Archive for Danny Huston

Big Eyes

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 18, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Directed and produced by Tim Burton, BIG EYES is based on the true story of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who was one of the most successful painters of the 1950s and early 1960s. The artist earned staggering notoriety by revolutionizing the commercialization and accessibility of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. The truth would eventually be discovered though: Keane’s art was actually not created by him at all, but by his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams). The Keanes, it seemed, had been living a lie that had grown to gigantic proportions. BIG EYES centers on Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, who was catapulted to international fame while taking credit for her work.

What people are saying:

“”Well-acted, thought-provoking, and a refreshing change of pace for Tim Burton, Big Eyes works both as a biopic and as a timelessly relevant piece of social commentary”. 3 1/2 stars

“Middling drama from Tim Burton, based on some real life art controversy. There’s some nice integration of pop art into the visuals and some evocatively cartoonish recreations of the era, but there’s something decidedly underwhelming about the film as a whole. Amy Adams is good as always if not always well served by the script, but Christoph Waltz can’t save a character that sadly descends into caricature well before the end. Not up to Ed Wood or even Big Fish standards (comparable as this is another rare film where Burton drops his gothic schtick – although you can clearly see that his animated fare owes something to the big eyed waifs featured in this). You can do worse. You can also do much better.” 2 stars

“Bright yet disturbing, Big Eyes is both an indicator of just how far women have come in the past 60 years and a comment on the commercialization of pop culture.” 4 stars

” It’s not a bad movie, but it is slow (I fell asleep twice). What to say… it’s an interesting story, but it’s just not told in a very riveting way. I wanted to like it more than I did, especially as I usually enjoy Amy Adams. But she seems to be somewhat “dialing it in” these days. I miss the performances of her early career. She amazed me in “Catch me if you can”, and again in “Junebug” (a rather odd little film but fascinating character study). This film can be summed up in one word: “Meh”. ” 2 1/2 stars

“Big Eyes certainly isn’t what you’re used to. It’s unique, it’s compelling, and its cast, led by Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, make it entertaining from start to finish. As my girlfriend, Katie, said, “Some of it left me speechless.” Waltz plays the villain so well in every film, and especially in Big Eyes, where you do not realize he is the villain till later on. The story itself is fascinating, and unpredictable, and the “paint-off” at the end in court is the climax that the audience deserves. Although it is not perfect, it definitely shows glimpses of brilliance, which Tim Burton always provides the audience. It will certainly be remembered as one of Tim Burton’s most interesting and realist films, and will also be remembered when it comes to the topic of women’s rights and feminism. It is a sad story, made happy, and was a good film to start of my year at the movies.” 3 1/2 stars

The Aviator

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Houston, 1913, nine-year-old Howard Hughes is warned by his mother of the diseases to which she is afraid he will succumb. Fourteen years later, he begins to direct the movie Hell’s Angels. However, after the release of The Jazz Singer, the first partially talking film, Hughes becomes obsessed with shooting his film realistically, and decides to convert the movie to a sound film. Despite the film being a hit, Hughes remains unsatisfied with the end result and orders the film to be re-cut after its Hollywood premiere. He becomes romantically involved with actress Katharine Hepburn, who helps to ease the symptoms of his worsening obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

In 1935, Hughes test flies the H-1 Racer, pushing it to a new speed record, and three years later, breaks the world record by flying around the world in four days. He purchases majority interest in Transcontinental & Western Air, the predecessor to Trans World Airlines, aggravating company rival, Juan Trippe, chairman of the board for Pan American World Airways (Pan Am). Trippe gets his friend, Senator Owen Brewster, to introduce the Community Airline Bill, which would give Pan Am exclusivity on international air travel. As Hughes’ fame grows, he is linked to various starlets, provoking Hepburn’s jealousy, later causing them to break up following her announcement that she has fallen in love with fellow actor Spencer Tracy. Hughes quickly finds a new love interest with 15-year-old Faith Domergue, and later actress Ava Gardner.

Hughes secures a contract with the Army Air Forces for two projects: a spy aircraft and a troop transport unit. In 1946, with the “Spruce Goose” flying boat still in construction, Hughes finishes the XF-11 reconnaissance aircraft and takes it for a test flight. With one of the engines malfunctioning mid-flight, he crashes the aircraft in Beverly Hills, getting severely injured. With the end of WWII, the army cancels its order for the H-4 Hercules, although Hughes still continues the development with his own money. When he is discharged, he is told that he has to choose between funding the airlines or his ‘flying boat’, in which he then orders Dietrich to mortgage the TWA assets so he can continue the development.

Hughes grows increasingly paranoid, planting microphones and tapping Gardner’s phone lines to keep track of her. His home is searched by the FBI for incriminating evidence of war profiteering, provoking a powerful psychological trauma on Hughes, with the men searching his possessions and tracking dirt through his house. Privately, Brewster offers to drop the charges if Hughes will sell TWA to Trippe, an offer he rejects. With Hughes in a deep depression, Trippe has Brewster summon him for a Senate investigation, as they’re confident that he’ll not show up. Hughes has been shut away for nearly three months when Gardner visits him and personally grooms and dresses him in preparation for the hearing.

Hughes defends himself against Brewster’s charges and accuses Trippe of bribing the senator. Hughes concludes by announcing that he has committed to completing the H-4 aircraft, and that he will leave the country if he cannot get it to fly. He successfully test flies H-4 aircraft, and after the flight, talks to Dietrich and his engineer, Glenn Odekirk, about a new jetliner for TWA. The sight of men in germ-resistant suits causes Hughes to have a mental breakdown. As Odekirk hides him in a restroom while Dietrich fetches a doctor, Hughes begins to have flashbacks of his childhood, his obsession for aviation, and his ambition for success, while repeating the phrase, “the way of the future”.

REVIEW:

Growing up an Air Force brat, there are two things one is bound to do. That is move around a lot and foster a love and/or respect for airplanes. While I am scared of flying, I love airplanes, especially the old ones from the WWII era. Many of the innovations of those planes forward are the brainchild of one Howard Hughes, the subject of The Aviator. Does this biopic give us a look into the man or just another fabrication of events meant for our entertainment?

What is this about?

Leonardo DiCaprio portrays eccentric tycoon Howard Hughes, who turned a small fortune into a massive one by producing Hollywood classics such as Scarface. He simultaneously branched into and transformed industry after industry — including aviation.

What did I like?

Leonardo leads. Today, Leonardo DiCaprio is hailed as one of the best actors working today. He is constantly up for Oscar every year and turns out critically acclaimed performance year in and year out. As Howard Hughes, he did much the same, bringing to life the eccentric billionaire moviemaker and aviator to audiences that knew little to nothing about him. His shining moment, though had to have been when he is locked away in that room as a way to escape from everyone. It is a powerful scene that shows Leo’s talents and Hughes’ OCD in all their glory.

Classic Hollywood. What film set during this era about a Hollywood filmmaker would be complete without some of Hollywood’s brightest, such as Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Errol Flynn, and I think I saw Cary Grant on set. Obviously, these aren’t the real thing, but I give kudos to the filmmakers for finding those that respected these great thespians (I can use that term for these actors, because they actually studied their craft rather than spend their time posing for magazine covers). In some instances, I thought that perhaps I was looking at the real thing!

Hercules! Hercules! Howard Hughes may be best known for his giant airboat, the H-4 Hercules, better known as the “Spruce Goose”. Hard to believe that an aviation fan such as a myself has never seen this thing, but it is true. When I saw the parts driving down the road, I got a lump in my throat and was hoping that they would show the competed aircraft. Lo and behold they did, and it was splendiferous! Everything I had wished to see, short of viewing the real thing (which is in Oregon, btw). No matter what I think of the rest of this film, that construct was worth the 3 hrs I just spent watching this!

What didn’t I like?

Katharine or Tilda? Cate Blanchett plays Katharine Hepburn and I must say she pulls it off quite nicely. Her mannerisms, way of speaking and the generic look are all there. What I couldn’t get past, though, was how much Blanchett resembled a more feminine Tilda Swinton in this getup. I can’t speak for anyone else, but it was a major distraction for me. Realizing that she is the best actress for the job, I really shouldn’t complain, but I can’t leave that alone. Surely, they could have done something more with her, right?

Still a boy. In 2004, DiCaprio still had a bit a boyish look to him. When he was wearing a suit, he looked like he borrowed his dad or big brother’s so that he could go to the prom. If not for his stellar job at acting, I wonder how much of a career he would have had because his young look took away from his performance as Hughes. I can’t look at the face of a 17yr old and think he is the genius multibillionaire moviemaker and aviator. It just doesn’t work that way! I wonder if this is the problem Selena Gomez and her ilk, that look years younger than they actually seem to be, are running into.

Aftermath. The film ends a couple of years following the Senate Hearing. That isn’t a spoiler, just an idea of the timeline. What’s the big deal about that? Well, this is supposed to be a film about the life of Howard Hughes, yet we don’t get any of the stuff that happened after the film ends. The man lived until 1976, so there are at least 20 something years left to go through. At the very least, we could have had some reading material pop up on the screen right before the credits rolled, instead of the abrupt ending we were treated to.

In the end, The Aviator shows that DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese are magic together, capable of bringing out the best in each other and delivering a powerful, yet entertaining film about a historical figure not many people know much about, short of the tall tales. Truth be told, the most many know about Hughes is that he built the “Spruce Goose” and occasionally someone has played him in movies, such as The Rocketeer. With all the hub-bub this film seemed to put into The Outlaw rating, you would think they’d have cast someone as Jane Russell or spent some time making that film, but I guess not. Oh well! So, what did I ultimately think of the film? Is it worth watching? Yes, I very highly recommend it! Most of the complaints I have about this picture are personal issues. I will warn you, though. Get used to hearing Artie Shaw’s “Nightmare”.

5 out of 5 stars

Hitchcock

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1959, Alfred Hitchcock opens his latest film, North by Northwest, to considerable success, but is troubled by a reporter’s insinuation that it is time to retire. Seeking to reclaim the artistic daring of his youth, Alfred turns down film proposals like adapting Casino Royale in favor of a horror novel called Psycho by Robert Bloch, which is based on the crimes of serial killer Ed Gein.

Alfred’s wife and artistic collaborator, Alma, is no more enthusiastic about the idea than his appalled colleagues, especially since she is being lobbied by their writer friend, Whitfield Cook, to look at his own screenplay. However, she warms to Alfred’s proposal, suggesting the innovative plot turn of killing the female lead early in the film. The studio heads prove more difficult to persuade, forcing Alfred to finance the film personally and use his Alfred Hitchcock Presents television crew to produce the film.

However, the pressures of this self-financed production, such as dealing with Geoffrey Shurlock of the Motion Picture Production Code, and Hitchcock’s notorious lecherous habits, such as when they confer with the female lead, Janet Leigh, annoy Alma beyond endurance. To find a release, Alma begins a personal writing collaboration with Whitfield on his screenplay at his beach house without Alfred’s knowledge. Alfred eventually discovers what she has been doing, and suspects her of having an affair. This concern affects Alfred’s work on the film, such as giving Psycho’s famous shower scene particularly ferocious ambiance even as he imagines Gein speaking to him.

Despite this tension, Alma’s loyalty is such that she personally takes over production of his film when Alfred is temporarily bedridden after collapsing from overwork. Despite this, Alfred eventually confronts Alma and asks her if she is having an affair. Alma denies it, profoundly insulted at being accused of adultery after all she has done for her husband.

Events take a turn for the worse when Alfred’s rough cut of Psycho is poorly received by the studio executives, while Alma discovers Whitfield philandering with a younger woman at his beach house. With both feeling chastened, Alfred and Alma reconcile and set to work on improving the film. Their renewed collaboration yields results, culminating in Alma convincing Alfred to accept their composer’s suggestion for adding Bernard Hermann’s famous harsh strings score for the shower scene, making it a bracingly effective moment of cinematic horror.

After maneuvering Shurlock into leaving the film’s content largely intact, Alfred learns that the studio is only going to exhibit the film in a handful of theaters with minimal marketing. To compensate, Alfred arranges for special theater instructions to pique the public’s interest in the film such as forbidding admittance after the film begins. At the film’s premiere, Alfred waits in the lobby for the audience’s reaction and is rewarded with a raucously enthusiastic reception.

With the film’s screening being so well received, Alfred publicly thanks his wife afterward for helping make it possible and they affirm their love. At the conclusion at his home, Alfred addresses the audience noting Psycho proved a major high point of his artistic career and he is currently pondering his next project. At that, a crow lands on his shoulder as a reference to his successful follow-up effort, The Birds, before turning to meet with his wife.

REVIEW:

I’m not a die-hard fan of Alfred Hitchcock, but I do enjoy his films. Getting the chance to learn more about the man is something that I have been longing to do for some time now and Hitchcock did accomplish that in some ways.

What is this about?

Iconic filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock struggles with his marriage, the censors and the financiers of his 1960 film Psycho in this biopic. Driven to prove he still has an edge, Hitchcock crafts what would become one of the greatest thrillers of all time

What did I like?

Man, myth, legend. Strangely enough, the film focuses solely on the making of Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho. While there isn’t really anything that is wrong with that per se, I would have liked to have known a bit more about the guy, but more on that later. What we do get to know is how much of an influence his wife Alma was on his career and films. I guess what they say is true, “behind every great man is an even greater woman!” It really doesn’t hurt if that woman is Helen Mirren.

Casting couch. In biopics, I have found that casting directors don’t necessarily look for someone who resembles the person they are playing. I’m not particularly fond of that practice, but sometimes it comes down to the improbability of finding someone who has the look and talent to pull it off. In this case, Scarlett Johansson plays a very believable Janet Leigh. Some may say that she should have been playing Marilyn Monroe at some point in time, and I won’t argue that, but I can see the resemblance between her and Leigh.

Levity. I was listening to a review last night where the reviewer all but called for a boycott of this film because it had a light-hearted, comedic feel in places. More often than not, I appreciate moments like this as they keep the film from going into absolute darkness. Say what you will, but just because Hitchcock created some of the great horror films of all time does not mean that he was always in a dark place, mentally. For that very reason, it is nice that this film realized he was a human who had ups and downs, just like rest of us.

What didn’t I like?

Fat suit. I have an issue with the way they changed Sir Anthony Hopkins into Alfred Hitchcock. Sticking him in a fat suit seemed to be a good idea, but watching throughout the film, it seemed as if he was very uncomfortable and forced to wobble around like a penguin. I’ve never seen Hitchcock walk, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t wobble!

History. As much as I was interesting in the making of Psycho, I would have been more interesting in seeing a little more about what it was that made Hitchcock tick. To my knowledge the few films about him don’t seem to dwell back there and I’m sure that is was this history that shaped him into the director he turned out to be.

Alma. A short side plot involving Hitchcock’s wife, Alma, didn’t really work for me, but only because they didn’t develop it proper. As it is presented in the picture, randomly we saw her and Danny Huston’s character at this beach house a couple of times and the last time he is having sex with some chick, she gets bent out of shape, goes to help her husband make Psycho become a hit, and that’s the last of it. Surely, they could have done something more with that story if they were going to include it. This is a relatively short film, a few more minutes would not have hurt.

So, Hitchcock…what did I think of it? I really liked it. There were moments here and there that I was left scratching my head about, but for the most part, this was my cup of tea. Could it have been better?  Yes, but it also could have been much worse. Fan of Hitchock, you may or may not like it depending on how hardcore you are, but general movie fans will probably enjoy. Check it out sometime!

4 out of 5 stars

The Warrior’s Way

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , on September 4, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 19th century Asia, Yang is a warrior and member of the Sad Flutes clan, the cruelest assassins in the world. His personal goal to become the greatest swordsman in the entire world is accomplished when he kills the former greatest swordsman and leader of the enemy clan. Both clans swore to fight until every single member of the opposing clan was dead. Yang has killed every member, except a baby girl he comes upon, spares and decides to watch over. This act makes Yang a sworn enemy of his own clan, and is not safe in his homeland.

Yang burns his home and most all of his belongings, taking the baby and his katana on a boat to the west. He arrives in Lode, a small, dusty, town, where the main attraction used to be a carnival. Unused and battered carnival rides are scattered, while a huge, unfinished ferris wheel looms above. There he seeks out a fellow rogue warrior friend known to the townsfolk as Smiley. Yang discovers Smiley died 3 years ago, but ran the town’s laundry shop. Among the townspeople Yang meets, he is introduced to the gang of friendly carnies led by dwarf Eight-Ball, Ron, the vagrant drunk and Lynne, a spunky young woman who was friends with Smiley.

Lynne gives Yang the nickname Skinny and agrees to teach him how to do the laundry. Yang begins to enjoy his life in the town, learning to enjoy pleasures he never knew as a warrior. He becomes friendly with the people, a hard worker, and able gardener, while the baby dubbed April, is adored by all. He even finds an interest in opera, after Lynne shows him on a gramophone. Lynne reveals to Yang that Smiley taught her a little but of the sword, and about the Sad Flute clan. She wants Yang to teach her more, and asks about the Sad Flutes’ name. He explains that it describes the sound of blood coming from your victim’s slit throat, but he is reluctant to show any of his warrior skill. Back in the East, Yang’s former clan is shown to be looking for him. His former master Saddest Flute and his ninja army take the same boat to America, the whole crew shown to be slain. Saddest Flute states that to find Yang in such a large country, they would wait and listen.

Yang one day sees Lynne place flowers on a grave, and asks Eight-Ball what happened. He explains in a flashback, that years ago, when Lynne was an adolescent girl, the town came under siege by a corrupt Colonel. His preference to rape women with healthy teeth prompts him to choose Lynne as his victim while her father is held to the ground, and mother and baby brother forced to stand by. When Lynne is brought to the Colonel in a kitchen, she manages to evade him by throwing a pan of potatoes frying in grease on his face. She runs outside, and the Colonel shoots her through the chest. Her father struggles free and is shot dead by the Colonel, while her mother holding her brother runs over and both are also killed.

When the townsfolk buried her family, they found Lynne still breathing. Since then, Lynne has made revenge on the Colonel a priority, aching to learn to fight and kill, and practices throwing knives, at which she her aim is lacking. Yang surprises Lynne by showing her that her knife throwing was prohibited by her sight, not her arm, and gives her a successful lesson by blindfolding her. Lynne is clearly fond of Yang, and gives him a charm on a necklace that belonged to her mother, as a present.

Moved by Lynne’s story, Yang gives her 2 scythe knives, telling her they are for defense, not killing. He tutors her out in the desert on how to use them, and she eventually becomes skilled. He shows her his katana, but Lynne notes it is welded to its scabbard. Yang explains it is so his past cannot hear the sound of the lives he has taken, and if his past finds him, there will be no more music. In a flashback, it is shown as a young boy, Yang was given a present of a small puppy from his master, and was being trained to become the strongest.

Yang continues living his life peacefully with April until he experiences his first Christmas. While the townspeople celebrate the holiday dancing, Yang and Lynne go out to the desert to ‘dance’ in their swordplay, ending in a stalemate where Yang tells Lynne she has not won until her enemy’s heart stops. Lynne kisses Yang on the mouth, catching him totally off guard and stopping time. Lynne runs away smiling at him, and Yang sits down shocked, staring at his lips in his swords’ reflection.

Back in town, the Colonel has returned to the town to terrorize the people. He now wears a frightening face prosthetic to hide the grotesque scar from the hot grease. The colonel tortures a clown by having his men shoot at a bucket of water on the Clown’s head, and is about to have them shoot at a glass of whiskey when Ron the drunk takes the shot glass and drinks it. Ron is dragged through the town by a whip around his neck pulled by horse. The Colonel then inspects a lineup of women for their teeth, and chooses a hispanic woman whose husband begs for mercy. The Colonel releases the woman to her husband to shoot them simultaneously.

Eight-Ball and the other carnies tie Lynne up in a cellar for her own good as well as the people. Yang removes her blades, agreeing with the carnies. Lynne manages to free herself with a concealed knife in her boot. The Colonel has the hispanic woman’s daughters cleaned to be raped, but Lynne, disguised as a prostitute offers herself instead. She fools the Colonel, thinking she will be able to kill him when he reveals he recognized her after smelling her neck. The Colonel’s men rush in to hold Lynne down to the bed. Back in the laundry, the carnies run in looking for Lynne, and Yang realizes where she is. He grabs an iron and shatters the seal on his katana to free it. Far away, Saddest Flute jerks up from meditation, sensing the seal break, and is aware of Yang’s location.

Just as she is about to be raped, Yang bursts in through the window, expertly and easily slaying everyone in the room but Lynne and the Colonel. As Yang turns to kill him, Lynne intercedes that she will do it, but the Colonel grabs her and leaps out the other window, using her to break his fall. The Colonel runs down an alley to escape. Lynne sees him fleeing on a horse and shuts her eyes to deliver an expert knife throw to the back of his head. The town folk pull off the prosthetic to reveal a lackey of the Colonel, now especially scared that he will return with an army of outlaws to kill them all. Yang is about to leave town before the Sad Flutes come for him, but the townsfolk implore him to stay and help.

The people are worried they don’t have the means to defend their town, but Eight-Ball has Ron’s secret stash of guns and explosives unburied. Ron is shown to be an expert marksman, shooting a bowling pin down amidst his best liquor from hundreds of feet away. Yang asks Ron while preparing why Ron stopped shooting. Ron explains that he was once an outlaw, using his great skill to rob banks, and trains. His criminal career ended when the woman he loved was shot during a gunfight, and he vowed to never pick up a gun again, until that day. Ron advises for men like him and Yang, the best thing they could do for the ones they loved was stay as far away from them as possible, that they are like flowers while he and Yang are sand. The day before battle, Lynne comes to Yang and asks to leave with him after the fight, and to think on it. Later that night, Yang comes to Lynne’s house. He gives her his own twin short swords, explaining these were to kill. Yang tells her to come close. He caresses the side of her face, her neck, and ends at her heart, saying to remember these places; that they are the fastest way to kill your enemy. Lynne reciprocates the gesture and says she will remember.

The day comes and the Colonel arrives with scores of outlaws to charge the town. Yang stands across his flower garden, waiting. As the men approach, they are met with explosions. From miles away in the top ferris wheel cab, Ron is sniping sticks of dynamite hidden in the garden as riders come. In the ensuing dust and chaos, Yang rapidly and stealthily disposes of the men. The outlaws are lured to the ferris wheel, where Yang and the carnies ambush them. Ron slides to safety on a cable, and the ferris wheel is blown up, killing many of the Colonel’s men. Thinking it safe, the carnies come out from cover, only to be attacked by the numerous remaining outlaws. The Colonel’s men chase the carnies to the center of town, where the Sad Flutes suddenly assemble. Saddest Flute instructs them ‘kill.’ Yang looks to Lynne holding April and tells her to run. The carnies manage to get away before the bloodshed between the outlaw cowboys and ninja warriors starts.

Yang runs after Lynne and must cut down several ninjas before following her to the laundry shop. Meanwhile, the cowboys in town manage to shoot down some ninjas, but are engaged in lethal battle. In the laundry, Lynne hands April to Eight-Ball so she can help Yang. While he is killing a ninja, she saves him from another sneaking in. After they are safe for the moment, they hear shots, and run to Eight-Ball, where he is dying and says he couldn’t protect April. He dies and the Colonel is seen carrying her in a building, yelling at his men to make sure no one got in.

The Sad Flutes pursue hotly, and are mostly fended off with a small machine gun, but the outlaws are unable to stop Yang, as he brutally slices through them all. He comes in the room to find the Colonel holding a gun to April’s head, and leaps up to cut the barrel and bullet in half mid-firing. Catching April from falling, Yang steps aside to let Lynne fight the Colonel. After a tense battle, Lynne manages to finally drive a sword into the Colonel’s back. Yang and Lynne exit the room to find Saddest Flute sitting across the carnage at the end of the hall. He tells Yang that April is the enemy, and asks if he would ever tell April that Yang killed her parents, her whole clan, and observes that Yang ran away from his old life of killing to kill more. He says Yang does not belong there. Yangs claims he does, or did, and will not kill April. Yang and Saddest flute go to the desert in the sunset, and duel to the death. During, flashbacks show Saddest Flute training Yang as an adult in pouring rain, drilling him through adolescence in the snow, and forcing child Yang to kill the puppy he was given, declaring Yang’s biggest enemy would be his heart, and as an assassin, he must kill what he loves. In the present, Yang wins the duel, cutting Saddest Flute’s throat.

Lynne tells Yang she knows she won’t be coming with him, and tries to hand him April, but he refuses. He makes the baby laugh once more, and gives Lynne a caring look. Yang turns to the sunset, and Ron tells him to ‘keep walking, sandman.’ Ron narrates that the warrior never stopped walking, to put as much space between him and the little lady he loved as possible, showing April then Lynne. The scene then shifts to the a snowy, glacial environment. Opera plays from a small fish shack where a hooded man in a parka sits. Another approaches and asks how much for a fish. The sitting man nimbly kills the other, knives falling out of his hands as he collapses. Yang stands up and goes to his shack, where he takes his pendant from Lynne, his katana disguised as a snowman’s broom, and April’s pacifier, and sets the hut on fire. Walking out to the snow, a slew of ninja warriors leap out of the snow, and Yang unsheathes his katana as the scene fades.

REVIEW:

I really would like to know whose idea it was to start mixing genres, because there is yet to be one that really works. Take for instance this film, The Warrior’s Way, that mixes cultures of east and west, but not in a good way.

First off, the plot is so convoluted and confusing, you’re best off just reading the above synopsis to even attempt at getting an understanding of it. Second, the eastern culture part of it seems to take a backseat to the forced scene change to the west.

Yes, after the eastern intro, we are suddenly transported to the west and that’s where we stay for the remainder of the flick. As anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis can tell you, I am an avid fan of westerns and whatnot, but the way this was done just didn’t work for me, especially when you throw in the whole carnival outcasts as the population.

On top of that, I chose to watch this expecting to see something along the lines of the Kill Bill movies. Well, maybe not that extreme, but I did expect more action and not nonstop talking and flashbacks.

The climax wasn’t really worth the wait, but it was fun to watch, even if ti did feel a bit like a video game such as Ninja Gaiden or Genji.

The Warrior’s Way lost its way somewhere and just never really recovered. I won der what this would have been like in the hands of another director, or if the story would have been executed better, but, one can only say “what if” so many times. It still doesn’t excuse the film for not keeping my attention, when by all means, it should have, especially since it is quite obvious it wasn’t meant to be a super serious flick. In the end, I can’t recommend this, but at the same time, I can’t dissuade you from watching it. This film isn’t horrible, just uninteresting.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2009 by Mystery Man

 

 

PLOT:

In 1845, Northwest Territories, Canada, young James Howlett sees his father John Howlett (Peter O’Brien) killed by Victor Creed’s father, Thomas Logan (Aaron Jeffery). In an act of vengeance, James kills the elder Logan using bone claws which protrude from his hands. With his dying breath, Logan tells James that he is also his son. James and Victor (Michael-James Olsen) then run away. In the following years, adult brothers James (Hugh Jackman) and Victor (Liev Schreiber) are seen fighting together throughout the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, and eventually the Vietnam War, their regenerative powers keep them from being killed in the battlefield. In Vietnam, Victor kills a superior officer after being stopped from raping a girl, and James and Victor are sentenced to death by firing squad, though their unique regenerative abilities keep them alive.

William Stryker (Danny Huston) approaches the two mutants and offers them membership in his elite group of mutants. The team consists of mutants Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand), who’s super-strong and invulnerable, John Wraith (will.i.am), who can teleport, Chris Bradley (Dominic Monaghan), who can control machines, and expert marksman Agent Zero (Daniel Henney) and martial artist Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). The brothers join the group, and are sent to the team’s first mission: Invade a diamond traffic operation headquarters to retrieve a meteorite used by the leader of the dealers as a paperweight. After retrieving the meteorite, Stryker sends the team to Lagos, Nigeria to investigate if there are any other meteorites. Logan is disgusted by the murders committed by his teammates and abandons the group.

Six years afterward, James, now going by his last name, Logan; is a lumberjack living with his girlfriend Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). Meanwhile, Victor hunts down and murders Bradley. Stryker locates Logan, and claims that someone is out to kill members of the now-disbanded team. Stryker asks Logan for help, but is refused. Shortly after, Silverfox is murdered by Victor. Wolverine hunts down his half-brother and is easily defeated. Stryker once again asks Logan for help, and he agrees. Stryker then has Logan’s skeletal system reinforced with adamantium, a virtually indestructible metal retrieved from the meteorite found by Team X. Before the procedure, Logan asks for his new dog tags to say “Wolverine”. After the procedure, Stryker orders Wolverine’s mind to be erased, but before this can happen Wolverine regains conciousness and flees. Stryker orders Agent Zero to capture him.

The elderly couple Travis (Max Cullen) and Heather Hudson (Julia Blake) find Wolverine in their barn and provide him a home until the next morning, only to be shot dead by Zero. Wolverine takes out Zero’s team and Zero himself, then goes to Las Vegas. Wolverine locates former associates John Wraith and Fred Dukes, seeking to learn the location of Creed and Stryker’s new laboratory. Meanwhile, Stryker captures Scott Summers. Wolverine learns the disbanded team had been capturing mutants for Stryker, and one of them, Remy LeBeau (Taylor Kitsch), aka Gambit, had escaped the island and knew the location.

Wolverine and Wraith locate Gambit and confront him in a New Orleans bar. Wolverine talks with Gambit while Wraith keeps watch outside. During their conversation, Gambit begins to think Wolverine was sent to take him back to the island. Gambit blasts Wolverine outside just as Victor shows up and kills Wraith. Wolverine fights Victor, only to be interrupted by Gambit. Victor escapes, and after a brief struggle, Gambit agrees to take Wolverine to the mutant prison on Three Mile Island. Once there, Wolverine confronts Stryker and learns Silverfox is still alive, having faked her death with hydrochlorothiazide. She was keeping track of the mutant to free her sister, Emma (Tahyna Tozzi), who is also in the prison. Wolverine departs, and Victor emerges. He tells Stryker to hold up his end of the bargain and make his skeleton indestructible like Wolverine’s. Stryker assures Victor that he won’t survive the procedure and in an act of rage, Victor tries to kill Silverfox. Wolverine hears Silverfox’s screams and attacks Victor. Finally having the chance to kill Victor, Wolverine chooses not to give in to his animal instincts and instead knocks him out. Silverfox shows Wolverine to the holding cells, and he frees the mutants there; among whom are Storm, Toad, Quicksilver, and Cyclops.

Angered, Stryker prematurely orders his newest creation, Weapon XI (Scott Adkins) (also known as Deadpool), a bald, pale skinned monstrosity, lacking a mouth and with patterns marking adamantium bone structure, to be activated. The rescue party approach an exit when it is blocked by Weapon XI under Stryker’s control, as Wolverine tells them to find a new exit two blades extend from Weapon XI’s arms, similar to Wolverine’s claws. At this moment Wolverine realizes that this monstrosity is actually Wade Wilson. Weapon XI has the abilities of several of the killed and captured mutants such as Cyclops’ optic blasts, Wraith’s teleportation, and Wolverine’s healing abiltity. During the escape, Silverfox is lethally injured. The other mutants escape through the facilities tunnels, guided by Cyclops who is unable to tell them how he knows the exit. Emerging from the tunnel, the party encounter a helicopter, emerging from the helicopter is a familiar figure, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who offers them a solution at his school.

Meanwhile, Wolverine and Victor, now working together, are able to decapitate Weapon XI, sending its head-still firing optic blasts- down into the reactor. The resulting damage causes the structure to beging to collaspe, which makes Wolverine stumble into only to be saved by Victor at the last minute, reminding him that brothers stick together. Wolverine coldly informs Victor that nothing has changed between them, somewhat hurt yet satisfied, Victor flees the island. Wolverine then jumps off the reactor but loses his footing at the bottom and the reactor nearly crushes him when Gambit returns, destryoing the falling reactor. Wolverine then Gambit to ensure the prisoners are safe, while he returns to find Silverfox, who had stayed behind. Wolverine is then shot in the head by Stryker, who has a gun loaded with adamantium bullets, which knock him unconscious.

Silverfox uses her powers of persuasion to order Stryker to walk away until his feet bleed, then dies from her injuries. Gambit returns to ensure Wolverine that the mutants are safe, but due to amnesia caused by the adamantium bullets Wolverine does not remember anything. Gambit tries to get Wolverine to come with him, but he declines. Gambit wishes Wolverine good luck before departing, and Wolverine flees the scene as the ambulances and police arrive.

REVIEW:

Let me preface this by saying that I’ve been a fan of Wolverine since the late 80s/early 90s and am pretty much a fanboy, so I’m going to be a little biased in the review. Having said that, I will try to be objective.

THIS…FILM…WAS…AWESOME!!!!

Hugh Jackman really beefed up to be a more savage Wolverine. His goal was to return to the gruff version of the character we got in the first X-Men film. I think he succeeded.

Liev Schriber is surprisingly convincing as Sabretooth. I think the decision to not bring back Tyler Mane was a good one. Although Mane resembled Sabretooth more (with the help of makeup), Schriber got the character down pat.

I don’t know much about Willian Stryker, so I can’t compare Danny Huston’s take on the character was spot on or a departure from the source material, but from a purely thespian standpoint, he did a pretty good job, and in my opinion, a far better job than Brian Cox did in X2: X-Men United.

With all the hype surrounding the other characters in the film, especially Deadpool and Gambit, I expected to see them in the film more, but for the most part each got maybe 5-10 min. Well, Gambit played a pretty major role at the end and Deadpool comes back, but they still didn’t get the screentime they should have. There is talk of spinoff films for both…it’s only talk…but given the small amount of time they, and Team X for that matter, received, I doubt it. Still, it was good to finally see Gambit on screen.

I will say that the source material is deviated from a little, but I think that Marvel Studios has learned not to get to far from what’s written. However, even with the slight changes this was still an awesome film. We get to see Wolverine’s early years on screen, including pre adamantium claws, and even get to see him get the adamantium bonded to his skeleton. Ladies I’m sure will enjoy seeing Hugh Jackman run around naked.

The special effects seem to be inconsistent. What I mean by that is, everyone except Wolverine seems to have received state of the art effects, while Logan’s claws (both metal and bone) look at times fake.

The fight scenes are spectacular, especially the introductory scenes of each characters (Gambit, Deadpool, and Agent Zero’s are especially impressive) and the scenes involving Wolverine and Sabertooth.

If I have one qualm with the story, other than its obvious departure from the source material its that they didn’t use Silverfox the way they could/should have. Silverfox is a major character in Wolverine’s past and not just some floozy he shacked up with. Having said that, Lynn Collins was a nice choice for her. If there are future films for Wolverine, maybe we’ll see more of her and what she can really do.

The reviews I’ve read have abut crucified this film. I really don’t understand why, excpet for the fct that they’re doing the same thing that they’ve done with every superhero movie that has recently come out…compare it to last summer’s big hits Iron Man and The Dark Knight. The comparisons should be an honor, but have been a burden as the bar was set so high that no film can live up to them. On top of that, there was the early leak of the film that many panned and the swine flu outbreak keeping fans from seeing it in Mexico. Above all that, though, it seems as though Wolverine will defy the odds. Fans, except the purists, will enjoy it, and the non fans will love it. Although the beginning, once you get past the flashback, is a bit slow, there is no unneeded drama throughout the film, but rather lots and lots of action.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2009 by Mystery Man

 

 

PLOT:

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People tracks the escapade of Sidney Young (Simon Pegg), a smalltime, bumbling, aspiring British celebrity journalist who is hired by an upscale magazine in New York City. He tries to enter a party with a pig, pretending it is the pig of a sequel of the film Babe, but is refused. He locks it in his hotel room and goes to the afterparty, but when the room is serviced the pig escapes to the party where it runs rampant. Due to this incident Sidney catches the attention of Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges), editor of Sharps magazine, and accepts a job with the magazine in New York City. Clayton warns Sidney that he’d better charm everyone he can, if he wants to succeed. Instead, Sidney instantly insults and annoys fellow writer Alison Olsen (Kirsten Dunst). He dares to target the star clients of power publicist Eleanor Johnson (Gillian Anderson). He upsets his direct boss Lawrence Maddox (Danny Huston), and tries to make amends by hiring a stripper (Charlotte Devaney) to dance for Lawrence during a staff meeting. Sidney, of course, doesn’t stop there, finding creative ways to annoy nearly everyone. His saving grace: a rising model Sophie Maes (Megan Fox) who develops an odd affection for him, and in time, Alison’s friendship might be the only thing saving Sidney from torpedoing his career.

REVIEW:

Films based on books tend to do well more of ten than not, especially if they are done well. However, this film just seemed to lack something, I’m not sure what, that the book had.

Simon Pegg’s dry British humor just didn’t seem to work in this film. I don’t think it was his fault, but rather the fact that this role was just not meant for him. Perhaps I’m the only one that thinks that, but for me he seemed a bit out of place.

Megan Fox capitalizes on her sex appeal in this film, but even though she gets alot of screentime, her character isn’t very well developed. She is almost strictly eye candy in this film, but, speaking strictly as a male, there is nothing wrong with that.

Kirsten Dunst may have had the best part in this film. Her character is introduced as what the audience can assume as some sort of uber-bitch, but as th film progresses, she softens up. My problem with this is that many of Dunst’s roles seem to be following this route these days. Is she being typecast, or just stuck in a rut? 

Jeff Bridges must have done this film before Iron Man, because he looks much skinnier than does in that film. Of course, it could be the other way around. Who knows? This is a pretty good role for him, but not his best work. He didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the cast, but that may have been because other than Pegg, he really had no scenes with any of them.

There was one part of the film that really made no sense. Out of the blue,  Sidney’s dad in introduced, and then just as soon he’s gone, save for a quick scene at the end. I was left scratching my head about that, wondering how that had anything to do with the story. Same goes for Mrs. Maddox. Why introduce these characters if nothing is going ot become of them.

This film was called the male version of  The Devil Wears Prada. I can kind of see how that comparison can be made, but I just couldn’t get into this film. I tried, but there were parts where I found myself looking at my watch wondering how much longer it was until the hurting would stop. That’s not say this is a bad film. It actually is pretty good, but I just couldn’t sink my teeth into it. Don’t let my lack of enthusiasm about this film deter you from seeing it, though. Each person is different, so you have to see it to make your own decisions.

3 out of 5 stars