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

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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