Archive for Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on April 29, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe star in a dynamic and thrilling twist on a legendary tale. Radical scientist Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) and his equally brilliant protégé Igor Strausman (Radcliffe) share a noble vision of aiding humanity through their groundbreaking research into immortality. But Victor’s experiments go too far, and his obsession has horrifying consequences. Only Igor can bring his friend back from the brink of madness and save him from his monstrous creation.

What people are saying:

“Aiming to do for Victor Frankenstein what Guy Richie did for Sherlock Holmes, set in the past but with a playful, postmodern sensibility that zaps new life into Shelley’s 200 year-old Gothic masterpiece” 4 stars

“To avoid the accusation that it’s an unnecessary remake of an oft-told story, screenwriter Max Landis has reduced Mary Shelly’s cautionary tale to a bad comic book, bereft of soul and intelligence.” 1 star

“A different take on the Frankenstein franchise. This is more of a prequel than the typical Frankenstein movie. Like a lightning storm, some flashes of brilliance and a lot of wind and disaster. Radcliffe was pretty good and McAvoy does a good job of portraying the doctors spiral into obsession and madness. The movie is a bit long and has a completely worthless and misplaced love story. Could have been better, but it is imaginative.” 3 stars

“I expected too much I suppose. By the time we get to the monster, which was probably one of the better Frankensteins I’ve seen, he’s only there for a moment or two and then it’s over. I liked how Igor was more than just a bumbling idiot and how this was somewhat of a partnership, but it’s just a jumbled mess from bottom to top.” 3 stars

“Would have been really good if they kept with the buddy-cop-like-comedy instead pushing some of the dramatic elements. This dialogs between Igor und Dr. Frankenstein are hilarious and most times really good fun.” 4 stars

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Hotel Transylvania

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Dracula (Adam Sandler) is the owner and creator of Hotel Transylvania, a five-star resort where the world’s monsters can be safe from human civilization. Dracula invites some of the most famous monsters like Frankenstein (Kevin James) and his wife Eunice (Fran Drescher), Murray the Mummy (Cee Lo Green), Wayne and Wanda Werewolf (Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade), Bigfoot, Steve the Blob, and other monsters to celebrate the 118th birthday of his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez). However, Mavis prefers to explore the outside world with her father’s permission, but the village he directs her to is actually an elaborate deception to convince her of the threat of humans enough to coax her back.

However, this charade inadvertently attracts the attention of an ordinary young traveler named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) who was exploring the surrounding forest and followed the staff to the hotel. Once Jonathan enters the hotel, Dracula frantically attempts to hide him from the patrons such as disguising him as a Flesh Golem named Johnny-stein with the later hasty cover story of being a relative of one of Frank’s body parts. Eventually, Jonathan is discovered by Mavis and company, forcing Dracula to claim he is going to arrange Mavis’ birthday party with a young perspective. In doing so, Jonathan manages to charm everyone at the hotel, especially Mavis. Eventually, even Dracula begins to like the human taking him into his confidence about his family’s traumatic past after the vampire notices the young man knows something about them in a respectful manner.

Unfortunately, Chef Quasimodo Wilson (Jon Lovitz) realizes Jonathan is human and captures him to cook him, forcing Dracula to directly intervene by magically freezing the chef. Eventually, the birthday party happens and it is a raucous success until Dracula freaks out when Mavis and Jonathan have an innocent kiss. A ranting Dracula accidentally lets it slip that he tricked Mavis at the fake village and Mavis is outraged at being manipulated by her own father. Things get worse when a still-frozen Chef Quasimodo interrupts the party as the Fly (Chris Parnell) translates his frozen language to the clientele which states that Jonathan is actually a human. Even as the clientele are revolted, Mavis still accepts and expresses her desire to be with Jonathan even though he is human. For his part, Jonathan feels obliged to reject Mavis for her father’s sake and leaves the hotel. Afterward, Dracula realizes that in his efforts to protect Mavis, he has broken her heart and now she tearfully wants to stay at the hotel forever.

Wishing to undo his mistake, Dracula persuades his friends to help him find Jonathan and even risks his destruction by venturing out in the daylight to do so. Learning that Jonathan is about to board a flight out of Transylvania Airport shortly, they race on and enter a town en route. At that town, Dracula and company are stunned to see the humans having a ‘Monster Festival’. To clear a path, Frankenstein tries to scare them, but finds the humans are cheerfully welcoming them instead and even provide a shaded route through the town for Dracula to proceed at maximum speed.

However, Dracula finds that he is too late with Jonathan’s plane taking off. With no alternative, Dracula desperately flies after it in broad daylight despite being hurt by the sun. With much effort, Dracula manages to reach the plane and resorts to mind-controlling one of the pilots (Brian Stack) to apologize and tell Jonathan that he wants him to return to be with his daughter. Jonathan accepts Dracula’s apology and Dracula manipulates the plane back to the airport.

Later, Dracula returns Jonathan to Mavis, who tells her that she’s his ‘zing’ and the reason why he had to reject her. Dracula gives his blessing to their relationship, Jonathan and Mavis kiss and the hotel has another party to celebrate his daughter’s liberating coming of age before Jonathan and Mavis set off on their travels.

The film ends with Dracula and his friends being shown in traditional animation (in the style of Genndy Tartakovsky’s cartoons) during the credits

REVIEW:

Given the bad rap monsters, especially vampires, werewolves and, to a lesser extent, zombies seem to be getting these days, it is nice to know that someone out there knows and respects their legacies enough to given them a film that isn’t insulting to everything we know about them. Sure, Hotel Transylvania may be a kids film, but there are no sparkling vampires who somehow manage to survive in the daylight here, nor are there any werewolves who do nothing but stalk unattractive emo chicks.

What is this about?

Hotel Transylvania owner Dracula (Adam Sandler) pulls double duty as an overprotective dad when an unwelcome suitor (Andy Samberg) shows interest in his teenage daughter (Selena Gomez). All the while, he’s hosting world-famous monster guests like Frankenstein, his bride and a werewolf family.

What did I like?

The gang’s all here. Pick a monster, any monster, and you’re sure to see them in the film, whether it be in a cameo or major role. I think the only ones missing were the more mythological creatures like minotaurs, centaurs, harpies, and the like, but there is a cyclops and a hydra to make up or fill the void.

Father knows best. For years, Adam Sandler has been trying to do a sensitive dad role and also use that voice he does in all of his films. Finally, all that practice has paid off! Sandler is such an animated person that it takes him being animated to get a truly great performance from him. Ironically, with the exception of that 9/11 dram he did, this is the most subdued character he’s played. That’s a good thing, as I think an insane acting man-child version of Dracula wouldn’t have gone over as well with the audience or with a “teenage” daughter. The relationship with his daughter is the heart of this film. If that didn’t work, then this flick wouldn’t have any legs to stand on.

Animation. Back when Cartoon Network was actually worth watching cartoon on, they had shows like Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory, and The Powerpuff Girls. All of these were done by the director of this film, Genndy Tartakovsky. I never really noticed it until the final credits were rolling, but the characters do have the design of one of his cartoons. Man, I miss his style of animation. Not to mention cartoons that were actually fun to watch, not just odd.

Dracula. As I mentioned before, Adam Sandler surprisingly gives a really good performance, but what is more impressive is the character design. Most iterations of Dracula are that of a tall, slender man with an imposing presence, not to mention his ability to bend the will the regular human and turn into a bat. The whole moving tables around and freezing people is new, but I like it.

What didn’t I like?

Kids. The kids annoyed the hell out of me. Mavis is fine, she’s just a teenage girl trapped in a castle wanting to get out and see the world. It happens. However, the wolf kids are representative of how unruly and disrespectful children are today. Johnny annoyed me in every way imaginable. First of all, he’s voiced by that no talent hack Andy Samberg, who is nothing more than an Adam Sandler wannabe and is a big reason Saturday Night Live hasn’t been funny for the past few years. This character though just seems to think his way is right, which it isn’t. The way he just walks in to the hotel just wasn’t a good introduction to him and he never recovered in my eyes.

Humans. Aside from John, we have the humans at the monster festival. Now, there is nothing specifically wrong with these people. It is basically just a comic con for people who like monsters. However, the fact that they have little to no reaction to Dracula and his pals is a little disconcerting. On the one hand, they are at a convention where everyone is dressed as monsters, so there is that little bit of disbelief expected. However, on the other hand, these are the real deal! Have we become that disenfranchised and dead to these guys that they are akin to stuffed animals? It sure seems like it. Such a shame, really.

Hotel Transylvania is one of the films that I really wanted to see when it came out, but because of scheduling, I never got around to it. I really do wish I had gotten to see this in theaters. I may have even paid the 3D price. This, along with ParaNorman and from the looks of it Frankenweenie (which I will be getting to soon) could make for some good Halloween movies for kids. Something that we haven’t really had in quite some time. I highly recommend this as it is truly an enjoyable film for everyone. Be on the lookout for the jab at Twilight late in flick. On a final note, does anyone know where it is that we all starting assuming Dracula said, “bleh, bleh”?

5 out of 5 stars

Bride of Frankenstein

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On a stormy night, Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Walton) and Lord Byron (Gavin Gordon) praise Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester) for her story of Frankenstein and his Monster. Reminding them that her intention was to impart a moral lesson, Mary says she has more of the story to tell. The scene shifts to the end of the 1931 Frankenstein.

Villagers gathered around the burning windmill cheer the apparent death of the Monster (Boris Karloff, credited as “Karloff”). Their joy is tempered by the realization that Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is also apparently dead. Hans (Reginald Barlow), father of the girl the creature drowned in the previous film, wants to see the Monster’s bones. He falls into a pit underneath the mill, where the Monster strangles him. Hauling himself from the pit, the Monster casts Hans’ wife (Mary Gordon) into it to her death. He next encounters Minnie (Una O’Connor), who flees in terror.

Henry’s body is returned to his fiancée Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson) at his ancestral castle home. Minnie arrives to sound the alarm about the Monster but her warning goes unheeded. Elizabeth, seeing Henry move, realizes he is still alive. Nursed back to health by Elizabeth, Henry has renounced his creation but still believes he may be destined to unlock the secret of life and immortality. A hysterical Elizabeth cries that she sees death coming, foreshadowing the arrival of Henry’s former mentor, Doctor Septimus Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger). In his rooms, Pretorius shows Henry several homunculi he has created, including a miniature queen, king, archbishop, devil, ballerina and mermaid. Pretorius wishes to work with Henry to create a mate for the Monster and offers a toast to their venture: “To a new world of gods and monsters!” Pretorius threatens to expose Henry’s part in the Monster’s creation if he doesn’t help with creating a mate for the monster. Pretorius tells Henry that he will get the right parts for the body while Pretorius grows an artificial brain.

The Monster saves a young shepherdess (Anne Darling) from drowning. Her screams upon seeing him alert two hunters, who shoot and injure the creature. The hunters raise a mob that sets out in pursuit. Captured and trussed to a pole, the Monster is hauled to a dungeon and chained. Left alone, he breaks his chains and escapes.

That night the Monster encounters a gypsy family and burns his hand in their campfire. Following the sound of a violin playing “Ave Maria”, the Monster encounters an old blind hermit (O. P. Heggie) who thanks God for sending him a friend. He teaches the monster words like “friend” and “good” and shares a meal with him. Two lost hunters stumble upon the cottage and recognize the Monster. He attacks them and accidentally burns down the cottage as the hunters lead the hermit away.

Taking refuge from another angry mob in an underground crypt, the Monster spies Pretorius and his cronies Karl (Dwight Frye) and Ludwig (Ted Billings) breaking open a grave. The henchmen depart as Pretorius stays to enjoy a light supper. The Monster approaches Pretorius, and learns that Pretorius plans to create a mate for him.

Henry and Elizabeth, now married, are visited by Pretorius. He is ready for Henry to do his part in their “grand collaboration”. Henry refuses and Pretorius calls in the Monster who demands Henry’s help. Henry again refuses and Pretorius orders the Monster out signaling him to kidnap Elizabeth. Pretorius guarantees her safe return upon Henry’s participation. Henry returns to his tower laboratory where in spite of himself he grows excited over his work. After being assured of Elizabeth’s safety, Henry completes the Bride’s body.

A storm rages as final preparations are made to bring the Bride to life. Her bandage-wrapped body is raised through the roof. Lightning strikes a kite, sending electricity through the Bride. Henry and Pretorius lower her and realize their success. “She’s alive! Alive!” Henry cries. They remove her bandages and help her to stand. “The bride of Frankenstein!” Doctor Pretorius declares.

The excited Monster sees his mate (Elsa Lanchester) and reaches out to her. “Friend?” he asks as he slowly approaches. The Bride screams rejecting him even when he makes an advance on her. “She hate me! Like others” the Monster dejectedly says. As Elizabeth races to Henry’s side, the Monster rampages through the laboratory grabs onto the lever. When Henry doesn’t want to leave Pretorius, the Monster quotes to Henry and Elizabeth “Yes! Go! You live!” To Pretorius and the Bride, he says “You stay. We belong dead.” While Henry and Elizabeth flee, the Monster sheds a tear as the Bride hisses at him and pulls a lever to trigger the destruction of the laboratory and tower. Henry comforts Elizabeth after the tower is destroyed

REVIEW:

 Bride of Frankenstein picks up immediately where  Frankenstein left off.

This will be a relatively brief review, as I am in a bit of a rush…I apologize.

I think we are fairly familiar with this story. Frankenstein’s monster is lonely, so his creator and a madman mentor decide to create a mate. You’d think they would have learned this can lead to nothing but bad things.

The film, on its way to the climactic bringing to “life” of the bride seems to be an endless series of ways the monster can cause havoc on accident, while infuriating the townspeople, who are already after him.

I haven’t read the book, but it just seems like they could have done something more with him than basically reducing him to a giant Dennis the Menace, if you will.

When the bride is finally revealed, I couldn’t help but picture Helena Bonham Carter. Don’t ask me why, I just did.

As with many classic films, you have to set aside your modern-day way of thinking, otherwise you’ll be bored. By today’s standards, Bride of Frankenstein drags on a bit, but when this film was released, you can bet audiences were on the edge of their seat for every minute.

Some have said this is a superior film to Frankenstein. I can’t agree with that statement. For me, this was just a sad attempt to inject a female monster into the mix filled with males such as Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, etc. Regardless of whether the book came first or not, that is just what it felt like to me. Kind of like the way Arcee was forced down our throats starting in Transformers: The Movie and continuing today. Would I recommend this to anyone? Yes, but with reservations. If you have the choice, go for Frankenstein, but you won’t necessarily go wrong with Bride of Frankenstein.

3 out of 5 stars

The Monster Squad

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The Monster Squad is a society of young pre-teens who idolize classic monsters and monster movies. In addition to a clubhouse in a tree, they actually have their own business cards. Club leader Sean (Andre Gower), whose five-year-old sister Phoebe (Ashley Bank) desperately wants to join the club, is given the diary of legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing (Jack Gwillim) – but his excitement is somewhat toned down when he finds it’s written in German. Sean, his best friend Patrick (Robby Kiger), and the rest of the Monster Squad get their local “Scary German Guy” (Leonardo Cimino) to translate the diary. (When he is asked how he knows so much, he tells them cryptically that he has “some experience with monsters.” When the children leave his home and he closes the front door, a concentration-camp number tattoo is revealed on his forearm.)

The diary describes, in great detail, an amulet that is composed of concentrated good. One day out of every century, as the forces of good and evil reach a balance, the otherwise-indestructible amulet becomes vulnerable to destruction. The next day of balance falls within a couple days, at the stroke of midnight.

The kids realize they must gain possession of the amulet before the day of balance arrives; once they have the amulet, the kids can use it — with an incantation from Van Helsing’s diary — to open a hole in the universe and cast the monsters into Limbo. As shown in the prelude, van Helsing had unsuccessfully attempted this one hundred years ago in order to defeat his old adversary Count Dracula; he subsequently hid the amulet in America, where it was out of Dracula’s immediate reach. Dracula, meanwhile, must obtain the amulet before the Monster Squad does, so that the Count can take control of the world. To this end he assembles several monstrous allies: Frankenstein’s monster, a werewolf (an unwilling participant in his human form), a mummy, and an amphibious gill-man, in addition to three young women (Mary Albee, Joan-Carrol Baron, and Julie Merrill) whom the Count transforms into his vampiric consorts. The next day, Frankenstein’s monster is wandering in the forest where he encounters Phoebe. Rather than being afraid, she shows him the kindness he has also sought, and he get acquainted with and becomes a member of the Monster Squad.

The amulet turns out to be buried in a stone room, under a house that Dracula and the other monsters now occupy. The aforementioned room is littered with holy symbols, including crucifixes, which prevent the monsters from simply taking it. However, once removed from its secure location, nothing stands in the way of Dracula taking it. The German Guy informs them that the incantation must be read by a female virgin on holy ground, on which neither Dracula nor any of his minions can set foot. As midnight approaches, the Squad makes their way to a local cathedral — and in the nick of time, as shortly after they leave, Dracula destroys their clubhouse with a stick of dynamite. This also calls up another helper for the Monster Squad: Sean’s father, Police Detective Del, who has been charged to investigate the strange happenings in town off late (as caused by Dracula’s cohorts) but has been quite skeptical about their supernatural causes, not to mention Sean’s hobby, in the first place.

Unfortunately, the doors to the cathedral are locked, so the incantation must be read on the stoop, leaving them vulnerable. The Monster Squad has the assistance of Sean’s father and Patrick’s older sister (Lisa Fuller), as she’s the only virgin they know who speaks German. Unfortunately, with time winding down, the incantation fails. Lisa reveals that she is not only failing German, but is also no longer a virgin. As Dracula’s Brides and the other monsters close in, it is realized that Phoebe, being five, must still be a virgin, and the German Guy attempts to help her read the incantation as the rest of the squad fends off the monsters.

In the ensuing battle, the vampiresses, the Mummy, the Gill-Man, and the Wolf-Man (who reverts to human form after being shot with a silver bullet by Rudy, thanking him for ending his suffering) are killed. Dracula arrives and stuns the German Guy. He is about to kill Phoebe when the Frankenstein Creature betrays him, impaling him on a wrought-iron fence. Phoebe finishes the incantation, opening the portal which begins to consume the bodies of the monsters. Dracula, still alive, attempts to drag Sean in with him, but Sean is saved at the last minute by his father and Van Helsing, who escaped from limbo to capture Dracula. Although Phoebe tries tearfully to hold onto him, Frankenstein’s Creature is the last to be sucked through the portal, which closes, ensuring the world’s safety.

REVIEW:

I guess I should have known there wasn’t going to be much to this thing when the biggest name to come up in the opening credits was Jason Hervey, best known as the big brother from The Wonder Years. Believe it or not, the film didn’t get much better after that.

I think my opinion of this is more related to expectation rather than reality, but I was highly disappointed in what I saw this afternoon. I mean, I wasn’t expecting anything too special, but for some reason, I thought this would be more on the level on The Goonies, but instead of searching for treasure, they were fighting monsters. Maybe that would have been a better idea that what this mess was.

The good…the wolf-man. Plain and simple, he’s the only character worth mentioning, to be honest. The filmmakers decided to go more with a Jekyll & Hyde version of the werewolf, and it worked. We on;y get to see him transform. No, it isn’t on par with some other werewolf transformations seen on camera, but it’s far being one of the worst.

The bad…look, if I sit here and list everything bad about this picture, we’ll be here until the cows come home, but the major wrongs are a bad story/script, special effects that look like they were bought out of a gumball machine (which is bad…even for the 80s), and actors that don’t sell their characters.

I know there are thousands out there that have made this a cult classic. Many of them are likely to hunt me down for not loving this flick, but I just can’t bring myself to do so. Often times there are bad films that are so bad, they’re good. This is one of those that is so bad it is bad. I can’t belive they actually wasted the time restoring it and putting it on DVD. There are so many other better films that those resources could have been used on. Don’t waste your time with this one, unless you’re a fan.

2 out of 5 stars

Death Race

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

By 2012 the economy of the United States has fallen into disaster, unemployment, and crime are on the rise, and private corporations run most prisons across the nation for profit. The movie focuses on the Terminal Island Prison, which broadcasts “Death Race” to the world via a popular paysite on the Internet. Death Race is not only a race to the finish line, but a battle pitting driver against driver for survival.

The film begins by showing a race near its end between Machine Gun Joe (Tyrese Gibson) and a famous masked driver known as Frankenstein (David Carradine in a voice-over cameo appearance), who is accompanied by a female navigator. During the race, Frankenstein’s car’s defensive systems stop working and he orders his navigator to “drop the tombstone”, a 6 inch steel plate in the rear of the car; dropping it disconnects it from the car, tumbling it towards Joe. Joe’s Dodge Ram is heavily damaged but he manages to destroy Frankenstein’s car since, with the tombstone gone, the car’s fuel tank is exposed. Frankenstein’s navigator ejects, leaving him to race alone to the finish line. Joe fires a volley of rocket-propelled grenades toward Frankenstein’s car, which is blown over the finish line in a flaming inferno leaving Frankenstein critically wounded, or dead.

Jensen Ames (Jason Statham) is framed for his wife’s murder on the same day that the steel mill he works at closes; the murderer is actually a masked intruder that points a finger-gun at Ames as he leaves. Ames is sent to prison where he immediately makes enemies by fighting with a white supremacist gang, led by Pachenko (Max Ryan). He is taken to Hennessey (Joan Allen) who tells him that those men will kill him without her help. Thus he is coerced by the warden to become the new driver of Frankenstein’s 2005 Ford Mustang. The warden tells Ames that she knows about his baby daughter left in foster care. She also states that prisoners are freed upon winning five Death Races, but since he will take on the mask of the legendary Frankenstein, who had 4 wins at the time of his death, he will only need to win one race.

The races are broken into three stages: Stages 1 and 2 are races in which the driver must merely survive, and Stage 3 the driver must win the race in order for it to count toward his freedom. The track’s features [devices that activate either defensive or offensive weapons] are controlled by the prison warden and can be enabled or disabled at her command.

Ames meets his pit crew, Coach (Ian McShane) his crew chief who has been eligible for parole for three years. “Gunner” (Jacob Vargas) the mechanic for his car, and “Lists” (Frederick Koehler), who has background info on all the drivers. Lists tells Ames about the other drivers, including Hector Grimm (Robert LaSardo) AKA “The Grimm Reaper”, described as ‘a clinical psychopath and mass murderer’; Travis Colt (Justin Mader) an ex-NASCAR driver trying to regain his fame; 14K (Robin Shou) a tenth generation Triad and considered to be the smartest in the prison because he’s the only one with a degree from MIT. Ames also learns that Pachenko is the driver for the gang he fought with earlier and that no one knows just how many people Pachenko’s killed off the track.

Just before the Stage 1 Race, Ames is introduced to his navigator, Case (Natalie Martinez), who was also the previous Frankenstein’s navigator. During the race, Ames sees Pachenko make the same hand gesture as the intruder that killed his wife. Driver Siad is killed when his car is impaled on a device known as a ‘Deathhead’ and exploded as the Deathhead descends back into its slot. Travis Colt is killed when, after Ames’ car’s defensive systems fail, he uses the navigator’s ejector seat to launch a napalm canister toward Colt’s Jaguar XJS, after which Case ignites the napalm with a cigarette lighter. Grimm is killed after crawling from his wrecked Chrysler 300 when Machine Gun Joe’s Gatling gun decapitates him while Joe is traveling at high speeds. Ames finishes last after taking a hard hit from Machine Gun Joe.

Ames learns he is part of a plot to keep the legend of Frankenstein alive solely for the personal profit of warden Hennessey. He confronts Hennessey about the driver he believes is responsible for his wife’s death, but instead of acting on this information she shows him pictures of his daughter living with foster parents, asking him if he thinks he could provide for his child better than they could. Furious, he takes one of the pictures and leaves. The night before Stage 2 of the race he makes a trip to the Pachenko’s team’s pit to confront him. He is then ambushed by Pachenko but is helped by Lists who stabs Pachenko in the back with a pen, allowing Ames to retaliate, but his revenge is thwarted by head prison guard Ulrich (Jason Clarke) who tells both men to ‘save it for the race’.

Ames goes into Stage 2 of the race and immediately questions his navigator Case on her intentions, threatening to eject her into the ceiling of a tunnel if she does not answer truthfully. She tells him she was ordered to sabotage the previous Frankenstein’s defense weapons so he would not win his freedom, promised that she would earn her own. Ames realizes he is not meant to survive the Death Race at all, but is meant to die so another “Frankenstein” can be brought into the prison and his purpose is ‘just to make it exciting’. He realizes that one way or another Hennessey will sabotage any driver that gets close to winning five races and will allow no one to leave the contest alive. He causes Pachenko’s Buick Riviera to crash and roll, allowing him another opportunity for revenge. Pachenko crawls away from the car wreck, pleading with Ames and saying that Hennessey made him kill. Ames replies that “She’s next” and snaps Pachenko’s neck. Five drivers remain until 14K, Carson, and Riggins are killed by ‘the Dreadnought’, the warden’s secret weapon, (an 18 wheel tank truck filled with assorted weapons) that had been secretly in production for months. Ames and Machine Gun Joe collaborate to destroy the Dreadnought using one of the Deathheads and finish Stage 2. Realizing that Ames knows what’s going on, Hennessey orders Ulrich to plant an explosive under Ames’ car before Stage 3 of the Death Race to ensure that Ames does not cross the finish line alive. However, Ames devises his own scheme when Coach shows him a video of Grimm’s death, highlighting that Grimm’s car collided with a particular billboard in the earlier race. Ames then meets with Joe, who now suspects him to be “Frankenstein” and tells Joe that Joe and Frankenstein should talk.

The Stage 3 Race begins with only two drivers remaining: “Frankenstein” and Machine Gun Joe. The race begins, and Ames soon takes the lead but the warden rigs the track to benefit Joe to Ames’ disadvantage. Throughout the entire lap, Joe stays on Ames’ tail, hammering him with bullets; Ames drops the ‘tombstone’ again, but Joe dodges it without taking damage. As they near the beginning of the second lap, Joe preps newly added missiles and fires an RPG in Ames’ direction, seemingly with the intent to kill him. However, they miss the car and instead hit the billboard at the first turn of the track. It is shown that the Ames saw a pathway to the bridge leading off the island behind the destroyed billboard in the video he and his crew reviewed previously.

Ames and Joe escape onto the bridge, pursued by police cruisers and helicopters. As the police close in on the two cars, Ames releases his exposed fuel tank, causing it to explode and stop the pursuing cars. (Gunner had equipped Ames with an extra half-gallon tank for his escape). Hennessey then orders that the explosive under Ames’ car be set off, but nothing happens because Coach had found, removed, and deactivated the bomb prior to the start of the race, proclaiming “nobody fucks with my car.” Escaping past the bridge, Joe and Ames separate, and Hennessey orders the helicopters to focus on ‘Frankenstein’, but he switches seats with Case when she tells him that Hennessey had already signed her release papers, and that she ‘owed one’ to the old Frankenstein. He bails out of the car without being seen, making the helicopters believe he is still inside. Joe meets up with Ames and they board a train to escape, lamenting on Hennessey’s continued existence. Soon, Ames’ Mustang is stopped and Case, posing as Frankenstein, is apprehended.

Later, Hennessey exults in the high ratings and revenue and the supposed apprehension of ‘Frankenstein’. Ulrich then hands her a present sent to her for the record number of viewers subscribing to the Death Race. However, the explosive that was put on the Frankenstein car is inside the box and Coach detonates it remotely, stating directly into the camera, “I love this game.”

Six months later, Ames and Joe are shown working on a car in a junkyard in Mexico, when Case unexpectedly arrives. The two men are happy to see her, and Case hugs Ames, and he shows her his baby daughter. The movie closes with Ames explaining that even though he knows he’s far from being the best parent in the world, no one could love his child more than he could.

REVIEW:

I’ll admit that when I saw the trailer for this film over the summer, I didn’t know what to think, so I stayed away from it in the theater. I just finished watching it on DVD and I have to say, I was impressed.

I’m not too familiar with Jason Statham’s work. I know he’s been in a lot of action films, such as The Trainsporter franchise, but this is the first film I’ve actually watched with him in it. Taking into consideration that he doesn’t really need to do anything other than look pissed for most of the movie, he works perfectly in this role. Not to mention, the dude has a body I only could only wish for.

Joan Allen is positively bitchy as the warden. A far cry from her role as the mother in Pleasantville.

Tyrese Gibson, while not a mainstream actor, holds his own as Machine Gun Joe. His acting chops are getting as good as his modeling skills were at one time.

Natalie Martinez adds a nice bit of eye candy to the screen. As much as I hate to say that’s all she was good for, it’s true. Her role as the navigator isn’t much more than glorified pin-up girl riding shotgun.

Make no mistake, this movie screams adrenaline and testosterone and nothing else. If you’re not a fan of blood, sweat, cars, action, and blowing stuff up, then stay away from this film. However, if you are, then you will love it. I know I did!

4 out of 5 stars