Archive for March, 2014

Cat Run

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The Andorran hooker and single mother Catalina “Cat” Rona is hired to participate in an orgy in Montenegro with other escorts and powerful men and the American Senator William Krebb. Something goes wrong with the politician and all the girls are murdered by the security of the host to avoid witnesses. However, Cat escapes and brings a hard disk drive with classified information with her. There is a manhunt for Cat and the cruel assassin Helen Bingham is hired to retrieve the HDD and kill Cat. Meanwhile, the Americans Julian Simms and Anthony Hester decide to open a detective agency to raise money. When they read in the newspaper that Cat is being chased, they decide to seek her out, expecting to receive a reward. However, they cross the path of Helen and they end protecting Cat from the killer. When Helen is betrayed by those who hired her, she decides to help Anthony, Julian, and Cat retrieve the HDD and their freedom.

REVIEW:

Well, I am finally getting around to Cat Run after quite a while of it just festering on my instant queue. After quite a few recommendations from friends and Netflix, I finally got the hint and hit play on this little known Paz Vega film. However, I have to pose the question, is there a reason that no one has ever heard of this flick?

What is this about?

A pair of private dicks find themselves caught up in a suspected government conspiracy when they take on an uncommon case: helping a high-class call girl fight off a sexy assassin who’s already torn her pimp to pieces.

What did I like?

Nothing is true, everything is permitted. Janet McTeer plays a cold-hearted, highly skilled assassin that is not to be messed with. Watch what she does to that pimp when in the early scenes involving her if you have any questions. When it comes to assassins, this is the kind that I like to see on film. She gets the job done and gets it done efficiently.

Not scared. A film like this seems tailor made to not be a violent adventure flick, but rather one of these adventure dramas that are very popular in many markets. Yes, this film follows that formula, but there is also some glorious bloody violent scenes, such as a guy getting his head blown off. I’m not one to generally gush over blood and gore, but sometimes its just what one wants to see, just not in the way horror films seem to be obsesses with doing these days.

My buddy. The buddy cops “stars” of this film, who have just started a detective agency to make money since the restaurant one of them came to Europe to open isn’t panning out. What I enjoyed was how the two of these guys served as a sort of avatar for the audience, giving us a balance of funny and nevish moments that are quite entertaining.

What didn’t I like?

Vega. The titular character, Cat, is played by the beautiful Paz Vega. One would think that she would be in nearly every scene, but that isn’t the case, as we get the two guys who are trying to solve their first case. Once they catch up to her, we get more, but it still doesn’t make up for the fact that Vega isn’t featured in the way the marketing for this film led us to believe.

Amputee. When D.L. Hughley appeared, I figured he was just going to be in that one scene, but it turns out that he was a somewhat major character. I believe he’s still doing stand-up, but one has to wonder how bad things are for him to take this role. The part itself was bad enough, but throw in the fact that he is an amputee (I believe he said there was accident that left him that way), and you are really left scratching your head.

Leading man. In direct to DVD films, there usually is a guy who happens to be the best audition, related to someone with connections, etc., but they aren’t good actors. Well, the leading man in this film, Scott Mechlowicz is just as bad as those guys, if not worse. The term wooden acting is tossed around like salad, but there is absolutely no charisma, life, or anything, really with this guy. How or why he was chosen to lead this picture is beyond me. Thanks goodness Alphonso McAuley was so over the top with his comic relief and made watching this guy bearable.

For all the excitement I had when I hit play on Cat Run this afternoon, it quickly dissipated as the film progressed. I was hoping for something to reach out and grab me, but it didn’t. As I sit here writing this review, the only thing I remember about this flick is that it starts with an orgy and is quite violent masterpiece. So, as you can imagine, I don’t recommend this film. Spend you time elsewhere.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

 

Last Vegas

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Billy, Paddy, Archie and Sam are childhood friends from Flatbush, Brooklyn, who are living in their senior years. Sam and his wife Miriam are living mundane lives in a retirement village in Naples,_Florida. Archie, twice-divorced and retired from the Air Force, lives with his overprotective son Ezra and his family in New Jersey after suffering a stroke. Paddy lives alone in his Brooklyn apartment, a curmudgeon in grief since the death of his wife, Sophie, over a year ago. Billy is a successful entrepreneur in Malibu, California, who lives with his 31-year-old girlfriend Lisa. Shortly after proposing to Lisa, Billy finds an old bottle of scotch he and his friends stole in their childhood days and calls Sam and Archie, who immediately propose a bachelor party for Billy in Las Vegas before his wedding that weekend. After being given permission by Miriam to cheat on her, Sam flies to New Jersey to pick up Archie in secret. They drive Brooklyn to collect Paddy and fly off to rendezvous with Billy in Vegas.

The quartet meet up at the airport, where Billy and Paddy get into a heated argument. They had a falling-out when Billy failed to attend Sophie’s funeral. Archie breaks up the fight and demands they stop and enjoy the weekend for a change and to celebrate Billy’s wedding with a little fun because “they need this.” They head to Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel to check in, only to realize that the hotel is closed for renovations. Billy gets his assistant to find them a room at the Aria Resort and Casino, since that is where the wedding will be held. While taking a break in the casino, they meet Diana, a lounge singer who charms the guys as they joke about Sam’s sex life, Archie’s medical issues and Billy’s young bride. Paddy begins to express his anger toward Billy for not attending Sophie’s funeral and is eventually charmed by Diana into rejoining the group over some martinis. They convince Diana to join them at The Aria where they get stuck in a traffic jam and walk down The Las Vegas Strip. While waiting for their rooms, Archie goes to a blackjack table and has a brief altercation with a cocky gambler named Dean. After Dean leaves the table, Archie buys chips with $15,000 (half of his pension funds), much to Sam and Paddy’s surprise. Later, Paddy warns Sam that Archie is on a losing streak and has lost nearly $9,000. They rush to pull him off the table, only to discover that he is actually up $102,000. The trio are noticed by the pit boss and they reluctantly leave the table in fear of being accused of cheating. Meanwhile, as Billy tours the wedding chapel with Diana, he becomes charmed with her as she explains to him that she moved to Vegas because she was recently laid off as a tax attorney in Atlanta and always wanted to sing despite being a divorced single mother.

Later, the quartet become judges of a wild swimsuit competition. They are then confronted by the casino manager, who was impressed with Archie’s blackjack game; he happily gives them the best penthouse suite to stay in with their own host, Lonnie, who reluctantly accepts the job as the original guest was supposed to be 50 Cent. Upon entering the suite, Billy suggests they open the old bottle of scotch to celebrate the gang’s reunion, but Paddy confronts him about his absence from Sophie’s funeral and leaves the group. That night, the remaining three go to Haze where they cut the line after waiting for over an hour where the bouncer stops them and tells them that they can only enter if they buy bottle service, which they eventually agree to after seeing more women enter the club. There, Billy and Sam talk with the bride-to-be and maid-of-honor from a bachelorette party while Archie goes dancing. Dean comes by and begins groping the bachelorette and is stopped by Archie, Billy and Sam. Dean attempts to throw a punch at Billy but is knocked down by Paddy, who stopped by to give Archie his cell phone due to several missed calls by Ezra.

The next day, while the others are hungover and recovering, Paddy visits Diana and tells her that he and Billy were both in love with Sophie when they were younger and she picked Paddy to be hers. Diana catches his eye while she tries to convince him to stop grieving and move on with life because Sophie would want it. Afterwards, Paddy joins Billy at their pool cabana and admits he needs to move on from Sophie’s passing while also showing concern for Billy about marrying a younger woman. The others join in and discuss throwing a big party in their suite. Later, Dean is brought in by Lonnie to the cabana to apologize for his behavior and is tricked into believing the quartet are four mafia members from the East Coast called “The Flatbush Four.” As Billy relaxes, the other three get fancy suits and (with help from Dean) prepare for the bachelor party and invite several people including the bachelorette party, exotic dancers, a band of transvestites, and cast members of Zarkana. Billy later visits Diana at her job, where she tells him she is fond of him. As they walk along The Strip, Billy tells Diana that Paddy gave Sophie an ultimatum to choose either Billy or him and she secretly chose Billy first, but Billy felt Sophie was meant to be with Paddy so she went with Paddy instead.

The bachelor party goes into full force as Paddy gets ready to be social again. Sam meets the maid of honor from the night before who begins flirting with him to his delight. Archie dances with the bachelorette and other female partygoers, gives advice to Dean on how to meet women properly, and is confronted by a surprise appearance from a worried Ezra, who is later told by Archie to simply enjoy this special time with his father. Ezra calms down and accepts. As Sam and the maid of honor head upstairs to be alone, he encourages and enjoys her seductive ways but eventually turns them down as he says while the experience of sex with her would be so spectacular, he has a tradition of telling Miriam about all the wonderful things that happen in his life. In order to stay wonderful, he’d have to tell his wife about what really happened in Vegas, which would be devastating to her. Paddy tells Billy he invited Diana to the party because he likes her and wants to start anew after Sophie’s passing, but realizes Billy likes her too. They rush to meet her as she enters the party and Billy pushes Paddy into the decorative pool and takes Diana upstairs to tell her that Paddy likes her and to give him a chance. She gets embarrassed and feels like she is being treated like Sophie and “gifted” by Billy when Paddy walks in and hears the whole story about Sophie and Billy for the first time. Paddy is devastated and finds the old bottle of scotch, throws it in the trash and leaves the party.

The next morning, Paddy confronts Billy at the pool and tells him he does not know women like he loved Sophie for all the years they were together and that the wedding must be stopped. As Lisa and her bridesmaids arrive, Paddy pushes Billy into the pool and as a return favor for his being with Sophie, Paddy tells Lisa the wedding is off. Billy and Lisa talk it over while the guys have small talk with the bridesmaids who are now prepared for a sloppy drunken time with an angry Lisa. As the guys pack up to leave, Billy comes to terms with his age and admits his fear of getting old and being alone. They come together as friends again and tell Billy to go see Diana. Billy shows up at Diana’s job and reveals his feelings for her. The guys say their goodbyes to Dean and Lonnie and finally decide to crack open the old bottle of scotch for a final toast.

A few months later, Billy and Diana call Archie and Paddy to announce they are getting married. They try to call Sam but he is unable to answer the phone as he is busy in bed with Miriam.

REVIEW:

I feel kind of guilty about watching Last Vegas because my best friend has been dying to see thing and hasn’t had the chance, yet. I did invite her over to watch with me, though. This is a film that wasn’t very well received by critics, and yet many moviegoers actually liked it. So, which side of the coin do I fall on?

What is this about?

Four sixtysomething pals — Billy, Paddy, Archie and Sam — gather in Las Vegas to celebrate Billy’s upcoming nuptials with the intention of running wild for four straight days. But Sin City has gotten a lot crazier than they could’ve ever imagined.

What did I like?

2 wild and crazy guys. Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman are the funny guys of this foursome, especially Kline. With all the drama going on between Michael Douglas and Robert De Niro’s character, it was a great change of pace to get some comedy in a comedy film. With Freeman, we get comedy based mostly on his age, which works for this film, since that is part of the running joke. Kline partly uses the same formula but, being a bit of a comedic actor, he uses his own talents to become the film’s standout character…and he does it without his Viagra pill and condom!

Bachelors. Cinema history is littered with bachelor parties that take place in Vegas, most recently The Hangover (before it spiraled down into an unnecessary trilogy). The thing about all these films is that they are usually a bunch of guys in their 20s or 30s, maybe a couple in their 40s, but never do we see the older generation in a bachelor party. A major draw for this film is the fact that we have these sixty something year old guys in Vegas for a bachelor party. The gags and adventures are about the same as they are with the 20 and 30 somethings, but from the view of older guys. Gags such as club music sounding all the same, which it does, being old enough to be girls’ grandfathers, etc. surprisingly had me laughing out loud.

Party Rock. I didn’t catch how they ended up doing this, but somehow the guys were able to judge a bikini contest. It seemed like they just walked up and started judging, but it is possible that might have been one of the perks of the stay at their hotel. More on that later, though. As a red-blooded, straight man, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the bikini contest and the gorgeous ladies they were prancing out there. Perhaps they weren’t all 10s, but they were lookers. Of course, the one I liked the best is the one De Niro’s character gave the lowest rating to. Go figure!

What didn’t I like?

Liberace. I’m not sure, but I think Michael Douglas was either filming this at the same time or right after Behind the Candelabara. I say that because he is a distinct shade of orange and isn’t in the film as much as the other three guys. I’d say this is because he is the biggest star, but you have Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman in the cast, both Oscar winners in their own right, and Kevin Kline who is better known that we give him credit for. Douglas just seems to not be fully invested in this film until the penultimate scene, where he actually gets to flex his acting chops, and that just wasn’t working for me, making his character, who actually is a somewhat likable guy, just meh for me.

Fiancee. I realize this is a bachelor party film, but Douglas’ fiancée seems to be forgotten. She is mentioned a couple of times, but until she shows up before the wedding, we totally forgot about her. Maybe I’m just spoiled by other films in this vein, but shouldn’t she have at least gotten more than a couple of mentions? Ironically, the one that brings her up, is the singer that Douglas was hitting on during the weekend.

Drama. There is some bad blood between Michael Douglas and Robert De Niro’s characters. The conflict between the two of them festers so long that it nearly costs what is left of their friendship and ruins the weekend for all four guys. All of it apparently because Douglas didn’t come to the funeral of De Niro’s wife. Perhaps I’m just a cold-hearted bastard, but that just doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to throw out a friendship and/or hold a grudge for all these years. Sure, you can be disappointed, but get over it and move on, I say.

If there is anything that one can get out of Last Vegas, it is that old people can have just as much fun, if not more, than younger folks. This comedy showcases that and even shows that they can still get with the ladies (for lack of a more appropriate phrase) like the jazz/lounge singer played by Joanna Cassidy, something we don’t normally see on film, at least in a more “realistic” sense. Do I recommend this film? Yes, very highly. I had no idea that I would enjoy this film as much as I did. This has definitely been one of the best surprises of the year. Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

The Nines

Posted in Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , on March 29, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Gary is a troubled actor who is wearing a green bracelet on his wrist, under house arrest living in another person’s house because he burned down his own. The owner of the house is described as a TV writer away on work. While living in the house he is befriended by both a P.R. ‘handler’, Margaret, and the single mom next door, Sarah, who may or may not be interested in him romantically. Over the course of his house arrest, Gary becomes convinced that he is being haunted by the number nine, including finding a note saying “Look for the nines” in his handwriting. He encounters many occurrences of the number nine, while playing backgammon he rolls nines, while reading newspaper advertisements he becomes obsessed with finding nines. Asking Sarah about the number 9 worries her and she cryptically tells him “I can get you out of here”. He also sees different versions of himself around the house, which unsettles him, causing him to break out of his house arrest barrier, which in turn causes a blip in reality.

A television writer, Gavin, trying to get his pilot produced. He leaves home to work on his TV show, Knowing, about a mother and daughter who are lost, which stars his friend Melissa as the lead actress. In a conversation about reviews and critics Susan, a television executive and producer of the show, tells Gavin to look for the nines which he then writes on a piece of paper, the same piece which Gary found in Part One. He also tells Melissa he thinks he is haunted by himself. During the process of post production, Susan pushes for Gavin to ditch his friend Melissa as the unconventional lead of his project in favor of a more attractive, well-known actress. This causes an argument between him and Melissa. He then finds out that the well-known actress was actually cast in another show which Susan knew of before suggesting her. Since she is now unavailable and Melissa won’t answer Gavin’s calls, he confronts Susan about her knowing his show would never get picked up and about him only being a subject on a reality television show. After a heated exchange, he snaps and slaps her. Insulting his manhood for hitting a woman, she scoffs “Do you think you are a man?” and walks away, which leads to him telling the reality TV cameraman to leave him alone. A pedestrian then asks him who he is talking to, and it is shown that the reality television cameraman does not exist. He looks around and notices that everyone has a 7 floating above their heads and also that he has a 9 floating above his head.

A flashback from Part One shows Gary’s P.R. handler, Margaret, telling him he is a God-like being and that God is a 10, humans are a 7 and that he is a 9, therefore he can destroy the world with a single thought, and that he exists in many different forms and that none of them are real. Gary does not believe this and flips out, which is revealed to be the real reason for his breaking his house arrest barrier in Part One.

Acclaimed video game designer Gabriel, whose car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, leaves his wife, Mary, and young daughter, Noelle, to try to get a better signal on his phone. He meets a woman, Sierra (Davis), who leads him off into the woods to her car, so she can give him a lift to the gas station. Meanwhile back at the car Noelle watches a video on a digital camera showing Gavin talking to Melissa from Part Two and Margaret talking to Gary in Part One. She is confused and shows her mom, who appears confused as well.

Meanwhile, Gabriel shows signs of intoxication, as Sierra had drugged water she was giving him with GHB. She has been trying all along as Sarah, Sierra, Susan to separate the other three incarnations of “G” from Mary. That poisoning him with GHB was the only way to get him to stop long enough to reason with him. She calms Gabriel by telling him that this is an intervention and they (the Prostitute from part 1, and parole officer/agitated man), were trying to help him come home. She likens Gabriel’s addiction to video game addiction. That Gabriel has been playing for 4,000 years reincarnating into different roles to play with the humans. The 3 nines plead with him to come back home.

Back at the car, Noelle has gone missing. Gabriel then returns to the car with Noelle in his arms and the family goes home. Mary, who realizes that he is not who he seems, tells Gabriel he needs to go and that the world is not real. Gabriel tells her that there were ninety different variations of the universe and this is the last one. Gabriel then realizes he must go and removes the green bracelet from his wrist, at which point the universe peels away into nothing. The film ends with the woman from all three parts married to Ben, whom she is married to in Part Two, and Noelle as their daughter. Noelle tells her mother that “he’s not coming back” and that “all the pieces have been put together” and her mother finishes her sentence that this is “the best of all possible worlds.”

REVIEW:

The Nines is one of those films that no one really knows much about, and yet it has major stars like Ryan Reynolds and Melissa McCarthy. When I heard about this film, I was intrigued…and confused. Watching the film, makes me even more confused, but is it enjoyable is the bigger question, correct?

What is this about? Three stories converge in this indie thriller. In “The Prisoner,” an actor is under house arrest; in “Reality Television,” a TV producer struggles to launch a new series; and in “Knowing,” a video-game designer seeks help for his stranded family. What is this about?

Molly. These days, Melissa McCarthy is best known for her comedic chops (good and bad), but it wasn’t that long ago, apparently, that she was actually a decent actress. Remember when she was on Gilmore Girls? Well, in this role, she shines as a dramatic actress, something we never would have expected from her watching her current work. I should also mention that, while she is still a beautiful woman, for some reason, she was absolutely radiant in this flick.

On your toes. Man, oh man, this is a film that keeps you on your toes. Yes, it can be a bit slow in parts, but it keeps you interested and invested in what is going on in the film. As confusing as this film is, it doesn’t lose your interests because you are drawn in with the intrigue of how these three stories eventually intertwine.

Sex appeal. In just about every film that I’ve seen Ryan Reynolds in, at least the ones where he’s doing his sarcastic guy schtick, he seems to find some way to play up the sex appeal angle. This film, much like he did in Buried, he lets his acting do the talking for him, rather than his abs. Give the string of box office bombs the guy has had lately, maybe he needs to go back to this formula, especially since it works so well. Reynolds, much like McCarthy, is quite the competent actor, but we just don’t know it because of the roles he takes these days.

What didn’t I like?

Hope. A good leading actress can make or break a film, sometimes by their talent, sometimes by their looks, other times by a mixture of both. In the case of Hope Davis, however, she doesn’t do anything but bring this film down with her bitchiness and wooden acting. Perhaps this is because I am a little biased with my love for Melissa McCarthy and the way this chick treated her didn’t sit right with me, but there was no hope for me liking Hope in this flick. From other reviews that I’ve read, she doesn’t really resonate with audiences, either.

Being. Not to spoil anything, but there is a higher plane of existence that is the driving force behind this film. It is just something that has to be seen to understand. I’m not going to even make a sad attempt to explain that, especially without spoiling anything. I actually like that plot point, but the fact that it isn’t revealed until the very end didn’t sit well with me. I’m not saying the twist should have been revealed in the first 10 minutes, but there had to be a better place to do so than in the last few minutes, or at the very lease give us a better build up!

Weight. In section two, as with every other film she’s in, Melissa McCarthy’s weight is brought up. Unlike in her current films, though, this makes sense. McCarthy is portrayed as a caricature of herself (she’s playing herself). She is excited about a new show her friend, played by Reynolds, has hired her for, even going so far as to buy a house. Of course, the powers that be, and Hope Davis’ character, push for her to be replaced because she “doesn’t have the conventional look”. I don’t need to tell you what means, do I? In the scene where she gets the news, she gives a bit of an over emotional performance, in my eyes. At the same time, this is just another way for Davis’ character to make her life hell, as she seems to be doing the entire film.

There was a film that starred Will Ferrell, I can’t remember what the name of it is right now, in which he was seeing things that he created. The Nines, a film that probably should have been released the year that every other film with the number 9 in it was released, took me back to that for some reason. As I was watching this flick, there wasn’t anything to get excited about. This is just another weird thriller that was made for the sake of being made. After the credits roll, you are sure to forget it, so no, I do not recommend it.

3 out of 5 stars

Blade Runner (Director’s Cut)

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Los Angeles, November 2019, retired police officer Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is detained by officer Gaff (Edward James Olmos) and brought to meet with his former supervisor, Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh). Deckard, whose job as a “Blade Runner” was to track down bioengineered beings known as replicants and “retire” (euphemism for the killing of replicants) them, is told by Bryant that several have come to Earth illegally. As Tyrell Corporation Nexus-6 models, they have only a four year lifespan and may have come to Earth to try to extend their lives.

Deckard watches a video of a Blade Runner named Holden (Morgan Paull) administering a “Voight-Kampff” test designed to distinguish replicants from humans based on their empathic response to questions. The subject of the test, Leon (Brion James), shoots Holden after Holden asks about Leon’s mother. Bryant wants Deckard to retire Leon and three other replicants; Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy), and Pris (Daryl Hannah). Deckard initially refuses, but after Bryant ambiguously threatens him, he reluctantly agrees.

Deckard begins his investigation at the Tyrell Corporation to ensure that the test works on Nexus-6 models. While there, he discovers that Dr. Eldon Tyrell’s (Joe Turkel) assistant Rachael (Sean Young) is an experimental replicant who believes herself to be human. Rachael has been given false memories to provide an “emotional cushion”. As a result, a more extensive test is required to determine whether she is a replicant.

Events are then set into motion that pit Deckard’s search for the replicants against their search for Tyrell to force him to extend their lives. Roy and Leon go to the eye-manufacturing laboratory of Chew (James Hong) to find a way to meet with Tyrell. Although he is unable to give them access to Tyrell directly, he divulges, in fear of his life, the identity of J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), a gifted designer who works closely with Tyrell. Rachael visits Deckard at his apartment to prove her humanity by showing him a family photo, but after Deckard reveals that her memories are only implants taken from a real person, she drops the photograph and leaves his apartment in tears. Pris then follows the lead obtained from Chew and gains the confidence of Sebastian outside his apartment, where he lives with manufactured companions. He asks if she is hungry and offers food and shelter for the night. She accepts.

While searching Leon’s apartment, Deckard finds a photo of Zhora and a synthetic snake scale that leads him to a strip club where Zhora works. Deckard retires Zhora and shortly after is told by Bryant to add Rachael to his list of retirements because she has disappeared from the Tyrell Corporation headquarters. Deckard spots Rachael in a crowd but is attacked by Leon. Rachael kills Leon using Deckard’s gun, and the two return to Deckard’s apartment, where he promises not to hunt her. Later they share an intimate moment; Rachael then tries to leave, but Deckard physically restrains her.

Arriving at Sebastian’s apartment, Roy tells Pris the others are dead. Sympathetic to their plight, Sebastian reveals that because of a genetic disorder that accelerates his aging, his life will also be cut short. Sebastian and Roy gain entrance into Tyrell’s secure penthouse, where Roy demands more life from his maker. Tyrell tells him that it is impossible. Roy confesses that he has done “questionable things” which Tyrell dismisses, praising Roy’s advanced design and accomplishments in his short life. Roy responds with “nothing the god of biomechanics wouldn’t let you into heaven for” and kisses Tyrell, then kills him. Sebastian runs for the elevator followed by Roy, who then rides the elevator down alone.

Upon entering Sebastian’s apartment, Deckard is ambushed by Pris, but manages to kill her just as Roy returns. Roy fights Deckard without using his full strength, chasing him through the building and ending up on the roof. In an attempt to escape, Deckard tries to jump to another roof, but ends up hanging from the rooftop. Roy makes the same jump with ease, and as Deckard’s grip loosens, Roy hoists him onto the roof, saving him. As his life runs out, Roy delivers a monologue about how his memories are about to be lost. Then he dies in front of Deckard, who watches silently. Gaff arrives and, referring to Rachael, shouts to Deckard, “It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again, who does?” Deckard returns to his apartment to find Rachael sleeping in his bed. As they leave, Deckard finds a small tin-foil unicorn, a calling card left by his origami-making partner Gaff. Depending on the version, Deckard and Rachael either leave the apartment block to an uncertain future, or drive through an idyllic pastoral landscape.

REVIEW:

I’m probably going to get my sci-fi fan card revoked for saying this, but before tonight, I had never seen Blade Runner. Critics and fans alike hold this film in high esteem, even the book which it based on, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep? by Philip K. Dick, has been called great. As we all know, sometimes great books don’t necessarily translate into great film, especially in alternate cuts, such as the director’s cut of this film.

What is this about?

In a smog-choked dystopian Los Angeles, blade runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is called out of retirement to snuff a quartet of escaped “replicants” — androids consigned to slave labor on remote planets — seeking to extend their short life spans. This version,  director Ridley Scott’s cut,  comes with a different ending and the omission of Ford’s narration, giving the film a different tone.

What did I like?

Plausability. Here we are in the year 2014, as many time travel and futuristic films have led us to believe, by now we should be getting ready to be overtaken by robot overlords who will scorch the earth and leave us with nothing but rations (the scenario that I think will happen sooner than we all think), or we’ll have flying cars, 80s cafes, and $10 gas. The jury is still out on that one. This film though, takes a more realistic approach to the future, 2019 is the exact year, as the robots, or replicants, aren’t shiny metal housekeepers, but rather synthetic human beings that feel many of the same things we do. I have always envisioned robots as this type of being, and I believe that when we finally get them, that’s what they’ll be.

Tme to die. Philip K. Dick called Rutger Hauer’s portrayal of Roy Batty as “the perfect Batty—cold, Aryan, flawless”. To get that kind of praise from the author is not something that every actor in a film can accomplish. As I watched Hauer’s performance, I can see how Dick was impressed. He gives a great performance, conveying the tragic figure as well as the charismatic, and psychotic, leader of the Nexus 6 group.

Creepy. There is just something about a dilapidated house overrun by toys that is just creepy. Everytime the film returned to this house there were more toys and the creep factor was multiplied even more. With the added pans over to this one Pinocchio-nose having toy, this thing was almost like a horror film, and a good one at that. Such a shame the toys weren’t really part of the plot, though.

What didn’t I like?

Pacing. I went into this dreading the runtime. Netflix led me to believe this was a 4 hr film, but apparently they just combined the runtime of the original and director’s cuts to come up with that figure. At just under 2 hrs, this still felt like it was nearly 4 because it moved along so slow and didn’t really seem like it as going anywhere. Eventually, it did, but that doesn’t change my mind about the pacing.

Unicorn. Apparently, unicorns play a pretty big role in the psyche of Harrison Ford’s character. In the director’s cut of the film, that point isn’t emphasized as much as it is said to be in the original. I am not really sure why this was cut out for the director’s cut, but it was, and not for the better. It is so rare that we get unicorns in film these days, it would have been nice to just get a regular unicorn hallucination, if you ask me.

It all comes to an ending. Again, it should be noted that I watched the director’s cut has a totally different ending than the original. This ending leaves the audience with questions. Given the tone of this edit of the film, the argument can be made about whether it fits or not, but for me, I guess I just need some kind of resolution from my movies, rather than an open ended ending.

As Blade Runner came to a close, I immediately thought to myself, should I watch the original? I believe the answer is yes. From what I’ve read, it makes more sense, has a better ending, and is easier to follow. That isn’t to say the director’s cut isn’t without its positive marks. It is well known how different, and superior, the Richard Donner cut of Superman II differs from the theatrical release. This film follows a similar pattern. Do I recommend it? Well, I do, but not this version. I believe that the original version would work better for general audiences. That being said, this is still a great picture.

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 3/27

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on March 27, 2014 by Mystery Man

Welcome to another edition of “Trailer Thursday”

This week, we go back to the year 1981 (thanks, Kasey)

I love Mel Brooks’ movies, and History of the World, part I has been considered one of his funniest outings. Take a gander and see if you’d be interested in checking it out sometime (whether you’ve seen it or not)

Moonraker

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A Drax Industries Moonraker space shuttle on loan to the United Kingdom is hijacked in mid-air and MI6 operative, James Bond, agent 007, is assigned to investigate. En route to England in a small charter plane, Bond is attacked by the pilot and crew and pushed out of the plane by the mercenary assassin Jaws. Bond survives by stealing a parachute from the pilot, whilst Jaws lands on a circus tent.

Bond proceeds to the Drax Industries shuttle-manufacturing complex where he meets the owner of the company, Hugo Drax, and henchman Chang. Bond also meets an astronaut, Dr. Holly Goodhead and survives an assassination attempt via a centrifuge chamber. Bond is later aided by Drax’s personal pilot, Corinne Dufour, as he finds blueprints for a glass vial made in Venice. Bond then foils another attempt on his life, using a hunting shotgun to shoot a sniper. Upon discovering that Dufour assisted Bond’s investigations, Drax has her killed.

Bond again encounters Goodhead in Venice where he is chased through the canals by Drax’s henchmen. He discovers a secret biological laboratory, and by accidentally poisoning the scientists there, he learns that the glass vials are to hold a nerve gas deadly to humans, but harmless to animals. Chang attacks Bond and is killed, but during the fight, Bond finds evidence that Drax is moving his operation to Rio de Janeiro. Rejoining Goodhead, he deduces that she is a CIA agent spying on Drax. They promise to work together, but quickly dispense with the truce. Bond has saved one of the vials he found earlier, as the only evidence of the now-empty laboratory, giving it to M for analysis, who permits him to go to Rio de Janeiro under the pretence of being on leave.

In Rio, Bond meets his Brazilian contact Manuela. Drax hires Jaws to finish Chang’s job of eliminating Bond. Bond meets Goodhead at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, where they are attacked by Jaws on a cable car. After Jaws’ car crashes he is rescued from the rubble by Dolly, and the two fall in love. Bond and Goodhead are captured by henchmen, but Bond escapes and reports to an MI6 base in Brazil and learns that the toxin comes from a rare orchid indigenous to the Amazon jungle. Bond travels the Amazon River looking for Drax’s research facility and again encounters Jaws and other henchmen. Bond escapes from his boat just before it hits the Iguazu Falls, and finds Drax’s base. Captured by Jaws again, Bond is taken to Drax and witnesses four Moonrakers lifting off. Drax explains that he stole the Moonraker because another in the fleet had developed a fault during assembly. Bond is reunited with Goodhead; they escape and successfully pose as pilots on the sixth shuttle. The shuttles dock with Drax’s space station, hidden from radar by a cloaking device.

Once on board the station, Bond and Holly disable the radar jamming cloaking device, resulting in the United States sending a platoon of Marines to intercept the now-visible space station. Jaws captures Bond and Holly and brings them to Drax.

Drax plans to destroy human life by launching fifty globes containing the nerve gas into the Earth’s atmosphere. Before launching them, Drax also transported several dozen genetically perfect young men and women of varying races, to the space station. They would live there until Earth was safe again for human life; their descendants would be the seed for a “new master race”. Bond persuades Jaws and Dolly to switch their allegiance by getting Drax to admit that anyone not measuring up to his physical standards would be exterminated and Jaws attacks Drax’s guards.

A laser battle ensues both inside and outside the space station, in which Drax’s guards and his master race are all killed. During the battle, Bond shoots Drax with a cyanide-tipped dart, then pushes him into an airlock and ejects him into space.

In order to destroy the three already launched globes and return to Earth, Goodhead and Bond use Drax’s personal shuttle, while at the same time observing Jaws and Dolly escape from the disintegrating space station.

REVIEW:

As the 70s were coming to a close, it seems as if films were changing to show the influence of a little film you may have heard of, Star Wars. Moonraker features James Bond…in space. Given that Bond is a spy, going to space isn’t something that seems plausible, at least to me, but perhaps this film could offer some entertaining surprises.

What is this about?

Agent 007 blasts into orbit in this action-packed adventure that takes him to not only Venice, Italy, and Rio de Janeiro but to outer space as he investigates the hijacking of an American space shuttle by a power-mad industrialist.

What did I like?

I go to Rio. The Bond films that I’ve seen up to this point have all be showcases for great locations, but I think this one takes the cake. Ever since I got into Assassin’s Creed, I’ve been noticing how accurate the locations are. Part of this film takes place in Italy, which doesn’t seem to have changed any since the 15th century. Also, there is Rio during Carnival. The party atmosphere is captured, as well as some of the natural beauty of the country when they aren’t enjoying the festivities.

Tone. When the film began, it seems as if this was going to be a more serious film…then we get to boat chase in Venice. If you’ve ever seen a chase in pretty much any 60s sitcom, then you know there is a comedic look to them. Well, the boat chase, while exciting, has a comedic tone to it, including some Scooby-Doo-type gags with gondola drivers (or whatever they’re called). The rest of film follow through with this shift in tone from serious to over-the-top, and I was eating it up, much in the same way that I hear it does in The Spy Who Loved Me. (somehow I skipped that one in chronological order).

Musical cues. Out of nowhere, some popular scores were used throughout the film. First, there is 5 note sequence from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is used as a lab entrance code. Quite inspired use of the theme if you ask me. Also used is “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, perhaps best known as the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Finally, and this one came out of the blue, the theme to The Magnificent Seven is used as Bond is riding up to MI6 headquarters, strangely enough looking like Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”. As a film and music fan, I appreciated the homages to earlier masterpieces.

What didn’t I like?

Girls. If there is one thing that James Bond has consistently been known for, it is the super hotties known as Bond Girls. For some odd reason, I didn’t find the girls in this film to be anything more than above average, at best. No, they weren’t ugly by any stretch of the imagination, but they just felt rather plain. The only one that was memorable was the girl in Rio, and that was only because of her exotic beauty.

Villainous wood. With a name like Hugo Drax and the prerequisite Van Dyke style of facial hair that often signifies the villain, one would imagine that this guy would be a great villain. I don’t believe any statement could be further from the truth. Of all the Bond baddies I’ve come across up to this point, this guy is the most wooden, and he is upstaged by his replacement bodyguard, Jaws, who really isn’t on screen for more than 5 minutes, tops.

Pew. Pew. One of the most made fun of tropes in movies and television is the sound and look of lasers. Well, guess who decided to have henchmen in space shooting lasers? If you said this film, then you would be correct. I can’t believe they sunk to that level, but they did, and it wasn’t done effectively, either. This didn’t even looked like they tried and was almost offensive it was so bad, but at the same time, I can appreciate the cheesiness.

How does Moonraker stack up to the rest of the Bond franchise that I’ve seen so far? It is somewhat enjoyable, but I can’t get over the fact that they “jumped the shark” and put Bond into space. Thankfully, this didn’t last long, and Bond returns to normal in the next film, from my understanding. Not surprisingly, this film was not well-received by critics and fans, but still ended up being the highest grossing of the films until the release of GoldenEye. Do I recommend this film? Yes, even though it is a bit over the top and the space stuff just doesn’t fit a character like James Bond, it is still an enjoyable film. Check it out if you get the chance!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Captains Courageous

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2014 by Mystery Man

Captains Courageous

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew) is the spoiled son of an indulgent absentee father, business tycoon Frank Burton Cheyne (Melvyn Douglas). He is shunned by his classmates at a private boarding school, and eventually suspended for the remainder of the term due to bad behavior. His father realizes that the boy needs closer attention and guidance, so he takes his son with him on a business trip to Europe via a trans-Atlantic steamship.

En route, Harvey, as a result of another display of arrogance, falls overboard in the area of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. He is rescued by a Portuguese-American fisherman, Manuel Fidello (Spencer Tracy), and taken aboard the fishing schooner We’re Here. Harvey fails to persuade captain Disko Troop (Lionel Barrymore) to take him ashore, nor can he convince him of his wealth. However, the captain offers him a low-paid job as part of the crew until they return to port three months later. With no other choice, Harvey eventually accepts. Befriended by Captain Troop’s son, Dan (Mickey Rooney), he begins to learn the ways of working at sea.

Under the guidance of Manuel, and observing his equally tough crew-mates, Harvey thrives, coming to learn that his former practices of cheating, bragging and whining are not an acceptable way of life. He also finds the father figure in Manuel he never had with his own father, and pleads with Manuel to allow him to remain on the We’re Here after their return. In the climactic race back to the Gloucester, Massachusetts port against a rival schooner, the Jennie Cushman, Manuel volunteers to climb to the top of the mast to furl the sail, but is mortally injured when the mast cracks and he is plunged into the water, caught irreversibly in the tangled rope and the topsail canvas. Manuel is cut loose of the ropes to sink below the surface to his death, and Harvey loses his surrogate father and best friend.

Eventually, the schooner returns to port and Harvey is reunited with his father. Rushing to Gloucester, Harvey’s father is surprised to find that his self-centered child has become mature and considerate. Harvey refuses to be comforted by his father, preferring to mourn for Manuel alone, but eventually comes around.

REVIEW:

Back when I was in school, there was a list of books that teachers expected us to read. I think by the time I graduated high school, I believe only 5 or 6 off of that list of nearly 100. One of those that I didn’t get to but still caught my attention was Captains Courageous. To this day, I still haven’t read the book, but I was in a bit of a literary mood today, so I figured why not try the movie?

What is this about?

Based on a novel by Rudyard Kipling, this classic adventure tale stars Spencer Tracy in an Oscar-winning performance as Manuel, an old salt who fishes spoiled, rich brat Harvey Cheyne (Freddie Bartholomew) out of the drink. When the vessel’s skipper (Lionel Barrymore) puts Harvey to work, the boy chafes at the idea. But crusty Manuel takes the lad under his wing and teaches Harvey invaluable life lessons through patience, forgiveness and resolve.

What did I like?

The more you know. There is a lesson to be learned from watching this film. I won’t spoil what happens to the main character, but I will say that the change he goes through is a vast improvement from where starts the film and just goes to show that a little hard work and humility sometimes is all it takes to get ahead in life.

Rivalry. Amongst fishing boats, there is a rivalry to get the best spots out on the wide open sea to catch fish. As one can imagine, this leads to various captains forging a rivalry. What this film manages to do effectively is portray the friendly rivalry between two of the captains (and their crews), while not straying too far from the main plot to do so.

Father. Spencer Tracy should have been given star credit for this film. He steals the show with his character, Manuel. This guy is charismatic, funny, sympathetic, and takes in Freddie Bartholomew’s character after saving him from drowning. His relationship with the kid is very much like Jim and Mr. Silver in Treasure Planet. The father son dynamic that slowly grows as the film goes on is a feel good aspect of the film.

What didn’t I like?

Harvey. Again, I haven’t read the book, but my good gravy is this Harvey kid a horrible excuse for a human being for most of the film. Often, I have complained about how kids in film are the living embodiment of all that is wrong with our society. With most modern films, I stand by that statement. However, back in the Golden Era of Hollywood, when this was made, annoying kids weren’t the norm, which makes Freddie Bartholomew’s performance that much more ahead of its time, if you will.

Teach a man to fish. Blame my mother for eating almost nothing but fish when she was pregnant with me, but I cannot stand fish! Each time Spencer Tracy’s character said fish in that bad Portuguese accent, it started to grate on me. I appreciate his commitment to the character, but one can only take hearing fish pronounced incorrectly before it becomes too much.

Ethnic cleanse. I hate to bring this up, but it was more than obvious that Spencer Tracy was not Portuguese, and I’m not talking just about his accent. During this time in film history, studious weren’t exactly going out of their way to cast ethnically correct actors, when they can just take a big name actor and give them a tan. Of course, given some of the casting choices these days such as Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger or just about anyone that wasn’t a bad guy in that abhorrent The Last Airbender, it is apparent that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

A nice little classic film, Captains Courageous offers excitement, drama, and comedy, as well as some culture, as this is a film based on a book. However, there are quite a few moments where this flick fails to capture and keep my attention, perhaps because I have become so used to seeing some kind of sea monster or other nautical danger when I watch a film set mostly at sea. Do I recommend this film? Yes, it is a solid classic film. When I read the book, I will be returning to watch this film again in search of the differences, additions, and subtractions. I suggest you try the same.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars