Archive for October, 2015

The Fog

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 31, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

William Blake arranges to purchase half of Antonio Island, off the coast of Oregon, to establish a leper colony for his people. However, island residents Patrick Malone, Norman Castle, Richard Wayne and David Williams double-cross Blake. During a foggy night, they loot his clipper ship the Elizabeth Dane and set it on fire, killing all aboard. 134 years later, the residents of Antonio Island prepare to honor their founding fathers—the same men who burned the Elizabeth Dane—and a statue of them is to be unveiled on the town’s anniversary. During a boating trip, Nick Castle and his friend Spooner unwittingly disturb a bag containing a pocket-watch and a hairbrush from the Elizabeth Dane lying on the seabed.

That night, Nick meets his former girlfriend, Elizabeth Williams, who has returned after six months away. Elizabeth is shown the antique pocket-watch by Machen, an old man who found it washed up on the beach. He warns her ominously “if you touch it, things will change.” The watch begins ticking as Elizabeth holds it. She sees a hallmark on it, which includes a set of scales. Supernatural occurrences then begin to plague the town. Objects move by themselves, power outages occur, and the windows in Nick’s truck inexplicably shatter. Nick and Elizabeth then encounter drunken priest Father Malone, who is ranting about murderers and retribution. Meanwhile, at the local radio station, host Stevie Wayne gets a phone call from weatherman Dan about a large fog bank off the coast. Out at sea on Nick’s boat, Spooner and Nick’s cousin Sean are partying with two young women, Mandi and Jennifer. As the fog reaches them, the boat’s engine stops and the instruments break. An old clipper ship appears in the fog next to them. Seemingly possessed, Jennifer draws a set of scales on a misted window inside the boat. Unseen forces then horrifically kill Mandi, Jennifer and Sean. At Nick’s beach house, Elizabeth has been dreaming about the Elizabeth Dane. She searches the Internet for information about the hallmark symbol she saw earlier, but her computer malfunctions and the word “Dane” appears on the screen. She hears a knock at the front door, goes outside but finds nothing. Walking down to the beach, the fog begins moving in but Nick brings her back inside.

The next day, Nick’s Uncle Hank telephones him about the disappearance of his boat. Nick and Elizabeth sail out and find the vessel and the three corpses. Elizabeth goes into the hold and finds Spooner alive in a freezer. They return to the island where Mayor Tom Malone—Father Malone’s father—suspects Spooner of the murders. In the morgue, Sean’s corpse briefly rises up and accosts Elizabeth. At the library, Elizabeth researches the scales symbol seen on the watch’s hallmark. It represented an old trading colony north of Antonio Island, which was afflicted with leprosy. At the docks, Elizabeth finds the buried journal of Patrick Malone from 1871. She and Nick learn the story of the Elizabeth Dane and realize the founders built the town with the fortune they had stolen from the ship, but kept this secret from their families and the townsfolk.

The ghosts of the Elizabeth Dane seek revenge against Antonio Island’s residents for the past crimes of its founding fathers. After killing Dan at the weather station, they pursue Stevie’s son Andy and his Aunt Connie at home. Connie is killed but Nick and Elizabeth rescue Andy. In her car, Stevie is also attacked but escapes. They all make their way to the Town Hall where the founders’ murderous secrets are exposed. The spirits kill Hank Castle, Kathy Williams and the Malones. The ghost of Blake then seeks Elizabeth. Despite being a descendant of David Williams, Elizabeth is the reincarnation of Blake’s wife and was one of her ancestor’s victims; hence, her mysterious dreams about the Elizabeth Dane. Blake kisses Elizabeth and she transforms into a spirit and disappears as Nick watches helplessly. The next day, the survivors try to cope with their traumatic experiences and the truth about their ancestors. As Stevie reflects on the night’s events with her listeners, Nick throws Patrick Malone’s journal into the sea

REVIEW:

My thoughts on remakes are well known at this point, so I won’t bother to rehash them. However, when it comes to The Fog, I feel that I need to say my piece about remakes. Simply put, if you must remake something, then don’t rehash the story. Give the audience something new with hints of the original. Ugh! Happy Halloween everyone, btw!

What is this about?

Selma Blair, Tom Welling and Maggie Grace star in this creepy thriller about an island town off the coast of Oregon that’s forced to contend with some unwelcome visitors from its past: the spirits of lepers and sailors aboard a ship that the hamlet’s forefathers had steered astray on purpose. Those aboard the doomed vessel all wound up lost in the fog forever. Now, they’re back from the mist, eager to exact revenge on the descendants of their murderers.

What did I like?

Fear of the unknown. Horror movies made in the last 10-15 years just haven’t been scary. Maybe it is a shift in society, maybe it is unoriginal concepts, perhaps it is bad writing, but these things are just a dime a dozen now. Honestly, this film didn’t scare me, either, but there was that sense of terror when the fog randomly killed the people on the boat. Not knowing anything about made it almost scary, which is why the original works so well. Of course, all that goodwill was ruined when they decided to give the fog a life and back story.

Mama Blair. Selma Blair usually plays weird characters, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen her as a mother. Well, you can sort of say she was a mother figure in the Hellboy films, but that’s only because she was the only female. I wouldn’t go that far, though. A couple of thing on Blair. First, I don’t know what it is, but she has never looked better. Maybe it was the scene where she’s in a t-shirt and panties, or maybe it was the hair, but she was almost hot! Second, her character was actually the most likable and relatable, and yet she had very little time on screen. I felt that they developed her a little and then backed off to focus on Tom Welling and Maggie Grace, who I’ll get to shortly.

Twist. Not spoiling anything, but the twist at the end, if you can call it that, leaves the audience scratching their head wondering should they be happy or sad about what just happened. Again, this goes back to not fleshing out the characters. We don’t know what to think about the events that just transpired. That being said, other than a slight foreshadowing near the beginning, we never saw it coming, so that was a plus.

What didn’t I like?

Comic relief. Oregon is not know for being the most racially diverse state. As a result, we get one African-American actor and he’s the comic relief. Truthfully, I could care less about the guy’s race, but if you’re cast to be funny, then for goodness sakes be funny. DeRay Davis failed at his job because I found him to be more of a sidekick than comic relief. His scenes, except when he was partying with the bikini babes, gave me the impression that he has some heroic tendencies bottled up. Maybe there was a version of the script where he saved the day, I don’t know. What I do know is that at least the black man didn’t die first!

More than just pretty faces. More and more today, I see films focusing on casting pretty people rather than competent actors and nine times out of ten, they can’t act! Megan Fox, anyone? Tom Welling and Maggie Grace were obviously cast for their looks, because they are not the best actors and have little to no chemistry. I will say that Welling was a hot commodity because Smallville was in its prime, and that is why he was cast. Maggie Grace is just a beautiful actress. In her defense, though, I have seen her do much better work, so maybe this was a case of needed a better leading man, or she just hadn’t matured as an actress. At any rate, their wooden, unemotional acting takes the audience out and makes you ponder what the point of even caring about these two is.

Graveyard shadows. There is a scene in The Matrix: Reloaded where Keanu Reeves is fighting an army of Agent Smiths. It is some of the worst CG you’ve ever seen, because it is obvious CG. Someone didn’t render it well enough to make it look as real as the actual people and it slipped through the cracks. This may be a product of the limited technology of the time, but everytime I see it and compare it to the highway scene earlier in the film, I wonder. This brings me to this film. In the last scene, we are in a graveyard, surrounded by ghosts. Obviously, the ghosts are CG, but they look like cardboard cutouts used to scare people into thinking there are more than just a couple of them there. I guess the proper term would be shadow, since they are grey and translucent, but still, with the effects that were used with the fires and the fog, surely they could have made the ghosts, which are one of the last things we see in this film, better looking!

From my understanding, The Fog did nothing to improve on the original. Big surprise, right? This is another pointless remake! I don’t really have much to say about it on the positive side, I’m afraid. Maybe when I watch the original, my tune will change, but until then, I do not recommend this film. It just isn’t worth it.

2 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 10/29

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

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Since Halloween is Saturday, how about a horror movie that seems to be forgotten, but we probably all need to check out this series.

Enjoy the trailer for Hellraiser!

Billy Madison

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Billy Madison is the 27-year-old heir to a Fortune 500 hotel company that his father, Brian, has created. He spends his days drinking with friends and creating disturbances across his father’s estate. One day, Billy ruins a dinner meeting between his father and his associates by acting obnoxiously. Brian loses confidence in his son and chooses the conniving Eric Gordon as his successor. When Billy begs his father to reconsider his decision, Brian reveals that he secretly bribed Billy’s school teachers to give him passing grades. The two finally compromise: Billy must complete all 12 grades in two week intervals to prove he is competent enough to manage the company.

Shortly after enrolling into school, Billy becomes attracted to a teacher named Veronica Vaughn, who initially ignores him. Nevertheless, Billy successfully progresses through his first two grades. He finds himself as one of Veronica’s students in the third grade and earns her respect by standing up for Ernie, his friend and classmate. Billy becomes popular among the third graders and misses them as he advances through school. Billy’s progress alarms Eric, who becomes increasingly agitated as Billy completes each grade. Eric blackmails Billy’s principal, Max Anderson, into claiming that Billy bribed him for passing grades.

Brian swiftly terminates his agreement with Billy and names Eric as his successor. Billy grows distraught and reverts to his carefree lifestyle. Veronica motivates him to return to school, while his grade school classmates convince Max to retract his bribery accusations. Brian agrees to give Billy another chance but Eric cites that Billy failed the challenge by taking more than two weeks to complete a grade. He then threatens to sue Brian if he does not pass the company onto him. Billy intervenes and challenges Eric to an academic decathlon to finally settle their feud.

Both men excel in different activities but Billy manages to take a single-point lead before the contest’s final event, a Jeopardy!-style academic test. Billy stumbles on the opening question in the event, and Eric is given the chance to win the contest by answering a question about business ethics. Eric is unable to withstand the pressure and breaks down. He brandishes a handgun, but Max tackles Eric before he can harm Billy. Eric recovers from the attack and attempts to shoot Veronica, but he is shot by Danny McGrath, a rifle-wielding madman whom Billy apologized to earlier in the film.

At his graduation, Billy is delivering a speech. Billy announces he will pass the hotel business to Carl Alphonse, one of his father’s more polite businessmen, and attend college in order to become a teacher. Eric watches on and fumes in frustration over Billy’s decision

REVIEW:

Remember the days when Adam Sandler was actually not hated by most critics, but rather loved? No, well, hopefully a journey back to the days of Billy Madison will change that for you. Many call this one of Sandler’s best. It must be since it is part of his company, Happy Madison, name. Let’s see what the big deal is, shall we?

What is this about?

Job-averse goofball Billy Madison stands to inherit a fortune when his hotel magnate father retires and leaves him in charge. But Billy’s dad won’t trust him with the family business unless he goes back to school. All the way back.

What did I like?

It worked…back then. The Waterboy is perhaps my favorite Adam Sandler movie but, I got to thinking the other day, if it were made today, would it work? The answer is probably no. A big part of that is Sandler’s character. Many of the mannerisms he used for Bobby Boucher are present in almost every film, now that I think about it. Today, we are tired of this schtick, but when you turn on the retro vibe, one can remember how great we thought, no we knew he was!

Kids love him. Once Sandler’s character, Billy, makes it to high school, he has to leave his young friends down at the elementary school (not quite sure what happened to the junior high years). For some reason, it warmed my heart to see them all flock to him when came back to visit one day. I guess that is just the military brat in me wishing that I could have gone back to see my friends and get that kind of reception after very school I left. Who knows?

On the boardwalk. Steve Buscemi makes a small cameo in a couple of scenes. Unlike most of his parts in Sandler movies, he isn’t the butt of some kind of joke, but rather a sympathetic character that Billy apparently was mean to when they were in high school. What is so impressive to be about this role is how much he says with his performance in such a short amount of time. There is obviously some scarring there from his high school days, as we can see from the list of people to kill and the fact that he puts on lipstick, but Billy’s call seems to help with that. That one call did so much, as seen later in the film.

What didn’t I like?

Sonya Blade. I don’t like Bridgette Wilson’s face! That’s me being honest. There is a reason she got the role of Sonya in Mortal Kombat (though she wasn’t the first choice), and it is because of her body. As an actress, she’s decent, but as we can see from her career, nothing special. There is just something about her fact that doesn’t sit right with me. Add on that this character she plays is some kind of borderline bitch towards Billy at the beginning and then at one party, she’s in love with him, and there really is no reason for me to like her, and I don’t think I am the only one that feels this way.

Business villain. There are actors who play good or bad guys so well that they are typecast into that role. Some do it so well people can’t separate them from their character, like Joffrey in Game of Thrones. Bradley Whitford has played a villain in everything I have seen him in. I think there may have been one or two things where he wasn’t, but I can’t really remember those. If that’s his niche, then fine, but this over-the-top, mustache twirling, cartoon slimeball was a bit much, even for a Sandler film. I felt he needed to pull it back in or go full-on supervillain!

Don’t give me Lippy. I hear kindergarten teachers are weird. I can’t really remember mine, so I can’t comment on her. Miss Lippy, the kindergarten teacher at this school is…special, to say the least. When she sends the kids out for recess, it is for “her time”, in which she stays in and does some sort of yoga/tai chi/I don’t know wtf! In another scene, she is shown to be smearing paste on her face. She can be as weird as possible. That isn’t the issue, but if she’s going to be weird, at least give us a reason for her mental state (drugs, divorce, concussion, etc.)

For a film that is considered one of the crown jewels of the Sandler library, I must say that Billy Madison wasn’t as good as I was led to believe. There are two reasons for this, though. First is that I expected it to be more similar to Jack, the Robin Williams movie where he is an overgrown child, literally. Second, this is very similar to a film Sandler’s buddy Chris Farley released not too long after, Tommy Boy, which is actually the better film (in spite of David Spade). A third reason is that we don’t get a reason why Billy acts the way he does. It is obvious he has some brains, but most of the film he just does the Sandler stupid thing. All that aside, do I recommend this? It may be hard to believe, but yes. I did enjoy this film and think that most who view it will, too! Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Focus

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 25, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Seasoned con-man Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) goes to a nightclub, where an inexperienced grifter, Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie), seduces him, and then pretends they’ve been caught by her jealous husband. When the deception fails, Nicky advises them never to lose focus when faced with unexpected situations. Jess finds him in another nightclub a few days later and convinces Nicky to become her mentor. Nicky tells her about how his father, a con man named Bucky Spurgeon, was forced to shoot his grandfather when a con went wrong, a maneuver he calls “the Toledo Panic Button”.

Nick takes Jess to New Orleans, where she is introduced to Nicky’s crew, including the obese and profane Farhad (Adrian Martinez). She picks a few pockets as a test, and soon Nicky and Jess develop a romantic relationship, upsetting Nicky, who was taught by his father to never become emotionally involved with anyone in their line of business. At the 17th Associated Football Franchise of America Championship Game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Nicky gets into a round of increasingly extravagant bets with gambler Liyuan Tse (B.D. Wong), eventually losing all of the money the crew has earned. To win it back, Nicky asks Tse to pick any player off the field and says that Jess will guess the number picked. A distraught Jess scans the field and notices Farhad wearing jersey number 55 and realizes it is another con. They take Tse for millions of dollars, but Nicky, wary of his growing emotional involvement, leaves Jess by the side of the road with her cut.

Three years later, Nicky is in Buenos Aires, working for billionaire motorsport team owner Rafael Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro). Garriga needs to beat a team headed by Australian businessman McEwen (Robert Taylor) to win the championship. Nicky will pretend to be a disgruntled technician on Garriga’s team willing to sell Garriga’s custom fuel use algorithm EXR. Instead he will sell McEwen a bogus version which will slow their car down during the race. At a pre-race party, Nicky runs into Jess, who is now Garriga’s girlfriend. Nicky has a convincing fight with Garriga in public and is recruited by McEwen to provide the component.

Nicky begins pursuing Jess again, and they eventually rekindle their relationship. The head of Garriga’s security entourage, Owens (Gerald McRaney), is suspicious and narrowly misses catching the two together. Nicky delivers the component to McEwen for three million euros but also sells it to the other teams for similar amounts.

Nicky and Jess attempt to return to the United States together. However, they are caught by Garriga’s men and taken to Garriga’s garage. Nicky has actually sold the real EXR to all of the various teams. Nicky gained access to EXR through a necklace he had given to Jess, which secretly recorded Garriga’s password and login information. Jess knew nothing about this. However, Jess then reveals that she was only trying to seduce Garriga in order to steal his valuable watch. Nicky promises to come clean in order to spare Jess’s life but Owens shoot him in the chest, causing a horrified Garriga to leave. Owens then reveals himself to be Nicky’s father, Bucky, and assures Jess that he avoided any major arteries. He simply employed the “Toledo Panic Button.” Bucky then tapes up Nicky’s wounds and draws excess blood out of his son’s chest with a metal plunger so that he can breathe again. They flee the garage in Garriga’s vehicle.

Bucky drives Nicky and Jess to the hospital to treat Nicky’s punctured lung and departs with Nicky’s money as a reminder of the consequences of losing focus. After he leaves, Jess reveals that she snatched Garriga’s watch before he left the warehouse, and a smiling Nicky and Jess then go into the hospital together.

REVIEW:

Will Smith seemed to disappear from movies the past few years, with the exception of one or two films that were utter flops and shoving his kids down our throat. Now that he’s realized what a pox on civilization his offspring are, hopefully he can get back focused on his own career. With film like the upcoming Suicide Squad and Focus, it looks like he’s back and better than ever, but is this a film that will help or hurt his career?

What is this about?

After falling for his pretty young protégé, expert con man Nicky Spurgeon ends their romance when he realizes it will only complicate matters. But his decision comes back to haunt him when she turns up later on the other side of Nicky’s newest scam.

What did I like?

Hitch Prince. Will Smith has had some memorable characters throughout his career. The guy he plays here, Nicky, has some qualities of guys he played in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Hitch. With the Fresh Prince, there is the charismatic, con man, asshole that you still want to cheer for. In terms of Hitch, the confident advisor to those up and coming is a throwback to the matchmaker. Now that I think about, who is to say that Nicky isn’t one of these guys? We don’t know what happened to Will after the show went off the air and Hitch got out of the matchmaking business, but who is to say he didn’t take up another profession?

Mix and match. I heard some rumors about Smith and Margot Robbie having an affair. I cannot confirm or deny those reports, obviously, but watching them interact throughout this film, especially in more intimate scenes, the chemistry they have makes you wonder if something really is going on, a la Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. That said, these two will be teaming up again in the forthcoming Suicide Squad movie. I anxiously await to see more of the same “are they or aren’t they” vibes.

Slight of hand. The techniques used to get the better of the “marks” was quite impressive. Starting with the scene in which Smith is giving Robbie a few tips while robbing her blind by just diverting her focus elsewhere, the audience is shown something so impressive that can easily be done without the use of special effects *GASP* This kind of thing happens throughout the entire picture, making the audience grab at their wallets/purses, especially if they managed to bump into someone today.

What didn’t I like?

Decide on a tone. Bending genres is one thing, but you must have a genre set before you can bend it. That is an issue with this film, it doesn’t have a tone to build from. I couldn’t tell if this was trying to be a drama, thriller, comedy, or something else. The confusion among the tone kept me from really getting into the film, unfortunately. I can’t say for certain this would have worked better in this genre or that, but I will say that one needed to be set so that the audience wouldn’t feel so lost.

Major dad. Gerald McRaney has been a thorn in my side since junior high. Why? Well, when you dad becomes a major around the same time a show called Major Dad is on the air, you can imagine the jokes kids have. What is my issue with him in this film? He reminds me of the hitman from Breaking Bad, whose name slips me at the moment. There is so much of a similarity, I wonder why they just didn’t cast that guy instead. McRaney is more than a capable actor. Surely he could have something more to make this character his own.

Give them ideas, why don’t ya? New Orleans is about an hour away from here. Watching all the tricks that were done to steal got me thinking. As cool as they look on-screen, why are we giving lowlife scum ideas? New Orleans is already a crime ridden cesspool and giving the criminals ideas on how to get better is just idiocracy, yet that is what this film has done. I know who to blame is my identity comes up missing after a trip to the Big Easy.

Again, it is great to see Will Smith back and focused on his own career. Focus is all about him, we don’t see or hear anything about the offspring that seemed to have ruined is career the past few years and in their place is the beautiful Margot Robbie. I’d say that’s an upgrade or a fair trade, depending on how you look at things. Do I recommend this picture? Yes, while not the best thing Smith or Robbie, for that matter, have made, this could be something to randomly turn on and enjoy at any time. Check it out sometime!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 10/22

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on October 22, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

I almost forgot that this is October! Guess I need to pull out some horror trailers these next couple of weeks, huh? Let’s start with this one from a film a friend of mine swears up and down is a great film (I question that, but whatever).

Watch and decide what you think of Tales from the Hood

All About Eve

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 20, 2015 by Mystery Man

all about eve

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At an awards dinner, Eve Harrington—the newest and brightest star on Broadway—is being presented the Sarah Siddons Award for her breakout performance as Cora in Footsteps on the Ceiling. Theatre critic Addison DeWitt observes the proceedings and, in a sardonic voiceover, recalls how Eve’s star rose as quickly as it did.

The film flashes back a year. Margo Channing is one of the biggest stars on Broadway, but despite her success she is bemoaning her age, having just turned forty and knowing what that will mean for her career. After a performance one night, Margo’s close friend Karen Richards, wife of the play’s author Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe), meets besotted fan Eve Harrington in the cold alley outside the stage door. Recognizing her from having passed her many times in the alley (as Eve claims to have seen every performance of Margo’s current play, Aged in Wood), Karen takes her backstage to meet Margo. Eve tells the group gathered in Margo’s dressing room—Karen and Lloyd, Margo’s boyfriend Bill Sampson, a director who is eight years her junior, and Margo’s maid Birdie—that she followed Margo’s last theatrical tour to New York after seeing her in a play in San Francisco. She tells a moving story of growing up poor and losing her young husband in the recent war. Moved, Margo quickly befriends Eve, takes her into her home, and hires her as her assistant, leaving Birdie, who instinctively dislikes Eve, feeling put out.

Eve is gradually shown to be working to supplant Margo, scheming to become her understudy behind her back, driving wedges between her and Lloyd and Bill, and conspiring with an unsuspecting Karen to cause Margo to miss a performance. Eve, knowing in advance that she will be the one appearing that night, invites the city’s theatre critics to attend that evening’s performance, which is a triumph for her. Eve tries to seduce Bill, but he rejects her. Following a scathing newspaper column by Addison, Margo and Bill reconcile, dine with the Richardses, and decide to marry. That same night at the restaurant, Eve blackmails Karen into telling Lloyd to give her the part of Cora, by threatening to tell Margo of Karen’s role in Margo’s missed performance. Before Karen can talk with Lloyd, Margo announces to everyone’s surprise that she does not wish to play Cora and would prefer to continue in Aged in Wood. Eve secures the role and attempts to climb higher by using Addison, who is beginning to doubt her. Just before the premiere of her play at the Shubert in New Haven, Eve presents Addison with her next plan: to marry Lloyd, who, she claims, has come to her professing his love and his eagerness to leave his wife for her. Now, Eve exults, Lloyd will write brilliant plays showcasing her. Unseen but mentioned in dialogue, Karen has begun to suspect Eve as a threat to her own marriage to Lloyd, and so she and Addison meet for lunch and help each other put the pieces about Eve together. Addison is infuriated that Eve has attempted to use him and reveals that he knows that her back story is all lies. Her real name is Gertrude Slojinski, she was never married, and she had been paid to leave her hometown over an affair with her boss, a brewer in Wisconsin. Addison blackmails Eve, informing her that she will not be marrying Lloyd or anyone else; in exchange for Addison’s silence, she now “belongs” to him.

The film returns to the opening scene in which Eve, now a shining Broadway star headed for Hollywood, is presented with her award. In her speech, she thanks Margo and Bill and Lloyd and Karen with characteristic effusion, while all four stare back at her coldly. After the awards ceremony, Eve hands her award to Addison, skips a party in her honor, and returns home alone, where she encounters a young fan—a high-school girl—who has slipped into her apartment and fallen asleep. The young girl professes her adoration and begins at once to insinuate herself into Eve’s life, offering to pack Eve’s trunk for Hollywood and being accepted. “Phoebe”, as she calls herself, answers the door to find Addison returning with Eve’s award. In a revealing moment, the young girl flirts daringly with the older man. Addison hands over the award to Phoebe and leaves without entering. Phoebe then lies to Eve, telling her it was only a cab driver who dropped off the award. While Eve rests in the other room, Phoebe dons Eve’s elegant costume robe and poses in front of a multi-paned mirror, holding the award as if it were a crown. The mirrors transform Phoebe into multiple images of herself, and she bows regally, as if accepting the award to thunderous applause, while triumphant music plays.

REVIEW:

Every now and then, I get the chance to check out one of truly great films in cinema history. In this case, the film in question in All About Eve. Given the track record films of this nature tend to have with me, I wonder if this will actually be worth the watch, or a total bore.

What is this about?

Writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sharp script anchors this story about New York City theater life, with Bette Davis playing an aging Broadway diva who employs a starstruck fan (Anne Baxter) as her assistant, only to learn the woman is a conniving upstart.

What did I like?

Acting. In the early 80s, there was a song called “Bette Davis Eyes”. At the time, I knew nothing about Bette Davis, other than apparently she had very noticeable eyes. This may come as a surprise, but this is the first film I have seen with Davis in it. I have heard all the stories about how she is considered among the all-time greats, this character being a reflection of that, not to mention the fact that she was considered for the lead in Sunset Boulevard. If this is any indication of the kind of performances she gave on a regular basis, then wow…just wow! She commands the screen with her, shall we say unique, look and keeps the control with her grandiose acting chops. Man, why don’t we have actresses like this anymore (excluding the few that actually are good, of course)?

Not a villain? Hugh Marlowe is a guy who, at least in everything I’ve seen him in, has made a career as that guy who seems like he’s there to protect and defend his girl, but in actuality, he’s only out for himself. The best example of this would be his character in The Day the Earth Stool Still. Keeping that in mind, it is a nice change of pace to see him as a “good guy” for one.

Replacement. I’ve seen countless stories where the young, unsuspecting, struggling actress meets her idol and slowly supplants her, without anyone even realizing it. I imagine those are all based on this film, and with good reason. Anne Baxter does a great job portraying the metamorphosis her character goes through from the shy violet, so to speak, to the monstrous venus flytrap. As far as the plot is concerned, this isn’t one that will keep you on the edge of you seat wondering, but your interest is piqued.

What didn’t I like?

Motivation. What is it that motivates a person to take down someone successful, let alone ruin their personal life? I can understand wanting to be like your idol, but what was Eve’s motivation here? I don’t think it was ever mentioned. Was there some wrong that was done to her in the past? Is she just an evil person?

Is this your first time? Not yet a star, Marilyn Monroe shows up in a couple of scenes. She brings a ray of light to this surprisingly dark film and shows that she is on her way to be a star. So what is the problem, you ask? Her character could have just as easily been a cutting room floor casualty or a much bigger part. Is this the right amount of young Marilyn? Perhaps, especially as this is one of her first films, but I don’t think anyone would be offended if there was more of her.

Report. George Sanders has a voice for theater and narration…and animation (he is Shere Kahn in The Jungle Book for those that don’t know). This reporter character he plays is a mystery to me, though. What side is he on, if any? What are his intentions? Could it be that he’s the mastermind behind it all? Perhaps he’s just a lowly reporter who loves theater? Whatever the case may be, I felt he was put in there as an avatar for the audience, initially, and then the decision was made to put him into the main story.

All About Eve really is all about Eve. Every character has some sort of contact/interaction with her and it seems as if the world revolves around her, at least for time span this film covers. Is that good or bad? At this point in time, I can’t tell you, as I am still digesting what I just watched. Do I recommend this picture? Yes, very highly. There is a reason this is one the list of greatest films of all time. It is a bit slower than I would care for it to be, but not to the point of boredom. Give a shot when you can!

4 out of  5 stars

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mystery Inc. (Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo) attend the opening of an exhibition at the Coolsonian Criminology Museum commemorating their past solved cases with monster costumes on display. However, the celebrations are interrupted by the Evil Masked Figure who steals two costumes using the reanimated Pterodactyl Ghost. The gang are ridiculed by journalist Heather Jasper Howe who starts a smear campaign against them. Concluding an old enemy is the mastermind, the gang revisit old cases, dismissing the former Pterodactyl Ghost, Jonathan Jacobo, due to his death during a prison escape, they guess Jeremiah Wickles, the Black Knight Ghost’s portrayer, is the culprit.

Going to Wickles’ mansion, the gang find a book that serves as an instruction manual on how to create monsters. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo find a note inviting Wickles’ to visit the Faux Ghost nightclub. They are attacked by the Black Knight, but escape when Daphne holds him off. Shaggy and Scooby sneak into the Faux Ghost, speaking to Wickles, but learn he has resolved his ways. The rest of the gang discover the key ingredient to create the monsters is a substance called “randomonium” which can be found at the old silver mining town. They go to the museum, accompanied by the curator and Velma’s love interest Patrick Wisely, but discover the rest of the costumes have been stolen. The gang go to the mines, finding Wickles plans to turn it into an amusement park.

The gang then find the Monster Hive where the costumes are brought to life as real monsters. Shaggy and Scooby play around the with the machine’s control panel, brining several costumes to life, and the gang flee the city with the panel as the Evil Masked Figure terrorises the city. Escaping to their old high school clubhouse, the gang realise they can reverse the control panel’s power by altering its wiring. Captain Cutler’s Ghost emerges from the bayou, forcing the gang to head back to the mines, encountering the various monsters along the way. Velma encounters Patrick in the mines, finding a shrine dedicated to Jacobo, but Patrick proves his own innocence by rescuing Velma from falling through a cat walk.

The gang confront the Evil Masked Figure but the Tar Monster captures all of them save Scooby, who uses a fire extinguisher to freeze the Tar Monster’s body. He reactivates the control panel, transforming the costumes back to normal. The gang take the Evil Masked Figure to the authorities, unmasking him as Heather, but in turn reveal she is actually Jacobo in disguise, having escaped death and tried to get revenge on Mystery, Inc. Jacobo’s cameraman Ned is also arrested as an accomplice. Mystery, Inc. are praised as heroes once again in Coolsville.

REVIEW:

After foiling all those monsters in Coolsville, wouldn’t you think that Scooby-Doo and the gang would be bona fide star in their city? Big enough to perhaps even have a museum dedicated to their exploits? Be honest, you never really though about that, did you? Me neither, but the people behind Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed must have been big fans!

What is this about?

In this live-action adventure, friends Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and their canine buddy Scooby vow to put an end to a menacing scoundrel who plans to turn their town of Coolsville into the complete opposite.

What did I like?

They’re back! The original Scooby-Doo cartoon was before my time but, as a child of the 80s, there was another incarnation that would come on Saturday mornings. These days, I think you can catch Scooby on Boomerang, as well as some insult to his legacy on Cartoon Network. In this film, though, you can catch some of the more recognizable monsters from Scoob’s history. If there is nothing else to be said about this film, that is something to mention, as the monsters are a major part of the history of Scooby-Doo, just as the rogues gallery is a big part of Batman.

Velma. In Scooby-Doo, I was a bit critical of the sexualization of Velma. Make no mistake, I still feel this way, but this time around, they at least do it to comic effect. Take for instance the scene where she is wearing a pleather suit. First off, no way in the world would you ever catch Velma in that get-up. Second, they play up the weird noises as she is awkwardly playing coy to Seth Green’s character, who has a crush on her. If Velma must be seen in this light, and if you google Velma, you will see that there is more than a market for it, then I am glad the film decided to go this direction, which keeps with the character, rather than randomly give her cleavage, as in the last film.

Story. There have been many detractors about the film’s story, calling it to simple, dumbed down, etc. Well, here’s the thing, as much as everyone loves Scooby-Doo, we must remember that this wasn’t made for adults, but rather for kids. Saying that the plot, which actually isn’t bad if you think about it, is simple is like saying Requiem for a Dream is depressing. That’s common sense, people! The target audience for this film, though, eats it up, as well as some others, and that is what really matters, not what some old curmudgeon critic who has become jaded toward all film that isn’t “art” has to say.

What didn’t I like?

Effects. I don’t want to criticize the special effects too much, as this was made at a time when they weren’t that great, and it is a kid’s film, so they are going to have a different look to them. That said, the CG in this film is not that great. Taking into account that, as I said this is a kid’s film, the monsters have a cartoon look to them, which is fine. That fits the tone of the film, but I feel as if the bringing them to life aspect should have made them scarier. Take for instance the Tar Monster. He has the generic cartoon look to him. Why couldn’t he have been more of a terrorizing creature now that he is alive? Maybe that’s just my opinion on how the effects could have been better, though.

Meta-attempt. Poking fun at one’s self is great…to a point. The last film was all about the flaws of the cartoon and while this one scales that back, we are still forced to watch as Daphne questions what she brings to the gang, Fred ponders if he’s a good leader, etc. Can we not just get a Scooby-Doo movie where the gang has fun solving mysteries and busting monsters, without all this negativity? Is that too much to ask?

Flashback. Let me go back to the monsters for a minute. To explain to the younger viewers and refresh/remind the older viewers who these monsters were, the film uses a series of flashback to get the point across. I am okay with that, except that I feel it would have made more sense to show these monsters in their animated for, rather than create some faux history. Yes, I know showing clips from the cartoon in a live-action movie makes no sense, but surely there is some way there can be a compromise, right? I just wasn’t feeling the live-action flashbacks, I’m sorry.

Scooby-Doo 2: Monster Unleashed is almost a cartoon, if you really thin about it, but no one took the time to draw it. Personally, I like this film. It is a fun escape from reality. That doesn’t mean it is good, though. There is wasted talent, such as Alicia Silverstone, who has one good scene, and Seth Green, recycled jokes from the first film, bad CG, and a feeling as if the gang was just doing this because it was in their contracts. Add all this up and you have the reason this film didn’t make as much as its predecessor and the third film was cancelled (though I’m sure it would have been better than the prequels and everything Scooby related that has come out since). Do I recommend this? It is with a heavy heart, that I must say no. This is this the kind of film you catch while you are randomly flipping through channels, not something you willingly watch. Just go back and watch the first film, or even better, watch the cartoons!

3 out of 5 stars