Archive for John Lithgow

The Accountant

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King (J.K. Simmons), starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.

What people are saying:

“It’s transparent in its attempt both to pimp a future franchise and give autistic kids their own superhero. There’s a genuine sweetness to the latter that converts me on the former. Headshots, math problems, and pained social interactions? Sign me up. Of the two movies Ben Affleck has been in so far this year, The Accountant and Batman V Superman, The Accountant has by far the most franchise potential” 4 stars

“The Accountant should be a straight-ahead thriller, but the film keeps tripping over its own incompetent feet. Maybe it was made for adults, but it sure doesn’t feel like it was made by them.” 3 stars

“It’s not that often a great story gets translated into a classy script and then benefits from top level acting. Thankfully this film manages to do all that and more. The unique story line combined with some excellent acting and action scenes is a triumph and is not just for those who crave some realistic looking action. Ben Affleck does a great job and makes the unusually talented and afflicted ‘Accountant’ believable. After this performance Ben Affleck must surely be at the top of the list to play ‘007’.” 5 stars

“This movie was sooooooo predictable and terrible. It rips off elements from “Jack Reacher”, “Rain Man” and “Grosse Point Blank”. All three of those movies are way better than this piece of turd. I think the PC crowd want to portray this movie as “inspiring” and about “family” or some other B.S. The movie has a message that autistic people have can live a productive life in a manner of a “normal” person. Meaning, we (the non-autistic people) just mis-understand the very special autistic folks. It’s the same formula as you have seen a hundred times. The Accountant is killing the bad folks for the greater good, but he is not an official law enforcement agent. He has to do things secretly, but with the covert help of a couple of legitimate treasury agents. Sound familiar? Kind of like Batman and Commissioner Gordon. (I did that on purpose btw.) Believe me, I “get” this movie. Wooden acting, (exception: J.K. Simmons) stupid, predictable story, and very slow pace. It’s pure garbage. I just read they are going to make “The Accountant 2″ as well. I guess it’s true, you can’t fix stupid” 1 star

“I thought the film did an excellent job of developing and explaining Ben Afflecks character. I also enjoyed the duplicity of his autism and the fighting skills that his father imbued in him and later how he learned to cope with these abilities / disabilities in adult life (quite the paradox). From personal experience: I know that autistic people have a skill sets, its finding it and making it useful too themselves and society that’s difficult. Too many times these people are written off because they are different than normal expectations and thats kinda of the bottom line of this movie. The previous reviewer is a good example of the herd mentality of people that just don’t get it and never will. (Small people with even smaller minds). I also enjoyed his marksmanship skills with a 50BMG Barret rifle, the one mile shots at cantaloupes and how he took out a pickup truck with it by shooting a hole in the engine block, no doubt also inspired by his Army father. In summary this movie is imperfect by design so that only enlightened people will appreciate and get it.” 5 stars

Harry and the Hendersons

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

George Henderson (John Lithgow) is returning home with his family from a camping trip when they hit something with the family station wagon. George investigates, and discovers to his horror and awe, that they had hit a Sasquatch. Deciding to take the creature home, George does so, strapping it to the roof of the car. Meanwhile, a mysterious hunter has been tracking the creature and discovers the Hendersons’ license plate, which fell off when they hit the creature. At home, curiosity gets the best of George, and he goes out to the garage to examine the creature. Much to his shock, the creature was not dead and has since disappeared. He hears noises from his kitchen and sees the creature, it has knocked over the fridge in its attempt to find food. After waking the whole house, the family realizes that the creature is friendly and kind. George has a change of heart, at first he wished to make money from the creature, but now decides to take him back to the wild. Naming the creature “Harry”, George tries to lure him into the station wagon, but Harry believes that the Hendersons mean him harm and instead he disappears.

Saddened, the family resume their normal lives, but as the sightings of Harry become more frequent and the media fervor heightens, George decides he needs to find Harry in order to keep him safe. George visits the “North American Museum of Anthropology” to speak with Dr. Wallace Wrightwood, an expert on Bigfoot, but is disheartened when he realizes its ramshackle state. Giving his number to the clerk (Don Ameche) inside the Museum, George resumes his search of Harry. The hunter from the woods is revealed to be Jacques LaFleur (David Suchet). Once a legendary hunter, he became obsessed with Bigfoot and has hunted for one ever since becoming a laughing stock. LaFleur tracks down the Hendersons, and begins to get closer to finding Harry. After a Harry sighting, George goes into the city to search for him. Meanwhile, the police are dealing with the sudden “Bigfoot Mania” by apprehending several local Bigfoot enthusiasts that are hunting Bigfoot in case the Bigfoot in question is someone dressed as Bigfoot. Following a car chase, George is able to save Harry from LaFleur, and LaFleur is subsequently arrested by the arriving police officers. When George brings Harry home, he and the Hendersons bury the hunting trophies and pay their respects to the dead animals that were converted into hunting trophies.

The next morning, the neighbors of the Hendersons notice hair in their pool as Harry is seen being dried off while watching The Addams Family. At the police station, LaFleur calls up someone stating that he has a lead on Bigfoot and tells him to secure his release by this day. George calls Dr. Wallace Wrightwood from the museum and asks to have dinner to speak about Bigfoot. At the Henderson house, George is met by the same museum clerk who is revealed to be Dr. Wrightwood himself, having also become a laughing stock. Dr. Wrightwood tries to tell George and the rest of the family to give up on Bigfoot as it has destroyed his life and will do so to theirs. His faith is rejuvenated when he meets Harry, and instantly he agrees to take him to safety, away from the city. By this time, LaFleur has been bailed of jail and heads to the Henderson house. George and Harry escape the house with Dr. Wrightwood and his old truck. LaFleur gives chase and eventually catches up with the Henderson family.

Fleeing to the mountains of Washington state, George tries to make Harry leave, going so far as to hit Harry. Confused and upset, Harry does not leave, allowing LaFleur to catch up to them. When LaFleur attacks the Henderson’s dog, Harry attacks LaFleur until George intervenes. Through George’s faith and Harry’s kindness, LaFleur changes his mind and decides that Harry deserves to live peacefully. As the family says goodbye, George thanks Harry for all he has done for the family and tells him to take care of himself, to which Harry replies “OK” (his first spoken words). As Harry leaves, several other Sasquatches appear from their hiding places and also disappear in the wilderness with him much to the amazement of the Hendersons. When Dr. Wrightwood asks LaFleur what he’s going to do next, LaFleur quotes “I don’t know. There’s always Loch Ness.” As the two of them laugh at that comment, the Hendersons keep waving goodbye to Harry.

REVIEW:

Going back to my elementary school days, one of the films that I seem to have a fondness for is Harry and the Hendersons, and since I’ve recently started watching 3rd Rock from the Sun again, this might be a good time to go back to this classic comedy. Will it still hold fond memories after I watch it again? Who knows?

What is this about?

Returning home from vacation, the Hendersons accidentally run over a strange Bigfoot-type animal. They decide to take the friendly “Harry” home, but soon they’re scrambling to hide their new friend from authorities and Bigfoot hunters.

What did I like?

Bigfoot. This is a different take on Bigfoot. Instead of the big, scary monster that will devour you whole, we get a big, scary, monster that cares for others. Also, I must mention the design of the character and how he was portrayed on screen. I believe this came out around the same time as Beauty & the Beast, and Harry’s look somewhat reflects that (as does the movie poster). As far as his portrayal, the actor inside the suit was able to show us more feeling through a few grunts and eye movements than I’ve seen from almost all of Hollywood in the last 5-10 yrs…at least.

Family. I’ve noticed that when a family is on-screen, they don’t often feel like one. When my family would take road trips, I would be doing two things…annoying my sister or sleeping. That feeling is what I got from watching this group. Typical mom and dad love each other and brother and sister are at each other’s throats. Ah….memories!

All the right pieces. Screen legend Don Ameche plays a scientist who had been studying/searching for Bigfoot for most of his life. The way we are introduced to him, one would almost think he’s hunting for Harry, too, but as it turns out he is one of the good guys. Chalk that up to Ameche’s ability to bring the audience in and manipulate us one way or the other. Now, couple him in a cast that also has John Lithgow, Lanie Kazan, and a couple of short scenes with character actor M. Emmet Walsh, plus the rest of the cast. Those aren’t bad pieces for a small family comedy, huh?

What didn’t I like?

Papa, can you hear me? I don’t really understand the reasoning for having Lithgow work for his father M. Emmet Walsh at their outdoor store. Anyone could have been the manager there and the father could have been used or brought in elsewhere. It just seemed an odd, not necessarily bad, choice. I would like to know the reasoning, but that’ll probably never happen.

Hunter for hire. Our antagonist is a French (maybe Canadian?) hunter with all sort of tracking, hunting, and military skills. What’s the problem with this guy? As a comedic villain, he was a bit too cartoony for my taste. They should have made this guy hardcore and serious about his craft, rather than the moustache twirling version we got on screen. I wonder how much different that prison scene would have been. Instead of the other prisoners avoiding him because of the stench, they’d probably be avoiding him out of fear!

Recovery. Here is something I have a problem with. The Hendersons bring home Harry, a 7 ft tall creature who proceeds to destroy their house and subsequently, the neighbor’s garden. This can perhaps be attributed to why no one has been able to actually see Bigfoot, but does no one else in this neighborhood hear all the noise going on at the house that hasn’t been there before? This was during the time when neighborhood watch was big and the slightest peep that wasn’t normal would send everyone to their phones calling the police. I don’t know, maybe I’m being a bit nitpicky about that, though.

Final verdict on Harry and the Hendersons? There was a time in the mid 80s where everyone was trying to rip off E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial. In some ways, this could be considered another of those, storywise…also probably the better ones. This lovable Sasquatch is definitely an underrated gem in family film. If I’m not mistaken, there was a spinoff TV show that lasted a few seasons, as well! Do I recommend this picture? Yes…yes I do.

4 out of 5 stars

Footloose

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on December 26, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ren McCormack (Bacon), a teenager raised in Chicago, moves with his mother to the small town of Bomont to live with his aunt and uncle. Soon after arriving, Ren makes a friend named Willard, and from him learns the city council has banned dancing and rock music. He soon begins to fall for a rebellious girl named Ariel, who has a boyfriend, Chuck Cranston, and an overprotective father, Reverend Shaw Moore (Lithgow), an authority figure in the town.

After trading insults with Ariel’s boyfriend, Ren is challenged to a game of chicken involving tractors, and despite having never driven one before, he wins. Rev. Moore mistrusts Ren, forbidding Ariel to see him. Ren and his classmates want to do away with the no dancing law and have a senior prom.

Ren goes before the city council and reads several Bible verses to cite scriptural support for the worth of dancing to rejoice, exercise, or celebrate. Although Rev. Moore is moved and tries to get them to abolish the law, the council votes against him. Moore’s wife is supportive of the movement, and explains to Moore he cannot be everyone’s father, and that he is hardly being a father to Ariel. She also says that dancing and music are not the problem. Moore soon has a change of heart after seeing some of the townsfolk burning books that they think are dangerous to the youth. Realizing the situation has gotten out of hand, Moore stops the burning.

On Sunday, Rev. Moore asks his congregation to pray for the high school students putting on the prom, which is set up at a grain mill outside of town. Moore and his wife are seen outside, dancing for the first time in years.

REVIEW:

One cannot help but get up and start doing the infamous dance that is associated with the title song and some may even go so far as to say that it is the reason Footloose is such a big hit. I have long been curious about this flick and this evening said curiosity has been satiated.

What is this about?

Kevin Bacon plays Ren McCormack, a decidedly urban teen who’s transplanted to a small Midwestern town where dancing is outlawed. Recruiting his best pal, the quiet Willard (Chris Penn), and his girlfriend (Lori Singer), a clergyman’s daughter, Ren starts a revolution by moving to the beat.

What did I like?

Soundtrack. Aside from the title track, this film has a soundtrack that consisted of many tunes that were or would go on to become huge hits in the 80s, such as Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear It for the Boy”,  Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero”,  Mike Reno and Ann Wilson’s “Almost Paradise”, amongst others. As a child of the 80s, hearing these songs always brings back memories, but hearing them in a film made and based in the time when they were actually released was a true treat.

Zealot. John Lithgow, in his days before 3rd Rock from the Sun, was quite the serious, accomplished actor and could really pull off the villanous type roles at the drop of a hat. It should come as no surprise that he gives a masterful performance as the kind of religious nut preacher that wields the kind of power which allowed him to get a law passed that outlawed dancing! The only thing missing was the stereotypical southern accent that evil preachers seem to have.

Bacon. This may very well be the role that brought Kevin Bacon to the attention of moviegoers everywhere and launched his career into superstardom. With good reason, too, as he is the perfect mix of  as one critic put it, “cocky and likeable”.

What didn’t I like?

Law. How in tarnation does a law pass that bans dancing? If you look up strange laws, you’ll find some weird ones, like a town that doesn’t allow you to eat chicken after 6 pm on the third Tuesday of each month. This law, which is more or less the major plot device for the whole film, doesn’t seem to make sense, or at least the fact that Lithgow brainwashed the town into getting it passed and no one has bothered to challenge him on it until Bacon comes to town, doesn’t.

Rebel. So, the preacher’s daughter is rebellious. Who’s really surprised by this, really? Heaven forbid we come across a preacher’s daughter who isn’t some sort of rebel and/or nymphomaniac, as opposed to the doting, holier than thought, perfect little angel that their father would like them to be. I wasn’t really a fan of this character and, truth be told, she didn’t really inspire me to have any feeling for her. Instead she just seemed like the kind of random hot chick that is the object of affection for the main character and, guess what, she is.

Book burning. Maybe I missed something, but the whole book burning thing that occurs near the end seemed to serve no purpose, and yet they kept trying to push this issue of bad books. Personally, I didn’t get it, but like I said, maybe I missed something.

Footloose stands as a great mixture of film and music without actually being a musical, thought it did make it to the Broadway stage as one. Also, it was sadly remade last year, and while the critics were all for it, audiences weren’t exactly jumping for joy to go see it. Needless to say, I won’t be rushing to watch it, either, but I’m no fan of remakes, so that’s no surprise. Stay away from that one and watch the original. You can never go wrong with the real deal!

4 out of 5 stars

The Campaign

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Democratic Congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) of North Carolina’s 14th District is running for his fifth term unopposed. However his campaign is damaged by the revelation of his affair with one of his supporters, when Cam accidentally leaves a sexually explicit voice message on a local family’s phone.

Corrupt businessmen, brothers Glen (John Lithgow) and Wade Motch (Dan Aykroyd), use this opportunity to convince Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), tourism director for the town of Hammond and son of one of their associates, Raymond Huggins (Brian Cox), to run against Cam on the Republican ticket, as part of a plan to profit from illegal dealings with Chinese companies. Cam at first underestimates Marty and humiliates him by playing a video biography highlighting Marty’s dim-witted nature. The Motch brothers then hire Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) to be Marty’s campaign manager. Tim reinvents Marty as a successful entrepreneur and family man. Marty’s popularity rises due to his effective campaign while Cam’s is further damaged when he accidentally punches a baby when intending to hit Marty. Cam later runs a campaign portraying Marty as an Al Qaeda terrorist, and Marty exposes Cam as a fake Christian by asking him to recite the Lord’s Prayer, which he fails to do. Cam attempts to restore his religious image by visiting a church of snake handlers, but he gets bitten by a snake. A video of the bite is leaked into the Internet and goes viral, increasing Cam’s popularity.

When Cam’s son plans to slander his competition for class president, Cam realizes he has set a bad example and visits Marty to make peace. A drunken Cam tells Marty that he originally became a politician to help people, citing that as class president he had a dangerous, rusty slide removed from the playground. After Cam leaves, Wattley convinces Marty to call the police and report Cam for driving while drunk. Cam is arrested and his campaign is again damaged. Marty later airs a TV ad of Cam’s son addressing Marty as “dad”. Cam gets revenge on Marty by seducing his neglected wife Mitzy (Sarah Baker) and recording the act. The released sex tape humiliates the Huggins family and causes Cam’s campaign manager, Mitch (Jason Sudeikis), to abandon him. Marty retaliates by shooting Cam in the leg on a hunting trip, increasing his own popularity.

As the election nears, Marty meets with the Motch brothers and learns of their plans to sell Hammond to their Chinese business partner and turn the town into a large series of factories. Marty realizes he has been used and rejects the Motch brothers’ support. The Motch brothers offer Cam their support instead to preserve their plans. Marty meanwhile reconciles with his family.

On election day, Cam’s victory appears to be certain until Marty comes forward and exposes the Motch brothers’ intent and promises to preserve Hammond if elected. Cam still wins and remains congressman due to rigged voting machines owned by the Motch brothers. While Cam gloats, Marty shows his large scars to Cam and reveals that he looked up to Cam in school for getting rid of the dangerous slide. Realizing he has swayed from his true objectives as a politician, Cam withdraws from the election and Marty wins by default. Cam earns back Mitch’s respect, and Marty later appoints him his chief of staff.

Six months later, Marty and Cam expose the Motch brothers’ scandals and the brothers are called to appear before Congress. The Motch brothers point out that everything they did is legal under Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, but they are arrested for their association with Wattley, who is actually an international fugitive.

REVIEW:

So, isn’t it about time we had a Will Ferrell flick (in English)? Well, we got it with The Campaign. Some people may avoid this flick because of its two leads, Ferrell and Zach Galiafianakis tend to rub them the wrong way, but together they make magic!

What is this about?

Plenty of mud gets slung when an inexperienced contender backed by two plotting benefactors goes up against a longtime North Carolina congressman in a ruthless battle to win a House of Representatives seat.

What did I like?

Chemistry. Ferrell and Galifiankis seem to really gel together as political rivals. Their distinctive brands of comedy really played well in contrast to each other, as did their portrayal of these characters.

Satire. You can say I’m a conspiracy theorist for this, but I don’t care. It is hard to not believe there are certain powers behind the scenes pulling the strings with nearly every politician from the local school board member all the way up to the President himself (as soon as I post this, I’m sure the Secret Service will be at my door). That being said, it is good to see a film take the ludicrosity of the enormous powers these people, I use that term loosely, have and skewer it. No person, or group of person should be allowed to wield such power!

Help. For all the talk of the guys running for office, we can’t ignore their assistants, played by Jason Sudeikis and Dylan McDermott, respectively. It is their job to be the proverbial straight men and keep things running smoothly. Oh, and hey also have to see to their guy getting elected.

What didn’t I like?

Release. I really question the timing of the release of this film. Seems as if it could have really capitalized on the election hoopla, rather than the late summer scraps. I can just see how this would have been a nice break from all the dark, evil feelings that came about during the election last month.

Is he or isn’t he. The way Zach Galifiankis’ character had a very effeminate way about him didn’t really sit right with me, especially since it turns out he is a Republican, a party not known for welcoming those who act “differently”. In a way it is kinda funny, but at the same time, not so much. It is just one of those things that works for a little while, and then you either begin to ignore it or grow weary of it.

Wives club. The wives seem to be forgotten. Ferrell’s wife has a bit more development, though she does run off with the children, but given his sexual indiscretions, that’s alright. Galifiankis’ wife, though, is as sweet as can be, but she is lost in the shuffle, save for a couple of scenes where she laments about how the election is changing and taking her husband away from her.

The Campaign is a nice little flick that is sure to bring a smile to those who watch it. As it is a satirical film, though, there are sure to be those that are offended by its view of politics. Rest assured, though, I don’t believe it veers to the left or right with its topics. I recommend this, especially around election time. It is the perfect flick to lighten things up.

3 out of 5 stars

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist at biotechnology company Gen-Sys who has been trying to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and is testing a new gene therapy drug on chimpanzees. The drug, a modified virus, mutates the chimpanzees, giving them a human level of intelligence. A female chimp who believes her baby is being threatened goes on a rampage and is shot by security guards. Will’s boss Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) subsequently orders chimp handler Robert Franklin (Tyler Labine) to euthanize the remaining test chimpanzees. Franklin cannot bring himself to kill the baby chimp and instead gives him to Will, who takes him home to raise.

Will’s father Charles (John Lithgow), who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, names the baby chimp “Caesar”. Caesar (Andy Serkis) has inherited his mother’s high intelligence and develops quickly. One day, after he frightens the children of their neighbor, Hunsiker (David Hewlett), and receives a cut on his leg, Will takes him to the San Francisco Zoo where primatologist Caroline Aranha (Freida Pinto) treats his injury. Will begins to take Caesar on excursions to the redwood forest at Muir Woods National Monument, but after an encounter with a family’s German shepherd, Caesar begins to resent his status as a human “pet”. When Caesar questions his identity, Will tells him that his mother and eleven other chimps were given “medicine” and that the reason for his intelligence is that the drug affected him while still in the womb. Caesar becomes more aware of his biological identity and begins to view himself as different from his human family.

A desperate Will tests a sample of his cure on his father. At first, his father’s condition improves, but eventually his immune system fights off the virus and his dementia returns. Confused, he attempts to drive Hunsiker’s car, thinking it is his own, and damages it, causing Hunsiker to lose his temper. Caesar witnesses the confrontation and attacks Hunsiker. He is subsequently removed from Will’s house by authorities and held in the San Bruno Primate Shelter run by John Landon (Brian Cox), where he is treated cruelly by the other apes and the chief guard, Landon’s son Dodge (Tom Felton). Caesar escapes from his cell and frees a gorilla kept in solitary confinement. With the gorilla’s assistance, Caesar gains dominance over the other apes by beating the sanctuary’s alpha chimp.

Will creates a more powerful form of the virus to resume treating his father, and Jacobs clears its testing on chimpanzees, which further increases their intelligence. However, unbeknownst to the scientists, it is fatal to humans. Franklin is exposed to the new virus and begins sneezing blood. Attempting to contact Will at his home, he accidentally infects Hunsiker, and is later discovered dead in his apartment. Will attempts to warn Jacobs against further testing but when Jacobs refuses to listen, Will quits his job.

After Charles’ death, Will bribes the elder Landon into releasing Caesar into his custody, but Caesar refuses to leave. He later escapes from the ape facility on his own and returns to Will’s house, where he steals canisters of the new virus and releases it throughout the cage area at the facility, enhancing the intelligence of his fellow apes. The apes put an escape plan into motion. Dodge attempts to intervene, leading to a fight with Caesar. Caesar shocks Dodge by shouting “No!” at him, and later kills him through electrocution. The liberated apes storm the city and release the remaining apes from Gen-Sys, as well as the entire ape population from a zoo.

The apes force their way past a CHP blockade on the Golden Gate Bridge and escape into the redwood forest. Jacobs, aboard a helicopter, falls to his death after the helicopter crashes and one of the apes kicks it off the bridge. Will arrives and warns Caesar that the humans will hunt them down, and begs him to return home. Caesar tells Will that he “is home” among his fellow apes. The final image shows the apes climbing to the tops of the redwood trees, looking out over the San Francisco Bay.

In the post-credits scene, Hunsiker, an airline pilot, arrives at work, infected by the virus. The camera pans to a filled flight-status display board, then fades into a stylized flight map animated with blooming trajectories implying the worldwide spread of a global pandemic

REVIEW:

Skeptical is not the word for what  originally thought of the notion of rebooting the great Planet of the Apes franchise. This whole idea of rebooting stuff is offensive and just goes to show that Hollywood can’t come up with their own ideas to save their lives! That point aside, this turned out to not be half bad.

If you’re not familiar with the original movies, they basically are about the Earth being run by primates with very few humans surviving, or something close to that. This film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, apparently seeks to inform the public how it was that the apes took over, or at least start to take over.

It would appear that this all started with a formula that was meant to cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s, but through some greedy corporation trigger happy guards. Unbeknownst to them, though, the “crazy” monkey they killed was doing nothing more that protecting her child. A child that was born with the drug in his system, and would go on to be raised by the doctor who created the drug. I don’t need to tell you that this all leads to things that aren’t so good, do I?

The most impressive thing about this film isn’t the story, but rather the motion capture, an art form that many are lobbying the Academy to create an award category for, and who can blame them, after this impressive showing. Sure, we’ve seen some great performances using this medium before, but this is the first time I believe we’ve really seen it at this magnitude. There is something to be said for this artistry and the mastery that Andy Serkis brings to the table when he is being “captured”.

I loved how this is a film called Rise of the Planet of the Apes. For the most part, they were the stars, too. Isn’t that the way it should be? Such a shame the Transformers movies were so hell bent on the human rather than the robots. This film goes to prove that just because you have humans in a film doesn’t mean they have to be important. Lord knows this could have very well gone into some doe-eyed love story between Franco and Pinto, but didn’t. The only real human emotion we got was the love for Caesar and a hint of sadness with the care and death of the father.

The cast really isn’t anything to talk about. They do their lines and get out of the way, allowing the apes to take center stage. However, it should be noted that Tyler Labine is capable of doing a serious role and keeping his clothes on, unlike in A Good Old Fashioned Orgy. Also, Tom Felton has started to make a name for himself away from Draco Malfoy, but it appears he’s just destined to be the villainous type of character actor, if this is any indication.

In conclusion, while I am not a fan of rebooting a franchise when they could have very well just have come up with some original idea, this is actually a really good film. The story is deep enough and there weren’t any plotholes that were glaring enough to be mentioned. While there probably could have been a bit more heart in it, it should be remembered that this isn’t a drama or kiddie film, so there really is no need for such theatrics.

Final verdict on Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Well, it has moments of greatness, mostly involving the apes. The fact that it lets the apes be the stars rather than forcing the humans down our throats is a huge plus in my book. The violent streak by the monkeys also really sells how they feel slighted by the human race and are out for blood. This is just a really good film that should definitely be seen by all. I highly recommend it, and then when you’re done, check out the original films.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Shrek

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2008 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The story begins with Shrek (Mike Myers) peaceably enjoying life within his home: a swamp. This is shattered when he inadvertently rescues the stubborn and talkative Donkey (Eddie Murphy) from soldiers sent by the short Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). Farquaad is obsessed with ruling a “perfect kingdom”, without any fairy tale creatures in it, and uses the Magic Mirror to select a princess bride to marry to become king. He chooses Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), who is held captive in a castle surrounded by lava and guarded by a fire-breathing dragon.

Much to Shrek’s chagrin, Lord Farquaad has relocated all the fairy tale creatures to his swamp. Shrek and Donkey head off to the Kingdom of Duloc so they can complain to Farquaad and Shrek can get his swamp back. When Shrek and Donkey get to the Kingdom, they interrupt a tournament Farquaad is holding in order to select a knight worthy of rescuing Princess Fiona. Lord Farquaad then sends the knights to kill Shrek, but Shrek easily defeats them. Lord Farquaad proclaims Shrek the winner of the tournament and agrees to remove the fairy tale creatures from the swamp if Shrek rescues Fiona.

When they get to the castle Shrek and Donkey split up to search for Fiona. As Shrek, after putting on the helmet of a fallen knight finds the princess, Donkey runs into the fire-breathing dragon and begins to give compliments to her to stop her from killing him. Dragon takes these compliments seriously and she subsequently takes Donkey away to her chambers. After escaping, Fiona orders Shrek to remove his helmet so they can share true love’s first kiss. Shrek refuses her request at first, but then shows her his true face. Upon realizing that he is an ogre and not her true love, she angrily refuses to go with Shrek back to Duloc. Shrek takes Fiona by force instead, picking her up and throwing her over his shoulder. The three set off back to Duloc.

On their way through the woods, Fiona insists that they should stop and make camp as sunset comes. Fiona sleeps in a little rock cave while Shrek and Donkey talk under the stars, where Shrek reveals he is upset that people judge him as nothing but a monster without getting to know him.

The next night, Shrek and Fiona are about to kiss when Donkey reminds them of the sun setting. Surprised, Fiona rushes into the old windmill near which they are camping. Donkey now thinks that Shrek and Fiona are falling in love, but Shrek feels that he and Fiona could never be and storms off. Donkey enters the windmill, but finds an ogress instead of Fiona. He realizes that the ogress isPrincess Fiona. She explains that she was cursed by an enchantment as a child by a witch: human by day, ogress by night, until she receives her true love’s first kiss and takes “love’s true form”. Donkey feels that Shrek and Fiona have a lot in common, and tells Fiona so. Meanwhile, Shrek comes up to the door of the windmill, ready to tell Fiona how he feels, but overhears only part of the conversation between Fiona and Donkey and thinks that Fiona is calling him a horrible monster, when she is in fact talking about herself. Shrek leaves, angry and heartbroken, without listening to the rest of the exchange: Fiona asks Donkey not to reveal the secret to anyone.

Before Shrek returns, Fiona decides that she will tell him about her feelings and her secret, confident that he will be understanding. The sun rises, turning Fiona into her human form. Shrek appears, but before Fiona can fully explain things to him, Shrek angrily tells her that he overheard her conversation with Donkey the night before. Fiona, not knowing that Shrek is under a false impression of her feelings from only hearing part of the conversation with Donkey, now assumes that Shrek is simply rejecting her because of her secret curse. This apparent hypocrisy and shallowness on Shrek’s park causes Fiona to become angry at him in return. Farquaad and his knights then arrive to pick up Fiona. Farquaad honors his arrangement with Shrek by relinquishing the deed to the swamp, then proposes marriage to Fiona. Still hurt and angry at Shrek, Fiona quickly accepts Farquaad’s offer. Farquaad takes Fiona back to Duloc and begins the preparations for the marriage, while Donkey rushes to Shrek, telling him to stop Farquaad from taking Fiona. Shrek refuses to listen and sets off for his swamp, leaving an upset Donkey behind him.

Shrek goes home to return to his normal life, even more miserable than before. Donkey returns to Shrek’s swamp to confront Shrek and tells him that Fiona was talking about somebody else rather than him. Shrek wants to end the wedding before it is too late, but worries he would not be able to make it in time. Donkey then whistles and Dragon appears offering to take them. Upon arriving, Shrek storms in and objects to the wedding. Shrek tells Fiona that Farquaad only wants to marry her so that he can be king and that he is not her true love. Farquaad realizes that Shrek has fallen in love with the princess. He and the rest of the citizens begin to laugh before he reminds Fiona that they are one kiss away from their happily ever after. The sun then sets, revealing Fiona’s ogre form. Farquaad, disgusted, orders his knights to kill Shrek and lock Fiona back in her tower. Shrek whistles and Dragon smashes through a stained glass window and swallows Farquaad. Shrek tells Fiona that he truly loves her and they share a kiss that turns Fiona into an ogress permanently. She is initially confused, as she was expecting to become beautiful, but Shrek assures her that she is beautiful.

At the end, the two get married and set off on their honeymoon in an onion carriage. In a post-credits scene, Shrek hosts a variety of songs sung by many of the characters of the movie.

REVIEW:

This is not your average fairy tale type of film, as the opening credit sequence will quickly show you.

The voice casting is top notch, but you have to wonder who turned down or lost out on roles and is regretting it.

The animation is not quite Pixar, but Dreamworks has carved its own little niche when it comnes to animation.

My issues are with the handling of Fiona’s nocturnal transformation and the reasoning behind it. Yes, she tells us what happens, but it wouldn’t have hurt to put in the extra few minutes for a flashback. Also, Farquaad is a fairly good villain, but he’s barely in the film, except for maybe a total of 10 minutes.  A villain should get more time, or at least be constantly mention in order to remind the audience who the antagonist of the story is.

I applaud the filmmakers for making a different type of fairy tale and giving us a different view of these fairy tale characters such as the Gingerbread Man, the 3 Blind mice, Pinocchio, etc.

This is a very good movie that everyone should see at some point in their lives. Hands down it’s the best of the series.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars