Archive for June, 2012

The Addams Family

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Gomez Addams (Raúl Juliá) laments the 25-year absence of his brother Fester, who disappeared after the two had a falling-out. Gomez’s lawyer Tully Alford (Dan Hedaya) owes money to loan shark Abigail Craven (Elizabeth Wilson), and notices that her son Gordon (Christopher Lloyd) closely resembles Fester. Tully proposes that Gordon pose as Fester to infiltrate the Addams household and find the hidden vault where they keep their vast riches. Tully and his wife Margaret (Dana Ivey) attend a séance at the Addams home led by Grandmama (Judith Malina) in which the family tries to contact Fester’s spirit. Gordon arrives, posing as Fester, while Abigail poses as psychiatrist Dr. Pinder-Schloss and tells the family that Fester had been lost in the Bermuda Triangle for the past 25 years.

Gomez, overjoyed to have Fester back, takes him to the family vault to view home movies from their childhood. Gordon learns the reason for the brothers’ falling-out: Gomez was jealous of Fester’s success with women, and wooed the conjoined twins Flora and Fauna Amore away from him out of envy. Gomez starts to suspect that “Fester” is an impostor when he is unable to recall important details about their past. Gordon attempts to return to the vault, but is unable to get past a booby trap. Gomez’s wife Morticia (Anjelica Huston) reminds “Fester” of the importance of family amongst the Addamses and of their vengeance against those who cross them. Fearing that the family is getting wise to their con, Abigail (under the guise of Dr. Pinder-Schloss) convinces Gomez that his suspicions are due to displacement.

Gordon grows closer to the Addams family, particularly the children Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman), whom he helps to prepare a swordplay sequence for a school play. The Addamses throw a large party with their extended family and friends to celebrate Fester’s return, during which Abigail plans to break into the vault. Wednesday overhears Abigail and Gordon discussing their scheme, and escapes them by hiding in the family cemetery. Tully learns that Fester, as the eldest brother, is the executor of the Addams estate and therefore technically owns the entire property. With the help of the Addamses’ neighbor Judge George Womack (Paul Benedict), who Gomez has repeatedly angered by hitting golf balls at his house, Tully procures a restraining order against the family banning them from the estate. Gomez attempts to fight the order in court, but Judge Womack rules against him out of spite.

While Abigail, Gordon, and Tully try repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get past the booby trap blocking access to the vault, the Addams family is forced to move into a motel and find jobs. Morticia tries at being a preschool teacher, Wednesday and Pugsley sell toxic lemonade, and Thing—the family’s animate disembodied hand—becomes a courier. Gomez, despondent, sinks into depression and lethargy.

Morticia returns to the Addams home to confront Fester and is captured by Abigail and Tully, who torture her in an attempt to learn how to access the vault. Thing observes this and informs Gomez, who gathers the family and rushes to Morticia’s rescue. Abigail threatens Morticia’s life if Gomez does not surrender the family fortune. Fed up with his mother’s behavior and constant berating, Gordon turns against Abigail. Using a magical book which projects its contents into reality, he unleashes a hurricane in the house, which strikes his own head with lightning and launches Tully and Abigail out a window and into open graves dug for them by Wednesday and Pugsley.

Gordon turns out to actually have been Fester all along, having suffered amnesia after being lost in the Bermuda Triangle and turning up in Miami, where Abigail had taken him in. The lightning strike has restored his memory and he is enthusiastically welcomed back into the Addams household. With the family whole again, Morticia informs Gomez that she is pregnant.

REVIEW:

When this movie first came out, all I know about the Addams were that they were some creepy family that occasionally popped up in old Scooby Doo cartoons. After this was released, though, I remember that there was a new cartoon and the original show started airing again. However, it wasn’t until recently that I finished every episode. Does The Addams Family stack up to the original?

What did I like?

Faithfulness. If you’ve ever seen the original series, then you will notice that these characters, for the most part, stay faithful to their classic TV roots. This isn’t to say that there aren’t exceptions, for instance, it seems as if Wednesday and Pugsley’s mannerisms have been switched a bit, with a bit more cruelty added to her, and then of course Fester is different, but that is part of the plot. There is even a scene with Gomez’s trains. The only thing missing was the stock footage of Kitty Kat.

Wednesday. Speaking of Wednesday, this is the film that brought us Christina Ricci, and for that I am ever so grateful.

Casting. I have to say that they got the perfect casting for the most part. Raul Julia as Gomez is every bit as flamboyant, albeit more subdued than John Astin. Anjelica Huston captures everything we know and love about Morticia (except for those killer curves!!!) Fester, for all the changes they’ve made, seems to be the same old Fester, though it is kind of hard to tell since he isn’t the same guy as the series.

Story. I liked the story for the most, though, I think it would have been much better without the focus being on Fester so much.

What didn’t I like?

Change is not always for the best. They changed the relationship with Fester and Gomez to make them brothers, whereas in the original TV series he is Morticia’s uncle. I am not sure which is the true relationship.

Lurch Itt. Two of the major characters in every incarnation this family has been in have been Lurch and Cousin Itt. This one, though, relegates Lurch to a couple of scenes, none of which allow him to say his famous line, “You rang?” As for Cousin Itt, he pops up for a couple of scenes, which isn’t bad, since he isn’t in every episode, but a little more of Itt would have been nice.

Bermuda triangle induced amnesia. So, Fester apparently gets lost in the Bermuda Triangle and gets amnesia. That sounds a bit soap opera-ish, but I can live with it. My issue is how they rushed the explanation at the film’s end. It reminded me a bit of how they used to wrap up thing in the final scenes of The A-Team back when it was on the air. It just seemed tacked on to tie up some loose ends, but you really could have lived without it.

The Addams Family is a good flick that will please everyone, including those of us that prefer things to stay close to the source material. As a matter of fact, the show didn’t even stick this close to the source material. While I would have liked for it to have been more slapstick comedic, it works for what it is. Man, here’s a thought…imagine if Tim Burton would have directed this. Wow! Anyway, I highly recommend this to everyone!

4 out of 5 stars

 

Slackers

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

PLOT:

Dave Goodwin (Devon Sawa), Sam Schecter (Jason Segel), and Jeff Davis (Michael Maronna) are best friends who spent almost four years at Holden University scamming their way through college, and for the most part, get away with it. Just as they are about to graduate, their schemes are foiled by Ethan Dulles (Jason Schwartzman), the campus geek, after witnessing Dave cheating on an exam. Ethan threatens to expose the trio unless they try to hook him up with his dream girl, the beautiful Angela Patton (Jaime King).

REVIEW:

I’ve been called a slacker before, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been the kind of slacker like the guys in this film, Slackers. I have seen some worthless layabouts in my day, some have even been my roommates and friends, but these guys take the cake! Were the exploits of these guy enough to warrant watching this film?

What did I like?

Scheme. The blackmail scheme that was cooked up by Jason Schwartzman was actually pretty cool, especially since all he wanted was a date with the girl of his dreams.

Dorms. Holy hand grenade! If my dorm room would have looked like that, I never would have left…until I flunked out of school, that is. Still, this room that these guys are in is about the size of 3 of the rooms I’ve been in and then there is all the stuff they have in there. Wow…just wow!!!

Before he was big. In an early appearance, we get to see a young (and thinner) Jason Segel. He’s still as funny, but I can’t help but wonder where the rest of the crew from How I Met Your Mother were.

What didn’t I like?

Cameos. There are 3 notable cameos, Gina Gershon, Cameron Diaz, and Mamie van Doren. Now, Gershon and especially Diaz had great scenes, but Mamie van Doren (who actually had the longest scene of the 3) just seemed to be relegated to some trashiness. I felt bad seeing her reduced to this kind of drivel.

Story. This is one plot that you cannot get into. It is bad, there really isn’t much else to say about it.

Creepy. I have to give Jason Schwartzman credit, he plays a good, creepy little bastard, but when you throw in the tantrums he was throwing and then that little hair doll he had, it is enough to creep you out.

Slackers is not something you should even think about seeing, unless you’re just in the mood for some early 2000 nostalgia, and even then, there are plenty of other films that you can choose from that are far superior to this. I found this film severely lacking in almost every category and, as such, I think you would be best served avoiding this thing like the plague!

1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Dodge City

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , on June 27, 2012 by Mystery Man

dodgecity

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The action of the film starts with Colonel Dodge (Henry O’Neill) arriving on the first train and subsequently opening the new railroad line that links Dodge City with the rest of the world. A few years later, Dodge City has turned into the “longhorn cattle center of the world and wide-open Babylon of the American frontier, packed with settlers, thieves and gunmen — the town that knew no ethics but cash and killing”. In particular, it is Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot) and his gang who kill, steal, cheat and, generally, control life in Dodge City without ever being brought to justice. As Surrett has installed one of his puppets as sheriff, the other citizens’ hands are tied when it comes to arresting any of the evildoers.

Dodge’s friend Wade Hatton (Errol Flynn), a lone cowboy who was instrumental in bringing the railroad to Dodge City, is now on his way to the town leading a trek of settlers from the East coast. At Hatton’s side is his old companion Rusty (Alan Hale), who is prepared to stay with him through thick and thin. Among the settlers are beautiful Abbie Irving (Olivia de Havilland) and her irresponsible brother Lee (William Lundigan), who, drunk, causes a stampede (which eventually kills him) and is shot by Hatton in self-defense. When the group arrive in Dodge City, Hatton is confronted with the full extent of the anarchy which is dictating everyday life there. Asked by anxious citizens — Abbie’s uncle, Dr. Irving (Henry Travers) among them — to be the new sheriff, Hatton politely declines, saying he is not cut out for this kind of job.

Hatton changes his mind when, during a school outing, a young boy, Harry Cole is inadvertently killed by Surrett and his men. The new sheriff and his deputy — Rusty of course — have a hard time not just fighting the criminals but also convincing all the farmers who have been wronged by Surrett that mob rule (“Come on, boys, let’s take ’em out to the plaza”) is out of the question: When Yancey (Victor Jory), one of Surrett’s thugs, is in jail, Hatton has to protect him against the furious men outside who, not caring for Yancey’s right to a fair trial, want to take the law into their own hands and lynch him right then and there.

In the end, Hatton succeeds in both overwhelming and catching the baddies and winning Abbie’s heart. Everything has been prepared for a quiet family life in newly civilized Dodge City, but Hatton is asked by Colonel Dodge to clean up Virginia City, Nevada, another railroad town more dangerous than Dodge City had ever been. Understanding how much Wade is needed to settle the West, a loving Abbie heartily suggests she and her new husband join the next wagon train for their new life together.

REVIEW:

The king of swashbuckling films takes a stab at being a rugged, western hero in Dodge City. Having never been to the place or knowing very little about it, this little history lesson, of sorts, was a nice bonus, but was the entire film worth watching?

What did I like?

The story. I know, I know. It seems as if in every review I’m talking about the story/plot, but a good story makes for a good film. The plight of the cowboy who just wants to do the right thing is the stuff all good westerns are made of.

Trains. I seem to have trains on the brain, or maybe it is just because of the epic scene from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but I really liked seeing the train scene. I think the next western I’ll watch will have something to do with train robbers.

I am the law. He may not have been the most willing sheriff, but Hatton sure did do a great job cleaning up the town. We need more lawmen like this nowadays, if you ask me.

What didn’t work?

Errol Flynn. He is a great actor, maybe a bit of a ham, though, but I just couldn’t take him seriously as a cowboy. He has too nice of a face and that mustache just throws a monkey wrench into any hopes he has of being pictured as anything other than a pirate or Robin Hood.

Double vision. I felt like this was two different pictures. I say this because the first half had the feel of the kind of western that includes cattle rustling and such, whereas the second half was more of the vengeance, protect the town kind of flick.

Chemistry or lazy casting. Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland have great chemistry, but it seems like every film of his I see she is the leading lady. I swear, you’d think the two of them were married. Could they have not cast a different leading lady? No, I’m not saying she was bad in this role, just that it is more of the same.

Dodge City is a fairly good film. I f I’m not mistaken, this is the picture that ushered in the era of westerns. If that was the case, then this is a good way to start and move on to bigger and better films of this genre. I don’t highly recommend it, but this is a good watch, so give it a shot sometime.

3 out of 5 stars

The Vampire Lovers

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on June 27, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!)

In early 19th century Styria, a beautiful blonde (Kirsten Lindholm) in a diaphanous gown materialises from a misty graveyard. Encountering the Baron Hartog (Douglas Wilmer), a vampire hunter out to avenge the death of his sister, the girl is revealed as a vampire when her breast is seared by his crucifix. Baring her fangs to attack the Baron, she is swiftly decapitated.

Many years later, a sultry dark-haired lady leaves her daughter Marcilla (Ingrid Pitt) in the care of General von Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing) and his family at their Styrian mansion. Marcilla quickly befriends the General’s daughter, Laura (Pippa Steel). Laura suffers nightmares that she is being attacked, and her health deteriorates until she dies. Marcilla vanishes from the General’s home.

Faking a carriage break-down, Marcilla’s mother leaves her (now using the alias Carmilla) at the residence of a Mr Morton. Here, Carmilla befriends and seduces Morton’s daughter Emma (Madeline Smith) but her need to feed overcomes her emotional attachment and Emma too begins to fade. Emma has nightmares of being pierced over the heart, and her breast shows tiny wounds. Emma’s governess, Mme. Perrodot (Kate O’Mara) also falls victim to Carmilla’s erotic blandishments and becomes her willing tool. Some in the household, the butler and a doctor, suspect what might be happening, especially in the wake of several local girls’ suddenly dying. But Carmilla kills each one. All the while, a mysterious man in black (clearly also a vampire) watches events from a distance, smiling (his presence is never explained).

After Carmilla kills the butler, having convinced him that Mme. Perrodot is a vampire then persuaded him (with her womanly charms) to remove the garlic protecting Emma, Carmilla goes to Emma’s bedroom. She says she must go away, but is taking Emma with her. A desperate and sick Madame begs Carmilla to take her with her. Carmilla kills her, in front of a horrified Emma. Emma is barely rescued by a young man named Carl (Jon Finch) who fashions a makeshift cross from his dagger. Carmilla flees to her nearby ancestral castle, now a ruin.

All this coincides with the arrival of the General, who brings with him a now-aged Baron Hartog. They find Carmilla’s grave, where she sleeps. Her eyes open, and interestingly enough she makes no move to defend herself. The General lifts a stake—and back in her bedchamber Emma screams “No!”—then drives it into Carmilla’s heart. He then cuts off her head. Carmilla’s portrait on the wall decays, showing now a fanged skeleton instead of a beautiful young woman.

REVIEW:

Pay no attention to the movie poster, The Vampire Lovers is not some kind of nymphomaniac vampire flick. Instead it is a tale of the vampire queen Carmilla, though I’m not exactly sure if this is how it is originally told.

What did I like?

Mystery. You might not remember this, since almost every vampire film nowadays all but forgets vampire lore, but vampires are really mysterious creatures. This film allows Carmilla to drift about as an enigma, which is what vampires are.

Beauty. Ingrid Pitt is one beautiful woman. Since this is how Carmilla is described, they did a good job of choosing the right actress to play her. She reminds me alot of Monica Bellucci, or maybe that should be the other way around ,since this was made in 1970.

Shadowy figure. All throughout the film, there is this creepy figure on a horse hanging around in the shadows. His purpose is never made clear, but I believe he is Dracula and is watching over the events waiting for the right moment (there are 2 sequels to the film).

What didn’t I like?

Is she or isn’t she? There are quite a few lesbionic tones to the film. Like most straight men, I’m all for seeing sexy lesbians on the screen, but I’m also of the believe that if you’re gonna lez out, then do it and stop teasing!!!

Random hero. Out of nowhere, as the film is coming to the conclusion, we see this guy riding towards the castle, and with a purpose. For those of you that want the girl to be saved, then this is more than likely up your alley. However, for me, I would have liked things to have gone another way. Why is there always some random guy who shows up and saves the day, not that it needed saving. Carmilla wasn’t exactly trying to take over the world or anything.

Gray. The ending scene is very reminiscent of Dorian Gray (book or movie). While I liked it there, for this it just seemed to be nothing more than some sort of unnecessary visual to end things, especially since we only see this painting one other time!

The Vampire Lovers isn’t a bad film, per se, but it isn’t anything write home about, either. As far as lesbian vampire flicks go, you’d do better checking out Vampyres. This just comes off as an average vampire flick, but at least we get a real vampire, and not some glittery abomination!

3 out of 5 stars

Red Tails

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1944, after enduring racism throughout their recruitment and training in the Tuskegee training program, the 332d Fighter Group of young African American USAAF fighter pilots are finally sent into combat in Italy, although flying worn-out Curtiss P-40 Warhawk aircraft. Chafing at their ground attack missions against trains and enemy ground transport, the Tuskegee Airmen recognize that they may never fight the Luftwaffe in fighter-to-fighter combat. The tight-knit group of Joe “Lightning” Little (David Oyelowo), Martin “Easy” Julian (Nate Parker), Ray “Ray Gun” or “Junior” Gannon (Tristan Wilds), and Samuel “Joker” George (Elijah Kelley) under the guidance of Major Emanuel Stance (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and Col. A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard), face a white military bureaucracy still resistant to accepting black flyers as equals.

Strife develops between roommates and best friends, Easy and Lightning, each of whom are battling their own inner demons; Lightning is a hotheaded and reckless pilot who takes too many risks, while Easy is an alcoholic prone to self doubt. After returning to base from a mission, Lightning spies a pretty Italian girl named Sofia (Daniela Ruah), becomes instantly infatuated with her, and starts a relationship.

Meanwhile, Stance is able to secure a chance to “light up the board” when the Tuskegee Airmen are chosen to support the Allied landings at Anzio, Italy known as Operation Shingle. There, they battle Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters led by a German ace pilot they nickname, “Pretty Boy” (Lars van Riesen), scoring their first aerial victories over the enemy, as well as destroying a German airfield. However, Ray Gun is injured during the battle and suffers impaired vision in one of his eyes. Ray Gun begs Easy to keep him on the flight roster who ultimately relents and allows him to keep flying.

Bullard is then approached by the USAAF Bomber Command, who are impressed with the Tuskegee Airmen’s performance and ask him to use his fighters as Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber escorts due to unacceptably high casualties among bomber crews. Bullard accepts on the condition that his unit be supplied with the new North American P-51 Mustang. The tails of the aircraft are painted bright red and become the unofficial name of the outfit. Bullard noted that the flaw of previous escort fighters is that they would recklessly pursue German fighters at the cost of protecting the bombers, so he orders his pilots to stay with the bombers at all costs. Their first escort mission is a success, with the 332nd downing multiple Luftwaffe aircraft without the loss of a single bomber. However, Ray Gun is shot down and captured while Deke crash lands and nearly dies.

As a result of his injuries, Deke is discharged, and Ray Gun is assumed to be dead. Easy realizes it was his fault Ray Gun was allowed to fly, blames himself and spirals deeper into alcoholism. Lightning, worried about his friend, makes a deal with Easy; he will follow orders and fly less recklessly as long as Easy remains sober. Meanwhile, attitudes against the Tuskegee Airmen begin to change as they earn the bomber crews’ respect, even being allowed into the “whites only” officer’s club. Ray Gun is sent to a POW camp, where he is recruited by a group of POWs who are planning to escape. The escape attempt is successful, but some of the POWs are spotted by a guard so Ray Gun draws the Germans’ attention while the other POWs escape. One of the POWs manages to reach the 332nd’s base and informs them about Ray Gun’s sacrifice, assuming him to be dead. Later, Lightning finally proposes to Sofia and she accepts.

The Tuskegee Airmen are then tasked with escorting the first American bombers to attack Berlin. However, despite their P-51s having more than enough fuel for the trip, the 332nd is only asked to escort the bombers on the first leg of their journey due to propaganda reasons. But the fighter squadron meant to relieve the 332nd never arrives, and Easy makes the decision to stay with bombers all the way. They are then attacked by Pretty Boy, now leading a flight of revolutionary Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighters. Despite being outclassed by the jet fighters’ superior speed and 30 mm cannon, the Tuskegee Airmen are able to shoot down some of the Me 262s. Pretty Boy manages to get on Easy’s tail and is about to shoot him down, but at the last moment, Lightning attacks and kills Pretty Boy in a head-on attack. Victorious, but mortally wounded, he eventually crashes. Easy is then forced to inform Sofia about Lightning’s death and consequently overcomes his alcoholism for good. At Lightning’s funeral, Ray Gun miraculously returns, having survived his escape from German captivity.

Ultimately, the Tuskegee Airmen are awarded the Presidential Unit Citation in honor of their achievements.

REVIEW:

Growing up as an Air Force brat, one can’t help but become enamored with airplanes…or become more and more bitter with the sound of them everytime you go near the base. Even though I have a fear of heights and flying, I still was one of those that loved planes. Add to that my love for WWII, and Red Tails should be right up my alley, right?

What did I like?

It was made. There have been film about the Tuskegee Airmen made before, but most have been documentaries or those ultra-serious dramas. It was good to get an action flick on these fine pilots, and that it was made by a prominent filmmaker, George Lucas. The fact that he went out of his way and stuck his neck out to make a film about African-American pilots earns some respect he’s lost with his constant tinkering of the holy trilogy back.

No Spike. Thank goodness this was not made by Spike Lee! Had he directed this, I’m sure this would have been another “hate whitey’ film. Instead, this director mostly downplayed and ignored the racism that existed. Sure, he touched on it here and there. It would be pointless to make this film without doing so, but that stuff is not the focal point of this film, the flying is what matters. If you want that racial stuff, go watch one of those documentaries.

Flying high. The flying scenes are what most people are watching this for, and boy, are they worth it! If there is one thing George Lucas knows how to do, it is film some great aeronautical aerobatics, as we’ve seen in the holy trilogy, most notably Star Wars (which it has been said he used as a basis for these scenes). Again, I’m a little biased as I love seeing these type of planes in dogfights, one of the reasons I loved Pearl Harbor as well. The only thing missing was a plane painted with a shark face.

Now that we’ve found love. Along with all the action, there is a little  love story. It really hits its peak at the film’s end. On top of that, we get a real sense of camaraderie between the pilots when one of them nearly dies and another crashes and is captured.

They are out there. Last week, I read an article about an upcoming superhero movie about Black Panther. The problem was that they had no idea who would play him. The usual suspects are too old. Well, here are a bunch of nominees, one of them even has that build and natural British/African accent.

What didn’t I like?

Bad banter. *SIGH* I have never heard so many clichéd, stereotypical lines in my life. The most obvious place was in the final flying scene. These lines were so bad, there were almost offensive.

Terrence and Cuba. Terrence Howard is one of my favorite actors. I’m still fuming over how they replaces him with the far inferior Don Cheadle for Iron Man 2. He does a decent job here, but he seems to be trying too hard and it comes off as nearly robotic. Cuba Gooding, Jr., on the other hand could really use his performance here to get back onto the A list, or at least he could if there were more there. As it is, he has a few good scenes, but nothing to write home about. Come to think about it, isn’t it weird that some of the more prominent African-American actors such as Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson, aren’t in this?

Feeling. I was trying to feel something for these characters, but it just wasn’t happening. As a matter of fact, with the exception of the rebellious pilot (you know there has to be one), they don’t really give you anything to go on for most of these guys, except that one of them has a bit of a drinking problem. This is something that they could have done a better job with, in my opinion. I’m not saying we need to know the backstory of each and every pilot, but something, anything, more would have nice.

Unequal. For all the praise that can be heaved onto the flying scenes, the same cannot be said for this story. I realize that Lucas wasn’t really trying to focus on something dramatic, which is fine with me, but there could have been something for the audience to sink our teeth into. As it is, we get these teases of a story here and there, but nothing is really flashed out.

Red Tails is a fun war flick. Chances are that after you watch this, you’ll go look up the Tuskegee Airmen, or maybe even watch one of those other films about them, which is one of the major reasons this was made, to bring awareness to these forgotten pilots. I loved this film, but it does have a few flaws that just cannot be overlooked. Still, I highly recommend you check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Love’s Kitchen

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Consumed by grief in the wake of his wife’s tragic death, London chef Rob Haley (Dougray Scott) leaves the big city behind to open a modest country restaurant, and finds love where he least expects it. After Rob’s wife died, he lost his passion for cooking. His confidence subsequently destroyed by a scathing restaurant review, Rob receives a much welcomed visit from his old friend and colleague Gordon Ramsay (playing himself), and summons the courage to pick up the pieces of his shattered life. With his daughter and loyal staff by his side, the once-proud chef sets his sights on a small village, and begins transforming a typical pub into a food-lover’s paradise. Rob never expected the move would lead to romance, but after meeting American food critic Kate (Claire Forlani), his life quickly starts to look up again. Later, when Kate’s troubled past threatens to sink his happy future, Rob learns that sometimes the last people you expected to stand by your side have a way of becoming the ones you cherish most in life.

REVIEW:

I’m sure you haven’t heard of Love’s Kitchen. I know I hadn’t, but Netflix recommended it after I watched Police Academy: Mission to Moscow. This film was not well received by the British media. Some even went so far as to call it “the worst film ever made”. I won’t go that far, but it is pretty underwhelming, to say the least.

What did I like?

Food, glorious food. I may not be able to cook anything that isn’t microwavable, but I love cooking shows and the like (Rachael Ray, Cat Cora, and Anne Burrell are among my chef crushes). Since the film is about a chef, it is only fitting that food be one of the focal points. The also chose to not get too in depth with the culinary terms, which most of the general public isn’t exactly familiar with.

Single father. While I wished the father could have had a better relationship with his daughter, at least on screen, it was a treat to see Claire Forlani’s character warm up and have a meaningful relationship with her.

Love story. Strip away all the other mess that is going on in this film, such as the obsessive ex-boyfriend, or whatever it was that creepy guy was, and there is a fairly nice love story here.

What I didn’t like.

False advertising. For the few ads and trailers I could find on this flick, the selling point seemed to be Gordon Ramsay. I hate to disappoint you Chef Ramsay fans, but he’s only in here for a few moments in the beginning and a cheesy break the third wall moment at the very end. I realize he’s a big name celebrity, but isn’t the actual star of this film, Dougray Scott, fairly big across the pond? At least he should be big enough to carry a film on his name alone.

Development. The wife dies in the beginning of the film, and the rest of the picture is basically spent mourning her, or using her as a crutch to not move forward. However, she is never really given any development. It is almost as if she isn’t a character. I bet this film would have been much better if they would have taken a few extra minutes to at least give the audience a montage background on her. A good example of killing a character, in a car wreck, no doubt, early on is Save the Last Dance. Maybe these filmmakers should check it out!

Lack of interest. There seemed to be a sever lack of interest on the looks of all these actors. No one seemed to want to be in this film, and that really affected the final product. Of course, with Claire Forlani, you can never really tell.

Final verdict on this flick, you’d be best served to stay out of Love’s Kitchen. There is just something about the sum of all its parts that doesn’t quite add up. I won’t go so far as to say it is the worst film ever made, like the British critics did, but you would do best to avoid this film. I honestly cannot, in good conscience, recommend it.

2 out of 5 stars

 

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1818, Abraham Lincoln lives in Indiana with his parents, Nancy (Robin McLeavy) and Thomas (Joseph Mawle), who works at a plantation owned by Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). There, Lincoln befriends a young African American boy, William Johnson, and intervenes when he sees Johnson being beaten by a slaver. Because of Lincoln’s actions, Thomas is fired by Barts, who demands that Thomas pay his debts to him. When Thomas refuses, Barts warns him that there are more than one way to collect a debt. That night, Lincoln sees Barts breaking into his house and attacking Nancy. Thomas finds her ill the following day, and she dies shortly afterwards. He blames Barts, and tells Lincoln that he poisoned Nancy.

Nine years later, after Thomas’ death, Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) decides to get revenge against Barts. He attacks Barts at the docks, but Barts overpowers him, revealing himself to be a vampire. However, before Barts can kill him, Lincoln is rescued by a man called Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), who takes Lincoln to his mansion. There, Sturgess reveals that vampires exist, and offers to teach Lincoln how to become a vampire hunter. Lincoln accepts, and, after 10 years of training, travels to Springfield, Illinois, in 1837, where he begins to slay vampires. During his training, Lincoln is told by Sturgess that the vampires that live in America descend from Adam (Rufus Sewell), a powerful vampire who owns a plantation in New Orleans with his sister, Vadoma (Erin Wasson). Lincoln also learns that vampires often feed off of the slaves. He informs Lincoln of the vampires’ weakness to silver, and presents Lincoln with a silver pocket watch.

In Springfield, Lincoln befriends shopkeeper Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson), and falls in love with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is also being courted by the politicial Stephen A. Douglas (Alan Tudyk). Barts is one of the vampires living in Springfield, and, upon learning of Lincoln’s presence, he begins to target Mary.

One day, Lincoln receives a visit from Johnson (Anthony Mackie), who now helps freed slaves to escape through the Underground Railroad. Johnson asks for Lincoln’s help to evade bounty hunters who were hired to eliminate him. Lincoln and Johnson defeat the bounty hunters, and Lincoln later tells Mary what happened. She encourages him to fight for his ideals, and Lincoln begins to speak against slavery. Sturgess visits him, and says that he needs to focus on his mission. Sturgess then provides Lincoln with Barts’ location.

Lincoln confronts Barts at a farm, where Barts is mortally wounded. Before dying, Barts reveals that Sturgess is a vampire as well. Lincoln confronts Sturgess, who reveals that, several years before, him and his lover were attacked by Adam, who bit them both. Because Sturgess’ soul wasn’t pure, he became a vampire, and that prevented him from harming his “creator” or any other vampire since as Adam stated, “Only the living can kill the dead”. Since then, Sturgess has been training vampire hunters in an effort to destroy Adam.

Lincoln, disappointed, decides to abandon his mission. However, Adam learns of his activities and captures Johnson in order to lure Lincoln into a trap at his plantation in New Orleans. Lincoln tells Speed the truth and they travel to Adam’s estate, where Lincoln is captured. However, Speed storms into the mansion and rescues Lincoln and Johnson, and the three escape back to Ohio. Lincoln’s watch, however, is left behind and found by Adam.

In Springfield, Lincoln marries Mary and hires Speed as his assistant and Johnson as his valet, allowing Johnson to continue his duties with the Underground Railroad undercover. Sturgess warns Lincoln that slaves are what keeps vampires under control, and if Lincoln interferes with that, there’ll be an uprising, but Lincoln ignores his warnings.

Lincoln defeats Douglas and is elected President of the United States of America. He signs the Emancipation Proclamation and moves to the White House with Mary, where they have a son, William Wallace Lincoln (Cameron M. Brown). Years later, in 1861, Willie is bitten by Vadoma, who leaves the watch behind to mock Lincoln. Sturgess offers to turn Willie into a vampire in order to save him, and although Mary wants him to, Lincoln stops him. Following their son’s death, Lincoln is blamed by his wife.

With the slaves freed, the vampires begin to attack all humans. Lincoln deploys his troops to confront the vampires, but the monsters gain the upper hand because of their supernatural powers. Sturgess tries to convince Lincoln to offer Adam a truce, but Lincoln refuses, and is informed that Adam’s army has repelled Lincoln’s forces in the Battle of Gettysburg. Lincoln then decides to confiscate all the silverware of the area and have it melted in order to produce silver bullets for the soldiers to use in the battlefield. Speed, believing that Lincoln will lead them to death, betrays him and informs Adam that Lincoln will transport the silver to Gettysburg in a train.

Adam and Vadoma watch as Lincoln reconciles with Mary, who leaves with the other slaves, and follow him to the train. Lincoln, Sturgess and Johnson fight Adam, Vadoma and other vampires, who have set a fire a few miles ahead while Speed, his betrayal a ruse, damages the train’s controls, hoping that it will crash against the fire and destroy the vampires. Adam kills Speed and fights Lincoln before being attacked by Sturgess. During the fight, Adam learns that there is no silver in the train, only rocks. Lincoln reveals that he lured Adam into a trap and stabs Adam with the weaponized watch. Lincoln, Johnson and Sturgess then jump out of the train before it explodes.

Adam dies, but Vadoma escapes, locates Mary, who had transported the silver to Gettysburg through the Underground Railroad, and tries to kill Mary there, but Mary kills the vampire first, using a rifle to shoot the silver toy sword of her deceased son, into Vadoma’s forehead.

With their leaders dead, the vampires become uncoordinated, and Lincoln leads the soldiers in a massive ambush. With their silver ammunition, the soldiers destroy the vampires and finally free America of them.

A few months later, on April 14, 1865, Sturgess congratulates Lincoln, revealing that the few remaining vampires have fled to other countries, and tries to convince Lincoln to allow him to turn Lincoln into a vampire, so Lincoln will become immortal and continue to help Sturgess to accomplish great things in the future. Lincoln refuses, and leaves for the theater with Mary, leaving Sturgess behind. That night, although not shown, Lincoln is killed by John Wilkes Booth.

Over a century later, in modern times, Sturgess locates a young man at a bar in Washington, D.C. and approaches him in the same way he once approached Lincoln, revealing that he’s still alive and training vampire hunters.

REVIEW:

With a title like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, people are sure to think one of two things. The first idea is that this is either some kind of farcical nonsense meant to capitalize on this seemingly never-ending vampire craze (at the expense of President Lincoln). The other would be that this is something along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, just using Abraham Lincoln. Well, if you were wondering which is the truth, the answer is closer to the latter.

When news broke about this film being made, I was skeptical, especially since I had never read the graphic novel. As a matter of fact, I still haven’t. I’ll get around to it before this comes out on DVD, though…maybe.

As I was saying, it seems the title is very off-putting to many people, and may be one of this film’s biggest downfalls if it isn’t successful, which is really a shame. Why is it people can’t get over something so minor as a title? Seems to me there would be other things to concern yourself with about a film rather than the title.

So, what did I like?

Vampires. Remember the days, not so long ago, when vampires were cutthroat, evil beings as opposed to these sparkly, moody things that they apparently are today? Well, if there is one thing that can be said about this flick, is that it brings us some real vampires! It is totally awesome to see cold-hearted, bloodsucking, undead creatures again!

Abe. The vampire hunter stuff aside, most of what you know about Abraham Lincoln is here. They even throw in his honesty, freeing a slave boy, and touch a bit on his political views. I was totally expecting there to be some massive deviation from the history we all know. I can just imagine, though, that some history teachers are hoping and praying this doesn’t become a huge hit. It is hard enough teaching history as it is, can you imagine on a test some question about Lincoln and a kid answers that he was a vampire hunter?

Action. There is plenty of action to go around in this picture. If you’ve seen the trailer for this, then you know that the action is one of, if not the biggest selling point of this flick. There two sequences that really highlight the action, well three, now that I think about it. The first is when Abe is going after his mother’s killer (once he has finally learned how to be a vampire hunter). Jumping around a stampede of horses without losing a beat, or his axe. That was impressive! The second and third scenes involve the villain, Adam, played by Rufus Sewell. At his plantation, Abe gets to show off some slick and impressive moves, and then of course, there is that train  that we’ve been seeing since the very first trailer came out. All of these will have your jaw dropping when you see them!

Acting. The entire cast turn in strong performances, but I was most impressed with newcomer Benjamin Walker (who happens to resemble Liam Neeson) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. I can’t forget Rufus Sewell, either. The man was just made to play these debonaire, villanous roles that he can really, pardon the pun, sink his teeth into.

Take a look. Walker definitely looks the part of Lincoln, especially when he gets the beard. I’m sure no one reading this blog was around during Lincoln’s time to say whether or not he does a good impersonation of him, but from what I know he seems to have a good hold on the man. This is especially obvious when he is giving speeches, particularly the Gettysburg Address.

What didn’t work?

Silver. This is the second vampire flick I’ve seen, this week, as a matter of fact, where vampires are vulnerable to silver.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I could have sworn that silver only affected werewolves. I liked how they hearkened this back to Judas and his silver pieces, but I just think they could have gone with something else. Then again, I guess it wouldn’t have worked having a garlic axe, huh?

Pacing. The first half of the film is like a roller coaster. It starts, takes off, and has its ups and downs. The second half, though, is more inconsistent. It doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere until it finally gets there. I wish it was better planned out, but at the same time, it isn’t so horrible that you can’t get over it.

Why? There has to always be that one character who seems to be the guy that is jealous of everything. Usually, though, there is some development to these characters which allows the audience to make sense of why they do what they do. That isn’t the case here, though, as Joshua Speed randomly betrays Lincoln because he “knows it is right.” What kind of sniveling coward saying is that?!? If you’re gonna betray your old friend, then have the balls to do it!

Time waits for no one. I’ve just about had it with this bullet time stuff. It was cool when we first saw it 15 or so years ago, but now filmmakers are just using it because they can. Think back to this year’s The Three Musketeers. They really used it quite liberally, and not necessarily in a good way. Here it happens in every action scene. I don’t think there is a time where Abe is swinging his axe, except for the first few swings at the tree, that isn’t slowed down. If filmmakers are going to continue to use this technique, then they really need to learn some restraint. It almost ruined this film for me, and I’m sure that there are others who weren’t exactly a fan, either.

Tone. Maybe it was just me, but I think this one could have had a not so serious tone. I’m not saying it needed to be a comedy, as some people seem to believe it is, but maybe a joke here and there to lighten the mood. It felt as if they took this too seriously, when they could have just had more fun with the source material. There is a serious Lincoln picture coming out in the near future that is sure to be as serious as a heart attack.

Release date. Who in the world is running the studio that decided it would be a good idea to release the same weekend as a Pixar flick? Say what you want, Brave is almost assuredly going to trounce this film at the box office this weekend. I’m not going to say this shouldn’t have been released during the summer, but I wonder if it might have done better being held off a couple of months? Maybe coming out around Halloween? President’s day?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a film that delivers on some fun, summer action. Personally, I think it was a bit too serious, but I’m sure there are those out there that think it wasn’t dark and violent enough. Keep in mind, these are probably the same people who think the game Lollipop Chainsaw should be much darker and violent. Doesn’t that make you wonder about our society? Anyway, do I recommend this? Yes. It is a very good film that is unfairly getting judged because people don’t like the title, yet if it was changed, we all know folks would bitch and moan about that, too. You just can’t win for nothing in this world. This is one film that I will be rushing to get on DVD when it comes out in the fall. It is one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen this year. Go check it out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars