Archive for Kevin Durand

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In New York City, teenager Clary Fray (Lily Collins) begins seeing a strange symbol, worrying her mother Jocelyn Fray (Lena Headey) and her mother’s friend Luke Garroway (Aidan Turner). Later, while attending a nightclub with her best and only friend Simon Lewis (Robert Sheehan), Clary witnesses the murder of a man by the hands of Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower), whom appears only Clary is able to see. Meanwhile, Jocelyn is abducted by two men, Emil Pangborn (Kevin Durand) and Samuel Blackwell (Robert Maillet), but not before leaving a message for Clary to warn her that someone named Valentine is coming after her. Jocelyn then drinks a potion which leaves her in a comatose state. Returning home, Clary is attacked by a demon, but Jace appears and kills the demon. He reveals himself to be a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained to slay demons hidden on Earth, such as the man in the nightclub. Jocelyn was a Shadowhunter as well, and Clary has inherited her powers, including the ability to use runes.

Clary and Jace visit Clary’s neighbor and friend of her mother, Madame Dorothea (C. C. H. Pounder), a witch who deduces that Pangborn and Blackwell are after the Mortal Cup, one of the three Mortal Instruments given to the first Shadowhunter by the Angel Raziel, that allows normal humans to become half-Angel Shadowhunters. Simon, now able to see Jace, joins them as they leave to meet Luke in his bookstore. There, they discover that Luke is being interrogated by Pangborn and Blackwell, stating that he cares nothing for Jocelyn, and is after the Mortal Cup himself. The trio then escapes to the Shadowhunters’ base of operations, the Institute, where Clary and Simon meet Jace’s fellow Shadowhunters, Alec Lightwood (Kevin Zegers) and Isabelle Lightwood (Jemima West), and their leader, Hodge Starkweather (Jared Harris), who reveals that Pangborn and Blackwell are working for Valentine Morgenstern (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an ex-Shadowhunter who betrayed the race of the Nephilim and sought to steal the Mortal Cup to gain control over all Shadowhunters and demons.

Believing the key to find the Mortal Cup lies within Clary’s mind, Hodge instructs Jace to take Clary to the City of Bones, where fallen Shadowhunters are laid to rest, to meet Brother Jeremiah (Stephen R. Hart), a member of the Silent Brothers who probe Clary’s mind and uncover her connection to a powerful warlock, Magnus Bane (Godfrey Gao). Clary, Jace, Simon, Alec and Isabelle meet Magnus in a nightclub, where he reveals that Jocelyn has hired him to block knowledge of the Shadowhunters from Clary’s mind. Their conversation is interrupted when Simon is kidnapped by vampires, leading to a confrontation in a nearby hotel. Their group is nearly killed until the werewolves (that share a truce with the Shadowhunters) intervene and rescue them.

Back in the Institute, Clary shares a moment of romance with Jace during a romantic evening with him in the Institute’s greenhouse, sharing a kiss. Simon confronts Clary about it and Jace gets angry and confused when she refers to it as just a kiss. Simon pours out his heart to Clary and Simon leaves the room leaving Clary feeling guilty.

Clary discovers that the Mortal Cup is hidden inside a tarot card painted by her mother, so the group returns to Madame Dorothea’s apartment to retrieve it. There, they discover the witch has been replaced by a demon sent to steal the Cup. It is killed by Simon and Jace, not before critically wounding Alec, while Clary retrieves the Mortal Cup.

The group returns to the Institute only to find that they have been betrayed by Hodge, who takes the Mortal Cup from Clary and summons Valentine Morgenstern. He reveals himself to be Clary’s father and persuades her to join him in his cause, but she refuses and escapes with help from Luke, who is revealed to be a werewolf. Luke tells Clary that she has a brother called Jonathan, and returns to the Institute with her and his pack to fight Valentine, who uses a forbidden spell to open a portal and summon an army of demons to New York. Simon and Isabelle manage to close the portal with help from Hodge, who sees the error of his ways and sacrifices himself to kill Blackwell. Meanwhile, Magnus arrives to heal the injured Alec, and Luke kills Pangborn.

Clary and Jace fight Valentine, who reveals that they are siblings, and that Jace’s real name is Jonathan. He once more attempts to convince them to join him, but they refuse again and push him through the portal with a false Mortal Cup, and after a brief struggle the portal is destroyed by Jace. Jocelyn is rescued but remains in a coma at the hospital, where Luke accompanies her. Clary assures Simon that although she does not love him back, somebody will. Clary heads back home and uses her powers to repair the damage done to her apartment. Shortly thereafter, Jace appears, confessing that he needs her and wants her to come back with him to the Institute. Without much thought, she agrees to go with him.

REVIEW:

Harry Potter has come and gone, becoming a part of cinematic lore. Since then, Hollywood has been struggling, and I emphasize that word, to find the next young adult novel that will go on to make them lots and lots of money. The Twilight franchise, much to the chagrin of many who weren’t in the demographic worked, but they’ve also come and gone. The Hunger Games books have proven they can make some bank, but they aren’t going to be around forever, so what else is out there? Well, apparently The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

What is this about?

After teen Clary Fray witnesses a murder at a New York nightclub, a sinister stranger named Valentine attacks and kidnaps her mother. Endowed with supernatural vision, Clary recruits a band of youthful human-angel hybrids to help rescue her mother.

What did I like?

Effects. The CG demons and werewolves were pretty impressive, especially the demon dog that attacks our heroine. I went into this film expecting some cheesy effects and was pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case. I can’t recall if this was released in 3D, but I’m sure if it was, people would be gushing about how great these creatures looked.

Bach. Johann Sebastian Bach is far from my favorite composer. Apparently, when his music is played, it affects demons. At first, I though this was a nice little bit of comedy thrown in there, as well as some demon hunter history, but it turns out that Bach actually was a hunter, himself. When they show the portrait of him above the piano, you can faintly see the tattoo he is covering above his wrist. Did I mention that my college mascot was a Demon? Perhaps that is why his music affect me so. Ha!

Tone. While watching those Twilight movies, all I wanted to do was slit my wrists. That isn’t a commentary on the films themselves, but rather a statement regarding the morose tone they maintained throughout the entire franchise. Truly, it wasn’t as bad as something like Requiem for a Dream or Black Swan, but man, those films are not happy. Luckily, this film (and perhaps the books?) don’t go down that path. Sure the leading man is a bit of a downer, but on a whole, the film won’t depress you, depending on how you feel about the villains, of course.

What didn’t I like?

Mix and match. One cannot help but notice the amount of genres that seem to be shoved in here. Pretty much if you can name the sci-fi franchise, it is in here somewhere. This would’ve worked, but this seems to be more done to make the film appeal to the male demographic, rather than move the film forward. Yes, guys want to see action and such, but not at the expense of good filmmaking.

Comedy. Usually, I am the last one to bitch and moan about jokes thrown in here and there, but the jokes that are force-fed to us all fall flat. Whomever it was that wrote the jokes obviously did not know how to write a joke. I appreciate the attempt at comedy, I really do, but if you can’t do it right, then don’t do it at all.

Casting call. The cast isn’t horrible, just full of more “pretty people” that you would see on the CW. As it turns out, looks don’t mean talent. Many of the cast come off as wooden and stiff. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, as good an actor as he is, is just chewing up scenery and going over the top with his character. If he would have scaled it back just a little it would have worked better.

Having not read the book, I think The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones could go on to become a successful franchise, if they listen to the criticisms people have with this film and make those changes moving forward (a sequel is planned for next year). Do I recommend this film? Well, if you’re into goth night at Hot Topic, you’ll love the look of it, but as far as the picture itself, I hesitant to give it a recommendation because it isn’t good, but it isn’t bad. It just exists. I may need to read the book and watch again, maybe that will help my decision. For now, I say give it a shot. What harm can that do?

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Real Steel

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2020, human boxers have been replaced by robot boxers. Charlie Kenton is a former boxer who owns such a robot, Ambush, competing in unsanctioned matches and in exhibitions with it. At a rural fair, Ambush is destroyed by Black Thunder, a bull belonging to promoter Ricky. Having made a bet that Ambush would win, Charlie now owes Ricky $20,000, which he doesn’t pay before leaving.

Charlie is informed his ex-girlfriend has died, and that he must attend a hearing to decide the fate of his preteen son Max (Dakota Goyo). Max’s wealthy aunt Debra and uncle Marvin want full custody, which Charlie gives them in exchange for $100,000, half in advance, on the condition that Charlie take care of Max for three months while the couple are away on a second honeymoon.

Charlie and Max meet with Charlie’s childhood friend Bailey Tallet, who runs the boxing gym of her deceased father, Charlie’s old coach. There, Charlie buys a secondhand World Robot Boxing league (WRB) robot, the once-famous Noisy Boy, and arranges for it to fight the illegal circuit’s champion, Midas, at a venue belonging to his friend Finn. Partly due to both his inexperience with Noisy Boy’s combinations and his own overconfidence, Charlie ends up losing control of Noisy Boy and Midas destroys it.

Charlie breaks into a junkyard with Max to steal scraps that he can use to put a new robot together. There, Max falls over a ledge, where he is saved from doom by getting snagged on the arm of a buried robot. After Charlie pulls Max back up, Max digs out the entire robot, called Atom. On Max’s insistence, Charlie takes it back to Bailey’s gym, where they discover Atom is an obsolete Generation-2 sparring bot built in 2014. Atom has been designed to sustain massive damage, but is unable to deal much damage itself. Atom also has a “shadow function” for following human movement. Partly due to both Max’s insistence and Charlie needing money, the duo has Atom fight an unsanctioned outdoor match against a robot called Metro. Atom wins, earning back some of Charlie’s money.

Max later upgrades Atom to take vocal commands and to have harder-hitting fistcuffs, using parts from Charlie’s demolished robots, and convinces Charlie to train Atom. Atom’s string of subsequent wins attracts the attention of a promoter from the WRB, who offers Atom a professional fight against the robot Twin Cities. Charlie accepts, and Atom wins again, thanks to Charlie’s boxing experience allowing him to locate and take advantage of a small tell in Twin Cities’ punch. Reveling in their subsequent novelty attention, Max challenges WRB champion Zeus, designed by genius Tak Mashido and sponsored by wealthy Farra Lemcova, who before the match tries to buy the upstart Atom.

As Max and Charlie leave after the Twin Cities fight, Ricky and his men attack them, and steal their winnings. Feeling guilty, Charlie returns Max to his aunt and uncle, feeling Max will be safer with them and refusing the second half of the money he was promised. Bailey convinces him that he can be a better father. Debra allows Charlie to take Max out for one last night, to the Zeus-Atom match. Zeus severely damages Atom while also getting injured for the first time. Ricky, who had bet Finn $100,000 that Atom would not last the first round, tries to slip away, but is cornered by Finn and his colleagues. In the fourth round of the five-round match, Atom’s vocal receptors are damaged, and Atom must fight the last round in shadow-boxing mode, copying Charlie’s moves from the aisle. Zeus, now controlled manually by a furious Mashido, expends energy on trashing the defensive Atom, running low on power and turning sluggish as a result. The fight swings in Atom’s favor as he overwhelms the weakened Zeus, even knocking the seemingly invincible champion down once, but Atom is unable to win before the round ends. The judges declare Zeus the winner on points, but the near-defeat leaves the Zeus team humiliated. Atom is labeled the “People’s Champion” as Charlie and Max celebrate their success.

REVIEW:

Since, apparently, a lot of people didn’t care for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hugh Jackman decided to go the family route with Real Steel. When the first trailer for this came out, I thought it was just some studio trying to take the old fighting robots toy and put them on the big screen. In a way, that is what they’ve done, but the only similarity to the toy is that these are fighting robots. If anything, this is more like those episodes of The Jetsons where George would go the fights and we’d see robots, instead of humans, fighting.

No, the whole film isn’t about fighting robots. There is also some drama involving Charlie, played by Hugh Jackman, and his son. It all starts when Charlie finds out the boy’s mother has died. Since he is the next of kin, the boy is legally his responsibility, but since he can barely take care of himself, the idea of supporting a kid is not exactly a top priority. After a court battle with, Charlie is given custody of the kid for the summer.

While not exactly fond of the decision, especially since his new guardians are loaded and off to Milan for the summer, it is quite obvious that he’s eventually gonna warm up to Charlie in the end.

The main draw for this film is the boxing, though. Let’s not kid ourselves by thinking anyone cared about the kid. Trust me, some of may think he’s cute, but he is hands down one of the most annoying kids ever!

Would someone please tell me why it is that kids today can’t show respect for their elders? Maybe I’m just from another generation, but the way this kid acts just irked me. The rebelliousness of being sold to his dad, is understandable, but some of the other things he does, such as grabbing the microphone and challenging the title holder after winning just one fight was just a bit much, if you ask me.

As bad and annoying as the kid is, Hugh Jackman’s character wasn’t exactly Mr. Lovable, either. However, Charlie does manage to grow as a person as the film progresses. Big surprise, right?

With two annoying leads, surely there has to be some kind of wholesome, nice person in this thing, right? Ironically enough, the warmest character is made of steel. That is the fighting robot they dig up in the junkyard, Atom, who can’t move on his own and is nothing more than an old sparring robot. However, there is one scene where he seems to be looking at himself that makes you wonder.

Now that I think about it, there is one piece of utter sweetness, played by Evangeline Lilly. Although she is a bit hardened given the money situation and whatnot. Oh, and she’s not bad looking, either. Sorry, I just had to sneak that in there.

These robots are not on the same level that we’ve grown accustomed to in theTransformerstrilogy, but they still are a sight to see. The machines are magnificent. Seeing them pull of the moves that a seasoned boxer can do was just breathtaking. Of course, I did find out later that Sugar Ray Leonard choreographed/trained these scenes.

The climactic final fight will have you cheering on the underdog, Atom, and when all the smoke clears you’ll be hoping for a sequel.

It can be said that the CG on these isn’t as great as it could have been, but keep in mind this is supposed to have been a family movie, even though it is a tad dark…at least for my taste.

All in all, I have to say that Real Steel was a real surprise. My initial thoughts about this flick, before I saw it, was that it was going to be some kind of cheap, overhyped, CG mess. Then, after it was released, I heard that it was heavy on the drama, which kept me from seeing it in the theater, not to mention is was released in, you guessed it…3D. After seeing it tonight, though, I’m glad I have seen this for myself and can make my own decision. I really believe this is a well crafted and thought out film that some have overlooked as one of the best films of 2011. You should definitely check it out soon.

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Legion

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) falls to Earth in Los Angeles, cuts off his wings, and raids a Korean imports store for a cache of automatic weapons. Confronted by two LAPD officers, one becomes possessed and kills the other. Michael kills the possessed cop and steals his car.

At a roadside diner and garage near the edge of the Mojave Desert are the diner’s owner, Bob Hanson (Dennis Quaid), his son Jeep (Lucas Black), the short-order cook Percy (Charles S. Dutton) and a pregnant waitress, Charlie (Adrianne Palicki). Also present is a single father on his way to L.A., Kyle (Tyrese Gibson); an urban married couple, Howard and Sandra Anderson (Jon Tenney and Kate Walsh); and their rebellious and promiscuous teenage daughter, Audrey (Willa Holland).

Soon after, an old woman (Jeanette Miller) arrives and seems pleasant at first, but then begins taunting the diner’s patrons. When Howard tries to reason with her, she rips part of his throat open and climbs up the ceiling like an insect, hisses, revealing she is possessed. Kyle shoots and kills her with a pistol that he was hiding. They try to hurry an injured Howard away in Kyle’s car, but are forced to go back after passing through a swarm of horse flies.

Soon after, Michael arrives and arms the patrons as the entire sky plunges into blackness. Michael leads the patrons to fight off a large number of possessed people that arrive. They drag off Howard and cease their attack. He explains that God has lost faith in mankind and has sent down his angels to annihilate all humanity. He also reveals that Charlie’s baby is deemed to be the savior of mankind, and that it must stay alive if humanity is to have any hope of surviving. Michael also reveals that his original mission was to kill Charlie’s baby, but he disagreed with God’s orders, as he still has faith in the goodness of humanity.

The next morning Sandra discovers Howard crucified upside down behind the restaurant and covered with boils. She tries to rescue him but he violently explodes, killing Percy and driving Sandra insane. That night, a second wave of possessed attack, killing Kyle and pushing a panicked Charlie into labor. She delivers the baby as trumpets sound, signaling the approach of the Archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand), who is leading the attack on humanity. In a panic Sandra breaks her restraints and tries to give the baby to the possessed so Michael kills her.

Moments later, Gabriel is sent by God. When Gabriel reaches the diner he seriously injures Bob, and Michael gives Jeep the keys to the police cruiser he arrived in, urging them to escape. The hordes of possessed humans are unable to approach Charlie’s baby so Jeep, Audrey, Charlie, and her baby make their way to the cruiser. Gabriel and Michael fight, ending with Gabriel stabbing Michael through the chest with his mace. Michael dies and his body disappears. Bob lights a flame to the diner’s gas main, blowing up the diner and destroying himself and the remaining hordes of possessed.

Gabriel survives, and swoops down on the fleeing car. As he tries to reach Charlie, Audrey jumps on him and sacrifices herself after she yells at Jeep to slam on the brakes sending Gabriel through the front windshield as the car crashes. Charlie and Jeep survive with the baby, but Charlie indicates that Audrey did not survive the crash. Gabriel finally corners Jeep and Charlie in the nearby mountains. He is about to kill them when Michael appears from Heaven, an angel once more and stops Gabriel. Michael tells Gabriel that he (Michael) did what God needed, not what God wanted, thus giving humanity another chance. With his angelic powers back, Michael easily defeats Gabriel, but spares his life after which Gabriel leaves, defeated. Michael explains to Jeep that he is the child’s true protector then flies off. Charlie and Jeep make it to the top of the mountain and see a small town in the valley below.

Sometime later, Charlie, Jeep, and the baby are seen driving off into the distance with a car full of guns.

REVIEW:

There have been films about the apocalypse, more and more have been coming out recently. There have also been films about various angels and they’re displeasure with God and desire to be the ones he loves above all else. Also, there have been numerous films about possession and whatnot. Well, Legion combines these three elements, as well some kind of birth of a Savior plotline.

As you can tell by the poster, the major character of this film is the archangel Gabriel, who left Heaven because he didn’t want to follow a specific order given to him (we learn what the order is later on in the film). However, as much as you would think this guy is heavily featured, he isn’t. Basically, if you’ve seen the first 2, or maybe even the third, Terminator films, then you know that even though they are the main character, the flick revolves more around the people they are trying to save, serve, and protect (or kill in the case of The Terminator).

The trailers for this thing were quite misleading. They lead one to believe it was some sort of apocalyptic smackdown, but in fact this may as well have just been a horror flick using Armageddon as a backdrop. There was action, mostly involving guns, but between these scenes are forced to endure these scenes of intense drama that belong in Grey’s Anatomy or some other drama.

The effects were pretty good, but I was hoping for more possessed humans. All we got were the old lady and the ice cream man. All the rest were just human acting possessed with weird teeth. Also, Gabriel and Michael’s wings were pretty impressive, especially the way Gabriel used his as like some sort of shield.

Paul Bettany killed it as Michael, the archangel. I would have liked for him to show a bit more emotion, though. One thing that made no sense, though, was how he was able to sew his wounds up after he cut off is wings. There is no way he could have reached back there, but I guess some things just need to be overlooked.

Adrianne Palicki proves she can do more than be the sexy rebel girl on the TV series Friday Night Lights. If this is any indication of what she can do on the big screen, then we may very well be seeing more of her in the future.

Tyrese disappointed me. Not because he didn’t do a bang up job, but because his character was very stereotypical. The guy comes in driving an Escalade and listening to rap music, then we get the baby mama drama. Oh, and there’s the whole thing about him carrying a piece. It just seemed a bit wrong.

Kate Walsh annoyed the life out of me. I already don’t care for her, but you give her this role and it just makes it worse. I won’t say what happens to her, but let’s just say she gets what’s coming to her.

Dennis Quaid and Charles S. Dutton are their usual perfect on screen selves.

Lucas Black was a surprise. He seemed like the kind of loser who wanted to do right, and that is what he is, but he really made this character interesting and relatable to the audience, something the other actors didn’t do as well.

Legion has its hits and misses, but in the end it comes off as just an average film. It could have been so much better, had they gone in different directions, but since they didn’t, it never really takes off.  I can recommend this, but there is no reason to be in a big rush to see it.

3 out of 5 stars