Von Ryan’s Express

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on July 19, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

At the height of World War II, a group of Allied POWs escapes an Italian prison with the help of an idealistic American leader (Frank Sinatra), whose style clashes with that of his second in command (Trevor Howard). Just a few steps from freedom, the men are captured again — this time by German troops. A series of twists and turns drives them to commandeer the very train that’s transporting them to certain death.

What people are saying:

“super movie about an escape from a pow camp in italy by stealing a train. sinatra is brilliant as the arrogant us fighter pilot leading the brits against the italians and germans. the last scene is an all time classic” 5 stars

“Well made escape film starts out very well drags here and there but is an enjoyable experience overall.” 3 stars

“talk about the Great Escape on trains, Frank Sinatra was great being the hard-headed fighter pilot colonel who chose to escape and not to leave a man behind despite what his British counter-part says about escaping prisoners” 5 stars

“Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard are a great antagonistic couple in Mark Robson’s thrilling war movie. Sinatra is an American pilot who crashes in Italy and is sent to a prison camp where Howard leads the inmates. The two bicker over whether it’s best to hatch escape plans or lie low till the war ends. When Italy surrenders the prisoners seize a train, planning to escape to neutral Switzerland. Much darker than earlier portrayals of WWII, characters are made to do a lot of nasty things which genuinely trouble them. Great downer ending too.” 4 stars

“I liked it but I couldn’t understand the German language. I guess they didn’t have captions when this film was made but all in all I understand the what was happening. This movie was made without all the bad language that is out there in Hollywood in the movie making business. I told you all a movie can be made without all this bad F words that are out there today. The Nazi Germans were evil in WWII, including the Japanese. were very evil” 4 stars

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on July 18, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

While researching the history of a little-known empire, anthropologist Hess Greene comes across an ancient dagger that is shortly used to murder him. When he wakes up unharmed, Greene discovers that he’s developed an acute appetite for human blood.

What people are saying:

“When Spike Lee said he had to crowdfund ‘Da Sweet Blood of Jesus’ because no studio would let him make it, that made us think “Oh, because its going to be a non-commercial, challenging, artistic movie.” But what it actually meant is “No studio would ever allow a filmmaker to actually make a film this embarrassing.” 1/2 star

“Wow, what a hot mess of a movie. The stilted acting, low budget, black empowerment themes layered ironically with black exploitation, and basic gratuitous nudity make it feel like a bad 70’s horror movie for good reason. It is in fact almost a scene for scene copy of the 1973 film Ganja & Hess. I think it would have worked much better if it had been modernized, otherwise why not just watch the original?” 3 stars

“This movie is just terrible. Don’t watch it. The performances are terrible. The movie is too long. The soundtrack leads to awful shifts in tone and it feels as though a lot of the film was left on the cutting room floor. The movie felt too long, but also felt completely unfinished and unsatisfying. How does that work? It doesn’t. ” 1 star

“This movie had a lot of promise. A great backdrop: Martha’s Vineyard. Very good actors and overall creepy theme. However, Spike messed it up with bad directing. The beauty shots were great, but there wasn’t a story or it was told poorly. Quite frankly, I had no idea what was going on. The opening dance sequence didn’t match the film at all. The music score was off and the long church scene was weird and included horrible singers. I’d say the film is watchable but don’t expect it to make sense. Just enjoy the beautiful photography, great African art and lovely clothes. ” 2 stars

“An attempt at a disturbing vampire movie but ends up coming off weirdly racist and needing five hundred less sex scenes” 1 1/2 stars

Revisited: Swordfish

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) is a hacker. Having served time for infecting the FBI’s Carnivore program with a computer virus, he is now on parole but forbidden from touching computers. His alcoholic ex-wife Melissa (Drea de Matteo), who married a rich porn producer and is currently a part time porn actress has sole custody over their daughter Holly, and a restraining order preventing him from visiting the latter. One day, he is solicited by Ginger Knowles (Halle Berry), speaking for her boss Gabriel Shear (John Travolta), for his hacking skills. He goes to meet Gabriel in Los Angeles, where he is put on the spot to crack a secure government server within a minute while simultaneously held at gunpoint and receiving fellatio. Successful, Gabriel offers Stanley $10 million to program multi-headed worm, a “hydra”, to siphon $9.5 billion from several government slush funds.

Stanley begins work, learning that Gabriel leads Black Cell, a secret group created by J. Edgar Hoover to launch retaliatory attacks against terrorists that threaten the United States. He also privately discovers Ginger is a DEA agent working undercover, and further is surprised to discover a corpse that looks like Gabriel. He goes to see Holly home from school but finds he is being followed by FBI agent J.T. Roberts (Don Cheadle), who had previously caught Stanley. Roberts, though monitoring Stanley closely, is more interested in Gabriel as he does not appear on any government database, and after learning that another hacker, Axl Torvalds (Rudolf Martin), had been killed by Gabriel’s men, warns Stanley to be cautious. Stanley opts to secretly code a back door in his hydra that reverses the money transfer after a short period. Meanwhile, Senator Reisman (Sam Shepard), who oversees Black Cell, learns the FBI has started tracking Gabriel and orders him to stand down. Gabriel refuses, and narrowly avoids an assassination attempt ordered by Reisman. Gabriel personally kills Reisman in revenge and continues his plan.

Stanley delivers the hydra to Gabriel and leaves to see Holly, only to find that Gabriel has killed Melissa and her husband and kidnapped Holly, framing Stanley. Stanley has no choice but to participate with the bank heist to get Holly back. Gabriel and his men storm a Worldbanc branch, and secure its employees and customers as hostages and fitting each with ball-bearing-based explosives similar to Claymore mines. When police and FBI surround the branch, Gabriel takes Stanley to the coffee shop across the street to meet with Roberts, but Gabriel spends the time to discuss the film Dog Day Afternoon and the nature of misdirection. Once back in the bank, Gabriel has one of his men escort a hostage to demonstrate the situation. A sniper kills the man, and other agents pull the hostage away from the bank, causing the bomb to detonate, ravaging the buildings and vehicles on the street and killing several people, a scene shown in medias res at the start of the film.

Gabriel instructs Stanley to launch the hydra, and turns Holly over to him once completed. However, Stanley’s back door triggers before they can leave the bank, and Stanley is recaptured while Holly is rescued. Gabriel threatens to kill Ginger, who he knows is a DEA agent, unless Stanley re-siphons the money back to a Monte Carlo bank. Despite doing so, Gabriel shoots Ginger. Gabriel and his men load the hostages on a bus and demand a plane wait for them at the local airport, but while en route, the bus is lifted off by a S-64 Aircrane and deposited on a roof of a local skyscraper. Gabriel deactivates the bombs and departs with his surviving men on a waiting helicopter, which Stanley shoots down using a rocket-propelled grenade from the bus.

Roberts takes Stanley to verify the corpse they found, believing Gabriel was a Mossad agent while there was no record of a DEA agent named Ginger. Stanley recognizes the corpse as the one he discovered earlier and personally realizes that the whole scenario was misdirection. Gabriel had escaped a different route, and Ginger had been wearing a bulletproof vest and was working with Gabriel. Roberts arranges for Stanley to have full custody of Holly, and the two tour the US together. In Monte Carlo Gabriel and Ginger withdraw the money, and later watch as a yacht at sea explodes. Over the film’s credits, a news report describes the destruction of the yacht, carrying a known terrorist, as the third such incident in as many weeks.

REVIEW:

What does it say about a film that has a pretty decent cast, but it mainly known for a scene that last all of 15 seconds? That is the question I asked myself as I sat down to watch Swordfish this afternoon, wondering if the affinity I’ve had for this film in previous viewings is totally based on said scene. Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

Determined to get his mitts on $9 billion in a secret DEA account so he can use it to fight terrorism, rogue agent Gabriel Shear recruits encryption expert Stanley Jobson to hack into the government mainframe.

What did I like?

Big action. Most thrillers aren’t known for their action scenes. With this film, the few scenes that have action are capitalized on. It makes one appreciate the  big payoff, if you will, as opposed to the kind of thing we get from Michael Bay type flicks, where it is non-stop explosions. These action set pieces are set up and executed with pulse pounding precision. It almost makes you wonder what this would have been like had it been a pure action movie.

Boss Travolta. The last time I saw Travolta as a crime boss, it was in The Punisher. He was somewhat believable there, but still felt like he was Travolta. His character in this film, Gabriel, feels like Vincent (his character from Pulp Fiction) survived being shot by Bruce Willis and just snapped. Aside from the weird hair and soul patch, I actually liked his portrayal of this guy. There is a calm on the surface, but also a murderous streak that lies under the surface. Both sides are shown when they need to be and Travolta does a masterful job of keeping those sides contained until the right time.

Hacktivism. There was a movie that came out not too long ago which had Chris Hemsworth as a hacker. It didn’t do much, partially because it had no direction. With Jackman’s hacking, he is doing it for the opportunity to be reunited with his daughter. What gets me though, is how Travolta was trying to convince him that the good of the one outweighs the good of the many.

What didn’t I like?

Miles ahead. Don Cheadle portrays a FBI agent in charge of computer crimes, or something like that. What is my problem with him? Well, he is trying to play a touch, yet cool cop. Nothing wrong with that, except there is no yang to his yin. I feel if one of the other FBI agents would have been his polar opposite, his character would have been more effective.

Techno. Is it me or does every film that has technocrime in it also have techno music? The scene where Jackman is doing his hacking thing, I felt like I was back in college, dancing at the club with some raver chicks. I’m not saying it doesn’t fit, especially for when this film was released. I’m just saying it is more of the same old, same old.

Stick it in. There is no mistaking Halle Berry is a beautiful woman with a gorgeous body. Can you blame her for wanting to show it off? If I’m not mistaken this came before Monster’s Ball, so her saying she “wanted to get used to being nude in front of the camera” is a valid point. However, the short topless scene of hers, in which she earned an extra $5,000, felt shoved in at the last minute. There are a couple of other option for Berry to have dropped her top. The first is at the pool party, where she very easily could have joined the 3 girls skinny dipping, or been seen topless somewhere. The other is in her lingerie scene. No one said she had to be wearing a bra there. At least with these scenes, I wouldn’t feel like I was force-fed a half-naked Halle Berry…that’s what Catwoman is for.

Final verdict on Swordfish? Surprisingly, this film has held up over time. Sure, a few things are dated, but for the most part, this film could be released today and still be as relevant to audiences. That said, I do have some issues with this film, but they are few and far between. When it gets down to it, though, do I recommend this flick? Yes, it is a solid viewing. Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Escape to Witch Mountain

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Tia and Tony are two orphaned youngsters with extraordinary powers. Lucas Deranian poses as their uncle in order to get the kids into the clutches of Deranian’s megalomanical boss, evil millionaire Aristotle Bolt, who wants to exploit them. Jason, a cynical widower, helps Tia and Tony “escape to witch mountain,” while at the same time Tia and Tony help Jason escape the pain of the loss of his wife.

What people are saying:

“A kid’s classic that’s remarkably mature for the age of its intended audience. Kids who have ever felt alienated or isolated will immediately connect with the film’s protagonists. Sadly the buildup is wasted on a weak, anti-climactic ending.” 3 1/2 stars

“One of Disney’s best non-animated movies. One of the first to embrace the whole “alien children” thing” 3 stars

“Ah, 70’s children films, how bizarre and laughable. But then again, I think these movies need to endure just for the sheer sake of quirkiness and bizarreness they bring.” 2 1/2 stars

“A classic Disney adventure that melds all its features together perfectly.” 4 stars

“All time fav movie as a child. I know it lacks in acting and I know it might be a lame premise, but the story was just so charming. And, when you’re a kid, this stuff is amazing!” 5 stars

The Money Pit

Posted in Movie Reviews, Comedy with tags , , , , , , on July 14, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Attorney Walter Fielding (Tom Hanks) and his musician lover Anna Crowley (Shelley Long) are forced out of their home of two years by its owner, Mr. Crowley (who has been on a tour of Europe). With few alternatives, they decide to buy an incredibly cheap fixer-upper on Long Island and do the work themselves. Unfortunately, the couple soon learns that the house is a lemon, intent on eating up all their time and money.

What people are saying:

“Not a bad 80s comedy – very light-hearted, with Tom Hanks playing loveable ditz and Shelley Long his girlfriend. Why they buy this really nice house for so cheap without being suspicious is never answered (& neither is where the money for the repairs comes from) but it obviously stats to fall apart and there’s some pretty funny scenes and physical comedy involved. Hanks at the end of his tether is great value – sometimes forget these were the roles he started with. A nice & easy 90min.” 3 stars

“This is the kind comedy I wish Tom Hanks would go back to! When the tub fall thru the floor…hilarious!” 4 stars

“One of the funniest slap-stick comedies around. It’s just too bad Shelley Long isn’t a better actress. Must-watch viewing for anyone planning to buy a house some day, or anyone that is still ‘fixing up’ their fixer-upper.” 4 stars

“Come on! Sequencial falls accompanied with orchestrated ensembles. How is this not in everybodies favorites? Hanks is a must see. Trust me, several of his situational expressions are priceless.” 4 1/2 stars

“I want that house. Its the first Hanks movie I’ve seen and its one of the best. Well there all the best. But comedy doesn’t come much more than this. This house embarrases the cuple to death. Just sit back and enjoy.” 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 7/14

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

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Rey Herryhausen was a special effects genius. I missed honoring his birthday last month, so I’d like to do it now with the trailer for 20 Million Miles to Earth

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

While sharknado fighter Fin Shepard is in Washington, D.C. to receive a medal of honor from the president, another sharknado strikes, devastating the nation’s capital. Fin and the president work together to defeat the sharks, and the storm unexpectedly subsides. Fearing that April, who is at Universal Orlando with their daughter Claudia and her mother May, is in danger, Fin heads for Florida. On his way there, he encounters a “fognado”, which is stopped by Nova Clarke, his former employee from the first film who has become a hardened sharknado storm tracker, and her partner Lucas Stevens. They stop at a military airport where they get clearance to use a fighter jet to bomb other forming sharknados. Lucas sacrifices himself to blow up a sharknado so Nova and Fin can escape. They detonate a bomb in a sharknado over the Daytona 500 race. After crash landing in Orlando they reunite with April, Claudia and May who have survived the sharknado that has hit the theme park. Realizing that the numerous storms will soon combine into a massive “sharkicane” that will destroy the entire East Coast, Fin calls in a favor from his estranged father, former NASA colonel Gil Shepard, for a risky plan to destroy the storm from space.

Gil, Fin, April, and Nova reach Cape Canaveral and where they plan to use a top-secret Space Shuttle to blow up tanks of rocket fuel into the storm. While Nova clears a path, Gil, Fin and April launch into space where they detonate the external tank, but it fails to stop the wall of sharknados. Gil deploys “Plan B”, activating a Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initiative satellite laser weapon. This time, the sharknados are destroyed, but the beam causes the sharks to propel into space, attacking the shuttle. Fin fights them off using an energy-beam chainsaw; he and April are eaten by two separate sharks which fall back down to Earth. Though the sharks are charred from atmospheric entry, Fin emerges from his shark and discovers that April has too along with their newborn. As the family and Nova reunite, Fin names his newborn son after his father, who has landed on the moon. April is about to recover Fin’s father’s badge when a Shuttle fragment is about to hit her.

REVIEW:

Am I the only one who is a little surprised that these Sharknado movies have made it all the way into a trilogy? Here we are with Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, and one must wonder if this is the end for this franchise, will it keep going, or are we in for a reboot/remake in the next few years. Only time will tell, but for now, let’s see what this is lik, shall we?

What is this about?

Toothy terror bursts from the ocean once more in this third installment of the epic Sharknado story. After devastating Washington, D.C., the airborne shark vortex heads for Orlando, Fla., and its jam-packed theme parks

What did I like?

10. In a rather small part, Bo Derek plays Tara Reid’s mother. This is going to sound a bit mean, but there are some scenes where it looks as if they are sisters or Reid is the mother. Isn’t it amazing what plastic surgery can do, for better or worse? Seriously, though, Derek still looks great and I can mostly buy her as Reid’s mother, so kudos for getting that bit of casting correct.

Better effects. I’ll admit it, these sharks are starting to look a little bit more realistic, as opposed to the Dollar store toys they obviously had been using as models before. Syfy gets some heavy flack for the quality of effects in its films, so perhaps this is them turning the corner…or maybe it is just a few extra $$$ to afford better effects. Whatever the case, I am glad to see them working to improve the product, rather than leaving is stagnant.

Only one place left to go. First, these sharknadoes hit Los Angeles, then they hit New York. Just like with alien invasions, you know once you take out those mega cities, there isn’t much else to do, unless you want to hit Washington, overseas, or just rum amok is space. It appears that if this franchise is going to continue, it will be doing so in space, because that is where the sharks are now. I can’t see a problem with that, actually. This is a franchise that has never taken itself seriously, and by going out in space, the absurdity can continue at an even larger scale!

What didn’t I like?

Too much of a hero. I noticed something going with this film, it tries to have some depth. For instance, on more than one occasion, it is brought up that Fin, Ian Ziering’s character, always has to be the hero. It also is mentioned that the sharks seems to follow him and that only he and his family escape alive. Something that probably should be explored at some point. There was also mention of the sharks being a sign of the apocalypse, but I think that was just a passing mention, rather than a subplot that never went anywhere. Judging by the trailer I just watched for the next film, yes there is going to be a Sharknado 4, it looks like someone else might just get to be the hero.

Out of the water. After crashing a plane, Ian Ziering and Cassie Scerbo (returning from Sharknado) emerge from the water in their swimsuits. Don’t ask me how it is that they managed to not have a scratch on them, and yet their clothes were torn to reveal conveniently hidden swimsuits. Obviously, this was an homage to those James Bond movies where our hero or the girl emerges from the water, but it does make one scratch their head. It just seems so out of place, even for this film!

President. Basketball fans, and the 2 or 3 people out there that are somehow keeping Shark Tank on the air, will know who Mark Cuban is. To me, I can’t see him as the president (yet, I’d pay to have him over the two that are running right now). He just doesn’t seem to fit the bill. I know this is only a movie, but if you look at everyone else that played the president of the US on film, be it fact or fictional character, they look the part. Cuban doesn’t and on top of that, he doesn’t portray leadership to me. I suppose his passion is what won him the vote.

Final verdict on Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! Well, I can see that there was some effort put into this, but that is about it. For the life od me, I couldn’t figure out what the biggest draw here is. Other than David Hasslehoff, no one is a household name. The next biggest star is Chris Jericho! All of this is to say that people still wish to see this flick. Do I recommend it? No, but if it pops up in a Saturday afternoon when you’re flipping through channels, it won’t be the worst thing to cross the airwaves.

3 out of 5 stars

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