Archive for September, 2011

Forever, Darling

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , on September 28, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

After five years of marriage, chemical engineer Lorenzo Xavier Vega (Arnaz) tends to neglect his wife Susan (Ball) in favor of his work. When she wishes aloud that she had a more attentive spouse, her Guardian Angel — coincidentally the mirror image of her favorite movie star (Mason) — appears. He advises her to take a greater interest in Lorenzo’s career, so she agrees to accompany him on a camping trip to test the revolutionary new insecticide he’s developed. (Lorenzo’s boss declares it will “make DDT look like talcum powder”, a line with ironic meaning to modern audiences.) Susan’s dream of a second honeymoon turns into a nightmare when everything that possibly could go wrong does.

REVIEW:

Fans of I Love Lucy will find this film to have a very similar feel to it, as Lucy and Desi are again playing husband and wife, though nowhere near as loving.

Forever, Darling is the second film venture with these two. The first was The Long, Long Trailer. 

I really don’t have much to say about this film. As much as I love Lucy on the small screen, for some reason her big screen ventures seem to fall flat with me, with the exception of Mame. I think this may partially be because I’m so sued to seeing her as Lucy Ricardo, that any other role comes off as an epic fail.

Strangely enough, it is the exact opposite with Desi. I love him as Ricky Ricardo, but he seems to be more at home acting here. Of course, Ricky is basically just Desi being himself, so this may be or chance to actually see him act.

The plot here isn’t too bad, though the whole guardian angel thing, while a bit comical, adds this weird element to everything that sort of changes the tone. The jury is still out with me on whether this good or bad, though.

This is labeled as a comedy, but at times it is a bit too serious to fit that bill. On the other hand, it is too funny to be a drama. I wouldn’t go the extremes of saying it is a dramedy, either.

There are moments that will make you laugh out loud, and I suppose those moments are what give this film its distinction.

Is this a film worth watching? Yes, but be warned, while it does star Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, it is not…I repeat…in NOT I Love Lucy. If you go into this expecting something similar, you will be disappointed. That point aside, this is a decent movie, though, it does seem to bog down in some muck in the middle and almost totally loses the audience. I would say watch it if you’re a classic cinema fan, but given today’s audences’ tastes, you probably wouldn’t like it.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

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The Invention of Lying

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on September 25, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film features a high concept narrative set in an alternate reality in which there is no such thing as lying and everything said is the absolute truth. In this world people make blunt, often cruel statements, including those that people would normally keep to themselves. There is a lack of religious belief, and the absence of fiction results in a movie industry limited to lecture-style historical readings, and advertisements as bluntly truthful as the people are.

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is an unsuccessful lecture-film writer who is assigned to write about the 1300s, a “very boring” era. One night he goes out on a date with the beautiful, charming and wealthy Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner). She tells Mark she is not attracted to him, due to his looks and unsuccessful financial situation, but is going out with him to satisfy her extremely prejudicial mother and as a favour to Mark’s friend Greg Kleinschmidt (Louis C.K.).

The next day Mark is fired from his job due to lack of interest in his films, and his landlord evicts him for not paying his rent. Depressed, he goes to the bank to close his account. The teller informs him that the computers are down, and asks him how much money he has in his account. Mark has an epiphany and tells the world’s first lie, that he has $800 in his account. The computer comes back online and shows his balance is $300 but the teller gives him the full $800 anyway, assuming that the computer made a mistake.

Mark then lies in a variety of other circumstances, including telling an attractive woman that the world will end unless they have sex, preventing a police officer (Edward Norton in a cameo) from arresting his friend Greg for DUI, getting money from a casino, and stopping his neighbour Frank Fawcett (Jonah Hill) from committing suicide. He then writes a screenplay about the world being invaded by aliens in the 14th century and that the memories of all humans were erased. He becomes wealthy from the success of the film which he named “The Black Plague.”

Mark convinces Anna to go out with him again hoping she will see past his looks and weight now that he is financially secure. On their date Anna congratulates Mark for his success and admits that he would be a good husband and father. She is still not attracted to him because if they ever have children Mark would contribute half of the heredity to their children, making them “fat kids with snub noses” and Anna does not want that. Mark then gets a call that his mother had a heart attack and rushes to the hospital. There, the doctor (Jason Bateman) tells him that his mother is going to die. She is terrified of death, believing that death will bring an eternity of nothingness. Mark, through tears, tells her that death instead brings a joyful afterlife, introducing the concept of a Heaven to her, and she dies happy while the doctors and nurses appear awed by what he says.

Mark soon receives worldwide attention for his supposed new information about death. Under pressure from Anna, he tells them, through “ten rules”, he talks to a “Man In The Sky” who controls everything and promises great rewards in the good place after you die so long as you do no more than three “bad things.” Some time later Anna and Mark are hanging out together in a park and Anna asks him if they marry would being rich and famous make their children not fat with snub noses. Mark wants to lie but doesn’t because of his feelings for Anna.

Meanwhile Mark’s rival Brad Kessler (Rob Lowe) pursues Anna romantically, motivated because of Mark’s success. However Brad’s blunt, rude manner makes Anna uncomfortable though she continues dating him; they become engaged. Anna invites Mark to the wedding. Mark tries to convince her to not marry Brad but fails. Anna goes to the park she first went to with Mark and sees a slightly overweight child with an ice cream when some thinner boys come and mush his ice cream into his shirt. She yells at them and then they run away. She runs up to the boy and wipes away his tears while asking his name. He replies ‘Short Fat Brian’ to which she tells him: ‘you are so much more than just that.’

Before the wedding Mark’s friend Greg shows up and tells him that he didn’t lose her yet and Mark reluctantly attends Anna and Brad’s wedding. There, he objects to the marriage, but the officiant informs him that only the Man in the Sky can stop the wedding. Brad and Anna both ask Mark to ask the Man in the Sky what Anna should do but Mark refuses to say anything and leaves, wanting Anna to choose for herself. Anna walks out and Mark confesses his ability to lie and that the Man In The Sky he told everyone about was made up. Anna struggles to comprehend the concept and asks why he didn’t lie to convince her to marry him; Mark states that it “wouldn’t count.” Anna confesses that she loves him.

Some time later, the now-pregnant Anna and Mark are shown married with a son, who has learned his father’s ability to lie

REVIEW:

Imagine what the world would be like if everyone told nothing but the truth? Well, that is the world that The Invention of Lying is set in.

I’ve been postponing this film every week since it was released on DVD, thinking it might be nothing more than another one of those dramedy flicks that seem to be becoming more and more prevalent. I won’t say this isn’t one of those, but it does start off hilarious, especially when you think about the fact that these people can do nothing bt tell the truth.

The bluntness of these people is hilarious to us, but to them it is just everyday conversations. For instance, Jennifer Garner flat-out tells Ricky Gervais that she’s not attracted to him and he’s fat and has a snub nose. Granted, these kind of things happen today in our society, but for some reason, the way she said it was funny.

The plot of this film is something that we don’t see very often…an original story! Kudos to Ricky Gervais for coming up with this. I actually thought this may have been a book, Twilight Zone episode, or short story, but apparently not.

The acting here is a little dry for my taste. That is not to say that it is bad, it just is that humor that Gervais brought to audiences with the original The Office and tends to do in everything he does. For me, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Here, it works initially, then fades away and becomes more of a nuisance than anything.

I mention how the film starts out hilarious than tapers off. I’m not sure if that is because the joke gets old, or if it does indeed turn more towards the drama angle, but whatever the reason, it deeply affects the film, which is truly a shame, because if they wold have kept up the pace and tone of the first part of the film, this could have been great.

Instead, in typical Gervais fashion, they have to go and smack society in the face with our shortcomings and such and his character is the one that is the one to start it all. Don;t even get me started on that whole Jesus beard he had going near the end.

I must mention that Rob Lowe does play a pretty good douchebag slimeball villain. Of course, this character is actually not much different that the one he played in Wayne’s World, so it should come as no surprise. The guy does bring something different to the table when he’s on screen, though.

Would I recommend The Invention of Lying? Yes, but I wouldn’t go rush out to find it. Nothing about this film is memorable. Hell, I just finished watching it and already I’ve forgotten about a good chunk of it! Still, I did enjoy and think this is worth a viewing or two.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Tourist

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on September 25, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The movie opens with Elise (Angelina Jolie) being followed by French police, working with Scotland Yard under the direction of Inspector John Acheson (Paul Bettany). Acheson has spent years attempting to catch Elise’s old lover, Alexander Pearce, who owes £744 million in back taxes. While at a cafe, Elise receives instructions from Pearce: board a train to Venice, pick out a man on the way who resembles Pearce, and trick the police into believing that this decoy is the man himself. Elise follows the instructions, picking Frank (Johnny Depp), an American tourist. She spends much time with him, seeming to start a romance. The police recognize the ruse, but it does fool Reginald Shaw (Steven Berkoff), a gangster from whom Pearce stole $2.3 billion.

Pearce leaves further instructions for Elise to attend a ball. Elise abandons Frank, who is then chased by Shaw’s men. Through a mishap Frank is arrested by the police, only to have a corrupt inspector attempt to turn him over to Shaw’s men in exchange for the bounty on Pearce’s head. During the transaction Elise rescues Frank, leading Shaw’s men on an extended chase and eventually escaping. Afterward she leaves Frank at the airport with his passport and a satchel full of money, asking him to go home for his own safety.

Elise is revealed to be an undercover agent sent to catch Pearce, who may have instead become his ally. Because of her fears for Frank, she comes back to her role as Scotland Yard agent, and sets up a sting against Pearce. Frank, apparently newly in love with Elise, has not left, and worms his way in, upsetting the plan. When Frank is pulled out by the police, Elise goes after Pearce to a new rendezvous point. The other agents follow with Frank aboard, but Shaw is following even more closely. When Elise arrives at the destination, Shaw moves in, takes her prisoner, and threatens her with disfigurement or death unless she finds and opens a safe containing his stolen money. Despite Elise’s peril, Inspector Acheson repeatedly turns down police requests to intervene, convinced that Pearce will show. Frank escapes police custody and confronts Shaw, posing as Pearce and using information previously shared by Elise to convince Shaw that he is truly Alexander Pearce. Ultimately, Chief Inspector Jones (Timothy Dalton) arrives and orders police snipers to fire, killing Shaw and his men. Jones lifts Elise’s suspension, but then terminates her employment.

After the confrontation, the police run out to chase a possible sighting of Pearce. Frank then opens the safe, with only Elise present, demonstrating that he knew the safe combination, and was, in fact, Alexander Pearce the entire time, and had been in control all along. He and Elise take the money and run away, leaving behind a check for the balance of his taxes owed. Acheson wants to pursue him, but Jones determines that with the taxes paid, Pearce’s only crime is that he stole money from a now dead gangster. Jones orders the case to be closed. Frank and Elise then sail away.

REVIEW:

When this film was in production, much was made about how Angelina Jolie was going to take Johnny Depp from his wife and children and leave Brad Pitt. You know how tabloids like to fabricate stories and such.

With those stories, though, The Tourist had a mediocre box office showing and received mostly negative reviews. So, the question is…how will I rate this film, eh?

I’m no fan of Jolie, at least not since her Tomb Raider days when she actually had some meat on her bones. Having said that, she looked the better here than she has in years. It might be the whole British thing she had going. It really worked for her, plus, I think directors have told her she’s too skinny and she’s finally starting to listen.

Johnny Depp takes a break from being Captain Jack Sparrow, though he does go into his British accent a couple of times in the film, to play this role as an American tourist/ math teacher who has recently lost his wife. I’ll admit it was a bit strange seeing him out of “character” for the first time in forever, but it was nice to get a bit of a change. Sometimes we forget that Depp is a competent actor.

Jolie and Depp start out as two strangers meeting on a train, and their chemistry throughout feels like they are just two strangers uncomfortably making small talk. I expected more. This may go back to that whole think about Jolie trying to steal Depp, but who knows.

Paul Bettany and Timothy Dalton are supporting characters here, but to be honest, neither really brings anything to the table. I fond it odd that Bettany was cast in a role that cold very well have been played by some cheaper actor, who may or may not have done better with it. To me, it seems as if Bettany’s role would have been fleshed out a bit more.

Rufus Sewell makes this random appearance in the film. I’m not sure if he was meant to be a cameo or if perhaps he just wanted a quick paycheck and was asked to do these two scenes, bt it actually made no sense for him to have been there, when they cold have gotten some extra to do his role, seriously!

The action in the film isn’t bad, but for a spy film, which is what this actually is under all the murkiness of the convoluted plot. I think they cold have done a bit more in the climax, but that’s a personal preference.

I mentioned that Jolie and Depp have no chemistry, and that is very apparent in the ballroom scene, which was already supposed to look uncomfortable. Ironically, that might very well have been their best scene together.

The score to this film left me scratching my head. It seemed to be light-hearted and fun, much in the same way as the first two Harry Potter films. My issue with that is it doesn’t fit with the tone of the film, at least not for most of it, anyway.

I put my hatred of Jolie and my man-crush of Depp aside when I was watching this flick. I don’t think it helped any, though. Fact of the matter is, while this isn’t anywhere near as bad as the critics wold have you believe, The Tourist just doesn’t live up to what it could be. I can recommend this, but be warned that it is nothing more than an average flick with overpriced stars.

3 out of 5 stars

 

War

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

During a shootout against Chinese Triads at a dock warehouse, FBI agents John Crawford (Jason Statham) and Tom Lone (Terry Chen) stumble across the notorious assassin Rogue (Jet Li), a former CIA assassin who now works for the Japanese Yakuza. Rogue ambushes Crawford and is about to execute him when Lone appears and shoots Rogue in the face, causing him to fall into the water. Rogue’s body was never found and he is presumed dead. However, Rogue survives and his retaliation against Lone, his wife and his daughter, leaves three corpses in the ashes of their home.

Three years later, Rogue re-appears, working under Chinese Triad boss Li Chang (John Lone). Rogue is assisting Chang against Chang’s arch-enemy and Rogue’s former employer, the leader of the Japanese Yakuza, Shiro Yanagawa (Ryo Ishibashi). Rogue first attacks a club ran by the Yakuza in order to recover a pair of antique gold horses, family heirlooms of Li Chang. However, Rogue is secretly setting the Yakuza and the Triads against each other, in order to push the two factions toward all-out war.

Now the head agent of the FBI’s Asian Crime Task Force, Crawford is determined to hunt Rogue down and exact revenge for Lone’s death. Crawford’s obsessive pursuit of Rogue has taken a toll on his personal life, estranging him from his family. Crawford comes close to catching Rogue in the wake of Rogue’s various killing sprees against the Triads and Yakuza, but Rogue always manages to stay one step ahead.

Ultimately, Rogue’s machinations have gained the trust of both Li Chang and Yanagawa. Rogue succeeds in betraying Li Chang, but spares Li Chang’s wife and child, turning on the Yakuza. With Chang dead, Yanagawa is finally ready to come to America, where he intends to take over and expand Yakuza business operations. However, he is confronted by Crawford and the FBI; Crawford presents Shiro with proof that Rogue has betrayed him and spared Li Chang’s family, but Yanagawa refuses to assist Crawford in locating Rogue.

Later, Rogue delivers the horses to Shiro personally. Knowing of Rogue’s betrayal, Yanagawa captures Rogue and demands the location of Li Chang’s family. Rogue kills all of Shiro Yanagawa’s men, and engages in a sword fight against Shiro Yanagawa himself. Rogue reveals that he is actually FBI agent Tom Lone (who, after receiving plastic surgery, changed his voice to obtain a Chinese accent); and killed the real Rogue, assuming the assassin’s identity. Rogue/Lone reveals that his actions have all been designed to bring him face-to-face with Yanagawa, so he could kill the man who ordered the death of his family. Yanagawa reveals that Crawford was in his pocket and responsible for leaking Lone’s identity and home address to Rogue. Angered, Lone disarms and decapitates Shiro Yanagawa.

Meanwhile Chang’s wife receives a package from Lone, composed of the golden horses that belongs to Chang’s family and a message reading, “Make a new life”. Yanagawa’s daughter also receives a package with the same message and inside the box is her father’s head. Lone then calls Crawford as he was packing up his office, telling him to meet him at the dock warehouse they last made their investigation. Before going to the warehouse, Crawford enlists the help of Goi (Sung Kang), an FBI sniper who helped in the investigation throughout the film.

At the warehouse, Crawford and Rogue battle each other in an intense hand-to-hand fight. When Rogue reveals his identity as Lone, a devastated Crawford reveals his employment of Yanagawa and that he only gave Lone’s address to Shiro because he thought that the Yakuza were only going to beat Lone up, and did not expect the family to be assassinated by Rogue. Crawford begs Lone for forgiveness, but is rebuffed by Lone, finalizing his identity as Rogue. During the revelation, Goi takes aim at Rogue, but Crawford jumps in Goi’s line of fire, saving Rogue’s life. Rogue pushes him away and shoots him in the back, later driving out of town accepting his new identity.

REVIEW:

I guess tonight just turned out to be the day of 3 letter movie titles. First, there was Rio, and now…War.

I’m a pretty big Jason Statham fan, so it was just a matter of time before I got around to watching this. I am starting to see a pattern in his films, though. Not to spoil the ending, but many of them seem to have the same twist. I wonder if that is done on purpose or if it is just a coincidence.

The best thing about this film is the action. Of course, with Statham and Jet Li, would you expect less. The thing about that, though, is the two never get a showdown, so that was a bit of a letdown. When they do come face to face, they circle each other and talk for a good 5 minutes leading to the film’s conclusion. It was actually a bit of a tease, not to mention anti-climactic.

I really liked the plot, even though it did do a bit of jumping around which left me a bit confused. Of course, I was also taking playing Words with Friends on Facebook, so that might have been a reason for the confusion. I probably just missed something. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Recently, I’ve really gotten into the samurai culture, so seeing them use samurai swords in this film was a real treat for me, even if it was briefly and not in the traditional samurai way. Still, that sword fight was awesome.

I wish I had more to say about this flick, but the fact of the matter is that it wasn’t really that impressive as a whole picture. It came off as very pedestrian to me. I mean, there wasn’t anything special about it. Sure, it wasn’t as plain as sliced bread, or anything like that, but I guess I was just expecting that final battle between Statham and Li, which never happened and that really ruined the whole picture for me. Still, I think I would recommend this, if you’re looking for a decent action flick.

3 out of 5 stars

Rio

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

n Brazil, several types of exotic birds get smuggled to different countries. A crate with a male blue macaw hatchling falls off the truck into the streets of Moose Lake, Minnesota. Linda Gunderson quickly finds the macaw, adopting him as her pet and naming him Blu. However, he is unable to fly, which makes him subject to ridicule by the Canadian Geese that frequent the outside of Linda’s bookstore.

One day, ornithologist Túlio Monteiro invites Blu and Linda to vacation in Rio de Janeiro, on the condition that Blu mate with a female macaw before his return to Moose Lake, as he is the last male of his species. Linda takes the offer and the three are flown to Rio, where Blu meets a Red-crested Cardinal named Pedro and his Yellow Canary friend Nico. Blu is taken to Túlio’s aviary, and falls in love with Jewel, a cynical, fiercely independent blue macaw longing to flee into the wilderness. Blu and Jewel are captured by a boy named Fernando and a psychopathic Sulphur-crested Cockatoo named Nigel, both of whom work for a group of smugglers led by Marcel. Nigel tells the macaws that he vowed to smuggle exotic birds because of his role being replaced on a television program. Blu and Jewel flee from him, ending up in a jungle.

Fernando meets Linda and Túlio, explaining that Marcel had forced him to capture birds before cooperating with the two to Blu. The macaws meet a Toco toucan named Rafael, who offers to take them to his bulldog friend Luiz to remove a chain connected to their legs. He also tries to teach Blu how to fly, before the three meet Pedro and Nico. Nigel hires a horde of thieving marmosets led by Mauro to capture Blu and Jewel. Pedro and Nico take Blu and Jewel to a bird’s Rio-style party, where they perform a duet, but are attacked by the marmosets. Their bird friends fight them, allowing the five to flee. Linda and Túlio are taken to the smugglers hideout. While there, Marcel explains that he will use the Rio Carnival to kidnap Blu and Jewel.

Meanwhile, Blu and the others meet Luiz. Luiz manages to release the chain holding Blu and Jewel using his drool. After a brief falling out, Blu and Jewel decide to go their separate ways. When Blu and Rafael learn from Pedro and Nico that Nigel captured Jewel, the four rush to the carnival to rescue Jewel, while Linda and Túlio organize a rescue attempt on the birds.

While Linda and Túlio pose as dancers, Marcel enacts his plan, using Nigel to capture the birds. On board Marcel’s Short SC.7 Skyvan, Blu and Jewel release the captive birds out of the plane, but Nigel fractures Jewel’s wing and then proceeds to finish Blu. Before he can do so, Blu uses a fire extinguisher to send Nigel into the propeller of the plane’s engine, and the smugglers flee. Unable to fly, Jewel slips out of the plane, falling towards the ocean. Blu jumps out of the plane to rescue Jewel, and finally discovers that he is able to fly. Later, Linda, Túlio and Fernando organize a sanctuary to protect the jungle from smugglers. Blu and Jewel raise three chicks together and celebrate with their bird friends, Nigel is ridiculed for his loss of feathers, and the smugglers are sent to jail.

REVIEW:

Remember those days when animation was hand drawn? Oh, how I miss those days! Rio is another of these compter animated films in which the characters all look nearly alike and the plot is more generic than peanut butter.

Is it me, or are of these films from Dreamworks all starting to seem like they want to be something bigger, but they just haven’t been able to measure up to Shrek, yet. I can think of two that were really good, but the rest, including the Shrek sequels (excluding 2), all fall into mediocrity. This one is no exception.

Sure, the plot is a nice one about a rare blue macaw that was kidnapped from Rio, somehow ended up in Minnesota where he was taken in by this socially awkward little girl who took care of him and then somehow they are asked to go back to Rio so that he can mate with the only other of his kind. Along the way, there are perils, hijinks, and a psycho cockatoo.

The problem I have with the plot is that it all seemed too…I dunno..formuulaic, for lack of a better word. The whole while I was watching this, nothing happened to make me sit up and say wow! Everything was something we’ve all seen before and you could tell what was going to happen next throughout the entire picture.

If there was a surprise, it was the random musical numbers. These would be fine, except for the fact that the songs were quite horrid! These are the kind of musical productions that make you wish those wannabes on American Idol actually got a shot. Yes, they were that bad!

Not to make it sound like this is a total downer for me, I will say that the animation of Carnival and the city itself was breathtaking. Now, it quite possibly be that the colors were distracting from some shortcomings, but hey,it worked.

Voice casting was fine for the most part. My only issue is with Jesse Eisenberg. This guy has no talent and is just annoying. I mean, the guy from How to Train Your Dragon, Jay Baruchel, is annoying, but his annoying voice is what works for him. Eisenberg is just a hack. He didn’t work for this character, in my opinion.

I’ll be honest, I was really expecting to like this film. It is a huge disappointment that it turned out to be this…whatever this was. There is a ton of wasted talent, forgettable, forced music, and a story that probably should have been tweaked a little more before they went into production. I recommend Rio for two groups of people…if you’re one of those that has kids that are fascinated by brilliant, fantastic colors or if you want to be blown away by the way they captured the essence of Rio in computer animated form. Everyone else would do better watching one of the far superior Dreamworks films,or even better watch a classic Disney hand drawn masterpiece!

3 out of 5 stars

Your Highness

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Thadeous (Danny McBride) and Fabious (James Franco) are the sons of King Tallious (Charles Dance). They are both warriors, but Fabious is dashing and skilled whereas Thadeous is lazy and ineffectual with both an inferiority complex and poor track record in quest taking. While celebrating his latest victory over the evil sorcerer who has been ravaging Tallious’s kingdom, Leezar (Justin Theroux), Fabious reveals the virgin Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) he freed from a tower and wishes to marry her. Though he is made the best man, Thadeous skips the wedding after overhearing Fabious’s Elite Knights, led by Boremont (Damian Lewis), talk about him negatively. But the wedding is then crashed by Leezar, revealing himself to be the one who placed Belladona in the tower before spiriting her away. Returning to the castle with his servant Courtney (Rasmus Hardiker), Thadeous is forced into joining Fabious on his quest to rescue Belladonna.

Visiting the perverted Great Wise Wizard, the brothers learn that Leezar is attempting to fulfill a prophecy of a warlock having intercourse with a maiden when the two Moons converge, impregnating her with a dragon that will allow him to take over King Tallious’ kingdom. To destroy Leezar, they are given a magic compass that would led them to the fabled Sword of Unicorn which is located with a labyrinth. On the way there, after finding that Fabious’s slave Julian has been reporting to Leezar of their progress, the brothers learn that Elite Knights are also serving the warlock and escape from them alongside Courtney. While collecting themselves at a river, after his brother sends his mechanical bird Simon to tell the king of the Elite Knights’ betrayal and request reinforcements, Thadeous, Fabious and Courtney are captured by nymphs under their leader, Marteetee (John Fricker), who imprisons them at an arena where Fabious kills off Marateetee’s finest warrior. In retaliation, Marteetee summons his hydra-like familiar to kill them.

However, they are rescued by Isabel (Natalie Portman), a warrior that is seeking revenge for her father’s murder at Marteetee’s hands. Later that night, as Fabious and Courtney leave them for the mood to set in, Thadeous learns that Isabel is also after Leezar for the slaughter of her brothers before accidently revealing their quest and the compass to her. The next day, the party learn too late that Isabel stole the compass from Thadeous and ran off. Finally infuriated of his brother’s selfish behavior as they arrive to a village, Fabious decides to find the Sword of Unicorn alone as Thadeous and Courtney go to a tavern, where they find Isabel and steal the compass back. But finding that his brother has been captured by Leezar’s men, Thadeous wins Isabel over as they join forces, entering the labyrinth where they encounter a minotaur. Getting separated from the others, Thadeous retrieves the Sword of Unicorn and, after a test of worth, slays the minotaur as Isabel used a panflute to soothe the monster as he was about to rape Courtney. A changed man, proudly wearing the minotaur’s severed penis as a trophy necklace when unable to get one of the beast’s horns, Thadeous and his group make their way to Leezar’s castle and free Fabious while giving him the Sword of Unicorn. As the others kill off Julian and Boremont’s men along with Leezar’s mothers, Fabious then uses the Sword of Unicorn to end Leezar’s life before he isable to rape Belladonna, saving the kingdom.

After their victory, the heroes go back home, but Isabel goes on another quest. Fabious and Belladonna marry as Thadeous retreats to his bedroom to masturbate before going to bed. There, he is approached by Isabel, who reveals that she has fallen in love with him. However, for them to have sex, he must first slay the witch that cast a spell on her, locking her in a chastity belt. Though he was not in the mood to go out, Isabel’s suggestion to cuddle convinces him to go on a new adventure.

REVIEW:

Your Highness is one of those films that I just didn’t know what to think of when it was initially released. I passed on seeing it in theaters because it didn’t look like something worth wasting $8 to go see. I still hold to that, but this does make for a decent rental.

I won’t beat around the bush. If you’re coming into this film thinking you’re going to get some sort of epic medieval masterpiece, then you will be supremely disappointed. Your Highness comes off as nothing more than a bunch of frat boys playing around with what they know about the era and some _____ (insert recreational drug here).

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but apparently critics seemed very turned off by it. I often wonder if, in order to become critics, they had to get a stick shoved far up their ass, because it seems as if the only film they really love are the kids that audiences don’t really get excited over, and yet something like this, which is not meant to be anything more than entertaining, they treat like it was a pox on civilization.

*AHEM*

Sorry for the little rant there, but I get so frustrated when I read the things critics say about films that obviously aren’t meant as anything more than mindless fun, which is all this is.

Now, I mention the frat boy mentality this film has. The humor of this film is mainly centered around lewd and crude humor. For goodness sakes, at one point in the film, a Minotaur’s penis is cut off and Danny McBride wears it around his neck.

What is odd about this film, though, is save for one scene near the middle with naked women, there is nary a bare breast to be seen. The tone this film set leads one to belive you would see more. If anything, they could have put Zooey Deschanel and Natalie Portman is traditional Renaissance corsets, but I guess they wanted to focus more on the men, for some reason.

Speaking of the girls, this was released after Portman’s Oscar-winning role in Black Swan. Some have criticized her for it, but if you’ve watched her career, then you know she’s very versatile and this is much lighter faire than playing a ballerina on the verge of insanity and anorexia. All that said, she does a real good job in this role, but are we really surprised.

I do have to criticize Zooey Deschanel, something I never do, though. She seems rather wasted here, not to mention the fact that her personality doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the whole “damsel in distress” thing. Then again, maybe I’ve been watching her sister too long on Bones and now have them confused. Either way, I think she should have gotten more screentime than just a couple of scenes. Although, the possession, or whatever that was supposed to be, was qite…um…different.

The plot of this film is filled with all types of whole, and yet, they aren’t really detracting from the story, except the thing about the two moons and dragons or something like that. Not really sure where they were trying to go with that, or if I just missed something, or what the deal was, but it left me scratching my head.

Finally, the special effects in this film are two-fold. The first is the creatures. While most of them look like rejects from Narnia, the Wise Wizard looks like he came straight from Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, or some other Jim Henson film.

The next part is the special effects laden final act. Now, if you’ve seen many of the summer blockbusters in the last few years, then you know that they almost all rely solely on effects for the big climactic battle.

I think that was the idea here, but it just didn’t work the way they wanted it to, mainly because of how the characters were developed…or rather not developed. Still, it was a worthy attempt, I’ll give them that.

Your Highness is not a film for everyone. The humor lies in its crudity, so if you can’t handle that, you won’t find this film funny. Having said that, somewhere past the middle it stops being funny and just goes into this weird autopilot mode until the final scene. I enjoyed this film, and while I think nothing really needs to be changed, there are some things that could be altered to make things better. That point aside, I wold highly recommend this to all that aren’t easily offended by frat boy-type humor.

4 out of 5 stars

Let Me In

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1983 Los Alamos, New Mexico, a police detective (Elias Koteas) enters the hospital room of a disfigured man and tries to question him about a recent murder for which he is a suspect. The detective concludes by telling the suspect that he will catch whoever else he is in league with; the detective is then called to take a phone call outside the room by the desk nurse and is told that the man’s daughter is downstairs. While he is on the phone, a scream is heard, and the detective finds the suspect has fallen out of the window to his death.

Flashback two weeks earlier, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is an unhappy and lonely 12-year-old boy, who is neglected by his divorcing parents, and continually harassed at school by bullies. One evening, when Owen is alone in the courtyard of his apartment complex he is approached by a girl who has moved into the apartment next door name Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz). Abby tells Owen that they cannot be friends, but regardless Abby and Owen grow closer, seeing each other at night in the courtyard, and start communicating by Morse code through the walls of their apartments. At school the main bully, Kenny (Dylan Minnette), scars Owen with an antenna rod; when Abby finds out about this she tells him to defend himself and she will help him if needed.

Meanwhile, Abby’s “father”, Thomas (Richard Jenkins), occasionally goes out to kill local residents in order to acquire blood for the vampiric Abby. During his first murder, he accidentally spills the blood and returns home empty handed; a furious Abby leaves the apartment and then kills and feeds on a jogger who lives in their neighborhood. Abby continues developing her relationship with Owen. One night, Thomas hides in the back of a high school student’s car in order to later subdue him, but the student picks up a passenger, completely altering Thomas’s plans. While the driver stops at a gas station, Thomas subdues the passenger, and tries to flee. He crashes the car in a nearby ditch and becomes trapped inside. Thomas douses his face with acid so that his connection to Abby will not be discovered. He is taken to the hospital; when Abby learns of this from a radio broadcast, she climbs up outside his window to see him. Thomas leans forward to offer his throat to Abby, who drinks his blood. Thomas passes out and falls to his death. The detective later gradually learns of Thomas’s connection to Abby.

The next day on a school outing to a local frozen pond in a park Kenny threatens to push Owen into an ice hole. Owen defends himself with a metal pole splitting Kenny’s ear. Also while at the park, a body is discovered under the ice. Later, Owen takes Abby to an abandoned area of their apartment complex where he cuts his finger to make a blood pact with her. Abby is drawn to the blood falling to the ground; she licks it up and Owen sees her vampiric form for the first time, but instead of attacking Owen, Abby runs away and attacks Virginia (Sasha Barrese), a woman in the complex park. Owen then confronts Abby at her apartment where Abby admits that she is a vampire. Owen also discovers that Thomas was not her father, but a man she has known since he was a boy. Meanwhile at the hospital, Virginia transforms into a vampire, but when a nurse draws the curtains, the daylight causes her to burst into flames, killing them both.

Abby visits one night while Owen’s mother (Cara Buono) is away. Owen opens the door for her and she tells him he needs to invite her in. He asks her why, so she enters without an invitation, which causes her to bleed heavily until he verbally acquiesces. The next morning, the detective finds Abby asleep in the bathtub, but Owen startles him, allowing Abby to grab him from behind. Abby kills the detective and starts to feed off him. Later, she is seen leaving in a taxi.

During an evening gym class, Kenny, his older brother Jimmy (Brett DelBuono), and their friends start a fire outside to distract authorities and clear out the swimming pool. Jimmy tells Owen that if he can hold his breath underwater for three minutes, then he will cut Owen’s cheek; if Owen cannot, Jimmy will poke out one of Owen’s eyes. As Owen is held underwater, chaos ensues as Abby slaughters the four bullies. Abby and Owen then make their escape.

Later, Owen travels on a train with Abby in a trunk beside him. They tap out brief messages to each other in Morse code as the film ends.

REVIEW:

It is not a secret that I hate remakes, but I do give a bit of a pass to those that are rehashing of a foreign film…still doesn’t mean I’m a fan of people not coming up with their own ideas, though.

This is where Let Me In comes along. Apparently, many critics nearly had this up for the major awards thanks to the strong performances of its young stars, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moertz.

I would be hard pressed to disagree with them. These two turn in performances rivaling many of today’s most talented thespians. In the day and age when it seems as if all the young talent goes to crappy movies *cough* Twilight franchise *cough*, it is nice to see that not all are brainwashed.

Hell, we’ve seen these two before. Moertz is no stranger to impressing audiences. You’ve seen her as Hit Girl in Kick-Ass. Smit-McPhee isn’t as well known, but he has had some time on the big screen. Next time you watch X-Men Origins: Wolverine, check him out in the beginning as young Logan.

It seems as if I just can’t get away from watching horror flicks involving vampires. I had no idea that this would involve them, but lo and behold, not too far into the flick, there is the vampire scene.

Strangely enough, though, it seems as if this film wants to downplay the vampiric activity and focus more on the relationship between the young leads as well as the whole bullying angle.

If this were a drama, I’d have no problem with that, but seeing as how this is supposedly a horror flick, I think they should have fond some way to give us more bloodshed.

Yes, I know that some of you don’t agree with me on that, but you’ll get over it. Also, I am aware that the only vampire we see is a 12-year-old girl (not counting the woman in the hosital that apparently got trned). Need I remind you of some of the things Kirsten Dunst did when she became a vampire in Interview with a Vampire or even the violent acts Hit Girl pulled off in Kick-Ass. I think she’s more than capable of handling herself in that department. It is the squeamish audiences who want to bitch and complain about everything that probably kept her from doing more.

I mentioned earlier that this is a remake of a foreign film, which it is, but that isn’t the source material. It appears that this is a book. So, perhaps the violence isn’t there. Even so, personally, I would have liked to have seen more killing and less random talking. If I wanted to see that, I’d watch some crap on the CW, but that’s just my opinion.

Let Me In impressed me with how well made it was, but for every point in won for the surprise factor, it lost because of this uninteresting plot or pacing or whatever it was that just could not keep my attention. Having said that, I know there are more than a few of you out there that would eat this kind of film up, and more power to you. While this wasn’t for me, I’d recommend it to anyone that wanted to give it a shot.

3 out of 5 stars