Archive for Brendan Fraser

Revisited: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT: (spoiler alert!!!):

In ancient China, a brutal and tyrannical warlord unites the country’s kingdoms into an empire and becomes the Dragon Emperor. He orders the construction of the Great Wall of China to bury and curse his dead enemies, eventually learning power over the traditional Chinese Wu Xing elements of fire, water, earth, wood and metal. Emperor Han soon grows fearful that his death will end all he has accomplished and summons Zi Yuan, a sorceress who is said to know the secret of immortality. She seemingly casts a spell on Han in Sanskrit, before he executes General Ming, his trusted friend and Zi Yuan’s secret lover. He stabs Zi Yuan with a dagger, but having foreseen this event, she immolates and imprisons the Emperor and his soldiers in clay, transforming his army into the Terracotta Army, and flees.

In 1946, Alex O’Connell, Rick and Evelyn O’Connell’s son, and his archaeology professor Roger Wilson locate Han’s tomb. Though attacked by a mysterious woman, they succeed in bringing the coffin to Shanghai. Meanwhile, the British government entrusts the O’Connells to take the Eye of Shangri-La back to China. However, they learn that Wilson works for a rogue military faction led by General Yang, who had provided the financial backing of Alex’s expedition. Yang believes that Han is the one who can lead China out of the chaos following World War II and plans to resurrect the Emperor using the Eye, which contains the Elixir of Life. They open it, but it accidentally lands on the statue of the carriage driver, which is revealed to actually be Han’s mummified body. He accepts Yang’s service but kills Wilson and escapes.

Along with Evelyn’s brother Jonathan Carnahan, the O’Connells and the mysterious woman, Lin, travel to a stupa in the Himalayas that will reveal the path to Shangri-La when the Eye is placed on top of it. With the help of Yetis summoned by Lin, the group hold off Yang’s soldiers but Han discovers Shangri-La’s location. Alex attempts to trigger an avalanche. Han throws a dagger at him, but Rick shoves Alex and is stabbed instead. Lin takes the group to Shangri-La, where Zi Yuan still lives and heals Rick’s wound. The group discovers that Lin is Zi Yuan’s daughter, both rendered immortal due to the power of Shangri-La’s waters. As Rick heals, Alex and Lin have grown attached to each other, but Lin refuses due to her immortality, unable to bear falling in love with Alex only to watch him grow old and die, just as Zi Yuan mourned for General Ming.

Han and General Yang eventually arrive and attack them in Shangri-La, and Han bathes in the mystical waters, which restores his human form and youth, and gives him the ability to shapeshift. Transforming into a dragon, Han kidnaps Lin and flies back to the tomb, raising his Terracota Army, planning to cross the Great Wall, where they will be invincible. The O’Connells and Zi Yuan pursue Han to the Great Wall where she sacrifices her and Lin’s immortality to create an undead army from beneath The Great Wall, led by a revived General Ming. As Alex rescues Lin, Zi Yuan fights Han and is mortally wounded, but secures the dagger. Zi Yuan gives the dagger to the group before dying. Meanwhile, Han goes into the Great Wall to use his elemental powers to negate the undead spell. Rick and Alex fight off Han while Evelyn and Lin fight and kill Yang and Choi. Han gains the upper hand over Rick, but Rick and Alex manage to stab Han in his heart with the dagger, killing him and defeating the Terracotta Army. Ming’s army briefly celebrates before finally moving on to a peaceful afterlife.

The O’Connells return to Shanghai while Jonathan decides to move to Peru with the Eye of Shangri-La, as he wants to go somewhere with no mummies. However, in postscript, it is revealed that upon his arrival, mummies were discovered in Peru.

REVIEW:

Ten years ago, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor began my journey as a movie critic blogger type person. It seems fitting that I revisit it as a way to bookend all 2,743 entries. Aside from that, we still have a film to talk about here. A film that sees our intrepid hero, Rick O’Connell once again messing with the undead. Many times the third time is not the charm for film franchises. Could that be the case here? Let us find out, shall we?

What is this about?

The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen continues the tale set into motion by director Stephen Sommers with this globe-trotting adventure that finds explorer Rick O’Connell and son attempting to thwart a resurrected emperor’s (Jet Li) plan to enslave the entire human race. It’s been 2,000 years since China’s merciless Emperor Han and his formidable army were entombed in terra cotta clay by a double-dealing sorceress (Michelle Yeoh), but now, after centuries in suspended animation, an ancient curse is about to be broken. Thanks to his childhood adventures alongside father Rick (Brendan Fraser) and mother Evelyn (Maria Bello), dashing young archeologist Alex O’Connell (Luke Ford) is more than familiar with the power of the supernatural. After he is tricked into awakening the dreaded emperor from his eternal slumber, however, the frightened young adventurer is forced to seek out the wisdom of his parents — both of whom have had their fair share of experience battling the legions of the undead. Should the fierce monarch prove capable of awakening his powerful terra cotta army, his diabolical plan for world domination will finally be set into motion. Of course, the one factor that this emperor mummy failed to consider while solidifying his power-mad plans was the O’Connells, and before this battle is over, the monstrous monarch will be forced to contend with the one family that isn’t frightened by a few rickety reanimated corpses.

What did I like?

Out of Egypt. I don’t know about you guys, but whenever I think of mummies, the first place that comes to mind is Egypt. If I’m not mistaken, that’s where the legends were born that led to the other film’s in this franchise, the classic mummy that we know from old cartoon and tv and, though I hate to bring this up, the recent film with Tom Cruise. With that said, it is a nice change of pace to have mummies from and in China, especially one that has these superpowers and is based in actual history. Now the question is, who would win in a fight, the Dragon Emperor or Imhotep?

Action-packed. Movies today seem to forget that audiences don’t want to sit in an already darkened theater looking at a dark alley with people talking for 3/4 of the film. No, if we go to an action film, then that is what we want to see. Perhaps it is fitting that this director is from the Fast and the Furious franchise because it has come as a surprise that those film have been raking in the bucks of late. Truth is, they are mindless action, an escape from reality, and that is what people want. In this film’s case, much like the Indiana Jones films, we come to see a normal guy kicking ass while fighting off supernatural beings. I would say he also is fighting to get the girl, but he got her in the first film.

Fun. This franchise has always impressed me with how fun it is. Not just with the action and comedy, but with how it captures the feel of an old Hollywood swashbuckler or the serial comics from that time. It is interesting that I bring this up, because it was around the time that this film came out that films shifted toward darker, more serious tones. Even this flick is guilty of that, but it manages to keep the fun factor. I mean, the dead emperor barges into Shangri-La and bathes in the rejuvenating pool only to re-emerge as a 3 headed dragon! That’s some video game boss level stuff there. I love it!

What didn’t I like?

Weisz she gone? I don’t want to take anything away from Maria Bello. She is a beautiful woman and a fine actress. However, she is not Rachel Weisz. What I mean to say is that there was a certain chemistry Weisz had with Brendan Fraser and John Hannah, as well as certain feel for the character of Evie that Bello doesn’t seem to have. To me, she felt like if your starting quarterback on your fantasy football team got hurt and you have to scour the waiver wire hoping to get a player that will put up decent numbers, but it just isn’t the same (and may cost you some games…not that I’m speaking for personal experience, mind you).

Daddy issues. Why is it no one if movies today has issues with their mother? It’s always about Daddy? If you will recall from The Mummy Returns, Alex was the precocious son of Rick and Evie O’Connell. Fast forward a few years and he is now estranged from his parents and an adventurer in his own right. Not to mention, he seems to take after his dad as a bit of a flirt. When we finally see the three of them together, we learn that he and his dad aren’t exactly on speaking terms. I could list for days films that have a similar subplot, especially with how it resolves. Personally, I think this whole thing could have been left out in favor of more development of Michelle Yeoh and Isabella Leong’s characters.

Try, try, try again. For everything that worked in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, changing location and doing the same thing doesn’t fly with this. You have an all powerful mummy and the famed Terracotta army, not to mention Yetis and the Great Wall of China, yet almost all of these are wasted and/or underused. With Imhotep, we spent the both films getting to know him, both with his actions on-screen and a history “lesson” from Evie. The Dragon Emperor is introduced to us in the opening and when he appears in modern day, he is actually more intimidating than when he becomes human again. The only redeeming scene for him is when he becomes the 3 headed dragon or when the filmmaker’s realized it was Jet Li and let him do some martial arts.

Final verdict on The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. I probably have made this sound worse than it is. Truth be told, this is a film that would be enjoyable on a Saturday afternoon when you just need something to watch. However, this was meant to keep the franchise going, or at least revive it, but instead it seemed to kill it (along with other factors). There is obvious effort here to make a worthy film but, in the end I cannot in good faith recommend this to anyone, unless you just want to complete the trilogy.

3 out of 5 stars

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Furry Vengeance

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on March 20, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

When ambitious real estate developer Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser) relocates his family to rural Oregon to supervise the construction of a massive new subdivision, one resourceful raccoon rallies his woodland friends to fight back and shut down the project. As the battle between man and beast heats up, the hapless real estate developer realizes there are some natural environments that are better left untouched.

What people are saying:

“A thin premise stretched far beyond serviceable length, Furry Vengeance subjects Brendan Fraser – and the audience – to 92 minutes of abuse” 2 1/2 stars

“Almost as much of a relief as making it through to the end is realizing earlier on that none of the creatures will be talking for the duration of the picture. This reduces the annoyance factor considerably for anyone over the age of nine.” 2 stars

“i like the idea that over all time there was a group of animals protecting the forest. but this would have probably been a better animated movie with talking animals instead of the goofy “film” presented. it tries to be funny but it really isn’t because none of it can be taken seriously. Brendan Fraser annoyed the crap outta me, he just couldn’t function. everybody should feel really bad about making this movie the way it was. it would have probably been good if it had been animated” 2 stars

“This wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be… but it had it’s moments. I love the fact that the animals had such a great revenge. I can’t believe that he got hurt more than five times… and he still lived.” 3 1/2 stars

“A bore from its opening moments right through the lame credit sequence featuring the actors lip-syncing to Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Brain,” Furry Vengeance would only be worthwhile if the animals of the world took the film to heart and attacked the filmmakers for creating a movie that makes them look like vindictive jerks.” 2 stars

The Nut Job

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the fictional city of Oakton City in 1959, a selfish purple squirrel named Surly (Will Arnett) and his rat partner Buddy who does not talk much reside in Liberty Park and their thieving reputation has made them outcasts. A group of urban animals led by Raccoon (Liam Neeson) and his Cardinal assistant (who mostly chirps) store food for winter in a giant tree in the park called Liberty Park. Raccoon is informed by his servant Mole (Jeff Dunham) that there is a food shortage in the park. Surly and Buddy’s attempt to rob a peanut cart goes haywire when it is impeded by Raccoon’s helpers, a compassionate red squirrel named Andie (Katherine Heigl) and the “park hero”, a gray squirrel named Grayson (Brendan Fraser) whose heroic antics prove to be incompetent. The selfish Surly ignores Andie’s help and tries to get a bag of nuts while the owner Lucky and his associate Fingers gets distracted by a bratty girl scout customer and a police officer that the girl issues her complaint to. The heist also gets invaded by Lucky’s pet pug named Precious (Maya Rudolph). After fending her off by having her bite the pipe of a propane tank, Surly and Buddy escape with the cart and Andie manages to guide it to Liberty Park. Surly threatens Andie and Grayson with a torch, unwilling to share the food, but accidentally causes it to ricochet across the park. Although the animals (except for Grayson) get off safely, the cart is sent into the tree, where it explodes along with the tree and the animals’ food supply. Grayson however, survives the ordeal. When Surly is identified as the culprit by the Groundhog Bruisers Jimmy (Gabriel Iglesias), Johnny, and Jamie, Raccoon banishes him from Liberty Park following a unanimous vote forcing him to survive in the city.

Buddy attempts to be with Surly who tells him to leave after he unknowingly contributed to his exile. After escaping from wild street rats, they find a nut store called Maury’s Nut Shop and attempt to rob it to feed themselves. After entering the store, they discover that it is a criminal hideout used by Lucky, Fingers, their mob boss Percy “King” Dimplewade (Stephen Lang) who has recently gotten out of jail, his silent partner Knuckles, and his girlfriend Lana (Sarah Gadon). Raccoon sends Andie and Grayson to find food only for them to get separated upon Grayson fighting a street rat. Precious also serves as the guard dog there and King plans to rob the Oaken Bank and replace the cash with nuts. Surly and Buddy see that the only way to get to the nuts and to avoid Precious is with a dog whistle that Lucky has. The two of them are thrown out by Knuckles since he can hear it. While trying to find the whistle, Surly crosses paths with Andie who gets the whistle and threatens to dispose of it if Surly does not share the food he’s going to take. Reluctantly, Surly accepts and unwittingly befriends Precious after threatening her with the whistle. Andie informs the park community of the plan. Although they have a lack of faith in Surly, Raccoon and the rest of the park community agree to go along with it. Andie gets help from Mole and the Bruisers.

When the first attempt to rob the store fails, Surly eventually learns from Andie that Raccoon planned on double crossing him and Surly leaves after an argument even when Grayson catches up to the group. After Surly and Precious catch Mole in the act of sabotage, he confesses that Raccoon is a power-hungry con artist who keeps food from the animals to have his leadership kept and only Mole and Cardinal know about it. Andie and the others are unconvinced at Raccoon’s plot as King begins his heist. After fending off the street rats that worked for Raccoon, the two squirrels ends up chasing after King’s truck that Raccoon and the other animals are on while Grayson fights off Cardinal who is sent flying into the window of a building where the Oakton City Cat Show is being held. While in the truck, Mole defects from Raccoon and reveals this info to the animals with Surly resulting in Raccoon being voted out of the park community at Grayson’s suggestion. King and Knuckles uses the dynamite inside the empty truck to blow the police out, but it hangs and falls over the bridge where it explodes, after Surly gets himself and Andie off it before they fall into the river. Surly makes it to a log, but finds Raccoon, King and Knuckles surviving the explosion. Raccoon tries to kill Surly, but the nuts weight begins to break the log. The animals arrive to rescue them, but Surly, decides to be selfless in order to protect his friends, lets go of the log and falls down into the waterfall with Raccoon apparently. The park community, now seeing the good side of Surly, mourn him in honor of the most selfless act he committed in years.

The food makes its way into the Liberty Park, where the animals gather around in joy as their food troubles are over. King and his associates are arrested as Lana appears to end her relationship with King. Andie and Buddy are still mourning over Surly and when Precious finds out what happened to her friend, she eventually finds Surly’s apparent dead body near the river. She has Buddy come and look at it. Doleful to see his best friend gone, Buddy says his first two words “best friend”. Surly reveals that he was actually unconscious and hugs Buddy and Precious licks Surly’s face (which she wanted to do since she got involved in Surly’s heist) and leaves to meet up with Lana who plans to run Maury’s Nut Shop in Lucky’s place. Finding that Surly is alright, Andie embraces him and tries to get him to come to the other animals so he can tell of his heroism. But Surly, feeling as though it was the other animals that were the true heroes, refuses yet gains a willingness to work with others. He goes into the city with Buddy allowing Grayson to take credit for the food making it to the park.

During the credits, the animals and humans dance with an animated PSY as he performs “Gangnam Style.” In a mid-credits scene, Raccoon and Cardinal are shown to have survived their ordeal and are sulking on a harbor buoy surrounded by sharks while trying to come up with another plan. In the post-credits, Precious chases Mole who is holding a bone that Precious wants. Mole drives Precious away with the dog whistle.

REVIEW:

What is it that is uttered in just about every episode of the first couple of season of Game of Thrones? Ah yes, “Winter is coming!” In a way, that could be the mantra for The Nut Job, as these animals search for food. Simple enough, right? One would think, but how complicated and convoluted did these filmmakers decide to make it?

What is this about?

When his grouchy attitude gets him kicked out of the park, Surly the squirrel hatches a plan to rob Maury’s Nut Shop to stock up for winter.

What did I like?

Detail. It wasn’t that long ago that we were in awe of what computer animation was capable of doing. Just look at Brave for a point of reference. Watching this, you can see a great deal of care and attention that was paid to not only the fur on the animals, but also the fabric on the clothes. In particular, I noticed a scene where the mobsters were wearing janitor uniforms and you could see the fabric pattern. While I am still not a fan of computer animation, I will give credit where credit is due, so kudos to what these animators have done.

Voices. As with most animated films, at least the ones that are major releases, the voice cast is quite impressive. Some names and voices are instantly recognizable, such as Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, but a few aren’t as instantly recognizable, such as Maya Rudolph, Gabriel Iglesias, Katherine Heigl, etc. None do a bad job, and all fit their characters.

Roll credits. As the credits roll, we are treated to an animated version of the hit song “Gangnam Style”, complete with all the characters dancing and an animated version on Psy singing and dancing along. A common trope that among family films, especially animated ones, and some comedies seems to be the end credits dance scene. While this has gotten a little old, it was a nice touch throwing in this song, which was majorly popular when this was being made.

What didn’t I like?

Time, time, time. This is set in the 1950s, as you can tell because the human ancillary characters resemble their counterparts in The Incredibles. However, the music doesn’t fit, specifically the end credits song. Wouldn’t it have been more fitting to use a song from this era? On youtube, there is a channel that specializes in making current songs retro. Perhaps that would have worked if they insisted on using “Gangnam Style.”

Taken the nuts. There was a time when Liam Neeson was a highly respected dramatic actor. Somewhere along the way, he decided to just take action roles and now this. Now, it is possible he did this for his kids. Sometimes actors will do that so the kids can see something they are in. However, this is not a good role for Neeson. He is above this mediocre material. I also must question what kind of mutant raccoon looks like this? I couldn’t tell if he was a bear, raccoon, badger, or something else!

Stewie syndrome. Talking animals and humans. Who can hear who? This is something I like to refer to as the “Stewie syndrome”, where it is obvious certain individuals can hear, but not everyone, much in the way the family on Family Guy eiter can’t hear or ignore Stewie (excpt for Chris, occasionally). Is this a bad thing? No, but it is something that was a bit unsettling for me, personally, as I would have liked for everyone or no one to hear the animals.

In the end, The Nut Job is a decent enough family flick. As far as I could tell, there is nothing offensive, demeaning, or, unfortunately, funny. I don’t really have much to say about this flick. For the most part, it is just an average family flick that can be popped in just as often as an episode of Sesame Street, SpongeBob Squarepants, or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. So, do I recommend this? Yeah, sure, why not? I just can’t give anyone an enthusiastic recommendation about mediocrity such as this.

3 out of 5 stars

Escape from Planet Earth

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film starts out with Scorch Supernova on a mission to rescue captured babies from a rival species. Scorch then returns back to Planet Baab where he is known as a famous hero, while at BASA his brother, Gary and Gary’s son Kip are. Soon, Gary and Scorch receive a message from Lena the head of BASA, that Scorch will be sent to the “Dark Planet” (Earth) due to an SOS call. Scorch decides to go on the mission to the Dark planet, but Gary strongly discourages him from going. After further arguing finally Gary says that he won’t be helping Scorch and quits BASA before Scorch can fire him. Gary then goes home to his wife Kira and Kip only to find out that Scorch has already gone on the mission to the Dark planet, while Kip is watching it on live TV in excitement.

Scorch arrives on Earth and lands in the desert and finds a 7-Eleven convenience store but mistakes an inflatable figure for a dying being. Scorch is then tranquilized and captured by Shanker Saunderson, the malevolent general of the US Army, and is taken to “Area 51” where aliens from other planets are held. After finding that this has happened, Kip wants to go rescue Scorch but Gary discourages him and he himself doesn’t want to go. Kip is furious and goes to his room. Gary goes to Kip’s room to apologize and admit he is sorry that Scorch has been captured. When Gary flips Kip’s blanket open, instead of seeing Kip, he sees his dog and sees that Kip’s window is open. Knowing that Kip is going to try and save Scorch, he rushes to BASA with Kira wearing his rocket boots. They arrive to find that Kip is about to take off in a ship.

Gary manages to cancel the launch sequence, but he re-activates the sequence so Gary himself can rescue Scorch. He soon arrives on the Dark Planet. As soon as he arrives his ship immediately activates a self-destruct sequence, but Gary manages to get out. He then arrives at the same store that Scorch arrived at earlier. Gary goes inside the store, but is spotted by two men inside named Hawk and Hammer. Both Gary and the two men get freaked out by each other and try to hide from each other. After the two men realize that Gary is not a hostile alien, they offer him a slushie. Gary takes the slushie but drinks it too fast and gets brain freeze. Afterwards, Shanker’s men break into the store and capture Gary.

Gary is then taken to Shanker’s office where he is quickly removed after Shanker receives an incoming call. It is then revealed that Lena is an ally of Shanker’s as she has sent him a powerful source known as blutonium and is in love with him as he puts on an Elvis Presley-like wig when contacting her. Gary is placed in a cell hall with other alien geniuses named Doc, Io, and Thurman, who tell Gary that various human technology has been invented by them for Shanker to rip off and sell to the world so he will release them. Gary reunites with his brother, but is again annoyed by his conceited behavior. After a food fight in the cafeteria, the aliens make their way to ‘the peace shield’. Lena, meanwhile, has captured Kira, who stayed at BASA to try to contact Gary in concern for his safety. Lena then reveals her plan to give a lifetime supply of blutonium to Shanker.

After Shanker reveals the blutonium, Gary unintentionally provokes Scorch into stealing it after stating it’s dangerous power and when being chased, Scorch destroys the blutonium, causing Shanker to freeze him. He orders Gary to fix the blutonium and reveals that he’s going to destroy all of the alien planets with a laser ray the captured aliens have built due to 3 imprisoned aliens accidentally killing his dad when he was 6. Gary fixes it with help from his new friends, but Shanker goes back on his promise to release him and instead freezes him like his brother. The other aliens discover Shanker’s true intentions when he tries to destroy Baab with the laser ray, it is revealed that Gary rigged the blutonium to malfunction and destroy the laser ray, thereby releasing the captured aliens. With Gary and Scorch released from their icy prisons, the brothers, Doc, Thurman, and Io escape Area 51 and eventually find Scorch’s ship in a trailer park.

Meanwhile, back on Baab, Kip frees his mother, who stops and subdues Lena after the latter took off with the blutonium shipment (and in the midst of the battle, learns Shanker was using her). Kip guides his father to safety via mission control, but Shanker (wearing Scorch’s robotic suit that he wears on his adventures) uses a tractor beam to stop the ship, but Gary and Scorch jump on him and manage to get the suit off the villain, causing the latter and the brothers to plummet to their dooms. After reconciling, the aliens that killed Shanker’s dad rescue them and take Shanker away. After returning to Baab, Scorch marries a reporter named Gabby Babblebrook

REVIEW:

For some reason, there is an obsession with making alien themed children’s films, of questionable quality. The latest entry into this category is Escape from Planet Earth. Is this more of the same stuff we’ve seen over and over again, or something new?

What is this about?

This all-ages animated comedy follows the adventures of astronaut Scorch Supernova, a hero of the blue aliens who has a vast appetite for adventure. Ignoring his brother’s warning, Scorch sets off on a deep-space rescue that proves to be a trap.

What did I like?

Fraser. I’ve always thought Brenadan Fraser had the perfect voice for over-the-top animated characters. Finally, someone listened and cast him as one, Scorch Supernova, the cocky astronaut hero of planet Baub. Even though this character has some character deficiencies, Fraser makes him such a lovable guy that you can’t help but like him.

Color. Blue is my favorite color, and there is plenty of it to be seen here, mostly because the people of planet Baub are blue. If you’re looking for lots of color, then this is something sure to strike your fancy, because there are lots and lots of color to be seen, even in the darker scenes. It can be a little much, but I liked it, so get over yourself.

That’s how that happened. When we meet the other aliens in Area 51, it is revealed that the captured aliens are responsible for much of the technological advancement such as social networking, iPhones, etc. This may be a bit of a conspiracy theory, but it made for some funny moments, especially when you take a few minutes and think about it (and the real-life secrecy of Area 51).

What didn’t I like?

Voice casting. I mentioned earlier how Brendan Fraser was perfectly cast as Scorch Supernova. On the flip side of the coin, I have to wonder about the rest of this cast. For instance, Rob Corddry was the nerdy brother. If you know anything about Corddy, this doesn’t make much sense. Surely there had to have been someone else that would have been a better fit. Also, Jessica Alba as the villainous co-conspirator didn’t work. For me, I don’t see her as a bad guy. Now Sarah Jessica Parker, she would’ve been better suited. Perhaps they should have switched roles.

Latino. I don’t want to come off sounding like some sort of racist, but how in the bloody blue hell are there so many Hispanics in outer space?!? I’m talking about, in particular, Sofia Vergara as a reporter and George Lopez as an alien scientist in Area 51. It just seems as if the filmmakers went out of their way to find them for the specific reason of bringing in the Hispanic crowd, rather than enhancing the story.

Dead horse. There is a running joke, especially early on where the henchmen in Area 51 call each other by names that together form director names, such as James, Cameron, etc. The first time they did it was funny, but it got old quick. On top of that, this is a kids movie. Are they really going to know who James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, and Martin Scorsese (called ‘Marty’) are? I think not!

When all the dust clears, Escape from Planet Earth isn’t the worst animated film that you’ll see, but it isn’t the best, either. There isn’t anything here that will make you not want to watch it, but there’s nothing that you’ll be glad you watched it, either. I wish they would have done something more imaginative with this, but other than the brain freeze thing and the wacky, waving flailing, inflatable tube man, there isn’t much imagination to be seen here. With that said, I don’t really recommend this but, at the same time, tread lightly.

3 out of 5 stars

The Mummy Returns

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 3067 BC, the Scorpion King, leads his army on a campaign to conquer the world. Seven years later, the Scorpion King and his army are defeated and exiled to the desert of Ahm Shere. His men die of heat exhaustion, leaving only the Scorpion King. Vowing to give Anubis his soul for the power to defeat his enemies, an oasis is created to hide the Scorpion King’s pyramid and giving him a legion of demonic, humanoid jackal warriors to seek revenge. The Army of Anubis sweeps across Egypt, destroying everything in its path, but once their task is finished Anubis claims the Scorpion King’s soul and his army.

In 1933, Rick and Evelyn O’Connell explore a ruined mortuary structure in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes with their son, Alex. They find the Bracelet of Anubis. In London, Alex puts on the bracelet, which provides him with directions to the oasis of Ahm Shere. Alex has seven days to reach the oasis, or the bracelet will kill him the moment the rays of the sun shine on the Scorpion King’s pyramid; at that point the Scorpion King and his army will also reawaken.

Alex is captured by an Egyptian cult who have resurrected Imhotep; they wish to use Imhotep’s power to defeat the Scorpion King, which would give him command of the Army of Anubis. The cult, led by Baltus Hafez, the curator of the British Museum, includes a warrior named Lock-Nah and Meela Nais, the reincarnation of Imhotep’s love Anck-su-namun. The O’Connells set out to rescue Alex, accompanied by Evelyn’s brother Jonathan and the Medjai Ardeth Bay. Rick’s associate from his past adventures, Izzy, a pilot, provides the group transportation.

The bracelet of Anubis gives Alex visions, directions to Ahm Shere that the cult follows. At each location, Alex leaves clues for his parents, who follow in Izzy’s dirigible. Imhotep uses the Book of the Dead to give Meela Nais the soul of Anck-su-namun but by doing so he also allows Evelyn to unlock the memories of her previous life as Princess Nefertiri, keeper of the bracelet of Anubis and the daughter of Pharaoh Seti I. Lock-Nah discovers that Alex has been leaving clues, so Imhotep makes a wall of water that attacks the dirigible. The O’Connells crash in Ahm Shere. Izzy stays with the dirigible in hopes of repairing it. The O’Connells attack the cult, and both groups are attacked by pygmy mummies. Rick retrieves Alex while Ardeth Bay kills Lock-Nah. They escape from the pygmies, which kill most of the cult except for Baltus. Imhotep and Anck-su-namun are unharmed due to Imhotep’s powers and Anck-su-namun being the keeper of the Book of the Dead.

Rick and Alex run to the pyramid, barely making it before sunrise. The bracelet detaches from Alex’s arm. Ardeth regroups with the Medjai in case the army of Anubis rises. Anck-su-namun stabs Evey and Rick pursues Imhotep. Baltus puts on the bracelet and revives the army of Anubis. As Imhotep walks into the pyramid, Anubis takes his powers, wanting Imhotep to fight as a mortal. Rick finds Imhotep summoning the Scorpion King and they fight. The Medjai engage the army of Anubis. The Scorpion King interrupts Rick and Imhotep’s fight. Imhotep tells the Scorpion King that he is the Scorpion King’s slave, but Rick was sent to kill him. During Rick and the Scorpion King’s fight, the Scorpion King kills Baltus. Jonathan and Alex collaborate to steal the Book of the Dead from Anck-su-namun. Alex uses the book to resurrect Evelyn, who duels with Anck-su-namun.

Alex and Jonathan go to help Rick. It is revealed that the scepter that Jonathan has been carrying extends into a spear that can kill the Scorpion King. The Medjai seemingly defeat Anubis’ army despite heavy casualties, but see that they have only defeated the vanguard, and the full army is charging towards them. However, before the Anubis warriors hit the Medjai lines, Rick succeeds in killing the Scorpion King, sending him and his army back to the Underworld. The Scorpion King’s death causes Anubis to turn the oasis back into a desert, and the oasis is being sucked into the pyramid. Rick and Imhotep are hanging from the edge of a pit that leads into the underworld. Evelyn risks her life to save Rick, but Anck-su-namun refuses to save Imhotep, who falls to his death. Anck-su-namun soon falls into a scarab-filled pit and is devoured.

The O’Connells reach the top of the pyramid, which is being sucked into the desert. Izzy arrives with a modified dirigible and saves the O’Connells. Jonathan grabs the diamond at the top of the pyramid. Ardeth Bay salutes them as they fly over him

REVIEW:

Some people hold this film in the highest regards, saying it is the best entry in the franchise. I am not sure I agree with that, I don’t totally disagree. The Mummy Returns is, if nothing else, not a disgrace to other great franchise sequels.

For all that praise this film, there just as many, if not more that chide it for being such a departure from The Mummy or being a bit on the episodic side.

My personal take on this film is that it is a sequel, therefore they wanted to move the story along and not repeat the first film. In that regard, they did what they set out to do.

So, what worked for me?

The story of Anck-Su-Namun and Princess Nefertiri . In the first film, we learned about Imhotep, but it was obvious there was a story itching to be told about the women that more or less caused him to be cursed for all eternity.

The comedic touches are still there. It is always a treat for me when a flick doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is one of the reasons why I love these films so much, they are able to insert those moments of levity seamlessly in there now and then.

The special effects. In the first film, there was giant sand dunes and whatnot, which were spectacular, but this time we get things on a bigger scale, such as the raging Nile River shooting up and bringing down the balloon.

Scenery. In films of this nature, I’m always gushing about how gorgeous the backgrounds are, and this is no exception, especially when they get to the city of Thebes.

They dynamic between Rick and Evy is better this time around, though I think I preferred her as the meek little librarian from the first film.

What doesn’t work?

The Scorpion King. I realize this was supposed to be The Rock’s big screen debut and for what they did with him, it was a good debut. However, I just think his character was one of those that was just thrown in there as a sad attempt to flesh out some kind of false history.

Imhotep. This guy is a force to be reckoned with, even if his mortal, but with a couple of exceptions, they really just wasted him. He mostly walked around smirking and grunting and talking in that foreign tongue, barking orders. Not really that intimidating, especially when you consider how imposing he was in the first one.

Alex and the cult. Alex is the typical annoying pre-pubescent boy who is just annoying for the sake of being annoying and getting into everything. You know the type. The cult just seemed like the token bad guys who were there just to see that there was a way to get the plot moving forward without having to make the ending on the first film seem like it never happened.

All in all, The Mummy Returns is good, clean fun (a rarity outside of family films these days). Now that I think about it, if there is a film that needs to be released in 3D, it is this and its predecessor, at least in my opinion. There isn’t much negative to say about this film. I highly recommend it to everyone!

5 out of 5 stars

The Mummy

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Egypt, circa 1290 BC, high priest Imhotep engages in an affair with Ankh-sun-Amun, the mistress of Pharaoh Seti I—other men are forbidden to touch her. When the Pharaoh discovers their tryst, Imhotep and Ankh-sun-Amun murder the monarch. Imhotep flees with his fellow Egyptian priests. The Medjay then enter the room, to see only Ankh-sun-Amun and the dead pharaoh (however, in the sequel The Mummy Returns, it was shown that Evelyn – in her previous incarnation as Princess Nefertiri – was the one who called the guards). Ankh-sun-Amun then kills herself, intending for Imhotep to resurrect her. After Ankh-sun-Amun’s burial, Imhotep breaks into her crypt and steals her corpse. He and his priests flee across the desert to Hamunaptra, the city of the dead, where they begin the resurrection ceremony. However, they are caught by Seti’s guards before the ritual could be completed, and Ankh-sun-Amun’s soul is sent back to the Underworld. For their sacrilege, Imhotep’s priests are mummified alive, and Imhotep himself is forced to endure the curse of Hom Dai: his tongue is cut out, and he is buried alive with a swarm of flesh-eating scarabs. The ritual grants eternal life, forcing Imhotep to endure the agony of his wounds for all time. He is buried under high security, sealed away in a sarcophagus below a statue of the Egyptian god Anubis, and kept under strict surveillance by the Medjai, descendants of Seti’s palace guards. If Imhotep were ever to be released, the powers that made him immortal would allow him to unleash a wave of destruction and death upon the Earth.

In 1926, Cairo librarian and aspiring Egyptologist Evelyn Carnahan is presented with an intricate box and map by her bumbling brother Jonathan, who says he found it in Thebes. After the pair discover the map leads to Hamunaptra, Jonathan reveals he actually stole it from an American named Rick O’Connell, who is currently in prison. Rick tells them that he knows the location of the city because his unit of the French Foreign Legion reached the fabled city, only to be overrun by hostile Bedouins. He makes a deal with Evelyn to reveal the location of Hamunaptra, in exchange for Evelyn saving Rick from being hanged.

Rick leads Evelyn and Jonathan’s small expedition to the city, where the group encounters a band of American treasure hunters led by the famed Egyptologist Dr. Allen Chamberlain and guided by Beni Gabor, a cowardly former Legion soldier and former comrade of Rick, who had hidden himself in Hamunaptra during the Beduins’ attack. Shortly after reaching Hamunaptra, both groups are attacked by the Medjai, led by a warrior named Ardeth Bei. Bei warns them of the evil buried in the city, but rather than heed his warning, the two expeditions continue to excavate in separate portions of the city. Evelyn is looking for the Book of Amun-Ra, a solid gold book supposedly capable of taking life away, but unexpectedly comes across the remains of Imhotep instead. The team of Americans, meanwhile, discover a box containing the black Book of the Dead, accompanied by canopic jars carrying Ankh-sun-Amun’s preserved organs; each of the Americans takes a jar as loot. Before opening the box Dr. Chamberlain reads an engraving saying that any and all who open the box are cursed to mutilation of their flesh. The men ignore the warnings, but Beni refuses to assist them, and flees.

At night, Evelyn takes the Book of the Dead from the Americans’ tent and reads a page aloud, accidentally awakening Imhotep. The sorceror’s resurrection awakens the camp and they search the pyramid for the cause of commotion. One of the treasure hunters is found by Imhotep and his eyes and tongue are taken from him to be used by the mummy. Although both groups return to Cairo, the mummy eventually finds them with help from Beni who has bargained with the mummy in exchange for fortune and his life. The mummy finishes absorbing the American he found at the pyramid and eventually absorbs two more including Dr. Chamberlain leaving only one to absorb to fully regain his power.

Rick, Evelyn, Jonathan, and the last surving American treasure hunter head to the museum in search of clues to put Imhotep back to rest, only to find the Medjai Ardeth Bei speaking with the curator. After Evelyn reveals that Imhotep referred to her as Ankh-sun-Amun at the pyramid Ardeth and the curator hypothesize that Imhotep is indeed seeking to resurrect his love once more and has chosen his sacrifice: Evelyn. Evelyn hypothesises that if the Book of the Dead brought Imhotep back to life, the Book of Amun-Ra can kill the high priest once again. Shortly after discovering the location of the Book Imhotep, now with an army of brainwashed slaves, corners the group. In the process of doing so Imhotep absorbs the last American thus fully restoring his power. Evelyn agrees to accompany Imhotep if he spares the lives of the rest of the group. Rick reluctantly agrees to do so, only for Imhotep to go back on his word and order his slaves to kill them. Luckily, Ardeth discovers an entrance to the sewers and they escape, however, the curator stays behind to hold off the horde of slaves to allow the rest to escape, losing his life.

Imhotep, with Evelyn and Beni in tow, returns to Hamunaptra, pursued by Rick, Jonathan, and Ardeth. Evelyn is rescued after an intense battle with Imhotep’s mummies, and she reads from the Book of Amun-Ra. Imhotep becomes mortal, and Rick stabs him. Rapidly decaying, Imhotep leaves the world of the living, vowing revenge with the same words he carved into his sarcophogus, “Death is only the beginning”. Beni accidentally sets off an ancient booby trap and is trapped by a swarm of flesh-eating scarabs as Hamunaptra begins to collapse into the sand. The heroes escape and ride off into the sunset on a pair of camels laden with treasure

REVIEW:

When I started this blog a few years ago, my first review was The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Ever since then, I keep thinking that I’ve reviewed The Mummy, but up until now, obviously, I haven’t gotten around to doing so. Finally, here it is…

First off, let me say that some people like to say this is a remake of the classic 1932 version of The Mummy, but it isn’t. There are some elements, such as Imhotep, but that’s it. As far as I can tell, they used the same story gor the basis, but also used a little imagination to distance itself from the original.

I love that they didn’t try to stick this in modern day. The 1930s worked for the Indiana Jones franchise, and continues to do so here. Having this in modern times just wouldn’t have the same success, I believe.

The special effects are great. Yes, they’re all CGI, but it is like ice cream on the side of cake. You don’t need it because of all the other great things that are going on, but it just adds that little extra something.

The story is great, especially the beginning narration that tells us how Imhotep became the mummy, although it is never really said how it is he developed powers, unless I missed something (which is totally possible).

The cast of characters each add something meaningful to the film, and aren’t just there to cash a check. Brendan Fraser is the perfect leading man for this type of film, a great action star who also has that comedic appeal when necessary.

Rachel Weisz and John Hannah as brother and sister I didn’t buy, but their individual characters were interesting. Weisz as the nerdy (and still hot) librarian and Hannah as the gambling…playboy, I guess is the word?

Arnold Vosloo doesn’t really have any lines, in English, but he is an intimidating presents when he is on the screen. I only wonder what it would have been like if he could have spoken English.

The scenery is not too shabby, but when most of the film is in the Egyptian desert, what  can you really expect to see but sand, some ruins, and an occasional oasis/mirage.

Pacing is great. I always harp on how much I hate films that move along and then suddenly slow down to an almost complete stop, but this one moves along without stopping until the end credits roll.

In the end, The Mummy is a great action flick that has something for everyone, even those that think that CG effects are the greatest things since sliced bread. For those of us that are fans of the original 1932 version, there are also respectable nods to it as well. I highly recommend this to everyone. It is definitely one of those pictures you should see before you die!

5 out of 5 stars

George of the Jungle

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins with an animated introduction showing a plane crash in which George, then an infant, is lost in a jungle in “the Heart of Africa” (more specifically, a region called “Bukuvu”). Over 25 years later, George (Brendan Fraser) is a Tarzan-like man, the “King of the Jungle”. His friends include a sophisticated talking gorilla named Ape (voiced by John Cleese), along with a toucan named Tookie, a small capuchin monkey (played by Crystal), and an African elephant named Shep, whom he calls his “dog” (all voiced by Frank Welker).

The live action begins as heiress Ursula Stanhope (Leslie Mann) explores the jungle near George’s home with the help of her guide, Mr. Kwame (Richard Roundtree) and some native porters. She has traveled to Africa alone, but she is joined by her wealthy fiancé, Lyle Van De Groot (Thomas Haden Church), who has found her with the help of two poachers (Greg Cruttwell and Abraham Benrubi) who are posing as trackers. That evening, Mr. Kwame recounts the legend of the White Ape, said to be a huge, super-strong primate who rules the surrounding jungle.

The next day, Lyle almost causes the death of one of the porters, and he abandons Ursula when he and she are attacked by a lion. George saves Ursula and takes her to his treehouse home, and Lyle returns to the camp, claiming to have been attacked by the White Ape. While the exploration party searches for Ursula, George entertains her and teaches her to swing on vines. He also falls in love with her, so Ape advises him to woo her by making faces and beating his chest, as gorillas do. This fails to impress Ursula, but George wins her over with his charm, and they enjoy an evening of dancing around a campfire.

On the third day, the explorers discover George’s treehouse, and Lyle shoots George as George tries to prevent the poachers from shooting Ape with a tranquilizer gun. While Lyle is jailed for the shooting, Ursula flies George to her home in San Francisco for medical treatment and buys clothes for him, and George explores the city and saves a paraglider’s life. With George’s help, Ursula finds the courage to tell her parents that she no longer wants to marry Lyle, but her mother (Holland Taylor), who is intent on marrying her to a man of wealth and prestige, threatens George with castration unless he gives Ursula up.

Meanwhile, the poachers have captured Ape, and Ape has sent Tookie to San Francisco to ask George for help. When Tookie finds George, George returns to Africa, and, after realizing she loves George, Ursula follows. George finds the poachers at the treehouse, with Ape in a cage, and he defeats them after an extended battle, with help from Ursula and his animal family. However, Lyle appears, having escaped from prison and joined a cult, and kidnaps Ursula with help from several mercenaries. Having been made a minister by his cult, Lyle intends to marry himself to Ursula immediately. After escaping the mercenaries with help from his gorilla friends, George chases Lyle and Ursula as they float into some river rapids on a raft, then saves Ursula while Lyle enters a dark tunnel. After performing his wedding ceremony and exiting the tunnel, Lyle discovers that he has just married a gorilla.

After admitting their love for each other, George and Ursula are married in a jungle ceremony, and they eventually have a son, whom George holds at the top of a rock outcropping in a scene derived from The Lion King. The film ends in Las Vegas, where Ape performs a song-and-dance act using the poachers as stage props.

REVIEW:

Yes, it is kind of funny that a few days ago I reviewed  Tarzan and here I am today doing George of the Jungle. No, I don’t have a thing for half-naked jungle men, they just happened to come in from Netflix around the same time.

Following in the footsteps of previous cartoons-turned-live-action films such as Dudley Do-Right, Inspector Gadget, The Flintstones, etc., this film makes an attempt to bring the cartoon to life on the big screen.

It really is a shame that so many people are jaded and cynical these days and want everything to be so dark and brooding, because the filmmakers really did a good job of capturing the spirit of the show with this film.

So, what is this whole thing about? Well, basically, George has to keep poachers from poaching his ape/monkey friends, save Ursala, and stop swinging into trees. Honestly, there isn’t much else to it than that.

However, the comedic scenes involving this cast, who actually look as if they are enjoying themselves are what make this sch a delight to watch. Sure, it may be cheesy, bt it works for the tone of the film. If you don’t like it, then don’t watch, it’s as simple as that.

The casting left a bit to be desired, though. Sure, Brendan Fraser is made for these roles. Why else would he have done this and Dudley Do-Right. Leslie Mann was ok, but the villains didn’t really work.

Thomas Haden Church is a good villain, but this role was all wrong for him. Maybe if he wold have been some yuppie in New York sitting behind a desk. He just has that kind of look about him.

The poachers also didn’t work for me. Not really sure why, bt they seemed all wrong. Maybe it was the British accent?

The sets in this film are very reminiscent of what you wold see in a film of yesteryear. Now, for me, this is no big deal. I actually prefer that fake look sometimes, plus it fits the tone and spirit of the picture, but I know there are some out there who hated it and insist that they should have filmed this in the real jungle.

Final verdict on George of the Jungle? Well, this a great, funny, family film. It isn’t the best flick in terms of how its made and all that other stuff critics usually harp on, honestly. That being said, don’t us real people watch movies for sheer entertainment value, and not for the point of criticizing every little thing? I highly recommend this to any and everyone. A good time will be had by all!

4 out of 5 stars