Archive for Channing Tatum

The Hateful Eight

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In Quentin Tarantino’s stylish Western set in post-Civil War Wyoming, eight travelers stranded at a stagecoach way station — including bounty hunters, outlaws and former soldiers — become enmeshed in a duplicitous plot as a savage blizzard rages outside.

What people are saying:

The Hateful Eight is a parlour-room epic, an entire nation in a single room, a film steeped in its own filminess but at the same time vital, riveting and real. Only Tarantino can do this, and he’s done it again” 4 stars

“The closing scene, amidst harrowing brutality, is poetically powerful and is without a shadow of a doubt, Tarantino’s crowning achievement as an auteur” 5 stars

“While this movie is definitely worth watching, even at nearly three hours in length, I found it too mannered and self-indulgent to give it any more than three stars. I realize that Tarantino likes to pay homage to his favorite old movies, but sometimes he overdoes it. For example, the lighting in the interior scenes is extremely unrealistic, and I’m sure that was done on purpose because it makes it resemble those old movies. But let’s all remember that they lit scenes that way not because they wanted to but because the technology at the time did not allow them to do it in the more realistic way that we are now able to do. Oh, and then there’s the unnecessary narration that jumps in well after the movie has begun. A silly affectation, at best. But if you do watch it, you will certainly enjoy the many fine performances. I especially got a kick out of Jennifer Jason Leigh.” 3 stars

“Pure Trash! Filthy, nasty language-none of it necessary. I don’t believe people talked liked this during this time period. Overuse of the “n” word. Loads of blood and gore which was totally unnecessary as well. It is like the producer is trying to cover up how awful the story is by splashing blood, guts, and gore around. Very slow moving and it looks like the actors/actress cannot deliver timely lines. You are led to believe it is a movie about the Civil War but it turns out to be about a gang out west. Writer definitely wants to deliver a huge negative bias on Southerners by building a belief that these are post-Confederate soldiers gone wild, but in the middle of the film you learn they are an unlawful gang in the West. He leads the viewer to believe the woman had ties to the Confederacy but it turns out she is the sister to the lead gang member who has come to save her from hanging. I was thoroughly insulted and would not recommend this movie to anyone. ” 1 star

“Crossing a Whodunit with a Western, ‘The Hateful Eight’ is full of completely over-the-top violence and profane language, so much so that it is almost laughable – it’s undoubtedly a Tarantino film. With a running time approaching 3 hrs, there are more than a few lulls and an absurd amount of (unnecessary) dialogue, but with its beautiful cinematography and rising tension, there’s always something going on and it’s never truly boring. The biggest problem here is that it’s in need of some serious editing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining providing you’re not put off by Tarantino’s ridiculous style.” 3 1/2 stars

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Hail, Caesar!

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Four-time Oscar (R)-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo) write and direct Hail, Caesar!, an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

What people are saying:

“The Coen brothers transcend genre, from noir to thriller to dark comedy, they can nail it. But I particularly enjoy their takes on farce (especially when George Clooney is involved). This movie is not perfect, but I laughed out loud throughout, particularly when everyone embraced the silliness of the story as part of the whole point. It may not be the Coen brothers’ best ever, but it doesn’t have to be to be enjoyable.” 3 1/2 stars

“Hail, Caesar! is great fun. Lively jabs at organized religion, Hollywood and the power structure. The cast must have had a blast during filming. Anyone who is interested in Hollywood in the 50″s blacklist era should enjoy. ” 4 stars

“A silly, jumbled, yet consistently entertaining chapter in the Coen Brother’s directorial saga, “Hail, Caesar!” commends the golden age of Hollywood with a star studded cast and an eye for historical detail. ” 3 1/2 stars

“If you love montages of old films(specifically from the 50’s) -this is perfect. Between Ethel Merman and Will Rodgers, to the creation of a scene of Ten Commandments. It is funny. I agree that it can be hard to follow at times. But, putting political satire in a movie is not new. Still, the scene with the Soviet submarine is hysterical!!!” 4 stars

“Very intelligent film. The filmakers deal honestly with many subjects. If you are looking for the typical crass Coen Brothers film, this one falls short. It still is iconoclastic but the icons it looks at are those things that are worshiped by a typically disconnected 21st Century intellectual, Take a look and see which icons you would have preferred the filmmakers to have left alone.” 5 stars

The Book of Life

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A museum chaperone named Mary Beth takes a group of children on a tour of Mexican folk myths and legends. She tells them the story of the Mexican town of San Angel from the Book of Life, which holds every story in the world.

The spirits La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, and Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, set a wager at San Angel’s Day of the Dead festival after seeing two boys, Manolo and Joaquín, competing over a girl named María. La Muerte bets that Manolo will marry María, while Xibalba bets on Joaquín. If La Muerte wins, Xibalba can no longer interfere in mortal affairs, but if Xibalba wins, he and La Muerte switch realms. However, Xibalba cheats by giving Joaquin his Medal of Everlasting Life, which grants the wearer invincibility. María frees a herd of pigs from being slaughtered, angering her father, who sends her away to a boarding school in Spain. While saying their goodbyes, Manolo gives her a baby pig from earlier and she gives him a guitar which is engraved with “Always play from the heart”.[6]

Years pass and Manolo’s musician dreams are suppressed by his father Carlos, who trains him to become a bullfighter like the rest of their family, while Joaquín becomes the revered town hero with the Medal’s aid. On the day of María’s return, a celebration is held culminating in Manolo’s first bullfight. Manolo defeats the bull but refuses to kill it, disappointing Carlos and the crowd but impressing María. That night, María is pressured by her father to marry Joaquín so that he will stay and protect San Angel from the bandit Chakal, though she is conflicted by her feelings for Manolo. María and Manolo meet that night to profess their love for each other, but they are interrupted when a snake, sent by Xibalba, bites María once and seemingly kills her. Despondent, banished from the town by Maria’s father and blamed for her death, Manolo is conned by Xibalba into being sent to the afterlife: the snake bites him twice, killing him.

Manolo arrives in the Land of the Remembered where he reunites with his mother Carmen and his illustrious deceased family members. They travel to La Muerte’s castle to seek María, but only find Xibalba, who explains the bet to an outraged Manolo and that the snake put María in a coma, but killed him. When María awakens, she learns of Manolo’s death and solemnly accepts Joaquín’s proposal. Manolo, Carmen, and Luis, Manolo’s grandfather, travel to the Cave of Souls to reach La Muerte. They meet the amiable Candle Maker, who oversees the lives of everybody in the living world. After seeing that Manolo’s story in the Book of Life is blank (due to Xibalba’s meddling) and can be rewritten by Manolo’s own actions, the Candle Maker takes them to the Land of the Forgotten. Manolo exposes the cheating to La Muerte, who furiously summons Xibalba. Another deal is negotiated; Manolo’s life will be returned if he completes a challenge Xibalba sets him, but if he fails, Xibalba will rule both lands and Manolo will be forgotten. Xibalba, believing Manolo’s fear is bulls, manifests every bull the Sanchez family ever fought which combine to become one giant one for Manolo to defeat.

In the living world, Chakal, who previously owned the Medal, leads his army to San Angel to find it. Chakal kills Carlos, who joins the deceased to watch Manolo fight. Manolo, realizing his fear is actually being himself, again refuses to deliver the finishing blow, instead singing an apology to the grudge-filled spirit asking it to forgive his family’s transgressions, which it does by peacefully dissolving away. Impressed, the deities grant Manolo his life back and send him and his family’s spirits to the living world to defeat Chakal. Manolo is almost killed again when Chakal blows them both up but is saved by the Medal, which Joaquín gives him at the last second. Joaquín returns it to Xibalba and resolves to be a hero of his own accord, while Manolo and María wed happily as La Muerte and Xibalba reconcile.

The story ends, and as the children leave the museum, Mary Beth and a security guard from earlier reveal themselves as La Muerte and Xibalba.

REVIEW:

As we inch closer and closer to what is surely to be called “Indecision 2016”, a small fact keeps being brought up. The population of the United States is becoming more and more ethnic, in particular the Hispanic demographic. So, while China may be slowly taking over every blockbuster, isn’t it time to at least acknowledge the Hispanic viewers. I believe this is what Guillermo del Toro had in mind with The Book of Life. Does this experiment work, though?

What is this about?

Zoe Saldana, Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin lend their voices to this splashy animated fable that weaves a Romeo-and-Juliet story against the backdrop of the Mexican customs surrounding the Day of the Dead.

What did I like?

Colors. Animated films are known for being fairly colorful and, depending on the subject matter, some can have more colors than others. Anyone that has seen a Guillermo del Toro film knows he has a vivid and wild imagination. His live action movies haven’t really lent themselves to wondrous baths of color, though. I argue that some of them *COUGH* Pacific Rim *COUGH* could have done with a little more, just so the audience could decipher who’s who. This world del Toro has created, though is full of vibrant colors. The colors at first seem a bit much, but it is the Land of the Remembered. A place that is a non-stop fiesta, of sorts.

Style. No one has created an alternative to CG yet and traditional hand drawn animation hasn’t made a resurgence just yet, so someone had to do something new with this medium, rather than the traditional character designs that have become so cookie cutter these days. The Boxtrolls did a good job with changing “the norm” (even if it was stop-motion), but that was nothing compared the wooden, marionette type style given to these characters. It was almost as if this was meant to be a stop motion film, but rather than take the millions of hours to create and animate, they kept the look and design and just entered it into the computer. The end result is something never seen before, giving this film a uniqueness all on its own.

Old is new again. How many times have we seen Romeo & Juliet in some fashion or another on film? More than we all care to count, I’m sure. A few tweaks here and there, such as not having two feuding families, and this becomes a fresh take. Speaking of fresh takes, the music selections in this, all given a slightly Mexican/Spanish flair, also become new and fresh. After listening to the version of “Creep” by Radiohead, I had to go download it and listen to the original again.

What didn’t I like?

Charming potato. Like most kids, I grew up watching Sesame Street. One of the segments that still resonates with me, or at least the song does, is where they would have a group of things and something just wouldn’t fit. For example, there would be a lion, tiger, jaguar, and then a toucan. Obviously, the toucan is not like the others, because it isn’t a jungle cat. That same principle applies here. The majority of the cast is Hispanic, so it is strange that in a lead role Channing Tatum is cast. Nothing against the guy, it just seemed odd to me as he’s not exactly known as a voice actor. My theory is that he was cast to be a big name draw because his voice doesn’t really fit with his character and those around him, but at least he didn’t try to force an accent.

You bet your life. Basically, this film boils down to these two guys fighting over this girl for the fate of the world, more or less. Gotta love how immortal deities take human lives and use them as part of their entertainment. I guess on the plus side, they didn’t know the fate of their world rested in their little love triangle. Imagine how that would’ve shaken things up, for better or worse!

Good day, to you, sir. There was a time when Ice Cube was one of the living embodiments of the “angry black male”. Now he does family friendly movies and comedies. That’s what has made him such a bankable star and empire, though. His ability to do such a big 180, so I’m no jumping on his case about that. What I do have to take issue with is that like Channing Tatum, I don’t feel his voice fit his character. That candle guy sounded a bit goofier in my head like King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph or perhaps more of a booming voice like Zeus in Hercules. Also, can we please get Cube to stop shoe horning in “It was a good day” into what is becoming every film he’s in. Yes, it was a big hit for him back in the day, but know he’s sullying the legacy of it for a quick buck! It has to stop!!!

A brilliant, creative mind was at work making The Book of Life come to, um….life. Memorable characters, a great story, some nice action…it has it all. The villainy is a bit weak, though, but I won’t discuss that as it spoils the film. These are the kind of films Hollywood needs to be making, not remakes and reboots of beloved properties. Go out and find some original source material or, and I know this is asking too much, have an original idea! Sorry, I went off on a tangent there. Do I recommend this film? Yes, very much so! Fun for the whole family!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Lego Movie

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Lego universe, the wizard Vitruvius attempts to protect a superweapon called the “Kragle” from the evil Lord Business. He fails to do so, but prophesies that a person called “the Special” will find the Piece of Resistance capable of stopping the Kragle.

Eight and a half years later, a construction worker named Emmet Brickowski comes across a woman named Wyldstyle, who searches for something after hours at Emmet’s construction site. When he investigates, Emmet falls into a hole and finds the Piece of Resistance. Compelled to touch it, Emmet experiences vivid visions and passes out. He awakens with the Piece of Resistance attached to his back in the custody of Bad Cop, Business’ lieutenant. There, Emmet learns of Business’ plans to freeze the world with the Kragle, a tube of Krazy Glue with the label partially rubbed out. Wyldstyle rescues Emmet, believing him to be the Special, and takes him to meet Vitruvius. Emmet learns that she and the wizard are Master Builders—people capable of building anything they need without instruction manuals—who oppose Business’ attempts to suppress their creativity. Though disappointed to find Emmet is not a Master Builder, Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are convinced of his potential when he recalls visions of a humanoid deity called “the Man Upstairs”.

Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Vitruvius evade Bad Cop’s forces with the aid of Batman. They attend a council of Master Builders, who are unimpressed with Emmet and refuse to fight Business. Bad Cop’s forces attack and capture everyone except for Emmet and a few others. Emmet devises a team plan to infiltrate Business’ headquarters and disarm the Kragle. However, he and his allies are captured and imprisoned, and Vitruvius is killed by Lord Business, who sets his headquarters to self-destruct and leaves everyone to die. Vitruvius reveals he made up the prophecy as he dies, but soon reappears to Emmet as a ghost and tells him it is his self-belief that makes him the Special. Strapped to the self-destruct mechanism’s battery, Emmet flings himself off the edge of the universe and saves his friends. Inspired by Emmet’s sacrifice, Wyldstyle rallies the Lego people across the universe to use whatever creativity they have to build machines and weapons to fight Business’ forces.

Emmet finds himself in the real world, where the events of the story are being played out in a basement by a boy, Finn, on his father’s Lego set. The father—revealed as “the Man Upstairs”—chastises his son for ruining the set by creating hodgepodges of different playsets, and proceeds to permanently glue his perceived perfect creations together. Realizing the danger his friends are in, Emmet wills himself to move and gains Finn’s attention. Finn returns Emmet and the Piece of Resistance to the set, where Emmet now possesses the powers of a Master Builder and confronts Business. Meanwhile, Finn’s father looks at his son’s creations and realizes that Finn had based the villainous Business on him. Through a speech Emmet gives Business, Finn tells his father that he is special and has the power to change everything. Finn’s father reconciles with his son, which plays out as Business having a change of heart, capping the Kragle with the Piece of Resistance, and ungluing his victims with mineral spirits. As a result of the father allowing Finn’s younger sister to join them in playing with his Lego sets, aliens from the planet Duplo beam down and announce their plans to destroy everyone.

REVIEW:

Like most kids, especially boys, I grew up playing with Legos. I think when I finally stopped playing with them, my parents and sister’s feet were the happiest since they could finally stop stepping on them. Back then, who would have ever thought that those little toys would become a feature length motion-picture that took the box office by surprise, even earning an Oscar nod (more on that later)? I’ve been poked, prodded, coerced, and every other adjective you can possibly imagine to check this out, so let’s see what I thought about it, shall we?

What is this about?

After being mistaken for the LEGO Master Builder, ordinary mini-guy Emmet is swept up in an urgent quest to thwart the evil plans of Lord Business. Emmet’s adventures include daunting challenges and hilarious missteps in this computer-animated epic.

What did I like?

Boy, what an imagination. Watching this film, two things are sure to pop in your head. First, to create all these worlds, inventions, and effects out of Legos is impressive, even going so far as using Legos for water! More importantly, though, is the second thing that may pop in your brain. This plot seems a bit juvenile in its executions. Almost as if it were being done by a little boy playing with Legos, but we find out in the end that is exactly what it is. These filmmakers made the masterful decision of bringing a child’s imagination to the big screen, and with tremendous results!

Animation. The animation in this flick is far above what it has any right to be. I say that because there are a few Lego brand animated series on television and DVD right now and they are utter crap, but to turn around and see this and you have to be taken aback. This animation is so good that at times you totally forget you’re watching Legos! Hell, I’ll go one further and say that I wished I would’ve seen this in theaters…in 3D no less (and you know that’s saying something, coming from me!!!)

Nothing is safe. These days Lego playsets can be anything from the Batcave, to the Wild West, to Mordor, to NY City, and all points between and beyond. This film takes note of that and uses it to its advantage. We get scenes with many of the most popular sets, as well as some satirical skewering of pretty much any and everyone. Here’s the thing, though. The pop culture references made throughout the film are just enough to whet your whistle, as opposed to the complete drowning that happens in films like the Shrek franchise.

What didn’t I like?

Dark moment. This is a fun movie, full of light-hearted innocence and childlike imagination, but there is one scene that is as dark as you can get. The character Lord Business has kidnapped the parents of his security chief, Bad Cop, and is about to Kragle them, but just as he is about to he changes his mind, holds Bad Cop down, erases the Good Cop side of him, and tells Bad Cop to Kragle his own parents! I remind you this is a film aimed at kids!

Live action. For all the great animation and innovation this film shows, they decide to have an extended live-action segment at the end. I can understand having a short scene showing a kid playing with Legos. That makes sense, but this went on into some father/son issues that I felt was just unnecessary. No one is watching this film to see a father and son mend fences. We want to see Lego stuffs!

Green Lantern. One of my favorite DC superheroes is Green Lantern, so I may be a little biased in saying this, but it has to be said. WTF did they do to Green Lantern in this film?!? First off, Jonah Hill as GL? What kind of bass acwards casting is that? Second, why was he so needy? I didn’t get it? When has Green Lantern ever been looked at as needy and such? If anything, this should have been Aquaman (although if you play the game Injustice: Gods Among Us you’ll see Aquaman is no joke), Cyborg, or maybe Robin/Nightwing in some mini-plot involving Batman leaving him. I know some out there probably enjoyed this, but I was not one of them.

Who would have expected that something like The Lego Movie would be such an enjoyable film, let alone be as successful as it turned out to be? I know I didn’t, but after watching this tonight, I was pleasantly surprised. All the praise and hype that has been hoisted on this picture is well-deserved. I do wonder what it would have been like had they used stop-motion Legos as opposed to CGI, but that’s a personal preference. So, what did I think of this film? Well, there is a song in the film that will be stuck in your head once you hear it and sums up everything perfectly, “Everything is Awesome.”

5 out of 5 stars

White House Down

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a U.S. Capitol Police officer assigned to Speaker of the House Eli Raphelson (Richard Jenkins) after Cale saved Raphelson’s nephew’s life during a tour in Afghanistan. Cale is struggling to develop a better relationship with his daughter Emily (Joey King), who has a strong enthusiasm for politics. He hopes to impress her by getting a job with the Secret Service, but the interview is conducted by Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a former college acquaintance of his who believes that he is unqualified due to a lack of respect for authority. After lying to Emily about the outcome of the interview, she and Cale join a tour of the White House. At the same time, U.S. President James Sawyer (Jamie Foxx) proposes a controversial peace treaty between allied countries to remove military forces from the Middle East.

Meanwhile, a man disguised as a janitor detonates a bomb at the center of the United States Capitol, destroying the building’s dome. Raphelson – who was in the Capitol but is uninjured – and Finnerty are taken to a secure command center underneath the Pentagon while Vice President Alvin Hammond (Michael Murphy) is taken aboard Air Force One. The White House is put on lockdown separating Cale from Emily (who had left the tour group to use the restroom). Meanwhile, mercenaries led by Emil Stenz (Jason Clarke) start killing off most of the Secret Service and take the tour group hostage, but Cale manages to take a gun from a mercenary named Carl Killick (Kevin Rankin) and escapes to go and find his daughter. Following protocol, retiring Head of the Presidential Detail Martin Walker (James Woods) escorts President Sawyer and his detail to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. Once Sawyer gains access, Walker kills everyone else in Sawyer’s detail, revealing himself to be the leader of the attack; he wants revenge for the death of his son who was killed during a botched black ops mission. Cale, who fails to find Emily, kills a mercenary and takes his gun and radio. Using the radio, Cale locates and rescues the President.

Walker and Stenz bring in Skip Tyler (Jimmi Simpson) to hack into the defense system, but they still require Sawyer to activate the nuclear football. Emily, while hiding, records a video of the mercenaries and uploads it to YouTube before eventually being captured by Killick. Walker demands $400 million from the Federal Reserve as ransom for the hostages. Cale and Sawyer manage to get in contact with the Pentagon, and Finnerty tells Cale to get Sawyer out through a series of secret underground tunnels. Finnerty then uses Emily’s video to discover the mercenaries’ identities, discovering that they used to work for various government agencies and radical political groups. They are informed that Stenz, a former Special Forces operative, was disavowed and burned on mission, leading to his capture by the Taliban. They also discover that Walker has terminal cancer, suggesting his involvement to be a suicide mission and that the attack is not for ransom. Cale and Sawyer find the tunnel gate rigged with an explosive and are forced to escape in a presidential limousine. After a car chase/shootout with Stenz on the White House lawn, Cale and Sawyer are flipped into the White House pool after Cale gets distracted by the sight of Killick holding Emily at gunpoint. A gunfight erupts which results in an explosion that leaves Sawyer and Cale presumed dead. Hammond is then sworn in as President.

When Cale and Sawyer reveal they are still alive, they learn Hammond has approved an aerial incursion by Delta Force to take back the White House. Knowing the mercenaries have Javelin surface-to-air missiles, Cale tries but fails to stop the mercenaries from shooting down the helicopters. Cale gets into a fight with Stenz and ends up dropping his White House passes for himself and Emily while escaping. Having already learned of Emily from the video, Stenz, knowing that she is Cale’s daughter, takes her to Walker in the Oval Office. Meanwhile, Tyler finishes the upload to NORAD and launches a missile at Air Force One, killing everyone on board, including Hammond. Raphelson is then sworn in as President and, in a last ditch effort to end the crisis, orders an air strike on the White House. Finnerty informs Cale of Raphelson’s decision.

Walker tells Cale over the White House intercom to surrender Sawyer or he will kill Emily. Sawyer ultimately surrenders himself to save Emily, knowing Cale could still save them both if he was free. Holding the pair in the Oval Office, Walker reveals to Sawyer that his motive for the attack was to convey a message of American power. Because of Sawyer’s dislike of military force, as well as backing out of the mission that killed his son, Walker had grown to believe Sawyer was too weak to be President; by launching a nuclear attack on Iran, Walker had hoped to regain international respect for America and avenge his own personal loss. He asks for Sawyer to activate the nuclear football. Sawyer refuses, and tries to convince Walker that his son did not die in vain, and that the peace treaty was a form of victory. When Walker threatens to kill Emily again, the alarms and sprinklers are activated by Cale setting fire to the Lincoln Bedroom. In the chaos, Tyler tries to escape but encounters the tunnel gate bomb. When he tries to deactivate it, it detonates instead, killing him. Killick finds Cale and tries to kill him, but is ambushed by Donnie Smith, the White House tour guide (Nicolas Wright), who bludgeons Killick to death with a clock. After freeing the hostages and entrusting Donnie to get them out safely, Cale battles Stenz in a fistfight which spills into the press conference room. The fight ends when Cale ultimately kills Stenz with a grenade belt. Using the explosion to catch him off guard, Sawyer attacks a distracted Walker, but Walker gains the upper hand and forces Sawyer to activate the football before apparently shooting him dead. Using updated launch codes from an anonymous source, Walker targets various cities in Iran, but before he can initiate the launch, Cale smashes through the wall of the Oval Office with a presidential SUV, and kills Walker with the SUV’s minigun. Cale warns Emily of the air strike, and she takes a presidential flag and waves it on the front lawn, prompting the pilots to call off the attack. Meanwhile, Sawyer reveals himself to be alive since the bullet that hit him hit a pocket watch his wife (Garcelle Beauvais) had given him. Finnerty calls them to reveal that the mercenaries were not hired by Walker, and that there is another person behind the attack. Cale realizes who it is and asks Sawyer for his help in exposing the person.

Later, Finnerty arrives at the White House with Raphelson. When Cale tells them Sawyer was killed, Raphelson then orders troops to be placed back into the Middle East, which would go against Sawyer’s peace treaty. Cale then reveals Raphelson had conspired with Walker to orchestrate the attack because of Raphelson’s opposition to Sawyer’s treaty and then proves it by having Finnerty call the call-back number on Walker’s pager, which was the source of the updated launch codes. Sawyer arrives and has Raphelson taken into custody, treating his taking of the Presidency as a coup d’état. Sawyer then officially offers Cale a job in the Secret Service and takes him and Emily on an aerial tour of Washington, D.C. on his way to the hospital. Realizing an increased need for peace due to the days events, Russia, Iran, China, and other Middle Eastern and Asian countries agree to sign Sawyer’s peace treaty.

REVIEW:

The White House just can’t seem to catch a break this year. White House Down is the second film that I’ve seen involving a plot to take over/destroy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. There is a debate about which film is better, this or Olympus has Fallen, which I will weigh in on a bit later, but first, let’s get on to the review, shall we?

What is this about?

When a paramilitary group engineers a violent takeover of the White House, the president must try to hide from the attackers until he can be rescued. Caught up in the chaos, Secret Service agent John Cale ends up becoming his sole protection.

What did I like?

Commentary. Say what you will, regardless of your political beliefs/opinions,  but you can’t help but notice how Jamie Foxx is playing the president in a manner similar to Obama. I’m not up on foreign policies and whatnot, but I believe there are similarities there, as well. I found this all to be some sort of commentary on what this filmmaker thinks of the political system that is in place right now, or it could just be coincidence/done for comedic effect.

Charming potato.  I can’t remember what the first film I saw Channing Tatum in was. I think it might have been She’s the Man, but I could be wrong. Since those days, his star has been steadily rising and his acting skills have been improving. He doesn’t have that urban white boy vibe anymore, though he does slip into it now and then. This is one of his most mature roles as he plays a father who just wants to do right by his daughter and do everything he can to keep her safe, the president just happens to be in the way, for lack of a better term.

Action and chemistry. Believe it or not, the chemistry between Foxx and Tatum is pretty good, especially for two guys that are from different walks of life. They come together in the most unfortunate of circumstances and form a pretty close bond that seems to go on and be a long-standing relationship. For the lead characters, this is a must. On another note, the action in this film is what you would expect when one man is trying to protect the White House and save his daughter, badass! Nothing more needs be said about it than that.

What didn’t I like?

Motives. So, the head of the President’s detail masterminds a plot, but the thing is we’re not really sure what his plot is. Does he want to destroy the White House? Kill the president? Start World War III? Also, what are his motives? Apparently, is has something to do with his son getting killed in the Iraq war, but it is never implicitly said what it is that is driving him to do this. Even the guy that is pulling his strings doesn’t seem to have a clear motive, other than greed.

Mercenaries. This group of mercenaries is about as ragtag as they come. With the exception of the lead guy, they seem to be used more for comic relief than anything else. I don’t have a problem with this at all, but I do have an issue with the “forgotten” mercenary, who was the computer hacker. Sure, the guys with the guns are important and all, but this guy literally was locked in a room and could destroy the world with the stroke of a button, if he so chose to, and yet they didn’t bother him at all. I think he may have even got away in the end, or at least isn’t found out by Tatum.

Reunited. I was glad to see that Jamie Foxx was reunited (and married) Garcelle Beauvais, his costar from The Jamie Foxx Show. For many seasons on the show, he would be rejected  by her. However, it made no sense to me that if her husband’s life was in danger, she wasn’t calling 24-7 finding out what was going on or coming up to the bunker to see get some info. What kind of wife is she?!?

With the two White House under siege films that were released this year, White House Down was the weaker of the two. Having said that, it did have the better story than Olympus has Fallen, but I felt the latter had the better action and was more of an enjoyable film. If you’re in the mood for this type of film, though, you can’t really go wrong with either. Focusing on this one, though, nothing makes this film memorable. I wasn’t expecting this film to blow me away, but I did think that something would capture my imagination, and that just didn’t happen. Still, I would recommend this, as action films that are worth seeing are few and far between. Give it a shot sometime!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The Joes are framed for stealing nuclear warheads from Pakistan by Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) who is impersonating the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce). The entire team is eliminated in a military strike, with Duke (Channing Tatum) as one of the casualties. Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) are the only survivors.

Meanwhile, Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) and ex-Joe Firefly (Ray Stevenson) rescue Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) from a penitentiary in Germany. Storm Shadow is injured during the escape, and retreats to a temple in the Himalayas to recover. Upon learning that he is alive, the Blind Master (RZA), leader of the Arashikage Clan, sends Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and his apprentice Jinx (Elodie Yung), Storm Shadow’s cousin, to capture Storm Shadow so he can answer for the murder of his uncle, the Hard Master.

Roadblock, Flint, and Lady Jaye return to the United States where they set up a base of operations in a rundown gym. After Zartan announces that Cobra will replace the Joes as America’s main protective unit, Lady Jaye deduces that someone is impersonating the President, and Roadblock leads them to General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis), who provides them with weapons and helps them infiltrate a fundraising event that the President will be attending. Lady Jaye steals a sample of the President’s DNA and confirms that he is Zartan. They escape after a brief confrontation with Firefly and Zandar (Matt Gerald), the head of the Presidential Detail and a member of Cobra.

Snake Eyes and Jinx locate and capture Storm Shadow after a battle with ninjas and take him back to Japan, where Storm Shadow reveals that Zartan murdered the Hard Master and he joined Cobra to avenge his uncle. Storm Shadow then accompanies Snake Eyes and Jinx as they join the Joes’ efforts to stop Cobra.

Zartan invites the world leaders to a summit, where he blackmails them into disabling their nuclear arsenals, and reveals that he has created Project Zeus: seven orbital kinetic bombardment weapons of mass destruction at his command. He destroys London to prove his superiority, and threatens to destroy other capitals if the countries don’t submit to Cobra. However, Storm Shadow betrays Cobra Commander and kills Zartan, revealing Cobra’s deception to the world leaders. While Snake Eyes, Jinx, and Flint fight Cobra’s soldiers, Cobra Commander activates the remaining six weapons and instructs Firefly to protect the launch device. Firefly is killed in combat with Roadblock, who deactivates and destroys the orbital weapons. Meanwhile, Colton and Lady Jaye rescue the President.

Cobra Commander escapes during the battle and Storm Shadow disappears after avenging his uncle. The real President addresses the nation at a ceremony where Roadblock, Jaye, Flint, Jinx, and Snake Eyes are commemorated as heroes. Colton thanks each of them, and presents Roadblock with the gun of General Patton, for when he finally finds Cobra Commander. Roadblock proudly raises the gun in the air and lets out one shot.

REVIEW:

I would be willing to wager than if you were a boy growing up in the 80s, then you watched Transformers, G.I. Joe, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (Thundercats came along later). When I heard they were continuing the G.I. Joe franchise with G.I. Joe: Retaliation, I couldn’t help but think and hope that it would be a love letter to the classic cartoon.

What is this about?

This action-packed sequel to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra finds the elite G.I. Joe assault team framed for treason by the global mercenary Zartan. Forced into hiding, the surviving warriors form a desperate plan to defeat Zartan’s combined forces.

What did I like?

Knowing is half the battle. One of the things that bothered me about G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra was how they chose the most obscure, if not made up Joes to make up the team, with the exception of Hawk,Snake Eyes, Scarlett, and Cover Girl. This time around we get three of the most popular Joes. I guess when they sat down to write this, they figured the audience was missing those familiar characters.

Continuation. Although most of this film is meant to be a reboot, of sorts, there is very little mention of the previous flick. As a matter of fact, the only subject that connects the two is Zartan and his infiltrating and impersonating the President. Yes, there is a short little rundown at the beginning, sort of like a ” last time on…”, but that doesn’t really count, now does it?

The Rock. The past couple of years,Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has returned to the WWE on a part-time basis. Getting in shape again for that has done wonders for his physique, because I don’t recall him ever looking so big and buff. Rock has come a long way since we first saw him in a film, because now he is the headliner and star of at least 4 major motion pictures this year. As Roadblock, he kicks ass and takes names. Not exactly, the lovable, rhyming chef-to-be we know from the cartoon, but some of the characteristics are there, and he does have the look.

What didn’t I like?

Herky jerky. For the first 15-30 minutes of the film, it seems a bit herky jerky. What I mean is that it doesn’t really seem to have any focus until after a major event happens. After that, there are suddenly a couple of subplots. The first involves Snake Eyes, which I will touch on later, and the other has some random guy holding Cobra Commander and Destro hostage. If he would have been some government/military official, it might not have been so weird, but this was just some random dude. I just didn’t get why they chose to do that, and then never follow-up or mention it for the rest of the film.

Roadblock. I don’t really have much issue with The Rock’s portrayal of Roadblock, but I do take issue with how he was written, in comparison to the character. I know that no one talks in rhyme, but it would have bene nice to at least have a nod to his cartoon roots by having him slip into a rhyme now and then. Maybe even have someone mention it, similar to the way it was done in Underdog. Also, the chef part of his persona was mentioned once. From what I recall, this is a major part of his character, and yet they felt the need to just gloss over it.

Mastermind. Cobra Commander wasn’t anywhere near as major a player as he should have been. This is the leader of Cobra, after all, and what does he do? Shows up here and there barking orders. Not much different, in actuality, from his portrayal in the cartoon, but for some reason, I felt that this Cobra Commander could have done more.

Trailer. Arguably the best scene in the film involves Snake Eyes’ trek to Tibet to retrieve Storm Shadow. All of the ninjas flying around the mountains. It is truly awesome! Unfortunately, the scene’s greatness was diluted by the face that the most recent trailer showed it to us entirely. This seems to be the thing to do nowadays and I don’t like it. If you’re going to show the scene, then how about a clip here and there. Save the best for the movie!

Delay. This was supposed to have been released back in the summer, but was pushed back to convert it to 3D. There is also a rumor that they wanted to add more Channing Tatum scenes since he has become a much bigger star than he was when the first film was released. Whatever the reason, I can’t say that either was worth it. However, given the financial success this film seems to be on its way to be perhaps they should have just released it as is at this new date, rather than forcing 3D (which isn’t worth it, btw) or more Channing Tatum scenes on us.

As a G.I. Joe fan from back in the day, I was disappointed in how much this wasn’t like what I was expecting, However, as a movie, G.I. Joe: Retaliation does deliver an action packed adventure that is sure to entertain audiences worldwide. Is this the best film like this? No, but it could be worse. Check it out!

3 4/5 out of 5 stars

21 Jump Street

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) are former classmates who meet again at police academy. Schmidt, obsessed with Eminem was a chubby nerd while Jenko was a underachieving jock. They end up becoming best friends at the academy as they help with each others’ weaknesses, with Schmidt helping Jenko study and Jenko motivating Schmidt through physical activity. They graduate together as partners, but are assigned to park patrol. They catch a break when they spot a group of One Percenters and arrest their leader Domingo (DeRay Davis). However, the department is forced to release him as Jenko forgot the wording of the Miranda rights. The two are reassigned to a revived specialty division on 21 Jump Street.

They are introduced to Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), who explains the division specializes in infiltrating high schools and that they were chosen because of their youthful appearances. Schmidt and Jenko are assigned to stop a new synthetic drug from spreading to other schools by finding the supplier. They go undercover as brothers, living at Schmidt’s parents’ house. Jenko accidentally switches their identities and they get each others’ classes. They learn the lead dealer of the drug is the popular Eric (Dave Franco), but he is not the supplier.

They go to the dealing room where Eric forces them to take the drug there and not wait. They attempt to regurgitate it but are unsuccessful, and they undergo the phases of the drug while talking to their P.E. teacher, Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle), and also while running track and during band practice. The mistakes that happen at the track meet cause Eric to take a liking to Schmidt.

Schmidt manages to fit in with the popular kids and takes a romantic interest in Eric’s friend Molly (Brie Larson), while Jenko becomes friends with the nerds in his AP Chemistry class while his teacher Ms. Griggs (Ellie Kemper) takes a sexual interest in him. Jenko discovers that his new friends secretly tap into other people’s cell phones to listen into their conversations. Schmidt decides to throw a party at his house to gain Eric’s complete trust and Jenko takes the opportunity to tap into Eric’s phone. Despite Captain Dickson ordering them not to serve alcohol and drugs to minors, they nevertheless buy alcohol and steal confiscated marijuana. When Eric arrives with Molly and his other friends, Jenko steals Eric’s phone for his friends to tap into while Schmidt fights off a rival of Eric’s.

Schmidt pretends to sell the drug for Eric but is actually giving it to Captain Dickson to be confiscated. While at Eric’s house, Schmidt asks Molly out to prom while Jenko listens through Eric’s phone. He also insults Jenko to Eric with Jenko listening. Schmidt and Jenko learn that Eric is making a deal soon. When Jenko spots Eric leaving school, he takes Schmidt to follow him. They see that Eric is dealing with the One Percenters and they follow them, but are forced to run away when Domingo spots them. Back at school, Jenko accuses Schmidt of his earlier insults, possibly ruining the case, and getting in too deep, but Schmidt brushes him off. Jenko and Schmidt get into a fight that results in them getting expelled and fired from Jump Street.

Later that night, both are confronted by Eric and his friends, who want to bring them on as security after hearing about what happened with the One Percenters. He tells them about a deal happening during prom where they get to meet the supplier. At prom, they are surprised to see that the supplier is Mr. Walters. The One Percenters arrive for the deal, and Domingo recognizes Schmidt and Jenko as police officers, and tells two of his men to kill them. However, the two men reveal themselves as DEA Agents Tom Hanson (Johnny Depp) and Doug Penhall (Peter DeLuise), who were a part of the Jump Street program when it began. Hanson casually talks to Schmidt and Jenko during the standoff which gives Domingo the opportunity to kill Hanson and Penhall. A gunfight ensues among Schmidt and Jenko, Mr. Walters, and the One Percenters. Mr. Walters and Eric escape in a limo with Molly as a hostage, with the One Percenters in pursuit of them in another limo. Schmidt and Jenko pursue all of them in another limo where Jenko creates a homemade chemical bomb from his knowledge in AP Chemistry to kill the One Percenters. They then confront Mr. Walters, who shoots at Schmidt. Jenko jumps in front of Schmidt, saving his life and getting shot in the arm and his chest, which was protected by a bullet-proof vest, in the process. In response, Schmidt shoots Mr. Walters in the groin, severing his penis. The duo successfully arrest him and Eric and make amends with each other. Schmidt makes amends with Molly and the two share a kiss. They are rehired into Jump Street where Dickson gives them a new assignment in a college setting, to Schmidt’s excitement but to Jenko’s dismay.

REVIEW:

The original 21 Jump Street was a crime drama aimed more towards teens. At the time it was on, I either didn’t have Fox, or just didn’t care about it. Talking to many of my friends from the time it was on, the feeling is mutual. With that said, the show did gain a cult following and introduced to the acting skills of a young man named Johnny Depp.

What is this about?

In high school, Schmidt was one of the biggest nerds, while Jenko was the #1 jock who picked on everyone. A few years later, they find themselves enrolling in the police academy together, becoming best friends and, with each other’s help, passing the tests and becoming partners. Their first assignment is bike patrol in the park. On a routine patrol, they see some One Percenter’s doing a drug deal and give chase. Most get away, but their leader is caught. It seems like this would be a good thing, but Jenko forgot to read him his Miranda Rights, so he had to be let go. A very unhappy commanding officer sends the two down to Jump Street, where they are to begin an undercover assignment that sends them to high school to uncover a new and potentially dangerous drug and who is supplying it. Will they find the drug and the supplier? Will they revert back to the dynamic they had when they were in high school the first time? Will the captain’s head explode from being such and angry black man?

What did I like?

Tone. The original series was a bit serious from what I hear. Some people may scoff at the change to a more comedic tone, but since this isn’t a verbatim remake of the original and we have different characters all over the place, it works for me.

Self-awareness. The film addresses many things in films that the audience is thinking. For instance, early on, it says something about the writers not having any ideas on their own, so they just remake old things. Later on, there is a scene during the freeway chase scene where a truck full of some kind of gas has a slight accident, but doesn’t explode, as we see in so many films.

Chemistry. Just like in real life, partners have to have chemistry. If you’re going to pair up an odd couple like Hill and Tatum, then they better work well together, and they do. Who would have thought that Channing Tatum had some comedy chops. I have to tip my hat to this guy, where many stars who can’t act are assuming people are just criticizing them or being haters, Tatum has taken the time to hone his craft and the improvements are showing.

What didn’t I like?

Franco II. This kid, Dave Franco, has rubbed me the wrong way ever since I first saw him on the last season on Scrubs. His older brother, James, has his moments, but at least he has the chops to back it up. This guy just grates on my everlasting nerves, and this time it can’t be blamed on the characters since he’s supposed to be likable.

Hot for teacher. The AP Chemistry teacher obviously has some kind of horny, lustful, attraction towards Jenko. It actually is a bit passive-agressive. All that is well and good, but here’s the thing. For all the emphasis they put on Schmidt and Molly, it seemed they could have done some exploring with these. I can just see some of the awkward situations, but I guess that would have been too much to ask.

Not the same. I give all the props in the world to Jonah Hill for losing all that weight for this role, but I have to question a couple of things. First is, was it really necessary and would it have worked better if he was the old size? Secondly, his character seems like a really, really smart guy, why the hell did he end up at the police academy and not in college?

The mixture of action, comedy, and sheer absurdity are what makes 21 Jump Street a surprise hit for the year. Throw in a cameo from the show’s stars who appear and tell the guys that they used to work Jump St. (always nice to have some continuity), and we have a winning formula. Now, I’m not saying this film is perfect…far from it, as a matter of fact, but it is entertaining and that is what movies are about, first and foremost. I highly recommend this.

4 out of 5 stars