Archive for Peter Dinklage

Avengers: Infinity War

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Having acquired the Power Stone from the planet Xandar, Thanos and his lieutenants—Ebony Maw, Cull Obsidian, Proxima Midnight, and Corvus Glaive—intercept the spaceship carrying the survivors of Asgard’s destruction. As they extract the Space Stone from the Tesseract, Thanos subdues Thor, overpowers Hulk, and kills Loki. Heimdall sends Hulk to Earth using the Bifröst before being killed. Thanos departs with his lieutenants and obliterates the spaceship.

Hulk crash-lands at the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York City, reverting to Bruce Banner. He warns Stephen Strange and Wong about Thanos’ plan to kill half of all life in the universe; in response, Strange recruits Tony Stark. Maw and Obsidian arrive to retrieve the Time Stone from Strange, drawing the attention of Peter Parker. Maw captures Strange, but fails to take the Time Stone due to an enchantment. Stark and Parker pursue Maw’s spaceship, Banner contacts Steve Rogers, and Wong stays behind to guard the Sanctum.

In Scotland, Midnight and Glaive ambush Wanda Maximoff and Vision in order to retrieve the Mind Stone in Vision’s forehead. Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Sam Wilson rescue them and take shelter with James Rhodes and Banner at the Avengers Compound. Vision offers to sacrifice himself by having Maximoff destroy the Mind Stone to keep Thanos from retrieving it. Rogers suggests they travel to Wakanda, which he believes has the resources to remove the stone without destroying Vision.

The Guardians of the Galaxy respond to a distress call from the Asgardian ship and rescue Thor, who surmises Thanos seeks the Reality Stone, which is in the possession of the Collector on Knowhere. Rocket and Groot accompany Thor to Nidavellir, where they and Eitri create an enchanted battle-axe capable of killing Thanos. On Knowhere, Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, and Mantis find Thanos with the Reality Stone already in his possession. Thanos kidnaps Gamora, his adoptive daughter, who reveals the location of the Soul Stone to save her captive adoptive sister Nebula from torture. Thanos and Gamora travel to Vormir, where Red Skull, keeper of the Soul Stone, informs him the stone can only be retrieved by sacrificing someone he loves. Thanos reluctantly kills Gamora, earning the Stone.

Nebula escapes captivity and asks the remaining Guardians to meet her on Thanos’ destroyed homeworld, Titan. Stark and Parker kill Maw and rescue Strange. Landing on Titan, they meet Quill, Drax, and Mantis. The group forms a plan to remove Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet after Strange uses the Time Stone to view millions of possible futures, seeing only one in which Thanos loses. Thanos arrives, justifying his plans as necessary to ensure the survival of a universe threatened by overpopulation. The group subdues him until Nebula deduces that Thanos has killed Gamora. Enraged, Quill retaliates, allowing Thanos to break the group’s hold and overpower them. After Stark is seriously wounded by Thanos, Strange surrenders the Time Stone in exchange for Thanos sparing Stark. Thanos departs for Earth.

In Wakanda, Rogers reunites with Bucky Barnes before Thanos’ army invades. The Avengers, alongside T’Challa and the Wakandan forces, mount a defense while Shuri works to extract the Mind Stone from Vision. Banner, unable to transform into the Hulk, fights in Stark’s Hulkbuster armor. Thor, Rocket, and Groot arrive to reinforce the Avengers; Midnight, Obsidian, and Glaive are killed and their army is routed. Thanos arrives and despite Maximoff’s attempt to destroy the Mind Stone, removes it from Vision, killing him.

Thor severely wounds Thanos, but Thanos activates the completed Infinity Gauntlet and teleports away. Half of all life across the universe disintegrates, including Barnes, T’Challa, Groot, Maximoff, Wilson, Mantis, Drax, Quill, Strange, and Parker. Stark and Nebula remain on Titan while Banner, M’Baku, Okoye, Rhodes, Rocket, Rogers, Romanoff, and Thor are left on the Wakandan battlefield. Meanwhile, Thanos recovers on another planet.

In a post-credits scene, Nick Fury transmits a signal as he, Maria Hill, and others disintegrate. The transmitter displays a star insignia on a red-and-blue background

REVIEW:

The moment has come! The big payoff! The reason we have sat through seemingly endless Marvel Cinematic Universe films, though they have all been enjoyable to varying degrees. 10 years in the making, complete with developing an entire universe, setting up some high stakes, and teasing us with the big bad, Avengers: Infinity War has arrived! Will it be the payoff all of us comic nerds, as well as the general public have been expecting?

What is this about?

As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

What did I like?

Spread the wealth. From the moment this film was announced, it was clear that the cast was going to be huge. What we didn’t know was how the balance of screentime would play out. Would we get a heavy dose of Iron Man and Captain America, while Hulk and Dr. Strange are relegated to what amounts to glorified cameos? I can assure you that is not the case. Every character that we have been introduced to in the MCU to this point, with the exception of Hawkeye, Ant-Man (who has his own sequel coming later this summer, which takes place before this film, apparently), and a couple of others who i can’t think of at the moment, is included in this film. While not all time on screen is equal, each character is allowed to show their strengths and why we have grown to care about them over this time.

Mad Titan. Yesterday, I saw Josh Brolin as Cable in Deadpool 2 and, while he was good as that character, he feels more at home as Thanos. That’s not to say Brolin can’t play a cyborg mutant from the future, or that he should always seek out roles where he is a delusional psychopath with delusions of grandeur who has a strange misconception of what kind of balance the universe needs. Rather, he just seemed to have more fun as Thanos. I think he even said so himself. I can’t blame him. One the one hand, he could be a really strong time traveling cyborg who has to listen to Deadpool all day or be a universal titan that is nigh unstoppable. The latter seems to be the better option. As far as his plot is concerned, i think this is one of Marvel’s stronger villains. I won’t spoil it for you, but he does lay out and execute his plans with precision, rather than dawdle and monologue the way some earlier MCU villains have done (some in his employ).

Impact. The impact of the MCU has been felt ever since the first Avengers was released and other studios started taking notice of universe building. Now, if you notice there are many duplicators and imitators. DC has come the closest to recreating the formula, but something just isn’t right with them. When all is said and done with this film, though, the way it ends is sure to make a lasting impact on fans and probably moreso on those that aren’t fans. I can’t go into much detail about it without dabbling into spoiler territory, but i can say that something happens that will send shock waves through the audience, as it is something no one saw coming.

What didn’t I like?

Short end of the stick. Earlier, i mentioned the enormous cast and how not everyone was given equal screentime. For some reason *COUGH* ego*COUGH*, Iron Man gets the majority of the screentime. Meanwhile characters such as Bucky (Winter Soldier), Black Widow, Nebula, etc. have maybe 5 min on screen. In Nebula’s defense, she was a prisoner being tortured by Thanos for most of her time. This brings me to Black Panther. He, and the nation of Wakanda, play an important role later in the film, but that is all we get. Some have speculated that since this was filmed before the release of Black Panther, the studio had no idea of the impact that film would have and thus didn’t give T’Challa much to do in this film. There is an argument to made there, but my point is many characters, both major and minor didn’t receive as much time as they could have because of the amount of characters in this film. I’m not saying there were too many, just that, and I’m going to sound like Thanos here, ironically, more balance needs to be brought.

Offspring. Unless you are a fan of the comics, then you probably have no idea who Thanos’ “children” were. Myself, not being up to date on Thanos’ history, didn’t know who they were, either. Apparently, they are, much like Nebula and Gamora, the last children from worlds Thanos has conquered and destroyed who now serve him. That little bit of history doesn’t mean much, other than explain why they are fighting so hard for this big purple guy. They view him as their father and will do anything  for him. The way they seem to be portrayed in the film is equivalent to Stormtroopers, mindless clones who only serve one purpose.

Ground support. Granted, there isn’t much they could do and i just went on about too many characters, but i can’t help but think that the Defenders (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones), the Punisher, Ghost Rider, and the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , along with anyone else that could help out with this (Inhumans, Deathlok, etc.) The world is in danger! I find it hard to believe that these heroes/anti-heroes would just sit idly by, especially Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. (note…i have not been watching this season). Real talk…the only reason none of these guys are making an appearance is because Marvel is desperately wanting to keep the MCU away from the Netflix universe. Don’t ask me why. It makes no sense!

Spoiler alert. This isn’t a complaint against the film, but rather internet culture. As you know, i am nearly a month late getting to see this. Life/work kept me away from the theater. In this day and age, spoilers are very hard to avoid, especially when you are in a Facebook group for comic book and movie nerds. However, i believe it was the Sunday after the film’s release that i was checking out the Venom trailer and had the film spoiled for me. How was it spoiled? Well, right as the trailer is about to end, some @#%$!^ inserted a 10 second clip of himself telling the world what happened. I ask you…who does that?!?

Final thoughts on Avengers: Infinity War? Man, what a ride! The emotional roller coaster this film takes you on from the opening beat down of the Asgardians, to the triumphant return of Steve Rogers (that entrance was…wow!), all the way to the events that happen in the second half of the film are sure to keep one on the edge of their seat. There are some things that could be cut as well as some scenes that probably should not have been cut. All in all, though, i had a great time watching this and can’t wait for the next one. Do i recommend it? Yes, very highly!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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The Boss

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The story follows Michelle Darnell, a titan of industry who is sent to prison for insider trading, denounced by her former lover, Renault, who still holds a heavy grudge towards her for their breakup, after getting a promotion a few years ago. After doing her time, Michelle emerges, ready to rebrand herself as America’s latest sweetheart, but not everyone she steamrolled is so quick to forgive and forget. With nowhere to go and no one to scam, Michelle is forced to move in with former assistant Claire and her young daughter, Rachel. Now at her lowest point, Michelle wastes no time in devising a winner-take-all plan to rebuild her empire.

What people are saying:

“Even though The Boss is co-written by McCarthy and her husband, director Ben Falcone (who should know his wife’s strengths better), the film often strands its title character in shrill one-note caricature, mostly unchallenged.” 2 stars

“A very disappointing movie – its cast should be able to pull off a comedy with this premise, but to call the script and/or editing lackluster would be an understatement.” 1 star

“You’ll know what brand of comedy you’re going in for before the movie even starts, but ‘The Boss’ did enough for me to keep me around and entertained.” 3 1/2 stars

“Funny, but not hilarious, flick from McCarthy. Strangely distracting with the turtle necks, scarves and high-neck blouses McCarthy was wearing throughout the film” 2 1/2 stars

“Formulaic comes to mind. Bad person with redemption in the end. Try and true archetypal story. It had it’s entertaining moments, but just did not catch me with the story. Melissa just was not nasty enough in her Martha Stewart’ish role. If the movie started out with her mean at the beginning; then slowly filled in the back-story, it probably would have been better. Kathy Bates had that meaness that was needed. Always happy to see Dinklage on the screen-but it will not go down as one of his finer performances. Kristen Bell did a fine job; for some reason I am slowly warming up to her.” 3 stars

The Angry Birds Movie

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the 3D animated comedy, The Angry Birds Movie, we’ll finally find out why the birds are so angry. The movie takes us to an island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds–or almost entirely. In this paradise, Red (Jason Sudeikis), a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck (Josh Gad), and the volatile Bomb (Danny McBride) have always been outsiders. But when the island is visited by mysterious green piggies, it’s up to these unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to.

What people are saying:

“The game “Angry Birds,” at its core, is a destination for switching off your brain. And movies, even throw-away summer animated kid films, should aim for something more.” 1 star

“This movie suffers from the problem of the trailer giving away all the best scenes. I expected a lot more humor, since the trailer was actually pretty hilarious, but unfortunately they just crammed all the humor into that two minute trailer and the rest was just kind of… there. The animation isn’t anything to write home about, and the plot is really pretty simple. It was cute, and I’ve certainly seen worse, but I wouldn’t be tempted to see it again. ” 3 stars

“This isn’t a movie. It’s a colorful, unfunny headache, that utilizes Limp Bizkit in an unironic way, and whose funniest aspect is a mime…yes, a mime.” 1 star

“The Angry Birds movie was one of the best surprises of 2016 for me. It could have been the complete lack of expectations but the animation, character & set design, lighting, and dialogue quality had me reeling and constantly smiling at how entertained I was. Unfortunately, despite its unshakable quality during the first half of the movie, it suffers a disappointing hit in quality regarding story development and gags more or less exactly from the point wherein toilet humour is (somewhat literally) introduced. Despite its faults, this movie holds a special place in my heart for making me feel so very, very good.” 4 stars

“I went into this movie with no idea what to expect. The Angry Birds Movie is arguably the best video game adapted movie ever made, which sadly isn’t saying very much. For once, I agree with the critic consensus-this movie is way more entertaining than it has any right to be. Some of the humor is forced and some is just bad, but most of it is pretty funny. The final attack on Piggy Island is pulled straight from the games with some new stuff added in-and that’s exactly why it’s so great. The opening scene is a little forced and awkward, but there’s enough good in the rest of the movie to make up for it. Probably the best thing this movie has going for it is the voice cast. Andy Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Danny McBride, and Sean Penn are all perfectly cast, and the others are all great.” 3 stars

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a dystopian future, sentient robots known as Sentinels are exterminating mutants and oppressing humans, since humans harbor the genes that lead to mutant offspring. A small band of mutant survivors manage to evade the Sentinels thanks to the powers of Kitty Pryde, who has the ability to project a person’s consciousness back in time to deliver warnings.

Kitty’s group rendezvous with Magneto and Professor Charles Xavier in a monastery in China. They hatch a plan to send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time to prevent Mystique from murdering Bolivar Trask, the lead designer of the Sentinels. Trask’s assassination will make him a martyr, Mystique will be captured and her mutant powers will be reverse-engineered and used to create the formidable Sentinels of the future. A caveat of the plan is that they will have to stand and defend Wolverine and Kitty until Wolverine finishes his trip to the past and returns, otherwise the changes he made to the timeline will be lost.

Wolverine wakes up in 1973 in his younger body. He travels to the X-Mansion, where he encounters the young Hank McCoy and a disheveled Xavier. His school has failed and most of his original X-Men are dead, and this has left him a broken man. He has also lost his telepathic powers through taking serum which allows him to walk again. Wolverine convinces Xavier to free Magneto — who was accused of murdering John F. Kennedy (a charge he denies, stating that Kennedy was himself a mutant) — from a prison cell beneath The Pentagon. They do this with the help of Peter Maximoff, a mutant who can move blindingly fast.

Trask unsuccessfully lobbies to Congress for approval for his Sentinel program. Meanwhile, in Saigon, Mystique prevents a young William Stryker from appropriating a group of mutant American GIs, including Havok, for Trask’s research. Mystique investigates Trask Industries and discovers he has been capturing and experimenting on mutants, including some of her old comrades. Knowing that the assassination of Trask occurs in Paris, Xavier and Magneto board a private plane with Beast and Wolverine in order to intercept Mystique, although the two argue over abandoning each other.

In Paris, the Americans and Vietnamese are negotiating the end to the Vietnam War. Mystique impersonates a Vietnamese general to infiltrate a meeting with Trask. As she is about to kill Trask, Wolverine, Xavier, Magneto and Hank arrive. To guarantee her powers can never be used for the Sentinels, Magneto tries to kill Mystique, who flees out a window. A fight on the street ensues, in front of onlookers and television cameras. Wolverine’s upsetting encounter with Stryker causes his future body to react violently and injure Kitty.

Although Trask is saved, the world is horrified by the existence of mutants. President Richard Nixon approves Trask’s Sentinel program and arranges an unveiling in Washington, D.C. Trask’s scientists recover Mystique’s blood from the battle site in Paris, and Magneto fears Trask could still create the future Sentinels. Magneto intercepts the Sentinel prototypes on their way to Washington and laces them with steel, as he would not be able to control them otherwise since they’re made of polymer. At the mansion, Xavier eschews his regular serum dose to regain his powers. Through Wolverine, Xavier communes with his future self and is inspired to struggle for human-mutant peace once again. He uses Cerebro to track Mystique en route to Washington.

Nixon unveils the Sentinel prototypes on the White House lawn. As a show of force, Magneto raises RFK Stadium and deposits it around the White House. He also commandeers the Sentinels and has them attack the crowd. Nixon and Trask are taken to a safe room, followed by a disguised Mystique. Xavier, Wolverine, and Beast try to stop Magneto. Magneto impales Wolverine with rebars and flings him into the Potomac River. In 2023, the X-Men make their final stand as the Sentinels assault the monastery.

Pulling the safe room out of the White House, Magneto aims the television cameras at himself and prepares to kill the President with the whole world watching. Disguised as the President, Mystique wounds him with a plastic gun and reveals her true form. Xavier persuades Mystique not to kill Trask and allows her and Magneto to flee. Mystique’s interference is seen as a Mutant rescue of the president; the Sentinel program is cancelled and Trask is arrested.

Wolverine wakes up in 2023 in Xavier’s school, where he finds the X-Men all alive and well, even Jean Grey and Scott Summers. Logan asks Xavier to fill him in on the 50 years that he has missed out on, stating that the history he knew was a different one. In 1973, Mystique, impersonating Stryker, has the younger Wolverine rescued from the river.

In a post-credits scene, a cloaked figure telekinetically assembles the Pyramids of Giza as four horsemen stand behind him and a throng of worshipers chants his name: En Sabah Nur.

REVIEW:

Following the success of X-Men: First Class, fans were wondering if that was a reboot or if we were ever going to see the originals back in their roles (excluding Hugh Jackman, who has been in every film related to this franchise). Well, in order to keep continuity amongst both “timelines”, as we’ll call them, there was one story that could bring them all together. Aside from The Phoenix Saga, it is probably the most popular of the X-Men stories, and now it has made it to the big screen, but how will everyone react to X-Men: Days of Future Past?

What is this about?

This superhero sequel tracks Wolverine’s journey back in time in an effort to alter history and prevent the annihilation of both humans and mutants. Conflict also develops between Professor X and Magneto about the X-Men’s relations with humans.

What did I like?

X marks the spot. There is a reason the X-Men are called “X” men, and it is because of Charles Xavier, one of the most powerful mutants and brilliant minds in the Marvel Universe. Patrick Stewart brought Professor X straight out of the comics in the X-Men trilogy, leaving some very big shoes for James McAvoy to fill when First Class was made. In one of the early trailers for this film, you see the two of them talking, and you get chills. The past meets the present/future sort of thing. I hate to burst your bubble, but that scene isn’t as long as you think, but it is there. What is remarkable about both professors is as the film progresses McAvoy’s Xavier is humanized. We have never really known Professor X to be a flawed individual. Stewart’s version is the wise old sage we know him to be, but the fact that he can influence even his younger self with his wisdom speaks volume to the kind of man he is.

Tyrion. Bolivar Trask is not a likable character in the comics. In the X-Men Universe, we have seen Trask before. Go back and look at X-Men: The Last Stand, you know the X-Men movie everyone wants to forget happened, he’s in there, but it is a very different role. Peter Dinklage’s take on Trask is closer to the comic incarnation. As someone who loves it when they stick as close to the source material as possible, I was loving this. I have to bring this up, though. Dinklage is a great actor, and by winning this role, one that honestly didn’t call for someone of his stature, he may have opened up some doors for others.  I appreciate how that his height is not once mentioned, showing that he was meant to be taken seriously. Although, I could see someone using that in a future film as a mutant thing, or they could just bring in Trask’s son, who is a mutant (just a little info for those unenlightened out there).

Girl on fire. Jennifer Lawrence has really come into her own since we last saw her in blue body paint. Not that she wasn’t already a really fine actress, mind you. I guess the filmmakers paid attention to the Hunger Games films and noticed that she can kick some ass, something that Mystique needs to do. She’s not the timid little girl hanging on Xavier’s coattails as she was when we last saw her but, at the same time, she’s not the focused mercenary we see in X-Men, either. Lawrence realizes this and portrays the inner conflict between which way she should be leaning, which is a primary plot point.

Newness. Along with just about all the cast in the X-Men Universe returning for this film (not sure why Anna Paquin’s character was cut down to cameo at the very end….something I’m not happy about), we have some new mutants joining the fray. Most of which have never been seen any medium, except for Bishop who was in the 90s X-Men cartoon for this very story arc. Also appearing are Warpath, Sunspot, Blink, and Quicksilver. Blink, judging by the post-credits scene and what I know about that story, will be seeing much more screentime, What they did to shower her powers, though, was awesome! While on the topic of awesome, Quicksilver, who will be played by a different actor when The Avengers: Age of Ultron is released thanks to Marvel and 20th Century Fox having a war over these characters with neither wanting to budge (just like Sony with Spider-Man), was a real surprise. I don’t think anyone was expecting him to be that cool, especially when you saw the early pictures. That being said, if there was ever a time to use bullet time, it is with him (and this fall when The Flash comes to TV). These new characters weren’t really needed to breath new blood into the franchise, but they didn’t hurt.

What didn’t I like?

Here Kitty. Ellen Page has never been an actress I have cared very much for. Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat is not a character I have any feeling for one way or the other. So, you can see why Page as Kitty does nothing for me. I’m not going to bitch about her, but rather her sudden ability to transport people through time. If I recall from the comic, Kitty was able to transport herself back, but not other people. The fact that they gave her this ability in the film seemed as if it were an easy way to give her some screentime and keep it somewhat close to the source material, as it is obvious if you have the choice between Ellen Page and Hugh Jackman carrying your film, you go with Jackman.

Talk or fight. If you are an avid reader of my posts, then you know I love me some action and, unless it is a drama, could care less about a lot of talking. This film tries to balance out the dialogue and action, but I fear it doesn’t do it as well. However, there are some quite heated interactions between McAvoy’s Xavier and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto that were just as good as an all out brawl. Still, I was hoping we’d get more fun action, but I guess they can’t all be Captain America: The Winter Soldier, can they?

Be quick about it. As I said earlier, the effects on Quicksilver were great, but not everything worked as well. His personality, which actually is the personality he has in the comics, at least from what I’ve read. I’m not necessarily saying that I’d change anything about the way he was portrayed or tone it down when/if they show him as an older version of himself, but maybe not focus so much on him being as much of a dick towards everyone. I did appreciate the mention to Magneto when he broke him out of prison that his mom knew someone who could control metal, that was a nice little easter egg.

The perfect Storm. I have never had any problem with Halle Berry as Storm, except for that weird African accent she tried to have in the first film. Apparently, I’m one of the few, though, because it seems as if no one liked her as Storm. Not to spoil anything, but not only is she not in this film very much (she became pregnant during shooting, if I’m not mistaken, which caused them to change what they were going to do with her character), but she also has something major happen to her that will rock you one way or the other depending on how you feel about her character. Personally, I don’t think it should have happened, but given what was going on with everyone around her at the time, it makes sense.

People are already saying that X-Men: Days of Future Past is the best entry into the franchise. I can see how they think that, but for me this doesn’t stand out as the best. It is still pretty damn good, though. As one of the movie review podcasts I listen to pointed out, this was the triumphant return of Bryan Singer (who directed the first two X-Men films before leaving to do Superman Returns). The fact that Singer brings back the original theme should tell you something about how this film is going to be in comparison to what we got after he left. Hopefully, they won’t scare him off again! Do I recommend this film? Yes! Yes! Yes! It is a must-see before you die! Don’t forget to stick around after the credits for a scene that, if you’re a fan of the comics, you’ll know what it leads to and will more than likely piss yourself!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Knights of Badassdom

Posted in Comedy, Horror, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Three best friends and dedicated roleplayers take to the woods to reenact a dungeons and dragons-like scenario as a live action role-playing game. Trouble arises when a prop spellbook purchased from the internet ends up being a genuine grimoire and they unwittingly conjure up a blood-lusting succubus from hell.

REVIEW:

Renaissance festivals, role-playing games, and other things in the same vein just don’t appeal to me. They never have and they more than likely never will. However, I will gladly watch something that takes the…I guess the word would be community and portrays them in a different light, be it good or bad. Knights of Badassdom does just that, while also honoring the practice.

What is this about?

Venturing deep into the woods to act out a medieval fantasy scenario, three friends forsake their imaginary roles when they face a real-life struggle for survival after inadvertently conjuring an evil succubus.

What did I like?

Cast. The cast list is a virtual “who’s who” of people who may not be well-known to the general public, but are very well-known to the geek community. Well, I guess Peter Dinklage is a bit more mainstream, thanks to Game of Thrones. With all these geek icons, plus the Renaissance fair setting, it is no wonder geek sites were going crazy about this film almost as soon as it was announced!

LARP. I never got into role-playing games. One of the drawbacks of being a military brat is that you move around a lot, so you don’t really get to gather a close-knit group of friends and foster lifelong friendships. So, the few times I did get to play games with a group of kids and become close to them, it was time to move again. As an adult, it just costs too much! I enjoyed seeing these lovable losers act out the equivalent of Dungeons & Dragons and make it look cool, at least to me.

Writing. The writing in this film isn’t the best, but it is competent enough. At many points in the picture, there could have been that moment when it started to talk down to the audience or assume that everyone is in to LARP and lose the non-geek viewers. Too often screenwriters do this and it totally ruins the film for everyone, when all it took was just a bit of thought to appeal to everyone.

What didn’t I like?

Succubus. The summer before last, I had the chance to watch this anime, Rosario + Vampire. It was quite good, I recommend it, if you’re into the goofier side of anime. At any rate, there was a character on there that was a succubus. She was everything that the traditional definition of succubus is. The so-called succubus in this film, though, was more of a vampire and later, a demon. There just seemed to be a lack of succubusing with this creature, as far as I was concerned.

Effects. Being that this is a cheap, independent picture, I can’t really complain about the effects, but I can’t help but mention the fact that they look like no effort was put into them. As a matter of fact, other than the demonic way they made Peter Dinklage look when he comes back from the dead during the death metal song, the effects look like something you would see in Todd & the Book of Pure Evil.

Stackhouse. Ryan Kwanten is not a bad actor, but as he shows here and in Griff the Invisible, his starring potential is limited to having a strong cast around him. Perhaps that is why he works so well on True Blood and not on his own. He just doesn’t have that special something it takes to be a movie star. Looks and abs can only go so far!

So, what did I ultimately think of Knights of Badassdom? It was a bit of a letdown, to be honest with you. Now, I say that and I’m sure you assume that I think it was a bad film, which it most assuredly was not. However, the bad ass aspect was only present in one scene with Summer Glau, and even that was subdued (I say this after watching her on Arrow about 30 minutes ago). Had there been more of that to go along with the LARPing and this would have been a great flick. Do I recommend it? Yes, but only if you are a fellow geek or a fan of one of the actors in this film, as this film is almost exclusively made for us. If you’re not, then it is best for you to move along to another film, sorry.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In an attempt to bury his acorn, Scrat inadvertently causes the break up of Pangaea. Meanwhile Manny and Ellie must deal with the trials and tribulations of their daughter Peaches, now a teenager desiring to fit in with her peers. Ellie is fine about that, but Manny becomes extremely over-protective. Peaches’ only friend is Louis, a molehog, tries to protect her as she tries to approach a mammoth named Ethan whom she has a crush on. Sid’s family returns, only long enough to drop off the elderly Granny before abandoning them both again. When Manny catches Peaches sneaking off to meet Ethan, they argue and fallout. Shortly afterward, a continental break-up separates Manny from the herd. Trapped on a moving chunk of ice with Sid and Diego, Manny has no choice but to ride out the current. Meanwhile a giant land shift encroaches on Ellie, Peaches, and those remaining on land, causing them make their way toward the land bridge.

At sea, violent weather pushes Manny and the others further away from land while Scrat, in a side adventure, finds an acorn that has a treasure map on it that directs him towards an island. Soon, after Manny, Sid, and Diego find Granny (who was sleeping inside a hollow tree stump, on the ice raft), they are captured by a band of pirates sailing on a floating iceberg as a ship led by a Gigantopithecus, Captain Gutt, who attempts to press gang them into his crew; when they refuse Gutt tries to make them walk the plank. Manny, Sid, Diego, Granny and Scrat (who was also taken captive) escape, but cause the ship to sink and Gutt’s first mate, a female sabertooth named Shira joins them out of no choice of her own.

They then find Switchback Cove, which has a current that would direct them home, but after washing ashore a remote island, Shira escapes and tells Gutt and the pirate crew (who are also on the island) of their whereabouts. Gutt, wanting revenge on Manny for sinking his ship, plans an attack. Along with the hyrax inhabitants of the island, Manny coordinates a plan to steal Gutt’s new ship to return home. Shira decides to leave Gutt, when she and Diego begin to fall in love, but she stays behind to ensure Gutt doesn’t catch the herd. Gutt and his pirates quickly make a new iceberg ship to sail after the herd, determined to get revenge. Meanwhile, Scrat, using one of the hyrax’s leaf “planes”, flies off the island, only to be swallowed by a shark.

Peaches finally begins to fit in with the mammoths her age, but accidentally insults Louis, who is referred to as a freak by the others, by saying they are not friends. When she sees the other teens’ careless disregard to the danger, she turns her back on them, warning that their extinction will come sooner than they think.

As they are sailing back, Diego, Sid, and Granny encounter monstrous sirens taking the shapes of what the group finds most attractive. Fortunately, Manny realizes this after hearing a siren, disguised as Ellie tell him something she would never say and saves them at the last second. Later, Scrat encounters a siren, taking on the shapes of Scratte (that Scrat ignores) then an acorn. Scrat immediately runs up and attempts to bury the “acorn”, but is attacked by other sirens and escapes unharmed.

Manny, Sid, Diego, and Granny soon return home only to find the land bridge destroyed in the earthquakes and Gutt and his crew made it there first and have captured Ellie and Peaches. Louis stands up for Peaches and a battle ensues between the herd and the pirates. Shira frees Ellie and helps fend off her former comrades, while Granny’s previously unseen (and claimed imaginary) pet whale, Precious, appears and turns the tables on the rest of the lot. Gutt then attempts to kill Ellie but Peaches, using her possum-like skills, manages to save her. Manny defeats Gutt in a duel and reunites with his family and friends. Later, Gutt encounters a siren taking on the shape of a female of his species and is eaten.With their home destroyed, the entire party and inhabitants then sail to an island that they found to settle down. Manny allows Peaches to “have an adventure” having gained a new respect for her and toward Louis. Shira joins the herd and becomes Diego’s girlfriend, while Louis becomes a hero among the teenage mammoths.

At the end of his journey, Scrat discovers the island on the map, know as Scratlantis (a mock up of Atlantis), but his uncontrollable urge to hunt acorns in the acorn-rich city inadvertently causes the entire island to sink and Scrat is ejected into what is now known as Death Valley.

REVIEW:

I have issues with films that just release sequels for the sake of making money, as opposed to telling a good story. My feelings toward such films turns to rage and hatred when it seems as if each film gets worse. Ice Age: Continental Drift is said by many critics to be the best of a series that should have died along with the dinosaurs.

What is this about?

The animated Ice Age series tacks on a game-changing fourth act when unexpected events set the continent in motion, sending Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid (John Leguizamo) away from Ellie (Queen Latifah) and the herd and into the vastness of the open sea. The world around them is forever changed, but at least one thing remains the same: their ability to make the most of extreme climate change.

What did I like?

Pirates. I hear everyone raving about Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones, but I’ve only seen one episode since we don’t have HBO. I best know him as Simon Barsinister in Underdog and the male nanny in a few episodes of Nip/Tuck. The guy has some real acting chops, as he puts on display here as the pirate captain Gutt. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of the other Ice Age films, but Gutt and the other pirates are something to remember about this film, a much needed shot in the arm. Someone should consider a spinoff!

Scrat. A lot of people would argue that Scrat is the best thing about this franchise. You’ll get no argument from me. The things this little squirrel does just to get that acorn are highlights of the film. I just wish there was more of them, and not just what equates to a bunch of shorts featuring him.

Animation. Going back to the first Ice Age and comparing the animation to this one, it is quite obvious that two things have happened. Technology has advanced quite a ways and the animators have gotten better at what they do, because this is some gorgeous computer animation, which is saying something coming from me, someone who isn’t a fan of CG.

What didn’t I like?

Too many. It seems like in each film, they keep adding on characters. At some point, they just need to stop because, as we can see here, it hard to give each of them decent screen time. Take for instance, Ellie, she was just left over on land with her daughter, who had her own little story going on. If not for some motherly advice moments, she probably wouldn’t have been seen until the very end, if at all, once we got past that point. All the little ancillary characters that we saw in previous films and had actual relevance are there in the beginning and show up at the end as if they were a major part of the production, but up to that moment, who really even thought about them?

Rappers do not equal actors. Rappers Nicki Minaj and Drake somehow managed to get cast in this. Nicki Minaj is quickly making her way up my most hated list, mainly because she has no talent and is on a show judging singers (when she’s supposedly a rapper). Her lines were painful to listen to, but I think has I seen this before this season of American Idol started, the images of her “judging” wouldn’t be so ingrained in m head that I can’t give her fair judgement. Drake on the other hand was actually an actor at one time. It came to attention this week that he had a fairly major role in the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: Next Generation. The guy has talent, I just don’t think this was the right role for him. Sure he’s not Lil’ Wayne or Wiz Khalifa, but he still doesn’t exactly scream clean-cut, family entertainer. On that point, go back to when Queen Latifah was a rapper, and you could’ve said that same thing about her.

Stagnant. For me, this film felt a lot like a franchise that is stuck in neutral. It wants to keep going, but doesn’t know how to kick it into the next gear. Personally, I think the way this ended would be a way to end the franchise (same can be said for the others, I’m sure). If they want this to keep going, then do it with new characters. It is high time Manny, Sid, Diego, & company are put to rest. Of course, it will be just our luck that these films keep going, forgetting what they were originally about, and the next thing we know there are about 50 sequels that no one cares about. Seriously, all those sequels to The Land Before Time did was tarnish the legacy of the original…and I believe they are still making those things!!!

Is Ice Age: Continental Drift the best of the franchise? Perhaps, but as I stated earlier, I can barely remember anything about those previous films. This one at least has some memorable moments, highlighted by some great action scenes. Is this enough to justify the need for this to have been made or that this franchise keep going? The answer to that is an emphatic no. Kids will love this, though, and adults will get a kick out of some points here and there, but as a whole, I wouldn’t really recommend this, unless you’re doing an Ice Age marathon.

3 out of 5 stars

Death at a Funeral

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

PLOT:

The film revolves around the funeral ceremony for the father of Aaron (Chris Rock) and Ryan (Martin Lawrence). Aaron, the older son, lives with his wife Michelle at his parent’s home. Aaron and Michelle have been trying to buy their own home and have children but have been unsuccessful. Aaron envies Ryan because Ryan is a successful writer, while he has not had his novel published, and resents his brother because he would rather spend money on a first class ticket from New York to L.A. than help him pay for the funeral expenses.

Elaine (Zoe Saldana) and her fiancee Oscar (James Marsden) are on their way to pick up her brother Jeff before heading to the funeral. To ease Oscar’s nerves, she gives him what she believes is Valium. Jeff later reveals to Elaine that it is actually a hallucinogenic drug he’s concocted for his friend. Chaos ensues when Oscar hallucinates that the coffin is moving; he knocks it over, which pushes the body out of the coffin.

Aaron is approached by an unknown guest, a little person named Frank (Peter Dinklage), who reveals himself to be the secret lover of his deceased father. Frank shows Aaron photos as proof and threatens to reveal them to Aaron’s mother unless he is paid $30,000. Aaron tells Ryan, who suggest Aaron pay the money because Ryan claims he’s buried in debt. While Aaron and Ryan meet with him to pay him, Frank starts to deride Aaron’s ability as writer and Aaron refuses to pay. Frank gets angry and tries to leave the room; Ryan attacks Frank and both Aaron and Ryan tie Frank up to prevent him from leaving. Norman comes in and sees what happened. He gives Frank what they also believe is Valium to try and calm him down and Jeff tells them it’s not Valium.

While Jeff and Norman, who are supposed to be watching Frank, get distracted by Uncle Russell, Frank jumps off the coffee table and hits his head. With Aaron, Ryan, Jeff, and Norman believing Frank is dead, they plan to put him in the coffin. While everyone is outside watching the naked Oscar on the roof threatening to jump because he saw Elaine unwillingly get kissed by Derek, Aaron and Ryan put Frank in the coffin.

Elaine calms Oscar down by revealing she is pregnant. With everyone back inside, they continue the eulogy. While Aaron awkwardly tries to do his speech, Frank starts banging on the coffin and suddenly emerges from it. The pictures fall out of his pocket and Cynthia sees the pictures, screams, calls Frank a bastard, and starts to attack him. Aaron yells for everyone’s attention as he tells them that his father was a good man with flaws like everyone else.

The film ends with Aaron and Ryan saying goodbye while Ryan gets a ride to the airport by little Martina, who Ryan has been trying to get with all day. Aaron and Michelle are finally alone and going to try and have a baby. Aaron asks where Uncle Russell is and Michelle tells him that she gave him what she believes is Valium to calm him down. In the final scene Uncle Russell is on the roof naked.

REVIEW:

First of all, let me say that if I ever go to a funeral as dysfunctional as this, I demand to never see any of these people ever again. Having said that, it is still hilarious to watch these events unfold and hilarity ensue.

Death at a Funeral is hands down one of the funniest films I’ve seen in quite some time. Now, I won’t sit here and say that it is well written, but rather the comedy comes from the most unexpected places.

For instance, who in their right mind would think Danny Glover would be one of the funniest members of a cast consisting of Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan,  and Martin Lawrence? That is the case, though. He provides your typical grumpy old man humor that works in this family atmosphere.

The plot is a fairly simple one. The main character’s father has dies and the funeral is being held. With a funeral comes all kids of headaches, especially when you have to pay for everything and make sure it all goes smoothly. Unfortunately, things don’t work that way.

I’m not so sure about this cast. I mean, separately, they are great, but together, they either work or they don’t.

First off, let me mention Luke Wilson. This guy seems like he was just there to be the “token white guy” in a cast full of African-Americans (I’ll get to James Marsden and Peter Dinklage in a second). If that was his purpose, then it works, but you have to wonder what exactly he was chosen for. I mea, he is much more talented than this. Of course, he doesn’t exactly give a bad performance. He just seems to be ab it out of place.

Chris Rock seems to be playing the straight man here. Remember the days when you would see him in a movie and expect some over the top loudness, rather than some guy who seems to have all the life sucked out of him? Rock needs to go back to that.

Martin Lawrence, at least, knows what has made him a star. His character is what you would expect…over the top and larger than life. For Lawrence, it works.

Regina Hall is gorgeous as ever. The fact that she is in “heat” for the entire film just makes her that much more desirable. I’m not so sure about her character, though. I think that has more to do with her lack of character development. At least she wasn’t a nagging, overemotional wife.

James Marsden really steals the show. He is by far the funniest guy in the entire cast…at least his character is written that way. His reaction to the vallum/acid pills leads to some great comedic moments and pretty much moves the film forward because before then it was dying a slow and painful death.

Zoe Saldana is as stick thin as ever, but at least she isn’t a nag or bitch like she ends up being in her other roles.

Tracy Morgan, like Martin, does what he does best. It works for him, so why mess with perfection?

Peter Dinklage is a totally random character who is essential to the film’s plot. The situation he’s put in prove how versatile (and humble) he can be. Although, I have to wonder what made them cast him, as opposed to a “full size” actor.

Death at a Funeral will have you rolling on the floor laughing in some parts. At the same time, it tries to get too serious at some points. Actually, the only serious part of this flick is Chris Rock. Everyone else seems to behaving fun. So, if you can get over Rock being a stick in the mud, then I highly recommend this flick.

4 out of 5 stars