Archive for Dennis Quaid

Innerspace

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on December 20, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A hell-raising Navy test pilot (Dennis Quaid) is miniaturized for a top-secret exploratory journey inside a laboratory rabbit — but is instead injected into the body of a high-strung nebbish (Martin Short) who works as a supermarket clerk. Co-starring Meg Ryan, Innerspace is like The Fantastic Voyage with a laugh track. Short’s twitchy physical comedy is a marvel to behold.

What people are saying:

“A manic, overstuffed blend of sci-fi, comedy and romance, Innerspace nonetheless charms, thanks to Martin Short’s fine performance and the insistent zaniness of the plot” 3 1/2 stars

“Though the film plays like a mix of exhilarating adventure and smart comedy, it’s deepened by the notion that little Quaid is floating around inside Short’s body sinking hooks into things, ripping open veins, triggering stomach acid, and the like.” 4 1/2 stars

“Have I seen better movies…yes but not by much. For what was available at the time the visual effects are amazing (CGI wasn’t a big thing when this was made). And it has enough comedy to keep everyone interested. Basically Short and Ryan steal the show was they try to get a chip back that Quaid needs to reenlarge before his air supply run out. Just rent this and thank me later. ” 4 stars

“A fast-paced pastiche of ‘shrinking’ in scifi, an alcoholic Navy pilot gets trapped in the body of a loser Safeway clerk. More of an action-adventure comedy than anything else, it’s entertaining without being much more.” 3 1/2 stars

“I was sort of hoping to give this five stars, since it was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Looking at it as an adult, I think the first act is very strong, it has a lot of good jokes and action scenes (and really fantastic special effects), and Martin Short actually does quite well at both being funny and playing an actual character instead of a walking gag (sorry, Martin Short, but you tend to do the latter). The movie gets kind of directionless in the second act, though. Tuck and Jack are in the middle of a crisis, so they escape back to Tuck’s apartment and…get drunk and dance around. What? Also, Tuck’s pod seems to teleport to whatever part of Jack’s body would be most useful to the story and/or a gag; the story’s climax for him happens in Jack’s stomach, but then he’s somehow in Jack’s lungs a minute later. That sort of thing happens over and over; there’s very little concern in the script for the amount of time it would take him to get from one place to another. After meandering a good bit, the movie picks back up as the final act comes around. It’s still all very silly, of course, but it’s hard not to root for the heroes. It’s not a favorite of mine anymore, but it’s still a fun way to pass two hours.” 4 stars

Dragonheart

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Bowen (Dennis Quaid) mentors Saxon prince Einon (Lee Oakes) in the ideals of chivalry in the hope that he will become a better king than his tyrannical father. When the king is killed while suppressing a peasant rebellion, Einon rushes to claim his crown and is accidentally mortally wounded by the peasant girl Kara (Sandra Kovacicova). Einon’s mother, Queen Aislinn (Julie Christie), has him taken before a dragon whom she implores to save his life. The dragon replaces Einon’s damaged heart with a piece of its own on the promise that Einon will rule with justice and virtue. However, Einon soon becomes more tyrannical than his father, enslaving the former rebels and forcing them to rebuild a Roman castle. Bowen believes that the dragon’s heart has twisted Einon, and swears vengeance on all dragons.

Twelve years later, Einon, now an adult (David Thewlis) has had his castle rebuilt, and Bowen has become a dragon-slayer. Brother Gilbert (Pete Postlethwaite), a monk and aspiring poet, observes Bowen slaying a dragon and follows him to record his exploits. Bowen stalks another dragon to its cave, but the confrontation ends in a stalemate. The dragon (voiced by Sean Connery) states that it is the last of its kind, and thus if Bowen kills it, he will be out of a job. The two form a partnership to defraud local villagers with staged dragon-slayings. Bowen calls the dragon Draco, after the constellation of stars. Unbeknownst to Bowen, Draco is the dragon who shared his heart with Einon, and through this connection, any pain inflicted upon one is also felt by the other.

Meanwhile, Kara, also now an adult, (Dina Meyer) seeks revenge on Einon for murdering her father and is imprisoned. Einon recognizes her as the one responsible for his near-death and attempts to seduce her. Aislinn, disgusted by what her son has become, helps her to escape. Kara tries to rally the villagers against Einon, but they instead offer her as a sacrifice to Draco, who takes her to his lair. Einon arrives to recapture her and fights Bowen, declaring that he never believed in the knight’s code of honor. Draco intervenes and Einon flees. Kara asks Bowen to help overthrow Einon, but the disillusioned knight refuses.

Bowen and Draco’s next staged dragon-slaying goes poorly and their con is exposed. Draco takes Bowen, Kara, and Gilbert to Avalon, where they take shelter among the tombs of the Knights of the Round Table. Draco reveals the connection between himself and Einon, stating that he hoped giving the prince a piece of his heart would change Einon’s nature and reunite the races of Man and Dragon. Through this action Draco hoped to earn a place in his namesake constellation, which is a heaven for dragons who prove their worth. He fears that his failure will cost him his soul, and agrees to help Kara and Gilbert against Einon. After experiencing a vision of King Arthur (voiced by John Gielgud) that reminds him of his knightly code, Bowen agrees to help as well.

With Bowen and Draco on their side, the villagers are organized into a formidable fighting force. Aislinn presents Einon with a group of dragon-slayers, secretly knowing that killing Draco will cause Einon to die as well. The villagers are on the verge of victory against Einon’s cavalry when Gilbert strikes Einon in the heart with an arrow (He states “Thou… shalt… not… kill!”, quoting from Exodus 20:13). Draco feels the pain also, falls from the sky, and is captured. Einon realizes that he is effectively immortal as long as Draco remains alive, and determines to keep the dragon imprisoned. Aislinn attempts to kill Draco during the night, but Einon stops her, then he kills her.

The rebels invade Einon’s castle, and Draco begs Bowen to kill him as it is the only way to end Einon’s reign. Einon charges at Bowen with a dagger, but Bowen reluctantly throws an axe into Draco’s exposed heart. Draco and Einon both die, and Draco’s body dissipates as his soul becomes a new star in the constellation. Bowen and Kara go on to lead the kingdom into an era of justice and brotherhood.

REVIEW:

Anyone remember dragons? It wasn’t that long ago that they were on their way to being a big deal, but two less than stellar films curbed that push real quickly. Going back to the mid-90s, though, we get Dragonheart, a film that can appeal to the younger and older viewers, without alienating either by skewing more towards one or the other.

What is this about?

In an ancient time when majestic fire-breathers soared through the skies, a knight named Bowen (Dennis Quaid) comes face to face and heart to heart with the last dragon on Earth, Draco (voiced by Sean Connery). Taking up arms to suppress a tyrant king, Bowen soon realizes his task will be harder than he’d imagined: If he kills the king, Draco will die as well.

What did I like?

Hero. Every story like this has to have a believable hero, preferably one that will make women swoon. For some reason, girls go crazy for Dennis Quaid, so I guess that part is taken care of. As far as being a believable hero, well, given the development they give is character in the first few minutes, I would say that he does come off as a believable hero and the voice of king Arthur talking to him at Avalon was a nice touch that just added to the mystique.

Merida? When Dina Meyer was in the dungeon, she was wearing a green dress which, coupled with her curly red hair, made me think of Merida from Brave. I half expected her to start talking with a Scottish accent from that point forward. I would say that she should have been more of the damsel in distress, but considering that she is responsible for nearly killing the future king when they were young, it makes sense that she grows into a more independent woman.

Dragon. So, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know m thoughts on the CG vs stop-motion debate. Draco the dragon was made using early CG. By today’s standards he looks tame, but go back to 1996 and he looks pretty damn awesome! Sure, I would have liked for him to have been stop-motion, but that’s a personal preference. Now, if you’re going to have a dragon of importance, then it only makes sense he gets a powerful voice like Sean Connery, who is perfect for this role. Then again, I was reading that it was written with him in mind.

What didn’t I like?

Buddy comedy. When we first meet Sean Connery’s dragon, he seems like a creature of immense power and wisdom. The next time we see him, he shows off his fighting skills against Quaid’s Bowen. Unfortunately, as the film progresses, they seem to become more of a buddy cop film. I’m not against the dynamic between the two or the comedy, I just felt they could have done something else with their relationship.

Lupin. David Thewlis plays the young king Einon. As an evil tyrant king he actually does come off as a decent villain. However, there is just something about him that wasn’t sitting right with me. Perhaps it was the messed up teeth, the cheesy haircut, or the fact tat I’m more used to seeing him as Prof. Lupin in the Harry Potter films, I just couldn’t buy him as some kind of ultimate evil in the world.

Dust to dust. As it were, because of the heart transplant the occurs between Draco and Einon, they are connected and feel each other’s pain. Strangely enough, though, we don’t get much of this. It seems as if they would have taken every chance to utilize this plot device. Instead, we get a couple of scenes, and then the final death scenes where one of them turns to dust, I won’t spoil who. For me, it would have worked better if that would have done more with the bond between the two, or the good/bad side of the heart.

I felt the desire to watch a fantasy film this evening, so I took a chance on Dragonheart. I can’t say that I was disappointed with the results. While not the best film of this genre, it is was at least entertaining, which is more than I can say about some of its contemporaries. I know there are some out there that prefer darker, more serious fantasy films, but those of us with an open mind can enjoy tis film for what it is. Check it out some time!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Movie 43

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film is composed of multiple comedy shorts presented through an overarching segment titled “The Pitch”, in which Charlie Wessler (Dennis Quaid), a mad screenwriter, is attempting to pitch a script to film executive Griffin Schraeder (Greg Kinnear). After revealing several of the stories in his script, Wessler becomes agitated when Schraeder dismisses his outrageous ideas, and he pulls a gun on him and forces him to listen to multiple other stories before making Schraeder consult his manager, Bob Mone (Common), to purchase the film. When they do so, Mone’s condescending attitude toward Schraeder angers him to the point that, after agreeing to make the film “the biggest film since Howard the Duck”, he confronts Mone in the parking lot and tries to humiliate him. Wessler tries to calm Schraeder with more story ideas to no avail, and the segment ends with it being revealed that it is being shot by a camera crew as part of the movie, leading into the final segments.

Having recently moved, Anna and Sean have coffee with their new neighbors. The neighbors, Robert (Liev Schreiber) and Samantha (Naomi Watts) have a teenage son, Kevin (Jeremy Allen White), whom they have home-schooled. Anna and Sean begin inquiring about the homeschooling, and the numerous manners in which Robert and Samantha have replicated a high school environment within their home, going as far as hazing, bullying, and giving out detentions, are humorously revealed. They also throw high school parties and Samantha simulates Kevin’s “first kiss” with him. Visibly disturbed, the neighbors end up meeting Kevin, who says he is going out and gives them the impression that all is fine: until he reveals a doll made of a mop with Samantha’s face on it, referring to the doll as his girlfriend.

Julie (Anna Faris) and Doug (Chris Pratt) have been in a relationship for a year. When he attempts to propose to her, she reveals to him that she is a coprophiliac, and asks him to defecate on her in the bedroom. Urged by his best friend Larry (J.B. Smoove) and others to go along with it, he eats a large meal and drinks a bottle of laxative prior to the event. Wanting foreplay, Julie is angered when Doug wants to finish, and she runs into the street. Chasing after her, he is then hit by a car and graphically evacuates his bowels everywhere. She cradles him and apologizes; covered and surrounded by his excrement on the road, she exclaims that it is the “most beautiful thing” she has ever seen and accepts his marriage proposal. (In the end credits, Julie and Doug are mistakenly re-named Vanessa and Jason by Rocky Russo, Jeremy Sosenko, Steve Carr, Peter Farrelly, and Charles B. Wessler).

Neil (Kieran Culkin) is working a night shift at a local grocery store. His ex-girlfriend, Veronica (Emma Stone), comes through his line and the two begin arguing, which soon turns into sexual discussion and flirtation as they humorously lament over their relationship; unbeknownst to them, Neil’s intercom microphone broadcasts the entire explicit conversation throughout the store, where various elderly people and vagrants tune in. After she leaves in tears, the customers agree to cover his shift while he goes after her.

Robin (Justin Long) and his cohort Batman (Jason Sudeikis) are in Gotham City at a speed dating establishment seeking out a bomb threat by their arch nemesis, Penguin (John Hodgman). While Robin attempts to connect with various women through speed dating—including Lois Lane (Uma Thurman) and Supergirl (Kristen Bell)—Batman encounters his ex, Wonder Woman (Leslie Bibb), and attempts to stop Penguin from detonating Supergirl, who later turns out to be the Riddler (Will Carlough) in disguise, which Batman already knew and was screwing with Robin, who kissed “her” moments before unveiling. (Early during production, this sketch was formerly titled “Robin’s Big Speed Date”.)

A faux-PSA about kids stuck in machines and how adults’ criticism of these particular machines affect the feelings of the children stuck inside the machines. This commercial was paid for by the society for the prevention of cruelty to children inside machines.

A developing company is having a meeting in their headquarters over their newly released product, the “iBabe”, which is a life-sized, realistic replica of a nude woman which functions as an MP3 player. The boss (Richard Gere), listens to his various workers (Kate Bosworth, Aasif Mandvi, and Jack McBrayer) argue over the placement of a fan that was built into the genital region of the iBabe, which is dismembering the penises of teenage boys who attempt to have sex with them. The board members then agree to strongly emphasise the dangers of the product via its new commercials.

Nathan (Jimmy Bennett) and Amanda (Chloë Grace Moretz) are watching television after school at Nathan’s house as their first “middle school” date. When they begin to kiss, his older brother Mikey (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) enters the living room and makes fun of them. Amanda then discovers she is menstruating and tries to hide it, and when Nathan sees blood on her pants, he panics and believes her to be bleeding to death, causing a debacle, which would later have Nathan and Amanda’s fathers (Patrick Warburton and Matt Walsh) involved.

Another faux-commercial; this time it now involves two women and Tampax as the two women are swimming in an ocean and a shark suddenly appears and graphically eats one of the women.

Pete (Johnny Knoxville) captures a leprechaun (Gerard Butler) for his roommate Brian (Seann William Scott) as a birthday present. After tying the leprechaun up in the basement, they demand he give them a pot of gold. The obscene leprechaun threatens that his brother is coming to save him. When he arrives, Brian and Pete are shot at but ultimately kill both leprechauns. At the end of the segment, Pete reveals he has also caught a fairy (Esti Ginzburg) who performs fellatio for gold coins.

Donald (Stephen Merchant) and Emily (Halle Berry) are on a date together at a Mexican restaurant. Tired with typical first dates, Emily challenges Donald to a game of truth or dare. She dares him to grab a man’s buttocks, and he follows with daring her to blow out the birthday candles on a blind boy’s cake. The game rapidly escalates to extremes, in which both of them get plastic surgery and tattoos, and humiliate themselves.

Set in 1959, Coach Jackson (Terrence Howard) is lecturing his basketball team before their first game against an all-white team. Worried about losing the game, the timid players are lectured by Coach Jackson about their superiority in the sport over their white counterparts, which he expresses vulgarly. When the game ensues, the all-white team loses miserably and rejoices in a single point they earn.

Amy (Elizabeth Banks) worries that her boyfriend Anson’s (Josh Duhamel) cat, Beezel (an animated cartoon), is coming between their relationship. Beezel seems to detest Amy and anyone who comes between him and Anson, but Anson only sees Beezel as innocent. One day, Amy witnesses Beezel masturbating to summer vacation photos of Anson in a swimsuit. Beezel attacks her and violently urinates on her. Anson still finds his pet innocent but Amy threatens to leave if he doesn’t get rid of Beezel. Caring more about his relationship, Anson agrees to find a new home for him. That night, Beezel tearfully watches the couple make love from a closet (whilst sodomizing himself with a hairbrush and dry humping a stuffed teddy bear). The next day when it comes time to take Beezel away, he is nowhere to be found. Amy goes outside to look. Beezel then runs her over with a truck and attempts to shoot her to death with a shotgun, but she chases him into the street and begins beating him with a shovel, which is witnessed by a group of children attending a birthday party at a neighboring house. When Anson approaches to see what is happening, Amy tries to explain Beezel’s motives. Beezel acts innocent and Anson sides with his cat. The children of the party then attack and murder Amy for beating up Beezel, stabbing her with plastic forks. Anson grabs Beezel, as Beezel again fantasizes about French kissing his owner.

REVIEW:

Movie 43 is a film that I have yet to read a good review about. Against my better judgment, though, I decided to see what the masses were so incensed about. Surely this thing could not be that bad…or could it?

What is this about?

A series of interconnected short films follows a washed-up producer as he pitches insane story lines featuring some of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

What did I like?

Offensive. No, this film did not offend me, unless you consider how unfunny it was, but there is a disclaimer at the beginning, and the directors were making the rounds before it was released saying that the reason they made this picture was to offend and shock audiences. Judging by the vitriol people have been spitting out regarding this film, I would say they succeeded.

Cohesive. Unlike Putney Swope, a film that also has random sketches interspersed amongst the “plot”, this one actually keeps everything tied together. As a matter of fact, the plot involving a guy who wants to get the horrible movie, which we are watching, made could very well be the best part of the entire flick.

What didn’t I like?

Fire the agents. I really have to wonder what the agents of such big stars as Kate Winslet, Halle Berry, Richard Gere, and fresh off his Oscar worthy performance in Les Miserables, Hugh Jackman, amongst others that have no business being in a film this lowbrow. I don’t particularly care to say that actors are too good for a film, but they were. For goodness sakes, Jackman was playing a guy with testicles on his neck!!!!

*SIGH*.  I was talking to a friend of mine a few minutes ago, and he summed this film up very well, it is like a movie version of current Saturday Night Live. There are moments that are funny, but they are so few and far between, that you barely even notice them, or care. The rest of the sketches and whatnot just exist for the point of being gross, offensive, or filler.

Some media outlets have been trying to compare Movie 43 so such comedy sketch classics as Kentucky Fried Movie and The Groove Tube, among others, but it doesn’t come anywhere near the quality of those. This is one of those films that I am stretching to fins something good to say about, so it is best that you avoid it like the plague. I’ve suffered enough for all of us!

1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Playing for Keeps

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on July 6, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

George Dryer (Gerard Butler) is a former professional soccer player who is largely seen as a “has been”. His attempts to raise money by selling his former game memorabilia and become a sports announcer are largely met with ambivalence. George’s relationship with his son Lewis (Noah Lomax) is equally unsuccessful due to him only seeing Lewis sporadically. When he discovers that his ex-wife Stacie (Jessica Biel) is getting married to her boyfriend Matt (James Tupper), George grows despondent.

After dropping off an audition tape of him practicing his sports announcements, George goes to help his son’s soccer team practice. The team isn’t very good, with the coach giving little attention to his players. The team’s parents quickly pressure Stacie to ask George to become the new coach, which he reluctantly agrees to. Once coach, George attracts the attentions of various mothers and receives a bribe from Carl King (Dennis Quaid), who wants him to give his children preferential treatment. He specifically draws attention from the divorced Barb (Judy Greer), ex-sportscaster Denise (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and Carl’s wife Patti (Uma Thurman). Denise appears to be particularly forward with George, sending him an e-mail telling him that she’s thinking of him.

At practice the next day George is invited to a dinner party at Carl’s house, is approached by Barb, and is also told by Denise that she has been given a copy of his audition tape to watch and pass along. At Carl’s party George learns that Carl has been having affairs and that his wife is aware of his infidelities, unbeknownst to Carl. Carl then lends George a Ferrari under the implication that he “takes care of his friends”, which George uses to drive to see Stacie. The two discuss what could have developed between the two of them, to which Stacie says that she doesn’t wonder about the past anymore.

When he gets home, he discovers Barb waiting for him. She confesses that she’s very lonely and has set up a dating profile in order to find a match. After asking him if he finds her attractive, the two sleep together. The following day George is called by Carl, who asks him to pick up some money from Patti in order to bail him out of jail, as he got into a fight at the party. Doing so makes him late to pick up his son, but he manages to entertain Lewis by letting him ride in his lap and drive the Ferrari. During this time George discovers that Lewis is sad that his mother is marrying Matt and that he won’t call Matt “dad”. George is then called by Denise, who informs him that ESPN is looking for a new soccer sportscaster and that he must come to the studio to record a tape. This enrages Staci and Lewis due to him being late to pick up Lewis again, weakening his relationship with the both of them.

Arriving home, George is berated by his landlord Param (Iqbal Theba) for not paying his rent while driving a Ferrari and receives a call from Patti, telling him that she’s in his bed. He soon finds that she’s in the landlord’s bed and George manages to distract the landlord by paying him with Carl’s bribe money. Despite this, Patti continues to approach George sexually, who rebuffs her while saying that she should leave Carl rather than having an affair. His relationship with Lewis worsens when Denise kisses George the next day, leading Lewis to realize why his father was late. This spurs Lewis into having a fight during a game later on, prompting Lewis to tell his mother that he wants to quit playing soccer. George manages to later coax Lewis into playing soccer in the rain, which both of them finds fun. Meanwhile Stacie and George begin to reconnect romantically, which causes small rifts in her relationship with Matt.

George manages to earn the job with ESPN, but this necessitates him moving across the country to Connecticut. He asks Stacie to come with him. She initially refuses, but then he meets her at her car and she kisses him. At the game later that same day, George finds that Barb has begun to date his landlord and that Carl has discovered pictures of Patti in George’s house from the time she came on to him. The two men begin to fight, which Staci witnesses. Staci sees the pictures, which upsets her despite George claiming that it wasn’t what it looked like. During the fight, Lewis’s team wins the game.

After the game George leaves for his new job. In the end George chooses to stay with Lewis rather than moving to Connecticut. He also begins a new relationship with Stacie, who has broken off her engagement with Matt, and becomes a local sportscaster in Virginia with his friend Chip.

REVIEW:

One of my very best friends has a little bit of a crush on Gerard Butler. I’m sure since Playing for Keeps was filmed up there in Shreveport/Bossier City she did all she could to at least get a glimpse of her future husband. For the rest of us, though, could Butler make us care about a romantic comedy that deals with soccer?

What is this about?

A washed-up, former soccer star attempts to rebuild his relationship with his son and ex-wife by coaching his son’s soccer team. His plan to reconnect with his family is met with challenges from the attractive soccer moms who pursue him everywhere.

What did I like?

Soccer. Look, like most Americans, soccer is not on my radar. As a kid, though, I seem to remember wanting to play it…until I was introduced to football and girls (ironically, that was the same time that I moved down here to Louisiana…coincidence, perhaps?) The feeling that I got from the kids, when they were winning, is that same sense of wonder. If soccer, as a sport could manage to bottle that up and sell it, maybe it would be able to be a major sport in this country.

Leonidas. Gerard Butler always has been a charismatic guy. He just happens to have an agent that makes bad choices. This may not have been one of his best, but is wasn’t his worst. As a retired soccer player and divorced dad seeking to reconcile with his wife and son, he shows a great range of emotion towards them. Throw in the love of soccer that comes out when he starts with the kids and you can see why he fit this role so perfectly.

For the guys. Romantic comedies aren’t known for being geared towards men. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a male driven film, even if Butler is the star. However, the soccer moms fawning all over him and ESPN are obvious ploys to appeal to the male demographic. Did they work? I’m not so sure, but at least they tried.

What didn’t I like?

Soccer moms. Many guys dream of landing a hot soccer mom. If you look like Gerard Butler, then I suppose you can end up with 3. My issue with them has to do with casting. Nothing against the actresses, but the soccer moms I’ve seen aren’t exactly supermodels like these women, let alone the fact that they seemed to love their kids one minute and then totally ignore them the next.

Bitter. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like every scene involving Jessica Biel had her doing some kind of mean-spirited face towards Butler, or being bitterly spiteful towards him. Sure, her actions could have been worse. She was at least mostly congenial towards him, but there still was no need for her to look so bitter most of the time.

Predictable. Once the film established the characters and their relationships towards each other, you can pretty much guess what is going to happen, especially since this is a romantic comedy. Would I have liked something a bit more random? I don’t rightly know if I can say that, but I do wish that this could have distanced itself from such a predictable way of playing things out.

These days, it seems that Gerard Butler is doing nothing but rom-coms. He isn’t bad in them, but the guy is better suited for action. The whole time I was watching Playing for Keeps I couldn’t help but feel that he was in pain the whole time, knowing he could do much better. With that in mind, I cannot, in good conscience recommend this. Sure, it has its moments and isn’t totally horrible, but it just seemed like they dug out every former A-list actor that hadn’t had a hit in the last couple of years and slapped them in here with mediocre results. Not a film to totally avoid, but don’t go out of your way to see it. I’m sure it will pop up on television in the next year or two.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Revisited: The Alamo

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins in March 1836 in the Texas town of San Antonio de Bexar (now Downtown San Antonio in the U.S. state of Texas), site of the Alamo, where bodies of Texan defenders and Mexican attackers are strewn over the Alamo. The film then flashes back to a year earlier. Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid) attends a party where he tries to persuade people to migrate to Texas. He meets with Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton), recently defeated for reelection to Congress. Houston explains to Crockett that as an immigrant to Texas, Crockett will receive 640 acres (2.6 km2) [a square mile] of his own choosing. Crockett, with a grin, pointedly asks Houston whether this new republic is going to need a president.

Meanwhile, in San Felipe, Texas, the Texas provisional government is meeting to discuss what action to take after the recent capture by the Texans of the Alamo and Bexar from Mexican forces at the first Battle of San Antonio de Bexar. Texas having rebelled against Mexico and its dictatorial president Santa Anna, who is personally leading an army to retake the Alamo, the Texan War Party calls for the Texas army to depart Bexar, cross into Mexico and confront Mexican forces at the town of Matamoros. The Opposition Party seeks to rebuild the Texan army and establish a permanent government to be recognized by other nations of the world. The provisional government votes out Sam Houston as commander of the Texas army. While having drinks with Jim Bowie later, the disgusted Houston tells Bowie to go to San Antonio and destroy the Alamo.

William Barret Travis (Patrick Wilson) is also in San Felipe, reporting for duty. His character is quickly established as a man who seeks respect as a uniformed military officer, a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army. Interlaced scenes show him granting his wife a divorce (for his adultery, abandonment, and “barbarous treatment”), and seeking to begin a new life in Texas. The Texas provisional government orders him to take command of the Alamo. There he meets Col. James Neill (Brandon Smith), who informs him that Travis will be in command of the Texas Army regulars while Neil is away on leave. Travis, alarmed that the Alamo’s small force cannot withstand the Mexican Army, which is rumored to have thousands of foot soldiers, plus the formidable Mexican cavalry. Again he sends a rider to deliver his plea for reinforcements. More small groups of Texan men arrive, but not enough for the impending battle. Travis oversees preparations for defense against inevitable attack, in hopes that enough reinforcements will arrive.

Crockett arrives in San Antonio, where he tells a crowd, “I told them folks they can go to hell, I’m going to Texas”. He is told that the other defenders are impatient for Santa Anna to arrive now that Crockett is on hand, and Crockett replies, “I understood the fighting was over… Ain’t it?” For the first time in any film about the Alamo or Davy Crockett, the viewer is shown the political aspirations of Crockett and possibly his real intentions for traveling to Texas: not so much to fight for freedom, but to seek new opportunities. The movie implies that he’s caught in the middle and cannot escape. Santa Anna soon arrives in San Antonio, much to the surprise of the Texan fighters, who were not expecting the Mexican Army to arrive until late March or early April. The Texans retire to the Alamo compound despite its vulnerability, and begin fortifying it as best they can. Amid the chaos Travis writes letters asking for reinforcements. Only a couple dozen men arrive to join them.

Santa Ana’s army surrounds the Alamo compound and the siege begins. Bowie leaves the Alamo to meet with Mexican General Manuel Castrillón (Castulo Guerra) to talk things out before they get out of hand. However, an incensed Travis fires the 18-pound cannon on the south-west wall, thus cutting short Bowie’s impromptu attempt at diplomacy; this virtually ends the chance to the forestall the Mexican attack. Bowie returns to tell Travis that Santa Anna has offered surrender at discretion. Travis offers all within the Alamo an opportunity to leave. Almost to a man the defenders decide to stay and fight to the end. At least one woman remains, Mrs. Susanna Dickinson (Laura Clifton), whose husband, Lt. Almeron Dickinson (Stephen Bruton), has decided to stay. Bowie becomes debilitatingly ill and lies in a cot in one of the buildings. For the next several nights the Mexican Army band serenades the Texans with the “Degüello” (slit throat), followed by an artillery bombardment of the surrounded compound. Convinced that the Texans will not leave the Alamo, Santa Ana orders a blood-red signal flag to be raised, the sign for “no quarter”. The flag is visible also to the Alamo’s defenders, who know its meaning.

Bugle calls along the Mexican front line in the predawn darkness awaken the Texans, who rush to their posts. The Texans also hear the battle cry of the Mexican soldiers: “Viva Santa-Ana!” After a long brutal battle the Mexicans, despite taking heavy casualties, breach the north wall of the mission. Travis is killed, shot in the head by a young Mexican soldier storming the north wall. A small group of Mexican engineers, armed with axes and crowbars, assault and break down the boarded-up doors and windows of the west wall, while another small group storms the southwest wall. The few surviving Texans fall back to the buildings; they are all killed. Attackers discover the bedridden Bowie in his room, where he fires his pistols and attempting to fight with his knife. Crockett is taken prisoner. He promises Santa Ana to lead him to Sam Houston for the Mexican Army to surrender and maybe survive; Santa Ana refuses the mocking offer and orders Crockett to be executed.

Days later, after hearing that the Alamo has been taken, Houston, once again in command of the remnants of the Texan army, orders a general retreat eastward. His army and the families of most of the soldiers flee. They are pursued by the victorious Mexican Army, led by the confident Santa Ana. (Historians call this near-panic flight the “Runaway Scrape”.) A few weeks later, Houston halts his retreat near the San Jacinto River (north of the future site of the City of Houston), where he decides to face the Mexicans in a final stand. With the support of two cannons and a small group of mounted Texans (“Tejanos”), Houston’s army surprises Santa Ana’s army during its afternoon siesta. During the ensuing short rout (called by the victors the Battle of San Jacinto), the vengeful Texans massacre at least two hundred Mexican soldiers and capture General Santa Ana—whose identity is given away when Mexican prisoners respond to his presence by whispering “El Presidente”. Santa Anna surrenders to the wounded Houston, and in exchange for his life agrees to order all Mexican troops to withdraw from Texas and to accept Texan independence. The last scene in the movie shows the spirit of Crockett playing his violin on the top of the Alamo and then looking out on the horizon

REVIEW:

Being a native Texan, I have a soft spot for the history of my home state, specifically the story of the great battle that took place at The Alamo. Everytime I’m in the city of San Antonio, there are two things I make sure to do, buy a Spurs shirt and visit the Alamo, complete with historical tour. Does this film inform and entertain the masses about that bloody battle, though, is the question.

What is this about?

Based on actual events, this period drama tells the story of a small Texas mission where, in 1836, nearly 200 men stood their ground for two weeks as they were attacked by Mexican forces led by President Santa Anna.

What did I like?

Story. If you’re watching this film, then chances are you are more than likely doing so because you have at least a fleeting interest in the Alamo and the history surrounding it. This film manages to gives us an interesting take on the bloody battle the spurred and sparked the Texas Revolution. I think some of the facts and whatnot were obviously changed for movie purposes, but this isn’t a documentary, so it can be forgiven to a point.

Sam Houston. Dennis Quaid gives one of the best performances that I’ve seen from him as General Sam Houston. Being a native Texan, it would appear that this was a bit of a passion project for him. He may not have been on screen much, but when he is, you pay attention, especially when it comes to his speech before leading his troops off to the Battle of San Jacinto.

Battle. While it may not have been the best battle scene on the big screen, you cannot deny that when we finally get to the battle for the Alamo, it is intense and powerful. Whether you care or not for these characters, is irrelevant, partially because you know they all die, but it is like a car or train wreck, you can’t help but look in awe. I think the bloody nature of this battle was captured masterfully.

What didn’t I like?

Crockett. I have no problem with Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett. The guy is a native of Tennessee playing a folk hero from that state. Like Quaid with Sam Houston, I believe it was a dream role for him. However, I felt that the film focused too much on him, when it should have been focused on the battalion as a whole. Sure, Crockett and  Thornton are big names, which means they are going to get some major time on screen, which I accept, but there are limits. I don’t think Davy Crockett was conveniently the last survivor, for instance.

Exposition. As a fan of old westerns, I appreciate how this film seemed to be taking that approach used by those films, which is to save everything for the big climax. However, it seemed like this was nothing but senseless exposition. Yes, it developed our major characters and explained the ins and outs of why this battle is important, but it just didn’t seem to resonate with me that way it should. Mayhaps I was just ready for the big battle to happen.

Slaves. This is a minor complaint, but the slaves, actually I think they were servants. It was mentioned that at least one of them wasn’t a slave, but wasn’t free, either. At any rate, the scenes with them seemed to be a bit odd. It felt like the director was trying to go with some comic relief, but it didn’t really work out the way he thought it would.

When all the dust clears, bodies counted, and the armies have moved on, it is clear that The Alamo is not a film that will go down as the greatest ever. Having said that, had a few things been tweaked here and there, it very well could have been. Personally, I love this film, but I love all stories involving the Alamo and Texas history, so there is a bit of a bias there. I implore you to check this out sometime as it is definitely a film you should see before you die!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Caveman

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , on February 25, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Atouk (Starr) is a bullied and scrawny caveman living in “One Zillion BC – October 9th” He lusts after the beautiful but shallow Lana (Bach), who is the mate of Tonda (Matuszak), their tribe’s physically imposing bullying leader. After being banished along with his friend Lar (Quaid), Atouk falls in with a band of assorted misfits, among them the comely Tala (Long) and the elderly blind man Gog (Gilford). The group has ongoing encounters with hungry dinosaurs, and rescues Lar from a “nearby ice age”, where they encounter an abominable snowman. In the course of these adventures they discover sedative drugs, fire, cooking, music, and learn how to walk fully upright. Atouk uses these advancements to lead an attack on Tonda, overthrowing him and becoming the tribe’s new leader. He discards Lana and takes Tala as his mate, and they live happily ever after.

REVIEW:

 When I was in junior high, a friend and I would mess around playing the theme song to this in band. Neither of us had actually seen it at that time, but we both thought it was cool. Now, years later, I still love said theme, and I may like the movie just as much.

For those of you not familiar with Caveman, this is basically a film about the lives of cavemen. The plot revolves around your typical scrawny, misfit that doesn’t fit in and his affection for the tribe hottie, who belongs to the alpha male, if you will.

Something that is quite interesting about this film is the fact that in the 91 minute runtime, only a handful of modern English words are spoken, and those are said as a joke. I heard this and it sort of scared me off. Films that have little to no spoken words don’t usually work for me, but somehow the grunts in this film somehow elicited a different response from me.

If you’ve ever seen Wall-E, then you can sort of get an idea of what to expect. In that film, the only words spoken (in the first hour) are various mechanical noises from Wall-E, Eve, and then that cockroach. That same charm is what makes this flick work, when it could very well have been a snorefest.

Aside from the surprise of not being bored by there not being any actual words in the picture, the physical comedy is what makes this an absolute delight. Even more impressive is that these aren’t comedians doing such a great job.

Sure, Shelly Long has had some comedic roles, but nothing Chevy Chase like, which is what this film basically called for. Also, who thinks of Dennis Quaid when they think comedy? Ringo Starr? Somehow they all work together, though.

One of the things that I wasn’t sure about with this film was the use of stop motion. I’m one of the few people who loves stop motion animation almost as much as traditional hand drawn animation. I love the works of Ray Harryahusen, but he didn’t do this film, but you can tell he influenced the guy that did.

When I first saw the creations he made, I thought they were a bit cartoony. Then I sat back and realized that they fit the tone of the film.

I loved this picture, but, make no mistake, it isn’t for everyone. No, there isn’t anything offensive…unlessy ou have issue with scantily clad, busty cavewomen being treated like possessions by the men, but certain themes are sure to send certain sensitive viewers into a tizzy. That point aside, those of us that aren’t stick in the muds can truly enjoy a film like this and relish in its simplicity. Watch and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Legion

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) falls to Earth in Los Angeles, cuts off his wings, and raids a Korean imports store for a cache of automatic weapons. Confronted by two LAPD officers, one becomes possessed and kills the other. Michael kills the possessed cop and steals his car.

At a roadside diner and garage near the edge of the Mojave Desert are the diner’s owner, Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid), his son Jeep (Lucas Black), the short-order cook Percy (Charles S. Dutton) and a pregnant waitress, Charlie (Adrianne Palicki). Also present is a single father on his way to L.A., Kyle (Tyrese Gibson); an urban married couple, Howard and Sandra Anderson (Jon Tenney and Kate Walsh); and their rebellious and promiscuous teenage daughter, Audrey (Willa Holland).

Soon after, an old woman (Jeanette Miller) arrives and seems pleasant at first, but then begins taunting the diner’s patrons. When Howard tries to reason with her, she rips part of his throat open and climbs up the ceiling like an insect, hisses, revealing she is possessed. Kyle shoots and kills her with a pistol that he was hiding. They try to hurry an injured Howard away in Kyle’s car, but are forced to go back after passing through a swarm of horse flies.

Soon after, Michael arrives and arms the patrons as the entire sky plunges into blackness. Michael leads the patrons to fight off a large number of possessed people that arrive. They drag off Howard and cease their attack. He explains that God has lost faith in mankind and has sent down his angels to annihilate all humanity. He also reveals that Charlie’s baby is deemed to be the savior of mankind, and that it must stay alive if humanity is to have any hope of surviving. Michael also reveals that his original mission was to kill Charlie’s baby, but he disagreed with God’s orders, as he still has faith in the goodness of humanity.

The next morning Sandra discovers Howard crucified upside down behind the restaurant and covered with boils. She tries to rescue him but he violently explodes, killing Percy and driving Sandra insane. That night, a second wave of possessed attack, killing Kyle and pushing a panicked Charlie into labor. She delivers the baby as trumpets sound, signaling the approach of the Archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand), who is leading the attack on humanity. In a panic Sandra breaks her restraints and tries to give the baby to the possessed so Michael kills her.

Moments later, Gabriel is sent by God. When Gabriel reaches the diner he seriously injures Bob, and Michael gives Jeep the keys to the police cruiser he arrived in, urging them to escape. The hordes of possessed humans are unable to approach Charlie’s baby so Jeep, Audrey, Charlie, and her baby make their way to the cruiser. Gabriel and Michael fight, ending with Gabriel stabbing Michael through the chest with his mace. Michael dies and his body disappears. Bob lights a flame to the diner’s gas main, blowing up the diner and destroying himself and the remaining hordes of possessed.

Gabriel survives, and swoops down on the fleeing car. As he tries to reach Charlie, Audrey jumps on him and sacrifices herself after she yells at Jeep to slam on the brakes sending Gabriel through the front windshield as the car crashes. Charlie and Jeep survive with the baby, but Charlie indicates that Audrey did not survive the crash. Gabriel finally corners Jeep and Charlie in the nearby mountains. He is about to kill them when Michael appears from Heaven, an angel once more and stops Gabriel. Michael tells Gabriel that he (Michael) did what God needed, not what God wanted, thus giving humanity another chance. With his angelic powers back, Michael easily defeats Gabriel, but spares his life after which Gabriel leaves, defeated. Michael explains to Jeep that he is the child’s true protector then flies off. Charlie and Jeep make it to the top of the mountain and see a small town in the valley below.

Sometime later, Charlie, Jeep, and the baby are seen driving off into the distance with a car full of guns.

REVIEW:

There have been films about the apocalypse, more and more have been coming out recently. There have also been films about various angels and they’re displeasure with God and desire to be the ones he loves above all else. Also, there have been numerous films about possession and whatnot. Well, Legion combines these three elements, as well some kind of birth of a Savior plotline.

As you can tell by the poster, the major character of this film is the archangel Gabriel, who left Heaven because he didn’t want to follow a specific order given to him (we learn what the order is later on in the film). However, as much as you would think this guy is heavily featured, he isn’t. Basically, if you’ve seen the first 2, or maybe even the third, Terminator films, then you know that even though they are the main character, the flick revolves more around the people they are trying to save, serve, and protect (or kill in the case of The Terminator).

The trailers for this thing were quite misleading. They lead one to believe it was some sort of apocalyptic smackdown, but in fact this may as well have just been a horror flick using Armageddon as a backdrop. There was action, mostly involving guns, but between these scenes are forced to endure these scenes of intense drama that belong in Grey’s Anatomy or some other drama.

The effects were pretty good, but I was hoping for more possessed humans. All we got were the old lady and the ice cream man. All the rest were just human acting possessed with weird teeth. Also, Gabriel and Michael’s wings were pretty impressive, especially the way Gabriel used his as like some sort of shield.

Paul Bettany killed it as Michael, the archangel. I would have liked for him to show a bit more emotion, though. One thing that made no sense, though, was how he was able to sew his wounds up after he cut off is wings. There is no way he could have reached back there, but I guess some things just need to be overlooked.

Adrianne Palicki proves she can do more than be the sexy rebel girl on the TV series Friday Night Lights. If this is any indication of what she can do on the big screen, then we may very well be seeing more of her in the future.

Tyrese disappointed me. Not because he didn’t do a bang up job, but because his character was very stereotypical. The guy comes in driving an Escalade and listening to rap music, then we get the baby mama drama. Oh, and there’s the whole thing about him carrying a piece. It just seemed a bit wrong.

Kate Walsh annoyed the life out of me. I already don’t care for her, but you give her this role and it just makes it worse. I won’t say what happens to her, but let’s just say she gets what’s coming to her.

Dennis Quaid and Charles S. Dutton are their usual perfect on screen selves.

Lucas Black was a surprise. He seemed like the kind of loser who wanted to do right, and that is what he is, but he really made this character interesting and relatable to the audience, something the other actors didn’t do as well.

Legion has its hits and misses, but in the end it comes off as just an average film. It could have been so much better, had they gone in different directions, but since they didn’t, it never really takes off.  I can recommend this, but there is no reason to be in a big rush to see it.

3 out of 5 stars