Archive for December, 2016

That’s Entertainment, part II

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , on December 31, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire present more golden moments from the MGM film library, this time including comedy and drama as well as classic musical numbers.

What people are saying:

“Probably the most impressive opening cast credits in the history of cinema – other than Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, they’re all in recycled clips though for this sequel that isn’t just musicals this time. The two hosts do offer something new though with original singing and dancing interludes between the repeats which are a mix of song left on the cutting room floor from the first That’s Entertainment, and other famous scenes from the Hollywood period of filmmaking that is no more. It’s not a bad celebration of what’s come before.” 3 stars

“The organization and hosting by Astaire and Kelly is lacking, but the clips, as always, are priceless. These movies always bring tears to my eyes.” 3 1/2 stars

“Some splendid clips, but the best had already been used up for the first movie. And seeing Astaire and Kelly together again is nice, but a bit unsettling given their ages – especially Astaire who looks like he might snap like a twig if a stiff breeze turns up.” 4 stars

“I enjoyed seeing some classic clips, but I didn’t feel that the movie itself was very good. It’s randomly thrown together with no rhyme or reason. Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire are legends and it is nice to see them clowning around, but a movie like this works better with several people taking turns sharing memories.” 2 1/2 stars

“What a joy to see Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly dancing and singing together again… They are definitely my 2 favorite dancers. If you like musicals this is the movie to watch to find the best of those times… Great continuation to “That’s Entertainment”” 4 stars

That’s Entertainment!

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , on December 31, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

MGM musical numbers from the introduction of sound in the late ’20s through to the 1950s, possibly with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Judy Garland getting the most coverage. Linked by some of the stars who worked at MGM handing the commentary on one to another.

What people are saying:

“‘Boy, do we need it now’ was catchphrase when this MGM musical salute was first released–and it stands even more today.” 5 stars

“That’s entertainment indeed! I do not particularly care for musicals, but when some of the best musical numbers ever made are all pieced together, it is phenomenal. Incredibly interesting and fascinating. Historically important film. Great narration.” 4 stars

“I liked all the compiliations of musicals but it’s pretty much a marathon of shows. I would rather see musicals with plots. ” 1 1/2 stars

“The MGM musical equivalent of a clip show. Some of the edited down sequences make me sad (take note, MGM special edition gnomes), but the overall breadth of material is awesome.” 4 stars

“Sure, it’s just a video compilation piece, no different than something the History Channel might’ve produced, but if one has grown up watching the films in this compilation it transforms before your eyes, assuming the teary qualities of a deathbed goodbye of a hypochondriac, weakly whispering “remember the good times when …” into your ear. You know that they’re not dying, but nonetheless feel the strings of your heart pulled anyway and have to admire the work of a master manipulator despite yourself.” 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 12/29

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on December 29, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Today’s trailer honors a true Hollywood legend, Debbie Reynolds, who passed away this morning, barely 24 hours after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, a legend in her own right.

Take a moment and check out the trailer for The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Hail, Caesar!

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

PLOT:

Four-time Oscar (R)-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo) write and direct Hail, Caesar!, an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

What people are saying:

“The Coen brothers transcend genre, from noir to thriller to dark comedy, they can nail it. But I particularly enjoy their takes on farce (especially when George Clooney is involved). This movie is not perfect, but I laughed out loud throughout, particularly when everyone embraced the silliness of the story as part of the whole point. It may not be the Coen brothers’ best ever, but it doesn’t have to be to be enjoyable.” 3 1/2 stars

“Hail, Caesar! is great fun. Lively jabs at organized religion, Hollywood and the power structure. The cast must have had a blast during filming. Anyone who is interested in Hollywood in the 50″s blacklist era should enjoy. ” 4 stars

“A silly, jumbled, yet consistently entertaining chapter in the Coen Brother’s directorial saga, “Hail, Caesar!” commends the golden age of Hollywood with a star studded cast and an eye for historical detail. ” 3 1/2 stars

“If you love montages of old films(specifically from the 50’s) -this is perfect. Between Ethel Merman and Will Rodgers, to the creation of a scene of Ten Commandments. It is funny. I agree that it can be hard to follow at times. But, putting political satire in a movie is not new. Still, the scene with the Soviet submarine is hysterical!!!” 4 stars

“Very intelligent film. The filmakers deal honestly with many subjects. If you are looking for the typical crass Coen Brothers film, this one falls short. It still is iconoclastic but the icons it looks at are those things that are worshiped by a typically disconnected 21st Century intellectual, Take a look and see which icons you would have preferred the filmmakers to have left alone.” 5 stars

Dirty Grandpa

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on December 26, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jason Kelly [Zac Efron] is one week away from marrying his boss’s uber-controlling daughter, putting him on the fast track for a partnership at the law firm. However, when the straight-laced Jason is tricked into driving his foul-mouthed grandfather, Dick [Robert De Niro], to Daytona for spring break, his pending nuptials are suddenly in jeopardy. Between riotous frat parties, bar fights, and an epic night of karaoke, Dick is on a quest to live his life to the fullest and bring Jason along for the ride. Ultimately, on the wildest journey of their lives, “dirty” Grandpa and his uptight grandson discover they can learn from one another

What people are saying:

“The 1980’s called. They want their plot line back. That is the level of humor you will find in this comedy. Great cast, but what were they thinking? Surely at some point during principal photography Rober DeNiro pulled Dan Mazer aside and said, “are you sure we can’t afford a rewrite?” 2 stars

“One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I thought DiNiro had a lot of money and could choose whatever project he cared to do. I have to believe that none of that is true because this was utter and contemptible trash. Not funny and talking dirty doesn’t make up for a lack of talent. I have to believe that both Efron and DeNiro were broke and needed whatever money was given to them for this trash….” 1 star

“I love Zac Efron, and there is plenty of eye candy in this movie as he constantly shows off his bare chest and abs and butt. Unfortunately for Zac this is a very bad movie. I felt uncomfortable the entire movie. Attempts at humor were just vulgar or mean, and there is conflict everywhere. I would have rated it lower, but my husband actually liked the movie, so maybe there is something there that I didn’t see.” 2 stars

“This movie isn’t as bad as so many say it is. It’s plenty raunchy, but just be prepared for that. As some say, plenty of eye-candy in this movie. ” 3 stars

“While the vulgarity of its humor sure as hell won’t appeal to all tastes but for those who’re okay with it, Dirty Grandpa is a funny film which offers a fresh change of pace for Robert De Niro and has more of Zac Efron departing from his typical Disney-boy style performances following Bad Neighbours. It won’t be a film which everyone is going to have a smile on their faces after they’ve watched it but in IMO, it boasts enough laughs to leave those who enjoy off-colour humour entertained throughout.” 3 1/2 stars

Hot Pursuit

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on December 26, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Assigned to protect the sexy widow of a drug kingpin, a straitlaced Texas police detective is forced to take flight with her precious cargo when an assortment of bad cops and ruthless hit men start closing in on the pair.

What people are saying:

“The film relies far too heavily on the reputations of its two leads and there’s very little that surprises throughout the film and it never really even commits to the ‘odd-couple’ dynamic.” 2 stars

“LOVED IT AND DIDN”T hear the F WORD USE one time so refreshing!!! If you enjoy slapstick, odd couples stuff, and silliness, you will probably like this movie. Reese Witherspoon has shown her comic abilities in many earlier films, and she does it again here. Not the best comic I have seen but worth watching and leave you with a big smile at the end” 4 stars

“One of those wannabe-crazy comedies where you almost feel sorry for the stars as they get up to such loudly dorky shenanigans (or you would if they weren’t so annoying)” 2 1/2 stars

“What a huge disappointment. A massive waste of the usually brilliant Reese Witherspoon and further proof that Sofia Vergara has nothing going for her except looks. When she plays something other than than a loud, gobby Latino I might change my mind. But I don’t think subtle is in her repertoire. I had hoped this might be another ‘The Heat’ but clearly I was very much mistaken!” 1 star

“Disappointing as a movie and a comedy. How does the girl growing up in the back seat of her daddy’s cruiser become such a one dimensional, world is black and white idiot? The answer is lazy writing, and the result is the worst performance I have ever seen from Witherspoon. I would expect that girl to not only be an expert on police procedures, but also world-wise and savy to people. Not that she gets all the blame. Rather, her character typifies the rest of the film, which is a poorly written pile of trash that is barely watchable. Rather than comedy, it is more like nails on a chalkboard. If you must watch this, find a way to see it for free, because any money you spend on it is wasted.” 2 stars

Assassin’s Creed

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Convicted criminal Callum Lynch is rescued from his own execution by Abstergo Industries, the modern-day incarnation of the Templar Order, and learns that they are searching for the Apple of Eden, which seeded the first sin, in order to subjugate the human race and end its perceived corruption. The company’s head scientist, Dr. Sophia Rikkin, reveals that Callum is a descendant of Aguilar de Nerha, a member of a secret order of assassins that for centuries have opposed the Templar Order, and conscripts him to the Animus Project, in which Callum is connected to a machine that allows him to revive Aguilar’s memories so Abstergo can learn the current whereabouts of the Apple of Eden.

In Spain, 1492, Aguilar and his partner Maria are deployed to rescue Prince Ahmed de Granada, who has been kidnapped by the leader of the Templars, Tomas de Torquemada, to coerce Prince Ahmed’s father, Sultan Muhammad XII, to surrender the Apple of Eden. Aguilar and Maria intercept the chariot transporting Ahmed, but are then ambushed and captured by Torquemada’s enforcer, Ojeda, just as Callum is pulled out of the Animus by Sophia.

In captivity, Callum befriends other descendants of assassins, led by Moussa, and begins experiencing hallucinations of both Aguilar and his own father, Joseph Lynch, who murdered Callum’s mother while in assassin attire. Callum and Sophia build a rapport over their sessions, in which Sophia reveals herself as the daughter of Abstergo’s CEO Alan Rikkin, and confides with Callum that her mother was likewise murdered by an assassin.

Back in the Animus, Aguilar and Maria are scheduled for execution, but manage to escape, leading to a rooftop chase in which Aguilar performs a Leap of Faith, causing the Animus to malfunction. Callum is then extracted and placed back in captivity, where he learns from Joseph that his and Aguilar’s memories are merging, allowing Callum to tap into Aguilar’s combat abilities, and that Callum’s mother was an assassin and chose to die by Joseph’s hand rather than be subjected to the Animus by the Templars. Meanwhile, Alan is pressured by his superior Ellen Kaye to shut down the Animus Project due to its lack of results, leading Sophia to realize Alan cares more about the eradication of the assassins than using the Apple of Eden to rid the world of violence.

Callum is placed in the Animus once again, whereupon Aguilar and Maria ambush a meeting between Muhammad and Ojeda to exchange Ahmed for the Apple of Eden, killing the Templars and retrieving the Apple of Eden. Ojeda captures Maria to force Aguilar to surrender it, but Maria chooses death and Ojeda fatally stabs her before Aguilar kills him. He then hides the Apple of Eden in the tomb of Christopher Columbus, where it is found by Abstergo. Rikkin and his followers then converge on a Templar sanctuary in London to perform a ritual to harness its powers.

Having assimilated all of Aguilar’s memories and abilities, Callum manages to escape and rallies Moussa and the other descendants to stop the Templars. They attack the sanctuary and Callum comes across Sophia, who has grown disillusioned with the Templars and reluctantly allows them to act. Callum confronts Rikkin and is forced to kill him to retrieve the Apple of Eden, whereupon the assassins depart, vowing to once again protect it. Horrified by her father’s death, Sophia vows revenge upon Callum.

REVIEW:

One of my favorite video game franchises is Assassins Creed, so you can just about imagine how excited I was when this project was announced a few years back. As the years went on, I patiently waited, noting every bit of news that came out and now it is finally here. Was the wait worth it? Does it live up to the esteemed franchise? Is this the first good video game movie since Mortal Kombat? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.

What did I like?

Source material. With Ubisoft, the company behind the Assassins franchise behind this film, it should come as no surprise that the filmmakers adheres very closely to the source material. Not only do we get the basic plot from the games, but easter eggs later on in the film, and a film that judging by the first glance, feels like the game has come to life on the big screen!

Action. If there was something this game had to get right, it was the action. Anyone that has played these games has no doubt spent hours climbing buildings, fighting armies of guards, jumping off rooftops, etc. The filmmakers bring all that to life and then some, though, I argue it could have been more. Still, it was great to see they chose to give us some true assassin action and impressive parkour, things that the franchise is known for having.

Be your own man. I must applaud the choice to not go with Altaïr, Ezio, Edward, or any of the well-known assassins from the game. We’ve come to know these characters as one way in the games, seeing them portrayed differently would likely cause major waves in the internet troll community (as most everything does). I don’t have much to say about Callum Lynch, though, I’m afraid. Perhaps if the planned trilogy goes through and we get to know him better I can comment on his characteristics and such.

What didn’t I like?

No one wants your present. The worst part about playing the AC games is having to play the present day stuff. This stuff, with the exception of the original and maybe the following couple of sequels, is just useless prattle meant to drag out the time spent playing the game. Not really sure why they couldn’t just come up with more missions, rather than forcing us to spend time paying as the most uninteresting man in the world, Desmond Miles. Seriously, who puts in an Assassins Creed game to play in modern day?!? No one! We play these games to go hopping around bygone eras like Renaissance Italy or France during the Revolution. The same strategy applies to this film. 2/3 of it was spent in present day whereas the flashes to the past should have been the focal point, and the present day…well, that train wreck should have been seen as little as possible.

Confusion. One of the most confusing plot devices of the film is the Apple of Eden. Now, it needs to be understood, it took the at least 3 or 4 games to fully explain and develop this thing to the point that we, the player/audience knew what the hell was going on with this seeming unstoppable force, and I’m still not sure I fully got it. That being said, you can’t force that into a 2hr film, and it not be the major plot point, rather than just a device. More time needed to be spent explaining about the Apple, rather than a few mentions here and there followed by Jeremy Irons’ character doing something with it that looked like it would have been bad news for everyone, had that last event not happened (trying to not play spoiler).

You have failed this city. In the final scenes, we see Michael Fassbender’s character take on the skill and characteristics of his ancestor in the present day. Somehow this translates to him thinking he is Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow. Furthering this idea is the fact that he spends most of the film with no shirt on (enjoy ladies!) and, as the inmates escape Abstergo, he grabs a bow and arrow and starts shooting. I half expected him to put on a mask and start barking orders to everyone in a gravely voice, much like Amell does in Arrow.

Final verdict on Assassin’s Creed? There is good, there is bad, and there is ugly. This film has all three at varying points of its runtime. As I was telling the guy sitting next to me after the film ended, this film just took the worst parts of the game and forced it down our throats. That said, this is not without redeeming qualities. It is obvious they want to build a franchise out of this and I’m all for it, but they need to listen to what people want to see and not assume they know what we want to see or the studio will end up losing money. As long as they were working on the film, there is no reason it shouldn’t have been a total blockbuster smash, perhaps even rivaling Rogue One. Instead, we get a film that tried to be the next great video game movie, perhaps coming closer than most, but didn’t make it. My goodness, even with the game studio behind it, it couldn’t be done. *SIGH* So, do I recommend this? Believe it or not, yes I do. I think this is a film that needs to be seen twice, especially for fans of the game. Once, to just watch the film and a second viewing to bitch and moan about all of the things that are wrong with it. No need to rush out and see it, but check it out when you get the chance!

3 out of 5 stars