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.

REVIEW:

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

 

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Neverland

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…

REVIEW:

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

REVIEW:

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.

REVIEW:

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

REVIEW:

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”.

REVIEW:

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.”

REVIEW:

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