Archive for Michael Madsen

The Hateful Eight

Posted in Action/Adventure, Drama, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In Quentin Tarantino’s stylish Western set in post-Civil War Wyoming, eight travelers stranded at a stagecoach way station — including bounty hunters, outlaws and former soldiers — become enmeshed in a duplicitous plot as a savage blizzard rages outside.

What people are saying:

The Hateful Eight is a parlour-room epic, an entire nation in a single room, a film steeped in its own filminess but at the same time vital, riveting and real. Only Tarantino can do this, and he’s done it again” 4 stars

“The closing scene, amidst harrowing brutality, is poetically powerful and is without a shadow of a doubt, Tarantino’s crowning achievement as an auteur” 5 stars

“While this movie is definitely worth watching, even at nearly three hours in length, I found it too mannered and self-indulgent to give it any more than three stars. I realize that Tarantino likes to pay homage to his favorite old movies, but sometimes he overdoes it. For example, the lighting in the interior scenes is extremely unrealistic, and I’m sure that was done on purpose because it makes it resemble those old movies. But let’s all remember that they lit scenes that way not because they wanted to but because the technology at the time did not allow them to do it in the more realistic way that we are now able to do. Oh, and then there’s the unnecessary narration that jumps in well after the movie has begun. A silly affectation, at best. But if you do watch it, you will certainly enjoy the many fine performances. I especially got a kick out of Jennifer Jason Leigh.” 3 stars

“Pure Trash! Filthy, nasty language-none of it necessary. I don’t believe people talked liked this during this time period. Overuse of the “n” word. Loads of blood and gore which was totally unnecessary as well. It is like the producer is trying to cover up how awful the story is by splashing blood, guts, and gore around. Very slow moving and it looks like the actors/actress cannot deliver timely lines. You are led to believe it is a movie about the Civil War but it turns out to be about a gang out west. Writer definitely wants to deliver a huge negative bias on Southerners by building a belief that these are post-Confederate soldiers gone wild, but in the middle of the film you learn they are an unlawful gang in the West. He leads the viewer to believe the woman had ties to the Confederacy but it turns out she is the sister to the lead gang member who has come to save her from hanging. I was thoroughly insulted and would not recommend this movie to anyone. ” 1 star

“Crossing a Whodunit with a Western, ‘The Hateful Eight’ is full of completely over-the-top violence and profane language, so much so that it is almost laughable – it’s undoubtedly a Tarantino film. With a running time approaching 3 hrs, there are more than a few lulls and an absurd amount of (unnecessary) dialogue, but with its beautiful cinematography and rising tension, there’s always something going on and it’s never truly boring. The biggest problem here is that it’s in need of some serious editing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining providing you’re not put off by Tarantino’s ridiculous style.” 3 1/2 stars

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Thelma & Louise

Posted in Chick Flicks, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two friends, Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis) and Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) set out for a two-day vacation to take a break from their dreary lives. Thelma is married to a controlling man, Darryl (Christopher McDonald), while Louise works as a waitress in a diner. They head out in Louise’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible, but their vacation in the mountains quickly turns into a nightmare before they reach their destination.

They stop for a drink at a roadhouse, where Thelma meets and dances with Harlan Puckett (Timothy Carhart). After she gets drunk, Harlan attempts to rape her in the parking lot. Louise finds them and threatens to shoot Harlan with a gun that Thelma brought with her. Harlan stops, but as the women walk away, he yells profanity and insults them. Louise loses her temper and fires, killing him. Thelma wants to go to the police, but Louise says that because Thelma was drunk and had been dancing with Harlan, no one will believe her claim of attempted rape. Afraid that she will be prosecuted, Louise decides to go on the run and Thelma accompanies her.

Louise is determined to travel from Oklahoma to Mexico, but refuses to go through Texas. It is revealed that something happened to her in Texas years earlier, but she refuses to say exactly what. Heading west, they come across an attractive young man named J.D. (Brad Pitt), and Thelma convinces Louise to let him hitch a ride with them. Louise contacts her boyfriend Jimmy Lennox (Michael Madsen) and asks him to wire transfer her life savings to her. When she goes to pick up the money, she finds that Jimmy has come to see her. Thelma invites J.D. into her room and learns he is a thief who has broken parole. They sleep together, and J.D. describes how he conducted his hold-ups. At the same time, Jimmy asks Louise to marry him, but she declines.

In the morning, Thelma tells Louise about her night with J.D. When they return to the motel room, they discover J.D. has taken Louise’s life savings and fled. Louise is distraught and frozen with indecision, so a guilty Thelma takes charge and robs a convenience store using the tactics she learned from listening to J.D. Meanwhile, the FBI are getting closer to catching the fugitives, after questioning J.D. and Jimmy, and tapping the phone line at Darryl’s house. Detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel) discovers the traumatic event that Louise experienced years earlier in Texas. During a couple of brief phone conversations with her, he expresses sympathy for her predicament and pledges to protect her, but he is unsuccessful in his attempts to persuade her to surrender.

When they are pulled over by a state trooper (Jason Beghe), Thelma holds him at gunpoint and locks him in the trunk of his car, while Louise takes his gun and ammunition. They then encounter a truck driver (Marco St. John) who repeatedly makes obscene gestures at them. They pull over to demand an apology, but when he refuses, they fire at the fuel-tanker he is driving, causing it to explode. Leaving the man furious, they drive off.

Thelma and Louise are finally cornered by the authorities only 100 yards from the edge of the Grand Canyon. Hal arrives on the scene, but he is refused the chance to make one last attempt to talk the women into surrendering themselves. Rather than be captured and spend the rest of their lives in jail, Thelma proposes that they “keep going” (over the cliff). Louise asks Thelma if she is certain. Thelma says yes, they kiss, and Louise steps on the accelerator. As soon as the car starts forward, Hal sprints after it in an attempt to save them, but the car zooms over the cliff.

REVIEW:

The other day I was having a discussion about the direction films seem to be taking these days One of the topics that was brought up involved more and more use of strong female protagonists and less and less of the “damsel in distress”. Say what you will about me, but I prefer the “damsel in distress”. Thelma & Louise is unique in that it utilizes both female tropes.

What is this about?

An Arkansas waitress and her naïve housewife friend hit the road for a simple weekend of freedom — and end up on a wild flight from the law.

What did I like?

Fire and Ice. Thelma is the free spirit who has been held down too long by her over controlling husband. Louise is the no-nonsense waitress who it can be assumed has had some rough experiences in her past. The contrast between these two ladies is one of the major contributing factors to why this film is so popular. The chemistry between these two women, though, is remarkable. I don’t want to sound like it is as if they would have no chemistry, but rather the pairing of Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis was a nice bet that paid off.

Introducing… Brad Pitt has been called one of the finest actors of our generation. I can’t really argue that, to be truthful. He has shown that he does have some acting chops to go with that pretty boy look of his. I’m always fascinated to see the early works of actors, singers, etc., especially their debuts. For instance, I still crack up laughing when I see the WWF debut of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, then known as Rocky Maivia (look it up on Youtube and see if you don’t laugh, as well). This isn’t the first thing Pitt had done, but it is his feature film debut.

Exit. In the film’s climactic final scene, the girls are faced with the choice of turning themselves in or getting shot up like Bonnie & Clyde (more on that shortly). If you know anything about this flick, then you are more than aware that they hightail it for the Grand Canyon, rather than head to jail. It is an exit befitting the greatest of fugitives. Bonnie & Clyde were shot up holding hands. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, contrary to the movie’s portrayal, went out with each other…one even assisting the other in death. Thelma & Louise go out together as well (though there are theories as to whether or not they actually die).

What didn’t I like?

Shoot ’em up. In yet another case of the cops and FBI going overboard, they send out what is just short of a military strike force to capture these two women, who haven’t really done anything other than rob one convenience store and kill one asshole rapist. With the force they sent after them, you’d think they’d have kidnapped the First Lady! On top of that, when they get to the climactic scene, these cops and other personnel are aimed and ready to shoot. Again, these women have committed a couple of crimes, but they aren’t nearly dangerous enough to have adopted a “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude. WTF?!?

Rape. Rape is a tough subject to tackle, but there is a scene where Geena Davis’ character is about to get raped by this guy at the bar. I won’t lie, I’ve had all kinds of impure thought of Geena Davis, but I would never act on them….unless she wanted me to HA! Seriously, though, this rape scene was a bit uncomfortable to watch, and it wasn’t even as bad as some others that I’ve seen in film and TV. Plus, it was a major plot device, so there was no way to omit it, really. Personally, though, I could have done without this scene.

Smooth it out. Anyone that has been on the back roads in this country knows that they are far from smooth sailing, let alone as straight as this film makes them, unless that is how they are over there in New Mexico, which I doubt. Perhaps this is just me being a little too over critical, but there should have been more bumps in the road as they were traveling. At the same time, there are very many 1966 Thunderbirds with Arkansas license plates driving about, either. How is it no police officer didn’t notice them?!?

Thelma & Louise is a film that I’ve been putting off watching for years and years now. With a couple of hours carved out of my schedule this week, I managed to have the time to check it out and I must say that it was worth the wait. The few complaints I have with this film are very minor. Here we are in 2014 and I think this film is still relevant, if not moreso. Do I recommend it? Yes, very much so! This entertaining film will definitely go down as one of the finest pieces of cinema you’ll watch in your lifetime, or at least this year!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Species

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Earth’s scientists send out transmissions with information about Earth and its inhabitants, DNA structure, etc., in hopes of finding life beyond Earth. They then receive transmissions from an alien source on how to create endless fuel effortlessly. Therefore, the scientists assume that this is a friendly alien species. But from a second alien transmission, the scientists receive information about an alien DNA along with instructions on how to splice it with human DNA. A government team led by Xavier Fitch (Ben Kingsley) goes forward with the genetic experiment hoping to induce a female with “more docile and controllable” traits. The alien is the result of the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) program. One of the hundred experimental ova produces a girl named Sil, who looks like a normal human but develops into a 12-year old in 3 months.

Sil’s violent outbursts during sleep make the scientists consider her a threat. They try to kill her using cyanide gas but instead she breaks out of her containment cell and escapes. The government assembles a team composed of anthropologist Dr. Stephen Arden (Alfred Molina), molecular biologist Dr. Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger), empath Dan Smithson (Forest Whitaker) and mercenary Preston “Press” Lennox (Michael Madsen) to track and destroy Sil. Sil matures rapidly into an adult (Natasha Henstridge) in her early twenties and makes her way to Los Angeles. This makes tracking her extremely difficult. She is incredibly strong and intelligent with amazing regenerative powers. The scientists fear she may mate with human males and produce offspring that could eliminate the human race. Sil lacks inhibitions when it comes to killing people who get in her way and wants to produce offspring as soon as possible. She frequently morphs into her alien form, a bipedal creature with tentacles on her shoulders and back.

Sil tries first to mate with a man she meets at a night club, but after sensing that he is diabetic, rejects and kills him by puncturing his skull with her tongue. She then tries to mate with a man she meets after a car accident. They swim in the man’s pool where Sil forces the man to open his swimming trunks in order to mate, but the man refuses. This is interrupted by Press and Laura. She kills the man and flees naked into a forest without being seen by the team. She pretends to be a rape victim, and then proceeds to kidnap a woman. She fakes her death by crashing the woman’s car into a tree during a high-speed chase.

After cutting and dyeing her hair, she takes an attraction to Press and attempts to seduce him. She eventually copulates with Arden; then kills him when he realizes who she is and what he has done. The rest of the team then follow her into the sewers where Fitch is subsequently killed and the area where she and her offspring are destroyed. Press uses a grenade launcher on Sil, blowing her head off. The trio leaves the area. The last scene shows a rat chewing on one of Sil’s severed tentacles; it starts to mutate into a vicious beast and attacks another rat.

REVIEW:

With the release of Prometheus upon us in a few days, I figured this would be the perfect time to check out some alien species films, more specifically Species. I remember seeing bits and pieces of this on TV in college, but I don’t believe I ever watched the whole thing until now. Was the whole picture worth watching or is this one of those films better scene in bits and pieces?

What did I like?

Sci-Fi/Horror. Yes, this is a film that walks the fine line between sci-fi and horror and it does a decent job of giving the audience their fair share of both genres.

New hotness. When this film was released, Natasha Henstridge was a nobody, but after its release she went on to become a fairly big star. Sure, she doesn’t really flex her acting chops, but she wasn’t cast for that. All she has to do is look sexy, and that she does.

What didn’t I like?

Wasted cast. There are great names in this cast, and yet they seem to be all but calling it in. How sad is it that newcomer Natasha Henstridge puts in a better performance than award-winning Sir Ben Kingsley? Doesn’t something seem off about that?

Effects. For the most part they are decent, but the aliens were nothing more than a rip off of the Alien aliens. Granted, they were both created by the same person, but that still is no excuse.

Checkmate. The species just wants to mate. That is the whole premise of the film. Doesn’t that sound like a porn plot? I don’t have a problem with it being in there, but I felt like there could have been something more they could have done.

Please don’t get me wrong, this isn’t that bad of a film, but it has so many thing wrong with it that I found it hard really get invested in it. Sure there are those out there that are sure to enjoy it, but I can’t really recommend it. You’d be better served watching the Alien films.

3 out of 5 stars

Reservoir Dogs

Posted in Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens to eight men eating breakfast at a diner. Six of them wear matching suits and are using aliases: Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Blue (Eddie Bunker), Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel). Among them is middle-aged Los Angeles gangster Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), and his son, “Nice Guy” Eddie Cabot (Chris Penn). Mr. Brown discusses his comparative analysis on Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”, Joe’s senior moments involving his address book rankle Mr. White, and Mr. Pink defends his anti-tipping policy until Joe forces him to leave a tip for the waitresses.

After the opening credits, the action cuts to the interior of a speeding car. Mr. White, driving with one hand, is trying to comfort a hysterical Mr. Orange, who has been shot in the abdomen and is bleeding profusely. They arrive at an abandoned warehouse, later revealed to be the rendezvous point for the armed robbery they have just committed. Mr. White leaves Mr. Orange on the warehouse floor when Mr. Pink appears, angrily suggesting that their robbery of a jeweler, orchestrated by Joe Cabot, was a police-setup. Mr. White reveals that Mr. Brown has been shot and killed by the police, and the whereabouts of Mr. Blonde and Mr. Blue are unknown to both. A flashback is played, revealing more of Mr. White’s long-time friendship with Joe Cabot.

The two men discuss the actions of the sociopathic Mr. Blonde, who murdered several civilians after the jeweler’s alarm had triggered; the police arrived at the scene remarkably soon after the alarm was activated. Mr. White is angered about Cabot’s decision to employ such a psychopath and agrees about the possibility of a setup, while Mr. Pink confesses to having hidden the jeweler’s diamond cache in a secure location. However, they violently argue about whether or not to take the unconscious Mr. Orange to a hospital when Mr. White reveals that he had told the former his true first name. Mr. Blonde, who has been watching them from the shadows, steps forward and ends their Mexican standoff, telling them not to leave the rendezvous as Nice Guy Eddie is on his way. Mr. Blonde takes them outside to his car and opens the trunk to reveal he captured a police officer named Marvin Nash (Kirk Baltz). A second flashback reveals that Mr. Blonde became involved in Cabot’s heist team because of his friendship and loyalty to Eddie.

The three men torture the officer until a furious Eddie arrives at the warehouse. After berating the men over the carnage and incompetence displayed at the heist, he orders Mr. Pink and Mr. White to assist him retrieve the stolen diamonds and dispose of the hijacked vehicles, while ordering Mr. Blonde to stay with Nash and the dying Mr. Orange. Nash states that he has been a police officer for eight months and is ignorant as to a possible setup. He then pleads with Mr. Blonde to release him without further incident. However, after the others leave, Mr. Blonde confesses to enjoying torture, at which he turns on the radio and dances to “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel before severing Nash’s ear with a straight razor. He then retrieves a large gasoline can from the trunk of his car and is about to set Nash alight when Mr. Orange, having regained consciousness, produces a handgun and repeatedly shoots Mr. Blonde. Mr. Orange tells Nash that he is actually an undercover police detective named Freddy Newandyke, and reassures him that a massive police force is in position several blocks downtown waiting for Joe Cabot to arrive.

A series of flashback scenes detail Mr. Orange’s involvement in an undercover operation to capture Cabot, culminating in a sequence depicting the death of Mr. Brown as he attempts to drive Mr. White and Mr. Orange away from the jewelry store, and Mr. Orange’s shooting a woman who shot him in the stomach as he and Mr. White attempted to steal her car.

The remainder of the heist group returns to the warehouse to find Mr. Blonde dead. Mr. Orange claims that Mr. Blonde was going to kill Nash, Mr. Orange and the rest of the gang so that he could take the diamonds for himself. Eddie doesn’t believe the story and, furious with Mr. Orange, fatally shoots Nash three times. Joe Cabot himself arrives and, after informing the group that Mr. Blue was killed, confidently accuses Mr. Orange of being an informant, forcing Mr. White to defend his friend. A shootout ensues, leaving Joe and Eddie dead, Mr. White severely wounded, and Mr. Orange mortally wounded. Mr. Pink, who avoided the shootout, takes the cache of diamonds and flees the warehouse. As police sirens and gunshots are heard outside, Mr. White cradles Mr. Orange in his arms and Mr. Orange reveals that he is in fact a detective. Mr. White kills Mr. Orange as the police raid the warehouse, resulting in the police killing Mr. White.

REVIEW:

Quentin Tarantino’s gritty directorial debut took the world by storm and as much as it is revered, it is also mimicked. You know what they say about imitation, it is the highest form of flattery.

I’m not exactly sure why this is called Reservoir Dogs. As far as I can tell, there was nothing about a reservoir or water even mentioned. Maybe I missed something.

Each of the “dogs” is given the name of a color to go by. Mr. Pink, Steve Buscemi, is none to happy about being pink, and in a way that he is known for, whines and makes a big to do about it.

Harvey Keitel, Mr. White, is the team’s compassionate, level headed veteran, who is none to happy about the way the events of the bank heist unfolded. Not to mention he feels responsible for Mr. Orange, Tim Roth, being shot as they were trying to get away.

Mr. Blonde, Michael Madsen, is, in my opinion, the best character, is apparently responsible for the diamond heist falling apart, due to his shooting up the place like a psychopathic, trigger-happy, maniac. Not exactly sure why he’s called Mr. Blonde, though, since he has dark hair. His torture scene with the cop is one of the best in film, though. What makes him such a great character is that he is a soft spoken, calm guy. Those are always the worst kind, aren’t they?

The thing about Tarantino’s films is that are visually stunning, graphically violent, very well-made, have some sort of homage to days gone by, and these are all good things, but the drawback they seem to have is that they seem to talk themselves to death. I mean, I was expecting lots of shooting and whatnot in this film, but instead it was like watching some sort of play on stage….nothing but talking. Aside from the excessive chatter, this wasn’t a bad film. I think it could have used a bit more action, but that goes back to the talking thing. Watch and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Green Lantern: First Flight

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2009 by Mystery Man

 

PLOT:

Before any other sentient beings existed in the universe, a race of beings calling themselves the Guardians of the Universe harnessed the power of the “green element” (Ion), the greatest power in the universe, to create the Green Lantern battery. However, the battery has a flaw: the color yellow, the one part of the light spectrum that can resist green. The most concentrated source of yellow energy, the “yellow element” (Parallax), was hidden by the Guardians to prevent others from using it against them.

Test pilot Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) is recruited to join the Green Lantern Corps after the death of Abin Sur. He is placed under the supervision of respected senior officer Sinestro (Victor Garber), who is investigating Abin’s murder. Abin was killed while doing an undercover investigation of Kanjar Ro (Kurtwood Smith), who managed to locate and steal the yellow element. What no one realizes is that Sinestro provided Kanjar with the location of the element, in order to have it fashioned into a weapon of comparable power to the Green Lantern battery.

Jordan quickly comes to understand that Sinestro’s beliefs are not in line with those of the Guardians: Sinestro believes that the Guardians have reduced the Corps to the role of “trash collectors,” merely picking up the messes criminals create as opposed to proactively dealing with the problem. During a mission to capture Kanjar Ro, Jordan is knocked unconscious by Kanjar’s energy staff. Sinestro comes in and kills Kanjar, pinning the blame on Jordan. Jordan is stripped of his ring as punishment.

While Jordan waits to be taken home, Sinestro uses his ring to temporarily animate Kanjar’s corpse in order to access the data in Kanjar’s energy staff, allowing him to learn the location of Qward, where the yellow element weapon is being fashioned. Jordan convinces fellow Lanterns Boodikka (Tricia Helfer) and Kilowog (Michael Madsen) that Sinestro is not what he seems. They catch Sinestro red-handed, but Boodikka turns out to be in league with Sinestro and attacks Jordan and Kilowog. Sinestro escapes, and Boodikka is killed when Jordan tricks her into destroying Kanjar’s unstable energy staff.

On Qward, the Weaponers bestow Sinestro with the yellow ring and battery. Using its power, he lays waste to Oa, the yellow light easily overcoming the Green Lantern rings. The yellow battery (which in practice functions like a giant yellow ring) even destroys the green battery, killing countless Green Lanterns who were in space at the time. Jordan, having recovered his ring moments too late, pounds on the inert green element, breaking it and absorbing the whole of its power. Imbued with the full might of the green energy, he destroys the yellow battery by smashing two moons into it.

However, having exhausted most of his power to destroy the yellow battery, Jordan is left weakened against Sinestro, whose ring still holds a significant charge. After a pitched battle, Jordan uses the last of his power to knock Sinestro to the surface of Oa, where Kilowog crushes the yellow ring. Kilowog, his ring having regained some of its power, then saves Jordan from free fall.

Once Oa is rebuilt and the Green Lantern battery restored, Jordan is asked by the Guardians to lead the Corps in reciting the Green Lantern oath. Jordan then leaves for Earth to check in with his other boss, Carol Ferris (Olivia D’Abo), remarking on the long “commute.”

REVIEW:

It was announced this summer that Ryan Reynolds would be playing Green Lantern in a long overdue live action film. I must say I can’t wait, it’s about time DC let some of their characters on the screen besides Superman and Batman (and Flash, if you count that short lives TV show in the late 80s).

A while back, I was extremely impressed with Wonder Woman. One of the special features on that DVD was a first-look at Green Lantern: First Flight. Since then, I’ve been counting down the days until I got to see this….I won’t go into the fact that Netflix was playing around with my emotions the past couple weeks and teasing that it was available. On this one, there is a first look at the next DC direct-to-DVD film, Batman and Superman: Public Enemies (don’t quote me on the title).  The next countdown can begin!

We’ve all seen superhero films that spend the majority of the time dwelling on the origin. Thank goodness this is not the case here. Yes, they do go into the origin, but its more of a footnote version of it. No complaints from me about that. The reason they give for choosing to not go into the origin is that it is covered in-depth in Justice League: The New Frontier.

This is what I wish superhero movies on the big screen would be. It is faithful to the source material, not too dark, filled with action, and is just a joy to watch, just like reading the comic.

The voice cast here in top notch. Christopher Meloni, of Law & Order fame, is the voice of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. Nothing to really brag about with him, but considering the character, he really works.

Victor Garber’s voice as Sinestro gave me chills. not because he’s scary or anything, but rather the fact that he is the perfect fit. The timbre of his voice is the perfect mix of maniacal villainy and sophisticated contempt.

Michael Madsen and Tricia Helfer work in their roles, as well. both are said to be stars of the film, but thir roles aren’t that big, yet they are enough to make mention of, especially Madsen, whose gruff voice seems perfect for Killowog.

The action and animation in the film are the main draw. The big climax at the end isn’t a surprise for any Green Lantern fan, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. The animation impressed me because it appears that about 90% hand drawn. CGI has its place, and its not mixing animation styles, at least in my opinion.

Should you rush out and see this? Well, I’m not going to say that. If you not a fan of the character, or at least have a decent background in the Green Lantern lore, you will get a bit lost, but if you can get past that, then by all means rush out and enjoy. It is definitely worth the time!

5 out of 5 stars

Bloodrayne

Posted in Action/Adventure, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Loosly based on the video game of the same name, the film centers on the character of Rayne (Kristanna Loken), an unholy breed of human and vampire called a Dhampir. Dhampir are unaffected by crucifixes and do not thirst for human blood. She is the daughter of the Vampire King Kagan (Ben Kingsley) who has gathered an army of thralls, both vampire and human, in order to annihilate the human race. She was conceived when Kagan raped her mother, and she later witnessed him killing her.

Sebastian (Matthew Davis), Vladimir (Michael Madsen), and Katarin (Michelle Rodriguez) are three members of the Brimstone Society, who fight vampires. When they hear of the Dhampir, Vladimir plans to recruit her in order to kill Kagan. A great portion of the story concerns the three body-parts of an ancient vampire that can make a vampire free of the basic weaknesses: all water (the eye), the cross (the rib), and the sun (the heart). As Kagan wants all these parts, it becomes the heroes’ mission to stop him.

REVIEW:

Having never played the actual video game on which this film is based, I cannot say how true this is to its source material, but I can say that as a film it could have been better, but could have also been worse.

Kristianna Loken give a performance so mechanical, you would think she was still in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. It also appears that they wanted to capitalize on her sexuality, for me, though, it didn’t work so well.

Michael Madsen and Matthew Davis are perhaps the most competent actors in this film in their roles. They seemed to really get into them, especially Madsen. He even went so far as to change his speech pattern to fit the time period.

Michelle Rodriguez seemed a bit unnecessary in this film, until a key scene near the end. I wonder how she would have done in the lead role instead of Loken.

As accomplished an actor as Sir Ben Kingsley is, he looks bored and out of place as the vampire king Keegan. I do understand why they would choose him for the role, but I’m sure there were others who would have enjoyed it more.

With such a remarkable cast, which even eincluded Meatloaf, one would think that think that the last thing to be criticized would be the acting, but to be honest with you, that is what made this film so terrible.

The action scenes are your typical video game fare. The director tried to capture some of the scenes from the game, I would imagine.

There are even some soft, tender moments that make you feel connected to Rayne, then she starts acting again, and you lose the connection.

The blood that was used for this film, didn’t look real or fake, but rather like ketchup. Now, I’m of the belief that if you’re going to use blood on screen, make it look like the real stuff or some sort of fake liquid, but when you fall into that in-between status, it just doesn’t sit right with me.

What is my verdict on this film? Well, to be honest with you, there are moments that I enjoyed, and others that just didn’t work for me. I think this is an ok flick, but I believe its best reserved for viewing on Sci Fi Channel or something along those lines.

3 out of 5 stars

Kill Bill vol. 2

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Volume 2 opens with “The Massacre at Two Pines”, taking place a few minutes before the events that open the first volume. Bill tracks down The Bride and her friends as they are gathered for her wedding rehearsal. He is polite and mild-mannered, and even consents to The Bride introducing him as her father to the groom. The Bride begs Bill in private to be able to move on past her assassin life, and again Bill seemingly consents. She takes her place at the altar as the other four Deadly Vipers arrive at the chapel, weapons in tow, and kill everyone at the rehearsal.

In the present, Bill ventures to the California desert to talk to his brother Budd, code-named “Sidewinder” (Michael Madsen), another former Deadly Viper. Bill warns him that The Bride will come for him next. Budd, now an overweight alcoholic, has put his assassin days behind him; he lives in a trailer and works as a bouncer at a local strip club, abused by the management.

The Bride arrives at Budd’s trailer that night seeking revenge. Anticipating her entry, Budd shoots her in the chest with rock salt the moment she opens his door, then injects her with a sedative. Budd calls Elle Driver and offers to sell her The Bride’s Hanzō sword for $1,000,000. Budd then gives The Bride a “Texas funeral”, burying her alive with a flashlight in someone else’s grave.

As she lies in her grave, The Bride remembers her early training in China, when Bill took her to the temple of legendary martial arts master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), an example of the elderly martial arts master stock character, who used cruelty as a tool for discipline and obedience. Pai Mei could perform a fatal attack called the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, which is so secret that he has not even taught it to Bill. Although, according to Bill, he “hates Caucasians, despises Americans, and has nothing but contempt for women”, he takes The Bride in, and molds her into a formidable fighter. He brutally trains her and she eventually gains his silent respect. In the present, The Bride calls on Pai Mei’s training to break out of the coffin and claw her way up to freedom.

The Bride arrives back at Budd’s trailer to see Elle Driver arriving. Elle hands Budd a suitcase containing his money for the sword; the suitcase also contains a hidden black mamba, the deadly snake that shares The Bride’s code name. The snake bites Budd in the face, and while he lies paralyzed and dying, Elle explains she regretted The Bride’s demise at Budd’s hands, and that The Bride deserved a better end. After Budd succumbs to the venom, Elle calls Bill and tells him that The Bride killed Budd, that she then killed The Bride and the location of the final resting place of Beatrix Kiddo — revealing The Bride’s real name for the first time (several characters previously called her “Kiddo”, a common pet name in America; previous utterances of her first name, Beatrix, by Bill, Vernita, and O-Ren were bleeped out). As Elle leaves Budd’s trailer, Beatrix, who was watching them from a nearby ridge, attacks her with a flying kick. Elle uses Beatrix’s own sword against her, but Beatrix finds Budd’s Hattori Hanzō sword in his golf bag, which Budd had told Bill he had pawned. As they stand off against each for their final combat, Beatrix asks Elle why Pai Mei (who also taught Elle) snatched out her eye. Elle tells her that she called Pai Mei a “miserable old fool” and he plucked out her eye. In revenge, she poisoned and killed the elderly master. The two charge each other, clash, and Beatrix plucks out Elle’s remaining eye, crushes it underfoot and departs, leaving the blinded Elle to writhe in the trailer with the same black mamba that killed Budd. Elle’s fate is left unknown; in the credits, while all the other members of The Bride’s “Death List Five” are listed as dead, her status is marked merely as “?”.

Beatrix travels to Mexico and visits Esteban Vihaio (Michael Parks), an old pimp who raised Bill from childhood. He forthrightly tells her Bill’s whereabouts, explaining to a puzzled Beatrix that Bill would have wanted him to. When she finally finds Bill, she is shocked to find that B.B., her four-year-old daughter, is alive and apparently expecting her mother’s return. The family spends the evening together peacefully, and B.B. falls asleep watching the chambara film Shogun Assassin in her mother’s arms.

With B.B. safely in bed, Beatrix confronts Bill. Bill shoots her with a dart filled with truth serum; Beatrix is forced to reveal that, when she discovered her pregnancy and decided not to abort, she thereafter had to put her unborn daughter’s future above Bill.

The estranged couple sit down at a table outside, and when Beatrix insists that she complete her unfinished business, Bill draws his sword to attack her. Beatrix dodges his attack and draws her own sword, but Bill succeeds in disarming her. He thrusts to stab her with his sword, but she catches it in her Hanzo sheath and disables Bill with the “Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique”, taught to her without Bill’s or the audience’s knowledge. Bill, defeated, says a tender goodbye and takes five silent steps to his death. Beatrix sheds a few tears at the death of her former lover, and returns to the house to collect her daughter.

Later, B.B. is watching cartoons in a motel while Beatrix sobs on the bathroom floor. As she collects herself and returns to watch cartoons with B.B., both of them smile as the film ends. The exit quote on the screen is: “The lioness has rejoined her cub. All is right in the jungle”.

REVIEW:

Sequels tend to be a 50/50 shot. Some tend to be inferior to their predecessor, and others will surpass them. Similar to the second and third films in The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises both Kill Bill films were shot at the same time. From what I’ve observed when this practice is done, the films tend to be of better quality, although, this isn’t as exciting as vol 1, but that has to do with the story being a bit more talk centered and no so much about assassinations.

In this film we learn that the Bride’s name is Beatrix. The first time I saw this, I went back to the DVD of the first film and notices that the while her name is bleeped out, you can read that they are saying Beatrix. Something I never noticed.

David Carradine was apparently a fairly prominent martial arts actor during the 70s. This role seems like it was written with him in mind, which it probably was.

Pai Mei was a nice addition to the story. Not only did he tie up some loose ends in terms of Beatrix’s training, but provided some comic relief as well, especially with the beard.

We finally get a fight between Uma Thurman and Daryll Hannah in this one and boy is it worth the wait!

The ending scene with Bill and Beatrix drags on a bit for my taste. They could have cut out a lot of the talking. It just got a bit monotonous. I’m not saying it doesn’t add anything to the story, but I just feel that they could have done it in another way than to have them sitting down talking things out with a couple of gunshots fired and then the final sword fight and resulting Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. It makes you wonder why she just didn’t do that as soon as B.B. went to bed?

If you have the choice of vol 1 or 2, I say go with 1. There is more action and it is more enjoyable. That is not to say that vol 2 isn’t a good film, its just more dramatic in parts, not to mention if you don’t see the first film, you may be lost in this one. Having said all that, I do like this film a lot, but it is a step down from its predecessor. In other words it suffers from the sequel disease, but not a major case. Go ahead and watch both films, you’ll enjoy yourself .

4 out of 5 stars