Frank

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), an aspiring songwriter, witnesses a man trying to drown himself while walking along the beach of his town. The man is taken to the hospital and Jon talks to Don (Scoot McNairy), who explains the man was a keyboardist in an experimental band, the Soronprfbs, managed by him. Jon mentions that he plays keyboards and is invited to play with them that night. Jon goes along and meets the rest of the band, all of whom are reluctant about Jon, except Frank (Michael Fassbender), the band leader who wears a papier-mâché mask. The concert goes well, until Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) breaks her theremin and storms offstage.

Frank invites Jon to become a full-time member. He accompanies them to Ireland, where they will record their first album in a remote cabin for the next year. Clara is very antipathic towards Jon, and continually torments him for being mediocre and having no talent.

Don explains to Jon that he wanted to be a songwriter too, and just like Jon lacked talent and was terrible. He plays a song for Jon, who compliments it. Don tells Jon that Frank is special, and that eventually Jon will believe that he either can be Frank or could at least be like him, but that it is impossible because Frank is unique. Don implies that this realization will hurt Jon the most, and that this is what is causing Don to be depressed himself. However, Jon feels that if he could just have hard experiences that he assumes Frank had (with his mental illness and believed hard childhood) that it would fuel him and get him to take the next step in his creativity. Jon believes that his time with the band will be the catalyst that will make this happen.

The morning after they complete recording of their album, Jon finds Frank’s corpse hanging from a tree. He calls the rest of the band down and they remove the mask, only to find it was Don wearing Frank’s mask. Don is cremated and Jon is told that Don was the first keyboard player for Frank. Jon realizes that every keyboard player the band has had some kind of mental breakdown.

Afterwards, Jon reveals he has been posting the band’s recording sessions online. The Soronprfbs have gained a small following and have been invited to South by Southwest. Clara is against going to South by Southwest, and accuses Jon of manipulating Frank and giving him delusions of grandeur. During one of their fights, Clara and Jon’s hatred for each other turns into passion and they end up having sex, but Clara tells Jon that he disgusts her and they will never be together again. However, Frank wants to be popular and to create “extremely likable music” so he decides to go; Clara warns Jon that if things go badly in Austin she’ll stab him.

Upon arrival in Texas, Jon, Frank and Clara scatter Don’s ashes, but realize Baraque accidentally packed a canister of powdered food instead of the ashes. Afterwards, the band travels to Austin, while signing up for South by Southwest Jon and the band discover that they aren’t as popular as they thought, and that the crowd will have no idea who they are and will have never listened to their music before. Upon hearing this, Frank starts to become erratic and has a panic attack. Clara sees the changes in Frank and knows that he can’t handle this situation, so she pleads with Jon to help convince Frank to not perform and go back to their unknown status. Jon refuses and works with Frank to try to create a more likeable version of their songs. On the day before the concert, Clara and Frank disappear. Jon finds them in an alley where Clara is trying to calm Frank and get him to agree to leave.

Jon convinces Frank to ignore Clara and to do the gig. Clara stabs Jon in the leg and is later arrested by the police. Back at the hotel room Drummer Nana (Carla Azar) and guitarist Baraque (Francois Civil) accuse Jon of getting rid of Clara and quit the band. Jon and Frank become a duo. As they go onstage, Jon announces that it’s the best day of his life and begins singing one of his own songs. Frank falls over and when Jon rushes over to him to check on him, Frank tells Jon that his music is bad, suffering a nervous breakdown. Frank passes out on stage with Jon trying to revive him. The next day, Jon attempts to reason with Frank and tries to remove Frank’s head. A panicked Frank runs out of the motel room and is hit by a car. Jon gives chase but realizes Frank has escaped, leaving only remains of the mask behind. Jon subsequently gets hit by a car.

Sometime later, Jon has attempted to track down Frank, but all his attempts have failed. However, he finds a bar where Clara, Nana, and Baraque are now playing. Jon finally succeeds in tracking Frank to his hometown of Bluff, Kansas, where he is living with his parents. They explain that Frank has had mental health issues all his life and began wearing the mask as a teenager. Jon questions Frank’s parents about his childhood. They tell Jon that Frank had a loving family and a happy childhood. Jon realizes that there was no traumatic event in Frank’s life that inspired Frank to become a musical genius and his mental illness never propelled him but limited him. Jon now sees that Frank’s amazing talents aren’t from traumatic events or from his illness, that Frank’s genius was just inherent, and that he will never be able to be like him; just as Don had told him. Jon finally sees Frank without a mask, only to see a despondent man with scars on his face and bald spots on his scalp from the prolonged use of the mask. Jon apologies to Frank for ruining the band and trying to take off his mask. He then takes Frank to the bar where the band is. Frank begins to speak and they realize who he is. He begins singing and joins them onstage while Jon leaves the bar.

REVIEW:

Ever flip through a bunch of movies and there is that one image, be it good, bad, or gruesome, that just grabs your attention? Well, that is what Frank did for me. I saw this giant Morel Orel looking head on a guy and had to see what was going on.

What is  this about?

An aspiring musician joins a band of eccentrics led by an enigmatic singer — who wears a fake head — and his unstable girlfriend.

What did I like?

Performance art. Musicians are an eccentric bunch of individuals. Trust me, I am one! I can appreciate that this film takes the time to develop each of their individual eccentricities, such as Frank’s head, the French couple’s um…Frenchiness?, and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s instability. Let us not forget our main character’s insecurity. All of these quirks work to give each character some individuality, rather than having a couple of lead characters and glorified extras.

Maggie. There was a time when I had a crush on Maggie Gyllenhaal. I think it was because the girl I was dating at the time was obsessed with her brother, Jake. While I’ve moved on from her, I am always glad to see her pop up in stuff. This role seems to be the kind of indie stuff that made her a star, which is great to see again.

Theremin. Ok, raise your hand if you have ever heard of a Theremin? I don’t see many hands raised, but I would be willing to bet dollars to pesos that you have all heard it before, especially if you’ve watched classic alien sci-fi stuff such as The Day the Earth Stood Still or listened to the theme from the original Star Trek series. Man, I love how they incorporated such an underrated instrument into this film!

What didn’t I like?

SXSW. I’ve never been to South by Southwest (which just wrapped up this weekend, btw), so I can’t speak from personal experience, but it does seem to me that a band that is coming up the way Soronprfbs was would have developed a fan base, especially with the Youtube videos. Otherwise, one must question if it really is that easy to get a SXSW invite.

Music. I’ll admit that I was not blown away by the music the band was churning out. Shouldn’t a band have songs that people want to hear, rather than just some random sayings put to a beat. They might as well have been a garage band with that kind of stuff. I guess when your frontman is a guy with a giant cartoon head, you can forget everything else, right?

Dry tone. This genre of films, especially when coming from the indie world, is not known for being anything fun or exciting. I wish I could say that this changed that perception, but it didn’t. As the film went on, I did not find myself invested in any of the characters, aside from the curiosity about Frank, which quickly subsided. Had there been a more jovial tone to this flick, perhaps it wouldn’t have felt so dry and uninteresting.

Final verdict on Frank? It is most definitely an indie drama, make no mistake about that. For me, I think this is a film that took itself too seriously and could have done with a bit of levity. Still, there are some great performances and a story that needed to be told when all is said and done. I suggest you take a few minutes and let the film marinate in your brain before making a decision on where you like it or not. Do I recommend it? Yes, it is worth a shot, so try it out!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Blended

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Divorcee Lauren Reynolds (Drew Barrymore), who has two sons, Brendan (Braxton Beckham) and Tyler (Kyle Red Silverstein), meets Jim Friedman (Adam Sandler), a widower with three daughters, Hilary (Bella Thorne), Espn (Emma Fuhrmann), and Lou (Alyvia Alyn Lind) on a blind date. The date ends in disaster due to conflict between Jim’s clumsy and careless attitude and Lauren’s perfectionist nature.

Later, Jim and Lauren run into each other at a pharmacy; Jim for tampons for his daughter Hilary and Lauren for an adult magazine for Brendan. Afterwards, Jim realizes that their credit cards were mixed up, due to them exchanging products to avoid embarrassment, and goes to Lauren’s house to switch them back. There, he and Lauren learn that Lauren’s friend Jen (Wendi McLendon-Covey) has broken up with her boyfriend Dick (Dan Patrick), who happens to be Jim’s boss, over his having kids, and that they will no longer be going on a planned African vacation together. Unbeknownst to each other, Jim and Lauren both arrange to go on the pre-booked vacation with their families. When they arrive in Africa the two families are surprised to see each other. Things get more awkward when Jim and Lauren are given a romantic suite.

The families are put together for a “blended familymoon”, where they get together with other couples, including the oversexed Eddy (Kevin Nealon) and Ginger (Jessica Lowe), as well as Eddy’s teenage son Jake (Zak Henri), who Hilary develops a crush on at first sight.

The kids make an awkward impression with each other, with Brendan calling his mom “hot,” and the others not knowing how to react to Espn acting like her mom is there with her. Over time, they begin to bond with each other and each other’s parents.

Jim makes the boys happy by helping them with adventurous sports, while Lauren takes care of the girls, and helps Hilary to change her tomboy look into a more feminine one. Jim and Lauren warm up to each other as time passes. They inadvertently get together for a couples massage and have fun with each other.

On the last night of the trip, Lauren puts on a beautiful black dress that she admired earlier. She wears it that evening and receives admiration from everyone. While the children are pulled away for a kids-only buffet, Jim and Lauren are sat down for a romantic dinner, which Lauren soon discovers was actually planned by Jim specifically for her. They chat briefly about basic parenting techniques and then pull in for a kiss; however, at the last second, Jim pulls away, apologizing and explaining that he “can’t do it”.

After returning home, Jim realizes he misses Lauren and that he’s fallen in love with her. Although Espn is not fully ready to move on from her mother’s passing, she also doesn’t want her dad to lose Lauren. At the kids’ behest, Jim goes to Lauren’s house to give her flowers, only to find Mark there, pretending to be back with Lauren. Tyler gets excited to see Jim and wants to play ball, but Jim sadly leaves and Mark bails on his son again. Mark later tries to make a move on Lauren, but she refuses since he has continuously failed to be a good father, as well as having an affair with his receptionist during their marriage.

That following Saturday, Lauren and Brendan go to support Tyler at his game, along with Jen, Dick, who Jen has worked things out with, and his kids. Mark, once again, is a no-show. Jim and his daughters arrive to show encouragement, inspiring Tyler to hit the ball. Jim then finds Lauren and they admit to wanting to be together, and they finally kiss, to the happiness of their kids.

REVIEW:

Adam Sandler can’t catch a break from critics. It seems that the same people who were lapping up his films in the late 90s and early 2000s, when he was at the top of his game, are now the same people who can’t stand his movies. Isn’t it funny how fickle people can be? Sandler is no dummy, though. In an effort to appease the critics, he has reunited with his costar from two of his most enduring films, Drew Barrymore, for Blended.

What is this about?

In this romantic comedy, Jim and Lauren find themselves on a dreadful blind date. Afterwards, the two single parents cross paths once again — but this time at a vacation resort with their kids in tow.

What did I like?

Toned down. Adam Sandler is known for being one of the most successful manchildren (in that the plural of that word?) in Hollywood. These days, his films still have that humor that brought to the big screen after leaving Saturday Night Live, but he seems to be wishing he could do more. This seems to be one of those films that lets him stretch out a bit. The role is a bit more dramatic for Sandler and the comedy, while still potty humor, isn’t as prevalent. Can our boy be growing up?

Usual suspects AWOL. I like Sandler’s usual cache of stars as much as the next guy. Some of them may not have careers if not for their friendship with Sandler, if you think about it. That being said, sometimes you just have to break away, if only for a film or two. Think about how attached at the hip Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were and now look at them. Not having Sandler’s buddies in this film might actually have been a good thing, or he may have just saved all that money and threw it at Drew Barrymore.

Chemistry. Speaking of Drew, I don’t think there is anyone that has better chemistry with Sandler than her. This is I believe their third film together. Watching them, you wonder why they haven’t done more. Once the awkwardness of the plot settles in, it is just like watching two old friends get together and have a good old time. Also, if you’ve noticed in most of Sandler’s films, he tends to have a woman who is hot and half his age, Jennifer Aniston and Salma Hayek being the exceptions. Drew is the only woman for him in the flick and, to quote her son, “my mom is hot!” I’m a little biased, though, because I’ve had a crush on her since the 80s.

What didn’t I like?

Vacation time. Ironically, the trend of Sandler’s films being a vacation for he and his friends seems to have started back with 50 First Dates, which also starred him and Drew Barrymore. I’m not here to judge the guy. If he’s able to pull that kind of weight around, then fine, but it does seem rather odd that he seems to be making films for the sole purpose of taking a vacation. I’m half expecting soon to get something set at Mt. Rushmore or the Grand Canyon

Predictable. If you can’t tell what happens in this film within the first 10 minutes, then I don’t know what to tell you. This is a sweet and charming picture, but everything is so predictable. We know what is going to happen to our stars, what’s going to happen with the kids, etc. Nothing comes as a surprise. Would I change the ending? No, but I would take away some of the predictability. I was reading some comment somewhere that said this should have had a bleak ending. *SIGH* I’ve said my piece on dark ending in another post and won’t go into it here other than to just say no.

Crews’ crew. Someone tell me why Terry Crews hasn’t been in a superhero film yet? The man has the build for it! Luke Cage would have been perfect, but I think age played a role in that. Can you imagine him and Michael Jai White together in something? Anyway, in this film he is some sort of singer. As an over the top character, its just fine, but the constant minstrel show aspect didn’t really work, perhaps because they wore the audience down with Crews, who really is funny in his small role.

What can I say about Blended to sum everything up? Well, it is like this generation’s Brady Bunch, just not as clever. Whoever thought that it would be a good idea to put Sandler and Barrymore back together needs to get a raise. That said, this film could be better with a touch up to the script and some more realistic looking African scenery. Do I recommend this? As a date flick, it isn’t bad, but as a film to just watch, it isn’t anything to write home about. Watch at your own discretion.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Non-Stop

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is an alcoholic U.S. Air Marshal; he enrolled in the Air Marshal Service after he was discharged from the New York City Police Department. On a Boeing 767 non-stop flight from New York to London aboard British Aqualantic Flight 10, midway over the Atlantic Ocean, Marks receives text messages on his secure phone stating that someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred into a specific bank account.

Breaking protocol, Marks consults with Jack Hammond, the other Air Marshal on the flight. Hammond is revealed to be smuggling cocaine in a briefcase. Marks confronts Hammond and the two get into an argument that results in an altercation. Marks ends up killing Hammond during the fight in a lavatory, justifying it as self-defense. This occurs exactly at the 20 minute mark, resulting in the first death. As Marks attempts to stall for time with the texter, he works with Nancy Hoffman (Michelle Dockery), a flight attendant, and Jen Summers (Julianne Moore), a passenger seated next to Marks, to discover the texter’s identity. When the next 20 minutes expires, the Captain (Linus Roache) suddenly dies, presumably of poisoning.

Back in the U.S., the media and the public becomes convinced that Marks is hijacking the plane, as the bank account is in his name and a passenger uploads video footage of Marks treating passengers aggressively and that video is broadcast on television. Co-pilot Kyle Rice (Jason Butler Harner) has been instructed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ignore Marks and land in Iceland, the closest destination; he diverts the plane but continues to cautiously trust Marks. Cell phone programmer Zack White, a passenger on the plane, is asked by Marks to design a hack which will cause the texter’s cell phone to ring. It is discovered in the pocket of passenger Charles Wheeler, who claims to have never seen the phone before. After being physically subdued by Marks during the interrogation, Wheeler dies in a similar fashion to the Captain (with symptoms of poisoning.)

In the lavatory, Marks finds a hole in the wall that allowed someone to shoot a poison dart at the Captain; he finds that Wheeler was struck with a dart as well. While Marks and Summers try to gain access to the texter’s phone, it suddenly activates, sending automated messages to the TSA implying that Marks is suicidal and is going to detonate a bomb on the plane.

Marks finds the bomb hidden in the cocaine smuggled by Hammond. Passengers attempt to disable Marks, convinced he is a terrorist. They overpower Marks, but passenger Tom Bowen uses Marks’ gun to make them move away. Marks finally explains the situation, and they agree to work with him.

Unable to land the plane in time, he attempts to initiate a protocol of least damage: by descending the plane to 8,000 feet to equalize air pressure, placing the bomb in the rear of the plane, covering it with baggage and moving the passengers to the front to contain the explosion, and minimizing casualties. As the protocol goes into effect, a fighter jet escort joins the airliner and warns that if it descends into civilian airspace, it will be shot down.

Watching a video clip of himself handling passengers, Marks notices Bowen—whom he had initially cleared of any suspicion—slipping the texter’s phone into Wheeler’s pocket. Realizing that Bowen is the culprit, he learns that Bowen’s father was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that he and White are ex-military. Appalled by the lack of security at U.S. airports after 9/11, Bowen believes framing an air marshal as a terrorist will lead to drastically increased security. Bowen is prepared to die with the plane and shoots White, who planned to parachute off with the money, after Marks persuaded White to disarm the bomb. As Bowen prepares to shoot Marks, Rice disregards orders from his fighter jet escort and descends, giving an advantage to Marks in the following fight where he kills Bowen with a head shot. Still alive from Bowen’s shot, White then attacks Marks but is also defeated. Immediately afterwards, Marks escapes from the blast radius of the bomb just in time, while White is killed by the detonation.

Rice manages an emergency landing at an air base in Iceland after the bomb explodes. The plane is damaged in the landing, but no one else dies. Marks is hailed as a hero in the media, and he and Summers begin a friendship

REVIEW:

Ever since 9/11, traveling by air has been…an experience, to say the least. I can’t attest to that first-hand since I have a deathly fear of heights and flying, but I can live vicariously through film, right? The fears and paranoia of the public are on full display in Non-Stop, but with Liam Neeson and his particular set of skills (the man is a Jedi and trained Batman for goodness sakes!!!), I’m sure this plane is safe and that this is an enjoyable action thriller…hopefully.

What is this about?

On a commercial flight at 40,000 feet, federal air marshal Bill Marks starts receiving text messages from a threatening blackmailer who claims he’s on the airplane too. Can Marks identify his camouflaged adversary before he begins killing passengers?

What did I like?

Technology. This is a day and age where technology is everything, specifically cell phones, so why not have a film that used them as a way of communication during a terrorist plot? I especially liked how we were able to see what was being said and the cracked screen of one of the phones. It was a nice little touch that I’m sure some overlooked, but I really appreciated.

Action, as promised. There was a time when Liam Neeson was a celebrated dramatic actor. Anyone remember those days? Well, nowadays, we all know him as an action star, and with good reason. I’ll give you that this film doesn’t have as much action as some of his other films, but when it gets going, it gets going! What else do you expect in a plane that has a bomb and random passengers dying every 20 minutes?

Diversity. Someone mentioned to me that this is perhaps the most realistic looking group of passengers seen on screen to date. This was told to me before I actually watched the film, so I was scratching my head wondering wtf?!? I see now what they were talking about, though. All races, creed, sex, nationality, size, and shape are on this plane and, aside from our stars, none of them look like they are movie stars, so kudos to the casting director for making this happen.

What didn’t I like?

Trust. Why is it we believe everything we see on tv? At one point in the film, Neeson’s character is accused of hijacking the plane, setting the bomb, etc., and the news feed it broadcast on the screens on the plane, which causes the passengers to turn on him and/or fear him. What is the cause behind all this? Two things. First, the actual culprit has had money transferred to Neeson’s account and second, some guy on the plane has been recording him “abusing” people on the plane and has been uploading it the whole time, giving the news “evidence”. I guess we, as a society, really are the gullible to be swayed so easily.

Lupita. Academy-Award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o appears as a flight attendant. That really is all she does, appear. I think she speaks a couple of non-important lines here and there, but the rest of the time, she may as well have been a glorified extra. I have two school of thought on this. First is, more than likely, this was filmed before she won her Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, so she was still a nobody. In which case, her role suits her. On the other hand, I believe this was filmed and released afterwards, so there really is no reason she couldn’t have been given a bigger role, or at the very least had a few more lines inserted in.

Protocol. I will never understand how military protocol dictates that a plane, which has a bomb that could kill 150 or so innocent people, has to stay in the air, rather than landing so that bomb experts can disarm it and the people can be safe. Is there something I’m missing here? True, 150 lives are nothing compared to billions, but loss of life is still loss of life, especially if it can be prevented!

Was Non-Stop as non-stop as the title indicated? The opening 30 minutes or so were a bit on the slow side, which is to be expected from this type of picture, but from there on, it steadily picked up the pace. My issues with this film are actually miniscule, but that doesn’t mean it is a perfect flick. Some have said that it is cartoonish, but I didn’t get that vibe and actually found it to be smart, fun, and entertaining. Do I recommend it? Yes, I do, very highly in fact. Check it out, when you get the chance!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 3/12

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on March 12, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

I was talking to a young lad the other day about some of his favorite movies and was surprised that he didn’t say any of the films released in the past 10-15 years. As a matter of fact, his favorite is one that not many people know about, but I have a great nostalgia for, The Adventures of the American Rabbit!

Check out the trailer!

Surprised a 7 yr old has that as his favorite? What did you think

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mr. Peabody is a gifted anthropomorphic dog, dedicating his life to science and technological discovers after failing to be taken as a pet. He adopts a 7-year-old boy, Sherman, after finding the child orphaned. He tutors Sherman through a series of adventures throughout history with the use of the WABAC, a time machine.

With Sherman growing older, Mr. Peabody enrolls him at the Susan B. Anthony School in New York City. Sherman’s first-hand knowledge of historical events leads to conflict with a bully, Penny Peterson, and when she teases him in the cafeteria, he bit her. Mr. Peabody is called in, informed of the incident by Principal Purdy, and is told by Ms. Grunion, a Child Protective Services agent that she will be reviewing Mr. Peabody’s care of Sherman in an upcoming home inspection, threatening to remove the boy from Peabody’s custody if Peabody is not proven to be a good parent.

Mr. Peabody arranges for the Petersons to visit during the home inspection as a way to make up to them and to help impress Ms. Grunion when she arrives. While Mr. Peabody entertains Penny’s parents, she convinces Sherman to take her to see the WABAC to prove out his first-hand knowledge of history, despite Mr. Peabody’s instructions to keep the machine a secret. Sherman is coaxed into taking Penny into the past, and accidentally strands her in Ancient Egypt, as she wanted to stay. Sherman, returning to the present, informs Mr. Peabody of the problem, and after temporarily brainwashing Penny’s parents, he joins Sherman. They rescue Penny, who is much more willing to come after learning she would be killed and entombed with the young King Tut when he dies.

The WABAC runs out of power on the way back, but Mr. Peabody is able to get them to Renaissance Florence where they meet his old friend, Leonardo da Vinci. While Mr. Peabody and da Vinci construct a machine to restore power to the WABAC, Penny and Sherman explore da Vinci’s attic, finding his flying machine. Penny again goads Sherman to fly it, which he manages to do before crashing it. Though da Vinci is thrilled the device works, Mr. Peabody is upset at Sherman for disrespecting his orders. With the WABAC recharged, the three attempt to return to the present, but a black hole forces them to make an emergency landing during the Trojan War. Sherman, already upset, runs off and joins the armies of King Agamemnon as they prepare the Trojan Horse. During the ensuing battle, Sherman is trapped on the Horse as it about to fall off a cliff, but Mr. Peabody is able to rescue him, though appears to die as the Horse topples over the side.

Sherman, aware that encountering other versions of themselves can damage the time stream, sends the WABAC to a few minutes before they left in the present as to get Mr. Peabody’s help to fix everything. As Sherman and Penny try to explain everything, Sherman’s earlier self shows up as well as Ms. Grunion. Seeing the confusion, Ms. Grunion attempts to collect both Shermans. Mr. Peabody, furious, bites Ms. Gruinion, who calls the cops and grabs both Shermans, causing them to touch and merge into one – this action creates a rip in the space-time continuum that opens over Mr. Peabody’s penthouse, sending historical figures falling onto the present. Mr. Peabody and Sherman race for the WABAC, but find they cannot travel back into time as all the paths lead back to the present.

Unable to stop the rip, the WABAC falls back to the ground, and cops quickly surround the vehicle and Animal Control is called in to restrain Mr. Peabody. Sherman explains that everything was his fault, but admits he admires Mr. Peabody and would rather be called a dog as good as he is, than to be a person. The others, include Penny and her parents, and many of the historical figures they have met agree. Mr. Peabody is given an official pardon by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Bill Clinton. Mr. Peabody and the other historical figures try to figure out how to close the tear when Sherman suggests they travel into the future, which should undo the rip. Mr. Peabody and Sherman take off in the WABAC and successfully undo the damage, with the historical figures being dragged back to the respective times. Ms. Gruinon vows revenge on Mr. Peabody until King Agamemnon grabs her and takes her back to his time. In the epilogue, Sherman returns to school and has made friends with Penny and the other students, with Mr. Peabody proud of the boy he raised.

In the final scene, the time periods are contaminated with modern traits while Ms. Grunion and King Agamemnon are engaged in the Trojan Horse as the Carpet Sweeper follows behind it.

REVIEW:

Well, here we go again, further proof that Hollywood has no more original ideas! This time they reached back and took a segment from The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle to bring us this “amazing” motion picture (note the sarcasm), Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

What is this about?

Resurrected from the 1960s animated series “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” canine genius Mr. Peabody and young Sherman take a dizzying ride through time.

What did I like?

A for effort. I have to give Ty Burrell props, he did his best impersonation of Bill Scott’s original voicing of Mr. Peabody. For those that are too young or haven’t had the opportunity to watch the original, he fits right in. For those of us who are a bit more learned in the ways of Peabody, he is not a replacement, but there are worse voice actors out there that could have been cast.

Follow the time travel rules. Out of the endless number of time travel films out there, all with various rules and whatnot, the one thing that seems to be constant is that you must not (fill in the blank), because it will mess up the space-time continuum. In the original cartoon, I don’t think anyone had even thought of the space-time continuum. I don’t think that became a big thing until Back to Future, anyway. In an attempt to bring this film up to date, they make sure to address that, thus keeping up with the rules.

Pun-ishable. One of the things I remember fondly from the original cartoon and actually hoped would be used greatly in this film were the puns Mr. Peabody would say. While I wish there were more, there were a few to appease fans like me who hungered for puns. Had these puns not been in there, I fear there may have been a riot!

What didn’t I like?

Predictable villains. There is a pattern in today’s animated children’s fare, mostly with the villains. In this case, our antagonist is a child protective services worker. She is bound and determined to prove Sherman doesn’t belong with Mr. Peabody and, I can’t place it, her character design is reminiscent of another film. I want to say the Matchmaker from Mulan, but that’s probably not right. At any rate, all her mean, “do what’s best for the boy” ways do is just cause the near destruction of everything. I think you can figure out how it all works out in the end, though.

Girl, please. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is supposed to be a movie about Mr. Peabody & Sherman, so why is there a girl thrown in the mix? My guess is that some studio did a focus group and felt that little girls needed a character to relate to (as if they don’t already with all the YA movies that are being churned out, not to mention that almost every animated film has a female protagonist…but don’t let me get on a soapbox this evening). The Boxtrolls made this same mistake. There was a good thing going with the boy and his family, then enter the girl and everything changes. Such is life, though.

Origin. Sometimes reading what other people have to say about a film can really open your eyes. I was reading another review of this film earlier today and they brought up an interesting point. When the original series was aired, there was no need for a back story on Mr. Peabody, Sherman, or the WABAC machine. They just existed and we accepted it as such. Personally, I was curious about how Mr. Peabody got Sherman, but I didn’t lose sleep over it. Perhaps this film should have skipped all that and remembered the simplicity of the source material, rather than trying to make things too complex with a convoluted back story about a dog who didn’t get adopted, a boy who was abandoned, and various adventured that we never see. Simple is almost always better.

Surprisingly, I liked Mr. Peabody & Sherman much more than I had any right to. That being said, I still do not believe this film should have been made. The original cartoon was maybe 5 minutes long and in that time kids learned, were entertained, and got an entire story. This thing is nearly 90s minutes and I feel unfulfilled. Chalk this up to the scores of films based on children’s properties from yesteryear that just don’t work unless in their original medium. Let’s hope that the rumors of Commander McBragg are false. I don’t want to see his legacy tarnished, either. Do I recommend this? If you have kids or are nostalgic, then it is worth a viewing or two, but after that, it just becomes torturous drivel that is best steered away from.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 3/5

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on March 5, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

When I look at all the classic films that I love, many of them star Gene Kelly. I’ve even been accused of having a “man crush” on him. Ha!

Since it is raining today, I thought I’d share the trailer for one of the best film musicals ever made. Please enjoy the trailer for Singin’ in the Rain

 

The Fly

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , on March 4, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Montreal, Quebec, scientist Andre Delambre is found dead with his head and arm crushed in a hydraulic press. Although his wife Helene confesses to the crime, she refuses to provide a motive and exhibits a number of strange behaviors. In particular, she is obsessed with flies, including a supposedly white-headed fly. Andre’s brother, Francois, lies and says he caught the white-headed fly and, thinking he knows the truth, Helene explains the circumstances surrounding Andre’s death.

In flashback, Andre, Helene, and their son Philippe are a happy family. Andre has been working on a matter transporter device called the disintegrator-integrator. He initially tests it only on small inanimate objects, but eventually proceeds to living creatures, including the family’s pet cat (which fails to reintegrate, but can be heard meowing somewhere) and a guinea pig. After he is satisfied that these tests are succeeding, he builds a man-sized pair of chambers. One day, Helene, worried since Andre has not come up from the basement lab for a couple of days, goes down to find Andre with a black cloth over his head and a strange deformity on his left hand. Communicating with typed notes only, Andre tells Helene that he tried to transport himself, but a fly got caught in the chamber with him, which resulted in the mixing of their atoms. Now he has the head and left arm of a fly, and the fly has his miniature head and left arm, though he keeps his mind.

Andre needs Helene to capture the fly so he can reverse the process. Although she expends great effort in her search, she cannot find it and Andre’s will begins to fade as the fly’s instincts take over his brain. Time is running out, and while Andre can still think like a human, he smashes the equipment, burns his notes, and leads Helene to the factory. When they arrive, he sets the hydraulic press and motions for Helene to push the button. She activates the press twice – once to crush his head and once to crush his left arm.

The police, hearing this confession, deem Helene insane and guilty of murder. As they are about to haul her away, Andre’s son Philippe tells Francois he’s seen the fly trapped in a web in the back garden. Francois convinces the inspector to come and see for himself. The two men see the fly, trapped in the web, with both Andre’s head and arm, looking terrified. It screams “Help me! Help me!” as a large brown spider advances on the creature. Just as the fly is about to be devoured by the spider, the inspector smashes them both with a rock. Thinking nobody would believe the truth, he and Francois decide to lie about the facts of the case so that Helene isn’t convicted of murder. In the end, Helene, Francois and Philippe resume their daily lives, with Francois explaining to Philippe that Andre died doing the most dangerous act to humanity, but also the most beneficial: “the search for the truth”.

REVIEW:

Have you ever picked a film to watch, thinking that it is the same thing you saw in your childhood, only to find out when you hit play that it isn’t? Well, that is what I just went through with The Fly. When I was little, and my family would take the motor home camping, my dad rented some old movies to watch on the brand new portable VCR (mid-80s, man!) One of these was Return of the Fly. Someday, I’ll watch this again, but for now let’s focus on what I just watched.

What is this about?

Scientist André Delambre (David Hedison) has invented a matter transporter. To perfect his machine, he decides to test the device on a human subject — himself. He steps into the chamber unaware that an ordinary housefly has accompanied him. His head and arm become horrifically switched with those of the fly. Now Delambre and his wife (Patricia Owens) are faced with a gruesome dilemma in this classic sci-fi horror co-starring Vincent Price.

What did I like?

Happiness. In case you didn’t know, this is a tragic story that doesn’t have a happy ending. No spoilers, though. Having said that, you can’t have tragedy without developing happiness. The happy couple of Andre and Helene is shown through their interactions, a date night, and even his excitement at showing her his new invention. You really get a feel at how happy these people are, that it really is a shame to know what is going to happen not long into the picture.

Suspense. In order to really make something special, it needs to be built up. Tease the audience, if you will. Once Andrea has had his accident, we don’t seem his face because it is covered with a towel, he doesn’t speak, other than notes through a typewriter, and his right hand is kept in his pocket. A couple of times we see what has happened to his hand, but the big reveal doesn’t come until later, when Helene takes the towel off his head and lets out a blood curdling scream. Why is this effective? Because the suspense was built up and there was no need for instant gratification. Something that today’s horror films lack.

Descent into madness. I was thinking, just about the time that they brought this up, how is it that Andre kept his intellect with a fly head, and yet can’t speak? As it turns out, it diminished over time to the point that it was gone and he had gone mad. This little bit of explanation makes a huge difference and shows that the filmmakers know that the audience would want an answer.

What didn’t I like?

Pacing. For being a 93 minute movie, it sure does take its time getting to the good stuff. The film opens after a certain crime has happened. From there, one would think we would get a flashback describing what happened, but no! We are forced to sit through a good 20-40 minutes of needless exposition before Helene finally decides to tell her story to the inspector. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more build up of the fly, perhaps more rampage, anything other than sitting through an hour of talking about stuff that really bears no importance or relevance to the plot, save for some murder conspiracies.

Flashback. I have no issue with the flashback, really, just how it was used. As I just said, it seemed like forever and a day before we finally got to the flashback scene and I was almost dozing at the point. This needed to be earlier in the film. What is my exact issue with the flashback, then? It seemed to be done as way for the writers to get out of the corner they had written themselves into, rather than something that was meant to move the story along.

Here, Kitty. Why did he have to experiment on a poor, cute, defenseless kitty? Couldn’t this have been some evil hell-hound whose atoms were scattered into the vastness of neverwhere? This is just more bias against cats!

While not the film I expected to watch this afternoon, The Fly did leave me with the feeling of watching a real classic. I don’t have much to say about this film (and the power seems like it is about to go out any second) other than it is worth a viewing if you get the chance, so check it out!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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