Archive for Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Sky High

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Will Stronghold — the son of two superheroes known as the Commander and Jetstream — is the only kid at Sky High who hasn’t developed superpowers yet, which means he may be relegated to the less-than-thrilling role of a sidekick.

What people are saying:

“With a crisp and snappy visual style and its smartly paced story, Sky High pulls an incredible feat in an age of dumbed-down kids comedies; it’s as down-to-earth as it is super.” 4 stars

“A surprisingly fun and humorous look at superhero tropes by way of a high school designed specifically for the gifted vigilantes’ offspring. Though some of the humor skews a bit too young and many of the movie’s visual effects are dated in the worse way, there’s plenty of wit and pointed comic book skewering to go around — making this one pleasant surprise of a Disney family flick.” 3 stars

“It’s Disney! Written by and for High School freshmen. If you can suspend your adulthood for an hour and a half you will enjoy it. A more entertaining story on a very similar theme is found in the comic “PS 238″ The protagonist is the son of two superheroes without any superpowers (except the knack for survival)…” 3 stars

“Though the film gives some good laughs, cool sequences, a great cinemontography, and a surprisingly original story, Sky High falls flat for me. I forgot the characters, I was often bored, the CG SUCKED, and was left thinking, “Eh.” 3 stars

“Sky High is one of Disney’s best films of this decade so far. I don’t know why a lot of people are comparing it to The Incredibles. It is not like that movie at all. It’s more like a cross between X-Men and Fantastic Four. Everyone had different superpowers. I enjoyed this movie. This movie did show a lot of references to other movies and TV shows based on comic books (like Wonder Woman, Batman, Spider-Man and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). If you are in the mood for a good, family movie, watch Sky High.” 4 stars

Advertisements

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1818, Abraham Lincoln lives in Indiana with his parents, Nancy (Robin McLeavy) and Thomas (Joseph Mawle), who works at a plantation owned by Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). There, Lincoln befriends a young African American boy, William Johnson, and intervenes when he sees Johnson being beaten by a slaver. Because of Lincoln’s actions, Thomas is fired by Barts, who demands that Thomas pay his debts to him. When Thomas refuses, Barts warns him that there are more than one way to collect a debt. That night, Lincoln sees Barts breaking into his house and attacking Nancy. Thomas finds her ill the following day, and she dies shortly afterwards. He blames Barts, and tells Lincoln that he poisoned Nancy.

Nine years later, after Thomas’ death, Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) decides to get revenge against Barts. He attacks Barts at the docks, but Barts overpowers him, revealing himself to be a vampire. However, before Barts can kill him, Lincoln is rescued by a man called Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), who takes Lincoln to his mansion. There, Sturgess reveals that vampires exist, and offers to teach Lincoln how to become a vampire hunter. Lincoln accepts, and, after 10 years of training, travels to Springfield, Illinois, in 1837, where he begins to slay vampires. During his training, Lincoln is told by Sturgess that the vampires that live in America descend from Adam (Rufus Sewell), a powerful vampire who owns a plantation in New Orleans with his sister, Vadoma (Erin Wasson). Lincoln also learns that vampires often feed off of the slaves. He informs Lincoln of the vampires’ weakness to silver, and presents Lincoln with a silver pocket watch.

In Springfield, Lincoln befriends shopkeeper Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson), and falls in love with Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is also being courted by the politicial Stephen A. Douglas (Alan Tudyk). Barts is one of the vampires living in Springfield, and, upon learning of Lincoln’s presence, he begins to target Mary.

One day, Lincoln receives a visit from Johnson (Anthony Mackie), who now helps freed slaves to escape through the Underground Railroad. Johnson asks for Lincoln’s help to evade bounty hunters who were hired to eliminate him. Lincoln and Johnson defeat the bounty hunters, and Lincoln later tells Mary what happened. She encourages him to fight for his ideals, and Lincoln begins to speak against slavery. Sturgess visits him, and says that he needs to focus on his mission. Sturgess then provides Lincoln with Barts’ location.

Lincoln confronts Barts at a farm, where Barts is mortally wounded. Before dying, Barts reveals that Sturgess is a vampire as well. Lincoln confronts Sturgess, who reveals that, several years before, him and his lover were attacked by Adam, who bit them both. Because Sturgess’ soul wasn’t pure, he became a vampire, and that prevented him from harming his “creator” or any other vampire since as Adam stated, “Only the living can kill the dead”. Since then, Sturgess has been training vampire hunters in an effort to destroy Adam.

Lincoln, disappointed, decides to abandon his mission. However, Adam learns of his activities and captures Johnson in order to lure Lincoln into a trap at his plantation in New Orleans. Lincoln tells Speed the truth and they travel to Adam’s estate, where Lincoln is captured. However, Speed storms into the mansion and rescues Lincoln and Johnson, and the three escape back to Ohio. Lincoln’s watch, however, is left behind and found by Adam.

In Springfield, Lincoln marries Mary and hires Speed as his assistant and Johnson as his valet, allowing Johnson to continue his duties with the Underground Railroad undercover. Sturgess warns Lincoln that slaves are what keeps vampires under control, and if Lincoln interferes with that, there’ll be an uprising, but Lincoln ignores his warnings.

Lincoln defeats Douglas and is elected President of the United States of America. He signs the Emancipation Proclamation and moves to the White House with Mary, where they have a son, William Wallace Lincoln (Cameron M. Brown). Years later, in 1861, Willie is bitten by Vadoma, who leaves the watch behind to mock Lincoln. Sturgess offers to turn Willie into a vampire in order to save him, and although Mary wants him to, Lincoln stops him. Following their son’s death, Lincoln is blamed by his wife.

With the slaves freed, the vampires begin to attack all humans. Lincoln deploys his troops to confront the vampires, but the monsters gain the upper hand because of their supernatural powers. Sturgess tries to convince Lincoln to offer Adam a truce, but Lincoln refuses, and is informed that Adam’s army has repelled Lincoln’s forces in the Battle of Gettysburg. Lincoln then decides to confiscate all the silverware of the area and have it melted in order to produce silver bullets for the soldiers to use in the battlefield. Speed, believing that Lincoln will lead them to death, betrays him and informs Adam that Lincoln will transport the silver to Gettysburg in a train.

Adam and Vadoma watch as Lincoln reconciles with Mary, who leaves with the other slaves, and follow him to the train. Lincoln, Sturgess and Johnson fight Adam, Vadoma and other vampires, who have set a fire a few miles ahead while Speed, his betrayal a ruse, damages the train’s controls, hoping that it will crash against the fire and destroy the vampires. Adam kills Speed and fights Lincoln before being attacked by Sturgess. During the fight, Adam learns that there is no silver in the train, only rocks. Lincoln reveals that he lured Adam into a trap and stabs Adam with the weaponized watch. Lincoln, Johnson and Sturgess then jump out of the train before it explodes.

Adam dies, but Vadoma escapes, locates Mary, who had transported the silver to Gettysburg through the Underground Railroad, and tries to kill Mary there, but Mary kills the vampire first, using a rifle to shoot the silver toy sword of her deceased son, into Vadoma’s forehead.

With their leaders dead, the vampires become uncoordinated, and Lincoln leads the soldiers in a massive ambush. With their silver ammunition, the soldiers destroy the vampires and finally free America of them.

A few months later, on April 14, 1865, Sturgess congratulates Lincoln, revealing that the few remaining vampires have fled to other countries, and tries to convince Lincoln to allow him to turn Lincoln into a vampire, so Lincoln will become immortal and continue to help Sturgess to accomplish great things in the future. Lincoln refuses, and leaves for the theater with Mary, leaving Sturgess behind. That night, although not shown, Lincoln is killed by John Wilkes Booth.

Over a century later, in modern times, Sturgess locates a young man at a bar in Washington, D.C. and approaches him in the same way he once approached Lincoln, revealing that he’s still alive and training vampire hunters.

REVIEW:

With a title like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, people are sure to think one of two things. The first idea is that this is either some kind of farcical nonsense meant to capitalize on this seemingly never-ending vampire craze (at the expense of President Lincoln). The other would be that this is something along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, just using Abraham Lincoln. Well, if you were wondering which is the truth, the answer is closer to the latter.

When news broke about this film being made, I was skeptical, especially since I had never read the graphic novel. As a matter of fact, I still haven’t. I’ll get around to it before this comes out on DVD, though…maybe.

As I was saying, it seems the title is very off-putting to many people, and may be one of this film’s biggest downfalls if it isn’t successful, which is really a shame. Why is it people can’t get over something so minor as a title? Seems to me there would be other things to concern yourself with about a film rather than the title.

So, what did I like?

Vampires. Remember the days, not so long ago, when vampires were cutthroat, evil beings as opposed to these sparkly, moody things that they apparently are today? Well, if there is one thing that can be said about this flick, is that it brings us some real vampires! It is totally awesome to see cold-hearted, bloodsucking, undead creatures again!

Abe. The vampire hunter stuff aside, most of what you know about Abraham Lincoln is here. They even throw in his honesty, freeing a slave boy, and touch a bit on his political views. I was totally expecting there to be some massive deviation from the history we all know. I can just imagine, though, that some history teachers are hoping and praying this doesn’t become a huge hit. It is hard enough teaching history as it is, can you imagine on a test some question about Lincoln and a kid answers that he was a vampire hunter?

Action. There is plenty of action to go around in this picture. If you’ve seen the trailer for this, then you know that the action is one of, if not the biggest selling point of this flick. There two sequences that really highlight the action, well three, now that I think about it. The first is when Abe is going after his mother’s killer (once he has finally learned how to be a vampire hunter). Jumping around a stampede of horses without losing a beat, or his axe. That was impressive! The second and third scenes involve the villain, Adam, played by Rufus Sewell. At his plantation, Abe gets to show off some slick and impressive moves, and then of course, there is that train  that we’ve been seeing since the very first trailer came out. All of these will have your jaw dropping when you see them!

Acting. The entire cast turn in strong performances, but I was most impressed with newcomer Benjamin Walker (who happens to resemble Liam Neeson) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. I can’t forget Rufus Sewell, either. The man was just made to play these debonaire, villanous roles that he can really, pardon the pun, sink his teeth into.

Take a look. Walker definitely looks the part of Lincoln, especially when he gets the beard. I’m sure no one reading this blog was around during Lincoln’s time to say whether or not he does a good impersonation of him, but from what I know he seems to have a good hold on the man. This is especially obvious when he is giving speeches, particularly the Gettysburg Address.

What didn’t work?

Silver. This is the second vampire flick I’ve seen, this week, as a matter of fact, where vampires are vulnerable to silver.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I could have sworn that silver only affected werewolves. I liked how they hearkened this back to Judas and his silver pieces, but I just think they could have gone with something else. Then again, I guess it wouldn’t have worked having a garlic axe, huh?

Pacing. The first half of the film is like a roller coaster. It starts, takes off, and has its ups and downs. The second half, though, is more inconsistent. It doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere until it finally gets there. I wish it was better planned out, but at the same time, it isn’t so horrible that you can’t get over it.

Why? There has to always be that one character who seems to be the guy that is jealous of everything. Usually, though, there is some development to these characters which allows the audience to make sense of why they do what they do. That isn’t the case here, though, as Joshua Speed randomly betrays Lincoln because he “knows it is right.” What kind of sniveling coward saying is that?!? If you’re gonna betray your old friend, then have the balls to do it!

Time waits for no one. I’ve just about had it with this bullet time stuff. It was cool when we first saw it 15 or so years ago, but now filmmakers are just using it because they can. Think back to this year’s The Three Musketeers. They really used it quite liberally, and not necessarily in a good way. Here it happens in every action scene. I don’t think there is a time where Abe is swinging his axe, except for the first few swings at the tree, that isn’t slowed down. If filmmakers are going to continue to use this technique, then they really need to learn some restraint. It almost ruined this film for me, and I’m sure that there are others who weren’t exactly a fan, either.

Tone. Maybe it was just me, but I think this one could have had a not so serious tone. I’m not saying it needed to be a comedy, as some people seem to believe it is, but maybe a joke here and there to lighten the mood. It felt as if they took this too seriously, when they could have just had more fun with the source material. There is a serious Lincoln picture coming out in the near future that is sure to be as serious as a heart attack.

Release date. Who in the world is running the studio that decided it would be a good idea to release the same weekend as a Pixar flick? Say what you want, Brave is almost assuredly going to trounce this film at the box office this weekend. I’m not going to say this shouldn’t have been released during the summer, but I wonder if it might have done better being held off a couple of months? Maybe coming out around Halloween? President’s day?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a film that delivers on some fun, summer action. Personally, I think it was a bit too serious, but I’m sure there are those out there that think it wasn’t dark and violent enough. Keep in mind, these are probably the same people who think the game Lollipop Chainsaw should be much darker and violent. Doesn’t that make you wonder about our society? Anyway, do I recommend this? Yes. It is a very good film that is unfairly getting judged because people don’t like the title, yet if it was changed, we all know folks would bitch and moan about that, too. You just can’t win for nothing in this world. This is one film that I will be rushing to get on DVD when it comes out in the fall. It is one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen this year. Go check it out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Live Free or Die Hard

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2012 by Mystery Man

220px-live_free_or_die_hard

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The FBI responds to a brief computer outage at their Cyber-Security Division by tracing down top computer hackers, finding several of them have been killed. Taking others into protective custody, the FBI orders NYPD detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) to collect Matthew “Matt” Farrell (Justin Long). McClane arrives in time to prevent Farrell from being killed by an assassin, Mai Linh (Maggie Q), working for Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). En route to Washington DC, Farrell explains he had written a portion of security code for a large sum of money from Mai.

As they arrive in DC, Gabriel orders his own crew of hackers to take control of the transportation grids and stock market, while nationally broadcasting a message threatening the United States. Farrell recognizes this as the start of a “fire sale”, an attack designed to target the nation’s reliance on computer controls, such that “everything must go”. McClane and Farrell are taken by police escorts to the secured FBI headquarters, but Mai, using the hijacked grids, reroutes the convoy into the path of an assault helicopter. McClane is able to take down the helicopter by launching a police car over a damaged toll booth into it. As McClane and Farrell recover, Gabriel initiates a second broadcast, showing a simulated explosion of the United States Capitol building, sending the public into panic. Farrell recognizes that the next target of the “fire sale” is likely the power grid, and the two drive to a utility superstation in West Virginia. They find a team led by Mai breaking into the station’s controls. McClane is able to kill the entire team, including Mai, and obtain video footage of Gabriel, which they relay to FBI headquarters. Enraged over Mai’s death, Gabriel uses remote control of the station to redirect the natural gas supply into it. McClane and Farrell escape before the station explodes, leaving much of the eastern seaboard without power.

Farrell directs McClane to a fellow hacker, Frederick “Warlock” Kaludis (Kevin Smith), in Baltimore. Warlock, running his computer systems from several generators, identifies the piece of code Farrell wrote as a means to access data at a Social Security Administration building at Woodlawn, Maryland. They realize this building is a front for a National Security Agency government facility, designed by Gabriel to download all personal and financial records in case of a cyber-security emergency such as this one generated by Gabriel himself. Warlock is also able to explain Gabriel’s motivation: a talented hacker, he was once a top expert for the Department of Defense. However, Gabriel was fired and his reputation was tarnished when he tried to sound the alarm about America’s vulnerability to cyber-warfare. Gabriel detects Warlock’s hack and speaks with him, Farrell, and McClane, and reveals that he has kidnapped McClane’s estranged daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

McClane and Farrell race to the Woodlawn facility. As McClane deals with Gabriel’s men, Farrell discovers that Gabriel is downloading all the information onto a portable computer system, and he is able to encrypt the data after it is completed. Gabriel is forced to take Farrell as they escape the facility. McClane follows, hijacking Gabriel’s semi and gains Warlock’s help to trace Gabriel’s own vehicle. With McClane in pursuit, Gabriel hacks into the military’s computers to deceive a United States Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II pilot into believing that McClane is a terrorist. McClane is able to escape the assault by launching the truck into the aircraft from a highway exit ramp, destroying both. McClane makes his way to a nearby warehouse where Warlock tracked Gabriel to. Though McClane dispatches most of Gabriel’s men, Gabriel’s last henchman, Emerson, wounds him in the shoulder. While Gabriel holds McClane to him at gunpoint, McClane manages to make Gabriel fire the gun through McClane’s wounded shoulder, killing Gabriel. Farrell then kills Emerson after taking McClane’s gun. As the FBI arrives to tend to McClane and Farrell’s wounds and clean up, McClane is displeased to see Lucy and Farrell taking a romantic interest in each other

REVIEW:

More often than not nowadays, studios dust off allegedly “dead” franchises and their stars in order to ignite their careers and hope for a big hit. Usually when they do this, they bring in some hot young actor to add the “young people’s vibe” into things. An example of this would be Shia Leboeuf in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. 9 1/2 times out of 10, though, this does nothing but infuriate and alienate the fan base, and ruin (read=kill) the franchise before it can gain any new life. Does Live Free or Die Hard follow suit?

I would be inclined to say so, but everything we like about the first films is still here, though I think they toned down the comedy a bit, and went for a PG-13 rating instead of R, which was a bloody shame, if you ask me.

As an action flick, the Die Hard franchise has been delivering some of the best films of the last 25 or so years, especially when you consider that they use very few CGI effects, which is always a plus for me. If you couple that with the great plot and well-written story that each of these films have had, then it is no wonder that this franchise is so popular and everlasting.

I do have issue with how all 4 of these films seem to follow the same basic formula involving a group of terrorists who capture a building and want insane amounts of money or else people die, and only John McClane can stop them, apparently. That’s a minor complaint, though.

This film, though, brings McClane into the 21st century, by pitting him against cyber terrorists and pairing him with a whiz kid computer hacker. This is all well and good, but did they have to have him insult the music of yesteryear while he was in McClane’s car. Seriously, CCR and music of that era is some great stuff, far superior to anything that has been released since about the mid 90s. Search your feelings, you know it to be true!

While the story is a good one, the pacing is horrible. For some reason, it felt like it was just plodding along throughout the whole of the film, with a couple of exciting explosion scenes here and there. On the flip side, though, isn’t it kind of scary to know that there are people out there so apt at computer hacking that they can literally take down the government with a laptop?

Casting wasn’t bad, but the standout has to be Timothy Olyphant as the villanous Thomas Gabriel. This guy is definitely one of today’s more underrated actors.

Also, it was nice to see Kevin Smith in front of the camera. His character doesn’t seem like much of a departure from his real life self, save for the living with his mom and hacking into government stuff.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead was ok as McClane’s daughter, bt I think it would have been better to have the little girl from the original film to reprise her role, especially since his wife has divorced him. Having her in there would have been a nice sense of continuity.

I would say this was a good conclusion to the franchise, but it was recently announced that there would be a 5th film, so nevermind. Live Free or Die Hard is a really good action flick that, even though it brings in younger characters to inject some youth into things, doesn’t lose site of what made it so successful in the first place. For that reason, you have to at least give this a shot. I can’t say whether you’ll be disappointed or not ,but it is a worth a shot, right?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The story begins in Toronto where Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera), the bass guitarist for the band “Sex Bob-omb,” begins dating high-schooler Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) despite the protests of his friends and bandmates. He later meets a mysterious American girl named Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and begins dating her, losing interest in Knives. Sex Bob-omb competes in a battle of the bands to win a record contract with the label G-Man when Scott is attacked by Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), the first of Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes who seek to control Ramona’s love life. Scott defeats Matthew and learns from Ramona that, in order for them to continue dating, he must defeat each member of the League of Evil Exes.

After learning that popular actor and skateboarder Lucas Lee (Chris Evans), the second evil ex, is coming to Toronto to film a movie, Scott is forced to break up with Knives, who is devastated and tries everything she can to win him back. Scott successfully defeats Lee by tricking him into performing a dangerous skateboard stunt. He encounters the third evil ex, Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh), who serves as bass guitarist for Scott’s ex-girlfriend Envy Adams’ (Brie Larson) band, “The Clash at Demonhead.” Todd initially overpowers Scott using his psychic vegan abilities, which are stripped from him by the “Vegan Police” after Scott tricks him into drinking coffee with half and half, allowing Scott to win the fight.

Following the defeat of the fourth evil ex Roxy Ritcher (Mae Whitman), Scott’s relationship with Ramona begins to falter as he grows increasingly upset with her dating history. During the second round of the battle of the bands, Sex Bob-omb faces off against the fifth and six evil exes, twin Katayanagi brothers Kyle (Shota Saito) and Ken (Keita Saito), earning Scott an extra life upon their defeat. During the battle, Scott sees Ramona together with her seventh and final evil ex, Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman), who turns out to be Sex Bob-omb’s sponsor G-Man. Ramona breaks up with Scott as she is unable to leave Gideon’s side due to a chip in the back of her head, and Scott leaves Sex Bob-omb as they sign on to play at Gideon’s new club, the Chaos Theatre.

Scott goes to the club and professes his love for Ramona, gaining the “Power of Love” sword with which he uses to fight Gideon. Knives arrives to battle Ramona over Scott who, while trying to break up the girls’ fight, accidentally reveals that he is cheating on both of them with each other before he is killed by Gideon. Scott uses his extra life to restart his battle with Gideon, this time resolving his issues with his friends and owning up to his own faults, gaining the even stronger “Power of Self-Respect” sword and defeating Gideon alongside Knives. Free from Gideon’s control, Ramona encourages Scott and Knives to stay together while she prepares to leave to start over. Upon Knives’ insistence, however, Scott instead follows Ramona as he always wanted, and the two begin their relationship anew.

REVIEW:

First of all, let me say that when I heard about this film back in the fall, I had no idea what to expect. I saw Michael Cera was going to be in it and assumed it was going to another one of those indie drama/comedy things he’s always in. Then, earlier this summer, I saw the trailer for and was blown away by the level of awesomeness that this film looked to have and the countdown began!

If you’re like me, then you may probably have no idea who Scott Pilgrim is. No, he isn’t an original character (big shocker, right?), but rather a cult comic book.

From my understanding, this movies stays dead on with the source material, save for some stuff that just wouldn’t translate to the big screen. Why can’t they all do this?

Now, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is full of action. I’ll get to that in a second, but I have to say something about how slow-paced the first 30 minutes or so of this film are. I know, I know, it seems as though I’m always bitching about films that take forever to get going, but that’s because it is so true. What makes it worse, is that this film is obviously meant for people like me, who have a short attention span and want to get to the action. There was no need to drag on that drama at the beginning. Introduce the characters and move along. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is that studios don’t get that idea. If this was a drama, I’d let it slide, but this is a freakin’ action movie! Get to the action!!!!

Speaking of said action, I loved every minute of it. Sure, there are those that are going to question how this wimpy guy is able to pull off these moves, but do we really need to know everything about every character we see in film and television?  I think not. The mystery is what makes them great. Somewhere around the mid-90s or so, we seem to have forgotten that and our films have suffered.

Each of the fights are brilliantly choreographed and the effects that go on in the background a reminiscent of old school anime and the old Batman TV series. An eclectic mixture, to be sure, but it works better than you think.

The video game element of these fights is really quite hilarious, as with the defeat of each of the seven exes they turn to coins. Strangely enough, they just leave the coins there, except for the first one, where Scott and Ramona took a few for bus fare.

For those of you out there that are all overly concerned with violence, this is no more violent that the Mario Brothers’ games. Sure, in the final scene, he could have decapitated Gideon’s and we could have seen lots of gushing blood a la Mortal Kombat, but that wouldn’t have been in the spirit of Scott Pilgrim, now would it?

From what I’ve seen of Scott Pilgrim, no one would have been better to bring him to life than Michael Cera. A friend of mine like to say that he plays the same character in each of his films. This is not really an exception, but he does seem to be acting more. Maybe the director got more out of him, or he took some acting classes, who knows? One thing is for sure, he kicked some major ass!

Mary Elizabeth Winstead normally is drop dead gorgeous, but with this weird hairdo and negative attitude she has in this film, she didn’t do anything for me. However, that’s a testament to how good she was. Usually, she’s the nice damsel in distress type, so this is a departure for her, and she does it beautifully.

The Seven Evil Exes all have their quirks and whatnot, but here’s something that you ma not realize. Scott Pilgrim takes down Superman (Brandon Routh)…ex #3, and the Human Torch, soon to be Captain America (Chris Evans)…ex #2. Just an interesting tidbit.

I didn’t really care for Routh’s vegan powers, but it made for an interesting character. As for Evans, it would have been cool, if he would have the power to create his own stunt doubles with his mind…a sort of multiplicity power.

The best fight of all, though, was where Ramona actually defended Scott against, I think she was #5. That was a totally awesome fight, especially the choreography as Mary Elizabeth Winstead is basically controlling Michael Cera like some sort of puppet.

The final verdict on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is that it will more than likely be one of those cult hits when it is released on DVD. The theater I saw it in was rather empty…partially becus the a/c had broken earlier in the day, but that’s neither here nor there. This is a great film for those of us that tire of seeing a bunch of buff guys doing impossible stunts and shedding blood all over the place (that isn’t a shot at The Expendables, btw). Sometimes a change of pace is welcome, and with the quirky humor, video game graphics, and martial arts homage action, this is a film that should appeal to everyone. So, what are you waiting for? Go see it!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Grindhouse: Death Proof

Posted in Action/Adventure, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Three friends – Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito), Shanna (Jordan Ladd) and radio disc jockey “Jungle Julia” Lucai (Sydney Tamiia Poitier) – are driving down Colorado Street in Austin, Texas to celebrate Jungle Julia’s birthday, unknowingly followed by a man in a souped-up 1970 Chevy Nova. While drinking at Güero’s Taco Bar, Jungle Julia reveals that she made a radio announcement earlier that morning, offering a free lap dance from Arlene in return for calling her Butterfly, buying her a drink and reciting a segment of the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. As the night goes on, the girls run into Pam (Rose McGowan), a childhood adversary of Jungle Julia’s, who is being studied by Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), a stunt double for Hollywood action films. He spends the night flirting with the women, working his way up to Arlene, who realizes that he’s been following them all day but accepts his excuse because of his charm. After giving Mike the lap dance, Arlene finally leaves with Jungle Julia, Shanna, and their marijuana dealer, Lanna Frank (Monica Staggs).

Stuntman Mike agrees to give Pam a ride home in his car and stays sober all night. Up to this point Stuntman Mike seems to be a normal guy, and when Pam is presented with a plexi-glass sealed passenger seat with no seatbelt, he simply explains that the camera is sometimes set up in that area and assures her that his car is “death proof”. It’s at this moment, Stuntman Mike looks directly into the camera, and grins from ear to ear, foreshadowing the mayhem to come. In the car, he asks for directions, and when Pam says right he sighs and says they’re going left, and he wished she had said left so she wouldn’t get scared right away. He reveals himself to be a sadist, and begins to ride at extreme speeds and swerve the car around, thrashing Pam around the box. She pleads with Mike to let her out of the car, but Mike ignores her and informs her that the car is only death proof for the driver, but “to get the benefit of it honey, you really need to be sittin’ in my seat”. He then slams on the brake, causing her to smash her face on the dashboard, killing her. Then it’s “time to find me my other girlfriends”, and he tosses his voyeur photographs of the girls out the window so the police don’t find evidence of premeditation. Mike then chases after the other four girls. Finding their car on an empty road, he speeds past them and spins his car around. He proceeds to race at the girls’ car head-on at full speed with his headlights off, and turns them back on at the last moment. Mike crashes into them, killing them.

At the hospital, it is revealed that Mike suffered only minor injuries. Because the girls were driving while intoxicated and Mike had not consumed any alcohol or marijuana, he is cleared of all criminal charges (Pam’s death is likely attributed to the collision), angering Texas Ranger Earl McGraw (Michael Parks), who knows the stuntman is guilty, but decides not to investigate due to the lack of evidence and energy he thinks could be better spent elsewhere, such as following the Nascar circuit. He vows to bring him down next time he does it in Texas, however due to barriers in cross-state police communication, Mike is soon in Tennessee looking for victims again without fear of being caught.

Fourteen months later, Lee Montgomery (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Abernathy Ross (Rosario Dawson), and Kim Mathis (Tracie Thoms) are traveling through Lebanon, Tennessee and stop at a convenience store where Mike has stationed himself. When Kim goes inside, Lee moves into the driver’s seat and starts listening to her iPod with Abernathy still trying to sleep in the backseat. Mike then gets out of his car and begins playing with Abernathy’s bare feet which are hanging out of the car window. When she wakes up, Mike pretends he bumped into her while looking for his car keys. He gets into his car and takes off. Abernathy catches one last glimpse of Mike’s car speeding off, which the other two don’t notice, before the three depart. The trio pick up their friend, stuntwoman Zoë Bell (playing herself), at the airport, who informs them she wants to test-drive a classic white 1970 Dodge Challenger. Later, she reveals her true motives: she wants to play a game called “Ship’s Mast,” in which she will hang onto the car’s hood with two belts while someone else drives at high speeds. When the girls reach the barn where the Dodge is being sold, Kim reluctantly agrees to help with the stunt and Abernathy tags along, while Lee finds herself left behind to placate the car’s owner, Jasper (Jonathan Loughran).

During this game, Mike arrives suddenly, and targets them with his 1969 Dodge Charger, repeatedly crashing into them, and eventually Zoë is thrown from the hood. Kim, who carries a gun for protection, shoots Mike in the left arm, causing him to flee. Zoë, due to her training and agility, is unharmed except for a “bruise on her bum.” The three girls decide to take revenge against their attacker. At this point the character roles abruptly switch, as Stuntman Mike becomes hysterical. His intended victims, on the other hand, become enraged in their pursuit, jeering and laughing at their foe’s efforts. Stuntman Mike’s injury forces him to stop and attempt to tend to his wound. In doing so, he releases his safety harness. Kim crashes into the back of his Charger and Zoë attacks him with a pipe, but Mike flees again without refastening his harness. An extended chase scene follows; just when he thinks he has escaped, the pursuing vehicle blindsides him and he crashes to a stop, breaking his right arm. Screaming in pain, he is hauled out of the car and the three women administer a vicious beating. Stuntman Mike is knocked to the ground, and the women leap in celebration, caught in a midair freeze-frame as the film ends. After a moment of credits, the film returns to show Abernathy delivering an axe-kick to Mike, crushing his head with her boot.

REVIEW:

I really wish films would take hint from this film and strip the CGI to minimum in the film and use real stunts and action. It seriously would be better, and possibly cheaper, but these days everything has to be done with computers I guess, and we, the viewers just have to deal with it.

This is actually the first part of the Grindhouse double feature, preceding, Planet Terror. While i liked this one, I think I preferred the other film. Of course, when/if I watch these again, my opinion is totally opt to change.

It is obvious that this is a Quentin Trantino film. On top of the nods to his other films here and there, there is the snappy Tarantino dialogue and old school soundtrack filled mostly with lesser known songs/artists. He does an excellent job of capturing the essence of car scenes from yesteryear, without the use of CGI *GASP* I’ve always respected Tarantino, but the direction he took with film, really upped my respect for him.

The real star(s) of the film has to be the car that Russell is driving. It is a true beast of a machine, and I would not want to be on the receiving end of a head on collision with it. Now the second incarnation of it isn’t as fearsome, but still is a force of man and machine, as the girls found out.

Kurt Russell doesn’t have much to do in this film other than drive. Well, he does have a few lines and the forst time we see him is a very gross close up of him eating nachos. He is very convincing as a grimy stuntman stalker who gets his jollies by killing his victims.

Jordan Ladd and Syndey Tamiia Poitier may not be household names, but their parents are. These aren’t the best roles for these actresses, Ladd especially, but it does get them out there in the public. Poitier really shines, though, in her role as Jungle Julia. Although, I was wondering if she would ever shut up.

Ladd and Poitier are accompanied by Vanessa Ferlito. Ferlito isn’t a well-known actress by any stretch of the imagination, but she shows some real acting chops in her role, going toe to toe with Russell, and giving a pretty nice lap dance.

The crash scene between Stuntmn Bob and these girls is epic, especially from the  many angles they show it from.

The second half of the film brings us Zoe Bell, Tracie Thoms, Rosario Dawson, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.  all are very competent actresses, especially Rosario, and nice bits of eye candy, but they just seem to talk on, and on, and on, and on…until they decide to go look at the white Dodge Challenger and take it for a test drive. Similar to the first half of the film, that’s when the real action starts.

After some real car chase action, the girls finally catch up with Stuntman Bob and give him his comeuppance. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but I kind of felt that he should/could have fought back rather than drive around whimpering. I understand that he didn’t kill them, because Zoe Bell was playing herself. That was pretty much a dead giveaway that she was going to live.

Similar to Planet Terror, Death Proof  has the look of a classic projector film, complete with pops and scene jumps, though they aren’t as prevalent in this one as they are in its counterpart. While it seems that this film is meant to be a serious piece of cinema, I couldn’t help but crack up at the cheesy factor of some of it, especially the ending. Despite its ups and downs, from the luscious eye candy that is the female cast, to the testosterone filled REAL car chase scenes, this is a pretty solid film, that any red blooded male (and I’m sure a few females) will enjoy.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars