Archive for January, 2015

Mortdecai (review should go here)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 31, 2015 by Mystery Man

As you can see by the title of this post, I was supposed to be reviewing Mortdecai in this spot. So what happened?

Theater/camera issues that caused the place to refund us (all 7 people) our money and give us a free pass for a movie in the next year (I’m saving mine for one of the big ones in the summer, rather than going back and try to watch this again).

While I was able to catch bits and pieces, I don’t feel I saw enough to give a quality review, so the review for this film will have to wait until it comes on Netflix, HBO, or DVD.

I apologize to any of you that were looking forward to hearing what I had to say about this film that has already been trashed by just about everyone that has seen it.

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Trailer Thursday 1/29

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on January 29, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Someone suggested that I go back and visit the B-movie horror of the 50s and 60s. Not sure if I’m going to do that, but I can give you a shot at one of the most recognizable genre films of that era, The Blob.

Take a look at the trailer and enjoy!

 

Revisited: 300

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

One year after the famed Battle of Thermopylae, Dilios, a hoplite in the Spartan Army, begins his story by depicting the life of Leonidas I from childhood to kingship via Spartan doctrine. Dilios’s story continues and Persian messengers arrive at the gates of Sparta demanding “earth and water” as a token of submission to King Xerxes; the Spartans reply by killing and kicking the messengers into a well. Leonidas then visits the Ephors, proposing a strategy to drive back the numerically superior Persians through the Hot Gates; his plan involves building a wall in order to funnel the Persians into a narrow pass between the rocks and the sea. The Ephors consult the Oracle, who decrees that Sparta will not go to war during the Carneia. As Leonidas angrily departs, a messenger from Xerxes appears, rewarding them for their covert support.

Although the Ephors have denied him permission to mobilize Sparta’s army, Leonidas gathers three hundred of his best soldiers in the guise of his personal bodyguard; they are joined along the way by Arcadians. At Thermopylae, they construct the wall made up of stones and slain Persian scouts as mortar, angering the Persian Emissary. Stelios, an elite Spartan soldier, orders him to go back to the Persian lines and warn Xerxes after cutting off his whipping arm. Meanwhile, Leonidas encounters Ephialtes, a deformed Spartan whose parents fled Sparta to spare him certain infanticide. Ephialtes asks to redeem his father’s name by joining Leonidas’ army, warning him of a secret (goat) path the Persians could use to outflank and surround the Spartans. Though sympathetic, Leonidas rejects him since his deformity physically prevents him from properly holding his shield; this could compromise the phalanx formation. Ephialtes is enraged.

The battle begins soon after the Spartans’ refusal to lay down their weapons. Using the Hot Gates to their advantage, plus their superior fighting skills, the Spartans repel wave upon wave of the advancing Persian army. During a lull in the battle, Xerxes personally approaches Leonidas to persuade him to surrender, offering him wealth and power in exchange for his allegiance; Leonidas declines and mocks Xerxes for the inferior quality of his fanatical warriors. In response, Xerxes sends in his elite guard, the Immortals later that night. Despite some Spartans being killed, they heroically defeat the Immortals (with slight help from the Arcadians). On the second day, Xerxes sends in new waves of armies from Asia and other Persian city-states, including war elephants, to crush the Spartans once and for all, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Ephialtes defects to Xerxes to whom he reveals the secret path in exchange for wealth, luxury, and (especially) a uniform. The Arcadians retreat upon learning of Ephialtes’ betrayal, but the Spartans stay. Leonidas orders an injured but reluctant Dilios to return to Sparta and tell them of what has happened, a “tale of victory”.

In Sparta, Queen Gorgo is persuaded by the Spartan Council to send reinforcements to aid the 300. Theron, a corrupt politician, claims that he “owns” the Council and threatens the Queen, who reluctantly submits to his sexual demands in return for his help. When Theron disgraces her in front of the Council, Gorgo kills him out of rage, revealing within his robe a bag of Xerxes’ gold. Marking his betrayal, the Council unanimously agrees to send reinforcements. On the third day, the Persians, led by Ephialtes, traverse the secret path, encircling the Spartans. Xerxes’ general again demands their surrender. Leonidas seemingly kneels in submission, allowing Stelios to leap over him and kill the general. A furious Xerxes orders his troops to attack. Leonidas rises and throws his spear at Xerxes; barely missing him, the spear cuts across and wounds his face, proving the God-King’s mortality. Leonidas and the remaining Spartans fight to the last man until they finally succumb to an arrow barrage.

Dilios, now back at Sparta, concludes his tale before the Council. Inspired by their King’s sacrifice, the Persians will now face a larger Greek army 40,000 strong, led by 10,000 Spartans. After one final speech commemorating the 300, Dilios, now head of the Spartan Army, leads them into battle against the Persians across the fields of Plataea, ending the film.

REVIEW:

Sword and sandal epics are a dime a dozen, especially if you go back to the mid-late 60s or so. Those things came out like every weekend. In order to stand out in a genre that is clouded with masterpieces, flops, and mediocrity, something innovative must be done. Does 300 do this? I don’t know about all that, but one thing is for certain, it does have a unique look.

What is this about?

In a conflict pitting the ancient Greeks against the Persians in 480 B.C., Spartan King Leonidas leads his small band of 300 soldiers against an army of more than 1 million during the Battle of Thermopylae.

What did I like?

Elegant in its simplicity. Please don’t go into this film with any kind of expectations for an epic story, because it is just not there. While it is based on actual events from history, the true source material for this film is a comic book that took liberties with those facts. Does that make this a bad film? No, for someone like me, taking out all the drama and exposition in favor of action was a brilliant decision. Others may feel the opposite, so it is a matter of personal opinion.

Distinctive look. Despite your stance on the plot, you cannot deny that this flick has a distinctive look. Well, it did at the time it was released. Now it has been copied to death, much like the bullet time effect from The Matrix. What do I think of the look? Well, the fact that is not in full color, but rather some sepia tones and red is an interesting choice. Given the graphic nature of this film, though, it works very well, not to mention puts you in the mindset of watching the comic on screen.

The Butler. Gerard Butler is an actor that perplexes me. In all the action films I’ve seen him in, he seems to be a perfect fit (this includes the much reviled Gamer). However, I think this was the last action film he did before he went to rom-coms. I’m not saying the guy shouldn’t branch out, but every one of those films just felt like he was itching to do something more. Eventually he did get back into action with one of those movies about the White House being taken over that came out last year or the year before. I forgot which one he was in. At any rate, Butler as King Leonidas deliver a performance that is, well worthy of a king. He is eloquent and moving in his speech, showing that he is indeed a great actor, but also kicks ass in the fighting scenes.

What didn’t I like?

Queen. A king must have a queen. This is why we have Lena Headey. For her role, she does a decent job. I’ve never really been a fan of her, even today when I watch Game of Thrones, though. If I recall, she isn’t a major factor in the books, which means that some screenwriter beefed up her role to give us a strong female character. Ok, that would be fine, except for the fact that she in the only female character, save for some whores and concubines the Persians have. So, why do this? Just cast some random hot chick to fawn all over Butler as his doting queen and save the powerful women for the sequel. This is not a film aimed at women, at least in that way, so no real reason to attempt to give them someone to relate to, I’m sorry.

Sparta = Scotland. I don’t know what it is with me and accents, but I have to point this out. Gerard Butler uses his natural Scottish accent as the king of Sparta, a country in Greece. I could overlook that, except none of the other Spartans spoke with the same accent. I think Michael Fassbender’s character might have had his Irish come out, but I think he was doing his American, like everybody else. The Spartans weren’t the only one with accent issues. Over on the Persian side, Xerxes has a vaguely Hispanic accent, while the other are a gumbo of everything from British to ebonics. If nothing else, you major characters should agree on the dialect, right?

Darkness falls. This is a dark film. Not because of the subject matter, but because of the lighting…or lack thereof. Throw in the way they decided to use color and it makes it very hard to know what is going on. I can imagine that this looked even worse sitting in theaters with 3D glasses on. Should the darkness be taken away? No, this is a war film, after all, but I do think turning the brightness up a hair would help.

Much has been said about 300 since its release. Some good and some bad. I find that you either love or hate this movie. What side am I on? I love it! The action, the sword and sandal epicness, the blood…all come together to make a fun watch. Is this a film for everyone? No, not by a longshot, but for the audience that this appeals to, we will all love and enjoy it. Give it a shot and see which side you fall on!

4 out of 5 stars

The Living Daylights

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

James Bond—Agent 007—is assigned to aid the defection of a KGB officer, General Georgi Koskov, covering his escape from a concert hall in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia during the orchestra’s intermission. During the mission, Bond notices that the KGB sniper assigned to prevent Koskov’s escape is a female cellist from the orchestra. Disobeying his orders to kill the sniper, he instead shoots the rifle from her hands, then uses the Trans-Siberian Pipeline to smuggle Koskov across the border into Austria and then on to Britain.

In his post-defection debriefing, Koskov informs MI6 that the KGB’s old policy of Smiert Spionom, meaning Death to Spies, has been revived by General Leonid Pushkin, the new head of the KGB. Koskov is later abducted from the safe-house and assumed to have been taken back to Moscow. Bond is directed to track down Pushkin in Tangier and kill him in order to forestall further killings of agents and escalation of tensions between the Soviet Union and the West. Although Bond’s prior knowledge of Pushkin initially leads him to doubt Koskov’s claims, he agrees to carry out the mission when he learns that the assassin who killed 004 (as depicted in the pre-title sequence) left a note bearing the same message, “Smiert Spionom.”

Bond returns to Bratislava to track down the cellist, Kara Milovy. He determines that Koskov’s entire defection was staged, and that Milovy is actually Koskov’s girlfriend. Bond convinces Milovy that he is a friend of Koskov’s and persuades her to accompany him to Vienna, supposedly to be reunited with him. Meanwhile, Pushkin meets with arms dealer Brad Whitaker in Tangier, informing him that the KGB is cancelling an arms deal previously arranged between Koskov and Whitaker.

During his brief tryst with Milovy in Vienna, Bond meets his MI6 ally, Saunders, who discovers a history of financial dealings between Koskov and Whitaker. As he leaves their meeting, Saunders is killed by Necros (Koskov and Whitaker’s henchman), who again leaves the message “Smiert Spionom.”

Bond and Milovy promptly leave for Tangier, where Bond confronts Pushkin. Pushkin disavows any knowledge of “Smiert Spionom”, and reveals that Koskov is evading arrest for embezzlement of government funds. Bond and Pushkin then join forces and Bond fakes Pushkin’s assassination, inducing Whitaker and Koskov to progress with their scheme. Meanwhile, Milovy contacts Koskov, who tells her that Bond is actually a KGB agent and convinces her to drug him so he can be captured.

Koskov, Necros, Milovy, and the captive Bond fly to a Soviet air base in Afghanistan—part of the Soviet war in Afghanistan—where Koskov betrays Milovy and imprisons her along with Bond. The pair escape and in doing so free a condemned prisoner, Kamran Shah, leader of the local Mujahideen. Bond and Milovy discover that Koskov is using Soviet funds to buy a massive shipment of opium from the Mujahideen, intending to keep the profits with enough left over to supply the Soviets with their arms.

With the Mujahideen’s help, Bond plants a bomb aboard the cargo plane carrying the opium, but is spotted and has no choice but to barricade himself in the plane. Meanwhile the Mujahideen attack the air base on horseback and engage the Soviets in a gun battle. During the battle, Milovy drives a jeep into the back of the plane as Bond takes off, and Necros also leaps aboard at the last second. After a struggle, Bond throws Necros to his death and deactivates the bomb. Bond then notices Shah and his men being pursued by Soviet forces. He re-activates the bomb and drops it out of the plane and onto a bridge, blowing it up and helping Shah and his men gain an important victory over the Soviets. Bond returns to Tangier to kill Whitaker, as Pushkin arrests Koskov, sending him back to Moscow.

Some time later, Milovy is the lead cellist in a known London performance, her music career solidified by newfound cooperation between the British government and the Soviets providing Kara with travel expenses and allowing her to perform in both countries. After her performance, Bond surprises her in her dressing room and they romantically share their mutual success together.

REVIEW:

A new era in the James Bond franchise is upon me, as Roger Moore steps down and Timothy Dalton takes on the mantle of the suave superspy in The Living Daylights. Will this change affect the character? What about the tone of the film? How will this be received? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

In this turbo-charged action-adventure, suave superspy James Bond is tasked with protecting a Soviet general from a beautiful sniper.

What did I like?

Music makes the world go ’round. As a musician, I will always be more critical and notice things having to do with music than the common movie viewer. The Bond films are well-known for the opening themes and the unmistakable James Bond motif, but this film also throws in a bit of class. You can’t have a Bond girl who is a cello player without having her playing some Mozart, can you? I just can’t see a world-renown musician of her caliber playing some hair band hit on her instrument, even if it might have sounded cool.

Time for a change. Roger Moore was nearly 60 when A View to a Kill was finished, and it showed. The man gave us I believe 7 films over 12 years, so he earned his rest. With a new Bond comes new ways to write for the actor. Take for instance when David Tennant left Doctor Who and was replaced with Matt Smith, who has now been replaced with Peter Capaldi. All have different interpretations of the same character, but each is their own, separate entity. Timothy Dalton, who is going for a darker, more realistic Bond is a far cry from Roger Moore, but perhaps that is what’s needed.

Go go gadget. Bond is known for his gadgetry, but in the films that I’ve seen, they haven’t really been a big part of the film, save for submarine Lotus in The Spy Who Loved Me. While nothing as grand as that appears in this picture, we do get to see a few more of the gadgets and gizmos than I believe we have seen before, which is a big plus for me.

What didn’t I like?

Moneypenny. This is the first film in the franchise to feature a new actress as Ms. Moneypenny. I can’t really say that I like her or not, based on her performance, but I can say that I am not a fan of what they have done, or not done with her character. In the previous films, she had a flirtatious relationship with 007, but here everything is business. WTF?!?

Climax. In the supposed climax, a confrontation with Bond and Whitaker, one would expect there to have been some sort of long, exciting battle, complete with witty repartee and such, right? Wrong! What we get is a few shots, gas, a statue falling down, and some more shots. Seriously, how is this the climax? The stuff with opium was more exciting!!!

Ho-hum. I was warned that Timothy Dalton’s Bond films weren’t going to appeal to me, but I at least thought this would be interesting. I had to catch myself twice from falling asleep! Dalton just doesn’t do it for me as a Bond. I think he does his best work as a villain, anyway. Perhaps the next film will change my mind.

Final verdict on The Living Daylights? It is a definite departure from the Roger Moore era 007. We get a darker Bond, more realistic plot, and the return of the Aston Martin. Does this make this a good film? No, but it doesn’t hurt. What does hurt, though, is the fact that there is no real excitement in this picture. For a good chunk of it, things just seem to be going along with no rhyme or reason. How can the audience get invested in that? With that in mind, I cannot recommend this, unless you are a completest who must see all the films in the franchise.

3 out of 5 stars

Winter’s Tale

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1895, a young immigrant couple is refused entry into Manhattan because they have consumption. When their infant son is not allowed entry to the country without them, the couple place him in a model sailboat named “City of Justice,” in which the baby floats to the New York City shoreline.

In 1916, the baby boy has grown up to become Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), a thief raised by a supernatural demon posing as the gangster Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). Peter is marked for death when he decides to leave Pearly’s gang. In a confrontation, he is rescued by a mysterious (winged at times) white horse, his guardian angel. Although Peter hopes to move to Florida and come back in the summer, the horse encourages him to steal from one last mansion. The mansion is the home where Beverly Penn lives, a young woman dying of consumption, whose fever is so high she sleeps outside in a tent in the winter cold. While her publisher father Isaac, and younger sister Willa, are not home, Beverly discovers Peter Lake preparing to rob the house. When Peter assures her that he no longer wishes to commit robbery, Beverly offers to make him a cup of tea. They tell each other their stories and fall in love.

Pearly orders his men to Beverly’s home, believing that saving her is Peter’s “miracle” and spiritual destiny and that he can destroy Peter by preventing it. Peter rescues Beverly from being knifed by Pearly, and they escape to the Lake of the Coheeries, where Pearly, who is supernaturally limited to the five boroughs of New York, cannot follow. Peter meets Beverly’s family at their summer home and wins their respect. While on a walk, Beverly explains to Peter that everyone is born with a miracle inside, where they are ultimately destined to become stars when they die.

Pearly asks the devil, Lucifer (Will Smith), for access to the lake home, but his request is denied. Instead, Pearly, who refers to himself as a Knight among Lucifer’s angels, calls in a debt owed to him by another of Lucifer’s angels. At a ball, a man poisons Beverly’s drink. When Peter and Beverly return home from the ball, Peter watches the shadows she casts upon the sides of her lighted tent, joins her, and the two make love. Her pulse racing ever faster due to the poison her heart, she dies.

After the funeral, as Peter and his mysterious white Horse return to the city, Pearly and his men surround them on the Brooklyn Bridge. To save its life, Peter orders his mysterious winged Horse to fly away, and Pearly gives Peter five vicious head-butts, pushing him off the bridge. Peter miraculously survives but wanders around the city with amnesia for a century, drawing chalk art of a red-headed girl on the pavements.

In 2014, the century old, but not physically aged, Peter bumps into a girl named Abby and meets her mother, Virginia Gamely. He rediscovers the brass name plate of the “City of Justice,” the toy sailboat his parents placed him in. Peter then discovers the Theatre of the Coheeries, founded by Isaac who has dedicated it to Beverly. He goes to the Isaac Penn Reading Room where Virginia works, and she helps him get his memory back using historical photographs archived at the library. While there, he meets Beverly’s now elderly sister Willa (Eva Marie Saint), who is the boss of Virginia’s newspaper. Abby has a seizure, revealing that she has cancer. Realizing that Abby, who is wearing a red scarf (like his sketches) and has red hair, not Beverly, is his “miracle” and spiritual destiny, Peter convinces Virginia that he can save Abby.

When Pearly learns that Peter is still alive and with Virginia, he is so enraged that he gives up his immortality for a chance to destroy him. Pearly and his men arrive at Virginia’s apartment, causing Peter and Virginia to flee to the rooftop with Abby. The mysterious winged horse flies them to the Lake of the Coheeries, but Pearly, now mortal, can pursue Peter beyond the Five Burroughs. After Horse dispatches Pearly’s men by crashing the ice so they all drown, Peter and Pearly engage in a fistfight and Peter stabs Pearly with the name plate from the “City of Justice.” Pearly turns to snow, and Peter is able to save Abby on the princess bed after his tear falls on her.

After visiting Beverly’s grave one last time, Peter mounts the horse to be carried away to the stars

REVIEW:

Sunday, I was surfing YouTube and across a few “worst of 2014” lists. Winter’s Tale was one most of those lists, but still looked interesting to me. Just like a curious cat, I had to see and hope I haven’t made a huge mistake.

What is this about?

Mark Helprin’s novel provides the basis for this film starring Colin Farrell as a thief who breaks into an ill girl’s home and then falls for her. As the action shifts between past and present, the burglar also acquires a flying-horse guardian angel.

What did I like?

Eat Crowe. Russell Crowe is not an actor that I will go out of my way to see. The guy just doesn’t impress me, I’m sorry. However, it is nice to see that the guy is getting a bit of a career resurgence. There was a time where he sort of fell off the radar. I think that was after a recording of him having some sort of meltdown, though. Also, it appears that Crowe is getting back into shape and not letting “age weight” take over.

Feelings. Much has been made of me and my lack of feelings and emotions. Hey, I’m proud of the “giant black hole where I should have a heart”, as it doesn’t cloud my judgment, theoretically. That being said, I can tell when something is supposed to be all about the “feels”, and this picture seems to scream that it wants you to turn into a ball of tears after at least 3 or 4 scenes, not to mention all the romantic elements. While this is not the kind of thing I go for, there is audience out there for it, and this film appeals to them implicitly.

Fantasy. Time travel. Flying horses. Angels and demons. Immortality. These are elements that appeal to me, as they fall in with the fantasy element that I am more interested in. While taking a backseat to the serious drama of the plot, these elements keep those watching that aren’t doing so for the love story, interested.

What didn’t I like?

Pick your genre. Mixing genres is something that works nine times out of ten, but when it doesn’t, boy howdy is it a flop. This film tries to mix to serious, romantic drama elements with a fantasy subplot. On their own, these elements work, but interspersed, not so much. I cannot tell you why, though. Perhaps it is because so much time is spent on the drama that the fantasy seems tacked on as a way to bring in a male audience. Maybe it is because the use of CG made it seem as if the flying horse or Will Smith as Lucifer, yes I said Will Smith as Lucifer, were nothing more than some sort of hallucination. At any rate, someone dropped the ball in blending these together, and the result is this film that doesn’t quite get a solid footing in either genre.

Saint Eva Marie. I hate to say this, but I actually thought Eva Marie Saint was dead. Who is Eva Marie Saint? Well, I know her best from North By Northwest, which might be her biggest claim to fame, but I could be wrong. This woman has to be in her 80s or 90s, which is the right age for the character, but one has to wonder what grave they dug her out from. Actually, I take that back, for the small scene she’s in, she gives a good performance, just hate that they dragged her out for a couple of scenes and then sent her back to wherever she came from.

Big names, small roles. Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe are the pro- and antagonist for this film. Both are A-list stars, I think we would all agree on, right? Well, there are a couple of other big name stars in here that have actual parts, not cameos, but leave you scratching your head as to why they are there in such a small, meaningless role. First, there is Will Smith. When was the last time he played a bad guy? The closest that I can think of is Hancock, so maybe this was just his way of testing the waters to see if people would accept him on the other side of the law (audiences will need to if that Suicide Squad flick is going to work). He has two scenes, and in one he gets mad and we see some bad CGI teeth, which again make you wonder why? The other big star is Jennifer Connelly. Her character makes sense in the grand scheme of things, but with such a small part of the film, it makes you wonder how much she liked this material, if the casting director got lucky when they called her, or if she owed someone a favor. There is no reason to cast someone as major as Connelly in this role when an up and coming actress such as Ginnifer Goodwin, for example, would have worked just as well. Maybe I’m just being nitpicky, though.

About 15 minutes into Winter’s Tale, I knew this wasn’t for me, but I was hoping something would change my mind. It didn’t, though. I will say that this doesn’t deserve to be one of the worst films of 2014, at least of the films that I saw. I would say it is teetering on the bottom half, but not down there. Final verdict? There is an audience for this film and it consists of hopeless romantics and Colin Ferrell fans. For everyone else this is a complete snoozefest. Your best bet is to avoid it, if you can.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Golden Child

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a temple in an unknown location in northeastern Tibet, a young boy with mystical abilities — the Golden Child — receives badges of station and demonstrates his power to the monks of the temple by reviving a dead bird, which becomes a constant companion. However, a band of villains led by a mysterious man, Sardo Numspa (Charles Dance), breaks into the hidden temple, slaughters the monks and abducts the boy.

Some time afterwards, a young woman named Kee Nang (Charlotte Lewis) watches a Los Angeles TV show in which social worker Chandler Jarrell (Eddie Murphy) talks about his latest case, a missing girl named Cheryll Mosley. She seeks him out the next day and informs him of the kidnapping of the Golden Child and that he is the ‘Chosen One’ who would save the Child. Chandler does not take this seriously, even after the astral form of the Child and his bird familiar begin following him.

Soon Cheryll Mosley is found, dead from blood loss, near an abandoned house smeared with Tibetan graffiti and a pot full of blood-soaked oatmeal. Kee Nang reveals to him that this house was a holding place for the Child and introduces Chandler to Doctor Hong, a mystic expert, and Kala (a creature half dragon, half woman, who remains hidden behind a screen). The three track down a motorcycle gang, the Yellow Dragons, which Cheryll had joined, and Chinese restaurant owner Tommy Tong, a henchman of Numspa, to whom Cheryll had been ‘sold’ for her blood, used to make the Child vulnerable to earthly harm. Tong, however, is killed by Numspa as a potential traitor. Still not taking the case too seriously, Chandler is drawn by Numspa—whom Chandler begins to continuously call “Numsy”—into a controlled dream, where he receives a burn mark on his arm. Numspa also presents his demands: the Ajanti Dagger (a mystic weapon which is capable of killing the Golden Child) in exchange for the boy. Chandler finally agrees to help, and he and Kee Nang spend the night together.

Chandler and Kee travel to Tibet, where Chandler is apparently swindled by an old amulet seller, who is revealed as the High Priest of the temple where the dagger is kept hidden and, subsequently, Kee’s father (Chandler calls him “Monty Hall” or “Monty”). In order to obtain the blade, Chandler has to pass a test: an obstacle course in a bottomless cavern whilst carrying a glass of water without spilling a drop. With luck and wits, Chandler recovers the blade and even manages to bring it past customs into the United States.

Numspa and his henchmen attack Chandler and Kee. The Ajanti Dagger is lost to the villains, and Kee takes a crossbow bolt meant for Chandler, and dies in his arms confessing her love for him. Doctor Hong and Kala offers him hope, for as long as the sun shines upon Kee, the Child might be able to save her. Driven now by a personal motive, Chandler — with the help of the Child’s familiar — locates Numspa’s hideout, and retrieves the dagger with the help of Til, one of Numspa’s men converted to good by the Child, and frees the boy. But when Chandler attempts to confront Numspa, the latter reveals his true face as a demon from hell. Chandler and the Child escape the hideout, only to be tracked down by the demon in a warehouse. Chandler loses the dagger when the warehouse collapses, but Sardo is buried under a chunk of falling masonry. Chandler and the Child escape and head to Doctor Hong’s shop where Kee is being kept.

As the two approach Kee’s body, a badly injured but berserk Numspa attacks Chandler but the amulet the Old Man sold Chandler blasts the dagger from Numspa’s hand. The Child uses his magic to place the dagger back into Chandler’s hands, and Chandler pierces Numspa through the heart with it, destroying him. The Child then uses the last ray of sunlight and his powers to bring Kee back from the dead. As the movie ends, the three take a walk discussing the Child’s return to Tibet and (as Chandler jokingly suggests) the boy’s prospective fame as a stage magician.

REVIEW:

There seemed to be a point where action films could not be successful without an Asian child in the cast. Following in that tradition, we have The Golden Child, a forgotten Eddie Murphy flick that many assume it part of the Beverly Hills Cop franchise.

What is this about?

A fast-talking L.A. social worker goes through a series of traps and terrors to find a kidnapped Tibetan child with mystical powers.

What did I like?

Melting pot. They say that America is a melting pot of all races, creeds, colors, and religions (despite the fact that if you are something different from “the norm” you live in fear of the out of control cops). In a way, this film mirrors that mixture. It has elements of action, romance, drama, sci-fi, comedy, and fantasy. Not only that, but it mixes them in such a way that all are given ample screen to make them effective in the long term and not give the short end of the stick to the other genres. That, my friends, is good writing.

Charlotte’s web. There have been some truly beautiful women to grace the Silver Screen. Many have gone to be recognized as the total goddesses they are, and others have appeared in a film or two, only to then fade into obscurity. In this film, we have Charlotte Lewis, a total vision of beauty, who I think did stick around for a while, but this was her biggest project. Not only does she command the audience’s attention with her looks, but her character is intriguing. Not exactly one of those characters that dwells in the gray areas, we still wonder what her intentions are and what her relationship with Eddie Murphy’s character will ultimately turn into.

A Lannister always repays his debts. Any Game of Thrones fans out there? For many of the “older” actors and actresses on that show, we can be certain that they had a career, albeit not exactly the most stellar, before joining the cast. I was surprised to see Charles Dance, perhaps better known as Tywin Lannister, appear in this film. Again he is playing a diabolical villain, and he does it so well. Thing is, much like many of our favorite villains from the 80s, there is a higher power pulling his strings that we never see, but that doesn’t make him any less evil. Whilst keeping his cool, he manages to get into Murphy’s head and play mind games as he sleeps, as well as leave a mark on his arm. It isn’t until the climax that the guy loses it and shows his true colors. Personally, I would have liked for him to show more evil power, but you can’t deny this guy has a talent for bringing bad guys to life on the screen.

What didn’t I like?

Cop or not. The whole time I’m watching this film, I can’t help but wonder if this was originally meant to be Beverly Hills Cop II, the next 48 Hours, or something along those lines. I say this because of Eddie Murphy. Look, we all know this was the time when Murphy was at his best, but looking back at his films, he seems to be very one-dimensional. His characters all seems to be carbon copies of each other, at least the cops do. The same goes for this detective-type person he in this film. The only different between him and Axel Foley is that he seems to be more mature, but they still both crack jokes at every opportunity. I would have just liked to have seen more of a line a delineation between this guy and other in the similar field which Murphy has played.

Blue herring. The Golden Child is such a non-character in this film, he might as well have been a red herring, except that we actually see him, so let’s call him a blue herring, shall we? Nothing against the kid, he did what he had to do and I’m just fine with that, but to make such a fuss over him and then to not use him for anything more than some parlor tricks? What fun was that? Honestly, its like Murphy’s character say in the last scenes, maybe he should be a magician. They way they treat him in this film, he might as well have been. If he was the one meant to save the world, or whatever, I hardly believe they wouldn’t send more than just some random private dick to fetch him.

Behind the screen. A mysterious mystical woman behind a screen, and because this is some Asian stuff, surely she’s either old or not human. Well, she is revealed, but I won’t spoil what she is. I will take a couple of moments to say that for someone as wise and, I’m assuming, powerful, she sure was forgotten quickly after the reveal. I mean, as soon as the screen is removed, we see her for a couple of seconds, and that’s it. She’s never heard from again. Seems to me she would have at least had a few words to say about being revealed, but I guess I’m wrong.

The Golden Child is one of those pictures that Netflix just won’t stop bugging me about. I finally took the time to give it a go this afternoon and must say that I wasn’t disappointed in the outcome. Now, that is not to say that this is a cinematic masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a fun little watch. Try pairing it with Big Trouble in Little China, which coincidentally, was directed by the man who was set to direct this picture. Do I recommend it? Yes, what harm can it do to watch a fun film? Just don’t expect anything life changing.

3 1/2 out of stars

I, Frankenstein

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1795, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Aden Young) creates a monster (Aaron Eckhart), a soulless creature patched together from corpses, and then rejects it. In a fit of rage, the creature kills Victor’s wife Elizabeth (Virginie Le Brun) and Victor chases it to the Arctic to get revenge, but succumbs to the weather. The creature buries his creator and is then attacked by demons before being rescued by the gargoyles Ophir (Mahesh Jadu) and Keziah (Caitlin Stasey), who bring it before the gargoyle queen Leonore (Miranda Otto) and their commander Gideon (Jai Courtney). Leonore explains that they were created by the Archangel Michael to battle demons on Earth and protect humanity. They name the creature “Adam” and invite him to join them, but he declines and departs after being given blade-like weapons that allow him to “descend” demons (destroying their bodies and trapping their souls in Hell) as they have the symbol of the Gargoyle Order carved on them.

Throughout the centuries, Adam fends off the demons that pursue him. During a modern-day confrontation at a nightclub, a human police officer is killed. While Adam is summoned by the gargoyles once more, the demon Helek (Steve Mouzakis) reports that Adam is alive to his leader, the demon-prince Naberius (Bill Nighy), who is disguised as billionaire businessman Charles Wessex, and his right-hand man, Dekar (Kevin Grevioux). Wessex has employed scientist Terra Wade (Yvonne Strahovski) to conduct experiments with reanimated corpses, and sends a group of demons led by his most formidable warrior, Zuriel (Socratis Otto), to attack the gargoyles’ cathedral and capture Adam so he can unlock the secret to giving life.

Before Leonore can punish Adam for the police officer’s death, the cathedral is attacked, and Adam convinces Ophir to release him. In the ensuing battle, a number of gargoyles, including Ophir and Keziah, are “ascended” (returned to and trapped in Heaven) while Leonore is captured and brought to an abandoned theater. Adam and Gideon head there where Gideon exchanges Leonore for Victor Frankenstein’s journal, containing the secrets of the experiment. Adam follows Zuriel to the Wessex Institute, where he learns that Naberius plans to recreate Frankenstein’s experiment and create thousands of reanimated corpses as the souls of the descended demons will be able to return from Hell if they have soulless bodies to possess. Adam retrieves the journal and escapes and later confronts Terra before they are attacked by Zuriel. Adam manages to “descend” Zuriel.

Adam warns the remaining gargoyles of Naberius’ plan and Lenore sends Gideon to kill him and retrieve the journal. After a violent fight, Adam is forced to “ascend” Gideon and then decides to burn Frankenstein’s journal and destroy its secrets before the gargoyles come after him. Adam evades them, leading them to the Wessex Institute where they join battle with Naberius’ demons, descending Dekar early in the fight. While the battle progresses, Adam ventures into the Institute to rescue Terra, who had been kidnapped by Naberius, who takes his true demonic form and activates the machine. Naberius overpowers Adam, and tries to have one of the demon spirits possess him, but Adam proves immune as he has grown his own soul. As the gargoyles attempt to stop the reanimated demons, Adam carves the symbol of the Gargoyle Order on Naberius, sanctifying his very body and utterly destroying it, descending Naberius alongside all the other demons in his army, and causing the entire building to collapse.

Recognizing Adam’s bravery, Leonore rescues him and Terra and forgives Adam for Gideon’s death. Adam retrieves his weapons. After bidding farewell to Terra, Adam departs to begin an immortal quest to protect the humans of the world and hunt demons for selfless reasons, the attitude that had earned him his soul in the first place. In so doing, he embraces his role and his true name of “Frankenstein”.

REVIEW:

In the 40s and 50s, monster movies were all the rage because people wanted to be scared and it didn’t take much. Today, for a monster movie to work it has to be deep, dark, complex, etc. As I said in my review of Dracula Untold, there is a rumor of a rebooted monster universe on the horizon. I’m not quite sure if I, Frankenstein will fit in there, but supposedly it has the ball rolling.

What is this about?

Adam Frankenstein is still hunted decades after his creation, although now his pursuers are opposing demons seeking the mystery of his longevity.

What did I like?

Bill Nighy, the evil guy. I was just thinking, lately Bill Nighy has been taking nice guy roles, which he has been doing fine in, but he does so much better as the villain. If I’m not mistaken, his last big screen villainous role was Davy Jones in the Pirates of Caribbean franchise. As evil as an undead pirate who trades shipwrecked sailors’ lives for time working on his ship, as well as his own control over the Kraken, I don’t think that compares to the evils of being a demon prince. Granted, we don’t really seem him do much more than be the head of a company for most of the film, but there is just something about the way he carries himself and commands your attention that lets the audience know at a moment’s notice, this guy could rain down hellfire.

Action. The selling point of this flick is the action. After the opening flashback and once the film gets going we are enthralled in a major action scene with angels(gargoyles) and demons fighting each other. Once the monster joins in, you know there will be death, blood, and destruction. Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Nomenclature. A common mistake that is made is what to call the monster. He is not Frankenstein, that is the scientist’s name. The creature is simply known as Frankenstein’s monster. In this film, the Gargoyle queen gives him the name Adam, which seems to have stuck.

What didn’t I like?

Angels and Demons. Someone please tell me what Frankenstein has to do with gargoyles and demons, because I am still trying to figure it out. All of a sudden, after 200 years oh hiding, he becomes a demon hunter. Is there any reason behind this? No, not really. It isn’t like they know hot to make him forget the wrongs he’s done in the past, such as kill Frankenstein’s wife. I applaud them fir giving him a chance, but this was just an element that left me scratching my head.

Why the hate? As one can imagine, there is a bit of hate and vitriol towards Adam. Thing is, it isn’t coming from the demons. They seem to just be doing the their jobs. It is the head of the Gargoyle security, Gideon, that is a hater. Why is this? He says it is because Adam is an unnatural being that was not created by God, so he must be destroyed, but why? Aren’t all creatures to be loved? I guess I just felt his anger as a cheap plot point that allowed Jai Courtney to be the dick that this character asked for.

Pretty fly for a dead guy. I’m sorry, but when I think of Frankenstein’s monster, the first thing that pops in my head is a hideously deformed creature spliced and stitched together, as I’m sure most people do. So, who was it that thought having good looking guy like Aaron Eckhart, with some stitches and scars on is a “realistic” attempt to convince the audience that…oh, who am I kidding? The reason they did this was to have a marketable name on the marquis and bring in the ladies. I don’t believe it worked.

Final verdict on I, Frankenstein? Well, it tries, I’ll give it that. The problem is that it takes itself too seriously. By all accounts, this should be a fun action-horror flick with some comedic elements  thrown in, but instead they took this material and tried to make it dark and brooding at a time when audiences are getting past dark and brooding and want fun and action packed. This was a good afternoon flick to watch, but it is something I’ll have forgotten come this time tomorrow. My recommendation, give it a shot, if you must, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

2 1/2 out of 5 stars