Archive for August 1, 2010

Total Recall

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 2084, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a mild-mannered construction worker on Earth who dreams of exploring the human colonies of Mars. He opts to visit “Rekall”, a company that specializes in implanting false memories of a virtual trip to any location. Quaid pays for a Mars experience, including aspects of being a secret agent and discovering alien artifacts. When Rekall attempts to implant the memories, they find he already appears to have undergone a previous memory replacement procedure. Believing himself to be a secret agent whose cover has just been blown, Quaid attacks the medical staff until he is sedated. They quickly restore his memory (undoing Rekall’s changes only; Quaid still has his previous false memories) and send him home.

Quaid arrives and suddenly finds his former friends and his wife, Lori (Sharon Stone), are out to kill him. He is able to subdue Lori and learns that his life prior to the past two months are all false memories, and that she and his friends were there to keep track of him. Their marriage has also been false, as she is really the girlfriend of Richter (Michael Ironside), the man that has led the attacks on Quaid. Quaid escapes, pursued by Richter, and eventually encounters a man that claims to be a former friend and gives him a briefcase. A tool inside allows Quaid to remove a tracking device implanted in his skull, throwing Richter off track. The briefcase also contains a video of himself; however, this version calls himself Hauser, revealing that he used to work for Mars administrator Vilos Cohaagen (Ronny Cox), but went undercover and implanted the Quaid personality to cover his tracks. The video of Hauser insists Quaid travel to Mars and deliver the information stored in his mind to the authorities to bring down Cohaagen.

Quaid arrives at the Mars colony and avoids capture by Richter and Cohaagen’s men. He discovers that, as Hauser, he has been here before, and reconnects with Melina (Rachel Ticotin), a prostitute in the redlight area of Venusville, where poor radiation shielding has created a number of mutants, but after hearing his story, refuses to have anything to do with him. Returning to his hotel room, he is confronted by Lori and Dr. Edgemar (Roy Brocksmith), the leading researcher from Rekall. Dr. Edgemar claims that everything Quaid has experienced since leaving Rekall has been part of the false memories that have gone wrong, and that by taking a pill, they can restore his mind to normal. He is about to take the pill, but he kills Dr. Edgemar after seeing him sweating, then he spits out the pill. He is forced to run from Lori and several of Cohaagen’s soldiers; Melina arrives, having realized Quaid’s story is true and helps him to escape, killing Lori in the process. As they flee, she explains that one of the mutants, Kuato, may have the ability to extract Hauser’s information from Quaid. Along with a taxi driver named Benny, the three escape from Richter and make their way to Kuato (Marshall Bell); in revenge for aiding in their escape, Cohaagen blocks Venusville and shuts down its ventilation system, slowly causing the denizens to die from lack of oxygen. Quaid, Melina, and Benny are found by Kuato’s forces, and Quaid is taken privately to see the mutant – a small humanoid form conjoined to another man. The mutant helps Quaid identify a giant alien artifact device that has been recently uncovered, and implores him to start it up. As Quaid learns this, they are attacked by Cohaagen’s forces, and Benny (Mel Johnson Jr.) reveals himself to be a mole having led them to Kuato. Kuato is killed while Quaid and Melina are captured.

Quaid is taken to Cohaagen, who shows him another video by Hauser that reveals Hauser to be Cohaagen’s friend, and that he went through the false memory process in order to lead Cohaagen to the rebels without alerting their telepaths. Cohaagen orders that Hauser’s memories be restored in a Rekall device as well as wiping Melina’s mind, but the two manage to escape. They make their way to the site of the alien artifact, killing Benny, Richter, and the rest of his men in the process. As they enter the control room of the machine, Cohaagen arrives and attempts to stop Quaid by threatening to blow up the control room, but Quaid grabs the explosive charge and tosses it through a large vent, accidentally rupturing a wall exposed to the void of Mars’ atmosphere. Cohaagen is dragged out in the vacuum and dies from asphyxiation and decompression, while Quaid is able to start the machine just before they are dragged out. The device is revealed to be a sort of terraforming machine and generates massive amounts of oxygen, and Quaid and Melina are saved from death as the waves of breathable air sweep across the planet. As the citizens of Venusville and the colony find themselves safe and free of Cohaagen’s rule, Quaid and Melina kiss, with Quaid still wondering if this is still all part of his Rekall memories.

REVIEW:

Remember when they made movies like this? Full of toungue-in-cheek humor, awesome action, and special effects that were obviously fake, but it didn’t matter because the film was just flat out fun. Well, that is the kind of flick we would get on a regular basis in the 80s and early 90s.

Total Recall is one of the films that cemented Schwarzenegger’s legacy as one of the last true action stars. The ironic thing is that, in comparison to other action flicks of this time, the action is a bit tame. Still, it is quite enjoyable.

The story, apparently, is quite different from the short story this was based on. I have a problem with getting too far away from the source material, even if I don’t know anything about it. However, this still came out as a good flick, so they should have said loosely based on that story or something. That would have been some kind of decent compromise, in my opinion.

Special effects don’t necessarily drive this picture,  the way they do petty much every film today, but they do add something that wouldn’t be there without them, that’s for sure. CGI is almost non-existant. For those of you that live and die by the church of CGI, the only bit of it is the X-Ray machines, and nothing else.

Casting is ok, not great. Schwarzenegger is his usual self. After all the movies I’ve seen him in, I still wonder if he is a bad actor or if his accent makes him seem worse. The same can be said for Stallone, mind you.

Sharon Stone is supposedly the hot wife who is planted to keep an eye on Quaid. She does what she can with this material, but its nothing to write home about.

Rachel Ticotin is the hot brunette who really loves Quaid…or is it Hauser? Either way, she comes off as a bit wooden in the scenes where she’s not trying to be the rebellious type. What ever happened to the days of damsels in distress?

Total Recall may not be a true classic in the way that something like Breakfast at Tiffany’s is, but in the realm of sci-fi, it stacks up pretty nicely. With a great story, decent effects, and a competent cast, it makes for quite the enjoyable flick. I remember the first time I watched this as a kid. I got to the scenes where the chick with three breasts opens her shirt. As you can imagine, I wore the tape out rewinding that scene. What can I say, I was abormonally driven adolescent. Memories like that are what make films stand the test of time. Why not check this out and see if you can create some lasting memories of your own.

4 out of 5 stars

Blood: The Last Vampire

Posted in Action/Adventure, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on August 1, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Saya (Gianna Jun) is a 400-year-old half human-half vampire who hunts other vampires. Raised by a man named Kato (Yasuaki Kurata), she works loosely with an organization known as “The Council” while seeking out Onigen (Koyuki), the highest ranking and strongest of vampires. Seeking clues about Onigen, Saya transfers to a school near the Yokota Air Base. Normally a loner, Saya forms a friendship with a young girl named Alice (Allison Miller), whom she rescues from some vampires.

REVIEW:

With all the vampire (and I use that term loosely, since they are an insult to true vampire lore) movies and whatnot around these days, I took a chance that this would be more of some real butt-kicking vampire action. From the couple of episode I’ve seen of the anime Blood: The Last Vampire is fairly close to the source material, but doesn’t deliver on the butt-kicking that it advertises.

It should be noted that I don’t know much about the anime. As I mentioned, I’ve only seen a couple of episodes. So, don’t have an aneurism just because you think they ruined your fantasy or something.

The action in this flick is pretty cool, if I must say. Unfortunately, it gets a bit cartoonish. Nothing wrong with that, except it felt like the film’s tone was trying to be more serious.

I wasn’t a fan of the CGI demons. It was like they were trying to go for the stop-motion look but use CGI, instead. It just didn’t work, and came off looking just plain bad.

I have to say that the acting here, which really isn’t the major focus of this film, isn’t that great. Saya comes off wooden, despite the fact that her character is cold. Alice seems like she’s sleepwalking. Hell, they might as well have gotten Kristen Stewart to play her.

There were a couple of bright spots, though. The gorgeous Koyuki does an excellent job of playing the evil Onigen. Unfortunately, her screen time was too limited and the final battle with Saya was disappointing.

The other bright spot was Liam Cunningham as Michael. As Saya’s handler, he had the caring and compassion needed. He also handled the rebelliousness of his partner Luke. Too bad he was shot before the film was halfway through. The thing about that, though, is his death was never mentioned after it happened. Can we say plothole?

Blood: The Last Vampire is a good enough film to keep the audience entertained, but it could have been much better. The special effects and acting are the real downfall of this film. As the film progresses, it seems these things get worse, and as they do, the film loses the audience. Having said that, it isn’t as bad as some other live-action anime adaptations, and is head and shoulders  above these faux-vampire flicks that are out these days (I’m referring to the Twilight Saga). While this isn’t a must-see, it won’t hurt you at least give it a chance. Who knows, you may even end up liking it!

3 out of 5 stars