Archive for August, 2012

Super Fly

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on August 31, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Priest (Ron O’Neal) is an up-and-coming successful cocaine dealer in New York City. On his way to a meeting point in Harlem early one morning he is mugged by two junkies. Priest beats one up and gives chase to the other where he gets his money back and kicks him in an apartment. Afterwards, Fat Freddie and Nate Adams (Priest’s main dealers) turn up at his apartment to make their payments. Fat Freddie is short and doesn’t have his money. Priest warns him that either he is going to get his money by robbing someone or he will put his wife out on “whore’s row”. Priest gives them a gun and the pair go out to rob a Mafia member after they follow him to New Jersey. Priest then goes to meet his partner in crime, Eddie (Carl Lee), who is playing craps downtown, to discuss his future plans. The pair go back to Eddie’s apartment where Priest tells Eddie he wants out of the business but wants to make one last big score and to make one million dollars in four months. Eddie, who tries to talk him out of it as he loves the lifestyle, reluctantly goes along with Priest’s ambitions and the pair agree to make one last big score.

Later that night, Priest and Eddie arrive at Scatter’s restaurant. Scatter (Julius Harris), is a retired drug dealer who was a mentor to Priest. After watching the band play (The Curtis Mayfield Experience), the two go into the kitchen to discuss business with Scatter. Priest tells Scatter his plans and that he needs him to provide him with 30 kilograms of coke.

Scatter, who has retired from the cocaine business, gets frustrated at them and tells them he cannot help. After Eddie angers Scatter, Scatter puts a gun to his head. Scatter then agrees to supply Priest the 30 keys. The trio agree to a meeting time and Priest and Eddie leave to meet Fat Freddie and Nate. Freddie has Priest’s money from the successful holdup and the three of them talk over a beer. Priest accidentally reveals to Freddie and Nate that he is picking up one key of coke from Scatter. Priest then goes home to a romantic evening with his girlfriend, Georgia (Sheila Frazier).

The following day, Freddie is arrested in Harlem for assault and is questioned by narcotics detectives (cocaine was found on him) who beat him into a confession. Freddie rats out Priest and Eddie and tells the police that there are around 50 family members (dealers) and that Priest and Eddie are picking up a key of coke that night from Scatter (who pays off the same detectives). Freddie is released but tries to escape outside the police precinct and is hit by a car and killed. Meanwhile Priest and Georgia are in Central Park discussing Priest’s ambitions in getting out and leaving New York and taking her with him.

Later that night, Priest and Eddie go to pick up one key of coke from Scatter but the detectives are waiting. Alerted, Priest walks away but one of the detectives follows him down a dark street where Priest is ambushed and held at gun point with Eddie who was already arrested. The detectives make a deal with the pair and tell them they can operate but must make payments of $10,000 a month. Priest obviously is uncomfortable with this but Eddie happily agrees saying that ‘the man’ is on our side.

The pair then goes on to sell a kilo of cocaine, which is shown in a classic photo montage scene with “Pusherman” playing. Priest and Eddie arrive in a bar in Harlem to meet a potential buyer. While they are waiting, three black activists approach them who are trying to shake Priest down for money for their cause. Priest demands they leave as he has a meeting and will not be lured into their scam. Their buyer arrives and samples the cocaine and agrees to make a deal and to ‘get it on!’

Priest is at Cynthia’s apartment (his other girlfriend who is from Manhattan and has corporate contacts). Priest is unsure about staying with her and the pair has an argument. Scatter arrives at the apartment with information about ‘The Man’ and asks Priest for $20,000 in cash as he must leave town. After Scatter leaves, he is arrested by the narcotics detectives. The police no longer need Scatter and dispose of him in his Rolls Royce with a large dose of heroin to shut him up. Priest learns of this, and suspecting something is wrong, meets with two mafia contractors in a café to discuss business. Although words are not said, it is clear that Priest is asking them for a contract for murder. This is his insurance policy.

Priest arrives at Eddie’s apartment and discusses the murder of Scatter. Telling him the news that he was killed by the police, Priest suggests foul play and that the police were behind it in order to use him and Eddie to make larger buys and to stay in business. Priest demands his half of the money and wants to get out. Eddie tells him that he can’t do anything else, especially pimpin’ as he doesn’t have the ‘stomach’ for it. Eddie gives him his share and then calls the detectives and tells them that Priest has left with a briefcase full of money. Priest then exchanges his briefcase in the elevator with Georgia who is in disguise. By the time he arrives to his car, the police have arrived. They detain him until the narcotics detectives come and then they all leave. Priest watches Georgia leave with his money knowing it’s safe.

Priest is then escorted to the waterfront where Deputy Commissioner Reardon (Sig Shore) is waiting for him. Reardon, who is running the extortion racket, chastises Priest for wanting to leave the business and tells him he will be “nothing more than another two-bit black junkie.” A fight breaks out and Priest uses his karate skills to overcome the detectives. Reardon then pulls his gun and the fighting stops. Priest then explains he has placed a murder contract on Reardon and his family if any harm comes to him from the police. He tells him that he’s smarter than those other “niggers” and that he has contracted the best killers there are, “White ones, baby! White ones!” Reardon claims that Priest doesn’t have any money for something like that as they open his briefcase. Dirty clothes fall out and Priest claims that doing his laundry will not help. Priest then hops into his customized Cadillac Eldorado and drives off, victorious.


I can’t fully recall where I first heard of Super Fly. It was either in the 80s with “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, during the time when Snoop was first adopting his 70s persona, or when Curtis Mayfield passed away. Either way, aside from Shaft, Super Fly is one of the most iconic films of the 70s.

What is this film about?

Youngblood Priest, who is never actually called “Super Fly” anywhere in the film as far as I can tell, is a cocaine dealer going about usual drug dealer business. He wants to go on to bigger and better things, which isn’t a bad thing, but it does get him into trouble. In his efforts to spread into a bigger market, he enlists his old mentor, Scatter, who had retired from the drug business and is now running a restaurant. Reluctantly, he decides to help Priest and his partners in crime. It is next to impossible to sell drugs and not have the cops come after you, especially in the movies. So, here come the cops, and they want a piece of the action, or they’re taking Priest and his boys to jail. Does Priest stay out of jail? Can he evade “the man”? Will he make a better name for himself and get out of the drug game?

What did I like?

Themes. I do believe this is one of the few films, that I am aware of, that is about drug dealers, but doesn’t glorify them or make them seem like the scum of the other. Instead, they go the route of making him human. Rather you want to admit it or not, drug dealers are, above all, human.

Music. Curtis Mayfield’s smooth, funky groove is all over this thing, and fits it totally. He and his group even appear early on playing a tune in the club/bar.

Length. Sometimes, films like this tend to drag on and be way too long. I’m not saying this one didn’t drag on, but at least it ended within a decent amount of time.

What didn’t I like?

Get to the point. I somehow knew going into this thing that it wasn’t going to be an all out brawl-type flick, but for goodness sakes, they could have done a better job with getting from beginning to end without losing the audience’s interest about halfway though. I know that I was out of it not long after that “Pusherman” montage.

Cops. Is there some written law in 70s and early 80s flicks where the cops and/or military have to be corrupt? It seems like every films I’ve seen from that era involve shady character that are supposed to be the good guys? No wonder no one has trusted the police for such a long time!

Overrated. People gush all over this flick like it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I didn’t hate the flick, but I certainly didn’t see any reason for it be deserving of such high praise. Maybe after I watch it a couple of time, my mind will change, but for now, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Super Fly never really take off the ground in terms of greatness in my book, but I can see how some people would like it. This film is so quintessentially 70s that folks are sure to be drawn to it. However, the film itself is a bit of a bore, if I do say so myself. Do I recommend it? Sure, but only so you can say that you’ve seen it.

3 out of 5 stars



Posted in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1906 London, orphan Peter Pan (Charlie Rowe) is one of a gang of juvenile street thieves assembled by arch crook and ace fencer James “Jimmy” Hook (Rhys Ifans). When Jimmy scores a major job, the ever-willing-to-please Peter talks the other boys into pulling off the heist themselves in order to impress Jimmy. They manage to steal a strange glowing orb from a gallery for a mysterious man. While Peter is off to the side, the boys and Jimmy gather around the orb. When Jimmy gives it a tap, Peter watches a glowing sphere encompass them and they disappear. Believing his friends dead, Peter runs to find the man for whom they stole the orb in order to exact revenge. The man tells Peter that they are still alive, so Peter hits the orb himself to see where they went.

Jimmy and the boys find themselves in a strange land and are quickly captured by a band of pirates led by Captain Elizabeth Bonny (Anna Friel), but Fox manages to escape. The crew tells the gang that they are from the early 18th century and have never aged the entire time they were here. The captain decides that Jimmy is useless and tries to have him thrown to the giant crocodiles, but Jimmy manages to fight off the crew. Having earned their respect, Jimmy is allowed to stay. In the captain’s quarters, Bonny shows Jimmy (whom she calls Hook) a magical mineral dust that comes from the tree spirits that live on the island. The dust gives the power of flight, but she only has a small vial and does not have the knowledge of how to properly use it. She further explains that the tree spirit colony lies in a forest beyond the mountain range and the only passages are protected by a lost Kaw tribe. Jimmy agrees to help the pirates get to the tree spirits.

Peter finds himself in the middle of a strange forest and has a quick reunion with Fox before they see a large swarm of tree spirits flying towards them. Running away, they stumble upon a group of Kaw hunters and are taken blindfolded through the secret passage to the Native village. The boys make friends with the Natives and meet the chief’s daughter, Aaya/Tiger Lily (Q’orianka Kilcher). Peter makes an attempt to rescue the boys and Jimmy; while the boys are safe, Fox is killed when Peter returns for Jimmy, who stays on the ship.

That night Peter has a strange dream in which he sees a hooded figure holding the orb on top of a mountain as meteorites rain down and a tree spirit races towards him. The next day, Peter notices that a scout had painted the scene he witnessed in his dream. Discussing the dream together they are able to work out where the mountain was that the scene took place, and so Peter and Aaya set out in search of the orb which will take them home. Meanwhile, back on the pirate ship, Hook and Bonny have a similar discussion and they too set off in search of the hooded man, hoping he will lead them to the tree spirit colony.

On the way to the mountains, Peter and Aaya stumble upon a city grown entirely out of living trees. While exploring, they find the hooded man who reveals himself to be the mysterious benefactor who hired Jimmy’s crew to steal the orb. He introduces himself as Dr. Fludd (Charles Dance), the royal alchemist for Queen Elizabeth I. He explains that he had discovered a planet which exists, paradoxically, at the edges and center of the universe and due to the strange nature of its position, time stands still. He created the orb as a way of transporting people to the planet, which he calls Neverland. The process of creating the sister to the orb, which can take the user from Neverland back to Earth, was what Peter had witnessed in his dream. The tree spirit from the dream thought that Fludd was in danger and tried to save him, instead imbuing her with “astral energy”. Fludd named the spirit Tinker Bell, who can communicate through telepathy. He built the city as a Utopia where all the greatest scientific minds on Earth can live. While they plot out a way to rescue the rest of the crew from the pirates, they are interrupted by Jimmy, Bonny, and several pirates who enter the city. The two groups fight, Fludd is killed, Aaya is captured, and the pirates take the orb. Peter is stabbed by Bonny and thrown off of a balcony, assumed dead.

The pirates make their way back to the ship, with Jimmy vowing to find a way to get the power of flight before he returns to England. Meanwhile Peter is brought to the tree spirit colony by Tinker Bell and after being healed is immersed in a pool filled with the mineral dust, emerging with the ability to fly. The spirit elders tell him that he was recognized for his innocence and must use his new powers to stop Jimmy from finding the colony.

Jimmy persuades the captain to risk traversing a ravine protected by the Natives, with Aaya as hostage. Halfway across, Peter cuts Aaya loose and flies away with her. Using the gang of boys as bait, Jimmy alone persuades Peter to show him the spirit colony and then they can return together. Once Jimmy reaches the forest, via the Natives’ secret passage, he betrays Peter and reveals that the pirates have been following them. Forcing Peter to show them how it’s done, Bonny immerses herself in the mineral dust pool, but burns up and dies upon emerging since she didn’t have innocence in her heart. Secretly pleased that he is the new captain of the pirates, Jimmy forces Peter to show him the cave where he hid the orb. Peter manages to escape along with the boys. The tree spirits, angry that Peter lead Jimmy to them, try to erase Peter’s memory so that the only thing left will be his childlike innocence, but they are interrupted by Tinker Bell who releases her astral energy on them. Ostracized from her people for that act, Tinker Bell joins up with Peter to try and stop Jimmy, now known as Captain Hook.

The two groups meet in the cave where the orb is hidden. Peter and Hook fight over the orb, during which Hook tells Peter that the picture of the woman in a fob watch he carries is actually Peter’s mother, to whom Hook swore an oath to protect her son, despite his hatred of Peter’s father. While fighting Peter cuts off Hook’s hand. Both the hand and the watch are swallowed by a giant crocodile. Hook manages to knock Peter unconscious and the cave begins to crumble. All the parties quickly escape except for Peter and Tinker Bell. Peter, instead of fleeing, revives Tinker Bell, and the cave collapses.

Some time later, the boys are living with the Natives when they are surprised to see Peter reappear, dressed in a suit and accompanied by Tinker Bell. He tells them that he managed to activate the orb before the cave collapsed and did well for himself stealing some goods in London, which he gives to the boys. When asked why he came back to Neverland, knowing that now there is no way back to Earth, he tells them that there is adventure everywhere in this land.

One of the boys suddenly points out to Peter that his shadow is missing…


We all know the story of Peter Pan, probably because of the classic Disney film or perhaps the play. What we don’t know, though, is how Peter got to Neverland, how Captain Hook lost his hand, etc. Where Hook told us what happened to Peter after the book, Neverland takes us back to Peter’s origins.

What is this about?

The film follows the time when Peter, Jimmy (Hook), and a group of ragtag thieving orphans are struggling to live. In one of their capers, they find and orb and get transported to Neverland. The trip finds them captured by Captain Elizabeth Bonny, a pirate from the 19th century. She tells Hook of magical fairy dust that can be found on the island  and its properties. The dust becomes a point of conflict as it seems that everyone on the island is after it, pirates, indians, and the fairies themselves. In a hidden tree village created by the alchemist, Peter is stabbed and killed by Cpt. Bonny, but he is saved by the fairies. The quest for the dust becomes all-consuming for Cpt. Bonny and it costs her something very dear. Will Peter be able to keep the dust away from the pirates? Will he ever get back to England? What of his relationship with Hook?

What did I like?

Story. I wasn’t clamoring for an origin tale of Peter Pan, but if we have to have one, then this is a pretty good one. Not only do they create their own tale, but they also tie up all the loose ends that lead up to the tale we all know. They even bring in Peter losing his shadow!

SyFy rebound. The last film that SyFy did, Alice, was a waste of time. It came off as one of those films that changed stuff just to change it. Nothing was really changed in this one, except maybe that Neverland is apparently in another dimension. Then again, it has never really been determined where Neverland ever was, other first star on the right and straight on to morning, Either way,  I’m glad Syfy rebounded with this one. It may even be better than Tin Man, which begs to question…why can’t all of their films be of this caliber?

Tone. These days, it seems as if everything is taking a dark tone, but this flick, which has its moments of darkness, doesn’t fall into that trap. Sure, it isn’t as light-hearted as you would expect a Peter Pan film to be, but that fun and fancy free feeling is there.

Smee. Kudos to Bob Hoskins reprising his role as Smee.

What didn’t I like?

Crocodile. Ok, so this film is obviously more grounded in reality than we want to give it credit for, but I have to question why the crocodile is giant and has 8 legs. The giant part I’m fine with, but why the multi- legism? What ever was going through their mind with that?

Fairies. I’ve never been a fan of the metallic paint look, so you can imagine what I think of these fairies’ look. I don’t understand why they had to be silver Just slap some wings on them and be done with it!

Hook. I can’t say that I care for this origin of Captain Hook. Why did they feel the need to make him a friend/surrogate father of Peter’s, not to mention that whole mother angle they shoehorn in at the end. It just didn’t work for me. Here’s an idea…just let him be a pirate, the way we all know him!

Neverland is probably one of the best films no one will ever see. I say that because SyFy isn’t know for having the best films. Hell, if not for Being Human and Lost Girl, and a random Greatest American Hero marathon, I would not even know this existed. I don’t exactly tune in to that station very often, and I’m sure many people do the same. Do I recommend this film? Yes, but keep in mind, it isn’t as good as Peter Pan, but it is worth checking out, if you get the chance.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Stepford Wives (1975)

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Joanna Eberhart (Katharine Ross) is a young wife who moves with her husband Walter (Peter Masterson) and two children from New York City to the idyllic Connecticut suburb of Stepford. Loneliness quickly sets in as Joanna, a mildly rebellious aspiring photographer, finds the women in town all look great and are obsessed with housework, but have few intellectual interests. The men all belong to the clubbish Stepford Men’s Association, which Walter joins to Joanna’s dismay. Neighbor Carol Van Sant’s (Nanette Newman) sexually submissive behavior to her husband Ted, and her odd, repetitive behavior after a car accident also strike Joanna as unusual.

Things start to look up when she makes friends with another newcomer to town, sloppy, irrepressible Bobbie Markowe (Paula Prentiss). Along with glossy trophy wife Charmaine Wimperis (Tina Louise), they organize a Women’s Lib consciousness raising session, but the meeting is a failure when the other wives hijack the meeting with cleaning concerns. Joanna is also unimpressed by the boorish Men’s Club members, including intimidating president Dale “Diz” Coba (Patrick O’Neal); stealthily, they collect information on Joanna including her picture, her voice, and other personal details. When Charmaine turns overnight from a languid, self-absorbed tennis fan into an industrious, devoted wife, Joanna and Bobbie start investigating, with ever-increasing concern, the reason behind the submissive and bland behavior of the other wives, especially when they learn they were once quite supportive of liberal social policies.

Spooked, Bobbie and Joanna start house hunting in other towns, and later, Joanna wins a prestigious contract with a photo gallery with some photographs of their respective children. When she excitedly tells Bobbie her good news, Joanna is shocked to find her freewheeling and liberal friend has abruptly changed into another clean, conservative housewife, with no intention of moving from town.

Joanna panics and, at Walter’s insistence, visits a psychiatrist to whom she voices her belief that all the men in the town are in a conspiracy of somehow changing the women. The psychiatrist recommends she leave town until she feels safe, but when Joanna returns home, the children are missing. The marriage devolves into domestic violence when Joanna and Walter get into a physical scuffle. In an attempt to find her children, she hypothesizes Bobbie may be caring for them. Joanna, still mystified by Bobbie’s behavior, is desperate to prove her humanity but intuitively stabs Bobbie with a kitchen knife. But Bobbie doesn’t bleed or suffer, instead going into a loop of odd mechanical behavior, thus revealing she is a robot.

Despite feeling she may be the next victim, Joanna sneaks into the mansion which houses the Men’s Association to find her children. There, she finds the mastermind of the whole operation, Dale “Diz” Coba, and eventually her own robot-duplicate. Joanna is shocked into paralysis when she witnesses its soulless, black, empty eyes. It is then suggested that the Joanna-duplicate strangles the real Joanna. In the final scene, the duplicate is seen placidly purchasing groceries at the local supermarket, along with the other “wives” all wearing similar long dresses, large hats and saying little more than hello to each other. The final shot focuses on Joanna’s now-finished eyes. During the closing credits still pics show a very cheerful Walter along with his children in the back the station wagon picking up his “stepford wife” from the supermarket


I detest remakes, as we all know. So, when I found out that The Stepford Wives was actually a remake of a 1975 film of the same name, immediately I went on a mad search to find it. Well,  I shouldn’t say immediately, but I did watch it again recently resulting in a renewed interest. So, which version did I find more intriguing?

What is this film about?

Based on the 1972 novel of the same name, this version is more of a thriller than a comedy, but the basic plot of Joanna moving from New York City to Stepford, Connecticut, remains the same. Once she and her family get settled in, she begins to feel more and more lonely. In town, she notices that nearly all of the women act strangely submissive to their husbands. A trait that wasn’t very common in the this era of female empowerment and women’s liberation. After some digging, and meeting a new friend, Bobbie, Joanna learns that all the housewives used to be major players in the women’s liberation movement. This causes her to start snooping even further to find out more about what is going on. She insists to her husband tha they must move before she becomes the next victim. Not soon after, Bobbie starts acting strangely. Joanna sneaks into the Men’s Association, where she finds the mastermind behind the whole scheme and her unfinished replacement self. Does she stop the plot or find herself erased from existence?

What did I like?

Faithful. Having not read the novel, I can’t really comment on whether this is a faithful retelling or not, but from what I’ve heard, it is much closer than the 2004 version. The thriller tone seems to work better, if you ask me.

Ginger. She’s not in it very long, but Ginger from Gilligan’s Island, Tina Louise, makes a nice appearance, though not as glamorous as we’ve become accustomed to seeing her.

Creepy drawings. In a fairly early scene, we see the men of Stepford meeting Walter and Joanna. While they are talking, some guy is drawing Joanna, presumably for reference in creating her robot self. It is rather creepy seeing him do it, though.

What didn’t I like?

Casting. Don’t get me wrong, these women are beautiful by 1970s standards, but the wives, as far as I know, have always been described as model types. With the exception of the rock hard abs and flat tummies that Joanna, Bobby, and almost all the rest of the wives have, I really don’t see them as models, so it was rather a failure in casting.

Women’s liberation. I know this was the 70s, but there was too much emphasis placed on the women’s liberation front. They could have come up with something else to focus on.

Down time. About the midway point, Joanna and Bobbie are going around talking to the women of Stepford. This could have very well been done in montage form, but instead we were privy, or should I say forced, to sit through and watch these boring conversations that just dragged the film down.

The Stepford Wives is a decent flick, but not very entertaining. I do believe that this version’s tone and ending do it justice more than the remake. However, the remake is good for those that prefer the comedic version of this. Personally, I think the other version is more interesting, but this one has more substance. Take your pick which one is more to your liking.

3 out of 5 stars

John Carter

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The plot of John Carter differs wildly from that of Burroughs’ first Barsoom novel, A Princess of Mars, on which it supposedly is based. After the sudden “death” of John Carter, a former American Civil War Confederate Army captain, his nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs (whom Carter called “Ned”) attends the funeral. As per Carter’s instructions, the body is put in a tomb that can be unlocked only from the inside; his attorney hands over Carter’s personal journal for Ned to read, in the hope of finding clues explaining Carter’s reason of death.

The film flashes back to the Arizona Territory, where Union Colonel Powell arrests Carter; Powell, knowing about Carter’s military background, wants his help in fighting the Apache. However, Carter escapes, with the guards in pursuit. In an ensuing chase both Carter and Powell find themselves in a cave in which Carter had been looking for gold. A Thern appears in the cave at that moment; Carter kills him and, with the help of his medallion, is unknowingly transported to Barsoom (Mars). There, because of his different bone density and planet’s low gravity, Carter is able to jump high and perform feats of incredible strength. He is captured by the Green Martian Tharks and their Jeddak (king) Tars Tarkas.

Elsewhere on Barsoom, the Red Martian cities of Helium and Zodanga have been at war for a thousand years. Sab Than, Jeddak of Zodanga, armed with a special weapon obtained from the Therns, proposes a cease-fire and an end to the war by marrying the Princess of Helium, Dejah Thoris. The Princess escapes and is saved by Carter. Carter, Dejah, and Tarkas’ daughter Sola embark on a quest to get to the end of a sacred river to find a way for Carter to get back home. There they find information about the ninth ray, a means of utilizing infinite energy and also the key to understand how the medallion works, but they are attacked by the Thern leader Matai Shang and his minions, the Green Men of Warhoon. After the attack, Carter is captured and taken back with Dejah while Sola is able to escape. The demoralized Dejah grudgingly agrees to marry Sab Than, then gives Carter his medallion and tells him to go back to Earth. Carter decides to stay and is captured by Shang, who tells him the purpose of Therns and how they manipulate the civilizations on different planets. Carter is able to make an escape and he and Sola go back to the Tharks and ask for their help. There they discover Tarkas has been overthrown by Tal Hajus. Tarkas, Carter, and Sola are put on trial in a gladiatorial battle with two vicious ape-like creatures. After defeating them and killing Hajus, Carter becomes the leader of the Tharks.

The Thark army charges on Helium and defeats the Zodangan army by killing Sab Than. Carter becomes prince of Helium by marrying Dejah. On their first night, Carter decides to stay forever on Mars and throws away his medallion. Seizing this opportunity, Shang banishes him back to Earth. Carter then embarks in a long quest, looking for clues of the Therns’ presence on Earth and hoping to find one of their medallions; after several years he appears to die suddenly and asks for unusual funeral arrangements—consistent with his having found a medallion, since his return to Mars would leave his Earth body in a coma-like state. He makes Ned his protector, giving him clues about how to open the tomb. The film reverts to the present, where Ned runs back to Carter’s tomb and opens it only to find it empty. Matai Shang, in the form of a butler, suddenly appears, having followed Ned as well, but as he prepares to kill Ned, Carter appears and kills him, then tells Ned that he never found a medallion; instead, he made a scheme to lure Shang out of hiding. Carter takes his medallion, whispers the code, and is finally transported back to Barsoom.


One of the biggest flops of the year was John Carter. I was actually a little excited to see this when it was released in theaters, but just didn’t have the time. Ever since its short time in theaters, I have been curious as to why it flopped, and flopped so hard. Watching it this evening, I’m still curious.

What’s this about?

Loosely based on the series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the film introduces us to a civil war officer, John Carter, as he is making arrangements for his pending death. Next thing we know, the film flashes back to the events that lead up to this point in time. Big surprise, Carter is the kind to start an altercation. This leads to him angering the wrong people and  subsequently ending un on Barsoon (Mars), but he doesn’t know this…yet. When he wakes up, he does not know that his bone density allows him to jump higher and farther, not to mention have immense strength. He is discovered by the green martians and taken back to their camp. While there, he is eventually taken in as one of them, and given a tribal name. Elsewhere on the planet, things are going on which will eventually affect Carter and the green Martians, namely the truce between the cities of Helium and Zodanga, thanks to the forced wedding of princess Dejah and Sab Than. As you can guess, the princess is the headstrong type who does not want to be married to this guy. This leads to her eventually coming across Carter, who explains where he’s from and how he got there. After some time the two fall in love, just in time for the princess to marry Sab Than. Can John Carter stop the wedding, save Mars, and get back to his planet?

What did I like?

Throwback. This film harkens back to those classic sci-fi flicks of yesteryear. As a matter of fact, if you replace all the CGI with the far superior stop-motion, then this would have been that much better!

Kitsch. I really feel sorry for this guy. X-Men Origins: Wolverine was panned by critics and fans alike (I liked it, though), Savages didn’t do as well as everyone thought it would, Battleship is probably going to go down as the year’s biggest flop, and this film just didn’t seem to catch on with anyone. Personally, I found his character a bit unrelatable, but that was more to do with the writing than his acting. Kudos to him for giving a good effort and not phoning it in.

Mars. I have not read these books, so I don’t know how Burroughs described Mars, but I am glad to see that they didn’t make it some random dusty red planet that we’ve seen oh so many times. I do believe this is the first time that Mars has been shown to have greenery, water, and whatnot…not counting Futurama, of course.

What didn’t I like?

Princess. I’ve said this in previous film reviews, but I have an issue with princesses that are headstrong and such. I love Lynn Collins. She is drop dead gorgeous! As a princess, she is perfectly cast, but I would have liked for her to have been more of a damsel in distress. It just seems to me that would have fit the tone of this film better. Especially, since Sola, the exiled green martian, was playing the role of the strong female.

Language liquid. Early on, Carter drinks some random liquid that lets him understand the language. I can’t help but wonder if this was done just to find a quick way to get around the language issue. They might as well have just started everyone speaking English in the first place. It would have worked so much better!

Thern mystery. Somehow I wasn’t buying this whole mystery of the Therns. The way they filmed Mark Strong talking to Sab Than, it seemed as if he was talking to himself. Tell me why it is that no one thought he was losing his mind, then? In just about anything else, that would have been the case, and you know it!

John Carter isn’t as bad as people would have you believe. There are moments that bring to mind Return of the Jedi, what with the desert scenery, the creatures, and the obvious score hints from the holy trilogy. With that said, I enjoyed this film, much more than I expected I would. It just goes to show you that critics and other people don’t know what you’re going to like or not. So, why not give this a chance sometime. You never know, you may actually find yourself enjoying it!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Wrath of the Titans

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ten years after defeating the Kraken, Perseus (Sam Worthington), the demigod son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), now lives as a fisherman with his 10-year-old son, Helius (John Bell) and has been widowed by the death of Io. One night, Perseus is visited by Zeus, who tells him that the powers of the gods are fading and the walls of the underworld prison of Tartarus are breaking due to the lack of devotion from humans. Zeus states they will need armies to combat the threat, but Perseus shows little interest and refuses to get involved.

Afterwards, Zeus travels to Tartarus to meet with his brothers Hades (Ralph Fiennes), Poseidon (Danny Huston), and his son Ares (Edgar Ramirez). He tells Hades they must forget the past and unite to rebuild Tartarus’ walls, but Hades rejects his offer and orders his minions to attack. They fatally injure Poseidon, and Ares betrays Zeus by taking him prisoner and stealing his Thunderbolt. In an exchange to remain immortal and powerful, Hades and Ares plan to drain Zeus’ divine power to revive Kronos, the father of Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. They capture and hold Zeus prisoner in chains and the walls of Tartarus break, unleashing monsters into the world.

After slaying a Chimera that attacks his village, Perseus takes Helius to the Mount of Idols, so they can speak to Zeus, but the dying Poseidon arrives instead. He informs Perseus that Hades and Ares are holding Zeus in Tartarus, and tells him to meet with his demigod son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) to find the fallen god Hephaestus, who knows the way into Tartarus. Poseidon then gives Perseus his Trident before succumbing to his injuries and crumbling into dust. Perseus flies on Pegasus to the campsite of Queen Andromeda’s army. The queen is the princess Perseus saved a decade ago; Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) has imprisoned Agenor for stealing crown jewels, but Perseus negotiates his release by asking the reluctant Agenor to come along in their plan.

Perseus, Andromeda, Agenor, and a group of soldiers set out at sea to find Hephaestus, with Agenor explaining that Hephaestus created the three great weapons that Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon wield: Zeus’ Thunderbolt, Hades’ Pitchfork, and Poseidon’s Trident, and that together they form the Spear of Triam, the only weapon that can defeat Kronos. Agenor uses Poseidon’s trident to direct the boat to Hephaestus’s island, where they encounter three Cyclopes: Brontes, Steropes, and Arges, who attack them. When Perseus shows them the trident, they lead the group to Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), the smith god. He explains that he has a map to navigate the path though a deathly long labyrinth leading deep into Tartarus. He leads them to the door to the Labyrinth, where they are attacked by Ares, who found them after one of the soldiers, Korrina (Lily James), prayed to him. Ares is jealous of Perseus’ honor from his own father Zeus and kills all of the soldiers while Hephaestus opens the door and then sacrifices himself so that Perseus, Andromeda, and Agenor can enter the door before it closes.

Agenor tries to use the map to direct them, but the Labyrinth continually shifts and at one point nearly crushes them. Perseus gets cut off from the group and encounters and kills the Minotaur before finding that he is in the exit of the labyrinth to Tartarus. Eventually, the group manages to reunite and find Kronos becoming powerful. Meanwhile, Zeus has been almost entirely drained of power as Kronos starts to awaken. Zeus apologizes to Hades for banishing him to the Underworld and asks his forgiveness, as he has forgiven Hades for his actions. Though initially surprised, Hades has a change of heart and decides to help Zeus and stop Kronos, but Ares is still angry with his father and Perseus intervenes. Perseus arrives and uses the Trident to free Zeus. As they are escaping, Ares throws the Pitchfork into Zeus’s back, thus mortally wounding Zeus. To escape the charging Kronos, Perseus and Zeus use their powers to teleport them back to the Tyrene pass, where battle plans are made.

Perseus, Andromeda and Agenor carry a weakened Zeus down to the base of the mountain where Andromeda’s army is gathered. Although the Trident and Pitchfork are now in his possession, Perseus still needs the Thunderbolt from Ares to have the power to defeat Kronos. Perseus intentionally prays to Ares, challenging his brother to a final fight at the Temple of the Gods, which Ares happily accepts.

At the temple, Perseus finds out Ares has kidnapped Helius, who was brought to watch Perseus die in the fight. Ares easily overpowers Perseus, before pushing him into the ruins in the temple, but is distracted when Helius secretly tries to challenge him by pointing a sword at him, giving Perseus the chance to strike back anew. After a struggle, Perseus kills Ares with the Thunderbolt and combines the gods’ weapons into the Spear of Triam.

Meanwhile, Andromeda’s army is overwhelmed by Kronos’ army of demonic Makhai, but Hades arrives to revive Zeus. He and Hades reconcile, and Hades shares some of his immortality with Zeus, making Hades older and Zeus younger, and together they use what power they have left to defeat the Tartarian army. Kronos then appears and begins to attack the human army with lava and fire. Zeus and Hades attack him, giving Perseus the opportunity to fly down into Kronos’ throat and pierce the weapon into his heart. Kronos lets out one last blast to try to kill the two, but Zeus jumps into the way, pushes Hades and takes the explosion.

Perseus meets with Zeus and Hades; a fatally wounded Zeus advises Perseus to use his power wisely, stating that the time of the gods is over. He thanks Perseus for his bravery before finally turning to dust. Hades is now mortal, his powers spent, though he states he might be better off as such before heading off to parts unknown. Perseus reunites with Andromeda and kisses her as they prepare for possible Titan reprisal. Knowing that there are still monsters to fight, Perseus decides to train Helius to be a soldier and build a new kingdom


I don’t know who it was that decided to start this remake fad, but they need to be tortured to the point they are teetering on death! I’m talking medieval stuff, people! What brings on these dark thoughts? Well, Wrath of the Titans is a sequel to a remake of one of the greatest sword and sandal flicks I’ve seen. A sequel that no one was really clamoring for, mind you, and it was still made…in 3D!!!

What is this about?

The film picks up about 10 years after the previous film. Perseus is now living the life of a simple fisherman with his son. One day he is visited by his father, Zeus, who tells him that Hades is trying to release the Titans and he needs his, along with another demigod, Agenor, son of Poseidon, to stop them. As one can guess, Perseus is none too thrilled about this offer and refuses to get involved until a Chimera attacks his village. With the aid of Andromeda and her men, Perseus tracks down Agenor and they head off to see Hephaestus in an attempt to find a way into Tartarus. Hephaestus tells them that the only way in is through the nigh unsolvable labyrinth, which he built with only one way out. When they reach Hades, they free Zeus, but are attacked by Hades, who is now consumed with carrying out the plan Hades started. Will Perseus and company be able to stop him?

What did I like?

Action. In Clash of the Titans (2010), they seemed to leave out all the action in favor of boring dialogue. This time around, they learned from their mistakes and upped the ante. The added emphasis on the action really made this much more enjoyable.

Bubo. In the last film, Bubo, the owl from the original Clash of the Titans, made a quick cameo, but the character was replaced by Gemma Arterton’s Io. She didn’t come back for this one, but Bubo makes a couple of appearances which I found as a nice gesture of respect towards the original, especially since this is a film that, quite frankly, has nothing to do with the original anymore.

Build-up. The way the filmmakers built up Kronos, not really revealing him until the last act made it that more impactful when he does appear. Couple that with his demonic minions (the things you saw wrecking havoc in the trailer) and the obvious degeneration of the world at the time and I was sold.

What didn’t I like.

Perseus. Sam Worthington may have taken a few acting lessons since the last film, but he still has a way to go before he can stop seeming so wooden on the screen. Even in the tender moments with his son and Zeus, I didn’t feel any different emotions from him that what I felt when he was fighting enemies or dodging the dangers of the labyrinth.

Hephaestus. Kudos for making him the slightly schizophrenic smith god that we know him to be. However, I have to say casting Bill Nighy and then killing him off so quickly was quite pointless.

Comic relief. I will never complain about the use of comic relief. We can always use a laugh now and then. They brought in some comedy this time around and it works, but the characters that bring in this comedy aren’t used as well as they could be and Perseus, in my opinion, should not be cracking jokes. It just doesn’t fit his personality.

Wrath of the Titans is a much improved outing than its predecessor. More action and less drama is the formula to use in this sword and sandal genre. Who ever it was that made the first film should have known that. No, this isn’t a great picture, but I would be more willing to see this again than its predecessor. Neither compares to the original, though. Do I recommend it? Sure, it is a good action flick.

3  1/3 out of 5 stars

The Dictator

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

For years, the North African Republic of Wadiya (pictured on maps in the location of Eritrea) has been ruled by Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen), a childish, lecherous, misogynous, anti-western and antisemitic despot who surrounds himself with female bodyguards, refuses to allow Wadiyan oil to be sold internationally and is working on developing nuclear weapons. After the United Nations Security Council resolves to intervene militarily, Aladeen travels to the UN Headquarters in New York City to address the council. Shortly after arriving, he is kidnapped by Clayton (John C. Reilly), a hitman hired by his treacherous uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley). Tamir then replaces Aladeen with a mentally-challenged political decoy named Efawadh, whom he intends to manipulate into signing a document democratizing Wadiya and opening the country’s oil fields for business. Aladeen escapes after Clayton accidentally burns himself to death, but his huge beard has been shaved off by Clayton, making him practically unrecognizable. He encounters activist Zoey (Anna Faris), who offers him a job at her alternative lifestyle co-op. Aladeen refuses the offer and travels to New York’s “Little Wadiya”, located near the Marcy Avenue station, which is populated by refugees from his country. There, he encounters “Nuclear” Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas), the former chief of Wadiya’s nuclear weapons program and head procurer of women, whom Aladeen thought he had previously executed. Nadal explains that Wadiyan rebels infiltrated his intelligence unit, sending into exile all the people he had ordered to be executed.

Wanting his old job back, Nadal promises to help Aladeen thwart Tamir’s plot and regain his position as ‘rightful’ dictator, on condition that Aladeen makes him head of Wadiya’s W.M.D. program again. Aladeen agrees and accepts Zoey’s job offer, as she is catering at the hotel where the signing is to occur. Aladeen falls in love with Zoey after she refuses his sexual advances and teaches him how to masturbate. Turning around Zoey’s struggling business, Aladeen begins imposing strict schedules on everyone, forming a personality cult around Zoey and intimidating an inspector into giving the store a good review. However, Aladeen’s relationship with Zoey becomes strained after he reveals his true self. After acquiring a new beard taken from a corpse, Aladeen infiltrates the hotel and incapacitates Efawadh. At the signing ceremony, he tears up Tamir’s document in front of the UN delegation, and holds an impassioned speech praising the virtues of dictatorship, drawing unintended parallels to current issues within the United States. However, upon seeing Zoey in the room, he declares his love for her and, knowing Zoey’s strongly-held views, vows to democratize his country and open up Wadiya’s oil fields for business, but in a way where the general populace will benefit. Angry with Aladeen staying in power, Tamir attempts to assassinate him but Efawadh jumps in front of the bullet and survives as “he was only shot in the brain”.

A year later, Wadiya holds its first democratic elections, although they are rigged in favor of Aladeen. Afterwards, he marries Zoey, but is shocked when she crushes a glass and reveals herself to be Jewish. Scenes during the credits show Aladeen’s convoy, now consisting of eco-friendly cars, visiting a reinstated Nadal, and later Zoey revealing in a television interview that she is pregnant with the couple’s first child. Aladeen responds to the news by asking if Zoey is having “a boy or an abortion”.


Sacha Baron Cohen has made a name for himself playing over-the-top characters that test the limits and boundaries of what we, as a society, perceive to be “politically correct.” The Dictator continues that tradition but, this time, it is in a scripted form, as opposed to the mockumentary format used in his other films.

What is this about?

Supreme ruler Aladeen (he has like 4 or 5 different titles), has been in control of the small country of Wadiya since he was 16. During this time, he has accumulated a massive amount of oil wealth, not of his own volition, mind you, and had numerous people executed.  The day comes when the U.N. Security Council insists he appear before them in person and explain his warmongering actions. On his trip to the U.S., he is kidnapped and his beard, the thing that he is most recognized for, is shaved off.

Aladeen is then forced to wonder the streets of New York as his uncle/advisor and political decoy (who is beyond stupid) run things. Aladeen must find a way to stop his uncle and regain his throne and, at the same time, avoid any run-ins with the law, because racial profiling is very prevalent in (this version) New York City.

What did I like?

Premise. It seems like we are afraid to laugh at anything  to do with the middle east, but will jump at the chance to think of them as dark, evil people. Just because a select group of them attacked out buildings is no reason to pigeon-hole them all in the same stereotype, especially when there ar much better stereotypes!

Same, but different. It is always hard to impersonate someone, or at least it looks that way, but to play a character who is supposed to be impersonating your character is just short of impressive, if I do say so myself.

Use what you go. There have been tons of jokes about Megan Fox and her promiscuity, as it were. Well, early on, there is a scene with her that plays up her sexuality. It is the kind of scene that makes you jealous of Cohen (in real life he’s married to Isla Fischer, and now he gets to be in bed with Fox!)

What didn’t I like?

Predictability. Lord have mercy was this thing predictable. It was quite obvious what was going to happen. The uncle was going to betray him (more on that in a bit), he was going to meet some chick who was going to change him and they end up falling in love, blah, blah, blah. Come on people, change something up!

Sir Ben. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Sir Ben Kingsley, but I have to question his roles lately. Not everything is going to be equal to his Oscar-winning Ghandi role, but he seems to be stuck in a rut of playing the evil uncle, as in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and these middle eastern characters.

Sandler. Maybe it was just me, but I felt that the character of Efawdh was nothing more than Cohen’s impersonation of Adam Sandler. At times, I thought it was Sandler. Maybe the two of them should star in a film together, especially since Sandler’s middle eastern comedy, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, was far superior to this. Maybe Cohen could take some pointers.

Anna. I love Anna Faris. In most of her films since about 2007 or so, she has been looking hot as hell, and proven that she’s a genuine comedic talent. This was a step back to her Scary Movie franchise days, though. She just wasn’t funny, they uglified her, and in a pivotal scene made her change Aladeen’s ways just by a look. *SIGH* she deserved so much better than this.

The Dictator is a valiant attempt to make light of some topics we don’t often joke about. For that, I give it all the praise in the world. However, the film itself doesn’t deliver on the comedic genius that is Cohen.Honestly, I do think that has this have been a mockumentary, it might have been better. Someone said it in another review best. The guy is too recognizable for these kind of characters to work, anymore, though. On top of that, there is the false advertising we get from the trailer. If you will recall, the scene with John C. Reilly is heavily featured in the trailer, but it is just one scene in the film. I really hate it when filmmakers do that. In the end, though, this is still a funny flick, just not something you should be going out of your way to see. Watch at our own risk.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Posted in Action/Adventure, Family, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After going to the center of the earth with his uncle when he was 13 years old, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) is caught by police after a brief chase on his dirtbike ending up in a pool. His step father Hank Parsons (Dwayne Johnson) picks him up and takes him home. He later discovers that Sean had broken into a satellite research center in order to boost the signal of a code he’d received by who he suspects is fellow family “Vernian” Alexander Anderson, Sean’s grandfather who had been missing for two years. Wanting to bond with his stepson, Hank helps Sean decipher the code of Verne characters which lead to three books; Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels and Verne’s own Mysterious Island. Using the book’s individual island maps, Hank suspects they are books of the same island and uses a back light in order to make them all one completed land mass with the coordinates to its location. Despite Sean’s objections to his step father’s interference, Hank manages to convince his mother Liz to let the both of them go in search of the island. They arrive in Palau where their need of transportation to this dangerous part of the ocean attracts a helicopter tourism guide Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his beautiful daughter Kalani (Vanessa Hudgens) who Sean develops an immediate crush on. They agree to fly them out to the island for $3000, but the helicopter gets caught in major vortex winds and they crash, waking up on the island.

Crossing into the island, they discover one of the laws of the Mysterious Island that all things big are small, and all things small are gigantic (inspiring Gulliver’s Travels). After coming across a massive lizard when they come across her egg clutch, they are rescued by Alexander (Michael Caine) who takes them to a large hut he’d built from the wreckage of the ship that brought him to the island. He has a radio, but due to the positioning of the communications satellite it would be two weeks before they could call for help. The next morning, Alexander leads the party to the lost city of Atlantis which is usually submerged into the ocean, and he had calculated that the island sinks once every 140 years. However, the evidence that Hank sees leads him to prove that the calculations are wrong and the island will sink in a couple of days. Their only means of salvation seems to be the legendary Nautilus, Captain Nemo’s submarine, hidden somewhere on the island. Kailani enters Nemo’s crypt and takes his journal, which has the whereabouts of the ship just off one of the coasts in a cave. They mount giant bees in order to fly over a high ridge and make up time, but encounter large birds that try to devour the bees. Sean crashes and dislocates his ankle, which slows the party down considerably. The next morning, the water has risen exponentially and Alexander deduces that the island will sink in a matter of hours, not days. Gabato is missing, having gone toward the island’s golden volcano (which was the inspiration for Treasure Island) in search for the funds to give his daughter a better life. While Alexander and Kailani go after him, Sean and Hank head for the coast. Due to the water rising, Sean and Hank make makeshift oxygen tanks and dive down a hundred feet in order to obtain the Nautilus and are nearly killed by a vicious giant electric eel. They are unable to power the ship however because the vessel’s batteries being over 100 years old have run down. They find a way to power the submarine from the electric eel.

Meanwhile Kailani and Alexander find Gabato and convince him to escape with them instead of trying for the golden volcano. They head toward the shore as the island begins to suddenly and violently rip itself apart. Hank and Sean use a harpoon to get an electrical jump start from the eel swarming around them and they are able to power the machine, just in time to pick up the others who had fallen into the water. Gabato pilots the submarine out of harm’s way while Sean and Hank fire torpedoes into the path of falling island debris. As they clear the danger, Alexander finally calls Hank by his preferred name, as up to that point he only called him “Henry” and the family makes up. And Kailani finally kisses Sean for his bravery, proving a mutual attraction to him despite not “Pec Popping” as his step father had suggested several times. Later, Kailani and Gabato are well off, Gabato having now the most popular tourist attraction in the island; being the Nautilus, and Kailani goes to visit Sean on his birthday. While they are celebrating, Alexander shows up with a book for Sean’s birthday present. He opens it to find From the Earth to the Moon hinting at another adventure which Liz hesitantly agrees to, because after all it’s “just a trip to the moon.”


I really wish this film was made and released in the heyday of (real) 3D, as opposed to this cash grab gimmick stuff we have today. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is very reminiscent of those old sci-fi flicks from back in the day, and just goes to show you that not everything has to be about shock comedy, sex, or dark and violent stuff.

What is this about?

Picking up a few years after Journey to the Center of the Earth, we now find Sean living with his mother, as his dad has seemingly disappeared. Now a rebellious teen, he breaks into a research center so that he can receive a message from someone, who turns out to be his grandfather, broadcasting from the famed (in Jules Verne circles) mysterious island. After breaking the code through the use of Navy codebreaking skills, he sets off to Hawaii in search of the island. Sean and Hank hire a pilot to take them, but they get caught up in freak weather and accidentally land on the island, but crash their helicopter and are subsequently trapped. In the search fora way off the island, they meet Sean’s grandfather, as well as numberous creatures and dangers that seem made to either prevent or help them escape.

What did I like?

Verne-ism. I don’t know if there really is a section of society that is that enamored with Jules Verne, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I have to tip my hat to the filmakers for including in these little hints at Verne’s work such as the Nautilus, Captain Nemo, treasure island, etc.

Just call him Dwayne. I have to give it to Dwayne Johnson. I was wondering why he returned to these family films after making a couple of hardcore action flicks, but he proves how talented an actor he is and really makes this film watchable. Keep an ear out for his rendition of “What a Wonderful World”. I’m a huge Louis Armstrong fan and don’t usually care for anyone’s cover of it, but the original. However, Johnson’s version is up there with Norah Jones’.

3D. Folks, you need to mark this date in history down! It isn’t very often that I applaud the 3D, especially when I see it at home on a non-3D television, but it is quite obvious that this is a film that was meant to be in 3D, much like A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. The blatant and creative use of the medium works, especially in this environment. I’m almost disappointed that I missed it when it came out in theaters.

What didn’t I like?

Lines. For most films, there is a beginning and an end. They take the straightest point to get there, maybe veering off here and there, but not too far. This film, however, goes all willy nilly and doesn’t have any kind of cohesion to keep it together, in terms of story. It is like a bunch of random stories or episodes of a show like Land of the Lost.

Look kids. There is no mistake that this is a kids movie. Also, Vanessa Hudgens is a very attractive young lady. For some odd reason, though, the filmmaker, who already have her dressed in a tank top and short shorts (she may have even been in a push up bra to accentuate/enhance certain parts of her anatomy…if you know what I’m saying), decide to focus on her body in almost every scene. I’m surprised they didn’t put her in a white t-shirt during all the scenes when she got wet.

Peck pop and Luis. We’ve seen the ads for this thing where Johnson is demonstrating the peck pop of love. I think that would have been funnier if it wasn’t done to death in all those commercials. Making it worse, though, is the fact that Luis Guzman’s character seems to have a man-crush on Johnson. It is really kind of uncomfortable.

Subtraction. Brendan Fraser was the star of the last film, and if not for some scheduling issues, would have been in this one as well. So, tell me, why do they make him out to be such a villain? I don’t know what picture he did that kept him from doing this, but that is no excuse to rip the guy’s character a new one, saying he’s more or less a deadbeat dad and such. What if there is a third film and he wants to be a part of it?

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is one of the few times where you can get action, comedy, and sci-fi that the whole family will enjoy. This isn’t the best flick around, but it is short and fun. Think of it as a warm up for the main even flick you want to watch, like say *cough* The Avengers  *cough* Seriously, though, I do recommend this as one of those afternoon or rainy day flicks.

4 out of 5 stars

Drag Me to Hell

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on August 18, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1969 in Pasadena, California, a couple seeks the aid of the medium Shaun San Dena (Flor de Maria Chahua) because their son (Shiloh Selassie) claims to see and hear monsters. Though they tried to return an item the boy stole from gypsies, they flatly refused. San Dena aids the family by carrying out a séance, but they are attacked by an unseen force that pulls the boy into Hell. The medium swears to one day encounter the force again.

In 2009 in Los Angeles, California, bank loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) hopes to be promoted to assistant manager over her co-worker Stu Rubin (Reggie Lee). Her boss, Jim Jacks (David Paymer), advises her to demonstrate that she can make tough decisions to get a promotion. Christine is visited by an elderly woman, Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver), who asks for an extension on her mortgage payment. Christine, though empathic with the old woman’s crisis, decides to deny Ganush an extension to prove herself to her boss. Ganush begs Christine not to repossess her house and kneels in front of her, but Christine gets scared from the woman’s bizarre pleading as she is helping her to stand up. This leads the security to take Ganush away. Jim compliments Christine on how she handled the situation after the woman gives Christine a threat.

In the bank parking garage, Ganush attacks Christine in her car, rips a button off Christine’s coat and uses it to place a curse on her as revenge for “shaming” her. Later, Christine and her boyfriend Clay Dalton (Justin Long) meet the fortune teller Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), who tells Christine that she is being haunted by a spirit. At her home, Christine is attacked by the spirit and has nightmares about Ganush. At work the next day, Christine snaps at Stu and has a projectile nosebleed that soaks her boss in blood. Christine then goes to talk to Ganush at her granddaughter’s home, only to find that she died the previous night and a memorial service is being held. Christine returns to Rham Jas, who explains that as long as Christine is the owner of an accursed object (her button), she will be haunted by a powerful demon called the Lamia (not to be confused with the Greek child-eating demon) that will torment her for three days before taking her to Hell. He suggests a sacrifice to appease the demon. The next day, the Lamia returns and thrashes Christine in her bedroom. Desperate to stop the attacks, Christine sacrifices her pet kitten, an act that leaves her heart-broken. At a dinner party with Clay and his parents, she is again tormented by the Lamia, but this time through the use of illusions, which frightens the Daltons.

Christine returns to Rham Jas for further help. He says that Shaun San Dena will risk her life to stop the demon for a fee of $10,000. Further supernatural attacks on Christine lead Clay to pay the fee. San Dena prepares a séance to trap the Lamia’s spirit in a goat and kill it to vanquish the spirit. San Dena allows the Lamia to inhabit her body. Rham Jas tries to persuade it not to steal Christine’s soul, but it refuses and vows never to stop until Christine dies. Christine then places San Dena’s hand on the goat, causing the spirit to enter its body. San Dena’s assistant, Milos, attempts to kill the goat, but is instead bitten by the goat and in turn becomes possessed, attacking the members of the séance. San Dena banishes the Lamia from the séance, but dies in the process. Rham Jas seals the cursed button in an envelope and then tells her that the only way to get rid of the curse is to give the accursed item to someone as a gift, thereby passing the curse on to that person.

After being driven home by Clay, Christine attempts to find a recipient for the curse. She decides to give the envelope to Stu, in revenge for his stealing her work and presenting it as his own, but changes her mind after seeing how pathetic, tearful and panicky Stu is when he meets her. With guidance from Rham Jas, Christine learns that she can give it to Ganush, even though she is dead, because “the soul never dies”. Christine drives to the cemetery where she is buried and digs up her grave. In a torrential downpour, Christine jams the envelope in Ganush’s mouth in anger for the curse she placed on her.

The next day, Christine goes to meet Clay at Los Angeles Union Station, from where they plan to depart for a weekend in Santa Barbara. Her boss also leaves a message telling her that she landed her dream position after Stu confesses of stealing her work and gets fired. She also buys a dress that she has been eyeing for a long time, as a sign of a new beginning. Clay, planning to propose, reveals to Christine that he found the envelope containing the cursed button in his car. Christine then realizes she mixed up her envelope with another that she gave to Clay when she accidentally dropped it. Horrified, Christine backs away falling onto the tracks. As a train barrels towards her, fiery hands burst from the ground under the tracks. Clay can only watch in horror as Christine is dragged down into the fiery abyss of Hell. The movie ends with a horrified Clay holding Christine’s cursed button.


People wonder why folks hate working in retail or other jobs that deal directly with people. Drag Me to Hell gives us a pretty good reason. Imagine if you’re just doing your job and some lady curses you to three days of torture culminating in your being dragged down to hell. I’d say that would be a good enough reason to into something that involves little to no interaction with human beings.

What is this about?

A young bank loan officer is up for a promotion, but is likely to get passed over it because her competing coworker can make the “tough decisions”, as said so by her boss. He then gives her a case of an elderly woman who has missed the last few payments on her house and is asking for an extension. Obviously heartbroken, Christine makes the touch call to not give her the extension, which leads to the old woman falling on the floor begging. After she is escorted out by security, she tells Christine that she has shamed her. This leads to violent confrontation in the parking lot which results in the old woman ripping a button off of Christine’s coat and placing the curse on her that will result in her being tormented for 3 days by the demon Lamia and then dragged down to hell.

What did I like?

Contrast. Sam Raimi must be a fan of Tim Burton’s work, at least in terms of color and lighting, because there are elements here and there that would make you think this is one of his films. With this dark subject material, the film is actually pretty light, mainly because it is mostly filmed in the day, something that we rarely see in horror films.

Alison. I have to give credit to the casting directors, or whoever it was that thought Alison Lohman, a highly underrated actress in my opinion, would be a good choice to star in this film. She has the youthful, innocent look to pull off this character effectively before the curse takes hold, and then her acting chops are strong enough to convey that she is being tortured by this unseen demon.

Curse you. I have to say I was a little skeptical when I fund out that this film centered around a gypsy curse. It just seems as if that has been done to death, then again, this whole hell demon thing has been done a bunch of times, too. The interesting part for me wasn’t the demon, or how he was torturing her, but rather the emphasis on the cursed object, especially in the last half of the film. More of than not, we’ll get to something like that and that particular plot device would be thrown out, but no much here.

What didn’t I like?

Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Why did the poor little kitten have to die? Is Sam Raimi a cat hater or something? A little context…at a point in the film, Christine is trying to be rid of the curse, and the fortune teller says that she needs to perform an animal sacrifice. She then says something about working with puppies and junk, but that’s beside the point. In a move of obvious desperation, she slices up this poor kitten as a sacrificial lamb, but to no avail. Why did it have to be the kitten? I’m not advocating animal cruelty here ,but couldn’t she have just gone and chopped up one of those evil dogs that need to be burned in hell, anyway? I’m just saying…

Support. I mentioned earlier how Alison Lohman shines in this role. That actually is a miracle, because everyone else is wooden and badly written. Her boyfriend, played by the overrated Justin Long, seems to be just a tool. The competing coworker doesn’t have the slimeball appeal you would expect him to have. As a matter of fact, it felt more like he was going to do the right thing at any moment. The fortune teller guy seemed like he was auditioning to be the token foreign guy in an action flick. I happen to think he got this role because of the accent, and the fact he bears a strong resemblance to Oded Fehr (the Meiji from the first two Mummy movies).

Effects. For the most part, the special effects are pretty solid, but when we finally see the demon, Lamia, he see to be just a guy in a mask/makeup. Then we have this séance scene where he talks through a goat for a few moments. It just doesn’t work, unless you’re on some kind of acid trip, in which case there are probably many other things you can find that would talk to you.

Drag Me to Hell is a decent entry into the supernatural horror film genre. This film takes you for a ride from start to finish that will keep you wondering what’s next. Is it scary? Honestly, I think Constantine or the Ghost Rider movies fit that bill better, but it tries. Do I recommend it? Yes, it is a good scary flick to check out that even non-horror film can get into.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Expendables 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The Expendables are deployed to Nepal in order to rescue a Chinese businessman. The team consists of leader Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), former SAS soldier and blades specialist Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), martial artist Yin Yang (Jet Li), weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Randy Couture), and snipers Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth), the group’s youngest and newest member. The mercenaries rescue the businessmen, as well as Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Ross’ rival. Yang accompanies the businessman in his return to China, and temporarily departs from the group.

Ross accepts a mission from Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) to retrieve an item from a safe from an airplane that was shot down in Albania. The team, accompanied by tech genius Maggie (Yu Nan), retrieve the item from the airplane; their victory is short-lived, after discovering that Billy has been captured by Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), who intends to retrieve the item. The Expendables surrender the item, however Vilain executes Billy and leaves. The group bury Billy and swears revenge on Vilain; Maggie reveals the item on the plane was a blueprint to a mine which stores plutonium. Vilain, along with his right-hand man Hector (Scott Adkins), intends to retrieve a large amount of plutonium and sell them.

The team decides to travel to the mines, although the group stops by an abandoned military base where they spend the night. The next morning, the team are ambushed by Vilain’s army, but the army is quickly eliminated by Booker (Chuck Norris) single-handed, who departs the group shortly afterwards. Before departing, Booker informs the group about a nearby village with residents who are against Vilain. As they enter the village, the group discovers a number of armed female villagers who are guarding their children. The women tell the mercenaries that the men of the village have been taken to work at the mine; the miners never return to their families. Eventually, the Sang arrives to take more villagers to work, but the team successfully kills all the Sang, saving the village. The group stages an attack on Vilain through infiltrating the mine by shooting their plane through the caves; the plane is destroyed in the process. Vilain causes a set of explosions that buries the team and the miners underground. After Jensen makes an unsuccessful attempt to detonate a portion of the mine, Trench and Church rescue the mercenaries and the miners trapped in the mine; the miners are reunited with their loved ones from the village.

The Expendables, Trench and Church pursue Vilain to the airport, where Vilain and his men would depart on a private plane with the plutonium. The team, rejoined by Booker, fight their way through the airport. Christmas encounters and eventually decapitates Hector. Ross and Maggie follow Vilain to the hangar, where Ross and Vilain battle. Vilain is eventually strangled and stabbed by Ross, avenging Billy’s death. Church, Maggie, Booker and Trench say their goodbyes to Ross, with Church giving a worn-out airplane to Ross (as a replacement of the team’s destroyed airplane). As the team departs in the plane, the Expendables give a final toast in honor of Billy. The group leaves a large sum of money to Sophia (Nikolette Noel), Billy’s French girlfriend, as well as a picture of Billy and Billy’s final letter to Sophia


A couple of years ago, everyone scoffed at the idea of a bunch of aging action starts getting together and making a movie. Many thought it was just a way for them to get a paycheck, since Hollywood had apparently passed them by. Well, they went on and laughed all the way to the bank, because The Expendables was a big financial success, proving that not everything needs to be CGI and big budget special effects. Now, we have The Expendables 2…same idea, but with a few of the stars that didn’t or couldn’t be in the first one.

What is it about?

Contrary to popular belief, there is a plot to this film, and it isn’t just a bunch of old guys shooting and blowing up stuff…although, that stuff is very prevalent throughout the picture. The actual storyline, though, is that the guys get hired by Mr. Church to go in and bring back something valuable, we initially don’t know what it is, from a safe in a plane that was shot down in the Chinese mountains. Once they retrieved the package are ready to head home, they are ambushed by a group of vigilante villains. After a tense game of chicken, a team member dies, which leads to the driving force behind the rest of the film, revenge. Along the way to the final showdown, the group helps the town that is being forced to mine plutonium so that the other vigilantes can sell it.

What did I like?

Action. If you’ve ever seen an 80s action flick, then you know that they are all about over the top explosions and bloody gore. Welcome to the 2000s, where the explosions are created by computers more often than not and gore is relegated to horror movies. Thanks goodness someone remembered that the audience wants to see this kind of stuff. Now, if only we can get more of it!

Tone. I’ve heard some people weren’t too happy with the change in tone from the first film, but I actually didn’t mind it. A few jokes among friends don’t hurt. If anything, they make these characters seem more human. Don’t you agree? There is a line that Barney has which really sums it up. It goes something like, “…we keep it light, but when the time comes we go full on dark”[sic].

Start and end with a bang. The best scenes in this film are the opening and closing scenes. Both are just the over-the-top action we expect from this fledgling franchise. These are this kind of scenes with lots of people getting killed, lots of stuff being blown up, and dizzying camera angles.

New blood. Bringing in Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme wasn’t a bad idea, even if Norris made them tone down the language to get a PG-13 rating (the violence knocked it back up to an R). I didn’t miss Mickey Rourke at all. Then again, after watching the first film again yesterday afternoon, he wasn’t really that important.

Know your audience. The audience for this film is mostly guys like me who are fed up with these so-called “action” (read=drama) films of today and they make sure they do everything the right way. I don’t believe this was a 3D film, but I can imagine some studio execs pleaded and begged for it to have been. I can’t say how glad I am to not have to have been forced to shell out the case for some rental sunglasses just to see some half-ass 3D effects that really don’t look any different from 2D.

Friendship. There is a scene where the guys are sitting around trying to relax from the day and it is just like some old friends reminiscing. They even have some fun with the “new guy”. This is not only the funniest scene of the movie, but it serves to develop the bond between the characters that we didn’t get in the first film, save for Barney and Christmas, who is actually not involved it.

Villain. Jean-Claude Van Damme returns to his starring form with his role as the villainous Villain (pronounced vil-lain). This guy seems to be cold, calculating, and everything you would expect from a villain of today. He demands and commands respect and murders without a second thought. Then there is the fact that he can go toe to toe with Stallone. Just wait until you see that!

What didn’t I like.

Girl, please. When this film started, I was thinking to myself, we have this group of 80s action guy stars, but what about a group of women? No sooner than I finished that thought, do we get introduced to the character of Maggie. Throughout the film, you can tell there is tension between her and Stallone, and I’m not just talking about the sexual tension. As a character, she isn’t bad, but a woman doesn’t belong in this group. It just doesn’t work.

Asian connection. Jet Li kicks more ass in the 10 minutes or so he’s on the screen this time around than he did in all of the last picture. OK, maybe that’s a bit of a an exaggeration, but he does seemingly disappear and never comes back or is mentioned for the rest of the picture. Coincidentally, the “help” that Church brings in is Asian. I can’t help but think there was a reason behind this ethnic casting.

Jason. I’m a huge Jason Statham fan and, personal bias aside, I have to say that it sort of felt like he was relegated to the role of the sidekick this time around. He even bitches about it when he has to go back and get the truck. If not for the scene in the church and his fight with Van Damme’s right hand man, you’d really wonder why he wasn’t utilised more.

Young blood and nearly silent. Aside from Li, there were two other things about the cast that bothered me. First, there is the early death of Liam Hemsworth’s character. I was initially questioning his casting instead of his brother, Chris, but since they killed him off so fast, I guess it makes sense. I have to wonder, especially if they’re talking of making this a real franchise, why they would kill the newest and youngest member, especially since he’s such a crack shot. Granted, his death serves as motivation for the rest of the film, it just seemed like they could have used someone else, like say, Toll Road. Randy Couture’s character is there, but he has little, if anything, to say. I believe he may have 5 or 10 lines throughout the entire film. They could have given him something else to do!

Arnold. After his years as governor of California, it is good to see Arnold getting back into the acting thing. There was even a trailer with hims starring in his own film, so he’s at least picking back up where he left off. The problem here, though, is that his one-liners are as bad they were in Batman & Robin. I can’t give him a pass for being rusty on this one. He needs to do better, and the writers should be ashamed for having him constantly recite such drivel!

The Expendables 2 is a damn fun, good time to be had. A true nostalgic picture than makes you wonder why they don’t make films that are truly fun anymore. I want you, though, if you’re looking for something cerebral and artsy-fartsy, this is not the film for you. This is a film for those of us that actually want to be entertained when we go to the movies! With the summer movie season coming to a close, this is the perfect film to wrap it up and may end up being a sleeper hit, at least on this blog, come the end of the year awards. I highly recommend that you stop reading this and head to your nearest theater and go see this right now!

5 out of 5 stars

Fletch Lives

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on August 15, 2012 by Mystery Man


Chevy Chase once again plays the reporter Irwin M. “Fletch” Fletcher, who learns that he has inherited a plantation in Louisiana. Upon arriving, Fletch’s aunt’s lawyer is murdered, leaving Fletch to unravel the mystery.

In order to catch the real killers and clear his name, Fletch dons a series of disguises and infiltrates the congregation of television evangelist Jimmy Lee Farnsworth (whose techniques are virtually identical to those used by real-life televangelist Peter Popoff), who the audience is led to believe wants to gain control of Fletch’s land in order to build a Christian theme park. It is subsequently revealed that, in actuality, a chemical company wants the land so it can dump its toxic waste there.


Chevy Chase returns to form, and the screen, with Fletch Lives, a sequel to his sleeper hit, Fletch. The question is, was a sequel really necessary and were people really clamoring for it? Going even further, there are rumors of a third film, do we really need that one, as well?

What is the film about?

Picking up a few years after the events of the first film, we find that Fletch is still working at the same newspaper, though he is growing more and more frustrated with it. Just as he’s about to quit, he receives a notice that his rich relative from Louisiana has passed away and left him a plantation. Fletch quits his job and heads down south, only to find that there is a conspiracy afoot and the plantation is one of reasons for it.

What did I like?

Bringing funny back. The first film wasn’t really that funny to me, but then again, early 80s flicks tend to be hit or miss in my book. This one, though, was more my speed, as I was chuckling, giggling, and flat out laughing throughout big chunks of the film. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when watching a comedy?

C’mon Cleavon. Fans of Blazing Saddles may recognize Calculus as Cleavon Little, who was the star of the film. To my knowledge, these are the only two films he’s starred in. He ma have been in some other stuff, I just don’t know about it. Still, it is great to see him. I wonder why he doesn’t have more to his resume.

Southern hospitality. Kudos to the filmmakers for capturing the essence of southern hospitality. While I do think their idea of what we southerners are like is a bit exaggerated, they got their point across.

What didn’t I like?

Not right. As someone who has lived in Louisiana for quite some time, I think I know what our accents are like. The southern accents that they use in this film are more stereotypical than accurate, especially for south Louisiana, Thibodaux, to be exact. I’m not saying this should have been 100% accurate, but they could have at least gotten a bit closer to the real thing.

The plot thickens. I loved how the plot seemed to thicken, but never really got too thick or confusing. The perfect tone for a film such as this. The first film tried to do this, but unsuccessfully.

Green. There is a “go green” theme underlying here that, while I have no issue with it, seems to be used a bit more for political reasons than for comedic purposes. The whole toxic waste thing was just a cop out to make a statement about government and corruption.

Fletch Lives is a much better sequel that it’s predecessor. It is funnier, better written, and plays more to Chase’s strengths. With a great story, cast, and characters, this is picture that you should not live your life without seeing at least once. I highly recommend it, but it isn’t good enough to stop what you’re doing to rush out and see. It is more of a catch it on television or rent it when you think about it kind of film.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Beach Party

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2012 by Mystery Man


An anthropologist, Professor Robert Orville Sutwell (Robert Cummings) is secretly studying the “wild mating habits” of Southern California teenagers who hang out at the beach and use strange surfing jargon. After he temporarily paralyzes Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck), the leader of the local outlaw motorcycle gang, who was making unwanted advances on Dolores (Annette Funicello), Dolores develops a crush on the Professor. Her surfing boyfriend Frankie (Frankie Avalon), the local Big Kahuna, becomes jealous and begins flirting with Ava (Eva Six), a Hungarian waitress. Meanwhile, Sutwell’s assistant Marianne (Dorothy Malone) further develops her crush on the Professor. Von Zipper and his gang plot to bring down Sutwell, only to be thwarted in the end by the surfing teenagers.


All those beach movies we see parodies and/or spoofed in television shows and whatnot had to have something as their basis, right? Well, the whole beach part fad began with this film, Beach Party!

What is it about?

This is another film that has two separate plots that seem to intersect just as the film enters its final act. The major plot is the typical teen love story where guy and girl head to the beach for the summer, have some kind of falling out, and realize the error of their ways by film’s end. The secondary plot deals with a scientist studying teenagers in their “natural habitat” for a book he’s writing. All the while he seems to be totally unaware of the women that have a crush on him, or what the outside world is like, until he is taken down to the beach.

What did I like?

Scenery. Believe it or not, I’m not talking about the girls in bikinis, though they were nice. I am actually referring to the beach and the water. True, it actually doesn’t get as much as one would like to see, especially in a beach film, but when you do get to see it, man, it just makes you want to pack up everything and head to your nearest beach!

Music. There are a couple of catchy songs that are obviously from this era. They hep move the film forward and establish the plot, which is all you really ask for random songs in a flick, right?

Chemistry. It is well documented that Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello had tremendous chemistry together. Why else are there so many of these beach party films? Seeing them with other actors such as Robert Cummings and Eva Six makes me really wonder if they are severely underrated because the chemistry they have with them is just as great, if not better.

What didn’t I like?

Biker gang. In later films, the biker gang that we see, I believe they’re called the Mice & Rats, play an integral role in the film’s plot. In this one, though, they seem to be nothing more than the incompetent bullies that ride around terrorizing  beach folk. Am I really to sit here and believe they couldn’t have done something more with them than this?

Pacing. There seemed to be something off with the pacing of this film. It is up and down a lot more than it needs to be. This isn’t a roller coaster, for goodness sakes. Just make it not boring. That’s all the audience asks!

Shaved. I can’t say I was a fan on the way Dolores made the professor change pretty much everything about himself, especially shaving his beard. What was that about? Can’t a guy have a beard and live in peace?

Beach Party is good, cheesy, 60s fun. If you’re not into these kitschy type of films, then I’m telling you now that you shouldn’t waste your time because that’s all this is. If you are, however, then you should have a good time with this one. It isn’t perfect and doesn’t try to be. It is what it is. Check it out sometime, why don’t you?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Three Stooges

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film is composed of three acts, which are referred to as episodes (a reference to how the original Three Stooges short films were packaged for television by Columbia Pictures).

Act/Episode 1: More Orphan Than Not

Ever since Moe, Larry, and Curly were dumped on the doorstep of the Sisters of Mercy Orphanage, they have wreaked havoc in the place, leaving the nuns who run it utterly terrified. Out of desperation, when a prospective couple comes to adopt, the exasperated nuns bring out the trio as being the only three available, eventually adding a fourth when another boy, Teddy, enters the picture. The couple decides to pick Moe, but when he requests Larry and Curly join him, he is dropped back off at the orphanage, and they choose Teddy instead. 25 years later, the trio is still living there and attempting to help out taking care of the kids. When Monsignor Ratliffe arrives to give everyone an important message, he gets attacked by Moe, Larry, and Curly, who think that Monsignor Ratliffe was making out with the nuns. Monsignor Ratliffe is not going to adopt either of them either, as he is on official business. As they get wind that the orphanage will be shutting down unless they can come up with $830,000 in 30 days, the trio volunteers to go out and try to raise the money somehow.

Act/Episode 2: The Bananas Split

A subplot involves a woman named Lydia, who wants to kill her husband so she can be with her lover, Mac, and inherit his considerable fortune. She offers to pay the trio the money they need to take care of the job. However, they botch the job and leave the supposed husband (actually Mac) in traction in the hospital. When they try to visit to finish the job, they are chased throughout the hospital and escape by jumping off the roof using a fire hose. They end up running into a now grown-up Teddy from the orphanage, who invites them to his anniversary party. It turns out that Lydia is Teddy’s wife. Their next scheme for raising the money has them selling farm raised salmon, with them scattering salmon on a golf range and watering them like produce. The trio are chased off the golf course and hide somewhere, where they have a huge argument and slapstick fight, and Larry and Curly leave. After they do so, it turns out they were all on stage in front of an audition crew, who select Moe to be the newest cast member of Jersey Shore as “Dyna-Moe”.

Final Act/Episode 3: No Moe Mister Nice Guy

Larry and Curly are getting along well without Moe but decide to go find him, first returning to the orphanage, where they find out a girl named Murph is very sick, but has not been taken to the hospital because the orphanage has no medical insurance. It turns out that no one will insure the orphanage due to the trio’s numerous accidents and injuries, and the $830,000 is needed in order to cover medical bills that accumulated over the years.

They finally go to the set of Jersey Shore to reunite with Moe, and they all head to the anniversary party where they appear to thwart the murder plot, only to get chased by the angry Lydia and Mac after they accidentally ruin their wedding cake while saving a little girl’s life. They discover Teddy’s adoptive father, a powerful attorney, was the real mastermind. He married into the money and was incensed to find out the money was left to Teddy and not him when Teddy’s mother died years earlier. They are taken for a ride, but the car winds up in the water when Curly’s pet rat distracts them; then, they all escape when Curly passes gas, and they light it with “waterproof, strike-anywhere matches” they had, causing enough of an explosion to blow out the windows.

Once they are back on land, Lydia, her lover, and Teddy’s adoptive dad are arrested, and Teddy thanks the trio for saving him. When they request the $830K, he turns them down, stating he refuses to help the same orphanage that gave him up to a father that almost tried to kill him, among other things over the years.

Three months later, the trio return to the now-condemned orphanage, but as they start crying for feeling like failures, they hear kids laughing, swimming, and playing. When they investigate, they find out a whole brand new orphanage was built next door, complete with a swimming pool and tennis court.

They soon learn that the money came from the Jersey Shore’s producers who consider this as an advance payment in relation to a new reality show “Nuns vs Nitwits”, in which the entire trio will be part of. Murph is revealed to be perfectly fine, her illness due to too much iron in the water (which Larry had always suspected, yet no one listened to him), and that she, along with brothers Peezer and Weezer (the latter thought to have been lost forever to a foster home), will be adopted by Teddy and his new wife, Ling. In the end, after causing one more incident, the trio run away and bounce off trampolines out of the orphanage onto mules, where they ride off away from the orphanage, thus ending the film.

Postscript Epilogue

An epilogue consists of two young actors (Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Justin Lopez) playing the Farrelly brothers, explaining that the stunts were all done by professionals, showing the foam rubber props used in the film for the trio to hit one another, demonstrating the fake eye-poke trick (to the eyebrows), and advising children to not try any of the stunts at home.

During the closing credits a music video plays showing the Stooges and Sister Rosemary (Jennifer Hudson) performing “It’s a Shame”, originally recorded by The Spinners in 1970, interspersed with excerpts from deleted scenes and a couple of brief outtakes. Though credited to “The Spinners and The Three Stooges”, Hudson’s own distinctive vocals can also be heard.


Like many people, I loved the short films starring the original three stooges, but was a bit skeptical when it was announced they were going to make a modern film about them, especially when it was going through development hell. Finally, though, The Three Stooges was released to a collective sigh from the public. The only real plot is the guys are orphans and because of all their accidents, the orphanage can’t afford insurance or any of their bills. There is also some subplot about a sexy siren wanting her husband, who happens to be a friend of the stooges from the orphanage, killed.

What did I like?

Light. Early on when they were talking about making this film, it seemed like they were going to go in some dark, serious tone. Yes, dark and serious…for the three stooges? WTF?!? Luckily, they didn’t go that route, and kept things light and almost cartoonish.

Vintage. If there is one thing that the stooges were known for, it was the physical humor. While there wasn’t anywhere near as much of this as there should have been, what was there was pretty good. It was quite obvious that they studied the originals and did the best they could to stay true to what they created.

Knowledge. The film know what it and doesn’t try to get serious. Well, there is that once act where they guys split, but that can’t really be considered serious, as much as a change of pace.

What didn’t I like?

Cast. I loved Sean Hayes in Will & Grace and Will Sasso on Mad TV, but as Larry and Curly, they just don’t cut the mustard, or have the look. As for the guy that plays Moe, I’ve never even heard of him, but he does a good impression of his voice, but doesn’t have the presence of the original. Then of course, there is Jennifer Hudson, who is there to do nothing more than be the sassy one and sing some gospel. I’m surprised she wasn’t schilling Weight Watchers, too, since that’s all she’s good for, anyway.

Jersey. As if Jennifer Hudson wasn’t enough of a waste of space, there is a section where Moe moves in with the kids from Jersey Shore. Instead of parodying them, the filmmakers decided to give these boils on the butt of humanity even more time in the spotlight by giving them roles in a wide release motion picture like this one!

Bikinis and subplot. The arguably hottest woman in the world right now, Kate Upton appears throughout the film, but it is the bikini in the last scene that leaves an impression on the audience. No problem with her being in a bikini, just wish there would have been more of it and less bikini. She is a bikini model, after all! Also, would it have killed the to put Sofia Vergara in one, too? I’m just saying! As far as the subplot goes, it started out good, but the more they kept trying to push it, the more it just felt unnecessary and, well, forced.

The Three Stooges is an insult to the legacy of these great comedians who have given us countless laughs over the years. The fact that this film was even made should be punishable by death! This is one of those films that should have every copy tracked down and destroyed. You really need to avoid this like the plague. Chances are you’ll catch it if you watch this useless schlock!

1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Erik the Viking

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film is based largely upon Norse mythology. In the film’s opening scene Erik (Tim Robbins), a young Viking, discovers that he has no taste for rape and pillage, and suffers guilt over the death of Helga (Samantha Bond), an innocent woman.

Erik learns from the wise woman Freya (Eartha Kitt) that Fenrir the wolf has swallowed the sun, plunging the world into the grip of the age of Ragnarök. Erik resolves to travel to Asgard to petition the gods to end Ragnarök. Freya informs him that to do so he must seek the Horn Resounding in the land of Hy-Brasil. The first note blown upon the Horn will take Erik and his crew to Asgard, the second will awaken the gods, and the third will bring the crew home.

Keitel Blacksmith (Gary Cady) and his underling Loki (Antony Sher) are opposed to Erik’s plan, because peace would end the demand for Keitel’s swords. Keitel joins Erik’s crew, hoping to sabotage Erik’s plans. Halfdan the Black (John Cleese) joins them, afraid that peace will mean the end of his reign, and sets sail in pursuit.

Arriving at Hy-Brasil, Erik and crew are astonished to find it a sunlit land whose people are friendly (if musically untalented). Erik promptly falls in love with Princess Aud (Imogen Stubbs), daughter of King Arnulf (Terry Jones). During one of their romantic encounters, Erik hides from Arnulf using Aud’s magic cloak of invisibility.

Aud has warned the Vikings that should blood ever be shed upon Hy-Brasil, the entire island would sink beneath the waves. Erik and his crew defend Hy-Brasil against Halfdan’s ship. In gratitude for Erik’s having saved Hy-Brasil, King Arnulf presents him with the Horn Resounding, which is much larger than Erik had imagined. Loki steals the Horn’s mouthpiece, without which it cannot be sounded, and persuades Keitel to throw it in the sea. Snorri, one of Erik’s men, catches them in the act, and Loki kills him. A single drop of the man’s blood falls from Loki’s dagger, triggering an earthquake that causes the island to begin sinking.

Erik’s crew, joined by Aud, prepare to escape in their ship with the Horn safely aboard, but Arnulf refuses to join them, denying that the island is sinking up to the very moment he and the other islanders are swallowed by the waves. Aud, who was able to recover the mouthpiece by chance, sounds the first note on the Horn. The ship is propelled over the edge of the flat Earth and into space, coming to rest upon the plain of Asgard. Erik sounds the second note to awaken the gods, and he and his crew approach the great Hall of Valhalla.

Erik and the crew encounter old friends and enemies slain in battle. The gods are revealed to be petulant children who have no interest in answering mortal prayers. Odin persuades Fenrir to spit out the sun, but tells Erik that the end of Ragnarök will not bring peace to the world. Odin then informs Erik that he and his crew cannot return home. Nor may they remain in Valhalla, since they were not slain in battle; instead they are to be cast into the fiery Pit of Hel. Some of the Vikings who were killed in the sea-battle with Halfdan attempt to save them, but even as they are drawn into the Pit, they hear the Horn Resounding’s third note, which flings them clear.

Erik’s crew, including the formerly dead men, immediately find themselves back in their home village. They are dismayed to find that Halfdan and his soldiers have arrived before them and are holding the villagers captive. Halfdan and his men are crushed to death by Erik’s ship as it falls out of the sky with Harald aboard. As the villagers celebrate Erik’s return and Halfdan’s defeat, the sun rises, ending the age of Ragnarök.


Ever since elementary school, I’ve always been a fan of mythology, with Greek/Roman being my favorite. With the release of Thor last year, I gained a newfound interest in the Norse mythology, and that is how Erik the Viking ended up on my list. The premise of this film is that Erik discovers that he isn’t cut out for the life of your traditional viking and, when he learns of the fate of Earth, he sets out on a quest to save the mortal realm from eternal darkness.

What did I like?

Fantastic voyage. If there is nothing else this film accomplishes, it does convey a sense of wonder and grandeur, as well as the suspense of what is ultimately going to happen to the Earth. The visuals during the trek are impressive, especially for a film released in the 80s.

Vikings. Believe it or not, there don’t seem to be a great many films about Norsemen. I know that there are some that exist, but the ones that I can think of all have them making a quick appearance, or they’re animated. With that being said, it is a nice change of pace to see vikings. I think we’re all a little weary of vampires, pirates, werewolves, and the like. Don’t you agree?

Cast. In a film like this, it would be expected that majority of screen time would go to the star, but equal time is given to everyone, making this somewhat of an ensemble picture. Spreading the wealth amongst everyone was a stroke of genius and, in my opinion, helped this film tremendously.

What didn’t I like?

Laughs. They advertise this as a comedy, but I didn’t laugh once. Another Terry Jones film I saw a while back, its name escapes me at the moment, did the same. How is it that a Monty Python alum can’t create something funny? He even has one of his Python associates starring with him! WTF?!?

Cameo. Eartha Kitt makes a cameo early on in the film. My only issue with that is she should have had a bigger part. A little of that sentiment is because I’m a bit partial to her, but the main reason I say that is she’s a witch (or something close to it). It just seems like this whole thing should have come full circle at the end.

Music. The musician in me was hoping for a score more epic in scope. Not everything can be John Williams-esque, and I’m not asking for it to be, but a film with this subject matter should have had something better.

Erik the Viking is the very definition of an average film. Nothing about it sticks out, be it good or bad. I was hoping for something more, either on an epic or comedic scale, and got neither. That being said, I didn’t come away feeling disappointed, just not ready to brag about this flick to anyone. In other words, I don’t recommend it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth watching at some point, if you think about it.

3 out of 5 stars