Archive for July, 2015

Ant-Man

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1989, scientist Hank Pym resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D. after discovering that they attempted to replicate his Ant-Man shrinking technology. Believing the technology is dangerous, Pym vows to hide it as long as he lives. In the present day, Pym’s estranged daughter, Hope van Dyne, and former protégé, Darren Cross, have forced him out of his own company. Cross is close to perfecting a shrinking suit of his own, the Yellowjacket, which horrifies Pym.

Upon his release from prison, well-meaning thief Scott Lang moves in with his old cellmate, Luis. Lang’s ex-wife, Maggie—engaged to policeman Paxton—agrees to let Lang see his daughter Cassie if he provides child support. Unable to hold a job due to his criminal record, Lang agrees to join Luis’ crew and commit a burglary for money. Lang breaks into a house and cracks its safe, but only finds what he believes to be an old motorcycle suit, which he takes home. After trying the suit on, Lang accidentally shrinks himself to the size of an insect. Terrified by the experience, he returns the suit to the house, but is arrested on the way out. Pym, the homeowner, visits Lang in jail and smuggles the suit into his cell to help him break out.

At his home, Pym, who manipulated Lang through Luis into stealing the suit as a test, wants Lang to become the new Ant-Man to steal the Yellowjacket from Cross. Van Dyne, who has been spying on Cross for Pym despite her strained relationship with her father, helps Pym train Lang to fight and to control ants. They send him to steal a device from the Avengers’ headquarters, where he briefly fights Sam Wilson. While van Dyne still shows anger towards Pym about her mother Janet’s death, he reveals that Janet, known as the Wasp, disappeared into a subatomic quantum realm to disable a Soviet nuclear missile. Pym warns Lang that he could suffer a similar fate if he overrides his suit’s safeguards.

Cross perfects the Yellowjacket and invites Pym to the unveiling ceremony. Lang, along with his crew and a swarm of flying ants, infiltrates the building during the event, sabotages the servers, and plants explosives. When he attempts to steal the Yellowjacket, he is trapped by Cross, who intends to sell both the Yellowjacket and Ant-Man suits to Hydra, led by Mitchell Carson. Lang breaks free and defeats most of the Hydra agents, though Carson is able to flee with a vial of Cross’ particles. Lang pursues Cross as he escapes, while the explosives detonate, vaporizing the building.

Cross dons the Yellowjacket and fights Lang before Lang is arrested by Paxton. His mind addled by the imperfect shrinking technology, Cross holds Cassie hostage to lure Lang into another fight; this time, Lang shrinks to subatomic size to penetrate Cross’ suit and sabotage it to shrink uncontrollably, killing Cross. Lang disappears into the quantum realm but manages to reverse the suit’s mechanism and return to the real world. In gratitude for Lang’s heroism, Paxton covers for Lang to keep him out of prison. Seeing that Lang survived and returned from the quantum realm, Pym wonders if his wife is alive as well. Later, Lang meets up with Luis, who tells him that Wilson is looking for him.

In a mid-credits scene, Pym shows van Dyne a new Wasp prototype suit and offers it to her. In a post-credits scene, Wilson and Steve Rogers have Bucky Barnes in their custody. Unable to contact Tony Stark due to “the accords”, Wilson mentions that he “know[s] a guy”.

REVIEW:

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is ending phase II with Ant-Man. A bit of an unusual choice to end a “chapter”, but given the importance of this character, it makes sense. I wonder, given how little people know about this guy, how audiences will react and if they will embrace him in the way they have taken to the other Avengers we have so far. If not, then I fear we will witness Marvel’s first flop.

What is this about?

Fresh out of prison and looking for a new start, master thief Scott Lang is approached by Dr. Pym, creator of a technology that can shrink a man to insect size and boost strength. Together the duo must protect the discovery while saving the world.

What did I like?

Action and effects. If there was one thing this film couldn’t afford to do, it was be boring and/or cheesy. Thankfully, it doesn’t fall into that trap. The action scenes are amazing. Watching Rudd’s Ant-Man shrink and grow while punching bad guys is like watching finely tuned dancer. The effects are really what sells his powers. Truthfully, I think the ants could have looked better, rather than descendants from the movie Them!, but they fit with the tone of the film, so no complaints.

Theme. It seems as if Marvel cannot get a memorable them for their superheroes. The lone exception is Captain America, which they swiftly took away in favor of something more generic in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I tip my hat to Christophe Beck. His percussive theme for this film not only is memorable, but it also has the heist film feel that the picture has.

Bring the funny. Marvel films have become known for the different, lighter tone compared to their DC counterparts. Some have complained and others, like me, truly appreciate and enjoy it. This is being called the funniest of the Marvel films. I won’t go that far, but I will say that the jokes were quite humorous and helped make a film that really should not have worked this well.

What didn’t I like?

Step away from the blueprint. We are a few years into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t there has been a more successful series of films, but I’m starting to see a pattern. Hero is on top of the world, gets knocked down to the bottom of the food chain, fights his way up, encounters arch-nemesis (who turns out to be someone they now), giant fight, set-up for the next film. It is a formula that has worked, no doubt, but I think we are hitting the point that the formula needs a bit of spice. As it stands right now, this is very similar to Iron Man. That isn’t a bad thing, but a change is needed.

Cops and robbers. Knowing that the Scott Lang version of Ant-Man is a thief, it makes sense that the cops are involved. What doesn’t make sense is how the cop/robber angle was used. It wasn’t even a secondary plot, but rather something very throwaway. I felt as if something more should have been done with it. True, in the later half of the film, the cops remember they are cops and actually do some police work, but it is a case of too little, too late, if you ask me.

Weak villain. Yellowjacket should be a villain that instills fear into the audience. Look at him, for goodness sakes! Unfortunately, he comes off as just a carbon copy of Ant-Man with some spider-like stingers on his back. His alter ego, Darrin Cross isn’t much better. Just being a spoiled, disgruntled employee who was allegedly wronged by Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym just doesn’t seem to be enough motivation. There has to be something more to the story that would flesh him out a bit.

Ant-Man introduces audiences to a new character, Ant-Man. This film is a mix of action, comedy, drama, suspense, and it had a good bit of heart in it, as well. Will audiences fall in love with Ant-Man? That remains to be seen. I know that I personally would like to see more of Michael Douglas’ version, but that’s a personal thing. I am not a fan of being forced to watch this in 3D. MY thoughts on this overrated, overpriced way ti drain moviegoers pockets aside, I just don’t think it was necessary or used to it fullest capabilities, similar to those last couple of Spider- Man films. My biggest complaint about this film, though, is that is starts off so slow before picking up. Had they fixed that, I think this film would receive a much better rating. Still, this is very enjoyable flick and I highly enjoyed it! Don’t walk, run and go check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Outlaw’s Son

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , on July 19, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Twelve-year-old Jeff Blaine lives in the small western town of Plainsville where he is being reared by his aunt, Ruth Sewall, who operates a tinsmith business. Jeff’s mother died when he was four months old and his father Nate left shortly thereafter and became an outlaw.

One day, Nate returns and tells Ruth that he has recently been involved in a gunfight. Realizing that his days may be numbered, he asks to see his son again. After Jeff rejects Nate as his father, Ruth, who does not welcome Nate’s visit, returns the small amount of money he has sent for Jeff’s support and asks him to leave the next morning.

In town, when Nate meets old friend Marshal Elec Blessingham in the saloon, Elec chooses to ignore the fact that Nate is a wanted outlaw. The next day, unknown to Ruth, Nate ingratiates himself with Jeff by showing him how to shoot his Colt 44. Later, Ruth reluctantly agrees that Nate can stay a few more days.

Soon, Jeff is calling Nate “Paw,” but runs into trouble at school when another boy, Ben Jorgenson, says that Jeff’s father is a murderer. Jeff tells Ben to get his father’s gun and meet him later. Instead, Ben brings his father, who beats Jeff, who is wearing Nate’s gun. Nate, Elec and Ruth arrive soon after and, after Nate slugs Jorgenson, Ruth blames Nate for involving Jeff with guns and swears she will kill him if he returns again. Later, when Ruth comes to town to obtain some medicine for Jeff, Nate tells her that he is leaving and intends to take Jeff with him.

Soon after, two former associates of Nate, Bill Somerson and Ed Wyatt, rob the Plainsville bank and kill the manager. Ruth, the sole witness to the robbery, lies to Elec that Nate was the perpetrator in order to prevent him from taking Jeff. Nate is arrested and when Jeff visits him in jail, Nate, believing now that his son is better off without him, lets Jeff believe that he is guilty. Outwitting a deputy, Nate escapes from jail and rides away.

Ten years pass and Jeff is still living with Ruth and is now working as a security agent for the stagecoach line, but is embittered by the town’s ostracism of him. Jeff is courting two young women, the prim Amy Wentworth and the more adventurous Lila Costain, who runs a ranch she inherited from her father. When Jeff assists Elec and a posse in foiling a stagecoach robbery, they shoot three of the robbers, including Ed Wyatt. As he dies, Wyatt recognizes Jeff as Nate’s son and tells him and Elec that he and Somerson committed the bank robbery, not Nate.

After Jeff confronts Ruth, she admits that she lied to prevent Nate from taking him away because she wanted Jeff to grow up to be happy and decent. Jeff then leaves Ruth’s house and decides to find Nate. Although Lila tries to dissuade Jeff and asks him to stay with her, he is obsessed with joining his father, who has continued his criminal career, in exacting revenge against the townspeople. Somerson contacts Jeff with a proposal that they and two others set up a payroll robbery based upon Jeff’s knowledge of the stage line’s operations.

Later, Nate visits Ruth and reveals that he never told Jeff that she had lied because he wanted the boy to stay with her. While Nate is at the house, Jeff enters with Lila and Nate informs him that he has heard about the intended robbery and forbids him to participate. In the ensuing fistfight, Jeff beats up Nate and rides off. Nate then begs Elec to help him prevent the robbery.

When Nate and Elec thwart the holdup, Somerson and another gunman take Jeff hostage, blaming him for Nate and Elec’s intervention, and flee on the stage. Nate rides after them and, as Jeff and Somerson struggle inside the coach for possession of a gun, Nate shoots the outlaw driver. Nate then jumps on board, taking over the reins of the runaway stage, but is attacked by Somerson who has knocked out Jeff. Somerson overpowers Nate and brings the stage to a halt, intending to shoot Elec and the others who are following. Nate prevents Somerson from shooting by hurling a knife into his body, but is in turn mortally wounded by the outlaw. Later, as Nate dies in Ruth’s house, Jeff tells him that he intends to change his ways and Ruth agrees to help Jeff once more. Lila then comforts Jeff for the loss of his father.

REVIEW:

It has been a little while since I last visited the western genre, so I feel I need to get back to this beloved genre. Since I am pushed for time this afternoon, something short and sweet is what I am looking for. This is where Outlaw’s Son comes in. Under 90 minutes is the run time, but is it worth watching?

What is this about?

Twelve years after he abandoned his son, an outlaw returns to seek a reconciliation, but is instead framed for murder by a family member.

What did I like?

Sins of the father. The titular character’s father comes to see him after 12 years. As you can guess, this doesn’t sit too well with him, but after a couple of days, they warm up to each other, until an incident happens that turns the town against the father. After a series of events, and 10 yrs passing, we learn that Jeff has grown up into a hardened gunman of sorts, much like his father, but without the outlaw part. All this because of the way he was treated on account of his father’s reputation. Perhaps it is for the best, though.

Triangle. Ah, the love triangle cliché. Sometimes this is something that is just so overdone that we just don’t wish to see it. Other times we get hints at it as a very minor subplot, as is the case here. Jeff is courting these two girls who are polar opposites of each other, as they always tend to be, but it is played out as just part of his everyday life, rather than forcing it into the plot the way some other films would more than likely have done.

Truth comes out. One of the criminals involved in the robbery/murder that framed Nate, the father, clears the air on his deathbed, telling the sheriff and Jeff what really happened. Per the law, a deathbed confession is not something to be taken lightly. Judging by the way Jeff turned out, though, had this been confessed 10 years ago, he may have turned out totally different.

What didn’t I like?

Selfish aunt. Jeff’s aunt, in her quest to keep him away from his father, does everything she can to stand in between the two of them. After the incident where Jeff is beat up by a grown man, she blames him and tells him needs to get out of the house. Then, when he tells her he is leaving town and taking Jeff with him, she witnesses a robbery and murder. When asked who did, she says Nate was the perpetrator, framing him and setting in motion a dark path for Jeff. Some people and their selfish ways! Will they never learn?

Townspeople. If I’ve learned anything from watching old movies, especially westerns, it is that townspeople are bloodthirsty when a crime has been committed against one of their own. The first chance they get, they will call for a hangin’. These folks are no different, they wanted Nate hung right there on the spot. No jail time. No trial. Just swift “justice”. Sakes alive, can you imagine if folks were still like this today?!?

Vengeance? A recurring theme in most westerns is vengeance, and yet it doesn’t seem to be a factor in this one, but I feel it should be. Jeff meets the man who more or less is responsible for his father having spent the last 10 yrs in exile, so to speak, but instead of shooting the man dead, he teams up with him. For some reason, I think that has this been a John Wayne film, we would have seen some vengeance extracted, one way or another.

Outlaw’s Son is not a well-known entry into the western genre. Some even go so far as to label it a B-movie. I’m not so sure I agree with that, unless the definition was different in the 50s. This is the kind of flick I expect to see on AMC when they have that group of westerns every Saturday morning. That isn’t a bad thing, just an observation. As far as the film goes, it has some issues with creating a storyline the audience can get invested in, but at least the pacing is brisk and doesn’t give you time to nod off. The climactic stagecoach robbery scene is vintage western, though I would have liked for there to have been some shots fire. All I all I think this is a decent underrated western worth checking out someday. Just remember, it has nothing to do with the Jane Russell film, The Outlaw.

3 out of 5 stars

The Fifth Element

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1914, aliens known as Mondoshawans arrive at an ancient Egyptian temple to collect, for safekeeping, the only weapon capable of defeating a great evil that appears every 5,000 years. The weapon consists of four stones, representing the four classical elements, and a sarcophagus containing a fifth element in the form of a human, which combines the power of the other four elements into a divine light capable of defeating the evil. The Mondoshawans promise their human contact, a priest from a secret order, that they will come back with the element stones in time to stop the great evil when it returns.

In 2263, the great evil appears in deep space in the form of a giant ball of black fire, and destroys an attacking Earth spaceship. The Mondoshawans’ current contact on Earth, priest Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm), informs the President of Earth (Tom Lister Jr.) of the history of the great evil and the weapon that can stop it. As the Mondoshawans return to Earth they are ambushed by Mangalores, a race hired by the industrialist Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman), who has been instructed by the great evil to acquire the stones.

The Mondoshawans’ spacecraft is destroyed, though the stones are not on board; the only item recovered is a hand of The Fifth Element. Scientists take it to a New York City laboratory and use it to reconstruct a humanoid woman who takes the name Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). Terrified of the unfamiliar surroundings, she escapes confinement and jumps off a ledge, crashing into the flying taxicab of Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), a former major in the special forces.

Dallas delivers Leeloo to Cornelius and his apprentice, David (Charlie Creed-Miles), whereupon Cornelius learns that the Mondoshawans entrusted the four element stones to the alien Diva Plavalaguna (Maïwenn Le Besco), an opera singer. Zorg kills many of the Mangalores because of their failure to obtain the stones, but their compatriots determine to seize the artifacts for themselves. Upon learning from the Mondoshawans that the stones are in Plavalaguna’s possession, General Munro (Brion James), Dallas’ former superior, re-enlists Dallas and orders him to travel undercover to meet Plavalaguna on a luxury intergalactic cruise; Dallas takes Leeloo with him. Meanwhile, Cornelius instructs David to prepare the ancient temple designed to house the stones, then stows away on the space plane transporting Dallas to the cruise liner.

Plavalaguna is killed when the Mangalores attack the ship, but Dallas succeeds in retrieving the stones. During his struggle with the Mangalores he kills their leader. After shooting and seriously wounding Leeloo, Zorg finds a carrying case which he presumes contains the stones, and takes it back to his spacecraft, leaving behind a time bomb that forces the liner’s occupants to evacuate. Discovering the case to be empty, Zorg returns to the ship and deactivates his bomb, but a dying Mangalore sets off his own device, destroying the ship and killing Zorg. Dallas, Cornelius, Leeloo, and talk-show host Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) escape with the stones aboard Zorg’s spacecraft.

The four join up with David at the weapon chamber in the Egyptian temple as the great evil approaches. They activate the stones, but having witnessed and studied so much violence, Leeloo has become disenchanted with humanity and refuses to cooperate. Dallas confesses his love for Leeloo and kisses her. In response, Leeloo combines the power of the stones and releases the divine light; the great evil, now dormant, becomes another moon in Earth orbit.

REVIEW:

In the 80s, there were countless clones, imitations, and blatant rip offs of Star Wars. That trend ended, though, and sci-fi focused on other films to steal from. Then the 90s hit and studios realized it was time for a new space opera. There were many failures, some epic in scope *COUGH* Battlefield Earth *COUGH*, but there was one that has gone one to cult status, The Fifth Element.

What is this about?

In this imaginative sci-fi epic, a 23rd-century cabbie finds himself involved with a fetching alien who may hold the key to saving the world. But it’s curtains for planet Earth unless the duo can stay a step ahead of a demented villain named Zorg.

What did I like?

Epic feel. What makes the holy trilogy so special is that it tells a story that on a huge scale. In some respects, this film follows that same formula. The evil, universal bad guys can only be defeated by this ragtag group of heroes, to sum it up in not so many words. It works, though. Also, there is just a certain look to the film in places that is very reminiscent of 70s and early 80s sci-fi, which I appreciated.

Friday. At the time this was released, Chris Tucker was an up and coming star because of Friday, a small role in Jackie Brown, and the Rush Hour films coming down the pipeline. Not being a big star, yet, Tucker was still hungry and willing to do anything to get noticed and bring home a paycheck, which explains why this overly flamboyant, obvious comic relief character of Ruby Rhod work. He is a contrast to the seriousness of Bruce Willis and isn’t off in la la land like Milla Jovovich’s character seems to be at some points.

Reconstruction. Some of our best technological achievements today have come from sci-fi films and television (and yet we still don’t have flying cars!) If there is something that should seriously be considered for real word use, I would say it is this reconstruction machine. Milla Jovovich’s character was nothing but a hand and this thing recreated her bones, tissues, muscles, everything. Obviously, this wouldn’t work in real life, but imagine if someone had their leg amputated for some reason and were taken to this machine. I’m just saying, it was impressive.

What didn’t I like?

Accent. I think I should just automatically make this a category any time I watch a film where someone is speaking in some sort of accent, because this seems to be a recurring theme. This time the culprit is Gary Oldman. Not only does he have this odd Texas-ish accent going on, but his character reminds me of the duke from Moulin Rouge, if he were really a bad guy. The accent, though, just makes no kind of sense. What was wrong with his normal accent, I wonder. Seems to me a British sounding villain is way more intimidating that one who sounds like he was an extra on Dallas.

Perfect? You could have a drinking game with as many times as Milla Jovovich was called perfect, especially when they first re-create her. My problem with that is she really isn’t perfect, at least to me. If you go by what the magazines and fashion industry want you to believe, then yes, she is perfect. However, as a red-blooded, straight American male, I can say that she needs some work before she can be called perfect. Personally, I like my women with curves and a bit more meat on their bones. Perhaps the next guy prefers blondes. The guy after that may have a thing for buff girls. What I’m trying to say is that if they really wanted her to be perfect, then she should have been an amalgamation of what guys tend to think is perfect, rather than just a random model.

Identity thief. Perhaps in this post 9/11 world we live in, seeing something like 3 or 4 guys claiming to be same person, as well as a woman who only seems to know a handful of words, would raise some red flags. For some reason, though, it is just business as usual at this terminal. At least it is once they catch the guy. Had this kind of thing happened in an airport today on Earth, all of those guys would have gotten a major beatdown, which would be followed by questions. That seems to be how things work over here in the US.

Apparently, people fall on one side or the other with The Fifth Element. They either love it or hate it. I think I’m the oddball, because I don’t really feel strongly either way. On the one side, I was expecting more action and outlandish humor, rather than some humdrum melodrama. On the flipside of that, though, there is a really good story that is easy to follow. So, do I recommend it? Sure, as a matter of fact, I think this is a film that needs to be seen more than once to truly cherish. I guess that means I need to go watch it again. HA!

4 out of 5 stars

The Fluffy Movie

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on July 18, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Taking the stage at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, comic Gabriel Iglesias delivers a manic performance featuring wild stories and even wilder impersonations. Iglesias opens the book on his personal background and the strange realities of life on the road.

REVIEW:

Comedy Central has really been living up to its name the last few years. Thanks to stand-up specials featuring the likes of Jim Gaffigan, Amy Schumer, Louis C.K., and others, we have been privy to an influx of new great comedic talent. One of my favorites in the new breed is Gabriel Iglesias, but I wonder if The Fluffy Movie will fall short or surpass his other specials.

What is this about?

A comedy concert film that captures the on-stage performance and inspirational success story of Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias.

Since this isn’t really a film with a beginning, middle, and end, but rather a stand-up comedy routine, I can’t really review it that way I do everything else.

There isn’t a comedian alive that wasn’t influenced by Eddie Murphy and Gabriel pays respect to Murphy by, in a flashback, playing the video of Eddie Murphy Raw. If I’m not mistaken, this is also an homage to the opening scene of that film where Murphy does a flashback to his childhood.

Comedians that lose weight are often chastised for “losing the funny”. Jonah Hill is the most recent example as the “skinny version” wasn’t anywhere near as funny as the one we are more accustomed to. Iglesias’ whole career is based on his weight, so when he started losing it, many were worried. IT doesn’t look like he lost any of the funny, but let’s all give him a standing ovation for dropping 100 lbs!!!

Admittedly, Iglesias doesn’t rehearse his routines, as he prefers for them to be natural or real. Not to mention you can never tell what the audience is going to laugh at. That being said, it is really impressive to watch as he goes into a heartfelt story about meeting his father for the first time and the tragedy of what happened before he could get his parents back together for a picture for him to have with them together. There aren’t many people who could keep that situation from bringing the mood in the house down, but Iglesias manages to do so. If he ever decides to become a comedy writer, I’m sure he’ll have a career. Lord knows comedies these days need someone who can keep the funny going without turning it into drama!

In this day and age, it is just a prerequisite to talk about race and Iglesias is no exception to that rule. What sets him apart from the rest, though, is that he doesn’t take a mean-spirited approach to his race jokes. Instead, he makes fun of the stereotypes in a positive manner. I find this refreshing in this age of cynical, mean-spirited, and nymphomaniac comics to have one that is on stage just telling jokes for fun, not to piss anyone off.

The Fluffy Movie is actually one of the better stand-up comedy films I’ve seen since the Eddie Murphy days. However, I feel this was a bit more studio driven, rather than Fluffy powered. What I mean by that is it doesn’t have that same hungry vibe his previous specials have had, but maybe that’s just me. That point aside, I did find this film to be quite hilarious. I cannot remember the last time I laughed this hard! I highly recommend this and any other Iglesias comedy routines you can track down!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Revisited: Cool World

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1945 Las Vegas, World War II veteran Frank Harris (Brad Pitt) returns to his mother. Riding on a motorcycle that he won in Italy during his service, Frank and his mother are struck by a drunk couple. Frank survives, but his mother dies. As an ambulance truck takes her away, Frank is transported to “Cool World”, an animated city of surrealistic landscapes and random cartoon violence. He was inadvertently teleported by Dr. Vincent Whiskers (Maurice LaMarche), a doctor who created a “spike” that was supposed to take him to the real world, but brought Frank to Cool World instead. Whiskers finds Frank useful enough to run things in the Cool World while he is gone to the real world.

Forty seven years later, Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne), a cartoonist, is detained after murdering a man he found in bed with his wife. He creates the highly acclaimed comic book series “Cool World”, which features the femme fatale Holli Would (Kim Basinger). On the night before his release, Holli summons Jack into the Cool World, and he sees Holli dance in the local dance club. After he sees her dance, Jack is teleported back to the real world. It turns out that Holli wants to enter the real world, but is forbidden to do so by Frank, who is now a police officer in the Cool World.

After he is released, Jack is transported to the Cool World once again and meets Holli and her goons, who have been encouraging his misled beliefs that he himself created the Cool World. In reality, Holli has simply been bringing him there, and Jack created his comic book series on what he’s seen there, which he initially believed were his own dreams. Meanwhile, Frank is about to go on a date with his longtime girlfriend Lonette (Candi Milo), when his partner Nails (Charlie Adler), a spider, tells him about Jack’s presence. Frank confronts Jack at the local Slash Club, confiscating his fountain pen, informing him that it’s a dangerous weapon in the Cool World. Frank then tells Jack the truth: the Cool World has existed long before he created the comic series and forewarns him that “noids”, humans from the real world, are not allowed to have sex with “doodles”, the cartoon inhabitants of the Cool World. He further advises Jack not to get involved with Holli before Jack returns to the real world.

Holli brings Jack back into the Cool World, where he is taken to Holli’s apartment. Holli and Jack have sex, transforming Holli into a human. While Frank attempts to mend his relationship with Lonette, he temporarily leaves detective duties to Nails. Nails receives a call from an informant named Sparks, who tells him that Jack and Holli have had sex and are leaving for the real world. Nails decides that he can do this on his own and goes off to stop Holli. Nails attempts to stop her from leaving the Cool World, but Holli uses Jack’s fountain pen to suck Nails in. Jack and Holli return to the real world, where Holli sings “Let’s Make Love” at a nightclub with Frank Sinatra, Jr.. Frank discovers that Nails is gone and decides to venture into the real world to pursue Jack and Holli. Meanwhile, Jack and Holli have started to flicker between human and doodle states. While contemplating their situation, Holli tells Jack about the “Spike of Power”, an artifact placed on the top of a Las Vegas casino by a doodle who crossed into the real world. When Jack displays skepticism about Holli and the idea, Holli abandons him to search for the spike on her own.

Frank meets up with Jack later on, explaining that the flickering both Jack and Holli have been experiencing is the disappearance of both worlds. They decide to team up and stop Holli from removing the spike. They get Jennifer (Michele Abrams), the daughter of Jack’s neighbor to drive them to the casino, and on the way, Frank explains that it was Doc Whiskers who crossed worlds and put the spike on the top of the hotel and if it were removed, it could potentially destroy both the real world and the Cool World.

Holli is escorted out of the casino for not spending any money, all the while asking about Vegas Vinnie, which is the alias of Doc Whiskers. When she spots the Doc, she tells him that she couldn’t find him, but when she starts to flicker between human and doodle state again, she begins to become suspicious and starts to see through Doc’s disguise and shakes him out of it, revealing his identity. Doc tries to convince Holli not to get the Spike of Power, but Holli becomes enraged and threatens Doc Whiskers with the fountain pen. When Frank, Jack, and Jennifer get to the destination, Frank pursues Holli on the casino, while Jack and Jennifer put Doc Whiskers back together after being popped by Holli’s pen. Frank chases after Holli throughout the hotel, while she’s still flickering from human to doodle state. While in doodle form, Holli pushes Frank off the building to his death. Holli finds and takes the Spike of Power, transforming her, Jack, and everyone in Vegas into doodles and opening a gateway between the two worlds, releasing numerous monstrous doodles. Transformed into a superhero doodle, Jack gets a hold of the spike. Holli tries to seduce it away from Jack, but instead he returns the Spike of Power to its place, trapping him, Holli and the rest of the doodles in Cool World.

Meanwhile, Nails escapes from Holli’s pen and both he and Doc Whiskers return Frank’s body to Cool World. Lonette discovers that Holli was a doodle when she killed Frank and explains when a noid is killed by a doodle, he is reborn in Cool World as a doodle. He is transformed into a doodle, allowing him to pursue his relationship with Lonette. Meanwhile, Jack and Holli are last seen together in the panels of a comic book. Jack (still a superhero doodle) is planning out how they will live, much to Holli’s dismay

REVIEW:

Growing up, I wanted to become a cartoonist. That was a dream that lasted fairly long, actually, until I found out my true talents were in other arts. Still, I can appreciate the strides that were made in animation during the time. Cool World may appear to be a rip off of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? but rest assured that it is anything but.

What is this about?

In an effort to keep the cartoon world and real world apart, a Vegas cop works to ensure that humans and animated characters don’t bed one another. But when a comic-book artist is seduced by his own cartoon creation, mayhem descends on the city.

What did I like?

Character design. Jessica Rabbit was designed to no only be an exaggerated ideal of the 40s nightclub singer, but also the perfect male fantasy of a female form. Holli Would is in that same vein, if perhaps a bit more “realistic” in her proportions. Here’s something no one ever notices, though. There are plenty of other animated characters besides Holli that are quite impressive in their own right. The fluid designs of these dirty characters is what is impressive to me and the character of Lonnie is the true antithesis to Holli, being brunette, demure, and totally devoted to Brad Pitt’s character. She almost put me in the mind of Betty Boop in a way.

Animation. Ralph Bakshi has a distinct style that for sure. His characters are about as far from Disney and Warner Brothers as you can get, much like his sense of humor…and yet he did a very successful Saturday morning version of Mighty Mouse. Bakshi tends to keep his character away from the clean suburbs, opting instead for crime ridden back alleys and such, which often lends to some interesting character design, as well as an outlet for his trippy art style to take center stage.

Mix and match. An intriguing part of the story was how having sex with a cartoon makes them real. I’m sure more than a few guys and girls have fantasized about some animated character becoming real. Why else do we have cosplay? I couldn’t help but be dumbfounded with how this happened, though. Also, how Holli’s clothes seem to magically come to her, even though she had become human. This is just not a topic that has been explored, so I was fascinated out of curiosity.

What didn’t I like?

Plausibility. Usually, I’m the last one to scream about how believable something is in the movies, but I have to say something about this. First off, the green screen work was horrible. There are scenes in which the graphics look rudimentary, at best. When Pitt has his arm around his girl, I wasn’t buying it. As far as the plot goes, well, it is one thing for an entire town of cartoons to exist on the other side of Hollywood in the 40s, but for dark, violent cartoons to not try to escape for nearly 40 years I can’t believe. Surely, Holli can’t be the first to have wanted it this badly, can she?

Boys will be boys.  Brad Pitt and Gabriel Byrne are fairly young and early in their careers when this film came out. I believe Pitt hadn’t even received all the accolades from his two scenes in Thelma & Louise yet. Why do I bring this up? Well, both men have gone on to successful careers, but if you were to see this and say they would have done so back then I’m sure you’d get laughed into shame. Neither man does their greatest work in this picture. As a matter of fact, they both seem as if they don’t want to be there. Never a good sign!

Dangerous curves. Kim Bassinger was one of the most beautiful and desirable women on the planet when this was released. Holli Would is literally just her in animated form, but when she comes to life the figures don’t add up. Nothing against Basinger, but she doesn’t have the body for this role. Holli’s human side should have been played but someone with more to offer uptop and down below, so that the figures matched up. Instead, it appears as if she loses some of what makes her an appealing character, her curves, in the transformation.

Cool World, in this finished form, is not what was originally intended to be released in theaters. We were supposed to have a film noir horror/thriller type film instead of a “comedy” but secret meetings allowed for the changes. I can’t say if they were for the better, but I am curious to see what this was supposed to be. I think this film’s biggest flaw has nothing to with the film itself, but the fact that it came out a couple of years after Roger Rabbit and, because it did, the comparisons will never stop. There are tons of issues with this film, but I think it is still enjoyable, so give it a shot sometime.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 7/16

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on July 16, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

With the forthcoming release of the (unnecessary) franchise reboot, I thought I’d go back and share the original. I swear I may be one of the few people who actually likes this movie, but take a look and tell me what you think of Fantastic Four

RoboCop (2014)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2028, multinational conglomerate OmniCorp revolutionizes warfare with the introduction of robotic peacekeepers capable of maintaining law and order in hot spots such as Iran. Led by CEO Raymond Sellars, the company moves to market its tech to domestic law enforcement, but the passage of the Dreyfus Act, forbidding deployment of drones on U.S. soil, prevents this. Aware that most Americans oppose the use of military systems in their communities, Sellars asks Dr. Dennett Norton and his research team to create an alternative. The result is a proposal for a cyborg police officer. However, Norton informs Sellars that only someone who is stable enough to handle being a cyborg can be turned into one, and some candidates are rejected.

A Detroit policeman, Alex Murphy, is chosen after he is critically injured in a car bomb explosion arranged by crime boss Antoine Vallon in revenge for Murphy’s investigation into his activities. Norton persuades Murphy’s wife Clara to sign off on the procedure. Upon waking up and realizing the extent of his transformation, Murphy flies into a rage and escapes the lab, but Norton is able to convince him to return. As Norton reveals to Murphy that the only remnants of his human body are most of his head (excluding parts of the brain), his respiratory organs and a hand, Murphy is disgusted, and asks for euthanasia. Norton reminds Murphy about his wife’s and son’s patience, and convinces him to live on. During combat training with trainer Rick Mattox, Murphy proves unable to compete with the standard OmniCorp drones in efficiency. Norton alters his programming to make him more efficient, but also less empathetic.

Shortly before he is to be publicly unveiled, Murphy has an emotional breakdown, forcing Norton to remove his emotions. During the ceremony, RoboCop identifies and apprehends a criminal in the crowd. He goes on to dramatically reduce crime in Detroit, wrecking public support for the Dreyfus Act. Aware that Clara has begun to ask questions, Sellars orders Norton to keep her away from her husband.

Clara nevertheless manages to confront RoboCop, telling him of their son David’s nightmares. The experience leads Murphy to override his programming and access the previously sealed files on his attempted murder. From them, he learns his son witnessed the explosion and was left traumatized. Murphy pursues Vallon’s gang for revenge. He takes heavy damage from their armor-piercing weapons, but manages to kill the boss and his men. Murphy returns to the station and joins with his old partner, Jack Lewis, to confront the two corrupt cops who betrayed him to Vallon, shooting one and tazing the other. Learning that the Chief of Police was also involved, Murphy moves to arrest her, but is remotely shut down by Mattox.

With the help of Pat Novak, a pro-OmniCorp talk show host, Sellars uses the incident to get the Dreyfus Act repealed. Clara goes to the press and angrily demands to see her husband. Fearful of being exposed, Sellars orders Mattox to destroy RoboCop while he’s being repaired. Norton is able to reach him first and reveals the truth. RoboCop narrowly escapes the building just as it undergoes lockdown.

Murphy returns and storms the building, destroying the ED-209 drones sent to stop him while Lewis and his fellow police arrive to hold off the rest of OmniCorp’s forces. Mattox subdues Murphy and prepares to finish him off, but is killed by Lewis. Murphy then makes his way to the roof where Sellars is waiting for a helicopter with Clara and David as hostages. Murphy’s programming initially prevents him from arresting Sellars, but he overcomes it long enough to kill Sellars despite being severely wounded.

OmniCorp’s parent company, OCP, shuts down the project. The President vetoes the repeal of the Dreyfus Act based on the testimony of Norton, to Novak’s anger. Murphy’s body is rebuilt in Norton’s laboratory, and he waits for Clara and David, who are coming to visit him.

REVIEW:

Here we go with another remake of a classic 80s property. Robocop aims to introduce new audiences to the titular character, while also creating a so-call hero for this generation, or some such crap.

What is this about?

When Detroit cop and family man Alex Murphy is critically injured in the line of duty, a robotics firm transforms him into an experimental crime-fighting cyborg, though he remains haunted by his human past in this reboot of the 1980s sci-fi classic.

What did I like?

Family life. Remakes are not my cup of tea. I believe they are just lazy filmmaking and show how un-creative Hollywood is becoming, especially with more and more of these being released every year. Don’t even get me started on how they besmirch the legacy of the original. Take True Grit, for instance. When the remake came out, the artwork on the original DVD cover was changed to look similar. Clash of the Titans, and many others I’m sure, had that same thing done to them. What I do like about remakes, though, is how they touch on some thing that just aren’t covered in the original. In the case of this film, we get more of a look at Officer Murphy’s family life. How the accident really affected his wife and kid and all that. I don’t believe the original Robocop gave us that. As a matter of fact, I seem to recall the wife leaving after he became a cyborg. So, that’s a change. Depending on your personal opinion, it may be for the better or worse.

Morality. From a morality standpoint, the picture takes a stand on how right or wrong it is to keep a man alive who is nothing more than a head and vital organs. Thinking about it now, that is a quandary. On the one hand, you’re keeping this guy alive after getting severely injured in the line of work, but on the other hand, what kind of life can he truly have now that he is more man than machine, from a physical standpoint, at least. The quandary is something that actually makes you think, that’s for sure.

Original theme. The original theme music from the original film had a heroic march feel to it, giving the audience the emotions of following Murphy on his mission to rid the streets of Detroit from the bad guys. The filmmakers actually snuck it in here a couple of time as an Easter egg, of sorts. There are other nods to the original, such as the pre-painted mechanical body, lines from the original, etc. Knowing how poorly the news of this being was received, I think the filmmakers wanted to extend an olive branch to the fans. It was a decent attempt, that’s all I’ll say about that.

What didn’t I like?

Mr. Roboto. I have two things to say about this. First, the new cyborg body isn’t impressive. It is almost like an insectoid exoskeleton, rather than something that would be used to fight crime. Last I checked, Robocop wasn’t going around doing parkour. Also, like the actors who play superheroes, Joel Kinnaman spends way more time with his visor off. As a matter of fact, I think this version it only comes down when he’s fighting. WTF?!? That thing needs to be down at all times, similar to Judge Dredd, where much of his design comes from. My other point is how wooden and robotic Kinnaman’s acting is. I felt no emotion, sympathy, or even connection to the guy, nor did I want to cheer for him when he became Robocop. He’s just unlikable. I won’t go so far as to say he was miscast, though, because the script didn’t do him any favors.

Satire subtraction. The original film was actually a big satire for the overabundance of excess violence, advertising, and cooperate greed that was commonplace in the 80s. There is little satire in this film, mostly by Samuel L. Jackson’s character playing a weird combination of Al Sharpton and Bill O’Reilly (doesn’t that though give you nightmares?), but the rest of the film doesn’t even try to hint at satire, instead going for the straight and narrow, dare I say safe, route.

Violence without blood. Some of the best scenes from the original involve the gratuitous violence. Limbs being shot off, guys getting mutate and then splattered on a windshield, it is glorious! If you’re looking for more of the same with this version, though, I must warn you that there isn’t even a drop of blood spilled. Does this film need gratuitous violence to be good? I wouldn’t say that, but when a person gets shot, they are going to bleed. When a guy get’s blown up, he is not going to still look nearly the same. That’s just the way things are

Robocop makes an attempt at being a new action franchise, but it just isn’t good enough. It doesn’t stand up to the original, feels like it was made just for a cash grab, has an inferior plot. Also, the fun of the original is drained out of this one as it becomes just another dry, forgettable action flick. There are some good points, though. As I mentioned, the extended family story was nice as was showing the Arkham City way Robocop can decipher clues and recreate crime scenes, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. Do I recommend this? No, unless you want to fall asleep in an action flick. I tried, I really tried to get into this, but just couldn’t and I’m sure there are others that have or will have the same reaction.

2 out of 5 stars

The Inbetweeners Movie

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Teenage friends Will McKenzie, Simon Cooper, Jay Cartwright, and Neil Sutherland have finished their A-levels and are about to leave Rudge Park Comprehensive, much to the relief of Mr. Gilbert, their sardonic sixth form tutor. Within their final week of school, Jay’s grandfather dies, Simon is dumped by his girlfriend Carli D’Amato, and Will’s divorced father tells him he has married his much younger mistress. The boys decide to go on holiday together and Neil books them a trip to Malia, Crete.

At a bar, they meet four girls: Alison, Lucy, Lisa and Jane. Their initial meeting does not go smoothly, but the girls arrange to meet the boys at their hotel the next day. Outside the bar, Simon sees Carli across the street and talks awkwardly with her before being knocked down by a quad-bike ridden by James, a cocky and abusive bully and alpha male club rep and Carli’s new boyfriend. She reveals she is going to an all-day boat party later in the week, and Simon pledges to meet her there.

The next day, Jay and Simon get into an argument over Simon’s continuing obsession with Carli and Jay’s continual false bravado and they brawl in the street until Will and Neil drag off Simon and Jay, respectively, in different directions. Desperate to buy a ticket for the boat party, Simon naively sells all his clothes to James, including what he is wearing, but receives no money for it. Meanwhile, Jay angrily tears up two of the four boat party tickets he secretly bought for all of them while drunk the night before as a surprise. Later that evening, the four boys meet back at the empty bar and reconcile. The girls then turn up and suggest that they all go skinny dipping at the local beach. Jane attempts to kiss Jay, but when two men poke fun at him over her weight and Jay pulls away, she leaves him behind. Will has better luck with Alison until she spots her boyfriend, Nicos, having sex with another woman, and she leaves crying. In the water, Lucy and Simon appear to be growing closer, and are about to kiss, but Simon sees Carli on the beach and leaves Lucy alone in the sea.

The next day, they meet the girls again at the beach. Alison gives Will Nicos’ ticket, while Simon apologises to Lucy, and she offers him her boat party ticket so that he can be with Carli. On board, Simon witnesses an argument between Carli and James. Carli then kisses Simon passionately, and he is elated, until he realises that she is just using him to make James jealous. Finally seeing Carli for what she really is, he ditches her. Meanwhile, Jay apologises to Jane and they form a relationship, as do Will and Allison and Neil and Lisa. Simon finally sees that Lucy is more worthy of his attention than the shallow Carli, and knowing that he has been less than kind to her, he decides to swim to shore as a grand romantic gesture, but he struggles and almost drowns. As he is loaded into an ambulance, Lucy kisses him and they reconcile. After the boat party is over, the other boys and girls visit Simon in hospital, and once he recovers they all spend the rest of their holiday together as couples. In a final scene before the credits, a drunken Mr. Gilbert is seen riding a quad bike through the streets of Malia in his underwear with a tie round his head in a John Rambo style.

REVIEW:

I recently finished watching The Inbetweeners series, so I guess now would be the opportune time to watch The Inbetweeners Movie. I wonder, though, if this will be one of those movies about a TV series that moves things to a logical conclusion, or one of those that is nothing more than a sad attempt at squeezing out some cash from the loyal fan base. Only one way to find out!

What is this about?

In this coming-of-age comedy that picks up where the popular series left off, Will, Simon, Jay and Neil go on holiday to Crete after a series of unfortunate events unfolds during their final week at Rudge Park Comprehensive.

What did I like?

Out of England. The show lasted for about 3 or 4 seasons, or series as they are called across the pond. In that time, it is rare that they left the confines of their school and neighborhood, but they did go on an occasional outing. Now that the boys have all graduated, they can finally go on wild adventures together. First stop, Malia, Crete. I don’t know much about the place but I am glad that the filmmakers chose to get these blokes out of that town as quickly as possible. We’ve had an entire series of watching them at home. It is way past time for a change of scenery.

Female counterparts. Anytime there is a group of young men, there tends to be a group of young ladies that are the perfect match. At least that’s how they would appear to be, anyway. The girls that show up in and the boys pursue aren’t exactly perfect matches for them, except for Neil, but they are a compliment to them and their personalities. For the live of me, I don’t know why this wasn’t done during the show. Probably because they were too busy dealing with the same two or three girls every week, one of which actually made it into this film!

Dance, monkey, dance. Four socially awkward guys, who have had a little bit too much to drink, try to introduce themselves to four attractive girls. How else do they approach them? With dance moves that show how truly awkward they really are. Somehow, though, they not only make this one of the funniest scenes of the picture, but they get to meet the girls. Kudos, gentlemen, kudos!

What didn’t I like?

Developmentally challenged. I’m going to take a minute and compare this to The Simpsons Movie and South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut. What do those have in common with this picture? Well, nothing really, except they are movies based on TV shows. The thing that made both of those work was how they took characters we had grown to know for years and gave them some extra dimension. With this, I feel as if the guys, who have just graduated from their school, haven’t grown any over the years. They literally feel as if they are the same characters they were in episode 1, except for Will, and that’s only because he’s not the new kid anymore.

Extended episode. There is a vibe to this film that is reminiscent of the show, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. I couldn’t help but get the feeling this was meant to be one of those special, extended episodes that just was put away until they decided to make a movie. Then it was pulled out and edited. Why do films about TV shows do this? They all seem like an extended episode. I haven’t seen it, but I would imagine Serenity feels like an extended version of Firefly, too!

Gender equal nudity. This is going to make me sound like a horndog sexist, and for that I apologize, but I have to ponder where were the bare breasts and other parts of the female anatomy? There was plenty of male genitalia to be seen, but only one set of boobs was on display. How is this fair? There needs to be some kind of balance, don’t you think? Actually, this probably wouldn’t even be an issue if this wasn’t a film aimed more toward the male audience, but because it is, one must wonder why it was such a sausage fest when it came to nudity.

Final verdict on The Inbetweeners Movie? Much like the show, there is a plot, but it isn’t much to speak of, as these blokes just randomly find themselves in various situations. The only difference between this and the show, though, is a bigger budget, the addition of the girls, and the nudity. Hardly enough of a reason to get excited about, even if one is a fan. Honestly, one would do better staying in and watching the series instead of this. Did I mention there is a sequel, as well?

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Sharknado 2: The Second One

Posted in Action/Adventure, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Fin Shepard and his ex-wife April Wexler are flying to New York City to promote How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters, a book April has written about the Los Angeles sharknado. As the plane comes in for a landing through a storm, it is battered by airborne sharks, losing an engine. Sharks enter the plane, killing passengers and crew, including both pilots. While Fin successfully lands the plane, April’s hand is bitten off by a shark while she attempts to shoot it with an air marshal’s handgun.

Fin’s sister, Ellen Brody, is sightseeing in New York with her family. Her husband, Martin, a childhood friend of Fin’s, takes their son, Vaughn, to a Mets game at Citi Field along with Martin’s and Fin’s friends Skye (who is also Fin’s ex-girlfriend) and Brian. Ellen takes their daughter, Mora, to the Statue of Liberty where she meets with her friends, Polly and Chrissie, who tell her about Fin’s flight.

At the airport, Fin warns the crowd of the impending storm, but no one takes it seriously. After accompanying April to the hospital where she undergoes surgery, Fin receives a call from Ellen and tells her to get back from Liberty Island as soon as possible. He agrees to retrieve Martin and Vaughn from the ball game, hiring a cabbie, Ben, to take him there. At Citi Field, Fin first encounters Skye. She kisses him, but he explains that he and April are back together. Fin gets them all to leave with him just as the storm arrives at the park. The sharks kill people as Fin and his group use various improvised weapons and make their way to the subway.

Ellen’s group takes the ferry to Manhattan, but a shark jumps onto the deck and kills Chrissie en route. The three remaining women escape into the city but must flee from the Statue of Liberty’s severed, rolling head, which crushes a businessman and two garbage men.

The subway floods, imperiling Fin’s group as their train is chased by sharks. Brian is killed, but the others manage to escape onto a platform. Fin calls Ben to pick them up, and they go in search of weapons and explosives. They arm themselves, but the taxi is then caught in a flood. Fin rigs a rope swing that takes Skye, Vaughn, and Martin to safety, but Ben is killed in his attempt. Fin then jumps across the sharks, using them as stepping stones to reach the others.

Two sharknadoes are converging into a more powerful storm directly above the hotel where Fin and April were planning to stay. Arriving at the hotel, Fin and Skye go to the roof to destroy the sharknadoes with their makeshift bombs. Polly is killed when a whale shark lands on her, but Ellen and Mora successfully reach the hotel, reuniting with Martin and Vaughn. Fin and Skye launch their bombs into the tornadoes, but the storm system is too cold for this to be effective; the bombs only force them to flee downstairs, away from the flaming sharks that are now falling on them. They meet the Brodys, who are fleeing upstairs due to a rising flood of sharks. They break down a door to escape the stairwell and are able to get out of the building.

Meanwhile, April rescues a young girl at the hospital and sets out to find Fin. She arrives at the hotel in a fire truck and takes the group to the Empire State Building where a third tornado is merging with the other two. The mayor is there with a task force, and they welcome Fin’s help. He plans to detonate a tank of Freon at the top of the building by connecting it to the structure’s lightning rod, freezing the storm. Fin tells a crowd of New Yorkers to prepare to fight the sharks that will fall from the sky after he destroys the tornadoes. He and Skye implement the plan, while April, who has affixed a circular saw to her stump, saves Fin from a falling shark. They successfully destroy the storm system, which sends both Fin and Skye in the air, where Skye is ripped in half by 2 sharks while still alive. Fin grabs his chainsaw and uses it to kill any sharks coming to him. He grabs on to a great white shark using chains and gets the shark impaled on the antenna of the Empire State Building. Fin retrieves April’s hand from a shark’s mouth and uses the gun to defend them against the falling sharks. The New Yorkers in the streets below arm themselves and charge into battle against the sharks, killing them all. Fin takes the ring from April’s severed hand and uses it to propose remarriage, and she accepts.

In a post-credits scene, Fin goes to a pizzeria he and the group went to earlier and eats a piece of pizza.

REVIEW:

Look out everyone, the sharks are back!!! Last week was apparently shark week and that totally slipped by me. Sharknado 2: The Second One had been collecting dust on my list specifically to be unleashed during shark week. Oh well, a week late is acceptable, right? No one is going to lower my grade or anything, I hope. Can the same be said for this sequel, though?

What is this about?

A freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a Sharknado on the population and its most cherished, iconic sites – and only Fin and April can save the Big Apple.

What did I like?

Fox-y mama. There are certain actors and actresses that have done so many roles that I can’t stand them in that I just have become completely turned off by them. Vivica A. Fox is one of these people mainly because of her sassy, borderline ghetto attitude in every…single…role. If it calls for this, fine, but she’s been in some stuff that didn’t and it just made no sense. Having said this, I must say that I was impressed with her ability to not be sassy and be an actual intelligent human being for once in this role as Fin (Ian Ziering)’s old flame from high school. If she could do roles like this more often, maybe I’d actually like her.

Today. When I was growing up, my parents would always have the Today show on. Back then it was only 2 hours, maybe 3, and was hosted by Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley, with Matt Lauer at the news desk and Al Roker occasionally filling in for Willard Scott. Now, Lauer is the host and Roker is the weatherman. What does this have to do with anything? As with any kind of weather event, you want to constantly check the news, so the film switches to them delivering weather. What I like is how the film used the actual Today show and brought in Lauer and Roker to do this, rather than come up with a poor imitation such as Hal Poker and Pat Bauer or something similar.

Opening action. Action movies are notorious for starting off so slow that the audience is literally awakened by the loud action that comes later on. Not so much with this picture, as it begins with a plane crash caused by a sharknado. I, for one, can appreciate how they started off with a bang, rather than a whimper, then brought it down to develop the “story” a bit, and then kicked into high gear for the rest of the film. It is a formula that works for this kind of picture. One where you can just turn your brain off and enjoy the ride.

What didn’t I like?

Sharks. Taking into account that this is a Syfy channel movie and they don’t have the biggest of budgets, I have to mention the horrible job done on the CG sharks. They look about as fake as fake can be. One person on a message board mentioned that it might have been better to just use rubber sharks. I actually think that might have been the better option. Most sequels get more money and better special effects but, judging by these sharks, this one seems to have gotten worse. I will say that no matter how bad the effects are, seeing a flying shark devour a man never gets old!

Tara, is that you? I’ve been watching episodes of Scrubs lately and I just happened to have reached the few episodes Tara Reid guest starred in, you know, back when she was super hot. Go from that to seeing her in this and it is a true testament to not getting plastic surgery. Her face appears to still be young, but you can also see the stretch marks as it tries to be natural. She also has some weird thing with her eyes. It is like they’re watery the whole time, it may have just been the light, though.

Cameos. I’m really starting to think this franchise exists just to give people a quick acting job. There are so many cameos in this film that I’m not going to even count. I will say that some of them are clever, such as Jared eating a Subway sandwich under a Subway ad and telling a guy he should have ordered the meal, but he’s playing a character, not Jared. Going one further, the pilot of the plane is none other than Robert Hays from Airplane! While those cameos work, there are many others that don’t. For instance, TNA wrestler Kurt Angle is the fire chief. If he wasn’t so huge, I think I would believe him. Basically, I’m saying this film needs to cut down on the cameos or find a way to make them clever, rather than just throw someone in a costume.

When Sharknado aired, no one was thinking it would become the mega-hit that it did. Sharknado 2: The Second One tries to recreate that magical formula but doesn’t quite get there. I believe that this has the better story of the two, but the film is too busy being nonsensical and throwing out cameos for anyone to notice. As I said, the effects are horrible and may be worse than the first one. Ziering is believable enough as an action hero, but the bad one-liners he throws out as he goes off to do something heroic, if you will, need to stop. All that said, I can’t say that I hated this picture. As a matter of fact, I somewhat enjoyed it. Do I recommend it? Not highly, but a viewing or two won’t hurt. Be warned, though…there is a third film set to air next week! –screams in terror–

3 out of 5 stars

Adore

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on July 14, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In New South Wales, two young girls, Roz and Lil grow up as best friends. Many years later, Lil’s husband Theo, dies in a car accident and she is left to raise her young son, Ian, alone. Roz is married to a drama professor, Harold, and has a young son, Tom. Roz, steps up to the plate and becomes almost something of a second mother to Ian. Her friendship with Lil deepens to that of sisterhood. Lil, Roz, Harold, Ian, and Tom live near the beach.

Years pass and Tom and Ian are now 20 years old, still close. Harold applies for and is offered a job in Sydney without telling Roz. It becomes obvious that while Roz’s friendship with Lil has deepened over the years Harold and Roz have grown apart. He expects Roz to move to Sydney with him; she hesitates. Despite himself, Ian becomes seriously attracted to Roz. One night he looks at her and it is obvious that his feelings toward her have changed. Ian starts making casual advances towards Roz. Roz, despite herself, starts flirting back in the same manner. Saul, a man who has been after Lil for a long time, gets blown off by her again. One night Ian, Tom, Roz, and Lil are having dinner together. Roz and Ian flirt and watch Lil and Tom dance together. That night Tom has a little too much to drink. Ian goes back to the main house, where there is a guestroom that Ian often stays in. Ian kisses Roz, and although she is hesitant the two of them end up going to his room together.

That night Tom goes up to the kitchen for a drink and witnesses Roz coming out of Ian’s room, wearing nothing but a t-shirt and carrying her jeans in her hand. The next day Tom puts the moves on Lil and ends up telling her what has been going on between Ian and Roz. Tom takes revenge by initiating a sexual relationship with Lil. He informs his mother that he was with Lil and Roz slaps him in the face. Both, Lil and Roz agree that they have crossed a line and that it shouldn’t be crossed again. Lil informs Ian of this. Ian tells his mother that he loves Roz as Harold returns. Roz informs Harold that she and Tom don’t plan to move to Sydney with him because they can’t bear the thought of living anywhere else.

Things don’t go so well at first and Tom and Ian get into a fight then make up. Roz and Ian continue their relationship, but they are now getting along with Tom and Lil, who are continuing their relationship as well. Tom and Ian are acting brothers and best friends who are in love with a set of sisters. Later Roz and Harold divorce.

Two years later, Ian is working with his mother Lil, while Tom pursues his career as a stage director. Tom informs Ian that Harold has offered him a month-long directing job in Sydney, but is hesitant to leave, worrying that Lil would not be happy with this. But Ian encourages Tom to go, stating that Lil would not want to get in the way of his goals. Tom leaves for Sydney and soon meets a young woman named Mary who auditions for the lead. Tom is instantly attracted to Mary. Tom calls Lil and tells her about Mary, but does not mention that they are beginning a relationship. Lil begins to worry, however, though Ian and Roz try their best to console her. When Tom returns he continues his relationship with Lil, but at the same time receives calls from Mary.

On Tom’s 21st birthday, Harold comes back to celebrate and brings Mary as a surprise for Tom. Lil is unaware of this, and arrives later that night with Ian to the party. She sees Tom dancing with Mary. Tom in turn sees her and comes over to introduce the two women. Ian then asks Mary to dance and takes her to the dance floor. Tom informs Lil that Mary is staying at a hotel room and that he can come over after dropping her off. Lil tells him that it is not a good idea and soon leaves. Tom goes to Mary’s hotel and the next day Lil is devastated. She and Roz decide to unite together and end their respective relationships for good.

Tom and Mary later get married. At the wedding Ian is still mad at Roz, and hints to Harold that it’s his fault for the wedding. Ian then meets Mary’s maid of honor, Hannah. Ian is distraught and tries to see Roz early the next morning; still angry, he goes surfing and lands himself in the hospital. Hannah visits him in the hospital and the two later become involved. While meeting with Tom, Ian tells him that Hannah is great but it’s not going anywhere. That night after work Hannah informs Ian that she is pregnant.

Years later Ian and Tom both have daughters about the same age. Both couples, along with Lil and Roz, spend the day at the beach. Later that evening Lil leaves early, and Tom claims to be drunk and takes a walk to sober up. Ian then discovers that Tom and Lil have resumed their sexual relationship and is so angry that he discloses to the two young women what has been going on. Mary explains to a confused Hannah that Ian and Roz were lovers and that Tom and Lil are still lovers. Mary decides to leave Tom and Hannah goes with her, taking both girls with them. Mary informs Roz that she never wants to see any of them ever again. Lil explains to Roz about restarting her sexual relationship with Tom shortly after his wedding to Mary.

The movie ends with Ian swimming to the floating platform that has been a meeting place for the boys and their mothers all throughout the film. “Good morning,” he says politely. The next shot, from over the platform of sin, reveals each of the four, all lying there, but not touching; together, but each utterly alone.

REVIEW:

I believe they call those random posts on Facebook that have nothing to do with any of your friends, but seem to appeal to the stuff you like “clickbait”. I clicked on one of those, I believe it was called underrated films on Netflix, or something to that effect and saw Adore. From what they said about it, I thought it would be interesting. Was I right or wrong?

What is this about?

In this seaside drama adapted from a novella by Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing, two lifelong friends who fall in love with each other’s teenage sons must carry out their affairs in relative secrecy.

What did I like?

Friendship. Two women who have become best friends are every so proud of their two sons, who one of them calls “Greek gods”, also best friends. One can never have too many friends. You never know when you just need someone to talk to, get you out of a jam or, in the case of this film have illicit affairs with their son without them judging you.

Taboo. We are living in a society that is getting so homogenized, for lack of a better term, that we can do, say, or show anything without fear of offending someone. Sometimes a film just needs to grow some balls and go for it, you know? Thankfully, that is what we get here as the subject matter is very taboo. Or is it? Think about the premise of a teenage boy hooking up with his best friend’s mom while his said friend hooks up with his mom. If I’m not mistaken that is very similar to some porn “plots”. It works for that industry, no reason it can’t do the same for indie drama, right?

Cinema. Sometimes, in the era of explosions, giant robots, dinosaurs, and superheroes, we forget what real cinema is. Nothing about this film is flashy. Even the two lead actresses, who are beauties in their own right, seemed to be “uglied” up a bit. All this is done in the name of acting, the craft that many of Hollywood’s “actors” cannot do without special effects and a teleprompter.

What didn’t I like?

Oldman-light. There is an actor in here, I don’t really know his name, whose look, mannerisms and actions are very reminiscent of Gary Oldman, As a matter of fact, that’s who I thought he was at first. Instead, he’s just poor man’s clone on Oldman. He’s not as good an actor, but he tries. It is such a shame he will always be overshadowed by the man with the bigger, more successful look-alike.

One mistake. Women can be such fickle creatures. All it takes is just one mistake, be it big or small, and it is like the end of the world for us guys. Heaven forbid they are “surfing the crimson wave!” because that just makes things worse. A scene near the end of this film showcases how unforgiving women can be. The guys both make one mistake and they storm out with the kids, vowing to never see any of them again.

Wine, wine, and more wine…with a couple of beers. A small complaint that I have about this film is how in nearly every scene, Watts and Wright are sipping down wine like its water. When they drink beer with the boys they aren’t as fast. Is there something in the wine? Speaking of wine and beer, there is a scene where the ladies and their sons are talking and the subject of boobs is brought up which leads me to believe the author had women a bit more endowed than these two happen to be. For the purpose of the story that was told, it would work better if at least one of them was more than an A cup. This is totally not where I meant to go with this topic, but oh well.

Some people really do adore Adore. I am not one of these people. For me, this film was rather boring. The subject matter should have kept me interested, but it didn’t. This coming of age story about taboo relationships just isn’t my cup of tea, but I’m sure the audience it is targeted for will enjoy it. I recommend it to them, while the rest of us can find something more our speed like Fast and Furious. If you do insist on watching this, I trust that you’ll enjoy the melodrama and taboo subjects.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on July 12, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Adelina of Naples

Set in the poorer Naples of 1953, Adelina (Loren) supports her unemployed husband Carmine (Mastroianni) and child by selling black market cigarettes. When she doesn’t pay a fine, her furniture is to be repossessed. However her neighbors assist her by hiding the furniture. A lawyer who lives in the neighborhood advises Carmine that as the fine and furniture is in Adelina’s name, she will be imprisoned. However, Italian law stipulates that women cannot be imprisoned when pregnant or within six months after a pregnancy. As a result Adelina schemes to purposely stay pregnant. After seven children, Carmine is seriously exhausted and Adelina must make the choice of being impregnated by their mutual friend Pasquale (Aldo Giuffrè) or be incarcerated.

She finally chooses to be incarcerated, and the whole neighborhood gathers money to free her and petition for her pardon, which finally comes and she is reunited with her husband Carmine and the children.

Anna of Milan

Anna (Loren dressed by Christian Dior) is the wife of a mega-rich industrialist who has a lover named Renzo (Mastroianni). Whilst driving together in her husband’s Rolls-Royce, Anna must determine which is the most important to her happiness – Renzo or the Rolls. Renzo rethinks his infatuation with Anna when she expresses no concern when they nearly run over a child, and end up crashing the Rolls-Royce.

She is infuriated by the damage to her Rolls-Royce, and ends up getting another passing driver to take her home, leaving Renzo on the road.

Mara of Rome

Mara (Loren) works as a prostitute from her apartment, servicing a variety of high class clients including Augusto (Mastroianni), the wealthy, powerful and neurotic son of a Bologna industrialist.

Mara’s elderly neighbour’s grandson visiting them is a handsome and callow young man studying for the priesthood but not yet ordained who falls in love with Mara. To the shrieking dismay of his grandmother, the young man wishes to leave the clergy to be with Mara or to join the French Foreign Legion if Mara rejects him. Mara vows to set the young man on the path of righteousness back to the seminary and enlists the reluctant Augusto. Mara provides a strip tease at the climax of the film.

REVIEW:

Anthology pictures must have been all the rage in the early 60s because Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is yet another film from that period in film that follows the pattern. Of course none of that really matters when you have the drop dead gorgeous Sophia Loren, in her prime, as your star, now does it?

What is this about?

Screen icons Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni — each playing three different roles — team up for a trio of stories about sex and social mores in this Academy Award-winning Italian comedy.

What did I like?

Different trilogy. In these anthology films, the stories just seem to be random snippets that could have been full-length motion pictures, but instead became short segments. In this film’s case, that is still the formula, as these three segments have nothing to do with each other except for featuring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. That being said, they aren’t treated as 3 separate films, but rather one big picture with 3 parts and that is what makes this film different from it contemporaries.

Sophia. What is it about Italian women that makes them some of the most desirable in the world? Look at Monica Bellucci. That woman is perfection, but before her there was Sophia Loren. This woman not only oozes sex appeal, but she isn’t a bad actress, either. The first segment shows this to us in spades as she portrays a woman who must choose between her family (which is steadily growing) and prison. Not an easy role to take on, and she nails it only to be followed up by a couple of comedic roles, one of which culminates in a striptease that will leave your heart rate racing for days!

What didn’t I like?

Lost in translation. It isn’t that I dislike foreign film, but there is something that is lost in reading subtitles that an individual doesn’t get from actual context. For example, this film is supposed to be a comedy, but I don’t believe there was much laughter to be had. Is that me just not being the type to bust out laughing over every little thing? Perhaps, but it is also something in the deliver. This same film could be converted to English and the jokes would theoretically work better. It doesn’t help matters that Netflix said the audio was English.

Despicable characters. A good antagonist can make or break a story and these are some truly deplorable human beings. First, in the second segment, we have Sophia Loren playing a rich debutante who cares only for her material possessions. She makes this known where her male associate swerves out of the way, so as to not hit a kid, and runs into a tractor and she says she doesn’t care if he hit the kid. What kind of person says that?!? In the last segment, an old woman is so incensed that Loren’s character, a prostitute, is talking to her son that she all but has her kicked out of the building. Yes, they were just talking. Apparently, that was a huge crime!

All in all, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is a nice little picture, with plenty of eye candy from Loren. When it comes to the picture itself, though, I am intrigued what I would have thought had this been made without her as the lead as she is both a positive and negative for the picture. A great actress, but her looks and curves can be a bit distracting. Let’s get to it, shall we? Do I recommend this? Tough call, but I think I’ll say yes, especially if you’re into foreign films. For me, though, I think I’ll go hunt down some of Loren’s English-speaking roles.

3 out of 5 stars

Cursed

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins in Hollywood Los Angeles, when two friends, Jenny Tate and Becky Morton, are at a pier and decide to get their fortune told by Zela, asking about a boy. Zela foretells that they will suffer a horrible fate, but they don’t believe her and walk away laughing. A little while later, Becky realizes Jenny has disappeared and can’t find her on the pier.

On that same night, teenager Jimmy Myers is picked up on Hollywood Blvd by his sister Ellie, who just came back from visiting her boyfriend Jake Taylor. Jimmy had a run in with some bullies and his crush Brooke. On their way home, Jimmy and Ellie hit an animal and another car. They attempt to rescue the other driver, Becky Morton, but she is suddenly dragged and ripped in half by an unseen creature. Jimmy and Ellie are both slashed by the creature’s claws, but make it out alive. When interviewed by police, despite Jimmy’s belief that it was a wolf or dog type animal, the official report credits it to a bear or cougar.

Once they get home, Jimmy does research about wolves in California and starts to believe that the creature was a werewolf, and the next morning, nonchalantly tells Ellie, much to her disbelief. Jimmy and Ellie start to exhibit strange tendencies; while working at the news set, Ellie is attracted to the smell of blood, from a co-anchor but Ellie denies it, apparently proving her point by touching a silver picture frame and not getting burned. Jimmy becomes much stronger and more aggressive, as exampled when a bully named Bo forces him to join the wrestling team. He easily defeats three wrestlers, including Bo, and calls Bo out for constantly making gay jokes towards him, saying that Bo himself is repressing his own homosexuality.

Meanwhile, at a party, Jenny runs into Jake, implying that he is the boy that was mentioned at the beginning of the film. She also runs into Joanie, Ellie’s publicist, who takes note of Jake Taylor. Jenny leaves the party after an awkward encounter, and Jake and Joanie leave as the full moon rises. Jenny is torn apart in a parking garage by a wolf-like creature. Zela’s prediction for Jenny and Becky comes true.

Eventually, Ellie starts to believe the werewolf idea when she sees Zela at the news station and she warns about the coming full moon, and Jimmy proves it when he holds a silver cake server and gets burned (he then discovers that the picture frame Ellie touched was actually stainless steel). Their dog bites Jimmy, tasting his blood and becomes a werewolf type monster and goes on a rampage. Realizing what’s happening, he goes to warn Ellie with the help of Bo, who shows up at their house to confess that he is gay and has feelings for Jimmy which Jimmy says is because of the curse. Bo and Jimmy race to where Ellie is.

In the meantime she figures out that Jake is a werewolf. He confirms it, but claims it wasn’t him that attacked her and Jimmy. Another werewolf attacks, seemingly proving his story. Bo and Jimmy try to help, but Bo is knocked out. The new werewolf is revealed to be Joanie, who had a one-night stand with Jake and became a werewolf (with proof of a pentagram on her right hand). She wants revenge by killing all of the other girls he dates. He refuses to let her hurt Ellie, and she knocks him out. Joanie soon turns into a werewolf and starts attacking. Ellie and Jimmy fight her, and she finally runs and hides when the police arrive. The two draw her out by insulting her, which she (in werewolf form) gives them the finger. The police open fire, apparently killing her. What they don’t know is that the only way to kill a werewolf is to separate the brain from the heart. As she rises again, a cop shoots her in the head, finally killing her. Bo is okay, but Jake has disappeared.

Jimmy and Ellie return to a wrecked home. As Jimmy goes to try to fix the power, Jake arrives. He reveals that he did in fact bite Ellie and Jimmy, and he wants Ellie to live forever by his side after he kills Jimmy. She refuses, and the two fight it out, but her werewolf side only emerges and disappears at small intervals, while he has complete control over his werewolf side and dominates the fight. Jimmy joins in, climbing across the ceiling and biting Jake, distracting him long enough for Ellie to stab him with the silver cake server, badly injuring him. Ellie decapitates Jake with a shovel and breaking the curse on her, Jimmy and their dog. They watch as Jake’s body starts to burn with fire and eventually only leaving the silver cake server. Brooke shows up with their dog, having learned where they live from Bo, who also shows up. Bo and Jimmy are now friends; Jimmy kisses Brooke and walks her home along with Bo. Ellie goes to clean up the mess that is their house

REVIEW:

So, the new trailer from Batman vs. Superman just was released (or leaked) on-line from San Diego Comic-Con. The first thing I was asked when it surfaced wasn’t what I thought about it, but rather how much flack I’m going to give it for having Jesse Eisenberg. Many have wondered where my hate for that rat-faced, no talent hack came from and, to be honest, I don’t know where it started, but I would have to say Cursed would be a good place to start.

What is this about?

An estranged brother and sister must deal with the recent loss of their parents. But heaping more misery into their lives is a life-altering attack one dark night by a vicious werewolf.

What did I like?

Mythology. Everyone knows that basics about werewolves, get bit and you’re cursed to become a werewolf every full moon. What this film does is delve a bit further into the various versions of the mythology, such as heightened senses, sexual attraction, taste for blood, etc. The relationship with canines is even hinted at during one scene, which is nice since almost every other werewolf appearance in media from The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney up to True Blood (I believe that is the latest werewolf appearance) has given us pieces to go on but, as with vampires, it’s all bunch of this and that with no one agreeing on anything except how you become one.

Sister. Christina Ricci, forever doomed to play a sister, it seems. She can’t complain about it this time, though. She was age appropriate and does a decent job with the material she’s given. Ricci is a strong woman taking care of herself and her teenage little brother, while working for the Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn. Not to mention, she has to deal with this werewolf stuff. I think she holds up pretty well. She even gets into a couple of fights, one with Judy Greer and the other with her boyfriend, Joshua Jackson, and holds her own. Maybe we should start looking at her for a role in a comic book movie.

Dirty dog. Werewolves aren’t limited to just people changing. It would appear that dogs can be afflicted by the curse, too. Dogs are already vicious killers, if you ask me, and giving the heightened powers of a werewolf? Yikes! Kudos to the film for basically make the family dog Cujo, though I wish they would have done more with him than just attack a car. We didn’t even really get a good look at his transformed state. Still, I’m sure some were freaked out by the notion of their dog turning on them.

What didn’t I like?

Use your gypsy. In the original Wolfman tale, the gypsy woman is a very important character. Judging by how many references there are to other werewolf movies and such, one could assume that the gypsy woman would at least be more than a cameo at the beginning of the film, but nope. Instead, she shows up one more time and that’s it. WTF?!? Use this woman to explain stuff! It would have been better and more accurate than dealing with Eisenberg’s half-ass research!

Luthor you ain’t! Alright, you knew this was coming. Eisenberg is a huge negative for this film. His character is the same annoying character he plays in every film. The nerdy, stammering guy who somehow becomes cool and gets the girl without any change, but rather deception. For the love of all this is holy, he better not have Lex Luthor follow this pattern. Well, the deception is allowed. As far as this film goes, I just didn’t buy him when he was trying to show off his enhanced strength and sexual magnetism. Going there is fine, but the actor needs to sell the change, and Eisenberg didn’t.

Werewolves, or lack thereof. In case  you haven’t figured out yet, this is a film about werewolves. Here’s the thing, though, we only see 1 wolf. There are maybe 4 werewolves in this film, but only one of them fully changes, Judy Greer. We see Christina Ricci, Joshua Jackson, and Eisenberg hint at changing. Ricci and Eisenberg show parts of their anatomy shifting, but nothing actually happens. For me, if I’m watching a modern werewolf flick, I expect to see some wolves. Instead, this was mostly a big cocktease. There may actually be less werewolves in here than in that Jack Nicholson werewolf movie, Wolf.

Cursed is one of those films that tries to do so much that it doesn’t do much of anything. It tries to give us a new werewolf flick while paying homage to its predecessors, but it just succeeds in getting bogged down in too much muck. The cast is decent and give alright performances, but this isn’t the greatest material to judge anyone on. All that said, and with the lack of werewolves, I still found myself enjoying this. It is head and shoulders above the crappy Wolfman that came out a few years back and way more believable than those Twilight wolves. So, do I recommend this? I guess it would be alright for a guilty pleasure viewing or to start a werewolf movie marathon.

3 out of 5 stars

Revisited: Dogma

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon) are fallen angels, banished for eternity from Heaven to Wisconsin for insubordination after an inebriated Loki (with Bartleby’s encouragement) resigned as the Angel of Death. When the trendy Cardinal Glick (Carlin) announces that he is rededicating his cathedral in Red Bank, New Jersey in the image of the “Buddy Christ”, the angels see their salvation: Anyone entering the cathedral during the rededication festivities will receive a plenary indulgence; all punishment for sin will be remitted, permitting direct entry into Heaven. They receive encouragement from an unexpected source: Azrael (Lee), a demon, once a Muse, also banished from Heaven (for refusing to take sides in the battle between God and Lucifer); and the Stygian Triplets (Barret Hackney, Jared Pfennigwerth, and Kitao Sakurai), three teenage hoodlums who serve Azrael in Hell.

Bethany Sloane (Fiorentino)—a despondent, infertile, divorced abortion clinic employee—attends a service at her church in Illinois. Donations are being solicited to help a hospitalized, comatose homeless man—known only as John Doe Jersey (Cort)—who was beaten senseless outside a skee ball arcade in New Jersey by the Triplets. Later that day, Metatron (Rickman)—the Voice of God—appears to Bethany in a pillar of fire and declares that she is the last relative of Jesus Christ. He explains that Bartleby and Loki cannot be allowed to succeed: By re-entering Heaven, they would be overruling the word of God, thereby disproving the fundamental concept of God’s omnipotence, and nullifying all of existence. She, together with two prophets who will appear to her, must stop the angels and save the universe.

Now a target, Bethany is attacked by the Triplets, and is rescued by the two foretold prophets—drug-dealing stoners named Jay and Silent Bob (Mewes and Smith). Azrael then summons a Golgothan (a vile creature made of human excrement) to find and kill Bethany, but Silent Bob immobilizes it with aerosol deodorant. Other allies in Bethany’s mission are Rufus (Rock), the thirteenth apostle (never mentioned in the Bible, he says, because he is black), and Serendipity (Hayek), a Muse with writer’s block.

On a train to New Jersey, a drunken Bethany reveals her mission to Bartleby, who tries to kill her; a melee ensues, and Silent Bob throws the angels off the train. Bartleby and Loki now realize the potential consequences of their scheme; and while Loki wants no part of destroying all existence, Bartleby remains angry at God for his expulsion—and for granting free will to humans while demanding servitude of angels—and to Loki’s horror, resolves to proceed.

Bethany and her allies discuss the situation: Who is really behind the angels’ plan, and why has God not intervened? Metatron explains that God’s whereabouts are unknown; he disappeared while visiting New Jersey in human form to play skee ball. At the cathedral, the group attempts in vain to persuade Cardinal Glick to cancel the celebration; Jay angrily steals Glick’s golf club.

At a nearby bar, Azrael captures Bethany and her protectors and reveals that he is the mastermind behind the angels’ plan—he would rather not exist at all than spend eternity in Hell. Silent Bob kills Azrael with Glick’s blessed golf club. Serendipity tells Bethany to bless the bar sink, turning its contents to holy water, and Jay, Rufus and Serendipity drown the Triplets in it. Bartleby and Loki reach the cathedral; Bartleby kills all the celebrants, and when Loki attempts to stop him he tears off Loki’s wings, making him mortal. When the protectors block Bartleby’s entry into the church, Bartleby kills Loki and fights off Rufus, Serendipity and Bob, but as he flees, Jay shoots off his wings with a machine gun.

During his latest of several attempts to seduce Bethany, Jay mentions John Doe Jersey. Realizing that the homeless man is the mortal form that God assumed, Bethany and Bob race to the hospital. Bethany disconnects John Doe’s life support, liberating God, but killing herself. As Bartleby again attempts to enter the cathedral, God manifests before him as a woman (Morissette), and kills him with the power of her voice. When Bob arrives with Bethany’s lifeless body, God resurrects her and conceives a child within her womb. God, Metatron, Rufus, and Serendipity return to Heaven, leaving Bethany and the two prophets to reflect on what has happened.

REVIEW:

Sometimes when I watch a film that was released in my lifetime, I don’t look back on it with nostalgic longing, but instead I am in awe of how far the cast and crew have come (or fallen) since its release. Dogma was the last time Ben Affleck did a Kevin Smith film., until he was brought back in for Jersey Girl and there was a cameo in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back2 as a matter of fact). For this one, he even brought in his buddy Matt Damon. The two of them haven’t worked or have been seen together since, that I can recall. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for this film, but maybe that was just a falling out behind the scenes.

What is this about?

Fallen angels (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck), a gnarly demon (Jason Lee) and a half-baked apostle (Chris Rock) walk among America’s cynics and innocents and duke it out for humankind’s fate in director Kevin Smith’s 1999 comic meditation on religion. A modern-day battle against evil takes place in suburban New Jersey, after an abortion clinic worker (Linda Fiorentino) gets a higher calling from two clueless prophets (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith).

What did I like?

Religious satire. Hard to believe in this era where everything offends everyone that people actually had a sense of humor. Religion is one of the institutions that tends to be held to a higher standard. No one really touches it , especially the Catholic faith. Kevin Smith, though, had the balls to take on the church and their rules. All throughout the film, characters joke about how depressing it is to go to church, how Catholics think they are the only ones that are right, etc. It is true that this could not be done with another religion, like say Islam, but Smith, being a Catholic, himself makes jokes that come from the heart and aren’t meant to be malicious and that may be why this film succeeds in its humor.

Story. Two angels get kicked out of heaven and have to live on Earth for eternity, in Wisconsin! Azrael, a demon, plots to get them back in, thus negating all of existence just so he can stop living in torture. With God missing, thanks to being mugged while playing skeeball, the only one that can stop all of this is the last Scion, a couple of prophets, the 13 th apostle, and a muse. Sounds a bit far-fetched, but Smith is such a capable writer and this cast has enough talent and chemistry, that this insane story, which should have been a disaster, comes together brilliantly. I do wonder, though…the angels were banished after Sodom and Gomorrah. That was way before Wisconsin was any near becoming a state. Did they just get banished to the woods, or whatever was up there, until it became Wisconsin? I’ve always wondered that.

No one is safe! Not only does Smith attack the Catholics, he goes after atheists, pro-life/pro-choice, feminists, racism, etc. I think the only group he didn’t get were politicians. In attacking everyone, Smith shows that he is an equal opportunity offender, not just one joke that lasts for two hours. “Variety is the spice of life!” they say and that applies towards comedy, as well.

What didn’t I like?

Fading chemistry. As I mentioned in my opening, there was a time when Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were inseparable. I believe that it was around the time of this film that we started to see them go their separate ways. It is obvious that something changed in their dynamic as the film progresses because they maybe have a handful of scene in which they are both on the screen. The few scenes in which they are both on, it is like an uncomfortable dinner with your ex who you just broke up with. Maybe I’m just seeing something that isn’t there, though.

Lead, lady, lead. Call me crazy, but I feel that a leading actress should make you take notice of her, regardless of what her character’s characteristics are. Linda Fiorentino doesn’t really do that. Nothing about this woman is particularly special, and that may be why she was cast. As a leading lady, though…well, there’s a reason she hasn’t been in more stuff. She is constantly overshadowed by the rest of the cast and, if not for her character being so necessary to this plot, one has to wonder why she’s even around. Since Janeane Garofalo made a quick appearance, I wonder if she would have made for a better leading lady, or perhaps one of Smith’s usuals from the ViewAskew-verse?

Alanis? The thought of a female version of God scares some people. That was part of the controversy surrounding that song in the 90s, “One of Us”. Chris Rock’s character sums it up best when he says God isn’t a she or he, not anything. In essence, he says God is what you make him out to be. Apparently, Kevin Smith thinks Alanis Morissette is God. Some people would have picked Charlton Heston, Lynard Skynard, Ronald Regan, Morgan Freeman John Ritter, etc. Myself, I’d have gone with Louis Armstrong. I guess it’s just a matter of personal taste. Why she was skipping around like a flower child is a mystery to us all, though.

Kevin Smith has said he feels Dogma is one of his most personal films. If I’m not mistaken, this is also his first film to not be released as an independent. My final thoughts on it are it does what it sets out to do, make a smart satire about Catholic dogma and the way Smith feels about, having grown up in the church. Will people be offended if they watch this? Probably, and other will enjoy the ludicrous situations. It all is a matter of personal opinion and tastes. Do I recommend it? If you’re a conservative bible-beater, this is not for you. I’ll say that right away. For everyone else, this is a fun ride from start to finish with interesting and insane situations as well as an inspired story. Yes, I do recommend it, very highly as a matter of fact!

4 out of 5 stars