Archive for October, 2016

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Posted in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

For years, Abe Portman (Terence Stamp) has told stories to his 20-year old grandson, Jake (Asa Butterfield), about his childhood battling monsters and spending part of World War II living at “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by the coast of Wales. The home’s residents and their headmistress, Miss Alma Peregrine (Eva Green), possess paranormal abilities and are known as “Peculiars”. After receiving a frantic phone call from his grandfather, Jake and his drugstore coworker Shelly (O-Lan Jones) rush to Abe’s house. In the woods nearby, Jake finds his grandfather collapsed with his eye sockets empty, and he tells Jake to find “the bird, the loop and September 3, 1943”, before dying.

Following the advice of his psychiatrist, Dr. Golan (Allison Janney), and finding a letter from Miss Peregrine to Abe, Jake and his father Frankiln (Chris O’Dowd) travel to Wales. Jake explores the island and finds out the children’s home was destroyed during a Luftwaffe raid. As he explores the house, some of the Peculiar Children from Abe’s stories greet him.

The children take Jake through a cave and he finds himself in 1943; they take him back to their intact house, where Miss Peregrine greets him. She explains that she belongs to a class of female Peculiars named “Ymbrynes”, who have the power to transform into birds (in Miss Peregrine’s case, a peregrine falcon) and manipulate time, creating time loops. Miss Peregrine has her loop permanently set to September 3, 1943, in which she and her children hide from the outside world.

Jake is introduced to the rest of the children, including aerokinetic Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell), a 19-year old girl lighter than air, and necromancer Enoch O’Connor (Finlay MacMillan). He learns that one of the children, super-strong Victor Bruntley (Louis Davinson), was killed by an invisible monster called a “Hollowgast”, or “Hollow”. Jake discovers that he himself is a Peculiar; like his grandfather, he can see Hollows. Miss Peregrine explains that Hollows are Peculiars who were transformed by a failed experiment by tapping an Ymbryne’s power in hopes of becoming immortals. Led by shapeshifter Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), they hunt Peculiars to consume their eyeballs enough to became “Wights”, visible Peculiars with milky-white eyes.

As Emma is walking Jake back to the cave, they find a wounded Ymbryne named Miss Avocet (Judi Dench) in avocet bird form. Emma takes her to the children’s home. Jake discovers another letter from Abe to Miss Peregrine, revealing that Mr. Barron is stalking a time loop at Blackpool, England in January 2016 created by Miss Avocet. She reveals to Miss Peregrine, Jake and the children that Barron raided her loop, killed her children and is trying to repeat his experiment with more Ymbrynes. Worried, Miss Peregrine decides to move out with her children and Miss Avocet.

Back in 2016, Jake realizes earlier that a Hollow might be close when a flock of sheep and a blind old man mysteriously die. Jake goes back to the cave to warn his friends, but he’s followed by another visitor on the island, ornithologist John Lemmon (Rupert Everett), who goes through the loop with him. He transforms into Dr. Golan and reveals to be Mr. Barron. He tried to get information about Miss Peregrine’s loop from Abe, but his Hollow companion Mr. Malthus knocked out Abe before he could answer. He posed as Dr. Golan and encouraged Jake to visit the island, hoping he would guide him to the loop. Taking Jake to the house as a hostage, Barron forces Miss Peregrine to come with him and leaves her children, Jake and Miss Avocet for their own safety.

Malthus’ “past self” arrives and kills Miss Avocet, but Jake and the children escape just as the Luftwaffe raid destroys the house and kills Malthus. Without Miss Peregrine the loop closes, leaving the children and Jake in 1943. Jake and the children travel on a sunken ocean liner to the Blackpool loop to rescue Miss Peregrine. They use their abilities to fight and kill Barron’s Hollow and Wight accomplices. Jake frees Miss Peregrine and other captive Ymbrynes. Barron tries to pose as Jake to confuse the children, but when the last remaining Hollow arrives, Jake avoids the Hollow, which kills Barron before being in turn killed by Jake.

Jake says goodbye to the children and returns to the present world in Florida, relenting his adventures to Abe alive and well; Malthus’ death erased his murder of Abe from the future. Abe gives him a map of time loops all over the world, allowing Jake to reunite with his friends again. Jake and Emma confess their feelings for each other, and Miss Peregrine in peregrine form follows them on their ship, looking for another time loop

REVIEW:

There was a time when Tim Burton owned the gothic sci-fi genre. Not sure where or when it happened, but his “followers” either turned on him or just lost interest. Some would even go so far as to say that they grew up. With Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Burton is hoping to return to his roots and gain a new audience. Will he be successful?

What is this about?

When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical place known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers… and their powerful enemies. Ultimately, Jacob discovers that only his own special “peculiarity” can save his new friends.

What did I like?

Back in time. The past always fascinates me, especially WWII era. When I saw that this film would be going back to my favorite era, I couldn’t contain myself. Even more impressive to me was how they managed to go back there, but still keep everything modern. That is to say, there was no one making fun of old customs, mannerisms, etc. As a matter of fact, had it not been for the war planes and swing tunes, you wouldn’t have been able to really tell what year it was.

Creature feature. A good creature can go a long way towards making or breaking a flick. These hollowgasts, as they are called, are just scary enough to keep children up at night. The design reminds me of a mixture between Slender Man and something from Silent Hill, pardon me for forgetting the monster’s name. An effective mix, when all is said and done, though, and we get plenty of them in the climactic scene.

Stop motion. Earlier today, I was watching another of Tim Burton’s films, Frankenweenie. The brilliant use of stop motion in the film leads me to believe Ray Herryhausen would be proud. Burton is a lover of the stop motion technique, much as I am, and it should really come as no surprise that he inserts some stop motion in this film. Sure, it is a short segment, involving toy like creatures brought to life only to fight to the death, but those few seconds are brilliant and painstakingly done. I appreciate them, if no one else does.

What didn’t I like?

Wasted potential. Looking at the cast for this film, I find myself wondering who owed whom a favor and how many zeroes had to be added on to the original number for some of these actors to appear in this flick, because it is clear that they have no business being here. Judi Dench, who is perhaps the biggest culprit, seemed to show up, film her scenes in a day and leave. There was no point to casting someone of her caliber in this role. Samuel L. Jackson just signs on to any and everything these days, but with this character, I felt he was being held back. Had he truly let go, there might have been a memorable villain in there. The list goes on and on, I’m afraid. Such a shame!

Peregrine. When you are the titular character, one would expect that you would have something more to do with the film than a couple of smirks, a peek at your pocket watch, and a few other quirky moves, but that is pretty much all we get from Eva Green’s Miss Peregrine. Not having read the book, I can’t tell you if she’s supposed to be more Nanny McPhee or Count Olaf, but one thing is for certain, she is quite different. I just with the film would have spent more time introducing us to her, rather than wasting a good hour or so on Jake.

Look alike. Tim Burton is known for casting Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in his film, especially of late. Neither makes an appearance in this one however, I couldn’t help but notice a striking similarity between the actress that play Emma, Ella Purnell and Helena Bonham Carter. The look is almost creepy, especially when it hits you that Burton and Carter recently divorced.

Final verdict on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? Truth be told, I was expecting something more like the Harry Potter films rather than a more serious Big Fish. The peculiarities of the children are great, but to me, they come off as the rejected X-men sketches. I went into this expecting more fantasy, especially from a director like Burton. I was severely disappointed. This is not a bad film, but it is not that I would recommend, unless you want to sit in a theater for over 2 hrs hoping something interesting happens.

3 out of 5 stars

Seventh Son

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In a time long past, an evil is about to be unleashed that will reignite the war between the forces of the supernatural and humankind once more. Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is a knight who had imprisoned the malevolently powerful witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), centuries ago. But now she has escaped and is seeking vengeance. Summoning her followers of every incarnation, Mother Malkin is preparing to unleash her terrible wrath on an unsuspecting world. Only one thing stands in her way: Master Gregory. In a deadly reunion, Gregory comes face to face with the evil he always feared would someday return.

What people are saying:

“Dear god this was awful Jeff Bridges does a really bad Gandalf impression throughout, not even Julianne Moore can save this turkey. Costumes are pretty, locations are gorgeous, the story is one cliche after another, and the CGI isn’t that good. ” 1 star

“Not a bad movie at all. the plot holds together, the monsters are good (although I wish there had been more of them). It’s hardly a surprise that the “critics” would trash a movie like this (if it had been in French with subtitles they would have lauded it).” 3 1/2 stars

“Despite moronic dialogue and typically insipid acting from the younger leads (no doubt cast more for their looks than acting chops), I still found there were enough enjoyable fantasy elements here to keep me interested enough to finish the film. Yeah, I’m setting the bar just that low for a movie to get three stars from me.” 3 stars

“With such a cast, it fails as entertainment. Bad writing and directing along with a poorly chosen story board, someone did not have their on the pictures … isn’t that the job of the producers ? Casting Jeff Bridges as a bumbling lead is the biggest failure here. He added nothing to this movie.” 2 stars

“Seventh Son” moves at a fairly quick pace and has a sense of humor about itself. That doesn’t mean it’s thrilling, or funny. Just that it’s a quickly forgotten pile of junk.” 2 stars

Trailer Thursday 10/27

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on October 27, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

We all have something we’re afraid of. For me, it is dogs, and one film that freaks me out everytime I even think of watching it is Cujo.

Check out the trailer…

Gods of Egypt

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In an alternate version of Egypt, the world is flat and gods live among humans. The Egyptian gods are distinguished from humans by their greater height, golden blood, and ability to transform into their animal-headed deity forms.

Bek (Brenton Thwaites), a thief with little faith in gods and their goodwill towards humans, with his love Zaya (Courtney Eaton) are attending the coronation of Horus: God of the Air (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Horus is shown getting ready for his coronation as his love Hathor (Élodie Yung) surprises him. Horus hints at marriage and they discuss Hathor’s protection bracelet made of the stars which Horus gave to her to protect and save her from her previous role as a guide to dead souls in the underworld. During the ceremony, Osiris (Bryan Brown) is killed by his extremely jealous brother Set: God of the Desert (Gerard Butler) who seizes the throne and declares a new regime where the dead will have to pay with riches to pass into the afterlife. Horus is stripped of his eyes which are the source of his power and almost killed. Hathor pleads with Set in surrender to spare him and he is instead exiled. Hathor becomes an enslaved mistress to Set.

A year later, Bek has been working as a slave building monuments while Zaya is now under the ownership of the chief architect Urshu (Rufus Sewell). Believing that Horus is the only one who can defeat Set, she gives Bek the floorplans to Set’s treasure vault. Bek is able to steal back one of Horus’ eyes. However, Urshu finds out about their theft and kills Zaya as the couple flee. Bek takes her body to the blind Horus and makes a bargain: Horus agrees to bringing Zaya back from the dead for his eye and Bek’s knowledge about Set’s pyramid.

Later, they are traveling to Ra’s divine vessel above the Earth. Horus is unable to convince Ra (Geoffrey Rush) to regrant him his power in full or to intervene and defeat Set himself as Ra is both neutral about their conflict and daily at war with an enormous shadow beast Apophis, that threatens to devour the world. Nevertheless, Horus obtains divine waters from Ra’s vessel which can be used at Set’s pyramid to extinguish the desert thirst and weaken him gravely. Ra tells Horus that his weakness is the result of him not fulfilling his destiny, which Horus believes means avenging his parents’ deaths.

Set asks Hathor to take him to the underworld which he next desires to conquer, but she refuses and manages to escape. Eventually, Hathor finds Bek and Horus. Horus at first doesn’t trust her as she is a mistress of Set, who had blinded him, while she tries to convince him that Set is her enemy as well. When they tell her of their plan regarding Set’s pyramid, she warns them of a guardian sphinx who will kill anyone not wise enough to solve a riddle. The group then heads to the library of Thoth: God of Wisdom (Chadwick Boseman), recruiting him to solve the riddle.

Arriving at Set’s shrine, they overcome its traps, including the sphinx (Kenneth Ransom), to reach the source of Set’s power. But before they can pour the divine water in, Set traps them and reveals Horus’s deception to Bek: that he is unable to bring Zaya back from the dead. Set destroys their flask of divine water and kills Thoth by taking his brain. Horus is able to save Hathor and Bek.

Horus admits before the enraged Bek to caring more about his revenge than the mortals. Hathor feels guilt for not exposing the deception and as the Goddess of Love helps the doomed lovers. She sacrifices her own safety for Zaya’s payment into the afterlife by giving Bek the protective bracelet which stops the underworld souls from overwhelming her and calling Anubis (Goran D. Kleut) to take him to Zaya. Therefore, she lets herself be dragged to the underworld while Horus realizes that he still loves her.

Having obtained Thoth’s brain, Osiris’s heart, one of Horus’s eyes, and wings from Nephthys (Emma Booth), Set has them combined with himself. Set travels to Ra, appealing to his father for approval and asking why Osiris was favored, while he was denied leadership and children. Ra claims that all of Set’s prior mistreatments were tests preparing Set for his true role: the honor and burden of taking Ra’s place as the defender of the world aboard his solar barge, fighting against the demon Apophis. Set is dismayed to hear his destiny is to be alone above the planet until he dies and refuses. He wants to destroy the afterlife so that he can be immortal. Ra tries to fight him, but cannot as Set has taken the powers of other gods. He then stabs Ra, taking his fiery spear of power, and casts him off the boat freeing Apophis to consume both the mortal and underword realms.

Bek finds Zaya, who refuses Hathor’s gift as she doesn’t want an afterlife without Bek, but then Apophis attacks and the gate to the afterlife is closed. Bek returns to the mortal world, where Horus is amazed that Bek still wants to help take down Set. Bek tells him it was Zaya who told him to, as she still has faith in Horus.

Horus climbs up the outer wall of an obelisk Set is standing on and attempts to battle him, but is heavily outmatched. Bek ascends on the inside and joins the battle, removing Horus’s stolen eye from Set’s armor, being wounded in the process. As Bek slides toward the edge of the obelisk, he throws the eye toward Horus, who must choose to catch it or save Bek instead. Horus reaches for Bek and apologizes for all he has put him through. As they plummet toward the ground, Horus finds that he now has the power to transform into his divine form and he catches Bek and flies him to safety. Horus realizes that it wasn’t the recovery of his eye nor revenge that was his destiny, it was the protection of his people that he needed to fight for. Now, Horus has the strength for battling Set, and he gains the obelisk and kills him. After the battle and Set’s death, he then finds Ra wounded and floating in space, and returns his spear to him, allowing Ra to once again repel Apophis.

As Horus returns to Bek, a child holds out his other eye which she has found, while people cheer him. But Horus’s joy turns to sadness as he arrives to find Bek dying. Horus carries him to Osiris’s tomb and lays him beside Zaya. Ra, his grandfather, arrives and offers to bestow any power on him to repay Horus for his life and Egypt’s survival. All Horus wants is bringing Bek and Zaya back to life. The other gods are also revived and have their attributes restored. Horus is crowned king by Thoth and declares the afterlife will be for those who do good in the world. Bek is made chief advisor, and he gives Horus back Hathor’s bracelet letting Horus leave to rescue her from the underworld.

REVIEW:

There are plenty of movies and TV shows dealing with the Greek/Roman gods, as well as the legends of Norse mythology, but we don’t get much from ancient Egypt. This is where Gods of Egypt comes in. A film that will hopefully not be an insult to the proud and storied culture of the Egyptians.

What is this about?

In this epic tale inspired by Egyptian mythology, Horus, the god of the sun, vows to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Set, the god of darkness. As Horus joins forces with the goddess of love and a mortal thief, a mighty battle takes shape.

What did I like?

Take a look. Regardless of what I may or may ultimately think of this film, I must say that it is a feast for the eyes. I will never be a fan of CG, but the way it is used, especially in the fight scenes and Ra’s boat, one would almost start singing the praises of the medium. The shiny metal armor may not be everyone’s thing, but given that this isn’t our ancient Egypt, but rather an alternate one, I can accept it.

Creative direction. Speaking of that armor, that was just one of the ways this film strays from what we know as the source material. I am not well versed in Egyptian mythology, but I do know the basics and, for the most part, the characterizations were kept close. However, liberties were taken with characters such as Thoth. We didn’t see a giant bird, but instead, we get a rather flamboyant and egotistical Chadwick Boseman (thank goodness he’s using a better accent for Black Panther)

Buddy. There is something to be said about a good buddy movie. This isn’t one of them. With that said, I did appreciate the attempt at camaraderie between Horus and Bek. The attempts at humor weren’t the greatest, but at least it broke up the monotony of a film that needed something to keep the audience invested. Watching their relationship grow was worth it.

What didn’t I like?

Color me something. What is with casting directors and making movies about Africa or that region over there. Is there just an ingrained stupidity that makes them think everyone was white? Oh, but the slaves, extras, servants, etc were the first ones to be cast as people of color. Excluding Chadwick Boseman’s character, who could be seen as a bit of an offense, as well, there are no people of color in lead/speaking roles for a film based on ancient Egypt. Why is that? Not too long ago, we got Exodus: Gods and Kings, which had a similar casting problem. Was nothing learned?!? Back in the day, it was custom for white actors and actresses to play other races, but look at the times and racial atmosphere back then. Even with the racial strife and tension we have today, it isn’t that bad and we should  get more accurate casting when it comes to things like this. I guess there is one bastion to go along with my slight tirade. The forthcoming Black Panther movie, coincidentally starring Boseman, is set in a fictional country in Africa and has yet to cast anyone not of color. So, maybe they’re starting to learn.

Blood brother. Let me stay on color for a bit longer. The opening narration mentions that the gods have this golden blood, yet we don’t see it until the very end when Gerard Butler is crawling away. As I was looking at it, I couldn’t help but think, it that was some kind of real golden blood, it wouldn’t look like the coloring was just put into it. Come on people, you need to put more work into the little things!

Riddle me this. When I was growing up, there was a Saturday morning cartoon called Kidd Video. Some of you may recall it. If not, type it into youtube and watch how trippy the 80s were for animation. Anyway, one of the episodes I remember best was when the Sphinx appeared and the group had to answer a riddle. What does this have to do with anything? Well, even on another world, the Sphinx still had its trademark look. Not so much the case here. As I mentioned before, liberties were taken with design and whatnot, but some things should just be left alone, like the Sphinx!

Final verdict on Gods of Egypt? This is a film that is not going to win any fans. It doesn’t have the star power (sorry Gerard Butler) to put people in the seats, the story isn’t that strong, and everything else about it is just average, at best. That being said, I still had fun watching and couldn’t turn away. This isn’t a bad film, but it isn’t a good film either. I’m having a hard time deciding whether to recommend it or not. I guess if you want to see what a live action SilverHawks flick would look like, then yes, I recommend it.

3 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 10/20

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on October 20, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

I know more than a few people who seem to have a fear of spiders, so in honor of them, this week’s trailer is for Arachnophobia

Teacher’s Pet

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on October 13, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Hard-nosed newspaperman Jim Gannon (Clark Gable) pretends to be a night-school student to woo journalism teacher Erica Stone (Doris Day) in this romantic comedy. Forced by his editor to do a story on journalism courses, Gannon attends a lecture and is taken with the lovely Erica. He assumes a new name, enrolls in her class and tries to romance her, but first he has to get Erica’s smarty-pants fiancé (Gig Young) out of the picture.

What people are saying:

“Oldie but a goody. A die hard newspaper editor and a news teacher clash together. Two opposite sides of the idea how a newspaper should be run.” 5 stars

“Clark Gable in the autumn of his career and Doris Day right in the middle of hers, it shouldn’t work, but it does. Special mention goes to the late great Gig Young. He steals the film for me.” 3 stars

“Great classic film, with true acting and honesty. I am in love with Gables false dull wit and charm. And this was hands down hilarious, but in scintillating witty way. Believable romance too, beautifully written. A great story that highlights the value of education and experience” 5 stars

“Doris Day hardly comes to mind when you think of Gable’s great on-screen loves, but somehow this really works. Gable is exceedingly believable. A few laughs along the way, and you can call this one a pretty good time.” 3 stars

“A fun movie, one of Clark Gable’s better later efforts. Doris Day is well cast and does a fine job. They work surprisingly well together. Gig Young steals the show though, in a supporting role. Very entertaining. ” 3 1/2 stars

Trailer Thursday 10/13

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on October 13, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

There was a time, in the not so distant past, where families would sit down and watch shows and movies on television, people weren’t scared of clowns, and society presidential candidates were actual worthy choices.

One of the better miniseries that came on the boob tube, and is generally attributed to everyone’s fear of clowns was Stephen King’s “It”

Check out the trailer for it…and let’s not mention the bastardized remake that is coming out soon!