Archive for April, 2016

Trailer Thursday 4/28

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags , on April 28, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

As we come to the conclusion of jazz month, I thought it would be a good time to share a couple of modern jazz trailers.

First is the lesser known of the two, Born to Be Blue, based on the life of cool jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. Check it out!

Second, is a similar film, but this one is based on the legend of jazz legend Miles Davis and is a passion project for actor and first time director, Don Cheadle. Check out the trailer for Miles Ahead.

St. Louis Blues

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Will Handy grows up in Memphis with his preacher father and his Aunt Hagar. His father intends for him to use his musical gifts only in church, but he can’t stay away from the music of the streets and workers. After he writes a theme song for a local politician, Gogo, a speakeasy singer, convinces Will to be her accompanist. Will is estranged from his father for many years while he writes and publishes many blues songs. At last the family is reunited when Gogo brings them to New York to see Will’s music played by a symphony orchestra.

What people are saying:

“Black casted movies are a rarity in and of themselves, but one with such mega stars of old was so very uplifting! The movie was made by blacks for blacks and had a plot, story-line and theme that blacks can indeed relate to with pride dignity and a sense of self-esteem. The movie is one that you can watch over and over again and get something more out of it each and every time. It deals with human weaknesses and pitfalls such as are common to man; but finishes on a high note of strength and victory because of faith in and love for God and perseverance. ”

“I found the father-son estrangement contrived along conventional religion vs the devil lines, but moving nonetheless. I had forgotten what a good piano player Nat Cole was. Ertha Kitt is the heart of the film. She acts as she sings — biting, precise, and all-knowing. I think the great Pearl Bailey is wasted here — wonderful as the Aunt, but we only hear her singing a snippet of the title song. Cab Calloway was also much more talented than permitted to be here. I saw him as “Sportin’ Live” in the post-WW II revival of “Porgy and Bess.” We get a too brief taste of the great clarinet player, Barney Bigard, and an anachronistic appearance by Ella Fitzgerald singing “Beale St. Blues.” The film provides a good definition of the blues as an authentic American musical and poetic form. This one, almost 50 years old now, has aged well. It makes one regret that more African-American based and performed films were not made when these great stars were available.”

“In the hands of a bolder director, this could be a better-remembered film. It was Allen Reisner’s second film, and he’d only do one more in a career that was dominated by television work. There are a few nicely expressive shots (W.C. and his father regarding each other through the lattice of the organ’s music stand) but the material often feels like it could soar higher. And it feels like someone should have tried to coax a better performance out of Cole. Still, the movie is worth checking out, especially for the music and for Eartha Kitt”

“After several years of only seeing the last hour of this movie, I finally watched the whole thing on Netflix Streaming. Nat King Cole plays the famous composer W.C. Handy and he’s not bad. I especially was touched when his character’s blindness caused him to bump into things. And non-musicians Juano Hernandez as his father Reverend Charles Handy and Ruby Dee as girlfriend Elizabeth, respectively, certainly hold their own when sharing scenes with singers Pearl Bailey and Eartha Kitt. Cab Calloway also effectively conveys his role as a hustling businessman though unlike the others, he doesn’t do any singing which is too bad. The actual story is probably more colorful than what was presented here but it wasn’t bad for what it was. And how enjoyable to see not only Ms. Bailey and Kitt do their thing but also Ella Fitzgerald and Mahalia Jackson, too! And of course, Nat King Cole looks cool every time he’s at the piano warbling Handy’s tunes. It was also interesting to see Billy Preston as a young boy at the beginning as the child Handy and such musicians like Barney Bigard, Teddy Buckner, George “Red” Callender, Lee Young, and George Washington sitting in the band. Really, all I’ll say now is St. Louis Blues is worth seeing for the number of musical icons in one film that are presented here. ”

“I really enjoyed this movie. And it was really nice seeing my all-time favorite singer, Mahalia Jackson, use her acting skills. Also, Pearl Bailey was very funny in this film- the protective aunt, as I would call her. Eartha Kitt was great and very believable- she really played the part! Nat “King” Cole, to me, still seemed a little shy on camera, but I was told that he was a shy individual. Young Billy Preston did very well with his acting and he “tore up” that organ- as he is already known for doing. There just aren’t any words that I can use to describe my feelings for this video, except for it’s awesome, great, and fantastic!”

Blue Mountain State: The Rise of Thadland

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

According to the official website of the movie, the plot is: “With Blue Mountain State football star Thad Castle (Alan Ritchson) recently signing a multi-million dollar NFL contract, his teammates and college life seem like a distant memory. However, when a new school dean threatens to clean up the BMS image by auctioning off the infamous Goat House, Alex, Sammy and the boys must find a way to convince him to get involved. Despite his new fortune and fame, there is one small favor that Thad needs done before he saves the day: the biggest booze-and-sloot fest in BMS history. Welcome to Thadland!” The film focuses entirely on one wild party to make an end for it all.

What people are saying:

“It was all the worst parts of the show strung together in a mish mash of terrible plot lines. They brought back Radon and Shiloh, but neither of them had anything to do with the plot, if you can even call it a plot.” 1 star

“Nowhere near as good as the show- kinda felt like the writers were just trying to fit loads of cameos and one-liners in without thinking it through. Such a shame!” 3 stars

“I loved the series! When I heard they were making a movie, I was so excited, but this movie feels like Thad wrote the script for it.” 2 stars

“Greatest thing out there! So glad BMS gave this to its fans. This was a series I wish would never have ended!” 5 stars

“Huge fan of the show, but this movie was not good overall. There were some parts that had me laughing, but way more parts that had me wanting to turn it off. I would give it zero stars if I could.” 1 star

Trailer Thursday 4/21

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on April 21, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

This week, we return to our theme of jazz films with the 1958 Nat King Cole film, St. Louis Blues. Have a peek at the trailer and enjoy! Be sure to notice all the major stars in this thing…wow!

Chicken Little

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the small town of Oakey Oaks, Chicken Little rings the school bell and warns everyone to run for their lives, allowing the whole town into a frenzied panic with much damage ensuing. Eventually, the Head of the Fire Department calms down enough to ask him what’s going on and Little explains that a piece of the sky shaped like a stop sign had fallen on his head when he was sitting under the big oak tree in the town square; however, he is unable to find it. His father, Buck Cluck, assumes that this “piece of sky” was just an acorn that had fallen off the tree and had hit him on the head, making Little the laughing stock of the town.

A year later, Little has become infamous in the town for being crazy. His only friends are outcasts and underdogs like himself: His literal “Ugly Duckling” friend — the dorky and supportive Abby Mallard (who has a not-so-secret crush on him), Runt of the Litter (who ironically is extremely large), and a literal Fish Out of Water (who wears a helmet full of tap water).

Trying to help, Abby encourages Little to talk to his father, but he really only wants to make his dad proud of him. As a result, he joins his school’s baseball team in an attempt to recover his reputation and his father’s pride but is made last until the ninth inning of the last game. Little is reluctantly called to bat by the coach (even though the coach is certain that he will lose the game for them).

Little is able to hit the ball and make it past first, second, and third bases, but is met at home plate by the outfielders. He tries sliding onto home plate, only to be touched by the ball. While it’s presumed he lost the game, the umpire brushes away the dust to reveal Little’s foot barely touching home plate, thus declaring Little safe and the game won; Little is hailed as a hero for winning the pennant.

Later that night at home, Little is hit on the head by the same “piece of the sky” that he had mentioned earlier at the beginning — only to find out that it is not a piece of the sky but a device designed to blend into the background (which would thereby explain why Little was unable to find it last time). He calls his friends over to help figure out what it is.

When Fish pushes a button on the back of the piece, it becomes a hovercraft in which Fish rides on. It turns out to be part of the camouflage of an invisible UFO. Little manages to ring the school bell to warn everyone, but aliens who have emerged from the spaceship see everyone coming and manage to escape, leaving an orange alien child behind. No one believes the story of the alien invasion, and Little is ridiculed yet again…until the next day.

He and his friends discover the little alien (whose named turns out be Kirby) and a few minutes later, a whole fleet of spaceships descends on the town and start what turns out to be an invasion, which is actually a misunderstanding, as the two aliens are looking for their lost child and only attack out of concern. As the aliens rampage throughout Oakey Oaks vaporizing everything in their path, Little realizes that he must return the alien to his parents to save their planet. Despite this, he first has to confront his father and regain his trust.

As he begins to tell his father the truth inside an abandoned cinema, Abby bursts in and says they should address the problem, as in the invasion, but because it is a phrase that she used to Little about his issues with his dad, then he begins to explain them. Little talks about what his father was doing and that he had emotionally let Little down by not being there for him and not listening to him enough. After he and his father reconcile and begin to leave to return Kirby to his parents, Little runs back down the row of seats to Abby and tells her that he always found her extremely attractive and he kisses her, only for her to act silly.

Their first attempt to return the child to his mom and dad is aborted when they witness town mayor Turkey Lurkey get apparently vaporized, after offering the key to the city, the key to his car and finally Tic Tacs as surrender terms.

In the invasion, Buck, now regaining his confidence and trust in his son, protects him from the aliens until they get vaporized. It is then discovered that the aliens weren’t vaporizing people, but the ray guns had teleported them aboard the UFO. Afterwards, the aliens return everything to normal (except Foxy Loxy, whose brain got scrambled, turning her into a Southern belle, and as a result, Runt falls for her), and everyone is grateful for Chicken Little’s efforts to save the town.

One year later, the townsfolk have made a film about the story, exaggerating it incredibly. In the film, Little is more masculine and Abby is far more beautiful in reality, and Fish can speak properly. After the film finishes, everyone begins to celebrate, Buck lifts Little onto his shoulders as he is applauded, and Abby (now his girlfriend), kisses him on the cheek

REVIEW:

In our infant and/or toddler years, we are all told the story of Chicken Little, as a way to deter us from becoming big fat liars. I don’t think it worked that well, look at all the lawyers, politicians, and cable tv execs in the world today! Disney took note that the story just wasn’t working in its old fashioned telling and gave us their version of Chicken Little.

What is this about?

No one believes Chicken Little (who has a history of overreacting) when he tries to warn of an alien invasion. But this time it’s the real thing — so it’s up to him and his misfit friends to save the world!

What did I like?

Creativity. When dealing with a story that is more of a passed down tale, it is important to come up with characters to keep the audience interested. These animators did just that in bringing to life other characters from similar tales like Foxy Loxy and the Ugly Duckling, as well as taking random saying and making them characters like Runt of the Litter and Fish out of Water. The characterization given to each of these side characters was interesting, as well. Who knew that Turkey Lurky was the mayor of Oakey Oaks?

Papa can you hear me. It seems like every family film these days has some sort of family struggle. I was almost going to say this is a negative thing for this picture, but then I realized how the relationship and characters grew. Sure, Chicken Little and his dad have some issues, but when the time comes, they quickly work those issues out and are ready to work together to save the world!

Scared straight. If I were watching this as a kid, I would have been enthralled by the bright and colorful characters, but when the aliens come down and start blowing stuff up, as if it were War of the Worlds, then I would’ve been scared out of my wits. Truthfully, the scenes where the aliens are vaporizing everyone and everything can be scarring for a child, until you see a little later on that the people are just vaporized to a dark limbo. It is Disney, after all, they can’t go around randomly killing people and destroying things

What didn’t I like?

Come together. Is there some unwritten rule in film that says the lead character has to have a love interest, even if they are supposed to be kids? I saw no reason for Chicken Little and Ugly Duckling to hook up, unless they were forced to. It made no sense to the how the story was progressing. Sure, the tease of a childhood crush is fine, but to have them actually get together in the middle of an alien invasion?!?

Another widower. Think of every Disney cartoon and movie for a second. How many of them had the “nuclear family”? Not many that I can think of. Most of our characters were raised in one-parent households, if any at all! Ace Cluck is another in the long line of a widowed fathers raising his kid after the mother has left, for whatever reason (kidnapping, divorce, death, etc.) I appreciate telling us that at least there was a mother, but know I want to know what happened to her.

Small time. You may notice that Chicken Little is very small. I think this is only mentioned once or twice. Normally, I’d be ok with that, but it seems that this is such a major part of his character bringing it up some more would have done wonders. Also, the short gags pretty much write themselves!

Final verdict on Chicken Little? This is a cute kids film about a tale we have all been told time and time again. The creators got creative with the characters and inserting the alien invasion plot was an interesting addition, to say the least. The furry alien rescue mission was a letdown after all the buildup, but I think that is more of me not thinking as a kid watching. All in all, this is a pretty solid flick and I highly recommend it.

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 4/14

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on April 14, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Let’s go back to 1967 and check out the original The Jungle Book, especially since the live action remake is being released tomorrow.

Watch and enjoy!

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Eighteen months after the destructive attack by General Zod in Metropolis from Man of Steel, Superman has become a controversial figure. Daily Planet journalist Clark Kent, Superman’s alter ego, has moved in with Lois Lane. Billionaire Bruce Wayne, who has operated in Gotham City as Batman for nearly two decades, sees Superman as a potential threat to humanity. After learning of Batman’s activities, Superman also views him as a threat, and seeks to stop him via the Daily Planet articles under his disguise.

Wayne learns that weapon-trafficker Anatoli Knyazev has been contacting LexCorp’s mogul Lex Luthor. Meanwhile, Luthor tries to convince Senator June Finch to allow him to import Kryptonite retrieved from the Indian Ocean (results of Zod’s terraforming attempt), claiming to use it as a “deterrent” against Kryptonians. He also makes side dealings with Finch’s subordinate and demands access to Zod’s body and the Kryptonian scout ship. In the next meeting with Luthor, Finch denies his request.

Wayne attends Luthor’s party at LexCorp, where he meets mysterious antiques dealer Diana Prince, and retrieves data from the company’s mainframe. The data drive, however, is stolen by Prince, who later returns it to Bruce, due to her inability to decrypt the data. While decrypting the drive at the Batcave, Wayne receives a vision of a post-apocalyptic world, where he leads a group of rebels against Superman. He is snapped out of the vision by a mysterious time traveler, who warns him of Lane’s crucial role in the distant future, and urges him to find “the others”. Wayne later realizes that Luthor is not only experimenting with Kryptonite, but also investigating metahumans. One of them is Prince herself, who is an immortal warrior. Wayne admits to Alfred Pennyworth that he plans to steal the Kryptonite to weaponize it, should it become necessary to fight Superman. Batman pursues the convoy carrying the Kryptonite from the White Portuguese ship to LexCorp, but Superman intercedes and orders him to cease his activities.

Luthor orchestrates a bombing at a congressional hearing, where Finch is questioning Superman on the validity of his actions. The bomb kills dozens of people, including Finch. Frustrated with failing to save people, Superman goes into self-imposed exile. Batman breaks into LexCorp and steals the Kryptonite, in preparation to battle Superman by building a powerful exoskeleton and creating a Kryptonite grenade launcher and a Kryptonite-tipped spear. Meanwhile, Luthor enters the Kryptonian ship and learns of its functions, as well as recorded alien worlds.

Luthor kidnaps and holds hostage Martha Kent, Clark’s adoptive mother. He reveals that he has been sending messages to Batman and Superman to heighten their animosity towards each other. Luthor forces Superman to fight and kill Batman, in exchange for Martha’s life. Superman tries to reason with Batman, but Batman initiates the fight and eventually subdues him. Before Batman can kill Superman with the spear, Superman urges Batman to “save Martha”, whose name is also shared with Wayne’s late mother. Lane arrives and explains the situation. Upon learning of Luthor’s plan, Batman leaves to rescue Martha, while Superman confronts Luthor on the scout ship. Luthor unleashes a monstrous creature made from Zod’s body spliced with Luthor’s DNA. Superman, Batman and Diana join forces to fight the creature, but are outmatched by its ability to absorb energy. Realizing that it is vulnerable to Kryptonite, Superman retrieves the Kryptonite spear and impales the creature, while it stabs him with its bone protrusions, killing Superman.

Luthor is arrested and imprisoned. Facing Batman in prison, he gloats that Superman’s death has made the world vulnerable to powerful alien threats. A memorial is held for Superman in Metropolis. Clark is also declared dead and Wayne, Lane, Martha, and Diana attend a private funeral for him in Smallville. Martha passes an envelope to Lane, which contains an engagement ring from Clark. After the funeral, Wayne reveals to Diana that he plans to form a team of metahumans, starting from the ones from Luthor’s files, to protect the world in Superman’s absence. After they leave, a faint heartbeat echoes from Clark’s coffin and the dirt around it begins to levitate

REVIEW:

Let’s get ready to rumble! The fight every comic book fan and superhero nerd has been waiting on is about to go down in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The question on everyone’s mind, though, is with Zack Snyder directing will this be more flash over substance? Also, would it just be better to wait for the “main event” coming next month in Captain America: Civil War?

What is this about?

Following his titanic struggle against General Zod, Metropolis has been razed to the ground and Superman is the most controversial figure in the world. While for many he is still an emblem of hope, a growing number of people consider him a threat to humanity, seeking justice for the chaos he has brought to Earth. As far as Bruce Wayne is concerned, Superman is clearly a danger to society. He fears for the future of the world with such a reckless power left ungoverned, and so he dons his mask and cape to right Superman’s wrongs. The rivalry between them is furious, fueled by bitterness and vengeance, and nothing can dissuade them from waging this war. However, a dark new threat arises in the form of a third man: one who has a power greater than either of them to endanger the world and cause total destruction!

What did I like?

It’s all about the game. Batman has always been a badass, even in his campier days, but in this flick, he takes it to another level. There is a scene near the end of the film where he swoops in and, like a ninja takes out a room of about 12 guys with guns. It is a sight to behold and, those of us that have played the Arkham City franchise of Batman games may recognize that the fighting style is very similar. Whether that was done on purpose or not, I cannot be sure, but I liked it!

Clash of the Titans. Say what you will about Man of Steel, it brought Superman back to the forefront of the DC cinematic universe. A place he should have stayed, but they just couldn’t resist having Batman in there. So, here we go, a fight for supremacy, Superman vs. Batman. I would have preferred this be Christian Bale’s Batman, though, for continuity’s sake. No offense to Ben Affleck, he did perhaps the best Batman we’ve seen since…well, since Kevin Conroy in the animated series. The fight between these two pushes them to their limits, which is what we would expect.

She’s a Wonder. I do not believe Wonder Woman has ever graced the big screen with her presence. We all know of the infamous TV series starring Lynda Carter, her appearance in the Justice League animated series, and various other incarnations, including her own animated film. Word just dropped that her film was moved up to next summer, which is sure to have feminists and fans of the Amazon warrior happy. For me, I’m just glad we finally got to see her. Now, whether or not this is what she should look and act like is a different topic for another section.

What didn’t I like?

Contrast. Batman and Superman are both heroes to their cities and whatnot but it is their methodology which causes them to butt heads often. If you expecting to see that in this film, you will be sadly disappointed. The best way I can put this is that dark needs light and vice versa, but when you have two dark characters they cancel each other out. For this to have truly effective, we needed the Superman we all know, love, and deserve. A character steeped in goodness, truth, and is a beacon for right. Instead, we have a Superman who really isn’t that different from Batman, and that is why during the fight I found myself enjoying it, sure, but not really cheering for either one, because there was no clear side, save for the consequences should one or the other lose.

Riddle me this! Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the Justice League cartoon, but when I think of Lex Luthor, I see a cold, calculating, brilliant businessman. That is not what we get here. Before I begin my rant on Lex, it should be known that none of the other films have produced one that is equal to what we got in animated form, including the original Superman franchise. None of those, however, insulted their audience with this version of Lex who might as well have been playing The Riddler, because that is what his mannerisms felt like. I kept expecting him to throw a riddle or two out at any moment. That didn’t happen, so we are left with this crazed, ADHD version of Lex who seems like a kid playing with his inheritance and brilliance. Oh, and don’t get me started on the casting of Jesse Eisenberg. It is well documents that any film with him is automatically starting out in the negative, but apparently the filmmakers could have cast Bryan Cranston, but instead they cast this punk and…ugh…let me stop before I throw my computer across the room.

That Gal. Give credit where it’s due, Gal Gadot put in the work to bulk up for her role as Wonder Woman. It just isn’t enough, as she still looks anorexically thin. I’m sure that I am not the only one that thinks this, but when I envision Wonder Woman, I think of Lucy Lawless during her Xena days. Can’t you just imagine her, or some equivalent, as Wonder Woman?

Anything Marvel can do. By now, everyone knows that this is a) not the sequel Superman deserves and b) is nothing more than a setup for a Justice League movie. Here’s the thing about that, Marvel meticulous took their time setting up The Avengers. It was something that had never been done before. Now everyone is trying to set up their own cinematic universe. Hell, even on television (ironically DC isn’t doing too bad in that department), they’re doing it. For me, I feel as if this is just something being fast tracked because they feel they are behind Marvel and need to play catch up.

Final verdict on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice? There are good and bad parts to this film. First, the additions of Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman work much better than what everyone who initially criticized their casting thought they would. There is a scene where Batman perches on the side of a building and it looks like it is straight off the cover of one of the graphic novels! On the other side of the coin, this is a film that should be fun, with two uber popular superheroes duking it out for superior, but that level of fun never shows. Instead, we get a film that is so dark, it almost makes you want to slit your own wrists! DC really needs to lighten up. I also question the casting of Jeremy Irons as Alfred. He just seemed to not fit. All in all, there are more faults in this film than reasons to watch, but do I recommend it? Reluctantly, yes…it is still a high quality superhero movie. I don’t think I’ll be rushing to see it again, though.

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 4/7

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on April 7, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

Since it is International Jazz Month, trailers for this month will be for jazz related films.

What better way to kick this month off, then with the trailer for one of the true legends of the genre. Please enjoy the trailer for The Benny Goodman Story.

The Haunting

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A psychology professor invites three insomniacs to take part in a sleep disorder study at an eerie, isolated mansion — which appears to be haunted.

What people are saying:

“This is what happens when a classic movie is updated with a respectable budget and too much attention is paid to special effects. Yes the special effects were fantastic, but the special effects were the focus of the film. The action played to the special effects, the twists and turns in the plot were made so that certain effects could be used. This wasn’t a movie with great special effects, this was a display of great special effects that tried to have a plot tie them together. This is not the way to make a good movie, special effects should enhance the story not become the story. If you want to see good special effects, rent it; if you want to see a good movie, don’t. ” 2 stars

“The Haunting — seriously?? This movie was a joke. Totally unbelievable and more like a bad LSD trip. I found myself laughing at some of the stupid antics and reactions that was supposed to make this movie hauntingly scary. I think if this movie was made to be a comedy, it might have gotten better reviews. Most of the scenarios were so outrageously beyond belief. What a waste of some really terrific props and scenery that would have made for a really great scary movie.” 1 star

“I am not even going to attempt to compare this to the original classic horror story with wonderful Julie Harris in the title role that was even adopted as inspiration for Disneyland’s unique Haunted Mansion attraction, because there is no comparisson. So I’m going to give credit where credit is due. Lili Taylor has proven herself quite comfortable with the supernatural, and it shows. For some reason the top billing here is actually the supporting cast, and it is Lili that carries the feature as the hook in the reason and why the hauntings are connected to her. The special effects crew go out of there way to provide effects that remind me of Brandon Fraser’s The Mummy series which are clearly there for entertainment purposes, as well as carry the storyline. But it is Miss Taylor’s conviction to her role as the passenger to a simple crew of people staying overnight in an extreme mansion dwelling, and experiencing phenomanon that makes the movie proud. She is borderline losing it as she is almost conviced by her crew members that what she is experiencing is not real, but the dwellings within will not let her go! And it’s up to her to find out why.” 5 stars

“when will modern American directors learn that showing everything and leaving NOTHING to the imagination does not a good horror film make, Don’t they realize that what we as an audience imagine in our own thoughts is infinitely more terrorizing than showing us what they presume to be so with their CGI. I agree that the 1960 something film was better. ” 1 star

“This movie has great special effects and is pretty scary at times if you have a good subwoofer system that will punch those “thuds” right through your chest. Also, Catherine Zeta-Jones is sizzling hot in this movie. That’s the good points. Now here’s the review. This movie’s screenplay was horrible. The characters had ridiculous dialogue with bad timing which made for a lot of stupid and ambiguous scenes. The protagonist, Eleanor, can’t act AND has bad lines/poor delivery. Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character is a little much to say the least; overdone as a bisexual extrovert with redundant wit. The story really has promise, but was “a big swing and a miss” as a movie production. This is a perfect example of a movie that should have been a book.” 3 stars

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2016 by Mystery Man

Justice League_Throne of Atlantis

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Atlantic Ocean, the USS California submarine picks up incoming human-like threats approaching the sub by sonar. The sub is attacked and the entire crew is killed by the hostiles. At S.T.A.R. Labs’ Justice League headquarters, Cyborg, who has recently received environmental upgrades in an operation that replaced his remaining lung, is given news by Colonel Steve Trevor, the liaison for the Justice League, over the sunken sub. Cyborg decides to check it himself, deciding against Trevor’s idea of calling the other superheroes, saying, “there is no Justice League”, given the lack of help given to each other since Darkseid’s invasion.

At Mercy Reef in Maine, Arthur Curry, drunk over his father’s recent death, picks a fight when they wanted to eat the lobster Arthur was talking to. He defeats them and when the last man tries to stab him, his knife breaks into pieces against Arthur’s chest. After throwing him into the ocean, Arthur leaves, unaware that Mera and Dr. Shin are watching him. Cyborg uses a Boom Tube to teleport to the sub and discovers hand prints on the hull and that several nuclear missiles are missing. He is then attacked by the same hostiles and suffers damage to his servos through his escape, though he takes a knife-like weapon from one of his attackers.

Back at HQ, Cyborg gets help from Flash and Captain Marvel to get Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. Green Lantern decides to head to Gotham City to get Batman, who is chasing henchmen of the Scarecrow. Green Lantern captures them for Batman, but angers Batman who needed them to lead him to Scarecrow. Batman joins the team and they check the now-raised sub. They realize the enemy is warriors from Earth’s origin.

Diana reveals that these warriors are from Atlantis, beings turned into underwater creatures by their king’s mystical trident, after seeing the weapon that Cyborg had nabbed. Using Captain Marvel’s suggestion, Superman and Batman decide to meet Atlantis-expert Dr. Shin, while the others are tasked to find Atlantis.

At Atlantis, Prince Orm and Black Manta meet with Orm’s mother, Queen Atlanna. They argue over declaring war on the surface world, noting the damage during Darkseid’s attack, with Atlanna saying that the volcano that killed Orm’s father was due to Darkseid’s forces while Orm says it was the Justice League’s fight with Darkseid. Orm also says that the humans polluting the Earth will eventually destroy it and Atlantis, which he believes is reason to attack them first. Atlanna silences Orm and asks Mera to bring Arthur, her other son, to Atlantis. Black Manta uses a craft holographically disguised as a submarine to attack Atlantis using the stolen missiles, framing the surface for their “unprovoked” attack.

Dr. Shin tries to tell Arthur that his father asked him before his death to help Arthur. Moments later, Dr. Shin is killed by Atlantean soldiers sent by Black Manta. Arthur is overwhelmed by the attack, knocked out and blasted out of his collapsing house, but is saved by Mera, who dispatches the soldiers by using her control over water, and takes him underwater.

Batman and Superman enter Dr. Shin’s home discovering that his work is destroyed. Superman recreates a photograph of Curry and a letter from his father revealing that his son is half-Atlantean. Batman decides they must find him.

The attack on Atlantis leads the citizens and Orm to demand war and to break the seal on war plans created by the former king in the event of conflict with the surface. Queen Atlanna states that they might need to reveal themselves after centuries of hiding and contact the Justice League. Arthur wakes up with gills on his neck in underwater Atlantean ruins with Mera, who explains that he was in Atlantis and that Atlanna was Arthur’s mother.

As a royal, she could not be with his father or Arthur, so she left to be with her king and Orm, though she still loved Arthur greatly and watched him when he was a child. Arthur had once encountered Atlanna when he was swimming by the shore. Now, Atlanna believes Arthur can help Atlantis bridge between the two worlds.

Mera then dresses him in the king’s royal garb, hidden by Atlanna inside the ruins. Arthur, having difficulty processing the situation, removes the armor and crown, leaving only the orange and green Atlantean bodysuit, and heads to the surface with Mera following him.

Soon, they are attacked by the Trench. The creatures overwhelm Arthur. One of them bit Arthur’s hand, making him bleed. The Justice League arrives in time to defeat the Trench. Orm hears from Black Manta that the Trench failed to kill Arthur. Orm and Queen Atlanna argue because Orm wants to start a war and reveals his knowledge of Curry. Queen Atlanna reveals to him that she knows he attacked Atlantis. With this news, Black Manta confronts the queen, but is overpowered by her trident. Orm then stabs her from behind, killing her and taking over Atlantis as the new king.

Arthur, Mera, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Cyborg arrive at Atlantis and learn of Queen Atlanna’s death. The Atlantean people were under the mistaken impression that a surface dweller killed her. The heroes are then defeated by Orm, who has assumed the mantle of “Ocean Master” and uses the trident to incapacitate and restrain them inside cocoon-like pods. Even Superman bleeds when attacked with the trident. The group is sent to be consumed by the monstrous Dark Trench, while Ocean Master leads Atlantis’ army to the surface.

Arthur destroys his pod by tapping into the power of the trident and with Superman’s help, as well as his telepathic control over sea creatures, they save the rest and defeat the monster. In Metropolis, a massive tidal wave created by Ocean Master’s trident is used to conceal Ocean Master’s army, which reaches the shores and attacks. The military is powerless until the League arrive.

During the fight, Superman saves John Henry Irons, and Wonder Woman saves Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Arthur is attacked by Black Manta, who reveals that he manipulated Ocean Master and plans to kill him when the time is right and take Atlantis for himself. While Black Manta is revealing his plan, Arthur calls a megalodon to attack him, dragging Black Manta underwater. Mera and the League attack Ocean Master, but are once again defeated due to his Trident’s power, as Shazam turned to his normal form, Billy Batson and Cyborg is electrocuted and disabled. Wonder Woman successfully disarms him of the Trident, though she is nearly incapacitated by its energy when she holds it. Superman is stabbed in the chest with it. Curry becomes the last to face Ocean Master. Curry has an upper hand during the because Orm is unable to use its full power on Arthur given his status as Atlantean royalty. Despite this, Ocean Master defeats Arthur with the trident’s power by using it to create a massive blast of power to incapacitate him. Batman saves Cyborg from dying by electrocuting him with a taser device, and Cyborg reveals that he has video of Ocean Master confessing to killing his mother when they were captured. Ocean Master nearly kills Arthur, impaling him on his trident. Cyborg broadcasts Ocean Master’s confession all over Metropolis for Atlantis’ soldiers to see. Stunned by this treachery, the soldiers do not obey Ocean Master’s commands and Arthur uses the distraction to defeat him. He then convinces the soldiers to stand down and declares his desire to bring Atlantis and the surface world together in peace.

Later in Atlantis, Arthur is crowned as king, with the Justice League celebrating among the audience. Batman suggests that, with new threats appearing, they need to solidify the team and Cyborg reveals plans for a watchtower. Arthur joins as Aquaman (which is a nickname everyone on the Internet gave him and he hates), and soon heads with now-love interest Mera against the Trenchers outside Atlantis.

In the post-credits, Ocean Master is incarcerated at Belle Reve, yelling at the guards to release him. He is approached by Lex Luthor who has a proposition

REVIEW:

Everyone knows the “big 3” over at DC (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman), but there was a time when you would also include Flash and Aquaman in the mix. Since that time the Flash has become beloved in his own right, but Aquaman has become the punch line of many jokes. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is meant to reintroduce us to the King of the Seas and also prepare us because he also makes his big screen debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

What is this about?

Aquaman is forced to choose sides between the Justice League and Atlantis, when Atlantean warriors begin a war to conquer the surface world, starting with the coastal cities of Gotham and Metropolis.

What did I like?

Grown up. It has been a minute since I last saw a DC Animated film, I think the last one I saw was Son of Batman, but I have noticed that each one has gotten progressively more and more adult, either with the violence, tone, language, etc. Part of me isn’t quite a fan of that, but another part of me looks as what comics are today, especially DC, as opposed to where they were when I was growing up, and it fits. Also, it must be considered that fans that watched those first DC films have grown and matured with each picture. Looking at the preview for The Killing Joke that was released yesterday, I would say maturity level has reached max!

Aquaman. One superhero who has never really received the credit he deserves is Aquaman. I think a good part of this is how he was portrayed in the 60s and 70s Super Friends cartoon. No matter what was done to him in the comics (new outfit, cutting his own arm off, etc.), he just couldn’t be taken seriously. What is really frustrating about this is that a very similar character over at Marvel, Sub-Mariner, doesn’t get this treatment, yet he has the same powers and wings on his feet. Yes, I said wings on his feet…for a guy that spends most of his time underwater! At any rate, I’m glad this, the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us (which made him a total badass, btw), and his big screen debut, played by Jason Momoa, are helping his credibility. Aquaman does not need to contantly be the butt of jokes. Leave that to characters like Ambush Bug, Squirrel Girl, Matter Eater Lad, etc.

Continuity. Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox seemed to give us a point of continuity that all the DC Animated films have used going forward. I like it, because it shows that this Justice League isn’t fully functional, Cyborg is still getting used to his body, and other little details that you can only get if you keep a central story going. I’m sure some films deviate from this plan, but it looks like most are sticking to it, which is a huge plus.

What didn’t I like?

Back off. As usual, DC can’t do anything without Batman or Superman being involved these days. I say these days because everything they’ve done involving Green Lantern has worked without either and the Wonder Woman animated film is still one of their best to date (without either). Why can’t Aquaman have his own film? This is a problem DC has, they think that everything revolves around Batman and Superman, and won’t give the other characters a chance, even on television. Arrow and that whole universe may not show Bats or Supes, but take a good look at how Arrow is portrayed, it is very similar to Batman, more so that it already is. Supergirl is allowed to do the same kind of thing with Superman, because that’s family and he’s part of her story, etc. Back to Aquaman, though, how is he ever going to gain a following that doesn’t think of him as a big joke, if he can’t get out of the shadow of those two?

What’s my motivation? Villains usually are evil for a reason. Total insanity, wronged by a boss, family business, death of a loved one, etc. I’m not exactly sure what Orm’s motivation is? Sure, his father died, but so did Arthur’s and he’s not trying to take over the world!

Justice is not served. Going back to the topic of this being Aquaman’s movie…why do we need the entire Justice League? On top of that, they seemed to take over the film so much that we barely get much of Aquaman’s story. Instead we get Cyborg’s repairs, Superman and Wonder Woman’s relationship, Batman asserting himself as team leader, etc. None of this was necessary, especially for a character that few know about.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is a mixed bag. It offers some good action, a decent story, and gives us an abridged origin of Aquaman. On the flipside though, there is too much Justice League, a villain who doesn’t really know why he’s a bad guy, another one that is just there to be there, and some ok animation. Do I recommend this? Well, if you want this story told better and with a lighter tone, check out the episode on Justice League that featured Aquaman. If you prefer this darker, more violent version, then this may be for you. Personally, I prefer the loud, boisterous Aquaman from Brave & the Bold! Outrageous!

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Hell and Back

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At a rundown pier carnival, idealistic promoter Remy (Nick Swardson) is desperate to bring in business. He is friends with the overweight and odd carnival repairman Augie (T.J. Miller) and the insolent assistant manager Curt Myers (Rob Riggle). After Curt discovers that the bank has foreclosed the carnival, a frustrated Remy heads down to the boat of a fortune-teller named Madame Zonar (Kerri Kenney-Silver), who is in possession of a crying Devil book. Seeing an opportunity to bring in business, Remy tells his friends that people would come around to see the Devil crying and sets the book up at The Gates of Hell, the park’s main ride attraction. When Curt requests a mint Remy has in his possession, Remy forces Curt to take a blood oath so he can pay Remy back with a mint only for Curt to callously admit that he doesn’t have a mint. While Remy and Curt argue, Augie sees strange weather and soon, Curt is sucked into Hell itself through the ride and Remy and Augie take a car from the ride into the portal to rescue Curt.

After landing in Hell, they discover that it is full of green lost souls and aggressive demons. After being discovered, they are taken to the Devil (Bob Odenkirk) himself, who reveals to be an aggressive, if comical being, who is just coming from a meeting. He encounters the duo and while speaking with them, mentions the Greek legend Orpheus who has a reputation for bringing mortals out of Hell. He forces the duo to hide while meeting with an angel from Heaven named Barb (Susan Sarandon) who he is infatuated with. When Barb mentions that she is aware of the mortals in his domain, he tries to show them to her, but discovers that they have escaped and calls out a search for them. Remy and Augie try to use a contraption to escape, but are discovered and are about to be apprehended by demons. Just then, a ship appears and captures them and a demon. On the ship, a mysterious figure disposes of the demon. When the duo tell the figure why they’re here, the figure reveals herself to be a female demon named Deema (Mila Kunis) who Augie becomes infatuated with. She agrees to take them to Curt if they take her to Orpheus They track him using the Devil’s cell phone (which Remy and Augie snagged from his office).

Meanwhile, Curt meets the Devil and hits it off with him pretty swell, but when mentioned that he is being sacrificed for not living up to his blood oath, he persuades the Devil to not sacrifice him via a contract if he puts on a show to win the favor of Barb who had a fling with him while she was dating God. It was God sent the Devil to Hell for this. Remy, Augie, and Demma locate the way to Orpheus which is guarded by Deema’s mother Durmessa (Jennifer Coolidge), but they manage to make it past her. Before Deema passes through, Durmessa warns her that Orpheus isn’t what she expects him to be. They use a submarine to find Orpheus and eventually locate him when he finds them through a giant robot. They discover that Durmessa was right about him as Orpheus (Danny McBride) reveals to be an eccentric slacker who is retired from bringing people out of the Underworld. Remy is the only one who seems to enjoy his lifestyle. After passing 2/3 of Orpheus’s ridiculous tests, he reveals himself to be Deema’s father, as he had a fling with Durmessa, but never came home. Annoyed with Orpheus, Deema leaves and Augie decides to go with her upon being fed up with Remy’s selfishness. After sharing a romantic moment, they discover from the Devil’s cellphone that Curt is being sacrificed at the crossroads and head out to save him.

When Remy finds out where Curt is via Orpheus’s TV, he leaves to find him and uses a Purgatory boat to catch up with his friends and reconciles with them. The Devil goes back on his deal with Curt and decides to sacrifice him anyway. After the Devil retires to the bathroom after he ate Curt’s contract, Remy, Augie, and Deema manage to make it past the Demons guarding Curt and reunite with him. They find themselves at the mercy of the demons and the Devil who decides to sacrifice them all. Having a change of heart, Orpheus attempts to rescue them while disguised as the leader of a demon band, but is also captured. Barb, who the Devil called and showed her the mortals, comes to Hell via a stripper’s pole and she becomes attracted to Orpheus because of his song when he disguised himself. A jealous Devil tries to use a bazooka cannon full of T-shirts to kill Orpheus. When they are escaping, a T-shirt hits Barb, knocking her unconscious. While they are falling, Remy slaps Barb awake, but the group find themselves in the lower regions of hell full of living sex-offender trees. One sex-offender tree (H. Jon Benjamin) had raped Orpheus (which he mentioned multiple times earlier). Orpheus will forgive him if he rapes the Devil, which he does later on.

Remy, Augie, Curt, and Deema are caught and bounded by the trees and when Remy is eventually held down by roots, Curt, while hanging upside down from a tree, drops a mint onto Remy. Although upset at first about Curt keeping this from him, Remy is told that if he eats the mint, the blood oath will be paid. The Devil and a demon try to stop him, but Remy eats it reopening the portal that brought the mortals to hell, sending them back to the land of the living with Deema going with them. When the Devil asks them where Barb is, she eventually appears with Orpheus flying on her, telling him about their relationship, much to his distress. On the surface, the group discovers that Remy’s idea to keep the park open is actually successful as people are lining up with coins in their hands to watch the Devil cry.

6 months later, Remy uses the money to renovate the carnival with attractions that are similar to what is seen in Hell, including an attraction called the “Gates of Heaven” with Orpheus and Barb in it.

The ending credits show a lost soul in Hell and a Demon who keeps misleading him (as he does this many times in the film) with the occurrences ending with the demon saying “Welcome to Hell.”

REVIEW:

Back in the fall, I heard a few things about Hell and Back, a small animated film that most definitely is not for kids. Once it left the theater, though, that was the last I heard anyone speak of it, until it popped up on Netflix a couple of weeks ago. Curiosity finally got the better of me and I caved this evening. Hopefully, this won’t be a mistake.

What is this about?

After their buddy is accidentally sucked into hell, two friends set off on a wild quest to rescue him. In the process, the duo encounters more than a few strange spirits, including an alluring angel and the devil himself

What did I like?

Theology meets mythology. Mixing Greek mythology with the theological notion of hell is not something that is done often. When was the last time you heard of Charon ferrying people to the gates of hell, or Orpheus and the devil fighting over an angel? That is what you get here and, while I thought the filmmakers were just trying to cram all character associated with the Underworld, somehow it works!

Location. Everyone has their own personal idea of hell. These filmmakers decided that the portal to hell is located in an amusement park ride called “The Gates of Hell”. Interesting place to have it, right? I actually liked that it was there and didn’t just pop up in some random abandoned warehouse, some unsuspecting person’s house, restaurant, etc.

Creativity. Maybe this was done so that we could tell lost souls from the demons and our mortal stars, but it was a nice touch to have said souls looks like some sort of ghost-type shadow. I wonder if that is what our souls actually look like, since I doubt we will bare any resemblance to these mortal coils in the afterlife. Also, the one soul that was being tortured by the most mundane things, such as no pizza at a Pizza Hut/Taco Bell.

What didn’t I like?

Douche cast. I don’t know if it is how these characters are written or if it is the people voicing them, but I found it hard to like anyone. T.J. Miller’s character may have been the most likable, but that was only because he was often targeted for being a bit on the chubby side. Have we, as a society, reached the point where these are the kind of characters that will populate every film from now on? Who wants to see sarcastic douchebags in everything, as opposed to normal people?

Devil. At first, we see the devil as we all imagine him, a big red, scary guy. Then he changes into something that resembles Fred Astaire, in my opinion, but he’s also pink and one of his horns is bigger than the other. All this to impress the angel, Barb. I get the changing your look and all, even if you are the devil, but pink, seriously?!?

Sex offender forest. This is hell, and every evil thing imaginable is supposed to be down here, but was it really necessary to have an entire forest of rape trees? What’s worse is that we nearly see a rape happen! It was one thing to mention this place in passing and all, but to actually show it seemed a bit much for my taste. Maybe I’m alone in thinking this way, though.

Final verdict on Hell and Back? Not knowing what to expect when I started this film, my expectations were low. As the film went on, I didn’t become anymore enamored with this flick. I believe this was made just as a satire on everyone’s concept of hell, or maybe it was counter programming to all these conservative Christian films that are being released right now. Who knows? If you were to ask me, though, if I would recommend this flick, my answer is no. There just isn’t anything here worth watching. If you want to see a modern take on hell, check out Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, Lucy Daughter of the Devil, or even go back and watch George Burns’ Oh, God! You Devil franchise or either Bedazzled films.

2 out of 5 stars

Teen Beach 2

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Modern day teens Mack and Brady get a real world visit from Lela, Tanner, Butchy, and other surfer and biker pals from the beach party film within a film, Wet Side Story.

What people are saying:

What can I say that 92 others haven’t already said? This is such a Disney Movie, is that meant in any kind of bad way? NO WAY. I love my Disney movies, well 98% of them. this one falls in that category. The terrific ones. Did you love the first “Teen Beach”? No reason at all not to love this one too. Wonderful stars, wonderful story, wonderful songs and singing and wonderful dance numbers. now let us look at the 4 prime stars, Leila, couldn’t find her real name sorry, is wonderful and sweet. Mack, Maia Mitchell, has to be a future star. Brady, Ross Lynch, dynamic voice and dancer and pretty easy on the eyes too. Now Tanner, goofy and lovable and seriously adorable played by Garrett Clayton, to me was the stand out.” 5 stars

Liked most of the music and Tanner is hysterical. But, it lacked the same charisma as the first. Mack is still whiney and I definitely hated the end in the “real world”. Kids: girls ages 4 and 12 got bored. I may have been the only one to sit through the whole thing.” 3 stars

A nice try to add on to a good thing. It has all the traditional Walt Disney sentiments and style. It doesn’t quite outdo the first edition, but it is still good family fun.” 4 stars

The movie was going great until the ending. I REALLY hated it because the whole point of the movie was Mack and Brady bonding over their memories on the beach, especially their experience in the Wet Side Story film from the first Teen Beach Movie. I just don’t understand why the filmmakers had to make it look like the two of them never met each other. Honestly, it kind of ruined the magic of the first film which kind of made the second movie very depressing. I would like for someone to let me know what the whole point of this film was because no matter how many times I think about it, I just don’t understand it. This movie did have decent music and dancing, but in my opinion, I wish this movie had never been made because the ending was not only upsetting, but it generally did not make any sense at all.” 1 star

Wasn’t what I was expecting. While the music was great the whole theme of the movie was off – especially the ending. I would have thought the movie would have been about the cast that suddenly appeared on the beach at the end of the first movie. About how they adjusted to life now instead of living in the movie. Very disappointing.” 1 star