Archive for May, 2011

The Haunted World of El Supebeasto

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film follows the adventures of El Superbeasto (Tom Papa), a suave, yet violent exploitation film director/ former masked wrestler, and his sultry sidekick and sister Suzi-X (Sheri Moon Zombie) as they confront the evil Dr. Satan (Paul Giamatti). The adventure, set in the mythic world of Monsterland, also features Murray the Robot (Brian Posehn), based on the robot in The Phantom Creeps starring Béla Lugosi.

REVIEW:

So, this has to be one of the stranger films I’ve seen n my day. I say that knowing good and well that I actually enjoyed The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.

Let’s get one thing straight here, first, though. Yes, this is a cartoon, but no it is most definitely not for kids. To put in persepctive…if you wouldn’t let kids watch something like Cool World or Heavy Metal, then this isn’t for them either.

There actually is a plot to this madness. Something about some nerd growing up to be the guy who wants to take over the world. (this is a cartoon after all).

Yes, the story is weak, but it is the characters that really make it interesting.

For instance, the titular character, El Superbeasto is a masked wrestler/movie director of some sort who dresses like he’s stuck in the 70s and is about as cocky as you would think and then some.

His sister is a buxom blonde spy with an eyepatch and a robot with a crush on her.

Dr. Satan was a nerd in high school with an infatuation on Sheri-X.

I could go on for days listing these characters. I don’t want to make this comparison, for fear some my find it offensive, but it was like an episode of The Simpsons in some ways, at least with the wide variety of characters.

Further proving this is an adult cartoon, there are plenty of animated boobs flying around, as well as an opening scenes complete with cartoon sex. I wasn’t really impressed with that, and the gratuitous boobage seemed a bit forced, especially with the way they seemed to keep pointing it out.

It was kind of like, “here, these are boobs! look!”  That was actually on the insulting side, if you ask me.

The animation is actually quite good. It is nice to know that people can still hand draw stuff…even if this film is a few years old.

What is my ultimate verdict on The Haunted World of El Superbeasto? Well, for one thing, Netflix can stop showing it on the screen everytime I go the page. Second, this actually wasn’t half bad. I initially was just looking for a film to kill some time and this did just that. No, this isn’t a film that is meant to change the world or anything like, but Rob Zombie’s foray into the world of animation does leave the audience with some good laughs. This isn’t for everyone, but if you think you can handle it, check it out sometime!

4 out of 5 stars

Full Metal Jacket

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert):

During the Vietnam War, a group of new United States Marine Corps recruits arrives at Parris Island for recruit training. After having their heads shaved, they meet their drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey). Hartman, tasked with producing battle-ready Marines, immediately begins abusing his recruits in an attempt to harden them. The film focuses its attention on Privates “Joker” (Matthew Modine) and “Cowboy” (Arliss Howard), while the overweight Leonard Lawrence (Vincent D’Onofrio) draws the wrath of Hartman, who nicknames him “Gomer Pyle”.

Unresponsive to Hartman’s constant discipline, Pyle is paired with Joker. With this help, Pyle begins to improve, but progress is halted when Hartman discovers a jelly doughnut in Pyle’s foot locker. Feeling that the recruits have not helped in motivating Pyle properly, Hartman decides to adopt a policy of collective punishment: For each time Pyle makes a mistake, Hartman will not punish Pyle, but will punish the rest of the platoon. As a result, during one night the platoon hazes Pyle with a blanket party, pinning him to his bunk with a blanket and beating him with bars of soap wrapped in towels. Joker reluctantly joins in and beats Pyle several times. In the following weeks, Pyle undergoes a transformation, becoming a model Marine, which impresses Hartman. However, Pyle also displays signs of mental breakdown – including social withdrawal and talking to his M14. This leaves Joker concerned for Pyle’s well being.

After graduation, each recruit receives an assignment to an occupational specialty, with most, including Pyle, being sent to the infantry, though Joker is assigned to Basic Military Journalism, which earns him the ridicule of Hartman. On the platoon’s last night on Parris Island, Joker is assigned to fire watch, during which he discovers Pyle in the head loading his rifle with live ammunition. Joker attempts to calm Pyle, who begins shouting, executing drill commands, and reciting the Rifleman’s Creed. The noise awakens the entire platoon and Hartman, with the latter confronting Pyle. Pyle fatally shoots Hartman, then aims his rifle at Joker, who pleads to Pyle to “go easy”. Pyle finally manages to calm down, but, being shocked at murdering Hartman, commits suicide.

The film jumps to January 1968; Joker has become a corporal and a Marine Combat Correspondent in Vietnam with Stars and Stripes, assigned to a public-affairs unit with Private First Class Rafterman (Kevyn Major Howard), a combat photographer. Rafterman wants to go into combat, as Joker claims he has done, though one of his colleagues mocks Joker’s inexperience, claiming he doesn’t have the thousand-yard stare. The sound of nearby gunfire interrupts their argument: the North Vietnamese Army has begun the Tet Offensive and attempts to overrun the base.

The journalism staff is briefed the next day about enemy attacks throughout South Vietnam. Joker’s commander, Lt. Lockhart, sends Joker to Phu Bai, a Marine forward operating-base near Huế. Rafterman accompanies him to get combat experience. There, they meet the Lusthog Squad, where Cowboy is now a Sergeant and second-in-command. Joker accompanies the squad during the Battle of Huế, during which the enemy kills their commander, Lt. Touchdown (Ed O’Ross).

During a patrol north of the Perfume River, Crazy Earl (Kieron Jecchinis), the team’s new squad leader, is killed by a booby trap, leaving Cowboy in command. The squad becomes lost in the rubble, and Cowboy orders Eightball (Dorian Harewood) to recon an area, where the latter is shot several times by a sniper. Fearing that the squad is walking into a trap, Cowboy calls for a tank via a radio. Fearing that Eightball will not make it, the squad’s medic, Doc Jay (John Stafford) attempts to retrieve Eightball against orders, but is shot numerous times in the process. The sniper refrains from killing the wounded men with the intention of drawing more of the squad into the killing zone. Cowboy learns via the radio that the tank is not available for assistance and orders the team to prepare for withdrawal, but the squad’s machine gunner, Animal Mother (Adam Baldwin), disobeys Cowboy’s order and moves up to the open to try to indicate the sniper’s location. Animal Mother learns that there is only a sniper and no other threat in the area, but Doc Jay and Eightball succumb to their wounds. Animal Mother requests to the rest of the team to move up. As the squad maneuvers to locate the sniper’s hidden position, Cowboy is shot and killed.

With Cowboy dead, Animal Mother assumes command of the survivors. Under the cover of smoke grenades, the squad advances on the sniper’s position where Joker locates the enemy soldier on an upper floor. His rifle jams as he tries to shoot. The sniper, revealed to be a young girl, hears Joker’s gun clicking and opens fire on him. Joker takes cover behind one of the building’s support beams, which barely provides enough protection. Just as it appears that Joker is going to be killed, he is saved by Rafterman who shoots the sniper and kicks her gun away after she falls to the ground. As Animal Mother and other Marines of the squad converge, the mortally wounded sniper begins to pray and repeatedly begs for death, prompting an argument about whether or not to kill her. Animal Mother decides to allow a mercy killing only if Joker performs it. After some hesitation, Joker shoots her with his sidearm. The Marines congratulate him on his kill as Joker stares into the distance. The film concludes with the Marines marching toward their bivouac, singing the Mickey Mouse March. Joker states that despite being “in a world of shit” that he is glad to be alive, and is unafraid.

REVIEW:

A good number of my friends from high school chose to forgo/postpone college after graduation and head to the Marines. Now that they’ve finished they’re time in the service, they all seem to be putting a little bug in my ear to watch this film, so I finally caved.

Full Metal Jacket is a war drama that is told in such a way that you would think it is two separate stories. Before I go on, let me clear up that the title has nothing to do with Full Metal Alchemist (it’d be cool if it did, though, huh?), but rather it is a term for the magazines of a rifle that Marines use.

The first half of the film is spent allowing the audience to watch a platoon of cadets go through basic training. It seems like that would be uninteresting, but the nonstop barrage of insults that the Sgt., played by R. Lee Emery, hurls at the men, especially “Gomer Pyle”, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, really makes it quite entertaining.

The second half is a bit more serious, as we follow Private (now Sergeant) Joker, played by Matthew Modine, as he is now on assignment in Vietnam as a reporter. Eventually, he is reunited with Cowboy and the audience is exposed to what it ‘Nam was like for them.

If you listened to 2 Live Crew back in the day, then you may recognize some lines that came directly from one of the prostitutes in the film.

This film does something that many war flicks don’t do and that is it doesn’t glorify war and/or basic training. It is gritty and violent, especially for 1987, but even though there are comedic moments, one does not forget that this is a war flick.

Some have said that the comedy was too much. I don’t really know what’s wrong with them. It fits perfectly and doesn’t take anything away. If you want a totally serious war flick, then go watch Saving Private Ryan.

So, what is my final opinion about this flick? It is a really great war film, perhaps even the best that I’ve seen. Sure, it has its flaws and all, but don’t all films? I highly recommend this film. you won’t be disappointed!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Tamara

Posted in Horror, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on May 25, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert):

Tamara, a shy and “unattractive” but intelligent girl, likes witchcraft and has a crush on Bill Natolly, her handsome English teacher. When a critical article she writes about the school’s athletes is published, two of the star athletes, Shawn and Patrick, want revenge. Tamara attempts to perform a magical ritual to bind her fate to that of her teacher, but when she must spill her own blood she ceases the ritual. That night, a prank is orchestrated by Shawn and Patrick along with Shawn’s girlfriend Kisha. Shawn calls Tamara, impersonating Mr. Natolly, and invites her to a motel room. A video camera is placed there and catches Tamara undressing. Shawn, Patrick, and Kisha watch this, along with three others who did not know about the prank (Chloe, Jesse, and Roger). Shawn comes in and taunts Tamara, and Tamara is accidentally killed in a struggle. Despite Chloe’s demands that they inform the police, she is blackmailed into helping bury Tamara.

However, they are shocked when Tamara walks into class, looking more attractive than ever before. They convince themselves that she was only unconscious and dug her way out of the ground. That night, while Roger is watching a movie in the school AV room, the image on the screen suddenly changes to the video of Tamara. Roger removes the tape and is confronted by Tamara. She torments him with hallucinations of what it is like to be buried alive and with his history of cutting himself. The next day, he sends a televised message to the entire school in which he proclaims that one should ‘hear no evil, speak no evil, and see no evil.’ He then cuts off his ear and tongue with a razor blade, then stabs himself in the eye and kills himself.

Tamara then visits the home of Mr. Natolly, intending to seduce him. He resists her, she says that ‘it is only a matter of time.’ The next day, she visits the school guidance counselor, Allison, who is Mr. Natolly’s wife. Tamara confronts Allison, mentioning Allison and Mr. Natolly’s infertility problems. Realizing that her father fantasizes about being with her and that his alcoholism drove her mother away, Tamara makes him “finish the bottle,” requiring him to eat a beer bottle. At a party, Tamara puts a spell on Patrick and Shawn, and forces them to have sex with each other, with Patrick raping Shawn as he has done to girls in the past. Kisha attempts to stop Tamara, but is incapacitated when Tamara begins to talk about Kisha’s eating disorder. Tamara tells Kisha that she is ‘skin and bone, and really should eat more.’ Kisha begins to eat herself into a stupor, but is taken away by Jesse and Chloe. When Chloe and Jesse call Mr. Natolly and tell him about what happened, Kisha (still under the spell) calls Tamara and tells her that Mr. Natolly knows. Kisha is knocked out by Chloe. Chloe, Jesse, and Mr. Natolly go to Tamara’s house, where they find the corpse of Tamara’s father and a spellbook describing the ritual Tamara tried to perform. They realize that when they killed Tamara that night, her blood was spilled, completing the ritual and allowing her to rise from the grave as what she is.

Meanwhile, Tamara, learning of what the others know, sends Shawn and Patrick to the Natolly residence to kill Allison. They try, but Allison accidentally kills them both. Kisha and Allison are both taken to the hospital and treated, but Kisha wakes up and chases down Jesse and Chloe, resulting in Jesse’s death. In the climax of the film on the roof of the hospital, Mr. Natolly, Allison, Chloe, and Tamara finally confront each other. Tamara is unable to control Chloe because of her being innocent and realizing the monster that she herself has become. She breaks down and slowly changes back into a corpse. Before fading away, Tamara asserts her will to be with Mr. Natolly and he appears to surrender to the inevitable. Mr. Natolly holds Tamara close and kisses her, then throws himself off the roof with Tamara. In the end, Chloe and Allison are fine, but Kisha, still apparently under the spell, takes the spell book.

REVIEW:

If you mix Carrie, Jennifer’s Body, and a hint of The Craft, then you get Tamara.

This independent horror film follows the exploits of a group of teenagers who decide it would be cool to play a prank on the “unattractive” girl, but that goes wrong, and let’s just say, what goes around comes around.

From what I understand, this film didn’t perform too well at the box office. As a matter of fact, if not for Netflix suggesting it, I would never even know about it. I can’t sit here and say that it was worth the 90 minutes I spent watching it, but it wasn’t totally horrible.

The good…as recycled and cliché and this story is, it works (even if it is quite obvious what is going to happen in the end). Tamara, played by Jenna Dewan, is a bona fide hottie, even when she’s supposed to be “unattractive”. The main cast members seem to have nice chemistry between themselves.

The bad…these are supposed to be high school students, yet they all look to be about my age. As I just mention, Tamara is hot, but if she was supposed to be unattractive, they could have done something more to her. Heck, give the girl acne, at least! The last few minutes of this film suddenly turn into a slasher flick. nothing particularly wrong with that, but the effects didn’t sell me, maybe because I had already lost almost all interest in this flick.

In the end, Tamara is not a film for everyone. I’m not big on horror films, so it wasn’t for me, but I’m sure there are those out there that would be more than willing to sit through this film over and over again. As far as the flick in general, it seems to be just a step above something you’d see late at night or on Syfy channel. don’t get me wrong, this film isn’t as bad I seem to be making out to be, but it isn’t great, either. Should you watch it? Well, if you do, its at your own risk.

3 out of 5 stars

McLintock!

Posted in Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , on May 24, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Cattle baron George Washington McLintock (John Wayne) is living the single life on his ranch. He is estranged from his wife Katherine (Maureen O’Hara), who left him two years before, suspecting him of adultery. He holds a record for throwing his hat up onto the longhorn-shaped weather vane at the top of his house every time he comes home drunk. McLintock hires beautiful widow Louise Warren (Yvonne De Carlo) as his cook and welcomes both her and her two children into his home. He also butts heads with Douglas, a sleazy bureaucrat who is looking to discredit McLintock, settle the territory, and remove the local Indians. Sparks begin to fly as an unexpected turn of events results in brawls, gunfire, an Indian attack…and the return of Mrs. McLintock, who wants custody over their daughter Becky (Stefanie Powers) (returning from college) and a divorce from G.W.

REVIEW:

It is no secret that I love westerns and comedies, so when I found out that McLintock! was a western comedy, I was super stoked to see it…not to mention it starred John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, and Yvonne de Carlo.

The premise of the film is that G.W. McLintock is retired from Indian hunting, or something of the sort, and is now a rancher, but suddenly, out of the blue his estranged wife shows up and throws things out of whack. The rest of the film is spent trying to convince the audience that she doesn’t still have feelings for him, even though it is quite apparent she does.

So, that may not sound like the most interesting of plots, unless you’re into chick flicks, but it actually works, and isn’t anywhere near as sappy as it sounds.

If you’re looking for your typical shootout type western, you won’t get it with McLintock!, I’m sorry to tell you. There actually are no gunfights, cattle rustlers, or anything of the sort, but there are Indians, if that helps.

This film seems to be more focused on showing life on the homestead and proving that everything in the west wasn’t fantastic duel at high noon and such. If that was the idea, than I think it did a damn good job of it.

The cast is outstanding! Wayne and O’Hara are great together as always, but Patrick Wayne (John’s real life son) really gets a chance to shine. I personally think that Yvonne de Carlo was either over hyped or underused here, though I’m not sure which.

If there is a flaw to this film, it has to be that it never really made me laugh. Sure, there were some chuckles, but for a film that is a “western comedy”, I expected to at least guffaw a couple of times, and that just didn’t happen.

Still, this is a film worthy of the Duke’s legacy. Should you see it? Yes, it has comedy, action, romance, and hint of deception…something for everyone. I give this one a high recommendation, but be wary that this isn’t your typical western.

4 out of 5 stars

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two Spanish fishermen find a man in their nets who claims to be a member of the crew of Juan Ponce de León who was supposed to have died two hundred years previously while on an expedition in search of the Fountain of Youth. The man is brought to Cadiz, Spain, before Spanish King Ferdinand VI. Ferdinand orders the head of his Secret Service, known only as The Spaniard, to find the fountain. Meanwhile in London, Joshamee Gibbs is mistaken as Jack Sparrow while being put on trial for his former captain’s piracy to be hanged. However, a mysterious Judge – Sparrow in disguise – sentences Gibbs to life in prison and transfers Gibbs to jail under minimum security. During their hoped escape, having apparently given up on finding the Fountain, Sparrow reveals he came due to an imposter before he and Gibbs are arrested by crown forces. Jack is brought before King George II, who forces Jack to guide a British expedition to find the Fountain of Youth, with his guide being Captain Hector Barbossa, now a Privateer in the King’s service. Barbossa reveals to Jack that he lost one of his legs and the Black Pearl. Jack reacts angrily to this before causing havoc and making his escape. He then reunites with his father, Captain Teague, who takes him into a tavern and warns Jack that the quest for the Fountain will test him. Nevertheless, Jack continues as Teague tells him of two silvery chalices needed for the Fountain, and then advises him to join a crew being gathered within the tavern.

Jack discovers that the crew is being gathered by the impostor using his name. The impostor turns out to be a former love of Jack’s named Angelica. After they escape from the palace guard, Angelica drugs Jack and has him taken aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge under the command of the cruel Blackbeard. After Jack leads a failed mutiny attempt with the shanhaied crew, with the ship’s cook killed off as a example to halt any future plot against himself, Blackbeard uses both a “bottled” Black Pearl and a voodoo doll in his image to force Jack to lead him to the Fountain. Blackbeard is revealed to be Angelica’s father, and his quest for the fountain is to achieve eternal life so as to break a prophecy that foretells his death at the hands of a one-legged-man. Back in England, Barbossa takes Gibbs, who has memorized Jack’s map before burning it, with him on theHMS Providence to find the Fountain. On the Revenge, Angelica reveals to Jack that a ritual must first take place at the fountain before one can drink from it involving Ponce de León’s two silver chalices and a mermaid’s tear. She explains that the person who drinks the chalice with the mermaid’s tear will have his or her life lengthened by stealing the remaining life of whomever drinks from the other chalice. The Revenge arrives at Whitecap Bay, where Blackbeard intends to capture a mermaid. The crew are attacked by Tamara, Queen of the Mermaids, and they eventually capture a young mermaid. She catches the fancy of Philip Swift, a captive missionary, who later names her Syrena.

After setting sail to make port at safer waters, Blackbeard sends Jack to find the Santiago, Ponce de León’s ship, to retrieve his silver chalices. Meanwhile, the Providence is destroyed by the mermaids as Barbossa, Gibbs, and a handful of men march through the jungles to find the Santiago. Finding Barbossa on the Santiago, Jack and he discover that the chalices were taken by The Spanish. Under the cover of the night, Jack and Barbossa steal the chalices from The Spaniard’s tent only to be captured. While held captive, Jack has Barbossa admit that he became a privateer so he can exact revenge on Blackbeard for taking the Pearl from him. After freeing themselves and escaping with the Chalices, Jack and Barbossa devise a plan to defeat Blackbeard and then part ways. As this occurs, Syrena and Philip develop feelings for one another. Blackbeard makes it appear as if Philip is left for dead after having his throat slit. However, Philip has only been drugged, and when he awakens and returns to free Syrena, who sheds a tear of joy, which Blackbeard collects. Blackbeard takes Philip with him while leaving a heart-broken Syrena tied to a tree. The next day, Jack rejoins Blackbeard’s party and hands over the silver chalices to him while regaining his compass and giving it to Gibbs.

After Blackbeard’s crew arrives to the Fountain, Barbossa emerges with his men as Blackbeard realized Sparrow set up the trap. A fierce fight breaks out, and after being mortally wounded, Philip makes his way back to Syrena and frees her from her bonds. The battle ends when the Spaniard arrives with his Battalion, revealing that he came to destroy the fountain as he throws the silver chalices away before ordering his men to tear the fountain apart. Barbossa then stabs a horrified Blackbeard with his sword, which has been coated with tree frog venom. Angelica runs to her father, cutting her hand on the poisoned sword while pulling it from her father’s body. Blackbeard’s shanghaied crew then join Barbossa, who takes Blackbeard’s sword as his own and takes his leave. Staying behind to save Angelica, Jack obtains the busted chalices from Syrena and fills them up with the fountain’s last drops. Taking advantage of Blackbeard’s evil nature, Jack tricks him into drinking from the wrong chalice, which saves Angelica while reducing her father into a skeleton.

As Syrena spirits Philip away into the depths, Barbossa takes command of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and renounces his oath of loyalty to Britain (even finding his old pirate hat on board the Revenge) as he sails for Tortuga. Knowing that Angelica kill him for her father’s death, Jack maroons her on a deserted island with a single pistol so not to starve. Though Angelica tries to woo her way back into his graces, Jack leaves her anyway and she wastes her shot trying to kill him. Jack rejoins Gibbs, who managed to steal the bottled Pearl along with a fleet of other shrunken ships and Blackbeard’s treasure. They then head off on an adventure to restore the Pearl to its original size. In a post-credits scene, Blackbeard’s voodoo doll of Jack washes ashore in front of Angelica. She picks it up, and smiles as she realizes she can have her revenge.

REVIEW:

Jack Sparrow is back in the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. I’ve read some rather harsh reviews about this film saying things like this is more of the same, the plot is just as confusing and convoluted as the last couple of films, etc.

Well, after seeing it this afternoon, it is time I gave put my two cents in, don’t you think?

I won’t deny that this plot is a bit confusing, so let me simplify it for you. If you may recall at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Jack had obtained the map to the Fountain of Youth. Well, this one picks up a little bit after that, only you throw in Blackbeard and his daughter, who has had a previous relationship with Sparrow, and of course Barbossa. Make that go on for 2 hrs 17 minutes and you have Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow and has not lost a step in his portrayal, even though many of his lines are the same ones he’s been uttering in all 3 films.

Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa, similar to Depp’s Sparrow, hasn’t lost a step either, but there is an added wrinkle to him with the whole peg leg thing and working for the British empire, rather than being a pirate. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but there was something different about him. It may have been that he wasn’t in his normal Barbossa attire, but he looked noticeably slimmer.

The always gorgeous and delectable Penelope Cruz makes her debut in the franchise. I believe she was pregnant while filming this, but don’t quote me on that. Her character, Angelica, is a very complex one, much more so than Keirra Knightley’s Elizabeth Swan. Cruz is definitely and upgrade from Knightley, and if this franchise continues, I look forward to seeing more of her.

If you’re going to have Blackbeard in a film about pirates, you best damn be sure to get someone who can really do the character justice. Ian McShane fills this requirement to a ‘T’, but  sort of was expecting a bit more, but that is more a slight against how they wrote his character, and not his performance. Still, the guy is quite menacing, reminiscent of Barbossa when we first met him in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl or the first encounter with Davey Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Orlando Bloom and Kierra Knightley decided not to return because they felt their story couldn’t go any further and so that they could focus on other projects. This left room for a new innocent couple, played by newcomers Sam Claflan and Astrid Berges-Frisbey. Neither particularly light up the screen, but they do show signs of what could be good things to come, especially if this franchise continues and brings them along.

Look for a brief cameo by Judi Dench and small role from Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon from the Harry Potter franchise).

Normally, I would take the time to mention the scenery right about here, but with this installment, it isn’t as breathtaking. That isn’t to say Hawaii isn’t as beautiful a setting as the other places they filmed, it just didn’t seem to be utilized as well. I think this was due more to the director, though.

The action in this film seems to be a bigger part of it, which I loved, but they fights and escape scenes seem to have been nothing more than elaborate dance sequences. That may work for theater, but not a big budget action flick like this. I also would have liked for there to have been more swashbuckling. Call me old-fashioned, but I expect to see clanging swords and such in my pirate movies.

The mermaids were not what I expected. Seriously, how many of us think of mermaids as evil vampire type creatures as they are depicted here? These mermaids are a far cry from Ariel and that chick from Splash!

Now, let me get to the confusing part of this flick…the film begins with the Spanish learning of the location of the Fountain of Youth. After that, we don’t see them again, with the exception of Barbossa passing what looks to be Columbus’ expedition, until the end of the film. I have nothing against the Spanish, but they just seemed to be sort of unnecessary or underdeveloped, depending on how you look at it. I honestly don’t think it would have hurt to have left them out or give them the same kind of development the Royal Tea Company got in the last couple of films. At least that way, it would have made them more of something more than a nuisance.

That point aside, I liked the addition of the new characters (excluding the Spanish). They brought in new blood, but I think if this franchise is to continue, they need to find a way to put it back in the hands of the original director. Not to take anything away from Rob Marshall. He did a respectable job, just not worthy of its predecessors.

One would imagine that after all this time, this would be an upgrade from the previous film, but it isn’t. I think this is why many critics are disappointed. They were expecting more than what we get here. However, what we do get is something quite enjoyable, especially for a summer film.

So, here comes the big questions…should you see this? Well, of course! There isn’t anything keeping this from being a really good film. The minor issues it has keep it from being great. Having said that, though, as I was watching this, I had this cloud of something isn’t right hanging over me. Maybe it was my thinking that this is going to be the last thing I do on this Earth j/k Seriously, though, this is definitely worth the price of admission, but don’t expect it revolutionize the franchise. It is a bit of more of the same, but there is enough new stuff in there to keep it fresh. Go watch and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Poetic Justice

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2011 by Mystery Man

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PLOT:

Justice (Janet Jackson) is a young woman living in South Central, Los Angeles. She was named Justice by her late mother, who gave birth to her while attending law school. After the shooting death of her boyfriend (Q-Tip), the young woman becomes deeply depressed. Shortly thereafter, she meets a Post Office clerk and single father named Lucky (Tupac Shakur), who embarks with her on a trip to Oakland with Iesha and her boyfriend Chicago (played by Regina King and Joe Torry, respectively). In classic Hollywood type, the young woman’s heart opens to her suitor’s attentions as she finds a new meaning for life.

REVIEW:

Some people have called this film Boyz N the Hood lite. I really don’t understand that, since they have little in common with each other, but to each their own, I suppose.

Poetic Justice is a film about Justice, a single woman who writes these beautiful poems and her relationship with Lucky, the mailman who wants out of the ‘hood. Of course, these two don’t begin the film together, as a matter of fact when they first meet, Justice is still mourning the loss of her previous boyfriend who was shot at the drive in right in front of her, but this wouldn’t be a Hollywood production if the two didn’t get together, especially over the course of a road trip.

When this film was released there was one reason, and one reason alone, I wanted to see it…JANET JACKSON!!!

Hey, don’t judge me! I was a teenage boy at the time, and she was one of the many women plastered on my wall!

As time has passed, though, I have come to realize what a great film this is…and Janet is still a major reason for watching this!

First off, let me mention the drive-in. This is one of those pieces of Americana that seems to have disappeared overnight, so anytime I see one on-screen, I have to mention them. I wasn’t around in their heyday, but I did have the opportunity to go to a double feature at one back in 2004. I loved it! It really is a shame they can’t make a comeback!

Back to Poetic Justice…with a title like that, you know there has to be some sort of poetry, right? Well, there is, written so eloquently by Maya Angelou.

The story, albeit a bit cliché and predictable, is actually quite interesting. Seeing these characters develop as individuals and their feelings for each other is a real treat. This filmmaker really did a good job making it believable on film.

I will say, though, that the subplot with the supporting characters seemed a bit…I don’t know…either forced or forgotten, depending on how you look at it.

The themes throughout this film are probably what makes it so memorable. Urban living, single father trying to make it, etc. Real life situations that people can relate too, not to mention characters that seem like you would know them.

Janet Jackson shines in this role. It makes me wonder why she really hasn’t done more acting. I guess she didn’t want to get overexposed, she is shy after all.

Tupac…R.I.P…also does a real good job with his role and the chemistry between he and Janet had me wanting to do bad things to him. No worries, that’s a good thing…a testament to how good he was in this film. Shame his life was cut shirt before we cold see what else he could do on screen.

Poetic Justice is one of those films that has a little bit of something for everyone. Keanu Reeves is actually in here somewhere, but I didn’t see him. Do I recommend this? Yes, unless you just hate dramas, chances are you’ll thoroughly enjoy this picture.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Hot Chick

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on May 16, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins in an Abyssinian castle in 50 BC, where a princess uses a pair of enchanted earrings to escape an arranged marriage by swapping bodies with a slave girl. When each woman wears one of the earrings, their bodies magically trade places while their minds remain where they were.

The rest of the film is set in the modern-day suburban hometown of Jessica Spencer (McAdams), a popular high-school girl, and her friends April (Faris), Keecia (Maritza Murray), and Lulu (Alexandra Holden). April is Jessica’s best friend, and all four girls are cheerleaders. At school one day, Jessica makes fun of an overweight girl named Hildenburg (Megan Kuhlmann) and a Wiccan girl named Eden (Sam Doumit). After that, Jessica and her friends visit the local mall, where Jessica gets her rival Bianca (Maria-Elena Laas) into trouble and finds the earrings in an African-themed store. The earrings are not for sale, so Jessica steals them.

Shortly afterward, a small-time criminal named Clive (Schneider) robs a nearby gas station. When Jessica and her friends stop there and mistake him for an employee, he services their car to avoid raising suspicion. Jessica accidentally drops one of the earrings on the ground, and Clive picks it up after the girls drive away. That evening, in their respective homes, Jessica and Clive put on their earrings. When they wake up the next morning, each of them is trapped in the other’s body. This is especially difficult for Jessica, who has a cheering competition and the school prom coming up soon.

After Jessica convinces her friends of who she is, they help her investigate the body swap. Hildenburg, Eden, and Bianca are all innocent, Hildenburg and Eden join Jessica after she apologizes to them, and Eden finds a picture of the earrings on the internet. When the girls return to the African store, the shopkeeper explains how the earrings work and tells the girls they must find the other earring soon or the change will become permanent.

Meanwhile, Jessica is hired for two jobs while secretly living with April. At her own home, where she works as a gardener, her parents tell her about their marital problems and she helps them rekindle their sex life. At school, while cleaning the boys’ locker room as a janitor, she spies on her boyfriend Billy (Lawrence), who truly loves her, and April’s boyfriend Jake (Olsen), who has another girlfriend. Faced with Jake’s infidelity, April begins to fall in love with Jessica, who agrees to take her to the prom. At the cheering competition, Jessica signals romantically to Billy while disguised as the school mascot, but when the head of her suit falls off, he becomes confused and leaves with Bianca.

During this time, Clive has been using Jessica’s body to make money from men, including Billy, who gives him his money and car, believing he is Jessica. However, on the evening of the prom, Hildenburg sees a video of Clive robbing a man on the television news and goes to the scene of the crime. After finding a business card for the club where Clive works as a pole dancer, she informs Jessica at the prom, and the girls go to the club. When they find Clive, Jessica steals his earring and puts it on herself along with the other one. With the two earrings now on the same person, Jessica’s and Clive’s bodies return to their original owners. After Jessica makes up with Billy, the film ends with the school’s graduation ceremony, followed by a scene in which Clive, running from the law and still dressed in lingerie, is abducted by a bartender who believes he is a homosexual.

REVIEW:

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you’re even thinking about watching this, then you half know what to expect because you’re, in all likelihood, a fan of Rob Schneider’s films, right?

If this is the case, then you’ll love The Hot Chick, just probably not as much as his other flicks.

In this film, the plot involves a pair of African earrings that have the power to switch the bodies of the people wearing them. Somehow, these mystical earrings end up in the hands of your typical evil cheerleader who happens to switch bodies with a man who is her polar opposite. While she is in his body, though, she learns how much of an evil person she was, how much her boyfriend really loves her, and how great her best friend is.

Sounds like some sort of after-school special, right? Well, I wold agree with you, except that some of the jokes and situations in here remind you that this is a Schneider film, not to mention the recurring Adam Sandler character in the African shop, and the “that’s a huge bitch!” line that is uttered in the club.

As far as comedies go, this one could have gone in a totally raunchy direction and never looked back, but instead it sort of held back. Could this be a sign of maturity for Schneider?

Having said that, though, I can’t help but feel a little gipped that we didn’t get something more crass out of this film.

The story is alright, but it seems as if we’ve seen this whole thing too many times before, often done better.

The cast is ok, but every one of them is underutilized.

First of all, the “hot chick” is supposed to be Rachel McAdams. True enough, she is hot, but for a film that spends a good deal of time in the bedroom or cheerleader practice, or with other girls, they could have really played up the hotness angle.

Anna Faris, who I think is the hottest chick in the flick, was ok as the best friend, but it just seemed beneath her talents. Now, given the year this was released, I may just be thinking too present day. I think she was still an up and comer at this time.

Ron Schneider was his usual schlubby self, maybe even moreso than normal, but there wasn’t anything interesting about his time on-screen. I will say that his capturing of Rachel McAdams’ mannerisms was impressive, though.

Matthew Lawrence plays the stereotypical high school quarterback who is dating the head cheerleader. Nothing wrong with his performance, except we all know this gy can act, but this script didn’t really give him anything to work with, save for one scene where he finds out Jessica is in Clive’s body. That reaction was priceless!

I thought this was on ok flick, but nothing to write home about. It seemed like it was trying to be a bit more on the wholesome side, while keeping that “frat boy” mentality that many of Schneider’s films tend to exude. So, should you see this? Well, this won’t make you lose any brain cells or anything like that, there are better body swapping and Schneider films out there, so use your best judgement.

3 out of 5 stars

The Hills Run Red

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , on May 12, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

After the American Civil War, a Confederate veteran and his comrade travel through the hills in a chuck wagon on the mission of burying a large sum in lost gold. As they near their exact destination they spot a Union army escort approaching on horseback. Knowing there is little chance of escaping without being arrested or killed, they decide that their only hope is that one of them jump off the wagon while the other continue on his way to bury the loot. So after rolling down an embankment using the rocks as cover, it is the ‘hero’ who is eventually caught by the soldiers. They demand to know what he is up to and where his friend is, who they saw with him on the wagon a few minutes previously. When he won’t tell them anything, they take his gun, beat him up and arrest him.

The movie then skips to 5 years later when the man is released from a small Union jail. Once he has his horse back he rides off to small abandoned ranch in the hills. As he stands on the sidewalk, he is shot at. Unarmed (the soldiers at the prison refused to return his gun), he dives into the adjacent barn where he meets an old friend who gives him a gun. He kills a first gunman who runs in to the barn and then hits the deck as a second comes rushing in shooting. After an exchange of shots and some quick reactions when both men run out of bullets, a fistfight ensues and he eventually overpowers his opponent and manages to kill him with his own knife.

The plot changes direction from this point in that he rides to the local town which is overrun by an outlaw gang led by a psychopathic killer. For the second half of the film, the hero is then on a vengeance quest as it appears the crazy bandit is responsible for taking his girl and the possible deaths of his family who lived at the afore-mentioned ranch.

REVIEW:

Following the success of the Eastwood “Man with no name” films, spaghetti westerns started popping up all over the place, The Hills Run Red was one of those films. As a matter of fact, I think it was one of the first, but don’t quote me.

If you’ve ever seen a western, then you know 9 times out of 10 the plot revolves around either cattle rustling or revenge. This one falls in the latter.

The hero is sent to prison, wrongfully, for 5 years at the beginning of the film. Upon his release he sets out to make a new name for himself, and the other man who was with him is forgotten for the rest of the film. The second half of the picture has our hero being a one man vigilante trying to save the town, in typical western fashion.

I wish I could say that there was something special about this picture, but there just isn’t. That isn’t to say that its bad, but rather it is so predictable that you can almost predict their lines!

Having said that, it is no secret that you watch a western for the action, more specifically, the  gunfights. This film doesn’t disappoint in that department. Sure, there could have been more, but this is a spaghetti western, remember. They tend to be more story driven, as opposed to letting the action rule.

I wasn’t really impressed with The Hills Run Red. Not really a fan of that title, either. It brings to mind a horror film…at least for me, it does. That point aside, I did think this film is a worthy view for any fan of westerns. No, it isn’t one of the great ones, but it is worth the 86 minutes.

3 out of 5 stars

Vampyres

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on May 11, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Two beautiful women roam the English countryside, luring unsuspecting men to their estate for orgies of sex and blood. But when an innocent young couple stumble into the vampires’ lair, they find themselves sucked into an unforgettable vortex of savage lust and forbidden desires.

REVIEW:

I really don’t know how I came across this film. It isn’t your normal vampire film, nor does it fall into the category of the soft core porn one would think it would be.

Apparently, Vampyres is a cult hit, though I had never heard of it until a few days ago when I decided I was going to watch it…eventually.

Um…there is a plot here that has something to do with these female vampires and their insatiable appetites for flesh, blood, and sexual desires.

Yeah, it sounds like a porn, and plays out like one. Of course, this is a film from the 70s, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

This isn’t a bad film, but it isn’t a good one, either. The main thing that sticks out when you watch this is that for a film of this nature, one would expect more gratuitous sex and nudity, yet, there weren’t.

In that same token, I have to give kudos to the female bodies in this flick. Marianne Morris is quite the natural beauty…cellulite and all. We all know that if this was made today, they’d find some chick who seemed to have no imperfections on her at all. It is quite refreshing to see a natural woman in all her glory.

Back to the bad things, this is a vampire movie, and there isn’t much vampiric activity going on, at least not as much as I would expect. It seems to me that this could have done with more blood and gore, just to make the vampire aspect more of the forefront, and not give this such a porn feel.

Like I said, there is a plot here, but you can’t really tell what it is. If I wasn’t a red-blooded male looking at hot women from the 70s, I’d no doubt have been either bored to tears or confused out of my mind.

Vampyres is not the kid of flick you should watch if you’re looking for the traditional vampire film. However, much in the same way females flock to those Twilight movies because of the attraction to the male “vampires”, guys will love this one because of the hot vampire chicks…even if it never is said how they become vampires, especially since they get shot in the opening scene! This is worth a viewing, but I wouldn’t go out of the way to buy the DVD or anything like that.

3 out of 5 stars

How to be a Player

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 10, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Drayton “Dray” Jackson (Bill Bellamy) is a playboy with only one goal in his life: to have sex with as many women as possible. While he is doing that, he is busy trying to keep these women a secret from his girlfriend, Lisa (Lark Voorhies). But, Dray’s sister, Jenny, (Natalie Desselle-Reid) and her friend Katrina (Mari Morrow) strategize to invite all the women Dray has been playing to the same party that he is attending.He begins to make the moves on his sister’s friend, almost succeeding until the one girl he really has true feelings for shows up at the door.

REVIEW:

I think at some point in time, all guys (and maybe even some girls) ponder what it takes to be a player. While it crosses some of our minds, a few actually go through with it, this is how we get plots to films like Boomerang and this one, How to be a Player.

Personally, I’m no player, just a flirt. As a matter of fact, one of my friends called me a “horn dog flirt” this week. Be that as it may, I’m as faithful as they come. Having said that, I actually enjoy these films where the guy who can’t keep it in his pants, has all sorts of issues.

The plot of this urban comedy from the mid-90s is quite simple. We have our “player” who is in a relationship with a drop dead gorgeous woman, but still manages to go around town getting his freak on with other gorgeous women. His friends want to know the secret, which is how we get the title, and his sister and her friend want to expose him, under the guise of a sociology project. The sister’s friend also wants a little piece of the action, as well. This all leads to the many comedic moments and an entertaining ending.

I guess if you’re going to be a player, then you better have the looks to back it up, and many women seem to think Bill Bellamy was the living end back in the day. I wonder whatever happened to him? In this role, he does a pretty good job, but I’ve seen him do better. Any Given Sunday, anyone? Still, he’s come a long way since hosting the beach house and various urban parts of MTV program back when they actually could justify the M in their name.

The women in this film are all pretty hot, especially the sister’s friend, and of course the girlfriend, Lisa…played by Lark Voorhies (is she always playing characters named Lisa?)

Adding more comic flavoring to the mix are the…let’s call them sidekicks. These guys don’t really bring anything to the plot or story, but they are a nice compliment to the cast.

The good thing about films from the 90s is that they never took themselves too seriously…well, the comedies didn’t. If this film was made today, I would be you would barely be able to tell it was a comedy. My, my, how times have changed.

The comedic moments are what make this film entertaining. If you take those out, then you actually have a pretty unwatchable movie.

The way Bellamy swerves out of the situations when he is surely caught are nothing short of a show of skill and luck.

I didn’t care too much for the plot by the sister and her friend. To me, it just seemed like they were there as a plot device, and not a very good one, at that.

What is the final verdict on How to be a Player? I think it is pretty decent, but could’ve been better. No, it doesn’t necessarily teach you how to be a player. Well, I guess it kind of does, but you better hope that the women you’re using these tactics on haven’t seen this before. This isn’t the greatest film, but if you take the time to watch it, I’m sure you’ll get a couple of laughs, at least. If you get the chance, why not check it out?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Thor

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2011 by Mystery Man

 

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 965 A.D., Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard, wages war against the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and their leader Laufey (Colm Feore), to prevent them from conquering the Nine Realms, starting with Earth. The Asgardian warriors defeat the Frost Giants and seize the source of their power, the Casket of Ancient Winters.

In the present, Odin’s son Thor (Chris Hemsworth) prepares to ascend to the throne of Asgard, but is interrupted when the Frost Giants attempt to retrieve the Casket. Against Odin’s order, Thor travels to Jotunheim to confront Laufey, accompanied by his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), childhood friend Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three; Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Joshua Dallas) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano). A battle ensues until Odin intervenes to save the Asgardians, destroying the fragile truce between the two races. For Thor’s arrogance, Odin strips his son of his godly power and exiles him to Earth, accompanied by his hammer Mjolnir — the source of his power, now protected by a spell to allow only the worthy to wield it.

Thor lands in New Mexico, where scientist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) find him. The local populace finds Mjolnir, which S.H.I.E.L.D agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) soon commandeers before forcibly acquiring Jane’s data about the wormhole that delivered Thor to Earth. Thor, having discovered Mjolnir’s nearby location, seeks to retrieve it from the facility that S.H.I.E.L.D quickly constructed but he finds himself unable to lift it, and is captured. With Selvig’s help, he is freed and resigns himself to exile on Earth as he develops a romance with Jane.

Loki discovers he is Laufey’s son, adopted by Odin after the war ended. When Odin, overcome with stress, falls into the deep “Odinsleep” that allows him to recuperate, Loki becomes king and offers Laufey the chance to kill Odin and retrieve the Casket. Sif and the Warriors Three, unhappy with Loki’s rule, attempt to return Thor from exile, convincing Heimdall (Idris Elba), gatekeeper of the Bifröst Bridge – the means of traveling between worlds – to allow them passage to Earth. Aware of their plan, Loki sends the Destroyer, a seemingly indestructible automaton, to pursue them and kill Thor. Sif and the Warriors Three find Thor, but the Destroyer attacks and defeats them, prompting Thor to offer himself instead. Struck by the Destroyer and near death, Thor’s sacrifice proves him worthy to wield Mjolnir. The hammer returns to him, restoring his powers and allowing him to defeat the Destroyer. Kissing Jane goodbye and vowing to return, he and his fellow warriors travel to Asgard to confront Loki.

In Asgard, Loki betrays and kills Laufey, revealing his true plan to use Laufey’s attempt on Odin’s life as an excuse to destroy Jotunheim with the Bifröst Bridge, and thus prove himself worthy to Odin. Thor arrives and fights his brother before destroying the Bifröst Bridge to stop Loki’s plan, stranding himself in Asgard. Odin awakens and prevents the brothers from falling into the abyss created in the wake of the bridge’s destruction, but Loki allows himself to fall to his apparent death after realizing that he disappointed Odin once again. Thor makes amends with Odin, admitting he is not ready to be king, while on Earth, Jane and her team search for a way to open a portal to Asgard so that she can reunite with Thor.

In a post-credits scene, Selvig has been taken to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, where Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) asks him to study an unnamed device, which Fury says may hold untold power. Loki, invisible, whispers to Selvig to agree, which Selvig does.

REVIEW:

Unless you’re a fellow comic geek, then your knowledge of Thor may be limited to Norse mythology, what you’ve seen occasionally in cartoons where he’s popped up spouting medieval lingo, or the little girl’s obsession in Adventures in Babysitting.

Well, the good people over at Marvel Studios have finally decided to bring Thor to the big screen, and they do so with a pretty big bang, if I do say so myself.

To my knowledge, Thor is the first feature film the Norse god of thunder has been featured in (excluding his segment in Hulk Vs.), so this is kind of a big deal, especially since this is supposed to be the first big film of the summer (no offense to Fast Five).

The plot of this film is basically an origin tale, because unlike Superman, Batman, Spider Man, etc., not may people are familiar with the history of the character of Thor. As we are getting to know Thor we learn that he is a kind of pompous jerk, who lets his ego go too far one day and not only threatens the lives of some of his friends, but also violates a truce, and subsequently gets banished from Asgard and stripped of his powers. Once he lands on Earth, he meets up with a trio of scientists who are studying something up in the sky (I can’t remember what it was exactly). After a few character development scenes, the film ends with some true kick-ass action scenes!

I’ve made the decision to basically boycott the use of 3D (I’m making an exception for Green Lantern, though). I mean, I have yet to see a film that makes good use of the technology, and I honestly think studios are just using it as a way to charge more money (as if ticket prices aren’t high enough).

Having said that, I think there might have been some pretty swell 3D scenes in this film, especially on Asgard, but still not enough to warrant the extra $$$.

The casting in this film really caught my attention. Let’s start with Thor, himself, played by Chris Hemsworth. Another Australian to follow in the footsteps of Mel Gibson (before he lost his mind), Heath Ledger, and currently Sam Worthington. This guy looks exactly like Thor, especially since he buffed up since he was last seen on-screen as Kirk’s father in Star Trek. On top of all that, the guy doesn’t do a bad job with this role.

Tom Hiddleston is another bit of brilliant casting as Loki. It isn’t very often that we see a villain become a villain before our very eyes and feel for him as we do here, and Hiddleston does a great job of bringing the audience to his side. I would have liked for him to have had more fun with the character. After all, Loki is the god of mischief!!!

Anthony Hopkins as Odin…do I really need to say anything other than genius?

Natalie Portman does a decent job as Jane Foster, but this isn’t really her movie, let alone anything for her to write home about. Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t bad, this was just a small role, and she’s just coming off The Black Swan, those two things coupled together caused a bit of confusion, but in the end, she did what she had to and owned this role.

Idris Elba was controversially cast as Heimdall. There was an organization who actually threatened to boycott this film because of his skin color? Can you believe that? After all that hullabaloo, Elba does what he does with all his roles, treats them very professionally and delivers a knockout performance. To those people who wanted to boycott because of his skin color…well, I won’t type what I want to say to them….just use your imagination.

The sets were fantastic. Wait, let me take that back. Asgard and the lair of the Frost giants are spectacular, while the little town in New Mexico (which is somehow directly beneath Asgard –scratches head–) looks like nothing more than an old set they dug out from the studio archives and filled with extras. Did they really spend all their money on Asgard, I wonder?

The special effects were awesome, but in a film of this genre and with this subject matter, would you really expect less?

I was especially impressed with how much this film kept close to the source material. The one thing I would have liked for them to have kept, though is Thor’s helmet. He wears it when we initially see him, but he takes it off and it is never seen again. Something tells me, that we’ll get something similar with the upcoming The First Avenger: Captain America. Something about wings on a person’s head just doesn’t work these days, I guess. No wonder Flash hasn’t been on the big screen, yet.

I do have a bit of an issue with the pacing of the film, mainly when it shifts to Earth. It seems that down here the film drags on, except for the S.H.I.E.L.D. tent scene and the appearance of the Destroyer. Without those, this film all but makes you hate living on Earth because it is such a bore down here, as opposed to the non-stop action that occurs in the other worlds.

The mixture of action and comedy really works here, even better than it did in the first Iron Man. This is what a comic book movie should be, not something all dark and depressing, if you ask me.

Thor starts this summer off with a bang, and the subsequent films that are set to come out between now and Labor Day have some big shoes to fill. No, this film isn’t perfect, but it was something even better…entertaining! They also snuck in a subtle hint towards the forthcoming Avengers movie (after which, I’m sure there will be a sequel to this film). Do I recommend this film? Yes, Yes, YES!!!! you should drop everything and see it right now! It is that good!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Whole Ten Yards

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Thanks to falsified dental records supplied by his former neighbor Nicholas “Oz” Ozeransky (Matthew Perry), retired hitman Jimmy “The Tulip” Tudeski (Bruce Willis) now spends his days compulsively cleaning his house and perfecting his culinary skills with his wife, Jill (Amanda Peet), a purported assassin who has yet to pull off a “clean” hit (everyone she is hired to kill dies in bizarre accidents before she can kill them). Oz, meanwhile, is now married to Jimmy’s ex-wife Cynthia and has a dental practice in California, now expecting their first child, but the relationship is complicated due to Oz’s over-excessive paranoia about security, as well as Cynthia’s secret continued contact with Jimmy (Although Oz also talks with Jill on occasion).

Their lives are further complicated by the return of Lazlo Gogolak (Kevin Pollak), a father figure of Jimmy’s who ran the mob that Jimmy was once a member of, Jimmy and Jill having killed his son Yanni while Lazlo was in prison. Having deduced that Jimmy is still alive, Lazlo abducts Cynthia and threatens Oz to try and learn Jimmy’s location, Oz only just managing to escape thanks to one of Lazlo’s henchmen accidentally shooting out a light. With no other options, Oz contacts Jimmy and Jill for assistance, but Jimmy initially refuses to help until Lazlo’s men attack the house after following Oz’s car.

Having captured Lazlo’s remaining son, Strabonitz (Strabo, for short), Jimmy tells Lazlo that he will trade Cynthia for Strabo, but the group’s attempt to check into a hotel results in Oz unintentionally triggering further conflict between Jimmy and Jill when he reveals that Jimmy still wears a crucifix Cynthia gave him. Retreating to a bar to get drunk, Jimmy becomes increasingly depressed about his apparent failure to father a child with Jill, although Oz becomes frustrated when Jimmy starts discussing his and Cynthia’s old sex life, culminating in them becoming so drunk that Oz and Jimmy wake up in the same bed (Although nothing happens).

Increasingly frustrated at her poor sex life with Jimmy, Jill attempts to seduce Oz, resulting in Jimmy walking in on them and knocking Oz out, subsequently regaining his passion for Jill and his work as the two proceed to have sex in the bathroom. While re-arming themselves at Oz’s house, the three are attacked by an unknown marksman, whose attempts to shoot them result in Strabo being killed in the crossfire, the subsequent argument causing Jill to leave in frustration at Jimmy’s insults of her capabilities and his cold dismissal of Oz. Increasingly driven to breaking point by recent events, Oz retreats to his practice, where Jimmy greets him to apologize for recent events, only for Oz’s new receptionist Julie to chloroform Oz and Jimmy, revealing that she is the sister of ‘Frankie Figgs’, out for revenge for Oz and Jimmy’s role in her brother’s death.

Waking up with Cynthia and Jimmy in Lazlo’s apartment, Oz is shocked to learn that the current situation has been part of a plan by Jimmy and Cynthia from the beginning so that Cynthia could find Lazlo’s half of the first dollar he ever stole, which he had torn in half to be divided between Jimmy and Yanni when they were kids. Just as Lazlo is preparing to kill the three of them, Jill shows up, having set up Strabo’s body so that he appears to be alive and tied up in her car, threatening to detonate explosives in her car unless Lazlo releases Oz and Cynthia. Claiming to want to join Lazlo’s organization, Jill is ordered to shoot Jimmy, finally apparently shooting Jimmy in the heart when he informs her that she’ll never be a successful hitter.

When Jill’s car detonates when Lazlo’s men go to release Strabo, it is revealed that Jill was in on the plan as well, having merely shot Jimmy with blanks. With Jules having been exposed as the shooter who killed Strabo, Lazlo shoots her, Jimmy subsequently having Jill shoot Lazlo in the foot, unable to kill the man who raised him. As the group depart, Jimmy and Cynthia reveal that the plan was set up to acquire Lazlo’s half of the dollar, the combined dollar revealing the account number for a Gogalak account containing $280 million. With Jill having revealed that she is pregnant, the four drive away.

REVIEW:

Yes, I know I’ve been slacking on my reviews here lately. Please pardon my absence, I’ve recently had a tragedy. While I am far from being back to normal, things are getting back into a routine…at least enough for me to sit down and watch The Whole Ten Yards.

In case you aren’t aware, this is the sequel to The Whole Nine Yards. Like many people, I question whether this was a film that needed to be made, as it seemed to just recycle the plot from the original, with a few changes here and there.

The film begins a little while after the previous one ended. Jimmy and Jill are living down in Mexico, where he had taught her to become a professional assassin…even if she has yet to actually kill someone, and Oz and Cynthia are living it up in L.A. All this is too good to be true as we all of a sudden get introduced to Lazlo Gogolak and the plot of the film, involving money (don’t all plots involve money one way or another?).

If you will recall from me review of the last film, I believe I said that it was hard to determine if it was a comedy or drama. Well, this one was obviously more of a comedy…and I use that term lightly.

Often times, you will notice that I say a film tries too hard to be funny. Well, this is one of those times. I applaud the filmmakers for making the effort to distinguish the comedic aspects and whatnot, but they could have done a better job with the way the jokes were written.

On top of that, Kevin Pollack’s performance was just way too over the top. There really isn’t anything wrong with being “out there”, if you will, but when you can’t take the character serious (farces/parodies are exceptions), then we have a problem, and that is exactly why this just didn’t work for me.

The returning cast from the original film seem to work, but at the same time, they seemed to not be as into it this time. I won’t g so far as to say they just showed up to collect a check, because they did seem to be trying, but the chemistry seemed to have been skewered somehow.

Maybe this was die to the killing of Michael Clarke Duncan’s character at the end of the first one or perhaps it all goes back to Pollack’s over the top caricature performance. Who knows?

As I said earlier, the story was rehash of the first film. You can make the argument about “if it ain’t broke, don’t fx it”, but if you’ll recall, it didn’t work too well the first time, so why not try something new? I must be missing something.

After all is said and done, I can say that despite my complaints, The Whole Ten Yards is funnier than its predecessor, but suffers in terms of filmmaking. If you could take the best parts of the two films and put them together, then we’d have a really good …Yards picture. Unfortunately, we don’t have that luxury and this is what we’re stuck with. Should you see this? It wouldn’t hurt. As a matter of fact, you may even crack a smile or two. As long as you’re not expecting anything Oscar-worthy, then I say go for it. For me, I’ve seen it once, and that may be enough for me.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars