Revisited: Robin Hood

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Alan-a-Dale introduces the story of Robin Hood and Little John, two outlaws living in Sherwood Forest, where they rob from the rich and give to the poor townsfolk of Nottingham, despite the efforts of the Sheriff of Nottingham to stop them. Meanwhile, Prince John and his assistant Sir Hiss arrive in Nottingham on a tour of the kingdom. Knowing the royal coach is laden with riches, Robin and Little John rob Prince John by disguising themselves as fortune tellers. The embarrassed Prince John then puts a bounty on their heads and makes the Sheriff his personal tax collector, who takes pleasure in collecting funds from the townsfolk including hidden money from the crippled blacksmith Otto and a single farthing from a young rabbit, Skippy, who had just received it as a birthday present. However, Robin Hood, disguised as a beggar, sneaks in and gives back some money to the family, as well as his hat and a bow to Skippy in honor of his birthday.

Skippy and his friends test out the bow, but Skippy fires an arrow into the grounds of Maid Marian’s castle. The children sneak inside, meeting Maid Marian and her attendant Lady Kluck. Maid Marian reveals she and Robin were childhood sweethearts but they have not seen one another for years. Meanwhile, Friar Tuck visits Robin and Little John, explaining that Prince John is hosting an archery tournament, and the winner will receive a kiss from Maid Marian. Robin decides to participate in the tournament disguised as a stork whilst Little John disguises himself as the Duke of Chutney to get near Prince John. Sir Hiss discovers Robin’s identity but is trapped in a barrel of ale by Friar Tuck and Alan-a-Dale. Robin wins the tournament, but Prince John exposes him and has him arrested for execution despite Maid Marian’s pleas. Little John threatens Prince John in order to release Robin, which leads to a fight between Prince John’s soldiers and the townsfolk, all of which escape to Sherwood Forest.

As Robin and Maid Marian fall in love again, the townsfolk mock Prince John, describing him as the “Phony King of England”. Enraged by the insult, Prince John triples the taxes, imprisoning most of the townsfolk who cannot pay. The Sheriff visits Friar Tuck’s church to collect from the poor box, but when Friar Tuck protests, the Sheriff arrests him for high treason. Prince John plans to execute Friar Tuck, giving him the chance to capture Robin Hood when he comes to rescue Friar Tuck.

Robin and Little John sneak in, with Little John managing to free all of the prisoners whilst Robin steals Prince John’s taxes, but Sir Hiss awakens to find Robin fleeing. Chaos follows as Robin and the others try to escape to Sherwood Forest. The Sheriff corners Robin after he is forced to return to rescue Tagalong. During the chase, Prince John’s castle catches fire and forces a trapped Robin Hood to leap from a tower into the moat below. Little John and Skippy fear Robin is lost, but he surfaces safely after using a reed as a breathing tube, which drives Prince John into a blind rage.

Later, King Richard returns to England, placing his brother, Sir Hiss and the Sheriff under arrest and allows his niece Maid Marian to marry Robin Hood, turning the former outlaw into an in-law.

REVIEW:

I remember growing up and going to visit one my mom’s church friends. Her kids were a little younger than me, but we bonded over Disney (this was at a time before it became the corrupt, money-grubbing company that it is today). They had all the VHS copies of movies, or they had recorded them from Disney channel. The one that we watched the most was Robin Hood and, to this day, it remains my 2nd or 3rd favorite Disney flick.

What is this about?

Prince John sets about taxing Nottingham’s citizens with staunch opposition by the wily Robin Hood and his band of merry men.

What did I like?

Just like animals. It may come as a surprise, but this is the only Disney film that used talking animals. Let me explain. Sure, there are talking animals in nearly every Disney film, but none of them are anthropomorphized. On top of that, these animals are just wearing clothes in the human world, a la The Great Mouse Detective, for example. The only other (full-length) Disney film, that I can think of, which doesn’t use any humans is The Lion King. I think this is why a film like this is so different from the rest. We have anthropomorphized animals as the cast, not a human in sight, and it is unique in doing so.

Know your audience. As a boy watching this, I remember having feeling of, as young Skippy so eloquently states in the picture, “Yuck! Sissy stuff!” Truth is, this is one of the few Disney films that had a male protagonist. To this day, that is still true, believe it or not. As such, it was marketed more towards the boys, but had parts for girls, too. I like how the film was able to balance the comedy and action with hints of romance. Take for instance Robin and Maid Marian’s song, “Love”. This was an Oscar nominated, gorgeous piece of music, but it is also barely clocking in at 2 minutes, I think. For the boys, that is not something they wanted to see, but they still had to appease the females.

Fight song. For the general viewer, when Lady Cluck takes on the rhino guards as everyone is escaping the archery tournament they hear random band music. A little out of place for the film, but fits perfectly for the football game that the imagery is intending to portray. Well, unless you are into college fight songs, you probably didn’t notice that this was a melody of a couple of popular fight songs, USC and Wisconsin. Being a college football fan and former marching band member, this was something that really could appreciate.

What didn’t I like?

Pink elephants. Sir Hiss, after spying on Robin Hood, gets caught by Friar Tuck and Alan-a-Dale and placed in a barrel of Ale. While he didn’t come out seeing pink elephants like Dumbo and Timothy in Dumbo, I couldn’t help but wonder if that was something they toyed around with, but decided against because it would be too similar. I’m sure they could have placed him somewhere more strategic that a barrel of ale so that he could get drunk.

More costumes. Some of the best scenes in the film are when Robin and Little John are dressed up in costume, so I ask you, why aren’t there more of these? It boggles the mind! In the film’s defense, a good part of the film is spent at the archery tournament where they both are in disguise. I’m selfish, though, and want more! Also, more of little John wouldn’t hurt. Phil Harris is a great performer, as we’ve seen when he’s Thomas O’Malley and Baloo the Bear, but they just reigned him in here and kept the leash pulled almost too tight. I felt Little John should be a bit more jovial, at least in this incarnation.

Jump to the end. The ending has always bothered me. In one scene Prince John and Sir Hiss see Robin Hood come up from the water after apparently falling to his watery grave and threaten to finish him off and then, literally, the next scene is Robin and Maid Marian getting married at the behest of King Richard while Prince John, Sir Hiss, and the Sheriff split rocks as prisoners. Apparently, there is an alternate ending which ties things up a bit nicer, but takes a darker turn. I could care less about the dark tone, just give me a complete story!

Admittedly, I’m not the best person to speak unbiasedly about Robin Hood. I will say, though, that if you are a fan of the swashbuckling adventures from classic Hollywood, you should really enjoy this film. Some scenes seem as if they were taken straight from the Errol Flynn film. That being said, as mentioned before, the ending is a misstep in my eyes. Is it enough for me to dissuade anyone from watching? No, I highly recommend this as a film one must see (many times) before they die!

5 out of 5 stars

The Opposite of Sex and How to Live with Them

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , on April 6, 2015 by Mystery Man

The Opposite Sex and How to Live with Them

PLOT:

Jewish Jack-the-lad David seriously fancies smart, rich Anglo-Saxon Carrie as soon as he first offends her in a Boston bar. They run into each other again and though she still says she finds him appalling he works on it and they are soon together. His even more reprehensible best mate and her blousy best friend watch bemused as the two fall deeply in love and then apparently as fatally out again.

REVIEW:

Men and women rarely see eye to eye on things. As a matter of fact, our brains are wired completely different. The Opposite Sex and How to Live with Them does its best job of showing these thoughts and such, but is it worth your time?

What is this about?

David fancies Carrie as soon as he first offends her in a bar. When they run into each other again, David tries to correct their bad first encounter.

What did I like?

Chapters. Like a good book, this film is divided into chapter. As we are introduced to these chapters, there I a quick little animation that goes along with the chapter name. It really isn’t much, but it does lighten the mood and remind us that this is a comedy, which I appreciated.

What a Pollack. Speaking of comedy, Kevin Pollack is perhaps the funniest thing in here. He’s a comedian, though, what did we really expect. He is the token funny friend who gives bad advice but it still there no matter what. Also, he is able to relate to the audience, as well.

She can be my friend. Man, Courtney Cox used to be such a hottie! I mean, she ok now, but its like somewhere after Friends ended that she just became anorexic and still hasn’t fully recovered. I was just looking at pictures of her and it seems as if her head went from regular shape to some sort of pointy thing. At any rate, anytime we get young Courtney Cox is a real treat and we get her in a 2 piece bathing suit (not quite a bikini, though), so that is just icing on the cake!

What didn’t I like?

Apartment. I have to question how it is that Courtney Cox was able to cook Arye Gross’ character out of his apartment. Yes, they were living together, but it was her that moved in with him. I’m pretty sure she didn’t sign part of a lease or anything when she moved in, so what right did she to kick him out of his own apartment? If anything, she should have just gone back to her old place or, and I know this is something impossible for females to do, use rationale and talk things over *GASP*

Beach bums. Gross’ friends are horrible human beings, but that is part of their charm. Why are they horrible? Well, one of his friends hits on Courtney, knowing that she is with Gross. Granted, this can be seen as a compliment, but there is still such a thing a respecting boundaries. Something worse that happens is that Pollack absconded with her and apparently they all play strip charades or something with her, I forgot what the game was exactly since they don’t show us. She apparently is very offended by this, but at the same time, one has to wonder, if it was that bad, why did you go through with it?

Say something. I feel as if this is a film that has much to say on the topic of men and women, but its voice was stifled either by censorship, fear, or bad writing. Had this film let go, though, I am curious as to what the finished project would have been and what sort of topics, conversation, and whatever else gets in the way.

Were you hoping to get answer from Agent Peggy Carter? Perhaps some tips akin to those we get in The Mating Habits for Dating the Earthbound Human were what you were expecting? Well, despite the title, The Opposite Sex and How to Live with Them does nothing but confuse one more than he already. I definitely do not recommend this, thee is nothing redeeming enough to warrant a watch, so you are better off avoiding.

2 out of 5 stars

Neighbors

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) are a young couple with a newborn daughter, Stella. The restrictions of parenthood make it difficult for them to maintain their old lifestyle, which alienates them from their friends Jimmy Blevins (Ike Barinholtz) and his ex-wife, Paula (Carla Gallo). One day, the couple finds out that Delta Psi Beta, a fraternity known for their outrageous parties, has moved into an adjacent house. The fraternity’s leaders, Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) and Pete Regazolli (Dave Franco), aspire to join Delta Psi’s Hall of Fame by throwing a massive end-of-the-year party.

One night, the couple ask Teddy to keep the noise down. Teddy agrees on the condition that Mac and Kelly always call him instead of calling the police. To earn Mac and Kelly’s favor, Teddy invites them to join the party, which the couple agree to. At the party, Kelly meets Teddy’s girlfriend, Brooke Shy (Halston Sage), and Teddy shows Mac his bedroom, which includes a stash of fireworks and a breaker box that controls their power.

The following night, Mac is unable to get in touch with Teddy to ask him to keep it down. Kelly convinces Mac to call the police, but Officer Watkins (Hannibal Buress) identifies them to Teddy. The following day, Delta Psi constantly hazes Mac and Kelly. The couple goes to the college dean, Carol Gladstone (Lisa Kudrow), and learn that the school has a three strikes policy; burning down their old house was Delta Psi’s first strike.

After failing to force the fraternity to move by damaging their house, Kelly manipulates Pete and Brooke into having sex and Mac gets Teddy to catch them. Teddy and Pete fight, which ends with a barbecue grill being rolled into the path of a passing car and injuring a professor, giving Delta Psi their second strike. To acquire evidence of Delta Psi’s hazing, Kelly and Mac hire a pledge nicknamed Assjuice (Craig Roberts) to stand up to Teddy to record him threatening retaliation. When Teddy instead shows him kindness, he reveals that Mac and Kelly hired him and also damaged their house. Teddy begins playing violent pranks on the couple.

Mac and Kelly send Teddy a counterfeit letter from Gladstone enabling them to have parties again, and Teddy begins planning their end-of-the-year bash. Once the party is in full swing, the Radners call Watkins to complain about the noise. Teddy discovers the random strangers sent by Mac, Kelly and Jimmy. After finding a flyer about the party and determining the letter is counterfeit, he stops the party just as Watkins arrives. Jimmy throws himself from the balcony to distract Teddy, allowing Mac and Kelly to sneak into Teddy’s bedroom and restart the party using the breaker box. Teddy catches them and fights Mac, while Kelly lights one of the fireworks and shoots it at Watkins’s patrol car. Teddy takes the blame for the party and convinces Pete to take the others and flee. Gladstone shuts the house down and Mac and Kelly return home, adjusting to their new lives.

Four months later, Mac is at an outdoor shopping mall when he runs into Teddy, who is working as a shirtless greeter at Abercrombie & Fitch. The two greet each other warmly and Teddy tells Mac that he is attending night classes to complete his degree. Mac takes off his shirt and jokingly acts as a greeter with Teddy.

Mac and Kelly later take pictures of Stella dressed in various costumes for a calendar. They get a call from Jimmy and Paula, who are attending Burning Man and invite the couple to come, including Stella. Mac and Kelly decline, accepting their new roles as parents.

REVIEW:

Growing up as a military brat, I am more than aware of what it is like to be the new neighbor moving into the neighborhood. What happens, though, when the new folks to move in are a fraternity and you’re just a quiet young couple with a new baby? Neighbors aims to answer that question.

What is this about?

New parents Mac and Kelly Radner love their neighborhood — until a rowdy fraternity moves next door and changes the block into party central. As Mac tries to restore a baby-friendly environment, an epic battle ensues.

What did I like?

Fratboy douche. Fraternities have not been portrayed in the greatest light on film. Before I went to college, I thought this was a bit of a stereotype and/or exaggeration, but after meeting a few frat boys and going to some parties, I can say this is most certainly not true, as they are pretty much like this. I have to hand it to Zac Efron, though, this is a guy that has made a solid name for himself post-Disney and continues to do so with a myriad of different roles. On top of that, he has that look that frat boy presidents tend to have, so kudos to him and the casting director.

Airbags. One of the best gags in the film has to do with airbags. I won’t spoil exactly what it is, but I will say that it was a stroke of genius for the frat to get the upper hand on the “old people”. I’m not sure how they managed to break into places and get the airbags or how they managed to get them work at just the right time, but it had me rolling on the floor laughing.

Husband and wife. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne. Two people who you never would expect to be married (I’ll touch on that in a bit) actually have some terrific chemistry. Usually with Byrne, she’s playing some super stuffy character that just needs to let loose once in a while whole Rogen is the laid back pothead. In a way they are still those same character, but Byrne is a much looser version and Rogen is…well, let’s just say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! There are times between these two that I really did think they were husband and wife. Hopefully, we’ll get to see them work together again in some form or another.

What didn’t I like?

Assface. There is this character, a pledge for the fraternity, called Assface. Rogen and Byrne manage to trick him into spying and betraying his frat, but something happens and he just cracks. Ok, that happens, but then he just goes on spilling the beans about everything else that happened. Here’s my problem with that. First off, there is something seriously wrong with a guy if he can’t keep anything secret. Second, why would they trust him with that information?!? This is a freshman in college pledging a fraternity. He is going to do any and everything to get in, and that includes turn on you at the first chance he gets. I can’t believe they didn’t know that!

Other neighbors. With the exception of one scene, we don’t see or hear anything from the other neighbors and in that scene it is shown that the frat is getting them “on their side”. Look, I don’t care how firmly planted in someone’s camp I am, if they consistently play loud music at 3 or 4 in the morning, I will lodge a complaint. That may be me sounding like an old “fuddy-duddy”, but I need my sleep! Judging by the looks of these neighbors, they would complain if someone looked at them wrong, so I don’t get why there weren’t more complaints. Also, and this is probably the biggest flaw in the film…how does a fraternity movie into a nice neighborhood like that?!?

Ralph Cramden. The fat guy and the hot wife. We’ve been seeing this trend since The Honeymooners, at least. I don’t have a problem with it, other than wondering how in the world a guy like Rogen lands a hot, international chick like Byrne. It leaves me dumbfounded. I want to know his secret!  Seriously, though, my biggest pet peeve with these two has to do with a sex scene they have. We see a nude Rogen on top of poor Rose Byrne (who is actually clothed, as someone just pointed out to me) and it looks like he’s smothering the poor woman. Thank goodness this was for a comedic scene with the frat boys being voyeurs because that was not sexy at all. Speaking of sexy, we get to see Rogen’s bare ass, but what about Rose’s goodies? Well, she does whip them out in some strange breastfeeding scene, but it is far from hot, as they are all veiny and weird. Why this film teased us with that, I don’t know!

Neighbors is the kind of film that you know exists and you want to check it out and some point, but just never get around to it. Don’t get me wrong, it does have some good parts, but the parts that aren’t, well, they really aren’t! While not totally horrible, this is a film that did nothing to make the audience think it is anything more than some half-baked National Lampoon’s Animal House clone where the original formula has been so diluted, all that remains is a raunchy college fraternity. I have to say this is not something I would recommend, but I won’t fault you for watching.

3 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 4/2

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on April 2, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

Tomorrow is Doris Day’s birthday, and this is “Jazz in our schools month”, so this week’s trailer should tie both of those loose ends up nicely.

Tea for Two is a 1950 musical that, at least judging by the trailer, I need to check out at some point. It is also a popular song in the jazz world. The version I am most familiar with is Tommy Dorsey’s.

Enjoy the trailer!

Rio 2

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Blu and Jewel enjoy life in Rio with their 3 kids, the oldest and music-loving Carla, book smart Bia, and the youngest and mischievous Tiago. Meanwhile, Blu’s former owner, Linda Gunderson and her ornithologist husband, Tulio are on an expedition in the Amazon and eventually discover a quick-flying spix’s macaw that loses one of its feathers. When word gets out about this through television, Jewel believes that they should go to the Amazon to help find the blue macaws. While the kids are ecstatic, Blu is uncertain, but is pressured into going along. Rafael, Nico and Pedro decide to come along. Luiz attempts to follow, but fails. Blu brings a fanny pack full of supplies, one of which he uses mostly is a GPS, much to Jewel’s displeasure.

Meanwhile, the leader of a group that is in a line of illegal logging named Big Boss, discovers Linda and Tulio’s expedition to find the macaws and orders his henchmen to hunt them down to avoid disruptions to their work. Also, Blu and Jewel’s old nemesis, Nigel the cockatoo, has survived the plane crash from the first film, but is now unable to fly and is working as a fortune teller/con artist. When he sees Blu and his family flying overhead of him, he immediately decides to seek revenge on them. He enlists two minions to help him in his plans; a silent anteater named Charlie and a poison dart frog named Gabi, the latter of which is in love with Nigel. Blu and his family use a boat to get to the jungle (with Nigel’s first plan of revenge being inadvertently foiled by Charlie), and when they arrive, they find nothing in sight. However, they are eventually taken to a flock of blue macaws that are hiding in a secret paradise land. There, they meet Jewel’s stern long lost father, Eduardo, his older sister Mimi, and Jewel’s childhood friend, Roberto. Eduardo seems unimpressed with Blu’s domesticated human behavior.

While searching for the macaws, Linda and Tulio are eventually trapped by the loggers. Meanwhile, Blu does his best to fit in with the flock, as his family and friends are doing, although the flock (especially Eduardo) are against humans and all things human. Meanwhile, a disguised Nigel plans to kill Blu at the new Carnival show after landing in an audition hosted by Rafael, Nico, Pedro, and Carla. When Blu tries to pick a Brazilian nut for Jewel, he accidentally tries to get it in the territory of the Spix Macaw’s enemies, the Scarlet macaws, led by the hostile Felipe. Blu inadvertently causes war between the two tribes for food when he accidentally hits Felipe with a twig. The war turns out to be just like football (soccer), and Blu accidentally costs the flock the food when he sends the fruit ball into his own team’s goal.

Blu visits Tulio and Linda’s site, where he discovers that it has been majorly disturbed. After discovering the loggers are destroying the jungle, Blu sends Roberto (who followed Blu) to warn the flock as he saves Linda and Tulio. Blu persuades the macaws to defend their homes, and they easily outmatch the loggers with help from the Scarlet macaws and the other animals. Big Boss tries to blow up the trees as a back-up plan, but Blu steals the lit dynamite. Nigel goes after Blu, and reveals himself as they are falling down when he tugs on the dynamite. After the dynamite goes off, Blu and Nigel engage in a battle while tangled in vines. Gabi and Charlie try to help Nigel by shooting Blu with a dart that has Gabi’s poison on it, but it accidentally hits Nigel, who gives a Shakespearean death speech before seemingly dying. Gabi tries to commit suicide by drinking her own poison and the pair are seemingly dead. However, Bia reveals that Gabi isn’t poisonous at all (she was lied to by her parents that she was). Nigel tries to attack Blu one last time, but Gabi showers Nigel with affection against his will. Meanwhile, Big Boss is eaten alive by a boa constrictor.

With the flock now under Linda and Tulio’s protection, Blu and Jewel decide to live in the Amazon with their kids and friends, though still agreeing to visit Rio in the summer. Meanwhile, Nigel and Gabi are captured by Tulio and are both taken back to Rio, Luiz finally arrives in the Amazon after hitching a ride with Kipo, and Charlie joins the birds’ party.

REVIEW:

I was not the biggest fan of Rio, the first film featuring a rare blue macaw, but apparently more than a few people liked it. How else do you explain the existence of Rio 2? Here’s hoping this is better and not just some cruel April Fool’s joke someone is playing on me.

What is this about?

Blu, Jewel and their three youngsters visit the Amazon, where they find adventure, friends old and new, and even a little danger. The family finds the rain forest in peril, but first they must contend with their old nemesis, Nigel the cockatoo.

What did I like?

Singing frog. Kristin Chenoweth had a recognizable voice, so casting her is really a no-brainer. When casting her, especially in a kids film such as this, it is almost automatic that she’s going to get the chance to belt out at least one number. Considering how we can’t see her vertically challenged cuteness, then we as the audience expect nothing less and I believe the filmmakers knew this, as well. Why else would that little pink frog have a song in a film that really isn’t a musical?

Colors. If there is one thing to be said about this film, it doesn’t skimp on the colors! They are brilliant, vibrant, and plentiful. Even in the darker parts of the film, we are blasted in the face with color, but not in a way to make us wish for less, just enough to keep respectful to the region. I can respect that and wish more films of this, or any, nature would take note and use the color palette as liberally.

What didn’t I like?

Bigger does not always mean better. I don’t care what franchise it is, when it comes time for the sequel, there is more money, which makes filmmaker go bigger. This does not equal better, though. Using the jungle setting of most of the film seemed like a good idea, especially with the 3D, but other than the birds, we really didn’t see any wildlife. This brings into question, why use the jungle at all. Wouldn’t have just been easier to keep everyone in Rio and bring in these new birds? I just didn’t get it.

Length. For a children’s film, I felt this was too long. Sure, the aforementioned bright colors will keep kids’ attention, but what about the adults and/or older siblings that are forced to watch with them? This story is not strong enough to justify the nearly 2 hour run time. A good 30 minutes needed to be cut, methinks.

Enough Eisenberg. I will never be a fan of Jesse Eisenberg. The guy is a no-talent hack who somehow has a career. His voice grates on me, and it is even worse in animated form. The stammering thing he does is not cute. In comparison, Jay Baruchel has a much more annoying voice, but at least he’s doesn’t annoy the living %!#%^@$& when he talks.

Final verdict on Rio 2? Well, it is definitely a sequel. I don’t really have much to say on this other than that. I mean, the first film was forgettable and this one follows suit. Other than some inspired voice casting with the likes of Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Moreno, Bruno Mars, etc., this is just a mess of a film that only got the greenlight because kids can be sold just about anything these days. I do not recommend this!

2 out of 5 stars

The Quick and the Dead

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , on March 31, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

An unnamed gunslinger, referred to as The Lady, enters the Old West town of Redemption circa 1881 where she enters a single elimination gunfighting contest held by Redemption’s ruthless leader, John Herod, a former outlaw. She meets Cort, a former Herod henchman turned reverend, whom Herod captures and forces to enter the contest; and Fee, also known as “The Kid,” a brash young gun shop owner who hopes to impress Herod, whom he believes to be his father, by winning the contest. Though now a preacher, Cort is an amazingly fast and talented gunfighter, and the only man that Herod truly respects and fears. Herod covers this by treating Cort cruelly, denying him water, beating him and keeping him chained to an old fountain.

In the first round of duels, The Kid defeats a Swedish quick-draw champion, while Herod kills braggart Ace Hanlon, who had taken credit for some of Herod’s own accomplishments. The Lady defeats an old enemy she left shackled to a wagon, while Cort defeats one of Herod’s men who thought he was getting an easy kill. Herod later learns that the townspeople have secretly hired a bounty hunter, Clay Cantrell, to enter the contest and kill him. The next day, Herod declares that all remaining duels must be to the death, then kills Cantrell when the two face off against one another. Herod angrily informs the townspeople that since they had enough money to hire Cantrell, he will raise their taxes. Later that day, during a rainstorm, the Lady duels and guns down a competitor who has sexually abused the bartender’s young daughter.

Flashbacks reveal that The Lady’s true name is Ellen, and she had grown up in Redemption, where her father was the town’s Marshal. One day Herod and his men invaded the town, killed all the deputies and tied her father to the gallows. Herod gave Ellen a gun and offered to let her shoot the rope and free him. However, she missed and killed her father instead. Seeking revenge, she has come to Redemption with the intent of killing Herod. However, an uncomfortable dinner date with Herod leaves Ellen unsure about whether or not she can go through with it and she attempts to flee. She then reunites with the town’s local doctor, Wallace, who was also her father’s best friend. The old man convinces her to return to Redemption and free the town from Herod.

With Ellen, Cort, Herod and The Kid left as the four remaining contestants, Kid challenges Herod to a duel to win his respect. Although Herod and the Kid both injure each other with bullet wounds, Kid’s wounds prove fatal and he dies in Ellen’s arms. Herod is saddened by the Kid’s death, but does not publicly acknowledge the Kid as his son. When Ellen and Cort are forced to face each other, they refuse to open fire and Cort only shoots Ellen after Herod threatens to kill them both. Cort furiously challenges Herod to a duel the next day, but seconds before their duel, Ellen suddenly reappears after using the Kid’s stolen dynamite to blow up Herod’s illegitimate business establishments. She and Cort had faked her death with help from Wallace and a blind salesman.

In the confusion, Cort dispatches Herod’s men while Ellen goes on to fight Herod. Although Herod outdraws and shoots Ellen in the arm, she shoots him in the chest and finishes him once and for all with a well-aimed gunshot to the eye. With Herod gone and the law restored, Cort becomes the new Marshal of the town as Ellen rides off into the sunset.

REVIEW:

Sometimes, there are genres that seem to do nothing but repeat themselves over and over again, such as with westerns. In this case, someone needs to come in and do something different, or at least attempt it, no matter what the financial result will be. The Quick and the Dead is a film that takes such a chance.

What is this about?

In this offbeat Western, a lady gunslinger arrives in a frontier town seeking revenge for the murder of her sheriff father by town boss John Herod.

What did I like?

Tournament. Maybe it is the fact that I love fighting like Mortal Kombat so much (until I get bored with fighting the same guys over and over again), or maybe it is the March Madness thing that is going on right now, but I am a sucker for a good tournament. In a stroke of genius, someone decided that it would be a good idea to use gunfighters instead of martial artists in a tournament. While the execution of said tournament isn’t flawless, I can appreciate it. Really, how many of us have thought of a tournament of our favorite gangsters, heroes, villains, etc. This is the same concept, just using gunmen from this, universe, if you will.

Lady Stone. What’s this?!? A female lone gunman that seems to be the hero of the film? Say it ain’t so! Believe it or not, Sharon Stone is the star of this picture. Much like Clint Eastwood’s character in the “Man with no name trilogy”, we don’t know much about her at first, other than she has a hero side to her and knows her way around a pistol. When I think about it, all westerns, with the exception of Bandidas, use women as housewives, whores, eye candy, and/or some kind of sidekick. Stone, who was still riding high from Basic Instinct 3 or 4 years earlier, would have been perfect for a more feminine part, but she took a chance as a lead, standing toe to toe with the big boys. I don’t think she did too bad a job, myself.

Not a Hack…man. Gene Hackman is at his finest villain role here, perhaps even better than Lex Luthor in Superman II. He plays an outlaw gunman who has apparently killed the local lawman and taken over the town, ruling it with fear tactics and taxing them into poverty. In other words, this guy is just plain evil. Having said that, though, one does get the sense he has a sense of honor about him. In the last two rounds of the tournament he faces a young Leonardo DiCaprio, who is rumored, but not confirmed to be his son. The rest of the film he kills on sight, without the slightest bit of hesitation, but with DiCaprio, he does everything he can to keep from killing his possible son. The following round, he faces his former henchman, played by a young Russel Crowe. The previous night, one of Hackman’s cronies does some sort of damage to Crowe’s hand and, sensing that it won’t be a fair fight, he offers to use his other hand to even the odds. It really is quite the twist in a character who seems to be as villainous as they come, but there is a heart in there, somewhere.

What didn’t I like?

Paternity. DiCaprio’s “The Kid” character is similar to many of the character he was playing at this point in his career, brash, cocky, headstrong, etc. It isn’t until he decides to challenge Hackman that we get a sense of humility from him as he tells Stone that he wants to prove himself to his father. All this is well and good, but I didn’t get the emotional weight that I feel it deserved. Had this angle been played up more, perhaps the result of that fight would have been more of a, pardon the term, shot in the gut.

Stone. I give Sharon Stone all the props in the world for being a female lead in gun fighting western. However, I just don’t buy her character. Obviously, the makeup department did all they could to “ugly” up Stone’s beauty, and the wardrobe department kept her looking very unisex, but there is still something too feminine about her. If this were made today, I would cast someone like Michelle Rodriguez or maybe Charlize Theron. Both have proven they don’t take crap from anyone, and also have shown to be able to fit into a man’s world the way this character needs to be able to do. Stone didn’t sell that to me, I’m sorry to say. In the last scene, it was like they gave up trying, put her in tight leather pants, let her hair down, and borderline made her sexy. WTF?!?

Mustache. This is a very small complaint, but Keith David’s character, who was almost non-existent, had the typical old-west moustache, but it looked a bit on the cartoony side of things. I half expected him to start twirling it! It was very distracting, especially for a character that didn’t have much to do. What were they thinking with this, I wonder?

To sum up, The Quick and the Dead is probably one of the more underrated westerns out there. Is it on the level of the great ones from the 60s? No, but it is a decent watch. I say give this one a shot, even if you’re not a fan of the genre. Surely there will be something that you can latch on to. Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Bruce Almighty

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on March 28, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is a television field reporter for Eyewitness News at WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York, but desires to be the news anchorman. He is in a healthy relationship with his girlfriend Grace Connelly (Jennifer Aniston), but also has a mild crush on his co-worker, Susan Ortega (Catherine Bell), who barely seems to notice him. Bruce however continues to suffer unfortunate events and it reaches his breaking point when he is passed over for promotion by his rival, Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), who then steals dialogue from Bruce’s segment in accepting the promotion on-air. Bruce becomes furious and aggressively criticizes the station during his first live report (culminating with calling them “fuckers”), leading to his dismissal from the station. Following a series of other misfortunes, Bruce complains that God (Morgan Freeman) is “the one that should be fired.”

Bruce later receives a message on his pager, directing him to an empty warehouse where he meets God. God offers to give Bruce His powers to prove that He is doing the job correctly. God tells Bruce that he cannot tell others he has God’s powers, nor can he use the powers to alter free will. Bruce ignores God and is initially jubilant with the powers, using them for personal gain, such as training his dog to use the toilet, chasing away thugs by spewing out a swarm of hornets, and sexually impressing Grace. Bruce also finds ways of using the powers to cause miraculous events to occur at otherwise mundane events that he covers, such as discovering Jimmy Hoffa’s body or causing a meteor to harmlessly land near a cook-off, earning him his job back. Bruce then uses his powers to cause Evan to make a fool out of himself on-air, causing Evan to be fired in favor of Bruce as the new anchor.

After taking Grace to a fancy dinner and telling her he made anchor (angering her, as she thought he was going to propose), Bruce begins to hear voices in his head. He re-encounters God, who confronts Bruce on using his powers for personal gain and not helping people. He also explains that the voices are prayers to God that Bruce must deal with. Bruce creates a computerized email-like system to receive the prayers and respond, but finds that the influx is far too great for him to handle—even though God had stated that Bruce is only receiving prayers from the Buffalo area – and sets the program to automatically answer Yes to every prayer.

Bruce attends a party celebrating his promotion. When Grace arrives, she finds Bruce being seduced and kissed by Susan, and quickly leaves. Bruce follows Grace, but she is heartbroken and will not listen to him. He tries to use his powers to convince Grace to stay but cannot influence her free will. As Bruce looks around, he realizes that the city has fallen into chaos due to his actions. Bruce returns to God, who explains that He can’t solve all the problems, and that Bruce must figure out a way to solve it himself. Bruce then begins to solve his problems in life practically, such as helping a man whose car broke down across the street, training his dog normally, and allowing Evan to have his job back. Bruce returns to his computer system and goes about answering prayers as best he can. As he reads through them, he finds a prayer from Grace, wishing for Bruce’s success and well-being. As he reads it, another prayer from Grace arrives, this one wishing not to be in love with Bruce anymore.

Bruce is stunned and walks alone on a highway, asking God to take back His powers and letting his fate be in His hands. Bruce is suddenly struck by a truck, and regains consciousness in a white void. God appears and asks Bruce what he really wants; Bruce admits that he only wants to make sure Grace finds a man that would make her happy. God agrees and Bruce finds himself in the hospital, shortly after being revived—near miraculously—by the doctors. Grace arrives and the two rekindle their relationship, with Bruce and Grace later becoming engaged. After his recovery, Bruce returns to his field reporting but takes more pleasure in the simple stories. Bruce and Grace announce their engagement on live TV. The film ends with the beggar who Bruce had previously ran into on various occasions finally revealing himself to be God.

REVIEW:

Jim Carrey has had quite the career when it comes to film, especially the comedies. One his most memorable, though perhaps not for his performance, is Bruce Almighty. Let’s take a look at this film and see what is so intriguing about it, shall we?

What is this about?

When TV reporter Bruce Nolan angrily ridicules God, the Almighty responds by giving Bruce all His divine powers. But can Bruce improve on perfection?

What did I like?

Phonemonal cosmic power. Let’s think for a moment. If you had the power of God, what would you? My guess is that most of us would test it out a little bit, then do things to make our lives better, which would then be followed by the workload of the Almighty. So, pretty much what Jim Carrey does here is what we all do. Can’t fault him for that, at all, and he does so in true Carrey fashion. Love it!

God. Few people are capable and worthy enough to take on a role as big as God.  Alanis Morrissette did in Dogma, but all she did was skip around and smile. Patrick Stewart and James Earl Jones are usually called on to be the voice of God, but I don’t think they’ve ever portrayed him in person. Morgan Freeman, however, seems have that mixture of commanding screen presence, warmth, and Je ne se quoi that makes him the perfect choice. Even better is the fact that when he was cast, I don’t recall an uproar about his race, which really shows how well respected an actor he is.

Dog. In a small bit of comic relief (is that what you call this…in a comedy?), the dog has a couple of moments where it stands up, lift the toilet seat, and takes a piss. This is followed by another scene where he’s sitting on the toilet reading a newspaper. I thought that was kind of clever, as we all know dogs are horrible when it comes to using the bathroom where they are supposed to. Perhaps this is the director’s way of showing “what if”?

What didn’t I like?

Devil. If Morgan Freeman is God, shouldn’t there be a devil somewhere? I suggest that either the sister-in-law or his big rival, Evan, though the latter would ruin the premise of Evan Almighty, should be getting some kind of unholy help. It just makes sense to have yin and yang. Maybe that’s just me wanting too much balance, though.

Forgiveness. Is it me, or in every movie Jennifer Aniston is in she ends up walking in on a guy at the wrong moment and then spends the rest of the film being all pissy about it? Katherine Heigl is guilty of this, as well. Maybe this is just a female thing, but I know that guys are willing to forgive and forget in the blink of an eye, but women hold on to any and everything they see, regardless of the situation. This situation where Aniston walks in and seen Bruce making out with Catherine Bell’s character (who wouldn’t want to be in a triangle with those two, btw?) was nothing more than a misunderstanding. Had Aniston not been so overemotional and gone in the first place, Bell’s character wouldn’t have had the chance to throw herself at Bruce. Forgiveness is needed all around, methinks.

Blood type. At the end of the film, Bruce is laying in a hospital bed and glances over to see the bag of blood which is being pumped into him. He gives is a confused look and Jennifer Aniston’s character enters and says something that leads us to believe we missed an important scene. Roll credits and we se the outtakes of this scene in which they are sitting in the car discussing blood type and Bruce says the line that Aniston says. It all makes sense, now! Films do this more often than not. They will cut something that has significance to something later on, leaving the audience confused. I don’t know the reason this scene was cut, but since it was related to the hospital scene, some kind of effort should have been made to at least mention the blood type stuff somewhere else.

It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I feel like I should be outside enjoying it, but I need to get some work done. Ever the procrastinator, I decided it was movie time! Bruce Almighty fit the bill perfectly for what I was looking for. Something light, funny, with a beautiful leading lady. I actually have very little negative to say about this, so let’s dispense with the formalities and allow me to tell you this a definite must-see film. I very highly recommend it!

5 out of 5 stars

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