Archive for February, 2011

Where the Red Fern Grows (1974)

Posted in Classics, Drama, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Where the Red Fern Grows is the heartwarming and adventurous tale for all ages about a young boy and his quest for his own red-bone hound hunting dogs. Set in the Ozark Mountains during the Great Depression, Billy Coleman works hard and saves his earnings for 2 years to achieve his dream of buying two coonhound pups. He develops a new trust in God as he faces overwhelming challenges in adventure and tragedy roaming the river bottoms of Cherokee country with “Old Dan” and “Little Ann.” The movie follows the inseparable trio as they romp relentlessly through the Ozarks, trying to tree the elusive “Ghost” raccoon. Their efforts prove victorious as they win the coveted gold cup in the annual coon-hunt contest, capture wily ghost coons and bravely fight a mountain lion. Through these adventures Billy realizes the meaning of true friendship, loyalty, integrity and heroics, in this timeless and poignant coming of age story.

REVIEW:

 A while back, I reviewed the 2003 version of Where the Red Fern Grows. Knowing good and well that wasn’t the version I remember from elementary school. In case you haven’t checked out that review, I wasn’t a fan.

This 1974 version is the one that almost all of us have seen at some point or another (probably after reading the book in elementary school).

I seriously need to go back and re-read that book again, but as far as I remember, they stick real close to the source material.

There isn’t much to say in terms of special effects because there aren’t any. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it is possible to make a film without the use of some kind of fancy camera tricks, computers, explosions, etc.

Without the distractions of special effects, one can actually focus on the story and the beautiful countryside of Oklahoma.

Granted, the acting isn’t that great, but you have to remember this was a TV movie from the early 70s. Do you really expect it to be Citizen Kane?

Like the book, this film does seem to drag on a bit, especially if you’re not into dogs or hunting, but seeing as how this isn’t an action flick, it is forgivable.

I won’t spoil the ending for those of you that haven’t seen this or read the book, bt I will say that it is quite sad, however, I felt that the way it was done in the book added that extra little bit of feeling and brought the audience into it. Something that they left out in this film for some strange reason.

I didn’t grow up in Oklahoma, so I can comment on how people talk/act around there, but I can say that these people reminded me a bit of the characters from The Andy Griffith Show, only without the comedic exaggerations.

I could bring up something about Billy being selfish and hoarding all that money to pay for his dogs when he could have just as well helped out his dad and chipped in for a new mule, but they ended up paying for themselves, so it all worked out.

Everytime I see something about this film, it is usually accompanied with a comparison to Old Yeller. I don’t understand these comparisons. The only thing similar are that they are dog films with sad endings. Of course, I’m not a dog person, so there might be something I’m missing. Should you see this? Why, of course, and totally avoid that 2003 bastardization version. It is nothing but a waste of time!

4 out of 5 stars

Easy A

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Olive Penderghast lies to her best friend Rhiannon about going on a date in order to get out of camping with her and her hippie parents. Instead, she hangs around the house all weekend, listening to “Pocketful of Sunshine”. The following Monday, pressed by Rhiannon, Olive lies about losing her virginity to a college guy. Marianne, a girl at their school who is a zealous Christian, overhears her telling the lie and soon it spreads like wildfire.

The school has a conservative church group run by Marianne who decides Olive will be their next project. The group’s harassment, disguised as concern, comes to head at an English class taught by Mr. Griffith. The class is reading The Scarlet Letter, a novel about adultery and shame. When one of the girls from the church group makes a snide comment to Olive suggesting Olive wear a red A as well, Olive shoots back and Mr. Griffith sends her to the principal’s office. During her detention she tells her friend Brandon the truth, and he explains how others bully him because he’s gay.

Brandon comes over later and asks Olive to pretend to sleep with him so that he will be accepted by everyone else at school. Brandon convinces Olive and they pretend to have sex at a party. Afterwards she bumps into Todd, whom she almost kissed years ago during seven minutes in heaven but instead agreed to lie about it when he said he was not ready.

After having a fight with Rhiannon over her (Olive’s) new identity as a “dirty skank”, Olive decides to counteract the harassment by embracing her new image as the school tramp. She begins to wear more provocative clothing and stitches a red ‘A’ (a la Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter) to everything she wears. Boys who usually have had no luck with girls in the past begin to give her gift cards and money to say they have had sex with her in order to increase their own popularity, which in turn increases her reputation.

Olive comes to short-lived understanding with Marianne, but it is ruined when Marianne’s boyfriend Micah gets chlamydia and lies that Olive gave it to him. Olive sees Mrs. Griffith, the guidance counselor and her teacher’s wife, who tearfully confesses that she slept with Micah. Olive promises to take the blame to save Mrs. Griffith’s job and marriage. Rhiannon, partly jealous of the attention Olive is getting, joins the church group and starts harassing her former best friend.

Olive soon realizes that, though everyone thinks she is sleeping around, no one was actually attempting to sleep with her. This changes when Anson comes up to her and asks her out. The date goes sour when Olive sees Rhiannon at the restaurant and remembers she has a crush on Anson. In the parking lot, Anson attempts to pay her off; Olive asks what they will say happened but Anson thinks he will actually get sex and tries to kiss her. She resists and he drives off. Todd, who works at the restaurant, sees her and offers to drive her home.

Todd tells her that he does not believe the rumor mill, he remembers when she lied for him because he wasn’t ready for his first kiss and thinks she is actually great. He says he wishes she actually was his first kiss, and not Rhi. Todd then asks for permission to kiss Olive but she says no, wanting to wait until she sorts out her life.

Olive goes to the boys that propositioned her and demands they admit that the rumors are all lies but they refuse (and Brandon even ran off, leaving behind a note telling his parents he’s gay). When she goes to Mrs. Griffith to make her come clean, she refuses and implies that no one would believe Olive over her. Olive runs to Mr. Griffith and tells him the truth but immediately regrets it, realizing she just destroyed a marriage.

To get everything finally in the open, she does a song and dance number at a pep rally and pretends she will be doing a sex show via web cam with Todd. In actuality she confesses what she has done. She also makes up with Rhi, apologizing for lying. When she is finishing up, Todd comes by riding a lawnmower, holding a boombox and tells her to come out. She closes her web cam confession saying she really likes Todd and maybe she will lose her virginity to him in the future but at the end of the day it is no one’s business but her own. She leaves the house to kiss him and they ride off from the neighborhood on the lawnmower.

REVIEW:

 This is one of those films that people were raving about last year. I wanted to see it when it came out, but low fundage and scheduling pu a hindrance to that plan.

I was able to watch it afternoon and I have to say that you can believe the hype with this. The best way I can think to describe this is to combine the tone of any John Hughes film with the basic theme of The Scarlet Letter and throw them into today’s high school society.

If you think I’m just trying to make a bad comparisons, I assure you I’m not. As a matter of fact, the main character even mentions (and shows clips) from many John Hughes films, as well as clips from the Demi Moore version of The Scarlet Letter, as well as the old black and white version. Of corse, she is quick to point out that the black and white version is better(who would want to see Demi Moore bathing?), but you should still read the book.

So, what is the actual plot of this film? Well, Olive, is one of those unknown girls a this high school. After a weekend of avoiding a camping trip with her best friend because she made up a blind date with some guy, she lies to her again and says she has sex with him, thus giving her the reputation of being a slut (don’t you just love high school?).

This leads to an agreement with a gay friend to tell the school he got lucky to keep him from being bullied, which ends up fueling the rest of the film as guys come out of the woodwork for her to the same for them, making her an even bigger slut, until she can’t take it anymore.

I actually liked the way this film told and moved the story along at a steady enough pace without getting all preachy, dramatic, or boring. The comedy that is present during each of these scenes is what really drives it home.

Mix that with the suspension of disbelief. Seriously, are you going to tell me that no high school boy would ask out the seriously hot, yet attainable, Emma Stone?!? I find that hard to swallow.

On that same token, I find it hard to believe that the mascot (token single hot guy) was single, as well. Then again, he was the mascot.

I wish I’d had parents like these. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have uber-strict parents, but who wouldn’t want a set of parental units that all but look the other way and go along with whatever you ask them to?

This film does have a little bit of a negative, though. The lagging middle section that almost all films have.  In this case, it really seems to almost bring the film to a grinding halt, because it is such a departure from the way the film was going. It is like the C section of a poem that goes ABABABCAB, for example. It is just random.

This cast is truly remarkable. Emma Stone owns this film, much the same way she commands your attention in everything she’s in. It must be the red hair and the husky voice.

Amanda Bynes is cute and funny in this, just as she always is. I found it funny that this character would work perfect as the daughter of her mother from Hairspray. Not bad for someone who was retired, huh?

For once Stanley Tucci is not playing a gay man, though he does mention he’s experimented. He and Patricia Clarkson are great in their small roles as Olive’s parents.

Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow are great in their roles. Much like the parents, I wish we cold have gotten a bit more, but there is sch a thing as too much of agood thing, right?

Penn Badgely, as I mentioned before, is nothing more than the token hot guy. He isn’t really that great of an actor, but in a role like this where all he has to do is swoop in and save the day, it seems to work for him.

Aly Michalka, of Aly & AJ fame, surprised me. I didn’t know she could actually act (if you can call it that). She does what she has to, though, which is appear to be the hot best friend. Although, the only thing she has on Emma Stone is a bigger bra size (implants, methinks).

How often does a film come along that both audiences and critics agree on? Easy A is one of those films. If you don’t know who Emma Stone is, you will by the end of this flick, trust me. The one thing that sticks out the most to me about this flick is how it appears to have been made by someone who was a fan of those John Hughes films of the 80s and wanted to make one for today’s audiences. I think they did a good job of doing so, but you’ll have to find out for yourself.

5 out of 5 stars

Mr. Magoo

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Mr. Quincy Magoo (Leslie Nielsen) is an eccentric millionaire with very bad eyesight who refuses to use eyeglasses and therefore always gets into trouble. During a museum robbery he accidentally gets a priceless gem called the Star of Kuristan, and begins to trace the way for the arch-criminals whose idea was to steal the gem – Austin Cloquet (Malcolm McDowell) and Ortega “The Piranha” Peru (Miguel Ferrer), while two federal agents Stupak (Stephen Tobolowsky) and Anders (Ernie Hudson) lead the manhunt for Mr. Magoo himself.

REVIEW:

 We have a station, or network, down here called RTV, where they play lots of stuff from days gone by. It seems to be mainly focused on the 80s, which is just fine for me. The great thing about this channel is that these shows are remastered or anything, but are shown just as they were back then.

On Saturday mornings, they even have a block of cartoons from yesteryear, including He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Fat Albert, She-Ra, BraveStarr, etc. Between these cartoons they show various shorts such as the Dick Tracy cartoon from the 60s or Mr. Magoo.

This is what brought me to watch Mr. Magoo tonight.

Now, previous films that are based on old cartoons seem to have a polarizing effect. In some cases, critics love them but audiences hate it, and in other cases it’s the reverse. For Mr. Magoo, it is the former.

In manner similar to Dudley Do-Right, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Inspector Gadget, and George of the Jungle, this film does everything it can to more or less bring the cartoon from the proverbial drawing board to live action on the big screen.

I don’t know how many of you have actually seen a Mr. Magoo cartoon or read the comic strip. If you haven’t, then the basic premise is that this nearly blind man stumbles around causing accidents and endangering everyone but himself, yet he is oblivious to what is going on.

That is basically the plot of this film, bt of course they have to bring in some extra characters and throw in some sort of crime heist to frame the lovable, rich, old man.

I would have been just fine if they would have just left it with him stumbling around causing accidents and what not. There really was no need to bring in this crime heist scenario. The best parts of the film involve Magoo being Magoo, not this fluff-puff plot they shoved in here.

They do make up for that useless plot with the brilliant animation sequences that bookend the film. These harken back to the cartoon. I actually thought the voice actor,  Greg Burson, was the voice of Magoo from back then, but it turns out he is just really close to having the same voice.

Casting Leslie Nielsen as Mr. Magoo was a stroke of genius. Then again, who else could pull this off? I’d say George Carlin, but then again….nah, he’s not family friendly enough.

Jennifer Garner makes a decent big screen presence (this was before she was a big star), but her accent was bad…very bad!

Malcolm McDowell is evil as always. Would you expect less?

Make no mistake, this is not a great flick, bt it is one of those films the whole family an sit down and enjoy. Even those that get offended by any and everything can enjoy this. If you’re in the mood for a good, clean, funny film, then check out Mr. Magoo.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

There’s No Business Like Show Business

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1919, Terrance (Dan Dailey) and Molly (Ethel Merman) Donahue, a husband-and-wife vaudeville team known as The Donahues, pursue both success and a stable family life. As the years pass, their act becomes The Five Donahues with the addition of their children, Steve, Katy and Tim. Worried that the children will suffer from their nomadic lifestyle, Molly persuades Terry to send them to a Catholic boarding school, but the youngsters, missing both their parents and the thrill of performing, continually try to run away.

Comforted by Father Dineen’s assurances that the children are better off with them, Terry and Molly buy a home in New Jersey for their brood, but when the Depression hits, Terry and Molly are forced to take whatever jobs they can find, including singing for radio advertisements and working at a carnival.

Eventually, movie theaters come to their rescue by providing live stage entertainment before showings, and the Donahues are back to performing. In 1937, Tim graduates from high school, and the act becomes The Five Donahues once again, with Katy (Mitzi Gaynor) concentrating on dancing, Steve (Johnnie Ray) demonstrating an admirable singing voice, and Tim (Donald O’Connor) being an all-around performer like his father.

The family is a success and have soon hit the top, performing in a show at the famed Hippodrome Theatre in New York, where their extravagant performance of “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” thrills the audience with each family member taking a turn at a themed segment.

One night after a show, a worried Molly and Terry return home alone while Katy goes out on a date, Steve takes a walk and the womanizing Tim goes out with an older chorus girl. Katy and Tim both wind up at a nightclub, Gallagher’s Golden Pheasant Room, where Tim teases Victoria Hoffman, (Marilyn Monroe) a hatcheck girl about the unnatural elocution her singing teacher has instructed her to practice.

Vicky forgets Tim’s wisecracks though, when Eddie, her agent, informs her that he has persuaded famed producer Lew Harris to visit the club. With the help of her co-workers, Vicky gets onstage and impresses Lew and Tim with her singing. Backstage, Vicky learns that Tim is one of the well-known Donahues, but quickly dismisses him in order to talk business with Harris.

Back at the Donahue home, Molly and Terry welcome Katy and then Steve, who informs his family that he wants to become a priest. Terry is distraught over his son’s decision, but their discussion is interrupted by the appearance of Tim, who got drunk after being dismissed by Vicky. Escorting Tim upstairs to sleep it off and nearly drowning him by dunking his head into a large sink to sober him up, Molly worries aloud if he hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew. Tim goes to sleep and Molly goes downstairs to deal with Katy being out all night, with her six-dollar and twenty-cent cab ride home, and with Steve’s decision to become a priest.

Katy tells her father not to be so shocked and disappointed, because maybe Steve could end up a cardinal. Wailing in frustration, Terry tells the family that the only cardinal he wants in his family is one who plays ball for St. Louis (the St. Louis Cardinals).

Later, having accepted Steve’s choice, the family throws him a farewell party with songs, dances and impressions, the centerpiece of which is a performance of their parents’ old act by Tim and Katy. Steve tells the assembly that after his new act is worked up in the seminary after four years, he hopes everybody will come, and follows this with an uptempo jazz-influenced gospel number. Molly is crying afterward and Terry is just about to, but they both understand that eventually the bird has to leave the nest and go out on his own.

After the party, the rechristened Four Donahues accept an engagement in Miami. Upon arrival, Tim is thrilled to find that Vicky, now known as Vicky Parker, is also appearing there; however she is performing a considerably more sensual version of the same “Heat Wave” number as the family. After falling in complete lust with Vicky’s performance, Tim gives his approval for her to perform the number without checking with the family beforehand.

Vicky is a sensation and, although she gently shrugs off his proposals so that she can focus on her career, Tim falls in love with her as a result. Molly, still irate that Vicky “stole” her song, is further irritated upon learning that Harris is staging a Broadway revue around Vicky, and that Vicky wants Tim and Katy to join her without Molly and Terry.

Realizing what a great opportunity this is, Terry persuades Molly to let the kids go and she agrees, on one condition. They have to take the four expensive Cuban costumes as well, originally intended for the family’s version of the “Heat Wave” number they let Vicky perform instead. They all share a laugh, and soon Molly and Terry are performing on their own again while Tim and Katy rehearse with Vicky in New York.

Katy begins dating lyricist Charlie Gibbs, and after Steve is ordained, he asks whether or not Steve can perform a small wedding ceremony in the near future. Shocked and annoyed, Katy demands who Charlie plans to marry with her brother officiating, and Charlie sweetly tells her that she’s the candidate. Having heard none of this in advance, Katy is pleasantly surprised and they set the date.

Tim continues dating Vicky, but one night, a wardrobe mistress passes in the hallway with a new dress, telling Vicky that Harris had selected it as her opening statement. Feeling that the dress makes the most completely inappropriate opening statement, she phones back to the club and postpones her dinner date with Tim in order to discuss the matter with Harris. The costume designer, a tall, spare haute-couture man chimes in correcting her that the color is not purple, it’s `heliotrope’. Vicky angrily complains that no matter whether the dress is heliotrope, hydrangea or petunia it’s still the wrong shade of purple for her, not to mention being in the most completely unflattering style. Harris, equally annoyed, reminds Vicky that the dress cost $1500, and that’s not heliotrope.

Vicky loses track of time and stands Tim up, and Tim, mistakenly assuming that Vicky is having an affair with Harris, gets drunk and comes back to the theatre where he confronts Vicky about her supposed affair. Stung by the accusation, and annoyed that a fellow performer such as Tim who was born to the business of performing should chastise her for trying to follow her love of the theatre and doing whatever it took to reach her goals, Vicky denies all, but spurns Tim in his drunken state as well.

Tim leaves the theatre with one of the chorus girls, goes out and gets even more drunk as a result of being spurned by Vicky, and becomes involved in a car accident. Molly and Terry learn of the accident just hours before opening night of the show for which Vicky and Katy have been rehearsing and Terry goes down to the hospital to confront Tim about his conduct. Tim rebuffs the advice as hammish and corny, whereupon Terry slaps him across the face and storms out.

In the meantime, Molly has gone down to the theatre to be with Katy in this trying time. Lew Harris is beside himself and trying to decide if he should postpone the opening, but Molly, who has been rehearsing extensively with Katy, convinces Harris that while she’ll have to fake the dancing, a feat with which she’s been getting away for decades, she can go on in Tim’s place.

After all is decided the show is a resounding success on opening night. The next day Terry and Molly go back to the hospital to pick up Tim but discover that he has vanished, leaving behind a note apologizing for his behavior. Molly and Terry are both heartbroken, but decide to take action.

While Molly continues to perform in the show, the Donahues hire private detectives to search for Tim, and they scour the clubs and bars of New York looking for him. After almost a year, Steve joins the Army as a chaplain, while Molly still blames Vicky for Tim’s disappearance.

When Molly tells Terry that the Donahues are being sought for a benefit performance at the Hippodrome before it is closed the following May, Terry shows no interest and instead disappears by train to search for Tim. During the montage, we see him reminisce about all the good times they shared since Tim was little.

Months later, on the day of the benefit, Katy, who has become close friends with Vicky, arranges for her to share a dressing room with Molly. Annoyed at the arrangement, Molly begins to pack up and head upstairs for some peace and quiet. However, at Katy’s urging, Vicky convinces Molly of her genuine love for Tim and Molly buys it.

Finally forgiving Vicky, Molly is also comforted by the arrival of Steve, who tells her not to lose hope. As Molly perform`s “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” Steve and Katy watch from the wings, then Tim, wearing a US Navy uniform, appears.

Molly hesitates when she sees Tim, but completes the number before running offstage to embrace her son. Tim tells her that he had to work things out for himself, and the family is finally complete when Terry joins them a few minutes later, having come to see the benefit after all. Thrilled to be reunited, The Five Donahues, with Vicky holding Tim’s hand, go onstage and happily reprise their version of “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”

The six principals march down a flight of stairs out of view and a chorus of men and women all in multicolored flowing attire circle around the perimeter going up and down the stairs singing the title song. The six principals then come up on a platform in the middle thereof, adding their vocals to the chorus, and the film concludes with their finale

REVIEW:

 If you’re a fan of musicals, then how can you not know Ethel Merman’s rendition of “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. That song, from Annie Get Your Gn, is the basis for this entertaining film.

As with all musicals, the thing that can make or break There’s No Business Like Show Business for the viewer, or should at least, is the music. While the songs are oft time catchy, not all are memorable.

The titular track and the song “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” stand out, but there some other songs that make one sit up and take notice, but there are other’s that are a bit overrated, such as Marilyn Monroe’s “Heat Wave”.

The plot in this film worked just fine to begin with. A showbiz family wanting to settle down…blah, blah, blah, but then it suddenly fast forwards and we see the kids all grown up and performing with their parents, and then leaving them high and dry for dinner, which in turn leads to certain chance meetings and decisions that influence that latter half of the film.

The sets in the film are spectacular. Of course, for a film that revolves primarily around the theater, what would you expect, right?

The cast is top-notch, with sch heavy weights as Ethel Merman, Donald O’Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, Marilyn Monroe, Dan Dailey, and pop singer Johnnie Ray.

If there is a weak link (or two), it would have to be Monroe. In this film, she seems to be trying to break away from the ditzy blonde roles she normally portrays. Her character even is trying to do the same. The problem is, I just wasn’t buying it. I’m not sure why. I mean, she’s good enough, bt just wasn’t convincing, I guess.

The other not as weak link would have to be Johnnie Ray. Now, this guy is no actor, so I take that into consideration. He’s also not involved in too many scenes, but when he is on-screen, it seems as if the life is sucked out of the room. I don’t know why this is, bt that’s the way it felt to me.

Musicals have been hit or miss with me lately, so it was great to watch one that was actually a delight from start to finish. Sure, it lagged on a bit in the middle, but the finale more than makes up for that. While this isn’t the greatest musical in the world, I would say it should go on your films to see before you die list.

4 out of 5 stars

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1996, after the death of SpaceGodzilla, Birth Island is found destroyed. Godzilla’s adopted son, Little Godzilla, is presumed dead at first but later reveals himself as a larger and more powerful sub-adult due to the excess radiation and is re-named Godzilla Junior. Godzilla, covered in glowing lava-like rashes, enters Hong Kong and destroys most of the city. G-Force representatives hire college student Kenichi Yamane, the grandson of Dr. Kyohei Yamane, to come work at the center in an attempt to unravel the mystery of Godzilla’s condition.

Yamane suspects that Godzilla has absorbed too much atomic energy and is having a nuclear heart attack. His death would result in triggering an atmospheric chain reaction which will take Japan, and the entire Earth with him. G-Force deploys a flying combat vehicle outfitted with anti-nuclear cold weapons to forestall this; the Super X III. Strange life forms appear where the original Godzilla died, and a host of deadly creatures called Destoroyah begin wreaking havoc. Soil samples reveal that Destoroyah is connected to the Oxygen Destroyer used against the first Godzilla in 1954, which mutated Precambrian era life forms. After several deadly skirmishes with the Japan Self-Defense Forces, the Destoroyah evolve beyond the J.S.D.F.’s containment abilities and psychic Miki Saegusa must use her failing powers to lure Junior to the area in an attempt to combat Destoroyah in Tokyo. Godzilla, who is searching for his son, follows Junior, but complications arise. Due to his encounter with the Super X III, Godzilla will meltdown once his body reaches 1,200 degrees Celsius and the Earth will be destroyed.

During Junior’s first battle, he is wounded. Godzilla and Junior meet in Narita, but Destoroyah returns in his final form. Destoroyah knocks down Godzilla and kidnaps Junior, dropping him from an extreme altitude that brings the child monster close to death. Godzilla, enraged, attacks Destoroyah and a battle ensues that destroys Tokyo. Born from the only weapon to ever kill a Godzilla, Destoroyah shows an advantage, but Godzilla’s radioactivity has increased his own power. Destoroyah’s body decomposes into many smaller Destoroyah which attempt to swarm Godzilla from all sides, but Godzilla uses his nuclear pulse to incinerate the miniature Destoroyahs.

Alone at last Godzilla tries to revive Junior but, he fails. Overcome by grief, Godzilla’s heart continues to fail. Suddenly, Destoroyah returns for one last attack. Godzilla’s demise begins, resulting in his power increasing once again significantly. In a fury of rage, Godzilla begins reigniting Destoroyah with his powerful atomic rays, severely burning and injuring the beast. Destoroyah then attempts to escape, but the military shoots and blows off his wings. Destoroyah falls out of the air but Godzilla doesn’t move. When Destoroyah hits the ground, because of the extreme change in temeperatures from the ice rays and Godzilla superheating the ground, Destoroyah explodes. As Godzilla reaches meltdown, and begins to die, the Super X III freezes him with ice beams to stop him from the destroying the planet and are successful. Godzilla’s final moments of life are long, and strenuous as he is overcome with immense pain, with his flesh and body slowly melting away. The King of the Monsters gives one last faint roar before he becomes nothing more than a pile of melted flesh and ashes. But in his final moments, he transfers his last supply of energy over to the fallen Junior.

The victory is a costly one however, for the radiation has made Tokyo an uninhabitable city. Suddenly, radiation levels begin to drop, and from within the thinning smoke, is a revived and full grown Godzilla Junior, the new King of the Monsters.

REVIEW:

 Like many movie fans out there, I knew there were a ton of Godzilla movies, but had only seen a handful, most recently Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. Usually, on Saturday afternoons, in case you hadn’t noticed, I watch westerns, but I decided to go the sci-fi giant monster route today, and what better classic giant movie monster is there than Godzilla?

Now, this is one of those Godzilla films that reverts him back to his primitive ways, which is fine, but in doing so, they also seem to be trying to get across some sort of preachy message. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if it wasn’t done so in-your-face.

Let’s face it, Godzilla is a monster who was created as a result of nuclear testing, so we can’t rightly expect them to skirt around the nuclear aspect of him, but there is such a thing as beating a dead horse, which is exactly what they seem to be doing.

Now, if you’re familiar with Godzilla movies, you know they almost all involve the giant lizard suddenly appearing in the ocean outside of Tokyo and the rest of the film is spent watching the bad English dubbing over the Japanese acting as they try to figure out how to stop him before he reaches the city.

Well, that is sort of the same plot here, but we throw in the fact that Godzilla looks like some sot of special edition version of himself. Think of He-Man, then there was Thunder Punch He-Man, Battle Armor He-Man, etc. Well, Godzilla looked like he had just been painted red and yellow. Apparently, this all has to do with the face that he’s about to have a nuclear heart attack. Yeah, don’t ask me, it makes no sense other than to let them have a reason to kill off Godzilla and bring in Junior.

Believe it or not, that, nor the preachy tone of the film are my biggest issues with it, but rather the way the military doesn’t seem to care and just adopts a willy-nilly “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude. Who do they think they are, the Americans?

Seriously, though, they came off as so cold and uncaring, except for the two ladies who were mind linked, or whatever, to Junior.

Lost amongst all this seems to be the film’s antagonist, Destoroyah, who seems to be another inadvertent creation of the government and military. The oxygen destroyer that was used in the original Godzilla film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, apparently did something to the soil, and these creatures mutated out of it. Somehow, though, with the exception of the climatic fight with both Godzillas and the attack on the city, the military just seems to ignore these things because they’re more obsessed with killing Godzilla. How one-track minded can you get?

This was made in the mid-late 90s, so one would expect them to take advantage of the technology available, but for some reason, they sets are very reminiscent of the early Godzilla pictures, where they look like they were taken from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. I don’t have a problem with that. I actually, prefer the toy look, but given that Godzilla no longer looks like a man in a suit, they should have upgraded.

When all the dust settles, is Godzilla vs. Destoroyah a decent entry into the Godzilla legend? Well, I won’t go that far, but it is superior to that 1998 blasphemous attempt. This film has its moments, but it just seems like it is trying too hard to pay homage to the original film and at the same time create something new, failing at both tasks. I think that without the monsters, this would have been an unwatchable film. Your best bet is to stay away from this, unless you’re a Godzilla fan and want to see all of his movies.

3 out of 5 stars

Caveman

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , on February 25, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Atouk (Starr) is a bullied and scrawny caveman living in “One Zillion BC – October 9th” He lusts after the beautiful but shallow Lana (Bach), who is the mate of Tonda (Matuszak), their tribe’s physically imposing bullying leader. After being banished along with his friend Lar (Quaid), Atouk falls in with a band of assorted misfits, among them the comely Tala (Long) and the elderly blind man Gog (Gilford). The group has ongoing encounters with hungry dinosaurs, and rescues Lar from a “nearby ice age”, where they encounter an abominable snowman. In the course of these adventures they discover sedative drugs, fire, cooking, music, and learn how to walk fully upright. Atouk uses these advancements to lead an attack on Tonda, overthrowing him and becoming the tribe’s new leader. He discards Lana and takes Tala as his mate, and they live happily ever after.

REVIEW:

 When I was in junior high, a friend and I would mess around playing the theme song to this in band. Neither of us had actually seen it at that time, but we both thought it was cool. Now, years later, I still love said theme, and I may like the movie just as much.

For those of you not familiar with Caveman, this is basically a film about the lives of cavemen. The plot revolves around your typical scrawny, misfit that doesn’t fit in and his affection for the tribe hottie, who belongs to the alpha male, if you will.

Something that is quite interesting about this film is the fact that in the 91 minute runtime, only a handful of modern English words are spoken, and those are said as a joke. I heard this and it sort of scared me off. Films that have little to no spoken words don’t usually work for me, but somehow the grunts in this film somehow elicited a different response from me.

If you’ve ever seen Wall-E, then you can sort of get an idea of what to expect. In that film, the only words spoken (in the first hour) are various mechanical noises from Wall-E, Eve, and then that cockroach. That same charm is what makes this flick work, when it could very well have been a snorefest.

Aside from the surprise of not being bored by there not being any actual words in the picture, the physical comedy is what makes this an absolute delight. Even more impressive is that these aren’t comedians doing such a great job.

Sure, Shelly Long has had some comedic roles, but nothing Chevy Chase like, which is what this film basically called for. Also, who thinks of Dennis Quaid when they think comedy? Ringo Starr? Somehow they all work together, though.

One of the things that I wasn’t sure about with this film was the use of stop motion. I’m one of the few people who loves stop motion animation almost as much as traditional hand drawn animation. I love the works of Ray Harryahusen, but he didn’t do this film, but you can tell he influenced the guy that did.

When I first saw the creations he made, I thought they were a bit cartoony. Then I sat back and realized that they fit the tone of the film.

I loved this picture, but, make no mistake, it isn’t for everyone. No, there isn’t anything offensive…unlessy ou have issue with scantily clad, busty cavewomen being treated like possessions by the men, but certain themes are sure to send certain sensitive viewers into a tizzy. That point aside, those of us that aren’t stick in the muds can truly enjoy a film like this and relish in its simplicity. Watch and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A new hero has arrived in Gotham whose identity is a mystery—even to Batman. During patrol, the Dynamic Duo spots her trying to stop one of Penguin’s shipments on Gotham’s interstate and apparently would use lethal force after seeing her using a plasma rifle sending Penguin’s truck with its driver off the bridge. Batman and Robin saves the driver from falling to his death. Batman must figure out who Batwoman is and to stop familiar enemies Penguin and Rupert Thorne from selling illegal weapons to the fictional nation of Kasnia. The two employ Carlton Duquesne, a gangster, to provide protection.

Batwoman’s main focus is on illegal activity by the Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne. Despite taking the symbol of the Bat as a sign of justice, Batwoman sullies the Bat prefix by taking out criminals with ruthless and dangerous techniques. She seems uninterested in sparing the lives of her adversaries.

Batman, with Robin, sets out to stop the Batwoman from making mistakes as she tries to take out the villains, and as he encounters numerous twists, setbacks, and apparent false leads in determining her true identity. The newest gadget on display is a wind glider used by Batwoman that utilizes some of the most advanced technology ever seen in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego, also becomes involved with a new lady in his life: Kathy Duquesne, the crime boss’s daughter.

In addition to Kathy Duquesne, Bruce is introduced to two other women who, as his investigation continues into who the Batwoman is, seem to fall well into suspicion: Dr. Roxanne “Rocky” Ballantine, a new employee of Wayne Tech whose technology development is used by the Batwoman against the Penguin; and by Detective Bullock’s new partner Sonya Alcana, whose knowledge of the weapons being smuggled by the Penguin and Carlton Dunquesne is much greater than the detective should know.

With Carlton Duquesne unable to stop Batwoman’s raids on the various facilities used to hold the various weapons, the Penguin calls Bane for additional support to ensure that there are no more losses as a result of the Batwoman. Not long after Bane’s arrival in Gotham, it is revealed that there is not one but three Batwomen, all of whom were the women suspected by Batman; Kathy and Sonia met taking art classes at college and Sonia and Rocky were roommates. They had taken turns to remove suspicion on any one of the three, while using Roxanne’s technological genius and contempt for the Penguin (who had framed her long-time fiance Kevin), Kathy’s money and access to several key aspects of her father’s organization (and desires her father’s criminal career would end as it led her mother being killed), and Sonia’s physical and police skills to ensure that Thorne’s operation is thwarted (as the crime lord previously left her family in financial ruins after arsonists who worked for him burned down her parents’ shop). Alcana was also saved by Batman nine years prior, the event giving the detective the original inspiration for the costumed identity she now shares with her friends.

In the final confrontation, a ship taking the weapons into international waters for the exchange is destroyed by a bomb planted by Kathy. She and Batman narrowly escape the explosion despite the efforts of Bane, who is seemingly killed as he falls into the Gotham River. At the conclusion, the GCPD are left to assume that Sonia is the only Batwoman after she helps rescue Batman from the ship. Sonia resigns from the police due to the potential problems her presence could cause and decides to leave the city. Batman gives Sonia evidence he discovered which helps clear Rocky’s fiance. Carlton agrees to testify against Thorne and the Penguin after saving Kathy’s life during the ship’s destruction. After she reconciles with her father, Kathy drives off with Bruce.

REVIEW:

 I’m a big fan of Batman, although I’m not such a fan of Christopher Nolan’s movies (I think I may in the extreme minority on that). As much as we know about Batman and Robin, we rarely get anything about Batwoman.

She’s appeared in a couple of the various Batman cartoon, most recently, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but for the most part, the female bat-role is filled by Batgirl.

You can imagine my delight when I see a film that intended to give Batwoman the spotlight. Unfortunately, though, this film drops the ball with the character.

No, this is not a bad flick. They just do some kind of weird mutation of her. I’m sure there are some out there that are going to jump all over me for being a purist, but for goodness sakes, this is made by many of the same people who make the comic. Can you seriously sit there and tell me that they couldn’t keep Batwoman’s origin the way it should be, instead of this weird, slightly confusing tale?

That point aside, this is one of the really great animated flicks I’ve seen in recent history.

The story is full of mystery, intrigue and action. All of these things are done very well, especially in the short runtime.

Where the plot excelled, the animation went even further. Remember the days when we could watch hand drawn animated features? This is one of those that will definitely make you remember and wish for those days.

There are two weak parts. The first has to deal with Robin. Now, I didn’t understand the notion behind brining him in and not really utilizing him. Now, I may be getting my timeline confused, because he seemed to still be in training. If that was the case, then it makes sense, but otherwise, use the boy for something other than running sitting in the Bat-boat.

The other issue I have is with the voice cast. I bow down to the mastery of Kevin Conroy as Batman. No one does it better. However, David Ogden Stiers just didn’t work for me as the Penguin and Kelly Ripa’s voice just seemed out of place.

Both of these may be because I’m used to hearing them in other places, but then I think…it didn’t affect my opinion of Hector Elizondo or Kyra Sedgewick as Bane and Batowman, respectively.

When all the dust clears, this film falls short of the animated series or some of the other animated films that were released around this time. Having said that, though, this is a very enjoyable film. I found myself riveted the entire time and couldn’t tear myself away from the screen. Despite its faults, there is plenty of reason to watch Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars