Archive for Sam Worthington

Sabotage

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

John “Breacher” Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is the leader of an elite team of DEA agents from the Special Ops Division, which includes James “Monster” Murray (Sam Worthington) and his wife Lizzy Murray (Mireille Enos), Joe “Grinder” Philips (Joe Manganiello), Julius “Sugar” Edmonds (Terrence Howard), Eddie “Neck” Jordan (Josh Holloway), Tom “Pyro” Roberts (Max Martini), Bryce “Tripod” McNeely (Kevin Vance), and “Smoke” Jennings (Mark Schlegel).

During a raid on a cartel warehouse, in which Smoke is killed, the team steals $10 million of the cartel’s money, hides it in the sewer pipes for future retrieval and distribution, and blows up the rest of the cartel’s cash to cover their tracks. However, the heist is discovered, the money disappears, and their superior Floyd Demel (Martin Donovan) suspends them while the DEA investigates the team for the theft. After several months without any confessions or evidence of their participation, the team is reinstated.

Breacher later finds out that Lizzy has become addicted to drugs and that her marriage to Monster is failing.

Pyro is killed after an unidentified stranger tows his trailer onto a railroad crossing and is rammed by a train while he’s unconscious. Atlanta Police homicide detective Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) and her partner Darius Jackson (Harold Perrineau) are assigned to the case and interrogate Pyro’s teammates.

Brentwood notes Neck is aggressively avoiding interrogation, and Breacher accompanies her to Neck’s house hopeful he will cooperate. When they arrive, they find him nailed to the ceiling and disemboweled. Brentwood recognizes the execution as the modus operandi of the cartels, leading Breacher to assume the cartel is hunting the team over the stolen money.

Breacher and Brentwood visit Tripod, who left the DEA after being suspended, and find him dead after a shootout in which he killed an assailant Breacher identified as a cartel enforcer. Monster later visits Brentwood, who is suspicious of Breacher, and tells her that Breacher’s family was kidnapped by the cartels, who videotaped their murders and later sent the tape to Breacher along with the severed body parts of his wife and son. Breacher spent months searching for his family’s killers before the team convinced him to move on. Brentwood apologizes to Breacher, and they wind up having sex.

Jackson traces the dead enforcer’s cellphone to a cartel safe-house, which is raided by Breacher and his team. However, the enforcers are not there. They are later found dead at the bottom of a river near Tripod’s house, and Brentwood realizes that they were killed before Pyro and Neck, meaning someone is framing the cartel for targeting the team.

Breacher reunites the team to tell them what happened, and Lizzy lashes out and reveals she’s been having an affair with Sugar. Grinder later confesses to Brentwood that they stole the money. Breacher and Brentwood meet with Grinder in a public setting to discuss what should happen next when Grinder is shot dead by Lizzy, who is behind the murders along with Sugar. Lizzy then meets with Monster to discuss her escape. Monster destroys her passport to prevent her escape, and Lizzy slashes him with a knife, killing him.

Breacher and Brentwood go to Lizzy’s house and find Monster’s body stuffed in a refrigerator. Lizzy calls Breacher, pretending to be alone, and arranges a meeting at a parking garage. Breacher goes there with Brentwood hidden, and they engage in a shootout with Lizzy and Sugar, who attempt to escape. Following a car chase through the Atlanta’s streets, Sugar & Lizzy’s truck ends up crashing into a tow truck, decapitating Sugar.

Breacher and Brentwood confront a dying Lizzy, who accuses the team of stealing the money behind their backs, motivating her to seek revenge. Brentwood is puzzled, assuming Lizzy had stolen the money. Breacher tells the dying Lizzy that he took the money. Lizzy tries to reach for her weapon and Breacher kills her. Breacher tells Brentwood to be “a good girl and walk away.” The local cops arrive and Breacher disappears.

Weeks later, Breacher is in Mexico, where he uses the stolen money to bribe a corrupt police official into helping him identify Brujo, the man who murdered his family. Breacher finds him in a Mexican bar and kills him and others loyal to him in a violent shootout, during which he is shot in the chest. Having avenged his family, a seriously-wounded Breacher sits at a table, takes a shot of whiskey, lights up one last cigar and smiles as he hears the approaching sirens.

REVIEW:

Since returning to acting, Schwarzenegger’s film choices have been…questionable. Some have been good, some just were there so he could spout a few of his catchphrases and others were just plain bad. Sabotage looks like it will fall in the good category, but we will have to see.

What is this about?

A crack team of DEA agents plots a daring heist, making off with $10 million in drug money. They soon find themselves targets of an unknown killer.

What did I like?

Mellow with age. Schwarzenegger and Stallone were huge, over-the-top action stars in the 80s. Fast forward 30 years and you will see they both have mellowed out. I do believe, though, that this is the first time I’ve actually seen Schwarzenegger act. Is he any good? Eh…that’s debatable, but he’s competent enough, I can say that. Fact is, the guy has realized times have changed and he’s gotten older, so bringing it back down a level or two is a good thing. Having said that, I think that if he hit the gym hard, he’s be back to his old shape in no time and then…YIKES!!!

Violence. Let’s see…cops with guns and the Mexican drug cartel. What should we expect at some point? That’s right! Lots of blood to be spilled and shots fired. My expectations were met and then some, especially in the last couple of acts, because this thing just gets crazy at that point. For me, violence, especially of this magnitude, should not just be crowbarred into a film, it has to fit the tone. In this case, it works and works very well, but in another film, perhaps not so much.

Is that a plot? Believe it or not, there is a plot about Schwarzenegger’s family being murdered, stolen money, what it’s for, and the mysterious circumstances under which members of this team are dying. A bit more serious and complex film that what you would expect from a bunch of muscled up guys with guns, but it does work better than it doesn’t. I was invested in the story, if for no other reason than to find out why these cops would risk their careers to steal $10,000, especially none of them seem like the rogue cop type.

What didn’t I like?

Once upon a time in Mexico. In this epilogue of a scene, Schwarzenegger goes to Mexico to handle some business. I wouldn’t have a problem with it, except that it feels like a different film. Before this happens, the plot with the money and the murder of his team is resolved, making this feel sort of tacked on. I feel that they could have merged the two together or just done a montage, rather than having an added 10-15 minutes of film that just didn’t seem connected.

Likable characters? Shouldn’t there have been at least one of these characters that we actually were able to relate to? Well, there wasn’t. The closest one was perhaps Schwarzenegger, but even he was very cold and distant, which was explained later in the film. I don’t know, I guess I just would have liked for there to have been one person that was an avatar for the audience, if you will, rather than just a bunch of assholes.

Comic relief. I am grateful for the moments of comic relief that are sprinkled in here and there. A flick like this needs to lighten up sometimes. Thing is, I don’t think they did enough of it. Seems to me that on this team, there should have been at least one guy that would be the jokester, I nominate Terrence Howard, but there wasn’t. They were all so serious, and I think that took me out of the film. Obviously, these guys love their job, but are we to believe that on a personal level they don’t joke around (other than giving each other penis tattoos on their back)?

Final verdict on Sabotage? It is somewhat decent, but I don’t believe that I loved it. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I liked it more than your average film. Nothing in the picture is going to stick with you and, I believe, if not for Schwarzenegger, this would probably have been a direct-to-DVD or Netflix release. Still, as always, I’m sure some viewers will fall in love with it and others will scorch the earth (or at least the message boards) with their hatred for this film. Do I recommend it? No, this is not a film that is worth going out of you way to see, but if you happen to catch clips of it somewhere, I can’t fault you for that.

3 out of 5 stars

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Man on a Ledge

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , on September 19, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In New York City, Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) checks in to the Roosevelt Hotel under the false name of Walker, goes to his hotel room on the 21st floor, and climbs on the ledge, apparently ready to commit suicide. The crowd below sees him and calls the police. They isolate the area, with Dante Marcus (Titus Welliver) controlling the crowd, while Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns) tries to talk with Nick. However, Nick says he will only speak to negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), who is on a leave of absence after failing to convince a depressed policeman not to jump from the Brooklyn Bridge a month earlier.

Lydia arrives at the hotel room and manages to acquire Nick’s fingerprints from a cigarette they share. Dougherty has them analyzed and discovers that Nick is an ex-policeman who was arrested for stealing a $40 million diamond from businessman David Englander (Ed Harris). Nick was given a 25-year sentence, but after being allowed to attend his father’s funeral a month earlier, escaped from his guards. Nick, however, maintains that he is innocent and reveals that Englander used to employ cops to protect his multi-floor jewelry business. One day, while Nick was escorting Englander and the diamond, he was knocked unconscious by two men in ski masks. He awakened to find that Englander had framed him for stealing the diamond in order to get the insurance money, as he lost $30 million with Lehman Brothers and more money when the real estate market crashed.

Unbeknownst to the police, Nick is merely distracting them while his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and Joey’s girlfriend Angie (Génesis Rodríguez) break into Englander’s upper floor jewelry vault in the building across the street to steal the diamond and prove Nick’s innocence. Meanwhile, Dougherty informs Marcus of Nick’s identity, and Marcus orders the security of the jewelry store to check the vault. Although Joey and Angie are able to evade them, they don’t find the diamond. They set off the alarms, tricking Englander into retrieving the diamond from another safe that they did not know about, and return to his office, where they ambush him and steal the diamond at gunpoint.

Meanwhile, Nick’s ex-partner, Mike Ackerman (Anthony Mackie), arrives at the hotel with evidence that Nick is planning something and demands to be allowed into the hotel room. Lydia does not trust him, and Dougherty backs her up. Ackerman claims he has found bomb schematics in Nick’s hideout and is convinced that he will detonate an explosive somewhere. While the crowd is evacuated by the anti-bomb squad, Lydia, believing in Nick’s innocence, calls Internal Affairs and discovers that three of the cops employed by Englander were suspected of being corrupt; a deceased officer called Walker, Ackerman, and Marcus.

Englander calls Marcus, one of the men who helped him frame Nick, and has him capture Joey and Angie, but they have already given the diamond to a hotel concierge who passes it to Nick as he is being chased by the tactical team throughout the hotel. Marcus chases Nick to the roof where he orders Lydia to be arrested for obstruction. Englander brings Joey and Angie, and threatens to throw Joey off the roof if Nick does not give him the diamond. Nick does, and Englander leaves. Meanwhile, Lydia escapes custody and rushes back to the roof.

There, Marcus holds Joey at gunpoint in order to force Nick to jump off the roof, silencing him, when Ackerman arrives and shoots Marcus who in turn shoots back at Ackerman, wounding him. Nick rushes to Ackerman’s side, and Ackerman apologizes, claiming that although he helped Englander to fake the diamond’s theft, he never knew Nick would be framed. Marcus survives as he is wearing a bulletproof vest and is preparing to kill Nick when Lydia arrives and shoots him.

Nick jumps from the roof onto an air mattress set up earlier by the police, catches up to Englander before he enters in his limo, beats him, and pulls the missing diamond from his pocket, revealing the truth. Englander is arrested, while Nick is proved innocent and released after intervention by the governor. He meets Joey, Angie, and Lydia at a bar, where he introduces Lydia to the hotel concierge, who is Nick’s father—having faked his death in order to help his son. Joey proposes to Angie with a diamond ring stolen from Englander’s vault, and they all celebrate together.

REVIEW:

Two interesting tidbits about this Man on a Ledge. It has been in my Netflix queue for some time, but I kept pushing it down, for some reason and I decided to go ahead and give it a shot after seeing an ad for the DVD while watching an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air where Will and Carlton are out on a ledge.

What is this about?

When fugitive ex-cop Nick Cassidy steps onto a window ledge high above a busy Manhattan street, police psychologist Lydia Anderson tries to talk him down. Soon Anderson suspects that there’s more to Cassidy’s stunt than meets the eye. Will the truth be uncovered?

What did I like?

Don’t blink. Like most films of this nature, I expected there to be lots of action, which there was. However, I didn’t expect it to be almost Statham-esque in its delivery. Truthfully, I was looking for lots of exposition downtime, and never really got that, which is a huge selling point for me!

Random hot chick. I think we need to keep an eye on Genesis Rodriguez. The girl is seriously hot and apparently used Will Ferrel’s Casa de mi Padre as a stepping stone to launch her career here in the US (although this was her official debut). That being said, I can’t really she was needed for any other purpose than to be the random hot chick, which works for me, but some people may not feel the same way.

Suspense. I truly have to admire the way this film is crafted. We, as the audience, really feel the suspense of this guy hanging out there on the ledge, not knowing if he’s going to fall off, jump, or what.

What didn’t I like?

Closer. Kyra Sedgewick every know and then shows up as a reporter and I have to ask why. Not because of her acting, but why she was cast in such a trivial role. Does she owe the director a favor? Has she had dreams of being a reporter in the past? What’s the deal? Why was she so wasted when she could have been so much more?

Diamond. Unless I happened to look away when they were showing it, I don’t recall actually seeing the diamond. It isn’t a requirement to see the thing, but it just seems as if that is something that should have done.

So hard to get good help. When we first meet Joey and Angie, they come off as a couple of bungling crooks who are sure to do more harm than good in this caper, but they quickly turn it around. The problem I have with them is the dynamic shift. I was enjoying the comedic dynamic they initially had and don’t understand why they felt the need to lose that. Comic relief is always a plus!

Man on a Ledge goes down as one of the surprise hits of the year for me. While I’m not going to rush out and buy this like I will The Avengers when it comes out next week, I did fully enjoy it from beginning to end. I say this is one that you should not miss, even if you think the title is a bit too simple. Trust me, you can’t judge a film by its title…sometimes. Give this one a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

Wrath of the Titans

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ten years after defeating the Kraken, Perseus (Sam Worthington), the demigod son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), now lives as a fisherman with his 10-year-old son, Helius (John Bell) and has been widowed by the death of Io. One night, Perseus is visited by Zeus, who tells him that the powers of the gods are fading and the walls of the underworld prison of Tartarus are breaking due to the lack of devotion from humans. Zeus states they will need armies to combat the threat, but Perseus shows little interest and refuses to get involved.

Afterwards, Zeus travels to Tartarus to meet with his brothers Hades (Ralph Fiennes), Poseidon (Danny Huston), and his son Ares (Edgar Ramirez). He tells Hades they must forget the past and unite to rebuild Tartarus’ walls, but Hades rejects his offer and orders his minions to attack. They fatally injure Poseidon, and Ares betrays Zeus by taking him prisoner and stealing his Thunderbolt. In an exchange to remain immortal and powerful, Hades and Ares plan to drain Zeus’ divine power to revive Kronos, the father of Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. They capture and hold Zeus prisoner in chains and the walls of Tartarus break, unleashing monsters into the world.

After slaying a Chimera that attacks his village, Perseus takes Helius to the Mount of Idols, so they can speak to Zeus, but the dying Poseidon arrives instead. He informs Perseus that Hades and Ares are holding Zeus in Tartarus, and tells him to meet with his demigod son Agenor (Toby Kebbell) to find the fallen god Hephaestus, who knows the way into Tartarus. Poseidon then gives Perseus his Trident before succumbing to his injuries and crumbling into dust. Perseus flies on Pegasus to the campsite of Queen Andromeda’s army. The queen is the princess Perseus saved a decade ago; Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) has imprisoned Agenor for stealing crown jewels, but Perseus negotiates his release by asking the reluctant Agenor to come along in their plan.

Perseus, Andromeda, Agenor, and a group of soldiers set out at sea to find Hephaestus, with Agenor explaining that Hephaestus created the three great weapons that Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon wield: Zeus’ Thunderbolt, Hades’ Pitchfork, and Poseidon’s Trident, and that together they form the Spear of Triam, the only weapon that can defeat Kronos. Agenor uses Poseidon’s trident to direct the boat to Hephaestus’s island, where they encounter three Cyclopes: Brontes, Steropes, and Arges, who attack them. When Perseus shows them the trident, they lead the group to Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), the smith god. He explains that he has a map to navigate the path though a deathly long labyrinth leading deep into Tartarus. He leads them to the door to the Labyrinth, where they are attacked by Ares, who found them after one of the soldiers, Korrina (Lily James), prayed to him. Ares is jealous of Perseus’ honor from his own father Zeus and kills all of the soldiers while Hephaestus opens the door and then sacrifices himself so that Perseus, Andromeda, and Agenor can enter the door before it closes.

Agenor tries to use the map to direct them, but the Labyrinth continually shifts and at one point nearly crushes them. Perseus gets cut off from the group and encounters and kills the Minotaur before finding that he is in the exit of the labyrinth to Tartarus. Eventually, the group manages to reunite and find Kronos becoming powerful. Meanwhile, Zeus has been almost entirely drained of power as Kronos starts to awaken. Zeus apologizes to Hades for banishing him to the Underworld and asks his forgiveness, as he has forgiven Hades for his actions. Though initially surprised, Hades has a change of heart and decides to help Zeus and stop Kronos, but Ares is still angry with his father and Perseus intervenes. Perseus arrives and uses the Trident to free Zeus. As they are escaping, Ares throws the Pitchfork into Zeus’s back, thus mortally wounding Zeus. To escape the charging Kronos, Perseus and Zeus use their powers to teleport them back to the Tyrene pass, where battle plans are made.

Perseus, Andromeda and Agenor carry a weakened Zeus down to the base of the mountain where Andromeda’s army is gathered. Although the Trident and Pitchfork are now in his possession, Perseus still needs the Thunderbolt from Ares to have the power to defeat Kronos. Perseus intentionally prays to Ares, challenging his brother to a final fight at the Temple of the Gods, which Ares happily accepts.

At the temple, Perseus finds out Ares has kidnapped Helius, who was brought to watch Perseus die in the fight. Ares easily overpowers Perseus, before pushing him into the ruins in the temple, but is distracted when Helius secretly tries to challenge him by pointing a sword at him, giving Perseus the chance to strike back anew. After a struggle, Perseus kills Ares with the Thunderbolt and combines the gods’ weapons into the Spear of Triam.

Meanwhile, Andromeda’s army is overwhelmed by Kronos’ army of demonic Makhai, but Hades arrives to revive Zeus. He and Hades reconcile, and Hades shares some of his immortality with Zeus, making Hades older and Zeus younger, and together they use what power they have left to defeat the Tartarian army. Kronos then appears and begins to attack the human army with lava and fire. Zeus and Hades attack him, giving Perseus the opportunity to fly down into Kronos’ throat and pierce the weapon into his heart. Kronos lets out one last blast to try to kill the two, but Zeus jumps into the way, pushes Hades and takes the explosion.

Perseus meets with Zeus and Hades; a fatally wounded Zeus advises Perseus to use his power wisely, stating that the time of the gods is over. He thanks Perseus for his bravery before finally turning to dust. Hades is now mortal, his powers spent, though he states he might be better off as such before heading off to parts unknown. Perseus reunites with Andromeda and kisses her as they prepare for possible Titan reprisal. Knowing that there are still monsters to fight, Perseus decides to train Helius to be a soldier and build a new kingdom

REVIEW:

I don’t know who it was that decided to start this remake fad, but they need to be tortured to the point they are teetering on death! I’m talking medieval stuff, people! What brings on these dark thoughts? Well, Wrath of the Titans is a sequel to a remake of one of the greatest sword and sandal flicks I’ve seen. A sequel that no one was really clamoring for, mind you, and it was still made…in 3D!!!

What is this about?

The film picks up about 10 years after the previous film. Perseus is now living the life of a simple fisherman with his son. One day he is visited by his father, Zeus, who tells him that Hades is trying to release the Titans and he needs his, along with another demigod, Agenor, son of Poseidon, to stop them. As one can guess, Perseus is none too thrilled about this offer and refuses to get involved until a Chimera attacks his village. With the aid of Andromeda and her men, Perseus tracks down Agenor and they head off to see Hephaestus in an attempt to find a way into Tartarus. Hephaestus tells them that the only way in is through the nigh unsolvable labyrinth, which he built with only one way out. When they reach Hades, they free Zeus, but are attacked by Hades, who is now consumed with carrying out the plan Hades started. Will Perseus and company be able to stop him?

What did I like?

Action. In Clash of the Titans (2010), they seemed to leave out all the action in favor of boring dialogue. This time around, they learned from their mistakes and upped the ante. The added emphasis on the action really made this much more enjoyable.

Bubo. In the last film, Bubo, the owl from the original Clash of the Titans, made a quick cameo, but the character was replaced by Gemma Arterton’s Io. She didn’t come back for this one, but Bubo makes a couple of appearances which I found as a nice gesture of respect towards the original, especially since this is a film that, quite frankly, has nothing to do with the original anymore.

Build-up. The way the filmmakers built up Kronos, not really revealing him until the last act made it that more impactful when he does appear. Couple that with his demonic minions (the things you saw wrecking havoc in the trailer) and the obvious degeneration of the world at the time and I was sold.

What didn’t I like.

Perseus. Sam Worthington may have taken a few acting lessons since the last film, but he still has a way to go before he can stop seeming so wooden on the screen. Even in the tender moments with his son and Zeus, I didn’t feel any different emotions from him that what I felt when he was fighting enemies or dodging the dangers of the labyrinth.

Hephaestus. Kudos for making him the slightly schizophrenic smith god that we know him to be. However, I have to say casting Bill Nighy and then killing him off so quickly was quite pointless.

Comic relief. I will never complain about the use of comic relief. We can always use a laugh now and then. They brought in some comedy this time around and it works, but the characters that bring in this comedy aren’t used as well as they could be and Perseus, in my opinion, should not be cracking jokes. It just doesn’t fit his personality.

Wrath of the Titans is a much improved outing than its predecessor. More action and less drama is the formula to use in this sword and sandal genre. Who ever it was that made the first film should have known that. No, this isn’t a great picture, but I would be more willing to see this again than its predecessor. Neither compares to the original, though. Do I recommend it? Sure, it is a good action flick.

3  1/3 out of 5 stars

Terminator Salvation

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2003, Doctor Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter) of Cyberdyne Systems convinces death row inmate Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) to sign his body over for medical research following his execution by lethal injection. One year later the Skynet system is activated, perceives humans as a threat to its own existence, and eradicates much of humanity in the event known as “Judgment Day” (as depicted in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines).

In 2018, John Connor (Christian Bale) leads a Resistance attack on a Skynet base. John discovers human prisoners and schematics for a new type of Terminator incorporating living tissue, but he is the only apparent survivor of the attack after the base is destroyed in a nuclear explosion. However, Marcus emerges from the wreckage of the base and proceeds on foot to Los Angeles.

John returns to Resistance headquarters located aboard a nuclear submarine and tells General Ashdown (Michael Ironside), the current leader, of his discovery. Meanwhile, the Resistance has discovered a radio frequency believed to be capable of sending an order to shut down Skynet machines. They plan to launch an offensive against the Skynet base in San Francisco in four days, in response to an intercepted “kill list” indicating that Skynet plans to kill the Resistance’s command staff in a week’s time. John learns that his own name is second on the list, following a civilian named Kyle Reese. The Resistance leaders are unaware of Kyle’s importance, but John knows that it is because Kyle will later become his father (as depicted in The Terminator). John meets with his wife Kate (Bryce Dallas Howard) and his subordinate Barnes (Common), and transmits a radio broadcast to Resistance members and surviving civilians around the world.

Arriving in the ruins of Los Angeles, Marcus is saved from a T-600 Terminator by Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and his mute child companion Star (Jadagrace Berry). Kyle informs Marcus about the war between humans and Skynet. Hearing John’s radio broadcast, the three leave Los Angeles in search of the Resistance. They survive an attack, but Kyle, Star, and several other humans are taken prisoner.

Two Resistance A-10 airplanes are shot down when they try to intercept the machine transport and its escorts. Marcus locates downed pilot Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) and they make their way to John’s base, but Marcus is wounded by a magnetic land mine. Attempting to save his life, the Resistance fighters discover that he is in fact a cyborg, with a mechanical endoskeleton, circuitry, and a partially artificial cerebral cortex. Marcus believes himself to be human, but John thinks that Marcus has been sent to kill him, and orders his destruction. However, Blair helps Marcus escape from the base. During the pursuit, Marcus saves John’s life from Skynet hydrobots, and the two make a bargain: Marcus will enter Skynet’s headquarters and attempt to help John rescue Kyle and the other prisoners.

John pleads with Ashdown to delay the attack, but Ashdown refuses and relieves John of his command. However, the Resistance forces disobey Ashdown’s orders and await John’s signal. Marcus enters the base, interfaces with the computer, and disables the perimeter defenses so that John can infiltrate the cell block and release the human prisoners. Marcus discovers that he was created by Skynet in order to lure John to the base; when the Resistance launches its attack, John will be killed, achieving the goal that Skynet had failed to accomplish so many times. The radio signal that the Resistance’s plan depends on is a ruse. Skynet uses the signal to track down and destroy the command submarine with the Resistance leaders aboard.

Marcus tears out the hardware linking him to Skynet and assists John in battling a new T-800 model 101 Terminator. John is mortally wounded during the fight, but succeeds in destroying the Skynet base by rigging several Terminator fuel cells to explode, detonating them as he, Marcus, Kyle, and Star are airlifted out. Kate attempts to save John’s life, but his heart is too damaged. Marcus offers his own heart for transplant, sacrificing himself to save John. Recovering, John radios to the other Resistance fighters that though this battle has been won, the war is far from over.

REVIEW:

 Following Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, anyone with half a brain just knew that the franchise was done…right? Well, someone decided that there needed to be another one. –rolls eyes–

Terminator Salvation takes us into the future, where John Connor isn’t quite the leader of the resistance and the T-800 Terminator’s are just being created. In other words, with this film, they were hoping they could drag it out and make some serious bank, forcing the studios to do as many as they can until we get John Connor to lead the resistance.

This franchise very well should have ended with Terminator 2: Judgement Day, if you ask me. With these last two films, all they seem to have been doing is making a sad attempt to milk the proverbial cow, at the expense of what was once a great group of characters.

That little rant aside, what is this “chapter” about? Well, we are now in the year 2018, and John Connor is fighting with the Resistance. That’s about 90% of the movie, right there. The interesting part, though, is that there is this random guy who we saw killed at the beginning of the film, in 2003, suddenly going around helping people, namely Kyle Reese.

I had avoided this picture, mainly because I think Christian Bale should rot in the deepest pit in hell hanging by the tips of his fingernails while each millimeter of his skin is pulled of slowly. Can you tell I’m not a fan of Bale?

It turns out that aside from being an obvious ploy to milk the franchise that this film wasn’t as bad as I thought. Strangely enough, though, the special effects were better in the original The Terminator, which is quite said when you think about how a film from the early 80s has better effects than something from 2009.

The action here is ok, but it just seems like its something we’ve seen before, especially the climactic battle. Do we really need to see another terminator battle in a factory?!?

I’ve already mention my hatred for Bale, so you can guess how glad I was that he wasn’t really featured as much as one would think John Connor would be.

Sam Worthington, who, up until now, I thought was nothing more than just some random action guy they plucked out of Australia, was quite impressive as Marcus. Not only did he make you belive he didn’t know he was a Terminator, but his emotions toward Blair, and something he does at the end really make endear him to the audience.

Anton Yelchin has really come a long way as an actor since I first saw him in Charlie Bartlett. The guy plays a young Kyle Reese here. It is obvious he did his research on the previous gy to play Kyle. Many of the mannerisms are there, along with his own interpretation of the character.

Bryce Dallas Howard doesn’t really do much here except look pregnant and be a doctor, however, she isn’t a downgrade from Claire Danes. If anything, she may, in fact, be an upgrade.

Moon Bloodgood seems to be the Sarah Connor type, except she actually seems to have feelings, as proven when she releases Marcus. How dare a woman show emotion in this franchise, right?

Helena Bonham Carter is in this weird role as the creator, I guess, of the terminators was odd, bt made sense.

If you’ve ever seen The Matrix: Revolutions, then you know the kind of anticlimactic tone that happens when you see the world that the antagonists have been coming from. That is the kind of vibe this film has.

Sure, its cool to see this word in flashbacks and all, but to have an entire film set in this apocalyptic world just takes something away from what the first two film left us in shock and awe about.

Before I conclude this post, I have to say that there is one really cool effect. We see the beginning of the T-800 model terminators. As you know, this is the model that was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the time this was filmed, he was governing California, and let’s face it, he doesn’t have the body he did back in ’85, so the got some actor and CGI Arnold’s face. It really is a cool effect, and I actually got chills when he showed up and they played the Terminator theme. Definitely the highlight of the film.

So, what is the final verdict on Terminator Salvation? Well, if this was supposed to be the salvation of the franchise, it is doomed. While there were terminators abound, it just didn’t have the feel of a Terminator film. I made the comparison to the third Matrix film earlier. That film didn’t feel like a Matrix flick, either. Should you watch this, is the big question? Look, if you’re a Terminator fan, it won’t hurt. It actually isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, bt don’t expect the greatness of the first two films.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Long ago, three Olympians—Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades—battled the Titans. Hades provided their means of defeating the Titans with his creation, the Kraken. After the Titans’ defeat, Zeus created land-animals (including humans) and ruled them while Poseidon ruled the sea and its creatures. But Zeus deceived Hades and forced him to rule the Underworld. Zeus and his fellow gods on Mount Olympus rely on the prayers of humans to sustain their power.

Millennia later, a fisherman named Spyros finds a coffin adrift in the sea. In it are infant Perseus and his dead mother, Danaë. Spyros raises Perseus as his own son. Years later, the adult Perseus and his family are fishing when they witness a group of soldiers from Argos destroying a massive statue of Zeus as a declaration of war against the Gods. Hades takes the form of harpies to massacre the soldiers. In the battle, Perseus’ family’s fishing boat is destroyed, killing all except Perseus. The surviving soldiers take Perseus back to Argos. During a feast for the returning soldiers, King Kepheus and Queen Cassiopeia of Argos compare themselves and their daughter Andromeda to the Aphrodite, much to their daughter’s dismay. Having convinced Zeus to punish Argos, Hades appears in the courtroom, kills the remaining soldiers and ages Cassiopeia to the brink of death. Recognizing that Perseus is the Demigod son of Zeus, Hades threatens that if Princess Andromeda is not sacrificed to the Kraken, Argos will be destroyed in ten days. Hermes, the Messenger God, informs Zeus that Perseus is in Argos and suggests offering him sanctuary. Zeus refuses.

The King imprisons Perseus because he will not fight with Argos against the gods. Io, a woman who does not age as punishment for refusing to be seduced by the God Ares, reveals to Perseus’s true lineage: in order to punish King Acrisius for his war on the Gods, Zeus seduced Danaë while disguised as Acrisius and impregnated her. When Acrisius set Danaë and the baby Perseus adrift in their coffin, an enraged Zeus struck Acrisius with lightning, leaving him hideously disfigured. After learning that killing the Kraken would allow him to have his revenge against Hades, whom he blames for Spyros’s death, Perseus agrees to lead Argos’ finest soldiers embark on a quest to find the Stygian Witches. They are joined by a pair of hunters named Ozal and Kucuk; Io follows as well. Hades finds Acrisius, now called Calibos, and reveals his plan to use the Kraken to destroy Argos and thereby weaken Zeus and gain his revenge for his betrayal after the Titan battle. Hades imbues Calibos with superhuman powers in order to kill Perseus.

While in the woods, Perseus discovers a sword forged in Olympus, as well as Zeus’ sacred herd of flying horses, the Pegasus. However, Perseus refuses both the sword—which only he can use—and Pegasus that the Gods were offering as assistance, as he does not wish to become a God. Calibos attacks the group and tries to murder Perseus, is forced to flee after Draco cuts off his hand. However, Calibos’ blood forms giant scorpions from the sand that attack Perseus and his group. Though they slay several scorpions, most of the group are slain, and the survivors are surrounded by more of the monsters. They are saved by the Djinn, a band of shamans once human, who have turned themselves into the Demons of Arabian mythology by replacing their earthly flesh with ash and stone, thus making them immortal. The mysterious beings are able to hypnotize the scorpions into submission. Though not trusted prior to healing Perseus’ wound, the Djinn leader, Sheikh Sulieman, joins Perseus’ group as the Djinn also wish to see the Gods overthrown.

The heroes arrive at Garden of Stygia, learning from the Stygian Witches that the head of the Gorgon Medusa could kill the Kraken by turning it to stone. When they tell Perseus his group will die in the process, all of the Djinn except for Suleiman to leave them. Perseus is visited by Zeus who offers him asylum on Mount Olympus, but he refuses. Zeus gives him instead a golden drachma, which Perseus later learns is a means to bribe Charon for passage into the Underworld. In the battle with Medusa, only Perseus survives to behead her. Emerging from the Underworld, Perseus sees Calibos stab Io from behind. Perseus kills him using the sword from Olympus, which restores Acrisius to human form. Perseus stays with the dying Io until she passes on and flies away in gold dust to Olympus. He then rides Pegasus back to Argos with Medusa’s head to find some of Argos’ citizens have formed a Cult of Hades and are planning to sacrifice Andromeda to the Kraken. As the Kraken is released, Hades reveals to Zeus that the destruction of Argos will give him enough power to overthrow the other Olympians, but Zeus reveals Perseus is still alive in Argos.

Although Hades tries to use his harpies to kill Perseus, he uses the head of Medusa to turn the Kraken into stone and rescue Andromeda. He then uses the sword of Olympus, amplified by with Zeus’ lightning, to banish Hades back to the Underworld. Andromeda asks Perseus to become king of Argos, but he declines. Zeus again offers Perseus sanctuary, but Perseus rejects this as well. Warning that Hades will someday return, Zeus resurrects Io and disappears.

REVIEW:

Let’s get one thing out of the way…as any avid read of this blog knows, I HATE REMAKES!!!! However, Clash of the Titans didn’t leave me feeling dirty the way that the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still did.

If I wouldn’t have known this was a remake of the early 80s classic Clash of the Titans, then I might have actually liked it a bit more…maybe. As it is, though, this remake does what they all do, and that is take out the fun and whimsy that makes the original so great and replace with darker, more depressing themes and CGI effects.

For instance, let’s take Perseus, in the original, he is a prideful, reluctant hero, as he is here, but not so much that he refuses assistance from the Gods which inadvertently causes the death of some soldiers. That is some of today’s thinking, where we don’t want help from anyone. Also, would it have hurt these people to use Bebo? Come on, seriously, the mechanical owl was one of the best parts of the original, yet they totally eradicated his character, except for a quick cameo near the beginning, which sort of felt like they were making fun of it. I’m assuming they meant Io to replace him, and while she was an upgrade in terms of looks and all, she just doesn’t compare.

Continuing with the lack of whimsy, one of the biggest things that I felt was missing was the chess game the gods play with the humans in the original. Where was this? I read that the filmmaker thought this was stupid and juvenile. WTF?!? They need to get over themselves. The game was severely missed, as it played more of an integral part to the plot than one would imagine until it is gone.

I also have to wonder where were the statues that came to life and spoke? Let me guess, the filmmakers thought this would have been too unrealistic, right? As if a the Kraken, Medusa, and just about everything else is real. Ugh!

I can’t comment on the 3D conversion of this film, as I say it in the comfort of my own home, as opposed to in the theaters, but I hear that it actually looks better in 2D.

Let me just touch on the plot here for a second, it is not the same as the original, but from my understanding, it is closer to the source material. You can make the case that is a good or bad thing. For me, it didn’t work. I’m of the belief that if you’re going to change stuff, then change it, don’t change select parts and leave the rest the same. That would be like putting a brand new modern tires on an old car while you just get refurbished parts for the rest of it. Sure it may work, but there is just something odd about the whole thing. That is the same feeling this film brought me. 

On top of that, the whole Calibos this seem to have been taken out. I mean, he’s in there, but it only for like two scenes, the one where he’s introduced and the other where he attacks the soldiers…oh, and there’s the last one where he and Perseus have their final confrontation. Much different than the original where he is THE major villain.

The action scenes here are a true highlight of the film, to be sure, but they seem…I dunno…a bit too rehearsed. Sort of like a fight you would see on a theater stage, as opposed to just a rough and tumble brawl, especially the whole Medusa scene. That just felt like an elaborate dance.

Speaking of Medusa, and pretty much all the creatures in this flick, you can say that CGI is better than stop-motion animation, but I will not agree with you. There is just something to stop-motion that makes it better, perhaps it is the fact that someone actually took the time to work with their hands instead of just moving a mouse around pressing some buttons.

The Kraken didn’t impress me the way it should have. I mean, this thing is supposed to be a big bad creature that strikes fear in the hearts of men. Now, I’m not talking about the fact that it is CGI, because the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean films had no issue with that, but rather the fact that they had this thing in the first trailer for the film. What makes the Kraken such a force is its mystique. In the original film, you barely hear about it, except for a mention in the beginning that sends them on the quest for Medusa’s head. I think this Kraken was a victim of the studios desperate attempt to gain a fanbase for this film. As we all know, people like me who hate remakes, are not likely to see their favorite films bastardized if they can help it.

The cast of this film is ok, but not great.

I’m not sure if I agree with having such great actors as Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes in such medial roles. Well, Neeson is filling the shoes of Sir Laurence Olivier, but Fiennes seems like he’s still in Voldemort mode, but without the makeup. Nothing wrong with that, but this is a totally different character, can’t he come up with different mannerisms?

Sam Worthington seems to be the new go-to action star. The problem is, this guy seems to play the same character. I mean, he played Perseus the same way he played Jake Sulley in Avatar. The only difference is that he was speaking with his natural Australian accent. I didn’t know that the Greeks spoke like that, did you?

Gemma Arterton light up the screen everytime she appears as Io, the beautiful protector of Perseus. Her performance leaves a bit to be desired, though, but seeing as how, as I said earlier, she is replacing a mechanical owl for the most part, I can overlook that, not to mention, she is drop dead gorgeous.

I went into this film with an open mind, but this remake further proves why I think they need to stop making them. The love for the original is there, as is the respect for those of us that share that affection, since they tried to keep much of the original story, however, the changes they made ruined the whole story and made a completely different, unenjoyable film. If not for the action scenes, which aren’t as good as some would have you believe, this thing would be much worse than it is. Having said that, it doesn’t suck, and I won’t lose any respect for you if you decide to check it out. My personal recommendation, though, is to stick to much more enjoyable original, rather than this subpar, average, bastard offspring of it. Can you belive they’re making a sequel to this mess?

3 out of 5 stars

Avatar

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 2154 AD, humans are engaged in the colonization of Pandora, the lush moon of Polyphemus, one of three gas giants that orbit Alpha Centauri A, 4.3 light years from Earth. Pandora is filled with incredible life forms, and is home to the Na’vi, an indigenous sentient humanoid race who are considered primitive by human standards, yet are more physically capable than them. The Na’vi are tailed, slender creatures with sparkling blue skin, standing three meters tall. They live in harmony with their unspoiled world, which the humans have found to be rich with unobtainium,a valuable mineral that is essential to remedying an economic and energy crisis that is gripping Earth.

Humans are unable to breathe the Pandoran atmosphere; in order to interact with the Na’vi, human scientists have created genetically engineered human-Na’vi hybrid bodies called Avatars, and use them to interact with the natives and gain their trust for a relocating operation. A human who shares genetic material with the avatar can be mentally linked to it, allowing them to control its functions and experience what it experiences, while their own body sleeps. The story’s protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is a former U.S. Marine who was wounded and paralyzed from the waist down in combat on Earth. His twin brother Tony was a scientist working on the Avatar program; when he is killed, Jake is extended the opportunity to take his brother’s place, as he shares Tony’s genetic material and is therefore compatible with his avatar.

Jake travels to Pandora, and assumes control of his avatar body, delighted at being able to walk and run once again as a whole being. Sent deep into Pandora’s jungles as a scout for the soldiers that will follow, Jake encounters many of Pandora’s beauties and dangers. There he meets a young Na’vi female, Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), who teaches him the ways of her people: the Omaticaya clan of the Na’vi. Despite having originally been sent to gain the trust of natives, and convince them to abandon their Hometree, which sits above a large deposit of unobtanium, Jake finds himself caught between the military-industrial forces of Earth, and his love for his adopted home and people. He is forced to choose sides as the humans grow increasingly violent in their mining activities, and the oppressed Na’vi rise up to protect their home, resulting in an epic battle that will decide the fate of an entire race.

REVIEW:

Avatar is, above all, something different to come out in theaters. What’s different about it? Well, it’s not based on a comic book, novel, foreign film, musical, and most importantly…IT IS NOT A REMAKE!!!!  I guess you could say the most refreshing thing about it is that it is…now brace yourself for this…*GASP* an original idea!

James Cameron apparently has had this story in his head since he was a young boy. The fantastical world of the Na’vi that he has created rival that of Oz, Wonderland, and other wonderous worlds we’ve seen on film.

Let’s get the bad parts out of the way first…At 3 hrs long, this film is a bit lengthy. Sometimes 3 hrs can work for a film, and other times it works against it. Avatar suffers from the latter. Although the special effects are nothing short of spectacular, and the scenery is breathtaking, the film itself drags on and has the lull in the middle that I can’t stand. It even gets a bit preachy during this period, which makes it worse.

It seems apparent that Netyri knows that Jake is not a Na’vi, but it is never fully reveled to the audience until the plot thickens after the film’s apex. I would have liked for the filmmakers to have either made it clear that she does or doesn’t know. That goes for the entire tribe…with the exception of Mo’at, she should know based on her role in the tribe being similar to that of a medicine woman.

Speaking of tribes…I was under the impression that there was only one giant tribe on planet Pandora, but at the end of the film, all of a sudden there are tribes popping up all over the place. Now, I’m not saying they should have been made known at film’s beginning or anything like that, but rather, they could/should have been mentioned during Jake’s learning period. I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one that thinks that, though.

Finally, when it is revealed Jake is a traitor, they leave him to die, but do everything they can for Grace, even after they had just had her hanging for crimes against the tribe. This is very minor, but it just seemed a bit weird that not five minutes before she was a criminal and then she is forgiven.

Also regarding Sigourney Weaver’s avatar…she looks like Sigourney Weaver in blue makeup. For some reason, her face wasn’t altered. I’m not sure why this was, but my belief is that she was an early model avatar, before they perfected the process.

On the positive side, the special effects are gorgeous. The luminating forest took my breath away. You could even go so far as to say the scenery is another star of this film.

If I was an actor in Hollywood, I’d be a little worried. It seems to be that the trend is to motion capture, or whatever the word is, your movements, rather than actually cast you. Take for instance Zoe Saldana. She plays Netyri, but unless you pay close attention, you would never know. Sure she’s has her recognizable movements, but you just know that had this been done with her in makeup, she’d be more recognizable. That being said, they did a smashing job making her look like herself, only as a Na’vi.

Sci-fi films of late have been known for making stars. If this picture ends up being as big as they think it’ll be, then Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington will be on their way to bigger and better things.

Someone brought this up in their review of this film last night, and I would like to touch in it briefly….Michelle Rodriguez is actually playing a character with a heart. Shocked? I know I was. Usually, she plays these hard characters with a hidden agenda. On top of that, she seemed a bit cuter, and dare I say it…HOT! Amazing what a change in attitude can do for someone, right?

Stephen Lang is downright scary as the colonel in charge of everything. On top of that, this old man is built, which made him more intimidating. I was almost expecting him to rip his skin off and reveal that he’s some sort of renegade Na’vi hellbent on destroying his own kind.

Music usually sets the tone for any film, no matter the genre, and James Horner’s dramatic, moving score doesn’t fail to deliver here. Then again, when has he ever failed to create a moving score?

One  of the most talked about films not to come out during the summer, Avatar has all the makings of a summer blockbuster, but with the added factor of making the audience actually think. James Cameron talked excessively about how this picture was going to revolutionize and change the way movies are made. I just didn’t see it. As a matter of fact, I’m a little upset that I paid the extra $1.50 for the 3D glasses. There were plenty of places 3D could have been used to its maximum potential, but just wasn’t. Heck, the previews took more advantage of it than the actual film. Having said that, though, it is worth the time and money to go see this in the theaters. I may have been a little disappointed with the 3D, but I belive that was more due to the hype. This is not a “game changing” film that way Cameron wanted it to be, but it is a very well made picture and something he and all that were part of it, should be proud to have been associated with. There is already talk of a sequel. As long as it doesn’t fall of from the quality of this one, or take away from the story, then I’m not complaining.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars