Archive for John Rhys-Davies

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Five years after the first film, Crown Princess of Genovia Amelia “Mia” Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) has just graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and is returning to Genovia with her bodyguard Joe (Héctor Elizondo). There, she will await her reign once her grandmother, Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews), steps down as Queen. During Mia’s 21st birthday party, she dances with all the eligible bachelors in hope of finding a husband. She becomes attracted to a handsome gentleman named Nicholas (Chris Pine). During the course of the night, Mia’s tiara falls off and is caught by a Member of Parliament, Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies) who secretly plans to steal Mia’s crown. While the Parliament is in-session the next morning, Mia stumbles upon a hidden room that allows her to secretly listen in. Viscount Mabrey reveals his nephew, Lord Devereaux, is another heir to the Genovian throne. Despite Queen Clarisse’s objection, the only way Mia can assume her duties as Queen is if she marries within the month. Clarisse invites Lord Devereaux to stay at the palace, while Mia is shocked to discover Lord Devereaux is Nicholas. Mia’s best friend Lilly Moscovitz (Heather Matarazzo) surprises her by visiting. Together, they pick through potential husbands. Mia eventually chooses Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue), Duke of Kenilworth and days later they are engaged. Mabrey plans to have Nicholas woo Mia and dissolve the engagement.

For a ceremony, Mia is to ride sidesaddle but does not know how. Queen Clarisse provides an ancestral wooden leg decoy to make it look like she’s riding sidesaddle. Mabrey spooks Mia’s horse with a rubber snake and Joe rushes to Mia’s aide, but accidentally tears off the wooden leg. Humiliated, Mia flees to the stables, where Nicholas fails to comfort her. At a garden party, Mia and Nicholas quarrel about Mia’s relationship with Andrew; Nicholas tricks Mia into admitting she doesn’t love him. Angered, she argues but instead gets bombarded by a kiss. At first, she kisses him back but then backs away. Nicholas pursues her even more, which causes both of them to fall into a fountain. Queen Clarisse finally tells Mia that her behavior with Nicholas needs to stop.

During the Genovian Independence Day parade, Mia sees some boys picking on a little girl (Abigail Breslin), and abruptly halts the parade to comfort the girl. Learning the children are orphans, Mia has a vendor give them all tiaras and lets them walk with her in the parade. Everyone is impressed by her act of generosity, while Mabrey sees it as a political maneuver. Mia later decides to convert one of the royal palaces into a temporary children’s center. That night, Mia has her bachelorette/sleepover party, where Queen Clarisse surfs on a mattress and sings a duet with Princess Asana (Raven-Symoné), one of Mia’s good friends. In the meantime, Mabrey realizes Nicholas has fallen for Mia, but Nicholas says that Mia will never love him. Nicholas comes upon Mia as she is practicing her archery as part of her coronation rites. He helps her succeed in getting the arrow to hit the bullseye, something she had been struggling with. Nicholas then informs Mia that he is leaving, but asks to see her just one more time before he goes. She declines, saying she is under close guard.

That night, Nicholas appears outside Mia’s window and asks her to come out. Lilly encourages her to go, and Mia sneaks out. They ride out to a lake where they share secrets, dance and eventually fall asleep. They awaken to find a man in a boat videotaping them. Mia thinks Nicholas set her up, while he insists he had no idea. By the time Mia gets back to the palace, the scandalous footage is already being broadcast. Andrew is disappointed and kisses Mia to see if there is a romantic spark between them. They realize they do not love each other, but do not call off the wedding for the good of Genovia. The wedding is to take place the following day, and Mia’s mother Helen (Caroline Goodall) comes with her new husband Patrick (Sean O’Bryan) and their newborn son Trevor. Nicholas decides against attending, but his surly housekeeper Gretchen informs him that Mabrey engineered their televised scandal.

Right before the wedding, Joe informs Mia that Nicholas is innocent. Queen Clarisse encourages Mia to follow her heart, something she has never done and has now cost her Joe, the only man she truly loved. Mia reenters the church, and after pointing out how her grandmother has ruled Genovia while unmarried for a number of years, she tells the members of parliament in the audience to consider the significant women in their lives (such as their wives, sisters, daughters and nieces) and questions if they would have them do what they’re trying to force her to do (marrying people they don’t love). Mabrey cites the law again and once again suggests that his nephew be named King, but just then, Nicholas not only refuses the crown, but also disowns Mabrey as his uncle. Mia proposes the law on royal marriages be abolished, and the Parliament unanimously gives its assent. Encouraged by Mia to have her own happy ending, Clarisse proposes to Joe and they are promptly married.

About a week later, Mia is preparing for her coronation when Nicholas shows up. He professes his love for Mia on bended knees, and they share a romantic kiss. The next day, Mia is crowned “Her Majesty Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, Queen of Genovia”, with all in attendance in the royal palace.

An epilogue shows that Genovian Parliament now allows female members, one of whom is Charlotte. And Queen Mia officially opens the children’s home

REVIEW:

Sometimes when the end credits roll on a film you wonder if you will ever see the characters again and what will they be up to the next time we see them, should we be privileged enough to see them again. This was the case with The Princess Diaries. The film ended in a way that left the audience wondering what happens next. Enter The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, a film that I swear I was not meant to see (up until tonight, I have never been able to watch it straight through for various reasons). With all that aside, let’s see if this film is comparable to its predecessor.

What is this about?

Directed by Garry Marshall, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement picks up where its predecessor left off — that is, with American teenager Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) reeling over the news that she is a princess within the royal family of Genovia, a little-known European nation with a population of barely 50,000. As promised, Mia, along with her best friend, Lilly (Heather Matarazzo), travels to Genovia after their high-school graduation. The unlikely princess has hardly settled into the castle, let alone begun representing the country, when she learns that a larger title is approaching more rapidly than expected; it seems as though Mia will have to take over as queen. Suddenly, in addition to further schooling on the etiquette of royalty, Mia finds herself with a daunting prospect — according to Genovian law, all princesses must be married before they can be crowned.

What did I like?

One more once. Not too long before the first film was made, Julie Andrews underwent surgery on her throat/vocal chords. The operation was a success, but she was no longer allowed to sing. I’m not sure what happened, but we get a song from her during the slumber party, albeit nowhere near as strong a vocal performance as we expect from her. Still, it is great to hear her sing a few notes.

In her skin. In this second time out, Anne Hathaway, as Princess Mia, seems much more confident both as an actress and the character as a royal. Can you imagine what this would have been like if she was still bumbling around like she was when we first met her? Granted, she does still have those moments that remind us that while she is the would be queen, the clumsy prep school girl is still in there somewhere.

Grandmother. Julie Andrews’ character is on her way out of the royal spotlight and off the throne as Mia takes her rightful place as ruler of Genovia. It is because of this that I think she is able to not be such a “stick in the mud” and be more of a grandmother towards her granddaughter. We get a few scenes where she is chewing her out, of course, but for the most part, she is the dream grandmother we all wish we had. She had poise, class, elegance, compassion…not to mention she’s Julie Freakin’ Andrews!!!

What didn’t I like?

Nevermore. Aside from her best friend, Lily, who was flown in from California (and felt a bit forced into the film), Mia seems to be close to Princess Asana. There are two glaring issues I want to bring up with this. First, if they are so close, why is Asana only in a couple of scenes? Second, who is she? How did they meet? Why are they so close? Mia grew up with Lily and they were both outsider freaks in high school, so we know that’s why they were so close, but with Asana, we get none of that. She’s just a random character that gets to sing with Julie Andrews.

Formula 1. Is it me or with every film, book, or tv show that involves a royal change of power of sorts, we get someone who wants to prove they are next in line. This is such a cliché’ nowadays. One could tell what was going to happen before it actually does, just by the film’s title and the type of film this is. Come on filmmakers, be creative!

Lionel. Joe, who is retiring when the Queen leaves the throne, is sacked with an intern in his last days. What I found odd about this guy was how he reminded me of Michael from the first film, but with darker skin and slightly shorter hair. This got me thinking…with the way Mia fawned over Michael in the first film, wouldn’t it have been a cool idea for him to show up as Lionel in disguise and be her dream ending? Of course, then Chris Pine’s whole character in this film would be worthless, but he goes on too much bigger and better things after this, so he’ll be fine.

Final verdict on The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement? Let’s see…it repeats some of the same notes from the first film. The soundtrack isn’t as catchy this go-round. Chemistry among the characters is so-so, but I actually believed it in the archery scene with Hathaway and Pine. The mattress surfing scene was perhaps the most fun part of the film. Do I recommend this? Yes, a good (non animated) family film is hard to find. While not great, it is somewhat entertaining and that’s worth something. However, I would suggest going for the first film, if you can.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

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Raiders of the Lost Ark

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1936, archaeologist Indiana Jones braves an ancient booby-trapped temple in Peru and retrieves a golden idol. He is confronted by rival archaeologist René Belloq and the indigenous Hovito people. Surrounded and outnumbered, Jones surrenders the idol to Belloq and escapes aboard a waiting floatplane.

Jones returns to his teaching position at Marshall College, where he is interviewed by two Army Intelligence agents. They inform him that the Nazis, who are obsessed with the occult, are searching for his old mentor, Abner Ravenwood. The Nazis know that Ravenwood is the leading expert on the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis in the Kingdom of Egypt, and that he possesses the headpiece of the Staff of Ra. Jones deduces that the Nazis are searching for the location of the Ark of the Covenant; the Nazis believe that if they acquire the Ark their armies will become invincible. The Staff of Ra is the key to finding the Well of Souls, a secret chamber in which the Ark is buried.

The agents authorize Jones to recover the Ark to prevent the Nazis from obtaining it. He travels to the Kingdom of Nepal and discovers that Abner has died, and the headpiece is in the possession of Ravenwood’s daughter Marion. Jones visits Marion at her tavern, where she reveals her bitter feelings toward him from a previous romantic affair. She rebuffs his offer to buy the headpiece, and Jones leaves. Shortly after, a group of thugs arrive with their Nazi commander, Arnold Toht. Toht threatens Marion to get the headpiece, but when Jones returns to the bar to fight the Nazis and save Marion, her bar is accidentally set on fire; and during the fight, the headpiece ends up in the fire. Toht severely burns his hand trying to take the hot headpiece, and flees the tavern screaming. Jones and Marion escape with the headpiece, and Marion decides to accompany Jones in his search for the Ark so he can repay his debt to her.

The pair travels to Cairo, where they meet up with Jones’s friend Sallah, a skilled excavator. Sallah informs them that Belloq and the Nazis are digging for the Well of Souls with a replica of the headpiece, created from the scar on Toht’s hand. They quickly realize the Nazi headpiece is incomplete and that the Nazis are digging in the wrong place. The Nazis kidnap Marion and it appears to Jones that she is killed in an exploding truck. After a confrontation with Belloq in a local bar, Jones and Sallah infiltrate the Nazi dig site and use their staff to correctly locate the Ark. Jones, Sallah, and a small group of diggers unearth the Well of Souls and Jones is forced to face his fear of snakes to acquire the Ark. Belloq and Nazi officer Colonel Dietrich arrive, seize the Ark from Jones, throwing Marion into the Well of Souls with him before sealing it back up. Jones and Marion escape to a local airstrip, where Jones has a fistfight with a Nazi mechanic before blowing up a flying wing. The panicked Nazis remove the Ark in a truck and set off for Cairo, but Jones catches them and retakes it. He makes arrangements to take the Ark to London aboard a tramp steamer.

The next day, a Nazi U-boat appears and intercepts the ship. Belloq and Dietrich seize the Ark and Marion but cannot locate Jones, who stows away aboard the U-boat and travels with them to an island in the Aegean Sea. Once there, Belloq plans to test the power of the Ark before presenting it to Hitler. Jones reveals himself and threatens to destroy the Ark with a panzerfaust, but Belloq calls the bluff and Jones surrenders rather than destroy such an important historical artifact. The Nazis take Jones and Marion to an area where the Ark will be opened and tie them to a post to observe. Belloq performs a ceremonial opening of the Ark, which appears to contain nothing but sand. Suddenly, angelic and beautiful, ghost-like beings emerge from the Ark and float around the assembly. Jones cautions Marion to keep her eyes tightly closed, and not to observe what happens next. Belloq and the others look on in astonishment as the apparitions are suddenly revealed to be angels of death. A vortex of flame forms above the opened Ark and energy surges out into the gathered Nazi soldiers, killing them all. As Belloq, Toht and Dietrich all scream in terror, the Ark turns its fury on them: Dietrich’s head shrivels up, Toht’s face is melted off his skull and Belloq’s head explodes. Flames then engulf the remains of the doomed assembly, save for Jones and Marion. The Ark’s lid is blasted high into the air before dropping back down onto the Ark and sealing it. Jones and Marion find their ropes burned off and embrace.

In Washington, D.C., the Army Intelligence agents inform Jones and Marcus Brody that the Ark is someplace safe and will be studied by “top men”. The Ark is shown being permanently stored in a giant government warehouse among countless similar crates.

REVIEW:

Action films in the 80s were all about explosions, excitement, and machismo. Indiana Jones, while obviously a bit more cerebral than his counterparts, was no exception. In this day and age where we get a reboot or remake of everything that we hold near and dear to our hearts, I felt it was time to weigh in with my thoughts on Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

What is this about?

When Dr. Indiana Jones — the tweed-suited professor who just happens to be a celebrated archaeologist and adventurer — is hired by the government to locate the legendary Ark of the Covenant, he finds himself up against the entire Nazi regime.

What did I like?

Everyman. Sometimes a hero just needs to be a someone just doing their job. In the case of Indiana Jones, that is especially true. Why do I say this? Well, as an archaeologist, he is tasked with obtaining historical artifacts and such. This is sure to come with some dangerous territory, make enemies, etc. As he is our protagonist, I don’t think he is just going to let people associated with him, be they tour guides, female companion, or what-have-you lose their life on his watch.

Action. I was sitting back and watching this film and I was really taken back watching the action. Harrison Ford in his prime whipping his whip around, jumping  around these Nazi trucks, and more (yes, I know it was mostly his stunt double) was a real joy to behold. Action movies these days are all CG and explosions. This was some real stunt work that harkens back to the day of Errol Flynn.

Back in the day. It is no secret that I prefer WWII era settings. What is surprising is that, as many times as I have seen this film, I never really put it together that this was set in the 40s. I know, I know…kind of hard to imagine when the Nazis are the antagonists, the cars are not even close to being modern, and the style of dress gives it away. If you go strictly by the parts in the Middle East, though, it isn’t as obvious. At least, that is my half-hearted defense for why I didn’t notice it before.

What didn’t I like?

Off days. This has always bothered me. Indiana Jones is a professor of archaeology, meaning he has an obligation to teach classes of students. What happens to these classes when he’s off globetrotting? For instance, this trip to obtain the Ark of the Covenant was not a weekend excursion, obviously. I would say he was gone for at least a couple of weeks! Did his students just have assignments to do during that time? Was there a sub?

Wooden crate. The Ark is placed in a wooden crate and locked away at film’s end. Sounds like a good thing to do right? I would agree with you, except earlier in the film it was in a wooden crate and somehow managed to burn a hole through that, so who’s to say it won’t do the same this time around?

Snakes. We all have that one thing that scares the living bejesus out of us, be it flying, heights, rats, spiders, needles, or in Indiana Jones’ case, snakes. Wait, this is a guy that goes around to ancient abandoned temples and such, which are all surely loaded with snakes, and this is the thing he’s scared of? I’ve always found that to be perplexing or ironic. Big bad archaeologist scared of the thing that he is sure to run into everywhere he goes.

Final verdict on Raiders of the Lost Ark? This is one of the tent pole films of my childhood. I grew up in the 80s and films like this were my bread and butter. Every franchise has to start somewhere and when you look back at the Indiana Jones franchise (even though Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull is universally reviled), it is real easy to see that this is a great starting place for bigger and better things that were sure to come. If you’re looking for a film that has action, humor, romance, and dash of 80s special effects, then I highly recommend this.

5 out of 5 stars

The Living Daylights

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

James Bond—Agent 007—is assigned to aid the defection of a KGB officer, General Georgi Koskov, covering his escape from a concert hall in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia during the orchestra’s intermission. During the mission, Bond notices that the KGB sniper assigned to prevent Koskov’s escape is a female cellist from the orchestra. Disobeying his orders to kill the sniper, he instead shoots the rifle from her hands, then uses the Trans-Siberian Pipeline to smuggle Koskov across the border into Austria and then on to Britain.

In his post-defection debriefing, Koskov informs MI6 that the KGB’s old policy of Smiert Spionom, meaning Death to Spies, has been revived by General Leonid Pushkin, the new head of the KGB. Koskov is later abducted from the safe-house and assumed to have been taken back to Moscow. Bond is directed to track down Pushkin in Tangier and kill him in order to forestall further killings of agents and escalation of tensions between the Soviet Union and the West. Although Bond’s prior knowledge of Pushkin initially leads him to doubt Koskov’s claims, he agrees to carry out the mission when he learns that the assassin who killed 004 (as depicted in the pre-title sequence) left a note bearing the same message, “Smiert Spionom.”

Bond returns to Bratislava to track down the cellist, Kara Milovy. He determines that Koskov’s entire defection was staged, and that Milovy is actually Koskov’s girlfriend. Bond convinces Milovy that he is a friend of Koskov’s and persuades her to accompany him to Vienna, supposedly to be reunited with him. Meanwhile, Pushkin meets with arms dealer Brad Whitaker in Tangier, informing him that the KGB is cancelling an arms deal previously arranged between Koskov and Whitaker.

During his brief tryst with Milovy in Vienna, Bond meets his MI6 ally, Saunders, who discovers a history of financial dealings between Koskov and Whitaker. As he leaves their meeting, Saunders is killed by Necros (Koskov and Whitaker’s henchman), who again leaves the message “Smiert Spionom.”

Bond and Milovy promptly leave for Tangier, where Bond confronts Pushkin. Pushkin disavows any knowledge of “Smiert Spionom”, and reveals that Koskov is evading arrest for embezzlement of government funds. Bond and Pushkin then join forces and Bond fakes Pushkin’s assassination, inducing Whitaker and Koskov to progress with their scheme. Meanwhile, Milovy contacts Koskov, who tells her that Bond is actually a KGB agent and convinces her to drug him so he can be captured.

Koskov, Necros, Milovy, and the captive Bond fly to a Soviet air base in Afghanistan—part of the Soviet war in Afghanistan—where Koskov betrays Milovy and imprisons her along with Bond. The pair escape and in doing so free a condemned prisoner, Kamran Shah, leader of the local Mujahideen. Bond and Milovy discover that Koskov is using Soviet funds to buy a massive shipment of opium from the Mujahideen, intending to keep the profits with enough left over to supply the Soviets with their arms.

With the Mujahideen’s help, Bond plants a bomb aboard the cargo plane carrying the opium, but is spotted and has no choice but to barricade himself in the plane. Meanwhile the Mujahideen attack the air base on horseback and engage the Soviets in a gun battle. During the battle, Milovy drives a jeep into the back of the plane as Bond takes off, and Necros also leaps aboard at the last second. After a struggle, Bond throws Necros to his death and deactivates the bomb. Bond then notices Shah and his men being pursued by Soviet forces. He re-activates the bomb and drops it out of the plane and onto a bridge, blowing it up and helping Shah and his men gain an important victory over the Soviets. Bond returns to Tangier to kill Whitaker, as Pushkin arrests Koskov, sending him back to Moscow.

Some time later, Milovy is the lead cellist in a known London performance, her music career solidified by newfound cooperation between the British government and the Soviets providing Kara with travel expenses and allowing her to perform in both countries. After her performance, Bond surprises her in her dressing room and they romantically share their mutual success together.

REVIEW:

A new era in the James Bond franchise is upon me, as Roger Moore steps down and Timothy Dalton takes on the mantle of the suave superspy in The Living Daylights. Will this change affect the character? What about the tone of the film? How will this be received? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

In this turbo-charged action-adventure, suave superspy James Bond is tasked with protecting a Soviet general from a beautiful sniper.

What did I like?

Music makes the world go ’round. As a musician, I will always be more critical and notice things having to do with music than the common movie viewer. The Bond films are well-known for the opening themes and the unmistakable James Bond motif, but this film also throws in a bit of class. You can’t have a Bond girl who is a cello player without having her playing some Mozart, can you? I just can’t see a world-renown musician of her caliber playing some hair band hit on her instrument, even if it might have sounded cool.

Time for a change. Roger Moore was nearly 60 when A View to a Kill was finished, and it showed. The man gave us I believe 7 films over 12 years, so he earned his rest. With a new Bond comes new ways to write for the actor. Take for instance when David Tennant left Doctor Who and was replaced with Matt Smith, who has now been replaced with Peter Capaldi. All have different interpretations of the same character, but each is their own, separate entity. Timothy Dalton, who is going for a darker, more realistic Bond is a far cry from Roger Moore, but perhaps that is what’s needed.

Go go gadget. Bond is known for his gadgetry, but in the films that I’ve seen, they haven’t really been a big part of the film, save for submarine Lotus in The Spy Who Loved Me. While nothing as grand as that appears in this picture, we do get to see a few more of the gadgets and gizmos than I believe we have seen before, which is a big plus for me.

What didn’t I like?

Moneypenny. This is the first film in the franchise to feature a new actress as Ms. Moneypenny. I can’t really say that I like her or not, based on her performance, but I can say that I am not a fan of what they have done, or not done with her character. In the previous films, she had a flirtatious relationship with 007, but here everything is business. WTF?!?

Climax. In the supposed climax, a confrontation with Bond and Whitaker, one would expect there to have been some sort of long, exciting battle, complete with witty repartee and such, right? Wrong! What we get is a few shots, gas, a statue falling down, and some more shots. Seriously, how is this the climax? The stuff with opium was more exciting!!!

Ho-hum. I was warned that Timothy Dalton’s Bond films weren’t going to appeal to me, but I at least thought this would be interesting. I had to catch myself twice from falling asleep! Dalton just doesn’t do it for me as a Bond. I think he does his best work as a villain, anyway. Perhaps the next film will change my mind.

Final verdict on The Living Daylights? It is a definite departure from the Roger Moore era 007. We get a darker Bond, more realistic plot, and the return of the Aston Martin. Does this make this a good film? No, but it doesn’t hurt. What does hurt, though, is the fact that there is no real excitement in this picture. For a good chunk of it, things just seem to be going along with no rhyme or reason. How can the audience get invested in that? With that in mind, I cannot recommend this, unless you are a completest who must see all the films in the franchise.

3 out of 5 stars

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Set in the kingdom of Ehb, the story follows a man called Farmer (Jason Statham), who was adopted by his village. When Farmer’s wife, Solana (Claire Forlani)and his son leave to sell vegetables at the town of Stonebridge, Farmer’s farm is attacked by creatures called Krug. With the help of his friend and neighbor Norrick (Ron Perlman) he travels to Stonebridge; however, the Krug kill his son and capture his wife. With the help of Norrick and Bastian (Will Sanderson), Farmer’s brother-in-law, he intends to find and rescue his wife.

The Krug are being controlled by the wizard Gallian (Ray Liotta) who is amassing an army to overthrow King Konreid (Burt Reynolds), with the assistance of the King’s nephew Fallow (Matthew Lillard).

REVIEW:

When it comes to pictures in this genre, I tend to like, but not love them. Part of my indecisiveness about them stems from my disdain for this period of time, but at the same time, I find this era interesting. When this flick was recommended, I was hesitant at first, because I thought it would straight up and down suck. Then I remembered how many films I’ve said that about and have been supremely wrong about.

Now, this is not one of those pictures that is loaded with dragons and other sci-fi special effects normally associated with this period of time, which is really a shame. It was supremely missing.

This film is not all that bad, honestly, but ti does drag on, even during the fight scenes, and doesn’t seem to move forward, and when it does, the audience is so out of it, that they don’t care anymore.

The cast of this film is one of those top-notch, all star ensembles. Names like Jason Statham, John Rhys-Davies, Claire Forlani, Burt Reynolds, etc. With these actors, you’d expect they’d have been able to deliver no matter how bad the script and story were, but that is not the case. They seem to struggle through this material as if they were walking through quicksand. As a mater of fact, it is like they were coached by Paris Hilton or Megan Fox in acting for this film. It really is disappointing.

Acting aside, the fight scenes are epic. Any action fan will enjoy, but not love them. There is no wow factor. It is just a bunch of guys with swords clanging and an occasional special effect when one of Gallian’s clone Krug things is killed. It just wasn’t worth the effort. To make matters worse, the big fight scene before the king dies takes up a good 5-10 minutes. After which, you feel as if the film is ending, and headed toward a sequel, then it switches to what feels like tacked on extra 10-20 minutes.

I really wanted to like this picture, but I just can’t muster up anything more than some below average feelings for it. There are so many things that it had going for it, but fell short in every direction. No one in their right mind would recommend this, that includes myself, but if you’re a fan of Jason Statham, or these fantasy films, or maybe you are a fan of the RPG game this was based on (which I didn’t find out about until this morning), then go ahead, but otherwise, you won’t miss much if you don’t watch. Use that 2 hrs and 7 min for something else.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The prologue depicts a young Indiana Jones in 1912 as a Boy Scout settling in Utah, battling grave robbers for the Cross of Coronado, an ornamental cross belonging to Francisco Vázquez de Coronado. As the foiled grave robbers give chase, Indiana hides in a circus train, in the process using a whip, scarring his chin, and gaining a fear of snakes. Although he rescues the cross, the robbers tell the Sheriff that Indiana was the thief, and he is forced to return it, while his oblivious father, Henry Jones, Sr., is working on his research into the Holy Grail, keeping meticulous notes in a diary. The leader of the hired robbers, dressed very similarly to the future Indiana and impressed by the young Indy’s tenacity, gives him his fedora and some encouraging words. In 1938, Indiana recovers the cross from the robbers’ ship in the coast of Portugal, and donates it to Marcus Brody’s museum.

Indiana is introduced to the wealthy Walter Donovan, who informs him that Indy’s estranged father has vanished while searching for the Holy Grail, using an incomplete stone tablet as his guide. Indy receives a package which turns out to be his father’s Grail diary, containing all his life’s research on the Grail. Understanding that his father would not have sent the diary unless he was in trouble, Indiana and Marcus travel to Venice, where they meet Henry’s colleague Dr. Elsa Schneider. Indiana and Elsa discover catacombs beneath the library where Henry was last seen, and discover the tomb of Sir Richard, a knight of the First Crusade, with a complete version of the stone tablet that Henry used. They flee when the catacombs are set aflame by The Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, a secret society. They are pursued and escape on a speedboat, and a chase through Venice ensues in which they capture the cult’s leader, Kazim. After Indiana convinces him of their intentions, Kazim explains The Brotherhood are protecting the Grail from those with evil intentions, and that Henry was abducted to a castle on the Austrian-German border.

Indiana and Elsa infiltrate the castle. Indiana finds his father, but learns that Elsa and Donovan are working with the Nazis to seek the grail, hoping that Indiana would discover its location. The Nazis capture Marcus, who had traveled to Iskenderun, Hatay with the map to the Grail’s location. The Joneses are able to escape and recover the diary from Elsa at a Nazi rally in Berlin, where they proceed to try and escape from Germany to meet with Sallah in a Blimp. But when Vogel finds them Indy however becomes a Conductor by offering the real one to let Indy do his job for him, Vogel finds Jones’s father, but Indy comes to him and asks for Tickets, and then He knocks Vogel out of the blimp saving Jones Sr. In Hatay, there they learn of Marcus’ abduction and that the Nazis, backed with resources from the country’s leader, are already moving to the Grail’s location. With the help of The Brotherhood, the Joneses ambush the convoy and rescue Marcus, though Donovan and Elsa continue on to the Canyon of the Crescent Moon, where the Grail resides.

Indy, his father, Marcus, and Sallah catch up and find that the Nazis are unable to pass through traps set before the Grail. After the four are discovered, Donovan shoots and mortally wounds Henry, forcing Indiana to circumvent the traps using the information in his father’s diary, with Donovan and Elsa shortly following him. Indiana succeeds and finds himself in a room with the last Knight of the First Crusade, kept alive with the power of the Grail, which has been hidden among several other cups. Elsa selects a gilded cup encrusted in jewels for Donovan, knowing it to be fake; when Donovan drinks from it, he ages rapidly before decaying and turning into dust. Indiana, recognizing that the Grail would be that of a humble carpenter instead of a wealthy king, selects the correct vessel, and quickly takes it to his father with the holy water, which heals his wounds instantly when the older Jones drinks from it. As they prepare to leave, the Knight warns them to not take the Grail out of the temple, but Elsa does so, causing the temple to collapse. Elsa falls into an abyss during a greedy attempt to recover the Grail, and Indiana falls into the chasm, held by one arm by his father. As he reaches for the Grail, not knowing he is about to fall to his demise, his father simply says “Indiana, let it go”. Realising his father cares more for him than the Grail, the Joneses, Marcus, and Sallah narrowly escape the collapsing temple. While they prepare the horses to ride off Sallah asks why Henry Jones calls Indiana “Junior”. Henry tells Sallah it’s Indiana’s name, Henry Jones Jr, and that Indiana was the name of their dog. The four then ride out of the canyon, and into the sunset.

REVIEW:

Indiana Jones belongs in the pantheon of great action heroes of American cinema. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the 3rd (and many thought, final) part of the saga. Here we get a little more info on Indy’s background (which inspired the short-lives TV series Young Indiana Jones Chronicles).

With the memorable theme, and unmistakable fedora and bullwhip, Harrison Ford returns to take up the mantle of Indiana Jones a this time. In this film, he’s a little more subdued than in the previous, but that doesn’t really play a major factor in his performance, unless you’re just anal about him trying to jump around kill himself doing stunts.

While on the subject of Indy, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the actor who portrays him as a young man, River Phoenix. Although, he died a couple years later, it is obvious that he was huge acting talent and he spend time with Ford. His mannerisms and facial contortions were present. He really did his homework.

Sean Connery enters the franchise as Henry Jones, Sr., Indy’s father. This is an interesting choise, if you ask me. I don’t mean that in any kind of negative connotation, but in terms of Connery being such a massive acting force, as is Ford, that putting them together as father and son was inspired casting.

Following Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, many were turned off by its dark nature, so the producers lightened the tone for this one. While there are those out there that don’t agree with this decision, I think it worked out for the best. Indy is not some dark, brooding characters, nor is he some slapstick caricature. They found a nice middle ground for him and it really works.

The story is great, but I would have liked to have learned a little more about Indy’s father and maybe some more info on what it is that caused them to fall apart. With all the action in this film, they could have slowed it down and used the real acting chops of Ford and Connery for a brilliant flashback scene or two, before getting back to the action. THat’s a minor personal thing, though.

If you’re a fan of action heroes from the Golden Age of Hollywood, then you’ll love Indiana Jones. Indy is a throwback and these films are even set in that time period. It was originally thought this was going to be the last Indiana Jones film, then Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was made. Still, had it turned out to be the end of the sage, it is a fitting end to such a magnificent character as he rides off into the sunset.

5 out of 5 stars