Archive for September, 2010

Pot o’ Gold

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jimmy Haskell (Stewart) is the former owner of a defunct music store. His uncle, C.J. Haskell (Charles Winninger), dislikes music and has long wanted Jimmy to join him in his health food business. Jimmy only agrees after his music store is closed. When Jimmy arrives his uncle’s place, he is confronted by members of the McCorkle family, who play in Heidt’s band and often practice outside C.J.’s business. As C.J. hates music, he is infuriated and attempts to stop the band using the police. Unsuccessful, he is thrown a tomato by Jimmy, unintentionally. Jimmy is then made a hero by the band and the McCorkles, who do not know his true identity. Molly McCorkle (Goddard) falls in love with him.

When Jimmy substitutes for C.J. on the Haskell radio program, two band members find out his identity. They work together to devise a scheme to persuade C.J. to take a vacation. In the meantime, Jimmy takes over the operation of the business and invites Heidt’s band to play on the radio. Molly learns Jimmy’s identity, and in anger, she says the Haskell program will give away $1000 every week. Jimmy has no choice but to find a way to hand out the cash, and a federal investigator reminds him that using lottery to give the 1000 dollars is illegal.

Jimmy plans to use phone books and a roulette-style game to find winners. The Haskell program grows immensely popular and attracts lucrative advertising contracts. This reconciles the Haskell and McCorkles, paving the way for the marriage between Jimmy and Molly.

REVIEW:

When you hear something line Pot o’ Gold, the first that pops in your head is more than likely leprechauns and their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, right? Well, if that’s what you’re looking for in the classic musical comedy, you’ll be very disappointed, as there isn’t a leprechaun to be seen or heard from. The closest thing is Mom McCorkle’s Irish accent.

It is no secret that I am a fan of classic cinema. Personally, I think that the films made back then (even those that are justy plain bad) are infinitely superior to those of today. This film is no exception.

Apparently, this film is based on a radio giveaway program from the 40s. I don’t know how much of this story actually happened, if any, though.

The plot revolved around struggling music store owner Jimmy Haskell who closes up his store and moves to big city. Inadvertently, he gets drawn into a struggle between his uncle and the musicians next door. Did I mention that the uncle hates music?

This leads to Jimmy accidentally hitting him in the face with a tomato and being accepted by the McCorkles. Some more stuff happens and because of a hoarse uncle, Jimmy fills in on the radio program which is heard by two of the musicians. They vow to keep it a secret from Molly, and thus begins the thickened plot.

Yeah, not exactly the most interesting of stories, I’ll give you that. As a matter of fact, if not for the big band music, I think this may very well have been one extremely dull piece of cinema.

However, the cast is amazing. Jimmy Stewart is his masterful self as…um…Jimmy. Although, he seems as awkward here as he did in The Glenn Miller Story. Having said that, this uncomfortableness he exudes is what made Stewart such a memorable actor, aside from his speaking voice, of course.

Palette Goddard is an underrated beauty. Of course, in the days of pure gorgeousness that was this era, Helen of Troy and Cleopatra would have been overshadowed. Goddard’s performance only bothered me when she finds out about the deceit. A bit too emotional for my taste, but that’s more of a personal thing, and not an indictment on her.

The music here is great, and as I said, it is what keeps this film interesting. Bandleader Horace Heidt really knew how to swing!

I know many of you aren’t even going to waste your time bothering to read this review, let alone see this film. That is your business, and I can’t make you do or not do something, but I do implore you to at least give this classic film a shot. Sure, it isn’ t the most interesting thing you’ll see in your life, but the music is great and Jimmy Stewart is awesome. Who knows, you may end up liking it when all is said and done?

3 out of 5 stars

Clean Slate

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

PLOT:

Maurice Pogue (Carvey) has Anterograde amnesia, a form of amnesia that prevents him from remembering anything that happened to him the day before. He realizes from a recording he made for himself the previous night (Sunday) – to keep himself in the know – that he’s a private investigator in Los Angeles, and acquired the condition after being injured during a case. Pogue tells himself not to reveal his condition to anyone, as he’s the key witness in the case against the man responsible for his amnesia. Appearing on the recording is a strange woman, Sarah Novak (Golino), who informs him she has been living under the alias Beth Holly in San Francisco, and she has come to L.A. because she is being blackmailed. The police then come to Pogue’s office, and take him to what turns out to be his birthday party. He tells his friend Dolby (Jones) that he’s seen Sarah, and learns from Dolby that Sarah is dead. While at the party, Pogue also meets Anthony Doover (Michael Murphy), his doctor – the only person who knows of Pogue’s condition.

Two henchmen take him from the party to meet Philip Cornell (Gambon), the man Pogue is to testify against. Cornell offers Pogue a large sum of money to deny witnessing Cornell’s involvement in the crime. On re-examining his files at the office, Pogue learns that Sarah was once Cornell’s lover, who decided to testify against Cornell lest he killed her because of her knowledge of his illegal activities. Sarah hired Pogue to protect her but was killed by a car bomb, the same bomb that caused his amnesia. That night, Pogue meets Sarah at a fashion show she’s modeling in. She tells him the girl that was killed in the explosion was a double, and that someone’s threatening to tell Cornell she’s still alive. Sarah also tells Pogue about a valuable coin Cornell stole from the L.A. County Museum, which she in turn stole from him. Sarah tells Pogue that she gave him the coin the morning before the explosion; Pogue cannot remember. The only clue the two have about the coin’s location is one word Pogue said when Sarah gave it to him, “Baby.”

The next morning, Pogue has forgotten everything again. Cornell shows up to his office to get Pogue’s sworn statement but Pogue, mistaking Cornell for his landlord, gives him a check for rent. Pogue tries throughout the day to figure out where the coin is but doesn’t find any answers. Later on he meets with Sarah; she stays at his place for the night and they make love. Pogue wakes up the following day remembering everything from the day before. Through learning his dog is Baby, he recalls that he hid the coin in its collar. He takes Sarah to a payphone to call the people who are blackmailing her, Pogue notices that her handwriting is not the same as on the note the coin was wrapped in. Thus realizing she cannot really be Sarah Novak, he switches the coin without her knowledge. He then follows her and finds that Doover and she set up the scam to get the coin. When Doover says they’ll have to start all over again after they failed to get the coin, the woman posing as Sarah refused to go through with it again. That night, while sitting in Pogue’s car outside his office, the woman reveals into one of Pogue’s recorders that she’s really Beth Holly, whom Doover had hired because of her resemblance to Novak. Cornell’s men then kidnap Beth when they see her in the car.

Thursday morning, Cornell, who’s figured out that Pogue has the coin, abducts Pogue and takes hum to his home, where he attempts to torture him to give up the coin. Pogue and Holly escape, and rush to Cornell’s trial. During the trial, Pogue falls back in his chair and hits his head, then suddenly regains his memory. He tells Beth that he put the coin in a parking meter and she speeds off to get it. Pogue then gives his testimony against Cornell, which prompts Cornell to change his plea in the case. Pogue finds Sarah back at his apartment and the story ends when the two kiss and go inside.

REVIEW:

Apparently, Dana Carvey movies are they key to special memories/moments in my life. If you will recall, a few months back, when I reviewed Master of Disguise, I mentioned that it held a special place in my heart as I saw it in one of the last drive-in theaters. Well, Clean Slate has a similar link to my past, as this was the first film I took a date to see.

With that thought, let me just say that when I first saw this film, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. Seriously, I was a high school junior on a date with a hot majorette. Do you honestly think I was paying attention to what was happening on the screen?

Years later, though, I finally have decided to check this film out and actually watch it this time. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m glad I didn’t watch it the first time and sort of wish I didn’t watch it this time.

I have to mention this about the plot. The whole amnesia thing where everyday he wakes up and forgets everything from the day before sounds a bit too much like 50 First Dates (or vice-versa), if you ask me. I think that is one of the reasons that I couldn’t get invested in the film. I was thinking too much of Drew Barrymore’s character from that film.

Having said that, the amnesia angle is the best part of the plot. Everything else just seems like it was written to showcase Carvey and everyone else just has to smile and nod. Even while doing that, it does him no justice.

Don’t get me wrong, the story itself could have worked. Perhaps if they would have set it in the 30s or 40s and made this a film noir comedy akin to Johnny Dangerously (speaking generally as having a comedy set in that era, of course).

The romance angle could have gone somewhere interesting, especially with her supposedly being dead, and the other woman with the handcuffs and whatnot, but the filmmakers chose not to see where that would have led. On one hand, I’m glad, but on the other, I have to say I am intrigued to know where this all would have led.

Judging by the cast of this flick, you’d think it would have worked, but it just doesn’t. Dana Carvey was supposed to be a huge star after leaving Saturday Night Live, but that just didn’t happen. If ever he questions why not, then he need look no further than this film. Carvey is best known for his impression and quirky demeanor. Neither of which are on display here. At least in Master of Disguise, he did what he was known for.

Valeria Golino is not a leading lady. She would have worked much better as the other woman, played by Olivia d’Abo, and vice-versa. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Golino, but she just didn’t sell me on this role.

Michael Gambon, who is currently best known as Dumbledore, really surprised me with this turn as a villain. Of course, the whole no thumbs thing makes me go back to my suggestion that this film should have been set in the 30s or 40s. That would have been perfectly explained as some gangster cut them off, rather than that lame story about his father.

Kevin Pollack and James Earl Jones make interesting additions to the cast, but both seem to be a bit out-of-place, especially Jones, who does nothing more than ride around in a wheelchair with a neck brace on for the few scenes he is in.

The verdict on Clean Slate is this…if you have a clean slate about this picture before watching it, then leave it that way. There really is no reason to waste your time, unless you’re just a die-hard Dana Carvey fan, and even for that group I would find it hard to recommend this. While not totally horrible, Clean Slate fails to deliver where it matters most, the department of being an entertaining, enjoyable comedy. For that reason, and the reason alone, I have to say stay away.

2 out of 5 stars

Masters of the Universe

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

On the Planet Eternia, at the centre of the Universe, the forces of Skeletor (Frank Langella) have managed to seize control over Castle Grayskull, and after defeating (off-panel) the biggest part of Eternia’s armies, capture the Sorceress of Grayskull (Christina Pickles). Skeletor is planning to exploit Grayskull’s hidden powers when the “Great Eye of the Galaxy”, a portal in the castle’s throne room, opens and Eternia’s moon is correctly aligned with it.

The remaining Eternian forces are scattered and outnumbered. One of Skeletor’s patrols is attacked by Eternia’s greatest warrior and Skeletor’s archenemy, He-Man (Dolph Lundgren), veteran soldier Man-At-Arms (Jon Cypher) and his daughter Teela (Chelsea Field). During the battle, He-Man rescues a Thenorian inventor/locksmith named Gwildor (Billy Barty), who reveals to his rescuers his newest invention: a “Cosmic Key”, which can open a portal to any location in time and space. Skeletor stole the Key from him and used it to get into Castle Grayskull, but Gwildor managed to keep the prototype. Gwildor leads the others into a secret passageway straight to the Castle before a field commander of Skeletor’s armies named Karg can storm the Thenorian’s house.

At Grayskull, the group is surrounded by Skeletor and his troops. Gwildor uses his key to open a random gateway through which the group escapes to Earth, but on arriving there, the key is lost and the Eternians split up to find it. Nearby, in the village of Whittier, California, two teenagers, Julie Winston (Courteney Cox) and Kevin Corrigan (Robert Duncan McNeill), discover the Key in a crater, and start pressing its buttons. Back at Grayskull, Skeletor’s second-in-command, Evil-Lyn (Meg Foster), tracks the Key to Earth and prepares a small team of mercenaries to recover it. They consist of Saurod, Blade, and Beastman, with Karg appointed as their leader.

Back in Whittier, Kevin and Julie are spending the evening at their high school, because Julie is moving away following the deaths of her parents in a plane crash. Curious about the Key’s origins, Kevin, an aspiring musician, mistakes the object for a Japanese synthesizer, and takes it to a friend at a local music store to get a second opinion. At that moment, however, a portal opens, with Skeletor’s mercenaries storming into the gym. A fearful Julie narrowly escapes and stumbles into He-Man. He-Man attacks the accompanying troops and saves Julie, and Man-At-Arms and Teela chase the mercenaries away. On their return to Grayskull, Skeletor is infuriated by the mercenaries’ failure and kills Saurod. He then sends them back to Earth with a larger force under the command of Evil-Lyn.

Kevin returns to the school, which has nearly been burned down in light of the melee. The detective on scene, Lubic (James Tolkan), takes Kevin to Julie’s house to look for her. Over the phone, Julie reveals to Kevin the importance of the Cosmic Key, but Lubic confiscates it, suspecting it to be stolen. Immediately afterwards, Evil-Lyn captures and interrogates Kevin, then leaves to acquire the Key from Lubic. Julie, along with He-Man and his comrades, meet up with Kevin and then proceed to the music store, where Lubic has taken the Key for expert analysis. Lubic suspects the Eternians to be responsible for the attack at the school and attempts to arrest them and Gwildor, only to be interrupted by the arrival of Evil-Lyn and her troops, and retreats to gather reinforcements. A battle ensues, during which Evil-Lyn, masquerading as Julie’s dead mother (Gwynne Gilford), persuades her to steal the Key. Julie acquires it, and Evil-Lyn subsequently uses the Key’s powers to open another doorway through which Skeletor arrives on Earth.

He-Man manages to retrieve the Key back from Evil-Lyn, but Skeletor captures his friends – during the course of which Julie is fatally injured by Skeletor’s magic and the second Key is damaged – and threatens to kill them all unless He-Man surrenders unconditionally. He-Man gives in and returns to Eternia as Skeletor’s prisoner. Gwildor tries to repair the Key, but the Key’s memory storage containing a special sequences of tones needed to return to Eternia was erased. Kevin, however, remembers them, and uses a modern-day keyboard to recreate the tones and open a portal. Just as the opening of the portal is underway, Lubic blunders his way into the group and is taken along as well.

On Eternia, Skeletor tortures He-Man in order to break his spirit, but He-Man refuses. When the Great Eye opens, Skeletor absorbs the power absolute and transforms into an armored warrior god. He continues to try to force He-Man to swear allegiance to him, but is interrupted by the arrival of He-Man’s friends, Kevin and Lubic, who have just arrived through the portal that they’d managed to open. He-Man is freed, and along with his friends engages Skeletor’s forces in combat, during which he breaks Skeletor’s staff, causing him to lose his newfound powers. Skeletor continues to engage He-Man with his sword, but as a result, is vanquished by falling into a deep pit.

After He-Man’s victory, Julie is healed by the Sorceress, and along with Kevin, says good-journey before leaving through a doorway back to Earth. However Lubic, having gained the attention of a couple of Eternian ladies, decides to reside in Eternia, uttering “The only thing I will miss about Earth is the World Series”. When Julie awakens in her bed, she finds her parents downstairs, alive and well, about to take their fateful flight. Julie stops them from leaving and finds Kevin, who confirms their shared experiences were not a dream and holds out a souvenir from Eternia: a blue, marble-sized sphere showing the image of He-Man before Castle Grayskull.

After the end credits’ conclusion, Skeletor’s head pops out of the pink liquid at the bottom of the pit that he was thrown into, with the words “I’ll be back!” (This was intended as a teaser for the Masters of the Universe sequel that ultimately never came to fruition.)

REVIEW:

If you’re a fan of the cheesy 80’s action flicks and special effects, then you’re sure to love this film. That is until you realize that it is supposedly a He-Man movie.  What I mean by that is, well, the only thing remotely He-Man about this picture are the names of a few places and characters. Everything else is just…well, it just isn’t right!

Let me start out with the good. The action scenes are great, but then again, it was the 80s, they knew how to actually film good action back then, not just type it into a computer.

The effects, as cheesy as they were, gave the film a sort of…I don’t know…life, if you will, of its own. Basically, I’m trying to say they didn’t hurt the film.

I have no problem with the cast. I think Dolph Lundgren made a great He-Man, but was hindered by the script and story.

Frank Langella wasn’t the greatest Skeletor, but I think he was trying to make the character his own and not a recreation of Alan Oppenheimer’s version from the cartoon.

Evil-Lyn, Man-at-Arms, the Sorceress, and Teela all rond out the good parts of the cast. I wish they would have been used more, especially Man-at-Arms.

Now, we get to the bad. Where should I begin? Ah…let’s start with this story, shall we?

WTF?!? It starts out as a good enough plot for a live-action movie, bt goes downhill from there. I don’t know, there was just something about using random tones to open a portal to various dimensions that seemed cheesy enough for the cartoon, but the way this thing was written just came off as cheesy.

For me, I would have preferred they just stayed on Eternia and given us some good ol’ He-Man action. It wold have worked so much better than this overly complicated attempt at a story they threw together.

The costumes are atrocious. Now, I realize that sometimes costume designers want to create their own looks for film versions, as opposed to the way we are used to seeing them in the comics. For example, in the comics, Batman is gray with a blue cape and cowl, but in every film version (excluding the 60s one), he is in all black.

This is why I can give the costume designers credit for trying, but they really should have just left well enough alone. The main atrocities were the Sorceress and Skeletor.

The Sorceress looked like a reject from one of those Jim Henson fantasy flicks from this era. She should have been in feathers, not crystals. The look just didn’t work.

As far as Skeletor goes…well, his costume wasn’t bad, but it was more than obvious he was wearing a mask. Would it really have been that hard to come up with some kind of make up, at least. They made the guy look like a cheap B-movie reject villain!

Beast Man is a major character in the cartoon, yet in this film he is reduced to nothing more than a mindless henchman. WTF?!? On top of that, I don’t believe he spoke, and if he did it was only like one or two lines (or grunts).

The humans that were brought in were totally useless. First, there is Lupic, the cop. Heaven forbid, beings from another dimension go somewhere without running into a cop who thinks they’re out to do nothing but wrong.

Don’t even get me started on Julie and Kevin. The only good thing about these two is that this was one of Courtney Cox’s early film roles. They all had to start somewhere, right?

The humans were so annoying and just got in the way of everything. For goodness sakes, Julie gave the key to Evil-Lyn!

Now, I may be a little biased since I grew up watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe every afternoon afterschool. I remember this film being bad when it first came out, but its even worse now. However, I appreciate its attempt to bring He-Man to the big screen, as well as the 80s action, but that’s it.

There aren’t very many redeeming qualities about this picture and it is very hard for me to recommend it. I do know that this was not the original intended screenplay. That one was closer to the original, and should have made it to the screen. Don’t ask me why it didn’t.

Rumors have been swirling about He-Man coming to the big screen, following the success of Transformers, his fellow 80s icons. I am sort of excited about this, but hesitant at the same time. If they can do He-Man justice and make people totally forget about this steaming pile of dung, then I’ll be all for it, otherwise, just leave well enough alone.

Yes, I have been hard on this film, but that’s because it is an insult to all that is great about He-Man. Like I said, other than the names and few places, you wouldn’t be able to tell this is a He-Man movie if you didn’t already know. Do I recommend this? *SIGH* Well, if you’re an action junkie, then you’ll be entertained. Same goes for those that are into the cheesy effects. However, if you’re a die-hard He-Man fan, like myself, then avoid this film like it was the black plague!

2 out of 5 stars

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , on September 25, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the early 1970s, Henry DeTamble is in a car accident with his mother that results in her death. Henry survives by inadvertently time traveling back two weeks earlier at the scene. Moments later, Henry is helped by an older version of himself who has traveled back. Unable to control the timing or destinations of his traveling, Henry finds himself drawn to significant people, places, and events in his life but is incapable of changing events beyond the minor differences his presence creates.

In 1995, Henry meets Clare who is overjoyed to see him although he is meeting her for the first time. Clare explains that she has known Henry for most of her life and that he is her best friend. They begin a relationship, which is challenged by Henry’s disorder. His sporadic time traveling is further complicated by the fact that he is completely naked when he arrives at his destination, and from a young age he has learned how to pick locks and steal to acquire clothes and survive his travels. Among his getaways are many visits to young Clare; from present-day Clare’s diary he gets a list of dates when he visited her, and gives those to young Clare so that she can be waiting for him with clothes. In 2003, Henry and Clare marry, though he actually time travels away before the ceremony, and an older version of himself arrives in time to step in.

Henry’s disappearances take their toll on his relationship with Clare. His disorder allows him to win the lottery by having the numbers in advance, but also makes having a child with Clare seemingly impossible, as Henry’s genes cause their unborn fetuses to time travel. After numerous such miscarriages, Henry has a secret vasectomy to end their suffering. Clare soon gets pregnant one last time — by a visiting younger version of Henry — and is able to carry the baby full term. Henry travels forward in time before the child is born, and meets their daughter Alba as a preteen; she tells him that she is a time traveler too, but has increasing control over when and where she travels. She also tells Henry that he will die when she is five, a fact that Henry keeps from Clare upon his return to the present. Young Alba is visited sporadically by her preteen self, who ultimately tries to prepare the younger girl for Henry’s death. A devastated Clare soon finds out what is to come. Later, Henry time travels and is shot by Clare’s father as he hunts; he returns in time to die in Clare’s arms. A younger Henry later visits Alba and Clare, giving Clare hope that he will visit again, but he tells her not to spend her life waiting for him

REVIEW:

Ok, I have one question before I begin this review. Why is it that no one can travel through time with their clothes on? Well, I shouldn’t say no one, but it seems to be more and more are making the leaps nude (remember The Terminator, anyone). Of course, if the one in question was Rachel McAdams, I highly doubt I’d be questioning the lack of clothing.

So, apparently this film was optioned to be made before the novel was even finished. Talk about ambitious, huh? Anyway, The Time Traveler’s Wife deals with the random time skipping of a mild-mannered Chicago librarian who randomly jumps through time to various points in his lifetime (sort of put me in the mind of Quantum Leap when he mentioned the lifetime part).

The odd part is that he made the really random jump to some odd field where this little girl was playing and, kept returning there and in the present time marries her.

I can’t comment too much on the story, as I haven’t read the book, but one thing that I can say is that it actually is pretty good. However, it would have been nice to know why it is he jumps around and can only stay for a limited time, not to mention why he can’t control his jumps, yet his daughter can. Again, these could be explained in the book, so I’ll hold my tongue a bit…for now.

While this is a heavy drama, the sci-fi element are what piqued my interest. It is quite obvious they played down the sci-fi to appease the women, who would be drawn in with the sappy drama. That’s ok, though. Not every film can be for guys. I just wished they would have done something more to appease the male viewers.

Eric Bana is what you’ve come to expect from him in these kind of role…a bit aloof, yet attractive to women. His take on this character and the various ages and stages are quite remarkable, though.

Rachel McAdams is as gorgeous as ever. She plays the devoted titular character. She really brings to life the pain her character had to feel with a husband that can just randomly disappear at any minute and not knowing when he’ll be back, as well the other frustrations that came with being married to a time traveler.

To keep this film from getting to serious, Ron Livingston was thrown in as a bit of comic relief. I say a bit, because that’s what it was. His character was there to do nothing more than lighten the mood and give Henry a best friend. Having said that, he doesn’t do a bad job with what he has to do.

The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of those films that is good, bt not very interesting. At least that’s how I see it. I mean, I found this to be very well-made, albeit a bit overdramatic (even for a drama), but just couldn’t get fully invested in the story. I don’t really have any intentions of watching this film again, bt that’s my personal preference. Would I recommend this to anyone? Oh yes, definitely. It isn’t quite a must-see, but it is worth the time. I warn those of you that are prone to fits of crying, have your box of tissues handy near the end.

4 out of 5 stars

Killers

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

PLOT:

After a break-up with a spontaneous boyfriend, an overly cautious Jennifer “Jen” Kornfeldt (Katherine Heigl) travels to Nice with her parents (Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara). While going into an elevator to go to her hotel room, she meets Spencer Aimes (Ashton Kutcher). Spencer asks her to dinner and she accepts. The scene then changes to Spencer sneaking onto a boat, putting a time bomb on the bottom of a heliciopter, then taking out a guard. He then swims back and goes on the date with Jen.

After a night of drinking, Jen reveals that she’s not the spontaneous person she’s been pretending to be and in return Spencer bluntly tells her that he’s a contract killer, albeit unhappy about being one. Unfortunately she’s already passed out and hasn’t heard. In spite of this, Spencer decides that Jen’s the woman he’s been looking for and decides to marry her. When Spencer tells his boss, Holbrook (Martin Mull), his plan, the response is the obvious: “You don’t just quit being a contract killer.” Spencer is defiant and goes ahead with his plan.

Three years later, they are settled into their new normal life. After Spencer surprises Jen with a remodeled office, she gives him a birthday surprise: tickets to Nice to celebrate his birthday and their three years. Because of the hit man connections to Nice, Spencer is less than enthusiastic. When her friends ask about his reaction, they take it as signs of that he might be getting bored and fill her head with doubts.

Meanwhile, Spencer gets a postcard from his old boss and the ultimatum to take another job. While trying to refuse him long distance, Jen’s father shows up to take Spencer to dinner, so Spencer hangs up the phone, prompting a suspicion in Mr. Kornfeldt. This is fueled further when Jen’s dad sees the postcard and quizzes him about the XOXX (hugs and kisses), being odd coming from a former boss. Stopping home to change, Spencer finds that the dinner invitation is just a detour to bring him to a surprise party. While Spencer navigates drunken friends, Jen’s friends continue to fill her head with doubts over Spencer’s lack of enthusiasm for the Nice trip. This is further irritated, when the following morning, despite her attempts to be physical with him, Spencer rushes Jen off on her business trip.

A little while later, Jen comes back (without having gone on her trip) to find Spencer being tossed around their house by Henry (Rob Riggle), Spencer’s friend and co-worker. Spencer screams for her to get his gun (of which she was unaware) and she shoots the attacker in the arm. While interrogating the attacker, he reveals that there is a $20 million bounty on Spencer’s head. An unidentified sniper takes pot shots at them, and Spencer and Jen flee. After escaping, they go to a hotel room where Spencer’s old boss is staying, but find that someone has already killed him. Jen demands that they go to her dad for help, but Spencer disagrees. In the middle of their argument Jen vomits, and declares that she might be pregnant.

Heading back to his office for Jen to take a pregnancy test, Spencer is attacked by his secretary (Katheryn Winnick) and realizes that there are others who know about the contract. Jen then reveals that she is pregnant and is leaving Spencer. Left alone, Spencer is attacked by the UDE driver, who is killed by Olivia (Lisa Ann Walter), Henry’s wife and another assassin vying for the contract. She then attacks Spencer and is killed by Jen, who came to rescue him. The two discuss their possible future and return to their neighborhood, which is holding its annual block party. When they first arrive they are attacked by two assassins. They escape and head to the block party. As they walk through the block party they receive many suspicious looks from neighbors. They enter their house to retrieve guns and their passports. Spencer is grabbing the guns when he is attacked by two assassins who he eventually kills.

Meanwhile, one assassin, Kristen (Casey Wilson), one of Jen’s best friends, holds Jen’s mother as a hostage in a Mexican standoff with Jen. Jen’s father arrives and kills Kristen. He then explains that he was the one who put out the bounty on Spencer. He knew of Spencer’s previous work, and hired the neighbors and co-workers three years before in case Spencer started working for the his old boss again, who Jen’s father says had “gone dirty.” After seeing the postcard from Holbrook in Spencer’s office, he came to the conclusion that Spencer had re-accepted his old job and activated the assassins. He reveals that he had been a contract killer as well, and that he was actually the target Spencer was supposed to kill in Nice three years earlier.

Wanting to prove that he really did get out of the business and had no desire to kill her father, Spencer drops his gun. Jen, now convinced, turns on her father and reveals her pregnancy. Realizing that he will be a grandfather, Jen’s father also puts down his gun and the family makes peace. The movie ends showing Spencer and Jen’s father working on some wires near Spencer and Jen’s baby’s crib. Spencer and Jen then leave to let Jen’s mom and dad babysit. They all leave the room and when they close the doors lasers turn on to protect the baby

REVIEW:

With a title like Killers, you’d expect this to be some sort of horror flick, or at the very least some kind of war picture. If you thought either of those things, you’d be way off. This is an action comedy about a contract killer who gives up the life when he meets the love of his life.

It seems anytime you put a man and a woman together in a comedy these days, it is automatically slapped with that romantic comedy label. Make no mistake, this is not one of those sappy things. However, there is a scene or two with an overemotional Katherine Heigl, and of course, the whole montage of the two falling in love. Other than that, nothing scream romantic comedy about this flick to me.

So, if this isn’t a romantic comedy, what it is? Well, it is loaded with action. Now, this isn’t on the level of anything with Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, or any other action star, but for its purposes, it is really good.

The director obviously knows that the stars of this film weren’t exactly meant for this kind of work, and took advantage of that with the story. You’ll have to see it to know what I’m talking about, bt let’s just say that there is an interesting plot point/twist near the film’s end involving just about the entire cast.

Speaking of said cast, they don’t do half bad. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think of Ashton Kutcher as a cold-blooded killer. Honestly, I don’t think of as anything more than that stoner from That 70’s Show who just happened to get lucky enough to marry Demi Moore. Having said that, he does a really good job here of not being too over the top with his character and making the audience believe he could do all these things.

Katherine Heigl is drop dead gorgeous, of that there is no question, but as in most of her other roles, she gets a tad overemotional…ok…VERY overmeotional and borderline annoying. Hotness can only go so far. If not for the typical female freakout that happens in every film of this kind, this wouldn’t have been too bad for her.

Tom Selleck (and his moustache) play a very important role near the film’s end, and not just as Heigl’s dad. I won’t give it away, but I will say that it is obvious he still has some of that Magnum. P.I. training.

Many people have chimed in that this film didn’t work and that the story sucked. I’m not going to be one of those people. For me, it worked just fine. The mixture of action and comedy, with a pinch of romance really sold this picture for me. Granted, this wasn’t perfect, nor was it anything more than a film to watch for a good time. I recommend this to anyone who just wants to escape for a bit. You’ll be thoroughly pleased.

4 out of 5 stars

Bitten

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Horror, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on September 22, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jack, a paramedic, is frustrated with his life after he breaks up with his girlfriend. He discovers a girl (Danika) in an alley way covered in blood, clinging to life. Jack takes Danika in and soon discovers that she is a vampire.

Jack and Danika try to find a way to feed her cravings to drink blood while killing as little as possible. All their attempts end without success because a vampire needs fresh human blood. Jack also must find places to hide the bodies in his apartment, including the body of his ex-girlfriend, who had gone to his apartment to reclaim several of her possessions before Danika had bitten and killed her. Jack discovers upon his ex-girlfriend’s corpse reanimating into a vampire (and having to kill her when she attacks him in a rage) that only a stab to the heart will kill a vampire.

When Danika becomes more violent, killing several people, including a young woman, Jack is forced to kill her with the help of his paramedic co-worker and friend, who stabs Danika in the heart while she attacks Jack, and succeeds in killing her, but not before Jack is bitten, leaving Jack’s fate to be unknown during the final credits and an out-take sequence. However, we then see that Jack has become a vampire, apparently cared for by his co-paramedic, who is feeding him from a dish of blood.

REVIEW:

As a huge fan of the Jay & Silent Bob movies, I always loved how over the top Jason Mewes was as Jay, so when I saw that he was in this film, Bitten, I figured it couldn’t hurt to see what he could do when he wasn’t Jay.

Let me start this off by saying that the only reason I even know about this flick is that is had a hot vampire chick on the cover of the DVD when I saw it in Wal-Mart a few weekends ago. Sad part is, that may very well be one of the more redeeming qualities of this picture.

When it comes to vampire movies these days, it seems as if they are all overly dramatic, emo, whiny pussies who don’t want to do anything but sit around in the body glitter, eating bon bons and talking about their feelings. I’m sorry, but I can’t picture Dracula doing that. Can you?

This why I’m glad our vampire, Denicka, only mentions her feelings and whatnot in the manner any female would. Of course, anyone tha hot can talk about what she wants and I won’t complain.

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what the plot is here, other than Jason Mewes finds a vampire in the trash outside his apartment, takes her in, cleans her up, and then somehow has to find ways to feed her, all th while he is suffering from lack of sleep, about to lose his job and best friend, and can’t handle the moral dilemma that comes from having a vampire kill in your house.

Confused? Yeah, that’s what I was while watching this thing. I mean, this random, hot chick is thrown in the trash in front of an apartment building? WTF?!? Common sense would tell you to throw her in the river or the dump or something. On top of that, where is the vampire than turned her? Are there other vampires running around? Why can’t she remember anything and what happened to her family?

When you watch this film, these are the questions you’ll be asking, unfortunately, none of them will be answered.

The acting is about as pedestrian as you can get. Jason Mewes may be great as Jay, but can’t really do much else. He better talk to Kevin Smith about a new Jay and Silent Bob movie so he can actually make a living as an actor, because otherwise he has no talent.

Erica Cox, who plays Denika, may be hot as hell, but as a vampire, she is worse than Bill’s “daughter” on True Blood. Can it really be that hard to play a convincing vampire, especially one that actually has human emotions? 

This thing doesn’t totally suck (pardon the pun). There are some comedic moments, such as Jack’s partner’s obsession with all things dealing with ass, such as his own irritable bowel syndrome and giving women the shocker.

There is also montage where Jack wraps the dead bodies in bubble wrap while a Barney song is playing. Belive me, the song mixed with that makes it hilarious.

The best part of this film, though, had to be the 3 way scene halfway through the picture, or maybe anytime Denika walks around topless, for that matter. Other than that, this really wasn’t worth the 90 minutes I wasted watching it. I can’ recommend this to anyone, unless you just want to see any and everything dealing with vampires. Otherwise, stay away…FAR away.

2 out of 5 stars

Doctor Strange

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Dr. Stephen Strange is one of the most gifted surgeons in medicine, however, he is also highly arrogant and dismissive of his colleagues. While driving home from the hospital one night, he notices Baron Mordo and his allies slaying a monster – notable because they are hidden from view by one of Wong’s spells. An unbelieving Strange dismisses it as stress-related hallucination. The next day, he is visited by the hospital’s administrator Oliver who states that Dr. Gina Atwater has problems with him. He then speaks with Dr. Atwater and discusses her case of a child — one of many — who is suffering from dangerous nightmares. Seeing the children causes Stephen to flashback to when his sister April had a headache similar to the ones the children have been having. The conversation also reveals that the two doctors have had a romantic relationship in the past. When touching one child, he sees an image of a demonic skull-face laughing while engulfed in flames and promptly leaves, telling Gina that there is nothing he can do for the children.

While driving home, Stephen again sees the vision of flames with a burning face in them and swerves his car to avoid ghostly children in the road, careening off the cliffside. As a result of the crash, his hands are left shattered and useless. Spending all of his fortune and life savings in pursuit of a way to fix his fractured hands, the dejected doctor believes all is lost until his suicide attempt is thwarted by Wong who recommends the Ancient One to offer him hope and healing in Tibet.

After begging Gina to help him get to Tibet and then undertaking a grueling hike up into the Himalayas, Stephen begins his training at a hidden monastery under the tutelage of the Ancient One — a dimunitive old man. Soon after Strange arrives, the other students leave to combat a pack of wolf-like creatures in Central Park. Not long after, the Ancient One is told by Wong and Baron Mordo that some of the students died during the conflict. The conversation indicates that the number of assaults by mystical creatures has been growing recently. After several days of scrubbing floors and performing manual labor, Stephen is considering giving up and departs the monastery. As he walks through the snow, however, he flashbacks to a previous failure — becoming his sister’s doctor and attempting to remove the brain tumor causing her headaches (in reality, doctors are not permitted to treat family members, as they are too emotionally attached). During the procedure, April died and Strange has always blamed himself. The Ancient One appears in Stephen’s mind and convinces him to let go of this past guilt and return to his training.

The next day the Ancient One detects two Chinous (reptilian monsters the size of a small house) approaching the Sanctuary and orders Baron Mordo to kill them one at a time. However, the arrogant Mordo disobeys and leads two separate teams to take them on. As a result, several of the weaker students are killed before the beasts are defeated. Later, as the Ancient One mourns the loss of his disciples he scolds Baron Mordo for his disobedience and tells him that he will never inherit the title of Sorceror Supreme from the old master, but instead must train Doctor Strange — the true heir to the position. An angered Mordo later spars with Stephen, escalating the mock-fight into a deadly contest of skills. During the fight Stephen instinctually absorbs Mordo’s spell and deflects the energy back towards him. An enraged Mordo lunges to kill him, but Wong intervenes and tells Stephen that he will be taking over the training. A dejected Mordo leaves, now with true hatred in his eyes for Strange.

Later Stephen follows the Ancient One, Wong, Baron Mordo, and the few other remaining students to the Sanctum Sanctorum – a nexus between realities and dimensions that appears from the outside as a townhouse in New York City. The Ancient One then tells them about Dormammu, an ancient being that wishes to rule all worlds — especially Earth. Thousands of years ago after his previous bid at conquest, the Ancient One trapped him in a dimension of limbo. Upon seeing the visage of Dormammu, Stephen recognizes it as the burning face and realizes that the demon is using children’s dreams to enter Earth. Doctor Strange returns to the hospital and puts Gina to sleep. He then searches her computer to find out how widespread the children’s comas are and to attempt to wake them. He awakens patient after patient to prevent Dormammu from entering Earth. Mordo also enters a child’s dream and makes a deal with Dormammu, pledging to serve him in exchange for dominion as the Sorcerer Supreme. Dormammu takes over the minds of the remaining children as Mordo attacks Doctor Strange in the physical realm. Wong appears, however, and manages to save him.

As this is going on at the hospital, the Ancient One and his three remaining students attempt to ward off a swarm of Wing Marks — vicious flying mouths capable of stripping a person to the bone in seconds. All of the followers are killed and the Ancient One is left greatly weakened due to both exertion and age. The traitorous Mordo then arrives to attack the Ancient One. Doctor Strange and Wong arrive at the Sanctum to find the Ancient One dead. Wong gives Doctor Strange the Eye of Agamotto — a powerful symbol of the office of Sorcerer Supreme — and states that it is Doctor Strange’s destiny. Strange and Wong then confront Baron Mordo. As Wong fights Mordo, he is wounded in battle, but Mordo is repelled by Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange then fights him as Dormammu begins his emergence.

Dormammu immediately devours Mordo and steals the Eye of Agamotto as he makes his way to the Sanctum Sanctorum. Doctor Strange confronts Dormammu who begins to overwhelm the new sorcerer as he unleashes his monsters around the world. The wounded Wong, watching from nearby, reminds Stephen of his experience sparing with Mordo and the Doctor then absorbs the pure magic the demon is blasting him with. Since the demon himself is made of pure magic, he soon vanishes into nothing after pouring his power into Strange. An astonished Wong states that he didn’t expect the Doctor to actually absorb Dormammu but it will work.

Later, as they return to the Sanctum, Wong tells Doctor Strange that Stephen’s primary purpose as the Sorcerer Supreme is to protect the realm of Earth from mystical attacks such as the one they just experienced. Stephen later appears in Gina’s dream, surprising her with his humbling change in attitude and reassures her that all will be well with the children. Now dressed in the robes of his office, Doctor Strange visits his sister’s grave to say goodbye and is told by Wong that they have new potential students for Strange to train. One of those who shows real potential is a girl named “Clea” as they close the door while entering the Sanctum.

REVIEW:

The weirdest thing led to me choosing to watch this film this evening. Last week, I went to trivia night at Buffalo Wild Wings and one of the questions was about Dr. Strange, a character who I am not too familiar with. I guessed on the question and got it right, but it inspired to finally pull this thing up to the top of my Netflix list and check it out.

Up until now, the most I’ve known about Dr. Strange is what I’ve seen in his guest appearances in the Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and various other Marvel Saturday morning cartoons (remember when they actually had cartoons on Saturday morning?), as well as a bit of background from the comics, but not really enough to say I know anything about the character.

Having said that, though, I have to say that the first hour or so of this film where they seem to drag his origin out forever and a day is just too long. I realize that Dr. Strange isn’t the most well-known comic character and that his origin has to be told, but it could have been done in a more concise matter, if you ask me.

The animation in this film is great, if you like this look. For me, I prefer the classic animation where people actually sit down and hand draw the characters and backgrounds, rather than this pseudo-anime, borderline CGI stuff. I know there are those of you out there who like this stuff, but it just isn’t my cup of tea.

The action scenes, which I feel should have been more numerous, are great. Maybe that was the filmmaker’s intention in having the audience wait through all that origin fluff to get to the real meat and potatoes of the film, the climactic confrontation with Dormammu, as well as the various other action sequences in the film.

Much of the character’s backstory’s are changed, which is something I do not care for, especially in something that is from the people who created the characters in the first place. If they can’t stick to the source material, then what hope is there that upstart filmmakers who license their properties will follow suit?

Marvel Animation seems to be going for the more serious tone with their releases, then again, Dr. Strange has always been one of the more serious characters. I’m not sure I cared for this film, but if you are not familiar with the character, or just want to check out a god comic book flick, then this would be a good choice, although there others I’d choose first. Dr. Strange isn’t the most entertaining flick, but you could do much worse. If you get the chance and have th desire, why not check it out?

3 out of 5 stars