Archive for Ian McShane

John Wick

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

John Wick (Keanu Reeves), who has just lost his wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan) to an undisclosed illness, receives a gift from her posthumously in the form of a Beagle puppy named Daisy, along with a letter from her saying she arranged for him to have Daisy to help him cope with her demise. Initially indifferent to Daisy, he eventually connects to the puppy as they spend the day driving around in his vintage ’69 Mustang. At a gas station, he encounters a trio of Russian gang members, whose leader Iosef (Alfie Allen) insists on buying his car. John refuses to sell and greets Iosef’s snide remark in Russian with a retort in the same language before leaving. The three follow John to his home, break in at night, and attack John, who is knocked unconscious just after seeing Daisy mortally wounded.

Iosef takes the Mustang to a chop shop run by Aurelio (John Leguizamo), a business associate, to have the VIN changed. However, when Iosef tells Aurelio how he acquired the car, Aurelio punches Iosef in the face and throws him out of his shop. John subsequently visits Aurelio, who tells him Iosef is the son of Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) – the head of the Russian crime syndicate in New York – and loans him a Chevelle SS to replace the Mustang. Viggo, after being advised by Aurelio what Iosef had done, beats and berates Iosef for his actions. He then explains to Iosef who John Wick is: his former best assassin, nicknamed Baba Yaga (“the Boogeyman”), who earned a release from Viggo’s employment (allowing John to get married) by killing all of Viggo’s competitors in a single day, giving Viggo control of his syndicate.

Viggo, wanting to protect his son, attempts to talk John out of seeking retribution; John silently refuses. Viggo then sends a twelve-man hit squad to John’s house to kill him; John kills all of them within minutes and pays an associate to dispose of the bodies. Viggo puts a $2 million bounty on John and personally offers the contract to Marcus (Willem Dafoe), a veteran assassin and John’s mentor, who accepts. John subsequently seeks refuge at the Continental, a hotel that exclusively caters to assassins, with a rule that no business can be conducted on premises. When Viggo learns of this, he doubles the bounty for those willing to break the rules to kill John there. John learns from Winston (Ian McShane), the owner of the Continental, that Viggo has Iosef protected at his nightclub, the Red Circle.

John enters the Red Circle, where he kills Iosef’s friend Victor and most of the security staff. Before he can kill Iosef, Viggo’s henchman Kirill waylays John. John escapes back to the Continental to have his wounds treated. Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki), an assassin and former acquaintance of John’s, attempts to sneak into John’s room at the Continental and kill him, but Marcus – who had been monitoring John’s room with a sniper rifle – awakens John by shooting the pillow next to his head. After a brutal hand-to-hand fight, John subdues Ms. Perkins and forces her to reveal the location of Viggo’s front. John leaves Ms. Perkins with Harry (Clarke Peters), a fellow assassin, to await her punishment for breaking the hotel rules. However, Ms. Perkins slips out of her restraints and kills Harry.

John travels to Little Russia, where he finds the church which serves as Viggo’s front, kills all the guards, and incinerates Viggo’s cache of money and blackmail material. When Viggo’s team arrives at the church, John ambushes them, but Kirill incapacitates John by striking him with a Chevrolet Tahoe. At a safe house, Viggo taunts John for thinking he could leave his old life behind. He leaves John to be tortured and killed by Kirill and another henchman, but Marcus kills the other henchman, allowing John to break free and kill Kirill. John intercepts Viggo’s car and forces him to reveal Iosef’s location and also pull the bounty, which Viggo reluctantly does. John travels to the safe house where Iosef is hiding and kills all of the guards before killing Iosef.

Ms. Perkins sees that John and Marcus have been in contact and tells Viggo, who has Marcus tortured and killed in his home over his betrayal. Viggo contacts John and informs him of Marcus’ death, hoping to lure John to Marcus’ home, where Ms. Perkins is waiting to ambush him. However, Ms. Perkins is called to a secret meeting with Winston, who revokes her membership to the Continental for breaking the rules and has her swiftly executed in a crossfire by four assassins. Winston calls John to inform him of a helicopter coming to the harbor to transport Viggo away.

John races to the harbor and executes Viggo’s remaining henchmen before engaging Viggo in a fistfight on the dock. Viggo pulls a knife on John and as they fight, John forces it into his already wounded abdomen, startling Viggo. John then breaks Viggo’s arm, takes Viggo’s knife, and stabs him on the side of the neck. John leaves Viggo to die. John, wounded but still able-bodied, stops at a waterfront animal clinic where he treats his wound. He then rescues a pitbull puppy from one of the cages and is last seen walking away on the boardwalk where he had his last date with Helen.

REVIEW:

I find it rather comical that on the weekend Hitman: Agent 47 is released, I opt to stay home and watch an assassin/hitman film that came out last year, John Wick. Time will tell on whether I made the right decision, but from what I’ve been hearing, it wouldn’t take much.

What is this about?

When a retired hit man is forced back into action by a sadistic young thug, he hunts down his adversaries with the skill and ruthlessness that made him an underworld legend.  A masterful tale of adrenaline-fueled revenge and redemption.

What did I like?

Whoa! Who would have thought Ted “Theodore” Logan would become such a hardened assassin? One advertisement for this flick said that it was “Keanu Reeves’ best performance since The Matrix.” I wish I could argue against that, but let’s face it, Reeves hasn’t exactly been hitting it out of the ballpark the last 15 or so years since we became accustomed to him as Neo. This is a role that allows him to kick ass, take names, show some emotional depth, and be the strong silent type. The kind of role he was made for!

Action. Once we get past the introduction of characters and the plot, the action starts and doesn’t let up! I was expecting this to be one of those films that is all talk and no bite, but it was just the opposite. Violent kills, beautiful choreography, exciting car chases, and even a good old-fashioned slugfest! Man, if you’re into action this will surely satisfy your craving.

Brotherhood. There is an old saying about there being honor amongst thieves. It would appear that there is a code, if you will, for assassins. One might even go so far as to say that it is a…creed (see what I did there?) For someone who is such a loner, as Wick appears to be, it was nice to see that he has friends in the profession that have his back. I wonder, though, how many of them would just as soon shoot him in said back as help him?

What didn’t I like?

Dog days. It is funny to me how people in this country get so worked up over dogs. Michael Vick lost years from his career because he was fighting dogs, yet murders, rapists, and serial women beaters are in the NFL with a slap on the wrist. Why do I bring this up? Well, in a way, the death of the dog is what sets Reeves off on this killing spree, coupled with the death of his wife, and he loses it, killing just about everything in sight on a quest for revenge. All this over a dog, a stupid, good for nothing dog! *SIGH* Now, had this been a cat, I could relate.

Alfie. Have you ever heard the name Alfie Allen? Well, he is the brother of British singer Lily Allen (her song “Alfie” is about him), but his claim to fame is as Theon Greyjoy on Game of Thrones. As sniveling and despicable as Greyjoy is, this character, Iosef Tarasov, is just as bad or worse. One must wonder if Allen is being typecast in these roles now, or if genuinely fell in love with this character. Either way, I feel this character could have hade more independent and not such a daddy’s boy.

Russians. I remember watching a review for this when it came out and someone mentioned the Russians and pondered what must they think when they see themselves as the villain in so many American movies. Back in the day and in period films such as the recent The Man from U.N.C.L.E. are one thing, but this is set in modern day. Last I checked, while things aren’t exactly the best between our two countries, they aren’t the enemy. Can we stop using Russians as villains, especially when they aren’t even convincingly Russian!

In conclusion, John Wick is one of the best action flicks I’ve seen in quite some time. Not only does it deliver a compelling story with some great action, but it is grounded in reality, something that today’s audiences seem to want, as opposed to the insane, anything can happen action that I prefer. There are very few complaints that I have about this film, which is rare, so I’m just going to end this by saying this is a must see before you die flick!

5 out of 5 stars

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Hercules (2014)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) is the leader of a band of mercenaries formed by the prophet Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), the thief Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), the warrior Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), the archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) and the storyteller Iolaus (Reece Ritchie). Hercules is said to be the demigod son of Zeus, who completed the legendary Twelve Labors, only to be betrayed by Hera, who drove him insane and caused him to murder his wife Megara (Irina Shayk) and their children during a visit to King Eurystheus (Joseph Fiennes). Hercules has since rejected Zeus and chosen to live as mortal, and is tormented by visions of Cerberus.

One day, Hercules and his men are approached by Ergenia (Rebecca Ferguson), on behalf of her father, Lord Cotys (John Hurt), who wants Hercules to train the armies of Thrace to defend the kingdom from bloodthirsty warlord Rheseus (Tobias Santelmann). Hercules accepts after each of his men is offered their weight in gold, and the band is welcomed to Thrace by King Cotys and General Sitacles (Peter Mullan), leader of the Thracian army. After training the army, Hercules and his men lead them into battle against local barbarians as a test of their strength. After the barbarians are defeated, Hercules and Sitacles confront Rheseus and his soldiers, believed to be Centaurs, but soon proven to be men on horseback. Rheseus is defeated and taken back to Thrace as a prisoner, where he is tortured and humiliated. Noticing that Ergenia has taken pity to him, Hercules confronts her and finds out Rheseus was merely retaliating against Lord Cotys’ aggressive attempts to expand his kingdom, and, although Ergenia doesn’t agree with his methods, she abides to them for the sake of her son, Arius, Lord Cotys’ successor to the throne.

After receiving their reward, the mercenaries are ready to leave, but Hercules decides to stay behind to stop Cotys, and all but Autolycus choose to follow him. However, they are overpowered and captured by Sitacles and his men. While chained, Hercules is confronted by King Eurhysteus, who is in league with Lord Cotys, and reveals that he poisoned Hercules the night his family died, viewing him as a threat to his power. Hercules’ family was in fact killed by three vicious wolves sent by Eurhysteus, resulting in Hercules’ constant hallucinations of Cerberus. When Lord Cotys orders Ergenia to be executed for her betrayal, Hercules is encouraged by Amphiaraus to embrace his destiny and breaks free of his chains, saving Ergenia and slaying the wolves. Hercules releases the prisoners, including Rheseus, and then confronts King Eurhysteus, impaling him with a dagger. He is attacked by Sitacles, who is then stabbed by Iolaus.

Outside, Hercules and his forces battle Lord Cotys and his army. Arius is taken hostage, but then rescued by Autolycus, who has decided to return to help his friends. In the ensuing battle, Tydeus is mortally wounding and dies in Hercules’ arms after slaughtering numerous Thracian soldiers. Hercules then rips a statue of hero from its foundations and uses it to crush the remaining soldiers and throw Lord Cotys off of a cliff, to his death. The few surviving soldiers bow to Hercules, and Arius takes the throne, with Ergenia at his side, while Hercules and his men depart in search of other adventures.

REVIEW:

So, after the abomination that was The Legend of Hercules, are we ready for Hercules, yet another film that brings us the life and times of one of the most beloved demigods. This one should not be compared to other films of its ilk. Is Dwayne Johnson’s star big enough, like the rest of him!

What is this about?

When world-weary Hercules, now a mercenary, is asked to defeat a savage warlord, he must redeem his honor and his reputation as a mighty demigod. With his companions, Hercules renews his faith in justice in this adaptation of the graphic novel.

What did I like?

Look the part. I have to give it to Dwayne Johnson, he is the first to actually look like Hercules since those Italian movies of the 60s that starred the likes of Mickey Hargitay and other bodybuilders. Johnson was already a big guy, but as we’ve seen in his recent movies, the guy has been getting huge. All that growth isn’t for his return to the WWE ring, but for this role. Looks like it paid off!

Action. As can be expected, this is a flick that is full of action. Unlike that other Hercules film that came out earlier this year, which was nothing but talking, Johnson’s Hercules actually kicks ass and takes names. Isn’t that what we want from Hercules? I can’t speak for you, but that’s what I want. Hercules and his Avengers-like team of warriors are not to be messed with.

Twist. I won’t spoil it, but there is a twist to the tale of Hercules that you may or may not like. For me, I could care less for it, but I appreciate the risk they took. Much in the way they changed up things in Maleficent, the filmmakers took liberties with the source material and created a new story, while teasing the one we all know.

What didn’t I like?

12 Labors. I think I mentioned it in one of the other Hercules flicks I reviewed this year, but how hard is it to get a Hercules movie that deals with the 12 labors? All the drama and other stuff that happens afterwards is fine, but not what we really want to see. Personally, I think a Hercules movie that deals with those 12 labors would be awesome, but apparently Hollywood is doing all they can to not make that film and I have no idea why. We do get a hint of the labors at the beginning of the film and during the credits, which was nothing more than a cruel tease, really. If you’re going to give it to us, give it to us!!!

Merc with a mouth. So, this film portrays Hercules as a leader of mercenaries. Not my cup of tea, honestly. I prefer Hercules to be a solo act wandering the countryside helping people, but that could be because of my affinity for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Still, since he is leading a band of mercenaries, supposedly this should work, but I just can’t get behind that idea.

Gods. As we all know, Hercules is the demigod son of Zeus, and yet, there is nothing more than a few mentions of the king of the gods. It appears that they were going more for the realistic tone with this one (and yet included the Hydra, Cerebus, etc.), but it just seem to me that we could have had at least an appearance somewhere, or maybe even Ian McShane’s character turns out to be Zeus? I guess that would have been too creative, though.

When all the dust clears, Hercules isn’t a bad flick. It definitely fits that summer popcorn flick mold, and for that it gets very high marks. However, the film feels like it wants to be something more. For instance, there are moments when you know you want to see blood from what happens, but because this is PG-13, we don’t get any, much like we saw in Pompeii. So, what is my recommendation on this? Well, it is worth seeing, perhaps even in the theater, but I wouldn’t rush out to see it. If you get the chance, check it out, if not, wait for the DVD/Blu-ray.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Jack the Giant Slayer

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Kingdom of Cloister, Jack, a young farm boy, is fascinated by the legend of Erik, an ancient king who defeated an army of invading giants from a realm in the sky by controlling them with a magical crown. At the same time, Princess Isabelle becomes fascinated with the same legend.

Ten years later, Jack goes into town to sell his horse to support his uncle’s farm. There, Jack spots Isabelle and develops a crush on her, after defending her honor from a group of thugs. Meanwhile, Lord Roderick returns to his study, only to find that a monk has robbed him. The monk offers Jack some magic beans he stole from Roderick as collateral for Jack’s horse. Back at the castle, Isabelle quarrels with her father, King Brahmwell, as she wants to explore the kingdom, but he wants her to stay and marry Roderick. Likewise, Jack’s uncle scolds him for being foolish before throwing the beans on the floor and leaving the house.

Determined to be free, Isabelle sneaks out of the castle and seeks shelter from the rain in Jack’s house. As it rains, one of the beans takes root and grows into a massive beanstalk that carries the house and Isabelle into the sky as Jack falls to the ground.

Jack, Roderick, and Roderick’s attendant Wicke volunteer to join the king’s knights, led by Elmont and his second in-command, Crawe, and climb the beanstalk in search of Isabelle. As they climb, Roderick and Wicke cut the safety rope, intentionally killing some of the knights. At the top, they discover the giants’ realm and decide to split into two groups: one with Jack, Elmont, and Crawe, and the other including Roderick and Wicke, but not before Roderick forcibly takes the remaining beans from Jack (although Jack manages to save one for himself).

Jack’s group is trapped by a giant, who takes everyone prisoner except Jack. Meanwhile, Roderick’s group encounters two other giants; one eats Wicke, but before they can do the same to Roderick, Roderick dons the magic crown.

Jack follows the giant to the giants’ stronghold, where the two-headed giant leader, Fallon, has killed Crawe. There, Jack finds the imprisoned Isabelle and Elmont. As the giants prepare to kill their remaining prisoners, Roderick walks in and enslaves the giants with the crown. He tells the giants they will attack Cloister at dawn and gives them permission to eat Isabelle and Elmont. Jack rescues Isabelle and Elmont as one of the giants prepares to cook Elmont as a pig-in-a-blanket. The trio makes for the beanstalk, where Jack causes the giant guarding the beanstalk to fall off the realm’s edge. Seeing the giant’s body, Brahmwell orders the beanstalk cut down to avoid an invasion by the giants.

Jack and Isabelle head down the beanstalk, while Elmont stays to confront Roderick. Elmont kills Roderick, but Fallon takes the crown before Elmont can claim it, and Elmont is forced to escape down the beanstalk. Jack, Isabelle, and Elmont all survive the fall after the beanstalk is cut down. As everyone returns home, Jack warns that the giants are using Roderick’s beans to create beanstalks to descend down to Earth and attack Cloister.

The giants chase Jack, Isabelle, and Brahmwell into the castle, where Elmont fills the moat with oil and sets it on fire. Fallon falls in the moat and breaks into the castle from below. As the siege continues, Fallon captures Jack and Isabelle, but Jack throws the final bean down Fallon’s throat, causing a beanstalk to rip apart his body. Jack takes the crown and sends the giants back to their realm.

Jack and Isabelle marry and tell the story of the giants to their children. As time passes, the magic crown is crafted into St Edward’s Crown and is secured in the Tower of London.

REVIEW:

Fairytales seem to be coming to cinemas more and more lately, but with a darker tone. I am not a fan on this trend and, judging by the response to the majority of these films, many people agree with me. Jack the Giant Slayer, a new take on the classic tale “Jack and the Beanstalk” is the newest tale that Hollywood claims they came up with.

What is this about?

When Princess Isabelle is kidnapped by rampaging giants, intrepid farm boy Jack, who accidentally opened the gateway that allowed the giants to enter the kingdom, goes in search of her, despite interference from the king’s wicked chief advisor.

What did I like?

We know the story. The basic story we all know and love is alive and well. Sure, they threw a few more elements in there to flesh out the runtime, but all the elements of the classic story are the primary focal point, which I really appreciated. The way the trailer for this looked, I was expecting certain elements to be retained, but most of it to have been changed in order to make it more “hip” or “cool”.

McShane. As far as kings go, I don’t believe you can do much better than Ian McShane. He has the look of someone who might have been a king during medieval times and he is very capable of playing an intimidating father. Just ask Penelope Cruz. He played her father, Blackbeard, in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Too bad this wasn’t a bigger role for him, but sometimes being a king just isn’t the much of a necessary role.

Remake. Until I finished watching this, I was under the impression that this was a remake of Jack the Giant Killer, especially since that was the initial title, until they decided it would be better marketed toward a younger audience. It is no secret that I hate, despise, and detest remakes. They are the lowest forms of entertainment, barely registering above reality television. As you can imagine, it does my heart good to see that this indeed was an “original” story, just not an original title.

What didn’t I like?

Jack. Call me crazy, but shouldn’t the guy that the film is named for be a bit more likable? I’m not saying that Nicholas Hoult did a bad job, but he just didn’t appeal to me as an audience member. I imagine Jack to be a genuinely good guy, not this off-putting teenager. Mickey Mouse does the best job I’ve seen of bringing this character to the big screen in Fun and Fancy Free.

CG. *SIGH* These giants looked so generic. If you are going to go through all the trouble of casting a veteran actor like Bill Nighy to voice a giant, as well as build them up and this unstoppable force, then make them at least look the part. Instead, we are privileged to see bottom of the barrel CG created giants that mostly serve as comic relief until they decide to bite someone’s head off. Obviously, there was some miscommunication regarding the tone of this film.

No wonder. The beanstalk may very well have been the best looking thing about this picture. Thing is, though, when one climbs to the top of the beanstalk and get to the world of the giants, you expect to see a wondrous land and we just didn’t see that. For me, this was a bit of a disappointment as I expected something that would take my breath away akin to the hovercarrier taking flight in The Avengers.

I suppose Jack the Giant Slayer should get credit for at least trying, because it does. However, I cannot abide by the fact that this was not an entertaining picture. It felt like it couldn’t make up its mind on whether it wanted to be dark and scary for older audiences or light and funny for younger generations. Also, where was the magic harp and the goose that laid the golden eggs? Geesh! Seriously, though, this is not a film that gets a recommendation from me. If you want to see this story done in a far superior way watch Fun & Fancy Free and/or Jack the Giant Killer and do your best to avid this.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

Snow White and the Huntsman

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Snow White is the Princess of Tabor, daughter of King Magnus and Queen Eleanor. After his wife’s death, King Magnus marries the beautiful Ravenna after rescuing her from the Dark Army, an invading force of glass soldiers. Ravenna, who is in fact a powerful sorceress and the Dark Army’s master, kills Magnus on their wedding night after noting that men like him exploit the beauty of women and discard them. As Ravenna usurps control of the entire kingdom, Duke Hammond escapes the castle with his son William, but is unable to rescue Snow White, who is captured by Ravenna’s brother Finn. Snow White is then locked away in the north tower of the castle.

Tabor is left in ruins under Ravenna’s rule as she periodically drains the youth from young women in order to maintain a spell once cast by her mother which allows her to keep her beauty. When Snow White comes of age, Ravenna learns from her Magic Mirror that Snow White is destined to destroy her unless Ravenna consumes the young girl’s heart, which will make her immortal. Ravenna orders Finn to bring her Snow White, but she escapes into the Dark Forest, where Ravenna has no power. Eric the Huntsman, a widower who has survived the Dark Forest, is brought to Ravenna, who orders him to lead Finn in pursuit of Snow White. In exchange, she promises to revive his deceased wife, Sarah. Duke Hammond learns that Snow White is alive and has fled into the Dark Forest. William, Snow White’s childhood friend, later infiltrates Finn’s band as a bowman to find her.

The Huntsman tracks down Snow White in the Dark Forest but refuses to hand her over until he knows Ravenna will keep her word. When Finn admits that Ravenna cannot resurrect the dead, the Huntsman helps Snow White to escape, promising to escort her to Duke Hammond’s castle in exchange for a reward of gold. The two leave the Dark Forest, escape the troll and pass through a fishing village where all the women have disfigured themselves in order to escape Ravenna, and where he learns Snow White’s true identity. He then leaves her in the care of the women but returns when he sees the village being burned down by Finn’s men. Snow White and the Huntsman eventually meet a band of dwarves — Beith, Muir, Quert, Coll, Duir, Gort, Nion, and Gus. Muir discovers that Snow White is the only person who can defeat Ravenna and end her reign.

As they travel through a fairy sanctuary, the group is attacked by Finn’s men, resulting in Gus’ death. The Huntsman kills Finn after learning he abetted in the murder of his wife. William reveals himself and helps defeat the soldiers before joining the others in their journey to Hammond’s castle.

Ravenna disguises herself as William and tempts Snow White into eating a poisoned apple, but is forced to flee when the Huntsman and William discover her. William kisses Snow White — whom he believes to be dead — without seeing that she has shed a solitary tear. She is taken to Hammond’s castle. As she lies in repose, the Huntsman professes his regret for not saving Snow White, who reminds him of his wife, and kisses her, breaking the spell; she awakens after a second tear has fallen. Snow White then takes command of the Duke’s army and leads them into battle against Ravenna.

The Dwarves infiltrate Tabor through the sewers and open the gates, which allows the Duke’s army to invade the castle. Snow White confronts Ravenna, but is overpowered. Ravenna is about to kill Snow White and consume her heart when she uses one of the moves Eric taught her on Ravenna and successfully kills her in the end, telling her that she cannot have her heart. Duke Hammond’s army is victorious.

The kingdom is once again in order and peace as Snow White becomes Queen and in the end, Snow White and Eric share meaningful glances, indicating a possible romantic end for Snow White and the Huntsman Eric.

REVIEW:

Remember the days when fairy tales were all about singing princesses, talking animals, and happy endings? Well, if Snow White and the Huntsman has anything to do with it, and I fear it will, those days are numbered. This film brings us a darker tone to the tale that most of us know best from the Disney masterpiece Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, but I question whether this change is for the better or worse.

What is this film about?

Snow White, imprisoned daughter of the late king, escapes just as the Magic Mirror declares her the source of the Evil Queen’s immortality. The Queen sends her men, led by a local huntsman, to bring her back. But upon her capture, the huntsman finds he’s being played and turns against the Queen’s men, saving Snow White in the process. Meanwhile, Snow’s childhood friend, William, learns that she is alive and sets off to save her.

What did I like?

Special effects. Say what you will about the film itself, you cannot deny that these effects are one arguably the best thing about it. Starting with the (underused) magic mirror. Instead of a disembodied head, we get some sort of lucid figure that oozes from the mirror, quite the departure from what we are used to. The queen herself has some pretty cool effects, mostly dealing with her magic glass army. Finally, there are the creatures in the forest, fairies, trolls, dwarves (which I will talk about later), and a horse-like spirit. The look of all this is just gorgeous!

C & C. Kristen Stewart may be the “star” of this little picture but, make no mistake, it is Charlize Theron that owns the picture. She gives a wicked queen so evil that she may even make you forget about any other versions. Chris Hemsworth also is a presence to be reckoned with. He doesn’t steal the film like Theron does, but he does prove that he can do more than just play Thor.

What didn’t I like?

Snow White. I don’t care for Kristen Stewart. She is one of these so-called actresses in Hollywood that sleeps with the director or some other higher up and keeps getting jobs, while the more talented thespians are forced to take lesser parts. That point aside, she may have the pale look needed for this part, but she doesn’t have the acting chops. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is a dead heat between her and Megan Fox as to who is the worst actress in Hollywood today. Her acting may have been the reason why I didn’t really get the chemistry between her and Hemsworth or the sudden change in attitude. Before she bit the apple, she wasn’t exactly a prissy princess, but she wasn’t going off to lead a rebellion, but she waked up and all of sudden she’s Xena? WTF?!?

Vertically challenged…or are they? No disrespect to the seven fine British actors that were cast as the dwarves, or the use of technology that allowed these “full-size” actors to portray dwarves, but how hard would it have been to either totally CGI some dwarves or find seven little people (or whatever the term is these days)? I know that if I were an actor such as Tony Cox, Peter Dinklage, Warwick Davis, or any of the other shall we say, vertically challenged, actors, I’d be more than pissed. Work is already hard to come by, and now they’re shrinking other actors down? That just isn’t right!!!!

Girl power. Enough is enough with this girl power thing! Women are powerful, we get it, but is that any reason to turn a classic fairy tale into what is, as one person put it, “a watered down version of the Lord of the Rings movies”. On top of that, was there any reason to take the love story away from the prince and give her to the Huntsman? Doesn’t that negate everything we know about Snow White? Even further than that, the “fight” between her and the queen wasn’t worth the wait. Snow walked in there like she was storming down to the WWE ring, but then all we get is some scenes with the queen’s glass army and other special effects.

*YAWN* I cannot remember a film that has bored be as quickly as Snow White and the Huntsman. The few redeeming qualities it has are not enough to overcome the slow, boring pace of the flick with characters we don’t really care for. I do not recommend this unless you’re doing a comparison of Snow White films. In which case, I suggest the far superior Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Mirror Mirror or, if you must have something different, Sydney White but please don’t waste your time with this. I certainly wish I could have those two hours back! Yes, I did just say Mirror Mirror is far superior to this one. My opinion, deal with it!

2 out of 5 stars

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two Spanish fishermen find a man in their nets who claims to be a member of the crew of Juan Ponce de León who was supposed to have died two hundred years previously while on an expedition in search of the Fountain of Youth. The man is brought to Cadiz, Spain, before Spanish King Ferdinand VI. Ferdinand orders the head of his Secret Service, known only as The Spaniard, to find the fountain. Meanwhile in London, Joshamee Gibbs is mistaken as Jack Sparrow while being put on trial for his former captain’s piracy to be hanged. However, a mysterious Judge – Sparrow in disguise – sentences Gibbs to life in prison and transfers Gibbs to jail under minimum security. During their hoped escape, having apparently given up on finding the Fountain, Sparrow reveals he came due to an imposter before he and Gibbs are arrested by crown forces. Jack is brought before King George II, who forces Jack to guide a British expedition to find the Fountain of Youth, with his guide being Captain Hector Barbossa, now a Privateer in the King’s service. Barbossa reveals to Jack that he lost one of his legs and the Black Pearl. Jack reacts angrily to this before causing havoc and making his escape. He then reunites with his father, Captain Teague, who takes him into a tavern and warns Jack that the quest for the Fountain will test him. Nevertheless, Jack continues as Teague tells him of two silvery chalices needed for the Fountain, and then advises him to join a crew being gathered within the tavern.

Jack discovers that the crew is being gathered by the impostor using his name. The impostor turns out to be a former love of Jack’s named Angelica. After they escape from the palace guard, Angelica drugs Jack and has him taken aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge under the command of the cruel Blackbeard. After Jack leads a failed mutiny attempt with the shanhaied crew, with the ship’s cook killed off as a example to halt any future plot against himself, Blackbeard uses both a “bottled” Black Pearl and a voodoo doll in his image to force Jack to lead him to the Fountain. Blackbeard is revealed to be Angelica’s father, and his quest for the fountain is to achieve eternal life so as to break a prophecy that foretells his death at the hands of a one-legged-man. Back in England, Barbossa takes Gibbs, who has memorized Jack’s map before burning it, with him on theHMS Providence to find the Fountain. On the Revenge, Angelica reveals to Jack that a ritual must first take place at the fountain before one can drink from it involving Ponce de León’s two silver chalices and a mermaid’s tear. She explains that the person who drinks the chalice with the mermaid’s tear will have his or her life lengthened by stealing the remaining life of whomever drinks from the other chalice. The Revenge arrives at Whitecap Bay, where Blackbeard intends to capture a mermaid. The crew are attacked by Tamara, Queen of the Mermaids, and they eventually capture a young mermaid. She catches the fancy of Philip Swift, a captive missionary, who later names her Syrena.

After setting sail to make port at safer waters, Blackbeard sends Jack to find the Santiago, Ponce de León’s ship, to retrieve his silver chalices. Meanwhile, the Providence is destroyed by the mermaids as Barbossa, Gibbs, and a handful of men march through the jungles to find the Santiago. Finding Barbossa on the Santiago, Jack and he discover that the chalices were taken by The Spanish. Under the cover of the night, Jack and Barbossa steal the chalices from The Spaniard’s tent only to be captured. While held captive, Jack has Barbossa admit that he became a privateer so he can exact revenge on Blackbeard for taking the Pearl from him. After freeing themselves and escaping with the Chalices, Jack and Barbossa devise a plan to defeat Blackbeard and then part ways. As this occurs, Syrena and Philip develop feelings for one another. Blackbeard makes it appear as if Philip is left for dead after having his throat slit. However, Philip has only been drugged, and when he awakens and returns to free Syrena, who sheds a tear of joy, which Blackbeard collects. Blackbeard takes Philip with him while leaving a heart-broken Syrena tied to a tree. The next day, Jack rejoins Blackbeard’s party and hands over the silver chalices to him while regaining his compass and giving it to Gibbs.

After Blackbeard’s crew arrives to the Fountain, Barbossa emerges with his men as Blackbeard realized Sparrow set up the trap. A fierce fight breaks out, and after being mortally wounded, Philip makes his way back to Syrena and frees her from her bonds. The battle ends when the Spaniard arrives with his Battalion, revealing that he came to destroy the fountain as he throws the silver chalices away before ordering his men to tear the fountain apart. Barbossa then stabs a horrified Blackbeard with his sword, which has been coated with tree frog venom. Angelica runs to her father, cutting her hand on the poisoned sword while pulling it from her father’s body. Blackbeard’s shanghaied crew then join Barbossa, who takes Blackbeard’s sword as his own and takes his leave. Staying behind to save Angelica, Jack obtains the busted chalices from Syrena and fills them up with the fountain’s last drops. Taking advantage of Blackbeard’s evil nature, Jack tricks him into drinking from the wrong chalice, which saves Angelica while reducing her father into a skeleton.

As Syrena spirits Philip away into the depths, Barbossa takes command of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and renounces his oath of loyalty to Britain (even finding his old pirate hat on board the Revenge) as he sails for Tortuga. Knowing that Angelica kill him for her father’s death, Jack maroons her on a deserted island with a single pistol so not to starve. Though Angelica tries to woo her way back into his graces, Jack leaves her anyway and she wastes her shot trying to kill him. Jack rejoins Gibbs, who managed to steal the bottled Pearl along with a fleet of other shrunken ships and Blackbeard’s treasure. They then head off on an adventure to restore the Pearl to its original size. In a post-credits scene, Blackbeard’s voodoo doll of Jack washes ashore in front of Angelica. She picks it up, and smiles as she realizes she can have her revenge.

REVIEW:

Jack Sparrow is back in the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. I’ve read some rather harsh reviews about this film saying things like this is more of the same, the plot is just as confusing and convoluted as the last couple of films, etc.

Well, after seeing it this afternoon, it is time I gave put my two cents in, don’t you think?

I won’t deny that this plot is a bit confusing, so let me simplify it for you. If you may recall at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Jack had obtained the map to the Fountain of Youth. Well, this one picks up a little bit after that, only you throw in Blackbeard and his daughter, who has had a previous relationship with Sparrow, and of course Barbossa. Make that go on for 2 hrs 17 minutes and you have Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

Johnny Depp returns as Jack Sparrow and has not lost a step in his portrayal, even though many of his lines are the same ones he’s been uttering in all 3 films.

Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa, similar to Depp’s Sparrow, hasn’t lost a step either, but there is an added wrinkle to him with the whole peg leg thing and working for the British empire, rather than being a pirate. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but there was something different about him. It may have been that he wasn’t in his normal Barbossa attire, but he looked noticeably slimmer.

The always gorgeous and delectable Penelope Cruz makes her debut in the franchise. I believe she was pregnant while filming this, but don’t quote me on that. Her character, Angelica, is a very complex one, much more so than Keirra Knightley’s Elizabeth Swan. Cruz is definitely and upgrade from Knightley, and if this franchise continues, I look forward to seeing more of her.

If you’re going to have Blackbeard in a film about pirates, you best damn be sure to get someone who can really do the character justice. Ian McShane fills this requirement to a ‘T’, but  sort of was expecting a bit more, but that is more a slight against how they wrote his character, and not his performance. Still, the guy is quite menacing, reminiscent of Barbossa when we first met him in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl or the first encounter with Davey Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Orlando Bloom and Kierra Knightley decided not to return because they felt their story couldn’t go any further and so that they could focus on other projects. This left room for a new innocent couple, played by newcomers Sam Claflan and Astrid Berges-Frisbey. Neither particularly light up the screen, but they do show signs of what could be good things to come, especially if this franchise continues and brings them along.

Look for a brief cameo by Judi Dench and small role from Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon from the Harry Potter franchise).

Normally, I would take the time to mention the scenery right about here, but with this installment, it isn’t as breathtaking. That isn’t to say Hawaii isn’t as beautiful a setting as the other places they filmed, it just didn’t seem to be utilized as well. I think this was due more to the director, though.

The action in this film seems to be a bigger part of it, which I loved, but they fights and escape scenes seem to have been nothing more than elaborate dance sequences. That may work for theater, but not a big budget action flick like this. I also would have liked for there to have been more swashbuckling. Call me old-fashioned, but I expect to see clanging swords and such in my pirate movies.

The mermaids were not what I expected. Seriously, how many of us think of mermaids as evil vampire type creatures as they are depicted here? These mermaids are a far cry from Ariel and that chick from Splash!

Now, let me get to the confusing part of this flick…the film begins with the Spanish learning of the location of the Fountain of Youth. After that, we don’t see them again, with the exception of Barbossa passing what looks to be Columbus’ expedition, until the end of the film. I have nothing against the Spanish, but they just seemed to be sort of unnecessary or underdeveloped, depending on how you look at it. I honestly don’t think it would have hurt to have left them out or give them the same kind of development the Royal Tea Company got in the last couple of films. At least that way, it would have made them more of something more than a nuisance.

That point aside, I liked the addition of the new characters (excluding the Spanish). They brought in new blood, but I think if this franchise is to continue, they need to find a way to put it back in the hands of the original director. Not to take anything away from Rob Marshall. He did a respectable job, just not worthy of its predecessors.

One would imagine that after all this time, this would be an upgrade from the previous film, but it isn’t. I think this is why many critics are disappointed. They were expecting more than what we get here. However, what we do get is something quite enjoyable, especially for a summer film.

So, here comes the big questions…should you see this? Well, of course! There isn’t anything keeping this from being a really good film. The minor issues it has keep it from being great. Having said that, though, as I was watching this, I had this cloud of something isn’t right hanging over me. Maybe it was my thinking that this is going to be the last thing I do on this Earth j/k Seriously, though, this is definitely worth the price of admission, but don’t expect it revolutionize the franchise. It is a bit of more of the same, but there is enough new stuff in there to keep it fresh. Go watch and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Kung Fu Panda

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The Valley of Peace is protected by the Furious Five, a quintet of warriors trained in kung fu by tortoise Master Oogway and his protégé, the red panda Master Shifu, and consisting of Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane. One day, Master Oogway has a premonition that the snow leopard Tai Lung, Master Shifu’s former student who gained a thirst for power and became evil, will escape from prison and attack the Valley. Oogway instructs Shifu and the others to hold a tournament in order for the next Dragon Warrior to be chosen in order to receive the power of the Dragon Scroll, a parchment said to give limitless power to whoever reads it, and defeat Tai Lung.

Po, an overweight panda and extreme kung fu fanatic, is anxious to see the tournament, but is instead forced to vend their famous noodle soup from his goose father, who hopes to reveal the secret ingredient to his special soup recipe. After finally climbing the mountain where the tournament is being held, Po finds that the arena is closed off and tries several means to spy on the events. During one such attempt, Po uses rockets tied to a chair and when the chair is destroyed in mid-air, he ends up falling into the middle of the arena just as Oogway is about to point out the new Dragon Warrior, and ends up pointing to Po, to everyone’s surprise. Unwilling to believe Po is destined to become the Dragon Warrior, Shifu attempts to conspire with the rest of the Furious Five to shun Po and make him leave the temple as soon as possible, but finds that Po, inspired by Oogway’s confidence in him, is very determined to learn despite his size and clumsiness. As the days pass, Po becomes friends with the rest of Furious Five, though still unable to grasp the basics of kung fu. Shortly afterwards, Oogway passes away and ascends in a sea of petals, leaving the training of Po to Shifu. They learn that Tai Lung has inadvertently escaped from prison, and the Furious Five leave to attempt to stop Tai Lung before he reaches the Valley. Meanwhile, Shifu discovers that Po has unusual talents when motivated by food, and is able to train him to use these talents to become a skilled warrior by promising food as a reward for succeeding in his lessons.

While the Furious Five face off against Tai Lung across a long rope bridge span, they are defeated and return to the temple to warn Shifu. Feeling Po is ready, Shifu gives him the Dragon Scroll, which is revealed to be an empty reflective foil. Shifu, at a loss for what to do, orders Po and the Furious Five to evacuate the valley while he prepares to face his former student. As Shifu and Tai Lung battle, Po finds his father during the evacuation, who remarks on Po’s success and noting that the supposed “secret ingredient” in his soup is nothing at all; it is the promise of something special that makes it special. Po realizes this is the same promise as the Dragon Scroll, and returns to the temple to help, luring Tai Lung into a fight over the Dragon Scroll. Though Po’s new skills are a match for Tai Lung’s power, Po is temporarily stunned, allowing Tai Lung to obtain the Scroll. However, Tai Lung is unable to understand its meaning despite Po trying to explain it to him. Po is eventually able to defeat Tai Lung with the destructively powerful “Wuxi Finger Hold.” With the Valley safe once more, the Furious Five fully accept Po as a kung fu master. Po finds that Shifu is exhausted but alive from his fight, and finally able to achieve inner peace with the end of Tai Lung. Po and Shifu form a close bond and are seen eating dumplings under Oogway’s favorite peach tree after the credits. A peach seed planted by Shifu before Oogway’s ascension has sprouted into a new plant.

REVIEW:

The conept for this film is one of the most original ones that I have seen in a long time. Good to know that Hollywood CAN still come up with an original idea. I’m a bit surprised that no one thought of this before, though.

The voice casting is inspired. Jack Black, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Seth Rogen, Ian McShane, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jackie Chan are all phenomenal, but Angelina Jolie comes off as cold and unbelievable. Then again, Tigress actually has meat on her bones.

I’ve read reviews comparing the beginning of the film to Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack. As a fan of said series, I don’t see it. To me, it just seemed like a quick cartoon dream sequence.

The scenery and animation are beautiful, but then again, it’s set in China, which has some of the most beautiful scenery to draw from.

This is a very entertaining film. There are no risque jokes, so its truly a family film. Everyone can and will enjoy it.

4 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