Archive for May, 2016

Revisited: The Benny Goodman Story

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , on May 30, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The young Benny Goodman is taught clarinet by a Chicago music professor. He is advised by bandleader Edward Ory to play whichever kind of music he likes best, but to make a living, Benny begins by joining the Ben Pollack traveling band.

In New York, where the band gets a lukewarm reception, Benny meets jazz lover John Hammond and his sister Alice. He is invited to the stately Hammond home to perform a Mozart clarinet concerto. Alice fears he will be embarrassed, but his playing is impeccable and Benny appreciates her concern.

Benny’s performances on a popular Saturday night radio program result in Fletcher Henderson volunteering to do some arrangements for him. On the west coast, the radio show’s early start has made Benny’s music a sensation with a younger generation. He puts together a quartet featuring Gene Krupa on drums, Teddy Wilson on piano and Lionel Hampton on vibes.

The romance with society girl Alice is disconcerting to Benny’s mother, but by the time her son plays Carnegie Hall, all is well and Mrs. Goodman has personally invited her future daughter-in-law to sit by her side.

REVIEW:

Of all the movies to review, I can imagine you are wondering why The Benny Goodman Story, right? Well, first of all, I’m a big jazz fan, as if you couldn’t tell if you keep up with this blog. Second, today is Benny Goodman’s birthday. Good reasons to give this a shot, so let’s see if this pays proper respect to the legend.

What is this about?

An incredibly low-key Steve Allen makes his big-screen debut in this biopic about the legendary “King of Swing,” a real treat for music fans. Allen faultlessly mimes the prerecorded clarinet licks of the real Benny Goodman.

What did I like?

Swing, swing, swing. Before going to bed last night, I came across an article about how pop was becoming the new jazz. It was quite the interesting read and brought up some valid points. I’ll have to share it with you all at some point. In the meantime, when you look at the time frame in which this film takes place, jazz was the popular music of the time and the film is sure to show us that. Some may even go so far as to say that the music is the best thing about this picture.

Behind every good man. A good woman is hard to find. Donna Reed sure fits the bill for what I would consider a good woman, yessir, she does. Here character, Alice, flies halfway across the country just to support Benny and his band, even before they officially start dating! Who knows what other ways her love was shown throughout their marriage.

Actual musicians. While Steve Allen was a musician in his own right, he played piano, clarinet was not his thing. Benny Goodman his self played most of the song in this film, along with many of his band’s alumni. This is a big change from normal, where we get a half-asses attempt to sound like professional recordings from some guys off the street.

What didn’t I like?

Mama used to say. Being a Jewish kid growing up in New York, you can imagine the kind of stereotypical mom Goodman had in the film. With him being the youngest child, you also know that she is going to be a bit more protective of him that normal. My issue with the mother is that, for all the good she believes she is doing, her overprotectiveness nearly cost her son happiness. Who knows what else her interference in his life could have done?

Story. Liberties tend to be taken in biopics to make the subject seem either more human or legendary, depending on the film. With this, though, I feel the story was just as bland as the real life account of Goodman’s life. Surely they could have done something with this. As it stands the most interesting, part if there was one, involved the meeting with Lionel Hampton, who was working some 5+ jobs before he was convinced to join the band.

Get a clue. I will never profess to being the world’s greatest authority on reading people. As a matter of fact, I suck at doing this. That being said, with Donna Reed practically throwing herself at him, travelling across the country for the guy and whatnot, he still shoots her down  for most of picture. WTF?!? I doubt the real Benny Goodman was like that, but still, he surely couldn’t hae been totally oblivious to the feeling of those around him, or could he?

Final verdict for The Benny Goodman story? As far biopics go, you can do worse, but you can also be assured that this is not even close to being the best in the genre. Would Benny be proud? I can’t say that he would. The music is done justice, but his life is made out to be nothing special and make one wonder why they even made a film about him. All that aside, I did enjoy myself and think many can get pleasure out of this flick. Do I recommend? Yes, a look into one of the great pioneers of jazz can never be a bad thing.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Down to You

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Sophomore Al Connelly (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) meets the girl of his dreams, freshman Imogen (Julia Stiles), and true love abounds. The two engage on a whirlwind courtship—they pick a song based on the records from Al’s parents, eat a cake together, and even make love. Imogen’s fear of lost youth causes her to push away from Al, and they go their separate ways after Imogen cheats on Al at a party. Al attempts to rebound from the relationship, determined to forget Imogen, and he goes to desperate measures to do so, including suicide by shampoo and problems with his career. In the end, Imogen finds Al when she hears of his attempted suicide and she brings him a book cover that she illustrated featuring the two of them. The two reconcile their differences and get back together showing that love can be obtained. The story is told from the points of view of both Al and Imogen.

REVIEW:

Now this is a movie that takes me back to the simpler days when I was living in the college dorm and all I had to worry about was getting to class on-time, calling home once a month, etc. Man, I miss those days. Unfortunately, those days were not the best for my love life, either. Down to You brought back some memories, to be sure, but is this a good film or a nostalgic pleasure?

What is this about?

When an uptight upperclassman and a free-spirited undergraduate meet, they prove opposites attract in this story narrated from both points of view.

What did I like?

Development. Perhaps one of the most often criticized aspect of films is character development. It is so hard to get invested in a character when we don’t know anything about them. That’s what I like about this film. Not only do our main characters get development and backstory, but we get to see their friends develop, as well, particularly the character known as Monk (who I think would be perfect if they ever make a movie about Orson Wells).

Youth movement. Think back to the end of the 90s/beginning of the 200s. Ok, now think of how big these names were (and have become) Freddie Prinze, Jr., Julia Stiles, Rosario Dawson, Selma Blair, Jimmy Kimmel. Between then and now, all of these became big stars in their own right. Kudos to this casting director for finding such talent and putting them together in one film.

Been there, done that. I can relate to Al’s situation. In college, I flipped head over heels for a girl but, as time went on, we seemed to drift away for no good reason until I found out she was messing around with someone else. *SIGH* Oh well! I give all the credit to the screenwriters for making sure we get both sides of the story. That was a stroke of genius. So often in film, and real life, we are only privy, to one side.

What didn’t I like?

Out of Stiles. Julia Stiles is an actress that is kind of meh for me. Sometimes I’ll be a fan and other times I won’t. I guess it just depends on the character. This is not on of her better choices. I don’t know if it is her or the script, but I was getting nothing from her. At times, it felt like she was just being a bitch and at others it seemed as if she was just reading off cue cards verbatim. That brings me to my next point.

Chemistry. In She’s All That and Loser, Freddie Prinze, Jr. has at least some chemistry with Rachel Leigh Cook and Mena Suvari, respectively. With Julia Stiles, there is nothing. I think there was more chemistry between he and Zak Orth’s character. I don’t fault them for casting Stiles as she is a fine actress, but there wasn’t any heat between these two to make me believe they were in love, save for the emotions Prinze was giving us.

Side quest. Prinze and Stiles are the focal point of this picture, without a doubt. However, there are some interesting side characters that should have gotten something more than a couple of scenes. I’ve already talked about Zak Orth’s character, Monk. Selma Blair could have had more screentime dealing with her friendship with Prinze. Rosario Dawson could have had more bff/roommate screentime. Shawn Hatosy could have had more time spent on his quest to find a girlfriend, culminating in the one he finds in the club. I’m just saying.

Final verdict on Down to You? This is a film that holds a special place in my heart. While not as light and entertaining as the other films in Prinze’s trilogy, I still get some joy from watching. He said the trilogy name in an interview once, I just can’t remember it right now. There are plenty of flaws to be found in this film, but this wasn’t made to win any Academy Awards. Do I recommend it? Yes, just turn your brain off and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Glory Daze

Posted in Comedy, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A soon-to-be graduate finds he’s having a difficult time letting go of the college life — and decides maybe he doesn’t have to.

What people are saying:

“About some college graduates who after all there time in college still don’t have the slightest clue on what they want to do in life. It was an OK movie. It stars a young Ben Affleck. It was just some mediocre acting, Nothing speacial about this movie. Not worth seeing again.” 2 stars

“This movie practically got me through college. It exemplifies the late 90’s perfectly and has an awesome punk rock soundtrack to boot. I still put it on when I want to smile. Sure the acting sucks and the plot is thin but it brings me back to a time when life was all in front of me and the thought of “growing up” really was scary as hell!” 5 stars

“If you’re insanely bored and it’s raining outside and there is absolutely nothing else to see, well you might be able to stand this one.” 1 star

“If you read the back of the box, this movie is made out to be a hilarious comedy, but I thought it was kind of sad. The best part about this film is there’s a part where Jack (Ben Affleck) is watching a tape of himself having sex with his ex-girlfriend and you can see his nuts.” 3 stars

“Glory Daze is yet another of those “post-college angst ridden party boys get semtimental about moving on” kinda things, one that’s notable solely because of its eclectic cast and very little else.” 1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Ghost

Posted in Chick Flicks, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 26, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze), a banker, and Molly Jensen (Demi Moore), a potter, are a couple who renovate and move into an apartment in New York City with the help of Sam’s friend and co-worker Carl Bruner (Tony Goldwyn). One afternoon, Sam discovers unusually high balances in obscure bank accounts, but despite Carl’s offer to help investigate, Sam decides to investigate on his own. That night while walking home together Sam and Molly are mugged by a street thug who pulls a gun and demand’s Sam’s wallet. Sam struggles with the attacker and is shot. After pursuing the street thug, Sam runs back to Molly and – seeing her crying over his dead body – discovers that he has died from the gunshot and has become a ghost. Sam stays by the distraught Molly, trying to come to grips with his new condition, when Carl comes over and suggests Molly take a walk with him. Sam cannot bring himself to follow.

Moments later, the mugger enters the empty apartment and commences searching for something. When Molly returns, Sam scares their cat into attacking the thug, who flees. Sam follows the mugger to his apartment in Brooklyn and learns that the man’s name is Willie Lopez and that Willie intends to return later to continue the search.

While walking back to the apartment, Sam happens upon the parlor of Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a con artist posing as a medium. But when she can hear Sam, she realizes she has an actual gift. He convinces her of the danger that Molly is in and that Oda must warn her. Molly is skeptical about Oda until Oda relays information that only Sam could know.

After Molly tells Carl about Oda Mae, Carl – unaware that Sam is following – then goes to Willie’s apartment. There, to Sam’s surprise, he finds that Carl and Willie are working together, that Carl had a hand in Sam’s death, and that he had needed to obtain Sam’s book of passwords in order to access and launder the excess money from the bank accounts. Under instructions relayed from Sam to Oda Mae, Molly goes to the police with Willie’s name and address, but they find no criminal record of him – instead they show her Oda Mae’s record and convince her that she’s a con artist.

Meeting a violent poltergeist in their ghostly realm, Sam learns from him how to manipulate physical objects from within the spirit realm. Sam then approaches Oda Mae and asks her not only to withdraw the money in the fake name that Carl had set up but then to give that $4 million to charity. Sam tries to scare Carl away from Molly but she reveals to Carl that Oda Mae was at the bank withdrawing the money. Sam then prevents Oda Mae from being attacked by Willie, terrorizing the thug and then sending him into oncoming traffic where Willie is hit by a car and killed. As Willie’s ghost is grabbed by creatures from the shadows that drag him to Hell, Sam and Oda Mae return to the apartment where – by levitating a penny into Molly’s hand – he convinces Molly that Oda Mae is telling the truth about him.

Oda Mae allows Sam to possess her body so he and Molly can share a slow dance, but Carl interrupts them and Molly and Oda Mae flee onto the fire escape. Carl chases the women to a loft under construction and catches Oda Mae. When Molly comes to save her, she is grabbed and held hostage. Sam disarms Carl and chases him toward a window. He throws a suspended hook at Sam; it misses, swings back, and shatters the glass. As Carl tries to climb through the window a sharp shard of broken glass falls, impaling him through the chest. Carl’s ghost rises from his body and, as Willie had been, he is grabbed by the creatures from the shadows and is carried to Hell.

Sam asks if the women are all right. Miraculously, Molly can now hear him. A heavenly light shines in the room, illuminating Sam in sight of both of them. Realizing that it is his time to go, he and Molly share tearful goodbyes. Oda Mae tells him that he is being called home, and he thanks her for her help.

Sam then walks into the light and onward to Heaven.

REVIEW:

Considered one the quintessential romantic films of all time, Ghost is a film that I just have not seen all the way through, up to this point in time. Will I be impressed or lose respect for the parts of the film that I have seen of this flick? Only one way to find out!

What is this about?

Gothamites Sam and Molly see their romance shattered when a street thug kills Sam during a mugging. But love endures beyond the grave when a spectral Sam learns that Molly is in danger, and he must find a way to warn her before she suffers his fate.

What did I like?

True love. So many times, we see couples on film that seem as if they have never laid eyes on each other before the cameras started rolling. They have little to no chemistry at all. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, however, seem to have been in love since the dawn of time. Their romance is red hot on the screen. I don’t know if anything went on with these two off camera, but on camera they shared a love for the ages.

Supernatural. No, this isn’t your typical ghost film, so there isn’t a whole lot of lore to be seen and heard here. That being said, what we do get is pretty special, especially for a chick flick drama! Seeing Swayze wander around trying to communicate with the living was something I enjoyed and it kept my interest more than the embezzling money plot did.

Tone. In today’s cinematic world, this would be a dark and “scary” film, probably meant to be part of some shared universe, because studios think that’s the only way to make money. While this is most definitely a product of the early 90s, the tone cannot be more perfect. The drama and love story are offset by the light-hearted ghost scenes and Whoopi Goldberg’s comic relief, and that is offset by the overarching murder/money plot. Everything compliments each other and it works like a grand symphony!

What didn’t I like?

Drag me to hell. I wasn’t expecting anything on the level of Ghostbusters when it comes to the special effects of this film, but the look of the recently deceased going up or down did nothing for me. I say this more for those that were going down. The demons, if that’s what they were, looked more like cartoon shadows instead of something that was meant to incite fear. Again, given the nature of the film, this is understandable to a point, but surely they could have shelled out a few more $$$ to get something more frightening and evil looking for the bad guy, for lack of a better term.

BFF. Heaven forbid I pass away and my significant other is left alone. Should this happen, I suppose I can take solace in the fact that my bff is a married woman, rather than a slimey, good for nothing, backstabber. Swayze’s best friend is obviously doing his best to keep her Demi Moore from falling into a sever bout of depression or something along those lines, but hitting on her? I think this happened not even a week after the funeral! WTF?!?

Other ghosts. As we see in Whoopi’s..um…place of business? and on the subway, there are other ghosts running around. Here’s my questions about them, though. Do they not see the new guy? Are they just hiding? Why are they here? Maybe I’m asking too many questions for a simple film such as this, but it does make one wonder, regardless.

Final verdict on Ghost? I liked it and can see why it is held is such high regard, but I didn’t love it. For me, it was bit too much on the sappy side and pretty much blew its load with the pottery scene very early in the film. All that aside, I belive this to be a well made picture. Most of the characters are well thought out and their motivations are made clear. I wish something could be done with the antagonist plot, though. Do I recommend it? Sure, why not, this is one of those date movies that women love to force their men to watch, so suck it up gentlemen and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 5/26

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on May 26, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

A while back, I was looking up musicals that I haven’t seen yet. One that came up many times was Finian’s Rainbow. I still haven’t gotten around to watching this, but if the trailer is any indication, when I do it will be worth it.

Don’t you agree?

The Longest Day

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

This Oscar-winning war epic chronicles World War II’s harrowing D-Day invasion. Shot on the beaches of Normandy, France, the ambitious film attempts to cover the historic day from all perspectives, focussing on both sides of the conflict.

What people are saying:

“In my opinion, the best, most amazing war movie ever made! This movie completely puts Saving Private Ryan to shame. SPR’s token scene, the landing at Normandy, pails in comparison… only 20 minutes and light on extras compared to The Longest Day’s hour-long assault and gigantic assault force. SPR is the modern man’s watered-down, narrow-focused, grisly action-centered dish… but The Longest Day is the entire meal, offering the total picture of the D-Day invasion, from the executive planning to the troop preparation to the parachute troops, ground attack, and beach assault. This is THE movie for war and history buffs. Also, if you like SPR, I think you owe it to yourself to see the original D-Day movie that was written and made by the WWII generation. Requires an interest in how the whole D-Day operation played out, as well as the little bit of patience to handle a 3-hour 1962 war movie, but an otherwise HIGHLY recommended movie for anyone, especially war and history enthusiasts.” 5 stars

“The longest movie about the longest day. It’s informative and interesting but certainly could have been done in less time. A bit too much jumping around from the Americans to the Brits to the French to the Germans to get everyone’s perspective of the same scene / event. Some of the actors were obnoxiously overdoing it – like that German pilot Pip. Would have been much more effective to have the French and Germans speaking in their native tongues. I don’t mind subtitles at all” 3 stars

“Greatness from the days when films could commit to a topic and stay with it – where today, u wud have made up romances and other distractions to try to please everyone. Of course the cast is loaded with classic American Actors, but to me it’s the German actors! (who actually speak German, which was not the norm in Hollywood then) who steal the movie scenes and really make the film great and real. The running time of the movie was perfect (to me), given the pace and detail the film covers leading up 2 this historic day. Like any great long film u like, u won’t even be thinking of that and well, u have a pause button if u need it” 5 stars

“How appropriate to name a movie to the running time! This was way too long for watch during one sitting, but I am sure that’s how WW II felt like for those who fought and lived through it. ” 3 stars

“This film is now over fifty years old, but holds up very well as one of the best films about D-Day. The long list of big name stars are largely used in appropriate roles. Being filmed in B&W was also a better choice than color. The 3-hour running time was necessary to tell the story, although some early scenes before the invasion are gratuitous. Most of the dialogue is decent, although the scene where the screenwriters felt it necessary to make sure we realize that General Roosevelt was the son of T.R. was a little silly because I’m sure that nothing like this ever took place. One of the most memorable roles was Robert Mitchum as Norman Cota. The director also must have sat on Red Buttons to keep him from mugging his way through his role. ” 4 stars

Minions

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on May 23, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Minions are small, yellow creatures who have existed since the beginning of time, evolving from single-celled organisms into beings who exist only to serve history’s most despicable masters. After serving a great deal of masters over the centuries (though they accidentally kill their masters most of the time), and a disastrous end to their service to Napoleon, the Minions are driven into isolation and decide to start a new life in a massive cave in Antarctica. After many years, the Minions become depressed, restless and unmotivated without a master to serve. To regain their dignity and sense of purpose, Kevin, one fearless Minion, decides to set out to find a new master and asks for help. Stuart, a musically inclined Minion and Bob, a young and inexperienced but infectious Minion, are recruited.

The trio journey to New York where the year is 1968. After spending the day attempting to blend in, the Minions end up in a department store for the night, where they discover a hidden commercial broadcast for villains advertising Villain-Con; a convention for villains and supervillains in Orlando. The trio manage to hitchhike a ride with a family of villains called the Nelsons and impress them with their accidental villainy. Once at the convention, they see Scarlet Overkill, the first female supervillain, and they impress her enough for her to hire them. As Scarlet takes the Minions to her home in England, Kevin contacts the other Minions, who later find a new boss, but accidentally kill him and are chased out of their cave. They make their way to England to find Kevin, Bob, and Stuart.

At her home, Scarlet explains the plan to steal St. Edward’s Crown from Queen Elizabeth II of England and promises to reward the Minions if they successfully steal it, threatening that she will kill them if they don’t. Her husband Herb supplies them with inventions to aid in the heist, but they are nearly caught when they break into the Tower of London, which leads to a highly publicized chase that ends with Bob crashing into the Sword in the Stone and pulling it free, removing Elizabeth II from the throne and becoming King of England. Enraged by this, Scarlet confronts the Minions, and Bob abdicates in her favor. Undeterred because she feels betrayed, Scarlet imprisons the three in a dungeon to be tortured by Herb before her coronation, but afterwards, they are left alone and escape with the intention to apologize to Scarlet.

Making their way to Westminster Abbey, the three of them interrupt the coronation by accidentally dropping a chandelier on Scarlet, who immediately orders their execution. Dozens of villains chase them and Bob and Stuart are caught while Kevin finds his way into a pub. He sees Scarlet on a television, promising that she will kill Stuart and Bob if Kevin doesn’t show up by dawn. Kevin sneaks into Scarlet’s home to steal weapons, but inadvertently triggers a machine Herb was building and enlarges himself. He tramples through London, rescuing his friends just as the other Minions reunite with them. Scarlet tries to eradicate them, but Kevin swallows a massive missile she fired at them. Scarlet and Herb attempt to escape with her rocket-dress, but Kevin holds onto it. The missile detonates, apparently killing Kevin and the Overkills. After the Minions briefly mourn him, Kevin reappears, having returned to his normal size.

Queen Elizabeth receives her place on the throne and crown back and rewards Bob with a tiny crown for his teddy bear and Stuart an electric guitar (later replaced by a snow globe), and she knights Kevin for his heroism. She suddenly realizes that her crown is missing, and Kevin leads a chase after Scarlet and Herb, who are revealed to be alive and are fleeing through the crowd with the bejeweled crown until they are suddenly frozen in place by a young Gru, who steals the crown from them and takes off in a rocket-powered motorbike while the Minions stare in awe. Bob gives his crown to the frozen Scarlet, as the Minions see Gru as their new potential master and give chase to follow him home.

REVIEW:

A few years ago, when we first me the Minions in Despicable Me, they were meant to be just side characters. Who knew that they would become such a cultural phenomenon. one big enough to deserve their own spin-off/origin flick, Minions. Is this a film we wanted, or a cash grab?

What is this about?

Born to serve despicable villains, these crazy, yellow second-fiddles have a tragic history of accidentally killing off their masters. Without leadership they will perish, so three Minions head out on a dangerous journey to find their next evil boss.

What did I like?

Three’s Company. There are countless Minions, so it would be next to impossible to focus on all of them. The filmmakers picked out 3, the same 3 that were always singled out by Gru, if I’m not mistaken, Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, as the stars. The others exist, but that’s about it. This allows us to get behind these 3, learn about their kind, get a history lesson, and not be bogged down with too many characters.

Foreshadowing. As this is a prequel to Despicable Me, Gru has not become the world’s #1 supervillain, nor has he assembled his evil empire. As a matter of fact, he’s still in jr. high (from the looks of it). Gru isn’t the only one from that appears, though. While at Villain-con, if you will look in the background, you’ll notice Dr. Nefario and his freeze gun. A nice touch to include him, as he is Gru’s gadget guy in the other films.

Period piece. Putting this film in the 60s was a stroke of genius. Not only is there a plethora of good music, a far cry from the dreck we hear on the radio today, but there is so much that can be done in terms of references, sight gags, etc. Kids will think these are new jokes, while adults will get the references. A win-win situation!

What didn’t I like?

Too much of a good thing? Popular belief is that the Minions are best in small doses and don’t deserve a full length film. I can see that viewpoint and, as a matter of fact, I think I said something very similar when this film was announced. Do I stand by it? Yes and no. I’m not as firm on that position anymore, but as I watched this film, I felt that the jokes and momentum died as it went along. Similar to Penguins of Madagascar, it is a valiant effort, but these are characters whose worth on the big screen is best served as side characters and merchandise. However, I think they would work as a show on Nickelodeon…maybe.

Minionese. The language these little guys speak is mumbo jumbo and it isn’t going to change. I’m not asking for them to all of a sudden speak proper English, but how about subtitles? Most of the time when a character on film or TV is speaking in a foreign (or made-up) language, we get subtitles in order for us to understand what they are saying. Why is that not the case with these guys? Are just supposed to stay in the dark on what they are saying? Or just stay guessing?

Trailed off. I actually liked the trailers for this film. They got me almost excited to see it. However, I have an issue with them now, after seeing the actual film. The first 5-10 minutes are shot for shot what we saw in most of the trailers, save for the last one, which actually showed us the plot. In other words, the jokes in those first scenes weren’t as funny because they had already been shoved down our throats. Why do trailers do this these days? I’m sure they could find other scenes that would have worked, rather than spoiling the movie for us.

Final thoughts on Minions. These little guys have a bright future ahead of them, as long as they aren’t pushed too hard. I think this was a nice spin-off film and gave us some insight into who they are, but it wasn’t really necessary. Sure, it was a fun flick, but it felt more like a way to keep the Despicable Me franchise in everyone’s mind while they come up with a plot for the next film. That being said, this film doesn’t fall into many of the traps that kid’s films fall into today (pop culture references, disrespectful children, etc.), and for that we can call be grateful. Do I recommend it? Yes, I do. There isn’t enough bad to stop you from enjoying this simple family film.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 5/19

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on May 19, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

The other day, I was flipping through the channels and came across a movie that I remember liking, but haven’t seen in a long while.

So, let’s all get re-acquainted with Jawbreaker.

Captain America: Civil War

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1991 the brainwashed super-soldier James “Bucky” Barnes is dispatched from a Hydra base in Siberia to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum. In the present day, approximately one year after Ultron’s defeat in the nation of Sokovia at the hands of the Avengers, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up to avoid capture, and when Maximoff tries to displace the blast into the sky with telekinesis, it destroys a nearby building, killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers.

At the team’s headquarters, U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs them that the United Nations (UN) is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the Avengers. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports oversight because he feels responsible for Ultron’s creation and Sokovia’s destruction, while Rogers has more faith in his own judgment than that of the government. At a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, whom T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, vows to kill. Informed by Sharon Carter of Barnes’ whereabouts and the government’s intentions to kill him, Rogers goes to bring in Barnes—his childhood friend and war comrade—himself. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to Bucharest and attempt to protect him from the authorities, but all three and T’Challa are arrested.

Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes’ old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes’ brainwashing. Infiltrating the Berlin facility where Barnes is held, Zemo recites the words to make Barnes obey him. He questions Barnes, then sends him on a rampage to cover his own escape. Rogers stops Barnes and sneaks him away. When Barnes regains his senses, he explains that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and wanted the location of the Siberian Hydra base, where other brainwashed super-soldiers are kept in cryogenic stasis. Unwilling to wait for authorization to apprehend Zemo, Rogers and Wilson go rogue, and recruit Maximoff, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to their cause. With Ross’s permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark’s team intercepts Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape. The rest of Rogers’ team is captured and detained at the Raft prison, while Rhodes is partially paralyzed after being inadvertently shot down by Vision, and Romanoff is forced to go into hiding.

Stark discovers evidence that Barnes was framed by Zemo and shows this evidence to Wilson, who gives him Rogers’ destination. Without informing Ross, Stark goes to the Siberian Hydra facility and strikes a truce with Rogers and Barnes, unaware he was secretly followed by T’Challa. They discover that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who shows them footage from Hydra’s archives; it reveals that Barnes killed Stark’s parents during his mission in 1991. Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, blasting off Barnes’ robotic arm. Rogers disables Stark’s armor and departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family’s death in Sokovia by irreparably fracturing the Avengers, Zemo attempts suicide, but T’Challa stops him and he is taken to the authorities.

In the aftermath, Stark provides Rhodes with exoskeletal leg braces that allow him to walk again, while Rogers breaks his allies out of the Raft. In a mid-credits scene, T’Challa grants asylum to Barnes, who chooses to return to cryogenic sleep until a cure for his brainwashing is found. In a post-credits scene, Parker tests a new gadget that he received from Stark.

REVIEW:

DC has had their turn up to bat, and they got a decent pop fly, but mighty Marvel is strolling up to batting box, surely to hit a home run, right? Pardon the very bad baseball analogy, but there is a baseball game playing in the background as I type this up, so I found it fitting. Captain America: Civil War is a film that many comic book fans have been looking forward to for a long time, myself included, given how compelling the story is in the comics. Fans want to see how it translates to the big screen. Will Marvel’s track record stay intact, or is this the one that breaks them?

What is this about?

With many people fearing the actions of super heroes, the government decides to push for the Hero Registration Act, a law that limits a heroes actions. This results in a division in The Avengers. Iron Man stands with this Act, claiming that their actions must be kept in check otherwise cities will continue to be destroyed, but Captain America feels that saving the world is daring enough and that they cannot rely on the government to protect the world. This escalates into an all-out war between Team Iron Man (Iron Man, Black Panther, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine, and Spiderman) and Team Captain America (Captain America, Bucky Barnes, Falcon, Sharon Carter, Scarlett Witch, Hawkeye, and Ant Man) while a new villain emerges

What did I like?

Friends forever. Today, Facebook reminded me that I’ve been friends with my best friend 5 yrs today. Obviously, its been much longer than that, but its the sentiment that counts. A man needs his friends. For someone like Steve Rogers, who has outlived everyone he knew, it must be extremely tough. The filmmakers decide to show this by giving the audience a little insight into his relationship with Bucky, which we already know a little about from Captain America: The First Avenger. Seeing Cap, joke around with the guy shows a human side that we don’t see very often. Also, and I wasn’t a fan of this, his other tie to his time, Peggy Carter has an…event…shall we say, happen to her that nearly crushed my black heart!

Black Panther. I could sit here and go on and on about how awesome it is to have Black Panther make his big screen debut, but you’ve seen the trailers. He is a bad ass from those scenes alone. What you see in the film furthers that point. I do want to go a little bit into his character, a suave, smooth, respectable monarch that does not lose his cool and is highly intelligent. My knowledge of Black Panther isn’t as well-versed as others, but from what I saw in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and have read in a few comics, they nailed his personality dead on. Add in the bad ass action we get from him and we can’t forget to mention the costume…WOW! I can’t wait until we get to his movie!

Underoos. We’ve had 5 Spider-Man movies and they have yet to get him right. One franchise made got the Peter Parker side right but threw everything else out the window. The recent franchise got the Spider-Man part, right, but the actor that played him was not likable and there were just numerous other issues with that mess, which was rushed into production solely to keep the rights away from Marvel. Well, a deal was brokered to where Sony keeps the rights, but loans him out to Marvel. It isn’t the best situation, but at least we get Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If his short time on screen is any indication of what we’re going to get in the future, I’m excited. This is the Spider-Man we see in the comics and cartoons, complete with eyes that move (more of a comic thing, but they learned from Deadpool, I would imagine).

What didn’t I like?

Crossbones. It seems that the last few Marvel movies have all started with a small villain fight before the film proper gets going. That’s fine. It is a warm-up of sorts. Here’s the problem with this one, though. Frank Grillo, who I think should be playing the Punisher, was introduced as a character that seemed to be headed for a long term rivalry with Captain America in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So, what’s the problem? Well, after all that time building him up in the last film, he doesn’t make it past the first 15 minutes in this one. Making matters worse, Crossbones is somewhat of a major character in the comics…then again, so is Batroc the Leaper.

Put on the mask. In this day and age of “grounded” and “real” interpretations of superheroes and villains, filmmakers pick and choose who keeps their original costume, who gets and updated version, and who just throws the concept out the window. In the case of Helmut Zemo, they threw it out the window. In the comics he messed with a chemical that made him immortal and fused the mask to his face. I was looking for some sort of nod, if nothing else, to this origin, much like they did with Arnim Zola. Instead, there is nothing remotely Zemo about this guy.

Avengers assemble. If I’m not mistaken, this is a Captain America movie, yet it feels more like an Avengers sequel than Avengers: Age of Ultron did, and that one felt more like Iron Man 3 than the real one did. If they wanted to make this an Avengers movie, they should have just done so and given Cap a true close to his trilogy. If I recall reading early on, before this went into production, it was a totally different story (one that featured Crossbones more, too). What is it with studios masquerading sequels for one franchise as another? While I’m on this subject, how is it that what’s going on in Hell’s Kitchen with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and others not come to the Avengers attention? What about all the Inhuman stuff that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are dealing with? Just wondering, since Tony Stark was able to track down Spider-Man, as Peter Parker, mind you!

Final verdict on Captain America: Civil War? Well, it has everything you want in a Captain America movie, action, espionage, someone trying to take down American and take over the world, humor, etc. The scope and magnitude of this film won’t be as immediately felt across the MCU as the last film, but I’m sure something will come of it before the inevitable reunion in Avengers: Infinity War. In the meantime, can we just bask in the how superior these Captain America films have been to most everything else that has been released in theaters? Do you even need to ask if I recommend it? Stop reading and run go see it…multiple times!!!!

5 out of 5 stars

That Touch of Mink

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , on May 17, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

When wholesome, hardworking small-town girl Cathy (Doris Day) moves to New York City and meets handsome tycoon Philip (Cary Grant), she thinks she’s found the man of her dreams. Although Philip assures her he’s not the marrying kind, Cathy has other ideas.

What people are saying:

“This is what movies should be like. Great dialogue, some unpredictability, characters that play off of each other. Gig Young is a trip and a half in this one. This is a well-spent hour-and-a-half. While some of it is obviously dated (clothes, etc.), this is a fun flick.”

“Have always been a huge fan of Doris Day but this is easily my least favorite movie of hers. Dialogue is very telling of the times.. and not in a good way. But then again, I’m a sucker for an old movie.”

“A clean and interesting romantic affair between a corporate man – Cary Grant’s polished action and a childish and anxious lady.”

“I can’t really think of much to say about this film. It is an inoffensive, middle of the road romantic comedy which barely delivers 3 solid laughs. Even Cary Grant couldn’t win me over on this one.”

“lines from the movie in the order they come Cary Grant “How do you feel about tapping the unused, abundant natural resources of young, developing countries?” Doris Day “I think they should be tapped!” If you don’t understand why this is oddly magical or how Cary Grant is doing Jack Donaghy from 30 rock way before 30 Rock or why Doris Day is so damn huggable here, then what help can I give you. You heartless hag.”

The Running Man

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

An unjustly accused prisoner in 2019 is given a slim chance at freedom if he enters a battle-to-the-death on a television game show. Dawson steals the show as the slimy host!

What people are saying:

“Great Schwarzenegger effort where he is a prisoner hunted down on a violent game show. You would think that by 2017, the home version of the show would have advanced to video instead of a board game. Richard Dawson is good as the jerk host.” 4 1/2 stars

“I loved the idea behind this movie, but there have been many other better movies with the same idea, and the movie itself is predictable and much like Schwarzenegger’s other films. Richard Dawson was perfect as the game show host, though, I really liked him. Overall, it’s okay, but I wouldn’t recommend it. A similar, but better movie: Deathrow Gameshow.” 3 stars

“Finally watched this from start to finish and it is pretty damn bad. I am sure back when it came out it was a bit better for a sci-fi film but it now is generic and along with the horrible acting it is enjoyable for the hilarity of corny one liners and cheesiness.” 1 1/2 stars

“Some of the main problems that The Running Man runs into is the extremely fast pacing and the extreme lack of character development, plot development, and exposition. Seriously, this could have been a really good movie if the crew focused on these things rather then the full-fledged action you find for the entire duration of the film. It felt as if this movie was made for thirteen-year olds with very short attention spans. A couple of redeeming qualities are Arnie’s acting and his classic one-liners and a really cool head-exploding scene. That’s pretty much it.” 2 stars

“With a dance routine choreographed by Paula Abdul, ironically The Running Man forecast America’s obsession with over-produced competitive ‘reality’ shows and predates The Hunger Games by 25 years. I’m not so sure about Arnie’s Bond style quips but the casting of Richard Dawson as the show’s host is inspired.” 4 stars

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film follows the plot of the TV series SpongeBob SquarePants, focusing on the anthropomorphic sea sponge of the same name (Tom Kenny). SpongeBob dreams about managing the Krusty Krab restaurant, which is in trouble because a customer has no cheese on his Krabby Patty, but SpongeBob saves the day. He wakes up and cheerfully prepares for the opening ceremony for the Krusty Krab 2, hoping that his boss Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) will promote him to manager of the new restaurant built next door to the original Krusty Krab. At the ceremony, SpongeBob is passed over; his co-worker, Squidward Tentacles (Rodger Bumpass), has been given the promotion because Mr. Krabs thinks he is “more mature” than SpongeBob.

Meanwhile, Plankton (Mr. Lawrence), Mr. Krabs’ business rival, devises a plot to steal the Krabby Patty secret formula and frame Mr. Krabs. He steals King Neptune’s (Jeffrey Tambor) crown that night, leaving evidence that pins the crime on Mr. Krabs, and sends the crown to Shell City, a distant, mysterious land from which no fish has returned. That night, SpongeBob goes to his favorite restaurant, Goofy Goober’s; he drowns his sorrows in ice cream with his best friend, Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke), waking up the next morning with a headache. King Neptune barges into the Krusty Krab 2 the same morning and threatens to slay Mr. Krabs. Although SpongeBob criticizes Mr. Krabs shortly after he arrives, he promises Neptune that he will retrieve the crown from Shell City. Neptune freezes Mr. Krabs, still certain that he is the culprit, and tells SpongeBob to return with the crown in six days for him to spare Mr. Krabs. SpongeBob and Patrick leave for Shell City in the Patty Wagon, a car shaped like a Krabby Patty.

In Bikini Bottom, Plankton steals the Krabby Patty formula and uses it to produce and sell Krabby Patties at his restaurant, the Chum Bucket, with the claim that Krabs bequeathed him the recipe. He sends a hitman named Dennis (Alec Baldwin) to pursue SpongeBob and Patrick. Squidward discovers the truth about Plankton stealing Neptune’s crown and tries to alert Neptune. However, Plankton uses mind-controlling bucket helmets disguised as souvenirs to control Bikini Bottom’s residents, including Squidward, and renames the city Planktopolis.

Meanwhile, SpongeBob and Patrick encounter a dangerous trench, but Neptune’s daughter Mindy (Scarlett Johansson) helps them past it by making them think she can transform them into men. They are stopped by Dennis, who tries to crush them with his spiked boots, but he is in turn stepped on by a massive “cyclops” (a diver) (Neil Ross). The “cyclops” grabs SpongeBob and Patrick, and goes to his beachside store, revealed to be Shell City. At the store, SpongeBob and Patrick find the crown, but are killed in a lethal drying-out process with the heat lamp turned on. Their tears short-circuit the heat lamp; its smoke activates the sprinkler system, reviving their bodies and the other dried sea creatures to be sold as souvenirs. As the sea creatures attack the diver, SpongeBob and Patrick take the crown and head for the beach. When they lose their way home, David Hasselhoff offers them a ride; Dennis catches up to them but is knocked by a catamaran back into the sea.

Back at the Krusty Krab 2, Neptune arrives to execute Mr. Krabs. Just in time, SpongeBob and Patrick return with the crown and confront Plankton, who then drops a mind-control bucket on Neptune, enslaving him. SpongeBob performs the song “Goofy Goober Rock” (performed by Jim Wise) and, after transforming into an electric guitar-wielding wizard for the duration of the song, he frees Bikini Bottom’s residents. Plankton is arrested, and King Neptune thanks SpongeBob for his bravery and thaws Mr. Krabs, who makes SpongeBob manager of the Krusty Krab 2 in gratitude.

REVIEW:

Everybody sing with me now, “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” What? No response? Man, what a bunch of party poopers you lot are! So, it is a fairly hot Saturday afternoon and I’m stuck inside babysitting with a broken air conditioner. What better movie to put on than The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, right?

What is this about?

SpongeBob and Patrick are shocked when Mr. Krabs is accused of stealing King Neptune’s crown, and they set out on a wild adventure to prove their friend’s innocence by finding and retrieving the priceless treasure themselves.

What did I like?

Continuity. When shows jump to the big screen, especially while they are still on the air, there is usually a disconnect in continuity. Take South Park, for instance. If I recall, after their movie, it was a year or two before they acknowledged those events. With this, though, I felt like I was watching just an extended episode of the cartoon…with a bigger budget.

Plotholes. I remember back in the days of MySpace, I wrote on a blog post about how we aren’t sure what age SpongeBob is. He has is own house and all that, but he is very juvenile and his job isn’t exactly something one would want later in life. The acknowledgement that he is a kid, finally set my mind at ease about his age. Based on this film, I’d say he’s about 16 or so.

Appeal. There should be no doubt that this is a film marketed towards younger kids, much like the cartoon, but there are some things that will appeal to older viewers. For instance, Patrick calls Princess Mindy hot. Totally out of character for him, which may have been the reason I found humor in it. The preserved fish come to life and attack the “Cyclops” diver was also pretty nifty. There are plenty of scenes that will appeal to a broad audience, so kudos to the filmmakers for having the wherewithal to not dumb this down for just their core audience.

What didn’t I like?

The Hoff. I have no problem with David Hasselhoff. As a matter of fact, I grew up with him on Knight Rider. I’d also say Baywatch, but let’s face it, nobody was watching that show for him. My issue with him in this film is the weird physics that were employed. At one point he stopped in the middle of the ocean and floated there like a boat. How in the bloody blue blazes is that possible? Don’t even get my started on the pectoral launch…that was just weird!

Plan Z. As the series’ antagonist, one would expect Plankton to have some kind of role in the film, perhaps doing the same thing he always does, try to take over the world and steal the Krabby Patty formula. Here’s the thing, though…why is it that Plan Z was so effective, but every other plan he’s had has been a complete and utter flop? I can’t think of a plan of his that came anywhere near actually working!  Sure, the stakes are raised, if you will, for the big screen, but come on, this was just too competent for him!

Pirates. Every now and then on the show, Patchy the Pirate will show up. Ok, I still don’t get what he has to do with anything, but I don’t hate those short segments. He’s not in this as far as I can tell, but there are a mess load of other pirates that apparently love SpongeBob. Surely, there had to be a more effective use for them than sitting in a theater watching the movie, right?

Final verdict on The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie? Well, chances are you aren’t going to just randomly choose to watch this unless you are/were a fan or have seen a few episodes. With that being said, you’ll know what to expect. There isn’t anything new or surprising with this film other than the voice of Scarlett Johnasson. So, if you like the cartoon, you’ll like the movie. For me it wasn’t anything special, other than that.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Babadook

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , on May 13, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Sam’s frequent tantrums turn sinister when a creepy children’s book mysteriously appears in his room, and he asks his mother, “Do you want to die?”

What people are saying?

“The final sequence’s sheer terror makes up for a couple of flaws throughout. The Babadook is a suspenseful, clever horror film that is driven by its ominous mysterious & shrouded figure which is inventive and modern for today’s genre.” 4 stars

“‘The Babadook’ is not just a masterclass in how to make a psychological horror film from a technical standpoint, but it’s the first horror film I’ve seen in quite some time that has deep emotional resonance and makes for a fascinating discussion piece. In short, it will do for Jennifer Kent what ‘Night of the Living Dead’ did for George A. Romero.” 4 1/2 stars

“I don’t watch horror movies to some poetic story running in the background. Not many jump scenes, does not scare you, do not watch this. Save yourself the time and just staple yourself a few times. It wont take as long, and you will have same feeling.” 1/2 star

“The Babadook manages to break free of the clichés of its genre and, for once, portrays some genuinely creepy ideas. However despite its relatively short run time, it still felt much too long.” 3 stars

“Interesting metaphorical play in the story, but leaves something to be desired” 3 stars