Archive for Michael Keaton

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Following the Battle of New York, Adrian Toomes and his salvage company are contracted to clean up the city, but their operation is taken over by the Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.), a partnership between Tony Stark and the U.S. government. Enraged at being driven out of business, Toomes persuades his employees to keep the Chitauri technology they have already scavenged and use it to create and sell advanced weapons. Eight years later, Peter Parker is drafted into the Avengers by Stark to help with an internal dispute, but resumes his studies at the Midtown School of Science and Technology when Stark tells him he is not yet ready to become a full Avenger.

Parker quits his school’s academic decathlon team to spend more time focusing on his crime-fighting activities as Spider-Man. One night, after preventing criminals from robbing an ATM with their advanced weapons from Toomes, Parker returns to his Queens apartment where his best friend Ned discovers his secret identity. On another night, Parker comes across Toomes’ associates Jackson Brice / Shocker and Herman Schultz selling weapons to local criminal Aaron Davis. Parker nearly drowns intervening, and is rescued by Stark, who is monitoring the Spider-Man suit he gave Parker and warns him against involvement with the dangerous criminals. Toomes accidentally kills Brice with one of their weapons, and Schultz becomes the new Shocker.

Parker and Ned study a weapon left behind by Brice, removing its power core. When a tracking device on Schultz leads to Maryland, Parker rejoins the decathlon team and accompanies them to Washington, D.C. for their national tournament. Ned and Parker disable the tracker Stark implanted in the Spider-Man suit, and unlock its advanced features. Parker tries to stop Toomes from stealing weapons from a D.O.D.C. truck, but is overpowered and trapped inside the truck, causing him to miss the decathlon tournament. When he discovers that the power core is an unstable Chitauri grenade, Parker races to the Washington Monument where the core explodes and traps Ned and their friends in an elevator. Evading local authorities, Parker saves his friends, including his fellow classmate and crush Liz. Returning to New York City, Parker persuades Davis to reveal Toomes’ whereabouts. Aboard the Staten Island Ferry, Parker captures Toomes’ new buyer Mac Gargan, but Toomes escapes and a malfunctioning weapon tears the ferry in half. Stark helps Parker save the passengers before admonishing him for his recklessness and taking away his suit.

Parker returns to his high school life, and eventually asks Liz to go to the homecoming dance with him. On the night of the dance, Parker learns that Liz is Toomes’ daughter. Deducing Parker’s secret identity, Toomes threatens retaliation if he interferes with his plans. During the dance, Parker realizes Toomes is planning to hijack a D.O.D.C. plane transporting weapons from Avengers Tower to the team’s new headquarters. He dons his old homemade Spider-Man suit and races to Toomes’ lair. He is first ambushed by Schultz, but defeats him with the help of Ned. At the lair, Toomes destroys the building’s support beams and leaves Parker to die. Parker is able to escape the rubble and intercepts the plane, steering it to crash on the beach near Coney Island. He and Toomes engage in an open confrontation that ends with Parker saving Toomes’ life from his own unstable equipment, and leaving him for the police along with the plane’s cargo. After her father’s arrest, Liz moves away, and Parker declines an invitation from Stark to join the Avengers full time. Stark returns Parker’s suit, which he puts on at his apartment just as his Aunt May walks in.

In a mid-credits scene, an incarcerated Gargan approaches Toomes in prison. Gargan has heard that Toomes knows Spider-Man’s real identity, but Toomes denies this.

REVIEW:

With all the success Marvel has had with the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), they could not say they truly were a success story until there was a Spider-Man film under their wing. With Sony holding the rights to the character (not to mention the Fantastic Four) hostage, many were wondering if we would ever see the day when Spidey would grace the big screen in the MCU…then we saw Captain America: Civil War. Now, Spider-Man: Homecoming aims to take that character introduction and flesh out a third cinematic version of Peter Parker. Hey, at least this one is age-appropriate, right?

What is this about?

Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark, Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.

What did I like?

Fun. Audiences and critics have been noticing something in superhero films (and TV shows). A lack of fun! Think about how bright and vibrant Superman is and now think about what we were forced to sit through with Man of Steel. Somewhere along the way, our superheroes stopped being beacons of hope, and turned into examples of how to brood. Spider-Man has not been exempt from this curse. Toby Maguire’s version started out pretty good, but couldn’t keep it up. I never cared for Andrew Garfield or his take on the character, so I won’t waste time on him. Tom Holland brings a fresh take to Spider-Man in that we haven’t seen him as a high schooler, at least not an age appropriate high schooler. With that, the fun and innocence that Stan Lee intended for the character is front and center, as are the awkward moments of being a teenager. Again, this is what Stan Lee envision when he first created him, not some attitude having, puffy haired, British string bean who ruins the character of Peter Parker.

We know the story. Look, if you don’t know the origin of Spider-Man by now, either through comics, cartoons, Watchmojo.com, Wikipedia, or whatever, then chances are you either don’t care or just haven’t bothered to learn yourself something. With that said, I join the billions of fans who saw this and noticed the absence of Uncle Ben’s murder. As a matter of fact, it isn’t even mentioned! We are more than aware than Ben gets shot and its Peter’s fault, but in the last 5 Spider-Man movies, we have either seen this happen or been privy to a bevy of flashbacks so that we can relive the scene ad naseum. Thank goodness the 6th time they got it right and didn’t include anything about the murder…though I do hope in future films we get something on what happened. I’m mostly curious as to who they’ll cast as Uncle Ben to pair with Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May

Cap must’ve needed the money. One of the best cameos in the picture is Captain America doing PSAs. While I was laughing when Cap showed up in these videos, I couldn’t help but wonder why he was doing them. Did the government make him? Is he just being a good guy and attempting to help the youth? Just some thoughts that popped in my head. I’m sure that I am just overanalyzing and  these were nothing more than a funny thing to include in the film.

What didn’t I like?

Homage or ripoff? About halfway through the picture, there is a scene where Spider-Man has to use all of his strength to hold two halves of a dissected boat together. As I was sitting there watching him strain, I couldn’t help but recall the train sequence in Spider-Man 2 when Toby Maguire is called on to use all of his strength to stop the train. Many people have noticed this comparison and now I must ask…is this an homage or a ripoff? I see it more as an homage, personally. The scene in question is from what is arguably the best Spider-Man film to date, so why wouldn’t you bring something from that great film into this new version? Also, if it was a ripoff, I think we’d have a seen something involving the subway, I’m sure.

What a shock! Shocker is one of my favorite in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. I can’t tell you why, but I have this affinity for him. Maybe it’s the Texas connection?!? At any rate, I was over the hills with excitement when I heard the announcement he was going to be in this film. Then I saw him and my jaw dropped. This is not Shocker. He doesn’t even really don the costume, save for the sleeves on his jacket. How is it we can get nearly every detail right with superheroes, but for the villains they just seem to wear similar colors to their comic counterparts. I wonder why that is!

A change will do you good. My first introduction to the Vulture was as an elderly gentlemen who was running part of the criminal organizations in NYC. Obviously, there are some differences between that idea and the one we see on the screen. Most importantly, the family man version of the character remained intact. So, why would I not like the change in history? Well, just this week, some promotional photos were released for Deadpool 2, specifically images of the mutant, Domino. I bring this up because she’s quite the curvy wonder in the pics, it is the sudden realization that she is now to be played by an actress of color…complete with afro and some weird face that causes her to look like a dog. What is the reason for this change? No real reason, they just wanted someone of ethnicity to play a character who has plae white skin.

Final verdict on Spider-Man:Homecoming? This is the superhero film we’ve all been clamoring for. It has action, humor, sci-fi, crime, and even a love story. What is there to not like? While Marvel and Sony are sure to fight over who gets credit here, really it is the fans and moviegoers that win. Do  I recommend  this? Emphatically yes! The cons are few and the pros are many. Go check it out!

5 out of 5 stars

 

Spotlight

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Spotlight tells the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions. When the newspaper’s tenacious “Spotlight” team of reporters delves into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, their year-long investigation uncovers a decades-long cover-up at the highest levels of Boston’s religious, legal, and government establishment, touching off a wave of revelations around the world.

What people are saying:

Spotlight gracefully handles the lurid details of its fact-based story while resisting the temptation to lionize its heroes, resulting in a drama that honors the audience as well as its real-life subjects” 4 1/2 stars

“Spotlight shows how difficult it is to challenge a hallowed institution. This requires deep though on the part of the person initiating the investigation. They have to realize that breaking the law applies equally to all citizens: bakers, bankers, bartenders, and clergy. The film shows the drama in the investigation and trying to keep it from being hijacked. A super film: highly recommend taking the time to view it. ” 5 stars

“Don’t underestimate the power of journalism! My salute to the real Spotlight team and all the people who made this film. Goosebumps all the way through. You won’t believe the events portrayed in the film actually happened in the real world.” 4 1/2 stars

“After watching this movie, I’d like to see one about what the church has done to clean up its act. I thought the line about celibacy being the cause of it laughable and incredibly naive. It was hard to get too interested in such an old story.” 3 stars

“This drama based on true events does tell a good story about how the ball got rolling in this cover-up. But as a movie, it doesn’t quite meet the mark. Some of the acting (especially from Ruffalo) is average, and there are a few filler scenes and dead spots. I was expecting more complexity and revelations as the movie unfolded. With all of the recent media reports and government inquiries into these matters, the facts didn’t produce the shock value which they would have when these stories initially broke in the media” 3 stars

RoboCop (2014)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2028, multinational conglomerate OmniCorp revolutionizes warfare with the introduction of robotic peacekeepers capable of maintaining law and order in hot spots such as Iran. Led by CEO Raymond Sellars, the company moves to market its tech to domestic law enforcement, but the passage of the Dreyfus Act, forbidding deployment of drones on U.S. soil, prevents this. Aware that most Americans oppose the use of military systems in their communities, Sellars asks Dr. Dennett Norton and his research team to create an alternative. The result is a proposal for a cyborg police officer. However, Norton informs Sellars that only someone who is stable enough to handle being a cyborg can be turned into one, and some candidates are rejected.

A Detroit policeman, Alex Murphy, is chosen after he is critically injured in a car bomb explosion arranged by crime boss Antoine Vallon in revenge for Murphy’s investigation into his activities. Norton persuades Murphy’s wife Clara to sign off on the procedure. Upon waking up and realizing the extent of his transformation, Murphy flies into a rage and escapes the lab, but Norton is able to convince him to return. As Norton reveals to Murphy that the only remnants of his human body are most of his head (excluding parts of the brain), his respiratory organs and a hand, Murphy is disgusted, and asks for euthanasia. Norton reminds Murphy about his wife’s and son’s patience, and convinces him to live on. During combat training with trainer Rick Mattox, Murphy proves unable to compete with the standard OmniCorp drones in efficiency. Norton alters his programming to make him more efficient, but also less empathetic.

Shortly before he is to be publicly unveiled, Murphy has an emotional breakdown, forcing Norton to remove his emotions. During the ceremony, RoboCop identifies and apprehends a criminal in the crowd. He goes on to dramatically reduce crime in Detroit, wrecking public support for the Dreyfus Act. Aware that Clara has begun to ask questions, Sellars orders Norton to keep her away from her husband.

Clara nevertheless manages to confront RoboCop, telling him of their son David’s nightmares. The experience leads Murphy to override his programming and access the previously sealed files on his attempted murder. From them, he learns his son witnessed the explosion and was left traumatized. Murphy pursues Vallon’s gang for revenge. He takes heavy damage from their armor-piercing weapons, but manages to kill the boss and his men. Murphy returns to the station and joins with his old partner, Jack Lewis, to confront the two corrupt cops who betrayed him to Vallon, shooting one and tazing the other. Learning that the Chief of Police was also involved, Murphy moves to arrest her, but is remotely shut down by Mattox.

With the help of Pat Novak, a pro-OmniCorp talk show host, Sellars uses the incident to get the Dreyfus Act repealed. Clara goes to the press and angrily demands to see her husband. Fearful of being exposed, Sellars orders Mattox to destroy RoboCop while he’s being repaired. Norton is able to reach him first and reveals the truth. RoboCop narrowly escapes the building just as it undergoes lockdown.

Murphy returns and storms the building, destroying the ED-209 drones sent to stop him while Lewis and his fellow police arrive to hold off the rest of OmniCorp’s forces. Mattox subdues Murphy and prepares to finish him off, but is killed by Lewis. Murphy then makes his way to the roof where Sellars is waiting for a helicopter with Clara and David as hostages. Murphy’s programming initially prevents him from arresting Sellars, but he overcomes it long enough to kill Sellars despite being severely wounded.

OmniCorp’s parent company, OCP, shuts down the project. The President vetoes the repeal of the Dreyfus Act based on the testimony of Norton, to Novak’s anger. Murphy’s body is rebuilt in Norton’s laboratory, and he waits for Clara and David, who are coming to visit him.

REVIEW:

Here we go with another remake of a classic 80s property. Robocop aims to introduce new audiences to the titular character, while also creating a so-call hero for this generation, or some such crap.

What is this about?

When Detroit cop and family man Alex Murphy is critically injured in the line of duty, a robotics firm transforms him into an experimental crime-fighting cyborg, though he remains haunted by his human past in this reboot of the 1980s sci-fi classic.

What did I like?

Family life. Remakes are not my cup of tea. I believe they are just lazy filmmaking and show how un-creative Hollywood is becoming, especially with more and more of these being released every year. Don’t even get me started on how they besmirch the legacy of the original. Take True Grit, for instance. When the remake came out, the artwork on the original DVD cover was changed to look similar. Clash of the Titans, and many others I’m sure, had that same thing done to them. What I do like about remakes, though, is how they touch on some thing that just aren’t covered in the original. In the case of this film, we get more of a look at Officer Murphy’s family life. How the accident really affected his wife and kid and all that. I don’t believe the original Robocop gave us that. As a matter of fact, I seem to recall the wife leaving after he became a cyborg. So, that’s a change. Depending on your personal opinion, it may be for the better or worse.

Morality. From a morality standpoint, the picture takes a stand on how right or wrong it is to keep a man alive who is nothing more than a head and vital organs. Thinking about it now, that is a quandary. On the one hand, you’re keeping this guy alive after getting severely injured in the line of work, but on the other hand, what kind of life can he truly have now that he is more man than machine, from a physical standpoint, at least. The quandary is something that actually makes you think, that’s for sure.

Original theme. The original theme music from the original film had a heroic march feel to it, giving the audience the emotions of following Murphy on his mission to rid the streets of Detroit from the bad guys. The filmmakers actually snuck it in here a couple of time as an Easter egg, of sorts. There are other nods to the original, such as the pre-painted mechanical body, lines from the original, etc. Knowing how poorly the news of this being was received, I think the filmmakers wanted to extend an olive branch to the fans. It was a decent attempt, that’s all I’ll say about that.

What didn’t I like?

Mr. Roboto. I have two things to say about this. First, the new cyborg body isn’t impressive. It is almost like an insectoid exoskeleton, rather than something that would be used to fight crime. Last I checked, Robocop wasn’t going around doing parkour. Also, like the actors who play superheroes, Joel Kinnaman spends way more time with his visor off. As a matter of fact, I think this version it only comes down when he’s fighting. WTF?!? That thing needs to be down at all times, similar to Judge Dredd, where much of his design comes from. My other point is how wooden and robotic Kinnaman’s acting is. I felt no emotion, sympathy, or even connection to the guy, nor did I want to cheer for him when he became Robocop. He’s just unlikable. I won’t go so far as to say he was miscast, though, because the script didn’t do him any favors.

Satire subtraction. The original film was actually a big satire for the overabundance of excess violence, advertising, and cooperate greed that was commonplace in the 80s. There is little satire in this film, mostly by Samuel L. Jackson’s character playing a weird combination of Al Sharpton and Bill O’Reilly (doesn’t that though give you nightmares?), but the rest of the film doesn’t even try to hint at satire, instead going for the straight and narrow, dare I say safe, route.

Violence without blood. Some of the best scenes from the original involve the gratuitous violence. Limbs being shot off, guys getting mutate and then splattered on a windshield, it is glorious! If you’re looking for more of the same with this version, though, I must warn you that there isn’t even a drop of blood spilled. Does this film need gratuitous violence to be good? I wouldn’t say that, but when a person gets shot, they are going to bleed. When a guy get’s blown up, he is not going to still look nearly the same. That’s just the way things are

Robocop makes an attempt at being a new action franchise, but it just isn’t good enough. It doesn’t stand up to the original, feels like it was made just for a cash grab, has an inferior plot. Also, the fun of the original is drained out of this one as it becomes just another dry, forgettable action flick. There are some good points, though. As I mentioned, the extended family story was nice as was showing the Arkham City way Robocop can decipher clues and recreate crime scenes, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. Do I recommend this? No, unless you want to fall asleep in an action flick. I tried, I really tried to get into this, but just couldn’t and I’m sure there are others that have or will have the same reaction.

2 out of 5 stars

The Other Guys

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Nerdy detective Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) is a forensic accountant who is more interested in paperwork than hitting the streets. Tough, but dim-witted Detective Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) has been stuck with Allen as his partner ever since he shot Derek Jeter during the World Series. Allen and Hoitz receive no respect from the other officers, namely detectives Martin (Rob Riggle) and Fosse (Damon Wayans, Jr.), who trick Allen into firing his gun in the office (a “desk pop”), and Captain Gene Mauch (Michael Keaton) leaves him with a wooden practice gun as punishment. Terry detests Allen’s extreme cautiousness, choice of music, and is baffled by and infatuated with his beautiful wife Sheila (Eva Mendes). They both idolize cocksure detectives Chris Danson (Dwayne Johnson) and P.K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson), who are considered the city’s best policemen even though they frequently cause millions of dollars in property damage catching criminals. During a pursuit of a group of jewelry robbers, Danson and Highsmith die when they jump off a 20-story building to continue pursuit, after agreeing to “aim for the bushes”. The two were mourned by the police force as heroes despite their odd deaths, and Martin and Fosse are in line to fill their shoes.

Allen and Terry begin to investigate a scaffolding permit violation by multi-billionaire David Ershon (Steve Coogan), but wind up uncovering a much bigger plot by Ershon to cover his losses to his client Lendl Global, and Allen and Terry agree to put aside their differences to solve the case. Lendl CEO Pamela Boardman (Anne Heche) hires a team of mercenaries led by Roger Wesley (Ray Stevenson) to make sure Ershon pays her back, and to make sure no one stops him from doing so, creating a roadblock for Allen and Terry.

During their investigation, Allen confides in Terry about his college life running a dating service, though refusing to admit that he was a pimp as Terry correctly points out. When his life spiraled out of control, he was sent to the hospital where he met Sheila, and he promised himself and Sheila that he would never get out of control again. However, when having dinner one night with Sheila, she tells Allen that she’s pregnant, causing Allen’s old dark personality to re-emerge, and she kicks him out of the house. Meanwhile, Terry tries and fails to reconnect with his ex-fiance Francine (Lindsay Sloane), who walked out on him due to his reckless behavior.

Their investigation comes to a halt when Ershon’s attorney learns of his plan to cover his losses, leading Wesley to kill him and make it look like a suicide. Mauch splits up Allen and Terry, sending Terry to traffic and Allen to patrol. Allen still tries to solve the crime on his own, even though Terry thinks it is a dead end, having settled into traffic. After learning that the jewelry robbery that Danson and Highsmith died over was staged so that Wesley and his team could break into Lendl’s accounting firm next door to alter their records, he finally gets credible evidence and earns his gun back. Allen then convinces Terry to rejoin him.

They go to Mauch, who admits he’s been holding off on the case because Ershon has high-profile connections that could ruin Mauch, and he allows them to finish the case off-the-books. They go to an investment meeting Ershon is having and realize that the $32 billion Ershon seeks, initially believed to be coming from the New York Lottery Office, is really coming from the New York Police retirement fund. They escape with Ershon to his private apartment, and Ershon tells them that the money for the pension fund is already in his account, ready to be transferred to Lendl’s account. Allen and Terry make amends with their respective significant others the night before.

In the morning, they drive to the bank to stop the transfer, evading Wesley’s team, groups of Chechen and Nigerian investors Ershon owes money to, and police officers who are told Allen and Terry have gone rogue. They reach the bank and halt the transfer, but Wesley arrives and shoots both officers. Mauch finally arrives with police backup, rescuing the two and arresting Ershon and Wesley. Ershon’s arrest leads to a stock market crash and the subsequent federal bailout of Lendl. Wesley is charged with the murder of Ershon’s attorney. Terry gets married to Francine, although he is still infatuated with Sheila. Allen and Terry believe that the true heroes are the ones who make the world a better place, not the ones who appear in the newspaper or on TV. The film ends with a peacock flying by the screen in reference to Terry’s remark, “I’m a peacock, you gotta let me fly,” as Terry and Allen drive off.

Figures and statistics relating to Ponzi schemes, Bernie Madoff, and TARP bailouts are shown during the ending credits. When the credits finish, a short scene is shown where Terry tells Allen a joke over dinner at a restaurant.

REVIEW:

I’ll be the first one to admit that, while I enjoyed most of The Other Guys, some of it was just too overt the top or confusing, even for me.

That being said, I didn’t hate this film the way some critics and bloggers seem to be doing. At the same time, I’m not going to praise it as an “upgrade from the failed Kevin Smith film, Cop Out. He really should take notes.

So, what is The Other Guys about? Well, we have two desk cops (there for different reasons), who suddenly get the chance to step up, thanks to a certain unexpected accident involving the “supercops” played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. After said accident, we go one a series of events with Ferrel and Wahlberg. Hilarity ensues. Oh, and there’s also this little plot thing about a Ponzi scheme.

There are some hilarious moments in this film, mostly involving the banter and chemistry between Ferrell and Wahlberg, who work surprisingly well together. Add in Steve Coogan as a comedic villain, if you will, and the formula works.

A recurring joke throughout the film is how Ferrell’s character can keep attracting these super hot women, such as his wife Eva Mendes. I found myself asking the same thing, but anything can happen in the movies, right?

The cast is full of hilarious actors and, for lack of a better term, A- list actors. Each one has great chemistry with the rest of the cast and doesn’t try to outshine the other, with the exception of Ferrell and Wahlberg, for obvious reasons.

There is a little bit of action here and there. After all, this is a cop flick. Is it worth mentioning? Well, other than just that its there, not really.

In the end, The Other Guys is one of those films that some will love while others will leave scratching their heads. I thought I’d be one of the former, but ended up as one of the latter. Does that mean I didn’t like the picture? By all means, no. I just think I need to see it again before I go adding it to my collection. Should you see it? Sure, it won’t hurt you to have a laugh, will it?

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

Toy Story 3

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews, Pixar with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Andy is now 17 years old and packing for college, and his toys who have not been played with in years feel forgotten and abandoned. Andy takes Woody with him to college and intends to store the other toys in the attic. By accident, Andy’s mom throws the other toys away, making them think they are no longer wanted; they escape and decide to climb in a box to be donated to the Sunnyside Daycare. Woody, the only toy who saw what really happened, is forced to follow the others and tries to explain they were thrown out by mistake, but they refuse to listen.

Andy’s toys are welcomed by the numerous toys at Sunnyside, and given a tour of the seemingly perfect play-setting by Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear (a.k.a. Lotso), Big Baby and Ken, who Barbie falls for. All of the toys are quickly enamored with their new home, leaving steadfast Woody alone to attempt to return to Andy. However, Woody is picked up outside the school by the imaginative toddler Bonnie. She takes him home and plays with him along with her other toys, who are well treated, happy, and readily welcome Woody. Woody is elated until he hears about Lotso from Chuckles the sad clown. Lotso, along with Big Baby and Chuckles, were once accidentally lost by their original owner, Daisy. The three found their way back to Daisy’s home, but Lotso saw that he had been replaced. Though Chuckles realized the truth, Lotso -embittered- convinced Big Baby that they were abandoned, and used Big Baby’s size to take mafia-like control over the toys at Sunnyside. Worried for his friends, Woody hurries back to the daycare and finds that they have been put on task to be played with the rambunctious youngest toddlers. They are also kept under guard at night by Buzz whom Lotso has reverted to demonstration mode restoring his original “Space Ranger” persona and allying with him.

Woody rejoins his friends and they work out an escape plan involving the garbage dumpster. In the process, Buzz is accidentally reset into a Spanish-speaking mode during an attempt to restore him to normal. The toys reach the dumpster, but are headed off by Lotso and his gang. As a garbage truck approaches, Woody explains to Big Baby that Lotso has lied to him and that his owner still loved him, whereupon Big Baby lifts and throws him into the dumpster. Unfortunately, Lotso manages to pull Woody in with him just as the garbage truck makes it. Woody’s friends board the truck to rescue him, during which Buzz is hit by a falling television while saving Jessie, finally returning to his old self. The toys find themselves at the local landfill in Tri-County and are soon pulled onto a conveyor belt leading to an incinerator. They help Lotso to reach an emergency-stop button, only to have Lotso betray them and leave them to be burned. Believing they are at their last moments, the toys hold hands, but are rescued in time by the squeeze toy aliens using a giant crane. The toys return to Andy’s home, while Lotso is found by a garbage truck driver and is tied to the front grille of the truck as a decoration.

At Andy’s house, Woody climbs back into the box with Andy’s college supplies while the other toys resign themselves to the attic. Woody has a last minute inspiration, and leaves a note to Andy on the toys’ box. Andy, mistaking it for a note from his mom, takes the box to Bonnie’s home, introduces his old toys to Bonnie and gives her the toys to play with. In the end, Bonnie recognizes Woody, laying at the bottom of the box, to Andy’s surprise. Andy is initially reluctant to give him to her, but eventually does so and then spends some time playing with her before he departs. Woody and the other toys find themselves wanted and played with again, and learn through notes passed in Bonnie’s backpack that Barbie, Ken and Big Baby have improved the life of all the toys at Sunnyside.

REVIEW:

 Earlier this week, I did a review on the final Shrek film. Today, I’m doing the last entry into the Toy Story franchise.

Before I get too far into this, let me say this. I don’t think there should have been a Toy Story 3, no matter what my opinion is on this film. If Pixar must make a sequel to something, why not make one for the one film they have that sets itself up or a sequel, The Incredibles. There was no need for this, nor are people clamoring for Cars 2 or Monsters, Inc. 2. Monsters, Inc. ended so perfectly, why ruin it by making a sequel. It isn’t like these people are going broke!!!!

I could go on and on about that. –breathes–

Now, Toy Story 3 wraps up the adventures of our friends from Andy’s room. I really like how they allowed Andy to grow up. The original Toy Story was released in 1995, and Toy Story 2 seemed to be set around the same time. This one has him all grown up and headed off to college.

Yes, that is the basic plot. As with the previous film, the toys find themselves wondering if they’re going to be shoved aside for whatever reason. Same formula, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Through some various adventures, for lack of a better word, they end up in a day care where a sadistic teddy bear called Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear runs things. He is threatened by the newcomers and puts them in the preschooler room. Need I say more? We all know how young ‘uns treat their toys. Especially the really young.

The climax and denouement of this film are reminders of why this is Pixar at their finest. Even in moments of total darkness and sadness, they create some exceptionally beautiful animation, as well as touching scenes.

One of the questions many had when this was announced was how they would handle the character of Slinky Dog, since his voice, Jim Varney, passed away. While I’m not a fan of replacing voice actors after they’ve gone on, I have to give props to Blake Clarke. I cold barely tell the difference.

The rest of the cast (those that appear in this picture, anyway) haven’t lost a step. I was impressed with Joan Cusack, though. She actually seemed to have gained some personality in this role.

If you’ve seen the other films in this franchise, then you’ll be pleased to see some familiar people/things, such as the Pizza Planet truck from the first film, as well as Sid (though he doesn’t have a speaking role), of course there’s Molly and Buster. I’m sure there are others that I missed, not to mention the usual Pixar cameos.

The thing I didn’t see, though, was how/why this was released in 3D. Nothing I saw would have been worth paying the extra $$$.

Similar to Shrek Forever After, Toy Story 3 has a noticeably darker tone than its predecessors. I attribute this to my belief that this was made more for those that have grown up with these characters. I do have to say that this is one of the finest pieces of filmmaking I’ve seen (animated or otherwise) in quite some time. If you haven’t seen this, then what are yo waiting for?!?

5 out of 5 stars

Post Grad

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , on June 13, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel) graduates from college in the middle of the late-2000s recession and is forced to move back in with her parents, because her dream job has been given to her college nemesis Jessica Bard. Ryden and her best friend Adam (Zach Gilford) must find a job for Ryden before she loses hope for her future dream as an editor of a big publishing company. But will sudden feelings for her long time friend interfere with her dreams?

REVIEW:

Life after college can be a real wake up call, especially when you meet up with some of your friends and realize that they have fabulous lives and your is…well, it sucks. That is pretty much what you get in Post Grad.

That’s a nice little story, right? Here’s the problem, that is only the basic part of this film. It twists and turns into each and every nook and cranny they can find, except furthering the basic plot. It is for that reason that this film doesn’t work. On top fo that, there is supposed to be some comedy here, and except for performances from Michael Keaton and an eerily nice Jane Lynch, this thing might as well have been a drama.

Alexis Bledel is a gorgeous girl, and fits the role of a just graduated college grad, but this was not for her. If this was supposed to be the role that launched her into superstardom, she took a step back with it. I read that this was originally written for Amanda Bynes. I can see her in this role, and with her natural comic talent, it would have worked much better. I guess what I’m saying is that this would have been a much better film without Bledel.

Zach Gilford isn’t really given much to do here. His character is similar to his Friday Night Lights role…the whole laid-back guy persona, and all. However, there is a bit of frustration for being the best friend of a hot girl who harbored platonic feelings. You feel sorry for the guy and wish he would move on, but at the same time you’re pulling for the two of them to get together. Gilford has a future if he can keep pulling off performances like this, as he was 100% believable. One has to wonder if he has encountered a situation like this in real life, or if he is that good of an actor.

Michael Keaton and Jane Lynch, as I mention before, along with Carol Burnett are the comic relief. This is Keaton’s funniest role since the late-80s. Hopefully, this is a sign that the guy is back. I mentioned before that Lynch is eerily nice. After spending the last year watching her on Glee, it is kind of odd to see her be nice. Carol Burnett is a true icon, though with the dark red hair, she sort of looks like Mary Tyler Moore. I’m not exactly sure what the point of having a grandma here was, but when you have a chance to cast Burnett, you take it.

The random hot guy…there has to be one..played by Rodrigo Santoro is some more of this weird casting that went on with this herky jerky film. There isn’t anything wrong with his performance, but his character seems to exist only as a way to create some sort of conflict with Bledel and Gilford that eventually leads up to the sappy ending.

So, this is a decent picture, but not one that I would recommend to anyone, except for people about to graduate college. There is the whole thing about what life after graduation would be like that is actually worth watching. Keaton, Lynch, Gilford, and Burnett’s performances are also not to be missed, but, that’s pretty much it. This is a very thin film that really isn’t worth the time. It would be better watched on TV than wasting a rental spot. Sure, they’ll edit it, but , trust me, that may actually improve it.

3 out of 5 stars

Multiplicity

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on February 10, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the movie, Michael Keaton’s character, Doug Kinney, is a construction worker whose work is in constant conflict with his family. On one job to build a new wing of a scientific facility, Doug meets up with Dr. Leeds, a scientist who has developed a successful means for cloning humans, and is introduced to Dr. Leeds’ clone as proof. The scientist, who is sympathetic to Doug’s troubles, allows Doug to make a clone of himself that can take over for him at work, while he tries to spend some quality time with his family. The clone, called “Two” (while having all the knowledge, memory and experience of Doug), turns out to be overly macho and easily irritated, suffering a residual personality quirk of the cloning process.

Eventually two more clones are made. “Three”, in sharp contrast to two, is extremely sensitive and thoughtful (“Two” considers him a ‘wuss’). “Four” is cloned from “Two”, and has the mentality of an overly-curious child. Unfortunately since he is a clone-of-a-clone, his IQ is considerably lower than that of his predecessors, since the personality defects are more pronounced when a clone is cloned (The analogy from the movie refers to how a copy of a copy may not be as ‘sharp’ as the original), and this causes an annoyed Doug to decree a moratorium on cloning. One night Doug leaves home for a business trip. While Doug is gone each of the clones run into Laura and each one sleeps with her. The next day “Two” comes down with a cold and can’t go to work, so he sends “Three”. As “Three” goes to work not knowing a thing about construction, an inspection on site is on that day. “Three” unimpresses the inspector which leads to him losing Doug’s job.

As the movie progresses, Doug’s wife becomes increasingly upset with her husband, not realizing that many times she is speaking to a clone. After she pours out her heart to “Four”, mentioning how he (Doug) has never kept his promise on fixing the house, she asks him what he wants and is unromantically told “I want pizza”. Upset, she takes the children to live with her parents. When Doug returns he learns that Laura and the kids have left. He also learns from the clones’ confessions that he has lost his job and each one of them have slept with Laura. Trying to figure out how to get Laura back, “Four” tells him about what she said to him on how he never fixed the house. With the help of the clones, Doug remodels the house and wins back the love of his wife. With their purposes served, the three clones move away, later writing Doug that they have set up a successful pizzeria called “Three Guys from Nowhere”. “Two” becomes the business man of the shop and serves customers, “Three” is the chef and “Four” is the delivery boy as well as taking a second job as a paperboy (It’s shown in the end of the film that he tosses a pizza box at a nearby house in the style of a paper boy throw)

REVIEW:

For some reason, this os one of those pictures that has slipped by me…that is until now. I did, however, think it came out before 1996. Don’t ask me why, I just did.

This film is pretty simple in its premise. An overworked construction worker is having family troubles. He does a job ar some genetics lab and the guy in charge introduces him to cloning. Clone is made, hilarity ensues. Touching moments here and there. Climax. End. Nothing fancy.

The good…Alot of people have forgotten than Michael Keaton is really a funny guy who can act, and this is/should have been just the vehicle to remind audiences about that. He manages to make each clones totally different from both himself and the others. I know that’s how it is written, but it takes real talent to be able to pull that off. I would have liked to have seen more of the clones, if not more clones, but there was only so much room in that little room above the garage, I suppose.

The bad…while Andie McDowell is quite the capable actress, she came off as whiny and overemotional. It seems like after every conversation she had with Doug, or a clone, she would break down into tears (the exception being the sex scenes and the ending). I also didn’t really care for the construction company scenes. I know they set up a framework, for lack of a better term, for the film, but with the exception of 3 getting fired and the introiduction of 2, they served no real purpose. Neither did the obvious rival to Doug who was in on just about every scene. Maybe I missed something, but that just seemed out of place or underdeveloped.

All in all, this is really a good comedy. Sure, it has its faults, but can you actually name a film that doesn’t? Michael Keaton’s star has only shone brighter when he was Batman, and that’s saying alot. You should definitely check this out, especially if you’re having a bad day. I guarantee it’ll cheer you up!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars