Archive for January, 2012

Boys and Girls

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , on January 30, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jennifer Burrows and Ryan Walker meet as two young teenagers aboard an airplane trip and quickly find out that they both have different views on life. Several years later, Ryan is mascot to his high school, while Jennifer is elected Homecoming Queen of hers. During the halftime ceremony between the two schools, Ryan is chased by the rival mascots and loses his mascot head, only to find it run over by Jennifer’s ceremonial car. Jennifer later finds Ryan and tries to console him about his costume. The two, again realize they are too different and do not get along as friends, part ways once more.

A year later finds both Ryan and Jennifer students at UC Berkeley. Ryan is in a steady, structured relationship with his high school sweetheart, Betty and Jennifer is in a wild, spontaneous, sex-crazed relationship with a musician. Ryan meets his roommate Hunter (aka Steve), who uses deception and lies as a way to meet women. Jennifer moves in with her best friend Amy after her breakup with her musician boyfriend. Jennifer and Ryan randomly encounter each other through circumstance with Ryan at one point, even dating Amy. Not reciprocating his feelings, Amy has Jennifer “breakup” with Ryan for her. Their friendship blossoms through this and the two start slowly enjoying each others company. Jennifer is a Latin major who is witty, literary, and an independent free-spirit. Ryan majors in structural engineering who is deliberate, serious, and requires planning in life. They take walks, console each other over break-ups, and gradually become best friends. Jennifer even talks Ryan into dating again, as he starts seeing a girl named Megan.

One night, in a cynical mood towards love, Jennifer breaks down and Ryan tries to console her. To their equal surprise, the two make love. Afraid of commitment, Jennifer’s response is to run away from continued intimacy and to remain friends. Ryan is hurt by her response that sleeping together was a mistake. Realizing he finally loves Jennifer, he breaks up with Megan and withdraws himself to his studies. As months pass, Jennifer graduates UC Berkeley and readies herself to travel Italy. After not seeing Ryan for some time, she encounters him at a hilltop overseeing the Golden Gate Bridge. Ryan confesses his real feelings towards her and the two try to absolve the tension, but realizing she does not feel the same, Ryan leaves her to her thoughts and wishes her well in Italy.

On the shuttle to the airport, Jennifer passes the same hilltop where the two used to spend time together and realize she indeed loves Ryan. She immediately races back to her apartment and finds Amy frantically getting dressed to greet her. Hunter, or Steve at this point, confidently strolls out of Amy’s bedroom and tells Jennifer that Ryan is heading back on a plane to Los Angeles. While waiting for departure, Ryan hears Jennifer confess her love for him in Latin. After a brief convincing and feeling the wrath of a flight attendant, the two rekindle their romance where they first met—on an airplane flight.

REVIEW:

There was a time when Freddie Prinze, Jr. movies were the hottest thing around, no matter how good or bad they were. For some reason, I actually enjoyed these films, too. I think it has something to do with them being based on my age group. For instance this film, Boys and Girls, is based on college coeds, which I was at the time of its release.

Now, as you can garner from the title, this is all about the difference between boys and girls, right? Well, if you’re thinking that, then you’re somewhat right. It is more about the difference between two totally opposite people who somehow find an attraction toward each other, first through friendship, then, through the course of time, they start a relationship.

There really isn’t much to this film, except for watching how their relationship grows. However, it is the supporting cast that really shines in my eyes. First off, there is Jason Biggs. In a departure role for him, of sorts, he is actually the “cool” guy…or so we think. The other support comes from Amanda Detmer, the roommate, who apparently harbors some feelings for her best friend. As you can guess, these two end up together in the end, after meeting for the first time. Don’t ask me how they had never met before then, it made no sense to me, either.

With the exception ofMallrats, I think this is the best I’ve seen Claire Forlani look. On the flip side, though, I think she needs to work on her acting a little bit. It almost seems as if she regressed in the 6 yrs between the two films.

Freddie Prinze, Jr. is usually the cool, jock type, but seeing him as the nerdy guy was a nice change. I wasn’t sure how it would work at first, but he pulled it off. I dare say this may his best role since Down to You.

This is one of those cute date flicks that is likely to be forgotten 5 minutes after you watch it. That doesn’t mean it is bad, but it does mean that it could have been better. I won’t say that you shouldn’t watch it, because it is worth a viewing or two, but for me, the better Prinze flick is She’s All That. Still, with Valentine’s Day coming up, maybe you should consider this as something to watch with you beloved.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Friends with Benefits

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jamie (Mila Kunis) is an Executive Recruiter for a leading job agency in New York City and Dylan (Justin Timberlake) works as an art director for a small internet company in Los Angeles. Jamie has the task of trying to recruit Dylan to interview for a job with GQ magazine and begin working in New York City. Dylan comes to New York and after interviewing for the position learns from Jamie that he has been given an offer to work for GQ. At first Dylan is hesitant to accept and move from Los Angeles to New York, but in an effort to get Dylan to accept the job Jamie spends the evening taking him around the city trying to sell him on the opportunity and the city.

After a fun night together exploring the city Dylan agrees to take the job. The next day Jamie presents Dylan with the contract to sign so she can land her commission for recruiting him. Not knowing anyone else in the city he and Jamie quickly develop a friendship. One night, while hanging out at Jamie’s apartment watching a romantic comedy, they get on the topic of sex and relationships. They come to the conclusion that sex should not come with so many emotional attachments. Both feeling the need for a physical connection they agree to have sex without emotion or commitment involved. After several trysts together Jamie comes to the realization that this isn’t really what she wants, and she would like to start dating again and informs Dylan that they need to stop.

Jamie meets Parker (Bryan Greenberg) and they begin dating. After five dates they consummate their relationship but the next morning Parker leaves and informs Jamie he really wasn’t looking for anything more. Furious, Jamie tells Parker off, assuring the end of their relationship. Trying to be sympathetic and to help Jamie get over the pain of the situation Dylan suggests she come with him to California over the July 4th weekend while he visits his family. Jamie is very hesitant, but agrees after much persistence from Dylan. They fly to California where Jamie meets his sister Annie (Jenna Elfman) and father (Richard Jenkins). While in California emotional feelings for each other begin to form and they share a passionate kiss, which leads to a night of close intimacy unlike any they had shared before. However the next day Jamie overhears a conversation between Annie and Dylan indicating he has no real feelings for her. Hurt, she flies back to New York. A few days later Dylan returns to New York trying to reconcile his friendship with Jamie and find out why she has been ignoring him. He finally finds Jamie and she informs him she overheard everything he said and has no interest in maintaining any kind of a friendship with him.

Soon after this Jamie discovers that Dylan may be leaving the GQ position for another job, which would affect her commission. She confronts Dylan about this which leads to another argument. Both begin to do some soul searching trying to come to terms with their feelings about their relationship. Jamie spends time with her mother (Patricia Clarkson), while Dylan discusses it with his sister over the phone. His sister informs him that their father, who suffers from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, will be flying to New York and he needs to be picked up at the airport. While eating at the airport with his father, his father, in a moment of Alzheimer’s-induced confusion, incorrectly recognizes a passerby as a woman from his past. Dylan asks him about this woman, and his father, upon regaining his lucidity, says that she was a woman he met in the Navy, that she was the love of his life, and regrets decisions he made in his youth to let her go.

Dylan realizes how he feels about Jamie and after a talk with his friend and coworker, Tommy (Woody Harrelson), decides to go after her. He calls Jamie’s mother to set up an excuse to get Jamie to go to Grand Central Station thinking she will be picking her mother up and arranges to have a flash mob scene set up to surprise Jamie at Grand Central. When the moment comes he catches up with Jamie and tells her how he really feels. Surprised and happy by this turn of events Jamie tells him to kiss her. After sharing a kiss Dylan suggests it is time they go on their first real date. They go to the café across the street, and although they attempt to keep the date casual and relaxed, the film ends with them in a sensual embrace and passionate kiss

REVIEW:

Back in college, I had a couple of exes who became “friends with benefits”, but the emotional baggage that apparently comes with that never reared its ugly head. Probably because it had done that during out time in a relationship, I would wager.

Friends with Benefits takes us back to the world of meaningless sex with no strings that another film, No Strings Attached, brought us to. Please note, that while these films have similarities, most notably the premise and starring one of the leads from Black Swan and two of main characters from That 70’s Show, they are totally different.

We start with out two leads experiencing the end of their respective relationships. Fast forward a little bit and they meet in NYC where Mila Kunis’ character, Jamie, is trying to get Justin Timberlake’s character, Dylan, to sign on as layout designer (or something along those lines) for GQ magazine.

To help him with his decision, she decides to show him the “non-tourist” version of New York (which somehow still  shows all the typical tourist sites, such as Central Park.) They end up at a party at her place, and after everyone is gone, they watch her favorite romantic comedy. While watching, they realize how cheesy and cliche’ it is.

Somehow, they get into a discussion about sex and how it ruins things, which leads to them having sex after agreeing to not get attached. For most of the film, they manage to keep this going without getting all tied up in emotions and whatnot, then the ill-fated trip to his parents’ happens and by accident Jamie overhears a conversation Dylan has with his sister. This leads to the film’s downfall, as everything it had worked so hard to overcome is suddenly rendered null and void, as it becomes nothing more than a generic romantic comedy from that point on.

A review I was listening to the other day, about this film, said that Kunis and Timberlake has no chemistry. I’m not so sure I agree with that, but I was sort of uncomfortable watching them together. I can’t put my finger on it, but something was weird. Perhaps they actually did have sex at one time (lucky bastard!!!), and this just made it weird?

Keeping on the topic of our leads, Timberlake is still trying to find that one picture that can launch him into leading man material. This just isn’t it. Sure, he does a good job, but let’s face it, no one is watching this for him, save for his die-hard female fans. The guy is very talented, especially in terms of comedy, but this isn’t the stepping stone he needs to get to the next level, in my opinion.

Kunis, has done better with roles such as this. I don’t know, at times it seems as if she wasn’t really there, and then others she seemed like she was giving it everything she had. I may be alone is seeing that, which is fine, but that’s how I saw it and my belief is that she could have given more of a steady performance here. It may have even helped out in the end.

Woody Harrelson and Jenna Elfman make nice appearances, but neither is really much to speak of, save for knowing that Elfman is still alive and Harrelson is playing a gay man (who is a sports editor, btw).

Romantic comedies are not my favorite genre, but I don’t hate them the way most guys do. The thing about this film, though, is that it started out to not be part of that genre. I was loving the direction is was headed, and all the sex really sold the premise (even if they did everything they could to not show a naked Mila Kunis). However, the last 30 minutes or so, as I said before, ruined it for me. That being said, in comparison to No Strings Attached, I think I would pick this one, based solely on the fact that it doesn’t get all whiny and overemotional 10 minutes in like that did. Do I recommend it? Yes, but it is with trepidation that I do so. You may or may not like this, depending on your preference and attitude toward romantic comedies and such.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

My Soul to Take

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

My Soul to take (Originally titled “25/8”) tells the story of Abel Plenkov, a serial killer dubbed ‘The Riverton Ripper.’ After killing his wife and trying to hunt down his children, Abel was shot by police officers. While being driven to the hospital, he regains consciousness and crashes the Ambulance, vowing to return and murder the 7 children born on the night he was killed. The ‘Riverton 7’ Are Adam (Bug), who is the mentally unstable son of Abel Plenkov, Alex, Bug’s best friend who lives with an abusive Stepfather, Brandon, the school bully and jock, Brittany, a girl chased after by Bug and Brandon, Jerome, a blind student, Penelope, a jesus freak who has strange premonitions of the murders, and Jay, a student that crosses the bridge out of town.

At school, there is a social hierarchy which is led by ‘Fang’, Bug’s sister. Brandon acts as the muscle and terrorizes the students, and Fang controls areas of the school and punishes anyone that defies her. As the movie follows Bug, we see his friendship with Alex, and how Alex is trying to teach him to be a man, repeating that he should ‘Fake being tough, Fake it good.’ We learn of his obsession with death, (Namely the Californian Condor, which he makes a costume of) his migraines and his lapses into different characters, some of which are the Riverton 7, some of which are more scared or confident versions of himself, revealing that he suffers from schizophrenia. At one point he sees a terrified Jay, drowning in the bathroom mirror, and in an eavesdropped conversation, Bug finds out he has been in institutions and Fang says he has killed before.

On the 16th Anniversary of the ripper’s death, Jay is killed brutally by a man dressed in a costume, which was used by the kids to scare the populace. The man ambushes him on the bridge, kills him and throws him into the river. Later on, Penelope is also murdered after praying with one of her teen friends about her baby, which belongs to Brandon. When Jay’s body is found, the policemen who apprehended the original Riverton Ripper fear the worst, and as school ends, Brandon approaches Brittany. He tries to charm her into having sex with him, and she eventually runs into the woods, as he chases. Soon she comes across the burnt out ambulance where the Ripper died, and finds Penelope’s body. Brandon finds it as well and Brittany accuses him of murdering Penelope, and calls the police. Soon he runs into the woods to escape the police, and Brittany runs to escape him. He calls Brittany and breaks down, only to hear the Ripper’s voice on the other end, and he is soon killed.

Brittany is killed soon after in a similar fashion, and Bug is seen in the woods burying his Californian Condor. Soon he returns home to his Aunt and sister for his birthday presents. Fang gives him a wooden rocking horse, which was made by his father the night he went insane. As Fang learns of the death of 4 of the Riverton 7, she has an argument with her Aunt, which eventually leads to violence directed at Bug. Since birth, Bug had been sheltered by his Aunt, and never learned the truth behind the ripper or his father, and i as she flies into a rage, Fang tells him the truth as a flashback shows the horrible night 16 years ago. Fang then smashes her room to pieces to get rid of the memory, and Bug smashes the toy horse. As all four bodies are found, suspicion soon falls on Bug, whose phone was found on Brittany’s body. He begins to fall into insanity, and returns to his room where he finds Alex. Bug reveals that in a note Penelope gave him, it said there are two possibilities for the Riverton murders. The first is that Abel Plenkov never died in the crash, and has returned for vengeance, or that he did die and his soul has possessed one of the Riverton 7. Meaning wither Bug, Alex or Jerome is the killer. Alex reveals that he had killed his stepfather in an accident, and breaks down.

Bug goes to get him some water, and finds the Ripper’s knife in the bathroom, with a vision of Penelope in the mirror. He hears noises downstairs, soon finding his dead Aunt and a policeman ready to apprehend him, as all evidence points towards Bug (He was in the woods, his phone was on Brittany and he was the only one in the house when his Aunt died) As he is about to be arrested, the Ripper runs in from behind and kill the officer. Bug then fights with the Ripper, hitting him over the head with a bowl. Then, as the Ripper is about to kill him, he hears a noise upstairs, swears and runs to Bug’s room. Bug follows him, and sees blood on the windowsill, and blood on the closet door. He finds a dying Jerome in the closet, who tells him he was stabbed by the Ripper when he was on the roof, and was hiding. As he passes away he passes on some knowledge of who the killer is and tells Bug he is a hero. Alex then climbs through the window, saying he heard police officers and thought that they were after him, so he ran and came back.

Bug tells him about the struggle and the murders and Alex responds by telling him that he is diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and that what happened might not be what Bug saw. Bug soon notices that Alex has blood on his ear, the same place that he hit the Ripper on the head with the bowl. He then figures out that in the time that Alex was ‘hiding’ he could’ve easily planted the knife, killed Jerome, his Aunt and the police officer, and he ran upstairs when he heard Jerome, afraid he would give him away. Alex is then possessed by Abel Plenkov, and tries to bargain with Bug. Soon they fight and Bug stabs Alex in the chest, who then returns to his former self, noting ‘It had to be this way.’

Bug goes outside, waiting to be arrested, but is instead greeted like a hero, who stopped the vicious Riverton Ripper. In the epilogue, Alex was charged with the murders of his Stepfather, Bug’s Aunt, A police officer and 5 of the Riverton 7, while he is hailed as a hero. While he didn’t think it was right, he says “I’ll fake it for them, and I’ll fake it good. Alex wouldn’t have it any other way.”

REVIEW:

Can you belive this was released in 3D? Even worse…people actually paid to see it. First off, My Soul to Take was not originally meant to be in that medium, but because Hollywood has decided they’re not making enough money from the movies nowadays, they brought 3D in so  they can jack up the prices without raising any eyebrows. This results in many films that were originally filmed in started definition being converted to 3D at the last minute. Needless to say, the end result is not so great.

That actually isn’t the worst part of this film, though. The story about some schizophrenic serial killer whose soul is somehow split into 7 premature kids somehow didn’t quite resonate with me, especially since they never found the body.

I don’t believe I’ve ever come a cross a more formulaic, predictable film in my life. I will say, though, that the final twist I didn’t see coming, which is one of the good things it has going for it.

I’m not going to beat around the bush. The critics said this film sucked, audiences didn’t go see it, and now I am putting my two cents in by saying it is a true waste of time. The best scene of the film is the condor book report. That isn’t to say there isn’t promise here, but along the way somewhere something wrong…horribly wrong and caused this to be one of those films you should avoid like the plague.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Adjustment Bureau

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2006, Congressman David Norris runs a promising but unsuccessful campaign for United States Senate. While rehearsing his concession speech in a hotel bathroom, Norris meets a woman hiding in a stall. The two share a pleasant conversation, ultimately leading to a kiss. Inspired, Norris delivers a candid speech that is well-received, making him a favorite for the 2010 Senate race.

Some months later, Norris is preparing to start his first day at a new job. At a park near Norris’s house, Harry Mitchell receives an assignment from Richardson, his boss: ensure Norris spills his coffee by 7:05 AM; shortly thereafter Mitchell falls asleep while waiting and misses Norris, who boards his bus. He encounters Elise, the woman from the bathroom, who writes down her phone number on a card and gives it to Norris. When Norris arrives at work, he finds his boss and campaign manager, Charlie Traynor, in suspended animation and is being examined by unfamiliar men in suits. David attempts to escape and the men give chase. Norris is incapacitated and taken to a warehouse to meet Richardson and his men.

Richardson explains he and his men are from the Adjustment Bureau. The job of the Bureau’s “caseworkers” is to ensure people’s lives proceed as determined by “the plan”, a complex document Richardson attributes to “the Chairman”.[7][8] Charlie is fine and will not remember his adjustment, and Norris is warned that if he talks about the Bureau he will be “reset”—akin to being lobotomized. Richardson informs David that he is not meant to meet Elise again. He burns the card containing her phone number and tells David to forget her.

For the next three years David rides the same bus downtown, hoping to see Elise. He finally encounters her and they reconnect. The Bureau tries to stop him from building his relationship with her by causing their schedules to separate them again. David races across town, fighting the Bureau’s abilities to “control his choices” to ensure he will meet Elise. During the chase the Bureau uses ordinary doorways to travel instantly to locations many blocks away.

Richardson discovers that David and Elise “were meant to be together in an earlier version of the plan”, and Harry speculates on whether or not the plan is always correct. David and Elise spend an evening at a party, connecting when David tells her he became a politician after the loss of his mother and brother. They spend the night together, cementing their bond the next morning.

The Bureau has Thompson take authority regarding David’s adjustment. He takes Norris to a warehouse, where David argues he has the right to choose his own path. Thompson says that they gave humanity free will after the height of the Roman Empire, but humanity then brought the Dark Ages down upon itself. The Bureau took control again and created the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. When free will was returned around 1910 it resulted in two world wars and the near destruction of the planet with a nuclear conflict. Thompson releases him, and he runs to Elise’s performance at her dance studio. Thompson follows, and tells him that if he stays with Elise, he will ruin his political future as President of the United States and also ruin Elise’s future as a world-famous dancer and choreographer; with David, Elise will be limited to teaching dance to children. To make a point, he uses his adjustment power to cause Elise to sprain her ankle. With his future in jeopardy and faced with sabotaging Elise’s future as well, David abandons her at the hospital.

Eleven months later, David runs for election again and sees an announcement of Elise’s imminent wedding. Harry, feeling guilty for earlier events, contacts David via secret meetings in the rain and near water. David learns from Harry that the Bureau’s weakness is water, allowing them to meet without the Bureau finding out. Harry reveals that Thompson exaggerated the negative consequences of David and Elise’s relationship, and he teaches David to use the doors so he may stop Elise’s wedding. He gives David his hat, empowering Norris to use the doors. David finds Elise in the bathroom of the courthouse where she is to be wed. Furious and hurt after his earlier desertion, Elise is shocked when David reveals the Bureau’s existence to her and shows her how he travels through doors. They are pursued across New York City. When David and Elise find themselves at the base of the Statue of Liberty, Norris decides to find the Chairman. Elise wavers briefly but then follows David across.

They go through the door to the Bureau headquarters. Eventually, they are trapped on a rooftop above New York, with Bureau members closing in. They declare their love for each other and embrace in a passionate kiss before David can be reset. When they let go of each other, the Bureau members are all gone. Thompson is abruptly on scene but is interrupted by Harry, who shows him a new, revised plan from the Chairman for David and Elise. After commending both of them for showing such devotion to each other, Harry takes his hat back and tells David and Elise they are free to “take the stairs”. The film concludes with David and Elise walking through the streets accompanied by a voice-over from Harry, speculating that the Chairman’s larger plan may be to get humanity back to a point where they can write their own plans

REVIEW:

If ever there was a case for a film not being what you expect, then The Adjustment Bureau is it. Judging from the trailers, one would expect this to be something akin to typical spy faire of today, only that isn’t the case. In actuality, there is a sci-fi thriller element going on here that really puts an interesting twist on things and captivates the audience, but is that enough to make this a good film?

The film starts with the meteoric rise of a promising young politician, played by Matt Damon. It seems as if he has the election locked up, then we all of a sudden see this guy who has this look about him, like he’s pissed about something. I assumed he was just someone who was wronged in the past, but I was wrong. Anyway, he gets a call and the next thing we know stuff starts spiraling out of control and he loses the election.

While he is in the bathroom practicing his concession speech, he meets a young woman, played by Emily Blunt, who gives him some advice all politicians should follow, which results in the funniest, truthful, and eye-opening lines of the film.

This chance meeting actually was not supposed to happen, let alone the two meeting again on the bs sometime later. It is because of this that the Adjustment Bureau reveal themselves and what they do, which make sure everything and everyone’s life goes according to “the plan”. If this wasn’t enough, they take the young woman’s number, burn it, and basically forbid them from seeing each other. Needless to say, that doesn’t work, but the rest of the film is spent in this chess match, of sorts, between the two factions. A battle of sorts between the Bureau and the free will of mankind.

I love this story. It really makes you wonder if there are mysterious guys out there controlling and adjusting everything about our lives. It would certainly explain how some people suddenly have changes of heart or don’t show up for a meeting, etc.

Speaking of the Adjustment Bureau guys, they sort of reminded me of the watcher guys from Fringe, especially with the old man hats they all wore. I would say that this may have been done on purpose, but this isn’t an original idea, but is based on a short story, which I haven’t read…yet.

They have this labeled as a romantic action thriller. Two things about that. First, I didn’t even know that was a category and second, I’m not so sure you can say that the romance is enough to categorize it anymore than you can with almost any other action flick. Yes, it is there, but does it really warrant being part of the subgenre?

One thing I liked about this film is how they let Emily Blunt’s character have her individuality and spunk, but she was still the proverbial damsel in distress. Not to sound misogynistic, but it seems like in every film nowadays the female lead is so busy trying to up the guy that it has become as tiresome as some say the damsel in distress was at one time. Could this be the start of us coming around full circle? I sure hope so!

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt master their roles, but it is the chemistry between the two that really stands out in my mind. Too often nowadays do we get on-screen couples that might as well be a couple of over paid wet blankets up there. Damon and Blunt seems as if they really were falling for each other, and it is that sort of believability that can make or break a film like this.

John Slattery, of Mad Men fame, proves that he can step out of his comfort zone of the suit and tie world…wait, he was still in a suit and tie, ok…um, where was I going with this. Ah! He adds his name to the list of actors from that show who have shown they are true talents, a list that does not include the overrated January Jones, but that’s a topic for some other time.

Terence Stamp is…well, he’s Terence Stamp.  As per his usual, he’s creepy and evil, yet dignified, respected, and distinguished. We’ve come to expect this and nothing less from him.

Newcomer Anthony Mackie makes quite the impression in this fairly major role as the member of the Bureau he seems to have a soft spot either for mankind, or Damon, for most of the film we’re not sure, but it is revealed at a later point of the film why he is like he is.

The chairman is never seen, but they make him out to be some sort of omnipotent being. I read some message boards on this film, you know the kind where people over-analyze every little aspect of movies, and they speculated that the chairman is God and the bureau are angels. Another posters said the same thing, bt on the other side of the spectrum, saying that he was the devil, and they were demons. One guy even went so far as to go into the whole turning the knob left and all that mumbo jumbo. It was enough to give me a headache and remind me why I don’t go into such lunatic rantings over a film.

Still, it would have been nice to have seen the chairman, bt on the other hand, his presence there was like a mysterious powerful cloud hanging over everything. I can go either way on that topic. A few people have joked that Ben Affleck should have been the chairman.

Not really being a fan of Matt Damon films, it was really a long shot that I was going to like this one, but the sci-fi element, coupled with Emily Blunt made this worth watching. To be honest, it is the titular characters that really make this film one to see.  I was enthralled in this film almost from the minute it started and think you will be as well. Give it a shot, you may be pleasantly surprised!

4 out of 5 stars

You Again

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film opens in 2002 with Marni (Kristen Bell), an acne-riddled high school senior at Ridgefield High School, with glasses and braces, making a video about how much she hates high school, and reveals how she is tormented and bullied by other girls, specifically Joanna (Odette Yustman), who made Marni’s high school life miserable. She adds that her protective older brother, Will, (James Wolk), was very popular as a handsome basketball player. However, at a very important basketball game, Joanna pushes the mascot (Marni), who runs into Will, resulting in a loss of the game.

Years later, in 2010, however, she is a successful public relations executive, recently promoted to a job in New York. When she flies home to her older brother’s wedding, she discovers her brother Will is about to marry Joanna, who bullied and tormented her throughout high school. When Marni meets Joanna for the first time in eight years, Joanna seems to not recognize her. Marni is also upset to see that Joanna fits in very well with the family. The plot thickens when her mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) meets up with Joanna’s aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver), Gail’s former best friend who pushed her into a pool at their senior prom. Ramona is now a successful, wealthy woman who owns several hotels and a private plane.

Although Gail seems willing to put the past behind her, she still feels the need to “outdo” Ramona during their interactions together. On the other hand, Marni is unwilling to forget the things Joanna did to her in high school, unless she apologizes, and decides to try to let her brother know of Joanna’s bullying past. Her attempts to get Will alone for a conversation fail. When Marni tells Joanna that she knows who she really is, it is obvious that Joanna remembers Marni. She refuses to give Marni a meaningful apology, and treats her disrespectfully, leaving Marni convinced that Joanna has not changed. Meanwhile, Gail comes to Ramona’s hotel room for “closure” about anything bad between them that happened in the past. They appear to make up, but Ramona still seems not to be too fond of Gail.

One day on the street, Will and Marni’s grandmother Bunny (Betty White) meets a man named Tim (Kyle Bornheimer). Joanna reveals that they have dated, and Tim appears devastated when he hears that she’s marrying Will. Marni decides to bring Tim to the rehearsal dinner as part of her plan to stop the wedding. When it is time for guests to make a toast to the bride and groom, Tim unexpectedly jumps up to give his toast to Joanna. He reveals to a stunned wedding party that Joanna left him at the altar. Later, a video is presented (recovered by Marni) from their old high school time capsule. The video reveals Joanna as she was in high school: an alpha-female bully, with the footage showing proof of her tormenting Marni and pushing other students. Will unplugs the video projector before the video is complete and walks out, furious.

However, Marni is in trouble when everyone discovers that she was responsible for the video at the rehearsal dinner. Marni decides to talk with Joanna, hoping to reconcile, but Joanna is too furious and tells Marni “I thought we could start over.” Marni is now convinced that Joanna hasn’t changed, and walks away. Joanna then starts a fight with Marni, who fights back. Will walks in and witnesses the fight. He tells Joanna that he doesn’t care about her past, but is angry that she was not being honest with him. He then tells Marni that he is furious at her for going behind his back.

Meanwhile, Ramona and Gail argue after the rehearsal dinner, and Ramona accuses Gail of trying to ruin her life throughout high school. A catfight ensues, with both of them falling into the pool. Ramona reveals that she had a grudge with Gail, even when they were best friends, because she always competed with and outdid her, culminating with Gail taking the boy that Ramona wanted to the prom. Ramona stated that Gail was already a legendary head cheerleader and prom queen, and drama was supposed to be hers, yet Gail also defeated her with the auditions. She sarcastically thanks Gail for what she did, because it motivated her to become successful in life. Gail apologizes for being insensitive, but reveals that she is proud of Ramona, and that her loving family is her accomplishment. Ramona, remorseful of her actions, tells Gail that she was jealous of Gail’s happy family especially that her marriages didn’t work out, and feared that she was trying to take Joanna away from her. The two reconcile their friendship.

Later that night, Marni finds Joanna in the kitchen binging on junk food. She finally admits to Marni that she feels truly awful for bullying and tormenting her and feels like an awful person, and that she loves Will. Marni forgives her and promises to get them back together. The next day,during a jog, Marni apologizes to Will for her actions, saying she was only trying to protect him.

Joanna and Will reconcile in the family’s old tree house, but it collapses and injures both of them when Ben Olsen (Billy Unger) loosened the screws as a part of his plan in hiding the tree house. They are both forced to stay at a hospital, which delays the wedding. However, Marni puts together a makeshift wedding at the hospital, with the bride and groom bandaged, but properly dressed and able to walk down the aisle. Gail has a surprise for Ramona, it’s Richie Phillips(Patrick Duffy), the boy from high school that Ramona wanted to go to the prom with. Richie welcomes Ramona home and wants to be her date for the wedding, which makes Ramona very happy and they appear to start a relationship. Marni appears to start a relationship with Charlie (Sean Wing), her brother’s best friend who was always kind to her. Joanna introduces Marni’s grandmother Bunny to Helen Sullivan (Cloris Leachman). It is revealed that Helen and Bunny were enemies in high school when Helen stole a boy from her. However, Bunny gets her revenge when she cuts in on Helen’s dance and takes her partner.

During the credits, at the wedding reception, Marni presents her wedding gift to Will and Joanna, it’s Hall & Oates in person performing Will and Joanna’s favorite and special song,”Kiss on My List”! Everyone then joins Hall & Oates on stage

REVIEW:

For those that were bullies in high school, You Again should be a public service announcement in what goes around can come back to haunt you.

This film has been on my radar for some time, but I just haven’t had the chance to get to it until now.

The basic premise of this film is that the nerdy girl from high school became focused and went on to big things. Her brother, though, is getting married to her arch-enemy and high school bully, though he doesn’t know it. As it turns out, there is also some rivalry between her mother and the fiancée’s aunt stemming back to high school. Maybe it is something in the gene pool, because, as we see in the last scene, even the grandmothers had issues.

This isn’t the strongest story, but it is decent enough to keep the audience interested. Couple that with the ongoing developments of the protagonists high school sagas and of course Kristen Bell (who I’ve been in love with since Heroes and Forgetting Sarah Marshall).

As far as romantic comedies go, I’m not sure this is one. Yes, there is a guy she’s hopelessly in love with, but the film doesn’t revolve around her trying to win him. That being said, some of the film’s funniest moments stem from her trying to impress or not make a fool of herself in front of him.

Reviews of this film have been harsh, to say the least. One guy even went so far as to call it “the worst film ever made”. Ouch! Granted, it has its flaws, but I actually found myself enjoying this picture. The fact that it doesn’t try to be a chick flick, but rather just a comedy centered around women I think it what was most appealing.

For some reason, I wasn’t impressed with the cast. I couldn’t wrap my mind around Jamie Lee Curtis being Kristen Bell’s mom, or that Kristen Bell was that nerdy, pimple faced creature in high school. Why couldn’t they have just found someone to play the younger version or her, and Odette Yustman, for that matter.

Strangely enough, though, Kristin Chenoweth, who may have been the best thing about the cast, would have been perfect for Bell’s mother or even a sister or aunt. I’m just saying.

Betty White. That is all, nothing more needs to be said. She’s Betty White. I will say, though, that I would have liked to have seen more of that confrontation with her and Cloris Leachman. Can you just imagine the comedic gold these two could create?

You Again is a fairly decent film, but you can rest assured it won’t be on anyone’s “best of” lists. This is one of those films that was decent, but that’s about as far as it goes. If you were to decide to watch it, chances are you’ll find yourself giggling here and there, but that’s about it. Do I recommend it? I am not really sure. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it, but there are much worse things out there to see.

3 out of 5 stars

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

When Greg (Zachary Gordon) and his family attend a party at a roller rink, he reunites with his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) and classmates Fregley (Grayson Russell) and Chirag (Karan Brar). He meets Holly Hills (Peyton List), who immediately becomes his love interest. Greg’s older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) tricks Greg into trying to skate with her and starts pursuading violent teenagers to enter the rink. Their mother (Rachael Harris) and father (Steve Zahn) misunderstand and humilate him by speaking to him on the speaker phone and carrying him off the rink.

Afterwards, Mom has noticed that the boys haven’t been getting along so she divises “Mom Bucks” to pay them if they spend time together where they can trade in for one real dollar, but this unwittingly makes thing worse. Meanwhile, Greg and Rowley try to make a funny YouTube video by Rowley lip-synching to “Tik Tok” by Kesha, unfortunately (despite Rowley at one point sitting on a tinfoil ball with spikes made by Manny) it proves to be awful, getting only 4 hits. After a talent show is advertised on TV, the brothers see this as a big opportunity – Rowley suggests that he and Greg perform magic tricks, but Greg rejects the idea whilst Rodrick sees this as his band’s big break.

On Sunday, the Heffley family goes to church but Greg is extremely reluctant to go inside, as a melted 3 Musketeers chocolate bar, intentionally placed on his seat by Rodrick, has stained his trousers. Greg’s mom uses her blouse to cover up the stain, but the cover-up backfires when Rodrick exposes Greg’s pants. The boys ultimately end up in a scuffle on the floor and as punishment, they are to spend a whole weekend together to bond, while their parents leave on to Rockin’ Rapids. Against his parents’ orders, Rodrick hosts a party at the house and locks Greg in the basement. Rowley comes to “save” Greg, but Rodrick locks him in the basement as well, until a call from their mother results in Rodrick letting the two out, in return for their silence on the matter.

The next day,the two get a call from their mom, informing them that Manny is sick and they are returning early from their trip. The house is trashed, and the boys only have an hour to clean it up and erase all evidence of the party before their parents arrive home. When they see that one of the partygoers wrote on the bathroom door in permanent marker, they replace the door with a different one. Afterwards, Greg realizes that the new door does not have a lock, while the old one did. When their mother notices this, she confronts both boys individually. Greg confesses, but in order to prevent Rodrick from getting angry at him (, Rodrick said earlier “deny everything!”), he says the party was only a band rehearsal, and the two escape punishment. Rodrick thinks Greg denied everything, and the brothers become friends.

The boys go out for a night of fun, getting smoothies and pranking unsuspecting people. However, one prank goes too far and Coach Malone chases them into a mall. They escape by tricking him and return home laughing, only to find that their father has inadvertently come across photos of the party. Greg is grounded for two weeks with no video games and he will be sent to Spag Union Military School in South Park,Canada, and Rodrick is grounded for a month and is not allowed to participate in the talent show and will be sent to a military school in Ohio, USA. Greg tries to apologize but Rodrick only says that they are no longer friends. Then the boys spend the weekend with their grandfather in his retirement home. Greg writes his feelings about Holly in his diary, which Rodrick gets a hold of and reads out loud waking Greg up. Rodrick then threatens to tell Holly and runs towards the lobby to do so. Greg chases after Rodrick in his underwear and manages to snatch away the diary. He runs to the bathroom, rips out the pages of the diary, and flushes them down the toilet. He discovers he is in the ladies’ bathroom, but manages to escape the mob of angry women who think he is a “peeping tom”. However, he finds that Rodrick caught everything on tape via security camera and threatens to show it to everyone sooner or later.

At the talent show a few nights later, Rowley’s performance is unable to take place, as his eight-year-old assistant Scotty gets stage fright. Greg’s mom says Greg will do the show with Rowley, but Greg refuses, saying that he will look humiliated. When Rodrick goes to his band, Greg follows and watches Rodrick’s band member, Bill Walter, kick him out of the band he created. Greg bargains with his mom to allow Rodrick to perform, if he will perform with Rowley, which his mom accepts. Rodrick thanks their mom, sees Greg, and nods at him for letting him play. The magic show is a hit with the audience and Holly meets Greg and Rowley backstage to tell him she loved their show. However, Patty Farrel says it was “pathetic”. Rodrick and his band perform but the crowd is not impressed until they see Greg’s mom dancing, and start to dance along. Greg is happy for finally having fixed the problems with his family.

Rodrick drives Greg to school, as the boys have now forgiven each other. Rodrick also gives him a tape containing that “embarrassing moment” at Leisure Towers. The boys then create a new friendship, realizing it is fun to have a brother. Later, Greg and Rowely put the video of the talent contest on YouTube and calls it “Lame Band with Crazy Mom Dancing” which becomes an instant hit. Rodrick shouts that Greg is “so dead” and the film closes.

REVIEW:

Like many people, junior high was not exactly the best of times for me. Of course, it was nothing compared to the apparent living hell that Greg has to deal with in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.

This is the sequel to the surprise hit Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Apparently, these are very successful books and a third film is in production as I’m typing. I still haven’t read them, but I’ll get to that…eventually.

Picking up where the last film left off, everyone is now a year older, which means 7th grade. Before school starts, though, the family has an outing to the skating rink. Does anyone skate anymore? I’m just curious.

Anyway, in typical sibling rivalry, Greg and Rodrick do something to  each other which gets Greg nearly trampled by these headbanger looking skaters. All of a sudden, mom comes on and…well, let’s just say the moment of embarrassment was nearly unwatchable.

This whole film revolves around the relationship and rivalry between the two, culminating when it comes out about a party that was thrown when the parents were away.

I won’t criticize the story, as I didn’t feel like there was anything wrong with it. My issue with this film is more of a continuation of issues that were prevalent in the first film. First, there is Greg. Again, this kid is about as unlikable as one can get without being the antagonist. This time, though, he isn’t hating on Rowley (although not wanting to be in his magic act was pretty low, in my opinion), but somehow decides Chiraq, another of his friends who goes to India with his parents for a couple of weeks is invisible. Somehow he gets the whole school to go along with this, too. I hate to say this, but the bad things that happen to this kid almost could be construed to karma.

Rodrick is your typical douche big brother. He has a much bigger role this time around. Of course, since his name is in the title, he better, right? He is actually almost more likable than Greg, which is a shame since he’s supposed to be more of a bad guy. Like I said, I haven’t read the books, so I don’t know if they are actually written like this, so it they aren’t then new actors or writers are needed to save these characters.

The mom (who is quite the MILF, btw) is just too overprotective for her own good. I say that because it is obvious she is meant to be some kind of caricature of mothers, but good grief! Some of the things this woman does are just way too embarrassing.

One thing I can’t help but mention is how this flick seems to be on the same level as its predecessor. What I mean by that is that there has been no growth in th filmmaking. It is almost as if they were filmed at the same time with the same equipment and everything. The only thing that has aged is the cast. The old adage that some things get better with age doesn’t necessarily apply here, either.

Thankfully, this film doesn’t get all sappy and preachy the way so many family films have the tendency to do. Yes, there is a moralistic tone at the end, but it is more of a happy ending than anything else.

Like it’s predecessor, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules is a surprisingly entertaining film, but is nothing to write home about. Sure, it is good family fun, but the obvious target audience for this is 4th graders (I’m estimating). I said that you’d be better served by watching an episode of Recess than watching the other film, but I won’t say that with this one. Just watch The Weekenders, instead. Seriously though, I can’t not recommend this, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Hollywood Canteen

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on January 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Two soldiers on sick leave spend three nights at the Hollywood Canteen before returning to active duty in the South Pacific. Slim Green (Hutton) is the millionth G.I. to enjoy the Canteen, and consequently wins a date with Joan Leslie. The other G.I., Sergeant Nolan, (Clark) gets to dance with Joan Crawford. Canteen founders Bette Davis and John Garfield give talks on the history of the Canteen. The soldiers enjoy a variety of musical numbers performed by a host of Hollywood stars.

REVIEW:

I’m a fan of old Hollywood, but for some reason, I had no idea that there was such an establishment as the Hollywood Canteen, a restaurant/nightclub for servicemen to enjoy during their shore leaves during the wars. The selling point of the place was that it was operated by celebrities. Can you imagine Bing Crosby cooking your burger, Jayne Mansfield bringing it you, and then as you leave saying goodbye to Lucille Ball, the hat check girl. That is what a night was like there, and this film Hollywood Canteen shows us what it was like.

Initially, I expected this to be some kind of variety package film, but it turns out that there actually a plot involving a soldier about to return to active duty, but before he ships out, he wants to meet Joan Leslie. One night, he makes a trip to the Canteen and impresses all the workers there so much that they make a call to her, make up some faux contest which lets him kiss Joan Leslie. From there on, the film spends its time on musical acts and the soldier’s infatuation with Joan Leslie, which does end up with the two of them starting a relationship.

The plot is a little flimsy and at times can be downright creepy, what with the whole stalking of Joan Leslie, for lack of a better term. At the same time, there are some quite sweet moments, especially with this soldier who can’t be more innocent and lovable.

I do belive this is the one film I’ve seen that doesn’t have an antagonist. No, there isn’t anything wrong with that, just an observation.

A key selling point of this film is the performances and cameos from old Hollywood stars, such as Bette Davis, Roy Rogers, Jane Wyman, the Andrews Sisters, Jack Benny, Barbara Stanwyck, Peter Lorre, and many others. Couple that with the touching story and one can have quite the rousing time watching this film. However, I do think that it went on a good 30 minutes or so too long, but that’s my personal opinion. Should you watch this? Yes, it is, but this is not the film for everyone. If you’re not into classic Hollywood, then you won’t be able to enjoy this film. Otherwise, kick back, relax, and enjoy!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Across the Wide Missouri

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , on January 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the 1830s in the Rocky Mountains, fur trapper Flint Mitchell (Clark Gable) meets at the summer “Rendezvous” with other mountain men, cashing in his furs, drinking, and enjoying contests among his friends. He organizes a hunting “brigade” into the beaver-rich Blackfoot territory, buying horses and recruiting trappers, despite protests from his Scottish friend and former trading partner, Brecan (John Hodiak), who lives among the Blackfoot and warns him that the land belongs to them. Flint outbids Brecan for Kamiah (María Elena Marqués), the granddaughter of Blackfoot medicine man Bear Ghost and adopted daughter of a Nez Perce chief, Looking Glass (J. Carrol Naish). Brecan wants to return her to the Blackfoot, to promote peace between the tribes, while Flint wants to marry Kamiah and ensure the brigade’s safety.

Pierre (Adolphe Menjou), a French Canadian trapper, and Captain Humberstone Lyon (Alan Napier), another Scotsman, who fought in the Battle of Waterloo, join Flint on the dangerous expedition. Kamiah successfully guides Flint and his men on their trek through the high passes filled with crippling snow drifts and delivers them to the Blackfoot territory, where they build a stockade. Flint narrowly escapes capture and death by Ironshirt (Ricardo Montalban), a young Blackfoot prince and war chief, who kills Baptiste DuNord, one of Flint’s best trappers. Ironshirt steals the brigade’s horses, but Flint impresses Bear Ghost (Jack Holt), who orders them returned.

Though he marries Kamiah for reasons other than love, and cannot speak her language, Flint falls in love with her. As Flint and Kamiah grow closer, Flint and Bear Ghost become good friends. Bear Ghost prevents Ironshirt from harming Flint and his men, but catastrophe strikes when Roy DuNord, another of Flint’s men, kills Bear Ghost to avenge his brother’s death. Although Brecan kills Roy, and Flint sinks into a grieving depression over the death of Bear Ghost, Ironshirt succeeds Bear Ghost as chief and resumes his campaign to drive the white trappers out of his country.

In the spring, Kamiah gives birth to a boy, Chip. On the way to Rendezvous, the brigade is attacked by a large war party under Ironshirt and Kamiah is killed. With Chip strapped to its back, Kamiah’s horse bolts during the attack and is chased by Ironshirt, intent on killing the boy. Flint manages to kill Ironshirt, however, and rescue his son. As the years pass, Flint takes Chip to live in the Blackfoot camp, where, Flint believes, Kamiah would have wanted him. Although Flint intends to have the boy formally educated in the East, Chip persuades him year after year to postpone his schooling, learning the ways of the mountains from his father.

REVIEW:

Something I was watching last week mentioned or spoofed Clark Gable, I can’t remember which, and it got me thinking. The only thing I’ve seen the guy in is Gone with the Wind, so I figured why not check out something else he was in. This is how I came to watch Across the Wide Missouri.

The film is pretty straight forward cowboys (well settlers) and Indian story, with a side plot that delves into the relationship between one of the settlers and his new Indian bride (their son is apparently the narrator).

As you can probably guess, there is some upstart Indian brave who thinks he runs everything, which includes taking over the tribe and other typical conspiracy whatnot that is associated with characters of this nature.

I was expecting something different from this picture and just didn’t get it. Everything seemed so predictable that it skewered my view of the rest of the film. That’s not say this wasn’t enjoyable, but I have come to expect better things from westerns. I could just have become spoiled by the high quality films in this genre I’ve seen, but this didn’t stack up and fell quite flat.

There really isn’t much to say about this film. Average is probably the best word for it. There are good and bad things about which cancel each other out and keep this film from tipping the needle in the positive or negative direction. Are there those out there that will enjoy this? Yes, and there are those that will hate it, as well. I cannot say you shouldn’t watch it, but I’m not gong to recommend it, either.

3 out of 5 stars

Interview with the Vampire

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In modern-day San Francisco, reporter Daniel Molloy (Christian Slater) interviews Louis de Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt), who claims to be a vampire and tells the story of his past.

Louis’ story begins in Louisiana in 1791, when he was 24 and suffering from a death wish after the loss of his wife and infant child. The vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) offers him a chance to be reborn and proceeds to turn him into a vampire. Lestat teaches Louis how to live as a vampire. At first, Louis rebels against hurting humans, drinking animal blood instead. He finally succumbs and kills his faithful house slave. He tries to kill himself by setting fire to his house, but Lestat rescues him and they flee.

In New Orleans, Louis is wandering the streets amidst an outbreak of plague. He finds a plague-ridden girl in a house with her dead mother. He bites the young girl, Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), whom Lestat later transforms into a vampire “daughter”, to discourage Louis from leaving him. Lestat begins to teach Claudia how to live like a vampire, making her copy his actions, as to killing. As thirty years pass, Claudia becomes a sadistic killer and closely bonded to Louis and Lestat. But when she realizes that she will live forever and never grow up, she becomes furious with Lestat. She tricks him into drinking the blood of the corpses of twin boys, whom she killed by overdosing them with laudanum, with the knowledge that the blood from the body of a creature already dead is fatal to vampires. This weakens him and she then slits his throat. Claudia and Louis dump Lestat’s body in a swamp but he later returns, having drained the blood of swamp creatures to survive. Lestat attacks them but Louis sets him on fire and flees to Paris with Claudia, assuming Lestat is dead.

In 1870 Paris, Louis and Claudia live in perfect harmony but Louis is still bothered by the question of how vampires came to be and if there are any other vampires on earth. One night, while walking the streets, he meets vampires Santiago (Stephen Rea) and Armand (Antonio Banderas), who tell him that there are other vampires in Paris and that he knows the answers Louis has been searching for. Armand invites Louis and Claudia to his coven, the Théâtre des Vampires, where they witness Armand and his coven dispatching a terrified human woman before an unsuspecting human audience. Armand later takes them to his lair and offers Louis a place by his side, while secretly telling Claudia to leave him. Louis refuses to leave his beloved Claudia, however, and leaves the lair. As he does, Santiago warns him that his vampire coven knows about Lestat’s murder and that it is forbidden for vampires to kill another vampire. Louis returns alone to Armand’s lair, where Armand proceeds to reveal that Louis is a unique vampire as he possesses a human soul and is connected to the “broken-hearted” spirit of the 19th Century. Louis becomes thoroughly smitten by Armand and resolves to leave Claudia at long last.

Returning to his residence, Louis finds that Claudia has brought home a human woman, Madeleine, with the intent that Louis turn her into a vampire to serve as a companion and protector before he leaves. Louis reluctantly gives in and transforms Madeleine, forcing Claudia to admit that they are now even and can part on good terms. Immediately after, however, the Parisian vampires burst in and abduct all three of them. As punishment for Lestat’s murder, they imprison Louis in a metal coffin and lock Claudia and Madeleine into an airshaft with an open roof. The next morning, the rising sun floods the airshaft and Claudia and Madeleine turn to ash. Armand frees Louis, who searches for Claudia and is horrified and grief-stricken when he comes across her ashen remains. He returns that night to the Theatre and seeks revenge for Claudia by burning all the vampires alive in their own theatre as they sleep and bisects Santiago with a scythe. Armand arrives in time to help him escape, and once again offers him a place by his side. Louis once again refuses, knowing that Armand choreographed Claudia’s demise in an attempt to get Louis all to himself, and he leaves Armand for good.

As decades pass, Louis explores the world alone, still grieving for Claudia, before returning to the United States. He is seen and heard telling how he saw “the sun rise for the first time in 200 years”, in a movie theatre, watching Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, Nosferatu, Gone with the Wind and Superman. He returns to New Orleans in 1988 and finds Lestat, still alive but a mere shadow of his former self. Louis unwittingly gives Lestat some insight about modern technology; Lestat asks Louis to rejoin him, but Louis rejects him and leaves.

At this point Louis concludes the interview, which Malloy, the interviewer, cannot accept. He asks Louis to transform him so he can see what it is truly like to be a vampire, but Louis throttles him in a fit of rage and vanishes. Malloy hurriedly runs to his car and drives away, feeling happy with his interview as he plays it through the cassette player. Just then, Lestat appears, attacking him and taking control of the car. Revived by Malloy’s blood, he then offers a dying Malloy “the choice [he] never had” as they drive off into the San Francisco night, taking out the cassette and turning on the radio, which is playing Guns N’ Roses cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil”.

REVIEW:

I guess this is just vampire weekend, what with this and Underworld: Awakening yesterday. I may even go listen to some Vampire Weekend after I finish this post. A little “A-Punk” or “Giving Up the Gun” never hurt anyone.

I’ve mentioned my ever-growing frustrations with those sparkly, girly “vampires” in other franchises (those that shall not be named). Well, they aren’t here either. If you’re looking for those kind of abominations, this is not the film for you.

First thing I should say about this film is that, with the exception of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I belive this is the first film that truly shows the plight of the vampire as they cope with immortality and the changing times.

In case you are not familiar with the source material, this flick is based on a novel by Anne Rice, The Vampire Chronicles. I have not read the books, so I can’t comment on how close the filmmakers kept with the source material, but from what I hear, they did a much better job than what was done with the “sequel” Queen of the Damned, which took out much of the major plot points and characters and left very little of the actual stories it was to be based on.

The story is told through the eyes of Louis, as he is telling a reporter his life/death story so that it can be published. I’m not quite sure what the reporter was trying to do or how this meeting was set up, but I’d imagine that may be covered in the books.

We learn of the kind of person Louis was and how he was turned by the vampire Lestat. Keep in mind this all happens in New Orleans in the 18th-19th centuries, so random killings weren’t on the news or internet 5 seconds later, women were looser (that’s saying something about New Orleans…lol), and life was all around more decadent and fitting to the life of a vampire.

As you can imagine, the lust for blood in the two does eventually get noticed and they are forced to find other accommodations after Louis burns his plantation and frees his slaves. I find it odd how it was Louis’ plantation and yet Lestat was pissed that he “…burned everything we have”. Was he given part ownership of the place or something?

As the film progresses, they turn Claudia, a little girl whose parents were dying of the plague and who becomes their “daughter”. Years pass and she begins to lash out, going so far as to orchestrate the killing of Lestat, which causes her and Louis to flee to Paris where they meet a theatre troupe of vampires led by Armand.

It turns out, though, that these vampires are not exactly keen on the idea of killing one’s own and feel that Louis and Claudia must be punished. Things get quite interesting as the film draws to its conclusion after that point.

The vampires in this film are about as blood thirsty as they come. Well, with the exception of Louis who is not a killer and prefers to drink of rats rather than take a human life. You won’t find these vampires whining about their feelings or some nonsense such as that.

The look of the vampires, though is a bit of a strange thing for me. On one hand, they look as human as you or I, with the exception of the teeth, of course, and maybe the eyes. However, they have a very effeminate look to them. This may have to do with the era in which this is set, though.

The cast is terrific. I think this is one of the few times where I actually enjoy Tom Cruise on-screen. Apparently, Lestat is a major character in vampire lore, so this is a pretty big undertaking. The author of the books was not a fan of the casting of Cruise, but after she saw his performance, she was sold and even sent him a letter of apology. Now that is getting the seal of approval!

Brad Pitt is ok as Louis, but he comes off at times as cold and/or aloof. Part of this is the personality of the character, but something tells me he could do better, but hey, at least he’s being a real vampire.

With names sch as Cruise, Pitt, Antonio Banderas, and Christian Slater, you’d think they’d be the hamming it up and such, but that isn’t the case. In fact, they aren’t even the best part of the cast.

That honor goes to the debut of a young Kirsten Dunst. For such a young age, she sure had some chops back then, and this was really a mature role. She pulls it off like a wily veteran twice her age. No wonder she’s still around today, regardless of how milquetoast she was in the Spider-Man movies.

How does this film rate with me, I bet you’re asking? Well, to be honest with you, I actually like it. No, it isn’t my favorite vampire flick. Far from it, as a matter of fact, but if it were to be suggested or come on television, I’m for certain to give it a look-see. It is definitely worth your time.

4 out of 5 stars

An American in Paris

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , on January 22, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jerry Mulligan (Gene Kelly), an American World War II veteran, is now an exuberant expatriate in Paris trying to make a reputation as a painter. His friend, Adam (Oscar Levant), is a struggling concert pianist who is a long time associate of a French singer, Henri Baurel (Georges Guétary). A lonely society woman, Milo Roberts (Nina Foch), takes Jerry under her wing and supports him, but is more interested in Jerry than his art. Jerry remains oblivious to her feelings and falls in love with Lise (Leslie Caron), a French girl he meets at a restaurant. Lise loves him as well but she is already in a relationship with Henri, to whom she feels indebted for keeping her safe during World War II. For most of the film Jerry is unaware of Lise’s relationship with Henri.

Eventually Jerry learns that Lise is in love with him but is marrying Henri the next day. He invites Milo to a masked ball that night. At the raucous masked ball, with everyone in black-and-white costumes, Milo learns from Adam that Jerry is not interested in her, and Henri overhears Jerry and Lise saying goodbye to each other. When Henri and Lise drive away, Jerry daydreams about being with her all over Paris to the tune of the George Gershwin composition An American in Paris. His reverie is broken by a car horn, the sound of Henri bringing Lise back to him. They embrace as the Gershwin composition (and the film) ends.

REVIEW:

Someone once asked me why it is that I like classic films, especially musicals so much. Well, the answer lies in the films of Gene Kelly. No, I don’t have a man crush on the guy. Although his physique is something to be envied, for sure.

I am in awe of his films because, of the handful I’ve seen, all have been fun from beginning to end, some more than others, of course. An actor than can sing, dance, and act was a common thing back, then, but few did it to such a level as Mr. Kelly. I challenge you to name someone today that can do the same!

An American in Paris is another gem in the Kelly crown, but he actually isn’t the star of the film. Let me explain that statement. Yes, he is the star, but this musical features the music of George Gershwin, one of, if not THE BEST, of America’s composers.

I always say for a musical to be successful, then the music has to capture the audience. No one’s tunes have done a better job of this the Gershwin’s, though I’m sure you can make a case for some other composers such as Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, etc.

These songs, however, were not written specifically for this production. As a matter of fact, with the exception of a couple of Gershwin piano pieces “Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra” and “An American in Paris”, these are all recycled material from other Gershwin shows.

While the songs are recycled, they are given new life by different interpretations. Take for instance “I Got Rhythm”. Gene Kelly’s version is not the same as the one we are all familiar with, but is still recognizable. Having said that, I could have done without the kids messing it up.

Along with music, one has to have a great story. Usually, musicals involve some type of love story, and that is what we get here. As a matter of fact, we get this sort of love triangle going on that is quite intriguing to watch unfold and keeps you on the edge of your seat to find out what is going to happen in the end.

Finally, there has to be a competent cast to pull off these characters. Well, I’ve already said my piece about Gene Kelly, but it should also be noted that he is quite charming and charismatic in this role, though, as someone who saw this put it, if he’s supposed to be a struggling painter, why does he look like he has his own personal trainer?

Leslie Caron, who is the object of Kelly’s affections is pretty good here. I mean, she didn’t really have much to do other than have that innocent deer-in-the headlights look that many ingenues are known to have. I particularly like how she isn’t drop dead gorgeous, but rather a woman of above average looks. That’s my opinion, of course. I think we all know that if this was filmed today, some woman who sold her soul to the devil for the gift of beauty would be cast in this role, regardless of her talent and whatnot.

The supporting characters played by Nina Foch, Oscar Levant, and Georges Guétary really flesh out the cast. Guétary is especially special because he forms the 3rd point of the love triangle. The conflict between he and his new friend never becomes that heated, bt there is some disconnect there.

The setting of Paris is actually a sound stage, but for me, it didn’t matter. I’m sure there are those that would have much preferred the real deal, though. Sure, there are times when it looks fake, but you have to keep in mind this is a film from 1951. Back then, people paid attention to the actors and what they were doing, not to the unnecessary stuff going on behind them.

The final dance scene is some of Kelly’s finest works. I believe he choreographed this himself. Couple this masterful dance sequence with the genius of the titular tune by Gershwin and you have created magic on the screen. Yes, there are those that complain about it being a bit of filler there at the end, but there are two things to remember.

First, this is a film that stars Gene Kelly. Do you honestly expect there to not be some kind of major dance sequence?

Second, it fits the way the story and isn’t shoehorned in there, the way somethings tend to be in films I see.

“An American in Paris” is my 2nd favorite Gershwin composition behind “Rhapsody in Blue” (not counting his musical songbook, of course). In college, I even did a term paper on him that, to this day, is the only A that professor has ever given on a paper. Needless to say, this was a real treat to enjoy this music coupled with great performances and pretty good story.

All that said, this is not my favorite Gene Kelly picture. That honor will probably always go to Singin’ in the Rain (despite the butchering the Glee kids did to that immortal song). This is one of those pictures that has it all. For goodness sakes, this film has won numerous awards and accolades including the Academy Award for Best Picture (back then there wasn’t a disconnect between critics and movie goers, so this actually meant something). This great film is not perfect, but it is pretty close. I have to say that is falls in the category of must-see before you die!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Trading Places

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on January 22, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Duke brothers Randolph (Ralph Bellamy) and Mortimer (Don Ameche) own Duke & Duke, a successful commodities brokerage in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Holding opposing views on the issue of nature versus nurture, they make a wager and agree to conduct an experiment switching the lives of two people at opposite sides of the social hierarchy and observing the results. They witness an encounter between their managing director—the well-mannered and educated Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), engaged to the Dukes’ grand-niece Penelope (Kristin Holby)—and a poor street hustler named Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy); Valentine is arrested at Winthorpe’s insistence because of a suspected robbery attempt. The Dukes decide to use the two men for their experiment.

Winthorpe is publicly framed as a thief and drugs are planted on him when he is arrested. He is fired from his job, his bank accounts are frozen, and he is denied entry to the Duke-owned town-house where he resides. He befriends a prostitute named Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis) who allows him to stay at her apartment on the condition of receiving a reward once he re-establishes himself in society. Winthorpe soon finds himself ostracized and abandoned by Penelope and his former friends. Meanwhile, claiming to operate an assistance program for the underprivileged, the Dukes bail Valentine out of jail, install him in Winthorpe’s position at the company and give him use of Winthorpe’s home. Valentine quickly becomes well-versed in the business and acts well-mannered, even applying his street smarts to the job.

During the firm’s Christmas party, Winthorpe is caught planting drugs in Valentine’s desk in a desperate attempt to get his job back. After Winthorpe flees, Valentine hides in a bathroom stall to smoke a joint he took from the desk. The Dukes enter the bathroom and, unaware of Valentine’s presence, discuss in detail the outcome of their experiment and settle their wager for $1. Valentine overhears their exchange and learns that the Dukes have no intention of keeping him in the job due to his race. Valentine decides to seek out Winthorpe.

Having unsuccessfully attempted suicide by shooting himself with a semi-automatic pistol (which fails to go off till after he throws it away), Winthorpe again attempts suicide in Ophelia’s apartment by overdosing on pills. Valentine, Ophelia and Winthorpe’s former butler Coleman (Denholm Elliott) nurse him back to health and inform him of the Dukes’ experiment. On television, they learn of a Clarence Beeks (Paul Gleason) transporting a secret report on orange crop forecasts. Winthorpe and Valentine recall large payments made to Beeks by Duke & Duke and realize that the Dukes are planning to obtain this report to corner the market on frozen orange juice. The group agrees to disrupt their plan as revenge.

Learning of Beeks’ travel plans, the four get aboard his train (aboard which a New Year’s Eve costume party is also being thrown) to switch the report in Beeks’ possession with a forgery. Beeks uncovers their scheme and attempts to kill them. He fails, because of the interference of a drunken partier in a gorilla costume, and is subdued, and the group dress him in a gorilla costume and lock him in a cage with a real gorilla. The forgery is then delivered to the Dukes, while Winthorpe and Valentine head to the World Trade Center to buy out the Dukes, Coleman and Ophelia providing the necessary money.

On the commodities trading floor at Four World Trade Center, the Dukes commit all their holdings (Randolph doing so against Mortimer’s advice) to buying frozen concentrated orange-juice futures contracts; other traders follow their lead, inflating the price. Before the real crop report is declassified, Valentine and Winthorpe sell futures heavily at the increased price. After the forecast that the orange crop will be normal, the price of orange-juice futures plummets. Valentine and Winthorpe successfully cover their short sales, turning a profit of more than three hundred million American dollars. The Dukes fail to meet a margin call and are ruined, being left owing three hundred and ninety-four million American dollars for futures now worth a fraction of what they contracted to pay. Valentine and Winthorpe explain to the Dukes that they had made a wager on whether they could get rich while making the Dukes poor simultaneously. Valentine collects $1 from Winthorpe (who had believed their revenge plan would fail) while Randolph collapses holding his chest, a heart attack having seized him, and Mortimer shouts angrily at his brother about their failed plan.

Beeks and the gorilla are last seen being loaded onto a ship headed to Africa, while Valentine, Winthorpe, Ophelia, and Coleman relax on a luxurious yacht in an un-named tropical locale.

REVIEW:

When you mess with people’s lives, more often than not, it will come back and bite you in the end. Just ask the two antagonists of Trading Places, who you may recognize as the two bums outside the restaurant in Coming to America.

I was just reading some reviews about this film, and, of course some people are trying to make this more than just a film, but rather some sort of philosophical benchmark. One person even went so far as to call it opera for our time (even though there isn’t a single word sung in this picture). Isn’t it amazing how some people can’t just let a movie be a movie?

Imagine if you will, you are a rich yuppie managing editor. Everything is going your way, even things with your fiancée. All of a sudden one day, you have a run-in with a guy on the street whom you think was trying to steal your briefcase (when in actuality it was he just knocked it out of your hand was trying to give it back to you). After giving chase around your place of business, the police capture the thief and you decide to press charges.

Unbeknownst to you, though, your bosses have bailed him out and are preparing to ruin your life for the sake of their entertainment and a social experiment to prove which side of the argument is more valid, nature or nurture.

Now imagine what it must be like to find be framed for theft and drug use, which gets you fired, and subsequently causes the end of your relationship. My, my how things have gone down for you in a hurry, but as quickly as things have gone down for you, they seem to have been getting better for the guy who you thought tried to steal your briefcase.

So, yeah, that is the plot of this picture. Nothing too fancy or complicated, just good old 80s comedy, starring some two of the funniest guys of the time Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, plus season veterans Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy.

There is part of this flick that can leave you scratching your head. I’m not too well versed in the ways of the stock market, so anytime they got to talking about that stuff, it went right over my head. Luckily, though, that isn’t the major plot device of the film, except for near the end.

If you ever want to see comedic genius, then you have to go back to bygone years and find films such as this. Unfortunately, though, the film does suffer from some issues that bring it down.

The first is that it, while this is a pretty good story, that is all is it is. I’m not really sure why, but it just never really seemed to capture my attention the way it should have.

Second, I could be wrong, but it just seems as if there should be some law against messing with people’s lives like this. For goodness sakes, these guys ruined Winthorpe’s relationship among other things for $1, all so that they could be entertained. Hell, if they were that hard up for a dollar, why not have him and Billy Ray fight as gladiators?

Finally, the whole gorilla thing near the end seemed a bit shoehorned in there. It just didn’t fit with the rest of the picture. Do you really mean to tell me the writers couldn’t devise a better way to take care of Mr. Beeks than this? Not to mention the fact that the gorilla was obviously someone in a suit, which given the year this was released, I should let slide, but geesh!

One of my girlfriends in college was addicted to Trading Spaces, which basically meant I had to watch it, too. I can’t help but wonder if I should blame this film for my having to endure that?

So, here we have Eddie Murphy in his prime. That typically means it should be hilariously funny and a high recommendation, right? Normally, I’d be inclined to agree, but not this time. As I said, there are plenty of good things about this film, but nothing that is just stand out greatness, which is a real shame. Sure, I recommend this. It is not like this is a bad film. Its anything but that. However, it is one of many films that doesn’t seem to live up to its potential.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Limitless

Posted in Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , on January 21, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Edward “Eddie” Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a playwriter who lives in New York City. He has recently been dumped by his girlfriend Lindy (Abbie Cornish) in addition to failing to meet the deadline to turn in his new book, which he hasn’t started yet. One day, Eddie comes across Vernon Gant (Johnny Whitworth), the brother of his ex-wife, Melissa Gant (Anna Friel). Vernon is a drug dealer, and he offers Eddie a sample of a new (fictional) nootropic drug, NZT-48, claiming it allows humans to access 100% of the brain’s power, as opposed to the “normal” 20%. Eddie accepts, and, much to his surprise, the drug does indeed work, putting him into a manic state, and enabling him to write the first 90 pages to his book, exciting his publisher.

Eddie asks for more of the drug, but when Vernon asks him to go pick up his dry cleaning, he returns to find Vernon murdered and his apartment ransacked. Eddie calls the police and deduces that Vernon was probably killed by someone who wanted his stash of NZT. He finds the drugs, his address book, and a wad of cash just before the police arrive. Regularly taking NZT, and using Vernon’s cash, he turns his life around. After finishing his book he focuses on trading stocks, initially financed with a $100,000 loan from a Russian mafia thug, Gennady (Andrew Howard). Eddie gets back together with Lindy. He starts increasing his dose of NZT while he turns his loan into more than $2million in just a few days. His fame hits the news, but he notices he is followed by a man in a tan coat (Tomas Arana).

His successful trading gets him a meeting with powerful businessman, Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro). Van Loon gives him an assignment to research overnight, but the higher dose of NZT is causing side effects including lost time, frenetic activity, and hallucinations. Eddie goes on a drinking and partying binge, and ends up in a hotel room with a striking blond (Caroline Winberg). He is followed there by the man in the tan coat.

Eddie wakes up just prior to his meeting with Van Loon, and realizes he has no more NZT at his house. He hasn’t looked at the assignment, but goes to the meeting anyway. Van Loon wants to force a merger with a competitor, Hank Atwood (Richard Bekins), and can’t figure out how the head of the merger target could come from out of nowhere to be a viable partner in just 2 years. Just as Eddie begins to realize that Atwood may be on NZT too, a news flash appears on a TV screen showing that the woman Eddie was out with the evening before was murdered.

Eddie was feeling sick after his binge, and is even sicker now. His ex-wife calls him and tells him she suspects he is on NZT. He pleads for a face-to-face meeting, but Melissa is reluctant. He wants to learn more about the side effects of the drug, so he starts calling the names in Vernon’s address book. He discovers that everyone listed is either dead, or in the hospital sick. While calling one of the names, he hears a phone ring, and a person sitting close by answering. It is the man in the tan coat. He chases Eddie, who escapes and meets with Melissa.

Melissa explains that the pill makes you very sick, especially if you try to go off it cold turkey. She quit 2 years earlier, and felt she was lucky to be alive, but has lost her ability to concentrate, and has become lazy. She tells him the best way is to ease off gradually, reducing the dosage over time.

Eddie finds a pill in his pocket, and heads home to take it, but is aprehended by the Russian, Gennady, looking for his money. Gennady notices the pill, and takes it. Eddie gets his money from the bank, and the Russian tells him that it makes him feel very good.

Eddie is getting sicker as he goes through withdrawal, and stumbles into Lindy’s office. He tells her about the drug, and that he has hidden his stash at her apartment. Seeing how sick he is, she agrees to retrieve his stash and return it to him at her office.

On her way back to Eddie, Lindy is intercepted en route by the man in the tan coat. It becomes obvious that he is dangerous, as he gives chase to Lindy, killing two men trying to help her as she flees. By phone, Eddie convinces her to take a pill as it will enable her to know what to do to survive. Doing so, Lindy makes a bold escape. Though Eddie is saved, Lindy is convinced that he will destroy himself because of NZT and breaks up with him again.

The Russian enforcer realizes the effects the drug has and threatens Eddie until he agrees to give him more NZT. Because of Melissa’s warnings, Eddie manages his consumption of the drug down to an acceptable level, and uses his fortune to hire bodyguards, and recruits a scientist to work on reverse engineering NZT. Meanwhile, he reconnects with Van Loon to assist with the merger deal.

While planning the merger, Eddie is told he is a suspect for the murder of the blonde. He hires a top lawyer, Morris Brandt (Ned Eisenberg). Morris tells him that the room was wiped of finger prints, and there is no real evidence against him.

Negotiations on the merger go well, but Eddie notices how frail Atwood is. Van Loon tells Eddie that he will be paid $40 million if the deal closes. Eddie purchases a well fortified “bunker” penthouse.

At the meeting to close the merger deal, Atwood is late. His wife shows up, and says he would complete the deal, but is in a coma in the hospital. Her chauffeur is the man in the tan coat. He had been looking to get NZT for Atwood, thus confirming how he accomplished his meteoric rise.

Next, Eddie is met by his lawyer, and stands in a lineup for the murder. He is not identified. He had to pass his custom tailored suit jacket to the lawyer while he was in the lineup. When Eddie goes to take another pill, he realizes that the lawyer has lifted his stash of pills that were in a hidden pocket. To make matters worse, Van Loon accuses him of leaking the merger story to the press, and he has the hands of his bodyguards delivered to him in a box while he is meeting with Van Loon. He heads home to his bunker, and while trying to figure out what is going on, he sees Morris Brandt, his lawyer, on the television, acting as Atwood’s lawyer.

The Russians break down the door to his apartment, looking for the NZT. Gennady explains that he is no longer ingesting the pills, but instead dissolves them in a solution, and injects them. The effects hit faster, and last longer. While the Russian’s associates are searching the apartment, Eddie is able to stab Gennady. He is desperate for a hit as he lays beside the bleeding man. All he can do is drink the blood that is pooling beside him. Revitalized, he stabs one of the thugs in the eye, and tricks him into shooting the other.

Atwood dies at the hospital, Brandt having kept the NZT for himself. Eddie tells the man in the tan coat that Brandt has caused his boss to die, and gets his help retrieving his stolen NZT at Brandt’s house.

Twelve months later, Eddie’s book has been published (titled Illuminating the Dark Fields, a reference to the novel on which the film is based), and Eddie is running for the United States Senate. In the midst of his campaign, Carl Van Loon approaches Eddie with the revelation that he has bought the company secretly producing NZT and that the backroom lab Eddie was financing has been shut down.

Carl offers him an unlimited supply of NZT (admitting that they both know he is headed for Presidency); however, Eddie must use his political position to push Carl’s agenda in return. Eddie refuses, explaining that he no longer needs the drug. Apparently, having had the foresight to have multiple labs working on the NZT, Eddie bluffs that he improved the drug so that he taper off it completely without experiencing side effects, while permanently retaining its mental enhancements.

By touching Van Loon’s chest, Eddie, while still on NZT, can tell that he has a serious cardiac problem. Van Loon looks stunned. Eddie lets him know that with his enhanced thinking, he is already 50 moves ahead of Van Loon, having thought of every contingency, which wraps up their relationship.

The movie ends with Eddie meeting Lindy for lunch at a Chinese restaurant, their relationship apparently renewed. When the waiter walks by, Eddie stops him and orders in Chinese. Lindy looks at him, surprised, and Eddie asks (with a mischievous smile), “What?” Hinting that he is still using NZT. Although Eddie told he he was off NZT, Eddie is known throughout the movie for lying, with the best example being the book deal when he really just had a loan.

REVIEW:

Think about how much of your brain you use during the course of the day. Chances are, it isn’t that much, right? Well, take that amount and multiply it a hundredfold. That is what the premise of Limitless is, being able to tap that part of the brain we don’t seem to use.

If nothing else is appealing about this flick, then that notion should be enough to at least pique your interest. At least it did for me, but I’m always curious about things.

So, I bet you’re thinking to yourself, what is it in this film that causes the limitless potential? Well, it all happens courtesy of a little drug called NZT. Don’t ask me how the drug actually works, because it isn’t really explained in the picture and I don’t know anything about it, other than the fact it does actually exist. I would wager, though, that its effects are nowhere near this scope.

Now, this films isn’t all about NZT, but also how it affects the life of one man and those around him. Wait, let me take that back, I shouldn’t say those around him, since he didn’t really have many people around him other than his girlfriend and then the boss he eventually earned after some time on the drug.

As you can about imagine, he does get a bit addicted, and, to no surprise, ends up owing money to some less than savory characters. I think you can also predict what happens involving his job and relationship, right? Well, if you were to guess he loses them, then you’re half right. He does, but then somehow gets them back. The film is almost like a romantic comedy on that front.

The big turning point for the film happens after the girlfriend finds out about the drugs and in order to keep him out of the hospital she goes to get the pills for him. On the way back, she is chased by a mysterious man. In order for her to escape, he tells her to take a pill so that she can know the best way to escape. This leads to quite the impressive and daring scenes of the film, culminating with using a little girl’s ice skates to cut the guy’s face.

After that there really isn’t much in the way of action, but more suspense as to what is actually going to happen next and how is this all going to end. The tension for the remainder of the film is sure to keep the audience engaged, especially the last 45 minutes or so.

Bradley Cooper has proven himself a very competent actor in the time he’s been in Hollywood. The guy can do action, comedy, and even serious roles like this. I had no problem with him here, though that whole schlub look he had going at the beginning of the film was kind of disturbing.

Like most people, when I hear Robert DeNiro is in a picture, I just assume it is going to be a great, major role for him. I’m not really sure if that is true about his character here. While he isn’t part of the film’s major plot, he does play a major role in the overall story arc, but I can’t help but think this was nothing more than an extended cameo. I could be wrong, though. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Abbie Cornish is actually not that bad of an actress, and she’s not bad looking either. I think someone put in my head that she was trying to hard to channel her inner Naomi Watts, because the whole time I was watching, that is who I was thinking she was. Whether that is a compliment or not, I’m not sure, but one thing is for sure, Abbie needs to create her own niche if she’s going to keep working in Hollywood…unless she just wants to go around being Naomi Watts’ backup, for lack of a better term.

The story here is quite compelling, as I mentioned earlier and audiences are sure to be enthralled. There are very few special effects, which allows for these actors to *GASP* act! Who would’ve thought that was even possible? I thought this was a really good film, on the cusp of being great, but something is keeping it from taking that next step. I just can’t put my finger on it. That point aside, I would highly recommend this flick as it a definite must-see and probably one of the most underrated films of 2011.

4 out of 5 stars

Underworld: Awakening

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT(spoiler alert!!!):

Six months after the events of Underworld: Evolution, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is captured by humans during “The Purge,” when she and Michael were planning on leaving the city. Eventually, both the government and the public learn about the existence of Vampires and Lycans. A crusade and all-out war begins: study and eradicate. After being imprisoned in cryogenic suspension for 12 years, Selene manages to escape the facility Antigen, headed by Dr. Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea), who reveals the existences of both immortal races after his son’s apparent death when being discovered as a Lycan. During the same time, another subject has also escaped the same facility that Selene was in. That subject was Eve (India Eisley), her hybrid daughter who is the key to ending the war by “curing” Vampires and Lycans of their “infection.” After escaping, she sees flashes of someone else’s point of view, and believing it to be Michael, she follows the flashes that lead her into a garbage chute. She confronts a young vampire named David (Theo James) who has been following her, when they realize that Lycans live there underground. Seeing flashes of Lycans hunting the person she is connected to, Selene eliminates many of them until the Lycans flee and she finds a young girl instead of Michael. After Selene and David get Eve out of the tunnels, they are chased through the busy city streets in a van by the three Lycans. They finally catch up to their van and break in while it’s rushing through the city. Eve rips one Lycan’s head in half while David and Selene shoot and stab the other two. On the way Selene realizes that Eve is not healing from a wound she suffered during her fight and is growing weak. David takes them to his coven.

At the coven most of the vampires are less than thrilled that David brought the infamous Selene, the lover of a Lycan to their coven, especially his father, Thomas (Charles Dance). However, they agree to help the weakened child which they soon realize is due to her not feeding. After drinking some blood her wound heals and Selene, after seeing Eve’s eyes change while feeding, sees that she has Michael’s hybrid eyes and realizes she is her and Michael’s daughter. Seeing that the coven does not want her there, she gets ready to leave. David, not wanting her to go, tries to convince her to stay and help them start an offensive against the humans by teaching them to fight. Before Selene decides, the coven comes under attack by Lycans who were thought to be almost extinct. Many of the vampires are slaughtered until Selene joins the fight. She orders David take Eve to safety while she deals with the rest of the Lycans. Going to the main hall of the coven, Selene comes upon a massacre of mostly vampires with few Lycan corpses, then a giant “Super Lycan,” more than twice the size of any werewolf she’s ever seen. Fighting it with a silver bladed weapon, she breaks a piece off after stabbing it into its back. Selene is shocked to realize that it heals instantly and the silver had no effect. Unfortunately, Selene is no match for the giant Lycan and is knocked unconscious. She later awakens to find David’s father gave Eve to the Lycans to save what was left of the Coven. During the battle, David is bitten by a Lycan and later dies after confirming Thomas’ actions, who in turn blames Selene for all that happened. After David dies, Selene makes an incision in David’s abdomen, then cuts the palm of her own hand and reaches into David’s torso, grabbing a hold of his heart. She squeezes it a few times, and with her Corvinus enhanced blood, she restarts his heart, bringing him back to life. She then leaves to go get her daughter and is confronted by a human detective named Sebastian who confirms her suspicions that the corporation called Antigen, headed by Dr. Jacob Lane, and is dedicated to “curing” the immortal species.

After seeing the evidence, Selene discovers that the corporation is actually run by the Lycans, including Dr. Lane – who have been posing as humans in order to trick the world’s governments into believing the Lycans are extinct – and that they intend to use Eve to perfect their race and develop an immunity to silver, thus allowing the Lycans to conquer both vampires and humans. The Super Lycan whom Selene had fought was Lane’s son, Quint (Kris Holden-Ried), who faked his death after being discovered his werewolf status. Using Eve’s genetics, Dr. Lane conducted experiments on his son to make him immune to silver, but in the process, vastly increasing his size and power. Seeing the dangers, Selene and Detective Sebastian team up to stop them and save Eve. Killing the Lycan guards with silver gas grenades and silver bullets, she comes across Subject 0, realizing it is Michael and, being short on time, shoots the glass to weaken the containment unit in order to free Michael before going to stop the Lycans from leaving with Eve. Using her incredible strength, she flips the van with Eve and her captors inside, only then to come face to face with the Super Lycan, whilst Eve fights the lycan Dr. Lane. Eventually Selene goes down a hallway where the Super Lycan cannot fit, forcing it to shift back to his human form, allowing Selene to impale Quint with her hand. Withdrawing her arm, Quint heals instantly which Selene is counting on. She then throws a grenade pin at him. Realizing too late that she has put a grenade inside him, the Quint claws in vain at his stomach before it explodes, killing him, while Eve rips out the throat of the Dr. Lane. Going back inside, they find Michael’s cryo tank is empty; Eve then gets a flash of the roof where they go, but Michael is no where in sight. Selene states that the world will be hunting Michael just as they hunted Eve

REVIEW:

Hot chick in skin-tight leather kicking ass…check! Kick ass action scenes…check! Most importantly, no girly man sparkly vampires…check!

In this day and age, it seems as if we’ve forgotten than vampires and werewolves are not whiny, touchy feely drama queens like they are portrayed in outlets such as the Twilight movies, but rather cold-hearted killers that have no regard for human life other than using us to feed. Underworld: Awakening reminds us how sadistic these creatures are. Such a shame there’s no Edward or Jacob to be killed along the way. That would make this film a 5+ star on that one scene…lol

First off, let me say that I’m a little distraught in the fact that this film was only shown in non 3D theaters twice. The first was at like 8 in the morning, and the other was just before the night prices kick in. As I’ve said before, I don’t support 3D unless it looks like it would be worth it. Movies cost too much as it is already, and I’m not about to shell out 3 or 4 extra bucks for some rented sunglasses, which is what they are, in essence.

The only thing that I saw that was 3D worthy is a scene where Selene sets of a silver nitrate bomb and the particles are still in the air. I guess you can make a case for the lycans jumping all over the place, but for me, I was glad I didn’t waste the money on 3D. I don’t think it was converted post production, but don’t quote me.

For those of you not familiar with the Underworld franchise, it sums up to the battle between vampires and lycans. Selene is/was a death dealer but betrayed her coven for the man she loved who was the last direct descendant of Alexander Corvinus, the father of both factions. Her man, as it turns out, becomes the first human hybrid, and well, that takes the war to a whole new level

This film pretty starts out by filling you in with all that has happens since we last saw Selene in Underworld: Evolution. It appears that the humans found about the vampires and lycans and, in typical human hysteria, overreacted and decided to wipeout both species. I’m not really sure why they felt they can wipe out entire species like that. Seems a bit Nazi-ish, if you ask me. Turns out that they manage to capture Selene and have succeeded in wiping out the Lycans…or so they think.

Fast forward 12 years and Selene’s hybrid daughter has awakened and released her from the frozen sleep she’s been in and it turns out that the lycans weren’t wiped out after all, but are back more powerful than before.

One question lingered as I was watching this. If Selene (and Michael, as it turns out) were frozen for 12 years, how is it she had a daughter? Is she a test tube baby, or is this just some detail the writers decided not to address? Either way, I couldn’t help but wonder.

Now, someone said that in the other films the fact that the vampires need to feed was not addressed and that it seems as if they just wander around without sucking some blood. I was ready to agree with that statement, then I remembered that Selene does tell Michael how to be a vampire in the second film.

In this installment, it is made clear that they can’t survive without blood, as Selene makes sure to feed first chance she gets after getting out of that frozen state. On top of that, she tells her daughter what she needs to survive. Again, some weirdness with the daughter. How has she managed to live for 12 yrs without feeding?

Something I noticed while I was watching this is that this seemed to be all about the werewolves. This isn’t that much a problem, especially given the story and all, but couldn’t we have gotten a bit more vampires? For goodness sakes, last movie we got was all about the werewolves, remember Underworld: Rise of the Lycans?

I won’t sit here and tell you that this story is what you should be going to see this film for. Truth be told, though, if you’re going to a film like this looking for some deep, profound plot or something, then you really need to have your head examined. No, the plot isn’t exactly the best. It has its holes, as a matter of fact, but it didn’t detract from the story for me, save for some minor details about Eve.

The action is fast paced and will blow your mind. Not to mention there is plenty of it to go around, especially in the last act where everything is taken up a notch! The previous films have nothing on the amount of blood spilled in this film. There is a darker, more violent vibe here, but make no mistake, the tone and scope of the film is on par with its predecessors.

How are the effects? Pretty good, I have to say. The werewolves actually look like wolves that have changed from humans and not some weird mutant teddy bears like we see in certain other werewolf franchises (not mentioning any names). The use of the hi-tech weaponry just astounded me. Especially the afore-mentioned silver nitrate. Oh, and then there is the transformation scene of the super lycan.

This isn’t the best transformation scene I’ve scene, but it really is good. Although, I couldn’t help by draw comparisons to The Wolfman because he looked like he was in pain to be transforming, whereas the transformation in the other movies, especially the first Underworld, they seem to do it just as easy as changing their clothes.

The last film did not star Kate Beckinsale. Her decision not to return is why they went the prequel route, although Rhona Mitra is just as hot as Kate. She returns to form here, donning the latex suit that many males dream about. As for her character, she doesn’t seem to be any warmer or colder than when we last saw here, but she does seem to be quite the bit more violent, but then again, you know what they say about getting in the way of a woman in love, right?

India Eisley enters the franchise as Selene’s daughter, Eve. Looking at the two of them, I’m not so sure I bought the family ties, but if you see this chick in her hybrid form she is sure to bring up memories of The Ring. Yikes!!!

Stephen Rea could have done so much more with his role. Once the true nature of is brought out, it is like a weight is lifted from his shoulders and he goes with it, but at the beginning of the film, he is your typical uptight scientist, which is very painful to watch.

Theo James, Michael Ealy, and Kris Holden-Reid all join the cast as well. Nothing really spectacular about what they do. Honestly, you can take them out and no one would notice. Ok, let’s not go that far, but you get the idea. Speaking of Holden-Reid, I could’ve sworn I just saw him on Syfy’s Lost Girl playing a werewolf there, as well.

There are some people who just are not fans of the Underworld franchise. I am one of them. I love these movies, and not just because Kate Beckinsale in her tight leather suit. This is a good action flick to start off the year, and as I said before, a film that reminds us what supernatural beings such as vampires and werewolves are supposed to be and not those wimpy, whiny things that have been polluting the movie world and vampire/lycan lore for the past few years. I highly recommend this film to everyone. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Of course, if could be even better if Blade showed up, teamed with Selene and they headed up to finish off a certain glittery vampire and whiny werewolf. Wouldn’t that just make the world a much better place?

4 1/2 out of 5 stars