Archive for Morgan Freeman

London Has Fallen

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert):

Western intelligence services of the G8 track down Pakistani arms dealer Aamir Barkawi (Alon Moni Aboutboul) as the mastermind behind several terrorist attacks, and authorize an American drone strike on Barkawi’s compound, apparently killing Barkawi and his family.

Two years later, UK Prime Minister James Wilson suddenly dies, and arrangements are made for the Western world leaders to attend his funeral in London. Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) assigns agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), a close friend of US President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart), to lead Asher’s security detail while overseas, even though Banning’s wife Leah (Radha Mitchell) is due to give birth to their child in a few weeks. The entourage arrives via Air Force One at Stansted Airport, and Banning pushes their arrival at the Somerset House in London via Marine One earlier. As Asher’s Presidential State Car arrives at St Paul’s Cathedral, a series of coordinated attacks by terrorists disguised as London Metropolitan Police, the Queen’s Guardsmen, and other first responders erupts, killing the other Western leaders, damaging or destroying major landmarks and generating mass panic. Asher’s early arrival has thrown the attack on him at St. Paul’s off-guard, and Banning is able to rescue Asher and Jacobs and rushes them back to Marine One. As the helicopter and its escorts takes off, terrorists fire Stinger missiles at them, destroying the escorts and forcing the damaged helicopter to crash-land in Hyde Park. Banning and Asher suffer only minor wounds, but Jacobs is fatally injured, and she makes Banning promise to get back at whomever did this. Banning quickly escorts Asher into the London Underground as the city’s power is lost and people take shelter in their homes.

In Washington D.C., US Vice President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) works with the British authorities to investigate the incident while trying to track down the President. Trumbull receives a call from Barkawi, still alive after all and operating out of Yemen. The man takes responsibility for the attacks, coordinated by his son Kamran (Waleed Zuaiter). Barkawi purposely had Wilson poisoned to lure the Western leaders to London to attack them. Barkawi knows Asher is still alive, and promises that if Kamran captures him, he will broadcast the execution of the President on the Internet. Trumbull orders his intelligence staff to local Barkawi’s known operatives to find any connection to the attack, while British authorities have all first responders stand down, so than any left in the open can be identified as terrorists.

After leaving a sign to be picked up by satellite tracking, Banning leads Asher to a MI6 safehouse, where Jacqueline “Jax” Marshall (Charlotte Riley) briefs them on what their intelligence has learned. Marshall receives a coded message from Trumbull that confirms they saw Banning’s sign and that an extraction team is en route. Security monitors show the approach of a Delta Force team, but Banning suspects they have arrived far too soon and may be more terrorists. He covers and fights off the terrorists as Marshall drives Asher away but their car is struck by another vehicle driven by terrorists, allowing Kamran to capture Asher. Banning and Marshall are rescued by the extraction team, a combined Delta Force/SAS squad.

Trumbull’s staff have identified a building in London owned by one of Barkawi’s companies, which still appears to be drawing power, and suspect that is Kamran’s headquarters. Banning joins the extraction team to infiltrate the building and stop Kamran before he can kill Asher. Banning and Asher escape just before the building is destroyed by the Delta Force/SAS squad, killing Kamran and the remaining terrorists. Marshall has worked with British authorities to restore London’s security system, and discovering that MI5 Intelligence Chief John Lancaster (Patrick Kennedy) aided in Barkawi’s attack, she kills him. Meanwhile, Trumbull contacts Barkawi to tell them his planned failed, and then to look outside, moments before his building is attacked by another drone strike, killing him.

Two weeks after the attack on London, Banning is home spending time with Leah and their newborn child, named Lynne after his deceased boss. He sits in front of his laptop and contemplates sending his letter of resignation. On TV, Trumbull speaks regarding the recent events, leaving an inspiring message that the US will prevail. This convinces Banning to delete the letter.

REVIEW:

We live in a world where everytime there is a whisper of a terror plot, security goes on high alert and our elected officials are whisked away to a safe bunker. Not really sure what makes them so much more special than us common folks, but whatever. London Has Fallen takes the situation is something were to happen, though I don’t think anyone would care if something happen to our current president, and runs with it.

What is this about?

After the British Prime Minister has passed away under mysterious circumstances, all leaders of the Western world must attend his funeral. But what starts out as the most protected event on earth, turns into a deadly plot to kill the world’s most powerful leaders and unleash a terrifying vision of the future. The President of the United States, his formidable secret service head and a British MI-6 agent who trusts no one are the only people who have any hope of stopping it.

What did I like?

Raise the stakes. In Olympus Has Fallen, the stakes were limited to keeping the president alive while the White House was under siege. As quickly as this film was released after that one, I was thinking this would be nothing more than the same film, just moved to London. Instead, it turns out that there is an intricate plot to take out all the world leaders and murder the president live over the internet. Much higher stakes than its predecessor!

Not just propaganda. On the surface, this film could come off as US propaganda, but as you watch the film, it becomes clear that they are not just glamorizing the military and making the US seem like the perfect country. As a matter of fact, there is a conversation that Gerard Butler has with one of the hitmen where he says something along the lines of “we may not be as united as we should be, but you can’t f— with us!”

Proper ethnicity. Hollywood has long had a problem with casting people in the correct ethnicity. They either whitewash them, as in Cleopatra, or randomly change the race of a character for no reason, see Fantastic Four (2015). In the era we currently live in, the go-to villainous race, for lack of a better term, happen to be those from the middle-east. The casting directors appeared to actually get actors from that part of the world. Kudos for authenticity!

What didn’t I like?

Cut and paste. As I said earlier, there seemed to be a rush to get this film into production. As such, the script was rushed, causing some creative things to fall by the wayside. While I praise the higher stakes we get with this flick, I couldn’t help but notice that once again Aaron Eckhart’s president character was the proverbial damsel in distress, Radha Mitchell was basically just a cameo, and Gerard Butler was basically playing a live-action first-person shooter. Surely, we deserve to see something better!

R/F switch. Make no mistake, this is a much more violent film than the first. With that said, I can’t help but wonder if all the F-bombs that were dropped were done just to get an R-rating. Not that there is anything wrong with all the cursing, especially in this situation, it was just noticeable for some reason.

You’re my friend, sir. If I recall, Butler and Eckart’s characters are supposed to be friends. So, why is he calling him sir so much? I get there is a protocol when it comes to working with the president, but it just feels as if there should have been some more casual exchanges between the two old friends.

Final verdict on London Has Fallen? This is a good action film. The director obviously knew hat he was doing there. However, the rest of the picture falls short of expectations as the first film was surprise hit with critics. That said, there’s a decent enough plot here to keep you interested between exploding vehicles and military-esque shootouts. Do I recommend this? I really don’t see a reason to watch. If you’re a Gerard Butler fan, you can see him in an actual video game in his film Gamer. As for everyone else, it would be better to keep the memory of the first film and forget this one exists.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Ted 2

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Still as uncouth and immorally inclined as ever, Ted the foul-mouthed stuffed bear launches into a rollicking sequel that involves a chaotic road trip with his best buddy, John, who has romantic issues that Ted is determined to make worse.

What people are saying:

“Stupid, clownish, childish, garbage. The downfall of our society and the films they make to fit the norm. If anyone else wrote this POS they would have been chased out of the movie studio.” 1 star

“Ted 2 is not as good as the first one, and that’s saying a lot since the first movie wasn’t a good comedy movie to start with. It still does have some scenes with comedy while the rest of the movie can bore you, just like the first movie but the story feels much more badly written.” 1 star

“It lost that tone that the first Ted managed to have, but I was still laughing my ass off during certain moments that I knew I would be laughing at.” 3 1/2 stars

“I really liked it and was surprised that i did! Sequels usually suck for lack of a better word but it’s TED so, %$#%^ IT! This one made me LOL several times, LOVED the Liam Neeson cameo so much, enjoyed the story , I felt this script was slighty better than the first movie and it IS very funny unless of course you have a stick up yer…” 3 stars

“A very funny remake of a very funny premise. It is basically an excuse for Seth McFarland to riff on just how dumbed-down our popular culture has become, and he does not disappoint. Starts with a bang, drags a bit in the middle, but gets it funny mojo back in the final scenes, Highly recommended if you loved Animal House, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, and other such slapstick, politically incorrect and patently offensive but hilarious comedies.Definitely not recommended for the prudish, for the easily offended, or for those who do not fathom the degree of vapidness and emptiness of today’s celebrity and “reality show” culture.  ” 4 stars

Lucy

Posted in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , on January 10, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this action-thriller set in Taiwan, a young woman forced to become a drug mule for the mob develops superhuman abilities when the narcotics she’s carrying in her stomach accidentally leak into her system.

What people are saying:

“A sci-fi movie that explores the potential of the other 90% of the human brain. It does get a little overwhelming towards the end but that’s the whole point isn’t it?” 4 stars

“Lucy is a combination of science fiction – i.e. what happens if we can use all our brain’s capacity, and hot chick action hero. While I may not remember the details of the movie in a few years time, it was fun to watch for 90 minutes” 3 stars

“Lucy attempts to captivate it’s audience with a pseudo-intellectual premise, fun action, and playful-to-thoughtprovoking imagery. Unfortunately it comes up short on all fronts. The premise isn’t bad, but the whole movie focuses on it and analyzes it heavily. It would be like X-men spending an hour making mutant powers seem plausible instead of moving onto a more clever story after establishing it’s premise. The action isn’t filmed poorly, but it’s completely devoid of suspense. Also, some creative “wild” imagery starts out by adding some flare to the presentation, but that fades away and we get tedious special effects later that are not nearly as thought provoking as they want to be” 2 stars

“Mary-Sue, anyone? She’s pretty but LOOK OUT!…… she’s deadly as well! Scarlett does a decent job at the start of the movie, portraying a drug runner caught up in events beyond her control. Then, the movie turns into a feminist fantasy about being super smart and strong (without the dong). There’s no nudity, so don’t bother fast-forwarding. The CGI at the end of the movie is so common by now, I’m starting to think it’s the default animation setting when you buy the software.” 2 stars

“Nothing about this movie made any sense: – That is not how the brain works. – That is not how embryonic development works. – That is not how learning works. – The flow and plot was incoherent. – Lucy completely lacked character and became a toneless, emotionless, cold-hearted killer once she became amped up. I was almost completely unable to empathize with her. – That is not how the brain works!! Two starts because the CGI and the action were fun to look at.” 2 stars

Bruce Almighty

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on March 28, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) is a television field reporter for Eyewitness News at WKBW-TV in Buffalo, New York, but desires to be the news anchorman. He is in a healthy relationship with his girlfriend Grace Connelly (Jennifer Aniston), but also has a mild crush on his co-worker, Susan Ortega (Catherine Bell), who barely seems to notice him. Bruce however continues to suffer unfortunate events and it reaches his breaking point when he is passed over for promotion by his rival, Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), who then steals dialogue from Bruce’s segment in accepting the promotion on-air. Bruce becomes furious and aggressively criticizes the station during his first live report (culminating with calling them “fuckers”), leading to his dismissal from the station. Following a series of other misfortunes, Bruce complains that God (Morgan Freeman) is “the one that should be fired.”

Bruce later receives a message on his pager, directing him to an empty warehouse where he meets God. God offers to give Bruce His powers to prove that He is doing the job correctly. God tells Bruce that he cannot tell others he has God’s powers, nor can he use the powers to alter free will. Bruce ignores God and is initially jubilant with the powers, using them for personal gain, such as training his dog to use the toilet, chasing away thugs by spewing out a swarm of hornets, and sexually impressing Grace. Bruce also finds ways of using the powers to cause miraculous events to occur at otherwise mundane events that he covers, such as discovering Jimmy Hoffa’s body or causing a meteor to harmlessly land near a cook-off, earning him his job back. Bruce then uses his powers to cause Evan to make a fool out of himself on-air, causing Evan to be fired in favor of Bruce as the new anchor.

After taking Grace to a fancy dinner and telling her he made anchor (angering her, as she thought he was going to propose), Bruce begins to hear voices in his head. He re-encounters God, who confronts Bruce on using his powers for personal gain and not helping people. He also explains that the voices are prayers to God that Bruce must deal with. Bruce creates a computerized email-like system to receive the prayers and respond, but finds that the influx is far too great for him to handle—even though God had stated that Bruce is only receiving prayers from the Buffalo area – and sets the program to automatically answer Yes to every prayer.

Bruce attends a party celebrating his promotion. When Grace arrives, she finds Bruce being seduced and kissed by Susan, and quickly leaves. Bruce follows Grace, but she is heartbroken and will not listen to him. He tries to use his powers to convince Grace to stay but cannot influence her free will. As Bruce looks around, he realizes that the city has fallen into chaos due to his actions. Bruce returns to God, who explains that He can’t solve all the problems, and that Bruce must figure out a way to solve it himself. Bruce then begins to solve his problems in life practically, such as helping a man whose car broke down across the street, training his dog normally, and allowing Evan to have his job back. Bruce returns to his computer system and goes about answering prayers as best he can. As he reads through them, he finds a prayer from Grace, wishing for Bruce’s success and well-being. As he reads it, another prayer from Grace arrives, this one wishing not to be in love with Bruce anymore.

Bruce is stunned and walks alone on a highway, asking God to take back His powers and letting his fate be in His hands. Bruce is suddenly struck by a truck, and regains consciousness in a white void. God appears and asks Bruce what he really wants; Bruce admits that he only wants to make sure Grace finds a man that would make her happy. God agrees and Bruce finds himself in the hospital, shortly after being revived—near miraculously—by the doctors. Grace arrives and the two rekindle their relationship, with Bruce and Grace later becoming engaged. After his recovery, Bruce returns to his field reporting but takes more pleasure in the simple stories. Bruce and Grace announce their engagement on live TV. The film ends with the beggar who Bruce had previously ran into on various occasions finally revealing himself to be God.

REVIEW:

Jim Carrey has had quite the career when it comes to film, especially the comedies. One his most memorable, though perhaps not for his performance, is Bruce Almighty. Let’s take a look at this film and see what is so intriguing about it, shall we?

What is this about?

When TV reporter Bruce Nolan angrily ridicules God, the Almighty responds by giving Bruce all His divine powers. But can Bruce improve on perfection?

What did I like?

Phonemonal cosmic power. Let’s think for a moment. If you had the power of God, what would you? My guess is that most of us would test it out a little bit, then do things to make our lives better, which would then be followed by the workload of the Almighty. So, pretty much what Jim Carrey does here is what we all do. Can’t fault him for that, at all, and he does so in true Carrey fashion. Love it!

God. Few people are capable and worthy enough to take on a role as big as God.  Alanis Morrissette did in Dogma, but all she did was skip around and smile. Patrick Stewart and James Earl Jones are usually called on to be the voice of God, but I don’t think they’ve ever portrayed him in person. Morgan Freeman, however, seems have that mixture of commanding screen presence, warmth, and Je ne se quoi that makes him the perfect choice. Even better is the fact that when he was cast, I don’t recall an uproar about his race, which really shows how well respected an actor he is.

Dog. In a small bit of comic relief (is that what you call this…in a comedy?), the dog has a couple of moments where it stands up, lift the toilet seat, and takes a piss. This is followed by another scene where he’s sitting on the toilet reading a newspaper. I thought that was kind of clever, as we all know dogs are horrible when it comes to using the bathroom where they are supposed to. Perhaps this is the director’s way of showing “what if”?

What didn’t I like?

Devil. If Morgan Freeman is God, shouldn’t there be a devil somewhere? I suggest that either the sister-in-law or his big rival, Evan, though the latter would ruin the premise of Evan Almighty, should be getting some kind of unholy help. It just makes sense to have yin and yang. Maybe that’s just me wanting too much balance, though.

Forgiveness. Is it me, or in every movie Jennifer Aniston is in she ends up walking in on a guy at the wrong moment and then spends the rest of the film being all pissy about it? Katherine Heigl is guilty of this, as well. Maybe this is just a female thing, but I know that guys are willing to forgive and forget in the blink of an eye, but women hold on to any and everything they see, regardless of the situation. This situation where Aniston walks in and seen Bruce making out with Catherine Bell’s character (who wouldn’t want to be in a triangle with those two, btw?) was nothing more than a misunderstanding. Had Aniston not been so overemotional and gone in the first place, Bell’s character wouldn’t have had the chance to throw herself at Bruce. Forgiveness is needed all around, methinks.

Blood type. At the end of the film, Bruce is laying in a hospital bed and glances over to see the bag of blood which is being pumped into him. He gives is a confused look and Jennifer Aniston’s character enters and says something that leads us to believe we missed an important scene. Roll credits and we se the outtakes of this scene in which they are sitting in the car discussing blood type and Bruce says the line that Aniston says. It all makes sense, now! Films do this more often than not. They will cut something that has significance to something later on, leaving the audience confused. I don’t know the reason this scene was cut, but since it was related to the hospital scene, some kind of effort should have been made to at least mention the blood type stuff somewhere else.

It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I feel like I should be outside enjoying it, but I need to get some work done. Ever the procrastinator, I decided it was movie time! Bruce Almighty fit the bill perfectly for what I was looking for. Something light, funny, with a beautiful leading lady. I actually have very little negative to say about this, so let’s dispense with the formalities and allow me to tell you this a definite must-see film. I very highly recommend it!

5 out of 5 stars

The Lego Movie

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Lego universe, the wizard Vitruvius attempts to protect a superweapon called the “Kragle” from the evil Lord Business. He fails to do so, but prophesies that a person called “the Special” will find the Piece of Resistance capable of stopping the Kragle.

Eight and a half years later, a construction worker named Emmet Brickowski comes across a woman named Wyldstyle, who searches for something after hours at Emmet’s construction site. When he investigates, Emmet falls into a hole and finds the Piece of Resistance. Compelled to touch it, Emmet experiences vivid visions and passes out. He awakens with the Piece of Resistance attached to his back in the custody of Bad Cop, Business’ lieutenant. There, Emmet learns of Business’ plans to freeze the world with the Kragle, a tube of Krazy Glue with the label partially rubbed out. Wyldstyle rescues Emmet, believing him to be the Special, and takes him to meet Vitruvius. Emmet learns that she and the wizard are Master Builders—people capable of building anything they need without instruction manuals—who oppose Business’ attempts to suppress their creativity. Though disappointed to find Emmet is not a Master Builder, Wyldstyle and Vitruvius are convinced of his potential when he recalls visions of a humanoid deity called “the Man Upstairs”.

Emmet, Wyldstyle, and Vitruvius evade Bad Cop’s forces with the aid of Batman. They attend a council of Master Builders, who are unimpressed with Emmet and refuse to fight Business. Bad Cop’s forces attack and capture everyone except for Emmet and a few others. Emmet devises a team plan to infiltrate Business’ headquarters and disarm the Kragle. However, he and his allies are captured and imprisoned, and Vitruvius is killed by Lord Business, who sets his headquarters to self-destruct and leaves everyone to die. Vitruvius reveals he made up the prophecy as he dies, but soon reappears to Emmet as a ghost and tells him it is his self-belief that makes him the Special. Strapped to the self-destruct mechanism’s battery, Emmet flings himself off the edge of the universe and saves his friends. Inspired by Emmet’s sacrifice, Wyldstyle rallies the Lego people across the universe to use whatever creativity they have to build machines and weapons to fight Business’ forces.

Emmet finds himself in the real world, where the events of the story are being played out in a basement by a boy, Finn, on his father’s Lego set. The father—revealed as “the Man Upstairs”—chastises his son for ruining the set by creating hodgepodges of different playsets, and proceeds to permanently glue his perceived perfect creations together. Realizing the danger his friends are in, Emmet wills himself to move and gains Finn’s attention. Finn returns Emmet and the Piece of Resistance to the set, where Emmet now possesses the powers of a Master Builder and confronts Business. Meanwhile, Finn’s father looks at his son’s creations and realizes that Finn had based the villainous Business on him. Through a speech Emmet gives Business, Finn tells his father that he is special and has the power to change everything. Finn’s father reconciles with his son, which plays out as Business having a change of heart, capping the Kragle with the Piece of Resistance, and ungluing his victims with mineral spirits. As a result of the father allowing Finn’s younger sister to join them in playing with his Lego sets, aliens from the planet Duplo beam down and announce their plans to destroy everyone.

REVIEW:

Like most kids, especially boys, I grew up playing with Legos. I think when I finally stopped playing with them, my parents and sister’s feet were the happiest since they could finally stop stepping on them. Back then, who would have ever thought that those little toys would become a feature length motion-picture that took the box office by surprise, even earning an Oscar nod (more on that later)? I’ve been poked, prodded, coerced, and every other adjective you can possibly imagine to check this out, so let’s see what I thought about it, shall we?

What is this about?

After being mistaken for the LEGO Master Builder, ordinary mini-guy Emmet is swept up in an urgent quest to thwart the evil plans of Lord Business. Emmet’s adventures include daunting challenges and hilarious missteps in this computer-animated epic.

What did I like?

Boy, what an imagination. Watching this film, two things are sure to pop in your head. First, to create all these worlds, inventions, and effects out of Legos is impressive, even going so far as using Legos for water! More importantly, though, is the second thing that may pop in your brain. This plot seems a bit juvenile in its executions. Almost as if it were being done by a little boy playing with Legos, but we find out in the end that is exactly what it is. These filmmakers made the masterful decision of bringing a child’s imagination to the big screen, and with tremendous results!

Animation. The animation in this flick is far above what it has any right to be. I say that because there are a few Lego brand animated series on television and DVD right now and they are utter crap, but to turn around and see this and you have to be taken aback. This animation is so good that at times you totally forget you’re watching Legos! Hell, I’ll go one further and say that I wished I would’ve seen this in theaters…in 3D no less (and you know that’s saying something, coming from me!!!)

Nothing is safe. These days Lego playsets can be anything from the Batcave, to the Wild West, to Mordor, to NY City, and all points between and beyond. This film takes note of that and uses it to its advantage. We get scenes with many of the most popular sets, as well as some satirical skewering of pretty much any and everyone. Here’s the thing, though. The pop culture references made throughout the film are just enough to whet your whistle, as opposed to the complete drowning that happens in films like the Shrek franchise.

What didn’t I like?

Dark moment. This is a fun movie, full of light-hearted innocence and childlike imagination, but there is one scene that is as dark as you can get. The character Lord Business has kidnapped the parents of his security chief, Bad Cop, and is about to Kragle them, but just as he is about to he changes his mind, holds Bad Cop down, erases the Good Cop side of him, and tells Bad Cop to Kragle his own parents! I remind you this is a film aimed at kids!

Live action. For all the great animation and innovation this film shows, they decide to have an extended live-action segment at the end. I can understand having a short scene showing a kid playing with Legos. That makes sense, but this went on into some father/son issues that I felt was just unnecessary. No one is watching this film to see a father and son mend fences. We want to see Lego stuffs!

Green Lantern. One of my favorite DC superheroes is Green Lantern, so I may be a little biased in saying this, but it has to be said. WTF did they do to Green Lantern in this film?!? First off, Jonah Hill as GL? What kind of bass acwards casting is that? Second, why was he so needy? I didn’t get it? When has Green Lantern ever been looked at as needy and such? If anything, this should have been Aquaman (although if you play the game Injustice: Gods Among Us you’ll see Aquaman is no joke), Cyborg, or maybe Robin/Nightwing in some mini-plot involving Batman leaving him. I know some out there probably enjoyed this, but I was not one of them.

Who would have expected that something like The Lego Movie would be such an enjoyable film, let alone be as successful as it turned out to be? I know I didn’t, but after watching this tonight, I was pleasantly surprised. All the praise and hype that has been hoisted on this picture is well-deserved. I do wonder what it would have been like had they used stop-motion Legos as opposed to CGI, but that’s a personal preference. So, what did I think of this film? Well, there is a song in the film that will be stuck in your head once you hear it and sums up everything perfectly, “Everything is Awesome.”

5 out of 5 stars

Last Vegas

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Billy, Paddy, Archie and Sam are childhood friends from Flatbush, Brooklyn, who are living in their senior years. Sam and his wife Miriam are living mundane lives in a retirement village in Naples,_Florida. Archie, twice-divorced and retired from the Air Force, lives with his overprotective son Ezra and his family in New Jersey after suffering a stroke. Paddy lives alone in his Brooklyn apartment, a curmudgeon in grief since the death of his wife, Sophie, over a year ago. Billy is a successful entrepreneur in Malibu, California, who lives with his 31-year-old girlfriend Lisa. Shortly after proposing to Lisa, Billy finds an old bottle of scotch he and his friends stole in their childhood days and calls Sam and Archie, who immediately propose a bachelor party for Billy in Las Vegas before his wedding that weekend. After being given permission by Miriam to cheat on her, Sam flies to New Jersey to pick up Archie in secret. They drive Brooklyn to collect Paddy and fly off to rendezvous with Billy in Vegas.

The quartet meet up at the airport, where Billy and Paddy get into a heated argument. They had a falling-out when Billy failed to attend Sophie’s funeral. Archie breaks up the fight and demands they stop and enjoy the weekend for a change and to celebrate Billy’s wedding with a little fun because “they need this.” They head to Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel to check in, only to realize that the hotel is closed for renovations. Billy gets his assistant to find them a room at the Aria Resort and Casino, since that is where the wedding will be held. While taking a break in the casino, they meet Diana, a lounge singer who charms the guys as they joke about Sam’s sex life, Archie’s medical issues and Billy’s young bride. Paddy begins to express his anger toward Billy for not attending Sophie’s funeral and is eventually charmed by Diana into rejoining the group over some martinis. They convince Diana to join them at The Aria where they get stuck in a traffic jam and walk down The Las Vegas Strip. While waiting for their rooms, Archie goes to a blackjack table and has a brief altercation with a cocky gambler named Dean. After Dean leaves the table, Archie buys chips with $15,000 (half of his pension funds), much to Sam and Paddy’s surprise. Later, Paddy warns Sam that Archie is on a losing streak and has lost nearly $9,000. They rush to pull him off the table, only to discover that he is actually up $102,000. The trio are noticed by the pit boss and they reluctantly leave the table in fear of being accused of cheating. Meanwhile, as Billy tours the wedding chapel with Diana, he becomes charmed with her as she explains to him that she moved to Vegas because she was recently laid off as a tax attorney in Atlanta and always wanted to sing despite being a divorced single mother.

Later, the quartet become judges of a wild swimsuit competition. They are then confronted by the casino manager, who was impressed with Archie’s blackjack game; he happily gives them the best penthouse suite to stay in with their own host, Lonnie, who reluctantly accepts the job as the original guest was supposed to be 50 Cent. Upon entering the suite, Billy suggests they open the old bottle of scotch to celebrate the gang’s reunion, but Paddy confronts him about his absence from Sophie’s funeral and leaves the group. That night, the remaining three go to Haze where they cut the line after waiting for over an hour where the bouncer stops them and tells them that they can only enter if they buy bottle service, which they eventually agree to after seeing more women enter the club. There, Billy and Sam talk with the bride-to-be and maid-of-honor from a bachelorette party while Archie goes dancing. Dean comes by and begins groping the bachelorette and is stopped by Archie, Billy and Sam. Dean attempts to throw a punch at Billy but is knocked down by Paddy, who stopped by to give Archie his cell phone due to several missed calls by Ezra.

The next day, while the others are hungover and recovering, Paddy visits Diana and tells her that he and Billy were both in love with Sophie when they were younger and she picked Paddy to be hers. Diana catches his eye while she tries to convince him to stop grieving and move on with life because Sophie would want it. Afterwards, Paddy joins Billy at their pool cabana and admits he needs to move on from Sophie’s passing while also showing concern for Billy about marrying a younger woman. The others join in and discuss throwing a big party in their suite. Later, Dean is brought in by Lonnie to the cabana to apologize for his behavior and is tricked into believing the quartet are four mafia members from the East Coast called “The Flatbush Four.” As Billy relaxes, the other three get fancy suits and (with help from Dean) prepare for the bachelor party and invite several people including the bachelorette party, exotic dancers, a band of transvestites, and cast members of Zarkana. Billy later visits Diana at her job, where she tells him she is fond of him. As they walk along The Strip, Billy tells Diana that Paddy gave Sophie an ultimatum to choose either Billy or him and she secretly chose Billy first, but Billy felt Sophie was meant to be with Paddy so she went with Paddy instead.

The bachelor party goes into full force as Paddy gets ready to be social again. Sam meets the maid of honor from the night before who begins flirting with him to his delight. Archie dances with the bachelorette and other female partygoers, gives advice to Dean on how to meet women properly, and is confronted by a surprise appearance from a worried Ezra, who is later told by Archie to simply enjoy this special time with his father. Ezra calms down and accepts. As Sam and the maid of honor head upstairs to be alone, he encourages and enjoys her seductive ways but eventually turns them down as he says while the experience of sex with her would be so spectacular, he has a tradition of telling Miriam about all the wonderful things that happen in his life. In order to stay wonderful, he’d have to tell his wife about what really happened in Vegas, which would be devastating to her. Paddy tells Billy he invited Diana to the party because he likes her and wants to start anew after Sophie’s passing, but realizes Billy likes her too. They rush to meet her as she enters the party and Billy pushes Paddy into the decorative pool and takes Diana upstairs to tell her that Paddy likes her and to give him a chance. She gets embarrassed and feels like she is being treated like Sophie and “gifted” by Billy when Paddy walks in and hears the whole story about Sophie and Billy for the first time. Paddy is devastated and finds the old bottle of scotch, throws it in the trash and leaves the party.

The next morning, Paddy confronts Billy at the pool and tells him he does not know women like he loved Sophie for all the years they were together and that the wedding must be stopped. As Lisa and her bridesmaids arrive, Paddy pushes Billy into the pool and as a return favor for his being with Sophie, Paddy tells Lisa the wedding is off. Billy and Lisa talk it over while the guys have small talk with the bridesmaids who are now prepared for a sloppy drunken time with an angry Lisa. As the guys pack up to leave, Billy comes to terms with his age and admits his fear of getting old and being alone. They come together as friends again and tell Billy to go see Diana. Billy shows up at Diana’s job and reveals his feelings for her. The guys say their goodbyes to Dean and Lonnie and finally decide to crack open the old bottle of scotch for a final toast.

A few months later, Billy and Diana call Archie and Paddy to announce they are getting married. They try to call Sam but he is unable to answer the phone as he is busy in bed with Miriam.

REVIEW:

I feel kind of guilty about watching Last Vegas because my best friend has been dying to see thing and hasn’t had the chance, yet. I did invite her over to watch with me, though. This is a film that wasn’t very well received by critics, and yet many moviegoers actually liked it. So, which side of the coin do I fall on?

What is this about?

Four sixtysomething pals — Billy, Paddy, Archie and Sam — gather in Las Vegas to celebrate Billy’s upcoming nuptials with the intention of running wild for four straight days. But Sin City has gotten a lot crazier than they could’ve ever imagined.

What did I like?

2 wild and crazy guys. Kevin Kline and Morgan Freeman are the funny guys of this foursome, especially Kline. With all the drama going on between Michael Douglas and Robert De Niro’s character, it was a great change of pace to get some comedy in a comedy film. With Freeman, we get comedy based mostly on his age, which works for this film, since that is part of the running joke. Kline partly uses the same formula but, being a bit of a comedic actor, he uses his own talents to become the film’s standout character…and he does it without his Viagra pill and condom!

Bachelors. Cinema history is littered with bachelor parties that take place in Vegas, most recently The Hangover (before it spiraled down into an unnecessary trilogy). The thing about all these films is that they are usually a bunch of guys in their 20s or 30s, maybe a couple in their 40s, but never do we see the older generation in a bachelor party. A major draw for this film is the fact that we have these sixty something year old guys in Vegas for a bachelor party. The gags and adventures are about the same as they are with the 20 and 30 somethings, but from the view of older guys. Gags such as club music sounding all the same, which it does, being old enough to be girls’ grandfathers, etc. surprisingly had me laughing out loud.

Party Rock. I didn’t catch how they ended up doing this, but somehow the guys were able to judge a bikini contest. It seemed like they just walked up and started judging, but it is possible that might have been one of the perks of the stay at their hotel. More on that later, though. As a red-blooded, straight man, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up the bikini contest and the gorgeous ladies they were prancing out there. Perhaps they weren’t all 10s, but they were lookers. Of course, the one I liked the best is the one De Niro’s character gave the lowest rating to. Go figure!

What didn’t I like?

Liberace. I’m not sure, but I think Michael Douglas was either filming this at the same time or right after Behind the Candelabara. I say that because he is a distinct shade of orange and isn’t in the film as much as the other three guys. I’d say this is because he is the biggest star, but you have Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman in the cast, both Oscar winners in their own right, and Kevin Kline who is better known that we give him credit for. Douglas just seems to not be fully invested in this film until the penultimate scene, where he actually gets to flex his acting chops, and that just wasn’t working for me, making his character, who actually is a somewhat likable guy, just meh for me.

Fiancee. I realize this is a bachelor party film, but Douglas’ fiancée seems to be forgotten. She is mentioned a couple of times, but until she shows up before the wedding, we totally forgot about her. Maybe I’m just spoiled by other films in this vein, but shouldn’t she have at least gotten more than a couple of mentions? Ironically, the one that brings her up, is the singer that Douglas was hitting on during the weekend.

Drama. There is some bad blood between Michael Douglas and Robert De Niro’s characters. The conflict between the two of them festers so long that it nearly costs what is left of their friendship and ruins the weekend for all four guys. All of it apparently because Douglas didn’t come to the funeral of De Niro’s wife. Perhaps I’m just a cold-hearted bastard, but that just doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to throw out a friendship and/or hold a grudge for all these years. Sure, you can be disappointed, but get over it and move on, I say.

If there is anything that one can get out of Last Vegas, it is that old people can have just as much fun, if not more, than younger folks. This comedy showcases that and even shows that they can still get with the ladies (for lack of a more appropriate phrase) like the jazz/lounge singer played by Joanna Cassidy, something we don’t normally see on film, at least in a more “realistic” sense. Do I recommend this film? Yes, very highly. I had no idea that I would enjoy this film as much as I did. This has definitely been one of the best surprises of the year. Check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Oblivion

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on October 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the year 2077, Tech 49 Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) is one of the last drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Jack tells us that the planet was nearly destroyed sixty years ago, during a war against a race of alien invaders known as Scavengers (“Scavs”). The Scavs destroyed the moon, causing massive earthquakes and tsunamis, and then launched their invasion. They were only defeated by the use of nuclear weapons, which left most of the planet irradiated and uninhabitable. The few surviving humans migrated to a large space station called the “Tet”, a massive tetrahedral space station that orbits the Earth, which is powered using energy harvested on Earth by giant ocean-borne power stations that generate fusion power from seawater before migration to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. From Tower 49, a base standing above the remains of the northeastern United States, Jack and his partner and lover Victoria “Vika” Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) work as a team to maintain the autonomous drones that defend the power stations from the few remaining Scav bandits. They receive their orders from Sally (Melissa Leo), their mission commander, who is stationed on the Tet. Jack flies recon and repair missions to the surface, while Vika supervises from Tower 49, a home at around 3000 feet (1000 meters) above sea level. The two expect to leave Earth and join the other survivors on the Tet in two weeks. Although Jack and Vika had their memories wiped five years earlier for security reasons, Jack has recurring dreams about meeting a mysterious woman at the Empire State Building before the war—which was before he was born. Jack keeps a secret retreat in a forested area he sometimes visits.

A Scav signal beacon transmitting coordinates off Earth is followed shortly by the crash of a pre-invasion spacecraft. Drones arrive at the crash site and kill most of the crew, but Jack manages to rescue a woman, Julia (Olga Kurylenko), recognizing her as the woman from his dreams. Julia says her ship—the Odyssey—was a NASA mission, the objective of which she refuses to reveal, and she and Jack retrieve the ship’s flight recorder. They are captured by Scavs, who are revealed to be humans living in what remains of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex. Their leader, Malcolm Beech (Morgan Freeman), claims that the alien invasion was a lie and wants Jack to reprogram a captured drone in order to destroy the Tet by delivering a nuclear weapon powered by the Odyssey’s core reactor, the reason they deorbited the Odyssey. When Jack refuses, Malcolm releases the captives but urges them to seek the truth in the so-called “radiation zone” that Jack is forbidden to enter.

On their way back to the Tower, Jack takes Julia to the ruins of the Empire State Building and asks her who she is. She reveals that she was his wife before the war. His dreams were flashbacks to the day he proposed to her on the Empire State Building’s observation deck. As Jack and Julia share a loving embrace Vika watches via her video link to Jack’s ship, and when they return to the Tower she refuses them entry. When she informs Sally that she and Jack are no longer an “effective team”, Sally activates a drone that kills Vika. Before the drone can kill Jack, Julia uses the weapons on Jack’s ship to destroy the drone. Sally requests that Jack returns to the Tet with Julia, but they flee in his ship instead, pursued by more drones. They crash in the radiation zone, where Jack comes face to face with Tech 52, a clone of himself. He fights the clone, who, upon catching sight of Julia, also begins experiencing memory flashbacks, before Jack renders him unconscious. Jack sees that Julia has been seriously wounded by a stray bullet from his struggle with Tech 52. Jack impersonates Tech 52, activating his vehicle and going to Tower 52, where he encounters a clone of Vika, and steals a med kit to help Julia.

Shocked, Jack and Julia return to Beech, who tells them the truth: the Tet is in fact an alien artificial intelligence that seized Earth to exploit the planet’s resources, and Jack and Victoria are just two of many thousands of clones of their original selves (who were astronauts from 2017) created as soldiers to carry out the invasion of Earth. The Tet uses drones programmed to kill humans on sight. The survivors use old technology like stealth fighter shielding and vocal scrambling to confuse the drones (thus looking like “Scavs”). The Tet uses clones of Jack and Vika to maintain the drones, and thereby its dominance. Jack agrees to reprogram the stolen drone to destroy the Tet. When leaving the underground stronghold with the reprogrammed drone, they are attacked by three other drones. The drones enter the base and wreak havoc inside, severely damaging the reprogrammed drone and wounding Beech in the process. The humans finally manage to destroy the three drones, but are forced to find another way to deliver the nuclear bomb to the Tet. Jack proposes delivering the bomb himself. To throw off suspicion, Julia suggests that she accompany Jack, since Sally had requested him to bring her to the Tet.

During the flight, Jack listens to the Odyssey’s flight recorder, which reveals that he and Victoria were originally pilots on the Odyssey research mission to Titan, which was reassigned by NASA when the Tet was discovered near Saturn. Sally was originally their supervisor at NASA mission control, with other personnel, including Julia, on board in cryogenic sleep capsules. Upon approach, the Tet drew them in using a form of tractor beam. Recognizing that capture was imminent, Jack was able to jettison the sleeping crewmembers, who orbited for sixty years in suspended animation until Beech sent the signal to recall their craft.

Jack enters the Tet, where he is met by a sentient tetrahedral structure that had adopted the persona of Sally. Jack opens the sleep capsule to reveal Beech; Julia simultaneously emerges from another sleeping capsule at Jack’s secret forest retreat. The two men trigger the nuclear bomb and destroy the Tet at the cost of their own lives. The destruction of the Tet also deactivates the remaining drones around the world just as they were about to slaughter the survivors at the Scavs’ underground base.

Three years later, Julia is living with her young daughter in the forest retreat on the recovering Earth. A group of survivors arrive there, and Tech 52 emerges from the group. A voice-over by Tech 52 reveals that his previous encounter had re-awakened memories of Julia, and he had searched for her since the Tet’s destruction. Having the same latent memories as Tech 49, he then reunites with “his” family.

REVIEW:

Well, now that I’ve had time to rinse the taste of InAPPropriate Comedy out of my mouth, let’s hope that Oblivion doesn’t do anything to make me lose faith in the film industry. Well, more than I already have with all these damn remakes, reboots, etc.

What is this about?

High above a war-torn future Earth, Cmdr. Jack Harper is maintaining the planet’s defensive drones when a crippled starship enters his territory. Its sole occupant, a mysterious woman, leads Harper to shocking truths about humankind’s legacy.

What did I like?

Minimalistic. Sometimes these apocalyptic sci-fi films try to throw too much at the audience and it just ends up being a giant cluster of confusion. This film scales all that back and gives a couple of plot points with a minor third one thrown in beginning in the third act that is more of a way to tie up loose ends at the end of the film than anything else, but it works.

Cruise. I’m not a fan of Tom Cruise, but even I have to admit that the guy seems to have his career moving back in the right direction these days. Also, he isn’t a bad actor as we can see with many of his solo scenes. In order to pull off a scene where it is just you and the scenery, it takes some real acting chops, and Cruise has proven he has those.

Visual. The film is visually stunning. The immaculately clean and white space station is the start of it, then we see the remains of such landmarks and important places such as the Empire State building and Giants stadium, then we get some wildlife and greenery before finally seeing the space station that is in space. If none of these take your breath away when you first see them, especially if you are able to see this on the big screen, then you I just don’t know what to say, because these striking visuals can be argued as the best part of the film.

What didn’t I like?

Script. One critic brought up how this script could very well have been thrown out the window and this would have been just as effective. Truth is, the writing isn’t that good, but I don’t believe turning this into a dialogue-less picture would solve that problem. A few touch-ups here and there, maybe clear up some of the confusion with the scavengers and that should do the trick.

Women. The women in the film bothered me. First, there is newcomer Andrea Risenborough, who I swear they cast only because they couldn’t get Julianne Moore. The coldness of her was a turn off for me and I was hoping she would die a quick and painful death, when I should be wanting to see what happens with her character. Melissa Leo, who is playing some kind of supervisor, had the most horrible southern accent I’ve heard in all of my days. She has nothing to do, but sit there and spout out the same few lines, you’d think she could have gotten the accent right, if she must use it. Finally, there was Olga Kurylenko. First, I have to give kudos to how much she has grown as an actress since I first saw her in Hitman, however, I didn’t feel a connection to her character. I blame this on how they brought her in, rather than anything she did. As a matter of fact, I actually was a fan of how she was used in the ending.

At first, I thought Oblivion was going to be just another Earth apocalypse movie with hints of 2001: A Space Odyssey thrown in for good measure. At least, that’s how the trailer led us all to believe it was going to be. As it turns out, this was quite the surprisingly, entertaining sci-fi action film. Sure, it has its problems, but they aren’t glaring enough that they can’t be overlooked. I highly recommend this to anyone in the mood for a subdued bit of sci-fi. Give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars