Archive for June, 2011

I Am Number Four

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is an alien from planet Lorien who was sent to Earth as a child alongside eight others to escape an invading race, the Mogadorians, which destroyed their home planet. He is protected by a Warrior/Guardian, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), and has developed superpowers due to his extraterrestrial nature, such as enhanced strength, speed and agility, telekinesis, resistance to fire and heat, and the power to generate light from his hands.

The Mogadorians, led by the Commander (Kevin Durand) eventually learn about the nine children and come to Earth in search of them. These Loriens can only be killed in a particular sequence, with three of them having already been slain. John is Number Four. Knowing this, he and Henri move from Florida to Paradise, Ohio, where John befriends conspiracy theorist Sam Goode (Callan McAuliffe), a dog named Bernie Kosar, and falls in love with amateur photographer Sarah Hart (Dianna Agron), whose ex-boyfriend, school athlete Mark James (Jake Abel) is a bully who often torments both John and Sam.

During the spring carnival, Mark and his friends try to capture John and Sarah, whom they believe are in a relationship, and follow them into the woods, where they attempt to beat John up. However, he uses his powers to fend them off and rescue Sarah. Sam witnesses the events, and John tells him his true origin. Shortly thereafter, Mark’s father, the local sheriff, interrogates Henri on John’s whereabouts when his son and his friends were attacked, and notices that he has a high-tech surveillance system.

Henri tells John that too many people are suspicious of them, in addition to John’s random displays of power, caused by his difficulty in controlling them, and that they must leave. However, John tells him he doesn’t want to because he’s in love with Sarah.

The Mogadorians start searching for John. Another alien from Lorien, Number Six (Teresa Palmer), decided to go after the Mogadorians instead of running away from them after her Guardian was murdered. The Mogadorians eventually locate John and manipulate two conspiracy theorists into capturing Henri. When John and Sam go to rescue him, they are attacked but manage to fend Mogadorians off. However, Henri is mortally wounded and dies after John and Sam escape with some Lorien artifacts, including a blue rock that acts as a tracking device to locate other Loriens. Sam’s father, a conspiracy theorist who disappeared while hunting aliens in Mexico, has another. While Sam searches for it, John tries to say goodbye to Sarah at a party, only to discover that the Mogadorians have framed him and Henri for the murders of the conspiracy theorists, as well as being terrorists due to their cutting-edge technology. Mark sees John and calls his father, who corners John and Sarah. He saves her from a fall, revealing his powers in the process, and they escape to their high school.

Meanwhile, The Commander also arrives at Paradise, blocking the exits with trucks. He is confronted by Mark and his father, and, after injuring the latter, he forces the former to show him where John is hiding, Mark then takes him to the school, which he knows is Sarah’s hideout.

There, John, Sarah, and Sam are attacked by the Commander and his soldiers, who have brought two giant monsters to hunt the trio. They are saved by Number Six and John’s “dog,” Bernie Kosar, who reveals his true form as a good Chimera, which can shapeshift, and was sent by his parents to protect him. Bernie Kosar eventually shapeshifts back to a beagle with a very wounded paw. John and Number Six, who can teleport and block energy-based attacks, fight the Mogadorians. They eventually defeat them all, including the Commander, whose energy grenades are overheated by John and explode, destroying his body.

On the following day, John, Number Six, Sam, and Bernie Kosar,unite their blue rocks and discover the location of the other four surviving Loriens. John decides to let Sam come with them with hopes of finding Sam’s father. They set to find the others and rally them together to protect Earth from the Mogadorians, leaving Sarah and a repentant Mark, who has redeemed himself by lying to his father about John’s whereabouts and returning to John a box belonging to his father. John, Number Six, and Sam leave Paradise to look for the other Loriens.

The film ends as John narrates that Paradise is the first town he left without Henri, but it’s also the first one where he has a reason to come back to.

REVIEW:

When the trailers for this came out, I thought that it was nothing more than Twilight with aliens. Although there are a few similar themes, boy was I wrong!

Apparently, I Am Number Four is a series of books. Well, I say series, but this is the only book that has been published. Don’t ask me how a film is released before the series can even get a solid footing. True, the first couple of Harry Potter films were released before the last few books were written, but there were at least parts of the series out in bookstores. I don’t know, there is just something odd about this to me.

The plot of this film revolves around an apparent alien who is supposed to be lying low to avoid being caught and captured by the Mogdorians, a race of evil bounty hunter type aliens who seek to do nothing more than wipe out entire races.

Number Four and his guardian/protector are constantly on the run to avoid being located by these creatures. The film catches them going from Florida to Paradise, Ohio (a more ironic name for a town I’ve never heard).

While in Paradise, Four meets a young man who is actually the son of a human who was helping his race and a girl whom he falls in love with, not to mention the school bully. This is a high school movie after all. There had to be one somewhere, right?

During his time in high school, Four learns more about his powers…just in time, as his guardian is kidnapped and killed trying to save his life, and the Mogdorians have located him and are coming after him. This leads to the films exciting climax, including the meeting of Number Six, another alien who has awesome powers possibly even better than Four.

Aside from the initial setup of the story, the beginning of this film had me nearly bored to death. However, once it picked up a little past the halfway point, it had my full attention. The action scenes are not to be missed. Although, with all the bright lights, I would sit too close to the screen!

The special effects are pretty good. I can’t say that I expected more or less since I know very little about the book and whatnot.

The cast wasn’t exactly strong, but I can say that as much as I hate Dianna Agron is Glee, she shows she has more range as an actress with this role.

Timothy Olyphant deserved a bigger role, but I’m assuming this guy dies in the book, so there really isn’t much one can do, right?

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who want to bash the hell out of this film, but I’m not going to be one of them. Sure, I Am Number Four isn’t the greatest film, but the second half of the film makes it worth watching. I could do without the boring first half, but  understand that the characters have to be introduced, developed, etc. At least there aren’t any wannabe werewolves or vampires running around.

So, should you see this? Sure, it won’t be a waste of time. Now, don’t get your hopes up for something spectacular, but it is a somewhat decent that won’t leave you feeling dirty after the credits roll.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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Thor: Tales of Asgard

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Before he ever lifted his mighty hammer Mjolnir, there was the sword. Fantastic journeys beckon from the mysterious nine realms. Places of dark mists and fiery voids. Of winged creatures and giants in the ice. And the most alluring quest of all – the search for the legendary Lost Sword of Surtur. Hungry for adventure, Thor secretly embarks on the journey of a lifetime, joined by his loyal brother Loki, whose budding sorcery equips him with just enough magic to conjure up trouble, along with the Warriors Three – a band of boastful travelers reluctant to set sail on any adventure that might actually be dangerous. But what starts out as a harmless treasure hunt quickly turns deadly, and Thor must now prove himself worthy of the destiny he covets by saving Asgard itself.

REVIEW:

This has been Thor’s year. First, there was the movie, Thor, later this year he is set to star in his own series (from what I hear), not to mention that new Avenger’s cartoon, and this film, Thor: Tales of Asgard.

Don’t be fooled, though. As awesome as that cover art looks, the only bit of the Thor we all know and love that will be seen is in the special features.

The plot of this film is basically young Thor coming to realize that he may not be the warrior he thinks and, of course, he wants to go prove himself. This leads him (and Loki) stowing away on the vessel of the Warriors Three, getting into a scuffle in a bar, and eventually nearly causing a war between Asgard and the Frost giants over the sword of Surtur. Just another day for Thor.

The first thing I have to mention about this flick is that the animation, while not looking like second anime that way many of the recent Marvel animated features have attempted to, is actually quite good, though I’m sure some will see it as a tad bit “cartoony”. Last I checked, this was a cartoon!

The plot comes from the comic, though I’m not too familiar with the Thor books, so I can’t really tell you how much the changed and/or took out. If they did make any alterations, it didn’t seem to affect anything.

The voice cast was ok, but nothing special. I’m not saying that there needed to be some A-list actor lending their voice to one of these characters, but anything would have been better than these wooden, so-called “actors”.

So, for those of you that enjoyed Thor and want to see more of the Norse god, should you see Thor: Tales of Asgard? Well, it won’t hurt, but this really isn’t anything special. No, it doesn’t suck, but it’s nothing to write home about either. I found this to be nothing more than an average animated flick that is soon to be forgotten.

3 out of 5 stars

Skyline

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

PLOT (spoiler alert):

Jarrod (Eric Balfour), an artist, and his girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) have flown to Los Angeles for Jarrod’s best friend Terry’s (Donald Faison) birthday party. They spend the night celebrating with Terry’s girlfriend, Candice (Brittany Daniel), and his assistant, Denise (Crystal Reed). During the party, one of Terry’s employees, Ray (Neil Hopkins), welcomes Jarrod to L.A., thinking he has moved there to join Terry’s special effects company. During a private argument about whether or not they should move to L.A., Elaine reveals that she is pregnant.

Early the next morning, bright blue lights descend from the sky, entrancing anyone who looks at them. The light turns their eyes milky white and makes blood vessels stand out on the skin. Captive in the light, immobilized humans are taken up by the machines. Ray suffers this fate, but Jarrod is saved when Terry tackles him. Jarrod returns to normal shortly after. He and Terry decide to investigate the light from the roof of the highrise, where they see several alien ships descend over the blue lights and vacuum up thousands of entranced people. Locked out on the roof, they are almost captured by flying machines, but Elaine opens the door from inside. She is temporarily mesmerized, but Jarrod saves her.

Back in the apartment Jarrod argues that open water would be a safer place than Terry’s condo since there are no machines over the sea, so they attempt to reach the marina by car, splitting into two groups: Terry and Denise in one car, Candice, Jarrod, and Elaine in the other. On the way out they meet an arguing couple, Colin (J. Paul Boehmer) and Jen (Tanya Newbould), also attempting to flee the building. Terry’s car is the first to leave, but is stomped flat in the exit by a massive walking lifeform. Denise is killed, but Terry escapes. As he attempts to flee into the garage, he is abducted. The survivors flee into the garage where they encounter a squid-like lifeform and it takes Colin. It corners the rest of the group, then suddenly the building’s concierge, Oliver (David Zayas), slams into it with an SUV. Colin is still alive inside the ‘squid.’ As Jen and Oliver attempt to free him, the machine comes to life again, sucks out Colin’s brain, which glows blue, and inserts the organ into its head. As the five flee back into the building, Jen is quickly abducted.

The next day, the United States Air Force launches an attack on the spaceships using drone aircraft. Only one stealth drone gets through, and launches a nuclear-tipped missile at the largest ship. The detonation rips the ship apart and it falls, but as the mushroom cloud later clears it then slowly begins to repair itself. Each part of the fallen ship acts in accordance with all others, further blurring the distinction between machine and lifeform. After telling only Elaine that the mesmerizing light made him feel powerful and that he still has that power, Jarrod becomes adamant that safety must be found outside. Oliver wants to stay in and tries to restrain him. Jarrod’s eyes turn milky and his veins start to show again: he lifts Oliver off the floor one-handed. He vows that no one will stop him from protecting his family.

Military helicopters come in and insert squads of marines. Jarrod and Elaine go to the roof hoping to ride a helicopter to safety. Oliver and Candice still hide in the penthouse, but they are found. Candice accidentally exposes herself to the blue light and is absorbed; Oliver sacrifices himself in an attempt to kill a machine, but does not succeed. The army is thrown off the roof by the aliens and one of the small machine/lifeforms attacks Jarrod and Elaine. Together, they kill it, but with Jarrod badly hurt, both are hopelessly trapped when the aliens have defeated the military and begin approaching them. Resigned to their fate, they look up into the blue light, embrace and are sucked up.

A brief montage shows that cities such as New York City, London, Hong Kong, and Las Vegas have all been attacked and there seems to be no stopping the invasion. Inside the alien spacecraft, Elaine wakes up in an eerie blue gloom on a gory pile of lifeless human bodies. Tubes are sucking human brains into machine husks with humanoid exterior, animating them; probes go through the pile looking for what they can find. Elaine sees Jarrod in the pile but has to watch helplessly as his brain is removed from his body. She herself is spared when a probe finds that she is pregnant. Elaine is transported to another chamber where all the pregnant human women are being sent and Jarrod’s brain, glowing red in all of the blue, is inserted into a humanoid.

Animating the alien body, Jarrod seems to retain control, and comes to the aid of Elaine and their unborn child. The movie ends with a series of still images between the credits that depict “Jarrod” protecting Elaine and their child from other aliens. Eventually “Jarrod” defeats them, picks his girlfriend up, and runs off with her.

REVIEW:

Last fall, I saw previews and trailers for this film and debated whether or not it was worth the time/money to go see. After watching it this afternoon, I’m almost certain I made the right choice.

Skyline is another in a long history of films about alien invasions. This one, though, seems to be more along the thriller/suspense end of the spectrum.

The plot is basically this couple goes out to L.A. to visit an old high school friend. While there aliens invade and start snatching up people. As with any good (or bad) film of this ilk, the main characters have to investigate, resulting in the eventual death of at least one of them. The film end aboard the aliens spacecraft. No, there really isn’t much that really happens in between there, other than a bunch of running around, abducting, killing, and screaming at each other.

You know the phrase “style over substance”? Yeah, it doesn’t apply here.

The effects are something pretty to look at. I mean, come on, shiny lights all over the place, but if you’re going to use a ton of CG like that, there better be a good story to back it up, which there wasn’t.

I have to mention the ending. There is this final scene that takes place aboard the alien ship that was somewhat cool, it seemed more like something that should have been reserved for DVD extras. I have to question what they were thinking when they put that in there, seriously.

The cast is composed of actors you’d get for a direct-to-DVD feature. Yet another reason to be wary of this flick, if you ask me. I mean, if Donald Faison (best known as Turk from Scrubs) is the biggest name in your picture, something is off…no offense to Faison.

There are plenty of alien invasion flicks around. Almost all of them are infinitely better than this one. Skyline succeeds only in showing how to film blue lights and create weirs brain snatching CG monsters, nothing else. It is no wonder this film was easily forgotten. Chances are that by the time I spell check and post this entry, I’ll have forgotten it as well. So, should you go see it? Well, I don’t think its bad enough to totally avoid, but just rent it, don’t go out and buy the DVD or Blu-Ray. There are plenty of other things you could waste your money on!

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Megamind

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert):

Megamind (Will Ferrell) is a super-intelligent alien, and a incredibly handsome genius and master of all villainy, and self-proclaimed villain of the fictional Metro City. Megamind has constantly battled and lost to his nemesis Metro Man (Brad Pitt) since they both arrived on Earth as infants. On the day that Metro City dedicates a museum to their protector, Megamind and his sidekick Minion (David Cross) kidnap reporter Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey) and lure Metro Man into a copper-lined room. To everyone’s surprise, Metro Man is unable to escape and appears to be killed when Megamind’s death ray strikes him. Megamind revels in his victory against Metro Man, but shortly after becomes depressed, his villainy having no meaning without anyone to stop him.

While attempting to destroy the museum, he disguises himself as its curator Bernard (Ben Stiller) to talk to Roxanne. Megamind is inspired by a comment from Roxanne to create a superhero by injecting a worthy target with a serum fashioned from Metro Man’s DNA, granting them Metro Man’s super-abilities. As Megamind is selecting his target, Roxanne sneaks into Megamind’s lair; in the resulting chaos, Megamind accidentally fires the serum into Hal, Roxanne’s cameraman (Jonah Hill). Taking advantage of the gullible Hal, Megamind appears to the transformed human as his “space dad”, grooming Hal into the superhero Titan (which Hal mispronounces as “Tighten”) and preparing him to fight Megamind in the coming days. Meanwhile, Megamind has become attracted to Roxanne, and continues to date her using his Bernard disguise. Titan, also infatuated with Roxanne, becomes jealous of Bernard, while Minion, seeing Megamind losing interest in villainy, angrily leaves him. On a dinner date, Megamind’s disguise falters, leading Roxanne to dump him. Megamind, heartbroken, returns to his lair and vows to fight Titan the next day as planned.

Megamind becomes impatient waiting for Titan and seeks him out, finding that Titan is intending to use his powers for nefarious purposes. Outraged, Megamind taunts Titan into fighting him by revealing his space dad and Bernard disguises. In the midst of the fight, Megamind realizes that Titan will not be satisfied with simply imprisoning Megamind after his loss, but intends to kill him. Megamind then tries to activate his safeguard scheme by capturing Titan in a copper-lined trap and is shocked to find it fails to work. Megamind flees, leaving the city to celebrate Titan’s victory, until Titan reveals that he is taking over the city and goes on a destructive rampage as the new villain, much to everyone’s shock. Megamind returns to Roxanne, apologizing and convincing her to lead him to Metro Man’s secret headquarters where they might find another way to stop Titan. They are surprised to find Metro Man alive, secluded in his headquarters. Metro Man reveals he had become tired of fighting Megamind and had an epiphany; faking his own death to pursue his career as a musician. Without any new leads, Roxanne tries to convince Megamind to fight Titan as the city’s hero, but Megamind feels he is destined to always be the failing villain, and turns himself back into prison.

Later, Titan captures Roxanne and secures her to the top of Metro Tower, threatening to kill her if Megamind does not fight him. Seeing Roxanne in danger, Megamind pleads to the Warden for his release, apologizing for all the wrongs he committed before. To the former villain’s surprise, Minion has disguised himself as the Warden, accepts Megamind’s apology, and the two take off to save the city. They use an elaborate ruse, Minion disguising himself as Megamind to lure Titan from the tower and save Roxanne, while Megamind disguises himself as Metro Man to verbally berate Titan for his actions. Titan is temporarily bested, and told by “Metro Man” to leave “Metrocity” (Megamind’s distinctive mispronunciation of “Metro City”), but the deranged villain soon returns, seeing through Megamind’s disguise. Megamind is forced to run from Titan’s wrath, until Roxanne discovers where Megamind left his invisible car and the tool to extract the superhero serum from Titan. Megamind successfully retrieves the device and uses it on Titan, reverting him back to Hal. As Hal is now taken away to jail, the city cheers for its new hero, a role that Megamind realizes he is capable of choosing himself.

In the aftermath, the former Metro Man museum is rededicated to Megamind, who is slowly coming around to being the hero. He and Roxanne have developed a relationship, and hidden in the crowds, a disguised Metro Man gives Megamind his congratulations.

REVIEW:

I would classify this as a superhero film, but seeing as how the main character is a supervillain, it is kind of hard to do so. Megamind is Dreamworks’ entry into the realm of superheroes. They just chose to do it with a supervillain, which is something different…or at least it would have been, if we hadn’t just seen them make the villain the focal point in Despicable Me.

The  story here is a bit like what you get from Superman. Alien is sent to Earth to be saved from destruction, only on his way there, he is knocked off course by another kid on his way to Earth, who turns out to go on and become the city’s hero, Metro Man (a parody of Superman).

After a bit of history about how he became a villain, we are introduced to present day where the two are in an epic struggle for something, and we meet the token vixen/damsel in distress. This battle leads to the apparent death of Metro Man and the descent of Megamind into obscurity, until he figures out a way to create a new arch-enemy using a superhero serum derived from Metro Man’s DNA (found on his cape).

The patsy for this experiment is Roxanne’s cameraman, Hal, a total loser in every sense of the word. After a little while of being a hero, he gets corrupted by the power and turns to crime, and realizes that Megamind is after “his girl” he tries to kill Megamind. After Megamind’s initial defeat and some odd plot twist, we reach the film’s climactic battle and end sequence.

Storywise, this isn’t that bad, but it seemed to be a bit o recycled material, if you ask me. I get the feeling this was supposed to be Dreamworks’ The Incredibles, of sorts. Problem with that is that The Incredibles was original when it was released. This is nothing more than a series of parodies, done decently mind you, but still parodies. This really hurts this film, as it has such potential, it just needed a better story.

I guess How to Train Your Dragon spoiled me in terms of what Dreamworks can do since it was done so well. Not only was it a superior story to this, the animation was on a different level. Having said that, don’t get the idea that this animation isn’t top-notch, it just isn’t as good. I suppose you can say it looks a bit like it was done on older computers or something.

I am grateful that they didn’t try to stick a whole slew of pop culture references in here like this company is known to do, however, one or two wouldn’t have hurt. It very well might have made the film funnier, because other than Will Ferrell’s lines, I wasn’t really laughing.

Speaking of Ferrell, his mannerisms and characterization are a bit toned down (if you can believe that) as Megamind, but he was a great  choice to voice him.

Tina Fey as Roxanne wasn’t my cup of tea. I don’t know, for me it just seemed as if she should have been the typical helpless damsel in distress and not the type of genius that would warrant Tina Fey voicing her. Still, she didn’t do a bad job.

Brad Pitt as Metro Man is something quite interesting. I’m sure more than a few women would love for him to don some sort of superhero costume. He has a very limited role, but he does it in typical professional Pitt-style. Not shabby.

Jonah Hill was perfectly cast as the bumbling Hal, but his voice didn’t work as Titan. They should’ve done something to alter it a bit, at least in my opinion.

I went into this film, Megamind, expecting to either be blown away by something to rival Pixar in terms of story and animation, and yet I came away with nothing more than an attempt to turn a parody into an original story. While it works, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m sure there is an audience for this. As for me, I was entertained, just not blown away. This film is hurt by the legacy left by its Dreamworks predecessors, which really is a shame. I highly recommend this, especially if you’re looking for a good flick to watch with your kids or just need an escape from all these dark, bloody films out there today.

4 out of 5 stars

Green Lantern

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Millions of years before the Earth was formed, a group of beings called the Guardians of the Universe used the green essence of Willpower to create an intergalactic police force called the Green Lantern Corps. They split the universe into 3,600 sectors, with one Green Lantern per sector. The strongest of all the Green Lanterns was Abin Sur of Sector 2814, who defeated the ultimate being of fear called Parallax and imprisoned him in the Lost Sector (Sector 666) on the ruined planet Ryut. However, in the present day, Parallax (at the form of a Guardian of the universe) escapes from his prison after consuming the lives of three aliens stranded in the sector. Six months later, after killing four Green Lanterns and destroying two planets, Parallax attacks Sector 2814 and mortally wounds Abin Sur, who escapes and crash-lands on Earth. With his life reaching its end, Abin Sur commands his ring to find a worthy successor on the planet.

Test pilot Hal Jordan is whisked away to the crash site, where he is appointed Green Lantern by a dying Abin Sur. He travels to the Green Lantern Corps home base of Oa and meets Tomar-Re and Kilowog before encountering Sinestro, who is not pleased that a human – which is primitive compared to other species – has become a Green Lantern. Seeing himself unfit and fearful by Sinestro, Hal quits and returns to Earth. Meanwhile, after being summoned by a secret government organization, scientist Hector Hammond performs an autopsy on Abin Sur’s body, but a piece of Parallax’s DNA inside the corpse injects itself inside him, mutating the scientist and giving him telepathy and telekinetic powers, at the cost of his sanity. When he realizes that his own father, U.S. Senator Robert Hammond, had manipulated him to do the alien autopsy, he attempts to kill him by telekinetically sabotaging his helicopter at a party. But Hal uses his Green Lantern powers to save the senator and all of the party guests – including his girlfriend Carol Ferris, who later on recognizes him under the suit and mask. Shortly after, Hal encounters Hector, who succeeds in his second attempt to kill his father by burning him, and realizes that Parallax is on his way to Earth.

Back on Oa, the Guardians reveal to Sinestro that Parallax was originally one of them, until he desired to control the yellow essence of Fear against the wishes of his peers, ultimately becoming the embodiment of fear itself. Seeing that the only means to fight fear is fear itself, Sinestro requests for the Guardians to forge a ring of the same yellow power. However, Hal appears and tells Sinestro not to use the ring and asks the Corps to help him protect Earth from Parallax’s imminent invasion. His request, however, is denied and Hal himself must protect his home planet.

Upon returning to Earth, Hal saves Carol from being injected with Parallax’s DNA by Hector, but Parallax arrives – consuming Hector’s life force for failing to kill Hal before wreaking havoc on Coast City. Hal wards Parallax away from Earth and towards the Sun – using the Sun’s gravity to pull and disintegrate the entity. He loses consciousness after the battle, but is saved by Sinestro, Kilowog and Tomar-Re before the entire Green Lantern Corps congratulate him for his bravery. Hal tells Carol he now bears the responsibility of protecting his sector as a Green Lantern.

During the end credits, Sinestro, who is drawn by the power of fear, takes the yellow ring and puts it on.

REVIEW:

When I started this blog, one of the things I set out to do was to give the view and opinion of someone who didn’t go to school to be a movie critic or anything like that, but just likes movies. If ever there was a time to show that the critics have forgotten how to watch a film and enjoy it, Green Lantern is it.

I’m sure by now you’ve read/heard the scathing review of this film. I’ve heard it all from boring, cluttered, too much CGI, dull performances, etc. I could not be further from the critics on this one.

Before I get too far in on this, I have to mention that when the initial trailer was released back in November, critics, fanboys, etc. ripped it apart and haven’t stopped since then, even in their review of the finished project. Isn’t that a shame?

If you’ve been keeping up with my reviews, then you know that I don’t support 3D. I think it is nothing more than a gimmick, but I made a rare exception for this film. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t take advantage of the technology they way they could, except in the final credits. Not quite sure why they didn’t do a better job than that. One would expect more from such a high-profile film.

So, what is this film about?

Well, as with any good comic book film, especially those that aren’t Superman, Batman, or Spider Man, we have to get the origin. The film opens with some sweeping sci-fi visuals and narration by Tomar-Re that sets up the story, much in the way the scrolling story does in the Star Wars films. After the setup, we are introduced to our main villain, Parallax, as sucks the power of fear from some alien astronauts that accidentally happen upon him in his prison, giving him the power to escape and set out for revenge.

On his way, he encounters Abin Sur, and mortally wounds him. sur is forced to set down on the nearest inhabited planet. As he is not long for the land of the living, he sends his ring to find a worthy successor. Enter, Hal Jordan, cocky test pilot who would be anything but worthy to anyone that knows him. Heck, he even cost the company he works for a big government contract and crashed a jet!

Once Hal gets transported to where Abin Sur is, he is given the ring and somewhat told what to do with it. Of course, anytime aliens crash on Earth, the government immediately sends out some sort of task force to retrieve/confront them. Hal does his best to bury the body and takes off to figure out what exactly just happened.

After playing around with the ring for a while, he stumbles upon the secret to making it work and is transported to Oa, the homebase of the Green Lantern Corps. Here, he meets Tomar-Re, who tells him that he is the first human to ever be chosen, as well as inform him of the humongous responsibility on his shoulders now.

After a quick flying lesson, Hal in thrust into combat training with Kilowog, a brutish beast of a Lantern, and then a session with Sinestro which causes him to “quit”.

Then we meet the film’s other villain, Dr. Hector Hammond, who is summoned by an unknown organization to do an autopsy on the alien. Hammond is so fascinated by it, that he doesn’t realize that he touches and is infected by the yellow energy that is Parallax. This infection leads to his gaining psychic powers, and eventually mutating his head.

Realizing that the Corps may not be able to defeat Parallax, Sinestro persuades the Guardians to commission a yellow ring and start the Yellow Lantern Corps in an effort to defeat the menace, especially after revealing that Parallax was once a Guardian who was corrupted by the power.

Hal eventually returns to Oa in an effort to sway some members of the Corps to help him defend his planet, but to no avail. He then returns to fight  Hammond and then we get the film’s climactic confrontation with Parallax.

One of the few things I didn’t like about this film was how it suffered from “origin-itis”. Many initial superhero films suffer from it…and I do mean suffer. Hopefully, if they make a sequel, they can rebound from this. I understand the need to tell the origin, but it just seemed as if they were just hell-bent on giving us every angle about Hal Jordan’s character, including a random scene with his nephew and some brief family drama with his brother, that is bogged down the first half of the movie and made it nearly unwatchable.

The other thing I didn’t care for about this film was how it spent so much time on Earth. I think I said this with Thor, too. With a character like this, who is more or less an intergalactic space cop, why in hell would you spend so much time on Earth? It just made no sense to me!

One more thing that irked me was how they didn’t really use major character the way they should have. Sinestro is a major force in the Green Lantern lexicon, going from his mentor of sorts, to his arch-nemesis. They didn’t really capitalize on that they way the could have, but they did capture his contempt for Hal.

The rest of the corps was nothing more than cameos. It was sort of like Soundwave in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. We looked forward to seeing what was going to come of them, and there was no big payoff. It really was a letdown.

The action scenes here were fantastic, especially the training sequence and the climactic battle. I would’ve liked for there to have been more, though, but was more than happy with what was in here.

Normally, I’m no fan of CGI, but in this case, it works. After all, the Green Lantern suit is actually made of pure energy, as are the constructs. These are the true selling points of the character Green Lantern. If they didn’t get those right, they might as well have not made the film. Some people have said that these were overdone. These are also the same people who judge a film based on the teaser trailer or rumors they hear on the internet. Chances are they’re probably some pimply faced 40 something year old living in their parent’s basement eating hot pockets!

I don’t think anyone could have captured Hal Jordan more perfectly than Ryan Reynolds, although you could probably make the case for Nathan Fillion. With his charm, looks, and physique, Reynolds owns the character and I look forward to seeing more.

**for my female readers…there is a scene with him in nothing but his boxer briefs that you are sure to enjoy**

When Blake Lively was cast as Carol Ferris, I had my doubts, especially when you factor in the fact that she becomes the villanous Star Sapphire. I wondered why they didn’t go with someone else like Jennifer Garner, Ali Larter, or some other actress with action and acting chops. My initial skepticism was right, as Lively is hands down one of the worst actresses I”ve seen since Megan Fox or those Twilight brats! I’ve seen stronger performances from porn stars.

Peter Sarsgard and Mark Strong give exceptionally strong performances, especially, um…Strong. Sarsgard really plays up the angle of a disturbed mad scientist who has been driven insane by the power of fear that has infected him.

Strong is every bit the perfect Sinestro. He has the look, mannerisms, condescending tone…the total package. Someone said that as good as he is, Jason Isaacs would have been better. I’m not so sure about that, but it would be interesting to see. As a matter of fact, I think Isaacs voices him in Green Lantern: Emerald Knights.

Parallax is voiced by Clancy Brown, a voice that rivals that of James Earl Jones and Patrick Stewart, if you ask me. He’s a big cloud. Apparently, the filmmakers didn’t learn anything from the mistake of Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Having said that, Parallax, unlike Galactus, has no real form, so this is sort of acceptable.

Michael Clarke Duncan and Geoffrey Rush voice Kilowog and Tomar-Re, respectively. As I mentioned earlier, though, they were sort of underutilized. Come to think of it, I don’t recall hearing they had been cast until a couple of months ago.

I have to mention the music, briefly. Maybe it was just me, but I kept hearing inflection of the them to Superman here and there. Nothing wrong with that, it was just something my ears picked up. Perhaps that is what the composer wanted, so that people would be talking about his score.

In my post, “2010 Movie Awards“, Green Lantern earned the prestigious award of “Most Anticipated film of 2011”, a distinction that many have echoed. Did it live up to the hype? Well, for me, it could have been better, but yes, it did. I particularly liked the light-hearted tone of the picture.

I loved the direction Martin Campbell, who also directed some of my favorite films such as both Zorro flicks, takes with this film. The light-hearted tone is perfect for Green Lantern. It is important to remember that not every superhero is as dark and brooding as Batman.

Having said that, I’ve read some people call for Christopher Nolan to take over and make this a much darker film. WTF?!? Nolan is not God! The Dark Knight was good, admittedly, but it was not the best thing since sliced bread the way some people seem to think it is, so stop using it as a benchmark pice of cinema!

Every film stands on its own, as does each character. In a summer filled with superhero films, Green Lantern is sure to stand on its own two legs as something fun and different. In terms of filmmaking, it isn’t as good as X-Men: First Class, but it was more fun to watch, especially once it got going. This is a character that is a mixture of everything we love about sci-fi and the chivalry of the bygone days of the 40s. What isn’t there to love about this film? So, I guess the ultimate question is, should you go ignore what the critics have been saying and actually go see it? Hell yes! This picture, despite its flaws, is awesome! I’d gladly go see it over and over and over again! As you’ll be able to see from a post-credits scene, the sequel (if they make one) is on its way! Let the countdown begin!!!!

In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!

5 out of 5 stars

BASEketball

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , on June 15, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert):

At Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Joe “Coop” Cooper catches Reggie Jackson’s third home run in the stands and proclaims to his best friend, Doug Remer, that “One day, I’m gonna be a big sports star.”

16 years later, Coop (Trey Parker) and Remer (Matt Stone) are 23 and unemployed and about to have their gas shut off. They arrive uninvited at a party hosted by a former high school classmate of theirs. After finding out that their classmates have grown up and moved on with their lives, Coop and Remer find themselves outside drinking beer and shooting hoops on the driveway basketball court. There, two other former classmates challenge them to a game. The two see that their opponents are very good at basketball, so they say they will only play a new game they picked up “in the hood”. Clearly making this new game up as they go, Coop originally proposes the game Horse, but changes it to basketball with baseball rules: shots made from different locations count as singles, doubles, triples, and home runs, and missed shots count as outs. During the challenger’s first shot, Coop “psyches” him out to make him miss; this is another rule made up on the spot. A “psyche out” can be anything said or done that makes the offense lose their concentration and miss their shot. Coop and Remer continue playing their new game, “BASEketball,” and add a third member to their team, Kenny “Squeak” Scolari (Dian Bachar).

Six months later, people come from miles around to watch them play the game they created against other neighborhood teams. Ted Denslow (Ernest Borgnine) shows up to propose creation of the National BASEketball League (NBL), with numerous rules in place to prevent the sport from deteriorating as other sports had done: teams cannot switch cities, players cannot be traded, and individuals cannot make money via corporate sponsorship deals.

Five years after creation of the league, the NBL is in full swing with stadiums, teams, fans, and a major championship (the Denslow Cup). During the 1997 championship, Denslow, who is the owner of the Milwaukee Beers for whom Coop and Remer both play, chokes on a hot dog and dies. Denslow’s will grants Coop ownership of the Beers for one year; if they do not win the next Denslow Cup, ownership reverts to Denslow’s widow Yvette (Jenny McCarthy).

The owner of the Dallas Felons, Baxter Cain (Robert Vaughn), wants to change the league rules to allow teams to move cities and players to switch teams, but could not accomplish this while Denslow was alive. Yvette would have been willing to comply had she been given ownership of the team, but Coop refuses to accept any of the proposed changes. Cain and Yvette work together to make sure the Beers will lose the next Denslow Cup and Yvette will win ownership of the team.

Coop and Remer meet Jenna Reed (Yasmine Bleeth), head of the Dream Come True Foundation. She introduces them to one of the foundation’s young clients, Joey (Trevor Einhorn), and Coop and Remer treat him to a big day of living just like a BASEketball star.

In a private conversation at Cain’s office, Cain tells Remer that Coop has said no to Cain’s plans without talking to the other members of the Beers. Remer then goes to the Beers behind Coop’s back and tells the team what he learned from Cain. After Remer and the other members of the Beers confront him, Coop agrees to split all decisionmaking with Remer and the team. The team continues to agree that the rules should not be changed. Coop also seemingly enters into a relationship with Jenna, despite Remer’s attempts to get between them.

Cain cuts the funds to Jenna’s foundation, forcing Coop and Remer to ask Cain for help. Cain suggests creating a clothing line and sending the proceeds to her foundation. Coop is entirely against it, but Remer, as part team owner, immediately agrees, and becomes so obsessed with his newfound fame that he alienates Coop. After they win the league semifinals, Cain informs Coop and Remer through photos that their clothing line has been produced through child labor in Calcutta. If the public learns about it, the team and Jenna’s foundation will be ruined. Cain threatens to show the photos to the public unless Coop and Remer lose or skip the Denslow Cup game. Jenna learns about the child labor scandal and breaks it off with Coop. Coop blames Remer for the mess and they have a falling out, and Coop decides to go to Calcutta to resolve the situation.

Coop replaces all the child workers in the factory with adult workers and makes it back just as the fifth annual Denslow Cup begins. The Beers start with an abysmal performance, failing to make one hit in six innings. At the seventh-inning stretch, the Beers are down 16–0. After a moving speech from Squeak, Coop and Remer reconcile their differences and Yvette breaks off her alliance with Cain. Coop, Remer, and Squeak finally get back into the game and start scoring.

In the bottom of the ninth, Remer is on second, Squeak is on third, and Coop is up when his custom-made BASEketball (La-Z-Boy) pops. Joey brings Coop a new custom-made BASEketball made from a Barcalounger. Coop misses, but successfully completes the conversion, which is considered a home run for the win and the Denslow Cup. He meets Reggie Jackson after the game, who wishes him luck in the next season. Coop and Jenna reunite while Remer hooks up with Yvette, as the team happily carries Squeak on the Denslow Cup.

REVIEW:

Sunday night, the guys that created this film, as well as South Park, won a Tony Award for their Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon. Isn’t it amazing how far they’ve come, and yet there really isn’t much difference between the now and then, if you really think about it.

BASEketball has plays out a bit like a live action episode of South Park, and that is just fine with me, since it is done by the guy who actually are behind it in the first place.

The plot of this film is two losers go to a party at someone from their high school graduation class and in their drunken stupor, and an attempt to get over on the frat boy-types they accidentally create the game of baseketball, a mixture of baseball and basketball. Little did they know it would catch on like wildfire and 5 yrs later, there is a National Baseketbal League. Of course, whenever a team’s owner dies, there has to be someone who wants to movie in, and this film follows that formula, as well as the wholesome love interest who is doing something good. Oh, and there is the whole stipulation about the will.

Confused about all of that? Believe me, it isn’t as convoluted as it sounds, but there are a lot of things going on in this film that make it seem like it is a bit much, and yet at the end it wraps up in a nice neat package.

Parker and Stone are hilarious writers and this film lets them bring their comedic talents to the big screen.

I’m no sure about this, but I think this was Yasmine Bleeth’s last role before she disappeared from the industry. Am I the only one that thinks she resembles Tiffani Thiessen (Kelly from Saved By the Bell)? This is a subdued sexy role for her, but she’s hot, nonetheless.

Robert Vaughn is a nice villainous owner…just like the NFL owners of today!

I’m not going to beat around the bush. This is not a great film, but it is hilarious. It is bad in the way that you want to keep watching. If you’re a fan of the humor of South Park, Team America: World Police, etc., then this is right up your alley. If you’re not, then chances are you’re not going to enjoy this film, save for a couple of chuckles and noticing the cameos here and there. Should you see this? Sure, what harm is it to laugh once in a while?

4 out of 5 stars

The Craft

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , on June 12, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Four girls at a Los Angeles Catholic school form a coven of witches that cast spells on their classmates and each other. Their new powers overwhelm them, leading to an internal power struggle. Sarah Bailey, a sixteen year old troubled teenager with a painful past and history of suicidal tendencies and hallucinations, moves to L.A. with her father and stepmother to start a new life. She is soon enrolled into a Catholic school where she comes into contact with three unlikely friends, Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle. The girls, who all seem to be socially outcast, with various problems in their lives that they wish they could fix. The three girls dabble in occult practices, and when they notice Sarah has the powers of a natural witch, they talk her into joining their coven. After Sarah agrees to accompany the girls in their group, they soon realize that with a fourth witch in the coven they are able to cast spells they couldn’t before, and begin to amend all the things wrong in their lives – but like everything else in life – things come with a price…

REVIEW:

The Craft has garnered cult status over the years, despite not being that great of a film, or so th critics would have you believe.

The premise of this film is that a group of girls at a school are practicing witchcraft, but lack a 4th member of their coven to be complete. Just in time, the 4th member transfers in, with great power and suicidal tendencies. As the film progresses, the girls get closer, until Nancy finds a book of powerful magic in the Occult store, which leads to her becoming an evil person and sways her two friends with her. After awhile their evil ways alienate them from Sarah and cause conflict which must be resolved.

Some people are quick to criticize how cheap the special effects were in this film. Normally, I’d be right there with them, but not this time. Sometimes cheesy effects enhance the viewing experience, and other times they are distracting (like anything you see on Syfy channel). The effects here aren’t anything special, mind you, but they could be much worse, so get over it!

The story is ok, but seems a bit like it was written at the last minute and not really thought out. That isn’t to say it was bad or that it had plotholes big enough to drive a truck through, but it just didn’t seem well thought out to me.

When this film came out, these were all hot actresses. now, 15 yrs later, they haven’t turned into complete dogs, as a matter of fact, they look about the same, just taller and older.

At one time, there was talk of starting a direct-to-DVD franchise of sequels of this film. As we’ve been able to see with the series of Lost Boys spin-offs, that would not have been a good idea. Still, a sequel would not have been a totally bad thing.

This film is not for everyone, but those that are into the whole witchcraft type of thing will actually like it. There isn’t much action or drama for those that are looking for that kind of stuff. Basically, this film is about 4 girls and their teenage angst, but remember this was the 90s, so no vampires or werewolves are to be found and cause unnecessary drama. That right there makes this awesome! Seriously, though, there isn’t anything that shines about this film, but nothing about it warrants a bad rating. It was just an average humdrum flick for me. You may feel different, though.

3 out of 5 stars