Archive for July, 2012

Mirror Mirror

Posted in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!)

Snow White’s mother died in child birth. Her father, the King (Sean Bean), then raised Snow White so that she could rule the kingdom one day. Feeling that she needed a mother, the king married again. His new wife is the Queen (Julia Roberts), the most beautiful woman in the land. One day, the king leaves to fight a great evil that has invaded the land, giving Snow White a golden dagger. He rides off into the forest and never comes back. The Queen rules in his place. Jealous and threatened by Snow White and the people’s devotion to her, the Queen decides that “Snow White must do what snow does best, fall.”

Ten years later Snow White (Lily Collins) is turning eighteen and has spent much of her life locked in the palace. The Queen does not care for her but Snow White is still loved by the palace staff, especially by a kind baker named Margaret (Mare Winningham), who took care of Snow White ever since the King disappeared. Margaret tells Snow White that the kingdom is rightfully hers and that she should go outside and see what has become of her people. Snow White then defies the Queen’s orders and leaves the palace, intent on seeing the conditions of her kingdom. In the forest, she meets Prince Andrew Alcott (Armie Hammer) and his companion Charles Renbock (Robert Emms) who have been robbed by short bandits. She and the Prince are drawn to each other but go their separate ways. Snow White arrives in the town the palace overlooks (which she remembered visiting the town once before with her father), and discovers it is barren and the once-happy people are destitute due to the Queen’s greed. Angered that the Queen has destroyed everything her father worked for, Snow White decides to help the kingdom and overthrow her stepmother.

Prince Alcott finds his way to the palace. The Queen, realizing he comes from a wealthy kingdom, hatches a plot to get him to marry her so she can solve her financial problems. She hosts a ball in honor of the Prince and goes to great lengths to make herself as beautiful as possible. Snow White secretly attends the ball planning to ask the prince, whom she believes she has not met, to help her restore the kingdom. She and Alcott learn the truth about each other when they are partnered in a dance. Smitten, Prince Alcott makes sure that Snow White stays by his side which the Queen notices. The Queen has Snow White seized by her guards, and Snow White (for the first time in her life) stands up to her stepmother and tells her she has no right to rule as she does. Seeing Snow White as the threat she always feared she would be, The Queen orders her manservant Brighton (Nathan Lane) to take the princess into the forest and feed her to the Beast that lives there. Brighton takes Snow White to the forest, but is unable to kill her. He releases her and tells her to run. Snow White flees the Beast (Frank Welker) and collapses at the door to the Seven Dwarfs’ house.

The Queen goes to her Magic Mirror, a portal to a bleak and barren world that contains a house full of mirrors. Within the mirrors lives the Queen’s reflection (Lisa Roberts Gillan) who is much wiser, kinder, and somewhat younger than her. She gives advice to the Queen when she asks for it. The Queen requests a love potion so she can make the Prince fall in love with her. The Mirror Queen repeatedly warns her that there is a price for using dark magic, but the Queen refuses to listen. Back in the forest, Snow White wakes up to find herself surrounded by the dwarfs Grimm (Danny Woodburn), Butcher (Martin Klebba), Wolf (Sebastian Saraceno), Napoleon (Jordan Prentice), Half Pint (Mark Povinelli), Grub (Joe Gnoffo), and Chuck (Ronald Lee Clark) who is nicknamed “Chuckles” because he is always laughing. After much debate, they agree to let her stay with them for one night.

The Queen levies another tax against the people to pay for the parties she throws for Prince Alcott. Brighton is sent to collect and is informed by the town magistrate that the people can not tolerate much more. On the way back to the palace, the dwarfs rob Brighton and steal the tax money. When Snow White finds out that the Dwarves are thieves and that the stolen money belongs to the townspeople, she is angry. The Dwarfs explain that no one stood up for them years earlier when the Queen expelled them from the kingdom because she thought they were ugly. Thus, they feel no guilt for stealing. Snow White sneaks away while they are distracted to return the money. The townspeople are overjoyed to have their money back and Snow White lets the Dwarves take credit for it, earning them the people’s acceptance and gratitude. The Dwarves agree that Snow White can stay permanently if she agrees to become a thief like them. She agrees, but only if they can steal from the Queen and give back to the people.

Meanwhile, the Queen informs Alcott that Snow White is dead and attempts to get him to marry her only to be interrupted by Brighton. When the Prince finds out that the bandits have robbed Brighton, he goes after them unaware of the awful things the Queen has done. In the forest, Alcott discovers that Snow White is not only alive, but in league with the bandits. Each believing the other to be in the wrong, Snow White and Alcott duel. Alcott returns to the Palace defeated and informs the Queen that Snow White is alive and in league with the bandits that stole her money.

The Queen consults her Magic Mirror again and demands that the Mirror Queen punish Brighton for lying to her. The Mirror Queen turns him into a cockroach and tells the Mirror Queen to use its magic to kill Snow White. Despite the Mirror’s warning about using dark magic, the Queen (blinded by hatred) agrees to accept whatever consequences her actions may bring. She uses a love potion to make the Prince fall in love with her, like what she did to Snow White’s father but with unintended results (she accidentally used a potion called Puppy love which causes the Prince to act like a devoted puppy dog). Although the effects of the potion were wrong, she uses the Prince’s new found devotion to get him to agree to marry her. When Snow White learns of the wedding, she is heartbroken. The Queen then uses black magic to create two giant wooden puppets in the forest and uses them to try and kill Snow White and the Dwarves. Snow White is able to cut the strings of the puppets and break the mirror’s spell, but she decides to run away to protect her new friends. The next morning, the Dwarves find her gone and discover a note she left them telling them that she loves them all. They intercept her just as she is preparing to leave and convinces her that their lives are better with her.

They decide to crash the wedding of the Queen and the Prince, and do so. The Queen arrives at her wedding to find the Prince gone and the noble guests in their underwear, robbed of their clothes and valuables. The guests inform the Queen that Snow White has captured the Prince. Back in the forest, the Prince (still under the spell) wishes to be with the Queen. The Dwarves and Snow White come to the conclusion that they have to use true love’s kiss, which will break any spell. Snow White kisses Alcott as her first kiss and the spell is broken.

The Queen arrives in the forest intent on killing Snow White herself. She reveals that she can control the Beast that has been plaguing the forest and sends it after Snow White. Snow White fights the Beast with help from the Dwarves and the Prince, but all are soon overcome. As the beast is about to deliver the killing blow, it hesitates and Snow White sees that it wears a necklace with a moon charm on it similar to the one the Queen wears. She cuts the chain with her father’s dagger and the Beast suddenly becomes engulfed in light. In the Mirror House, the Queen is gloating, but suddenly realizes something is wrong. She begins to age and the Mirror Queen tells her that this is her consequence for using dark magic. The Beast turns out to be Snow White’s father who has no memory of the last ten years. Grateful to Alcott for his assistance, he agrees to let him marry Snow White.

During the wedding celebration, a hooded crone offers Snow White an apple as a wedding gift. Learning that the crone is what has become of the Queen, Snow White cuts a piece of the apple, offers it to the Queen, and remarks it is time to accept that she has been beaten (something the Queen once said to her). Accepting defeat, the Queen eats the apple. The Mirror House is subsequently destroyed as the Mirror Queen declared that it was Snow White’s story all along.

The film’s epilogue reveals what happened to the Dwarves: Grimm writes a book of fairy tales, Napoleon becomes a hairdresser, Wolf rejoins his pack, Half-Pint finds a girlfriend, Grub just eats, Butcher becomes a flyweight champion, and Chuck joins the royal circus

REVIEW:

Snow White is having quite the year, wouldn’t you say? In case you missed it, earlier this summer, Snow White and the Huntsman was released, and actually did some decent business. I can tell you right now that I probably won’t care for it, but I’ve been wrong before. Mirror Mirror was released earlier this year to mixed reviews, but it seemed to be more of the Snow White we all know, rather than some dark, Lord of the Rings wannabe. Does it live up to my expectations, though?

What did I like?

Tone. Yes, this may be a Grimm fairy tale, but this filmmaker decided to go more with a lighter, comedic tone, which really worked for this film, especially since there is a darker film about the exact same character that was released in the same year.

Visual aids. The visuals are a feast for the eyes. Everything from the opulent dresses of the queen, the contraptions the dwarves use, the puppets that attack said dwarves, and, of course, the mirror world will have you wondering what is going to come next.

Mirror mirror. The way the wicked queen gets to this realm inside the mirror is just awesome. I won’t bother to explain it, but when you see this place, I guarantee your jaw will drop!

Arm and hammer. If you’re going to get a prince, then it would behoove you to get one that is not an eye sore for the ladies. Armie Hammer seems to be a good choice for the prince, in that regard. Watching him in this role, he seems to fit the dashing prince just as well as James Marsden did in Enchated.

Snow. It is just common sense that if you’re going to be Snow White, then you should have some pretty fair skin, or at least stay away from the sun (and tanning beds). I give much kudos to the casting directors for casting still unknown Lily Collins (you may know her dad, Phil). She may not be the best actress, yet, but we were all saying the same thing about Anne Hathaway after The Princess Diaries, and well we see how that panned out, huh? Lily has the looks and talent to go far in this business. As far as Snow White goes, she seems like she watched Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs quite a few times, and that’s great, becuase that is the Snow White we all know and love, and the one we want to see.

What didn’t I like?

Apple. One of those most iconic things about Snow White is that she is poisoned by her wicked queen/stepmother and then has to be awaken by Prince Charming (or whatever his name is). That awakening never happens and the apple doesn’t come into play until the very last scene. Some may argue that this was a good change, but I’m one of those purists. Keep it as close to the original as you can, and for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t just make a sad attempt to shove it in there at the last minute!

Bollywood. There is a song that Snow White sings/dances to in the credits that is not only just plain awful, but also doesn’t fit. It would be like going to rap or metal concert and then all of a sudden someone decided to sing the Barney song. That is how out of place this was. I hear that it was actually part of the movie when it was in theaters, but the DVD moved it to the credits. I’m not sure how true that it, but either way, the thing is horrible.

Beast. The Beast was all buildup and no bite. The thing, when we finally see it, looks like either a Japanese dragon or a Jaberwocky. I’m not sure which, though. With all the great visuals in this picture, they could have come up with something better. He looks like he should have been in some 80s Jim Henson production.

Save the day. I guess I’m just old-fashioned, or maybe I’m some kind of closet chauvinist, but I think the prince should have saved Snow White. That’s just the way it is and should be. I’m getting kind of tired of these girl power films. Nothing against them, mind you, but has someone forgotten that guys can do the rescuing, too?

Mirror Mirror isn’t the best film, but it provided plenty of good times. I highly recommend it. For those of you wondering if this is family friendly, I would say yes. There really isn’t anything questionable, so you should have no worries. Keep in mind, I have no kids, so I’m not exactly the best person to say what is or isn’t kid-friendly, especially these days. Still, everyone should enjoy this flick, it is sure to be far superior to the crappy Kristen Stweart flick that came out a few weeks ago, and a notch below the beloved Disney masterpiece.

4 out of 5 stars

The Hitcher

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on July 28, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton) and Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush) are tormented by a mysterious hitchhiker named John Ryder (Sean Bean).

The couple hit the road for spring break. Ryder dangerously stands on the road, near his broken down car. Jim nearly hits him and his car spins out of control. Grace insists that someone else will stop to help and they speed off.

At a gas station, Jim sees Ryder climb out of a tractor-trailer cab while gassing up. Ryder introduces himself and asks for a ride. Reluctantly Jim agrees. While on the road, Ryder becomes violent and holds a knife to Grace’s throat. Ryder tells him the only way to save himself and Grace is to say, “I want to die.” Jim screams out “I don’t wanna die!”. He then hits the brakes hard, causing Ryder to hit his head on the windshield. Jim then speeds up, kicking Ryder repeatedly until Grace opens the passenger door and he is ejected.

Later Jim and Grace drive down the road and see a station wagon with a couple of kids playing in the back seat. Ryder appears in the back of the car, apparently hitchhiking. Grace and Jim try to warn the family of Ryder, but they are run off the road by an oncoming tractor-trailer which totals Jim’s car. With no other choice after Jim’s car is totalled, the couple is forced to continue on foot. They eventually find the family’s station wagon on the side of the road. Both children and the mother are dead, with the father slowly dying.

Hoping to find help for the dying man, the couple take the station wagon and head towards town. Ryder appears, and attempts to run them off the road in a stolen truck. Jim and Grace stop at a cafe, where the father dies. Suspected of committing the murders, Jim and Grace are arrested and brought to the police station. Grace is interrogated while Jim is held in a cell. Ryder shows up and kills everyone at the station except Jim and Grace, who flee on foot.

Shortly after, the couple arrives at a junkyard. Grace attempts to negotiate with the lone surviving cop from the station. When this fails, Jim and Grace order him at gunpoint to get into his car to allow them to escape and prove their innocence. However, before he can enter the car and leave to get reinforcements he is shot in the head by Ryder. Another officer just arriving witnesses this and begins shooting at the couple as they attempt to escape.

Despite suspecting that there might be a third suspect, Lieutenant Esteridge (Neal McDonough) sends several cruisers and a helicopter after the couple, telling his men to use any means necessary to stop them. Ryder shows up in a 1979 Trans Am and helps Jim and Grace escape the police, managing to single-handedly blind shooting, take out all of the cruisers and the helicopter.

Grace and Jim walk to a motel after their cruiser breaks down. After sharing a shower, Jim steps out of the room to make a phone call. He is gone for several hours and Grace falls asleep watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. She is awakened by someone in the bed who is fondling her. Ryder tries to rape her, but Grace manages to fight him off and hide in the bathroom with a revolver.

Ryder disappears as Grace searches for Jim. The motel manager sees her with a gun and calls the police. Grace finds Jim and sees that he is tied between a truck and a trailer. Ryder looks in the side-view mirror and revs the engine, moving the truck a few inches. This hurts Jim and Grace runs to the cab to find Ryder sitting in the driver’s seat. Grace points the gun at him and tells him to stop the truck. Ryder keeps hitting the gas, brutally hurting Jim. The police, who still think Grace and Jim are the killers, then show up and see Grace with Ryder at gunpoint. They do not realize who is behind the torturing of Jim, who they can barely see chained to the truck. They tell her to drop the gun, but Ryder tells Grace not to listen to them. Ryder releases the pedal (moving the truck at speed) and Jim is split in half at the waist, killing him. Grace is devastated. Ryder and Grace are then apprehended by the police.

The next morning, Esteridge tells Ryder that he will be transported across the state. He also tells Grace, whose innocence has been proven, that the real John Ryder is missing and they do not know the true identity of this hitcher. He also informs her that he’ll be taking her for psychiatric care and released to her parents. Ryder is bound in handcuffs with a bulletproof vest and placed in the back of a police van, with Grace and Esteridge driving behind them in an SUV. During the ride, Ryder is able to break free of his restraints, kills the guard who is watching him, and shoots the driver. The driver loses control and rolls the van, taking out an oncoming car, which crashes into Esteridge’s SUV.

Lieutenant Esteridge’s leg has been trapped in the accident. Grace takes Esteridge’s gun, leaving him unarmed and helpless, and slowly makes her way to the van in which Ryder is caught. Grace opens the back door, whereupon Ryder takes her gun and locks her in the back. Ryder sees a pool of gasoline near the van, and shoots it, igniting the van. Grace manages to get a shotgun from the front seat of the van right before the gasoline explodes. Ryder shoots Esteridge in the head and walks away. However, Grace survives the explosion and shoots Ryder several times, finally killing him and ending his rampage.

REVIEW:

There was a time when you could pick up a hitchhiker off the side of the road and not have to worry about them slicing you up. Those days have passed, though, as we can see in The Hitcher. If ever there was a public service announcement for not picking up random people off the side of the road, this is it.

What did I like?

Bush. Even though she isn’t that great of an actress, I am a fan of her unrivaled beauty. This is the kind of film that she is best suited for, something where her looks can be an asset and her acting won’t necessarily be a hindrance. If only she didn’t have such an unfortunate last name. For those that wonder if she’s been in any film’s before, you may remember her from John Tucker Must Die.

Random acts of violence. The hitchhiker, played by Sean Bean, is some kind of violent, sadistic murdering menace who apparently has had something happen in his like that makes him wish to die and cause suffering to everyone else. His best murder involves two trucks, that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Quotes. There actually isn’t much in the way of memorable quotes uttered through this picture. As a matter of fact, the stars of this film just prattle on about how they need to stop this hitcher, but that didn’t really do any good. However, when Neal McDonough pops up and is monitoring things, he has some memorable lines. Listen out for them.

What didn’t I like?

Why? I would have liked to have known why spurred on this killing spree by this hitcher. I’m not saying I want an entire backstory, but maybe a flashback or some exposition that says maybe his wife was killed by a drunk driver or something along those lines.

Keystone cops. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a police force more incompetent that these jokers. They see this couple with a man dying in their arms and assume they’re the killers, rather than someone trying to help. Does no one in New Mexico do actual police work?!?

The Hitcher is not the worst horror film, but there isn’t anything memorable about it. There isn’t as much murder as you would like for it to have and the story is just lame and forgettable. This is what happens when you do a remake! I don’t recommend this, but won’t say you shouldn’t see it. Watch at your own risk!

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Big Bird Cage

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on July 27, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A buxom bad girl named Blossom (Pam Grier) is the rough-and-ready girlfriend of a radical guerrilla leader named Django (Sid Haig). But when Django’s mercenary friends itch for some female companionship, they devise a plan to liberate the inmates of a local women’s prison. With the help of another new inmate (Anitra Ford), Blossom and Django go up against a tyrannical warden (Andrés Centenera) to stage an explosive breakout.

REVIEW:

It is no secret that Pam Grier is one of my favorite classic actresses, ranking up with the likes of Lucille Ball and Jayne Mansfield, tied with Marilyn Monroe. So, it should come as no surprise that I try to see all of her films, especially the older ones. This is how I came across The Big Bird Cage. This doesn’t really fall into the usual blaxploitation films Pam is known for, but rather a female exploitation flick involving women in cages.

What did I like?

Pam. In all her buxom, busty glory, we get the Nubian goddess Pam Grier. When they talk about the total package of the 70s, they really must have been talking about her. Not only does she have the acting chops (hindered by these badly scripted films she’s been in), but she also has a killer body. I think this may have been the most she’s shown it off, without actually stripping down. Having said that, I’m not so sure I was a fan of her role in this film, but I can forgive just about anything because it’s Pam.

Location, location, location. Going in, I was of the belief that this film was going to be 90 minutes of nothing but women in the middle of the jungle in prison. I can’t say that I was relieved it wasn’t, but there was something that felt a bit like a breath of fresh air to have parts of the film, even if it is just the first couple of scenes, be in the city.

Females. Look, I’m a guy. I like seeing naked, sweaty women, so for me to not say this was something U liked would not give this film the credit it deserves, not to mention, most of the people who actually watch this film are watching ti just to see if they can get a peek at some massive mammaries, let’s be honest. I wish there was more of it, but the little we get is enough.

What didn’t I like?

Cage. The big bird cage is not used at all in this film, and yet it is the title. All we get from it is that these women are being forced into building it. You’d think they would have thought of a way to utilize it more or come up with a title that reflects how it is used, rather than having us believe we’re going to see some giant gird cage.

Guards. It is never really said, but there is the implication that the guards are of the homosexual variety. I guess for a prison fill of scantily clad, sweaty women, you can’t exactly be a horny straight guy, but these guys just run you the wrong way. Of course, their characters aren’t exactly supposed to be the most lovable, are they?

Escape. The final scenes are a daring escape, but it isn’t as daring as one would imagine, especially after all the build up. It was just a bid let down.

The Big Bird Cage can be considered a big bird poop by some. For me, I didn’t love or hate it. Yes, I’m, rather indifferent to this film, which is a shock since it star’s my beloved Pam. Do I recommend it? I can’t that I do, but it won’t hurt you to check it out.

3 out of 5 stars

 

A Low Down Dirty Shame

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on July 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Andre Shame (Wayans) is a private detective formerly of the LAPD, who left the force after failing to crack the case on drug lord Ernesto Mendoza (Andrew Divoff). The investigation of Mendoza’s case was a personal one for Shame, as his ex-girlfriend Angela (Salli Richardson) was caught in the middle of a love triangle with the two men. Years later, Sonny Rothmiller (Dutton), Shame’s ex-colleague who is now working for the DEA, tells him that the Mendoza case is being re-opened, and though he has his doubts, Shame decides the case is too intriguing to pass on, and tells Sonny to count him in. The situation gets rather complicated when Shame’s old flame Angela resurfaces in his life, and he also realizes that some of his allegiances aren’t what, or whom, they seem to be on the surface.

REVIEW:

For some reason, the Wayans brothers are capable of being hilarious comedic actors and decent enough action stars. Take for instance Keenen Ivory Wayans…in A Low Down Dirty Shame, he gives us some laughs, but also kicks ass and takes names, all without sacrificing the quality of the picture. Did the rest of film deserve similar accolades?

What did I like?

Shaft-ish. Shame seems to be a rip-off of Shaft, or at least he is when he shaves his head and puts on the long coat. As a fan of Samuel L. Jackson’s Shaft, I thought that maybe I wasn’t going to be a fan, but as it turns out, I wasn’t appalled in the least, but rather it fit the character and tone of the film.

Flame on. There is this gay roommate who is actually the funniest part of the film. Yes, he even upstaged Keenen in the funny department! We all know how funny the gays can be, especially in the early 90s when stereotypes ran rampant, and this is a classic case of that. The stereotypical behavior, though, mixed with this guys comedic timing, make for a great character. It really is such a shame that he died of pneumonia before this film was released. I bet he would have gone on to bigger and better things.

Action comedy. Some films try to mix action and comedy, but don’t find a nice balance between the two. This film doesn’t exactly give us a blueprint for mixing them, but it does do a great job of making the funny parts funny and the action parts exciting.

Eureka. While I didn’t particular care for her character, I have to give props to Salli Richardson. You may know her from Black Dynamite or the TV show Eureka. This film was released in 1994 and she doesn’t look like she’s aged a day. As a matter of fact, she looks like a clone of Pam Grier, but she doesn’t fight like her.

What didn’t I like?

Plot. A corrupt DEA agent working for the bad guy who was supposedly killed years ago. Yes, we’ve heard this story, or at least parts of it before many, many times before. I just wish they would have come up with something more original to throw in the mix. There is only so much of the same old, same old one can take.

Jada. There are very few things I actually like her in. She may be a looker, but as an actress, she is downright annoying. Granted, this character is supposed to be the annoying sidekick, which is fine and dandy, but I think she went a bit too far with the annoying part, at least in my opinion.

All in all, A Low Down Dirty Shame is a pretty good film with plenty of enjoyable moments. This is one of those films that makes you wonder why they don’t them like this anymore. With all the dark, heavy films out there nowadays, it is good to go back and watch something much lighter and just plain fun to watch. I highly recommend this.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Hunchback on Notre Dame (1939)

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Overcome by lust, High Justice Frollo (Cedric Hardwicke) — a religious fraud — dispatches deformed bell-ringer Quasimodo (Charles Laughton) to kidnap winsome gypsy Esmeralda (Maureen O’Hara). But Quasimodo is thwarted and pays for his crime with a public flogging. Esmeralda offers him comfort, and her kindness kindles his passion. When she’s later falsely convicted of murder and condemned to death, only the love-struck Quasimodo can save her.

REVIEW:

I think the majority of people are familiar with this story because of the 1996 Disney version. The 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, though, actually was the visual basis for much of that film. Watching it this evening, I was able to actually pick up on little things, such as the design of Quasimodo, for instance. One of these days, I am going to get around to reading this book again. In the meantime, I can enjoy the film versions…or can I?

What did I like?

Hunchback. I was initially under the impression that this was a silent film of the horror variety. Something akin to Nosferatu. With that in mind, I had high expectations for Quasimodo. These hopes didn’t waiver when I found out that this was a picture with sound. If anything, I think I was more impressed with Charles Laughton’s take on the character, even if he did resemble Sloth from The Goonies.

Mystery. In the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo isn’t as much a mysterious presence. Granted, this is because that is a more family friendly film…or at least it is supposed to be. In this version, though. Quasimodo is that presence that makes the townspeople uncomfortable, yet intrigued.

Romani. It seems that gypsies are all over the place lately. Well, at least down in my little world they are. Certain people in this house have a sudden gypsy obsession. Anyway, the gypsies play a fairly major role, but not as big as the one they play in other versions. I wonder why this is? Still, their contribution is noted.

What didn’t I like?

King Louis. I don’t believe he plays this major a role in the book and in this film he may be the voice of reason, of sorts, but he seems to be out of place. Frollo is the bad guy, and his brother the cardinal is the apparent good guy, but the king (who doesn’t even look like a king, mind you), he’s just the proverbial creepy uncle you have to invite to family functions.

Connection. I didn’t feel any connection to these characters. They seemed almost one-dimensional at times, which is a crying shame, if you ask me, because Victor Hugo did an excellent job of fleshing them out in his immortal novel, but filmmakers can’t seem to bring that out on film, apparently.

Notre Dame. I was expecting more scenes in Notre Dame. Quasimodo is the bell ringer, after all, but that didn’t happen. We get a few scenes in there, but they’re barely enough to sneeze at. Then again, it isn’t like this was filmed on location, so it might be a good thing that we didn’t get any more scenes in that second-rate re-creation.

For a classic film that is renown as the best interpretation of this novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame delivers on all accounts. Not to sound like a supervillain, but it is sheer elegance in its simplicity. While it isn’t perfect, it does a good job of trying to be. I highly recommend this film. Perhaps even package it with the Disney version and have a Hunchback night of sorts.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Thin Man

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , on July 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Nick Charles (Powell), a retired detective, and his wife Nora (Loy) are attempting to settle down when he’s pulled back into service by a friend’s disappearance and possible involvement in a murder. The friend, Clyde Wynant (Ellis) (the eponymous “thin man”), has mysteriously vanished just after his former girlfriend, Julia Wolf, was found dead. Wynant quickly becomes the prime suspect, but his daughter Dorothy (O’Sullivan) can’t believe he did it. She convinces Nick to take the case much to the amusement of his socialite wife. The detective stumbles off to find clues, and manages to piece things together through intensive investigation.

The murderer is finally revealed in a classic dinner-party scene that features all of the suspects. A skeletonized body, found during the investigation, had been assumed to be that of a “fat man” due to its being found in clothing from a much heavier man. This clothing is revealed to be a diversion, and the identity of the body is finally revealed, on the basis of an old war wound to the leg, as that of a particular “thin man” instead— the missing Wynant. The murder has been disguised in a way to frame the dead Wynant, by people who have stolen a great deal of money from Wynant and killed him on the night he was last seen.

REVIEW:

In all film history, there is a series of film noires that stands out above all the other. The Thin Man is the first of 5 such films. It has been revered in many circles as one of the top crime films of all time, and with good reason. The million dollar question, though, is what did I think?

What did I like?

Classic device. The film ends with the classic dinner party reveal. You know, where all the suspects are gathered for a fancy dinner party and the detective reveals who the killer is. Yeah, we’ve all seen those on television before. I’m not 100% sure, but this may have been the first instance of the device being used on film.

Misdirection. Who is the thin man? The way the film moves along.  it would have you believe that the star of the picture is the titular character. This is not true, though, as the thin man is actually someone else entirely. Now, why it is that all the other films in this series use him in the title, I can’t tell you.

Comedy. It seems to be that in this era, films were either strictly drama or comedy. The few that did manage the straddle that fine line were musicals. It is good to see a film mix genres from a time when doing so wasn’t exactly commonplace.

What didn’t I like?

Pacing. For some reason, no matter how much I tried, it was just hard for me to keep up with what was going on. I think this was more to do with some distractions outside, rather than an indictment of this film. Gotta love people who drive by with their stereos blaring (and rattling).

Trailer. The trailer for this film has a life-size figure of William Powell. While this was a brilliant advertising tactic, I found myself wondering why this wasn’t in the film, as I’m sure those who saw this film did the same.

The Thin Man provided me with some decent entertainment, but I can’t be sure whether I liked it or not. The fact is that this is a very well made film, as almost all flicks from yesteryear tend to be. With that said, I do highly recommend this, if for no other reason than it should be a film you see before you die.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Dilemma

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins with Ronny (Vince Vaughn), his girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly), his best friend Nick (Kevin James), and Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) all at dinner. They are sharing stories when Beth asks how long it takes to really know someone. Ronny states that you can never really know someone; Nick disagrees.

At a car show, Ronny is able to get him and Nick a meeting with Dodge in a few days. They celebrate with dinner with their ladies. While Nick and Geneva are dancing, Ronny tells Beth that he really looks up to Nick, who pulls him onto the dance floor. When they switch partners, Geneva tells Ronny that they love Beth and asks Ronny when he is going to propose to her. That evening, Ronny asks Beth if there’s a clock ticking; she says no, but if things progress, she will not be unhappy.

In Detroit for their meeting with Dodge, Ronny tells Nick that he is worked out a deal to get Beth a $20,000 ring for half price if Nick can help by fixing the seller’s car. Nick agrees. In their meeting, they pitch an electric car with the build of a muscle car. Dodge agrees to give them $400,000 for a prototype, and leaves Susan Warner (Queen Latifah) as their supervisor. She is extremely enthusiastic about working with them. Nick worries that he is going to fail with his engine design; Ronny reassures him.

Later, he mentions this to Beth, who is a chef, and asks how he is doing, concerned that he is feeling overwhelmed. (Ronny had a very serious gambling problem two years prior.) He promises that he is fine then heads to a botanical garden to arrange the proposal. While he is there, he catches a glimpse of Geneva, whom he follows. He walks through poisonous plants and is caught by the manager just as he sees Geneva kiss a young man (Channing Tatum). He is read all of the horrible side effects of the plants, (painful urination, hallucinations, etc.) and gets kicked out. He later lies to Beth about how he got the rash, and when he re-enacts it, he drops a stack of money, which Beth sees. He lies again saying that he is paying his parts suppliers, which she doesn’t appear to believe.

He goes to work to tell Nick, but does not when Nick yells at him. He calls his sister for advice, but she assumes he is talking about her husband, so that fails too. Nick later apologizes, and before Ronny can say anything, Beth and Geneva come to take them out for a break. They go to a Blackhawks hockey game. Geneva goes for beer; Ronny follows and confronts her. She tries to explain, then accuses Nick of getting “massages” every Thursday. She promises that the affair is over, and she will tell Nick once the car is finished.

At the office later, Nick inquires about why Ronny’s dragging his feet with the proposal. Ronny tries to probe about possibly getting a massage; Nick feigns ignorance. Ronny later follows him to the massage parlor. He then calls Geneva to apologize, but hears her with the young man, Zip. She tells him to meet her at a diner, where she tells Ronny that she will deny the affair and tell Nick that Ronny has been hitting on her, and revealing a fling they had back in college (before she and Nick ever met). She leaves telling Ronny to stay out of her marriage.

At home the next morning, Ronny answers a call for Beth, but the caller hangs up. He calls back, and gets the number to a corporate office that is opening a restaurant in Vegas. He later gets a call from Susan, warning him that Dodge has another competitor working on a similar project. Afterwards, he follows Geneva to Zip’s and photographs them together. Kids start skateboarding nearby, so he can’t leave, making him late for Beth’s parents’ 40th anniversary party. When Geneva leaves, he is caught by Zip, and they get into a fight. Ronny fights his way out of the house using hairspray and a candle as a torch…but Zip catches up to him outside, damaging Ronny’s car with a baseball bat. He demands to know what Ronny was doing in his house, and Ronny tells him he is best friends with Geneva’s husband. He calls Zip garbage for sleeping with Geneva, and then leaves as Zip starts to cry. Ronny cleans himself up then heads to the party, where he makes a long, inappropriate speech about honesty, secretly aimed at Geneva, who is also in attendance. Beth takes him aside and begs him to be honest with her, so he asks about the Vegas restaurant. She explains that she was offered a job, but declined because she does not trust him in Vegas. He leaves and spends the night at the office.

He goes back to Zip’s to get his camera. Zip answers the door with a gun, and insists that Ronny come in, because he read that he could legally shoot someone in self defense if they enter your home. Ronny refuses to enter, and Zip starts crying again about Ronny killing his fish, due to the fact that Ronny accidentally destroyed his fish tank during their fight the other night. He demands that Ronny give him $10,000 for damages, but settles for $1000 and an apology and gives him back his camera. Nick arrives after Ronny leaves, having followed him there suspecting Zip was a bookie, and Ronny was borrowing money for gambling.

Ronny goes back home to find Beth, Nick, his sister, Geneva, and his gambling sponsor holding an intervention for him. Zip shows up seconds later, claiming to be his bookie. Ronny lashes out at him and hits him. When Zip leaves, Ronny explains that he is not gambling, he is been acting weird because he found out a week ago that Geneva was having an affair with Zip and did not know how to tell Nick. Surprisingly, Geneva admits the affair. Ronny also confesses to the college fling. Nick is outraged and leaves.

Ronny comes home later after going for a walk. He tells Beth he brought her something to eat and they apologize for not trusting each other. She opens the bag of food and finds an engagement ring inside, and accepts his proposal.

At the meeting the next morning, Nick tells Ronny he moved out, then hits Ronny twice for not telling him the truth. He makes Ronny promise to be honest even if it hurts. They make up and head into the meeting, where Nick unveils the prototype car. Through his extensive research and tuning, he was able to make the new eco-friendly Dodge Charger sound and perform just like the classic 1968 Dodge Charger. Dodge is impressed with the prototype and give Nick and Ronny the contract.

At a Blackhawks game some time later, Nick finally gets a chance to try a challenge he always claimed he could do. He fails twice, but on his third attempt, Ronny gives Nick the coach’s dramatic speech from the film Miracle, and he gets the puck into a net, winning a chance to go to an all-star game. Ronny runs onto the ice to celebrate with him before they are both escorted off.

REVIEW:

Have you ever been in the situation where your best friend’s significant other is cheating with someone and you happen to cath them? How do you handle that situation? That is the dilemma in The Dilemma. A decent plot, but unfortunately, it isn’t executed with as much thought as was put into spawning the idea.

What did I like?

Story. The plot is a great idea. I’m sure there are more than a few guy/gals out there that have been in this situation. Having not been in it myself, I can’t say anything about it, though, but it is still intriguing to me.

Cast. With the exception of Vince Vaughn, I love this cast. It is good to see Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly come out of hiding (though I wish it was for a better film), Queen Latifah is as great as she can be in such a severely limited role, and Channing Tatum is hilarious.

Auto industry. I can’t remember what the last film that involved the auto industry, in a good way, was. It was good to see that struggling enterprise get some light. Even better, was the fact that these guys owned their own company and were making their own way without being swallowed by some bug company.

What didn’t I like.

Vince. I’m sorry Vince Vaughn fans, but I just didn’t care for him. He seemed like he was just trying too hard, or maybe I’m just tired of his schtick. Kevin James, who is usually the butt of fat guy jokes (he won’t be in his new movie where he dropped 80 lbs, though), actually wasn’t here, yet Vince Vaughn was still playing this borderline ADHD guy who won’t shut up and is also very sweaty. It just wasn’t working for me.

Dilemma. The way this whole thing played out just seemed to be carelessly thought out. I get why they didn’t tell Kevin James right away. If they had, there wouldn’t have been much of a film. However, the time between finding out about the infidelity and the reveal seemed to have been filler, rather than some actual plot points and comedy scenes to move the film forward and entertain the audience.

Gay. In this day and age where everyone is so sensitive, the writer’s should have known better than to put the line “Electric cars are gay.” in there. That was just uncalled for and the fact that it made it into the final cut is appalling.

The Dilemma is a decent film, but not one that you will remember 5 minutes after the credits roll. I honestly can’t recommend it for any reason, but if you must check it out, then more power to you.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Chronicle

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Seattle teenager Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) starts videotaping his life. His mother Karen (Bo Petersen) is slowly dying from cancer and his alcoholic father Richard (Michael Kelly) verbally and physically abuses him. At school, Andrew is unpopular and frequently bullied.

Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell) invites him to a rave to help him meet people, but Andrew’s filming angers an attendee and Andrew leaves despondent. Approached outside by Steve (Michael B. Jordan), a popular student, Andrew is persuaded to join him and Matt to record something strange the pair of them have found in the woods: a hole in the ground that emits a loud strange noise. The three enter the hole and discover a large crystalline object glowing blue. As Andrew records, the object glows red and the group is stricken by nosebleeds and pain. The camera cuts out. Weeks later Andrew records himself, Matt, and Steve as they display telekinetic abilities, able to move objects with their minds, but bleeding from their noses when they overexert themselves. They return to the hole, but find that it has collapsed and that the sheriff’s department is sealing off the area for safety.

As their abilities grow more powerful, Matt theorizes that they function like a muscle, becoming stronger with use. The three boys develop a close friendship and begin employing their abilities to play pranks. However, after Andrew pushes a rude motorist off the road and into a river, Matt insists that they restrict the use of their powers, particularly against living creatures. The three later discover that they can use their powers to fly and revel in the experience. They agree to fly around the world together after graduation, with Andrew expressing an interest in visiting Tibet because of its peaceful nature. Steve encourages Andrew to enter the school talent show to gain popularity. Andrew amazes his fellow students by disguising his powers as an impressive display of tricks. That night, Andrew, Matt and Steve celebrate at a house party, where Andrew is the center of attention. After drinking with his classmate Monica (Anna Wood), she and Andrew go upstairs to have sex, but Andrew vomits on Monica, humiliating himself.

Andrew becomes increasingly withdrawn and hostile, culminating when his father attacks him and Andrew uses his power to overpower him. His outburst is so extreme that it inflicts psychically connected nosebleeds and pain on Steve and Matt. Steve is drawn to Andrew, who is floating in the middle of a storm. Steve tries to console him, but Andrew grows increasingly angry until Steve is suddenly struck by lightning and killed. At Steve’s funeral, Matt confronts Andrew about the suspicious circumstances of Steve’s death. Andrew denies knowledge or responsibility to Matt, but he privately begs forgiveness at Steve’s grave.

Andrew grows distant from Matt and again finds himself alone and unpopular at school. After being bullied, he uses his power to tear several teeth from the bully’s mouth. Andrew begins to identify himself as an apex predator, rationalizing that he should not feel guilt for using his power to hurt those weaker than himself. When his mother’s condition deteriorates, Andrew uses his powers to steal money for her medicine. After mugging some local thugs, he robs a gas station where he inadvertently causes an explosion that puts him in the hospital and under police investigation. At his bedside, his father informs the unconscious Andrew that his mother has died, and he angrily blames Andrew for her death. As his father is about to strike him, Andrew awakens and blows out the outer wall of the hospital room.

Elsewhere, Matt experiences a nosebleed and senses Andrew is in trouble. He sees a news report about the hospital explosion and travels there, finding Andrew floating outside the building. Andrew drops his father, who is saved by Matt, and proceeds to wreak havoc with his powers. Matt confronts Andrew at the Space Needle and tries to reason with him, but Andrew grows increasingly hostile and irrational at any attempt to control him. Andrew attacks Matt and the pair fight across the city, crashing through buildings and hurling vehicles. Injured and enraged, Andrew uses his power to destroy the buildings around him, threatening lives. Unable to get through to Andrew, Matt tears a spear from a nearby statue and impales Andrew, killing him. The police surround Matt, but he flies away.

Some time later, Matt lands in Tibet with Andrew’s camera. Speaking to the camera while addressing Andrew, Matt vows to use his powers for good and to find out what happened to them in the hole. Matt positions the camera to view a Tibetan monastery in the distance and says “You made it” before flying away, leaving the camera behind to continue recording the tranquil scene.

REVIEW:

When Chronicle was released earlier this year, everyone was raving about how great it was. I decided to pass on it and wait until it came out on DVD, though, knowing that I probably wasn’t going to be this film’s biggest fan. Sure enough, seeing it tonight did nothing for me. This film definitely falls into the category of overrated, in my opinion.

What did I like?

Idea. The idea of a group of guys who are just living their lives, having a good time, and all that jazz who suddenly find this supposed alien artifact that gives them powers is the film’s strongest point, of that there is no question. As a matter of fact, this plot may be the reason the director has been tapped to helm the (unnecessary) reboot of the Fantastic Four, due to the somewhat similar natures of the products. So often, though, we get these superpowered beings who seem to just be larger than life, totally forgetting that they do have lives before and around their powers.

Effects. Being a small budget film, there isn’t much in the way of financial backing behind this picture. With that said, the special effects here are not too shabby. The flying scenes, for instance are almost as good as what we see in the Iron Man movies. Imagine what these people could have done with some real money!

Spiral. I won’t spoil anything, but one of the characters goes on a journey through the film that leads to the film’s climax. The descent, if you will, from where he is at the film’s beginning to the place he is at the end of the flick and all point in-between is almost enough to pique the audience’s attention and hold it throughout.

What didn’t I like?

Found footage. I do not like this fad of filmmaking. It seems to be a pox on the existence of cinema in the same way that reality tv has been for tv. It would be one thing if this was actually footage that was found, but let’s be real, this crap wasn’t found, it was made up and filmed with a cheap camera in a sad attempt to make the audience believe it was found.

Acting. I’ve been privy to some horrible acting in my day. This isn’t it, but it is pretty bad. Granted, the case is relative unknowns, and the script didn’t help matters, but I’ve seen great things from Michael B. Jordan in the final two seasons of Friday Night Lights, so he has no excuse!

Chronicle is just one of those films that you’re either bound to love or hate. I happen to be more in the camp of the latter. There just seems to be that feeling that the filmmakers were trying to be cutting edge, only it didn’t work out the way they wanted it to. On the other hand, though, they did make some serious bank. Do I recommend this flick? No, because quite frankly, it isn’t worth your time.

2 out of 5 stars

New Year’s Eve

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On New Year’s Eve, Vice-President of the Times Square Alliance Claire Morgan (Hilary Swank) is making the final arrangements for the ball drop with the help of her friend Brandon (Ludacris). Meanwhile, after being nearly run over by a car and denied a vacation, Ahern Records secretary Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) quits her job and offers the deliveryman Paul (Zac Efron) tickets for the Ahern Records Masquerade Ball if Paul helps her complete a series of New Year’s resolutions before midnight, which he accepts.

Paul’s sister Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) is having trouble with her teenage daughter Hailey (Abigail Breslin) who wants to spend New Year’s Eve with her friends and her boyfriend Seth (Jake T. Austin) in Times Square. Paul’s friend, comic book illustrator Randy (Ashton Kutcher), who hates New Year’s Eve after his girlfriend left him on a date, gets stuck in an elevator with Elise (Lea Michele), an aspiring singer who will be providing back-up for musician Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi) in his show at Times Square, he also performs at the Ahern Records ball, where he rekindles his feelings for his ex-girlfriend, Laura (Katherine Heigl).

At a nearby hospital, Stan Harris (Robert De Niro), a man in the final stages of cancer who refuses chemotherapy and who only wishes to see the ball drop one last time, is kept company by Nurse Aimee (Halle Berry) and Nurse Mindy (Alyssa Milano) after his doctor (Cary Elwes) reveals he will not last much longer. In the same hospital, a young couple, Griffin (Seth Meyers) and Tess (Jessica Biel), about to have their first child, competes with another couple, James (Til Schweiger) and Grace (Sarah Paulson), for a bonus offered for the family of the first child born in the new year. Elsewhere, Sam (Josh Duhamel), a businessman from Ahern Records, attempts to go to the Ahern Records Ball, where he is to deliver an important speech, after his car malfunctions on the other side of New York, all the while wondering if he should attend a meeting with a mysterious woman he met and fell in love with on the previous New Year’s Eve.

As midnight approaches, one of the billboard lights of the Times Square panel malfunctions, jamming the ball and forcing Claire to call Kominsky (Héctor Elizondo), an electrician, who the company had fired a few weeks prior. Kominsky repairs the ball before midnight, and, in gratitude, Claire leaves him in charge of the operation, and rushes to see the ball drop with her father, Stan. Meanwhile, Nurse Aimee has a video conference with her husband (Common), a soldier serving in Afghanistan.

Paul helps Ingrid complete all the items on her list, and she gives him the tickets. Meanwhile, Randy and Elise bond, and, as they are about to kiss, the elevator is repaired and Elise rushes to Jensen’s show. Randy notices she forgot her rubber band and rushes to give it to her. At the Ball, Jensen leaves midway during the show and apologizes to Laura, who accepts him back and leaves with the approval of her assistant, Sous Chef Ava (Sofia Vergara). With Jensen gone, Elise is called to replace him and attracts the attention of the crowd. She kisses Randy, and they start a romantic relationship.

Griffin and Tess have their baby and, although it is born first, they allow James and Grace to have the bonus after discovering they actually have three children. Meanwhile, after being forbidden from attending the celebration, Hailey runs away to Times Square, where she sees Seth being kissed by another girl. Heartbroken, she meets and is comforted by her mother. Seth finds them and apologizes, claiming the girl stole a kiss from him. Hailey forgives him and Seth kisses her. Her mother allows her to go to an after-party. Kim then goes to a restaurant to meet Sam, who had succeeded in delivering his speech. She is the mysterious woman he met one year prior, and they finally discover each other’s names

REVIEW:

I actually toyed around with the idea of waiting until it was actually December 31 to watch New Year’s Eve, but apparently Netflix had other plans for me. Oh well, it happens. After sitting through this knee jerk of  a film, though, I don’t think this is something I would like to have as one of the last memories of the year.

What did I like?

A for effort. I give them credit for making a sequel that isn’t a carbon copy of its predecessor, in this case, Valentine’s Day, While it wasn’t a carbon copy, there are elements that seep in. I still wonder why or who thought there needed to be a sequel. No way in the world did that first film make that much money, right?

Cohesiveness. Just like the last film, there are many major stars in this film, but none of them get anymore time than the others. Sure, if you were to actually time the amount of screentime we saw Sofia Vergara as opposed to Sarah Jessica Parker, there might be a bit of a time difference, but for the mos part, we’re taking equality here, which is really impressive, especially since one can only imagine how egos got in the way when it came to making this picture.

Variety. Another interesting aspect of the film that I liked is how it is not focused solely on the “good looking” adults. We also get some teenage hormonal stuff in there, as well as some old people melodrama. I thought that was a nice touch.

Globes. Any straight guy with a pulse is going to love seeing Sofia Vergara out of that chef’s jacket and into that blue dress. I’m going to leave it at that.

What didn’t I like?

Wrong holiday. At times, it seems as if this film really was trying to be Valentine’s Day II, as opposed to an entirely different entity (technically this isn’t a sequel). They kept pushing the matchmaking, lovey-dovey part so much, the New Year’s aspect got lost until they flashed back to downtown New York as we saw the big ball and all of its technical issues.

Random. So, while most people in this film are the beautiful, well-to-do sorts, we get this one family that picks up Josh Duhamel and they are about as normal as can be. In any other film, they’d be great, but here they seem a bit out of place, and maybe that was the idea. They did add a bit of charm and provided a nice little departure from the norm. Still, I wasn’t in love with them.

Bon Jovi. Nothing against the guy as an actor. I think, especially for musicians, he is pretty good. My issue is why he couldn’t sing his own songs. Don’t give me this crap about the sings and right and all that junk, because Jon, if I’m not mistaken, owns his entire library. It would’ve been nice to get at least a snippet of him singing one of his hits, such as “Blaze of Glory” “Livin’ on a Prayer”, etc.

Sara Jessica Parker. Worst actress of all time. Need I say more?

New Year’s Eve doesn’t stack up to its predecessor. As a matter of fact, the only thing it does manage to achieve is proof that just because you have big name actors in a film, doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be a good one. This film has some moments that shine, but just as soon as those get settled into your brain, something goes wrong, and you remember that this isn’t that great of a film. Do I recommend this? Yes, but only for date night. I can’t see any other reason to willingly want to check this out.

3 out of 5 stars

The Dark Knight Rises

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham City is in a state of peace. Under powers granted by the Dent Act, Commissioner James Gordon has nearly eradicated violent and organized crime. However, he still feels guilty about the cover-up of Harvey Dent’s crimes. He plans to admit to the conspiracy at a function celebrating Dent, but decides that the city is not ready to hear the truth. While following a lead in the abduction of a congressman from the function, Gordon’s speech falls into the hands of Bane. Gordon is shot in the process, and he promotes patrol officer John Blake to detective, allowing Blake to report directly to him.

As Batman has disappeared from Gotham City, so too has Bruce Wayne, locking himself inside Wayne Manor. Wayne Enterprises is crumbling after he invested in a clean energy project designed to harness fusion power, but shut the project down after learning that the core could be modified to become a nuclear weapon. Both Blake — who has deduced Batman’s identity — and Gordon implore Bruce to return as Batman, but Alfred Pennyworth objects out of concern for Bruce’s future and resigns in a failed attempt to dissuade him.

Bane stages an attack on the stock exchange and uses a stolen set of Bruce’s fingerprints to place a number of risky investments in his name, bankrupting Bruce and forcing him to relinquish control of Wayne Enterprises. Correctly suspecting that his business rival, John Daggett, has employed Bane to aid in this aggressive take-over of his company, Bruce entrusts businesswoman Miranda Tate to keep full control out of Daggett’s hands. Bane, however, has other plans, and kills Daggett to take control of his infrastructure.

Following a trail left by cat burglar Selina Kyle, Batman confronts Bane, who says that he has assumed the leadership of the League of Shadows following the death of Ra’s al Ghul. Bane reveals that he was using Daggett’s construction firms to stage a heist on Wayne Enterprises’ Applied Science Division. He steals three Tumblers before crippling Batman and detaining him in a prison from which escape is virtually impossible. The other inmates relate the story of the only person to ever successfully escape from the prison: a child driven by necessity and the sheer force of will, said to be the child of Ra’s al Ghul, leading Batman to believe that this child became Bane.

Bane lures the vast majority of Gotham’s police force underground and sets off a chain of explosions across the city, trapping the officers and turning Gotham City into an isolated city-state. Any attempt to leave the city will result in the detonation of the Wayne Enterprises fusion core, which has been converted into a bomb. Bane publicly reveals the cover-up of Dent’s death, and releases the prisoners locked up under the Dent Act. The rich and powerful are dragged from their homes and put before a show trial presided over by Jonathan Crane. After an attempt to sneak Special Forces soldiers into the city fails, the government blockades Gotham and the city further regresses into a state of anarchy.

Meanwhile, Bruce recovers from his injuries and retrains himself to be Batman. He successfully escapes Bane’s prison to return to Gotham, enlisting Selina, Blake, Miranda, Gordon and Lucius Fox to help liberate the city and stop the fusion bomb before it grows too unstable and explodes. Batman confronts and subdues Bane, but is betrayed and stabbed by Miranda as she reveals herself to be Talia al Ghul. It was she who escaped the prison as a child, before returning with her father and the League of Shadows to rescue Bane, the one person who aided her escape. Talia plans to complete her father’s work in destroying Gotham, while exacting personal vengeance against Bruce for Ra’s death.

Gordon successfully cuts off the bomb’s ability to be remotely detonated while Selina kills Bane, allowing Batman to chase Talia. He tries to force her to take the bomb to the fusion chamber where it can be stabilized, but she remotely floods the chamber. Batman shoots her truck off the road and Talia dies in the resulting crash, confident that the bomb cannot be stopped. Using a helicopter developed by Fox, Batman hauls the bomb beyond the city limits, where it detonates over the ocean and presumably kills him.

In the aftermath of the explosion, Batman is praised as a sacrificial hero and Bruce is believed dead as a casualty of riots. As his estate is divided up, Lucius is shown completing work on the Bat, realizing that Batman may have escaped the detonation after all due to the fact the autopilot was fixed by Bruce many months before. Alfred is also shown holidaying in Italy, where he sees Bruce and Selina having coffee together at a nearby table. It is also revealed that Blake’s legal first name is Robin (comics), as he inherits the Batcave

REVIEW:

When The Dark Knight came out a few years back, everyone seemed to all but bow down and worship it because it was supposedly the best film ever made. I was one of the handful of people who didn’t seem to see it that way. A few friends have wondered if I am going into The Dark Knight Rises with similar disdain. The answer is no, but I do have my reservations.

Before I go any further, I feel I should make a statement about the tragedy that has befallen the small town of Aurora, CO, following the shooting. For those that don’t know, a gunman went in the theater to see this film, and opened fire, effectively killing and wounding quite a few people. I don’t know if this film had anything to do with this happening, but it truly is a shame that it happened. My heart is heavy and mourning for those affected by this tragedy.

So, what did I like?

3D. Or should I say lack of 3D? With seemingly every film released these days being released, made, and/or post converted to 3D, for the sole purpose of making more money, not a better film, mind you, I tip my hat to Christopher Nolan and his decision to not film this in 3D, nor did he cave in and convert it. There are plenty of scenes that may have looked great in 3D, but, at least for me, there hasn’t been anything to justify making that switch. I really can’t tell the difference, other than paying for some rented sunglasses!

Tone. I had one major complaint with the last film, and that it was a little too dark and serious for my taste, which is kind of ironic, since they used the Joker as the main villain. This film, though, lightens things up, and actually feels like a comic book film. Yes, it has moments that are dark, but as a whole, this is a more pleasant viewing experience.

Continuity. Film series these days seem to think about moving forward and making more and more money, but not many of them seem to remember things that went on in their universe. So, you can imagine my delight to see some moments from the previous films as the trilogy comes to climactic conclusion.

Cerebral. Christopher Nolan is no dummy, and neither are his films. He brings this level of cerebral thinking to a villain that, for the most part, isn’t really known for his brains, Bane. The complex plots he hatches are impressive, to say the least, just watch the opening scenes and you’ll be more than aware of what this guy can do.

Bane. Speaking of Bane,  I remember when he debuted in the comics and broke Batman’s back, which led to a replacement Batman for a while, but that’s neither here nor there. I was wondering if they were going to use that in the film, and they sort of did, but not to the full extent, I would have liked, but I guess I shouldn’t complain. At least it was in there, unlike the venom that pumps him up, for instance.

Catwoman. I love Anne Hathway. I have since the first time I saw her in The Princess Diaries. However, I”m not quite sure  she works as Catwoman. That being said, I give her all the credit in the world for making this her own character and not trying to be Julie Newmar, Halle Berry, Lee Meriwether Michelle Pfeiffer, or Eartha Kitt. While this may not be the most memorable Catwoman, she is the closest to the source material in the Nolan universe.

Talia. Marion Cotillard is a vision of loveliness and if you ever seen Talia al Ghul in the comics, then it isn’t very hard to see why she was chosen to play her. I’m not too crazy about how little she was used, but the misdirection was quite impressive. It sure had me fooled!

Action. The action in the flick is awesome, if I do say so myself. They really upped the ante. I literally got goosebumps when they are driving though the tunnel and all of a sudden the light go out and Batman takes out the crooks one by one. The fight with Bane, the chase scenes, oh…and the scene at the stadium. Awesometacular, but the final fight, that was a thing of beauty!

What didn’t I like?

Voices. First we have Christian Bale doing that raspy thing. It didn’t work in the last film, what the hell possessed him to think it would work this time? He really should have gotten the memo. Also in the category of bad voicing is Tom Hardy’s Bane. When the first trailer was released his voice was a raspy and a little hard to understand, but it worked. For some reason, someone decided to change it and give him this Sean Connery-type voice that doesn’t really work. It comes off as cartoonish as Batman’s voice did annoying.

Batsuit. We’re in the third film, you’d think by now the Batsuit would look like something more than some kind of exoskeleton by now. The part that sticks out to me the most, though, is the next. Something didn’t quite look right, I think it was something to do with the neck piece and the way the cowl is made. It gives the illusion that Batman is a sort of bobblehead.

Alfred. He’s only in about 10% of the film, but that whole time he’s bitching and moaning about how he doesn’t want Bruce to be Batman anymore, and then leaves. WTF?!? Why in tarnation did the decide to make Alfred such a whiny little bitch? He’s never been one of those characters that kicks some ass, obviously, but he’s loyal and unquestioning. This just goes against everything Alfred stands for!

Too much Wayne. So, it is eight years after the events of the last film, and Bruce Wayne has hung up the cape and cowl. That’s fine, he has to get back to being Batman. Bane breaks him…same kind of thing. Somewhere in there, though, shouldn’t someone have thought there was a little bit too much Bruce Wayne? No one is interested in Batman because of Bruce Wayne. We got his story in Batman Begins, and that was enough. While I’m thinking about it, how is it that he can grow a fully stylized beard in a desert prison, yet it wasn’t that long ago, when he was in Tibet, that he had a full on, scruffy, shaggy beard.

Villains. In all the Batman films, there has been at least one villain that is a strong presence, be it the Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, Ra’s al Ghul, Mr. Freeze, etc. However, I found that Bane, while physically imposing and such, he just didn’t come off as strong enough to carry the film. Catwoman and Talia were nothing more than villainesses with a purpose, but nothing more. Considering how much they shoved Catwoman down our throats during the whole marketing campaign, I was expecting more.

Ending. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but there is a character reference that just makes you wonder, wouldn’t it have been better to have it happen earlier on in the film, or maybe even at the end of the last film, rather than the last thing you see before the credits roll.

The Dark Knight Rises has apparently pissed some people off that have said anything negative about it. Why else would Rotten Tomatoes have shut down the comment section of their review of this film. Luckily, I don’t have much negative to say about this film. All my complaints are minor. I really did enjoy this film and think it may very well be the best Batman film since Batman (1989). Definitely a fitting end to the trilogy. Sure, some people are going to be disappointed, but that’s because they hold the last film to such impossibly, unwarranted high standards. I highly recommend this film and think you should get off that couch right now and go see it!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

House Party

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on July 18, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!)

While in their high school cafeteria, Peter, also known as “Play” (Christopher “Play” Martin) announces to his friends Christopher aka “Kid” (Reid) and Bilal (Martin Lawrence) that he will be having a party at his house that night, as his parents are on vacation. The reluctant Bilal is to be the DJ. Kid is then involved in an altercation with school bully Stab (Paul Anthony) and his two brothers Pee-Wee and Zilla (Bowlegged Lou and B-Fine). When Kid comes home, he tries to convince his father, “Pop” (Robin Harris) to let him go to the party. At first Kid’s father relents, but soon grounds Kid when a note from Kid’s school informs him of the fight he was in. Rather than miss the party of the year, Kid sneaks out while his sleeping father is watching Dolemite – not realizing that his father woke up just as he closed the door. On his way to the party, Kid runs into Stab and his brothers, and ducks into an Alpha Delta Sigma reunion nearby to get away from them. Crashing the reunion, Kid has the DJ (George Clinton) scratch and mix a few of his old doo wop records so that he can liven the party with a rap, until Stab and the others turn up again. When trying to get away from Stab, he winds up knocking an older man down before attempting to make a run for it. However, Kid and the bullies are caught by the neighborhood police, who humiliate the four teenagers in front of the reunion party attendees before letting them go. Before that, he jumps over a fence to get away, ending up looking in a window where a fat man is having rough sex with his lady, and when he is discovered, Kid runs away, and the three punks are shot at.

When Kid finally makes it to the house party, he finds it in full swing, with attractive girls Sydney (Campbell) and Sharane (Johnson) also in attendance. After some music and dancing, Kid and Play first get into a dance contest with Sidney and Sharane, and later have a quick freestyle battle. Stab and his friends attempt to break up the party, but are arrested a second time by the policemen, who take delight in the prospect of beating them up. Kid’s father eventually makes his way to the party, demanding to know where Kid is. When he doesn’t spot Kid – Kid is upstairs helping Sharane get her coat – Pop vows to wait for the boy at home. Although Kid and Sydney each have an eye for each other, Sharane decides to openly flirt with Kid, much to Sydney’s disgust. The three of them soon leave the party, but when Kid tries to make advances on Sharane, she rebuffs him. Kid then walks Sydney back home, and after some argument the two of them finally calm down and make conversation.

Sydney allows Kid to sneak into her house, and the two are about to have sex in Sydney’s room when she stops him, wanting to know if she is simply his second choice. Kid admits that Sydney was his first choice all along, but they do not do anything when they see that the only condom Kid has is too old to be used. When Sydney’s parents come home – now revealed as one of the couples at the high school reunion, including the man Kid ran into – Sydney hastily helps Kid sneak out of the house. He manages to get out of yet another scrape with Stab and his brothers, and they all end up in a jail cell, where Kid entertains the rest of the men in the cell by rapping, distracting them long enough for Play, Sharane, Bilal, and Sydney to arrive with enough cash to bail him out. Later on, the five friends say their goodnights. Kid and Sydney share a long passionate kiss goodnight. After Play and Bilal drops him off, Kid sneaks in the house and gets undressed. As he is about to get into bed, he looks up only to find Pop holding a belt. The movie then cuts to the credits where Pop whipping Kid can be heard.

REVIEW:

The grand old 90s brought us this gem. Even though it was rated R, I don’t think there was a junior high kid who hadn’t seen this film, even the more prudish and uptight kids saw it, but not me. I was so lost when they would make jokes and references to this. Luckily, though, my best friend felt sorry for me and rented it one, thus allowing to enjoy House Party for the first time. I have to say that after all these years, not much has changed in terms of my overall enjoyment of the film.’

What did I like?

Oh wah oh wah ay. If you’re going to make a film about a couple of rapper friends, why not get an actual rapper duo. A little bit of trivia…this was actually written with DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (Will Smith for those that don’t remember his rapper name), but they turned it down. Thank goodness they did. I don’t think it would have worked as well with them, anyway. The chemistry between Kid & Play is amazing, especially when they’re rapping, obviously. It is no wonder they went on to make 2 more of these and couple of other films together.

Tisha. When I was younger, I had a huge crush on Tisha Campbell. I think this is where it started. She quite the looker, don’t you agree? On top of that, she doesn’t overact, but just plays her part to a ‘T’.

Party time. The actual house party seems like something some drunk high schoolers would plan while their parents are out. There are some films that would feature something like that and it would resemble some kind of college or adult party.

What didn’t work?

Age. At the time this was filmed, the cast was in their late 20s-30s, and yet we are supposed to believe they’re high schoolers. Granted, Kid does look young, but he’s the only one. Hell, those Full Force boys look like they’re professional athletes pumped up on steroids.

Wallet contents. Maybe this is just my love for Tisha Campbell’s hotness coming out, but when they were in the bedroom about to have sex, I was ready to see some of her lovely high yellow skin. Unfortunately, the filmmakers decided to not give Kid a chance with her and have his condo, which he had in his wallet for years, be no good. I have never been a happy camper with this scene! There is a brief consolation prize with her in her panties, though.

Reunion. There is this random reunion party that is happening with George Clinton playing the DJ. I have never really figured out what this had to do with the film, even if it turns out that the guest that keeps Kid and the bullies out of jail ends up being Tisha Campbell’s father.

Racial. In Spike Lee movies, anytime you see a person of non-African American descent (excluding a handful of characters, such as the girl in Jungle Fever), they are automatically racist. This filmmaker does the same thing with these 2 cops who seem to be the token white guys. First of all, they don’t seem like the cops that would have been assigned this neighborhood and second, everytime they talk to someone, something just shy of being racist or racial profiling comes out of their mouths. I had to sit back and say WTF?!? after a couple of times!

House Party is a great, colorful, and fun film that I think a lot of people underestimate and/or have forgotten about. Even with the language and that unfulfilled sex scene (that never really happens, btw), this could actually be watched by the whole family. We need films like this today; the kind that make us forget about the real world and just laugh and have a good ol’ time.

4 out of 5 stars

Student Bodies

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , on July 18, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Student Bodies is about a serial killer who stalks female students at Lamab High School, while at the same time, voyeuristically watching them. The killer calls himself “The Breather,” presumably because the killer is always breathing heavily.

The Breather enjoys stalking victims over the telephone and much like Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th movies, he hates seeing youngsters having sex. The Breather uses many unusual objects to kill his female victims such as a paper clip, a chalkboard eraser, and a horse-head bookend. He kills his male victims by placing them in trash bags alive.

The film itself ends with several twists: initially, it is revealed that the Principal and his elderly female assistant are working as a duo as “The Breather”, even though they are shown at one point in the film in the same room as other characters when the Breather contacts the school to threaten to commit further murders. The film then goes to reveal that the entire film was a fevered dream, caused by the main character Toby being sick and consumed by overwhelming sexual repression. In a send-up of The Wizard of Oz, many characters are revealed to be much the opposite of what they appeared to be for the bulk of the film: the jock-like shop instructor is really the school’s French teacher, the stuck-up would-be prom queen is actually the school nerd (who is given the crown by Toby after she wakes up, due to her kind nature), the two handicapped kids turn out to be non-crippled, and a local ROTC cadet is a hippie.

After being released from the hospital, Toby and her boyfriend are about to have sex, at which point he puts on gloves similar to the ones worn by the Breather and strangles Toby, as he has lost respect for her. However, in a homage to the nightmare-ending of Carrie, Toby’s hands rise up from the freshly dug grave after her funeral to attack her killer.

REVIEW:

A friend of mine know my pension for cheesy, out-there flicks, so he recommended Student Bodies. Usually when someone recommends something, it tends to be a film I know something about, or have at least heard of, but not this time. Going into this, I had no idea what I was getting into, which could be a good thing, right?

What did I like?

Bending genres. Scary Movie may have been the first film to take horror, spoof it, and have a hit, it owes that success to this flick. Without this one coming along, I doubt anyone would have ever thought to mix horror and comedy successfully.

Malvert. The only memorable character in the film is the simple, yet lovable janitor, Malvert. This guy has some of the best scenes in the film, not to mention the best lines, so be sure to keep an eye on him when he pops up.

What didn’t I like?

Ending. The way this film ends, a spoof on a classic film that we all love, just didn’t seem to work. I give them kudos for trying, but something about it didn’t quite gel with the rest of the picture and just flat-out brought this thing even further down than it already was.

Horsehead bookends. So, there is this shop teacher who has his class make horsehead bookends. He seems to be obsessed with the things. You know that point when a joke has gone as far as it can go before it just becomes as annoying as a little kid pestering you? Well, that’s what was going with this. It should have ended long before they finally gave it up.

R. There is a scene in here where a guy sitting in a desk tells the audience that the only way they were going to get an R rating was to say “fuck”. I’m torn on this. I like the tongue-in-cheek, breath the fourth wall aspect, but at the same time, it seemed kind of shoehorned in there.

Let’s not beat around the bush, eh? Student Bodies is not the kind of film you’re going to remember in the next 10 minutes. I honestly cannot think of a reason to waste your time watching this. I think this is best watched late night in college while you’re drinking and studying before an 8 am class.

1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Ocean’s 11

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After being released from prison, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) breaks parole and travels to Los Angeles to meet up with his former partner in crime and close friend Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) to propose a scheme he has in mind. The two go to Las Vegas to pitch the plan to wealthy friend and former casino owner Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould). The plan consists of simultaneously robbing the Bellagio, The Mirage, and the MGM Grand casinos. Reuben’s familiarity with casino security makes him very reluctant to get involved, but when he begins to think of it as a good way to get back at his rival, Terry Benedict (Andy García), who owns the three casinos, Reuben agrees to finance the operation. Because the casinos are required by the Nevada Gaming Commission to have enough cash on hand to cover all their patrons’ bets, the three predict that, on the upcoming night of a highly anticipated boxing match, the Bellagio vault will contain more than $150 million.

Ocean and Ryan recruit eight former colleagues and criminal specialists, Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), a young and talented pick-pocket thief, Frank Catton (Bernie Mac), a casino worker and con man, Virgil and Turk Malloy (Casey Affleck and Scott Caan), a pair of gifted mechanics, Livingston Dell (Eddie Jemison) an electronics and surveillance expert, Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle) an explosives expert, Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner) an elderly con man, and “The Amazing” Yen (Shaobo Qin) an accomplished acrobat. Several of the team members carry out reconnaissance at the Bellagio to learn as much as possible about the security, the routines and behaviors of the casino staff, and the building itself. Others create a precise replica of the vault with which to practice maneuvering through its formidable security systems. During this planning phase, the team discovers that Ocean’s ex-wife, Tess (Julia Roberts), is Benedict’s girlfriend. Ryan urges Ocean to give up on the plan, believing Ocean incapable of sound judgement while Tess is involved, but Ocean refuses.

When the plan is put in motion, Ocean goes to the Bellagio in order to be seen by Benedict, who, as expected, has him locked in a storeroom to be beaten by a bouncer called Bruiser. Ocean, however, knows Bruiser, and he allows Ocean to leave through a ventilation shaft, to meet with his team in the vault. Linus Caldwell poses as a gaming commission agent, and reveals to Benedict that Ramon Escalante is actually Frank Catton, an ex-con. Caldwell and Catton stage a faux confrontation to allow Linus to steal Benedict’s access card. Yen is smuggled into the vault by the Malloy brothers to assist in triggering the explosive from the inside. Saul Bloom sneaks explosives into the casino vault by posing as an international arms dealer needing especially secure safekeeping for his valuables, and then stages a heart attack that was treated by Ryan posing as a doctor.

The team activates a stolen pinch device to temporarily disrupt the casino’s electrical power, allowing them to breach the vault undetected. As Benedict attempts to restore order following the power outage, Ryan anonymously calls him on a cell phone that Ocean had earlier planted in Tess’s coat. Ryan tells him that the vaults are being raided, and that all the money will be destroyed if Benedict does not cooperate in loading half the money into a van waiting outside. Benedict observes video footage of the vault that confirms Ryan’s claims, and complies in moving the money, but orders his men to follow the van after it departs, and calls a S.W.A.T. team to secure the vault. The S.W.A.T. team’s arrival results in a shootout which causes the incineration of the half of the money left in the vault. After assuring Benedict that the casino is secure, the officers depart.

Benedict’s men following the van discover that it is being driven remotely, and that, instead of money, it contains duffel bags full of flyers advertising prostitutes. Terry realizes that the vault video feed was faked as the vault floor in the footage lacked the Bellagio logo, which had recently been installed. A flashback reveals that Ocean had used the vault replica to create the fake video Benedict had seen; the rest of the team posed as S.W.A.T. officers, and took all of the money in the vault when responding to Benedict’s call for police assistance. Benedict then returns to the room where he left Ocean and finds him still there, leaving him with no way to connect Ocean to the theft. As Tess watches via security surveillance, Ocean gets Benedict to say he would give up Tess in exchange for the money. Ocean then says he “knows a guy”, but Benedict tips off the police. Tess leaves Benedict, and exits the hotel just in time to see Ocean arrested for violating parole. When he is released, he is met by Rusty and Tess, and the three drive off, closely followed by Benedict’s bodyguards.

REVIEW:

Have you ever watched some show on TV that references a film which piqued your curiosity? Well, that is what happened. I was watching Robot Chicken the other day, an episode I’ve seen thousands of times, and there was a segment that spoofed this film, Ocean’s 11. So, I decided to see if I can get in on the joke next time it comes on by watching the original source material…well, as original as a remake can be.

What worked?

Chemistry. It isn’t very easy to put together an ensemble cast such as this, give them all decent screentime, and also maintain the chemistry among them. This director did an excellent job of doing these things, in my opinion, which was a crucial part of the film’s formula, if it was to work.

Heist plot. This is a very detailed, convoluted, heist plot that they devise. The filmmaker’s make sure, though, that the audience is well aware of what it is that they are wanting do in a stylish way, rather than some humdrum explanation.

Tone. I really appreciated the light, comedic tone this film had in many moments. We’ve seen plenty of darker action heist films, but to get one that is a bit lighter is a breath of fresh air and a much-needed welcome change.

Soundtrack. As a jazz lover, I really dug the soundtrack to this flick, not to mention the fact that it seemed to be a bit of a reference to the original film which starred the Rat Pack. I wonder what this would have been like than they decided to put it in the correct time period, rather than modern day.

What didn’t work?

Vegas. Although I’ve never been there, I usually love films that are set in Vegas. However, for some reason, I couldn’t help but think this would have been better in some place like Atlantic City or Monaco. Don’t ask me why, but there just was something very un-Vegas about the way this was filmed.

Cameos. There is a scene where Brad Pitt’s character is teaching some celebs (none of which are recognizable, unless you actually watched their shows) to play poker. I’m still trying to wrap my head around why they are even in here. It makes no sense, other than to get them some work.

Ocean’s 11 is not a bad film. I actually liked it. There is no doubt in my mind why so many people hold this film in such high regard. Now, while I’m not quite ready to christen in the best film of all time, it is a decent flick to check out just about any time. I highly recommend it to any and everyone. It is highly likely that you’ll enjoy what you see!

4 out of 5 stars