Archive for March, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Posted in Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , on March 31, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), co-owner of Swedish “Millennium” magazine, has just lost a libel case brought against him by crooked businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström. Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a researcher and computer hacker, has compiled an extensive background check on Blomkvist for a job that Swedish magnate, Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) wants him to perform.

In exchange for damning information about Wennerström, Blomkvist agrees to investigate the disappearance and possible murder of Henrik’s grandniece, Harriet, 40 years ago. While hunting for clues, Blomkvist uncovers a notebook filled with information that may help explain Harriet’s disappearance.

Salander, who is under state legal guardianship due to diagnosed mental incompetency, is appointed a new guardian, lawyer Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen). He takes control of Salander’s finances and rapes her. She stuns him with a taser, blackmails him, and regains control of her life.

Blomkvist hires Salander to further investigate the notebook’s content, and she uncovers a connection to a series of murders that occurred from the late 1940s to the mid 1960s. During further investigation, Salander and Blomkvist become lovers. Henrik’s brother Harald (Per Myrberg) identifies Martin, Harriet’s brother (Stellan Skarsgård), as a possible suspect. Meanwhile, Salander makes increasingly revealing connections between Harriet’s disappearance and the entire Vanger dynasty.

Blomkvist breaks into Martin’s house to look for more clues, but Martin catches him. He brags about his crimes, but denies killing his sister. Salander arrives and saves Blomkvist. She pursues Martin, who loses control of his vehicle on an icy road and dies when it catches fire.

As more connections are made about the Vanger family, Blomkvist deduces that Harriet is still alive, living under a false identity to hide from Martin. Blomkvist confronts Harriet, who describes the generations of abuse within the Vanger family and Martin’s knowledge of her involvement in her father’s death. Finally free of her brother, thanks to Salander and Blomkvist, Harriet returns to Sweden and tearfully reunites with Henrik.

As promised, Henrik gives Blomkvist the information on Wennerström, but it is not helpful. Salander responds by hacking Wennerström’s computer and presenting Blomkvist with the necessary incriminating information about his activities. This evidence vindicates “Millennium” and destroys Wennerström.

Salander also hacks into Wennerström’s bank accounts and transfers two billion euros into her own accounts. During this time, Wennerström is murdered. On her way to give Blomkvist a Christmas present, Salander sees Blomkvist and his longtime lover and business partner Erika Berger (Robin Wright) walking together happily. Heartbroken, she throws the gift away and rides off on her motorcycle.

REVIEW:

There was a great deal of hype surrounding The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I can’t really tell you why, though. It isn’t like this is an original idea. First off, it is a series of books. Second, there is a Swedish film of the same name that just came out about 2 or 3 years ago.

It is well documented how much I hate remakes, but I have to contain that hatred when it comes to remakes of foreign pictures so as to not sound hypocritical, as one of my favorite films of all time, is nothing more than a remake of a Japanese film.

Now, I haven’t read the book(s) or seen that other film, but something tells me they have to be better than this. That isn’t to say this wasn’t a good film, because it was. However, it did seem to drag on and on without actually getting anywhere, except taking the audience to dreamland. I know that there were more than a few times I nodded off, and not just because I’m under the weather!

So, what worked?

Well, despite being a total snoozefest, this really is a well-crafted film. Each of the characters is well fleshed out and developed.

I’m not if this is a pro or con, but I liked that they actually got actors of Swedish decent (not all of them mind you) to play Swedish characters. There is just something about that authenticity that stands out, as opposed to say an Englishman playing a German, but still talking with is British accent.

The gritty realism of this picture is a real selling point. I hate to say this, but the rape scenes were a high point. Not because she was getting raped, but because they were filmed in such a way that the audience could really feel her pain and disgust!

What didn’t work?

Well, I’ve already mentioned how slow-moving this film is. From what I hear, after talking to some people who actually read the books, things were left out, and some of the more exciting, interesting parts were changed in favor of scenes of exposition. Why would they do this? Your guess is as good as mine!

The oddity of the investigation at first intrigued me, but after a while, it seemed to just be a plot device, and a weak one, at that, especially when you consider the fact that they almost forgot about it at times, in an effort to develop Lisabeth further, and apparently have her start some kind of relationship with Mikael.

When Christopher Plummer’s character says that his family is some of the most vile, evil people one can ever have the bad fortune of knowing, he wasn’t kidding. One wold think, though, that even with these boils on the butt of society, there would be someone who was actually inherently good, besides Henrik.

I’ve always had an issue with these films that end the major mystery part of their plot, then stumble on for another 10-30 minutes with stuff that could have very well been done in a minute or two, probably in montage form, or left out completely. This thing was long enough as it, without the last few minutes that just seemed to be filler.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo just didn’t work for me. True, this picture earned all of the awards and accolades it has received, but that just goes to show you that this is nothing more than one of those artsy fartsy films that is more for the critics than the audiences. While I did not care for this tripe,  I can see how some people would and, against my better judgement recommend it.

3 out of 5 stars

The Adventures of Tintin

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Tintin, a young journalist, and his dog Snowy are browsing in an outdoor market in a European town (scene starts off with a cameo of Hergé doing Tintin’s portrait). Tintin buys a model of a three-masted sailing ship, the Unicorn, on the cheap, but is then immediately accosted by the sinister Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine, and the mysterious figure of Barnaby, who both try to buy the model from Tintin, without success. Tintin takes the ship home, but it is broken during a fight between Snowy and a neighbour’s cat. As it breaks, a parchment scroll slips out of the ship’s mast. Snowy spots it but is unable to alert Tintin. Meanwhile, incompetent detectives Thomson and Thompson are on the trail of a pickpocket, Aristides Silk. Tintin visits Sakharine in Marlinspike Hall, where he learns that there are at least two model ships. Tintin puts the scroll in his wallet, only to have it (his wallet) stolen by a pickpocket.

Later, Tintin is shot at, then abducted by accomplices of Sakharine, and imprisoned on the SS Karaboudjan. On board, Tintin escapes and meets the ship’s nominal captain, Haddock. Haddock has been supplied with whisky by first mate Allan, who is working for Sakharine, and the captain is permanently drunk, and doesn’t know what’s happening on board his ship. Tintin and Haddock (and Snowy) eventually escape from the Karaboudjan in a lifeboat. Sakharine sends a seaplane to find them, but Tintin is able to capture the plane, and fly towards the (fictitious) Moroccan port of Bagghar, but they crash in the desert.

Dehydrated in the heat, and suffering from a sudden lack of alcohol, Haddock hallucinates, and starts to remember stories about his ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock, who was captain of the Unicorn during the 17th century. Sir Francis’ treasure-laden ship was attacked by a pirate ship, led by the masked Red Rackham, and, after a fierce battle and eventual surrender, Sir Francis chose to sink the Unicorn, and most of the treasure, rather than allow it to fall into Rackham’s hands. It transpires that there were three models of the Unicorn, each containing a scroll. Together, the scrolls will reveal the location of the sunken Unicorn, and its treasure.

In Bagghar, Tintin and the Captain find out that the third model ship is in the possession of the wealthy Omar Ben Salaad, but it is encased in a bullet-proof glass display case. Sakharine’s plan is to stage a concert involving famous diva Bianca Castafiore, the “Milanese nightingale”, whose penetrating singing voice will be able to shatter the glass case, allowing Sakharine’s trained hawk to fly down and steal the third scroll. After a chase down to the harbour, pursued by Tintin and Haddock, Sakharine finally escapes with all three scrolls. Tintin chases him back to Europe and arranges a police reception for him on the dockside. Haddock and Sakharine, who is revealed to be the descendant of Red Rackham, replay their ancestors’ swashbuckling sword fight, using dockside cranes, swords, and even bottles of whiskey. Haddock is eventually victorious and Sakharine is promptly arrested by Thomson and Thompson.

With the three scrolls in their possession, Tintin and Haddock find that the indicated location is Marlinspike Hall, and that the hall had been built originally by Sir Francis Haddock. There, in the cellar, they find some of the treasure, and a clue to the location of the sunken Unicorn. Both men agree to continue the adventure.

REVIEW:

When I heard they were making a Tintin movie, I had a WTF?!? moment. As well versed as I am in cartoons and other hand drawn literature, for lack of a better term, I had only heard of Tintin is passing. I would wager that many out there in the general audience had similar thoughts going through their heads. For some reason, though, Steven Spielberg and his crew felt there was enough of an audience to embark on this epic animated feature, The Adventures of Tintin.

From what I’ve heard, this film did alright here in the states, but made most of its money overseas, which is where it was actually more popular in the first place. As a matter of fact, I think this was originally a French comic strip/adventure comic.

So, what worked about this film?

The animation. The people were motion captured, which I still find creepy, but the settings and details on little things, such as the fur on Snowy the dog, were a sight to behold. Sure, it isn’t as good as Pixar stuff, but it doesn’t suck, I can tell you that much!

The action. In a manner similar to the Indiana Jones films, this film takes us all over the world in search of one small artifact, while our hero is constantly having his life on the line.

What didn’t work?

The voice acting. This is a personal issue, but almost all of the voices just didn’t seem to work for the characters they were voicing, specifically Sakharine/Red Rackham. I don’t know why, but it was sort of like mixing oil and water. No matter how much you try to get them to mix, it just doesn’t happen.

While I’m on the topic of voice acting, Jamie Bell as Tintin was more than annoying, he was downright the downfall of this film for me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but there was something about him that was very off putting.

The pacing. For a film like this, they could have either moved it along a little faster, or shaved off 15-30 minutes. Instead, they dragged it on longer than it needed to be. I can think of about 3 or 4 places sprinkled through the flick that they could have made some cuts.

In the end, The Adventures of Tintin worked on some levels, but is not great animated masterpiece. If the idea was to pique people’s curiosity on the character and history of Tintin, then I think it worked. Otherwise, this was nothing more than an overpriced jumble of stories cut from the books, and not with good results. Do I recommend this? Take it or leave it. For me, this was quite forgettable!

3 out of 5 stars

One Night at McCool’s

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The majority of the film consists of Dillon, Goodman and Reiser’s characters reciting their separate lovesick accounts of their experiences with Tyler’s seductress character, each narrating over what they consider to be the real version of the recent events. Scenes are often re-enacted twice, with different accounts contradicting each other for comedic effect. For example, when Goodman’s detective character is narrating, he acts as if he were a completely fair, by-the-book police officer, and Dillon is painted as a slimy, macho, abusive thug. When Dillon is telling the story, he is the innocent victim and Goodman is shown as a suspicious, prying, hard-nosed cop; Reiser’s character is convinced that every woman is in love with him, and during his version of the tale, everyone acts accordingly.

REVIEW:

You know how in cartoons and/or sitcoms there would be a situation or crime that happens and the audience gets the story from various characters’ point of view? Well, if you’re a fan of that plot device, then you’re going to love One Night at McCool’s.

I’m feeling a little under the weather tonight, so I’m going to make this short.

The good…

Liv Tyler is hot!!!!

It was good to see Andrew Dice Clay again.

The bad…

Normally, this kind of story would have three different versions of the same story, but here we barely get any variation. WTF?!?

Who had the brilliant idea to put Paul Reiser in this? Furthermore, I’m pretty sure no one, I repeat….NO ONE sees him as a ladies’ man. The guy just doesn’t have that vibe.

There are so many things that went unexplained, and I realize this isn’t exactly a cerebral kind of picture,  that it just makes it hard to figure out what is going on. The only thing that is a constant is the whole thing about how Jewel is bad news. One Night at McCool’s is a twisted comedy that some will enjoy. I won’t say that I didn’t, but I wasn’t in love with it the way some people seem to have been. Do I recommend it? Eh, take it or leave it.

3 out of 5 stars

Swing Time

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

John “Lucky” Garnett (Fred Astaire) is a gambler and dancer. He is set to marry Margaret (Betty Furness), but his friends hold him up so that he is late to the wedding. Margret’s father phones to call off the wedding, but Lucky doesn’t get that message. His friends bet him that he won’t be getting married and he agrees to the bet. Margret’s father tells Lucky that he must earn $25,000 in order to demonstrate his good intentions.

He and his friend “Pop” Cardetti (Victor Moore) try to buy train tickets, but his friends take his money – because he lost the bet. So they hitch the first freight train to New York. Broke, they wander around the city. Lucky meets Penny (Ginger Rogers), a dance school instructor, when he asks for change for a quarter. It’s his lucky quarter and Pop feels bad that Lucky lost it. They attempt to get it back, but Penny is in no mood to deal with them. When she drops her things, Pop sneaks the quarter out of her purse, and she thinks Lucky did it.

They follow Penny to her work. In order to apologize, he needs to take a lesson from her. She’s still furious at him. After a disastrous lesson, Penny tells him to “save his money” since he will never learn to dance. Her boss, Mr. Gordon (Eric Blore), overhears her comment and fires her. Lucky dances with Penny to “prove” how much she’s taught him. Not only does he give Penny her job back, Mr. Gordon sets up an audition with the owner of a local venue.

They check into the same hotel where Penny is staying. Lucky does not have a tuxedo to wear to the audition. He tries to get a tuxedo off a drunk man, but he ends up loses his own clothes instead. They miss the audition and Penny gets mad at Lucky all over again. Lucky arranges another audition. He and Pop picket in front of Penny’s door until she gives in and forgives him.

But they cannot audition because the club has lost their band leader, Ricardo Romero (Georges Metaxa), to a casino. They go to Club Raymond where Lucky gambles to win enough to get Ricky back. Meanwhile, Ricky declares his feelings for Penny. Lucky is about to win enough to marry Margaret, but his takes his last bet off in time… proving he is no longer interested in her, but in Penny, instead. The club owner bets him double or nothing and they gamble for Ricky’s contract. Pop cheats and Lucky wins the contract.

Lucky and Penny dance at the club. They are dancing together all the time, but Lucky does not trust himself around Penny because he feels guilty about not telling her about Margaret. He’s avoiding her, which Penny notices, so she and her friend Mabel Anderson (Helen Broderick) conspire to get Lucky and Pop out to the country. Pop lets slip the information about Lucky and Margaret.

Despite her best efforts, the two begin a romance, even as Ricky continues to woo Penny. When Margaret shows up, Lucky tries to avoid her, but, too late, Penny finds out. She agrees to marry Ricky. Margaret calls off her engagement to Lucky before he can. Lucky successfully stops Penny’s wedding. And the two end up together, much to everyone’s delig

REVIEW:

I have long said that Gene Kelly is, or was, the living embodiment of what old Hollywood was about. The perfect specimen and song and dance man, but before Kelly came along, there was a duo that lit up the screen and influenced scores of dancers even up to today. Swing Time features these two, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

This black and white musical allows Astaire and Rogers to do their thing and shine, but it also has some pretty nice songs thrown in there, as well, such as “Pick Yourself Up”, “A Fine Romance”, and the immortal “The Way You Look Tonight”. All these songs fit into the film seamlessly, not feeling as if they were stuck in there.

So, what worked for me?

The dance sequences. Of course, if Astaire and Rodgers, how could this not work?

The comedic sidekicks, particularly Helen Broderick, ham it up, and in a good way, stopping just short of going over the top.

The pacing of the film is pretty decent as well. The last 30 minutes are so seem a bit cut and paste, or rushed, if you will, but the flick doesn’t seem to have one of those moments where is grinds to a halt.

What didn’t work?

The plot. I don’t know, I just couldn’t get into the story, but that may have been because I was so anxious to see Astaire and Rogers cut a rug.

The last dance sequence, which was done in blackface. Well, I wasn’t a fan. Don’t get me wrong, Astaire shines, but the whole blackface thing ruined it for me.

So, in the end Swing Time is a really good film, though not the best. A lot of critics have chided it for having a thin plot, and I can see why. However, let’s not kid ourselves, you’re watching this flick for some great dance sequences, which you get plenty of here. I highly recommend this to any and everyone!

4 out of 5 stars

Junior

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on March 28, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Gynecologist Dr. Alex Hesse (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has a nightmare about urinating infants in a library. In the real world, he and his colleague Dr. Larry Arbogast (Danny DeVito) have invented a fertility drug, “Expectane”, that is supposed to reduce the chances of a woman’s body rejecting an embryo and thus prevent a miscarriage. Unfortunately, they are not allowed to test it on women since the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the drug; so Hesse and Arbogast move forward in their research. In response, Hesse breaks into the laboratory and locks himself in. The head of the review board, Noah Banes, informs Arbogast that while the FDA has denied their team the right of human experimentation, the team has managed to receive a donation by Dr. Diana Reddin (Emma Thompson) from the ovum cryogenics department. When Hesse questions the chances of a woman taking an unapproved drug during pregnancy, Arbogast reveals that there is no need to identify the gender of the experiment and convinces Hesse to impregnate himself, using an ovum codenamed “Junior”.

That night, Hesse has another nightmare in which his potential offspring has his own face pasted onto it. That day, he complains to Arbogast that his nipples are hurting him. Later, the normally aloof Hesse inexplicably lightens up and chats incessantly about walks, massages, and naps. Reddin tells Hesse that being a woman is not as great as it sounds, citing the menstrual cycles which do not stop until menopause, while Arbogast warns Hesse of a disease that is turning men into strudels. Meanwhile, Arbogast’s pregnant ex-wife wants him to be the doctor delivering her baby. Hesse begins to wonder what it would be like to be a father and watches some television commercials to have himself a good sobbing. He later begins overeating, with Arbogast’s ex-wife noting his practice of “mixing cuisines”. It is revealed that the “Junior” ovum is actually Reddin’s own body, making her the mother of Hesse’s child. Banes wants to take credit for the experiment despite having no role in it. Arbogast disguises Hesse as a woman and hides him in a retreat for expecting mothers outside the city, passing off his masculine appearance as past anabolic steroid use. Eventually, Hesse goes into labor (as does Arbogast’s ex-wife) and gives birth via caesarean section to a baby girl naming her Junior. Arbogast delivers his ex-wife’s child and the two reconcile to raise their new son as their own. Before the credits, it shows the two families on a beach on vacation celebrating the birthdays of Junior and Jake (Arbogast and his ex-wife’s son), we discover that Reddin is pregnant and when the credits are rolling, they are all playing in the sea.

REVIEW:

Following up on the success of Twins, some studio exec had the brilliant idea to reunite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito because they had such great chemistry. The idea is not a bad one, but one would think they could come up with a better film than this.

First off, this is not necessarily a bad plot, but the whole thing about a guy being pregnant just is not an interesting one. Of course, this is the second time I’ve seen this kind of thing today, the first being that episode of The Cosby Show where all the mean dream they drank something and got pregnant.

So, let get to what didn’t work…

Frank Langella, who is normally known as a creepy villain character actor, wasn’t really that intimidating, even though his character seemed to call for some kind of creepy, intimidation factor.

The pregnancy thing wasn’t really  that convincing. Schwarzenegger is a big guy, but that little pregnancy belly he was sporting seemed to be nothing more than a pillow they stuck under his shirt. I know these people could have done better than that!

The good…

Emma Thompson plays this clumsy, almost absent-minded scientist that comes in and eventually falls for Schwarzenegger’s character. Seeing the two of them together made no sense, and yet, at the same time they made a cute couple.

The chemistry Arnold and DeVito had in Twins resurfaces here, showing why they were chosen to star in this thing.

Pamela Reed was a bit of an ancillary character for a good chunk of the film, but when the time came for her to step up, just like she did in Kindergarten Cop, you’re sure to remember she’s in here.

The scientific mumbo jumbo seems to be well-researched. If it wasn’t, then they sure went through a lot of trouble to make it believable.

There really isn’t much to say about this film. It is one of those films that was made to capitalize on a surprise comedy duo. However, there are those that have called this the worst movie of all time. No, I don’t believe it is that bad. It actually isn’t bad, but rather just an average film. This is one of those films that you can either take or leave. Trust me, if you never see it, you can still have a clear conscious. On the other hand if you do decide to give it a shot, then its just another film that you can say you’ve seen.

3 out of 5 stars

 

Tower Heist

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Josh Kovacs is the building manager of The Tower, a high-rise luxury apartment complex on Central Park West in New York City whose employees include concierge Charlie, his brother in law; Enrique, a newly hired elevator operator; Lester, the doorman nearing retirement; Odessa, a maid; and Miss Iovenko, who furtively studies for her bar exam at work.

One morning Josh sees what appears to be a kidnapping of Tower tenant and wealthy businessman Arthur Shaw. Josh gives chase and almost catches him when he is clotheslined by FBI agent Claire Denham. Denham explains that Shaw wasn’t being kidnapped, he was attempting to flee arrest, accused of running a Ponzi scheme. Josh tells the Tower staff about Shaw’s arrest and explains that he gave Shaw their pension fund to invest, and their money is gone. Josh, Charlie and Enrique visit Shaw, under house arrest in his penthouse apartment. Josh tells Shaw that Lester attempted suicide after losing everything he had. Shaw expresses condolences but appears insincere. Josh responds by destroying the windows of a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso Shaw has on display in his apartment. The building’s General Manager is furious at Josh’s action and fires Josh, Charlie and Enrique.

Josh meets Denham at a bar and she invites him to get drunk. As they drink she says Shaw must have had a cash safety net and suggests in jest that he find and steal it. Josh gathers Charlie, Enrique, and former Tower tenant Mr. Fitzhugh to draw up a plan to steal Shaw’s money. Charlie brings up the obvious drawback that they are not thieves. Josh enlists his neighbor, a petty criminal named Slide, to help. Slide trains the team but realizes he cannot do the robbery because he doesn’t know how to crack the safe in Shaw’s apartment. They bring in Odessa, whose family ran a locksmith business. Charlie tells Josh he’s been rehired as the Tower’s new manager, and Charlie warns Josh to stay away or he will have him arrested. Denham then tells Josh that a hearing for Shaw has been scheduled for Thanksgiving during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to avoid publicity, and Shaw will go free. Josh and his team decide to break into Shaw’s apartment during the parade.

The team reaches Shaw’s apartment, breaks down a false wall and finds Shaw’s safe behind it; Odessa opens the safe but finds it empty. Slide and Fitzhugh struggle for Slide’s gun; the gun goes off and a bullet hits the car, revealing gold underneath the Ferrari’s paint. They realize Shaw invested his cash in gold, had the gold melted down and cast into car parts, and then assembled the car in his apartment where the gold would be hidden in plain sight. Josh finds a ledger of Shaw’s illegal finances in the car’s glove box. They lower the car out the window into Fitzhugh’s old apartment six floors below, and then take it down to the lobby on top of an elevator. Just as they reach the lobby Agent Denham and Shaw return and take the same elevator back up. Denham sees Shaw’s safe and informs him that he did not declare the safe on an inventory of items taken when he was arrested, which is a violation of the conditions of his bail. She has him remanded back into custody.

Denham sees Lester using a stolen truck to try to escape from the building. She catches up to him, assuming he is fleeing with the Ferrari, but finds the truck empty. The FBI arrests him and Josh’s other accomplices. She personally handcuffs Josh and privately congratulates him. As Josh is being questioned by the FBI, Miss Iovenko arrives, telling the FBI that she passed her bar exam three days ago and is acting as Josh’s attorney. She shows them Shaw’s ledger and tells them she will turn it over in exchange for everyone’s freedom. The FBI accepts on the condition that Josh, being the primary conspirator, must serve a minimal two-year sentence.

The team retrieves the car from its hiding place in Shaw’s rooftop pool and send various parts of the car to Tower employees to compensate for their lost pensions. As the movie ends Shaw begins his life sentence and Josh is booked into jail, a satisfied smile slowly forming on his face.

REVIEW:

Who says that ensemble films don’t work? It is well documented that most of them don’t work thanks to the giant egos of today’s stars and their lust for the spotlight rather than making a good film. However, Tower Heist seems to have found the right group of actors to pull of a decent flick.

As far as today’s comedies go, this actually is one of the better entries into the genre. Some people seem to have forgotten that Eddie Murphy was once a funny guy in person, and not just when he’s in animated form. Ben Stiller, while a bit annoying and over the top in most of his pictures, also is a funny guy. So, putting the two together with some great comedic and dare I say surprising comedic turns from the likes of Casey Affleck and Gabourey Sidibe and it is no wonder this flick works!

So, what is it that makes it work?

The plot. Yes, you can say that it is a bit predictable, what with the whole scheming boss person and servants wanting their money and all, but this is a new take on that old formula and it really works. While I’m usually one of the first to deride filmmakers for not coming up with something new, and I will continue to do so until they actually come up with an original though, but it is nice to occasionally get a new version of something, if it is done right.

The chemistry of this cast from top to bottom is great. Still and Murphy work surprisingly well together and there is also a nice little scene where we get to see Murphy and Sidibe do a little flirting.

Speaking of Murphy, it is good to see him being funny again. Granted, his character seems to be very similar to the bum/thief he played in Trading Places, but hey, it if works, don’t question it, right?

Matthew Broderick also stars here, but more importantly, the car, which is also a major star of the film is the same kind of car that was used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, with the only exception being that it is a hard top, as opposed to a convertible. I thought that was a nice nod.

Now, what doesn’t work?

Well, not much, but if I had to narrow it down to a couple of thing it would have to be Casey Affleck’s character and the new elevator guy that was hired. Affleck did nothing but whine and moan for most of the film, and then he went turncoat, only to turn back at the opportune moment.

At first I thought Broderick was on the annoying side, but he grew on me until I realized this is why I didn’t like him whenThe Producersstarted. I don’t know…the guy is a good enough geek, but when he plays the archetype, it just doesn’t work.

Tower Heist isn’t the best film, but it did make me laugh, which is what a comedy should do…at least last time I checked. With this great cast, a decent plot, and some nice New York backgrounds, as well as a little action and romance, this is one of those films that is sure to be enjoyed by all. I highly recommend this to everyone!

4 out of 5 stars

Night of the Demons

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The movie opens in 1925, with scenes of gore and demons. Evangeline Broussard prepares to hang herself from her balcony when she is stopped by a man trying to reassure her that he is truly Louis and that she shouldn’t hang herself. Evangeline calls him a liar, then jumps, hanging herself and also causing her head to rip off and bounce down the stairs. Louis stares over the balcony as his eyes switch to a demonic shade of orange.

Modern day, Maddi (Monica Keena) is preparing to go to a party held by Angela (Shannon Elizabeth). Along with her friends, Lily (Diora Baird) and Suzanne (Bobbi Sue Luther), Maddie arrives at the party. She realizes her ex-boyfriend, Colin (Edward Furlong) is there, dealing drugs as he has been threatened by his drug lord to sell enough drugs at Angela’s party to pay double what he normally gets or die. Also there is Lily’s ex-boyfriend Dex (Michael Copon) and his friend Jason (John F. Beach). As the party progresses, Angela prompts everyone to go wild, as she must make money off the party or she will have to live on the streets. Lily and Dex eventually reunite in an upstairs bedroom, while Suzanne becomes incredibly drunk. While Maddie is hanging out with Jason, she goes to the toilet only to have a hand grab her through the mirror. As she attempts to show Suzanne, they pass it off as an elaborate trick placed by Angela.

Soon after, the police break up the party, stating Angela neglected to get a party permit and that it doesn’t qualify as a private party since she was charging admission. Panicked, Colin stuffs his drugs into a grate to hide it from the police, before leaving. Maddie, Lily, Dex and Jason leave with the rest of the partiers, leaving an upset Angela alone in the house. After a while, the group return, unable to find Suzanne, who reveals herself to have passed out. Colin also returns for his drugs and, with Angela, goes into the basement to find them. When the pair instead find a hidden door, Angela remarks that the house is full of hidden rooms, including a tunnel that leads to the next estate over. They enter the room and find six skeletons. Joined by the rest of the group, Angela assumes that the skeletons are the remains of the missing party guests of Evangeline Broussard.

Angela discovers a gold tooth in one of the skeletons, but when she tries to take it the skeleton bites her hand. As they all head upstairs, Angela starts to feel woozy, and Colin attempts to leave the house, only to discover that the gate is locked and can’t be opened even with the keys to the house. While everyone plans to wait the night out, Suzanne details how Evangeline supposedly practiced black magic in the hopes that she would attract the attentions of Louis, only to have that magic go wrong during a séance. The only person found alive was the maid, who was found in her room scribbling spells on her walls, having been driven insane by the previous night’s events.

Angela slowly succumbs to the skeleton bite, and enters a bathroom where she turns into a demon. She returns to the group, who partake in a game of spin the bottle. Eventually, Angela infects Dex by kissing him. Lily angrily leads Dex into a nearby room, where the pair soon have sex. Dex turns into a demon, savaging Lily anally in the process with his demonic, tentacled penis and turning her into a demon. The moment as Dex begins to turn from suburban teenage sex idol to debacherous, raping hell spawn, he pulls out of her vagina and begins to press his demon penis against Lily’s sphincter. Not knowing that Dex has turned into a literal lustfilled monster, she tells Dex that he is going to have to use more lube. Just at that instant, Dex spears Lily which causes her to cry out in angish. Meanwhile, Angela attempts to seduce the others. Maddie and Colin leave to find another exit, closely followed by Jason who flees when Angela attempts to seduce him. Outside, the trio hear Lily’s screams as she is anally violated by a pulsating, tenticled demon penis but chalk up the braying shrieks to the noise from a stereo. They are unable to find another exit and begin to head back to the house. Angela succeeds in luring Suzanne into a surrounding room where she proceeds to dance with her, eventually showing herself as a demon, before ripping off Suzanne’s breasts and face, turning her into a demon.

Upon returning to the mansion, Jason goes to the bathroom where he comes upon Lily acting strangely, only to then witness her pressing her lipstick into her breast then voiding it out through her vagina accompanied by prolific amounts of blood. He warns the others who do not believe him until a demonic Suzanne attacks them. Jason stabs her, yet there is little effect. Escaping, they run into the demonic Angela who stops them from leaving the house. They decide to leave through the house’s escape tunnel. On their way, they arm themselves with a gun and a rusty metal bar. While in the tunnel, they discover the tunnel has caved in, before being attacked by Lily and Dex. They manage to fend off the demons, however Jason succumbs to a severe injury on his leg. The survivors run into an upstairs room and tend to Jason’s injury. They realize that not only are they in the maid’s room but that the symbols remained on the walls under a layer of plaster. They also discover that the demons are attempting to take over seven human hosts to be freed upon the earth, having been thrown out of hell for trying to usurp Satan’s rule. They also discover that the demons tricked Evangeline into hosting the party so they could take over the guests and that the demons can’t take over a dead body, which is why Evangeline hung herself. They also find out that the demons don’t like rust, finding that they can use it as a weapon.

As the boys fall asleep, Angela taunts Maddie, however she is unable to enter the room due to the spells. Suddenly the walls begin pouring with blood, washing off the spells. The trio attempt to re-draw them onto the walls as the demons hands puncture through the walls. They manage to defeat the demons by re-drawing the spells, however are lured out of the rooom by the demons who fake daylight in the windows. They realize it is not daylight, before the demons attack them. Maddie and Colin rush back to the room, however Jason is caught and disemboweled by Angela, turning him into a demon.

As Maddie grieves her friends, Colin is attacked by Dex in the attached bathroom, allowing the pair to realize the bathroom is not protected by the spell. As they plan to wait in the room until sunrise, Colin falls through the rotten floorboards, falling many floors into the basement. Maddie climbs down a rope into the basement to help Colin, who has broken his leg. As she helps, she is attacked by a now demonized Colin.

Maddie manages to get back to the maid’s room and arms herself with the gun found earlier, loading it with rusty items. She manages to fight back the demons, however runs out of ammo. She barricades herself inside a room and makes her way to the second story balcony, where she ties a rope around her neck and jumps over, seemingly hanging herself. As the sun rises, the demons are eliminated. Maddie reveals that she has only pretended to hang herself, having tied the rope around her waist, and that the demons merely assumed that she was dead. With the demons gone, Maddie is then able to exit through the gates to her freedom.

REVIEW:

Another day, another remake. *SIGH* Will Hollywood ever come up with original ideas again? Seriously, this crap is getting old, especially when they don’t even try to make a quality product, as apparent by this version of Night of the Demons. There is a reason this went straight to DVD, but I still gave it a shot, but was it worth it?

Well, it had moments here and there that were worth it. I can’t really comment on the story, because, if I’m not mistaken, it is the same as original, just with a few details “modernized” here and there. I could be wrong, though.

First off, this cast, with the exception of Edward Furlong (who has really let himself go), was cast for their looks, rather than their talent. That being said, Shannon Elizabeth and Monica Keena may actually have had to audition for their roles since those were parts that required at least some acting talent.

As a red-blooded male, I couldn’t help but be enthralled with Suzanne’s (played by Bobbi Sue Luther) pushed up, corseted breasts. Those huge melons were hard to avoid seeing, and may very well have saved the film.

The guys were your typical frat boy-types who were drunk and wanted to be all macho about things. Then there is slimy Edward Furlong who is in some kind of debt to a drug lord. Don’t ask why, they touch on it to introduce his character, but never get back around to it, which leaves quite a bit plothole.

The special effects are actually not bad, especially considering how this was obviously shot with a somewhat limited budget. Sure, in demon form, these freaks don’t look like anything more than some people wandering around New Orleans in make up and masks, but for some reason, that is the charm, if you can call it that, of this picture.

Using New Orleans as a setting for this film, as well as the silent film introduction was a nice touch, and shows that this filmmaker does actually have a brain, even if it is a small one incapable of coming up with their own thought.

So, what is the final verdict on Night of the Demons? Well, it is a fair film. This is the kind of flick you watch at a party with a bunch of people and make fun of how cheesy and stupid it is. Watching it sober like it is a regular film just doesn’t work. I don’t recommend it, but it isn’t totally horrible. No, you shouldn’t check it out, but be aware that it exists.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars