Archive for August 7, 2010

Robocop 3

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The main plot of RoboCop 3 involves RoboCop (Robert John Burke) finding a new family, as he has apparently given up hope of seeing his wife or son again. He forms a bond with an orphaned little Japanese-American computer whiz girl named Nikko, as well as coming into contact with an underground paramilitary resistance. The resistance, built up of underprivileged urban families, formed after Omni Consumer Products (OCP) began relocating them in order to build Delta City on the land encompassing Detroit’s Cadillac Heights area. RoboCop also finds one of the original scientists from the first two films, Dr. Marie Lazarus (Jill Hennessy), who built and operated on him, and has left the organization after becoming disillusioned with it.

Meanwhile, OCP is on the verge of bankruptcy and creates an armed force called the Urban Rehabilitators (“Rehabs” for short), under the command of Paul McDaggett (John Castle), to combat rising crime in Old Detroit and augment the ranks of Detroit Police in apprehending violent criminals, while in reality forcibly relocating the residents of Cadillac Heights, killing some of them (including Nikko’s parents) in the process. The Police force is gradually superseded by the Rehab forces, and violent crime begins to spiral out of control once more. The Delta City dream of the former CEO and “Old Man” lives on through the help of a Japanese zaibatsu, the Kanemitsu Corporation, who bought a controlling stake in OCP. Kanemitsu sees the potential in the citywide redevelopment, and moves forward with its own plans to remove the current citizens. The company develops and uses its own ninja robots (called “Otomo”) to help McDaggett and the OCP President overcome the resistance of the anti-OCP militia forces.

When RoboCop and Lewis try to defend unarmed civilians from the Rehabs one night, Lewis is killed by McDaggett. Unable to fight back because of the Fourth Directive, RoboCop is saved by members of the resistance and eventually joins their cause. Due to severe damage sustained in the shootout, RoboCop’s systems efficiency plummets, and he asks the resistance to summon Dr. Lazarus, who promptly arrives and begins to treat him, deleting the Fourth Directive in the process. During an earlier raid on an armory, the resistance has picked up a flight pack prototype originally intended for RoboCop’s use, which Lazarus modifies and upgrades.

After recovering from his injuries, RoboCop conducts a one-man campaign against the Rehabs. He finds McDaggett and attempts to subdue him, but McDaggett is able to escape, and accepts information from a disgruntled resistance member (Stephen Root) to find the base. The base is invaded by the Rehabs, and most of the resistance members are either killed or taken prisoner. Nikko escapes with the help of Lazarus, who is taken back into the OCP building as a prisoner.

RoboCop returns to the rebel base, only to find it abandoned. One of the Otomo ninjabots shows up and attacks him. RoboCop experiences another power drain, but is able to destroy his opponent. Meanwhile, Nikko infiltrates the OCP building and manages to have Lazarus broadcast an improvised televisation of OCP being behind the entire criminal outbreaks and implicating them for the removal and termination of the Cadillac Heights residents. RoboCop hears this broadcast and latches the jetpack onto himself. The broadcast also causes OCP’s stock to plunge dramatically, driving the company into total ruin.

McDaggett decides to execute an all-out strike against Cadillac Heights with the help of the Detroit City police department, but all of the police officers defect to the resistance in outrage, as moving people out of their homes is not part of a cop’s job; as a result, McDaggett hires street gangs and punks as additional muscle. Just when the combined forces of the Rehabs and gangs are about to wipe out the rebels and Detroit Police, RoboCop flies into the scene with his jetpack and defeats the attackers before he proceeds to the OCP building, where McDaggett is waiting for him. Two other Otomo robots confront RoboCop and nearly manage to defeat him when Nikko and Lazarus succeed in reprogramming them, forcing them to destroy each other. This, however, triggers a self-destruct in both units. RoboCop reignites his jet pack, the discharge of flame hitting McDaggett’s leg and rendering him immobile, and escapes with Nikko and Lazarus, while McDaggett perishes in the blast.

As Old Detroit is being cleaned up, Kanemitsu arrives and bows to RoboCop. When the now ex-OCP President calls RoboCop by his former name Murphy, RoboCop scolds him, “My friends call me Murphy. You call me RoboCop.”

REVIEW:

This franchise started with such promise, but the sequels just have not stood up to the brilliance of the original Robocop. Robocop 3 should be a lesson to filmmakers on why you don’t make a random third film, unless it furthers the story along.

My initial issue with this film is, first of all, they changed the actor who played Robocop. While it doesn’t take the best Thespian to play Robocop, there is juts something about continuity here. I read that there was a scheduling conflict that kept him out of it. If that was the case, then they should have waited for him to be done. Just having him in this would have made it at least more bearable.

Next, this thing is so un-Robocop like that it isn’t even  worthy of the title. They reduced this to a PG-13 rating, For those of you that have seen the first two films, you know that they are graphic, violent, and deal with lots of intense themes. This one totally ignores such things and just plods along through some plot that a 5 yr old kid could have come up with.

My frustrations continue with the killing of Nancy Allen’s character. I’m torn on this because on one hand, killing her makes for a good plot twist (one of the few good things about this film), but on the other hand, taking her away took something away from Robocop. The guy doesn’t have much, and you take away his one human friend. WTF?!?

Action is alright here, but I was so disillusioned and borderline pissed-off at this thing, that it was hard for me to enjoy it, but I did notice that it wasn’t really anything spectacular. Maybe because I was expecting some kind of blood and guts to be spilled. The watered down rating, diluted the action, that’s for sure.

The plot, as I mentioned could have been written by some kid in kindergarten, and I really wonder if that was the case. Robocop 2 didn’t have the best plot, but at least it didn’t feel like it was done with the same handiwork as a popcorn necklace.

What is it about the plot that I dislike? Well, the Rehab force made no sense. The fact that Detroit has seemingly gotten worse since the previous two films (even though it looked better in Robocop 2) bothers me, the ninja robots seemed thrust in just to give Robocop a robotic adversary. Oh, and the jetpack was nothing special. If they wanted to make that big of a deal about the thing, then they should have built it into him when they repaired him and have him make a big deal about his new equipment.

Robocop 3 is the weak link in the franchise (not counting the TV show). No wonder they wanted to reboot this thing. After seeing this, I’m almost tempted to back off my stance on reboots/remakes just to erase the memory of this mess. As much as I have sat here and bashed the hell out of this, but it isn’t a truly horrible film, it is just bad, especially in comparison to its predecessors. For that reason, I can’t, in good faith, recommend this film, unless you just want to finish the trilogy. It just isn’t worth it, unless you want to get angry seeing how far this franchise has fallen since the original Robocop.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

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Amelie

Posted in Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , on August 7, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Amélie Poulain is a young woman who has grown up isolated from other children. Raphaël, her taciturn, schizoid ex-Army-doctor father, mistakenly believes that she suffers from a form of hypertension because of her high heart rate. This is actually caused by the rare thrill of physical contact with her father, who only ever touches her during medical check-ups. Amandine, her mother, is a neurotic schoolteacher, who sees to Amélie’s education at home. In 1979, Amandine dies when Amélie is only six years old; she is the victim of a freak accident involving a Québécoise woman who commits suicide by jumping off the top of Notre Dame Cathedral and lands on Amélie’s mother. Raphaël withdraws even further as a result, and devotes his life to building in the garden a rather eccentric memorial to Amandine, complete with a container of her ashes. Left even more alone, Amélie develops an unusually active imagination.

As a young woman, Amélie is a waitress in The Two Windmills, which is a small Montmartre café, run by a former circus performer. The café is staffed and frequented by a collection of eccentrics. At age 23, having spurned romantic relationships following a few disappointing efforts, Amélie finds contentment in simple pleasures, such as dipping her hand into sacks of grain, cracking crème brûlée with a teaspoon, skipping stones across St. Martin’s Canal, guessing how many couples in Paris are having an orgasm at one moment, and letting her imagination roam free.

On August 31, 1997, Amélie, shocked upon hearing the news of Princess Diana’s death on television, drops a bottle cap, which loosens a bathroom wall tile. Behind the loose tile, she finds an old metal box of childhood memorabilia hidden by a boy who lived in her apartment decades earlier. Fascinated by this find, she resolves to track down the now adult man who placed it there and return it to him, making a deal with herself in the process: if she finds him and it makes him happy, she will devote her life to bringing happiness to others.

Amélie meets her reclusive neighbour, Raymond Dufayel, a painter who continually repaints Luncheon of the Boating Party (Le Déjeuner des canotiers) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He is known as ‘the Glass Man’ because of his brittle bone condition. With his help, she tracks down the former occupant, and places the box in a phone booth, ringing the number as he passes to lure him there. Upon opening the box, the man, moved to tears, has an epiphany as long-forgotten childhood memories come flooding back. He then finds his way into the same bar as Amelie and vows to reconcile with his estranged family. On seeing the positive effect she had on him, she resolves from that moment on to do good in the lives of others.

Amélie becomes a secret matchmaker and guardian angel, executing complex but hidden schemes that impact the lives of those around her with subtle, arm’s-length manipulation, leading to several sub-plots and episodes. She escorts a blind man to the Metro station, giving him a rich description of the street scenes he passes. She persuades her father to follow his dream of touring the world by stealing his garden gnome and having an air-hostess friend send pictures of it posing with landmarks from all over the world. She kindles a romance between a co-worker and one of the customers in the bar. She convinces the unhappy concierge of her building that the husband who abandoned her had in fact sent her a final reconciliatory love letter just before his death. She supports Lucien, the young man who works for Mr. Collignon, the bullying neighbourhood greengrocer; by playing practical jokes on Collignon, she undermines his confidence until he questions his own sanity.

However, while she is looking after others, Mr. Dufayel is observing her and begins a conversation with her about his painting. Although he has painted the same piece dozens of times, he has never quite captured the excluded look of the girl drinking a glass of water. They often discuss the meaning of this character, and although it is never explicitly stated, for Dufayel, she comes to represent Amélie and her lonely life. Through their discussions, Amélie is forced to examine her own life and her attraction to a stranger, a quirky young man who collects the discarded photographs of strangers from passport photo booths. When she accidentally bumps into him a second time and realizes she is smitten, she is fortunate to be on the scene to pick up his photo album when he drops it in the street. She discovers his name is Nino Quincampoix, and she plays a cat and mouse game with him around Paris before eventually anonymously returning his treasured album; however, she is too shy to actually approach him, and almost loses hope when, having finally attempted to orchestrate a proper meeting, she misinterprets events when he enters into a conversation with one of her co-workers. It takes Raymond Dufayel’s insightful friendship to give her the courage to overcome her shyness and finally meet with Nino, and the two begin a relationship.

REVIEW:

 I have to preface this review by saying that this is a French film. As such, there is no English version of it, so viewers have to deal with subtitles. There is nothing wrong with this, per se, but for me, it just takes something away from the experience.

Amelie is quite the whimsical picture. I did not know this as I was watching, but apparently, it influenced the cancelled too soon (I’m still bitter about that, btw) Pushing Daisies.

The story is quite cute and poignant. What harm would it do for all of us to take a few minutes to do some good, like Amelie does here? I bet it would make someone’s day if we were to do so. Unfortunately, in today’s jaded, skeptical, paranoid society, if we were to do something like that we’d either get arrested, sued, or have some sort of pain inflicted on out person. What has happened to our society?

Audrey Tautou is a cutie patootie and perfect as Amelie. She brings out the childlike innocence this character needs and deserves. Even as she is, for lack of a better term, “growing up”, she maintains the innocence. Of course, those big brown eyes and cherubic face, may have had something to do with that.

I wish I could give a more in-depth review of Amelie, but the language barrier kept me from truly getting into this film. Having said that, I was still captivated from the beginning, regardless of the foreign tongues. It is always good to see a light film as opposed to the overkill of dark, brooding pictures out there today. True, this may be one of those “artsy-fartsy” flicks, but it is one of those rare ones that is actually worth watching. The critics got it right with this one, as did the awards people. So, what are you waiting for? Go check it out!

4 out of 5 stars