Trailer Thursday 8/13

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on August 13, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

More importantly, it’s my birthday!!!

The tradition around here was to watch an Amanda Bynes movie, but I quickly ran out of those.

Last week was Louis Armstrong’s birthday and I totally forgot to acknowledge it, as he is one of the biggest influences on me from the day I first heard him play a few notes.

This week, I’m going into the obscure files to share the trailer for Paris Blues with you. I’m not one for sappy romance and all that, but this looks to at least have some great music (by the great Duke Ellington!!!) and a cast that isn’t too shabby, either. If I can ever find it, I’ll review it!

Let me know what you think of the trailer!

The Saint

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At the Saint Ignatius Orphanage, a rebellious boy named John Rossi refers to himself as “Simon Templar” and leads a group of fellow orphans as they attempt to run away to escape their harsh treatment. When Simon is caught by the head priest, he witnesses the tragic death of a girl he had taken a liking to when she accidentally falls from a balcony.

As an adult, Simon (Val Kilmer)—now a professional thief dubbed “The Saint” for using the names of Catholic saints as aliases—steals a valuable microchip belonging to a Russian oil company. Simon stages the burglary during a political rally held for the company’s owner, Ivan Tretiak (Rade Šerbedžija). Tretiak is a former Communist party boss and a billionaire oil and gas oligarch that is rallying support against the Russian President. Simon is caught in the act by Tretiak’s son Ilya (Valery Nikolaev) but escapes with the microchip. After learning of the heist, Tretiak contacts Simon and hires him to steal a revolutionary cold fusion formula discovered by American electrochemist Emma Russell (Elisabeth Shue). He wishes to acquire Emma’s formula—which creates clean, inexpensive energy—so he can monopolize the energy market during a severe oil shortage in Russia.

Using the alias “Thomas More,” Simon poses as an Afrikaner and steals the formula after having a one night stand with Emma. Tretiak learns Emma’s formula is incomplete and orders his henchmen, led by his son Ilya, to kill Simon and kidnap Emma in order to obtain the remaining information. Heartbroken, Emma reports the theft to Inspector Teal (Alun Armstrong) and Inspector Rabineau (Charlotte Cornwell) of Scotland Yard, who inform her Simon is a wanted international thief. Emma tracks down Simon to a hotel in Moscow and confronts him about the theft and his betrayal. The Russian police, loyal to Tretiak, arrest Simon and Emma. However, they manage to escape from the police van as they are being brought to Tretiak’s mansion.

As they flee through the suburbs, Simon and Emma are helped by a prostitute and her family who shelter them in a hidden room in their home. Later, they meet “Frankie” (Irina Apeksimova), a fence who sells them the directions through an underground sewer system that lead to the American embassy. Simon and Emma exit the sewer tunnel only to find Ilya and his men waiting for them among a gathering of protestors outside the embassy’s front gates. Emma safely makes it to the embassy for political asylum, while Simon allows himself to be caught by Ilya as a distraction. He escapes after rigging a car bomb that severely burns Ilya.

Simon plants a listening device in Tretiak’s office and learns he plans to perform a coup d’état by selling the cold fusion formula to Russian President Karpov to frame him for wasting billions on useless technology. Tretiak then plans to use the political fallout to install himself as President. Emma finishes the equations to complete the formula, and Simon delivers the information to Tretiak’s physicist, Dr. Lev Botkin (Henry Goodman), who builds an apparatus which proves the formula works. Simon infiltrates the President’s Kremlin residence and informs him of Tretiak’s conspiracy just before Tretiak loyalists detain him. In front of a massive gathering in Red Square, Tretiak makes public accusations against President Karpov, but when the cold fusion reactor is successfully initiated, Tretiak is exposed as a fraud and arrested. He is also revealed to have caused the heating oil shortage in Moscow by illegally stockpiling vast amounts of heating oil underneath his mansion.

Sometime later, at a news conference at the University of Oxford, Emma presents her cold fusion formula to the world. Simon attends the conference in disguise and once again avoids being captured by Inspectors Teal and Rabineau when they spot him in the crowd. As he drives away, he listens to a news radio broadcast (voiced by Roger Moore) reporting that $3 billion was recently donated to the Red Cross, Salvation Army and the United Nations Children’s Fund. It is implied that Simon, who had access to Tretiak’s accounts, donated the money anonymously. Furthermore, a non-profit foundation led by Dr. Botkin is being established to develop the cold fusion technology.

REVIEW:

This weekend a TV spy show from yesteryear will be jumping to the big screen with The Man from U.N.C.L.E. This is not the first time an old show has made such a jump. Sometimes these films work and sometimes they don’t. Let’s find out what side The Saint fall on, shall we?

What is this about?

Master thief Simon Templar (Val Kilmer) eludes his pursuers by assuming the names of obscure saints. When a Russian politician (Rade Serbedzija) hires Templar to steal the formula for cold fusion, he falls in love with Emma Russell (Elisabeth Shue), the frail Oxford scientist who has unlocked the process’ secret. Back in Moscow, Templar must decide whether to betray his new love or the madman who’s paying him millions.

What did I like?

Change it up. Many spy movies seem to forget the art of disguise, a technique that our titular hero uses as his forte. These days we may have forgotten that Val Kilmer is quite the charming actor, but back in the late 80s and 90s he was on top of the world. Kilmer switches into at least 10 different costumes, maybe more, and each is a character of their own. Why is this so special when comedians do it all the time? Just that, Kilmer isn’t a comedian, so for him to do this and create unique character shows some actual acting chops that have been grossly underutilized.

Science-y stuff. Most of the time when films start talking about science related mumbo jumbo, that is what it sounds like to the general audience, mumbo jumbo. Knowing that very few people who would be going in to watch this film are going to be in possession of or working on some sort of higher level science degree, the explanation of cold fusion was kept pretty simple. For the benefit of those that do want that challenge, they could just read the formulas.

Homage. Simon Templar is a character that has existed since the 1930s, appearing in all forms of media. At one time he was even portrayed by the great Vincent Price. A nice little touch that the filmmakers added in is the voice of Roger Moore, who has played the world’s greatest spy, James Bond. That’s not all, though. In the 60s, Moore was the titular character in a 60s television series, so it was a nice little touch to bring him in.

What didn’t I like?

Death and consequences. In the first scenes of the film, we get a bit of a background on young Simon Templar, complete with tragedy as the young girl he apparently fancied fell to her death as they were all trying to escape Catholic school. Two things bother me about this. First, after seeing her death, we fast forward to the present and nothing is ever said about what happened as a result or about his training. Second, around the film’s climax Kilmer and Elisabeth Shue are trying to escape the Russian mobsters. One of the escape routes is to jump off the roof. There is a quick flash of the dead little girl, implying that there is some repressed trauma there, but the film never does anything with it, which seems like such a waste.

Police. I feel like I should say something about the bumbling cops, but the fact is they weren’t really bumbling. They were smart enough to deduce that Templar was using disguises, so there is that. My issue with them is that they seemed unnecessary. If anything, they could have showed up as comic relief. The one time they did have something worthwhile to do was when Elisabeth Shue came to them to report her missing/stolen formula cards. I may be making too big a deal out of this though. I’m not the biggest fan of the police.

Cold blooded. Maybe it is the heat down here getting to me (we have been under a heat advisory since Monday), but I really have to question how you can not have enough resources to keep your people, who live in a cold climate, warm during the winter. Even our government, as corrupt and money hungry as they may be, would find a way to keep most people warm during the winter, because if they lose people, they lose money and votes, and that’s all that matters, right? I just don’t get how this Russian president let things get so dire before he even attempted to do anything.

Final verdict on The Saint? It fell short of my expectations. I think I was expecting something more along the lines of The Shadow but instead I got a 2nd or 3rd rate Bond rip-off. That said, there are enjoyable moments in here, Kilmer and Shue turn in great performances, and the writing isn’t too bad. Still, if you ask me to recommend it, I don’t believe I can do that. Better to just watch one of the 007 films.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

Move Over, Darling

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ellen Wagstaff Arden (Doris Day), a mother of two young girls named Jenny and Didi, was believed to be lost at sea following an airplane accident. Her husband, Nick Arden (James Garner), was one of the survivors.

After five years of searching for her, he decides to move on with his life by having her declared legally dead so he can marry Bianca (Polly Bergen), all on the same day. However, Ellen is alive; she is rescued and returns home that particular day. At first crestfallen, she is relieved to discover from her mother-in-law Grace (Thelma Ritter) that her (ex-) husband’s honeymoon has not started yet.

When Nick is confronted by Ellen, he eventually clears things up with Bianca, but he then learns that the entire time Ellen was stranded on the island she was there with another man, the handsome, athletic Stephen Burkett (Chuck Connors) – and that they called each other “Adam” and “Eve.”

Nick’s mother has him arrested for bigamy and all parties appear before the same judge that married Nick and Bianca earlier that day. Bianca and Ellen request divorces before the judge sends them all away. Bianca leaves Nick, while Ellen storms out, still married to Nick, declared alive again. Ellen returns to Nick’s house unsure if her children will recognize her. Her children welcome her home, and so does Nick.

REVIEW:

Sorry for not doing any reviews the past couple of weeks. Work had me…um…working. I’m a little rusty at this after so much time off, so let me go to one of my old standbys to deliver a great performance, at least I hope she does, Doris Day. Move Over, Darling seems like an innocent, early romantic comedy. Let’s see if it is worth the time.

What is this about?

Five years after his wife, Ellen (Doris Day), disappears at sea in a plane crash, successful lawyer Nick Arden (James Garner) decides it’s time to move on: He has Ellen declared legally dead, remarries and sets off on his honeymoon. But there’s trouble in paradise when Ellen — who’s in fact very much alive — turns up to surprise the newlyweds.

What did I like?

Chemistry. A movie is instantly doomed if the leads have no chemistry. No one wants to see two people who are just going through the motions and clearly can’t stand each other. James Garner and Doris Day don’t have this problem as the two of them have a chemistry that arguably could rival that of some of the great Hollywood screen couples of this era. Watching the two of them play off each other both in comedic and dramatic ways is quite enjoyable.

Day by Day. A few months back, around the time of Doris Day’s birthday (she’s still alive, y’know), I read something that named her “America’s Sweetheart” for the era. Judging by all of the movies I’ve seen her in and what I know about her personally, it would be hard to argue that title away from her, especially since I can’t think of any other contenders at this time. At the time she made this film, she was in her 40s and I have to say this is the best (and perhaps most feminine) she has looked on film. We even get to see her in a bikini, a rare site for the normally demure and covered up Doris Day. Acting wise, she has never been better. Mixing her comedic stylings with Garner’s timing, as well as some hijinks that are a bit of a staple of her films and she shines.

Western showdown. I didn’t realize this until I had finished the film, but this film features two stars of western TV shows. I don’t believe they were on at the same time, but on the one hand we have James Garner who starred in Maverick and on the other hand there is Chuck Connors, who is known as the titular character from The Rifleman. Having these two together is a real treat, and yes, they do have some scenes together, for those that were curious.

What didn’t I like?

The Shrew. As much praise as I heap on Doris Day and her character, the opposite is true for Polly Bergen and her character. How Garner ended up with her, I’ll never understand. First of all, she’s a downgrade from Day, in my opinion. Second, she’s overly needy. While on their honeymoon, Garner steps out for a few minutes comes back and has to leave again, but she throws a tantrum and puts on a guilt trip every time he tries to leave. Lastly, she seems to have something going on with her psychiatrist “friend”. It is never said, but you can tell they have a thing. I guess the film needed someone the complete opposite of Day. Why else would there be such a despicable female in this film?

Knotts landing. Don Knotts makes an appearance as a shoe salesman that Day pays to perpetrate a ruse. After the scene is over, we don’t see him again. I have two things to say about this. First off, I believe this is before The Andy Griffith Show, so Knotts isn’t a big star, yet, but he had starred in a couple of films at this point, so why was he just a bit part? Second, the semi-flirting that was going on between he and Day was just awkward, as neither is known for doing so. Parts of it were funny, though, I will give credit where it is due.

Is that really hair? This is a small complaint, but it has to be brought up. Maybe I just don’t understand the physics of women’s hair when it gets wet, but Doris Day’s hair looked so unnatural when she was in the car wash and then again at the end when she jumped in the pool. I believe this is a wig because this is the only time I’ve seen her without her customary short hair, but it is possible that this is her real hair, just a tad bit longer than normal. At whatever rate, the wet look bothered me.

Mover Over, Darling is a cute romantic comedy starring one of our national treasures, Doris Day. Many of the tropes that we see in today’s rom-coms are prevalent here, but in a much more subdued (and better executed) way. Garner makes for a good leading man and keeps his cool in this unusual situation. I do wish we could have gotten another song or two from Day, though. Do I recommend this? Yes, it is a good film for when you have absolutely no idea what to watch. Check it out sometime!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 8/6

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on August 6, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

A friend of is always bringing up this trailer as one that freaked him out as a kid. Naturally, I had to share it with all of you!

Check out the TV trailer for It’s Alive!

 

Ant-Man

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1989, scientist Hank Pym resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D. after discovering that they attempted to replicate his Ant-Man shrinking technology. Believing the technology is dangerous, Pym vows to hide it as long as he lives. In the present day, Pym’s estranged daughter, Hope van Dyne, and former protégé, Darren Cross, have forced him out of his own company. Cross is close to perfecting a shrinking suit of his own, the Yellowjacket, which horrifies Pym.

Upon his release from prison, well-meaning thief Scott Lang moves in with his old cellmate, Luis. Lang’s ex-wife, Maggie—engaged to policeman Paxton—agrees to let Lang see his daughter Cassie if he provides child support. Unable to hold a job due to his criminal record, Lang agrees to join Luis’ crew and commit a burglary for money. Lang breaks into a house and cracks its safe, but only finds what he believes to be an old motorcycle suit, which he takes home. After trying the suit on, Lang accidentally shrinks himself to the size of an insect. Terrified by the experience, he returns the suit to the house, but is arrested on the way out. Pym, the homeowner, visits Lang in jail and smuggles the suit into his cell to help him break out.

At his home, Pym, who manipulated Lang through Luis into stealing the suit as a test, wants Lang to become the new Ant-Man to steal the Yellowjacket from Cross. Van Dyne, who has been spying on Cross for Pym despite her strained relationship with her father, helps Pym train Lang to fight and to control ants. They send him to steal a device from the Avengers’ headquarters, where he briefly fights Sam Wilson. While van Dyne still shows anger towards Pym about her mother Janet’s death, he reveals that Janet, known as the Wasp, disappeared into a subatomic quantum realm to disable a Soviet nuclear missile. Pym warns Lang that he could suffer a similar fate if he overrides his suit’s safeguards.

Cross perfects the Yellowjacket and invites Pym to the unveiling ceremony. Lang, along with his crew and a swarm of flying ants, infiltrates the building during the event, sabotages the servers, and plants explosives. When he attempts to steal the Yellowjacket, he is trapped by Cross, who intends to sell both the Yellowjacket and Ant-Man suits to Hydra, led by Mitchell Carson. Lang breaks free and defeats most of the Hydra agents, though Carson is able to flee with a vial of Cross’ particles. Lang pursues Cross as he escapes, while the explosives detonate, vaporizing the building.

Cross dons the Yellowjacket and fights Lang before Lang is arrested by Paxton. His mind addled by the imperfect shrinking technology, Cross holds Cassie hostage to lure Lang into another fight; this time, Lang shrinks to subatomic size to penetrate Cross’ suit and sabotage it to shrink uncontrollably, killing Cross. Lang disappears into the quantum realm but manages to reverse the suit’s mechanism and return to the real world. In gratitude for Lang’s heroism, Paxton covers for Lang to keep him out of prison. Seeing that Lang survived and returned from the quantum realm, Pym wonders if his wife is alive as well. Later, Lang meets up with Luis, who tells him that Wilson is looking for him.

In a mid-credits scene, Pym shows van Dyne a new Wasp prototype suit and offers it to her. In a post-credits scene, Wilson and Steve Rogers have Bucky Barnes in their custody. Unable to contact Tony Stark due to “the accords”, Wilson mentions that he “know[s] a guy”.

REVIEW:

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is ending phase II with Ant-Man. A bit of an unusual choice to end a “chapter”, but given the importance of this character, it makes sense. I wonder, given how little people know about this guy, how audiences will react and if they will embrace him in the way they have taken to the other Avengers we have so far. If not, then I fear we will witness Marvel’s first flop.

What is this about?

Fresh out of prison and looking for a new start, master thief Scott Lang is approached by Dr. Pym, creator of a technology that can shrink a man to insect size and boost strength. Together the duo must protect the discovery while saving the world.

What did I like?

Action and effects. If there was one thing this film couldn’t afford to do, it was be boring and/or cheesy. Thankfully, it doesn’t fall into that trap. The action scenes are amazing. Watching Rudd’s Ant-Man shrink and grow while punching bad guys is like watching finely tuned dancer. The effects are really what sells his powers. Truthfully, I think the ants could have looked better, rather than descendants from the movie Them!, but they fit with the tone of the film, so no complaints.

Theme. It seems as if Marvel cannot get a memorable them for their superheroes. The lone exception is Captain America, which they swiftly took away in favor of something more generic in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I tip my hat to Christophe Beck. His percussive theme for this film not only is memorable, but it also has the heist film feel that the picture has.

Bring the funny. Marvel films have become known for the different, lighter tone compared to their DC counterparts. Some have complained and others, like me, truly appreciate and enjoy it. This is being called the funniest of the Marvel films. I won’t go that far, but I will say that the jokes were quite humorous and helped make a film that really should not have worked this well.

What didn’t I like?

Step away from the blueprint. We are a few years into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t there has been a more successful series of films, but I’m starting to see a pattern. Hero is on top of the world, gets knocked down to the bottom of the food chain, fights his way up, encounters arch-nemesis (who turns out to be someone they now), giant fight, set-up for the next film. It is a formula that has worked, no doubt, but I think we are hitting the point that the formula needs a bit of spice. As it stands right now, this is very similar to Iron Man. That isn’t a bad thing, but a change is needed.

Cops and robbers. Knowing that the Scott Lang version of Ant-Man is a thief, it makes sense that the cops are involved. What doesn’t make sense is how the cop/robber angle was used. It wasn’t even a secondary plot, but rather something very throwaway. I felt as if something more should have been done with it. True, in the later half of the film, the cops remember they are cops and actually do some police work, but it is a case of too little, too late, if you ask me.

Weak villain. Yellowjacket should be a villain that instills fear into the audience. Look at him, for goodness sakes! Unfortunately, he comes off as just a carbon copy of Ant-Man with some spider-like stingers on his back. His alter ego, Darrin Cross isn’t much better. Just being a spoiled, disgruntled employee who was allegedly wronged by Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym just doesn’t seem to be enough motivation. There has to be something more to the story that would flesh him out a bit.

Ant-Man introduces audiences to a new character, Ant-Man. This film is a mix of action, comedy, drama, suspense, and it had a good bit of heart in it, as well. Will audiences fall in love with Ant-Man? That remains to be seen. I know that I personally would like to see more of Michael Douglas’ version, but that’s a personal thing. I am not a fan of being forced to watch this in 3D. MY thoughts on this overrated, overpriced way ti drain moviegoers pockets aside, I just don’t think it was necessary or used to it fullest capabilities, similar to those last couple of Spider- Man films. My biggest complaint about this film, though, is that is starts off so slow before picking up. Had they fixed that, I think this film would receive a much better rating. Still, this is very enjoyable flick and I highly enjoyed it! Don’t walk, run and go check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Outlaw’s Son

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , on July 19, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Twelve-year-old Jeff Blaine lives in the small western town of Plainsville where he is being reared by his aunt, Ruth Sewall, who operates a tinsmith business. Jeff’s mother died when he was four months old and his father Nate left shortly thereafter and became an outlaw.

One day, Nate returns and tells Ruth that he has recently been involved in a gunfight. Realizing that his days may be numbered, he asks to see his son again. After Jeff rejects Nate as his father, Ruth, who does not welcome Nate’s visit, returns the small amount of money he has sent for Jeff’s support and asks him to leave the next morning.

In town, when Nate meets old friend Marshal Elec Blessingham in the saloon, Elec chooses to ignore the fact that Nate is a wanted outlaw. The next day, unknown to Ruth, Nate ingratiates himself with Jeff by showing him how to shoot his Colt 44. Later, Ruth reluctantly agrees that Nate can stay a few more days.

Soon, Jeff is calling Nate “Paw,” but runs into trouble at school when another boy, Ben Jorgenson, says that Jeff’s father is a murderer. Jeff tells Ben to get his father’s gun and meet him later. Instead, Ben brings his father, who beats Jeff, who is wearing Nate’s gun. Nate, Elec and Ruth arrive soon after and, after Nate slugs Jorgenson, Ruth blames Nate for involving Jeff with guns and swears she will kill him if he returns again. Later, when Ruth comes to town to obtain some medicine for Jeff, Nate tells her that he is leaving and intends to take Jeff with him.

Soon after, two former associates of Nate, Bill Somerson and Ed Wyatt, rob the Plainsville bank and kill the manager. Ruth, the sole witness to the robbery, lies to Elec that Nate was the perpetrator in order to prevent him from taking Jeff. Nate is arrested and when Jeff visits him in jail, Nate, believing now that his son is better off without him, lets Jeff believe that he is guilty. Outwitting a deputy, Nate escapes from jail and rides away.

Ten years pass and Jeff is still living with Ruth and is now working as a security agent for the stagecoach line, but is embittered by the town’s ostracism of him. Jeff is courting two young women, the prim Amy Wentworth and the more adventurous Lila Costain, who runs a ranch she inherited from her father. When Jeff assists Elec and a posse in foiling a stagecoach robbery, they shoot three of the robbers, including Ed Wyatt. As he dies, Wyatt recognizes Jeff as Nate’s son and tells him and Elec that he and Somerson committed the bank robbery, not Nate.

After Jeff confronts Ruth, she admits that she lied to prevent Nate from taking him away because she wanted Jeff to grow up to be happy and decent. Jeff then leaves Ruth’s house and decides to find Nate. Although Lila tries to dissuade Jeff and asks him to stay with her, he is obsessed with joining his father, who has continued his criminal career, in exacting revenge against the townspeople. Somerson contacts Jeff with a proposal that they and two others set up a payroll robbery based upon Jeff’s knowledge of the stage line’s operations.

Later, Nate visits Ruth and reveals that he never told Jeff that she had lied because he wanted the boy to stay with her. While Nate is at the house, Jeff enters with Lila and Nate informs him that he has heard about the intended robbery and forbids him to participate. In the ensuing fistfight, Jeff beats up Nate and rides off. Nate then begs Elec to help him prevent the robbery.

When Nate and Elec thwart the holdup, Somerson and another gunman take Jeff hostage, blaming him for Nate and Elec’s intervention, and flee on the stage. Nate rides after them and, as Jeff and Somerson struggle inside the coach for possession of a gun, Nate shoots the outlaw driver. Nate then jumps on board, taking over the reins of the runaway stage, but is attacked by Somerson who has knocked out Jeff. Somerson overpowers Nate and brings the stage to a halt, intending to shoot Elec and the others who are following. Nate prevents Somerson from shooting by hurling a knife into his body, but is in turn mortally wounded by the outlaw. Later, as Nate dies in Ruth’s house, Jeff tells him that he intends to change his ways and Ruth agrees to help Jeff once more. Lila then comforts Jeff for the loss of his father.

REVIEW:

It has been a little while since I last visited the western genre, so I feel I need to get back to this beloved genre. Since I am pushed for time this afternoon, something short and sweet is what I am looking for. This is where Outlaw’s Son comes in. Under 90 minutes is the run time, but is it worth watching?

What is this about?

Twelve years after he abandoned his son, an outlaw returns to seek a reconciliation, but is instead framed for murder by a family member.

What did I like?

Sins of the father. The titular character’s father comes to see him after 12 years. As you can guess, this doesn’t sit too well with him, but after a couple of days, they warm up to each other, until an incident happens that turns the town against the father. After a series of events, and 10 yrs passing, we learn that Jeff has grown up into a hardened gunman of sorts, much like his father, but without the outlaw part. All this because of the way he was treated on account of his father’s reputation. Perhaps it is for the best, though.

Triangle. Ah, the love triangle cliché. Sometimes this is something that is just so overdone that we just don’t wish to see it. Other times we get hints at it as a very minor subplot, as is the case here. Jeff is courting these two girls who are polar opposites of each other, as they always tend to be, but it is played out as just part of his everyday life, rather than forcing it into the plot the way some other films would more than likely have done.

Truth comes out. One of the criminals involved in the robbery/murder that framed Nate, the father, clears the air on his deathbed, telling the sheriff and Jeff what really happened. Per the law, a deathbed confession is not something to be taken lightly. Judging by the way Jeff turned out, though, had this been confessed 10 years ago, he may have turned out totally different.

What didn’t I like?

Selfish aunt. Jeff’s aunt, in her quest to keep him away from his father, does everything she can to stand in between the two of them. After the incident where Jeff is beat up by a grown man, she blames him and tells him needs to get out of the house. Then, when he tells her he is leaving town and taking Jeff with him, she witnesses a robbery and murder. When asked who did, she says Nate was the perpetrator, framing him and setting in motion a dark path for Jeff. Some people and their selfish ways! Will they never learn?

Townspeople. If I’ve learned anything from watching old movies, especially westerns, it is that townspeople are bloodthirsty when a crime has been committed against one of their own. The first chance they get, they will call for a hangin’. These folks are no different, they wanted Nate hung right there on the spot. No jail time. No trial. Just swift “justice”. Sakes alive, can you imagine if folks were still like this today?!?

Vengeance? A recurring theme in most westerns is vengeance, and yet it doesn’t seem to be a factor in this one, but I feel it should be. Jeff meets the man who more or less is responsible for his father having spent the last 10 yrs in exile, so to speak, but instead of shooting the man dead, he teams up with him. For some reason, I think that has this been a John Wayne film, we would have seen some vengeance extracted, one way or another.

Outlaw’s Son is not a well-known entry into the western genre. Some even go so far as to label it a B-movie. I’m not so sure I agree with that, unless the definition was different in the 50s. This is the kind of flick I expect to see on AMC when they have that group of westerns every Saturday morning. That isn’t a bad thing, just an observation. As far as the film goes, it has some issues with creating a storyline the audience can get invested in, but at least the pacing is brisk and doesn’t give you time to nod off. The climactic stagecoach robbery scene is vintage western, though I would have liked for there to have been some shots fire. All I all I think this is a decent underrated western worth checking out someday. Just remember, it has nothing to do with the Jane Russell film, The Outlaw.

3 out of 5 stars

The Fifth Element

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1914, aliens known as Mondoshawans arrive at an ancient Egyptian temple to collect, for safekeeping, the only weapon capable of defeating a great evil that appears every 5,000 years. The weapon consists of four stones, representing the four classical elements, and a sarcophagus containing a fifth element in the form of a human, which combines the power of the other four elements into a divine light capable of defeating the evil. The Mondoshawans promise their human contact, a priest from a secret order, that they will come back with the element stones in time to stop the great evil when it returns.

In 2263, the great evil appears in deep space in the form of a giant ball of black fire, and destroys an attacking Earth spaceship. The Mondoshawans’ current contact on Earth, priest Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm), informs the President of Earth (Tom Lister Jr.) of the history of the great evil and the weapon that can stop it. As the Mondoshawans return to Earth they are ambushed by Mangalores, a race hired by the industrialist Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman), who has been instructed by the great evil to acquire the stones.

The Mondoshawans’ spacecraft is destroyed, though the stones are not on board; the only item recovered is a hand of The Fifth Element. Scientists take it to a New York City laboratory and use it to reconstruct a humanoid woman who takes the name Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). Terrified of the unfamiliar surroundings, she escapes confinement and jumps off a ledge, crashing into the flying taxicab of Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), a former major in the special forces.

Dallas delivers Leeloo to Cornelius and his apprentice, David (Charlie Creed-Miles), whereupon Cornelius learns that the Mondoshawans entrusted the four element stones to the alien Diva Plavalaguna (Maïwenn Le Besco), an opera singer. Zorg kills many of the Mangalores because of their failure to obtain the stones, but their compatriots determine to seize the artifacts for themselves. Upon learning from the Mondoshawans that the stones are in Plavalaguna’s possession, General Munro (Brion James), Dallas’ former superior, re-enlists Dallas and orders him to travel undercover to meet Plavalaguna on a luxury intergalactic cruise; Dallas takes Leeloo with him. Meanwhile, Cornelius instructs David to prepare the ancient temple designed to house the stones, then stows away on the space plane transporting Dallas to the cruise liner.

Plavalaguna is killed when the Mangalores attack the ship, but Dallas succeeds in retrieving the stones. During his struggle with the Mangalores he kills their leader. After shooting and seriously wounding Leeloo, Zorg finds a carrying case which he presumes contains the stones, and takes it back to his spacecraft, leaving behind a time bomb that forces the liner’s occupants to evacuate. Discovering the case to be empty, Zorg returns to the ship and deactivates his bomb, but a dying Mangalore sets off his own device, destroying the ship and killing Zorg. Dallas, Cornelius, Leeloo, and talk-show host Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) escape with the stones aboard Zorg’s spacecraft.

The four join up with David at the weapon chamber in the Egyptian temple as the great evil approaches. They activate the stones, but having witnessed and studied so much violence, Leeloo has become disenchanted with humanity and refuses to cooperate. Dallas confesses his love for Leeloo and kisses her. In response, Leeloo combines the power of the stones and releases the divine light; the great evil, now dormant, becomes another moon in Earth orbit.

REVIEW:

In the 80s, there were countless clones, imitations, and blatant rip offs of Star Wars. That trend ended, though, and sci-fi focused on other films to steal from. Then the 90s hit and studios realized it was time for a new space opera. There were many failures, some epic in scope *COUGH* Battlefield Earth *COUGH*, but there was one that has gone one to cult status, The Fifth Element.

What is this about?

In this imaginative sci-fi epic, a 23rd-century cabbie finds himself involved with a fetching alien who may hold the key to saving the world. But it’s curtains for planet Earth unless the duo can stay a step ahead of a demented villain named Zorg.

What did I like?

Epic feel. What makes the holy trilogy so special is that it tells a story that on a huge scale. In some respects, this film follows that same formula. The evil, universal bad guys can only be defeated by this ragtag group of heroes, to sum it up in not so many words. It works, though. Also, there is just a certain look to the film in places that is very reminiscent of 70s and early 80s sci-fi, which I appreciated.

Friday. At the time this was released, Chris Tucker was an up and coming star because of Friday, a small role in Jackie Brown, and the Rush Hour films coming down the pipeline. Not being a big star, yet, Tucker was still hungry and willing to do anything to get noticed and bring home a paycheck, which explains why this overly flamboyant, obvious comic relief character of Ruby Rhod work. He is a contrast to the seriousness of Bruce Willis and isn’t off in la la land like Milla Jovovich’s character seems to be at some points.

Reconstruction. Some of our best technological achievements today have come from sci-fi films and television (and yet we still don’t have flying cars!) If there is something that should seriously be considered for real word use, I would say it is this reconstruction machine. Milla Jovovich’s character was nothing but a hand and this thing recreated her bones, tissues, muscles, everything. Obviously, this wouldn’t work in real life, but imagine if someone had their leg amputated for some reason and were taken to this machine. I’m just saying, it was impressive.

What didn’t I like?

Accent. I think I should just automatically make this a category any time I watch a film where someone is speaking in some sort of accent, because this seems to be a recurring theme. This time the culprit is Gary Oldman. Not only does he have this odd Texas-ish accent going on, but his character reminds me of the duke from Moulin Rouge, if he were really a bad guy. The accent, though, just makes no kind of sense. What was wrong with his normal accent, I wonder. Seems to me a British sounding villain is way more intimidating that one who sounds like he was an extra on Dallas.

Perfect? You could have a drinking game with as many times as Milla Jovovich was called perfect, especially when they first re-create her. My problem with that is she really isn’t perfect, at least to me. If you go by what the magazines and fashion industry want you to believe, then yes, she is perfect. However, as a red-blooded, straight American male, I can say that she needs some work before she can be called perfect. Personally, I like my women with curves and a bit more meat on their bones. Perhaps the next guy prefers blondes. The guy after that may have a thing for buff girls. What I’m trying to say is that if they really wanted her to be perfect, then she should have been an amalgamation of what guys tend to think is perfect, rather than just a random model.

Identity thief. Perhaps in this post 9/11 world we live in, seeing something like 3 or 4 guys claiming to be same person, as well as a woman who only seems to know a handful of words, would raise some red flags. For some reason, though, it is just business as usual at this terminal. At least it is once they catch the guy. Had this kind of thing happened in an airport today on Earth, all of those guys would have gotten a major beatdown, which would be followed by questions. That seems to be how things work over here in the US.

Apparently, people fall on one side or the other with The Fifth Element. They either love it or hate it. I think I’m the oddball, because I don’t really feel strongly either way. On the one side, I was expecting more action and outlandish humor, rather than some humdrum melodrama. On the flipside of that, though, there is a really good story that is easy to follow. So, do I recommend it? Sure, as a matter of fact, I think this is a film that needs to be seen more than once to truly cherish. I guess that means I need to go watch it again. HA!

4 out of 5 stars

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