mr. Magorium.

Mr. Magorium suddenly announces that although he is not ill, he intends to “leave” — that is, to die — (but is not clear on what he means by “leave” at first) and is giving the shop to Molly to run. In preparation for his departure, he hires accountant Henry Weston (Jason Bateman), (whom Mr. Magorium assumes, by breaking down the name “accountant”, must be a cross between a “counter” and a “mutant”. Because of this, throughout the film, Jason Bateman’s character is referred to as “Mutant”), to organize the shop’s paperwork and his legacy to Mahoney. Among the records are numerous neglected financial difficulties, long ignored by Mr. Magorium, such as a $300,000 bill for a “Magic Doorknob” and a signed “I Owe You” from Thomas Edison for the inspiration for the “lightbulb”. Weston’s dedication to his work, his colorless, pragmatic view towards life and inability to take part in even the simplest exercise in imagination makes him unpopular with the children who visit the shop, and also Molly, who dislikes him for his skepticism towards the shop’s magical powers and rigid view of the world. Eric, however, consistently tries to befriend Henry.

In response to its founder’s decision to leave, the shop slowly but purposely tries to partially rot away from the inside out to show its unhappiness about the coming change. When Mahoney communicates heavy reservations and doubts about running the store (the main reason being that Mr. Magorium is a magical being and she is not) after Mr. Magorium leaves, the store throws a tantrum and causes all the toys and its inner workings to go haywire, frightening away customers of all ages. (A few of them are in trouble.) At that point, Molly, who had assumed from the way Mr. Magorium had previously said “leave” that he was just retiring, finally realizes that he means he is going to die (and on purpose). Worried about Mr. Magorium’s plans, Molly rushes him to the hospital where she lies about his mental health, convincing the doctors that Mr. Magorium’s professed belief in magic is a result of delusions due to his poor health and belief in his imminent death. He remains in the hospital overnight, surrounded by a backdrop of glow-in-the-dark stars pasted all over the room by Eric, and is discharged the next day because there is nothing physically wrong with him. Meanwhile, after walking him home one day, Eric introduces Henry to his extensive hat collection. The two play with the hat collection until discovered by Eric’s mother, who, even though she has professed a strong desire for Eric to make friends, finds it disconcerting that the friend he has made is an adult.

Molly attempts to prevent Mr. Magorium’s departure by showing him the joys of life, but his mind is unchanged and he dies peacefully, his life ending after a launched paper airplane lands at his feet. Many children, adults and his pet zebra, attend his funeral. The store reacts to Mr. Magorium’s death by turning gray and refusing to show its magic.

Believing herself to be unworthy of owning the store, Molly puts it up for sale with Henry’s firm overseeing the sale. Eric, knowing that she has made the wrong decision for herself and the store, travels to Henry’s office and attempts to convince him to buy the shop, citing saved allowance money and future paychecks as capital. Henry gently refuses, but is moved by Eric’s dedication and visits Molly to persuade her against selling the store. As they talk, Molly is holding a block of wood (a “Congreve Cube”) that Mr. Magorium had previously given her, stating that it would help her “find what she is looking for” when she finds a “use” for it. When, in response to Henry’s lack of belief in anything, Molly confesses her faith in the store and its magic, the block suddenly springs to life, and proceeds to fly around the store. After witnessing this, Henry faints with shock. When he later awakes and questions Molly about it, she tells him that it must have been a dream as she had gone home the previous night, leaving him to finalize the paperwork for the sale.

Henry, now convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, tells Mahoney that the store is indeed magic and that the magic comes from her and that she only needs to believe in herself. Just then, she absent-mindedly plays a few piano notes in the air and notices that a nearby toy piano begins playing the same notes simultaneously. Hearing the music, Molly begins purposely playing music on the air as the piano continues to play the same notes. She continues playing and the shop bursts into life; the colors return and its magic is revived. Henry, amazed beyond words, finally allows the store’s magic to embrace him. All three rejoice in the fact that, while Mr. Magorium’s story has ended, Molly’s story has just begun.

REVIEW:

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is one of those films that I watched shortly before I started this blog. I seem to recall not particular caring for it, or maybe I just didn’t remember anything about it, or I just wasn’t in a good place at the time I watched it. In any case, upon a second viewing this afternoon, my opinion has managed to a do a complete 180!

Children’s novels that have been turned into films just haven’t been hitting the mark lately, unless they are animated. However, if there was a blueprint for how live-action adaptations of these books, it would be this film.

I know there are those out there that don’t particularly care for bright, bold, beautiful colors and light, whimsical themes, let alone childlike innocence. To some, everything needs to be dark and depressing. Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is the complete opposite of that. Seriously, the title alone should tip you off that this is not going to be some weird, twisted picture.

The star of this film isn’t any of its stars, but rather the toy store. This place was amazing, and it lives! Sure, that couldn’t happen in real life, but where is it written that people can’t have an imagination? I really want to know to imagination, as our society seems to have totally forgotten about it and wants everything to be real, not matter the subject matter.

The effects in this film are spectacular, from the toys, the various rooms in the emporium, and even the way the store reacts during its mood swings. I would however have liked to have seen a bit more of the toys. Yeah, I know, they showed quite a bit, but think of the toy store scenes in Home Alone 2. They cover the entire shop. I believe we only get about a third of the store, here. Quite a shame for such an extensive layout, if you ask me.

The cast is minimal, but capable. Dustin Hoffman is refreshing as Mr. Magorium. His captures the offbeatness that the character requires, as well as manages to provide a sort of father figure to Natalie Portman and Zach Mills’ characters.

Natalie Portman makes a triumphant return to the screen after the short hiatus she went on before this picture. I didn’t care for her attitude after Mr. Magorium’s death, but every person deals with death in their own way. One thing is for sure, I did really like the fact that she kept a smile and energy about the store the whole way through.

Jason Bateman is not my favorite part of this film. He isn’t quite a villain, but he is one of those characters that is just too wrapped up in his work. Don’t you just hate those kind of people? For some reason, I can actually see him being like this character in real life.

If you’re looking for a good family picture that isn’t animated (or 3D), then why not try Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium? You get everything you could ask for in a family picture, without the sappy love story, and it takes place in a toy store! There are a few issues with this film, but the most important thing is that it doesn’t try to dumb down the story just to appease the younger viewers. It is done is such a way that audiences of all ages can enjoy. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

When in Rome

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A successful and single Guggenheim art curator Beth (Kristen Bell) is at a point in her life where love seems like a luxury she just can’t afford. Years of waiting for the perfect romance have made Beth bitter. One day, she flies to Rome to attend her younger sister Joan’s (Alexis Dziena) impulsive wedding. She meets Nicholas Beamon (Josh Duhamel), who rescues her in a couple of difficult situations but is just as much of a clumsy clod as she is. They hit it off well and reach a point where both parties take an interest in the other.

Just as Beth convinces herself to believe in love again, she sees Nick kissing another woman, who turns out to be the groom’s (Luca Calvani) ‘crazy cousin’. Slightly drunk, she picks up coins (a poker chip, a rare coin, a penny, a quarter and a Euro) from the “fountain of love” (probably based on the Trevi Fountain). She later learns from Joan that legend says, if you take coins from the fountain, the owner of the coin will fall in love with you. She has to return the coins to the fountain to break the spell, but is tied up at work with an important gala that her demanding boss, Celeste (Anjelica Huston) has pressured her into taking care of.

She is pursued back to New York by a band of aggressive suitors whose coins she took, including a diminutive sausage magnate (Danny DeVito), lanky street magician Lance (Jon Heder), a doting painter (Will Arnett), and a narcissistic male model (Dax Shepard). As she falls in love with Nick, she realizes that the poker chip belongs to Nick and is convinced that Nick is merely under a spell, not truly in love with her.

Joan calls Beth on the day of the gala and informs her that the spell can also be broken by returning the coins to the original owner. Stacey (Kate Micucci), Beth’s secretary–who is highly concerned about Beth’s miserable love life–overhears the conversation and steals the coins, believing that Beth would lead a better life with people loving her, regardless of the spell.

Beth’s suitors all show up together at her apartment and she decides to break it to them that she does not love them and plans to return them the coins. After she blurts out her love for Nick to them, she realizes that Stacey has stolen the coins and goes on a mission to retrieve the coins with her suitors aiding her.

When Beth explains to Stacey that this is not the way she believes love is, Stacey returns the coins and Beth hands back the coins to their owners. Left with the poker chip, she calls Nick and thanks him for making her believe in love again. As Nick makes his way to the gala to search for Beth in a sudden lightning storm that hits New York, Beth is in a situation with Lance who plays with the poker chip by doing disappearing tricks. She accidentally hits the chip out of Lance’s hands and chases it as it rolls down three floors of the spiral gallery.

The chip is picked up by Nick, who appears to be in love with Beth still, convincing Beth that his love was true all along. However, on their wedding day in Rome, Lance reveals to Beth that he had multiple poker chips and the one Beth knocked out on the night of the lightning storm was just one of them, which proves that Nick did not break out of the spell. While exchanging wedding vows, Beth hesitates and dashes out of the building to everyone’s surprise. She revisits the fountain of love where she originally picked up the coins and climbs in like before.

Nick appears and climbs into the fountain. He claims that he didn’t throw a chip into the fountain at all. He drops the poker chip in the water and the priest is heard yelling ‘Free of temptation!’. Nick finally believes Beth and kisses her.

REVIEW:

In all the romantic comedies I’ve seen, the one thing that seems to be a constant is that they seem to forget the comedy. When in Rome does not fall into this category, though. Having said that, this thing is also heavy on the sappiness, so much so that is goes into the chick flick category.

Don’t get me wrong, the sappy love story part of this works and is the major plot point of this film, but seriously, what straight man is going to willingly want to see a film about some chick’s quest for true love, even if she is as hot as Kristen Bell? Not many, I can tell you that, especially when there are so many testosterone driven films out there that are more appealing.

That being said, this isn’t a bad film, and isn’t a typical man bashing rom-com, but instead it makes the guy seem human, which I really liked, and the girl has her own set of issues, such as not being able to find the right guy.

There are quite a few funny moments in this films, most of which involve Josh Duhamel being accident prone or some kind of situation with the 4 guys whose coins Kristen Bell has stolen.

The basic story here is quite good, although, I belive it could have been executed a bit better. There just seemed to be a disconnect somewhere between the magic of the coins and the real world. Yeah, that makes no sense to me, either. In a nutshell, it goes back and forth between being a fantasy film and having roots in the real world, without knowing which works better.

Casting was not a problem. Jon Heder, Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, and Dax Shepard are great as the suitors. Each with their own quirk. Heder probably does the best, in my opinion, especially in the scene where hereunites with Efrem Ramirez (who is playing a Pedro-like character).

Kristen Bell fits this role perfectly. Her girl next door looks and natural talent make it easy to feel connected to her throughout the film, though one has to wonder why she just didn’t get the hint about the poker chip.

Josh Duhamel is a true surprise, as I had no idea he had comedy chops, but he does. Combine this with his natural charisma and it makes for a solid leading man for this film. I really felt sorry for the guy, though. The whole being struck by lightning in the middle of a football game, his accident prone ways, and the way Kristen Bell seemed to be falling for him, only to keep pushing him away, just got to me.

I don’t really know why the critics are so down on it. I swear, I think they’ve forgotten what it is like to watch a film and enjoy it for what it is, rather than critique every little thing and have a default setting of “it sucks”.

This is not a film your typical guy is going to like, unless they have a huge crush on Kristen Bell or are a fan of Josh Duhamel, because there really isn’t anything guys would like in this. Well, there is a scene where Alexis Dziena is wearing nothing but an apron, but you can’t see anything there, so it doesn’t really matter. I liked this film, but I didn’t fall in love with it. It made me laugh and I felt for th characters, which is pretty much all you ask for in a rom-com, but in the end, it was just too sappy for my taste. Still, I would recommend this as a good date flick.

4 out of 5 stars

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Long ago, three Olympians—Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades—battled the Titans. Hades provided their means of defeating the Titans with his creation, the Kraken. After the Titans’ defeat, Zeus created land-animals (including humans) and ruled them while Poseidon ruled the sea and its creatures. But Zeus deceived Hades and forced him to rule the Underworld. Zeus and his fellow gods on Mount Olympus rely on the prayers of humans to sustain their power.

Millennia later, a fisherman named Spyros finds a coffin adrift in the sea. In it are infant Perseus and his dead mother, Danaë. Spyros raises Perseus as his own son. Years later, the adult Perseus and his family are fishing when they witness a group of soldiers from Argos destroying a massive statue of Zeus as a declaration of war against the Gods. Hades takes the form of harpies to massacre the soldiers. In the battle, Perseus’ family’s fishing boat is destroyed, killing all except Perseus. The surviving soldiers take Perseus back to Argos. During a feast for the returning soldiers, King Kepheus and Queen Cassiopeia of Argos compare themselves and their daughter Andromeda to the Aphrodite, much to their daughter’s dismay. Having convinced Zeus to punish Argos, Hades appears in the courtroom, kills the remaining soldiers and ages Cassiopeia to the brink of death. Recognizing that Perseus is the Demigod son of Zeus, Hades threatens that if Princess Andromeda is not sacrificed to the Kraken, Argos will be destroyed in ten days. Hermes, the Messenger God, informs Zeus that Perseus is in Argos and suggests offering him sanctuary. Zeus refuses.

The King imprisons Perseus because he will not fight with Argos against the gods. Io, a woman who does not age as punishment for refusing to be seduced by the God Ares, reveals to Perseus’s true lineage: in order to punish King Acrisius for his war on the Gods, Zeus seduced Danaë while disguised as Acrisius and impregnated her. When Acrisius set Danaë and the baby Perseus adrift in their coffin, an enraged Zeus struck Acrisius with lightning, leaving him hideously disfigured. After learning that killing the Kraken would allow him to have his revenge against Hades, whom he blames for Spyros’s death, Perseus agrees to lead Argos’ finest soldiers embark on a quest to find the Stygian Witches. They are joined by a pair of hunters named Ozal and Kucuk; Io follows as well. Hades finds Acrisius, now called Calibos, and reveals his plan to use the Kraken to destroy Argos and thereby weaken Zeus and gain his revenge for his betrayal after the Titan battle. Hades imbues Calibos with superhuman powers in order to kill Perseus.

While in the woods, Perseus discovers a sword forged in Olympus, as well as Zeus’ sacred herd of flying horses, the Pegasus. However, Perseus refuses both the sword—which only he can use—and Pegasus that the Gods were offering as assistance, as he does not wish to become a God. Calibos attacks the group and tries to murder Perseus, is forced to flee after Draco cuts off his hand. However, Calibos’ blood forms giant scorpions from the sand that attack Perseus and his group. Though they slay several scorpions, most of the group are slain, and the survivors are surrounded by more of the monsters. They are saved by the Djinn, a band of shamans once human, who have turned themselves into the Demons of Arabian mythology by replacing their earthly flesh with ash and stone, thus making them immortal. The mysterious beings are able to hypnotize the scorpions into submission. Though not trusted prior to healing Perseus’ wound, the Djinn leader, Sheikh Sulieman, joins Perseus’ group as the Djinn also wish to see the Gods overthrown.

The heroes arrive at Garden of Stygia, learning from the Stygian Witches that the head of the Gorgon Medusa could kill the Kraken by turning it to stone. When they tell Perseus his group will die in the process, all of the Djinn except for Suleiman to leave them. Perseus is visited by Zeus who offers him asylum on Mount Olympus, but he refuses. Zeus gives him instead a golden drachma, which Perseus later learns is a means to bribe Charon for passage into the Underworld. In the battle with Medusa, only Perseus survives to behead her. Emerging from the Underworld, Perseus sees Calibos stab Io from behind. Perseus kills him using the sword from Olympus, which restores Acrisius to human form. Perseus stays with the dying Io until she passes on and flies away in gold dust to Olympus. He then rides Pegasus back to Argos with Medusa’s head to find some of Argos’ citizens have formed a Cult of Hades and are planning to sacrifice Andromeda to the Kraken. As the Kraken is released, Hades reveals to Zeus that the destruction of Argos will give him enough power to overthrow the other Olympians, but Zeus reveals Perseus is still alive in Argos.

Although Hades tries to use his harpies to kill Perseus, he uses the head of Medusa to turn the Kraken into stone and rescue Andromeda. He then uses the sword of Olympus, amplified by with Zeus’ lightning, to banish Hades back to the Underworld. Andromeda asks Perseus to become king of Argos, but he declines. Zeus again offers Perseus sanctuary, but Perseus rejects this as well. Warning that Hades will someday return, Zeus resurrects Io and disappears.

REVIEW:

Let’s get one thing out of the way…as any avid read of this blog knows, I HATE REMAKES!!!! However, Clash of the Titans didn’t leave me feeling dirty the way that the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still did.

If I wouldn’t have known this was a remake of the early 80s classic Clash of the Titans, then I might have actually liked it a bit more…maybe. As it is, though, this remake does what they all do, and that is take out the fun and whimsy that makes the original so great and replace with darker, more depressing themes and CGI effects.

For instance, let’s take Perseus, in the original, he is a prideful, reluctant hero, as he is here, but not so much that he refuses assistance from the Gods which inadvertently causes the death of some soldiers. That is some of today’s thinking, where we don’t want help from anyone. Also, would it have hurt these people to use Bebo? Come on, seriously, the mechanical owl was one of the best parts of the original, yet they totally eradicated his character, except for a quick cameo near the beginning, which sort of felt like they were making fun of it. I’m assuming they meant Io to replace him, and while she was an upgrade in terms of looks and all, she just doesn’t compare.

Continuing with the lack of whimsy, one of the biggest things that I felt was missing was the chess game the gods play with the humans in the original. Where was this? I read that the filmmaker thought this was stupid and juvenile. WTF?!? They need to get over themselves. The game was severely missed, as it played more of an integral part to the plot than one would imagine until it is gone.

I also have to wonder where were the statues that came to life and spoke? Let me guess, the filmmakers thought this would have been too unrealistic, right? As if a the Kraken, Medusa, and just about everything else is real. Ugh!

I can’t comment on the 3D conversion of this film, as I say it in the comfort of my own home, as opposed to in the theaters, but I hear that it actually looks better in 2D.

Let me just touch on the plot here for a second, it is not the same as the original, but from my understanding, it is closer to the source material. You can make the case that is a good or bad thing. For me, it didn’t work. I’m of the belief that if you’re going to change stuff, then change it, don’t change select parts and leave the rest the same. That would be like putting a brand new modern tires on an old car while you just get refurbished parts for the rest of it. Sure it may work, but there is just something odd about the whole thing. That is the same feeling this film brought me. 

On top of that, the whole Calibos this seem to have been taken out. I mean, he’s in there, but it only for like two scenes, the one where he’s introduced and the other where he attacks the soldiers…oh, and there’s the last one where he and Perseus have their final confrontation. Much different than the original where he is THE major villain.

The action scenes here are a true highlight of the film, to be sure, but they seem…I dunno…a bit too rehearsed. Sort of like a fight you would see on a theater stage, as opposed to just a rough and tumble brawl, especially the whole Medusa scene. That just felt like an elaborate dance.

Speaking of Medusa, and pretty much all the creatures in this flick, you can say that CGI is better than stop-motion animation, but I will not agree with you. There is just something to stop-motion that makes it better, perhaps it is the fact that someone actually took the time to work with their hands instead of just moving a mouse around pressing some buttons.

The Kraken didn’t impress me the way it should have. I mean, this thing is supposed to be a big bad creature that strikes fear in the hearts of men. Now, I’m not talking about the fact that it is CGI, because the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean films had no issue with that, but rather the fact that they had this thing in the first trailer for the film. What makes the Kraken such a force is its mystique. In the original film, you barely hear about it, except for a mention in the beginning that sends them on the quest for Medusa’s head. I think this Kraken was a victim of the studios desperate attempt to gain a fanbase for this film. As we all know, people like me who hate remakes, are not likely to see their favorite films bastardized if they can help it.

The cast of this film is ok, but not great.

I’m not sure if I agree with having such great actors as Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes in such medial roles. Well, Neeson is filling the shoes of Sir Laurence Olivier, but Fiennes seems like he’s still in Voldemort mode, but without the makeup. Nothing wrong with that, but this is a totally different character, can’t he come up with different mannerisms?

Sam Worthington seems to be the new go-to action star. The problem is, this guy seems to play the same character. I mean, he played Perseus the same way he played Jake Sulley in Avatar. The only difference is that he was speaking with his natural Australian accent. I didn’t know that the Greeks spoke like that, did you?

Gemma Arterton light up the screen everytime she appears as Io, the beautiful protector of Perseus. Her performance leaves a bit to be desired, though, but seeing as how, as I said earlier, she is replacing a mechanical owl for the most part, I can overlook that, not to mention, she is drop dead gorgeous.

I went into this film with an open mind, but this remake further proves why I think they need to stop making them. The love for the original is there, as is the respect for those of us that share that affection, since they tried to keep much of the original story, however, the changes they made ruined the whole story and made a completely different, unenjoyable film. If not for the action scenes, which aren’t as good as some would have you believe, this thing would be much worse than it is. Having said that, it doesn’t suck, and I won’t lose any respect for you if you decide to check it out. My personal recommendation, though, is to stick to much more enjoyable original, rather than this subpar, average, bastard offspring of it. Can you belive they’re making a sequel to this mess?

3 out of 5 stars

The Runaways

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens with Cherie (Dakota Fanning) and her sister, Marie Currie (Riley Keough), as Cherie has just got her first period. Marie’s boyfriend, Derek (Brendan Sexton III), picks up the sisters from Marie’s job at “Pup n’ Fries” and Marie announces to him that Cherie has gotten her period. Angry at her sister for telling, she informs Derek that Marie is not wearing any underwear. Later, Cherie is seen cutting her hair in a shag and putting on face makeup in an attempt to create a look resembling Bowie on the cover of Aladdin Sane (the cover is shown on her wall as a poster). The scene is accompanied by scenes of Joan huffing marijuana with her girlfriend. Cherie is later seen lip-syncing David Bowie’s Lady Grinning Soul at the school talent show and is the target of paper balls, to which Cherie reacts by flipping off the crowd, but wins the talent show.

Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) is making out with a guy outside a club when she sees record producer, Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon). Joan approaches him and talks about starting an all-girl rock band. Kim is interested and introduces Joan to Sandy West (Stella Maeve), a drummer. Joan and Sandy become friends and start jamming when Kim suggests that they recruit a hot blonde in the vein of Brigitte Bardot.

At a club, Kim and Joan look for hot blondes and discover Cherie. They ask if she wants to be in a band and she accepts. Then they tell her to come to auditions in a trailer park in the valley.

Cherie learns the cover song of Suzi Quatro’s “Fever” and goes to audition, however they’re disappointed at the song. Instead, Kim kicks Cherie out of the trailer and with Joan, thinks of a song for Cherie to audition for, thus writing “Cherry Bomb”. Cherie sings it and, after improving, is part of the band.

After moving in with her aunt because her mom moved to Indonesia, Cherie travels to her first gig with the band. Soon, they get signed to Mercury Records and start recording an album. Due to the album’s success, they travel to Japan to play a concert. After their performance, Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) throws magazines at Cherie that have pictures of her, something Cherie thought was for the whole band.

After an argument with Lita, Cherie, and Joan, crazy Japanese fans break through the window and chase the girls out of the building. Afterward, Cherie overdoses in the hotel, collapses in an elevator and is sent to the hospital. Upon arrival home, Cherie’s alcoholic father is passed out on his bed. Cherie takes his painkillers and her actions are seen by Marie.

At the studio recording their next album, Cherie has a breakdown and refuses to play, followed by Lita trash-talking her and Joan defending Cherie. After a very heated argument, Cherie quits the band and leaves. Joan has a fit, throwing chairs and beer bottles against the glass. Cherie returns home while Joan continues playing and starts her own band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Cherie collapses again in a phone booth in a supermarket parking lot. At the hospital, Marie visits her and tells her to get her stuff straight.

Later at a job, Cherie hears Joan’s cover of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” on the radio and calls the station, where Joan is visiting for interviews. After an awkward conversation between Joan, Cherie, and even the radio host, Rodney Bingenheimer (Keir O’Donnell), Cherie says her goodbyes and continues working, smiling when Joan’s next song, “Crimson and Clover”, comes on the radio

REVIEW:

I’m only vaguely familiar with Joan Jett and Lita Ford, so I can’t really get in a huff about any inaccuracies this film may or may not have, however, I cam say that I did not really care for The Runaways.

I know there are a lot of people out there, mostly critics, who love this picture, but I just don’t fall in that category.

First of all, the casting doesn’t work. I’m partially biased, as I don’t particularly care for Kristen Stewart, since she is just a slightly more talented actress than Megan Fox. I guess if you’re not as hot, you have better have some talent, huh? I didn’t buy her as Joan Jett. She just didn’t have the aura, or vibe, if you will, that I expected from whomever would play Jett. Having said that, this is Stewart’s most impressive role.

Dakota Fanning may be growing up in front of our eyes, but she seems to be taking these roles that are solely meant to make her seem like an adult. As Cherie Currie, Fanning didn’t sell me on anything but the fact that she was just a little girl trying to act all grown up, especially in the parts where he character is trying to be all sexy. Unlike with Stewart, Fanning doesn’t shine with this role, for the reasons I just mentioned. She was just a bad choice.

Michael Shannon does a fairly decent job as the sleazy record producer, Kim Fowley, but I think he may have been a bit too over the top for the serious tone of this picture, or that may have been the reason for his characterization. Who knows?

I didn’t know that this film was from a book written by Cherie Currie. I thought it was just a random biopic. Since it was written by Currie, I can understand her being the main focus, otherwise you have to winder, why not focus on the “name” members, Joan Jett and Lita Ford.  I still question why there wasn’t more of Lita, and the rest of the band. It seemed like they wanted this to be a Cherie and Joan movie with Kim Fowley scenes every now and them.

A film about a music group must have the music, right? Believe it or not, they actually got that part right, but I would have liked for there to have been more. It just seemed like there could have been more performances, bu I guess the filmmakers wanted to focus more on the drama, rather than the music. Good call for a film about musicians (not the sarcasm)!

So, what is my verdict for this film. As I said before, it just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I can see how some people would like it. However, of the handful of people I know that actually took the time to watch this, no one seems to care for it. Let’s face it, this is not the most popular rock band in the world on film here. I think that may have been another reason I didn’t care for it. Either way, my opinion aside, I can recommend this if you’re really into Joan Jett or Kristen Stewart, or the music of The Runaways, but otherwise, this isn’t a must-see.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Bounty Hunter

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film starts halfway through the plot, Milo is seated in his car when smoke starts pouring from the trunk. He calls for Nichole who does not respond. He pulls over and gets out to open the trunk. Nichole tosses a road flare to the side and punches Milo before running off, Milo gives chase and the pair fall into the grass some distance away.

Twenty-four hours earlier; Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler) is a down-on-his-luck former police officer turned bounty hunter after he “quit” and was terminated some months prior. Hot on the trail of his latest bounty; a criminal he chases from a Fourth of July parade, whom he catches, but is arrested by the police as well. Bobby (Dorian Missick) a friend of his and a mutual friend of his ex-wife’s bails him out and tells him that he needs to get on with his life and forget about her, being reminded on the fact that he himself walked her down the aisle of their wedding. Meanwhile Nichole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston) is an investigative reporter looking through the story of a supposed suicide, scheduled to appear at a court hearing due to being charged with assaulting a police officer (which she later clarifies was slightly knocking into an old police horse while trying to drive around traffic). The morning of her trial, however she gets a big lead on her story and leaves before attending her hearing, receiving a court order and removal of her bail rights resulting in a warrant for her arrest. Nichole goes to meet her informant Jimmy (Adam Rose) but just prior to her arrival, he is forcibly removed from his car and kidnapped.

Milo hears about Nichole skipping bail, and the promise of receiving $5,000 as his share for capturing her, he believes the whole situation to be a dream come true. He learns from his investigations that Nichole went to visit her mother Kitty (Christine Baranski) in Atlantic City and comes across her at a race track, using his memories and knowledge of her to capture her. After a failed escape attempt, Nichole uses money and her knowledge of Milo’s gambling habits to make a wager; if he wins $10,000 at the craps table, he will let her go. He is successful to $8,000 but a subsequent argument causes him to lose everything. After securing Nichole in a hotel room, he proceeds to also lose his paycheck in gambling. The next day, Nichole uses a tazer on Milo and makes another escape attempt, only to be foiled again when Milo catches up with her. Nichole’s leads inadvertently finger Bobby in connection to a man (Peter Greene) following the two of them whose intent is to kill her. Milo and Nichole run from the man and the ensuing car chase causes the man to overturn his SUV and abandon it. They get the name ‘Earl’ from the car and point them toward a local country club. While undercover, they learn that Earl is employed at a tattoo parlor called Blue Ink, and start making their way there. Bobby contacts them and warns the pair to stay off the road. They stop at Cupid’s Cabin, the bed and breakfast in which the couple had celebrated their honeymoon. Each realizes the other has feelings for each other, but overhearing a conversation with his employer, Milo seems to imply he’s only wanting to sleep with Nichole, turning her cold shoulder on again. She eventually handcuffs him to the bed and escapes again; This time going to the Blue Ink. She finds Jimmy and frees him before she is captured by another pair, who are looking for Milo in order to pay off an $11,000 gambling debt. Milo comes to rescue her, and they find out the connection that Bobby and Earl were once friends, both police officers, and a recent move of stored evidence would give the pair of them access to confiscated narcotics.

Bobby arrives and meets with Earl, but Bobby plans to turn Earl in, and there is a shootout, leaving Bobby injured. Milo goes after Earl but is briefly at a disadvantage when he is ambushed by the man. Nichole approaches with a shotgun, forcing Earl to surrender. As Bobby is being loaded into an ambulance, the pair tell him that they implicated him in connection, briefly offending Bobby. Milo and Nichole, while appearing to have reconciled admit that they each need to put their jobs first; a step that Milo takes to turn Nichole into the police. Milo then punches a police officer on his way out, and is also arrested, being placed into a cell adjacent to Nichole. Through the bars they admit their love to each other, and kiss.

REVIEW:

I’m sure that when most of us think of bounty hunters, the first image that comes to mind are the kind of scruffy rebels from the 80s apocoalyptic movies, Dog the Bounty Hunter (or other white trash imitations), or Bobba/Jango Fett. If you would have told me tghat Gerard Butler would be a bounty hunter, I would’ve laughed, especially since he seems to have forgotten his action chops.

The Bounty Hunter is a nice little romantic comedy with a taste of action. That formula should have been enough to appeal to a mass audience, but the film suffers from a subpar storyline.

The whole bounty hunter having to track down and capture his ex-wife, while a severely overdone plot device, worked…mainly because of the chemistry between Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston, but everything else seems to either fall flat or confuse the audience. For instance, we know that they were married at one time, and it was actually fine not knowing what happened. Just as we are getting settled into the dynamic of consensual hatred between the two, the filmmakers decided to throw in the monkey wrench of reconciliation. True, this is a romantic comedy, but that didn’t work for me.

There were just too many things going in the flick. We have all the stuff between the two main characters, a subplot involving a criminal investigation, and another involving Jason Sudeikis’ character, who came off as quit annoying. All this just takes away from a film that wasn’t exactly the best in the book.

Surprisingly, there is a bit of action, but it is so minuscule, tha really is no point to mention, other than to say there is some. My guess is that they had these scenes just to appeal to the male audience. Not suite sure if it worked or not , but it was a gallant try.

The cast is ok. Gerard Butler have gret chemistry that really saves this film from becoming a total snorefest.

Jason Sudeikis may have an annoying character, but he works in the small doses they give us of him.  Having said that, I  wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they wanted to spin off a new film for TV show based on this.

It really is a shame that this film didn’t get the great reviews it deserves. Well, let me take that back. It isn’t washout its faults. However, it is still a good date flick. So, if you and your significant other are in the mood for something you can both watch, try The Bounty Hunter. I highly recommend it, just remember that is isn’t the best flick in the world.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

She’s Out of My League

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on August 21, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Kirk Kettner (Jay Baruchel) is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in his mid-20s who has low self-esteem and, by his own admission, has not accomplished very much in life. He works at the Pittsburgh International Airport as a Transportation Security Administration officer, and hopes of becoming a pilot one day. He tries to get back together with his self-centered ex-girlfriend, Marnie (Lindsay Sloane), who had ended her relationship with Kirk two years ago, but remained close with Kirk’s parents (Debra Jo Rupp and Adam LeFevre) and overbearing brother Dylan (Kyle Bornheimer), and continues to participate in family activities with her new boyfriend Ron. The movie opens where Kirk is rehearsing his “getting back together” speech to his three best friends who also work at the airport: Stainer (T.J. Miller), Devon (Nate Torrence), and Jack (Mike Vogel). Stainer is depressed by the speech, and tells Kirk he deserves way better. Jack advises Kirk to send the message to Marnie that since the breakup his life has been a nonstop parade of random sex with countless numbers of women, while Devon advises Kirk to just be who it is. When Kirk presents his personal speech to Marnie, she is highly dismissive of his continued romantic interests after his latest pursuit.

Then at work one morning, a beautiful woman, Molly McCleish (Alice Eve), arrives at the passenger terminal for a flight to New York. While proceeding through security, her striking looks attract unwanted attention and harassment from several male employees. Kirk is the only employee to treat her courteously: Kirk’s boss Fuller asks Molly to remove her shoes and belt to get a better look at her, but Kirk asks her to simply step through the frame to see if the alarm sets off. She walks through and no alarm sounds. Fuller then stops her and asks her to step over to the wanding area, claiming Molly had items which caused the wand to go off, but Kirk points out it was only his tie clip. Fuller then backs off, and Molly thanks Kirk for pissing off his boss for her. She then proceeds to her flight, accidentally leaving her phone in the airport security area. Upon realizing she has misplaced it, Molly calls her phone and Kirk, back at the security checkpoint, answers. The two arrange for a time to meet the following evening so that he may return the phone to her.

The following night, Kirk arrives at the Andy Warhol Museum where Molly, a professional event planner, is running a party. Devon accompanies Kirk to the Museum where Kirk returns Molly her phone. After returning the phone, both stay and met Katie, Molly’s sister. Katie then purposefully causes Kirk to spill his drink on the museum director and was asked to leave the museum for being uninvited for the party. Molly offered tickets to Kirk to the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game vs. the New York Islanders at the Mellon Arena as an apology. During the intermission, while Molly and Stainer go to get drinks, Molly’s friend and work partner Patty (Krysten Ritter) breaks some shocking and unexpected news to Kirk that Molly is into him. The next night at the bowling alley, Stainer, ranking-obsessed, tells Kirk that on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 meaning the most attractive and successful, he’s a 5, and Molly a 10, and that a relationship does not work if the difference is more than 2. Kirk then receives a call on his cell phone from Molly, whom to his greater surprise, asks him out. Prior to the date, while Katie is helping Molly pick out her dress for her date, Patti objects, claiming that she got hurt dating Cam, so she picks a guy like Kirk because he was safe and she wouldn’t get hurt. Molly simply states that Kirk is a nice guy. When Patti asks when Molly wants the “bad date bail-out call”, Molly says she won’t need it. Meanwhile the next day at the airport, Kirk shows up to work sleep deprived over the thought of him dating Molly. That night, Kirk and Molly go out for dinner at a fancy restaurant in Pittsburgh. Kirk’s nervousness only results in giggles from Molly. While having a conversation, Kirk notices a woman departing the restaurant without her jacket, and brings it to her. Kirk is mistaken by the husband for a waiter, as he pays him a couple dollars (Kirk wears a red jacket which looks almost identical to the waiters), but Kirk explains he doesn’t work there. On his way back to the table, Kirk lets a group of tough looking but non-intimidating men walk through the entrance. One of the men happened to be Molly’s ex-boyfriend Cam. After a brief conversation between the 3, Cam departs. After dinner, Kirk and Molly continue their date by going out for a walk around the downtown area, exchanging stories of themselves. Molly then receives a phone call, but sees it is Patti attempting to make the bail-out call, and lets the call go. When Kirk drops Molly off at her house, Molly kisses him. Kirk thanks her. The next day at work, Stainer is shocked to hear that Molly intentionally kissed Kirk, claiming the world is at a tilt. Molly then gets herself invited to Kirk’s family lunch. Her looks turn the heads of both Ron and Dylan, who invite her into the pool. Marnie and Dylan’s fiancé Deb are angered. During lunch, Molly discusses her work with Kirks family. After Ron and Marnie leave, Dylan and Kirk play slapshot regatta, which Kirk had promised to play in exchange for Dylan not embarrassing him. Kirk defeats Dylan for the first time.

That night in Molly’s house, while the two are making out, Kirk ejaculates in his pants, just before her parents arrive for a surprise visit. Attempting to conceal the ejaculate from her family, he initially avoids standing up but then quickly leaves to avoid Molly and her parents noticing what happened. The next day at work, Kirk and his friends are waiting for their shift to start. Marnie, whom is jealous and upstaged by Molly’s looks, takes an interest in Kirk again, claiming that she sees a change in him, and that she likes it, and proposes getting back together. Kirk says no, and Marnie walks away in disgust. Stainer shares his story about his relationship with Tina Jordan, and how he was a 6 and she was a 10, and that he wasn’t good enough for her. After making numerous comparisons about rankwise unbalanced couples, Stainer states the exceptions in all but one: Beauty & The Beast. Devon then advises Kirk to go up to Molly with confidence. At the airshow where Molly is working, Kirk approaches Mollys tent, where Molly lays down that her spending a whole day with her family, and him not even spending 30 seconds with hers was a red flag. Kirk then explains what happened, and Kirk and Molly are fine again.

During a date, Kirk suggested to Molly to throw a birthday party for her sister, Katie. During the party, Molly’s former boyfriend Cam tells Kirk that Molly has a defect and to avoid saying that she is perfect. After the party, both of them went to Molly’s place. Molly showed Kirk her webbed toes, which Kirk considers so minor that he decides that she is too perfect for him, and he breaks off the relationship. Kirk and Marnie resume their relationship and decide to go on the family trip to Branson.

When Kirk and his family go through security to depart for Branson, Stainer snatches a drink from Ron. He then tells Kirk that he has nothing mutual between any of his family members. Kirk says that he doesn’t want to go to Branson, but Stainer was right about him not being good enough, and proceeds to the gate to board the plane. While Devon gives Stainer a dirty look, Stainer sees the cup he had snatched from Ron was from the French Fry Factory where Tina Jordan worked. When Stainer goes over and asks her why their relationship never worked out, Tina claims that Stainer was plenty good enough for her, but not for himself. With this, Stainer realizes his mistake in telling Kirk that he is a 5 and his relationship with Molly would not work. He attempts to get Kirk off the plane, but Kirk refuses. While Stainer is being dragged off the plane, he shouts to Kirk that he is “a 10” too. Stainer then phones Patty, claiming that it was both his and her mistake for telling Kirk and Molly the relationship wouldn’t work, and pleads for her help by getting her to bring Molly over to the airport. Meanwhile, back on the plane, Kirk realizes his mistake, and gets out of his seat, declaring he would go find Molly and tell her he is good enough for her, whilst saying the f-bomb to all his family but his mom and Ron. His plane exit is shot down in flames when the flight attendant asks him to take his seat, and buckle up, and a $25000 fine would be required for her to reopen the passenger entrance. Kirk awkwardly retakes his seat. Back at the airport, Stainer and Molly rush to the gate, busting right through security with Stainers’ threatening words towards his boss who had been guarding the way. Stainer and Molly check the flights and discover that the flight to Branson has departed. Stainer then phones Jack, demanding that he stops the plane. The status on the flight is then set to delayed, as the plane captain announces that the plane is having mechanical problems, and they would have to de-plane. This angers many of the passengers, but Kirk, with great relief, rejects Marnie and rushes off the flight through the airport to find Molly. Marnie follows, initially in a pleasant tone, convinces Kirk to stay with her. When he takes off his Branson Bound shirt and throws it in her face and runs, Marnie is angered, and chases him. Kirk is sprinting down one conveyor belt, maneuvering around everybody. Marnie is running down another conveyor belt that is parallel to Kirks, and the same direction, but bumps into a man and falls down, giving Kirk time to get further away. Stainer phones Kirk, telling him that Molly is with him and they are in the opposite direction Kirk is running. Kirk turns around to the conveyor belt moving in the opposite direction. Marnie, however, is on the other side, sticking her arm out at chest height, knocking Kirk down, but Kirk gets back up and continues running. Marnie continues to chase him as he jumps on an airport cart. Marnie pulls an airport attendant in the back seat off. This causes tension, as the driver begins to speed, knocking over the popcorn stand. Kirk tricks Marnie into looking at certain people, then knocks her off the cart into a crowd of people. Kirk then finds Molly, and reunites with her. Later, as a surprise, he takes Molly on a trip in a small plane, with himself being the pilot; he has taken flying lessons.

PLOT:

I’m sure all of us guys at one time or another have had that girl that they felt was out of their league, whether they were just friends with them or actually had the good fortune to date them. This is the basis for She’s Out of My League.

Yes, this is a romantic comedy, but it isn’t one of those sappy ones. Often times, us guys could are in the mood for a little romance. Ok…I can’t say type that with a straight face. Most of the time, when we go see a film like this, it is usually a girl wondering why she’s with some guy and then there is all these pointless sappy drama stuff. Luckily, there is none of that here, except for enough to add some conflict to the plot.

The comedy in this film is great, but I would have liked for it to have been more. It seemed like they writer’s were holding back or were scared to put in a good joke here or there becuse *GASP* the audience might laugh.

Plotwise, as I said before, we get a nice story here, but I think there was too much time spent on trying to keep the two apart.  No wonder they felt like they should have been apart. It seemed like everyone was telling them to do so, until the last 5 minutes, of course.

The casting isn’t great, but it works. Jay Baruchel, as I said in my review for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, has the most annoying voice, but as a geeky, underacheiving loser, as this role calls for, he works. I still didn’t care for his whiny attitude. If  you had a girl that hot, would you be complaining and second guessing? I know I wouldn’t.

Alice Eve is perfect. As the hot chick, she works, and her chemistry with Baruchel is great. Not to mention, she appears to have awesome comedic timing.

The supporting cast of Krysten Ritter, Mike Vogel, Nate Torrence, and T.J. Miller all help (and hurt) the story. Without them, this film would not be half as good as it turned out.

Every year, there are one or two films that come out of nowhere and surprise everyone with how good or bad they are. She’s Out of My League is one of those pictures. When I first saw/heard about this film, I thought it was going to be another horrid comedy, but after watching it tonight, my preconceived notions were proven to be false. This is a really good picture. Now, it will probably be forgotten a year from now, except for Alice Eve’s rising star performance, but that doesn’t take anything away from its quality. Go check it out. It is definitely worth a look-see!

4 out of 5 stars

The Book of Eli

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

PLOT:

Thirty years after an apocalyptic event, Eli (Denzel Washington) travels on foot toward the west coast of the United States. Along the way, he demonstrates uncanny survival and fighting skills, hunting wildlife and swiftly defeating a group of highway bandits who try to ambush him. Searching for a source of water, he arrives in a ramshackle town built and overseen by Carnegie (Gary Oldman). Carnegie dreams of building more towns and controlling the people by using the power of a certain book. His henchmen scour the desolate landscape daily in search of it, but to no avail.

In the local town bar, Eli is set upon by a gang of bikers and he kills them all. Realizing Eli is a literate man like himself, Carnegie asks Eli to stay, although it is made clear the offer is non-negotiable. After Carnegie’s blind concubine Claudia (Jennifer Beals) gives Eli some food and water, Carnegie asks Claudia’s daughter Solara (Mila Kunis) to seduce Eli. Eli turns her down, but she discovers he has a book in his possession. Eli pacifies her with stern words, but offers to share his food with her. Before they eat, though, he has her pray with him. The following day, Solara prays with her mother. Carnegie overhears them and realizes Solara’s words were likely from the contents of the book he has been seeking. Through violence, he forces Solara to tell him Eli was reading a book. When he asks what kind, she says she does not know but forms a cross with her two index fingers. Carnegie realizes Eli has a copy of the Bible, the book he has been seeking. Eli sneaks out of his room and goes to the store across the street, where he had earlier asked the Engineer (Tom Waits) to recharge his portable battery.

Carnegie attempts to stop Eli by having all his henchmen shoot at him, but the bullets seemingly just graze him, as if he is being protected. Eli shoots most of Carnegie’s henchmen and hits Carnegie in the leg with a shotgun blast. After Eli leaves, Solara follows him and leads him to the source of the town’s water supply, hoping she can accompany him on his travels. Eli traps her inside and continues on alone. Solara escapes and soon finds herself ambushed by two bandits who attempt to rape her, but Eli appears and kills them.

Eli and Solara continue on until they arrive at a strange house. They stop to investigate and quickly fall through a trap door. The residents, Martha (Frances de la Tour) and George (Michael Gambon), invite them in for tea; however, the travellers are soon found by Carnegie. Eli, Solara, Martha, and George hole up inside the house. A shootout ensues, leading to the deaths of some of Carnegie’s men, as well as George and Martha. Eli and Solara are captured. Carnegie threatens to kill Solara, which prompts Eli to hand over the Bible. Carnegie shoots him in the stomach and leaves.

While in transit, Solara escapes and drives back to help Eli. Rather than chase her, Carnegie chooses to return to the town with the Bible, since his vehicle is running out of fuel. Solara picks Eli up and they continue west until they reach the Golden Gate Bridge. They then row to Alcatraz, where they find a group of survivors. Eli tells the guards that he has a copy of the King James version of the Bible, and they are allowed in. Once inside, they are introduced to Lombardi (Malcolm McDowell), the curator. Eli, who is revealed to be blind, begins to dictate the Bible from memory.

Meanwhile, back in the town, Carnegie manages to open the Bible with the help of his Engineer, but he is horrified to discover that it is a Braille copy. He is unable to persuade Claudia to read it for him. Carnegie’s leg wound has become septic, and he realizes he will die without making use of the Bible. Eli finishes dictating the Bible and dies from his wounds shortly thereafter. The printing press at Alcatraz begins printing the new King James Bible, after which Lombardi places a copy on the bookshelf between copies of the Torah and Qur’an. Solara is offered sanctuary in Alcatraz, but she instead chooses to head back home.

REVIEW:

Another week, another apocalyptic film. Ho-hum. No worries, though, I’m planning on staying away from this genre next week, unless Netflix screws me over and randomly picks something from my list because of the wait on the few that are on the top. It has happened before.

I don’t really know what to think about this flick. On one hand, I liked it, but on the other, I didn’t care for it. I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be some bright happy picture, but this whole dark thing is a bit played out for me. I guess that is why more and more pictures are doing the whole schtick of one actor walking around by themselves and there is no music or anything before the film finally picks up and gets going.

While I’m thinking about it, this flick starts out with Denzel killing a cat. Now, I realize he has to eat and everything, but did he really have to kill a cat? Couldn’t the filmmakers have used a dog? I’m so tired of cats getting abused in film and society while dogs are all but worshiped! It just isn’t right. I also think it would have been more effective to use a dog. The way it was done, and then the way he shooed a cat later on in the bar made it seem like he was a cat hater. I was just offended by this whole cat hatred thing.

With that point aside, this whole plot is a bit confusing. It is kind of hard to figure out that is going on, but to sum it up, it is postapocalyptic times where they have burned all the bibles. Eli has the last one and Carnegie finds out he has it and will do whatever it takes to get it because he believes that whoever controls a bible can more or less control society.

With a film like this, I sort of expected more action, but at the same time, the fact that it didn’t have too much didn’t surprise me. I was pleased with Denzel kicking ass, but disappointed that as the film progresses he seems to lose his bad-assery.

The cast is actually pretty good. I’ve already talked about Denzel, but Gary Oldman does just as good a job with his role. Seriously, do we expect less from him? As the villainous Carnegie, though, he is ruthless, cunning, conniving, and delusional. Oldman really sells his character’s descent into madness.

Mila Kunis may be the weak link of this film. She doesn’t even seem to be trying here. If you saw her in the early day of That 70’s Show, then you may remember that she more or less sleepwalked through all her scenes. The same kind of thing is going on here, but she does make a believable daughter for Jennifer Beals, as they do sort of resemble each other.

The Book of Eli isn’t the best apocalyptic flick, but it does provide some food for thought. The religious overtones and strong casting really drive this film home. Sad part is, a film like Legion, which dealt with angels wasn’t nearly as powerful, mainly because it relied more on the special effects, as opposed to the acting. I can recommend this to everyone, but for me, the jury is still out. I don’t think I would rush to see it again, but seeing it for the first time was indeed a treat.

4 out of 5 stars

Best Foot Forward

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The story centers around Lucille Ball who plays herself against an unlikely backdrop, namely, a military academy full of frisky boys. Ball is the reluctant guest of a diminutive cadet, Bud Hooper (Dix), who wrote her a mash note and invitation to be his date at a school prom.

Ball’s publicity man, Jack O’Riley (Gaxton), seizes upon the situation as a perfect PR stunt and convinces her to travel 3,000 miles to join Hooper at Winsocki Military Academy’s dance. When Ball actually shows up, mayhem ensues. Hooper, who never dreamed she would accept, has to disinvite his girlfriend, Helen (Weidler), and ask Ball to pretend to be Helen, lest the actress herself not pass muster with the institution’s screening committee.

Helen fights back while Hooper tries to keep Ball from the clutches of other cadets who want to steal her for their dates of their own. Meanwhile, Harry James and his orchestra perform various songs, including “The Flight of the Bumblebee”. The cast also sing and dance their way through such numbers as “Buckle Down, Winsocki” (the tune co-opted in the 1960s for “Buckle Up for Safety”), “Wish I May,” “Three Men on a Date”, “Alive and Kickin'”, “The Barrelhouse, The Boogie-Woogie and the Blues”, and “Ev’rytime”

REVIEW:

I’m a huge fan of Lucille Ball and Harry James, but had never heard of this flick until I was watching a biography of Lucy on PBS the other day. Every trailer and clip I’ve seen of this flick makes it seem like it is a laugh riot full of grat music from James. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Don’t get me wrong, there is Lucy and some music, but it sort of takes a backseat to this rather thin plot.

Since this is a musical, I have to mention the songs, which aren’t the worst I’ve heard, but, with the exception of those performed by the Harry James Orchestra, which were big hits already, none are really memorable, which doesn’t bode well for a musical.

This is a comedy, but they don’t capitalize on the comedic talent they have. For goodness sakes, they have the queen of comedy, Lucille Ball, and don’t really use her as anything more than eye candy! I think the filmmakers overestimated the ability to deliver some funny punchlines by these actors. More physical comedy would have worked better, especially since they insisted on dragging Lucy around like a rag doll.

I will say, though, that the choreography was quite impressive, especially in the first and final songs.

Best Foot Forward has its moments here and there, but they aren’t enough to make this a memorable film. This isn’t bad, by any stretch of the imagination, it just doesn’t resonate or stick with the viewer. It could have been so much better with jut a couple of little tweaks. Having said that, I would recommend this to my readers that like the classics. While it isn’t a must-see, it is a should-see.

3  1/2 out of 5 stars

Too Hot to Handle

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on August 18, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The plot revolves around Johnny Solo (Leo Genn), the owner of the Pink Flamingo club in London’s Soho area, and his battles with rival club owner Diamonds Dielli (Sheldon Lawrence) and the police. When the tough entrepreneur starts getting threats and demands for protection, he fights back.

Johnny’s girlfriend Midnight Franklin (Mansfield), one of the club’s headliners, wants to get him out of the business. In the background are a sadistic client, an underage chorus girl, a wisecracking siren who’s not averse to rough trade, a visiting journalist, and a dancer who guards her past.

The reporter gets involved in the strip scene while writing a story on the clubs, and in the end he has quite a lot to write about. The competition between the two clubs heats up. Johnny becomes an unknowing instrument in the death of the chorus girl. Midnight informs on him to save his life from the violent blackmailers after him. Both rival clubs head for a crash.

REVIEW:

As a huge fan of Jayne Mansfield, I was excited to see her in this film. I had heard it was one of those times where she really showed off her acting chops, and wasn’t running around like a wanna be Marilyn Monroe. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed, though. Not with Jayne, but with the lack of her screentime and the way this film turned out.

Before I begin, I want to make it perfectly clear that I was not exactly in a generous mood when this came in the mail. Usually the mail runs around 4:30, but because of the new mailman (who looks like he retired from another job somewhere years ago and just got tired of sitting at home) apparently doesn’t know the route, it got here at 8:30! Needless to say, I was none too happy, as this throws off my schedule.

All that aside, I finally got over my anger at his tardiness and watched this picture. From my understanding, it was actually released in color back in 1960, but somewhere along the lines when it came to DVD, they put it back in black and white. Personally, I don’t care either way, but looking at some of the costumes, I can imagine how brilliant they would’ve looked in full 1960 color.

The plot to this thing I couldn’t follow. I know it had to do with some gangsters, but none of the characters are really developed enough to make them worthwhile.

The best thing about this flick is the various stage scenes that had to be more than risqué at the time. Quite honestly, these are the only thing that kept my attention.

An interesting figure to watch for is a young Christopher Lee. He doesn’t have the booming, deep voice he has now, as he is quite young here, but he does play a major role.

Jayne Mansfield puts on quite a performance in comparison to her other roles. However, she seems sort of lifeless and out of sorts. I mean, she plays her character extremely well, but for some reason, it just felt uncomfortable. I don’t know, maybe that was just me, though.

Another person to watch is Barbara Windsor. Her youthful looks and exuberance light up the screen and make the audience wish for more.

Too Hot to Handle should have been called Too Cold to Hold because this film noir wannabe is just that…a wannabe. It doesn’t develop into a mystery flick, or a gangster tale. If anything, they might as well have extended the dancing scenes and labeled this as soft core porn (for the time), because that was pretty much all it was good for. While the flick is far from being subpar, it just doesn’t gel enough or keep my attention, which is a major negative. This why I can’t recommend this film as high as I would like. It is nothing more than an average to below average pice of classic filmmaking. No wonder no one talks about this film.

3 out of 5 stars

Brother Bear

Posted in Animation, Disney, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film is set in a post-ice age North America, where the local tribesmen believe all creatures are created through the Spirits, who are said to appear in the form of an aurora. Three brothers, Kenai, Denahi and Sitka, return to their tribe in order for Kenai to receive his sacred totem, its meaning being what he must achieve to call himself a man. Unlike Sitka, who gained the eagle of guidance, and Denahi who gained the wolf wisdom, Kenai receives the bear of love, much to his objections, stating that bears are thieves. His point is made a fact when a bear steals some salmon. Kenai and his brothers pursue the bear, but a fight follows on an glacier, Sitka giving his life to save his brothers, although the bear survives. Vengeful, Kenai heads out to avenge Sitka. He chases the bear up onto a mountain and kills it, unaware that the mountain is where the Spirits make contact with the Earth. The Spirits, represented by Sitka’s spirit in the form of a bald eagle, transforms Kenai into a bear. Denahi arrives, mistaking Kenai for dead, and his bear form is responsible for it, vows to avenge Kenai.

Kenai falls down some river rapids, survives, and is healed by Tanana, the shaman of Kenai’s tribe. She does not speak the bear language, but advises him to return to the mountain to find Sikta and be turned back to normal. Kenai quickly discovers the wildlife can talk, meeting two brother mooses, Rutt and Took. He gets caught in a trap, but is freed by a chatty bear cub named Koda. The two bears make a deal, Kenai will go with Koda to a nearby salmon run and then the cub will lead Kenai to the mountain. The two eventually form a sibling-like bond, Koda revealing his mother is missing. The two are hunted by Denahi who fails multiple times to kill Kenai, still unaware that he is his brother. Rutt and Took run into the bears multiple times, the group hitching a ride on a herd of mammoths to quicken the pace to the salmon run, but the moose are left behind when the bears move on. Kenai and Koda escape Denahi again, and reach the salmon run, where a large number of bears live as a family, including the leader Tug, a black bear. Kenai becomes very much at home and at content with the other bears. During a discussion among the bears, Koda tells a story about his mother fighting human hunters, making Kenai realize he killed Koda’s mother.

Guilty and horrified, Kenai runs away but Koda soon finds him. Kenai subtly reveals the truth to Koda, who runs away grief-stricken. An apologetic Kenai leaves to reach the mountain. Rutt and Took, having fallen out, reform their brotherhood in front of Koda, prompting him to go after Kenai. Denahi confronts Kenai on the mountain, but their fight is intervened by Koda who steals Denahi’s hunting pike. Kenai goes to Koda’s aid out of love, prompting Sitka to appear and turn him back into a human, much to Denahi and Koda’s surprise. However, Kenai asks Sitka to transform him back into a bear so he can look after Koda. Sitka complies, and Koda is reunited briefly with the spirit of his mother, before she and Sitka return to the Spirits. In the end, Kenai lives with the rest of the bears and gains his title as a man, through being a bear.

REVIEW:

I always have found it difficult to watch the “post-Renaissance” Disney films, because they seem to have no heart, soul, and appear to have been made just because they were in the already in production before someone decided that everyone wanted to see computer animation as opposed to the classic hand drawn stuff. There are exceptions to this rule, but Brother Bear is not one.

This film has it’s moments, but they all seem recycled and/or borrowed from other animated tales. The only thing that may be original is the whole thing about the big brother turning Kenai into a bear, but even that doesn’t exactly sit well with me. I feel like I’ve seen that before somewhere. Maybe not in that exact context, but it feels as if it had been done.

This is the point where Brother Bear fails to connect with the audience. True, the story is actually touching, especially when it is reveled that the bear Kenai killed was Koda’s mother, but with all the unoriginal elements, it starts to die a slow and painful death.

What makes it worse is that there was nothing here to really capture my attention. Sure Koda was cute and hyper, and Rutt and Took were obvious comic relief, but none of them made me sit up and want to not leave my seat everytime they were on the screen. Characters that have done that in previous Disney films are Mushu, Genie, Sebastian, Lumiere, Creeper, etc.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, in a manner similar to Pocahontas, this film just gets too serious, and it really does. If not for the montage when Koda and Kenai meet up with the other bears at the salmon run, this thing might as well have just been an animated drama. Even the comic relief wasn’t very comical.

There are a few good things about this picture, though. For instance, the animation, as with everything Disney, is sensational, topped with the sequences involving the spirits and the lights.

Phil Collins’ score and songs, while not in musical form, do help move the film along. I think it would have been better if this was a musical like the good ol Disney flicks, but hey, that’s just me.

Brother Bear fails to deliver an entertaining film, but at the same time it does manage to tell a captivating tale complete with a good moral. This is far from being my favorite Disney flick. As a matter of fact, it may very well, be near the bottom. For me, it just wasn’t good enough. Maybe I just hold Disney to higher standards or something, but this just didn’t deliver the goods. Still, I would recommend it to those that are in the mood for a hand drawn animated flick, even if it is barely average.

3 out of 5 stars

Kazaam

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on August 18, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film begins with a wrecking ball destroying an abandoned building. The impact knocks over a magic lamp inside of the building, causing it to land on a boombox. The genie inside decides to make residence inside the boombox from there on in. Meanwhile, a schoolboy named Max (Capra) is confronted and chased down by a group of bullies through the city of New Bronslin. Max is chased into the abandoned building, where he discovers the boom-box and accidentally unleashes the genie inside. The genie, who introduces himself as Kazaam (O’Neal), tells Max that he is now Max’s genie and proves it to him by demonstrating his powers, which results in Kazaam disappearing off the face of the earth. Max returns home to find that his mother is marrying a fireman. It is revealed that his mother lied to him about his real father’s whereabouts, and that he is actually located in the city. Max set out to search for his father in the hopes of rekindling some sort of bond between them. He suddenly encounters Kazaam during his travels, who pesters Max into making a wish. Max eventually finds his father, only to learn that he is a musical talent agent who specializes in pirated music.

Max goes to his personal secret hideout and tells Kazaam about his father. They decide to have a bike race through Max’s hideout, during which Kazaam shows off his powers. Kazaam finally convinces Max to make his first wish, which consists of junk food raining from the sky. While eating all of this, Max suddenly realizes that he owns Kazaam until he makes his last two wishes. Max and Kazaam go out to see Max’s father again. After getting past an intimidating bodyguard, Max is introduced by his father to the other employees of the agency and invited to a nightclub. The owner of the nightclub, Melik (Manesh) shows interest in Kazaam upon the realization that he is a genie, and hopes to control Kazaam through Max’s father. The next day, Kazaam stays in Max’s home and passes himself off as Max’s tutor. Max confesses to Kazaam that he and his father aren’t really connecting, though Kazaam attempts to shirk the issue with some rapping. Later that day, Max witnesses his father being assaulted by Mr. Melik and his minions and goes to Kazaam for help. Kazaam just received a record deal as a professional rapper and is unable to help Max out. Max is kidnapped by Mr. Melik and takes possession of Kazaam’s boom-box.

After pushing max down an elevator shaft, Melik summons Kazaam in the hopes that he will do his bidding. While Kazaam is initially powerless against his master, he soon breaks free from his oppression and defeats Mr. Melik and his minions. Kazaam transforms Mr. Melik into a basketball and then slam-dunks him into a garbage disposal. Unfortunately, Kazaam discovers that Max is dead and becomes despondent. Feeling sad, he transforms into a higher level and becomes “djinn”, and is able to bring Max back, re-unite him with his family, and gives Max’s father a second chance. In addition, Kazaam also becomes human and the film ends with wondering what is this so called “Job” which his girlfriend insists he must get.

REVIEW:

I love I Dream of Jeannie and for some reason enjoy Shaq Vs. So, when you put those two things together, I thought finally taking the time to watch Kazaam would be worthwhile. I was wrong!

Now, I don’t want to make the impression that this is 100% horrible, but it is quite bad. No, it won’t be the worst film I watch this year, but it will probably be up there.

A film about a genie should flow pretty well, but for some reason this thing is so herky jerky that it is an epic fail.

First of all, if you’re going to use a genie, shouldn’t there be more special effects? The one or two times we get something out of Kazaam, with the exception of the sparks coming from his boombox while he is rapping, just aren’t enough to make it worthwhile, even if this just a comedy.

Second, the kid is just flat-out annoying. I’m sorry, but you would think they could have someone we could actually want to cheer on, rather than wish bad things upon, but that isn’t the case, as Max is just a whiny brat.

Third, the casting is just horrid.

Shaq may have the look of a genie with his size and everything, but he can’t act his way out of a paper bag. Well, let me take that back, when he’s himself, he’s quite entertaining, and from what I remember of Steel, he was actually somewhat decent, so maybe it had more to do with this script. His best lines are the ones where he’s rhyming. Something that Max made him stop doing. Yet another reason to not like the kid.

The villain is just some middle Eastern douchebag. There isn’t anything special about him, other than he somehow knows the secret.

Speaking of the secret, it never is said how Kazaam ended up in a boombox, rather than a lamp of some sort, or why his  ears rang when Max called him.

Max’s mother is an ancillary character. Not really sure why they bothered to bring her in, except for to show he has a maternal unit. There really was no other reason to have her, let alone bring in all that crap with her wannabe fiancée. I guess it was needed to provide some conflict for Max, but I could have done without it.

So, critics and just about everyone that has seen this have done everything but crucify Shaq. As bad as this picture is, please remember that there are plenty of worse pictures out there. I can’t recommend this to anyone, unless you’re a Shaq fan or want to see a film about a genie who isn’t evil. Otherwise, there is no reason to waste 90 minutes of your time. Should you avoid this picture? Maybe not altogether, but don’t go out of your way to watch it.

2  out of 5 stars

The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

While in a bar in Bedrock, a drunken and pregnant Toot is informed that someone has come to see her. The visitor turns out to be her old housemate Foxxy who tries to tell her that their lives are in danger. This then flashbacks six months prior. Foxxy discovers that she can swear without being censored. When she discovers the show’s control room, having been abandoned for nearly two and a half years since the show’s cancellation, she realizes that Drawn Together has been cancelled. The housemates check their TV listings and find out that their time slot had been taken over by a TV show called, “The Suck My Taint Show”. Foxxy calls the network to find out why they were cancelled. The network head, upon hearing from Foxxy learns that the housemates are still alive and summons I.S.R.A.E.L. (Intelligent Smart Robot Animation Eraser Lady), a robot designed specifically to erase cartoon characters. The Jew Producer warns the housemates before I.S.R.A.E.L. shows up but manage to escape just in time in Foxxy’s van.

Once they escape from I.S.R.A.E.L., Foxxy insists that the way to survive is to get their show back on the air, and suggests that they can seek out the Suck My Taint Girl for help. Clara, refusing to believe that she is not a real princess, and wants to return to her kingdom, claiming that her father can protect them. Captain Hero, Xandir, and Ling-Ling decide to go with Clara, while Spanky and Wooldoor decide to go with Foxxy to try to get their show back on the air. While the others are arguing, Toot steals the van and drives off alone.

Back at the network, the Jew Producer tells the network head that he cannot bring himself to have the housemates erased, having become attached to them. The Jew Producer states that he won’t help the network head with his mission, but the network head reveals that he has kidnapped the Jew Producer’s son. The Jew Producer reluctantly agrees to help, and he and I.S.R.A.E.L. take off in pursuit of the housemates once again. Clara, Hero, Molly (a corpse Hero believes to be his girlfriend), Xandir, and Ling-Ling arrive at Clara’s kingdom, expecting to find refuge. However, nobody there seems to recognize Clara. She encounters the king of the land, who is not her father, and even more shockingly, a woman who appears to be the “real” princess. The guards end up killing Clara, but the other three manage to escape.

Meanwhile, Foxxy, Spanky, and Wooldoor visit the set of The Suck My Taint Show and meet the Suck My Taint Girl, who reveals herself to be a fan of the housemates’ show. She tells the group that they were cancelled because vulgar and offensive content is only acceptable when your show “makes a point”, and that if they want to get Drawn Together back on the air, they will need to get a point, which they can do by making a visit to Make-A-Point Land. She tells Foxxy that if she will bring the rest of the Drawn Together gang to meet her, she will take them to Make-A-Point Land. After tracking down the others, the remaining group return to the set of The Suck My Taint Show. The Suck My Taint Girl agrees to take the rest of the group to Make-A-Point Land to get a point.

The wizard of Make-A-Point Land agrees to give the group a point, and presents them with a box containing said point. Spanky protest them by claiming that they shouldn’t open the box, that he is happier being disgusting for no reason. The others agree with Spanky. Wooldoor disagrees, determined to get back on the air, he opens the box to find out it contains an eraser bomb which erases him from existence. The wizard explains he was forced to give them the box with a eraser bomb. It is then that the network head, The Jew Producer, and I.S.R.A.E.L. Foxxy asks how they knew they were going to the palace, which the Suck My Taint Girl reveals that she blackmailed them and is the Network Head’s wife. I.S.R.A.E.L. prepares to kill the housemates, The Jew Producer manages to convince I.S.R.A.E.L. that they have a right to exist as she does. She then impales the network head on a spike. The network head then opens his coat to reveal that he had enough explosive erasers strapped to his waist to destroy all of Make-A-Point Land. As The Network Head drops the remote to explode Make-A-Point Land, The Suck My Taint Girl tries to grab it but the Jew Producer dives on top of her to stop her. The housemates then make a getaway. The Jew Producer and the Suck My Taint Girl struggle for possession of the detonator, in the process dropping it, erasing all of Make-A-Point Land, including themselves. The housemates make it out just in time.

The housemates visit the remains of the erased Drawn Together house. The Jew Producer’s son shows up to inform them that he might be able to help them by giving them a direct-to-DVD movie. Everyone happily laughs until Spanky accidentally steps on a eraser bomb caught in the ground, erasing them all from existence.

REVIEW:

When Drawn Together was on, I watched it religiously. There was just something about how it spoofed various cartoon characters and reality shows. These days the only cartoon to spoof reality TV is something on Cartoon Network called Total Drama Island or something like that. Obviously, it is meant more for kids. So, when Drawn Together was cancelled, I wondered what Comedy Central would do to fill its animation void, since they can’t possibly stick more episodes of South Park in there. Boy, was I wrong.

That’s neither here nor there, though. The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie! is obviously meant to be a sort of closure for the fans of the show. A great idea, for sure. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure this film works the way they intended.

If you watched the show, then you know that they beeped and blurred everything offensive. Well, when you make a direct-to-DVD film, the censors aren’t breathing down your neck, so you could care less about what the characters say or do. That is why they get to curse, have sex, and do whatever they want. Sure, when the show was on, we all wished we could see this, but now that we can, it is a bit anticlimactic. Sort of like expecting steak and getting bologna.

I say this alot when comparing old movies to the crap we call cinema today. Older films, mostly in the horror genre, were more effective because of the thought of something being there or doing something. Today, for some we reason, filmmakers think we have to see it for it to be effective. In effect, all it does is numb us to the effect. The same thing applies here. Whereas the show was highly censored, not hearing/seeing various “offensive” things made it funnier than actually seeing them do/say said things. That’s just my opinion, though.

Just like the show, though, this film is hilarious, but you have to be a fan of the humor from the show to appreciate it. Chances are, most of the people that are going to watch this are either fans of the show or potheads…or both. That’s ok…an audience is an audience.

The plot revolves around the gang trying to find out how they got cancelled and how to get back on the air. Believe it or not, that is actually the best plot they’ve ever had. The way that is executed is also pretty good. As a matter of fact, it is obvious they stepped it up for this DVD release as opposed to just the weekly episodes.

On par with the show, there are plenty of racial jokes and gross out humor. Like I said earlier, if you weren’t a fan of the show, then you won’t get the humor here, and may very well come away offended (since all it takes is a pin drop to offend people these days).

These guys haven’t lost a beat since their cancellation. Too bad we won’t see them again, but all good things must come to an end, right? I can recommend this to the people who are into this type of humor, but not everyone else. Some pictures are made for a specific audience and The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie is one of those flicks. It is quite funny, though.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Legion

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) falls to Earth in Los Angeles, cuts off his wings, and raids a Korean imports store for a cache of automatic weapons. Confronted by two LAPD officers, one becomes possessed and kills the other. Michael kills the possessed cop and steals his car.

At a roadside diner and garage near the edge of the Mojave Desert are the diner’s owner, Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid), his son Jeep (Lucas Black), the short-order cook Percy (Charles S. Dutton) and a pregnant waitress, Charlie (Adrianne Palicki). Also present is a single father on his way to L.A., Kyle (Tyrese Gibson); an urban married couple, Howard and Sandra Anderson (Jon Tenney and Kate Walsh); and their rebellious and promiscuous teenage daughter, Audrey (Willa Holland).

Soon after, an old woman (Jeanette Miller) arrives and seems pleasant at first, but then begins taunting the diner’s patrons. When Howard tries to reason with her, she rips part of his throat open and climbs up the ceiling like an insect, hisses, revealing she is possessed. Kyle shoots and kills her with a pistol that he was hiding. They try to hurry an injured Howard away in Kyle’s car, but are forced to go back after passing through a swarm of horse flies.

Soon after, Michael arrives and arms the patrons as the entire sky plunges into blackness. Michael leads the patrons to fight off a large number of possessed people that arrive. They drag off Howard and cease their attack. He explains that God has lost faith in mankind and has sent down his angels to annihilate all humanity. He also reveals that Charlie’s baby is deemed to be the savior of mankind, and that it must stay alive if humanity is to have any hope of surviving. Michael also reveals that his original mission was to kill Charlie’s baby, but he disagreed with God’s orders, as he still has faith in the goodness of humanity.

The next morning Sandra discovers Howard crucified upside down behind the restaurant and covered with boils. She tries to rescue him but he violently explodes, killing Percy and driving Sandra insane. That night, a second wave of possessed attack, killing Kyle and pushing a panicked Charlie into labor. She delivers the baby as trumpets sound, signaling the approach of the Archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand), who is leading the attack on humanity. In a panic Sandra breaks her restraints and tries to give the baby to the possessed so Michael kills her.

Moments later, Gabriel is sent by God. When Gabriel reaches the diner he seriously injures Bob, and Michael gives Jeep the keys to the police cruiser he arrived in, urging them to escape. The hordes of possessed humans are unable to approach Charlie’s baby so Jeep, Audrey, Charlie, and her baby make their way to the cruiser. Gabriel and Michael fight, ending with Gabriel stabbing Michael through the chest with his mace. Michael dies and his body disappears. Bob lights a flame to the diner’s gas main, blowing up the diner and destroying himself and the remaining hordes of possessed.

Gabriel survives, and swoops down on the fleeing car. As he tries to reach Charlie, Audrey jumps on him and sacrifices herself after she yells at Jeep to slam on the brakes sending Gabriel through the front windshield as the car crashes. Charlie and Jeep survive with the baby, but Charlie indicates that Audrey did not survive the crash. Gabriel finally corners Jeep and Charlie in the nearby mountains. He is about to kill them when Michael appears from Heaven, an angel once more and stops Gabriel. Michael tells Gabriel that he (Michael) did what God needed, not what God wanted, thus giving humanity another chance. With his angelic powers back, Michael easily defeats Gabriel, but spares his life after which Gabriel leaves, defeated. Michael explains to Jeep that he is the child’s true protector then flies off. Charlie and Jeep make it to the top of the mountain and see a small town in the valley below.

Sometime later, Charlie, Jeep, and the baby are seen driving off into the distance with a car full of guns.

REVIEW:

There have been films about the apocalypse, more and more have been coming out recently. There have also been films about various angels and they’re displeasure with God and desire to be the ones he loves above all else. Also, there have been numerous films about possession and whatnot. Well, Legion combines these three elements, as well some kind of birth of a Savior plotline.

As you can tell by the poster, the major character of this film is the archangel Gabriel, who left Heaven because he didn’t want to follow a specific order given to him (we learn what the order is later on in the film). However, as much as you would think this guy is heavily featured, he isn’t. Basically, if you’ve seen the first 2, or maybe even the third, Terminator films, then you know that even though they are the main character, the flick revolves more around the people they are trying to save, serve, and protect (or kill in the case of The Terminator).

The trailers for this thing were quite misleading. They lead one to believe it was some sort of apocalyptic smackdown, but in fact this may as well have just been a horror flick using Armageddon as a backdrop. There was action, mostly involving guns, but between these scenes are forced to endure these scenes of intense drama that belong in Grey’s Anatomy or some other drama.

The effects were pretty good, but I was hoping for more possessed humans. All we got were the old lady and the ice cream man. All the rest were just human acting possessed with weird teeth. Also, Gabriel and Michael’s wings were pretty impressive, especially the way Gabriel used his as like some sort of shield.

Paul Bettany killed it as Michael, the archangel. I would have liked for him to show a bit more emotion, though. One thing that made no sense, though, was how he was able to sew his wounds up after he cut off is wings. There is no way he could have reached back there, but I guess some things just need to be overlooked.

Adrianne Palicki proves she can do more than be the sexy rebel girl on the TV series Friday Night Lights. If this is any indication of what she can do on the big screen, then we may very well be seeing more of her in the future.

Tyrese disappointed me. Not because he didn’t do a bang up job, but because his character was very stereotypical. The guy comes in driving an Escalade and listening to rap music, then we get the baby mama drama. Oh, and there’s the whole thing about him carrying a piece. It just seemed a bit wrong.

Kate Walsh annoyed the life out of me. I already don’t care for her, but you give her this role and it just makes it worse. I won’t say what happens to her, but let’s just say she gets what’s coming to her.

Dennis Quaid and Charles S. Dutton are their usual perfect on screen selves.

Lucas Black was a surprise. He seemed like the kind of loser who wanted to do right, and that is what he is, but he really made this character interesting and relatable to the audience, something the other actors didn’t do as well.

Legion has its hits and misses, but in the end it comes off as just an average film. It could have been so much better, had they gone in different directions, but since they didn’t, it never really takes off.  I can recommend this, but there is no reason to be in a big rush to see it.

3 out of 5 stars