Archive for November 7, 2010

Airplane II: The Sequel

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , on November 7, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Taking place in the near future, the moon has now been colonized and supports a station on its surface. A lunar shuttle known as Mayflower One is being rushed to launch from Houston. The head of the ground crew, The Sarge (Chuck Connors), does not like what is occurring, but he defers to the airline’s management. On-board is computer officer Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty), who was a flight attendant in the first movie. Elaine has long-since left Ted Striker (Robert Hays) and is now engaged to one of the flight crew, Simon Kurtz (Chad Everett). On the flight crew with Dickinson and Kurtz are Captain Clarence Oveur (Peter Graves), First Officer Dunn (James A. Watson, Jr.) and Navigator Dave Unger (Kent McCord).

Striker has been committed to an insane asylum, as he was declared mentally incompetent in a lawsuit brought after the lunar shuttle crashed during a test flight that Ted piloted. Striker believes that the lawsuit was used to silence him, because he knew there were problems with the lunar shuttle which made it unsafe. Now Striker is haunted by his actions in “The War”, specifically the events that took place over “Macho Grande”, where he lost his entire squadron. When Striker reads of the upcoming Lunar Shuttle launch, he escapes the asylum and buys a ticket for the flight.

During the flight, Mayflower One suffers a short circuit and the computer ROC develops a mind of its own, sending the ship toward the sun. Unger and Dunn try to deactivate the computer, but are blown out of an airlock. Oveur tries to stop ROC, but the computer gasses him. Kurtz abandons Elaine and leaves in the only escape pod. Once again Striker is called upon to save the day, but first he has to figure out how to make the computer relinquish control. Steven McCroskey (Lloyd Bridges), the air traffic controller, reveals that a passenger named Joe Seluchi (Sonny Bono) had boarded Mayflower One with a bomb in a briefcase, intending to commit suicide so that his wife can collect on insurance money. Striker manages to wrestle the bomb from him and uses it to blow up ROC and set course for the moon as originally intended.

On the way to the Moon, control of the flight is shifted to a lunar base, commanded by Cmdr. Buck Murdoch (William Shatner). He has a high level of contempt for Striker because of Macho Grande, but agrees to help anyway. They manage to land the craft on the moon. Ted and Elaine fall back in love and are married at the end.

After the wedding, Seluchi looks into the cockpit and asks for his briefcase back.

REVIEW:

 Often times, I have said that if something works, why not keep doing it? Well, that’s exactly what Airplane II: the Sequel does, as they take many of the jokes from Airplane! and use them again.

That being said, while it is obvious they recycled the material, it actally works. Sure, it isn’t as funny the second time around, especially if you just recently watched the first film, but funny is funny and these filmmakers know what works.

Speaking of stuff recycled from the first film, it seems the plot is almost taken, as well, just switched to a space shuttle instead of a crashing airplane filled with food poisoned passengers. This reminds me of the how Home Alone 2 is a direct ripoff of the first one, just in a different place and some slight new tweaks here and there. It doesn’t make the film any better or worse, though.

Look, there isn’t much to say about this film, to be honest. It’s a spoof that’s funny as hell, but is a slight regression from the first film, bt that’s ok. It is still leagues better than most of the crap that comes out today. Why not check it out sometime? You won’t be disappointed! (while you’re at it…look for a cameo from Pat Sajak)

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Mad Max

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on November 7, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens “A Few Years From Now…” in Australia, in a dystopian future where law and order has begun to break down at the end of the ‘Oil Age’. Berserk motorcycle gang member, Crawford “Nightrider” Montizano, has broken police custody and – with a punk woman by his side – is attempting to flee from the Main Force Patrol (MFP), the Federal highway police unit, in a stolen MFP Pursuit Special. Though he manages to elude his initial pursuers, the Nightrider then encounters the MFP’s “top pursuit man,” leather-clad Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson). Max, the more skilled driver, pursues the Nightrider in a high-speed nerve-racking chase which results in the death of the Nightrider and the woman in a fiery car crash.

Nightrider’s Armalite motorcycle gang – led by the barbaric “Toecutter” (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his lieutenant Bubba Zanetti (Geoff Parry) – is running roughshod over a country town, vandalizing property, stealing fuel and terrorising the local population. Max and his fellow officer Jim ‘The’ Goose (Steve Bisley) are able to arrest the Toecutter’s young protege, Johnny the Boy (Tim Burns), when Johnny lingers at the scene of one of the gang’s crimes, the rape of a young couple. However, when no witnesses show for his trial, the courts declare the case not able be prosecuted and Johnny is released. A shocked Goose attacks Johnny and must be physically restrained; both Goose and Johnny shout threats of revenge at each other. After Bubba drags Johnny away, MFP Captain Fifi Macaffee (Roger Ward) frees his officers to pursue the gangs as they want, “so long as the paperwork’s clean.”

Shortly thereafter, Johnny sabotages Goose’s MFP motorcycle; the motorcycle locks up at high speed the next day, throwing Goose from the bike. Goose is unharmed, though his bike is badly damaged; he borrows a ute to haul his bike back to civilization. However, Johnny and the Toecutter’s gang are waiting further up the highway in ambush. Johnny throws a brake drum at Goose’s windshield, causing him to run off the road; then – upon the Toecutter’s insistence, and perhaps as a gang initiation – Johnny is instructed to throw a match at Goose’s ute, which is leaking petrol from its ruptured fuel line. Johnny refuses, and the Toecutter starts to abuse him; in the ensuing argument, the lit match is thrown and lands in the wreckage of the ute, which erupts in flames.

The Goose is severely burned, and after seeing his charred body in the hospital’s burn ward, Max becomes angry and disillusioned with the police force. Worried of what may happen if he stays in the job, and fearing he may become as savage and brutal as the gang members, Max announces to Fifi that he is resigning from the MFP with no intention of returning. Fifi convinces him to take a holiday first before making his final decision about leaving.

While on holiday at the coast, Max’s wife, Jessie (Joanne Samuel), and their son run into Toecutter’s gang, who attempt to molest her. She flees, but the gang later manages to track them to the remote farm near the beach where she and Max are staying. While attempting to escape, Jessie and her son are run down and over by the gang; their crushed bodies are left in the middle of the road. Max arrives too late to intervene.

Filled with obsessive rage, Max dons his police leathers and takes a supercharged black Pursuit Special to pursue the gang. After torturing a mechanic for information on the gang, Max methodically hunts down and kills the gang members: several gang members are forced off a bridge at high speed; Max shoots and kills Bubba at point blank range with his shotgun; the Toecutter is forced into the path of a speeding semi-trailer truck and crushed. In the road battles, Max has his arm crushed when it is run over by Bubba Zanetti’s motorbike, and receives a gunshot wound to his knee, which he braces with a makeshift splint. Becoming even more relentless and ruthless, he searches for the final members of the gang. When Max finds Johnny taking the boots off a dead driver at the scene of a crash, he handcuffs Johnny’s ankle to the wrecked vehicle and sets a crude time-delay fuse. Throwing Johnny a hacksaw, Max leaves him the choice of sawing through either the hi-tensile steel of the handcuffs (which will take ten minutes) or his ankle (which will take five minutes). As Max drives away, the vehicle explodes; an emotionless Max drives on further into the Outback without turning back.

REVIEW:

 The world was introduced to Mel Gibson with this film. I had never seen this film before today, so seeing a young Mel kind of freaked me out, to be honest with you. That is not a knock against the man (Lord knows he has enough of those nowadays), but just a random statement.

The first I ever heard of Mad Max was when I was young and the third film happened to be on television. Soon enough, I’ll get to that one, but this review is all about the first one.

With a title like Mad Max, I expected a bit more of an unstable lead character, bt that could just be a sign of the times we live in as opposed to when this was released.

I also expected a bit more action. I know, it seems like I say that in every review nowadays, but it is true. If I want drama, I’ll watch a drama. Action flicks are for action with maybe a bit of story thrown in there.

Unfortunately, this film does the opposite and goes more the dram route with a little action thrown in there. For me, it doesn’t work, but I’m sure there are those that felt this is a perfect mix of both. I’m not one of them, however.

Let’s be honest, are you really watching this for the acting? No, because no one in here is known in the states other than Gibson, who went on to bigger and better things…and then went crazy.

However, if you must know about the acting, it is on par with most of the film of this era (late 70s). The actors are trying, but they just can’t seem to convince anyone that they are who they say they are. For instance, the guy playing the villain, Toecutter… he looks like a viking stuck in the dystopian Australian Outback, rather than a cold-blooded killer leading a motorcycle gang.

The plot of this story is a bit too cliché for my taste. Our hero has everything going right for him, then all of a sudden something happens and his family is killed which drives him to become a mercenary and get vengeance. I take that back, that isn’t cliché, that sounds a lot like the origin of the Punisher.

The bits of action we get here are pretty good, especially the scenes at the end and beginning, but for me they weren’t enough to salvage what should have been a kick ass film.

No, I didn’t hate this picture, but I do feel it gets more credit than it deserves. I don’t want to say that Mad Max is overrated, but it could be. It seems as if this film was only good for debuting Mel Gibson to the world, and given his current state of affairs, that may not have been such a good thing. Still, I would recommend this film. It wouldn’t hurt anyone to check it out. Who knows, you may actually enjoy yourself.

3 out of 5 stars

All the King’s Men

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on November 7, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Louisiana newspaper reporter Jack Burden takes a personal interest in Willie Stark, a small-town lawyer and idealist. Circumstances develop that result in Stark’s being urged to run for governor by a local political leader, Tiny Duffy. Jack has been raised around politics. He is the former lover of Anne Stanton, whose father was once governor. Jack was raised by Judge Irwin, his stepfather, an honorable man.

In time, Jack and political strategist Sadie Burke reveal to Stark that he is actually a dupe in the governor’s race, expected to split the vote, spout the party line and lose. This opens his eyes to the realities of politics and Willie vows not to be fooled again. He defies Duffy publicly and begins to give speeches with straightforward talk that the public appreciates. He becomes governor in the next election, using any means necessary. Duffy now works for him as lieutenant governor. He also has a silent, menacing driver and bodyguard called Sugar Boy. And he successfully encourages Jack to come work for him as an adviser.

Judge Irwin disapproves, seeing Stark as an evil opportunist. Anne Stanton seems to agree and so does her brother, Dr. Adam Stanton. Willie Stark is a persuasive man, though, and knows how to get his way. He has a pet project, building a new hospital, and convinces Dr. Stanton to run it for him. And he also begins an affair with Anne Stanton, to the jealousy of Sadie Burke and the disappointment of Jack.

Criticized publicly by Judge Irwin and embroiled in increasing political controversy, Stark demands that Jack dig up dirt on the Judge to be used against him. Jack insists that no such dirt exists, but he does manage to uncover the fact that many years ago, Judge Irwin accepted a bribe. To his horror, the Judge commits suicide. Stark is a ruthless tyrant, popular with the voters but a charlatan to those who really know him. Dr. Stanton discovers that even the hospital is a front for the governor’s own personal and political gain. He lies in wait at the steps of the state capitol, pulls a gun and assassinates Willie Stark.

REVIEW:

 As I sit here not far away from the Louisiana state capitol, I am pondering how All The King’s Men, a film very loosely based on the life of Huey P. Long, could have gone so wrong.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not wish to sit here and bash the life out o this picture, because it wasn’t as bad as the critics mad it out to be, but there was something about it that just didn’t connect with me.

It seemed to me as if they were trying to weave too many things together and just came up with a convoluted, tangled mess.

The story isn’t bad, per se, but it just is confusing. I found myself scratching my head on more than one occasion, wondering what in tarnation was going on, as I’m sure more than few people who have seen and will see this film have/will do the same.

As someone who lives in Louisiana, I am very aware of the various accents down here, and no one that I know of talks like these people, Sean Penn especially. I don’t know where he did his research, but no one talks like that. The folks on True Blood have it closer, but even they are way off. Strangely enough, though, it was the British cast members that were closer than the American ones with their accents. If you want almost spot on Louisiana accents on film, check out Steel Magnolias.

On the flip side of things, I have to commend this film for actually filming in Louisiana, especially the rural parts. Often times, films of this nature will go film in someplace like the Hamptons and say its Baton Rouge.

One would think that with an all-star cast like this, that the acting would not be a problem, right? Well, you’d be wrong.

I already mentioned the accent problems, but that was just the start of a snowball effect. Sena Penn did nothing bt overact his way through this and seemed like he was trying to Robert DeNiro at times.

Kate Winslet and Anthony Hopkins seemed as if they were just collecting a paycheck, while both James Gandolfini and Jude Law appeared to be out of their element.

Poor Mark Ruffalo suffered from bad character development, and when he finally got the chance to do something interesting it was in the last scene.

So, what is my final opinion of All the King’s Men? Well, it was huge disappointment for me, but keep in mind, that I live in Louisiana and know the even on which this film is based and what people actually talk like down here, so there is a bit of a bias. For you non-Louisiana people, I suggest you not waste your time with this. I mean, you could see worse films, but this one just fails to deliver, especially with all the talent of the cast. For me, this was nothing more than an average flick.

3 out of 5 stars