Archive for john goodman

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the Depression-era deep South, three escapees from a Mississippi prison chain gang: Everett Ulysses McGill, sweet and simple Delmar, and the perpetually angry Pete, embark on the adventure of a lifetime as they set out to pursue their freedom and return to their homes. With nothing to lose and still in shackles, they make a hasty run for their lives and end up on an incredible journey filled with challenging experiences and colorful characters. However, they must also match wits with the cunning and mysterious lawman Cooley, who tracks men, bent on bringing the trio back to the prison farm.

What people are saying:

“A roller-coaster ride with a goofy fun-house spirit, it’s full of clever pranks.” 4 stars

“This is the type of movie I like to revisit from time to time because I find it comforting in some kind of way. The music is the biggest standout for me, but I definitely find that I appreciate the comedy more as I get older too. ” 4 stars

“It takes a lot for the Coen Bros to make a movie that isn’t entertaining. ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ is engaging at times but it’s very hit or miss. The cast is having fun which isn’t unusual for a Coen flick, but it just didn’t make me laugh and there were instances I was bored. Worthwhile for the performances and the supporting cast but we have come to expect better from Coen and Company. ” 3 stars

“The Coen brothers cleverly combine the Odyssey with the Depression to create this wonderfully humorous and lighthearted tale of three escaped prisoners on a quest. With a few detours and strange encounters along the way, their hilarious journey will entertain you through and through” 4 1/2 stars

“There is nothing else I can think of like this movie. Based on Homer’s Odyssey, it keeps its mythological feel even though everything could be described as mundane. It’s like the feeling you get while watching Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, but no magic is necessary here. And the role music plays in this film… it’s hypnotic. I can’t quite explain why, but this is (in my humble opinion) one of the greatest films to have come out in a very long time.” 5 stars

Advertisements

Bee Movie

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jerry Seinfeld stars in this animated comedy as recent college grad Barry B. Benson, a worker bee stuck in a dead-end job making honey who files a lawsuit against humans when he learns they’ve been stealing bees’ nectar all along.

What people are saying:

“Bee Movie is utterly amazing. It’s like a sequel to a movie no one has ever seen, but maybe someday we can get the prequel it deserves in “A-Movie.” 5 stars

“This is a decent but far from superb film from DreamWorks. While it does have plenty of moments and features an All-Star cast, it just feels a bit flat and underwhelming. It obviously does feature a very silly premise(which isn’t a bad thing) and Jerry Seinfeld is a big plus. Even though I’m a big Patrick Warburton fan, his character was pretty annoying. Overall this isn’t a terrible movie, it’s just not close to being among the studio’s finest efforts.” 3 stars

“Bee Movie is, pun-intended, a solid B movie with some laughable moments and inside jokes that can last a long time. It has an unusual charm that can always bring us a laugh.” 4 stars

“It will pass the time, but I expected more from Dreamworks. It is very clever and full of humor that will appeal to older audiences but the story here is very silly. It’s not top notch animation but it’s a unique enough movie that has enough laughs to warrant a viewing.” 3 1/2 stars

“It may not be the best insect themed CGI animated movie ever made, but it comes close. It’s certainly better than that over rated load of crap known as “A Bug’s Life” which in My opinion is the real worst of these kind of films. That being said, this isn’t a bad movie. It’s funny, has a good cast, a good plot, and it’s just a lot of fun to watch. Funny thing, is that last week I was looking for a movie to keep my nephews entertained, something they had never seen,and I finally decided to go with Bee Movie, I figured they would watch it and move on to the next movie like they(and most 3 and 4 year olds) tend to usually do, but no. Much to my shock, the nephews ended becoming to obsessed with this movie that I ended up deciding to let them keep the film. It’s only been two weeks and these kids have watched it nearly a hundred times. And I mean literally. I like this movie but with nephews who are even more obsessed with It how can I not give it to them? I’ll just get It at Hasting or ebay or something. I have NEVER seen these kids so obsessed over a movie as they are over this one. They just love it so much. ” 4 stars

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a pre-historic time, ancient Transformers detonate the Seed, killing all life on Earth. In the present, an archaeologist named Darcy discovers a dinosaur covered in an unknown metal.

Five years have passed since the Battle of Chicago. The U.S. government has severed its ties with the Autobots and branded them as fugitives. An elite CIA unit called “Cemetery Wind” is formed by Harold Attinger with the intent of hunting down and exterminating the surviving Autobots with the aid of Lockdown, a Transformer bounty hunter. Meanwhile, using data obtained from destroyed Transformers, business tycoon Joshua Joyce and his technology firm Kinetic Solutions Incorporated (KSI) have discovered “Transformium”, the molecularly unstable metal that is the lifeblood of Transformers. Joshua’s prized creation is Galvatron, a Transformer created from the data inside Megatron’s severed head with the aid of a captured Brains.

In rural Texas, struggling robotics inventor Cade Yeager and his friend Lucas Flannery purchase an old semi-truck in hopes of stripping it down and selling the parts to get Cade’s daughter Tessa into college. Cade discovers that the truck is an injured Optimus Prime, and it is not long before Lockdown and Cemetery Wind operatives led by James Savoy storm into the Yeagers’ farm and threaten them. Optimus comes out of hiding to fend off against the operatives while Cade, Tessa, and Lucas are rescued by Tessa’s boyfriend Shane Dyson, an Irish rally racer. They lose the operatives in a lengthy chase in Paris, Texas, but Lucas is killed by Lockdown’s grenade during their escape. Using a drone he took during the raid, Cade discovers that the operatives and KSI are working together. Optimus rallies the remaining Autobots – Bumblebee, Hound, Drift, and Crosshairs – and travel with their new human allies to infiltrate KSI’s headquarters in Chicago. There, Cade, Shane, and Bumblebee discover the firm’s reverse engineering of Transformer technology. Upon discovering that Ratchet has been slain and his head is being melted down, Optimus and the Autobots storm into the headquarters to destroy the laboratory and rescue Brains, but Joshua convinces them that their actions are futile and they are no longer relevant to this planet.

As the Autobots leave the premises, Joshua launches KSI’s prototype Transformers Galvatron and Stinger. Optimus and Galvatron engage in a grueling battle where Optimus realizes that Galvatron is Megatron in a new body. Suddenly, Optimus is blasted from behind by Lockdown, and in the midst of the chaos, he and Tessa are captured and taken into Lockdown’s ship. Aboard the ship, Lockdown explains to Optimus that the Transformers were created by a mysterious alien race known as the “Creators”, which hired him to capture the Autobot leader. As a reward for Optimus’s capture, Attinger’s operatives are given the “Seed”, a bomb that cyberforms any wide area of land if it explodes. Cade, Shane, and the Autobots storm into the ship to rescue Optimus and Tessa; while Bumblebee, Crosshairs, and the humans escape and crash into downtown Chicago, the other Autobots detach the rear section of the ship before it leaves into space. Joshua and his business partners Su Yueming and Darcy Tyril retreat to Beijing, where Attinger hands Joshua the Seed in exchange for a stake in KSI control. The Autobots and their human allies follow them to prevent them from detonating the Seed.

At KSI’s Beijing factory, Galvatron suddenly activates by himself and infects all 50 of the firm’s prototype Transformer soldiers to do his bidding. Realizing the folly of his creations, Joshua betrays Attinger before he, Su, and Darcy take the Seed to Hong Kong. There, the Autobots struggle to protect Joshua and the Seed from Galvatron and his minions, who shoot down the Autobots’ ship. Cade kills Savoy during a fight in an apartment building. Outnumbered and outmatched, Optimus Prime releases a group of legendary knights and leads them back to the city to destroy Galvatron’s army. Lockdown returns to Earth and uses his ship’s magnetic weapon to pull anything metal into his ship, in an effort to recapture Optimus. Optimus destroys the weapon and engages in battle with Lockdown before killing Attinger to save Cade. Lockdown grabs Optimus’s sword and impales him, but the combined efforts of Bumblebee, Cade, Tessa, and Shane distract the bounty hunter before Optimus stabs him in the chest and slices his head in half. Galvatron retreats, vowing to battle Optimus another day. With Lockdown dead and Cemetery Wind dissolved, Optimus sets the Dinobots free before flying into space with the Seed, sending a message to the Creators.

REVIEW:

If you’ve been keeping up with how Transformers: Age of Extinction has been doing with the critics, then you know they haven’t been kind. The average movie-goer, also hasn’t really had the nicest of things to say about this flick, either. This brings about the big question. What will I, a Transformers fanboy, have to say about what I just saw?

What is this about?

In the fourth CGI-fueled Transformers actioner, Cade Yeager is a father trying to protect his daughter, Tessa, from the perils of the outside world. Cade views Tessa’s beau, Shane, as one of the leading dangers, but the lad soon redeems himself.

What did I like?

New blood. Thank goodness, Shia LeBeouf and his constant spouting of “no, no, no!” are gone. In his place is Mark Wahlberg, his daughter Nicola Pelts (you may recall her from that horrendous The Last Airbender) and her boyfriend, Jack Reynor. The three of them, once they get over the family and dating issues, actually make a great team and a solid addition to this franchise, if not an upgrade from what we’ve been force fed in the previous films. Also, with Megatron gone, it is nice to have a new villain after the Autobots in Lockdown and the prerequisite new Autobots in Hound, Drift, and Crosshairs.

Dinobots. While I was watching my Denver Broncos get the taste smacked out of their mouths on Super Bowl Sunday, I was patiently awaiting the first trailer for this film. It wasn’t much, but it did feature Optimus Prime riding Grimlock (note- they never specifically call him Grimlock, or them Dinobots). Say what you will about what you think of this franchise, that was something that awoke the 10 yr old kid that would wake up and watch Saturday morning cartoons. That same feeling occurs when you finally see it happen on the big screen. Hopefully, Michael Bay, who said when he was making the first Transformers that he would never use the Dinobots, takes note of how well received these magnificent creatures are and will bring them back for more.

True form. Transformers: Dark of the Moon finally gave Optimus Prime his trailer, but those of that grew up with Prime still have a soft spot for what he is supposed to look like, which is a flat faced semi. For the first however long it is that we see Optimus, he is in the form that we all know and love…sort of. He’s all beaten down and rusted, but beggars can’t be choosy and, since Michael Bay is an ass and wants to ruin all of our childhoods, this is all we’re going to get.

Trilogy? Judging by how this picture ends, it seems as if they are setting up for something bigger down the road. A trilogy, perhaps? I’m not sure how I feel about that, but one more wouldn’t hurt, if for no other reason than to up the ante from this one, and there is a cliffhanger ending that needs to be resolved!

What didn’t I like?

Length and language. With a runtime of 2 hours and 45 minutes, this film takes everything you have and more. There is no reason for this film to be this long, but Michael Bay just has to show us his hard-on for the military and make sure they get their time in the spotlight, as well as plenty of explosive scenes that tend to drag on to the point that you are bored with them. I dare say a good 30-45 minutes could have been cut out of this flick and it would have been just fine. Also, as much as they want to keep advertising this as a darker, more mature film, the fact remains that kids are going to see it, so why all the cursing? Even Bumblebee, through the use of his radio (didn’t they fix his voice already?). slips a four-letter word out, but it is bleeped. I’m not usually one to complain about language, but this just was out of place and uncalled for.

Too many cooks in the kitchen. Apparently, filmmakers, or studio execs, rather, haven’t gotten the memo that there is such a thing as too many villains in a film. Here we have another case of that. First we have the bounty hunter, Lockdown, who should have been the main villain, and is treated as such in parts. Next, there is Kelsey Grammer’s CIA or FBI agent character, who apparently thinks that the Transformers are the worst thing ever, and that the events of the previous film were solely on their shoulders. Somehow, the human involvement is forgotten. Lastly, there is Galvatron, who I can’t say much about, for risk of spoiling anything, but if you know anything about G1 Transformers, then you have an idea of who he is. Now, Grammer’s character gets the majority of the antagonist role, followed by Lockdown, and Galvatron is forgotten, except for when he actually puts his plan into motion, but by that time it just seems like he is just an inconvenience and a distraction whose main purpose is to create and army so they can use more CG. Seriously, they should have focused on Grammer and Lockdown, and maybe had a post-credits scene involving Galvatron coming to “life” instead of being a mindless drone. That way, those two characters could have been more fully realized and Galvatron could be the character that deserves to be, rather than a shoehorned villain, a la Venom in Spider-Man 3.

Only human. I think I have said this for 3 of the 4 films in this franchise. Ironically, the one I didn’t say this about is the one that gets criticized for giving the robots actual characterizations. You just can’t win for losing, I guess. At any rate, this film is entirely too obsessed with giving us a human story. The audience goes in wanting to see a flick about giant robots, not some drama about a dad and his daughter and the boyfriend who is some kind of Irish stunt car driver. Bay needs to learn that the audience for this film could care less about the humans. True, you get a star like Mark Wahlberg, you’re not going to have him do nothing, but this is a film that needed to be more about the Transformers. Speaking of giant robots, I am not sure whether this was intentional, but I have to give it up for naming Wahlberg’s character Yeager. What’s so special about that? Well, that’s the name of the giant robots in Pacific Rim. Suddenly, yesterday, a sequel was announced to that film. Hmmm…

Primal attitude. Continuing with Michael Bay raping and pillaging all that is good and holy out of the Transformers universe, he has taken Optimus Prime and turned him into a bitter shell of himself, rather than the unflappable, John Wayne-esque leader he is best known for. Given the circumstances, I can understand a little change, but he should have reverted back to his normal self. Also, Bumblebee seems to have problems keeping his emotions in check with this one. That fancy new Transformers: Prime inspired face mask probably had something to do with is. Keeping with the attitude, I loved the design of Crosshairs, but why was he so full of prejudice towards the humans? Hound, who looks like he was designed more like Bulkhead. Finally, there is Drift, the samurai. Love that design, but hate that they made him such a stereotype, complete with broken English. Did Ken Watanabe not read the script before he signed on for this?!?

It is obvious that Bay and his cronies did a little more research into the Transformers universe. Why else would there be so many obvious references and inspirations from Transformers: Animated and Transformers: Prime. However, that does not mean that they have made Transformers : Age of Extinction the Transformers film we have all been waiting to see. Even with the “Dinobots” making an appearance and the new Transformers antagonist, Lockdown, there is just too much wrong with this film for it to be respectable. It is no wonder everyone is hating on this film. However, I’m not one of those that jumps on the bandwagon and hates a film for no good reason. I actually liked parts of this film and think that it is worth watching. I recommend you at least give it a shot, knowing how flawed it is. This is a summer action flick, if you will remember. Check it out and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Monsters University

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews, Pixar with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A young monster named Michael “Mike” Wazowski dreams of being a scarer (a monster who enters the human world at night to scare children so their screams can be harvested for energy) when he grows up, after visiting Monsters Inc.—Monstropolis’ most profitable and best-known scaring company—on a school field trip. Eleven years later, Mike is a first-year scare major at Monsters University, where he meets his new roommate, Randall “Randy” Boggs, and a large, blue, furry monster named James P. “Sulley” Sullivan.

Mike studies hard, while the privileged Sulley—who comes from a talented family of scarers—relies on his natural scaring ability and begins to falter. As the semester progresses, Mike and Sulley attempt to join a fraternity as pledges, but only Sulley gets into Roar Omega Roar. At the final exam for Scaring 101, Dean Abigail Hardscrabble fails them both and drop them from the program, stating that Sulley doesn’t study enough and Mike is not at all scary, prompting Roar Omega Roar to remove Sulley from their team. Mike decides to prove himself by entering the Scare Games, but Oozma Kappa—the only fraternity that was removed from the program—is denied entry as they are one team member short. Seeing the competition as his ticket back into the scare program, Sulley joins and Mike reluctantly accepts.

Oozma Kappa fails the first challenge, an obstacle course where the contestants dodge harmful, glowing “urchins,” but miraculously advances when another team is disqualified for using protection gel, which violates the Scare Games rules. Oozma Kappa places second in the second challenge, where the contestants have to avoid disturbing the librarian from her reading. The contestants attend Roar Omega Roar’s party where the other competitors humiliate and discourage Oozma Kappa. Mike arranges a secret visit to Monsters, Inc. to lift their spirits, but Sulley still doubts that Mike can be a true scarer. In the final round, they pull off a close victory cemented by a final decisive scare by Mike in the simulation bedroom. Afterwards, Mike discovers that Sulley cheated to improve Mike’s score. Determined to prove he is capable of becoming a scarer, Mike breaks into the school’s door lab and enters a door to the human world, but the door leads to a summer camp and he is unable to scare a cabin full of children.

Back at the university, Sulley confesses to Hardscrabble that he cheated, just as she is notified of the break-in. Realizing what happened, Sulley enters the door to look for Mike. After finding and reconciling with him, they try to return but they find they are trapped in the human world because Hardscrabble has deactivated the door while waiting for the authorities to arrive. Mike realizes that the only way to get back into the monster world is to generate enough scream energy to power the door from their side. Working together, Sulley and Mike terrify the adults, generating an overwhelming amount of scream energy and allowing them to return to the lab.

Their actions lead to their expulsion from the university, but the other members of Oozma Kappa are accepted into the scare program the next semester because Hardscrabble is impressed with their performance in the games. They share goodbyes and as Sulley and Mike leave, Hardscrabble tells them they are the first to have surprised her and wishes them good luck in the future. Mike and Sulley begin work at Monsters, Inc. in the company mailroom under the mailroom manager, the Abominable Snowman. Working their way up through the company, the two eventually become part of the Scarer Team, thus setting the events of Monsters, Inc. in motion.

REVIEW:

Pixar was once the gold standard for computer animation, but they’ve been on a bit of a downward spiral of late, so they decided to go back to the well and do a prequel to one of their most popular films, Monsters, Inc. This is where we get Monsters University, but there are two questions we all have. Could the prequel live up to the original and is this film going to continue the downward spiral of Pixar.

What is this about?

This prequel to Pixar’s popular animated tale Monsters Inc. once again features eccentric monster pals Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan. Set during their college days, the film tells the strange and amusing tale of how the pair became friends.

What did I like?

Evolution. There are two ways to look at how the animation has improved since we originally saw Mike and Sully. First, look at how much better their younger selves look compared to the older versions of years passed. As time has passed, Pixar has refined their animation style, which is why these characters look so much better and move smoother than they did originally. Second, take a gander at the backgrounds. The detail in the grass on the field, the books in the library, the stones on the buildings/floors are something to behold, much like the way Sully’s fur took our breath away in the original.

Voices carry. Aside from the returning voices, we get new characters. The two antagonists obviously stand out, especially to me as they are two of my favorite actors. First, there is the president of Roar Omega Roar, a scaring fraternity, who is voiced by Nathan Fillion. Fillion gives this character a smug demeanor, very similar to the his counterpart in Revenge of the Nerds. Second, there is the Dead of the Scarer program, who is voiced by Helen Mirren. Before I get into her voice, I have to mention the design of this character. Waternoose in the first film was a little scary, but it was obvious they just missed and matched some parts to create him. Dean Hardscrabble literally could appear in a horror film and give you nightmares. Helen Mirren gives her the headmistress voice she deserves, scary, firm, and in charge.

Getting it right. As you can imagine, there are plenty of references to characters we see in the original, but none of these are overdone. Everything seems to gel just right and nothing seems forced into the mythology, for lack of a better term. I have to commend these writers for that. There are many prequel films that have not been able to accomplish that feat.

What didn’t I like?

Original. I didn’t get the same sense of originality and wonder here as I did with the first film. As a matter of fact, it felt like a watered down version of Revenge of the Nerds in more places than I would have liked. Realizing that it is hard to do the underdog college fraternity story these days without the inevitable comparison to the nerds, I just felt that they didn’t need to stick so close to the “source material”.

Loose end. At the risk of spoiling anything, there is a scene where Mike and Sully get locked in the human world. Sound familiar? Well, the same thing happens in the original film, but under different circumstances. For me, I felt that this was a cop out and they couldn’t think of a better way to set up their close bond, not to mention make them pay for what they did in the games.

Joke. I don’t want to be that guy, but I really didn’t feel there was a need to have the older Oozma Kappa member hook up with one of the brothers’ mother. Making matters worse, in one of the final scenes, there is some rather odd wording that just seems out of place for a film like this. I won’t say what it is, and this is just a minor complaint, but it didn’t sit very well with me.

When I was at Disneyworld back in March, there were plenty of signs leading up to the release of Monsters University, such as the shrubbery cut in the shape of Mike, Sully, and even the entrance to Monsters U. At the time, I thought it was a bit much for a film that probably wasn’t going to be any good, but after seeing it tonight, I’m highly impressed and recommend this as a must-see. There haven’t been many films to blow me away this year, but this is one of them. Check it out as soon as you can!

5 out of 5 stars

The Hangover Part III

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two years after the events in Bangkok, Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) escapes from a maximum security prison, using a riot as cover. Meanwhile in America, Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) causes a 20-car freeway pileup after he purchases a giraffe and accidentally decapitates it on a low bridge. Alan’s father Sid (Jeffrey Tambor), furious with Alan for never owning up to his mistakes, dies of a heart attack in the middle of a lecture. After the funeral, Alan’s brother-in-law Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) informs friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) and Stu Price (Ed Helms) that Alan has been off his ADHD medication and is out of control. They attend an intervention, in which Alan agrees to visit a rehab facility in Arizona, so long as “the Wolfpack” takes him there. On the way to Arizona, Phil’s minivan is rammed off the road by a rental truck and the group is taken hostage. They are later confronted by mob leader Marshall (John Goodman) and “Black Doug” (Mike Epps), his head of security.

He tells them that Chow hijacked half of a $42 million gold heist and, seeing how Alan has been the only one to communicate with Chow during his imprisonment, deduced that the Wolfpack could locate him and retrieve the gold. Marshall kidnaps Doug as collateral and gives the others three days to find Chow, or else Doug will be killed. Alan sets up a meeting with Chow in Tijuana, Mexico, where Stu and Phil will hide and attempt to drug him. However, Alan gives away their location and he forces them to confess they are working for Marshall. Chow explains his plan to retrieve the stolen gold from the basement of a Mexican villa he previously owned. Stu, Alan and Phil break into the house and successfully retrieve the gold, but Chow double-crosses them by locking them in the basement, rearming the security system and escaping in Phil’s minivan. They are arrested but mysteriously released from the police station, where they are picked up by a limousine and taken back to the villa, where they meet up with Marshall.

They learn that Chow had lied to them; the villa was never his and the gold they stole was the other half he didn’t get from Marshall. Marshall forgives them for their mistake but kills “Black Doug” for his incompetence and reminds them of their now two-day deadline. The group tracks Phil’s phone, which was left in the minivan, outside a pawn shop in Las Vegas. The pawnshop owner, Cassie (Melissa McCarthy), tells them that Chow traded a gold brick for $18,000, far less than its usual sell rate of $400,000. Using Stu’s former lover Jade (Heather Graham) as their contact, they learn that Chow is barricaded in the penthouse suite of Caesars Palace. Phil and Alan sneak into his suite from the roof, but Chow escapes, jumping from the balcony and parachuting down to the strip. Stu catches up to Chow and locks him in the trunk of the limo that Marshall had lent to them. They take the gold and meet with Marshall, who releases Doug back to the group. Although Marshall initially promised to not harm Chow, he changes his mind and shoots through the trunk of the car, presumably killing him. Luckily, Alan had freed Chow through a backseat compartment just moments earlier.

Chow emerges from the limo and kills Marshall, allowing the Wolfpack to live because Alan had saved his life. He offers Alan a bar of gold as a gift, but Alan turns him down, and ends their friendship due to Chow’s unhealthy influence on the group. As Chow sadly watches them leave, they go to retrieve Phil’s minivan from the pawnshop and Alan makes a date with Cassie. Six months later, the two marry. Vowing to begin taking responsibility for his actions, Alan regretfully resigns from the Wolfpack, but would still like for the gang to hang out on occasion. As the four walk to the ceremony, a montage of clips from the previous films play, thus ending the film. In a post-credits scene taking place the morning after the wedding, Alan, Cassie and Phil appear to have staged another wild party that they cannot remember. Stu emerges from the bathroom with breast implants and Alan remembers that the wedding cake was a gift from Chow, who emerges from the next room naked, laughing and wielding a Katana.

REVIEW:

I’m not sure anyone really wanted it, but bring the Wolfpack trilogy to an end, we have The Hangover III. The big question that has been surrounding this has been, can they recapture the magic that made the first film such a huge hit, or will this one fall flat on its face and suffer from sequel-it is?

What is this about?

Capitalizing on the success of two previous Hangovers, Phil and the boys set out on another road trip and soon find their plans reduced to chaos. Before the dust settles, the gang will have to figure out how to rescue Alan from a mental hospital.

What did I like?

Giraffe. Ok. Decapitating a giraffe is a bit much. I’m no fan of killing animals, especially majestic ones such as giraffes, but the fact that this sequence captured the audience is something to be aware of. It very well could have just ducked under the bridge. Seriously, though, if you saw someone driving down the interstate with a giraffe, wouldn’t you be stunned and shocked, too?

Full circle. Since this is supposed to be the end of the saga, it just seems right that they bring things around full circle and return to Las Vegas. If you recall, The Hangover was set in Vegas. Also, some characters from the other films returned. I was very glad to see Heather Graham again, but it would’ve been nice to see Mike Tyson.

Molly. How can anyone not like Melissa McCarthy? She’s cute, cuddly, and funny! Her character here is an employee at a pawn shop and apparently has an attraction to the lovable shlub, Alan. The chemistry between the two of them is great, especially when we see them again near the end.

What didn’t I like?

Rushed. I like to point to Shrek 3 as a sequel that was bad, rushed into production, and was nothing more than a cash grab. Well, this film falls into many of those same trappings. When this was announced, I felt like they were rushing it out just to cash in, and the finished product just validates that thought.

Characters. The plot for this doesn’t matter, let’s face it. We watch this franchise for the interaction of the characters, especially to see what Alan does. However, this whole film may as well have been the Alan and Chow show, because the others may have been kidnapped along with Justin Bartha’s character, because they served no purpose, other than collecting a paycheck. Where was the funny confidence of Bradley Cooper’s character? Where was the funny neuroses of Ed Helms’ character? They surely weren’t to be found in this threequel.

Ending. I’m not going to spoil the ending, just know that it leaves things open for a possible 4th film, while also being a fitting ending for this franchise, considering what it is. Having said that, during the ending, we get full frontal of Ken Jeong. I don’t want to seem like I have a double standard, because if that was a female, I’d have no qualm with seeing her full frontal, but just seeing Jeong standing there in his “glory” was uncomfortable for me.

This is a franchise that surprised everyone with the first film. The Hangover part II was actually very well received, but The Hangover part III just seems as if they stopped trying and figured they had an automatic license to print money. That sadly was not the case. I enjoyed parts here and there of this film, but not enough to blow me away. It was just an average outing. Thank goodness for Melissa McCartney and that giraffe, because everything else falls flat. Sure, you can check it out if you want, but I won’t really recommend it.

3 out of 5 stars

Flight

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On October 14, 2011, Airline captain/ recreational drug user Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) awakens in his Orlando hotel room with flight attendant Katerina Márquez (Nadine Velazquez) after a night of sex, alcohol, and very little sleep. After using cocaine to wake up, he boards SouthJet flight 227 to Atlanta. After Whip threads the plane through severe turbulence at takeoff, copilot Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty) flies the airplane while Whip discreetly mixes vodka in his orange juice and takes a nap. Whip is jolted awake just before their final descent and the aircraft goes into a steep dive as a result of an apparent catastrophic failure of all pitch control. Whip rolls the plane upside down to bring it out of the dive and maneuvers the plane right-side up just before crash-landing in a field. He loses consciousness shortly after impact.

Whip awakens in an Atlanta hospital with minor injuries. He is greeted by his old friend Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood), who represents the airline’s pilots union. He tells Whip his heroism saved 96 of 102 people on board. A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) official informs him Katerina was among those killed, and that Evans has been put into a coma.

Sneaking a cigarette in the stairwell, Whip meets Nicole (Kelly Reilly), who is recovering from an overdose, and promises to visit her when they leave the hospital. In the morning, his friend and drug dealer, Harling Mays (John Goodman), picks him up and sneaks him away from the hospital. Whip drives to his late father’s farm, hoping to avoid the media. When he meets Charlie and attorney Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle), they explain that the NTSB performed a hospital toxicology screen, while he was unconscious, showing that Whip was intoxicated. The test had the potential to send Whip to prison on alcohol, drug and manslaughter charges. Lang promises to get the toxicology report voided on technical grounds, but Whip angrily leaves and seeks Nicole. He finds her bailing on her lease, offers to pay for it, and lets her stay at the farm.

Nicole and Whip begin a romantic relationship, but Nicole is trying to stay sober while Whip keeps drinking, and she soon leaves. The media soon discovers his farmhouse, so he drives, while intoxicated, to visit his ex-wife (Garcelle Beauvais) and teenage son (Justin Martin). They call the police after Whip makes a drunken scene at the house and he finally leaves, only to discover the media waiting outside for him. He begs to stay with Charlie, vowing not to drink before the upcoming NTSB hearing.

The night before the hearing, Charlie and Hugh check Whip into a guarded hotel room to ensure he does not get intoxicated. His mini-bar has only nonalcoholic beverages, but Whip notices an open door to the adjoining room and finds a mini-bar full of alcohol. Charlie and Hugh find him the next morning, passed out drunk. They call Harling, who brings him cocaine to perk him up for the hearing.

At the hearing, Ellen Block (Melissa Leo), the lead NTSB investigator, reveals the cause of the plane’s first malfunction to be a damaged elevator assembly jackscrew. She commends Whip on his valor. Just as it appears Whip will escape blame, Block notes that there were two empty alcohol containers found in the trash on the plane; Whip knows these were his. Block points out that only the flight crew had access to the alcohol, and since only Katerina’s toxicology screen showed alcohol, Block asks Whitaker whether he thinks Katerina may have been drinking on the job. Refusing to taint Katerina’s good name, Whip admits not only that he was flying intoxicated but also that he is intoxicated at the hearing.

Thirteen months later, an imprisoned Whip, serving a minimum five-year sentence, tells a support group of fellow inmates that he is glad to be sober and does not regret doing the right thing, because he finally feels “free”. He is shown to have pictures of Nicole and other family and friends on the wall of the cell, along with greeting cards congratulating him on being sober for a year. In the final scene, Whip’s son visits him to interview Whip for a college application essay on “the most fascinating person I’ve never met”.

REVIEW:

I’m constantly getting asked why it is that I won’t get on a plane. Contrary to popular belief, it is not because of the events or 9/11, but rather because of my intense fear of heights. Although, after watching Flight, I might be even more hesitant to set foot on a plane for fear the pilot may be drunk or high and not as capable!

What is this about?

After his amazing safe landing of a damaged passenger plane, an airline pilot is praised for the feat, but has private questions about what happened. Further, the government’s inquiry into the causes soon puts the new hero’s reputation at risk.

What did I like?

Wow factor. Say what you will about Denzel Washington’s character’s drinking and drug use, the fact remains that he pulled off flipping that plane over and saving the lives of all but a handful of people on board. Not many pilots would have been able to pull that off, as he mentions a couple of times through the film.

Side plot. Aside from the ongoing saga of what is going to happen with Washington’s flight investigation, there is some side plot involving a young woman who is down on her luck and a recovering addict. At frist, it doesn’t seem to make any rhyme or reason as to how it fit into the proceedings, but things take shape once they converge and meet out in the hospital stairway. It was a nice little side plot that normally I would throw away as unnecessary, but actually found myself caring for and wanting to see what happens to this young woman.

Levity. A film like this could so easily fall into the realm of the dark and serious, and at times it does. Then we get a dose of John Goodman’s character, who injects some humor here and there. I personally think we could have used a bit more of him, but what we got was a nice little taste of the funny at times when it was much needed.

What didn’t I like?

Aftermath. I don’t know about you, but I figure if someone manages to keep a plane from totally crashing and saves nearly everyone on it from suffering a fiery death, they should be revered as a hero. For the most part, Washington’s character was, but there was also that investigation hanging over his head

Flight. For a film that has flight in the title, there is very little flying to be seen here. After the crash, we never see the sky again. I wish either we would have gotten more sky miles. All this groundswell, for lack of a better term, didn’t work for me as well as it did for some people. Maybe it is the Air Force brat in me, but I was hoping to go up in the wild, blue yonder.

Family. The ex-wife was brought in, but I have to question why, as she and the son served no real purpose. Add on that they got a hot actress to play her, and it really made no sense. As far as the son goes, he was just one of those cocky teens that we see more and more these days, but he does get a bit of redemption in the final scenes. Were they needed in terms of the story, though? No, not really, but given the way things were going up to that point, I can see why they were there.

Flight is one of the films that, pardon the pun, flew under the radar. Some people have even gone so far as to say this was an Oscar snub. I’m not going to get into that debate, but with the great acting on display here, it isn’t very hard to see why it was so well-received. I highly recommend this to all who wish to take a break from the usual comic book, tween drama, and kiddie flicks that populate theaters and movie shelves these days.

4 1/4 out of 5 stars

Argo

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Militants storm the United States embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, in retaliation for CIA involvements in Iran. More than 50 of the embassy staff are taken as hostages, but six escape and hide in the home of the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). With the escapees’ situation kept secret, the US State Department begins to explore options for exfiltrating them from Iran. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA exfiltration specialist brought in for consultation, criticizes the proposals, but is at a loss for an alternative. While on the phone with his son, he is inspired by watching Battle for the Planet of the Apes and begins plans for creating a cover story for the escapees being Canadian filmmakers who would scout exotic locations in Iran for a similar science-fiction film.

Mendez and his supervisor Jack O’Donnell (Bryan Cranston) contact John Chambers (John Goodman), a Hollywood make-up artist who has previously crafted disguises for the CIA. Chambers puts them in touch with film producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin). Together they set up a phony film studio, publicize their plans, and successfully establish the pretense of developing Argo, a “science fantasy” in the style of Star Wars, to lend credibility to the cover story. Meanwhile, the escapees grow frantic inside the ambassador’s residence. The revolutionaries reassemble embassy papers shredded before the takeover and learn that some personnel have escaped.

Posing as a producer for Argo, Mendez enters Iran and links up with the six escapees. He provides them with Canadian passports and fake identities to prepare them to get through security at the airport. Although afraid to trust Mendez’s scheme, they reluctantly go along with it, knowing that he is risking his own life too. A scouting visit to the bazaar to maintain their cover story takes a bad turn, but their Iranian culture contact gets them away from the hostile crowd.

Mendez is told that the operation has been cancelled to avoid conflicting with a planned military rescue of the hostages. He pushes ahead, forcing O’Donnell to hastily re-obtain authorization for the mission to get tickets on a Swissair flight. Tension rises at the airport, where the escapees’ flight reservations are confirmed at the last minute, and a guard’s call to the supposed studio in Hollywood is answered at the last second. The group boards the plane just as the Revolutionary Guards at the airport uncover the ruse and try to stop their plane from getting off the runway, but they are too late, as Mendez and the six successfully leave Iran.

To protect the hostages remaining in Tehran from retaliation, all US involvement in the rescue is suppressed, giving full credit to the Canadian government and its ambassador (who left Iran with his wife under their own credentials as the operation was underway; their Iranian housekeeper, who had known about the Americans and lied to the revolutionaries to protect them, escaped to Iraq). Mendez is awarded the Intelligence Star, but due to the classified nature of the mission, he would not be able to keep the medal until the details were made public in 1997. All the hostages were freed on January 20, 1981, the day that Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the 40th U.S. President. The film ends with former President Jimmy Carter’s speech about the Crisis and the Canadian Caper.

REVIEW:

In the fall, a little film called Argo was released with a plot that seemed totally out of the box but, as it turns out, this was based on a true story. Fast forward a few months and this little film is now the winner of quite a few awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. As has been proven before, though, there is often a disconnect between what the Academy deems quality entertainment and what the public enjoys.

What is this about?

In 1979, when Iranian militants seize the American embassy, six Americans slip into the Canadian embassy for protection, prompting the CIA to concoct an elaborate plot to rescue them by pretending that they are filmmakers rather than diplomats.

What did I like?

History. I don’t recall hearing about this in any history class I’ve ever taken. Chances are, it was just brushed over. Since this happened in the late 70s/early 80s, there wasn’t much time to cover it, and those later chapters are quite thin. If this was in there at all, it was probably no more than a paragraph or two. What I’m trying to say is that it is a good thing that someone took notice of a part of history that isn’t as well know as say, WWII, and brought it to the masses.

Just like old times. One critic said, “It felt like a movie from an earlier era — less frenetic, less showy, more focused on narrative than sensation”, but that the script included “too many characters that he doesn’t quite develop.” I would be hard pressed to disagree with that statement. As someone who frequently watches older films, I did notice that the pace of this film was in no rush. Sure, there moments that are changed in order to create dramatic tension but, for the most part, this is a film that gives its audience credit for having a brain and an attention span, rather than just wanting to see stuff blow up and be done with it (those kind of films are nice, too, mind you).

Mix it up. I’m real big on films that insert a little bit of comedy here and there. This is a film that, from the outset, appeared to be nothing more than straight-forward, serious subject matter. Ben Affleck did a masterful job of throwing in some humor here in there. Not too much, but just enough. It is like that friend that cracks a joke or two when you’re having a bad day to cheer you up.

What didn’t I like?

Confusion. As I said earlier, I am not that familiar with this part of history, and I’m sure there are many in the same boat. This film does not to a good job of explaining what actually went on, because I was completely confused for most of the first half. Maybe it was just me, but there had to be some way that it could have detailed better.

Stereotype. Earlier this week, I was reading about how the Iranian government is wanting to sue Hollywood for all the accolades this film has received because they feel their people are being portrayed. Rather or not this influenced my view on this or not, I cannot tell you, but it is more than obvious that there is an anti-Iran tilt to this film. At times, it felt like watching a video game where you’re being chased by Iranian terrorists, and that should not have been.

Suspense. The problem with true stories is that when you try to  make them suspense they don’t work, mainly because we already know what happens. Suspense thrillers work best when we don’t know what happens. This is a minor complaint, but a factor that, through no fault of its own, hurts the film.

When all the smoke clears, Argo lives up to its reputation and is worthy of all the awards it received, if not more. This is a film that should be high up on the list for everyone to see. There is a mixture of drama, action, comedy, and a great story. Affleck has proven that he is a decent actor and an ever evolving great director. A definite must-see film, to be sure!

5 out of 5 stars