Archive for November, 2015

The Purge: Anarchy

Posted in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

It is March 21, 2023, hours before the start of the annual Purge. While television programs credit the Purge for record low unemployment and poverty levels, people across the country are preparing either to commit acts of violence or to barricade themselves indoors against the mayhem. Meanwhile, an anti-Purge resistance group intermittently hacks into television programs to broadcast their own messages that challenge the system, stating that the Purge does not cleanse aggression, but rather eliminates the poor from the population.

In futuristic Los Angeles, Eva Sanchez, a waitress, rushes home to her daughter Cali and her terminally ill father Papa Rico. As they prepare to lock down for the evening, Papa Rico slips out of the apartment and into a waiting limo. He leaves behind a note explaining that he sold himself to a wealthy family as a Purge offering in exchange for $100,000 which will be transferred to Eva’s and Cali’s bank accounts following the Purge.

Married couple Shane and Liz are driving to the house of Shane’s sister to wait out the Purge. They stop at a market but when they return to their car, a gang of hoodlums silently taunts them. They quickly drive away, but their car dies just as the Purge begins. They discover that the gang had tampered with the car. The gang reappears, forcing Shane and Liz to flee on foot. Elsewhere, off-duty police sergeant Leo Barnes tells his ex-wife that he must Purge, and goes out into the streets heavily armed.

Eva and Cali watch a truck pull up and disgorge heavily armed paramilitary men. A drunken maintenance man, who felt slighted by Eva in the past, bursts into their apartment intending to assault them both, when the paramilitary men enter, kill him, and abduct Eva and Cali. Leo drives by and, impressed by their attempts to fight back, kills all of the paramilitary men and wounds their leader, Big Daddy. Returning to Leo’s car, they find Shane and Liz hiding in the back seat. Leo tries to kick them out but must take them all when Big Daddy begins firing a Gatling gun at them, though the damage disables his car within a few blocks. When Eva promises that she can get him another car at the apartment of her co-worker, Tanya, Leo agrees to take them there on foot in exchange for Tanya’s car.

The five survive intense street fights against purgers, and they also notice many dead paramilitary men killed by the anti-Purge resistance. When the group reaches Tanya’s apartment, Eva reveals that there is no car. Tanya’s sister, Lorraine, suddenly shoots Tanya for sleeping with Lorraine’s husband. As the group flees, Big Daddy, who has been tracking them through traffic cameras, arrives with more armed guards. The groups evades Big Daddy, only to be captured by the gang that had been pursuing Liz and Shane.

The gang reveals that they were not trying to kill Shane, Eva, Cali, Liz and Leo because they are transporting them to a death chamber where bidders pay to kill them. They deliver the group to a theater where upper-class Purgers bid on the right to kill them. Sent to the chamber, the group is able to kill and drive off the Purgers, but the elite’s security forces swarm the chamber, killing Shane. Anti-Purge resistance fighters, led by Carmelo and Dwayne (who was known simply as “The Stranger” in the first film), storm the compound, shoot the security guards to death and rescue the group, revealing a significant armed revolt. Liz chooses to stay with the resistance fighters to get revenge on people responsible for Shane’s death. Leo, Eva, and Cali take a rich Purger’s car and leave.

Leo finally arrives at the house of Warren Grass, the man who killed Leo’s son while drunk driving a year earlier. Leo attacks Grass and his wife in their bedroom. Leaving the house, Leo is shot and wounded by Big Daddy. Big Daddy reveals that the New Founding Fathers believe that the Purge is not killing off enough of the lower class and have been secretly sending out death squads to increase the body count. He informs Leo of the unwritten rule: do not save people. As Big Daddy is about to kill Leo, Grass — whom Leo forgave and spared — steps out of his house and kills Big Daddy. Eva, Cali, Grass have a standoff with Big Daddy’s death squad when the siren sounds to announce that the 12-hour Purge has concluded. The death squad leaves, while Grass, Eva, and Cali rush Leo to the hospital as emergency services begin the clean up of the Annual Purge.

REVIEW:

What a difference a year makes! I remember watching The Purge and thinking to myself this could never happen. Fast forward to today and we have seen police shoot unarmed individuals, Donald Trump could be on his way to becoming president (which everyone with half a brain knows will not end well for anyone but himself), and everyday on Facebook I read about children or babies being killed by guns. Let’s face it, The Purge: Anarchy might not be that far away, people!

What is this about?

This dark sequel continues the nightmarish vision of the future offered up in The Purge: a chaotic world in which ordinary citizens do their best to survive during an annual 12-hour amnesty when any criminal act can be committed.

What did I like?

Cross the Punisher. There have been 3 movies about The Punisher, appearances in a couple of Spider-Man cartoons, and now we’re about to see him the new season of Daredevil. None of these have done him justice, but Frank Grillo’s character in this film feels like he could be that guy. The cold killing machine, battle hardened look, bad ass muscle car, and of course the coat! The guy would be perfect! As far as his role in tis film, it fits the dark, gritty tone that the filmmakers are trying to achieve. What more can you ask for?

Legacy. I was wondering if they were going to find a way to tie this back to the original and they did find a subtle way to do so. If you will recall the guy that was being pursued and beaten from the last film, you may recognize a familiar face that “…is here to help”. I found that to be a nice touch, even if it is nothing more than a cameo, though I would have liked to have learned more of what happened between films.

Spike X. Of course, there has to be a militant revolutionary who is everything government opposes. In this case, Michael K. Williams is playing a character who seems to be a mixture of 90s Spike Lee and Malcolm X. You would think this would be a sort of hilarious bit of comic relief, but in fact it is a brilliant portrayal. He gets his point across and reminds people how much of an underrated actor he truly is.

What didn’t I like?

Right time to be diverse? I must applaud this film for making the majority of the protagonists non-white. However, let’s take a look at perhaps why they are ethnic. The purge is meant to wipe out the poor. As sad as this statement it is, I must say it. Most of the poor are from non-white ethnic backgrounds. This applies even in the year 2023, apparently. Did the filmmakers need to stick with this “realism”? No, but they chose to. Is that something we should chide them for? No, but I think having the hero being a white guy could raise some eyebrows. Then again, maybe I’m reading too much into this. It is only a movie!

Infidelity shootout. One of the rules of the purge is that all crimes are allowed during the 12 hour window. Ok, that’s fine, but when you’re sheltering people from the purge and decide to turn your personal dirty laundry into a mass murder, that is a problem. Making it an even bigger issue is that this came out of nowhere and doesn’t really do anything to move the story forward. This was just a random killing.

Government sanctioned crime spree. I can’t help but take issue with the fact that this “holiday” is a government sanctioned event to control the population. Surely, there are better ways to do so than random days of crime. I mean, I could be sitting at home minding my business and some breaks in and steals my TV. Can’t report it because it is during the time when most crimes are permitted. WTF?!?

After all is said and done, I have to admit that The Purge: Anarchy worked better than its predecessor. I say that because while the first one focused on a well-off family, this one was more about the normal, blue-collar people. It was just more relatable, I suppose. That isn’t to say this film is not without its faults, but it was at least entertaining. Do I recommend it? Yes, do a double feature with the first film and then watch one of the news stations. You’ll really feel the impact!

4 out of 5 stars

Advertisements

Home

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On the run from their enemy, the planet-destroying Gorg, the Boov find Earth a suitable place to call “home”. Led by Captain Smek (Steve Martin), they commence their “friendly” invasion of the planet, relocating the humans, whom the Boov deem as simple and backwards, to other parts of the planet while the Boov inhabit their homes in a quick and bloodless conquest. One of the Boov, named Oh (Jim Parsons), is a more excited, freethinking member of the species, who decides to invite the Boov to his apartment for a housewarming party, despite the race’s antipathy towards him. Not far from Oh is a preteen girl named Tip (Rihanna), who drives away through her home city to find her mother Lucy (Jennifer Lopez) after being separated from her during the invasion, leaving her with only her calico cat Pig and fueling her hatred for the Boov.

Oh runs into the street to meet up with a Boov cop named Kyle (Matt Jones), who, like the rest of the Boov, refuse to befriend him. Oh invites him to the party and decides to send a mass invite to every Boov on Earth. However, the “send all” button he pressed actually sends the invite to absolutely every alien race in the entire galaxy including the Gorg. Everyone, aggravated with Oh for revealing their location to the enemy, starts chasing him down. Oh runs into a convenience store to hide just as Tip and Pig enter the same store to grab supplies. They come across each other, and after Tip’s car fails to start, Oh transforms it into a fantastical, hovering craft that literally runs on slushies and names it Slushious. Oh hitches a ride with Tip when he promises to help her find Lucy, but unfortunately, they must to go to the Boov Command Center in Paris and locate her from there.

After reaching the Boov Command Center, which is in the now-floating Eiffel Tower, Oh manages to get into his account, and deletes the message just seconds before it reaches the Gorg. He then plugs in Tip’s brain to help her find Lucy. They eventually trace her location to Australia, where she is also looking for her daughter. The other Boov then find the two and try to “erase” Oh, while Tip grabs the gravity manipulation system and flips it over, causing the whole Tower to tilt upside down.

As Oh and Tip head off to Australia, they see other Boov riding by them in fear, and realize that a Gorg ship is close behind them. Tip and Oh manage to knock it down, but in the process a chunk of it hits them and they lose their slushie fuel. They come across the fallen Gorg ship and find out that it is actually a drone. Oh recovers a special chip and uses it to get their car up and running.

Tip and Oh make it to Australia and see the Boov evacuating to their mothership. When they land the car, Tip starts to run for her mother, but Oh insists on evacuating with the other Boov instead. Oh declares that Lucy is in one of the ships, but Tip knows he’s lying. Tip thought that Oh would help find Lucy, but hurt her feelings for lying to her. Tip gets angry at him for trying to break the promise, and she declares that they were never friends. Heartbroken, Oh returns to the ship. The Gorg mothership comes close to the Boov ship, but Oh pulls out the Gorg chip and uses it to fly the ship further away from the Gorg. The Boov become astonished at Oh’s plan. Smek becomes upset and reminds everyone that he is the captain. Kyle grabs Smek’s “shusher” (a scepter with a rock on top of it) and gives it to Oh, declaring him the new captain.

Tip rushes aimlessly around the city to find Lucy, but no one can help her. Oh returns to her side and helps her track down Lucy. The mother and daughter finally reunite and thank Oh. The Gorg mothership descends upon the planet, and Oh realizes that they want the rock on the shusher, since Smek had previously stolen it from them. Oh runs to the ship to try and get its attention, locking Tip and Lucy in the car for safety. Tip breaks out of the car and shines a light in the Gorg Commander’s face to bring his attention to Oh as he holds the rock up. The Gorg Commander (Brian Stepanek) halts the ship as it crunches down on the ground, with Oh in its path. Tip rushes to rescue him, but Oh gets seemingly crushed beneath the machine. It backs up and Oh is revealed to be unharmed. The Gorg Commander emerges from his armor to show that he is actually a harmless starfish-like creature. Oh returns the rock to him, which turns out to contain millions of developing Gorg larvae; the next generation of Gorg, revealing that this Gorg is the last of his kind. He thanks Oh and eventually departs.

Two weeks later, the humans have returned to their original homes, and Oh finally gets to have his party at his apartment, with humans and Boov in attendance. Tip plays her music and gets the rest of the Boov to experience dancing for the first time, while other Boov, including a reformed Smek, party on the moon, and thousands of ships from other planets, including the Gorg, head to Earth for Oh’s party upon receiving his invite.

REVIEW:

We’ve been subject to lots of cute animals and strong female protagonists as of late. When was the last time we saw an alien invasion flick? Home appears to fill that void, but the question is would this have worked better with as an animals take over the humans story?

What is this about?

An outcast alien named Oh befriends a little human girl and helps her find her mother while his hive-minded people invade the planet and take over.

What did I like?

Natural Bang. Jim Parsons has made quite the name for himself playing Sheldon Cooper every week on The Big Bang Theory. He’s been that character so long and does it so well, people have wondered if he will be typecast going forward. I don’t know if he will, but this character of Oh is a bit of a departure for him. Unlike Sheldon, he embraces people (even if they don’t want to embrace him back) and doesn’t have the mind of a brilliant physicist. I was impressed with how well Parsons just seemed to settle into this character. The man is a natural with his comic timing and made a character, who could have been annoying, relatable.

Chemistry. If I were to tell you Jim Parsons and Rihanna had great chemistry together, what would you think? I don’t exactly picture them hanging out or anything, so it comes as a surprise that they gelled so well. Rihanna plays a little human girl who managed to escape the Boov takeover. She comes across the fugitive Oh and they strike up a friendship as they try to escape and find her mother. I couldn’t help but smile at the growing camaraderie between them.

Pretty colors. An alien trait all the Boov posses is they change colors as their moods change. I can just imagine how little kids were eating this up, especially since I was entertained by the trip through the color spectrum. Whoever decided to come up with that little detail, which I would wager was said just as a side though, had a great idea!

What didn’t I like?

Trailer park. I have an issue with the trailer for this film. It gave away almost all of the good parts! Like more and more trailers these days, the funnies, most exciting, etc. parts were given away in the trailer and when one actually watches the picture, you realize you’ve watched it all and are bored the rest of the time. Now, it wasn’t that extreme this time around, but there wasn’t anything left to “surprise” me with, following what I saw in the trailer. It just shouldn’t be that way!

Inconsistent. As a kid’s film, I expect a certain tone to be maintained, and for the most part it was. That is until we get to the last act. What had been a fun, road trip adventure, suddenly becomes a serious, tear-jerker, and then it just goes off the rails with about 5-10 minutes of film that seemed added on. Understanding that it tied everything up, I still don’t think it was necessary. As far as the tone goes, this film works best when it is being a comedy, and is should stay that way.

Music excuse. Animated movies these seem to make any excuse to insert a dance scene if they can. This is one of the few that actually is creative with it, mostly because of the aliens. However, I am still not a fan of using these songs just to tie in some pop culture, as that seems to be the bigger reason for using them. Also, with Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez in the cast, do we have to have them on the soundtrack? Both ladies are talented, don’t get me wrong, but can’t they just act for once, and not sing?

So, what is my final verdict on Home? It is a very entertaining picture. The characters are well-thought out and designed, the story is something a bit different, and the bright colors will keep kids interested, even if they don’t know what is going on. Do I recommend it? Yes, very much so! It isn’t a must-see, but it is a worth-see.

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 11/26

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on November 26, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Happy Thanksgivinf to everyone! I hope you and yours have been enjoying each others company and a good feast.

There aren’t too many Thanksgiving movies, but I dug this one out for your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy the trailer for Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

The Cotton Club

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A musician named Dixie Dwyer begins working with mobsters to advance his career but falls in love with the girlfriend of gangland kingpin Dutch Schultz.

A dancer from Dixie’s neighborhood, Sandman Williams, is hired with his brother by the Cotton Club, a jazz club where most of the performers are black and the customers white. Owney Madden, a mobster, owns the club and runs it with his right-hand man, Frenchy.

Dixie becomes a Hollywood film star, thanks to the help of Madden and the mob but angering Schultz. He also continues to see Schultz’s moll, Vera Cicero, whose new nightclub has been financed by the jealous gangster.

In the meantime, Dixie’s ambitious younger brother Vincent becomes a gangster in Schultz’s mob and eventually a public enemy, holding Frenchy as a hostage.

Sandman alienates his brother Clay at the Cotton Club by agreeing to perform a solo number there. While the club’s management interferes with Sandman’s romantic interest in Lila, a singer, its cruel treatment of the performers leads to an intervention by Harlem criminal “Bumpy” Rhodes on their behalf.

Dutch Schultz is violently dealt with by Madden’s men while Dixie and Sandman perform on the Cotton Club’s stage.

REVIEW:

As a jazz lover an aficionado, I feel it is long overdue for me to check one of the more storied films associated with the genre, The Cotton Club. The titular club was a big to do back in the heyday of jazz but, as you can imagine, there were race issues. I’m wondering what route this film will take to cover that and if the music will be done justice, or just serve as white noise, no pun intended.

What is this about?

Richard Gere plays his own cornet solos in Francis Ford Coppola’s story of a jazz musician at the titular 1930s legendary nightclub. When Dixie Dwyer (Gere) saves the life of mobster Dutch Schultz (James Remar), he finds he must fight for his own life when he falls for the psychotic gangster’s moll.

What did I like?

Trumpet Gere. Antonio Banderas, Denzel Washington, Tara Fitzgerald, etc. have all portrayed trumpet players on the big screen. Richard Gere is also a part of that club, but the difference with him is that he actually played his own parts, rather than having someone else do it off screen. I seem to recall reading that he played trumpet in his high school band, so perhaps it was just a matter of picking it back up and then learning some jazz licks. As a trumpet player myself, I applaud his work and Gere has earned some major respect from me.

Taps. Many of the old musicals I watch have extended tap scenes, be they from Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, or someone else. Keeping the tradition alive is one of the greatest tap dancers of our time, Gregory Hines. Seeing this guy tap is magical. Of course, we have a scene with him dancing on stage, as other things are happening in the film. Why do I bring that up? It is the same kind of thing Gere does in Chicago.

Mob mentality. The 20s aren’t exactly my favorite era, but I do love mobsters. The mob part of the plot takes over from the history of the Cotton Club, but I actually didn’t mind, partially because they used real mobsters such as Dutch Schultz and Lucky Luciano. I also must mention that these gangsters, specifically Schultz are psychotically violent. Boardwalk Empire has nothing on them!

What didn’t I like?

Cowboy Curtis. This is during the strange period of time where Laurence Fishburne was going by Larry. As a matter of fact, this was before he was cast as Cowboy Curtis on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. That isn’t why I bring it up, though. Fishburne has become a highly respected actor these days, but listening to him read his lines and you wouldn’t be able to tell. He just hadn’t become an actor, as they say, just yet.

Music, maestro, please. As I mentioned in my opening, the Cotton Club was a place known for some of the hottest jazz in Harlem. This film did manage to play some of the jazz, every chance it got, and for that I can’t fault it. What I do have an issue with is how they didn’t bring in any big names. Sure, there was a guy playing Cab Calloway, but what about Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Webb, etc.?

Perchance to dream? The ending of this picture has me a little perplexed. It seems as if it is a dream sequence, and I think someone even goes so far as to say that it is, but there just isn’t that dream like state. To me, if felt as if it were meant to be a dream sequence, but didn’t turn out that way. The final result is a conundrum for the audience.

What did I ultimately think of The Cotton Club? I have to say that it isn’t what I was expecting. I mean, I went in this expecting something of a biopic on the historic jazz club, but instead I get a gangster drama. As a drama, it isn’t half bad, mind you, just not what I signed up for. Still, I can say that this wasn’t a waste of my time, although I don’t think I will be rushing to watch it again. Do I recommend it? This one is hard to say, but I think I would, only because this is one of those films that works best with multiple viewings. Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Crocodile Dundee

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on November 24, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Sue Charlton is a feature writer for Newsday (which her father owns) and is dating her editor, Richard Mason. She travels to Walkabout Creek, a small hamlet in the Northern Territory of Australia, to meet Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee, a bushman reported to have lost half a leg to a Saltwater Crocodile. On arrival in Walkabout Creek (by helicopter due to its remote location), she cannot locate Dundee, but she is entertained at the local pub by Dundee’s business partner Walter “Wally” Reilly, who does his best to explain the town and some of its inhabitants, including the towering hulk Donk, who wins money by placing a glass of beer on his head and challenging people to try and spill the beer by punching him in the stomach. When Dundee arrives that night, Sue finds his leg is not missing, but he has a large scar which he refers to as a “love bite”. While Sue dances with Dundee, a group of city kangaroo shooters make fun of Dundee’s status as a crocodile hunter, causing him to knock the leader out with one punch. Feeling lucky, he then challenges Donk and makes him spill the entire glass by kissing him on the lips and startling him into dropping the tankard.

At first, Sue finds Dundee less “legendary” than she had been led to believe, being unimpressed by his pleasant-mannered but uncouth behaviour and clumsy advances towards her; however, she is later amazed, when in the Outback, she witnesses “Mick” (as Dundee is called) subduing a Wild Asian Water Buffalo, taking part in an Aboriginal tribal dance ceremony, killing a snake with his bare hands, and scaring away the kangaroo shooters from the pub from their destructive sport of shooting kangaroos. Mick shoots at their truck using a dead kangaroo as cover, making them think the kangaroo is shooting at them, which in their drunken state causes them to flee. The next morning, offended by Mick’s assertion that as a “sheila” (Aussie slang for a female) she is incapable of surviving the Outback alone, Sue goes out alone to prove him wrong but takes his rifle with her at his request. Mick follows her to make sure she is OK, but when she stops at a billabong to refill her canteen, she is attacked by a crocodile and is rescued by Mick. Overcome with gratitude, Sue finds herself becoming attracted to him.

Sue invites Mick to return with her to New York City on the pretext of continuing the feature story. At first Wally scoffs at her suggestion, but he changes his mind when she tells him the newspaper would cover all expenses. Once in New York, Mick is perplexed by local behaviour and customs but overcomes problematic situations including two encounters with a pimp and two attempted robberies. After this Sue realizes her true feelings for him, and they kiss.

At a society dinner at her father’s home in honour of Sue’s safe return and of Mick’s visit, Richard proposes marriage to Sue, and in a haze of confused emotions, she initially accepts in spite of Richard having recently revealed his self-centered and insensitive “true colours” during a period of intoxication. Mick, disheartened at Sue’s engagement, decides to go ‘walkabout’ around the USA, but Sue has a change of heart and, deciding not to marry Richard, follows Mick to a subway station. There, she cannot reach him through the crowd on the platform, but has members of the crowd relay her message to him, whereupon he climbs up to the rafters and walks to Sue on the heads and raised hands of the onlookers and embraces her.

REVIEW:

Growing up, I used to play a game on the original Nintendo called Bayou Billy. It didn’t strike me until recently that it may have been influenced by Crocodile Dundee. Now, does that mean either is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Of course not, but I’m on a nostalgia kick today and it has been forever and day since I last saw this flick. Let’s see how it has held up over time.

What is this about?

When a New York reporter (Linda Kozlowski) plucks crocodile hunter Dundee (Paul Hogan) from the Australian Outback for a visit to the Big Apple, it’s a clash of cultures and a recipe for good-natured comedy as naïve Dundee negotiates the concrete jungle. Dundee proves that his instincts are quite useful in the city and adeptly handles everything from wily muggers to high-society snoots without breaking a sweat.

What did I like?

Have fun with it. So often these days we see actors take a role and it feels as if it was done just for a paycheck. With Paul Hogan, that isn’t the case. He is truly having fun with this character and owning every aspect of him. I think this is even his creation, but don’t quote me. Seeing Hogan’s strut around in his crocodile skin gear, flashing that smile just makes you wish for more guys like this these  days, not the brooding superheroes (who don’t want to be heroes, btw) that plague our screens.

New York. New York is one of those cities that is able to be as much a character on film as the actors. The people, the colorful language that New Yorkers are known for, traffic, and of course the landmarks (I am always moved to watch a film pre-9/11 and see the Twin Towers). If you can’t appreciate how this plays into the story, I seriously wonder about you. It is magnified because this is a guy from another country and doesn’t know our customs, much like Eddie Murphy’s character, to a lesser extent, was in Coming to America.

Me Tarzan, You Jane. In this time of feminazis, I am so glad to go back to a time and watch a girl be a damsel in distress. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for girl power to an extent, but I am sick of hearing about it, sick of everything having to be female-led now (don’t get me started on this new Ghostbusters), etc. Here’s a note, ladies, sometimes guys want to be the hero and “save you”, as it were. This is what happens between Dundee and the reporter, Sue. While in the Outback, he is saving her from everything in a manner akin to, as she says, “Me Tarzan, You Jane!” This eventually leads to her falling for him, which is a bonus for a guy who lives alone in the middle on nowhere, Australia.

What didn’t I like?

Coke is it. About halfway through the film, Crocodile Dundee and Sue attend some sort of high society party. While there, they encounter a guy snorting coke. Dundee gives him a new way to “blow his nose”, which is worth a chuckle, but the thing to point out is this is the one and only mention of cocaine in this entire flick. It seems rather out of place. Was it placed in there for the joke? Was it put there as a anti-drug statement? Either way, surely this could have been done more subtly, right?

Rom-com ending. Before we get to the film’s end, of course we must endure a scene where the girl chases the guy and catches up to him in a crowded terminal where she has to yell to him in hopes he changes his mind. This kind of thing works in romantic comedies, but *NEWSFLASH* that isn’t what this is. Last I checked, this was just a regular comedy. The rom-com stuff works, but I feel it was out of place in this film. Think about it this way. What if in You’ve Got Mail, Tom Hanks had to fight an army of ninjas to get to Meg Ryan. It would’ve been cool, but out of place.

Coming to America. Given how the story unfolds, I understand why the setting shifted from Australia to America, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Why couldn’t things have stayed in Australia? I’m sure Dundee could have antagonized someone out there in Outback who would have just been waiting for the right moment to strike. Maybe that “sort of” wife he had came back. These are just a couple of ideas that could have kept them in Australia, especially knowing that the sequel is set in New York, from what I recall.

I remember checking Crocodile Dundee out from the local video store when I was a young ‘un. My reaction to it back then was that I loved it. Fast forward ___yrs and my reaction is that I love it, but I see its flaws. I also notice that Paul Hogan looks like walking leather! For me, this is a film that has a few belly laughs and a high nostalgia factor. Do I recommend it? Yes, it is definitely worth a viewing or 10!

4 out of 5 stars

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay pt. II

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) recovers after nearly being murdered by Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), who had been “hijacked” by the Capitol. After rebel forces destroy the Capitol’s weapons supply in District 2, with a plan developed by Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) and Beetee Latier (Jeffrey Wright), Katniss shoots a propaganda film about the influx of Capitol refugees arriving in District 13, who are mistreated and brutalized by the rebels. When she attempts to intervene in the situation, a fight breaks out, during which Katniss is shot.

During recovery, Katniss spirals into depression. She approaches President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and volunteers to kill President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland), but Coin declines in favor of preserving Katniss as the symbol of their revolution. During the wedding of Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) and Annie Cresta (Stef Dawson), Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) tells Katniss of an aircraft leaving for District 2, where Commander Paylor (Patina Miller) is planning an all-out assault on the Capitol. Sneaking aboard, Katniss is assigned to Squad 451, the “Star Squad”, led by Boggs (Mahershala Ali), but later finds out that their mission is to trail behind the invasion and be the onscreen face of the rebellion. They use a holographic map called a Holo to evade “pods” (booby traps) created by Gamemakers which line the streets of the Capitol. Peeta is unexpectedly assigned to the team by Coin despite still being vulnerable to the Capitol’s conditioning, and Boggs warns Katniss to be careful because she is seen by Coin as a threat to her power.

As they venture into the Capitol, they are ambushed by a hidden pod, and Boggs is fatally injured, transferring command of the unit to Katniss before dying. Another pod is triggered, which releases an avalanche of black ooze. Peeta’s hijacking drives him to attack Katniss again, during which he pushes Mitchell (Joe Chrest) into the ooze but is restrained long enough for the squad to evade the avalanche and escape into a building. With Boggs dead and command passed down to her, Katniss lies and tells her squad that she is under orders from Coin to kill Snow. The Peacekeepers eventually find their hideout, however the squad is able to escape before they arrive. Peacekeepers bomb their hideout, killing the Leeg twins (Misty and Kim Ormiston). The Capitol broadcasts a message with Snow announcing the supposed deaths of Squad 451 and of Peeta attacking Katniss, but Coin then hijacks the signal, and says that everyone should praise the sacrifice.

Nearing Snow’s mansion, the team decides to venture into the Capitol’s sewers in order to avoid the pods, but Snow, realizing the Squad is still alive, ambushes them with monstrous reptilian creatures called mutts created by the Capitol. Commander Jackson (Michelle Forbes), Castor (Wes Chatham), and Homes (Omid Abtahi) are killed. After the fight that follows, a mutt pulls Finnick down as he is escaping, forcing Katniss to use the self-destruct mechanism on the Holo to end his suffering, destroying what was left of the mutts in the process. They are chased by Peacekeepers shortly after reaching the surface, during which a pod kills another squad member, Messalla (Evan Ross). The survivors eventually escape and take refuge in a shop, where a former Hunger Games stylist, Tigris (Eugenie Bondurant), hides them in her basement. While they all mourn the loss of the rest of their squad, Katniss confesses that she lied about her orders to kill Snow, and as a result of her lie, Finnick and the rest of the squad are dead. The squad reveal that they knew this all along, but went with her because they trusted her. Peeta comforts Katniss, saying that if she kills Snow, she will avenge the deaths of everyone who has died because of him. That night, Gale and Peeta discuss their love triangle, with Gale stating he thinks Peeta has won her over, but Peeta thinks that Gale has. Gale eventually remarks that deciding which one she can’t live without is Katniss’s problem, and not theirs.

Snow announces that the rebels have invaded the Capitol and welcomes refugees into his mansion, providing them with food and shelter. With the traps deactivated, Katniss and Gale pose as refugees to gain access to Snow. Their covers are nearly blown when the rebels arrive and attack the Peacekeepers, killing many Capitol civilians. In the ensuing chaos, Katniss marches towards Snow’s mansion and finds Peacekeepers taking Capitol children to provide Snow with a human shield. A Capitol hovercraft flies by and drop silver parachutes similar to the ones used in the Hunger Games into the crowd of children surrounding the mansion, which explode. Upon the explosion, a team of rebel medics attempt to help the injured, among whom is Katniss’ sister, Prim (Willow Shields). Katniss heads towards her, but a second round of bombs go off, killing Prim and knocking Katniss unconscious.

Upon recovering, Katniss learns that the Capitol has been conquered by the rebels, and that Snow has been captured. Katniss confronts Snow, who claims that Coin masterminded the bombings in order to turn his supporters against him. When Katniss accuses him of lying, he reminds her of their promise to always be truthful to each other. Suspicious, Katniss realises that the bombs resembled a trap Gale had been working on earlier. When Gale confesses that it may have been his and apologizes, she orders him out of the room. Later, Katniss attends a meeting with Coin (who has appointed herself interim President of Panem) and the remaining Victors to discuss having one final edition of the Hunger Games with the children of the Capitol as retribution for the previous games. Realizing that Snow was right and that Coin has “played them both for fools”, Katniss votes in favor of the motion “for Prim,” which gains Coin’s trust. She is awarded the opportunity to execute Snow.

At the execution, which is being held before the whole of Panem, Katniss faces Snow once again. As she readies her bow, the two make eye contact, and Snow gives her one last smile. Katniss silently agrees, and instead shoots the arrow into Coin’s heart, killing her. While a laughing Snow is finally lynched and killed by an angry mob, Katniss attempts to commit suicide by consuming a nightlock pill, given to them earlier in case of enemy capture, but Peeta stops her attempt. Katniss is pardoned for her crime, being deemed mentally unwell, and through a letter delivered by Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) advises Katniss to return home to District 12 until things settle down.

Katniss returns to her home in the ruins of District 12 to recover from her traumatic ordeal, where she is eventually joined by Peeta, who has recovered his memories of love for Katniss. Commander Paylor is elected the new President of Panem, and Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch bond over their shared trauma. Katniss and Peeta slowly grow back together, and Katniss admits her love for him. Years later, Katniss and Peeta are shown to have two children. Katniss reminisces about her recurring nightmares she still suffers from and explains she plays “a game” where she lists all the good things she has seen someone do. She notes that while the game has grown tedious over the years, “there are much worse games to play.”

REVIEW:

Well, the day studios have feared. Another franchise has come to an end, despite their desperate attempts to drag it out. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part II is surely all the action we didn’t get in its predecessor, which was more talking and planning than anything else, right? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

What did I like?

Horror games. A few years ago vampires were everywhere, or at least what people were calling vampires. Now we have zombies all over the place, and these are true, mindless, killing machine zombies. Even this movie is not immune to the influence of zombie culture, as the mutts now look like zombies and/or creatures from Silent Hill. This is a big change for them since they were dog-type creatures in The Hunger Games. The design isn’t really what I liked, as mcuch as how this whole underground segment played out like a horror movie. I think I even saw some people jump when the mutts showed up out of nowhere. Can we say jump scare?

Pods. All over the Capitol, these death traps called pods, have been set up. I’m wondering what kind of twisted minds came up with these things. Tar traps that flood an arena type area, flame throwers on a motion sensor, floors that crumble as you walk on them and then reveal rolling spikes, lights that instantly disintegrate what they touch, etc., these are not the kind of things a normal person thinks up. Bringing the traps to t life from the book it impressive to me as they looked really deadly on screen and made the audience question whether our band of heroes could ultimately escape.

Aquaman. He’s not in this for very long, but Finnick Odair is still mastering the trident and water skills. Who else does that? Hmmm…oh yeah, Aquaman! I know that they have cast that Aquaman, but Sam Claflin is more of what Aquaman really is. Maybe someone casting over there at DC movies needs to read a comic book once in a while! Anyway, Finnick is a hero through and through, still protecting Katniss and fighting with the knowledge his new wife is waiting for him to come home.

What didn’t I like?

Peaked too soon. This is a franchise that has been superior from the beginning. However, this being the last film, I didn’t get that feeling that everything ended with a we will always remember these characters. Perhaps that should have taken a cue from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part II (in more ways than just splitting the last book), and show us what happened to all the characters, not just Katniss and Peeta. Yes, they do give us an epilogue, but it is more of a monologue with an older version of our heroes. Can it me that this film hit its peak in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire? One can make that argument, because these two Mockingjay pictures have not felt like a fitting end that those of us fans invested since the beginning deserve.

Avox. Here we are in the final film of this series and they bring out a term from the books, avox. Know what that is? Chances are, if you haven’t read the books, you don’t have a clue, as these films never told us, and yet they gloss over it so nonchalantly, you’d think it was something as well-defined as the games themselves. An avox is a person being punished for rebelling against the Capitol. As such, they have their tongues cut out and cannot speak. With Pollux being such a somewhat major character, one would think this would have been explained somehow!

Little support. The focus of the film is obviously on Katniss, Peeta, and the usual main characters, which is fine, but what about the rest of the cast? Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch, who has been a bright spot of comedic relief in these dark times might as well have been nonexistent. Jena Malone’s character deserved more screentime, and perhaps another elevator strip scene HA! I feel as if her character could have been fleshed out more, but that didn’t happen. If I recall, there was some real time for Prim, which we say in the last film, but all we got in this one was a quick glance before an explosion. WTF?!? She is the whole reason for this whole mess with Katniss, if you think about it. Give her and Katniss at least one scene of sisterly bonding! These are just a few examples of how little the filmmakers felt the supporting characters should support.

Well, that ends The Hunger Games franchise. What will take up the mantle going forward? I would say Divergent, but that’s about to end, too. I’m sure something will pop up. In the meantime, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, pt. II left me with a bit of disappointment. It isn’t that it was a bad film, but rather there is no excitement. Other than a couple of action scenes, this isn’t much different from its predecessor in term of excessive dialogue. Do I recommend it? Yeah, again, it isn’t a bad picture, just not what I feel the final film should be. Give it a shot, though.

4 out of 5 stars

Captain EO

Posted in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , on November 22, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film tells the story of Captain EO (Michael Jackson) and the ragtag crew of his spaceship on a mission to deliver a gift to “The Supreme Leader” (Anjelica Huston), who lives on a world of rotting, twisted metal and steaming vents. Captain EO’s alien crew consists of his small flying sidekick Fuzzball, the double-headed navigator and pilot Idey (Debbie Lee Carrington) and Ody (Cindy Sorenson), robotic security officer Major Domo (Gary Depew), a small robot, Minor Domo (who fits like a module into Major Domo), and the clumsy elephant-like shipmate Hooter (Tony Cox) who always manages to upset the crew’s missions. Dick Shawn plays Captain EO’s boss, Commander Bog.

Upon arriving on the planet, the crew is captured by the henchmen of the Supreme Leader, and brought before her. She sentences the crew to be turned into trash cans, and Captain EO to 100 years of torture in her deepest dungeon. Before being sent away, Captain EO tells the Supreme Leader that he sees the beauty hidden within her, and that he brings her the key to unlock it: his song, “We Are Here to Change the World”.

The two robot members of the crew transform into musical instruments, and the crew members begin to play the various instruments. As Hooter runs toward his instrument, he trips over EO’s cape and breaks it, stopping the music. The spell broken, the Supreme Leader orders her guards to capture Captain EO and his crew.

Hooter manages to repair his instrument and sends out a blast of music, providing EO with the power to throw off the guards. He uses his power to transform the dark hulking guards into agile dancers who fall into step behind him for a dance number. As EO presses forward toward the Supreme Leader, she unleashes her Whip Warriors, two cybernetic defenders each with a whip and shield that can deflect EO’s power.

The others all run away, leaving Captain EO to fight the Whip Warriors alone. EO is trapped by a closing gate and is preparing for a last stand as both the whip warriors draw their whips back for a final blow. Fuzzball drops his instrument and speedily flies over to tie the two whips together, causing the Whip Warriors to be thrown off balance giving EO an opportunity to transform them as well. With no further obstacles, EO uses his power to transform the remaining four henchmen (not yet unleashed) and they, the transformed whip warriors and the other dancers, press forward in dance before EO transforms the Supreme Leader into a beautiful woman, her lair into a peaceful Greek temple, and the planet into a verdant paradise.

A celebration breaks out to “Another Part of Me”, as Captain EO and his crew triumphantly exit and fly off into space.

REVIEW:

I was just not meant to see Captain EO in theaters. The three times I’ve been there, I have missed out on it. Now it seems as if Disney will be shelving this 17 minute 3D Michael Jackson opus and I will never see it with the full experience of the interactive theater. Oh well, at least there is Youtube!

What is this about?
Captain Eo and his rugged crew set out on a mission to deliver a special gift to a wicked queen who lives on a dark, desolate world. Getting there is half the fun, especially when the good captain starts boogying and the special effects start flying.

What did I like?

Michael Prime. Michael Jackson is one of the greatest performers of all time. When it comes to his acting…well, let’s just say there is a reason he’s not in more movies. That aside, MJ was cast in this for his performance ability. In this short Disney attraction piece, we see everything that made him a star. The smile, the dancing, the singing, charisma and charm, it is all there…including the infamous moonwalk!

80s effects. As a child of the 80s, I am of course going to be a little biased towards the cheesy effects of the day. I’ll also be the first to admit that in comparison to today, these aren’t the greatest, and yet they look far more realistic than today’s CG. I can only imagine how much more impressive they happened to look on the big screen with 3D glasses. Fuzzy creatures, alien tentacle woman hanging from the ceiling, android guards, all vintage 80s look. Can we go back to this period of time, please?

What didn’t I like?

Another ripoff? It cannot be ignored the influence that Star Wars had on many of the sci-fi movies of the day…and it is still leaving its mark today. However, I think this is a downfall for this film. Why? Well, first off, there are the cuddly creatures. If this wasn’t a Disney production, they would be reviled, much as many people do with the Ewoks! Michael’s powers are in the spirit of a jedi knight. No, they aren’t the same, but he is a meek, as far as we can tell, guy who suddenly unleashes tremendous powers. There are other examples, but I don’t want this to take all night. Just be aware that the source material

Song. Quickly, off the top of your head, what is the most catchy Michael Jackson song? For me, I have to go with “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough”, but there are countless others to choose from. When it comes to the song in the film, though, it isn’t that memorable. I don’t know if that was done on purpose, but I can’t even hum you the melody right now to “We Are Here to Change the World”, and I just finished listening to it. It isn’t a bad song, just not the kind of quality we expect from MJ, especially at this point in his career, when he was releasing the likes of  “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”, “Thriller”, etc. On the plus side, we do get “Another Part of Me” as a pallet cleanser as the credits roll.

Disney had a nice little film that they were able to use as an attraction in their parks with Captain EO. There isn’t much to say about this short film. It has good and bad things, so I’m just going to come out and say that I do recommend it. If you can go to a Disney park and see it before they take it away, all the better. If not, until (and if) they release this for home release, you just have to catch it on youtube. Watch and enjoy!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars