Archive for Keith David

Armageddon

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

As a massive asteroid hurtles toward Earth, NASA’s head honcho hatches a plan to split the deadly rock in two before it annihilates the entire planet, calling on the world’s finest oil driller to head up the mission.

What people are saying:

“Just when you think you’ve had it with this movie, there comes a farcical, rock ‘n’ roll sort of comedy sequence, or a hilariously goofy line.” 3 stars

“Yes, it’s big. It’s stupid. It’s also completely kick butt. A true adventure film, Armageddon takes you by the throat and won’t let go. For as silly as the script seems, I dare you not to be on the edge of your seat during the tense moments or touched by the admittedly sappy sentimentalism later in the flick. There are too many moments here that are full of sheer joy not to watch this again.” 5 stars

“Now I love movies, I really enjoy action movies, but this….Oh my! This IS one of the worst movies of all times. Mindbogglingly dumb, full of cliches and a meaningless ending. Why so many people adore this waste of time and money, I’ll never understand.
A typical Bay-affair. Still waiting for him to just release a movie with 90 minutes of just explosions!” 1/2 star

“Yeah, gotta go with five stars for this one. Yes, it unashamedly goes for the heartstrings, yes the song is cornball, and yes, it’s full of cliches and REALLY bad science. It’s also action-packed, full of humor, loads of fun, and if you don’t cry at the end, you’re probably not human. This one and Twister are my two favorite cornball ‘disaster’ movies.” 5 stars

“NASA decides to recruit and train a courageous group of drillers to save Earth from a large asteroid. A List movie stars-Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi, Owen Wilson, and a great movie soundtrack “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith. Despite the movie having a very serious plot, some characters provide comic relief including Rockhound, Bear, Lev Andropov, and Oscar Choi. One subplot is the conflict between Harry, Harry’s daughter Grace, and AJ (Grace’s boyfriend) which eventually gets resolved. This movie has great footage of NASA’s spacesuits, equipment, rigorous training facilities/program, control center, and space shuttles. It also has superb special effects of the smaller asteroids striking Earth, the team traveling through space to land on the asteroid, and the team on the asteroid. Once arriving in space, the team appears jinxed facing one unexpected challenge or tragedy after the next leading to the courageous climax of the movie that will make viewers cry. This movie has a strong plot and subplot, excellent character choices, is well written to touch the heart and emotions of viewers, and has amazing special effects making you feel like you are there with the team. Most people would not have enough courage to do what this team did in outer space to save Earth.” 5 stars

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The Quick and the Dead

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , on March 31, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

An unnamed gunslinger, referred to as The Lady, enters the Old West town of Redemption circa 1881 where she enters a single elimination gunfighting contest held by Redemption’s ruthless leader, John Herod, a former outlaw. She meets Cort, a former Herod henchman turned reverend, whom Herod captures and forces to enter the contest; and Fee, also known as “The Kid,” a brash young gun shop owner who hopes to impress Herod, whom he believes to be his father, by winning the contest. Though now a preacher, Cort is an amazingly fast and talented gunfighter, and the only man that Herod truly respects and fears. Herod covers this by treating Cort cruelly, denying him water, beating him and keeping him chained to an old fountain.

In the first round of duels, The Kid defeats a Swedish quick-draw champion, while Herod kills braggart Ace Hanlon, who had taken credit for some of Herod’s own accomplishments. The Lady defeats an old enemy she left shackled to a wagon, while Cort defeats one of Herod’s men who thought he was getting an easy kill. Herod later learns that the townspeople have secretly hired a bounty hunter, Clay Cantrell, to enter the contest and kill him. The next day, Herod declares that all remaining duels must be to the death, then kills Cantrell when the two face off against one another. Herod angrily informs the townspeople that since they had enough money to hire Cantrell, he will raise their taxes. Later that day, during a rainstorm, the Lady duels and guns down a competitor who has sexually abused the bartender’s young daughter.

Flashbacks reveal that The Lady’s true name is Ellen, and she had grown up in Redemption, where her father was the town’s Marshal. One day Herod and his men invaded the town, killed all the deputies and tied her father to the gallows. Herod gave Ellen a gun and offered to let her shoot the rope and free him. However, she missed and killed her father instead. Seeking revenge, she has come to Redemption with the intent of killing Herod. However, an uncomfortable dinner date with Herod leaves Ellen unsure about whether or not she can go through with it and she attempts to flee. She then reunites with the town’s local doctor, Wallace, who was also her father’s best friend. The old man convinces her to return to Redemption and free the town from Herod.

With Ellen, Cort, Herod and The Kid left as the four remaining contestants, Kid challenges Herod to a duel to win his respect. Although Herod and the Kid both injure each other with bullet wounds, Kid’s wounds prove fatal and he dies in Ellen’s arms. Herod is saddened by the Kid’s death, but does not publicly acknowledge the Kid as his son. When Ellen and Cort are forced to face each other, they refuse to open fire and Cort only shoots Ellen after Herod threatens to kill them both. Cort furiously challenges Herod to a duel the next day, but seconds before their duel, Ellen suddenly reappears after using the Kid’s stolen dynamite to blow up Herod’s illegitimate business establishments. She and Cort had faked her death with help from Wallace and a blind salesman.

In the confusion, Cort dispatches Herod’s men while Ellen goes on to fight Herod. Although Herod outdraws and shoots Ellen in the arm, she shoots him in the chest and finishes him once and for all with a well-aimed gunshot to the eye. With Herod gone and the law restored, Cort becomes the new Marshal of the town as Ellen rides off into the sunset.

REVIEW:

Sometimes, there are genres that seem to do nothing but repeat themselves over and over again, such as with westerns. In this case, someone needs to come in and do something different, or at least attempt it, no matter what the financial result will be. The Quick and the Dead is a film that takes such a chance.

What is this about?

In this offbeat Western, a lady gunslinger arrives in a frontier town seeking revenge for the murder of her sheriff father by town boss John Herod.

What did I like?

Tournament. Maybe it is the fact that I love fighting like Mortal Kombat so much (until I get bored with fighting the same guys over and over again), or maybe it is the March Madness thing that is going on right now, but I am a sucker for a good tournament. In a stroke of genius, someone decided that it would be a good idea to use gunfighters instead of martial artists in a tournament. While the execution of said tournament isn’t flawless, I can appreciate it. Really, how many of us have thought of a tournament of our favorite gangsters, heroes, villains, etc. This is the same concept, just using gunmen from this, universe, if you will.

Lady Stone. What’s this?!? A female lone gunman that seems to be the hero of the film? Say it ain’t so! Believe it or not, Sharon Stone is the star of this picture. Much like Clint Eastwood’s character in the “Man with no name trilogy”, we don’t know much about her at first, other than she has a hero side to her and knows her way around a pistol. When I think about it, all westerns, with the exception of Bandidas, use women as housewives, whores, eye candy, and/or some kind of sidekick. Stone, who was still riding high from Basic Instinct 3 or 4 years earlier, would have been perfect for a more feminine part, but she took a chance as a lead, standing toe to toe with the big boys. I don’t think she did too bad a job, myself.

Not a Hack…man. Gene Hackman is at his finest villain role here, perhaps even better than Lex Luthor in Superman II. He plays an outlaw gunman who has apparently killed the local lawman and taken over the town, ruling it with fear tactics and taxing them into poverty. In other words, this guy is just plain evil. Having said that, though, one does get the sense he has a sense of honor about him. In the last two rounds of the tournament he faces a young Leonardo DiCaprio, who is rumored, but not confirmed to be his son. The rest of the film he kills on sight, without the slightest bit of hesitation, but with DiCaprio, he does everything he can to keep from killing his possible son. The following round, he faces his former henchman, played by a young Russel Crowe. The previous night, one of Hackman’s cronies does some sort of damage to Crowe’s hand and, sensing that it won’t be a fair fight, he offers to use his other hand to even the odds. It really is quite the twist in a character who seems to be as villainous as they come, but there is a heart in there, somewhere.

What didn’t I like?

Paternity. DiCaprio’s “The Kid” character is similar to many of the character he was playing at this point in his career, brash, cocky, headstrong, etc. It isn’t until he decides to challenge Hackman that we get a sense of humility from him as he tells Stone that he wants to prove himself to his father. All this is well and good, but I didn’t get the emotional weight that I feel it deserved. Had this angle been played up more, perhaps the result of that fight would have been more of a, pardon the term, shot in the gut.

Stone. I give Sharon Stone all the props in the world for being a female lead in gun fighting western. However, I just don’t buy her character. Obviously, the makeup department did all they could to “ugly” up Stone’s beauty, and the wardrobe department kept her looking very unisex, but there is still something too feminine about her. If this were made today, I would cast someone like Michelle Rodriguez or maybe Charlize Theron. Both have proven they don’t take crap from anyone, and also have shown to be able to fit into a man’s world the way this character needs to be able to do. Stone didn’t sell that to me, I’m sorry to say. In the last scene, it was like they gave up trying, put her in tight leather pants, let her hair down, and borderline made her sexy. WTF?!?

Mustache. This is a very small complaint, but Keith David’s character, who was almost non-existent, had the typical old-west moustache, but it looked a bit on the cartoony side of things. I half expected him to start twirling it! It was very distracting, especially for a character that didn’t have much to do. What were they thinking with this, I wonder?

To sum up, The Quick and the Dead is probably one of the more underrated westerns out there. Is it on the level of the great ones from the 60s? No, but it is a decent watch. I say give this one a shot, even if you’re not a fan of the genre. Surely there will be something that you can latch on to. Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Free Birds

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Reggie the Turkey has always been afraid of Thanksgiving because turkeys have always been on the menu, but his attempts to warn his farm-based flock constantly fall on deaf ears and has made him an outcast. When the other turkeys finally realize what is going on, they throw Reggie outside in an attempt to save themselves. In a surprise twist of fate, he winds up being named the “pardoned turkey” by the President of the United States and is subsequently taken to Camp David. Although initially hesitant, Reggie soon eases into a routine of doing nothing but enjoying pizza delivered to him by the “Pizza Dude” and watching Mexican telenovelas.

About three days before Thanksgiving, Reggie gets bag-kidnapped by Jake, the president and the only member of the Turkeys Liberation Front. Jake tells him that a “Great Turkey” told him to find Reggie and take him back to the first Thanksgiving with him to take turkeys off the menu once and for all. They then infiltrate the base where a time machine is located. Despite interference by federal officials and several attempts by Reggie to trick him back to the surface, Jake manages to commandeer an egg-shaped time machine with an A.I. software named S.T.E.V.E. and they time-travel back to the same day in 1621, three days before the first Thanksgiving. Once there, they are immediately attacked and separated by colonial hunters led by Myles Standish. Reggie and Jake are quickly rescued by native turkeys led by Chief Broadbeak and his two children, Ranger and Jenny, the latter of whom Reggie immediately falls for.

Broadbeak explains that the turkeys in the area have been forced underground since the settlers came and that they cannot risk fighting back without the settlers taking them. The next day, Broadbeak orders Jake and Ranger to spy on the settlers and Reggie and Jenny to spring all the hunting traps the humans set up. Despite initial hostility, Ranger and Jake find out that the settlers have already begun preparations for Thanksgiving as well as where they keep their weapons. Meanwhile, Jenny, who believes Reggie is lying about being from the future, is impressed with his accidental unorthodox way of springing the traps. However, they are soon intercepted by Standish and Reggie is forced to get her in orbit over the planet aboard S.T.E.V.E., validating everything he said in the process. Reggie convinces Jenny to go back to the future with him once everything blows over, but she refuses to leave the flock no matter how much she likes him. Jake then drags Reggie away and tells him he has a plan to attack the settlers. However, Reggie has gotten sick of all his unapproved stories and threatens to leave.

Desperate, Jake tells him that this trip was more about him making up for his failure to save turkey eggs while escaping a turkey-fattening facility when he was young, maintaining that the Great Turkey convinced him to go through with this. While still reluctant to believe what he said, Reggie still goes along with the plan. They manage to use gunpowder to destroy the weapons shack, but Jake inadvertently leaves a gunpowder trail back to the tree the turkeys are hiding under. Standish and his men flush the turkeys out from underground, capturing enough for the feast and killing Broadbeak in the ensuing panic. Jenny is sworn in as the new chief and orders the remaining turkeys to prepare an attack on the settlers.

Despite Jake’s attempts to get him to stay, a heartbroken Reggie heads back to the present. Once back at Camp David, Reggie is confronted by three future versions of himself. Through the awkward conversation, Reggie discovers from one of them that he is the Great Turkey, having used S.T.E.V.E. to throw his voice and appearance. Inspired, Reggie goes back in time to stop the attack, erasing Standish from history in the process. Through S.T.E.V.E. and the Pizza Dude, Reggie convinces the settlers and the arriving Indians that pizza is a more acceptable food than turkeys, taking them off the Thanksgiving menu entirely. In the end, Reggie decides to stay with Jenny while Jake takes S.T.E.V.E. in order to look for new adventures. However, Jake returns moments after leaving and implies to Reggie and Jenny that he needs help putting an end to the turducken.

REVIEW:

You know, now that I think about it, there really aren’t many movies about turkeys and/or Thanksgiving, of note, except for that Charlie Brown special. Back in the day, it seemed liked everyone had one, but these days, not so much. I believe that is why Free Birds even exists, to fill the void that the younger generations don’t know exists.

What is this about?

After years of fruitless warning of his farmyard brethren of the coming Thanksgiving doom, Reggie the Turkey finds himself spared as the annual Pardoned Turkey. However, Reggie’s easy life is disrupted by Jake, a fanatic turkey who drags him along with the insane idea of going back in time to make sure turkeys are not part of the first Thanksgiving. Through foolhardiness and luck, the pair manage to take an experimental time machine to do just that. Now in 1621 at the Plymouth colony, Reggie and Jake find themselves in the middle of a turkey clan’s struggle for survival. In doing so, their preconceptions of the world and themselves are challenged forever in a conflict from which the world will never be the same.

What did I like?

Pardon me. Every year, one turkey is given the honor of being pardoned by the President of the United States. What this does is basically grant said turkey a stay of execution for a year, let’s not sugarcoat what it is. The creative force behind this flick was smart enough to take this concept and run with it. Not only do they take said and turkey and show him living the life inside the White House, but they take the time to show the audience that humans can’t tell one turkey from the other. Is it just me, or do those guards in the hazmat suits look like they came from the set of Monsters, Inc.

Someone actually had a thought! Take a minute and think of all the films that have been released in the past year or so. Aside from sequels and comic book films, how many were actually original? For me, I think there may have been one or two, but that’s it. The rest all fall into the unfortunate category of reboots/remakes. Ugh! This seemed like it was going to be just another kiddie flick, but in reality, it deserves some praise for having an inspired, original script, which is something we don’t run across very often. Whether you love or hate this film, one think that can be said it that it is fin.

Oh My! In the last year or so, George Takei has become a huge star, at least for now. In a nod to his past on Star Trek, it was rather funny to see/hear him as the voice of the time traveling space ship, S.T.E.V.E. Takei’s trademark humor are included well, as we see that the ship is a character on its own…arguably a better character than the birds!

What didn’t I like?

Owen. Once again, we have Owen Wilson voicing a rather pathetic character who somehow manages to develop a backbone, conveniently, at the right time and helps to save the day. Cliché plot point aside, Wilson’s voice grates my nerves almost like no other, except Jesse Eisenberg and Jay Baruchel. Personally, I have never and will never care for the less talented of the Wilson brothers, who seems to always be shoved down our throats, complete with close-up of his deformed nose. I’m surprised they didn’t give this turkey some sort of deformity. Then again, I guess being the scrawny one, as he is, was bad enough. Does Wilson do a good job voicing the character? Not really. He does ok reading the lines and all, but that’s what it feels like. There is little to no emotion put into his performance and if he was looking to create another animated character on par with Lightning McQueen, this isn’t it.

Love story. Two turkeys go back in time in an egg-shaped time machine to stop the First Thanksgiving so that turkeys everywhere can stop being killed every year. Sounds like a die-hard action movie for kids, right? Would you think they’d put a love story in there? In my mind, I figured we’d see the token love interest temporarily, as in like a scene here or there. Little did I know that they would drag that out, give her an entire backstory, and make her a central character. In a better film, this would not be a problem, but this all just seemed shoehorned in to fill up a couple of extra minutes.

Anti-Thanksgiving. The people who made this film must really have something against Thanksgiving. Not only do they try to take turkey away from the dinner tables (I’m not a turkey eater, myself), but they take the “heroes” of initial feast and turn them into the villain, especially Miles Standish. Some have called this an anti-Thanksgiving film. I cannot find a reason to argue with that moniker, as it does everything it can to kill the holiday, save for actually accomplishing the goal the two turkeys set out to do in the first place, which was stop the first Thanksgiving.

Watching Free Birds, I got a couple of chuckles from a joke here and there, such as one about “Angry Birds”, but the humor mostly fell flat with me, as I’m not in the demographic this was intended. However, I did like the story that was written for this film and believe that it could have been something special in more capable hands. The animation is pedestrian, but not horrible, and the character design seems to be uninspired, for lack of a better term. Do I recommend this? On a normal summer day, I would have to say no. However, when Thanksgiving rolls around and you’re looking for a holiday flick to watch with the kids, then sure. After all, that is more than likely the only reason this film was even made.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

There’s Something About Mary

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1985, awkward and shy 16-year-old high-schooler Ted Stroehmann (Ben Stiller) lands a prom date with his dream girl Mary Jensen (Cameron Diaz), only to have it cut short by a painful and embarrassing zipper accident. After the ordeal garners the attention of numerous members of the household and community, Ted is finally carted off to the hospital. He subsequently loses touch with Mary.

Thirteen years later, Ted is still in love — maybe even obsessed — with Mary. On the advice of his best friend Dom, he hires private detective Pat Healy (Matt Dillon) to track her down. Healy finds that she is an orthopedic surgeon living in Miami with her friend, Magda, but Healy falls in love with the irresistible Mary as well. Healy resorts to lying, cheating, stalking, and drugging Magda’s dog to win Mary but is exposed by Mary’s architect friend, Tucker, who is heavily reliant on crutches and speaks with an English accent. Tucker, however, turns out to be a fraud himself, as he is an able-bodied and entirely American pizza delivery boy who is also in love with Mary. Using slander, Tucker drives away potential rivals, among them Brett Favre, playing himself as an NFL quarterback.

Ted, aided by Dom, drives down to Florida to reconnect with Mary. Ted seems to have won Mary’s love, until an anonymous letter exposes his being less than honest about his link to Healy. While Ted confronts Healy and Tucker, Mary is confronted by Dom, who turns out to be her former boyfriend Woogie, who “got weird on her” back in high school, stealing all her shoes. Having found out that Tucker also lied about Mary’s former love interest, football player Brett Favre, Ted decides that Mary should be with Brett (who was the only one of the suitors who did not resort to deceit to win Mary). After reuniting Brett and Mary, Ted leaves tearfully. But Mary chases after Ted, saying that she would be happiest with him.

The film concludes with the two engaging in a kiss while a guitarist (Jonathan Richman), who periodically narrated the story in song throughout the film, is accidentally shot by Magda’s boyfriend who was trying to shoot Ted so he could win over Mary.

REVIEW:

Remember those two or three years when Cameron Diaz was the hottest thing on the planet? Well, There’s Something About Mary will surely remind you of those days, but leave us not get ahead of ourselves. There is more to this film than just Cameron, but is it enough to bring in an audience and keep them?

What is this about?

Ted was a geek in high school, who was going to go to the prom with one of the most popular girls in school, Mary. The prom date never happened, because Ted had a very unusual accident. Thirteen years later he realizes he is still in love with Mary, so he hires a private investigator to track her down. That investigator discovers he too may be in love with Mary, so he gives Ted some false information to keep him away from her. But soon Ted finds himself back into Mary’s life, as we watch one funny scene after another.

What did I like?

Competition. Whenever an attractive female is involved, there is always a competition among those that wish to have her. Often this happens to be guys of varying “classes”, if you will, each with their own special set of skills and charms. No departure from that formula to found with this film, and I have no problem with that. There is even a jock…a professional jock, for that matter, that is thrown into the mix at the end, just to spice things up. The competition amongst these guys as they vie for Mary’s affection provides for some of the more comedic parts of the flick.

Mary. As I said in my opening statement, at the time of this release, Cameron Diaz was one of the hottest women on the planet. You can argue that she never lost that title. I wouldn’t really argue with you, other than to say she has younger competition now, but all this is beside the point. The Farrelly Brothers did a great job of casting her, as she was hot both in looks and an up and coming career at the time. Diaz’s comedic chops and innocence make her Mary likable and endearing to the audience, something that is necessary for the film to work. The fact that Diaz is almost as hot as she looks in The Mask doesn’t hurt, either!

Gross out. The Farrelly Brothers are well-known for their gross out humor. Just take a look at Dumb & Dumber, Osmosis Jones, and (if you must) The Three Stooges, for examples. This just happens to be one of the more tame films, but there is still some gross out stuffs to be seen, such as the infamous hair gel scene, or the franks and beans fiasco. At the time of this release, this was gross out humor at its finest, without going overboard. Fast forward nearly 20 years (has it really been that long?!?), and it still works.

What didn’t I like?

Detective. Matt Dillon glues on a moustache that is just a couple of inches short of being one of those that can be twirled a la Snidely Whiplash. Since he is the villain, it does make sense, but at the same time, it just makes no sense. Without the ‘stache or with a different style of facial hair, he still would have been a total creep, so I question why they put that on him. Also, how slimy of a detective do you have to be to go on a job locating a girl for someone, then come back tell the guy that hired you that she’s become fat, unattractive, and has popped out handful of kids, when she looks the same as she did in high school, if not better, and then move down there with the intent of hooking up with her.

How can you not know? Not to spoil anything, but someone close to Mary turns out to be now all that they appear. We come to find out that the whole reason for this is because of something she did. It is very hard to say this without spoiling, anything, just so you know. When the story was told, the first thing that popped in my head was how did she not realize what was going on? I get maybe not at first, but it just seems as if it would have been obvious after some time.

Leatherface. A couple of years ago, there was a story about some woman who was tanning every chance she got and doing the same with her kids. When I heard that, I thought about this lady from this film, played by Lin Shaye, who looks as if she is made out of leather. For comedic effect, it was funny at first, but after a while she’s just some leather looking lady who occasionally mention she likes to tan and has to much faith in what her dog thinks. As you can about imagine, I am not a fan

Without a doubt, once you see There’s Something About Mary, you will surely remember it, that’s for sure. That being said, this is a gross-out romantic comedy, so you can guess that it isn’t for everyone, especially those that are easily offended. Then again, if you’re one of those, why are you even bothering with this? Is this a perfect comedy? No, but it does have enough to keep everyone entertained, even the cheesy balladeers that brought to mind the minstrels from Cat Ballou. I very highly recommend this, especially if you’re in need of a few laughs.

4 out of 5 stars

Cloud Atlas

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film consists of six interrelated and interwoven stories spanning different time periods. The film is structured, according to novelist David Mitchell, “as a sort of pointillist mosaic.”

South Pacific Ocean, 1849
Adam Ewing, an American lawyer from San Francisco, has come to the Chatham Islands to conclude a business arrangement with Reverend Gilles Horrox for his father-in-law, Haskell Moore. He witnesses the whipping of a Moriori slave, Autua, who later stows away on Ewing’s ship. Ewing advocates for Autua to join the crew as a freeman. Meanwhile, Dr. Henry Goose slowly poisons Ewing, claiming it to be the cure for a parasitic worm, aiming to steal Ewing’s valuables. When Goose attempts to administer the fatal dose, Autua saves Ewing. Returning to the United States, Ewing and his wife Tilda denounce her father’s complicity in slavery and leave San Francisco to join the Slavery Abolishment Movement.

Cambridge, England and Edinburgh, Scotland, 1936
Robert Frobisher, a bisexual English musician, finds work as an amanuensis to composer Vyvyan Ayrs, allowing Frobisher the time and inspiration to compose his own masterpiece, “The Cloud Atlas Sextet.” But Ayrs wishes to take credit for Frobisher’s work, and threatens to expose his scandalous background if he resists. Frobisher, who has read a partial copy of Ewing’s journal in the meanwhile, shoots Ayrs and flees to a hotel, where he finishes “The Cloud Atlas Sextet” but then commits suicide just before his lover Rufus Sixsmith arrives.

San Francisco, California, 1973
Journalist Luisa Rey meets an older Sixsmith, now a nuclear physicist. Sixsmith tips off Rey to a conspiracy regarding the safety of a new nuclear reactor run by Lloyd Hooks, but is assassinated by Hooks’ hitman Bill Smoke before he can give her a report that proves it. Rey finds and reads Frobisher’s letters to Sixsmith, resulting in her tracking down a vinyl recording of Frobisher’s “The Cloud Atlas Sextet.” Isaac Sachs, another scientist at the power plant, passes her a copy of Sixsmith’s report. However, Smoke assassinates Sachs and also runs Rey’s car off a bridge. With help from the plant’s head of security, Joe Napier, she evades another attempt against her life which results in Smoke’s death and exposes the plot to use a nuclear accident for the benefit of oil companies.

United Kingdom, 2012
Timothy Cavendish, a 65-year-old publisher, has a windfall when Dermot Hoggins, a gangster author whose book he has published, murders a critic and is sent to prison. When Hoggins’ brothers threaten Cavendish’s life to get his share of the profits, Cavendish asks for help from his brother Denholme. Denholme tricks him into hiding in a nursing home, where he is held against his will, but Cavendish escapes. Cavendish receives a manuscript of a novel based on Rey’s life and writes a screenplay about his own story.

Neo Seoul, (Korea), 2144
Sonmi-451, a genetically-engineered fabricant (clone) server at a restaurant, is interviewed before her execution. She recounts how she was released from her compliant life of servitude by Commander Hae-Joo Chang, a member of a rebel movement known as “Union”. While in hiding, she watches a film based on Cavendish’s adventure. The Union rebels reveal to her that fabricants like her are killed and “recycled” into food for future fabricants. She decides that the system of society based on slavery and exploitation of fabricants is intolerable, and is brought to Hawaii to make a public broadcast of her story and manifesto. Hae-Joo is killed in a firefight and Sonmi is captured. After telling her story and its intent, she is executed.

The Big Island (dated “106 winters after The Fall”, in the end credits and book cited as 2321)
Zachry lives with his sister and niece Catkin in a primitive society called “The Valley” after most of humanity has died during “The Fall”; the Valley tribesmen worship Sonmi (Sonmi-451) as a goddess. Their sacred text is taken from the broadcast of Sonmi’s manifesto. Zachry is plagued by hallucinations of a figure called “Old Georgie” who manipulates him into giving in to his fear, and hiding while witnessing the murder of his brother-in-law and nephew by the cannibalistic Kona tribe. Zachry’s village is visited by Meronym, a member of the “Prescients”, a society holding on to remnants of technology from before the Fall. In exchange for saving Catkin from death, Zachry agrees to guide Meronym into the mountains in search of Cloud Atlas, a communications station where she is able to send a message to Earth’s colonies. At the station, Meronym reveals that Sonmi was mortal and not a deity as the Valley tribes believe. After returning, Zachry discovers the slaughter of his tribe by the Kona. Zachry kills the Kona chief and rescues Catkin; Meronym saves them both from an assault by Kona tribesmen. Zachry and Catkin join Meronym and the Prescients as their boat leaves Big Island.

Epilogue
A seventh time period, several decades after the action on Big Island, is featured in the film’s prologue and epilogue: Zachry is revealed to have been telling these stories to his grandchildren on a colony of Earth on another planet, confirming that Meronym, who is present at the site, succeeded in sending the message to the colonies and was rescued along with him.

REVIEW:

It is my understanding that Cloud Atlas is based on a very successful book. If the book is anything like what I just saw, then is must be highly imaginative…and long…VERY long.

What is this about?

In this star-studded drama, six seemingly disparate stories take viewers from a South Pacific Island in the 19th century to 1970s America to a dystopian future, exploring the complicated links that humans share through the generations.

What did I like?

Make-up. It should go without saying that the makeup is a star of its own in this film. The reason I say that is because what other way can you use the same group of actors over 6 very different eras and change things such as their race, nationality, and in a couple of cases, sex. The makeup artists are to be highly commended for the job they did with these people.

Time. There was something about the way these people connected in one era, then would find each other in another era and connect, then do the same thing again in another era that resonated with me. I guess if you’re meant to be friends, lovers, or enemies with someone, then it’ll happen in all of your incarnations.

Mix. A review I read about this a little before I started this post said that this is the perfect mix of all the genres that people would want to see, be it comedy, drama, intrigue/suspense, action, etc. I had to think on that for a minute and it is true. Each of these segments is not only set in a totally different era, but they all have a different tone to them. That is what keeps the film interesting.

What didn’t I like?

Ambitious. I give this film all the credit in the world for taking a stab at doing something different. However, I felt that it may have taken a bit too big of an undertaking. This is a big film, but feels like it is an independent flick. The two don’t gel the way they could/should and ultimately, it hurts the proceedings.

Asian. The story involving Neo-Seoul wasn’t working for me. I just couldn’t seem to get into it. That isn’t my complaint, though. That section of the film also featured some very odd make-up that could be construed as racist by some. I didn’t think so, but I can see how some would cry foul. Having said that, I’m not really sure what else could have been done.

Long. At nearly 3 hours long, you better be ready to be sitting for quite some time. I’m not really a fan of long films, unless they can keep my attention, which this one did not. As a matter of fact, I actually found myself dozing a bit in the middle and had to rewind in a couple of sections just so I wouldn’t be lost. I don’t know what they could have cut out, but I’m sure there had to be a way to make this shorter, right?

Cloud Atlas was very much hyped up before it was released, but the finished product doesn’t live up to that hype. For me, it was ok, but nothing spectacular. I can’t not recommend this, because it isn’t a bad film but, at the same time, I can’t say that you should rush out and see it. Yes, it is above average and worth seeing, but I just don’t know how much you should move your schedule around to check it out.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Barbershop

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On a cold winter, Calvin Palmer, Jr. (Ice Cube) decides he has had enough of trying to keep open the barbershop his father handed down to him. He cannot borrow, revenues are falling, and he seems more interested in get-rich-quick schemes to bring in easy money. Without telling his employees, or the customers, he sells the barbershop to a greedy loan shark, Lester Wallace (Keith David), who lies about its future by announcing plans to turn it into a strip club.

After spending a day at work, and realizing just how vital the barbershop is to the surrounding community, Calvin rethinks his decision and tries to get the shop back – only to find out Wallace wants double the $20,000 he paid Calvin to return it, and before 7 P.M. that day. Right after he admits to the employees that he sold the barber shop, and that it would be closing at the end of the day, the police arrive to arrest one of the barbers, named Ricky (Michael Ealy). He is accused of driving his pickup truck into a nearby market to steal an ATM, but it is revealed that the ATM thief, JD (Anthony Anderson), a cousin of Ricky’s, was actually the one who committed the crime after borrowing Ricky’s truck. Because this is, potentially, Ricky’s ‘third strike’, he could be sentenced to life in prison. Calvin uses the $20,000, from Lester, to bail Ricky out of jail yet Ricky is angry as he believes Calvin betrayed him.

Calvin reveals that he found a gun in Ricky’s locker in the barbershop and shows it to him. They stop the car and Ricky throws the gun into the river, proving that he does not want to get into any more trouble. Then they both go to see Lester. Lester, as well as JD and Billy (Lahmard Tate)(who were still trying to pry the ATM open) are confronted by Calvin and Ricky. They demand Lester give the barbershop back. Lester is angered and orders his bodyguard Monk to pull out his gun. The police arrive just in time to save Calvin and Ricky but JD and Billy are arrested. Calvin and Ricky see the ATM, and get a $50,000 reward for returning it to police. They get the money, and the barbershop reopens with even better business than before. In the meantime, Calvin’s wife, Jennifer (Jazsmin Lewis), has given birth to a baby boy.

REVIEW:

I remember growing up and going to the barbershop with my grandfather on the weekend. I have to say that the characters I would see there aren’t anywhere near as colorful as those we see in Barbershop.

What is this about?

A day in the life of a barbershop on the south side of Chicago. Calvin, who inherited the struggling business from his deceased father, views the shop as nothing but a burden and waste of his time. After selling the shop to a local loan shark, Calvin slowly begins to see his father’s vision and legacy and struggles with the notion that he just sold it out. The barbershop is filled with characters who share their stories, jokes, trials and tribulations. In the shop we find Eddie, an old barber with strong opinions and no customers. Jimmy is a highly educated barber with a superiority complex who can’t stand Isaac, the new, white barber who just wants a shot at cutting some hair. Ricky is an ex-con with two strikes against him and is desperately trying to stay straight. Terri is a hard-edged woman who can’t seem to leave her two-timing boyfriend. And lastly there’s Dinka, a fellow barber who is madly in love with Terri but doesn’t get the time of day.

What did I like?

A day in the life. Plot aside, I have to give this film all kids of props for not being afraid to show real people. What I mean by that is there is no fancy plot to this film, and it could have very well been any barbershop in America when they were just sitting around cutting hair, throwing insults, and just talking. These are the scenes when the film really shines.

Old man. Cedric the Entertainer plays the typical old man barber every barbershop seems to have. An old guy that is just there and you never see him cut hair. You can say that he steals the show and I don’t think any one would be willing to argue with you about that. The last film I saw Cedric the Entertainer in was Codename: The Cleaner. This came out before that was made. Apparently, Cedric hadn’t sold out, yet, when this was made.

Plot. I didn’t really care for either plot, but without them, this might as well have been a reality show about barbershops. Didn’t they actually have one of those at one time? Anyway, the main plot about struggling to keep the shop, while the same kind of regurgitate generic plotline we’ve been served for years, worked and the subplot about the stolen ATM provided a look at the outside world and provided comic relief. Although, since this is a comedy, I’m not sure that is what you would actually call that.

What didn’t I like?

Race and gender. Technically, this isn’t a “race” films, but rather one that features mostly African-Americans. However, it seems as if every chance he gets, Sean Patrick Thomas’ character was throwing his blackness in the face of the one white person we see in the whole film, who also happens to be a barber (I can’t think of the actor’s name, but I believe he’s Jane Fonda’s son). Thomas seems to always get roles that call on him to play the race card in some way or other. He also seems to get into a near altercation with Eve’s character over some apple juice that he may or may not have drunk. Being the only female in a barbershop, is hard enough, but it must be even harder when you’re not half-bad looking like Eve. There is the problem. No one is going to want to go to an attractive barber, or are they. I had an attractive barber my first couple of years in high school. Truth be told, she didn’t do half as good a job as her mother, but she was hot, so I kept going to her. They never show Eve’s prowess with the clippers, but I can imagine all her customers are the kind that go to her just because she’s somewhat of a looker, no matter the quality of her cuts.

Bumbling. I mention the “comic relief” earlier. I’m not quite sure what the whole reason for having that part of the plot was, but whatever. My beef is with how bumbling they are! We’re talking the kind of bumbling reserved for supervillain henchmen. If this wasn’t already a comedy, they might have actually worked. Instead they were like throwing a gallon of ice cream onto an ice cream sundae. Some people may like it, but for others it is just too much.

Old man. I mention Cedric the Entertainer’s character earlier, and I want to bring him back up briefly. Actually, I just question why they couldn’t cast an actual old comedian in this role. Nothing against Cedric, but it just seemed to be rather odd, especially with the weird gray hairs and unusual hairstyle he was sporting.

Barbershop is one of those films that people are always going to talk and laugh about, but some question how good it really is. Personally, I think it depends on your taste in comedy. For me, I loved it, but someone else may prefer the dry, insulting wit that seems to be so popular today. Obviously, it isn’t the choice comedy for everyone, but it is worth watching, even if it about 10-20 minutes longer than it should be. Check it out sometime!

4 out of 5 stars

They Live

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , on May 30, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A nameless unemployed drifter, referred to as “Nada” (Roddy Piper), finds construction work in Los Angeles. Fellow worker Frank Armitage (Keith David) takes him to a local shantytown for food and rest, where Nada notices odd behavior; a blind preacher urges people to take action outside a local church with shantytown member Gilbert (Peter Jason), a police helicopter scouts overhead and a homeless drifter (George Buck Flower) complains as a bearded man interrupts the TV signal, urging action against those in power. Nada investigates and finds the church is a front; the choir is actually an audio recording and scientific apparatus and cardboard boxes fill the room. Nada sees a wall compartment hiding another box but escapes when the preacher catches him. At night, police bulldoze the shantytown and attack its fleeing inhabitants. In the morning, Nada finds the church empty, but procures the hidden box. At an alleyway, he stashes it, finding it full of black sunglasses and taking a pair.

Looking through them, Nada discovers the reality of the bleak world. The media and advertising actually contain totalitarian commands of obedience and conformity in consumerism, to control an unwitting human population. Many with authority and wealth are actually humanoid aliens with skull-like faces. Nada confronts an alien woman at a store, who then speaks into a wristwatch notifying the others about him. Two alien police officers apprehend Nada but he kills them, taking their guns and going on a shooting spree against aliens in a bank, while one vanishes using his wristwatch. Nada escapes, destroying an alien flying camera and taking Cable 54 assistant director Holly Thompson (Meg Foster) hostage. At her hill-top home, Nada tries to convince her of the truth while suffering a headache from the glasses. Instead, Holly knocks him through her window and calls the police. Nada tumbles down and escapes, leaving his belongings behind.

Nada returns to the alleyway, saving the sunglasses box from a garbage truck. He tries convincing Frank to put on another pair, but Frank wishes no involvement as Nada is now a wanted man. The two engage in a fistfight as Nada forces the glasses onto Frank, who then sees the truth as well. They rent a hotel to discuss their predicament before Gilbert contacts them, notifying of a secret meeting with others against the aliens. There, Nada and Frank are given updated contact lenses to replace their glasses and learn more from the bearded man’s transmission. The aliens control Earth as their third world, causing global warming as they deplete its resources before moving onto other planets. Frank is given an alien wristwatch, a complex radio and teleportation device. The aliens primarily use a signal to disguise themselves and destroying its source will make everyone on Earth see them. Holly appears, apparently joining the cause and apologises to Nada. However the police attack the meeting, killing anyone in sight, while Nada and Frank are cornered fighting their way out. Frank accidentaly opens a temporary portal by throwing the watch, through which the two jump into a network of underground passages.

The two find the aliens in a grand hall celebrating with their elite human collaborators. The homeless drifter from earlier, now a well-dressed collaborator, believes the two to be collaborators as well. He takes them on a tour of the passages, revealed to link the alien society, including a space travel port. A further passage leads to the basement of Cable 54 station and the source of the signal. The collaborator escapes by teleporting as the two attack their way through the building to find the broadcaster on the roof, finding Holly and taking her along. As Nada climbs to the signal broadcaster, disguised as a satellite dish, Holly kills Frank. Revealed to be a collaborator, she takes aim at Nada along with an alien police helicopter, persuading him to stop. Nada drops his gun, but then retrieves a hidden pistol from his sleeve and kills Holly. He then shoots and destroys the broadcaster but is killed by the alien police, giving them the finger as his last act. With the signal destroyed, humans discover the aliens in their midst.

REVIEW:

The other day, Yahoo! had an article about the best alien movies and They Live was on there. I’m not one to really use them as my source for what and what not to watch, but I figured it couldn’t hurt anything. I have to say that I think this was one of the biggest wastes of time I’ve ever encountered.

There wasn’t much I liked about this flick, if anything.

Homage to the old school. I love classic sci-fi flicks, such as The Day the Earth Stood Still. When we see the aliens (through the use of special sunglasses), it is through a special black and white filter that apparently pays homage to those classic films of the 40s and 50s. Truth be told, if this would have been entirely in black and white, or even in a different era, it may have been 1000x better!

Accent be gone. I think most people know Rowdy Roddy Piper as the loud, obnoxious wrestler who was Hulk Hogan’s rival in the mid 80s…at least according to the Saturday morning cartoon, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n Wrestling it was. I don’t believe his accent is real, but it was nice to hear him tone it down…a lot!

What didn’t I like?

No life. In contrast to the film’s title, the plot has no life to it. I just wasn’t able to get into the story. For something like this, there should have been something more exciting, not just some random bad acting and effects.

Plotholes. I could spend all day listing all the plotholes in this flick, but I’ll spare you. Just be aware that there are many, many places where you will be scratching your head wondering WTF?!?

They Live just didn’t do it for me. I felt like this film could have been so much more and it just wasn’t. How it has attained such a cult status is beyond me, maybe it has something to do with the economic themes it touches on. At any rate, I wouldn’t recommend this to my worst enemy!

1 1/2 out of 5 stars