Archive for December, 2010

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , on December 31, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The Japan Self Defense Forces lift the remains of Mecha-King Ghidorah from the ocean. Using the armor and robotic technology that the Futurians gave them, they create Mechagodzilla, a super weapon that they hope will finally kill Godzilla.

On a mission to an island in the Pacific, a Japanese team comes across a dinosaur egg. They take the egg and attract Godzilla and Rodan after stopping the fight that they are engaged in. The egg is taken back to Japan where it hatches into BabyGodzilla. Godzilla appears in Kyoto to rescue the infant Godzillasaur, but Mechagodzilla battles Godzilla, defeating him. However, Godzilla uses his nuclear pulse, shutting down Mechagodzilla. Godzilla shoves Mechagodzilla and continues searching for BabyGodzilla, though he is hidden by G-Force scientists in a room that blocks off his psychic mind waves. Godzilla gives up and returns to his ocean home, but not before destroying the island.

Tests on BabyGodzilla reveal that he has a second brain in his hips that control his legs and tail. The JSDF assume that the same goes for Godzilla, since Godzilla and BabyGodzilla are both Godzillasaurs. They decide to use BabyGodzilla to bait Godzilla to them and use the G-Crusher, a system designed to destroy Godzilla’s second brain, on the mutant dinosaur. Instead Rodan, now transformed into Fire Rodan, is attracted to the bait as well and fights the JSDF attack aircraft Garuda and defeats it. He turns his attention to Mechagodzilla and attacks, losing horribly, being no match to the super weapon though he does disable Mechagodzilla’s right eye laser cannon. Godzilla then shows up and starts to battle Mechagodzilla. Mechagodzilla combines with Garuda and turns into Super Mechagodzilla and uses the G-Crusher on Godzilla. Godzilla is killed, but is revived when Fire Rodan sacrifices himself and transfers his remaining life energy to Godzilla. Godzilla is enraged by Rodan’s death and uses his newly acquired spiral atomic ray to destroy Super Mechagodzilla as revenge.

Godzilla then adopts BabyGodzilla as his son and they both swim off into the ocean to find a new home.

REVIEW:

 Just to be clear, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II is not really a sequel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Mechagodzilla is mentioned, but for the most part, this film seems to separate itself from the earlier film. I think the fact that this was made in the early 90s, when there was renewed interest in making Godzilla films, may have had something to do with that, though.

When to comes down to it, let’s face the facts, Godzilla flicks aren’t know for being the greatest in terms of storytelling. 99.9% of people who go to see a Godzilla picture, go to see the giant lizard, and could care less about the humans, not to mention what passes fr story.

Unfortunately, filmmakers seem to think that we actually care about the people in these flicks. How delusional can they get?

Different from other Godzilla films, this one doesn’t quite make the big, green lizard seems so much like a bad costume. He, along with the baby, looks like bad rubber balloon versions.

The special effects are what you would expect from this franchise. This is a bit of a letdown, though, when you consider that the first film came out back in the 60s and this was released in 1993. There should be some obvious upgrades there, but that isn’t the case.

For those of us out there that are fans of Godzilla, this is more of a smack in the face, as are all the Godzilla films that were released in the 90s. For the rest of you, this is not the Godzilla film to see. Go check out the REAL films that were released in the 60s and 70s. Those are the ones that showcase Godzilla.

2 out of 5 stars

The Bank Job

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , on December 29, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Petty-criminal-gone-straight Terry Leather (Jason Statham) owns a failing car-sales garage and is being harassed by two debt-collectors. His friend, the photographer Kevin Swain’s (Stephen Campbell Moore) ex-girlfriend, a former model named Martine Love (Saffron Burrows) offers Terry a chance to earn enough money to never worry about debt again: a bank robbery in Baker Street, London. Leather gathers his petty-criminal friends, including Swain, a pornographic actor Dave Shilling (Daniel Mays), a mechanic named Bambos (Alki David), and an elegant con-man “Major” Guy Singer (James Faulkner). While scouting out the bank, Leather and Love enter and inspect the vault while Shilling poses for photographs by Swain. The gangster Lew Vogel (David Suchet), who keeps records of his pay-offs to police at Lloyd’s bank, happens upon Shilling and Swain.

They lease a shop named Le Sac two lots away from the bank and dig a tunnel under The Chicken Inn fast-food restaurant to reach the underground bank vault. Terry employs Eddie Burton (Michael Jibson), one of his garage workers, as a “watchman” with a walkie-talkie to sit on a roof to keep look-out. Martine, once caught smuggling heroin into Britain and wanting to avoid jail, set them up for this job on behalf of MI5, which desires the contents of a certain safe deposit box, No. 118. This box contains sensual and compromising photos of a member of the British Royal Family (in the film, Princess Margaret). The photos and box belong to a black militant gangster who calls himself Michael X (Peter de Jersey); he uses the photos to avoid trouble with the Metropolitan Police, and MI5 is charged with keeping the photos out of circulation.

As Terry’s crew digs, the radio chatter draws the attention of a local amateur radio operator, who overhears the conversation and realizes a robbery is in progress. He calls the police, who begin to search their ten-mile radius and listen for concrete details to pin the robbery down. Terry’s crew breaks through and loot the vault, as Martine goes for the photo deposit-box. A suspicious Terry opens it with her and, upon seeing the pictures, realizes Martine’s hidden agenda. Among the photos are many of high-ranking government officials, including a senior MP, in compromising positions in a local S&M brothel. The robbers take these with money and other valuables. Terry arranges for alternate transportation “to be safe”, throwing off MI5 who had intended to intercept them. Guy and Bambas escape with their share and Terry confronts Martine over the photos, who explains the unfolding predicament. The robbery discovered, the police — corrupt ones receiving payoffs and honest ones — began an investigation while MI5 continues their search. Also joining the search for Terry’s crew is Lew Vogel, an organized crime figure worried about the contents of his ledger, which lists payoffs he made to police, which was stolen in the robbery. He informs Michael X that the royal ‘portraits’ had gone missing and Michael X becomes suspicious of Gale Benson (Hattie Morahan), a British spy who loves his American colleague Black Power militant, Hakim Jamal (Colin Salmon), and has traveled with him and Jamal to Trinidad.

Remembering the encounter with Shilling outside of the bank before the robbery, Vogel has him tortured for information with a sandblaster. Shilling breaks and Vogel goes to Terry’s garage and kidnaps Eddie, the lookout. Meanwhile, a senior minister in the government, Lord Drysdale, is shown photos of himself in the brothel run by Sonia Bern (Sharon Maughan) and agrees to help absolve the robbers and secure them safe passage. Meanwhile, MI5 issues a D-Notice forbidding press reports. Police simultaneously release recordings of the walkie-talkie conversations in the hope that someone will recognize the voices. These recordings are heard on the radio by Terry’s family. Vogel’s accomplice, corrupt Detective Gerald Pyke (Don Gallagher), shoots Dave and threatens to shoot Eddie unless Vogel gets his ledger back. Vogel agrees with Terry to meet him at Paddington Station in London. During this time, Guy and Bambas are murdered by persons unknown, and Michael X has Benson killed in Trinidad by an associates. Terry has Kev give the same instruction to Detective Sergeant Roy Given (Gerard Horan), the officer in charge of the investigation, citing knowledge of corrupt officers under Vogel’s control. He convinces Vogel to go to Paddington Station at the same time, offering him the ledger in return for Eddie’s safe return.

Terry heads to the rendezvous while Martine meets up with Tim Everett (Richard Lintern), her original contact in MI5, on a bridge overlooking the scene. Vogel and his corrupt police arrive with the mechanic, but recognize the MI5 agents and run. The deputy head of MI5 (with Lord Mountbatten) hands over the passports Terry bargained for, in return for the photos of the princess. Terry then chases Vogel and in a fight knocks out Vogel and his thugs, including corrupt Detective Nick Barton (Craig Fairbrass). Detective Given, officer in charge of the investigation, arrives to see the robbers arrested. He speaks with the MI5 officers present, who direct police to let the robbers go. Terry gives the ledger to the police officer before he, Kevin, and Eddie leave the scene. Vogel and the corrupt officers are arrested instead. Everett personally supervises Michael X’s arrest in Trinidad and Tobago and has Benson’s remains exhumed for reburial in Britain. The final scenes have Terry and Martine saying good-bye, and Terry and his family enjoying a relaxed and carefree life on a small motor yacht of their own, off a sunny beach.

The epilogue states that the revelations about the brothel forced many government officials to resign. Scotland Yard begins investigating the corrupt officers named in the ledger. Michael X was hanged in 1975 for Benson’s murder and his personal files are kept hidden in the British National Archives until 2054. Vogel is imprisoned for eight years for crimes that were unrelated to the robbery. The murderers of Guy and Bambas have never been found. About ₤4 million worth of materials and money were stolen from the robbery. At least 100 safety-deposit box owners did not claim insurance nor identify the items in the boxes.

REVIEW:

 Action, drama, murder, a bank heist, deceit, and a bit of comedy are what you are in for when watching The Bank Job. I did not know until the film’s conclusion that it was a true story, but that turns out to be the case. Quite intriguing if you ask me, especially considering what happens to these people.

So, we start off the film with a lengthy introduction to our major characters. For some people this works, but for me, I don’t have the patience or attention span for such things. I just want the film to get going and get to the meat and potatoes. Introduce the characters and let’s move this thing along.

The way this film is made is pretty good, but then as the ending nears, it starts to get confusing with all the shoved in stuff with all the characters. Maybe its just me, but I just think they could have found a better way to do that. Hell, cut some of the character intros out and use that time to flesh out the ending more.

The chemistry with all the bank gang is pretty awesome. That is where the comedy comes in, especially since they came off as Keystone coppers at times, but it works. In a film that has such a serious tone, these bits of lighthearted camaraderie really made a difference.

There are about 3 or 4 different character stories going on here that all come together after the bank job. While that sounds like it could be a bit much, you can see how they all fit.

Jason Statham shows he can actually do some real acting here. Something I haven’t seen from him since some of his earlier films like Chaos and Snatch. He actually does a pretty good job, but I was hoping to get more action. Sadly, that doesn’t happen until the end, and even then, it was barely worth the wait.

Saffron Burrows, as beautiful as she is, comes off as nothing more than a girl who got away, who happens to be hot, so they’ll do what she wants. The way her character is written, the audience wants to feel something for her, but it just doesn’t happen.

The character of Michael X is actually quite interesting, though I didn’t quite understand the similarities to Malcolm X. That may be because of my lack of knowledge of Malcolm, but I just didn’t get it.

So, The Bank Job is pretty good. It is a surprise that a true story like this doesn’t come off as some kind of dull drivel. Having said that, this isn’t the most interesting flick in the world, but it is decent enough. I recommend it to anyone into this kind of flick.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Vampire in Brooklyn

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

PLOT:

An abandoned ship crashes into a dockyard in Brooklyn, New York, and the ship inspector, Silas Green, inspects it, finding it full of corpses. Elsewhere, Julius, Silas’ nephew, has a run-in with some Italian mobsters. Just as the two goons are about to kill Julius, Maximillian, a suave, mysterious vampire, intervenes and kills them. Soon after, Maximillian infects Julius with his vampiric blood, turning Julius into a slowly decaying ghoul; he then explains that he has come to Brooklyn in search of the Dhampir daughter of a vampire from his native Caribbean island in order to live beyond the night of the next full moon.

This Dhampir turns out to be Rita Veder, a police detective who is still dealing with the death of her mentally ill mother some months before. Rita begins having strange visions about her (or at least a woman that looks like her), and begins asking questions about her mother’s past. Maximillian initiates a series of sinister methods to find out more about Rita and to further pull her into his thrall, including seducing and murdering her roommate Nikki, disguising himself as her preacher and a lowlife crook. After saving her from being run down by a car, Max gets a dinner date with Rita. While dancing with her, he bites her. Later, after going back to Max when she sees her reflection disappearing in a mirror, she finds out that her father, who was also a vampire, sent Maximillian to her; his death at the hands of vampire hunters was what drove Rita’s mother insane. Her only hope for remaining human is Maximillian dying before the next full moon. Rita eventually drives a stake through his heart, and he disintegrates, turning her back into a normal human. Meanwhile, Julius, now nearly completely decayed and without his master, finds Maximillian’s ring and puts it on. He instantly transforms into a well-dressed (and well-endowed) vampire. Silas agrees to chauffeur Julius, and the two ride off into the night in the limousine.

REVIEW:

 Yes, I am reviewing yet another vampire flick. The difference with this one, though, is that it is supposed to be a comedy. I say supposed to be because this wasn’t as funny as it should be, save for a couple of scenes here and there.

I’m of the belief that Eddie Murphy lost his box-office mojo somewhere after Harlem Nights and with the exception of his voice work, just hasn’t really gotten it back, with the exceptions of The Nutty Professor and Dr. Dolittle franchises.

This is one of those films that proves my theory becuse the story actually isn’t too bad. I think it might have worked better as a legit horror flick, though, but that doesn’t mean it was bad writing. The badness comes from the way it is executed. I don’t know if that has anything to do with the acting, direction, or a cobintion of both with some other factors, but it just doesn’t work for me.

Unlike certain vampire films of late, Eddie Murphy’s vampire is actually a bloodsucker! *GASP* How dare a vampire suck blood and not glitter in the sun, right? Basically, everything you know about vampires, Murphy’s vampire is capable of doing, which is really one of the highlights of this film for me.

The make-up and special effects are decent enough. They seem to be a mixture of what we see in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video and the vampires in the TV series Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Depending on how you look at it, that could be good or bad. For me, it was iffy, but works for the tone of the film.

Eddie Murphy does not give his best performance here. His vampire Max, who is supposed to be from somewhere in the Caribbean, seems to have the same accent as his African Prince Akeem from Coming to America. He also plays a couple of other characters, Preacher Polly and the Italian mobster, Guido. Neither is really memorable…in comparison to other characters Murphy has done in his other movies.

Angela Bassett just didn’t work for me as a damsel in distress. She also isn’t very attractive, either, so it makes me wonder why she was cast in this role, unless she happened to be a friend of Murphy. Having said that, she did have some good scenes sprinkled in there, just not enough to redeem her in my eyes.

Kadeem Hardison actually steals the show. He is hilarious, if not annoying, but given the nature of his character, that is expected. At times, you can see how he was influenced by Murphy. It is obvious that he watched the Beverly Hills Cops movies, as well as his earlier works and used them as a basis for Julius.

Allen Payne is the hero of the story. There really isn’t much else to say. He doesn’t really get any development, but rather just seems to be attached to Rita and suspicious of Max.

I really can’t recommend this to anyone. If you’re into African-American vampire lore, then checkout the Blade trilogy or Blacula. They are far superior. That isn’t to say that this film totally sucks, but it is far from a great film. There are plenty of much better vampire and Eddie Murphy films out there to check out. If you must watch this, go ahead, but don’t go out of your way to do so.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Since his last encounter against Batman, Mr. Freeze has found a home in the Arctic and started a family (of sorts) with the still cryogenically-encased Nora, an Inuit boy named Kunac, and two pet polar bears, Hotchka and Shaka. Nora’s condition begins to rapidly deteriorate due to a submarine accidentally emerging from underwater directly underneath them, shattering her containment vessel. Freeze returns to Gotham City with his companions, and enlists the help of Dr. Gregory Belson to find a cure. Belson determines that Nora needs an organ transplant, but due to her rare blood type there are no suitable donors available.

Freeze declares that they will use a live donor, even though it means the donor will die in the process. Belson is at first reluctant to kill an innocent girl, but Freeze bribes him with a gold nugget and even more gold from an entire vein in the Arctic that will put an end to Belson’s financial problems. Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) is a perfect match, and Freeze learns from her roommate that she is at a restaurant with her boyfriend, Dick Grayson (Robin). Freeze attacks the restaurant and kidnaps Barbara, taking her to an abandoned oil rig where he and Belson are hiding. Freeze and Belson explain the situation to Barbara, who claims that she is willing to help Nora for the “blood transfusion”, but not at the oil rig, prompting Freeze to keep Barbara imprisoned. The time for the operation comes, Barbara realizes that they are lying when they say she’ll need to be put under for the simple operation and escapes with the help of Kunac. Belson gives pursuit and almost catches her, before the arrival of Batman and Robin.

Freeze follows, and in the ensuing confrontation, Belson accidentally shoots one of the fuel tanks and starts a rapidly-spreading fire as Freeze traps Batman and Robin. Freeze insists that Belson perform the operation, despite the oil rig blazing and ready to explode, but Belson betrays Freeze and attempts to escape alone, only to be killed by falling wreckage. Freeze’s leg is broken, but he tells Batman and Robin to save Nora and Kunac first, along with Barbara. Nora, Kunac and Barbara are taken to safety in the Batwing, but Batman fails to save the weakened Freeze in time, as the platform collapses beneath them, hitting him in the shoulder, and sending Freeze plummeting into the ocean below.

Batman manages to get back to the Batwing and get aboard just before the oil rig finally explodes, but Freeze escapes just in time, holding onto the swimming Hotchka and Shaka. Freeze then returns with his polar bears to the Arctic to resume his life alone, having frozen his leg in an ice cast, watching through a window he sees on a television in a research station that Nora has been revived after an organ transplant operation funded by Wayne Enterprises, moving him happily to tears.

REVIEW:

 Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero is another direct-to-DVD (video at the time) film in the universe of the 90s Batman animated series. If you ever saw that series, then you know how well crafted it was. Picture that on a larger scale and you have what this film brings to the table.

The animation here can be seen as “cartoony”, but it was supposed to be. For goodness sakes, this was the 90s, a time when everything didn’t need to look real.

In contrast to the cartoony look, though, the story is more on the mature side. I mean, there’s nothing R-rated, but Mr. Freeze does get a bit more, pardon the pun, cold-hearted with the way he goes about things.

One of the negatives for this film, though, is how little Batman was in it. This actually should have been titles Robin & Mr. Freeze: Subzero, because he is the main character, here. I’m glad we got some real Robin action. I could’ve done with more Batgirl, but that’s just being picky.

The action is what we’ve come to expect from comic book action animation. I would love to say that they did something groundbreaking, but there wasn’t anything fancy about this flick.

In the end, Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero comes off as a glorified Batman: The Animated Series episode. Having said that, one must remember the high standards of that series, so a glorified episode is not an insult.

I liked this film a lot. It isn’t my favorite in the scope of all the Batman films I’ve seen, but it is quite enjoyable, especially if you were a fan of the old animated series. This is definitely a good film to watch if you’re not into the darker fare that Batman has evolved into these days (not counting Brave & the Bold).

4 out of 5 stars

Grown Ups

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 25, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 1978, five childhood friends won their junior high basketball championship. During the celebration, their coach “Buzzer” (Blake Clark) encourages them to live their lives in a similar way to how they played the game. Thirty years later, the five friends have since separated. Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler) is a high powered Hollywood talent agent who is married to Roxanne (Salma Hayek), a fashion designer. Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James) is now a co-owner of a lawn furniture company who is married to Sally (Maria Bello). Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock) is a stay at home father who is married to Deanne (Maya Rudolph), the primary breadwinner of the family. All of them harass Kurt for not being more useful. Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider) is a thrice divorced pacifist vegan married to Gloria (Joyce Van Patten, real life wife of Dennis Dugan), who is 30 years older than him. Marcus Higgins (David Spade) is a lazy womanizer.

When they learn that their coach has died, they all return to New England with their families for the private funeral. Lenny rents the lake house for the 4th of July weekend for his friends to stay at, but Lenny can’t stay for the whole weekend because Roxanne has a fashion show in Milan. While at the lake house, Lenny is annoyed that their kids would rather play video games than spend time outdoors, so he and the others force their kids to spend more time outside while at the house, and when they let Eric try the rope swing he’s too afraid to jump off and injures a bird in the process. At a local restaurant, Lenny runs into his old nemesis Dickie Bailey (Colin Quinn). Dickie is still upset at Lenny because he allegedly had his foot out of bounds when he made the long-ago game winning shot and challenges him and his friends to a rematch, but Lenny declines, declaring it a waste of time. During dinner, the group discusses spreading the coach’s ashes in the morning, but Lenny says he can’t be there because of Roxanne’s fashion show. Roxanne angrily storms off because Lenny painted her negatively. She allows him to spread the ashes, but demands they leave early the following morning.

The next morning, the five guys row out to an island to spread Buzzer’s ashes. Rob breaks down and tells the guys that he screwed up his previous marriages and that he’s nervous about meeting his daughters who are coming. They finally meet Rob’s daughters, Jasmine and Amber, who seem too gorgeous to be Rob’s, and Bridget, who very closely resembles him. That evening, when Roxanne is packing, Becky’s tooth falls out, but Roxanne is too busy to notice and she tells her that she’ll put a dollar under her pillow later. When Becky asks why she would do it instead of the Tooth Fairy, Roxanne tells Lenny that she’s worried that she ruined Becky’s childhood. When Lenny hears his kids supposedly talking on their cellphones, he comes into their bedroom to find them actually talking on “cup phones” with the other kids. Happy that the kids are starting to have the same kind of fun he did at their age, he asks everyone to install cup phones around the house. Roxanne then tells Becky through the cup phone the truth about the Tooth Fairy.

In the morning while packing the car, Roxanne sees all the kids having fun down by the lake and decides that they can’t leave the lake house. Happy with his wife’s new attitude, Lenny decides they should head to a waterpark for a day. Back out the house, Deanne becomes suspicious of Kurt when she sees him spending time with Rita, Lenny’s nanny. That evening, the adults spend time together drinking and dancing, while reminiscing about their pasts. Roxanne then confronts Lenny about the fact that he canceled their Milan plane reservations before the funeral behind her back. Lenny claims that he felt their time at the lake house was necessary because their kids were becoming too spoiled. Deanne confronts Kurt about supposedly flirting with Rita. Kurt assures her that he wasn’t flirting with her, but he enjoyed having an actual conversation with her because he doesn’t feel like he gets that with Deanne. Deanne offers to take him out on more dates. Eric then admits to the group that he isn’t co-owner of a lawn furniture company and that he was laid off two months ago. He just didn’t want everyone to think of him as a failure. Lenny resolves to offer Eric an investment opportunity. Gloria then tells everyone that despite their recent hostility, she senses love between everyone.

In the film’s climax, the group then head off to a 4th of July barbecue, where they are once again challenged by Dickie and his friends to a rematch of the basketball game. Rob suggests that their coach would want them to take the challenge and despite everyone’s being out of shape and Rob’s injury, they agree to a game. The game is close, but most of the players get too tired to continue, leaving only Lenny and Dickie on the court. They bring out their sons to continue playing. When Lenny has the chance to make the game winning shot, he deliberately misses and allows Dickie to win, giving him a sense of victory. Lenny and the others take the loss in stride. The movie ends with Marcus drunk and purposely starts a game with arrow roulette and everyone runs in fear

REVIEW:

 In the early 90s, Saturday Night Live was still funny. A big part of that was cast members Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider. These guys have all gone on to movie careers, Sandler the most successful. So, someone decided to put these guys back together and that is how we have Grown Ups.

The thing that is the most impressive about this film is that is seems like the cast is actually having fun. It was like they just showed up and just improved it. With such talented comedians as these, that was no big deal. It was quite refreshing to see that.

With a cast like this, do you honestly think this would be anything other than hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing.

This was not a perfect film, though. A couple of things got under my skin. I don’t necessarily know if it was the film or just a sign of the times, but the way that Adam Sandler’s kids just seemed to be so spoiled. So much so, that they had a cow when the saw a TV that wasn’t a flat screen, there was a scene at the beginning where they threw their hot chocolate back because it didn’t contain Godiva, and don’t get me started on how they wouldn’t drink water that wasn’t Voss or didn’t know what to do outside. Ugh!

I’ve mentioned this cast is a bunch of SNL alumni. However, though it seems like these guys are just out there having fun, I do have to wonder about Kevin James, though. The guy was great here, but you can’t tell me he was anything more than a stand-in/replacement for the late Chris Farley.

The supporting actresses (wives) in the film are not only great in their roles, but they are ungodly hot! One has to sit there and question how these guys can end up with Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Maya Rudolph. WTF?!?

Adding to the hotness are Rob Schneider’s daughters. Leggy blonde Madison Riley, uber hottie Jamie Chung, and Schneider look-a-like Ashley Loren don’t really have much to do other than look pretty (Riley and Chung…not Loren) and be teases for the perverted old guys.

Critics seemed to hate this film, and I’m not really sure why. How often is it that we see a film where the cast actually looks like they’re having fun and not there just to collect a paycheck. On top of that, this is a comedy that has one serious moment, but doesn’t do like many comedies these days do, and that is drift into drama and never come back. Grown Ups is just a great film that everyone who had a close group of friends when they were growing up should see.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Gigli

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on December 24, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Larry Gigli (Affleck) is a low-ranking mobster who is commanded to kidnap the mentally challenged, Baywatch-obsessed younger brother (Bartha) of a powerful federal prosecutor to save his mobster boss from prison. Gigli successfully convinces the young bear, Brian, to go off with him by promising to take him “to the Baywatch.” However, Gigli’s boss, Louis (Venito), does not trust him; he hires a woman calling herself Ricki (Lopez) to take over the job.

Although Gigli is attracted to Ricki, he resents the fact that Louis does not have faith in him and that he has to take orders from Ricki. He is also frustrated by Brian’s insistence on going to “the Baywatch” and by Ricki’s lesbianism. The events take a darker turn when Larry and Ricki receive orders to cut off Brian’s thumb, something neither of them wants to do.

Ricki’s girlfriend (Crider) shows up at Gigli’s apartment, accusing her of cheating. She slits both wrists and has to be rushed to the hospital. While at the hospital, Gigli goes to the morgue and cuts off a corpse’s thumb, which he sends to his boss as Brian’s thumb. Gigli and Ricki go back to his apartment and Gigli confesses his love, leading to a sexual encounter between them.

Afterwards, they are called to meet with the mob’s boss. Starkman (Pacino) reveals that he didn’t approve of the plan to kidnap a federal prosecutor’s brother and scolds them because the thumb they sent won’t match Brian’s fingerprint. He fatally shoots Gigli’s superior Louis. Starkman is about to kill Ricki and Gigli as well, but Ricki talks him out of it. They decide to take Brian back to where they found him. On the way, they discover Baywatch shooting an episode on the beach and leave a happy Brian there.

REVIEW:

 It had to happen eventually. There is a movie that the critics and I actually agree on…sort of. I’m sure you’ve heard of Gigli. The movie that was made while Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were dating, and has often been attributed to the reason they broke up. I’ll leave that to the conspiracy theorists, but this is a bad picture. However, I didn’t find it totally horrible.

The story actually isn’t bad. It actually put me in the mind of something in between The Whole Nine Yards, Get Shorty, and that neo-gangster genre that tried to get going in the early 2000s. I just think that the filmmakers didn’t tap the full potential with it.

That being said, many times an actor can make a bad film, good…or make a good film bad. You have to be the judge about this one, but I happen to think this cast did the best with what they had, which wasn’t much.

Gigli has moments of touching drama, romance, and hilarity, but none are memorable enough to bring up at the water cooler the next morning. Hell, chances are, you’ll forget this thing 5 minutes after it ends.

I mentioned the cast before and how they weren’t to blame here. Poor Ben Affleck. I saw a rerun of Saturday Night Live the other day where he was in a skit that was making fun of how this is his second film to be involved with a lesbian. The other being Chasing Amy. You have to feel sorry for the guy to keep getting cast like that, but at the same time, he brings something to this character that is just remarkable.

Jennifer Lopez has never looked better. Some people say that her voice is annoying. I guess they haven’t listened to Rosie Perez prattle on. While Lopez was muy caliente, she did seem a bit wooden in her performance, even when she was supposed to be showing emotion.

The sad part of Lopez and Affleck is that they don’t really show chemistry on screen. I wonder if their personal life was like that. If so, then it is no wonder they didn’t work out. Of course, in Lopez’s short appearance in Jersey Girl, she and Affleck seem to be as in-tune as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, so maybe it was this script that just didn’t work.

I’m not 100% sure, but I think this is film that got Justin Bartha, who you may know from the National Treasure franchise, noticed. He does pull of a masterful performance. I almost believed he was mentally challenged at times. I have to put this up there with Dustin Hoffman and Juliette Lewis’ performances as mentally challenged persons in Rain Man and The Other Sister, respectively.

I was scratching my head at the cameos by Lainie Kazan, Al Pacino, and Christopher Walken. Pacino, was actually a character important to the plot, but one has to wonder how they got him to do this schlock. Walken played a cop, and honestly, anyone could have played that role. Lainie Kazan was Affleck’s mother. I’m not really scratching my head about that casting, but rather why she wasn’t given more screentime, especially since her character seemed to actually be interesting.

Yes, Gigli is a bad film. The first half of the film is almost unwatchable, save for the hotness of Lopez. However, it does get a little better as the film progresses. I won’t insult your intelligence by saying you should see this, but at the same time, I do think this film gets a bad rap. It isn’t totally horrible, but it is bad. I wouldn’t avoid it, but if you never see it, that isn’t a big loss.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Re-Animator

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , on December 22, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

At Zurich University Institute of Medicine in Switzerland, Herbert West brings his dead professor, Dr. Hans Gruber (Al Berry), back to life with horrific side-effects because, as West explains, the dosage was too large. When accused of killing Gruber, West counters: “I gave him life!”

In the emergency room of the hospital at Miskatonic University in New England, medical student Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) tries in vain to revive a patient after other medical personnel have given her up as dead.

Dan is dating Megan (Barbara Crampton), daughter of school dean Alan Halsey (Robert Sampson). West arrives at Miskatonic in order to further his studies. West rents a room from Dan and converts the building’s basement into his own personal laboratory. There is an instant animosity between West and faculty member Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale). West declares that Hill stole the theory of brain death from West’s late mentor, Dr. Gruber. Dan discovers that West has re-animated Dan’s dead cat, Rufus, with a glowing reagent. West recruits Dan as his partner in research to defeat death. Megan dislikes West, especially after discovering Rufus re-animated in a state of dismemberment.

Hill manages to turn Halsey against both West and Dan. Barred from the school, West and Dan sneak into the morgue to test the reagent on a human subject in an attempt to salvage their medical careers. The corpse revives and goes on a rampage, attacking the duo. Dean Halsey stumbles upon the scene originally to force them out of the morgue for trespassing and, despite attempts by both West and Dan to save him, is brutally killed by the re-animated corpse. Armed with a bone saw, West finally manages to dispatch that which he has only just brought back to life. Hardly fazed by the violence and excited at the prospect of working with a freshly dead specimen, West injects Halsey with the reagent. Halsey returns to life, but in a zombie-like state.

Hill discovers West’s work and gains guardianship over Halsey whom he puts in a padded cell adjacent to his office. Dan and Megan break into Hill’s office where they find evidence that Hill has a secret obsession with Megan and has lobotomized her father. Hill has gone to confront West in his basement lab and threatens to blackmail him to continue his research so that Hill can take credit for West’s reagent. While Hill is distracted, West decapitates Hill with a shovel. Overcome with curiosity, West re-animates both Hill’s head and body. While West is questioning Hill’s head and taking notes, Hill’s body knocks out West. The body carries the head and steals West’s reagent, returning to Hill’s office. Exercising mind control over Halsey, Hill sends him out to kidnap Megan from Dan.

West and Dan track Halsey to the morgue where they find Hill’s body holding his head in a compromising position over a restrained Megan. West distracts Hill while Dan frees Megan. Hill reveals that he has re-animated and lobotomized several corpses from the morgue to do his bidding. However, Megan manages to get through to her father, who fights off the other corpses long enough for Dan and Megan to escape. In the ensuing chaos, Halsey is torn to pieces by the corpses after he destroys Hill’s head and West injects Hill’s body with what he believes is a lethal overdose of the reagent which began to destroy Hill’s body. Hill’s body mutates horribly and attacks West, who screams out to Dan to save his work as he continues fighting.

Dan retrieves the satchel containing West’s reagent. As Dan and Megan run from the morgue, one of the re-animated corpses attacks and kills Megan. Dan takes her to the hospital emergency room where we first saw Dan. He tries in vain to revive her. Finally in despair he injects her with reagent. Just after the scene fades to black, Megan screams as it implicates her re-animation backfires just like the previous re-animated

REVIEW:

 While watching Santa’s Slay the other day, I came across a trailer for Beyond Re-Animator, which is apparently the third film in this series. Being curious, I decided to check out the entire franchise, starting with Re-Animator.

I’ll be frank with you. I didn’t really know what to make of this film. On one hand, I liked the oddity of it, but on the other hand, it seemed a bit like a bad B-movie…even for something from the 80s.

Apparently, this film is based on a short story from the early 20s. If you look closely, you can sort of get the idea that it was written back then.

The story centers around a med student who wants to bring back the dead. In his mad quest to re-animate life, he inadvertently involves his new roommate and his fiancée, and creates enemies out of the dean and professor.

I’ve made statements in the past about horror movies that seem to be more about the suspense and not the gore, most recently, Prom Night, but this one is proof that a little bit of gore goes a long way. Of course, this was the 80s, when stuff like this wasn’t as commonplace as it is today. Damn those Saw movies!

The mixture of horror, camp, and comedy is what makes this film work. In a manner similar to The Toxic Avenger and that entire franchise (not counting the cartoon version, of course), this film seemed to have nothing worthwhile, but once you sit down and watch it, you find yourself hooked, and not really sure why. That is the mark of a good mixture of elements. I applaud those involved with writing this script. They did an excellent job of not making this into something that was too much of this or that.

Seeing as how this was made in 1985, one wouldn’t exect the best special effects, and so we don’t get anything spectacular. However, this is the 80s, so effects were done with actual make-up and not computers. The makeup artists outdid themselves with the corpses, that’s for sure.

Acting is not the strongest part of this flick, that’s for sure. These actors all sem like they were plucked right out of acting class.

In the end, I’m still not sure what I think about this film. I didn’t love it, but at the same time I think it was half way decent and far from sucking. There are plenty of things to be said on the pro and con side of this film. Still, this is not a bad flick and a decent time  can be had watching it.

3 out of 5 stars

Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam

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

 

PLOT:

Superman finds a foe who may be too powerful even for him to defeat in the murderous Black Adam. However, Black Adam’s real target is the World’s Mightiest Mortal–Captain Marvel.

REVIEW:

I’ve always wondered why it is that Captain Marvel has never really gotten the respect he deserves. I mean the guy is as strong, if not stronger than Superman, and is almost invincible. To my knowledge, there was a Shazam! television show in the 70s, but it was abit too serious in tone, sort of like The Incredible Hulk, and he has appeared in the usual supehero cartoons such as Justice League: Unlimited and Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

So, you cna imagine how gidy I was when I heard about Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam. I was slightly disappointed, though. Not because this was a bad film, but becuse it was a short. On top of that, this is the exact story, with some minor alterations, that was shown in an epsiode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold last season.

Those frustrations aside, it is great to see at least something for Shazam!. Can Aqauaman, Hawkman, Firestorm, or Red Tornado be far behind?

The animation in this short film is superb, but I found it a bit too anime-ish for my taste. I guess I shouldn’t complain, though. It could have been much worse (computer animated).

Save for some early talking to set up the plot, this thing is non-stop action, literally, and I could not have loved it more!

The voice casting is intriguing. Apparently, Jerry O’Connell voices Captain Marvel in his appearance in Justice League: Unlimited and reprised his role here, as did George Newbern as Superman (I still prefer Tim Daly, though).

Arnold Vosloo, best known for his work in The Mummy franchise gives Black Adam a voice. I wasn’t exactly sold on it. The accent left me a bit iffy and I’m not sure why.

The other shorts that are included in this collection feature The Spectre, Jonah Hex, and Green Arrow. My personal favorite of those was The Spectre, especially what he does with the money at the end. I’m not going to spoil it. You have to see for yourself.

The three shorts appear on various other DC animated features. I can’t recall which ones exactly, though.

On top of these great shorts, the special features include a episodes of various DC comic cartoons such as Justice League: Unlimited, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Batman: The Animated Series. It was good to relive these episodes and made me want to go track down the DVD collections.

Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam isn’t perfect, but it is worth checking out, especially for all the special features and whatnot that is included on the DVD. I may have to make a last minute addition to my holiday shopping after watching this, that’s for sure. I’m sure any comics fan will enjoy it as well.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Island of Dr. Moreau

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on December 22, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Andrew Braddock is a shipwreck victim from the “Lady Vain”, having also been a member of its crew. After many days at sea, he and one other survivor arrive, unknowingly, upon the island of Dr. Moreau. Besides Moreau, the others in the compound are his associate Dr. Montgomery, his deformed servant M’Ling, and a lovely young woman, Maria.

At first, an “honoured guest” (prisoner) on that island, Braddock finds his contacts with the natives increasingly disturbing, for they are not like any men he has ever seen. Eventually, it transpires that these “men” are in fact experimental reconstructions from wild animals made by a particularly sinister scientist, Dr. Moreau. He feels that he is in danger from the animal/men and from Dr. Moreau himself and does not know where to turn.

After one of the man-beasts attacks an animal, breaking the rules that Moreau has established, Moreau intends to take it to the “house of pain”, his laboratory. The beast panics and leads chase, and Braddock kills it in sympathy. Convinced that Moreau is insane, Braddock plans to leave the island with Maria, with whom he has developed a mutual attraction. They are caught however, and Moreau straps Braddock in his lab, intending to conduct experiments on him. Montgomery objects and Moreau kills him in cold blood. M’Ling and the servant animal women take Montgomery’s body into the woods to the man-beasts.

While the man-beasts become agitated over Moreau breaking another of the rules (“man shall not kill man”), Moreau injects Braddock with a serum that gives him animal characteristics. Braddock becomes more animalistic and struggles to maintain his humanity. The man-beasts storm the compound and in the chaos Moreau is killed. Braddock, Maria, and M’Ling stall long enough to engineer an escape, but the compound is burned and most of the man-beasts are killed by the wild animals which Moreau kept for his experiments. M’Ling is also killed in the final escape.

Braddock and Maria manage to sail away in the lifeboat that Braddock arrived in, but only after a bloody battle with one of the man-beasts. Some time later, they are rescued by passing ship, and the serum has worn off, returning Braddock to his full human state.

REVIEW:

 One of the stories I’ve heard bits and pieces of here and there in various medium has been the that of The Island of Dr. Moreau. This should make it no surprise that I was excited about watching this film this afternoon.

The sad part is that I wasn’t really impressed with this picture. Maybe I had expectations that were a bit too high, or perhaps I just couldn’t get past the cheesy dialogue and makeup.

However, there are some good parts of this film. The story is told well. The story does drag on for a bit, especially in the middle.

I also have to wonder why it is that Moreau wanted to create these creatures, only to all but shun them later on.

The film does come to a climax after some unnecessary lengthy drama, but the payoff just wasn’t there for me. It sort of felt anti-climactic. I guess I’m a bit spoiled by today’s cinema, but I was hoping for a twist, like maybe it was the creatures who were the mastermind behind Moreau and Montgomery.

The casting is pretty good. Burt Lancaster is both sophisticated and intimidating as Dr. Moreau.

A young Michael York surprised me with his role here. I never thought that Basil from the Austin Powers franchise was such a talented actor. I will admit that I found his performance a bit wooden, but I can get over it, considering how his lines aren’t that great.

The lovely Barbara Carerra seems to be an enigma throughout the whole film. At first, she seems as if she was a creation of Moreau, then she appears to be his subordinate daughter, and finally she is her own woman (after Moreau’s death, that is).

As I said before, I had high hopes for this film. Sadly, they were not met, and this just came off as another generic sci-fi flick from the 70s with cheap effects and subpar acting. I will recommend  this as a must see before you die, but don’t go out of your way to see it right away.

3 out of 5 stars

A Christmas Carol (1999)

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on December 21, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the Victorian period, Ebenezer Scrooge is a skinflint businessman who loathes the Christmas season and begrudges having to give time off to his best employee, Bob Cratchit. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his late friend and business partner, Jacob Marley, who in the afterlife has come to see the errors of his ways. Marley arranges for Scrooge to be visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come in hopes of teaching Scrooge of the importance of embracing the joy of the holiday season. Scrooge reforms, learning to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in his heart, ultimately becoming a well-loved and respected man.

REVIEW:

 I’m sure you’ve all read Charles Dickens’ immortal tale A Christmas Carol. If you haven’t, then one of your English teachers needs to be slapped around!

This version in a 1999 TV-movie version of the book. There really isn’t much to say about this flick.

Patrick Stewart seems like an odd choice for Scrooge. Don’t get me wrong, he is a very good and capable actor, but he doesn’t bring anything to Scrooge. I may be a bit biased due to my love for the 1984 version of A Christmas Carol. Of course, said bias didn’t skewer my opinion of other versions of Scrooge in Disney’s or the musical version. I just didn’t feel anything for his character.

It is obvious this was a made for TV movie, especially when you look at some of the special effects, namely the ghost of Christmas yet to come. The thing looks like a mixture of the 1984 version and a Jawa from Star Wars. It looked more comical than scary, to me. I was sort of reminded of those aliens from Sesame Street when it first appeared. To top it all off, the thing has human hands. WTF?!? The ghost of Christmas yet to come should be a mysterious figure that scares Scrooge into changing his ways. This thing couldn’t scare a speck of dust!

The story is the story we all know. There really isn’t anything we haven’t seen already. So, it was sort of like a been there, done that thing.

Do I recommend seeing this? Not really. There are much better versions out there, but if you really wanna watch it, I’m not going to stop you. There just really isn’t anything memorable about this schlock.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

National Lampoon’s European Vacation

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on December 19, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film’s plot is another family misadventure, full of over-the-top slapstick. Chase and D’Angelo again portray the married couple Clark and Ellen Griswold, living in suburban Chicago with two children, Rusty and Audrey. The family competes in a game show called “Pig in a Poke” (based on Family Feud, but with the families wearing pig costumes) and wins an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe, flying Pan Am Airways. In a whirlwind tour of western Europe, chaos of all sorts ensues. Their fleabag London hotel desk clerk (Mel Smith) is a sloppy, tattooed Cockney wearing a tank top. Now with their English hire car, a bright yellow Austin Maxi, Clark drives his family endlessly around the busy Lambeth Bridge roundabout for hours, unable to maneuver his way out of traffic, mentioning the Big Ben clock and Parliament with each pass. His wrong-way driving habits cause him to repeatedly crash into cars and knock over and injure a frightened bicyclist (Eric Idle) who reappears in different scenes as if by coincidence, each time wearing more bandages than in the scene before. At Stonehenge, Clark backs their Maxi into a priceless, ancient stone monolith, knocking all the stones down like dominoes, which they do not even notice happened as they happily leave the scene (while the family are at Stonehenge, Clark shouts for Rusty, who is standing right behind him. Rusty then replies, ‘Yeah Dad?’. This conversation is a callback to a similar one which took place in National Lampoon’s Vacation after Clark crashed the car in the middle of the desert).

In Paris, Clark throws Rusty’s beret cap off the Eiffel Tower observation deck, causing a lady’s dachshund to jump off after it; later, young Rusty meets a hooker at a bawdy Paris can-can dance show. While in Paris, the family’s video camera is stolen by a passerby (Victor Lanoux) whom Clark had asked to take a picture of the family. Also, Clark, with his terrible French, manages to insult every native Frenchman.

The Griswolds burst in on a bewildered, elderly German village couple (Willy Millowitsch, Erika Wackernagel), who they mistakenly think are relatives but who serve them dinner anyhow, not knowing each other’s languages. Clark manages to turn a lively thigh-slapping Bavarian folk dance stage performance, choreographed as are all the musical sequences by Gillian Lynne, into an all-out street brawl, after which he, fleeing hastily, gets their Citroën DS stuck in a too-narrow medieval archway after knocking down several street vendors’ stands. The family members get on each others’ nerves while riding together in a train compartment.

In Rome, the Griswolds rent a car at a travel office. However, they don’t know that the real manager is restrained by two thieves. The leader thief gives them a car with the real manager in the trunk. He claims that he lost the keys to the trunk. Later the Griswolds go shopping. The next day Ellen angrily discovers that private sexy videos of her from the family’s previously stolen video camera have been used in a billboard advertising a pornographic movie, leaving her completely humiliated. After screaming her anger at Clark (who thought he erased the video as he had promised her), Ellen storms off to the hotel they are staying at and encounters the thief who sold them the car. She confesses her recent troubles. She is still unaware that he is a thief. The man then tries to get the car keys, which are in her purse. However he fails and then the police arrive at the hotel and Ellen tries to escape. She is kidnapped by him, prompting Clark to rescue her. At the end while flying back to the U.S.A., Clark causes the plane to “knock” the Statue of Liberty’s torch upside down.

Cameo appearances are made by John Astin (playing game show host “Kent Winkdale”), Moon Unit Zappa, Robbie Coltrane, Maureen Lipman, Leslie Phillips, Ballard Berkeley, Eric Idle and a musical appearance by The Power Station (“Some Like It Hot”).

REVIEW:

 National Lampoon’s European Vacation is another great entry into the National Lampoon lexicon. This sequel to National Lampoon’s Vacation has been viewed by some as superior and by others as inferior. For me, it is somewhere in between.

Again we find the Griswolds going on vacation, this time as a result of winning a game show and earning a trip to Europe.

As with the previous film, there are numerous hijinks, hysterics, and utter ludicrousness to be found. This is what makes this franchise so great.

The thing that really gets me about this picture is how the plot is similar to the predecessor, and yet doesn’t feel recycled at all. Too often, I have seen sequels that are direct rip-offs of the previous film, just moved to a different location. Initially, that is what I thought this was going to be, but I was wrong.

Of course, as hilarious as this picture was, there are moments that just don’t work for me. For instance, there is the whole porn video thing with Mrs. Griswold, especially since this was only a PG-13 film (the previous film was rated R).

On top of that, the kids were replaced. Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, except for the simple fact that they didn’t seem to work. Making matters work, there seem to be a constant focus on Audrey’s weight.

Those points aside, having Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo reprising their roles really kept some sense of continuity with this film and the previous one. Not to mention that they are just as funny as ever and the chemistry between them has never been better.

National Lampoon’s European Vacation is one of those great films that often times gets overlooked in favor of another in the franchise. I’m not sure if this is my favorite, but it is for sure just as funny as National Lampoon’s Vacation. Do I think you should watch it? Why, of course. It is hilariously funny and a feel good romp that will be enjoyed by one and all.

4 out of 5 stars

Prom Night

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 2005, Donna Keppel (Brittany Snow) returns home to find her father and brother dead. She hides under the bed as Richard Fenton (Johnathon Schaech), her former teacher who is obsessed with her, kills her mother in front of her. Three years later, she has been in therapy and she tells her therapist (Ming Wen) about the recurring dream of that night.

Donna is now living with her aunt (Jessalyn Gilsig) and uncle (Linden Ashby), and is about to graduate from high school. She and her friends are getting ready to attend their senior prom that night. While at the salon with her friends, she thinks she sees Fenton watching her from across the street, but when a car passes, he’s gone. Donna’s boyfriend, Bobby (Scott Porter), arrives at her house, along with her friends Lisa (Dana Davis), Claire (Jessica Stroup), and their boyfriends, Ronnie (Collins Pennie) and Michael (Kelly Blatz). They take a limousine to the prom.

At the town’s police station, Detective Winn (Idris Elba), who imprisoned Fenton three years ago, learns that Fenton has escaped from prison and warns Donna’s aunt and uncle. At the prom, Fenton arrives at the hotel disguised as a man named Mr. Ramsey, and takes a room on Donna’s floor and kills the housekeeper to get the master key. On the dance floor, Claire has a fight with her boyfriend Michael and goes up to her room with Donna to calm down. After Donna leaves, Claire is alone and hears noises. She then sees Fenton, who proceeds to take Claire into a room, stabs her and kills her. When Claire doesn’t return, Michael goes upstairs to see her. While in the room, Fenton hides, then kills Michael. Detective Winn arrives and warns the hotel staff to be on the alert. Fenton kills a hotel employee looking for the maid and takes his uniform.

Lisa and Ronnie head up to the room, Lisa bumps into Fenton in the elevator. While making out Lisa realizes that it was Fenton and runs off to warn Donna, but after taking the stairs she’s caught by Fenton. She is chased down to the basement of the hotel where construction is taking place and she hides herself from Fenton, but after her boyfriend calls her name from the elevator, Fenton finds her and kills her.

Winn and his assistant Nash (James Ransone) find the body of a man named Mr. Ramsey in a car in the hotel parking lot. Winn goes up to the room and finds the housekeeper’s body. Knowing for sure that Fenton is in the building, Winn sounds the emergency alarm and has the entire hotel evacuated. Donna goes back to the room to retrieve her mother’s shawl and runs into Fenton. Realizing Donna is still inside Winn races back up to the room. Donna escapes Fenton, and Winn discovers the body of the employee Fenton killed earlier. Winn realizes Fenton left the hotel in the employee’s uniform.

Winn now races back to Donna’s house and finds Detective Nash dead in his squad car. Inside Donna returns from the bathroom to find Bobby’s throat has been slit. She sees a shadow out in the hall and she hides in her closet, thinking the shadow is Fenton’s. The person in the hall is Detective Winn and Fenton grabs Donna in the closet. Winn is about to open the closet but then hears a scream from Donna’s aunt, from noticing the dead officer on the ground outside so Winn runs to her bedroom. Donna bites Fenton on the hand and tries to escape out of the closet but trips on the floor. Fenton tries to hold her down but Donna continues to struggle and kick him. When Fenton was above Donna and tries to stab her, Winn runs in and shoots Fenton, killing him. Donna cries over Bobby’s dead body and Winn tells her it’s over

REVIEW:

 We all remember our high school prom and the feelings that ran through us that night, right? Well, imagine if you were the object of some crazy stalker’s affection, and he escaped from prison that night and was coming for you. That is the general idea behind Prom Night.

First off, let me address something that many who have seen this film complain about, and that is the lack of gore. I, too, was expecting a bit more bloodshed, but we have to remember that this film is rated PG-13 (though I watched the unrated version), so the site of blood is going to be few and far between. While it may have made this a better picture to up that factor a bit, not ever horror flick can be Saw.

Now that I’ve said that, this isn’t half bad. However, with all the potential this plot has, the filmmakers seriously drop the ball. I mean how much more creepy can you get than some teacher who develops an infatuation with a student to the point that he murders her parents and anyone that dares to keep them apart.

One would think, that they would really have played up the creepy angle, but instead they chose to focus more on the cop that arrested him and his attempts to contain him in the building where prom was being held.

Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with that, but this isn’t a cop flick.

The casting is pretty good. Brittany Snow seems like she was meant to be a prom queen and her friends form the perfect high school circle for her.

Idris Elba is believable as the cop/hero, though, as I mentioned before, they spent too much time on him.

Johnathon Schaech is the highlight of this flick, as he plays this creepy killer guy to perfection. Even I was a bit creeped out by him.

The final verdict on Prom Night is that it is pretty good, but not spectacular. This is what I like to call a warm-up horror flick. The kid for those not ready for the heavier stuff. With that said, I think audiences will enjoy it, as long as they’re no hung up on wanting to see lots of gore.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Expendables

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A team of elite, highly-trained mercenaries, the Expendables, are deployed to the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia to halt local pirates from executing the hostages on a merchant vessel. The team consists of leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), former SAS soldier and blades specialist Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), martial artist Yin Yang (Jet Li), sniper Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) and demolitions expert Toll Road (Randy Couture). Jensen instigates a firefight, causing casualties for the pirates. Yang and Jensen fight over a moral disagreement about hanging a pirate, with Ross finally intervening. As a result of his psychological problems and drug use, Ross reluctantly releases Jensen from the Expendables. The team then travels to New Orleans where they are based.

Ross and rival mercenary leader Trent Mauser (Arnold Schwarzenegger) visit a church to meet a man, who takes the name “Mr. Church” (Bruce Willis). Church offers them a mission in Vilena, a fictional island in between the Gulf of Mexico and South America, to overthrow a brutal dictator, General Garza (David Zayas). Busy with other things, Trent gives the contract to Ross. Meanwhile, Christmas visits his girlfriend, Lacy (Charisma Carpenter), whom he discovers has left him for another man. He leaves in a fit of rage, while Lacy insists her actions occurred because she does not see Christmas often and does not even know what he does for a living.

Ross and Christmas fly to Vilena to do initial reconnaissance after meeting their contact, Sandra (Gisele Itié), only for the mission to go awry. Ross learns that Garza is backed by ruthless ex-CIA agent James Munroe (Eric Roberts) as well as his henchmen Paine (Steve Austin) and The Brit (Gary Daniels), who manipulate and keep Garza in power by making his people fear him. Sandra is revealed to be Garza’s daughter. Ross decides to abort and causes casualties among the army as they escape, but Sandra refuses to leave. Meanwhile, a vengeful Jensen approaches Garza and Munroe to help their side.

Christmas visits Lacy again to find that her new boyfriend has beaten her up. Christmas beats him and his friends, showing Lacy what he does for a living and winning her over. Later, Ross, Christmas, and Yang deduce that Mr. Church is a member of the CIA and that the real target is Munroe, as the CIA could not kill one of their own by sending in the Special Forces or the Navy Seals. Ross meets mission coordinator and former teammate Tool (Mickey Rourke) to vent his feelings of guilt. Tool makes an emotional confession to Ross about letting a woman commit suicide during the Bosnian War, and how he felt that if he had saved her, he could’ve saved what was left of his soul. Hearing this, Ross decides to go back for Sandra, telling Christmas and Yang he will do it alone. Yang however tags along; while driving they are chased on the road by Jensen in a shootout. The pursuit ends in an abandoned warehouse, where Yang and Jensen fight a second time. Jensen attempts to impale Yang on a pipe, only to be shot by Ross. A wounded Jensen, believing he is about to die, makes amends and gives the layout of Garza’s palace. Ross boards the plane with Yang and finds the rest of team, ready to aid their friend.

The Expendables infiltrate Garza’s compound. Christmas, Yang, Caesar, and Toll plant explosive charges throughout the site. When Garza has a change of heart after Munroe tortures his daughter and realized he had changed for the worst, Munroe kills him for his treachery, causing Garza’s loyal men to think it was the Expendables who killed him and scatter in rage. The entire team fights and shoots their way through Garza’s soldiers. Ross and Caesar manage to destroy the helicopter Munroe was to escape on. Christmas and Yang manage to kill The Brit while Toll kills Paine. Ross and Christmas catch up to Munroe and kill him, saving Sandra. Instead of taking the payment for the mission, Ross gives it to Sandra to restore Vilena. The team travels back to New Orleans and celebrate their victory at Tool’s tattoo parlor, with the reformed and recovering Jensen. Christmas and Tool challenge each other to a game of knife throwing and Christmas recites a limerick about his respect for Tool, walking through the door into the street, turning, then throwing a bull’s eye.

REVIEW:

 It seems like this has been the year of testosterone laden mercenary action flicks. The Expendables joins the list of films released in the genre that includes The A-Team and The Losers.

Both of those films garnered reviews on both sides of the spectrum, as did this one. However, there is one thing that can’t be ignored, and that is the intense action that all three possess.

The plot here is simple, a bunch of old guy mercenaries for hire get hired for a job and kick ass. Nothing to complicated about that.

However, someone decided to stick some kind of actual story writing in here. Normally, I wouldn’t mind, but for a film like this, I just want to see some kick-ass action.

The film does deliver on that front, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more. I understand keeping it saved up for the climax, which was worth the wait, but there wouldn’t have been any shame in giving us some more during the film.

Don’t get me wrong, this thing doesn’t try to be a drama. It is just that, personally, I would have preferred more action.

All that aside, one has to be taken aback by the action stars they brought in here. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, etc. Even cameos by Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger (who both did their parts for free, btw). Hell, the only one missing was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Having said that, don’t expect to see to much of anyone other than Stallone and Statham, with a hint of Li. They are the stars of the film, everyone else seems to be glorified extras with a couple of lines here and there. While I applaud this gathering of great action stars, I’m of the belief that if you’re going to have them in the movie, then for goodness sakes, use them.

This picture isn’t all testosterone. Charisma Carpenter and Mexican beauty Gisele Itie are some nice eye candy (especially Carpenter). Unfortunately, they are both the reasons for the slower parts of the film that almost drag it into unnecessary drama.

I really did enjoy this picture. While it wasn’t as good as The A-Team, it was better than The Losers. The gathering of these great action stars along with a pretty good story and kick ass action really makes this a must see for any action fan. I highly recommend it!

4 out of 5 stars