Trailer Thursday 4/7

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on April 7, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

Since it is International Jazz Month, trailers for this month will be for jazz related films.

What better way to kick this month off, then with the trailer for one of the true legends of the genre. Please enjoy the trailer for The Benny Goodman Story.

The Haunting

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2016 by Mystery Man


A psychology professor invites three insomniacs to take part in a sleep disorder study at an eerie, isolated mansion — which appears to be haunted.

What people are saying:

“This is what happens when a classic movie is updated with a respectable budget and too much attention is paid to special effects. Yes the special effects were fantastic, but the special effects were the focus of the film. The action played to the special effects, the twists and turns in the plot were made so that certain effects could be used. This wasn’t a movie with great special effects, this was a display of great special effects that tried to have a plot tie them together. This is not the way to make a good movie, special effects should enhance the story not become the story. If you want to see good special effects, rent it; if you want to see a good movie, don’t. ” 2 stars

“The Haunting — seriously?? This movie was a joke. Totally unbelievable and more like a bad LSD trip. I found myself laughing at some of the stupid antics and reactions that was supposed to make this movie hauntingly scary. I think if this movie was made to be a comedy, it might have gotten better reviews. Most of the scenarios were so outrageously beyond belief. What a waste of some really terrific props and scenery that would have made for a really great scary movie.” 1 star

“I am not even going to attempt to compare this to the original classic horror story with wonderful Julie Harris in the title role that was even adopted as inspiration for Disneyland’s unique Haunted Mansion attraction, because there is no comparisson. So I’m going to give credit where credit is due. Lili Taylor has proven herself quite comfortable with the supernatural, and it shows. For some reason the top billing here is actually the supporting cast, and it is Lili that carries the feature as the hook in the reason and why the hauntings are connected to her. The special effects crew go out of there way to provide effects that remind me of Brandon Fraser’s The Mummy series which are clearly there for entertainment purposes, as well as carry the storyline. But it is Miss Taylor’s conviction to her role as the passenger to a simple crew of people staying overnight in an extreme mansion dwelling, and experiencing phenomanon that makes the movie proud. She is borderline losing it as she is almost conviced by her crew members that what she is experiencing is not real, but the dwellings within will not let her go! And it’s up to her to find out why.” 5 stars

“when will modern American directors learn that showing everything and leaving NOTHING to the imagination does not a good horror film make, Don’t they realize that what we as an audience imagine in our own thoughts is infinitely more terrorizing than showing us what they presume to be so with their CGI. I agree that the 1960 something film was better. ” 1 star

“This movie has great special effects and is pretty scary at times if you have a good subwoofer system that will punch those “thuds” right through your chest. Also, Catherine Zeta-Jones is sizzling hot in this movie. That’s the good points. Now here’s the review. This movie’s screenplay was horrible. The characters had ridiculous dialogue with bad timing which made for a lot of stupid and ambiguous scenes. The protagonist, Eleanor, can’t act AND has bad lines/poor delivery. Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character is a little much to say the least; overdone as a bisexual extrovert with redundant wit. The story really has promise, but was “a big swing and a miss” as a movie production. This is a perfect example of a movie that should have been a book.” 3 stars

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2016 by Mystery Man

Justice League_Throne of Atlantis

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Atlantic Ocean, the USS California submarine picks up incoming human-like threats approaching the sub by sonar. The sub is attacked and the entire crew is killed by the hostiles. At S.T.A.R. Labs’ Justice League headquarters, Cyborg, who has recently received environmental upgrades in an operation that replaced his remaining lung, is given news by Colonel Steve Trevor, the liaison for the Justice League, over the sunken sub. Cyborg decides to check it himself, deciding against Trevor’s idea of calling the other superheroes, saying, “there is no Justice League”, given the lack of help given to each other since Darkseid’s invasion.

At Mercy Reef in Maine, Arthur Curry, drunk over his father’s recent death, picks a fight when they wanted to eat the lobster Arthur was talking to. He defeats them and when the last man tries to stab him, his knife breaks into pieces against Arthur’s chest. After throwing him into the ocean, Arthur leaves, unaware that Mera and Dr. Shin are watching him. Cyborg uses a Boom Tube to teleport to the sub and discovers hand prints on the hull and that several nuclear missiles are missing. He is then attacked by the same hostiles and suffers damage to his servos through his escape, though he takes a knife-like weapon from one of his attackers.

Back at HQ, Cyborg gets help from Flash and Captain Marvel to get Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. Green Lantern decides to head to Gotham City to get Batman, who is chasing henchmen of the Scarecrow. Green Lantern captures them for Batman, but angers Batman who needed them to lead him to Scarecrow. Batman joins the team and they check the now-raised sub. They realize the enemy is warriors from Earth’s origin.

Diana reveals that these warriors are from Atlantis, beings turned into underwater creatures by their king’s mystical trident, after seeing the weapon that Cyborg had nabbed. Using Captain Marvel’s suggestion, Superman and Batman decide to meet Atlantis-expert Dr. Shin, while the others are tasked to find Atlantis.

At Atlantis, Prince Orm and Black Manta meet with Orm’s mother, Queen Atlanna. They argue over declaring war on the surface world, noting the damage during Darkseid’s attack, with Atlanna saying that the volcano that killed Orm’s father was due to Darkseid’s forces while Orm says it was the Justice League’s fight with Darkseid. Orm also says that the humans polluting the Earth will eventually destroy it and Atlantis, which he believes is reason to attack them first. Atlanna silences Orm and asks Mera to bring Arthur, her other son, to Atlantis. Black Manta uses a craft holographically disguised as a submarine to attack Atlantis using the stolen missiles, framing the surface for their “unprovoked” attack.

Dr. Shin tries to tell Arthur that his father asked him before his death to help Arthur. Moments later, Dr. Shin is killed by Atlantean soldiers sent by Black Manta. Arthur is overwhelmed by the attack, knocked out and blasted out of his collapsing house, but is saved by Mera, who dispatches the soldiers by using her control over water, and takes him underwater.

Batman and Superman enter Dr. Shin’s home discovering that his work is destroyed. Superman recreates a photograph of Curry and a letter from his father revealing that his son is half-Atlantean. Batman decides they must find him.

The attack on Atlantis leads the citizens and Orm to demand war and to break the seal on war plans created by the former king in the event of conflict with the surface. Queen Atlanna states that they might need to reveal themselves after centuries of hiding and contact the Justice League. Arthur wakes up with gills on his neck in underwater Atlantean ruins with Mera, who explains that he was in Atlantis and that Atlanna was Arthur’s mother.

As a royal, she could not be with his father or Arthur, so she left to be with her king and Orm, though she still loved Arthur greatly and watched him when he was a child. Arthur had once encountered Atlanna when he was swimming by the shore. Now, Atlanna believes Arthur can help Atlantis bridge between the two worlds.

Mera then dresses him in the king’s royal garb, hidden by Atlanna inside the ruins. Arthur, having difficulty processing the situation, removes the armor and crown, leaving only the orange and green Atlantean bodysuit, and heads to the surface with Mera following him.

Soon, they are attacked by the Trench. The creatures overwhelm Arthur. One of them bit Arthur’s hand, making him bleed. The Justice League arrives in time to defeat the Trench. Orm hears from Black Manta that the Trench failed to kill Arthur. Orm and Queen Atlanna argue because Orm wants to start a war and reveals his knowledge of Curry. Queen Atlanna reveals to him that she knows he attacked Atlantis. With this news, Black Manta confronts the queen, but is overpowered by her trident. Orm then stabs her from behind, killing her and taking over Atlantis as the new king.

Arthur, Mera, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Cyborg arrive at Atlantis and learn of Queen Atlanna’s death. The Atlantean people were under the mistaken impression that a surface dweller killed her. The heroes are then defeated by Orm, who has assumed the mantle of “Ocean Master” and uses the trident to incapacitate and restrain them inside cocoon-like pods. Even Superman bleeds when attacked with the trident. The group is sent to be consumed by the monstrous Dark Trench, while Ocean Master leads Atlantis’ army to the surface.

Arthur destroys his pod by tapping into the power of the trident and with Superman’s help, as well as his telepathic control over sea creatures, they save the rest and defeat the monster. In Metropolis, a massive tidal wave created by Ocean Master’s trident is used to conceal Ocean Master’s army, which reaches the shores and attacks. The military is powerless until the League arrive.

During the fight, Superman saves John Henry Irons, and Wonder Woman saves Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Arthur is attacked by Black Manta, who reveals that he manipulated Ocean Master and plans to kill him when the time is right and take Atlantis for himself. While Black Manta is revealing his plan, Arthur calls a megalodon to attack him, dragging Black Manta underwater. Mera and the League attack Ocean Master, but are once again defeated due to his Trident’s power, as Shazam turned to his normal form, Billy Batson and Cyborg is electrocuted and disabled. Wonder Woman successfully disarms him of the Trident, though she is nearly incapacitated by its energy when she holds it. Superman is stabbed in the chest with it. Curry becomes the last to face Ocean Master. Curry has an upper hand during the because Orm is unable to use its full power on Arthur given his status as Atlantean royalty. Despite this, Ocean Master defeats Arthur with the trident’s power by using it to create a massive blast of power to incapacitate him. Batman saves Cyborg from dying by electrocuting him with a taser device, and Cyborg reveals that he has video of Ocean Master confessing to killing his mother when they were captured. Ocean Master nearly kills Arthur, impaling him on his trident. Cyborg broadcasts Ocean Master’s confession all over Metropolis for Atlantis’ soldiers to see. Stunned by this treachery, the soldiers do not obey Ocean Master’s commands and Arthur uses the distraction to defeat him. He then convinces the soldiers to stand down and declares his desire to bring Atlantis and the surface world together in peace.

Later in Atlantis, Arthur is crowned as king, with the Justice League celebrating among the audience. Batman suggests that, with new threats appearing, they need to solidify the team and Cyborg reveals plans for a watchtower. Arthur joins as Aquaman (which is a nickname everyone on the Internet gave him and he hates), and soon heads with now-love interest Mera against the Trenchers outside Atlantis.

In the post-credits, Ocean Master is incarcerated at Belle Reve, yelling at the guards to release him. He is approached by Lex Luthor who has a proposition


Everyone knows the “big 3” over at DC (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman), but there was a time when you would also include Flash and Aquaman in the mix. Since that time the Flash has become beloved in his own right, but Aquaman has become the punch line of many jokes. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is meant to reintroduce us to the King of the Seas and also prepare us because he also makes his big screen debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

What is this about?

Aquaman is forced to choose sides between the Justice League and Atlantis, when Atlantean warriors begin a war to conquer the surface world, starting with the coastal cities of Gotham and Metropolis.

What did I like?

Grown up. It has been a minute since I last saw a DC Animated film, I think the last one I saw was Son of Batman, but I have noticed that each one has gotten progressively more and more adult, either with the violence, tone, language, etc. Part of me isn’t quite a fan of that, but another part of me looks as what comics are today, especially DC, as opposed to where they were when I was growing up, and it fits. Also, it must be considered that fans that watched those first DC films have grown and matured with each picture. Looking at the preview for The Killing Joke that was released yesterday, I would say maturity level has reached max!

Aquaman. One superhero who has never really received the credit he deserves is Aquaman. I think a good part of this is how he was portrayed in the 60s and 70s Super Friends cartoon. No matter what was done to him in the comics (new outfit, cutting his own arm off, etc.), he just couldn’t be taken seriously. What is really frustrating about this is that a very similar character over at Marvel, Sub-Mariner, doesn’t get this treatment, yet he has the same powers and wings on his feet. Yes, I said wings on his feet…for a guy that spends most of his time underwater! At any rate, I’m glad this, the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us (which made him a total badass, btw), and his big screen debut, played by Jason Momoa, are helping his credibility. Aquaman does not need to contantly be the butt of jokes. Leave that to characters like Ambush Bug, Squirrel Girl, Matter Eater Lad, etc.

Continuity. Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox seemed to give us a point of continuity that all the DC Animated films have used going forward. I like it, because it shows that this Justice League isn’t fully functional, Cyborg is still getting used to his body, and other little details that you can only get if you keep a central story going. I’m sure some films deviate from this plan, but it looks like most are sticking to it, which is a huge plus.

What didn’t I like?

Back off. As usual, DC can’t do anything without Batman or Superman being involved these days. I say these days because everything they’ve done involving Green Lantern has worked without either and the Wonder Woman animated film is still one of their best to date (without either). Why can’t Aquaman have his own film? This is a problem DC has, they think that everything revolves around Batman and Superman, and won’t give the other characters a chance, even on television. Arrow and that whole universe may not show Bats or Supes, but take a good look at how Arrow is portrayed, it is very similar to Batman, more so that it already is. Supergirl is allowed to do the same kind of thing with Superman, because that’s family and he’s part of her story, etc. Back to Aquaman, though, how is he ever going to gain a following that doesn’t think of him as a big joke, if he can’t get out of the shadow of those two?

What’s my motivation? Villains usually are evil for a reason. Total insanity, wronged by a boss, family business, death of a loved one, etc. I’m not exactly sure what Orm’s motivation is? Sure, his father died, but so did Arthur’s and he’s not trying to take over the world!

Justice is not served. Going back to the topic of this being Aquaman’s movie…why do we need the entire Justice League? On top of that, they seemed to take over the film so much that we barely get much of Aquaman’s story. Instead we get Cyborg’s repairs, Superman and Wonder Woman’s relationship, Batman asserting himself as team leader, etc. None of this was necessary, especially for a character that few know about.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is a mixed bag. It offers some good action, a decent story, and gives us an abridged origin of Aquaman. On the flipside though, there is too much Justice League, a villain who doesn’t really know why he’s a bad guy, another one that is just there to be there, and some ok animation. Do I recommend this? Well, if you want this story told better and with a lighter tone, check out the episode on Justice League that featured Aquaman. If you prefer this darker, more violent version, then this may be for you. Personally, I prefer the loud, boisterous Aquaman from Brave & the Bold! Outrageous!

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Hell and Back

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At a rundown pier carnival, idealistic promoter Remy (Nick Swardson) is desperate to bring in business. He is friends with the overweight and odd carnival repairman Augie (T.J. Miller) and the insolent assistant manager Curt Myers (Rob Riggle). After Curt discovers that the bank has foreclosed the carnival, a frustrated Remy heads down to the boat of a fortune-teller named Madame Zonar (Kerri Kenney-Silver), who is in possession of a crying Devil book. Seeing an opportunity to bring in business, Remy tells his friends that people would come around to see the Devil crying and sets the book up at The Gates of Hell, the park’s main ride attraction. When Curt requests a mint Remy has in his possession, Remy forces Curt to take a blood oath so he can pay Remy back with a mint only for Curt to callously admit that he doesn’t have a mint. While Remy and Curt argue, Augie sees strange weather and soon, Curt is sucked into Hell itself through the ride and Remy and Augie take a car from the ride into the portal to rescue Curt.

After landing in Hell, they discover that it is full of green lost souls and aggressive demons. After being discovered, they are taken to the Devil (Bob Odenkirk) himself, who reveals to be an aggressive, if comical being, who is just coming from a meeting. He encounters the duo and while speaking with them, mentions the Greek legend Orpheus who has a reputation for bringing mortals out of Hell. He forces the duo to hide while meeting with an angel from Heaven named Barb (Susan Sarandon) who he is infatuated with. When Barb mentions that she is aware of the mortals in his domain, he tries to show them to her, but discovers that they have escaped and calls out a search for them. Remy and Augie try to use a contraption to escape, but are discovered and are about to be apprehended by demons. Just then, a ship appears and captures them and a demon. On the ship, a mysterious figure disposes of the demon. When the duo tell the figure why they’re here, the figure reveals herself to be a female demon named Deema (Mila Kunis) who Augie becomes infatuated with. She agrees to take them to Curt if they take her to Orpheus They track him using the Devil’s cell phone (which Remy and Augie snagged from his office).

Meanwhile, Curt meets the Devil and hits it off with him pretty swell, but when mentioned that he is being sacrificed for not living up to his blood oath, he persuades the Devil to not sacrifice him via a contract if he puts on a show to win the favor of Barb who had a fling with him while she was dating God. It was God sent the Devil to Hell for this. Remy, Augie, and Demma locate the way to Orpheus which is guarded by Deema’s mother Durmessa (Jennifer Coolidge), but they manage to make it past her. Before Deema passes through, Durmessa warns her that Orpheus isn’t what she expects him to be. They use a submarine to find Orpheus and eventually locate him when he finds them through a giant robot. They discover that Durmessa was right about him as Orpheus (Danny McBride) reveals to be an eccentric slacker who is retired from bringing people out of the Underworld. Remy is the only one who seems to enjoy his lifestyle. After passing 2/3 of Orpheus’s ridiculous tests, he reveals himself to be Deema’s father, as he had a fling with Durmessa, but never came home. Annoyed with Orpheus, Deema leaves and Augie decides to go with her upon being fed up with Remy’s selfishness. After sharing a romantic moment, they discover from the Devil’s cellphone that Curt is being sacrificed at the crossroads and head out to save him.

When Remy finds out where Curt is via Orpheus’s TV, he leaves to find him and uses a Purgatory boat to catch up with his friends and reconciles with them. The Devil goes back on his deal with Curt and decides to sacrifice him anyway. After the Devil retires to the bathroom after he ate Curt’s contract, Remy, Augie, and Deema manage to make it past the Demons guarding Curt and reunite with him. They find themselves at the mercy of the demons and the Devil who decides to sacrifice them all. Having a change of heart, Orpheus attempts to rescue them while disguised as the leader of a demon band, but is also captured. Barb, who the Devil called and showed her the mortals, comes to Hell via a stripper’s pole and she becomes attracted to Orpheus because of his song when he disguised himself. A jealous Devil tries to use a bazooka cannon full of T-shirts to kill Orpheus. When they are escaping, a T-shirt hits Barb, knocking her unconscious. While they are falling, Remy slaps Barb awake, but the group find themselves in the lower regions of hell full of living sex-offender trees. One sex-offender tree (H. Jon Benjamin) had raped Orpheus (which he mentioned multiple times earlier). Orpheus will forgive him if he rapes the Devil, which he does later on.

Remy, Augie, Curt, and Deema are caught and bounded by the trees and when Remy is eventually held down by roots, Curt, while hanging upside down from a tree, drops a mint onto Remy. Although upset at first about Curt keeping this from him, Remy is told that if he eats the mint, the blood oath will be paid. The Devil and a demon try to stop him, but Remy eats it reopening the portal that brought the mortals to hell, sending them back to the land of the living with Deema going with them. When the Devil asks them where Barb is, she eventually appears with Orpheus flying on her, telling him about their relationship, much to his distress. On the surface, the group discovers that Remy’s idea to keep the park open is actually successful as people are lining up with coins in their hands to watch the Devil cry.

6 months later, Remy uses the money to renovate the carnival with attractions that are similar to what is seen in Hell, including an attraction called the “Gates of Heaven” with Orpheus and Barb in it.

The ending credits show a lost soul in Hell and a Demon who keeps misleading him (as he does this many times in the film) with the occurrences ending with the demon saying “Welcome to Hell.”


Back in the fall, I heard a few things about Hell and Back, a small animated film that most definitely is not for kids. Once it left the theater, though, that was the last I heard anyone speak of it, until it popped up on Netflix a couple of weeks ago. Curiosity finally got the better of me and I caved this evening. Hopefully, this won’t be a mistake.

What is this about?

After their buddy is accidentally sucked into hell, two friends set off on a wild quest to rescue him. In the process, the duo encounters more than a few strange spirits, including an alluring angel and the devil himself

What did I like?

Theology meets mythology. Mixing Greek mythology with the theological notion of hell is not something that is done often. When was the last time you heard of Charon ferrying people to the gates of hell, or Orpheus and the devil fighting over an angel? That is what you get here and, while I thought the filmmakers were just trying to cram all character associated with the Underworld, somehow it works!

Location. Everyone has their own personal idea of hell. These filmmakers decided that the portal to hell is located in an amusement park ride called “The Gates of Hell”. Interesting place to have it, right? I actually liked that it was there and didn’t just pop up in some random abandoned warehouse, some unsuspecting person’s house, restaurant, etc.

Creativity. Maybe this was done so that we could tell lost souls from the demons and our mortal stars, but it was a nice touch to have said souls looks like some sort of ghost-type shadow. I wonder if that is what our souls actually look like, since I doubt we will bare any resemblance to these mortal coils in the afterlife. Also, the one soul that was being tortured by the most mundane things, such as no pizza at a Pizza Hut/Taco Bell.

What didn’t I like?

Douche cast. I don’t know if it is how these characters are written or if it is the people voicing them, but I found it hard to like anyone. T.J. Miller’s character may have been the most likable, but that was only because he was often targeted for being a bit on the chubby side. Have we, as a society, reached the point where these are the kind of characters that will populate every film from now on? Who wants to see sarcastic douchebags in everything, as opposed to normal people?

Devil. At first, we see the devil as we all imagine him, a big red, scary guy. Then he changes into something that resembles Fred Astaire, in my opinion, but he’s also pink and one of his horns is bigger than the other. All this to impress the angel, Barb. I get the changing your look and all, even if you are the devil, but pink, seriously?!?

Sex offender forest. This is hell, and every evil thing imaginable is supposed to be down here, but was it really necessary to have an entire forest of rape trees? What’s worse is that we nearly see a rape happen! It was one thing to mention this place in passing and all, but to actually show it seemed a bit much for my taste. Maybe I’m alone in thinking this way, though.

Final verdict on Hell and Back? Not knowing what to expect when I started this film, my expectations were low. As the film went on, I didn’t become anymore enamored with this flick. I believe this was made just as a satire on everyone’s concept of hell, or maybe it was counter programming to all these conservative Christian films that are being released right now. Who knows? If you were to ask me, though, if I would recommend this flick, my answer is no. There just isn’t anything here worth watching. If you want to see a modern take on hell, check out Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, Lucy Daughter of the Devil, or even go back and watch George Burns’ Oh, God! You Devil franchise or either Bedazzled films.

2 out of 5 stars

Teen Beach 2

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2016 by Mystery Man


Modern day teens Mack and Brady get a real world visit from Lela, Tanner, Butchy, and other surfer and biker pals from the beach party film within a film, Wet Side Story.

What people are saying:

What can I say that 92 others haven’t already said? This is such a Disney Movie, is that meant in any kind of bad way? NO WAY. I love my Disney movies, well 98% of them. this one falls in that category. The terrific ones. Did you love the first “Teen Beach”? No reason at all not to love this one too. Wonderful stars, wonderful story, wonderful songs and singing and wonderful dance numbers. now let us look at the 4 prime stars, Leila, couldn’t find her real name sorry, is wonderful and sweet. Mack, Maia Mitchell, has to be a future star. Brady, Ross Lynch, dynamic voice and dancer and pretty easy on the eyes too. Now Tanner, goofy and lovable and seriously adorable played by Garrett Clayton, to me was the stand out.” 5 stars

Liked most of the music and Tanner is hysterical. But, it lacked the same charisma as the first. Mack is still whiney and I definitely hated the end in the “real world”. Kids: girls ages 4 and 12 got bored. I may have been the only one to sit through the whole thing.” 3 stars

A nice try to add on to a good thing. It has all the traditional Walt Disney sentiments and style. It doesn’t quite outdo the first edition, but it is still good family fun.” 4 stars

The movie was going great until the ending. I REALLY hated it because the whole point of the movie was Mack and Brady bonding over their memories on the beach, especially their experience in the Wet Side Story film from the first Teen Beach Movie. I just don’t understand why the filmmakers had to make it look like the two of them never met each other. Honestly, it kind of ruined the magic of the first film which kind of made the second movie very depressing. I would like for someone to let me know what the whole point of this film was because no matter how many times I think about it, I just don’t understand it. This movie did have decent music and dancing, but in my opinion, I wish this movie had never been made because the ending was not only upsetting, but it generally did not make any sense at all.” 1 star

Wasn’t what I was expecting. While the music was great the whole theme of the movie was off – especially the ending. I would have thought the movie would have been about the cast that suddenly appeared on the beach at the end of the first movie. About how they adjusted to life now instead of living in the movie. Very disappointing.” 1 star

Trailer Thursday 3/31

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on March 31, 2016 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

This week, we are going back to the Blaxploitation era for a film that is often overshadowed by its contemporaries, particularly the Shaft franchise, Dolemite.

Words can’t explain this film, so just check out the trailer (and enjoy the rhyming and jive talking)


Posted in Comedy, Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Malcolm Adekanbi (Shameik Moore) is a high school senior. He and his best friends, Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), are described by the narrator as “geeks”. They live in a neighborhood of Inglewood, California called “The Bottoms,” where there is much crime and violence. Malcolm is confident he will be admitted to his dream school, Harvard University, on the strength of his SAT scores and straight-A grades, but his school counselor calls Malcolm arrogant for thinking that Harvard would find his grades impressive, since their school is in a run-down L.A. suburb. He suggests Malcolm take the process more seriously, starting with his upcoming interview with businessman Austin Jacoby (Roger Guenveur Smith), a Harvard alumnus.

While biking home, Malcolm is stopped by a drug dealer named Dom (A$AP Rocky) who instructs Malcolm to invite a girl named Nakia (Zoë Kravitz) to his birthday party. Once there, Malcolm relays Dom’s request and gives her advice on her math homework. Finding him charming, Nakia tells Malcolm to tell Dom that she will only accept his invitation if Malcolm is going. Despite his initial reluctance, Jib and Diggy talk Malcolm into going to the party and taking them with him.

During the party, Dom and his crew meet in a back room to buy high-grade, powdered molly. Suddenly, the transaction is interrupted by rival gang members. Dom hides behind the bar where he finds Malcolm’s backpack, which he fills with drugs and a gun. Then he finds Malcolm, gives him the pack, and shoos away from the club just as the police are sweeping in.

Nakia drives Malcolm home. Malcolm offers to help her study for her GED test, and she says she’ll think about it. The next morning the gun in Malcolm’s backpack sets off the school metal detector, but the security guard knows Malcolm’s good reputation, lets him go and assumes that the metal detector is malfunctioning. At his locker, Malcolm looks in his backpack and discovers the drugs, gun, and an iPhone. He deduces that Dom slipped them into his bag during the shootout. Immediately, an unknown man calls the iPhone. The man reveals that he knows Malcom’s identity and whereabouts, and demands that Malcolm turn over the drugs to him after school that day. After school, Malcolm begins to undertake the handover as instructed, but is interrupted by another call, this time from Dom, who is in custody. Dom warns Malcolm that he’s being lured into a trap, and advises him to flee. He texts Malcolm an address and tells him to ask for AJ.

Malcolm, Jib, and Diggy flee to the address that Dom sent them. They find themselves at the doors of a mansion, greeted by young man named Jaleel (Quincy Brown) and his sister Lily (Chanel Iman). Since their father, AJ, won’t be home until later, Jaleel invites the three inside. Jaleel takes Jib and Diggy out to get food while Malcolm stays with Lily, who seduces Malcolm and offers to take his virginity. Lily finds the molly in his backpack and gives herself a heavy dose. She straddles Malcolm and vomits on his face. Malcolm then gets a phone call reminding him of his alumni interview. Lily offers to drive him there, though she is still high and drives recklessly through the streets until she passes out. As Malcolm desperately tries to wake her Lily springs up, yelling that she has to pee. She runs out of the car and squats to pee on a bush in front of a coffee shop while bystanders stare and record the incident. Malcolm takes her car and drives to the meeting himself.

Malcolm arrives at the office of Austin Jacoby for his interview. While waiting for Jacoby, he notices photos of Dom, Lily, and Jaleel in the man’s office. Realizing Austin Jacoby is AJ, Malcolm relays Dom’s instructions to deliver the drugs to him, but Jacoby denies any knowledge. Jacoby suggests that since Dom can no longer sell the drugs, it is now Malcolm’s responsibility to do so. Jacoby implies that if Malcolm succeeds, he will see to it that Harvard admits Malcolm. He then reschedules the interview, with the implication that if Malcolm has not sold the drugs by then, Harvard will be the least of his worries.

With no other options, Malcolm, Jib, and Diggy seek help from a college student, Will Sherwood (Blake Anderson), whom they met at band camp years ago, a stoner and a master hacker. Will helps the three set up a black-market online store to sell the drugs through bitcoin transactions, which are virtually untraceable. Before long, Will’s viral marketing campaign has turned the trio’s website into the go-to source for L.A. college students. He manages to link their store to a meme from the footage of Lily peeing in public.

Malcolm helps Nakia study and she opens up to him about the stress of dealing with guys like Dom. Malcolm pushes her away, accusing her of being sent there by Dom to gather info on the drugs. Offended, Nakia leaves and says Malcolm is just like all the other guys after all. The next day, he consults with Will to figure out how to extract cash from the bitcoins they’ve amassed, and he tells Malcolm that he will arrange a meeting with a money-laundering gangster named Fidel (Kap-G). The meeting goes as planned, and Malcolm leaves with a bag full of cash.

While returning with the bag of cash, Malcolm is assaulted by the school bully who quickly overpowers him and takes the bag of money. Malcolm, desperate, decides to defend himself by pulling a gun, getting the money back, and earning the bully’s respect.

Malcolm returns to Jacoby’s office and reveals that he linked the bitcoin account to Jacoby’s personal accounts. He has brought with him the bag with cash worth 10% of the earnings. Malcolm has programmed a fail-safe, if anything happens to him the money will automatically be transferred to Jacoby’s account on its own. Malcolm then insists that Jacoby get him into Harvard or lose everything to the government.

Malcolm types his college application essay. He describes two students – Student A is a music geek that plays in a punk band and gets straight As, while Student B suffers in the hood and makes money in immoral ways. He asks, “Which student do you think I am?” Malcolm waits for Nakia at the prom, but she does not show. Nakia waits for Malcolm at his home and thanks him for helping her pass her GED, gives him a pass to Six Flags, and kisses him on the cheek.

Malcolm enters his room to find a large envelope from Harvard on his bed. He opens it and looks to the audience for a moment before smiling


Throwback to the 90s for a little while with me, will you? Remember the outlandish outfits and haircuts we all had? The Afro-centric culture that wanted so bad to take over? Don’t even get me started on the pop/rock scene. How about the notion that everything was “dope”, “fly”, or “fresh”? Well, Dope sort of takes that idea, but is that what the title really means?

What is this about?

In the tough neighborhood of the Bottoms, high school senior Malcolm sports his own funky style while working hard to gain admission to a top college. But his clean-cut perspective take an unexpected turn when a local drug dealer befriends him.

What did I like?

Music appreciation. Young people today just don’t seem to have any kind of respect for music that hasn’t come out in the last year or two, unless they are hipsters, then they just appreciate it “ironically”, as they say. The central characters of this film have their heads on their shoulders. Not only do they love 90s rap/hip-hop, affectionately referred to as the “Golden Age”, but they know why they like it, as compared to this filth that poisons the airwaves today. The soundtrack reflects a similar taste in music, consisting of mostly old-school hip-hop, but mixing in some rock, punk, funk, etc.

Fresh faces. If you look at the cast of this film, the only name you recognize is Zoe Kravitz. She’s a bit of an up and comer, but far from being a big star. The rest of this cast is new to the scene, including A$AP Rocky, who is mostly known to those in the current hip-hop scene. In case you haven’t noticed this year, but celebrities are dropping like flies. Soon, this epidemic, for lack of a better term, is going to reach the likes of Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson, etc., and they will need to be replaced. This is why it is good to develop fresh faces. I need to some more work from this cast, but they could very well be the future of Hollywood if they play their cards right. I mean they carry this film with no name recognition. Imagine what they’ll be able to do when they do make a name for themselves!

N word. If you’ve made it this far in life without knowing the repercussions, history, and bad feelings behind the “N” word, then I truly feel sorry for you and the educational system in which you were brought up in. That being said, there is a dialogue about why certain people can use is and others can’t. Personally, I’ve always wondered why there has seemed to be a double standard. For instance, if a white guy says the word on their radio show, they’d be suspended/fired, but any other race, except maybe Asian, were to say it, and society goes about their day. Weird, huh? Well, listen to the truth being laid out about halfway in this film. Trust me, it doesn’t get too deep, there is a comedic resolution. This isn’t Dear White People or a Spike Lee joint, after all.

What didn’t I like?

Long in the tooth. Clocking at nearly 2 hrs, this isn’t an overly long film. The tone is one that bounces back and forth from comedy to drama, which works given the source material. However, it is the way the film comes to a conclusion that bothers me. I felt as if 5-10 minutes could have been cut out or perhaps the speech he gives that seemed like it came from a Spike Lee movie could have been placed nearer the conclusion, because it felt like that was the end, making the rest of the film just feel added on.

Metal detector. I have had the “privilege” of visiting to a couple of schools with metal detectors and, from what I’ve seen, they don’t care who you are when that thing goes off, they carry you to some back room somewhere. This is why it is so perplexing that they just let these kids go through with that thing going off everyday. Once or twice is ok, because that could just be a glitch, but when it becomes an everyday habit, something needs to be done. What if he had actually wanted to do something with those guns, I mean he was being bullied and having his shoes stolen, after all.

Are you gonna go my way? Zoe Kravitz’ character felt to me like the token hot chick in the neighborhood, which she was. I don’t think she has ever looked this good, almost like her mom (Lisa Bonet) in her prime. That said, when they give her character some…um…character, it opens up many possibilities for where she can go. Sadly, the filmmakers decide to have our leading man insult her and cause her to blow up on him and we don’t see her again until the end of the film. I felt as if we could have done with more of her. The audience deserves to see where her story was headed, rather than assume certain things happened to her while she was taking her GED.

Final thoughts on Dope? There are some interesting themes here. Take for instance the plight of the African-American geek growing up in the bad neighborhood, aspiring to escape to Harvard. For about the first 10-15 minutes of this film, or however long it takes for Forrest Whitaker to start narrating, one would think this is set in the 90s. For a minute or two, I questioned whether this should be set in that time period, then I see how it all plays into the plot. Back to the themes, the drug running and corrupt man in power, I forgot what his job exactly was, also was intriguing. With that said, every now and then it shows that this is an independent film, which is sure to turn some people away. Not may people are looking to watch a film that has its nose up in the air and talking down to them. So, do i recommend this? I feel like i should say yes, but I don’t think I can do that. I’m not saying one shouldn’t watch, either, though.

3 out of 5 stars


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