Archive for July, 2011

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Posted in Action/Adventure, Family, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Three years after the events of Prince Caspian, Lucy and Edmund Pevensie are staying with their cousin Eustace Scrubb. When water pours from a painting of a ship on the ocean hanging in Lucy’s bedroom, Lucy, Edmund and Eustace are transported into an ocean in Narnia.

They are rescued by Caspian and Reepicheep, and taken aboard the Dawn Treader, the ship featured on the painting. Caspian invites them on a voyage to rescue the seven Lords of Narnia whom his uncle Miraz banished.

They first visit the Lone Islands, where people are sold as slaves. Caspian and Edmund are captured and imprisoned while Lucy and Eustace were sold as slaves. Caspian meets one of the lost lords, who reveals that the slaves who are not sold, are sacrificed to a mysterious green mist. The Dawn Treader crew rescues them, battles the slave traders and reclaims the Lone Islands. The lord, who becomes the new governor, gives Caspian a sword originally given by Aslan from the Golden age.

At another island Lucy is abducted by invisible Dufflepuds who force her to enter the manor of Coriakin, a magician. Lucy finds a book of incantations and recites a visibility spell after discovering different incantations such as beauty and snow. They later meet Coriakin who encourages them to defeat the mist by laying seven swords at Aslan’s Table, but warns them that they are all about to be tested. While journeying, Lucy casts the beauty incantation, entering a dream in which she has transformed into Susan. She finds herself with Edmund and Peter and finds that neither Lucy nor Narnia exist. Aslan reveals himself to Lucy and explains the consequences of self-doubt and that her siblings only know of Narnia because of her.

They later visit a volcanic island. Edmund, Lucy and Caspian recover another sword from within a magical pool that turns anything that enters it into gold, and has turned one of the lost lords into gold as well. Edmund feels that this pool holds the key to limitless wealth, and he and Caspian argue about it before Lucy stops them. Meanwhile, Eustace discovers and steals some treasure, and finds the skeleton of another lord who perished on the island. While Edmund and Caspian look for him, a dragon approaches and is driven away from the Dawn Treader. The dragon turns out to be Eustace, who has been transformed by the enchanted treasure after succumbing to its temptations. Reepicheep later tries to amend the situation and befriends Eustace.

Then they later arrive at Aslan’s Table with three lost lords asleep around it. As they place the swords on the table they realise one is still missing. The star descends from the sky and turns into Lilliandil, a beautiful woman who guides them to the Dark Island, lair of the mist. The crew voyages to the island and discovers the last surviving Lord. He warns them not to think of their fears but Edmund fails, his fear manifesting as a monstrous sea serpent that attacks the ship. In the following fight between Eustace and the serpent, the last sword is thrown at Eustace, stabbing him. Wounded, Eustace flies away, landing on a sandy island and encountering Aslan, who transforms him back into a boy and sends him to Ramandu’s island with the last sword. The mist tries distracting Edmund by appearing as Jadis, the White Witch. Eustace overcomes the mist and puts the sword on the table, awaking the three sleeping lords and destroying the mist and the Dark Island; Edmund slays the sea serpent and they rescue the sacrificed people.

Eustace rejoins Lucy, Edmund, Caspian and Reepicheep and they sail to a sea covered in lilies, eventually finding a shore before a massive wave. Aslan appears to them and tells them that his country lies beyond, although if they go they may never return. Caspian refuses, acknowledging that he still has duties and responsibilities as Narnia’s king, but Reepicheep reveals that it has been his intention to enter, and Aslan blesses him before he paddles above the wave. Aslan opens a portal in the wave to send Lucy, Edmund and Eustace home, telling them that Lucy and Edmund have grown up and will never return to Narnia. Aslan encourages them to know him in their world by another name, and tells Eustace that he may return (having changed his ways throughout his journey). Edmund and Lucy bid farewell to Caspian and Aslan before entering the portal with Eustace. The three are returned to the bedroom as the ship disappears behind the waves where Eustace is called by his mother saying he has a visitor Jill Pole.

REVIEW:

Yes, I know that I have not reviewed the previous films in this series. Rest assured, they will be forthcoming.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader picks up a few years after the previous film, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

The Pevensie children are older now. As a matter of fact, Peter and Susan have reached the age where they are not allowed in Narnia. This leaves the film to focus on Edmund and Lucy, as well as the annoying cousin Eustace.

So, the plot of this film starts with Edmund trying to join the British military, but he is too young. I’m not sure which war is going on at this time, but I want to say WW I. He and Lucy return to where they are staying…a house shared with their cousin Eustace.

After some heated exchanges about Narnia, the painting on the wall begins to come to life and floods the room, transporting the three of them to Narnia.

Upon arrival, they are picked up by the crew of the Dawn Treader, which includes old friends Caspian and Repicheep.

During their time  on the ship, it is learned that Narnia is being overrun by slave traders and the unsold slaves are being sacrificed to the green mist. This gives way to the major plot of the film, recovering the seven swords that open up Aslan’s country.

Somewhere along the way, before reaching Aslan’s country, Eustace get turned into a dragon (which actually was an upgrade, if you ask me), but after a sever injury, he is turned back by the magic of Aslan.

At film’s end, no surprise, but Eustace becomes a better person and Edmund and Lucy learn that this was their last adventure in Narnia, as they have grown up.

This has to be the best of the series, so far. Funny enough, it took them leaving Disney to become interesting, or maybe this was just a more interesting book than the last two.

The action scenes here are pretty good, but I think they could have done better. I felt as if they were trying to go for the swashbuckler thing here, and then switched over to medieval fantasy, and while it may have worked in the books, on film it didn’t translate or mesh as well. Still, it was entertaining.

The effects could have been better, but at least they didn’t look homemade.

One thing I didn’t particularly care for was how Lucy kept trying to be her sister. I think this is in the book, but  on film, it seemed as if they were doing as some sort of self-image thing, rather than her trying capture her own individuality or something like that.

Edmund also had a bit of a similar issue trying t live up to his brother Peter, but it is just brushed upon, which was fine with me.

I think if there in one franchise that can really capitalize on the completion of the Harry Potter films, it would be The Chronicles of Narnia. That is, if they are done right. While the first two films were alright, they weren’t particularly memorable. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a step in the right direction and I highly recommend this to everyone.

4 out of 5 stars

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Police Academy 3: Back in Training

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The movie begins in a large garage structure, where Capt. Proctor (Lance Kinsey) and Commandant Mauser (Art Metrano) meet up with former Police Academy cadets, (now Sgts.) Chad Copeland (Scott Thomson) and Kyle Blankes (Brant van Hoffman). It seems one of the two Police Academy schools is getting the axe, and Mauser wants Copeland and Blankes to make sure Lassard screws up.

After the governor’s speech in which he will appoint a committee to evaluate which of the two schools should remain open, Mauser starts getting an edge by kissing up to the governor (offering the committee an escort, showing governor pages of useful tactics, etc.), Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes) gets an idea on how to win: along with now Sgt. Jones (Michael Winslow) and Lt. Callahan (Leslie Easterbrook), he calls back Sgt. Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), Sgt. Hightower (Bubba Smith), and Sgt. Tackleberry (David Graf) to help train the new recruits. Among the new recruits are Sgt. Fackler’s wife (Debralee Scott), Sweetchuck (Tim Kazurinsky), Zed (Bobcat Goldthwait), Karen Adams (Shawn Weatherly), and Tackleberry’s brother-in-law Bud Kirkland (Andrew Paris). Tomoko Nogata (Brian Tochi) is a recruit of Mauser’s academy, but decides to put him in with Lassard’s academy instead.

After a few weeks of recruiting, Nogata is lovestruck over Callahan, and Sweetchuck contemplates quitting after his roommate Zed drives him crazy (although Tackleberry talks him out of it). Copeland and Blankes make the recruits do stuff that would make the committee think they were hopeless. Mauser wants them out on the field soon, knowing the committee will be there. The recruits fail, and are teased by Mauser and Proctor. However, Mahoney gets back at them by taping Mauser’s eyes closed while doing a taste test. Proctor succeeds in removing the tape, but the tape pulls off Mauser’s eyebrows.

Both Lassard and Mahoney give a pep talk to each of the cadets before training resumes. At the policeperson’s ball, Mahoney meets up with his hooker friend from the first film and has her do a favor on Proctor after he insults Mahoney and Adams. Copeland accidentally spills punch on Mrs. Hurst, and Mauser tries to inferfere. Meanwhile, the hooker tricks Proctor into removing all his clothes and then locking him out of the hotel room (much to the dismay of onlookers). He goes out and steals a car and drives to the academy. The car is out of gas, however, and Proctor enters a building. However, the building he walks into is the Blue Oyster Bar. Mauser insults Lassard in front of the recruits by telling him that he is winning (after he pestered Hurst so much that Hurst made him believe he was winning), so Mahoney gets him back by giving a speech at the ball and then putting the microphone in a pitcher of water. When Mauser grabs it, it electrocutes him.

On the final day of the cadet training/evaluation competition, one person from each school attends the governor’s ball. (Proctor misunderstands and sends in two, one of whom portrayed by David James Elliott) Copeland and Blankes play with the computer system as cars are sent to wrong locations, but are caught by Hooks who punches them out cold. At the governor’s party, a gang of thieves dressed as busboys kidnap Hedges and take the governor hostage but the squad arrives in time to save the day and rescue the governor.

Lassard’s school stays open, and the epilogue shows Lassard making a speech on how the academy is grateful for the “many, many” recruits. The graduating class salutes to the camera before the movie ends.

REVIEW:

Please excuse the briefness of this review, I’m in a bit of a rush.

Police Academy 3: Back in Training picks up where the previous films left off, this time with the characters we met in the first film now assuming the mantle of teachers at the academy. The plot thickens when it is learned that the state only has the fundage to keep one police academy open, but the other academy is run by Commandant Mauser, who was the antagonist is the last film. As you can imagine, there are many hijinks and pranks leading to some oddly placed mission and culminating in the ceremony at the end.

So, here are 3 films into this series, and there hasn’t been anything to really capture my attention. Sure, the same characters are there, as are the quirks that made them interesting in the original Police Academy, but after a while they are at the risk of getting stale.

This wouldn’t be such an issue if not for the fact that none of the new cadets don’t bring anything to the table. Sure, you can make the case for Bobcat Goldwaith’s Zed, but other than just being some kind of maniac with an annoying voice, he doesn’t do much, honestly.

Critics apparently gave this film negative reviews. I won’t go that far, but it is definitely weaker than Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment. Having said that, it isn’t a necessarily bad film, but it isn’t one I would recommend unless you’re trying to watch the whole series.

3 out of 5 stars

Black Swan

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a young dancer with a prestigious New York City ballet company. She lives with her mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey), a former dancer, now amateur artist, who stopped her career at 28 when she became pregnant with Nina.

The ballet company is preparing for a production of Swan Lake. The director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), has to cast a new principal dancer as he has forced his present principal dancer, Beth Macintyre (Winona Ryder), into retirement. The lead must be able to portray both the innocent, fragile White Swan and her dark, sensual, evil twin, the Black Swan. Nina is selected to compete for the part alongside several other dancers. After her audition goes badly, she visits Thomas to ask him to reconsider and give her the role. He tells her that her rigid technique makes her ideal for the White Swan, but she lacks the passion to dance the Black Swan. He then forces a kiss on her until she bites him. Later, she is chosen for the Swan Queen. An intoxicated Beth angrily confronts Thomas and Nina, and she is later hit by a car and seriously injured in what Thomas believes was a suicide attempt.

Nina begins to witness strange happenings around her. Thomas, meanwhile, becomes increasingly critical of Nina’s “frigid” dancing as the Black Swan and tells her she should stop being such a perfectionist and simply lose herself in the role. She makes the acquaintance of another dancer in the company, Lily (Mila Kunis), whom Thomas described as having the qualities Nina lacks. The relationship between the two dancers cools because of Lily’s indiscretions, but to make up for it, Lily appears at Nina’s door and invites her for a night out. Nina is hesitant at first, but decides to join Lily against her mother’s wishes. While out, Lily offers Nina a capsule of Ecstasy. Upon returning to the apartment, Nina has another fight with her mother. She barricades herself in her room and has sex with Lily. Next morning, Nina wakes up alone and late for rehearsal. When she arrives at the studio, she finds Lily dancing as the Swan Queen. Furious, she confronts Lily and asks her why she did not wake her up in the morning. Lily states that she spent the night with a man whom she met at the club, and it is revealed that Nina imagined the whole sex episode.

Nina’s hallucinations become stronger during rehearsals and at home, which culminates in a violent fight with her mother after which she passes out. Concerned about Nina’s erratic behavior, her mother tries to prevent her from attending the opening performance, but Nina forces her way through and insists that she can dance. Lily and Thomas are puzzled about her appearance since Nina’s mother had called saying she was sick.

The first act goes well until Nina is distracted during a lift by a hallucination and the Prince drops her. Distraught, she returns to her dressing room and finds Lily dressed as the Black Swan. As Lily announces her intention to play the Black Swan, she transforms into Nina herself. Nina and her double struggle, and Nina shoves her double into the mirror shattering it. She grabs a shard of glass and stabs her double in the stomach. Nina sees that the body is Lily’s. She hides the body, returns to the stage, and dances the Black Swan passionately and sensually. Growing black feathers, her arms become black wings as she finally loses herself and is transformed into a black swan. At the end of the act, she receives a standing ovation from the audience. When she leaves the stage, she finds Thomas and the rest of the cast congratulating her on her stunning performance. Nina takes him by surprise and kisses him.

Back in her dressing room preparing for the final act, the dying of the White Swan, there is a knock on her door. She opens it to see Lily, who has come to congratulate her on her performance as the Black Swan. Nina realizes her fight with Lily, just as all the strange visions she had experienced, were hallucinations, but sees the mirror is still shattered. She notices a wound on her body and realizes that she stabbed herself, not Lily. Back on stage, she dances passionately and seamlessly as the White Swan. In the last moments of the ballet, when the White Swan throws herself off a cliff, she spots her mother weeping in the audience. The theater erupts in thunderous applause as Nina falls. As Thomas and the rest of the cast enthusiastically congratulate her on her performance, Lily gasps in horror to see that Nina is bleeding. As Nina lies wounded, the film closes with her staring up at the stage lights, whispering, “I felt it – Perfect – It was perfect,” as the screen fades to white and the audience chants her name.

REVIEW:

In college, I was forced to take a Fine Arts class, during which we spent quite a fair amount of time on Swan Lake. Black Swan isn’t necessarily a film version of that ballet, but the ballet is a major plot point.

This is one of those film that one could not get around hearing about during awards season. Many had it picked to sweep the awards (until they saw The King’s Speech). Now, I’m not one to get too involved with who should or should not have won this or that awards, but in comparison to the film that were nominated, this one and …Speech are nearly neck and neck.

So, what is this highly acclaimed film about? Well, we have this ballet dancer, Nina, who is a hot young dancer trying to get her big break at the ballet company she dances for. The new season brings about the company’s production of Swan Lake, which will feature a new face, according to the director. Eventually, this turns out to be Nina, bit seriously has problem embracing both the white and black swans, unlike her frenemy, Lily, who appears to be primed to take her spot.

As the film progresses, we see the decline in Nina’s mental health, until she finally does something before she takes the stage for the finale of her performance that one would never have guessed she was able to do when we first met her.

The ballet scenes are quite breathtaking. It is no secret that most of us could care less about ballet, but this is one of those films that could make you convert. The director did a great job of filming these scenes and conveying the atmosphere to the audience.

The hallucination scenes are quite interesting, but they do cause the viewer to get a bit confused, if they’re not ready for it.

Natalie Portman as Nina is awesome! No wonder, she was nominated for so many awards.

Mila Kunis made for the perfect foil to Portman, as well as gave us some nice eye candy (just wait until you see the lesbian scene.)

Black Swan is far from the most interesting thing on film, but it has its moments. Great film often fall into this category. If you were to ask me, if I agreed with the awards and accolades this film has received. This year, though, too many folk don’t. Having said that, I did enjoy this film thoroughly, and I trust that you will, as well.

5 out of 5 stars

Cowboys & Aliens

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , on July 30, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1873 Arizona, a loner named Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) awakens with no memory of his past and a mysterious shackle around his wrist. He enters the town of Absolution where he learns that he is a notorious criminal wanted by many people, including Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), who rules the town with an iron fist. Absolution soon faces an even greater threat when alien spaceships attack the town. While his shackle holds the key to defeating the aliens, Lonergan must ally with Dolarhyde and other former enemies to make a stand against them.

It is eventually revealed that Ella (Olivia Wilde), a mysterious woman Lonergan has fallen in love with, is an alien warrior who was sent to Earth to help resist the invaders because they destroyed her homeworld. She explains that the aliens are a group of lowly space pirates, though very technologically advanced by Earth standards, who value our gold and wish to exterminate humanity to take it. However the alien pirates are not invulnerable: Lonergan’s gauntlet weapon can kill them, and stabbing them or shooting them can as well, though they are far stronger and better armed than any humans.

Armed with this knowledge the group, now led by Colonel Dolarhyde and including a group of Indians whose families were kidnapped by the space pirates, attack their grounded mothership. In a sneak attack they destroy the alien speeders, forcing the space pirates to fight them on the ground where they are eventually, after a prolonged battle, defeated. The remaining alien pirates attempt to flee in their damaged mothership but Ella sacrifices herself to detonate the ship’s engine core with Lonergan’s gauntlet.

Lonergan, now somewhat able to recall his past, leaves the town, now with Colonel Dolarhyde, a changed man due to the incident, in charge.

REVIEW:

For those of you that keep up with this blog, then you are more than aware that two of my favorite genres are westerns and sci-fi, so when a picture comes along called Cowboys & Aliens, you can all but imagine my overabundance of joy.

The mixture of genres, surprisingly, has not been done…as far as I know, up to now, but for some reason, I believe we’ll be seeing more in the future.

Cowboys & Aliens is based on a cult comic. I have never read the comic, so I can’t rightly say that this is a loose or accurate interpretation of the source material, but judging by how well Jon Favreau did with bringing a faithful interpretation of  Iron Man from the comic book pages to the big screen.

The plot of this picture takes us along for the ride with Jake Lonergan who wakes up in the middle of the western desert with no memory of who he is and a highly advanced technological something or other on his arm, upon making it to town, Jake learns that he is a wanted man.

Just as the Federal Marshall is about to take him and another prisoner away, here come the aliens. You’ve all seen this scene before.

Following the attack, the major characters and some others trek into the woods to track don the aliens and stop them. While out there, they meet up with some Apache indians and learn of Ellen’s secret, not to mention setup for the final confrontation with the aliens.

A lot of people hear the title to this film and assume it is going to be something like Mars Attacks, but that is not the case. As a matter of fact, they actually play it straight.

I don’t really know why with a cast that includes Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, and Daniel Craig, I expected some light moments, but I did. I wasn’t really disappointed that they were few and fast between, but it would have breathed a different bit of life into the film.

The aliens aren’t going to go down in history as the best looking or smarted we’ve ever seen, but they were pretty good. I was reminded of the aliens from the Alien franchise when I saw them.

I can’t say that I cared much for the pacing of this film. It was very old school in its development early on, just like an old western. However, you’d think they’d have been able to come up with something more interesting. Maybe it’s just me, though.

This is another one of those pictures that has caused a disconnect between the casual viewer and the critic. The critics have been doing nothing short of ripping this one apart. The casual viewer, however, has been thoroughly enjoying it, as have I. Sure, there are moments here and there that should have been tuned up a bit more ,but overall this is a very enjoyable summer blockbuster. I highly recommend it !

4 out of 5 stars

Sucker Punch

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the 1960s, a 20-year-old woman nicknamed “Babydoll” (Emily Browning), is institutionalized by her sexually abusive stepfather (Gerard Plunkett) at the Lennox House for the Mentally Insane in Brattleboro, Vermont after she is blamed for the death of her younger sister. Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac), one of the asylum’s orderlies, is bribed by Babydoll’s stepfather into forging the signature of the asylum’s psychiatrist, Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), to have Babydoll lobotomized, so she can neither inform the authorities of the true circumstances leading to her sister’s death, nor reclaim her recently deceased mother’s fortune. As Babydoll enters the institution, she takes note of several items that would be integral if she were to attempt an escape.

In the days prior to being lobotomized, Babydoll retreats to a fantasy world in which she is newly arrived in a brothel owned by Blue, whom she envisions as a mobster. She befriends four other dancers — Amber (Jamie Chung), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Rocket (Jena Malone), and Rocket’s older sister, Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish). Dr. Gorski is envisioned as the girls’ dance instructor, informing Babydoll that her virginity would be sold to a client known as “The High Roller” (Jon Hamm). Gorski encourages Babydoll to perform an erotic dance, during which Babydoll fantasizes that she is in feudal Japan, meeting the Wise Man (Scott Glenn). After she expresses her desire to “escape,” the Wise Man presents Babydoll with weapons. He tells her that she would need to collect five items for an escape: a map, fire, a knife, a key, and a fifth, unrevealed item that would require “a deep sacrifice”. Before parting ways, he instructs her to “defend herself,” and she is confronted by three demonic samurai, which she defeats. As her fantasy ends, she finds herself back in the brothel, her dance impressing Blue and other onlookers.

Inspired by her vision of the Wise Man, Babydoll convinces her friends to prepare an escape. She plots to use her dances as a distraction while the other girls obtain the necessary tools. During each of her dances, she imagines adventurous events that mirror the secretly ongoing efforts. These episodes include infiltrating a bunker protected by steam-powered World War I zombie German soldiers to gain the map (mirrored by Sweet Pea entering Blue’s office and copying a map of the brothel-institution); storming an Orc-infested castle to cut two fire-producing crystals from the throat of a baby dragon (mirrored by Amber stealing a lighter from the breast-pocket of a client); and boarding a train and combating mechanized guards to disarm a bomb (mirrored by Sweet Pea stealing a kitchen knife from the belt of the brothel’s cook). During the last of these fantasies, Rocket sacrifices herself to save Sweet Pea and is killed when the bomb detonates, which is paralleled in a fight between the cook and the other girls in the brothel, ending with the cook fatally stabbing Rocket.

Blue overhears Blondie relaying Babydoll’s plan to Madam Gorski. After discovering the gruesome scene around the cook in the kitchen, he has the grieving Sweet Pea locked in a utility closet and confronts the remainder of the girls backstage, proceeding to “make examples” by shooting Amber and Blondie. He then attempts to rape Babydoll, but she stabs him with the kitchen knife and steals his master key. Babydoll frees Sweet Pea, and the two start a fire so that, as a result of the fire alarm, the institution’s checkpoint doors unlock. The two manage to escape into the courtyard, where they find their way out to be blocked by a throng of gentlemen. Babydoll deduces that the fifth item needed for the escape is in fact herself. Despite Sweet Pea’s protest, she insists on sacrificing herself by distracting the visitors, thus allowing her friend to slip away.

The scene cuts back to the asylum in which the surgeon (Hamm) has just performed Babydoll’s lobotomy. The surgeon is perturbed by Babydoll’s expression and starts to question Dr. Gorski as to why she authorized the procedure. It is also revealed that the happenings in her dream world also happened in the hospital (stabbing an orderly, starting a fire, and helping another girl escape). Gorski realizes that Blue has forged her signature, and summons the police, who apprehend Blue as he attempts to assault a catatonic Babydoll.

Sweet Pea is stopped by police at a bus station while in line to board a bus to Fort Wayne, Indiana, but she is rescued by the bus driver, who misleads the police; he is revealed to be the Wise Man from Babydoll’s fantasies.

The film ends with the screen going black and Sweet Pea saying that “you have all the weapons you need, now fight!”

REVIEW:

I initially thought this was based on a comic, but, as far as I know, it isn’t. Critics have been lambasting it as resembling a video game or music video. I have to wonder…is this really a bad thing? Can you just imagine if they made a game like God of War into a game and not change anything about it?

So, this film is one of those weird, twisted flicks that messes with your head. I say that because just as you think you’re understanding what’s going on, it goes off in another direction and leaves you wondering WTF?!?

The plot revolves around a girl who is committed for accidentally killing her sister. Her stepfather, who is the typical douchebag stepfather one would expect, wants her to be lobotomized so that she doesn’t remember the sexual abuse she endured after the death of her mother, and so that he could get the inheritance.

Somehow, right before the lobotomy happens, we end up at some whorehouse of the 50s or 60s, which is where the majority of the film takes place. While here, Babydoll meets the other girls, Amber, Blondie, Rocket, and Sweet Pea. Together, they form a pact to follow the plan to escape we that is this brothel.

There are various fantasy sequences (which I think are the best part of the film) created by Babydoll when she dances tat apparently sends the people around her into a state of shock and awe, though it is never explained how or why this happens.

After the next to final part of the plan goes awry and there are some casualties, the remaining girls figure out what must be done and that only one of them can escape, which she does. following the exposition, we see Babydoll getting her lobotomy and we have to wonder…was it all a dream and more importantly, did she really find a way to keep her memories intact through the lobotomy?

On would think with all these sexy girl in this film, that it would be a true feast of eye candy, but that isn’t the cast. Truth be told, it was like they used them to bring in make viewers, but never really did anything with them. For goodness sakes, these girls are in a brothel! Is it too much to ask for a lap dance or something?

The highlight of this film has to be the fantasy sequences. One in particular sticks out in my mind, and that is the one with the demonic samurai. Granted, I love all things samurai, so I may be a little biased, but this scene just seemed to work so much better than the others and was definitely more interesting.

Sure, the action in the film was great, but it came off as secondary to the unnecessary, drawn out, forced drama (some may say plot).

The cast is comprised of mostly young actresses, but none of them are really that good. If anything, it should be noticed that Emily Browning, who was Violet in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, has grown up (and gotten a bit hot!!!). If this film is any indication, we should expect big things from her in the future, as long as she doesn’t get boggled down with the likes of her co-stars and their bad choices.

Seriously, can you think of a good film that Jamie Hung or Vanessa Hudgens was in? Neither can I!

So, what did I think of Sucker Punch? Well, it is different, that’s for sure. Is it different in a good way? Well, see, that’s the problem…I’m not sure if I liked this or not. I didn’t hate it, but I’m not going to go buy the DVD, either. It was just one of those odd films that  left me with a strange feeling afterward. I recommend it, but tread lightly, it may not be what you think.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Soren (Jim Sturgess), a young barn owl, lives peacefully in the forest of Tyto with his family; his father, Noctus (Hugo Weaving); his mother, Marella (Essie Davis); his older brother, Kludd (Ryan Kwanten), his younger sister, Eglantine (Adrienne DeFaria) and Ms. P the family’s nest maid. Soren enjoys hearing stories of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, a mythical group of warrior owls, who once saved all owlkind from the evil “Pure Ones” in a great battle in which the Guardians’ leader, Lyze of Kiel, defeated the Pure Ones’ leader Metal Beak. Kludd, however, thinks Soren soft-headed for believing in such stories. One night, while branching, a jealous Kludd pushes Soren and loses his balance in the process, and they both fall to the ground below. They are attacked by a Tasmanian devil but are saved , and also kidnapped by a pair of long-eared owls named Jatt (Leigh Whannell) and Jutt (Angus Sampson).

They are taken to St. Aegolious, a dark and forbidden canyon, home to the Pure Ones, where Soren meets an elf owl named Gylfie (Emily Barclay) and her captor, a boreal owl named Grimble (Hugo Weaving). Nyra (Helen Mirren), second-in-command of the Pure Ones and the mate of Metal Beak, claims that the owlets now work for the Pure Ones as slaves. Soren and Gylfie protest, and are sent to be pickers, along with most of the captive owls. Kludd denies his brother, and goes away to be a soldier with other selected owls. They are tutored by Nyra in the ways of the Pure Ones, who believe that Tyto owls (barn owls and their relatives) are the strongest owls and that, because of this, they have the right to rule the owl kingdoms. The other captured owls are forced to sleep under the full moon. Gylfie informs Soren that this will cause “moon-blinking”, a trancelike state in which owls lose all sense of will and individuality. Soren and Gylfie manage to stay awake, which means that they are not moon-blinked. They are brought to a large cavern to pick through owl pellets for small metal flecks. Soren discovers that the flecks en masse cause weakening pain in owls, when he is ordered to deliver a fleck to the bag they are kept in. Metal Beak (Joel Edgerton) and an unknown owl making a bargain in which the unknown owl will receive a portion of the owl kingdoms and the Tree in return for laying a trap for the Pure Ones’ enemies, the Guardians of Ga’Hoole. Grimble secretly takes Soren and Gylfie to his library, where he reveals that he is not truly a Pure One. He also tells the two owlets that his family was captured by the Pure Ones and forced into their service. He teaches Soren and Gylfie to fly, so they can warn the Guardians of the Pure Ones’ plans.

Kludd has become a strong soldier, and his promise prompts Nyra to ask him about Soren’s similar potential. Hoping to recruit him, the Pure Ones go to the library, only to find Grimble teching Soren and Gylfie to fly. Nyra attacks Grimble, Soren and Gylfie. Kludd joins the fray on Nyra’s side, ignoring Soren’s pleas. Grimble sacrifices himself to hold them back, and Soren and Gylfie just barely escape to begin their quest. On their journeys, they meet a burrowing owl named Digger (David Wenham); a Great Grey owl named Twilight (Anthony LaPaglia); and Soren’s old nestmaid, a snake named Mrs. P (Miriam Margolyes). They join Soren with the promise of leading him to the Sea of Hoolemere, the location of the Great Tree and the home of the Guardians.

Soren and his allies are mobbed by crows on the way to the Sea and they nearly lose Twilight’s lute, in which Mrs. P is riding. The battle brings them to the shore of the Sea of Hoolemere and the home of an echidna mystic (Barry Otto). The crows deliberately led them to the meeting so that the Echidna could give them their bearings to the Great Tree. Far out over the ocean the group encounters a fierce hurricane, and Digger falls towards the sea. Soren dives to save him, only to find Digger being rescued by an enormous snowy owl with an armored mask – a Guardian of Ga’hoole. The Guardian leads Soren and his friends through the storm to the Great Tree. Digger’s saviors are Boron and Barran, the king and the queen of the Tree. The king and queen, as well as the ranking officers of Ga’hoole, hear Soren’s tale. The search-and-rescue squadron leader, a great grey owl named Allomere (Sam Neill), expresses doubts about Soren’s story. But battle-scarred whiskered screech owl Ezylryb (Geoffrey Rush) defends Soren. Boron decides to send a scouting party, led by Allomere, to St. Aegolious.

Soren, Gylfie, Twilight, and Digger begin their training in the different trades of the Tree. During one lesson, Ezylryb takes them out to learn how to “really fly,” using a powerful storm to teach the young owls how to use the wind currents instead of fighting them. Soren briefly masters the technique of flying by instinct, only to lose control and to be saved by Ezylryb. After the lesson, Soren converses with Ezylryb in his hollow tree and learns that Ezylryb is, in fact, Lyze of Kiel. Soren is disillusioned with the seemingly heroic stories when he sees his hero’s disfigurements and hears that the battle in the stories wasn’t as heroic as he thought.

Allomere returns without his scouts. He tells King Boron that they were ambushed; that the scouts were killed; and that he barely managed to return with two moon-blinked owlets. One of the moon-blinked owlets is Eglantine, who was kidnapped by Kludd. Outraged, the Guardians go to war. At the urging of Ezlyryb, Soren reluctantly stays to tend to Eglantine. She soon awakes, but with shocking news: she wasn’t rescued, but given to Allomere by Kludd. Allomere is revealed to be a traitor, and Soren and his friends rush to the Guardians’ aid. When the Guardians arrive at St. Aegolious, they are drawn into a trap. Allomere peels off at the last moment and the Pure Ones unleash the power of the flecks against the Guardians, leaving the owls helpless on the ground. Soren and his friends arrive minutes too late, just as Metal Beak and Nyra send the bats to finish off the defenseless Guardians. Soren sends Twilight, Digger and Gylfie to hold back the bats. He plunges into the burning forest fire, carrying an oil lamp that becomes engulfed in flames after flying through the fire. The band’s arrival causes Metal Beak to distrust Allomere. Believing that he has been betrayed, Metal Beak orders a group of bats to viciously kill Allomere.

Soren plunges into the flecks’ magnetic field to drop the flaming oil lamp on the mechanism which holds open the lids over the flecks. The fire spreads across the machine and burns through the ropes. The lids slam down, freeing the Guardians. With his plan disrupted, Metal Beak orders the Pure Ones to fight the Guardians. Ezylryb and Metal Beak square off, as do Soren and Kludd. Their fight leads to them ending up in the burning forest. Soren tries to talk some sense into Kludd, who tells his younger brother that the Pure Ones believed in him when no one else did. He attacks Soren with renewed vigor, sending them both tumbling over a fallen tree and causing Kludd to break a wing. He convinces Soren to save him, only to attempt to pull his younger brother into the flames. Soren dodges the attack, and Kludd falls into the flames instead. Soren sees that Ezylryb, Metal Beak, and Nyra are engaged in fierce combat. Filled with rage, he snaps off a burning branch and flies off to help Ezylryb. He takes Metal Beak by surprise, arriving in time to save Ezylryb. Metal Beak easily overpowers Soren and throws his branch away. Soren regains his weapon, just as Metal Beak moves in for the kill. Metal Beak impales himself on the branch, and Nyra retreats with the remaining Pure Ones. Soren and his friends return to the Great Tree with the owlets, and Soren is greeted by Eglantine and his parents. Soren, Gylfie, Twilight, and Digger are made Guardians of Ga’Hoole.

In the epilogue, Soren reveals that Kludd’s body was never found and Nyra is still out there with a contingent of Pure Ones. Kludd is then shown to be alive, now with the glowing red eyes of the other Pure Ones. He walks around and stares down at Metal Beak’s body and mask, hinting at a sequel with Kludd as the new Metal Beak. After being interrupted by an owlet, Soren states he doesn’t want to give him “daymares”. Ezylyryb insists on taking flight into another storm, and they all fly towards the sea.

REVIEW:

I’ve seen some beautifully animated film in my day, but Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole has to be up there with the best of them. Now, I didn’t see this in theaters, but I can only imagine how beautiful this looked on the big screen, because it sure was impressive on my tv screen.

On that note, I’ve made it no secret that I have a great disdain for 3D, but if there was a film that could have used it the way it should have been, this is it. The flying and action scenes were breathtaking, and of course the detail on the owls made them look almost real!

All that said, you could wrap up dog poop in a shiny little box, but that won’t make it any more enjoyable, just a prettier picture. Now, I’m not saying this film is dog poop, but as much energy and hard work that they put into the animation and detail, one would think they would have made a more interesting story.

Yes, that’s right, this is one boring flick. If you read the plot up there, you would think it would be a lot more interesting, but you’d be wrong. I can’t really put my finger on what it is that makes this film such a snoozefest, but it just wasn’t interesting.

That point aside, along with the animation, the voice casting is pretty top-notch. Featuring the likes of Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, and Sam Neill, there is a certain sense of sophistication that emanates from this film and really sets the tone.

When all the dust settles, this is not a bad film, it just isn’t what I thought it would be. That is not a good or bad thing. Yes, this is far from your average film, but it just doesn’t seem to add up to a great one. I still think you should all see this at your earliest convenience. It truly is a work of art!

4 out of 5 stars

Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After a random attack the night before by a local gang known as “The Scullions” and their infantile leader Zed (Bobcat Goldthwait) (he steals $8 from Mr. Sweetchuck), Chief Henry Hurst (George G. Robertson) arrives at the 16th precinct and notifies its captain, Pete Lassard (Howard Hesseman) that the precinct is the worst in the city. Nevertheless, Hurst gives him 30 days or else Lassard is out. Before he leaves, Mauser (Art Metrano) schemes his way into talking to Hurst. Hurst promises him the rank of captain should Lassard fail. Pete calls his brother Eric (George Gaynes) and asks him for six new recruits, as was promised by Hurst. Throughout the movie, Mauser is seen scheming with his dim-witted partner Sgt. Proctor (Lance Kinsey) as he attempts to take control of the precinct.

Carey Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), Larvell Jones (Michael Winslow), Eugene Tackleberry (David Graf), Moses Hightower (Bubba Smith), Laverne Hooks (Marion Ramsey), and Douglas Fackler (Bruce Mahler) join the 16th precinct, and some are assigned a veteran officer partner since they are rookies: Fackler has Dooley (Ed Herihly), Mahoney has Vinnie Schtulman (Peter van Norden), and Tackleberry has Sgt. Kathleen Kirkland (Colleen Camp). At first, Tackleberry disapproves that his partner, Kirkland, carries stigmatized faults because of the fact she’s a woman, but they later hit it off when they compare their preference of gun choices. Tackleberry later confides to Mahoney that he may have fallen in love with her.

Mahoney and Schtulman spot a robbery at a merchant’s place (“Schewchuk’s Lighting” a chandelier store owned by Mr. Sweetchuck – Tim Kazurinsky), but the robbers escape through a back door before Mahoney and Schtulman even enter the shop. Eventually Fackler, Tackleberry and Kirkland arrived, each one contributing in his own characteristic way to the destruction of the store.

Mauser is ready to suspend them, but Mahoney makes a passionate plea that convinces Lassard to give them another chance. While all this is going on, Zed and his gang go shopping in a supermarket. They cause havoc as they go, leaving the store with wagon-loads without paying and Mr. Sweetchuck is already at hand in the supermarket to be further tormented this time by Zed & co.

Mauser gives Mahoney a new assignment; patrolling a tunnel, covering him and his partner with soot in the process. He gets revenge on Mauser by switching his shampoo with Tackleberry’s epoxy resin solution, which glues his hands to his hair. He ends up embarrassing himself in front of the station, and has to wear a wig through the remainder of the film. On his morning drive to the station the next day, Pete Lassard spots some of Zed’s men and tries to deal with them, but is eventually over-powered and spray-painted. After his rousing speech to finish what they started, the whole gang is riled up. Progress is made and most of the gang is captured (leading to 42 arrests), but Mauser informs the captain that most of the charges were dropped. Mahoney sees that Mauser did this deliberately on purpose, so as revenge has a full body cavity search done on him (the search was supposed to go to one of the arrested gangmembers).

Tackleberry goes on a date with Kirkland, where they stay out late dancing. They profess their love for each other and have sex (but removing their concealed weapons first before clothes). Pete goes to see his brother Eric at a Japanese steakhouse, and Eric comes out with an idea to hold a fair. At the night of the fair though, Zed’s men trash the place. Lassard is out of a job the next day, while Mauser is promoted Captain. His first act is to remove Mahoney and Schtulman, who is quick to object to Mahoney’s dismissal.

Mahoney, Schtulman, and Lassard get together in an last-ditch attempt to stop the gang. They send in Mahoney undercover to find the leader of the gang. (Everybody at this point does not know Zed’s name or that he is the gang leader.) Lassard and Schtulman wire him, using duct tape and a radio microphone. Under the guise of “Jughead,” he is able to infiltrate the gang and find out both their hiding spot and the name of their leader. His cover is blown however due to the radio microphone cutting into a baseball game, which leads to Lassard calling every man to the location. Mauser intervenes, but takes Fackler through the air duct. However, Fackler accidentally bumps him and pushes him inside. The police arrive and arrest every gangmember there. Zed escapes with Mahoney, but Lassard arrives and prepares to shoot Zed with a loaded pistol. Mahoney punches him down a flight of stairs, while Hooks arrests him. It is then revealed that Lassard’s gun wasn’t loaded, as he “never carried live ammo since ’73”.

The movie ends with the officers attending Tackleberry and Kirkland’s wedding. They drive off the Police Academy lot in a monster truck.

REVIEW:

I apologize for he brifness of his review.

Those lovable misfits from Police Academy have returned for a second go-round. This time, they are full-fledged members of the police force. As rookies, they have to be partnered up with veteran police officers.

After some scenes showing how the new officers react with their new partners, we get to the meat of the plot, which involves Sgt. Mauser and his scheme to become captain. Along the way to scheming his way to the top, Mauser is the butt of many practical jokes.

A climactic plot element is the confrontation between the police and the Scjullions, a gang that existed sheerly to bring a criminal element to the film.

I won’t pretend to say that this is as good as its predecessor, but itis worth a viewing, so check out if you get the chance. You won’t be disappointed.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars