Archive for Bill Paxton

Nightcrawler

Posted in Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , on March 12, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Eager for any work that will make ends meet, Lou Bloom joins the flock of camera crews prowling the nighttime streets of Los Angeles in search of scandal and crime. But before long, Lou finds himself caught in the tabloid limelight.

What people are saying:

“A dark side look at the American dream. There’s always a movie about what it takes, and what is “takes”, to make it big, but writer/director Dan Gilroy implies something a bit different here. That maybe what it takes is to be sociopath, have no principles, moral or empathy and that maybe it rubs off a bit, because it is seductive and it is EVERYTHING and that’s how it spreads. Jake Gyllenhaal likened his character to a coyote and it really shows. Eye sockets dark and retreated, a lanking hunched over posture and an instinct for survival. No matter the cost. Also a great satire of TV news (spot-on, obvious, perfect). A character study, modern reflection, satire; single-minded and balanced.” 5 stars

“I suppose this movie is supposed to be a portrait of a disturbed person, as the Gyllenhaal character clearly is. I suppose this movie is supposed to be a comment on the sleaziness of TV news and the sleaziness of the American public that wants, nay, pretty much demands, to see the stuff the Gyllenhaal character shoots. Without any regard for how such footage is obtained or who might get hurt in the process. Personally, I find the Rene Russo character to be just as sick as Gyllenhaal’s. If these were indeed the purposes of the film, I think it succeeds brillliantly. There is probably just enough gore to keep the gore folks happy and for action fans the car-chase sequence will brighten up their day or night. So, on its own level, this movie is top-notch, I reckon. Personally though, I found watching this movie to be a very distasteful experience. Especially as the Gyllenhaal and Russo characters suffer no repercussions from their clearly illegal and immoral actions. And, in fact, are rewarded. Once again, I suppose though, their profiting by their repugnant actions is one point of the movie. One can only hope, watching a movie such as this, that one is maybe moved to try to be a little better than the society the movie is criticizing for watching this stuff. But I think of traffic jams caused, not by an accident, but on the lanes going the other way, as people have to slow down and gawk. Looking to see what, exactly, do you suppose?” 2 stars

“Nightcrawler made my skin crawl- in the best possible way. Jake Gyllenhaal lost like 50 lbs for this role. he said in an interview that he wanted to look “more coyote-like” and boy, does he! He has the bulging eyes, the scavenger tendencies, he lurks around the shadows or in the dead of night, he seems uncomfortable around other humans… I really liked Jake’s portrayal of Lou, he did a very convincing job playing a sociopath! and it was very uncomfortable to watch someone with such an inert, apathetic, and almost robotic person in motion… but man, did he play that well.” 4 stars

“Terrible movie, terrible ending and robotic acting. once you realize that jake gyllenhaal is playing a sociopath, you start to connect the dots real quick, spoiling the movie. Overall, i though this movie was extremely boring–it even made me angry at times. I’m very accepting when it comes to indie films, but this movie plot was just terrible, fantastic cinematographic execution, but just a plain boring plot.” 1 star

“Nightcrawler made my skin crawl- in the best possible way. Jake Gyllenhaal lost like 50 lbs for this role. he said in an interview that he wanted to look “more coyote-like” and boy, does he! He has the bulging eyes, the scavenger tendencies, he lurks around the shadows or in the dead of night, he seems uncomfortable around other humans… I really liked Jake’s portrayal of Lou, he did a very convincing job playing a sociopath! and it was very uncomfortable to watch someone with such an inert, apathetic, and almost robotic person in motion… but man, did he play that well.” 4 stars

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Edge of Tomorrow

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A race of aliens called Mimics has taken over continental Europe. General Brigham, head of humanity’s United Defense Force, orders Major William Cage, a public affairs officer and former advertising executive, to cover combat on the beaches of France during the next day’s assault on the Mimics. Cage objects to the dangerous assignment and threatens to use his public relations skills to turn the public against Brigham when the casualties start increasing from the invasion. General Brigham has Cage arrested; Cage is knocked out during an ensuing escape attempt. He wakes in handcuffs at a forward operating base at Heathrow Airport and discovers he has been labeled a deserter and put on combat duty for the invasion under the command of Master Sergeant Farell.

The invasion is a disaster for the humans. Cage manages to kill a large Mimic but dies as he is sprayed with its acid-like blood. He then wakes up at Heathrow the previous morning. No one believes his story that he knows the invasion will fail. He repeats the loop of dying on the beach and waking at Heathrow until he encounters Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). She recognizes his ability to anticipate events and tells him to locate her the next time he “wakes up”.

Together, Cage and Vrataski meet up with Dr. Carter, a former government scientist and expert in Mimic biology. Cage learns that the kind of Mimic he killed in his first loop, an “Alpha”, resets time when it is killed to give the Mimics an advantage in battle. Cage inherited this ability when he was doused in the Alpha’s blood as they both died. Vrataski had gained this ability in a recent battle but lost it after receiving a blood transfusion. She tells Cage that they must hunt the Mimics’ hive mind, the Omega.

Over innumerable successive time loops, Vrataski molds Cage into a far more effective soldier. Frustrated by his continued failures, though, he retreats to a London pub, only to discover the Mimics will overrun the city after their invasion on the beach. He and Vrataski then spend several loops learning how to survive the battle on the beach and get inland based on his vision of the Omega hiding within a Bavarian Alps dam. After numerous loops end in Vrataski’s death, Cage decides to hunt the Omega alone, abandoning her and the rest of the invasion to doom on the beach. When he arrives at the dam, he discovers that the Omega is not there. He manages to kill himself before an Alpha can steal his blood and prevent him from resetting the day. Back at Heathrow, he tells Vrataski and Carter that his vision was a trick.

Cage and Vrataski adopt a new approach: they infiltrate the Ministry of Defence in search of a prototype built by Carter that will allow Cage to discover the Omega’s true location. After several failed loops they obtain the device, which reveals that the Omega is located under the Louvre Pyramid in Paris. They are injured as they flee; Cage is saved by a blood transfusion, but it removes his ability to reset the day.

Vrataski frees Cage and they return to Heathrow, where they convince his squad to help destroy the Omega. The other squad members sacrifice themselves to get Cage and Vrataski beneath the Louvre. Vrataski distracts a waiting Alpha while Cage advances on the Omega. The Alpha kills Vrataski and mortally wounds Cage, but not before Cage primes and drops a grenade belt into the Omega’s core, destroying it, which neutralizes all other Mimics.

Cage’s dying body floats down into a rising cloud of the Omega’s blood. Regaining the power to reset himself, Cage wakes up en route to his meeting with Brigham the day before. Brigham announces that Mimic activity has ceased following a power surge in Paris. With the events leading to his arrest never happening, Cage travels to Heathrow on his own, retaining his original officer rank. None of his former squad mates recognize him. He finds Vrataski, who greets him with the same initial rudeness as previous loops, causing Cage to smile.

REVIEW:

Tom Cruise is back and this time he has a mech suit! That’s right, people, the insane scientologist dares to make use believe he is still a bona fide action star. Following his string of successful action flick, this is a perfect choice, right? Well, let’s see.

What is this about?

As Earth fights an alien invasion, Lt. Col. Bill Cage is killed in action, and a time loop forces him to continually relive his last day. With each iteration, Cage’s skill grows, as does his understanding of the enemy and how it operates.

What did I like?

Pacing. In most pictures like this, we get an action scene early on, then it is just uninteresting subplot, exposition, and forced love story to pad out the running time until the climactic 2nd action scene, which is shortly followed by the end credits. This director obviously took notes on that formula, because the pacing in this film is very fast paced. Just as it starts to slow down… *BAM!* We are back in the thick of things. For someone who has to be in the mood for slow paced films, this has to be a plus!

Blunt object. Emily Blunt gives me strange feelings. That sounded weird, I better explain. No doubt she’s a great actress and, while not bad looking (looks like she got ripped for this role), there is something about that vacant stare of hers that puts me off. That being said, she kicks ass in this film, and she’s not even in the film that much!

Groundhog. Everyone has seen, or at least knows about the movie Groundhog Day. In some respects, this film is very similar in that the main character keeps repeating the same day over and over again, just under different circumstances. It is nice to see a new spin on this tired cliché, I must say.

What didn’t I like?

Creatures. Normally, I’m all for seeing creatures in sci-fi films. It fascinates me to see the magic and madness that can come from someone’s mind. With that said, I don’t see the originality. The “Mimics” as they are called are very similar to the creatures in The Matrix: Revolutions. Of all the films to rip off from, why that one?!? Surely, there had to be something better that could be used as an evil creature in this film, right?

Mech. I have never really been a fan of mech suits. In concept and animation they work just fine, but when it comes to execution, the things are just slow and clunky. Basically, you’re sacrificing speed and agility for firepower. Is it worth it? Only for some, but does you entire fighting force need them? No!

Training Day. I’m not sure how many times we were going to have see Tom Cruise go through that training montage. Wasn’t once or twice enough? I just didn’t get the need to keep showing the same thing over and over again. The whole point of him going back was to learn and change things the next time. It was just frustrating that they went the lazy route of cut and paste, I suppose.

Final verdict on Edge of Tomorrow? It’s a big budget, sci-fi action flick that plays it safe. It doesn’t try to give the audience too many subplots, nor does it insult our intelligence. The creatures, which are obviously CG, have an almost practical effect to them. No love story is forced down our throats. As a matter of fact, it is barely hinted, save for a couple of places. So, do I recommend this flick? Eh, it isn’t great, but you could do a whole lot worse. Give it a go, I suppose!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Mighty Joe Young

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jill Young is seen as a child at the beginning of the film when she witnesses the death of her mother, Ruth Young (Linda Purl) and the mother of Joe, an infant mountain gorilla, at the hands of poachers led by Andrei Strasser (Rade Šerbedžija). Strasser loses his right thumb and trigger finger to Joe, and swears revenge on the gorilla for the damage. Before she dies, Ruth tells Jill to take care of Joe, to which Jill agrees. 12 years later, Jill has raised Joe (who, because of a rare genetic anomaly, has now grown to the size of 16 1/2-feet (5 meters) and weighs 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms); as a result, the other gorillas won’t accept him and both are now living in relative peace until a wildlife refuge director, Gregg O’Hara (Bill Paxton), convinces Jill that they would be safer from poachers if they relocate to the United States.

The trio goes to Hollywood, Los Angeles, California and win the hearts of the refuge staff. There, Jill is approached by Strasser, who is now running a fake animal preserve while really selling animal organs off on the black market – who has seen a news report about Joe and is now eager for revenge. At first Jill fails to recognize Strasser as the poacher who killed both her mother and Joe’s, since Strasser hides his right hand in his coat pocket. Strasser tries to persuade Jill that Joe would be better off in his wildlife refuge back in Africa. Later, during a gala, Strasser’s henchman, Garth (Peter Firth), uses a poacher’s noisemaker to scare Joe into a frenzy. Joe trashes the gala, recognizes Strasser and tries to attack him. Joe is then captured and placed in a concrete bunker. Before their departure, Gregg has fallen in love with Jill and he kisses her goodbye.

When Jill learns that Joe may be euthanized, she decides to take Strasser’s offer. She and the refuge staff smuggle Joe out in a truck. On the way to the airport, Jill notices the half-glove covering Strasser’s missing fingers, and realizes who he really is. She briefly fights with Garth and Strasser, then jumps from the truck and onto Hollywood Boulevard, leading to the first of several automobile accidents. Joe sees her and rocks the truck over onto its side and escapes. Meanwhile, Gregg has realized that Strasser is a poacher and goes after both Jill and Joe. He finds Jill, who reveals to Gregg that Strasser killed her mother and plans to kill Joe. They locate Joe at a carnival where he is playfully wreaking havoc. Strasser arrives and attempts to shoot Jill. But Garth pushes Strasser’s gun away from Jill, causing him to fire at a spotlight, which subsequently starts a fire and causes the Ferris wheel to break down. Realizing how ruthless Strasser truly is, Garth says that he quits, but Strasser knocks Garth unconscious with his gun. Strasser eventually confronts Jill and attempts to kill her, but Joe sneaks up behind them and tosses Strasser into the air, where he grips onto electrical wires over a transformer. Short two fingers on the hand holding the wire as he lost his thumb and trigger finger, as previously mentioned, Strasser is electrocuted to death when his grip fails and he falls into the transformer, leaving only the half-glove hanging from the wiring. Later, at the Santa Monica Pier, Joe tries to save a child from atop the burning wheel but the fire burns it down and Joe and the child fall to earth where Joe is crushed beneath the wheel but the child is unharmed. Joe apparently dies from his wounds, but is later shown to have survived. The young boy Joe saved donates money to Jill after hearing her say how they’d need money to buy a new home for Joe and the people who witnessed the whole accident follow suit.

Joe is returned to Africa where Jill opens the “Joe Young Preserve.” In the final scene Joe runs off into the distance, seemingly enjoying his new found freedom

REVIEW:

Sakes alive, this has been a week that makes you wonder what is wrong with people in the world, right? First we have a young man get shot by a police officer which, based on the different races, has exploded into protests. I turn on the television and I swear I’m looking at some historical show about what went on in the 60s. Also, there was a beheading of a journalist, by some radical extremists. Geez, man, can it get any worse than this? I really do wonder. So, how about we go with something extremely light tonight, Mighty Joe Young.

What is this about?

In a remake of the 1949 classic, director Ron Underwood’s Oscar-nominated adventure follows Gregg O’Hara’s quest to capture a two-ton African gorilla and transport him to a California reserve far from poachers.

What did I like?

Give good face. Primates are known to have very human-like facial expressions at times. Joe takes that to a whole new level, as his expressions are actually more expressive than some of the humans. Not only that, these looks come at just the right time as to convey just the right emotion at the time. Whether Joe is CG, animatronic, or a mixture of both, these emotions are perhaps the best thing about him.

Not the bad guy. Bill Paxton has made a career out of being a character actor who has a resume filled with playing the villain. Most recently, he was seen on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the head of the Hydra infiltration, otherwise known as the Clairvoyant. What a change it is to see him in this role, where he is not that bad guy, but actually is the hero who gets the girl in the end. As good as he is at being the bad guy, had he taken more roles like this, perhaps he could be a leading man today. I’m just sayin’!

King Kong ain’t got… Although this is a remake of a film of the same name from the 30s or 40s, I can’t help but believe it exists only as a watered down, family version of King Kong. All the elements are there, giant ape, wildlife preserve, poachers, climbing tall building in the city, etc. However, the difference is in Joe’s personality, which is very playful, something that I don’t believe we ever saw from King Kong. That slight change makes a huge difference, believe it or not.

What didn’t I like?

Twirl the moustache. Often, I will hear critics refer to villains as “cartoony” or the “twirl the moustache” kind. Well, the villain here is one that I feel belongs in that category. He has everything that you ask for in a cartoon villain. Mysterious European accent, quest for revenge because of something that happened in his younger days, intriguing facial hair…all check. The only thing missing was the black cape and top hat!

We should care, because? As expressive as Joe’s facial expressions were, I had a hard time finding a reason that we as an audience should care whether he lives or dies. There was no connection between him and us, so by the time the ferris wheel scene comes and Joe falls off, it is hard to feel anything for him. Same goes for when he goes on his rampages. Granted, this may just be me and my black hole for a heart, but I felt nothing. He was just a big ape, honestly.

Editing. I have an issue with the herky jerking editing that was done in this film. In one scene, everyone is in Africa, the next they’re on the road to Hollywood. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it almost felt like one of those Family Guy cutaways, where something happens and then the next scene is totally different setting. It seems that Disney was going more for the serious filmmaking side of things with this film, as opposed to something like George of the Jungle, which was a live action cartoon. Better editing would have helped that situation.

Apparently, the little woman loved Mighty Joe Young when it came out, so I have a feeling this will not be the last time I see it, and that’s okay. Truth be told, I didn’t find this to be a horrible film. Some scenes are quite emotional, there’s some action, romance, comedy, and a villainous poaching plot. By all means this should be a great film, but something is hindering it from making that step. I cannot put my finger on it, but I think it might be related to the original, which I will eventually get around to watching. So, do I recommend this? Yes, it is a quality family film that can be enjoyed by all without worries of language, sexual situations, or violence. Enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Weird Science

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film takes place in the fictitious Chicago suburb of Shermer, Illinois. Two high school nerds, Gary Wallace (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt Donnelly (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), are pantsed by school bullies Ian (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Max (Robert Rusler).

Later on, at Wyatt’s house, the boys have the house to themselves for the weekend. Inspired by the 1931 version of Frankenstein, which the boys watch on TV, they decide to create a “perfect” woman on their home computer (a Memotech MTX512). When their computer reaches its computing capacity, the boys decide to hack into a government mainframe for more processing power and data storage capacity. As a finishing touch they connect a Barbie doll to Wyatt’s computer through a series of wires and electrodes. At the exact moment they hit “enter” to execute the computer program, a lightning bolt strikes the house leading to a series of supernatural occurrences. When the smoke clears a beautiful woman (Kelly LeBrock) emerges from Wyatt’s bathroom. Her first words are “So, what would you little maniacs like to do first?”

In addition to being totally devoted to them, the woman has superhuman abilities, such as memory manipulation, molecular manipulation, and reality warping. The boys are too intimidated to take advantage of the obvious opportunities presented, as is shown when they keep their jeans on while showering with her. Realizing the boys need to lower their inhibitions, she transforms their outfits and then takes them out in a pink 1959 Cadillac convertible that she conjured up. The boys name her Lisa. Lisa takes them to a blues club. The trio end up ingratiating themselves to the staff and some of the regulars, in part with the help of alcohol.

As they head home, Lisa asks Wyatt about his older brother, Chet (Bill Paxton), who extorts blackmail money from him in exchange for withholding information from their parents, as shown when he brings a drunk Gary home past Wyatt’s curfew. After putting Gary to bed, Wyatt shares a series of increasingly passionate kisses with Lisa. At a shopping mall, Gary and Wyatt, finally feeling secure after their time with Lisa, are humiliated once again by Ian and Max, who dump an Icee onto them in front of the whole mall, upsetting their own girlfriends, Deb (Suzanne Snyder) and Hilly (Judie Aronson). Ian and Max then spot Lisa on the escalator and abandon the girls to run after her. When they catch up with her, she invites them to a party at Wyatt’s. Gary then pulls up in a black Porsche 928 and he, Wyatt, and Lisa leave together, to Ian and Max’s chagrin.

The milquetoast Wyatt begs Lisa to cancel a planned party, but she refuses, pointing out that it will lead to the popularity that he and Gary want. She then picks up Gary at his house, but when Gary’s parents, Al (Britt Leach) and Lucy (Barbara Lang), object to Gary going out with a woman Lisa’s age, Lisa manipulates their memories so that Lucy forgets the incident and Al forgets he has a son. Back at the house the party begins. Gary and Wyatt, too intimidated to socialize at first, lock themselves in the bathroom. Deb and Hilly meet Gary and Wyatt in the bathroom and are surprised to discover that they, not Lisa, are the party hosts. Max and Ian encounter Lisa and make a pass at her. She refuses, explaining that she “belongs” to Gary and Wyatt.

Ian and Max then scheme to offer Gary and Wyatt permission to date their own girlfriends in exchange for dating Lisa, leading Gary and Wyatt to explain how they created her and an attempt to recreate the process in Wyatt’s bedroom with the computer follows. They forget, however, to connect the computer to the Barbie doll, instead leaving it clamped to a Time magazine on whose cover is a Pershing medium-range ballistic missile. As soon as the machine starts up, the kitchen turns blue, a picture of Wyatt’s parents starts dancing, the chimney proceeds to suck up all the furniture in the living room and launch it into a lake out back, and the “Weird Science” song starts playing. The missile, like Lisa, becomes real and ends up emerging in the middle of Wyatt’s bedroom from underground. When Gary and Wyatt are dejected by this, Lisa decides to provoke a confrontation in order to spur them to stand up for themselves. She conjures a group of mutant bikers to disrupt the party. At first the bikers intimidate and humiliate Gary and Wyatt, but after they accost Deb and Hilly, Gary and Wyatt stand up to the mutants, mainly because they realize they are Lisa’s creation. Everyone present, including Deb and Hilly, are impressed by the boys. After the mutant bikers apologize and leave the house, the boys and girls end up pairing off, Gary with Deb and Wyatt with Hilly.

Early the next morning, Chet returns from spending the night out and is angry at the state of the house. Lisa tells Gary and Wyatt to take Deb and Hilly home. Gary and Wyatt take the girls home, each guy sharing a kiss with his new girlfriend. Lisa confronts Chet, telling him that he will no longer threaten or extort money from Wyatt. Lisa then transforms Chet into a squat, grotesque creature, humbling him enough to apologize to Wyatt. Gary and Wyatt talk to Lisa, who understands that the boys now have girlfriends, which is all what she wanted for them. After saying goodbye, Lisa disappears in a puff of smoke and the damage to the house and Chet’s transformation is reversed just in time for the return of Wyatt’s parents from Cincinnati, Ohio.

In the epilogue, a group of high school students hear their new gym teacher’s whistle. When their teacher turns out to be Lisa, the entire class of boys faint and Lisa winks to the viewer.

REVIEW:

Arguably one of the most popular films on the 80s, Weird Science ranks up there with the likes of Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont Highand others that immediately come to mind when you think of this period of time. The question everyone asks is what was so weird about the science? Was it too much for the 80s? What about today? Well, you just have to watch if you want to know the answer to those questions. In the meantime, I hope I can give you a little insight into this light comedy from the late, great John Hughes.

What is this about?

When teen geeks Gary and Wyatt use a computer to create Lisa, a gorgeous woman with a genius IQ, they enlist her help to boost their seemingly pathetic social status. But she thinks the boys just need a lesson in courage.

What did I like?

Bullies never prosper. It may seem like a distant memory, but there was a time when us nerds, geeks, and dweebs were nothing but the object of ridicule by bullies. In the case of this film, those bullies do everything they can to make life a living hell for our stars, and it seems like they aren’t going to get any repercussions from this, but their girls nearly leave them and, by film’s end, they have dumped the girls for a shot with Lisa, the perfect girl, or an attempt to create their own piece of perfection, which ends up backfiring and becoming a missile.

Lisa, Lisa. After being created from so hacked military software and a Barbie doll, which Kelly LeBrock sure fit the waist definitions, at least, it seemed that once we got past her wanting to party and have sex, she became, well a character very similar to Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled. Thing is, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as her intentions are to be a hot chick that opens the doorway for them to become happy, which does happen, so mission accomplished.

Dated. This film was released in 1985, so in 2014, of course the technology and effects are going to look a little dated. That is part of the charm of the picture, though. This happens to be one of those films that hasn’t aged well, thanks to advances in technology, but is still worth watching in spite of that because it gives off that nostalgic vibe that takes us all back.

What didn’t I like?

Practically perfect. I won’t deny that Kelly LeBrock is a looker. She has a rocking body, and as I mentioned earlier, could quite possible pass for a living Barbie doll. That being said, is that the “perfect” woman? For me, I have to say no. I prefer some mean on my women and more curves. The next guy may prefer the opposite. Another guy may prefer that masculine body builder type. As a wise man once said, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. I guess the beholder is the casting director. Again, nothing against Kelly LeBrock, she’s just not my ideal woman.

Creature feature. In the last scenes of the film, the big brother character, played by Bill Paxton, is turned into this weird poop like creature. There is a level of supposed realism that is going on in this film (and I use that term lightly), but this sudden creature that he was turned into, especially this late in the film, didn’t quite fit with everything else in the film. It was just…odd.

Girls. Through the work of their creation, our boys finally get girlfriends, but I have to wonder why it is that these girls were chosen. Sure, they are cuties, but seems to me a couple of girls that were more along the nerdy plane of existence, if you will, would have worked better. No, I’m not talking about the kind that would have thick coke bottle glasses, braces, headgear, and a bad case of acne, just the kind that are wallflowers, but you can still tell they are a bit of a looker.

All in all, I had a good time with Weird Science. This is a film that you can have issues with, and there are plenty of things to take issue with, but it is still fun to kick back and enjoy. Do I recommend this film? Why yes I do. There is no reason to not watch this sci-fi comedy from 80s legend John Hughes, even if it isn’t his strongest work. Give it a shot sometime!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara), a former agent of the OSS, now works as a private detective but gets little profit for his work: four dollars and ninety-nine cents. He is contacted by the OSS and informed that his sister, Carmen Cortez (Alexa Vega), is missing. He is reunited with Donnagon Giggles and his wife Francesca, who explain that Carmen was captured by the Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone), a villain. The Toymaker was imprisoned in cyberspace by the OSS, but he has since created “Game Over”, a virtual reality-based video game which he intends on using to escape cyberspace via players that reach Level 5, which is literally unwinnable. Juni agrees to venture into the game, save Carmen, and shut down the game.

In the game, which takes place in a full 3D environment, Juni finds the challenges difficult. He finds three beta-testers, Francis (Bobby Edner), Arnold (Ryan Pinkston) and Rez (Robert Vito), who launch him to the moon so that they’ll have less competition on the way to Level 5. On the moon, Juni receives an opportunity to bring in a fellow ally to assist him, selecting his wheelchair-bound grandfather Valentin (Ricardo Montalban), who has been looking for the Toymaker for thirty years. He receives a power-up which gives him a robotic bodysuit, allowing him to walk and possess superhuman strength and durability. Juni ventures into a robot battle arena where he fights a girl named Demetra (Courtney Jines) in order to return to Earth and Level 2. He meets the beta-testers again who believe he is a player named “The Guy”, who can supposedly beat Level 5. Rez is unconvinced and challenges Juni to a “Mega-race” involving a multitude of different vehicles. The only apparent rule of this game is “Win, at all costs.” Juni wins the race with help from Valentin, and Demetra joins the group, she and Juni display romantic feelings for each other. Upon entering level 3, Arnold and Juni are forced to battle each other, the loser getting an immediate game over. Demetra swaps places with Juni and is defeated, seemingly getting a game over, much to Juni’s sadness as he seems to have romantic feelings for her.

The group get to Level 4 where Juni finds Carmen, released by the Toymaker, who leads the group on. Juni follows a map given to him by Demetra to a lava-filled gorge. The group surf their way through the lava but Donnagon attempts to prevent them from reaching Level 5 to save them, but this fails. Outside the door to Level 5, after the other gamers start to think that Carmen and Juni are deceivers and Rez threatens to give Juni a game over, the real “Guy” (Elijah Wood) appears and opens the door only to get a game over by an electrical shock (losing all of his apparent 100 lives). Demetra then appears, claiming to have gotten back into the game via a glitch but Carmen identifies her as “The Deceiver”, a program used to fool players. Demetra confirms this and apologizes to Juni. The Toymaker attacks the group with giant robot, Demetra shedding a tear and shutting the game down so Juni and the others can return to reality. However, it is revealed that Valentin released the Toymaker, the villain’s army of robots attacking a nearby city.

Juni and Carmen summon their family members: Parents Gregorio and Ingrid, Gregorio’s brother Machete, their Grandma, and Uncle Felix. With too many robots to handle, Juni calls out to their “extended” family (or “everyone”, as Juni puts it), summoning characters from the first two films (including Fegan Floop and Alexander Minion, Dinky Winks and his son, scientist Romero (plus a Spork), and Gary and Gerti Giggles). All the robots are destroyed except for the Toymaker’s. Valentin confronts Sebastian the Toymaker and forgives him for putting him in his wheelchair, which he had been trying to find him to do all those years. The Toymaker shuts down his robot and joins the rest of the Cortez family and their friends in celebrating their family.

REVIEW:

The third entry in the Spy Kids franchise, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over was actually ahead of its time, as 3-D didn’t return to prominence (as it was in the 50s) for another 4 or 5 years after this film’s release. Three films in, one has to wonder with the kids getting older, can the fun and fantasy be kept up, or will the start to take a darker tone? Also, will the films still be worth watching?

What is this about?

In the continuing adventures of the two spy siblings, Carmen gets caught in a virtual reality game designed by the kids’ new nemesis, the Toymaker, and it’s up to Juni to save her by battling through the game’s levels.

What did I like?

Games. This film was released in 2003, about the time that the PS2 was coming into prominence and the PS3 (along with that other system people use) went into production. Because of this, gaming was becoming more and more popular, so a film that put the kids into the game was just what audiences could use. I wonder why it is that no one has really thought to make more movies (recently) that put the stars in a game. It should also be noted that the film spoofs a stereotype of people who hide behind an avatar that is the opposite of what they are in real life. I won’t spoil it, but upon the escape from the game, you’ll see, and chuckle, about what I’m talking about.

Bright and colorful. It  would appear that a surefire way to attract kids to a film is to just big, bright, and colorful things. I don’t think I need to tell you that this film follows that formula. The game world is full of brightly colored CG creations that fit right in with the tone of the film, even though it seems as if the game, at least to me, has a darker tone.

Familia. A recurring theme in these films is family, although this one seems to have less of an emphasis on that since most of the family doesn’t appear until the climactic battle, leaving most of the film to Juni (Daryl Sabara) and his grandfather (Ricardo Montalban). I was really digging how they brought back many of the characters from the previous films to help out. As this was meant to be the final film in the franchise, it made sense and put a nice ending on things and reminded us of how far the kids have come (as if the audition tapes following the credits don’t do that HA!).

What didn’t I like?

Juni. For some reason, Robert Rodriguez seems hell bent on making Daryl Sabara the star of the film, when it is actually Alexa Vega that has more of a screen presence, despite her poor showing in this flick. Sabara is trying, he really is, but it is to no avail. The guy can’t carry the film on his own. Whether it is the script or his actual talent, he just can’t do it, which is more than likely the reason they brought in the gamer boys who were in the game.

Toymaker. I was actually impressed with Sylvester Stallone’s comedic chops as the Toymaker (and his clones).  My problem with him, though, was that this is a guy that created an entire game world and still managed to get it sold on the outside world, yet he was unable to escape. How is this possible? Also, what would have been so bad about him getting out? The OSS made it seem as if Armageddon were going to happen if he were to get out.

3D & CG. I am no fan of CG, as we all know. Stop-motion is my cup of tea. Watching the awful and dated computer imagery of this film is almost painful. Not because they are dated, but because it seems as if they were used just because they could be, and not to further the story along. The same could be said of the 3D. It was obvious that was used for the sole purpose of saying “Look, its 3D!”

Takeaway. So, Netflix, finally decides to put this on streaming about a month ago, and this time next week, it will be gone. Yeah, yeah, yeah, this isn’t an issue with the film, so much as it is an issue with Netflix, but still after all this time of waiting to get this flick, they finally put it up and then yank it away  so swiftly. No real reason for this, especially since Spy Kids 4 has been up there since its release!

Remember that old Frosted Shredded Wheat commercial? The one where the person eating the cereal would say the kid in them likes the frosting and the adult likes the fiber? Well, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over is like that for me. The bright colors and big toys appealed to the kid in me, but the adult in me was telling me that this is stupid and cheesy. In the end, though, this is decent enough, but felt either unnecessary or rushed through production, leaving audiences dissatisfied. Do I recommend it? Yes, but with caution. For me, my OCD won’t let me leave a franchise unfinished. If you’re like me, then that would be a reason to check it out, otherwise, this is one of those flicks that you may or may not like, depending on your tastes.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

2 Guns

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Criminals Robert Trench (Denzel Washington) and Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) are questioned by U.S. Customs after a meeting with drug lord Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) in Mexico. Unknown to Stigman, Trench is an undercover DEA agent and reports to his superior, Jessup (Robert John Burke), that he failed to acquire cocaine from Greco that they could use as evidence to convict him. Against Jessup’s orders, Trench decides to remain undercover and assist Stigman in robbing $3 million from Greco, so they can prosecute Greco for money laundering. Trench later meets with his lover, Deb Rees (Paula Patton), who is involved with another man as well, while Stigman, an undercover Naval Intelligence Officer, meets with his commanding officer, Harold Quince (James Marsden), who instructs Stigman to kill Trench so the Navy can use the stolen money to fund covert operations.

Trench and Stigman are surprised to find $43 million (rather than $3 million) in the vault. After the heist, Stigman follows orders to betray Trench and escape with the money. He suspects Trench is a cop and shoots to wound instead of to kill. Learning of this, Quince attempts to have Stigman killed. Stigman escapes after learning the money will be transferred to a Navy base in Corpus Christi. Meanwhile, a man named Earl (Bill Paxton) aggressively interrogates the bank manager about the money Trench and Stigman stole from him.

Trench visits Jessup to tell him what happened, but Earl and his men are there waiting for him. Earl kills Jessup, frames Trench for the murder and lets him go, making a deal that if Trench returns the $43 million he will be cleared. Trench goes to Stigman’s apartment to find out where he took the money, only to have Stigman contact him from a sniper’s post across the street. After escaping a hit squad sent by Quince, Trench and Stigman kidnap Greco and interrogate him in the garage at Deb’s house, where they find out Earl, Greco’s associate, is a black ops operative, and they have stolen money from the CIA.

The garage is attacked by another hit squad, led by Quince, and the trio ends up being captured by Greco and taken to his farm in Mexico. After torturing them and receiving a visit from Earl, Greco gives the pair 24 hours to steal the money from the Navy and return it to him, or Deb will die.

At the base, Trench infiltrates Quince’s office, only to discover Quince is Deb’s boyfriend, and they had planned to steal the money for themselves. Meanwhile, Stigman asks Admiral Tuway (Fred Ward) for help. Tuway orders Quince’s arrest, but disavows Stigman to prevent the scandal from tarnishing the Navy’s reputation. Quince evades arrest, as does Stigman. Unable to find the money, Trench is too late to prevent Greco from killing Deb. He later realizes that the money is in a motel room that he and Deb frequented and goes to help Stigman, who had returned to Greco’s farm alone.

There, Stigman is surrounded by Greco’s men until both Quince and Earl intervene. Trench arrives in a car filled with money, and then blows up the car, scattering the money everywhere, which leads to a massive shootout. During a standoff among Quince, Earl, Trench, and Stigman, Earl reveals that the CIA has 20 other secret banks, and the loss of the $43 million is only a minor setback. Signaling Stigman with a phrase from an earlier conversation, Stigman shoots Earl, and Trench shoots Quince. Trench and Stigman kill Greco and the duo escapes, but not before Trench shoots Stigman in the leg as payback for shooting him in the desert. While planning to continue to take down the CIA’s secret banks and sabotage their black ops operations, Trench reveals to Stigman that he did not blow up all the money and had some stashed away.

REVIEW:

Opposites do attract, it seems. At least when it comes to partners in law enforcement, as we see in 2 Guns. Based on a lesser known graphic novel, was this film worth the time and effort it took to bring it to the big screen, or should it have stayed in the “funnybook pages”?

What is this about?

Two special agents — one Naval intelligence, one DEA — partner for an undercover sting against a drug cartel that takes a serious wrong turn. Disavowed by their agencies, the pair goes on the run while trying to find out who set them up.

What did I like?

Wisecracker. Mark Wahlberg spends the whole film playing a wise cracking character that feels like was written for Ryan Reynolds. He pulls it off and owns the role, though. Wahlberg doesn’t have the comedic talents of Reynolds, but he does have some comic chops. Remember Ted? This film needed some comic relief in there, and Wahlberg delivered in both the comedic and action parts od his character.

Pax. Turning in a performance that I would have never guessed would come from him is Bill Paxton. As a sadistic, power-hungry CIA agent, who is slightly unhinged, he leaves quite the impression. Aside from his insanity, he manages to keep a calm hand when playing Russian roulette a couple of time in his early scenes.

Shootout. This film comes to a climax with a Mexican standoff between the antagonists and Mark Wahlberg. Suddenly, Denzel Washington drives up and given them the money that they have been asking for the whole film. As he and Wahlberg are walking away, he blows the car up, complete with slow motion walk, and we get a shootout that starts with the two of them back to back. All I can say is wow! That was some beautiful camera work to get that shot, which has gone on to become the signature scene.

What didn’t I like?

The others. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are the stars of this film. Of that, there is no question. However, there are other members of the cast that aren’t really utilized as well as they could have been. Fred Ward, James Marsden, and especially Edward James Olmos all have too much talent to be what can basically be called glorified cameos. Why did this filmmaker not use this talent more? No offense to Bill Paxton, but they would have helped fill out the antagonist roles, if you ask me.

Paula. I didn’t really get the purpose of Paula Patton’s character. Her character is just a generic contact for Denzel Washington’s character. Her acting is ok, but nowhere near as impressive as I was hearing everyone say. I guess they were more impressed with her topless scene.

Story. I hate to say this, but I didn’t really follow the story. It was hard, dare I say impossible, to do. Once the premise is set up, the film resorts to just random occurrences and a bunch of subplots that don’t really get resolved to fill out the film until it manages to get back on track. For a film that seems to be a bit more on the serious, and I use that term lightly, side of the spectrum, this way of filmmaking just seemed to be odd. Perhaps someone should have gone back and tightened up the script, or maybe the parts that tie everything together hit the cutting room floor. Whatever the case, it hurt the film tremendously.

Final verdict on 2 Guns? Well, this is a film that delivers on what you saw in the trailers, comedy and action. However, when it comes to the actual story and such, the film falls flat and gets up just in time to recover the audience it was losing. For me, this was an enjoyable film. I can get past the story issues, but only because I like mindless action flicks. If you’re not that type, then this may not be the film for you. Still, I give this a pretty high recommendation. Give it a shot, why don’t you?

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Tombstone

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), a retired peace officer with a notable reputation, reunites with his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) in Tucson, Arizona, where they venture on towards Tombstone, a small mining town, to settle down. There they encounter Wyatt’s long-time friend Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer), a Southern gambler and expert gunslinger, who seeks relief from his worsening tuberculosis. Also newly arrived in Tombstone with a traveling theater troupe are Josephine Marcus (Dana Delany) and Mr. Fabian (Billy Zane). Meanwhile, Wyatt’s wife, Mattie Blaylock (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), is becoming dependent on a potent narcotic. Just as Wyatt and his brothers begin to profit from a stake in a gambling emporium and saloon, they have their first encounter with a band of outlaws called the Cowboys. Led by “Curly Bill” Brocious (Powers Boothe), the Cowboys are identifiable by the red sashes worn around their waists.

Wyatt, though no longer a lawman, is pressured to help rid the town of the Cowboys as tensions rise. Shooting aimlessly after a visit to an opium house, Curly Bill is approached by Marshal Fred White (Harry Carey, Jr.) to relinquish his firearms. Curly Bill instead shoots the marshal dead and is forcibly taken into custody by Wyatt. The arrest infuriates Ike Clanton (Stephen Lang) and the other Cowboys. Curly Bill stands trial, but is found not guilty due to a lack of witnesses. Virgil, unable to tolerate lawlessness, becomes the new marshal and imposes a weapons ban within the city limits. This leads to the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, in which Billy Clanton (Thomas Haden Church) and other Cowboys are killed. Virgil and Morgan are wounded, and the allegiance of county sheriff Johnny Behan (Jon Tenney) with the Cowboys is made clear. As retribution for the Cowboy deaths, Wyatt’s brothers are ambushed; Morgan is killed, while Virgil is left handicapped. A despondent Wyatt and his family leave Tombstone and board a train, with Clanton and Frank Stilwell close behind, preparing to ambush them. Wyatt sees that his family leaves safely, and then surprises the assassins; he kills Stilwell, but lets Clanton return to send a message. Wyatt announces that he is a U.S. marshal, and that he intends to kill any man he sees wearing a red sash. Wyatt, Doc, a reformed Cowboy named Sherman McMasters (Michael Rooker), along with their allies Texas Jack Vermillion (Peter Sherayko) and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson (Buck Taylor), join forces to administer justice.

Wyatt and his posse are ambushed in a riverside forest by the Cowboys. Hopelessly surrounded, Wyatt seeks out Curly Bill and kills him in a fast draw gunfight. Curly Bill’s second-in-command, Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn), becomes the new head of the Cowboys. When Doc’s health worsens, the group are accommodated by Henry Hooker (Charlton Heston) at his ranch. Ringo sends a messenger (dragging McMasters’ corpse) to Hooker’s property telling Wyatt that he wants a showdown to end the hostilities; Wyatt agrees. Wyatt sets off for the showdown, not knowing that Doc had already arrived at the scene. Doc confronts a surprised Ringo and kills him in a duel. Wyatt runs when he hears the gunshot only to encounter Doc. They then press on to complete their task of eliminating the Cowboys, although Clanton escapes their vengeance. Doc is sent to a sanatorium in Colorado where he later dies of his illness. At Doc’s urging, Wyatt pursues Josephine to begin a new life. The film ends with a narration of an account of their long marriage, ending with Wyatt’s death in Los Angeles in 1929.

REVIEW:

 I’ve seen quite a few westerns in my time…some good and some not so much. By the time Tombstone was released in 1993, the western genre had been long forgotten. Watching this film this afternoon, I applaud them for the attempt, but there is something about this film that just doesn’t stack up the those westerns of the genres heyday.

The film’s plot revolves around the later life of Wyatt Earp, after his retirement from being a peace officer. Along with Earp, notable western characters such as Doc Holliday and Earp’s 2 brothers, are present, as is the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Also present is the Earp vendetta and the sad death of Doc Holliday.

I love westerns that have lots of shootouts. The thing about this film is that you have to sit through a good hour or so of talking, character development, and other boring things before we finally get the big payoff. I realize this had to be done in order to get he audience behind or against all the characters and all, but good grief did it seem to drag on…and on…and on…and on….and on.

The infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral lasted all of maybe 2 minutes. Granted, this is Tombstone and not Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but it just seemed that they rushed through something that should have been a major focal point of the film. 

They did spend some time on the Earp vendetta ride, which I thought was a bit of a trade-off, especially since it wasn’t as popular as said gunfight.

Kurt Russell does an ok job with his role as Wyatt Earp, but for some reason he just seemed cold and aloof to me.

Sam Elliott fit perfectly in this role, even if it was a small one. We’ve all seen this guy in films before. He is just built to be a wild west gunman, and this is proof.

Val Kilmer is the highlight of the cast, of that there is no question. However, I have issue with how he portrayed Doc Holliday. I don’t ever recall reading anywhere that Doc was this flamboyant or that he resembled Guy Fawkes (the guy who face V wears in V for Vendetta). At times, I thought Holliday was homosexual. Kilmer may have done some of his best acting here, but at what cost to the legacy of Doc Holliday?

Bill Paxton and Dana Delaney are also good in their supporting roles, yet nothing memorable.

See if you can spot Jason Priestly and Billy Bob Thornton in the cast. Here’s a hint, Billy Bob is not the near skeleton he is today.

I’m not really into drama, for the most part, and that was a good chunk of this film, so I really couldn’t get too involved in Tombstone as much as I would have liked. Not to mention the fact that these filmmakers just don’t possess the skills to make a great western the way people were once able to pull off. Would I recommend this to anyone? Sure, while this film isn’t the most exciting western in the world, it is far from the worst. Still, if you’ve never seen a western, don’t judge the genre by this subpar entry into the genre.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars