Archive for Giancarlo Esposito

The Jungle Book (2016)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Inspired by the animated Disney classic, this live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved novel follows young Mowgli as he navigates a jungle full of wonder and peril with his animal allies Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear.

What people are saying:

“Exceptionally beautiful to behold and bolstered by a stellar vocal cast, this umpteenth film rendition of Rudyard Kipling’s tales of young Mowgli’s adventures amongst the creatures of the Indian jungle proves entirely engaging, even if it’s ultimately lacking in subtext and thematic heft” 5 stars

“It’s not like we don’t all already know this story backward and forward, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from giving this remake a chance. It’s visually beautiful, and I loved that they kept some of the music from the original animated Disney version. Neel Sethi is a perfect Mowgli and the casting of the voice actors is pretty much spot on. ” 4 stars

“By the time its evolution is complete, The Jungle Book has proven itself a minor Darwinian miracle, perhaps the oddest of all species: a movie nearly devoid of human beings, yet one bursting with humanity.” 4 1/2 stars

“Meh. While I was pretty impressed by this film on a technical and visual level, this film didn’t work nearly as well for me as it did for other people. The writing was lazy and there was no connection between the characters. Nothing was better done here than the book or even the animated one.Some will disagree with me but while Christopher Walken as King Louie was better than I thought, I still can’t get into Bill Murray as Baloo. Bill Murray is a very funny guy but I never saw a character in his performance, I just heard Bill Murray’s voice out of this bear and I found it quite distracting. Personally, I would’ve asked for a movie that had the Disney spirit but kept some of the brilliant themes and ideas from the book by Rudyard Kipling. I guess if I’ll give this 2016 version anything…….at least its not the 1994 Stephen Sommer’s version?” 2 1/2 stars

“Amazing! Where reality laves off and fantasy takes over is seamlessly executed and the movie transports you through an unforgettable journey. We watched this as established fans of Kipling, appreciating the tragedies of his life along with the magnificence of his writing; while the movie is an art form unto its own, it captures Kipling and wrings your heart as it unfolds. We watched it twice, the second time leaving no lesser impression. A film for all ages.” 5 stars

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Batman: Assault on Arkham

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Being locked away in Arkham has little effect on Joker and his latest desire to detonate a dirty bomb within Gotham. The clock begins to tick and a deadly triangle unfolds as Amanda Waller unleashes Task Force X to save the day…while Batman has his own plans for salvation.

What people are saying:

“…gleefully immoral” heist film which, having “no real [plot] arc to speak of”, relies on its violent action and clever character dynamics within the Suicide Squad to carry it. Due to its villainous protagonists, dark comedy, and sexual content, Mendelson considers the production of Assault on Arkham an experimental decision by DC, and a successful experiment as it tells a style of comic book story that would never get approval as a live-action project” 4 1/2 stars

“DC Entertainment thrills with one of its boldest and mature films yet while finally figuring out the secret to telling engaging and fun adventures of DC Comic characters beyond Batman and the Justice League.” 4 stars

“The versions of the characters are well done and the voice-work is as good as always for DC comics animation, the story has a good set-up and some nice twists and turns, but it feels like more could have been done with the characters and the small moments of development some have don’t quite work. Also the whole thing is over-the-top in its machismo, at times to the point of parody.” 3 stars

“A little dumb and rushed at times, Batman: Assault on Arkham seems to be fan service for both the comic book fans and for the teenage boys watching it. Some of the charters are completely useless, like that communist that even got his own title card and everything that dies in less than half an hour into the film. And the plot has to revolve around batman not the side-characters this film was made to showcase, the dubbing of the animation can be terrible at worst and bad at best. But with that said the fight scenes are cool and the story is creative. all in all this is an OK movie worth checking out.” 3 1/2 stars

“The animation team at DC did a good job with this feature. It is like a darker, adult version of the Batman universe more akin to Chris Nolan’s “Dark Knight” Trilogy. I really liked how they merged the elements of the superhero genre with the tropes of a heist film (with the various surprises and complications, switched allegiances, Deadshot as the jaded leader who has done missions hundreds of times, Captain Boomerang being the rebellious new guy, Harley Quinn as the crazy, untrustworthy one who could easily FUBAR the mission, King Shark as the muscle, etc.). It also included plenty of great action and numerous cool little node to the “Arkham” games. The voice casting is almost spot-on, too, with the only exception being Matthew Gray Gubler sounding a little off as the Riddler. I just had a couple of minor issues with the film, though; they detract from the overall movie, but do not derail it from being entertaining. First, I think they over-sexualized Harley Quinn (even more so than the “Arkham” series the movie is based on) with no compelling reasoning behind this move. Secondly, while it gets course-corrected in the last ten minutes of the film, the climax ends up devolving into a retread of the main “breakout” plot of the first “Arkham Asylum,” which was disappointing after all of the other elements in the film (including the interesting plot, for the most part) were so new and shocking compared the previous animated DC films.” 4 1/2 stars

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this next chapter of the epic “Maze Runner” saga, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers face their greatest challenge yet: searching for clues about the mysterious and powerful organization known as WCKD. Their journey takes them to the Scorch, a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles. Teaming up with resistance fighters, the Gladers take on WCKD’s vastly superior forces and uncover its shocking plans for them all.

What people are saying:

“The special effects and production design provide powerful visuals and the idea of post apocalyptic zombies is alluring but the plot drags on without much to say or do and the ending is unsatisfying.” 2 stars

“What do you get when you cross Mockingjay part 2 with The walking dead? You get this very confusing movie in the second of three movies of the maze runner trilogy. The movie is basically kids running from zombies, kids running from everything – and then we have a huge battle and poof, let’s get ready for the third installation” 2 stars

“The Scorch Trials returns with its fast pacing and its diverse characters, but the running seems to be becoming more aimless. Not to mention, the casting of Game of Thrones characters in hopes of scoring points with critics has returned…and it is an utter failure.” 3 stars

“As a surprising fan of the original Maze Runner film, I was quite excited to see where the story would take me. It turns out, the sequel doesn’t have much to do. It runs out of gas with a series of endless chase scenes and a bland plot. Surprisingly too, the film is almost relentlessly bleak and while there are exciting moments, there isn’t much character development or humor. While the first was solid, this follow-up doesn’t reach Catching Fire levels of dystopian smarts. ” 2 1/2 stars

“I guess that if you’re younger than 25 this movie might have some appeal for you, maybe. I liked the first movie, and having to figure out what was going on, how our heroes would make it. This movie had none of that. Some kind of mashup combination of this and that — and c’mon! zombies?!!!! Weak in so (too) many areas. The kids haven’t learned to act yet. I queued this one up because it was a sequel and I was looking forward to seeing where the story went. Greatly disappointed. If Divergent and Hunger games are 10’s, and Maze Runner was an 8, this one is a 3. I quit watching this mess after an hour and a half — and I was sorry that I watched any of it, sorry that they did this to the Maze Runner.  ” 2 stars

Son of Batman

Posted in Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At the headquarters of the League of Assassins, Ra’s al Ghul grooms Damian Wayne (son of his daughter, Talia, and Batman) to succeed him as head of the league. The league is attacked by a group of assassins led by Slade Wilson, Ra’s al Ghul’s initial choice for successor before Ra’s met Batman. Feeling betrayed, Slade decided to seize power. During the battle Ra’s is fatally wounded, dying before he reaches the Lazarus Pit. Although Damian stabs Slade in the eye, Slade escapes. Talia takes Damian to Gotham City to protect him.

In Gotham City, Batman confronts Killer Croc, whom Talia subdues. She tells Batman about her father’s death and leaves their son in his care. Although Damian wants to avenge Ra’s al Ghul by killing Slade, Batman objects. Slade, now calling himself Deathstroke, captures Dr. Kirk Langstrom and his family to force him to recreate the Man-Bat formula. Batman follows a lead about the formula’s mutagen to Langstrom’s apartment, where he finds evidence of Deathstroke’s involvement. Talia is captured by Deathstroke when she attacks him.

Against Batman’s orders, Damian leaves the Batcave and defeats one of Deathstroke’s men. Before Damian kills him, Nightwing arrives, mistakes him for a criminal and subdues him before bringing him back to the Batcave. Batman berates Damian for his recklessness, willingness to kill and exposure of their operation, and makes him Robin to teach him discipline. Commissioner Gordon warns them about an abandoned stadium believed to house Deathstroke’s men.

At the stadium, Batman and Damian question Langstrom but are attacked when Damian becomes violent. In the cave, Langstrom reveals Deathstroke’s plan to create superhuman, flight-capable assassins. While Nightwing works with Langstrom on an antidote, Batman and Damian rescue his family. Batman guesses that Talia has been abducted when he finds evidence of torture in an empty cell, but is unaware that Deathstroke challenged Damian to a duel in exchange for Talia’s life.

Nightwing learns that Deathstroke is operating in an oil rig off the United Kingdom coast, and when Batman is distracted Damian goes to the rig. He finds Deathstroke and Talia in an underwater base with a swarm of Man-Bats and another Lazarus Pit, whose fluid Deathstroke intends to sell. Damian pulls a gun on Deathstroke, who holds one against Talia’s head. Damian drops his gun; Deathstroke fires at him, but Talia jumps out and takes the shot. As Deathstroke corners Damian, Batman appears and the Man-Bats attack. Batman wards them off with sonar-emitting devices, and Deathstroke flees.

Batman takes Talia into the Lazarus Pit, while Nightwing and Langstrom reach the oil rig and cure the Man-Bats. Damian defeats Deathstroke, refusing to kill him because he is his father’s son. The elevator from the rig to the underwater base is destroyed, flooding the base. Batman, Talia and Damian escape, but Deathstroke is left behind. Batman and Talia argue over Damian. She decides to let him care for their son, and leaves with the League of Assassins

REVIEW:

Anybody that knows anything about Batman knows of his sidekick, Robin (at least one version of him), but what about his son, Damian? Didn’t know Batman had a son, did you? Well, don’t feel bad because Damian is a more recent addition. Son of Batman, the next cog in the DC Animated Universe introduces us to the lad, but how is the film?

What is this about?

Hidden atop a secret mountain lies the League of Shadows and its fearless leader, Ra’s al Ghul. Together with his daughter Talia, he oversees a trained army of assassins bent on global domination. But an uprising from within threatens to shift the balance of power and sends Talia and her young son, Damian, fleeing to Gotham City. Talia seeks the protection of Batman, who, unbeknownst to him, is the boy’s father. With his son in tow, Batman wages war against the villain Deathstroke and the League of Shadows.

What did I like?

Talia. Chances are if you’re reading this, then you are quite away of Batman’s rogues gallery, or you may recognize the name from The Dark Knight Rises where she was played by Marion Cotiliard. Talia has been a favorite character of mine, following 40s era Catwoman (where she wore the purple dress with a slit down both sides) and tied with a lesser known character, Nocturna. Now that we are getting more and more of Talia is a good thing, especially when she is portrayed as a badass assassin. Last night, I watched the premier of Agent Carter and one of my friends, who is a feminist, made a big deal about female representation. To that, I say whatever! A badass character is a badass character, no matter the sex.

Father/son. Way back when Bruce Wayne took Dick Grayson as his ward, he wasn’t exactly thrilled about the prospect, but over time, as well know, that relationship changed. Since then, there have been at least 2 other Robins, maybe 4, I’m not 100% sure, all of which have gone through a similar tumultuous relationship with the Batman. Now, enter the “blood heir” and you can just imagine how Bruce reacts. The reaction shows is exactly what you would expect from Batman, stoic and calculating. It is the relationship and interactions that take place from that point on that make this such an interesting part of the film. While there are no Ward Cleaver father-type moments, Bruce does show his parenting skills by putting his foot down. Hey, this isn’t the guy’s first rodeo. He has raised a few wards, remember?

Not for kids. If you are thinking this is a kid-friendly animated feature similar to the animated series we all bow down to, then you are sadly mistaken. The opening scene, which is full of blood splatters, violent deaths, a decapitation, and a vicious eye poke, as well as the burning death of Ra’s al Ghul, tells you that this is for a more mature audience. Hey, I’m all for a lighter Batman. Batman: The Brave and the Bold was my favorite animated series since the 90s cartoon, but every now and then, I like a darker, more mature animated film, and that is what we get with this film.

What didn’t I like?

Hint at a rivalry. As I alluded to earlier, Damian is the “blood heir” to Bruce Wayne, as he makes sure to let Dick Grayson know. Here’s the thing, Dick has long been a kindred spirit for Batman, as they both lost their parents, but now Damian shows up and is an actual blood relative. I don’t need to tell you that the rivalry between the two of them is fierce. Well, it should be, but the film teases us with it…twice! First is when Nightwing stops Damian from killing someone. They apparently fight, and by the looks of it after the cutaway, it was a slobber knocker. The second is in the Batcave when Damian tells Dick he’s Bruce’s heir and wants to be Robin. For time purposes, I understand that this couldn’t have been fleshed out some more, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing it had. These two just need to fight to the death and get it over with, hopefully with Dick winning.

Damian. Kids today are just brats. Ungrateful, disrespectful, brats. Damian is no different, except you throw in that he was raised in affluence and then dropped off with his rich and powerful father, and that is sure to not change his outlook on things. Did I mention the kid is named Damian? Do I really need to bring up a certain movie child with the name Damian and what he did?!?

The voice. Kevin Conroy seriously needs to come back and voice Batman again. Hey, Peter Cullen is still doing Optimus Prime and Frank Welker is Megatron everywhere except the movies, so why can’t Conroy be Bats? If not him, then give us Bruce Greenwood, who voiced him in the unceremoniously cancelled (because of too many female fans, I kid you not!) Young Justice, because Jason O’Mara is just there. O’Mara is ok with his reading, but he sounds like he is trying to find a balance between Conroy and what Christian Bale brought to the character, which may be his downfall. When/if he ever finds his own voice for Batman, then I think I can get behind him, but until then, I want Conroy, Greenwood, or someone else to be given a chance.

I haven’t read the graphic novel that this film comes from, but I do know that some things were changed and some characters omitted, such as the current Robin, Tim Drake, but I won’t get into that. Son of Batman showed great promise. The action is tight, Talia is definite animated eye candy (why else would they have her jumpsuit zipped down so low?), and we get a good Batman story. On the flipside, though, this isn’t one of the best we’ve seen from DC. The animation continues to have that wannabe anime feel that doesn’t gel with me for whatever reason. Also, Batman doesn’t make jokes!!!! All this aside, though, I think this is a solid enough film that would be worth your time, so give it a shot, sometime.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Last Holiday

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah), an employee in the cookware department at Kragen’s Department Store in New Orleans, is a shy, unassuming woman who longs to cook professionally, and who records her dreams of a better life in a journal labeled “Possibilities.” It is the Christmas holiday season. While flirting with a co-worker Sean Williams (LL Cool J), she bumps her head on a cabinet door and is taken to the store’s health center for a CAT scan. There she is told by company physician Dr. Gupta (Ranjit Chowdhry) she has several brain tumors resulting from a rare neurological disorder called Lampington’s Disease. Since her HMO plan will not cover the exorbitant cost of an operation, Georgia resigns herself to the fact she has only a few weeks to live, quits her job, liquidates her assets, and sets off on a dream vacation at the deluxe Grandhotel Pupp in the spa city of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.

Free of inhibitions and determined to live life to the fullest, Georgia checks into the Presidential Suite, buys a designer wardrobe in expensive boutiques, makes extensive use of the hotel’s spa facilities, attempts snowboarding and base jumping off of a dam, enjoys succulent meals prepared by world-renowned Chef Didier (Gérard Depardieu), and wins a small fortune playing roulette in the casino. She impresses the hotel’s staff, with the exception of cantankerous guest services manager Miss Gunther (Susan Kellermann), with her naive manner and forthright kindness, and mingles with some of the other guests, including Matthew Kragen (Timothy Hutton), a self-help guru and coincidentally the owner of the store where she works; his assistant/mistress Ms. Burns (Alicia Witt); pandering Senator Dillings (Giancarlo Esposito) from her home state of Louisiana; and prominent Congressman Stewart (Michael Nouri). Kragen is skeptical about Georgia’s origins and suspects her of trying to sabotage his business, but the rest are charmed by her free spirit.

When Kragen bribes Miss Gunther to dig up information about Georgia’s background, she finds a letter Georgia has written providing instructions for the disposal of her remains after her death. Miss Gunther is moved by the letter and realizes Georgia’s self-confidence and sunny optimism have touched everyone who has met her since her arrival. She confesses to Georgia she found the letter and urges her to return home and spend her last days with those she loves. Georgia takes Miss Gunther’s advice and heads for the airport, only to discover an avalanche has blocked the road. Unbeknownst to her, Sean – having learned of her diagnosis and ready to acknowledge his feelings for her – is in a taxi on the other side of the snowdrift, trying to reach her at the hotel.

Georgia returns to the hotel, and Sean starts across the snow on foot. At a New Year’s Eve party that evening, Kragen exposes Georgia as a saleswoman in one of his stores. Georgia tells them that Kragen is right and reveals that she’s going to die. Kragen’s colleagues, disgusted by Kragen’s insensitivity, embrace her and abandon him. Dejected and embarrassed, Kragen goes up to an upper floor of the hotel and sits on the ledge contemplating suicide. Georgia tries to persuade him to come down, suggesting if he were nicer and less driven and greedy, he would be a happier person.

Sean arrives at the hotel and joins Georgia and Kragen on the ledge. In the lobby, Miss Gunther finds a fax from Dr. Gupta, in which he tells Georgia she was misdiagnosed due to X-rays generated by a broken, outdated CAT scanner. Miss Gunther rushes up to the ledge to announce the good news. Georgia and Sean return to New Orleans to get married and open a restaurant, where they are visited by Chef Didier and Georgia’s long-time inspiration, Emeril Lagasse.

REVIEW:

It may seem that with a title like Last Holiday, this is a film that I should have held off for the holidays, but that isn’t the case. Well, it does climax on New Year’s Day, but does anyone really consider that one of the “holidays”, seriously? At any rate, what makes this worth watching, if anything at all?

What is this about?

Given the news she’s terminally ill, Georgia throws caution to the wind, breaks out of her shell and takes a no-holds-barred European vacation. While she’s celebrating her last hurrah, she touches the lives of everyone around her.

What did I like?

Don’t sass me. Throughout most of Queen Latifah’s career, she has been relegated to playing sassy characters, but she gets a chance to break out of her comfort zone and give a soft, subdued performance the kind of which we don’t get from her very often, even though she clearly has the acting chops for such. That point aside, she does offer a wee bit of sass, just enough to fit the character and the scenes in which she uses it sparingly.

Feel. There is a feel of those old comedies from the 40s and 50s going on with this film and I liked it. As can be told by many of the films that are featured in other posts, I much prefer the older films, as opposed to the sex joke driven, CGI laden, lifeless schlock that studios churn out these days. With the retro feel, in terms of writing and comedy, the audience can really get invested in the characters, laugh at the situations, and not feel offended or uncomfortable with the joy that this film delivers.

How far they’ve come. Queen Latifah. LL Cool J. Will Smith. Ice Cube. Ice T. What do all these actors have in common? For the younger generation, they are all actors, but for those of that grew up in the 80s and early 90s, they were rappers. Seeing Queen Latifah and LL Cool J star in a film that has nothing to do with their genre of music shows how far they’ve come over the year. Hell, the Queen even has an Oscar nomination. The two of them have some nice chemistry that you just want to see more and more of. Perhaps some casting director will watch this and decide they need to be paired together again.

What didn’t I like?

CAT scan. A faulty CAT scan machine leads to a false diagnosis. This leads Queen Latifah’s character to spend money like its going out of style, even flying to Europe and staying in some fancy hotel. Since this is a movie, there isn’t much in the way of consequences, but one has to wonder had this happened in the real world, how big would that lawsuit have been. Truly, there is no reason for there to have been spots on the brain scans, and it should not have taken that long to find out that something was wrong.

No one likes you. As one can imagine, there is one bad apple who wants to be liked so bad that he goes out of his way to make sure that Latifah’s ruse is found out, even though she never really lied to anyone, just never said what she did for a job or that she was dying. I suppose for the purpose of his character, Timothy Hutton does a good job of being a douche, but to be so smug about revealing her secret. All his friends, including his mistress (or whatever she is) leave him. No wonder he went out and tried to kill himself!

Cooking. I love the setting of New Orleans. I happen to drive an hour east just to visit every chance I get, but there seems to be a trend happening with films set in this great city. Does every one who lives there have to end up opening a restaurant? The most notable of these that I can think of is Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. While I’m speaking of cooking, it is never really mentioned that she wants to open a restaurant. Yes, it is implied, but just like Roadblock in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, it seems as if it is a plot point that is forgotten until the writers realized that it was an important part of her character.

Last Holiday is a feel good movie that is sure to please everyone. Not everything has to be dark, depressing, violent, and/or moody to be successful and this proves that point. No, this isn’t the greatest picture in the world, but at least it is memorable, especially Queen Latifah’s performance as a meek sales clerk who has been diagnosed with a fatal disease. Do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! This is the kind of flick you can watch over and over again without getting tired of it, so check it out!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

Derailed

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , on July 17, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Protagonist, Charles Schine (Clive Owen), is an advertising executive married to a schoolteacher in Chicago, whose tale is being written down in pencil in a notebook. The introductory scenes reveal Charles’ marriage deteriorating due to both parents having busy careers, further stressed by their adolescent daughter’s poorly controlled diabetes.

While on a commuter train, Charles encounters an alluring woman named Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston) when she pays for his forgotten fare. She is also married and has a daughter, whose wallet picture she shows him. Their mutual attraction grows, and the two begin meeting more frequently. Ultimately, the two are intent on consummating their affair in a shady hotel. While Charles and Lucinda are having sex, an armed man later named as Philippe LaRoche (Vincent Cassel) bursts into the hotel room, beats Charles and brutally rapes Lucinda. Charles and Lucinda agree not to report the crime, as they do not want their spouses to learn of the affair. Shortly after the incident, Charles is blackmailed by LaRoche, who threatens to kill Charles’ family if he doesn’t pay $20,000, which Charles promptly pays. But a month later, the attacker calls again, this time demanding $100,000—and calling from Charles’ house. Charles rushes home to find LaRoche visiting with his wife Deanna (Melissa George) and daughter Amy (Addison Timlin), posing as a business associate and, much to his disgust, being exceptionally pleasant to his family.

Winston Boyko (RZA) is Charles’ co-worker who works in the mailroom; he admits to killing a man while in prison. Charles tells Winston about LaRoche and asks for advice. Winston offers to scare LaRoche away in return for 10% ($10,000) of LaRoche’s demand. As they prepare to approach LaRoche in Winston’s car, Winston shows Charles the shank (make-shift knife) he used in prison; he gives it to Charles for good luck. However, LaRoche is a step ahead, and shoots Winston dead through the window in his car. The murder is almost discovered by a couple of corrupt cops flirting with a prostitute named Candy (Georgina Chapman) and Charles barely escapes being implicated in the murder. He attempts to clean up the crime scene by driving the car into Lake Michigan, but the car gets stuck on the shore and Charles flees at the sound of approaching police sirens.

The next day, Charles is questioned by detective Franklin Church (Giancarlo Esposito), who also happens to be Winston’s uncle, about his coworker’s murder. Later, Charles receives a call from LaRoche: He has Lucinda at gunpoint, and will kill her and his family if Charles doesn’t bring the $100,000 immediately. Charles does so by taking money from an account meant to provide for the daughter’s medical treatment; the payoff complete, he and Lucinda say a tortured goodbye. Later that night, Charles confesses to his wife that he spent the money they had been saving for seven years. Although he is not shown confessing the affair, it is suggested that he does when he says, “I’ll tell you everything. And it’s not just about the money.”

Before meeting with Detective Church to tell the whole story, Charles decides he has to let Lucinda know. He stops by her office, but when he asks for Lucinda, the receptionist points to a black woman who is the actual Lucinda Harris and it is revealed that the woman whom Charles met on the train is really a woman called Jane and she was just impersonating Lucinda Harris. Wildly suspicious that Jane might have been kidnapped again by LaRoche, Charles immediately goes to her condo to check if she is there. Upon arriving, he encounters a real estate agent selling the unit; she hands him a sales brochure whose cover is the same as the “wallet picture” Jane showed him at their initial train ride. Now intent on confronting her, Charles goes to the same train station where they met and waits. After some time, Jane steps out of the train and leaves the station, with Charles in pursuit; she eventually meets up with LaRoche by a shiny black limousine and kisses him amorously: Jane and LaRoche are actually lovers. Charles is dumbfounded, conned and betrayed as it becomes clear that Jane wasn’t actually raped by LaRoche at all. It is also revealed that Jane doesn’t have a daughter and everything she told Charles was a lie.

Charles tracks Jane to the restaurant where they used to have dinner, where he sees her with another married scam victim. Jane calls LaRoche and his henchmen Dexter (Xzibit) to let them know they’re heading for the same hotel. Charles follows them back to the hotel, where she, LaRoche and Dexter are setting up yet another mark. Jane and the guy go inside the room and begin foreplay; Charles waits for LaRoche to approach that room, and knocks LaRoche unconscious before he enters. Charles breaks in with an unconscious LaRoche in his hands; Jane is shocked by Charles’ sudden arrival and denies their acquaintance when asked by her intended victim. Charles shoots LaRoche and demands his money back; Dexter then enters the room and a gunfight ensues in which everyone but Charles is shot and killed. Charles wipes his prints from the guns and slips away. As he’s leaving, he sees his old briefcase; he reclaims it and finds that it still has his $100,000.

The next day, Charles gets busted at work for embezzling the $10,000 that he paid Winston before his murder and is sentenced to six months of community service teaching at a prison. During one of his classes, Charles starts to go through the homework and chooses a blue booklet with “Sidetracked” scribbled on the front in black pen. He reads on and finds out that it is about him: the story at the beginning of the movie. In conclusion, the booklet orders Charles to go to the laundry room—where he finds LaRoche, who survived the gunfight, waiting for him. LaRoche bemoans Jane’s death and taunts Charles, threatening to continue interfering with Charles’ life and family. When LaRoche slyly asks Charles if his daughter is available, Charles assaults LaRoche. During the fight, LaRoche tells Charles how lucky he felt when he realized Charles was teaching the class; Charles then informs LaRoche that he specifically chose this prison, and stabs LaRoche to death with the shank given to him by Winston.

As he leaves the laundry room, Charles encounters Detective Church who tells him that LaRoche killed three people (two in Paris, France, and one in New York). This number is increased to five with the murders of Winston and the other married scam victim. Charles then claims he was attacked and acted in self defense. Church is suspicious, but has no evidence upon which to do anything other than let Charles go, so he can return home to his wife and daughter

REVIEW:

*SIGH* I don’t know what it is, but I may be getting burned out on these suspense dramas. With that said, I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t enjoy Derailed. I just wasn’t really into the film the way I normally immerse myself in the movies I watch.

This film started off in a manner similar to Unfaithful. This is fine and good if this was going to be some sort of adultery drama, but that’s not the case. This film is about blackmail and extortion…and a little bit of adultery.

It took entirely too long for this film to get going. I mean, it was great developing the characters and all, but there comes a point when you just have to move the story along and that didn’t happen until about halfway through.

There is quite an interesting twist that happens near the end and may very well blind side the audience. I know that I didn’t see it coming, but a the same time it was welcome.

None of the characters in this film are worth caring about, except maybe the daughter, who is suffering from Type I diabetes and has rejected 3 kidneys. Everyone else has some kind of moral issue that just makes them downright unlikable.

These characters are deep, but the most intersting ones, are those that we don’t know much of. Winston, played by RZA, and the criminals, Lafourche and his right hand man, Dexter, played by Xzibit.

Most of the time we are used to seeing Clive Owen kicking butt and taking names and Jennifer Aniston being the total girl next door hottie she is, but this film all but flips the script on them both. Owen doesn’t really takes matters in his hands very well, and Aniston, while still smoking hot, is more of a sex vamp.

Derailed doesn’t really derail anywhere, but the ride isn’t exactly smooth, either. I would have liked for there to have been more of the relationship between Charlie and Winston. Those were some of the best scenes in the film, if you ask me. While I won’t be busting my butt so see this film again, I can recommend it to anyone that is interested in these type of films.

4 out of 5 stars

Monkeybone

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Stu Miley (Brendan Fraser) is a disillusioned cartoonist whose comic strip features a rascal monkey named Monkeybone. Stu is in love with a sleep institute worker named Dr. Julie McElroy (Bridget Fonda), who helped him deal with his terrible nightmares by changing the hand that he drew with. On the night when he is going to propose to her, Stu gets into a car accident and falls into a coma.

His spirit ends up in Downtown: a purgatory limbo-like carnival landscape populated by human beings, mythical creatures and figments of people’s imaginations where nightmares are entertainment. In Downtown, Monkeybone (voiced by John Turturro) is real. When Stu learns that his sister Kimmy (Megan Mullally) is about to pull the plug on him, he asks Hypnos: The God of Sleep (Giancarlo Esposito) what to do. Hypnos tells Stu that to get back to the living, he has to steal an Exit Pass from Death (Whoopi Goldberg). Stu successfully steals an Exit Pass, but Monkeybone steals it from him in turn and enters the Land of the Living in Stu’s body through the Revive-O.

Hypnos plans to use Stu’s body to get a substance that Dr. Julie McElroy developed that gives people and animals nightmares. Monkeybone (in Stu’s body) obtains the substance and puts it inside stuffed monkey toys of himself (Monkeybone) so that those who touch them will be infected and given nightmares. Meanwhile Stu reveals Hypnos’ plan to Death and convinces her to send him back for only an hour, only to find himself in the body of a dead athlete organ donor (Chris Kattan). As he flees the morgue attendants, Stu finds out about Monkeybone’s and Hypnos’ planned party and heads there with the extractors still in pursuit. At the party, Stu’s agent Herb (Dave Foley) exposes himself to the Nightmare Juice in the Monkeybone doll and ends up seeing in the mirror that his clothes are coming to life. This causes Herb to run through the party naked telling everyone that the clothes have come to life and turned evil. After that, Monkeybone in Stu’s body tells everyone to forget about it as he brings down the Monkeybone pinata containing the Monkeybone Dolls. Stu uses Monkeybone’s main characteristics from the comics to cause him to panic and escape. A chase ensues, culminating with Stu and Monkeybone battling each other while clinging to a giant Monkeybone balloon. The balloon is eventually shot down by a passing policeman and both Stu and Monkeybone fall to their deaths.

Back in Downtown, Stu and Monkeybone are falling toward Downtown where the residents cheer on their fight. Just then, all the rides stop and a giant robot emerges near the Revive-O causing everyone to flee the area. When Stu and Monkeybone are caught by it, the operator of the robot is revealed to be Death who seems quite cheerful despite the circumstances. Monkeybone tries to have Death let him go to the bathroom, but Death places Monkeybone back in Stu’s head which is back where he belongs. Death then tells Stu that she’ll send him back because she likes his comic strips and doesn’t want them to stop just now and because she needs to make room for the guys from South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. She then uses her robot to send Stu back to the living as he wakes up in his own body. Stu then proposes to Julie and they get married.

REVIEW:

This film sort of feels like a mixture of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Cool World, but instead of cartoons, they use stop motion animation. The plot sort of mixes the two films together, if yo think about it. We have the token guy who somehow ends up in the animated world (even though it’s not fully animated), gets tricked into letting someone escape into the real world, someone falls in love with him on the other side, etc. Elements, of your mixed medium films.

Brendan Fraser is quite impressive here. Stu is the typical loser Fraser that we’ve seen in so many of his movies, but when Monkeybone takes over his body, he has to actually act like a monkey, even going so far as to kiss one on the lips. On top of that, he must have studied John Turturro’s mannerisms as he was doing the voice track for Monkeybone, because it really felt like they were one and the same.

While I’m on the topic of people being possessed by others and capturing their mannerisms, Chris Kattan does a good job of capturing Fraser’s, all the while keeping his Kattan-ness. Not to mention the fact that he’s a corpse who just had some sort of horrific accident.

Bridget Fonda kind of felt out-of-place in the film full of…how should I put this…crazies? That may have been the idea, but she seems to be playing the straight man, er, woman, and just flat out seems uncomfortable. Not to mention she’s not very relatable, and for me, just seems like she’s the token girlfriend.

See if you can find Rose McGowan, Thomas Hayden Church, Giancarlo Esposito, and Whoopi Goldberg in Dark Town. Dark Town, and pretty much all the animation is gorgeous. Monkeybone could very well have been done by a Disney animator! He had the mix of human and monkey in his mannerisms, as well as his own characterizations. The other characters seem like a hodge podge of nightmares that were forgotten, which more or less, is what they are supposed to be. The Land of Death is even more impressive. When they arrive there, you can tell there was plenty of time spent designing this place. Hard work paid off!

If you didn’t know better, you’d think that this was a Tim Burton film. Close, but no cigar. THe director, Henry Selick, is a frequent collaborator with Burton, mos notably on the Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas. The influence is quite obvious, as the film employs dark themes offset with bright colors, all with a twisted story. If you’re into this kind of stuff, then you’ll love it. If you’re into crude, rude, humor, and lovable loser Brendan Fraser, then you’ll love it. If you tend to buy into all the hype you read about this being  bad film, then you’ve already made up your mind, and there really is no point to you even watching this, now is there. For the rest of us that actually can think for ourselves, Monkeybone is a fun, exciting comedy that shouldn’t be anything more than what it is, and it knows that.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars